Mormonism and the Negro: A look at their historical position

by Matt Slick

According to Mormon history and authoritative Mormon teachers, the Negro, as they were referred to, are a cursed race because they were not faithful to God in their first estate (the pre-existent life with God). Hence, when they are born, they are born in black-skinned families.

The early Mormon church was highly prejudicial against black people. And though there has been a change in attitude to blacks as of June 9, 1978, when they were finally allowed into the Mormon priesthood, it cannot be denied that Mormonism was, up until very recently, a segregated church.

Please consider the following small sample of official Mormon writings as proof of their prejudice, their inconsistency, their doctrinal waffling, their yielding to political pressure, and their failure to truly represent Christ on earth:

  • "At the time the devil was cast out of heaven, there were some spirits that did not know who had authority, whether God or the devil. They consequently did not take a very active part on either side, but rather thought the devil had been abused, and considered he had rather the best claim to the government. These spirits were not considered bad enough to be cast down to hell, and never have bodies; neither were they considered worthy of an honorable body on this earth." (A speech by Elder Orson Hyde, delivered before the High Priests' Quorum, in Nauvoo, April 27th, 1845, printed in Liverpool, p. 30).
  • "The very fact that God would allow those spirits who were less worthy in the spirit world to partake of a mortal body at all is further evidence of his mercy," (Mormonism and the Negro, part I, p. 48-50).
  • "It is the Mormon belief that in our pre-mortal state there were a large number of individuals who, due to some act or behavior of their own in the pre-existence, forfeited the right to hold the Priesthood during their mortal lives . . . the Negro is thus denied the Priesthood because of his own behavior in the pre-existence," (The Church and the Negro, p. 42-43).
  • "As a result of his rebellion, Cain was cursed and told that "the earth" would not thereafter yield him its abundance as previously. In addition he became the first mortal to be cursed as a son of perdition . . . The Lord placed on Cain a mark of a dark skin, and he became the ancestor of the black race. (Moses 5; Gen. 4; Teachings, p. 169)." (Mormon Doctrine, by Bruce McConkie, p. 109.)
  • "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, vol. 10, p. 110).
    The reader should be reminded that Brigham Young, the second prophet of the Mormon church, said that whatever he preached was as good as scripture (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95, 264).
  • " . . . the church went to court on several occasions to block Negroes from moving into the San Francisco neighborhood in which the headquarters was located," (The Christian Century, Sept. 29, 1965, p. 1184).
  • On Oct. 28, 1865, the Mormon Church paper Millennial Star printed an article which stated that "Mormonism is that kind of religion the entire divinity of which is invalidated, and its truth utterly rejected, the moment that any one of its leading principles I acknowledged to be false . . . "
  • The Mormon write John J. Stewart stated: "If we as members of the Church are going to pick and choose among the Prophet's teachings, and say 'this one is of God, we can accept it, but this one is of man, we will reject that,' then we are undermining the whole structure of our faith . . . " (Mormonism and the Negro, p. 19).
  • "The prophets have declared that there are at least two major stipulations that have to be met before the Negroes will be allowed to possess the Priesthood. The first requirement relates to time. The Negroes will not be allowed to hold the Priesthood during mortality, in fact, not until after the resurrection of all of Adam's children. The other stipulation requires that Abel's seed receive the first opportunity of having the priesthood . . . the last of Adam's children will not be resurrected until the end of the millennium. Therefore, the Negroes will not receive the Priesthood until after that time . . . this will not happen until after the thousand years of Christ's reign on earth," (The Church and the Negro, 1967, p. 45-48).
  • Albert B. Fritz, NAACP branch president, said at a civil rights meeting Friday night that his organization promised not to picket the 133rd Semi-Annual General Conference of the Church on Temple Square. He added, however, that the NAACP will picket Temple Square, next Saturday if the Church does not present an 'acceptable' statement on civil rights before that day," (Deseret News, Oct. 5, 1963).
  • "Some 3,000 students, led by the BSU, paraded peacefully on the school's campus in Seattle Monday over the issue of alleged racism at BYU," (Deseret News, March 10, 1970).
  • "The demonstration was the latest in a series of protests against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) because the church bars Negroes from its priesthood," (Deseret News, Jan. 10, 1970).
  • In June of 1978 the Mormon church officiated a "revelation" stating that blacks could then hold the priesthood.

The Bible says that God is not a respecter of persons, but the Mormon church is: First in its prejudice of the blacks for being black and second in its succumbing to political and social pressure to change its doctrinal views. Is such a church really from God?

I am greatly indebted to the book Mormonism--Shadow or Reality by Jerald and Sandra Tanner for the sources cited above.



About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.