There’s currently lot of media activity around The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and racism after a controversial article hit the press this week. We wanted to first share some snippets from official Church statements about Mormonism and racism:
The gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone. The Book of Mormon states, “black and white, bond and free, male and female; … all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). This is the Church’s official teaching.
People of all races have always been welcomed and baptized into the Church since its beginning. In fact, by the end of his life in 1844 Joseph Smith, the founding prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, opposed slavery. During this time some black males were ordained to the priesthood. At some point the Church stopped ordaining male members of African descent, although there were a few exceptions. It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended. [It ended in 1978.]
The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form….
Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The Church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding.
We understand that some may have questions about Mormon history and this priesthood ban. But as the statement says, we don’t fully understand it. So, rather than try to participate in speculations about the whys on the priesthood ban for blacks from Mormon history, we wanted to share links to personal thoughts, experiences, and testimonies of black members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hearing their stories may help answer the question that some people may have: Why would someone who is black choose to be Mormon? We’ll let our black brothers and sisters answer that (and other questions you may have about Mormon life and beliefs) for you.
And we hope that if you have questions about this issue, that you will take your questions to the Source of answers — God, our Heavenly Father. It is through prayer and receiving answers to prayer that these people have chosen to follow this faith. Going to God with questions and relying on Him for guidance is central to Mormonism, and something we encourage anyone to do in their life, regardless of what the questions may be.
More content about and from black Mormons will be featured in posts for the rest of this week.