Bruce R. McConkie, who now serves as an Apostle
in the Mormon Church, made these remarks concerning blacks in his
book Mormon Doctrine:
Negroes in this life are denied the Priesthood;
under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority
from the Almighty. (Abra. 1:20-27.) The gospel message of salvation
is not carried affirmatively to them... negroes are not equal
with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings
are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings
that flow therefrom, but this inequality is not of man's origin.
It is the Lord's doing, is based an his eternal laws of justice,
and grows out of the lack of Spiritual valiance of those concerned
in their first estate.
Mormon Doctrine, 1966, pp. 527-528
However, in a broad general sense, caste systems
have their root and origin in the gospel itself, and when they
operate according to the divine decree, the resultant restrictions
and segregation are right and proper and have the approval of
the Lord. To illustrate: Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have
been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be
identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants
of Adam should not intermarry. (Ibid., p. 114)
Because of these teachings the Los Angeles Times
for August 27, 1967 referred to the Mormon Church as "one of the
few uncracked fortresses of discrimination." For eleven more years
the Latter-day Saints continued to cling to a policy of discrimination.
Church leaders claimed that the doctrine could only be changed by
revelation from God. Finally, on June 9,1978 the Mormon Church's
Deseret News carried a startling announcement by the First
Presidency which said that a new revelation had been given and that
blacks would be allowed to hold the priesthood:
"...we have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf
of these, our faithful brethren, spending many hours in the upper
room of the Temple supplicating the Lord for divine guidance.
"He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has
confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful,
worthy man in the church may receive the holy priesthood, with
power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved
ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings
of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the church
may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color."
Deseret News, June 9, 1978, p. 1A
Since we have probably printed more material critical
of the Mormon anti-black doctrine than any other publisher, the
new revelation comes as a great victory and a vindication of our
work. We printed our first criticism of this doctrine in 1959. This
was certainly not a popular cause to espouse in those days. (In
fact, at one time a Mormon threatened to punch Sandra in the nose
over the issue.) In November 1965 we published a Messenger
which showed that a black man named Elijah Abel held the priesthood:
in the early Mormon Church and that his descendants, who now pass
as "whites," are still being ordained to the priesthood. This was
an absolute contradiction to the doctrine taught by the Mormon leaders.
Apostle Mark E. Petersen said that "If there is one drop of Negro
blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse."
(Race Problems--As They Affect The Church, page 7) The Church
was never able to refute the serious accusation about Abel's descendants
holding the priesthood, and this undoubtedly destroyed many Mormon's
faith in the doctrine concerning blacks. For more information an
this matter see Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? pages 267-272.
In 1967 the original papyrus from which Joseph Smith
"translated" the Book of Abraham
was rediscovered. Immediately after the papyrus came to light we
began publishing material which showed that Joseph Smith was completely
mistaken in his purported translation. The papyrus was in reality
a copy of the Egyptian Book of Breathings, a pagan text that had
absolutely nothing to do with Abraham or his religion. Since the
Book of Abraham was the real source of the Church's teaching that
blacks could not hold the priesthood, we called upon the Mormon
leaders to "repudiate the Book of Abraham and renounce the anti-Negro
doctrine contained in its pages." (Salt Lake City Messenger,
March, 1966) For a complete treatment of the subject see Mormonism--Shadow
or Reality? pp. 294-369.
The translation of the papyrus by noted Egyptologists
caused many of the intellectual Mormons to lose faith in Joseph
Smith's work and consequently the Church's anti-black doctrine began
to be more openly criticized by members of the Church. Some were
even excommunicated because of their opposition to the Church's
Those of us who have criticized the Mormon Church
for its racial teachings have been ridiculed for attempting to change
the doctrine. Mormon apologist Armand L. Mauss wrote:
"My plea, then to the civil rights organizations
and to all the critics of the Mormon Church is: get off our backs!
... agitation aver the 'Negro issue' by non-Mormon groups, or
even by Mormon liberals, is likely simply to increase the resistance
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Winter 1967, pp.
John L. Lund said that
"Those who believe that the Church 'gave in' on
the polygamy issue and subsequently should give in on the Negro
question are not only misinformed about Church History, but are
apparently unaware of Church doctrine.... Therefore, those who
hope that pressure will bring about a revelation need to take
a closer look at Mormon history and the order of heaven.
The Church and the Negro, 1967, pp. 104-5
On page 109 of the same book, Mr. Lund emphasized
"Those who would try to pressure the Prophet
to give the Negroes the Priesthood do not understand the plan
of God nor the order of heaven. Revelation is the expressed will
of God to man. Revelation is not man's will expressed to God.
All the social, political, and governmental pressure in the world
is not going to change what God has decreed to be."
When Stewart Udall, a noted Mormon, came out against
the Church's anti-black doctrine, Paul C. Richards responded:
"The Church is either true or it isn't. If it
changes its stand on the strength of the 'great stream of modern
religious and social thought,' it will be proven untrue. If that
happens, the more serious members would do well to join the Cub
Scouts. It's cheaper and there is less work and less criticism....
"If the Church is true it will hold to its beliefs
in spite of its members. If it is false, more power to the easy-way-out
philosophers who claim to know the 'imperious truths of the contemporary
Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Autumn 1967, p.
In the Salt Lake City Messenger for March
1970, we commented:
"The Lord plainly reveals to us, as he did to
Peter many years ago, that 'God is no respecter of persons' (Acts
10:34). To accept the anti-Negro doctrine is to deny the spirit
of revelation. If we allow others to do our thinking on this vital
issue it could lead to violence or bloodshed. Be cause we felt
that it was not right to put our trust in man, we separated our
selves from the Mormon Church."
As early as 1963 we printed a sheet entitled, "Will
There Be A Revelation Regarding The Negro?" At the bottom of
this sheet we predicted:
"If the pressure continues to increase on the
Negro question the leaders of the Mormon Church will probably
have another revelation which will allow the Negro to hold the
In Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? pp. 291-292,
we pointed out:
"If the Mormon Church should decide to change
its policy and allow Negroes to hold the priesthood, it will not
be the first time that Mormon doctrine has been revised to fit
a changing world.
"Twenty-five years before the Mormon Church gave
up the practice of polygamy they were declaring that no such change
could be made. ln the Millennial Star, Oct. 28, 1865, the
'We have shown that in requiring the relinquishment
of polygamy, they ask the renunciation of the ENTIRE FAITH of
'There is no half way house. THE CHILDISH BABBLE ABOUT ANOTHER
REVELATION IS ONLY AN EVIDENCE HOW HALF INFORMED MEN CAN TALK.'
"As the pressure increased against polygamy, Wilford
Woodruff issued the Manifesto (now claimed to be a revelation)
which suspended the practice of polygamy."
Brigham Young Misrepresented
We feel that the Mormon Church's change on the doctrine
concerning blacks is a very good move because it will undoubtedly
help blacks obtain equality in Utah and will probably prevent much
bloodshed and trouble. Nevertheless, we must point out that Brigham
Young and other leaders have been misrepresented in order to make
the change palatable to the Mormon people. For instance, the Church's
Deseret News would have us believe that the change was a
fulfillment of a prophecy uttered by Brigham Young, the second President
of the Church:
"The announcement Friday fulfilled statements
made by most LDS Church presidents since Joseph Smith that blacks
would one day obtain the full blessings of the church, including
"Speaking against slavery, Brigham Young once
told the Utah Legislature, '...the the [sic] day will come when
all that race (Blacks) will be redeemed and possess all the blessings
which we now have.'"
Deseret News, June 10, 1978, p. 1A
While it is true that Brigham Young believed that
blacks would eventually receive the priesthood, he made it clear
that this was not to happen until AFTER the resurrection.
The context of the speech which the Deseret News cites reveals
that Brigham Young believed it would be a sin for the Church to
give blacks the priesthood before the "last of the posterity of
Able" had received it. He went on to say that if the Church gave
"all the blessings of God" to the blacks prematurely, the priesthood
would be taken away and the Church would go to destruction. This
address is preserved in the Church Historical Department. Michael
Marquardt has provided a typed copy which retains the spelling errors
of the original. We extract the following from Brigham Young's speech:
"What is that mark? you will see it on the countenance
of every African you ever did see upon the face of the earth,...the
Lord told Cain that he should not receive the blessings of the
preisthood nor his seed, until the last of the posterity of Able
had received the preisthood, until the redemtion of the earth.
If there never was a prophet, or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke
it before, I tell you, this people that are commonly called negroes
are the children of old Cain.... they cannot bear rule in the
preisthood, for the curse on them was to remain upon them, until
the resedue of the posterity of Michal and his wife receive the
blessings,... until the times of the restitution shall come,...
Then Cain's seed will be had in remembrance, and the time come
when that curse should be wiped off....
"I am as much oposed to the principle of slavery
as any man in the present acceptation or usage of the term, it
is abused. I am opposed to abuseing that which God has decreed,
to take a blessing, and make a curse of it. It is a great blessing
to the seed of Adam to have the seed of Cain for servants,...Let
this Church which is called the kingdom of God on the earth; we
will sommons the first presidency, the twelve, the high counsel,
the Bishoprick, and all the elders of Isreal, suppose we summons
them to apear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle
our seed, with theblack race of Cain, that they shall came in
with with us and be pertakers with us of all the blessings God
has given to us. On that very day, and hour we should do so, the
priesthood is taken from this Church and kingdom and God leaves
us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed
of Cain the Church must go to desstruction,-- we should receive
the curse which has been placed upon the seed of Cain, and never
more be numbered with the children of Adam who are heirs to the
priesthood untill that curse be removed."
Brigham Young Addresses, Ms d 1234, Box 48, folder 3, dated Feb.
5, 1852, located in the LDS Church Historical Dept.
The Mormon people are now faced with a serious dilemma;
if they really believe Brigham Young was a prophet, then it follows
from his statement that the Church has lost the priesthood, been
put under "the curse" and is going to destruction! In spite of Brigham
Young's emphatic warning against giving blacks "all the blessings
God has given us," the present leaders have announced that blacks
will now receive "all of the privileges and blessings which the
gospel affords." (Deseret News, June 9,1978)
After the First Presidency made their statement,
many people became confused over the Church's position on interracial
marriage. It soon became apparent, however, that the Church's ban
on marriage to blacks had been lifted. Joseph Freeman, the first
black man ordained to the priesthood after the change, indicated
that he wanted to be sealed in the Temple to his wife who was not
of African descent. Church spokesman Don LeFevre said that such
a marriage would be possible and that although the Church did not
encourage interracial marriage, there was no longer a ban on whites
"That is entirely possible, said Mr. LeFevre....'So
there is no ban on interracial marriage.
"'If a black partner contemplating marriage is
worthy of going to the Temple, nobody's going to stop him--if
he's marrying a white, an Oriental...if he's ready to go to the
Temple, obviously he may go with the blessings of the church."'
Salt Lake Tribune, June 14, 1978
On June 24, 1978 the Tribune announced that
"Joseph Freeman, 26, the first black man to gain the priesthood
in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Friday went
in the Salt Lake Temple with his wife and 5 sons for sacred ordinances...Thomas
S. Monson, member of the church's Quorum of Twelve Apostles, conducted
the marriage and sealing ceremonies [sic]."
In allowing temple marriages between blacks and
whites, the Church is completely disregarding what President Brigham
Young referred to as "the law of God":
"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to
the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed
mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the
law of God, is death on the spot, This will always be so."
Journal of Discourses, Vol.10, page 110
The reader will notice that Brigham Young said that
this "Law of God" could never be changed. In 1967 the Mormon writer
John L. Lund made these comments about Brigham Young's statement:
"Brigham Young made a very strong statement on
this matter when he said, '...Shall I tell you the law of God
in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to
the CHOSEN SEED mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty
under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be
so.' God has commanded Israel not to intermarry. To go against
this commandment of God would be to sin. Those who willfully sin
with their eyes open to this wrong will not be surprised to find
that they will be separated from the presence of God in the world
to come. This is spiritual death.... It does not matter if they
are one-sixth Negro or one-one hundred and sixth, the curse of
no Priesthood is still the same.... To intermarry with a Negro
is to forfeit a 'Nation of Priesthood holders."'
The Church and the Negro, 1967, pp. 54-55
The Church Section of the Deseret News for
June 17, 1978 says that "Former presidents of the Church have spoken
of the day when the blessings of the priesthood would come to the
blacks." A quotation from a sermon by Brigham Young which appeared
in the Journal of Discourses, Vol.7, is cited, but when we
go to the original book we find that it has been taken out of context,
In this sermon Brigham Young plainly taught that blacks could not
receive the priesthood until all of Adam's other children receive
"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 favorable position,
the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the
Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will
be the last from whom the curse will be removed, When the residue
of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then
the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will
receive blessings in like proportion."
Journal of Discourses, Vol.7, pp. 290-291, emphasis added
Brigham Young also taught this doctrine in other
"When all the other children of Adam
have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood, and of coming
into the kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters
of the earth, and have received their resurrection from
the dead, then it will be time enough to remove
the curse from Cain and his posterity....he is the last
to share the joys of the kingdom of God."
Journal of Discourses, Vol. 2, p. 143, emphasis added
"And when all the rest of the children have
received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then
that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will
then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings
which we now are entitled to." Ibid., p. 272, emphasis
In 1949 the First Presidency of the Mormon Church
issued a statement in which they cited Brigham Young's teaching
that blacks cannot receive the priesthood until after the resurrection:
"The prophets of the Lord have made several statements...
President Brigham Young said: '...They will go down to death.
And when all the rest of the children have received their
blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will
be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and
possess the priesthood,...'"
Statement by the First Presidency, as cited in Mormonism and
the Negro, by John J. Stewart and William E. Berrett, 1960,
Part 2, p. 16, emphasis added
Joseph Fielding Smith, who served as the tenth President
of the Mormon Church in the early 1970's, taught that blacks would
never hold the priesthood as long as "time endures":
"Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but
because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior
race. A curse was placed upon him and that curse has been continued
through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions
of souls have come into this world cursed with a black skin and
have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness
of the blessings of the Gospel....they have been made to feel
their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind
from the beginning."
The Way To Perfection, 1935, p. 101
In his book Answers To Gospel Questions,
Vol. 2, p.188, Joseph Fielding Smith said that the bestowal of priesthood
on blacks was "in the far distant future," and in a meeting held
in Barratt Hall on October 11, 1958, he commented that "the Lord
will, in due time, remove the restrictions. Not in this world but
the time will come,..." (Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? p.
N. Eldon Tanner, a member of the First Presidency
who finally signed the statement granting blacks the Priesthood,
was completely opposed to the idea in 1967:
"'The church has no intention of changing its
doctrine on the Negro,' N. Eldon Tanner, counselor to the First
President told SEATTLE during his recent visit here. 'Throughout
the history of the original Christian church, the Negro never
held the priesthood. There's really nothing we can do to change
this. It's a law of God.'" (Seattle Magazine, December
1967, p, 60)
Mormon writer John L. Lund claimed that if the President
of the Mormon Church gave a revelation that blacks were to hold
the priesthood, members of the Church would accept it, but he emphasized
that such a revelation would not be forthcoming because the "present
prophets are in complete agreement with Brigham Young and other
past leaders on the question of the Negro and the Priesthood":
"Brigham Young revealed that the Negroes will
not receive the Priesthood until a great while after the second
advent of Jesus Christ whose coming will usher in a millennium
"In view of what President Young and others have
said, it would be foolish indeed to give anyone the false idea
that a new revelation is immediately forthcoming on the issue
of the Negroes receiving the Priesthood....our present prophets
are in complete agreement with Brigham Young and other past leaders
on the question of the Negro and the Priesthood. President Mc
Kay was asked by a news reporter at the dedication of the Oakland
Temple, 'When will the Negroes receive the Priesthood?' He responded
to the question over a national television network saying, 'Not
in my lifetime, young man, nor yours.'...
"Social pressure and even government sanctions
cannot be expected to bring forth a new revelation. This point
is mentioned because there are groups in the Church, as well as
out, who feel that pressure on the Prophet will cause a revelation
to come forth. It would be wise to emphasize that all the social
pressure in the world will not change what the Lord has decreed
to be. Let those who would presume to pressure the Prophet be
reminded that it is God that inspires prophets, not social pressure....It
is not the responsibility nor the stewardship of any person on
earth to dictate to the Lord or the Lord's servants when a revelation
should be given....
"The prophets have declared that there are at
least two major stipulations that have to be met before the Negroes
will be allowed to possess the Priesthood. The first requirement
relates to time. The Negroes will not be allowed to hold the Priesthood
during mortality, in fact, not until after the resurrection of
all of Adam's children. The other stipulation requires that Abel's
seed receive the first opportunity of having the Priesthood....Negroes
must first pass through mortality before they may possess the
Priesthood ('they will go down to death'). Reference is also made
to the condition that the Negroes will have to wait until after
the resurrection of all of Adam's children before receiving the
Priesthood....the last of Adam s children will not be resurrected
until the end of the millennium. Therefore, the Negroes will not
receive the Priesthood until after that time.... this will not
happen until after the thousand years of Christ's reign on earth....
"The second major stipulation that needs to be
met...is the requirement that Abel's seed receive the opportunity
of holding the Priesthood first....
"The obvious question is, 'When will Abel's seed
be redeemed?' It will first of all be necessary that Abel marry,
and then be resurrected, and ultimately exalted in the highest
degree of the Celestial Kingdom so that he can have a continuation
of his seed. It will then be necessary for Abel to create an earth
for his spirit children to come to and experience mortality. These
children will have to be 'redeemed' or resurrected. After the
resurrection or redemption of Abel's seed, Cain's descendants,
the Negroes, will then be allowed to possess the Priesthood."
The Church and the Negro, 1967, pp. 45-49
On pages 109-110 of the same book, John L. Lund
reiterates: "First, all of Adam's children will have to resurrect
and secondly, the seed of Abel must have an opportunity to possess
the Priesthood. These events will not occur until sometime after
the end of the millennium.
As late as 1974 Apostle Bruce R. McConkie questioned
the spirituality of Church members who believed it was time for
a new revelation on the blacks. In a conference message delivered
Oct. 4, 1974, Apostle McConkie said:
"Am I valiant in the testimony of Jesus if my
chief interest and concern in life is laying up in store the treasures
of the earth, rather than the building up of the kingdom?...
"Am I valiant if I am deeply concerned about the
Church's stand on who can or who cannot receive the priesthood
and think it is time for a new revelation on this doctrine?...
"Am I valiant if I engage in gambling, play cards,
go to pornographic movies,..."
The Ensign, November 1974, p. 35
"Better Late Than Never"
Mario S. DePillis observed:
For Mormonism's anti-black policy a revelation
was the only way out, and many students of Mormonism were puzzled
only at the lateness of the hour. New York Times 11.6.1978
As far back as 1963, Donald Ira French, Jr., wrote
a letter in which he remarked:
Sir: As an elder in the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints, it has long seemed incredible to me that
a church with so much forward vision in social welfare and higher
education can be so backward in its outlook on a segment of the
human race that is also supposed to be among our brothers...
The revelation that the church is talking about with respect to
the Negro and the priesthood should have been sought 50 years
ago--not now when we are forced into looking for one. Even if
a revelation should come now, we have compromised our position
because it looks as if we have been forced into seeking it, which
will be true.
That the Mormon Church was forced into the revelation
is obvious to anyone who seriously examines the evidence. In the
books Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? and Mormons and Negroes
we show that there has been a great deal of pressure exerted against
the Church. For instance, athletic teams from the Church's Brigham
Young University have been the target of very serious protests.
In 1974 the Mormon doctrine of discrimination against
blacks brought the Boy Scouts into a serious confrontation with
the NAACP. The Boy Scouts of America do not discriminate because
of religion or race, but Mormon-sponsored troops did have a policy
of discrimination. On July 18, 1974, the Salt Lake Tribune
A 12-year-old boy scout has been denied a senior
patrol leadership in his troop because he is black, Don L. Cope,
black ombudsman for the state, said Wednesday....
The ombudsman said Mormon 'troop policy is that in order for a
scout to become a patrol leader, he must be a deacon's quorum
president in the LDS Church. Since the boy cannot hold the priesthood,
he cannot become a patrol leader.'
The Mormon leaders apparently realized that they
could never prevail in this matter and a compromise was worked out:
Shortly before Boy Scout officials were to appear
in Federal Court Friday morning on charges of discrimination,
the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a policy
change which will allow black youths to be senior patrol leaders,
a position formerly reserved for white LDS youths in troops sponsored
by the church....
An LDS Church spokesman said Friday under the 'guidelines set
forth in the statement, a young man other than president of the
deacons quorum could (now) become the senior patrol leader if
he is better qualified.'
Salt Lake Tribune 3.8.1974
Mormon President Spencer W. Kimball "had been subpoenaed
to testify" in the suit (Ibid., Oct. 23), but on Nov. 7, 1974 the
Tribune reported:"A suit claiming discrimination against
blacks by the Boy Scouts of America was dismissed Wednesday in federal
court...all parties to the suit..signed an agreement stating the
alleged discrimination 'has been discontinued.'"
Since 1976 the Mormon Church has been repeatedly
embarrassed by one of its own members who became alienated over
the anti-black doctrine and decided to take matters into his own
hands. On April 3, 1976 the Salt Lake Tribune reported:
PORTLAND, Ore.--A member of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints ordained a black into the priesthood
Friday, saying he did so in an attempt to force a revision in
Mormon doctrine about the Negro race.
Douglas A. Wallace,...first baptized Larry Lester,...in the swimming
pool of a motel in northeast Portland. He then ordained Lester
to the office of priest in the Aaronic Priesthood of the LDS Church....
The rites were preceded by a news conference at which Wallace
said he has long been bothered by the Mormon Church's bias against
blacks and he feels the time has come to challenge it. He said
often all that is required to change a policy is for someone to
break out of tradition....
The president of the Portland-Oregon Mission of the church, Robert
Seamons, said of Wallace's actions:
'He is using the priesthood in an unrighteous
manner and his action will have no validity because the president
of the church has said that blacks are not to hold the priesthood.'
Wallace said he hopes there are no recriminations
against him for his action, such as excommunication.
On April 13,1976 the Salt Lake Tribune revealed
"Douglas A. Wallace was excommunicated from the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Sunday for ordaining
a black man into the church's priesthood."
After a confrontation with Church personnel at an
April conference session, Mr. Wallace was ejected from the Tabernacle.
Later he was served with "a court order barring him from attending
conference." (Ibid., Oct 4, 1976)
Although we did not agree with some of Mr, Wallace's
ideas on religion, we did not consider him to be dangerous and we
were rather surprised to notice the close surveillance the police
kept him under when he walked along the public sidewalk outside
of Temple Square. We were rather startled to see such a thing in
Salt Lake City.
Shooting of Officer Olson
The Mormon leaders' fear of the threat Mr Wallace
presented to the Church seems to have led to a tragic incident where
a policeman was accidentally shot and permanently paralyzed. This
occurred about the time of the Church's conference held in April,
1977. On April 5, 1977 the Salt Lake Tribune reported:
"Mormon dissident Douglas A. Wallace charged Monday
that a Salt Lake City police officer, shot early Sunday was keeping
surveillance on him in a nearby residence.
"Acting Police Chief Edgar A. Bryan Jr. denied
"He said his men were not keeping surveillance
on Mr. Wallace, a excommunicated member of the Church...but he
would not say what the stakeout's purpose was.
"Officer David W. Olson remained in critical condition
Monday at St. Mark's Hospital, where personnel said he suffered
a severed spinal cord from a single shot in the neck. The policeman
was shot accidentally by his partner,... Wallace was staying at
the home of a friend, Dr. John W. Fitzgerald, 2177 Carriage Ln.
"He was in Salt Lake City to try to make an appearance
at the LDS World Conference last weekend. Attorneys for the church,
however, obtained a temporary restraining order...which prevented
the dissident from visiting Temple Square.
"'I have not committed any crime, and I don't
intend to commit any crime. I have been raised in the Mormon faith
and I am a man of peace...This is not Russia; this is not Nazi
Germany; there is no reason why I should be under surveillance
of the police,' Mr. Wallace said."
The following day the Salt Lake Tribune related:
"Ex-Mormon Douglas Wallace, who claims the wounding
of an undercover police officer was done while police held surveillance
on him, Tuesday afternoon said he will subpoena various high ranking
police and sheriff's deputies to establish the fact....
"Mr. Wallace said also, 'It is clear from the
evidence that we have uncovered that I was under surveillance.
The police department's denial of that simply compounds the wrong.
Is this going to be Salt Lake's sequel to the Watergate scandal?'"
Salt Lake Tribune, April 6, 1977
With Mr. Wallace and his attorney pressing them
hard, the police were finally forced to admit the truth about the
"Salt Lake City police officers admitted Thursday
that the accidental wounding of an undercover officer occurred
during surveillance of Mormon dissident Douglas A. Wallace....
"Reports released Thursday by both the county
sheriff's office and the county attorney show that six officers
were on stakeout around the John W. Fitzgerald home...where Mr.
Wallace was staying.
"The lawmen were paired up in three police vehicles
and two of those were parked close together in opposite directions..."
Salt Lake Tribune, April 8, 1977
Those who know Mr. Wallace find it strange that
there should have be so many policemen on the surveillance crew
watching him at 4:20 a.m. A subsequent story in the newspaper
reported that the "lawmen...had been on duty for 16 straight hours,
Chief Willoughby said." Ibid., April 15, 1977
At any rate, Wallace claimed the Mormon Church was
behind the whole affair:
"Ex-Mormon Douglas Wallace Friday renewed his
assertion that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
was behind April police surveillance of Mr. Wallace that led to
the accidental shooting of a Salt Lake City police officer." Ibid.,
Sept. 17, 1977
Finally, David Olson the disabled police officer,
took exception to a press release issued by the Church. In a letter
to the Editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, Jan, 18, 1978, Mr.
Olson made a direct attack on the President of the Church:
"I would also like to thank Spencer W. Kimball
for his incorrect press release concerning the police involvement
combined with the LDS church's efforts to restrict Douglas A.
Wallace from the temple grounds, specifically the Tabernacle,
on April 3, 1977.
"His denial of these actions is wrong. Any man
who can take such actions and still call himself a prophet deserves
more than I to be confined to this wheelchair."
Douglas Wallace filed lawsuits amounting to millions
of dollars against the Mormon Church, and although he has not been
able to prevail against the Church in the courts, the publicity
surrounding the suits has caused the Church no end of trouble. We
feel that his actions and the embarrassment they have caused the
Church have played a part in bringing about the decision to have
a new "revelation."
Another Mormon who has put a great deal of pressure
on the Church is Byron Marchant. Mr. Marchant took a very strong
stand against racism in the Church. The Dallas Morning News
for Oct. 20, 1977 reported:
"SALT LAKE CITY (AP)--The man who cast the first
vote in modern history against a leader of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints has been excommunicated and fired
as church janitor.
"Byron Marchant, 35, of Salt Lake, is the second
opponent of the church policy withholding the priesthood from
blacks to be excommunicated in the last two years."
When Mr. Marchant tried to distribute literature
at Temple Square at the next conference he was arrested:
"Byron Marchant, excommunicated member of the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was arrested Sunday
at 1:45 p.m. at Temple Square of charges of trespassing,....Marchant
was requested to leave the church grounds after he offered literature
to people waiting in line for admission to the 2 p.m. session
of general conference, Mr. Gibbs said. J. Earl Jones, director
of security for the Mormon church reportedly advised Mr. Marchant
he was on private property and asked him to leave. When Mr. Marchant
refused, Mr. Gibbs said police officers were contacted and Mr.
Marchant was placed under arrest at approximately 1:45 p.m."
Salt Lake Tribune, April, 3, 1978
Mr. Marchant published a sheet in which he called
for demonstrations against the Church's policy:
"Next October Conference (1978) I will join all
interested in a march on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. In the
event that the Mormon Church decides to ordain worthy Afro-Americans
to the priesthood this demonstration will be a sort of celebration.
A demonstration of support. In the meantime, every person and/or
group concerned about Utah Racism is encouraged to speak out and
attend the October protest."
Mr. Marchant's threat of a demonstration at the
next conference may have caused Mormon leaders to think more seriously
about having a new revelation. The general authorities seem to have
a real fear of demonstrations around Temple Square. Although Mr.
Marchant is probably a peaceful man, the issue concerning blacks
in the Mormon Church was so explosive that the slightest incident
could have touched off a riot where innocent people could have been
injured. We think that the Church was wise to change its policy
before the demonstration.
However this may be, when the Mormon Church yielded
Mr. Marchant dropped a civil suit:
"Following Friday's announcement that the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will allow blacks
to receive the priesthood, Byron Marchant, longtime advocate of
such a policy, dropped a civil suit filed against Church President
Spencer W. Kimball Wednesday.
"Marchant was suing President Kimball for not
appearing as a witness in a case currently pending against Marchant...
Marchant was suing the Mormon Church president for $100 for not
appearing after being subpoenaed to testify in the case. Marchant's
subpoena was quashed Thursday."
Salt Lake Tribune, June 10, 1978
Another article in the same issue of the Tribune
observed that "The last three years have also seen repeated attempts
by church dissidents to subpoena Mormon leaders into court proceedings,
with the central issue often related to the church's belief about
Problem In Brazil
Besides all the problems the Church was having with
dissidents, it was faced with an impossible situation in Brazil.
Even the Church's own Deseret News admitted that
"A major problem the church has faced with its
policy regarding blacks was in Brazil, where the church is building
a temple. Many people there are miied [mixed?] racially, and it
is often impossible to determine whether church members have black
Deseret News, June 10, 1978
Mormon leaders have been aware of this problem for
some time. Lester Bush, Jr., gave this revealing information in
an article published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought,
Spring 1973, p. 41:
"The decision to deny the priesthood to anyone
with Negro ancestry ('no matter how remote'), had resolved the
theoretical problem of priesthood eligibility, but did not help
with the practical problem of identifying the 'blood of Cain'
in those not already known to have Negro ancestry....
"The growth of the international Church was clearly
bringing new problems. Brazil was particularly difficult. Later
that year J. Ruben Clark, First Counselor to George Albert Smith,
reported that the Church was entering 'into a situation in doing
missionary work...where it is very difficult if not impossible
to tell who has negro blood and who has not. He said that if we
are baptizing Brazilians, we are almost certainly baptizing people
of negro blood, and that if the Priesthood is conferred upon them,
which it no doubt is, we are facing a very serious problem.'"
In a letter published in Dialogue: A Journal
of Mormon Thought, Autumn, 1967, p. 8, Gary Lobb observed:
"My studies currently in Brazil,... have led
me to conclude that most Brazilians who are not second or third
generation descendants of German, Italian, Polish, or Japanese
immigrants, are probably descendants of Negroes. This is especially
true among the lower and lower-middle classes which make up a
large portion of L.D.S. membership in this land... In some of
the branches of the Church which my wife and I have attended here
in Brazil, there appear to be priesthood bearers who possess the
essential characteristics of the Negroid races."
The hypocrisy of the situation in South America
was pointed out in 1966 by Wallace Turner:
"A different thing is going on in South America
where Mormon missionaries are pushing ahead full throttle. There
the former careful selection to keep out 'white Negroes' has been
allowed to slide a little....
"'There is no question but that in Brazil they
have been ordaining priests who are part Negro,' said one careful
The Mormon Establishment, 1966, p. 261
With the opening of the new temple in Brazil the
situation would have turned into a real nightmare. Actually, the
Mormon Church has the same problem in the United States. Patriarch
Eldred G. Smith remarked,
"I had a young lady who was blond, a[n]d no sign
or indications visibly of the Negro line at all, but yet she was
deprived of going to the Temple... We have these conditions by
the thousands in the United States today and are getting more
of them. If they have any blood of the Negro at all in their line,
in their veins at all, they are not entitled to the blessings
of the Priesthood,... No limit as to how far back so far as I
Patriarchal Blessings, Institute of Religion, January 17,
1964, p. 8
Time Magazine for June 30, 1958, p. 47, pointed
out Dr. Robert P. Stuckert researched the "conclusion that of 135
million Americans classified as white in 1950, about 28 million
(21%) had some African ancestry." The Church's stress on genealogical
research placed many members of the Church in a very embarrassing
position. Many members of the Church discovered they had black ancestors
and attempted to cover it up. Some however, faced the issue and
yielded up all rights to the priesthood. The Deseret News
Church Section for July 11, 1970, told of an interesting case:
"Mr. and Mrs. John Lono Pea are an amazing couple...
he was set apart as genealogy secretary.
"'I found out through my family telling me and
in genealogy work that a grandparent was an offspring of one of
the Negroes who migrated to Hawaii in 1820, through the slave
"'I have a sure testimony that what the Lord has
said regarding the priesthood is true. I sent my genealogy to
the First Presidency so there would be no chance of my getting
the priesthood through any means except when the Lord wills it.
"'I don't want to offend God by trying to have
it because someone through the goodness of their heart, wants
me to have it....'"
Unless there is another man in Hawaii with the name
"John L. Pea" there is reason to believe that Mr. Pea was mistakenly
ordained to the priesthood and performed baptisms and other ordinances
before his ancestry was discovered. The following is from a Council
meeting held Oct.29, 1936:
"Letter read from President W. Francis Bailey
of the Hawaiian Mission stating that Brother William Pakale, a
priest, and Brother John L.Pea, who have recently been discovered
to be one-eighth negro, have heretofore officiated in performing
some baptisms and other ordinances. President Bailey asks for
a ruling as to what should be done in such cases.
"After some discussion of the matter, Elder Stephen
L. Richards moved that the matter be referred to Elder George
Albert Smith, who will attend the approaching Oaho Stake Conference,
with instructions that in the event he should find that a considerable
number of people are involved, we assuming the authority was given
to those brethren to officiate in these ordinances, that ratification
of their acts be authorized. In the event he should discover that
there are only one or two affected, and that the matter can be
readily taken care of, it may be advisable to have re-baptism
"Motion seconded by Brother Ballard and unanimously
Council Minutes, Oct. 29, 1936, Bennion papers, typed copy; also
cited by Lester Bush in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought,
Spring 1973, p. 141
Revelation Evades Real Issue
O. Kendall White, Jr., made these interesting observations
six years before the revelation was given:
"Since they believe in 'continuing revelation,'
Mormons have a mechanism that enables them to reverse previous
positions without repudiating the past. This is illustrated in
the resolution of the conflict over polygamy. Mormons never disavowed
their belief in polygamy, but they discontinued the practice on
the grounds that it conflicted with another belief involving support
for 'the law of the land'. That the church will invoke such a
mechanism to resolve the racial issue is not too unlikely.
"However, this approach has a serious drawback.
It is the tendency not to acknowledge the errors of the past.
While revelation could be used to legitimate a new racial policy
and to redefine Mormon relations with black people, Mormons might
still be unwilling to condemn the racism involved in their history.
They might be inclined to argue that Mormons in earlier periods
were under a different mandate than the one binding them. This
obviously implies that the church is never wrong. Thus, change
may come through the notion of continuing revelation, but the
racist aspects a Mormon history will not necessarily be condemned."
The Journal of Religious Thought, Autumn-Winter, 1973,
It would appear that the Church leaders have done
exactly what Mr. White warned against--i.e., they have used revelation
as a means of sidestepping the real issues involved. Mario S. DePillis
pointed out that
"the revelation leaves unsolved other racist implications
of the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price--scriptures
that are both cornerstones and contradictions."
New York Times, June 11, 1978
One issue that the Mormon leaders now seem to be
dodging is that concerning skin color. From the beginning Mormon
theology has taught that a black skin is a sign of God's displeasure:
"We will first inquire into the results of the
approbation or displeasure of God upon a people, starting with
the belief that a black skin is a mark of the curse of heaven
placed upon some portions of mankind."
Juvenile Instructor, Vol. 3, p. 157
The Book of Mormon is filled with the teaching
that people with dark skins are cursed:
"...wherefore, as they were white, and exceeding
fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my
people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon
Book of Mormon, p. 61, verse 21
"And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according
to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse
upon them because at their transgression..." Ibid., p.
201, v. 6
On page 468, verse 15, of the Book of Mormon
the following statement is made concerning the Indians:
" ...for this people shall be scattered, and shall
become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people, beyond the description
of that which ever hath been amongst us,..."
The Book of Mormon, however, predicts that
the Indians will repent of their sins and become white:
"...and many generations shall not pass away
among them, save they shall be a white and delightsome people."
Book of Mormon, p. 102, verse 6
Spencer W. Kimball, who gave the new revelation
which allows blacks to hold the priesthood, seems to be a real believer
in the teaching that God makes righteous people become "white and
"I saw a striking contrast in the progress of
the Indian people today as against that of only fifteen years
ago....they are fast becoming a white and delightsome people....they
are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised.
In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of
the twenty were as light as Anglos;...The children in the home
placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers
and sisters in the hogans on the reservation....There was the
doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had an Indian boy
in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the
younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation.
These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and
to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and
his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in
the hope that the process might be accelerated....today the dark
clouds are dissipating."
Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922-923
It is interesting to note that while Spencer W.
Kimball believes that the Indians are to become "white and delightsome,"
he has suppressed Joseph Smith's 1831 revelation on polygamy which
commanded the Mormons to marry the Indians to make them white. We
published this revelation in full in the book Mormonism Like
Watergate? in 1974. The most important verse of this revelation
reads as follows:
"4. Verily, I say unto you, that the wisdom of
man, in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges
of my holy priesthood, but ye shall know when ye receive a fulness
by reason of the anointing: For it is my will, that in time, ye
should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that
their posterity may become white, delightsome and just, for even
now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles."
We seriously doubt that President Kimball will ever
allow this revelation to be canonized in the Doctrine and Covenants
since he feels that the Indians are being made "white and delightsome"
through the power of God and has in the past discouraged intermarriage
with the Indians. The Church Section of the Deseret News
for June 17, 1978 gave this information:
"In an address to seminary and institute teachers
at Brigham Young University on June 27, 1958, President Kimball,
then a member of the Council of the Twelve, said:
"'...there is one thing that I must mention,
and that is interracial marriages. When I said you must teach
your young people to overcome their prejudices and accept the
Indians, I did not mean that you would encourage intermarriage.'"
Although the Mormon Church is now opening the door
to temple marriages between blacks and whites, President Kimball
is probably not too enthused about the matter. An endorsement of
Joseph Smith's 1831 revelation encouraging intermarriage with Indians
could now lead white members to seek marriages with blacks. Since
blacks are no longer cursed as to the priesthood, the revelation
might just as logically be interpreted that Mormons should "take
unto you wives" of the Ethiopians or Nigerians "that their posterity
may become white, delightsome and just,..."
For more documentation and verification of the 1831
revelation on polygamy see our book Mormonism Like Watergate?
Another matter which the new revelation allowing
blacks to hold the priesthood does not resolve is the teaching concerning
pre-existence. In the past Mormon leaders have stressed that blacks
were cursed as to the priesthood because of "unfaithfulness in the
spirit--or pre-existence" (see Mormonism--Shadow or Reality?
pp. 263-264). Should a faithful Mormon continue to believe that
blacks were unrighteous in a pre-existent state? The Mormon leaders
are silent concerning this matter. It will be especially interesting
to see how Church leaders explain this matter to blacks in the Church.
Monroe Fleming, far instance, was converted to the Church over 25
years ago. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained to him why
he could not hold the priesthood, but since the new "revelation"
he is being encouraged to be ordained. Now, was Mr. Fleming really
unfaithful in a pre-existent state or did the Church leaders just
make a mistake in the past when they said he could not hold the
priesthood? Church leaders should explain if they believe black
babies born after the new "revelation" were inferior spirits in
a pre-existent state. Now that they have abandoned the idea that
blacks cannot hold the priesthood, they should explain if they are
giving up some of their teachings on the pre-existence. They should
also explain whether they are repudiating the Book of Mormon
teaching that a dark skin is given by God as a "curse."
By giving a "revelation" on the matter without explaining
its implications, the Mormon leaders are leaving their people in
a dense doctrinal fog. They should take a lesson from the situation
that has developed since the Church gave up polygamy. Instead of
actually repudiating the doctrine, President Woodruff said he received
a revelation and issued the Manifesto which was supposed to put
a stop to the practice. The Church retained Joseph Smith's 1843
revelation on polygamy in the Doctrine and Covenants Section
132. Church leaders continued to teach that polygamy was a righteous
doctrine, but since it was against the law, it should not actually
be practiced. Because of their reluctance to come to gaps with the
real issue and repudiate the doctrine, the Mormon leaders left their
people in confused state. Many Mormons have reasoned that since
the Church teaches plural marriage will be practiced in heaven,
they should practice it on earth. Therefore, in disregard to the
Church's Manifesto, thousands of people in Utah are living in polygamy
today. The Church excommunicates those who are caught living in
the practice, but since it retains the revelation on plural marriage
in the Doctrine and Covenants, the number of dissidents continues
Now, if the Church continues to hide behind a purported
revelation on the blacks and fails to come to grips with its racist
doctrines, thousands of people are going to continue believing these
doctrines and the Church will be plagued with racism for many years
to come. In 1960, Sterling McMurrin predicted:
"...I really believe, if I don't die in the very
near future, I will live to see the time when this doctrine is
dissolved. I don't mean repudiated. The Mormon Church is like
the Catholic Church, it doesn't repudiate doctrine that at one
time or another were held to be revelation or absolute truth.
They didn't repudiate the doctrine of Polygamy. I use the word
dissolve, and I imagine by some technique they will dissolve the
doctrine on the Negro, rather than repudiate it."
Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? p. 287
Dr. McMurrin's prediction seems to be coming true.
The Mormon Church now appears to be in the process of trying to
dissolve the doctrine through new "revelation." This is the very
thing which we warned against in our book Mormonism--Shadow or
Reality? p. 293:
"The honest solution to the problem facing the
Mormon leaders is not to have another 'revelation', but to repudiate
the doctrine. They should admit that Joseph Smith, Brigham Young
and other Mormon leaders taught doctrines that cannot be accepted
as coming from God.
"The reader will remember that Brigham Young,
the second President of the Mormon Church, said that slavery was
a 'DIVINE INSTITUTION,' and that the Civil War could not free
the slaves (See Journal of Discourses, Vol.10, p. 250);
however, the Civil War did free the slaves, and Brigham Young
"Brigham Young said that if a person who belongs
to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the Negro the penalty
is 'DEATH ON THE SPOT'. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10,
page 110) Obviously, the Mormons do not believe this statement
by Brigham Young or they would be putting many people to death.
Brigham Young called this the 'LAW OF GOD' and said that 'THIS
WILL ALWAYS BE SO.' Now, if Brigham Young was wrong about this,
what assurance have we that he was right when he said that the
Negro could not hold the Priesthood? Why should we disregard this
teaching, which Brigham Young called the 'LAW OF GOD,' and yet
hold to his teaching that the Negro can not have the Priesthood?"
Instead of continuing to cling to Joseph Smith's
Book of Abraham, the Mormon leaders should come to grips with the
matter and acknowledge that it is a false translation of the Egyptian
Book of Breathings. To come forth with a new "revelation" only compounds
One thing that should be noted about the new "revelation"
is that the Church has failed to produce a copy of it. All
we have is a statement by the First Presidency that says a revelation
was received. Joseph Smith printed many of his revelations in the
Doctrine and Covenant and other Church publications, and
the Apostle Orson Pratt mocked the Catholics for not adding revelations
to the canon:
"...strange to say, none of their revelations
are permitted to enter the sacred canon... Here, indeed, is a
strange inconsistency! Even the Catholic church herself, evidently
places no confidence in the popes and bishops,...if she did, she
would have canonized their revelations along with the rest of
the revelations of the New Testament....We can but conclude that
it is all an imposition..,"
Orson Pratt's Works, "The Bible Alone An Insufficient Guide,"
It appears that the Mormon Church does not intend
to canonize or even make public the new revelation on the blacks.
The Salt Lake Tribune for June 13, 1978 reported:
"Kimball refused to discuss the revelation that
changed the church's 148-year-old policy against ordination of
blacks, saying it was 'a personal thing.'...
"Kimball said the revelation came at this tine
because conditions and and people have changed.
"'It's a different world than it was 20 or 25
years ago. The world is ready for it,' he said."
We seriously doubt that President Kimball will put
forth a written revelation on the bestowal of priesthood on blacks.
We doubt, in fact, that any such document exists. What probably
happened was that the leaders of the Church finally realized that
they could no longer retain the anti-black doctrine without doing
irreparable damage to the Church. Under these circumstances they
were impressed with the fact that this doctrine had to be changed
and this impression was referred to as a revelation from God. In
a letter to the Editor of the Salt Lake Tribune, June 24,
1978 Eugene Wagner observed:
"...was this change of doctrine really a revelation
from the Lord, or did the church leaders act on their own? Why
don't they publish that revelation and let the Lord speak in his
own words? All we saw was a statement of the First Presidency,
and that is not how a revelation looks.
"When God speaks the revelation starts with the
words: 'Thus sayeth the Lord...' It seems when the Lord decides
to change a doctrine of such great importance he will talk himself
to the people of his church. If such a revelation cannot be presented
to the members it is obvious that the first presidency acted on
its own, most likely under fear of public pressure to avoid problems
of serious consequences and to maintain peace and popularity with
In Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? p. 281,
we included an account of an interview Michael Marquardt had with
a member at the Genesis Group. According to Mr. Marquardt's notes,
"June 24, 1971 was the first time that the First
Presidency and Twelve have prayed in this Temple about whether
Black members of the Church should hold the Priesthood. The First
Presidency and Twelve were not in agreement on the
question. But they did agree that the Genesis Group should be
We will probably never know whether the First Presidency
and Twelve reached a unanimous decision in June, 1978, but it is
logical to believe that the majority had came to believe that the
doctrine had to be changed.
Be this as it may, we feel that it is wrong to attribute
such a revelation to God. It makes it appear that God has been a
real racist for thousands of years, and that the Mormon leaders
by "pleading long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful
brethren, spending many hours in the upper room of the Temple" have
finally persuaded God to give blacks the priesthood. The truth of
the matter, however, is that "God is no respecter of persons: But
in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness,
is accepted with him." (Acts 10: 34-35)
It is the Mormon leaders who have kept blacks under
a curse. They have continually and stubbornly opposed the advancement
of black people, threatening and excommunicating those who differed
with them on the matter. Finally, when their backs are to the wall,
the Mormon leaders are forced to change their position. We would
think that at this time they would fall down before God and acknowledge
their wrong doing, but instead they proudly stand up as heroes and
proclaim that because of their "pleading long and earnestly" on
behalf of the blacks, God has changed the doctrine and decided to
give them the priesthood.
To claim a "revelation" at this point seems almost
like mockery to God. Less than four years ago Apostle McConkie was
claiming that it was unspiritual people who were "deeply concerned
about the Church's stand on who can or who cannot receive the priesthood
and think it is time for a new revelation..." Now members of the
First Presidency admit that they have been "pleading long and earnestly"
concerning the question.
Dr. Hugh Nibley once claimed that "of all churches
in the world" only the Mormon Church "has not found it necessary
to readjust any part of its doctrine in the last hundred years."
(No Ma'am, That's Not History, page 46) The new revelation
on the blacks is just another evidence of how Dr. Nibley has misrepresented
Sterling McMurrin made some interesting observations
ten years ago:
"He expressed belief the time would come when
'the Mormon people for the most part will have to abandon their
crude superstitions about Negroes because their children forced
"But he said there will be those who will remember
'with sadness and moral embarrassment the day when their Church
could have done great things to hasten the achievement, but failed.'"
Ogden Standard-Examiner, June 22, 1968
Is The Priesthood Lost?
The reader will remember that President Brigham
Young once said that if the blacks were given all the blessings
of the Gospel, the priesthood would be taken from the Church and
it would go to destruction. Our research leads us to believe that
the Mormon Church never had any priesthood to lose. Even David Whitmer,
one of the Three Witnesses to the Book of Mormon, seems to have
had some real reservations about the "priesthood":
"This matter of 'priesthood,' since the days of
Sydney Rigdon, has been the great hobby and stumbling-block of
the Latter Day Saints....Authority is the word we used for the
first two years in the church--until Sydney Rigdon's days in Ohio.
This matter of the two orders of priesthood in the Church of Christ,
and lineal priesthood of the old law being in the church, all
originated in the mind of Sydney Rigdon."
An Address To All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Missouri,
1887, p. 64
The question might well be asked, "If what David
Whitmer says is true, how can Section 27 and other sections of the
Doctrine and Covenants be accounted for?" Actually, these
revelations have been changed from the way they originally read
when they were first printed. David Whitmer charged:
"You have changed the revelations from the way
they were first given...to support the error of high priests.
You have changed the revelations to support the error of a President
of the high priesthood, high counselors, etc." (Ibid.,
In Mormonism--Shadow or Reality? Pp. 19, 22-25,
we show through photographs of the first printing of Joseph Smith's
revelations that Whitmer was right when he charged that serious
changes were made concerning priesthood, and on pages 177-182 we
demonstrate that the Mormon idea of "priesthood" is unscriptural.
The Bible teaches that the old order of priesthood was fulfilled
and that Christ Himself is our High Priest. It indicates that Jesus
has "an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save
them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever
liveth to make intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:24-25)
The Bible also indicates that all Christians (not
just men) are a "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9) In 1 Peter 2:5
we read that "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual
house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable
to God by Jesus Christ." The priesthood of the Old Testament has
been fulfilled and now "as many as received him, to them gave he
power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his
name (John 1:12)
Impact of Revelation
Some people believe that the Mormon Church is not
sincere in opening the priesthood to blacks. We feel however, that
even though the Mormon leaders have failed to face some important
issues, they have made a major concession which will gradually weaken
racism throughout the Church.
We feel that one of the important reasons the Church
decided to confer the priesthood on blacks was that the anti-black
doctrine was hurting missionary work. With the change in this policy,
we anticipate that the Church will make many more converts. On the
other hand, many members of the Church have become disillusioned
because of the Church's handling of the racial issue, and the new
"revelation" has tended to confirm in their minds that the Lord
had nothing to do with the whole matter. For those Christians working
with Mormons, this may really prove to be an opening for effective
For those who are interested in the subject of the
anti-black doctrine we highly recommend our book Mormonism--Shadow
or Reality? In this book we have devoted over 100 pages to the
doctrine and Joseph Smith's false translation of the Book of Abraham.
In addition to this, on pages 582-85 we have printed the "Excerpts
From The Weekly Council Meetings Of The Quorum Of The Twelve Apostles,
Dealing With The Rights Of Negroes In The Church, 1849-1940." This
important document throws a great deal of light on why the Church
was finally forced to have a new "revelation."