Racism in the Mormon Church

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

I was born and raised in Utah, in an extremely small town. There was only one African-American family in the town, and a member of that family was my best friend in high school. I was never taught about the church's past, something I mention frequently, and when I read some of these quotes I got sick to my stomach. How could I have been a member of this church and been a good friend to this young man at the same time?

African-American men were not allowed to hold the priesthood until 1978, a year before I was born. It was taught that blacks were denied the priesthood because they were from the lineage of Cain, and they were cursed with their black skin because Cain killed his brother, Abel. The Church has never apologized for this, and avoids the topic as much as possible. Here are some horrible comments made by Mormon Church leaders:

"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." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, page 110.)

Wow, right? If you mix your seed with a black person, Brigham Young believes you should be killed on the spot. This is a prophet of God speaking... don't forget that. Here are a couple more gems from Briggie:

Brigham Young
You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, un- comely, 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. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and 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; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree. How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, [p.291] 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. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion. - (Journal of Discourses 7:290-291, October 9, 1859)
"You may inquire of the intelligent of the world whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation ...When the Lord has a people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break his covenants he has made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites and other portions of the house of Israel; but by-and-by they will become a white and delightsome people" (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 7:336).

It is not the prerogative of the President of the United States to meddle with this matter, and Congress is not allowed, according to the [p.40] Constitution, to legislate upon it. If Utah was admitted into the Union as a sovereign State, and we chose to introduce slavery here, it is not their business to meddle with it; and even if we treated our slaves in an oppressive manner, it is still none of their business and they ought not to meddle with it. Journal of Discourses 4:39-40 (Aug 31, 1856)

Yeah... so Brigham Young, supposed prophet of God said these things. He taught openly that having a black person accept and live the gospel would cause their skin to grow lighter and lighter as the curse of Cain was lifted. He was speaking as a prophet, as he was talking to his flock when making these comments. Many Mormons believe that God wanted the ban on blacks holding the priesthood until 1978, and the ban was lifted only after revelation was given to the prophet at the time, Specncer W. Kimball. The Church denies the lifting of the ban had anything to do with civil rights movement. Does this add up? Nope. Here are more quotes from other LDS leaders:

“And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God;...” John Taylor, president/prophet Journal of Discourses, Vol. 22, page 304 "And if any man mingle his seed with the seed of Cain the only way he could get rid of it or have Salvation would be to come forward and have his head cut off and spill his blood upon the ground- it would also take the life of his children." Wilford Woodruff, 4th President/prophet (Wilford Woodruff Journal) ”I would not want you to believe that we bear any animosity toward the Negro. "Darkies" are wonderful people, and they have their place in our church." Joseph Fielding Smith, President/prophet, Look magazine, October 22, 1963, page 79.
The first time I read those remarks I was so angry I couldn't sleep. I couldn't stop thinking about how many times I was taught that these men were noble, kind, sincere, and honest. These men were as good as saints to me at one point in my life, and I was taught to remember the good things they added to the church. I was never taught anything about the ban on blacks holding the priesthood or the "curse of cain." The Church is trying desperately to distance itself from these and many other remarks made by former leaders.

They are trying to distance themselves to the point that they actually changed their scriptures to reflect their new stance. It has been said many times that the Book of Mormon was supposed to be the most correct book on the face of the earth, yet the church has changed it many times to reflect a more open and politically correct church. Take for example this quote from the Book of Mormon:
2 Nephi 5: 21- '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.'
The term "white and delightsome" was changed to "pure and delightsome" in 1981. So much for the Book of Mormon being the most correct book on earth, huh?

The Church likes to act like this racism never existed. In an Ensign article in September of 2000, General Authority Alexander Morrison made this comment:

"How grateful I am that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has from its beginnings stood strongly against racism in any of its malignant manifestations."

Ummm.... is it that he didn't know about the church's history, or he was just openly denying it? How could you say that with a straight face? Brigham Young was for slavery for crying out loud!

Gordon B. Hinkley, the most recent LDS President (who passed away a few days ago) had this to say about racism:

Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?

GBH is openly saying that what the church did in the past was wrong, isn't he? The church assumed black people were not eligible for the priesthood no matter how righteous they were, and they did it for 150 years.

The Mormon Church used to teach that even faithful black people were destined to just be servants in the next life, and that was openly taught until the 1950's. Mark E. Peterson, and LDS Apostle had this to say in a sermon given at Brigham Young University:

"In spite of all he [the Black person] did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. “

"If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the Celestial Kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory."
Never have I been more ashamed of my past beliefs. Granted, these things were never taught to me, but they should have been. I should have been given the full story and all of the information to make the right decision for myself. Thank God I learned this on my own and I am getting out. I don't even want to be associated with a group of people that held these beliefs.

Had I not researched Mormonism on my own, I would have never known any of this. It's not discussed, and certainly not shared with potential converts to the church. This information, or digging things up from the past the church doesn't like is considered "anti-Mormon" and you are warned against doing this from your local Mormon leaders. They don't want you to know about it because they know it will hurt your testimony. It should hurt your testimony. I have no idea how you can make these statements okay in your mind.

Before I am done with this post, I have to mention the fact that women are still not allowed the priesthood. The church claims that women and men have equal status, which is a lie. Women are not allowed to bless their own babies, pass the sacrament, or even officiate Sacrament meeting. It has to be a priesthood holder. David Peters wrote this statement that I agree with, and I will close with that...
"If an African-American fellow is just as talented as a Caucasian, does this mean either should stick to their "racial" roles? Why then, should there be "sex" derived ones?"



  1. paranoidfr33k Says:

    "Never have I been more ashamed of my past beliefs. Granted, these things were never taught to me, but they should have been."

    The good thing is that you didn't beleive those things, right? I had blind faith that the church was true and everything that it had done in the past and everything the previous prophets had said was true, but I never heard of this stuff until I began researching myself. I don't think I would have ever believed it even if Brigham himself came and required me to beleive them, but then religion has a way of getting people to beleive crap.

    I don't think I believed any of it, really, I just took it at face value that what I was being taught was true because I respected those that were doing the teaching. Now, I see what religion does and how it works and I am glad that I see that for what it is.

  1. Orison Family Says:

    I am truly sorry for your lack of faith in the LDS church. There is no question that the church has a very racist background, as do most churchs. Brigham Young and other prophets said a lot of things that are not in accordance to modern day teachings, but that was his opinion of that time, not him speaking as a prophet, as a mouthpiece of God. He said what people wanted to hear of that day. The point is the church is run by imperfect beings, and if you want to find the negative you most certainly will find it, no question. But if you choose to look at the positive you will see that the church is run by some truly wonderful hard working people just trying to do a little good in the world. The best thing I did was to move out of Utah. I didn't gain a testimony until I left and saw how the rest of the world lives. It's a pretty miserable world, it's nice to have a little constant in my life such as the church.

  1. Sydney Says:

    Orison Family...

    You don't need to be sorry for my lack of faith. I am more than satisfied with the decision I made, as well as my feelings to more than one of the doctrines. If you want to see the complete reason I left the church, read "Why I left."

    A lot of churches do have racist backgrounds, I agree. But many of those churches do not claim to have a prophet that speaks or communicates/speaks for God.

    Many people in the Mormon Church (many of them my family) make the same claim about him "Speaking as a man and not as a prophet." I ask you, when you do know he is speaking as a prophet? How do you know? You check your scriptures, right? But what are the scriptures but record of other prophets? Where they speaking just as men in any of the things they said? Do you see the circular logic there.

    Bottom line for me is that a prophet of God (an all-loving God like the one I believe in) would never stand by a prophet or church that made such claims or statements. Period.

    "He said what people wanted to hear of that day."

    A prophet of God shouldn't say what people want to hear... he should say what God says. There are no prophets, sorry. Prophets are right and Brigham Young and the others where wrong waaaay too many times.

    "But if you choose to look at the positive you will see that the church is run by some truly wonderful hard working people just trying to do a little good in the world."

    I agree that most Mormons are very good people. I am not saying anything about the honest Mormons who live honest lives, am I? What I am talking about is the doctrine that doesn't make sense. The church cannot possibly be true due to the scientific evidence, and LOGIC! Open your eyes, you might be shocked.

    I, too, spent many years living outside of Utah. When I moved back to Utah to be closer to my family, I started doing the research when I was asked to join them for church.

    Before you make comments on my lack of faith, you should know the whole truth. If you read what the church tells you to read, and do what they tell you to do all the time, there is no way for you to know the truth. Do the research. Really.

  1. Bonnie Says:

    I also research a lot on this topic and other topics in the Mormon church. I can't believe some of the things the Prophets have said and done.

    I guess what I always tell myself, in any case, is people are people and people freaking suck.

    At the same time there are many things that I can't shake my faith of. I struggle a lot with the past of the church, but there are so many things I hold so dear. Hopefully I can make the choice one of these days to stay, or to go.

    I have such a strong faith in the Lord. And confidence in what I believe through the Lord. But I just don't have a faith of the early Prophets. And some of the more current ones. I usually tell myself that the people I know and love wouldn't mean to lead me astray, and that God knows what to tell my closest leaders. but i don't have much faith outside of my own father and bishop.

    I guess I will continue to learn, in both the bad and the good of the church.

  1. Sydney Says:

    It's good to meet you Bonnie.

    I can tell you are in a place of confusion right now, and I promise you that I understand how that feels. It's not my goal to take people away from the church, its to be here for people who make that decision on their own. No matter what you decide, you are welcome here.

    There are good things in the church, I will be the first person to admit that, I just find that the bad things are REALLY bad, and heavily outweigh the good. I can't trust them, because they have lied.

    Having a religion is different from having faith. Don't forget that, and I send you hugs for the difficult times you are going through. Take care of yourself.