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Think About Eternity - A Parallel History

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A Parallel History

by Timothy Oliver

A   P A R A L L E L   H I S T O R Y

Mormon Church











Pre– Official Declaration—1

Official Declaration—1

Post– Official Declaration—1

True and holy principle revealed by God, essential to exaltation.*

Doctrine and Covenants Section 132

Commanded by God, required for exaltation.

No actual change noted in Declaration, but alleged to be no longer taught.


Declared to have ceased.

True and holy principle revealed by God. Practiced by God in heaven. Future practice there by exalted Mormons.


Officially forbidden, but continued in secret for more than 20 years. No admission
of past moral wrong-doing.


Pre– Official Declaration—2

Official Declaration—2

Post– Official Declaration—2

Blacks descendants of Cain, Ham and Canaan.
Cursed by God with black skin and flat nose. Unworthy to re-ceive priesthood (due probably to some behavior during premortal existence).
Dark skin of Lamanites also a curse from God.

On Blacks:

Moses 7:8, 12, 22;
Abraham 1:21–27.

On Lamanites:

1 Nephi 2:23; 12:22–23
2 Nephi
5:21–23; 30:6
Jacob 3:8
Alma 3:6–10
3 Nephi 2:14–16
Mormon 5:15

Blacks of African descent excluded from Mormon priesthood. Mormon leaders have no choice; exclusion is made on orders from God.

No changes made to doctrine that dark skin is curse from God. Priesthood now open by God’s orders to all worthy males without regard to race or color.


Exclusion of blacks from Mormon priesthood to cease.

Doctrine that dark skin is curse from God still intact, but not openly taught. Top leadership denies there is any discussion by themselves about repudiat-ing racist scrip-tures or doctrinal statements by past leaders. (May 18, 1998)

On Blacks:


On Lamanites:

2 Nephi 30:6; “white” changed to “pure” in 1981 and subsequent editions of the Book of Mormon. All other “dark skin = curse from God” passages, still NO CHANGE

Ordination of blacks to Priesthood. Worthy blacks receive all blessings. Interracial Temple marriages.
No admission
of past moral wrong-doing.

*Doctrine taught for many years by top Mormon leaders held that practice of polygamy in this life was essential to salvation, and protected by God.

The history, within Mormonism, of polygamy, and the denial of the priesthood to blacks of African descent, share a number of interesting parallels which raise some rather serious questions. The most obvious question is whether there was ever any revelation to end either practice. Additionally, there is no more reason to think that Mormon leaders have actually renounced their views about dark skin being a curse from God than there is to think they have renounced the belief that polygamy was a divine principle ordained of God.

In both cases — polygamy, and banning blacks from the priesthood — Mormon leaders taught that the practice was instituted by God and could not be changed by themselves. Refusal to obey either principle would precipitate divine punishment.(1) Mormon leaders also claimed that both practices were based on eternal, divine doctrine, as revealed in scripture given through the prophet Joseph Smith.(2)

Mormon leaders say there was also revelation from God requiring an end of both practices (see material following the Manifesto, in Official Declaration — 1, and, Official Declaration — 2). However, neither of the Official Declarations by which these practices were declared ended actually contains any such revelation. No actual text of either revelation has ever been printed.

Other "revelations" were added to Mormon scripture during the 1970s, and made into additional Sections in the Doctrine & Covenants. The Church has not so dignified either of the documents ending polygamy and the priesthood ban on blacks. This leaves the unavoidable impression that both the "Official Declarations" are not really viewed by the Church Authorities as revelation or scripture like the rest of the Church's standard works.

The revelation authorizing polygamy — indeed, commanding it, under threat of damnation — is still printed without modification, as scripture (D&C 132), binding on the consciences of Mormons. All of the passages used to support the former discrimination policy against blacks are likewise still printed and affirmed as scripture — the Word of God — by the Mormon Church.

In both cases, no acknowledgement has ever been made that either the doctrine or practice was actually wrong. To the contrary, the principle of plural marriage is still taught in the Mormon Church as a true principle — a principle supposedly practiced by God in the Celestial Kingdom, now, and that will yet be practiced there by Mormons as well. In the case of the priesthood ban against blacks, only the practice is acknowledged to have been changed.

Mormon leaders have adopted the position that the plural marriage "doctrine" is true, but for the sake of the progress of "the gospel" in the world, it is not currently "practiced." Could it be that Mormon Church leaders have merely stopped "the practice" of denying priesthood on the basis of race, while still believing "the doctrine" that skin color is a curse from God, and thus that blacks are still cursed by God? Do they truly regard ordination of blacks to the priesthood as valid and upheld by God, or as only an empty form necessary to avoid an obstacle to the progress of Mormonism in the world? Could it be that neither they nor their God have ever really changed their minds on this issue any more than they changed their minds about polygamy? If there actually were any revelations ending either practice, why have they never been published?

(1) (On polygamy, see: Doctrine & Covenants 132:3–4; Journal of Discourses, vol. 5, p. 203; vol. 11, p. 269; On priesthood ban for blacks, see: Brigham Young Addresses, Ms d 1234, Box 48, folder 3, dated February 5, 1852, located in the LDS Church Historical Department; quoted in Tanner, Mormonism—Shadow or Reality? fifth edition, p. 293–A.)
(2) (On polygamy, see: Doctrine & Covenants 132; On priesthood ban for blacks, see: Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:8, 12, 22, and Abraham 1:21–27.)

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