Blacks in Mormonism: Black Africans in the Early Church (Part 4)

Dr. Anthony Sweat

Dr. Anthony Sweat

Source Expert

Dr. Anthony Sweat, a leading expert on Mormon beliefs, brings diverse experiences to BYU’s religion department. He boasts a BFA in art and MEd/PhD in education, along with 13 years working with religious education programs. Now a prolific author on Latter-day Saint teachings, his research focuses on improving religious education methods. Dr. Sweat and his wife Cindy reside in Springville, Utah, with their seven children.

Fact Checked by Kevin Prince

Blacks and the Priesthood in the Early Church

There are any speculations about Mormon views on black people, so, let’s go with what God has revealed, and sometimes when we go to him and say, why, he doesn’t reveal the why all the time.

And maybe that leads to a second one. Our current prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, has said this, quote, the Creator of us all calls on each of us to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children. Any of us who has prejudice towards another race needs to repent. And then in a joint statement with the NAACP wrote, prejudice, hate, and discrimination are learned. Thus, we call on parents, family members, and teachers to be the first line of defense. 

We likewise call on government, business, and educational leaders at every level to review processes, laws, and organizational attitudes regarding racism and root them out once and for all, treating each other as sons and daughters of God matters, end of quote.

And then the third is, remember, this, as our prophets have said, is an ongoing restoration. The restoration is not complete, and it will not be complete until all the effects of the Fall have been conquered, until this earth is made to be a paradisacral glory, and until the Lord’s will is done perfectly on this earth, like it is in heaven. Until then, we are working towards that ideal.

We don’t need to say that everything was right regarding Blacks in Mormonism. We can acknowledge the shadows. We can acknowledge the wrong. We can acknowledge the hurt. Indeed, I would say we must, in order to help progress and help the ongoing restoration happen, to help the Lord’s will be perfectly done on this earth as it is in heaven. 

I love that, Tony. It’s this idea of you are not accountable for every quote, every policy, every declaration that’s ever been given, not just in the history of our Church, but in the history of dispensations of the gospel back to Adam and Eve. You’re not accountable for that. You’re not held hostage by that. Nor are you held hostage by what future revelations and policies and shifts and adjustments are going to come. 

We’re judged based on how we handle our present life, our present day, how we follow our prophets, seers and revelators today, and trust that God is going to continue to give them those directions down the road, and then you’re going to be accountable for it at that point because that will then be your present. It’s liberating to not have to defend every single thing that’s ever been done or said in the Church or in history. 

I think it’s actually a part of, back to humility within ourselves. We don’t justify everything we’ve done individually in the past because we know that owning errors and mistakes and problems is part of repentance, and in the same way, we have to acknowledge wrongs and harm and difficulties. Now in order for us to continue to repent and to move forward, now I’ll be the first to say, by the way, that it’s not up to you and I necessarily to say, to judge everything in the Church. Sometimes we speak with limited lenses ourselves regarding black Mormons

We let the Lord work it out, but I will say I have 100% confidence and faith in the ongoing nature of the Restoration that the Lord will work with us, with all of his children, to help us understand his will and to help lead us line upon line to get his will to be perfectly done on this earth like it is in heaven. 

It’s beautiful. Can you imagine what it was like a week later, June 8th, when President Kimball presented this to all of the General Authorities for a sustaining vote, and it came through unanimous, and he turns to his First Counselor, President N. Eldon Tanner Patsiman, and he says, go tell the world. 

As this revelation goes out to people throughout Africa, throughout Central and South America and the United States and nations in Europe, and as the word spreads for people like Alvesio Marchins and his family, this long-awaited day as these faithful, wonderful, devoted people are now given an opportunity, not just to be baptized like they’ve been all along, but now to receive the priesthood and to receive those ordinances of the temple. 

And when I served my mission in Brazil, some of the finest people I’ve ever met to this day in my life have been some of those black Mormons. It’s the João Modesto and his family. It’s the Getúlio Santos. It’s students that I’ve had in my classes in subsequent years who I’m just in awe at their goodness and at their faithfulness, and I love the fact that God gave us this declaration early in our life to open the door so that we can be part of watching the flood of the gospel go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people regardless of race or lineage. 

So to conclude, brothers and sisters, regardless of your race, regardless of your nationality, regardless of what language you speak, or regardless of your gender, just know that there is a God in heaven who loves you and who has his arms open wide, inviting all of God’s children to come into those arms of safety and to be saved by him. And we leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

By Dr. Anthony Sweat, Source Expert

Dr. Anthony Sweat serves as a leading authority on the topic of “Mormonism Explained” He holds a BFA in painting and drawing from the University of Utah and achieved his MEd and PhD in curriculum and instruction at Utah State University. Before assuming his role in the religion faculty at BYU, he accumulated thirteen years of experience working with Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. Dr. Sweat is a prolific author with numerous publications centered on the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His research primarily investigates the factors influencing effective religious education. Anthony and his spouse, Cindy, are proud parents to seven children and make Springville, Utah, their home.

Fact Checked by Mr. Kevin Prince, Source Expert

Kevin Prince is a religious scholar and host of the Gospel Learning Youtube channel. His channel has garnered over 41,000 subscribers and accumulated over 4.5 million views. Mr. Prince also created the Gospel Learning App, a reliable platform where individuals seeking truth can access trustworthy answers to religious questions from top educators worldwide.

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Mormonism Explained is a resource that was designed to provide objective and factual information about Mormonism, its history, doctrines, and policies. Our team of researchers consults experts and primary sources to present factual information on a variety of topics relevant to the Mormon Church.

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