What do Mormons believe about African-Americans?

As a Black American, I wonder how Black people are treated by Mormons. Is being Black still believed to be the mark of Cain?  How did that belief come about? Isn’t it just as possible that the mark of Cain could have been to be made white?


SS, there is no question that the LDS Church has a racist past.  Just like the United States of America. And there is no question in my mind that racism does not fade easily—whether from Mormonism, or from American culture at large. But there are many African-American Mormons and their allies who work hard to address it.  To get a sense of their lives and their experience, check out this site or this article or this movie.

It’s impossible to generalize how Black people are treated by Mormons, but a little data helps to fill in the story.  Although the Church doesn’t keep track of members’ racial identities, folks in the know have estimated that there are between 500,000 and 1,000,000 LDS Church members of African descent worldwide.

In the earliest decades of the LDS Church, African-American members like Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis were ordained to the priesthood.  Something shifted, though, around the time of the death of Church founder Joseph Smith in the late 1840s.  In 1849, Brigham Young made a statement that Blacks were not entitled to hold the priesthood due to the “Curse of Cain.”  And after the Mormons—including Mormons of African descent—crossed the plains to Utah, in 1852, Brigham Young gave a speech to the Utah Territorial Legislature indicating that African-Americans could not hold the priesthood.  Still, Mormon history documents cases where individual African-Americans—descendents of Elijah Abel—were ordained through the 1930s.

During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as Church leaders bought into the idea that people of African descent should no longer be ordained, they generated “reasons” for the priesthood ban.  They drew largely from American Christian folk theology that often connected racial difference to the curses placed upon Cain or Noah’s son Ham in the Old Testament.  These stories took hold among LDS people, especially in their isolation in Mormon settlements in the intermountain West.

But the effort to explain racial differences through Biblical narratives did not originate with the Mormon Church.  It dates back to the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  The idea that modern African and African-American peoples were the descendents of Cain, or Ham, or Canaan was widespread in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America and frequently used by whites to excuse race slavery.  In this regard, Mormons followed a larger American example. But some Church leaders also generated a parallel narrative (with no foundation in scripture) that attributed the priesthood ban to a lack of valiance in the pre-earthly life by the souls of those who came to earth as people of African descent.

The worldwide growth of the Church from the 1950s onward spurred new reasons for Church members and leaders to question the validity of the priesthood ban and to interrogate its rationale.  The ban rested heavily on the hearts of many Mormons, black and white, and many members and some leaders prayed for the Church to find greater light on this issue.  The issue became especially acute with the rapid growth of the Church in Brazil.  In 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball announced that in answer to prayer he had come to understand that the priesthood should be made available to all worthy male members of the Church regardless of race or ancestry.  This announcement has been canonized as scripture.

Historians of LDS thought agree that in the late 1960s, Church leaders backed away from the legends of Cain and Ham put forward by Brigham Young and those who followed him.  My research on your query suggests that the last time a General Authority (high-ranking Church leader) taught over the pulpit at General Conference that the Curse of Cain was connected to the priesthood ban was Ezra Taft Benson in 1967.  (Although it should be noted that Bruce R. McConkie–an outlier on this issue–continued to incorporate obsolete doctrines on race into his writing beyond the late 1960s.)  The teaching has disappeared from contemporary Church manuals.  You may, however, still hear it by word of mouth, as I did when I was a kid.  My professors at Brigham Young University in the late 1980s taught me to dismiss it as a distortion.

To my knowledge, no Church leader has ever stood at the pulpit and formally renounced the idea that Cain or Ham are the source of racial Blackness and the priesthood ban.  Perceptive observers note that the LDS Church leadership prefers to let old doctrines fade away quietly rather than address them directly.  On race issues especially, I think this leads to missed opportunities.  While younger generations of Mormons may rarely think about and may not even know about the Church’s history with African-Americans, older Mormons continue to quietly harbor outmoded ideas, and many non-Mormons, especially African-Americans, are aware of the Church’s past teachings but without a formal renunciation do not know whether such doctrines continue.  In 2006, Church President Gordon B. Hinckley did state over the pulpit at General Conference that racism is unequivocally wrong and totally unacceptable among Church members.  His comments were welcomed by African-American Mormons and their allies.

Still, I’m looking forward to the day when more Mormons will say out loud:  We were wrong.  We were wrong about Cain.  Wrong about Ham.  And wrong to deny the priesthood to people of African descent.  For in this regard, the curse has been ours to bear.

And just because you asked, the Old Testament does give one instance where someone was cursed for her transgressions with a skin of whiteness:  Miriam, in Numbers 12:10.

Send your queries to askmormongirl@gmail.com, or follow askmormongirl on Twitter.



Filed under ethnicity

186 responses to “What do Mormons believe about African-Americans?

  1. Elisabeth

    I’m not Mormon, but I find this religion fascinating, to the point of listening to several Mormon matters podcasts !
    I wonder, was it only Black people who were discriminated against ? Or did it extend to other ethnicities (Native americans, Asians,…)
    Thank you for your blog.

    • Jenna

      As far as I can remember, yes. I don’t recall any other ethnicity being discriminated against. I don’t get it, and I am Mormon.

      • adrian

        You should google it. It is part of your church history. You may not know about it or remember it but there are many blacks that do. The founders of your church had alot of bad things to say about mixing with blacks.


      • ben

        so apparently Joseph Fielding Smith had some racist points of view… Im sure a few other church leaders did as well and were in need of repentance… thank God for repentance
        A big problem lies in the idea both inside and outside the church that prophets are infallible and never make mistakes… anyone who believes this does NOT read their scriptures or at least not thoroughly… Many church leaders from the old testament on we rebuked and were in need of repentance from Moses to Jona to Peter and even on to Joseph Smith…

        all wrongs will be righted eventually… and all men will be held accountable for their own sins… once again… thank God for repentance and for the atonement or else we’d all be damned…

    • Lillian

      I’m LDS. Because our church believes in following the laws of the land, when the law prohibited us from accepting colored people into our church, we were unable to do anything about it.
      I hope that clears some things up. Sorry I was better at explaining it.

      • Lillian

        I meant wasn’t better…oops!

      • DougH

        Lillian, as far as I know, it was never illegal for Blacks to join the LDS Church, and there have always been a few that were members from practically the beginning. It was all on us.

      • Ammar

        Lillian – are you suggesting that your church will follow any law that is contrary to righteous deeds. My religion tells me to follow the laws of the land unless it conflict with my belief; therefore, the church most likely acted according to how its leaders and members actually felt personally. G-D is not the author of confusion…Right????

      • You should have corrected the usage of “colored” as well, if you were using the word to refer to Blacks (or African-Americans). “Colored” could be used to describe all people (black, white, asian, etc.). I say this because everyone is “colored”, since there are no clear people in existence.

      • mandy

        This is just plain false. It was never illegal. Plus if your statement was true we would never have practiced polygamy.

      • Sean

        So if the law of the land becomes pro same-sex marriage, the church will follow it?

      • Colored people? Black people have not been called Colored for at least 50 years…lol

      • Mary Marine

        Lillian , I’m not sure where you got this information but it’s not true. There was no law,( even in the 60’s when African Americans,mostly in the southern states were denied constitutional rights): that prevented black males from holding the Priesthood. It was always the church and never secular. And our church never prohibited any black person from going to a Mormon church or Branch. I knew and worked with a wonderful man who was in what was then called “The Black Branch Of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I remember how patient and faithful he was to the Church and it’s doctrines and how happy he was when he was able to receive the Priesthood. One of the first men of color to do so.

      • W. Anderson

        It is ridiculous that a White Mormon could think that because a black American accepted his status in a “black branch” of the Mormon Curch – in effect second class statuswhich has been the mantra for blacks here in USA for hundreds of years, that all is well with the Church and it’s positions.

        My daughter who works in Bermuda has informed me of their “double standard” there and even more revolting, the Mormon Church teachings in Ghana where she visited recently.

        All the excuses in the world will not absolve the Mormon Church and it’s fervent believers in racial classifications from the true wrath of Gad on Judgement Day, if you truly believe in Christian Teachings.

      • J. Eale

        What is colored people?…. That is racist!!!!!…. Pale skin people from Europe came up with all this nonsense !!!!!! And labels …

      • Kathy Knecht

        Lillian, I think you might be confusing the church’s publicly stated reason for issuing the 1890 Manifesto (banning polygamy) with the priesthood/racism issue.

        (AMEN to Sean’s comment in this thread; need we say more?)

    • I’m Black and I’m a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and About the church growing and before the revelation received in 1978, any people mixed with the Blacks wouldn’t be able to receive the priesthood so it didn’t matter if the person were black, white, indian, asian, whatever mixed whatever would be banned…

      • Robert

        I find that fact repugnant and is one of the many reason reasons I find this region suspect. I know many many Mormons that still believe deeply that people of color have no place in their church.

      • David

        That makes no sense to accept. Those who “didn’t” mix with Blacks… what happened to them? Were they banned too? No.

        How can you have an honest conversation like that???

    • Diana

      The priesthood ban was for those of a “cursed lineage” which, according to Brigham Young, were descended from Cain. This was said to be Black Africans. Fiji islanders, although very dark-skinned were deemed to not be part of the cursed lineage and were allowed full participation. It wasn’t a racist policy against dark-skinned people in general, but a doctrinal position regarding only ONE group of dark-skinned people. Brigham Young declared it while referring to his prophetic mantle. This made it very difficult for the Church to get out from under it. That’s why it required a “revelation” in 1978 because it contradicted a prophetic declaration by a previous prophet.

      • Does the 1978 Revelation change anything if the original scriptures are still the same? Even though the barred groups are now allowed to become priests they are still classified as filth and worse.

      • Israel Fierro

        Of a cursed lineage? The whole human race is a cursed lineage. Since the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden have we all been cursed. God makes no mistakes, He made blacks, yellows, whites, brown all colors to be equal. Our so called human intelligence is what causes this world’s confusion.

        “That is why it caused a special revelation in 1978 because it contradicted a prophetic declaration by a previous prophet.” So please tell me. Did God oopsie by giving the previous prophet wrong info or did he just change His mind some years later. God is the same yesterday, today and forever so in my opinion us smart humans got it wrong. Do not lean on your own understanding and all will be well. 🙂 The bible is of no private interpretation so let us keep to what it says. 🙂

    • ChrisF

      It was really only people of African descent. In fact Fijians and Australian Aborigines were specifically permitted with statements that the ban was only on those of African descent.
      Lillian: There was never a law against it, though there were a few instances where laws in certain Southern states required that church be segregated. This was never church policy, and it didn’t last very long.
      W. Anderson: I’m not sure what you’re on about. I have a lot of friends from Ghana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Togo. It must be remembered that the LDS Church is very young there and that it has grown very rapidly. As a result it is still very common for many people there, including members of the church to have misconceptions about the church. This was a source of some consternation when I was serving as a missionary in a primarily African and Caribbean congregation in South London. (Btw, it wasn’t primarily African and Caribbean because of any kind of racism or discrimination, there just aren’t many white people in Peckham anymore) Nevertheless several people there knew the Church and the Scriptures better than anyone I have ever met. They especially tended to know the Bible better than many other LDS people who have lamentably neglected that beautiful portion of God’s Word.
      Finally, the church has essentially now said that it was wrong. It has rejected all claims of curses and lack of valiancy as doctrine here: http://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood
      So Joanna, you don’t need to wait any longer.

  2. Thank you Joanna for a great summary of the issue and a great plea for us to stand up and admit that it was wrong. I was an Elders Qurom president and taught the new member discussions to a new African American member in our ward. This issue came up and I felt so ill equiped to adress his concerns becasue no one has ever said “we were wrong, and we are doing everything we can to right it!”

    • Mary Marine

      Very well put and I agree, there needs to be some way this can be discussed with an apology attached. The word “cursed” needs to be removed from any discussion.

  3. Steve P

    Wow, that was very informative! I hadn’t thought of this issue in quite the way you explained. Thanks for taking the time.

  4. amy

    Hi Joanna-
    Why were Elijah Abel’s descendants exempt from the ‘curse’ and how was that handled within the Church? I know that Brigham Young own slaves as his daughter Clarissa talks about them in her journals-were they “grand fathered” in as members since they were BY’s property? Were there black wards for slaves?

    • Joanna

      i don’t know, Amy! I’ll have to ask Margaret Young.

      • LaShawn

        Elijah’s sons were exempt because Elijah held the Priesthood and chose to ordain his sons. No one could prevent him from doing that. Elijah died as a member of the 70 as well.

        Anybody (i.e. slaves) could be a member. Only non-blacks could hold the Priesthood. There were never wards for slaves or black people. We are the only group in church to not have our own wards/branches. I’m told it’s because we speak English and don’t have a native tongue to understand the gospel in as our Hispanic and Asian brethren and sisters do.

  5. keith

    Wonderful comments. Thank you.

  6. One of the unfortunate omissions from this article is the fact that the LDS Church did not have the same acrimony toward African-Americans that many other religious organizations had. So the term racist is a bit over the top to describe the Church’s policy. I am certain some members held racist views toward Blacks, but those of African decent were welcome to be members of the Church, but just not hold the Priesthood. And while this restriction was not supported by scripture nor overt church doctrine, there was no restriction on Church membership. I am sure there were not many who did join, But there were Black Church members, males and females prior to the lifting of the ban.

    And by and large, church leaders from Joseph Smith forward were also anti-slavery.

    • Chris

      Racism isn’t just about being openly hostile towards people of another race. It can be as subtle as ignoring the issue of race or believing that they are not as capable to do the same things that another race can do. Yes, the Church wasn’t as racist as other churches, but there isn’t an award for being less bad. All we can do is try to get better with time.

  7. jr

    It would be fantastic if the church would admit past leaders were wrong, but I’m not holding my breath. I would be shocked if it ever happened.

  8. Chris Gordon

    I think that the challenge of admitting wrong will always be hard to overcome and nearly impossible within the paradigm of the church. I don’t know if it’s possible to say, “We were wrong and we’re trying to fix it,” without also saying “But we were not wrong to follow the prophets as best as we could even while we might have had doubts.” I wish it were possible to do both, but I’m not certain how it would come across as not being cognitively dissonant to the hearer.

    • Former Mormon Girl

      Is it wrong to doubt a prophet? I know that’s what I was taught when I was mormon, but now I know that the bible is true and I follow the directions of the word.

      1 John 4:1:

      Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

      • Sydni

        There are many false prophets. However, the LDS prophet is called of God, and when speaking as the prophet, he is speaking for Christ. So yes, I believe it would be wrong to doubt a prophet on something that was revealed to him.

      • Diana

        When was the last time a prophet stood before the Church and claimed that something was revealed to him by God to give to the Church? As far as I can see the last three presidents of the Church have not even claimed to have given revelation. Therefore we may consider everything that has been said by the Church Presidents in the last 20 years or more as “opinion” or “speaking as a man.” To consider a Church leader infallible and beyond question when he does NOT claim to be giving revelation would be idolatry.

  9. Jake

    The LDS Church is based upon a foundation that whoever happens to be the president of the LDS Church is a direct prophet of God, so if they were to admit that they were wrong on these counts, wouldn’t it shake and destroy their very foundation?

    • adrian

      This is one of the warnings Jesus gave. “Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?” Luke 6:39.
      Put your trust in the doctrine of man and they will lead you astray. Once a person proclaims to be a prophet of God and falls short just once. That person is not a prophet of God and everything should be discredited.
      To proclaim you are prophet of God or your church has a living prophet of God is a bold statement and God does not take it likely. (Daniel 4:17) God actively challenges other prophets to: “Produce your defense,” says Yahweh, “present your case,” says Jacob’s king… “Tell us what is to happen in the future, and so convince us you are gods. Do something at least so that we can note it and all see it. No, you are nothing and your works are nothingness; to choose you would be an outrage.” (Isaiah 41:21-24)
      LDS fails this challenge time and time again. Only Prophets of the one true living God were able to prove themselves because God made the prophecies come to pass.

  10. If only the LDS church would continue to renounce old prejudices when they get culturally unacceptable. Women’s rights and LGTBI issues still need to be addressed by more than just patronizing condescension or outright fear. But, maybe one day, like some manifestations of racism, suddenly certain lines and teachings will just disappear and no one will want to talk about them anymore.

    From other things I’ve read, racism is still alive and kicking in the Mormon institution (as opposed to individual Mormons) as shown by the punishment of black athletes for ‘sexual transgressions’ vs white athletes at BYU.

    • SU

      Race had nothing to do with the basketball athlete at BYU that was dismissed from the team in 2011. Other athletes of all different races had received similar punishments for not living up to their word with the Honor code. It got all of the media attention because of the timing. Leave it alone and maybe BYU wins a national championship. Having watched what has happened since that time to Ohio State and now Penn State, they did the right thing for the right reason even though it was a tough decision.
      And probably more important, that black athlete is back on the basketball team this year. Again proving that it had zero to do with race and everything to do with keeping your word. BYU athletes agree to hold themselves to a higher standard than what is normally expected of an athlete at other universities. They make mistakes as shown, but more important for this young man and others like him, there is repentance and complete forgiveness as the Savior taught.

      • Chris

        I think that “Having watched what has happened since that time to Ohio State and now Penn State” comment is uncalled for. Consensual sex, whether or not you agree with it, is way different than child molestation and other illegal activities.

      • Comparing what happened at Penn State to this unfortunate public shaming of adult consensual sex is not okay. I am saddened this athlete was called out based on what is a normal sexual experience for most college students. I realize BYU has different “standards” but I was well aware that consensual sex was going on with many BYU football players when I lived in Provo. Why him? It does make one wonder.

        As a transracial adoptive mom I can tell you racism is alive an well. It is subtle and often based on psychological impressions we’ve had over the course of our life times. Meaning it isn’t always something people are fully aware of. Anyone that says they are not racist isn’t being honest. We all are. I do have a gut feeling that this athlete was singled out due to his race-but that is my impression-I have no way of knowing this. But to compare him to what happened at Penn state? That hurts my heart.

        Imagine being African American and trying to explain the ban on the priesthood? It’s hard enough for many Caucasian Mormons. Nobody has denounced the things former Prophets and Apostles have said in a clear way. It says a lot to a person and it hurts in ways that are hard to comprehend. I refuse to raise my children in a church that practiced racism in this fashion. If the LDS church wanted to heal this they would publicly and clearly denounce all statements made in the past and state that it was never God’s intention to single out a race based on the “curse of Cain.” They wouldn’t brush it under the rug and pretend the things Brigham Young said weren’t said.

        And I said more then I intended.

    • Bill Larsen

      This charge is unfounded. Brandon Davies received the same punishment that any other athlete of any other race would have recieved in the same circumstance. Indeed, BYU is to be commended for adhering to its standard of behavior in spite of the cost to the basketball team of losing its second best player. Few if any other universities in the nation would have exibited this kind of integrity. And Brandon Davies is to be commended for confessing his error and accepting the sanction without complaint. He has since been joyfully welcomed back on the team, having corrected his mistake to the best of his ability.

      • Moe

        To Lori,

        I am African American and I am softened by your words. Sometimes people can be so abrasive and insensitive to blacks. May GOD bless u for your understanding, not pity, out of shame, to save face, politically correct, but just plain understanding. Your words show me…..you get it.

  11. JJ

    Thanks for the article, it was a solid one. I’m sure you’ve already run across it, but I think Elder Holland’s remarks on the “folklore” of the ban in his PBS interview are pretty progressive. He denounces the premortal punishment, but doesn’t mention curse of Cain. http://www.pbs.org/mormons/interviews/holland.html
    He is the first Apostle I’ve ever heard call out, to a degree, the damage done by previous authorities on the issue.

    • Joanna

      yes–that’s an important source. thanks, JJ.

      • Dean

        If only PBS and NPR would go to an official source on a regular basis. All too often they are more content getting opinions from you which does the church a great disservice.

    • I love this interview, it came for me in a specific moment of conflict and confusion were I struggled with so many racist teachings and practices in the early days of the church that were again and again filling my heart with pain, because they were taught for many leaders that I loved and admire (yep, they stated racists policies no questions about it), but after so much pray, ponder and reflection the Lord helped me to just forgive them and continue my way… If the Lord Jesus Christ that was perfect, correct and loving with all His fellow ones was punished, tortured, humiliated and even betrayed by one of His apostles, how would I desire to pass this life with no injuries even inside the church, even the church being true… So I just had an opportunity to strengthen my testimony and exercise Christlike attributes to forgive and get a more plainly understanding of men’s imperfectness and incapacity to deal with some situations. Unless to keep attacking the church teachings or trying to misunderstand the real truth of the church people need to remember that no one holds the absolute truth so I wonder “why these people talk against the church if they cannot save me and they don’t even know exactly what or who will do it for them”, so if I can talk about something that it is real for me, despite of all the things the church needs to improve, is that this church is true! And if we put in practice what we learn we will strengthen this testimony day by day… Now to finish one of my favorite quotes from Elder Holland:

      “We consume such precious emotional and spiritual capital clinging tenaciously to the memory of a discordant note we struck in a childhood piano recital, or something a spouse said or did 20 years ago that we are determined to hold over his or her head for another 20, OR AN INCIDENT IN CHURCH HISTORY THAT PROVED NO MORE OR LESS THAN THAT MORTALS WILL ALWAYS STRUGGLE TO MEASURE UP TO THE IMMORTAL HOPES PLACED BEFORE THEM. Even if one of those grievances did not originate with you, it can end with you. And what a reward there will be for that contribution when the Lord of the vineyard looks you in the eye and accounts are settled at the end of our earthly day.”

      And thanks so much JB, for you efforts in dispelling some miths and adding a different view in church themes opening this space for everyone to leave its own comments and for the interesting and truthful post! I really appreciate your initiative!!! If I could I would give you a strong hug right now 🙂 thanks a lot! (clap)
      You deserve a big hug not only for this post but for the many interesting topics you prepare and also in a way of sending some comfort in the specif moment you’re facing now as you stated today. So, please feel embraced! 😉

  12. Chris Gordon

    @Jake, I don’t think it necessarily follows that the foundation would be shaken and destroyed, but it’s challenging to reconcile the principle of following the prophet while allowing the question of whether he’s right or wrong at every turn. It’s not an impossible line to walk, but it’s a challenging one.

  13. You said that church leaders “generated ‘reasons’ for the priesthood ban.” Were these “from-the-pulpit” speeches given with the authority of The Church behind them, or only books like the one I read describing these “reasons.”

  14. It is a common misconception among Mormons that the denial of priesthood had anything to do with the mark God placed on Cain. It probably does stem from Brigham Young’s statement cited above–a statement which seems ignorant of the narrative Joseph Smith put forward in the Book of Moses (his “translation” of the first part of Genesis, not part of LDS scripture in The Pearl of Great Price).

    According to the Book of Moses:

    The mark God placed on Cain after he killed Able was to protect him from reprisal and was placed at his request. Moses 5:40

    Five generations later, a wicked tribe of tent dwellers in a land called Canaan were turned black to separate them from others (this during Enoch’s time). Moses 7:8,12. (Don’t mistake this group with those righteous folks from Cainan–including Enoch himself. Moses 6:17,19,41)

    There is an odd verse later in Moses 7, where it does say the seed of Cain were black (v. 22), but it makes no reference to Cain’s mark being a mark of blackness. It seems that the people in Canaan might have been largely descended from Cain, but that is conjecture by putting v. 22 along side v. 8.

    So, according the Mormon scripture, it would be wrong to connect the denial of Temple and Priesthood to black people to the mark placed on Cain after he killed Able. Rather it should be connected to the black skin placed on those tent dwellers in Canaan, who likely were descendants of Cain.

    Hence Benson’s 1967 reference was to “seed of Cain” and not to the “mark of Cain”. This is a significant difference theologically, but I recognize that the affect of the policy, regardless of the origin, would have been the same. The reason I put forth the clarification is because I think connecting a dark skin to the original bad guy, Cain, and his murder of his brother, does more to promote racism then connecting a dark skin to a general group 5 generations later (those both are racist). I hope this make sense.

    • Rish-e Sefid

      First of all, let me clarify; I was already grown when President Kimball received the revelation extending the the priesthood to all. I distinctly remember exactly where I was standing when I learned of it, and how I wept with joy. I’m troubled and embarrassed by the fact that the revelation was even needed and I applaud Mormon Girl for her gentle attitude.

      Nevertheless, I believe in calling a spade a spade, even when I trip on it in the dark. It is not quite fair to assert no scriptural justification. I’m no scriptorian but I know of two scriptural foundations for the concept of the privilege of the priesthood being tied to lineage. In the Old Testament it was the tribe of Levi who officiated in priesthood duties under the Law of Moses. In the Pearl of Great Price (Abraham 1:27) we read of “…Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of the priesthood…”

      Perhaps the only reason this was done was to test our faith and compassion, and on the other hand perhaps there is room to fault our predecessors. In any case we need to be scrupulously fair and honest in our consideration and responses. While I wish there had not been scriptural precedent, the scriptures say what they say.

  15. terrylinden

    Re Miriam’s punishment: “skin of whiteness” = leprosy. It got better.

  16. Diana

    In an interview by Australian media, President Gordon B. Hinckley was specifically asked if past leaders were wrong to deny those of African descent the priesthood. He answered that they were not wrong. The problem with admitting that past leaders were wrong on this is that it suggests that current leaders can also be wrong. As long as the Church attributes its past racist policies to “the Lord,” then the church IS (not just “was”) racist.

    • SU

      The only answer that I have heard that makes any sense is the one that a mission president gave to Thurl Bailey, who is black and a former NBA star and also a member of the LDS (Mormon) church. When he asked the question of why blacks couldn’t hold the priesthood in the past, he was told that it wasn’t time at that time. The church wasn’t ready and neither where the blacks.
      The Israelites spent 40 years wandering in the desert, not because they didn’t know where they were going, but because they didn’t have the faith necessary to do what they had been asked to do. That generation had to pass on until another generation that had the faith necessary could be raised up. Perhaps the same thing had to happen both in the church, as well as outside of the church.
      I was raised and continue to practice the LDS faith. I remember still the day that the announcement came that everyone could receive the priesthood. I was never taught before, during or after to look at any man, woman or child as anything but my brother or sister and as my equal. That is how I was taught and I continue to believe and practice in my life today.

      • Homer

        that is a lot of “perhaps” in trying to figure out why this happened. I don’t know why it is so hard to consider the possiblity that imperfect, “natural” human beings could act horribly against their fellow human beings. Just acknowledge, apologize, make up for it, and recommit to moving on in progress. Let’s not force the prophets or the scriptures or folklore, or even God himself to take the blame for OUR failings–out behavior is our responsiblity and we (as individuals and as a church) should answer for it.

    • Diana, if leaders can be wrong, where does it end? One strategy is to just accept them as right and end further discussion. Otherwise, what stops the questions from continuing right into the very bedrock of beliefs? If thinking and questioning lead you into a conflict with faith, eventually you have to make a very uncomfortable choice.

      • David

        No member of the church is expected to blindly follow our leaders. In the same manner, leaders of the church are not supposed to give commands, but rather advice.

        Members of the church then have the privilege of prayer to discover that “yes, this is what I’m supposed to do” or “no, this is not what I am supposed to do.”

        More than reliance on a prophet, we teach about an individual relationship with God. Church Leaders are important to provide order and teachings, the house of the Lord is a House of Order, but they are still people. If you beleive our doctrine, yes, they are people with inspiration and authority from God in order to serve us, but still people. Therefore, we have the privilege of going directly to the Lord on all matters.

        I have on rare occasion received insight that I was not, in fact, supposed to do what I was being asked to do. But this has been few and far between.

  17. Thank you for addressing this. As a “Mormon girl” with African American/white cousins from the 1970’s when it was more of an issue, it was nice to hear someone write about the subject how I see it. I don’t like reading accounts that are hiding history, OR reading accounts that are nasty from people who are too angry to see straight.
    Thank you

  18. “In 1849, Brigham Young made a statement that Blacks were not entitled to hold the priesthood due to the “Curse of Cain.”—Please cite your exact source.

  19. Shelly

    Love that you gave an actual representation and didn’t make it fluffy. It’s easy to turn away from something that makes us uncomfortable and excuse it as a decision of someone else.

  20. The problem the Mormon Church has is not what it does today–it is because they hold what the prophet(who ever that may be at the time) as speaking for God. The reality is that they DO have a problem with this. Brigham Young and others DID say blacks could not hold the priesthood due to Cain and they DID (source is again Brigham Young) teach the blood of Christ did NOT cover all sins. DIRECTLY contradicting the Apostle Paul. Like it or not the Mormon Church is stuck with it. Now they are more circumspect in regards to making these kinds of statements, but the reality is Mormonism is ANYTHING BUT Christian in either its practice or doctrine.

    • Thanks Kevin- Please also refer to my other posts-I love your spirit.

      God and interracial marriage: Numbers 12
      I challenge my Mormon brothers and sisters to read this whole chapter in the Bible, then explain to me why we teach that dark skin, or interracial marriage was a curse.
      Numbers 12:1-3, 9-13
      1And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. 3(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
      9And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. 10And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. 11And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. 12Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb. 13And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.
      The original mention of the first Prophet mentioned in the Holy Scriptures was Moses, who married an Ethiopian woman, himself being a person of Hebrew descent, and his sister Miriam, and brother Aaron as well were Hebrews. Miriam had critical words to say about their union, especially since she was dark –skinned, (and therefore inferior according to our earlier Mormon doctrines) being from Ethiopia. What happened to Miriam? The Holy Bible states that she was CURSED with WHITE SKIN, as Leprous as snow! Moses had to pray to God that she’d be healed from her condition that caused her skin to be white according to the scriptures., and this happened BECAUSE they spoke against him having married an Ethiopian Woman. Wow! God was in favor of interracial marriage from the start! He defended Moses by striking another prophet-his own sister- with a curse of leprosy that made her have white skin!
      Wow! What a revelation! the Bible states that her skin being turned white was a curse of punishment that Moses had to beg God to remove! Where did we as Mormons come up with something other than what was originally written in the Word of God? The Holy Bible, where the Words of Our Lord Jesus Christ are found declares that we should not be adding some other view to the word of God:
      Deuteronomy 12:32
      What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
      Galatians 1:6-9
      6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is NOT another; but there be some that trouble you, and would Pervert the Gospel of Christ. 8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9As we said before, so say I now again, If any man (this includes Brigham Young, or Joseph Smith, you ,or me) any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

      In His Love,

      • DougH

        I’m afraid to say that your use of Numbers 12 is problematical. First, the white skin that Miriam was cursed with was clearly symptomatic of a skin disease, it has nothing to do with skin color outside of that. The NIV translation reads: “Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow.” Second, Aaron’s and Miriam’s complaint about Moses’s wife was an excuse, their real motivation made plain in the next sentence: ‘ “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” ‘ And God recognized that when He responded by focusing exclusively on Moses’s calling as a prophet – Aaron and Miriam were pushing for more authority than they had been granted, and were slapped down for it. (A bit of a sideline, I’d say Miriam was the primary instigator, since she was the one the public punishment fell on.)

  21. Kellen

    The thing is Brigham Young was a prophet so I don’t see how his comments can be called “racist” or “wrong” unless he was not a true prophet

    • There is a difference between “racist” and “wrong.” Right and wrong are intangible concepts and exist only if a god establishes rules. If a god accepts racism, then a racist can be a true prophet of that god. The following is certainly virulent racism, and Brigham Young did say it, with no objection from his god, as far as we know, at least not until 1978. “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.”

      Since 1978 that attitude has been wrong, but if it was right once, might not it be right again some day? God’s rules are subject to revision and we can only wait and see what his true prophets will say next.

      • ASteve

        Your nonsensical “reasoning” makes my brain hurt. People who blame their gods for doing evil things are a major reason the world is so messed up.

  22. Ronwhit

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one of the fastest growing churches in the World. Ethnic minorites have become a majority of the membership. The Church in Black Africa is growing by unbelieveable rates. YOUR characterization is wrong. Joseph Smith personally deplored slavery and even took in Black people to his own home to help care for them. I am sorry..YOU are wrong.

    • realist

      The reason why the ‘church in Black Africa’ is growing by unbelievable rates, and the reason LDS is becoming one of the fastest growing churches in the world is only because of the 2 years LDS members travel the world to convert people to LDS. That is the only reason. It’s not because the people are on personal quests regarding religion and come to the realisation that out of all the religions they’ve researched, they believe Mormonisim is the “right” religion.
      The missionaries goal is to baptize as many people as possible.

  23. LMA

    Joanna, thanks for writing this. And, my goodness, I am sure that you know history better than I. But I would still respectfully question your statement, “To my knowledge, no Church leader has ever stood at the pulpit and formally renounced the idea that Cain or Ham are the source of racial Blackness and the priesthood ban.” I believe that your statement is inconsistent with the following:

    In 1954, President David O. McKay said, “There is not now, and there never has been a doctrine in this church that the negroes are under a divine curse. There is no doctrine in the church of any kind pertaining to the negro. We believe that we have a scriptural precedent for withholding the priesthood from the negro. It is a practice, not a doctrine, and the practice someday will be changed. And that’s all there is to it.”

    That seems to disavow the curse-of-Ham theory as far as priesthood is concerned, yes?

    And I know that you are aware of Bruce R. McConkie’s famous statement:

    “There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren that we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” All I can say is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.
    “We get our truth and light line upon line and precept upon precept (2 Ne. 28:30; Isa. 28:9-10; D&C 98:11-12; 128:21). We have now added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter anymore.”

    By saying “they don’t matter anymore,” that seems to renounce the idea that there would be any ongoing merit in the concept of a biblical curse. But in any event, Pres. McKay seemed to be clear that “there never has been a doctrine in this church that the negroes are under a divine curse.” Of course, there were leaders who espoused such a doctrine – just as in the Protestant world at the time – so we would read Pres. McKay as saying that those statements never rose to the level of canonized doctrine. And if they had, they would be repudiated by saying (as he did) that no such doctrine existed as of the time in 1954 when the statement was made. Note that segregation and racial prejudice were still rampant across the land in 1954, when his statement was made.

    The really valuable point made in your article is that the racist attitudes that underlay the curse-of-Ham theory and priesthood ban were far from unique to Mormon culture. That is not to excuse the culture, but only to say that those attitudes were endemic and shared. If anything is clear at all, it is that God has had to be patient with all of His children in teaching them that the worth of every soul is great in His eyes. (D&C 18:10.)

    • Robert

      This is a bit of hearsay, but the story goes (something like) that David McKay was once found in tears. When queried, McKay stated that he had been praying for a revelation to lift the (racist) practice, and the Lord had told him the time was not yet, the world wasn’t ready, and to not bother the Lord again on the matter.

      Such a faith-promoting story fits nicely, with the above McKay quote, but I can’t substantiate it. If someone knows the source, please post.

  24. DougH

    I’m old enough to remember when the ban was lifted. For me, it was no big deal – I’d been taught all my life that the ban would eventually been lifted, that day had come, what was everybody so excited about? I was too young to understand how much the ban had weighed on people. But my mother was certainly old enough to understand, and she cried from sheer joy when she heard the news.

  25. C. King

    The most personal experience I’ve had with supposed doctrinal reasons for the exclusion of blacks from the priesthood was while serving a mission in Honduras. The non Mormon parents of a member, just engaged to another member who was black, dug up some of these ideas and tried to convince their daughter that her own church’s teachings would discourage the marriage. The young couple asked us for help, which was intimidating, but when we began looking in the few books we had we quickly found quotes from several people that discounted and opposed any such idea. I knew what I had been taught, but I wasn’t sure how easy it would be to support and was surprised and relieved at how easy it had been.
    While my life may fit the timeline outlined in the post, being a teenager in 1978, my parent’s lives certainly do not. Born in 1916 and 1923, my father was born in a (very) small town in Utah with his teen years spent in Ogden, and my mother was an adult emigrant to Utah from Missouri. Both had been taught that the theories people talked about were without doctrinal foundation. My parents were both college graduates and thoughtful people, buy this was not a particular point of study for either– life in suburban Utah didn’t throw it up much in those days, and they had a large family to care for.
    I had been taught, as my parents before me, that there was no official church doctrine on the ‘why’ of the ban. I had also been taught that in God’s eyes, there was no difference between people of different races, and that God saw all children as equally entitled to his blessings. There was indeed a ban, but God had not given us his reason for it; frustrating yes, but there was no doctrine. When the announcement of this change came, like many of my acquaintances, I wept with joy.
    Not an argument, not evidence, just personal experience.

  26. Don Johnson

    Although the BY may have made prior statements about dening priesthood to blacks as early as 1849, the first public statement was in 1857 in a Territorial address.

    In the PBS documentary, The Mormons, Apostle Dallin Oak said that the reasons used to justify the ban were “spectacularly wrong”.

    President Gordon Hickly apoligized to Cecil Murry, former paster of the First AME church in Los Angeles on behalf of the church for its past actions regarding slavery and racism.

  27. Brian Hill

    The Church has always been against slavery. Joseph Smith was against it.

    • ASteve

      Joseph Smith’s plan for blacks was to buy them out of slavery with tax money and forcibly ship them back to Africa. So yes he was against slavery, but not in a particularly enlightened way since he wanted to forcibly remove blacks from the US altogether.

      He was less of a racist than Brigham Young. Brigham Young was given the choice of making the Utah Territory slave or free in 1852 and he chose slave. He made it an acceptable practice to pay tithing with slaves and prophecied that the Civil War would not end the practice of slavery.

      He declared that the punishment for interracial marriage was death on the spot. In today’s LDS church interracial marriage is only “discouraged.”

      • DougH

        True, Utah was officially a slave state, but it was an odd sort of slavery. I can’t think of another slave state that *required* owners to send their slaves to school, usually just the opposite. Nor can I think of another state that required that all owners bringing slaves into the territory register their slaves with the government along with proof that they actually owned them, required the slave’s permission before he or she could be sold to someone else, or required that any slave that was abused or inadequately housed, clothed and fed be freed, along with any slave an owner slept with.

        And yes, sexual relations between the races is forbidden, but note that the penalties for violating the law apply only to the White man or woman, and isn’t death.

        Here’s the actual law:

        SEC. 1. Be it enacted by the Governor and Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah, That any person or persons coming to this Territory and bringing with them servants justly bound to them, arising from special contract or otherwise, said person or persons shall be entitled to such service or labor by the laws of this Territory: Provided, That he shall file in the office of the Probate Court written and satisfactory evidence that such service or labor is due.

        SEC. 2. That the Probate Court shall receive as evidence any contract properly attested in writing or any well proved agreement wherein the party or parties serving have received or are to receive a reasonable compensation for his, her, or their services: Provided, that no contract shall bind the heirs of the servant or servants to service for a longer period than will satisfy the debt due his, her, or their master or masters.

        SEC. 3. That any person bringing a servant or servants, and his, her, or their children from any part of the United State[s], or any other country, and shall place in the office of the Probate Court the certificate of any Court of record under seal, properly attested that he, she, or they are entitled lawfully to the service of such servant or servants, and his, her, or their children, the Probate Justice shall record the same, and the master or mistress, or his, her, or their heirs shall be entitled to the services of the said servant or servants unless forfeited as hereinafter provided, if it shall appear that such servant or servants came into the Territory of their own free will and choice.

        SEC. 4. That if any master or mistress shall have sexual or carnal intercourse with his or her servant or servants of the African race, he or she shall forfeit all claim to said servant or servants to the commonwealth, and if any white person shall be guilty of sexual intercourse with any of the African race, they shall be subject, on conviction thereof to a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars, nor less than five hundred, to the use of the Territory, and imprisonment not exceeding three years.

        SEC. 5. It shall be the duty of masters or mistresses, to provide for his, her, or their servants comfortable habitations, clothing, bedding, sufficient food, and recreation. And it shall be the duty of the servant in return therefore, to labor faithfully all reasonable hours, and do such service with fidelity as may be required by his, or her master or mistress.

        SEC. 6. It shall be the duty of the master to correct and punish his servant in a reasonable manner when it may be necessary, being guided by prudence and humanity, and if he shall be guilty of cruelty or abuse, or neglect to feed, clothe, or shelter his servants in a proper manner, the Probate Court may declare the contract between master and servant or servants void, according to the provisions of the fourth section of this act.

        SEC. 7. That servants may be transferred from one master or mistress to another by the consent and approbation of the Probate Court, who shall keep a record of the same in his office; but no transfer shall be made without the consent of the servant given to the Probate Judge in the absence of his master or mistress.

        SEC. 8. Any person transferring a servant or servants contrary to the provisions of this act, or taking one of the Territory contrary to his or her will, except by decree of the Court in case of a fugitive from labor, shall be on conviction thereof, subject to a fine, not exceeding five thousand dollars, and imprisonment, not exceeding five years, or both, at the discretion of the Court, and shall forfeit all claims to the services of such servant or servants, as provided in the fourth section of this act.

        SEC. 9. It shall further be the duty of all masters or mistresses, to send their servant or servants to school, not less than eighteen months between the ages of six years and twenty years.

  28. Brian Hill

    The church believes that those people living in these the Latter-Days (Last Days) are the noble and great ones. See Abraham 3:22 in The Pearl of Great Price. The world has gotten more wicked with the advance of TV, internet, movies, video games, radio, etc. So in 1978 the Latter-Days must have begun because that is when all worthy men of African Descent could hold the priesthood. They could not hold it previously because it was not the Latter-Days yet and because too many men of African descent living at the time had not fought against Satan and his evil angels in the War in Heaven spoken of in the book of Revelation in the King James Bible. They were neutral. In order to hold the Priesthood which is the power and authority to act in God’s name one must be righteous enough. The Church never apologized because there was no need to apologize. I have black friends and I am not racist one bit.

  29. Brian Hill

    Long ago only those from the tribe of Levi which was one of the 12 tribes of Israel could hold the priesthood I believe.

    • DougH

      Not quite, certainly plenty of Old Testament prophets weren’t from the tribe of Levi and at least some of them performed sacrifices and so also held God’s priesthood. But the LDS Church does recognize the special status given to the tribe of Levi, by allowing those able to trace their lineage back to Aaron to hold the office of bishop with only the Aaronic Priesthood (everyone else needs the Melchizedek priesthood).

    • Brian, you say excluding men of African ancestry was because “too many men of African descent living at the time had not fought against Satan.” In other words, you believe most members of the race were unworthy, so it was appropriate to tar every individual in the race with the same brush. What definition of “racism” does this attitude not fit? “No need to apologize” is the stance that establishes racism in 2012, for you and for the church.

  30. Teri

    It’s God’s priesthood to grant as He will. Anciently only the worthy patriarchs had it from Adam, to Abel (who was murdered), Seth, Enoch, Methusalah, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and his brother Levi–and then it was expanded to all worthy males of Levi’s descent, etc. to now it’s all worthy males. It wasn’t about race then or now. Why the exclusion? God’s never said why. Maybe some day He will explain it. Meanwhile, the doctrine, the principle that doesn’t change is that the priesthood is God’s to grant as He will.

  31. You wrote “In 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball announced that in answer to prayer he had come to understand that the priesthood should be made available to all worthy male members of the Church regardless of race or ancestry. This announcement has been canonized as scripture.”

    I am wondering if a similar thing will happen in response to prayer about homosexual LDS members, who are forbidden to express love, get married, etc. Will some white male leader of LDS have a sudden thought–wow, discriminating against homosexuals is actually ANTI-family and excludes possible GLBT families from being Mormon, so I guess I should say that God tells me it’s okay now.

    • DougH

      It doesn’t work that way, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles always strive for consensus for major changes. From what I’ve read, President David O. McKay (1951-70) sought to overturn the ban but was unable to get a consensus, though he was able to soften the Church’s stance and lay the groundwork for later. For instance, as early as 1954 President McKay stated there was no LDS doctrine on Blacks (a true statement, the Church’s position was purely theological), and there was a partial overturn by giving the priesthood to Melanesian Blacks in 1955.

      For the Church’s position on civil rights for Blacks, in 1958 Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith declared that the Church’s position was full civil rights for Blacks, in 1963 Apostle Hugh B. Brown said the same thing in a General Conference talk, and in 1969 the First Presidency released a statement saying in part, “we believe the Negro, as well as those of other races, should have his full Constitutional privileges as a member of society, and we hope that members of the Church everywhere will do their part as citizens to see that these rights are held inviolate. Each citizen must have equal opportunities and protection under the law with reference to civil rights.”

      In the LDS Church, large-scale change takes time.

  32. Melissa

    Your closing thought is misleading at best and disingenuous at worst. Miriam was of middle-eastern descent. Certainly she was never confused as Caucasian. Her “whiteness” was a by-product of having leprosy and thus a curse upon her.

  33. I’m not a Mormon, in fact I’m not a believer of any kind. Still, I am interested in religion and its role in human civilization. Overall I’d say its role is more positive than negative. But this is one instance where the downside is stronger. It is always curious to me how difficult it is for people — or religions — to say those three little words, “I was wrong.” Most people are fair and forgiving and would be happy to give the LDS a pass on this issue, if only there could be a clear, unambiguous, top-down statement that the longtime position of the church regarding blacks was simply a mistake, period. The Catholic Church has managed to make this kind of admission on more than one occasion. The Mormons could learn something from the Catholics.

  34. Twister

    You say that there is no scriptural basis for the color of a “black” person’s skin and that the LDS Church has been “racist”. I say what about the Book of Mormon’s multiple references to where the wicked were cursed with “dark” skin (specifically Laman and Lemuel and their descendents) and also the BofM’s references to where righteous Lamanites eventually had their skin made “white”? There’s no murkiness in these verses in the Book of Mormon. As far as your charge of “racism”, I have a hard time saying that the prophets from Brigham Young down to Spencer W. Kimball ALL got it ‘wrong’. In my personal opinion (again, this is my personal opinon) I believe that Cain, as well as Laman and Lemuel, WERE cursed with “dark” skin, just like the scriptures say. As far as why God allows “dark skin” to remain today, perhaps it is because those individuals were NOT valiant in the pre-earth life. I’ve also wondered if perhaps non-whites today are given dark skin by God as a way to teach us all, whites and non-whites alike, that judging one by their skin color alone is foolish for all are children of God and all are loved, even cherished by God, our common Father in Heaven.

  35. Me

    My thinking on the Bruce R. McConkie teaching from his book “Mormon Doctrine”: his teaching quickly becomes ridiculous when we pursue his logic. If a black person was not as valiant in the pre-mortal life, and a white person was valiant, then if those two people marry, their children will have been 50% as valiant as a white person. Extrapolate all of the possible various inter-marryings, and try to follow the righteousness percentage. It would be hilarious if it hadn’t been so damaging. The take away message for me: take all teachings with a grain (or more!) of salt.

  36. If Mormons are really over their racist past, why don’t they simply unequivocally denounce it and say they were wrong? I suspect that they won’t ever do this because to say they were wrong would mean the church was wrong. I think what you are failing to tell your readers is that the official position of the LDS church has been that their racist doctrines came from God and not from the leadership of the church. By stating they were racist and wrong you would essentially be saying that God was wrong. This would expose the LDS church for being the flawed man-made entity that recently it has been criticized for being.

    • DougH

      Actually, whether one believes that God instituted the ban for His own reasons or that the ban was emplaced by Brigham Young because he was so certain he knew the truth of the matter that he didn’t bother to ask God if it was right, there has never been a doctrinal basis for it in Mormon teachings, and President David O. McKay said as much as early as 1954.

      • Diana

        David O. McKay’s statement that it was a “practice” and not a “doctrine” was in a VERY private conversation with Mormon liberal Sterling W. McMurrin. However 7 years earlier there was a signed First Presidency letter that called it “doctrine” stating

        “From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel.”

        This was signed by George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKay

        Five years earlier, in 1949 there was another First Presidency Statement over the signature of President George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKay stating:

        “The attitude of the Church with reference to the Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the Priesthood at the present time.”

        So David O. McKay’s and the Church’s OFFICIAL position was that the denial of full participation to Blacks was DOCTRINE and COMMANDMENT FROM THE LORD. There is no official statement from David O. McKay to the contrary. This is the problem the Mormon Church has. Its leaders taught for over a century that the denial of full participation to Blacks was a DOCTRINE and a COMMANDMENT from God. To now admit that they were wrong would undercut their claims to being led by prophets. So the current approach is to try to sweep it under the rug and rewrite history by digging up off-hand, hear-say statements in private conversations while ignoring official pronouncements.

      • DougH

        You missed my point, the priesthood ban stood alone without any doctrinal explanation. It would be as if the ban on baptisms before the age of eight was in place, but the scriptural basis for that ban didn’t exist and all we had to explain it was theological speculation. Certainly, it leaves more room for working around the edges, such as when under the direction of President McKay the Melanesian Blacks were given the priesthood in 1955.

  37. There are two things which people who are not Mormons do not understand about the priesthood restriction: (1) This was an outlier, because the Church actively evangelized other ethnic minorities, starting with American Indians (regarded as descendants of Book of Mormon peoples) in 1831, Polynesians in 1844 (resulting in the Mormon community at Laie in Hawaii, home of BYU-Hawaii which serves Mormon students from all over the Pacific Rim), Asians in 1901 (Japan, which has some 100,000 Mormons of record), and Mexicans and other Latin Americans since a century ago. My mother joined the Church in Japan in 1949. President Kimball, who ended the priesthood restriction for blacks, was a native of Arizona, and he had long been an advocate for American Indians, among whom his own father had been a missionary.
    The second thing non-Mormons don’t appreciate is that Mormons did not practice other indicia of “racism” toward blacks. There was no ban on them joining the Church, and there were no segregated congregations. There were several black families in my Salt Lake City congregation when I was growing up in the 1950s.
    The priesthood restriction was not something one would expect from the ethnic background of 19th Century Mormons, who were principally from the New England and Middle Atlantic states, the non-slave-holding North, and immigrants from Britain and Europe. Relatively few Southerners joined the Church, and the tradition of Southern Protestant hostility to Mormons (including lynching) was part of the violent heritage of the South toward blacks, Catholics, and other minorities. Brigham Young was from Vermont, raised as a strict Methodist. In general, his relations with Native Americans were peaceful and cooperative, and he sent missionaries out to convert them.
    Twenty-first Century Mormons are a minority-majority organization, with over half the Church outside the US, speaking some 96 different languages. Even the “white” Mormons descended from the original European converts go out and live as missionaries for two years in some 150 nations, so some of their closest friendships are with people of other nationalities.
    If the people who call Mormons “racist” because of a policy ended a generation ago, when two thirds of current Mormons were not alive or converted to the Church, actually visited Mormon congregations in New York City or Washington DC or Los Angeles, they would find diverse groups cutting across all income levels.
    They should also be aware that when Mitt Romney was a Church leader in Boston, he served Mormons who were Haitian immigrants and Cambodian refugees (with whom he could speak French).

    • Diana

      Mormonism’s racism was because of doctrine and not because of personal animosity of Mormons. Mormons actively embraced many minorities and “people of color” offering them full participation. The only difference was that Blacks of African heritage were not allowed full participation due to a doctrine that the Mormons were stuck with. I’m sure Mitt Romney was thrilled in 1978 when the change finally was made, but I’m also sure he never criticized the Church’s doctrine on the subject before that.

  38. When I was 32, 3 years ago, I decided to read the biography of Spencer W Kimball (I should probably tell you that I never understood the withholding of the priesthood). As I read that book, I began to see who this man really was. He loved the Native American people. He was a kind, gentle, compassionate, and duyt-driven (is that a word?) man. He talks about how he prayed and prayed for the priesthood to be given to everyone. He really didn’t understand the ban himself was the feeling I got.
    After reading the book, the Spirit testified to me that Spencer Kimball was the right man for the job. I learned that our Heavenly Father has his own timeline and prepares those who will carry it out.
    Why has there been no apology? Could it be that the leaders now don’t understand it themselves. They are not Brigham young. They did not live 150 years ago. Brigham Young will be held accountable for the things he did as prophet. Thomas S Monson will be held accountable for the things he does. That’s as it should be. I would hate to see my children held accountable for my actions. ( Article of Faith 2)
    As for the why? My poor attempt at explaining it is this: everyone’s faith is tried differently.
    I remember hearing Thurl Bailey talk about his conversion to the gospel. He struggled with this topic. He talked of the great faith it took. I know the Lord to be good at making terrible things work for our good, “beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:) so to say. I know I’ve witnessed it in my own life.

    • Derick Gines

      Thank you for your comments Larae.
      I have two sisters and one brother that are black. My brother is a member of the LDS faith and holds the priesthood. He plans on enjoying the blessings of the temple by being sealed to his future wife for eternity. I’m grateful for that blessing in my life.
      God doesn’t offer apologies. He doesn’t need to. “know thou, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.” D&C 122:7. God will test our faith, and bless us for our obedience. A prophet of God cannot lead Christ’s church astray. God doesn’t need to offer explanations either, but for the humble and those who are willing to “search, ponder, and pray” He willingly gives answers.
      The official declaration 2, which was presented by President N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church says this:

      “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.”

      Can you imagine trying to apologize for something God told you to do? I believe Brigham Young is a true prophet. Was he imperfect? Sure. Did he make mistakes? We all do. BUT NOT CONCERNING THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST. I’d like to quote President Wilford Woodruff when he said,
      “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty. (Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2)

      Isaiah 55:
      8 ¶For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
      9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

      My brother and I are aware of the the PRIVELAGE that it is to hold the Priesthood and enter the Temple. If tomorrow the prophet says white males are no longer allowed to hold the priesthood, I would be sad… But it’s the Lord’s power and authority, and who am I to argue? I have a testimony that the Church is true. I also have a testimony that the Lord knows more than I do. I would hope that an experience like that would help me build my faith and understanding. If we’re faithful, we will become more like Him every day. And that’s the real purpose of this life.

  39. Spirit of Detroit

    I’ll say this about that – I am fair-skinned, African-American, genetically bi-racial, easily identifiable as black by most African-Americans (in my 47-year personal experience), and often mis-identified as white by others (as evidenced by a few traffic citations over the years incorrectly identifying my race as white). I have travelled broadly – Europe, Asia, and Latin America, and I have never felt as unwelcome as I did in Salt Lake City, Utah – TWICE. I was there for a major regional hockey tournament with my son the first time and chalked it up to what I presumed was an isolated lifestyle. After the first visit, I was intrigued and took the initiative to learn a little more about the LDS faith and history of SLC. Although I believed the curse to be an outmoded excuse of ignorance born of fear, I consciously worked to understand the differences in behvaior on my second trip (another hockey tournament), and in spite of approaching it with an open mind, I came away with the same flat, sour taste. Sure there are exceptions to the rule- I don’t douby for a second that askmormongirl and thousands of other Mormons are enlightened through Grace; however, It doesn’t take a proclamation by elders or cannonization of text – it takes righteous indignation to make right what the LDS theology has tragically gotten wrong. No follower of Christ can accept this- no Mormon will ever get my vote without a fervent and sincere recrimination of this folly and evidence of sustained personal activism to change it. I will never set foot in the sorry state of Utah again. I forgive LDS as brothers and sisters and I aslo respect their right to believe as they wish, but I have shaken the dust from my feet on this one. Christ will direct us all.

    • Dean

      Spirit of Detroit,

      As others have pointed out, African Americans and other minorities were never denied entry to the church through the saving ordnance of baptism. The same can not be said for many other faiths which often denied baptism to minorities. Even in the case of Baptists and Methodists, black members were segregated into separate congregations yet no one asks questions about their past.

      My experience having lived in several parts of the country plus China and Australia is that you find what you want to find. There are good people and bad people every where, even Utah.

      • quixote

        Dean, I agree there are probably some decent people in SLC – but it wasn’t just a few people who made me feel unwelcome there. The place was entirely inhospitable, barely cordial, although never overtly hostile. It could be that the society is simply very conservative and isolated. I think it is more likely, however, that the coldness was a manifestation of teachings on the subject of race. As I said, I’ve been all over the world and in our own “deep south” and I’ve never felt more unwelcome than I did in SLC (twice). There may be good people in Utah, but being “good people” is more than just the absence of hostility. In general, they prefer not to associate with black folks. That’s their prerogative, but don’t expect the rest of us to ignore that baggage in a presidential election.

    • Albqgirl

      @Spirit of Detroit
      I am bothered by (what sounds to me) your conclusion that Mormons are racists (to whatever degree). Being a Mormon I have never been taught or heard or felt anything other than we are all children of God. We have had many African American family friends over the years (both members of the church and not)- my best friend as a child, my brother’s first kiss, my husband’s roommate and later an African-American bishop, not to mention there are many leaders in the church of African descent. SLC itself is only roughly 20% LDS. You said yourself that you are light skinned and sometimes mistaken for being other than African-American. Perhaps your experience in UT had nothing to do with your race. I do not doubt that it happened and I am sorry you had negative experiences but could it have been due to something other than your genetics? Perhaps?

  40. old teacher

    The church denied priesthood for black member based on the book of Mormon, And [God] had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people, the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God; I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.” (2 Nephi 5:21)

    The same thing that we see in old western movies, where the bad guy has a black hat and the good guy wears white……still exists. I personally think the ONLY reason minorities are welcomed is to grow the church…..kind of, we’ll take anyone, even if we don’t like them, as long as the church grows

    • DougH

      No, the Book of Mormon had nothing to do with the LDS Church’s position on Blacks receiving the priesthood. The “skin of blackness” your quote mentions would be the shade of the American indigenous population, that were enthusiastically proselytized. Nor are they simply “black hat” stock villains:

      “5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.

      “6 And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.

      “7 Behold, their husbands love their wives, and their wives love their husbands; and their husbands and their wives love their children; and their unbelief and their hatred towards you is because of the iniquity of their fathers; wherefore, how much better are you than they, in the sight of your great Creator?”

      And that promise is fulfilled later, to such a degree that at one point the Lamanites are the ones sending missionaries to the Nephites.

  41. I just left a comment on your December 2 post to introduce myself and to tell you of the series I plan to post next week which, while not being specifically about Mormonism, will none-the-less get a bit into my own Mormon history. It will, in fact, deal a bit with this very issue. Again, I hope you will drop by.

  42. Dean

    If you believe the church to be what it states, the Restored Church of Jesus Christ then you also believe it is led by Christ through revelation to his servants. To guess as to why the Lord would deny the Priesthood to a group of individuals for a period of time is speculation at best. God has put limits on such matters in that past. Why was it OK for Jesus to deny the gospel to gentiles for a time? Why was it OK to limit the Priesthood to the house of Levi for a time? Doesn’t that seem odd to deny races of people the blessings of the Gospel? The answer is that an omnipotent and omniscient being knows the beginning from the end and to pretend that we know better than God is foolish.

    “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same” (D&C 1:38). We don’t know why the revelation was not given sooner but if you have faith in the restoration of the church through living prophets and apostles then it should not shake your testimony. The great thing about a living church and revelation is that a glorious change such as this can take place. I can’t think of another Christian faith that I would rather trade pasts with in terms of racial relations. Do we wish the revelation came sooner, yes, but all in the Lord’s time.

  43. Why should the Church “apologize” for something it didn’t do?
    That’s why the Church shouldn’t apologize, because it didn’t do anything wrong. It simply followed the will of God. You are looking at the Church through eyes of modern social convention and ignorance of scripture in relation to racism and inequality, instead of what the Church actually did and was.

    Let me explain why…..

    1. The ban only applied to those of “African” lineage, not blacks.

    2. All other races including blacks of the Islands, India, non African blacks of Central/South America etc. “were” given the Priesthood once their lineage was determined.

    3. Skin color was only one of the ways to help determine lineage, but not the final way. Lineage was primarily determined through Patriarcal Blessing and through Geneology.

    4. White men were denied the priesthood and even had it taken away if they had African Lineage.

    5. Lineage was determined by Patriarchal Blessing, and Family History Work, not because you were “black”.

    6. The priesthood Biblically was always highly “restricted” also by Lineage, to certain Tribes, etc., and that didn’t make the Church then “racist”, it was simply the policy per Gods wishes. The Tribe of Levi for example were the only ones allowed to have the priesthood, all others were “banned”. Other Tribes were even denied entry into the Temple, especially the Holy of Holy’s.

    7. Christ Himself denied the Gospel to be given to any non-Jew. It took Peter after Christ’s death to receive a Revelation to give the gospel to the Gentile. Yet, Christ was not a racist.

    One thing that’s interesting with this, is that Christ did give the gospel to a “couple” of non-Jews. Likewise, in the LDS Church a “couple” of African blacks were also given the Priesthood.

    8. Women are not given the Priesthood, but that doesn’t mean the Church is sexist, hating women, holding women down, belittling women, etc.. The actual reality is that men and women simply have different roles per the Gospel of Christ. Women still have authority in the Church, are leaders, are treated equally and with respect, etc. There is no “gender inequality”.

    9. Interesting to note that by the mid 70’s Racism and even slavery of the black African had finally ended the world over (talking most, not the isolated cases that still occur). Thus, it is not unreasonable to believe that God operates according to man’s timeline, as he’s done Biblically on other issues such as the Higher Law vs the 10 Commandments etc., so the priesthood in order to not be defiled by the evils of racism, bigotry, and the slavery of man, was denied to those who were under those conditions. Thus, it had nothing to do with racism “by” the Church, but racism in the world at large. God does nothing unless man is ready for it.

    10. The possible initial beginnings of the ban were believed to be according to an interpretation of the scriptures. However, there is no sure sign of this, thus it’s possible that it was simply the way things were interpreted after the fact in trying to find scriptural reasons for the ban. Given the lack of evidence, the ban may have been put in place by revelation that was never canonized, and then the assumptions followed after.

    11. The LDS Church always had messages of tolerance, and love for others, including blacks, and it always taught “against” racism. Being first exposed to the LDS Church before the ban was lifted, I can testify that those in the Church and the Church itself was so “non-racist” in it’s behaviors and teachings, that I didn’t even know the ban existed until it was lifted. It was also along with the Catholic Church, had no sign of racism in it. Many of the other religions I had attended over the years, there was often some sort of racist thing uttered and feeling therein, even in a black congregation of another religion I had attended for a period.

    12. Mormons always kicked out the KKK whenever they tried to settle in Utah. That doesn’t give any indication that Mormons were racist. In fact it gives the opposite indication.

    13. Blacks and all races have “always” been allowed to be members of the Church, there was no segregation either compared to most other faiths, all races in Mormonism have always fellowshipped and worshiped with each other. No one was placed in situations to feel “inferior” with their brethren.

    14. Mormons, including the leadership of the Church always “lamented” the existence of the ban, but had Faith that one day the ban would be lifted. Such a common belief and view in the Church, even by it’s leadership, again does not indicate a religion or a people who are “racist”.

    15. The ban was both a doctrine and a policy. The doctrine is that the priesthood is given of God according to His Will, and some of the possible commandments of such can be found in scripture, but given Latter-day Revelation, the Church is unsure whether those scriptures actually apply to the subject. The policy in this instance is that those of African Lineage were not to be given the Priesthood.

    16. Mormons were “Abolitionists”. In fact, several of the instances of Mormons being driven from place to place in it’s early history was a great deal due to their Abolitionist views. Mormons were a large voting block, and there was a great deal of resentment by locals who were racist, as well as bigoted toward the Church itself because of this. Thus, it was not simply religious intolerance toward the Church that resulted in some of the early bigotry against the Church, it was also due to it’s stance against racism.

    Doctrine does not change, but Policy’s do. Meaning that sometimes the “practices” that relate to certain doctrines are what changes, not the doctrines themselves. For example, the Law of Sacrifice. The doctrine is still the same, but the practice is now different, we no longer kill animals.

    In conclusion, studies have shown that Mormons were no more “racist” than any other population of America, some were racist, some where ethno-centrist, but most were neither, and Mormons certainly were not anything close to those who were racist in the South for comparison. Mormons also were not racist to the degree many other religions were, in their segregation policy’s, in their judgments of the black man, etc.

    The Church itself also given the actual facts of the priesthood ban, was not “racist”, but simply did what God said to do, and the Church could not do otherwise until He said otherwise. Had it been up to Mormons, the ban would have been lifted long before. But, God’s Will is not man’s Will in the LDS Church. We are led by God, not man.

    It is true that some statements by LDS leaders were racist by our standards, some were ethno-centrist by our standards, and other statements are misconstrued and misused by critics, thus not actually racism, but something else is being stated. It is also true that some leaders made false assumptions in trying to “explain” the ban. However, none of these things were “doctrine” of the Church, and for that matter, were not believed by most of the Church, because after all, we have the scriptures and spirit ourselves. As a part of the checks and balances in the Church, the Church still remained intact and not led astray.

    Further, if one looks at the totality of the statements and views of nearly ALL of those same individuals who made remarks that might give us pause today, we see men who were righteous men, me who were tolerant and respectful of minorities and otherwise.

    It’s a similar thing of there existing a few negative statements about other religions by some leaders in LDS history, well those same men a 100 times more often said good things about other religions and christians. One cannot judge a people nor especially a religion by quote mining the most negative statements, and then ignoring the rest which would give a more accurate perspective of their belief system, and then think one is being truthful. Ultimately, mormons and especially the Church was not racist. Did some humans make some mistakes, yes. But, the Work is God’s Work, and his work is above such human petty mistakes and foolishness. THAT is the important thing. It is a Glorious Work to be a part of…..

    In conclusion, does the Church need and have any reason to apologize? Absolutely not….
    It did nothing wrong. It cannot be blamed for the “ignorance” of anti-Mormons and the less informed mormon or non-mormon that is ignorant of the actual practice and policy’s of the ban, and scriptural history, who usually just ignorantly take the anti-mormon viewpoint of the issue at face value. AFter all, it seems racist at first look, so the Church must have been wrong. Hence the so-called claim and need people have to want the Church to apologize.

    • Michael Johnson

      People of African lineage at the time this ban was put in place were known as Negroes. It is these people who are colloquially called “Blacks” today. The ban was not on all people with black skin which would include Melanesians, Australian Aborigines, Southern Indians, and Sri Lankans, but I doubt Brigham Young knew these people existed. No person who is white but born in Africa was ever denied the priesthood, so it wasn’t a ban relating to geography. It was most definitely racial however.

      Brigham Young stated that black African people were cursed and banned from receiving the priesthood. This also meant they could not attend the temple or be married there. Thus black women were also affected, and their children.

      I disagree that the LDS church has been tolerant and accommodating towards people of color, and especially people of African ancestry. I can remember talk at church of dark skin being a sign of unrighteousness – a curse placed upon people who would one day revert to whiteness when they have become righteous again. This was expressed in LDS scripture until recently when it was changed. I believe Spencer W Kimball claimed the Native Americans would soon become white again.

      How can anyone believe that it is not a hostile environment for non-white people when they hear that type of talk? African people are told they were not valiant in the pre-existence. Whether these statements were (are) folklore, not “official” or said by prophets speaking as men, you really can’t expect any of this to be not taken to heart by non-white people who have heard this talk for generations. Isn’t an apology due for that?

      God following man’s timeline? Shouldn’t truth be at the forefront of a church led by God? Why would a God wait for society to be less racist before ending the ban? That seems to diminish the role of God in the leadership of the Church.

      I disagree that the Church has “always had messages of tolerance, and love for others”. The Church opposed the push for Black civil rights. It was called a communist plot by the Prophet and other high level Mormons who were members of the John Birch Society. Brigham Young said slavery would always be. He said that was the lot of Black Africans.In 1852 the Utah Territorial Legislature officially sanctioned slavery in Utah Territory. At that time, Brigham Young was governor, and the Utah Territorial Legislature was dominated by church leaders. In the late 1800s blacks living in Cache Valley were forcibly relocated to Ogden and Salt Lake City. In the 1950s, the San Francisco mission office took legal action to prevent black families from moving into the church neighborhood. In 1965, a black man living in Salt Lake City, Daily Oliver, described how – as a boy – he was excluded from an LDS-led boy scout troop because they did not want blacks in their building. Mormon apostle Mark E. Petersen describes a black family that tried to join the LDS church: “[some white church members] went to the Branch President, and said that either the [black] family must leave, or they would all leave. The Branch President ruled that [the black family] could not come to church meetings. It broke their hearts.” Until the 1970s hospitals with connections to the LDS church, including LDS Hospital, Primary Children’s and Cottonwood Hospitals in Salt Lake City, McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, and Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, kept separate the blood donated by blacks and whites.

      Non white skinned people were taught they were colored because they came from evil ancestors. Hence they inferred that their natural appearance was a mark of inferiority – something that is a result of evil-doing. The church opposed the Equal Rights Amendment for women. The church excommunicated women who fought for this. The church now opposes gay rights. In the past it taught that gay people choose to be gay and can stop by choice. It taught gay people are second only to murderers and would never see their families in the next life. None of this is tolerant of other people at all.

      I don’t expect this to be approved. I’m tired of the half truths. This isn’t what people who belong to a church that teaches honesty should be doing. If you believe in telling the truth, you do not lie by omission.

    • adrian

      interesting and long but can you expalin you prophet:
      Brigham Young on the appearence of Africans:
      “Cain slew his brother….and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the FLAT NOSE AND BLACK SKIN…”
      (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, pages 290-291)
      “Their skin is quite black, their hair woolly and black, THEIR INTELLIGENCE STUNTED, and they appear never to have arisen from the most savage state of barbarism.” The Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 3, page 157

    • David

      If it was African Lineage that justified the priesthood ban, then Lehi, and Nephi where cursed because Lehi was a descendant of Mannasseh, Joseph son if jacob took Asenath to wife an Egyptian woman, and they bore Ephraim and Mannasseh. EGYPT IS AN AFRICAN COUNTRY. the Book of Mormon was written in an AFRICAN language…” the teaching of the hebrews the language of the fathers” the Egyptian. this is a gospel of repentance if you do wrong you must repent,sometimes saying sorry is a part of repentance, feeling sorry definately should be. you should know that

      • velardavid@hotmail.com

        Ok with all these comments flying around and names confusing things…. let me straighten this out.

        One thing that annoys me is how Mormons try to talk about their writings “Doctrine and Covenents” and “Book of Mormon” as if it has the same historical heritage as the Bible. The Bible is clearly HISTORICAL… that means that it was clearly written IN the period it came from, and that even if we say it was written years after, we KNOW it wasn’t written 180 years ago, trying to talk about things 2000 years ago.

        With that being said, there was NO teaching in the BIBLE about banning blacks from anything. There was NO teaching in the BIBLE about black skin being a mark or a curse. There was NO teaching in the BIBLE, nor by any BIBLICAL prophet, apostle, or leader, about blacks being of cain, canaan, cursed, banned, or any of that.

        Mormons. Get it through your minds – Joseph Smith put in YOUR “holy canon” writings that related black people, and/or black skin to SOME kind of mark or curse. Joseph Smith also made it out as if Abraham and Moses had done such a thing. That never happened.

        But since Smith wrote and your religion canonized it as if it DID happen, your church has canonized itself OUT of the word of God. Because it clearly did not happen.

        All of this over a mistranslation of the word “oath”, and a desire to placate the Missouri racists of the day. The entire curse of cain myth came out of the Baptists and Methodists. It’s the SAME teaching, and even if it’s slightly different, it’s clearly made up from the same source. Why? Because it never happened firstly. Secondly, it came from the same mentality… the same tired mentality…

        the notion that cain was “cursed” with black skin came from some oddball idea long after the Bible was written. LONG afterwards. And the fact that Mormons still try to explain dark skin around some kind of curse (or restriction, doesn’t matter) is a testament as to how deep racial prejudice goes that one can even hold on to their dear religious conviction to keep it in place.

        Which is it? You don’t want to betray Smith and his canon or you don’t want to TRULY respect black people as always been equal?

      • David

        Your comments were good I will reply the best that I can, how about we start from the begining of your comments “The Bible is clearly historical” the Book of Mormon is not.” It say’s clearly many times throughout the Book of Mormon that the small plates were of the sacred writings, and the Large have historical accounts such as wars, history and the such. But for a “wise” purpose were the sacred writings written, the book of Mormon contains only the small plate sacred account. It is not meant to be read as a History book but for purposes of the soul. It’s really ironic because it is so clear in the scriptures of that and so many people have spent so much time and money researching all the historical facts when the historical accounts are written on a sepperate record. It’s like looking up the meaning of a word in a math book instead of a dictionary.

        The rest of your comments i’ll start from the bottom up from “betray Joseph Smith/respect black people as always” before I start you have to know what an idiom is, basicly it doesnt mean what you think it means. ie. Jeremiah 8:21 “For the hurt of the daughter of my people am I hurt; I am black;astonishment has taken hold of me” footnote on black 21a HEB.idiom meaning gloomy, youl also see there joel2:6;nahum2:10 words black in those verses have same word black and meaning if you dont have LDS standard works its all available on lds.org under scriptures with footnotes. you sited Moses and Abraham in your comments thats funny because i’m going to them to help you understand otherwise.

        I’ll try to make this quick.1st cursed right away in moses the serpent above all cattle..the woman,sorrowful conception…Adam the land cused for him…
        for cain cursed from the earth,earth wont yeild strength he’ll be a fugitive and vagabond. his response in moses5:39 “thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the Lord”…this is what a curse is a seperation from God from your own iniquity. Moses5:41 cain was shut out…footnote on shut, spiritual bondage. to truly understand the Mark follow the footnote of alma 3:7-16, actually better to start out at 4….the key words are incorrect traditions, and note mix the footnote is interfaith, not interracial, because they had the same mother and father they were the same color there was no outward skin change. even verse 10 of alma 3 notice that whosoever suffered himself to be led away…was the same mark, so it is not a hereditary handing down.(also a good refrence for this is type of understanding its one word, Blacksinthescriptures.com under skin color and curses)
        Back to a curse is a seperation from God
        o.k. so cain wasnt black, so whats going on in Moses 7:22? all the seed of adam, save the seed of cain because they were black, had no place among them (paraphrased) first of all remember that doesnt mean what you think it means, but regardless even if it did, wich it didnt, what is about to happen?…the flood.even the bible dictionary reiderates cains descendants lived seperately from the descendants of adam. I bring this up because from adam to seth, then enoch is promised an unalterable decree that a remnant of his seed will be all over the earth so his son methusela stayed back from the city of Enoch so this could be fulfilled, then methusela had Noah, and built the ark. in moses 8:27 talking of Noah it says”and he walked with God, as did his three sons, Shem,Ham.and japeth.”….some oral traditions try to say hams wife was from cain,hence black people but wait,wait,wait…what about moses 7:22 if they didnt “mix” with seed of adam arent Noah and his sons seed of adam and like in m.8:27 if they walked with God they wouldnt marry unriteous idolotrous carnal women. hence the wicked residue of cain was not on the Ark of Noah.

        I’m going to take a break im getting tired I will get into the Abrahamic Covenant next and the best teaching of it is in Abraham 1, and 2, although at first read it may seem shocking and revolting, but I have learned something about it that I just can’t deny, I learned something how we say by the spirit, but I just couldnt figure out how to put it into words for the longest time.but I knew it none the less. after thought and study I now have it. and It will even make Abraham 1 make sense.

        and elaborate on color of skin, but I thought it a good idea to wash away all thoughts of cain like the washing from a baptism and begin the talk of dark skin and equality and the Love God has for us all and the Abrahamic Covenant.

      • velardavid@hotmail.com

        So David you say Cain wasn’t black.

        Here’s what you’re not getting. Adam and Eve were both black, so by nature their children were all black. Whether or not that relates to your idea is not relevant.

        You bring up the bible dictionary and oral traditions about Ham and Cain.

        Well guess what, that’s where you and Joseph Smith make mistakes. Oral traditions are not found that give any validity that Ham’s wife was from Cain. In fact, how do you even try to put “oral traditions” in here? We’re talking about bible, history, and facts on the ground.

        First of all, your Pearl of Great price was made by Smith. so what ABOUT Moses 6:22? So what later your own Moses talks about Egyptians and their descendents being banned from the priesthood. So what the Bible says that Egyptians can intermarry after 4 generations and there is not prohibition from that point forward of Levitical men being descended from Egyptians.

        But the fact is the Book of Moses? MOSES didn’t write that. Joseph SMITH did! Remember that’s another of Smith’s “discoveries”, not a document found anywhere in history. So besides “feeling like it”,

  44. Two things are important among all that has been stated: There is always “The law of first mention”, regarding God’s Sovereignty and the Love of God towards man. Regarding questions of racial origination, Anthropologists of all ethnic backgrounds will agree that dark-skinned parents can produce dark-skinned children, medium-skinned (olive or caramel, for example), and light-skinned children (white), therefore Adam and Eve being the original progenitors had to be dark-skinned in order to produce children that would inhabit the globe. Noah came out of this lineage, and Noah’s dark skin would easily explain why the three children – Ham (which means dark, black, hot, or heat), Shem, (which means olive, or dusky), and Japheth (which means white, bright, or fair) could come from such lineage. Each of these sons had a given time to rule, according to biblical history. Ham & his descendants had the 1st chance at this, with Nimrod, Ham’s descendant being the leader (Genesis 10:8-12; Micah 5:6), having Semitic and Japhetic slaves, Following his failure, God gave Shem the opportunity and chose them as the smallest of all of the three lineages by population (Deuteronomy 7:7). They had the rule over descendants of Ham & Japheth and their rule was failed miserably, even as much as God had revealed to them.(So- much- so that the Heavens were shut up from them for 400 years between the Old and New Testaments. After Jesus came, proving that neither Ham, or Shem were capable of rule of the earth, He died to pay for us all, then gave Japheth the chance to rule-(the white -skinned child), who naturally had followed suit and had Hamitic and Semitic slaves-just as the others before. This present dispensation is where whites have rule (but it wasn’t always that way). IMHO, the rule of Japheth is the worst, because Christ has been the Entire and Complete revelation of God the Father ( John 19:30, Colossians 2:9, Hebrews 1:1-3) fully revealed and manifest, and for all that- the racial bigotry & hatred is more widespread than ever before! Socially, the KKK, Skinheads, and other hate groups are developed & politically endorsed. For America’s anemic displays of Christianity, During the time of the Asuza revivals, The Churches of God in Christ (Black Pentecostal Organization) and the Assemblies of God (White Pentecostal Organization) would not worship together (and barely do now) due to the dictates of the culture in America at the time, all the while boasting of superior revelation and understanding. What happened to the Ministry, Work and Person of the Holy Spirit- who sheds the love of God abroad in our hearts (Romans 5:5) ? Please note that this is the same Love that God was motivated by so much that He gave His only Begotten Son. A little research through the lineage of Jesus Christ will prove that He was a mestizo ( a person of mixed origin), giving him the ability to die in identification with the entire world being tempted in all points as we are, yet without sin. Jesus Christ never hid the gospel from the gentiles- the Roman Centurion (Matthew 8:5-13), the Syrophenician Woman (Mark 7:26-30), and the foreign Leper ( called a “stranger” in King James vernacular in Luke 17:12-19) prove this clearly. Reality is that God is Love, and the Love of God is the reason for abundant life.

  45. Michael Johnson

    Brigham Young’s teaching that Blacks were cursed with Cain’s mark (as a black skin) is referred to here as a “legend”. This “legend” was repeated by many other general authorities since Brigham Young, and it was never refuted. The 1978 declaration does not state this teaching was wrong. African people are still considered to bear the mark of a black skin as a sign they were cursed (or their ancestors were cursed) despite being permitted to be able to hold the priesthood (if male) and fully participate. If there exists an official declaration stating that Brigham Young’s teachings on this matter were wrong, I would like to see it.

    Brigham Young went further and stated that whites and blacks should not marry. Death was the suggested penalty for this infraction.

    To dismiss this and any other insensitive remarks related to people of African decent by Prophets and other general authorities as simply being a product of the times these men lived in is to lessen the claim of the Church that Jesus Christ is at the head of the church and it’s leaders are inspired of God. Inspired men do not spout such serious words as part of a telling of “legends”. Brigham Young did not call them legends or even intimate that he was simply suggesting possible reasons why Black people were black and considered to be unequal with white people. He was quite adamant with his remarks, as were others who followed him.

    Quite frankly I am disturbed by the trend of many self-proclaimed church spokespeople to trivialize and ignore many teachings of early prophets as “fokelore” or “legends”. The people living at the time did not believe these statements were folkelore or legends. They took the words of the prophets as seriously as we should today.

    • Why was there an assumption that the mark on Cain was at all a physical coloration? The reference that I’m making is to the original writing in Genesis 4:15 that was written in Hebrew. The term translated as “mark “ into English (from the original Hebrew) could easily and more accurately have been translated as “sign”, “miracle”, ”beacon”, “banner” ,“flag” , “ensign”, or “beacon”. Realizing that God is perfect in His application of Words (“Let there be light”, and there was light, for example), using words as needed to establish purpose and productivity in the Universe, and for man (who God made in His image), let us examine why (purpose) God “put a sign (or miracle or mark) on Cain to determine whether this was physical in its application. The reason for this mark, miracle, or sign according to (Genesis 4:15 is that no one would kill Cain according to the original scriptures. If one would care to do some research instead of seeking to support circular arguments, or the principles of what behavioral scientists call the “groupthink principle”, I invite you to check out these facts. Please note also that the vast majority of Hebrew scholars –not American slaveowners-long before the 1800’s or 1900’s had not come to the conclusion that this was not a physical mark, but leaned more to the understanding that this was a protective sign or miracle that allowed Cain to find mercy while he remained on the earth. Please also note that in the Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon, in defining the word “set”, from the original Hebrew, in definition 1a2a) means to extend (compassion), and isn’t that just what God did, by showing Cain mercy? I know if we honestly answer these questions as Mormons after doing the follow-up research, then we might find out that God’s plan was not to make people dark- skinned(Hamitic) to declare them inferior to white-skinned (Japhetic), or Olive-Skinned (Semitic) people, especially when according to the Holy Scriptures as originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, Chaldean, and Greek state quite the contrary in these two scripture references: Galatians 3:28- There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And in Colossians 3:11
      Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.
      Please note that this in a figurative reference to the Family of Christ as a fully functional healthy body, and not just the light skinned portions of our bodies are declared to be royal and fit for our royal inheritance. Since we’re Kings and Priests before Him who is the King of Kings, then following His example, the whole of His body is Royal, and is therefore the hand, as well as the foot, the ear as well as the eye is afforded the same privileges as the other parts equally. There is one other scripture reference that bears this truth: 1 Peter 1:3-5
      3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

      Let us also note that the aforementioned inheritance was reserved for those who had received Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, and were therefore entitled to the full inheritance just as the others. Not being black myself, but a child of the King, I wonder how anyone could come to the conclusion that “blacks should not be afforded the full blessings of the Gospel” in the first place. Notice one more scripture reference: Ephesians 2:14-15 14For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us;
      15Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; This is in reference to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross where He paid the price for our sins in His own blood, and redeem us from the Curse of the Law, and the hands, power, and works of Satan. He gave us the ability to be one with God by His Saving Grace, and one with each other with no reference to ethnic superiority or inferiority in the least.
      Finally, in 1 John 4:1 the Holy Bible declares that we should put the spirits that men call God inspiring them to the test for validity. 1Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: Check this out- confessing here means agreeing with Him in His Character (since it’s proven fact that only 7% of all communication is verbal, and 93% of effective communication is in action- which would you rather make on your test- a 7, or a 93?) So let’s couple this with what Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Himself said about the Holy Spirit in John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He is only going to speak what the Father has spoken, and what the Son has spoken (since the Son is the Word made flesh – into human form that is). Jesus Christ nor the Father God has ever declared that Blacks should not be afforded the full blessings of the Gospel. Notice this quote from Mormon leadership in direct contradiction to the Holy Bible, the written Word of God:
      “From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel.”
      This was signed by George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKay
      If the Spirit of God was speaking to these men at all, they would have agreed with Christ’s view of all Believers as a whole as a Royal Priesthood, and never have promoted racial inferiority to a group of people who interestingly happened to be owned by those who declared them to be inferior. The Love of Money truly is the root of all evil!
      2 More golden nuggets of truth to prayerfully consider are Galatians 1-6-9 The Apostle Paul writes: 6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is NOT another; but there be some that trouble you, and would Pervert the Gospel of Christ. 8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9As we said before, so say I now again, If any man (this includes Brigham Young, or Joseph Smith, you ,or me) any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
      Deuteronomy 12:32
      What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
      Let us truly follow God and please Him, not adding to what He said, nor taking from what He said, (as though we are God ourselves).
      In His Love,


      • God and interracial marriage: Numbers 12
        I challenge my Mormon brothers and sisters to read this whole chapter in the Bible, then explain to me why we teach that dark skin, or interracial marriage was a curse.
        Numbers 12:1-3, 9-13
        1And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. 3(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
        9And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed. 10And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. 11And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. 12Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb. 13And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee.
        The original mention of the first Prophet mentioned in the Holy Scriptures was Moses, who married an Ethiopian woman, himself being a person of Hebrew descent, and his sister Miriam, and brother Aaron as well were Hebrews. Miriam had critical words to say about their union, especially since she was dark –skinned, (and therefore inferior according to our earlier Mormon doctrines) being from Ethiopia. What happened to Miriam? The Holy Bible states that she was CURSED with WHITE SKIN, as Leprous as snow! Moses had to pray to God that she’d be healed from her condition that caused her skin to be white according to the scriptures., and this happened BECAUSE they spoke against him having married an Ethiopian Woman. Wow! God was in favor of interracial marriage from the start! He defended Moses by striking another prophet-his own sister- with a curse of leprosy that made her have white skin!
        Wow! What a revelation! the Bible states that her skin being turned white was a curse of punishment that Moses had to beg God to remove! Where did we as Mormons come up with something other than what was originally written in the Word of God? The Holy Bible, where the Words of Our Lord Jesus Christ are found declares that we should not be adding some other view to the word of God:
        Deuteronomy 12:32
        What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
        Galatians 1:6-9
        6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is NOT another; but there be some that trouble you, and would Pervert the Gospel of Christ. 8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9As we said before, so say I now again, If any man (this includes Brigham Young, or Joseph Smith, you ,or me) any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

        In His Love,

      • DougH

        I’m afraid to say that your use of Numbers 12 is problematical. First, the white skin that Miriam was cursed with was clearly symptomatic of a skin disease, it has nothing to do with skin color outside of that. The NIV translation reads: “Miriam’s skin was leprous—it became as white as snow.” Second, Aaron’s and Miriam’s complaint about Moses’s wife was an excuse, their real motivation made plain in the next sentence: ‘ “Has the LORD spoken only through Moses?” they asked. “Hasn’t he also spoken through us?” ‘ And God recognized that when He responded by focusing exclusively on Moses’s calling as a prophet – Aaron and Miriam were pushing for more authority than they had been granted, and were slapped down for it. (A bit of a sideline, I’d say Miriam was the primary instigator, since she was the one the public punishment fell on.)

      • Much appreciated responses to my questions. Let us look together at the scripture referred to in Numbers 12:1 And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses BECAUSE of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. The reasoning is without interpretation- IT IS STATED in the Scriptures that we’re instructed not to add to nor take away from (if we’re followers of Christ at all) that the reason is BECAUSE OF THE ETHIOPIAN WOMAN WHOM HE MARRIED.
        Numbers Chapter 12:1-13

        1And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses BECAUSE of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. 2And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it. 3(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.)
        4And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. 5And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. 6And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. 7My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. 8With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? 9And the anger of the LORD was kindled against them; and he departed.
        10And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. 11And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. 12Let her not be as one dead, of whom the flesh is half consumed when he cometh out of his mother’s womb. 13And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. Psychologists, Behavioral Scientists, and many other Mormon professionals will admit that people will mask (as slaveowners did in America) their prejudices by making other issues as their verbal claims to distract from the need to admit their own bigotry. The scriptures say exactly why they spoke as they did. The reasoning for their speech according to the final authority, the Holy Scriptures, the written Word of God (where incidentally it is also stated that the Blood of Christ CLEANSES US FROM ALL SIN 1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from ALL SIN.- in direct opposition to what is taught by Mormons. Neither of our opinions matter (mine or yours) matter about why Miriam and Aaron said what they said. God’s Word says why plainly.
        As far as Moses exclusively being a Prophet in this scenario, that too was false when we view scripture, and allow God’s Word to speak for himself.
        Exodus 15:20 And Miriam THE PROPHETESS, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. -She had authority as a Prophetess. She was cursed WITH A PUNISHMENT OF WHITE SKIN BECAUSE OF HER CRITICISM OF MOSES’ WIFE, AN ETHIOPIAN WOMAN.
        Her punishment or “slapping down”, as you say, was Leprosy, a disease and (not luxury), a manifestation of white skin that was an obvious departure from a previously healthy state when the skin had been a different color in it’s healthy state. Shame on people for saying that what God’s Word says is second to a man’s opinion, when the Scripture says in Romans 3:4 – God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar;.
        Jesus Christ Himself said in Matthew 12:30 “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”
        Jesus Christ paid the price for my sins, and declared his love for me,
        and was resurrected for our salvation. – Him I will follow. His teachings, Being empowered by his Spirit, and walking in His Love, to go to the place He has prepared for me. Anything and anyone who used (or uses) religion to declare a race of people as inferior -especially when they were profiting from them as slaveowners of these same people simply proves that the love of money is the root of all evil as it is written in 1 Timothy 6:10. Naturally when a person is making their living buying & selling other people, they will write whatever document is necessary to justify their actions. This is totally against the teaching of Christ., He said that if we’re not with Him, we’re against Him- (Jesus Christ that is-not Joseph Smith, or Brigham Young- they weren’t resurrected for anybody), Brigham Young was given the choice of making the Utah Territory slave or free in 1852 and he chose slave. He made it an acceptable practice to pay tithing with slaves and prophecied that the Civil War would not end the practice of slavery. False Prophecy! In DIRECT opposition to the Word of God, the teachings of Christ, which always when put to the test are totally consistent with his Authority, and Character. Matthew 28:18 Read the words of Christ -And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth., Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.(Again, this in reference to Jesus Christ alone.) and the Apostle Paul quotes in Phillipians 2:8-11 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
        We also know that a Lord has the final say in the functions of His servants. In Luke 6:46, Jesus Christ says this- And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?
        Truth, and Logic shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that when we do not follow the words of Jesus Christ, we are not followers of Him as Lord at all. One cannot be a member of a reformation of any entity if he doesn’t embrace the essence of the original entity. By operating in Direct Opposition to the Word of God manifest through Jesus Christ, one cannot be a Christian at all reformed or otherwise, whether we hide behind it in the books we’re used to or not, the truth & logic is irrefutable.
        If one is not with Him, they’re against Him. Against is defined as “Anti”. Therefore, “Against” Christ =”Anti” Christ. Sad but true.
        Has any one checked out the findings of Caucasian anthropologists who have researched the genetic code of man, and the DNA structure that allows for only dark-skinned people to be able to reproduce dark, medium, and fair skinned children? I’m sure once you find this truth, you’ll have to question the validity of the “doctrines” altogether about blacks as inferior according to Mormon teachings. (After all, the prophecy about the Civil War wasn’t very accurate, unless there is levels of bigotry underground in the LDS that allows for this type of treatment of blacks as slaves to be still alive and well in the present day). You know that there was no one going to research this truth during the days of Brigham Young & Joseph Smith- there was simply too much money to be made during that time to risk losing- especially when slaves were used as tithes. Also the Holy Bible, the written (Consistent) Word of God, states that Adam and Eve WERE the ancestors of Cain, and if Cain had dark skin, the Genetic code in Human DNA (which has not been altered because of Brigham Young or Joseph Smith, since they too are subject to this Human Trait, being Human as well), would indicate that Adam and Eve were Dark-Skinned, and would have to be in order to be the vessels used to populate the whole world with dark- skinned, medium- skinned, and light- skinned people. If anyone cares to do the scientific research which bears out this Universal Truth, I’m sure you’ll immensely benefit from it, and free yourselves from viewing blacks as inferior all in one fell swoop! If that’s what you really want to do, rather than accept racial prejudices (manifested in the acceptance of Blacks as inferior) as a standard. The reason why you know this is wrong is that if you were the one being discriminated against, you would certainly expect a change. Something about loving my neighbor as myself, I think. I know this: in the story of the Good Samaritan, If Jesus was the neighbor who “laid His life down for His friend”, figuratively by showing him Compassion, and rescuing him in his wounded state, He would have rescued equally a dark-skinned man, a medium-skinned man, or a light -skinned man without reservation. This is the will of God, manifested by the Only Begotten Son Of God (-Which is quite the opposite of an American slaveowner’s actions in a similar situation, whether he says he heard from God or not). He that’s not with Christ is Against (Anti) Christ.

        One With Christ,


      • DougH

        Duane, you need to break up your responses into paragraphs, it’s practically unreadable. But from what I got before I gave up, you are right, the scriptures are clear: Miriam and Aaron made two complaints, and God showed which one was their real issue by ignoring the one about Moses’s wife entirely and focusing his response completely on the one about their feelings that they weren’t getting the respect they were due as prophets. And as I said, the fact that a skin disease turned Miriam’s skin white is irrelevant to the question of Cain’s mark (which of course wasn’t a curse, it was for his own protection.)

      • Michael Johnson

        Here’s some research into why LDS people believe the curse of Cain was a dark skin color and not some type of “don’t touch” sign as mentioned in the Bible-
        “It was well understood by the early elders of the Church that the mark which was placed on Cain and which his posterity inherited was the black skin. The Book of Moses informs us that Cain and his descendants were black” (President Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, p.107)

        Brigham Young said, “Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their father’s rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the Priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we are now entitled to.” So Brigham Young, the Prophet who placed the Priesthood ban on black Africans, stated that the curse was a dark skin, and those with a dark skin who were not to receive the Priesthood were the seed of Cain, or Negroes.

        President John Taylor stated that the seed of Cain (then known as the Negro), were Satan’s representatives on Earth.
        “And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham’s wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God” (Journal of Discourses 22:304)

        Also, “Why is it, in fact, that we should have a devil? Why did the Lord not kill him long ago? Because he could not do without him. He needed the devil and a great many of those who do his bidding to keep men straight, that we may learn to place our dependence on God, and trust in Him, and to observe his laws and keep his commandments. When he destroyed the inhabitants of the antediluvian world, he suffered a descendant of Cain to come through the flood in order that he might be properly represented upon the earth” (President John Taylor, Journal of Discourses 23:336).

        So you have Prophets of God stating that Negroes are cursed with a dark skin because of the actions of their ancestors AND perhaps because they were less valiant in the pre-existence. You also have John Taylor stating Blacks are Satan’s representatives. None of these widely held beliefs among LDS people have been refuted officially. The lifting of the ban does not wipe the statements of former church leaders.

  46. P.S. I’m sorry that I must say this: The term is not problematical- the proper term is problematic. I’m sorry to correct you on this as well, being African-American, I’m supposed to be inferior to you according to Brigham Young. I never intend to insult someone who is supposed to be superior to me.

  47. Hmmm…Well.I am a 57 year old Black man,Southern-born and bred,have traveled extensively,even lived out West for over 15 years(Nevada) where the highest concentration of Mormons can be found(At least in the U.S.),now living in Kansas City,Missouri,and I have never,ever met a Black Mormon.I’m not sure what that means,but there it is.I have attempted to engage in some limited theological dialogue with Mormons,and while the terminology has some similarities,our respective belief systems were too radically different to make said dialogue meaningful(I’m a moderate Evangelical),so…To me our theological barriers make skin-color irrelevant.Pity-Peace in Christ,Laurence

  48. Moshe

    Uhh folks,

    How can the “mark” of Cain be attributed to anyone; let alone black people when everyone was wiped out from the flood except Noah and his immediate family?

    Do people actually read scripture or just make stuff up to suit their own agenda?

    • Diana

      Mormons have scripture in addition to the Bible. In the “Book of Abraham” supposedly translated by Joseph Smith from ancient papyrus, it is mentioned that Ham’s wife, named “Egyptus” was of the cursed lineage and that is how, in Mormon doctrine, the “curse of Cain” survived the flood.

  49. William Clayton

    I find it curious that the church obscures the fact that one of the primary reasons Mormons were despised and persecuted by the residents of Missouri – and eventually violently driven from the state – was over the issue of slavery. In fact, as a life-long Mormon, I did not learn that this was even a factor until long after I had returned from my mission and graduated from BYU.

    (I suppose it is because the church would like to propagate the belief that the anti-Mormon sentiment was stirred purely by animus against the restoration of the gospel. Or, as I’ve heard a thousand times in Sunday school classes, that the Mormons were not liked because they were too clannish. Ridiculous! That explains the abuse and violence? Baloney. Perhaps why the church hides this history is a question that you would like to explore.)

    When Mormons began to settle Missouri in large numbers in 1831, many of them were new converts from England, Scandinavia or – worse – northern states. These settlers were appalled by the revolting southern institution of slavery. As they numbers quickly grew it became apparent to native Missourians that Mormons were becoming a powerful political force that was a threat to their future as slave owners.

    On July 20, 1833, a mob destroyed the press and printing office of The Evening and Morning Star, in Independence Missouri, because its editor, William W. Phelps, had published an editorial explaining how free blacks could live in Missouri under state law. All out war was averted at that time when Mormons agreed to leave Jackson County (which includes Independence) and resettle elsewhere.

    Hostilities, however continued. By 1836, Mormon militias had been disarmed as part of a negotiated truce. Thus unprotected, mob violence against Mormons increased until church members were driven from their homes and relegated to live within a single county – undesirable for farming – in the northern part of the state. Furthermore, they were forbidden from voting “no more than negroes.”

    I suspect that the 1838 “Mormon War” and the forcible expulsion of Mormons from Missouri into Illinois had the interest (if not material support) of many people in other states – from both sides of the Mason-Dixon Line – that were trying to preserve the delicate balance between slave and abolition states in a vain attempt to deter a widespread war between northern and southern states.

    I think it is reasonable to expect that this early experience over slavery in Missouri informed church policies that prohibited black-skinned African descendents in America from receiving the priesthood (dark skinned peoples in other nations of the world, such as Polynesians, were not subject to this). I don’t discount that good ‘ole racism also didn’t play a part. Indeed, I think the policy of separating the church from African blacks fostered racist tendencies as few Utah Mormons were having real life experiences with black folks.

    That said, I am glad to know that my ancestors who came from the British Isles and Sweden to settle Missouri and Illinois with other Mormon converts stood against slavery, even when it cost them dearly.

    • David

      in 1838 their were already blacks who had the priesthood. the Lord revealed it to Joseph for all men. if something is banned that means it went on at sometime like smoking bans in indoor areas. and in D&c 101:79 there is a direct revelation against slavery even footnote helps to say physical slavery. but Brigham in 1852 as Govenor of utah declared utah a slave state the only one in the west, and at the same time starting the priesthood ban

      • So why would anyone go to a school named after Brigham Young, especially given the hideous racist things he said? Isn’t it time to rename the school after someone whose primary claims to fame aren’t racism and polygamy?

      • David

        if the name was changed would it do any good? would it reslove all the hurt of the past, how about tear it down then would all be well? is the answer tear down mount Rushmore also because George Washington and Thonas Jefferson had slaves. I will think about your comment, but there are meny good reasons to be a student at BYU

  50. VLB

    My take on saying past leaders were “wrong” in denying the priesthood and temple attendance to blacks:

    1. If it is wrong to discriminate for any and all reasons, then yes it was wrong.

    2. If it is okay of discriminate for a short while in order to grow, build and strengthen an institution, then it is not wrong.

    The founders of our country, despite the belief that “all men are created equal” chose to allow the continuation of slavery in order to form a union. It was a bitter pill for many, but they trusted that ultimately slavery would die.

    My personal belief is that we, as Mormons and as Americans, as a whole were not ready for blacks to be ecclesiastical leaders over whites. The Lord recognized our limitations, and in the interest of first allowing the church to become established, indulged Brigham Young’s racism in denying the priesthood to blacks. He knew that one day white, American Mormons would be ready to accept their black brothers and sisters fully into the faith. I think the civil rights movement changed a lot of hearts and I am grateful those days are past.

    For those reasons, I don’t think you will find present leaders admitting that past leaders were “wrong”.

    Just like the “common folk”, church leaders don’t always know the “why’s”. Our books and lessons are full of speculation as to the why of polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, the Equal Rights Amendment and Prop 8. Often times, the why’s aren’t clear for generations. Sometimes never…

    Prophets aren’t perfect. They are obedient when they don’t understand. God allows and uses their imperfection while accepting their long-suffering, submissive obedience to His sometimes misunderstood will. Isn’t it nice to know he is likewise merciful with us and our imperfections?

    • VLB–Just so you know, your saying that racism can be ok for awhile, that’s called racism. If racist policies really did help advance the Mormon agenda through 1978, that cold, self-serving calculation only makes the moral problem worse. Your attitude typifies what non-Mormons believe Mormons think and, in fact, there is a genuine problem with the institution. Instead of coming forward and saying, “Yep, our past racism was wrong, sorry about that,” the LDS church has remained collectively stuck where it is, on the fringe of social acceptance. In a society striving towards tolerance, defenders of an intolerant past are left on the edge.

      Though many individual members feel very differently, Mormonism still stands as the religion that is perceived as saying, “Racism allowed us to achieve some things we wanted and our God said it was ok, so we aren’t going to apologize to our victims.” As long as LDS remains officially behind the curve on this issue, you can’t dismiss all anti-Mormon sentiment as thoughtless bigotry. Nor can you expect a senior Mormon leader to be elected president until he has publicly distanced himself from the stubbornly unrepentant church.

    • Diana

      In Church we sing “do what is right let the consequence follow.” I would expect the Church to personify that sentiment. To preach racism because it is expedient goes against all that I was ever taught about morality. To harm innocent others because it is advantageous for me is the worst form of evil. That you effortlessly use that as a defense of Mormonism seems to show a bit of a moral disconnect–a “my church right or wrong” attitude. That’s what we usually associate with the world “cult.”

  51. Dred Scott Case 1846-1857. This was during the time that the Latter-day Saints, under the leadership of Brigham Young, were migrating to Utah. This provides context for the Church position on racism at the time.

  52. Roseanne

    I was glad to read that I am not the only Mormon who has struggled with this issue. I could not continue to unite myself with a religion that was “racist” and so I studied the scriptures and prayed to understand. I realized the “mark” placed on Cain (the color of the skin) was a protection and not a curse, “Lest any finding him should kill him.. . Whosoever slayeth thee, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold,” and that the punishment or “curse” was being banished from the “face of the Lord.”

    Unfortunately, history and society have perpetuated many of the racist attitudes presented, but they are not the Lord’s. The “church” is not racist, but there are people in the church who most definitely are. I do not understand why the Lord denies certain rights or privileges for generations. Why did he allow his people, the Israelites, to suffer in the bonds of slavery to the Egyptians for generations?? I don’t know. Why were only certain family lines allowed to hold the priesthood anciently?? I don’t know. Seems cruel and unfair by today’s standards.

    I do know that everything must happen on the Lord’s time – and it does not mean that he is not leading his church. He could not have restored his gospel before a land was established with freedom of religion. Does that mean that all of the generations before were not worthy of the gospel and its blessings?? No, but the Lord sees from beginning to end and will move his work forward in his time.

    I agree that the timing of the change presents an image of leadership swayed by public opinion. However, isn’t it possible that “society was not ready,” until then? Does that make us imperfect? Yes. Does it make the Lord wrong? No.

    Although I agree that the church should not apologize for following the Lord, I am sorry that many were hurt or burdened by the doctrine. Do I completely understand why it was denied for so long? No. Many of you have mentioned historical facts and quotes I knew nothing about, and in prior years, some of them would have shaken my testimony.

    However, I have learned very personally that I can take everything to the Lord. What I love about the gospel of Jesus Christ is the principle of divine revelation. We are each entitled to the confirmation of the Spirit to receive answers and enlightenment. Sometimes, the answer is that we may have to wait for the answer. Call it a trial of your faith. I have sometimes felt the answer to be, “That is not critical to your personal eternal salvation – let’s focus on that right now.”

    I know the Lord loves all of His children equally and that we are here to learn to do the same. I know that He leads and guides his church through living prophets, who are also human men. I know that “the gospel (shall) roll forth unto the ends of the earth . . . until it has filled the whole earth” and that it will happen on the Lord’s time. And when He comes again, and I stand before Him, do I want to say, “I rejected your gospel because I didn’t completely understand your timing?” Hopefully, none of us will.

  53. Sydni

    I just wanted to share an experience that might change the way you think about this topic. I had a friend that was serving a mission, and one of the apostles that was alive when the policy changed to permit African-Americans to receive the Priesthood came to speak to them. It was an open Q&A, and a question similar to the one being addressed here was asked. That apostle (forgive me, I can’t remember which one) answered by telling the story of when the prophet announced that the Priesthood was going to open to African-Americans. The prophet, his counselors, and the apostles met in the temple, and when the prophet made the announcement there was literally a gush of wind inside the room they met in. He said nobody said anything afterward, but they knew without any doubt that the prophet had received revelation from the Lord. I don’t think it was wrong before; it simply wasn’t time, and I can’t pretend to understand God’s purposes or reasoning behind that, but I also know His plan is perfect.

    I am also uncomfortable with people saying that like this, the time when polygamy was practiced is a time that we should admit we were wrong about. That could not be more untrue. Again, it, at that time, was a commandment from God. The people then were just as uncomfortable with the idea as we were–in fact, many of them resisted it for a long time. Eventually, revelation was given to the prophet to stop the practice, and that is why we don’t practice it today. However, that does not mean that Joseph Smith or anyone else that practiced it. In fact, it was quite the opposite–they were being extremely humble in following a commandment that was quite difficult for them.

    No, the prophets weren’t and aren’t perfect. However, they are called of God and hold keys that give them the right to revelation. When they are speaking as prophets, seers, and revelators, they are speaking for Christ.

  54. Denise

    It is a part of the culture of Mormons. Adults now were raised with this belief. The slaves were freed in the 1860’s and your church still held to it.
    You make it worse when you rationalize that other groups held to the same.

  55. Clara

    I have appreciated all the comments. I just threw my copy of “Mormon Doctrine” in the garbage. Where can the truth be found these days? Church leaders are being called out on a number of major errors in what they have proclaimed as the truth. And they seem to be very off base and in the dark on a variety of issues. No Divine Enlightenment there that I can detect. So can we go with the Holy Bible, The Book of Mormon, and The Pearl of Great Price? and take everything else with a grain of salt? Jesus The Christ has also been one of my rocks of truth. I still believe our church is the true church, but I also believe these are the last days, and we had better watch out for false prophets-and wolves in sheep’s clothing in our church.

  56. John

    Mormongirl.. Why do you look forward to the day when the church will say it was wrong about blacks being the descendants of Cain or of Ham? What makes you think its not true? Because it doesn’t fit your politically correct views as a woman who’s mind is affected by the popular notions of our time? Would you chastize or apologize for God?! Truth is often not popular. God loves blacks same as all others. I’m glad they can hold the priesthood now. We are all God’s children. -AND you completely misled your readers about Miriam being cursed with white skin.. She was cursed with leprosy. Her skin turned white as a result of the disease. Read the passage.

    • Jamie

      Just speaking based on my own speculation (I can obviously not see into MormonGirls mind) I believe she looks forward to the day when the church will say it was wrong about blacks simply BECAUSE “God loves blacks same as all others”. Shouldn’t it have been completely fair for them to hold the Priesthood? Do we not believe as Mormons that no one should be held accountable for another’s sins? In my own opinion, yes, it does seem they were wrong and yes, it would be nice if they would admit it. I’m sure it would bring peace to A LOT of people’s minds.

  57. Enjoy your site. I think the main problem for people such as myself (a non-LDS person whose grandparents on one side were LDS and went back to the 1840s and Mormon Battalion ancestors) is that the fact that a “Revelation” to the 12 sort of puts the imprint of God’s approval on the previous ban. I mean, it is one thing to say “We were wrong on the race issue – big whoop, lots of 19th century folks were…” , and quite another thing to say, “God gave us the right views on Blacks and the reason they were not allowed to the Priesthood, but now He changed his minds about their status as unworthy and they can participate!!”
    One view is not an issue, the other – while making some happy – just reinforces the validity of the prior ban, and sanctions the prior views as being God’s view too – until y’all got the Word that they could not be equal.

    Two very different things, in my view. Anyway, enjoy your perspective and most of all your approach to these often divisive topics.

  58. Sorry…meant “could be equal”.

  59. Hi Joanna

    Despite the 1978 “Revelation” the acts and descriptions that were the foundations for the Mormon racism towards Blacks are still in the scriptures. For all practical purposes there has been no change in the Mormon Church.

  60. lloyd lee

    My niece, a young teenager at the time, moved to Utah where her father was stationed at an air base. When asked by a teenager she had befriended which LDS church she attended, my niece said she was not a mormon. Her new “friend” informed my niece if she wanted to have any friends she had better join the LDS church. Enough of Mormonism for me.

  61. Billie

    I find this blog entry and most of its comments to be the biggest whitewash I have seen in years! I am of African descent and I was baptized in the LDS church as a child. The church was and is very racist, sexist, and practices major exclusivity as well as homophobia.

    These practices are about more than just church doctrine, they have and continue to inflict harm on both brainwashed members and society at large. Personally, I can not remember a more damaging event in my life than to be told, as an 8 year child, that heaven is separated into 3 areas – 1st for whites, 2nd level for Asians and Indians, and 3rd(lowest) level for blacks, This was in an LSD church during a Primary session that I was forced to attend.

    I don’t know what God you worship, by the God I worship loves and includes all people, of all race, gender, and sexual orientation – equally! God is not white or male or heterosexual, God is all things and all people. And God’s main principles are unconditional love, acceptance and mercy.

    Any church that excludes others – to the point of harming or killing them, as the LDs has and continues to do [need I mention the arrogant and abusive posthumous baptisms of Jewish holocaust victims] because they dare to have differences in belief is not a church, its a a society damaging cult that should never be afforded tax exempt status and respect as a religious organization.

    And by the way, since you are a Mormon girl, forget about the priesthood since the LDS church places men above women as a matter of course.

    Get a clue Mormon girl. Being violated comes in many forms…

  62. What is the connection between the battle in the pre-existence and those who lacked valor being marked with dark skin?

  63. W. Anderson

    As late as 2006 while living in Crystal Springs residential development, Sussex County, NJ, USA I was told by two young missionaries of the Mormon Church that blacks were not accepted (in presence tense) in the Mormon faith because of “supposed” descendance from Cain.

    If Mormons believe sincerely in Jesus Christ, and for centuries all translations of the New Testiment indicate quite clearly that Jesus said everyone must love each other if they love him, how then could the Mormon Church not have accepted teaching this until 1978 when a leader “supposedly” received word from God about this dichotamy of belief?

    This woud mean that all the inspiration and direction from God until then supported racism by Mormons. Irrespective of the number of Black American or from any other country that have “joined” the Mormon Church, this position is contracictory to reason and commen sense, and not logical or believable to most people in the world.

    Even in Bermuda where I lived for many years, Mormons there still profess – even very subtly and indirect – a separation of themselves “as Caucasians” from the majority of black population, accoring to several white Bermudians with whom I have been close friends for over fourty years.

  64. Ark I

    Here are some scriptures from the book of Mormon that is the source of this racism.

    1 Nephi 12
    [20] And it came to pass that I beheld, and saw the people of the seed of my brethren that they had overcome my seed; and they went forth in multitudes upon the face of the land.
    [21] And I saw them gathered together in multitudes; and I saw wars and rumors of wars among them; and in wars and rumors of wars I saw many generations pass away.
    [22] And the angel said unto me: Behold these shall dwindle in unbelief.
    [23] And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

    1 Nephi 13
    [10] And it came to pass that I looked and beheld many waters; and they divided the Gentiles from the seed of my brethren.
    [11] And it came to pass that the angel said unto me: Behold the wrath of God is upon the seed of thy brethren.
    [12] And I looked and beheld a man among the Gentiles, who was separated from the seed of my brethren by the many waters; and I beheld the Spirit of God, that it came down and wrought upon the man; and he went forth upon the many waters, even unto the seed of my brethren, who were in the promised land.
    [13] And it came to pass that I beheld the Spirit of God, that it wrought upon other Gentiles; and they went forth out of captivity, upon the many waters.
    [14] And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.
    [15] And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.

    2 Nephi 5
    [20] Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.
    [21] And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
    [22] And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
    [23] And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.
    [24] And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.
    [25] And the Lord God said unto me: They shall be a scourge unto thy seed, to stir them up in remembrance of me; and inasmuch as they will not remember me, and hearken unto my words, they shall scourge them even unto destruction.

    2 Nephi 30
    [6] And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people.

    (white was changed to pure in 1981 to hide this wickedness)

    Jacob 3:8

    [8] O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.

    Alma 3
    [6] And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men.
    [7] And their brethren sought to destroy them, therefore they were cursed; and the Lord God set a mark upon them, yea, upon Laman and Lemuel, and also the sons of Ishmael, and Ishmaelitish women.
    [8] And this was done that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren, that thereby the Lord God might preserve his people, that they might not mix and believe in incorrect traditions which would prove their destruction.
    [9] And it came to pass that whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed.
    [10] Therefore, whosoever suffered himself to be led away by the Lamanites was called under that head, and there was a mark set upon him.

    Mormon 5
    [15] And also that the seed of this people may more fully believe his gospel, which shall go forth unto them from the Gentiles; for this people shall be scattered, and shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people, beyond the description of that which ever hath been amongst us, yea, even that which hath been among the Lamanites, and this because of their unbelief and idolatry.

    Mormon 9
    [6] O then ye unbelieving, turn ye unto the Lord; cry mightily unto the Father in the name of Jesus, that perhaps ye may be found spotless, pure, fair, and white, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, at that great and last day.

    3 Nephi 2
    [14] And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites;
    [15] And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;
    [16] And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year.

    3 Nephi 19
    [24] And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus prayed unto the Father, he came unto his disciples, and behold, they did still continue, without ceasing, to pray unto him; and they did not multiply many words, for it was given unto them what they should pray, and they were filled with desire.
    [25] And it came to pass that Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him; and his countenance did smile upon them, and the light of his countenance did shine upon them, and behold they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness, yea, even there could be nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof.
    [26] And Jesus said unto them: Pray on; nevertheless they did not cease to pray.
    [27] And he turned from them again, and went a little way off and bowed himself to the earth; and he prayed again unto the Father, saying:
    [28] Father, I thank thee that thou hast purified those whom I have chosen, because of their faith, and I pray for them, and also for them who shall believe on their words, that they may be purified in me, through faith on their words, even as they are purified in me.
    [29] Father, I pray not for the world, but for those whom thou hast given me out of the world, because of their faith, that they may be purified in me, that I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one, that I may be glorified in them.
    [30] And when Jesus had spoken these words he came again unto his disciples; and behold they did pray steadfastly, without ceasing, unto him; and he did smile upon them again; and behold they were white, even as Jesus.

    Book of Moses
    7 And the Lord said unto me: Prophesy; and I prophesied, saying: Behold the people of Canaan, which are numerous, shall go forth in battle array against the people of Shum, and shall slay them that they shall utterly be destroyed; and the people of Canaan shall divide themselves in the land, and the land shall be barren and unfruitful, and none other people shall dwell there but the people of Canaan;
    8 For behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat, and the barrenness thereof shall go forth forever; and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.

  65. So, I guest African-Americans can not vote nor any nice smooth dark skin person of other races’s should not vote for Romney and we should all vote for Obama. We can not have people working in the White House that serves the devil and not God in Heaven. I feel Biden is right, the runner for president for republican Mitt Romney would put us blacks in chains and all Mexicans will have to go back over the border to Mexico.

  66. It is interesting that most people do not mention the REAL reason for the 1978 “change of heart”, which had NOTHING to do with religious belief.
    The LDS church was facing the loss of its federal tax exemption if it did not change it’s discriminatory practices. It wasn’t about God, it was about money.

  67. Can someone please direct me to where in the BIBLE, not the Book of Mormon or Doctorines, that this would be proclaimed? (not trying to start a debate, I am just curious, that is all.)

    ‘In the matter of religion they also may choose any faith they please. The Church does not bar them from membership, and we have members of the Negro race in the Church. If a Negro is baptized and remains true and loyal, he will enter the celestial kingdom, but it is not the authorities of the Church who have placed a restriction on him regarding the holding of the priesthood. It was not the Prophet Joseph Smith nor Brigham Young. It was the Lord! If a Negro desires to join the Church, we will give him all the encouragement that we can, but we cannot promise him that he will receive the priesthood.’ Answers to Gospel Questions, Volume 2.

    • ASteve

      Genesis 4:11-16. You could have googled that in less time than it took to type your question. ;-P

    • David

      you are just wrong my friend priesthood ban was not of the Lord, it was of Brigham Young their were already African american’s who held the priesthood. Elijah Able was of African descent and he was even a member of the Quorum of the 70. even his grandchild recieved the priesthood in the 1900’s

  68. Frankophyl

    Ironically perhaps, while the US was carrying out virtual genocide against Native Americans, the Mormons viewed them as a lost Tribe of Israel and were very friendly and protective of them. Racism of all kinds was certainly found in many church denominations, e.g. Catholicism against Jews until Vatican II.

  69. Jon

    I grew up in Utah County, and lived in Orem when Spencer W. Kimball announced Blacks could have the priesthood. I never knew a black at that point in my life. I was surprised by the comments of our Stake President’s son who said it was wrong, and unfair blacks could have the priesthood. None of it made any sense to me then. My parents said it was God’s test to the Church to see who would leave. Then they said that no blacks would join the Church, and if they did that they would not make it to the Celestial Kingdom. All these years later… my parents deny they ever told me that. The Church denys they ever said and did the things they did as well. I guess everyone has a need for history to reflect them in a good light–instead of the light of the truth. I love and forgive my parents. I love and forgive the Church.

  70. David

    While preparing a primary class on publication of the book of Mormon the suggested reading was in D & C 20: 1-16, I decided to read on,I come across verse 36 It reads “and the Lord God hath spoken it;”…I think wow, this really hit me I think about it for a while then I do some research. 413 times it say’s “thus saith the Lord” in the Old Testament, not in the New test. though because the Lord is speaking himself it says instead “verily I say unot you” In D & C sections 76,93,115,100,119,87,113,57,97,64,38, all have to do with the same subject Prophets saying the Lord has spoken I didnt do the Book of Mormon though I’ll let some one else do some of the work on that.
    In Brigham Young’s 1952 speach was all “I” know it ! If no prophet has said it before “I” say it now, and so forth you get the point I dont even want to type out word for word so I’m paraphrasing. Buts it’s all I,I,I, he was speaking of himself, Never once did he say thus saith the Lord.
    2Timothy4:3-4 “3For the time will come when they will not endure soumd doctrine;but after their own lust shall they heap to themselves teachers,having itching ears;4And they shall turn their ears from the truth,and shall be turned unto fables.”
    EZEKIEL 3;27 “But when I speak with thee,I will open thy mouth,and thou shalt say unto them, THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD;He that heareth let him hear;he that forbeareth let him forbear:for they are a rebelious house.”
    DEUTERONOMY 18;22 “When the prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord,if the thing follow not nor come to pass,that is the thing wich the Lord hath not spoken, BUT THE PROPHET HAS SPOKEN IT PRESUMTUOUSLY:thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

  71. W. Anderson

    The real question is NOT “What do Mormons believe about African Americans” or any non Caucasian race, but how can this blog and the Public Relations of the Mormon Church mitigate the terrible and contradictory positions it has taken over it’s history, even to very recently to bring about a more conciliatory image and positive impression of the religious denomination.

    In some cases, the Church is even attempting to change the “facts” of history to more suite their campaign of “re-invention”.

    The tactics used are quite disturbing. In 2012, a group of Bermudians toured parts of Ghana, and was surprised to see so many Mormon Churches there. One aspect of the Church’s operations that stood out quite significantly was that every Mormon Church had only “white” leaders for an “all black” congregation. When several of the Bermudians questioned the Ghanians about this dichotomy, they were told that the Leaders – presumed from USA – taught that blacks were indeed inferior to whites, but would gain salvation and equality only by total loyalty, faith in and obedience to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints over their lifetimes.

    While Mormons in USA can “rationalize” their past in ten thousands ways, their ‘faith’ continues the legacy of deception and contortion of real Chrisitan philosophy elsewhere. For them there are sufficiently naive, ignorant and gullible blacks here and particularly in places like Africa to enhance the Church registers, so that Mormonism can gain respectability by numbers.

  72. Danielle

    Wow.. very many comments here about the topic. I do appreciate AMG’s thorough thoughts on this, and her ending line that takes it home, not to just LDS faithful members but also to the rest of the world’s religions.

    I am not a member of the church, but have teetered a lot with the idea of joining… only to be held back by a few things that I know I would not be able to follow. One is the entire black priesthood ban. It was well explained that the banned occurred because of the US government forcing this stance upon the church that was already in trouble for its polygamous practices. However, many in the church (on high pecking order within the church) continued to practice polygamy during the time of the polygamy ban (as the practice was often asked to be followed by many of its higher ranking males). Till this day, it is not hard to walk into a ward of which its members still have nostalgic feelings about polygamy and embrace it (as it is often talked about as a distinguished badge of honor to have such history in their personal lineage). So this begs the question why did the church hold on so tightly in its pledge to not allow blacks the priesthood in the sense you never heard of any backwoods story where blacks were secretly ordained into the priesthood, as much as you heard of countless backwoods story of polygamy secretly being practiced at the time?

    I have to say to Thurl Bailey “Hush your mouth!” I don’t like his derogatory apologetic agreement. To say blacks were not ready for the priesthood was ignorant. How can one particular race be rejected to such privelege when you have many people, of many races today (even people within the white race) who reject the peculiar faith of Mormonism?

  73. valama meite

    It’s so amazing to see how people have many different approach of this problem.There is something relevant in all of this matter. The first thing i will ask is what was the position of the LDS church when MLK and his fellows were claiming the same rights for blacks as well for whites?
    the second fact is by reading this article, the LDS change the opinion about ordaining blacks as priests, the change is coming from human will, not by a will of God.
    a book who is able to change his convictions to fit it with the human’s ones ( no polygamy) is for me not serious as religion….

    • W. Anderson

      These non honest discussions on the official position of the Mormon Church regarding blacks has bcome tiresome, in that every time there is a new revealation about some unsavory aspect of the Church’s actions and beliefs, there are a thousand excuses forth coming.

      No-one from the Church has responded to my two “verifiable” reports that (a) Mormons in Bermuda are still (at this day) telling whites living there that blacks are indeed (still) inferior and not worthy of positions other than as congregation, and (b) testimony to my daughter and seventeen others visiting Ghana from black Ghanians that the Mormon Church there teaches them that the only way to God and Heaven is continued obedience and subservience to “white” Church leaders.

      Only in the USA presently, Germany in 1930s and 1940s and with cults in several other countries can there be such naivete and ignorance on the part of exploited populace, in this case blacks in accepting beratement for their “God given” ethnicity.
      When will this maddness of deceit and false prophesying end?

      • kris

        Well put…I can’t hear what they have to say, very very hypocritical. Google what Arizona Senator flakes son said recently.. they are supposedly devote Mormons

  74. Pingback: I Think I’m In The Wrong Room

  75. This is such a hard topic to discuss. Just when I think I have a good hold on it you can learn something new that can make you feel completely upside down at the subject.I think because it is so major one way or the other if the restriction was of God, or wether of a fault of man. Out of all that is in the balance of this very priesthood restriction it is very important to know where your faith is,and be sure it’s on the the right place.

  76. kris

    Unfortunately for many in the Church…it’s hard to break away from the “old” way of thinking. The scripture that sates that God “is NOT” partial I guess was over looked. God is by FAR anything hypocritical.. what ever he stated is the case. I am of mixed race my mother black my father white. I have seen alot of racism from both whites and blacks, but alot from the mormons. Senator Flakes son in AZ is a prime example of Mormons behaving badly..tisk tisk. Because of what I’ve seen thruought my life in regards to some Mormon members..I cannot listen to what they have to say. The only religion I open the door to are Jehovahs Witnesses. . They seem to have it together and I appreciate that they have not added to the bible or taken away..like the Mormons with the book of mormons. That’s some SCARY stuff, adding to God’s word, i want nothing to do with it! !

  77. W. Anderson

    I initially posted a general question to Mormon Girl some ten months ago, and am fascinated and bewildered by the myriad non-sensical and factually incorrect answers or more accurately excuses offered by Mormons in support of the Church’s ridiculous racist positions, even when said responses supposedly intimate some wrong doings.

    One perfect example of the idiocy posited is “.. .Because our church believes in following the laws of the land, when the law prohibited us from accepting colored people into our church….”, when nothing could be further from the truth or reality. No one from the Church as refuted this stupid assertion.

    Mormon Girl, nor any other commenter has responded to my indication of verified report of Mormons in Bermuda proselytising to whites there, even until very recently that blacks must earn “equality” and freedom from disdain when they die as a dedicated, subservient Mormon. . Likewise in 2012, Mormons would not allow blacks in any hierarchal position amoung the many Churches in Ghana, Africa, as witnesses by a large group of Canadians and other nationalities while visiting the country.

    Bigotry and deceit have been and will continually to be exposed in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, if not in USA where racial animus is still very much tolerated, but in many other “developed” nations and parts of the world where true “equality” and respect for each persons integrity and humanity are practised in sincere manner.

  78. Truth is truth and honest people always tell

    God made all people the same and also made the light to see the colors of the diferent races in the world that God made, is nice to destroy the work of God by mixing all the race like in a new babel tower….

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