Go as a Servant

Race

Excerpts from a 1954 Address by Apostle Mark E. Petersen, ‘Race Problems As They Affect The Church’: 1

“It is a good thing to understand exactly what the Negro has in mind on this subject, I’ll be talking about other races besides Negroes, of course, but it is the Negro question which pinpoints it, so I would like to talk first of all about the Negro and his civil rights. We who teach in the Church certainly must have our feet on the ground and not be led astray by the philosophies of men on this subject any more than any other subject.”

“I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a café where white people sit. He isn’t just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. From this and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not. be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it. We must not allow our feelings to carry us away, nor must we feel so sorry for Negroes that, we will open our arms and embrace them with everything we have. Remember the little statement that they used to say about sin, “First we pity, then endure, then embrace.””

“Is there any reason to think that the same principle of rewards and punishments did not apply to us and our deeds in the pre-existent world as will apply hereafter? Is there reason then why the type of birth we receive in this life is not a reflection of our worthiness or lack of it in the pre-existent life? We must accept the justice of God. He is fair to all. He is not a respector of persons. He will meet to us according to what we deserve. With that in mind, we can account in no other way for the birth of some of the children of God in darkest Africa, or in flood-ridden China, or among the starving hordes of India, while some of the rest of us are born in the United States? We cannot escape the conclusion that because of performance in our pre-existence some of us are born as Chinese, some as Japanese, some as Indians, some as Negroes, some as Americans, some as Latter-day Saints. There are rewards and punishments, fully in harmony with His established policy in dealing with sinners and saints, regarding all according to their deeds.”

“Was segregation a wrong principle? When the Lord chose the nations to which the spirits were to come, determining that some would be Japanese and some would be Chinese and some Negroes and some Americans, He engaged in an act of segregation. When He permitted the banishment of Hagar and Ishmael again He indulged in segregation. In the case of Jacob and Esau, He engaged in segregation. When He preserved His people Israel in Egypt for 400 years, He engaged in an act of segregation, and when He brought them up out of Egypt and gave them their own land, He engaged in an act of segregation. We speak of the miracle of the preservation of the Jews as a separate people over all these years. It was nothing more or less than an act in segregation. I’m sure the Lord had His hand in it because the Jews still have a great mission to perform. In placing a curse on Laman and Lemuel, He engaged in segregation. When He placed the mark upon Cain, He engaged in segregation. When he told Enoch not to preach the gospel to the descendants of Cain who were black, the Lord engaged in segregation. When He cursed the descendants of Cain as to the Priesthood, He engaged in segregation. When He forbade intermarriages as He does in Deuteronomy, Chapter 7, He established segregation.”

“Who placed the Negroes originally in darkest Africa? Was it some man, or was it God? And when He placed them there, He segregated them.”

“The Lord segregated the people both as to blood and place of residence, at least in the bases of the Lamanites and the Negroes we have the definite word of the Lord himself that He placed a dark skin upon then: as a curse — as a sign to all others. He forbade inter-marriage with them under threat of extension of the curse (2 Nephi 5:21) And He certainly segregated the descendants of Cain when He cursed the Negro as to the Priesthood, and drew an absolute line. You may even say He dropped an iron curtain there. The Negro was cursed as to the Priesthood, and therefore, was cursed as to the blessings of the Priesthood. Certainly God made a segregation there.”

“Think of the Negro, cursed as to the Priesthood. Are we prejudiced, against him? Unjustly, sometimes we’re accused of having such a prejudice. But what does the mercy of God have for him? This Negro, who in the pre-existence life lived the type of life which justified the Lord in sending him to the earth in the lineage of Cain with a black skin, and possibly being born in darkest Africa – if that Negro is willing when he hears the gospel to accept it, he may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the Celestial Kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get a Celestial resurrection. He will get a place in the celestial glory. He will not go then even with the honorable men of the earth to the Terrestrial glory, nor with the ones spoken of as being without law.”

“Well, what about the removal of the curse? We know what the Lord has said in the Book of Mormon in regard to the Lamanites – they shall become a white and delightsome people. I know of no scripture having to do with the removal of the curse from the Negro.”

“Now what is our policy in regard to intermarriage? As to the Negro, of course, there is only one possible answer. We must not intermarry with the Negro.”

“If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse. There isn’t any argument, therefore, as to inter marriage with the Negro, is there? There are 50 million Negroes in the United States. If they were to achieve complete absorption with the white race, think what that would do. With 50 million Negroes inter-married with us, where would the priesthood be? who could hold it, in all America? Think what that would do to the work of the Church!”

“I would be willing that they have all the advantages they can get out of life in the world, but let them enjoy these things among themselves. I think the Lord segregated the Negro and who is man to change that segregation? It reminds me of the scripture on marriage, “what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Only here we have the reverse of he thing–what God hath separated, let not man bring together again.”

 

References

References
1 Apostle Mark E. Petersen address given at The Convention of Teachers of Religion On The College Level, Provo, Utah August 27, 1954. Race Problems As They Affect The Church – https://archive.org/details/RaceProblemsAsTheyAffectTheChurchMarkEPetersen

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