The Mormon Faith & Black Folks
Appendix B

About the Author

I was born in Los Angeles in 1960, and grew up mostly in Santa Monica, Redwood City, West Los Angeles, Burlingame, and Palm Springs, California. As a youth I would take the bus to UCLA (in West Los Angeles) to play on the elevators, and during these trips the bus would pass by the Los Angeles Temple. Inspired by the architechture, I had a tour of the Visitor's Center when he was 13 years old. Not growing up in a religious family, I came away thinking that Mormons believed that Joseph Smith was sort of a new "Jesus", or perhaps the "Jesus" for the Western Continent.

In June 1978, I remember seeing an article in Time magazine about how the Mormon Church was now allowing it's black members to become Priests. I remember seeing a photo of Joseph Freeman and his wife and children. I remember thinking, "Why would ANY black person want to be a Mormon?" It just seemed very odd to me that a church that didn't allow black priests would be attractive to some black people. Later, I remember reading some very favorable articles about Mormons in the Reader's Digest. Mormons were presented as moral, humble, honest, thrifty, and spiritual. That attracted me.

In November 1978 I joined the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, and entered boot-camp. I prayed to God to know the purpose of life; because I was beginning to question my existence. The next day, on Sunday, a recruit accidently dropped a pamphlet (The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith) next to my feet. I asked, "Are you a Mormon?" He replied enthusiatically, "Yes!" He invited me to a Mormon service. I attended, and agreed to the discussions. I really DID NOT UNDERSTAND much of what the missionaries were saying. Back then the Discussions were written assuming the Investigator was a Protestant who was familiar with Christianity and the King James Bible. When they told me about the Restoration of the two Priesthoods, and told me that I could be ordained, I thought they wanted me to become a monk or a Priest (like in the Catholic church)!

Although I really didn't understand much of what they were saying, I remembered the feeling I got around the L.A. Temple as a youth. Also, I remembered the Reader's Digest articles, and I was attracted to the Church. So I agreed to baptism. I was given a copy of The Book of Mormon, and asked to read and pray about it by the following Sunday! I read about three chapters.

On Dec. 31st, 1978, I was baptized in the swimming pool of the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, California.

A week later I remember seeing a black Marine recruit give his "testimony" of the Church. The Branch President and one of his Counsellors looked at each other, smiled, and shook their heads. Their behavior seemed odd to me. At that point I remember that the Mormon Church did not ordain blacks to it's Priesthood.

After a few weeks the Branch President (an Irishman) told us to invite other Marines to "Mormon Church Services"; especially those who didn't attend the other religious services on Sunday. He told us to "be a service" to them in some way, to become their friend, and then invite them to Mormon Church services. I decided I would try it next Sunday.

The next Sunday, still in boot-camp, I saw a group of black Marine recuits standing around talking. Almost everyone else was gone. I saw one holding a mop. I went up and said, "I'll mop the squad-bay for you!" They all laughed, and I was handed a mop. I mopped the floor as I was taught as a busboy in Palm Springs. Once I was finished I handed him back the mob, and he said, "I bet this white boy has never had a mop in his hand in his whole life!" The other blacks laughed and shook their heads in agreement. I said, "That's not true! I worked as a busboy!" One of them asked me what I was doing there, and I said, "I'd like to invite you all to Mormon Church services next Sunday!"

They immediately became silent, and looks of ABSOLUTE HORROR came upon their faces! They all looked at me and each other like I had collectely KILLED THEIR MOTHERS! One of them said quite seriously, "YOU BETTUH GET OUTTUH HEEUH!!!"

Not understanding what was going on, I left. They all got into a huddle and started speaking to each other very angrily. I did not know what was going on. Then, I remember that the Church did not allow black Priests until 1978. But, certainly I thought, that couldn't be it.

Later that Sunday, I was sitting on my footlocker shining my boots, when several of the black Marines which I had invited came up from behind me, through a towel over my head, jerked me violently from off my foot-locker, and proceeded to beat and kick me for what seemed hours, but was probably only 3 minutes. One of them spread my legs, and had the other VIOLENTLY kick me in the crotch about 30 times; with his boot at full-force. I was paralyzed for about 45 minutes. That beating left me with permanent injuries and scares to this day, and probably means I'll be adopting if I want to have children.

About a week after that I was on my feet again in boot-camp. One evening, a black drill-instructor came out of the dining hall (called the "mess") and spit upon me. I thought it an isolated incident, but it happened twice more with two other blacks. The word had gone around that I was a "Mormon". This was in 1978.

Why was I beaten so bad; after I had been a service to these men, and sincerely and respectfully invited them to Mormon Church services? Why was I spit-upon without the slightest provocation?

The answer is simple: because they knew something I didn't know! They knew (or thought they knew) that the Mormon Church was a "RACIST" organization! They believed that, because, in 1978, the entire African-American Community believed that!

I was discharged from the Marine Corps Reserve, and returned to Tacoma, Washington. I read the Gospels many times, and soon had a "born again" experience; quite dramatic. I was very excited about the Gospel and the Church. I wanted to buy Church books. Nobody told me that Mormons have their own bookstores! So, I went to a local Christian bookstores; hopefully to buy some Mormon books. Instead, I ran across many Anti-Mormon books. I read many terrible things; including quotes from Brigham Young, Joseph Fielding Smith, and a few others, that looked quite racist by any standard. I was ABSOLUTELY TOTALLY DEVASTATED!

Immediately, I went to my bishop for answers. I discovered he didn't have any. He suggested the Institute Director. I went to him and started asking questions. Instead of answers, he began to shout at me, "WE ARE NOT TO BOTHER OURSELVES WITH THOSE THINGS! JUST LET IT ALONE!!!" I was devastated again!

At church on Sunday I would ask other about the Curse of Cain. They just avoided me. A few would look at their watches and say, "Gosh, look at the time. I gotta run!" Others would just laugh and walk away. A third time I was devastated. I left the Church (did not resign), and associated with Anti-Mormons for about 17 months.

The Anti-Mormons were not truth-tellers; I came to find. They would lie, distort, and exaggerate all the time, and justified it in Jesus' name. I got sick of it. For awhile, I decided that both the Church and the Anti-Mormons were wrong. Yet, something drew me back to Church again. After thousands of hours of research, I could refute enough anti-Mormon claims to justify coming back to the Church. I did.

I came back to full-activity in late 1981. For years I struggled with the Curse of Cain. I just DID NOT WANT to accept it. I had been raised to believe that anything like the Curse of Cain was "racist" and "discrimatory". Yet, I knew that Church leaders had taught it as official Church doctrine since the days, at least, of Brigham Young. I had no "peace" about it at all. Then, one evening, while I thought about it, I was greatly troubled and shaking. Finally, I said, "Thy will Lord, not mine!" I just accepted the Curse of Cain, and a fantastic feeling of love, joy, peace, and contentment came over me! It was quite wonderful and remarkable! Since that day, I have gained also an intellectual acceptance of the Curse of Cain legacy. The ways of God are higher than the ways of men. What puny little sinful men (and women) call "racist" (or "sexist") has no bearing whatsoever on the Ways of God. As the LORD said, "My ways are not your ways, saith the LORD".

In May 1983 I was called on a mission to San Jose, California. At that time, The God Makers film was very popular with Evangelicals all over the country. It seemed that almost behind every other door was somebody with an anti-Mormon book or tract, or who had seen The God Makers film. I discovered that most Evangelicals DO NOT keep the "Golden Rule" ("Do ye unto others as ye would have them do unto you"~Jesus) when it came to "Mormons". They kept the "Golden Rule" only with other Evangelicals. Since we were not "Christians" (according to them), we were not their "Brothers", and they could treat us any way they seemed fit (i.e. the Golden Rule only applied to fellow "Christians"; not "cultists" like us). And, they treated us with utter contempt and disrespect. Many missionaries were threatened by these "Christians"; a few beaten.

While on my mission I did hear the claim that "Mormons are white racists" and "Mormons hate black folks" many, many times; mostly in the more Liberal areas, like in and around San Francisco (then part of the California San Jose Mission). I remember while in Morgan Hill, my first area, we tracted into a black family named the McGowans. She said, "We're Baptist!" They just moved in, and I told her where the local Baptist church was and what time they met. She was somewhat impressed with this. Later, her husband and her said, "But we were told that Mormons don't like black folks!" I explained to them that if that was the case, we wouldn't be there. I later tracted into the Johnston family in Palo Alto. Both black families were eventually baptized into the Church (although not by me).

After coming home off my mission, I stuggled with a number of issues. One was the materialism I saw among affluent white Mormons in my mission. In several areas I worked in non-Members had very negative attitudes towards the Church; NOT because of anti-Mormon propaganda, but because they'd been "ripped off" by Mormon real estate agents or penny-stock investors (note: during this time tens of thousands of Mormons in Utah and Idaho were also ripped-off by the same network of "Mormons").

In August of 1985 I decided to write a book telling my story of leaving the Church, becoming an Anti-Mormon-in-training, and then coming back to the Church. It was hard work, but I finished it in two months. It was also a reply to The God Makers film. I called the book "The Gainsayers" ("to gainsay" means to speak against the truth). I sent copies to all LDS publishers, and they all rejected; saying either it wouldn't sell, or saying that I was "violating" the admonitions of the Brethren to avoid anti-Mormon literature and not debate or be contentious. In fact, the purpose of my book was to help those confused by anti-Mormon literature; not to debate or content, but to answer the sincere.

Back in 1980, a Mormon RM (returned missionary) named Mark Hofmann was "discovering" ancient Mormon documents. At first, these documents only confirmed traditional Mormon history. But, later, the documents began to portray Joseph Smith in a very bad light; as an occultist, Gnostic, and worker in black Magick. Before the negative "discoveries", the Church News showed a photo of Mark Hofmann. When I looked at his photo, something told me, "He is a LIAR and an atheist!" Over the next few years Hofmann would discover more and more old Mormon documents; each one making Joseph Smith, or Brigham Young look worse and worse. I noticed that all of Hofmann's negative "discoveries" seemed to confirm the theories of one particular anti-Mormon author: Michael Marquardt of Salt Lake City. I decided that it was too much of a coincidence. I somehow KNEW that Hofmann was working with Marquardt to manufactor "evidence" to fit his theories of Mormon origins. After I came back into activity in the Church in late 1981 I tried to convince my bishop and others that Hofmann was a fraud, and that the documents were fakes. I even called LDS Church Offices. I was told not to call again. I was dismissed as a "conspiracy nut". I remember one Institute teacher telling me, after I had told him what I believed, that "such things don't happen in real life". I reminded him that The Book of Mormon abounds with "secret combinations". He said, "Well, that was a LONG time ago. That has nothing to do with us today!"

On Oct. 15th, 1985, I had been back from my mission for a number of months (I served an 18-month mission back when that was allowed). I was working at a gas station when I heard on the radio that evening that Mark Hofmann was blown-up in his car just one day following the pipe-bomb deaths of a Mormon bishop (Steve Christensen) and the wife (Kathy Sheets) of another Mormon bishop. Police were calling it mob-related; suggesting that mobsters had invested in the company owned by Sheet's husband; the same company that Christensen also had worked at. When Hofmann was blown-up (he survived), anti-Mormons and quite a few regular magazines and newspapers were saying or suggesting strongly the bombings were done by "fanatical Mormons" or by order of Church leaders themselves; in an effort to "silence" Hofmann. I KNEW it was Hofmann himself, and told others. I called Church Security; who promptly hung-up the telephone on me.

About 8 months later Mark Hofmann confessed to forging the documents, and killing Steve Christensen because he was "getting to close" to discoving Hofmann was a forger. Hofmann killed Kathy Sheets just to try to throw police off his real target (Christensen). Hofmann claims the third bomb was a "suicide" attempt, but police suspect he had another victim in mind, but literally "dropped the bomb" on himself while trying to retrieve it from his back seat. Hofmann was sentenced to life without parole. He claimed that he alone had done the forgeries and the bombings, but investigators suspected he had accomplices.

Anti-Mormon author Michael Marquardt was interviewed by the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Dept. He admitted he was Hofmann's friend, and that Mark Hofmann had spent many hundreds of hours with him "discussing Mormon history" in his home. Marquardt denied he had anything to do with the forgeries or the bombings. Marquardt was never charged with any crime.

After all this I called the Mormons at Church Offices, and elsewhere, who had called me a "conspiracy nut" or who had called me a liar, or suggested I seek "professional help". They all hung-up the phone on me save one, who said, "But Mark Hofmann was a faithful Member of the Church!" (i.e. and this is why they trusted him and disbelieved me).

In his confessions to police after the "deal" with prosecutors were made; Hofmann said he had been an atheist since age 14. Why did he forge documents? He said he forged them to make Joseph Smith and history conform to what he believed it was anyway. Mark Hofmann was a liar and an atheist just as the Spirit had told me when I first saw his photo years before. The Spirit of Discernment is not a right of office, but is one of the 9 gifts of the Spirit given to those who are born again.

In 1987 the missionaries assigned to the Bellevue 8th Ward, in Bellevue, Washington, told me they knew a Member who was "having trouble with anti-Mormonism" (the missionaries knew I had researched anti-Mormon propaganda and had many answers).

Please feel free to e-mail Darrick Evenson

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