On this day in 1978, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the Mormons — started allowing black men to serve as priests in the church — just 92 years after the first American Catholic priest. It was announced the day before by the church fathers in the 1978 Revelation on Priesthood, “He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the church may receive the Holy Priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that follows there from, including the blessings of the temple.” The previous 148 years, God was busy — or something.
Interestingly, when the church first started, it didn’t have any restrictions at all. Up until 1847, there had been two African American priests. The explicit racism toward blacks seems to have started with everyone’s favorite polygamist Brigham Young. He made speeches about how anyone with a single drop of the Curse of Cain could never be a priest. Even if race weren’t a myth, such ideas are submental.
The Utah territory got the right to decide for itself if it would be a slave state. It decided yes. But the fact was that there were very few slaves in the territory. When the Civil War started, Utah sided with the patriots and outlawed slavery in 1862. Say what you will about the Mormons — they are a practical people. I admire that.
So we mark this day, 37 years ago, when God finally got back to the elders at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Because, you know, how would we know that racism was wrong except through divine revelation? God has yet to reveal his ideas regarding sexism.