The First Presidency explains rationale for priesthood ban in a letter to Lowry Nelson.

Jul 17, 1947
George Albert Smith

George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKay, Letter to Lowry Nelson, July 17, 1947, Special Collections & Archives, Merrill-Cazier Library, Utah State University, MSS 17, Box 4, Folder 2, pp. 5–6, accessed May 19, 2022

Heber Meeks, David O. McKay, J. Reuben Clark, Lowry Nelson, George Albert Smith
Lowry Nelson



Office of the First Presidency

Salt Lake City 1, Utah

. . .

July 17, 1947

Dr. Lowry Nelson

Utah State Agricultural College

Logan, Utah

Dear Brother Nelson:

As you have been advised, your letter of June 26 was received in due course, and likewise we now have a copy of your letter to President Meeks. We have carefully considered their contents, and are glad to advise you as follows: We make this initial remark: the social side of the Restored Gospel is only an incident of it; it is not the end thereof. The basic element of your ideas and concepts seems to be that all God's children stand in equal positions before Him in all things. Your knowledge of the Gospel will indicate to you that this is contrary to the very fundamentals of God's dealings with Israel dating from the time of His promise to Abraham regarding Abraham's seed and their position vis-a-vis God Himself. Indeed, some of God's children were assigned to superior positions before the world was formed. We are aware that some Higher Critics do not accept this, but the Church does. ​ Your position seems to lose sight of the revelations of the Lord touching the pre-existence of our spirits, the rebellion in heaven, and the doctrines that our birth into this life and the advantages under which we may be born, have a relationship in the life heretofore. From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been a doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel. Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient patriarchs till now. God's rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous. Modern Israel has been similarly directed. We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this area, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.

Faithfully yours,

Geo. Albert Smith

J. Reuben Clark

David O. McKay


The First Presidency

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