Blacks in the Mormon Church

On February 26, 2005 I saw an article on my Google-alert that I just couldn’t ignore.  It said; ‘Latter-day Saints face race issue’.  This subject has always fascinated me so I clicked on the article to find out that a man by the name of Darron Smith, has written a book entitled; ‘Black and Mormon’.

My fascination has a personal connotation to it.  I am not a black person.  I have olive skin, black curly hair and dark brown eyes.  To the average person anywhere in the world I am considered a white person, anywhere but Utah that is.  But then again nothing about my growing up experience was what I would call average.  I was born in northern Utah, a sixth generation Mormon on my mother’s side and fourth generation on my father’s side.  My father’s side is what they call ‘black Welsh’.  I was born in the early sixties in an all white neighborhood, and had never met a black person until I was in seventh grade.  I would never pretend to know what the black community has had to go through, so please understand that I am not alluding to such.  With that being said I wanted to let people outside of Utah know the pain and confusion involved believing that dark people are inferior and its results.  I’m certain there are thousands of other Mormons and ex-Mormons alike who can relate to this topic.  This is about the god of Mormon theology; not about being politically correct in their actions regarding the blacks and the Mormon priesthood.

Now depending on where you’ve been a Mormon, the story differs on the race issue. Utah is the heart of Mormonism.  The further away you get from Utah, the more watered down the religion becomes.  I grew up being told that I was neutral in the war in heaven, therefore, I had just enough darkness placed upon me to show how non-valiant I had been.  In many of the Church documents now they state there were no neutrals.

This article isn’t written to disagree with black Mormons.  I agree the Church has made tremendous strides in their missionary work in South America and throughout Africa to include people of color into the fold.  You won’t get any disagreements from me there.  This is to appeal to the black person on a personal note of their heritage and the god they worship.  Darron Smith said; “Clearly, if African-Americans who have actively participated in the black church become Mormon, they must abandon many of their traditional religious traditions and social practices and subscribe to a white style of worship or be considered transgressors of the church’s cultural norms,”

So to that remark I have a few questions:

1 – Since when would God not want you to keep something personal about yourself based on your color?  Don’t you think that He made you that color on purpose?  Or do you think that it was happenstance that you are the color you are?  Why are you considered a transgressor in the Mormon Church by keeping your traditions, but white folk are not transgressors?

2 – It’s great the Church has come around to accepting everyone now, but what kind of god are you worshipping that changes his mind all the time?  Malachi 3:6 says; “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”  God is letting us know that you can always rely on Him to be consistent so you know what to expect from Him and you’ll know what He expects from you.

3 – The Bible says in Deut. 18:20-22; “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.  And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?  When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

In light of this why would you believe the teachings of a so-called “man of God with authority” who says that no black person will ever hold the priesthood until Adam’s children has been resurrected?  Clearly they haven’t risen yet to accept the priesthood, thus making this a false prophecy! (1)

I was told throughout my childhood that I was “just dark enough to be dangerous”.  I sat through countless sacrament meetings listening to the bishopric tell us how horrible it was the negro had sinned in the pre-existence, therefore having to suffer the consequences of their poor choices here on earth. (2)  They were reaping their reward.  The ‘white and delightsome’ saints were the ultra-elite just as the Nephites were in the Book of Mormon. (3)  I would look around me and see nothing but a sea of blonde haired blue eyed people and began hating myself for not following Jesus in the pre-existence.  It didn’t matter that I had also been born into the Church, capturing the coveted spot of being a Mormon.  That part of the message went in one ear and out the other with the weight of the horrible color I had on my skin.

On a Saturday in June of 1978 I was visiting my grandmother as I had done on many weekends throughout my childhood.  I had hated myself for years from my poor choices I made in the pre-existence that I didn’t even remember making.  All I had been told was that I had been very disobedient before I came here to earth.  As I went outside that afternoon to get the paper I noticed the huge headline right on the front page.  ‘Prophet has revelation:  Blacks accepted into the Priesthood’.  (4)  I dropped to the stairs with that paper, threw it on the ground and cried.  Not because they could come into the church or because I thought I’d finally be accepted as well, but if God had changed His mind about this, what was next?  How would I ever know just how to please Him?  I was already convinced that He had always been disappointed in me with my choices in the pre-existence.  It never dawned on me that He had intentionally made me this color and that revelation didn’t change my mind about my coloring.  All I wanted to do was make Him happy with me and now He seemed further away than ever.  My family was still living with the residual effects of polygamy.  I was fifteen years old when the Mormon god changed his mind about the races; this was the second time in my short life I had to live with his non-eternal decisions.

Coming out of the fog of Mormonism takes time.  For some of us it takes longer than others; for me it took about five years before I understood the world around me and felt like I had completely come out of my fog-like state of mind.  Fast forward to circa 1995, it was a few years  after I got saved when I was standing in front of my mirror getting ready for my workday when it finally dawned on me that Jesus probably wasn’t ‘white and delightsome’.  (5)  The reason why?   He was from the MIDDLE EAST!  They’re not exactly ‘white and delightsome’ over there.  Duh…  For more than 32 years I hated myself for being so dark.  I was jealous of every blonde I ever met and never would look myself in the eye while I got ready for work in the mornings or at night while getting ready for bed.  Not one time did I believe that it was okay to be dark.  Every painting I had seen of Jesus had Him with blue eyes.

Now intellectually this may seem like a no-brainer but it’s interesting to note what the psyche can do to you over time.  I finally realized through God’s infinite grace that it was a sin to be jealous of the beautiful hair God graced blonde people with and it was equally sinful to think so less of myself.  It was like a two-edged sword for me.  I’ve never thought less of people of color but of me it was a different story.  I believed it had always been my own fault I turned out this way.  I know the Lord has forgiven me and I sit in awe each day at His truth and grace!

My relationship with Jesus grew stronger from my new understanding of Him.  I found the passage of scripture in Psalms 139:14; “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”  From this scripture I found out for the first time in my life that He created me this way on purpose!

My concern for all Mormons is that they truly believe they’re worshipping and following Jesus but my dear Mormons – you’ve got the wrong Jesus!  Think about this:  if the prophet had a true revelation from God about the condition of the black people and their salvation, then why do their books all still teach the old system of salvation?  It’s easy enough for all Mormons to look up –

“Let us reason together. In the Book of Moses, Chapter 4, and in the Book of Abraham, Chapter 3, we are taught that there was a council held in heaven and our Eternal Father presented a plan by which we could come down on the earth and receive tabernacles (bodies) of flesh and bones for our spirits which are begotten sons and daughters unto God. We learn also that one third of those spirits rebelled against the plan and followed Satan. For this they were denied bodies of flesh and bones and have to remain spirits. Why do not those who complain about the Negro and the priesthood also complain about the punishment which was given to this third of the spirits? They were denied even the blessings of bodies!”

Keep reading, it just gets worse…

“Was this an injustice on the part of our Eternal Father? Well, there were other spirits there who were not faithful in the keeping of this first estate. (Abraham 3:23-28.) Yet they have not sinned away their right to receive bodies and come to earth and receive the resurrection. They were restricted in the privileges that were given to those who keep their first estate and who were promised to have “glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.” (Ibid.,3:26.) Therefore the Lord prepared a way through the lineage of Cain for these spirits to come to the earth, but under the restriction of priesthood.”

Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions, 2: 185.

Now if they’ve truly received a revelation from God about the blacks, then why pray tell, is the Pearl of Great Price still in existence?  A major portion of Mormonism and all of the Book of Mormon has to go away somehow if this revelation was really true.  If this is truly who God is, then why do they still have these books?

Sure, forgive the Mormons for not having blacks in the priesthood until 1978, but what would make anyone want to worship the god they are worshipping?  Their own theology tells us not only blacks, but everyone else as well that people of color aren’t as worthy as the Mormons are.  Smith even went so far as to say that the ‘Germans are an exalted people’. (6)  Sounds kind of Hitler-like to me…Smith then went on to say that the men who translated the Bibles he likes are impeachable.  This from a man who the church takes great pride in reminding its members that their prophet was an uneducated fourteen-year-old. (7)

I attended a seminar in the Seattle area to listen to Dr. Tony Evans speak on the race relations in the body of Christ.  The corresponding book he made available is called; ‘Let’s Get To Know Each Other’, I highly recommend this book!  I learned a lot during his conference but what caught my attention the most was when I learned the names of people in the Bible actually had a meaning behind them, including Noah’s sons.

Genesis 6:10; “And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”  The Hebrew meaning for Shem is dusky, Ham means hot, and Japheth’s name means fair.

Now with this in mind read some of the “prophecies” I’ve listed at the end of this article and ask yourself; why were the blacks cursed twice?  The Church says they were cursed for what they did in the pre-existence and their lineage showed themselves in Cain’s children because of his sin against Abel.  Then they say that because of what Ham did they were cursed yet again and his progenitor, Egyptus, settled the land of Africa.

What sounds more plausible here?  That the blacks were cursed repeatedly for something they supposedly did in the pre-existence even though the Bible says nothing of this.  OR, Noah had three sons who had different skin tones so Noah named them accordingly.

The Bible does say that the son of Ham was cursed.  Ham had witnessed his father’s nakedness so God told him that Canaan(his son) would be the servant of servants to his brothers.  It never says that he was cursed with black skin.  The skin color was there before the curse was placed upon the family.  (8)

This is how the slavery issue was condoned.  The white people twisted this passage of scripture to fit their own twisted way of thinking.  This is just another form of slavery my friends, this time it carries eternal consequences for your soul.

If you’re anything but white I ask you this; when was the last time you thought of yourself as comely or uncouth?  What kind of god are you worshipping?  Is your perception of the God of the Bible in line with what the LDS Church is teaching?  Do you feel inferior around the people in the Church and don’t understand why?

I encourage you to honestly ask yourself these questions and see you as the God of the Bible sees you.  You’re beautifully and wonderfully made!  If you believe the God of the Bible created the earth and all its beauty, why is it so difficult to believe that He is capable of making different skin colors?

If you’d like more information on this or how to know the God of the Bible, shoot us an e-mail and we’d love to show you how to know the truth!

1 – “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother…the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race—that they should be the “servant of servants;” and they will be, until that curse is removed…That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam’s children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood.”

Brigham Young – Journal of Discourses, 7: 291.

2 – “WHY MEN ARE BORN TO DIFFERENT RACES. We are the children of God. He is our Father and he loves us. He loves all men whether they be white or black. No matter what their color, no matter what the conditions under which they were born and reared, the Lord looks upon all his children in mercy and will do for them just the best that he can….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.”

Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 1: 61.

Just as we are going to be judged according to our works in this life, we were judged according to our works in the pre-mortal life.  “The labors that we performed in the sphere that we left before we came here have had a certain effect upon our lives here, and to a certain extent they govern and control the lives that we lead here, just the same as the labors that we do here will control and govern our lives when we pass from this stage of existence”’.  The Church and the Negro by John Lund, pg. 42.

3 – 2 Nephi 5:21-22; “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.  And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.” –Description of the Lamanite.

4 Nephi 1:10; “And now, behold, it came to pass that the people of Nephi did wax strong, and did multiply exceedingly fast, and became an exceedingly fair and delightsome people.” – Description of the Nephite.

4 – On June 9, 1978, President Spencer W. Kimball announced the revelation that all worthy males could hold the priesthood (see Doctrine and Covenants: Declaration 2). Following the 1978 priesthood revelation, proselytizing was expanded worldwide to include people of African descent.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 1-4 vols., 126.

5 – 1 Nephi 11:13; “And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.”

6 – “It has always been my province to dig up hidden mysteries—new things—for my hearers. Just at the time when some men think that I have no right to the keys of the Priesthood—just at that time I have the greatest right. The Germans are an exalted people. The old German translators are the most nearly correct—most honest of any of the translators; and therefore I get testimony to bear me out in the revelations that I have preached for the last fourteen years. The old German, Latin, Greek and Hebrew translations all say it is true: they cannot be impeached, and therefore I am in good company.”

Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 364.

7 – “From Joseph the translator—untrained in theology—more printed pages of scripture have come down to us than from any other mortal, as Elder Jeffrey R. Holland has calculated!”

Priesthood Session 4 April 1992, by Elder Neal A. Maxwell Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

8 – Genesis 9:20-22-7; “And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.  And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.  And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.  And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.  And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.  And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; andCanaan shall be his servant.  God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.”