FaithWorld

Mormon church explains its defunct ban on blacks in the priesthood

By Reuters Staff
December 11, 2013

(The Mormon Tabernacle Choir of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sings during the fourth session of the 181st Annual General Conference of the church in Salt Lake City, Utah, April 3, 2011. REUTERS/George Frey )

Thirty-five years after lifting a ban on blacks entering the priesthood, the Mormon church has offered an explanation for a practice that was in place for more than 100 years, saying it was rooted in the racism of the times.

A church-produced essay, “Race and the Priesthood,” ties the ban to an 1852 speech by Brigham Young, the faith’s second president, who led the church to Utah, and distances the modern Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from the policy.

“The justifications for restrictions echoed the widespread ideas about racial inferiority that had been used to argue for the legalization of black ‘servitude,’” reads the essay, part of a series aimed at giving Mormons more context for understanding various aspects of church history, practices and doctrine.

“Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form,” the essay says.

In the past, Mormon church leaders have said history provided no clear explanation for the prohibition that barred black men from ordination to the lay priesthood and prevented black men and women from participating in sacred temple rites.

No such prohibitions were in place during the tenure of Joseph Smith, Jr., who founded the church in 1830, the church essay notes. Smith opposed slavery and himself ordained the faith’s first black lay ministers. In the Mormon faith, only men can hold the priesthood.

In 1978 then-church President Spencer W. Kimball lifted the ban, citing what the church describes as a religious revelation, but the faith has had trouble shaking its history, and the issue of racism has arisen repeatedly, including during the 2012 presidential campaign of Mitt Romney, who is Mormon.

“For me what it says is that the church is finally admitting that (blacks) should never have been denied the priesthood,” said Don Harwell, president of the Genesis Group, an organization for black church members. “It’s overdue.”

Read the full story by Jennifer Dobner here.

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The racism taught as doctrine in the July 17, 1947 letter by the First Presidency to Dr. Lowry Nelson, was a tentacle of the apostasy that held on after the restoration, and polluted the minds of the Lord’s anointed. Lucifer himself was the origin of these folk doctrines, and he sought to destroy the church by whispering lies in the ears of the prophets through the years to prevent the elect, foreordained for leadership, faithful African people of the earth from receiving blessings. God was not the source of the doctrines. Lucifer took pride that he was able to thrash prophets in this way just as he laughed with glee when Mark Hoffman deceived prophets with his forgeries. It is a time for tears that it took so long for the voice of the Lord to be heard. Also a time for joy that we can move on into the future and let the scars preserve for us a remembrance that we are a fallen people, subject to spiritual disease, which can rise from the dust through Jesus Christ – the captain of the poor, the oppressed, the discriminated.

Posted by calabiyau | Report as abusive
 

For a much clearer picture of where the Mormon Church has slowly migrated from, there is a valuable letter from a Mormon “Apostle” to then Governor George Romney of Michigan about the ‘vicious legislation’ of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. A photocopy of the original letter can be found here: http://www.boston.com/news/daily/24/delb ert_stapley.pdf

Posted by sfcanative | Report as abusive
 

Here is a link from the official LDS (Mormon) website. This is from the Book of Mormon, and is (and always has been) official LDS doctrine and scripture:

http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/ 5.21?lang=eng#20

“And he [the Mormon god] 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.” [Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:21]

When Mormons say they “unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form,” they are flat-out lying. If they *really* disavowed racism, they would strip 2 Nephi 5:21 out of the Book of Mormon.

Posted by DandyStryker | Report as abusive
 

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