White genocide or how I first encountered the alt-right in a suburban Mormon Fifth-Sunday meeting

Several years ago, I was visiting my mother’s home ward in my hometown in the South. My wife and I went to church with my mom and, as it was a fifth Sunday, all the adults in the ward (without a calling elsewhere) gathered together to watch a video. Normally, this just means that the bishopric hasn’t really had the time to put together a lesson (or call someone to do so). After all, we’ve all looked forward to Church videos when we haven’t gotten our Sunday School lesson together. However, this video wasn’t obviously by the church. I don’t recall the production company, but the content was disturbing.

The main point of video was that women don’t have enough babies. As a result, there were going to be fewer white people. It couched all this in the language of demographic shifts and societal trends, but that was the thrust. At the time, I was irritated because of what it implied we should do about the “problem” (more on that below). Now, I realize that the bishop (or whoever chose the video) was showing us the message of the alt-right.

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about the message of white supremacy in the last few days and about the alt-right’s connection to it. Primarily, it is the message that white folk are the best people, responsible for all the good stuff in western civilization, and that we must maintain some white folk in the world because we’ll lose their special brand of awesomeness otherwise. To do this, white folk must breed true; marrying in the covenant (of whiteness) is the only way to maintain the purity of whiteness. Now the video we watched wasn’t explicit about this. Instead, it simply said that the face of America was changing and that if white women didn’t have more babies we’d have a demographic shift and become a majority Latino and Muslim country. Who wants that, amirite?

I point this out not because I think the bishopric was racist (I mean, they were (we all are, to some degree), but they were probably trying not to be). Nor do I point this out because I know this wasn’t a church-produced video, yet here it was being shown by the local authority in the ward (although one wonders where he got it and why he decided to show it). No, I point it out to note that, although we all know that the alt-right movement is profoundly racist, it is also incredibly misogynist.

You might say that this is obvious; after all, what movement founded in the wilds of 4chan and reddit isn’t wildly misogynist. But here was a crazy, anti-woman screed flying under the radar in a relatively well-to-do, suburban ward. Included in the reasons for this potential “white genocide” was the fact that women go to college, that no-fault divorce is a thing, that marriage is often being postponed. These are all things that increase the economic, political, and societal power of women.

Consider the most famous current Mormon alt-righter. How did she first come to grace our internet presence? By stating that women ought to be having more babies and that she was doing her share. That’s not an explicitly “white power” statement (although those came quickly after) and it’s a statement that probably resonates with a lot of Mormons. Or consider the criticism levied at the woman who was murdered at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Alt-Right and White Supremacist sites have justified her death because she was over 30 and childless. They call her a drain on society. Those are sick, disgusting thoughts, but they aren’t too far removed from the pushes I heard on my mission to baptize more priesthood leaders and fewer single women.

Which is the real issue I have with that video. That no-one in the local leadership thought twice about showing it indicates that they felt like the things that it was saying about women (that women are valuable primarily as mothers, that women’s education distracts them from their true purpose, that women’s independence was a threat to society and social mores, that the best way for women to change the world is to have children) aligned pretty well with what they thought the church taught. Think about that: Valuing women only as mothers is the kind of thing that Nazis do. And we frequently do it in the church.

So, as has been said, it is no wonder to find Fascist folk popping up in the church. Because even if President Hinckley spoke strongly against racism, or the current folk speak softly against it, none of them have disavowed the ideas about women we hold in common with the Nazis. And that is a shame.

Comments

  1. Your post here reminds me of a time on my mission when a zone leader came to visit my district after meeting with the mission president. For whatever reason, he shared with the APs and zone leaders a message similar to the one you talk about in the video and the zone leader passed it along. I want to believe that the mission president was trying to couch it in terms of “Church members need to have more children so we can have greater influence on society” rather than in terms of race, but I find either mentality disturbing.

    I wonder if the video in question got circulated in some special leadership meeting at some point and it filtered down to some members through fifth Sunday meetings or zone conference or some other settings. My mission was from 2002-2004. I wonder if this was the same time as your fifth Sunday meeting?

  2. The fact that this doesn’t surprise me much, but that I cannot imagine any ward showing a far-left video, tells you everything you need to know.

  3. Blessed be the fruit.

  4. A very good article demonstrating at best unbelievable naivety, and at worst a subtle inclusion of fascist ideology to church life and teachings.

    As far as I’m concerned, aligning oneself with any ideology such as the “alt-right” and so forth, is in direct violation of one of the temple recommend questions about our affiliations, memberships, personal views, etc, with individuals or organisations that teach views contrary to the Church and it’s doctrines. Wolves who wear sheeps clothing do so to wreak their havoc from inside the flock. These so-called “alt-right mormons” (notice the use of the little “m”) are nothing more than disruptive egocentric zoramites (again, little “z”) shouting from the rameumptom of racial hatred. We need a modern day Alma and Amulek to show them for what they truly are and to offer them the chance for redemption. Whether they take it is then up to them. As for the rest of us… we must keep on enduring and fighting the spiritual and ideological battles that need to be fought to gain victory over hate, fear, and a self-centred mindset regardless of the influences around us.

  5. Take heart, Carol Lynn Pearson called this very problem out in her 1992 LDS play/book “Mother Wove the Morning”. One of the vignettes focuses in Hilda, a Nazi woman and horrific character who makes the audience squirm as she cites these ideas in context and the audience sees their origin.

  6. In the U.S. classifications based on race, national origin, and alienage require strict scrutiny review. Having got ourselves straight on race back in the 70s (at least in terms of rules and rhetoric going forward, if not so much history and lived practice), Mormons are generally on board.
    The alt-right fringe is challenging the strict scrutiny standards. So are some fringe Mormons. But the evil that’s sneaking in, that I take to be the subject of this OP, is to take up religion (Muslims!) and gender (birth rate!) and states rights (Virginia!) and sex (gays!) as ways to discriminate.
    As Mormons we need to pay close attention and do some soul searching. One response is that these are proxy arguments, all really about race with just a tint of disguise. There’s something to that. And “look through the lies” might be the best one-liner response. However, I think we need to go further, at least where there is enough space and calm for reflection. Because these proxy arguments hit our hypocrisy button. We (I’ll use “we” even though I like to think better of myself) do discriminate on religion (what else can you call it, when we tout “one true”?). We do discriminate on gender–big and bold and few apologies. Our U.S. voting presence is pretty far right on states rights issues. And need we bring up LGBT issues again? Ouch! (I’ve left out our unspoken dis-ease over native Americans and imperialist activities, because that smacks of race and national origin and we just can’t talk about it.)
    When the hypocrisy button is pressed, it is human nature to not like it and slide into “maybe the alt-right has a point (because if they do then I’m not so uncomfortable).” But no! They’re wrong. And if I need a good hard look inside and some discomfort along the way, so be it.

  7. Great comment, Christian!

  8. Consider the criticism levied at the woman who was murdered at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Alt-Right and White Supremacist sites have justified her death because she was over 30 and childless. They call her a drain on society. Those are sick, disgusting thoughts, but they aren’t too far removed from the pushes I heard on my mission to baptize more priesthood leaders and fewer single women.

    Maybe I’m way out of the loop on this, but in my mind those two ideas are pretty far removed from each other. One seems to be a concern that white women aren’t doing their fair share to propagate the race (and therefore lose their value after a certain age if they’re childless), the other a logistical concern regarding the required ratios of priesthood holders to general members to run a branch/ward/district/stake. I’m not saying the message you received on your mission was a good one (I personally endorse “let’s find the elect, single women or otherwise, and adapt the logistical stuff to fit who the Lord has sent ), but I think I need help making the connection you imply.

    Having said that, I am 100% behind not showing videos in church (or anywhere) that promote white racial panic.

  9. To be honest, it *does* shock me. I can’t think of any of the wards I frequent (small sample size ,but located in Texas, Ohio, Utah) who would tolerate that video. I think you’d have a mass exodus of people standing and leaving. But maybe that’s the whole point – that it could pop up anywhere, at any time. Just have to wonder — surely this bishop cleared it with his ward council and counselors ahead of time, right?

  10. Pretty sure I’d be the only person in my ward who’d stand up and walk out.

  11. By matter of principle I don’t attend 5th Sunday meetings. I’ve never sat through one that was edifying. At best, they’re boring. At worst, this (although I’ve never had this experience). Instead, I go home and take a nap.

  12. 5th Sunday meetings in my ward are almost always mediocre, if not outright horrible. The worst involved a long Glenn Beck video; many others have involved false doctrine. The best ones are merely boring.

  13. Well maybe the left can also stop with the “demographics” will kill your party and it will be the end of the evil old white men who are the cause of all evil. When you flaunt demographics in your political opponents face, do you think they are not going to be aware of it?

  14. And this is the main stream version of it…

    timeinc.net – http://www.google.com
    https://www.google.com/amp/amp.timeinc.net/time/4239152/white-voters/

  15. Some people choose to open their eyes and see. Others choose to Nazi.

  16. LadyKerri says:

    Also, what was that GA quote about a single man older than 25(? 30??) being a menace to society or some such tripe? Because, to me anyway, it adds into the rhetoric of Mormon (mostly-white) superiority. Get married and pump out lots of babies so our numbers grow.

    I’ve also read articles about countries in Europe (Germany was one) giving government subsidies to citizens who will have babies–this was in the context of “Muslims are spreading and breeding” and there was fear of the loss of white presence and culture.

    It really makes me think. (And think sad thoughts).

  17. JJ: “the other a logistical concern regarding the required ratios of priesthood holders to general members to run a branch/ward/district/stake.” Yes, but of course that’s a problem we’ve invented that is now ours to solve. There’s no good reason that women couldn’t fill many of the roles reserved for men (at minimum, clerk roles, SS presidency), and there’s no good reason the EQP and HPG couldn’t be collapsed into one group as RS is. Those are my opinions. Our ward’s EQ is like 10 active guys. Do they really need to have their own leadership structure?

    John C: Handmaid’s Tale really put this misogyny together for me (as a feature of white supremacy). But surely that’s a selling point for most Mormons. Sexism seems even more baked in than racism.

  18. “…pushes I heard on my mission to baptize more priesthood leaders and fewer single women.”
    WHAT!?
    What the HECK.

    Man, we have so much work to do in the church. I’ve got a solid testimony of the gospel, but goodness the church (culture) needs WORK.

  19. Angela C: I’m with you on that. I know I don’t get to decide these things, but to me it wouldn’t be too hard for the Church to divide ward governance evenly between RS and Priesthood and then counsel that if one organization is short wards/branches can be adaptive and let the other org pick up the slack. Correlating everything “under” the priesthood orgs has just made it hard for certain areas to grow organically (IMHO).

  20. I can say with some confidence that the ultimate missionary prize in many wards is for a stable, middle-class family. I remember how much joy there was in my ward growing up when the paterfamilias of a part-member family and one of his sons decided to get in the water. (My dad was in the bishopric at the time and indicated that the Ward Council considered the father to be bishop material, even before he got in the water.) For the baptisms of single men and women past childbearing age–which were significantly more common–not so much.

    Such “golden” baptisms happened a lot more often in the ’50s and ’60s, when 1) the anti-Mormon media business (now basically moribund) wasn’t nearly as much of a thing as it was in the ’80s and ’90s; and 2) it was much more common for families to move to new parts of the country, especially from the South and Midwest to the West Coast, and–to build on the Parable of the Sower–disturb their spiritual soil. (The latter also is how evangelical megachurches have grown, particularly in outer suburban and exurban portions of Sun Belt; the classic example is Saddleback Church in South Orange County, and the New York Times Magazine had an excellent feature on a megachurch in Surprise, AZ in the context of how George W. Bush won reelection in 2004.) Now, of course, they’re as rare as hen’s teeth in the US, at least among English speakers. Among Spanish-speakers, of course, it’s a different story: back in spring 2008 I remember going out to the Antelope Valley, an exurban area in the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles, with one of my buddies to take pictures of the poppy bloom. My friend, who’d served in the California Ventura mission in the early ’00s (mostly in Bakersfield and the grim towns of northern Kern County), mentioned that as bleak as the endless housing tracts (which were already turning into foreclosurevilles) looked, as a missionary he would have salivated over them because they would be chock full of “golden” investigators.

  21. Aussie Mormon says:

    “Also, what was that GA quote about a single man older than 25(? 30??) being a menace to society or some such tripe?”

    Not sure if it’s the one you’re thinking of, but George Q. Cannon said this (according to the Journal of Discourses Vol 20, page 7, 1878):
    “Our boys, when they arrive at years of maturity and can take earn of a wife, should get married, and there should not be a lot of young men growing up in our midst who ought to be, but are not married. While I do not make the remark to apply to individual cases, I am firmly of the opinion that a large number of unmarried men, over the age of twenty-four years, is a dangerous element in any community, and an element upon which society should look with a jealous eye. For every man knowing himself, knows how his fellow-man is constituted; and if men do not marry, they are too apt to do something worse. Then, brethren, encourage our young men to marry, and see that they are furnished employment, so that they can marry. “

  22. Things like this make me think correlation is a good thing. At the least we’re getting only 2-3 5th sunday lessons a year, not every single week.

  23. John,

    My educated guess is that the film was Demographic Winter (2008). A lot scare tactics were employed at this time by the World Congress of Families and other traditionally-minded organizations in the face of international same-sex marriage legislation, among other issues. Does this ring a bell?

  24. Frank,
    yep.

    Tod,
    Yeah! That’s the one.

  25. Do you people have any problem with the fact that you would have to condemn 90% of the past Profits, Apostles and members?
    Waiting for the next article on “White Privilege” or some essay on how belief in Christ really isn’t that important, but how much you preach equality or some generic love principal, while denouncing the original sin of “racism.”

    The BofM is a racial book. And no amount of social signaling or projection of modern secular values can change that.

    Unfortunately, the Church has had to move in that direction i.e. closer to “the world,” lest that 501C3 tax-exempt status is revoked.

    Question: Do you think the Church would have begun and grown the way it has if Joseph Smith and others were not White? You are going to say “yes, because if he failed, God would have found someone else and things would have been the same.”

    But JS didn’t fail and God didn’t need/have a second choice, and you have no problems with that same culture/people He created that brought about the restoration, with His blessings, no longer existing?

    And you will call me the hateful one.

  26. Nick H – We don’t condemn them for the same reason we don’t condemn those in the NT who made laws concerning slaves, those in the OT who committed genocide, and we hope those in future generations don’t condemn us. Those in the past (as well as us now) have not received the additional light and knowledge that those in the future do and will have. The BoM constructs “races” from people with the same parentage, some of it as a means to delineate the “bad guys” and often coming back to the conclusion that these “races” make no difference to the righteousness of the people.

    And you should brush up on the whole tax things. It’s far from being in danger of being revoked. i’d recommend several of the tax related posts here on BCC.

    As for your question – Yes, the Church would have grown and thrived. It’s God’s Church, and nothing would have stopped it. It survived the inclusion of racist protestant thought to disinclude black people from the Temple by BY, it continues to survive the alt-right and people “more enlightened” than the Church.

  27. Wow, that’s awful. I hope someday we get past these issues. I wonder what the brethren think about the comment section in Mormon Newsroom with the statement on white supremacists. So many comments wanting to include Black Lives Matter etc.When it comes to women’s issues, racial issues and environmental issues we are a mess.

  28. It just seems…amazing that some people are so quick to disregard the future existence and development of White people (and yes, others). They’re just so quick to throw it away as if an inheritance of thousands of years old is nothing worth preserving, just as long as we “love” each other.

    It’s like telling God, “I know you created the nations (nations means shared ancestry and heritage) and separated them, but, we’re going to do something else now.”

    Honoring thy mother and father also means honoring all of your previous ancestors.

    I realize the concept of “White genocide” sounds conspiratorial and a bit insane to “regular” people, but Whites have gone from 25% of the world’s population a hundred years ago to 8% today. Believe it or not, this isn’t about hate; it’s about preserving God’s creations – all of God’s creations.

    Just think long and hard before disregarding this as if it’s so much non-sense.

  29. it's a series of tubes says:

    Nick, it’s difficult to engage with a prejudice as foundational as yours, but I’ll say only this: if your belief is that “God loves” the creations that he preserves, then by that poisonous rationale God loves little Chinese and south Asian children best. The CK is going to be filled with tens of millions of those precious children who never reached the age of accountability. White boys like me and (presumably) you sit a long, long way down on the ladder. Careful about the bed you make; one day you’ll have to lie in it.

  30. God did not create most of the nations on earth–man did. The idea of a (nearly) monoethnic Han “China,” for example, has waxed and waned over the past 2000 years.

  31. @Series of Tubes: I never said other peoples wouldn’t be preserved, so I’m not sure what the future population of the CK has to do with anything. And I said God loves his creations.” And I find it interesting that someone could turn even that into something anti-white.

    @APM: Maybe you should read Genesis 10? There are three main races, everything else, is man-made combination of the three.

    And, I do find it disturbing that I have to justify the further existence of White people.

    Question: The OT and BofM is full of laws and statutes commanding separation of the peoples.

    Was God “racist?” Has he now “changed His mind?” Yes or no.

  32. And, BTW, “nation” means “ethnos,” meaning kinsman, shared blood.

  33. And so does “neighbor”for that matter.

  34. Nick,
    God is not racist. People who write down scripture often are. Be careful how closely you align yourself to the ethnic thought of early Iron Age peoples.

    But whether or not God did command separation of peoples, if you are a believing Mormon, he clearly isn’t doing that now. So go peddle your wares somewhere else, okay?

  35. Martin James says:

    As you are likely aware, in a general conference talk by Dallin Oaks, “No other Gods”, he states.
    “Because of what we understand about the potentially eternal role of the family, we grieve at the sharply declining numbers of births and marriages in many Western countries whose historic cultures are Christian and Jewish.”
    Do you think that this type of grief and concern is less somehow morally suspect? Wanting more babies for everyone, including white Christians seems fundamental to mormon beliefs. Do you disagree?

  36. it's a series of tubes says:

    And, BTW, “nation” means “ethnos,” meaning kinsman, shared blood.

    Watch out for the 17th chapter of the book of Acts. It’s a tricky one!

  37. Martin,
    I’m not clear on what you are asking.

  38. @A Series of Tubes: Watch out for actual paleo-Hebraic and Greek words and their meanings; it’s a tricky one!

    You do realize the scriptures weren’t written in English right?

  39. Nick H, when you’re in a hole, the first rule is to stop digging. Those racist readings of scripture are false, apostate doctrine. They are foolish and evil and the spirit does not testify of them.

  40. it's a series of tubes says:

    Thanks Nick, I find Strong’s concordance, and the use of multiple translations, to be a helpful jumping-off point for me when I read the NT. That being said, in verse 26 Paul addresses and eviscerates your argument. Don’t feel bad about it; there’s nothing new under the sun and the position you hold has been held by other fools for thousands of years.

  41. It’s almost surreal having these types of discussions with folks such as yourselves.
    You can call them “racist readings of scripture” or any modern worldly term you’d like; fact remains, it says what it says. So if you’re calling the actual, original words of the scriptures evil…well then, you probably should be a little concerned.

    I really am sorry to say, but this is the exact reason why a lot of people don’t take modern, liberalized Christianity seriously anymore. If the Scripture says something that offends modern sensibilities, it is changed to conform to the current cultural narrative.

    The Church isn’t as bad as other denominations, but unfortunately, give it a few years. The way things are going, the Bible and the BofM are going to be considered hate speech. One denomination already came out with another addition of the Bible that wasn’t “anti-Semitic” and uses gender-neutral pronouns.

    Now, I will leave you in peace.

  42. I saw Demographic Winter years ago, so maybe I would perceive it differently now, but at the time I didn’t perceive a racist (or “pro-white”) message. Its main message, as I recall, is that our economic model is based on population growth, and at least as long as that’s our model, population decline leads to economic decline. I remember thinking, “If more conservatives saw this, perhaps they wouldn’t be so opposed to immigration.”

    Also, I think it may have been a BYUTV project. Regardless, I agree that none of that makes it appropriate material to show in church.

  43. Elizabeth St Dunstan says:

    Bravo, John C. I’ve been saying this for years, but as a childless woman in my thirties, many members assume I speak from a place of bitterness rather than logic. It’s treated as though I’m trying to justify my sins when I’m really trying to bring some Christlike equality into the culture.

    Side note, I served my mission in Germany, and it happened more often than not that when we brought an investigator family to church, they would tell us “no thanks” after the meeting because it struck them as too similar to the far right.

  44. Elizabeth St Dunstan says:

    LadyKerri –

    Just a quick note. From my experience living in Europe (some as a college student, some as a missionary, and some as more tourism than residence), the programs that offer tax incentives to have children aren’t racially specific. They are part gender equality (closing the pay gap by offering leave to both parents and providing childcare for working families), part recognition of the social contract (it benefits me to have a large and educated workforce in my old age so there are enough nurses, etc, so I must provide for the young now so they can provide for me later, regardless of whether I have children or not. Those same ideas also reduce crime and make my society safer), and part a decline in overall population. The race of the parents and child did not change the programs and incentives available, provided that one parent was a citizen of the country in question.

  45. John C., was your Mom’s ward in Hilldale or Colorado City? ;)
    That is SO disturbing! I hope somebody contacts the appropriate church leadership to straighten them out, initiate discipline, whatever…

  46. Jenny Harrison says:

    This is crazy stuff! I would have stood up, told them in no uncertain terms that I disagreed, and left the building. As for the comments that have been made – God made one race, the Human Race. The color of your skin doesn’t matter. We should all intermarry, then the problem would be resolved.

  47. Not at all surprised that type of material was presented during church on the 5th Sunday.
    It reminds me of the time the Stake leadership presented political material–the “Six Consequences if Prop 8 Fails” during the 5th Sunday meeting block. When we pointed out
    inaccuracies/untruths in the material to Stake leaders (after the presentation) we were basically ignored, and told there was no point in taking it “up the chain” because the issue would just get returned to the local level.

    The World Conference of Families held a conference in Utah in 2015. One of the speakers
    at the conference was Elder Ballard.

  48. lois,

    I remember that same 5th Sunday in summer 2008. It ended up pushing a lot of people who were cautiously Yes on 8 (i.e., for the ban) over the fence into the quiet but firm No category. This was in a singles ward in L.A. full of entertainment industry workers and other highly educated young people who had gay acquaintances and coworkers. The horrendous caricatures painted by the official Church presentation bore no resemblance to the people they knew.

    It reminds me of when the local Missouri Synod Lutheran church in our south suburb of Denver showed The God-Makers a couple weeks before the Denver Temple opened; one of my dad’s coworkers was so offended that he started going to the nearby ELCA church instead.

  49. APM,
    ” It ended up pushing a lot of people who were cautiously Yes on 8 (i.e., for the ban) over the fence into the quiet but firm No category.”
    Yes. I totally understand that.
    As a result of the “Six Consequences” lesson and ward/stake leader’s (lack of) response, my husband resigned his position in the bishopric and has significantly reduced his church involvement.

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