OD 2: Wot Seminary Sez

For many years, the Lord instructed the prophets that those of Black African descent could not receive the priesthood or the ordinances of the temple. The Brethren said that the reasons for this restriction had not been fully revealed. But they taught that these children of Heavenly Father would someday receive these blessings. (See First Presidency letter, Dec. 15, 1969; in Church News, Jan. 10, 1970, 12.) — D&C Teacher Resource Manual, p.272.

Here is the letter referred to and which CES seems to deem the most authoritative statement on the matter (emphases mine):

December 15, 1969

To General Authorities, Regional Representatives of the Twelve, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, and Bishops.

Dear Brethren:

In view of confusion that has arisen, it was decided at a meeting of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to restate the position of the Church with regard to the Negro both in society and in the Church.

First, may we say that we know something of the sufferings of those who are discriminated against in a denial of their civil rights and Constitutional privileges. Our early history as a church is a tragic story of persecution and oppression. Our people repeatedly were denied the protection of the law. They were driven and plundered, robbed and murdered by mobs, who in many instances were aided and abetted by those sworn to uphold the law. We as a people have experienced the bitter fruits of civil discrimination and mob violence.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States was divinely inspired, that it was produced by “wise men” whom God raised up for this “very purpose,” and that the principles embodied in the Constitution are so fundamental and important that, if possible, they should be extended “for the rights and protection” of all mankind.

In revelations received by the first prophet of the Church in this dispensation, Joseph Smith (1805-1844), the Lord made it clear that it is “not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.” These words were spoken prior to the Civil War. From these and other revelations have sprung the Church’s deep and historic concern with man’s free agency and our commitment to the sacred principles of the Constitution.

It follows, therefore, that we believe the Negro, as well as those of other races, should have his full Constitutional privileges as a member of society, and we hope that members of the Church everywhere will do their part as citizens to see that these rights are held inviolate.
Each citizen must have equal opportunities and protection under the law with reference to civil rights.

However, matters of faith, conscience, and theology are not within the purview of the civil law. The first amendment to the Constitution specifically provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

The position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints affecting those of the Negro race who choose to join the Church falls wholly within the category of religion. It has no bearing upon matters of civil rights. In no case or degree does it deny to the Negro his full privileges as a citizen of the nation.

This position has no relevancy whatever to those who do not wish to join the Church. Those individuals, we suppose, do not believe in the divine origin and nature of the church, nor that we have the priesthood of God. Therefore, if they feel we have no priesthood, they should have no concern with any aspect of our theology on priesthood so long as that theology does not deny any man his Constitutional privileges.

A word of explanation concerning the position of the Church.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owes its origin, its existence, and its hope for the future to the principle of continuous revelation. “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”

From the beginning of this dispensation, Joseph Smith and all succeeding presidents of the Church have taught that Negroes, while spirit children of a common Father, and the progeny of our earthly parents Adam and Eve, were not yet to receive the priesthood, for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man.

Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, “The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God….

Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man’s mortal existence, extending back to man’s pre-existent state.

President McKay has also said, “Sometime in God’s eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the priesthood.”

Until God reveals His will in this matter, to him whom we sustain as a prophet, we are bound by that same will. Priesthood, when it is conferred on any man comes as a blessing from God, not of men.

We feel nothing but love, compassion, and the deepest appreciation for the rich talents, endowments, and the earnest strivings of our Negro brothers and sisters. We are eager to share with men of all races the blessings of the Gospel. We have no racially-segregated congregations.

Were we the leaders of an enterprise created by ourselves and operated only according to our own earthly wisdom, it would be a simple thing to act according to popular will. But we believe that this work is directed by God and that the conferring of the priesthood must await His revelation. To do otherwise would be to deny the very premise on which the Church is established.

We recognize that those who do not accept the principle of modern revelation may oppose our point of view. We repeat that such would not wish for membership in the Church, and therefore the question of priesthood should hold no interest for them. Without prejudice they should grant us the privilege afforded under the Constitution to exercise our chosen form of religion just as we must grant all others a similar privilege. They must recognize that the question of bestowing or withholding priesthood in the Church is a matter of religion and not a matter of Constitutional right.

We extend the hand of friendship to men everywhere and the hand of fellowship to all who wish to join the Church and partake of the many rewarding opportunities to be found therein.

We join with those throughout the world who pray that all of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ may in due time of the Lord become available to men of faith everywhere. Until that time comes we must trust in God, in His wisdom and in His tender mercy.

Meanwhile we must strive harder to emulate His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, whose new commandment it was that we should love one another. In developing that love and concern for one another, while awaiting revelations yet to come, let us hope that with respect to these religious differences, we may gain reinforcement for understanding and appreciation for such differences. They challenge our common similarities, as children of one Father, to enlarge the out-reachings of our divine souls.

Faithfully your brethren,
The First Presidency

To my mind, there are several points of note. The church:

  • claimed to have favoured civil rights for blacks.
  • suggested that it held a 19th century anti-slavery position.
  • wanted its priesthood policy to be seen in terms of its own first amendment rights.
  • claimed that the priesthood ban was taught by Joseph Smith.
  • felt it necessary to make it clear that blacks were spirit children of God, and descendants of Adam and Eve.
  • believed that the priesthood ban was God’s will and came through revelation.
  • did not claim to know the reason for the ban.
  • claimed that the ban originated in the pre-existence.
  • prayed that the ban would one day be lifted.

Of the 1969 milieu, Mauss writes:

During this period, President Brown moved once again for an administrative decision to drop the priesthood ban. Presumably he was joined by President Tanner, his nephew and colleague in the First Presidency. Throughout the latter part of 1969, Brown strove vigorously to win the concurrence of President McKay, whom he knew to share his view that the priesthood ban could properly be ended administratively. However, McKay was by then fading fast toward his death the next January, and he was not often physically capable of sustained deliberations. The decision-making process this time was complicated not only by President McKay’s condition, but also by the fact that the First Presidency had by that time temporarily acquired five counselors, rather than the usual two

While we cannot be sure just how much resistance President Brown encountered among the rest of the General Authorities, the other counselors in the First Presidency at that time were Joseph Fielding Smith, Alvin R. Dyer, and Harold B. Lee, all of whom were on record with conservative views on the race question. In any case, the public statement that ultimately issued from all these deliberations was not an announcement of an end to the priesthood ban against blacks, as President Brown and Tanner had proposed, but rather the letter of 15 Dec. 1969, which, while promising eventual change, actually only reaffirmed the traditional policy. As in 1963, President Brown may have allowed his optimism in the deliberations to spill over into his public utterances, for he was widely quoted in the press during December 1969, as intimating imminent change. The change was not yet to come, however, and President McKay died on 18 Jan. 1970, thereby dissolving the entire First Presidency. A week later, the new president of the Church, Joseph Fielding Smith, assured the world at a formal news conference that his views on church policy and doctrine had “never been altered” and that no changes should be expected.

Anticlimatic as this episode may seem, it would be a mistake to overlook the significance of the document it produced. The December 1969 statement of the First Presidency (signed only by Presidents Brown and Tanner “for” the First Presidency) dealt with the theological basis of the priesthood ban for the first time in twenty years. This portion of the statement is notable for its parsimony: While referring back vaguely to a premortal life, it said nothing about that life, nothing about the war in heaven, or about any differential merit having implications for mortality. It said nothing about Cain or Ham or marks or curses or perpetual servitude. It relied almost entirely on the simple claim that the Church had barred Negroes from the priesthood since its earliest days “for reasons which we believe are known to God, but which He has not made fully known to man.” Thus, in its first official statement on the controversy in nearly a generation, the Church chose to set aside almost the entire doctrinal scaffolding that had bolstered its priesthood policy toward blacks for more than a century.

Comments

  1. Sorry for the large quotes, but I think that the primary sources are necessary in this case.

    It is interesting to see that whilst the letter contains points with which I would disagree, Mauss demonstrates that it was quite a radical document. It authoritatively shunted the folklore from the equation, thus removing “almost the entire doctrinal scaffolding” for the ban.

    It consequently invented a new doctrine, however, one with which we still live (note CES’ reliance on the letter), viz., that the ban was inexplicable but still revelation. I don’t think either of these things are true (it is explicable — the ban had always been tied to the Ham curse; it was not a revelation, or at least there is no evidence that it was and the Brethren eventually came to realise this).

    That said, we owe much gratitude to Hugh B. Brown.

  2. lamonte says:

    Ronan – Thanks for this revealing post giving further evidence, in my mind at least, that the priesthood ban was nothing more than a product of common bigotry practiced by otherwise respectable citizens everywhere. All of the well-intentioned words of comfort – “We feel nothing but love, compassion and…appreciation for…the ernest strivings of our Nego brothers and sister.” – ring hollow while in the previous breath asserting our Constitutional right (I thought we were a world-wide church and not guided by the laws of just one nation) to continue this practice because “we BELIEVE this work to be directed by God.” For me it would have been more convincing if we KNEW this to be the case.

    As you said, we owe much gratitude to Hugh B. Brown for his leadership in helping this correction to come about.

  3. a random John says:

    This is very interesting. I’m trying to understand the logic of:

    This position has no relevancy whatever to those who do not wish to join the Church. Those individuals, we suppose, do not believe in the divine origin and nature of the church, nor that we have the priesthood of God. Therefore, if they feel we have no priesthood, they should have no concern with any aspect of our theology on priesthood so long as that theology does not deny any man his Constitutional privileges.

    It seems to me that if I was an outsider that did not believe in the authenticity of the Church that the racist policies of the Church would be concerning because they potentially provide a religious basis for other types of racial discrimination beyond the priesthood ban. Even if the institution doesn’t take racist action beyond the ban it it plausible that its members would use the ban to rationalize their own racism. It seems to me that while you can certainly argue that due to the first amendment the LDS Church can do whatever it wants on this issue you can’t make the argument above that those outside of the Church don’t have a legitimate basis to be critical of the Church’s policies.

    Also, the letter doesn’t do much to address the concerns of those inside the Church that do believe in its divine origin but oppose the ban. I guess the assumption is that they should fall in line or leave.

  4. arJ, no question — racial attitudes within the church were certainly reflected in non-religious activities. Primary Children’s Hospital used to refuse black people who wanted to give blood in order to keep the blood of the Mormon people “pure.” Blacks weren’t allowed to stay in the church’s Hotel Utah. An interesting source for these two points and more along the same lines is Quinn’s biography of J. Reuben Clark. It isn’t necessarily true that such things would not have happened without the priesthood ban and related apocryphal doctrine — such things did happen throughout the American South and occasionally in other areas. But one has to imagine that the presence of racist ideas in the church’s doctrine had to act as a reinforcer on such deplorable decisions.

  5. Proud Daughter of Eve says:

    For many years, the Lord instructed the prophets that those of Black African descent could not receive the priesthood or the ordinances of the temple.

    I’ve known about the priesthood ban but this week is the first I’ve heard that those of “Black African descent” could not go to the temple. It was always my understanding that while they weren’t allowed to have the priesthood, they weren’t denied the blessings of the priesthood either. Can someone please clarify for me?

  6. Steve Evans says:

    Yipes, CES.

  7. PDoE,

    It’s certainly true.

    Given that priesthood and temple are so intertwined, does this surprise you? Can a non-priesthood-holding male go to the temple?

    (The temple ban on black women may be logically less explicable if you don’t believe the temple and priesthood are linked for women too, but it’s still rather clear: pre-1978, black = no priesthood, no temple “priesthood.”) It’s all quite repugnant, obviously.

  8. Left Field says:

    Black members prior to 1978 were permitted to attend the temple for baptisms for the dead, but not endowments or sealings.

  9. There was a black woman in my ward in the late 60s and early 70s who longed to go to the temple, but was refused.

    It was she I thought of first when I heard on the radio in 1978 that the Church had reversed the ban.

  10. Lester Bush:

    This [the temple restriction] was not an unexpected restriction for the men, as only Mormon men holding the Melchizedek priesthood were eligible for the ordinances. However, Brigham Young had to appeal directly to the curse on Cain to extend the restriction to black women, for women normally needed only be in “good standing” to gain access to the temple. Elijah Abel, the anomalous black who had been ordained to the priesthood, was also excluded by President Young because of the curse.

    Abel was convinced of his right to the priesthood and felt that he should be eligible for the temple ordinances. Consequently, on the death of Brigham Young, he appealed his case to John Taylor…

    John Taylor upheld Brigham Young’s ruling…

    Of course, re: women the point is kind of moot because for much of our history, a woman would have found it hard to be endowed unless her husband was also endowed. (Another topic.)

  11. Hegemony says:

    And to think I was taught over again in release time seminary and BYU religion classes that African descendants didn’t have the Priesthood before ’78 only because no one had bothered to ask the Lord about it before that time. Reading these posts over the last couple of weeks has given me a bad taste in my mouth for the lies and dismissiveness of seminary teachers and BYU Church History professors.

  12. All I can say is that I am glad I was born in the 1970′s and have no recollection of this period. My own children are being raised in a different era and will not hopefully be saddled with our racial baggage.

    Its interesting to note that my father had 4 sons that served missions. 2 of us served primarily with Blacks and baptized many of them. Quite a change from our fathers generation.

    I am ashamed of our racial past and grateful for SWK.

    I am also proud that BRM had the courage to admit that he was wrong and provide a MEA Culpa

  13. “Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man’s mortal existence, extending back to man’s pre-existent state.”

    Obviously, DOM didn’t believe the curse of Cain theory.

  14. Kyle,
    To nit-pick, this letter does not tell us much about DOM as it was signed only by Brown and Tanner (DOM was on his way out of mortality). I don’t have Prince’s bio to hand to know if this represented DOM’s view.

  15. It should be noted that, reportedly, Joseph Smith offered to have Jane Manning James sealed to him as a family member. The restriction on black women receiving temple blessings was post that, at least.

  16. as a family member

    ?

  17. I don’t know if it’s family lore, but the story goes the HBB did not want to sign that letter and was forced to more or less.

    I don’t know enough about the intricacies of the situation well enough but it burns me that God gets blamed for so much. Things that clearly need to be examined can go unexamined because we “don’t know God’s will”. It’s true religion and civil law are not to define each other (as they point out in the letter) but it seems useless to ignore one or the other because they’re not the same.

  18. Indeed, Ronan — as a child.

    KyleM, the curse of Cain theory was intimately intermingled with the preexistence in its Mormon version — “less valiance” there justified an ancestral curse here. Bad, bad stuff.

  19. FWIW, my perception of the attitudes of these leaders is influenced by my mother’s description of them – as one of DOM’s secretaries while my father was on his mission. I admire him and the others in his time who refused to let it drop until some time in the distant future but kept it as a part of their regular and passionate prayers – and efforts to “convert” their peers. That’s the vision I got from my mom, at least.

  20. lamonte says:

    #8 Left Field – Even for baptisms for the dead, males are required to hold the priesthood so it seems that all temple ordinances were off limits to males of African decent. The more we talk about it the more regrettable the whole issue was.

  21. Yeah, I thought I remembered “daughter” but I couldn’t remember and couldn’t be bothered to look it up

  22. BTW, a HBB who could be forced to sign something he didn’t want to sign doesn’t fit the description of him I heard growing up. Obviously, it is possbile, but I would doubt it unless verified.

  23. high ranking Mormon men can be forceful Ray, I’m sure of it.

  24. Hegemony, I think we should have compassion on our fellow Saints that simply don’t have the background to understand the history and consequently say things that aren’t particularly accurate.

    Amri, I’m too lazy to look it up, but was it this letter that HBB was pressured to sign?

  25. Ronan, it was part of the DOM quote, but JNS is right. I failed to remember the common belief that people were born into circumstances based on premortal righteousness.

  26. Eric Russell says:

    I’ve got a crazy story about this, but first let me ask: does anyone know if Jane Manning James ever got sealed to Joseph and Emma as a child after the ban was lifted in 78? If not, why not?

  27. Ray, the story is that HBB was physically unwell at the time and was overpowered by a near-unanimous vote engineered by Harold B. Lee that reversed a prior unanimous vote by everyone other than McKay (who was unwell) and Lee (who was absent — perhaps a strategic cause for the scheduling of the vote) to end the ban at that time.

  28. Jane Manning James was sealed to the Joseph Smith family as a “servant”.
    http://www.signaturebookslibrary.org/neither/neither4.htm fn. 71
    http://www.blacklds.org/mormon/history.html

    I believe she was not permitted to enter the temple for the sealing, but was sealed as a servant by proxy.

  29. JNS,

    I’d like to read more about that voting event. I assume it is in one of the biographies?

  30. Frank, the Greg Prince biography of David O. McKay covers the episode — or, for those of a more audiovisual persuasion, Greg Prince discusses this history in an interview with John Dehlin from about two years ago.

  31. good, thanks!

    It would be very interesting to know what happened that caused such a decisive swing in the vote.

  32. Ah, causation. The historian’s nemesis.

    I offer no warranties on the details of my account above, by the way. By providing access to better sources, I’ve now washed my hands of this…

  33. “I offer no warranties on the details of my account above, by the way.”

    I’m devastated.

  34. My life’s work is complete.

  35. But apparently unwarrantied.

  36. Marjorie Conder says:

    Restricting baptisms for the dead to over 12 year olds and thus boys needing to hold the priestood is of recent origin. I remember my brother and I doing baptisms for the dead when he was 8 and I was 10. Even more out of what could possibly happen today–when I was 9 and my parents were attending a session of the Idaho Falls Temple while on vacation, I talked my way into being able to do baptisms for the dead–no recommend mind you. It was the first time I did baptisms for the dead.

  37. StillConfused says:

    The pronouncement sounds like it was written by a lawyer… and we know how Christ feels about them.

  38. Actually, we know how Mormon and Brigham Young felt about them. Jesus, I would posit, didn’t care for the hypocritical ones, but as to the others – oh, sorry, forgot there are no others. :-) (as I apologize to one of my best friends here in this part of the vineyard)

  39. As I understand it, the December 1969 letter was a collaborative effort involving Harold B. Lee, Neal A. Maxwell, G. Homer Durham, Hugh B. Brown, and Gordon B. Hinckley. Lee wrote his thoughts on the priesthood policy, and he asked educators Maxwell and Durham to do the same. Lee then asked Gordon B. Hinckley to use the three papers to write a final statement. Hugh B. Brown added the language about civil rights.

  40. The hardest part of this for me is that that list of brethren would actually put into a letter that

    1. the ban originated with JS;
    2. it has its roots in the pre-existence; and
    3. it was based on a revelation.

    Where is the support for those statements? In the absence of any, I am firmly of the belief that those statements are simply not true. Clearly, there were some, including HBB, who acted as though at least the last two of those statements were false, whatever the letter may say.

  41. MCQ,

    The letter was written several years before Lester Bush’s article seriously undermined the historical claims with respect to the ban.

  42. Yeah, I get that Dave, but I wonder about their putting that information into the letter when they clearly had no support for those statements and several of the brethren rather openly disputed them. You’d think they would not have just assumed those statements to be true, but would have engaged in some due diligence before putting them in writing.

  43. After the 1978 Revelation, McConkie clearly said “Forget everything I or Brigham Young or anyone else said about blacks and the priesthood.”

    I interpret this as referring to the racial interpretation used to speculate about why it was God’s will to institute the ban.

    All president’s of the church prayed that the ban would be lifted. This letter says that God never gave a reason for the ban, so the fault may lie in trying to speculate about the reason. Therefore, the consequence of this speculation was the adoption of southern baptist doctine about Cain and Ham which was used to defend slavery.

    Despite my words against speculation, I did hear some speculation that up to now has made the most sense to me. The reason the ban may have been temporarily necessary was not because God is racist, or the prophet; but because we were racist in the church. And our racism inside and outside the church would have destroyed the church.

    I like to think of Christ declaring that someone would betray him to which all his apostles asked “Is it I?”

    It may well be because of our learned racism, that without the ban, none of our prayers in the temple would have effectual because the spirit of the Lord would have been restrained because of a great level of unkind feelings.

    However, the church under the ban was clearly under comdemnation and our prayers are much more effectual now and the windows of heaven are opening up to us since the ban was lifted.

  44. BRoz,

    I think you are making unwarranted assumptions about what Elder McConkie meant when he said: “Forget everything I have said … that is contrary to the present revelation.”  Not every lineage related doctrine previously taught by McConkie was discredited by the revelation.  Elder McConkie himself continued to publish certain things that are considered offensive by some today but which were obviously not offensive to him or his Brethren; not considered “contrary to the [1978] revelation.”

  45. DJMills says:

    In 1966 I sat shoulder to shoulder with Spencer W. Kimball (#3 in the Q-12) in Brazil. It was a small group of mission office elders. He invited us to ask him questions. Unmindful of protocol or decorum, I asked him why blacks could not hold the priesthood (major issue in Brazil). I will never forget his reply: “I don’t know. Furthermore, I would never be the one to promise them they will ever have it in this life.” His candor in not knowing everything was refreshing. The irony of what happened twelve years later with the 1978 Priesthood Revelation is a reminder of who really is in charge of things.

  46. Allegory says:

    “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray.”
    President Wilford Woodruff (considered scripture as it is canonized at the end of the D&C)

    “There is a reason why one man is born black and with other disadvantages, while another is born white with great advantages. The reason is that we once had an estate before we came here, and were obedient, more or less, to the laws that were given us there. Those who were faithful in all things there received greater blessings here, and those who were not faithful received less.” (Doctrines of Salvation, p. 61)
    President Joseph Fielding Smith:

    “We get our truth and light line upon line and precept upon precept (2 Ne. 28:30; Isa. 28:9-10; D&C 98:11-12; 128:21). We have now added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter anymore.” (Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, All Are Alike Unto God, pp. 1-2)

    “I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ, nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man, holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the Priesthood while another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible.” Gordon B. Hinkley General Priesthood Session, April 2007

    Personal thought: If “Blacks” were being punished for actions in the “pre-existance” exactly what was accomplished by the new revelation? Did God just decide that they some of the offenders didn’t need to bepunished anymore? It defies logic.

  47. Allegory says:

    Broz, because of white man’s racism, the Lord chose to punish the black man? What a horrifically introverted and self serving concept.

    Something congruent to your line of thinking would be:

    According to the Old Testament, polygamy is wrong. The church chose to practice polygamy, therefore the church was under condemnation. A man gave this revelation, therefore woman was punished. ???

    Try to think from the outside in rather than to think from the inside out, i.e. coming to irrational conclusion that support your pre-existing beliefes is introverted.

  48. because of white man’s racism, the Lord chose to punish the black man? What a horrifically introverted and self serving concept.

    I cannot agree more.

  49. One of the most moving conversions I have experienced happened last year. An African-American Assistant Minister joined the Church after having some truly miraculous things happen. I’ll never forget two things he told me – among the most succinctly profound utterances I have heard in my life.

    About the ban: God is perfect; we aren’t; I know this is where I belong; nothing else matters.

    About the temple: It feels so much bigger on the inside than it looks from the outside.

  50. Ronan quotes correctly from my 1981 article, “Fading of the Pharoahs’ Curse,” about the struggle in the First Presidency over the nature and content of the December 1969 First Presidency letter. I think I had the situation about right, but my characterization of it needs some revision in light of three more recent treatments of the subject : (1) D.Michael Quinn, Mormon Hierarchy II (Extensions of Power), pages 13-16 (relying in part upon Hugh B. Brown’s biographers); (2) Greg Prince’s recent biography of David O. McKay, esp. Chapter 4, which shows how conflicted McKay was about the situation; and (3) a fascinating article by Gary Bergera in the latest issue of the Journal of Mormon History (Spring 2007) on the various First Presidencies that served with McKay, which indicates (among other things) how “hung up” McKay and others were about the prospect of miscegenation (an obstacle which, in my humble opinion, was responsible for McKay’s failing to get the revelation that he so ardently sought). All interesting additional stuff on this period . . .

  51. These excerpts from various minutes of meetings of the Brethren suggest to me that, as Armand points out, miscegenation was a significant concern of the Brethren. So much so that, at least in 1897, the priesthood was denied a white man who had married a black woman, with a note at the end of the minutes:

    “While there was no formal action taken, this seemed to be the mind of the Council, President [Lorenzo] Snow adding that the way might be opened for the man referred to in the case under consideration to get a divorce from his present wife and marry a white woman, and he would then be entitled to the priesthood.”

    http://www.xmission.com/~research/central/chorg2.htm

    To paraprase JNS in another post, I have not seen the originals of any of the minutes, and cannot vouch that the excerpts posted are accurate.

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