Danor acknowledges certain challenges of race and priesthood that young Black men face when joining the Church. In a private and personal way, he learned that not all past issues need justification if you know the reality of God.

One day early in his investigation into the Church, he told a friend that what the missionaries were teaching felt right to him. He felt something whispering to him that this was what he was looking for. He later learned about the Holy Ghost and was baptized and confirmed.

He soon heard criticisms over past priesthood issues and was shocked. Wondering about the reasoning, he prayed to understand. Seeking the Lord’s voice, he wondered, “Am I not good enough [to hear]?”

In time, “I did hear His voice,” he said. “It was the most beautiful, soft, amazing thing.” To verify what he heard, he asked again. “Yes, my son,” he heard in response.

“I know I’m a son of God, and I know He loves me more than I can stand,” he said. “I don’t need justification for the past. … All I want is a personal relationship [with God].”

Race and the Priesthood

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. God created the many diverse races and ethnicities and esteems them all equally. As the Book of Mormon puts it, “all are alike unto God.”

The structure and organization of the Church encourage racial integration. Latter-day Saints attend Church services according to the geographical boundaries of their local ward, or congregation. By definition, this means that the racial, economic, and demographic composition of Latter-day Saint congregations generally mirrors that of the wider local community. The Church’s lay ministry also tends to facilitate integration: a black bishop may preside over a mostly white congregation; a Hispanic woman may be paired with an Asian woman to visit the homes of a racially diverse membership. Church members of different races and ethnicities regularly minister in one another’s homes and serve alongside one another as teachers, as youth leaders, and in myriad other assignments in their local congregations. Such practices make The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints a thoroughly integrated faith.

Despite this modern reality, for much of its history—from the mid-1800s until 1978—the Church did not ordain men of black African descent to its priesthood or allow black men or women to participate in temple endowment or sealing ordinances.

The Church was established in 1830, during an era of great racial division in the United States. At the time, many people of African descent lived in slavery, and racial distinctions and prejudice were not just common but customary among white Americans. 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. From the beginnings of the Church, people of every race and ethnicity could be baptized and received as members. Toward the end of his life, Church founder Joseph Smith openly opposed slavery. There has never been a Churchwide policy of segregated congregations. (Read the rest of this article on ChurchOfJesusChrist.org)


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