The Mormon Faith & Black Folks
Question #13

Q. The Mormon Church teaches that black people are cursed! Isn’t that racist?

A. No. The term “racist” has a very specific meaning. It means a person who believes that one race (especially their own) is superior to another race or other races; usually superior in intelligence. The LDS Church has never taught that!


The LDS Church teaches that God blesses and curses all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples; according to how they adhere to or ignore His Laws, and how they accept or reject His Prophets. The Chosen People (Israelites) were both cursed and blessed; based upon this principle. The same is true for the descendants of Ham.

The LDS Church teaches that people of Hamitic descent, no matter what their skin color, have inherited the divine curses and blessings of their ancestors (the Ancient Egyptians and Nubians). Wallace Turner, the New York Times journalist, and a non-Mormon, wrote in 1966:

“The most serious problem facing the LDS Church today is the Negro question....A man can have skin as black as a moonless night–and he can be a full-fledged member of the Mormon Priesthood. But he can have blue eyes, white skin and blond curly hair and have an African Negro in his ancestry and find himself rejected by the Mormons as an applicant for the Priesthood....” (The Mormon Establishment, pp.218-19)

A black-skinned Dravidian (from India) or a black-skinned Fijian (from Fiji), or a black-skinned Aborigine (from Australia) or a black-skinned Negrito from the Philipines were never the descendants of Ham, and could always hold the Priesthood. But a white-skinned Berber or Bedouin, or a man with blond hair and blue eyes, if he is Hamitic (if he had a Hamitic ancestor  within 4 generations), could not hold the Priesthood. This is not a matter of race or color, but in matter  of lineage (ancestry or bloodline).

Mormon Institute teacher John Lund wrote in 1969:

“Therefore, no one who is a descendant of Cain, regardless of whether he is black, brown, red, yellow, or white is allowed to hold the Priesthood.


It is possible to have a light-colored skin and still carry the curse of the Priesthood. (The Church and the Negro, pp.101-2,106)

On September 24th, 1972, the Salt Lake Tribune reported President Harold B. Lee (11th President of the Church) say the following:

“President Lee said skin color is not what keeps the Negro from the priesthood. It is strictly a matter of lineage and involves only African Negroes. In comparison, he noted, dark or black islanders, such as Fijians, Tongans, Samoans, or Maoris, are all permitted full rights to the priesthood.” (Neither White nor Black, p.128)

But the LDS Church teaches that other lineages have been cursed  (and blessed) as well. This  applies to the Jews as  well; and also to the Ephraimites (whom the majority of white Mormons claim descent). All these lineages  (bloodlines) have been both cursed and blessed, but in different ways.

Of all the tribes of Israel, only one could hold the Priesthood under the Law of Moses. That tribe was the Tribe of Levi (the Levites). Only they could be Priests. Only they could officiate in the Temple. Popular Mormon writer and storyteller Cleon Skousen explains why the Levites were chosen to be His Priests anciently:

“The Lord’s preferred way is to have a kingdom of priests not a tribe of priests. The Lord would like to have every worthy person enjoy priesthood privileges, but when a whole nation rejects the responsibilities of Priesthood service as Israel had done, the Lord’s only alternative was to build a firm core of responsible leadership in whatever group seemed most likely to carry the load. In a time of crisis it had met the test. This occurred when Moses had stood at the gates of the camp right after the ugly incident of worshipping the golden calf and had cried out, ‘Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me.’ The scripture says: ‘And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him.’ Not another single tribe stepped forward. Now the Levites received their reward for that act of courageous commitment.” (The Third Thousand Years, p.367)

Brother Skousen was referring to when Moses came down from visiting the LORD on Mount Sinai. He had brought the Israelites out of Egypt. They were no longer slaves of the Egyptians (who were Hamites), but their life in the desert was more difficult than in Egypt, and they didn’t know what was going to become of them. An Israelite name Korah was a leader of a rebellion against Moses. They forced Aaron, Moses’ older brother, to make a golden calf; hoping the Egyptians would believe it was the God who had performed the miracles. They stripped naked and danced and probably performed fertility rituals they had learned from the Egyptians. The LORD told Moses what was happening. Moses came down and broke the original tablets which held the commandments. He told the Israelites they had sinned against the LORD.  He asked them whose side they were on: the LORD’s side or the rebels of Korah. This broke the Israelites into three camps:

The Rebels of Korah

The Levites

The Other Tribes

The Levites immediately and without hesitation came to the side of Moses (who was also a Levite). They and the other Israelites destroyed Korah and his rebels.

The Apostle Orson Pratt had this incident in mind when he formulated the “Less Valiant” theory in 1854. He speculated that in the War in Heaven, before this earth was created, there were three camps as well:

The Rebels of Lucifer

The Valiant Spirits who sided with Jehovah

The Less Valiant Spirits who sided with Jehovah

He reasoned that it was the less valiant spirits who were later born in to the lineage of Cain and

Ham; as a punishment for their being ‘less valiant’ in the War in Heaven. Yet, not even one verse of scripture backs this up. There is nothing in the Bible or The Book of Mormon or The Doctrine & Covenants or The Pearl of Great Price that speaks of three camps in the War of Heaven. All scripture speaks of only two; those that followed Lucifer and those that followed Jehovah. The spirits which were born into the lineage of Cain and Ham all followed Jehovah.

The spirits of all black folks followed Jesus!

*Divine Vs. Human Discrimination

Was the LORD discriminating against the other nations and races by choosing one nation (Israel) to be His Chosen People? Was He discriminating against the other Tribes of Israel by only granting one of them, the Levites, the Priesthood?

Yes! He has that right! He chose Abraham (a Syrian) because of his faithfulness. He made covenants (contracts) with him that through his posterity (descendants) certain divine privileges would come. He made certain covenants with Isaac, the son of Abraham, and with Jacob (Israel), the son of Isaac. Because the Levites were more valiant in the war against the rebels of Korah (who sought to overthrow Moses), they alone were given the divine privilege of holding the Priesthood of God; from the days of Moses until the time of Jesus (a period of at least 1300 years). Only the Levites, of all the Tribes of Israel, of all the Semitic tribes, of all the nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples on earth, could hold the Priesthood of God, and officiate in His Temple.

Other nations had their own temples, and their own priesthoods. But none of these were temples of Jehovah. None of them were His priesthoods. He had only one. None of them were divinely authorized by Him. The Samaritans had their own temple and their own priesthood, but it was not recognized by the LORD. It was not his priesthood, but a imitation. It has not true power or authority from Him.

The LORD chose Abraham over other men; because of his lineage, but mostly because of his faithfulness.  He chose Isaac, and Jacob over other men. He chose Israel over other peoples. He chose Levi over other tribes. This is what discrimination is; to choose one thing over others. The LORD has that right; just as He has the right to destroy entire nations if He sees fit. He has that right. We don’t.

He chose one tribe, and one tribe only, to hold His Priesthood: the Levites. Yet, God warned them that if they offered their sacrifices in a state of unworthiness, He would curse them:

“AND now, O ye Priests, this commandment is for you.2 If ye will not hear, and if you will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.” (Malachi 2:1-2)

The LDS Church teaches and has taught that God alternatively curses and blesses all nations; according to how they adhere to or reject the Law of God and His Prophets.

Brigham Young, the 2nd President of the Church, once said:

“Negroes should be treated like human beings, and not worse than dumb brutes. For their abuse of that race, the whites shall be cursed, unless they repent.” (J.D. 10:111)

Only God knows if indeed the whites have repented of their mistreatment of black people, and only He knows if a curse shall be imposed upon white people for this sin and what it shall be; if indeed whites have not repented sufficiently in order to revoke the curse of God upon them.

Some feel that the astronomical rise in skin cancer (which affects only white-skinned people) may be God’s retribution upon them for their self-pride and exploitation of darker races. But, of course, this too is only supposition, and certainly not LDS doctrine.

The fact remains is that in mortality the children often inherit the “sins of the fathers”. We see this all the time; with crack-babies, to children of abusive fathers, to entire nations who suffer for the mistakes of their patriarchs. In the eternities, the son does not pay for the sins of the father, but in mortality, they often do.

“Racism” is a term which applies to the theory that one race is naturally superior to another or others. Although a few white Mormons (like most white Americans for their day) held the view that Caucasians are superior to blacks, the LDS Church has never taught this. Rather, the Church has always taught against this theory.

Elder John K. Carmack (Seventy) 1993:

“We do not believe that any nation, race, or culture is a lesser breed or inferior in God’s eyes. Those who believe in or teach such doctrine have no authority from either the Lord or his authorized servants.” (Tolerance: Principles, Practices, Obstacles, Limits, p.3)

Elder Alexander Morrison (Seventy), 1998:

“There is no place for racism in the Church. We abhor it.” (Salt Lake Tribune, June 6, 1998)

God has blessed and cursed His own people, Israel. He blesses and curses all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples, according to how they keep or ignore His laws, and how they receive or reject His prophets. There are no exceptions to this rule.

Please feel free to e-mail Darrick Evenson

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