Race, Racism

See this page in the original 1992 publication.

Author: Flores, Cassia C.

Author: Flores, Enoc Q.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches that all humans are literally the spirit offspring of the eternal Heavenly Father (Acts 17:26, 29). The concept of race refers to populations identifiable by the frequency with which a selected number of genetically determined traits appear in that population. While all human groups belong to the same species (Homo sapiens ), they may be differentiated into various races by such traits as skin pigmentation, hair color, head shape, and nose form. A negative concept of racism implies that one set of racial characteristics is superior to others. The Church denounces this viewpoint.

In 1775, Johann Friedrich Blumenbach established five human races differentiated by skin color. Later anthropologists used other characteristics of the human body and arrived at a different number of racial subdivisions, from a minimum of two to a maximum of several dozen. By limiting criteria, most anthropologists now agree on the existence of three distinct groups: the Caucasoid, the Mongoloid, and the Negroid.

The apostle Paul taught in the New Testament that God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth" (Acts 17:26). In the sight of God, race, color, and nationality make no difference, an idea stressed in the Book of Mormon: "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 Ne. 26:33).

Spencer W. Kimball, in speaking of race and racism as President of the Church, said: "We do wish that there would be no racial prejudice…. Racial prejudice is of the devil…. There is no place for it in the gospel of Jesus Christ" (pp. 236-37).

Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus Christ came to earth to die for all mankind and to teach them how to live. He taught two great commandments: first, to love God with all one's heart, might, mind, and strength; second, to love one's fellow men as one loves oneself (Matt. 22:36-39). Throughout his life, Jesus showed how to obey these two commandments.

Prior to June 1978, priesthood denial to blacks within the Church aroused both concern about, and accusations of, racism in the Church, especially during the civil rights movement of the 1960s in the United States. For more than a century Presidents of the Church had taught that blacks were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons known only to God, but would someday receive it. As made clear in Official Declaration-2 (appended to the Doctrine and Covenants in September 1978), there had long been an anticipation that the priesthood would be made available to all worthy men-an anticipation realized and announced June 9, 1978.

In the October 1978 Semiannual General Conference of the Church, President Spencer W. Kimball restated to the world that he had received a revelation making all worthy male members of the Church eligible for the priesthood without regard for race or color (see Doctrine and Covenants: Official Declaration 2).


Bibliography

Adams, Stirling. Review of The Curse of Ham: Race and Slavery in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, by David M. Goldenberg; Noah's Curse: The Biblical Justification of American Slavery, Stephen R. Haynes. BYU Studies 44:1 (2005):157-169.

Allred, David A. Review of Asian American Mormons: Bridging Cultures, by Jessie L. Embry. BYU Studies 42:2 (2003):171-173.

Bush, Lester E., Jr., and Armand L. Mauss, eds. Neither White Nor Black. Midvale, Utah, 1954.

Hunter, Howard W. "All Are Alike Unto God." Ensign 9 (June 1979):72-74.

Kissi, Emmanuel A. Review of Black and Mormon, edited by Newell G. Bringhurst and Darron T. Smith. BYU Studies 45:4 (2006):165-168.

Grover, Mark L. Review of Hispanics in the Mormon Zion, 1912-1999, by Jorge Iber. BYU Studies 41:1 (2002):191-192.

Kimball, Spencer W. The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball. Salt Lake City, 1982.

LeBaron, Dale E. All Are Alike Unto God. Salt Lake City, 1990.

Mauss, Armand L. The Forging of Races: Race and Scripture in the Protestant Atlantic World, 1600-2000, by Colin Kidd. BYU Studies 47:1 (2008):179-182.

CASSIA C. FLORES

ENOC Q. FLORES


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