Posted by: Jay | April 20, 2007

Blacks and the priesthood

Before 1978 the LDS church denied blacks the priesthood. They went so far as to research the geneology of some investigators that were suspected of having black roots. Why? I would like to hear thoughts from LDS members that have struggled with this issue. I would particularly like see comments from black LDS members about how they have come to terms with this sensitive issue. Non-LDS are welcome to give their view of the issue as well.



  1. …”Not a fan, but, I’ll share my belief with you”…
    1 JOHN 4:20-21

  2. Dino,
    I totally agree. Thank you for the scriptural reference. Are you not a fan of my blog or the Mormon Church?

  3. I am confused. I am not mormon, I am just investigating because a friend of mine is. Priesthood is a “heaven” or certain “spiritual level” right? Do the mormon church still not accept black people to progress in their faith? How is that even their decision?

  4. Curious,
    Blacks have every opportunity in todays LDS church that anyone else has. However, as with many churches this was not always the case. The history is complex. The Mormon Church started out giving blacks the priesthood, but then that changed and stayed that way until 1978 when all worthy males where allowed to have the priesthood. So it’s not so much an issue in todays LDS Church other than those of us that struggle to understand the history (Why did this occur). In fact I know black members that are active and love the Church. Feel free to ask anymore questions.

  5. If you want to know more about the history you can go to It’s not an LDS Church site, but it has a lot of information about blacks and the LDS religion.

  6. To me the simplest explanation is to say that Brigham Young was a racist. I think its hard to actually argue against this point if you read some of what he had to say. President Young probably just reversed Josephs earlier policy, which had had limited applicability anyway because Brother Abel was the only (known) 19th century black to be ordained to the LDS priesthood. If one takes this to be the answer, then questions arise as to why God would allow such an injustice to be perpetrated by his prophet, and why it took so long (over 120 years) to be reversed. On this first count I’d say free agency and human fallibility could account for it. On the second, the answer may have been a simple stubbornness on the issue by many Apostles and Presidents over the years. It has been suggested that David O. McKay tried to have the priesthood ban revoked as a policy decision rather then something needing a revelation, but couldn’t get unanimous support from the twelve to do so. In the end it took much time, patience and prayer, to get things set right again.

  7. I agree with your assessment of Brigham Young. But I think many in the LDS Church would balk at the idea that one of their prophets (and other leaders) was a racist and that succeeding prophets would perpetuate the “policy” if it were not from God. It goes against the feeling that we should support our leaders and not criticize them. It is this false image of prophetic perfection that raises members’ expectation of all their words and actions. I think LDS prophets would be wise to remind the members frequently that they are not perfect and sometimes speak amiss. It is important that members not put the prophet on such an exhalted level that they expect perfection of him. If they do disappointment is inevitable.

  8. Nate – So, was Jesus a racist when He claimed “I am not sent but to unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt 15:24)? And the passage that He spoke that in is about when the woman from Canaan came and desired of Jesus to heal her daughter. He actually referred to her as a dog. See Matt 15: 22-28

    He did heal the woman’s daughter… but only after she showed such great faith.

    There were no gentiles among his original Apostles. Again, was He a racist bigot? Even Paul who was called to take the Gospel to the Gentiles was a Jew.

    I rather think there is a time and a season for everything. We can’t answer for sure why Jesus came only to the house of Israel when he was here in mortality, but that is a fact. Were gentiles blessed… yes, a few.

    But then through REVELATION to Peter, the Lord’s Prophet who had been given the keys to the Kingdom it was revealed in Acts 10 to now take the Gospel to the Gentiles. Why then? I’m sure there is a lot of speculation and supposition, but the best anyone can say is it was the Lord’s timing.. period. And to fulfil prior prophecies. (And notice Peter commanded that they be baptized)

    Peter and the early Apostles followed ongoing revelation… through the Prophet Peter. And the Priesthood was passed down by the laying on of hands by those who already had the authority to do so. Those whom Jesus Himself had laid hands on.

    Reading Acts very carefully you really see how the early Church was formed and operated.

    That is how this Church is run, through a Prophet and Apostles who have the authority and receive ongoing revelation. Nothing new about it, and nothing wrong with it. And as Jay pointed out, and I keep pointing out, none of them are perfect.

  9. Jayleen,
    You’re right none of them were perfect. I don’t think a prophet can or should be perfect. It is for this reason that I can accept that Brigham Young was a racist, yet could be a prophet of God.

    I don’t mean he was racist just because he denied blacks the priesthood, but the some of the statements he made are just flat out racist. They have nothing to do with the priesthood ban. The only conclusion I can make is that he was a racist (as were other people of that time). If I am wrong then God will judge me and I am completely at peace with that.

  10. I was speaking only on the timing of blacks receiving the Priesthood and comparing it to the Gentiles receiving the Gospel.

    I avoid anything that may even resemble ‘evil speaking’ of the Lord’s annointed. If I see what I would consider a mistake or wrong thinking, I simply ignore it and move on recognizing that they are just human.

  11. Fair enough

  12. we ll hate you

  13. dear god we was only jokeing we like u xxxxxxxxxxxx

  14. Thanks…I think

  15. Jayleen

    You forget that The Gospel being sent out to the Gentiles in the New Testament means Blacks as well. Gentiles includes blacks negroes.

    There was never any prohibition on them being part of the gospel or Priesthood if it even existed at the time in the way the LDS claim to have it.

    The LDS ban is of its own making fashioned after the ideas of Joseph Smith from his book of Abraham which mentions the blacks and cursed as to the priesthood .. developing further the idea he introduced in the Book Of Mormon that Black skin was a mark for unrighteousness.( Once white and delightsome Lamanites were turned Black ) !

    And I think I remember reading they turned white again later on ! A very Juvenile mind exibited by Joseph Smith…..

    Brigham Young as the next so called Prophet just put Joseph Smiths ideas together and further perpetuated the complete nonsense of it all.

    As far as perfection goes The early LDS Prophets don’t even qualify as decent men let alone perfect.

  16. There was never any prohibition on them [blacks] being part of the gospel or Priesthood if it even existed at the time in the way the LDS claim to have it.

    As far as I know blacks were never excluded from listening to the Gospel or being baptized in the LDS faith.

    As far as perfection goes The early LDS Prophets don’t even qualify as decent men let alone perfect.

    Jayleen didn’t say they were perfect (in fact she said the opposite, which I believe there is abundant evidence to support).

    As for Joseph Smith, I don’t believe he was racist. A racist person would not offer to adopt a black woman into his family as a daughter, give a black man the means to free his son, give the priesthood to a black man or run for president with platform urging Americans to free their slaves. These are not consistent with the idea that Joseph Smith was a racist and indeed he was not.

  17. The question was asked whether the exclusion of the Gentiles was a racist practice. The answer is YES. It doesn’t matter who perpetuates a racist practice. It is what it is regardless.

    The Lord’s annointed? What does that even mean?

    There are statements made (I realize unintentionally) that just grate on my nerves.

    The Lord’s annointed. (GAs?)
    The Lord’s people (Jews?)
    The Beloved (John?)

    These exclusionary statements (along with any practices that come out of them) are racist, hateful, arrogant, show favoritism…and are just plain false.

    God has a favorite people? Well if you believe the scriptures he does. If you are Asian, black, European, or any other non-Jew, you are of a lower class of person. You are not one of God’s chosen people…what nonsense.

  18. Jay

    you said

    “As far as I know blacks were never excluded from listening to the Gospel or being baptized in the LDS faith. ”

    But what is the point of baptism for them as that doesn’t really save them or allow them to be with their families in CK according to the LDS faith .It seems like some kind of Apartheid system prior to 1978.Mark E Peterson taught that they would be servants to the white Mormons in CK !

    I said ” As far as perfection goes The early LDS Prophets don’t even qualify as decent men let alone perfect.”
    Sorry what I meant was that I don’t expect them to be perfect or even that perfection is an issue .I just don’t expect them to be such big bunglers , such bullies and so arrogant beyond belief and teachers of blatantly false doctrines.

    I’m not sure I would even see them as decent men whatsoever , let alone Jesus’s personal witnesses and advocates.

    You said
    “As for Joseph Smith, I don’t believe he was racist.”
    Neither do I , though I believe he did make up that stuff in the BofM about white skin turning dark for the Lamanites .He couldn’t help putting an answer to everything.

    Joseph Smith ordained one or two black men to his priesthood .It was Brigham Young who disliked them and he was the living prophet so what he says goes and the rest of the LDS Apostles just latched on to it and expounded it further , even up until Mark E Peterson in the late 1950’s !

    A sheer Tragedy of arrogant fanaticism.

  19. I heard about the blacks being servants in the CK too as a teenager. I actually thought it made sense the way it was explained. I am embarrassed to admit that now. What purpose was their life if they could not be exhalted. What a load of bunk…and it went on for over 100 years.

    Brigham young wasn’t even supposed to be the next prophet. Sidney Rigdon was in line to succeed JS the way the church was set up at the time. It was Brigham Young that bulled his way into the position excommunicating SR and all that voted against him. The way the church was originally set up, the highest authority was with the first presidency. At the time of Joseph’s death, that was JS – President, Hyrum – 1st Elder (1st counselor) and Sydney – 2nd Elder (2nd counselor). Each of them had all the keys of the kingdom separately. Then there were 2 quorums that collectively held all the keys. High Council and Apostles. At the time of JS and HS’s death, Sidney was the only one that still held all the keys as an individual. Brigham came up with a bunch of rumors about SR to make him look bad in the eyes of the members and essentially convinced everyone that the sole authority rested with the quorum of apostles and since he was president of the quorum, he should be president. By that logic he should not have been president. If not SR, it should have been the president of the High council. BY was 3rd in line.

    So I guess there was another apostacy. Either that or the CoC is the true church…and they don’t believe the BoM is literal.

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