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The Mormon Church has revised scriptures that were previously used to justify a ban on black men serving within the church.
A new edition of the scriptures was released on March 1 now mentions that Mormon prophet Joseph Smith ordained black ministers in his time, redacting years of anti-black and pro-slavery messages supported by the church.
After Smith’s death, The Mormon Church implemented a ban preventing black men from entering into priesthood and black women from worshiping at temples. That ban lasted from the mid-1800s to 1978, when the church announced that a “spiritual revelation” called for its reversal.
Now, 35 years removed from the ban, the church seems ready to accept that the original reasons behind the ban were not driven by spirituality, and instead were tied to American politics and racism. The introduction to the portion of the scripture regarding the 1978 revelation no longer attempts to justify the ban. While the statement is far from an admission of wrongdoing, or an apology, it is a step towards greater acceptance of blacks in the church.