Have you ever wondered why black men could not hold the priesthood until 1978? I was 7 years old in 1978 when the Official Declaration #2 was released, so I did not know much about it or even remember the huge change in the church. My entire life, I have been a good church going member up until the end of 2008. The ban on blacks holding the priesthood was always one of those weird things from the church’s history that I knew little about.
For the past couple of years, I have researched the history of the church and the ban on blacks holding the priesthood is very troubling to me. My #1 issue with the church is polygamy; the priesthood ban for the blacks is my #2 issue.
Many members will refer to the Book of Abraham as one of the scriptural reasons for the priesthood ban on black men. The Book of Abraham has some significant issues since some of the Egyptian scrolls that Joseph Smith used to “translate” into the Book of Abraham were recovered in 1967 and presented to the church. Modern Egyptologists have had the opportunity to translate the scrolls and they have all agreed that the scrolls have nothing to do with the words written in the Book of Abraham. So, is the Book of Abraham a legitimate reason to place the priesthood ban on the blacks?
Amazingly enough, a black man by the name of Elijah Abel was ordained into the priesthood while Joseph Smith was still the “prophet” of the church. Joseph Smith actually was very accepting of black people into the church. The trouble starts with Bloody Brigham, oh I mean Brigham Young.
After Joseph Smith was killed, Brigham Young did not allow Elijah Abel, who had already been ordained into the priesthood, to receive his endowment in the Nauvoo Temple. The statements that Brigham Young said about black people are just appalling. Here is an example.
"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, Volume 10, page 110.)
This quote from Brigham Young just sickens me! This was his response when he was asked about interracial marriage. Now I ask you, have you ever witnessed a white man die when he marries a black woman and has mixed race children? There is a family in my neighborhood that is a mixed race family. They are both very faithful members and are doing just fine.
In 1848, after the Mormons came to Utah, Brigham Young released the official declaration that prohibited all black men from holding the priesthood. This also included prohibiting any black members of the church from entering the temples. This is where the problem truly started; Brigham Young was a racist.
Since Brigham Young, various “prophets” and church leaders gave their explanations for the priesthood ban on blacks. One of the explanations that really bothers me is the idea that black people were less valiant in the preexistence and because of this, they were born black. How do you tell a young black boy or girl that they are black because they were not as good in the preexistence as the white boy or girl down the street? How does a person actually control what family or race they are born into?
Here are a couple of other gems from two “prophets” after Brigham Young.
John Taylor, 3rd President of the Church
"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;..." Journal of Discourses, Vol. 22, page 304
Wilford Woodruff, 4th President of the Church
"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 Journal)
Thanks to MormonThink for this great information.
There is so much more I could say, but then this post would even be longer than it already is. The Book of Mormon is a whole other story about people having their skin turned dark because of unrighteousness. The modern leaders of the church should have known better. Regardless of the general view of black people throughout the 1800s and the 1900s, the church and its leaders should have been above all this since they are receiving the inspirations and counsels from God. Today, the church says that everything is good and that we should not focus on the past. The problem is that the history of the church is an embarrassment when issues like this come up. As much as the church wants to whitewash history and make everything look rosy, these problematic issues will not go away.