Church Leader’s Insights to Revelation Regarding Blacks in Mormonism

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

Insights on Revelation: Understanding Blacks in Mormonism and the Ongoing Restoration

If you read the Church’s essay, including the topic of Blacks in Mormonism and previous Priesthood restrictions, the word that they use is that the Church “disavows” any of the explanations trying to give justification or reasons for why the practice while was put into place.

In response to this, Elder Jefferey R. Holland, a member of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, stated, “I have to concede to my earlier colleagues. They, I’m sure in their own way, were doing the best they knew to give shape to [the policy], to give context for it, to give even history to it. All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong.” 

Additionally, Bruce R. McConkie said, “We spoke with limited understanding.” So when you hear different things, and sadly, they do get perpetuated still in the church today, please be one of the first to say we just there aren’t those reasons we don’t support that that’s not our doctrine, we don’t believe that as a whole. It’s a good application too for us today that sometimes there are certain policies or practices within the church, and sometimes we want to give reasons for the practice. When the reasons haven’t necessarily been revealed or made clear, that sometimes is when we create harm and hurt and problems that future generations have to clean up. 

Any time that we try to take the place of God, giving the reasons why or even sometimes the implementations of some of the how of things that have been revealed – that’s dangerous because that’ll often come back to bite us down the road. And I love being meek enough to say we don’t know it hasn’t been revealed, yeah 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. This may be true in regards to the topic of blacks in Mormonism.

And maybe that leads to the second one, our current prophet, President Russell M. Nelson has said this: “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 is prejudiced towards another race needs to repent, and then in the joint statement with the NAACP, he 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 through due 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 prophet has 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 paradisiacal glory until the Lord’s will is done perfectly on this earth like it is in heaven. Until then, we are working towards that ideal. Sometimes we’re given ideals, and we’re here, so don’t be afraid of them; by the way, in the past, we don’t need to justify everything, we don’t need to say that everything was right, and 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.

It’s this idea that 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. We let the Lord work it out, but I will say, I  am, I have a hundred percent 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, on June 8th, when President Kimball presented this about blacks in Mormonism 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, pats him on the knee and says,  go tell the world.

Revelation Spreading to 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 Helvécio Martins 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’d 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 saints  – 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.  

For further historical context and insights from source experts on the topic of blacks in Mormonism, visit blacksinmormonism.com

By Todd Noall, Source Expert

Todd Noall is an author and religious scholar at Mormonism Explained with a focus on the history and theology of religion.

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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