Mormons and Equal Racial Treatment

The following page on Race and the Priesthood appeared recently on the website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As I’ve said, my superstitious side is devout Mormon, so I was very happy to read the Church’s full espousal of racial equality.

One of my favorite quotes from the page:

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.

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” and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him.”

I’ll restate the Valerian view that we are adamantly opposed to discrimination of any kind, including any type of caste system or racial discrimination. Here are probably the top two statements that I’m happiest are now clearly disavowed:

In a broad general sense, caste systems have their 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.
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1958 edition, pages 107‑108

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 there from, but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing, is based on his eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of Spiritual valiance of those concerned in their first estate.
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, pp. 527‑528

I believe McConkie intended well with his statements. It’s unfortunate that they were based on fabricated doctrine that was not only false, but also contrary to the very best liberal traditions of Judeo-Christianity (equality before God, justice for the underprivileged).

This is probably as close as the Church will come to an open apology. It is easy to be critical of past transgressions, but we should also celebrate when a wrong has been righted.