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

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Published: Wednesday, Feb. 29 2012 2:00 p.m. MST

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City, Ut

Moral of this story:

Don't ever fall into the trap of agreeing to be interviewed about the Church by the media, (who often obviously have an agenda other than the one they tell you they have), and then compound it by believing them when they say they will let you approve the story first, or that they will give your comments in context, or promise to quote you exactly.

If you MUST submit by assignment to speak to the media about the Church, NEVER go off ranging and giving your opinions or thoughts or say anything which is not official LDS policy and doctrine.

Layton, UT

I was pretty young when the ban was lifted, but I still remember it and my parent's excitement. My dad had received personal spiritual confirmation in the temple weeks prior that it was going to happen.

Having read and pondered the many explanations and the early history of the church, regarding the embattled state of the converts, the martyrdom of Joseph Smith (if he had not been killed, I doubt the priesthood ban would've become as ensconced as it did), and Brigham Young's divine appointment as the second prophet of the Lord to lead His church, I still believe that the priesthood ban was a protection mechanism probably more based on need to keep the membership appear as mainstream and non-radical as possible--then over time the policy became justified through some rather ridiculous (to me as one viewing history in a more progressive time) and far reaching rationalizations. To hold such views today would be deemed racist, though in historical context it's much less wanton.

Fwiw, Spencer W. Kimball was not the first LDS prophet to ask God to lift the ban. I have heard stories dating back as far as Heber J. Grant. I've also heard rumor the responses to prayer given back then was that the membership of the church were not ready for it. Considering the vast demand on our already impressive body of missionaries in the world today, I can see how the church might've fractured with a less unified body of saints.

I give the above as my opinion, not binding on official LDS doctrines. The church encourages its members to find out the truth of things on our own terms and with our own minds. I believe Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His son Jesus Christ, following the same quest for religious truth. Joseph was a prophet called to restore Christ's church. He was martyred for staying true to his divine mission. Pres. Thomas S. Monson continues that mission today. They are men who seek to do God's will--far more intently than I personally ever have. I admire them both.

Buena Vista, VA

No one has yet explained the meaning of Abraham 1:26-27. I do NOT know or say it applies to blacks; yet it does show that certain lineages were denied the priesthood. So it is precedent for denying the priesthood based on lineage. Please everyone don't jump on me and call me racist.

Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood. (verse 26)

Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry; (verse 27)

Danbury, CT

What concerns me more is our trying to speculate on WHY we didn't allow Blacks the Priesthood which always puts us on shaky ground with people today. Many of you are STILL doing it!! Try picturing that you are talking to a person of African descent using your reasons. Best to say you're just thrilled they are a brother or sister in the Gospel and leave it at that.

You bloggers don't realize how your attempts to explain hit with a thud on people of diverse backgrounds out here in the real world. Stop presenting your political and world views as Gospel truth. Stick to what is "core" in your beliefs. God is not black or white, Conservative, etc.


Slavery was legal in Utah as a result of the Compromise of 1850, which brought California into the Union as a free state while allowing Utah and New Mexico territories the option of deciding the issue by "popular sovereignty." Some Mormon pioneers from the South had brought African-American slaves with them when they migrated west. Some freed their slaves in Utah; others who went on to California had to emancipate them there.

The Mormon church had no official doctrine for or against slaveholding, and leaders were ambivalent. In 1836 Joseph Smith wrote that masters should treat slaves humanely and that slaves owed their owners obedience. During his presidential campaign in 1844, however, he came out for abolition. Brigham Young tacitly supported slaveholding, declaring that although Utah was not suited for slavery the practice was ordained by God. In 1851 Apostle Orson Hyde said the church would not interfere in relations between master and slave.

The Legislature formally sanctioned slaveholding in 1852 but cautioned against inhumane treatment and stipulated that slaves could be declared free if their masters abused them. Records document the sale of a number of slaves in Utah.

layton, UT

@Bill in Nebraska: Joseph Fielding Smith said, Ham through Egyptus ,continued the curse which was placed upon the seed of Cain this dark race was separated and isolated from all the rest of Adams posterity before the flood, and since that that time the same condition has continued ,and they have despised among all people. This doctrine did not originate with President Brigham Young but was taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith¦ The way to perfection Pages 110-111.

@KC Mormon, First lets keep in mind that whenever the policy began preventing blacks from holding the priesthood it was after the death of Joseph Smith.
Genesis 7:10 JST), And there was a blackness came upon all the children of Cainan, that they were despised among all people. And (Genesis 7:22 JST) ,..all the seed of Adam save it were the seed of Cain; for the seed of Cain were black and had not a place among them.

Mike in Texas
Cedar City, Utah

I conclude that this hullabaloo is all about current politics. Whatever can be done to embarrass Romney is the order of the day. And I am not a Romney fan. This is just part of what Mormons have to go through because Romney is a viable candidate for President. Sometimes the light is all too glaring.

Much of the policy if not doctrine came about because of 19 th century views on race, born of slavery and the common notion of that day that the black races were born to be servants to the more worthy white races. The BOM echoes that somewhat when it explains that the Lamanites were darker in skin color because of the unrighteousness of their ancestry. This and commen 19 th century attitudes set the tone for a dialogue and practices that discriminated against blacks because of their skin color.

As a LDS student in the 1960's at the University of Arizona, I was called upon in class to defend the Churches practice at the time. It was not easy, but I told those questioning students that this would very soon be changed because the modern Church was not racist. That was surprising in one way because much of the literature at the time indicated that there could be no change is the practice until "the last of the seed of Able" had had a chance to possess the Priesthood. Maybe I had some inspiration? I don't think that the problem preventing priesthood for the blacks prior to 1978 was Blacks. The problem was weakness and lack of understanding by the Saints. It wasn't the blacks that had to "improve" it was us.

Murray, Utah


Who are you to think you deserve the exact explaination of why the blacks couldn't hold the priesthood.

My earlier question was one I already knew the answer to. Look up the story of Jane Manning. A free black woman from the North who joined the church and came west with the saints. She lived with Joseph and Emma for a time. Many saints knew her, including future prophets. In Salt Lake she visited every prophet asking for permission to enter the temple. They each told her they have prayed for the answer and the time was not yet.

Let us remember what the priesthood is for. Used to bless others, not to have power over.

For those who think the church is racist, do you also think the church is sexist because women can't hold the priesthood? (I think I know the answer. Most hate just to hate. Funny that you blame the church for hate.)

Lindon, UT

I'm shocked there has only been 67 comments posted about this topic. This is probably the most significant announcement the Mormon Church has made since June, 1978, when the Church overturned their long-standing ban on Blacks being allowed to hold the priesthood, officiate in positions of leadership and marry in the LDS Temple. Either potential posters are being blocked or folks are nervous about taking a position, not wanting to walk on eggshells.

very concerned
Sandy, UT

I'm sure some think they have it all figured out as to why the church did not extend the priesthood to African Americans. Unfortunately, they do not take the article and a myriad of leaders' statements at face value. I think the article was pretty clear. African American's were not given the priesthood. We don't know why. It changed in 1978. Taken as a whole, the article is pretty good at accurately portraying the church position. That has been a general, widespread, and consistent message from the brethren since well before the change. Some comments have given reasons for the ban, but by far, since I can remember (which is some time before the change) the comments from the brethren have been, *We donÂt know.*

Comments from individual church members, then and now, have been racist. Therefore, I think the church does well to condemn racism by its members (and all others as well). As imperfect people, we need to be reminded against this serious sin of racism.


The U.S. was divided over the issue of slavery. Many people believed it was wrong. Joseph Smith was a northerner as was Brigham Young, so the suggestion that the church tolerated/supported a priesthood ban to be "mainstream" is nonsense. At any rate, the ban persisted 12 yrs beyond the Civil Rights Act. Pres. David O'McKay believed it was a policy, not doctrine.

Republicans thought it was entirely appropriate to examine the teachings of the church attended by Pres Obama, so of course they should not look at this as merely a witch hunt against Romney or an attack against the church, right?

The Washington Post consulted a popular professor at the church-owned school. Not exactly what one would do if they were planning to write a "hit" piece.

Mesa, AZ

Having grown up in the segregated South, with separate restrooms and water fountains, etc. for Whites and Coloreds, I can testify that it wasn't the Church that wasn't ready for Blacks to hold the Priesthood, it was Man that wasn't ready!

All things are revealed in the Lord's due time, and a mere 14 years after Blacks received civil rights is when the Revelation came.

John Pratt
Manti, UT

I would kindly suggest to ÂFlashback: The devil can give Ârevelations too. D&C 46:7. 2 Cor 11:14. Besides, IÂve yet to see anybody here address how God commanded the ancient Israelites to kill all the inhabitants of the land God had promised to themÂmen, women, children, animals. That sounds far more racist than Brigham ever was, and kind of makes all these fluffyduffy arguments I read here moot. So are all you saying that ÂGodÂs ways ought to be Âyour ways? (Isaiah 55:8-9). So continue to raise your Âmodern kids to be mall rats, teach your daughters to wear the latest advertising on their clothes (and fannies), and remain hyper ignorant of your own history and religion in favor of the changing and politically correct whims from 47 East S Temple. There is more than one way to offer your kids on the altar of Molech.

Why would God inspire Isaiah to declare that there would be Âfew men left after the Âdefiled land is wasted, Âbecause they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant? ÂFew men left is a latter-days prophecy. Hmmm, that must also be for a latter-day occurrence of having Âtransgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Who could be guilty of such a thing?

sandy, ut

You would think that this would not even have been an issue in the church back in the 1800's and early to mid 1900's. Racism should have never been in the church, because as an organization that was supposedly led by direct revelation, you would think they would be a little ahead of the world in that aspect. Just as the word of wisdom was supposedly "ahead of its time", so should have been the church regarding racism. Do you really think god would allow his church to do such things and say such things about another race without correction? And no, not the correction that took place 149 after the birth of the church.

Aloha Saint George
Saint George, Utah

Anytime these hot topics come up, I wonder why anyone wants to speak openly as to 'Why'this occurred and 'Why' it took until 1978 for Blacks to get the priesthood.

For those who are believers in the faith and believe in a modern day prophet; the main question now is "What are you going to do with the opportunity today?"

In Africa, Black members are joining by the thousands- they've clearly gotten over it. I know that in Africa, on area grew from 2 stakes(2000 members each) to 22 stakes in about a three year time span.

IN the future, If you want to save your career, stay out of hot topics like this. Especially if you're working for BYU and are White.

Colorado Springs, AP

I have read a number of comments stating that Utah Territory legalized chattel slavery in the early 1850's. This in fact is not the case. I have written an article in the latest edition of Utah Historical Quarterly entitled "The True Policy for Utah: Servitude, Slavery, and 'An Act in Relation to Service,'" which argues that Utah Territory actually created a system of quasi-indentured servitude and gradual emancipation for former slaves who were brought into the Territory. This system was almost identical to those which existed in Illinois and other northern states. It further argues that while Brigham Young and other Mormon leaders certainly bought into the "Curse of Ham" theory, they believed that the appropriate action was to hire African-Americans as servants, not keep them in slavery.

Salt Lake City, UT

The problem with the "the culture wasn't ready for it explanation", which incidentally is also an attempt to make an answer when the church states that it has none, is that 1978 was so late that the world was starting to get on BYUs case about it. One would think God's church would be at the forefront of the civil rights movement, not lagging behind.

Port Alice, B.C.

Now maybe we can address the anti Hispanic attitudes of many in the mountain west.

Salt Lake City, UT

Article: "Elder Holland said. 'It would have been advantageous to say nothing, to say we just don't know, and, (as) with many religious matters, whatever was being done was done on the basis of faith at that time ... We simply don't know why that practice, that policy, that doctrine was in place.'"

The LDS Church is one of the most thoroughly documented organizations around. Everyone journals, obscure speeched by even minor authorities are archived and published, etc. Yet no one can find any documentation for why this particular practice was put into place and maintained for over a century?

One possible explanation is that racial bias was so entrenched in segments of American culture (LDS and non-LDS alike) at the time that racial segregation was a cultural given, the default assumption, that required no documentation-- just as nobody takes the time to write a memo about why a tree cannot get a drivers license. The whole idea is inconceivable. Why bother to write it down?

Christmas Carole

...as I recall, "gentiles" were denied much in the New Testament times,(I believe there was a reference to gentiles as "dogs"). There is a time and season for everything, and I trust Heavenly Father as I do his Prophet upon the earth. There are MANY things in my life that I don't know the "why and wherefore".

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