For many Saints, the 13 recent Essays released by the LDS church with regards to some challenging issues are both a blessing and a curse. I can’t count on all my fingers and toes and my wife’s fingers and toes; the once righteous active Saints who had a serious faith crisis start with one of the Essays. In many cases, these faith crises lead them right out of the Church. I feel the need to compile in one place, a quote from every Prophet since Brigham Young who espoused Racist views and expressed them publicly.
Why this is Significant?
In 2013 an Essay entitled Race and the Priesthood was released. Most members of the LDS church fall into one of three classes with regards to their feelings on Race.
1) Were not aware the LDS church ever limited Priesthood and temple blessings to those of African decent, this essay and admission came as a shocker.
2) Were aware of the Priesthood and Temple ban prior to 1978, and thought the Lord through Joseph Smith established this with a eye towards giving the Priesthood to those of African decent “someday”. That “someday” came in 1978.
3) Didn’t care, still don’t care, just follow the living Prophet.
In the essay it is clearly established that Joseph Smith knowingly allowed Black men to not only receive the priesthood but also attend the temple.
“During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood. One of these men, Elijah Abel, also participated in temple ceremonies in Kirtland, Ohio, and was later baptized as proxy for deceased relatives in Nauvoo, Illinois. There is no reliable evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. In a private Church council three years after Joseph Smith’s death, Brigham Young praised Q. Walker Lewis, a black man who had been ordained to the priesthood, saying, “We have one of the best Elders, an African.” (Race and the Priesthood, LDS.org)
For those familiar with the issue, this statement is probably the most shocking.
“Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.” (Race and the Priesthood, LDS.org)
To anyone who can read between the lines on this one, you can see the current LDS church has disavowed the previous teachings. This is a brush off statement. For anybody familiar with the teachings of previous Prophets on the topic of Race in the LDS church. Let there be no doubt, their views were not theories, but doctrine and policy, divinely given. Lets take a walk through time, starting with Brigham Young.
“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.” (Journal of Discourses)
“If there never was a prophet, or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before, I tell you, this people that are commonly called negroes are the children of old Cain. I know they are, I know that they cannot bear rule in the priesthood, for the curse on them was to remain upon them, until the residue of the posterity of Michal and his wife receive the blessings, the seed of Cain would have received had they not been cursed; and hold the keys of the priesthood, until the times of the restitution shall come, and the curse be wiped off from the earth, and from Michaels seed. Then Cain’s seed will be had in remembrance, and the time come when that curse should be wiped off.
“Now then in the kingdom of God on the earth, a man who has the African blood in him cannot hold one jot nor tittle of priesthood; Why? because they are the true eternal principals the Lord Almighty has ordained, and who can help it, men cannot. the angels cannot, and all the powers of earth and hell cannot take it off, but thus saith the Eternal I am, what I am, I take it off at my pleasure, and not one particle of power can that posterity of Cain have, until the time comes the says he will have it taken away. That time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privilege of and more. In the kingdom of God on the earth the Africans cannot hold one particle of power in Government. The subjects, the rightful servants of the residue of the children of Adam, and the residue of the children through the benign influence of the Spirit of the Lord have the privilege of seeing to the posterity of Cain; inasmuch as it is the Lords will they should receive the spirit of God by Baptism; and that is the end of their privilege; and there is not power on earth to give them any more power.” (Speech by Brigham Young in Joint Session of the Legislature. Feb. 5th 1852 giving his views on slavery.0
“Racial degeneration, resulting in differences in appearance and spiritual aptitude, has arisen since the fall. We know the circumstances under which the posterity of Cain (and later of Ham) were born with the characteristics of the black race. (Moses 5:16-41; 7:8,12,22; Abra. 1:20-27.) The Book of Mormon explains why the Lamanites received dark skins and a degenerate status. (2 Ne. 5:21-23.) If we had a full and true history of all races and nations, we would know the origins of all their distinctive characteristics. In the absence of such detailed information, however, we know only the general principle that all these changes from the physical and spiritual perfections of our common parents have been brought about by departure from the gospel truths. (Doctrines of Salvation, vol. 1, pp. 148-151; vol. 3, pp. 313-326.)” (Mormon Doctrine 1999 printing, p. 616)
“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 Personal Journal)
“Apostle Lorenzo Snow suggested that if a man divorced his black wife and married a white woman, “he would then be entitled to the priesthood.” LDS leaders concluded that being black or marrying a black person might prevent one from holding the priesthood and entering into an LDS temple.” (Religion of a Different Color, Pg 207)
Joseph F. Smith
I found this odd, Joseph F. Smith allowed a Black women to be sealed to Joseph Smith as his servant…?
“The same efforts he said had been made by Aunt Jane to receive her endowments and be sealed to her husband and have her children sealed to their parents and her appeal was made to all the Presidents from President Young down to the present First Presidency. But President Cannon conceived the idea that, under the circumstances, it would be proper to permit her to go to the temple to be adopted to the Prophet Joseph Smith as his servant and this was done. This seemed to ease her mind for a little while but did not satisfy her, and she still pleaded for her endowments” (“Excerpts From The Weekly Council Meetings Of The Quorum Of The Twelve Apostles as printed inMormonism—Shadow or Reality? p. 584).
Heber J. Grant
Heber, was well, just not very tactful…in general conference non-the-less.
“Well,” he said, “if none of you have lost it, I found these two dollars right by the door here and it is my money.” They said all right, and he put it in his pocket. No sooner had he got it in his pocket than up jumped a nigger and said: “Look here, George Washington Jones, you owe me two dollars; pay your honest debts!” He handed the two dollars to him. Another nigger jumps up and says: “Look here, Julius C. Brown, you owes me two dollars; pay your debt.” He got it, and in this way it went clear round. When the last man got it, up jumps George Washington Jones, and says: “Here, give me back the two dollars; you owes me two dollar.” No sooner had he got it in his pocket than a fellow rushes in and said “which of you niggers has found two dollars?” George Washington Jones took it out of his pocket and said: “Here, take your money and go home; we’ve all paid our debts.” (Heber J. Grant, Conference Report, October 1900, p.35)
George Albert Smith
This is the full letter sent by the First Presidency under George Albert Smith while he was Prophet.
“August 17, 1949
The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said: “Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.”
President Wilford Woodruff made the following statement: “The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.”
The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.
The First Presidency “
David O. McKay
An excerpt from the First Presidency under David O. McKay
“Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, “The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God….
“Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man’s mortal existence, extending back to man’s pre-existent state.”
December 15, 1969, Letter to church leaders, First Presidency
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 received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less.” (Mormon President and Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, “Doctrines of Salvation”, pp. 61.)
“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.” (Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith, “Doctrines of Salvation”, pp. 65-66.)
“It is very clear that the mark which was set upon the descendants of Cain was a skin of blackness…It has been noticed in our day that men who have lost the spirit of the Lord, and from whom His blessings have been withdrawn, have turned dark to such an extent as to excite the comments of all who have known them.” (Juvenile Instructor, vol. 26, p. 635)
Harold B. Lee
“There is no truth more plainly taught in the Gospel than that our condition in the next world will depend upon the kind of lives we live here. ‘All that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.’ (John 5:28-29.) Is it not just as reasonable to suppose that the conditions in which we now live have been determined by the kind of lives we lived in the pre-existent world of spirits? That the apostles understood this principle is indicated by their question to the Master when the man who was blind from his birth was healed of his blindness, ‘Master, who did sin, this man or his parents that he was born blind?’ (John 9:2.) Now perhaps you will have a partial answer to some of your questions as to why, if God is a just Father, that some of his children are born of an enlightened race and in a time when the Gospel is upon the earth, while others are born of a heathen parentage in a benighted, backward country; and still others are born to parents who have the mark of a black skin with which the seed of Cain were cursed and whose descendants were to be denied the rights of the priesthood of God” (Harold B. Lee, Decisions for Successful Living, pp. 164-165).
Spencer W. Kimball
“I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today…
The day of the Lamanites is nigh.
For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised.
In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome
The children in the home placement program in Utah are oftenlighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation.
“At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl–sixteen–sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents–on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather…
These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness.
One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.” (October, 1960, quoted in Mormon Publication: Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922-923.)
Ezra Taft Bensen
“Next, we must not participate in any so-called “blacklash” activity which might tend to further intensify inter-racial friction. Anti-Negro vigilante action, or mob action, of any kind fits perfectly into the Communist plan. This is one of the best ways to force the decent Negro into cooperating with militant Negro groups. The Communists are just as anxious to spearhead such anti-Negro actions as they are to organize demonstrations that are calculated to irritate white people.
We must insist that duly authorized legislative investigating committees launch an even more exhaustive study and expose the degree to which secret Communists have penetrated into the civil rights movement. The same needs to be done with militant anti-Negro groups. This is an effective way for the American people of both races to find out who are the false leaders among them.” (General Conference Report, October 1967, p. 38)
You may be stunned. As you can see, these were not just theories. Even more telling is the way in which the ban was lifted. The following is an account as recorded by President Kimball himself.
“‘I asked the Twelve not to go home when the time came. I said, ‘now would you be willing to remain in the temple with us?’ And they were. I offered the final prayer and I told the Lord if it wasn’t right, if He didn’t want this change to come in the Church that I would he true to it all the rest of my life, and I’d fight the world against it if that’s what He wanted. “We had this special prayer circle, then I knew that the time had come. I had a great deal to fight, of course, myself largely, because I had grown up with this thought that Negroes should not have the priesthood and I was prepared to go all the rest of my life till my death and fight for it and defend it as it was. But this revelation and assurance came to me so clearly that there was no question about it.” (Deseret News, Church Section, January 6, 1979, page 19)
I grew up being led to believe that there was some divine manifestation telling the brethren to give blacks the priesthood. Instead it was rather the opposite, the lack of a manifestation was the answer. To a family member, while discussing I suggested, “you think if we prayed about giving blacks the priesthood the answer would be yes too? The reason being, apparently Joseph Smith never intended (and presumably God) for them not to have it.
Honestly, if the Prophet can’t lead me astray, I would hate to have been a Black man after 1844 and before 1978, which believed in the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Could you imagine?
This is one of the reasons I can’t trust what the current brethren say about any contemporary topic. Specifically topics like Gay marriage and Ordain Women. For all we know, in a few years there might be an essay titled “Gays and the Priesthood”. With a excerpt that reads like this:
“Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that homosexuality is a sin or mental illness. That same sex marriages are a sin; or that homosexuals are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all prejudice and bigotry, past and present, in any form.”
This may seem far-fetched, but so did giving Blacks the priesthood….
So I guess the question is this, if a living Prophet contradicts a former Prophet, which one is right? Don’t they both speak for God?