Saturday, March 28, 2015

Janis Ian, provocateur...

Over the past couple of years, I have developed an appreciation for Janis Ian.  She's famously known as a singer-songwriter who wrote thoughtful social consciousness songs like "Society's Child" and "At Seventeen".  She's also apparently a really cool lady with a wicked sense of humor and quite the moxie.

Some time ago, I started following Janis Ian on Facebook.  I am frequently surprised and delighted by her posts, which are often funny and thought provoking.  Yesterday, in the wake of Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Janis started posting jokes about religion and politics.  She even dared to post this.

Dear Abby,

My church believes dark skin is punishment from God. My best player is African American. Should I bounce him?

Mormon in Indiana

Naturally, this post brought out heated protests from members of the LDS church.  Janis Ian got accused of spreading hate and being a bigot...  I must say, the comments were pretty funny.

  •  Gosh these are funny and I appreciate the point you're making, but isn't signing Mormon in Indiana just doing the same kinda bigotry? I've meet a lot great Mormon's in my time and I know that there are lot of creepy Mormon's as well, but really this one should be thought through. Maybe too pointed? What do you think Abby?
    Like · Reply · 3 · Yesterday at 4:22am · Edited
    • Janis Ian One of my closest friends in the world is a devout Mormon. I don't think it's any more bigoted than citing Christians or Jews or any other sect - they're all fair game. And to those arguing that the Mormon church changed after an LDS priest had a "revelation" that dark-skinned people were not cursed, that was relatively recent. Plenty of Mormons still believe it and are taught it. And no women priests? Come on. Same as my own religion, Jewish - orthodox Jews don't have female rabbis. I expect at some point there will be a revelation about that too, if it makes sense politically and economically.
      My two cents.
      Unlike · 28 · 19 hrs
    •  Cha-Ching!
      Like · 19 hrs
    •  yeah but if it was signed Lesbian? One for all and all for one.
      Like · 18 hrs
    •  really everyone justify s their hate just like that. doesn't it need to stop somewhere?
      Like · 18 hrs
    •  Janis, from looking at the comments, your "Dear Abby" letter has apparently convinced a lot of your followers that this is current Mormon belief, and it's not. Your Godzilla haiku are a bright spot in my day, but this from you just makes me sad.
      Like · 14 hrs
    •  I think it' hilarious!! Every mormon I've ever met had been a whack job! Just sayin'... My two cents!!
      Like · 14 hrs
    •  I don't think the Mormonism is, currently, any more racist any other mainstream religion. There are, of course, fringe sects (probably more accurately, cults) which do espouse racist beliefs.
      Like · 11 hrs
    •  research the mormon church and their financial and land holdings and wonder...what are they actually tryng to do. it is worth the time
      Like · 6 hrs

    Now who's a bigot? You're absolutely wrong that Mormons believe that. Some members of that church in the 19th century were bigots, reflecting the beliefs of the time and of their culture. These beliefs were taught within small communities in the intermountain West that were ignorant and didn't have much communication with the outside world. The Mormon church has released a position paper on race and its history which admits some of its leaders in the past taught racist dogma and today rejects all of those theories or beliefs. You can find it here: For information about black Mormons, check out Genesis Group: For information about Mormon outreach to the LGBT community, check out Affirmation:

      I am a Mormon Seminary teacher. This is not a correct understanding of what our church teaches, and it makes me sad that misinformation like this is being spread.

      Like · Reply · 17 · Yesterday at 2:40am

      I'm a seminary teacher as well. We often talk of the stereotypes the kids face at school. Sad...

      Like · 1 · Yesterday at 4:19am

      You're right. I have a number of close friends who are LDS members. They're good people, not bigots and not phonies and I know your church doesn't teach rasicm...but with that said, the FACT still remains that organized religion in general is the single greatest source perpetuating ignorance on the face of the earth....and the Republican party is a close second.

      Like · 2 · 11 hrs · Edited

      Oh get a sense of humor ... The church of LDS was a major player in prejudice against blacks for decades

      Like · 2 · 20 hrs

      • PoppyTim Cahall's photo.
        Like · 8 hrs
      •  first what does that have to do with the price of beans? Second- give me a break. Live and let live and move on.
I had a good time reading what people had to say.  The comments ran the gamut, but the ones from TBMs were the most entertaining.  As usual, they were spouting off what they have been taught by church leaders rather than what is actually in their scriptures.  Read it and weep.

Yes, I know that "Mormons don't believe that anymore".  Why?  Because they were told not to by a "living profit".  Why did that happen in 1978?  Why didn't it happen much sooner?  Especially since the Book of Mormon is, according to Joseph Smith, supposedly the "most correct book on Earth", even though it's been revised many times since Smith declared it to be so "correct".  You know... Smith's statement reminds me a little of these statements...

Liam Gallagher

Lennon was right. And we are bigger than Jesus. We will be as big as the Beatles, if not bigger.

Liam Gallagher

In fairness, the LDS church was originally fairly egalitarian for its day.  Evidently, it was Brigham Young who had egregiously racist opinions.  Of course, he now has several Mormon owned universities named after him.

Here's some more...

The entire Book of Mormon is based on the pure, white and delightsome "Nephites" vs. the loathsome, sinning "Lamanites" who were cursed with brown skin due to their "iniquity." Lamanites are considered to be indigenous peoples, such as American Indians, Hispanics, and Polynesians. Of course, this reflected the Cowboy vs. Indian mentality of the early 1820s when Joseph Smith pulled the religion "out of his hat". The Book of Mormon is the foundation of the LDS Church to this day. The Bible is secondary to the BOM. Of course, due to the internet and negative PR, the LDS Church is slowly changing their policies and editing out portions of the Book of Mormon.
Like · Reply · 1 · 9 hrs · Edited

Bullshit. Someone made this up or you (Janis) are exactly like all the other haters slashing it all around.

This is totally stupid and completely untrue. Mormons believe all humans are spiritual brothers and sisters. The statement is an outright lie and does not deserve an answer. Moronic and stupid. Divisive and racist. Lessons taken from today's presidential political hate - centric team of fraudsters.

The Church was established in 1830, during an era of great racial division in the United States. At the time, many people of African descent lived in slavery, and racial distinctions and prejudice were not just common but customary among white Americans. Those realities, though unfamiliar and disturbing today, influenced all aspects of people’s lives, including their religion

  • I'm sure this is meant as a joke, but whomever wrote the joke does not know Morman beliefs. Google it. The views in the Morman Church regarding African American's in the Morman Church changed a long time ago. Still a big fan of you Janis.
    • Hide 12 Replies
    • Thanks for making this clear.
    • They sort of changed in the 80s
    •  No, they changed it. Not sort of.
    •  I actually had a Mormon who was looking to move into my neighborhood, go knocking door to door to ask if any black people lived on the street....
    •  Was actually around 1978.
    •  Plenty of Mormons here and I never heard anything like this from them.
    • But it was their doctrine....probably just changed to be more politically correct...
    •  More bodies = more tithing = more money in the Mormon coffers
    •  It was changed only after the NCAA threatened BYU over it's race policy, the prophet had a new revelation that blacks were not punished afterall and were acceptable thus avoiding NCAA sanctions.
    • Ah yes, Mr. Kimball's "vision". From God, of course. Very important for the NCAA rules.
      Like · 21 hrs
    •   I find that hard to believe.
      Like · 20 hrs
    • The change in the Church had nothing to do with being PC or money. It was through devine revelation from the Prophet.
      Like · 13 hrs

  •  Janis please check LDS website. One more like this, I bounce you!

  • This is but a small offering of the comments posted.  I got a kick out of the guy threatening to "bounce" Janis if she doesn't post what he likes.  Like she gives a shit if he quits following her...  And of course, checking the LDS Web site will not be that educational regarding this issue.  Mormons are very good at whitewashing their past and covering up things that are embarrassing.  Those who go to any official Mormon source hoping for unbiased information are likely to be disappointed.  Of course the church is going to put out information that makes them look good and their intentions innocent.  They preach about "milk before meat", don't they?

    Besides, 1978 was NOT that long ago, people!  I remember that year and I'm only 42 years old.  I understand that this is an embarrassing part of the not too distant past for many church members.  They'd like us to forget it.  Perhaps, in time, people will.  But Janis Ian writes the truth, upsetting as it may be to some members of the church.  I applaud her for being so brave and outspoken.  Yes, it's embarrassing, but people should talk about it.  That's how knowledge evolves and everyone who is LDS knows the "glory of God is intelligence", right?  Moreover, Mormons are certainly not the only ones with ugly chapters in their histories.  Does it really help to deny reality and/or pretend it doesn't exist anymore?  

    I, for one, would have much more respect for LDS church members if they'd just own up to their past and stop screaming about bigotry and hate mongering when someone makes a true but unflattering comment about their church.  Stop telling people they are taking things "out of context", are "confused", or "don't understand what they're reading".  Stop insulting peoples' intelligence.  It's true that many people don't choose to join the "one true church", but that doesn't mean they're stupid or have poor reading comprehension skills.

    If you want to be Mormon and it makes you happy, that's great.  But don't tell others who don't share your love for your church that their opinions are wrong or misguided or condescendingly tell them that they are "confused" or "lack context or understanding".  It's very possible that you're the one who is confused.

    You know, I live in Germany now, which has a somewhat recent and very ugly history involving Jews.  But the Germans own up to what they did and have moved to make amends.  They don't whitewash it or sugarcoat it.  They accept that they did wrong and they have, for the most part, made a sincere effort to effect real change in thinking.  I think Mormons and other groups could take a lesson from them.   

    I encourage Mormons who want to tell Janis to "educate herself" to go ahead and take their own advice.  Do some reading about Mormonism that is not officially endorsed or authorized by the LDS church.  Have a look at some of the scriptures before they were revised.  You might be surprised by what you find out.


    1. At the time of the Great Revelation in 1978, members were told simply that all worthy members would be able to receive the gospel without regard to race or color. No admission of erring practice was ever made. It wasn't until just over a year ago that they admitted it had been wrong all along

      As we have witnessed the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth, we have been grateful that people of many nations have responded to the message of the restored gospel, and have joined the Church in ever-increasing numbers. This, in turn, has inspired us with a desire to extend to every worthy member of the Church all of the privileges and blessings which the gospel affords.

      Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, and witnessing the faithfulness of those from whom the priesthood has been withheld, we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.

      He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color. Priesthood leaders are instructed to follow the policy of carefully interviewing all candidates for ordination to either the Aaronic or the Melchizedek Priesthood to insure that they meet the established standards for worthiness.

      We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessing of all his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.

      Spencer W. Kimball
      N. Eldon Tanner
      Marion G. Romney
      The First Presidency

      It wasn't until December of 2013 that they "sort of" admitted the policy had been wrong all along.

      (RNS) The new statement says the LDS Church “disavows the theories advanced in the past ... [and that ] church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

      1. Of course... But you have to wonder, how easy was it for people in 1978 to just suddenly accept people of color just because the prophet had a "revelation". And, by the way, in case anyone is wondering, yes I meant to write "profit" above.

        Anyway, so much for the "most correct book on Earth", hmm? To me, it's just kind of sad that there were so many comments from church members that flat out said what Ms. Ian had posted consisted of bigoted lies. Only a few LDS commenters admitted that the church had once promoted racist beliefs. They need to do their homework.

    2. I don't think the ban on the priesthood came directly from the Book of Mormon. While the Lamanites were "cursed" with dark skin and promised that they would one day again become "white and delightsome" and would "blossom as a rose," I believe the priesthood ban for blacks came later, from Brother Brigham. But yes, that "most perfect book" certainly undergone changes. my dad regrets not having kept the original paperback copy - blue with the angel Moroni blowing a horn -- that was given to him at the age of thirteen by the missionaries in 1977.

    3. "underwent" or "has undergone," BTW


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