LDS Church President Brigham Young encouraged Mormons to vote for Democrats, in part because the Republicans were vehemently anti-polygamy. RNS photo courtesy LDS Church.

Mormon Church: Justifications for black priesthood ban rooted in racism

LDS Church President Brigham Young encouraged Mormons to vote for Democrats, in part because the Republicans were vehemently anti-polygamy. RNS photo courtesy LDS Church.

LDS Church President Brigham Young, RNS photo courtesy of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

 This image is available for web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

SALT LAKE CITY (RNS) In the past, the LDS Church has said history isn’t clear on why blacks were banned from its all-male priesthood for more than a century.

Now it is.

The reason, according to a newly released explanation from the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is rooted in racism rather than revelation.

“Race and the Priesthood,” posted Friday on the church’s website,, also jettisons any beliefs developed through the years to defend the prohibition. And those findings are drawing praise from black Mormons and historians.

“Hallelujah,” said Catherine Stokes, a black Mormon who joined the LDS Church in Chicago and now lives in Utah. “I view this as a Christmas gift to each and every member of the church --  black, white or whatever ethnicity.”

The ban began under Brigham Young, second LDS president, who was influenced by common beliefs of the time, reports the article. It did not exist during the tenure of Mormon founder Joseph Smith, who opposed slavery and personally ordained several African-Americans.

The essay is part of an ongoing series of “gospel topics pages” published by the LDS Church to give Mormons resources for understanding complex issues such as whether Mormons are Christians and differing, sometimes-contradictory accounts of Smith’s early visionary experiences.

The church-produced article on race argues that “there is no evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.”

But the record clearly shows that, in 1852, Young -- Smith’s immediate successor --  “publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though thereafter blacks continued to join the church.”

More than 125 years later, in 1978, the LDS Church, under then-President Spencer W. Kimball, lifted the ban, but some Mormons have continued to promote theories used to defend the former exclusion --  “that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a pre-mortal 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.”

The new statement says the LDS Church “disavows the theories advanced in the past ... [and that ] church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”

Margaret Young, who teaches English at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University, believes all Mormons should carry a copy of the statement with them.

“Make three-by-five cards of Friday’s church statement on race. Edit carefully if you need to. Laminate it, and keep it handy -- in a purse or wallet,” Young wrote to her Facebook friends. “We are now empowered to answer folks who perpetuate old justifications for the priesthood restriction in ways they won’t argue with. We are the messengers to give wings to the statement.”

What is most important about the statement on race to Mormon historian Richard Bushman is its perspective.

“It is written as a historian might tell the story,” Bushman says from his home in New York, “not as a theological piece, trying to justify the practice.”

By depicting the exclusion as fitting with the common practices of the day, said Bushman, who wrote “Rough Stone Rolling,” a critically acclaimed biography of Smith, “it drains the ban of revelatory significance, makes it something that just grew up and, in time, had to be eliminated.”

But accepting that, Bushman said, “requires a deep reorientation of Mormon thinking.”

Mormons believe that their leaders are in regular communication with God, so if you say Young could make a serious error, he said, “it brings into question all of the prophet’s inspiration.”

Members need to recognize that God can “work through imperfect instruments,” Bushman said. “For many Latter-day Saints, that is going to be a difficult transition. But it is part of our maturation as a church.”

Some top Mormon leaders are already pushing in that direction.

“And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles or doctrine,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the faith’s governing First Presidency, said in October’s LDS General Conference. “I suppose the church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and his doctrine is pure. But he works through us -- his imperfect children -- and imperfect people make mistakes.”

While Mormons applaud the statement on race, some believe the church needs to go much further. Some want an apology; some just want wider awareness.

“The disavowal says to the church and to the world, ‘Everything we taught you justifying the restriction is wrong,’ ” said Marvin Perkins, a Los Angeles-based Mormon co-author of the DVD series, “Blacks in the Scriptures.” “But what would be ideal would be for every member to be as well-versed regarding the truths of the priesthood ban and scriptural truths regarding skin color and curses as they are with the Joseph Smith story and the First Vision. We need it repeated over and over in church curriculum in manuals and over the pulpit. That’s the way this will be resolved.”

Stokes, though, believes this latest step is worth celebrating.

Indeed, the website states, “in theology and practice, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces the universal human family. Latter-day Saint scripture and teachings affirm that God loves all of his children and makes salvation available to all.”

(Peggy Fletcher Stack writes for The Salt Lake Tribune.)



  1. Now that the LDS Church has spoken about its errors against those of African American ancestry, we look forward to the same consideration toward Native Americans. Much of the LDS religion looks at Natives as being “misguided” people whom the Church believes need to be “rescued”. That patronizing attitude has failed to recognize Natives as independent sovereign Nations. One example was the Mormon Indian Placement Program, which for decades tried to persuade Native parents to allow their child to live with a white Mormon couple as a means of wiping out Native tradition in favor of white society. Sure, some Indian people believe they received a chance from the LDS Church but others say that losing their identity was a terrible price to pay for survival. And the LDS Church needs to address their forced adoption and removal of Indian children as well.

  2. Our interpretations and opinions don’t matter. Facts matter. Is the Book of Mormon authentic or a hoax? You decide: youtube DOT com/watch?v=9ATGGwbll3c

  3. As a Mormon foster mother of 4 Navajo duaghters I beg to differ with your statements. My husband and I never adopted any of these girls. They came to live with us only during the school year and returned to their families during the summer. We invited them into our home so that they could have an opportunity to attend good schools. We hoped that our 8 children could learn from them while they stayed with us. The two girls that stayed with us the longest ( for 3 years each) are still in contact with us and consider us family as do we consider them.

  4. The LDS Church accepted and perpetrated Brigham Young’s racism as part of it’s culture, if not theology, for 125 years. I’d like to see a discussion on how many men and families were denied the full blessings and honor of the Priesthood because of this, and why the Leadership of the Church takes no responsibility for visiting this sin on generations of families for over a century. Saying ‘it wasn’t our fault, he was a racist’ throws Brigham under the bus, or the proverbial hand cart in this case, and calls into question all revelation and proclamations given since, well, the beginning. If Brigham Young was so fallible and his guidance so wrong, why would we assume any different from the others. When I hear the phrase in church meetings that ‘the Church is True’ I imagine ‘true’ to mean ‘straight’ like an arrow’s path, which never deviates – but clearly there is plenty of meandering with sharp lefts and hard rights and most of it, seemingly, based on social norms and not infallible, direct, simple, easy to understand direction from God.

  5. The convenience of Mormon leadership is that all previous leaders were “speaking as men” whenever they uttered anything that later turned out to be crap. In copping this unique ability to condemn dead leaders, however, Mormon leaders have to realize that they are only their own death away from “speaking as men” for the sometimes idiotic things that they say. Somehow, the church is always “perfect,” even when the men who run it turn out to be buffoons. I wonder how this can be? Just like Soylent Green is people, so is the Mormon church. There is no such thing as a disembodied “gospel” floating around in the ether that remains holy and true and doesn’t depend on men to interpret and enforce it.

    I was raised in the racist LDS church. Many of my childhood LDS friends are still stridently racist because they are good Mormons and that’s what we were instructed to be. Martin Luther King was a “Communist” and an enemy of all that American and Mormons stood for. That was crystal-clear. Medgar Evers reaped what he sowed. There was no doubt about that. That’s what we were taught, anyway. Blacks had “not kept their ‘First Estate,'” and would never hold the priesthood. Never-ever. And when the unwashed Philistines that were the American public demanded that we Mormons change–which was, like, every weekend during the late 1960s and early 1970s–the church would haul out its doctrine once again, and make sure that we got the proper priesthood lesson wherein we learned just how cursed the “Negro” was.The doctrine was “eternal and everlasting.” No Mormon leaders were scratching their heads over this and wondering if it was even doctrine or not, or who must have instigated it.

    So, okay: Let’s put the blame on scapegoat Brigham Young. He was a jerk, to be sure, and caused a lot of damage to the church, certainly. Good choice, Brethren. But what about John Taylor clear to Spencer Kimball, all of whom bought into and perpetuated the teaching? How is it not their fault every bit like it was Young’s fault? One thing we learn by this is that Mormon God and Mormon Jesus are fickle figures, insecure, and always worried about what people think of them and especially about their tax-free status on earth.

  6. Did they turn white? Spencer W. Kimball promised that “Lamanites” who accepted Mormonism and lived with whites would turn white.
    “The work is unfolding, and blinded eyes begin to see, and scattered people begin to gather. I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today as against that of only fifteen years ago. Truly the scales of darkness are falling from their eyes, and they are fast becoming a white and delightsome people.”

    “The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised (2 Ne. 30:6). In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos; five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. ”

    Mormonism is still full of such racist thought and belief.

  7. None of the information on that article about blacks and priesthood is new. As the church said, it’s all been said before. It’s now just all in one place. In fact, when I first read the article, I thought the press was mistaken and it wasn’t new at all, since I knew everything in it. I am Mormon and have been since a few years before the ban was lifted. I write a great deal about my church and I didn’t see a thing in the article I hadn’t been taught for decades.

    One thing I do know is that no one loses his salvation because of decisions beyond his control. That means that although it was a hardship in this life, it will not keep anyone who was not allowed to hold the priesthood from returning home to God. In fact, I think–my opinion only–that they will actually receive greater blessings for joining or remaining in the church under those circumstances, because it required a higher level of faith on their part. God works with who He has and a prophet has to fulfill a variety of roles. There were several critical things the church needed in those early days and getting people to Utah safely, away from their “Christian” murderers was a priority. Young had a unique ability to do that and to hold the people together during very difficult times. Although his decision about priesthood reflected the common attitudes of the time, he seems to have made an effort in general, since there are other cases in which he did things unthinkable at the time, such as having Jane Manning’s funeral at the Tabernacle and speaking at it. No one is perfect and no one is all bad. I think the church has been reluctant to condemn him simply because they have been doing extensive research for decades without finding a record of a revelation–but that didn’t mean one didn’t exist. Today, with the work being done on the Joseph Smith papers project, everything Joseph wrote is being put online and that has let them sort out where it started. We have access to more records today than we once did and it has become clear there was no written record of a revelation. Without evidence of the history of the statement, it would be unfair to say anything–statements against a person without proof the statement is true is mere gossip and we’re taught not to gossip. All the same, nothing on that page is new. I’ve been writing all of that for years and years. It’s merely gathered up and is part of a larger movement to provide church members with more easily accessible information on challenging topics–by gathering up the bits and pieces that were said in the past and putting them all in one place.

  8. It is appropriate and timely that the announcement from the Church of Jesus
    Christ of Latter Day Saints about its racist history comes during this Advent/
    Christmas Season. On Sunday, December 8th I preached at Park Hill United Methodist Church in Denver, a multi-racial, multi-cultural Church where I was
    their first African American Senior Pastor from 1997-2001. I used as one of
    my texts, Matthew 5: 23, 24: “If you remember that your brother or sister has
    something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go, first be
    reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.”

    In this case, the LDS Church in their truth-telling about the source of their racial bias, has extended an olive branch of reconciliation to me as a black
    man and to all black people. Too often, there has been great reluctance for
    people of faith to admit publicly that their pronouncements on race, gender
    and sexual orientation diminished the inclusive message of Scripture. My
    Mormon brothers and sisters have done this re; race, when will they do it
    re; gender and same gender loving persons?

    The Scripture speaks of “gift giving”. The Mormon Church during this season of gift giving through their pronouncement has given us all a gift. Thanks be to God. May they and other religious bodies, “keep on giving.”

  9. Thank you Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell for those kind words and for accepting an apology that I believe was truly sincere. I joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 1979. I didn’t know about the restriction on priesthood until I had been a member for quite awhile. I don’t think it was hidden; it just didn’t come up. I have found LDS people to be very open and welcoming to other cultures and races, and sadly, I have also found some LDS people to be closed and judgmental toward others. I hope more and more people are learning to love people one by one rather than judging and excluding people as a group because of race, religion, culture, gender, or sexual preference. We all have something to work on; we could all be more Christlike in how we treat others.

  10. And the apology and good Christian contrition for past racist acts and rhetoric is coming…………..when?

    Even the KKK’s former favorite church The Southern Baptists apologized for their racist conduct in 1995

    How about a little inspiration as to how this apology is supposed to look like

    “Be it further RESOLVED, That we lament and repudiate historic acts of evil such as slavery from which we continue to reap a bitter harvest, and we recognize that the racism which yet plagues our culture today is inextricably tied to the past; and

    Be it further RESOLVED, That we apologize to all African-Americans for condoning and/or perpetuating individual and systemic racism in our lifetime; and we genuinely repent of racism of which we have been guilty, whether consciously (Psalm 19:13) or unconsciously (Leviticus 4:27); and

    Be it further RESOLVED, That we ask forgiveness from our African-American brothers and sisters, acknowledging that our own healing is at stake; and

    Be it further RESOLVED, That we hereby commit ourselves to eradicate racism in all its forms …

    Be it further RESOLVED, That we commit ourselves to be doers of the Word (James 1:22) by pursuing racial reconciliation in all our relationships, especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 2:6), to the end that our light would so shine before others, that they may see (our) good works and glorify (our) Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16); and

    Be it finally RESOLVED, That we pledge our commitment to the Great Commission task of making disciples of all people (Matthew 28:19), confessing that in the church God is calling together one people from every tribe and nation (Revelation 5:9), and proclaiming that the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is the only certain and sufficient ground upon which redeemed persons will stand together in restored family union as joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).”

  11. The LDS Church had a long problematic history with its Indian Placement Program. While in theory Navajo parents “voluntarily” sent their kids to Mormon foster homes, many parents were pressured into providing a “decent education and lifestyle” by sending their children permanently to Mormon foster homes. May believed these programs undermined Native American identity.

    The biggest problem is that the program was a result of Mormon attitudes of superiority over Indian culture. Christians who are zealous in their conversion think they are “saving” American Indians when in fact they do not recognize the loss of identity these children suffer. Mormon adoption traumatized many Indian children, who could not even trace their heritage because the LDS Church stripped them of all traces of legal documentation of their birth parents. I suggest reading “Two Worlds: Lost Children of the Indian Adoption Projects.” As one reviewer said:

    ” [The book] shows the pain and anguish and bitterness of Transracial Adoptions of Native children into English homes…. The stories of secrets being kept, hidden agendas and the attempted distruction of a culture.”

  12. I totally agree. It’s also scary that members who believe the prophets to be the word of God therefore believe that the black human race is a lesser human being. The church teaches that the Lord will not permit any prophet to lead them astray. If the prophet is the mouthpiece of God on this earth then has God once voiced that the black person is subservient to the white person. That if person bears a mixed race child it is an abomination. Brigham young said “if a man in an unguarded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, it would do a great deal towards atoning for the sin. Would this be a curse to hinm? No. It would be a blessing to them” members of the church believe the prophets speak as the Lord. They therefor accept such a statement. If this has changed does it mean the prophets do not speak in truth eternal but In response to the social constructions of the times they are living in. Does God chop and change his instructions and revelations. If it was true then and not now, was the black person then more unworthy of the black person now? This is all PR due to the criticism the church has faced and more so in light if the condolences made re Nelson Mandela whome had he been a member of the church at the time of his incarceration he would not have been equal a man to hold the priesthood. The church has endorsed aparthied in its teachings and rules. White only temples. White only priesthood meetings. White only priests. It’s disgusting .

  13. Many LDS members are kind people searching to become more Christlike like so many other Christians from other church’s. What sets the Lds church apart is the belief that they are lead by a prophet chosen by God to speak his word, his doctrine in these latter days. I am not talking about Bishops, Ward/Branch leaders who are not the mouth piece of the lord. Therefor LDS members do believe that it was the Lords will to withhold the Priesthood from black members due to thier inferiority and unworthiness as stated by not only Brigham Young but other prophets of the church. This is ok with them. This is aparthied ie all white temples all white priesthood and alike meetings. Black father unable to perform blessings on his own children as he is cursed, less valued. The prophets of the church have instructed these laws. So if members believe them to be true what would they do if these rules were enforced again.

  14. { Latter-day Saint (LDS) leaders are apparently ignorant of Mormonism’s history. }

    It is clear you did not study what the Church wrote. If you read it at all you must have only looked for sound bites you could take out of context to make it say what you want it to say.______

    You do not have to believe like we do, but if you claim to be a Christian you should at least get your facts about us right.

  15. Wow! What about the “revelation”? Just now the prophets of the church understand the church was wrong? how about receiving direct revelation from God? You know what, other churches have knew it 100s of years ago. The church is still trailing behind the doctrines of other churches long after… What else is wrong now and what else is other churches are right which we Mormons are going to admit it may be after 50 years? SAD.

  16. I have a question, what is the church with out the leaders and the members in it? Is there dichotomy of the “church and the members”, it look like you are saying the church is perfect while all other are imperfect, the church is the collection of a believing persons no more no less, you said you do research go and do research about what church “Ecclesia” means. You should apologize. The church was wrong and now is trying to correct it, The church is nothing with out its members including the leaders.

  17. I feel like you were raised paranoid. You seem to have a flair for copying and pasting things out of context to suite your own argument. Churches make mistakes. Find me one who hasn’t. The U.S as a whole was and still is racist; obviously, it had effects on how people dealed with things. Get you facts straight and take whatever emotional, “I’m the victim crap” out of your rant and grow up.

  18. Re the response to my view earlier indicating that i am just picking out bits of scripture to support my view…That is a typical uneducated single minded response or should I say defence. My family were active members for over 20 years. I have friends who are church members. But I tell you this with thanks as you have supported not only mine but my family as we are researching this together that we want our names removed from all church records. There is so much I can say to support my earlier comment, but it would seem waisted on such a person who is clearly “white” has no empathy and like a lamb is led to the slaughter

  19. It is a real shame that any nationality, community or person should feel they are better off to try to shake off the roots and history in order to become a more valiant member of the LDS church. Rather we should embrace diversity, celebrate blackness and the amazing ability it has depicted to the white person in respect of the milliobs of lives that have been oppressed, abused, captive and disregarded as equals. Those are the souls of true Christianity and love. Cannot imagine the reverse being said

  20. Well done on replying with a heart of stone and no respect for a person sharing thier story because it does not match your own. Keep on being the example you are. You are speaking volumes

  21. Thanks for sharing Terrie. There is care and concern in your opinion. Many church’s in fact it’s probably all have history they would prefer to leave behind a closed door and move on. As many church’s have evolved with society’s norms and values etc. The overriding concern here tho is that LDS is the only church professing to be the true church led by a prophet ordained of God. One who would not lead the people astray. Not only Brigham Young but many other latter day prophets of the LDS church have spoken in the name of Jesus Christ of the unworthiness of the black person of any part of his seed etc. So as they are the mouth piece of the Lord they are only reflecting Gods view?

  22. They have also shown that the church is not true. Not led by divine revelation. It’s always good to learn and move on. To strive to be Christlike. Loving one another as he has loved. But it’s with such indignity that the church should continue to say that it is the only true church on earth, head by a prophet of God. If the prophet(s) were wrong then they cannot be trusted now

  23. The words of your prophets to be found below. It was too many to cut and paste. Here’s a link (if the mods will let it through). Hard to take this stuff out of context or blame it on the racism of the day. Its an inextricable part of mormon theology as several of your prophets have espoused it over the generations. By definition prophets speak to God and therefore not led into the errors of their time and place. In Christianity, we call a self-proclaimed “prophet” who teaches error a False Prophet. So is the LDS admitting that John Smith is a false prophet?

    Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805 – 1844):

    “I do not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall…. the first mention we have of slavery is found in the Holy Bible…. And so far from that prediction being averse to the mind of God, it [slavery] remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude.”
    – Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, v. 2, p. 438; online at

    “Thirteenth [Amendment]– ‘Are the Mormons abolitionists?’ No, unless delivering the people from priestcraft, and the priests from the power of Satan, should be considered abolition. But we do not believe in setting the negroes free.”
    – Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., History of the Church, v.3, p. 29; online at

    “You must not think, from what I say, that I am opposed to slavery. No! The negro is damned, and is to serve his master till God chooses to remove the curse of Ham.”
    – Prophet Brigham Young, New York Herald, May 4, 1855, as cited in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Spring 1973, p. 56

  24. The Mormon long-standing racism past and most recent position, until 1978, as indoctrinat[ed] in its youth from birth, has not been disavow[ed] by the Mormon church until it has disavow[ed] it from all of its Mormon scripture and doctrine[.] That way we know they mean it — and not just giving religious lip service. If not, the LDS church statement on “Race and the Priesthood” will have no credibility nor deserve none; it’s simply damage control and PR ploy to mitigate the issue, that still hurts real people. The church must come clean on this issue — if it is to be believ[ed] — which they desperately need and, should want…

  25. Blacks Ridiculed again by the Mormon Church
    By Lee B. Baker, Former Mormon High Priest and Bishop
    18 November 2013

    For several years now, every Tuesday evening I have had the great privilege of hosting “Teaching The Truth”, an LDS focused broadcast to the Christian and Mormon listeners of Worship FM 101.7 in Monrovia, the capital City of Liberia, West Africa.

    I have come to know several of the station managers and a number of the more frequent callers to this weekly program. Through their comments, questions and photographs, I have been genuinely moved to see the application of their unyielding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Over the past few months the question of racist teachings in the Book of Mormon and from the past Leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been on the minds of the Black Liberian converts to Mormonism and the many African Christians who struggle to understand how such a Church can be growing in Africa.

    I believe the answer is relatively simple; it has been the perfect merging of a sincere lack of knowledge on the part of the Black Mormon Converts and a disturbing lack of accountability on the part of the White Mormon Leaders. A near total lack of knowledge across Africa specific to the more explicitly racist teachings found within the current Mormon Scriptures, principally that of Black Skin and even less information concerning the racism and bigotry openly and officially taught by the early Leadership of the Mormon Church. These facts, combined with the current Church Leadership’s inability to clearly and specifically reject its own racist teachings both in print and from its past Senior Leadership (liberally using the terms Nigger, Darky, Sambo and Skin of Blackness ), has left the Black Race with only a short irresponsible and offensively juvenile Official Statement that claims the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knows very little about its own race-based policy, which lasted for well over 100 years:

    “It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended.” – Official Mormon Press Release concerning Race and the Church

    Maintaining a detailed and comprehensive history of every aspect and teaching of the Church has been both one of the hallmarks and one of the downfalls of Mormon Church. Within the relatively young Church, authoritative documentation, however corrupt it may have been, has never been in short supply. Each of the Senior Leaders of the Mormon Church has had several official biographers as well as an army of Church approved historians to record all aspects of the History of the Church. In fact, one of my first of many “Callings” in the Mormon Church was that of a Ward (Congregational) Historian, long before I became a Mormon High Priest and Bishop.

    The peculiar assertion that the Mormon Church itself does not know the details of its very own race-based policy of restricting the Blacks from holding the Priesthood is tremendously embarrassing for all Mormons and exceptionally degrading for anyone who actually believes it.

    As a former local leader of the Mormon Church, I have repeatedly assured the African members of the Mormon Church that the documents and “Scriptures” I have read to them over the air are both Authorized and Official for the time period they are relevant to. I clearly state the current position of total acceptance of all Races by the Church, but I must highlight the fact that the Book of Mormon still carries it’s obviously racist message that dark skin was a curse from God. I have said many times on-air that like the Mormon Missionaries, I too believe that every African should have a copy of the Book of Mormon, if only to learn the truly racist teaching of the Mormons, directly from the Book of Mormon.

    I have and will continue to teach the African Nations from the authentic Mormon Scriptures and the official Church History documents, which I had been provided by the Mormon Church to execute my responsibilities as a Mormon Bishop. The Official Records of the Mormon Church include many jokes and sermons given within the Official Semi-Annual General Conference of the Mormons, using freely the terms Nigger, Darky and Sambo. Additionally, these LDS Church documents record nearly 100 graphic sermons and lessons that clearly teach the principle, practice and policy that Black Skin was, is and will remain forever the Curse of Cain.

    Only in the recent past has the “Complete History” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints come to the attention of its own membership, much less to the under developed regions of the world. As this information is discovered, an ever increasing number of members of the Mormon Church have come into a personal crisis of faith, most notably Elder Hans Mattsson of Sweden, a General Authority of the Mormon Church who has gone public with his doubts and questions concerning the appalling treatment of the Black Race by the Mormon Church.

    Not unique to Africa, has been the Mormon Church’s training of young Missionaries to strictly avoid any discussion of several of the more embarrassing, yet true, teachings of the 183 year old Church. Among the prohibited subjects to discuss have been, becoming a God, the practice of Polygamy and religious racial restrictions on the Black Race.

    With the smooth talent of a skilled politician, the Mormon Church has ended its Official Racial Restrictions with the following hypocritical and deceitful, but technically accurate Statement:

    “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.”

    As a former Mormon Bishop and member of the Mormon Church for over 32 years, let me be of some help with the translation of this very carefully crafted, yet deceitful message. The two key and noteworthy phrases are: “in the absence of direct revelation” and “These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.”

    I will address the most obvious first, clearly the “previous statements” from the Church and its Leadership “do not” represent the Church doctrine today. The policy was reversed in 1978 and there is no question as to the current policy of today. The hypocritical deception is that between 1830 and 1978 those “statements” did, very much “DID” not “DO” represent past Official and Legitimate Mormon Church doctrine. Yet, I do give full credit to the clever Mormon authors and editors of today for their most skillful use of the English language.

    And finally, the most revealing and enlightening statement from the Mormon Church is: “in the absence of direct revelation”. So then, it is incredibly true and accurate that without any mockery or sarcasm to state that; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had for nearly 140 years, restricted a significant portion of the human race, millions and millions from what they teach is God’s intended blessings of Eternal Marriage, Salvation and even Godhood, without knowing why they did it, all without “direct revelation”?

    This Official Statement of religious shame and embarrassment comes from the Headquarters of a Church that claims to be guided in all things by “direct revelation”. How then, did such an exclusive doctrine based on prejudice, bigotry and racism become so widely accepted, so authoritative, so convincing and so commanding for so long, without any “direct revelation”?

    As a former Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I give solemn testimony that what they have declared is true, in that, they were and are now racist and do not hide the History of the Mormon Church from its members or the public, this, their Official Statement on Race and their Official “Scriptures ” clearly demonstrates that fact.

    I believe that the truly wicked teachings as well as the repulsive history of the Mormon Church concerning Polygamy, Polyandry-(sharing wives among the men), Blood Atonement, as well as restricting the Blacks from the Mormon Priesthood is available for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

    It is my prayer that all Mormons and non-Mormons alike will come to know the true history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I wish that every adult around the world could find the time to read the calculated racism and bigotry found within the Book of Mormon5. My hope is that all mankind could discover the contemporary Mormon Teachings, to see the deception they hold, and then… to read the True Word of God and follow the True Jesus Christ found only in the Bible.


    Lee B. Baker
    Former Mormon High Priest and Bishop

  26. This sounds like what an apologist would say. The fact of the matter is, substantial evidence demonstrates that the church advanc[ed] this so-called [theory] as canonized doctrine, and remains to date. Any vestige or remnant of this undisputed racism, true in fact theology, [or] theory (that it is being called now), must be disavow[ed] from all canonized doctrine, period.

  27. Make sure if you are going to use verses out of the Book of Mormon, that you are keeping them within the context in which they were given in the Book. Just like the Bible, you can find a way to misinterpret anything if you want to look at it out of context and distort it far enough. The only way to truly know if the prophets of the LDS church are inspired, if the Book of Mormon is true, and if the LDS church is the same church that Jesus Christ organized on the earth brought back in our day is to pray and ask God himself.

  28. I am sorry that you have had negative experiences with the church. Honestly, if you can find any group of 15 million people on this earth without imperfections I would like to know who they are. I am a convert to the church and one of my largest hang ups to getting baptized was “blacks not receiving the priesthood”. I was really bothered by the past teachings of the church but I was told that if this was really God’s church, he would answer any prayer made regarding its truthfulness. I followed that invitation and received an answer to my question that satisfied my concerns on that issue. However, I did not feel that I had a full understanding of the answer for years to come. Even though you were once a member of the church, I know that promise will apply to you. If you had a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon at one point in time, you can receive it again.

  29. When the LDS church makes that claim, it refers to the organization (structure) of the church. The organization is divinely inspired and follows the same patterns as the church did when Christ established it during his earthly ministry. Of course the key to this organization is the divine priesthood authority (or the authority to act under the name of Jesus Christ here on the earth). We believe that a man cannot take the priesthood authority upon themselves but that they must be ordained by someone already holding it. As a result, any member of the LDS church receiving the priesthood can trace their authority all the way back to Joseph Smith which then links them back to Peter, James and John, then to the Savior Jesus Christ himself.

  30. It may seem behind, but the church is also considerably younger than most other religions.

    Members culturally view almost every utterance from a leader’s mouth as inspired, but I believe (my opinion, not doctrine) that much of the running of the church is actually left completely to men. I imagine it as a vehicle that a person (human) is piloting, and rather than God constantly having a hand on the steering wheel, he just occasionally nudges it. This means that a lot of the time, the vehicle is not completely on track. But it is heading in the right direction and the errors eventually get corrected. Sad that they have to exist in the first place, but how else are imperfect people supposed to learn if God is using them as puppets?

  31. It’s interesting that you say mormonism is still full of racist thought and belief. I have to disagree quite strongly.

    I was born in 1990, well after the restriction was lifted. In church I have never been taught anything but that racism is wrong. The only place I ever see these types of quotes – ever – is when they are dredged up by someone trying to prove that the church is false or uninspired. The only place I have ever read or heard about a “skin of blackness” is the Book of Mormon – and even then, I have been left to my own interpretation (without church statements) about whether it was literal or metaphorical.

    My point? The church doesn’t talk about these theories anymore, including the Kimball quote, except for this most recent article which disavows the theories. I realize that silence or even disavowal doesn’t repair the hurt felt by many members, but I suspect that from the tone of the article, the church still hasn’t fully decided that it was 100% for sure an error of man (and therefore hasn’t made an apology yet). Nevertheless, the church today teaches “all are alike unto God”, another quote from the Book of Mormon.

  32. I’ve lived in Utah all my life. What a large pot of crap this whole admission is. First they are inspired then they’re not. Christ never was a racist and he still isn’t! LDS church….sell this load of huey somewhere else.

  33. Women still aren’t good enough though, eh?

  34. For the church to release this statements says a lot about how much they care about the truth. It would have been much easier for them to let things exist as they were.
    In this release they are simplying saying they don’t know why the lord placed the ban on blacks, but never was it because they were deemed as inferior or a lesser race in the Lord’s eyes. They also reject previous explanations given by members regarding it being because they are the seed of cain. But they are not saying the prophet acted out of step with God. Even Brigham Young knew one day the ban would be lifted by the Lord.
    There have been numerous times for various reasons throughout the Scriptures when the lord restricted all or part of the priesthood to a certain group of people. The Lord has his reasons. We must trust in his wisdom.
    Let us remember the Lord’s time is not the same as our own. Not one soul who has ever lived, black or otherwise, will be excluded from the blessings of the Lord provided they accept him and his covenants. No one has been excluded by the Lord – Not one! Let us be grateful to God for his church and kingdom that has made the salvation of all men possible. And let us praise him for the sacrifice of his son Jesus Christ.
    Times were different then and the church barely survived those times. The people of the world were wicked and murderous towards the saints, what extra trials would you have placed on their backs so you could live peacefully without trial? Let us look forward in faith and follow the prophet and not second guess the Lord’s leaders of the past. Peter denied Christ 3 times. Abraham almost killed his own son. Noah cursed his. And moses was a murderer. They were all still prophets of God and so was Brigham Young. The doctrine of praying for understanding still exists. Ask in faith and I assure you God will let you know Brigham young was his prophet.

  35. As an openly gay man I have found nothing but love and acceptance from the LDS community.i often attend, sometimes with my partner. I feel Christ more strongly in their ” antigay” congregation than I do in MCC or other “welcoming” congregations. I leave wanting to be a better man and to make the world a better place, that is enough for me to keep going. I imagine there were man and women during this period of racial exclusion who had similar ideas.

  36. You do realize that Prophets Prophecy and I have been a Mormon for over 40 years, and during that time I was married in the Temple. Blacks receiving the Priesthood is the only Prophecy I remember in all those years, but was that really a Prophecy? It was done because it was coming to the end of the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King had been killed only nine years earlier, and of course the LDS Church wants to continue to grow their Revenue by allowing People to enter the LDS Temple as long as they can prove to the Bishop they paid their full 10% Tithing. I missed my Daughters Temple wedding because they figured I had only paid around .06% of my overall Tithing. I hate the Church but I live in Utah and I have seen how they treat those who quit attending. It is not true!

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