There are many people who know very little, if anything, about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as the Mormon Church), and quite a bit of what they do know about the LDS Church and its teachings and beliefs has come from critics of the Mormon religion. One of the main issues that critics of The Church of Jesus Christ tend to focus on is the relationship that exists between Blacks and Mormons, and whether or not the LDS Church is racist.

The fact that Latter-day Saints of African American descent were not permitted to be ordained to the Priesthood for a long period of time has triggered, and continues to trigger, uncertainty in the minds of some people, in particular, those of the Black race, who view this action as a sign of prejudice or racism on the part of the LDS Church. This one fact becomes even more complex for some to understand and accept as there has never been an official statement released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as to why those of African American descent were not permitted to be ordained to the Priesthood, which in turn also restricted them from participating in the sacred ordinances of the Holy Temple.

What many of those who struggle with this issue fail to realize is that even during the time of Priesthood restrictions for Black members of the LDS Church, Blacks still continued to become baptized members of the LDS Church and faithfully served and magnified the callings that they received. They continued to press forward by faith believing that in the Lord’s due time, every worthy male, regardless of race, would be permitted to be ordained to the Priesthood. Another thing that they fail to realize is that the restriction was not as much a race issue as it was a lineage issue. For example, during this period of history, a White member who had any African American lineage would not have been permitted to be ordained to the Priesthood either. Regardless of the situation at hand, African American members continued to have faith and perhaps in their minds rang out the words to the song based on an old Negro spiritual, “Welcome Table”:

I’m gonna sit at the welcome table,

I’m gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days,

Hallelujah!

I’m gonna sit at the welcome table,

I’m gonna sit at the welcome table one of these days.

I’m gonna feast on milk and honey,

I’m gonna feast on milk and honey one of these days,

Hallelujah!

I’m gonna feast on milk and honey,

I’m gonna feast on milk and honey one of these days.

It is also not to be misconstrued that Blacks have ever been mistreated by the LDS Church in any manner. Membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never been, nor is it today, based on race. Those of the Black race have always been, and are continued to be welcomed with open arms to come and partake of the many blessings that are extended to them through faithfully obeying the doctrines and principles of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In 1978, after the announcement of a revelation received by then President of the LDS Church, Spencer W. Kimball, in the upper room of the Salt lake Temple, that all worthy males regardless of race could receive the Priesthood, the long awaited day, and answers to many prayers were received as members of all races were able to sit together at the “Welcome Table” and partake of the full blessings – the “milk and honey” – of the Priesthood.

An official declaration of the Church states, “Every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows therefrom, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Official Declaration – 2, 294).

This author, who is Black, has been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the past 14 years, having been baptized in Reykjavik, Iceland on 10 March 1978. In those 14 years he has been blessed to serve in various capacities to include leadership positions of the LDS Church and has enjoyed the full blessings of being an ordained member of the Priesthood. He is, and will continue to be a living witness and testimony that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not prejudice or racist in any way. All are welcome, regardless of race, color, or creed, to come and partake of the myriad of blessings that the gospel of Jesus Christ proffers all.

Keith L. Brown’s Mormon.org Profile

 

About Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.

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