The church, reacting to comments religion professor Randy Bott made in The Washington Post Tuesday, said Wednesday it does "not tolerate racism in any form." Bott said Mormon scriptures indicated descendants of the biblical figure Cain, who was "cursed" by God, were black and that's why they were banned from the Mormon priesthood, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Thursday.
"The church's position is clear -- we believe all people are God's children and are equal in his eyes and in the church. We do not tolerate racism in any form," the Utah-based church said in a statement posted on its Web site.
"It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began but what is clear is that it ended decades ago," the statement said of the ban on blacks.
Brad Kramer, a BYU graduate and Mormon blogger, said the Mormon Church needs to go further and admit the initial ban was wrong.
"An unwillingness to call the former policy racist and, therefore, wrong, unjustified, harmful, un-Christian and indefensibly regrettable is, however subtly, still fundamentally racist," he wrote. "The priesthood/temple ban is, at present, not just a symptom of a racist past. It is ... an unhealed open wound on the body of a still racist present."