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US: Phew! That’s a relief!

December 21, 2013

The Mormon Church decides that black folks are OK. Sort of.

For over 150 years of their 180-year existence, members of the church with African ancestry have been barred from serving in the pastorate, and despite a revelation in 1978 lifting the ban, the issue of race and priesthood have never been directly addressed, that is, until now.

In an article released this month by the LDS from their headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah, church leaders and historians are cited in what is meant to be an explicit disapproval of past racially restrictive policies. Yet, an actual read of the article is disappointing.

What should be a mixture of apology and hope for black members reads more like a quasi-historical blame game, dumping some of it on Brigham Young, most of it on America’s mores during the early 19th century, yet none of it on the racism inherent in the doctrine. At no point does the LDS’s statement break canon or actually admit fault.

They even suggest that Brigham Young actually wanted black members to be part of the church by referring to the quote, “blacks would ‘have [all] the privilege and more’ of other members in the future” from a speech in 1852, which also includes gems like, “Cain and his posterity must wear the mark which God put upon them; and his white friends may wash the race of Cain with fuller’s soap every day; they cannot wash away Gods mark” (Page 2, “To The Saints”).

VICE United States


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