Religion in Society

Mormon Church Renounces Belief That Dark Skin Is Sign Of God's Disfavor

| by Kathryn Schroeder

The Mormon Church has officially renounced the belief that dark skin is a sign of disfavor, or curse.

On the official website for The Mormon Church,, a statement has been posted titled "Race and the Priesthood," where blame for the belief that dark skinned people were inferior to whites is placed on the establishment of the church coming in 1830, a time of great racism in the United States.

The Church points out how previous leaders, most notably President Brigham Young, restricted Blacks from priesthood in the Church, receiving the temple endowment, or allowing them to be married in the temple. Theories to explain why the restrictions existed have been developed over time, but according to "Race and the Priesthood," "None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church."     

AlterNet points out that the biblical text, The Book of Mormon, teaches that "dark skin is a sign of God’s curse, while white skin is a sign of his blessing." With 15,000,000 members worldwide, the teachings of such racism and segregation from inception into the Church strikes a sour chord with modern belief systems of equality amongst all people. It has been a struggle to overcome this part of their heritage for the Mormon Church, according to AlterNet.

The Mormon Church acknowledges in "Race and the Priesthood" the origin stories of said belief in their scripture, but concludes that the Church today "disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form."

The decision to abandon the beliefs of inferiority for those with dark skin to white is a large step forward for The Mormon Church, and as Margaret Blair Young, an adjunct professor at Brigham Young University who has focused her documentary work on profiling the untold stories of Black Mormons, told The Guardian it is "a miracle."