Mormon Church Denounces Folk Beliefs About Blacks and Priesthood
The LDS Church strongly denounced racism Wednesday and dismissed folk beliefs about why the Utah-based faith banned blacks from its all-male priesthood until 1978.
The statements, published on the church’s newsroom website, were triggered by comments made by Brigham Young University religion professor Randy Bott in Tuesday’s Washington Post.
Bott pointed to Mormon scriptures that indicate descendants of the biblical Cain — who killed his brother Abel and was “cursed” by God — were black and subsequently barred from the priesthood. He also noted that past LDS leaders suggested blacks were less valiant in the sphere known in Mormon theology as the “premortal existence.”
The longtime religion professor at LDS Church-owned BYU further argued that blacks were not ready for the priesthood, the Post wrote, “like a young child prematurely asking for the keys to her father’s car.”
Bott’s comments, the church said Wednesday, “absolutely do not represent the teachings and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
It went on to say that “the church’s position is clear — we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in his eyes and in the church. We do not tolerate racism in any form.”
As to the question of the now-discarded ban on blacks in the priesthood, the church said: “It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began but what is clear is that it ended decades ago.”
Terry Ball, BYU’s dean of religious education, echoed that sentiment, saying that the remarks attributed to Bott “do not reflect the teachings in the classroom at Brigham Young University.”