Many do not realize that until 1978 the LDS Church did not permit racial intermarriage or allow black men to serve within their priesthood. Author and journalist Williams Lodbell explains:
"In the not-too-distant past, the Mormon faithful were routinely taught that blacks were an inferior race, the color of their skin linked to curses from God recounted in Hebrew and Mormon scriptures. Besides being barred from the priesthood, black males couldn't serve on missions or be married in the temple---though they could become church members and be baptized. The Mormons' historic position on race wasn't much different from that of many other U.S. denominations; it just lasted longer. It took until 1978---14 years after the Civil Rights Act---before the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lifted the ban following what leaders said was a revelation from God to make the priesthood available to "every faithful, worthy man." The new doctrine came without an apology or repudiation of the church's past doctrine..." (Williams Lodbell, "New Mormon Aim: Reach Out to Blacks," Los Angeles Times, William Lobdell, (Sept. 21, 2003).
LDS prophet Brigham Young's view:
"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind...Cain slew his brother...and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin...How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam's children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood" (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7 pp. 290-291).
What has Mormon doctrine taught?
"Racial degeneration, resulting in differences in appearance and spiritual aptitude, has arisen since the fall. We know the circumstances under which the prosterity of Cain (later of Ham) were born with the characteristics of the black race...The Book of Mormon explains why the Lamanites [Native Americans] received dark skins and a degenerate status...If we had a full and true history of all races and nations, we would know the origins of all their distinctive characteristics. In the absence of such detailed information, however, we know only the general principle that all these changes from the physical and spiritual perfections of our common parents have been brought about by departure from gospel truths...The race and nation in which men are born in this world is a direct result of their pre-existent life" (Mormon Doctrine, Bruce R. McConkie, p. 616 1979 edition).
What Does the Bible Teach?
Some Mormons will argue that in the Bible there were certain racial restrictions related to the preaching of the Gospel. For example, the disciples of Jesus were initially instructed by Christ to only preach to fellow Jews. It is true that Jesus focused His earthly ministry on the Jewish people out of respect for the covenant God had made with Abraham. This did not mean that others had a special curse upon them. God always had a plan that was global in scope. Just prior to His death, Jesus commanded his followers to "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them..." (Matthew 28:19) and they did just that!
Also, consider the following Bible passages:
"...But God has shown me [The Apostle Peter] that I should not call any man common or unclean" (Acts 10:28).
Philip baptized the Ethiopian and placed no restrictions on him (Acts 8:26-39).
"God is no respector of persons: but in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts 10:34-35).
"...there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
In conclusion, if Mormonism was a restored form of Christianity (as it claims) we would expect it to be the moral leader in the area of race relations - not among the last of the churches to open their doors to those of African descent.
Statements Concerning Race within Mormon Scriptures:
The Book of Mormon:
I Nephi 11:13 (Mary, mother of Jesus) "...she was exceedingly fair and white."
I Nephi 12:23 (Regarding Lamanites) "...became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations."
I Nephi 13:15 (Regarding Gentiles) "...they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people (Nephites) before they were slain."
2 Nephi 5:21 :...a sore cursing...as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them."
2 Nephi 30:6 (Regarding Lamanites) "...scales of darkness shall begin to fall...they shall be a white and delightsome people." (Changed to pure and delightsome in 1981)
Jacob 3:5 (Lamanites cursed) "...whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins..."
Jacob 3:8-9 "...their skins will be whiter than yours ...revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins..."
Alma 3:6 "...skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion..."
Alma 3:8 (Cursed) "...that their seed might be distinguished from the seed of their brethren...that they might not mix..."
Alma 3:9 "...whosoever did mingle his seed with that of the Lamanites did bring the same curse upon his seed."
Alma 3:14 (Lamanites cursed) "...set a mark on them that they and their seed may be separated from thee and thy seed..."
Alma 3:19 (Amlicites cursed)"...brought upon themselves the curse..."
Alma 23:18 "...(Lamanites) did open a correspondence with them (Nephites) and the curse of God did no more follow them."
3 Nephi 2:14-16 "...Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites; And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites...became exceedingly fair..."
3 Nephi 19:25, 30 (Disciples of Christ) "...they were as white as the countenance and also the garments of Jesus; and behold the whiteness thereof did exceed all the whiteness...nothing upon earth so white as the whiteness thereof...they were white, even as Jesus."
Mormon 5:15 (Lamanites) "...shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people, beyond the description of that which ever hath been amongst us..."
Mormon 5:17 "They were once a delightsome people..."
Pearl of Great Price
Moses 7:8 "...a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan..."
Moses 7:12 "...Enoch continued to call upon all the people, save it were [except] the people of Canaan, to repent..."
Moses 7:22 "...for the seed of Cain were black and had not place among them."
Abraham 1:21 "...king of Egypt was a descendent from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth."
Abraham 1:27 "...Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood..."