Did you know that until 1978 the Mormon church taught that blacks were once an evil race of Jews who were colored by God for their wickedness.
The Church leadership began using the newly canonized Pearl of Great Price, which has the following verse:
Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessing of the earth, and with the blessing of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining the priesthood. Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of the priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry. (Abraham 1:26-27, emphasis added)
Influence of Brigham Young
An early statement by Brigham Young about a priesthood ban in the LDS Church was made on February 13, 1849. The statement — which refers to the Curse of Cain as the reason for the policy — was given in response to the question, “What chance is there for the redemption of the Negro?” Young responded, “The Lord had cursed Cain’s seed with blackness and prohibited them the Priesthood.”
In 1852, while addressing the Utah Territorial Legislature, Young stated, “Any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] … in him cannot hold the Priesthood and if no other Prophet ever spoke it before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ I know it is true and others know it.”
When asked “if the spirits of Negroes were neutral in Heaven,” Young responded, “No, they were not, there were no neutral [spirits] in Heaven at the time of the rebellion, all took sides …. All spirits are pure that came from the presence of God.” Learning about Enoch Lewis’s marriage to a woman of European descent (December 1847) and subsequently enacting a ban on Negroes in the priesthood, he considered Walker Lewis “one of the best Elders.”
On another occasion, Young said, “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind …. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race—that they should be the ‘servant of servants’; and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree.”
Brigham Young said this despite the LDS scripture verses that state people may be cursed unto the 3rd and 4th generation, but if any were to repent and make restitution they would be forgiven and the curse lifted. This is reiterated in D&C 124:50&52 as well as Mosiah 13:13,14 and Deut 5:9,10.
Under John Taylor’s presidency, there was confusion regarding the origin of the racial policy. Elijah Abel was living, breathing proof that an African American was ordained to the Priesthood in the days of Joseph Smith. At least two of Abel’s descendants — his son Enoch and Enoch’s son Elijah — were ordained to the priesthood, in 1900 and 1935, respectively. Joseph Fielding Smith said that Abel’s Priesthood had been declared null and void by Joseph Smith himself, though this seems to conflict with Joseph F. Smith’s teachings that the Priesthood could not be removed from any man without removing that man from the church. From this point on Joseph Smith was repeatedly referred to as the author of many statements, which had actually been made by Brigham Young, on the subject of Priesthood restriction