Thinking Strategically about a Ban Disavowal

I’m a director in a couple of Mormon world-related not for profits. It’s a hard role; much harder than I expected it to be when I signed on for this service. You have to deal with different personalities, different perspectives, different agendas, all the while sublimating what might be your own preferences to the long term future good of the organization itself. The Quorum of the Twelve is in some sense analogous to a corporate board of directors, and the problems they face in governing a worldwide Church of over 14 million members must be absolutely staggering. Let’s put ourselves in their shoes and try to think through whether a disavowal of the ban is something we should advocate for the institution. I’ll start with some of my thoughts, but then I want you to put on your apostle’s cap and add to the discussion, trying to think from their perspective.

Historically the Church’s strategy for dealing with controversial issues like this has been to take the long view. The Church is steered like a huge ocean liner, and changes slowly, incrementally, not in sharp 90-degree turns, and in general that approach has served the Church well. But I think that as leaders now is a time when a more innovative approach to the problem is going to be necessary, because recent events have shown that strategy to be an utter failure. Here we sit 32 years after the 1978 revelation and we have one of BYU’s most popular religion professors indoctrinating thousands of our youth every year in the old explanations. This is a potential disaster for the organization. We thought the old stuff would die a quiet death, but it hasn’t. We now live in a different world, and since Al Gore invented the internet, our old strategy of waiting for time to heal the wound has been shown to be a failure. So now we’ve got to rethink things.

One problem we’re going to run into is that some of our peers on the Council almost certainly privately agree with Professor Bott. For me at least the cure to that thinking was to read the Bush, Mauss et al. line of scholarship that exposed the bankruptcy of our traditonal thought in this sphere, but if one hasn’t been exposed to those readings, and some of our colleagues surely have not, it’s a safe bet that the tradional thought continues in some quarters among our brethren. There’s probably not much we can do about that. Time will eventually help, but we don’t have that kind of time in my judgment.

FAIR is doing what it can to educate the Saints in this area. FAIR has included quite a number of black speakers at its annual conferences, and it sponsors a sister site, blacklds.org, where the seminal revisionist scholarship may all be found. (Armand’s wonderful Q&A take on the issue originated as a presentation at a FAIR Conference.)

Thinking about this from an apologetic perspective, it seems to me that there are two paths to take. We normally conflate defending church leaders with defending the Church itself. But this is a situation where those two things are not the same, and we have to make a choice which we’re going to protect. We can either defend the racist statements and practices of prior church leaders, or we can defend and protect the Church itself as an institution in 2012 and moving forward into the future. You can’t do both, you’ve got to choose. And I choose to seek to protect and defend the Church now, not the brethren then.

This is tough on our current leaders, because they knew and worked intimately with many of those brethren from a prior generation, and are loathe to throw them under the bus, as a disavowal of the ban might be perceived as doing. But our focus simply has to be on fostering the best interests of the Church NOW. And in my judgment, a disavowal would best serve those interests.

There is a timing issue here. The Church has long been loathe to be perceived to be acting in response to public pressure, and this is a hot, public issue right now. A disavowal would have gone down easier had it happened some years ago. Still, I personally am less concerned about perceptions of public pressure. There really isn’t much in the way of public pressure for a disavowal right now; the pressure, such as it is, is almost all internal at this point. But if Romney gets the nomination, then we’ll see this issue blow up in such a way that the last few days will seem like a harmless firecracker. As a guardian of the best interests of the institution, I would want to get ahead of this issue, and a disavowal puts it to bed.

A lot of people have expressed the view that a disavowal would destroy the Church, that there would be massive faith crises. Sure, this would happen on a small scale, like the 500 people who took out an ad in the SL Tribune to protest the 1978 revelation. But the Church is more resilient than that; a disavowal (I’m thinking an Elder Holland talk in GC) wouldn’t be much of a problem at all. My friend, a former bishop, is teaching a temple symoblism adult continuing education seminar in our stake, and he told me he hasn’t been pulling any punches with issues like masonic influence, and it has been no problem at all. If we’re straight with our people and talk to them in a context of faith, they can handle an awful lot. They certainly can handle this.

“We don’t know” was an interim strategy that worked well enough for its time. But the problem is, that mantra was meant to preserve the possibility that God ordered the ban from on high, and a lot of older Saints understand it in exactly that way. And as long as we try to leave that option on the menu, people are going to continue to fill in the doctrinal vacuum with the old, offensive ideas. Those ideas will not die under a “we don’t know” rubric; they will only die under a firm disavowal.

Black Africans don’t seem to fret much about the ban, but the same cannot be said for African Americans, for whom it is a huge issue. When I first moved into my ward, I was delighted that we had a critical mass of black Saints in the ward, maybe 20 or so attending on a regular basis. Now we have none. The Church has made a huge commitment to largely black areas such as Hyde Park, Detroit, Philly, the Bronx, Atlanta, etc. with pretty strong success, even with the millstone of the ban around its neck. Imagine if we took off that millstone and tossed it into the sea; our success and growth would soar in those communities. Most blacks would graciously forgive us, because they know that pretty much everyone was a racist back then. But when we incode a divine origin to the policy, well, if you were black would you join a Church that teaches that God viewed you as inferior in some spiritually meaningful way? No, nor would I.

For me, trying to think about this strategically as though I were a director (which in this case means an Apostle) of the Church as an organization, it seems like a slam dunk to disavow the ban. I think that action would be in the best organizational interests of the Church going forward.

OK, I’ve had my say. You’re in the next seat; how do you analyze the situation, and what would be your advice to your fellow Apostles as to how to proceed?

Comments

  1. I hate approaching this question in consequentialist reasoning. To do so seems to make the disavowal a calculated self-service rather than an act of repentance and penitence.

  2. Kevin Barney says:

    Yes, but the people who are really going to make the decision are going to have to think about it from various pragmatic angles. My point is that even when you look at the best interests of the organization, a ban disavowal still looks to me like the thing to do.

  3. I think anybody taking a strategic approach to the ban disavowal should be cognizant of the fact that for some people any approach short of Pres. Monson flogging himself in Temple Square is going to be insufficient.

    Rachel Cope posted an interesting quote from SWK on this issue: “I know it could. I know the Lord could change his policy and release the ban and forgive the possible error which brought about the deprivation.” One way to interpret this, of course, would be the curse-of-Cain angle, but another could be that the “possible error” was ours.

    An issue here, of course, is that I doubt that all of the brethren truly believe that it was a 100% mistake, so I’m skeptical about the possibility of a complete apology. However, I think a space could be made within the orthodox community for the possibility that some of the leaders were either wrong or did not give the subject the prayerful attention that it merited.

  4. Kevin,

    I think you can disavow the old policy and still maintain that OD2 was a revelation from God as long as you include as part of said disavowal a statement asserting that the original policy did not have its genesis in revelation– a statement I think fully supported by the canon. Something along the lines of “God remained silent on the issue until society/members were prepared to accept dark-skinned brothers and sisters as equal members of both society and the Church.”

  5. Kevin Barney says:

    I wouldn’t propose discounting OD2 as a revelation in any way.

  6. I like #4’s approach. For some church leaders, it is easy to draw the conclusion that they had some of the racial tendencies of their day and that that was the reason for the ban (Lee, Fielding Smith, etc.). However, I’ve had a harder time with the David O. McKay case; it seems that he was honestly open to the idea but didn’t get the answer, that’s what I’ve had a hard time accepting the idea that God was vehemently trying to get the leadership to directly rescind the ban but that they weren’t just listening. With #4’s approach the racism underlying the ban is disavowed, but it doesn’t cast aside the pre-1978 spiritual struggles and experiences regarding the ban, and would actually keep OD2 and instead of making it a puzzling issue (why didn’t God do it earlier), would actually make it more meaningful and complete.

    I am empathetic to the idea that this does need to be handled carefully for the sake of the rank-and-file TBMs who constitute the backbone of the church, but I hope that by framing it in that way, they could also retain the narrative that is important to the structure of the church.

  7. I think one challenge here is that it would require some form of revelation to emphatically make any sort of statement about why the ban happened to begin with. History and our modern sensibilities are sadly not enough to arrive at the motivations for those early church leaders who instituted it. I personally believe the policy was a matter of human error based on cultural bias or racism.

    Another challenge is that there is a perceived slippery slope issue here, which a lot of members don’t want to deal with. It is what I consider the “post-modern” leap to accepting that the guiding hand of the church was fallible in the past and could be fallible now and may yet be fallible in the future. Narrator had an amazing article on this in Element a few years back.

    The church needs to not just address the ban itself, but do so authoritatively, and in such a way that gives the membership a religion they can still trust and embrace.

    Regarding the David O. McKay case, I think it was Marion D. Hanks who said that it was because the members of the church were not ready. “For me it was never that blacks [were unqualified but that] the rest of us had to be brought to a condition of spiritual maturity…to meet the moment of change with grace and goodness.” (As recorded in the Bio of Spencer W. Kimball)

  8. Even if a disavowal DID cause a massive amount of faith crises… is that necessarily a bad thing? I think it could cause a lot of people to reexamine a culture of severe black-and-white thinking, and that might lead to more cultural diversity within the church, which I think is desperately lacking. Personally, knowing that the brethren are fallible human beings with cultural and personal biases has, after thinking and pondering upon it, increased my testimony dramatically. In fact, knowing that is one of the things that keeps me going back to church week after week despite any doubts/questions/annoyances I have with the people or the policy.

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    I disagree it would take a revelation to do this. There was no revelation to start it, there was a revelation to end it, and we have a pretty decent grasp of the history.

    I know people are worried about the slippery slope issue, but I’m not. I think our people could absorb this just fine.

  10. Kevin, I’m inclined to believe the Brethren will once again take the long view here and continue to do so. That means not looking at this Mormon moment in 2012 as a time to air out the ill ventilated closets and clear them of the remaining debris. A more deliberate body would consider waiting out the furor and resolving the issue when it is less apparent that the decisions were driven by the pressing need to look better for the sake of PR. Especially when these things are happening under the hot lights of a media soaked presidential campaign.

    Then again, if you’re thinking that the direction the Church will take might shift more conservatively if Pres. Monson passes before Pres. Packer (which I personally believe would happen – though since they’re both in their mid to late 80s who knows which will go first) then you might push more strongly to make such a statement now rather than wait to see how the dust settles in the future and perhaps progress is delayed another 5-7 years.

    But honestly, I don’t think they look at the daily news cycle in the same fashion that most would. It seems to me, and this is strictly my opinion, they care about how the Church is perceived, they care about how successful our missionary efforts are in the world, but they care most about following where the Spirit guides them and how that impacts the salvation of the members of the Body of Christ.

    The Church is blossoming and flourishing in areas of the world among African and other what we would consider in the United States minority populations. It’s important to look at this from a global perspective because the Church is a global presence now when greater than 50% of the members reside outside of the US. What we are experiencing is a US specific phenomenon and while it will cause challenges in the next year if Romney becomes the candidate and who knows, becomes the President, how big are those challenges in the context of 182 years of Church history or 2000+ years in the time since the Gospel of Christ was first preached? I don’t have answers to those questions but I believe that is a plausible framework that an Apostle of the Lord might examine.

    Do I think the Brethren believe the issue was put to bed and they could move forward after the Official Declaration 2 was made in 1978? It’s obvious from recent talks that some, maybe all are treating it in that fashion and probably look at this more as a cultural challenge in the evolution of thinking of the membership.

    Borrowing a medical approach that I’m sure Sam Brown could discuss more effectively than I, you’re faced with a tumor that is deadly but appears to be shrinking rather than growing. It is causing enormous discomfort to the patient, there are risks that the tumor may still cause the loss of an arm or leg, effective treatments exist that will stem some of the pain and continue to reduce the growth, but if you were to perform invasive surgery to remove it, doing so might kill the patient. It’s a clumsy metaphor but I think it allows one to think about some facets of this problem. A physician is called to heal and succor but she also operates under the Hippocratic oath to never do harm to anyone. A dichotomy exists of how do you proceed in the manner that is most pleasing to the Lord and does the least damage.

    Do I think an apology would kill the Church? No. But would it lead to many members second guessing their membership not because they are racist but because it could be perceived as diminishing the perception of prophets being called of God and speaking for Him. You and I agree that this ban as viewed from the historical evidence appears to have no basis of having come from God. And that sometimes strong medicine is called for in spite of the risks and collateral damage for the good of the future of the Body. But what pandora’s box is opened by taking a more forceful step in the immediate light rather than allowing more gradual efforts to push the cultural beliefs out the door.

    These are some of the questions I think the Brethren are faced with. I’m glad I am not them. My daily prayer is that they be in tune to the needs of the Savior’s flock and how He would have them succor us.

  11. Karen M. says:

    I’m really having trouble seeing how some people think a disavowal of the ban would be institutional suicide. If the church could handle the 1978 revelation, then surely we can handle an admission that the ban was an error. I liked the analogy of the church to a large corporation here, in trying to do what’s best moving forward. My understanding of how the church organizes itself is more like a family (because that’s the experience I’m familiar with). The leaders, like parents, are fallible. I apologize to my kids for mistakes all the time, but I’m still in charge around here. Or at least as in charge as I was before I apologized.

  12. Kevin Barney says:

    Two additional thoughts:

    1. I think a disavowal and an apology are two separate issues. I personally would like to see both. But from talking with LDS African Americans, my perception is that from their point of view the disavowal is way more important than the apology, which they could do without.

    2. On the slippery slope issue, one thing to keep in mind is that we’re talking about a theoretical doctrinal issue that most Saints have spent very little time if at all thinking about and that has little practical effect in their lives. So in that respect this is different than giving up polygamy, which was a tremendous trauma to the faithful. There polygamy was the social fabric of the Church, people had sacrificed their families, their good name in society, you name it, to enter into an dlive and defend the priniciple. Shutting it down affected the membership in a personal and visceral way. Disavowing the ban in contrast would not have that visceral an effect on your average Mormon, who would just nod his head and say “Hmmm…ok” and go on with his life.

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    Alain, you’re probably right in your prediction about what will actually happen. But personally I get annoyed when the Church is so concerned about the perception of acting in response to external pressure. It’s a not very well kept secret that they were inching towards doing something like this when someone in California, apparently not appreciating the sensitivity towards perceptions in how the Church works, spilled the beans, and so the Church pulled back and didn’t do anything.

    But for me, if something is right, who cares what people think about why you did it? Just do what is right, let the consequence follow…

  14. Kevin, you are right, revelation was too strong of a word. What I really meant was the Church would have to put out some form of disavowal that was absolute, detailed, and authoritative, leaving no wiggle room for it just being one person’s opinion. After all, I’d have thought President Hinckley’s statements in conference were such a disavowal, but they apparently were not detailed enough nor absolute enough.

    As for the slippery slope, I am thinking more along the lines of dusting off and updating Dallin H. Oaks talk on Timing than on anything more radical than that.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    Ah, now I understand what you meant, Matt.

  16. I do not have a recommendation for the brethren on this matter. But in response to narrator’s comment in #1, I agree with you. That said, President Woodruff and the Lord seemed to do some consequentialist reasoning regarding OD1:

    “The question is this: Which is the wisest course for the Latter-day Saints to pursue—to continue to attempt to practice plural marriage, with the laws of the nation against it and the opposition of sixty millions of people, and at the cost of the confiscation and loss of all the Temples, and the stopping of all the ordinances therein, both for the living and the dead, and the imprisonment of the First Presidency and Twelve and the heads of families in the Church, and the confiscation of personal property of the people (all of which of themselves would stop the practice); or, after doing and suffering what we have through our adherence to this principle to cease the practice and submit to the law, and through doing so leave the Prophets, Apostles and fathers at home, so that they can instruct the people and attend to the duties of the Church, and also leave the Temples in the hands of the Saints, so that they can attend to the ordinances of the Gospel, both for the living and the dead?”

  17. Kevin, your last sentence in #13 FTW. If only we live the hymns more closely. And I inadvertently wrote “apology” when I meant to say “Do I think a disavowal would kill the Church?” The answer is still no. I appreciate your thinking on this.

  18. I think you do it the same way Wilford Woodruff did it when he did away with the faulty Law of Adoption and instituted the sealing lines that we are familiar with today. He laid the groundwork carefully, reviewing how much Joseph had done and had continued to do, and noting that perhaps if he had lived long enough the additional truths that had come through Brigham Young and John Taylor and now Wilford Woodruff would have been revealed through Joseph. That WW was changing an established pattern did not mean that the revelations and teachings and good works of the earlier prophets were invalid; it only meant that the Lord had more to say and WW was saying it.

    The Church could say note that earlier prophets and apostles had done the best they could and achieved much good and revealed much truth, while on this particular matter they had fallen short. We have greater light and knowledge now. We regret the pain that has been caused, we commit to lessening that pain in the present and future by committing ourselves to such-and-such a course, which includes stating unequivocally that A, B, C, and D (as many specific false teachings as can be identified, starting with the checklist in Bott’s interview) are false, and explaining why, and we reaffirm the truth of A, B, C, and D (God is no respecter of persons, all are alike unto God, etc.)

    That won’t satisfy everybody, but as has been said, there is nothing that will satisfy some people short of the dissolution of the Church, the distribution of its assets to whatever the DAMU prescribes, and the self-immolation of every officer in the Church from Beehive secretary on up.

  19. Kevin Barney says:

    Ardis, I think the vast, vast majority of the Saints would have no problem at all with an explanation along the lines you give. I agree that one can’t just say it, he has to lay the groundwok carefully with explanation. I wish GBH were still alive, because with his historical sense and folksy charm, he would have been the perfect person to do this. In his absence I nominated Elder Holland, because if he brought to this topiic the same care and thoughtfulness he has brought to his GC talks on heavy doctrinal subjects in recent years, I’m highly confident it would go over well and most Saints would accept it.

  20. juliannr says:

    It is hard to decide which justification is the worst, but the one about making innocent African-Americans sit it out because the white members weren’t ready for it challenges that we are alike unto God and he is no respecter of persons. But even as we acknowledge what a disaster that reasoning was (if even true), it seems we then haven’t learned a thing. Here we are again worrying about apologizing or repudiating the ban because…the white members aren’t ready for it.

  21. Putting myself in the apostles shoes, the first thing that I realize is that it is quite likely that not all the apostles agree on this matter and that they won’t go any further until they all come to an agreement. I have no idea how long that might take, but I imagine that it could be years. This is of course just speculation on my part.

    narrator, I agree that the focus should be on doing what’s right. I’m sure that all the brethren would agree with this. However, that doesn’t mean that the consequences aren’t relevant and that we shouldn’t consider them when deciding how exactly to go about doing what is right. I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to be an apostle and decide how to deal with issues like this.

  22. Would a disavowal remove the protection of “a prophet would never lead the church astray (in matters of salvation)?”

    Because clearly the ban affected the level of salvation afforded to a great many people. Previous brethren made it clear that the ban allowed blacks to be servants and nothing more.

    Can the church survive with the idea that prophets led the church astray?

  23. The Church can’t admit the ban was not from God anymore than they can confess that polygamy was never from God. Though neither were from God, to admit it would mean BY & the other Prophets & G.A’s were all deceived & led the Church astray & used unrighteous dominion, which mean’t immediate ‘Amen’ to their Priesthood & keys & authority & rights to lead the Church.

    Thus to admit the ban was wrong means the Church is & has been in apostasy since the days of Joseph Smith, who did not believe in such a ban of the Priesthood, (nor did he believe in polygamy either).

    I do not believe the Church will ever repent & confess such errors & sins, & then pray to regain the authority & power to continue the work. We can only wait for Christ to return & restore the real truth & power & authority to the earth.

  24. observer fka eric s says:

    President Hinckley already basically said anyone who is racist isn’t following Christ (read: Brigham Young and others got it wrong and we admit it). So why not just go one more step further and disavow the ban, and specifically admit the mistake? The membership can handle it. Let’s face it, unless you can handle it now–along with other things–then you are probably not around as a member anymore.

  25. Of course a Church can survive believing that Prophet ‘can’ lead & have many times led the Church astray. In fact, it’s the only way for a Church or people to survive spiritually. We must be awake & alert for falsehoods & question everything that even those who call themselves ‘Prophets’ do or say.

    For we are warned that there will be many ‘false’ prophets in our day, even in the Church, as there were in Joseph’s day in the Church, & it is our solemn responsibility to be able to discern & determine if a prophet or any leader is leading us correctly or not, by if he ever preaches anything contrary to what the scriptures say.

    BY preached many things contrary to the scriptures, including polygamy, but the majority of the Saints did not see it & thus were lead to do wrong because of their inability to detect falsehoods & even whoredoms.

    The idea that Prophets can’t ever lead us astray is a falsehood taught & designed to lull the people to sleep & to follow prophets blindly & unquestioningly, which always leads people to become easily deceived & led to destruction.

    God on the other hand, commands us to awake & prove all things, question everything & everyone, to see if they are right, & who only hold fast to that which is ‘good’ & ‘right, if we want to be protected from being deceived & able to gain the Holy Spirit as our guide & thus false prophets won’t be able to deceive us & lead us astray.

  26. Do what is right. Let the consequence follow.

  27. Cassandra says:

    My recommendation: Have Darius Gray author a long piece in the Ensign, gently bringing up some history and firmly making the point that all folklore is wrong and unbecoming a true Latter-day Saint. Include a sidebar with Elder Holland’s remarks, to give it a little more official pizzazz. That way word gets out to the membership, and palatably introduces the issue to a lot of members who have honestly never had cause to think it through (number of black members of my CO ward: zero) but doesn’t cause the same uproar and screaming headlines nationwide that a conference talk or newsroom announcement would.

  28. We’ve spoken of a potential to lose members over renouncing the ban, but we’re losing members daily because they feel the Church has lost some institutional integrity. Their defection is less dramatic because they leave one at a time, but still significant. I think renouncing the priesthood ban would go a long, long way in re-establishing trust in the leadership for some members.

  29. I was reading in the book of Mark this morning. Christ was asked about divorce and said that the law of divorce was given to man because of the hardness of their hearts. It occurred to me that the ban may be similar. The law of divorce was given to Moses. It was prophetic. Why not? I’m not saying that is the actual reason for the ban…but it makes me feel a bunch better. It still allows for apologizing for all of the damaging fables that were created to support the insupportable and prevent the members from changing their own hearts. It recognizes the racism present in the church at that time. It squares the concept of the prophet will never lead us a stray with the reality that we will not be given beyond what we are ready to receive.

    For whatever reason it started. God didn’t take it away even when prophets begged…for whatever reason.

    As for Africa Africans…those I spoke with in South Africa brought it up quite regularly.

  30. #25:

    Better yet, have President Monson invite Darius up to General Conference and have him read NACBAC, and then endorse it.

  31. While they’re out it, they could do the same with polygamy, just get it all done at one and move on.

  32. wondering says:

    “God remained silent on the issue until society/members were prepared to accept dark-skinned brothers and sisters as equal members of both society and the Church.”

    Except, I don’t buy this. I think society and members would have accepted this long before it happened.

  33. Last Lemming says:

    For some church leaders, it is easy to draw the conclusion that they had some of the racial tendencies of their day and that that was the reason for the ban (Lee, Fielding Smith, etc.). However, I’ve had a harder time with the David O. McKay case; it seems that he was honestly open to the idea but didn’t get the answer,

    As I recall, McKay did get an answer–“Not yet.” Why not yet? Look back to the parenthetical in your previous sentence. Joseph Fielding Smith and Harold B Lee were the next two presidents of the Church and would have been in a position to undermine the whole thing regardless of what McKay did. Witness the mess between the first and second polygamy manifestos. Wilford Woodruff didn’t have 100% buy-in (nor did he have time to get it) and in the end, two apostles were excommunicated. McKay’s answer was basically to let the ocean liner turn in the manner it was designed to turn.

    I am fine with acknowledging that the ocean liner was pointed in the wrong direction on this subject and needed to be turn. But I see no point in apologizing for turning the ocean liner too slowly unless we have some reason to believe that it will turn more rapidly in the future. More important, I think, is to point out that the ocean liner is still turning. The brethren are encouraging Priesthood leaders to give women a more prominent voice in ward councils. Members are reminded that same-sex attraction is not a sin and the gays and lesbians deserve the same degree of friendship and kindness as anybody else. This is very different from when I was coming of age, but too many have not noticed. Those who are paying attention know which way the ship is turning, but nobody knows exactly which way it will be pointing when those maneuvers are complete.

    I fully agree with Ardis that the false teachings need to be explicitly identified and denounced–as many as can be found. As for apologies, I can think of two that would be appropriate:

    (1) The priesthood ban gave cover to those who would discriminate in areas unrelated to the priesthood. Although the Church made statements in favor of civil rights, the message was drowned out by the ban. We should have been much more emphatic on the subject prior to 1978.

    (2) We should also have been more emphatic on race in the Church since 1978. The statements by McConkie, Hinckley, and Holland were apparently insufficient. The average member may ignore the brethren on a routine basis and that falls on the members. But when BYU religion professors ignore them persistently and (even via a blog) publicly for extended periods, that falls on the Church

    (I’m probably not done with this, but I have to get back to work).

  34. Kevin,

    Thanks for this post. I don’t have much to add because I agree with most or all of what you wrote.

    Several fallacies that keep popping up in the comments:

    1) Mormon intellectuals who criticize the Church want to see it destroyed. I’ve seen absolutely no evidence for this. Rather, I think that critical LDS thinkers think the Church would be stronger if it honestly and openly addressed some of its weaknesses.

    2) If the Church apologizes for the criticism, it’s merely stepping onto a slippery slope that wouldn’t satisfy the critics, but will ultimately harm the Church itself. (See, e.g,. #3 above, “…for some people any approach short of Pres. Monson flogging himself in Temple Square is going to be insufficient.”) This seems counterfactual to me. In fact, I think most “critics” have been very graciously thankful for the Church’s press releases and would be satisfied by a clear statement from Church leadership.

    3) The priesthood ban was doctrinal, and disavowing it would cause faithful members to doubt their faith in God. In fact, the ban never was based on revelation. It’s not necessary to blame God for the failings of past leaders. It was precisely the lack of doctrinal support for the ban that lead to what Neal Maxwell called the “folklore” explains for its existence.

    4) If the Church apologizes for the priesthood ban, the vast majority of faithful members (as opposed to the vocal minority of Internet bloggers) will have their faith shaken and the Church will be weakened. This appears to be pure speculation, without support. I think believers are very resilient in their beliefs. Especially now, over three decades since OD 2, I find it hard to believe that very many people will have a hard time accepting that the way we do things now isn’t the way it ought to have been from the start, and we can stop speculating about the Curse of Cain or the Curse of Ham, Egyptus and the rest of it.

  35. As for driving members away with such an announcement (apology or renunciation) — the TBMs will still be TBMs after the announcement.

    The remarkable thing will be that the folk doctrine will also continue after the announcement just because some will not have listened (or heard) the message.

  36. Nice thoughts, Kevin. Just like we needed a “Second Manifesto” to clear up lingering uncertainty about the First Manifesto, it looks like we need a second revelation on race to clear up confusion about the first one. And if religion teachers at BYU can’t figure out what OD-2 was all about, plainly there is confusion and a more definitive statement needs to be made. I would add that if religion teachers at BYU can’t figure out what OD-2 was all about, we probably need new BYU religion teachers, but let’s give BYU Rel Ed some time to redeem themselves with some sort of public statement and action before going there.

  37. This is an interesting thought experiment. As its easy to say what we would do in the comfort of our own position, but if we had the weight of the calling on us it would be very difficult. Imagine knowing that if we were to disavow publicly the ban, then this is going to be used by some to brow beat those who have said it was doctrinal and God wanted the ban. I can just see the glee on the faces of some sectors of Mormonism as they say: ‘Look, the church made a mistake, what kind of prophet are they if they made a mistake, who silly of you to have believed that, I told you I was right!’ Thus, you have created a climate that not only challenges but could even stigmatize the ultra-faithful.

    On the other hand. To remain silent about it means you bleed members who see the church as being dishonest, and unable to accept that mistakes were made. Taking a pragmatic CEO stance, the ultra-faithful are more likely to serve in callings above and beyond the requirements, and do everything, whereas those who want disavowal are more likely to not be as devoted (read obsessive) in their church service. It makes sense then to keep the faithful satisfied.

    I don’t think the point about black africans not caring about it really works. As this most likely is simply because they haven’t been exposed to it. They hear about 1978 but they don’t read the extreme racist statements made in the past. They don’t have a culture that really is involved in blogging, and internet access is not standard in every home. Simply put, they don’t care because they are sheltered from it, and do not have the means, time, or inclination to find out about it. Perhaps, if they did they would be bothered more about it.

  38. It does seem that there’s a perfect solution here already present. President Hinckley apparently already approved and authorized the teaching of a New Revelation on Priesthood.

    If only the Brethren would be able to prayerfully ratify it, and then promulgate it. Divine answer to the question. There goes the “We don’t know”.

  39. From that post linked above:

    “In 1998, before the exchanges with President Hinckley occurred, Darius received what felt like a flood of knowledge and revelation on the subject of race and the priesthood restriction. He wrote up as much as he could, but did not share it for two years. He waited, praying about how he should proceed. In 2000, he found The Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual (copyright 1981), which talked about personal revelation and indicated that “every person properly appointed and sustained to act in an official capacity in the Church is entitled to the spirit of revelation to guide a particular organization or group over which he presides” (McConkie 187).

    Since Darius was then the president of the Genesis Group, a Church unit to support those of African lineage, he felt that he was acting within those parameters. But he was still careful. Finally, he read instructions in a CES manual suggesting that if anyone believes he/she has received an important revelation which should be shared with the entire Church, they should submit it to those in authority. This kind of correlation is intended to keep self-proclaimed prophets from starting new churches, preaching ideas contrary to true doctrine on the authority of “revelation”, or justifying things not accepted in the orthodox LDS Church (polygamy being the most obvious example).

    Darius submitted “Not a Curse but a Calling” to President Hinckley for approval, and asked if he could teach it.

    I was in the room with others of the Genesis leadership when Elder Cecil Samuelson entered. Standing before all of us, he said, “President Gray, you submitted an article and asked permission to teach it. That permission has been granted.” We in the Genesis leadership were the witnesses.

    This did not make Darius’s inspiration “new scripture” in any way—and he used a disclaimer whenever he taught the document we referred to as NACBAC: “What I am about to share should not be considered scripture, inasmuch as it is not found in any of the standard works of the Church. It is, however, consistent with the scriptures, and permission has been granted by the Brethren for me to teach it.” Nor did he share it capriciously. He held it in reserve and taught it only when he felt that the Spirit was right.”

  40. I agree with Lilly, #23. Nothing will change. To disavow is to set a precedent that any position taken by the Church could be an error and subject to disavowal. (Think of a recent proposition.) What is the difference between virulent racism and virulent homophobia.

  41. I hate analogies. By their very nature they’re imperfect, tend to grossly simplify the problem at hand and invariably diminish the difficulties involved in the two situations be compared. But sometimes they illuminate salient features not otherwise appreciated. Which is why I’m copying and pasting the story of Galileo from Wikipedia. If the church takes the long view, then they must immediately realize that the issue of race is just a preliminary (albeit profoundly important) skirmish in an otherwise very long and crucially important battle about concepts so central to Mormonism. Namely, What is truth? What are the sources of truth? How do we go about finding it? And how do we recognize it? Taking the long view means doing better than the Church of the Devil, and they only took four hundred years to apologize.

    In 1758 the Catholic Church dropped the general prohibition of books advocating heliocentrism from the Index of Forbidden Books.[44] It did not, however, explicitly rescind the decisions issued by the Inquisition in its judgement of 1633 against Galileo, or lift the prohibition of uncensored versions of Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus or Galileo’s Dialogue.[44] As a result, the precise doctrinal status of heliocentrism remained unclear, and many Catholic scientists continued to pay lip service to the view that it could only be treated as a hypothesis.[44] Others, however, openly endorsed it as an established fact without meeting any official opposition from the Church.[45] The issue finally came to a head in 1820 when the Master of the Sacred Palace (the Church’s chief censor), Filippo Anfossi, refused to license a book by a Catholic canon, Giuseppe Settele, because it openly treated heliocentrism as a physical fact.[46] Settele appealed to the then pope, Pius VII. After the matter had been reconsidered by the Congregation of the Index and the Holy Office, Anfossi’s decision was overturned.[46] Copernicus’s De Revolutionibus and Galileo’s Dialogue were then subsequently omitted from the next edition of the Index when it appeared in 1835.
    On February 15, 1990, in a speech delivered at La Sapienza University in Rome,[47] Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, cited some current views on the Galileo affair as forming what he called “a symptomatic case that illustrates the extent to which modernity’s doubts about itself have grown today in science and technology.”[48] As evidence, he presented the views of a few prominent philosophers including Ernst Bloch and Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker, as well as Paul Feyerabend, whom he quoted as saying:
    The Church at the time of Galileo kept much more closely to reason than did Galileo himself, and she took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo’s teaching too. Her verdict against Galileo was rational and just, and the revision of this verdict can be justified only on the grounds of what is politically opportune.[49]
    Ratzinger did not indicate whether he agreed or disagreed with Feyerabend’s assertions, but he did say “It would be foolish to construct an impulsive apologetic on the basis of such views.”[48]
    In 1992, it was reported in the news that the Catholic Church had turned around towards vindicating Galileo[50]:
    Thanks to his intuition as a brilliant physicist and by relying on different arguments, Galileo, who practically invented the experimental method, understood why only the sun could function as the centre of the world, as it was then known, that is to say, as a planetary system. The error of the theologians of the time, when they maintained the centrality of the Earth, was to think that our understanding of the physical world’s structure was, in some way, imposed by the literal sense of Sacred Scripture….
    —Pope John Paul II, L’Osservatore Romano N. 44 (1264) – November 4, 1992
    In 2000, Pope John Paul II issued a formal apology for all the mistakes committed by some Catholics in the last 2,000 years of the Catholic Church’s history, including the trial of Galileo among others.[51][52]
    In January 2008, as Pope Benedict XVI, Ratzinger canceled a visit to La Sapienza University, the same one he had visited in 1990, following a protest letter signed by 67 of its 4,500 academics, as well as a few dozen of its 135,000[citation needed] students. The petition included a truncated version of the Feyerabend quotation and asserted that Ratzinger’s reiteration of the quoted words had “offended and humiliated” them.[53][54] The full text of the speech that would have been given was made available a few days following Pope Benedict’s cancelled appearance at the university.[55] La Sapienza’s rector, Renato Guarini, has been quoted as stating that the cancellation was a “defeat for the freedom of expression”; Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi echoed such concerns.[56] Also notable were public counter-statements by La Sapienza professors Giorgio Israel[57] and Bruno Dalla Piccola.[53]

  42. Doesn’t it seem like if anyone in church leadership could renounce the ban in a way that would satisfy (almost) every member, wouldn’t it be Pres. Monson? And @Lily… not to make this a polygamy threadjack, but I’m not sure you know as much about Joseph Smith as you think you know about Joseph Smith.

  43. I haven’t read all the comments, but the main hang-up I might have with a disavowal is nearly the same problem I have with the racist folklore. That is, “why the ban? Well there must have been a good reason, hence…” and the racist explanations come. Now we’ve reasoned that the only possible explanation is that the brethren were racist and the ban should never have been in place in the first place. Shall we state that as doctrine too? I’m highly suspicious of taking human reasoning and declaring it as God’s word. And if the brethren decide not to do that and instead disavow the ban by saying “Gee, we don’t know why the ban was in place, but it sure seems like a bad idea now”, they’ll have just dug the hole deeper.

  44. Mark Brown says:

    If we want to fall back on the “We don’t know” line, at least we have to have guts enough to state what we do know.

    We have to openly state that Joseph Smith ordained black men to the priesthood.

    We have to disavow Brigham Young’s and John Taylor’s statements about the ridiculous policy of miscegenation, which were employed as excuses to deny black people temple access.

    We have to acknowledge that the legislature of Deseret allowed slavery.

    We have to acknowledge that Joseph F. Smith relied on Zebedee Coltrin’s transparent lies to solidify the policy.

    We have to take a good, long, hard look at 60 years of sausage-making where priesthood and temple privileges were gradually withdrawn and the ban was gradually but firmly put in place, then carefully consider whether sausage-making = revelation.

    We have to come to grips with the fact that we have no official statement — none, whatsoever — from any church president stating that the ban was of divine origin. All we have are the statements by Young and Taylor, and then later presidents looking to them as precedent and upholding the status quo.

    If we are willing to be honest enough with ourselves to do all those things, then I’d withdraw much of my objection to saying “We don’t know”.

  45. Ugly Mahana says:

    For what would the apology be offered? For the erroneous thinking used to justify the ban, or for God’s apparent refusal to end the ban before 1978 (After all, more than one prophet asked God if the ban should be ended, but only one was told yes)? It seems to me that Elder McConkie’s “Forget everything . . .” statement takes care of the former. I do not know that any mortal could address the latter.

  46. #45 – Neither. The justifications already have been repudiated – very clearly, which is why all that is left to do is repudiate the ban itself. As I said in another comment in one of these threads, I can read a repudiation into the Church’s latest statement quite easily, but it would be good not to have to read it into a statement – to have one that is unequivocal and obvious.

    The timing of OD2 is a totally different subject, and I, personally, am just fine with “we don’t know” when it comes to that topic. I have expressed in numerous places my opinion about it, but I always have ended with, “but I can’t say I know for sure.”

  47. Matt W. says:

    One thing we should definitely do is start by removing the following content from our website and institute manuals.

    1. What Bott said isn’t that different than what is in the institute manual “From the dispensation of Adam until the dispensation of the fulness of times, there has been a group of people who have not been allowed to hold the priesthood of God. The scriptural basis for this policy is Abraham 1:21–27. The full reason for the denial has been kept hidden by the Lord, and one is left to assume that He will make it known in His own due time.”

    2. It’s not that different than the official church study aid for the topic. “Ever since biblical times, the Lord has designated through His prophets who could receive the priesthood and other blessings of the gospel. Among the tribes of Israel, for example, only men of the tribe of Levi were given the priesthood and allowed to officiate in certain ordinances. Likewise, during the Savior’s earthly ministry, gospel blessings were restricted to the Jews. Only after a revelation to the Apostle Peter were the gospel and priesthood extended to others (see Acts 10:1–33; 14:23; 15:6–8).”

    Makes me feel sorry for Randy Bott. He just got rebuked for basically saying what was in our manual and on our website…

  48. Damage control! Damage control! The S.S. LDS Church just detonated an abandoned mine of her own make and is taking on water. Well thought out and well written Kevin but it is damage control, isn’t it? Didn’t the church do this to itself and aren’t there more mines waiting? Honesty? Don’t do as we do do as we say. Was Christ at the helm? Well, we won’t get into that.

  49. I believe the reason David O McKay did not get his “answer” is because there has to be unanimous agreement in the Council for something to be ratified as a new revelation. As has been pointed out, there were racist members on the Council at the time, and from what I understand, they would not ratify a revelation. Evidently Elder Kimball pressed vigorously for abolishment of the ban, but was unsuccessful. Later, as President Kimball (and after the major dissenters had died), the time was right for the revelation and he successfully got the unanimous ratification.

    But one wonders if there is still enough racism on the council to thwart a proper disavowing of the ban. Boyd K. Packer gave a famous talk on not “mixing” races, and has made other racist statements in the past (to say nothing of his persistant inflamatory remarks on homosexuality). Other council members may harbor racist feelings, but may not have made them known publicly. I predict the Church will NOT do the right thing in this instance, and will continue with the long-term policies of the past. I would love to be proven wrong, by the way.

  50. they wont disavow because that would mean prophets can be wrong on important issues. if thats the case why would we hang on every word about earrings and skirt lenghts.

  51. Sinclair says:

    That blacks have the priesthood is still a major struggle for a lot of the older members in my ward, here in the South. They hold onto and perpetuate these folklore doctrines “because temple / stake / mission president ____ said it so it must be true”. There must be a letter from CH or a very specific address during GC to denounce these notions once and for all.

  52. Matt W:

    All of the institute manuals need MASSIVE revision. Also, this from the OT manual: “Therefore, although Ham himself had the right to the priesthood, Canaan, his son, did not. Ham had married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain ( Abraham 1:21–24 ), and so his sons were denied the priesthood.”

  53. Of course, the institute manual also denounces evolution, and claims the division in the days of Peleg was the breaking asunder of the continents, so…

  54. #47 – Matt, I agree that those passages should be removed, but there is a HUGE difference between them and what Prof. Bott said.

    #50 – Disavowals of the justifications have been numerous and forceful – so admissions that previous prophets and apostles have been wrong about important issues already have been made. I think that’s important to realize in all of this – that such general admissions already are firmly established in the statements made over the last 30 years.

  55. Casey,

    I’m not sure you know as much about Joseph Smith as you think you know about Joseph Smith. Look closer.

  56. Why don’t we have a black member of The Quorum of the Twelve present the disavowal?

  57. I was encouraged both by Hinkley’s 2006 talk and the current public statements by the church which have stopped just short of an apology. They have already raised the most difficult question that either a disavowal and/or an apology raises, a question directly and poignantly asked (but not answered) by Hinkley:

    “How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?” (2006, Priesthood Session)

    How could the leaders, the key holders to all Melchizedek Priesthood keys, make such a sustained and awful error and still remain worthy in the sight of the Lord. As Hinkley reminded us. “I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ.” He doesn’t qualify either of these remarks as ‘now’ or ‘after the prophet has spoken in 1978′. The answer to this question is fundamental to how God must deal with revelation and authority. If we can not answer it, I feel that we must understand almost nothing about how revelation works and how Christ leads the church – both strong central claims of our faith.

    I think the real risk they see is in the fracturing of their authority. If past apostles could be blinded by mortal bigotry enough to impose a ban, might it not be possible that current apostles are blinded by their generational bigotry towards – oh gays – and progulmate policies and doctrines accordingly? If racism can shape core church policies over access to the priesthood, isn’t sexism also a likely candidate?

    However, I see this threat to their authority as largely superficial. Strategically, I think they have everything to gain by an apology and declaring the ban as “rooted in human error not in divine will” (if I may suggest some words). This should be done not by Holland or another 12, but by Monson. A short statement should be amended the official declaration. And he should go on to talk about how even disciples of Christ struggle to follow his example in all things – calling not just the brethren but all of us to repentance. That is his job after all.

  58. #54 Ray, yes I too think that it has been established that leaders can be wrong. I wish we could quietly quash the 14 Fundementals talk. I wouldn’t want a disavowal or statement or even acknowledgement as long as it disappeared from manuals, GC talks, magazines etc. My whole relationship of the Church and a good portion of my understanding of the gospel and its principals is predicated on trying to create a model of mortality and ‘true’ churchdom where deep racism can persist long after society around it has repudiated it. I just wish my leaders would give me some help in how this relationship between God, leaders, revelation etc. operates. Since I don’t perceive much help (Oaks took a stab at it a few years back, but didn’t really do anything but reiterate that I ought to obey church leaders and this should never conflict with my conscious). I hope more efforts like this are forthcoming.

  59. Forgive the threadjack, but if anybody has contacts with the higher ups, somebody needs to take care of this quote in the current YM manual before it also blows up our face:

    “We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question”

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=ba805f74db46c010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD&locale=0&sourceId=1f4fa41f6cc20110VgnVCM100000176f620a____&hideNav=1&contentLocale=0

  60. rah,

    Apostles & even Presidents of the Church can & have been wrong many times about doctrine & have even contradicted each other & the scriptures over & over. So when apostles like Elder Benson giving the ’14 Fundamentals’ talk, especially the ‘prophets can’t lead us astray’ part, we must realize that Apostles are just giving their opinions, even in Gen.Conf., & they are not allowed to declare new doctrine, only the President of the Church can, & even the President/Prophet, like all leaders, can’t ever teach anything that is contrary to the scriptures or isn’t backed up by scripture like the ‘can’t lead us astray notion’ isn’t.

    Joseph Smith taught that if a Prophet or person ever teaches anything contrary to what the scriptures teach or different than what Christ taught, then they prove themselves false, even false prophets.

    We are commanded to question & judge & prove true or false everything that Prophets, apostles or any leader in the Church says or does. They can fall or lead astray the same as you or I. God is testing us to see if we can be deceived or not.

    Many apostles fell or proved themselves false prophets during Joseph Smith’s day, so of course we can expect or at least beware of the same happening today. It would be highly unusual if we didn’t have many false prophets in the Church today.

    It has always been, since even the Pre-existence, ‘our greatest test’ to see if we can be deceived or not, by the Adversary or by falsehoods or false prophets or persons, especially in the Church where all leaders can seem so wonderful, but are really wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    The scriptures prophesy that in these last days today, we will have many false prophets around us, even in the Church. So the question is can we tell a true Prophet from a false prophet? Can we discern true doctrine from all the false doctrine continually preached throughout the Church by leaders & members?

    Joseph Smith said the ‘key’ is whether or not Prophets or persons teach according to what the scriptures say. He taught that no true prophet can teach contrary to what the scriptures or Christ teach. The scriptures are our way to tell truth from error & devils from saints & true prophets from false prophets. If we allow ourselves to be deceived we can lose our exaltation.

    Satan wants us to believe that prophets can never lead us astray, so members will sit back & relax & follow anything the prophets or church leaders may say, just assuming they are true prophets & inspired leaders. Satan never wants us to question any leader in the Church. He wants us to assume ‘all is well’ & that the thinking, praying & studying has all been done for us.

  61. If the Church apologizes for the ban re black men, but doesn’t apologize for the ban re women, what should that tell us?

  62. Stephen M (Ethesis) says:

    I am wondering how others view Darius’ understanding? It is similar to the way I heard Richard Oteno explain his experience to his brother.

  63. I see no evidence that any of the current Apostles hold what Elder Oaks has called “folklore” ideas about the origins of the ban. I invite those who make such claims to provide supporting evidence.

  64. #60

    Lilly I think you and I have come to very much the same way of making sense of things. I absolutely believe that prophets/apostles have been wrong – frequently and over the pulpit. I absolutely agree that every member has both the right and obligation to question anything that is said. However, try saying that over the pulpit in your ward on Sunday and then actually apply a *current* example of something you think is “false prophesy”. Thats the trick, “in theory” we believe this, but in day to day practice it puts you on perilous ground subject to all types of social sanction and if you are in certain places even discipline. If you can’t say it in a meaningful way without being implicitly or explicitly punished what does that mean? Lets say you believe do to your own conscience, prayers, revelation whatever that homosexuality isn’t a horrible sin or that very least God doesn’t want us spending resources keeping gays from marrying. Lets say you are pretty certain that homosexual marriage isn’t destroying families and that it is very possible that like all the horrible stuff said about blacks this is deeply rooted in human bias and bigotry. And what does that say about how the relationship between God and his prophets work? The leadership knows how it works to the extent they live that experience. They seem pretty certain that homosexuality is awful and destined to destroy the moral fabric of society in both word and action. I would like to now more about *how* they know that, by what authority they claim to know it. We know nothing about that.

    I totally believe that 14 Fundamentals was just Benson personal opinion and not aligned with either scripture or God’s will. Apparently so did the other leadership at the time it was given. Now it is being given the highlight treatment in not 1 but 2 GC talks, it has been included in official church manuals etc. etc. I have it quoted to me all the time by your average member. It has become sadly the largely accepted model within the church, not how you or I view it. That is an old model and discourse that needs to be resurrected.

  65. rah,

    It really doesn’t matter what the Church or leaders think about someone plainly stating the truth, even if the Church doesn’t want to acknowledge it. People have to stand on their own today when they stand for the truth.

    Church leaders, especially the Prophet, have to ‘prove’ to us that they are righteous & are not teaching contrary to the scriptures. After Joseph Smith died, none of the Prophets since have proven their righteousness & they all have taught & acted ‘contrary’ to the scriptures. Only those who test their words & actions will be able to determine false prophets from true ones.

    Pres. Woodruff also had the ‘opinion’ that ‘prophets can’t lead us astray’, but he was just trying to cover up yet another false doctrine (polygamy) that the Church fell for & was finally forced to stop it, just like the Church was forced to stop denying blacks the Priesthood. Someday the Church will be forced to stop denying women the Priesthood also. But as of yet, most women in the Church sadly & unbelievably don’t desire it yet.

    The Church seems to always cave to outside pressure & change doctrine, especially when the majority of members want the Church to cave & change.

    I believe that the Church will in a few years cave to same sex marriage also, because of outside & inside pressure to do so. The Church seems far more bent on changing doctrine in order to keep it’s members, than it ever cared about standing for the truth.

  66. “But if Romney gets the nomination, then we’ll see this issue blow up in such a way that the last few days will seem like a harmless firecracker. As a guardian of the best interests of the institution, I would want to get ahead of this issue, and a disavowal puts it to bed.”

    Either the General Authorities disavow the ban or Mitt Romney will. It’s pretty much that simple. What choice will he have?

  67. #58: “I wish we could quietly quash the 14 Fundementals talk.”

    Ironically, the 14-fundamentals principle that we follow the living, not dead, prophets is precisely why the ban could be lifted.

  68. Joseph Smith taught that ‘living’ prophets can never differ from or teach contrary to ‘dead’ prophets, nor change the doctrine taught by dead prophets, if they do, the ‘living’ prophets prove themselves false prophets.

    So Joseph Smith proves that many points in the ’14 Fundamentals talk’ are falsehoods, perpetuated by prophets & apostles who disagree with Joseph Smith’s teachings.

    Joseph Smith warned us to never listen to those who disagreed with his teachings or the scriptures he brought forth, but hardly anyone listened to him.

    This is not rocket science, though you’d think it is by how few put 2 + 2 together.

    The biggest test & question for us in the Church today, is ‘who proves themselves a true prophet & who proves themselves a false prophet’? By realizing & judging by the fact that, true Prophets will always teach the same things as dead prophets.

  69. Sources, Lilly. You can’t throw that stuff against the wall and see what sticks without sources.

  70. Isn’t it about time that Lilly be show to the quiet room?

  71. I sorta like the 14 Fundamentals. i think they very much describe what it means to be a mormon, and why members do the things they do, and believe what they believe. i think it explains why racism was institutionalized within the church, and why it is still a problem and topic today. i think the 14 fundamentals could be shared by benson because they were already core beliefs and practiced by enough people. sharing them as he did was only a way to reinforce the party line a bit more. an apology for racism may happen one day, but only when enough people are willing to say they dont follow the prophet, past or present, on this topic. they must not follow the prophet and his excuse made (or allowed) last week, or the excuse made decades ago.

    that said, in honor of benson, let’s have a little fun with this.

    mormons are not the only people that follow ideology like certain non-thinking mammals. meaning, if their favorite leader says it, its as good as gospel.

    here are my new 14 fundamentals.

    “Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Republican President”, for our salvation depends on them.

    1. The Republican President is the only man who speaks for the Lord’s Country in everything.

    2. The living Republican President is more vital to us than the Constitution.

    3. The living Republican President is more important to us than a dead Republican President.

    4. The Republican President will never lead the Country astray.

    5. The Republican President is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time.

    6. The Republican President does not have to say “Thus Saith the Lord,” to give us inspired decisions.

    7. The Republican President tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know.

    8. The Republican President is not limited by citizen’s reasoning.

    9. The Republican President can receive revelation on any matter, temporal or spiritual.

    10. The Republican President may advise on civic matters.

    11. The two groups who have the greatest difficulty in following the Republican President are the proud who are learned and the proud who are immoral.

    12. The Republican President will not necessarily be popular with the world or the worldly.

    13. The Republican President and his counselors make up the Presidency—the highest branch in the Country.

    14. The Republican President and the presidency—the living Republican President and his Presidency—follow them and be blessed—reject them and suffer.

  72. I knew these threads would bring out the trolls, but still . . .

  73. “If any man preaches to you doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon or the Book of Doctrine & Covenants, set him down as an imposter….try them by the principles contained in the acknowledged word of God; if they preach, or teach or practice contrary to that, disfellowship them, cut them off from among you as useless and dangerous branches… Shun every man who teaches any other principles.”
    Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons, 5:490-491, April 1, 1844.

    “Many true things were spoken by this personage, and many things that were false. How, it may be asked, was this known to be a bad angel? …by his contradicting a former revelation.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 215-216)

    “But though we (the Apostles) or an Angel form heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” Gal.1:8

    “The Prophet warned against iniquitous characters… advising them to not believe anything as coming from us (the 1st Pres.) contrary to the established morals and virtues and scriptural laws… and shun them as the “flying fiery serpent’, whether they are prophets, seers or revelators, patriarchs, twelve apostles, priests, majors, generals, city councilors, aldermen, marshals, police, lord mayors or the devil.” Joseph Smith, Biography of Sidney Rigdon, Richard Van Wagoner, p. 292.

    “No such principles (of polygamy) ever existed among the Latter-Day Saints and never will… The Book of Mormon, D&C, and also all our periodicals are very strict on that subject, indeed, far more so than the Bible.” (Proof that Joseph referred to the scriptures to test the truth or falsehood of any idea or principle) Joseph Smith, Millennial Star, 3:74

    “God is the same yesterday, today and forever and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing. Ye have imagined up unto yourselves a God who doth vary.” Mormon 9

    “Because of false teachers and false doctrines their churches have become corrupted.” 2 Nephi 28:12

    “The world always mistook false prophets for true ones.” Joseph Smith, Times and Seasons 3:11

    “Truth has but one source. and all revelations from heaven are harmonious with each other.”
    Pres. Joseph F. Smith, MOFP 4:199.

    “You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards of doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works. If Joseph Fielding Smith writes something which is out of harmony with the revelations, then every member of the Church is duty bound to reject it. If he writes that which is in perfect harmony with the revealed work of the Lord, then it should be accepted.”
    Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3:203-204.

    “Whenever you find any doctrine, any idea, any expression from any source whatsoever that is in conflict with that which the Lord has revealed and which is found in the holy scriptures, you may be assured that it is false and you should put it aside and stand firmly grounded in the truth.”
    Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, CR Apr. 1917.

    We are clearly warned not to listen to, follow or trust in anyone who preaches contrary to the scriptures & teachings that Joseph Smith brought forth or contrary to what Christ taught. The scriptures are our standard to judge & recognizing all truth. That’s how we can know true prophets from false prophets.

  74. ray, i am not sure if that means you have no sense of humor or if it means you have no capacity for introspection. what constitutes trolling in any of the above posts?

  75. Having read the comments on many of these posts, I think part of the what might concern me (if I was an apostle) are the people who, having been converted unto the ways of the world, conflate the priesthood ban with our stance on sexual morality or the patriarchal nature of the priesthood.

  76. Fine, Corey. Here goes:

    “they must not follow the prophet and his excuse made (or allowed) last week”

    There was no excuse made last week by the Prophet or anyone representing him officially. None.

    In the “Bott-ulism” post:

    “the press releases are significantly less honest in their claims than bott was in describing the origins and explanations of the ban.”

    Hogwash. There was no dishonesty in the latest press release. You charge it because it didn’t refute explicitly something said PRIOR to 1978, when it condemned ALL racism, past and present, said by ANYONE inside or outside the Church. That obviously includes everything you’ve mentioned in every comment you’ve made. The press release did exactly what you accuse it of not doing.

    “the thoughts have NEVER been dismissed and no apologies made for them. rather, we have an explanation only that we dont understand them.”

    The thoughts you mentioned have been dismissed – very forcefully, multiple times, by multiple people. There is absolutely no question about that. I even included a link in that very thread to a post I wrote compiling lots of quotes dismissing and condemning “the thoughts”.

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

    I’ve already refuted this statement. It didn’t have to address McConkie’s statements or the 1949 statements, since it condemned ALL racism from our past.

    “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)”

    He did get it wrong. The LDS Church doesn’t teach the old crap anymore and has condemned it multiple times – including the idea that “these racist things were god’s will”.

    I will rescind my statement that you are functioning as a troll, if you will admit that you have said lots of things in these threads that simply are incorrect and inflammatory. If it was because you didn’t read the press release and aren’t aware of the multiple previous statements I included in the post to which I linked, I understand that and apologize for the troll designation. If you did read the press release and are aware of the other statements since 1978, that’s a totally different situation.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 9,514 other followers