I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and learned about the Priesthood
restrictions on blacks from the mouths of current and preceding Prophets and
Apostles like Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George Albert Smith,
David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie, Mark E. Peterson as
well as official statements from the First Presidency. Many of their teachings
were delivered from the podium of the Tabernacle during General Conference and
testified that the doctrine came from the Lord and were not just the ideas of
man. As a missionary in 1977, I taught this “doctrine” with surety
knowing it came from the Prophets. Their words are all easily found.Along comes this essay in the Deseret News that says the many doctrines
declared by these men were not only uninspired, but were untrue and racist and
by inference that these men were also racist and preaching false
doctrine. “...the Lord will never permit his Prophet to
lead this Church astray” - Ezra Taft BensonSo either the
teachings of the Prophets and Apostles are correct or the words spoken in the
essay are true. They cannot both be correct. I wish I’d never
read the essay.
For those having a "Faith Crisis" (Part III)So I think that
the church has made a historic move in finally rejecting all those theories
taught within the church, but so far I don't believe this is jeopardizing
the status of the church as for what it claims to be. As always
everything I say/think can be wrong, but I want to be proven wrong using the
For those having a "Faith Crisis" (Part II)The other key paragraph
reads "The justifications for this restriction echoed the widespread ideas
about racial inferiority..." and then lists the theories that the church
disavows.I don't think the church is contradicting itself here
in anyway as to the implementation the ban. In fact the Encyclopedia of
Mormonism (long regarded as a trustworthy source of information) states "The
reasons for these restrictions have not been revealed". There is no
revelation that explains the reasons for the ban just people hearsay or theories
(based sometimes on a few scriptures that don't really throw that much
light on a complex matter as this) and that's why it is just wise for the
church to disavow any theory that is not well rooted in revelation. On the other
hand, there is not revelation per se that implements the ban, but we had one
that lifted it and it came after over 100 years of the Lord allowing its
For those having "Faith Crisis" (Part I), I was starting one too until I
found what the real problem is. I believe this is the bottom line of this issue:
Most of us are believing that the church is disavowing the Ban and thus
contradicting the official position and practice of the church for over 100
years; the media is also saying that, for example the Huffington Post states
that the church for "the first time disavows the ban". Well, that is
what I thought too for the first few times I read the church's statement;
however, after careful subsequent examination of the document, I now believe
there is nothing in the text that points to disavowing the ban. Read carefully
at what is being disavowed "Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced
in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor...[and the other
theories that tried to explain why the ban was implemented]" I don't
think the church is disavowing the ban,but just what people thought were the
reasons (the theories advanced in the past) that justified the ban.
As recently as 2012 I still heard a senior missionary in Institute teaching the
disavowed “descendants of Cain” and “less valiant in the
pre-existence” theories. Thankfully there were not many other people in
the room at the time, but I immediately corrected him and stated unequivocally
that such ideas were NOT doctrine—and this was before the essay came out.
Within the context of 19th and early 20th Century America, it makes sense that
the priesthood ban was in place, given what racial attitudes were at the time
both inside and outside of the Church. But it is increasingly clear that Brigham
Young’s rationale for imposing the ban in the first placed was based in
error (particularly a misreading of the Book of Abraham), not revelation. The only question remaining is why the Lord waited until 1978 to deliver
the revelation needed to lift the ban. My best guess is that it was because the
members of the Church—and the nation—were not yet ready for it to be
lifted. It’s a discussion too long to fit in this comment, but I do
believe all things occur for a wise purpose.
The black men and women of the church who have stayed strong in spite of the
folklore, imperfect leaders, insensitive members, etc, etc, are the true heroes
and incredible examples of faithfulness. When I look up to them and their
testimonies, I wonder if I was the fence sitter. Truly I am strengthened by them
and grateful for them.
The tradition of Christians believing in the "Cain Doctrine" predates
mormonism, and was the common belief of protestants in the 18th and 19th
centuries. Brigham Young was a protestant of that era, and brought some old
beliefs with him when he joined the church. It was unfortunate that he
instituted the policy of prohibiting blacks from receiving the priesthood.
Certainly Joseph Smith didn't share a belief in that tradition, as blacks
were ordained when he was the prophet.
We have to remember that our testimonies, our personal experiences with the Holy
Ghost are what keep us in this church. It is a living thing. That means…
it can change. If we do not allow the church to change then we are guilty of
damning it to a certain stagnation. How can we accuse the church of being
unwilling to face a whitewashed past if we do not stand up and cheer when it
does? But this means change for the better. For those of you afraid of more
doctrinal change I say, read your scriptures. Could women lead in the church?
Yes, there is historical precent for that. But it doesn't mean that they
need to be ordained to a priesthood. Can gays marry and be sanctified by God?
Unlikely as it flies in the face of all known scriptures, both modern and
ancient. Children need both a father and a mother. That does not mean that we
are not kind and loving to gays. We don't "stone" them
metaphorically or otherwise. However, we do understand the idea of
"sin" as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, "Go thy way and
sin no more".
UT Brit posted: Are you suggesting that the lord would have allowed the
blessings of the priesthood to be denied to an entire race for over a century
because the other members were racist? Personally, I don't
think it was the member's who were at issue in 1850's, but rather the
rest of the USofA. The church was already under assault over it's practice
of Polygamy. To have continued to allow the blacks to hold the priesthood and to
be treated as equals, would have added another weapon to the arsenal already
directed at the church then. So, the "ban" was there not
because the members were racist, but because most of the USofA was racist. The church already fighting a war on the Polygamy front, was not
interested in 2nd front, fighting the USofA over treating blacks as equals (as
was the case in 1840's). I must stress, this is my personal
take. Not doctrine.
Let's face it. Our leaders are imperfect human beings who sometimes ask us
to trust implicitly in what they say. These two concepts are contradictory and
conflicting. Thankfully we are not left without confirmation of what we should
or should not do. We have our own prayer and the holy ghost to fall back on.
My own studies over the past 15 years have shown me that our church has been
very misguided in things such as polygamy, the priesthood, and women to name a
few. Poor Emma Smith. Homosexuality has always been a sin since the Genesis of
times. That being said, it is the only Christian denomination poised to take
the gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world. And it is the only Christian
denomination to have the organization to respond in any relevant way to world
crisis or disaster. Going forward, I will not be silent on certain issues in
gospel doctrine classes any longer especially in terms of historical truth. I
will speak out and I will speak my mind. God save the LDS church.
What is frightening to me is the how easily our leaders and doctrine can be
changed from the winds of societal culture. If everything we as Latter Day
Saints believe in is simply subject to change when society deems it,
"bad", what do we really believe in at all?Take the gay
marriage and ordain women groups. When these things have become more and more
culturally acceptable, will the Church leadership simply decide to change their
stance on them? It seems ever since the John Taylor manifesto stopping
Polygamy, the Church has taken a stance that rather than be persecuted as the
Pioneers were, we would simply "give in".For those of you
inside the church supporting gay mariage and ordain women, and want to see it
become accepted, are you not bothered by the idea that the Church would simply
become a democracy, where anything that's popular "this week"
becomes doctrine? Or is it just more fun belonging to a "club" rather
than a Church with strict laws and commandments?
This is causing an understandable crisis of faith for many of my friends and
family members. What we were taught 30 years ago as "doctrine" is now
"folklore." So, it's very likely that the "doctrine" we are
learning right now will be "folklore" in 30 years. Are we supposed to
believe that our cousin's same-sex marriage is bad, even though he is
finally stable, healthy, and happy? (He was lonely and miserable and sometimes
even suicidal before he left the church and met his husband.) These issues have
real effects on people. It's not - oops, we were wrong. Sorry. No harm
done. People kill themselves over "doctrine/folklore/whatever it is. How do
we trust any so-called "doctrine" - especially when we clearly see
it's harming our loved ones?
I joined the LDS Faith when 17 years of age and following a truly Joseph
Smith-like conversion experience(quite literally, mom and dad different faiths,
about to join with Lutherans at age 14, big important prayer decision, James
1:5-6, I mean quite seriously the same in every way). At age 17 the
"revelation" that brought me into our faith occurred, but I had no
knowledge of the "Priesthood" issues when I joined. When I
learned this, I was disturbed. My family is very racially diverse. But my faith
was solid. I was on my way to a dentist appointment in Southern California in
1978 (Paul H. Dunn's brother) when I heard and began crying while driving
on the 405 towards his office. We both shed more tears about the joy.Years later I was asked by a Black missionary why it took so long? The spirit
responded back immediately, "The priesthood grew throughout the world as
continental missions opened up. The first will be last and the last (faithful
Blacks) and the last will be first to enter the kingdom of God. Africa was last
opened and is first at growing, first in baptisms today!"
Brother John K. Penn was the 1st African-American member of our Quorum of 12
Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ (WHQ: Monongahela, Pennsylvania), serving
in that quorum from 1910 until his death in 1955 at age 88.
The first African-American ordained to the priesthood in The Church of Jesus
Christ (WHQ: Monongahela, Pennsylvania) occurred in the October 1898 Conference
when Brother George Washington was ordained an Elder. We have had 2
African-American brothers as members of our Quorum of 12 Apostles - one brother
in the recent past (John K. Penn), and one brother serving currently.
I love the idea that church members weren't ready for the priesthood ban
removal prior to 1978. So the early Saints could accept polygamy, additional
scripure, WoW, persection, the trek out West to Utah, and blacks as members, but
we're to believe the church would have fallen apart if those same black
members were given the priesthood?
My wife and I was living in Hawaii at the time this announcement was made. We
rejoiced with our fellow saints. Many Hawaiian people come from a mixed race
background thus making it difficult for leaders to decide who could hold the
Priesthood. Thank You for inspired leaders who received this revelation from our
Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.
@1.96 Std Dev: In terms of footnote 22, when McConkie said "Forget
everything that I have said . . . in days past," he should have said, forget
every thing that "I have said, or will ever say in the future on the topic
of race". Even as late as 1981 he was still infected with this toxic racist
folk doctrine cancer, when he wrote the section on the priesthood in the 1981
book with the complete text he still believes that blacks are of the [formally
cursed] lineage of Cain. Even if he is excited and thankful that blacks of the
formally cursed lineage of Cain can finally receive the priesthood, he
doesn't realize that he is still incredibly offensively wrong.
@Tasha-B, The racism taught as doctrine in the July 17, 1947 letter by the First
Presidency to Dr. Lowry Nelson, was a tentacle of the apostasy that held on
after the restoration, and polluted the minds of the Lord's anointed.
Re-mixing with restoration style innovation - call it "American",
"cultural", or pre-existent [assignment] to superior positions before
the world was formed". It is the same. - Complete lies
Read the Book of Mormon. Visit Africa. You will be amazed of the living faith
you will see.Is God a racist? Yes, he is. He has created man in
three different basic types and many peoples with distinct attributes.He
coventants with one people only. But all of His children can partake of
the fullness of the blessings His covenant people enjoy by entering into the
covenant and become members of His people, be it by blood line or adopted, that
doesn't matter.The Lamanites were cursed with a black skin. But in
the end, the curse turned into a blessing, the Lamanites prevailed while the
Nephites perished; and a marvelous book of Holy Scripture was saved for them
first, then for the rest of Israel and finally for the gentiles.
@falasha: They didn't invent the LDS church did not invent the curse, the
idea was apart of American thought for centuries prior. It was an underlying
assumption before the curse....JS also would use similar terms. What was new was
simply the application of it into a priesthood ban.
For those who stated this have been a test of their faith, I highly suggest
reading the testimonies from Bruce R. McConkie and Gordon B. Hinckley regarding
the revelation. It will give you comfort, peace of mind, and strengthen your
faith. You will have a greater understanding that the prophets and apostles are
truly inspired and are the authorized servants of Jesus Christ.At
the bottom of the church's essay of "Race and the Priesthood", go
down to the following footnotes: Footnote 21, Gordon B. Hinckley,
“Priesthood Restoration,” Ensign, Oct. 1988,Footnote 22,
Bruce R. McConkie, “All Are Alike unto God”These
footnotes have links to view these talks, and the talks have their testimonies
of the priesthood revelation. They are powerful! For footnote 22, it takes you
to BYU's site, but just do a search for "All Are Alike unto God" at
that site and it will be the first result.
Personally I am thankful for the essay. I served my mission in South Florida
and had the opportunity to teach many of mixed ancestry from Cuba. It shows
that even if the first presidency writes a letter and sends it to a good man
like Lowry Nelson on 17 July 1947, and calls it doctrine - in reality the truth
may be that the prophets are completely deceived and their words filled with
folklore lies and darkness inspired from Lucifer himself. The letter was signed
by the prophet George Albert smith, J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKay
emphatically stating that "From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until
now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the
Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the
Gospel." These were trash doctrines invented by prophets over the years
which prevented blacks from receiving the blessings of eternal families. We
should not be thankful that God removed the curse which kept black families from
receiving the blessings of the temple for over 120years we should be thankful
that "scales have fallen from the eyes" of those who invented the curse.
To LDSAggie: So it was in the early church and the ancient church. Some of the
early Saints saw the weaknesses of the Prophet Joseph or others and they
struggled and ultimately lost their faith and testimony. How will we respond in
our olive press or refiner's fire? Will we recall the witness we have
received and recognize that The Lord "will try the faith of [His]
people"? When we are in such a spiritual crisis we need to turn to
scripture, prayer and seek counsel. The gospel is true and this is the Lords
church. He does the best he can with us and let's us make mistake that we
may learn (see D&C 58: 26-31). He is testing us and we must cling to the
witness of the Holy Ghost. Immerse yourself in the scriptures and invite His
RE:starman52, That was an isolated circumstance of one point in time, not
characteristic of a general false conclusion that all skin color, at all times,
in all places is an indication of God's acceptance?The gospel to the
Gentiles, Isaiah and Jeremiah prophezies, all ethnicities=(Gentiles)black or
white: “… a covenant to the people, for a light(Jesus) to the
Gentiles(ethnos). (ISA: 42:6 LXX) To the Gentiles=(ethnos) shall come to your
light,..”. (Isaiah 60:3LXX), I.e..,(Jesus commands) “Go
into all the world and preach the gospel ’to ALL’
As the father of two black sons I have studied long and hard about this issue.
The dark skin in the Book of Mormon was a cursing of those not keeping the
commandments so that they would not mix with those that were keeping the
commandments. That does mean God considers dark skin a curse. "Black and
white, bond and free, male and female, all are alike unto God" (2 Nephi
26:33). If they started out dark He could have made them white. If they were
short He could have made them tall. We move away from that different from what
we are used to. The cursing was a separation from God. That was an isolated
circumstance of one point in time, not characteristic of a general false
conclusion that all skin color, at all times, in all places is an indication of
@bj-hp"Still the critics refuse to listen and let it go"We look back on slavery, and say it was wrong.We look back on Jim Crow,
and say it was wrong.We look back on the priesthood ban, and many of you
say it was right since it was from God (just that the explanations for it were
racist and wrong).It's not going to be let go until the ban
itself is condemned.
To UT Brit, LDS Aggie, and others who are troubled by this essay...I
too, have been greatly disturbed by this issue for many years since joining the
church. I also regret that it ever happened but, now the the Lord has made the
correction, I think it's time to let go and move on. I know that's
easier said than done but I sincerely hope that you'll seek answers
directly from the Lord himself through earnest and sincere prayer. He alone
knows all the answers to the real reasons why this policy was instituted in the
first place and for what purpose. I feel a deep love towards you as my brothers
in the faith and am greatly concern that we may be loosing you as a result of
this. I hope I'm wrong. God bless you in your search to clarity and peace
of mind!As for the BYU-Africa suggestion, I thinks it's a grand
idea, not only for all the reasons stated but I think it can be an awesome tool
to recruit talented African athletes to come to BYU Provo. Amen? Go Cougars!
I’m a bit confused here. The article includes the statement, “The
page, which showed the ban was rooted in the racism of the
mid-1800s…”. What is “the page”? If it’s
referring to the “Race and the Priesthood” essay on LDS.org, this
statement is completely incorrect. The essay says nothing about the Priesthood
restriction being “rooted in the racism of the mid-1800s”; indeed,
there is no mention whatsoever of the restriction’s source. The essay
debunks the theories set forth to justify the Priesthood restrictions, but takes
no position on the correctness or incorrectness of the restrictions themselves.
Well this is really disturbing to me. I have been studying this for a while now
and due to space limitations i must summarize.1. Manyaccounts from the
journal of js, the record, and others journals clearly show that this ban
originated with him, starting after the ordination of elijah abel which the
prophet said he had been commanded to rmove from him.2. Scriptures
spanning multiple millennia show a clear ban on black/cannanites plus many
modern prophets and official first presidency declarations.3. Brigham
young detailed that the sons of cain(as taught by js) could not have the
priesthood until all the sons of adam had had it first, they must be last, and
that the ban would stay inplace until judgement day but that once given the Lord
would had blessing for the faithful of this lineage of not only what other
possessed but more. Those are not the words of a racist man. Period.Why are we calling past prophet racist or otherwise backing the bus over them.
It leaves us unable to trust our current leadership either. I hate this essay
not because i want the ban but because it tramples the prophets.
We can reason this and get stuck endlessly on semantics. It comes down to
testimony and faith. If we are on the winning team we are blind followers, but
faithful followers as was stated recently.
Mom of ten: You are very wise and I concur with your thoughts 100%. Thank you
and God Bless.
speak truth fear not, "The only thing I would like to know is
why Brigham Young did this to the blacks in the first place." The best starting point is an older essay titled "Mormonism's Negro
Doctrine: An Historical Overview" by Lester Bush. It's easy to find
online. It's a little dated, but was groundbreaking in its research and
played a role in President's Kimball's study when he was wrestling
with the issue. It's not comfortable reading, but it's not an
"anti" source of information. "As far as I know there
was no stated revelation from God to do this."President McKay,
whose views on race and the priesthood evolved over several decades, supposedly
said that the ban was a policy that had become so deeply embedded that it
required a revelation to overcome it.
The enslaving of the mind is the sin of the church today, it perpetuates myths
and causes the individual to rationalize the obvious. It leads one to set aside
responsibility to search for truth in exchange for a sense of belonging and the
comfort of letting others dictate.
10CC,Space limitations are unforgiving, but some brief thoughts
within what's allowed...."There were almost no blacks in
Utah when Brigham instituted the policy." True, but shortly
before Brigham's first articulation of the policy there was a kerfluffle
over William McCary, a black, ordained convert. Brigham, who had previously
welcomed McCary, later excommunicated him for apostasy for several reasons,
among them McCary's taking of several white women as plural wives.
Miscegenation triggered something in Brigham, and much has been written about
this incident in relation to the ban's origin."Did the Lord
implement the priesthood ban as a means of positioning the Church within
American society?"LDS issues with race date to Missouri, when
Mormons backed off converting blacks to avoid accusations of abolitionism at a
time when Missouri was burning over the issue. I've seen a persuasive
argument that slavery was allowed in the Utah territory to court favor with
Southern politicians at a time when Mormons had given up on protections from
Northern ones. There's some underlying realpolitik at work. I doubt the
Lord implemented it, it's a deep failure of the Saints' survival
instincts gone awry.
Still the critics refuse to listen and let it go. Brigham Young acted as
President of the Church for the better of the Church at the time. Though
personally I never agreed with the ban I feel that I can understand why. You
have to look at the time and judge it by that period and not by modern time.
The mid 1800s were full of what could be called negative attitude towards any
black. Whether living in the North or the South blacks were looked down upon.
Remember the Union Army and the US Government segregated the services even
during the world wars. The were segregated in the North and the South. Brigham
Young acted on what he felt was best for the Church. Do you honestly feel the
Church would have grown if the ban had never existed? If you do then you
don't know American History. This was not punishment to the blacks but a
means to segregate just as the rest of the country. Even in 1974 the military
was just starting to come out of segregation. By 1978 the country and church
was prepared to go further.
For reasons unknown to me, and likely you too, the priesthood was with-held
from those of black African descent. Elder McConkie's quote rings true.
He said we now - as of 1978 - have an extremely expanded view of the situation
that greatly overshadows anything previously known or claimed. Perhaps we
should wait to judge - likely in the next life - till all the facts are in, till
we know all about why it happened and continued.And having read the
essay, I don't see the smoking gun that tells me to mistrust every future
statement of the prophets. Some apparent, even significant, incongruencies in
statements do not bother my testimony in that I know that man's ways are
not God's ways. His purposes will be fulfilled.The church
leaders are doing their best to openly and honestly address people's
concerns. Can we give them some credit for that? It is still The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. It is still led by prophets. It still is
the church with which the Lord is well-pleased (speaking unto the church
collectively and not individually), see D&C 1:30. The Proclamation on the
Family is still true.
@10CCThe policy was not implemented to punish blacks at all. If it was to
punish anyone I think it was members of the church who were deprived of the
great leadership and service they could have had from faithful black members.@Craig ClarkI don't dispute that the ban was instituted
because of 19th Century racism, but that does not mean the policy didn't
come from God. He knows the culture of every time period and what the people are
ready to accept. He sees far beyond what we see and so do the prophets.
@J-TX,This isn't wasn't a church program, lol. Google
"august 17 1949 first presidency statement". This is but one of
COUNTLESS examples. George Albert Smith, along with numerous other church
presidents, declared this as official doctrine from the pulpit, on official
letterhead, etc. It wasn't a simple policy, it was DOCTRINE that blacks
were cursed and members of an unworthy tribe. DOCTRINE. This wasn't a
policy to have seminary at a different time of the day.
I'm amazed by the nonsensical remarks from people like @Kim, @J-TX, and
@CentralTexan. What happened to CTR? Choose the Right and Let the Consequences
Follow! How many historical examples are there of people putting themselves at
great personal risk to save blacks from slavery, jews from the holocaust, etc.?
We cheer figures like Rosa Parks who stood up for a cause. Where were we
though? Oh, 20 years behind the curve, how inspired! Other than trekking
across the plains do we have any history to be proud of?
This essay should have made it emphatically explicit that black exclusion from
the Mormon priesthood was a church policy based on nothing other than 19th
century American cultural attitudes about race.
Well after all it's been said and written about, doesn't this just
prove that even prophets and apostles can teach false doctrine?
Mc:Here's one problem with your interpretation that the Lord
led Brigham Young to institute the ban and then left it in place until Spencer
W. Kimball and the 15 prophets, seers and revelators saw fit to ask the Lord if
the ban should continue in 1978:There were almost no blacks in Utah
when Brigham instituted the policy. Was this policy implemented to
punish the miniscule number of blacks who came with the pioneers? Perhaps.Did the Lord implement the priesthood ban as a means of positioning the
Church within American society? It seems doubtful, since the Lord inspired the
Church to flee the United States because of their persecution and the murder of
Joseph Smith.Perhaps the Lord implemented the policy as a means of
testing the white members. I suppose anything is possible, but it does seem odd
to punish an entire group of people just because of their heritage, for somebody
else's sins, but lineage was a common criteria for persecution by the Lord,
historically.The Bible was used to justify slavery, in the 1800s,
after all. Anything is possible, it seems.
During His mortal ministry, Jesus commanded his apostles to preach only to the
children of Israel. After His resurrection, He commanded Peter to bring the
gospel to the Gentiles. When we understand why Jesus gave the first
commandment, and then changed it later, we will then be able to understand why
this wonderful revelation was given to Pres. Kimball in 1978.
I'm afraid that the old ideas about why blacks could not receive the
priesthood before will persist until the brethren give us authoritative
alternate interpretations of the scripture passages on which the old ideas were
based, but these have not been forthcoming. If those passages don't mean
what we always thought they meant, what DO they mean? As the old saying goes,
you can't beat something with nothing.
Speak Truth Not Fear, Brigham Young was a Democrat and spoke disdainfully about
Craig ClarkI have read the essay more than once and did not get what you
got out of it. I guess people see what they want to see.I regret
that there was a priesthood ban for blacks. They deserved better and I'm
sorry that they had to wait so long for it. But I also believe in all the
latter-day prophets who led this church. They knew God and His will for this
church at the time that they led it. Many of them prayed for the ban to be
lifted. If the time was right, God would have lifted it. I don't know why
it took so long, but I am very sure it wasn't because of any lack of faith
or righteousness in black members of the church. Their strength and commitment
to the gospel during that time amazes me. Would that we all had such vision and
humility. I have no doubt there are great rewards awaiting them.
I leave the judgement associated with the past to the Lord and those who were in
leadership positions since it was theirs to get right. If it was appropriate,
many of us may not know the underlying reasons why and will some day. If it was
error, that will be on those who directed it and those disadvantaged will have
it covered by the Atonement of Chris. After 36 years of the ordination of all
to the priesthood, I have to tell you it brings a big smile to my face to look
back on the literally dozens of blessed and faithful individuals who have taken
advantage of it with whom my life intersected in eastern states and the south.
Not much sense in staring at the past, we're not moving that
Well said Mc
I do not believe that the priesthood ban was just a big mistake made by a
prophet acting as a racist man that all the prophets after him blindly followed.
The Race and the Priesthood article does not say that either.I
believe that Brigham Young was led by God to institute the ban, not because it
was right or God wanted it, but because God knew the church could not grow in
the climate of that day without it. I'm sure He was not pleased by it and
wanted the day to come when members of the church would pray for the ban to be
lifted and rejoice when it was. I do not believe Brigham Young
led the Church astray. He did what had to be done at the time, just as Spencer
W. Kimball did for his time. It's why we have living prophets for our
RE: BlueHusky, To those to whom this is a "crisis of faith":” I never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men,
that they may not call it Scripture, Let me have the privilege of correcting a
sermon and it is a good as Scripture as they deserve.” (JoD v 13 p. 95
also see v. 13. P 264) I.e…,Can you make a Christian of a Jew?
I tell you Nay, If a Jew comes into this church ,and the blood honestly
professes to be a Saint, a follower of Christ, and if the blood of Judah is in
his veins, he will apostatize.(JoD V. 2 p. 142).RE: Central Texan,
Moses..."God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel, and
He will make me be ‘god’ to you in His stead, and the Elders to be
mouth for me; and if you don’t like it, you must lump it." (DHC
6:318-320.”)Are the Mormons abolitionists? No, unless
delivering the people from priestcraft, and the priests from the power of Satan,
should be considered abolition
Thanks to Brigham Young, many other GAs and members who had/have no clue what
they were/are talking about, race is and will be an issue in the church for
generations. As much as you may not want to admit it, the US was founded under
the basis of white supremacy. After Joseph Smith (he had his own notions) church
leadership ran with it and couldn't bring themselves to admit it until last
December. Even then the manner in which it was done was shall we say
"understated". "Race and the Priesthood" is a step in the right
direction but without dialogue and GAs speaking about it and race from the
pulpit, that's all it will ever be. This comment section makes that clear.
Here's a big problem with the explanation "the members and leaders were
not ready for blacks to have the priesthood":It was the leaders
who were promoting the racist doctrine to begin with, and it wasn't just a
backwater, off the cuff idea from Brigham Young. David O. McKay, as a member of
the First Presidency, issued a written statement in 1949 that specifically
stated that "The priesthood ban is not a policy. It is a direct commandment
from God".How in the world would the members of the church have
*any* chance of NOT having racist views, with a "direct commandment from
God" proclamation from the First Presidency?I was raised during
the ban, and we often questioned exactly why blacks were discriminated against.
I'm very happy things have changed, but the re-writing of history and
throwing over 100 years worth of prophets and apostle under the bus is highly
problematic."If you were wrong about that for over 100 years,
what are you wrong about today?"
While this is a nice recap what happened 6 months ago, I'm still puzzled
why lds insist that the ban was a product of the times and was not scriptural or
revealed doctrine, thus can easily be dismissed as personal mistakes.
Scriptures- Moses 7:7, 7:22, 2Nephi5:21. And if these were unclear, the first
presidency in 1949 clarified things: "It is not a matter of the declaration
of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the
doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that
Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the
priesthood at the present time." That's a lot to disavow in an
anonymous, undated post on lds.org under Gospel Topics with no further address
The problem is anytime you mention "race", those with a nefarious agenda
play the race card and try to end all rational dialog.
I'm thrilled that the Des News is FINALLY acknowledging the existence of
this essay. But what took you so long?
@benjjamin"I don't see why we can't all just rejoice
together and let it alone. "Was the church correct to have that
policy until 1978? If your answer is yes, then that's why it's not
left alone. If your answer is no, well... what are the ramifications of that
regarding whether or not it is God's restored church on Earth?
I remember the day the news came over the radio. Wow! Exciting! In the
preceding months, I had a bit of a crisis of faith about the priesthood not
extended to all worthy men. I puzzled and prayed. I decided since I knew the
church was true, I would trust God. Shortly thereafter, I heard the good news.
I always think of it as a test of faith, like Abraham and Isaac. The Lord says
"I will try the faith of my people". From a worldly perspective some
things are puzzling. Trust Heavenly Father. The church is true.
When one looks at other sects sometimes described as millennialist, such as the
Jehovah's Witnesses and 7th-day Adventists, it is striking that such large
numbers of African Americans have joined, and thrived in, those faiths. Though
many African Americans have lashed out at the injustices they have experienced
over the centuries, I have found that, at its core, African American culture is
deeply moral and has a natural affinity for faiths that hope and strive for a
better world in the here and now. Thus, without their prohibition from the
priesthood, the LDS faith would have enjoyed great success in proselytizing
African Americans from its earliest days. Sadly, large numbers of African
American saints would have been an obstacle to proselytizing among many Whites.
This is a shameful thing to admit, but it was needful that the Church,
persecuted and discriminated itself, grew among peoples who did not already
suffer an added persecution and discrimination for their very existence. I
believe that, through the plan of Eternal Progression, all men and women from
all times and circumstances will eventually have an equal opportunity to confess
that Jesus is the Christ and gain an equal reward.
I consider myself a faithful member of the church and I still have a very hard
time reconciling certain issues of church history. It is fascinating to see how
many different "stories" or "excuses" we tell ourselves to
explain away the unexplainable. To say that prophets are men and make mistakes,
which I agree with, just doesn't cut it when we are trying to justify old
doctrine(label it how you may, but when a prophet speaks it is considered the
word of God aka doctrine)that obviously isn't in line with gospel
principles. How can we say on one hand that they receive direct revelation from
God and then on the other say that not everything they have told us has come
from God? While I wish I could accept this, it just doesn't work for me.
I really want to have my cake and eat it to but my mind won't allow it.
Since the ban on blacks and the priesthood didn't come from God then what
about other questionable practices including polygamy, gay marriage, etc.?
UT BritTo those still saying there were other reasons for the ban apart
from racism clearly have not read the essay. God was not involved in the ban, it
was man made entirely.That’s abundantly clear in reading the
essay although you have to read between the lines. That regrettable chapter in
Church history is obviously still very much an embarrassment to a Church that
strives to exude an unblemished appearance in its outward demeanor.
Most of these old sayings about blacks were nothing more than conjecture and
opinion. Not revelation. That is important. Even the opinions of prophets are
nothing more than opinions. A prophet - like any other human being - has his own
opionion about things but uless he is speaking in behalf of the Lord then it is
nothing more than is opinion and opinions come and go over time. President
Kimball - in 1978 - was speaking in behalf of the Lord in his revelation
regarding the priesthood. It is a wonderful thing that blacks received the
priesthood in 1978 and we shouldn't try to guess why it happend or why it
took so long. Only God knows those answers.
Sharrona is correct in that the Church was having to face the issue in
particular because of the growth of the Church in Brazil and with the prospects
of the temple being built there, but it was also because of brothers and sisters
like Darius Gray and many others. But just because the timing of things can be
linked to external pressures means nothing in particular. Read Wilford
Woodruff's description of what was shown to him about the continuance of
the Church if polygamy were not revoked at that time of extreme pressure. Search
for "Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding
the Manifesto" on the lds.org website. Also, recall what Moses did when he
first came down from the mount and saw the Israelites worshipping the golden
calf. External pressures may often dictate what the Lord will have his
followers do. The Lord knows it all, and still works his mighty works in
bringing all to pass.
@DonOIf our leaders of the Church are human and prone to mistakes,
then when a mistake is discovered, repent. Isn't that's what is taught
to all of us? Admit the error. Make amends. Apologize and confess to the people
that were injured. Why apologize? For the black men and women who
were told for 120 years that they were second class citizens on earth and in
heaven. Make it known to all white members who were raised with racial
discrimination as the norm that the speculation was false. Send out a statement
signed by the First Presidency. Ask Bishops to read the essay over the pulpit or
something like it. Don't bury it on lds.org for 6 months. End the
speculation. No curse of cain. No fence-sitters. No to the whites weren't
ready.I would respect this honest admission and then we can move to
@KimSorry but I know the leaders of the church are not perfect you
don't need to be patronising. This essay goes far beyond that which is why
it is so disturbing.We are quick to use the "speaking as a man"
stamp when an apostle says or has said in the past something bizarre. This
affected the church as a whole. We were taught the ban came from God otherwise
it would not exist.Excuses such as the membership was not ready is one of
the flimsiest I have heard. Are you suggesting that the lord would have allowed
the blessings of the priesthood to be denied to an entire race for over a
century because the other members were racist? We are taught beginning in
primary about what should happen to a prophet who leads the church astray. That
did not happen.The church is supposed to be a beacon, a light on the hill
but it was way behind the civil rights movement.To those still saying
there were other reasons for the ban apart from racism clearly have not read the
essay. God was not involved in the ban, it was man made entirely.
When two black men came to our ward in Grenoble, France in June of 1976, my
heart soared. They attended for many weeks, and though they were Moroccan, with
the darkest blue-black skin I had seen in my life, they glowed with the spirit
of God. One afternoon, I saw them leave the building, their faces wet with
tears. I stopped them, and they told me the missionaries had explained they
could be baptized, but not hold the priesthood. The three of us stood outside
crying, as I implored them to be patient; the time would come, though I wondered
myself if the truth would ever be known. It was something I had prayed to
understand since childhood. Church leaders never offered an answer I could
believe came from God.Knowing my feelings, my friend Debbie called
me from work to share the news. Standing in the hallway with the phone to my
ear, my knees suddenly buckled, and I fell to the floor. So profound was my joy
in that moment, the mere memory stands as a testimony to me to this day of
God's love for all his children. Failure has always been in our
All members of the LDS Church would do well to remember that "the
brethren" are human beings, prone to mistakes...some of them serious...just
like the rest of us. If a person's commitment to faith (or testimony as
some call it) is based on a man or group of men, regardless of the positions
those men hold, that person will inevitably be disappointed and lose his/her
By the way, I was a missionary in Brazil in 1978 and I was privileged to be a
temple worker in the Sao Paulo temple for a short time after the temple was
first opened -- before enough local Brazilians could be called as temple
workers.My companion and I were first informed by our branch
president that the ban had been lifted, but still we were dubious at first,
thinking there may have been some miscommunication somewhere in reaching our
small branch. But that didn't stop us from being VERY excited about the
possibility and eager for independent confirmation. When that confirmation came
we were elated, to put it mildly.Prominent black Church member
Helvecio Martins was there at the temple. It was wonderful. And his son
Marcus, who at the time had been engaged to be married, put marriage on hold so
he could serve a mission. I remember being seated not too far across from him
with a bunch of missionaries eating pizza, which I guess would have been when he
first was in training before going to his mission in Porto Alegre.
To those to whom this is a "crisis of faith":The LDS Church
has NEVER claimed infallibility. Brigham Young did proclaim the doctrine.
Brigham was a great leader, but he was a child of his time. And his role was to
save the church. Joseph Smith's role was to establish the doctrine, and
that doctrine did not include a particle of racism.To those
scriptural literalists:1) Careful reading of the last couple of chapters
in 2 Nephi clearly indicate that the Lehites integrated into native tribes.
Laman and Lemuel become leaders.2) In Jacob, the political layout is
clear. He speaks of political distinction of Nephites (those who are with us)
and Lamanites (those against us).3) Jacob records a sermon denouncing
plural marriage and sin clearly indicates integration into native society. They
also chose "a man" as a leader who took the title "Nephi".
(Romans took the name of Caesar for emperor). Who were these women and
"men"? Native Americans. The Lehite immigrants would have been at most
30 or 40 people. By Nephi's death, only a hundred or so direct descendents
of the Lehites would exist.References to dark skin could refer to
integration, not God's curse.
I came into the Church in 1947. At that time, the war in heaven, (fence
sitters) was taught as doctrine. How can we tell today, if those things that we
believe are being taught as doctrine, are not just some more theory. When I
went away in the military in 1954 and returned in 1955, we were told in a Stake
Conference that the (fence sitter) message was just somebody’s theory that
was never doctrine. The truth was the (Cane and Able) story. Not many years
after that, we were told that the Cane and Able story was just somebody’s
theory and the truth was that nobody really knows but it will all be sorted out
in heaven. In 1978 we all know about the change.I like the current
essay. I think that we should say “Mistakes have been made in the past
and wee are now correcting those mistakes. I think that we need to accept
responsibility for our actions and our lack of actions rather than try to cover
them up or rationalize them away.
I served my mission prior to the Revelation 75-77. I remember well that even
then the doctrine was simply that the time was not right for Blacks to hold the
Priesthood, but that the day would come when they would hold it. Also that no
Black would be denied any blessing whatsoever in the hereafter. We taught that
God has His own time table -- as can be seen by the fact that the Gospel was
preached first to the Jews, then the Gentiles Later. Theories abounded back
then, but that's all they were -- theories. During my mission
an elderly member of the Twelve spoke to us and expressed views on the subject
that hinted of racism. I remember asking my mission president about the
comments and vividly remember his response -- Elder (blank) has been a general
authority a LONG time. He said it with a smile on his face that communicated to
me that these were views of someone who had lived in a different time. So even
prior to the Revelation, it was understood that theories were just that. The recent Church statement doesn't disturb me at all. In fact it
only bolsters my faith.
For me, Elder McConkie's words in 1978 (follow the link in the article) are
more than adequate: "We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and
light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the
views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. It
doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the
Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978. It is a new day
and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds
light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any
particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them."But,
since so many STILL haven't quite gotten the message, I'd like to see
this essay and others in the same series used as "5th Sunday" lessons
for joint Priesthood/Relief Society/Young Women meetings, to make sure everyone
is Very Clear about the truth as approved and told to us by those whom we
sustain today as prophets, seers, and revelators.
Blacks and the Priesthood may bring up more questions then it answers. The words
that yesterdays prophets spoke are disavowed and heretical. What was once taken
as literal scripture is now… well, not literal or.. i mean uh not real
doctrine? What do i make of todays Apostles and Prophets when they declare
"man can not make moral what God has declared to be immoral." So is
that opinion or doctrine? Prophets once declared that it was immoral to
marry with a different race. If one takes off the indoctrination glasses, this
becomes really clear. Those who find clarity and comfort in this article are
correct, as it were, but they may be re-arranging chairs on the titanic, instead
of looking at the gaping hole along the side of the ship; What does it tell you
about modern revelation and scripture if we can hardly define it, and, easily
disavow it? Ask the Hard questions; pay attention to the holes not the
chairs.2 Nephi 5:21, Alma 3:6, 2 Nephi 30:6 (pre 1981 version), 3
LDSAggie et al.From the Book of Mormon we should understand that
some things have been deliberately withheld from us (see, for example, 3 Nephi
26:11) in order that our faith may be "tried". Despite things that
might cause us to wonder about this or that, there is nothing that counters my
own personal testimony of the Book of Mormon or of Joseph Smith as a chosen
prophet of God.I think some things were deliberately either
instituted in the restored church (polygamy) or not immediately eradicated from
the church (priesthood ban) in order to foment opposition as the Church moved
along and as we prepare for the Lord's Second Coming. We should not forget
that Christ himself did things specifically he knew would bring opposition to
himself that would lead to his death.Personal testimony is the key
-- which comes from personal revelation -- which comes from deep, sincere, amd
humble prayer and study.
@MC: God doesn't know why the priesthood ban was needed because it
didn't come from Him. That's what the essay on LDS.org is saying. "In 1850, the U.S. Congress created Utah Territory, and the U.S.
president appointed Brigham Young to the position of territorial governor.
Southerners who had converted to the Church and migrated to Utah with their
slaves raised the question of slavery's legal status in the territory. In
two speeches delivered before the Utah territorial legislature in January and
February 1852, Brigham Young announced a policy restricting men of black African
descent from priesthood ordination."
Jon1... I have thought about some of these issues from time to time. Throughout
all dispensations, the Lord needs to allow mortal men and women to (1) parent
His children, and (2) lead the church. That must be difficult at times!
Prophets, judges, and leaders in the Bible and the Book of Mormon often
displayed mortal moments - one of the biggest being Peter's denial of being
associated with Jesus Christ - three times. These mortal leaders and exemplary
men and women, both ancient and modern, learn line upon line, precept upon
precept, and the Lord continues to allow them to lead - according to His timing,
patience, and purpose. The foundational truths have been set forth anciently,
and again in the restored modern day, but that does not always mean all things
will be smooth from the beginning, and remain that way. My testimony of this
church has come from (1) witnesses of the Holy Ghost (most important witness is
from God),(2) knowledge of key doctrines from Christ's church through a
careful study of scripture (i.e. Christ, Atonement, baptism, prophets, 12
apostles, priesthood authority and keys, temples, and so forth...), and (3)
experience and fruits from trying it all out.
I think the most troubling thing about this announcement is that people needed
to be told that this was racist. How was this not obvious to everyone? How
poisonous is your thinking if you need some authority over you to tell you that
racism is racism?
As a convert since 2006, I have read many comments regarding race and the
priesthood. I didn't allow myself to be misled by comments of others and
depended solely on the word of our Prophet and the General Authorities. I am
pleased to see this essay and support it with all my heart. The word of God, as
given in the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, in addition to the revelations
given our leaders, is what we should concentrate on.
The Law of Moses was instituted because the Israelites were not prepared to live
the higher law. I believe the ban was instituted because the racist culture of
the time would not have allowed the church to grow. I believe what timpClimber
said above. Without understanding the culture of the time you cannot judge
fairly. Most other churches had separate congregations and clergy for blacks
because whites would not worship with them. Read Keith
Hamilton's "Last Laborer." Great book.Temple work was
done for deceased blacks before the ban was lifted, so the ban was just for this
life and, therefore, temporary.We know that children who die under
the age of 8 go directly to the Celestial Kingdom with no need for baptism.
What race has probably had more children die before reaching 8 than any other?
Blacks were indeed valiant in the pre-existence and the ban had nothing to do
with that.God knows why the priesthood ban was needed and when to
end it. When we judge the Church, we judge God and His wisdom. If we keep the
faith we will understand all eventually.
@Apocalypse please asks, "What other theories will be disavowed in the
future?"1) The theory that God created gay people but for some
unspecified reason thinks they, unlike heterosexuals, should be forever
celibate.2) The theory that men and women are equal but not exactly
so--that they are "different", and that because Jesus (allegedly)
ordained only men, they can't ever have the priesthood.3) The
theory that men can have multiple temple marriages but that, barring a temple
divorce, women can have only one.
@LDS Aggie & UT BritYou both need to read the Biography of Spencer W.
Kimball. It has a very compelling account of the Priesthood revelation. You
will learn that the most significant obstacle to this revelation was prejudice
among the members and leaders at that time. The membership was not ready until
1978. I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but you also need to realize
that Church Leaders can and have been wrong through the ages. Take an in depth
look at church history. Although not frequent, it happens. Even some Biblical
leaders, such as the Apostle Paul have made errors. Christ is the only perfect
being. Don't let the foibles of men shake your testimony.
JonathanPDX:The church also has an essay about the book,
"Journal of Discourses" on the gospel topics section. Check it out. I
wouldn't be too quick to just call it the "writings of men" as that
can come off as being compared to the philosophies of the world. From the essay: "The Journal of Discourses is not an official
publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a
compilation of sermons and other materials from the early years of the Church,
which were transcribed and then published. It included some doctrinal
instruction but also practical teaching, some of which is speculative in nature
and some of which is only of historical interest." [...]"Questions have been raised about the accuracy of some
transcriptions. Modern technology and processes were not available for verifying
the accuracy of transcriptions, and some significant mistakes have been
documented. The Journal of Discourses includes interesting and insightful
teachings by early Church leaders; however, by itself it is not an authoritative
source of Church doctrine."
Man is allowed by God to make mistakes. If you learn of unfair practices by man.
You can bet God did not instruct them to be used as commandment. God loves all
his children, not just the ones in power or survival advantaged. Brigham
Young was a great man. But he as a prophet of God led the church in some wrong
paths. He tried to do what is right, but failed in his hatred and unfair beliefs
about black people and forcing the word of wisdom as a commandment: When it
clearly was revelation to be advice not my command or constraint.What
could be more clear to Joseph Smith as revelation from God. The priesthood was
for all mankind and personal choice for adults is God's commandment to
mankind. Man deceived by Satan/instinct mechanism protects their
advantage, encourages false beliefs so use of power for personal reasons is
always suspect; When rules are made that take freedom and liberty, forcing
beliefs on each other. Personal choice is protected by equality under all
lawsAlma 30: 7 Read it and know it is truth from God to man..
Slavery-based drug laws violate freedom of choice.
@JonathanPDX: "It's also possible that the person translating the Book
of Mormon had engrained in him racism that was prevalent in America at the
time."That certainly is possible but since Joseph Smith
translated the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith felt strongly about ending
slavery (many in the south didn't like the "abolitionist Mormons"
settling near them) and had many other well-documented progressive views
regarding race and race-relations. Yes, racism was quite engrained in the
culture of the day - it still is quite engrained in our culture (although
we've come a long way).My main objection to the original
commenter was in his/her dismissal of the lengthy and well-written essay
referenced by this DN article. He/she set up a red herring and turned it into a
LDSAggie,I hear your pain, and I understand. It’s been almost
1 year since I first started having a faith crisis, going from a very literal
and conservative belief in the church to where I’m at now where I see the
inconsistencies and messiness in everything. The blacks & the priesthood is
just one of many historical issues that have very challenging implications for
the church. I’m still an active member, but I don’t view the
leaders as revelatory oracles anymore. I see them as men who are trying to do
good, and seeking for inspiration and guidance just like you or I may seek for
answers to prayers and guidance for our families. If you want to
learn more about the blacks and the priesthood, I would recommend two books.
First is David O McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism by Gregory Prince. The
second is Lengthen Your Stride by Edward L. Kimball. There is also an essay by
Ed Kimball titled “Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on
Priesthood” if you don’t want to read his whole book, you can Google
that. Seek deeply and good luck on your journey.
@J-TXThere is a huge chasm of a difference between denying families
the priesthood in their homes for over a century and changing the seminary
program and meeting times. I struggle to think how you can trivialise it like
that.How many people did not join the church because of the the priesthood
ban, how many could have been brought into the fold? The question deeply
LDS Aggie;I'm sorry you are having a crisis of faith. But this
is not the first time programs or teachings have been changed or dropped in the
Church.The Seminary of today is a far cry from the seminary my
grandmother experienced.Did it impact your faith when the Church
moved Primary from Tuesdays to Sundays, or changed the meeting configuration to
a three hour block (VERY UNPOPULAR AT THE TIME)?If you are having a
crisis of faith over this, you, and all of us need to get down on our knees.
And if we don't feel like praying, we should, as Spencer W. Kimball said,
"pray until we feel like praying". The answers - and peace
- will come.-Your brother in DFW.
@LDSAggieSame here, RM, temple marriage, kids, stake and ward
leadership. This hit me very very hard. If there was a doctrinal reason for this
I would have swallowed it bitterly and moved on. What this statement is saying
is that we have had prophets denying the priesthood to families because of the
colour of their skin. I have had the idea that although the prophets were just
men and make mistakes the church will never be led astray. This sounds a lot
like leading the church astray to me. The prophets should not be limited by the
understanding of men but follow the guidance of heaven. Discrimination is not a
@1.96SD, your comment illustrates part of the problem; you seem to hold on to
the notion that the ban was Gods idea. A decent question is why d would take the
time to give J Smith a revelation against slavery but fail to tell him he
shouldn't have ordained blacks.@ Reader, yes, there is lot of info
on te web site, but most people are lazy. When I taught Sunday School it always
frustrated me that most people didn't bother to even read the lessons prior
to class. Outside of Utah this isn't found in the local papers. The
majority of people I've talked to haven't heard of it. Some who have
heard about it have read it and, some (like @1.96) read it but still can't
let o of the idea that the ban was of God.It wasn't.
I've always wondered why we needed a revelation to end the ban when we
didn't have a revelation to start the ban. Why not just end it without
This essay has caused a huge faith crises for me. I'm an RM, temple
married, 4 kids, leader in my ward. I'm glad the church has disavowed
uninspired theories that were based on racist attitudes, but it disturbs me that
such false doctrine would be taught by "prophets, seers, revelators" to
begin with. I can understand the cultural environment that would lead to such a
policy, but what I absolutely can't wrap my head around is that the
priesthood ban persisted until 1978, decades AFTER the civil rights movement.
What I'm hearing is that the Lord's anointed, the only men on the
whole planet earth who have the authority and access to the divine revelation,
those guys were not only uninspired on this issue, but they were less inspired
than countless others outside the LDS faith? The essay raises far more
questions than it answers. Hard questions. Since reading that essay I have
been unable to take any conference talk or church manual very seriously. Every
time somebody quotes a leader in their talk, which is almost every talk,
"President or Elder so and so said," all I can think is, "Why should
Though I'm not a Mormon, I'm a great admirer of much of Mormon
culture, because I'm very much into wholesome living and acts of kindness
toward others (both Mormons and non-Mormons). What a contrast to so much of our
general culture these days!Nevertheless, I could never be a Mormon
because I never allow another human--however "divinely ordained"--to
tell me what to think. When someone tells me that "the black race bears a
curse," am I supposed to nod and say, "Oh, okay"? And when, many
decades later, an official representative of the same someone tells me that that
was an error, am I supposed to pick up the editing pencil and revise the
blacks-are-cursed document in my brain?The black issue is just one
example, of course, of this phenomenon. But I can't live that way, and I
don't believe God intends for me to live that way. A well-known Mormon
quote goes, "When the prophet speaks, the discussion is over." But for
me, it would just be starting.
I’m pleased to see the essay forthrightly disavow such notions as the
curse of Cain and the belief that skin color is due to favor or disfavor in the
eyes of God. I remember the days when those ugly ideas were openly offered as
explanations.I have a fairly clear picture of how I think the old
policy came to be. It was one that few white people would have even questioned
in the mid-19th century. It reflected the America that then was.
@Apocalypse please - People often forget that the writings of men, outside the
canon of scripture, even that by Church leaders, is not scripture, and should
never be viewed as such.As the author of the article acknowledges,
the leaders of the Church are men, and as such are fallible. One excellent
example of this is the "Journal of Discourses" which some believe to be
doctrine, but are simply the writings of men.Our greatest test for
determining the truth of a document is the to research it, study it, and ponder
its meaning. Once we have done our due diligence (Moroni 10:3-5, James 1:5-8)
and decided on its veracity, we are exhorted to seek confirmation from the Holy
Spirit.Once the Holy Spirit has testified as to the truthfulness of
something, we have no further need to keep questioning its truthfulness.
I was in a 1962 meeting in the Manti Temple with President McKay in charge. One
of the topics he addressed was the request for missionaries to be sent to Ghana
by the local people. He said that after much prayer that the time was not yet
to do this mainly because of Church members predjustice against blacks. He told
us to go home and to wipe those those feeling from our hearts and families so
the Lord's promises could be fulfilled that all nations and people could
have the fulness of the Gospel.
@Mom of tenAre you saying that Prophets and Apostles of the Church over
120 years kept a policy on Blacks for the advancement of the Church? There are
numerous official statements from the First Presidency regarding this topic.
Then the Church quietly puts out an essay saying that all the statements were
incorrect. That the policy came from church leaders from a racially charged
time. What other policies are going to be shown as false?
@Reader Yes, you can search the church website but this essay but it takes
at least 3 clicks to find it. In my opinion it should have been more readily
promoted by the church and officially endorsed by the First Presidency. @JaredIt's also possible that the person translating the Book
of Mormon had engrained in him racism that was prevalent in America at the time.
When this person translated those passages, he included some of this racist
attitude concerning "brown" people. The same thing is possible when
Moses and Abraham were "translated". It's always easy for the
majority to say get over a policy, not doctrine, that was in place for 120 plus
years. In place during a time in America of intense segregation, discrimination
and violence. "C'mon it's been 40 years, get over it"
One very important detail to keep in mind regarding the priesthood ban and the
article the church wrote: President McKay prayed about lifting the ban and
didn't feel impressed to at that time. This is significant because it
strongly implies there were divine reasons for maintaining the ban for whatever
reason. One day we will have all the answers, but this important detail should
not be overlooked.
For those who say they have never heard this statement, I wonder if they ever
explore the Church's website? It is a huge resource of material for and
about the Church. Anyone can access and learn a lot if they are willing to do
When I look at things to figure them out, especially with no known doctrine, I
look outside the box. Maybe the advancement of the gospel was so important, the
choice was made, at that time, to overlook the black issue. I mean, there was
already so much controversy going on, with polygamy etc. that the race issue was
not addressed at the time. God is eternal and not limited to our time frame. He
works with imperfect people trying to work within an imperfect and sometime evil
world. No one, regardless of when their earth experience happened, will be
denied any of His blessings. Is it possible that the ban was allowed to continue
for a greater purpose? To....? I do not know, but I know that God does make up
for all our collective mistakes. I know I have chosen a path that was the
"lesser of two evils" when there seemed to be little other choice. Just
a thought. It is hard to judge the decisions of a different time and culture
through eyes and cultures of today. I was not there, but I trust God to make all
I was about 18 months into my two year mission in Winnipeg, Manitoba when we
heard the news. I remember the thrill in my heart and unfettered joy at the
opportunity all had for the supernal blessings of the gospel.
I joined the church in 1986 at age 40, long after blacks became eligible to
receive the Priesthood. One aspect of that issue that I have never found an
answer to and has stuck in my mind is this: If the Lord's church was
restored through Joseph Smith in the 1830s then why was this
'prohibition' against blacks tolerated in the first place?
Doesn't heavenly father love all his children the same? Why would this
totally anti-Gospel principle be instituted and tolerated for so long, when it
goes against the basic bedrock principles of the Gospel?
@ApocalypseTo add to what @mhenshaw wrote - The Book of Mormon
serves as a witness of the divinity of Christ; it establishes the truth
contained in the Bible regarding Jesus Christ as our Savior. There are other
themes in the Book of Mormon but Christ as our Savior is the main theme.There are a few verses in the Book of Mormon that ostensibly talk about
skin color; I write ostensibly because it is an assumption that might be
unfounded to state that it is a reference solely or strictly to physical
appearance rather than spiritual. Further, the Book of Mormon, while written for
our day, was written in a time far removed from our day. Culture and race were
viewed differently than they are today. So even if references to skin color are
about physical appearance, they must be understood in the context of Book of
Mormon cultures. That's difficult given the fact that we have little
historical information of the time. The LDS Church states that the
priesthood ban is complex and might have had roots in racism. Regardless,
it's time to move on; it’s been almost 40 years since the ban was
The 12/6/13 statement would have more meaning if it were a 1st Presidency
statementread on Sundays over the pulpit and printed in church magazines
etc. As it is, itcomes off as semi official and few have heard of it just
as the BYU student quoted in the article says.
I always had the thought that Laman and Lemuel probably tatood themselves and
that's what is meant in the B of M. Not that they woke up one morning with
a different skin tone. That's just me personal thought.
It is easier to rationalize in the church these days, since our own leaders seem
to be telling us that what we once thought was revelation really isn't. Are
we to pick-and-choose which are revelations and which are not?This is not
an academic question. Five years ago I would have defended as revelation both
the former ban on blacks and the family proclamation. Now I can point to the
church website as authentic proof that neither qualifies. The ex cathedra
standard for LDS doctrine has just been raised.But we do have a pattern in
the Official Declarations. The prophet speaks in conference, followed by his
counselor declaring his keys and authority...then a sustaining vote of the
congregation.Everything else spoken in conference is less than that.
Apocalypse, there is a big difference between theory and doctrine. We never
really had a doctrine on the issue so that lead to the springing up of various
theories. Nice to see that the church finally addressed these.
I currently live in Zimbabwe (southern Africa) and lived in Rwanda for 3 years
(central). The idea of a BYU-Africa is a great!! It would give opportunity for
exchange of professors (BYU, BYU-I, H & A) and would give great insight and
perspective to all students that attend. It would bind together the members of
the church coming from different African countries into one church and give a
great base for our humanitarian missionary efforts on this continent. The
greatest growth for the church in the near future will be in Africa. Let's
build an excellent university to help raise up the next generation of leaders.
Access to excellent schools is difficult. We should select a country that is
centrally located with a temple already in place and start this university!
Monies from the Perpetual Education Fund can be cycled through the university
instead of going out to other institutions and only being utilized one cycle.
An MTC can be adjacent to it and it could provide income for the students
similar to PCC does for BYU-H. An excellent trade college could be attached as
well. There are many possibilities.
I am happy for all people to have the same rights and promises.The
only thing I would like to know is why Brigham Young did this to the blacks in
the first place. As far as I know there was no stated revelation from God to do
this.Very strange.Any insights from knowledgeable people
here?And I am looking for facts not opinions or rhetoric.Thanks to everyone in advance.
It may seem surprising to some that the LDS church could make such a big
doctrinal mistake, i. e. Teach false doctrine, but such people don't think
very deeply. If it were impossible for a church of God to stray from the truth,
thr Jewish church at the time of Jesus would have accepted him, not rejected
him. The Catholic church would not have strayed from the way and a restoration
would not have been necessary.Rather than blindly believe everything
you hear from the brethren, pray for discernment that you can recognuze truth
from error. Pray for church leaders that they will have Gods blessing to be
centered in truth.
RE Clarissa, I remember that day in 1978. In 1978, Brazil 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.RE: Cinci Man,
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations=(*etnos), baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost(Mt 28:19) *Ethnicity, black or
white.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
I remember that day in 1978 that African-Americans were given the priesthood. It
was my senior year of high school in California. Dave, a fellow member of my
ward, also a senior at my high school, came running up to me to share the great
news. It was a wonderful feeling!
I was taught growing up that one day the priesthood would be available to all
worthy men. I served my mission in 1973-74 where there were many deprived of
the priesthood. I was thrilled with the expected revelation. I didn't
know when it would happen, but I hoped it would be in my lifetime. And what a
blessing it is to the church to have all worthy men serve with honor and
distinction is all positions to which they are called. The women of the church
are also to be admired. How grateful we should be for line-upon-line
>>Is the church disavowing one of the main themes in the Book of Mormon
too?I must respectfully disagree with the claim that that's one
of "the main themes in the Book of Mormon." In fact, I'd say
it's not a theme of the book at all. The verse to which I think you're
referring is a single historical observation by the writer -- not a prophetic
utterance -- for which we're not even perfectly clear on the context.
Without clear scientific context, I think it would be unwise to declare a
direction connection between it and any modern group of people.The
only true themes of the Book of Mormon are that Jesus is the Christ, He lives,
and societies and individuals prosper or fail to the degree that accept and obey
of His gospel.
@rhappahannockThe idea of BYU-Africa is a great one. The PR value
is nothing - the blessing it would be to the people of Africa is why it's a
@benjjamin...I am aware of some of the information out there about the
"cain" theory and the "fence-sitters" theory. I first heard
these things about 10 years ago. ...The theories were, of course,
based on scripture:"22 And Enoch also beheld the residue of the
people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of
Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not
place among them." Moses 7:22"24 When this woman discovered
the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus,
from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land." Abraham
This is the reason we need a BYU-Africa located in Ghana or Nigeria. It not only
repudiates the folklore, but puts our money where our mouth is and makes
Africans "fellow citizens of the saints and of the household of God."A BYU-Africa would be such a huge publicity win for the church it would
swamp out any of the advertising in Times Square or other big publicity
projects. Why spend millions on such things for a one-time visibility boost
when a persistent, huge PR goldmine awaits in a BYU-Africa?Finally,
a BYU-Africa would not have to be expensive. Land, building materials, and
labor are much cheaper. Get rid of the LDS Business College (which really is
redundant now) and build a highly visible and highly needed asset that will
generate positive PR for years and years.
I am a "white" man. I wasn't alive in '78. I was born just a
few years later, but I am aware of some of the information out there about the
"cain" theory and the "fence-sitters" theory. I first heard
these things about 10 years ago. I still remember thinking that it sounded
bogus - like people trying to make "logical" ends meet.In my
mind, I don't see why we can't all just rejoice together and let it
alone. The "blacks" in the church are as faithful and worthy as any
"white" person. I am just sick and tired of the way that some of us
keep the racism alive so we have to feel the pain over and over and over
again.All of us in the church, whether black or white, male or
female, have a lot of persecution headed our way due to our unyielding
commitment to God's revealed law of chastity and marriage (male with
female). We need to stick together.
The essay says, "the church disavows the theories advanced in the past that
black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in
a premortal life." Is the church disavowing one of the main themes in the
Book of Mormon too? What other theories will be disavowed in the future?