As of Friday, Dec. 6, the Mormon Church has officially renounced the doctrine that brown skin is a punishment from God.

In the “Book of Mormon,” (not the musical but the actual sacred text) dark skin is a sign of God’s curse, while white skin is a sign of his blessing. The book tells of a conflict between two lost tribes of Israel, the Lamanites and Nephites, who journeyed to the New World and made their home in Mesoamerica. The Lamanites sinned against God, and “because of their iniquity. …the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). Later, when Lamanites became Christians, “their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites” (3 Nephi 2:15).

These verses were thought to explain the dark skin of Native Americans. In 1960, Church apostle Spencer W. Kimball suggested at the general conference that Native Americans who converted to Mormonism were gradually becoming lighter skinned:

I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today… The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised.