A generation after the Civil War (1861–65) led to the end of slavery in the United States, the U. Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites were constitutional, a decision that legalized a host of public color barriers until the Court reversed itself in 1954. In two speeches delivered before the Utah territorial legislature in January and February 1852, Brigham Young announced a policy restricting men of black African descent from priesthood ordination.
Not until 1967 did the Court strike down laws forbidding interracial marriage. At the same time, President Young said that at some future day, black Church members would “have [all] the privilege and more” enjoyed by other members.
Nevertheless, given the long history of withholding the priesthood from men of black African descent, Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter the policy, and they made ongoing efforts to understand what should be done.
After praying for guidance, President Mc Kay did not feel impressed to lift the ban.
None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church. Congress limited citizenship to “free white person[s].” Over the next half century, issues of race divided the country—while slave labor was legal in the more agrarian South, it was eventually banned in the more urbanized North. president appointed Brigham Young to the position of territorial governor.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored amidst a highly contentious racial culture in which whites were afforded great privilege. Even so, racial discrimination was widespread in the North as well as the South, and many states implemented laws banning interracial marriage. Southerners who had converted to the Church and migrated to Utah with their slaves raised the question of slavery’s legal status in the territory.Jane Manning James, a faithful black member who crossed the plains and lived in Salt Lake City until her death in 1908, similarly asked to enter the temple; she was allowed to perform baptisms for the dead for her ancestors but was not allowed to participate in other ordinances.The curse of Cain was often put forward as justification for the priesthood and temple restrictions.One of these men, Elijah Abel, also participated in temple ceremonies in Kirtland, Ohio, and was later baptized as proxy for deceased relatives in Nauvoo, Illinois.There is no reliable evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.Those realities, though unfamiliar and disturbing today, influenced all aspects of people’s lives, including their religion.Many Christian churches of that era, for instance, were segregated along racial lines.In theology and practice, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces the universal human family.Latter-day Saint scripture and teachings affirm that God loves all of His children and makes salvation available to all.The Church had always allowed Pacific Islanders to hold the priesthood, and President Mc Kay clarified that black Fijians and Australian Aborigines could also be ordained to the priesthood and instituted missionary work among them.In South Africa, President Mc Kay reversed a prior policy that required prospective priesthood holders to trace their lineage out of Africa.