Saturday, February 14, 2015

Racist Mormon General Conferences

Today, I was listening to ex Mormon bishop Lee Baker talk about racism in the LDS General Conference, but he did not give good citations, so I did a search and found it myself. The word "nigger" was used several times in General Conference by Mormon Apostle Heber J Grant and Apostle Reed Smoot. For those outside of the United States, or who are not native English speakers the word "nigger" is the must insulting word you can use for a black person, in fact simply using the word automatically suggests the speaker is hates black people. Now remember, according to Mormons their 12 apostles are ALSO prophets, seers, and revelators, so this Apostle is thought of in the LDS in the same was as the 12 apostles of Jesus were. Also, remember, according to many Mormons that General Conference is as good as scripture (its uncertain if actually LDS doctrine says that though).

Apostle Heber J Grant, in a spiritual talk about paying debts, said in a most pious moment:

"I went to a negro minstrel show once, and there  were about ten or fifteen on stage. One of them rushed in with his hat off and said, "which of these here niggers am lost two dollars?" holding up a two dollar bill. There hadn't any of them lost two dollars. "Well," he said, "if none of you have lost it, I found these two dollars right by the door here and it is my money." They said all right, and he put it in his pocket. No sooner had he got it in his pocket than up jumped a nigger and said: "Look here, George Washington Jones, you owe me two dollars, pay your honest debt!""
Heber J Grant, 71st Semi-Annual Conference pg 36(October 6, 1900, Afternoon Session), Deseret News

Why is an apostle, who is ALSO a prophet/seer/revelator using racist words? He knew and used the word "negro" since he used it in the same sentence, who why did he insist on using the word "nigger." Mormons say because he was a product of his times and was speaking as a man, but the problem is this is general conference--an official church function and these men are supposed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit! Certainly, other churches and clergy said racist things in the time and that does not excuse them, but we must remember how the Church of Jesus Christ, of Latter Day saints views their "apostles" and "general conferences," so there is no excuse!

We have another example of it being used in 1907 by Utah Senator and LDS Apostle Reed Smoot:

"He went to one of the business corners of the city, where a little stand was erected, and in order to hold the crowd until he could convince some of them that they had worms, or something worse, he had three or four niggers sing songs--by the way, I have been told that the niggers furnished the best part of the entertainment."--US Senator & LDS Apostle Reed Smoot, General Conference, 78th Semi-annual conference, pg 56, Sunday, October 6, 1907, 10 A.M., Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Some might think maybe "nigger" was not a derogatory term in the 1900s in Utah. To which I answer:
(from Improvement Era, Volume 3, Issue 1 Anecdotes, pg. 261, 1899-1900)
We clearly see in this 1900 Utah LDS publication that "black" or "negro" were acceptable normal words for a black man, and "nigger" was a pejorative.