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The Latter Day Saint movement has had varying and conflicting teachings on slavery. Early converts were initially from the Northern United States and opposed slavery,believing they were supported by Mormon scripture. After the church base moved to the slave state of Missouri and gained Southern converts, church leaders began to own slaves. New scriptures were revealed teaching against interfering with the slaves of others. A few slave owners joined the church, and took their slaves with them to Nauvoo, Illinois, although Illinois was a free state.
After Joseph Smith's death, the church split. The largest contingent followed Brigham Young, who supported slavery, allowing enslaved men and women to be brought to the territory but prohibiting the enslavement of their descendants and requiring their consent before any moveand became The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). A smaller contingent followed Joseph Smith III, who opposed slavery, and became the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (RLDS). Young led his followers to Utah, where he led the efforts to legalize slavery in the Utah Territory. Brigham Young taught that slavery was ordained of God and taught that the Republican Party's efforts to abolish slavery went against the decrees of God and would eventually fail. He also encouraged members to participate in the Indian slave trade.
Mormon scripture simultaneously denounces both slavery and abolitionism in general, teaching that it was not right for men to be in bondage to each other, 22 a belief that was common in America at the time. While promoting the legality of slavery, the church consistently taught against the abuse of slaves and advocated for laws that provided protection. Critics said the church's definition of abuse of slaves was vague and difficult to enforce.but that one should not interfere with the slaves of others. While in Missouri, Joseph Smith defended slavery, arguing that the Old Testament taught that blacks were cursed with servitude and the New Testament defended slavery, :
Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young referred to the Curse of Ham to justify slavery. 126 According to the Bible, after Cain killed Abel, God cursed him and put a mark on him,( Genesis 4:8-15 ) although the Bible does not state the nature of the mark. In another biblical account, Ham discovered his father Noah drunk and naked in his tent. Because of this, Noah cursed Ham's son, Canaan to be "servants of servants".( Genesis 9:20-27 ) While nothing explicitly supports enslaving black Africans, one interpretation that was popular in the United States during the Atlantic slave trade was that the mark of Cain was black skin, and it was passed on through Canaan's descendants, who they believed were black Africans. They argued that because Canaan was cursed to be servants of servants, then they were justified in enslaving Canaan's descendants. By the 1800s, this interpretation was widely accepted in America, including among Mormons. An assistant president of the church, W. W. Phelps, wrote in a letter that Ham's wife was a descendant of Cain, and that the Canaanites were black Africans and covered by both curses.:
In June 1830, Joseph Smith began translating the Bible. Parts of it were canonized as the Book of Moses and accepted as official LDS scripture in 1880. It states that "the seed of Cain were black" (Moses 7:22). The Book of Moses also discusses a group of people called the Canaanites, who were also black (Moses 7:8). These Canaanites lived before the flood, and hence before the Biblical Canaan. Later, in 1835, Smith produced a work called the Book of Abraham. It relates the story of Pharaoh, a descendant of Ham, who was also a Canaanite by birth. Pharaoh could not have the priesthood because he was "of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood,"(Abraham 1:27) and that all Egyptians descended from him (Abraham 1:22). The Book of Abraham also says the curse came from Noah (Abraham 1:26). This book was also later canonized as Mormon scripture.
In 1836, Smith taught that the Curse of Ham came from God, and that it demanded the legalization of slavery. He warned those who tried to interfere with slavery would face divine consequences. 19While Smith never reversed his opinion on the Curse of Ham, he did start expressing more anti-slavery positions. In 1844, Smith wrote his views as a candidate for president of the United States. The anti-slavery plank of his platform called for a gradual end to slavery by the year 1850. His plan called for the government to buy the freedom of slaves using money from the sale of public lands. :
After the succession crisis, Brigham Young consistently argued slavery was a "divine institution," even after the Emancipation Proclamation was issued during the Civil War by President Abraham Lincoln. In the year following the Emancipation Proclamation, Young gave several discourses on slavery and characterized himself as neither an abolitionist nor a pro-slavery man. 290 He based his position on the scriptural curses. : 40 He also used these curses to justify banning blacks from the priesthood and from holding public office. After Young, leaders did not use the curse of Cain to justify slavery, but this doctrine continued to be taught by President John Taylor and Bruce R. McConkie. The LDS Church today does not support slavery and disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse.:
Most modern scholars believe "Canaanites" to refer to people of Semitic origin, not black African. Most Christian, Jewish and Muslim religions also reject the teaching that Canaanites were black Africans.
While Mormon scripture taught against slavery, it also taught the importance of upholding the law. Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young stated that the Mormons were not abolitionists.
In the Book of Mormon, slavery was against the law.(Mosiah 2:13 & Alma 27:9) The Doctrine and Covenants teaches that "it is not right that any man should be in bondage to another" (D&C Section 101:79), but it is unclear whether it applied to black servitude, since it was never used either for or against black slavery in early discourses on slavery. : 13 The official position which was more often cited was the belief that one shouldn't interfere with slaves against the will of their masters, since it would cause unrest.(D&C Section 134:12) This explanation avoided taking a direct stance on slavery, and instead focused on following current laws. : 13 In general, Mormon teachings encouraged obeying, honoring and sustaining the laws of the land.(Articles of Faith 1:12)
In 1836, Smith wrote a piece in the Messenger and Advocate which supported slavery 18 and affirmed that it was God's will. : 15 He said that the Northerners had no right to tell the Southerners whether they could have slaves. He said that if slavery were evil, southern "men of piety" would have objected. He expressed concern that freed slaves would overrun the United States and violate chastity and virtue. He pointed to biblical stories of slavery, arguing that the prophets who owned slaves were inspired of God, and knew more than abolitionists. He said that blacks were under the curse of Ham to be servants, and warned those who sought to free blacks were going against the dictates of God. Warren Parrish and Oliver Cowdery made similar arguments. : 14 During this time the Mormons were based in the slave state of Missouri.:
After the move to the free state of Illinois, Smith began expressing more abolitionist ideals. He argued that blacks should be given employment opportunities equal to whites.He believed that given equal chances as whites, blacks would become like whites. In his personal journal, he wrote that the slaves owned by Mormons should be brought "into a free country and set ... free— Educate them and give them equal rights." During Smith's 1844 campaign for president of the United States, he had advocated for the immediate abolition of slavery through compensation from money earned by the sale of public lands.
My cogitations, like Daniel's have for a long time troubled me, when I viewed the condition of men throughout the world, and more especially in this boasted realm, where the Declaration of Independence 'holds these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;' but at the same time some two or three millions of people are held as slaves for life, because the spirit in them is covered with a darker skin than ours.— History of the Church, Vol. 6, Ch. 8, p.197 - p.198
Smith was killed in 1844, the year of his presidential bid, resulting in a schism among his followers. After the schism, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (later known as the Community of Christ), one of the resulting sects, embraced abolitionist ideals. Its leader following the schism, Joseph Smith III, was a "devotee" of Abraham Lincoln and supported the Republicans' charge to end slavery.
Under Brigham Young, the LDS Church continued to teach that slavery was ordained of God. After he helped institute slavery in the Utah Territory, Young taught "inasmuch as we believe in the ordinances of God, in the Priesthood and order and decrees of God, we must believe in slavery". 26 He argued that blacks needed to serve masters because they were not capable of ruling themselves, When blacks were treated right, Young contended that they were much better off as slaves than if they were free. : 28 Because of these benefits, Young argued that slavery brought the "true liberty" which God had designed. : 110 He taught that because slavery was decreed of God, man was not able to remove it. : 27 He criticized the Northerners for their attempts to free the slaves contrary to the will of God and accused them of worshipping blacks. He opposed the American Civil War, calling it useless and saying that the "for the cause of human improvement is not in the least advanced by the dreadful war which now convulses our unhappy country." After President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Young prophesied that the attempts to free the slave would eventually fail.:
Slave owners complained that the Mormons were interfering with slaves, but the LDS Church denied such claims. 27 In 1835, the Church issued an official statement that, because the United States government allowed slavery, the Church would not "interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men." This was later adopted as scripture.(D&C Section 134:12) This policy was changed in 1836, when Smith wrote that slaves should not be taught the gospel at all until after their masters were converted. : 14:
Church leaders taught that slaves should not be mistreated. In March 1842, Smith began studying some abolitionist literature, and stated, "it makes my blood boil within me to reflect upon the injustice, cruelty, and oppression of the rulers of the people. When will these things cease to be, and the Constitution and the laws again bear rule?"
Under Brigham Young, the Church also opposed mistreatment of slaves. Young urged moderation, not to treat Africans as beasts of the field, nor to elevate them to equality with the whites, which was against God's will. 109 He criticized the Southerners for their abuse of slaves, and taught that mistreating slaves should be against the law: "If the Government of the United States, in Congress assembled, had the right to pass an anti-polygamy bill, they had also the right to pass a law that slaves should not be abused as they have been; they had also a right to make a law that negroes should be used like human beings, and not worse than dumb brutes. For their abuse of that race, the whites will be cursed, unless they repent." Later, as Utah sovereignty became a larger political issue, Young changed his stance on the role of the federal government in preventing abuse, arguing against federal meddling in a State's sovereignty by stating "even if we treated our slaves in an oppressive manner, it is none of their business and they ought not to meddle with it.":
Initially, Church leaders avoided the topic of slavery. 18 Most of the early converts of the church came from the northern United States and tended to be anti-slavery. These attitudes came into conflict with Southerners after they moved to Missouri. In the summer of 1833 W. W. Phelps published an article in the church's newspaper, seeming to invite free black people into the state to become Mormons, and reflecting "in connection with the wonderful events of this age, much is doing towards abolishing slavery, and colonizing the blacks, in Africa." Outrage followed Phelps' comments, and he was forced to reverse his position. He said he was "misunderstood" and that free blacks would not be admitted into the Church. : 14 His reversal did not end the controversy. Missouri citizens accused Mormons of trying to interfere with their slaves. The Church denied such claims and began to teach against interfering with slaves and more pro-slavery rhetoric. Some slaves owners joined the church during this period. However, this did not end the controversy, and the church was forcibly expelled from Missouri.:
By 1836, the church already had some slave owners and slaves as members. The rules established by the church for governing assemblies in the Kirtland Temple included attendees who were "bond or free, black or white."When abolitionists tried to solicit support from the Mormons, they had little success. Even though Illinois prohibited slavery, members who owned slaves took them along on the migration to Nauvoo. Nauvoo was reported to have 22 black members, including free and slave, between 1839–1843. The state of Illinois did not pass laws to free existing slaves in the region for some time.
One slave-owning family in Nauvoo was the Flake family. They owned a slave named Green Flake. While building the Nauvoo Temple, families were asked to donate one day in ten to work on the temple. The Flake family used Green's slave labor to fulfill their tithing requirement.
After Smith's death in 1844, the church went through a succession crisis, and split into multiple groups. The main body of the church, which would become the LDS Church, followed Brigham Young who was significantly more pro-slavery than Smith. Young led the Mormons to Utah and formed a theocratic government, under which slavery was legalized and the Indian slave trade was supported. Young promoted slavery, [ citation needed ]teaching that blacks had been cursed to be "servants of servants" and that Indians needed slavery as part of a process of overcoming a curse placed on their Lamanite ancestors.
When church leaders asked for men from the members of Mississippi to help with the westward emigration, they sent four slaves with John Brown who was given the task to "take charge of them." Two of the slaves died, but Green Flake later joined the company, making it a total of three slaves arriving in Utah. 39More slaves arrived as property of members in later companies. By 1850, 100 blacks had arrived, the majority of whom were slaves. Some slaves escaped during the trek west, including one large contingent that escaped the Redd family during the night in Kansas, but six of the slaves were not able to escape and continued with the family to Utah Territory. When William Dennis stopped in Tabor, Iowa, members of the Underground Railroad helped five of his slaves escape, and despite a manhunt, they were able to reach freedom in Canada. :
Mormons arrived in Utah in the middle of the Mexican–American War; they ignored the Mexican ban on slavery. Instead, they recognized slavery as custom and consistent with the Mormon view on blacks.
After the Compromise of 1850, Congress granted the Utah Territory the right to decide whether it would allow slavery based on popular sovereignty. Many prominent members of the church were slave owners, including Abraham O. Smoot and Charles C. Rich.
The territory did not pass any laws defining the legality of slavery, and the LDS Church tried to remain neutral. In 1851, apostle Orson Hyde said that because many church members were coming from the South with slaves, that the church's position on the matter needed to be defined. He went on to say that there was no law in Utah prohibiting or authorizing slavery and that the decisions on the topic were to remain between slaves and their masters. He also clarified that individuals' choices on the matter were not in any way a reflection of the church as a whole or its doctrine. 2:
Once in Utah, Mormons continued to buy and sell slaves as property. Church members used their slaves to perform labor required for tithing, and sometimes donated them to the church as property. 34 Both Young and Heber C. Kimball used the slave labor that had been donated in tithing before granting freedom to the people. : 52:
In 1851, a company of 437 Mormons under direction of Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles settled at what is now San Bernardino, California. This first company took 26 slaves,and more slaves were brought over as San Bernardino continued to grow. Since California was a free state, the slaves should have been freed when they entered. However, slavery was openly tolerated in San Bernardino. Many slaves wanted to be free, but were still under the control of their masters and ignorant of the laws and their rights. Judge Benjamin Hayes freed 14 slaves who had belonged to Robert Smith. Other slaves were freed by their masters.
As historian Max Perry Mueller has written, the Mormons participated extensively in the Indian slave trade as part of their efforts to convert and control Utah's Native American population. 274Mormons also were confronted in Utah with the practice of the Indian slave trade among regional tribes; it was very prevalent in the area. Tribes often took captives from enemies in raids or warfare, and used them as slaves or sold them. As the Mormons began expanding into Indian territory, they often had conflicts with the local residents. After expanding into Utah Valley, Young issued the extermination order against the Timpanogos, resulting in the Battle at Fort Utah. The Mormons took many Timpanogos women and children into slavery. Some were able to escape, but many died in slavery. After expanding into Parowan, Mormons attacked a group of Indians, killing around 25 men and taking the women and children as slaves. :
At the encouragement of Mormon leaders, their pioneers started participating in the Indian slave trade.Chief Walkara, one of the main slave traders in the region, was baptized in the church. In 1851, Apostle George A. Smith gave Chief Peteetneet and Walkara talking papers that certified "it is my desire that they should be treated as friends, and as they wish to Trade horses, Buckskins and Piede children, we hope them success and prosperity and good bargains."
As in other regions in the Southwest, the Mormons justified enslaving Indians in order to teach them Christianity and achieve their salvation. Mormon theology teaches that Indians are descendants in part from the Lamanites, an ancient group of people described in the Book of Mormon that had fallen into apostasy and had been cursed. When Young visited the members in Parowan, he encouraged them to "buy up the Lamanite children as fast as they could". He argued that by doing so, they could educate them and teach them the Gospel, and in a few generations the Lamanites would become "white and delightsome", as prophesied in Nephi.
The Mormons strongly opposed the New Mexican slave trade.Young sought to put an end to the Mexican slave trade. Many of Walkara's band were upset by the interruption with the Mexican slave trade. In one graphic incident, Ute Indian Chief Arrapine, a brother of Walkara, insisted that because the Mormons had stopped the Mexicans from buying certain children, the Mormons were obligated to purchase them. In his book, Forty Years Among the Indians , Daniel Jones wrote, "[s]everal of us were present when he took one of these children by the heels and dashed its brains out on the hard ground, after which he threw the body towards us, telling us we had no hearts, or we would have bought it and saved its life."
One of the Mexican slave traders, Don Pedro Leon Lujan, was charged with trading with the Indians without a license, including Indian slaves. His property was seized and his slaves distributed to Mormon families in Manti. He sued the government, charging that he received unequal treatment because he wasn't Mormon. The courts sided against him, but noted that Indian slavery had never been officially legalized in Utah.
On January 5, 1852, Young, who was also Territorial Governor of Utah, addressed the joint session of the Utah Territorial Legislature. He discussed the ongoing trial of Don Pedro Leon Lujan and the importance of explicitly indicating the true policy for slavery in Utah. He explained that although he didn't think people should be treated as property, he felt because Indians were so low and degraded, that transferring them to "the more favored portions of the human race", would be a benefit and relief. He said this was superior to drudgery of Mexican slavery, because the Mexicans were "scarcely superior" to the Indians. He argued that it is proper for persons thus purchased to owe a debt to the man or woman who saved them,and that it was "necessary that some law should provide for the suitable regulations under which all such indebtedness should be defrayed". He argued that this type of service was necessary and honorable to improve the condition of Indians.
He also supported African slavery and said that "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." 109 He said that this was the principle of true liberty according to the designs of God. : 110 On January 27, Orson Pratt objected to Young's remarks, saying it was not man's duty to enforce Cain's curse, and that slavery had not been authorized by God. Young responded that the Lord had revealed these instructions to him. After this, the Utah legislature passed an Act in Relation to Service, which officially legalized slavery in Utah Territory, and a month later passed an Act for the relief of Indian Slaves and Prisoners, which specifically dealt with Indian slavery.He argued that the blacks had the Curse of Ham placed on them which made them servants of servants and that he was not authorized to remove it. He also argued that blacks needed to serve masters because they are not capable of ruling themselves, and that when treated right, blacks were much better off as slaves than if they were free. However, he urged moderation, not to treat Africans as beasts of the field, nor to elevate them to equality with the whites, which he believed was against the will of God. :
The acts had a few special provisions unique to slavery in Utah, reflecting Mormon beliefs. Masters were required by law to correct and punish their slaves, which particularly worried Republicans in Congress.Black slaves brought into the Territory had to come "of their own free will and choice"; and they could not be sold or taken from the Territory against their will. Indian slaves just had to be in possession of a white person, which Republicans in Congress complained was too broad. Indian slavery was limited to twenty years, while black slavery was limited to not be longer "than will satisfy the debt due his [master]." Several unique provisions were included which terminated the owner's contract in the event that the master neglected to feed, clothe, shelter, or otherwise abused the slave, or attempted to take them from the Territory against their will. Black slaves, but not Indian slaves, were freed if the master had sexual intercourse with them. Some schooling was also required for slaves, with blacks requiring less schooling than Indians. Despite the unique provisions in Utah, many black slaves received the same treatment as in the South. According to former slave Alexander Bankhead, the slaves were "far from being happy" and longed for their freedom.
Mormons continued taking Indian children from their families long after the slave traders left and even began to actively solicit children from Paiute parents. They also began selling Indian slaves to each other. 56 By 1853, each of the hundred households in Parowan had one or more Paiute children. : 57 Indian slaves were used for both domestic and manual labor. : 240 In 1857, Representative Justin Smith Morrill estimated that there were 400 Indian slaves in Utah. Richard Kitchen has identified at least 400 Indian slaves taken into Mormon homes, but estimates even more went unrecorded because of the high mortality rate of Indian slaves. Many of them tried to escape.:
Brigham Young opposed slaves who wanted to escape their masters. This was enforced by Utah laws.When Dan, a slave, tried to escape his master, William Camp, the courts upheld that Dan was Camp's property and could not escape. Dan was later sold to Thomas Williams for $800 and then to William Hooper.
The Mormon position of slavery was often criticized and condemned by anti-slavery groups. 19 In 1856, the key plank of the Republican Party's platform was "to prohibit in the territories those twin relics of barbarism, polygamy and slavery". While considering appropriations for Utah Territory, Representative Justin Smith Morrill criticized the LDS Church for its laws on slavery. He said that under the Mormon patriarchy, slavery took a new shape. He criticized the use of the term servants instead of slaves and the requirement for Mormon masters to "correct and punish" their "servants". He expressed concern that Mormons might be trying to increase the number of slaves in the state. Horace Greeley also criticized the Mormon position on slavery and general apathy towards the welfare of black people.:
When the American Civil War broke out, there is some indication that some Mormon slave owners returned to southern states because they were worried that they would lose their slaves.On June 19, 1862 Congress prohibited slavery in all US territories, and on January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. The slaves of the Mormons were incredibly joyful when the news reached that they were free, and many left Utah for other states, particularly California.
After the slaves were freed, Young gave several discourses on slavery. He characterized himself as neither an abolitionist nor a pro-slavery man.He criticized both the South for their abuse of slaves and the North for their alleged worshipping of blacks. He opposed the American Civil War, calling it useless and that the "cause of human improvement is not in the least advanced" by fighting such a war. He predicted the Emancipation Proclamation would fail.
Leaders of the church have had varying opinions on slavery, and many Mormon historians have discussed the issue.
Harris and Bringhurst noted that early Mormons wanted to stay neutral or aloof of slavery as a political issue, probably because of the strong Mormon presence in Missouri, which was then a slave state. In 1833, Joseph Smith stated that "it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another," but most historians agree that this statement referred to debt and other types of economic bondage. In 1835, Joseph Smith wrote that missionaries should not baptize slaves against the will of their masters. According to Harris and Bringhurst, Joseph Smith made these statements to distance the church from abolitionism, and not to align with pro-slavery positions, but it came across as supporting slavery. Church headquarters were in Ohio, where abolitionism and anti-abolitionism were polarized many citizens. After members of the church were expelled from Missouri to Illinois, Smith changed to an antislavery position, which he held until his death in 1844. More new converts were from free states and a handful of black people joined the church, which may have contributed to Smith's change in position. 15–19:
John G. Turner writes that Brigham Young's stance on slavery was contradictory. In 1851 he opposed abolitionism, seeing it as politically radical, yet he did not want to "lay a foundation" for slavery. In an 1852 speech, Young was against slavery, but also against equal rights for blacks. Two weeks after the speech, Young pushed to have slavery formally recognized in the Utah territory, stating that he was for slavery, and said that a belief in slavery naturally followed from believing in God's priesthood and decrees. Young mimicked proslavery apologetics when he argued that slaves were better off than European workers and that slavery was mutually beneficial to slave and master. Young feared that abolishing slavery would result in blacks ruling over whites. At the end of 1852, Young commented that he was glad the black population was small. Young was generous with the black servants and slaves in his life, but that did not change their lack of rights. According to Turner, Young's position on slavery is unsurprising given the racial context of the time, as discrimination was common in white American Protestant groups. Turner does note that Young's theological justification for racial discrimination set a discriminatory precedent that his successors believed they ought to perpetuate. 225–229:
According to W. Paul Reeve, Brigham Young was the driving force behind the 1852 legislation to solidify slavery in the Utah territory, and that the common fear of "interracial mixing" motivated Young. Reeve also states that Mormons were surprised by the Native American slave trade from the Utes. The slave traders would insist that the Mormons buy slaves, sometimes killing a child to motivate their purchase. The 1852 law tried to change slavery into indentured servitude, requiring Mormons with Native American children to register them with their local judge and provide some education for them; the law did not work well in practice. Reeve explains that while Joseph Smith saw a potential for black equality, Young believed that blacks were inferior to whites by divine design. 143–145:
Joseph Smith III, son of Joseph Smith, founded the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1860, now known as the Community of Christ. Smith was a vocal advocate of abolishing the slave trade, and followed Owen Lovejoy, an anti-slavery congressman from Illinois, and Abraham Lincoln. He joined the Republican party and advocated for their antislavery politics. He rejected the fugitive slave law, and openly stated that he would assist slaves trying to escape.While he was a strong opponent of slavery, he still viewed whites as superior to blacks, and held that they must not "sacrifice the dignity, honor and prestige that may be rightfully attached to the ruling races."
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) broke from the LDS Church in the early 20th century. Although it emerged well after slavery was made illegal in the United States, there have been several accusations of slavery. On April 20, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor assessed fines totaling $1.96 million against a group of FLDS Church members, including Lyle Jeffs, a brother of the church's controversial leader, Warren Jeffs, for alleged child slave labor violations during the church's 2012 pecan harvest at an orchard near Hurricane, Utah.The church has been suspected of trafficking underage girls across state lines, as well as across the US–Canada and US–Mexico borders, for the purpose of sometimes involuntary plural marriage and sexual slavery. The FLDS is suspected by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police of having trafficked more than 30 under-age girls from Canada to the United States between the late 1990s and 2006 to be entered into polygamous marriages. RCMP spokesman Dan Moskaluk said of the FLDS's activities: "In essence, it's human trafficking in connection with illicit sexual activity." According to the Vancouver Sun, it's unclear whether or not Canada's anti-human trafficking statute can be effectively applied against the FLDS's pre-2005 activities, because the statute may not be able to be applied retroactively. An earlier three-year-long investigation by local authorities in British Columbia into allegations of sexual abuse, human trafficking, and forced marriages by the FLDS resulted in no charges, but did result in legislative change.
Brigham Young was an American religious leader and politician. He was the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1847 until his death in 1877. He founded Salt Lake City and served as the first governor of the Utah Territory. Young also led the foundings of the precursors to the University of Utah and Brigham Young University.
Early Mormonism had a range of doctrines related to race with regards to black people of African descent. References to black people, their social condition during the 19th and 20th centuries, and their spiritual place in Western Christianity as well as in Mormon scripture were complicated.
Elijah Abel, or Able or Ables was one of the earliest African-American members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is considered by many to have been the first African-American elder and seventy in the Latter Day Saint movement. Abel, although predominantly of Scotch and English descent, appears by his African heritage to have been the first and one of the few black members in the early history of the church to have received the priesthood. And it was his distinction to be the faith's first missionary to have descended in part through African bloodline. Abel did not have his priesthood revoked when the Church began its priesthood ban for black men but he was denied by third Church President John Taylor a chance to receive his Temple endowment. As a skilled carpenter, Abel often committed his services to the furthering of the work and to the building of LDS temples. He died in 1884, shortly after serving a final mission for the church to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Over the past two centuries, the relationship between black people and Mormonism includes both official and unofficial discrimination. From the mid-1800s until 1978, the LDS Church prevented most men of black African descent from being ordained to the church's lay priesthood, barred black men and women from participating in the ordinances of its temples and opposed interracial marriage. Since black men of African descent could not receive the priesthood, they were excluded from holding leadership roles and performing these rituals. Temple ordinances such as the endowment and marriage sealings are necessary for the highest level of salvation. The church's first presidents, Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, reasoned that black skin was the result of the Curse of Cain or the Curse of Ham. As early as 1844, leaders suggested that black people were less valiant in the pre-existence. Many leaders, including Ezra Taft Benson, were vocally opposed to the civil rights movement.
Mormon fundamentalism is a belief in the validity of selected fundamental aspects of Mormonism as taught and practiced in the nineteenth century, particularly during the administrations of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and John Taylor, the first three presidents of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormon fundamentalists seek to uphold tenets and practices no longer held by mainstream Mormons. The principle most often associated with Mormon fundamentalism is plural marriage, a form of polygyny first taught in the Latter Day Saint movement by the movement's founder, Smith. A second and closely associated principle is that of the United Order, a form of egalitarian communalism. Mormon fundamentalists believe that these and other principles were wrongly abandoned or changed by the LDS Church in its efforts to become reconciled with mainstream American society. Today, the LDS Church excommunicates any of its members who practice plural marriage or who otherwise closely associate themselves with Mormon fundamentalist practices.
In Latter-day Saint theology, Egyptus is the name of two women in the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price. One is the wife of Ham, son of Noah, who bears his children. The other is their daughter, who discovered Egypt while "it was under water" (1:23-24). The younger Egyptus places her eldest son on the throne as Pharaoh, the first king of Egypt (1:25). Pharaoh was a descendant of the Canaanites (1:22), a race of people who had been cursed with black skin. Some early Mormon leaders have taught that Egyptus passed black skin and the curse of Cain through the flood so that the devil might have representation upon the earth, although this has now been repudiated by later leaders.
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith is a nonfiction book by author Jon Krakauer, first published in July 2003. He investigated and juxtaposed two histories: the origin and evolution of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and a modern double murder committed in the name of God by brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who subscribed to a fundamentalist version of Mormonism.
Blood atonement is a disputed doctrine in the history of Mormonism, under which the atonement of Jesus does not redeem an eternal sin. To atone for an eternal sin, the sinner should be killed in a way that allows his blood to be shed upon the ground as a sacrificial offering, so he does not become a son of perdition. The largest Mormon denomination, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has denied the validity of the doctrine since 1889 with early church leaders referring to it as a "fiction" and later church leaders referring to it as a "theoretical principle" that had never been implemented in the LDS Church.
Christian views on slavery are varied regionally, historically and spiritually. Slavery in various forms has been a part of the social environment for much of Christianity's history, spanning well over eighteen centuries. In the early years of Christianity, slavery was an established feature of the economy and society in the Roman Empire, and this persisted in different forms and with regional differences well into the Middle Ages. Saint Augustine described slavery as being against God's intention and resulting from sin. In the eighteenth century the abolition movement took shape among Christian people across the globe.
The curse of Cain and the mark of Cain are phrases that originated in the story of Adam and Eve in the Hebrew Bible. In the stories, if someone harmed Cain, the damage would come back sevenfold. Some interpretations view this as a physical mark, whereas other interpretations see the "mark" as a sign, and not as a physical mark on Cain himself. The King James Version of the Bible reads "set a mark upon Cain."
The curse of Ham occurs in the Book of Genesis, imposed by the patriarch Noah. It occurs in the context of Noah's drunkenness and is provoked by a shameful act perpetrated by Noah's son Ham, who "saw the nakedness of his father". The exact nature of Ham's transgression and the reason Noah cursed Canaan when Ham had sinned have been debated for over 2,000 years.
Chief Walkara was a Shoshone leader of the Utah Indians known as the Timpanogo and Sanpete Band. It is not completely clear what cultural group the Utah or Timpanogo Indians belonged to, but they are listed as Shoshone. He had a reputation as a diplomat, horseman and warrior, and a military leader of raiding parties, and in the Wakara War.
Heroes of the Fiery Cross is a book in praise of the Ku Klux Klan, published in 1928 by Protestant Bishop Alma Bridwell White, in which she "sounds the alarm about imagined threats to Protestant Americans from Catholics and Jews", according to author Peter Knight. In the book she asks rhetorically, "Who are the enemies of the Klan? They are the bootleggers, law-breakers, corrupt politicians, weak-kneed Protestant church members, white slavers, toe-kissers, wafer-worshippers, and every spineless character who takes the path of least resistance." She also argues that Catholics are removing the Bible from public schools. Another topic is her anti-Catholic stance towards the United States presidential election of 1928, in which Catholic Al Smith was running for president.
From 1849 to 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints prohibited men of black African descent from being ordained to the priesthood. In 1978, the church's First Presidency declared in a statement known as "Official Declaration 2" that the restriction had been lifted. Between 1830 and 1849, a few black men had been ordained to the priesthood under Joseph Smith.
Black people have been members of Mormon congregations since its foundation, although the church placed restrictions on proselytization efforts among black people. Before 1978, black membership was small. It has since grown, and in 1997, there were approximately 500,000 black members of the church, mostly in Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean. Black membership has continued to grow substantially, especially in West Africa, where two temples have been built. By 2018, an estimated 6% of members were black. In the United States, 3% of members are black.
The Act in Relation to Service, which was passed on Feb 4, 1852 in the Utah Territory, made slavery legal in the territory. A similar law, Act for the relief of Indian Slaves and Prisoners was passed on March 7, 1852, and specifically dealt with Indian slavery.
The Act for the relief of Indian Slaves and Prisoners, which was passed on March 7, 1852 in the Utah Territory, dealt with Indian slavery. A similar law, the Act in Relation to Service, which had made slavery legal in the territory, had been passed on February 4, 1852.
This article treats the topic of slavery as it occurred in the borders of what is now the state of Utah. Under Spanish and Mexican rule, Utah was a major source of illegal slave raids by Mexican, Ute and Navajo slave traders, particularly on Paiute tribes. When Mormon pioneers entered Utah, they introduced African slavery and provided a local market for Indian slavery. After the Mexican–American War, Utah became part of the United States and slavery was officially legalized in Utah Territory on February 4, 1852 with the passing of the Act in Relation to Service. It was repealed on June 19, 1862 when Congress prohibited slavery in all US territories.
In the past, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have consistently opposed marriages between members of different ethnicities, though interracial marriage is no longer considered a sin. In 1977, apostle Boyd K. Packer publicly stated that "[w]e've always counseled in the Church for our Mexican members to marry Mexicans, our Japanese members to marry Japanese, our Caucasians to marry Caucasians, our Polynesian members to marry Polynesians. ... The counsel has been wise." Nearly every decade for over a century—beginning with the church's formation in the 1830s until the 1970s—has seen some denunciations of miscegenation, with most of them focusing on black–white marriages. Church president Brigham Young even taught on multiple occasions that black–white marriage merited death for the couple and their children.
Civil rights and Mormonism have been intertwined since the religion's start, with founder Joseph Smith writing on slavery in 1836. Initial Mormon converts were from the north of the United States and opposed slavery. This caused contention in the slave state of Missouri, and the church began distancing itself from abolitionism and justifying slavery based on the Bible. During this time, several slave owners joined the church, and brought their slaves with them when they moved to Nauvoo, Illinois. The church adopted scriptures which teaches against influencing slaves to be "dissatisfied with their condition" as well as scriptures which teaches that "all are alike unto God." As mayor of Nauvoo, Smith prohibited blacks from holding office, joining the Nauvoo Legion, voting or marrying whites; but, as president of the church blacks became members and several black men were ordained to the priesthood. Also during this time, Smith began his presidential campaign on a platform for the government to buy slaves into freedom over several years. He was killed during his presidential campaign.
[T]he first mention we have of slavery is found in the Holy Bible, pronounced by a man [Noah] who was perfect in his generation, and walked with God. And so far from that prediction being averse to the mind of God, it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude. 'And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.' ... (Gen. 9:25-26). Trace the history of the world from this notable event down to this day, and you will find the fulfillment of this singular prophecy. [T]he curse is not yet taken off from the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great a power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least with the purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before Him; and those who are determined to pursue a course which shows an opposition and a feverish restlessness against the designs of the Lord, will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do his own work without the aid of those who are not dictated by his counsel.
After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject [of slavery] ... It is my privilege then to name certain passages from the Bible, and examine the teachings of the ancients upon the matter as the fact is uncontrovertible [sic] that the first mention we have of slavery is found in the Holy Bible ... And so far from that prediction being averse to the mind of God, it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude. 'And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.' ... (Gen. 9:25-26). ... [T]he matter can be put to rest without much argument, if we look at a few items in the New Testament. Paul says ... in his first epistle to Timothy ... 'Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and His doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved .... If any man teach otherwise ... from such withdraw thyself.' ... The Scripture stands for itself; and I believe that these men were better qualified to teach the will of God, than all the abolitionists in the world.
After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject [of slavery], I do not doubt, but those who have been forward in raising their voices against the South, will cry out against me .... It is my privilege then to name certain passages from the Bible, and examine the teachings of the ancients upon the matter as the fact is uncontrovertible [sic] that the first mention we have of slavery is found in the Holy Bible, pronounced by a man [Noah] who was perfect in his generation, and walked with God. And so far from that prediction being averse to the mind of God, it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude. 'And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.' ... (Gen. 9:25-26). Trace the history of the world from this notable event down to this day, and you will find the fulfillment of this singular prophecy. [T]he curse is not yet taken off from the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great a power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least with the purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before Him ....
[O]ne portion of the country wish to raise their negroes or black slaves and the other portion wish to free them, and, apparently, to almost worship them. Well, raise and worship them, who cares? I should never fight one moment about it, for the cause of human improvement is not in the least advanced by the dreadful war which now convulses our unhappy country. Ham will continue to be the servant of servants, as the Lord has decreed, until the curse is removed. ... Treat the slaves kindly and let them live, for Ham must be the servant of servants until the curse is removed. Can you destroy the decrees of the Almighty? You cannot. Yet our Christian brethren think that they are going to overthrow the sentence of the Almighty upon the seed of Ham.
Canaan, after he laughed at his grand father's nakedness, heired three curses: one from Cain for killing Abel; one from Ham for marrying a black wife, and one from Noah for ridiculing what God had respect forMessenger and Advocate 1:82. p.
The Church today disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse.
Are the Mormons abolitionists? No ... we do not believe in setting the Negroes free.
In the providences of God their ability is such that they cannot rise above the position of a servant.. p.
If Utah was admitted into the Union as a sovereign State, and we chose to introduce slavery here, it is not their business to meddle, with it; and even if we treated our slaves in an oppressive manner, it is still none of their business and they ought not to meddle with it.
I think I never heard, from the lips or journals of any of your people, one word in reprehension of that gigantic national crime and scandal, American Chattel slavery. You speak forcibly of the wrongs to which your feeble brethren have from time to time been subjected; but what are they all to the perpetual, the gigantic outrage involved in holding in abject bondage four millions of human beings?
Thinking, perhaps, that the sound might go out, that "an abolitionist" had held forth several times to this community, and that the public feeling was not aroused to create mobs or disturbances, leaving the impression that all he said was concurred in, and received as gospel and the word of salvation. I am happy to say, that no violence or breach of the public peace was attempted, so far from this, that all except a very few, attended to their own avocations and left the gentleman to hold forth his own arguments to nearly naked walls.Cite journal requires
Not long since a gentleman of the Presbyterian faith came to this town (Kirtland) and proposed to lecture upon the abolition question. Knowing that there was a large branch of the church of Latter Day Saints in this place, who, as a people, are liberal in our sentiments; he no doubt anticipated great success in establishing his doctrine among us. But in this he was mistaken. The doctrine of Christ and the systems of men are at issue and consequently will not harmonize together.Cite journal requires
Involuntary labor by negroes is recognized by custom; those holding slaves keep them as part of their family, as they would their wives, without any law on the subject. Negro caste springs naturally from their doctrine of blacks being ineligible to the priesthood
We feel it to be our duty to define our position in relation to the subject of slavery. There are several in the Valley of the Salt Lake from the Southern States, who have their slaves with them. There is no law in Utah to authorize slavery, neither any to prohibit it. If the slave is disposed to leave his master, no power exists there, either legal or moral, that will prevent him. But if the slave chooses to remain with his master, none are allowed to interfere between the master and the slave. All the slaves that are there appear to be perfectly contented and satisfied. When a man in the Southern states embraces our faith, the Church says to him, if your slaves wish to remain with you, and to go with you, put them not away; but if they choose to leave you, or are not satisfied to remain with you, it is for you to sell them, or let them go free, as your own conscience may direct you. The Church, on this point, assumes not the responsibility to direct. The laws of the land recognize slavery, we do not wish to oppose the laws of the country. If there is sin in selling a slave, let the individual who sells him bear that sin, and not the Church. Millennial Star , February 15, 1851.
Most of those who take slaves there pass over with them in a little while to San Bernardino ... How many slaves are now held there they could not say, but the number relatively was by no means small. A single person had taken between forty and fifty, and many had gone in with smaller numbers.
none of the said persons of color can read and write, and are almost entirely ignorant of the laws of the state of California as well as those of the State of Texas, and of their rights
Brigham Young slavery.