Last weekend, we screened Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons in Boise, Idaho. The response was MOSTLY positive, but I did have an e-mail from an audience member which indicated that all were not satisfied. Since at MM we’ve talked about whether or not to raise controversies in public settings, and how to respond to someone whose views we find — oh, what’s the word — appalling, I thought I’d give everyone some practice.

How would you respond to this (only a snippet of what I received):

I believe that there was some reason that the priesthood had been denied to the Blacks and that it was God who made that law, just as it was God who cursed the Lamanites with dark skin because of their disobedience. As to whether Blacks are born black because they were not valiant in the pre-existence is opinion and conjecture, but the regulation barring Blacks from the priesthood, was in itself a judgment from God. That is why it was necessary to have a revelation from God that it was time to have that doctrine set aside in preparation for the Second Coming.

It is my understanding that Cain and his descendants were cursed with not being able to hold the priesthood, and they were marked with a black skin so that others would know not to mingle with and marry them, therefore bringing the curse on their children, which was the same reason that the Lamanites were marked with dark skin. The reason that Blacks could not hold the priesthood is as old as time itself, and we don’t fully understand why, we just know that that is the way it was. Jews have historically been mistreated and hated and we know that that is a result of their ancestors’ responsibility for denying Christ as the Savior and bringing about his death. Their lot was to be smitten and scattered and become a hiss and a byword — the same for the Lamanites and their descendants, the American Indians.

None of the persecution and cruelty visited on Jews, Blacks or American Indians can be justified and explained away as “they deserved it,” but it was the consequence of choices made by their ancestors when they rejected God.