Comments about ‘What others say: Survey clarifies Mormons' beliefs about race’

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Published: Friday, March 30 2012 2:00 p.m. MDT

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Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

What is the proper response to an urban legend? Should an urban legend even be acknowledged? Doesn't the very act of acknowledging an urban legend give it credence?

Let the Prophet speak for Christ. That's his role. That's why Christ chose a prophet to be his spokesman to the world. If Christ wanted urban legends to be the way of disseminating his doctrine, he wouldn't need a prophet, would he?

Salt Lake City, UT

Apparently, the folk doctrine exists because their is no official explanation for the ban. This article notes the official church statement is ""we (now) believe all people are God's children and are equal". What is the official explanation for the ban from foundation to 1978?

"Old times, it appears, may be soon forgotten." Those who hide from the past cannot learn from it.


It is gratifying to see evidence as to the extent to which racial attitudes have, and continue to, improve within the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The blessings of membership within the Church were always extended to all who sought them (see 2Nephi 26: 33) However, prior to the 1978 revelation, rationales about the "curse of Cain" and various references to the pre-mortal existence were widely used within the Church to justify the practice of restricting those of black African descent from holding the priesthood or participate in all temple ordinances. Sometimes these restrictions were used by some members to excuse other blatant forms of racism. Should we acknowledge our history? Of course, 1) so we can learn from it and avoid similar pitfalls in the present and future, and 2) so we can be prepared to honestly and candidly explain past practices within the Church. Yes, we need milk before meat, but ignorance is generally NOT bliss, because "the glory of God is intelligence," and we are to "obtain a knowledge of history and of countries""and study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books . . ."

Harrisville, UT

Good to hear such an evil relic of the past is almost vanished

layton, UT

Moderate, Old times, it appears, may be soon forgotten." Those who hide from the past cannot learn from it. True.
(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.
(Abraham 1:27)...Now, Pharoah being of that lineage by which could not have the right of Priesthood.

Sausalito, CA

Folk doctrine or not, was this practice from God or not? It would be helpful if LDS Church leadership would confirm one way or the other. The first step to opposing evil is to recognize it. If this was not of God, it needs to be disavowed and repented of, just as slavery and apartheid have been disavowed and repented of. If it was of God, then this should also be confirmed. We need to decide whether we can really have a president for example who believes that it was God's will to keep black people from participating in the LDS priesthood and temple ordinances.This would be like having a president of South Africa who believes that apartheid is currently wrong, but believes it was from God at the time. Folk doctrines take place when there is no official clarity.

Richland, WA

As a 62 year old Mormon, I can remember first understanding the restriction on blacks receiving the priesthood when I was about twelve years old and had been ordained a deacon. My father and grandfather told me about it. My father was emphatic that the black Mormons who were in our former ward in central Salt Lake City were faithful and accepted callings he had extended to teach Sunday School. He told me that someone in the ward had complained to him about calling them to teach, but the complainer was not himself someone who could be trusted to fulfill a teaching calling. He did not offer any of these myths to explain it. We knew it was an anomaly because Japanese people like my Mom and I and members of other races, including Polynesians who had served as missionaries in Japan with my Dad, had no restrictions.

Provo, UT

If one does even a cursory internet search of what the modern day prophets have said on this subject, one can easily see why many feel that the subject matter of this article is anything but urban legend. The modern day prophets have said a substantial amount about this and it is as accessible as one's computer.

West Jordan, UT

There is a major flaw in the survey as reported in the story. That has to do with the question asked if one had ever heard any of these "folk tales." The flaw is that even though you may have heard one of these stories, that doesn't make it true or that the listener gave it any credibility. After all, none of these suppositions came from reliable or documented sources. The survey needed to go one step further and determine if there was any credibility to any of them. Had the authors done so, this story would have been a "non-story" or slanted much differently.

Lehi, UT

My racially mixed family feels at home among the members of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Critics used to stir hate against Mormons for our teachings on equality. Presently, critics try to paint Mormons as racist, and, when it becomes apparent that LDS were, and are, less racist than others, critics pass judgment and point to the obvious, that Brigham, or other leaders were less than perfect.
But no apostle has ever been perfect or omniscient.
LDS do not believe in infallible leaders.
There was some racism among LDS, but it has always been mild compared to others who had, and still have serious ongoing issues: including Muslims, Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, gays (ongoing problems with segregation and discrimination), atheists, and so on.
No, this doesn't justify any racism, as "ALL" racism has been condemned by the Church, but I hope everyone will search their own hearts, and work on the bigotry in their own groups, rather than attack me and my family for our faith in Christ.
LDS scriptures teach that God said to Abraham: “9… thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed...they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto ALL nations”

Springville, UT

Recent declarations by Church spokespersons of past teachings of the Church as "folklore" or "folk tales" won't come as a surprise to 98% of Americans. They already think the same thing of Mormonism. To them, it's all folklore.

So be careful using that term as an explanation of historical teachings that were upheld by every prophet from Brigham Young to Harold B. Lee. By attempting to wiggle out of an awkward situation, all you're doing is discrediting every one of those past prophets and bringing into question every doctrine ever taught from the pulpit.

Casa Grande, AZ

hard to get posted the obvious. If these "folklores" were so prominet, I I can attest that they were, then a large majority of the church until right now believed a false doctrine. I just bring it up so we are aware that the church can stumble, it has in the past versions of the church. Why not now? So be carefull what you believe over what the Book of Mormon teaches. That's our standard right?

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

When people try to tell the Lord what to do they seem to forget the truth of all things. Is it really important to us to know why the ban was put into place. I pondered over these thoughts for a number of years. Years when I was away from the church and living in the world and away from the teachings of the Church. When I decided to come back I wanted to know the answer to all things just as many of those posting here have done. I got to a point that I thought I knew more than the leadership did and questioned everything. Then one day I did what I should have done in the beginning and received the following:

It wasn't my worry about the ban or other things I questioned. It had nothing to bear on my own eternal progression. Why should I worry about something that had no bearing on me and me alone.

I questioned this answer for years and yet the same answer came again and again. Finally, I understood what was being said.

Jonathan Eddy
Payson, UT

Because Mormonism is claimed to be founded as a result of modern day revelation and visitations by deity: if it is true, Mormons should not have to sweat the details of the imperfections of leadership. Can believing Mormons feel confident that, despite imperfect in many ways, prophets Joseph and Brigham were called of God and were great in their own right?

Thankfully, socially accepted racially discriminatory practices of days past by individuals, organizations and governments are slowly but surely disintegrating in our modern world. How do we handle the past? We learn from our errors. We apologize. We make reparations when necessary and we move forward without looking in the rear view mirror.

Must we beg forgiveness into the eternities for past indiscretions? I hope not. Otherwise, Americans would never be forgiven until we gave a sizeable portion of the land of America back to the war torn nations of American aboriginals and Mexican settlers. We must also be obliged to repay millions of Americans of African heritage the costs of forcefully separating their forefathers from the lifestyle and land of their birth and for committing them to unacceptable involuntary servitude. The blame of discrimination is shared by all humanity.

Phoenix, AZ

The LDS church corporation is as much (or more) about politics as it is about religion. Politics always shifts and sways with the merits of the times. Romney is a good example of Mormonism: he can be, or say what ever is popular for the time that is expected to further his goals. And so it is with the LDS church: it changes with the seasons of the times. It is man's doings. If there is a god, he shouldn't be blamed for man's fatuity.

layton, UT

@Bill in Nebraska: Brazil(1978) was one of the strongest reasons why the ban was lifted. The opening of its new temple in Sao Paulo, the LDS Church was ordaining hundreds of Brazilians to its priesthood. Did the LDS Church ignore Brazilian history? Between 1538 and Brazil's abolition of slavery in 1888, about five million African slaves were brought to that country. Through mixed marriages, Mulattos make up a substantial portion of the Brazilian population. How would the LDS Church possibly know whether or not those being ordained were qualified? With the dedication of this temple only a few months away, it would seem imperative that the church either lift the ban or face the possibility of a public relations nightmare.

For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, the same Lord is Lord of All and richly blesses All who call on him, for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord WILL BE SAVED(Roman 10: 10-12).

Lehi, UT

I've heard that idea as a repudiated concept.
Joseph Fielding Smith “It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed…the teachings of any…high or low…” included.

Some professional critics cling to their folkloric doctrine that anything controversial said, is LDS doctrine. Some overstate acceptance of this folklore among leaders. BYoung, who probably instituted the ban, denied it, ‘there were no neutral [spirits] in heaven..All spirits are pure…”
And according to FAIR "Repudiated ideas/Neutral in "war in heaven"":
Joseph Smith never taught it; The First Presidency under Joseph F. Smith rejected this idea: “no revelation, ancient or modern…(and no) authoritative statement…”; and other leaders repudiated it, including McConkie, who formerly taught the idea, but, as we know, later said: “We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.We get our truth and our light line upon line…”

This is how prophets and apostles have always learned, as outlined in Conference yesterday.

Bountiful, UT

Unless one is willing to believe that denying black people entrance to Hotel Utah was God's will, one has to accept the premise that LDS church leader ARE capable of (significant) error.

This is not to demean them, we are all capable of error.

I give credit to LDS leaders for recognizing past errors and doing better, Just as I would hope they would give me credit when I do the same.

Orem, UT

JM: "But no apostle has ever been perfect or omniscient. LDS do not believe in infallible leaders."

But they do believe that a prophet cannot (or will not be permitted) to lead the church astray. In my mind, a prophet proves his fallibility by tripping over a rock, forgetting a member's name, or leaving out a word in a scripture he is reading over the pulpit. However, there must be a point where the prophet passes "infallibility" and enters "leading astray," otherwise they would never assure church members it couldn't happen. Joseph Smith directed the ordination of Elijah Abel. Brigham Young "probably instituted the ban" (JM). Unless God was unsure of how he wanted to handle the issue, one of them was wrong. It has affected thousands of Saints and millions historically worldwide. It seems to me that one of them led the Church astray, or God just really doesn't care.

"We get our truth and our light line upon line"

This isn't a "line upon line" issue. Nothing was added to or built upon. If anything, policy was redacted. A great change was made, but a huge void still exists where folklore once resided.

Provo, UT

I think the article is a little misleading. The biggest thing to me is that 9% of LDS people agree that its true, of the 45% who had heard of it. This means that of the people who had heard of this teaching, 20% believe it to be true. To me that's too high of a percentage. It shows that we still have a long way to go in order to eradicate old teachings like this from the minds of church members.

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