Dear Seeker of Truth,
THE MORMON CHURCH
& the Curse of Cain Legacy
Formerly known as "THE BLACK MORMON HOMEPAGE"
"The Mormon Church"=The nickname for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, founded by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1830, and headquartered in Salt Lake City Utah, with a membership of over 13 million worldwide.
"The Curse of Cain Legacy"=the history of Church teaching that Negroes are the children of Cain, uunder the Curse of Cain, bearing the Mark of Cain, less valiant in the War in Heaven, and the banning all Negroes (and even whites with Negro blood) from the Mormon priesthood and temples for 130 years (1848-1978)
In 1993, I created "The Black Mormon Homepage" at this site. I did so for the following reasons:
1. To create a website for Black Mormons (I am not black). None existed at that time.
2. To counter the belief in the African-American community that "Mormons are racist"; a belief that I knew was NOT true (at least not for 98% of white Mormons).
3. To teach white Mormons about black Mormon history, a subject that 99.99.99% of them knew absolutely nothing about.
The first edition of "Black Mormon Hompage" consisted of 3 printed pages. It has been added to and edited a countless number of times, and has been viewed at least 80,000 times.
I feel that I cannot keep calling this website "The Black Mormon Homepage" for the following reasons:
1. Black Mormons now have their own "homepage" and it is called www.ldsgenesisgroup.org
2. I am no longer Mormon (resigned in 1996), and I became a Baha'i (baw-high). If you want to know what a Baha'i is, and why I became a Baha'i, please read Call Out To Zion!
3. The Church has, since 1996, been trying to cover-up its Curse of Cain legacy via the use of lies, denials, cover-ups, half-truths, equivocation, and eternal put-offs.
Therefore, I have re-named this website "The Mormon Church & the Curse of Cain Legacy". This website is not pro-Mormon, and it is not anti-Mormon. It simply "tells the truth" about the Mormon Church and the Curse of Cain legacy.
This is the most informative and "fair and balanced" article on the Internet about the Mormon Church and black folks. It is about 54 printed pages. There is no copyright! You are welcome to print it out, make copies, even publish it as a book or article for free or profit!
Whoever you are, I think you'll be fascinated by black Mormon history! Enjoy it.
Darrick Evenson (2009)
THE MORMON CHURCH & THE CURSE OF CAIN LEGACY
THERE are about 300,000 to 400,000 black Mormons in the world today; about 250,000 in Africa, and the rest scattered throughout North America, Brazil, and the Caribean. There have been black Mormons since 1832, two years after the "Mormon Church" was founded.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; commonly known simply as "The Mormon Church",is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, has about 13 million members, and has a large missionary corps around the world; young men in white shirts and ties, and black name-tags.
From 1832 when the Church was founded, until 1848, there were no restrictions upon Black Mormons, and black Mormons worshipped on equal status with white Mormons in the Church. But from 1848 until June 8th, 1978, Black Mormons were "banned" from the priesthood (which all male Mormons over 12 hold), and from worshipping in Mormon Temples. This was called "The Priesthood-ban". During those 130 years (1848 to 1978) Mormon Church leaders taught, as official Church doctrine, that Negroes were the "cursed" children of Cain, that the Mark of Cain was a black skin, and that Negroes were "less valiant" in the War in Heaven (a battle between Jesus and Lucifer before this planet was created in which all human spirits were involved).
On June 8th, 1978, the 130 year "priesthood-ban" was lifted, and, since then, Black Mormons have had all the rights and opportunities in the Church as all others. Since June 8th, 1978, black Mormon membership has skyrocketed from less than a thousands to over 400,000.
*The Prophet Joseph Smith
The Mormon Faith was founded by Joseph Smith, in 1830. It is based upon his Revelations. Mormons consider him to be a Prophet of God. He claims to have translated into English "The Book of Mormon"; an ancient book written by ancient Jewish prophets who lived in America from 600 B.C. to about 450 A.D.
What does the Book of Mormon teach about race?
The Book of Mormon says that "he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile." (2 Nephi 26:33).
The Book of Doctrine and Covenants (containing the Revelations of Joseph Smith) contains a prophecy by Joseph Smith made in 1832 about the a war between the North and South, and that the slaves would be set free and marshalled for war by this conflict (D&C section 87).
Joseph Smith ordained free black men to the Priesthood, and wanted blacks freed, educated, and given equal rights (Compilation on the Negro in Mormonism, p.40). He invited people "of every color" to join the Church and worship in the Nauvoo Temple (Times & Seasons, 12 Oct. 1840).
Joseph Smith Jr. (1806-1844)
In the 1830's, Joseph Smith was pro-slavery, believing that Negros were the "sons of Ham" and that Ham cursed Canaan and his descendants (Negroes) with bondage. This was the general belief among Catholics and Protestants and Arabs and Jews of that day. Indeed, in the days of Joseph Smith, only the Quakers and some "Freethinkers" and some Spiritualists believed that Negro slavery was inherently evil. Joseph Smith once referred to blacks in the South who wanted to fight for their freedom as "rebellious niggers in the slaves states." (Millennial Star 22:602).
However, by the early 1840s, Joseph Smith was to change his mind completely regarding black slavery.
In a complete reversal of his previous beliefs, by 1840 Joseph Smith became a great advocate for the rights of black people. He was one of the first white men to call for the end to black slavery, and he called for the education and granting of equal rights of black people in America, back in 1843. Some historians believe his pro-black teachings influenced Abraham Lincoln, who lived not far from Joseph Smith in the 1840s.
Joseph Smith appointed Elijah Abel, his adopted brother and a black Mormon, to be a Seventy Apostle; a position Abel retained throghout his life.
Elijah Abel (1810-1882): adopted brother of Joseph
Smith and Mormon Seventy Apostle.
Another early Black Mormon Elder was Walker Lewis of Massachusetts:
Walker Lewis was one of the founders of the American Abolishionist Society which sought to end slavery in America.
From 1844 until 1845, Joseph T. Ball, an African-American, was the Presiding Elder of the Church in Boston, Massachusetts.
Joseph T. Ball
Joseph Smith was killed in June, 1844, by an anti-Mormon mob in Carthage, Illinois. After that time the great majority of Mormons followed Brigham Young, the senior Apostle at that time, to what is now Utah.
In 1848, Brigham Young first preached the "Curse of Cain Doctrine"; that Negroes are the "children of Cain" and under "the Curse of Cain"; which is a denial of the priesthood in mortal life. Young taught that the "mark of Cain" was a black skin, flat nose, and kinky hair. Other Mormon Presidents and Apostles taught the same thing, until June 8th, 1978.
From 1848, until June 8th, 1978, blacks could become Mormons (if they wished), but black men were "banned" from the Mormon priesthood, and all blacks (men and women) were "banned" from the Higher Ordinances of Mormon Temples; which are the most important rites that the Mormon Church offers. This was known as "the Priesthood-Ban".
On June 8th, 1978, the Church ended the 130-year old "Priesthood-Ban" and the number of black Mormons have skyrocketed since then.
There are about 400,000 black and mulatto Mormons in the world today, about 250,000 of them in Africa.
Mormon "Ward" in Ghana
Since June 8th, 1978, black Mormons have had full equality in the Church. In the following article, we'll try to explain the reasons WHY black people (and even whites with Negro ancestry) were "banned" from the Mormon priesthood and Mormon temples for 130 years.
*The Origin of the Curse of Cain Legacy
In the book of Genesis, in the Bible, we read the following:9 ∂ And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brotherís keeper?Most Bible scholars today believe that this is a reference to the Sleb of the Arabian penninsula. The Sleb had a tribal "mark" (an "X") on their forehead, they call themselves QAYIN ("Cain"--workers in metal). They are are tribe of travelling (wandering) blacksmiths. It is said that the Slebs do not farm; because the ground does not yield fruit for them. When one Sleb is killed, 7 others take revenge on his murderer. The Sleb are Bedouins. They are Arabs, and not black Africans.
10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brotherís blood crieth unto me from the ground.
11 And now art thou acursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brotherís blood from thy hand;
12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.
13 And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear.
14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.
15 And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.
16 ∂ And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden. (Genesis chapter 3)
Photo of 7 sleb men and one woman (c. 1920)
It is almost certain that Genesis 3:9-16 is a reference to the Sleb (Qayin) of Arabia.
Before the 15th century, most Europeans knew nothing of other races such as the black Africans or the Asians. In the 1400s the Portuguese began to explore the coasts of Africa, and to bring back black Africans as slaves. They called the blacks "Negroes" (Portuguese: "blacks"). Naturally, intellectuals tried to "fit" the black Africans into their understanding of the Bible. They believed that the flood of Noah killed all mankind, and that all mankind descended from one of the sons of Noah:
*Shem (Semites--Jews and Arabs)
*Ham (black Africans)
They still were not aware of the Asians or the native Americans or the Aboriginals or any of the other races of mankind.
The Semites and Japhethites resembled each other for the most part. But WHY did "the natives of Guinea" (i.e. Africa) appear to be so different? Some explanation was needed.
A Catholic physician, intellectual, and mystic named Paracelsus (1493-1541) speculated the following:
1) God turned Cain, son of Adam and Eve from a white man into the first "Negro".
2) The Negro "Cainites" intermarried with the white Sethites, which God forbid. God became angry and sent the flood.
3) Ham, a son of Noah, violated the commandment of the LORD and married a Cainite woman, thus bringing the Negroes through the flood.
4) Canaan settled in Africa, and was cursed to be a servant of servants, and all the Negroes fall under the Curse of Canaan.
The Negro/Cainite doctrine of Paracelsus never became "official" Catholic doctrine, but some Catholics, and later some Protestants, continued to believe it as the "explanation" for the black African race. Nobody else offered any alternative explanation of the origin of the black African race until Charles Darwin in the 19th century. Most white Europeans reasoned that since Adam and Eve were White (of course), why was there a black race? The Negro/Cainite doctrine seemed to "reasonably" explain the origin of the Negro race.
Many of the early English Puritans and Pilgrims who settled in New England believed in the Negro/Cainite doctrine, which caused Phillis Wheatley, a former slave and the first African-American poetess, to write in 1753 this poem:'Twas mercy brought me from my pagan land,
Taught my beknighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Savior too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their color is a diabolic dye."
Remember Christians; Negroes, black as Cain,
May be refin'd, and join th' angelic train.
Phillis Wheatley (1753)
Some of the Puritans formed the first "Baptist" churches, and naturally some of these Baptist churches held-on to the old Negro/Cainite doctrine. Two Baptist lay-preachers from New England, Orson and Parley Pratt, would join the Campbellites in Ohio under Sidney Rigdon. Later, they would become Apostles in a newly formed "Church of Christ"; later to become known as "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints".
Joseph Smith did believe that Negroes were "the sons of Cain" but he never denied blacks the priesthood or the Temple rites.
The Pratt brothers, Orson and Parley, would, after the death of Joseph Smith, formulate a "Curse of Cain Doctrine" wherein they preached that Negroes could not hold the Priesthood because they were the children of Cain. They were the children of Ham and his Cainite wife. They believed that Negroes were of the lineage (bloodline) of Canaan (son of Ham and his Cainite wife), and were thus "Canaanites". And, according to Abraham 1:26 (in the Book of Abraham--a translation by Joseph Smith of some Egyptian papyrus that had fallen into his hands), they were "cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood" (Abraham 1:26).
Joseph Smith was killed in June 1844. As senior Apostle, Brigham Young took control of the Church, and led the Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, to the Great Salt Lake Valley, where the Mormons built cities and communities.
Brigham Young (c. 1850)
As leader of the Church, Brigham Young allowed the ordination of black Mormons. Elijah Abel, a black Mormon Seventy (a position just under Apostle) received his "Endowments" in the Nauvoo Mormon Temple, when Brigham Young led the Church, in 1846.
Brigham Young allowed the ordination to the priesthood of at least three black men: Walker Lewis, William McCary, and Enoch Abel (son of Elijah Abel).
History reveals that Brigham Young DID NOT ACCEPT the Curse of Cain Doctrine at first, but did after the "McCary Incident" of 1847 in which a half-Negro half-Native American Mormon Elder seduced a number of white Mormon women; claiming he was a "Lamanite Prophet" and that he was Adam reincarnated, and telling each female she was Eve reincarnated. This shocked and enraged Brigham Young, who then started teaching the Curse of Cain Doctrine.
In February, 1848, Brigham Young preached, for the first time, that Negroes were "the children of Cain" and "cursed". By "cursed" he meant:
1. They were Canaanites and were to be servants of the descendants of Shem and Japheth (Whites and Semites) until the curse was removed by the LORD.
2. They were banned from the Mormon priesthood and Mormon temples until the curse was removed by the LORD.
3. They were the children of Cain, and Cain was the first Negro; the black skin was the "mark" of Cain.
On January 6th, 1848, he declared:"The Lord said I will not kill Cain, but I will put a mark upon him and it is seen in the face of every Negro on earth. And it is the degree of God that that mark shall remain upon the seed of Cain and the Curse until all the seed of Abel should be redeemed and Cain will not hold the priesthood until all the seed of Abel are redeemed. Any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot hold the Priesthood and if no other Prophet spake it before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ." (Journal of Wilford Woodruff 4:97)From 1848 until 1978 (130 years) black Mormons could not partake of the Higher Ordinances of Mormon Temples (Endowments and Sealings) nor could black Mormon men be ordained to any office in the priesthood (there were only two exceptions to this rule, the son and grandson of Elijah Abel); which every single Mormon male is supposed to hold after the age of 12.
The Negro/Cainite "folklore" first invented by the Catholic mystic Paracelsus in the 16th century, became official Mormon Church doctrine once it was accepted and preached by Brigham Young and other Mormon Presidents and Apostles during General Conference, and in letters by the First Presidency; signed by all three Members of that quorum.
Q. What is "official" Mormon Church doctrine?
A. Whatever the President of the Church "teaches" at any particular time in General Conference, or in letters from the First Presidency.
The "Curse of Cain Doctrine" was preached by Brigham Young, and other Church Presidents, in General Conference, for 130 years (1848-1978). It was called "a doctrine of the Church" in letters written by the First Presidency, and signed by all three members of that quorum. You simply cannot get any more "official" than that!
The Mormon Priesthood is NOT for "ministers only". Every Mormon male must hold the Priesthood in order to get to the highest glory in Heaven (the Celestial Glory of the Celestial Kingdom), and every Mormon woman must be "sealed" to a Mormon man who hold the Priesthood in order for both of them to become gods and goddesses in the Afterlife.
Negroes (black people of African descent) could always become "Mormons". They could always be baptized into the Church, and attend Church meetings, but, from 1848 to 1978, they were "banned" from Mormon Temples and from the Priesthood; which every Mormon male over the age of 12 is supposed to hold.
Every Mormon male at age 12 is ordained a Deacon. At 14 he becomes a Priest. At 18 or 19 he becomes an Elder, and is expected to serve a two-year full-time mission for the Church away from home. Mormon women do not hold any office in the Priesthood, but belong to the "Relief Society".
Mormons believe that they may become Gods and Goddesses in the Afterlife, but ONLY if they hold the Priesthood (if males), and only IF they are "sealed" in a Mormon Temple by a Mormon high priest called a "Sealer". Otherwise, they will become "servants" in Heaven; serving Gods and Goddesses but not becoming either.
To "ban" Negroes from the Priesthood and Temples meant to prohibit them from the opportunity to become Gods and Goddesses in the afterlife, and from the hope of becoming Gods and Goddesses. Mormons believe that all Gods are married to Goddesses, and only faithful Mormons "endowed" and "sealed" in a Mormon Temple may become a God or Goddess in the Afterlife. And, to be "sealed" and "endowed" in the Temple, a Mormon male must hold the Priesthood, and a Mormon female must be married to a Mormon male who holds the Priesthood.
The Curse of Cain Doctrine and the Priesthood-ban Policy are collectively known today as The Curse of Cain Legacy.
Salt Lake City Mormon Temple
Mormon Temples are not "houses of worship" like in other churches or religions. Mormon Temples are places where Higher Ordinances are performed, such as the Endowment (Masonic-like ceremonies that teach Mormons secret "signs and tokens" which allow them to by-pass certain Angelic-Sentinels and enter the Presence of God the Father after death), and Sealings; where Mormons parents are "sealed" to their children and Mormon couples are "sealed" to each other so they may continue as a family unit in the eternities.
The Prophet Joseph Smith never banned Negroes from the Priesthood or Temples. He preached that Negroes should be freed, educated, and given equal rights. He invited them to worship with other Mormons in the Nauvoo Mormon Temple once it was completed. He was the first American Presidential candidate (running on the "Mormon Reform Party" ticket in 1843) to call for blacks to be freed. Some think that his views were later adopted by Abraham Lincoln, who was a young Illinois lawyer when Joseph Smith ran for President (out of Illinois) in 1843.
But, Joseph Smith's views about Negroes were not shared by all of his followers.
*The Origin of the Less Valiant Doctrine
One of Joseph Smith's apostles, named Parley P. Pratt, believed that Negroes were the children of Cain and Ham; basing his view on a verse in the Book of Abraham which said that the blood of the Canaanites were "blessed with wisdom" but "cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood" (Abraham 1:26, from The Book of Abraham in The Pearl of Great Price)
Joseph Smith claimed to receive "Thus Saith the LORD" Revelations; wherein Joseph Smith spoke "as the LORD", or the LORD would speak through him, and the words of Joseph Smith, while the LORD spoke through him, would be recorded by a scribe. In several of these Revelations, those "valiant in their testimony of Jesus Christ" were promised "thrones and dominions" in the Afterlife (to become Gods), while those "not valiant" were promised a "less glory" (to become angels in Heaven).
-D&C 76: 79The Revelations said:
79 These are they who are not valiant in the btestimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God.
D&C 121: 29
29 All thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
1) The "valiant" (brave/steadfast/faithful) will receives thte highest rewards in heaven.
2) The "not valiant" (cowardly/shifting/unfaithful) would "not obtain a crown" of Eternal Life.
"Eternal Life" is interpreted to mean "to become a God".
Joseph Smith taught that all human spirits existed with God before the creation of Earth. There was a "War in Heaven" where Jesus fought against Lucifer:"And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon who was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him." (Revelations 12:7)All human spirits took sides. Two-thirds of the spirits followed Jesus and Michael, and one-third followed Lucifer. As a reward for following Jesus (whose second-in-command was Michael), all human spirits would be born on Earth as human beings. But Lucifer's "hosts" would come to Earth as "demons" (evil spirits who are denied mortal bodies).
Orson Pratt then "reasoned" that just as their are "rulers" and "servants" in Heaven (Gods and Angels) who received those postions as "rewards" for valiancy or the lack-of-valiancy, there were "rulers" (whites) and "servants" (blacks) on Earth too; to they too must be receiving their "just rewards" for deeds done in a previous existence.
Orson Pratt "reasoned" that some spirits in the War in Heaven (which happened long before this Earth was made) were "less valiant" (lazy) than other spirits, and thus, as a pubishment, were born Negroes and denied the priesthood in mortality.
To the Pratt brothers, this seemed to be a good explanation why Negroes in their day suffered so much, and why they were "servants" to whites; because God was punishing them for sins committed before they were born, in the pre-Earth existence.
Orson Pratt (left) Parley P. Pratt (right)
The Pratt brothers also accepted the common Baptist belief of that time (the early 1800s) that the LORD destroyed the world via the Flood because of amalgamation; that white Sethites were intermarrying with black-skinned Cainites. The Book of Moses (another Revelation to Joseph Smith) seemed to confirm that when it said that "the seed of Cain were black" (Moses 7:22).
Joseph Smith also believed that Negroes were "the posterity of Canaan" (D.H.C. 445-6) and "the sons of Cain" (D.H.C. 4:501).
The Pratt brothers knew that The Book of Abraham (a translation by Joseph Smith of some ancient Egyptian papyrus) taught that the lineage (bloodline) of Canaan was "cursed as pertaining to the priesthood" (Abraham 1:26), but they did not know the "reason" why. So, they speculated on a "reason".
They "reasoned" thusly:
*God would NOT punish Negroes unless they had sinned, therefore...
*Negroes must have sinned before they came to Earth, therefore...
*They must have sinned in the War in Heaven before the Earth was formed, when all spirits either fought for Jesus or for Lucifer., therefore...
*Those spirits who were "less valiant" in the War in Heaven were punished by being born into the lineage of Cain/Canaan, as Negroes.
For the Pratt brothers, their new "Curse of Cain Doctrine" and "Less Valiant Doctrine" made perfect sense!
But the Pratt brothers were NOT the leaders of the Church. They were Apostles, but the Senior Apostle was Brigham Young.
At first, Brigham Young seemed to thoroughly reject BOTH of these doctrines, saying:
"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." (Journal of Discourses 10:111)Brigham Young resoundedly rejected the two new doctrines formulated by the Pratt brothers:
"The Lamanites or Indians are just as much the children of our Father and God as we are. So also are the Africans." (Journal of Discourses 11:272)
"Men will be called to Judgment for the way they have treated the Negro." (J.D. 10:250)
***The Curse of Cain Doctrine
***The Less Valiant Doctrine
In 1847, Parley P. Pratt told Brigham Young that he did not think the Negro had a "right" to the hold the Priesthood in the Church, because they were Canaanites and because Abraham 1:26 (a verse in the Book of Abraham, a book of scripture in the Mormon Church) said that Canaanites were "cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood". He told them their their blood was cursed as pertaining to the Priesthood. Brigham Young strongly objected to this, and replied:"It has nothing to do with blood. God made of one blood all the nations of the earth. We have to repent, and to repent and regain what we have lost. We have one of the best Elders an African in Lowell." (March 12, 1847, LDS Church Archives)Brigham Young was referring to Walker Lewis; a respected Black Mormon Elder living in Lowell, Massachusetts.
In other words, Brigham Young at first soundly rejected the Curse of Cain Doctrine formulated by the Pratt brothers after the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith!
However, Brigham Young's pro-Negro attitude that he inherited from the Prophet Joseph Smith, was NOT to last another year!
*The McCary Incident
In 1847, in Winter Quarters Nebraska (a Mormon town at that time) was the location where Mormons coming from the eastern United States, and from Europe, would stop and camp for the Winter. Once spring came they would load up their hand-carts and cross the Great Plains on their way to the Salt Lake Valley in what later became Utah. Tens of thousands of Mormons made this trip. In 1847, in Winter Quarters, a half-black/half-Native American Mormon Elder named William McCary seduced a number of white Mormon women, claiming he was an "Indian Prophet", and that he was Adam reincarnated, and telling each of the white Mormon women they were Eve reincarnated. He called himself "The Lamanite Prophet" (the term "Lamanite" is used by Mormons to refer to Native Americans). He was soon excommunicated. At that time "amalgamation" between the white and black races was considered by just about all white Americans (including white Mormons) as an abomination before the LORD, and the reason why the LORD destroyed the world via the Great Flood of Noah.
"The Lamanite Prophet" (1847)
William McCary was a half-black and half-Indian Mormon Elder in Winter Quarters, Nebraska.
Soon after the "McCary" affair, Brigham Young reversed himself and accepted the "Curse of Cain Doctrine" (Negroes are the children of Cain and inherit the mark of Cain) and the "Less Valiant Doctrine" (Negroes were less valiant in the War in Heaven and as punishment were born Negroes) of the Pratt brothers. All Black Mormon males were banned from the Priesthood (except for Eljah Abel and his descendants), and all Black Mormons were "banned" from Mormon Temples. This "ban" lasted until June 8th, 1978.
The "ban" on receiving the Priesthood and in receiving the Higher Ordinances (Endowments and Sealings) in Mormon Temples is known as "The Priesthood-Ban Policy". Together, the Curse of Cain Doctrine and the Priesthood-ban Policy is referred to as....
"The Curse of Cain Legacy"
The Black Mormon Pioneers of Fort Union
Even though Brigham Young now "banned" black men from the Priesthood, and banned all Negroes from Mormon Temples, a small loyal community of black Mormons continued to exist. A black Mormon named Green Flake led the Mormons into Utah; ahead of Brigham Young. Black Mormons formed a small community called "Fort Union"; about twenty miles south of Salt Lake City.
Fort Union is now located in the north-eastern portion of Midvale, Utah.
Some of these Black Mormon families prospered, like the Chambers family. Samuel Chambers was one of the wealthiest men in Utah in the 1870s. He lived on a farm in Fort Union. He was an "Acting Deacon" in his Ward. He could not hold the priesthood nor could he or his wife receive their Endowments or Sealings in the Temple.
Samuel Chambers and his wife (c. 1870)
Why did a few handful of black Mormons continue in the Church after the Curse of Cain Legacy begin in late 1848? You would have to ask them. These were very humble folk, whose egos were not bruised easily. Also, this was a time when Negroes were commonly segregated from white society, so they probably did not see anything "different" in the "Mormon" form of segregation (the priesthood/temple-ban) that they did not see in all other white churches and societies of the day.
The story of these faithful Black Mormons is retold in the film Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of the Black Mormons; a documentary now on DVD.
Elijah Abel, the "Seventy Apostle" and step-brother of the Prophet Joseph Smith, continued to hold the Priesthood, but was banned from the Temple. The son of Elijah Abel (Enoch) and his grandson (Elijah Abel II) were both ordained Elders.
Why the Abels were "exceptions" to the rule was never explained. Enoch Lovejoy Lewis, the son of Walker Lewis, was also ordained. Yet, they were also "banned" from the Temple. Whjy these few black Mormons could hold the priesthood, yet still be banned from the Temple Rites, was never explained by Brigham Young nor any other Church leader.
Over the years most black Mormons would drift away from the Church, because of the Curse of Cain Legacy, and because of the fact that the Mormon hope of Exaltation (becoming Gods) and Eternal Families (Eternal Marriage and Sealings) is completely tied-into the Mormon Temple rites of Endowments and Sealings. One such black Mormon family that drifted away from the Church later bore a son named Charles Mason, a man who later founded The Church of God in Christ; the largest black Pentecostal church in the world today.
Yet, even though most black Mormons drifted away from the Church, in one way or another, a small handful continued in it, and a small handful of "Negro" converts were made each year; all of them knowing full-well that they were banned from the priesthood and from Mormon Temples. They believed that while they were denied the Priesthood and their Temple Endowments in mortality, they would receive both in the next life.
*The Genesis Group
On June 8th, 1971, three black Mormon men (Ruffin Bridgeforth Jr., Darïus Gray, and Eugene Orr) met together to form the Genesis Group, a fellowship organization for those few black Mormons who wanted to stay active in the Church. Today, the Genesis Group has several thousan of members in North America.
They formed the Genesis Group as a "way" to try to activiate inactive black Members. Most black Mormons (the few there were) were inactive, because they could not go to the Temple and receive the "highest blessings" of being Mormon. However, a small remnant remained active, and formed "the Genesis Group". In October 1971, they met with several Apostles, who allowed the Group to form as an official "Auxiliary" of the Church.
From 1971 until 1978 the Genesis Group was often inactive, but they did suceed as a "support group" for those black Mormons who wanted to stay active in the Church. This included a mere handful of black Mormons in Utah, and a few in Oakland California.
After June 8th 1978, the Genesis Group became a "service and fellowship organization" for black Mormons in North America, and remains so today, with over a thousand members in Utah and hundreds of others throughout North America.
The Genesis Group does not operate in areas where most Mormons are black; such as black Africa.
*The 1851 Promise
Brigham Young said that the "curse of Cain" would one day be lifted from off "the lineage of Cain" (Negroes) and they (Negroes) would receive again all the "blessings" of the priesthood and temples. In 1851 he said:
"Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their father's rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the Priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we are now entitled to." (The Church and the Negro, p.89)
*The 1852 "Thus Saith the LORD" Revelation
Many Mormons are under the mistaken belief that the Priesthood-ban was not a "Revelation" but merely a "policy". This is not true. Brigham Young did claim to receive a "Revelation" authorizing the Priesthood-ban.
On February 5th, 1852, in a speech before the Joint Council of the Utah State Legislature (all of whom were Mormons in 1852), Brigham Young said:"Now then in the kingdom of God on the earth, a man who has has the Affrican blood in him cannot hold one jot nor tittle of preisthood; Why? because they are the true eternal principals the Lord Almighty has ordained, and who can help it, men cannot. the angels cannot, and all the powers of earth and hell cannot take it off, but thus saith the Eternal I AM, what I am, I take it off at my pleasure, and not one partical of power can that posterity of Cain have, until the time comes the says he will have it taken away. That time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privilege of and more."Since that time, Mormon Church leaders have always declared that the policy of banning Negroes from the temple and priesthood was "a doctrine of the Church"; without exception.
In recent years (since 1996), LDS Church Public Affairs has been telling journalists and others that the Curse of Cain Doctrine "was never a doctrine of the Church". What they are saying is not accurate. The reasons for their inaccurate statements will be examined later in this article.
*Curse of Cain Doctrine="a doctrine of the Church"
Today, many younger Mormons have never heard of the "Curse of Cain Legacy". Neither their parents nor their Seminary teachers tell them anything about it. When asked, their parents often change the subject, or say, "The blacks weren't ready for the priesthood yet" and leave it at that. Most Mormons are very embarassed about the Curse of Cain Legacy, and do not like talking about it.
Many older Mormons will concede that they were taught this as young people, but will add: "It was never a doctrine of the Church!" This is false!
The historical evidence is quite clear and unmistakable, that the Curse of Cain Doctrine was always referred to as "a doctrine of the Church" by Church leaders.
On October 8, 1947, Dr. Lowry Nelson, a Mormon professor at the University of Utah, wrote to The First Presidency and said:"The attitude of the Church in regard to the Negro makes me very sad.I do not believe God is a racist." (Mormonism and the Negro, p.28)The First Presidency wrote back and said:"We feel very sure that you are aware of the doctrines of the Church. They are either true or not true. Our testimony is that they are true. Under these circumstances we may not permit ourselves to be too much impressed by the reasonings of men, however well founded they may seem to be. We should like to say this to you in all sincerity, that you are too fine a man to permit yourself to be led off from the principles of the Gospel by worldly learning. You have too much of a potentiality for doing good and we therefore prayerfully hope that you can reorient your thinking and bring it in line with the revealed Word of God." (Mormonism and the Negro, p.28 emphases added)The First Presidency issued this letter on July 17th, 1947:"From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel [i.e. the Priesthood]." (Mormonism and the Negro, p.47 emphases added)On August 17th, 1948, the First Presidency issued it's official Statement by The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the Negro Question which said in part:"The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become Members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the Priesthood at the present time.In 1951, the First Presidency issued another statement (signed by all three Members):
President Wilford Woodruff made the following statement: "The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have."
Sometime in God's eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the Priesthood. In the meantime, those of that race who receive the testimony of the Restored Gospel may have their family ties protected and other blessings made secure, for in the justice of the Lord they will possess all the blessings to which they are entitled in the eternal plan of Salvation and Exaltation." (Mormonism and the Negro, pp.16-23 emphases added)"The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the pre-mortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality, and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the principle itself indicates that the coming to this earth and taking on mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintained their first estate...Why the Negro was denied the Priesthood from the days of Adam to our day is known. The few known facts about our pre-earth life and our entrance into mortality must be taken into account in any attempt at explanation.The 1951 statement calls the "Less Valiant Doctrine" by the term "another doctrine of the Church" and furuther states: "Why the Negro was denied the Priesthood from the days of Adam to our day is known."
Man will be punished for his own sins and not for Adam's transgression. If this is carried further, it would imply that the Negro is punished or allotted to a certain position on this earth, not because of Cain's transgression, but came to earth through the loins of Cain because of his failure to achieve other stature in the spirit world." (First Presidency Statement, 1951)
In 1954, Elder Mark E. Peterson, a Mormon apostle, said:"Think of the Negro, cursed as to the Priesthood. Are we prejudiced against him? Unjustly, sometimes we are accused of having such a prejudice. But what does the mercy of God have for him? This negro, who, in the pre-existence lived the type of life which justified the Lord in sending him to the earth in the lineage of Cain with a black skin, and possibly being born in darkest Africa if that Negro is willing when he hears the gospel to accept it, he may have many of the blessings of the gospel. In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get a celestial resurrection." (Race Problems--As They Affect the Church, August 27, 1954, address at CES convention at Brigham Young University)In April of 1963, Joseph Fielding Smith (then an apostle and later Church President) wrote the following:"According to the doctrine of the Church, the Negro, because of some condition of unfaithfulness in the spirit--or pre-existence, was not valiant and hence was not deied the mortal probation, but was denied the blessings of the Priesthood." (JFS Letter to Joseph H. Henderson, April 10, 1963)Joseph Fielding Smith was the grand-nephew of Joseph Smith Jr. He was the grandson of Hyrum Smith, the brother of Joseph Smith. Joseph Fielding Smith was the 10th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints--in the mid and late 1960s.
In October of 1963 William B. Arthur, the editor of LOOK magazine, in an interview with Joseph Fielding Smith (Mormon apostle) asked if the Church would change its doctrine on the Negro. Joseph Fielding Smith replied:"The Negro cannot achieve priesthood in the Mormon Church. No consideration is being given now to changing the doctrine of the Church to permit him to attain that status. Such a change can come about only through divine revelation, and no one can predict when a divine revelation will occur." (LOOK magazine, Oct. 22, 1963, p.79 emphases added)In 1967 a reporter for Seattle magazine asked N. Eldon Tanner (then 2nd Counselor in The First Presidency) if the Church would change its policy of not ordaining Negroes to the Priesthood. President Tanner responded:"The Church has no intention of changing its doctrine on the Negro. Throughout the history of the original Christian church, the Negro never held the Priesthood. There's really nothing we can do to change this. It's a law of God." (Seattle magazine, Dec. 1967, p.60 emphases added)In 1972 LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball declared:"A special problem exists with respect to blacks because they may not now receive the Priesthood. Some Members of the Church would justify their own un-Christian discrimination against blacks because of that rule with respect to the Priesthood, but while this restriction has been imposed by the Lord, it is not for us to add burdens upon the shoulders of our black brethren. They who have received Christ in faith though authoritative baptism are heirs to the Celestial Kingdom along with men of other races." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p.237 emphases added)Elder Bruce R. McConkie, an Apostle of the LDS Church, wrote in the 1960s his very popular book Mormon Doctrine which states:"The Blacks are denied the Priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty."
"The Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings that flow there from, but this inequality is not of man's origin, it is the Lord's doings." (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 526-527).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (c. 1970)
Author of the book Mormon Doctrine
AT NO TIME did any LDS Church President or Apostle, from Brigham Young (1848-1877) to Spencer W. Kimball (1972-1985) ever put forth that they "did not know the reason why" they were banning blacks from the priesthood and temples!
Every single time they commented on the subject of "Blacks and the Priesthood", they boldly said the "reasons" for the priesthood-and-temple-ban were as follows:
1. Because Negroes were under the Curse of Cain.
2. Because Negroes were "less valiant" in the War in Heaven: the pre-earth war between Jesus and Lucifer in which all human spirits fought on the side of Jesus, but some were "less valiant" in the war, and, as punishment, were born as Negroes (i.e. in the lineage of Cain).
3. The Curse will one-day removed by the Lord via Revelation to the Prophet (President of the Church), and Negroes will have all the blessings (priesthood/temple rites) other races now have.
REPEAT!: ___AT NO TIME___ did LDS Church leaders (Presidents and Apostles) ever preface these "reasons" with "in my opinion" or "it may be" or "it coule be" etc. Every single time they discussed the "Blacks and the Priesthood" issue, they said that the Priesthood-ban was from the LORD and not them, and that the reasons were that Negroes were under the Curse of Cain (the Curse of Cain Doctrine) and because they were "less valiant" in the War in Heaven (the Less Valiant Doctrine).
Those Mormons who now say "It was never a doctrine of the Church" are either lying (and many do) or they are sincerely misinformed.
Mormons who are over 50, and have been active in the Church all of their lives know very well about the Curse of Cain Doctrine. If they tell you, "I've never heard of that!" or "That was never a doctrine!" THEY ARE LYING TO YOU! Pure and simple. They are lying in order to avoid appearing "racist". If fact, they may NOT be "racist" (most Mormons over 50 are not racist), but they are lying if they deny knowing of the Curse of Cain Doctrine.
Mormons under the age of 30, or converts to the Church during the last 30 years, may never have heard of the Curse of Cain Doctrine or the Less Valiant Doctrine. If they tell you, "I've never heard of that!" they're probably telling you the truth.
The Curse of Cain Doctrine was an OFFICIAL doctrine of the Church for 130 years, and the Priesthood-ban Policy was an official policy of the Church for 130 years (1848-1978)
The Curse of Cain Doctrine was NOT repudiated in 1978 with the "1978 Revelation". But many Mormons believe that the Curse of Cain Doctrine/Priesthood-Ban Policy was official repudiated on April 1st, 2006, by Gordon B. Hinckley: then President of the Mormon Church.
More about that later.
*Joseph W.B. Johnson and the Independent Mormon Churches in Africa
Starting in the late 1940s, a small number of black Africans began to hear about the Mormon Church via trips to England, or in other ways. Some of these began to form their own independent "Mormon" congregations, with names like "The Mormon Church of Nigeria" and "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Inc. of Ghana" etc. A few of these would write to "The Mormon Church, Salt Lake City, America" and ask missionaries to be sent. The Church sent emissaries, and considered sending "Senior Elders" (retired white Mormon priesthood-holders) to Africa to serve as the priesthood for congregations, but this was never done.
Several large independent black "Mormon" churches were formed, such as "The Mormon Church of Nigeria" which had tens of thousands of members.
The Presiding Elders of the Mormon Church of Nigeria (1965)
In 1964, in Ghana, there lived a man named Joseph W.B. Johnson. He was raised Roman Catholic, but he was a Seeker of Truth; studying all religions. He asked God which of the religions were true. A friend of his, who was not a Mormon, then gave him a copy of The Book of Mormon he was given while studying in England. Johnson read the book, and prayed to God what he should do. He claimed the following occurred:
"One early morning about 5:30 am, while about to prepare for my daily work, I saw the heavens open and angels with trumpets singing songs of praise unto God...In the course of this I heard my name mentioned thrice, 'Johnson, Johnson, Johnson. If you will take up my work as I command you, I will bless you and your land.' Trembling and in tears I replied, 'Lord with they help I will do whatever you will command me.' From that day onward, I was constrained by that spirit to from street to street...to deliver the message which we read from The Book of Mormon...I did exactly as the Lord commanded me...and immediately our persecution started."(Mormon Identities in Transition, p.84)Without purse or script, Johnson began to preach The Book of Mormon and the Joseph Smith Story from city to city, and from town to town, to his fellow Ghananians. He suffered great persecution. The pastors and ministers of other churches saw some of their members join into "Mormon" congregations. They told the people that the Mormons were "white racists" who hated black people, and that Mormons were behind the Ku Klux Klan, and many other untruths. Many of the people told Johnson that the Mormons were "racist" and a "cult". When educated Ghananians asked, "Why do you belong to a racist Church?" he replied, "What can I do, the Lord Himself told me it was true?"
But Johnson continued to preach, and, from 1964 until he baptized into the Church in 1978, he had made about 14,000 converts; many of whom also were baptized. He lived to see the Church in Ghana prosper, with many Stakes and a Temple.
Joseph W.B. Johnson (c. 1998)
Even though Joseph W.B. Johnson had a "vision" of Jesus Christ, who spoke to him directly, Johnson is not recognized as a "prophet" by the Mormon Church. Any man or woman who even "claims" visions and revelation from the LORD other than the 15 recognized "Prophets/Seers/Revelators" (the First Presiency and Quorum of the Twelve) are usually excommunicated from the Church. Why Joseph W.B. Johnson was not exed for claiming a Divine Revelation is not at all clear.
No Mormon President or Apostle has claimed to receive any supernatural visions or "Thus saith the LORD" revelation since 1907.
Joseph W.B. Johnson is a Patriarch of a Stake (Diocese) in Ghana. Patriarchs are men who "give prophetic blessings" to Members of the Church, but they are not considered to be "prophets".
There are now over 250,000 to 300,000 black Mormons in Africa, with many Stakes and several Temples, and more on the way.
The "reason" why the Church ended the 130-year long Priesthood-ban (banning Negroes and anyone with "one drop of Negro blood from the priesthood and temples) in June of 1978 was because of internal pressures ("The Brazil Situation" for example) and external pressures; such as the U.S. government threatening to end the Church's tax-exempt status, threats against BYU sports teams on the road, etc.
Continued in Part II