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Comments about ‘LDS Church condemns past racism 'inside and outside the church'’

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Published: Wednesday, Feb. 29 2012 2:41 p.m. MST

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JoeBlow
Miami Area, Fl

Many comments have touched on the real issue.

There are many religions out there.

Most, if not all have good intentions. Most of their leaders are intelligent, caring people who do the best that they can.

But, they are men and man is fallible.

When you hold these men apart from others and claim that they get their guidance directly from God, then you have created an expectation that their leadership and guidance should be far superior to that of the average man.

Allowing Blacks into the priesthood in 1978 was not exactly a big stretch when you look at the societal issues of the time.

Ending polygamy was fairly predictable, given the circumstances.

It would appear that the leaders of the LDS church were decent, wise men who made fairly predictable decisions based on the times in which they lived.

So, I don't fault them, but it is difficult to conclude that they were getting any special guidance from above.

Emajor
Ogden, UT

"It would appear that the leaders of the LDS church were decent, wise men who made fairly predictable decisions based on the times in which they lived.

So, I don't fault them, but it is difficult to conclude that they were getting any special guidance from above."

Bingo. Big time. When you are claiming prophetic revelation, you are setting an extremely high bar in which any future redaction will be viewed very critically.

Chachi
Charlottesville, VA

I suspect that Prof. Bott was trying to explain the thinking of many Mormons prior to 1978--and naively not realizing how crucial it is, when speaking to the media, to emphasize that these views are NOT his own.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

Joe Blow: That is the problem with so many people. They think everything said from a prophet of the Lord is revelation. It is up to the individual to make that decision. There are things that were said over the pulpit 150 years ago that has no bearing on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints today. Much of what was stated to have been said by Brigham Young and others are more or less second and third party statements. Some of their statements are most likely true but when you have a person at a conference saying well Brigham Young said this today, then another person writes it, then another person, the comments change into something that really was never said or misinterpreted. As Elder McConkie so vividly stated, that he and Brigham Young got it wrong, when the Priesthood was given to all worthy males shows that not always something said is overly true. However, with todays insights with television and such, much of those comments can be seen in a different light.

I have my own opinion of the Priesthood and I hold to that. It is mine and only mine but it amoounts to the only thing that is reasonable. If the Church was to grow as it was, then I firmly believe the Lord set his hand, knowing full well when the time was right that it could be changed. Remember it was a practice, not doctrine.

Mick
Murray, Utah

"Should have asked befor 1978"

How do you know the question of blacks getting the priesthood wasn't asked before 1978 and the prophets who asked were told no, not yet?

1aggie
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

To simply dismiss the explanation of a practice that for 100 years disenfranchised a whole class of people from participating in holding the priesthood by saying we really don't know when or why it was started is just ridiculous. We deserve a better explanation.
The "Statement" is vague and begs more questions than it answers.
At best we are left thinking that if a dumb policy (that is not doctrine and hurts people) somehow begins, it may be blindly and unquestioningly followed by decades. Obedience seems to have trumped common sense.

Osgrath
Provo, UT

Joe, you make some good points, but whiffed on the primary concept here. The LDS Church makes a fairly unusual assertion - that it is THE true church of Jesus Christ, instituted and founded by God and therefore recognized as the sole organization that is authorized to formally represent God on earth.

Obviously that is a pretty major and attention-getting claim. Furthermore, it is an either-or proposition. If a church sets itself up as the only true Church, it loses all credibility if that is not so. If the church really is God's true church, then it will be so - especially given the Mormon concept of God.

When you think about it, the only way to really know the truth about the Church is through the Book of Mormon test. If the Book of Mormon is actually the Word of God, that validates Joseph Smith's prophetic calling, which also substantiates the church as the Church of God. If the church really is God's own, then He dictates how it should be run and administered. If the men He calls to oversee His work are imperfect, that's God's problem, not mine. I don't call them, but I do promise to follow them, trusting in the promise that my obedience will be justified. Now, of course, whether Brigham Young espoused racist beliefs as doctrine, that doesn't affect me personally. If it created a negative impact on 19th century black people, that too is God's problem and it will be up to Him to make it good for them.

In other words, if the Church is not what it says it is, then it is exactly what you described, a nice, human-based organization that does good in the world and also has its warts. If the church is exactly what the members believe, one might want to think twice about opposing it, despite the apparent warts (all human) that pop up on occasion.

KC Mormon
Edgerton, KS

Another important point. When people read the words of prophets they need to read them all. I have mention of the JOD, yet those commenting on it ignore important words from it. Like Brigham saying the the time will com that blacks will hold the priesthood (JOD 7:282), or him saying that no revelation given to the Church is oerfect (JOD 2:314) because we can not understand the language of God and he must lower himself to our language to communicate with us. Another (though I do not have the location on hand talks about the problem of us bringing traditions with us. This is very much on point in this conversation as that is what people have been teaching as doctrine is simply TRADITION because a clear explanation was lacking. It may well be something like in a time were the LDS Church was so hated (as recently as the 1920's missionaries were shot at in the US) how hard would it have been to be black and an LDS priesthood holder hated for both race and religion in your own country. Not that that was the reason for it just that if that or somethong similar was the reason for it and that was not given to the Prophets people would then take traditions they had like the curse of Cain (a tradition held by almost every Chrsitian Church in the 1800's) and place that in as the reason.

DeepintheHeart
Lewisville, TX

I was appalled to see those arguments raised again so many years after they had been so forcefully condemned. Even if they were an historical reference to the false beliefs of the time prior to the revelation on the priesthood, it showed extraordinarily bad judgment to bring them up. Surely someone employed by BYU should know better than to talk to a reporter from a publication that is hostile to the Church about so sensitive a subject?

1aggie
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

@ Mick "How do you know the question of blacks getting the priesthood wasn't asked before 1978 and the prophets who asked were told no, not yet?"

If that was the (simple) explanation, wouldn't the Church spokesperson simple give it rather than saying we don't know why we were doing it?

@ Osgrath Disenfranchising a whole class of people from the priesthood during the 19th AND 20th centuries with no good reason is kind of a big "wart" to me.

DeepintheHeart
Lewisville, TX

@Mick As to other prophets asking earlier, there is anecdotal evidence they may have, but that the answer was not received. Why, we cannot know. It could have as much to do with us as fallible humans as anything. I certainly don't know for sure, but I suspect by the strength of comments made by apostles at the time, such as Bruce R. McConkie, repudiating his own writings and reasoning, none of those so-called "explanations" were even remotely valid. And it has to be considered that the practice may never have been God's will at all.

Al Thepal
Salt Lake City, UT

I had Bott for two classes at BYU, and based on what he said in those classes, I am nearly certain he was misquoted in the washington post article. He probably mentioned that as one explanation people tried to give, back when the ban was in place.

One thing I noticed about him in his classes is it is easy for him to get off on tangents. The reporter might have just mentioned the ban, and Bott might have just gone off on different explanations people tried to give, giving the reporter the fodder needed for the misquotations.

sportsfan21
OREM, UT

I'm not sure if I quite got my opinion across in my previous comment and I think I have a good example. Imagine that the Supreme Court in 1890 were somehow given a perfect knowledge of how Civil Rights should be and how the Civil Rights Movement would play out ( just like God has a perfect love and knowledge of man). Would they have passed laws against discrimination at that time? Pobably not because America was too racist and not yet ready to live the way they should. It's the same way with God sometimes. When Christ's disciples were instructed to teach non Jews, it didn't prove that they were uninspired.

Osgrath
Provo, UT

1Aggie, I invite you to read my comment again and look for the point I was making. It all hinges on whether or not God was involved. If no, then any human organization has warts of various sizes. If yes, you had better not focus on the warts or you miss the whole point.

bluejean
Farmington, UT

The Washington Post knows and understands very well how to contact the LDS Church. The fact that they didn't do any homework to substantiate the Church's doctrine and position reveals a lack of sincerity and their contemptuous desire to bring up a sensitive topic and stir things up against Mitt Romney. The Mormon Church is all too often the quick and easy target for controversy and is taken advantage of way too often. The fact that the article occurred as voters are about to go to the polls in Michigan and Arizona may be coincidental but come on, really?
It was a glorious day when the priesthood was opened to all worthy males in the LDS Church!

Regardless of the unfortunate and misleading portions of the Washington Post article, I thank Darius Gray for his involvement in helping to further the priesthood being bestowed on all worthy males and for his tireless work in family history including his amazing efforts with Freedman's Bank Records.

Andermart
Pullman, WA

For a time blacks could not hold the Priesthood. Now they can. God be praised. This is a great day.

For me, I am so delighted that Pres Kimball kept petitioning the Lord for this ban to be lifted, and after years of imploring, his prayers were answered. Now, it is up to each of us to open our hearts and our mouths to every person on earth. This Gospel is for all, as are the blessings of the temple. Avail yourselves of the blessings that can be attained therein, and no where else.

1aggie
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

@ Osgrath
I got your point, but I find your dismissal of the fact that racism was admittedly shaping major church policy as a "wart" akin to asking "yes Mrs. Lincoln, but besides that, how did you enjoy the play?".
Should we perhaps be overlooking child abuse by catholic priests as "warts" as well? I mean where do we draw the line and why?

anti-liar
Salt Lake City, UT

I applaud this church press release, since it reflects official, established scripture, doctrine, and policy, which is all that a church press release should do.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

xscribe

I sincerely hope that ÂEvery single person (Mormon) knows exactly why blacks were given the priesthood.Â

Before the revelation, I was taught that the priesthood ban would eventually be rescinded, but it was thought that it would be well in the future - possibly the millennium.

I also recall the positively electric moment when this revelation was announced to the world. The joy that was felt and the tears of gratitude that were shed.

In my own ward, a faithful black man was given the priesthood very quickly afterward. There were so many in the circle that they all had to struggle to fit around him.

It was a great day and a wonderful step for the Church.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said the following:

Racial strife still lifts its ugly head. I am advised that even right here among us there is some of this. I cannot understand how it can be. It seemed to me that we all rejoiced in the 1978 revelation given President Kimball. I was there in the temple at the time that that happened. There was no doubt in my mind or in the minds of my associates that what was revealed was the mind and the will of the Lord. Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. . . . Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such.

Esquire
Springville, UT

This is an issue that I thought about for years and I was, like so many, thrilled when the policy was changed in 1978. It was the right thing to do. The policy made no sense, particularly in light of the Second Article of Faith, "We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression." The policy contradicted one of the fundamental teachings of the Church. After much thought and analysis, including considering the history of the matter, I concluded that the policy was wrong from the beginning, that it was not God's will, and was based on social and political mores of the mid-19th Century Church leaders and the enormous political issues surrounding the Civil War era. The policy was adopted for non-doctrinal reasons, justified by nonsensical doctrinal arguments and fictions, and it became part of the policies of the Church. We see this process reoccurring often over time. Non-doctrinal ideas creep into practice and then become de facto "doctrine", including certain public relations activities that have done the same, including in recent times. Why these things aren't excised from the doctrinal realm is the subject of another discussion. The bottom line is that the policy on the priesthood was wrong and people should not try to justify it. The Church should apologize for it, or at least express their regret that this was once a practice in the Church, but it is no longer and all are welcome with open arms. We cannot run from the past, and efforts to explain it away will always be futile and look ridiculous.

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