Mormons and the Civil Rights Act

The Boston Globe posts an incredible letter from one of the Mormon “prophets” to then-Michigan Gov. George Romney in 1964, taking him to task for his support of the Civil Rights Act. I took the time to convert the PDF to text so I could copy it here because I want to be able to highlight some of the mind-blowing statements found in it.

Governor George W. Romney

Governor’s Mansion

Lansing, Michigan

Dear George:

It was a real pleasure to greet and have a moment to visit with you and Lenore here this past week. It is wonderful to see how enthusiastically you are received by the good people of Utah.

After listening to your talk on Civil Rights, I am very much concerned. Several others have expressed the same concern to me. It does not altogether harmonize with my own understandings regarding this subject; therefore, I thought to drop you a note — not in my official Church position, but as a personal friend. Only President McKay can speak for the Church.

I felt, George, your views were most liberal on this vital problem in the light of the revelations, but nevertheless, I cannot deny you the right of your position if it represents your true belief and feelings.

I would like to suggest you read two items on this subject, both by the Prophet Joseph Smith. Turn to page 269 of Teachings Of The Prophet Joseph Smith by Joseph Fielding Smith, and read beginning the middle of the page under the caption, “The Status of the Negro,” giving particular attention to the closing sentence on page 270. Also, read from Histopy of the Church, Period 1, Volume 2, beginning on page 436, under the heading, “The Prophet’s Views on

Abolition,” which article continues to the bottom of page 440. After reading this last-mentioned statement by the Prophet, then come back to the last paragraph on page 438, and give it some real thought. When I reflect upon the Prophet’s statements and remember what happened to three of our nation’s presidents who were very active in the Negro cause, I am sobered by their demise. They went contrary to the teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith —

unwittingly, no doubt, but nevertheless, the prophecy of Joseph Smith, “. . . those who are determined to pursue a course, which shows an opposition, and a feverish restlessness against the decrees 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,” has and will continue to be fulfilled.

In this respect, let me give you a personal experience. A friend of mine in Arizona — not a Church member — a great champion of the colored race -— came to me after my call into the Twelve, and acknowledged President McKay to be a Prophet of God. He wanted me to ask President McKay to inquire of the Lord to see if the Lord would not lift the curse from the colored race and give them the privileges of the Priesthood. I explained to him that the Lord had placed the curse upon the Negro, which denied him the Priesthood; therefore, it was the Lord’s responsibility — not man’s — to change His decision. This friend of mine met a very tragic end by drowning. He was a most enthusiastic advocate of the colored cause and went about promoting for them all the privileges, social opportunities, and participation enjoyed by the Whites.

I am sure you know that the Prophet Joseph Smith, in connection with the Negro problem of this country, proposed to Congress that they sell public lands and buy up the Negro slaves and transport them back to Africa from whence they came. I am sure the Prophet, with his vision and understanding, foresaw the problems we are faced with today with this race, which caused him to promote this program.

The statements of the Prophet Joseph Smith have been a helpful influence on me because they accord with my own understandings regarding the Negro. I cannot, in my own feelings, accept the idea of public accomodations; the taking from the Whites their wishes to satisfy the Negros. I do not have any objection to recognizing the Negro in his place and giving him every opportunity for education, for employment, for whatever contribution he can make to the society of men and the protection and blessings of Government. Yet, all these things, in my judgment, should accord with the expressions of the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is not right to force any class or race of people upon those of a different social order or race classification. People are happier when placed in the environment and association of

like interests, racial instincts, habits, and natural groupings.

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