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  • Originally published 03/09/2013

    Mormons acknowledge their black history

    Both Elijah Abel and Walker Lewis were black, which meant that they bore the “Mark of Cain” in Mormon theology. Both, however, also held the priesthood and all of its blessings that their descendants were later denied—Abel in 1836 and Lewis in 1843. A statement released last Friday, which includes what RD’s Joanna Brookscalls “the most significant changes made to Mormon scripture since 1981,” acknowledges the existence of these men and their place with respect to Church liturgical rites. The statement also furthered the idea that nobody knows why the ban on blacks existed in the first place, concluding that “Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice.”