At my arrival to Temple Square, Salt Lake City, Utah (bucket list item to talk to someone from the Church of Latter Day Saints aka LDS ), some of my fellow travelers were snickering about some kids next to us, as we realized that a marriage ceremony was just wrapping up. Upon further inspection, one of the “kids” they were snickering about was a newly-wed bride. That girl was 18 years old (one of the nosy female travelers asked), but she was concerned because the girl looked like she was 14. Many people were discussing rumors of child brides of pre-teen ages, being married to old, wealthy men. Well I didn’t see the Groom, and I’m sure they didn’t either, but the talk was out there now. They referenced child brides in being huge in LDS Mormonism and were disgusted. The reference they gave was a TV Show called “Big Love“, which was featured on HBO, years ago. The show involved a 14-year-old married to a man over 50 years of age, who was kidnapped and forced to marry that old man, and she was just 1 in a line of other wives. Now, the TV show copied pieces of a story that made the news about Warren Jeffs, but these people didn’t reference that news event, they referenced the TV show for their opinions being shaped but that 1 situation doesn’t mean that’s happening everywhere. I couldn’t believe that these people were judging Mormons merely on a damn fictional TV show (and then wondered what horrible things did they envision about me based on TV shows), so I stayed around to investigate Temple Square, while some others left and went back to the hotel. The ladies went on about plural marriage aka polygamy, but how true was the TV show to real life? Here is how true it is, not very much so, it’s FICTION!!! Trust me, I asked about this while in Utah, to real Mormons everywhere. My fellow travelers mentioned many negative things, most of which I hadn’t known, and I’m sure they didn’t verify either, but they seemed in agreement. I was surprised by the number of negative stories of Mormons, by people from all walks of life. I began to wonder if all of the negative rumors about LDS Mormonism were true, in particular, the racial treatment of “Minorities”, in particular Blacks, and there was a real case there, which I’ll explain shortly. Years ago, I remembered reading stories about Blacks not having the best time out in Mormon-rich Utah- with the exception of maybe NBA-great Karl Malone (his huge elbows). I also remembered the stories of several Student-Athletes like Brandon Davies, at Brigham Young University (bka BYU), the famed Mormon university, and their punishment of Blacks (in particular) having pre-marital sex with his girlfriend. It’s against the Honor Code to have sex or do things like drink alcohol, which I know personally is what makes a bulk of male, Student-Athletes even join a team in the first place. Most of the harshest punishments were dealt to Black athletes who violated the agreement, but was that deliberate? Hormones are all over the place in college, and women are just swarming you as a top player, so things will go down! However, it was uncovered that a bulk of the penalties against violators of the Honor Code (which is a signed pledge when entering the school) of BYU, were unfairly given out to minorities vs non-minorities, so much so that the stories reached all the way over to the East Coast, where I saw it on the news. Breaking the Honor Code hurt these kids’ futures, but they’re young, they should be able to atone for their sins, as any stable religion should allow, right?
I discussed these issues with 2 women with me (both WELL VERSED in all of the controversies of Utah), on the way there, and they also knew of this and referenced what you can read here. Racial stereotypes would lead you to say Blacks just want some white girl sex all of the time, but the reality was revealed, which proved that BYU penalized Blacks more than Whites. I began to wonder, “just how do Blacks figure into LDS Mormonism, considering it started in times of Slavery in the USA? How could it be a message about God and love for people, but not address the conditions Blacks lived in at the time?” I was filled with all kinds of curiosity, at that point, all I knew (at the point) of LDS Mormonism was that it was a cult with a false prophet, false God, it was highly racist, it supported polygamy and it allowed for Child-rape in the form of child marriage. How did I learn this negativity, when I grew up nowhere near any Mormons, on the complete opposite side of the USA, in a pre-Internet age? As everyone did then, and still do, we let the American media educated us about people whom we don’t understand, nor know at all. I started to document some of the things I learned while in Temple Square, from talking to employees and devoted people of the Mormon faith.
Hanging with the LDS
If you’re ever in Utah, you can’t NOT go to Salt Lake City, just because you have a religious disagreement with the Mormon belief. You cannot visit Utah without going to the famed Temple Square section of Salt Lake City. I told people that I was going to look around and learn about the Mormon faith, and people just laughed. The people I told only knew what the American Media brought up when trying to politically assassinate Mitt Romney (a Mormon) when he was running for President of the USA, the same Mormon guy who decided that the state he governed should have Health Care for its residents, which is the same plan the guy he ran against (Obama) ended up endorsing and implementing. The same Mitt Romney who completely denounced Donald Trump and highlighted how evil Trump was, way before Trump ended up exposing himself fully. I’m not a Mitt Romney fan, but honestly, how evil could Mitt Romney really be, given what his actions demonstrated, honestly? The American Media laughed at his big family. When did that become a bad thing? If he can financially support his family 100 times over yet the people laughing at him can’t even afford the 1 bedroom apartment they live in with their spouse and 2 offspring? The negative press about Romney didn’t add up. Then the media dropped the bombshell, which the people I told about my trip echoed, that the Mormons hated African Americans and banned them from their religion, which wasn’t completely true, as I’ll get into shortly. There was a LOT to unpack here, in the line of racism, but I felt that the belief itself is more challenging to understand, because that was also told me in ways that didn’t make any sense, originally. My journey into their history is what brought me out to that part of Utah (instead of simply visiting Zion National Park – which you know I had to do). The negativity surrounding LDS Mormonism was also presented to me by other Christians/Catholics, as a religion which holds child-brides ransom and practices the unholy act of polygamy, and has a false God. Clearly there was a slant to the things I was told about LDS Mormonism out of other religions disagreement with Biblical interpretations (Thanks a LOT Martin Luther (not MLK) ). Conversely, as a youth in USA, they had quite a few positive commercials on the TV LIKE THIS and LIKE THIS, and at the end of the commercial, they mentioned that the message was sponsored by the “The Church of Jesus Christ, Latter Day Saints… the Mormons”. They looked so positive, lives with full, loving families, but I never saw them or their churches anywhere I lived or visited, previously, so I never had to chance to qualify the rumors. Christians told me that the founders of Mormonism wore magical underwear, took multiple wives, some as young as 14 years old, and all of that was revealed as legit to do, to the founder, by word of God himself. You can see how Christians wouldn’t like Mormons, given this, which is why I got that negative slant from them. I always thought it odd that none of these religions have scientifically proven anything in them, it’s all FAITH, so why couldn’t Mormonism get the same suspended belief it takes to follow other religions? Because it was created in relatively modern time (as compared to the major religions) that’s why- times we can verify accounts of things happening, times when we don’t even believe things that supposedly happened in the major religions, being possible to happen in. I was told to completely believe Islam, Judaism and Christianity, but not LDS Mormonism, because the events that lead to it, couldn’t possibly be true. Lol Right.
All you want to know about Mormonism can be obtained in Temple Square, as it is 100 percent of the positive promotion of the Mormon faith, and they are extremely meticulous in this effort. The whole Temple Square is completely spotless, completely maintained, the buildings are all very well maintained, nothing stained, not even 1 stone looked weathered, just spotless. There are various representatives scattered about, of both sexes, many nations, and ethnicities, ready to take people in and preach the word of the Book of Mormon. Temple Square got its start from Western Pioneers moving to present-day Salt Lake City, who wanted to dedicate a temple to their God, in 1847, after a bit of a rough start out east. Initially, the religion was started by its creator, Joseph Smith, in 1820s New York. Smith was initially from Vermont when he made the Book of Mormon (the Bible for the Mormons) he was 24 years old. The story goes that he saw both God and Jesus, then some angels directed him to a buried book made of golden plates (whom only 3 people witnessed allegedly), detailing the existence of an ancient “American” civilization (that wasn’t Native American for some reason) and the pure word of God. Who translated the plates, who witnessed Smith with the plates and how he even found them seems to be a sore spot for some tellers of the origin story if asked- mostly due to hesitation to deal with the questioners’ attitude towards the religion. The translations of these golden plates are what became the text of the Book of Mormon, so without believing in them, you have no religion. The plates would be really heavy, so how did he transport them so far away? But that’s what faith is, suspended belief. Smith then created the Church of Latter-Day Saints and grew his brand of Christianity. The Mormons were chased out of Ohio, then Missouri then ended up in Illinois under Smith. Smith settled in Illinois, where he was a mayor in Nauvoo, Illinois (you see “Nauvoo” referenced a lot there). He ordered the destruction of facilities producing a paper which criticized LDS Mormonism’s marital practices and Smith being a cult leader, ignoring the First Amendment of the Constitution, Freedom of the Press. That didn’t sit well with locals, a mob of 200 people in black-face, who came for him (and his brother), broke into the jail, and murdered them both. They Smiths are considered Martyrs for their story, and Joseph himself was actually poised to run for President of USA. The locals obviously were fearful of his power, and antics, while Mayor, and tried to end his run. Smith hadn’t been well received from the start, and it also didn’t sit well that at 37 years of age, he took the 14-year-old bride Helen Mar Kimball, when he already had other wives. Here was the real rub, that was heavily frowned upon by the America society. Combine all of that, a lot of heat was on LDS Mormonism, due to Smith’s initial actions.
What a HAM
What about the rumors of racism, where did those roots come in? When Mitt Romney ran for President, the American media wanted to keep blacks from voting for Romney by referencing that the Mormon Church was racist and wouldn’t allow Blacks in. That wasn’t completely true. A Mormon guide informed me of the history. Smith wrote a verse in the “Doctrine in Covenant“, section 101 (verse 79), where it says “Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another” where Smith denounced slavery in the USA, something that the many Christians in the USA would NOT do, at the time. Christianity/Catholicism was used to justify Slavery in all of the Americas, so why the bad rap only for Mormonism? Mormons put out a newsletter which seemed to invite Blacks to join the Mormons and supported the abolition of Slavery in America. This caused a HUGE backlash by Americans, and even while the church tried to backtrack, it wasn’t enough. The Mormons in Missouri were violently run out of town. Smith put verse 79 in his doctrine at that time too. The LDS had to assure the USA that they would not try to convert any Slaves, or interfere with Slavery in any way, which was legal and common practice in the USA, so they put that a statement they released, to ease tension brought on themselves for not supporting Slavery. The same guy who wrote that newsletter caused more of a stir when he made a play-off of the Curse of Cain, similar to what Protestants used to justify the hatred and Slavery of Black People and justify the Civil War’s stance in the South about Slavery. Along with the story of Noah, and his son Ham, who went into Noah’s tent while Noah was naked and drunk, then raped his father or did something sexual with Noah was passed out drunk (interpretations are not clear on exactly what sexual act actually happened). THIS IS IN THE BIBLE, DON’T BLAME ME for writing this! It’s the Book of Genesis! Why they would write in a sick story like that? Lord knows. Canaan is the son of Ham and Canaan is cursed by being cast into slavery. To many religious people, this is their biblical explanation for BLACK SKIN ON PEOPLE OF THE EARTH AND BLACKS BEING ENSLAVED, because of Noah’s biblical, pornographic story. Instead of questioning why that dumb story was put in the texts, religious people just went fully with the whole “blacks are evil and cursed” plot-line. But the curse was for SLAVERY, and many Europeans (whites) were made slaves too, so, how did it make the jump to BLACKS?
The Curse of Cain supposedly cursed the world with black skin too, so the LDS INVENTED yet another curse story, the Curse of Ham. In the Mormon story, Ham was created as a black, and so was his wife, so they spread the disease of blackness through their son Canaan (another black hated figure), and they are descendants of Cain, from the Curse of Cain fame. The LDS’ story on that Curse of Ham is what put Mormonism in the racial-zone officially, but they were not the ONLY religion saying that Blacks were cursed and Slavery was the punishment. Jews, Muslims, and Christians all believed the same thing to explain Black skin in the world and why the Slavery to Blacks was justified- GOOGLE THOSE CURSES! USA Christianity was always divided by race, and why is Jesus with blue eyes and blond hair? Anyone striking down LDS Mormonism for early racial controversy need look at their own religion’s history. The kicker is that there is no mention of any of this curse, race or skin color of Ham in the Bible, yet ALL of these religions believed this explanation of/for Blacks!!!! To top that off, Joseph Smith didn’t say blacks couldn’t join, he was cautious about the enslaved blacks joining, due to that backlash he received, and explained away slavery with that Curse of Ham story his priest conjured up. Smith is confusing because Smith allowed Blacks to become priests, and he was an Abolitionist, he didn’t believe in slavery. However, to get more members and take heat off of himself, when he was Mayor in Illinois, he had to ban blacks from having voting rights, from holding office and from interracial marriage, as he tried to “fit in” and get the American public off of his back. This accounts for his “flip” on Slavery. It’s argued that this was all a local, political front, and he had to completely denounce abolition of Slavery mentality, publicly, and in-turn got slave owners to join his Church, along with all of their slaves. But when Smith was lining up to be President, the guy ran on the platform for the Government to buy the freedom of the Slaves, and set them free!!! Who would run on a platform of that, unless he was seriously against Slavery? You can understand why 200 men came for him, and he met his death, considering how much of a noble person he was ultimately trying to be, in the face of adversity.
The 1857 Curse of (Brig)HAM
With Smith being a strong Abolitionist, and also with the Martyring of the Smiths via their murders, at the hands of the Illinois mob, this leads to the LDS remaining strong, despite the heavy adversity. The church continued to grow and ultimately move to Utah, brought there by a man named Brigham Young (aka American Moses), the successor to Smith as President of the Church of LDS. He moved his follower across the USA so they referred to him as Moses. He was very instrumental in a lot of development in the Western USA as a Pioneer, from education to politics to business to religion. 1850, the US Congress created the territory of Utah and President Fillmore appointed Young the Governor. Young was no Smith though. Young discouraged all non-Mormons from moving to Utah, and made sure there was no separation of Church and State, this was the start to mass negativity towards Mormons, and the departure from Smith’s welcoming type of mentality. Young took the problems that existed with the LDS, amplified them a thousand times, he is the one charged with the most negative press which exists to today, not Smith. He had 3 top controversies under him: “Mountain Meadow Massacre”, “Utah War” and banning of Blacks from LDS Mormonism. The Mountain Meadows Massacre was an attack on innocent emigrant wagon trains, in which Mormon killed 140 innocent people (killed them to assure no witnesses and retaliation against Mormons) attempting to cross through (not settle in) Utah. Mormons made the wagon train people surrender after 5 days of battle, and then slaughtered them all, with exception of a few kids too young to tell anyone what happened, so the Mormon stole those kids and made them Mormons. Many people thought that White Settlers just all got along, but just like the claims against Native Americas attacking each other in land-grab disputes, the same happened with White Settlers against other White Settlers who didn’t just all get along– GOOGLE THAT! This is America’s worst attack on White Settlers and it was RARE for Native Americans to attack ANY SETTLERS because they were mostly FORCED ON RESERVATIONS, were heavy in trading, out of the way, to make room for Settlers. Oregon/California trails wouldn’t have been possible without Shoshone/Pawnee maps! But you damn well best steer clear of Mormons back then! Mormons were violently driven out of Missouri, headed out to Utah, and now here come all of these damn wagons from Independence, Missouri right after the Mormons, carrying the same people who drove them out. OH Hell no!?!- GOOGLE THAT! Hollywood is responsible for making Native Americans look like enemies, even though they would have been in their right to defend their land being stolen. The Mormons have had bloody confrontations everywhere they traveled. Mormons were heavily armed under Young, and very confrontational. Young got the Mormons in a huge confrontation with the US Government and Army, in Utah, resulting in the “Utah War*“. Young did basically a hostile take-over while Governor of Utah. He raided, stole records and burned books of judges’ offices, a judge who was an excommunicated Mormon, poisoned that judge’s predecessor, which lead the judges to complain to the US Government about obstructions to justice. Young bullied the law. Word got out in the US and although divided North Vs South (pre-Civil War) both sides agreed that Mormons had to go, no inquiry into the incident was needed (a little bias there)! The US sent Army to help remove Young as Governor, and to put in a few new appointees, to bring order back to Utah. Mormons attacked the US Military to prevent this and left the military crippled in the heavy snow of Winter, as the Utah War began- which ended with Young backing down.
To add extra character to Young, he decided that Blacks could not hold the priesthood in the Church and banned them. Young’s Mormons heavily supported Slavery of Blacks and had many slave owners as members of the Church. These members loaned Slaves to the Church, so the Mormons used Slave labor, under Young. He took to heart that Curse of Cain and Curse of Ham controversy that was created during the Smith era. While Young was at war with the US, he threw the racism decision in there for extra measure. Smith had already allowed some Blacks to become priests, some of them became very famous, but then Young decided that no more blacks could be priests, and couldn’t participate in any rites of the temples. Those 3 controversies highlighted Mormonism, all transpiring in 1857. While Smith welcomed Blacks as equals in his Church, Young decided that White Privilege was to be instituted in the Church now, and only after Whites received all of God’s blessings and positions in the church, could the Curse of Cain be lifted for blacks to have any importance to the LDS. Young was quoted as saying “all the other children of Adam have the privilege of receiving the Priesthood, and of coming into the kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received their resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity.” The Children of Adam are Whites, and the Seeds of Cain are Blacks in Young’s LDS Mormonism. It was Young who instituted racism in LDS Mormonism, officially, with his creation of his teaching, the Adam-God Doctrine. Young stated that Adam (of Adam and Eve fame) was the father of Whites. Adam was a mortal who was exalted but returned from another planet with Eve (one of Adam’s MANY wives in this story). They became human after eating the fruit of the Garden of Eden. So, according to Young, Adam is GOD, not Jesus or God-God as the rest of us know. Adam became a God and then gave birth to Jesus. How do you think Bible readers would receive that? As a religious figure, some sympathetic people had questions about the treatment of Blacks in America, so Young addressed it, stating: “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.“
So, you see, it was not Smith’s version of Mormonism that was the racist Mormonism, it’s what Young did with it that made it racist by doctrine. Young claims Smith taught him the Adam theory, but the race thing was 100% all the teaching of Young. In Temple Square, Young is celebrated for the progress Mormonism made, especially with developing Utah, and all they have standing there. That Adam-God Doctrine was considered absolute trash by the LDS, in later years, and was thrown out completely! This is an extremely little-known fact! The problem with racism and Mormonism is that the racist rules were kept until 1978, which means it stood as law for 1 hundred and 21 years, and that only happened because of Civil Rights pressure to the LDS. However, they do some PR work about the racism have openly denounced racism in their ranks and will keep literature highlighting this. The Mormons rejected many of the “scientific racism” explanations for Blacks existing in Slavery, and sought to offer their own explanation, should people of faith question why would a loving God allow Blacks to be enslaved and abused. Young used slave labor for his church, so he went extra hard on the explanation of blacks being cursed to this life. The racist explanations for banning blacks from priesthood got even worse after Young’s death. Many publications by LDS proved to be extremely racist after the 1900s, now adopting the scientific racist philosophy, as well, offering many explanations for the value of the life of Blacks.
This trip was an eye-opener, and while I expected to be assaulted by people everywhere I turned if you judged based on what the media has tried to tell me about Mormon habits, nothing happened to me. Actual Mormons did make an extra effort to address anything and everything I presented them to and directed me to where I could get more reading material, to gain more information. Someone down there mentioned that they took child brides down there too, which was also false. As with many things, ignorance about whom you criticize can make its way to becoming “facts” people incorrectly believe about those who were criticized. I felt that I had heard too much negative, and incorrect things about Mormons, and it was time to learn the true story and come with an open mind to see what their religion was about, starting with Temple Square. You don’t have to be a believer in any religion to appreciate the work put into Temple Square, you just need to come with an accepting mind, to listen to what the people there are trying to convey, in their message. Since this time, I’ve met quite a few Mormons, and they shock, almost scare me, with how polite and positive they remain, despite any troubling issues in front of them. I mentioned that I didn’t know any Mormons personally, but after seeing how they operated and where they operate, I realized that I had seen real Mormons once, years ago, in Santiago, Dominican Republic. They were helping out after disastrous storms hit, and they have a Temple down there. They stuck out like a sore thumb, but people adored them for how helpful and positive they helped people remain. Mormonism will continue to struggle with the racist image, due to how stereotypes persist when Polite Society wants to cast a negative image on someone or something, in hopes that no one will look at the skeletons in their own closets. Mormonism is struggling to keep people 100% in line with the original goals, as is any religion or law in this world. Even as we speak, they’re struggling with every other problem in this country, as we are all human. Marriages aren’t happening as much as they used to either, being single is much more important now, as many want economic/educational improvement first, and people are just delaying marriage as long as humanly possible, today, just like the rest of society. Some vices are still banned but people will partake in them on the low. The negative stereotypes will never go away for Mormonism, and the racism charges will stick for a while because they didn’t officially address it until 40 years ago. How many people can change their beliefs overnight? They were taught WHITE PRIVILEGE, you’d be crazy to think that didn’t permeate into other aspects of their followers’ lives and shape their opinions of Blacks. Not many, no matter how religious they are, so there will be this issue to combat, and hopefully it will change with that younger generations. I would only question the level of tolerance the religion has, for those who falter here and there. Just like all things young, like the Black student-athletes whom broke the Honor Code and were punished unequally to Whites who did the same, Mormonism itself should be allowed to atone for its own sins, as any stable religion should allow, right?
As always, the finished products can be found on the main site of www.drunkphotography.com.