On Being a Latter-day Saint and a Black American Part Four

Updated on February 28, 2019
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Rodric has been a member of Christ's Church since he was 15 years old. He has a lot to say about his religion.

In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost

President Nelson offered the solution of Knowing when prophets speak for the Lord.

President Nelson said during the April 2018 General Conference,

In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost... My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation (Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives).

President Nelson challenges those of us with concerns to get personal revelation. It is a direct invitation to go unobstructed to Deity and get an answer from the source on matters.

We make excuses that there is some deeper understanding that was not apparent to most people and that we should trust in God. It felt wrong to some, but we would not allow one teaching or idea to destroy a lifetime of faith, which is a miracle apparent to our lives.

Some people claimed that God never commanded that the Blacks not receive the full fellowship in the church. Many Black Latter-day Saints do not accept the teachings of the past and never believed them. A former leader of the Genesis Group, an official auxiliary organization for Black members of the church in Utah, by the name of Darius Grey offered his opinion on the matter. After receiving a personal witness that the Ban on those of Black African descent from the priesthood and temple ordinances was not of God, he petitioned the president of the church (Gordon B. Hinckley at the time) if he could teach his views. Grey shares in the video below his experience.

Being able to move past all of that and still live the tenets of the Christian faith is what being a Black Latter-day Saint is about.

Darius Gray's Speech on Blacks and the Priesthood.

Observations

Being a Black American and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also known, though incorrectly as Mormons is its own crucible of faith. The history of the church and its treatment of Blacks is an ever-present reminder of what has occurred in the United States at the hands of Christians who claimed to worship Jesus Christ as a few took whips to the backs of human beings they refused to see as fellow brothers and sisters.

Latter-day Saints in the past have always been generally supportive of freeing the slaves prior to the Civil War in American history. Black people have been members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for nearly the entire time that it has been in existence.

The doctrines of the church have always consisted of inclusivity and fellowship to all of the family of Adam. The culture and tradition of the people who composed the church have not always reflected the lofty ideas of the brotherhood taught by the organization, which is how racist ideology found its way inside the leadership for policy to exclude members of African heritage.

The Church supported obeying and honoring the laws of the land. In the South, the law of the land was to marginalize Blacks. The idea of freedom and equality during the Civil Rights Movement was not one that came from the Church due to its decision to frown upon the acts of civil disobedience that many Americans participated in rather than handling legal redress in the courtrooms.

There is no official teaching from the Church explaining its policy toward Black people in the past, yet. However, it took an act of God to get the members of the church to accept Blacks as worthy people to enter the temples and participate equally in the church.

Elijah Abel

Elijah Abel was a Black member of the Church who held a prominent position in the community of Nauvoo and an undertaker and as a member of the Seventy of the church and missionary during the presidencies of Joseph Smith, Jr. and Brigham Young. He is one of a small number of Blacks who held the priesthood before the Revelation of Priesthood in 1978 allowing all worthy male members of the church to be ordained to the priesthood regardless of race and color.

He is important to mention because though his life was not typical of Black Latter-day Saints during his lifetime, he was a prominent reminder that Black members of the Church were intrinsically connected to the culture of the Church even during the times of overt racism.

Black Latter-day Saint Cons

  • Being Black and a member of the Church is wondering who will walk by and use some excuse to touch your hair uninvitedly.
  • It is being occasionally reminded that there are not many of you by a well-meaning older person who says something offensive when trying to express appreciation for your presence.
  • Being Black and a member of the Church in America is not always fitting in with the members of the congregation.

Black Latter-day Saint Pros

  • Being Black and a member of the Church means to have a connection to God that brings a satisfaction that would otherwise be lost in a sea of confusion and doubt.
  • It means to have direction and understanding of who you are, why you are here, and where you are going.
  • It helps to connect you to your ancestors in a way that means everything when all they were to their slave owners in many cases were numbers on a slave manifest.

The Good things are common to all faithful members. Knowing that Jesus is real and God really talks to us if we have faith to hear Him is a hallmark of Latter-day Saints. Each member of the human family faces challenges inflicted on him or her by circumstances of life, heritage, education, temperament, the agency of others, and a host of other things. Being able to move past all of that and still live the tenets of the Christian faith is what being a Black member is about. It is the ultimate goal of every Latter-day Saint to be a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and partaker of His grace. That's just the way it is.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Rodric Anthony

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