Black people and Mormon priesthood

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From 1849 to 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) prohibited anyone with black ancestry from being ordained to the priesthood. In 1978, the church's First Presidency declared in a statement known as "Official Declaration 2" that the ban had been lifted. Before 1849, a few black men had been ordained to the priesthood under Joseph Smith.

As part of this ban, both black men and women at various times were prohibited from taking part in ceremonies in LDS temples, serving in certain church callings, attending priesthood meetings, speaking at firesides, or receiving a lineage in their patriarchal blessing. Spouses of black people were also prohibited from entering the temple. Over time, the ban was relaxed so that black people could attend priesthood meetings and people with a "questionable lineage" were given the priesthood, such as Fijians, Indigenous Australians, Egyptians, as well as Brazilians and South Africans with an unknown heritage who did not appear to have any black heritage.

During this time, the church taught that the ban came from God and officially gave several race-based explanations for the ban, including a curse on Cain and his descendants, Ham's marriage to Egyptus, a curse on the descendants of Canaan, and that black people were less valiant in their pre-mortal life. They used LDS scriptures to justify their explanations, including the Book of Abraham which teaches that the descendants of Canaan were black and Pharaoh could not have the priesthood because he was a descendant of Canaan. In 1978, it was taught that the ban was lifted as a result of a revelation in which everyone present heard the voice of the Lord, and that the curse was lifted. The 1978 declaration was incorporated into Mormon scripture.

In December 2013, the LDS Church published an essay approved by the First Presidency that disavowed most race-based explanations for the past priesthood restriction and denounced racism. However, the Book of Abraham and the Official Declaration 2 are still considered scripture, leaving many members confused how to reconcile the 2013 statement with the racist teachings in the scriptures.

Racial restriction policy[edit]

Under the racial restrictions that lasted from the presidency of Brigham Young until 1978, persons with any black African ancestry could not hold the priesthood in the LDS Church and could not participate in most temple ordinances, including the endowment and celestial marriage. Black people were permitted to be members of the church, and to participate in some temple ordinances, such as baptism for the dead.[1]

The racial restriction policy was applied to black Africans, persons of black African descent, and any one with mixed race that included any black African ancestry. The policy was not applied to Native Americans, Hispanics, Melanesians, or Polynesians.[citation needed]

Priesthood[edit]

Brigham Young taught that black men would not receive the priesthood until "all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the priesthood and the keys thereof".[2]

The priesthood restriction was particularly limiting, because the LDS Church has a lay priesthood and all worthy male members may receive the priesthood if they choose to do so. Young men are generally admitted to the Aaronic priesthood at age 12, and it is a significant rite of passage.[3]:94–97 Holders of the priesthood officiate at church meetings, perform blessings of healing, and manage church affairs. Excluding black people from the priesthood meant that they could not hold significant church leadership roles or participate in certain spiritual events such as blessing the sick or giving other blessings reserved for priesthood holders.[3]:2, 8

Temple ordinances[edit]

Between 1844 and 1977, most black people were not permitted to participate in ordinances performed in the LDS Church temples, such as the endowment ritual, celestial marriages, and family sealings. These ordinances are considered essential to enter the highest degree of heaven, so this meant that black church members could not enjoy the full privileges enjoyed by other Latter Day Saints during the restriction.[3]:164

Latter Day Saints believe that those marriages sealed in Mormon temples can become celestial marriages that bind the family together forever, whereas those marriages that are not sealed are terminated upon death. As church president, McKay taught that black people "need not worry, as those who receive the testimony of the restored gospel may have their family ties protected and other blessings made secure, for in the justice of the Lord they will possess all the blessings to which they are entitled in the eternal plan of Salvation and Exaltation."[4]

Brigham Young taught, "When the ordinances are carried out in the temples that will be erected, [children] will be sealed to their [parents], and those who have slept, clear up to Father Adam. This will have to be done ... until we shall form a perfect chain from Father Adam down to the closing up scene."[5]

An important exception to the temple ban for black members was that (except for the complete temple ban period from the mid-1960s until the early 70s under McKay)[6]:119 black members had been allowed a limited use recommend to act as proxies in baptisms for the dead.[7]:95[3]:164[8] Additionally, black children who were legally adopted by white parents could be sealed to their parents.[7]:94

Church service[edit]

Under the priesthood ban, black men and women could not hold any significant church callings, be leaders or serve missions.[9][10] The LDS Church relies heavily on its unpaid members to fulfill leadership positions and serve in church callings.[11] For men, the priesthood is required for many leadership and church callings and is given to virtually every Mormon male at age 12. For both men and women, a temple endowment is required or encouraged for other callings, such as missionary service.[12] This limited the ability of black members to serve in various callings. When the priesthood was given to the blacks under Joseph Smith, they were also able to serve in a variety of callings. For example, Elijah Abel served a mission and was called to be a seventy.[13] When Brigham Young instituted the priesthood restriction, black members were barred from many leadership and service positions,[14] and, initially, from attending priesthood meetings.[15] In 1952, President McKay banned black people from speaking at priesthood meetings and firesides.[3]:67

Through the years, some exceptions were made to allow black members to serve without the priesthood. For example, Samuel Chamber was appointed to be an assistant deacon in 1873. He had the same duties as a deacon, but without being given the priesthood.[16] In 1945, Abner and Martha Howell were called to serve a mission to establish segregated congregations in the southern states. Howell was given a letter signed by LeGrand Richards that allowed him to speak even though blacks were not permitted to attend services there. He was later given a card designating him as an "Honorary High Priest".[17][18][19]

By the 1960s, black men could serve in leadership roles in auxiliary organizations and attend priesthood meetings, including serving in the Sunday School or Young Men's presidency.[7] In the 1960s, church president David O McKay began considering opening up a mission in Nigeria. After several difficulties with visas, LeMar Williams was in Nigeria preparing to open the mission. It was decided that only the auxiliaries would be setup in Nigeria, which could be operated without the priesthood.[7]:91 Nigerian men would be allowed to pass the sacrament, but white missionaries would need to bless it.[20]:23 However, the program was canceled after several members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles objected.[7]:93 In 1971, the Genesis Group was formed as an auxiliary to the church for black members. Black members were able to fill positions in the Relief Society, Young Men's and Young Women's Presidency. Many Bankhead served as the first Relief Society President.[21]

Since the 1978 revelation on the priesthood, black people have been able to serve in church callings and fulfill leadership positions.[14] However, service at general church levels has been limited. While there have been several black members of the Quorums of the Seventy and auxiliary general boards,[22][23][24][25][26][27] there has not been a member of the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, or the general auxiliary presidencies (Relief Society, Young Women, Primary, Young Men, or Sunday School) that is black.

Patriarchal blessings[edit]

In the LDS church, a patriarch gives patriarchal blessings to members to help them know their strengths and weaknesses and what to expect in their future life. The blessings also tell members which tribe of Israel they are descended from. Members who are not literally descended from the tribes are adopted into a tribe, usually Ephraim. In the early 19th and 20th centuries, members were more likely to believe they were literally descended from a certain tribe.[28]

In 1934, the Presiding Patriarch James H. Wallis stated that black people could not receive a patriarchal blessing because of the priesthood ban, but that they could receive a blessing without a lineage."[29] In Brazil, this was interpreted to mean that if a patriarch pronounced a lineage, then the member was not a descendant of Cain and was therefore eligible for the priesthood, despite physical or genealogical evidence of African ancestry.[30] Actual patriarchs did not strictly adhere to Wallis's statement. After the 1978 revelation, patriarchs sometimes declared lineage in patriarchal blessings for black members, but sometimes they did not declare a lineage. Some black members have asked for and received new patriarchal blessings including a lineage.[31]

People who married black people[edit]

The first time a church leader taught that a non-black person was cursed for having married a black person was on February 6, 1835. An assistant president of the church, W. W. Phelps, wrote a letter theorizing that Ham's wife was a descendant of Cain and that Ham himself was cursed for "marrying a black wife".[32][33][34]:59[35] President Young expanded this idea, teaching that non-blacks who had children with a black person would themselves be cursed to the priesthood, and that the law of the Lord required the couple and their children to be killed.[3]:37,42–43 [36][37][38][39][3]:37,39[40] President George Q. Cannon of the First Presidency reaffirmed this was the law of the Lord and explained it was to keep the descendants of Cain from getting the priesthood.[33]:203[34]:78

Several white members were denied access to temple ceremonies after they had married a black person. One white woman was denied a temple sealing to her white husband because she had previously married a black man, even though she had divorced him.[34]:37 George Q. Cannon argued that allowing her access to the temple would not be fair to her two daughters, which she had with her black husband.[33]:78[34]:37 Another white man was denied the priesthood because he had married a black woman.[34]:79 In 1966, a white woman who had received her endowments was banned by local leaders from going to the temple and was told her endowments were invalid because she had since married a black man. Church president McKay agreed with the ban on going to the temple, but said her endowments were still valid.[41]

After the 1978 revelation on the priesthood, husbands of black women could receive the priesthood and spouses of black people could perform temple rituals.

Implementation[edit]

Several black men received the priesthood after the racial restriction policy was put in place, including Elijah Abel's son Enoch Abel, who was ordained an elder on November 10, 1900.[42]:84 Enoch's son and Elijah Abel's grandson—who was also named Elijah Abel—received the Aaronic priesthood and was ordained to the office of priest on July 5, 1934. The younger Elijah Abel also received the Melchizedek priesthood and was ordained to the office of elder on September 29, 1935.[43]:30 One commentator has pointed out that these incidents illustrate the "ambiguities, contradictions, and paradoxes" of the issue during the twentieth century.[43]

As the church began expanding in areas of the world that were not so racially segregated, the church began having problems distinguishing who had black ancestry. In Brazil, which had a high proportion of people with mixed ancestry, LDS officials advised missionaries in the 1920s to avoid teaching people who appeared to have black ancestry, advising them to look for relatives of the investigators if they were not sure about their racial heritage. Despite the precautions, by the 1940s and 1950s some people with African ancestry had unwittingly been given the priesthood, which prompted an emphasis on missionaries scrutinizing people's appearances for hints of black ancestry and an order to avoid teaching those who did not meet the "one-drop rule" criteria. Additionally, starting in the 70s "lineage lessons" were added to determine that interested persons didn't have any Sub-Saharan African ancestry.[3]:102[44] Occasionally, members discovered they had African ancestry after being given the priesthood. In some cases, priesthood authority over-ruled genealogy research. For example, the First Presidency reinstated the president of the Ipiranga, Brazil branch, stating he was not of the lineage of Cain, despite genealogy research showing black ancestry. In other cases, members with black ancestry received patriarchal blessings giving lineage through one of the tribes of Israel, which allowed priesthood ordination.[30]

In South Africa, some mission presidents had not observed the ban, and ordained members with mixed blood. The First Presidency called Evan Wright and instructed him that no one could receive the priesthood unless they were able to trace their genealogy outside of Africa, even if they had no appearance of African descent. Wright called several missionaries full-time to assist in the genealogy work, but the lack of men who could fulfill the requirement proved difficult. In 1954, David O. McKay changed the policy and allowed men to be ordained who did not appear to have black heritage.[7]

During his time as church president in the 1950s, McKay made some decisions allowing peoples of "questionable lineage" to receive the priesthood when they previously would not have been allowed. This was one of the first decisions made to broaden access to the priesthood and relax certain aspects of the restrictions imposed because of the priesthood policies of the time.[45] For example, Fijians were not given the priesthood until 1955 when McKay visited Fiji and told the president of the Samoa Mission that proselyting efforts with the Fijians could begin. Four years later, McKay informed his counselors that there was no evidence that the peoples of Fiji were of African descent.[7]

In 1964, the priesthood was extended to Indigenous Australians and in 1966 to Egyptians.[7]:94

Reasoning for the priesthood ban[edit]

Church leadership officially cited various reasons for the doctrinal ban,[3]:66 but later leaders have since repudiated them.[3]:132–135[46][47][48][49][50]

The curse of Cain and his descendants[edit]

Some church members, including certain LDS leaders, used the curse of Cain to justify the racial restriction policy. In the book of Genesis found in the Bible,[51] God puts a mark on Cain after he kills his brother Abel. Brigham Young taught that Cain killed Abel to get advantage over him, so God cursed Cain's descendants to not receive the priesthood until all the rest of Adam's descendants received the priesthood. During Young's presidency this was the explanation and was consistently taught by all leaders. It was only after Brigham Young died that the Church began teaching that reason for the ban was unknown.[34]

Bruce R. McConkie, who was a seventy in the at the time who later served as an apostle, wrote in his 1966 edition of Mormon Doctrine that those who were sent to Earth through the lineage of Cain were those who had been less valiant in the premortal life. He also said that because Ham married Egyptus and because she was a descendant of Cain, that he was able to preserve the "negro lineage." The denial of the priesthood to certain men was then mentioned and he explained that in this life, black people would not hold the priesthood, but that those blessings would be available to them in the next life.[52] In 1881, church president John Taylor expounded on the belief that the curse placed on Ham (who was of the lineage of Cain), was continued because Ham's wife was also of that "seed."[53] In 1978, McConkie said the curse of Cain was no longer in effect.[3]:117

The curse of Cain is still taught in Old Testament student manual for LDS institute classes.[54]

Curse of Ham and Book of Abraham[edit]

According to the Bible, Ham discovered his father Noah drunk and naked in his tent. Because of this, Noah cursed Ham's son, Canaan to be "servants of servants".[55][33]:125 Although the scriptures do not mention anything about skin color, many Americans during the 19th century believed that Ham had married a descendant of Cain, who was black, and that black people carried the curse of Ham.[33]:125 W. W. Phelps, a counselor in the presidency of the church, taught that Ham had married a black wife.[3]

The Book of Abraham, considered scripture in the LDS movement, denotes that an Egyptian king by the name of Pharoah, was a descendant of Ham and the Canaanites,[56] who were black, (Moses 7:8) that Noah had cursed his lineage so they did not have the right to the priesthood,[57] and that all Egyptians descended from him.[58] It was later considered scripture by the LDS Church. This passage is the only one found in any Mormon scripture that bars a particular lineage of people from holding the priesthood.[59] While both Joseph Smith[33]:126 and Brigham Young referred to the curse of Ham as a justification for slavery,[60] neither used the curse of Ham or the Book of Abraham to justify the priesthood ban. It wasn't until 1900 that George Q. Cannon, a member of the First Presidency, began using the story of Pharaoh as a scriptural basis for the ban.[33]:205 In 1912, the First Presidency responded to an inquiry about the priesthood ban by using the story of Pharaoh.[61] By the early 1900s, it became the foundation of church policy in regards to the priesthood ban.[33]:205

In a 1908 Liahona article for missionaries, an anonymous but church-sanctioned author reviewed the scriptures about blackness in the Pearl of Great Price. The author postulated that Ham married a descendant of Cain. Therefore Canaan received two curses, one from Noah, and one from being a descendant of Cain.[3]:55 The article states that Canaan was the "sole ancestor of the Negro race" and explicitly linked his curse to be "servant of servants" to black priesthood denial.[3]:55 To support this idea, the article also discussed how Pharaoh, a descendant of Canaan according to LDS scripture, could not have the priesthood, because Noah "cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood".[3]:58[62]

In 1978, when the church ended the ban on the priesthood, Bruce R. McConkie taught that the seed of Ham, Canaan, Egyptus and Pharaoh were no longer under the ancient curse.[3]:117 The 2002 Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual points to Abraham 1:21-27 as the reasoning behind the not giving black people the priesthood until 1978.[63]

Author David Persuitte has pointed out that it was commonplace in the 19th century for theologians, including Joseph Smith, to believe that the curse of Cain was exhibited by black skin, and that this genetic trait had descended through Noah's son Ham, who was understood to have married a black wife.[32] Mormon historian Claudia Bushman also identifies doctrinal explanations for the exclusion of blacks, with one justification originating in papyrus rolls translated by Joseph Smith as the Book of Abraham, a passage of which links ancient Egyptian government to the cursed Ham through Pharaoh, Ham's grandson, who was "of that lineage by which he could not have the right of priesthood".[64]:93

Consequence of premortal existence[edit]

Another reason for racial restriction advanced by Church leadership was called "Mormon karma" by historian Colin Kidd, and refers to the idea that skin color is perceived as evidence of righteousness (or lack thereof) in the premortal existence.[65]:236 The doctrine of premortal existence is described in the Encyclopedia of Mormonism in this way: "to Latter-day Saints premortal life is characterized by individuality, agency, intelligence, and opportunity for eternal progression. It is a central doctrine of the theology of the Church and provides understanding to the age-old question 'Whence cometh man?'"[66] This idea is based on the opinions of several prominent church leaders, including long-time apostle and later Church president Joseph Fielding Smith, who held the view that the premortal life had been a kind of testing ground for the assignment of God's spiritual children to favored or disfavored mortal lineages.[65]:236–237 Bushman has also noted Smith's long-time teachings that in a premortal war in heaven, blacks were considered to have been those spirits who did not fight as valiantly against Satan and who, as a result, received a lesser earthly stature, with such restrictions as being disqualified from holding the priesthood.[64]:93 According to religious historian Craig Prentiss,[67] the appeal to premortal existence was confirmed as doctrine through statements of the LDS First Presidency in 1949[68] and 1969.[69]

Unknown reasons[edit]

In 1969, the First Presidency said blacks did not have the priesthood "for reasons which we believe are known to God".[70] When the ban was lifted in 1978, there was no official explanation for the racist language in Mormon scripture or whether the curse had been removed or had never existed.[3]:112 However, some church leaders made some statements. McConkie said that curse had been lifted and the previous statements made by himself and other church leaders on the subject were to be forgotten and that the focus of the gospel should be on current revelations.[71][3]:117 President Gordon B. Hinckley said the ban was not wrong, but there was a reason for it[72] and that the revelation speaks for itself.[73] Elder Oaks said it wasn't the pattern of the Lord to give reasons.[74][3]:134

In 2003, black LDS Church member Darron Smith wrote in Sunstone that many members held onto previous explanations about the ban because church leadership had not addressed the ban's origins.[75]

Protection from Hell[edit]

BYU Religious Studies professor Randy Bott has suggested that God denied the priesthood to black men in order to protect them from the lowest rung of hell, since one of few damnable sins is to abuse the exercise of the priesthood. Bott compared the priesthood ban to a parent denying young children the keys to the family car, stating: "You couldn’t fall off the top of the ladder, because you weren’t on the top of the ladder. So, in reality the blacks not having the priesthood was the greatest blessing God could give them."[76]

Human error[edit]

Referring to the priesthood ban, apostle Spencer W. Kimball said in 1963, "The doctrine or policy has not varied in my memory. I know it could. I know the Lord could change his policy and release the ban and forgive the possible error which brought about the deprivation."[77]

In 2013, the LDS Church put out an essay giving background on the racist environment in which the ban was formed and said the ban was based more on racism than revelation.[78][79]

Teachings about the priesthood ban[edit]

Divinity of ban[edit]

Church leaders taught for decades that the priesthood ordination and temple ordinance ban was commanded by God. Brigham Young taught it was a "true eternal principle the Lord Almighty has ordained."[3]:37 In 1949 the First Presidency under George Smith officially stated that it was "not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord".[33]:222–223[80][34]:221 A second First Presidency statement (this time under McKay) in 1969 reemphasized that this "seeming discrimination by the Church towards the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God".[81][33]:223[34]:222 As president of the church, Kimball also emphasized in a 1973 press conference that the ban was "not my policy or the Church’s policy. It is the policy of the Lord who has established it."[82]

When it was announced in the 1978 that the ban was reversed, President Kimball wrote a letter saying that the Lord revealed "that the long-promised day has come". This was latter canonized in LDS scripture as Official Declaration 2.[83] McConkie said that the voice of God had said "that the time had now come", and that the entire First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve heard the same voice, and knew that the ancient curse had been lifted.[3]:117 In 1995, black church member A. David Jackson asked church leaders to issue a declaration repudiating that the ban was a direct commandment from the Lord. At first, the Church refused.[73]

In 2012, the Church changed the preface to Official Declaration 2 to include these sentences regarding the priesthood ban: "Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice".[84]:273 However, it did not specifically say what parts of the ban came from God and which did not.[85]:380 In 2013, the Church published an essay which said that the ban had its roots more in racism than revelation.[79][78]

Duration of ban[edit]

Brigham Young taught that black men would not receive the priesthood until "all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the priesthood and the keys thereof." But that meant that those who had been denied the priesthood would one day receive the priesthood and its related blessings.[2] At another time, he stated "that the time [would] come when they [would] have the privilege of all we have the privilege of and more."[86]

In 1963, while discussing when the ban would be lifted, Joseph Fielding Smith told a reporter that "such a change can come about only through divine revelation, and no one can predict when a divine revelation will occur."[87]

Mormon apologetics author and lecturer John Lewis Lund wrote in 1967, "Brigham Young revealed that the negro will not receive the priesthood until a great while after the second advent of Jesus Christ, whose coming will usher in a millennium of peace."[88]

When the policy was reversed in 1978, church president Kimball referred to it as "the long-promised day". Critics say that lifting the restriction before the resurrection is contrary to Young's 1854 and 1859 statements,[89] while church apologists say that Brigham Young's statements meant that Africans could receive the priesthood after all other races were eligible to receive it, not all other individuals.

Start of the ban[edit]

Under John Taylor's presidency (1880–87), there was confusion in the church regarding the origin of the racial policy. Zebedee Coltrin and Abraham O. Smoot provided conflicting testimony of whether or not Joseph Smith stated that Abel was allowed hold the priesthood, though the veracity of their testimony is doubted.[90]:38[42]:6 From this point on, many statements on the priesthood restriction were attributed to Joseph Smith; all such statements had actually been made by Brigham Young.[91] The Church taught that the ban originated with Joseph Smith, with the First Presidency declaring it so in 1947.[92]

In 2013, the Church issued a statement saying the ban seemed to have started with Brigham Young instead of Joseph Smith.[79]

History[edit]

Before 1847[edit]

During the time Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint Movement (1830-1844), was the leader, there were no official racial policies established by what is now known as the LDS Church. Black people were welcomed as members of the church and as evidence of the lack of official policy, in 1836, two black men were ordained priests: Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis. Before 1847 a handful of other black men were ordained to the priesthood.[42]:99 That same year, Abel went on to become a member of the Quorum of the Seventy and received a patriarchal blessing.[42]:49 Although there was no official policy, there is evidence that some black men were denied the priesthood during the Missouri period in order to appease slave owners in the area.[3]:94

Some researchers have suggested that the actions of Joseph T. Ball and William McCary led to Young's decision to adopt the priesthood ban in the LDS Church.[3]:30–31

Joseph T. Ball[edit]

A native of Massachusetts, Joseph T. Ball was good friends with William Smith (Joseph Smith's younger brother). Because of his close connection to Smith, he began to engage in polygamy without the approval of the Brigham Young. Although he continued to be involved in the practice of polygamy, he served as the branch president in Boston for a time, making him the first black person to preside over an LDS congregation. In August 1845, Ball was separated from the church because Young found out about his previous involvement with polygamy.[3]:30

William McCary[edit]

Because of events that transpired in both Cincinnati, Ohio and Winter Quarters, Nebraska, McCary lost the favor of Young. McCary was a half-African American convert who, after his baptism and ordination to the priesthood, began to claim to be a prophet and the possessor of other supernatural gifts.[93] At one point, he also claimed to be Adam of the Bible.[94]:135 He was excommunicated for apostasy in March 1847 and expelled from Winter Quarters.[95] After his excommunication, McCary began attracting Latter Day Saint followers and instituted plural marriage among his group, and he had himself sealed to several white wives.[93][95]

McCary's behavior angered many of the Latter Day Saints in Winter Quarters. Researchers have stated that his marriages to his white wives most likely had some influence on Young's decision to institute the priesthood and temple bans on black people.[93][95][96] A statement from Young to McCary in March 1847 suggested that race had nothing to do with priesthood eligibility,[3]:36 but the earliest known statement about the priesthood restriction from any Mormon leader (including the implication that skin color might be relevant) was made by apostle Parley P. Pratt, a month after McCary was expelled from Winter Quarters.[95] Speaking of McCary, Pratt stated that because he was a descendant of Ham, he was cursed with regards to the priesthood.[3]:35

1847–1880[edit]

In 1847, Brigham Young became the second president of the LDS Church. Like many during that time, Young promoted the discrimination of black people.[3]:1 On February 13, 1849, an early statement by Young about the history of the priesthood ban in the LDS Church was made. The statement was given in response to Lorenzo Snow's inquiry about how redemption would come about with regards to black people. Young responded by mentioning the Curse of Cain and said that a similar hierarchy of power that was put in place on Earth because of the curse would remain in the afterlife.[97] Young would make many similar remarks during the rest of his presidency.[98][99]

1880–1950[edit]

Elijah Abel: black man who was given the priesthood during the times of Joseph Smith

Under John Taylor's presidency (1880–87), there was confusion in the church regarding the origin of the racial policy. Elijah Abel was living proof that an African American was ordained to the priesthood in the days of Joseph Smith.[42]:84 Apostle Joseph F. Smith argued that Abel's priesthood had been declared null and void by Joseph Smith, though this seems to conflict with Joseph F. Smith's teachings that the priesthood could not be removed from any man without removing that man from the church.[91] Zebedee Coltrin and Abraham O. Smoot provided conflicting testimony of whether or not Joseph Smith stated that Abel was allowed hold the priesthood, though the veracity of their testimony is doubted.[100]:38[42]:6 From this point on, many statements on the priesthood restriction were attributed to Joseph Smith; all such statements had actually been made by Brigham Young.[91]

In 1947 the First Presidency, consisting of George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKay, in a private communication with Dr. Lowry Nelson,[101] where Dr. Nelson questioned whether "there is no irrevocable church doctrine on this subject [of blacks and the priesthood]" the First Presidency stated:[92]

The basic element of your ideas and concepts seems to be that all God's children stand in equal positions before Him in all things.

Your knowledge of the Gospel will indicate to you that this is contrary to the very fundamentals of God's dealings with Israel dating from the time of His promise to Abraham regarding Abraham's seed and their position vis-a~vis God Himself. Indeed, some of God's children were assigned to superior positions before the world was formed. We are aware that some Higher Critics do not accept this, but the Church does.

Your position seems to lose sight of the revelations of the Lord touching the preexistence of our spirits, the rebellion in heaven, and the doctrines that our birth into this life and the advantages under which we may be born, have a relationship in the life heretofore.

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.

Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people...

Later, reflecting on this exchange with the First Presidency, Dr. Nelson would say, "I believe I was the first Mormon to protest the church policy with regard to blacks in a letter to the First Presidency of the church in 1947"[102] and in 1953 published the article "Mormons and the Negro",[103] saying that "This was the first [time] the non-Mormon world knew of this policy, and it was widely publicized through the Negro press."[102]

In 1949, the First Presidency under the direction of George Albert Smith made a declaration which included the statement that the priesthood restriction was divinely commanded and not a matter of church policy.[104] The declaration goes on to state that the conditions in which people are born on Earth are affected by their conduct in the premortal existence, although the details of the principle are said not to be known. It then says that the privilege of mortal existence is so great that spirits were willing to come to earth even though they would not be able to possess the priesthood.[101] The mentioning of the curse of Cain began during this time period and took the place of previous justifications for the priesthood ban. The older arguments included the idea that black people were not as valiant in the pre-mortal life and that they had "inherent inferiority."[3]:100

1951–1977[edit]

In 1954, church president David O. McKay taught: "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."[50]

In 1969, church apostle Harold B. Lee and member of the First Presidency Alvin R. Dyer blocked the LDS Church from rescinding the racial restriction policy.[105][3]:80 The idea that a unanimous decision through revelation was needed to change the policy was and is a widespread belief among LDS church leaders. Although many desired a change in the racial policy, they continued waiting for revelation concerning the matter.[106]:31

David O. McKay told several people about his struggles with the policy, including Mildred Calderwood McKay, Marion D. Hanks, Lola Gygi Timmins, and Richard Jackson.[107] Jackson quotes McKay as saying: "I'm badgered constantly about giving the priesthood to the Negro. I've inquired of the Lord repeatedly. The last time I did it was late last night. I was told, with no discussion, not to bring the subject up with the Lord again; that the time will come, but it will not be my time, and to leave the subject alone."[108]

On December 15, 1969, members of the First Presidency, Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner (President McKay was 96 years old and incapacitated at that time, passing away the next month), released a First Presidency Statement, "Letter of First Presidency Clarifies Church's Position on the Negro" stating[70]

From the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding presidents of the Church have taught that Negroes, while spirit children of a common Father, and the progeny of our earthly parents Adam and Eve, were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man.

Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, "The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God….

Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man’s mortal existence, extending back to man’s pre-existent state.

In her book, Contemporary Mormonism, Claudia Bushman describes the pain that was caused by the racial policy of the church. This struggle was felt both to black worshipers, who sometimes found themselves segregated and ostracized, and white members who were embarrassed by the exclusionary practices and who occasionally apostatized over the issue.[64]:94–95

In 1971, three African-American Mormon men petitioned then–church president Joseph Fielding Smith to consider ways to keep black families involved in the church and also re-activate the descendants of black pioneers.[109] As a result, Smith directed three apostles to meet with the men on a weekly basis until, on October 19, 1971, an organization called the Genesis Group was established as an auxiliary unit of LDS Church to meet the needs of black Mormons.[110] The first president of the Genesis Group was Ruffin Bridgeforth, who also became the first black Latter Day Saint to be ordained a high priest after the priesthood ban was lifted later in the decade.[111]

Harold B. Lee, president of the church, stated in 1972: "For those who don't believe in modern revelation there is no adequate explanation. Those who do understand revelation stand by and wait until the Lord speaks .... It's only a matter of time before the black achieves full status in the Church. We must believe in the justice of God. The black will achieve full status, we're just waiting for that time."[112]

Although not refuting his belief that the policy came from the Lord, apostle Spencer W. Kimball acknowledged in 1963 that it could have been brought about through an error on man's part. In 1963, he said, "The doctrine or policy has not varied in my memory. I know it could. I know the Lord could change his policy and release the ban and forgive the possible error which brought about the deprivation."[77]

Racial policy ends in 1978[edit]

LDS temple in São Paulo, Brazil

In the 1970s, LDS Church president Spencer W. Kimball took General Conference on the road, holding area and regional conferences all over the world. He also announced many new temples to be built both in the United States and abroad, including one temple in São Paulo, Brazil. The problem of determining priesthood eligibility in Brazil was thought to be nearly impossible due to the mixing of the races in that country. When the temple was announced, church leaders realized the difficulty of restricting persons with African descent from attending the temple in Brazil.[113][3]:102

On June 8, 1978, the First Presidency released to the press an official declaration, now a part of Doctrine and Covenants, which contained the following statement:

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 follows there from, 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.[114]

According to first-person accounts, after much discussion among the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on this matter, they engaged the Lord in prayer. According to the writing of Bruce R. McConkie, "It was during this prayer that the revelation came. The Spirit of the Lord rested upon us all; we felt something akin to what happened on the day of Pentecost and at the Kirtland Temple. From the midst of eternity, the voice of God, conveyed by the power of the Spirit, spoke to his prophet. The message was that the time had now come to offer the fullness of the everlasting gospel, including celestial marriage, and the priesthood, and the blessings of the temple, to all men, without reference to race or color, solely on the basis of personal worthiness. And we all heard the same voice, received the same message, and became personal witnesses that the word received was the mind and will and voice of the Lord."[115][3]:116 Immediately after the receipt of this new revelation, an official announcement of the revelation was prepared, and sent out to all of the various leaders of the Church. It was then read to, approved by, and accepted as the word and will of the Lord, by a General Conference of the Church in October 1978. Succeeding editions of the Doctrine and Covenants were printed with this announcement canonized and entitled "Official Declaration 2".

Joseph Freeman, Jr.: first black man to receive priesthood after the ban was lifted in 1978

Apostle Gordon B. Hinckley (a participant in the meetings to reverse the ban), in a churchwide fireside said, "Not one of us who was present on that occasion was ever quite the same after that. Nor has the Church been quite the same. All of us knew that the time had come for a change and that the decision had come from the heavens. The answer was clear. There was perfect unity among us in our experience and in our understanding."[116]:64[117]

On June 11, 1978, three days after the announcement of the revelation, Joseph Freeman, a member of the church since 1973, became the first black man to be ordained to the office of elder in the Melchizedek priesthood since the ban was lifted, while several others were ordained into the Aaronic priesthood that same day.[118]

Later in 1978, McConkie called to repentance all those who questioned the revelations received by the prophet with regards to the priesthood ban. He went on to clarify that previous statements made by himself and other church leaders on the subject were to be forgotten and that the focus of the gospel should be on current revelations.[71][3]:117

Critics of the LDS Church state that the church's 1978 reversal of the racial restriction policy was not divinely inspired as the church claimed, but simply a matter of political convenience,[119] as the reversal of policy occurred as the church began to expand outside the United States into countries such as Brazil. These countries have ethnically mixed populations, and the policy reversal was announced just a few months before the church opened its new temple in São Paulo, Brazil.[120]

1978 to 2013[edit]

Since the Revelation on the Priesthood in 1978, the church has made no distinctions in policy for black people, but it remains an issue for many black members of the church. Alvin Jackson, a black bishop in the LDS Church, puts his focus on "moving forward rather than looking back."[121] In an interview with Mormon Century, Jason Smith expresses his viewpoint that the membership of the church was not ready for black people to have the priesthood in the early years of the church, because of prejudice and slavery. He draws analogies to the Bible where only the Israelites have the gospel.[122]

In a 1997 TV interview, President Gordon B. Hinckley was asked whether the church was wrong to deny the priesthood. He responded, "No, I don't think it was wrong. It, things, various things happened in different periods. There's a reason for them."[72]

In April 2006 in a general conference talk President Gordon B. Hinckley, the president of the LDS Church, had called racism "ugly" and a sin that any guilty of needed to repent from.[123]

In 1995, black church member A. David Jackson asked church leaders to issue a declaration repudiating past doctrines that denied various privileges to black people. In particular, Jackson asked the church to disavow the 1949 "Negro Question" declaration from the church Presidency which stated that "the attitude of the church with reference to negroes ... is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord ... to the effect that negroes ... are not entitled to the priesthood."[73]

The church leadership did not issue a repudiation, and so in 1997 Jackson, aided by other church members including Armand Mauss, sent a second request to church leaders, which stated that white Mormons felt that the 1978 revelation resolved everything, but that black Mormons react differently when they learn the details. He said that many black Mormons become discouraged and leave the church or become inactive. "When they find out about this, they exit... You end up with the passive African Americans in the church."[124]

Other black church members think giving an apology would be a "detriment" to church work and a catalyst to further racial misunderstanding. African-American church member Bryan E. Powell says, "There is no pleasure in old news, and this news is old." Gladys Newkirk agrees, stating, "I've never experienced any problems in this church. I don't need an apology. . . . We're the result of an apology."[125] The large majority of black Mormons say they are willing to look beyond the previous teachings and remain with the church in part because of its powerful, detailed teachings on life after death.[126]

Church president Hinckley told the Los Angeles Times: "The 1978 declaration speaks for itself ... I don't see anything further that we need to do."[73] Apostle Dallin H. Oaks said:

It's not the pattern of the Lord to give reasons. We can put reasons to commandments. When we do we're on our own. Some people put reasons to [the ban] and they turned out to be spectacularly wrong. There is a lesson in that .... The lesson I've drawn from that, I decided a long time ago that I had faith in the command and I had no faith in the reasons that had been suggested for it .... I'm referring to reasons given by general authorities and reasons elaborated upon [those reasons] by others. The whole set of reasons seemed to me to be unnecessary risk taking .... Let's [not] make the mistake that's been made in the past, here and in other areas, trying to put reasons to revelation. The reasons turn out to be man-made to a great extent. The revelations are what we sustain as the will of the Lord and that's where safety lies.[74][3]:134

2013 to present[edit]

On December 6, 2013 the LDS Church published an essay entitled Race and the Priesthood on its official website. The essay indicated that the priesthood ban did not originate with Joseph Smith, but was introduced by Brigham Young and was influenced by the racism of the era.[79] The essay stated "Today the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form."[3]:140[127]

While the essay was approved by the First Presidency,[128] it was not written by them. As of 2015, it has never been mentioned, alluded to, or footnoted in speeches by LDS authorities at the faith's semiannual General Conferences.[129] Many members remain unaware of the essays and some hold to racist beliefs that had been taught in the past.[130]

According to Richard Bushman, a Mormon historian, the essay removes the revelatory significance of the ban. He states that it requires a reorientation of Mormon thinking, since "it brings into question all of the prophet's inspiration."[131] Critics of the church argue that it could call into question other revelations of the prophets.[132]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ In her autobiography, Jane Elizabeth Manning James says she "had the privilege of going into the temple and being baptized for some of my dead."http://www.blacklds.org/manning Life History of Jane Elizabeth Manning James as transcribed by Elizabeth J.D. Round
  2. ^ a b Ostling, Richard, and Joan K. Ostling (2007). Mormon America: The Power and the Promise. New York: HarperCollins. p. 102. ISBN 978-0061432958.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah Harris, Matthew L.; Bringhurst, Newell G. (2015). The Mormon Church and Blacks. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-08121-7.
  4. ^ Stewart, John J. (1960). Mormonism and the Negro. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookmark. OCLC 731385.. Complete text
  5. ^ Chapter 41: Temple Ordinances, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 1997) p. 299.
  6. ^ Reiter, Tonya (October 2017). "Black Saviors on Mount Zion: Proxy Baptisms and Latter-day Saints of African Descent". Journal of Mormon History. 43 (4). doi:10.5406/jmormhist.43.4.0100. Presidents of the Church, with their counselors, consistently gave permission for this level of temple service to be extended to members of African descent, while also forbidding their participation in the endowment ritual. By the mid-1960s, it appears that ... President McKay seems to have agreed that vicarious ordinances should only be done by white proxies, a practice that seems to have been instigated earlier. By the early 1970s, records indicate that black members, once again, had free access to temple fonts in Utah.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Prince, Gregory A.; Wright, William Robert (2005). David O. McKay and the rise of modern Mormonism. Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press. ISBN 0-87480-822-7.
  8. ^ Anderson, Devery S. (2011). The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846–2000: A Documentary History. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. ISBN 978-1-56085-211-7.
  9. ^ Peggy Fletcher Stack (2007). "Faithful witness". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  10. ^ Lee Hale (May 31, 2018). "Mormon Church Celebration of 40 Years of Black Priesthood Brings Up Painful Past".
  11. ^ "Mormon Lay Ministry". The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  12. ^ "Why do we need to receive our endowment in the temple before serving a mission?".
  13. ^ "Mormons to mark 30 years of blacks in priesthood". Associated Press. 2008.
  14. ^ a b Davis Bitton, Thomas G. Alexander. Historical Dictionary of Mormonism. p. 20.
  15. ^ Embry, Jessie (1994). Black Saints in a White Church. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books. ISBN 1-56085-044-2. OCLC 30156888.
  16. ^ William G. Hartley, "Samuel D. Chambers, The Improvement Era, Spring 1977; "Saint Without Priesthood: The Collected Testimonies of Ex-Slave Samuel D. Chambers," Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 12: 2 (Summer 1979; Jessie L. Embry, Black Saints in a White Church: Contemporary African American Mormons (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1994.)
  17. ^ "No Johnny-Come-Lately: The 182-Year-Long BLACK Mormon Moment".
  18. ^ Sean Walker (2015). "SLC man pioneer for Michigan football, black Mormons". KSL.
  19. ^ Margaret Blair Young. "Abner Leonard Howell: Honorary High Priest" (PDF).
  20. ^ Richard E. Turley Jr. and Jeffrey G. Cannon. "A Faithful Band: Moses Mahlangu and the First Soweto Saints". BYU Studies Quarterly. 55 (1).
  21. ^ Michael Aguirre. "Bankhead Mary Lucille Perkins". Black Past.
  22. ^ Moore, Carrie A (2003-10-04). "Pair reflect LDS Nigerians' faith". Deseret News.
  23. ^ Ramirez, Margaret (2005-07-26). "Mormon past steeped in racism: Some black members want church to denounce racist doctrines". Chicago Tribune. As far as leadership is concerned, the role of the various minorities in Mormonism as a whole is not yet very great, but it is growing, and it is crucial in parts of the world outside the U.S.
  24. ^ Huffington Post article on September 2014 Women's Meeting
  25. ^ "Area Seventies". Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  26. ^ Allen, Kathryn S. "LDS Africa: Some Great Quotes from Church Leaders". My Best LDS. Retrieved 2016-01-18.
  27. ^ For example, Helvécio Martins, Joseph W. Sitati, and Edward Dube
  28. ^ Barney, Kevin (29 July 2015). "Patriarchal Blessing Lineages". By Common Consent, a Mormon Blog. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  29. ^ Bates, Irene M. (1993). "Patriarchal Blessings and the Routinization of Charisma" (PDF). Dialogue. 26 (3). Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  30. ^ a b Grover, Mark. "Religious Accommodation in the Land of Racial Democracy: Mormon Priesthood and Black Brazilians" (PDF). Dialogue. Retrieved 20 April 2016.
  31. ^ Stuart, Joseph (8 June 2017). "Patriarchal Blessings, Race, and Lineage: History and a Survey". By Common Consent, a Mormon Blog. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
  32. ^ a b Persuitte, David (2000). Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 237. ISBN 978-0-7864-0826-9.
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Reeve, W. Paul (2015). Religion of a Different Color: Race and the Mormon Struggle for Whiteness. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-975407-6.
  34. ^ a b c d e f g h Bush, Lester E., Jr.; Mauss, Armand L., eds. (1984). Neither White Nor Black: Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church. Salt Lake City, Utah: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-22-2.
  35. ^ John J Hammond. Vol IV AN INACCESSIBLE MORMON ZION: EXPULSION FROM JACKSON COUNTY.
  36. ^ Turner, John G. (20 September 2012). Brigham Young: Pioneer Prophet (1st ed.). Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press. p. 222. ISBN 0674049675. Retrieved 28 August 2017. If they [the couple and child] were far away from the Gentiles [non-Mormons] they wo[ul]d all have to be killed[.] [W]hen they mingle seed it is death to all. If a black man & white woman come to you & demand baptism can you deny them? [T]he law is their seed shall not be amalg[a]mated. Mulattoes are like mules[,] they can't have the children, but if they will be Eunuchs for the Kingdom of God’s Heaven’s sake they may have a place in the Temple.
  37. ^ Collier, Fred C. (1987). The Teachings of President Brigham Young Vol. 3 1852–1854. Colliers Publishing Co. p. 49. ISBN 0934964017. if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane [i.e. black people] the only way he could get rid of it or have salvation would be to come forward & have his head cut off [and] spill his blood upon the ground. It would also take the life of his [c]hildren.
  38. ^ Collier, Fred C. (1987). The Teachings of President Brigham Young Vol. 3 1852–1854. Colliers Publishing Co. p. 44. ISBN 0934964017. Were the children of God to mingle their seed with the seed of Cain [i.e. black people] it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the Priesthood upon them[selves] but they entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an unguarded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say ["]cut off my head,["] and [one then] kill[ed the] man, woman and child, it would do a great deal towards atoning for the sin. Would this be to curse them? No, it would be a blessing to them—it would do them good, that they might be saved with their brethren. A many would shudder should they hear us talk about killing folk, but it is one of the greatest blessings to some to kill them, although the true principles of it are not understood.
  39. ^ Schaeffer, Frank (12 January 2009). "Perspectives on Marriage: Score 1 For Gay America — 0 To The Mormons". huffingtonpost.com. Huffington Post.
  40. ^ Young, Brigham (1865). "The Persecutions of the Saints—Their Loyalty to the Constitution—The Mormon Battalion—The Laws of God Relative to the African Race" (PDF). Journal of Discourses. 10: 110. Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.
  41. ^ Anderson, Devery S. (2011). The Development of LDS Temple Worship, 1846-2000: A Documentary History. Salt Lake City: Signature Books. p. xlvi. ISBN 9781560852117. The next year [1966], President McKay addressed a similar issue regarding a woman who had been to the temple and subsequently married a black man. The woman was told by her local Church leader 'that no further Temple visits would be allowed her, and that[,] because of her marriage to a Negro[,] her Temple endowments are ineffective.' McKay overruled the invalidation of her endowments but did prevent her from visiting the temple again.
  42. ^ a b c d e f W. Kesler Jackson. Elijah Abel: The Life and Times of a Black Priesthood Holder.
  43. ^ a b Bringhurst, Newell G. (2004). "The 'Missouri Thesis' Revisited: Early Mormonism, Slavery, and the Status of Black People". In Bringhurst, Newell G.; Smith, Darron T. Black and Mormon. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. pp. 13–33. ISBN 0-252-02947-X.
  44. ^ "Lineage lesson, 1970 December". churchhistorycatalog.lds.org. Brazil North LDS Mission. Retrieved 14 June 2017. An example of these missionary "lineage lessons" (in Portuguese) can be viewed at the Church History website here with a document translation found here and here
  45. ^ Mauss, Armand L. (2003). All Abraham's Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage. University of Illinois Press. p. 218. ISBN 0-252-02803-1.
  46. ^ Nelson, Kimberly (February 28, 2012), BYU Professor makes controversial statements about Blacks & LDS Church, KTVX, retrieved March 8, 2013
  47. ^ Mormon Black History Month - Beliefnet.com
  48. ^ Dallin H. Oaks (June 5, 1988), Interview with Associated Press, Daily Herald (Utah)
  49. ^ Jeffrey R. Holland (March 4, 2006), The Mormons, PBS
  50. ^ a b Sterling M. McMurrin affidavit, March 6, 1979. See David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism by Greg Prince and William Robert Wright. Quoted by Genesis Group Archived 2011-07-13 at the Wayback Machine.
  51. ^ Genesis 4:9–15
  52. ^ Bruce R. McConkie said, "Of the two-thirds who followed Christ, however, some were more valiant than others ....Those who were less valiant in pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God and his murder of Abel being a black skin (Moses 5:16–41; 12:22). Noah's son Ham married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain, thus preserving the negro lineage through the flood (Abraham 1:20–27). Negroes in this life are denied the priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty. (Abra. 1:20–27.) The gospel message of salvation is not carried affirmatively to them (Moses 7:8, 12, 22), although sometimes negroes search out the truth, join the Church, and become by righteous living heirs of the celestial kingdom of heaven. President Brigham Young and others have taught that in the future eternity worthy and qualified negroes will receive the priesthood and every gospel blessing available to any man. The present status of the negro rests purely and simply on the foundation of pre-existence. Along with all races and peoples he is receiving here what he merits as a result of the long pre-mortal probation in the presence of the Lord....The negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings that flow therefrom, but this inequality is not of man's origin. It is the Lord's doing."McConkie, Bruce (1966). Mormon Doctrine. pp. 526–27.
  53. ^ John Taylor said, "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; and that man should be a free agent to act for himself, and that all men might have the opportunity of receiving or rejecting the truth, and be governed by it or not according to their wishes and abide the result; and that those who would be able to maintain correct principles under all circumstances, might be able to associate with the Gods in the eternal worlds." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 22 page 304)
  54. ^ Old Testament Student Manual Genesis-2 Samuel. Therefore, although Ham himself had the right to the priesthood, Canaan, his son, did not. Ham had married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain (Abraham 1:21–24), and so his sons were denied the priesthood.
  55. ^ Genesis 9:20-27
  56. ^ Abraham 1:21
  57. ^ Abraham 1:26
  58. ^ Abraham 1:22
  59. ^ Mauss 2003, p. 238
  60. ^ Young, Brigham (1863). Wikisource link to Journal of Discourses/Volume 10/Necessity for Watchfulness, etc.. Wikisource. pp. 248–250. 
  61. ^ Dialogue. Dialogue Foundation, 2001. 2001. p. 267.
  62. ^ Abraham 1:26
  63. ^ Official Declaration 2, ‘Every Faithful, Worthy Man’. LDS Church. 2002. pp. 634–365.
  64. ^ a b c Bushman, Claudia (2006). Contemporary Mormonism: Latter-day Saints in Modern America. Westport, Connecticut: Praeger Publishers. ISBN 0-275-98933-X. OCLC 61178156.
  65. ^ a b Kidd, Colin (2006). The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600–2000. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521793247.
  66. ^ Brown, Gayle Oblad (1992). "Premortal Life". In Ludlow, Daniel H. Encyclopedia of Mormonism. New York: Macmillan Publishing. pp. 1123–1125. ISBN 0-02-879602-0. OCLC 24502140.
  67. ^ Prentiss, Craig (2003). Religion and the Creation of Race and Ethnicity: An Introduction. New York: NYU Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0814767016.
  68. ^ Bush, Lester Jr; Mauss, Armand L. (eds.). "Neither White nor Black". The Signature Books Library. Signature Books. Retrieved October 22, 2012. The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes. – Excerpt from statement from First Presidency signed by President George Albert Smith, 17 August 1949
  69. ^ Bush, Lester Jr; Mauss, Armand L. (eds.). "Neither White nor Black". The Signature Books Library. Signature Books. Retrieved October 22, 2012. Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, 'The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God .... Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man's mortal existence, extending back to man's pre-existent state.': excerpt from statement by First Presidency, 12 December 1969, signed by Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner
  70. ^ a b "Letter of First Presidency Clarifies Church's Position on the Negro". The Improvement Era. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. 73 (2): 70. February 1, 1970.
  71. ^ a b Bruce R. McConkie said, "There are statements in our literature by the early brethren which 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?" And all I can say to that 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 whomsoever 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 our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had 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 any more .... It doesn't make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year." Bruce R. McConkie, 1978. All Are Alike Unto God, A SYMPOSIUM ON THE BOOK OF MORMON, The Second Annual Church Educational System Religious Educator's Symposium, August 17–19, 1978.
  72. ^ a b "Interview With President Gordon B Hinkley", Compass, ABC Television, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, November 9, 1997
  73. ^ a b c d Ostling, Richard and Joan (1999). Mormon America. Harper Collins. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0-06-066371-5.
  74. ^ a b Dallin H. Oaks, Interview with Associated Press, in Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, June 5, 1988.
  75. ^ Smith, Darron (March 2003). "The Persistence of Racialized Discourse in Mormonism" (PDF). Sunstone.
  76. ^ Horowitz, Jason (28 February 2012). "The Genesis of a church's stand on race". Washington Post. Retrieved 26 March 2018.
  77. ^ a b Kimball, Edward L. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. Bookcraft. pp. 448–9.
  78. ^ a b Peggy Fletcher Stack (January 12, 2015). "Black Mormons Lament that Race is Taboo Topic at Church". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  79. ^ a b c d Peggy Fletcher Stack (December 16, 2013). "Mormon church traces black priesthood ban to Brigham Young". The Salt Lake Tribune.
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  82. ^ Mitchell, David. "President Spencer W. Kimball Ordained Twelfth President of the Church". lds.org. LDS Church. Retrieved 12 October 2017.
  83. ^ Official Declaration 2, Doctrine and Covenants, a standard work of the LDS Church.
  84. ^ J. B. Haws. The Mormon Image in the American Mind: Fifty Years of Public Perception.
  85. ^ Terry L. Givens, Philip L. Barlow. The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism.
  86. ^ Collier, Fred C. (1987). The Teachings of President Brigham Young Vol. 3 1852–1854. Colliers Publishing Co. p. 43. ISBN 0934964017.
  87. ^ LOOK, Oct. 22, 1963, p. 79
  88. ^ Lund, John Lewis (1967), The Church and the Negro: A Discussion of Mormons, Negroes, and the Priesthood, Salt Lake City: Paramount Publishers, p. 45, OCLC 1053369
  89. ^ Tanner, Jerald and Sandra Curse of Cain
  90. ^ Newell G. Bringhurst, Darron T. Smith. Black and Mormon.
  91. ^ a b c Bush & Mauss 1984: 76–86
  92. ^ a b McNamara, Mary Lou (24 January 2001). Contemporary Mormonism: Social Science Perspectives (Reprint ed.). Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press. p. 318. ISBN 0252069595. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  93. ^ a b c Larry G. Murphy, J. Gordon Melton, and Gary L. Ward (1993). Encyclopedia of African American Religions (New York: Garland Publishing) pp. 471–472.
  94. ^ Bush, Lester E.; Mauss, Armand L. (1984). Neither White nor Black. Midvale, Utah: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-22-2.
  95. ^ a b c d Newell G. Bringhurst (1981). Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press).
  96. ^ Connell O'Donovan, "The Mormon Priesthood Ban & Elder Q. Walker Lewis: 'An example for his more whiter brethren to follow' Archived 2010-07-06 at the Wayback Machine., John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, 2006.
  97. ^ Young said that "the curse remained upon them because Cain cut off the lives of Abel, to prevent him and his posterity getting ascendancy over Cain and his generations, and to get the lead himself, his own offering not being accepted of God, while Abel's was. But the Lord had cursed Cain's seed with blackness and prohibited them the priesthood that Abel and his progeny might yet come forward and have their dominion, place, and blessings in their proper relationship with Cain and his race in the world to come." Journal History, Vol. 26, 13 February 1849
  98. ^ "Any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] ... in him cannot hold the priesthood and if no other prophet ever spoke it before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ I know it is true and others know it."Bush & Mauss 1984: 70[permanent dead link]
  99. ^ "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. ... Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race—that they should be the 'servant of servants'; and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree." Journal of Discourses, 7:290.
  100. ^ Newell G. Bringhurst, Darron T. Smith. Black and Mormon.
  101. ^ a b First Presidency Letter of the First Presidency Archived December 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. August 17, 1949
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  103. ^ ""Mormons and the Negro" by Lowry Nelson, The Nation, May 24, 1952".
  104. ^ The "Negro Question Declaration: "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. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President 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 fathers 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 now are entitled to."Ostling, Richard and Joan (1999). Mormon America. pp. 101–102.
  105. ^ Quinn, Michael D. The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power Salt Lake City: 1994 Signature Books Page 14
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  107. ^ Prince, Gregory A. (2005). David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press. pp. 103, 104. ISBN 978-0-87480-822-3.
  108. ^ Prince, Gregory A. (2005). David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. Salt Lake City: The University of Utah Press. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-87480-822-3.
  109. ^ Young, Margaret Blair; Gray, Darius Aidan (2010). "Mormonism and Blacks". In Reeve, W. Paul; Parshall, Ardis E. Mormonism: A Historical Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara CA: ABC-CLIO. pp. 277–278. ISBN 978-1-59884-107-7.
  110. ^ "History of Genesis". The Genesis Group. The Genesis Group. Archived from the original on October 10, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
  111. ^ Lloyd, R. Scott (April 5, 1997). "Ruffin Bridgeforth, first black high priest, eulogized as a pioneer". Church News. Retrieved November 4, 2012.
  112. ^ Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22; citing Goates, Harold B. Lee, 506, quoting UPI interview published November 16, 1972.
  113. ^ Mark L. Grover, "The Mormon Priesthood Revelation and the São Paulo Brazil Temple", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 23:39–53 (Spring 1990).
  114. ^ Official Declaration 2.
  115. ^ Priesthood, pp. 127–128, Deseret Book Co., 1981.
  116. ^ Morrison, Alexander B. (1990). The Dawning of a Brighter Day: The Church in Black Africa. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Company. ISBN 0-87579-338-X.
  117. ^ Gordon B. Hinckley, "Priesthood Restoration", Ensign, October 1988.
  118. ^ Freeman, Joseph, Jr. (1979). In the Lord's Due Time. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-88494-382-2.
  119. ^ Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1979). The Changing World of Mormonism. Moody Press. pp. 319–328. ISBN 0-8024-1234-3.
  120. ^ Ostling, Richard and Joan (1999). Mormon America. Harper Collins. p. 95.
  121. ^ Page Johnson Alvin B. Jackson, Jr—The Bishop is Always In Archived July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Meridian Magazine
  122. ^ Ken Kuykendall, Past racial issues and the Church today Mormon Century Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  123. ^ Nicole Warburton, "President Hinckley calls racism ugly and unacceptable'", Deseret news, April 2, 2006
  124. ^ Ostling, Richard and Joan (1999). Mormon America. Harper Collins. p. 105. ISBN 0-06-066371-5.
  125. ^ Broadway, Bill (May 30, 1998). "Black Mormons Resist Apology Talk". Washington Post.
  126. ^ Ramirez, Margaret (July 26, 2005). "Mormon past steeped in racism: Some black members want church to denounce racist doctrines". Chicago Tribune.
  127. ^ "Gospel Topics: Race and the Priesthood", LDS.org, LDS Church
  128. ^ Tad Walch, "LDS blacks, scholars cheer church's essay on priesthood", Deseret News, June 8, 2014
  129. ^ Peggy Fletcher Stack (May 10, 2015). "This Mormon Sunday school teacher was dismissed for using church's own race essay in lesson". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  130. ^ Peggy Fletcher Stack (June 9, 2017). "39 years later, priesthood ban is history, but racism within Mormon ranks isn't, black members say". The Salt Lake Tribune.
  131. ^ Peggy Fletcher Stack (December 10, 2013). "Mormon Church: Justifications for black priesthood ban rooted in racism". Washington Post.
  132. ^ Bill McKeever; Eric Johnson (2015). Mormonism 101: Examining the Religion of the Latter-day Saints. Baker Books.

Primary sources[edit]

Secondary sources[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

  • blacklds.org an independent site (not owned or operated by the LDS Church) maintained by Latter-day Saints