Brigham Young, the second President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormon Church), held racially discriminatory beliefs. These views included views on interracial marriage and the mixing of races and he taught them as doctrine from God at the pulpit of the church for decades. He calls it the law of God and that it will always be so that the penalty for interracial mixing is “death on the spot”.
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.Brigham Young, March 8, 1863
Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, Discourse 25
Brigham Young taught that blacks were descendants of Cain and that they were cursed as a result of Cain’s actions. This is also still reflected in the Book of Mormon which teaches that dark skin is a curse from God for wickedness. Young taught that mixing “seed” (i.e., interracial marriage) with black individuals was not acceptable. He spoke against interracial relationships and marriage, expressing strong prejudice against black people. He claimed that “the moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain, the church must go to destruction.” When speaking to the Utah Legislature He even states that if a member of the church to “mingle their seed with the seed of Cain” it would be a blessing to them to kill them and he even mentions cutting off their head!
Brother Brigham’s statements are widely criticized for their discriminatory nature. Here are a few examples:
- On Slavery: Young expressed support for the institution of slavery and made statements defending the practice. He believed that slavery was a divine institution and that it was the right of white people to own slaves.
- On Interracial Marriage: Young strongly opposed interracial marriage and believed that different races should not intermix. He taught that blacks were cursed and that mixing races was against God’s will.
- On Native Americans: Young held prejudiced views about Native Americans, considering them to be inferior and often referring to them in derogatory terms. He supported policies that marginalized and displaced Native American communities.
- On Women: Young’s views on women were also discriminatory by modern standards. He believed in traditional gender roles and opposed women’s suffrage. He once stated that a woman’s primary role was to be a wife and mother.
Today the Mormon church attempts to put distance between themselves and these racist beliefs and practices. These ideas were still deeply held by church leaders into the late 1970s, as we can see in 1947 during a series of letters with Lowry Nelson, 1949 as a statement from the First Presidency, 1969 as another official statement fro the First Presidency and even 1977 in excommunicating a dissident member opposing the priesthood ban. In 1978 the church finally and officially ended the ban on black individuals holding the priesthood and participating in temple ordinances, which the apostles have spoken of accepting this change with blind faith, and which top church leaders still regularly made racist comments. The church has made some efforts to promote racial inclusivity and equality within its membership by simply dismissing these previous doctrines and practices as folklore, donating money to the NAACP, and dishonestly making gaslighting claims that the church has always been against racism. They published an essay to discuss these racist practices in which they deflect and distract from the racist sentiments that have been deeply ingrained into the culture of the church.
The church wants to proclaim that they are at the forefront of racial equality, but still, their collection of Universities are all named after this same Brigham Young (the main campus in Provo, UT, one in Rexburg, Idaho, and another in Hawaii). The school is named for this man, who made so many racist remarks and preached racist ideas claiming they are directly from God and would never and should never change. Current church leaders dismiss these things as fringe statements by fringe leaders. They can’t admit that they idolize the racist Brigham Young still today, even as they attempt to remove the racist ideas from the religion. It’s no wonder a statue of Brigham Young was vandalized on campus during the black lives matter hype. Even apologists for the church can’t deny that Brigham Young was known to say racist things.
Question: Was Brigham Young a racist?
Brigham Young made a number of statements which are now considered blatantly racistFAIR LDS (Apologist Website): Question: Was Brigham Young a racist?
Have you experienced racism within the church? Was it part of your own deconstruction? Tell your story at wasmormon.org.
- Standing Against Racism?
- Racism and Victim Blaming From God’s Anointed
- Mormon Leadership Dismisses Racist Doctrines as Folklore
- Brigham Young’s Racist Remarks on Slaves, Seed, and Priesthood Doctrines
- Mormon Church Whitewashes Racist History in Essay
- The Lowry Nelson Letters and Racist Mormon Doctrine