The Mormon Faith & Black Folks
Question #22

Q. Somebody told me that Mormons believe that there was a War in Heaven and that black people were neutral in it or they followed Lucifer. Is this true?

A. False!  Mormon Faith Scriptures teach that all men and women are literally the sons and daughters of God. We lived with Him before this earth was created; as spirits. This is what we called the “Pre-existence” or “The Pre-Earth Life”.

During this time Jehovah (who became Jesus) and Lucifer (another son of God) offering opposing plans on how the spirits (us) could come to earth, gain bodies, and return to God. Lucifer’s plan was rejected, but Jehovah’s (Jesus’) plan was accepted. Jesus’ plan became known as The Plan of Salvation. Lucifer became angry, and rebelled. He convinced one-third of the spirit-children to rebel with him. There was a War in Heaven. All spirits who took sides with Jesus were allowed to come to earth and get moral bodies. Lucifer and the rebels were denied mortal bodies, and were cast to earth as spirits only. We call them the Devil and the demons.

All spirits took sides; none were neutral. However, some Apostles of the Church have speculated that some spirits who followed Jehovah may have been  “less valiant” than others, and that “this may be” why some of them were destined to be the descendants of Cain. However, this was never official LDS doctrine, but merely speculation; a way to try to answer things which remain unanswered. This supposition is based upon the biblical fact that only the Levites (only one of the Tribes of Israel) were allowed the Priesthood in the time of Moses; because all the other tribes were “less valiant” (less faithful) than the other Israelite tribes.

Official LDS doctrine is that all the spirits that came to earth born of women followed Jesus in Heaven.

*The Less Valiant Theory

The history of the Less Valiant Theory—that the spirits of Negroes were ‘less valiant’ in the War in Heaven—begin with Orson Pratt; an early Apostle of the church. Pratt introduces his theory in a publication called The Seer. He starts out by recounting the War in Heaven, then writes:

“44. Among the two-thirds who remained, it is highly probably, that, there were many who were not valiant in the war, but whose sins were of such a nature that they would be forgiven through faith in the future sufferings of the Only Begotten of the Father, (p.54)

46. If all the two-thirds who kept their first estate were equally valiant in the war, and equally faithful, why should some of them be called and chosen in their spiritual state to hold responsible stations and offices in this world, while others are not?” (p.55)

Pratt then quotes The Book of Abraham where Abraham says that the LORD showed him in a vision that before the creation of the world some “intelligences” (i.e. “spirits”) were more noble and intelligent than others, and the LORD said “these I will make my rulers.” (Abraham .). Pratt continues:

"Now is there not reason to believe, that the nobility or greatness which many of these spirits possessed, was obtained by faithfulness to the cause of God? Was it not because of their righteousness that they appointed to be the Lord’s Rulers?” (p.55)

Pratt goes on to write that all the spirits who are born into the world are innocent, but adds:

“Some are born among the people of God and are brought up in the right way; others are born among the heathen, and are taught to worship idols. Some spirits take bodies in the lineage of the chosen seed, through whom the priesthood is transferred, others receive bodies among the African Negroes or in the lineage of Canaan whose descendants were cursed, pertaining to the priesthood. Now if all the spirits were equally faithful in their first estate in keeping the laws thereof, why are they place din such dissimilar circumstances in their second estate?” (p.56)

In other words, all spirits are born into this world innocent; just some are more innocent than others! This is like saying ‘All men are born equal, but some are born more equal than others’! This of course is absurd. If some are born more equal than others, then all are not equal. The Revelations say that all are born innocent, and if some are more innocent than others than all are not born innocent.

Orson Pratt was a child of his times. In his day white Europeans ruled the world, and almost all white men believed that Europeans were the founders of civilization; with all its arts and sciences. Pratt was unaware that it was in fact the Cainites who invented civilization. He should have been aware of this, because this is what the Bible and Mormon scriptures actually said. Yet, like many in his day (and today) he was interpreting Scripture in the ‘light’ of the Philosophies of Men; instead of judging the Philosophies of Men in the LIGHT of the Word of God.

Pratt believed by “rulers” the white Europeans were meant. But this reasoning was flawed. In ancient times Hamites ruled. The Mongols ruled white men during the dark ages. Certainly, the “rulers” that the LORD referred to were not earthly rulers. The LORD meant rulers of the Priesthood; which most white Mormons would never be. Were these white Mormons ‘less valiant’ than “rulers” in the Priesthood such as Abraham, Moses, John the Baptist, Brigham Young, and others? That would make some sense, but Pratt doesn’t consider that. He assumes all priesthood-holders are “rulers”, but this is not true. The LORD was not speaking about white Europeans rulings coloured races, as Pratt thought, but about rulers in His Kingdom; not the kingdoms of this world.

Orson Pratt’s ‘Less Valiant Theory’ (first espoused in The Seer pages 52-54 in 1852) had many holes. There was nothing in the Revelations to back it up, but assumptions and suppositions. The Roman Catholic doctrine of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary is not based upon Scriptures, but, again, assumptions and suppositions.

Orson Pratt knew that the New Testament and the  Doctrine & Covenants teaches that there are different rewards in Heaven. Jesus said:

“But others fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” Matthew 13:8)

“And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixtyfold, and some an hundred.” (Mark 4:20)

This means that there are at least three degrees of glory, or reward,  in Heaven. We are saved by the grace of God, through the blood of Jesus. But what glory, or reward, we receive in Heaven is determined by our ‘fruit’; meaning our actions in this life. Good actions is called ‘good fruit’, and bad actions are called ‘bad fruit’. The more good fruit we produce, the better our reward in Heaven. Our good fruit doesn’t save us, but what reward we shall receive is determined by them. We are saved by grace, but judged according to our works (Revelations 20:12).

The Doctrine & Covenants says that there are three degrees of glory in Heaven. These degrees of glory are sometimes called “kingdoms”. The highest degree of glory is called the Celestial Kingdom. The next highest is called the Terrestrial Kingdom. The lowest degree of glory is called the Telestial Kingdom. The Celestial glory is meant for those who are valiant in their testimony of Jesus in this life. The lesser Terrestrial glory is meant for those who “are not valiant in their testimony of Jesus” in this life and will “obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God.” (D&C 76:79). These people are honorable people, but since they are not valiant in their testimonies of Jesus they “are not gods, but are angels of God forever and ever,” and “remain separately and singly, without exaltation, in their saved condition, to all eternity.” (D&C 132: 16-17).

In other words, there are three types of people in Heaven after the Day of Judgment:

The Elect of God. Those who are saved from Hell and exalted to the highest glory. These become the Manifest Sons of God. These inherit Eternal Life. These become Adams and Eves on other planets. This is the Celestial Glory.

The Saved. Those who are saved from Hell, but who are not exalted. They were not valiant in their testimonies of Jesus. They do not inherit Eternal Life. They avoid Hell, and go to Paradise when they die. But after the Day of Judgment they do not receive the title of  “gods”. They become angels in Heaven. They become monks and nuns for all eternity. Eternal servants. This is the Terrestrial Glory.

The Unsaved. Those who are not saved from Hell. Because they rejected Jesus they must pay for their own sins in Hell. At the Day of Judgment both Death and Hell is cast into the Lake of Fire to be destroyed. They will come out of Hell, but they shall be angels in Heaven for all eternity. This is the Telestial Glory.

In 1852, Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt, then on a mission in England, took the doctrine of the three glories, and took from the ‘wisdom of man’ in his day, and combined them to form the Less Valiant Theory. He reasoned that since what glory we received in the Afterlife is dependent upon our actions (fruit) here, then the same must be true of our life before this one; in the Pre-existence (also called the Pre-Earth Life or the Pre-Mortal Life). Pratt reasoned that a Just God couldn’t punish spirits (by being born without the right to the Priesthood) without them deserving such punishment. They must have done something wrong in the Pre-Earth Life, he reasoned, in order to have been punished since birth. Since the D&C says that a Terrestrial Glory is for those who “are not valiant in their testimony of Jesus” in this life, he reasoned that those spirits who were born in the lineage of Cain in this life must have been “less valiant” in the War in Heaven.


Nowhere in the Doctrine & Covenants, nor in any of the Revelations to Joseph Smith or in his teachings, can one find this teaching! It cannot be found in the Standard Works of the Church; which includes the Bible, The Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. It simply cannot be found. And since it cannot be found, it is not a doctrine of the LDS Church; regardless of who ever thought it was. It also contradicts a verse in the D&C where it says that all spirits are “pure” before they came to this earth (D&C 93:38).

Some Mormons, including at least one Apostle (Orson Hyde) believed that Negroes were “neutral” in the War in Heaven. This too was an attempted explanation of why those spirits were denied the Priesthood in this mortal life.

On December 25, 1869, Brigham Young was once asked if “Negroes” were neutral in the War in Heaven, and he declared:

“No, the Negroes were not neutral in Heaven. All took sides. The posterity of Cain are black because he committed murder, but their spirits are pure.” (The Church and the Negro, p.83)

In a letter from President David O. McKay to Professor Sterling McMurrin, dated 3 November 1947, he declared that the Less Valiant Theory had “no scriptural basis” but was a “reasonable supposition” and “the only one that has ever given me satisfaction” since God was “a God of Justice”. (Neither Black nor White, p.94)

The Little Oxford Dictionary of Current English defines the word “supposition” as “what is supposed or assumed” and “assume, be inclined to think; take as possibility or hypothesis.” (p.563)

Unfortunately, because of the dogmatic style of writing of Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConkie, most Mormons took the theory as ‘gospel truth’ and absolute 100% official Church doctrine!

But it never ever was!

*Theories and Dogmatic Assertions not LDS Doctrine

Orson Pratt was a good man and a great Apostle of the LORD. Yet, he was also a great mathematician and philosopher. Because of his love of philosophy, sometimes he mingled the Philosophies of Men with Scripture. This got him into trouble with President Brigham Young on a number of occasions.

Brigham H. Roberts, a Seventy and editor of the six-volume History of the Church, wrote of Orson Pratt and his publication The Seer:

The Seer, by formal action of The First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles of the Church, was repudiated, and Elder Orson Pratt himself sanctioned the repudiation. There was a long article published in the Deseret News on the 23rd of August, 1865, over the signatures of The First Presidency and the Twelve setting forth that this work—The Seer—together with some other writings of Elder Pratt, were inaccurate. In the course of that document, after praising, as well as they might, the great bulk of the work of this noted apostle, they say: ‘But The Seer, the Great First Cause, the article in the Millennial Star of Oct. 15, and Nov. 1, 1850¼contain doctrine which we cannot sanction and which we felt to disown, so that the Saints who now live, and who may live hereafter, may not be misled by our silence, or be left to misinterpret it. Where these objectionable works or part of works are bound in volumes, or otherwise, they should be destroyed.’” (Defense of the Faith and the Saints 2:294 emphases added)

Orson Pratt attempted to ‘fill-in the blanks’ of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures said that all men and women pre-existed; lived in the spirit before this life (their second estate, or mode of being). We don’t remember that. Nobody knows why. Pratt attempted to answer that by saying that adult-sized spirits are crushed into infant sized bodies and that this is why our memories of the Pre-Earth Life are gone. Of course, the Scriptures nowhere say that! They don’t say why we forgot. Pratt attempted to explain why; based not upon Scripture, but upon supposition. The same is true with a number of his other theories; like the Less Valiant Theory. Other Pratt theories were:

*Jesus’ conception was a natural conception caused from a natural act by Mary and God the Father, and not a miracle (this was repudiated later in Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage—considered an official statement of the Church)

*God is not eternal, only the ‘Truth’ that exists in God. (this was repudiated by Brigham Young, and contradicts D&C 93:38)

*Latter-day Saints don’t worship God the Father, but the ‘Truth’ that resides in all Gods (repudiated by Brigham Young)

The problem is that over the years some in the Church forgot that The First Presidency had repudiated his theories. Around the turn-of-the-century Joseph Fielding Smith—the son of Joseph F. Smith (6th President of the Church) began to read The Seer and other works, and accepted them as truth. Later he wrote his own books, and presented the Less Valiant Theory not as a ‘theory’, but as a doctrine of the Chruch. Later, his writings became very popular among rank-and-file Mormons. Still later his admirer and son-in-law, Bruce R. McConkie, wrote Mormon Doctrine; which again presented the theory as fact and a doctrine of the Church. His work, Mormon Doctrine, became one of the best selling LDS books or all time, and was quoted by hundreds of thousands in LDS Sunday Schools over decades along side the Scriptures. Many believed, and still believe today, that Mormon Doctrine is as good as Scriptures, or explains Scriptures, or is official ‘Mormon doctrine’.

Mormon apologists (defenders of the faith) Alan Denison and D.L. Barksdale write:

“When Mormon Doctrine was first published, it was reviewed by Pres. Marion G. Romney, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, by assignment of President David O. McKay. His report was blunt and brutal. His report indicated that over 1067 errors were found within the 776 pages of the book, and his recommendation was that the book not be published at all. Mormon Doctrine was ultimately allowed to be republished with extensive changes and corrections, but it was never considered an authoritative source of doctrine for the Church.” (Guess Who Wants To Have You For Lunch? A Missionary Guide to Anti-Mormon Tactics & Strategies, pp.132-3)

The LDS Church has no trained professional clergy. All serve in volunteer offices; man and woman. Bishops and teachers at the ward (congregation) level have no training in official LDS doctrine or history. In decades past one would hear even the most outrageous doctrines and theories in Sunday School. In recent decades, the Church had provided Church Manuals and have instructed Sunday School teachers to adhere to them by basically reading them verbatim and asking pre-arranged questions. The only people in the Church who are trained in official LDS history and doctrine are the Seminary and Institute instructors; most of whom know that the book Mormon Doctrine is not official in any way, and is sometimes mistaken (Elder Bruce R. McConkie was an attorney by profession and had no formal training in Church history or doctrine). However, most lay Mormons don’t know this, and some of them will quote Mormon Doctrine as if the LORD himself as said it. It was Mormon Doctrine (first published in the late 1950s) that popularized the Less Valiant Theory (calling it ‘doctrine’) among Latter-day Saints; many of whom assume it is a revelation from the LORD and not what it is—a speculation of Orson Pratt.

Many Presidents and Apostles of the Church have accepted the Less Valiant Theory as a “reasonable supposition” because to believe that God would punish some spirits without cause would seem unjust for a Just God to do. But they accepted it as a supposition, nothing more.

During a taped interview on August 16th, 1978, Elder LeGrand Richards of the Quorum of the Twelve was asked if the Less Valiant Theory was a doctrine of the Church. He replied:

“Well, we don’t want to get [understand] that as a doctrine. Think of it as you will. You know, Paul said, ‘Now we see in part and we know in part; we see through a glass darkly. When that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be down away, then we will see as we are seen, and know as we are known.’ Now the Church’s attitude today is to prefer to leave it until we know. The Lord has never indicated that the black skin came because of being less faithful.” (The Segregation of Israel, p.187 emphases added)

The Less Valiant Theory is that some spirits were more valiant and some spirits were ‘less valiant’ (less faithful) in the War in Heaven, in the Pre-existence, and this is why some were born among the Covenant People (Israel), some were born in other nations (Gentiles), and some were denied the Priesthood in this life (Hamites–before 1978).

The First Presidency issued a statement about suppositions (dogmatic assertions) of various Presidents and Apostles in 1912:

“Dogmatic assertions do not take the place of revelation, and we should be satisfied with that which is accepted as doctrine, and not discuss matters that, after all disputes, are merely matters of theory.” (Young Women’s Journal 23:163)

The Less Valiant Theory is just that: a theory. It may be true, or it may be false. We don’t yet know. There are speculations and suppositions, but no revelation on this. It is a matter of conjecture alone.

There is another popular theory in the Church called the Equal Testing Theory. This theory seeks to explain why some people are born into this world with great mental or physical disadvantages while most others are not. Since mortality is a test from God upon spirits, to try us and to see if we will be faithful, and to reward us according to how we do on our test (mortal life) then why are some people born with unfair advantages over others?

In other words, if we came to this life to be tested by God, yet some have more burdens (physical or mental handicaps) than others, how is this test fair? Is God not just?

The Hindu and Gnostic answer to this question is that those born defective are paying for bad karma in past lives. This is why for centuries the poor and destitute of India were not cared for by the Hindus; since to do so would only prolong their suffering in their next incarnation. Their suffering was seen as divine retribution upon their souls, and nothing was done to alleviate it. The British was the ones that introduced welfare and caring for the poor and diseased in India.

But the Mormon explanation is different. Since life is a test, and some have greater burdens in this life than others, it means that those with greater burdens are in fact were greater and more intelligent spirits in the Pre-Existence (Pre-Earth Life). The greater the burden one has in this life means the greater and more intelligent their spirit was in the Pre-Earth Life. Thus all of us have equal tests in this life; although it would appear that some are more blessed than others, but the truth is that the more blessed we seem in this life means only we have less burdens, and less burdens in this life means we were less intelligent and noble in the Pre-Earth Life.

Jesus Himself may be alluding to this when He and His disciples came upon a man, a beggar, who was born blind. His disciples asked:

”Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? (John 9:2)

Jesus replied:

“Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:3)

Under Hinduism and Gnosticism the only answer that Jesus could have given when asked if the man born blind had sinned or his parents was: “Both”. Both had to be paying for bad karma in former lives for this to happen. Yet, Jesus said: “Neither”. He said it was to glorify God.

In Mormonism the purpose of mortal life is to overcome our burdens and prove ourselves to God so that He may exalt us so that we may add to His glory by creating other worlds and galaxies and subjects (human races)  for His Heavenly Kingdom.

Under The Equal Testing Theory, those who are born with greater burdens than others were superior Intelligences in the Pre-Earth Life. Extra burdens in mortality are God’s way of leveling-out the playing field. The theory goes: ‘The heavier one’s burden in this life the greater one’s spirit must have been in order for mortal life to be an equal test with others.’ In other words, if a lame man and a man in good health were to have a race, how could the race be fair? To make the race fair the healthy man would have to bear a greater burden.

There is an ancient mystical Jewish book called The Book of the Bee. In that book there are 9 orders of angels: the Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Lords, Powers, Rulers, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels. These 9 orders are further divided into thirds:

Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones (1/3rd of the Hosts of Heaven). The oldest, most intelligent,  and highest of the angels. The Shining Ones.  The First Hierarchy.

Lords, Powers, Rulers. (1/3rd of the Hosts of Heaven). Then next oldest and next intelligent and next highest. The Bright Ones. The Second Hierarchy.

Principalities, Archangels, Angels (1/3rd of the Hosts of Heaven). The youngest and lowest of angels. The Dim Ones.  The Third Hierarchy.

In certain Mystical Jewish writings and in the writings of the Early Church Fathers (ancient Christian writers) the Hosts of the LORD are His spirits, and there are basically 9 orders in  three hierarchies  of these Spirits (Intelligences); only the last two orders are referred to as angels.   

In LDS Church doctrine, one-third of the spirits followed Lucifer and rebelled, and were cast down to earth without the chance to incarnate as human beings; thus becoming the Devil and the demons. It may be that these were the first hierarchy; the oldest and most intelligent of the Hosts. Because of their beauty and intelligence they became prideful, and their pride caused them to fall (rebel).

This leaves two hierarchies of heavenly beings; to become incarnate as human beings. Two-thirds of the Hosts did not rebel against the LORD, but followed Him. They came to earth as human beings. All human beings were once Hosts of the LORD in heaven.

*All Spirits Innocent in the Beginning

The Doctrine & Covenants, one of the Standard Works of Scripture of the LDS Church, declares in Section 93, verse 38 that some spirits are not under condemnation when they are born:

“Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man [via the Blood of Jesus]  from the fall [of Adam], men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.” (D&C 93:38)

Please feel free to e-mail Darrick Evenson

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