We have finished with making men into gods with their own planet. In the latest of our 21 Questions we move to the other end of the Mormon social scale and ask what Mormonism teaches about African-Americans and Native Americans. As before, we will look at the questions (Q) and answers (A) with comments (C) and quotes (Qu.)
Q: What specifically does the Mormon Church say about African-Americans and Native Americans?
A: Mormons believe that all mankind are sons and daughters of God and should be loved and respected as such. The blessings of the gospel are available to all.
Qu. “Though he was a rebel and an associate of Lucifer in pre-existence, and though he was a liar from the beginning whose name was Perdition, Cain managed to attain the privilege of mortal birth... he came out in open rebellion, fought God, worshipped Lucifer, and slew Abel...
As a result of his rebellion, Cain was cursed with a dark skin; he became the father of the Negroes, and those spirits who were not worthy to receive the priesthood are born through his lineage.” (Mormon Doctrine, Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie, 1958, p.102)
Qu. “And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham's wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God” (Mormon prophet John Taylor, Journal of Discourse, vol.22, p.304)
C. In summary then, Mormonism traditionally teaches and believes that in the pre-existence black people were the least valiant. Because of their unfaithfulness they were assigned to be born to an inferior race through the lineage of Cain. Their black skin is the Mark of Cain, an emblem of eternal darkness and a representation of the devil upon the earth. Being inferior, they were not entitled to the full blessings of the gospel, denied the priesthood, and barred from the temple.
The earliest example of this doctrine in the Mormon Church is to be found in the Book of Mormon story of the Nephites and the Lamanites, forebears of Native Americans according to traditional Mormon teaching. The Lamanites, having rebelled, were cursed with a dark skin.
“... as they were white, and exceeding fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety...” (BOM, 2 Nephi 5:21-24)
C. On the basis of this teaching only white people were allowed full participation in the Mormon church until social pressure made the church change its policy in 1978. The teaching illustrated above is not an aberration, as some Mormons claim, but is substantial and extensive and still integral to Mormonism, enshrined in Mormon scripture. In spite of what Mormonism does in relation to black people today, it says something quite different in its official documents and historical statements and has never renounced or repented of this teaching.