"Below is the full text of a lesson taught in the Church’s adult Sunday School classes on August 4, 1935. I do not know the author; the lesson was distributed anonymously with the quarterly “Gospel Messages” leaflet issued by the Deseret Sunday School Union Board, as were all other Sunday School lessons in that era. I haven’t changed a single word, not even the occasional outdated vocabulary."
It is important to emphasize that the following quotes have not been altered at all from when they were published in 1935.
"The problem of getting along with people of different racial origin has been a difficult one of solution from the dawn of history and persists even to the present time. There seems to be some sort of a natural antagonism which exists between peoples of different ancestry. This tendency is stronger when there is a marked physical feature of some sort which distinguishes these races from each other. Thus, the difference in skin color between the white and the black races has always been a barrier between the peoples of these differing colors. The same thing is true in regard to those peoples which we know as the yellow races and the whites and blacks."
This beginning paragraph lays a foundation of "natural antagonism" as the source of racial tension. That is fascinating, since it implies that racism is a consequence of the "natural man" - the enemy of God.
"There has always been a tendency for those of one race to consider themselves superior to people of a different race. This feeling seems as natural as it is for members of most families to think themselves in some manner superior, or individuals to hold similar opinions regarding themselves. Usually, if examined from a purely objective point of view, these claims to superiority are found to be without foundation."
This is an amazing statement for the time - that any feelings of superiority based on race are incorrect and, again, "natural man" tendencies.
"Yet, without the multitude having been aware of the fact, their religion has been used in an attempt to determine a policy in this, as in every other important consideration in life."
Remember, this was published in a General Sunday School lesson - distributed throughout the Church. Wow!
"It is evident that the Jews considered themselves superior to the black people with whom they came in contact, for in their religious writings they tell us how God placed a mark upon the descendants of Cain and his children. And in another place the tradition has the story of the cursing of Ham, the son of Noah. As the result of these cursings, the descendants of these men became dark skinned and the children of Ham were designated as servants to the descendants of other sons of Noah . . . Here we see an indication of an antagonism between the dark skinned and lighter skinned peoples, the latter placing a curse upon the former."
The lesson says that people put the curse on other people and claimed it was of God, NOT that God did so.
"Most of the early Christians were Jews and they brought with them into the new religious group the race prejudices of their own people. Yet Paul explained to them how they had misunderstood their own religion in this regard and he succeeded in leaving the new and growing church the far greater idea of the brotherhood of man in Christ."
This says the expansion of the Gospel by Paul to the Gentiles is a model of how the racial prejudice of his time was overcome - that the prejudice needed to be rooted out by a pure understanding of the Gospel ("good news") of Jesus Christ.
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26)
"No finer declaration of the brotherhood of man can be found than this. Here Paul says in substance: Jesus has given us a new vision of the universal Fatherhood of God. By faith in Jesus you are all the children of the God of Abraham. More, you are the actual descendants of Abraham and all the promises which God has made to Abraham he makes equally to you. God cares nothing for race, He cares nothing for condition of servitude, He cares nothing for sex. All God is interested in is that you follow the teaching of his son, Jesus."
This statement could not have been worded any more forcefully and clearly.
"Joseph Smith is credited with having said that when a man joins the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that he becomes, by so doing, of the “blood of Israel.” It appears that we are justified in concluding from what we have seen that John the Baptist and Paul and Joseph Smith all saw the great truth that actual physical descent, in other words race, is of no importance in the sight of God."
"The brotherhood of man, as springing from the common Fatherhood of God, is the very essence of Christianity. The teaching of Jesus has no place for race hatred, racial distrust, any feeling of racial superiority. The brotherhood of man transcends all lines of color, of race, of family."
Again, no clearer words are possible.
"Christianity holds within it the solution to all our race problems. That solution rests in the mere application of the spirit of the religion of Jesus to all situations which rise."
AMEN, and amen.
Thank you, Ardis, for finding and publishing this lesson. Please, everyone, go to her blog and read the entire lesson.
Oh, that we collectively had understood and followed its simple message.