Topic Pages: Race Issues

June 30, 2021

2019: Rebecca de Schweinitz, “There is no Equality”: William E Berrett, BYU, and healing the Wounds of Racism in the Latter- Day Saint Past and Present” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 52 No. 3 (2019):62–83.

De Schweintiz documents how students at BYU still hear racist reasons for the priesthood/temple ban in classes, missions, Gospel Doctrine, sacrament meeting talks and even in books published by the Church.

2019: Margaret Olsen Hemming & Fatimah S. Salleh, “Wrestling With the Racism of The Book of Mormon” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 52 No. 3 (2019):209–217.

A sermon wrestling with the curse of blackness in the Book of Mormon.

2019: James C. Jones, “Racism,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 52 No. 3 (2019):203–208.

The only way that you can both help the poor and needy and preach the gospel is if you let go of racism “and help others to do the same.”

2019: Julian Harper, “Racist Folklore at BYU,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Web Only (October 11, 2019).

Harper shows how inadvertant racism affected his time at BYU.

2019: Kirstie Stanger Weyland, “Racism at BYU,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Web Only (October 11, 2019).

Weyland discusses how her professors justified the priesthood ban and other uncomfortable experiences as a student at BYU.

2019: Justin Tyree, “I Just Want Them to Own the History,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought,Web Only (October 11, 2019).

Tyree didn’t experience the same sort of racist remarks that other people that he knew had to experience while at BYU. Despite that, he didn’t feel like he truly belonged at BYU. Suggestions for improvement

2019: Quincy Newell, “Your Sister in the Gospel: The Life of Jane Manning James, a Nineteenth-Century Black Mormon,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Dialogue Lecture #47.

Quincy Newell presents her research in this podcast on early black LDS pioneer, Jane Manning James.

2018: Lester Bush, “Looking Back, Looking Forward: “Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine” 45 Years Later” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):1–28.

It has been forty-five years since Dialogue published Bush’s essay entitled “Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview”2 and forty years since Official Declaration 2 ended the priesthood/temple ban. It seems like a good time to take stock of where we are: what has changed, what has stayed the same, what changes still need to happen, and what steps need to occur to bring about those changes

2018: Darron T. Smith, “Negotiating Black Self-Hate within the LDS Church” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):29–44.

Smith considers “why would any self-aware Black person find Mormonism the least bit appealing given its ignoble history of racial exclusion and marginalization?”

2018: Joanna Brooks, “The Possessive Investment in Rightness: White Supremacy and the Mormon Movement” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):45–81.

Brooks explains that “Mormons will have to choose to acknowledge the pivotal and pervasive role of white supremacy in the founding of LDS institutions and the growth of the Mormon movement.”

2018: Matthew Harris, “Mormons & Lineage: The Complicated History of Blacks & Patriarchal Blessings, 1830–2018 Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):83–129.

The priesthood revelation of 1978 eased some of the tension when the apostles affirmed that Blacks could now be “adopted into the House of Israel” as full participants in Mormon liturgical rites. But this doctrinal shift did not resolve the vexing question of whether or not Black people derived from the “seed of Cain.”

2018: Alice Faulkner Burch, “Roundtable: The Preacher, the Labor Leader, the Homosexual, and the Jew: The Template for Achieving Great Goals” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):181–185.

Burch explains “Individually we can be strong and accomplish wonderful things. Together, united, we can be unstoppable and accomplish great things that are community-changing, world-enhancing, life-uplifting.”

2018: Janan Graham-Russell, “Roundtable: A Balm in Gilead: Reconciling Black Bodies within a Mormon Imagination” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):185–192.

“As much we may hope that one would disregard the explicitly racial teachings of the past, the significance of corporeality in the Mormon imagination is such that Mormonism’s racial wounds run deep. With-out a thoughtful consideration of the impact of the priesthood and temple restrictions, their legacy manifests in implicit and explicit ways.”

2018: Gail Turley Houston, “Roundtable: When Did You Become Black? Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):193–200.

After taking a genelogy DNA test, Houston finds some African ancestory. “Where to begin in answering all those questions? But at the most basic level, I simply liked that I was from Africa. The percentage was small but the jolt large and wondrous. In the nineteenth century, the United States had the one-drop rule about race: if you had one drop of African blood you were considered to be Black.”

2018: Melodie Jackson, “Roundtable: The Black Cain in White Garments Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):209–211.

Jackson explains “The Church refused to grant the Black body whole recognition and divinity. To Nephi, I was not fair and delightsome. To Joseph, I was a violator of the most sacred principles of society, chastity, and virtue. To Brigham, I was Cain’s curse. To McConkie, I was an unfaithful spirit, a “fence-sitter.” To you, I am colorless, my Blackness swallowed in that whiteness reclaimed, “a child of God.”

2018: Egide Nzojibwami & Verlyne Christensen: Interviewed by Gregory A. Prince, “Interview: Father-Daughter Interview on Blacks and the Priesthood Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):213–136.

A beautiful interview wherein Christensen said “If we look at an organization being a circle, there are a lot of people who are trying really, really hard to stay right there, just on the edge. They are working really hard, and I think that requires a lot of courage.”

2018: Cameron McCoy, “Shifting Tides: A Clarion Call for Inclusion and Social Justice” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):201–208.

“What can we do to help and make a difference in the fight for racial and social justice?” McCoy responds to the BYU students who asked these questions which he brought up in an annual MLK March on Life held by BYU was ‘stop tiptoeing around the subjects of race, inequality, and inclusion. Many well intentioned white people in this country do not understand how the deeply rooted systems of racism and inequality function.’ He encouraged people to step up and do their own part for obtaining social justice for all.

2018: Robert Greenwell, “One Devout Mormon Family’s Struggle with Racism Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):155–180.

This article tells the impact of LDS racial teachings on a single family history, the Marshalls, from Alabama in the 19th c. to Filmore, Utah in the present.

2018: Roy Whitaker, “MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AND MORMONISM: DIALOGUE, RACE, AND PLURALISM Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 51 No. 3 (2018):131–153.

This essay provides an outline for how to have a more robust intrafaith dialogue about race among members of the LDS church. Using principles from Martin Luther King, Jr. about dialogue on race, Whitaker argues for the need for greater dialogue to overcome the past.

2015: Jared Hickman, “Learning to Read with the Book of Mormon” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 48 No. 1 (2015): 169–177.

In this “From the Pulpit,” Jared Hickman discussed the self-confessed weaknesses of multiple authors in the Book of Mormon, indicating that the text is not the literal word of God. He observes that it still has sacred truths to teach us including on racism.

2003: Thomas Murphy, “Review of Armand Mauss, Abraham’s Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 36 No. 4 (2003):238–241.

Review of Armand Mauss, Abraham’s Children: Changing Mormon Conceptions of Race and Lineage.

2002: Gregory A. Prince, “David O. McKay and Blacks: Building the Foundation for the 1978 Revelation Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 35 No. 1 (2002):145–153.

Using new access to his papers, Prince shows how David O. McKay thought about the racial priesthood restrictions as a policy, not a doctrine. Yet, it was a policy that need to be changed by revelation.

1999: Keith E. Norman, “Mark of the Curse: Lingering Racism in Mormon Doctrine? Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 32 No. 4 (1999):119–135.

Norman discusses instances where the racist teachings that justified the priesthood restrictions before 1978 continue to be taught.

1996: Douglas Campbell,  “’White’ or ‘Pure’: Five Vignettes” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 29 No. 4 (1996):119–135.

The Book of Mormon variously uses “white” and “pure” in the same verse in different editions. This article traces the history of those changes, who was behind them, and why.

1994: Eugene England,  “‘No Respecter of Persons’: A Mormon Ethics of DiversityDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 27 No. 4 (1994):79–100.

Eugene England addresses issues of inclusion and exclusion reflecting on what it means that “God is no respector of persons.”

1994: Andrew Clark, “The Fading Curse of Cain: Mormonism in South AfricaDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 27 No. 4 (1994):41–56.

White South African Church members’s perspectives on racial issues in the context of Apartheid.

1992: Chester Hawkins, “Selective Bibliography on African-American and Mormons 1830-1990Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 25 No. 4 (1992):113–131.

Bibliography of African Americans role in the church from 1830-1990.

1992: Jesse Embry, “SPEAKING FOR THEMSELVES: LDS ETHNIC GROUPS ORAL HISTORY PROJECTDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 25 No. 4 (1992):99–110.

An oral history project on ethnic wards and branches.

1992: Jessie Embry, “Ethnic Groups and the LDS ChurchDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 25 No. 4 (1992):81–96.

A history of ethnic wards and branches as the church struggled with integration vs. segregation of immigrant communities.

1992: James Allen, “On Becoming a Universal Church: Some Historical PerspectivesDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 25 No. 2 (1992):13–36.

A historical analysis of the globalization of the Church. Under President David O McKay, the Church was able to reach out to more people beyond North America and Europe, which led to an increase in membership, temples and missionaries.

1990: Mark Grover, “The Mormon Priesthood Revelation and the Sao Paulo, Brazil TempleDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 23 No. 1 (1990):39–53.

This analysis shows that American Civil Rights were not the only influence on church leaders seeking a revelation on race and the priesthood. This article refers to the history of mixed race heritage in Brazil, which was due to the high concentration of Africans brought there during the slave trade. It also outlines the personal and often tragic consquences, because anybody who had African ancestry white or dark skinned, became restricted from priesthood and temple blessings.

1990: Jessie Embry, “Separate but Equal?: Black Brothers, Genesis Groups, or Integrated Wards?Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 23 No. 1 (1990):11–36.

A history of Black LDS social groups and organizations. The Genesis Group gave African Americans a better chance to connect with fellow African Americans through frequent socials. The first group was founded in Salt Lake City. Even being based in Utah, they couldn’t depend on a lot of outside support from other members or Church leaders, which became isolating for them.

1988: Lee Copeland, “From Calcutta to Kaysville: Is Righteousness Color-coded?” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 21 No. 3 (1988):89-91.

A personal account of a racist statement a bishop made about people from India, while author’s adopted daughter was from India.

1984: Mark Grover, “Religious Accommodation in the Land of Racial Democracy: Mormon Priesthood and Black Brazilians” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 17 No. 3 (1988):23-34.

Brazil, with a high concentration of African heritage, was a difficult place for the Church (because of the Church’s racial policy) to make headway among native members. Due to the high risk of Brazilians potentially having African ancestry, the Church came to the point where they eventually discouraged missionaries in Brazil from baptizing anyone who is known to have African ancestry.

1981: Armand Mauss,  “The Fading of the Pharaoh’s Curse: The Decline and Fall of the Priesthood’s Ban Against BlacksDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 14 No. 3 (1981): 11–45.

Mauss situates the 1978 revelation on the priesthood in modern American historical context. Everything changed for the Church during the Civil Rights Movement when people both inside and outside the Church were harshly critcizing the priesthood ban. When the world was changing, it looked like the Church was still adherring to the past.

1979: Editors of Dialogue, “Saint Without Priesthood: The Collected Testimonies of Ex-Slave Samuel D. Chambers”Mormonism and the Negro: Faith, Folklore and Civil Rights” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 12 No. 2(1979):13–21.

The editors of Dialogue in 1979 compiled the testimonies of a former slave, Samuel Chambers, who was a member of the church.

1979: Newell G. Bringhurst,  “Elijah Abel and the Changing Status of Blacks Within MormonismDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 12 No. 2(1979): 22–36.

Elijah Abel, a black man ordained to the priesthood, was restricted in his church participation starting in 1843, even though he was well respected by both members and leaders. Newell G. Bringhurst discusses why the priesthood and temple ban might have occured. One of the reasons was when the pioneers were crossing the plains, a man by the name of William McCary, who had Native American and African American ancestry, caused a lot of grief and trouble for both saints and the leaders of the Church.

1973: Eugene England, “Responses and Perspectives: The Mormon CrossDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 8 No. 1 (1973):78–86.

Responding to Bush, Eugene England compared the story of Abraham which is uncomfortable for him calling it a cross, to the church wide policy of denying anyone who has black ancestry the priesthood and temple blessings which even though he is uncomfortable with it he does trust in continuing revelation by our prophet.

1973: Hugh Nibley, “Responses and Perspectives: The Best Possible TestDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 8 No. 1 (1973):73–77.

Responding to Bush, Hugh Nibley argues that it is God who chooses who he wants to ordain and who should be denied due to various reasons, hence the scripture “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

1973: Gordon C. Thomasson, “Responses and Perspectives: Lester Bush’s Historical Overview: Other PerspectivesDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 8 No. 1 (1973):62–72.

Responding to Bush, Thomasson wrote in response to Lester Bush’s Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Review which that article caused him to reflect on what he believes and so it became to be very valuable for him personally.

1973: Lester Bush, “Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical OverviewDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 8 No. 1 (1973):11–68.

Lester Bush’s landmark article tells the most comprehensive history of the church’s teachings on race and priesthood, destabilizing the idea that it originated with Joseph Smith or had been consistently taught.

1971: Brian Walton, “A University’s Dilemma: BYU and BlacksDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 6 No. 1 (1971):31–36.

Brian Walton, the BYU student body president in 1969-70 wrote this article to adress race issues head on. During BYU’s 1969-70 academic year, because of the church’s policy of denying blacks the priesthood and temple blessings, there were numerous protests at sporting events. In addition, several schools severed ties with BYU for a time.One of the ways that he was able to accomplish that was to bring in a fact finding mission from the Univeristy of Arizona to identify potential racism at BYU by interviewing students.

1970: Marvin Hill, “The Manipulation of HistoryDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 5 No. 3 (1970):96–99.

Marvin S Hill was responding to Fawn Brodie’s lecture at the Hotel Utah in 1970 called “Can We Manipulate the Past?” Her point in giving it was she was claiming that the people in charge only emphasize the points of history that fit their gains. She then compared that to Church Leaders only focusing on Joseph Smith’s early attitudes towards slavery, but then she claimed that Church Leaders didn’t focus on the fact that in the future he changed his mind regarding Slavery and became more against it, kind of like Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson. Marvin S Hill kept mentioning that she overlooked certain aspects.

1969: Lester Bush, “A COMMENTARY OF STEPHEN G. TAGGART’S MORMONISM’S NEGRO POLICY: SOCIAL AND HISTORICAL ORIGINSDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 4 No. 4 (1969):86–103.

Lester E Bush wrote in response to Stephen G Taggart’s book which the author tried to show that the Church came from abololonist ideas because the Church was orginially founded in New York, but when they encountered pro slavery settlers in Missouri and faced the hostiltiy from the settlers early church leaders apparently changed their mind, even though Joseph Smith eventually did a turnabout from what records have shown regarding African Americans.

1967: Armand L. Mauss, “Mormonism and the Negro: Faith, Folklore and Civil Rights” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 2 No. 4 (1967):19–40.

In this historical analysis, Mauss argues that starting in the 1850s, the church started to deny priesthood and temple blessings to anyone who had even a trace of African ancestry.

1967: Stewert Udall, “Letters to the EditorDialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol 2 No. 2 (1967):5–14.

In this important letter in one of the earliest Dialogue issues, Udall exclaims, “Every Mormon knows that his Church teaches that the day will come when the Negro will be given full fellowship. Surely that day has come. Surely God is speaking to us now, telling us that the time is here.”

1966: Karl Keller, “Every Soul Has Its South.” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 1 No. 2 (1966): 72–79.

In this important artcile in one of the earliest Dialogue issues, Keller says “I went because I was frankly worried: worried that my wife and children should find me slipping after talking intense brotherhood, worried that the church members I led and taught should know where the doctrine but not the action in life is, worried that the students I counseled and read and philosophized with where I taught should reach for meaning for their lives and find no guts, worried in fact that I should somehow while propagating and preaching the Kingdom of God miss it, miss it altogether. The rest was nonsense.”


Dialogue Topics Pages Podcast: Race


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