Monday, August 5, 2013

Monday Mormon Myths and Truths #11

Mormons of black African descent couldn't be ordained to Priesthood offices until 1978.


From the beginning the LDS Church has always had an open membership policy for people of all races, during the leadership of Brigham Young the church adopted the position that members of black African descent could not be ordained to priesthood offices or receive the ordinances of the LDS temple.

There is no official doctrinal reason or revelation as to why this policy was implemented, and over the years many LDS leaders and members have given a speculation to try to explain, but to my knowledge and in all that I have researched, we really do not have a solid reason for why this was made a doctrinal rule.

For decades, LDS church prophets said that the day would come when the policy would be changed, but repeatedly felt the right time had not arrived.  Then in June 1978,  President Spencer W Kimball, the current prophet received revelation reversing this policy and lifting the priesthood restriction from those of black African descent.  I will never forget being a young girl when this policy was announced--President Kimball used these words

 "We have pleaded long and earnestly in behalf of these, our faithful brethren...The Lord had 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"  

as a young girl I remember those word penetrating my heart, and strengthening my testimony of revelation, this was one of the first times in my life up to that time I had really felt the Holy Ghost.
Since that time forward, worthy Mormons of all races have been given the priesthood, been ordained to priesthood offices, received the blessings of the temple, and served in local and general priesthood leadership positions within the LDS church.  We believe that the Lord works with "the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept" and based on the conditions of His people and society He gives less or more of His word.  The LDS church leadership, its members and the world have grown in knowledge, understanding and preparedness, and in 1978 the Lord gave us more of His word, which we happily and gratefully received.

It is estimated that about 5% of the LDS church-or 70,000 members are black, these congregations are mainly in Africa, Brazil, and the Caribbean.  Black membership continues to grow significantly, especially in West Africa, where two LDS temples were recently built.

I am so passionate about people understanding this part of the doctrine.  I get this question quite often "why were blacks kept from having the priesthood? and why are Mormons so racist?" my answer is always, "if you know any member of the Mormon church that is racist, it is sad and is absolutely not a part of the doctrine of the LDS church"  as far as why black were kept from receiving the priesthood, my answer is simply "we do not know why" however, they do now and that is all that really matters--there was slavery and terrible treatment of blacks in early years, but we do not know why, it just was how it was, I wish I could change it, I think many people wish that slavery never happened, what was in the past is now in past, the simple truth is our Heavenly Father loves all of his children the same, none of us more loved by him no matter what the race or religious beliefs--He loves us, all of us the same, and ever person has an opportunity to accept His love or reject it, either way He still loves you.