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Cursed Since Birth: Romney, Race, and the Politics of Religion

Mitt Romney

“Some people sayin’ that we’re cursed/the lack of Knowledge of ourselves makes it worse.” – “Soul Controller”, Grand Puba

The church was filled with the sound of hand claps and amens, as the conservative presidential candidate, Joseph Young, stood before the all Black congregation. They nodded in agreement as he admonished the young men in the congregation to “pull their pants up” and the young women to “stop having so many babies.” But when Pastor Jones patted him on the back and said, “We’re all brothers and sisters who will meet at the pearly white gates,” Young said, “Sorry, Rev. Heaven ain’t got no ghetto” and walked out the door….

Last week, the New York Times (NYT) exposed a secret plot by “a group of high-profile Republican strategists,” commissioned by billionaire Joe Ricketts (whose family owns the Chicago Cubs), to once again demonize President Barack Obama’s former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright in attack ads against the President.

The 54 page plan, which was accessible through the NYT website, called “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End His Spending for Good,” not only called for the creation of vicious commercials but, in order to avoid accusations of racism, the use of “an extremely literate African American” such as talk show host Larry Elder as the face of the operation. Also, according to the plan they were going to get a “group of African American business leaders” to push the agenda.

You can’t say they didn’t have all their bases covered. (Well, I guess accept for some snitch leaking it to the press.)

If you can remember, four years ago, the Right Wing ace-in-the-hole was supposed to be Obama’s religion. They believed he was either a Muslim posing as a Christian, or the ring leader of some militant Black Theology Liberation movement. According to the NYT, even though he denounced the ad plan, Mitt Romney once “suggested that Obama wanted to make America into a less Christian Nation.”

What is most disturbing about these accusations is not the politics, but the hypocrisy. Although the Prez’s faith has been highly scrutinized, Romney’s Mormon beliefs are hardly mentioned.

Although, most people are only familiar with Mormonism (Church of the Latter Day Saints) from the ol’ school “Donny and Marie Osmond” show, or the missionaries who ride through the ‘hood on 10-speed bicycles in the freshly pressed white shirts, the religion has a largely unknown racist history.

According to Richard Abanes in his book, One Nation Under Gods, the belief in Black inferiority by the Mormon Church is based on a “cosmic war” between the armies of “Christ and Satan” eons ago, and those who were “indecisive and or less valiant” in the war were born Black. Hence, the origins of the curse.

Also, Richard and Joan Ostling in their book, Mormon America, claimed that noted Mormon leader, Brigham Young (after whom the university is named), once said that it was the law of God that if a white person had sex with a “seed of Cain” (a dark-skinned person), the penalty was, as they say on the streets, KOS (Kill On Sight).

Now that’s gangsta.

The Encyclopedia of Mormonism states that “prior to 1978, Black members could not hold the priesthood or participate in Temple ordinances.” It also states that when African Americans were fighting and dying for their civil rights in the ’60s, there were “athletic boycotts of Brigham Young University, threatened lawsuits and condemnations of the church.”

To be fair, Mormonism is not the only faith that has used religion to justify bigotry. Christians used the “curse of Ham” myth to justify slavery. According to the story, Noah cursed his grandson Canaan, therefore all of his descendants were destined to slaves. Although this is often attributed to the Bible, it is actually based , mostly, on the Babylonian Talmud, as Dr. Cain Hope Felder points out in “Stony the Road We Trod.”

Although, demonized by the Right Wing, it must be noted that Black Liberation Theology is, merely, a reaction to these Black inferiority myths. For, if it was not for religious racism ,there would have been no need for the creation of the theology in the first place. Also, even though the talking heads on Fox News seem to believe that the belief started with Rev. Wright, its roots actually go back to Bishop Henry Mc Neal Turner in the late 19th Century. The theology was later propagated during the Civil Rights/Black Power Era by ministers such as Rev. Albert Cleage (Jaramogi Abebe Agyeman) and Dr. James Cone.

The ideology has even been a part of rap music, as Hip-Hop artists such as Sunz of Man and Brand Nubian have challenged Eurocentric religious thought in their lyrics.

Unfortunately, the idea of Black skin being a curse is also embedded in Hip-Hop. In such songs as “Only God Can Judge Me” and “Game’s Been Good to Me” by Tupac Shakur, the running theme is “I’m just a young Black male/cursed since my birth.” Also, his late rival the Notorious B.I.G. rapped that he was “Black and ugly as ever.” So the ideology that Black people are divinely ordained to live in poverty and despair must be challenged.

One must ask why Black leaders seem to be avoiding this issue like the plague, and others are content to ignore the two ton Republican elephant in the room?

Maybe they are saving the issue for the grand finale pre-election show stopper, or perhaps they are afraid that they might get run over by the boys on the bikes.

Who knows?

Bottom line is people in glass churches shouldn’t throw stones.

Regardless, once again, it falls on Hip-Hop to raise the issues that others are afraid to touch. It is up to our journalists and artists to make sure that the issue of religious racism is raised loud and often.

Like Killah Priest said on “BIBLE (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth)”, some people in this country…

“…need to chill and get their minds revived/ for years religion did nothing but divide.”

TRUTH Minista Paul Scott’s weekly column is “This Ain’t Hip Hop,” a column for intelligent Hip Hop headz. He can be reached at info@nowarningshotsfired.com, on his website at www.NoWarningShotsFired.com, or on Twitter (@truthminista).

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