Black people and Mormonism

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From the mid-1800s until 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) had a policy which prevented most men of black African descent from being ordained to the church's lay priesthood.[1]:213 Black members were also not permitted to participate in most temple ordinances.[2]:198 These beliefs influenced views on civil rights.[3]:75 The priesthood of other Mormon denominations, such as the Community of Christ, Bickertonite and Strangite, have always been open to persons of all races.[4][5]

After Joseph Smith's death, Brigham Young taught that black suffrage went against church doctrine, that God had taken away the rights for blacks to hold public office, and that God would curse whites who married blacks.[3]:39 These views were criticized by abolitionists of the day.[6] Young did teach that the ban on blacks would one day be lifted. He also stated that black church members would one day receive the priesthood and its blessings, but only after this life when the other saints would receive similar blessings.[3]:66 He was instrumental in officially legalizing slavery in Utah territory, teaching that the doctrine of slavery was connected to the priesthood ban.[7]

Though the church had an open membership policy for all races, they avoided opening missions in areas with large black populations and discouraged people with black ancestry from investigating the church.[8]:27[9]:76 Relatively few black people who joined the church retained active membership.[10]

In the 1960s, Mormon attitudes about race were generally close to those of other Americans.[11][12] Accordingly, before the civil rights movement, the LDS Church's doctrine-based policy went largely unnoticed and unchallenged[13][14] with the First Presidency stating in 1947 that the doctrine of the Church which banned interracial marriage and black people from entering the temple or receiving the priesthood was never questioned by any of the Church leaders.[15] Beginning in the 1960s, however, the church was criticized by civil rights advocates and religious groups, and in 1969 several church leaders voted to rescind the policy, but the vote was not unanimous among the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, so the policy stood.[3]:64 In 1978, the First Presidency and the Twelve, led by Spencer W. Kimball, declared they had received a revelation instructing them to reverse the racial restriction policy. The change seems to have been prompted at least in part by problems facing mixed race converts in Brazil.[3]:101–102 Today, the church opposes racism in any form and has no racial discrimination policy.[3]:132–135

In 1997, there were approximately 500,000 black members of the LDS Church, accounting for about five percent of the total membership; most black members live in Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean.[16]

As of the early 21st-century the fastest and most sustained growth experienced by the LDS Church is among black populations in West Africa, most especially Ivory Coast.

Before 1847[edit]

Jane Manning was an early African American member who was a servant[17] in Joseph Smith's household in Nauvoo and later followed Brigham Young to Utah Territory. She petitioned church leadership to allow her to obtain the endowment, but was repeatedly denied because of the ban.[18]:154

The Book of Mormon describes a series of conflicts between the light-skinned Nephites and the dark-skinned Lamanites. In The Book of Mormon, God inflicts a "curse" of dark skin on the Lamanites when they disobey him and become "white and delightsome" when they obey him.(2 Nephi 5:20-25; 2 Nephi 30:5-6)[3]:8 The Book of Mormon also preaches that Christ's atonement was for everyone, including women, slaves, and Blacks, and that the gospel should be preached to all.(2 Nephi 26:32-33)[3]:9

During the early years of the Latter Day Saint movement, black people were admitted to the church, and there was no record of any racial policies on denying priesthood privileges to worthy Latter Day Saint men. This is especially evident because at least two black men became priests: Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis.[19] When the Latter Day Saints migrated to Missouri, they encountered the pro-slavery sentiments of their neighbors. Joseph Smith upheld the laws regarding slaves and slaveholders, but remained abolitionist in his actions and doctrines.[20]:18-19

Teachings on the nature of black people[edit]

Teachings on black people and the pre-existence[edit]

One of the justifications that the LDS church used for the discriminatory policy was that black individual's pre-existence spirits were not as virtuous as white pre-existence spirits. This justification appeared as early as 1908 in a Liahona magazine article.[3]:56 The LDS church also used this explanation in their 1949 statement explicitly barring blacks from holding the priesthood.[3]:66 An address by Mark E. Peterson was widely circulated by BYU religion faculty in the 1950s and 60s and used the "less valiant in the pre-existence" explanation to justify segregation, a view which Lowell Bennion and Kendall White, among other members, heavily criticized.[3]:69

Some church leaders did not agree that black people were less valiant in the pre-existence. In a 1978 interview with Time Magazine, President Spencer W. Kimball stated that the LDS Church no longer held to the theory that those of African descent were any less valiant in the pre-earth life.[3]:134 Jeffrey R. Holland in a 2006 interview for the PBS documentary The Mormons stated that inaccurate racial "folklore" was invented to justify the priesthood ban, and that reasons for the previous ban are unknown.[3]:134 The LDS Church explicitly denounced any justification for the priesthood restriction based in views on events in the pre-mortal life in the "Race and the Priesthood" essay published in 2013.[21]

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 or exaltation within the celestial kingdom.[22] 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 Brigham Young University students that faithful black church members would enter the celestial kingdom and receive a celestial resurrection, but would be a servant.[23] 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."[24]

Several leaders, including Joseph Smith,[25] Brigham Young,[26] Wilford Woodruff,[27] George Albert Smith,[28] David O. McKay,[29] Joseph Fielding Smith,[30] and Harold B. Lee[31] 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) According to his son Joseph F. McConkie, certain scriptures played a great part in changing the policy.(3 Nephi 26:4-5)(Abraham 2:11)[32]

Curse of Cain and Ham[edit]

Joseph Smith and Brigham Young taught blacks were under the Curse of Ham.

According to the Bible, after Cain killed Abel, God cursed him and put a mark on him,(Genesis 4:8-15) although the Bible does not state the nature of the mark. In another biblical account, 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".(Genesis 9:20-27)

Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young referred to the curse to justify slavery.[33] In addition, Brigham Young used the curse to bar blacks from the priesthood, ban interracial marriages, and oppose black suffrage.[34]:70

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 used Moses 7:22 to show that Cain's descendants were black. 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 scriptureAbraham 1:25, could not have the priesthood, because Noah "cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood"Abraham 1:26.[3]:58

In 1931, Joseph Fielding Smith wrote on the same topic in The Way to Perfection: Short Discourses on Gospel Themes, generating controversy within and without Mormonism. For evidence that modern blacks were descended from Cain, Smith wrote that "it is generally believed that" Cain's curse was continued through his descendants and through Ham's wife. Smith states that "some of the brethren who were associate with Joseph Smith have declared that he taught this doctrine." General authorities in the LDS church favored Smith's explanation until it was officially repudiated in 2013.[3]:59 The Old Testament student manual, which is published by the Church and is the manual currently used to teach the Old Testament in LDS Institutes, teaches that Canaan could not hold the priesthood because of his race.[35]


The first known slaves to enter the Utah Territory came west with the congregations of Mississippi. One of the first three slaves was Green Flake who was considered to be property of the church.[36] More slaves arrived as property of members in later companies. By 1850, 100 blacks had arrived, the majority of whom were slaves.[37] There are several stories recounting the escape of slaves during the trek west. Some escaped during the night in large groups, while others escaped with the help of the Underground Railroad.[38][39][40][41]:39

After the pioneers arrived in Utah, they continued to buy and sell slaves as property. Many prominent members of the church were slave owners, including William H. Hooper, Abraham O. Smoot, and Charles C. Rich.[3]:33 Church members would use their slaves as tithing, both lending out their slaves to work for the church[42] as well as giving their slaves to the church.[36][41]:34 Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball used the slave labor that had been donated as tithing and then eventually granted their freedom.[36][41]:52 The church opposed slaves who wanted to escape their masters.[43][44]:268

Statements from church leaders[edit]

In 1835, the Church issued an official statement that, because the United States government allowed slavery, the Church would not "interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men."[20] This was later adopted as official scripture.(D&C Section 134:12) In 1836, Joseph Smith taught that slavery was ordained of God, and that men who tried to free the slaves were going against God.[20]:14 However, in the years that followed, Smith began to change his position. After he had moved to free-state Illinois in 1842, Smith incorporated his strong anti-slavery position into his political platform when he ran for president.[45]:76[20]:19

Because of slave owners who were converting to the church in Missouri, there was much confusion regarding the church's position on slavery. These same feelings arose during the migration to Utah. In 1851, apostle Orson Hyde made a statement that helped to clear up any confusion. He went on to say that there was no law in Utah prohibiting or authorizing slavery and that the decisions on the topic were to remain between slaves and their masters. He also clarified that individuals' choices on the matter were not in any way a reflection of the church as a whole or its doctrine.[46]:2

Brigham Young taught that slavery was "of Divine institution, and not to be abolished until the curse pronounced on Ham shall have been removed from his descendants."[3]:40 Like many Christians of the day, he believed in the Curse of Cain and Curse of Ham and taught that God had decreed that blacks should remain servants of servants[33] and that they were incapable of rising above the position of a servant. It was therefore up to slave owner to treat them kindly.[47]

Utah Territory (1850)

In Utah Territory[edit]

After the Compromise of 1850 allowed California into the Union as a free state while permitting Utah and New Mexico territories the option of deciding the issue by popular sovereignty, the Utah Territorial Legislature took up the issue of legalizing slavery. At that time, Brigham Young was governor, and the Utah Territorial Legislature was dominated by church leaders.[48] In 1852, Brigham Young addressed the joint session of the legislature advocating slavery. He made the matter religious by declaring that if members of the church believe in the Bible and the priesthood then they should also believe in slavery.[7] Following the speech, the Utah Legislature passed an Act in Relation to Service, which officially sanctioned slavery in Utah Territory.[37] The Utah slavery law stipulated that slaves would be freed if their masters had sexual relations with them; attempted to take them from the territory against their will; or neglected to feed, clothe, or provide shelter to them. In addition, the law stipulated that slaves must receive schooling.[3]:33

Utah was the only western state or territory that had slaves in 1850,[49] but slavery was never important economically in Utah, and there were fewer than 100 slaves in the territory.[13] In 1860, the census showed that 29 of the 59 black people in Utah Territory were slaves. When the American Civil War broke out in 1861, Utah sided with the Union, and slavery ended in 1862 when the United States Congress abolished slavery in the Utah Territory.[2][38]

Biddy Mason was one of 14 blacks who sued for their freedom after being illegally held captive in San Bernardino

In San Bernardino[edit]

In 1851, a company of 437 Mormons under direction of Elders Amasa M. Lyman and Charles C. Rich of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles settled at what is now San Bernardino. This first company took 26 slaves,[50] and more slaves were brought over as San Bernardino continued to grow.[51] Since California was a free state, the slaves should have been freed when they entered. However, slavery was openly tolerated in San Bernardino.[52] Many wanted to be free,[53] but were still under the control of their masters and ignorant of the laws and their rights. Judge Benjamin Hayes freed 14 slaves who had belonged to Robert Smith.[54] Other slaves were freed by their masters.[50]

Interracial marriages and interracial sexual relations[edit]

U.S States, by the date of repeal of anti-miscegenation laws:
  No laws passed
  Repealed before 1887
  Repealed from 1948 to 1967
  Overturned on June 12, 1967[55]

The church's stance against interracial marriage held consistent for over a century while attitudes towards black people and the priesthood, slavery, or equal rights saw considerable changes. Nearly every decade beginning with the church's formation until the '70s saw some denunciation against miscegenation. Church leaders' views stemmed from the priesthood policy and racist “biological and social” principles of the time.[34]:89-90[20]:42-43

One of the first times that anti-miscegenation feelings were mentioned by church leaders, occurred 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".[56][2][34]:59[57]

Joseph Smith opposed interracial marriages.[58] He once indicated that he felt that black peoples should be "confined by strict law to their own species," which some have said directly opposes Smith's advocacy for all other civil rights.[3]:98 In Nauvoo, it was against the law for black men to marry whites, and Joseph Smith fined two black men for violating his probation of intermarriage between blacks and whites.[59]

During a sermon criticizing the federal government, church president Brigham Young said, "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."[3]:43[60]:54

During the 19th century the Utah legislature passed Act in Relation to Service which carried penalties for whites who had sexual relations with blacks. The day after it passed, Young explained that that if someone mixes their seed with the seed of Cain, that both they and their children will have the Curse of Cain. He then prophesied that if the Church were to ever say that it was okay to intermarry with blacks, that the Church would go on to destruction and the priesthood would be taken away.[61] The seed of Cain generally referred to those with dark skin who were of African descent.[3]:12 Church members were particularly concerned with sexual contact between black men and white women.[59]

First Presidency member J. Reuben Clark told Young Women's general leaders in 1946 that, "It is sought today in certain quarters to break down all race prejudice, and at the end of the road ... is intermarriage. ...[D]o not ever let that wicked virus get into your systems that brotherhood either permits or entitles you to mix races which are inconsistent."[20]:66 The quote was reprinted in the church's official Improvement Era magazine (a predecessor to the current Ensign magazine).[62] The next year, the First Presidency under George Albert Smith sent a response letter on May 5 to Virgil H. Sponberg stating, "Social intercourse between the Whites and the Negroes should certainly not be encouraged because of leading to intermarriage, which the Lord has forbidden. ... [T]rying to break down social barriers between the Whites and the Blacks is [a move] that should not be encouraged because inevitably it means the mixing of the races if carried to its logical conclusion."[34]:89[20]:42 In another letter a few months later the First Presidency informed professor Lowry Nelson that "[I]t 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. ... 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 from the ancient patriarchs until now .... [Interracial marriage] does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.”[63][64][65][20]:67

Church apostle Mark E. Petersen, who was often said to have an extreme position with regards to the priesthood ban,[3]:68–69 said in 1954: "I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a cafe where white people eat. He isn't just trying to ride on the same streetcar ... it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it."[66]

In 1958, church apostle Bruce McConkie published "Mormon Doctrine" in which he stated that "the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry."[3]:73 The quote remained through all editions until the church's Deseret Book ceased printing the book in 2010.[67]

Utah's anti-miscegenation law was repealed in 1963 by the Utah state legislature.[2]:258 In 1967, the Supreme Court ruling on the case of Loving v. Virginia determined that any prohibition of interracial marriages in the United States was unconstitutional.[68]

In a 1965 address to BYU students, apostle Spencer W. Kimball told BYU students: "Now, the brethren feel that it is not the wisest thing to cross racial lines in dating and marrying. There is no condemnation. We have had some of our fine young people who have crossed the lines. We hope they will be very happy, but experience of the brethren through a hundred years has proved to us that marriage is a very difficult thing under any circumstances and the difficulty increases in interrace marriages."[69] A church lesson manual for boys 12–13 (Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3), published in 1995, contains a 1976 quote from Spencer W. Kimball that recommended the practice of marrying others of similar racial, economic, social, educational, and religious backgrounds.[70][71] In 2003, the church published the Eternal Marriage Student Manual, which uses the same quote.[72]

The official newspaper of the LDS Church,[73] the Church News, printed an article entitled "Interracial marriage discouraged". This article was printed on June 17, 1978, in the same issue that announced the policy reversal for blacks and the priesthood.

There was no written church policy on interracial marriages, which had been permitted since before the 1978 Revelation on the Priesthood.[69] In 1978, church spokesman Don LeFevre said, "So there is no ban on interracial marriage. If a black partner contemplating marriage is worthy of going to the Temple, nobody's going to stop him ... if he's ready to go to the Temple, obviously he may go with the blessings of the church."[74]

Speaking on behalf of the church, Robert Millet wrote in 2003: "[T]he Church Handbook of Instructions ... is the guide for all Church leaders on doctrine and practice. There is, in fact, no mention whatsoever in this handbook concerning interracial marriages. In addition, having served as a Church leader for almost 30 years, I can also certify that I have never received official verbal instructions condemning marriages between black and white members."[75]

Black suffrage[edit]

As in other places in Illinois, only free white males could vote in Nauvoo.[59]

When Utah territory was created, suffrage was only granted to free white males.[76] At that time, only a few states had allowed black suffrage. Brigham Young explained that this was connected to the priesthood ban. He argued that "If Africans cannot bear rule in the Church of God, what business have they to bear rule in the State and government affairs of this Territory or any other?" He said they had no right and he would not consent that the "children of Cain" rule over him. He argued that the attempt to grant black suffrage was part of a larger attempt to make black equal to whites, which would bring a curse.[3]:39

On January 10, 1867, Congress passed the Territorial Suffrage Act, which prohibited denying suffrage based on race or previous condition of servitude, which nullified Utah's ban on black suffrage.[77]

Other racial discrimination[edit]

Between the 19th and mid-20th centuries, some Mormons held racist views, and exclusion from priesthood was not the only discrimination practiced toward black people. With Joseph Smith as the mayor of Nauvoo, blacks were prohibited from holding office or joining the Nauvoo Legion.[59] Brigham Young taught that equality efforts were misguided, claiming that those who fought for equality among blacks were trying to elevate them "to an equality with those whom Nature and Nature's God has indicated to be their masters, their superiors", but that instead they should "observe the law of natural affection for our kind."[78]

The First Presidency under Heber J. Grant sent a letter to then Stake President Ezra Benson in Washington D.C. advising that if two black Mormon women were "discreetly approached" they would be happy sit in the back or side so as not to upset some white women who had complained about sitting near them in relief society.[20]:43 In the 1950s, the San Francisco mission office took legal action to prevent black families from moving into the church neighborhood.[79] In 1965, a black man living in Salt Lake City, Daily Oliver, described how—as a boy—he was excluded from an LDS-led boy scout troop because they did not want blacks in their building.[80] LDS Church apostle Mark E. Petersen describes a black family that tried to join the LDS Church: "[some white church members] went to the Branch President, and said that either the [black] family must leave, or they would all leave. The Branch President ruled that [the black family] could not come to church meetings."[66]

Until the 1970s, hospitals with connections to the LDS Church, including LDS Hospital, Primary Children's and Cottonwood Hospitals in Salt Lake City, McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, and Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, kept separate the blood donated by blacks and whites, and even after the church's volte face in 1978 patients who expressed concern about receiving blood from black donors were given reassurance from hospital authorities that this would not happen.[81]

Instances of discrimination after 1978 revelation[edit]

LDS historian Wayne J. Embry interviewed several black LDS Church members in 1987 and reported that "all of the interviewees reported incidents of aloofness on the part of white members, a reluctance or a refusal to shake hands with them or sit by them, and racist comments made to them." Embry further reported that one black church member "was amazingly persistent in attending Mormon services for three years when, by her report, no one would speak to her." Embry reports that "she [the same black church member] had to write directly to the president of the LDS Church to find out how to be baptized" because none of her fellow church members would tell her.[82]:371

Black LDS Church member Darron Smith wrote in 2003: "Even though the priesthood ban was repealed in 1978, the discourse that constructs what blackness means is still very much intact today. Under the direction of President Spencer W. Kimball, the First Presidency and the Twelve removed the policy that denied black people the priesthood but did very little to disrupt the multiple discourses that had fostered the policy in the first place. Hence there are Church members today who continue to summon and teach at every level of Church education the racial discourse that black people are descendants of Cain, that they merited lesser earthly privilege because they were "fence-sitters" in the War in Heaven, and that, science and climatic factors aside, there is a link between skin color and righteousness".[83]

In 2007, journalist and church member, Peggy Fletcher Stack, wrote, "Today, many black Mormons report subtle differences in the way they are treated, as if they are not full members but a separate group. A few even have been called 'the n-word' at church and in the hallowed halls of the temple. They look in vain at photos of Mormon general authorities, hoping to see their own faces reflected there.[84]

White church member Eugene England, a professor at Brigham Young University, wrote in 1998:

This is a good time to remind ourselves that most Mormons are still in denial about the ban, unwilling to talk in Church settings about it, and that some Mormons still believe that Blacks were cursed by descent from Cain through Ham. Even more believe that Blacks, as well as other non-white people, come color-coded into the world, their lineage and even their class a direct indication of failures in a previous life ... I check occasionally in classes at BYU and find that still, twenty years after the revelation, a majority of bright, well-educated Mormon students say they believe that Blacks are descendants of Cain and Ham and thereby cursed and that skin color is an indication of righteousness in the premortal life. They tell me these ideas came from their parents or Seminary and Sunday School teachers, and they have never questioned them. They seem largely untroubled by the implicit contradiction to basic gospel teachings.[85]

In an interview for the PBS documentary The Mormons, Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, specifically denounced the perpetuation of folklore suggesting that race was in any way an indication of how faithful a person had been in the premortal existence.[86][87]:60

Civil rights movement[edit]

In 1958, apostle Joseph Fielding Smith published Answers to Gospel Questions, which stated that "no church or other organization is more insistent than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that the negroes should receive all the rights and privileges that can possibly be given to any other in the true sense of equality as declared in the Declaration of Independence." He went on to say that negroes should not be barred from any type of employment or education, and should be free "to make their lives as happy as it is possible without interference from white men, labor unions, or from any other source."[88] In the 1963 church General Conference, apostle Hugh B. Brown stated: "It is a moral evil for any person or group of persons to deny any human being the rights to gainful employment, to full educational opportunity, and to every privilege of citizenship". He continued: "We call upon all men everywhere, both within and outside the church, to commit themselves to the establishment of full civil equality for all of God's children. Anything less than this defeats our high ideal of the brotherhood of man."[88]

In the 1960s, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) attempted to convince LDS Church leaders to support civil rights legislation and to reverse its practices in relation to African American priesthood holding and temple attendance during the Civil Rights era. In early 1963, NAACP leadership attempted to arrange meetings with church leadership, but were rebuffed in their efforts.[79] Later, before the October 1963 General Conference, N. Eldon Tanner and Hugh B. Brown, the two counselors to David O. McKay in the First Presidency, met with the head of the Utah NAACP. During the ensuing General Conference, Brown issued a statement in support of civil rights legislation and made it sound as if it reflected the views of the entire First Presidency, but it was not technically an "official pronouncement of the First Presidency."[3]

In 1965, the church leadership met with the NAACP, and agreed to publish an editorial in church-owned newspaper the Deseret News, which would support civil rights legislation pending in the Utah legislature. The church failed to follow-through on the commitment, and Tanner explained, "We have decided to remain silent".[79]

In March 1965, the NAACP led an anti-discrimination march in Salt Lake City, protesting church policies.[79] In 1966, the NAACP issued a statement criticizing the church, saying the church "[had] maintained a rigid and continuous segregation stand" and that the church had made "no effort to counteract the widespread discriminatory practices in education, in housing, in employment, and other areas of life."[89] However, in a study covering 1972 to 1996, church membership has been shown to have lower rates of approval of segregation than the national norm, as well as a faster decline in approval over the periods covered, both with statistical significance.[90]:94–97

In the October 1967 General Conference Apostle Ezra Benson declared "There is no doubt that the so-called civil rights movement as it exists today is used as a Communist program for revolution in America" and that it was led by mostly white male Communists who want to "destroy America by spilling Negro blood". He also stated that accusing law enforcement of "police brutality" against black people should be recognized as attempts to discredit and discourage law enforcement.[91] His talk was re-published the next year by the church's Deseret Book as a pamphlet titled "Civil Rights: Tool of Communist Deception".[92]

During the 1960s and 1970s, Mormons in the West were close to the national averages in racial attitudes.[13] In 1966, Armand Mauss surveyed Mormons on racial attitudes and discriminatory practices. He found that "Mormons resembled the rather 'moderate' denominations (such as Presbyterian, Congregational, Episcopalian), rather than the 'fundamentalists' or the sects."[93] Negative racial attitudes within Mormonism varied inversely with education, occupation, community size of origin, and youth, reflecting the national trend. Urban Mormons with a more orthodox view of Mormonism tended to be more tolerant.[93]

African-American athletes protested against LDS Church policies by boycotting several sporting events with Brigham Young University. In 1968, after the assassination of Martin Luther King, black members of the UTEP track team approached their coach and expressed their desire not to compete against BYU in an upcoming meet. When the coach disregarded the athletes' complaint, the athletes boycotted the meet.[94] In 1969, 14 members of the University of Wyoming football team were removed from the team for planning to protest the policies of the LDS church.[94] In November 1969, Stanford University President Kenneth Pitzer suspended athletic relations with BYU.[95]

Since the early part of the 20th century, each ward of the LDS Church in the United States has organized its own Boy Scouting troop. Some LDS Church-sponsored troops permitted black youth to join, but a church policy required that the troop leader to be the deacons quorum president, which had the result of excluding black children from that role. The NAACP filed a federal lawsuit in 1974 challenging this practice, and soon thereafter the LDS Church reversed its policy.[96][1]

There were some LDS Church members who protested against the church's discriminatory practices. Three members, John Fitzgerald, Douglas A. Wallace, and Byron Marchant, were excommunicated by the LDS Church in 1973, 1976, and 1977 respectively, after criticizing the church's practices.[44]:345–346 Church members Grant Syphers and his wife objected to the church's racial policies and in a temple recommend renewal interview their San Francisco bishop said, "Anyone who could not accept the Church's stand on Negroes ... could not go to the temple." Their stake president agreed and they were denied the renewal.[97]

In the early 1970s, apostle Spencer W. Kimball began preaching against racism. In 1972, he said: "Intolerance by church members is despicable. A special problem exists with respect to black people because they may not now receive the priesthood. Some members of the Church would justify their own un-Christian discrimination against black people because of that rule with respect to the priesthood, but while this restriction has been imposed by the Lord, it is not for us to add burdens upon the shoulders of our black brethren. They who have received Christ in faith through authoritative baptism are heirs to the celestial kingdom along with men of all other races. And those who remain faithful to the end may expect that God may finally grant them all blessings they have merited through their righteousness. Such matters are in the Lord's hands. It is for us to extend our love to all."[98]

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.[99]

Racial discrimination policy under Brigham Young[edit]

After Smith's death in 1844, Brigham Young became president of the main body of the church and led the Mormon pioneers to what would become the Utah Territory. Like many Americans at the time, Young (who was also the territorial governor) promoted discriminatory views about black people.[13] On January 16, 1852, Young made a pronouncement to the Utah Territorial Legislature, stating that "any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] ... in him [could not] hold the priesthood."[34]:70

While Brigham Young opposed slavery, he was willing to tolerate it temporarily.[100] Young subscribed to what was a common American view at the time: that black people were naturally inferior.[101] Young attributed this to a divine curse placed on the lineage of Cain, and interpreted it to mean that Africans and their descendants could not be ordained to the priesthood. However, he rejected the teachings of contemporary Mormons including Orson Pratt, that Africans were cursed because they had been less valiant in a premortal life.[102] Young also stated that the curse would one day be lifted and that black people would be able to receive the priesthood post-mortally.[3]:66 As recorded in the Journal of Discourses, Young taught that blacks were to be "servants of servants" because of the curse placed on their forefathers. He also stated that it was a law under heaven and it was not the church's place to change God's law.[103]:172[104]:290


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. 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 they could not enjoy the full privileges enjoyed by other Latter-day Saints during the restriction.[3]:164

Celestial marriage and exaltation[edit]

A celestial marriage is considered unnecessary to gain access into the celestial kingdom, but it is required to obtain a fullness of glory or exaltation within the celestial kingdom.[105]

Mormon scripture teaches that 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) 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. This idea was mentioned by apostle Mark E. Petersen in 1954 when he told Brigham Young University students that faithful black church members would enter the celestial kingdom and receive a celestial resurrection, but would be servants.[66]

Several leaders, including Joseph Smith,[106] Brigham Young,[26] Wilford Woodruff,[107] George Albert Smith,[108] David O. McKay,[29] Joseph Fielding Smith,[109] and Harold B. Lee[31] taught that black people would eventually be able to receive a fullness of glory in the celestial kingdom.[110]

When the priesthood ban was discussed in 1978, apostle Bruce R. McConkie argued for its change using Mormon scriptures 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). According to McConkie's son Joseph Fielding McConkie, the highlighting of certain scriptures played a role in changing the policy.(Abraham 2:11)(3 Nephi 26:4-5)[32]

End of the priesthood ban[edit]

On June 8, 1978, the First Presidency of the LDS church released an official declaration which would allow "all worthy male members of the church [to] be ordained to the priesthood without regard to race or color."[111] There were many factors that led-up to the publication of this declaration: trouble from the NAACP because of priesthood inequality,[79] the announcement of the first LDS temple in Brazil,[112] and other pressures from members and leaders of the church.[113]:94–95 Efforts by the Internal Revenue Service, begun in 1970, to revoke the tax exemption of racially discriminatory religious and charitable organizations may have influenced the decision as well.

According to the accounts of several of those present, while praying in the Salt Lake Temple, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles received the revelation relating to the lifting of the priesthood ban. Bruce R. McConkie wrote that all present "received the same message" and were then able to understand "the will of the Lord."[114][3]:116

Proselytization efforts[edit]

The first statement regarding proselyting towards blacks was about slaves. In 1835, the Church issued an official statement that the Church would not "interfere with bond-servants, neither preach the gospel to, nor baptize them contrary to the will and wish of their masters, nor meddle with or influence them in the least to cause them to be dissatisfied with their situations in this life, thereby jeopardizing the lives of men."[20] This was later adopted as scripture.(D&C Section 134:12) This policy was changed in 1836, when Smith wrote that slaves should not be taught the gospel at all until after their masters were converted.[20]:14

Until 1978, the church did not actively proselyte to the black community. In Africa, there were only active missionaries among whites in South Africa. Blacks in South Africa who requested baptism were told that the church was not working among the blacks.[9]:76

In the South Pacific, the church avoiding missionary work among the people of Fiji because they resembled black Africans. This was reversed in 1955 after the church issued a study to determine they were related to other Polynesian groups.[9]

In Brazil, missionaries originally taught in German, which was predominately spoken among whites. Beginning in the 1920s, after more Portuguese speaking Brazilians became interested, which had a high proportion of people with mixed ancestry, LDS officials advised missionaries 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. If during the course of the lessons, it was discovered they had black ancestry, they were discouraged from investigating the church.[8]:27 Despite the precautions, by the 40s and 50s 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 and thus deemed eligible for teaching.[3]:102[115] Bruce R. McConkie, an LDS apostle, justified the exclusion using the story of Enoch from the Pearl of Great Price. According to the narrative, Enoch had a vision where he was told not to proselyte to the Canaanites, who according to the account were black.[116]

After 1978, there were no restrictions against proselytizing to blacks. Shortly after, missionaries began entering areas of Africa that were more predominately black.

Black membership[edit]

Accra Ghana Temple, the second in Africa.

The church has never kept official records on the race of its membership, so exact numbers are unknown. Black people have been members of Mormon congregations since its foundation, but in 1964 its black membership was small, with about 300 to 400 black members worldwide.[117] In 1997, there were approximately 500,000 black members of the church (about 5% of the total membership), mostly in Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean.[118] Since then, black membership has grown, especially in West Africa, where two temples have been built,[119] doubling to about 1 million black members worldwide by 2008.[117]

After 1978 LDS Church growth in Brazil was "especially strong" among Afro-Brazilians, especially in cities such as Fortaleza and Recife along the northeast coast of the country.[120]

Regarding the LDS Church in Africa, professor Philip Jenkins noted in 2009 that LDS growth has been slower than that of other churches.[121]:2,12 He cited a variety of factors, including the fact that some European churches benefited from a long-standing colonial presence in Africa;[121]:19 the hesitance of the LDS church to expand missionary efforts into black Africa during the priesthood ban, resulting in "missions with white faces";[122]:19–20 the observation that the other churches largely made their original converts from native non-Christian populations, whereas Mormons often draw their converts from existing Christian communities.[121]:20–21 The church also has had special difficulties accommodating African cultural practices and worship styles, particularly polygamy, which has been renounced categorically by the LDS Church,[121]:21 but is still widely practiced in Africa.[123] Commenting that other denominations have largely abandoned trying to regulate the conduct of worship services in black African churches, Jenkins wrote that the LDS Church "is one of the very last churches of Western origin that still enforces Euro-American norms so strictly and that refuses to make any accommodation to local customs."[121]:23

By the 2010s, LDS Church growth was over 10% annually in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and some other countries in Africa. This was accompanied by some of the highest retention rates of converts anywhere in the church. At the same time, from 2009 to 2014, half of LDS converts in Europe were immigrants from Africa.[124]

In Ivory Coast LDS growth has gone from one family in 1984 to 40,000 people as of early 2017.[125][126] This growth lead to well over 30 congregations just in Abijan by the early 2010s.[127]

In the United States, researchers Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith, in their 2004 book Black and Mormon, wrote that since the 1980s "the number of African American Latter-day Saints does not appear to have grown significantly. Worse still, among those blacks who have joined, the average attrition rate appears to be extremely high." They cite a survey showing that the attrition rate among African American Mormons in two towns is estimated to be between 60 and 90 percent.[116]:7

According to the 2007 Pew Religion and Public Life survey, a survey that only studied adults, there are about 180,000 self-identified black members in the U.S., or 3% of the overall U.S. membership,[128][129] Also according to this 2007 survey 9% of LDS converts in the US were of black origin or descent, while almost no lifelong Mormons were black.[130]

In April 2017 the LDS Church announced plans to build a temple in Nairobi, Kenya bringing to 6 the temples planned or built in Africa outside South Africa.[131]

The LDS Church has made inroads among Black South Africans as well, starting especially with the baptism of Julia Mavimbela in Soweto in 1981[132] although there had been black South Africans baptized in significant numbers starting in 1978. In 2017 two South African men were called to serve as mission presidents, one of them Thabo Kula James Lebethoa, was the first Black South African called to serve as a mission president in South Africa,[133] although Jackson Mkabela had previously been called to serve as a mission president in Zimbabwe.

Humanitarian aid in Africa[edit]

The church has been involved in several humanitarian aid projects in Africa. On January 27, 1985, members across the world joined together in a fast for "the victims of famine and other causes resulting in hunger and privation among people of Africa." They also donated the money that would have been used for food during the fast to help those victims, regardless of church membership.[134][135]:1730–1 Together with other organizations such as UNICEF and the American Red Cross, the church is working towards eradicating measles. Since 1999, there has been a 60 percent drop in deaths from measles in Africa.[136] Due to the church's efforts, the American Red Cross gave the First Presidency the organization's highest financial support honor, the American Red Cross Circle of Humanitarians award.[137] The church has also been involved in humanitarian aid in Africa by sending food boxes,[138] digging wells to provide clean water,[139] distributing wheelchairs,[140] providing Neonatal Resuscitation Training,[141] and setting up employment resources service centers.[142]

Other Latter Day Saint groups' positions[edit]

Community of Christ[edit]

Joseph Smith III opposed slavery.

Joseph Smith III, son of Joseph Smith, founded the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1860, now known as the Community of Christ. Smith was a vocal advocate of abolishing the slave trade, and followed Owen Lovejoy, an anti-slavery congressman from Illinois, and Abraham Lincoln. He joined the Republican party and advocated for their antislavery politics. He rejected the fugitive slave law, and openly stated that he would assist slaves trying to escape.[143] While he was a strong opponent of slavery, he still viewed whites as superior to blacks, and held that they must not “sacrifice the dignity, honor and prestige that may be rightfully attached to the ruling races.”[144]

The priesthood has always been open to men of all races, and women since 1984. They reject the Pearl of Great Price, including the teachings on priesthood restrictions.[4]

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints[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."[145]


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.[146] In 1905, the church suspended an elder for opposing the full integration of all races.[147]

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."[148]

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".[147] Matthew Miller, an evangelist ordained in 1937, traveled throughout Canada establishing missions with Native Americans.[147]


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.[5]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b 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. 
  2. ^ a b c d 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. 
  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 Harris, Matthew L.; Bringhurst, Newell G. (2015). The Mormon Church and Blacks: A Documentary History. Chicago: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-08121-7. 
  4. ^ a b Faith and Beliefs Archived 2007-04-09 at the Wayback Machine., webpage, retrieved June 17, 2006
  5. ^ a b "African-Americans". Retrieved on 2007-10-18.
  6. ^ United States. Congress (1857). The Congressional Globe, Part 2. Blair & Rives. p. 287. 
  7. ^ a b Brigham Young (January 23, 1852). "We Must Believe in Slavery".  (see also The Complete Discourses of Brigham Young, ed. Richard S. Van Wagoner (Salt Lake City: Smith-Pettit Foundation, 2009), 1:473-74; The Teachings of President Brigham Young, Volume 3: 1852–1854, comp. and ed. Fred C. Collier (Salt Lake City: Collier's Publishing, 1987), 26–29.)
  8. ^ a b Grover, Mark. "Religious Accommodation in the Land of Racial Democracy: Mormon Priesthood and Black Brazilians" (PDF). Dialogue. Retrieved 20 April 2016. If at any point during the teaching process the missionaries had questions or found evidence indicating probable black lineage, they discouraged the person from continuing his or her investigation. 
  9. ^ a b c Gregory A. Prince, William Robert Wright. David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism. p. 80. 
  10. ^ Harris, Hamil R. (February 17, 2012). "Mindful of history, Mormon Church reaches out to minorities". Washington Post. Retrieved February 29, 2012. a period of more than 120 years during which black men were essentially barred from the priesthood and few Americans of color were active in the faith. 
  11. ^ Mauss (2003, pp. 219–227) (comparing 1960s survey responses of Mormons versus non-Mormons) "On the whole, Mormons were not very different from other Americans in holding rather conservative views on civil rights for blacks. On internal church questions, not all of the Saints were happy about the priesthood restriction, and many had serious doubts about other traditional teachings relating to black people. However, when pressure mounted from the outside, Mormons tended to defend their church out of loyalty, whatever their doubts."
  12. ^ Bringhurst, Newell G.; Smith, Darron T., eds. (2004). Black and Mormon. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press. p. 105. ISBN 0-252-02947-X. 
  13. ^ a b c d Mauss, Armand (2003). "The LDS Church and the Race Issue: A Study in Misplaced Apologetics". FAIR. 
  14. ^ Richard Bushman (2008). Mormonism: a very short introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 111. 
  15. ^ 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. [I]t 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. 
  16. ^ quoting Deseret News 1999–2000 Church Almanac. Deseret News: Salt Lake City, Utah (1998); p. 119. "A rough estimate would place the number of Church members with African roots at year-end 1997 at half a million, with about 100,000 each in Africa and the Caribbean, and another 300,000 in Brazil."
  17. ^ "Saints, Slaves, and Blacks" by Bringhurst. Table 8 on p.223
  18. ^ Coleman, Ronald G. (2008). "'Is There No Blessing For Me?': Jane Elizabeth Manning James, a Mormon African American Woman". In Taylor, Quintard; Moore, Shirley Ann Wilson. African American Women Confront the West, 1600–2000. Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 144–162. ISBN 978-0-8061-3979-1. Jane Elizabeth James never understood the continued denial of her church entitlements. Her autobiography reveals a stubborn adherence to her church even when it ignored her pleas. 
  19. ^ Mauss (2003, p. 213)
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Bush, Lester E. (1973). "Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview" (PDF). Dialogue. 8 (1). 
  21. ^ "Race and the Priesthood". 
  22. ^ 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)
  23. ^ Address at Convention of Teachers of Religion, BYU, Utah, August 27, 1954.
  24. ^ Elder George F. Richards, Conference Report, April 1939, p. 58.
  25. ^ 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
  26. ^ a b 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.
  27. ^ 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..
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ a b 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)
  30. ^ 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)
  31. ^ a b 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.)
  32. ^ a b Hallelujah! The 25th Anniversary of the Revelation of Priesthood Archived November 21, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  33. ^ a b Young, Brigham (1863). Wikisource link to Journal of Discourses/Volume 10/Necessity for Watchfulness, etc.. Wikisource. pp. 248–250. 
  34. ^ a b c d e 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. ^ 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. 
  36. ^ a b c Kristen Rogers-Iversen (September 2, 2007). "Utah settlers' black slaves caught in 'new wilderness'". The Salt Lake Tribune. 
  37. ^ a b John David Smith. Dictionary of Afro-American Slavery. 
  38. ^ a b "Brief History Alex Bankhead and Marinda Redd Bankhead (mention of Dr Pinney of Salem)". The Broad Ax. March 25, 1899. 
  39. ^ Press, The Church Historian’s. "John Hardison Redd - Pioneer Overland Travel". 
  40. ^ John Todd. Early Settlement and Growth of Western Iowa; Or, Reminiscences. pp. 134–137. 
  41. ^ a b c Don B. Williams. Slavery in Utah Territory: 1847–1865. 
  42. ^ Flake, Joel. "Green Flake: His Life and Legacy" (1999) [Textual Record]. Americana Collection, Box: BX 8670.1 .F5992f 1999, p. 8. Provo, Utah: L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University.
  43. ^ Brigham Young told Greeley: "If slaves are brought here by those who owned them in the states, we do not favor their escape from the service of their owners." (see Greeley, Overland Journey 211–212) quoted in Terry L. Givens, Philip L. Barlow. The Oxford Handbook of Mormonism. p. 383. 
  44. ^ a b Stevenson, Russell W. (2014). For the Cause of Righteousness. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books. ISBN 978-1-58958-529-4. 
  45. ^ W. Kesler Jackson. Elijah Abel: The Life and Times of a Black Priesthood Holder. 
  46. ^ Carter, Kate B. (1965). The Story of the Negro Pioneer. Salt Lake City, Utah: Daughters of Utah Pioneers. We feel it to be our duty to define our position in relation to the subject of slavery. There are several in the Valley of the Salt Lake from the Southern States, who have their slaves with them. There is no law in Utah to authorize slavery, neither any to prohibit it. If the slave is disposed to leave his master, no power exists there, either legal or moral, that will prevent him. But if the slave chooses to remain with his master, none are allowed to interfere between the master and the slave. All the slaves that are there appear to be perfectly contented and satisfied. When a man in the Southern states embraces our faith, the Church says to him, if your slaves wish to remain with you, and to go with you, put them not away; but if they choose to leave you, or are not satisfied to remain with you, it is for you to sell them, or let them go free, as your own conscience may direct you. The Church, on this point, assumes not the responsibility to direct. The laws of the land recognize slavery, we do not wish to oppose the laws of the country. If there is sin in selling a slave, let the individual who sells him bear that sin, and not the Church.Millennial Star, February 15, 1851. 
  47. ^ Young, Brigham (1863). Wikisource link to Journal of Discourses/Volume 10/Knowledge, Correctly Applied, the True Source of Wealth and Power, etc.. Wikisource. pp. 191. "In the providences of God their ability is such that they cannot rise above the position of a servant." 
  48. ^ Bigler, David L. (1998). Forgotten Kingdom: The Mormon Theocracy in the American West, 1847–1896. Arthur H. Clark Company. ISBN 0-87062-282-X. 
  49. ^ Negro Slaves in Utah by Jack Beller, Utah Historical Quarterly, vol. 2, no. 4, 1929, pp. 124–126
  50. ^ a b Nicholas R. Cataldo (1998). "Former Slave Played Major Role In San Bernardino's Early History:Lizzy Flake Rowan". City of San Bernardino. 
  51. ^ "The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star, Volume 17". p. 63. Most of those who take slaves there pass over with them in a little while to San Bernardino ... How many slaves are now held there they could not say, but the number relatively was by no means small. A single person had taken between forty and fifty, and many had gone in with smaller numbers. 
  52. ^ Mark Gutglueck. "Mormons Created And Then Abandoned San Bernardino". San Bernadino County Sentinel. 
  53. ^ Camille Gavin (2007). Biddy Mason: A Place of Her Own. America Star Books. 
  54. ^ Benjamin Hayes. "Mason v. Smith". none of the said persons of color can read and write, and are almost entirely ignorant of the laws of the state of California as well as those of the State of Texas, and of their rights 
  55. ^ Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, South Carolina and Alabama repealed their laws during the Reconstruction period, but the laws were later reinstated and remained in force until 1967.
  56. ^ 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. 
  58. ^ Whitaker, James R. Harrigan And Jason. "Op-ed: Civil law is not God's law, and that's a good thing". 
  59. ^ a b c d Kass Fleisher. Bear River Massacre and the Making of History. p. 28. 
  60. ^ Lund, John Lewis (1967). The Church and the Negro. Salt Lake City, Utah: Paramount Publishers. 
  61. ^ Young, Brigham (1987), Collier, Fred C., ed., The Teachings of President Brigham Young: Vol. 3 1852–1854, Salt Lake City, Utah: Colliers Publishing Company, ISBN 0-934964-01-7, OCLC 18192348, let my seed mingle with the seed of Cain, and that brings the curse upon me and upon my generations; we will reap the same rewards with Cain. In the priesthood I will tell you what it will do. Were the children of God to mingle their seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the priesthood upon themselves but they entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. 
  62. ^ Clark, J. Reuben (August 1946). "Plain Talk to Girls". Improvement Era. 49 (8): 492. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  63. ^ Abanes, Richard (1 May 2003). Abuse Your Illusions: The Disinformation Guide to Media Mirages and Establishment Lies - Mormon Racism. Disinformation Books. p. 341. ISBN 0971394245. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  64. ^ 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. 
  65. ^ "Lowry Nelson and First Presidency Letter Exchange". Utah State University, Merrill-Cazier Library, Special Collections and Archives Division. Retrieved 2 June 2017. 
  66. ^ a b c Race Problems — As They Affect The Church, Convention of Teachers of Religion on the College Level, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, August 27, 1954
  67. ^ Stack, Peggy Fletcher (21 May 2010). "Landmark 'Mormon Doctrine' goes out of print". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 2010-05-31. 
  68. ^ Coleman, Arica L. (4 November 2016). "The White and Black Worlds of Loving v. Virginia". Time Magazine. 
  69. ^ a b "Interracial Marriage Discouraged", Church News, June 17, 1978, p. 2.
  70. ^ Embry 1994, p. 169
  71. ^ "Lesson 31: Choosing an Eternal Companion". Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 1995. pp. 127–129. 
  72. ^ Eternal Marriage Student Manual. 2003. "We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question 
  73. ^ Paul T. Roberts (August 1983). "A History of the Development and Objectives of the LDS Church News Section of the Deseret News" (PDF). [Master's Thesis]. Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, Department of Communications: 7. Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  74. ^ Don LeFevre, Salt Lake Tribune, June 14, 1978.
  75. ^ Robert L. Millet, "Church Response to Jon Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven", June 27, 2003.
  76. ^ Acts, Resolutions, and Memorials Passed at the ... Annual, and Special Sessions, of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah. Brigham H. Young, Printers. 1866. p. 26. 
  77. ^ Congressional Globe, 39th Congress, 2nd Session, pp. 381–82 - See more at:
  78. ^ Utah. Legislative Assembly. Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Utah, of ... , Volume 1. pp. 109–110. 
  79. ^ a b c d e Glen W. Davidson, "Mormon Missionaries and the Race Question," The Christian Century, September 29, 1965, pp. 1183–86.
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