Mormon Discussion

POST: A Nuanced Approach to Race and Skin Color

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To the Orthodox Believer who still holds belief that skin color is a sign of a divine curse and that said belief is an official Doctrine of the Church of jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I fully agree that in the past our Church taught as Doctrine that Blacks were less valiant in the pre-mortal life, that inter-racial marriage was sin, and that Black skin was a sign of the curse of Cain. These teachings started with Brigham Young and carry on to some extent even to today. The trouble is that are not “true” Doctrine. I don’t say that because it is my opinion but rather the Church has officially said so itself when it published a Gospel Topics essay on it’s website a few years ago.

The essay is titled “Race and the Priesthood” and is found here
https://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng

Notice the third to last paragraph

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

Notice that while I agree these were taught as Doctrines in our past, Doctrines that all 15 men unitedly taught, they are deemed “disavowed theories” today.

It is interesting to note that when the 78′ revelation happened that President Kimball admitted afterward that he was a racist and that much of the leading up to the change in 78′ involved his own personal soul searching and adjustment to changing his own prejudices and perspectives. You can read about that here in a BYU article written by his son Edward.

https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/BYUStudies/article/viewFile/7325/6974

This seems to clearly show that the Church is Doctrinally moving away from such teachings and no longer hold them to be true. This also applies to the curse of Dark skin the Lamanites were given. It is important to note that the Church has made a significant change to its online version of the scriptures that speaks volumes to this issue of the Lamanite skin curse.

In the past the chapter heading for 2nd Nephi Chapter 5 read

Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness, and become a scourge to the Nephites.

The new online version reads

Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cut off from the presence of the Lord, are cursed, and become a scourge unto the Nephites.

Also notice the online version of Mormon Chapter 5’s heading which used to read

The Lamanites shall be a dark, filthy, and loathsome people. . .

and now states

Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites will be scattered, and the Spirit will cease to strive with them . . .

It appears the Church is beginning to back completely out of associating dark skin as a curse and has already done so Doctrinally. and is now moving those changes into the scriptures slowly and subtly.

It may also be of note that some LDS scholars such as Brant Gardner express the opinion that “dark skin” is an allegorical and not literal meaning, and that it means to have a unrighteous spirit. I do not necessarily agree with this but here are his thoughts

http://blog.fairmormon.org/2012/05/21/if-lamanites-were-black-why-didnt-anyone-notice/
&
http://www.fairmormon.org/perspectives/publications/what-does-the-book-of-mormon-mean-by-skin-of-blackness

2 thoughts on “POST: A Nuanced Approach to Race and Skin Color

  1. Pingback: POST: My Nuanced View of Mormonism - Mormon Discussion PodcastMormon Discussion Podcast

  2. It is good to know that a lot has changed in our beliefs especially regarding skin color. Our minds were conditioned before that the color of our skin classify our place in society. That white skinned have a higher place in society than the dark-skinned ones since they are believed to be cursed. Over the years, this idea has been changed since the dark-skinned people have fought for their freedom. But still, until today racism is still prevalent.

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