Blacks in Mormonism: Dr. Marcus Martins’ View on Racism in the Latter-day Saint Church as a Religious Professor (Part 3)

Todd Noall

Todd Noall

Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Blacks in Mormonism: Marcus Martins View on Racism

More often we see that racists or their enablers allow their religious tenets to be polluted by racist views, which then gain multi-generational permanence because of their acquired sealed doctrinal status. Now, what does the Lord have to say about this? Well, then let’s go to the scriptures to see what the Lord has to say about blacks in Mormonism. And of course, some of you could be saying, oh yeah, Brother Martins, you could read doctrine and Covenants that the Lord said that, oh, the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. Yes, true.

What the Scriptures Say

But let’s start with way back in the time of Enoch, in very ancient times, we find in the parole of the great price in the book of Moses a conversation between the Lord and Enoch. ‘And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people and he wept. And the Lord said to Enoch, behold this thy brethren, they are the workmanship of my own hands. And I gave unto them commandment that they should love one another, that they should choose me, their father. But behold, they are without affection and they hate their own blood.’

God weeps for these situations, for violence, for all kinds of wickedness, including racism, because they hate their own blood.

One of the things that science, racist scientists from hundreds of years ago have been trying to do is to dehumanize certain groups, racial groups. And apparently Black Africans were at the bottom of the totem pole, to the point that some of them were arguing for the last couple of centuries that Negroes, as they called them, they were not humans, they were subhuman. There were religious leaders in Christian religion saying that, yeah, they were probably Negroes, are probably the descendants of the beast. They’re not descendants of Adam and Eve. They’re descendants of the beasts they’re created. They hate their own blood. 

Now, in this dispensation, the Lord told the prophet Jospeh Smith the following, ‘let every man see his brother has himself, and practice virtue and holiness before me. And again I say unto you, let every man esteem his brother has himself. What man among you having twelve sons and is no respecter of them? And they serve him obediently?’

‘He saith unto the one, be thou clothing robes, and sit down here. And to the other, Be thou clothing rags, and sit down there and look upon his sons and says, I’m just behold, this I have given unto you as a parable. And it is even as I am, I say unto you, be one. And if you are not one, you’re not mine.’

It’s interesting that the Lord uses here the verb to esteem, his brother to esteem. The dictionary says to set a high value on, to regard highly and prize that person accordingly. To esteem also is to think, to consider, to believe, to appraise. The Lord wants us to esteem one another, to consider one another as we consider ourselves, to value one another as we value ourselves, including blacks in Mormonism. Those are the Lord’s commandments. And when we don’t do that and we hate others, or we dismiss others, we violate the Lord’s desire and expectation.

Issues with Brigham Young

Now, let me address some of the current questions. I know some of you want to know my opinion, my position on some of the questions that are currently taking place in the United States. First of all, on changing names recently there was question about, well, should we change the name of Brigham Young University and call something else? Well, me personally, I look at it and say, look, Brigham Young University. BYU is a name brand widely recognized around the world. I saw that when I was in the People’s Republic of China when I said was introducing myself to a distinguished scholar there.

And I said, ‘oh, I’m from Brigham Young’. Before I said Hawaii, he shook my hand and said, ‘BYU! BYU!’ Well, they like BYU here. Now, there is also the matter of, okay, president Brigham Young was and still is whatever he is in the spirit world in postmortal earth, a true prophet of the Lord.

I have a testimony of that. I love many of his teachings. Most of them, however, brother Brigham Young was, but very likely no longer is a man of the 19th century. I don’t think it is fair to expect and I you some of you heard me say this before I don’t think it is fair to expect that 170 years ago he would have had the same social consciousness of a Martin Luther King, Jr. Should also have problems with the name and with Brigham Young. I would say, be patient. In about 80 years or so, you will meet Brigham Young in person and you can give him an ear full or maybe by then you will be like me and say, ‘oh, gee, forget about it.’ It’s between him and the Lord. And I’ll come back to that in a couple of minutes.

Final Thoughs on Priesthood Restrictions

Now, there are those who, because of the priesthood restriction, the restriction that President Brigham Young imposed ordaining Black men or men with Black African ancestry to the principal in the church that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should issue an apology for me and other blacks in Mormonism. I don’t want apology. I just want the blessings associated with the covenants, with eternal covenants that I have made with God and my wife. And I want those blessings because of the mercy of Jesus Christ and the power of his atonement. That’s what I want.

By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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