Mormonism and Race

Mormonism And Race

From the mid-1800s until 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) had a policy which prevented most men of black African descent from being ordained to the church's lay priesthood. This resulted in these members being unable to participate in some temple ordinances. Though the church had an open membership policy for all races, relatively few black people who joined the church retained active membership, despite reassurance that the ban would one day be lifted when "all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the priesthood and the keys thereof".

Historically, Mormon attitudes about race were generally close to or more progressive than the national average. Accordingly, before the Civil rights movement, the LDS policy went largely unnoticed and unchallenged. Beginning in the 1960s, however, the church was criticized by civil rights advocates and religious groups, and in 1969 several church leaders voted to rescind the policy, but the vote was not unanimous so the policy stood. In 1978, church leaders led by Spencer W. Kimball declared they had received a revelation instructing them to reverse the racial restriction policy. The change seems to have been prompted at least in part by problems facing mixed race converts in Brazil. The church opposes racism in any form and today has no racial policy.

In 1997, there were approximately 500,000 black members of the LDS Church, accounting for about 5% of the total membership; most black members live in Africa, Brazil and the Caribbean.

Read more about Mormonism And RaceBefore 1847, Racial Policy Under Brigham Young, Racial Restriction Policy, 1880–1950, 1951–1977, Racial Policy Ends in 1978, Interracial Marriages, 1978 To Present, Black Membership, See Also

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