The Book of Mormon 10/18
I had heard that the LDS Church used to be a racist organization, and that they denied black people the priesthood until about the time of desegregation. Mormons to my knowledge have always denied these allegations. But now I see where they come from. From reading the BOM, I got the impression that the author considered white skin to be beautiful and black skin to be loathsome.
And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin and she was exceedingly fair and white. (1 Nephi 11:13)I went to Yahoo Answers and posted a question about this. I said, "Do you believe that black people are under a curse? Do you believe that being black is a bad thing? Is it a punishment from God? Do you believe that being white is better than being black? If not, why would God curse Lamanites by making them black, and reward them by making them white?"
And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain. (1 Nephi 13:15)
And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities. (2 Nephi 5:21-22)
O my brethren [Nephites], I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skin [the Lamanites] will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God. (Jacob 3:8)
And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men. (Alma 3:6)
And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites; And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites. (3 Nephi 2:14-15)
All of the Mormons denied that blackness was the curse. Instead, black skin was just a sign that allowed the Nephites to tell who was cursed so they could distinguish between the two people's.
Alma 3:6 explicitly says that the dark skin was the curse. Jacob 3:8 also seems to present a strong case that blackness was the curse. Rather than talking about black and white, it talks about degrees of whiteness in proportion to sin. And Jacob 3:8 is a warning, as if being white is more preferable to being black. And 2 Nephi 5:21-22 seems to clearly indicate that whiteness is delightsome while blackness is loathsome. It explicitly says that God made the Lamanites black so that "they might not be enticing unto my people." Clearly, God was counting on the Nephites to be racists. Or, if not racists, at least to not be very attracted to black people. It was not simply so the Nephites would know who the cursed people were. But judge for yourself.
If blackness was not the curse, then what was the curse?
It would not be surprising at all if this point of view about black people came from the mind of somebody living in America in the 1800's. People used to say that black people were under the curse of Ham. According to this article in Wikipedia, "This racist theory was widely held during the 18th-20th centuries, but it has been largely abandoned since the mid-20th century." There are still people today who believe that theory. I met one just five years ago. It looks to me like Joseph Smith simply inserted a popular myth into his book.