Pastor to Pastor: President Hinckley’s Personal Apology for Racism in the Church

Read for the article by Maragaret Blair Young. Here are excerpts:

“Yes, there are children of light and children of darkness, but the distinction is not based on skin color, but on their reception of the Word. And even with the children of darkness who turn away from the Word, God works earnestly for their repentance from their evil ways. God yearns for their return unto the embrace of Creation” (Pastor Cecil Murray in Twice Tested by Fire).

Just before Pastor Murray came to BYU, he met with Gordon B. Hinckley. In that meeting, President Hinckley offered him an apology for the LDS Church’s participation in slavery and in racism—using the same spirit Pastor Murray had urged me to use when I approached my angry son. In truth, Dr. Murray himself had some cause for anger; he had personally been confronted by the past Mormon teaching that Blacks were cursed. In an email on April 7, 2007, he told me, “In the Air Force I first encountered this teaching when stationed at Thule, Greenland, and lodging with two Mormons. They reminded me of this teaching constantly.”

Certainly, many things led President Hinckley to speak boldly against racism during April Conference, 2006. Perhaps Pastor Murray even had an effect. President Hinckley said: “[N]o man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ . . . How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color, is ineligible?”

This is the tribute Pastor Murray paid to his fellow pastor, President Gordon B. Hinckley:

President Hinckley is a true messenger of our Lord. Two years ago, I was invited to Salt Lake City by the LDS Church, and President Hinckley took his personal time to sit with our small group that was touring the many ministries and apologized to me in front of the group. That was amazing! Now the [LDS] Church pushes Blacks to learn their lineage via the Church. That will open eyes and doors that will open new avenues of life.

See in the Long Trailer where Pastor Murray recounts his conversation with President Hinckley.


18 thoughts on “Pastor to Pastor: President Hinckley’s Personal Apology for Racism in the Church”

  1. Wow, don’t know much about the Mormon church of the past, nor do I care. What I do see is the Mormon church today, and that is what’s important to me. They seem to be correcting the “wrongs” of the past and moving forward in a spirit of love and reconciliation.

    I am not Mormon, but I know many wonderful members who are.

    Very impressed with what I am seeing of Mormons in the world today.

  2. The actions of individuals is far less influential than the actions of the organization. The church as a whole needs to make reconciliations. They cannot continue to change history with the whole world watching, they need to make new history. Official announcement(s), support group, and additional segment to gospel principles would be a good start.

  3. If the apology was sincere why didn’t he apologize in the conference while he has the best opportunity, apology for single person changes nothing, the church too apologize, until then LDS church will be the last place for a sane black to go.

  4. I’ve been a member since March 31, 1995. I know that myths that surround the origin of blacks is nothing but the remnants of racism and rationalization of many to justify their Prejudices against people of color. It is however sad that the church has not been more committed in dispelling these myths and teaching the members to denounce these thoughts when they are voiced. To many members are uncomfortable to discuss them and have apologized as well as expressed their relief that the ban was lifted but that they didn’t know how to interact with their black brothers and sisters. Fact is until the church comes out and directly discredits these myths this will continue to cripple its members and and help maintain the level of mistrust that exist among blacks and the church.

  5. Please see and other statements to the church and world. I would also note that President Hinckley’s personal apology to Rev Chip Murray has been widely distributed via the acclaimed documentary “Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons”. Everybody can see it at in the Long Trailer. See also the diverse testimonies on our site and on I would partially agree in that changes in faith may not seem reasonable or sane at first and for many Blacks either joining or working with the LDS Church has been “a last Place” as in most recent. We all can continue to improve in understanding and service.

    Also, I have seen many formal apologies by governments or private groups that are good, but do not change much. So continued improvements in attitudes and actions are more important to me. Thanks for your concern.

  6. I only just read this. I am a white Mormon living in the UK and I have to say that I have not observed any bad feeling among white and black members here either before 1978 or after. We have many black members in the city where I live (as we do other ethnicities) and we all get along well together. It’s a privilege to count many of them as friends. Where God’s love exists, then barriers don’t.

  7. I am a white Mormon living in Salt Lake City, born and raised LDS. I am now in my 50s. I was ALWAYS taught that God is no respecter of persons and that He loves all his children the same regardless of the color of their skin. When President Kimball received the revelation extending the priesthood to all worthy male members of the church, my family CELEBRATED. I currently live in a culturally diverse area, and the priesthood leadership in our Stake has covered many races. My Bishop is a black man, and I love and sustain him as a man who has been called of God.

    I am ashamed to hear of those members of the church who have ever considered themselves somehow better by virtue of the color of their skin. I can only speculate that they do not truly understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Please know that there are many, many members of the church (I daresay the vast majority) who abhor racism in any form.

  8. Some very good comments here. I agree President Hinckley should have made that apology during general conference. I blame this whole ridiculous blacks are inferior doctrine on Brigham Young who came up with a lot of other false doctrines like polygamy, blood atonement and the Adam-God doctrine. He was a racist and a libertine and probably did more damage to the church than any other leader. The church has since had to distance itself from him and undo the damage he left behind. I think many other members and leaders after him were also racist, reflecting the public sentiment at the time, but inexcusable just the same as they should have known better and should have done better. Their own doctrine, which none of them ever refuted proved the blacks are inferior curse false and they never put 2 and 2 together. That doctrine is this: the church has always taught ALL children who die before the age of 8 will automatically go to the highest level of the celestial kingdom. And guess what? Millions upon millions of black children have died before they were eight ever since Brigham came up with this racist policy. Talk about a conflict of doctrine.
    Matter of fact since 1845 more black children under the age of eight have died than now make up the entire current church membership.

  9. Racism was alive and well in mainstream White Christianity long before
    the Mormons came along. It was the Christians who used the Bible to justify
    slavery. When Jos. Smith restored the lost Gospel of Christ all
    people who joined the Mormon church brought their past beliefs with them.
    I am sorry it took the church so long to change. I am Caucasion/Native American and
    grew up in a town 99% Hispanic. I endured racist remarks as well as anti Mormonism.
    And even today I am profiled by police because I am poor and drive an old car so
    cops find reasons to stop me. There is racism in every religion and race, unfortunately.
    We must work together to stamp it out.

  10. I think all of the comments are from honest hearts and minds. I am a black Mormon ( a convert) living in South Africa . I also feel that yes, President Hinckley could have made the apology during General Conference.
    I have read a number of racially offensive statements made by former Church leaders and was greatly disappointed, not to mention hurt. In the mist of my mixed emotions, and doubt about the Church I knew if there was anything I learned from the missionaries, it was the truth that our Heavenly Father is mindful of all of us and does in reality answer our prayers. So with James 1:5 in mind, I asked Him with a sincere and honest heart in prayer about the matter. The answer was, for me, to study the scriptures- The Book of Mormon in particular and to always remember how I felt on my baptismal day. So I studied the scriptures and sooner than later I found my answer in 2 Nephi 26:33, which reads : For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and He doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and He inviteth them all to come unto Him and partake of His goodnes; and He denieth none that come unto Him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and He remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.
    I can not fully express the powerful force with which that particular verse touched and penetrated my heart. After reading the verse I just kneeled (in tears) and express my gratitude to my Father in Heaven for answering my humble prayer. More than anything, I know the Church today is not racist by any degree. I enjoy fellowship with people of different race, I’ve never sensed, seen, or suspect any racism in the Church today. But if anywhere else there be any who treat another race differently, I quote the words of President Hinckley, “[N]o man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ . . . .”
    I feel that all blacks who feel that they can’t join the Church, because it’s racist should consult with our Father in Heaven- the God of Isaac, Abraham, Noah, Moses etc. Who is the same God we worship in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.

  11. The Church is true collectively, the mistakes of men cannot spoil and stop the work of God, when the scripture told us that Christ is the only sinless man who has walked our earth it is true, let us not forget that leaders of organizations are the best project satan pay a whole lot of attention to, beside there will always be difference between prophets who are called to plant and those called to water. May God bless all LDS prophet and presidents and do to them according to his wish this is my humble submission

  12. I really do appreciate the LDS church’s radical change on their stance towards dark skinned people that was there for the first 150 years, but I agree with an above comment…why can’t the church make a heartfelt and humble apology in public? Why does this have to be done privately? Also, here again are the powerful words from President Hinckley from the above article…“[N]o man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ . . .” So then what of Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, John Taylor, and nearly EVERY LDS prophet that was the man closest to God, incapable of leading anyone astray, speaking some of the most terrible and disgraceful things of Africans? According to Hinckley, they were not true disciples of Christ. Seems a little like compartmentalizing and trying to sweep it all under the rug.

  13. I believe that its for everyone to look past color heavenly father loves all of us and if a big conference saying blacks are welcome is needed for you to learn the gospel then thats sad pray and you will revieve your answer because once you open your heart to receive the knowledge and love your life will truly be fulfilled

  14. Let’s Us All Do Some Soul Searching in Our Hearts. And Ask Our Father in Heaven Please Remove this Thing of Satan, Racism from Our Hearts in Jesus Name Amen, Amen, Amen With All the Church saying Hallelujah , Hallelujah Hallelujah!

  15. Please go to the following link for a landmark statement by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Dec 2013:


    See also

    As for President Hinckley’s personal apology, we and others have worked to make it well known.

    As for “leading anyone astray”, I am sure all church leaders have made mistakes as I believe only Jesus led a perfect life. Compare the spiritual ups and downs of the Apostle Peter. As for leading the church, my belief is that the leaders have not lost the authority of the celestial ordinances despite their own imperfections.

  16. “As for President Hinckley’s personal apology, we and others have worked to make it well known.” That work is not evident here. Where is the text of the apology? And where is the official LDS admission of, and apology, for specified acts of racism?

  17. Please see the documentary of “The Untold Story of Black Mormons”. At you can see 9 minute clip on You Tube. About minute 7 is where Rev Chip Murray tells of President Hinckley’s personal apology.

    Please also the December 2013 statement of the church.

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