Criticism of Mormonism/Websites/MormonThink/Blacks and the Priesthood

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Response to MormonThink page "Blacks and the Priesthood"

A FairMormon Analysis of: MormonThink, a work by author: Anonymous
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Response to claim: "The leaders of the church up through the 1970s made it very clear why blacks were denied the priesthood"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

The leaders of the church up through the 1970s made it very clear why blacks were denied the priesthood....Mike Wallace: From 1830 to 1978, blacks could not become priests in the Mormon church. Right?

Gordon B. Hinckley: That's correct. Mike Wallace: Why? Gordon B. Hinckley: Because the leaders of the church at that time interpreted that doctrine that way.

Critic's Comment: Hinckley has worked for the Church almost all of his life. He has been a General Authority since 1958. He was in Quorum of the Twelve meetings when the priesthood ban was discussed, for at least three decades. He was an Apostle for some 17 years of the priesthood ban. If any Church official would be qualified to answer this question it would be GBH. To not give a complete, truthful answer to these questions is disappointing to say the least. He should have stated whether or not the leaders of the church at that time interpreted that doctrine correctly or not - that's what people really want to know.

FairMormon Response

Question: What did Church leaders after Brigham Young think of the priesthood ban?

John Taylor conducted an investigation and concluded the policy had started under Joseph Smith, rather than Brigham Young

In 1879, John Taylor conducted an investigation and concluded the policy had started under Joseph Smith, rather than Brigham Young, despite receiving mixed information.[1] As part of this investigation Zebedee Coltrin recalled that Joseph Smith said in 1834 that "the Spirit of the Lord saith the Negro had no right nor cannot hold the Priesthood." However, this claim is suspect given Coltrin's errors on the circumstances of Elijah Abel's ordination, participation in Kirtland temple ordinances, and retention in the Seventies quorum all under the supervision of Joseph Smith.[2]

President George Q. Cannon in 1895 asserted that some of Young's teachings about miscegenation and the seed of Cain had first been taught by Joseph Smith.[3]

B.H. Roberts was the first to argue, based on the Book of Abraham, that the curse of Cain had continued to modern blacks through the lineage of Ham

Nearly forty years after the ban started, B.H. Roberts was the first to argue, based on the Book of Abraham, that the curse of Cain had continued to modern blacks through the lineage of Ham.[4]

George Albert Smith, indicated that the priesthood ban had been imposed by "direct commandment from the Lord"

President George Albert Smith, indicated that the priesthood ban had been imposed by "direct commandment from the Lord."

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.
—First Presidency statement, August 17, 1949

Joseph Fielding Smith opined that blacks may have been less valiant in the pre-mortal conflict between God and Satan

Joseph Fielding Smith opined that blacks may have been less valiant in the pre-mortal conflict between God and Satan (however, he rejected that they may have been neutral in the war in heaven).[5]

David O. McKay believed that the ban was "not doctrine but...policy"

  • David O. McKay believed that the ban was "not doctrine but...policy," as reported by Sterling McMurrin,[6] his son Llewelyn McKay,[7] and Elder Paul H. Dunn.[8] President McKay told Elder Marion D. Hanks that "he had pleaded and pleaded with the Lord, but had not had the answer he sought."[9]
  • The "Missouri policy theory" attributing the ban to Joseph Smith arising from condition in Missouri was first popularized in 1970 by author Stephen Taggert,[10] and President Hugh B. Brown reportedly embraced it.[11] Other authors found this theory wanting.[12]

Harold B. Lee was inclined to reconfirm the ban

  • Harold B. Lee was inclined to reconfirm the ban,[13] though Church Historian Leonard Arrington
...asserts that President Lee, shortly before his death, sought the Lord's will on the question of blacks and the priesthood during'three days and nights [of] fasting in the upper room of the temple,...but the only answer he received was "not yet." Arrington relied on an unidentified person close to President Lee, but President Lee's son-in-law and biographer found no record of such an incident and thought it doubtful.[14]

Following Joseph Fielding Smith's death, President Lee did say, "For those who don't believe in modern revelation there is no adequate explanation. Those who do understand revelation stand by and wait until the Lord speaks...It's only a matter of time before the black achieves full status in the Church. We must believe in the justice of God. The black will achieve full status, we're just waiting for that time."[15]

President Kimball said that the day might come when they would be given the priesthood, but should the day come it will be a matter of revelation

President Kimball began his administration by holding a press conference. When asked about the ban, he said:

[I have given it] "a great deal of thought, a great deal of prayer. The day might come when they would be given the priesthood, but that day has not come yet. Should the day come it will be a matter of revelation. Before changing any important policy, it has to be through a revelation from the Lord."[16]

He had previously written to his son:

"...I have wished the Lord had given us a little more clarity in the matter. But for me, it is enough...I know the Lord could change His policy and release the ban and forgive the possible error (?) which brought about the deprivation. If the time comes, that He will do, I am sure."[17]

In 1976, he mentioned

"his concern for giving the priesthood to all men, and said that he had been praying about it for fifteen years without an answer...but I am going to keep praying about it."[18]


Response to claim: "The term 'white' was changed to 'pure' in 1981"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

2 Nephi 30: 6

"...their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people." NOTE: THE TERM 'WHITE' WAS CHANGED TO 'PURE' IN 1981.
....
Although the Mormon Church will not make available the handwritten manuscript of the Book of Mormon, the RLDS Church has the handwritten printer's copy, which was given to the printer to set the type for the first printing. It too, agrees with the 1830 Edition. It reads "white".

So, someone originally wrote "white" (1830) and then someone changed it to "pure" (1840) and then back to "white" (after 1840) and then finally to "pure" (1981).

FairMormon Response

Question: Why was the phrase "white and delightsome" changed to "pure and delightsome" in the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon?

This change was originally made in the 1840 edition, lost, and then restored again in the 1981 edition

This change was originally made in the 1840 edition but because subsequent editions were based off the European editions (which followed the 1837 edition), the change did not get perpetuated until the preparation of the 1981 edition. The change is not (as the critics want to portray it) a "recent" change designed to remove a "racist" original.

The idea that the Church has somehow "hidden" the original text or manuscripts of the Book of Mormon in order to hide this is simply unbelievable. Replicas of the 1830 Book of Mormon are easily obtained on Amazon.com, and the text is freely available online. In addition, Royal Skousen has extensively studied the original Book of Mormon manuscripts and published a critical text edition of the Book of Mormon. The claim by the critics that the Church has somehow hidden these items is seriously outdated.

The change in the 1840 edition was probably made by Joseph Smith

This change actually first appeared in the 1840 edition, and was probably made by Joseph Smith:

  • 2 Nephi 30:6 (1830 edition, italics added): "...they shall be a white and a delightsome people."
  • 2 Nephi 30:6 (1840 edition, italics added): "...they shall be a pure and a delightsome people."

The 1837 edition was used for the European editions, which were in turn used as the basis for the 1879 and 1920 editions, so the change was lost until the 1981 edition

This particular correction is part of the changes referred to in the note "About this Edition" printed in the introductory pages:

"Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith."

It’s doubtful that Joseph Smith had racism in mind when the change was done in 1840 or other similar verses would have been changed as well.

The "pure" meaning likely reflected the original intent of the passage and translator

Furthermore, "white" was a synonym for "pure" at the time Joseph translated the Book of Mormon:

3. Having the color of purity; pure; clean; free from spot; as white robed innocence....5. Pure; unblemished....6. In a scriptural sense, purified from sin; sanctified. Psalm 51.[19]

Thus, the "pure" meaning likely reflected the original intent of the passage and translator.


Response to claim: "Slaves were bought and sold in Utah Territory with the approval of Brigham Young"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Slaves were bought and sold in Utah Territory with the approval of Brigham Young. "By 1850 there were approximately sixty blacks residing in the Utah Territory. The majority were slaves living in Salt Lake, Davis, and Utah counties."

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "Under President Jimmy Carter, Brigham Young University and possibly the LDS Church itself was in danger of losing their tax exempt status if they continued to discriminate against blacks"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

The Church has maintained that the 1978 revelation giving blacks the priesthood was not due to any form of public pressure but was simply God's will that blacks should not be given the priesthood until 1978.. ..... Under President Jimmy Carter, Brigham Young University and possibly the LDS Church itself was in danger of losing their tax exempt status if they continued to discriminate against blacks. In early 1978, the Federal Government was threatening to withhold Federal Student Loans to BYU students as long as BYU practiced "discrimination". A particular complication was the possibility that the Church Educational Institutions could lose their tax-exempt status due to discrimination. This could cost the Church tens of millions of dollars. The Church has always denied that financial considerations have played a role. However, in 1976, the tax-exempt status of Bob Jones University was withdrawn revoked retroactively to 1970 because it did not allow blacks. Something similar could very well have happened to BYU if the courts felt the LDS Church practiced description [discrimination].

FairMormon Response

Question: Did President Jimmy Carter threaten the Church's tax-exempt status because of their policy on blacks and the priesthood?

President Carter had a brief meeting with President Kimball, Representative Gunn McKay, and Representative Jim Santini on 11 March 1977 at the White House

On March 11, 1977 at 12:03 pm President Carter met with Spencer W. Kimball, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Representative Gunn McKay (D-Utah), and Representative Jim Santini (D-Nevada) for approximately 20 minutes in the White House.[20] This meeting, noted in President Carter's White House diary, is popularly rumored among ex-Mormons to be the meeting in which Carter threatened the Church with a rescinding of the Church's tax-exempt status over the issue of the priesthood ban.

An image of a page from President Jimmy Carter's White House diary for the day of 11 March 1977 showing a meeting with President Spencer W. Kimball. The Daily Diary of President Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter Library & Museum off-site

President Carter visited Salt Lake City on November 27 1978 for program in the Salt Lake Tabernacle

One ex-Mormon on the Recovery from Mormonism message board claimed to have located an "the actual photograph" of the 11 March 1977 meeting on LDS.org! [21] That photograph, however, is actually of a meeting in the Tabernacle on November 27, 1978.

President Kimball presents U.S. President Jimmy Carter with statue, Salt Lake Tabernacle, November 27, 1978. Photo located on https://www.lds.org/churchhistory/presidents/controllers/potcController.jsp?leader=12&topic=multimedia#

This meeting was documented in the January 1979 Ensign:

Two presidents saluted the family as one of life’s greatest institutions at a special November 27 program in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, culminating National Family Week in the United States.

Before a capacity crowd, with national and international television cameras whirring, President Spencer W. Kimball urged his listeners to recognize the family as “our chief source of physical, emotional, and moral strength.” He presented United States President Jimmy Carter with a bronze statuette depicting the family circle. The miniature of a father, mother, and child is based on the original work by Utah sculptor Dennis Smith, Circle of Love, one of the pieces in the Relief Society monument to women in Nauvoo. [22]

President Kimball wrote a letter to President Carter in May 1977 to present a copy of Carter's genealogy

President Kimball wrote a letter to President Carter in May 1977, only two months after the March 11 meeting:

W. Don Ladd, Regional Representative of the Twelve, and Thomas E. Daniels of the Genealogical Department of the Church presented a family tree and a leather-bound volume of genealogical information on the Carter family to the President on 31 May.

The book included a letter to President Carter from President Spencer W. Kimball, in which he spoke of the Latter-day Saints’ “deep reverence and gratitude for our ancestors, which in turn gives us greater sense of responsibility to our posterity.”

President Carter found the Church’s research “very exciting to me,” and he said, “I look forward to studying the chart. This is an area of knowledge I’ve never had.” The two-inch thick volume included several 8-by-10-inch pedigree charts and family group sheets, along with a research summary of each line researched and what was still missing from those lines. This is the first time the Church has ever given such a gift to a president of the United States. [23]

The allegation that the LDS church's tax-free status was threatened in 1978 seems to have originated prior to 1988, and resurfaced in 2001

On June 2, 1988, the Chicago Tribune quoted "critics" of the Church as speculating that Kimball's meeting with Carter involved the threat of the Church losing its tax exemption. The Tribune quotes Ogden Kraut, whom they stated was an "an excommunicated Mormon fundamentalist writer-photographer":

Despite church claims that the change came from revelation, critics say the move was pure business, that the Mormons wanted to expand further into black Third World countries and would not be able to do so as long as blacks were discriminated against, and that the Mormon church, the fastest growing mainstream church in the U.S., stood to lose its tax-exempt status for discriminating against blacks.

``We were told by a secretary in the church that Spencer Kimball spent 36 minutes talking to President (Jimmy) Carter, and shortly thereafter, the so-called `revelation` came down,`` said Ogden Kraut, an excommunicated Mormon fundamentalist writer-photographer.

Fundamentalist Mormons take the Bible and the Book of Mormon literally, and insist that God doesn`t make revelations to earthlings, Kraut said.

``My belief is that it was the expedient thing to do. The church didn`t want to lose its exemption,`` Kraut said. [24]

The claim resurfaced in 2001 when a claim that the federal government had threatened to revoke the Church's tax-exempt status back in 1978 was made by a woman named Kathy Erickson in a letter to the Salt Lake Tribune on March 11, 2001. Erickson stated,

Gainful Revelation Date: March 11, 2001

What’s done is done. There no longer is any prejudice against blacks in the Mormon church, the power of money took care of that. Back in 1978 the federal government informed the LDS Church that unless it allowed blacks full membership (including the priesthood) they would have to cease calling themselves a non-profit organization and start paying income taxes. On $16.5 million a day in tithing alone that’s a lot of tax monies that could be better used in building up the Kingdom of God.

The church immediately saw the error of its ways and the brethren appealed to God for a revelation; it came quickly. God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform, and today The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has nothing but love for all races of people on Earth.”[25]

A representative of the Church Public Affairs department responded:

Distorted History Thursday, April 5, 2001

It's one thing to distort history, quite another to invent it. Kathy Erickson (Forum, March 11) claims that the federal government threatened The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with its tax-exempt status in 1978 because of the church's position regarding blacks and the priesthood.

We state categorically that the federal government made no such threat in 1978 or at any other time. The decision to extend the blessings of the priesthood to all worthy males had nothing to do with federal tax policy or any other secular law. In the absence of proof, we conclude that Ms. Erickson is seriously mistaken.

BRUCE L. OLSEN Public Affairs Department The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [26]


Response to claim: "The 1978 'revelation' was just prior to the temple opening in Sao Paulo Brazil"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

The 1978 "revelation" was just prior to the temple opening in Sao Paulo Brazil. They had built an area office, distribution center and temple. The population has intermarried to an extent that it could not be determined if the people have any black lineage. The Church had publicly stated that people could not enter the temple if they "had even a drop of negro blood." Who was going to use the temple in Brazil? This was creating a public image nightmare in Brazil.

FairMormon Response

Gospel Topics: "Church authorities encountered faithful black and mixed-ancestry Mormons who had contributed financially and in other ways to the building of the São Paulo temple, a sanctuary they realized they would not be allowed to enter once it was completed"

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics (2013):

Brazil in particular presented many challenges. Unlike the United States and South Africa where legal and de facto racism led to deeply segregated societies, Brazil prided itself on its open, integrated, and mixed racial heritage. In 1975, the Church announced that a temple would be built in São Paulo, Brazil. As the temple construction proceeded, Church authorities encountered faithful black and mixed-ancestry Mormons who had contributed financially and in other ways to the building of the São Paulo temple, a sanctuary they realized they would not be allowed to enter once it was completed. Their sacrifices, as well as the conversions of thousands of Nigerians and Ghanaians in the 1960s and early 1970s, moved Church leaders.[27]—(Click here to continue)


Question: Was the priesthood ban lifted as the result of social or government pressure?

Social pressure was actually on the decline after the Civil Rights movement and coordinated protests at BYU athletic events ceased in 1971

Jan Shipps, a Methodist scholar and celebrated scholar of Mormon history and culture, considers it factual that "this revelation came in the context of worldwide evangelism rather than domestic politics or American social and cultural circumstances." She wrote:

A revelation in Mormondom rarely comes as a bolt from the blue; the process involves asking questions and getting answers. The occasion of questioning has to be considered, and it must be recalled that while questions about priesthood and the black man may have been asked, an answer was not forthcoming in the ‘60s when the church was under pressure about the matter from without, nor in the early ‘70s when liberal Latter-day Saints agitated the issue from within. The inspiration which led President Kimball and his counselors to spend many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple pleading long and earnestly for divine guidance did not stem from a messy situation with blacks picketing the church’s annual conference in Salt Lake City, but was "the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth." [28]


Response to claim: "some of these people may be taking liberties with the phrase 'voice of God'"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Bruce McConkie, reports in “The New Revelation on the Priesthood” in Priesthood (Deseret Book, 1981) that “From the midst of eternity, the voice of God, conveyed by the power of the Spirit, spoke to his prophet . . . And we all heard the same voice, received the same message, and became personal witnesses that the word received was the mind and will and voice of the Lord. President Kimball’s prayer was answered and our prayers were answered. He heard the voice and we heard the same voice” (128). He reaffirms, “And when President Kimball finished his prayer, the Lord gave a revelation by the power of the Holy Ghost” (133). However, some of these people may be taking liberties with the phrase "voice of God" as others like Gordon B. Hinckley never claimed to have heard an actual voice. It was more of a feeling that they were doing something right by reversing the ban.

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "Although we don't normally quote from sources who are unwilling to have their name published"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Although we don't normally quote from sources who are unwilling to have their name published, we decided to add this account from someone we know who worked in the administrative staff at the MTC during the time of the announcement:

We were told, by visiting General Authorities and others from the Church Office Building, that it was not a revelation, but a "negative revelation." That is, the First Presidency and the Twelve decided to tell the Lord that they were going to change the policy regarding blacks and the LDS priesthood "unless He gave them a sign to the contrary." In the absence of any sign, they changed the policy. No one officially coming over from SLC to the MTC at the time denied this story. It was later that I heard the word "revelation" actually used in conjunction with it. But Elder Le Grand Richard's statements in his interview with Chris Vlachos and Wesley P. Walters supports this version of the events.

Perhaps many "revelations" within the church have been "received" this way?

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "It seems likely from President Spencer W. Kimball's statement printed in the church's own newspaper that he did not receive any word from God concerning the matter"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

It seems likely from President Spencer W. Kimball's statement printed in the church's own newspaper that he did not receive any word from God concerning the matter (emphasis added):

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 be 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 4)

It would appear then, that when President Kimball asked the Lord if He had any objections to his changing the doctrine, he received no answer from heaven. Since God did not seem to contest the idea, Kimball felt he had the "assurance" that it must be the Lord's will. This, of course, seems like a very unusual way to obtain a "revelation."

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "Alexander Morrison ....'How grateful I am that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has from its beginnings stood strongly against racism in any of its malignant manifestations'"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Church leaders act as if racism did not exist in the Church....From an Ensign article of September 2000 by General Authority Alexander Morrison ...."How grateful I am that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has from its beginnings stood strongly against racism in any of its malignant manifestations."

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "Isn't what GBH saying is wrong exactly what the Church did?"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Gordon B. Hinckley: Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible? Critic's point: Isn't what GBH saying is wrong exactly what the Church did? The Church assumed blacks were not eligible for the priesthood regardless of how righteous they were and they did this for 150 years.

The Need for Greater Kindness

April 2006 Priesthood Session

FairMormon Response

Gospel Topics: "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 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"

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

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 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.

Since that day in 1978, the Church has looked to the future, as membership among Africans, African Americans and others of African descent has continued to grow rapidly. While Church records for individual members do not indicate an individual’s race or ethnicity, the number of Church members of African descent is now in the hundreds of thousands.

The Church proclaims that redemption through Jesus Christ is available to the entire human family on the conditions God has prescribed. It affirms that God is “no respecter of persons”24 and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him. The teachings of the Church in relation to God’s children are epitomized by a verse in the second book of Nephi: “[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.[29]—(Click here to continue)


Question: If a doctrine is repudiated, does that mean that it was false when it was being taught?

Some ideas that were once taught are now considered false

Several teachings that were once considered doctrinal in the 19th-century Church have been repudiated by the modern Church. Among these are polygamy, the "Adam-God theory," the priesthood ban on members of African descent, and "blood atonement."

In the case of the "Adam-God theory," there was disagreement within the Church leadership regarding whether or not the teaching was true. The teaching was specifically repudiated by the Church.

Some ideas that were taught are considered to be true, but no longer authorized

On the other hand, the practice of polygamy was institutionalized within the Church and was only stopped when it became necessary in order for the Church to progress. Although the Church repudiates the practice of polygamy today, it does not repudiate the practice of polygamy among early Church members in the 19th-century. In other words, it does not consider the doctrine of polygamy to be false for the time - it would only consider it to be "false," in a sense, for the present day among living members of the Church.


Response to claim: "Many religions in the 1800s believed that the curse put upon Cain in Genesis was black skin"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Many religions in the 1800s believed that the curse put upon Cain in Genesis was black skin. It wasn't just the Mormons. The Catholics did not believe this though.

FairMormon Response

Gospel Topics: "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 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"

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

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 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.

Since that day in 1978, the Church has looked to the future, as membership among Africans, African Americans and others of African descent has continued to grow rapidly. While Church records for individual members do not indicate an individual’s race or ethnicity, the number of Church members of African descent is now in the hundreds of thousands.

The Church proclaims that redemption through Jesus Christ is available to the entire human family on the conditions God has prescribed. It affirms that God is “no respecter of persons”24 and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him. The teachings of the Church in relation to God’s children are epitomized by a verse in the second book of Nephi: “[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.[30]—(Click here to continue)


Gospel Topics: "Even after 1852, at least two black Mormons continued to hold the priesthood"

Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

Even after 1852, at least two black Mormons continued to hold the priesthood. When one of these men, Elijah Abel, petitioned to receive his temple endowment in 1879, his request was denied. Jane Manning James, a faithful black member who crossed the plains and lived in Salt Lake City until her death in 1908, similarly asked to enter the temple; she was allowed to perform baptisms for the dead for her ancestors but was not allowed to participate in other ordinances. The curse of Cain was often put forward as justification for the priesthood and temple restrictions. Around the turn of the century, another explanation gained currency: blacks were said to have been less than fully valiant in the premortal battle against Lucifer and, as a consequence, were restricted from priesthood and temple blessings.[31] —(Click here to continue)


Question: What are the "curse of Cain" and the "curse of Ham"?

There is a distinction between the “curse” and the “mark” of Cain

The "curse of Cain" resulted in Cain being cut off from the presence of the Lord. The Genesis and Moses accounts both attest to this. The Book of Mormon teaches this principle in general when it speaks about those who keep the commandments will prosper in the land, while those who don't will be cut off from the presence off the Lord. This type of curse was applied to the Lamanites when they rejected the teachings of the prophets.

The exact nature of the "mark" of Cain, on the other hand, is unknown. The scriptures don't say specifically what it was, except that it was for Cain's protection, so that those finding him wouldn't slay him. Many people, both in an out of the Church, have assumed that the mark and the curse are the same thing.


Question: When did a biblical curse become associated with the "Hamites?"

The origin of the "curse of Ham" pre-dates the establishment of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by hundreds of years

The basis used is Genesis 9:18-27:

18 And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19 These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.
20 And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard:
21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23 And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.
24 And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him.
25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.
Genesis 9:18-27 (emphasis added)

Although these verses clearly state that Canaan is cursed, it is not clear that the curse would be extended to his descendants. The use of Genesis 9 to associate a biblical curse with the descendants of Ham actually began in the third and fourth centuries A.D. [32] This "curse" became associated with the Canaanites. Origen, an early Christian scholar and theologian, makes reference to Ham's "discolored posterity" and the "ignobility of the race he fathered." [33] Likewise, Augustine and Ambrose of Milan speculated that the descendants of Ham carried a curse that was associated with a darkness of skin. This concept was shared among Jews, Muslims and Christians. The first "racial justification" for slavery appeared in the fifteenth century in Spain and Portugal. In the American colonies, the "curse of Ham" was being used in the late 1600's to justify the practice of slavery. [34] As author Stephen R. Haynes puts it, "Noah's curse had become a stock weapon in the arsenal of slavery's apologists, and references to Genesis 9 appeared prominently in their publications." [35]


Question: When did the "mark of Cain" become associated with black skin?

The biblical “mark of Cain” associated with black skin by Protestants to justify slavery

The idea that the “mark of Cain” and the "curse of Ham" was a black skin is something that was used by many Protestants as a way to morally and biblically justify slavery. This idea did not originate with Latter-day Saints, although the existence of the priesthood ban prior to 1978 tends to cause some people to assume that it was a Latter-day Saint concept.

Dr. Benjamin M. Palmer, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in New Orleans from 1856 until 1902, was a "moving force" in the Southern Presbyterian church during that period. Palmer believed that the South's cause during the Civil War was supported by God. Palmer believed the Hebrew history supported the concept that God had intended for some people to be formed "apart from others" and placed in separate territories in order to "prevent admixture of races." [36] Palmer claimed that, "[t]he descendants of Ham, on the contrary, in whom the sensual and corporeal appetites predominate, are driven like an infected race beyond the deserts of Sahara, where under a glowing sky nature harmonized with their brutal and savage disposition." [37] Palmer declared:

Upon Ham was pronounced the doom of perpetual servitude—proclaimed with double emphasis, as it is twice repeated that he shall be the servant of Japheth and the servant of Shem. Accordingly, history records not a single example of any member of this group lifting itself, by any process of self-development, above the savage condition. From first to last their mental and moral characteristics, together with the guidance of Providence, have marked them for servitude; while their comparative advance in civilization and their participation in the blessings of salvation, have ever been suspended upon this decreed connexion [sic] with Japhet [sic] and with Shem. [38]

Unfortunately, among some, the Protestant concept that God has separated people by race has persisted even into modern times.

God has separated people for His own purpose. He has erected barriers between the nations, not only land and sea barriers, but also ethnic, cultural, and language barriers. God has made people different one from another and intends those differences to remain. (Letter to James Landrith from Bob Jones University, 1998) [39]


Question: How did the "curse of Ham" or "curse of Cain" become associated with Mormonism?

Early members of the Church brought this culturally-conditioned belief in the "curse of Ham" with them into Mormonism

Prior to 1978, the doctrinal folklore that blacks are the descendants of Cain and Ham and that they carry the “mark of Cain” was a belief among some members of the Church, and is occasionally heard even today. The dubious “folk doctrine” in question is no longer even relevant, since it was used to incorrectly explain and justify a Church policy that was reversed over thirty years ago. Prior to the 1978 revelation, however, the Saints used the “mark of Cain” to explain the policy of denying priesthood ordination to those of African descent—a policy for which no revelatory prophetic explanation was ever actually given.

Early members of the Church were, for the most part, converts from Protestant sects. It is understandable that they naturally brought this culturally-conditioned belief in the "curse of Ham" with them into Mormonism. Many modern members of the Church, for instance, are unaware that Joseph Smith ordained at least one African-American man to the priesthood: Elijah Abel.

At some point during Brigham Young's administration, the priesthood ban was initiated. No revelation, if there ever was one, was published, although many throughout the history of the Church have assumed that the reason for the ban must be that blacks were the cursed seed of Cain, and therefore not allowed the priesthood (usually stemming from a misreading of Abraham 1). The correct answer as to why the ban was put into place is: we don't know. For further information on the priesthood ban, see Blacks and the priesthood.

Bruce R. McConkie in 1978, after the revelation granting blacks the priesthood:

It is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young…or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. [40]

Prior to this statement by Elder Bruce R. McConkie in 1978, the doctrinal folklore that blacks are the descendants of Cain and Ham and that they carry the “mark of Cain” was a belief among some members of the Church, and is occasionally heard even today. The dubious “folk doctrine” in question is no longer even relevant, since it was used to incorrectly explain and justify a Church policy that was reversed over thirty years ago. Prior to the 1978 revelation, however, the Saints used the “mark of Cain” to explain the policy of denying priesthood ordination to those of African descent—a policy for which no revelation or prophetic explanation was ever actually given.

The speculation was that in the premortal existence, certain spirits were set aside to come to Earth through a lineage that was cursed and marked, first by Cain’s murder of his brother and covenant with Satan (Genesis 4:11–15; Moses 5:23–25, Moses 5:36–40), and then again later by Ham’s offense against his father Noah. The reasons why this lineage was set apart weren’t clear, but it was speculated they were somehow less valiant than their premortal brethren during the war in heaven. In this life, then, the holy priesthood was to be withheld from all who had had any trace of that lineage.

As neat and coherent as that scenario might seem, the scriptures typically cited in its support cannot logically be interpreted this way unless one starts with the priesthood ban itself and then works backward, looking for scriptures to support a predetermined belief.


Response to claim: "other non-LDS churches did not teach that blacks were less valiant before they came to earth - that was a unique LDS belief"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

However, the other non-LDS churches did not teach that blacks were less valiant before they came to earth - that was a unique LDS belief.
....

By listening to the Church's official spokesmen for 150 years it seems clear that the reason for the ban had to do with blacks being cursed by God because they were less valiant in the pre-existence and were therefore born under the curse of Cain, who was the first Negro. To say otherwise, and go against scores of teachings and sermons and even First Presidency messages by the highest leaders of the Church, would put into serious question whether these men are really inspired men that receive revelation from God.
....

One apologist (a personal good friend of mine) told me in confidence that he personally thought that blacks were 'fence-sitters' in the pre-existence and were indeed cursed from Cain and that the prophets were correct about the doctrine and the reasons for it. They don't talk about it for the obvious public image problems that it would cause for the church in modern times. Perhaps that's true - we'll never really know. But this is further evidence that the church needs to make a more official statement on the reasons for the ban.

FairMormon Response

Question: Did the Church refute the "neutral in the pre-existence" teaching only to preserve their public image?

This claim is utter nonsense and simply represents the opinion of yet another one of MormonThink's numerous "anonymous sources"

The critical website MormonThink quotes one of its many anonymous sources:

One apologist (a personal good friend of mine) told me in confidence that he personally thought that blacks were 'fence-sitters' in the pre-existence and were indeed cursed from Cain and that the prophets were correct about the doctrine and the reasons for it. They don't talk about it for the obvious public image problems that it would cause for the church in modern times. Perhaps that's true - we'll never really know. But this is further evidence that the church needs to make a more official statement on the reasons for the ban.

The critics are simply trying to assert, based upon anonymous speculation, that Church members still believe this secretly. It does not matter whether they are quoting an "apologist" or a "critic." Unsupported speculation is simply rumor. However, there does exist a very clear a statement that it has been rejected by the Church.

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 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," Gospel Topics on LDS.org off-site)

The only people demanding a statement of reasons for a ban which was lifted over 30 years ago are ex-Mormons and critics.

What some unnamed "apologist" is alleged to have said is not "further evidence" of anything. ("a personal good friend of mine" is not a reference). It is evidence of precisely nothing. The only thing that can be concluded is that some Church members used to believe in the "neutral in the pre-existence" idea as an explanation for the ban. The modern Church does not accept or believe that this explanation is valid.

None of the apologists that we know believe this.


Question: Was the idea that Blacks were neutral in the "war in heaven" ever official doctrine?

The "neutral in the war in heaven" argument was never doctrine. In fact, some Church leaders, starting with Brigham Young, explicitly repudiated the idea

This idea was repudiated well before the priesthood ban was rescinded. President Brigham Young rejected it in an account recorded by Wilford Woodruff in 1869:

Lorenzo Young asked if the Spirits of Negroes were Nutral in Heaven. He said someone said Joseph Smith said they were. President Young said No they were not. There was No Nutral spirits in Heaven at the time of the Rebelion. All took sides. He said if any one said that He Herd the Prophet Joseph Say that the spirits of the Blacks were Nutral in Heaven He would not Believe them for He herd Joseph Say to the Contrary. All spirits are pure that Come from the presence of God. The posterity of Cane are Black Because He Commit Murder. He killed Abel & God set a Mark upon his posterity But the spirits are pure that Enter their tabernacles & there will be a Chance for the redemption of all the Children of Adam Except the Sons of perdition. [41]

The First Presidency under Joseph F. Smith also rejected this idea

there is no revelation, ancient or modern, neither is there any authoritative statement by any of the authorities of the Church … [in support of the idea] that the negroes are those who were neutral in heaven at the time of the great conflict or war, which resulted in the casting out of Lucifer and those who were led by him. [42]

Joseph Smith never taught the idea that those born with black skin were "neutral" during the war in heaven

Brigham Young, when asked this question, repudiated the idea. Wilford Woodruff recorded the following in his journal:

December 25, 1869: I attended the School of the Prophets. Many questions were asked. President Young answered them. Lorenzo Young asked if the spirits of Negroes were neutral in heaven. He said someone said Joseph Smith said they were. President Young said no they were not. There were no neutral spirits in heaven at the time of the rebellion. All took sides. He said if anyone said that he heard the Prophet Joseph say that the spirits of the Blacks were neutral in heaven, he would not believe them, for he heard Joseph say to the contrary. All spirits are pure that come from the presence of God. The posterity of Cain are black because he commit[ted] murder. He killed Abel and God set a mark upon his posterity. But the spirits are pure that enter their tabernacles and there will be a chance for the redemption of all the children of Adam except the sons of perdition. [43]

The idea that anyone who came to earth was "neutral" in the premortal existence is not a doctrine of the Church. Early Church leaders had a variety of opinions regarding the status of blacks in the pre-existence, and some of these were expressed in an attempt to explain the priesthood ban. The scriptures, however, do not explicitly state that the status or family into which we were born on earth had anything to do with our "degree of valiance" in our pre-mortal life.

Other religions would not have had reason for such a teaching because they do not believe in the pre-existence or the "war in heaven."

The scriptures themselves do not state that anyone was neutral in the pre-existence.


Question: Did Church leaders ever teach that Blacks were neutral in the "war in heaven?"

Yes, some Church leaders promoted the idea as a way to explain the priesthood ban

Despite the explicit denial of this concept by Brigham Young, the idea that people born with black skin as a result of their behavior in the pre-existence was used by several 20th century Church leaders in order to try and provide an explanation for the priesthood ban.

The First Presidency, in a statement issued on August 17, 1949, actually attributed the ban to "conduct of spirits in the premortal existence"

The First Presidency stated in 1949:

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. [44]

Joseph Fielding Smith said in 1954 that there were no "neutrals in the war in heaven," but that rewards in this life may have "reflected actions taken in the pre-existence

In the 1954 book Doctrines of Salvation (compiled by Bruce R. McConkie), Joseph Fielding Smith stated that "there were no neutrals in the war in heaven," but suggested that the rewards received in this life reflected actions taken in the pre-existence:

NO NEUTRALS IN HEAVEN. 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. [45]

Bruce R. McConkie said in 1966 that they were "less valiant" in the pre-existence

The most well known of these was the statement made by Bruce R. McConkie in his book Mormon Doctrine. McConkie offered the following opinion:

Those who were less valiant in the pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon 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 Abel being a black skin...but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing, based on His eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of spiritual valiance of those concerned in their first estate. [46]

These statements by Church leaders reflected ideas which were prevalent in society during the 1950s and 1960s

These statements by 20th century leaders did not represent thinking that was unique to the Church, but instead reflected ideas which were much more prevalent in society during the 1950's and 1960's.

When the priesthood ban was lifted in 1978, McConkie retracted what he had said previously

Elder McConkie retracted his previous statements regarding the priesthood ban when it was lifted in 1978:

Forget everything I have said, or what...Brigham Young...or whomsoever has said...that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. [47]


Question: Did the Church repudiate the idea of neutrality in the "war in heaven?"

President Kimball was reported as repudiating this idea following the 1978 revelation

Some members and leaders explained the ban as congruent with the justice of God by suggesting that those who were denied the priesthood had done something in the pre-mortal life to deny themselves the priesthood. President Kimball was reported as repudiating this idea following the 1978 revelation:

President Kimball "flatly [stated] that Mormonism no longer holds to...a theory" that Blacks had been denied the priesthood "because they somehow failed God during their pre-existence." [48]

The modern Church rejects this theory

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 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. [49]

Modern Church leaders teach that everyone who came to earth in this day was "valiant" in the premortal existence

Elder M. Russell Ballard, talking of today's youth, said in 2005:

Remind them that they are here at this particular time in the history of the world, with the fulness of the gospel at their fingertips, because they made valiant choices in the premortal existence. [50]


Gospel Topics: "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 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"

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

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 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.

Since that day in 1978, the Church has looked to the future, as membership among Africans, African Americans and others of African descent has continued to grow rapidly. While Church records for individual members do not indicate an individual’s race or ethnicity, the number of Church members of African descent is now in the hundreds of thousands.

The Church proclaims that redemption through Jesus Christ is available to the entire human family on the conditions God has prescribed. It affirms that God is “no respecter of persons”24 and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him. The teachings of the Church in relation to God’s children are epitomized by a verse in the second book of Nephi: “[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.[51]—(Click here to continue)


Response to claim: "If you accept scientific reasoning then all of Mormonism's teachings about race and skin are complete nonsense"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

If you accept scientific reasoning then all of Mormonism's teachings about race and skin are complete nonsense.

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "Some members refer to this as the Bigfoot reference"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

There is a discussion of Cain, including a passage from some early LDS member in Spencer W. Kimball's book The Miracle of Forgiveness. Some members refer to this as the Bigfoot reference.

FairMormon Response

Question: Does Cain still roam the earth, and does this account for stories about "Bigfoot"?

The idea that Cain lived on and roams the earth today is folklore based on a claim by David W. Patten

A story is sometimes circulated that Cain—son of Adam and Eve and the first murderer—still walks the earth today. The notion that Cain somehow lived on, survived the Flood, and roams the earth today, is familiar to modern members mostly based on a single claim of David W. Patten supposedly meeting an unusual person assumed to be Cain:

As I was riding along the road on my mule I suddenly noticed a very strange personage walking beside me. ... His head was about even with my shoulders as I sat in my saddle. He wore no clothing, but was covered with hair. His skin was very dark. I asked him where he dwelt and he replied that he had no home, that he was a wanderer in the earth and traveled to and fro. He said he was a very miserable creature, that he had earnestly sought death during his sojourn upon the earth, but that he could not die, and his mission was to destroy the souls of men. About the time he expressed himself thus, I rebuked him in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and commanded him to go hence, and he immediately departed out of my sight.[52]

This account was published in a biography of Patten written by Lycurgus Wilson in 1900. Wilson had a letter from Abraham Smoot giving his recollection of what Patten said. In historical parlance this is what is called a late, third-hand account—the sort of thing most historians would dismiss. This kind of testimony is simply unreliable, tainted by the passage of time and the fog of memory.

In addition to the historical unreliability of the statement, it also conflicts with the scriptural record in a few respects. First, Genesis records that during the flood, "all flesh died that moved upon the earth, ... every man. ... Every living substance was destroyed ... , both man, and cattle. ... And Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark" (Gen. 7:21--23). No explanation is offered for how Cain would have survived the flood, or why he should be an exception to the widespread destruction.

Also, the described state of perpetual deathlessness sounds like being "translated," such as were Enoch's followers, Moses, Elijah, Alma the younger, the three Nephites, and John the apostle. For this notion of Cain being translated to be true, it would be the only example of a wicked person receiving this unparalleled blessing, when in every other instance, it is reserved for only the most righteous.

Note also that in Wilson's account above, Patten never identifies the mysterious figure as Cain. So even if we were to grant the account was accurate, it doesn't inform us in any way about Cain. The idea that Cain still walks the earth is simply folklore.

Scripture implies that Cain eventually died.

The Bible implies that Cain eventually died.

Nowhere in scripture, ancient or modern, is it declared that Cain would or did live beyond his mortal years. While no specific mention is made of his death, we do read of Lamech, Cain’s great-great-great-grandson, who made the same covenant with Satan that Cain did. This covenant is described as being had “from [or since] the days of Cain,” which seems to indicate that Cain was dead by this time. (See Moses 5:51.)

In any case, the scripture is ambiguous. If an apocryphal source can be trusted at all, the Book of Jasher does happen to give an account of the death of Cain:

And Lamech was old and advanced in years, and his eyes were dim that he could not see, and Tubal Cain, his son, was leading him and it was one day that Lamech went into the field and Tubal Cain his son was with him, and whilst they were walking in the field, Cain the son of Adam advanced towards them; for Lamech was very old and could not see much, and Tubal Cain his son was very young. And Tubal Cain told his father to draw his bow, and with the arrows he smote Cain, who was yet far off, and he slew him, for he appeared to them to be an animal. And the arrows entered Cain's body although he was distant from them, and he fell to the ground and died. And the Lord requited Cain's evil according to his wickedness, which he had done to his brother Abel, according to the word of the Lord which he had spoken. And it came to pass when Cain had died, that Lamech and Tubal went to see the animal which they had slain, and they saw, and behold Cain their grandfather was fallen dead upon the earth. (Jasher 2:26-30)

It is an odd coincidence that in the folklore accounts, Cain appears as some sort of hideous creature, even if he is just a spirit, and in this apocryphal account, his descendants mistook him for an animal. But this is nothing but coincidence. Whatever the case, Cain is definitely dead.

The folklore was perpetuated by being quoted in an apostle's book

The story probably would have been forgotten if then-Elder Spencer W. Kimball hadn’t included it on pages 127–28 of The Miracle of Forgiveness. Elder Kimball’s book has become a staple of Mormon reading, the book that many bishops give to members struggling with sin and many mission presidents assign their missionaries to read.

The passage where Kimball quotes Wilson is really unnecessary to the chapter itself, which is about unforgivable sins, including murder. He cites several examples of murderers in the scriptures, beginning with Cain. He then throws in, almost as a passing idea, “an interesting story” about Cain.

Matthew Bowman wrote that Wesley Smith, the brother of President Joseph Fielding Smith, was reportedly also almost attacked by a hideous being. He rebuked the entity with his priesthood, similar to the Patten story. He then related the story to President Smith, who naturally identified this character as Cain, basing that identification on the David Patten story. Even if we give Wesley Smith the benefit of the doubt, and grant that some evil spirit made an appearance, using critical thinking we can surmise that there is no justification for even making that identification of Cain. Any evil spirit theoretically could appear as a hideous being. Other folklorish stories are similar in their details.

The conflation of the myths of the wandering Cain and Bigfoot started around 1980 with some Bigfoot sightings in South Weber, Utah

It appears, according to Bowman, that the conflation of the myths of the wandering Cain and Bigfoot started around 1980 with some Bigfoot sightings in South Weber, Utah, and by 1990, those residents were associating their Bigfoot sightings with Cain. (Journal of Mormon History, Fall 2007, "A Mormon Bigfoot: David Patten's Cain and the Conception of Evil in LDS Folklore", pp. 62-82). An author named Shane Lester has even gone so far as to write a fictional book based on the conflation of these stories called the Clan of Cain: The Genesis of Bigfoot. However, oddly, Lester made the following claim, referring to the Patten story...

A recently uncovered document reveals a possible connection between the origins of the Mormon Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) and Bigfoot. Searching through the archives of historical church documents the author, Shane Lester, uncovered an extraordinary story that becomes the foundation of a new theory about the origins of Bigfoot. "I uncovered an obscure historical document that sheds new light on the Bigfoot mystery. I used this encounter as the basis for a fictional story that links the mystical, legend of Bigfoot to the origins of Mormonism," says author, Shane Lester. [53]

He is he taking credit for "uncovering" some historical document from Church archives, as if the story is news. The story that he is referring to is unambiguously Elder Patten's story of the encounter with Cain in the first chapter of the book. Lester originally had offered a sneak-peek at that first chapter on his site. [54] But the story about Patten and Cain has been publicly available since Wilson's book on Patten came out in the year 1900 (a century before Lester wrote his book). Furthermore, the account is anything but obscure. It is well-known because of President Kimball's book. He claims the Cain-is-Bigfoot theory is "new" and that it sheds "new light" on Bigfoot. The theory has been around for several decades now, and it is very unlikely that Lester was the one to originate it. As we just saw in a preceding paragraph, Bowman documented where that came from. Thus, Lester is making claims that are utterly baseless. The Clan of Cain isn't Lester's only book that attempts to link Mormons with occult themes. He also wrote a book on Mormons and a theory linking them to extraterrestrials called The Conversion Conspiracy, which also features LDS folkloric themes. [55]

Conclusion

Why is it that some LDS people give these stories doctrinal credence? Does that not manifest a measure of gullibility? Is it only because President Kimball quoted it? They give Cain some kind of quasi-translated status based on the story alone, without question, as if he is some kind of hideous undead creature akin to a vampire or zombie that can appear and attack people physically. Why is no skepticism applied to the story, and to the new folklore that has arisen around it? Wasn't Cain a son of perdition, a liar from the beginning? Would someone believe claims from Mark Hoffman? Then why should they believe possible words from the mouth of Cain? As far as can be discerned from the folklore account, Elder Patten did not test Cain by shaking his hand to see if he was truly corporeal. What justification would there be to believe the words of a son of perdition? It doesn't make sense that any good-thinking person would give those claims credence.


Response to claim: "Some members question whether the ban was actual doctrine or just Church policy"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Some members question whether the ban was actual doctrine or just Church policy. The First Presidency issued the following official statements signed by all three members. (emphasis added):

1947 the First Presidency (supreme council) of the Church issued an Official Statement: "From the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel." (Statement of The First Presidency on the Negro Question, July 17 1947, quoted in Mormonism and the Negro, pp.46-7) In 1949, The First Presidency issued the following statement: "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 First Presidency on the Negro Question, 17 Aug. 1949) Official Statement of First Presidency issued on August 17, 1951, reads: "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 pre-mortal 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 principle itself indicates that the coming to this earth and taking on mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintained 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.....

"Man will be punished for his own sins and not for Adam's transgression. If this is carried further, it would imply that the Negro is punished or allotted to a certain position on this earth, not because of Cain's transgression, but came to earth through the loins of Cain because of his failure to achieve other stature in the spirit world."

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "If the leaders of the church could make such a serious error, then how can we really ever put our 100% trust in what they say?"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

We were all clearly taught this in Church for decades before the ban was lifted. If the leaders of the church could make such a serious error, then how can we really ever put our 100% trust in what they say? How is the LDS church more true than the hundreds of protestant churches that did not teach, up through 1978, that blacks are black because they were cursed from God for being less valiant before they came to earth?

FairMormon Response

Millennial Star (1852): "none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the Priesthood"

"Priesthood," Millennial Star 14/38 (13 November 1852):

Because of...the apparent imperfections of men on whom God confers authority, the question is sometimes asked,—to what extent is obedience to those who hold the priesthood required? This is a very important question, and one which should be understood by all Saints. In attempting to answer this question, we would repeat, in short, what we have already written, that willing obedience to the laws of God, administered by the Priesthood, is indispensable to salvation; but we would further add, that a proper conservative to this power exists for the benefit of all, and none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of the Priesthood. We have heard men who hold the Priesthood remark, that they would do any thing they were told to do by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong: but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would thus willingly degrade himself, should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God, who seeks for the redemption of his fellows, would despise the idea of seeing another become his slave, who had an equal right with himself to the favour of God; he would rather see him stand by his side, a sworn enemy to wrong, so long as there was place found for it among men. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty (!) authority, have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their Presidents, they should do it without asking any questions.

When the Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience, as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their hearts to do wrong themselves, and wish to pave the way to accomplish that wrong; or else because they have done wrong, and wish to use the cloak of their authority to cover it with, lest it should be discovered by their superiors, who would require an atonement at their hands. [56]


Brigham Young (1862): "I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him"

Brigham Young:

What a pity it would be if we were led by one man to utter destruction! Are you afraid of this? I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not. This has been my exhortation continually.

Brother Joseph W. Young remarked this morning that he wished the people to receive the word of the Lord through his servants, be dictated by them, and have no will of their own. I would express it in this wise: God has placed within us a will, and we should be satisfied to have it controlled by the will of the Almighty. Let the human will be indomitable for right....

Let all persons be fervent in prayer, until they know the things of God for themselves and become certain that they are walking in the path that leads to everlasting life; then will envy, the child of ignorance, vanish, and there will be no disposition in any man to place himself above another; for such a feeling meets no countenance in the order of heaven. Jesus Christ never wanted to be different from his father: they were and are one. If a people are led by the revelations of Jesus Christ, and they are cognizant of the fact through their faithfulness, there is no fear but they will be one in Christ Jesus, and see eye to eye.[57]


Brigham Young (1855): "I do not wish any Latter-day Saint...to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied"

Brigham Young:

Some may say, "Brethren, you who lead the Church, we have all confidence in you, we are not in the least afraid but what everything will go right under your superintendence; all the business matters will be transacted right; and if brother Brigham is satisfied with it, I am." I do not wish any Latter-day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves, for this would strengthen the faith that is within them. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, "If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are," this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.

Every man and woman in this kingdom ought to be satisfied with what we do, but they never should be satisfied without asking the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, whether what we do is right.​[58]


Response to claim: "He should have stated whether or not the leaders of the church at that time interpreted that doctrine correctly or not"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Hinckley has worked for the Church almost all of his life. He has been a General Authority since 1958. He was in Quorum of the Twelve meetings when the priesthood ban was discussed, for at least three decades. He was an Apostle for some 17 years of the priesthood ban. If any Church official would be qualified to answer this question it would be GBH. To not give a complete, truthful answer to these questions is disappointing to say the least. He should have stated whether or not the leaders of the church at that time interpreted that doctrine correctly or not - that's what people really want to know.

FairMormon Response

Gospel Topics: "During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood"

"Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013):

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 evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though thereafter blacks continued to join the Church through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.[59]


Question: What do we know about the origin of the priesthood ban on Church members of African descent?

The Church has never provided an official reason for the ban

The origin of the priesthood ban is one of the most difficult questions to answer. Its origins are not clear, and this affected both how members and leaders have seen the ban, and the steps necessary to rescind it. The Church has never provided an official reason for the ban, although a number of Church leaders offered theories as to the reason for its existence. The Church currently provides the following background information regarding the initiation of the ban in its Gospel Topics essay "Race and the Priesthood":

In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though thereafter blacks continued to join the Church through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church. [60]

Given that none of these theories regarding the reason for the ban is accepted today, Church members have generally taken one of three perspectives:

  • Some members assume that the ban was based on revelation to Joseph Smith, and was continued by his successors until President Kimball. However, Joseph Smith did ordain several men of African descent to the priesthood.
  • Some believe that the ban did not originate with Joseph Smith, but was implemented by Brigham Young. The evidence supports the idea that Brigham Young implemented it, but there is no record of an actual revelation having been received regarding it.
  • Some believe that the ban began as a series of administrative policy decisions, rather than a revealed doctrine, and drew partly upon ideas regarding race common in mid-19th century America. The passage of time gave greater authority to this policy than intended.

The difficulty in deciding between these options arises because:

  • there is no contemporary account of a revelation underlying the ban; but
  • many early members nevertheless believed that there had been such a revelation; and
  • priesthood ordination of African blacks was a rare event, which became even more rare with time.

The history behind the practice in the modern Church of withholding the priesthood based on race is described well by Lester Bush in a 1984 book.[61] A good timeline can be found at FairMormon's BlackLDS site: FairMormon link.

Many leaders have indicated that the Church does not know why the ban was in place

  • Gordon B. Hinckley in an interview:
Q: So in retrospect, was the Church wrong in that [not ordaining blacks]?
A [Pres. Hinckley]: No, I don't think it was wrong. It, things, various things happened in different periods. There's a reason for them.
Q: What was the reason for that?
A: I don't know what the reason was. But I know that we've rectified whatever may have appeared to be wrong at the time.[62]
  • Elder Dallin H. Oaks:
If you read the scriptures with this question in mind, 'Why did the Lord command this or why did he command that,' you find that in less than one in a hundred commands was any reason given. It's not the pattern of the Lord to give reasons. We can put reasons to commandments. When we do, we're on our own. Some people put reasons to [the ban] and they turned out to be spectacularly wrong. There is a lesson in that.... The lesson I've drawn from that, I decided a long time ago that I had faith in the command and I had no faith in the reasons that had been suggested for it.
...I'm referring to reasons given by general authorities and reasons elaborated upon [those reasons] by others. The whole set of reasons seemed to me to be unnecessary risk taking.
...Let's [not] make the mistake that's been made in the past, here and in other areas, trying to put reasons to revelation. The reasons turn out to be man-made to a great extent. The revelations are what we sustain as the will of the Lord and that's where safety lies.[63]
  • Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:
One clear-cut position is that the folklore must never be perpetuated. ... I have to concede to my earlier colleagues. ... They, I'm sure, in their own way, were doing the best they knew to give shape to [the policy], to give context for it, to give even history to it. All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong. ...
It probably would have been advantageous to say nothing, to say we just don't know, and, [as] with many religious matters, whatever was being done was done on the basis of faith at that time. But some explanations were given and had been given for a lot of years. ... At the very least, there should be no effort to perpetuate those efforts to explain why that doctrine existed. I think, to the extent that I know anything about it, as one of the newer and younger ones to come along, ... we simply do not know why that practice, that policy, that doctrine was in place.[64]
  • Elder Alexander B. Morrison:
We do not know.[65]

Is racial prejudice acceptable?

  • President Hinckley in priesthood session of General Conference:
Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be. It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. I was there in the temple at the time that that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord.
Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?
Throughout my service as a member of the First Presidency, I have recognized and spoken a number of times on the diversity we see in our society. It is all about us, and we must make an effort to accommodate that diversity.
Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.
Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such.[66]


Question: Did Joseph Smith confer the priesthood on several black men?

Missouri was a slave state, and the locals persecuted the Missouri saints and destroyed their press in part because of W. W. Phelps's editorials supporting abolition

As Mormons settled into Missouri, some of their viewpoints about slavery (D&C 101:79,87:4) did not mesh well with those of the older settlers. The 1831 Nat Turner Rebellion left many southerners nervous as church leaders later recognized: "All who are acquainted with the situation of slave States, know that the life of every white is in constant danger, and to insinuate any thing which could possibly be interpreted by a slave, that it was not just to hold human beings in bondage, would be jeopardizing the life of every white inhabitant in the country."[67] Unfortunately, this recognition came after mobs persecuted the Missouri saints and destroyed their press in part because of W. W. Phelps's editorials supporting abolition.[68]

Early missionaries were instructed to not teach or baptize slaves without their master's consent, but Joseph Smith conferred the priesthood on several free black men

Under these precarious conditions, early missionaries were instructed to not teach or baptize slaves without their master's consent (see D&C 134:12). Late, perhaps unreliable, recollections suggest that Joseph Smith received inspiration that blacks should not be ordained while contemplating the situation in the South.[69] These accounts must be weighed against records of free blacks receiving the priesthood such as Black Pete (1831 OH), Elijah Abel (1835 OH), Joseph T. Ball (1837 MA), Isaac van Meter (<1837 ME), and Walker and Enoch Lewis (Fall 1843-Nov. 1844 MA). Since Ohio had a law discouraging Blacks from migrating there, this put a damper on early proselyting efforts which were largely based on the principle of the gathering.[70] Parley Pratt wrote in 1839 that the Church had less than a dozen Black members.[71]

Those who hold that the ban had a revelatory basis see the early ordinations as events which occurred prior to the revelation or without knowledge of it, while those who see the ban as more of a social/cultural phenomenon point to these ordinations as an example of the "pragmatic grounds" upon which decisions about black ordination were made.

Outsiders do not seem to have regarded members of the Church in the 1830s as sharing typical American ideas about race

Outsiders do not seem to have regarded members of the Church in the 1830s as sharing typical American ideas about race. In 1835, a skeptical account of their doctrines and beliefs noted:

As the promulgators of this extraordinary legend maintain the natural equality of mankind, without excepting the native Indians or the African race, there is little reason to be surprised at the cruel persecution by which they have suffered, and still less at the continued accession of converts among those who sympathize with the wrongs of others or seek an asylum for their own.

The preachers and believers of the following doctrines were not likely to remain, unmolested, in the State of Missouri.

“The Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal, &c. He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness: and he denieth none that come unto him; black and white—bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” Again: “Behold! the Lamanites, your brethren, whom ye hate, because of their filthiness and the cursings which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father, &c. Wherefore the Lord God will not destroy them; but will be merciful to them; and one day they shall become [58] a blessed people.” “O my brethren, I fear, that, unless ye shall repent of your sins, that their skins shall be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God*. Wherefore a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins,” &c. “The king saith unto him, yea! if the Lord saith unto us, go! we will go down unto our brethren, and we will be their slaves, until we repair unto them the many murders and sins, which we have committed against them. But Ammon saith unto him, it is against the law of our brethren, which was established by my father, that there should any slaves among them. Therefore let us go down and rely upon the mercies of our brethren.”[72]


Question: Why did Brigham Young initiate the priesthood ban?

The start of Brigham Young's administration saw a continuation of Joseph Smith's policies

The start of Brigham Young's administration saw a continuation of Joseph Smith's policies. William McCary was baptized and ordained at Winter Quarters in October 1846. The following March, Brigham acknowledged the validity of the ordination of Walker Lewis that likely occurred during Joseph's tenure, "we [have] one of the best Elders an African in Lowell [,MA] -- a barber." [73]

The priesthood ban became more comprehensive to include not only slaves and free blacks in the South, but all persons deemed to have inherited the curse of Cain through Ham

The priesthood ban then became more comprehensive to include not only slaves and free blacks in the South, but all persons deemed to have inherited the curse of Cain through Ham. Three pivotal events in this development were the apostasy of William McCary, the interracial marriage of Walker Lewis's son, and the passing of slavery legislation in Utah Territory.

McCary approached Brigham Young with complaints that racial discrimination was a motive behind other Mormon leaders questioning his strange teachings. President Young satisfied McCary that ideally race should not be the issue. Praising Walker Lewis as an example, Young suggested "Its nothing to do with the blood for [from] one blood has God made all flesh" and later added "we don't care about the color." [74] Shortly thereafter McCary was excommunicated for apostasy. In April, Brigham Young departed with the vanguard pioneer company for the Rocky Mountains only to return around December to face additional race-based problems.

In April, Elder Parley P. Pratt had warned of the Saints about following schisms led by those like James Strang and William McCary. Significantly he referred to William McCary as "this black man who has got the blood of Ham in him which linege was cursed as regards the priesthood".[75] McCary had married a Stake President's white daughter and advocated polygamy before his excommunication and afterward he began drawing away Mormon women to be sealed to him in a carnal manner.

Brigham was adamantly against racial amalgamation

Also awaiting Brigham was William Appleby, the president over eastern branches of the Church. He had encountered the Lewises and suspected William Smith had acted improperly by ordaining a black elder. He was also alarmed that Enoch Lewis had married a white wife and had a child. Brigham responded to this news in a manner that is, by modern sensitivities, quite disturbing. He was adamantly against racial amalgamation (see Brigham Young on race mixing for more context). While allowing that interracial couples should not be denied baptism, he introduced a ban on temple service for them and/or their offspring.

Brigham Young never presented a specific revelation on priesthood or temple restrictions he imposed

However, Brigham Young did not present a specific revelation on priesthood or temple restrictions he imposed. A definitive statement wasn't made by him until 1852 in a legislative, rather than ecclesiastical forum. Governor Young declared "any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] ... in him cannot hold the priesthood and if no other Prophet ever spake it before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ I know it is true and others know it." [76] Like the Missouri period, the Saints were externally pressured to adopt racial policies as a political compromise. At the time, this was deemed to be the best pathway to statehood.

Those who believe the ban had a revelatory basis point to these pivotal events as examples of a prophet learning "line upon line," with revelation being implemented more rigorously. Those who see the influence of cultural factors and institutional practice behind the ban consider this evidence that the ban was based on Brigham's cultural and scriptural assumptions, and point out that such beliefs were common among most Christians in Antebellum America.[77]


Question: What did Church leaders after Brigham Young think of the priesthood ban?

John Taylor conducted an investigation and concluded the policy had started under Joseph Smith, rather than Brigham Young

In 1879, John Taylor conducted an investigation and concluded the policy had started under Joseph Smith, rather than Brigham Young, despite receiving mixed information.[78] As part of this investigation Zebedee Coltrin recalled that Joseph Smith said in 1834 that "the Spirit of the Lord saith the Negro had no right nor cannot hold the Priesthood." However, this claim is suspect given Coltrin's errors on the circumstances of Elijah Abel's ordination, participation in Kirtland temple ordinances, and retention in the Seventies quorum all under the supervision of Joseph Smith.[79]

President George Q. Cannon in 1895 asserted that some of Young's teachings about miscegenation and the seed of Cain had first been taught by Joseph Smith.[80]

B.H. Roberts was the first to argue, based on the Book of Abraham, that the curse of Cain had continued to modern blacks through the lineage of Ham

Nearly forty years after the ban started, B.H. Roberts was the first to argue, based on the Book of Abraham, that the curse of Cain had continued to modern blacks through the lineage of Ham.[81]

George Albert Smith, indicated that the priesthood ban had been imposed by "direct commandment from the Lord"

President George Albert Smith, indicated that the priesthood ban had been imposed by "direct commandment from the Lord."

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.
—First Presidency statement, August 17, 1949

Joseph Fielding Smith opined that blacks may have been less valiant in the pre-mortal conflict between God and Satan

Joseph Fielding Smith opined that blacks may have been less valiant in the pre-mortal conflict between God and Satan (however, he rejected that they may have been neutral in the war in heaven).[82]

David O. McKay believed that the ban was "not doctrine but...policy"

  • David O. McKay believed that the ban was "not doctrine but...policy," as reported by Sterling McMurrin,[83] his son Llewelyn McKay,[84] and Elder Paul H. Dunn.[85] President McKay told Elder Marion D. Hanks that "he had pleaded and pleaded with the Lord, but had not had the answer he sought."[86]
  • The "Missouri policy theory" attributing the ban to Joseph Smith arising from condition in Missouri was first popularized in 1970 by author Stephen Taggert,[87] and President Hugh B. Brown reportedly embraced it.[88] Other authors found this theory wanting.[89]

Harold B. Lee was inclined to reconfirm the ban

  • Harold B. Lee was inclined to reconfirm the ban,[90] though Church Historian Leonard Arrington
...asserts that President Lee, shortly before his death, sought the Lord's will on the question of blacks and the priesthood during'three days and nights [of] fasting in the upper room of the temple,...but the only answer he received was "not yet." Arrington relied on an unidentified person close to President Lee, but President Lee's son-in-law and biographer found no record of such an incident and thought it doubtful.[91]

Following Joseph Fielding Smith's death, President Lee did say, "For those who don't believe in modern revelation there is no adequate explanation. Those who do understand revelation stand by and wait until the Lord speaks...It's only a matter of time before the black achieves full status in the Church. We must believe in the justice of God. The black will achieve full status, we're just waiting for that time."[92]

President Kimball said that the day might come when they would be given the priesthood, but should the day come it will be a matter of revelation

President Kimball began his administration by holding a press conference. When asked about the ban, he said:

[I have given it] "a great deal of thought, a great deal of prayer. The day might come when they would be given the priesthood, but that day has not come yet. Should the day come it will be a matter of revelation. Before changing any important policy, it has to be through a revelation from the Lord."[93]

He had previously written to his son:

"...I have wished the Lord had given us a little more clarity in the matter. But for me, it is enough...I know the Lord could change His policy and release the ban and forgive the possible error (?) which brought about the deprivation. If the time comes, that He will do, I am sure."[94]

In 1976, he mentioned

"his concern for giving the priesthood to all men, and said that he had been praying about it for fifteen years without an answer...but I am going to keep praying about it."[95]


Response to claim: "if all the prophets since Brigham Young until Spencer W. Kimball let it go unchallenged, then how can anyone say these men are truly prophets of God?"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

If Brigham Young instituted the priesthood ban on blacks without being directed to from God, then this is just too serious to ignore. And if all the prophets since Brigham Young until Spencer W. Kimball let it go unchallenged, then how can anyone say these men are truly prophets of God? It's ironic that all the other Christian churches, that do not claim to have prophets, allowed blacks the same rights as whites long before the prophet-led LDS church did. If the LDS prophets made this big of an error then why should they be believed on other matters?

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "This LDS belief that even faithful blacks were destined to be just servants in the next life was also taught openly at least through the mid 1950s"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

This LDS belief that even faithful blacks were destined to be just servants in the next life was also taught openly at least through the mid 1950s. LDS apostle Mark E. Petersen declared in 1954 in a sermon to BYU students that baptized LDS Blacks would receive only qualified acceptance into Mormonism's highest degree of glory

FairMormon Response

Question: Why did Mark E. Peterson say that blacks would go the the Celestial Kingdom as servants?

Not everything said by a leader of the Church is considered doctrine

Elder Mark E. Peterson said, " If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get a celestial resurrection. He will get a place in the celestial glory." Therefore, do Mormons consider God to have an "equal heaven" for all races?

First, of all, not everything said by a leader of the Church is considered doctrine. So just because an apostle says something, does not make it binding doctrine, especially if he was speaking at a Convention of Teachers of Religion, as Elder Peterson did. For more information, please read:

"Approaching Mormon Doctrine", Newsroom, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

We believe revelation is continual, and we do not claim to have all the answers now, nor did we claim to have all the answers in 1952

We believe God will yet reveal many great and important things. For more information, please read:

The 9th Article of Faith

It is important to understand that the term "servant" was not uniquely applied to black people

It is assumed by most, based upon Elder Peterson's statement, that white people would not go to the Celestial Kingdom as servants. However, we must examine DC 132:16:

Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.

As you can see, the Doctrine and Covenants makes no mention that the servants are limited to any race. Blacks and whites will serve alongside each other.

Even Peterson's view that blacks can only serve alongside whites as servants in the Celestial Kingdom has been contradicted by almost every president of the Church since Joseph Smith

It is interesting that critics will take a quote and think it represents Mormon Doctrine no matter how clear it contradicts other statements. We believe in the law of multiple witnesses. One single person expressing his view was never meant to be taken as doctrine. See DC 6:28

Here are some quotes from Mormon leaders that say blacks will be able to receive ALL blessings, including that of the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom

In regards to black people, Joseph Smith taught,

"They have souls, and are subjects of salvation."
—Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, selected by Joseph Fielding Smith, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1976), 269. ISBN 087579243X

Brigham Young, who clearly believed in the "Curse of Cain," said

"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 are now entitled to."
—quoted by the First Presidency, August 17, 1949.

Wilford Woodruff said,

"The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have"
—quoted by the First Presidency on August 17, 1949.

George Albert Smith reiterated what was said by both Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff in a statement by the First Presidency on August 17, 1949

David McKay taught,

"Sometime in God's eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the Priesthood. In the meantime, those of that race who receive the testimony of the Restored Gospel may have their family ties protected and other blessings made secure, for in the justice of the Lord they will possess all the blessings to which they are entitled in the eternal plan of Salvation and Exaltation."
—(Mormonism and the Negro, pp. 23)

In reference to black people, Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith taught,

"Every soul coming into this world came here with the promise that through obedience he would receive the blessings of salvation. No person was foreordained or appointed to sin or to perform a mission of evil. No person is ever predestined to salvation or damnation. Every person has free agency."
—Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.1, p. 61

In 1972, Harold B. Lee said,

"It's only a matter of time before the black achieves full status in the Church. We must believe in the justice of God. The black will achieve full status, we're just waiting for that time."
—Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22; citing Goates, Harold B. Lee, 506, quoting UPI interview published November 16, 1972.

Finally, Elder Peterson voted to give the priesthood to the blacks in 1978. He was part of the Quorum of The Twelve, who unanimously accepted the revelation extending the priesthood to all blacks. By extending the priesthood to the blacks Elder Peterson also allowed them to receive Celestial Marriage, which was the only thing keeping them from progressing beyond the status of ministering angle.

Official Declaration—2

So regardless of what Elder Peterson's views were in 1952, when Elder Monson eulogized him, he had changed his views and in fact was instrumental in removing the priesthood ban.

Finally, it is a long shot to say because someone is running for president who belongs to a church that is headed by someone who gave a eulogy for someone else almost 30 years ago who 30 years prior to that made a racist comment, that therefore that person holds the same racist views. It is a stretch to say the least.


Response to claim: "Perhaps the Church should at least clarify the reasons for the ban"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Perhaps the Church should at least clarify the reasons for the ban. Many people in the Church believe that blacks are cursed from God as the earlier leaders taught. This puts an awful burden on black members. Many feel that they have to defend themselves against white brothers who still believe this. Many white LDS will continue to believe that the reasons for the ban, were as they were taught growing up, before the ban was lifted UNLESS the Church officially states otherwise. That is unfair to our black brothers.

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "McConkie can only apologize for his own statements and the current prophet would have to explain the Church's practices for the first 150 years of its existence"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Critic's response

Regarding Bruce R. McConkie's statement "Forget everything I've said in the past" does not absolve the LDS church of its past leaders' racist teachings and policies.

McConkie's statements are a good first step but the Church needs to officially put out a similar, yet stronger statement. McConkie can only apologize for his own statements and the current prophet would have to explain the Church's practices for the first 150 years of its existence.

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "One of the following must be racist - Was it Joseph Smith, Brigham Young or God?"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

The LDS Church continually says it was not racist but how else can you explain the doctrine taught for 150 years? One of the following must be racist - Was it Joseph Smith, Brigham Young or God? If it was Joseph Smith or Brigham Young then these men are not really receiving true revelation from God and therefore are not prophets and the modern LDS church cannot be God's one, true church. That leaves the obvious choice to say it was all God's idea. It's easy to blame things on God. People do that all the time. No one can prove or disprove it.

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "Shouldn't we expect more from God's Prophets than to merely reflect the times in which they lived?"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Shouldn't we expect more from God's Prophets than to merely reflect the times in which they lived? Isn't God the same yesterday, today, and forever? Why then should Mormon doctrine ever just reflect the times in which they lived? Those appointed to act as God's mouth piece should especially be forward thinkers - to reflect God's will for His true followers on earth.

FairMormon Response

Question: Are prophets simply "men of their time," without any special ability to guide the Church?

Prophets are a product of their own time and culture

Prophets have always reflected the times in which they lived—how could they not?

Prophets continue to receive revelation this days, so we can be successful in this life. They are like a bishop, but for the entire world. They are, indeed, "men of their time." How could the prophets be anything but "men of their time," since they are a product of their own time and culture? They are men that are capable of making mistakes, but Latter-Day Saints believe that if they follow the modern day prophet, they will be blessed. The teachings of the prophets are based on the scriptures, and when God decides to reveal new doctrine, he will do it by his prophets. When prophets receive revelation, it does not always necessarily mean that we are going to hear the prophets teach us new doctrine.


Response to claim: "The church claims to be God's church, indeed, His kingdom on Earth. As such, they should not 'Course Correct'"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

The church claims to be God's church, indeed, His kingdom on Earth. As such, they should not "Course Correct." Rather, they should be on the right course both before and after 1978.

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "Many faithful LDS simply dismiss the LDS racism as Brigham Young's racist attitudes were a reflection of the times in which he lived"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

Many faithful LDS simply dismiss the LDS racism as Brigham Young's racist attitudes were a reflection of the times in which he lived. It only serves as proof that he never spoke to God or at least he never listened very carefully.

FairMormon Response

Response to claim: "But the LDS Church did not change until 1978 - decades after all the other major religions did"

The author(s) of MormonThink make(s) the following claim:

As time went on all the major religions changed their ways and accepted blacks into full participation. Some did it after the Civil War, others closer to the turn of the century and some during the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s. The Catholic Church never adopted the' blacks are cursed from Cain belief' and let blacks be ordained as priests in America in the 1800s. But the LDS Church did not change until 1978 - decades after all the other major religions did.

FairMormon Response

Notes

  1. Neither White nor Black, 77–78.
  2. Neither White nor Black, 60–61, 77–78.
  3. Neither White nor Black, 79–81.
  4. B.H. Roberts, "To the Youth of Israel," The Contributor 6 (May 1885): 296–97.
  5. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 65.
  6. Sterling M. McMurrin and and L. Jackson Newell, Matters of Conscience: Conversations with Sterling M. McMurrin On Philosophy, Education, and Religion (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1996), 199–201; cited in Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), chapter 20, page 5, footnote 17. ISBN 1590384571 (CD version)
  7. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20, page 5, footnote 17.
  8. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20, page 5–, footnote 17.
  9. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20 working draft, 13.
  10. Steven Taggert, Mormonism's Negro Policy: Social and Historical Origins (Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1970).
  11. Edwin B. Firmage, "Hugh B. Brown in His Final Years," Sunstone 11:6 no. (Issue #67) (November 1987), 7–8. off-site
  12. Newell G. Bringhurst, "The 'Missouri Thesis' Revisited: Early Mormonism, Slavery, and the Status of Black People," in Newel K. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith, eds., Black and Mormon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 13. ISBN 978-0252073564. ISBN 0252073568.
  13. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, 204–205.
  14. Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22, footnote 105; citing for the affirmative Arrington, Adventures of a Church Historian and Arrington to author, February 10 and June 15, 1998; for the negative, L. Brent Goates, interview by author, February 9, 1998.
  15. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22; citing Goates, Harold B. Lee, 506, quoting UPI interview published November 16, 1972.
  16. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 1; citing Charles J. Seldin, "Priesthood of LDS Opened to Blacks," Salt Lake City Tribune (10 June 1978), 1A.
  17. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 4; citing letter of 15 June 1963 to Edward Kimball.
  18. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 7; citing F. Burton Howard to author, June 15, 1995; F. Burton Howard, interview by author, July 30, 2002.
  19. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "white."
  20. The Daily Diary of President Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter Library & Museum off-site
  21. "According to the President Carter Library,” posted by "CLee the Anti-Mormon," 8 February 2006.
  22. "Church Honors President Carter’s Support of the Family," Ensign (January 1979)
  23. "Church Give Genealogy to President Jimmy Carter," Ensign (August 1977).
  24. Lance Gurwell, "Critics Still Question `Revelation` On Blacks," Chicago Tribune, June 02, 1988.
  25. Kathy Erickson, letter to the Salt Lake Tribune, 11 March 11, 2001.
  26. Bruce L. Olsen, cited in Salt Lake Tribune on 5 April 2001.
  27. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics (2013)
  28. Jan Shipps, "The Mormons: Looking Forward and Outward" Christian Century (Aug. 16-23, 1978), 761–766 off-site
  29. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013)
  30. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013)
  31. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org. (2013)
  32. Stephen R. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002)
  33. Origen, "Genesis Homily XVI," in Homilies on Genesis and Exodus, translated by Ronald E. Heine (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1982), p. 215, referenced in Haynes.
  34. Haynes, p. 7-8.
  35. Haynes, p. 8.
  36. Haynes, Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery, p. 127-8 citing Palmer, "The Import of Hebrew History," Southern Presbyterian Review 9 (April 1856) 591
  37. Haynes, p. 129, citing Palmer, Our Historic Mission, An Address Delivered before the Eunomian and PhiMu Societies of La Grange Synodical College, July 7 1858 (New Orleans: True Witness Office, 1859), 4-5.
  38. Haynes, p. 132, citing Cherry, God's New Israel, 179-180 who in turn is citing one of Palmer's sermons.
  39. Haynes, p. 161.
  40. Bruce R. McConkie, “All Are Alike unto God,” address in the Second Annual CES Symposium, Salt Lake City, August 1978.
  41. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 6:511 (journal entry dated 25 December 1869). ISBN 0941214133.
  42. First Presidency letter from Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose, to M. Knudson, 13 Jan. 1912.
  43. Wilford Woodruff's Journal, entry dated Dec. 25, 1869.
  44. First Presidency Statement (George Albert Smith), August 17, 1949. off-site
  45. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954) , 1:65-66. (emphasis in original)
  46. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (1966), p. 527.
  47. Bruce R. McConkie, "New Revelation on Priesthood," Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981), 126-137.
  48. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 24, page 3; citing Richard Ostling, "Mormonism Enters a New Era," Time (7 August 1978): 55. Ostling told President Kimball's biographer and son that this was a paraphrase, but an accurate reporting of what he had been told (see footnote 13, citing interview on 10 May 2001).
  49. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics, lds.org. (2013) off-site
  50. M. Russell Ballard, "One More," Ensign, May 2005, p. 69.
  51. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013)
  52. Lycurgus A. Wilson, Life of David W. Patten [Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1900], p. 50., quoted by Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 127-128.
  53. http://web.archive.org/web/20080609233412/http://www.mormonstoday.com/011207/A2Bigfoot01.shtml
  54. http://web.archive.org/web/20040701233040/http://clanofcain.com/
  55. http://www.amazon.com/Conversion-Conspiracy-Shane-Lester/dp/1601453337
  56. "Priesthood," Millennial Star 14/38 (13 November 1852), 594–95; italics in the original. off-site
  57. Brigham Young, (12 January 1862) Journal of Discourses 9:150. off-site
  58. Brigham Young, (6 October 1855) Journal of Discourses 3:45.
  59. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (2013)
  60. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics, LDS.org.
  61. Lester E. Bush, Jr. and Armand L. Mauss, eds., Neither White Nor Black: Mormon Scholars Confront the Race Issue in a Universal Church, (Salt Lake City, Signature Books, 1984). ISBN 0941214222. off-site
  62. Anonymous, "On the Record: 'We Stand For Something' President Gordon B. Hinckley [interview in Australia]," Sunstone 21:4 no. (Issue #112) (December 1998), 71. off-site
  63. Dallin H. Oaks cited in "Apostles Talk about Reasons for Lifting Ban," Daily Herald, Provo, Utah (5 June 1988): 21 (Associated Press); reproduced with commentary in Dallin H. Oaks, Life's Lessons Learned: Personal Reflections (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 2011), 68-69.
  64. Jeffrey R. Holland, Interview, 4 March 2006.
  65. Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), chapter 24, page 4; citing Alexander Morrison, Salt Lake City local news station KTVX, channel 4, 8 June 1998.. ISBN 1590384571 (CD version)
  66. Gordon B. Hinckley, "The Need for Greater Kindness," Ensign (May 2006), 58–61.
  67. Neither White nor Black, 56; citing Editor, "Outrage in Jackson County, Missouri," Evening and Morning Star 2 (January 1834), 122. off-siteGospeLink (requires subscrip.)
  68. Neither White nor Black, 55.
  69. Neither White nor Black, 61,77.
  70. Newell G. Bringhurst, Saints, Slaves, and Blacks: The Changing Place of Black People within Mormonism (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1981), ??.
  71. Saints, Slaves, and Blacks, ??
  72. E.S. Abdy, Journal of a Residence and Tour in the United States of North America, from April, 1833, to October, 1834, 3 Vols., (London: John Murray, 1835), 3:57-58 (emphasis added). off-site
  73. Church Historian's Office. General Church Minutes, 1839–1877, March 26, 1847, in Selected Collections from the Archives of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2 vols., DVD (Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 2002), 1:18.
  74. General Church Minutes, March 26, 1847.
  75. General Church Minutes, April 25, 1847.
  76. Neither White nor Black, 70–72.
  77. For a history of such ideas in American Christian thought generally, see H. Shelton Smith, In His Image, But...: Racism in Southern Religion, 1780–1910 (Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1972), 131. ISBN 082230273X.
  78. Neither White nor Black, 77–78.
  79. Neither White nor Black, 60–61, 77–78.
  80. Neither White nor Black, 79–81.
  81. B.H. Roberts, "To the Youth of Israel," The Contributor 6 (May 1885): 296–97.
  82. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 65.
  83. Sterling M. McMurrin and and L. Jackson Newell, Matters of Conscience: Conversations with Sterling M. McMurrin On Philosophy, Education, and Religion (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 1996), 199–201; cited in Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005), chapter 20, page 5, footnote 17. ISBN 1590384571 (CD version)
  84. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20, page 5, footnote 17.
  85. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20, page 5–, footnote 17.
  86. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 20 working draft, 13.
  87. Steven Taggert, Mormonism's Negro Policy: Social and Historical Origins (Salt Lake City, Utah: University of Utah Press, 1970).
  88. Edwin B. Firmage, "Hugh B. Brown in His Final Years," Sunstone 11:6 no. (Issue #67) (November 1987), 7–8. off-site
  89. Newell G. Bringhurst, "The 'Missouri Thesis' Revisited: Early Mormonism, Slavery, and the Status of Black People," in Newel K. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith, eds., Black and Mormon (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004), 13. ISBN 978-0252073564. ISBN 0252073568.
  90. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, 204–205.
  91. Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22, footnote 105; citing for the affirmative Arrington, Adventures of a Church Historian and Arrington to author, February 10 and June 15, 1998; for the negative, L. Brent Goates, interview by author, February 9, 1998.
  92. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 20, page 22; citing Goates, Harold B. Lee, 506, quoting UPI interview published November 16, 1972.
  93. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 1; citing Charles J. Seldin, "Priesthood of LDS Opened to Blacks," Salt Lake City Tribune (10 June 1978), 1A.
  94. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 4; citing letter of 15 June 1963 to Edward Kimball.
  95. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, working draft chapter 21, page 7; citing F. Burton Howard to author, June 15, 1995; F. Burton Howard, interview by author, July 30, 2002.