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Does Mormonism Have Racist Theology? (Part 5 of 5)

As we conclude our discussion of black Mormon pioneer Jane Manning James, we will talk about this question: what role does race play in LDS Theology?  Many black church members have been told they will be white in the resurrection.  Is our theology an example of white supremacy?  Dr. Quincy Newell will answer these questions.

Quincy:  [Jane] was well respected in the community, in part because of her relationship to Joseph Smith. She was one of the last people alive, who had known him in person, and so she was sought out for her memories of the Prophet. And Joseph F. Smith spoke at her funeral. She was she was celebrated and lauded as an upstanding member of the community, well-respected and to be missed. But, at the same time, one account of the funeral said that Joseph F. Smith talked about how she would receive all of her wishes in heaven, and that she would have a white and glorified body. And that’s not an exact quote, but he did say she would be white.

And, there’s a really interesting aspect to imagining that scene. If you think about Joseph F. Smith standing in front of a congregation that includes a lot of black faces, and talking about how Jane, this respected black woman in the community is going to be white in heaven, that’s all kinds of problematic.

GT:  And I know a lot of people are going to have a hard time with that. Because they’re like, “Well, that’s not racist.”

Quincy:  No, but that’s racist.

GT:  Oh, I know it is. I know I’m going to get comments on that. But anyway, even as late as 1978, I remember President Kimball, who we all laud for this wonderful [revelation], talked about Indians who would become a white and delightsome people. And I know he said that with the best of intentions. And it’s hard, I think, especially for really Orthodox people to say that’s a racist statement. But it’s a racist statement. And so it’s hard because I know a lot of black people, Indians, whatever nationality, have had to deal with this. I hate to call it white supremacy.

Quincy:  It’s white supremacy.

GT:  But that’s what it is.

Quincy:  Yeah, it is.

GT:  And so what can we say to people to get them to understand that that really is racist theology?

Quincy:  Not being an LDS theologian, that is a challenging question for me to answer. So I think there are Mormon theologians who are far more able to address this question than I. But I guess I would start with the idea that the Bible says we are all made in God’s image. I was raised as a Protestant. And so, I think of God as beyond gender, beyond race, not having either one of those characteristics. I know for Mormons, that’s different. But I think that you have to start with the question of, why is the default image of God, an old white guy? Right?

Check out our conversation….

When we say that black people will become white in heaven, is that a form of racist theology?

Don’t miss out other conversations with Dr. Quincy Newell!

316: Jane’s Pioneer Travels to Utah

315:  Jane’s One-Of-A Kind Sealing to Joseph Smith

314: 19th Century Sexual Politics

313: Was Jane a Slave?

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Can Anything Good Come from…Warsaw? Yes! (Part 7 of 7)

This is our final conversation with Brian Stutzman, and we’ll talk about Warsaw, Illinois today.  Brian thinks this should be a must-stop for church history buffs.  We’ll also discuss how Brian came to love the city, and how he came there and how he would like to restore the city to its historic roots.

Brian:  I drove into town and saw this building.   It says Thomas Sharp, Warsaw Signal.  Little did I know that the Lutherans help fund that building.  How ironic. In 1987, there was a Mormon historian from Nauvoo named Michael Trap. He came down and he gathered some people together and says, “You know what, you got some history here. Maybe it’s the dark side of Mormon history. But let’s take this old grocery store.”  I think it was built in 1880, “and we’ll raise some money and we’ll make it look like it would have an 1840. We’ll get an old press in here.”

So I really enjoy getting to know the good people.  They had me speak at their historical society last year when my book was in the first edition. There’s a ton–1550 people, we had over 100 people together at the high school and I gave a little presentation on the overview of my book. This sweet old lady comes up and says, “Will you move here to Warsaw?” Because I told them at the end of my presentation I said, “You need to promote your town. You’ve got a story to tell. There’s a tragic triangle here. Thousands, millions of people know about Nauvoo. Thousands, millions of people know about Carthage. Nobody’s heard of Warsaw. When people go, they’re only seeing two thirds of what they should see.  You need to come down.  You need to invite LDS tourists to come here. You need to have a sign that says this is where Willard Richards and Brigham Young we’re going to build a Mormon community at our request that people of Warsaw’s request, even though the local histories, including 1880 Thomas Greg said that they almost fell into the hands of the Mormons.”

He also tells about a beloved Mormon family in Warsaw.  Check out our conversation, by signing up to our free newsletter to hear the final part.  Go to https://www.GospelTangents.com/newsletter and I will send you a secret link to hear the conclusion!

Brian Stutzman has ideas for a Mormon history tour of Warsaw, Illinois!

 

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Warsaw: Boom or Bust?

Following the acquittal of the murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, what happened to the town of Warsaw, Illinois.  Was it a boom-town, a bust, or both?  Brian Stutzman will answer that.

Brian:  After the church left the area in 1846-47, and moved West, Warsaw prospered for about 30 years because of these rapids. The lightening had to happen. Then in 1877, the government spent $4.5 million at the time and built an eight mile canal on the other side of the river from Keokuk north and it made it so most river boats didn’t have to stop anymore at Warsaw they could just march right up the Mississippi. Within a couple decades, the population of Warsaw went from 4500 down to 2000. Now imagine a frontier town with houses and buildings and stores and hotels for 4500, and all of the sudden, within a couple decades, you’re down to 2000.  You’ve got a lot of empty real estate. That continued to decline.  Today there’s 1550 people on the last census. They’ve got a lot of old, decrepit broken-down buildings.

Brian also tells a chilling story about early Mormon convert Dan Jones.

Brian: They’re lying on the floor and Joseph offers his arm to Dan for a pillow. They’re sitting there talking about life and death and asked if they were ready to die. They suspected that the end might be there. Dan says, “Well, I think I’m ready to die.”  Joseph gives his last prophecy. He gives it to Dan Jones, who was converted because of Thomas Sharp and had just talked to Frank Worrell.  Joseph says, “Dan you will yet see Wales and fulfill the mission appointed to you.”

Brian  This is that night. The next morning Dan Jones is in the jail.  Joseph says, “I’m not feeling good about things. Will you go and get my attorney down in Quincy?” Dan says, “Sure, I’ll leave,” and as he leaves. He goes down the stairs and gets on his horse, and as he leaves he’s shot at by some anti-Mormon mobster. He gets so turned around, he actually takes the wrong road out of town, not to Quincy and he later learns that there was a mob of several hundred people just down the road waiting to kill him, if he went down to Quincy.  The mob was on the correct road. Dan got confused and turned and went down the wrong road and it saved his life. Otherwise, he would have been killed.

Check out our conversation….

Warsaw experience both a boom and a bust following the Mormon exodus from Illinois.

Don’t miss out other conversations with Brian!

310: Kangaroo Court at Carthage

309: Gov. Thomas Ford’s Role in Martyrdom & Trial

308: Profile of Anti-Mormon Thomas Sharp

307: The Warsaw-Nauvoo Rivalry

306: The Anti-Mormon Triangle: Warsaw, Carthage, Nauvoo