The Mormon Church has released the most significant revision to its scriptures since 1981. Scriptures that were previously used to ban black men serving within their church.

The Mormon scriptures comprise four books: the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price and the two biggest additions to the new scripture can be found in Doctrine and Covenants.

Mormon prophet Joseph Smith apparently ordained black ministers during his time, according to the revised scriptures. This new revelation goes against many years of anti-black and pro-slavery beliefs previously supported by the church.

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The ban on African-Americans serving in the church and from black women worshiping in their temples began in the late 1840s and was instigated by Brigham Young. The ban lasted until 1978 when the church announced that a “spiritual revelation” called for it to be changed.

Whilst there is no apology or admission of wrongdoing that goes along with this change it marks a step in the right direction to the goal of accepting blacks in the church.

“Early in its history, church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice,” the passage reads. “Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance.”

Mormon scholar Terryl Givens who believes the changes show signs of a more modern Mormon Church says that another revision to the Mormon book of Doctrine and Covenants reads, “monogamy is God’s standard for marriage unless he declares otherwise,” thus changing from the original polygamy.

“In many ways, what we’re seeing with these changes is the privileging of history over theology in some ways,” Givens said. “It’s a kind of acknowledgement that the Mormon Church is rooted in a past that is replete with historical claims. And it’s a magnificent thing for a church to allow professional historians to have a lead role in the way that scripture is presented and its story is told.”

Givens went on to speak about the change in polygamy, “I think that one could read that almost as an inversion of many Mormons’ historical understanding of plural marriage,” he said.


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