Blacks and the LDS/Mormon Priesthood

So I noticed that various LDS-related forums have threads on this topic, so I thought, why not?

As some may know, the LDS Church had what is referred to as a “priesthood restriction”, not ordaining black males to the priesthood until a revelation was received in 1978 ending that practice (a few were ordained during Joseph Smith’s time). Prior to 1978, blacks were also not allowed to go to the temple and receive the ordinances therein (i.e. Endowment and Sealing/Eternal Marriage), all of which are believed to be required ordinances to receive the highest blessings in the afterlife (i.e. exaltation).

Recently, the LDS Church put out an article in the Gospel Topics section of its site, “Race and the Priesthood”. In it, among other things, the LDS 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.” It also seems to point to the prior prophets and apostles being influenced by their times, though it doesn’t ever state where the actual ban came from (nor does it apologize for said ban).

As an African American, this was an issue that always bothered me, though, like other things, I put it up on the mental shelf. I simply couldn’t imagine being a member of the LDS Church during those times, especially when the various leaders said the things that they said. I couldn’t imagine wondering whether I did something wrong in the pre-mortal existence that led me to be denied the priesthood, as some LDS leaders taught. Now, when I was LDS and was asked about this, one thing I would always bring up, as the apologetic goes, is that in the past, God restricted His priesthood to a specific lineage, and all others were restricted from the priesthood, so there is a precedent (though it doesn’t address why black women were denied the ordinances of the temple). However, what I could never understand is why such a thing would happen after Jesus Christ, His ministry and atonement, Him commanding the disciples to go out and make disciples of all nations (it should be noted that the LDS Church during the priesthood/temple restriction did not send missionaries to Africa, and had an especially difficult time sorting things out in Brazil, which has a very ethnically mixed population), Him establishing His Kingdom for all, etc. If these ordinances (priesthood, endowment, sealing) are required for eternal life, then why would the Lord’s Church say that actually, sorry, you can’t receive them? When we think of the priesthood/temple restriction in the context of having the fulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, in the Church established by Jesus Christ, and Christ wanting us to make disciples of all nations, bringing all unto Him, it makes absolutely no sense, at least to me.

For me, really thinking about the priesthood/temple restriction made me really think about whether the LDS prophets are really the oracles of the Lord. Today, it is frequently said that the reason for the restriction is not known. However, it seems that earlier LDS leaders did know the reason. For example, one quote that will always stick in my head is this one, from a 1949 First Presidency statement:

"The attitude of the Church with reference to 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 First Presidency on the Negro Question, 17 Aug. 1949)

Apparently, the First Presidency had taught that the ban was due to a direct commandment from the Lord. Now, we don’t know where it came from. It was issues such as this that led me to ponder on whether the leaders really are who they are sustained to be.

Thank you for starting this thread, LW7. This was my #2 issue with the LDS church (the first being polygamy).

Honestly, I could never make sense of it because of St. Peter’s vision of the unclean animals. It was so clear that ALL were invited to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and that God is no respecter of persons.

Then I attended BYU where I learned the disgusting reasons (from early LDS prophets) why blacks were denied the priesthood. It also bothers me that the LDS church tries to ignore the ban as much as possible. They would do themselves a favor if they apologized for it rather than dance around the issue. You are correct in that when current LDS leaders deny knowing the reasons for the ban when LDS leaders at the time were very sure, it can cause one to think if their truth claims should even be considered.

The real sad thing about all this was that the main reason the ban was removed was financial. The same reason the polygamy ban was instituted. It appears the lds god makes a lot of decisions based on money.

Also the BYU football team was losing and they realized that they needed talented black players to compete then bam! God changes his mind, and BYU is a competitor again.

Blacks are now ordained to the Mormon priesthood. But are they only made aaronoic priests but not Melchesidik (sp) priests as well?

I’ve never met an unfriendly Mormon. They are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet. But their theology is way off.

Blacks can receive the Melchizedek priesthood too. I think there are even a handful of black General Authorities due to the growth in Africa.

“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.”
(ibid., 10:110; emphasis added)

Summary of the Curse of Cain Doctrine and Priesthood-Ban Policy     For 130 years (1848-1978), Mormon Church leaders taught the following:

*] All human spirits were born sons and daughters of God and one or more
of His wives, on the planet that God lives on, which is near a star named
Kolob (koe-lawb)
*] Adam and Eve were white people, living in the Garden of Eden in what is
now Jackson County, Missouri, who looked like Anglo-Saxons (like 19th
century Mormons).
*] Cain was a white man until he killed Abel, so God changed him into the
first Negro.
*] Also, the “seed of Cain” would also inherit his “cursed” and “mark” and al-
so they would be deprived of the Priesthood until the LORD removed the
Curse of Cain sometime after Abel was resurrected, had children, and all
of Abel’s male descendants received the Priesthood first, then the Curse
of Cain would be removed.
*] The Mark of Cain was a black skin, flat nose, and kinky hair. Cain, a white
man, is “changed” by the LORD instantly into the first Negro.
*] Cain married his sister, and she became the second Negro ever because
the Lord also “changed” her from a white Anglo-Saxon looking woman in-
to a Negro.
*] All the spirits who fought for Jesus against Lucifer in the War in Heaven,
before this Earth was formed, but who were “less valiant”–were punished
of intelligence", with “mis-shapen” and “ugly” bodies, and destined to be
“servants” of the white man, their superiors, until the Curse of Cain was
removed by the LORD sometime after the Millennium was over.
*] Canaan and his descendants went into Africa, and a few to India and
Australia and New Guinea.
*] All Negroes inherit the “Mark of Cain” which is a black skin, flat nose,
and kinky hair.
*] Negroes are banned from the Temple and the Priesthood until the Curse of Cain
is removed by the Lord sometime after the Millennium (1000 year reign of Christ
on Earth) is over.
This doctrine was known as The Curse of Cain Doctrine. Because of this
doctrine, all black Mormons, and anyone with “one drop of Negro blood”
was banned from the Mormon Temple and the Mormon priesthood. All
male Mormons over the age of 12 hold the Priesthood, and they must
have it in order to get into the highest heaven. All Mormons must be
“Endowed” and “Sealed” in a Mormon Temple in order to get into the
Celestial Kingdom (highest heaven). Without the priesthood and Temple
endowments and sealings, a Mormon male can, at best, become a sex-
less and eunuched “eternal servant” of the Gods in the Celestial Kingdom.


Also, LDS church wanted Utah to become a state. :shrug:

Which claimed “revelation” was that !!!

Such bad history for non Catholic sects moves me another step towards the Catholic faith.

Thank you for bringing us a flashback from the LDS history.

According to this link, they have an excuse in the historical context of slavery:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored amidst a highly contentious racial culture in which whites were afforded great privilege.”

Because, you know, the relationship between the Romans, the Jews and the other gentiles was not highly contentious at all…

Oh, not contentious at all. It was not a big deal at all when Cornelius was baptized or Timothy was made a bishop. :wink:

Those blatantly racist quotes from the LDS Church are making me very sad and angry. God the Father loves and created us all. He cannot be pleased with this discrimination. Welcome to all converts to the Catholic Church.

I thought they banned polygamy so Utah could become a state which has legal at that time. As soon as they had the revelation to bann polygamy, Utah was admitted into the Union.

The Supreme Court upheld the Edmunds-Tucker Act, which allowed the government to dis incorporate the church and seize almost all of its assets. The manifesto to end polygamy came 4 months later.

Similarly regarding blacks, the church was building a temple in Brazil where it was impossible to determine who was truly negro vs just dark-skinned. Also, BYU was about to be boycotted by other schools and Pres Carter was reportedly considering stripping the church of its tax exempt status due to its racist views. A “revelation” soon appeared ending the ban on blacks receiving the priesthood.

Funny thing, even after that manifesto, the man who wrote
it (Wilford Woodruff) was still a polygamist and a few other
following Mormon presidents.

Yep. That manifesto came in 1890 and I think polygamy continued until about 1911 - about 20 years afterward. Lies, deception, and manipulation…started with Joseph Smith, continued throughout the church’s history, and continues today.


but they also risked losing ownership of their holdings.

The Morrill Anti-Bigamy Act which was signed into law on July 8, 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln. The act banned plural marriage and limited church and non-profit ownership in any territory of the United States to $50,000. The act targeted the LDS Church ownership in the Utah Territory.

The Edmunds–Tucker Act of 1887disincorporated both the Church and the Perpetual Emigration Fund on the grounds that they fostered polygamy. It dissolved the corporation of the church and directed the confiscation by the federal government of all church properties valued over a limit of $50,000.

In 1890 the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the seizure of Church property under the Edmunds-Tucker Act in The Late Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints v. United States.

See? It was financial.

Why haven’t our lds posters posted anything? :rolleyes: Im sorry but this must be the dumbest church ever. Your leaders say one thing but lets change all that.

For me, I’m not so sure that an apology for the practice (meaning that it was wrong) would be welcome. That would have a whole host of implications, not the least of which includes wondering when the living prophets and apostles are functioning as such, since they instituted and continued this institutional practice (which affected the [potential] spiritual lives of people). On the other hand, I think that even this state of affairs, including the recent article, already calls into question the prophetic calling of their leaders (including the strength of official First Presidency letters and General Conference talks, where its said that we hear the inspired words of living prophets and apostles), at least on this matter.

This is why I don’t think the LDS Church will ever condemn the actual ban. Sure, they may condemn the various racist and horrible things that various prophets and apostles said. They can condemn the teachings that the ban was because of our supposed pre-mortal conduct. But they can never outright state that the ban itself was wrong and that they’re sorry for it.

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