July 08, 2020

The Racist Legacy of Brigham Young


The Mormon church this year has been trying to move away from the word "Mormon", despite their recent "I am a Mormon" giant advertising campaign.

LDSBC was recently renamed to Ensign College: https://www.ldsbc.edu/lds-business-college-announces-name-change-and-other-significant-adjustments

The name they should really be running away from: Brigham Young.

Monuments to racists are coming down all over the south. Here in Utah, the same should happen with statues of Brigham Young.

Schools with his name should be renamed too.
Mormonism was less racist before he became the leader. One of the biggest examples is the priesthood ban that meant that black people were denied temple ordinances. You know, the saving ordinances that you can't get into heaven without? That was started under Brigham Young.

For context, he was big on blackness being a curse and the mark of Cain.

“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so. The nations of the earth have transgressed every law that God has given, they have changed the ordinances and broken every covenant made with the fathers, and they are like a hungry man that dreameth that he eateth, and he awaketh and behold he is empty.”
-Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, v. 10, p. 110

“You can see men and women who are sixty or seventy years of age looking young and handsome; but let them apostatize, and they will become gray-haired, wrinkled and black, just like the Devil.”
-Prophet Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 5:332~

“I have this section in my hand, headed “An Act in Relation to African Slavery.” I have read it over and made a few alterations. I will remark with regard to slavery, inasmuch as we believe in the Bible, inasmuch as we believe in the ordinances of God, in the Priesthood and order and decrees of God, we must believe in slavery. This colored race have been subjected to severe curses, which they have in their families and their classes and in their various capacities brought upon themselves. And until the curse is removed by Him who placed it upon them, they must suffer under its consequences; I am not authorized to remove it. I am a firm believer in slavery.”
-A speech by Governor Brigham Young in Joint Session of the Legislature, January 23, 1852: 3 (https://archive.org/details/CR100317B0001F0014)

"H.G. — What is the position of your Church with respect to Slavery?
B.Y. — We consider it of Divine institution, and not to be abolished until the curse pronounced on Ham shall have been removed from his descendants.
H.G. — Are there any slaves now held in this Territory?
B.Y. — There are."
-Brigham Young Interview by Horace Greeley (New York Tribune editor), ‘Two Hours With Brigham Young’, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 13, 1859 (https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/MStar/id/23441)

"Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood, and the law of God."
-Excerpt from a talk by Brigham Young, in the Bowery, Salt Lake City, August 19, 1866 (https://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/digital/collection/JournalOfDiscourses3/id/4487)

April 08, 2020


I started reading "Daring Greatly" by Brene Brown last night (turns out reading a book before bed is less stressful than reading news. Who knew?). Now I have all sorts of thoughts about shame buzzing around in my brain.

Shame is complicated.

Shame makes it hard to talk about failure. Shame makes it hard to talk about fear. Shame makes it hard to admit our faults to ourselves, let alone admit them to other people, and that makes it hard for us to improve those faults or get over those fears or confront those failures. It makes us feel like we're unworthy.

Humans use shame a lot. Religions teach people to feel shame from a young age. Internet shaming is a real and powerful thing. "So You've Been Publicly Shamed" is a book I read about a year ago that goes over the damage an internet mob can do when they want to shame someone. I don't know if there are good uses of shame, but I don't think using shame to manipulate human behavior is a good thing.

So to me, it's like there are two sides to shame. The shame I feel and the shame I dish out to the world. I want less of it in both cases.

I want to work past shame so I can be a more vulnerable person. I want to show more humanity, especially on social media. But it's hard. Even writing this post I feel protective of myself. I only want to share things I'm proud of, not my fears and failures.

I also want to try and stop using shame. That's hard because I don't really understand how shame pop can up in human interactions or what habits I might have that contribute to making other people feel shame. Maybe Brene Brown can help shed more light on that for me. Guess I'll find out!

March 11, 2020

Which Version of the First Vision?

This April's general conference is bringing up all sorts of bad feelings for me. It's going to be a celebration of the founding story of Mormonism, the First Vision, where Joseph Smith received inspiration not to join any of the existing churches and instead create his own. The way the church handles their telling of the First Vision is a good example of why I feel the Mormon church is dishonest. They only tell one version of the story. I learned about the different versions as a senior in high school. I felt betrayed and lied to because I had never been taught about the different versions or even heard about them in church. 

 Are they going to discuss the different versions of the first vision that Joseph Smith wrote in this general conference? The conference is going to be over 8 hours long. SURELY there is time to discuss the different accounts? My guess at what they will actually do is that they will mention that the other versions exist, but they will gloss over the details. They won't present anything that would challenge the version they have been presenting for years and will make it sound like there is nothing significant about the differences between versions.