Comments about ‘Race, folklore and Mormon doctrine’

Return to article »

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

  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
A voice of Reason
Salt Lake City, UT

Bill in Nebraska,

I'm not sure how you understood my comments specifically, but in case I would like to clarify again. I do not presume to know anything more or less than what has been given to us to know. I have contemplated this and have thought of a few distinct possibilities. I even believe that certain principles likely are part of the real reason- but I absolutely wouldn't be surprised at all to learn someday that none of them are valid or relevant.

The only reason I referred to such scenarios here isn't to say what it is, but to say that if those are possible then one cannot conclude anything wrongful done by God or His church.

If P, then Q.

P = It's possible God wasn't punishing people unjustly, but doing what is best for all of His children.
Q = No valid claims can be made against God or His church.

If P is true, then Q must be true. This is a perfect argument. God is someone other than us, therefore we do not know if His rational was moral/just. We do not know, therefore it is possible God acted morally/justly. Because it is possible, no valid claims can be made against Him. People aren't saying 'the LDS Church is possibly wrong' but claiming it IS wrong. This is the problem I have. Unless you are God or authorized to speak on God's behalf, no claims can be made against the church- also, no claims can be made for the church either (unless it came from the church of course).

Thus we can't dispute, making it "more or less" than what God has given to us. Assuming to know more than what God has given you is false, taking away from what God has given you is false. I'm sorry if I gave you the wrong impression.

Ogden, UT

Âa church that has decisively abandoned its policy of racial exclusion.Â

This doctrine was not abandoned. It was replaced by revelation. The Church has never stated that this doctrine was false or wrong. The Church has stated that we should not speculate on why the doctrine existed. There are many hard doctrines that have not been revealed because we are not capable of understanding them at this time. Remember, even Christ forbade preaching the gospel to the gentiles for a time.

Bakersfield, CA

Folklore it ain't, doctrine it was. And your recommend would not have been signed if you didn't support "the Prophet and the Brethren". End of spin zone, Prof. Boot.

Your spin has spun outta control. But the brethren can just ask you to stop speculating and pontificating. That's not your area, according to the Jeffery Holland interview cited here. He says all controversial issues are a matter of conscience and faith. I agree with him there, as I wasn't at the Cross but I base my eternal salvation on its efficacy.

We can argue over whether our salvation was purchased in the garden or at the Cross from a textual perspective, but we'll agree neither of us were there. That may sound like a cop-out, but if you don't have the video or a signed statement from Joseph, it really is s matter of faith.

Now if the church leaders will find a way for members to be kinder to apostates, that will really speak volumes about the love of Jesus.

USS Enterprise, UT

To "lds4gaymarriage" I think that you missed a significant document that the First Presidency released called "The Family: A Pproclamation to the World". The first line states "We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the CreatorÂs plan for the eternal destiny of His children."

If marriage between man and woman is the type of marriage ordained by God, what does that mean same sex marriage is. If it isn't from god, then it is from......

If it is scripture that you want to show that the doctrine of marriage is only between man and women, then read Moses 3:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be done flesh." I don't see where it says that 2 people of the same gender can marry.

Also tell me this, if 2 people of the same gender marry in the LDS, what is the point? According to the scriptures, homosexual relations are sinful. Haven't you read Leviticus 18:22 "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination." or 1 Corinthians 6:9 "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind". Seems like even if they did marry in the church sex is out of the question, so what is the point?

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO


The problem with your statement is based entirely that the Church should not be involved in moral issues. Again I state as the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency have stated and that is that this whole same-sex marriage is to redefine marriage, which is a moral issue not a CIVIL RIGHTS issue. That is the problem and anyone siding otherwise is siding with Satan where he dictates what is good and what is evil. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has the same responsibility as we do. You will find that what is written in General Conference and given by the Apostles and First Presidency does CONSTITUTE Scripture.

Secondly, you will find that everything in the The Proclamation to the World, The Family is supported by scripture throughout. You have even stated such that you don't agree with temple marriage and that homosexuality is a grievous sin. Your whole point is that we shouldn't be involved in the laws banning same-sex marriage. However, we would be negligent as a Church and as a people if we did not.

Again we don't know why the ban on the Priesthood was done. We don't know why it was lifted. Fact is that is was instituted. The Lord did not approve otherwise until 1978. Everything else in speculation. The Church will not accept same-sex marriage at all. It goes against the doctrine of Jesus Christ himself.

Salt Lake City, UT

RedShirt, please reread what I wrote. I stated, IN CAPITAL LETTERS, that I was refering to CIVIL marriage -

"The current Church POLICY opposing CIVIL same-sex marriage is not based on doctrine."

The teachings against homosexuality are correct since they are based on scripture. Forbidding the civil government to extend the civil right of a civil marriage in our civil/secular society is a clear violation of 1 Cor. 10:29 and D&C 134:4.

The proclamation, is not scripture since it wasn't sustained via common consent as is required. The last paragraph of it was used to "rally the troops" in fighting CA's Prop. 8. In CA, gays had an existing right to marry and about 18,000 DID marry prior to Prop. 8's passing. All used their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality as justification to infringe upon the rights of gays via 8. Christians of all stripes were in open violation of 1 Cor. 10:29 in passing Prop.8.

Because I believe that that paragraph violates the scriptures, I do not allow it to hang in my home.

I'd love to hear your feedback on this.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

Voice of Reason: I actually understood your comments and was just clarifying if anyone misunderstood. I really appreciate your thoughts and comments. I know others don't and they probably don't like mine either. That isn't my problem. I agreed with everything you said and in some ways you actually said it better than anything I could say. If I was off with my comments than I apologize.

Thank you again for your input and clarification.


"As has been stated many times...the brethren do NOT know the reason. "

So how do you know the church speaks truth now?

Bakersfield, CA

Wait a minute. Professor Oman, this article's author, is a law professor? Can the DN offer a community editorial rebuttal to his piece here? This highly subjective, emotive opinion piece. I'll stack mine with meaty quotes, references and real data to support the differences between folklore and doctrine. You know, the kind of "Evidence that demands a Verdict" stuff, (sorry Josh McDowell ).

I've got more actual historic data just in McConkie's "Mormon Doctrine" and J.F. Smith's "Doctrines of Salvation" than any naval-viewing post-1978 musings will offer. How about some documentation, actual quotes and LDS official writings to expand this subject with some depth?

I didn't see any racism in my family's treatment of black Mormons. But then I never met one until Alan Cherry spoke at our BYU Sunday School class. It was awkward and relieving, painful and revealing. But hearing a black LDS male give his personal perspective cleared up my concerns at that time. It would serve this topic well if you actually heard from someone who has lived on both sides of 1978.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO


The Family - A Proclamation to the World was issued in 1995, thirteen years before Proposition 8 came into being. Proposition 8 came into being after the courts found it unconstitutional for the people of California violated the state constitution by their vote. Then Proposition 8 was put into effect to change the California Constitution to make it legal to recognize marriage between a man and a woman. The courts are still ruling against it. The reason because the courts had already said it was okay and authorized the marriages, which they should not have knowing that it would be on the ballet in November 2008. Again, you have crossed the line. It is not in violation of scripture. It is our duty to protect as much as we can the santity of the Family which same-sex marriage does not do.

By the way it is still scripture whether you want to accept it or not. I wonder what you would do this April if the First Presidency brought it before the Church membership to be sustained as part of the Doctrine & Covenants. Would you accept it or not?

Heber City, UT

Bill - you need to look at your timeline again. The Proclamation was written as a political statement. The evidence is 1) the timing - as a response to e very first American laws allowing gay marriage; and 2) the very specific use of gender language instead of editing it for brevity (using "sons and daughters") instead of children.

It's very telling that Pres. Packer changed his description of the Proclamation to "a guideline" from a revelation.

It may get presented as doctrine and added to scripture. We'll support that as a church an bear the indignity and backtracking (as we are now with race) until It is eventually removed because the arc of the universe bends toward justice.

Salt Lake City, UT

@AlphaSmith: "Bott was right about that. I've been a member all my life and I can't have the priesthood. I'm a girl."

In that regard, the LDS Church is not alone. Most all churches prohibited females into their priesthood now or in their history. This has changed a bit over time for some.

The problem is, when guys like McConkie and Holland have to change their positions. Why, if they are considered inspired? Did they not read their copy of Book of Mormon wherein it clearly states: Âblack and white, bond and free, male and female; ¦ all are alike unto God (2 Nephi 26:33). And, perhaps the inclusion of 'female' could indicate they will soon receive ordination.

Salt Lake City, UT

The situation is truly ironic. Church members are admonished to not question utterances of general authorities or the general doctrine of the Church. Now that the Romney issue has brought the Church to the attention of the questioning public... all doctrine is being subjected to scrutiny. This could be an interesting development.

Mr. Bean
Salt Lake City, UT

@Virgil: "I'm sure it counts as folklore too, but somebody once told me that they thought that the church wasn't yet worthy to have African American members until it had been sufficiently purged of racism."

The truth of the matter is that a black person was becoming more and more difficult to identify. Many Blacks are mixed, with black and white parentage. Are they black or are they white? The only solution to that dilemma is for the Church to accept all males, including Blacks into the priesthood. There was no other workable solution for then President Spencer W. Kimball. The only problem is, that it came to late... It shoulda happened back in the day when the church was in its infancy.

Looking at it backwards, it kind of makes some sense.

2 bit
Cottonwood Heights, UT

I guess at this point we readers have to decide which is more important today... to pick apart the traditions of the past... or focus on today.

I think it's more important that the church states very clearly that racism is not acceptable now and in the future. You can't change what happened in the past, so why try? The past is regretable, they've said that, but what more can they say or do than to recognize it and commit do better now and in the future?

Realise the past can't be changed. People who insist on that are expecting the impossible. We CAN change how we act now.... and that's where the focus should be (IM0)

Maybe more posters should focus on what the church and it's members are doing NOW... instead of what people did before 1970's or even before today's generation was born.

Personally I'm happy with the Churches current very clear stated position on race. So I'm not going to dewll on the past and only focus on what happened in the past.

Every culture, every group, every organization, every country, every church, that has been around long enough to have a long history, has regretable things in their past. The IMPORTANT thing to me is how they are doing today.... and is it BETTER than they did in the past.

Midvale, UT

Wonderful article!!!! I am a middle aged, devoted, active, white female Mormon. The 1978 revelation has blessed many, many lives. What a blessing it was to meet African/American missionaries in the MTC as I prepared for a mission in 1979.

Sarah Nichole
West Jordan, UT


You're misunderstanding the point. The point is not that the policy was folklore, the point is that the various explanations and opinions about the policy are folklore. No official statement has been made explaining the reasoning behind the priesthood ban, but the ban was official policy. As President Kimball said, every prophet that came before him prayed about it, and every one of them received the answer that it was right at that time. There is a big difference between doctrine and practice. Practices, like whether or not shellfish are okay to eat, change. Doctrine, like the firm belief that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, does not. The practice of forbidding certain lineages from the priesthood changed, as many practices over the millenia have done.

The leaders of the church are not saying that there was no reason for it, and they aren't saying that the policy itself was folklore. They are merely saying that Heavenly Father has not told them the official reason for it, and that any explanation members may give is purely speculation. We all have opinions on the matter, but those opinions aren't doctrine. Those missionaries and members who told you the seed of Cain idea were giving their opinion, or an opinion they heard from somebody else. They were not giving you official doctrine, because no official doctrine has ever been given on the subject. Because we are not the Father, the priesthood ban is hard for us mortals to understand. We don't know the reasons behind it, and we aren't comfortable with the idea of it, so we try to come up with explanations that make sense to us. They may be true, or they may not be true. But to claim that those explanations are official doctrine is wrong.

That is what the leaders are speaking out against, members giving their own explanations as fact and not as merely speculation and folklore.

Salt Lake City, UT

Why did you guys reinstitute the 200 word limit? It promotes only soundbite responses and prevents the presentation of evidence and supporting quotes. Please reconsider.

Salem, UT

It's just a thought here, but I've not seen it voiced at all in these many debates abut blacks not being allowed the priesthood, so I'll voice it now. Perhaps it wasn't anything about the black people, but instead the rest of society. Everyone had racial prejudices back then, and I'm sure there were plenty of people who would've had a beef with the church allowing black people the priesthood. Not church doctrine, feel free to correct anything that might be wrong.

Richland, WA

Thank you, Nate, for direct words of wisdom on this issue.

The issue is raised only in an effort to claim that Mormons are racists in 2012, yet that is ridiculous. Mormons include blacks all over Africa. There are also Polynesians, Asians, and many. many Latin Americans, including a large number of American Indians, whose ancestors were being recruited into the Church for more than a hundred years. Back in the 1960s and 70s, when the attacks on the Church over the ordination policy were most intense, I and hundreds of other missionaries were baptizing and ordaining Japanese people, and others were doing the same in many other countries. When you send your young men and women into countries all over the world to live and work, and to learn to love the natives of each land, you are teaching them acceptance of cultural and racial differences. I don't see any other major denomination in America that has done so much to create personal connections across racial lines. And that has included bringing missionaries from Kenya and Mongolia to Idaho, where I used to live.

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments