Black Saints in a White Church: Contemporary African American Mormons
Less than 1 of all Mormons percent are African American. Until 1978 they were excluded from the ministry and from temple marriage, and even today only one-third feels that their church understands them. So what attracts African Americans to such a church? Outreach to people of color is sporadic. Upward mobility is not a factor since black members are both rich and poor, educated and semiliterate, urban and rural. Nor do they necessarily embrace white culture when they join this new church.
Jessie L. Embry sees black Latter-day Saints as true converts, with only their individual spiritual experiences and abiding faith to keep them in the pews, while many whites are still ambivalent about their presence in their midst. African American Mormons are pioneers who are paving the way for others to follow. They are generally the first Mormon in their family, the first black in an all-white congregation, and the first person of color to hold a position in their ward.
What is their overall experience in this church? Answers come from oral history interviews and mailed surveys. Not surprisingly, many tell of discrimination, both subtle and overt. Yet Embry sees signs that stereotypes are disappearing and that differences are beginning to be appreciated. She is, in fact, encouraged by the degree of acceptance in such a short time.
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In June 1978 the Mormon Church lifted a barrier to blacks from holding full membership. While this announcement is regarded as one of the most important revelations in the history of the Church of ... Read full review
BLACK CHURCHES IN AMERICA
THE LDS CHURCH AND AFRICAN AMERICANS
IMPACT OF THE LDS NEGRO POLICY
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