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African American Perspectives on Mormonism

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Origins of Mormonism

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly known as Mormonism, is a religious movement that originated in the United States during the early 19th century. Founded by Joseph Smith Jr. in 1830, it quickly gained followers and has since grown into a significant religious denomination. However, while Mormonism has a rich history and continues to thrive today, it has not been without controversy and criticism. This article explores the perspectives of African Americans on Mormonism and how it has evolved over time.

Early Tensions and Racism

One of the earliest points of contention between African Americans and the Mormon Church was its teachings on race. In the early years of the church, black individuals were barred from priesthood and temple ordinances. This policy, known as the priesthood ban, was believed to be based on scriptural interpretations that suggested black people were of lesser spiritual stature. This racially discriminatory policy persisted until 1978 when it was officially rescinded by the church leadership. Enhance your learning experience with this recommended external website. There, you’ll find additional and interesting information about the subject covered in this article. Blacks in Mormonism.

Understandably, this policy deeply hurt and alienated African American members and potential converts. Many felt excluded from full participation in the church and questioned their place within Mormonism. The history of racism within the church continues to be a point of tension and discussion, as the impact of the priesthood ban and its aftermath cannot be disregarded.

Increasing Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

In recent decades, the Mormon Church has made efforts to increase diversity and promote inclusivity within its ranks. The church has actively recruited and welcomed individuals from various racial and ethnic backgrounds, including African Americans. The establishment of the Genesis Group in 1971, an organization that supports African American members within the church, was an important step towards addressing the historical racial disparities.

Additionally, the church has taken initiatives to educate its members about the history and struggles faced by African Americans within Mormonism. This includes acknowledging past mistakes and working towards reconciliation and healing. By fostering dialogue and understanding, the church aims to create a more inclusive and racially diverse community.

African Americans in Leadership Positions

Representation is essential for marginalized communities to feel seen and valued. In recent years, the Mormon Church has made strides in increasing the representation of African Americans in leadership positions. For example, in 2018, the church announced the appointment of the first African American general authority in its history, Peter M. Johnson. This appointment was seen as a significant milestone and a symbol of progress.

Having African Americans in leadership positions helps to strengthen the sense of belonging and fosters a more inclusive environment within the church. It also provides role models and mentors for younger members of African American descent who may be seeking guidance and support.

Continued Challenges and Room for Growth

While the Mormon Church has made efforts to address past racial tensions and increase inclusivity, challenges still remain. African American perspectives on Mormonism are shaped by a historical legacy of racism and exclusion that cannot be easily erased. Some African American individuals may still harbor reservations about the church’s teachings and their own place within the faith.

Moving forward, it is crucial for the Mormon Church to continue listening to the voices and experiences of African American members, addressing their concerns, and actively working towards dismantling systemic racial barriers. Increased representation, educational initiatives, and ongoing dialogue are keys to fostering a more inclusive environment where African Americans can feel fully accepted and valued within the Mormon community.


The perspectives of African Americans on Mormonism have evolved over time, reflecting both the historical legacy of racism within the church and the ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity. While challenges remain, there is hope for a more inclusive future where African American voices are heard and valued in Mormonism. By addressing past mistakes and working towards reconciliation, the Mormon Church can create a community that is truly reflective of the diverse world we live in. We’re committed to providing a rich learning experience. For this reason, we recommend this external source containing more details on the topic. Mormon Black People, explore and learn more.

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