An Exception Being Made in His Case…Or, You Might Be A Racist If…Part 3

After the Church statements of Feb. 29, 2012 (“We don’t know why, how or when” [the restriction came into being], LDS respondents tended to back off the Curse of Cain or the old “Fence-sitter” rationales.  Nonetheless, some clung fiercely to one defense: That God has always restricted the priesthood, as evidenced by the fact that only the Levites were priests after the Exodus, and that the extension of priesthood was according to some divine timetable. Therefore, we don’t now why, how, or when–but we know God did it, because that’s his pattern.

I suspect this will be the most controversial of my posts on the “exceptions” we make for ourselves as we defend our past.  I personally find no room for them in the recent Church statements.  There is a clear distancing from earlier proclamations (already discussed).

We are a dispensational religion, believing that we are now living “in the fullness of times.”  Dispensationalism includes timetables, but using timetables as a justification for something otherwise unjustifiable sounds curiously like Karma—a doctrine you should probably not preach over the pulpit unless you’d like to get better acquainted with your bishop.  The problem isn’t with the timetable concept per se, but with its application to the priesthood restriction, suggesting that God would use the restriction as His schedule manager, assuring that no one of African lineage would receive the greatest gifts of the gospel until 1978.

Priesthood rights changed through biblical history.  Initially, it was Patriarchal, then given according to primogeniture.  In Moses’ time, the Levites, who responded in the affirmative when asked “Who’s On The Lord’s Side?” were selected as the priestly tribe among the Israelites, the tribe who would not have an inheritance in property “because the Lord the God of Israel himself is their inheritance” (Deuteronomy 18:2).  They were to serve the other tribes and to collect tithes.

Then came the central events of this world’s history: the birth, ministry, and atonement of Jesus Christ.  He chose and ordained disciples from various tribes, their qualifications being righteousness and a willingness to follow Him. Yes, Jesus went first to the Israelites, but ultimately commanded his disciples to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”( Mark 16:15).  There were exceptions, but I would suggest that they were based on concern for the missionaries’ lives.  I suspect it’s likely that Enoch, in an earlier dispensation, did not preach to the Canaanites because they were a war-like nation who slew and “utterly destroyed whole peoples” (Moses 7:7)—not because of their complexions.

Peter’s revelation after Christ’s ascension—that he was to partake of non-kosher food (i.e. preach to gentiles), with the follow-up instruction that he should not call “common” any whom “God hath cleansed” opened the doors to “all the world.”

We claim to be the restored Church of Jesus Christ, not of Moses. For those who find it repugnant to think that God would have allowed a possible error to stand for over 150 years, that he would not have micro-managed the situation, consider not only the context of the times, but that the Mormon Church was isolated in the mountain west until the mid-twentieth century.  There was just a handful of Blacks in the area, and segregation was the accepted norm everywhere.  The priesthood restriction was such a non-issue that even young apostle David O. McKay was unaware of it until he made a world-wide trip in 1925. Generally, questions don’t get asked until they appear on the radar.  A neglected back room might go without any attention until it houses mating mice, which soon infiltrate the whole house, even when guests are eating a beautifully planned feast.  Likewise, the priesthood restriction did not garner much notice until the nation as a whole started paying attention to the racial divide and all the consequences begun by the tolerance of slavery.

Consider, too, that African slaves were scattered throughout the world, in just about every country.  Given generations of slave rape and intermarriage, African features were not always discernable.  With the restriction in place, missionaries’ enforcement of the policy often involved investigators’ family photos.  The dialogue would be something like this:

Missionary: What a lovely family you have.  I’d sure like to see some of your family photos. 

Investigator: Oh yes—I have pictures right here. 

Missionary:  Ah.  This dark woman—is she your maid?

Investigator:  No.  That’s my dear grandmother.

Missionary:  Oh, I see.  Well, I need to tell you a little bit more about the blessings you’ll receive after your baptism—and some you won’t be able to receive yet.

That was the signal to give the “special” discussion.

For President David O. McKay, the problem became more and more troubling.  He began lifting the restriction for many of African ancestry in places other than the U.S.or Africa.  Fijiians, Philippino Negritos, and many who had African ancestry but no visible African features became “exceptions” and were ordained to the priesthood.  The 19th and 20th Century restriction was nothing like the singular assignment given to the Levites to act as priests to the other Israelite tribes.

I like what Scott Gordon, president of FAIR, said recently after he came to believe that the analogy between Levitical priesthood and the modern restriction was a false one.  I got his permission to quote his response to someone who took issue with his stance: 

 I just finished a long email exchange with someone who believed it showed that God gave his priesthood out in ever widening circles of responsibility. That simply doesn’t fly as an explanation. It highlights people being left out.  Note the following problems:

1) During the first 15 years of church organization, blacks were ordained to the priesthood. The posted temple rules talked about admitting black Africans. Baptisms for the dead were performed by black African-Americans. How does the Levite explanation explain that? It doesn’t.

2) While the Levites held the priesthood, do we have any scriptures that claim the other tribes of Israel were “cursed” and couldn’t have the priesthood? If we don’t, the situations are not parallel.

3) While the lesser priesthood was given by linage, Joseph Smith specifically changed the JST bible to say that the Melchizedek priesthood was without father or mother, or in other words it had no lineage. So how do we exclude based on lineage?

4) The Levite explanation has the priesthood first going to the Levites, then to everyone else except blacks, then finally to the blacks. Imagine you are picking teams for a school sporting event. You first pick the first string, then you pick everyone else, but you leave one potential player out. Your explanation to that last player is that this is how it is done–we leave someone out. How do you think that last player will feel? So if you say, “The reason you are left out is because thousands of years ago when they used to play this sport, they used to only pick members of one family to play. Now we are so lucky that we include almost everyone. You just happen to be the one–the only one–who gets left out. Never mind the fact that last year we took all of the players. We changed our mind on this.”

5) Does the Levite model have anything at all to do with blacks not having the priesthood? Answer: We have absolutely no idea. We are using it as an ad-hoc explanation, when we don’t know if they are related at all. So this puts us in the position of promoting a belief without any scriptural or prophetic basis. We are making it up. Making up doctrine is never a good idea.

 I agree with Scott.  And I believe that as we study our actual history, retaining faith that God can give us beauty for ashes and can weave our tragedies into holy mantles—which we desire ALL to receive–we will become a better people.  I believe in the union of faith and scholarship; the illumination of belief by “the best books”;  education magnified by Heavenly light. I believe in all of us as a people, and in our ability to move into a promised land together—not as idealogues, but as brothers and sisters.






  1. Thank you, Margaret.

    My simple answer to the Levite assertion is that all of our canonized scriptures say quite clearly that any Priesthood restriction, even if previous ones actually were lineage-based, ended with the ministry of Jesus Christ – that His ministry ended any designation of chosen-ness according to lineage and opened the full blessings of heaven to ALL of God’s children. I just don’t see any other way whatsoever to read our actual canonized scriptures – and to explain why Joseph himself ordained black men to the Priesthood.

    Every single justification based on the expanding availability argument I have heard fails completely to deal with those two aspects: 1) the explicit scriptural statements that, with the ministry of Jesus Christ, all now were alike unto God; 2) that Joseph ordained black men to the Priesthood.

    I can understand and allow for a belief that the Priesthood was restricted before Jesus’ ministry. No matter how I feel about that belief, I won’t argue passionately against it. Projecting that into our own modern times is what I can’t understand or accept. It simply doesn’t match our scriptures OR our modern history.

  2. This is the most important of your three posts, precisely because it targets a stronghold of residual speculation that masquerades as doctrinal justification. It is unlikely to die out any time soon, unfortunately. Why? Because if this last explanation of why blacks were denied the priesthood and temple ordinances is false, the conclusion is inescapable that the prophets who declared that the ban was of God were wrong and demonstrably uninspired on that issue, despite declaring that they were in fact very sure of God’s will. For many in the church, that kind of conclusion is an impossibility from their point of view. It’s not that they think that the church leaders are infallible. It’s that they think that the prophets will never say that they were inspired by God to say something unless they actually were inspired. As soon as we admit the possibility that a prophet who declares something to be the will of God may actually have been deceived by his own mind, and that the prophet then went on to unwittingly pass on that deception to the whole church and preach as God’s doctrine, we’re opening the floodgate to question everything the prophets have ever said, and that would be a very bad thing. Or at least some would think it to be a very bad thing.

    The truth is not always flattering, but “facts are stubborn things,” as Joseph Smith is purported to have said (though the quote is generally attributed to John Adams first). It’s time to stop being afraid of facts, and just let the evidence tell the story, without worrying so much about whether the facts seem to strengthen testimonies or not. In the end, what good is a mistaken testimony about falsehoods anyway? Time to preen the falsehoods and let truth prevail.

  3. KerbearRN says:

    In these discussions, I have come to find only ONE way this restriction could have actually come from God. And that is simply that it had absolutely NOTHING to do with the worthiness of black LDS, but instead was a reflection on the worthiness of the NON-black LDS. In other words, if this were the case, I suspect that, given racial attitudes and racism at the time, the whites simply couldn’t have handled blacks being given equal standing. Perhaps as a protection of blacks, and furthermore to the condemnation of whites. And taking this argument further, whites simply showed their unworthiness by creating explanations and “doctrines” that vilified the blacks, instead of humbling themselves. As far as I can see, it is either that or simply a reflection of a racist credo that was rampant everywhere during most of the time the Ban was in effect. In either case, it doesn’t cast the white LDS (including myself) in a very good light. I believe we are now being given the opportunity to right a huge wrong and repent of this hurtful treatment of our brothers and sisters.

  4. Scott Gordon’s logic is sound. The Levite analogy is terrible.

    >He began lifting the restriction for many of African ancestry in places other than the U.S.or Africa. Fijiians, Philippino Negritos, and many who had African ancestry but no visible African features became “exceptions” and were ordained to the priesthood.

    Margaret, I think this is really the crux of the matter. If “Africans” were cursed, then either everyone was cursed or no-one was cursed.

  5. Geoff - A says:

    Agree with everything above. The thing I found most surprising about the Church statement is that they said there was no source (revelation) for the ban. They could have made the statement without this admission.

    We have a P’hood/RS lesson that spends a lot of time on the idea that we can follow unquestioningly our leaders because the Lord will not permit them to lead us astray. Is denying the p’hood to a portion of the population, without any cause, and defending that denial vehemently as Gods will, not leading the church astray?

    To me this is the part of the statement that has the greatest consequence. How did it get in there?

  6. Kevin Barney says:

    Thank you, Margaret.

  7. @Geoff #5

    I understand what you are saying about following unquestioningly. Perhaps we are asked to do that to support and maintain unity in the Church instead of splitting off into faction. If the ban really was uninspired and man-made, why not just let those responsible for it “take the heat” or be responsible for it?

    Also, the fact that there was a revelation lifting the ban shows that God will not allow the Church to go astray- it stopped. I think we get caught up thinking that any error must be rectified immediately. That’s not how God works – He doesn’t woosh down and fix everything at the first sign of trouble. Is 150 a loooong time? Yes. Why didn’t he woosh down earlier? Who knows. I side with the theory that white people weren’t ready to have blacks in leadership positions. Mormon or not, everyone was racist. How would people have felt in the racist era of the past to be led by a black bishop or stake president?

  8. I appreciated the article. Thank you.

  9. Although I certainly agree that the analogy to the Levites is flawed, it and other examples can legitimately be used for a more limited purpose. It does appear that God has restricted the granting of the Priesthood and even the preaching of the Gospel based purely on lineage or upon one’s gender. Those who look at those example have no basis to conclude that withholding the Priesthood from blacks has any justification whatsoever. However, when confronted by the argument that God is not racist and he would never withhold Priesthood or other blessings based on race, they are justified in pointing that God has in fact acted in ways that certainly appear to be completely arbitrary, racist or sexist. We are then left with a God who is capable of all kinds of strange things, because we can find precedents for a behavior that we consider to be wrong. That justifies nothing, but it leaves the door open to suggest that we can’t ever second guess anything based on what we think God would or would not do.

  10. The only way that I can remain a faithful member of the church is to acknowledge that the church and its leaders make mistakes and should not be followed blindly. My personal revelation is as important as the counsel given by church leadership. Brigham Young said the infamous “leadership of the church will not lead you astray” quote, but he also said
    “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give to their leaders, did they know for themselves, by the revelations of Jesus, that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.”
    – Brigham Young, quoted by President Faust in 1999 HT lesson

  11. Last week in RS the teacher asked “why is it important that all men are able to receive the priesthood?” I raised my hand to point out that hasn’t always been the case, and because it was a spur of the moment thing and I didn’t really have time to think it through, I basically talked about the Old Testament and our dispensation and that I didn’t know why, but now we are living in the fullness of times and blah blah. I had really just meant to call attention to the interesting question, but I realized after I was done that I basically had ended up sounding racist. Ugh.

  12. Thank you so much for these posts!

    I also agree with Paul, that the Levitical explanation is unlikely to die out anytime soon. I think a reason (besides the whole fear of calling prophets, well, WRONG) is that people have a hard time with “we don’t know.” In the absence of a reason that makes sense, we fall back on what is easy or obvious, whether or not that explanation is correct. For example, why did Europeans conquer the world? No one in polite society would say it’s because whites are better, or smarter, or more suited to rule. But in the vacuum of a good explanation, that’s what people believe, even subconsciously. (Not to get on a tangent here, but the book “Guns, Germs, and Steel” has an awesome hypothesis about this issue.)

    I hope, I wish, the church would give that alternate explanation. Brigham Young was wrong. The ban was from man, not God. While there would be some, perhaps a lot, of resistance, at least it would have two advantages. First, it would fill the “why” void, and second, it would be true. In my opinion, of course!

    After reading these posts I, who was born the year before the ban was lifted, have been tearing up as I watch our black deacon pass the sacrament. I’m not sure if it’s joy at the ban being lifted, or despair that he ever would have had to sit in the audience, excluded from his peers’ activities. Maybe both.

  13. I was baptized 3 months after the ban was lifted. Another boy, who was black, was baptized by his father. I realize now how momentous that might have been in my Rust Belt stake, but I never picked up on anything of the sort…

  14. The problem is_at it’s base_ Mormonism is Tribal. It has strong beliefs about it’s group, about Kinships, about Linage, about a/their God who blesses and cruses people.
    IMO, this is why it’s leadership took so long to act on the Priesthood Ban and it’s racism.

  15. StillConfused says:

    I am glad to see the responses being more polite and no personal attacks on Margaret this go around. I like that she gives historical perspective. as a Virginian, I don’t have the same point of reference as people who are from the intermountain west

  16. If we believe the church is ultimately led by Jesus Christ then it follows that things came about according to His will. He could have intervened at anytime but waited until June 1978. Why? To my knowledge the Lord hasn’t answered that question. Do the scriptures provide insight into this issue?

    Consider Alma the older and those who started the church in their day. They repented and fled King Noah’s grasp only to be enslaved by Lamanites and Noah’s former priests. Why did the Lord allow that kind of “injustice”. The explanation is found in Mosiah 23:21.

    Church members of that day could have intellectualized, as we do today, to find answers. They could also have turned to the scriptures, criticized church leaders, left the church, started another church, etc.

    Note: my comments go into moderation at BCC because I use the scriptures.

  17. Re #3 “In these discussions, I have come to find only ONE way this restriction could have actually come from God. And that is simply that it had absolutely NOTHING to do with the worthiness of black LDS, but instead was a reflection on the worthiness of the NON-black LDS.”

    Why bother trying to invent a God-given reason of any kind? Let’s make a comparison. Would you say that it is God’s will that a physically abusive mother harm her child on a daily basis, because the mother is unworthy of being told by God to stop, and that the health and well being of the abused child is irrelevant? What if she continually tells her child that she’s only doing it for the child’s own good, and that she’s merely carrying out God’s will? Yes, that will stand as a testimony against the abused mother, but would you really want to go so far as to say that God wanted her to abuse her child just so the mother could face legitimate condemnation at judgment day, with evidence to prove how bad she was?

    Perhaps it is God’s will that we are given the freedom to be as saintly or as devilish as we wish, without God’s intervention, but I certainly hope that God doesn’t approve of abusive relationships and callously disregard the well-being of the abused. We don’t need to invent reasons like that to explain the abuses in the world.

  18. Typo correction: “that will stand as a testimony against the abusive mother” (not abused mother)

  19. Daniel Smith says:

    I think your points on how the priesthood ban was different from the “Levite model” of priesthood exclusion are well thought out and do highlight flaws in that justification for the priesthood ban I do have a problem with the very idea of a “Levite model” of priesthood exclusion. While a particular tribe of Israelites at the time of Moses were given the responsibility to administer in the tabernacle, none of the other tribes were exclude from participating in the ordinances there. Exclusivity of administration of tabernacle ordinances is not a good indicator of priesthood exclusivity. Even during this period prophets were from a great many of the other tribes (and where often specifically calling the Levites to repentance!) This is plainly evident from the bible alone and should be sufficient to end the discussion of Levite priesthood exclusivity in any Christian denomination. The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants confirm this and expand on it beyond Israel and even Abraham. The Nephite priesthood is admittedly not from Levi. While the bible only alludes to it, D&C makes clear that the priesthood that Moses held was given to him by Jethro, his father-in-law, a Midianite (non-Israelite tribe descended from Abraham.) Jethro held that priesthood not though his lineage back to Abraham but though a line that is only attested to in the D&C. That line goes back to a contemporary of Abraham , Esaias, who strangely received the priesthood directly from God even though a living priesthood holder was available to confer it. The priesthood the Levites administered was had though a non-Israelite non-Abrahamic line. Even the claims of patriarchal exclusivity (a line going back to the fathers as Abraham claimed) are dashed by Esaias receiving the priesthood directly from God while the presumptive presiding priesthood holder was available to confer it.

  20. #17: Paul,
    If you believe God personally gave Man the Ten commandments__was that not an intervention?

  21. retaining faith that God can give us beauty for ashes and can weave our tragedies into holy mantles—which we desire ALL to receive–we will become a better people


    KerbearRN — which I’ve said in the past. I can think of other reasons as well, but that one sure looks to be the most attractive.

  22. Gary, “It does appear that God has restricted the granting of the Priesthood and even the preaching of the Gospel based purely on lineage or upon one’s gender.” — surely you don’t mean to say that Christ when he was in his mortal ministry went to the Jews first and then the Gentiles? That would invalidate Paul Bohman’s point above. Surely Acts is mistaken when it relates Peter’s vision that led to the gospel being taught to the Gentiles. It had been taught that way all along.

    Or perhaps not. Perhaps you are right. Too bad other people don’t think there is any logic in that.

    Ah well.

  23. I hope our theology has room for the possibility that historically, different tribes of priestly types reigned over different geological areas. The Mushites were from northern Israel and were probably descendants of Moses, reigning over the cult center of Shiloh. The Levites subsumed the role of the Jebusite priests at the cult center of Jerusalem, conspiring around the time of Hilkiah to establish their cult across all of Israel, semi-succeeding (through documentary propaganda) and becoming normative after the return from Babylon.

    Also, room for the possibility that the author of Acts intentionally confuses the roles of Peter and Paul, whereas the impression one gets upon reading Galatians 2 is that indeed, #22, Acts is mistaken. However, mistaken in ways that don’t necessarily nullify your point.

  24. “During the first 15 years of church organization, blacks were ordained to the priesthood. The posted temple rules talked about admitting black Africans. Baptisms for the dead were performed by black African-Americans.”

    There were a lot of things that happened the first 15 years of the Church under the direction of Joseph Smith that were later changed as further light and knowledge were revealed. For example, men used to baptize women for the dead and, in the earliest days, no records of baptisms for the dead were kept.

    I say this not in support of the ban or as an attempt to justify or offer reasons for it. I am happy to say with the brethren that I don’t know. Rather, I point this out as a caution to those who are vigorously trying to held the old guard of the church bring their views in line with the recent statements of the brethren. We need to be careful not to make the same mistake that those supporting the ban made for years, i.e. relying on bad history or scriptural analysis in support of our position.

    We should not propagate intellectually weak reasons as to why the ban could not have been divinely inspired. There is no need to do this. It is enough to say that we don’t know. There is no need to engage in our own flimsly apologetics to support the fact that we really don’t know. In short, we are on solid ground and do not need to dillute the merits of our position with bad history. Stating that because Joseph did something it had to be divinely authorized for all time is just that sort of bad history.

  25. I really appreciate this installment. People can cling to the Levite theory without feeling very racist. I have used it in the past. it’s very helpful to take a logical look at it.

    Today I taught gospel principles about the priesthood. I covered the basics…then spoke about women and the prieshtood and the ban.

    I didn’t spend a long time on either subject but since the three recent converts sitting in the room were single women of three different nationalities…I did want to cover the ground. I quoted the recent church statement. I like it.

    After the lesson a ward missionary who sometimes brings up high priesthood speculative comments asked me very pointedly if I was saying the priesthood ban is not of God? I repeated the church statement. He asked specifically about the Cain thing. we went rounds. we talked about prophets being ready to receive and line upon line and such like…but emphasizing the importance of not assuming there is a reason because God is not a respector of persons. I’m very glad he brought it up afterwards and not during the lesson.

    I really don’t like the wihte people weren’t ready thing. I understand there are consequences because of others’ idiocy, I just don’t want to assume God would allow so very very many people to be denied blessings because of the sins of others. It is thought provoking to think that the “God will not allow the prophet to lead us astray” thing to include a time span opt out of 150 years. that’s painfully long.

  26. It is possible that Joseph Smith made a mistake in ordaining blacks? Maybe it was. Just wondering what anybody thinks. I mean, he made a mistake before with entrusting the 116 pages to M. Harris. (referring to #24).

    @#25 To us, 150 years seems like a long time. Would it seem like that long to God? I like to think that God gives more than ample time for people to change/things to work out before intervening. I mean, let’s not forget that the OD2 came as a revelation. Those who were there testified it was.

  27. The ten commandments came as a revelation…it doesn’t mean murder was from God before than.

  28. then ugh.

  29. #26 – “It is possible that Joseph Smith made a mistake in ordaining blacks?”

    Maybe, but it would be a mistake that stands in opposition to everything else in our canonized scriptures – whereas the ban being a mistake is perfectly consistent with everything else in our canonized scriptures. Given that reality, it makes much more sense to see the ban as the mistake than it does to see the ordinations as the mistake. It really isn’t even close, frankly.

    Also, don’t you think it’s more than just a little ironic that those who argue the most strenuously for the ban are the same people who generally rely on “history” to do so – but that they have to ignore history as it actually happened, including Joseph’s ordinations, to justify it?

  30. It seems that some still believe that God denied the priesthood to blacks because white members weren’t ready to see blacks on equal standing. But why would God care more about keeping a few racist white members in the faith than fully inviting millions of black members into the faith?

    It’s easier for me to believe that white members (not God) denied the priesthood to blacks because they (the white members) weren’t ready to see blacks on equal standing. All that remains is to understand why God let us do this for so long. I can stomach speculation on that topic.

  31. I wrote the following post two years ago about the same concept described in the last paragraph in #30:

    “A Lesson from the Priesthood Ban: Pruning Our Modern Trees”

  32. KerbearRN @ 3:

    I think the only problem with the explanation that white members weren’t spiritually prepared to accept black members as equals is that it implies that God would “punish” the victims by keeping them out of the Church and reward the perpetrators by letting them remain. This problem is not intractable, but it requires taking a much more dialectical approach toward the gospel and the Church than most of us are used to. One has to believe (a) that God doesn’t mind allowing the innocent to suffer and the guilty to prosper, even in his own church, if it will accomplish a greater purpose; or (b) that perhaps that the Church is just one tool among many to advance the Plan of Happiness, and that God calls some to enter and others to exit for their own good and the good of the Kingdom.

  33. Re Bob #20 “If you believe God personally gave Man the Ten commandments__was that not an intervention?”

    I’m not sure what the point of your question is. Are you wondering whether I believe in the 10 commandments, or whether I believe they were given by intervention from God, or are you saying that the 10 commandments are proof that God already did intervene to condemn the actions of the hypothetical abusive parent example in my comment?

    Regardless of what your point was in asking the question, I’ll just make a general statement that seems abundantly clear to me (though I realize others will dispute my contention): God rarely, if ever, intervenes directly to stop the injustices and pain caused by humans acting against other humans. Genocide, war, child abuse, torture, and cruelty of all kinds have been around since the beginning of recorded time, and probably earlier. Similarly, God doesn’t seem to have intervened much to stop systematic injustices against women, against subjugated political groups, against racial minorities, or any other broad-based inequalities in societies since the dawn of time. Those human-caused injustices are an integral part of the human story, and it seems that they always will be. God did not cause them. God did not prevent them. God really doesn’t show up on the stage much at all in the drama of life.

    At most, I can accept that God speaks to our hearts and souls in subtle ways (i.e. we all have a moral conscience) to encourage us to make good, moral decisions. We’re free to ignore our conscience, and we frequently do, both at the personal level, and at the institutional level. God doesn’t stop us from doing that. He doesn’t incapacitate child abusers to stop abuse. He doesn’t kill mass murderers to stop or prevent the carnage. He doesn’t send proclamations from heaven saying that women have the same right to education as men.

    God is about as non-interventionist as such a being could possibly be. If we define our conscience as the voice of God, then it is possible to talk about God intervening in lives (or at least trying to intervene, and perhaps failing when we don’t pay attention to our consciences). But the hand of God looks remarkably human, because it is only through humans that God acts at all, at least when it comes to fixing injustices in this world.

    With this line of thinking, it’s easy for me to see the priesthood/temple ban as nothing more than the decisions of humans acting within the confines of their limited understanding, and not being in tune to the negative moral consequences of their own racial blindness. God didn’t stop church leaders from thinking or acting this way, because that’s not God’s pattern. He doesn’t intervene to stop people from making bad or harmful mistakes. And the priesthood/temple ban was a bad and harmful mistake, in my opinion. These were just men acting human, and God has always let people do that, for better or for worse.

  34. Nice analysis and comments. What they said. I’m reminded of Richard Bushman’s purported statement that the LDS penchant for building a history based on a comfortable mythology of infallibility among its leaders is like telling church history on credit cards. There will be a reckoning if we don’t reconcile people’s mythology to history. I don’t think a fear of people’s testimonies shaking is sufficient to excuse ourselves from gently directing people who have been caught in these racist explanations to rationally reconsider. A recent conversation in which someone was shaken and offended that I might even gently suggest that prophets make mistakes in important things (they can be people but they “will never be allowed to lead the church astray”) has opened my eyes to the absolutely essential need to keep speaking about this – not in offensive terms, but “line upon line” helping people understand – or we will have a shaky people in a shaky time.

  35. I have heard a number of people express an opinion, similar to # 7 above, that the ban wasn’t lifted sooner because “white people weren’t ready to have blacks in leadership positions. Mormon or not, everyone was racist. How would people have felt in the racist era of the past to be led by a black bishop or stake president?


    With respect, I just don’t buy this argument. I lived in the so-called “racist era.” I was saddened by the priesthood ban and could not understand why it existed. I didn’t buy into the explanations that were given, though I remained a faithful member. I know there were hundreds of thousands of members like me who would have joyfully welcomed a revelation lifting the ban long before it finally came.

    I’m positive that had the brethren proclaimed in 1960 that the priesthood ban would be lifted, most of the Church would have been fine with it. Indeed, I think that would have been the case at any time in our history, including in nineteenth century Utah. We are, after all, a people who “follow the prophet.” If there were those with such racist feelings that they wouldn’t have accepted such a revelation, then let them leave the Church. We would have been better off having them gone than having people leave the Church (or never join it) because they didn’t want to be a part of a racist religion.

    We look to our leaders to provide inspired guidance. I think they failed us in this case. Yes, it was eventually rectified, but, in my opinion, not nearly soon enough. That is why an apology is in order. We need to get rid of these last vestiges of “folklore” surrounding the ban.

  36. #33:Paul Bohman,
    The point of the question is:
    How can you read the OT and say “God does not intervene?
    How can you read the NT (think Christ and the Atonement) that God does not intervene?
    How can you read of JS, and not believe God intervenes?

  37. Bob, I’m not totally discounting that God might intervene. I am saying, though, that if he does, it’s a mighty rare event, at least in the sense of direct intervention. How many Jews pleaded with God to end Hitler’s brutality? Thousands. And I’m sure those prayers were sincere and worthy of being answered. But God did not directly intervene. He didn’t come down from heaven and personally do anything.

    Humans waged war and eventually humans defeated Hitler’s army. God did not spare the Jews, nor did he spare the lives of the soldiers and civilians who paid the ultimate price for Hitler’s selfish immorality. God lets humans be evil and declines to intervene personally, either because he doesn’t want to or because he can’t.

    On the other hand, I think it’s very possible that the people involved in the war felt their consciences at work during all of these events. I’m willing to believe that God influenced that aspect of things, and in that sense you could say there was some intervention, but God clearly left the actions in the hands of the people. Whatever influence God may have wielded was subtle and “behind the scenes,” so to speak. This is the rule. There may well be exceptions, but if there are exceptions, they are rare.

    God “allowed” the priesthood/temple ban to persist because that’s God’s normal mode of operation. This should be easy to accept for Mormons. After all, Mormons claim that the whole purpose of life would have been frustrated if we didn’t have full moral agency (that was the premise of the premortal “war in heaven,” right?).

    So I’ll turn your questions around and ask:

    How can you watch the news and say “God intervenes?”

    God pretty much lets us be as foolish and as evil as we want, even if there are victims to our crimes. God even lets church leaders make fundamentally flawed decisions and lets them believe they know God’s will about a topic when it is really their own minds and experiences that have led them to believe as they do. That, in my view, is all there is to explain about the priesthood/temple ban. Men did it. Not God.

  38. Love the series. You must be doing something right because you’ve got R. Gary all but accusing you of apostasy. I post this here and not on this site because he doesn’t play fair with his comment moderation, but it’s nice to hear people offering constructive, faith-promoting criticisms without resorting to either vitriol or deliberate and dishonest appeals to contradictory authorities.

  39. Ray, you’ve said a lot of profound things.

    And again, Margaret Blair Young — thank you.

  40. Margaret, you are treasure. I’m so glad you are shedding light on this issue that has damaged so many people. Well done and keep it up.

  41. # 17 &18 Paul Bohman Says:
    March 18, 2012 at 9:45 am
    Typo correction: “that will stand as a testimony against the abusive mother” (not abused mother)

    Actually, “abused mother” might be more accurate, given the statistics we have of abusive relationships begetting abusive relationships. This in no way condones the act of abuse (be it physical or racial), it simply highlights the folly of assigning initial fault to a specific person or event. Who knows which ring of the ripple effect is in play here? As much as we want to call foul and demand justice for abuse, we need to remember that Christ is the ONLY one who can make that call. As Margaret said in her prior Part 2 post: “Ultimately, the atonement equalizes us all, and we are left with the challenges of our mortal conditions and our communities.” Indeed, this classroom called earth is a laboratory of learning. It’s where we get to “go beyond the cozy borders of our first homes and . . .the easy designs of our self-arranged plot lines.” Yes, discarding an “antiquated paradigm” can be difficult, even painful, but growth seldom if ever occurs without some degree of pain.

    I too believe in “the union of faith and scholarship” and “in education magnified by Heavenly light,” as Margaret so beautifully stated. And is not education a process of learning from our mistakes?

  42. Well written article. I also fully agree with Paul Bohman’s line of reasoning. If there never was a revelation creating the restriction, we have to conclude it was instituted by leaders and members who were under the influence of the society in which they grew up, which was then and continues to be, to some degree, racist. The Gospel challenge is to overcome the world and the natural man. Hence, our burden is to follow the Savior, no matter who we are or where we find ourselves in the church hierarchy.

  43. A few people have talked about the lifting of the ban being 150 years late. I’d say it was more like twenty or thirty years late. If the church had given black members full status just a little ahead of the main civil rights movement in the US, the whole issue would have just disappeared into history. Just a few years head start would have made the church look progressive, forward looking, and–dare I say it–prophetic. That sort of time-frame would be compatible with the “whites weren’t ready” idea as well. As it is, that’s pretty weak sauce and the timing of the lifting of the ban utterly defies all explanation in my mind beyond that some of the members of the twelve simply could not let go of the past.

  44. Neal Kramer says:

    Can’t we just say that the entire Church in America was awash in a cultural discourse filled with racialist justifications for almost any denigration of an other? Protestant racist discourse spilled over into almost all other American Churches. Our missionaries ran into it wherever they served. They brought it back home, where it had already become ensconced in a culture trying to live up to Zion principles and failing miserably.

    We can’t lose the very cornerstone of all the folklore about race until we can admit that God did not instigate the policy and that race is a spiritually meaningless concept. God allows Mormons to make terrible mistakes, even at the church level. We build obstacles against our own best hopes and then learn how to repent.

    God weeps. But he also loves the sinners and forgives sincere repentance.

    Sometimes, however, God’s people must wait in the wilderness until generations pass. Certain old habits must die before we can truly carry out God’s charge that we take the fullness of the gospel to the whole world. But others who come after us will make it happen. This is not bad; in fact, it seems to be the character of the Lord’s testing of institutions that bear His name.

  45. Sometimes, however, God’s people must wait in the wilderness until generations pass that is a nice use of the story of Moses and Israel in the wilderness.

  46. I really appreciate this series. I had a discussion about this issue with some of my in laws, a few who haveheld positions of high authority in the church and I was amazed at how much they still clung to the folklore. I think sooner of later each Latter-day Saint will have to come to their own reckoning over the ban. I have and I believe the only logical reason for it is the racism of the church’s leaders in Utah and then a “covering of the tracks” by later leaders who wanted to give some kind of justification to a racist policy. What does it mean? It means we are led by imperfect men who at times have flaws, especially when they do not heed the words of Christ and instead give justification to their own biases, prejudices and agendas. It’s been that way since the beginning (The Lost Manuscript and the Kirtland Banking Fiasco to name a few).

  47. Sorry for the typos, I should do this on my iPhone.

  48. Shouldn’t, gee whiz!

  49. I don’t agree the Mormons and their leaders were “Just reflecting their Times”. There was a long history in America of Anti-Anti Black. The Civil War, Civil rights movements, etc. The Church could have picked another way, but didn’t.

  50. Thanks for the comments. Some really compelling thoughts. It’s especially for me to see my cousin’s name in the comment section. I admire her so much.

  51. I still like the “whites/The Church weren’t ready” approach. Perhaps another post can be made on this later. The thing is, this can be applied to a lot of Gods interventions on our collective behalf. Why wasn’t the Restoration sooner? Why weren’t the Israelites led out of Egypt sooner? Why didn’t Christ come sooner? We can certainly try to come up with various cultural explanations (which get easier the closer to us in time they are), but -all- of them are pure speculation, since God has not explained it Him(Her)self.

  52. Jacob H. says:

    #51 Frank, I think your thoughts lead to an interesting philosophical question about God’s goodness and free will. Some have argued that God is perfectly good and therefore His(Her) actions are always the best possible, however we define “best”. Then we’re stuck explaining how this world we’re in is the “best possible”. Maybe God’s choices inevitably lead to some evil in behalf of a “greater good”. Maybe (S)He values things like man’s ability to learn from his own actions. Perhaps, because of the innumerable worlds (S)He’s created and His(Her) living in linear time like us, it just takes a while to get around to fixing problems. Maybe there’s no such thing as “best possible”, but rather in God’s perspective, the actions are neutral, or there’s always a better choice and the line has to be drawn somewhere. Maybe God is free to act or do nothing at all because life on earth is set up such that His(Her) will inevitably come to pass (through cultural (r)evolution!). There are interesting avenues to go down, but -all- of them are pure speculation. Which is why a human explanation that doesn’t rely on philosophy is so much more attractive, IMO. It certainly cuts closer to the truth than finding a convenient explanation that God hasn’t personally ratified, and has the added benefit that one doesn’t have to be a part of our faith tradition to understand and accept it.

  53. rameumptom says:

    Bob, but even with the movements of anti-anti Blacks, historically there was still racism. The abolitionists wanted to free slaves, but did not want inter-marriage, for example. The Civil Rights partially came about because of decades of KKK, Jim Crow Laws, etc., that included struggles not only in the South, but up north, as well. I think we can learn a lot about this by reading Edward Kimball’s article on his father’s receiving the revelation in BYU Studies.

    I personally think that the whites in Mormonism and America were not ready for it. God delays many blessings, simply because the people will not receive it. Example: D&C 84:19-26 shows Moses trying to take Israel up Sinai to see God. They refuse, and so God removes the MP from them, leaving them with the AP, instead. Here is a clear issue of people losing blessings (and priesthood), due to disobedience and rebellion. I can see the Lord withholding the great blessings that would have come to the LDS church had they humbly embraced blacks in BY’s day. Imagine the thousands that would have joined the Church in the South, Africa and elsewhere a century ago. Perhaps our church numbers would have been double or more from what they are now, had we been humble enough and not stubborn about defending an old wives’ tale built upon protestant racism.

  54. Robert Hutton says:

    My African American friends in a largely African American and Hispanic community only know this. They were taught the Gospel, The sought the Spirit, The continued to read the Book of Mormon and the Continued to ask of God. When GOD through the Holy Spirit, confirmed that THIS was HIS CHURCH and was named by HIS SON, they all chose to be baptized. The most recent African American convert is a young professional boxer, and last month he baptized his African American wife. IN and around that baptism, the children of FOUR African American families were baptized into the Church as their African American parents wept at the power of the Spirit which overcame them..
    One may seek to intellectualize over the Gospel, or m=one may an an ounce of faith and take it to God. Those who follow the latter are truly blessed.

    Take care.

    Elder Holland was honest about the elite education in our building yesterday. He told those elite youth, you are not here for an education, you are here to be schooled in CHURCH Organization. It is only in cities like ours where young men are called to bishops and have the opportunity to serve in the High Priest’s Quorum.

    Its not about being smart and educated. It is about learning to LOVE EVERYONE, regardless of their skin colour.

  55. Re #53 “I personally think that the whites in Mormonism and America were not ready for it. God delays many blessings, simply because the people will not receive it”

    That the “whites in Mormonism… weren’t ready for it” is pretty much beyond dispute. The problem with pointing that out, though, is that the whites already had the blessings of the temple and priesthood. Nothing was being withheld from them.* That’s one of the reasons why the comparison between Moses’s Israelites in the desert and Mormonism’s racial ban doesn’t cut it. It’s not a parallel comparison.

    Something is not quite right about saying: “We whites weren’t ready for you blacks to receive the blessings that we whites already enjoy, so God withheld those blessings from you blacks, while we whites enjoyed all the blessings, until we whites were ready to concede that it’s ok for you blacks to have those blessings too. God is so merciful and wise to wait for us whites to get a clue before treating you blacks fairly.”

    * (well, except from white women, but that’s a separate issue)

  56. rameumptom says:

    #55, you missed my point. The whites that caused the ban will lose blessings for such attitudes. Just as the Pharisees kept others from entering heaven (temporarily anyway) and condemned by Jesus, so I expect many will be condemned for keeping blacks from receiving all the blessings. (Is that a better analogy?).
    Even today, Pres Hinckley has warned that any PH who acts on racist attitudes are not worthy of their priesthood. Should that possibly not also apply to earlier PH holders who used racism as an excuse? I wonder what blessings were or will be withheld from them for such racism? Perhaps they will have to endure the buffetings of Satan in the Spirit World for a time, until they are purified of such racist thoughts, prior to receiving a kingdom of glory? I would suspect that to be a strong possibility, for I do not believe a racist has a place in the Celestial Kingdom. A reformed/former racist may have place there, but only if he has truly changed his heart and repented of such.

  57. Robert Hutton says:

    I understand that racist people are unworthy but so too are ordinary sinners in any other situation. The main problem I have with this issue is that people outwith the Church do not understand the principle of revelation. The fact of the matter is that the prophets had sought divine light on the issue. Remember that some African nations were begging for the gospel. Some true believers had already formed a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Africa yet the missionaries were not allowed in there. My personal study of this issue is that this was a time issue.

    I am fortunate to come from a community where white on black racism (forgive the terminology – that is how we saw it) did not really exist. Why, because there were no blacks working the coal mines of Central Scotland. The racism came later and not against the Africans, but by intolerants who took offense at Asians (To us that means Indians and Pakistanis.) In my work I met them daily and even have a relationship with some that I am considered “FAMILY.” Yes, some idiots were shockers, but that was the state of the problem. So it has been easy for me to be astonished at the concern in this country.

    The only time I hear the “n” word is when the minorities are fighting one and another or hurling abuse at ME, and I am white. When I smile they seem to get angrier.

    In all honesty, my outlook is one of respect, and in most cases I get it right back. Some close to me, worry that I do not fear the differences. I see none.

    What I love about the Church is that I have never seen racism.

    However, my wife lived in the deep south, and in 1978, the long term members DID have a problem understanding, what was going on. Sadly, its not like drinking tea of coffee, and prejudice can be much more addictive. Yet we believe in a living church. The Church was not “dragged into the 20th century over this. The Lord said, NOW is the HOUR. I have prayed about this, as one does when one converts to the TRUTH, and the Spirit has taught me that this was a revelation. I am humble enough to believe God. I just wish that the educated social reformers would perform the experiment on the word. It IS a scientific experiment.

    The whole Church was not ready for the Law of Consecration, that is why we have the Church Welfare System. The Lord does not apologise for His revelations. Its simply up to US the faithful to follow the Prophet or fall into apostasy. You see on all issues, I see things in Black and White. Its right or its wrong. That does not make me perfect, but it makes me aware that I am in rebellion against the Lord on some matters which have not been repented off.

    My ward has Africans and African Americans. We have hispanics from almost every South American nation. We have Europeans and have had Russians and since we are an elite college city, we have many who arrived from the East or many who came here due to Far East missionaries.

    The Race Issue would go away if people knew what God said about race.

    My music producer cannot understand why a little Scotsman can be best friends with a Dreadlocked Jehovah’s Witness who is very dark. This is my response.

    There is neither Greek nor Jew, bond or free. THat’s how MY GOD TAUGHT IT TO ME, and by the way IN Scotland my Scots Irish R.C. roots had me as the minority. When you have lived in a hate filled climate, you learn to hate no-one and understand why the LORD knows best.

    I talk too much, but, I simply trust the Lord and as a social science graduate, I care little for the pseudo sciences.

    God never hated the non white world. But many if the non white world were not close to God as revelation teaches. But I come from a place where missionaries took THEIR Gospel to those non white nations, and they went all tangential around NIcea, and got lost in the mists of darkness. Once the faith filled non whites learned and felt HIS POWER to reveal, it changed them, just as it changed me. It should change everyone, unless they are holding on to baggage the should have dumped at the waters of baptism. The Non whites are entering the waters of baptism faster than the white educated Americans.

    Glory to God on high.

    But we are all at different places on the learning curve. Its unwise to make an enemy of your friend. Let the spirit take the time to convince him/her, and teach each class by the spirit.

  58. Sorry for missing your point, rameumptom. As to what kind of judgment will befall past church leaders who failed to see the racism in the church’s policies, I have no thoughts about that whatsoever, because that’s way beyond the realm of what I can know.

    Despite being adamant in my claim that God did not institute the temple/priesthood ban, I am (believe it or not) somewhat sympathetic to the plight of the people who did nothing to change it — not because I condone or justify it, but because apparently they honestly didn’t know any better, at least at first.

    They were blinded by the prejudices of their times, and they lacked prophetic vision on that issue. Once the issue came to their attention in more than just abstract ways — which appears to have happened most notably during the tenure of President McKay — they began to realize the nature of the problem, but still lacked the prophetic vision or moral clarity to actually fix the problem, and they didn’t feel they had a clear directive from God to change things, do they didn’t. In other words, these church leaders were totally and completely human. That’s forgivable on a personal level.

    At the same time, that kind of completely human weakness on such an important moral issue by men who claim to be directly under the supervision of Jesus Christ is unequivocally a disastrous institutional blunder, in my opinion, and weakens the legitimacy of the whole notion that these men are prophets in any meaningful sense. A person isn’t a prophet because of an inherited bureaucratic title. A person becomes a prophet by living and acting like a prophet, foreseeing important moral issues and calling others to action on those issues. On the specific issue of the temple/priesthood ban, the men leading the church were profoundly unprophetic, and they led the church members astray.

    It’s completely forgivable, but it was still wrong.

  59. Robert Hutton says:

    Paul Bohman,

    The prophet speaks, it is the duty of the people to listen. There is no racism in the Church or the doctrine. The problem outside the Restoration is that NO-ONE believes in living prophets and apostles. No_ONE believes that they are literally created in God’s likeness and that they are like God and God is like them.

    The revelation to me, especially on President McKay is sufficient, to know that those who attack him, would similarly have attacked Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. Those who delight in the killing of Joseph and Hyrum Smith would delight in the stoning of Stephen, whose only crime was to declare that he saw Jesus Christ in the heavens at the right hand of God, just the same as Joseph Smith saw them in upstate New York at Palmyra.

    There are millions of non white members, and they have a testimony, from the Holy Ghost, that the Church is true, that Joseph Smith, the murdered prophet, is and was a living prophet and that every subsequent prophet is a PROPHET of GOD.

    Racism is false. It may well exist in the unconverted heart of the individual church member, but it is not a doctrine of the Restored Church. Nor has it ever been. Everything in the Lord’s own time.

    Research what Joseph Smith gave to the African American family, especially the husband who walked from Connecticut to be with the saints. He took them into his home, gave the husband and father his coat, a horse, and had a home built for them. Yes my brother outside the Church, that is the action of a racist. Living in CT. that makes my heart smile.

    Take care.

  60. rameumptom says:

    Robert #59,

    But there is/was racism in the Church. Even after the 1978 revelation, when I was in the Montgomery Alabama stake mission presidency, and we felt it was time to start preaching the gospel to the black people (1987), we had a lot of push back by members. When members tell you they don’t like the idea of a black woman teaching kids in Primary (even when the white member has no primary kids), there is no way to say it isn’t racism. 15 years later, as stake clerk, I sat in on meetings with the stake presidency, where we still were dealing with racist attitudes in some of the stake branches.

    There are still many members who are against inter-racial marriages in the Church. Is that not racist?

    So, racism does exist in the Church, even to this day. That said, we are not the only religion or people with racist tendencies still in it. I saw more segregation in other christian churches in the South than I did in ours. The LDS concept of people attending in their own area, forced us to adapt to having blacks and whites worshiping together. But in many evangelical/Protestant churches, they are still separated out primarily by race. I know exactly which churches in Montgomery are primarily black, and which are primarily white.

    Paul #58, I tend to agree with you. I realize all the prophets are mortals that are a product of their experiences and environment. It wasn’t easy for Pres Kimball to move forward, except that his life experiences drove him in a different way than Mark Peterson or Joseph Fielding Smith. That said, I believe it was the general attitude of church members that prevented David O. McKay from receiving the priesthood revelation in his day. As a people, we were not ready. And we used any excuse we could to justify the ban, such as the curse of Cain, etc. So, I do not think the prophets necessarily led us astray, but they told us what we wanted to hear.

  61. #59 – Robert, I’ve helped house and raise some black youth. There weren’t a whole lot of racism in the Church where I lived (in fact, there wasn’t much), but there was racism – and that was less than ten years ago.

    If you want some personal perspective, read the following:

    “We Must Eradicate Even Subtly Racist Messages”

  62. Oh, and Robert, one of my black sons was told **in church** by another teenage boy that he was descended from monkeys.

    “Racism is false.” Hogwash.

  63. “One of my black sons was told **in church** by another teenage boy that he was descended from monkeys.”

    I taught high school biology and told all of my students pretty much the same thing.

    Of course it becomes a problem when the teenager saying it is too stupid to realize that it applies to him just as much as the black kid he’s saying it to.

  64. #63 – Last sentence: Exactly.

  65. Paul Bohman says:

    Re #59. I’m not arguing that people don’t have testimonies of the church in spite of the church’s contribution to racism, but I’m sorry: the church definitely contributed to racism, and a large part of this contribution came from the very top.

    #60 “they [the prophets] told us what we wanted to hear.”

    I don’t know. That sounds more like the tactic of a politician in the primary season than it does the role of a prophet of God. I want prophets to tell me the truth whether I “want” to hear it or not. That’s the only way I can trust the title of “prophet, seer, and revelator” to mean anything at all. Otherwise those just become empty words, not worth believing in, not worth sustaining, and not worth sacrificing for.

    Re: #62. Sorry to hear that, Ray. And I’m also sorry for coming across too stridently for your taste in previous discussions.

    #63 “…descended from monkeys”

    I understand your point, and the intention behind your point is accurate, but I’d like to state it with a little more biological accuracy. No human descended from monkeys as we know them today, as I’m sure you know, if you teach biology. Humans and monkeys both descended from a common non-human, non-monkey set of ancestors. It’s an important distinction, and a common point of misunderstanding on the whole topic of evolution.

  66. Hence the “pretty much the same thing” instead of “same thing.” I guess I should have added the disclaimer too, but I didn’t feel like a bio lesson.

  67. rameumptom says:

    Alma 29:8 states that the Lord reveals to all nations and people the amount of truth they are ready to hear. In a nation of slavery and racism, the Lord allowed the Southern Baptists to break from the American Baptists in 1840, believing the curse of Cain concept justified slavery. They refused to accept the higher truth, and so will be judged according to the light they accepted, but also by the light they rejected.

    So it is with all of us. The Lord allowed a ban, probably established without any clear revelation, but based upon the philosophy of man mingled with scripture, because they were not ready for the higher truth.

    The Jews received the Mosaic Law, because they were not ready nor interested in receiving the greater light and truth. So, they continued with blessings withheld from them. And the Church today probably still does not have all the truth and light we could have, simply because we are not ready to receive it. As a Church, we are not living Consecration. Therefore, we are missing out on huge blessings, as described in 4 Nephi of those who had all things in common. We are still a contentious people, and so lose out on huge blessings of unity and brotherhood.

    For those members who did not heed President Hinckley’s financial warnings in 1998, they suffered in 2008 with the crash. Why should we look at this issue any differently than we do? Many prophets wished to end the ban, but were not given the okay by the Lord, simply because the members were not willing to receive it before 1978.

  68. Robert Hutton says:

    Margaret, The RACISM is INDIVIDUAL, not part of the CHURCH. Individual apostasy and individual repentance is the key here. The Prophets have stated Clearly that such criminal behaviour is unacceptable.

    TJHe Church leaders teach about this subject regularly, and every new convert has to learn and overcome their prejudice.

    I repeat. MY wife joined the Church in The Dallas Texas area and the good old boys might have had a very hard time with the Priesthood change in 1978. The key to all of our salvation is “FOLLOW THE PROPHET.” Those who procrastinate the day of their repentance might be caught well short, and pass beyond the veil before they have prepared themselves to meet the Judge.

    Do not intellectualize over the issue.
    Commit to living obediently.
    Stand up for TRUTH and openness.

    Where I am it is the African American and the Hispanic who are joining an inner city Church.

    WE show them LOVE without racism.
    They feel the Spirit of Conversion. We are blessed for our faithfulness.
    Many who complain about racism engage in Racism themselves.

    Think of THE BLACK CHURCH.
    They exclude the Whites.
    Jesus Christ laid down a UNIFIED CHURCH and HE SAID, “If ye are not one, ye are not mine.”

    Too often the cart is put in front of the horse.
    Try pushing said card with your nose.

    My personal insight comes from working in the mental health field in an African American Company with a client base, which in my experience, was largely from the non white needy people. I know the problems. I understand the problem. I lost one job because I was called “WHITE BOAY” by my client, who spent many hours wiping his finger down his face and telling me that I was not like him. He could not get rid of me as I worked according to the rules. He finally swiped at me with a snow shovel and I was taken off the work schedule. The same client attacked almost every staff member, 95% of whom were African American or Dark Skinned Hispanic. They were all relocated. I was tossed out like a used rag.

    That does not cause me to have a different view of the non white culture, I started here as a substitute teacher and had the race card played against me on a daily basis as a group of people who refused to learn, played games with the sub. You all know how that works, many have done it themselves.

    My position is that I do NOT judge by colour. I do not judge by creed. I love those I meet, and forgive those who despitefully use me.

    The Lord’s Church is NOT RACIST, and it is a waste of time chatting to people who will not listen.

    THAT is why we are taught top simply bear testimony instead of trying to intellectualize with people, who do not understand how God works, who God is, or What God is.

    Take care.

  69. I think this is a pretty thorough discussion. I am grateful that President Hinckley addressed the Church in 2006 so powerfully in condemning racism and instructing us that no one who maintains racist feelings can consider himself/herself in harmony with the teachings of Jesus Christ, and should repent. (Of course, the key is RECOGNIZING our own racism. Part of our growth must be in abandoning the false beliefs which upheld the restriction.) I am also grateful for the two Church statements which came after Professor Bott’s racist quotes in the Washington Post, which go further than any Church statement on the subject heretofore made. In his blog, Professor Bott relates the story of a black man who asks why he is prejudiced. He responds, “I didn’t know I was.” That is a call to responsibility for us all. Are we in any way justifying ourselves by continuing to hold on to false traditions? Are we holding on to remnants of beliefs which divide us from our brothers and sisters? If so, we need to take President Hinckley’s call to repentance personally and seriously.

  70. #68 – Robert, nobody here (and I mean nobody) is claiming that there is institutional racism in the current LDS Church. Seriously, it’s not being said here. We’re talking about racism in and of the LDS Church in the past – that the ban itself actually was racist and, therefore, using the language of the latest press release, the LDS Church has condemned it. (since the press release said, “We condemn racism” – with the only additional qualifier being “including” that of individuals past and present)

    R.Gary argues that the press release doesn’t condemn the ban – that it ONLY condemns individual racism. However, when you parse strictly what the press release says, without any pre-conceived ideas of what it “should” say, it’s clear that the Church condemned racism, period – and “including” (as a sub-set) is very, very different than “only” or “specifically”. If the ban itself was racist, the ban itself was condemned in the press release.

    That’s what I and many others are saying – that the LDS Church’s own press release, as worded, condemns all racism, and that the ban itself was racist by every reasonable definition of that term. Denying the ban was racist and, therefore, denying the press release condemned it . . . that’s something, as Margaret and others have said, that we have to highlight and address head-on, imo. It’s not enough to stick with the former statements decrying only the justifications; with this press release, we need to take the obvious next step and admit the ban itself is condemnable. We’ve received “further light and knowledge” (that I hope is repeated from the pulpit, but that’s not my call), so, as you said, we need to accept it and move forward.

  71. Robert Hutton says:

    Great comment, but you will not find anywhere in LDS doctrine that any man woman or child was descended for MONKEYS. That is the kind of false doctrine that can ONLY come from an IMBECILE.

    Man is descended for Adam and Eve. That is ALL MANKIND. Male and female created he them. The Father created men in Spirit, and Jesus Christ created their human bodies.

    There are more people in Yale University, Harvard, Brown and Princeton who would suggest that that in the LDS Church.

    My own son made a shameful remark once to a beautiful young African American who “liked him”.

    His statement came from HIM, and had neither authority nor sanction from the Church and it was contrary to all the Church teaches.

    The LORD’S Church is ALL INCLUSIVE.”

    IT IS NOT A WHITE CHURCH A BLACK CHURCH A YELLOW CHURCH, A RED CHURCH or a BROWN CHURCH. Jesus Christ’s mother is of Israelite origin. His church was sent first to the Jews and then to The Gentiles. His church is for everyone and silly people and smart people are free to join, as are people of all colours, creeds and hues and of both genders. BUT when a man, or woman is a member of any Church and makes a foolish statement on anything, he does so of his own volition.

    The sins of the fathers shall not be visited upon y=the Children, neither shall the sins pf the children be visited upon the fathers.

  72. Robert Hutton says:

    Paul, as a member of a stake presidency you will know that individual racism is not full blown racism from the Church. I have said my wife was in the Southern States in 1978and MANY members did not know how to deal with the problem they felt in their hearts.

    The point is the same.

    The Prophet spoke, therefore the Lord spoke.

    Sin permeates the hearts of all in the church. None of us has been translated. The Church is a hospital for the sick and afflicted in Spirit. Zion is for the pure in heart. Your sermons here should be in support of the calls from the Apostles, prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Priests, who have proscribed such ideology from the day of the Restoration.

    If there is ERROR in what I have written you may come back with the statement of where that error lies.

    May God bless you to do YOUR DUTY.

  73. Robert Hutton says:

    I suppose what Ray is saying is that the Prophets misled the Church. That is contrary to the Law of God and the Spirit of the Revelation given through the Holy Ghost to those who asked if the Scriptures are true.

    I am so glad we cleared that one up.

    God lives.
    Jesus is the Christ.
    The Holy Ghost is the Messenger.
    The Book of Mormon is True. Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon by the power of God through the Holy Ghost in less than 90 days.
    The priesthood has been restored at the hands of John the baptist, Peter James and John and since the restoration by men who have been called of God and authorized to the work.
    Said Restoration came as prophesied by the Apostles themselves as written in Acts.

    I retain a simple faith and I do not get caught up with the intelligentsia who feel God has empowered them to speak to the world on behalf of the Church.

    I leave this though with all who read it, in the Sacred name of Jesus Christ. The Exemplar in all things.

  74. Paul Bohman says:

    Re: #72 “Paul, as a member of a stake presidency you will know that..”

    Who me? I’ve held a long list of callings in the church, but never that one.

    Re ” If there is ERROR in what I have written you may come back with the statement of where that error lies.”

    The error (or “ERROR,” if you prefer all caps) in what you have written is that church leaders of the past have undeniably written or spoken racist sentiments against blacks. Have you never read any of those? Seriously? And if you have, are you defending them? Seriously?

    Is it God’s will that whites who marry blacks should be put to death? Do you believe that? Brigham Young did, and he taught this “doctrine” to the church:

    “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110). (Elsewhere in his talks he identifies blacks as the “seed of Cain.”)

    Do you believe that blacks are “uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind”? Brigham Young taught this to the church (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 290).

    That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Have fun sorting through the words of Bruce R. McConkie or a number of other church authorities. Now, I’m not saying that everything these men said was as racist as the above quotes, but come on. The above quotes are racist, and any attempt to deny it will only sound equally racist.

    Now, with all you’ve said, Robert, one of the things you seem to be trying to communicate is that the “real” gospel of Jesus Christ is not racist. Fair enough. I can buy into that. But you’re also saying that the church leaders never taught racist principles, and that’s simply false.

  75. Church statement: “The Church unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.”

    I believe that the “individuals” include Church leaders in the past.
    Robert, a testimony is a sacred thing, and there are appropriate places to share it. BCC is not one of them. When a testimony is used as the final word in positioning an argument and then is closed in the Savior’s name, the testifier has gone too far. You have a position, but don’t assume that only you are correct in your views, and definitely DO NOT invoke the Lord’s name. You are talking to other faithful Latter-day Saints, though you have chosen to categorize me as a sort of intellectual anarchist. You and i worship the same God. I will not tell you what callings I have or have had, as they aren’t your concern. Let your argument stand on its own without accusation and without making your testimony part of a blog comment.

  76. Robert Hutton says:

    My point is exactly that and it is TRUE.

    The GOSPEL of Jesus Christ is NOT RACIST.

    My testimony of the Church was gained in 1992. It has been added thereunto especially due to my friendships with people of all races. I hold no such views and coming from a multi racial ward, I can say that while my young son made a shameful comment, he did not get it from home and neither did he get it from the doctrines of the Church as distilled upon us by the Holy Ghost.

    I just entertained a group of elderly people, for over twenty nations.

    I would do that every day.

    Read the Book of Mormon and remember that the only person in the world that a man can save is himself.

    He may be a Saviour on Mount Zion, but no-one can cause me to repent but me, though the doctrines and the Spirit will encourage me.

    Have a good day.

    I repeat, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland told the elite kinds that they were not at this elite school for an education, but to learn GOVERNANCE in the Kingdom of God.

    This great and noble school is like unto the Great and Spacious Building and the ideologies therefrom cause the world to be covered by the mists of darkness.

    Leave the past behind and stop looking for trouble in others. Remove your own beam. Quickly before you spiritually blind yourselves for good.

    That is to all involved.

  77. Robert, nobody here is saying that the GOSPEL of Jesus Christ is racist – nobody. Please, slow down, re-read what we actually are saying, and respond to our actual words – not things we aren’t saying.

    If you want to calling drop, I can calling drop right along with you – but that’s not the point. We aren’t saying what your comments are attacking, so please take a breath and stop making invalid accusations.

    (Oh, and you are maligning people who are known personally to the leadersihp of this church when you malign people like Prof. Young. You probably don’t realize that, and it shouldn’t matter, but you ought to know it.)

  78. Dealing charitably with those who have cognitive difficulties is hard enough in person, much more so on the internet. Perhaps the best thing is to just say “thank you, Robert” and move on, rather than even try to address it.

  79. If we could put racism and obsevation in the same catagory I would go along with your discussion. Pres.Hinkley said in a talk that the religion of Islam is peaceful. How your feel about that and what is really true is up for discussion. Were the troops sitting in trenches in WWI racists? When the Pilgrims landed the (Indians) thought they were small and smelled and were week. In the Book of Mormon the Lamenites were given some harsh onsevation but were they Racists? The line of prejudging,racism and observation are left to the time and place of there occurance and maybe we should take a small walk in there footsteps before we pound our gavel of justice. There was a time in my life I was a real jerk but that is just my obsevation.

  80. RJG–good for you for progressing so far. I think most of us have been “real jerks” at some time in our lives–and most of us have a bit of jerkiness in our futures. The key is to recognize our own misbehavior (as you have), repent, and move forward. Keep pressing on!

  81. rameumptom says:

    Given that Robert gained his testimony in 1992, he may have missed the many years (esp prior to 1978) when many of us were part of that belief of racist thought. I remember reading President Alvin R Dyer’s explanation of the races under Noah’s 3 sons. He basically stated that the children of Ham were cursed because of their black skin. As a dutiful LDS, I accepted that at face value back then. Now, with the greater light, I realize that he was plain wrong, and used such assumptions to justify the priesthood ban. It would have been just as easy for church leaders back then to do as they now do: say they just do not know why there is a ban. Instead, many jumped on the bandwagon perpetuating a myth, while presenting it as doctrine. This does not make these men evil. It makes them wrong and racist in their own day. Fortunately, we all have the blessing of repentance.
    That the gospel itself is not racist is true. However, imagine the damage made by many church leaders who attempted to present such teachings as gospel doctrine.
    I am thankful the Church today is forcefully condemning any such racist notions as racism.
    Robert, I imagine you have never met Margaret, nor spoken much with her. Had you done so, you would find her to be a very faithful Latter-day Saint. As for callings, they do not mean anything, as a stake president can be excommunicated just as easily (or more easily) than a “regular” member for major sin.

  82. Robert Hutton says:

    The ONLY comment in such a forum is a TESTIMONY.

    The Church was set up with Perfect Standards
    The membership are human.

  83. Has a spambot gained sentience?

  84. I recently heard a beautiful, hard story from an older gentleman. At the end of 1977-very early 1978 he was called by the stake president to home teach a family not in his ward. It was a black family who’s bishop wasn’t allowing him to come to church and certainly wouldn’t ask others to home teach him. This man went with his companion (a stake 70?). They found the family. They were faithful and still believing…though they had had this experience before, the believed the church was true. They home taught for 5 or so months. One night on the way home they heard the announcement…he teared up at this point…they turned and drove back and told the family. There was all sorts of celebration.

    When the HT got home there was a message from the stake president to call immediately. He wanted to make sure the family knew about the announcement and he wanted to set up an appointment immediately to get them to the temple. Their bishop would not sign their recommend…so after a call to SLC the stake signed both parts of the recommend and the family was in the temple the saturday following the announcement.

    It was hard to hear about that kind of racism…but I’m so glad that stake president was there to intervene.

    This was arizona.

  85. I’m hoping next week at General Conference they will shed more light on this. It is a great opportunity to deal with this issue head-on and put this issue to bed already once and for all.

  86. rameumptom says:

    #84, I’m hoping that bishop either was given a chance repent, or released quickly from that calling. Once the Prophet gave the announcement, bishops everywhere should have been on board. Any bishops resisting, should have been quietly spoken to by their stake presidents on sustaining the 1st Presidency in this issue. For those still refusing, it would be time to prepare for their release….

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