Thursday, 19 December 2013

Official Statment: Blacks and the Priesthood

This week the LDS Mormon church based out of Utah in the United States made a statement concerning blacks and the Priesthood and tried in vain it would seem to re-write their past history of hatred and bigotry. With this in mind we thought that it would be important to let the world know that not all Mormons are like this and that the Mormon faith established by the Prophet Joseph Smith did not take the decision to exclude blacks but rather it was a decision based on the actions of one Brigham Young and the church led by him.

Many people have asked the question ‘Why did the Mormon church not ordain black men to the Priesthood’ to answer that question we have to look at the original church under the Prophet Joseph Smith. It is an established fact the Prophet Joseph Smith never denied membership in to the church based on race or colour and indeed several black men were made members and also ordained to the Priesthood during Joseph Smiths lifetime.

The first known black member of the early church was ‘Black Pete’, who joined the church in Kirtland Ohio. At least two African Americas, Elijah Abel in 1836 and Walker Lewis in 1844 were ordained to the priesthood during Joseph Smiths lifetime. Two decedents of Elijah Abel were also ordained Elders, and two other black men, Samuel Chambers and Edward Leggroan were ordained Deacons. Early black members in the church were also allowed admittance in to the temple at Kirtland Ohio. It is here at Kirtland that Elijah Abel received the ordinance and ritual of washing and anointing.

By 1839 there were about a dozen black members in the church. Later at Nauvoo it was reported that at least twenty two black members were registered including free slaves. Indeed we see that from their very own LDS archives that in 1836 the rules established by the church for governing assemblies in the Kirtland temple include attendees who were ‘bond or free, black or white’ (History of the church, Vol.2, Ch.26, p.368.

So it is an established fact that there have been black members of the Mormon faith and holders of the Priesthood since 1832. Elijah Abel was a personal friend of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and helped rescue him from mobs in Missouri bent on taking the life of the Prophet. Elijah Abel however died in the Salt Lake Valley out of favour with the church due to his being black. So what do we know? Joseph did ordain black men, but not black slaves.

Brigham young however was no Joseph Smith and in 1852 widened that ban to all black men free or bond and he did so using a much disputed set of scriptures known as the pearl of great price used and printed for the first time in 1852, and used Abraham 1:26 to justify his ban. Brigham young then initiated the Priesthood ban excluding all people of Hamitic lineage from the Priesthood and higher ordinances of the temple all this was done in 1852. The reason he gave was that ‘Negroes’ were the descendants of Cain, and Cain killed Abel, it would be against the justice of God to extend the Priesthood to the descendants of Cain. This seems very strange that God would allow one Prophet to ordain black men and then tell another not too, is God not the same yesterday today and forever? Surely if God knew it was wrong he would have instructed Joseph to stop it. The fact is it had nothing to do with God and more to do with hatred and bigotry on the part of Brigham Young.

The LDS priesthood ban was rescinded but never repudiated on June 8th 1978 by President Spencer W Kimble, just in time for a temple to be built and dedicated in Brazil a country with a very dense black population.  It would seem to some that the 1978 proclamations has never been answered until now, it certainly has never been discussed by the LDS Church in a manner that would invite discussion. Now we see that they claim that Brigham was acting as a man and he made an error based upon the thinking of the day, but it did not stop the Lord working through him as a Prophet. We find this very interesting. What are they saying? That the Lord works through evil men and men who make constant mistakes? This also is against the scriptures and also against Gods actions when a Prophet rejects God he is removed from his Position. Would it not be better to say that since Joseph Smith we the LDS church have not had a Prophet chosen by God but rather chosen by the will of the people a point that Brigham was keen to proclaim many times in his life “I do not profess to be a Prophet. I never called myself so; but I actually believe I am, because people are all the time telling me that I am.” Journal of Discourses, 5:177

 In conclusion The Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ would never allow a man's colour or race to be a marker as to his worthiness. This is self evident in the early church under the Prophet Joseph Smith. The Lord is no respecter of persons; as long as a man is worthy morally then the joys of service are open to him even if he is black. For us to assume otherwise is a sin. Brother Joseph understood this and so do we, all are welcome in the Latter Day Church of Jesus Christ no matter their skin colour or race.

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