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Interracial Marriage

Interracial marriage today is a bland and boring topic of discussion. It’s pretty much universally accepted from anyone who isn’t a bigot. Yet the church strongly opposed it for more than 130 years. In fact, when the 1978 “revelation” giving priesthood to blacks was announced in the Church News, that same issue also included an article entitled “Interracial marriage discouraged”. Here are some quotes from prominent church leaders.

Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Volume 5, p. 216:

“Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species…”

President Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110:

“If the White man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain (those with dark skin), the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.”

Apostle Mark E. Peterson, 1954:

I think I have read enough to give you an idea of what the Negro is after. He is not just seeking the opportunity of sitting down in a cafe where white people eat. He isn’t just trying to ride on the same streetcar or the same Pullman car with white people. It isn’t that he just desires to go to the same theater as the white people. From this, and other interviews I have read, it appears that the Negro seeks absorption with the white race. He will not be satisfied until he achieves it by intermarriage. That is his objective and we must face it.”

President Spencer W. Kimball, addressing BYU students in 1965, Church News, June 17, 1978:

“Now, the brethren feel that it is not the wisest thing to cross racial lines in dating and marrying. There is no condemnation. We have had some of our fine young people who have crossed the lines. We hope they will be very happy, but experience of the brethren through a hundred years has proved to us that marriage is a very difficult thing under any circumstances and the difficulty increases in interrace marriages.”

President George Albert Smith, First Presidency letter to Dr. Lowry Nelson in 1947:

“Your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and white races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient patriarchs until now…. there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this area, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.”

Apostle Mark E. Peterson, citation:

“We must not inter-marry with the Negro. Why? If I were to marry a Negro woman and have children by her, my children would oil be cursed as to the priesthood. Do I want my children cursed as to the priesthood? If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse. There isn’t any argument, therefore, as to inter-marriage with the Negro, is there?”

Elder Bruce R. McConkie in Mormon Doctrine:

“Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry.”

Elder John L. Lund, citation:

“God has commanded Israel not to intermarry. To go against this commandment of God would be to sin. Those who willfully sin with their eyes open to this wrong will not be surprised to find that they will be separated from the presence of God in the world to come. This is spiritual death…. It does not matter if they are one-sixth Negro or one-one hundred and sixth, the curse of no Priesthood is still the same…. To intermarry with a Negro is to forfeit a ‘Nation of Priesthood holders.”

President Spencer W. Kimball, citation:

“We are unanimous, all of the Brethren, in feeling and recommending that Indians marry Indians, and Mexicans marry Mexicans; the Chinese marry Chinese and the Japanese marry Japanese; that the Caucasians marry the Caucasians, and the Arabs marry Arabs.

Why did church leaders have this stance? Was there some revelation? Is there scriptural basis for it? If so, when did the revelation against this come forth? Where is it?

It seems quite likely, in the absence of any revelation before and after, that the church was mostly teaching racism when it was popular and acceptable and now ignores its past teachings because it is no longer popular or acceptable.

Next Step: Homosexuality and Proposition 8

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