Black people in Mormon doctrine

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From 1849 to 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) had a policy against ordaining black men to the priesthood, and forbidding black men and women from taking part in ceremonies in LDS temples. Associated with this policy were various statements by church leaders tying the policy to their view of scripture, and opining that black men and women had inherited the curse of Ham. In 1978, the church's First Presidency declared in a statement known as "Official Declaration 2" that the ban had been lifted as a result of a revelation from God. 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.

Origins of early Mormon racial doctrines[edit]

Proposed scriptural basis[edit]

The Church leadership began using the newly canonized Pearl of Great Price, which has the following verse:

When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land. Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal. Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessing of the earth, and with the blessing of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining the priesthood. Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of the priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry. (Abraham 1:24-27, emphasis added)

Influence of Brigham Young[edit]

An early statement by Brigham Young about a priesthood ban in the LDS Church was made on February 13, 1849. The statement—which refers to the Curse of Cain as the reason for the policy—was given in response to Lorenzo Snow, "who wished to know what chance of redemption there was for the Africans." Young was recorded to have replied 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."[1]

In 1852, while addressing the Utah Territorial Legislature, Young stated, "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."[2]

When asked "if the spirits of Negroes were neutral in Heaven," Young responded, "No, they were not, there were no neutral [spirits] in Heaven at the time of the rebellion, all took sides. ... All spirits are pure that came from the presence of God."[3] Learning about Enoch Lewis's marriage to a woman of European descent (December 1847) and subsequently enacting a ban on Negroes in the priesthood, he considered Walker Lewis "one of the best Elders."[4]

On another occasion, Young said, "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."[5]

Brigham Young said this despite the LDS scripture verses that state people may be cursed unto the 3rd and 4th generation, but if any were to repent and make restitution they would be forgiven and the curse lifted.[6] This is reiterated in D&C 124:50&52 as well as Mosiah 13:13,14 and Deut 5:9,10.

Under John Taylor's presidency, there was confusion regarding the origin of the racial policy. Elijah Abel was living, breathing proof that an African American was ordained to the Priesthood in the days of Joseph Smith. At least two of Abel's descendants—his son Enoch and Enoch's son Elijah—were ordained to the priesthood, in 1900 and 1935, respectively.[7] Joseph Fielding Smith said that Abel's Priesthood had been declared null and void by Joseph Smith himself, 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.[8] From this point on Joseph Smith was repeatedly referred to as the author of many statements, which had actually been made by Brigham Young, on the subject of Priesthood restriction.[8]

Common early doctrinal views[edit]

Doctrinal interpretations of slavery[edit]

Main article: Mormonism and slavery

LDS scripture has varying views on slavery. The Old Testament has stories of slavery, and gives rules and regulations on how to treat slaves. The New Testament tells slaves not to revolt against their masters. It was a commonly held belief in the South that the Bible permitted slavery. However, the Doctrine and Covenants condemns slavery, teaching "it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another." (D&C 101:79) The Book of Mormon heralds righteous kings who did not allow slavery, (Mosiah 29:40) and righteous men who fought against slavery (Alma 48:11).

Teachings on the status of black Mormons in the afterlife[edit]

A celestial marriage was not required to get into the celestial kingdom, but was required to obtain a fullness of glory within the celestial kingdom.[9] The Doctrine and Covenants reads "In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it."(D&C 131:1-3) The righteous who do not have a celestial marriage would still make it into heaven, and live eternally with God, but they would be "appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants."(D&C 132:16)

As blacks were banned from entering celestial marriage prior to 1978, some interpreted this to mean black people would be treated as unmarried whites, being confined to only ever live in God's presence as a ministering servant. In 1954, Apostle Mark E. Petersen told BYU students: "If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get a celestial resurrection."[10] Apostle George F. Richards in a talk at General Conference similarly taught: "[t]he Negro is an unfortunate man. He has been given a black skin. But that is as nothing compared with that greater handicap that he is not permitted to receive the Priesthood and the ordinances of the temple, necessary to prepare men and women to enter into and enjoy a fullness of glory in the celestial kingdom."[11]

Several leaders, including Joseph Smith,[12] Brigham Young,[13] Wilford Woodruff,[14] George Albert Smith,[15] David O. McKay,[16] Joseph Fielding Smith,[17] and Harold B. Lee[18] taught that black people would eventually be able to receive a fullness of glory in the celestial kingdom.

When the priesthood ban was discussed in 1978, apostle Bruce McConkie argued for its change using the Mormon scripture and the Articles of Faith. The Third Article states that "all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel."(Articles of Faith 1:3) From the Book of Mormon he quoted "And even unto the great and last day, when all people, and all kindreds, and all nations and tongues shall stand before God, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil— If they be good, to the resurrection of everlasting life; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of damnation. (3 Nephi 26:4-5) The Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price states that Abraham's seed "shall all the families of the earth be blessed, even with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal." (Abraham 2:11) According to his son, Joseph F. McConkie, these scriptures played a great part in changing the policy.[19]

Teachings regarding duration of racial bans[edit]

Brigham Young said in 1854: "When all the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood, and of coming into the kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received their resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity. He deprived his brother of the privilege of pursuing his journey through life, and of extending his kingdom by multiplying upon the earth; and because he did this, he is the last to share the joys of the kingdom of God."[20] And in 1859 he said "How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam's children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed."[21] He also prophesied: "Children are now born who will live until every son of Adam will have the privilege of receiving the principles of eternal life."[22] At another time, he stated "That the time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privilege of and more."[23]

Joseph Fielding Smith wrote in 1935 "Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was placed upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures." In his book he made clear that the contents were his opinion.[24] In 1963, while discussing when the ban would be lifted, he 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."[25]

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."[26]

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,[27] 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.

Relation to "curse of Cain" and/or "curse of Ham"[edit]

Some members, including certain leaders, of the church used the curse of Cain to justify the racial restriction policy. In the book of Genesis,[28] God puts a mark on Cain after he kills his brother Abel. Church leader and later apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote in his 1966 edition of Mormon Doctrine:

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.[29]

In 1881, church president 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).

Black journalist and church member Darius Aidan Gray, in 2007, commented "I think the most damning statement came from one of the presidents of the church, the third president of the church, John Taylor. Basically, he said that the reason that black people had been allowed to come through the flood, the flood of Noah, was so that Satan would have representation upon the earth, that black folks were here to represent Satan and to have a balance against white folks, who were here to represent Jesus Christ, the savior. How do you damn a people more than to say that their existence upon the earth is to represent Satan?"[30][31]

LDS scholar W. John Walsh disagrees. He reads the quote as saying the devil must have a representation so that all men, including black people, may have ability to choose to receive or reject the truth, not that black people were that representation.[32]

The curse of Cain is still taught in Old Testament student manual for LDS institute classes.[33]

Belief that black people were neutral or "less valiant" in pre-existence[edit]

One of the justifications that some Latter-day Saints used for the discriminatory policy was that black individual's pre-existence spirits were not as virtuous as white pre-existence spirits. For example, Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: "According to the doctrine of the church, the negro because of some condition of unfaithfulness in the spirit — or pre-existence, was not valiant and hence was not denied the mortal probation, but was denied the blessing of the priesthood."[34]

Smith also reasoned that during the war in Heaven, some spirits would logically have been less valiant in following the Savior than others, therefore the priesthood was restricted from the least valiant.[35] However, Smith made clear that the book was his own personal opinion. Of the doctrine of the church, Smith said "The Mormon Church does not believe, nor does it teach, that the Negro is an inferior being. Mentally, and physically, the Negro is capable of great achievement, as great and in some cases greater than the potentiality of the white race. He can become a lawyer, a doctor, a scientist, and he can achieve great heights."[36]

The "Negro Question" Declaration[edit]

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.[37] It stated:

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."

The declaration goes on to state that the conditions in which people are born are affected by their conduct in a 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. It concludes by stating, "Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes." [38]

Darkness associated with sin[edit]

Many LDS church documents and church leaders asserted that dark skin was an indication of sin or a curse.[39][40][41] One belief held by some LDS members was that skin color of Native Americans would gradually change from dark to light as they repented of their sins.[42][43][44]

Mormon explanations for racial bans[edit]

Attribution to human error[edit]

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."[45]

Teaching that practice is not doctrine[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.’[46]

Revelations supersede theory[edit]

In 1978, after the racial bans were lifted, church authority Bruce R. McConkie said:[47]

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.

Necessary for the time[edit]

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."[48]

Ban as an unknowable mystery[edit]

David O. McKay said: "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."[49]

Belief that pre-1978 church was not ready for black priests[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, puts his focus on "moving forward rather than looking back."[50] 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 at the time of the Restoration, because of prejudice and slavery. He draws analogies to the Bible where only the Israelites have the gospel.[51] Officially the church also uses Biblical history to justify the prior ban:

Ever since biblical times, the Lord has designated through His prophets who could receive the priesthood and other blessings of the gospel. Among the tribes of Israel, for example, only men of the tribe of Levi were given the priesthood and allowed to officiate in certain ordinances. Likewise, during the Savior's earthly ministry, gospel blessings were restricted to the Jews. Only after a revelation to the Apostle Peter were the gospel and priesthood extended to others (see Acts 10:1–33; 14:23; 15:6–8).[52]

Calls for official repudiation of past doctrines[edit]

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."[53]

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."[54]

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."[55] 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.[56]

Hinckley, then church president, told the Los Angeles Times: "The 1978 declaration speaks for itself ... I don't see anything further that we need to do".[53] Church 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."[57]

Latter-day Saint declarations of racial equality[edit]

On December 6, 2013 the LDS Church published an essay approved by the First Presidency and entitled Race and the Priesthood on its official website. 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."[58][59]

In April of 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.[60]

Other Latter Day Saint groups[edit]

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints position[edit]

In 2005, the Intelligence Report published the following statements made by Warren Jeffs, President of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints:

  • "The black race is the people through which the devil has always been able to bring evil unto the earth."
  • "[Cain was] cursed with a black skin and he is the father of the Negro people. He has great power, can appear and disappear. He is used by the devil, as a mortal man, to do great evils."
  • "Today you can see a black man with a white woman, et cetera. A great evil has happened on this land because the devil knows that if all the people have Negro blood, there will be nobody worthy to have the priesthood."
  • "If you marry a person who has connections with a Negro, you would become cursed."[61]

Bickertonite position[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ (Bickertonite) has advocated full racial integration throughout all aspects of the church since its organization in 1862. While America disputed over civil liberties and racial segregation, the church claimed their message was for all races.[62] In 1905, the church suspended an elder for opposing the full integration of all races.[63]

Historian Dale Morgan wrote in 1949: "An interesting feature of the Church's doctrine is that it discriminates in no way against ... members of other racial groups, who are fully admitted to all the privileges of the priesthood. It has taken a strong stand for human rights, and was, for example, uncompromisingly against the Ku Klux Klan during that organization's period of ascendancy after the First World War."[64]

At a time when racial segregation or discrimination was commonplace in most institutions throughout America, two of the most prominent leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ were African American. Apostle John Penn, member of the Quorum of Twelve from 1910 to 1955, conducted missionary work with many Italian Americans, and was often referred to as "The Italian's Doctor".[63] Matthew Miller, an evangelist ordained in 1937, traveled throughout Canada establishing missions with Native Americans.[63]

Strangite position[edit]

Strangites welcomed African Americans into their church during a time when some other factions (such as the Utah LDS church, until 1978) denied them the priesthood, or certain other benefits of membership. Strang ordained at least two African Americans to the eldership during his lifetime.[65]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Journal History, Vol. 26, 13 February 1849
  2. ^ Bush & Mauss 1984: 70[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ Journal History, 25 December 1869, citing Wilford Woodruff's journal. See also Archived January 6, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Brigham Young Papers, March 26, 1847, LDS Church Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah
  5. ^ Journal of Discourses, 7:290.
  6. ^ D&C 98: 45-47
  7. ^ Newell G. Bringhurst, "The 'Missouri Thesis' Revisisted: Early Mormonism, Slavery, and the Status of Black People" in Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith (eds.) (2006). Black and Mormon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press) pp. 13–33 at p. 30.
  8. ^ a b Bush & Mauss 1984: 76–86 Archived July 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ Church leader Bruce McConkie wrote "Baptism is the gate to the celestial kingdom; celestial marriage is the gate to an exaltation in the highest heaven within the celestial world."(Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p 118)
  10. ^ Address at Convention of Teachers of Religion, BYU, Utah, August 27, 1954.
  11. ^ Elder George F. Richards, Conference Report, April 1939, p. 58.
  12. ^ In regards to black people, Joseph Smith taught that "They have souls, and are subjects of salvation."Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 269. ISBN 0-87579-243-X
  13. ^ Brigham Young said "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." quoted by the First Presidency, August 17, 1949.
  14. ^ Wilford Woodruff said "The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have" quoted by the First Presidency on August 17, 1949 Archived December 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine..
  15. ^ George Albert Smith reiterated what was said by both Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff in a statement by the First Presidency on August 17, 1949 Archived December 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ David McKay taught "Sometime in God's eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the Priesthood. In the meantime, those of that race 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."(Mormonism and the Negro, pp. 23)
  17. ^ In reference to black people, Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith taught: "Every soul coming into this world came here with the promise that through obedience he would receive the blessings of salvation. No person was foreordained or appointed to sin or to perform a mission of evil. No person is ever predestined to salvation or damnation. Every person has free agency." (Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p. 61)
  18. ^ In 1972, Harold B. Lee said, "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." (Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22; citing Goates, Harold B. Lee, 506, quoting UPI interview published November 16, 1972.)
  19. ^ Hallelujah! The 25th Anniversary of the Revelation of Priesthood Archived November 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. ^ Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 143
  21. ^ Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, pp. 290-291
  22. ^ Young, Brigham. Journal of Discourses: Character of God and Christ, etc. p. 116
  23. ^ Brigham Young, "Speech given in Joint Session of the Utah Legislature", February 5, 1952, in Fred Collier, The Teachings of President Brigham Young. Salt Lake City, Collier's Publishing, 1987, p. 43
  24. ^ Way to Perfection, 1935, p. 101
  25. ^ LOOK, Oct. 22, 1963, p. 79
  26. ^ 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 
  27. ^ Tanner, Jerald and Sandra Curse of Cain
  28. ^ Genesis 4:9-15
  29. ^ McConkie, Bruce (1966). Mormon Doctrine. pp. 526–27. 
  30. ^ PBS Frontline TV show transcript
  31. ^ PBS Frontline TV show video
  32. ^ Walsh, W. John. Blacks Are Not Satan's Representatives
  33. ^ 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. 
  34. ^ Letter to J. Henderson, April 10, 1963). "Letter from Joseph Fielding Smith to J. Henderson". 
  35. ^ Smith, Joseph Fielding, Way to Perfection, 1950, p.46
  36. ^ (Deseret News, Church Section, June 14, 1962)
  37. ^ Ostling, Richard and Joan (1999). Mormon America. pp. 101–102. 
  38. ^ First Presidency Letter of the First Presidency Archived December 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. August 17, 1949
  39. ^ A verse from the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 30:6) relating to that belief discusses the Lamanites (Native Americans) "... and many generations shall not pass away among the, save they shall be a white and delightsome people". In 1980, the church changed the wording of that verse from "white and delightsome people" to "pure and delightsome people," which also appears in the 1840 edition printed in Nauvoo, edited by Joseph Smith. Church leaders claimed that they were simply restoring the verse to reflect the 1840 change by Joseph Smith, and that the verse did not concern skin color but rather concerned character. But church critic Richard Abanes claims that that change of that verse by the church is an attempt to cover-up its past attitudes, despite the change having been made 140 year previously. Abanes, Richard. One Nation Under Gods. p. 420. 
  40. ^ For many examples, see Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? Gerald and Sandra Tanner. p. 262-266
  41. ^ "A black skin is a mark of the curse of heaven.... We understand that when God made man in his own image and pronounced him very good, that he made him white." Reynolds, George (15 Oct 1868). "Man and His Varieties: The Negro Race". The Juvenile Instructor. Retrieved 29 October 2016.  Vol. 3 Iss. 20 p 157
  42. ^ General Conference Report, October, 1960. Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922-923. A verse from the Book of Mormon (2 Nephi 30:6) relating to that belief discusses the Lamanites (Native Americans) "... and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people".
  43. ^ Mormon writer George Edward Clarkwrote (regarding an Indian tribe in South Carolina): "That tribe, or most of its members, are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those Indians, at least as many as I have observed, were white and delightsome; as white and fair as any group of citizens of our country. I know of no prophecy , ancient or modern, that as had a more literal fulfillment".Clark, George Edward (1954). Why I Believe, Fifty-four Evidences of the Divine Calling of Joseph Smith. 
  44. ^ LDS church president Spencer W. Kimball said in 1960 (when he was a member of the 12 apostles): I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today.... For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl--sixteen--sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents--on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather....These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated. General Conference Report, October, 1960. Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922-923.
  45. ^ Kimball, Edward L. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. Bookcraft. pp. 448–9. 
  46. ^ 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
  47. ^ 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
  48. ^ "Interview With President Gordon B Hinkley", Compass, ABC Television, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, November 9, 1997 
  49. ^ Bringhurst 1981: 223
  50. ^ Page Johnson Alvin B. Jackson, Jr—The Bishop is Always In Archived July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Meridian Magazine
  51. ^ Ken Kuykendall,Past racial issues and the Church today Mormon Century Archived February 1, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  52. ^ "Gospel Topics",, LDS Church, archived from the original on 2013-10-21  |contribution= ignored (help)
  53. ^ a b Ostling, Richard and Joan (1999). Mormon America. Harper Collins. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0-06-066371-5. 
  54. ^ Ostling, Richard and Joan (1999). Mormon America. Harper Collins. p. 105. ISBN 0-06-066371-5. 
  55. ^ Broadway, Bill (1998-05-30). "Black Mormons Resist Apology Talk". Washington Post. 
  56. ^ Ramirez, Margaret (2005-07-26). "Mormon past steeped in racism: Some black members want church to denounce racist doctrines". Chicago Tribune. 
  57. ^ Dallin H. Oaks, Interview with Associated Press, in Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, 5 June 1988
  58. ^ Tad Walch, "LDS blacks, scholars cheer church's essay on priesthood", Deseret News, June 8, 2014
  59. ^ "Gospel Topics",, LDS Church  |contribution= ignored (help)
  60. ^ Nicole Warburton, "President Hinckley calls racism ugly and unacceptable'", Deseret news, April 2, 2006
  61. ^ [1], web page, retrieved, July 15, 2006
  62. ^ Martin, Idris (1858). Annotated History of The Church of Jesus Christ. USA: Official minutes of meetings of The Church. pp. 157, 180, 375. 
  63. ^ a b c The Church of Jesus Christ (2002). A History of The Church of Jesus Christ: Volume 2. Monongahela, PA: The Church of Jesus Christ. 
  64. ^ Morgan, Dale L. (Winter 1949–1950). "Volume IV, No.1". The Western Humanities. USA: University of Utah. p. 4. 
  65. ^ "African-Americans". Retrieved on 2007-10-18.

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