Black people and priesthood (LDS)

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From 1849 to 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) had a policy against the ordination of black men to the priesthood, and forbidding black men and women from taking part in ceremonies in LDS temples. 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.

The beginning of Mormon racial doctrines[edit]

Racial policies 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.[1]:99 That same year, Abel went on to become a member of the Quorum of the Seventy and received a patriarchal blessing.[1]: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.[2]:94

Influence of Brigham Young[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.[2]: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 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.[3] Young would make many similar remarks during the rest of his presidency.[4][5]

Notable black men before the priesthood ban[edit]

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.[2]: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.[2]: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.[6] At one point, he also claimed to be Adam of the Bible.[7]:135 He was excommunicated for apostasy in March 1847 and expelled from Winter Quarters.[8] 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.[6][8]

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.[6][8][9] A statement from Young to McCary in March 1847 suggested that race had nothing to do with priesthood eligibility,[2]: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.[8] Speaking of McCary, Pratt stated that because he was a descendant of Ham, he was cursed with regards to the priesthood.[2]:35

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.[10]

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]

During his time as church president in the 1950s, David O. 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.[11] 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.[12]


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".[13]

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.[2]: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.[2]: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.[2]: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."[14]

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."[15] In 1968, black members of the church who were baptized and found worthy were permitted to participate in doing baptismal work for the dead.[16]

Doctrinal reasoning for priesthood ban[edit]

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,[17] God puts a mark on Cain after he kills his brother Abel. 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 he 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.[18] 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."[19]

The curse of Cain is still taught in Old Testament student manual for LDS institute classes.[20]

Teachings regarding duration of racial bans[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.[13] 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."[21]

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."[22]

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."[23]

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,[24] 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.

The priesthood ban in later years[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.[1]: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.[25] 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.[26]:38[1]: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.[25]

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.[1]: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.[27]:30 One commentator has pointed out that these incidents illustrate the "ambiguities, contradictions, and paradoxes" of the issue during the twentieth century.[27]

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,[28] where Dr. Nelson questioned whether "there is no irrevocable church doctrine on this subject [of blacks and the priesthood]" the First Presidency stated:

"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"[29] and in 1953 published the article "Mormons and the Negro",[30] saying that "This was the first [time] the non-Mormon world knew of this policy, and it was widely publicized through the Negro press."[29]

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.[31] 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.[28] 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."[2]:100


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."[32]

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.[33][2]: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. [34]:31

On December 15, 1969, members of the First Presidency, Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner, released a First Presidency Statement, "The First Presidency on The Rights of The Negro" stating[35]

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.[36]: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.[37] 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.[38] 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.[39]

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."[40]

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."[41]

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.[42][2]: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.[43]

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."[44][2]: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."[45]:64[46]

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.[47]

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. [48][2]: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,[49] 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.[50]

1978 to present[edit]

MormonAd promoting racial equality in the church

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."[51] 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.[52]

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."[53]

Today, the church actively opposes racism among its membership. It is currently working to reach out to black people, and has several predominantly black wards inside the United States.[54] It teaches that all are invited to come unto Christ and it speaks against those who harbor ill feelings towards another race. In 2006, church president Gordon B. Hinckley said in a General Conference of the church that those who use racial slurs can not be called disciples of Christ.[2]:132-135

In the July 1992 edition of the New Era, the church published a MormonAd promoting racial equality in the church. The photo contained several youth of a variety of ethic backgrounds with the words "Family Photo" in large print. Underneath the picture are the words "God created the races—but not racism. We are all children of the same Father. Violence and hatred have no place in His family. (See Acts 10:34.)"[55]

In December 2013, the LDS Church published an essay on in an effort to explain the history of the church's stance on race and the priesthood as well as disavowing some of the theories advanced stating that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor.[56]

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."[57]

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."[58]

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."[59] 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.[60]

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."[57] 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."[61][2]:134

Speculation on rationale for racial restrictions[edit]

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.[62] 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".[36]:93

Another speculated reason for racial restriction was called "Mormon karma" by Colin Kidd, and refers to the idea that skin color is perceived as evidence of righteousness (or lack thereof) in the premortal existence.[63]: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?'"[64] This idea is based on the opinions of several prominent church leaders, including apostle 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.[63]: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.[36]:93 According to religious historian Craig Prentiss,[65] the appeal to premortal existence was confirmed as doctrine through statements of the LDS First Presidency in 1949[66] and 1969.[67]

Church leadership officially cited various reasons for the doctrinal ban,[2]:66 but later leaders have since repudiated them.[2]:132-135[68][69][70][71][32] In 2014, the LDS Church issued an official statement about past racist practices and theories: "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."[72][2]:140

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."[73][74]

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.[75]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c d e W. Kesler Jackson. Elijah Abel: The Life and Times of a Black Priesthood Holder. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Harris, Matthew L.; Bringhurst, Newell G. (2015). The Mormon Church and Blacks. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-08121-7. 
  3. ^ 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
  4. ^ "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]
  5. ^ "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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Bush, Lester E.; Mauss, Armand L. (1984). Neither White nor Black. Midvale, Utah: Signature Books. ISBN 0-941214-22-2. 
  8. ^ a b c d Newell G. Bringhurst (1981). Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press).
  9. ^ Connell O'Donovan, "The Mormon Priesthood Ban & Elder Q. Walker Lewis: 'An example for his more whiter brethren to follow', John Whitmer Historical Association Journal, 2006.
  10. ^ 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." Life History of Jane Elizabeth Manning James as transcribed by Elizabeth J.D. Round
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ a b Ostling, Richard, and Joan K. Ostling (2007). Mormon America: The Power and the Promise. New York: HarperCollins. p. 102. ISBN 978-0061432958. 
  14. ^ Stewart, John J. (1960). Mormonism and the Negro. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookmark. OCLC 731385. . Complete text
  15. ^ Chapter 41: Temple Ordinances, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 1997) p. 299.
  16. ^ 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. 
  17. ^ Genesis 4:9-15
  18. ^ 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. 
  19. ^ 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)
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ 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
  22. ^ LOOK, Oct. 22, 1963, p. 79
  23. ^ 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 
  24. ^ Tanner, Jerald and Sandra Curse of Cain
  25. ^ a b Bush & Mauss 1984: 76-86
  26. ^ Newell G. Bringhurst, Darron T. Smith. Black and Mormon. 
  27. ^ 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. 
  28. ^ a b First Presidency Letter of the First Presidency Archived December 19, 2010, at the Wayback Machine. August 17, 1949
  29. ^ a b Taylor, Samuel W. (1993). "The Ordeal of Lowry Nelson and the Mis-spoken Word" (PDF). Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought. 26: 101. 
  30. ^ ""Mormons and the Negro" by Lowry Nelson, The Nation, May 24, 1952". 
  31. ^ 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. 
  32. ^ 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
  33. ^ Quinn, Michael D. The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power Salt Lake City: 1994 Signature Books Page 14
  34. ^ Mason, Patrick Q.; Turner, John G. (2016). Out of Obscurity: Mormonism since 1945. New York, New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-1-9935822-9. 
  35. ^ "The First Presidency on The Rights of The Negro". First Presidency Statement. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. December 15, 1969. 
  36. ^ 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. 
  37. ^ 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. 
  38. ^ "History of Genesis". The Genesis Group. The Genesis Group. Retrieved November 4, 2012. 
  39. ^ Lloyd, R. Scott (April 5, 1997). "Ruffin Bridgeforth, first black high priest, eulogized as a pioneer". Church News. Retrieved November 4, 2012. 
  40. ^ Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22; citing Goates, Harold B. Lee, 506, quoting UPI interview published November 16, 1972.
  41. ^ Kimball, Edward L. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball. Bookcraft. pp. 448–9. 
  42. ^ Mark L. Grover, "The Mormon Priesthood Revelation and the São Paulo Brazil Temple", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 23:39–53 (Spring 1990).
  43. ^ Official Declaration 2.
  44. ^ Priesthood, pp. 127-128, Deseret Book Co., 1981.
  45. ^ 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. 
  46. ^ Gordon B. Hinckley, "Priesthood Restoration", Ensign, October 1988.
  47. ^ Freeman, Joseph, Jr. (1979). In the Lord's Due Time. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-88494-382-2. 
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1979). The Changing World of Mormonism. Moody Press. pp. 319–328. ISBN 0-8024-1234-3. 
  50. ^ Ostling, Richard and Joan (1999). Mormon America. Harper Collins. p. 95. 
  51. ^ Page Johnson Alvin B. Jackson, Jr—The Bishop is Always In Archived July 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine. Meridian Magazine
  52. ^ Ken Kuykendall, Past racial issues and the Church today Mormon Century Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  53. ^ "Interview With President Gordon B Hinkley", Compass, ABC Television, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, November 9, 1997 
  54. ^ Wilcox, Lauren, "The Saints Go Marching In", Washington Post, May 13, 2007.
  55. ^ Diamond, Craig (July 1992). "Family Photo". New Era. 
  56. ^ Race and the Priesthood. (accessed December 6, 2013).
  57. ^ a b Ostling, Richard and Joan (1999). Mormon America. Harper Collins. pp. 103–104. ISBN 0-06-066371-5. 
  58. ^ Ostling, Richard and Joan (1999). Mormon America. Harper Collins. p. 105. ISBN 0-06-066371-5. 
  59. ^ Broadway, Bill (May 30, 1998). "Black Mormons Resist Apology Talk". Washington Post. 
  60. ^ Ramirez, Margaret (July 26, 2005). "Mormon past steeped in racism: Some black members want church to denounce racist doctrines". Chicago Tribune. 
  61. ^ Dallin H. Oaks, Interview with Associated Press, in Daily Herald, Provo, Utah, June 5, 1988.
  62. ^ Persuitte, David (2000). Joseph Smith and the Origins of the Book of Mormon. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 237. ISBN 978-0786408269. 
  63. ^ 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. 
  64. ^ 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. 
  65. ^ Prentiss, Craig (2003). Religion and the Creation of Race and Ethnicity: An Introduction. New York: NYU Press. p. 135. ISBN 978-0814767016. 
  66. ^ Bush, Jr., Lester, and Armand L. Mauss, 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 
  67. ^ Bush, Jr., Lester, and Armand L. Mauss, 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 
  68. ^ Nelson, Kimberly (February 28, 2012), BYU Professor makes controversial statements about Blacks & LDS Church, KTVX, retrieved March 8, 2013 
  69. ^ Mormon Black History Month -
  70. ^ Dallin H. Oaks (June 5, 1988), Interview with Associated Press, Daily Herald (Utah) 
  71. ^ Jeffrey R. Holland (March 4, 2006), The Mormons, PBS 
  72. ^ "Gospel Topics: Race and the Priesthood",, LDS Church 
  73. ^ Tad Walch, "LDS blacks, scholars cheer church's essay on priesthood", Deseret News, June 8, 2014
  74. ^ "Gospel Topics",, LDS Church  |contribution= ignored (help)
  75. ^ Nicole Warburton, "President Hinckley calls racism ugly and unacceptable'", Deseret news, April 2, 2006

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