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Q: What specifically does the Mormon Church say about African-Americans and Native Americans?
A: Mormons believe that all mankind are sons and daughters of God and should be loved and respected as such. The blessings of the gospel are available to all.
Qu. “Though he was a rebel and an associate of Lucifer in pre-existence, and though he was a liar from the beginning whose name was Perdition, Cain managed to attain the privilege of mortal birth... he came out in open rebellion, fought God, worshipped Lucifer, and slew Abel...
As a result of his rebellion, Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the Negroes, and those spirits who were not worthy to receive the priesthood are born through his lineage.” (Mormon Doctrine, Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie, 1958, p.102)
Qu. “And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God” (Mormon prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourse, vol.22, p.304)
C. In summary then, Mormons traditionally teach and believe that in a pre-mortal existence blacks were the least valiant. Because of their unfaithfulness they were assigned to be born to an inferior race through the lineage of Cain. Their black skin is the Mark of Cain, an emblem of eternal darkness and a representation of the devil upon the earth. Being inferior, they were not entitled to the full blessings of the gospel, denied the priesthood, and barred from the temple.
The earliest example of this doctrine in the Mormon Church is to be found in the Book of Mormon story of the Nephites and the Lamanites, forebears of Native Americans according to traditional Mormon teaching. The Lamanites, having rebelled, were cursed with a dark skin.
“... 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 them.
And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety...” (BOM, 2 Nephi 5:21-24)
C. On the basis of this teaching only white people were allowed full participation in the church until social pressure made the church change its policy in 1978. The teaching illustrated above is substantial and extensive and still integral to Mormonism, enshrined in Mormon scripture and, in spite of what Mormonism does in relation to black people with a substantial input into African nations today, it says something different in its official documents and historical statements and has never renounced or repented of this teaching. Indeed, to mark the 3oth anniversary of that 1978 decision to grant full rights to Negroes in the Church there were calls for church authorities to renounce and condemn the teaching but nothing came of it. Now Mormons are claiming that it was never an official teaching but a cultural aberration despite numerous official statements and doctrinal teachings from Mormon "scripture".
The Elusive Gold Plates
The Mormon Java Jive
Mission or Metaphor?