Mormon Church Rules Blacks Not Inferior


The Mormon Church has ruled that black people are not inferior to whites, and that dark skin is not, in fact, a “curse” sent by God to punish unworthy people, as the church has maintained from its earliest founding until officially striking down that viewpoint last week. The Mormon Church has traditionally held the view that those with dark skin were “spiritually inferior” and the church had a ban on black priests up until 1978. It wasn’t until last week, however, that they officially and formally renounced the original reasons for the ban, saying:

The Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

At the time the ban on black priests was lifted, no statement or explanation was given as to why the ban had been there in the first place, and no renouncement of the view of blacks being inferior was made. Now, for the first time, the Mormon Church has ruled that blacks are not inferior. The church also pronounces that it is indeed normal for “Church members of different races and ethnicities” to  “regularly minister in one another’s homes and serve alongside one another as teachers, as youth leaders, and in myriad other assignments in their local congregations.”

On an official statement on its website, the church firmly places the blame for the earlier viewpoints about dark skin being a curse on “prophet” Brigham Young, saying that he was the one who implemented the ban on black priests and that that ban was continued by many church leaders that followed. Young’s view of black was highly unfavorable, and he viewed those with dark skin as sinners, saying:

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.

“Sons of Cain” referred to blacks at that time, since Cain was a sinner against God. Young was emphatic in making sure his views persisted until his death.

In the book considered sacred to Mormons, The Book of Mormon, it states that those with dark skin were cursed by God. In the book, two tribes, the Lamanites and the Nephites, were at war, and the Lamanites offended the Lord. The book states “because of their iniquity….the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). “However, when the Lamanites repented, their skin became magically lighter-“their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites” (3 Nephi 2:15).

Because of these passages, the Mormon Church perceived blacks to be cursed and spiritually inferior… that is, until last week. Prior to this new announcement, the idea that blacks were inferior had a stronghold in the church throughout hundreds of years. In 1960, church leader Spencer Kimball described those with light skin as “delightsome” and went to explain that many Native Americans he met had lighter skin because they had converted to Mormonism. Up until 1980, the official Book of Mormon referred to “white and delightsome people.”

In 2012, religion professor and Mormon theologian Randy Bott defended the viewpoint that blacks are inferior, saying “God has always been discriminatory” and that it was a good thing blacks had been banned from the priesthood, saying “You couldn’t fall off the top of the ladder, because you weren’t on the top of the ladder. So, in reality the blacks not having the priesthood was the greatest blessing God could give them.”

Now, a year later, Bott may be disappointed as the Mormon Church has ruled that blacks are not inferior. As the church joins in modern-day thinking, some are wondering what steps the church will take next. Could they soon announce the same about women?

By: Rebecca Savastio

ABC News

The Guardian UK

LDS Official Website

Dr. Valerie Tarico


Washington Post

19 Responses to "Mormon Church Rules Blacks Not Inferior"

  1. Dee   August 16, 2014 at 8:59 am

    I am Mormon and Mormon’d do not feel the prophets today trump anyone… I have been a member for over 50 years, graduated from BYU, taught seminary and institute with countless callings and I have never heard such ramblings as posted above. The fact is, the church is addressing many inconsistencies as of late, we (as Mormon.s) need to come to acceptance of this and gain life lessoins from this without getting our feathers ruffled.

    • lillith70   August 16, 2014 at 12:41 pm

      Modern trumps all is a very modern saying in a very recent conference–maybe on this very subject.

      Getting our feathers ruffled? I believe we have been freed to state our opinions politically and I do want to tell the Mormon baiters and haters at least that I do not like it. I am a Mormon but an also an enculturated American.

      The time has come for ending institutional and generational taught antagonisms and competition. A look at the PEW studies showing religion and the religious in America shows the south and Utah. We should be working on the same course and for Christ and the Kingdom of light, IMO.

      The church has always been meant to change as more light and knowledge is made available through any medium the Lord chooses. Book of Mormon even states He uses evil men for his purposes which could be inflammatory words if misconstrued and hyped but the words mean that God id still in charge and running things even when it appears that the Devil is winning IMO. Such as the horrible wars that lead to the making of the greatest nation ever in the world, truly a chosen land, and with more people free than ever in the world?

      With the internet, has the time come when all mankind will have to chose and depend on their own reckoning? The time when just towing a certain cultural and religious marks was sufficient to raise many a righteous seed/ (Referring to the isolation years when the mainstream church was not subject to dilution of common narratives)

      Well I guess we will see being as the church is on the move globally. Your natural instinct to gather close and listen to the prophets is a good one IMO. Away from the politics and the wars and rumors of wars. Safe in the family-like community of each ward? Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear? “Be still and know what I am God?” Yah, I could do with alot of the be still.

      Christ’s word trumps everything.

  2. Royce Lerwick   March 24, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    I know it’s old, two months is ancient history on the internet. I have however written the most comprehensive treatise on the subject and its history at my blog on WordPress. There’s a lot of smugness from the “Christian” community about Mormons taking their time coming around to “modern” thinking, yes, but it was never Mormons debating whether or not Negroes had a soul or were capable of salvation, or sending Jews to the gas ovens, or burning and slaughtering the Native American population. It wasn’t Mormons who invented or institutionalized American black slavery, and the LDS Church was declared by at at least the first three incarnations of the KKK to be their most dangerous enemy. I know reading and study and history is hard to come by, but make an effort.

    • Gideon   August 16, 2014 at 7:48 am

      The writings of Young are considered authoritative by Mormons whereas in Christianity, the Word of God (the Bible) alone is authoritative. In other words, the scriptures of the Bible do not advocate such foolishness, meaning that all the examples you pointed out were departures from the Word and from God. Unfortunately for Mormonism, their discrimination was in accordance with the Book of Mormon and the writings of Brigham Young, who as an Apostle of your church is authoritative to Mormons. In other words, your scriptures and doctrines sanction racism whereas the Bible clearly does not as the ancient Israelites and Jesus himself were not Europeans.

      • lillith70   August 16, 2014 at 8:47 am

        You define Mormons and Mormonism according to YOUR point of reference and then despise or criticize them for it. Would this qualify for evil imaginings against ones neighbors (or Mormons aren’t your neighbors?)

        Mormons on the other hand know that modern prophets trump old ones–even Brigham Young. But IMO God inspired Brigham Young to not allow more Priesthood given to Blacks to prevent miscegenation.

        With all the vitriol aimed at the Mormons through US history, I can just imagine racist American and the politically involved protestant pastors comments about black Mormon polygamists.

        There were and are no segregated Mormon churches. That in a racist America. That in an America where it is still okay to “otherize” the Mormons.

        The whole attacking and competing of Christian churches is unseemly.

  3. sdmnw1976   December 29, 2013 at 11:57 am

    “God has always been discriminatory”?! How does that view reconcile with the Bible describing God as “not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him”?

  4. Lillith   December 15, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    Yes, when BY made the church policy to match the not modern thinking of the world it made the people safer from the marching mobs and marching armies?But it complicated things because it now required a manifestation from Heaven to change. That they got it is nice and that the world will scoff is a given.

    How many times has the Bible been re-translated? Modernized, etc. Mormons get to stick to the poetically beautiful king James version with chiasmas a form of poetry also found in the Book of Mormon. For every denigration of the Mormon eaters there is an equal one stating the other side and who should know and understand Mormonism better than Mormons themselves?

  5. Creature Feature   December 14, 2013 at 11:52 am


    That was a close one.

    All the blame will go on the old dead guy, and everyone will forgive us.

    • Lillith   December 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm

      It is really funny when the Haters for Jesus or the Haters against God (Atheists) get wound up politically defining Mormon belief or what is their/our business. The Mormons were actually Yankees in Missouri who were a threat to the WASPs and their politically active Pastors (The lay ministers aren’t paid a salary–good livings for the second sons of the Anglos of the tim?)

      Still a close one with all the people who make it a life mission to break the faith of our children but I am really grateful that the US isn’t reading to launch a standing army to Utah to punish us over this. Truth is the Mormons would not have survived in a racist America if they/we didn’t go along with “modern though” or the currently popular common consensus. The truth is in the undeniable–there are no separate black churches for Black Mormons and the ones who Joseph Smith ordained and who came west always sat in same churches as the Whites.

      The ban on black s in Priesthood meant no mixed temple marriages and I think anyone who reads history might know how mixed race couples were treated in the south even after MLK and CO.

      When throwing stones it would pay to know the truth of your targets sins.When will all America outgrow this last allowed bigotry? And what force moves the innards of people to strike the blows?

      “Modern thinking” isn’t supposed to think these type snarks are okay and/or funny. No hate crime laws for the Mormons because the nation considers them/us mainstreamed. I never can figure out why their is an e on the end of the word “hypocrite”

  6. Jimbo Jones   December 14, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Good move Mormon Church.

    Instead of current leadership taking responsibility for its racist teachings, why not blame it all on Steve Young’s great great grandpa?

    • Lillith   December 15, 2013 at 7:04 pm

      Actually it was Steve Young’s ancestor if BY is his. And a wise move in a racist America. But this is the UK and posters have no clue about the driving of the Mormons from the land of Liberty and Justice for all? The Celts themselves having been driven from the UK during the English Civil War some becoming the Hatfield’s and McCoys of the south and others the Yankees of New England?.

      Some people think that a church claiming to be restored Christianity of the Apostolic church (of which 600 Brits were converted to Mormonism at one time because they were a congregation looking for just that?)

      Modern thinking? (Snort!) Is common consensus just another word for mob rule? The author chose words poorly but probably due to ignorance also. Ought to give up writing about all things Mormon. IMO

  7. Bradster   December 14, 2013 at 9:22 am

    There is really nothing new in this report. It is simply stating history before, during, and after the ban. They are holding to fact, keeping out fable, and dismissing speculation.

  8. jeff stien   December 13, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    The church has never been racist and has spoken out against all racism for many years, this report is twisted and missing many facts

    • Debbie Unlisted   December 14, 2013 at 11:40 am

      I am Mormon.. joining in 1969… I am also a BYU graduate in American History 1976… Intensely studied of Mormon history too… I can tell you that this is a very accurate piece and quoted Brigham Young from Journal of Discourses. There are far worse quotes and statements from Young that could have been used and not out of context either. Need to study the history before you speak inaccurately. The church has never denied this… only kept it pretty quiet.

      • DD   January 14, 2014 at 7:41 pm

        I am an African American currently having home teachings with the missionaries. Someone please explain to me how the church denounces ideas from the past regarding black skin, but the Book of Mormon, in several places states that black skin is a curse. A tad bit confused and discouraged.

        • Lillith   January 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm

          Doesn’t say black skin is a curse. Said a dark skin. Didn’t say how dark and was talking about a specific group of people, the Lamanites as opposed to the Nephites. To make them different that their brothers so that they wouldn’t intermarry which was Jewishly taboo back then-believers vs non-believers.

          That people not in leadership speculated on the reason for blacks being excluded from the priethood, they mulled it over and tried to find an answer why? Because even back in the days of segregation and lynchings in the south the fact of that separateness must have been troublesome (Otherwise why bother to wonder?)

          Don’t let pride, the universal sin–we all got it- shame you out of the church or keep you from it if you like the restorationist message or just the plain old community. The only way to the truth is through prayer and the burning in your breast that confirms the answer. It doesn’t lie and it feels just like the sweet peace of Jesus. The gospel in practice and universal in message of resurrection (salvation) for all mankind and exaltation (just a little above the angels eventually and potentially for those judged obedient to Christ’s Biblical messages..

          Some people like to say Mormons are racists forgetting their own ancestors really racist past. Mormons have no separate black churches as the segregated south raised up in their racist days. Green Flake who came to Utah with the pioneers sat right there in the same LDS congregation as the whites.

    • once a zoob   December 17, 2013 at 10:24 pm

      I have been a member of the church for most of my life, and if you study the history of the church you will see that it was once extremely racist.

  9. Ken Dahl   December 13, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Wow, now there’s a realistic and original report on this matter. Thank you for not picking up the pre-written press release from the Mormons about this “earth shattering” pronouncement that, all along, this was one big issue of racism.

    One must ask how long it will be until the “brethren” of Mormonism admit that their 1978 “revelation” (now scripture) granting the Mormon priesthood to African descendants was really just a vote of expediency by the board of directors of LDS, Inc.

    Additional edits to the “Book of Mormon” are inevitable since racism still runs rampant in that imaginative novel . . . having endured a few thousand corrections, several more are certain. Stay tuned.

    • Lillith   December 29, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      Jews not a chosen people or Abraham and his posterity? But the when Paul was given the mandate to spread the apostolic Church of Christ what God made clean was clean and Peter better sit down to eat with the gentiles or else?

      For sure we are all made equal in Christ and can only be perfect as he has directed if he perfects us. We are no better Christians or Christites than how we reflect Him and His commandments in our daily lives.

      However the proclamation is to state IMO the now doctrine of the LDS church quite firmly and plainly. The church was never more racist than the greater society around it–the culture of racism in the USA.never matched that of Jim Crow and other active racism things.


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