"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Pure And Delightsome”: Choose Right Gov. Romney, Not Racism

Dear Gov. (Bishop) Romney:

I’m assuming you’ll understand why, as someone who teaches the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a classroom, your comment yesterday at a rally in Michigan irked me tremendously. In case you’re trying to forget what you said, let me repeat it for you. “No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this [Michigan] is the place that we were born and raised.”

I have tried my best to give you the benefit of the doubt. It seems however, that you are the same bully who cut your classmate’s hair back in high school. The reality is, you are the product of white privilege; some from your money, but also from the racist history of the LDS beginning with Brigham Young. You might think that it’s unfair to bring up the LDS’ troubled past, but I think it is, in part, a big issue for you in this campaign. Let me explain.

Most reporters focus on the 1978 revelation that black men could be part of the Mormon priesthood as the end of Mormon theology regarding race, though a recent op-ed in the New York Times by John G. Turner suggests that “race is still a problem for the Mormon Church because they have never repudiated nor apologized for it.” I agree with Turner. It is a problem for the LDS.

It is a greater problem for you, however, because you are running against the first African-American President of the United States. You are also from a persecuted minority, though you have chosen to take the trappings of whiteness, prosperity and privilege and make them your own. That is within your right. It is not a good look for you however, nor is it for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that you represent, whether you want to or not.

When you talk about “welfare” or the birth certificate “joke,” I think they are much more than a “dog whistle” to your base. I wonder if it also comes from Mormon theology which taught that black people are black because they are cursed as “fence sitters in heaven” and had the mark of Cain. If that’s not enough, the Book of Mormon, specifically 2 Nephi 30:6, said the Laminites would become “Whitesome and Delightsome” if they accepted the book of Mormon. Perhaps you have not noticed the text was changed to “Pure and Delightsome” in 1981. So, for you to continue to pick up race-bating is not only a tea party tell, it is a reflection, whether you like it or not, on the LDS past—no matter how many “I am a Mormon” commercials feature people of color.

What’s more, your own family history points to a painful past. Your grandfather escaped to Mexico to be able to practice his belief in polygamy (you and President Obama both have polygamy in your family history). Mormons have been persecuted for a long time, though your money and your father’s position protected you from associating with that persecuted past. It is part of you, no matter how much you cling to your privilege. Would it be too difficult for you to exercise some discretion, noting your own past, and realize that many African Americans are sick and damn tired of white people questioning the President of the United States about his birth certificate?

I hope you realize that because President Obama won in 2008, he had made it easier for you to run for President in 2012. Both the Republican Party and the religious right shunned you in 2008. Many Christian power brokers are holding their noses to vote for you because they hate President Obama more. Many wonder if you even are a Christian. So please, before you use racism and dog whistles against the president, consider your church’s past of persecution, and bigotry. Choose the right, if you can.


By: Anthea Butler, Religion Dispatches, August 25, 2012

August 26, 2012 - Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , ,


  1. shematwater: the Lamanites were cursed with dark skin, and there is scant evidence that the original intention was “pure”, since on at least one occasion the Lamanites’ skin turned light (and Nephites’ turned dark) according to their righteousness. You can parse shades of meaning on this word if you wish, but the history of the LDS Church on race (and the themes of the Book of Mormon on race) DO perpetuate the idea that fair skin was a blessing for the righteous, while dark skin was given not only as a “curse” for “wickedness”, but to keep the white Nephites from having children with the dark-cursed—and presumedly repellent—Lamanites.

    To pretend otherwise is to beggar history and basic facts. Your answer is, quite literally, whitewash.


    Comment by amanzed | August 27, 2012 | Reply

    • You really need to read the Book of Mormon again, adn study the meaning of the passages.
      First, the dark skin was not the curse, but was the mark. The Lamanites were cursed as to things of the spirit, being denied the Priesthood. This curse would follow any who mingled with them, and so a mark was placed on them so that the Nephites would be able to tell the difference.
      Yes, there are accounts of the Lamanites becoming white (actually, only two times is this mentioned, and only once directly). However, this is not Nephi’s intent. The entire passage of 2 Nephi 30: 6 is talking about spiritual awareness and faith. The scales of darkness are to fall from their eyes, meaning ignorance and unbelief. This results in them becoming pure and delightsome. The meaning is clear in the context of the passage.

      I just have one question: If the original intent was to convey a physical alteration, why was only this one verse altered, and not the otehrs that actually record such happening (Alma 23: 18 and 3 Nephi 2: 15)? It doesn’t seem logical to alter only one such reference while leaving the others unchanged.


      Comment by shematwater | September 5, 2012 | Reply

  2. 2 Nephi 30: 6

    You may want to note that in the early 1800’s the word white was commonly used as a description of purity. In fact, this was common for many centruies, and the Bible itself uses the term in this way (i.e. though your sins be as scarlet they shall be as white as snow). The change in this verse of the Book of Mormon does not alter the meaning of the verse, but updates as this use of the word white has fallen out of common speech do to the civil rights movement.
    When it was first write “White and delightsome” the meaning was that of purity of spirit.


    Comment by shematwater | August 27, 2012 | Reply

  3. Also, “Lamanites”.


    Comment by amanzed | August 26, 2012 | Reply

  4. Hi, article appreciate! That passage was “white and delightsome”, not “whitesome…”.

    (I was active, devout Mormon from birth through my 2-year mission in Guatemala until I became agnostic atheist at age 24.)


    Comment by amanzed | August 26, 2012 | Reply

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