Mitt Romney and “Mormon Racism”

You are Mitt Romney. Or, if you prefer, you are an LDS politician running for the U.S. Presidency other than Mitt Romney. You are at a town meeting, fielding questions from the audience, and you’ve gone on record saying that audience members can ask you any question on any topic they want. Truth be told, you would rather avoid confronting questions that deal with the specific theological tenets of Mormonism, but you are nonetheless asked this question:

Q: “Mr. Romney, much has been made in the media about the content of your faith. Personally, I am a Christian, and while I have some reservations about the doctrines of Mormonism, I am nevertheless considering supporting you. However, I have one concern about Mormonism, and thus about you, that I just can’t shake, so I hope you will address it for me. It is my understanding that until 1978, the Mormon Church prevented Blacks from holding the Mormon priesthood. I also understand that many past Mormon leaders justified this prohibition either by saying that Black people had inherited the Curse of Cain, or that they had refused to valiantly support God’s plan in the Pre-existence, or both. You have said that you support the faith of your fathers, and that you refuse to apologize for your faith, but these racist teachings seem to be part of the content of your faith. Would you please explain your own views as to the theological status of Black people, as well as your view of the past practices of your church, and the rationales employed to justify those practices? What would you say to me, and other potential supporters like me, to assuage our concerns about your possibly holding racist theological ideas?

I ask this question in all seriousness. I don’t think it’s a stretch to imagine someone asking it, or something close to it. I really am interested in what LDS readers would do in this situaton.

(I’ve been thinking about this question for a long time, but I finally thought I’d pose it here after seeing this).

Comments

  1. FWIW, Christopher Hitchens has been asking this question with relentless obnoxiousness for months now.

    It is a fair question to ask.

    It’s also easy to answer. Something like:

    “It was a horrible policy rooted in mistaken beliefs that gradually assumed the status of quasi-official doctrine as various figures tried to defend and rationalize the policy. Ultimately, those rationalizations were demonstrated to have been as errant as the policy itself. I’m in no position to apologize for the past behavior of my Church. I know I personally agonized over the question and experienced enormous relief when the policy was finally, belatedly changes. I assure you that I do not share any of the views that were historically put forth as theological rationales for the policy.”

    That ought to be a fairly sufficient answer for a town hall style Q&A.

  2. er, “belatedly changed…”

  3. I commented on another blog on this issue. Here’s my answer:

    1. The [priesthood] ban was never understood to be permanent, but was a temporary “disability”. However long the ban lasted on this earth, there would be the full blessings in the world to come. As much as we were uncomfortable about the ban, we did have that hope, that in the end things would come out right.

    2. As Elder McConkie said, anything said before 1978 as justification for the ban was based upon limited light–so we can safely disregard it.

    3. Although there surely were racists in the church pre-1978 (and, sad to say, there probably are now too), the evidence of how the church really felt is to be found in the reaction to the revelation: absolute joy, relief, gratitude that the ban had ended! If I was such a racist back then, why did I suddenly, as I heard a familiar Utah accent on WBBM-AM radio in Chicago one beautiful June afternoon, stop being a racist and rejoice in the wonderful news? (Incidentally, the only negative word I ever heard about the issue was from an old guy we home taught, who hadn’t been to church for over 20 years, and, so far as I know, still hasn’t been back.)

    4. For those of us who believed, leaving or protesting weren’t options. The former just wasn’t an option (John 6:68) and the latter isn’t the way the church works. You hoped and you prayed and you wondered and struggled and then you hoped and prayed again.

  4. I have never heard that kind of take on John 6:68.

  5. How about: As Mormons we owe an apology to our black brothers and sisters for a policy that is not defensible. The policy was never grounded in established doctrine. It was not a practice introduced by Joseph Smith, who in fact ordained at least two blacks to the priesthood in his lifetime. Brigham Young effectively instituted the practice and it appears that he shared some of the indefensible views of many in his time. The supposed doctrinal justifications for the practice were not then and never have been doctrine in the LDS Church. I don’t defend that policy now and I should have been more vocal against it before it changed. It likely continued because we revere the mantle of the prophet and a practice can get institutional inertia without any real justification. Thank God it has changed now and we can learn from it to never again exclude any person based upon race. We can learn to appropriately and respectfully question and challenge Church practices and petition heaven for change when we can see that they aren’t defensible and exclude our brothers and sisters.

  6. Who? should go on tour. Great answer!

  7. Mark is there really any proof for your claim that the ban was not intended to be permanent, ever? I think I remember BY saying the opposite,but I’m very ready to be corrected here, and dont’ have time to look it up.

    #5, Who? — you got it perfectly.

    There was a discussion on the local PBS radio station yesterday of the speech (with Jan Shipps as one of the guests)and one of the other guests said that it’s not fair to ask about specific beliefs such as garments, but it is fair to ask about beliefs which will affect a candidate’s performance as president–and I wholeheartedly agree with that. An example might be if a candidate believes that the second coming is nigh– how will she or he treat the environment?

  8. Gov. Romney should say, Thank you for the Question Mr. Cosby, What I can tell you is the reasons why males of african descent were not ordained to the priesthood in my church untill 1978 has not been fully explained.
    Prior to 1978 worthy men of all different ethnicities were ordained to the priesthood but, as you correctly mentioned, black men were excluded.
    Then in a revelation given in 1978 to our then church president the ban on african men holding the priesthood was lifted and I can tell you that I rejoiced at the news. I very clearly remember that day and as the news spread throughout the church we felt great joy and have ever since.
    I want all americans to know and especially african americans, that I am acutely aware of the history of injustice and feelings of rejection many in our society have felt.
    My faith, it’s teachings and it’s history have forever bound me to the principle that we are all God’s children and that we are to treat eachother as such.
    Next question, yes, you in the purple and yellow pant suit is it? Go ahead.

  9. I agree that the pre-1978 ban was likely largely a product of its surroundings, but I do not necessarily agree that it was not doctrinal. Both the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price allude to race-based distinctions of God’s people. Plus prophets spoke on this topic in church-related literature and from the pulpilt repeatedly throughout the history of the church up until the 1970s. Though the actual text of the declaration speaks of the long-promised day, I am unaware of where that promise is..

    #1 – If it was not “doctrine,” then why the need for special prayerful “revelation” by the Prophet in the Temple to lift the ban? If it was just a practice (that became “quasi-doctrinal” as you put it), why not just change the practice the way the church changes meeting schedules, programs, or correlated materials?

    #3 – I have to agree with Paula (#5). My reading of the words of past prophets suggests that they felt this to be a ban that was to last at least until the milennium. Can you point me in the direction of a reference to the temporary nature of the ban? Everything I have read says the opposite (see comments by Young, Taylor, Peterson, McConkie, etc.).

  10. Brad and Who: Those are some of the most effectively succinct statements I’ve read that explain my own feeling on the matter. Excellently put. I hope one of Mitt’s staffers is monitoring the bloggernacle and maybe plagiarizes your responses! You know it will come up in a town hall meeting at some point.

  11. #8 Curious,

    My own close reading of the BoM seems to indicate that the dark skin was not a curse, but a mark to separate the two groups. Two completely different concepts. Given the fact that the Lamanites became more righteous than the Nephites at some times, the color of their skin then had no bearing on their worthiness.

    The “prayerful revelation” was needed most likely because no other prophet had likely considered the need to inquire on it, due to the ingrained cultural views of blacks that have been referenced.

  12. While no question would ever be that long, I would state that Mormon’s inherited racist doctrines from their Christian contemporaries, but that we unfortunately shook them off later. I would express my sadness and regret and my gratitude for the change. Romney can also talk about his families involvement with civil rights.

  13. I actually remember Mitt Romney addressing this issue on Jay Leno months ago. The gist of his statement was that he disagreed with the ban, was overjoyed when it was lifted, and that his family had worked for civil rights.

  14. #10 – MattG

    First, if you review my post, you’ll see that I never used the word “curse.” However, I have to disagree with you regarding cursing vs. separation. See, for example, 2 Ne. 5 (specifically verses 20-25). Verse 23 alone uses the word “curse” (or a derivation of it) three times. Regardless of the basis for the “skin of blackness” mentioned in verse 21, it is mentioned in connection with a curse related to the individual’s acts.

    If you are correct that no other Prophet of God ever even thought to inquire about the subject, that is almost as damning an indictment as the existence of the ban and the historical rhetoric surrounding it. I would hope that every single prophet from the time of Brigham on had inquired of the Lord regarding this subject. What about the notion that the Church should be “in the world, but not of the world”? Why should it take so long after the civil rights movement for inspired prophets of the Lord to recognize the errors of this “practice”? I think it is sad when the Church found itself so far behind the driving forces of society.

    And none of this answers the question of why past prophets, seers, and revelators ever held such seemingly errant views to begin with.

  15. I’m always amazed why discussion of ‘religious racism’ starts and ends with Mormons, ignoring completely that every other major church in America has a ‘racist heritage’ just as deep (if not deeper)…but which no one other than Mormons are called upon to account for.

    It is indeed ironic that other churches gleefully observe that black Mormons couldn’t pass the sacrament until the late 20th century, without mentioning that virtually all of those other churches didn’t even let blacks in the door of the chapel until the civil rights era.

    (How many people recognize that the LDS church is one of the few major churches never to have been segregated…and how many Church members have seriously thought about whether the priesthood ban, in effect, played a part in *avoiding* LDS segregation…unlike most other churches.)

    Mitt would never say this, but here’s my response: “While the previous LDS policy regarding blacks is regrettable and is a fair target for criticism, I should point out that *every* American church (and white non-church-goers, too) share some sort of ‘racist heritage’ including segregation in their past, and if you think Mormons are anywhere near the ‘worst of the worst’ when it comes to how blacks were officially treated either in the pre-Civil War era or now, research your history, look in the mirror, and then come back to me asking for ‘accountability’…”

  16. And none of this answers the question of why past prophets, seers, and revelators ever held such seemingly errant views to begin with.

    How does being called as a prophet magically cause “errant views” to change? Here’s a thought experiment on the matter…

  17. Curious: Isn’t the curse in the Book of Mormon the curse of being “cut off” from God and his people and not a skin of darkness. Look here: http://www.sunstoneonline.com/Download/bom/137_Ostler_Quinn.pdf

    That at least seems to suggest that the curse isn’t a skin of blackness but being cut off from God because of a breach of covenant. The dark skin is just genetic and is neither good nor bad in and of itself.

    Your seem to assume that a prophet is supposed to be someone immune from the prejudices and views of the day. Yet all prophets in the OT, NT and in the restored church reflect the views of their times and places. I suspect that certain views gain currency even though they are not justified and are not based on any revelation . . . and because a past prophet has espoused the view that the assumption of prophetic infallibility gets attached to a view or practice that doesn’t deserve it. In fact, it seems to be the same assumption driving your questions and the view that unless a prophet is in fact infallible there is something seriously wrong. I agree that it is not a good thing that it took so long to change this deplorable policy of exclusion. The great thing is that the institutional inertia was overcome by loving hearts open to heaven.

  18. #15 – I read the thought experiment – I suppose my response would be: “How does being called a prophet NOT cause one’s errant views to change?” As a convert to the church, my previous errant views changed immeasurably after conversion, during a mission, and after hours of prayer and study – and I ain’t no prophet!

    How can the views of one who speaks to God NOT change? I agree that 24 hours after being called might be insufficient, but what about, for example, Elder McConkie who was a 70 for 26 years and an apostle for 13, who spent his life in the service of God, who spent countless hours in the Temple and with the servants of the Lord, and who did all he could to truly live in the Spirit and revelation of God? Are you suggesting, for example, that Elder McConkie’s views were (or should be) exactly the same when he, as a prophet, seer, and revelator, gave his memorable final conference address as when he was a newly minted lawyer? Or returned missionary? Or even the newest 70? If the answer to that is yes, God help us all! And if prophets do not have access to information, insight, and revelation otherwise not available to the rest of the world, what good are prophets? I can listen to any random preacher to get warm fuzzies hearing sermons about Jesus. The Church proclaims to the world that it is different because it has living oracles of God on the earth – not just “inspired” men but divinely authorized men who speak the words of God (see D&C 1:38).

  19. I think many leaders agonized over this policy. To say that every prophet, apostle, or church leader just went along with this policy without questioning and struggling with it is inaccurate from what I’ve read on the topic.

  20. This is a rough subject, because no matter how racist religion has been in the past, most people see 1978 as shockingly recent. It will almost certainly be an issue in the election for Romney because it is part of his history as a member of the church. He was an adult in 1978. Plus, its worth mentioning that it is certainly a possibility that it would be a Romney against Obama election…

    As someone who would rather pretend that the Priesthood ban never existed (and as someone who is much to young to have been around when it did), I would never, ever want to deal with this kind of question. I’m really not all that excited about the prospect of Romney having to deal with it, as ambivalent as I am about his candidacy, because the scrutiny that Romney undergoes, is, on some level, the scrutiny that well all undergo. On so many levels, I’m just not sure I’m ready for that.

  21. OD2 mentions temple blessings. Were blacks also banned from the Temple? If so, why is that never mentioned? Could worthy-black LDS women attend the Temple before 1978?

    “In early June of this year, the First Presidency announced that a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church.”

  22. Suppose the questioner had a copy of _Mormon Doctrine_ with him (it’s still very available at LDS bookstores) AND the newest offering written by some CES guy, called _Mormon Doctrines and Beliefs_-which also alludes to the Curse of Cain, even with its 2007 copyright date.

    Broken record: There has never been an official repudiation of the idea of a lineage curse given Blacks because of Cain or Canaan, or of the idea that God sent those “less valiant” spirits into black bodies, and thus, as Orson Hyde speculated, “we have the Negro race.” The closest thing we have to a repudiation is not McConkie’s talk to CES employees in 1978 (after all, he went on to reprint _MD_ in 1979 with the folklore still intact and only a few changes, including a mention of the revelation) but President HInckley’s masterful talk on kindness in 2006 (Priesthood session, April Conference).

    The race question, not the polygamy one or the “which Jesus?” one, is the biggie. Was Mitt Romney told not to teach those of African descent when he was a missionary? That was the policy at the time. Some hard questions could come there.

    I may well be wrong, but I think the two contenders will be Obama and Romney. Then we get to really talk. I also believe that God’s hand is involved in all of this. We as a people have not been healed of the plague of racism, and our God is mighty to heal.

  23. My take on this, were I Romney: Great! a chance to show some distance from the Church. “I disagree with the the black position of the Church before before 1978.”

  24. Too late, Bob. Romney went into detail about pulling over to the side of the road and weeping when he learned of the priesthood revelation. He did that on Leno’s show. My understanding is that his statements on that were excised from his political transcripts, but later put back. I am not involved in the Romney campaign, but I’m curious if his words on Leno’s show about his reaction to the revelation are available.

    Note, however, that DESPITE the awful letter from Elder Stapley counseling George Romney not to get involved with the Civil Rights Movement, Romney DID get involved, and marched with Dr. King. No coincidence that Romney mentioned his father’s position in the religion speech, but there’s more mileage there should someone decide to take it.

  25. I would just say that it makes me deeply sad that all of us in American have ancestors, people we otherwise admire, who were deeply and sometimes angrily racist, and that I am delighted to look forward to a world of equality.

    If I were Romney, I would then start blushing when I realized that, whatever my personal convictions, my campaign is actively pandering to a segment of the Republican Party with a long and inglorious history of actively resisting Civil Rights, affirmative action, social programs to help the disproportionately minority poor, horridly insensitive immigration policy, and a litany of other essentially if not explicitly racist views.

  26. As has been stated:

    Elder McConkie in August of 1978 said, “Forget everything I have said, or what…Brigham Young…or whomsoever has said…that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”

    Why the ban was in place in the first place is the big “I don’t know” but it wasn’t for any of the reasons previously put forth.

  27. OD2 mentions temple blessings. Were blacks also banned from the Temple? If so, why is that never mentioned? Could worthy-black LDS women attend the Temple before 1978?

    Yes, and no.

  28. I, for one, would welcome a guy holding a copy of Mormon Doctrine. Then I could openly state how the leadership of my Church repudiated it and prevented its republication for many years.

    (If I recall the McKay story from memory.)

    And I’d talk about how a CES position isn’t considered a leadership position in my Church.

    Of course, I’d lose the Utah vote, because they’d think I was a heretic.

  29. I may well be wrong, but I think the two contenders will be Obama and Romney.

    Somehow, the realization that Margaret may be right actually made me nostalgic, just for a second, for Hillary Clinton.

    ***queuno slowly walks outside, braving the cold and wet chill in the air. Screams to the heavens at the futility of our electoral process. Walks inside. Looks on his company website to see what positions are available in Bangalore.***

  30. Add to what Who? said in 5: If I were a Demo I would vote for Barak Obama if he were the nominee. And I’d vote for Hillary Clinton, if she were the nominee. Of course, I’m a Republican, and, as usual, there is little diversity in our ranks, so I will be voting for me. However I do plan to question my Church on the issue of women and the priesthood and on the disappearance of our Mother in Heaven. She’s been missing all this time and it’s time someone asked where she is.

  31. #20: I don’t think there was a prohibition against black people doing baptisms for the dead in the temple before 1978. It was endowments and sealings that were off-limits to them.

    #21: Marlin K. Jensen’s efforts to obtain a disavowal may be closer to an attempt at repudiation.

    http://www.pbs.org/mormons/interviews/jensen.html

  32. Queuno, that might work if Elder McConkie’s chapters on “caste system” and “Races of Men” had been listed in Marion G. Romney’s objections, but they weren’t. And if I’m remembering correctly, the Church did NOT prevent its republication, though the book was the subject of great controversy. President McKay (ill at the time) was swayable because he was such a kind man, and he did not want a General Authority’s reputation to be tainted. The PLAN was for the book not to be reprinted, but that plan did not go into effect, as I recall. However, the first edition was revised after Elder McConkie was called in to visit with President McKay. The revisions mostly concerned the portrayal of the Catholic Church as “the Great and Abominable” church. You might want to read Greg Prince’s book again.
    Best statement to date, in my mind: “How can any man holding the Melchizedek priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for that priesthood whereas another man, who lives a righteous life, is ineligible simply because of the color of his skin?” President Hinckley, April 2006. There’s not even an “after 1978″ disclaimer there.

  33. Were some whites and possibly some blacks not ready for it? Was society not ready for it?

    Why would God hold back the restoration for 1800 years?
    Why would it be ok for Brigham to drink tea and smoke on his mission to England, but then turn around and say its not ok when he’s the prophet in Utah?

    I think it happened when the world and the Church was ready for it. It happened at a time that would allow the Church to grow in both Africa and the rest of the world.

    I think God has his own timeline for things, and it most certainly does not depend on what is politically correct.

    Why weren’t whites given the priesthood before Joseph Smith’s time?

    Why does God allow small children to be raped? I’m certainly more distressed about the unimaginable suffering of children and teenagers and adults than I am about the delayed priesthood rights of blacks.

  34. I like what Gladys Knight said about the race issue. As I remember it, she said, “God has always had a chosen people”.

    When you study this thought out carefully it is full of meaning.

    The gentiles have been a favored people, but the Book of Mormon and the D&C talk about a time when that might not be the case any longer, as it was with the Jews.

    The first will be last, and the last will be first.

  35. It is pretty hard to explain, though, that we believe we have living prophets who are divinely inspired, but were wrong. Friends have asked me, if they were wrong here, they may be wrong in other matters. How then can we trust their leadership?

  36. Sorry to be late in responding:

    Todd–I don’t know what you mean by your comment about John 6:68. If the Church had the “words of eternal life” would we have gone elsewhere because of pain or disagreement over a practice of the Church?

    As to the “temporary” nature of the ban, I don’t recall anybody ever teaching that the ban on the blessings of the temple and priesthood would last throughout the eternities. I know that talk about rewards in heaven don’t get very far with most of the press–but it’s what I believed about the ban.

  37. Mark B–there was indeed some speculation that blacks would be eternally destined to servitude, but all of that is pretty irrelevant now, I think, and can be relegated to the same trash bin which holds the racist sermons of other preachers of the 19th Century. Of course the Church and its leaders screw up sometimes. We are PROGRESSING, and repentence is part of our process–communally and individually.

    What’s relevant right now for Mitt Romney is what current Church leaders are saying (or not saying), what remains on the shelves of LDS bookstores which supports past beliefs about race (or doesn’t), and what Mitt has experienced in his own life. The fact that his father marched with Dr. King should mean a lot. Again, I’m not a Romney supporter, and I won’t say who I support lest I send Queuno into the cold, dark night again. But I am a Latter-day Saint. As a Mormon, I genuinely appreciated Romney’s “religion” talk. And I certainly did notice his emphasis on equality for all as a fundamental value all Americans share. Perhaps he was laying some groundwork. If so, good on him.

  38. Margaret/31 – Thanks for the clarification. I’d read Prince (twice), but my copy is out on loan and I couldn’t remember the particulars.

    If I were Romney, I’d just cite GBH from 2006 and leave it at that. I think Romney’s family history exculpates him to the great unwashed masses, to an extent. (It won’t pass muster on the ‘nacle, perhaps.)

    Margaret/36 – It’s OK. I didn’t cry to the heavens over who you may or may not support, just over the realization that Obama-v-Romney may really be the best this country can offer up? So don’t hold back because I may venture out into that cold dark night again. I need to take the garbage out. I’m not happy with any of the candidates. But as I live in a very Republican state, it doesn’t really matter who I like, right?

    (I was a bit shocked to find myself defending Hillary Clinton in a family email thread that was making jokes about killing her. I may not like Mrs. Clinton, but joking about the death of a candidate is wrong.)

  39. Aaron Brown says:

    Margaret, do you (or anyone) know if the rumor is true that _Mormon Doctrine_ won’t be republished after the last copy of the current printing is sold at Deseret Book? I keep hearing this, but I don’t know whether to believe it.

    Aaron B

  40. Aaron Brown says:

    Great comments from Brad (#1) and Who? (#5)! Alas, I think it’s nonetheless imperative to grapple with what Curious (#8) has to say, and that’s not very easy to do.

    Aaron B

  41. I think it is an absolutely fair question to ask. And I hope it does get asked.

  42. Antonio Parr says:

    Even if, for the sake of argument, the Priesthood ban were somehow sanctioned by God — an assumption that I find excruciatingly difficult to make in a world that had already been graced by the light of the Son of God — there is still no justification for the racism shown by numerous Church leaders and the LDS culture prior to 1978. Indeed, the Priesthood ban should have resulted in an increase of tenderness and love towards our Black brothers and sisters. Instead, Mormon Utah — including the Church-owned Hotel Utah — demeaned their Black neighbors in both word and deed.

    We as a people owe some big time penance on this issue. If the possibility of a heaven-sanctioned policy prohibits an apology, we nevertheless should actively reach out to our Black brothers and sisters with perfect love, friendship and service, to atone for the way we neglected them for so many years.

  43. SamMB (#24): You forgot those of us that oppose slavery reparations. I presume that you think we’re racists too.

  44. gst – Yes, we’re racists. I just want to know where I can appeal for my family’s Nauvoo exile reparations…

  45. KMD, I hear this whole “but other religions were bad too!” but this doesn’t excuse it. ESPECIALLY when we are the one with the prophet and saying we’re the true church, AND we’re so late after the civil rights movement. Surely we can and should have done better.

  46. Whatever God says is right. Many people fail to recall that only the Levites could have the priesthood in Moses’ time. The Jews were the chosen people of the Lord and yet only 1/12 of them could have the priesthood. We could speculate as to why, but that’s about as far as we could go.

    In our day the priesthood was more open than in the past, and many male members were able to have it. For some reason, in God’s divine wisdom, that blessing was denied blacks until 1978. Some prominent members of the church expressed their views on why that blessing was denied, and I feel that was nothing more than speculation. None of that matters now as the priesthood is available to all worthy, male members.

    I don’t call the past shameful, anymore than I call the Lord bigoted for excluding 11/12 of his chosen people from having the priesthood. However, I am thrilled that all males in the church are able to experience the joys of service in the church now.

    ———

    I am sad when people criticize the church for its past actions. Regardless of how you shake it, you are criticizing the Lord’s church, and ultimately the Lord, claiming that you know better. I have no doubt that if the Lord wished to move the church in a certain direction, it would go that way. If the prophet at the helm demurred, that person would be removed. If the Lord speaks, his prophets listen. Paraphrasing Elder McConkie “the prophet of the Lord has spoken, forget everything I’ve ever said on the matter.” That humility and meekness is a defining trait of leadership in this church.

  47. queuno–I’m a Mormon, but also a native Illinoisan. Do I receive reparations, or pay them? Or both?

  48. gst: Both. By my calculations you end up owing $6.95.

  49. Ok my two rather strong Canadian cents…;)

    First if you look at the ban it was reviewed by (at least) John Taylor, Lorenzo Snow, Joseph F. Smith, George A. Smith and David O. McKay based on the history of the church.

    Lester Bushes Article in Dialogue in the spring of 1973 will give much of the background on that.

    According to Young 1 drop of black blood no temple period. Upheld until about mid 1940s when the church ran into the Negrito people in the Philippeans.

    Then the Fijians messed the thing up even more so then it was Black Africans only who were banned. This lead to another change by McKay removing the obligation for members to prove they were not of black ancestery and put it back on the church leadership to prove it.

    Then Brazil messed them up completely. Too many interracial children to simply turn a blind eye. Then you have the Nigerians and Ghanans in the 50s and 60s converting without any leadership like crazy (7000 Nigerians “converted” to Mormonism before any missionary or other leader set foot).

    The simple facts as far as I know them from studying this said that George Romney asked in private about the ban, suggesting it would be helpful to get it lifted but no dice. He was a civil rights activist and yet called a bigot about the churches stand.

    I would contest that two things kept the ban in place until 1978. The association of the Civil Rights movement with Communists by Benson. And the NAACP seeking to ban missionaries to Nigeria and elsewhere. It effectively blocked the church as a whole from facing the facts.

    Never minde the attacks on BYU, the molotov cocktail thrown at a BYU basketball game by protesters. The liberals outside the church probably did the church great harm by allowing the conservatives in the Q12 to dig in.

    Finally, the other churches are full of crap.

    86% of blacks attend black only churches. The Protestants simply segregated the African Americans into their own churches so they would not have to deal with them.
    How many Black ministers run white churches?

    Institutional racism is still going on in protestant churches. So lets not go after our motes please.

  50. George Windom says:

    45 – Whatever God says is right!

    Ezekiel 1:25-28 -2:1-2
    25 Then there came a voice from above the expanse over their heads as they stood with lowered wings. 26 Above the expanse over their heads was what looked like a throne of sapphire, and high above on the throne was a figure like that of a man. 27 I saw that from what appeared to be his waist up he looked like glowing metal, as if full of fire, and that from there down he looked like fire; and brilliant light surrounded him. 28 Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him.
    This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking.
    1 He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.
    Daniel 15-18
    15 Then it happened, when I, Daniel, had seen the vision and was seeking the meaning, that suddenly there stood before me one having the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of the Ulai, who called, and said, “Gabriel, make this man understand the vision.” 17 So he came near where I stood, and when he came I was afraid and fell on my face; but he said to me, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.” 18 Now, as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep with my face to the ground; but he touched me, and stood me upright. 19

  51. George Windom says:

    1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. 2 And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying:

  52. Steve Evans says:

    Thanks, George. moving on…

  53. George Windom says:

    Exodus 6:5-6
    And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God.

  54. From my perspective, these discussions always seem to avoid the underlying question:

    Is is possible for this Church to be in error on a significant matter like this? Not a particular leader, but the Church as a whole. Is the Church infallible?

    If yes, it’s easy to conclude that the Church should just apologize for a discarded racist policy and move on. That puts it in good company with many other faiths which have unfortunate moments in their history.

    If no, you have to either avoid the question entirely or fall back on explanations like ArielW uses in comment 45.

    Which is it?

  55. Steve, please banish George Windom to Outer Darkness. The lid seems to have come loose on the DAMU.

  56. GW (49-50), what does that have to do with this thread? I appreciate your tenacity on a point that is obviously very dear to you, but please keep posts reasonably restricted to the thread topic. No need for tangents. And yes, whatever God says is right. I don’t feel the need to apologize for the Lord and his policies. Something some people never get outside of the church (and some within) is that when we sustain our leaders it isn’t a vote, but our chance to agree with the Lord. I don’t understand everything that he does, but that doesn’t stop me from believing in him wholeheartedly.

  57. Adam Greenwood says:

    You people are way too wordy. The best thing for a politician to say is

    “Am I racist just because I don’t like Canadians?”

    Leave it at that.

  58. George Windom says:

    History of the Morman Church, Vol. 1, Chapter 1: 14-20, Joseph Smith accounts the beginning of his prophetic ministry through the appearance of the Father and the Son.

    “I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. It no sooner appeared than I found myself delivered from the enemy which held me bound. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!

    Quite a bit of difference?

  59. MikeInWeHo, I think that the topic is avoided because it makes people uncomfortable. For the sake of argument, let’s suppose that the church is the true and living church. If that is the case then your question is can the church go off on a tangent or get it wrong and still be the true and living church.

    There have certainly been times of apostasy in all of the Lord’s peoples, as evidenced throughout many scriptural accounts. One of the things that makes this time around different is that the Lord has said that this is the last time he’s going to stretch forth his hand, i.e., the final dispensation. If I believe the scriptures to be true, I have to assume that this means that the church as it is now constituted is the final vehicle the Lord will use to usher in the millennium. I don’t argue whether or not it will change shape/doctrines, but that the organization as a whole is that vehicle.

    I think to the words exchanged between JS Jr and Oliver Cowdery in which OC said that the church would fail without him. JS’ response was basically to go ahead and try it. OC had to later admit to his shame that the church got along quite well without him. I believe that the work does not stand impeded by the inclusion or departure of any given individual or group of individuals. As this is the final time the Lord is going to work to prune his vineyard, I have every reason to believe that he will not let the church be lead astray.

    I do not believe that the individual leaders in the church are infallible, but I do believe that when acting in concert, that the spiritual leaders of the church work as one, and that they cannot so do without direct revelation from God. If ye are not one, ye are not mine. So, I will take (and tweak) your offered statement to say that I think the church, as a leadership bloc, is infallible when acting in concert.

  60. Latter-day Guy says:

    Georgie, you made this point yesterday. It still isn’t convincing. Please chill.

  61. Well said Ariel.

    The experience reported by those who were present in the temple that day in 1978 was a holy and spiritual outpouring that Gordon B Hinckley describes as “a quiet and sublime occasion”…”There was a Pentecostal spirit, for the Holy Ghost was there”. Not one report speaks of anger or rebuke from God, which is historically evident when He is displeased with His chosen prophet or apostles.

    And yet those who have never been given the right or authority to speak on behalf of the Church think they are more inspired and guided than the men God personally endowed with both. They ignore the fact that there has never been a time in history that the Holy Ghost has revealed something to the Church body without revealing it to His prophet first. Or allowed a prophet to make glaring mistakes without reprimand or removal of his previous authority.

    Maybe they just are not aware of how their words taint a glorious and holy revelation that belongs completely and totally to the black race. Or maybe they just don’t CARE because they continue to paint the men who led this Church for 150 years as idiots, blind sheep, racists, or followers of tradition-which in turn casts a shadow over a beautiful and shining moment in time where God powerfully displayed His love and approval to ALL of His children.

    Instead of giving the black race the honor and privilege of being the source and subject of a specific and world changing message from God of their very own, given through the ONLY authorized channel on earth, they would rather convince others that the entire thing as just a long overdue wake-up call, or a PR move, or a lame attempt by closet bigots to be viewed as more tolerant and politically correct.

    It is not the doctrine or the actions of the prophets that bring shame and disgrace to the LDS Church. It is the rejection of the doctrine or the actions of the prophets when they remain indifferent to the will of anyone other than God himself.

  62. George! You’re back! Unfortunately, you still haven’t answered my questions from your last threadjack.

    What’s the matter? Can’t find those chapters in your Bible?

  63. In other words Mike-

    Everyone on earth is fallible-but if I have to choose between what you or Steve or anyone else says about the priesthood ban and what a prophet of God who has been given the mantel and all of the keys required to act in His name says about it-I’m sorry-I’m going to choose the prophet every time.

    The question that always gets avoided in these discussions is Why would an omnipotent and all-knowing God EVER place His mantel and His Priesthood keys in the hands of the wrong man? I cannot comprehend of placing my faith in a God who could create this world, and establish His plan and call it His work and His glory who would or could do such a thing!

    He knew eons before we were ever born exactly what each one of us was going to do-and He has perfect confidence in His ability to guide and qualify the person He chooses to lead His church at any given time. Who in their right mind actually thinks that they stand on solid ground when they disagree with God?

  64. They ignore the fact that there has never been a time in history that the Holy Ghost has revealed something to the Church body without revealing it to His prophet first. Or allowed a prophet to make glaring mistakes without reprimand or removal of his previous authority.

    How the heck do you know that, tosh? Has God made you privy to all prophetic mistakes? I’m guessing not.

    they would rather convince others that the entire thing as just a long overdue wake-up call, or a PR move, or a lame attempt by closet bigots to be viewed as more tolerant and politically correct.

    Those are not the only choices here. Quit making straw men.

  65. The question that always gets avoided in these discussions is Why would an omnipotent and all-knowing God EVER place His mantel and His Priesthood keys in the hands of the wrong man?

    He can be the right man, but still be wrong sometimes.

    I cannot comprehend of placing my faith in a God who could create this world, and establish His plan and call it His work and His glory who would or could do such a thing!

    Ouch. Careful there. Best not to qualify your faith in God.

    He knew eons before we were ever born exactly what each one of us was going to do-and He has perfect confidence in His ability to guide and qualify the person He chooses to lead His church at any given time. Who in their right mind actually thinks that they stand on solid ground when they disagree with God?

    This is not actually very coherent. It sounds like you’re saying that the prophets are infallible, which even they have repeatedly said is not the case. So I guess that means you are disagreeing with the prophets!!!

    Luckily, despite what you say, disagreeing with Brigham Young does not equal disagreeing with God.

  66. “It was a horrible policy rooted in mistaken beliefs that gradually assumed the status of quasi-official doctrine as various figures tried to defend and rationalize the policy. Ultimately, those rationalizations were demonstrated to have been as errant as the policy itself. I’m in no position to apologize for the past behavior of my Church. I know I personally agonized over the question and experienced enormous relief when the policy was finally, belatedly changes. I assure you that I do not share any of the views that were historically put forth as theological rationales for the policy.”

    That’s an excellent response. In watching Romney as a candidate, though, I haven’t seen anything that would indicate that he’s capable of such a straight-forward and honest answer to a question. (Disclaimer: I don’t mean this to cast aspersions on Romney’s character. He’s probably a very principled and honest individual. But for whatever reason, he seems incapable of playing that role as a political candidate, to his detriment.)

  67. Amended to add: And, to be fair to Romney, the Church itself hasn’t exactly been all that great at confronting this issue head on. I was mildly disappointed that the SWK priesthood/RS manual was sort of vague in its discussion about what the 1978 revelation was all about.

  68. MCQ-

    He can be the right man, but still be wrong sometimes.

    I said every person on earth is fallible-even the prophet. But has every prophet God since the restoration BEEN wrong on exactly the same issues? Your question applies to you just as it does me-”How the heck do you know that, MCQ? Has God made you privy to all prophetic mistakes? I’m guessing not.”
    Has it been revealed to you that God has chosen to be His prophet since the Restoration have been wrong on exactly the same issues?

    Ouch. Careful there. Best not to qualify your faith in God.

    I qualified my faith that God that doesn’t make mistakes. I cannot comprehend believing in one that does, can you?

    It sounds like you’re saying that the prophets are infallible, which even they have repeatedly said is not the case. So I guess that means you are disagreeing with the prophets!!!

    Because it is obvious that you can read, I’m going to assume that you had nothing better to respond with than a desperate manipulation of plainly spoken words.

    Luckily, despite what you say, disagreeing with Brigham Young does not equal disagreeing with God.

    I agree, but could you be so kind as to explain for me what disagreeing with Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, Lorenzo Snow,Joseph F. Smith, Heber J. Grant, George Albert Smith,David O. McKay,Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee,Spencer W. Kimball,Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, and Gordon B. Hinckley equals?

  69. Steve Evans says:

    it equals a long and testy comment.

  70. BTD Greg,

    I would hope that either Romney has a better grasp on the truth than you do or he’s willing to admit that he doesn’t know the difference between a “policy” or “quasi” anything and the actual and officially stated doctrine of the Church.

    Policies are listed in manuals and regard the day to day operations and procedures of the Church. Official statements made by the The First Presidency of the Church that clearly state that what the will of God is at any particular time is defined as doctrine. When the Church goes to the effort of having one of their official statements published in the newspaper, I can only assume it is to leave no doubt regarding the issue.

  71. tosh,

    You lost me. Which part of my comment exposed me as someone with a loose grasp on the truth?

  72. Right Steve. Keep them short and testy.

  73. BTD-
    The fact that you think the response you quoted is excellent. I understood from your response that you think it is also accurate, so I ask your forgiveness if you don’t.

  74. MCQ-

    Those are not the only choices here.

    You are correct, but including all of the choices would have only made it longer and testier.

    Stop making straw men

    I will if you will.

  75. I still don’t quite follow (please forgive my slowness). Are you saying that it was not a policy of the LDS Church to deny the priesthood to blacks? If so, I just don’t see how that position is defensible. That pretty clearly was the policy, no matter how you define the debate.

  76. You know something? If we subtract all of the arguments that use straw man tactics, or any other form of fallacy in their structure-there is only one really honest and accurate way to respond when asked about the former restriction against the black race. The one our current prophet chooses- “We don’t know”.

    You’re brilliant MCQ! Why didn’t someone think of that sooner?

  77. tosh, that long list of prophets appears intended to mean something but from your comment I can’t tell what. If you mean to say that all those prophets supported the priesthood ban, then you are just flat wrong, and there’s no more use talking to you. If you mean something else, then say what that is please.

    Meanwhile, I seriously can’t imagine why you are so worked up about this. You admit that prophets can be wrong, but when confronted with the glaringly obvious fact that at least one was, you choose to get arrogant and sanctimonious. I don’t get it. If you can accept that a prophet can be wrong, why can’t he be wrong on this issue? And if you are saying that Brigham was right, then aren’t you saying that Joseph was wrong? You can’t have it both ways.

  78. Greg-

    It wasn’t a “policy”-it was doctrine. Doctrine that every LDS Prophet has maintained was the result of a command from God. Several prophets stated their opinions about the WHY and some of them didn’t, but correct understanding about WHY something happens isn’t required before an event can be accepted as real.

  79. Steve Evans says:

    tosh, stating that something was doctrine doesn’t make it so, nor did “every LDS Prophet” maintain that the priesthood ban was a command from God. You are incorrect. May I suggest that you move on?

  80. Steve Evans says:

    Never mind. bye, Tosh.

  81. Aaron Brown says:

    “If you mean to say that all those prophets supported the priesthood ban, then you are just flat wrong, and there’s no more use talking to you.”

    I’m not sure I’m following your beef with tosh, MCQ. True, Joseph Smith didn’t originate the priesthood ban; that’s Brigham Young’s claim to fame. But tosh has a point when he points out that all the prophets that followed Young maintained the policy, until 1978. That’s a legitimate point to raise when considering what it means to dismiss the notion that the priesthood ban was inspired.

    My own view is surely closer to yours than tosh’s, but I think it’s perfectly legitimate, indeed necessary, to grapple with his point.

    Aaron B

  82. Aaron Brown says:

    … and yet I reject tosh’s claim at #77. Of course, I think the doctrine/policy debate is hopelessly ambiguous and largely semantic, so obviously I’m gonna say that …

  83. Aaron, I agree. Semantics are unimportant in this case. My gut tells me that it was, at a minimum, the Church’s policy, and it is debatable whether or not it was doctrine. But the distinction isn’t very meaningful.

  84. I’m still wondering if anyone knows of when (pre-1978) and by whom it was long promised that the ban would be lifted…

    “Aware of the promises made by the prophets and presidents of the Church who have preceded us that at some time, in God’s eternal plan, all of our brethren who are worthy may receive the priesthood, … He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood…”

    http://scriptures.lds.org/en/od/2

  85. I was intrigued by that too Curious, it cried out for a citation. I seem to recall hearing about it, but I can’t now remember where. I also recall some authorities (my memory says BRM) saying the opposite.

    Aaron, my beef is exactly that assumption, that “all the prophets who followed Young maintained the ban until 1978.” First of all: what does “mantained” mean? That they agreed with it? Rationalized it? Ignored it? Prayed and sought God’s counsel concerning it? Despised but tolerated it? I think all of these responses apply to various prophets, and to lump them all together as “maintaining” this awful mistake is just plain wrong, imo.

    Moreover, tosh didn’t stop there. He listed even SWK and post-1978 prophets as being somehow in support of his thesis. I was just trying to understand why, but I can’t really believe it matters. I disagree that he was making some point that must be engaged. I think it’s pretty obvious why the ban stayed in place for so long, and it has nothing to do with inspiration. That’s just my opinion of course, but I think it’s supported by what we know of, for example, all that went on behind the scenes between DOM and his counselors and the twelve. What’s not supported is the idea of the ban being a revelation from God.

  86. Thank you all for clarifying my questions in number 20. I found an article from Wikipedia titled, “Blacks and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” that explains it sufficiently for me. The opening sentence states,

    “From the end of the nineteenth century until 1978, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not allow black men to be ordained to the priesthood or to participate in certain temple ceremonies such as the Endowment or sealing that the church believes are necessary for the highest degree of salvation.”

    The entry for Jane Manning James is truly disgusting, racism is sickening,

    “…he compromised and allowed Jane to be sealed to the family of Joseph Smith as a servant. This was unsatisfying to Jane as it did not include the saving ordinance of the endowment, and she repeated her petitions.”

    I can totally understand why the LDS church would try to focus on the no-priesthood part of the policy (passing sacrament looks kind of lame) but avoid any talk of not allowing any black person to participate in temple ordinances which, if I understand correctly, is required to enter heaven (highest degree of salvation). The most they could expect was eternal servitude in the CK as their highest reward.

    Romney would do well avoiding detailed explanation of “the ban.”

  87. To be fair, Help_Me, Manning was an exception. I love Jane and I feel horrible whenever I consider what sh went through. Still, projecting her situation onto the doctrinal framework of Early Mormonism is an error. Even Brigham Young said that he believed people of African decent would eventually get the priesthood. This implies that they would get the full temple rituals as well. Doesn’t excuse the racism, but it tempers your characterization of it.

  88. “To be fair, Help_Me, Manning was an exception.”

    In what way was she an exception? Please help me understand what you mean.

    Non-racist implication may be there but could be lost on many especially those like me who just recently started exploring the details. The letter from Delbert Stapley to George Romney and Mark Petersen’s talk “Race Problems – As They Affect the Church” don’t help. Looks like straight up racism to me. Romney should avoid the details, IMO, especially the part about not allowing other worthy humans participation in saving (exalting) ordinances.

  89. You’ll note that I have commented on the Stapley letter on this blog. I don’t deny racism. I was meerly stating that a theology where those of African decent were destined to be servants in heaven was never part of Nineteenth century Mormon doctrine. It is in this way that Manning was anomalous.

  90. I understand, thank you sir.

  91. jane web b says:

    I’ve just been reading many of the comments and need to share with you that our family was intimately involved in dealing with the priesthood ban, as we began investigating the church in november 1977, a family with 2 adopted black children. we struggled for 5 months with the desire to be baptised, but the need to be reassured that we were making the right decision. we spoke to many of the church leaders in our stake, and we finally chose to have faith that our children, our whole family would be blessed as members of “His” church.. 2 months after our baptism, the revelation to allow black men to hold the priesthood, was announced.. we had many in our Stake call us, the same Stake as Mitt Romney. It was an emotional and wonderful time, we will never forget. We know Romney as a good and descent man, who became our Stake President and a friend. We think he should be the Republican nominee for President, perhaps against Obama, and we support Romney wholeheartedly…

  92. A few things worth noting:
    1) As a young apostle, David O. McKay (later president of the Church), was basically UNAWARE of the policy when he made his world tour in the 1920s. Why? There were so few blacks in Mormon settlements and segregation was so widespread throughout the nation that the priesthood/temple restriction was (in Greg Prince’s words) “not a front burner issue.” (That’s from an upcoming documentary I know a little about.)
    2) Jane Manning James did do baptisms for the dead in the temple–many of them, and she continued to petition for the endowment until she was too crippled to do much. Her two surviving children left the Church or were excommunicated, but her grandchildren were LDS. All but one of her great grandchildren left the Church (and the one who stayed Mormon struggled in the faith). She has no living LDS descendants, though several of her descendants do know about her and honor her legacy.

    3) When Jane died in 1908, Pres. Joseph F. Smith said things he had not heretofore said about blacks and the priesthood (actually reversing some things he had previously stated). That is one of the big questions for me. Why did he change? I don’t have a good answer.

    4) If you focus on Mark E. Peterson, Ezra Taft Benson, and Harold B. Lee in the 1960′s, the Church will look like the KKK. But if you focus on Hugh B. Brown and Marion D. Hanks, it will look completely different. There were great differences of opinion among these men, who were asked to nonetheless give the appearance of full unity. And believe it or not, they did actually love each other and attempted to work together well. Sounds like a lot of marriages, doesn’t it.

  93. Jane, (just curious) when the revelation was announced did you realize that it was also discontinuing the ban against blacks from the temple?

  94. Jane sounds wonderful, and I’d love to meet her. (Perhaps I already have.)
    I hope she answers Help_Me’s question, but I’ll tell you that, as one who was old enough to have been deeply troubled by the issue and deeply relieved when the restrictions were lifted, I think we ALL knew that it meant not only priesthood but temple privileges (all of them) and MISSIONS.

    Since the time Elijah Abel returned from his last mission in 1884, Blacks had not been Mormon missionaries (at least not officially). That all changed on June 8, 1978.

    I serve in a Missionary Training Center, and see many, many young men and women of African descent preparing to serve missions. (In fact, we just sent off one elder of color from our branch last month.) And I work in the temple. I was assisted last week by a beautiful young man from Ghana, who had served a mission in San Francisco and spoke phenomenal Spanish.

    These are hard issues, but they do not destroy my faith in the inevitability of righteousness. To quote Jane James in words she intended be read at her funeral: “My testimony in the gospel of Jesus Christ is as strong today–nay, it is perhaps stronger–than the day I was first baptized…I try in my feeble way to set a good example for all.”

    How sad Jane would be if she thought our generation would focus on the restrictions she faced rather than on her many heroic journeys–physical and spiritual. Jane James is a hero in my home, and a familiar and beloved name for my husband and children.

  95. jane web b says:

    Yes, we knew that as well, and as we planned for our family to be sealed the following year, we knew the significance of having our black children sealed to us, along with our biological children. we felt blessed and part of a great plan to bring the Gospel to everyone in the world. We recently attended the marriage of one of our black children at the Salt Lake Temple.. we’ve all come a very long way, and feel only gratitude, not regret.

  96. Jane,

    Wow, that’s interesting and something I hadn’t considered. So, black children could be sealed to white parents, pre-1978, but couldn’t be sealed to black parents or be married in the temple as adults? I feel like I have lots to learn.

    Margaret, does your documentary delve into details of the ban? When/where can I see the film?

  97. Help_me–You don’t have it quite right. With the exception of baptisms for the dead, temple privileges, including sealings, were NOT available to anyone of African descent from the time ELijah Abel was washed and anointed in the Kirtland Temple (1836) until 1978 (with a couple of rare exceptions, such as Jane Harris Dykes, who did receive the endowment because her Patriarchal Blessing said she was descended from Ephraim.)

    Yes, our documentary delves into details of the ban. We are pretty much done, just working on getting copyrights in line so we can do sound mastering and final color correction (which sounds ominous, given this particular blog thread). We even have the funds to complete these remaining tasks. If you’re in Utah, you should be able to see it in January or February. Elsewhere–hmmm. We’re going to do some film festivals, so we’ll just keep updates on our website. http://www.untoldstoryofblackmormons.com

  98. Fwiw, one of the most profound, inspirational moments of my life as a Mormon was at the veil in the Atlanta temple – seeing a Black man representing the Lord. I will never defend the ban as God’s will, and I will never downplay its terrible impact on many members and non-members alike, but that image has been burned into my consciousness. I have seen firsthand the terrible effects of our racial history (both as Mormons and as Americans), and we still have a long way to go, but as much as I am deeply saddened by the ban itself, I also am thrilled by how we have leap-frogged in multiple ways much of mainstream Christianity in this regard since the ban was lifted.

  99. Kevin Barney says:

    I agree with Brad in no. 1, with the added nuance of J. in no. 11.

    Why did so many prophets let the policy stand without doing anything about it? Because prophets are fallible and conditioned by the culture in which they live. I realize we don’t like to acknowledge that, but it’s the truth.

  100. Aaron Brown says:

    MCQ (#84),

    Agreed that the word “maintained” is ambiguous. However, the larger question you’re raising (what was the actual view of the priesthood ban held by subsequent prophets?) has been historically explored in some detail. Someone can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s fair to say that while McKay questioned its “doctrinal” status, claiming it was only a “policy” (again, it would take a long conversation to sort out what that distinction even means in this context), there’s no evidence that any prior prophet ever did. When asked, other post-Young prophets would just reiterate the Ban as being God’s will.

    If I’m mistaken in any of this, I invite corrections. But I don’t think I am.

    Aaron B

  101. Aaron–I think you’re a little mistaken. Remember that when Elijah Abel petitioned for his endowment (having already been washed and anointed) in 1879–two years after Young’s death, Taylor did not leap to “the will of God” answer but summoned Abraham Smoot and Zebedee Coltrin, who claimed to know what Joseph Smith had said about the issue. This is a seminal moment in Mormon history, because it BEGAN to really set the policy (which I say was finally really set in 1908, after Jane James died). Coltrin’s account was very straightforward when he claimed that “Brother Joseph sort of dropped his head and said, ‘the spirit saith that the black man cannot have the priesthood’.” But Coltrin’s memory proved to be very faulty, and some of what he said was subsequently proved false by Joseph F. Smith (using solid documentation). So it’s not true that other post-Young prophets would reiterate the ban as God’s will. Taylor, for one, was not sure what the policy was.

  102. Aaron Brown says:

    Kevin,

    Would you agree that your answer (#98) doesn’t quite grapple sufficiently with the question you’ve posed (#98)? I agree that prophets are fallible and conditioned by the culture in which they live and yadda, yadda, yadda, but what do you make of the fact that certain prophets apparently approached the Lord to seek an end to the Ban, only to be rebuffed by Him (as they have described it). Do we just say, “Oh well, prophets are fallible, including in this instance when one approached the Lord about the Ban and understood Him to be saying it wasn’t time to lift the Ban yet, when in truth, God wasn’t ever a fan of the Ban and would presumably have wanted it lifted forthwith?” Is that really the position those of us who deny the Ban’s divine provenance are reduced to? Is this good enough? Is pulling out the “prophets aren’t infallible” card really enough of an answer here?

    I believe strongly in prophetic fallibility, but when folks like tosh point out (correctly) that a dismissal of the Ban’s divine origin implicates not just the views of one racially-insensitive prophet, but a whole string of post-Restoration church presidents (at least one of which says he directly approached the Lord on the matter), then it seems to be more than a shrug of one’s shoulders and a declaration of prophets being products of their culture is demanded.

    Aaron B

  103. “Am I racist just because I don’t like Canadians?”

    No, just uninformed, I’m pretty sure there is no such thing as a Canadian “race”. But we have been cursed with a cold skin.

    I don’t think there was a prohibition against black people doing baptisms for the dead in the temple before 1978. It was endowments and sealings that were off-limits to them.

    I believe males entering the Temple for baptisms must at least be ordained Deacons, which would exclude those of African decent prior to 1978. Someone correct me here? Were females allowed and not males?

  104. Aaron Brown says:

    Let me say this a bit differently and more succinctly: I find it impossible to believe that the Ban was God’s will (notwithstanding arguments about God having a “chosen people”, and Levitical priesthood restrictions as precedent, and all the rest of it …). I believe firmly in prophetic fallibility (and that examples of said fallibility are sometimes easily identified), and I believe that racist notions circulating in 19th Century American unduly influenced the early leaders of the Church. I can even imagine that institutional inertia, and a failure on the part of many LDS leaders to approach God about the Ban, are largely responsible for its too-lengthy duration. But it is hard for me to fit President McKay’s claim (that he approached the Lord about ending it, only to be told to “wait”) into my preferred narrative. If God’s Prophet can’t get (or properly interpret) a straight answer from God as to His will when he approaches Him about something as central and crucially important as the equality of all God’s children in his Post-New Testament Christianity church, then what good is he?

    Maybe there is something wrong with the way I’ve framed this question? Someone please let me know what it is.

    Aaron B

  105. Kevin Barney says:

    I think pulling out the whole string of prophets thing is misleading. They don’t represent a series of affirmative revelations supporting the ban. The only serious one to really engage it was DOM.

    I think there were several things going on here. First, this policy had the bad luck to come after the Manifesto, which was immensely traumatic for the idea of prophetic direction, and led WW (in some desperation) to shore up his authority among the people to make the claim that the prophet would never lead the church astray. So after that whole thing no one had much appetite for going through a similar about face. Even a DOM had to be affected by the stare decisis effect of all of those prophets before him (even though, in reality, there wasn’t a lot of thought or revelation actually put into this issue).

    Second, the policy of unity among the church’s top leadership, while often a good policy, in this particular case was a disaster, and let the most racist GAs block any possibility of change for a generation after it should have happened.

    So I think the lateness of the Revelation was in many ways a result of profound historical ignorance (which really began to be remedied by the Bush article), cultural baggage and systemic weaknesses in church decision-making processes.

  106. Aaron, one account (from a custodian) claims that DOM said he wouldn’t approach the Lord again because the answer was “Wait,” but MOST of what I’ve heard about Pres. McKay praying over the issue is this: “I have prayed and prayed and prayed about it and I’m not getting an answer”–often said in tears. That’s in Greg Prince’s book, but I also heard it several times from Elder Hanks.

    I don’t know the dynamics of prophetic revelation, or how it differs from any other kind of revelation. I do wonder (rhetorically) why President McKay felt led to pray about the issue time and time again. And the answer didn’t come instantly to Pres. Kimball either. He describes “day after day” going to the temple to pray about the possible change which could have such a profound effect “all the children of God.”

    I’m not going to jump to any conclusions. I certainly don’t know exactly what happened between Heaven and Earth in the years between 1830 and 1978, but I am certain that there was real and profound revelation on June 1, 1978 in the SL temple.

    For me personally, I hate the “God has always restricted priesthood” idea, with the usual mention of the Levites. (Big difference between one group being chosen and one group being excluded.) It seems to me that when Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world and preach his gospel, there were no footnotes indicating who would not be fully welcomed into the fold. I suspect we’ll all be surprised by how our prejudices have affected our spiritual lives, and what barriers we’ve set up simply by following the traditions already set out–and not necessarily labeled.

  107. Aaron, consider the following from the allegory of the olive tree in Jacob 5:65-66.

    65 And as they begin to grow ye shall clear away the branches which bring forth bitter fruit, according to the strength of the good and the size thereof; and ye shall not clear away the bad thereof all at once, lest the roots thereof should be too strong for the graft, and the graft thereof shall perish, and I lose the trees of my vineyard.
    66 For it grieveth me that I should lose the trees of my vineyard; wherefore ye shall clear away the bad according as the good shall grow, that the root and the top may be equal in strength, until the good shall overcome the bad, and the bad be hewn down and cast into the fire, that they cumber not the ground of my vineyard; and thus will I sweep away the bad out of my vineyard.

    It is more than an implication that the Church will include “bitter fruit” that will be cleared away only at a pace that will not destroy the tree itself. Kevin’s comment in #104 addresses this as it relates to “another polygamy” schism. I don’t accept it as God’s will, but I also see the clear fact that the lifting of the ban in 1978 had a HUGELY different affect than I believe it would have had even one generation earlier. Sometimes, a generation (in this case a full lifetime of exposure to bigotry among older men) must pass away before a group can enter the Promised Land.

  108. Aaron, for myself I answer the question this way: There was never any revelation that started the ban and there was never any necessity for a revelation to end the ban. I think that’s what the non-answer DOM was getting meant.

    The fact that none of the prophets would move on this without a revelation is, to say the least, unfortunate. It should have never started, but once started, it could and should have been ended without need for a command from God. Did we really need to be commanded in this with this scripture has been staring us in the face all along?:

    2 Nephi 26:

    33 For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.

  109. Ray, I’ve never considered your pt in 106 before, but I think that I like it much more than the original explanation I offered about the Levites. It is certainly plausible that some in the church leadership wouldn’t allow for the change for various reasons earlier. If ye are not one ye are not mine. Unity was more important than this revelation? God would have granted it to us if the leadership would have been willing to accept it? Interesting thoughts. Kept back from progressing by our own bigotry? I wonder how many things we have to unlearn before we will be ready for all that God is willing to reveal?

  110. Best statement to date, in my mind: “How can any man holding the Melchizedek priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for that priesthood whereas another man, who lives a righteous life, is ineligible simply because of the color of his skin?” President Hinckley, April 2006. There’s not even an “after 1978? disclaimer there.

    I’m not sure why there is such a clamor here. Clearly God has withheld the priesthood from men before. Sometimes he waited hundreds of years to ordain men, who appear to be righteous, as in D&C 107. Sometimes He pretty much confines the priesthood to one lineage as with the tribe of Levi. Sometimes He withholds the priesthood from all those of an entire sex. Do we call those actions barbaric, unthinkable, wrong? If not (or even if so), could there be no valid reasons to withhold the priesthood from a race? And if that was the case, what would be the ramifications should we deign to offer it to those of a priesthood-cursed race? Perhaps we should lose the priesthood ourselves?

    I don’t think the Lord is bound by our concepts of right and wrong.

    Isaiah 55:
    8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
    9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

  111. #32 – Best statement to date, in my mind: “How can any man holding the Melchizedek priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for that priesthood whereas another man, who lives a righteous life, is ineligible simply because of the color of his skin?” President Hinckley, April 2006. There’s not even an “after 1978? disclaimer there.

    I’m not sure why there is such a clamor here. Clearly God has withheld the priesthood from men before. Sometimes he waited hundreds of years to ordain men, who appear to be righteous, as in D&C 107. Sometimes He pretty much confines the priesthood to one lineage as with the tribe of Levi. Sometimes He withholds the priesthood from all those of an entire sex. Do we call those actions barbaric, unthinkable, wrong? If not (or even if so), could there be no valid reasons to withhold the priesthood from a race? And if that was the case, what would be the ramifications should we deign to offer it to those of a priesthood-cursed race? Perhaps we should lose the priesthood ourselves?

    I don’t think the Lord is bound by our concepts of right and wrong.

    Isaiah 55:
    8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
    9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

  112. #32 – Best statement to date, in my mind: “How can any man holding the Melchizedek priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for that priesthood whereas another man, who lives a righteous life, is ineligible simply because of the color of his skin?” President Hinckley, April 2006. There’s not even an “after 1978? disclaimer there.

    I’m not sure why there is such a clamor here. Clearly God has withheld the priesthood from men before. Sometimes he waited hundreds of years to ordain men, who appear to be righteous, as in D&C 107. Sometimes He pretty much confines the priesthood to one lineage as with the tribe of Levi. Sometimes He withholds the priesthood from all those of an entire sex. Do we call those actions barbaric, unthinkable, wrong? If not (or even if so), could there be no valid reasons to withhold the priesthood from a race? And if that was the case, what would be the ramifications should we deign to offer it to those of a priesthood-cursed race? Perhaps we should lose the priesthood ourselves?

    I don’t think the Lord is bound by our concepts of right and wrong.

    Isaiah 55:
    8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.
    9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

  113. Steve Evans says:

    The only thing worse than having a doppelganger posting comments justifying deific racism is when he posts them in triplicate.

  114. Uh, sorry about that. The triplicate, that is. The system kept objecting to my post, so I kept trying again. Hopefully won’t make that mistake again.

    Doppelganger?

    doppelganger (from m-w.com)
    One entry found.

    doppelganger

    Main Entry:
    dop·pel·gäng·er Listen to the pronunciation of doppelgänger
    Variant(s):
    or dop·pel·gang·er Listen to the pronunciation of doppelganger \?dä-p?l-?ga?-?r, -?ge?-, ?dä-p?l-?\
    Function:
    noun
    Etymology:
    German Doppelgänger, from doppel- double + -gänger goer
    Date:
    1851

    1: a ghostly counterpart of a living person2 a: double 2a b: alter ego b c: a person who has the same name as another

  115. Stumbled across this thread as a result of looking for information on when it is ok to tell young kids the truth about Santa Claus!! :-)

    (there was a link to a major news paper which had a link to political opinions, that led to here).

    I am not a LDS member. I am of African descent, and I am Agnostic (to be clear, not atheist).

    For those of you that may be interested in a view from a person with my perspective, here it is:

    #85 An excuse is an excuse is an excuse. From what I can tell, the “ban” was in effect for a long time with many oppurtunities for it to be made right by many. It was not. If they tried they unforgivebly failed. I believe that all humans are equal. That belief is to my core. To be in a position of leadership and not fight until the/my death for such a wrong, such as the BAN, to not be corrected during my “watch” is unforgivable. As a member of the LDS church, I would assume that you want all humans to come to understand and believe it’s doctrine. I WILL NOT AND CAN NOT RESPECT A CHURCH, OR ITS PEOPLE THAT CAN NOT SEE THE WRONGNESS OF THAT. Also towards that end, I have always voted liberal. The liberals are more accepting of ALL HUMANS: blacks, whites, all races, gay, not gay, 10 fingers, 8 fingers, whatever. In that I’ve admitted to being agnostic, if I were to follow a faith, it would be one that taught closer to my idea of a liberal. God (maybe :-) ) will be the judge of who got it right.

    As a summary to all the posts here, what I walk away with is:

    There is no difference between a prophet and the Taxi driver I met last night when it come to direction as to how to “be” in terms of God’s desire. Many of you stated that prophets can be wrong. Okay, then how do I know when they are right? Do I look at the whole church for direction? What was I suppose to do about that prior to 1978 (the whole church was wrong)? How do I know the church has it right now, rather than it simply being a matter of money or some other earthly reason for the lift on the ban?

    I know I’m being critcal, but I don’t want to insult you by sugar coating an outsider’s perspective. I am old enough to have experienced racism. Still, I don’t need a man, a prophet, a book, a TV show, a politician, or anything to have always known that racism at any level is wrong. If as a LDS this doesn’t causes you to pause and take a second look at your religion, then, good luck (as opposed to God bless you).

    When I am old or dead, any one of my future potential bloodline will be able to look back at my personal history and find that I never acted towards another human from a perspective that they were inferior to me because of race, or more importantly, did not fight with all I had to correct a racist idea that I had significant influence.

    People, most if not all your leaders can not make that statement. Why would I seriously consider your faith?

    Skeptical

  116. Skeptical (#115), it is a cornerstone of our LDS faith that every member is entitled to personal revelation about the truthfulness of the gospel. This church works in certain ways, and members who have had a true conversion to its gospel (what we call a testimony) have a hard time leaving it even if they believe it does some things wrong.

    If prophets can be wrong (and this issue brings up the hairy distinction between policy and doctrine) then it falls to members to pray for revelation about what the prophet has stated.

    I was not even alive in 1978, let alone a member of the church. From my understanding, the ban was doctrine but the justifications of it were not. The teachings of the prophet David O. Mackay as taught in our weekly priesthood meetings indicate that he believed it was doctrine, though he wished fervently to abolish it. As a white man, I suppose I have the luxury of simply saying “I don’t know why the ban existed” and considering myself lucky that it was done away with before my time.

  117. And liberals are accepting of all people, except conservatives. :)

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

    But I respect your honesty regarding this. And, having talked with taxi drivers, I still feel the prophet has a better link to God, but that is not meant as a slight to the drivers. Many of them are the salt of the earth, having to put up with us jerks all day, but there is something special inside that I feel when our prophet speaks that is something I can’t really describe, but it is one of the foundational stones of my belief.

    Earthly reasons for changing doctrine aren’t always divorced from heavenly reasons, either.

    Lastly, I also do not presume to know why the ban went in place. It is documented that our first prophet ordained at least one black man to the priesthood. It is also useful to realize what most white people curing the later 1800s believed about race before suggesting that our church is so vastly different in this area than other white churches at the time. As for why to consider our faith, #1 it will change it’s policy if the Lord sees fit, #2 it has helped me to be both a better person and less racist than I might otherwise be, and I think it’s the truth. I feel that the Lord wants me to be here, which I know for myself, because I asked him in prayer. That’s enough for me.

  118. Boston momma says:

    Came to this thread late, but here is my two cents…I believe that the LDS church is led by God. As His children we are best served by living under its umbrella and according to its precepts. The gospel and the church framework are our best help as we try to shed the worst parts of our nature and become like God. As such, it is God’s will and our best interest to keep the church whole and keep us in it. This has got to be a delicate balance; church must challenge us and force us to change, but be patient as we do so. The blessing of a living church is the communication that allows for institutional change as members improve.

    Thus, the fact that blacks were excluded from the priesthood is a sad reflection on us (not God), and one we should own and face. Not one sane Mormon believes that anyone denied access to the priesthood will be punished for that denial, but certainly members of the church whose prejudices stood in the way of other’s full fellowship will have to answer for it.
    But conversely the way that the membership responded so positively to the 1978 revelation and the absence of institutional racism now is a fantastic reflection on us. Simply put, we were finally ready, and the church continued on whole, stronger and infinitely better for our ability to include those who had been excluded. We addressed that problem in a uniquely “Mormon” way and thirty years on, we are far more color blind than the broader society that “solved” integration with war in the street. We might not have gone about it like the Boomers did, but I will stand by our progress and results.

  119. “the absence of institutional racism”

    as manifest by the absence of Blacks from the leading Quorums of the church, the Church Educational System, the Tabernacle Choir, the BYU student body, most wards…??

    There may be no official, explicit racism, but we are every bit as guilty as most large American institutions of institutional racism, and more guilty than many. (In particular, our failure to acknowledge and publicly repudiate the Church’s racist history leaves us far behind many American religious and civic institutions in progress towards overcoming institutional racism).

  120. Kristine (#119):

    Your comment is right on target. I understand and can agree with #116, #117, and #118 in that it does sometime takes time for man to catch up with what God may want. I mean, afterall, we’re human.

    I am reminded of a issue I was once guilty of when I used a racist term that I had been taught as a child referring to an area of town mostly inhabitted by Jews. It was called Jew Town (Chicago’s Maxwell Street). I used that term once to my boss who was Jewish, and he educated me on why it was wrong. I then understood and apologized, and have never used the term again. I was lucky that it was from a perspective of ignorance than hate. The test of my genuine sorrow for having been wrong is how I have been going forward. If there was a crystal ball that other Jewish people could look into my past from that moment on, they would find no trace of prejudice from me as it relates to them.

    So here is what I would say to the entire LDS community:

    “if people of African descent looked into a crystal ball of the LDS as a whole from 1978 until today, would the LDS still need to apologize, in the African’s opinion?”

    If that answer is yes, then I’m sorry folks, you are either blind, or not blind and just wont face the truth, or not blind and know the truth but just don’t give a damn. One of the three

    And for the record, with my admittedly cursory look into your faith, I’m feeling that my answer is yes…. there is still way too much the church need to do to atone for its wrong of all those years.

    (Jacob #117):Touche! on the conservative point…but as a parting jab back at ya: Do you realize that consevatives are consistently on the wrong side of social issues? In fact, you can not name a single issue that liberals have been on the wrong side of a social issue, heavily debated by all, but then the issue was accepted as the norm by all. Think civil rights laws in the ’60s as an example of where the liberals were on the right side…conservatives were on the wrong side, and today, a conservative would be ran out of town if they expressed the same opposition to the issue today. The fact that you or anyone else will not be able to list a single instance of liberal guilt in this challenge is telling.

    either we are blind or we are not.

  121. skeptical, I do not deny we are less than perfect in racial matters and still have work to do, but take a good, hard look at the body of Protestantism even today. It is perhaps the last bastion of institutional “separate but equal” left in America – and it almost never gets challenged. In that regard (having Black leaders of predominantly White congregations and well-mixed congregaations), we are substantially ahead of the religious curve.

  122. Thank you Ray. I guess I am of the opinion that the “work to do” needn’t be so difficult for ANY follower of God’s will. I suspect that it is one of the reasons its so easy to remain agnostic. The hypocrisy of all religions just bothers me. I mean, if I truely believed in God, totally, many of the struggles that people who claim to believe in him would be a total none issue for me. God says “dont do that” – well then, you dont do that. Simple. And I’m not talking “human nature” things like swearing, or even lust to a degree. I’m talking stuff like love your neighbor (whatever his color is), etc.

    Skep

  123. The very first answer was a great one. If any would like to know the real doctrine of the Church regarding Blacks, skin color, curses, priesthood etc, go to http://www.BlacksInTheScriptures.com This DVD will blow you away.

  124. Mormons do not have any current teaching that blacks are inferior in any way. Yes, there were past general authorities who wrote their own commentary, but never anything officially sanctioned by the Mormon Church. In 1852, Brigham Young did officially restrict blacks from the Priesthood.

    Needed is the clarification that most white Churches until the 1970′s still did not allow blacks as leaders and many as members.

    To answer why the Church took maybe 10 or so years longer than some others, after the civil rights movement, look no further than the decision making structure of the Church. It is one-of-a-kind among mainline religions (yes, it’s the 4th largest religious body in the U.S.) because it requires a unanimous decision among both the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve to make an official change. That’s fifteen strong leaders among whom there cannot be a single dissenting vote. If only a majority were needed, like in other Churches, blacks no doubt would have been allowed the priesthood much earlier.

    The Church is not racist and does not teach officially or unofficially that blacks are inferior in any way. I can prove it. Every single Church doctrine, teaching manual, scriptures and everything official in the Church is online at lds.org. There is nothing else. Any member of the Church would appeal to the materials on this website as the official and final word of everything taught, believed, and lived by its members. If it is not on that website, then active temple going members collectively and individually do not believe it is true. Mormons believe the whole thing is true and to not pick and choose doctrines.

    Here is the official doctrine on the curse of Cain http://scriptures.lds.org/en/gs/c/80

    The truth is that Joseph Smith was forcing would-be members to free their slaves before they were baptized. He also personally baptized and ordained blacks to the priesthood which was unheard of for his time. Later, Brigham Young, in 1852 decided to forbid blacks from the priesthood officially (totally common practice among all religions of the day) which lasted until 1978. However, blacks were always allowed to be members (not common practice for its day) and Brigham and Joseph both taught that we are equal in the eyes of God.

    What’s really ironic is that the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) of which Huckabee was a minister was created expressly for the purpose of continuing slavery and separating from the other Baptists for that purpose (see wikipedia). It’s now the 2nd largest religious body in the U.S. The SBC only officially apologized for being racist in 1995. Mormons on the contrary were not apologizing for being proslavery or anything else. There were already loved black Mormons in 1978, but now they could become the leadership of the Church.

    For a little more irony, the Mormon Church is thriving in Africa. Other American religions are there also, except among them, Mormons are some of the only people expressly forbidden to practice Polygamy. Many other mainline U.S. religions there allow it because it is such a dominant part of African culture, but not Mormons.

    As for portraying Romney as being anti-polygamy, but not anti-racist, he said he couldn’t wait for it to change and was so glad when it did. His father established the first Civil Rights organization in Michigan State government and marched with MLK. What more do you want?

  125. Did his dad really march with MLK?

    “However, blacks were always allowed to be members (not common practice for its day) and Brigham and Joseph both taught that we are equal in the eyes of God.”

    You sure ‘bout that? Equal but no Temple ordinances for having the wrong colored skin seems like inequality. Maybe equal in God’s eyes but not theirs.

    I think you’re jesting. Hopefully Margaret’s film will clear things up for ya.

  126. Jason – thanks for the well written response. I will reference the site you posted for myself.

    I agree that the biases we’re describing transcend most religions. Since this discussion is regarding Mormons, I’m focused on that religion…I mean…to say “they did it too” is probably not relevant. Wouldn’t you agree?

  127. Skeptical – I tend to agree with Jason. The entire issue is relevant only to the extent that the LDS Church has something, within its control, to apologize for. It would have something to apologize for only if its behavior somehow violated a relevant norm over a relevant time period. One relevant norm is how other religions and communities have behaved over the past 150+ years. Living in the South, I can tell you that the LDS Church, both today and over the past 150 years, was and is a shining example of racial harmony compared to life on the ground here. I provide some additional data points on this issue on my blog, Aequo et Bono, http://aequoetbono.blogspot.com/.

  128. but Jedijd (#127),- Think of a question from God such as this: “…but relatively speaking, if everybody [a bunch of religions] jumped off a cliff, would you [LDS] do it too?”

    To compare LDS’s record with the rest of the south doesn’t matter. To me, its akin to saying something like this:

    Well while the rest of the south would torture them before they killed them, we simply shot them in the head right away, as to avoid too much suffering”

    I know its a morbid fictional example, but it illustrate my point.

    150 years ago, there were many people on earth that knew that civil rights was the way to go and be. I understand the idea of “norm of the time”, but for something like our salvation and following Jesus or God, I’m just unforgiving. I feel that LDS or any other God fearing group should have been above the noise of discrimination…and not wait until it was popular to be accepting.

  129. Is “Skeptical” in reality DKL? (Prob not but still..)

  130. Hi there – not sure who DKL is, but it’s not me.

    I did want to share an epiphany I had last night while watching a movie that caused me to pause and soften my judgment. I was watching Pride and Prejudice and was noticing how the women from that period (18th Century perhaps) were really subordinate to men. It was as if they knew their role, the men knew theirs, and everybody accepted it. I imagined that if I were a male living during that period (take race out of this example), I may not (a strong “may not”) have been as diligent to correct the “wrong” towards the women as I’m expecting LDS members to have done long ago towards blacks. So towards that end, I can see how the historical argument has merit. However, I still think 1978 was waaaay to long for the correction to have happened. The word (civil rights issues) was out long enough by then for civilized people to make corrections.

    Just being real.

    Skep

  131. Steve Evans says:

    Skep, you’re not the only one who thought it took too long. Look at it from the point of view of the believer: I love this Church and really believe in its ability to help people and save souls. What, then, do I do with the fact that 1978 was too late? I refuse to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  132. I’m with you Steve. My feeling on why it took so long was that the people who knew it was wrong were waiting for God to correct an error made by men. I don’t think God does that, generally speaking. The ban should have been thrown out by the first prophet who realized that there was never any recorded revelation initiating the ban. I’m not sure who that was, but David O. McKay surely understood that. I think praying to ask God to change something that we started and then propped up with folk doctrines for years was an exercise in futility and a tragic waste of time.

  133. That, MCQ, is perhaps the most concise summary of my own view I have ever read. I can picture God shaking His head and mumbling to himself, “You collectively bought it and built it without asking me; you collectively destroy it and throw it away.”

  134. Then why did God give Pres. Kimball a revelation?

  135. No change was going to happen until Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B. Lee were dead. Once they were dead, change became possible, and happened almost immediately.

  136. Harold B. Lee died in 1973. Nearly five years before the change. Not exactly “immediately”. I believe it happened exactly as Spencer W. Kimball, & others who were there, described. I remember the day it was announced. I remember the phone calls. We were thrilled.

  137. Beth, please understand, I don’t think any of the last few commenters have even hinted that they don’t think it was revelation that finally lifted the ban. The comments simply are about why it took so long.

  138. “I think praying to ask God to change something that we started and then propped up with folk doctrines for years was an exercise in futility and a tragic waste of time.”

    How do you square this kind of thinking with the fact that OD2 reads as a fulfillment of prophecy?

  139. #138 – by pointing out that it doesn’t.

    It simply says that previous prophets had promised it would end at some point in God’s eternal plan. “It will change someday in the eternities” is not “prophecy” by any meaningful definition.

  140. I disagree — now I’m not saying that it *must* be based in prophecy, only that it sure reads like it (to me).

    “He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come…”

    This is like the Book of Mormon finally coming forth as was promised; or the Restoration, or the birth of the Savior, or what-have-you. God makes a promise and then prophets, by the Spirit of Prophecy, extend those promises to those who will hear–as Alma did when he spoke of the Savior’s coming into the world.

    Any prophetic utterance that has to do with establishing the veracity of an event, whether past or future (and even present it may be argued) is prophecy. The Testimony of Jesus is based in prophecy because one is able to testify that the Savior not only lives, but lived and will live.

    And so, the “long-promised day” finally arriving–especially when it is coupled with the idea that it is part of “God’s eternal plan”–sure has a prophetic feel.

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