Racism in Mormon History

For nearly 150 years, until the black revelation of 1978, Mormons considered “black skin” a curse and refused to grant them the Mormon priesthood necessary for exaltation in the Mormon plan of salvation.  The following are racist statements made by Mormon leaders throughout the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

JOSEPH SMITH, JR.:

“Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization.” (Joseph Smith quoted in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Joseph Fielding Smith, page 270 and History of the Church, vol. 5, p. 218).

BRIGHAM YOUNG:

“But let them apostatize, and they will become gray-haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 332).

“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. . . . Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which was the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another cursed is pronounced upon the same race–that they should be the ‘servants of servants;’ and they will be until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 290)

“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.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110)

How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? 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 favorable 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.” (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 7:290-291)

JOHN TAYLOR:

“For although they were destroyed in the body, yet when Jesus came and …preached to the spirits in prison that were disobedient in the days of Noah. And then the devil put on a long face and said, I imagined I had got rid of these fellows; but they are going to have a chance yet that I did not think of. 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; and that man should be a free agent to act for himself, and that all men might have the opportunity of receiving or rejecting the truth, and be governed by it or not according to their wishes and abide the result; and that those who would be able to maintain correct principles under all circumstances, might be able to associate with the Gods in the eternal worlds. It is the same eternal programme. God knew it and Adam knew it.” (President John Taylor, Journal of Discourses, vol. 22, pages 303-304.)

JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH:

“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 [pre-existence] received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less….  There were no neutrals in the war in Heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1 pp. 61, 65-66)

“Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was place upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness of the blessings of the Gospel. These are the descendants of Cain. Moreover, they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind from the beginning… we will also hope that blessings may eventually be given to our Negro brethren, for they are our brethren–children of God—notwithstanding their black covering emblematical of eternal darkness.  (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, pp. 101-102.)

BRUCE R. MCCONKIE:

Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the negroes, and those spirits who are not worthy to receive the priesthood are born through that lineage…. Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry….  Those who were less valiant in pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions impose on them during mortality are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God, and his murder of Able being a black skin. . . . Noah’s son married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain, thus preserving the negro lineage through the flood. . . . the negro are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concern. . . . ” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 109, 114, 527-528; 1966 original edition, later changed after the 1978 black revelation change).

GOD OF THE BIBLE IS NOT RACIST:

In no place in the Bible is black skin considered the curse of Cain or any other “mark” from God.  The Bible declares that God is not racist when it states: Then Peter open his mouth, and said, ‘Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.’ ” (Acts 10:34)

FOR MORE INFORMATION SEE:

Racism in Mormon Scripture

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