Bott-ulism Outbreaks and Protective Correlation

As I have tried to formulate my thoughts about recent events, I have gained new appreciation for the guy with the shovel whose job it is to follow behind the circus parade after the horses and elephants have passed through. There is certainly a lot of raw material to work with. While there is much to regret, the really interesting question we need to answer is how this even happened in the first place.

I am surprised to see reactions which claim Randy Bott was some kind of rogue actor, or a man whose views are so far out-of-bounds that we are all shocked, SHOCKED, to hear them. He didn’t just accidentally come up with his opinions 5 minutes before he was interviewed by the Washington Post. He has been saying and teaching these things for years, decades even, and very few of us cared. He has published them on an open blog which he, apparently without any sense of irony, called Know Your Religion. The uncomfortable reality is that Br. Bott is one of us. Although his opinions are in the minority, they are certainly not unusual, and many of us know people who share them.

How did we get to the point where a man can be a bishop, a stake president, a mission president, and the most popular professor at BYU while simultaneously and openly expressing retrograde opinions? I suggest that maybe the reason is an unintended and unfortunate consequence of correlation. Years ago, I wrote a post called Two Cheers for Correlation in which I offered a limited defense of it and reasoned that in spite of a few downsides, it was necessary in order to help us reduce the promulgation of false doctrine and fringe views. I now withdraw that defense, because this recent business has demonstrated conclusively that false teachings continue to thrive among us. Correlation has managed to lower the boom on heterodoxy, but it has also caused a bull market in false ideas and false doctrines which are able to cloak themselves in orthodoxy. A woman who wears a pantsuit while teaching a Relief Society lesson on The Heavenly Parents is doing something transgressive, and she knows it. It is by no means implausible to think she might be on the carpet in the stake president’s office before the weekend. Meanwhile, a man who wears a white shirt and suit while talking about the ten tribes living under the polar ice cap, or quoting Rush Limbaugh (with attribution), or making racial jokes or homosexual jokes, is just another Sunday in priesthood meeting.  Consider the following examples:

  • Within 24 hours of representative Gabrielle Giffords being shot, a high priest, in the lesson part of priesthood meeting, jokes that she was lucky to have been shot in the head because “Dimocraps don’t have brains there anyway”. Yes, he got lots of laughs.
  • A mission president exhorts the missionaries in zone conference to make sure that when they return home, they only date women who are comfortable with polygamy, since that is going to be the way things are done in the celestial kingdom.
  • A professor at a church university uses the word “fag” multiple times in one class period.

All this is shocking, but not really surprising, and we could go on for pages with other examples. None of these people has been sanctioned, admonished, or even contradicted. The high priest teacher is still teaching, the mission president is still considered a spiritual giant by his missionaries, and the professor is still professing. I suggest that the reason is because they have adopted the protective coloration of correlation. I am firmly convinced that the biggest sources of false teaching in the church today are mission presidents and CES teachers, because they already have authority, and an automatic audience. Once, J. Golden Kimball was speaking at a meeting where there was a lot of concern about the wild ways of the younger generation. Kimball put everything in perspective. He said “Brothers and Sisters, we don’t need to worry about the youth. They will be fine. It’s these bald-headed bastards here on the front row you need to worry about.” And he was absolutely right.

The saddest part of the last two days has been to see Br. Bott’s behavior excoriated, not for the content of what he said, but because he didn’t follow Standard Operating Procedure. Apparently, the worst thing you can do these days is say something that hasn’t been correlated. And yet, I have personal knowledge that he has justified himself in the past by saying that his views had been vetted by correlation! I don’t blame him if he is feeling a sense of betrayal.

Ultimately, we all bear part of his shame. He did this for years — YEARS — and we only cared when it became a PR mess. The reporter from the Post held a mirror up to our faces, and we didn’t like what we saw. I have no idea where we’ll go from here, but I know that putting some lambsblood on Randy Bott and sending him out into the wilderness isn’t going to expiate our sins.

Comments

  1. it makes me so sad that if i share any un correllated opinions with my family they shun me

  2. “I know that putting some lambsblood on Randy Bott and sending him out into the wilderness isn’t going to expiate our sins.”

    Of course not. But it sure would be a symbolic first step in the right direction.

  3. A large portion of Church membership is oblivious to this controversy. Next time O.D. 2 is taught, or the book of Genesis, I expect to hear again about the Curse of Cain/Ham, and the same sort of defenses Brother Bott provided. There has not yet been a memo to the membership at large, and to teachers in particular, to stop teaching the prior doctrine/teachings. (And, in my view, they were official doctrine/teachings.)

  4. Gold star for the scapegoat reference.

  5. “The reporter from the Post held a mirror up to our faces, and we didn’t like what we saw. I have no idea where we’ll go from here, but I know that putting some lambsblood on Randy Bott and sending him out into the wilderness isn’t going to expiate our sins.”

    Indeed.

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Your last sentence FTW…

  7. Michelle says:

    “The saddest part of the last two days has been to see Br. Bott’s behavior excoriated, not for the content of what he said, but because he didn’t follow Standard Operating Procedure.”

    Do you have some links you can provide as references for the above?

    Thanks!

  8. Amen, Bishop Mark. Amen.

  9. Jeff #2: You and I have been singing the same tune.

    Look, I didn’t go to BYU, soI don’t have any experience with Bott’s apparently widespread teachings on race. I also don’t have as much experience as many seem to have with these types of theories being taught on Sunday. As near as I can recall, when such things have been raised, they’ve generally been dismissed by others present.

    But I think it’s a bit beside the point, too. Even if this has been allowed to go on for far too long, someone needs to put a stop to it, and there’s no time like the present. The Church’s news release was a good sign. Bott’s termination (or, at the very least, leave of absence while he contemplates his timely retirement) would be another good sign.

    I can’t ever recall hearing views like those put forward by Prof. Bott to the Washington Post and not being shocked. Maybe I’m atypical. I wish I wasn’t.

  10. Dave K. says:

    Pornography analogy time! No, seriously. When we teach the YM (and hopefully YW) how to avoid pornography, we tell them it’s not enough just to remove the smut from the stage (i.e, their mind). They have to put something good on the stage. Hence, sign a hymn, read the scriptures, etc.

    The same principle applies to the problem of racism. It is not enough to simply remove the smut from the stage and tell the members “we don’t know why.” However much we profess ignorance, the issue of “why” will still arise and good meaning members will speculate. Youth and new members want to know. So they ask their parents and friends, and when they say “not sure”, they’ll ask the Bishop, and then the seminary teacher and eventually their BYU Book of Mormon 121 instructor or mission president. Somewhere along the line, someone will break down and, in good conscience, try to explain it. And too often the only “answers” that person feels they can provide is the previously correlated stuff – namely, the smut sitting just offstage.

    This problem will continue to plague us until we replace the smut with something good. And the only good is the truth.

  11. Michelle (#7),
    You can’t possibly be serious, can you?

  12. Addendum to previous post: I should say, not since I became an adult. I was a young kid before 1978, and I recall a few years after that there being some odd ideas still circulating.

  13. John Taber says:

    Don’t forget that CES teachers provide a disproportionate share of mission presidents. (Not to mention bishops and stake presidents.)

  14. Some guy named Mark says:

    Do you have some source or numbers to back that up, John? (#13)

  15. Brother Bott’s opinions are not rare. Gene England conducted surveys showing such opinions were very common amongst BYU students who grew up after the ban was rescinded. This supports my own experience. Various false teachings on this subject were openly shared in my mission of less than two decades ago, and in seminary and institute classes.

    The fact is that the Church has, little by little, denounced the justifications for the priesthood ban, but never the ban itself. The Church has denounced racism but not a racially based ban. Even the most recent statement, one of the most forceful, simply says (somewhat disingenuously) that we don’t know the reason for the ban.

    Given that the ban itself has never been denounced that leaves room for members of the Church to continue to try to justify it. Is anyone shocked that Brother Bott did just that?

    Sadly, for whatever reason and despite urging the Church won’t just say, “The ban was wrong.”

    I have been forcefully denounced in person and on the internet for stating my opinion that the ban was a mistake, the product of Brigham Young’s racism, and not based on revelation. People have told me to my face that my views are unacceptable, un-Mormon, and heretical. When reasonable, intelligent members of the Church are unable to even contemplate that the ban itself was an error, clearly we have a problem.

    The statements from the Church have never given such people a solid reason to wonder if they might be wrong.

  16. Mark Brown says:

    Jeff (2) and BTD Greg (9),

    I’m with you fellers. I think public sanction, including dismissal from his job, is clearly appropriate here. My point is that if that is all we do. we are missing the point, and only pretending to fix the problem.

  17. I, for one, did not know Brother Bott or his teachings until the WaPo introduced us this week. As it happens, I have a daughter in his Mission Prep class, and she loves having him as an instructor. She’s been silent on this particular issue.

    I agree with your premise, Mark, that certain instructors bring with them the cloak of authority. I have wondered how I would respond in the examples you cite in the OP. Shocked silence used to be my game plan. I guess maybe it shouldn’t be anymore.

  18. “Correlation has managed to lower the boom on heterodoxy, but it has also caused a bull market in false ideas and false doctrines which are able to cloak themselves in orthodoxy.”

    Wow. So true.

  19. Mark, #16.

    Thanks. I should have clarified that I wasn’t disagreeing with anything in your post. I agree with you that the Church has a lot more work to do than just fire Prof. Bott.

  20. Amen. It does say something uncomfortable about us that several thousand (is that really true?!?!) BYU students were taught this awful drivel and not a single one ever said anything to BYU admins, parents back home, Church leaders at BYU or back home such that anyone did a single thing about BYU Religion Professor Bott’s peddling of viscious, wrong false doctrine. Perhaps some complained, but nothing ever happened and ProfBot continued to peddle his false doctrine. Where were his colleagues or department head while he was pushing this claptrap? What are the standards in the religion department? I suspect if a BYU math prof was teaching 2+2=5, someone would have said something. (we all know how swift his punishment would have been had he supported gay marriage, but that was too easy an example.). This sad episode says almost as much about us as it does Prof. Bott. His bile did hold up a mirror to BYU and the thousands who passed through his classes and those who should have been supervising him and the reflection is not very pretty.

  21. Brad (#11), I think Michelle (#7) is serious. Take a look at this story published today by The Newspaper Formerly Known As The Daily Universe. The subtitle to the story: Professor didn’t follow university media policy when speaking with newspaper.

  22. I don’t think we can assume Bott taught this stuff–at least not in this depth–in his classes. I took two semesters from him, and although I know he taught stuff I disagreed with, I don’t recall discussions on the priesthood ban. And students who disagreed with him on other points got shot down very quickly (standard CES practice, and I think, at heart, that Bott is one of the few BYU religion professors who fits the CES profile).

  23. John Taber says:

    It is my observation that a CES professional (religion faculty, professional seminary teacher, institute director, CES administrator, some combination) is far more likely to be called to a position such as bishop, stake president, or mission president than your average professional high priest. No, I do not have numbers to back that up.

  24. “What does say something uncomfortable about us that several thousand (is that really true?!?!) BYU students were taught this awful drivel and not a single one ever said anything to BYU admins, parents back home, Church leaders at BYU or back home such that anyone did a single thing about BYU Religion Professor Bott’s peddling of viscious, wrong false doctrine. ” I do not think that is correct. I don’t have any children who have attended BYU, but I have some who have gone to institute where they have heard this sort of drivel, and complained. It has been no secret for a long, long time that this kind of thing has continued to be taught and believed widely in the Church, and Salt Lake City knew about it and has known for a long time. Requests to do something to end the continuation of folklore have largely gone nowhere (other than by removing Mormon Doctrine from being published again). I don’t think this particular episode would have led to such an FP statement were it not published in a national newspaper during a year that two prominent Mormons have been running for the nomination to run against the first black President in US history. Questions from outside the faith community tend to bring change. Question from within, not so much. Whatever the reason, I am glad, though I wish the statement were stronger.

  25. For those who haven’t seen it, the cached version of Bott’s 2008 blog post on blacks and the priesthood is at

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:0SMq6ySO99MJ:ldskyr.blogspot.com/2008/04/blacks-and-priesthood.html+http://ldskyr.blogspot.com/2008/04/blacks-and-priesthood.html&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us&client=firefox-a.

    IMHO, the repeated calls in this and other fora for Bott’s termination (in some cases coming from people who I strongly suspect found the treatment of the September Six highly objectionable) pose interesting questions about the desirability of academic freedom in BYU’s religious education department.

  26. Perhaps as important as anything else:

    Has he really taught this stuff in a missionary preparation class, as has been said in one of the other threads?

    Why would he teach this stuff, or anything related to the ban, in a missionary preparation class? How in the world did he manage to insert it into that type of class – unless it is a pet topic about which he is obsessed and refuses to accept the prophetic pronouncements over the last 30 years, much like the FLDS and polygamy?

    I can’t see any alternative except that he had to be trying to do so intentionally – knowing it wasn’t part of “Preach My Gospel” or in line with the words of the leadership of the last 30 years. Maybe his justifications are like those of the fundamentalist Mormon polygamists, that the earlier stance was correct and still needs to be taught and believed.

    If there is such a thing as apostasy that is worth losing a job at BYU, teaching that drivel (and especially teaching it in a missionary prep class) is it.

  27. I have a niece who did complain to either the department chair or the dean about some of Bro. Bott’s questionable religious opinions which he had expressed in class. Apparently whoever she talked with said, “Yeah, we get complaints about him sometimes,” and that was the end of it.

  28. it's a series of tubes says:

    I took two semesters from him, and although I know he taught stuff I disagreed with, I don’t recall discussions on the priesthood ban.

    This was my experience as well. I was living with a black roommate at the time, so I was particularly attuned to the issue and would like to think I would have remembered such discussions.

    My roommate was a convert in his mid-teens, a valiant missionary, and a better and more honorable man than just about anyone else I have ever met.

  29. Ray, I took mission prep from Bott back in the day. His practice was (and, I’m told, still is) to open up the floor of his class for the first fifteen minutes and take random doctrinal questions from the students.

  30. “Blacks were denied priesthood because they were not ready.” I think we can all admit (some more readily than others) that the truth of the matter is that Blacks were denied the priesthood because white men, like Bro. Bott, were not ready.

  31. Thanks for the input, JimD. That certainly would give him an opening to teach his own views contrary to the current Church leadership. He could quote all the old things and conveniently fail to mention the newer statements.

  32. I’m probably misunderstanding somewhere, but are you saying that to reduce the number of wild speculations, we need to have even more specific doctrines spelled out for us?

  33. A random John – # 15
    “my opinion that the ban was a mistake, the product of Brigham Young’s racism, and not based on revelation.”

    Absolutely! 100%. Obvious to those who have studied history and don’t fear the fires of hell and damnation for seeing that he messed up here – big time.

    P.S. I’ve never heard of “Br. Bott” in my life.

  34. Fantastic, Mark. Just fantastic.

  35. Mark B. says:

    By the way, Mark Brown, I would appreciate your sending a royalty check for every use of the word “Bott-ulism.” I coined the term, and have common law trademark rights to the term based on my first use (see my comment at 12:06 p.m. today on the “Armand Mauss” thread). I could show you a private email from yesterday, but, unfortunately, I’d have to kill you immediately afterwards. And I want to save all my homicidal impulses for other, more deserving, souls. Or viruses.

  36. Mark Brown says:

    32, Frank,

    No, I’m saying that the expectation that everything should be spelled out for us is a disaster and we should abandon it.

    The move in the missionary program, away from prescribed discussions to a program which allows for individual judgement, is a good example of the direction I think we need to go.

  37. Thanks, Mark. I had thought that was possibly what you said, but I wasn’t quite sure.

  38. Kairuku says:

    [quote]Ultimately, we all bear part of his shame. He did this for years — YEARS — and we only cared when it became a PR mess.[/quote]

    I don’t think that blanket assumption is warranted. Part of the problem is that we can only care about something that we experience, and so that leaves out everybody who hasn’t taken a class from Professor Bott. In fact, the fact that the public release of this had such a strong response tells me that very many people care about this stuff, once they realize it exists.

    Now, I am a BYU student, but I have never taken a class from Professor Bott. However, if I did hear this kind of stuff from a religion professor, I would care. But, as a response to David Heap@24, even if I was in his class, what would I do? There’s a bit of an extra twist at BYU (and especially with religion classes), where some professor positions are almost thought of as callings, and saying that a BYU religion professor said something wrong is about as awkward as saying your Stake President said something wrong (I adamantly disagree with this, but it’s what I feel is sometimes the consensus). If some professor in some religion class said something I felt was wrong, I really would have no idea who to go to without feeling I was making a mistake. I think we should look, as rbc@20 said, to those who were supervising Professor Bott. Changes to doctrinal teachings in the Church can only come from above, so I don’t think we should all bear the shame for this.

  39. Mark, your blaming correlation for this doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. If anything this shows that we need more correlation and more current correlation, not less. Are you saying we are correlating on the wrong things? I’m not sure I understand.

  40. Mark Brown says:

    Matt, I’m saying that when we have an expectation that everything we hear has been approved or vetted. we are less inclined to do our own thinking.

    It was very frustrating to me that when I gave some friends at church a copy of Nobody Knows for Christmas,. their first question to me was “Has this been approved?” I hate — really, really hate — how Mormons have become fearful of our own shadows. If our culture were a little bit different, I think somebody would have challenged Br. Bott long ago. But since he had the stamp of approval, he was allowed to go hog-wild.

  41. I didn’t read the post as saying correlation caused or exacerbated this situation–only that it was designed to prevent situations like this; and that such a spectacular failure of the process begs the question of whether the process is really doing us any good at all.

  42. Just learned that when Randy Bott started dating his wife at the age of 21, she was just 16 years old.

  43. Alex, how lovely and relevant!

  44. #42 – So what?

    I’ll pile with my concern about what he said, but why should I care about that in the slightest? I know plenty of wonderful people his age about whom that is true.

  45. I know i know. Personal attacks. Sorry. I’m just really pissed at the guy right now. I loved this article by the way.

  46. Ron Madson says:

    Excellent post Mark,
    I have wondered why the church has not issued a statement unequivocally denouncing all the racist doctrines that contributed to and metastasized from the Priesthood ban? My theory has been that to do so would undermine confidence in “following the prophet/leaders for they will not lead you astray” belief that is also allowed to thrive without renunciation —especially since this is not some minor oversight or error of men but rather a very fundamental and gross error that denied an entire race the full blessings of our faith for 140 years. This is particularly inexcusable when you consider that any suggestion that they were the products of their time/culture is a pathetic excuse when they requires that we, in order to also have the full blessing of the gospel, sustain them not as mere ordinary men but rather “prophets/seers/ and revelators.”

    I would sustain any leadership that demonstrated in a meaningful way real repentance as they invite us to practice–but it must start with a full and unbridled confession that we did “know” why it occurred and we recognize and have deep sorrow for all the consequences have and does now flow therefrom.

  47. it's a series of tubes says:

    Alex, I just learned that when Joseph Smith first started dating Helen Mar Kimball, she was 14 years old!

  48. “Ultimately, we all bear part of his shame. He did this for years — YEARS — and we only cared when it became a PR mess. The reporter from the Post held a mirror up to our faces, and we didn’t like what we saw.”

    Well, speak for your self. Many of us have stood firmly against these things for DECADES, even before President Hinckley or Elder Scott spoke about it; just to be frowned upon and be dismissed as “apostates” or “people who do not support our leaders.” I have a deep peace of mind when it comes to this garbage, which the Church (leadership and membership) has done little to combat.

    Every conference, we hear messages that are intended to direct us and shape us as members of the Church: as individuals as well as a community as a whole. My assumption is that the ultimate intention is to help us become more like Jesus Christ, and live our lives in a manner in which our descisions reflect our desire to be back with Heavenly Father.

    Many times we hear the same message over and over again. One must assume we as a community still struggle with the issue at hand and it is necessary that we hear once more that which we must pay attention to.

    How many times has racism been the focal point of a full sermon in conference, say like pornography has?

    In fact, when the Church speaks of racism, it speaks in denial, “we are not racist, period.” It is an erroneous assumption, yet, a convenient one for the political and marketing environment we want to be in.

    Correlation aside, I think we have a problem of leadership, and not even being able to admit we have a problem in the Church regarding racism to the extent that it needs to be the focal point of sermons and teachings.

    In my experience, the people who believe in racist teachings are in no way a “minority” as this post seems to imply. It is difficult to know, but I highly doubt it is so.

    As long as we continue to state “a minority” of odd fellows still believe in this “folklore,” we will never be able to address the problem. Because this minority, is teaching at BYU, in Sunday School, in Priesthood Meetings, and yet, in the context of conference, it seems to our leaders the problem hardly exists.

    Apparently, there are more members of the Church watching pornography than harboring old LDS unispired racist propaganda… I don’t think so.

    Yet, even if it were to be a minority, the issue deserves special attention because this minority believes to be “right” since the racisti propaganda they perpetuate was actually generated by “Prophets and Apostles.” It is incredibly irresponsible of our leaders to keep turning a blind eye to this problem.

    It is easy to speak against universally acknowledged evils such as pornography… the Church is not producing or has ever produced pornography. But when it comes to racist beliefs, then the leaders appear a bit coy (to say the least), because well, the Church has produced these disgraceful teachings. Can we all see the convenient manner in which we handle these issues?

    So, correlation aside, ultimately there are people responsible for these teachings to continue to exist in the Church. Some of us have said it many times in many forms, but we will always be regarded as “apostates” and “spiritual savages with no testimony of LDS leadership.”

    Using corrrelation as a scapegoat is a clever way to protect those who are directly responsible, imo.

  49. It’s interesting to me that for many on this forum and elsewhere in the bloggernacle that Randy Bott’s statements are so surprising. Dave in #10 is absolutely right, the answer wasn’t always “we don’t know.” Not in the general Mormon populace at least. For decades the answers were cobbled together and on this particular issue while we did turn on a dime with regards to how we treat our brothers of color when O.D. 2 was made (by making the temple and priesthood available to them), the explanation for why it was put in place was not quenched. Even though Bruce McConkie stood up and told everyone he was wrong, Mormon Doctrine was still on the shelves in thousands of members homes. And trust me, even today if a youth keeps asking why, eventually they’re going to unearth those same theories either on the internet or on a dusty library shelf or from a trusty teacher of a certain age. Since we don’t deeply teach O.D. 2 and the history of it and the murky details around why the ban was in place, all of these other available insights surface. And many, many members still hold those same ideas they probably learned at some point and haven’t checked them at the door even though the Church has taken a different direction. How many members do you think will be aware of this even today after the Bott issue dies down? I guarantee I can walk into sacrament meeting next Sunday and find 70% of my non Wasatch front Ward who aren’t even aware of the kerfuffle and 50% of them who know the theories in question and potentially 30% of them who probably believe some element of them is accurate. Your average Mormon does not dig that deeply on these questions. At least that’s the experience of a BYU grad who as lived in the “mission field” his entire life outside the 4 years I spent in Happy Valley and has many friends who grew up along the Mormon corridors.

  50. Manuel,

    I know how passionately you feel about this general topic, as do I. If I had to draw lines for two “sides”, you and I definitely would be on the same side. Having said that:

    “In my experience, the people who believe in racist teachings are in no way a “minority” as this post seems to imply.”

    ime, they are a small minority. The majority probably have never heard the racist teachings, since the majority were baptized after 1978 outside the Inter-Mountain West – and I believe even the American majority don’t believe those justifications any more.

    “the leaders appear a bit coy (to say the least)”

    There is nothing “coy” about the statements I listed in the post to which I linked in the “Pride, Gross Iniquity…” post. The only aspect that might be considered “coy” is the lack of an explicit statement calling the ban itself racist – but the “racist teachings” have been condemned in terms that are not coy in any way.

    “Using corrrelation as a scapegoat is a clever way to protect those who are directly responsible, imo.”

    That simply is not what this post says or does.

  51. The curse of Cain crap was not originated among LDS people, and it will not die. Disregarding that the same people, who were the most prolific promulgators of such stuff, BRM & JFS, publicly (well, at least BRM did) repudiated the doctrine and asked us to forget what he or anyone else had said on the subject.

  52. The Religion Dept. at BYU has been a nest of oddness for decades.

    Consider, Cleon Skousen taught there for years as a religion professor, sharing his belief that a secret Jewish conspiracy ran the world, the John Birch Society was an admirable organization and the communist had secretly taken over the U.S.

    When I was there in the 1980s, I had religion professors who: 1) Thought dinosaurs were placed in the rocks to get mankind to deny Christ. 2) Trumpeted the idea that the Lord wants us to go above the commandments (15% tithing rather than 10%, no chocolate rather than just no coffee). 3) Claimed men who allowed their wives to work outside the home were failing in their role to preside in the home. 4) Advocated that some children needed to be beaten with a belt. 5) And, free agency didn’t apply to the right of children to pick their religion.

  53. Ray,

    Then I guess we have had very different experiences. I understand you are looking at the membership from a global stand point, fine. I guess as the Church grows globally, it will continue to be more and more difficult to say “the majority of Mormons this, or the majority of Mormons that.” From my experience with leaders, members of the Church in the wards that I have belonged to, missionary companions, MTC teachers, and my interaction with the LDS community in general, I disagree the racist beliefs reside in a minority.

    The LDS racist propaganda resides with differing depths and different effects, but certainly not in a minority. I believe a majority of LDS will be inclined to believe the priesthood ban ocurred in the “Lord’s own due time, and for whatever purposes He intended.” This imo, is part of the racist propaganda. Perhaps this is where we differ, in what actually falls within the LDS racist propaganda.

    I have not read your “Pride, Iniquity…” post. I want to present the view of a memeber of the Church who has not gone digging around for statements, but what is actually available to the Church as a whole and in the venues intended for the messages to be directed to us members of the Church. In this sense, I am sorry but I find the leader’s actions coy, and once again, to say the least. I am sorry if you disagree with this. In fact, the recent response of “we don’t know” for the media scandal is coy, and it is the most recent statement from a Church official to the general public.

    You blame correlation, CES teachers and Stake Presidents for the diffusion of the teachings, and I am not disagreeing with you. I guess I have never agreed with the stance that the correlation comittee and the Prophet and Apostles are two entities so far apart and independent from each other that one seems to be unaware of what the other does and how it affects the general audience, and vice-versa.

  54. Manuel is right. It is not a tiny minority who believe and teach this. It is not a majority. As the older generation dies off, hopefully those ideas will go with them. I think that has been the hope of the general Church leaders. The next time I hear curse of Cain in church (and I will almost certainly), I am not sure that the FP’s recent statement will persuade anyone that the Church has disavowed curse of Cain. I suspect I will be told that, at best, the FP’s statement disavows the less valient theory, but not the theory that all who had “one drop” of Cain’s blood have always, until 1978, been denied priesthood/temple blessings (with a few exceptions during Joseph’s ministry). How would someone here construe the FP statement as disavowing curse of Cain/Ham?

  55. Jonathan says:

    The institutional LDS Church will never admit that it or its leaders were just wrong on the priesthood ban. Why? The reason is simple. The church is not suicidal.

    The ban was explicitly taught for over a century as the revealed word of God, confirmed by LDS scripture. To say now that it was just “wrong” or a “mistake” would be to admit that a president of the church, speaking ex officio and saying Thus Saith the Lord, can still be wrong. That would contradict Wilford Woodruff’s statement, clung to by countless Mormons since then, that the president of the church will never lead the church astray. If the church concedes that nevertheless it did happen with the priesthood ban, then Peter has pulled his finger out of the dike and the floods begin. The whole edifice would start to crack apart.

    Because the general membership would then properly ask “Well if they were wrong about that, what else might they have been wrong about which they claimed was God’s will? What about that Prop 8 thing that the church took such a black eye about? Maybe those results show that it wasn’t so inspired after all. And maybe the church is wrong about those gay people. What about that Word of Wisdom thing that even Joseph and Brigham ignored their whole lives, if they drank wine and whisky even while presiding over the church, why can’t we? What about polygamy? Considering Emma’s reactions and Joseph’s prevarications, maybe that wasn’t so inspired either. In which case, what about all those inspired teachings that it was essential for the celestial kingdom?” On and on, there’d be no stopping it.

    The whole legitimacy of the LDS church rests on its claim of modern revelation. One is not supposed to question the pronouncements of the president of the church, speaking as such. If the church admits that even then, a prophet may be wrong, all moorings are torn away. Legitimacy is gone. Everything is up for re-examination and, potentially, rejection. There is NO way the church will risk that.

  56. Never Baptized says:

    As an investigator a couple of years ago I decided to take the Book of Mormon class at the local Institute of Religion. Several lessons in when it got to the part in 1 or 2 Nephi where the Lamanites skin is changed to black the instructor explained it as God having used people’s prejudices against each other as a curse, i.e., the Nephites would adopt God-sanctioned racist attitudes against the Lamanites and become enemies. Needless to say I never went back. As an act of “rebellion” I went to the local Community of Christ church and had the joy of sitting in front of a family where the dad was angrily telling his daughter that she better not have any black baby dolls. Needless to say I never went back. Hence the handle above (though I’ve still got my non-LDS baptism certificate signed by an adulterous Methodist preacher when I was 8).

  57. “I believe a majority of LDS will be inclined to believe the priesthood ban ocurred in the “Lord’s own due time, and for whatever purposes He intended.”

    Manuel, I think we have been talking past each other a bit. I read your original comment as saying that the majority of members believe **the racist justifications** for the ban, not that the majority of members believe the ban in some way was the Lord’s will.

    I agree that the majority of members probably believe the ban was the Lord’s will – and that, to me, is unfortunate. I just don’t believe the majority of members believe the former justifications anymore. I think the majority now are in the “we don’t know why” camp.

    Sorry for the misunderstanding.

  58. I’ve been a student at BYU for a number of years now, so I’ve had fairly recent experience with the religion department. In my experience, religion professors at BYU are quite a mixed bag. I’ve had some who are excellent, and I’ve had others who aren’t so excellent. A lot of it depends on the subject and the background of the professor. There are some subjects, such as Old Testament, which are taught by scholars with rigorous academic standards and PhDs related to the subjects they teach. Other classes, however, like Book of Mormon and Mission Prep are taught more like CES classes, and a lot of the professors have degrees in rather unrelated fields. Which makes sense, because there isn’t exactly an academic discipline with academic standards that corresponds with a class like Mission Prep.

    What is unfortunate about classes like Book of Mormon and Mission Prep is that these are classes usually taken by impressionable freshmen who don’t have the experience to either (1) distinguish between true and false doctrine, or (2) know what to do if they hear something that doesn’t sound right. My roommate took Brother Bott’s class when she was a sophomore, and she was really disturbed by an opinion that Brother Bott gave about how open a couple considering marriage should be with each other about past transgressions. She didn’t know what to do other than talk to her parents about it, who said Brother Bott’s opinion was just an opinion (and quite possibly a harmful one). But he hadn’t presented it as an opinion. He didn’t say, “Well, here’s my own personal opinion on the matter” or “Well, here are the pros and cons of both sides” or “Well, that’s something you should probably pray about” or “Well, your bishop would probably be more qualified than I am to discuss the matter with you.” Rather, he gave his opinion as unequivocal fact.

    So there are two problems going on here. One is that you have someone who is potentially teaching some false (and downright harmful) doctrine. The other is that he’s teaching it authoritatively. And because he’s a professor at BYU, and because he has superstar status, and because his students tend to be very young, those students don’t know any better. I never had Brother Bott specifically, but I nonetheless definitely heard some strange doctrines (second endowment, anyone?) in my Book of Mormon class and my Doctrines of the Gospel class at BYU when I was a freshman/sophomore. And I believed them for several years because I assumed that a BYU professor speaking in an authoritative manner must know what he’s talking about. I know that these instructors are well-meaning, but that’s not enough when you have impressionable minds at stake. This debacle is, among other things, a timely call for the religion department to reevaluate and raise their standards of teaching.

  59. Mike H. says:

    The was a Religion Prof at BYU in the early 1980’s (the name escapes me now), who pushed heavily on having students develop a relationship with Jesus Christ. Word of this did spread to Salt Lake, where Bruce R. McConkie then came to BYU, & said at a Devotional that we should not exclusively focus our worship efforts on just one member of the Godhead. The Religion Prof said after that he was going to revise his Teachings.

    As I mention in another BCC thread, I don’t buy into Blacks were being “protected from being condemned” by not having the Priesthood. Read D&C 84:42 for that one.

    #30: Some Nations were not ready for the Gospel, either looking at how poor missionary work as been at times. Look at Mexico & Japan pre-1950. That didn’t stop those who converted who were worthy from getting the Priesthood there. So, I’m suspicious of anyone saying “Blacks weren’t ready for the Priesthood”. And, Jane Manning James’s spiritual & opposition experiences in the Church were right up there with the best of the while sisters of that era.

  60. In the Doctrines Of The Gospel class I took in 2003 at BYU, Douglas Brinley taught us all non-whites would resurrect with white complexion. Taught it with unflinching certainty, as true doctrine, in the presence of a small number of non-white students. He actually used the phrase “the blacks” in his explanation. If he had taught us that we have a Heavenly Mother worthy of worship, he’d have been fired or worse. But he gets paid to shovel this bullshit to hundreds of impressionable students and “Know Your Religion” devotional attendees year after year.

    There was a time when I would have told this story publicly without revealing Brinley’s name. That time is past.

  61. Jonathan (#55), I don’t think it’s necessarily suicide. My own views on the things you listed are conflicted, at best, but I haven’t left, and my overall testimony isn’t shaken. I think most of us here are in the same boat.

    Would it be painful to abandon some of the traditions of our fathers? Of course, it always is. Is it absolutely necessary? Of course, it always is.

  62. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 59, that was George Pace.

  63. Mike H. says:

    #62, Thanks, Kevin, I thought it was Pace, but I wasn’t 100% sure.

    Heterodoxy is pushed at BYU. So, get some “zingers” from some Profs there, anyhow. Duanne Crowther continued on at BYU, even after “Prophecy: Key To The Future”, with it’s drawing on things like select Patriarchal Blessings to be binding of future major events for the World, or the heavy use of Orson Pratt.

    Or, Rodney Turner had some odd ideas, like, yes, men can become Gods, but women will never be Goddesses, there’s no such thing. Or, his treatment on Adam-God Theory, where Turner said it was True in Brigham Young’s day, but it is now untrue today. Um, how’s THAT supposed to happen?

    So, in light of all this, it seems that BYU’s Religion Department is not exempt from having some of it’s members teach some real off the wall stuff.

  64. christer1979 says:

    Something that just occurred to me is how eery it is that people will cling on the former doctrine even when it has changed. There are some generations who learned at BYU that delaying children for ANY reason is akin to worshipping false idols. I’ve encountered that attitude in my family, and despite pointing our that the official stance is “families and children are important; it’s between you, your spouse, and the Lord,” I was still encouraged to accept that the “real” doctrine is to follow what was thought 40 years ago. So are those who are fundamentalist about birth control, polygamy, and race relations tacitly questioning the ability of prophets to receive revelation? Do they see these issues of casualties of the PC war?

  65. I don’t understand why nearly everyone is ordering anti-racism over/higher than religious doctrine. It’s as if magically they either should never conflict, or if they do then the anti-racism is automatically correct. This seems very “presentist” and assimilationist.

  66. re 60, Brad, fallible is one thing. Rotting at the core is another. Its like we all have Stockholm Syndrome. “So many horrible things have happened (and still do) within this Church that are damaging to so many people! – but I love it and will never leave!”

    Count me out.

  67. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 55 From my (outsider) perspective, Mormonism just doesn’t seem that brittle. It’s a faith community that has endured much worse than the loss of the illusion of infallibility. The more I think about this, the more I agree with Kevin Barney. You might have it exactly backwards, Jonathan.

  68. Jonathan says:

    @#67:

    Mike, I don’t doubt the resiliency or the ability of members to change their beliefs over time. Perhaps I should have drawn the distinction more clearly. Will the church find a way to adapt and continue on? Most likely. Will it have the same credibility, trustworthiness or legitimacy? Absolutely not.

  69. #66 – Serious questions, based only on what you wrote in one comment:

    Do you live in America – or England – or China – or India – or any other country? Are you Christian – or Buddhist – or Jewish – or Muslim – or aligned with any other organized religion – or even Atheist?

    If so, why haven’t you left?

  70. #25 FWIW this debacle has absolutely nothing to do with academic freedom or the September six.

  71. Jonathan (#55),

    Given that Thomas S. Monson was present when the 1978 revelation occurred, and that we don’t have the text, if any, of that revelation, I could imagine that it is possible that the revelation was more specific than we’ve been told. For example, if the brethren were told that the ban was a mistake to begin with, or even simply given that impression, he could choose to share that.

    Even without such a circumstance there is currently a Prophet and he could receive a more specific revelation. None of this is any more impossible than OD 2 itself.

  72. KerBearRN says:

    Thanks for this Mark. And regarding the many students who have been taught this drivel and never said something to parents or administration — my last year at BYU one of my roommates was in a lower-division religion class (25 years ago, no idea who the prof was) and repeatedly came back from class upset. Seems this prof was promoting as doctrine some pretty ugly views regarding the availability of repentance and forgiveness for sexual sins. To the point that 1) a couple of young men had walked out of class after being told they had committed the unforgivable and 2) the prof then bragging to the class how there were “many students walking the halls” of BYU who this prof had needed to set straight about their “forgivability”, (AND how worthless these kids now felt and wasn’t it horrible about those sins). At the strong urging/insistence of all of us, she and a couple of other students went to the Religion Dept office to make a complaint. There they were told that the Department didn’t have any control over what profs taught in class and would therefore do nothing.

    Sadly, it sounds as if nothing has changed.

  73. bmh,

    The September 6 angle is actually very interesting and relevant. Would more liberal members want him to be fired, as what is good for the goose is good for the gander? Or would they want him to stay in the interest of BYU showing progress on the academic freedom front? Not that I think there is anything very academic about his statement or blog post.

    If he isn’t fired would this mean greater freedom for other faculty to speak their minds on controversial issues? It would certainly be harder politically to fire someone in the future for speaking out on LDS topics if Bott is retained.

    It is very hard for me to see how someone could say that this whole situation is unrelated. You could try to frame it in terms of him violating university policy, but that’s really sidestepping a clear academic freedom issue. If you’re fired for talking to the media about a subject you teach on it is pretty clear cut.

  74. Person of Interest says:

    Sorry, I have been a member all my life, but what the heck is correlation? Given that Joseph Smith ordained some men to the priesthood, I had always thought that the ban was some sort of attempt to stay out of the civil war. And then it just took that long to have a full quorum of apostles willing to vote unanimously to lift it. But, I really have no idea why. None whatsoever. My husband is black and he liked a quote he heard recently where a man said “America is profoundly racist, but no one can find any racists”. Racism is a problem in the church, as it is in any community that has any white people in it, or any people in it for that matter, all over America. I am very much satisfied that the church had been educating and teaching its members so that it could lift the ban without a mass exodus from the church, or a riot. When I was giving birth to one of my sons, a nurse at the hospital kept handing me paperwork to fill out, I kept handing one form back blank, she kept handing it back to me to fill out. Finally I said “that is a acknowledgement of paternity form. That is a form I would only have to fill out if I was not married to the father of the child. We are married.” She expressed that she had no idea we were married, and apologized. I insist to my husband if we were both white, she would have assumed we were married. But, because I am white, and he is black, she assumed the baby was out of wedlock, and this is racist. My husband doesn’t think this was racist because there are so many out of wedlock births, she probably assumes that about everyone. My husband talks about going to the store, in an eastern state that is usually votes for the democratic candidate, and can be called very liberal, and seeing women hide their pocket books as he walks by. Please, make no mistake, racism is wide spread in America, even by people that have no idea they are racist, and are vocal against it. The church does not own or create this, and I am happy with their efforts to work around sentiments that are built into the larger culture to which its members belong.

  75. KerBearRN says:

    Person of Interest– please don’t take the nurse handing you the Declaration of Paternity forms as an indication of racism– it is really just a sad reflection on the degradation of the family in the US. As a nurse who has worked both L&D and NICU, I am aware that in some hospitals (I have worked at them), married partners are the exception rather than the rule. Many hospitals now include these forms in their “standard admission packet”. As nurses, we are simply told to get the packets filled out. Forms that don’t apply (and there are more than just the DofP) we simply set aside. The packets are made up, in advance, by the dozens or even hundreds.

  76. a random John,

    Academic freedom in the Religion Department at BYU is to speak and publish on whatever is interesting to the professor within the bounds of Church propriety. This is something quite different than creating a controversy with inappropriate and offensive comments, writings, or teachings. In my view Prof. Bott clearly crossed the line. If he were fired it would send the message that the BYU Religion Department takes very seriously how its faculty behaves. It would be a clear warning to its faculty to be more self aware for the sake of the Church, the students, and the general public. It would also reassure parents of students that the Religion Department cares about what’s going on in the classroom.

    If Prof. Bott is not fired I highly doubt it would be viewed as giving license to the faculty to say anymore on controversial issues than they already do. It is quite a different thing to deal with a controversial issue in a non controversial way. The idea is not to create a controversy for the Church, Religion Department, and especially the students.

    But truthfully, if this happened at any other secular university Prof. Bott would already be gone.

    As far as liberals go in the BYU Religion Department, well, quite frankly, there aren’t many. But it may be true that the the few that are there would support the firing of Prof. Bott more than their conservative colleagues. If that’s like the September Six, then so be it.

  77. KerBearRN says:

    Clarifying– the forms we set aside are done so per patient request, not by nurse “discretion”. She was just doing her job, in a way that that hospital has probably determined to be the most efficient. I can understand your sensitivity to the subject, but please don’t make those kind of assumptions.

  78. I was a young man in the 1960s and troubled by the practice of withholding the priesthood from blacks. It didn’t feel right, but I served a mission and continued a life of activity in the church. I was incredibly happy when the revelation was received officially ending a practice that never had an official, revealed, doctrinal beginning. I have tried to be a good student of the Gospel, and I have read and re-read the scriptures, along with a lot of commentary. I conclude that as members, we need to be a lot more responsible for our own spiritual education, and blindly trusting teachers to spoon feed us the truth is extremely hazardous. In many respects, church doctrine is a lot less black and white, no pun intended, than many assume. I feel sorry for this instructor, whom I never knew at BYU. Being looked up to my adoring freshmen who don’t know any better can go to your head and after a while you start to think you really know something when in fact you don’t. It’s even worse if you are called to positions “of authority,” and forget the lessons of D&C 121.

  79. a woman named hb says:

    this is only to say that i have taught rs, conducted rs, attended ward correlation, and given talks in pants suits multiple times. and the only people to take me aside to counsel me have been other women. but all that was out in the mission field, as they say.
    oh. once the bishop did say he was considering calling me as a counselor, but he was a friend, so i took that as a compliment.

  80. Left Field says:

    “Kimball put everything in perspective. He said ‘Brothers and Sisters, we don’t need to worry about the youth. They will be fine. It’s these bald-headed bastards here on the front row you need to worry about.’”

    I don’t think I’ve heard that one before, though I told a J Golden story to the deacons just last Sunday. But Brother Golden’s quip parallels something else I heard the same day. A couple and their teenage daughter spoke in sacrament meeting and all gave wonderful straight-from-the-heart sermons about the gospel and what it has meant in their lives. Among many thoughtful remarks, the daughter–perhaps fifteen years old–mentioned that the Lord loves everyone the same, regardless of their race or sexual orientation. She made a passing remark about tattoos and unimportant it is if someone has one. But her focus was entirely on the gospel and what it means in her life. Later, I was talking to our former Bishop who was in complete agreement on the subject of this young woman’s remarkably moving sermon.

    “We don’t have to worry about the young people,” he said. “They’ll be just fine.”

  81. Just a quick observation: we heap so much blame on Brigham Young, and yet, once he died there were plenty of others who could have said, “No, this is wrong.” But there weren’t enough of them (or any?). And there weren’t enough of us for a long time. It’s sad. We were wrong. Though, I desire grace for our ancestors and for my own failings. I guess I’m just saying this is a collective burden and Brother Bott is our burden.

  82. Karen M. says:

    Thanks for writing this.
    “The reporter from the Post held a mirror up to our faces, and we didn’t like what we saw.”
    Maybe I’m a horrible person, but I’m kind of glad that the church is being called out on so many things lately. Not that I want bad press–I love the church. Truly. But what a great opportunity for self-examination and change where it’s needed.

  83. Perhaps the only saving grace is that this incident occurred on a college campus and that most academic communities are better equipped and more open to addressing such problems. Maybe BYU could offer a seminar discussing the origins and evolution of the folklore, with both students and faculty participating in the same way that Richard Bushman addressed Joseph Smith history. What strikes me as odd is that deciding to retain Bott seems to say that racism is not grounds for forced retirement, but speculating on the how’s and why’s of building collapse somehow crosses the line. Stranger still is that perhaps it’s more appropriate to bear witness to the truthfulness of a PR statement.

    If anything maybe those who are hurt by such statements and have decided to stay have been afforded a window into why some have chosen to leave, and what steps are necessary before some return.

  84. Steve Nelson says:

    FWIW, Randy Bott was in my Stake Presidency (Orem Utah Northridge) for a decade. I hate to put it this way, but he’s said many outrageous things over the years, including from the pulpit at Stake Conference. The difference is that this time he said it in the wrong forum.

    What world does he live in to think he can say what he said (even if he believes it) and not get the reaction he got?

  85. At first I thought that this was embarrassing, then I started to feel bad for Bro. Bott, then I skimmed over his KYR page (linked in #25) and I read this:

    “He stammered a little and said: “I had never looked at it that way before!” I assured him that most people hadn’t. Then I turned to the Sister Stake Missionary who had brought the Black investigator, and said to her: “Up until this very day, God is still discriminating against 50% of His children in not allowing them to hold the priesthood– they are women. But (I continued), I vote that women can also hold the priesthood and they too can become sons of perdition!” By this time their entire demeanor had changed.

    “The conversation ended on a very congenial note with the Sister Stake Missionary forcefully declining to accept the responsibility of the priesthood and gratefully being content to enjoy the blessings of the Priesthood—just as the Blacks had before 1978.
    “You see, it isn’t really an issue of the Black and the Priesthood or anything else. The question is, do we trust God to do the very best for us He possibly can without destroying our agency nor giving us too much too fast and thus enabling us to destroy ourselves.”

    So now I will be avoiding this topic because I find this to be so enormously offensive that I am beyond belief that anyone DOESN’T understand how offensive it is. I am stunned.

  86. Our YM president said in his sac. meeting talk last week that the earth was created by God and one of his wives. The church has made the decision to play wac-a-mole with “folk” doctrine, hoping the wac-a-mole machine will get tired. The problem is that if you want the darn mole to stop coming out you have to screw a lid on its hole, not tap it with the foam mallet of “We don’t know”.

  87. Russell Frandsen says:

    Sorry, Mark. The Post did not hold up a mirror to me, to my family, or to my ward. I do not think he even held up a mirror to the Church. Randy Botts is personally responsible for his own bigoted post. It was his reflection. THe Post was wrong to quote him so prominently without seeking other commenters who would have delivered a stinging rebuke to Randy Botts. Many of us have been debunking the rationalizations for 40 or 50 years. We have labeled the Priesthood ban as a tragic mistake. I have urged that the Church to make a public apology and admission that the Brigham Young made a terrible mistake in 1852. We have lamented the lasting damage to the Church from the policy. We don’t justify or condone. Randy Botts and the minority that hold such views are a disappearing minority. My anger is directed toward Randy Botts who has abused his positions over the years to purvey his odious views. i refuse to be besmirched by his views. I think it unjust to besmirch other members of the Church, other faculty members at BYU, students at BYU or the Church, the vast majority of whom reject Botts views.

  88. It ought to be clear enough that academic freedom for religion professors should not include teaching their own speculations as if they were facts. In my opinion, within the context of undergraduate classes, it should not include teaching anything that cannot be unequivocally sustained from the standard works, contemporary publications of the church, or peer reviewed works of academic scholarship.

    It sounds like that too many CES instructors are essentially teaching their own religions under the imprimatur of the Church. If they were to publish books in their own name, that would probably be okay, as long as they received a nihil obstat from the church on pain of losing their teaching position for anything remotely speculative, addressed to a general audience, or not meeting the highest standards of academic scholarship.

  89. I personally feel sorry for Botts. I wonder how we hold out our hand to him, since such a thing is at least as much as measure of who we are as our ability to detect and intelligently rebut his mistakes. What he has believed and said is pernicious, for all the reasons given. But he believes something that my father, mother, grandfathers and grandmothers all believed for a long time. I know that these people were not defined by this mistake. I wish that every one of these very thoughtful bits had included something that held out an olive branch to Brother Botts – we can tolerate adulterers and the greedy and the immodest in our midst, we can tolerate and befriend folks with some residual racism, as well.

  90. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    I would like to know what consequence there will be to Mr. Bott in relationship to his career at BYU if any. Even if some action is taken, which does not seem particularly likely, what kind would there be? Will he be quietly allowed to retire and maintain post-retirement benefits–for instance, health insurance directly or for his beneficiaries that are funded from tithing? Would church leadership justify no further reprimand in the way that a former mission president who encouraged same-day baptisms in the sake of raising baptism numbers while disciplining a missionariy who found his methods to be abhorrent, was simply allowed to finish his term because he was close to the end and had done so much good overall? I had never heard of Mr. Bott prior to today, and will try not to think of him again, but I will be curious if he is on the BYU website for enrollment of new students in the fall. Even if what transpires between the church leadership and him is confidential, at least there will be some degree of public record in that way of how the church deals with him. I would hope that the BYU student body would apply their own pressure by not enrolling in his classes. I didn’t go to BYU and don’t know what one’s options are, but I assume that you are required to have some of the subjects he teaches to graduate and may have no choice but to take his class because it is the only one which works in your time slot.

  91. Sorry for the thread-jack, but having identified myself as “Alex” in the past and not wanting to be associated with some comments coming under the same name, I’ll go with “Alex S” from now on–unless that name is taken? Many thanks.

  92. #69 Ray, Very good question, however leading it might be. I know what you’re getting at. Of course, we all weigh the good and the bad of every situation we find ourselves in. I would just say that my decisions to stay in uncomfortable, painful or damaging situations (religious, national, local, familial) for myself or those around me – have a lot to do with my hope of change being enacted – and my hope to have some voice in that change. Of course, we all know that is not the reality of the LDS Church (and most other religious traditions) in 2012. So what we have are wonderful people, who want to see change so badly – who are way ahead of the leadership on that change – and who end up rejoicing about 30+ years of scraps.

  93. “What world does he live in to think he can say what he said (even if he believes it) and not get the reaction he got?”

    Provo Utah? Orem Utah? Salt Lake City Utah? Brigham Young University?

    I am trying to understand both comments 87 and comments 84. This man was in a stake presidency for a decade and yet this is a “dissapearing minority”? I don’t think so. I would love to visit Russel Frandsen’s ward, I am pretty sure someone there will be reflected in the mirror.

    Randy Botts is not trully “personally responsible” if this Church has continued to give him callings and employment securing a position of authority where he can freely disfuse his agenda, and all those people who raised their hand to sustain them knowing the kind of person he is, and all those who failed to raise your hand when asked if anyone had an issue with it, they all are responsible too.

    Stake Presidents aren’t self apppointed, and it is not that easy to teach at BYU. A systematic failure on the part of the Church has taken place. This is NOT only Bott’s responsibility. Both regarding the employment and callings of Bott and the relaxed attitudes towards LDS racist propaganda that evidently still lives strongly among some within the LDS elite. A crew of ENABLERS (including Church officials) has done their job in securing his permanence and the permanence of his false teachings in these circles for decades.

    There were people who knew and turned a blind eye and kept silent. In that sense, I very much agree with the post and the mirror should be held constantly.

  94. Great post Mark. Thank you.

    It is unclear why Randy Bott thought that his apparently preferred set of speculations historically used to justify the Priesthood Ban survived (1) Elder McKonkie’s statement to “forget everything that’s been said” about the ban and that such things were said “with limited understanding”, (2) President Hinckley’s forceful rebuke of racism in General Conference (by stating that no holder of the Melchizedek Priesthood should believe that race makes anyone inferior) and (3) Elder Holland’s PBS interview in which he said such speculations should never be promulgated. But this episode has shown that Bott does indeed believe those particular justifications survived the reversal of the Ban and such subsequent statements by General Authorities afterwards. In fact, Bott’s “Know Your Religion” blog posts containing the same justifications for the ban and much more prove that the Washington Post did not take him out of context as I believe he has now claimed.

    Perhaps the reason he was willing to overlook those post-1978 statements or to mistakenly conclude that they did not preclude his continued adherence to the old speculations about the reasons for the Ban (speculations that came into being because Mormonism abhors a doctrinal vacuum so if there is a policy, there must be a cosmic reason for the policy and such reasons are then created based on what seems at the time like rational inferences from scripture and other doctrines) was the sheer volume of speculative statements by other General Authorities during the long tenure of the Ban that generally support the views he holds. In other words, he probably believes he is merely staying faithful to the previous teachings of General Authorities in the face of adversity and challenges from the “liberal” media and evil world.

    But upon reflection in the last few days since his ill-advised Washington Post interview, I think it is actually unfair to scapegoat Randy Bott for this. It is of course fair to denounce and disagree substantively with his actual statements, his use of his position to propagate them, his methods of using Correlation for a shield against criticism, etc. But to call for professional consequences because these racist teachings of his (which he is, after all, repeating from speculative teachings of General Authorities before 1978) were exposed to such a broad audience in a very embarassing way strikes me as unfair. (Disclaimer: I am in no way defending his actual statements, with which I strongly disagree and which I denounce — specifically his statements repeating speculative justifications for the ban that were widely accepted and taught by General Authorities such as Mark Petersen, Delbert Stapley, Alvin Dyer and others before 1978 in a way that makes it seem like he still gives deference to such statements as if they might have been valid then and now.) This is because, aside from the three counter-examples I listed above (Elder McKonkie, President Hinckley and Elder Holland), there is very little in the form of official Church pronouncements or policy that specifically repudiates the speculative, folkloric justifications for the Ban. Career consequences for Randy Bott could, as a result, seem a little ex post facto in nature. He would then be justified in asking, in bewilderment, “I am being fired or disciplined in BYU’s Religion Department for repeating teachings of General Authorities that had currency for more than 100 years?”

    This shows why an official statement from a top General Authority specifically repudiating all justifications put forward for the Ban is needed (if a statement that the Ban itself was a mistake is not in the cards). The two anonymous Newsroom releases (here and here) are extremely helpful but because of their venue and their anonymous, press-release tone could possibly reveal that Church leaders view this issue as primarily a PR problem and not a substantive problem in and of itself. In the absence of an official statement from a General Authority in an official venue (e.g. General Conference) it is likely that many members of the Church simply will not realize that the Church is actually officially saying that all such speculative teachings by past General Authorities justifying the ban were mistaken and should not be relied upon as valid explanations for the ban. For one thing, I would guess that only a very small proportional number of Church members will even know about those press releases. They certainly will not take them with the same force as a General Conference talk.

  95. Peter LLC says:

    Amen, Thomas Parkin and john f.

  96. Re:94.

    Absolutely agree.

    The thing about BYU employment is a difficult one though. I am not going to give specific names and cases, but BYU has fired faculty before for teaching things “not in tune” with current Church views/policy.

    It is my understanding Bott is retiring soon, yet, it will be interesting what the reaction will be if no action whatsoever is taken by BYU.

    But you are absolutely right, in the absence of an official statement from the President of the Church specifically repudiating all justifications put forward for the ban as well as the ban itself, there is little leverage against what Bott was doing.

  97. i agree with john f. i believe it is not just unfair to scapegoat randy bott, it is dishonest to do so. randy bott did not make up the explanations he gave to the post, nor was it the first time he had shared those views and explanations. to borrow a catchy phrase, he was doing the same thing that has been done in other places. what he said, is exactly how i remember the ban being explained to me – even after the ban was lifted. it is exactly what the first presidency published regarding the ban. nothing bott said can be assigned to bott as the originator of any of those thoughts. they are racist explanations – and he didn’t make them up, he simply shared them.

    the press releases from the office of Michael Otterson are not enough to condemn bott, or wash the hands of the church and its leaders. the press releases are significantly less honest in their claims than bott was in describing the origins and explanations of the ban. bott at least was right about the information he shared, though it was embarrassing. otterson was shamelessly dishonest to say that we do not know the origins or reasons for the ban, unless of course his point was that we do not know anything that god really wants. however, i dont think his point was that we do not pretend to know what god wants ever, only that in hindsight, we no longer pretend to know a damn thing about that pesky racism.

  98. I don’t think that the Newsroom was dishonest in saying that we don’t know the reasons for the Ban.

  99. i would say it is very dishonest. we know this:
    ======================
    August 17, 1949

    The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said: “Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.”

    President Wilford Woodruff made the following statement: “The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.”

    The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.

    The First Presidency

    ======================

    it is really hard to not also say we know the origins of the ban, and we certainly know the origins of what randy bott was saying. it is dishonest, in my opinion, for otterson to speak out about bott, without also speaking to this letter from the first presidency which is actually harsher than what bott said.

  100. #90: Rigel:
    I know that some of the people who were kicked out of BYU for apostasy in the early 90s retained their BYU pensions. It seems a bit over the top to kick him out and kick his face into the cement on his way out. I think an open and public firing would help “purge” the CES and BYU Religion Department of like-minded ilk (I love using Machiavellian terms that are usually reserved for liberals).

    # 98, I agree. Even if, at its root, it was racism, it still raises the issue of why God allowed it to go on in his church, so it just pushes the question back farther. So I too fail to see how that’s a disingenuous response.

  101. first presidency says very specifically, this ban began with the origination of the church and goes back to both cane, and also to the lack of effort in a pre-mortal life. it goes further to say that being born under that curse is an acceptable handicap.

    further, the question is not why god allowed it – it is why men allowed it. and we can see exactly where men originated this racism and why. bott did not make this up, the leaders of the church made it up. bott did not originate these thoughts, and, just like what otterson has done, the thoughts have NEVER been dismissed and no apologies made for them. rather, we have an explanation only that we dont understand them.

    anyone can choose not to understand what they are reading, but they cant arbitrarily choose when something was said or who said it. otterson seems to believe he can pretend away this whole racism thing as a misunderstanding that we cannot go back and consider.

  102. What the Newsroom is saying is that although that might have been put forward as the reason, we now know that we do not know the reason for the ban. I don’t think that is dishonest. What remains open is whether the Church is officially going to say that the Ban itself was or might have been a mistake in origin in addition to its current consensus that the reasons put forward during the time that it was in place were speculative and non-authoritative such that we must say that we do not know the reasons for the Ban.

    In other words, the Newsroom release leads us to conclude with more certainty than we have been able to have in the past that the Church’s position is that when Elder McKonkie said to ignore what he and others had said in the past in explaining the Ban and that he and they spoke with limited understanding, that covers pretty much everything including the 1949 statement.

  103. so, logically, if bott were to remain the scapegoat for this pr fiasco, and if he were to be reprimanded or even removed from his profession as many are proposing, it would be because he didn’t follow an obscure comment by mckonkie. bott was right about the origin, right about the explanations, right about the curse but he was wrong because we dont know why GOD did this, which means he is not allowed to speak up about this, and should be fired.

    The pr statement said nothing about mckonkie, it said nothing about 1949, so your conclusion is a legal stretch at best.

    let me say this again, we know the reasons for the ban. we know them. the reasons are that the leaders of the mormon church believed the race was cursed and unfit and handicapped. the leaders of the church interpreted the scriptures and so-called revelations in a way that led them to believe that one particular race was not only unfit for equal treatment, but they were better off being treated as unfit and unable.

    what is unknown about that? we know why the ban was there. it is written down. are we, at the direction of mckonkie, now supposed to pretend that these were NOT the reasons? they were the reasons! what is unclear about this?

  104. “A woman who wears a pantsuit while teaching a Relief Society lesson on The Heavenly Parents is doing something transgressive, and she knows it.” UMMMMM…. exactly where is the transgressive part of that sentence? A woman wears pants to church and she has transgressed???? Are you serious? Am I missing something here? I have seen a lot of women who have come to church wearing pants and I think that they either didn’t know or want to wear the dress code, but they have not transgressed in any way. It is more like someone who came in a tshirt to a place where people were wearing suits – but they have not TRANSGRESSED. The trangression lies in any dogma that tells women that if they don’t wear a dress to church then they are slightly sinning. And I don’t get the problem with the lesson on Heavenly Parents exactly. It seems to me that you fit right in with all of those other people who have spoken out of line. I guess the following is true (quote I read on facebook): “Trying not to be depressed that Randy Bott’s exposure of the Church’s past racism throws everyone into a tizzy, while pretty much the exact same things are repeated at least semi-annually about women and no one bats an eye.”- Kristine Haglund

  105. sarah, i agree with your last post. this response from the pr department, and the lack of response from the leaders, is astounding and shocking in many ways – but it pales in comparison to the condescension toward women that is constant in the church. perhaps this will be a motivating reminder.

  106. Mark D (#88),

    It ought to be clear enough that academic freedom for religion professors should not include teaching their own speculations as if they were facts. In my opinion, within the context of undergraduate classes, it should not include teaching anything that cannot be unequivocally sustained from the standard works, contemporary publications of the church, or peer reviewed works of academic scholarship.

    Are you claiming that Bott wasn’t basing any of his logic in the standard works? (Not to defend what he taught.)

    You can prove just about anything you want from the standard works. If this wasn’t the case why are there so many bible based religions that all differ.

    Even within the Church there is an incredibly wide range of interpretation of scripture.

  107. Elder McKonkie’s point seems to rely on upholding the proposition that the Ban was from God but that no reasons were given, leaving the General Authorities to formulate their own speculations for why the Ban existed. Elder McKonkie’s point seems to be that all such reasons inferred by General Authorities before 1978 should be ignored and that the General Authorities involved spoke with limited understanding.

    However, Elder McKonkie was an Apostle and so members of the Church such as Randy Bott understandably appear to have subsumed his disclaimer to authoritative statements given in the past, such as the 1949 statement you highlighted, apparently believing that a substantial amount of the speculation justifying the Ban is as valid now as when it was given.

    What the new Newsroom releases seem to clarify is that even such previous explanations as the 1949 statement were speculative and neither valid then or now. This was left in question after Elder McKonkie’s statement, I think. But the new press releases are not without their own problems of authority. To what extent do anonomous press releases convey official Church positions or policies? First of all, only a small percentage of Mormons will ever know about these press releases and secondly, if they do know about them, their nature as press releases make them seem like corporate communications like a company’s release of earnings every quarter, and do not have the institutional credibility to count as conveying doctrine. All that would be changed if an Apostle said those things in a General Conference talk.

  108. One question. Does President Newsroom speak with greater authority than the united voice of the First Presidency? How do we know that President Newsroom is not engaging in speculation and advancing folk doctrine? Can an anonymous press release really abrogate official statements signed by the First Presidency? For example, a hypothetical: what if President Newsroom publishes a statement saying that what the Brethren have published in the Proclamation to the World on the Family concerning gender is simply folklore and speculation? Would BYU professors then be subject to discipline if they continued to teach the principles enunciated in the Proclamation?

  109. john f.,

    Aren’t OD 1 and OD 2 both technically press releases?

  110. I guess that was more than one question.

  111. john f,

    i think this is going to be a huge issue in the coming months. HUGE. and not for what you think but rather for what you and others seem willing to defend. whether or not the church had a racist policy in place 30 plus years ago is not in question. whether or not it was in place for ridiculous reasons as outlined in the 1949 letter is not a question. what matters is how much integrity the church has as a collection of people and an institution. and to some extent, it will matter how mitt responds to this.

    as is the case with many other hot topics for mormons, there is an unsettling capacity to explain away the obvious facts, in this case facts about race and why this ban was in place, and pretend the facts do not matter or worse, that basing one’s choices on facts is weak. in fact, there is a population of people that want bott’s head on a platter for not pretending that the explanations they were always taught were meaningless, or only meant to be shared in-house.

    this reaction is what will keep this in the news, not the historical facts. there are too many cultish displays happening around the WaPo article. there is the corporate explanation that some guy got it all wrong (when he didnt) that only the church can speak for the church (so not true) that these racist things were god’s will not man’s choice (typical criminal defense) and that reality is not as it appears (a means of pacifying the followers more than convincing the public.)

  112. #92 – ” I would just say that my decisions to stay in uncomfortable, painful or damaging situations (religious, national, local, familial) for myself or those around me – have a lot to do with my hope of change being enacted – and my hope to have some voice in that change.”

    I understand and respect that – and suspected it would be your answer.

    “Of course, we all know that is not the reality of the LDS Church (and most other religious traditions) in 2012.”

    It has been the reality for me in every ward and stake I’ve attended over the past 20+ years. I’ve seen real change, and I’ve been an active part of it. I also have seen real change in the institution of the LDS Church over that time period – large, important changes. Therefore, I disagree with your second statement.

    I get that we see this differently, but please grant me the courtesy of accepting that your reality is not more real than mine.

  113. I get that we see this differently, but please grant me the courtesy of accepting that your reality is not more real than mine.

    Heh – easily granted. Sounds like you’re older than me and may have a broader perspective. Noted.

  114. Meldrum the Less says:

    About 5 years ago a group of our stake young men including several African -Americans were sitting around a campfire discussing all manner of topics of interest to youth. A couple hours after midnight, the topic of race and the Priesthood came up. At this point most of the other adult leaders had the good sense to have gone to sleep. Most of the youth were completely unaware of the conditions in the church before 1978 and rather disturbed by even the most watered-down version I could imagine to tell them.

    One young know-it-all mentioned that race could be determined from skeletal features. The anatomic details of skulls from blacks and whites were characteristically different in ways predictable enough to allow accurate classification of race with only a skull to observe. Furthermore, looking at skulls back through history it was apparent that the white race has been on the earth a much shorter period of time than the black race. The black race is the original human race, ancestral to all other races.

    If man was created literally in the image of God then the question was posed: What race is God? Our stake young men concluded that God is probably black. A second minority opinion was that God was mixed race in about the same proportion as the human race. Either way, under the theology taught before 1978, God would not be allowed to hold the Priesthood which we all were taught is the power to act in God’s name. At this point our wonderful Stake President (who is black) poked his head out of his nearby tent and told us we were all getting way too deep for him but he rather liked the direction of our ideas.

    Whether true or not, the idea that God who sits in yonder heaven with a physical body that might have physical features that we would classify as characteristic of one race or another might be black is a powerful idea. It has really helped me feel more love and compassion for people of other races and to see beyond the racial distinctions that were so entrenched in the gospel I was taught as a youth in the 1960’s. I am not better than those of other races because God is white. Not true.

    If correlation created a bull market for unorthodox ideas, perhaps this one would prove useful as fertilizer in the gardens of CES educators after the manner of Professor Bott: Yo heavenly daddy be black, bro.

  115. “To what extent do anonomous press releases convey official Church positions or policies? First of all, only a small percentage of Mormons will ever know about these press releases and secondly, if they do know about them, their nature as press releases make them seem like corporate communications like a company’s release of earnings every quarter, and do not have the institutional credibility to count as conveying doctrine.”

    My hope is that these press releases are done for the sake of speed and that the members of the Church will be officially addressed regarding the issue. Nevertheless, a speedy response was in place for a very public issue. It will be extremely damning if this is all we will hear from Church authorities.

    This is why it is extremely disturbing to me that the issue with racist LDS dogmas among members is being labeled by some as an issue of a “minority,” and a “disappearing minority,” etc etc etc. This implies there really is no need for further action, sinc ethe issue is “resolving itself at its own pace.” It is an irresponsible stance, and imo a false one.

    I sense this minimising attitude is a pillar in the crux of irresponsible excuses of why the Church has failed to address the problem.

    It gives the false sense that “the Church has already done what needs to be done with respect to the issue, and it has no control over what some “odd fellows” here and there still believe. Therefore, “all is well in Zion” regarding this issue right? NO.

    This is why I will repost my opinion of the “we don’t know” answer which some have called and answer in the “right direction,” (I don’t agree with that).

    Given the things we DO know, I think the “we don’t know” portion of the answer is highly misleading and deceptive. It safeguards the position that somehow it was the right thing to do at the right time, and that is simply RACIST. Yes, TODAY insisting or implying we cannot recognise anything amiss with the priesthood ban (only with the speculative explanations given for it) when it was in place is RACIST.

    To me, the Church is basicall saying “we are not racists, we don’t know why we acted racist, and we cannot state that we were wrong in acting racist, we can only state that we were wrong in explaining why we acted racist. We cannot repudiate our racist acts, only our racist explanations. If this is the position the Church will choose to continue to espouse, I will have no choice but to state the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a racist organization if asked.

    We may not know 100% of why it was placed, but by using an umbrella “we don’t know” statement, they are conveniently dismissing the things we DO know, which are not exactly praise worthy, but which respectable scholars have worked hard to bring to light.

    Officials insisting on a “we don’t know” answer should be ashamed of themselves, because there are quite many things regarding the issue that we do actually know and that have been documented. I cannot possibly see their dismissal of these things as done in good faith. It is deception.

  116. Maybe someone already posted this, and I apologize if they did, but there is a flier circulating BYU campus titled “BYU Students Respond.” You can find it on fBook’s FMH Society page or my personal page, and it will probably end up on Provo Peace Forum’s page soon but I can’t upload the photo here so… it reads:

    “As members of the rising generation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we firmly declare our love for all of God’s children.
    We believe, as stated in the Book of Mormon, that, “black and white, bond and free, male and female; all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33). We diligently strive to implement this belief concerning the equality of all men and women in our actions with our fellow men.
    We are saddened over recent statements made in attempt to justify the Church’s former policy of restricting priesthood ordination based on race. We do not believe the origins of this policy are necessarily divine, but ultimately we stand with the Church stating that we simply do not know.
    We are excited, however, to see a growing dialogue on local and national levels on the subject of Latter-day Saint beliefs and history and encourage all to be dutiful in their research.
    For those interested in participating in a forum here at BYU on the subject, please visit the Provo Peace Forum on Facebook. Details are forthcoming.”

    My apologies for any typos… I am in a rush to class. :) This makes my day because since I was a teenager (I am an older student) I have been lobbying against the priestcrafty folk doctrine of Bott and emotional-high-but-spiritually-empty feel good peddling of Bytheway. These are greater enemies, in my opinion, to our faith than any anti-Mormon filth because the most dangerous thing is being deceived into *thinking* we are feeling the spirit. Emotional highs from Chicken Soup for the Soul can never nourish as much as the scriptures, and thus hinder our growth, because if you could be high all the time, why wouldn’t you? Further, just because it sounds good, doesn’t mean it’s true. An old Bishop of mine made this clear when I said that “Everyone deserves a chance.” Yes, it sounds good, but you don’t leave your kids with a stranger. Even if they probably are good people, you shouldn’t, unless you know for yourself.

    For my brothers and sisters, ¡Feliz Día de Independencia, Tejas! Happy Independence Day, Texas! For the rest of you, repent ye and get to Texas. Kidding… kidding… please don’t start home bashing. I thought this appropriate because I remember being taught as a child that Texas was the promised land (Joseph was eyeing it right before he died) and the real Zion…. there’s some compelling evidence if you look for it. Folk doctrine is everywhere! :D

  117. #114 – That is a great story.

    One of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life was in the Atlanta temple – when the Lord parted the veil and the hand was black.

    I will never forget that image.

  118. StillConfused says:

    Has Mr. Bott been terminated? This may sound bad, but I would be surprised if they fired him because he is a male priesthood holder. He may go quietly, but I suspect a pass.

  119. I have a question. The OP mentioned this:

    “A mission president exhorts the missionaries in zone conference to make sure that when they return home, they only date women who are comfortable with polygamy, since that is going to be the way things are done in the celestial kingdom.”

    Does anyone know which mission president this refers to?

  120. The Young Peter Guillam says:

    Re: A Random John
    One reason that neither leaders or members of the Church want to repudiate the ban itself is because in the minds of many that would run afoul of President Woodruff’s statement that the Lord’s prophet will never lead the Church astray.

    Dispensing of a potential debate about what might constitute being “led astray”, may I offer up the *possibility* that following the prophet is, by definition, not going astray (even if the Prophet doesn’t do exactly what the Lord would himself do in the same situation).

    Does one harbor mutually exclusive beliefs if they can imagine a God in Heaven who 1) is thinking, “wow, where did my servants get that crazy idea?” while simultaneously thinking 2) “I am disappointed in my children for not following my servants with respect to that crazy idea”. Combining the D&C (“whether by my voice or the voice of my servants…” and Moses (“we will prove them herewith to see if…”), maybe this notion is not such a remote possibility. Think of the boss who backs up middle management to keep order or the parent who backs up the other parent to show a united front to the children. This becomes more palatable when we remember that this life is just 80 or so years (if we are lucky) out of eternity and that Christ’s atonement will make up for all injustices.

  121. MrRoivas says:

    It would be easy for the church to dispell the notions of such people as Bott. Declare that the previous prophets who came up with the priest ban were wrong.

    Until they do, expect this shit to continue unabated.

  122. Stillconfused–
    It’s not just that he’s a priesthood holder, it’s that he’s a goold-ole-boy (former mission president, etc.), and he’s a very popular teacher. I imagine the church is worried about the lashback from many of his students if they did fire him. That’s unfortunate, as his firing would send a loud and clear message that the church doesn’t tolerate racist remarks.

    I hope they fire him, and soon. I doubt they will. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised before.

  123. Kristine says:

    MrRoivas, it’s customary to read at least some portion of the original post before commenting, even if the comment thread seems too daunting to wade through.

  124. Peter LLC says:

    Texas was the promised land (Joseph was eyeing it right before he died)

    If I recall my Lester Bush correctly, Texas received brief consideration as a place where slaveholders might build zion.

  125. MrRoivas says:

    I did read the post. Your point?

  126. The Young Peter Guillam (#120),

    I don’t know if leaders want the ban repudiated. I can tell you that members are all over the place on the issue. There are probably some that pray for the return of the ban. There are some that think that the statements already made constitute a repudiation of the ban (talked to such a person yesterday.) Many probably never think of it and would be very surprised by this uproar.

    Clearly amongst the BCC commenting subgroup of Mormons there is broad support for a repudiation of the ban, and an apology for the harm it caused and continues to cause. Others have articulated ways in which this could be artfully accomplished.

  127. Manuel Says:
    ““What world does he live in to think he can say what he said (even if he believes it) and not get the reaction he got?”

    Provo Utah? Orem Utah? Salt Lake City Utah? Brigham Young University?

    I am trying to understand both comments 87 and comments 84. This man was in a stake presidency for a decade and yet this is a “dissapearing minority”? I don’t think so.”

    Manuel, I’m commenter 84 that said: “What world does he live in to think he can say what he said (even if he believes it) and not get the reaction he got?”

    He was in my SPresidency for 10 years, so I live in Orem. I am also a professor at BYU. And no, not even in Provo, Orem, or Salt Lake are there many folks who are so clueless that they would say this to a national media outlet and then think there would be no blowback, or think he or she had done something positive to defend the faith.

    I should have more compassion for him than I have, but I have a difficult time mustering it. He’s in “a class by himself* and has been as long as I have known him. Let me give you a few of examples:

    1) When you’d go into a recommend interview, he’d hand you your recommend afterward and say “this is your ticket to the Celestial Kingdom.”

    2) He’s obsessed with the sexual habits of others. My daughters learned what “dry humping” was when he spoke to them at girl’s camp. Remember, there are girls as young as 11 there.

    3) In a general session of Stake Conference, he once counseled the boys not to wear sagging pants, because that fashion originated in prisons where sagging pants supposedly indicated a willingness to engage in sex. Pity the parents that had to explain that one to Primary age children.

    Yes, Orem & Provo are very strange places. I’m a native Utahn so I get to say this. But not even here are there very many who are so clueless.

    This is sad karma.

    The end.

  128. Eric S. says:

    #127: Yes, those things you list sound pretty whack. But they don’t sound totally outside the norm for Mormons. That there are many within the fold who would see nothing wrong with the things you list re: Brother Bott is a fact. Failing to acknowledge that fact is an act of denial. Indeed, I wonder if President Packer wouldn’t say some of the same thing if he were to speak freely.

  129. Tim (above) suggested that bott should be fired right away. and i ask again – for what? what has he done that is so bad? you may not like what he said or who he said it to, but what has he done that is not appropriate for his job? daniel peterson writes online about church topics, some of which are uncorrelated topics – should he be fired? the church does not seem to judge the works of bushman or joanna brooks, who speak on church topics freely and do so outside the church pr machine. and this bott is a professor of religion and should be free to speak about his religion if that is his field of expertise, no? does the church require the football coach to clear all communication through the church? or the chemistry professor, does he get to speak outloud?

    bott did NOTHING he has not done in the past. he has said nothing he has not said and published in the past. when he said it in-house, he was rewarded for it. saying it to the wapo, that is not a justifiable reason to fire him. bott is bizarre and may be exactly as nuts as Steve says, but it is not grounds for termination and he did not tell a lie, he told the truth.

    Steve makes a great point. in his stake and ward this bott fellow was allowed do some crazy stuff – and nobody stopped him. he said ridiculous stuff to kids, and nobody cared enough to stop him. so, he never ever felt like his nonsense was anything but the norm. and now, when the consequences arive, he is suddenly an outlier? while everyone sat and watched this for years, there is now some outrage about his behavior? gimme a break.

    bott is a mormon. a professor of mormon studies or religion. a priesthood leader. mission president. all of it. if he cannot and does not represent the face of mormonism, then neither does monson. bott does not believe anything that monson has not professed to believe, or allowed to be professed without a correction. should we fire monson too?

  130. “I wonder if President Packer wouldn’t say some of the same thing if he were to speak freely.”

    Eric, we’ve seen backpedaling by Pres. Packer.

    No one knows better than I how oddly many mormons think. But I think you’ve missed my point. It (unfortunately) isn’t odd that Bott thinks this way. It is odd that he wasn’t smart enough to keep his pie hole shut. That’s the point.

  131. Eric S. says:

    #130: You’re right; I had missed your point. Thanks for clarifying.

  132. Mark Brown says:

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. We have had a good discussion and examined the issue from many different angles. I’m going to go ahead and close the comments.

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