A witness from God can be relied upon. As you read our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, we invite you to obtain a witness for yourself. If something we say or imply does not ring true, then you should feel no obligation to accept it. Life is an individual and unique journey with God. Although we can help and encourage each other, we need to be careful not to come between God and another person.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Some Things Said Just Ain’t So, Part 2

Racism and Priesthood for Blacks

Recently, the church has officially declared its current position regarding priesthood for blacks and racism. Here are portions of two statements that help reveal current Church doctrine regarding these issues:

The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form.

For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent.  It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago. Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The Church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding.

We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. Official Response

“The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. The Book of Mormon states, “black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). This is the Church’s official teaching.

People of all races have always been welcomed and baptized into the Church since its beginning. In fact, by the end of his life in 1844 Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opposed slavery. During this time some black males were ordained to the priesthood. At some point the Church stopped ordaining male members of African descent, although there were a few exceptions. It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended. Church leaders sought divine guidance regarding the issue and more than three decades ago extended the priesthood to all worthy male members. The Church immediately began ordaining members to priesthood offices wherever they attended throughout the world.

The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church. In 2006, then Church president Gordon B. Hinckley declared that “no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church. Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.”

Recently, the Church has also made the following statement on this subject:

“The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.” Official Statement 

If we accept current Church doctrine as truth, how do we regard Brigham Young and the words he spoke?

"In the preisthood I will tell you what it will do. Where the children of God to mingle there seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the preisthood upon themselves but they entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an ungaurded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, and kill man woman and child it would do a great deal towards atoneing for the sin. .. It is a great blessing to the seed of Adam to have the seed of Cain for servants. ...Let this Church which is called the kingdom of God on the earth; we will sommons the first presidency, the twelve, the high counsel, the Bishoprick, and all the elders of Isreal, suppose we summons them to apear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed, with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with with us and be pertakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day, and hour we should do so, the priesthood is taken from this Church and kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain the Church must go to desstruction..." (Address to the Legislature by LDS Church President and Territorial Governor Brigham Young, Feb. 5, 1852, spellings not corrected.)

"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, page 110)

How can we reconcile the words of John Taylor, 3rd President of the Church, with current Church doctrine?

"And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God;..." Journal of Discourses, Vol. 22, page 304

"Why is it, in fact, that we should have a devil? Why did not the Lord kill him long ago? . . . He needed the devil and great many of those who do his bidding just to keep . . . our dependence upon God, . . . When he destroyed the inhabitants of the antediluvian world, he suffered a descendant of Cain to come through the flood in order that he [the devil] might be properly represented upon the earth (Journal of Discourses,vol. 23, Oct. 29. 1882, p. 336).

Wilford Woodruff, 4th President of the Church, seems to advocate doctrine similar to what Brigham Young taught.

"And if any man mingle his seed with the seed of Cain the only way he could get rid of it or have Salvation would be to come forward and have his head cut off and spill his blood upon the ground- it would also take the life of his children."
(Wilford Woodruff Journal)

Do the words of Joseph Fielding Smith, 10th President of the Church, match what President Hinckley recently declared?

"Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race. A curse placed upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with a black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel. These are the descendants of Cain. Moreover, they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind from the beginning.... we will also hope that blessings may eventually be given to our negro brethren, for they are our brethren-children of God-not withstanding their black covering emblematical of eternal darkness. " The Way to Perfection, pages 101-102

"There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less." (Doctrines of Salvation, p. 61)

How does the doctrine taught by Apostle Bruce R. McConkie fit in to all this?

"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... 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 there from, but this inequality is not of man's origin. It is the Lord's doing, is based on his eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of Spiritual valiance of those concerned in their first estate." (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, pp. 527-528) 

After reading these disparaging remarks made by Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Bruce R. McConkie concerning those of another race (blacks), can these men be considered true disciples of Christ? Are these men considered to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church?

Here are a few recent statements of Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th President of the Church:

COMPASS: So in retrospect was the Church wrong in that [denying blacks the priesthood]?
HINCKLEY: No I don't think it was wrong. It, things, various things happened in different periods. There's a reason for them.
COMPASS: What was the reason for that?
HINCKLEY: I don't know what the reason was.
COMPASS: Is it a problem for the Church that it is still.. has a tag of being racist?
HINCKLEY: No, I don't think so. I don't see that anymore.

Mike Wallace: From 1830 to 1978, blacks could not become priests in the Mormon church. Right?
Gordon B. Hinckley: That's correct.
Mike Wallace: Why?
Gordon B. Hinckley: Because the leaders of the church at that time interpreted that doctrine that way. [cut]
Mike Wallace: Church policy had it that blacks had the mark of Cain. Brigham Young said, "Cain slew his brother, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin."
Gordon B. Hinckley: It's behind us. Look, that's behind us. Don't worry about those little flecks of history.
Mike Wallace: Skeptics will suggest, "Well, look, if we're going to expand, we can't keep the blacks out."
Gordon B. Hinckley: Pure speculation. [Laughs.]

Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ.  How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?

… Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such. The need for Greater Kindness

The Church publicly and unequivocally condemns both past and present racism. The Church’s official teaching is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone “black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God.” President Hinckley declared: “no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church.” If all this accurately reflects the present position of the Church; then how do we merge Church doctrine declared in the past with official Church doctrine today? When statements made by men we sustain as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators directly oppose and contradict each other, where do we stand?

To be continued . . .


  1. I guess if denying the black’s the priesthood was a true principle from the Lord, then Joseph Smith would have worded Article of Faith # 2 something like this…We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s transgressions unless you are of African descent then you will be punished for the sins of Cain. I don’t like to point fingers but I am bewildered, where did Brigham Young come up with some of the stuff he did?!

  2. The appropriate response would have been along the lines of, "We were wrong. Brigham Young changed the practice and he made a mistake. He was the product of a deeply prejudiced generation and could not condone black priesthood like Joseph seemed to."

    There is really nothing wrong with admitting one was wrong, or that the church was not and is not perfect - and that the men who led it (and still lead it) were prone to following their own ideas and prejudices, instead of what God was really desiring. The leaders are and were men. That's a fact. It's when we get into the present mindset, which is that no president of the church could ever do wrong or speak falsely (i.e. idolatry), that we get into trouble.

  3. You are right Toni, idolatry in the church does get us in trouble. As I have come to realize I had put my trust in man, until the Lord gave me multiple humbling experiences that lead me to open my eyes, repent and turn to Him. (I’m still a pathetic work in progress) I hope to be able to stand with Nephi at the judgment bar (2 Nephi 33:11) and proclaim that I understood and tried to live the words of Christ.
    Nephi’s multiple warnings in chapter 28 2Nephi are rather chilling and I take them to heart.


Thank you for posting