“The God of the White Man Is the God of the Black Man:” Ellen White Against Discrimination in the SDA Church

Religious indifference to social justice is an attack on Christ. Words alone are not enough; it is actions that help destroy racism. I deeply believe that there must be historical reparation by the General Conference, and an apology for its racist attitude toward African Americans. Ellen White continued to work hard until her death in 1915 to bring social justice to people of color. BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Slavery had been abolished in 1865 in the United States. The end of the Civil War opened a new phase in the lives of African Americans. However, although they were no longer slaves, social justice for the newly freed slaves would take more than 100 years. In the southern states, the epicenter of slavery, after emancipation African Americans lived in deplorable conditions, had no access to health care, depended on the meager wages their former masters provided — they were still exploited — and had no access to formal education.

Some Americans apparently saw the emancipation of slaves as the end of the cause of abolitionism in the 19th century. However, concepts of social justice needed to be applied to the new African American citizens. While many white people favored abolishing slavery, they did not believe that African Americans were equal citizens with white people. And the U.S. government had little concern about the status of newly liberated African Americans in the 19th century.

I read some publications that rightly exalt the position of pioneers like Ellen White against slavery and racism. While the pioneers had a progressive theology on social and religious issues, unfortunately not all Adventists held the banner of social justice. Ellen White's words, "The God of the white man is the God of the black man," are part of a frank, direct, and crude speech against the General Conference leaders in 1891, entitled "Our Duty to the Colored People.” Racial indifference is the worst aftermath of slavery.

Social status and race do not determine human value

“How our laborers in the south shall deal with the ‘color line’?” The GC's reaction and methods of working with African Americans were based on the issue of race and discrimination. Ellen White began her speech by talking about how valuable humans are to God: “The Lord has given us light concerning all such matters. There are principles laid down in His Word that should guide us…. The Lord Jesus came to our world to save men and women of all nationalities. He died just as much for the colored people as for the white race [quoted Luke 4:18-19].”

“The Redeemer of the world was of humble parentage,” Jesus left His majestic condition to become a humble servant of humanity. White continued, “He chose a life of poverty and toil [quoted 2 Corinthians 8:9 and Luke 9:58]…. He dwelt among the lowly of the earth…. Their moral worth is not determined by their worldly possessions, their real estate or bank stock. It is the humble, contrite heart that God values…. The attributes that He prizes most are purity and love, and these are possessed only by the Christian.”

The principle of the apostle Paul (Romans 1:14) can be achieved by Christians only when they imitate the humble character of Jesus.

Ellen White stated to the GC leaders her position against racism: “I know that which I now speak will bring me into conflict. This I do not covet, for the conflict has seemed to be continuous of late years; but I do not mean to live a coward or die a coward, leaving my work undone. I must follow in my Master’s footsteps. It has become fashionable to look down upon the poor and upon the colored race in particular.” Social status or skin colour do not make a person miserable, but the attitude of discrimination does. White said: “The color of the skin does not determine character in the heavenly courts.”

We are brothers

“All ye are brethren,” were the divine words that Ellen White heard in her prayer. She went on to say that black people “should have just as much respect as any of God’s children. Those who have spoken harshly to them or have despised them have despised the purchase of the blood of Christ…. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth trough the spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently [quoted Colossians 3:9-11].”

What makes us different before God? Ellen White answered: “The God of the white man is the God of the black man, and the Lord declares that His love for the least of His children exceeds that of a mother for her beloved child…. He loves them all, and makes no difference between white and black, except that He has a special, tender pity for those who are called to bear a greater burden than others.” Whether rich, poor, Black, or white, Jesus paid the price for each one equally: “All are one in Christ. Birth, station, nationality, or color cannot elevate or degrade men. The character makes the man [quoted Matthew 25:34 and Revelation 2:7]… They [white people] are not sanctified through the truth. Those who slight a brother because of his color are slighting Christ.”

In addition, Ellen White emphasized that racial prejudice, whether inherited or cultivated, disappears from the Christian who becomes one with Christ: “If a colored brothers sits by their side, they [white people] will not be offended or despise him. They are journeying to the same heaven, and will be seated at the same table to eat bread in the kingdom of God.”

The aftermath of slavery

Ellen White considered the consequences of slavery — ignorance, illiteracy, and moral decay among African Americans — to be the responsibility of white men. Social justice could only begin with recognizing the damage white men caused to people of color. She believed that the only way to repair this terrible damage was to restore dignity, equality, and education to African Americans.

“Are we not under even greater obligation to labor for the colored people than for those who have been more highly favored? Who is it that held these people in servitude? Who kept them in ignorance, and pursued a course to debase and brutalize them, forcing them to disregard the law of marriage, breaking up the family relation, tearing wife from husband, and husband from wife? If the race is degraded, if they are repulsive in habits and manners, who made them so? Is there not much due to them from white people?”

The church commits sin when it uses racism to give priority to white and wealthy people: “Sin rests upon us as a church because we have not made greater effort for the salvation of souls among the colored people. It will always be a difficult matter to deal with the prejudices of the white people in the south and do missionary work for the colored people. But the way this matter has been treated by some is an offense to God…. You have no license from God to exclude the colored people from your places of worship.”

Racism must be confronted!

Ellen White condemned the General Conference leaders' neglect of mission among people of color in the U.S. South. GC leaders were more interested in expanding Adventist work in Europe and the northern United States. She advised the preparation of white men and women to work among African Americans, as well as pastors of color. She urged them to educate and liberate through the gospel.

Ellen White urged that Adventist missionaries should not fear the racial prejudice of white men in the South, nor should it be an excuse for not working for African Americans. White ended her speech by challenging the GC leadership: “Let none of those who name the name of Christ be cowards in His cause. For Christ’s sake stand as if looking within the open portals of the city of God.”

“The rebuke of God is upon the management”

Ellen White's speech was not well received by the GC leaders, and was the last straw for the organization's patience. That same year (1891), Ellen White was "banished" to Australia. And the warnings against racism and indifference to African Americans were ignored by Adventist leaders, and the attitude of the GC reached shameful dimensions.

The impact of the General Conference's indifference was felt by Edson White's work among African Americans in the South. Ellen White strongly supported her son's missionary plans from Australia, plans that began with self-funding. Edson White and Will Palmer built the ship The Morning Star. The boat served as a mobile school, had a chapel, a printing press, and rooms for the missionary personnel. They sailed down the Mississippi River preaching to African Americans and teaching them to read and write. This earned them threats of lynching by white people in Mississippi and the occasional attempt by white men to hang Edson.

Work among African Americans in the South was of little importance to the GC. The funds raised by Edson were threatened. The weekly salary paid to Edson by the GC was $8 (today $250, about $1,000 a month), a large difference from the salary of a pastor in Battle Creek, who was paid $30 a week (today $944, about $3,776 for month). Over time, the GC diverted offerings to African Americans in the South to other projects.

Ellen White, upon learning of Edson's financial problems, decided to support him by writing several articles to promote the collection of offerings for the work in the South.[1] $11,000 was collected,[2] of which not a penny made it to Edson's mission. Upon learning this, Ellen White wrote a letter on July 24, 1895 to the "Brethren in Responsible Positions in America.”[3]


The theme of social justice and the exaltation of the gospel dominated White's thinking. She wrote, “I am deeply concerned in regard to the disregard of warnings and appeals that have been made by the Spirit of God through the humble instrument… That priest and Levite [she quoted the parable of the Good Samaritan] represent many, many in Battle Creek. Will our brethren explain what their course means? Will the men in charge of the work of God sense their neglect? Will the people in Battle Creek show how much of zeal, of true missionary spirit, they have been receiving?”

Ellen White told the General Conference leaders: “Human beings, who are the Lord’s by creation and by redemption, have been left for wolves to devour, while you have felt at ease, eating from the abundant supply God gave you to share with those in need.… Those who have been feeding from a well-supplied table do not allow even the crumbs that fall from the table to be bestowed on the colored people.… God has been teaching me, and I will not rest, I dare not hold my peace.”

In her letter, she appealed to common sense and she did not tolerate the GC's shameful attitude toward African Americans: “The rebuke of God is upon the management for their partiality and selfish appropriation of His goods.”


Notes & References:

[1]Ellen White, “Duty of Man to His Fellow-Men”, Review and Herald, 1895; idem, “Ask, and Ye Shall Receive”, RH, 1895; idem, “An Appeal for the Southern Field”, RH, 1895. Fueron publicados tres partes del mismo artículo: 26 de noviembre, 3 y 10 de diciembre; idem, “An Example in History”, RH, 1895; idem, “The Bible the Colored People’s Hope”, RH, 1895; idem, “Spirit and Life for the Colored People”, RH, 1896; idem, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper?”, RH, 1896;idem,  “Lift Up Your Eyes and Look on the Field”, RH, 1896; idem, “Volunteers Wanted for the Southern Field”, RH, 1896. 

[2]Ciro Sepúlveda, Elena G. de White: Lo que no se conto (Doral, FL: IADPA, 2000), 199.

[3]Ellen White to “Brethren in Responsible Position in America, Letter 5, july 24, 1895.


Daniel A. Mora is from Venezuela. He is an editor and writer trained in theology. He writes about issues such as feminism, immigration, racism and social justice.

Image: Edson White’s ship The Morning Star. Courtesy of the Ellen G. White Estate.


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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10719

Has this been repaired yet?

Has the church or government recognized, acknowledged, and worked to make this right?


There have been some great articles on this issue. I tend to agree.
I’m feeling some disappointment that Native Americans are missing from these discussions. Is the plight of these people deemed less than that of Blacks?


The warning and admonition given to our forefathers in clear and unambiguous language is as true today as ever. Brethren who resist the Holy Spirit and deny that the results of slavery still echo today in our society are as the author points outs doing the same to Jesus. We see the results today in our own church to this day in various ways as well as women (a different yet important topic) being equal. This is a grievous and terrible sin we commit should we ignore and or with some vehement language deny what God has allowed to be voiced in our society today.

The voices that cry out that Black Lives Matter are not false prophets nor are they ingrates and traitors against America. They are only the latest to make the case against abuse and to point out the systemic racism that enables this to be.

Though there have been some efforts on occasion America has, since the emancipation, largely and willfully neglected to enforce the rights of and fully embrace black people. The 60’s saw a start in the right direction but left much work undone to educate the public of the value of Blacks in our society as equals and to ensure that they are not denied economic or lawful protections afforded whites.

We do well to repent as a nation and a church for these sins and make tangible and immediate efforts that both demonstrate this change of thinking and implement them. While some of this changes are incredibly easy while others will require more complex efforts but change we MUST!

Easy changes are that jogging/driving/standing/walking/wealth are not cause for suspicion or harassment (fines or false imprisonment on trumped up charges) or extrajudicial killings of Black Americans by either white (pick your color) citizens or authorities. Abolition of oppressive laws, fines, that are by any measure are designed to affect the poor or minorities ensuring a cycle of poverty and injustice. Governance so that things like under valuation of property owned by Blacks, white only mortgages, etc. can be enforced. Education that includes black or minority accomplishments in society as opposed to the virtually white only people of note in the history of America we all grew up with in schools. I haven’t included everything but tried to demonstrate it is possible to do so.

We are ignorant no longer. God in His mercy has made the issue plain and has called us to action which if ignored will be called to account in the day of judgement by those who choose continue in denial and work against His will.


Though I am tired of this theme (racism) being discussed over and over again lately, I thought that I would highlight your statement, because “it is what it is,” a solid and clear description of truth and reality. The problem is not BLM, the problem is systemic racism and discrimination. BLM is just a symptom, but many people attack it fiercely only to distract others’ attention from the real problem: racism!


This is the year 2020. How many years are you going to wait for that apology from the GC? It’s time to move on brother. Forgiveness is very healing. The World Church has grown well beyond the context of the historical period referenced. The World Church consists of many who live in 3rd world countries who have no sympathy for the plight of the American blacks who represent the most affluent group of blacks in the world. Many would gladly trade places. If anything, the NAD is the offending body as it governs over what was the GC of 1865. Today the NAD president is Black, The Southern Union President is Black. Of course all the Regional Conferences have Black Presidents. I don’t know what would qualify as an acceptable apology.

Was this a mistake?
What apology? I am not waiting for any apology from the GC.
You really lost me on this one…

Sadly, we have Christian Nationalists within our own Church who, in joining hands with other evangelicals, are furious with any notion that “systemic racism” might exist in America. At the alt-right Fulcrum7 blog, for example, one of the leaders shared this in regard to the new ADCOM statement on human relations:

"…issuing the statement at this time unfortunately is, and will be seen to be, acceding to the evil forces that are currently gaslighting Americans into thinking that their country is “systemically racist.” That is a vicious lie that is being told in furtherance of an horrific political agenda."

When I shared with this individual a massive compilation of evidence regarding systemic racism in our law enforcement and legal systems from >100 studies conducted by academics, journalists, state and federal government leaders, and others, the response was chilling:

"Sadly, academic “science” in America is almost as dominated by Marxists as are the humanities. Its academic establishments are destroying America. If an abyss opened beneath every college and university in America, the United States would be almost infinitely better off. Because I have a life to live, I don’t have time to plow through all the garbage studies you or some Soros-funded Leftist activist has marshalled [sic] in support of perverse and evil goals like abolishing the police or simply refusing to prosecute crime (which is what an astonishing number of Soros-backed local prosecutors refuse to do)."

To put it bluntly, many among us are so certain of their discernment of “fact” that no data (statistics), evidence, or science can persuade them to believe otherwise. Anything counter to their (inexplicably informed) perception can only be a vicious lie. Fortunately, even at that blog there are individuals who hold different views. Although some minds can never be changed, we must continue the messaging of God’s equal grace to all.


Good article. I’ve had my disagreement with things EGW wrote, but on what you’ve quoted here from her is right on the money. Which speaking of money, you left out that she quietly sent some of her tithe directly to the work on behalf of black people, and underpaid black ministers in the South, thus bypassing the general conference that was mostly unresponsive to her pleas.


Until we understand our secret feelings in our hearts of stone, we will never truly face the race question. Self-deceived people do not think that they harbor racism and they cannot see it when they spew it out of their lips.

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This, really, should be the starting point for any comments on this complicated issue.

" I deeply believe that there must be historical reparation by the General Conference, and an apology for its racist attitude toward African Americans." First paragraph of the article. The writer believes that the GC must produce an apology.

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Sorry George, I didn’t mean to reply to you in the post.

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Not gonna happen. Ever.

Don’t be sorry man. I got your idea, and just responded to it in a way that actually exacerbates your point. I agree with you.
Maybe I sounded negative toward your comment, but the intention was the opposite. We are good! “Believe me, be;ieve me”… LOL

Because, after all, it’s been a whole summer…

There: That should take care of it!


If so, they would have to start at 1619, and do a quarter-millennium of cruel, chattel slavery; i.e., no cutting in line.

An acceptable apology is whatever would set Black people on an equal footing with white people, who are the gold standard, economically on this land mass.

This would be done by, perhaps, siphoning from their ill-gotten gains, these derived from, do, the quarter-millennium of free labor that turned this continental wilderness/swamp into a paradise.


I arrived late to this discussion. I trust that I’m not just repeating what others have said.

I agree with the statements of Mrs.White on racism,
even though the country has changed since her time.
Racism IS an affront to God and man.

Racism is antiChristian despite the fact that the Bible unfortunately condones slavery of all Gentile races and therefore indirectly condones racism. (Leviticus 25:45,46) https://biblehub.com/leviticus/25-46.htm
Currently popular modern theory of race, embodied in “Critical Race Theory”, correctly teaches that racism can be an inherent attitude that we learn from childhood. But it goes further than that:

Critical Race Theory as it is generally taught claims that all White people are inherently and irredeemably racist simply because they were born White, and fails to address that Black people can be at least as racist as White people. Anyone who has watched the news lately will have to admit that a great many Black folk, (but not all Black folk), are actually considerably more violently racist than average White folk. This observation is not meant to minimize racism by Whites, but to condemn racism by all people including Blacks.

I hear a lot of condemnation of White people’s racism in this blog, but an apparent total lack of concern for the overt racism, mayhem, rioting, and violent, organized crime by BLM and Antifa. There sadly seems to be a consensus here that if White people would only grovel sufficiently that the Black racists would be satisfied. That is a false assumption. They weren’t satisfied when White people helped elect Pres. Obama. And no amount of affirmative action or apologizing from the Adventist GC will lift all of them from poverty and wretchedness. Affirmative Action is a failure, as evidenced by the protesting and violent rioting we have seen.

Christianity teaches 3 things about race:
1)All races are created from one blood.
Acts 17:26 https://biblehub.com/acts/17-27.htm.
2)As evidenced at the Tower of Babel, God thinks the different Peoples should live unto themselves instead of being conjoined under One World Government.
3)God wants all races to live in peace and harmony; and if you desire to live in His Heaven someday, you must strive to live in peace and harmony here on Earth.

Point #3 applies also to the people who want to create a generational blood feud against all White people whether or not they ever had a slave holder in their ancestry. (I know of no slave holder in my ancestry and I condemn slavery as one of the worst crimes against God and Humanity.). Black people need to lighten up and recognize that for many of them their original betrayal came not from White people, but from the hand of the evil Black King Dahomey and his countrymen who sold countless Black captives into slavery. Many White people have also been sold by other evil men.

Many people see BLM and Antifa as evidence that the Whore of Babylon is successfully working toward a single World Government with no White People, just a blended brown mono-race, overseen by a “city” of Satanic overseers.
(See Rev 17:18 & Rev 11:8 for a description not of BLM and Antifa but of their suspected overseers)

Black lives matter.
Of course they do,
I agree; and their souls matter also.
It’s OK to be White.

Ye shall know the truth
And the TRUTH will set you free.

Deleted post
Will talk later on a different thread

I recently watched a series of 22 videos by a PhD Professor of Biology (Nathaniel T. Jeanson) who is a creationist, and conducting research into the ethnicity of various people groups. This has really turned my thinking around in regards to race relations and racism!

Dr. Jeanson shows that there is only one race–the human race, and that we are all shades of brown in the Black - White spectrum of skin color. He has taken the genetic information used by evolutionists, which is spread out over 100,000 to 200,000 years, and condensed it into the approximate time from Noah and the flood until today. He makes predictions from the genetic changes between people groups, looking for historical events among the people groups indicated in the approximate time frame (plus or minus 200 years).

All of the presentations are great (~45 minutes each), but the first six, and specifically Parts 3 & 4, as well as 6 & 7 would give you a good idea of what he has found. Many Europeans, and by extension North Americans, actually have Mongolian and African genetic markers in their DNA. The history of slavery can actually be seen by the DNA from various people groups around the world. He compares changes in maternal mitochondrial RNA to trace female lineage, and changes to Y chromosomes to trace male lineage.

Here is his page that explains what he is doing. I am also providing a YouTube link to the first in his series. Enjoy!