The Mormon Faith & Black Folks
Question #3

Q. Why didn’t the Church ordain black men to the Priesthood before 1978?

A. Because the Church considered people of Hamitic lineage (of whatever skin color, but the great majority of Hamites are black-skinned) to be the descendants of Cain, and inheritors of the ‘Curse of Cain’; which was a denial of the Priesthood in mortality.

The LDS Church taught that people of Hamitic lineage (descent/bloodline) were not entitled to the Priesthood because they were the descendants of Cain (the firstborn son of Adam), and that Cain and his posterity had been cursed (“denied the blessing” of the Priesthood) until the descendants of Abel (whom Cain had killed) had first received it.  This was known as the Curse of Cain.  It has also been referred to as the Curse of Egyptus , Pharaoh’s Curse and, most commonly,  the Priesthood ban.

Cohens: Priests

In ancient times men offered sacrifices to God; signs of their willingness to obey His Will. In return for their offerings, God would send them blessings; which meant both material and spiritual rewards. The men who offered these sacrifices to God (either in the form of animals being killed or fruit or grain harvests being burned on an altar) were called cohens; which means priests. They were men who held the Kehunah; which means Priesthood. Adam was the first cohen, or priest, recorded in the Bible. He offered sacrifices to God on stone altars. God gave Adam the Kehunah; His authority to offer sacrifices, and to receive blessings in return. This was God’s way of teaching human beings to depend upon Him, and to look to Him for blessings.

*Cain and Abel

The Bible tells us that Adam and Eve had at least three sons; Cain, Abel, and Seth. Cain was the firstborn of Adam and Eve. He and Abel were also cohens (priests). They also offered sacrifices to the LORD God. Cain offered the grain and fruits; because he was farmer. Abel offered goats and sheep; because he was a herder. The LORD expected His priests to offer the best of the fruits of the ground, and the best of the goats and sheep; to teach mankind that they can only receive blessings from Him if they are willing to sacrifice the best of what they have.

The LORD revealed to Joseph Smith that the rights of the Priesthood were connected with the powers of Heaven, and that such powers cannot be handled except on the principles of righteousness. Should a man holding the Priesthood try to use it to cover his sins, gratify his pride, or vain ambition, or to use it to exercise unrighteous control or dominion or compulsion upon other souls, then the powers of Heaven withdraw, and the Spirit of the LORD is grieved, and it is “Amen” [Farewell] to the priesthood or authority of that man (Doctrine & Covenants sec. 121:36-7).

The Bible says that both Cain and Abel offered sacrifices, but that while Abel’s sacrifice (offering) was accepted. However, Cain’s offering was not accepted, but the LORD rejected it. In response to this Cain became enraged, and killed his brother Abel; thereby preventing Abel from having descendants on earth. The Bible goes on to say that the LORD punished Cain for this by placing a mark upon him, and making him a wanderer upon the earth. The LORD further cursed Cain by making the ground not yield fruit  for him as it had done before. Cain said that the punishment was too much to bear, and that anyone finding him would kill him. In response, the LORD placed a mark upon Cain; as a protection from being killed by avengers of Abel.

The Bible says that Adam and Eve had another son, named Seth. The descendants of Seth became known as Sethites. The descendants of Cain became known as the Cainites. According to Genesis, in the Bible, the Cainites became the first among the descendants of Adam and Eve to build cities, to work in metal, and to use musical instruments.

*The Sons of God and The Daughters of Men

The Bible says that the “sons of God” saw that “ the daughters of men” were beautiful, and married them. The descendants of this union became so wicked that the LORD decided to destroy them in a flood. He spared only Noah and his wife and their three sons (Shem, Japheth, and Ham) and their wives.

The Bible says that Noah was “perfect in his generations”. This means his genealogy. Noah was not the result of a union between “the sons of God” and “the daughters of men”; as apparently most people were in his day.

According to The Book of Moses, which is in The Pearl of Great Price, one of the four Standard Works of Scripture in the LDS Church, the Cainite lineage did not perish in the flood. It says that Ham, the son of Noah, married a Cainite woman named Egyptus; thus preserving the lineage of Cain through the flood. The Book of Abraham, also in The Pearl of Great Price, says that some of the descendants of Ham and Egyptus settled in Africa, and founded the lands of Egypt, Phut, and Cush.. One of the sons of Ham and Egyptus was Canaan; whose descendants settled in what is now called Palestine (or Israel), and they became known as the Canaanites.

*The Ancient Egyptians

The ancient Egyptians were thus Hamites; the descendants of Ham. The Book of Abraham also says that the Hamites were “blessed with wisdom”, but “cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood” (Abraham 1:26).

In other words, the LORD blessed and cursed them. Because they were children of Ham, a man who ‘walked with God’ (was righteous) they were blessed with wisdom. But because they were the descendants of Egyptus, they were cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood. A curse means a denial of a blessing. The Priesthood was a blessing, and to deny it to a certain lineage (bloodline) is a curse.

Without the Priesthood, the Hamites could not make offerings to Jehovah; as could the other descendants of Noah: the Japhethites (descendants of Japheth) and the Semite (descendants of Shem). At best, all the Egyptians (Hamites) could do was to create an imitation priesthood; which had no real divine authority.

Over thousands of years the Egyptians grew in wisdom and power. They formed a great empire, and controlled most of the civilized world at that time. They were a Mulatto people; half black and half white.  Some Egyptians looked more black than white. Others looked more white than black. They were half white because they were the descendants of Ham; the son of Noah: a Sethite. They were half black because they were also the descendants of Egyptus; the wife of Ham, a Cainite.

Some Egyptians moved south and intermarried with the pure native Africans there, and the descendants of these marriages became known as the Nubians.

*The Nubians

The Nubians themselves thus were Hamites; because they had Egyptian blood in them. But they were Negroes, and resembled other Negroes. They had black or dark brown skin. They had thick lips, broad noses, and kinky hair.

The Nubians built more pyramids  than the Egyptians; although the Egyptian pyramids today are more famous because they are larger. The Nubians had a great civilization long before any of the civilizations of Europe began. They had an alphabet and many writings, advanced architecture,  mathematics, medicine, agriculture, sophisticated art, and advanced methods of warfare long before any white  Europeans did; thousands of years before. They too had a great empire, and great cities; like Meroe. Sometimes they were conquered by the Egyptians. Sometime they conquered the Egyptians. Sometimes they were two separate empires. African-American author John L. Johnson writes:

The black sons of Ham and their offspring are characterized throughout the Bible and their nations are the first to be mentioned therein (Gen. 2:10-13). Within the past 150 years, archaeological and anthropological research in the ruins of Ethiopia, Egypt, and Canaan (Palestine), has produced overwhelming evidence that the children of Ham had developed nations and civilizations as old as man’s history.  Professor C. Seignobos in his book, History of Ancient Civilization, states that religion and government as well as the skills of sculpture, writing, painting, weaving cloths, working metals, and cultivating the soil were developed by the Negroes while the Jews, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Hindus were still in a savage state.” (The Black Biblical Heritage, p.13)

Over thousands of years Semites and Indo-Europeans (Japhethites) began to enter Egypt; sometimes as invaders, and other times merely as immigrants. When the Greek and Persian empires conquered Egypt, many of these peoples settled there. These white-skinned peoples became known as the Copts. The later Arab invaders conquered Egypt, and they became the majority of Egyptians. Today, in Egypt, there are three peoples:

Arabs (light-brown skinned)

Copts (white-skinned)

Nubians (black-skinned)

Only the Nubians are the descendants of the ancient Egyptians. Some Arabs have intermarried with Nubians because the Nubians converted to Islam, but the Orthodox Christian Copts have not.

Some of the ancient Egyptians migrated to other parts of North Africa, and intermarried with the white-skinned peoples who lived there at that time. These people became known as the Berbers. They are a Hamitic people. Their language is Hamitic. They have white skin, but their hair and eyes are black. Their hair is long and curly.

Many of the original Egyptians were forced out of Egypt into Nubia, and forced the Nubians out of Nubia into West Africa, Central Africa, and, over many thousands of years, East and South Africa. The Nubians intermarried with native black African tribes; thus making those tribes also blood-related to the ancient Egyptians, and of the Hamitic linage. The black tribes of North and West Africa belong to the Hamitic family of languages.                                                                                         

The black Africans of today are, at least in part, the descendants of the ancient Nubians; who themselves were part ancient Egyptian. The ancient Egyptians were the descendants of Ham and Egyptus; the Cainite woman whom Ham had married before the great flood.

The Hebrews (descendants of Shem, son of Noah) called the land of Egypt by the name of Mizraim; the son (or grandson) of Ham. The Egyptians called Egypt KMT (Khemet or Kemet); which means “land of Khem”. The Hamitic word for Ham (Kham in Hebrew) is Khem. The name “Egypt” is from the Greek Aegeptos; which itself is probably from the Egyptian words—one of which from Ptah (an Egyptian deity). The name “Khemet” means the “Black Land” or “The Land of Ham”.

*The Origin of African-Americans and Afro-Brazilians

African-Americans and Afro-Brazilians were brought to the Americas as slaves. They were West Africans: Yorubans, Akans, Shonas, Dogons, Ibo, Mande, and so forth. All of these tribes had the blood of the ancient Nubians in them, and the ancient Nubians had the blood of the ancient Egyptians in them, and the ancient Egyptians were the descendants of Ham the son of Noah.

African-American scholar Molefi Kete Asante writes:

“Ancient Kemet stands to Yoruba, Akan, Shona, and African Americans like the step pyramid of Zoser stands in relation to all other pyramids, first and prototypical.” (The Afrocentic Idea, p.97)

In an African-American publication called Black Heritage Unveiled, the author writes:

“The Hausa language is in the Afro-Asiatic language family, and is the most widely spoken language in West Africa. The language is closely linked with ancient Egypt.

***

The Yoruba claim an Egyptian origin.” (Black Heritage Unveiled, pp.165,166)

In the General History of Africa II, in the chapter “Origin of the ancient Egyptians” we read:

“The Egyptians had only one term to designate themselves=KMT=the Negroes (literally).

***

‘Kmt’ [Khemet] comes from the adjective=km=black; it therefore means stricktly Negroes or at very least black men.” (General History, p.41)

All of this means that people of black African descent are Hamites (the descendants of Ham) and also Cainites; because of Ham’s wife Egyptus. The offspring of Ham and Egyptus were the Egyptians (as well as the Canaanites). The Egyptians intermarried with native Africans, and produced the Nubians. But the Nubians, or most of them, eventually left southern Egypt and Nubia. African-American scholar Chancellor Williams, in his book The Destruction of Black Civilization, writes that the gold and agricultural treasures of ancient Egypt drew Caucasian peoples to it like a magnet, and they intermingled to produce a Mulatto race. With the gradual increase of Caucasian immigrants, the original black-skinned Nubian race became a minority in their own land. William writes:

“As elsewhere on the continent, they had the choice of remaining in their homeland and being reduced to the status of servants and slaves; or if they were well-to-do members of the professional classes, architects, engineers, or skilled craftsmen, they could remain, become integrated in [white] Asian society, be classed as ‘white’, and even hold high positions; or, finally, they could reject integration into Asian culture and migrate southwards. This the great majority did. It is therefore not without significance that even today a number of African tribes four thousand miles south from Egypt still claim it as their ancestral homeland.” (Black Civilization, p.64)

Over thousands of years, the Nubians migrated into Sub-Saharan African and intermarried with African tribes there; thus spreading the Hamitic lineage throughout that continent. White men in ships came to Africa and took back millions of black folks, in ships, to the Americas as slaves.  Some white Masters in America and Brazil raped or seduced many of these black women, who then had Mulatto children. These children married other black men and women; thus making all African-American and Afro-Brazilians part African and part European.

Here is how the Sethite and Cainite lineages (bloodlines) joined together and spread:

Sethite lineage (bloodline):

Adam–Seth–Sethites–Noah–Ham

Cainite lineage (bloodline):

Adam–Cain–Cainites–Egyptus

Ham + Egyptus = Egyptians

Egyptians + Africans = Nubians

Nubians + Africans= Negroes

Negroes + white American or white Brazilian masters= African-Americans and Afro-Brazilians

African-Americans and Afro-Brasilians are thus both Sethites and Cainites. They are also Adamites and Hamites. They are the descendants of the Ancient Egyptians as well as black African tribes. They have also Japhethite (European) blood. Black Africans are also the descendants of the Ancient Egyptians, but they have no Japhethite (Indo-European) lineage.

Ham marries Egyptus before the Great Flood. Afterwards Ham and Egyptus have sons and daughters; including Canaan and Mizraim, and Cush and Phut. The Canaanites settle in Canaan (now called Palestine or Israel). Mizraimites settled in what is called Egypt. Cushites settled   in what is now called Sudan. Phut settles in what is now Somalia. The Semites (descendants of Shem) settled  in the Middle East. The Japhethites (descendants of Japheth) settle in Europe, Armenia, Persia, and India. They become known as the Aryans.

Africans are Adamites,  Sethites, Cainites, and Hamites; as well as the descendants of Pre-Adamic African tribes.

Negroes, or people of black African descent, are as much Sethites as they are Cainites; because they are the descendants of Ham (a Sethite) and Egyptus (a Cainite).

African-Americans and Afro-Brasilians are Adamites,  Sethites, Cainites, Hamites, and Japhethites (Aryans); as well as the descendants of Pre-Adamic African and Pre-Adamic  European tribes.

All black Africans have the blood of the ancient Egyptians flowing in their veins; because the ancient Nubians intermingled with native African tribes many thousands of years ago, and this bloodline (lineage) was past down to more and more tribes until all of black Africa became the descendants of the ancient Egyptians; who were the sons of Ham.

*The Descendants of Abel

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church or the LDS Church, has taught and believed for almost all of its history that Hamitic people, of whatever race or skin-color they are, could not hold the Priesthood of God until the descendants of Abel held it first. This was based upon The Book of Abraham (a revelation of Joseph Smith), and the teachings of the Presidents of the Church from Brigham Young onward. There has been only 4 or 5 exceptions to this rule.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always had black Members. There have been black Mormons since 1832; two years after the Church was organized.

*Blessed With Wisdom

No, the Church has never taught that black people are inferior or that white people are superior. The Book of Mormon itself condemns those who believe they are superior because of their white skin (Jacob 3:8-9).

Mormon scriptures reveal that the Cainites, a black-skinned people, were in fact the first among the descendants of Adam to build cities, work in metal, and to make and use musical instruments. American anthropologist Alexander F. Chamberlain writes:

“The question of the origin of the art of iron-smelting is now being treated in detail by ethnologists, and while general agreement has not been reached, the mass of evidence so far disclosed has convinced eminent men of science like Boas and Von Luschan that the smelting of iron was first discovered by African Negroes, from whom, by way of Egypt and Asia Minor, this art made its way into Europe and the rest of the Old World.” (Introduction to African Civilization, p.63)

LDS scriptures also reveal that the ancestors of the black African peoples were the Ancient Egyptians; a very intelligent and advanced people who were “blessed with wisdom” but “cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood.” (Abraham 1:26).

The LDS Church has taught that the Ancient Egyptians and their lineal descendants (the Nubian, Black African, or Negro peoples) were blessed with wisdom by God, but cursed as pertaining to the Hebrew Priesthood. The LDS Church has also taught that the ancestors of many white Mormons, the Ephraimites, were also cursed; first to become the slaves of the Assyrians, and later to be scattered and lost as a people among the pagan tribes of Northern Europe. But they were never cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood.

Before 1978, with only 4 or 5 exceptions, people of black African (i.e. Ancient Egyptian) descent could not hold the Priesthood in the LDS Church; whatever their skin-color. This applied mainly to black Africans; since they are the descendants of the Ancient Egyptians. Mormon Apostle

Orson Whitney wrote in the late 19th Century:

“The descendants of Ham became eminent, wealthy, wise and powerful in Egypt, ‘the cradle of civilization’; reaping ‘the blessings of the earth’ and ‘the blessings of wisdom,’ richly realizing the heaven-inspired promises made to their forebears. They have prospered also in other African countries. But in Europe, in America, and in other lands, they were long held in slavery.” (Cowley & Whitney on Doctrine, p. 315)

James M. Webb, an elder and lecturer in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, wrote in 1910:

"Ham, the father of the black man, located in Africa. It was his homestead, so to speak.

***

Cush, Mizraim, Phut, and Canaan were the first sons of Ham (Genesis 10th chapter, 6th verse), and these four sons included Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, were the first to start work on the problem of civilization; in a word they were the pioneers and the very pillars of civilized governments. Cush located in South Egypt on the River Nile. He became the father of the Ethiopians as well as the father of the Cushites through Nimrod who located on the Southern part of the Euphrates River.

***

Mizraim located on the upper part of the River Nile, and he became the father of the Egyptians.

***

Canaan became the father of the Canaanites (Genesis 10:16-19). According to the Bible the above is the exact location of the first sons of Ham, and the question which naturally follows is, ‘Was civilization born in their land and given birth by Ham’s first offspring?’ It is conceded by John Clark Ridpath and a few other writers on ancient history that the Egyptians were the fathers of civilization, according to the chronology of Menetho, an Egyptian priest.” (The Black Man—The Father of Civilization, pp.21-22,23)

The 19th century French traveler Count Volney , in his travels in Egypt, noticed the natives were either Negroes or Mulattoes, and noticed that the old statues of Egyptian kings showed negroid traits. He wrote in his Travels Through Syria and Egypt:

“How are we astonished¼when we reflect that to the race of Negroes, at present our slaves, and the objects of our contempt, we owe our arts and sciences.” (Liberator, April 1970, p.9)

He also wrote:

“The ancient Egyptians were real Negroes of the same species as the other present natives of Africa,¼.to the race of Negroes¼the object of our extreme contempt, we owe our arts, sciences, and even our very speech.” (From Superman to Man, pp.18-19)

The American anthropoligist Joseph McCabe writes:

“The accident of the predominance of the white men in modern times should not give us supercilious ideas about color, or persuade us to listen to superficial theories about the innate superiority of the white-skinned man. Four thousand years ago, when civilization was already one or two thousand years old, white men were just a bunch of semi-savages on the outskirts of the civilized world. If there had been anthropologists in Crete, Egypt, and Babylonia, they would have pronounced the white race obviously inferior, and might have discoursed learnedly on the superior germ-plasm or glands of colored folks.” (Life Among the Many Peoples of the Earth, p.26)

The British anthropologist Lord Raglan wrote:

“Civilization is often thought of as association with the possession of a white skin, and it is forgotten that the founders of civilization were brown-skinned; many of whom were at a fairly high stage of civilization at a time when the whites were completely barbarous.” (The Rationalist Annual, 1946, p.40)

*Hamites Alone Banned: Not All Blacks

This Priesthood ban did not apply to other black-skinned peoples; such as Melanesians, Negritoes, Dravidians, and Aborigines; because they are not Hamites (the descendants of the Ancient Egyptians and Nubians).  This Priesthood ban also applied to white-skinned people who had Nubian (i.e. “Negro”) ancestry; since they too were still the descendants of the Ancient Egyptians (and thus of Ham and Egyptus and ultimately of Cain, the son of Adam). It was always expected that Hamites would someday be granted the Priesthood. Various opinions were advocated as to when that might be. Most Members of the Church believed it would be at the beginning, during, or at the end of the Millennium; when it was expected that Abel would be resurrected, have children, and his children be given the Priesthood.

For many years throughout the history of the Church, its Presidents, who Latter-day Saints believe are living Prophets of God, have asked the LORD to grant men of Hamitic lineage the Priesthood. Some Presidents of the Church did not want to wait for Abel’s resurrection, or the Millennium, but wanted the Priesthood ban to be removed. The answer from the LORD has always been “Not yet”; until June 8th, 1978. On that day, the LORD spoke to President Spencer W. Kimball, President of the LDS Church, in the Holy of Holies in the Salt Lake Temple, and told him that the time had come to grant all worthy male Members of the Church of Hamitic lineage the Holy Priesthood of God.

Since that day in June, 1978, males of black African lineage can hold the Priesthood and achieve all the Temple Ordinances and all the offices and rights and privileges any other Priesthood-holder or officer in the Church can receive. In that year, President Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th President of the Church, received a Revelation from the LORD which removed the Curse of Cain from his posterity, and granted the Priesthood to all worthy males regardless of lineage.


Please feel free to e-mail Darrick Evenson

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