Comments about ‘Black LDS leader Darius Gray makes, contributes to Mormon history’

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Published: Monday, June 16 2014 9:35 a.m. MDT

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Springville, UT

An interesting piece.

Racism has existed in the Church, and still does. The Priesthood ban is one of the most lamentable policies we ever had. All I can say is we owe a deep apology to many. I know black people who were interested in joining the Church until they found out they were in an inferior position because of the ban. It also shows how an opinion, statement, or other non-doctrinal matter can take root and evolve into "doctrine", when in fact it is not really doctrinally based. We've ween this many, many times before.

The incident of the sacrament being withdrawn reminded me of a time when my non-priesthood father-in-law came to church on the day my oldest daughter was blessed. On that day, he joined the circle during the blessing of the baby, and he took the sacrament. And you know what? It didn't matter. It didn't change a thing. Being inclusive is far, far more important than being exclusive. This goes for a lot of things in the Church. Sadly, exclusion is far too pervasive.

American Fork, UT

It'll be neat when people aren't set apart, even in a positive way, for their skin colour.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

So sorry to hear he has bone cancer. A good man.

Left Field
Longmont, Colorado

The concern raised by this topic regarding the history of blacks in the church, however, has less to do with blacks than it does with how something that was once taught as doctrine (not misunderstood by the masses, but TAUGHT as doctrine) by early prophets and leaders of the church can be brushed aside as folklore by more recent prophets and leaders. Think about it for a minute: If the priesthood ban had no doctrinal basis from the beginning (as we're now being told), a revelation would not be needed to overturn it, instead, church leadership would only need to own up to their prejudices and start giving worthy men the priesthood. But for years leading up to and even beyond time of the revelation received by Spencer W. Kimball, the priesthood ban itself (not the theories that have circulated regarding the reasons for the ban) was taught as a doctrinal fact. Now even the ban itself is tossed aside as non-doctrinal, along with the absurd theories behind the ban. So what of today's doctrines will be brushed aside in future years when they fall out of favor?

Riverdale, MD

Regarding blacks and the priesthood--either the brethren made a mistake or God didn't want blacks to have the priesthood. Either one is quite problematic. This article is supporting evidence that denying blacks the priesthood was a mistake and not what God wanted. It really does raise the question of how much we can trust the brethren to be doing what God wants. I believe that the apostles and prophets are called of God and I also believe that they are human and make mistakes. These facts make it difficult sometimes to distinguish doctrine from policy and from practice.

It definitely pertains to the Ordain Women discussion. While I think it is possible that God doesn't want women to have priesthood, the church statements haven't stated that clearly. I would feel better if the official church responses would say "We asked God as a group of brethren and we all got this answer from God."

What an admirable man, though.

Farmington, UT

I think if you read Elder Oaks' talk from April Conference, you will find he referred to the pattern that only men are ordained to offices in the priesthood as "divinely decreed."

Fairview, UT

While I was in high school in Utah back in the 70s, I only recall one black student attending my school. He was immediately popular possibly because he played football but I think mostly because of his cheerful nature. Even in those years, it was becoming a matter of the content of one's character rather than the color of one's skin. We had a few Hispanic students and I considered most of them my friends. There were few instances of discrimination I witnessed but most of them were from earlier generations.
Pertaining to the priesthood, don't overlook the history of the Aaronic Priesthood which in Old Testament times was held only by direct descendants of the tribe of Levi, which is why it is also referred to as the Levitical Priesthood. Exclusion of groups of people didn't start with the blacks in modern days. Even the Savior himself sent his apostles out first to the Jews only later were they to go to the Gentiles. If you have faith in God, you must trust in His timetable and His revelation of those times through His prophets.

Edwardsville, IL

@ Left Field
Your premis that a priesthood ban without doctrinal basis would not require a revelation to correct is incorrect. Actually a revelation is exactly what would be needed. Take a look at the Doctrine and Covenants. How many times are revelations given to correct misunderstandings of the gospel. How many times in church history would the phrase "Behold you have not understood", be appropriate when dealing with the members of the church. Perhaps if they understood, there would have been no problems with milk and butter.
The problem is, we are mortals living in an imperfect world, trying to see eternity through clouded eyes. But I know our leader's eyes are less clouded than mine and I trust them. I truely believe that if they make a mistake in guiding us it will be corrected. Their job is to lead us, my job is to search, ponder, and pray and strive to be more Christ like in my dealings with others.

St.George, Utah

Those commenting on this article are brave souls.
I have recently wondered if those making questioning statements fear.....

Springville, UT

Joseph Smith said something to the effect that a prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as such? This implies there are times a prophet is not always a prophet. So where is the dividing line? Where does personal revelation of the hearer of the word come in? There are some interesting issues here. It is not always so black and white.

@ kiddsport, I fear you are trying to rationalize the exclusion of blacks from the Priesthood. There was no valid basis for it. None. It was clearly in conflict with the 2nd Article of Faith, which I take as a fundamental principle of the Gospel. (The Articles of Faith are utterly brilliant).

@shadow01, when you say "our leader's eyes are less clouded than mine", I don't know you, but as a general rule, I cannot agree. They have many of the same weaknesses, biases, etc. as the rest of us. Sometimes it clouds judgment. Back to my earlier point, it is not always so clear cut. As gods in training, we have to tread on difficult ground for ourselves and not be led around by our noses.

1.96 Standard Deviations

Left Field:

A slight correction is in order: The church's essay indicated that the past justifications regarding the priesthood ban do not constitute church doctrine today. It did not say the ban itself was not doctrinal. This is a big difference.

Please also keep in mind President McKay, as president of the church, prayed to the Lord about lifting the ban on various occasions. On one occasion, President Mckay felt nothing. On another occasion, President McKay felt impressed NOT to lift the ban at that time. At another occasion, God impressed upon President McKay to quit asking about Him about it.

In other words, God permitted the ban to remain for a time but we don't know the reasons (yet). The church also indicated in its essay we don't have all the reasons why the ban was implemented per lack of historical records.

Don't lose your faith in the Brethren. They are authorized servants of Jesus Christ and hold all the priesthood keys for this dispensation. You can trust the Brethren and what they teach -- they are inspired by the Lord.

Henry Drummond
San Jose, CA

I know Darius and have always found him to be a strong loving person. He's been losing his hearing in recent years, but his handshake is still firm and people are drawn to him. I'm glad to see him receiving this wonderful recognition from his church.

Westland, MI

John K. Penn, the first of two African-American members of the quorum of the 12 apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ (WHQ: Monongahela, Pennsylvania) was born the son of freed slaves in Virginia in 1867. He was a member of that quorum from 1910 until his death in 1955.


Having faith sometimes means that we have to take a step or two in the dark. I don't know why the ban was not lifted until 1978, or why the earlier church leaders spoke so forcefully against blacks having the priesthood. One day this will be revealed to us.

I do have faith that these men are the leaders God has chosen. They are men with weaknesses, like all of us, but they have also been prepared by teir experiences to lead us today.

To me, there is no correlation between this and women holding the priesthood. That men carry the priesthood is clearly doctinal. It is in scripture. Also, I hold the priesthood so I can bless the lives of others. It is not a status thing. Those who demand the priesthood under the fallacy of "equal rights" do not understand it or its power.

Alpine, UT

@ Esquire:

It appears you are spreading some personal opinion as fact. Would you please provide some proof or evidence of these 2 statements of yours:

- That racism still exists in the Church today.

- That Joseph Smith said or even insinuated that a prophet isn't always a prophet. That statement of yours facilitates people with questionable testimonies to have an excuse in picking and choosing which commandments and which doctrine they will accept.

Rationalizations to not follow God's prophets have existed for as long as prophets have.

For those who would like actual facts rather than just opinions (which are being tossed about quite freely in this comment section) regarding the history of Blacks in the Church, they should go to lds.org and find the link to a very good article that articulates the issue in a cogent manner.

@ Left Field:

Per your suggestion, I thought about your comment for a minute. I came to the conclusion that your opinions on this matter are incorrect. As your moniker insinuates, perhaps you are indeed somewhere out in left field.

If people have a testimony, they will follow the prophets. If not, they won't.

Lindon, UT

To Left Field about revelation and the Priesthood:

Christ taught the 12 that he was only called to teach the House of Israel. Before his ascension, he commanded them to teach and baptize all men. Fast forward to Joppa.

Peter receives a revelation he does not understand. Cornelius, who lives 2 days journey away from Joppa also receives a revelation. Cornelius send his servants to Joppa to bring Peter to his home. Peter hears Cornelius' testimony and baptizes and confirms him and all of his household. Peter returns to Jerusalem, where some of the 12 think he has apostatized because of his actions. He repeats the whole story and the 12 can see this was the will of God.

Later, Paul receives a revelation which converts him and he becomes the great Apostle called to teach and baptize non-Jewish people.

Does this sound familiar? How else can God let his will be known to his children on the Earth, but by revelation. Thus President Kimball received a revelation so that there would be no question as to what was the will of the Lord.

Logan, UT

I would imagine that those today who have an issue with the Church not allowing women to hold the Priesthood would also find fault with Christ himself for not choosing any women to be a part of his 12 apostles whom He personally called one by one in the New Testament.

In spite of that fact, most people still ascertain that Christ wasn't (and isn't) racist or chauvinistic. To even insinuate such a thing would be ludicrous and irresponsible.

The members of the Godhead, who act in one accord, decide whom and when which people will hold the Priesthood of God. His timetable is not ours to question. Nor will I. Nor should anyone who has made a personal covenant with God to follow His prophets upon the earth.

Those prophets simply acts as God's mouthpiece on earth. If a person doesn't believe that, then perhaps membership in His church is not for that person... until further personal theological progress can be made.

Plano, TX

Be of good cheer Br. Gray - cancer is a tough go, but you're up to it.

Thanks for your many years of assistance in the church and for your own faithfulness, it wasn't as easy a path for you as most. God Bless.

Left Field
Longmont, Colorado

To those who have kindly disagreed with my initial comment, thank you for your polite discourse. To those who were less cordial in your disagreement, congratulations on getting that past the comments review committee. And to those who question why I stated that the ban, and not just the rationale for it, is no longer considered doctrinal, please note that Brother Gray, who contributed to the writing of the essay on LDS.org, is quoted in this article as saying that "I gathered enough information to suspect the priesthood restriction was likely of man and not of God..." Additionally, commenting on the Church essay, LDS historian Richard Bushman remarked that the church statement "drains the ban of revelatory significance, makes it something that just grew up and, in time, had to be eliminated." In other words, the statement repudiates not just the rationales, but the ban itself.

Springville, UT

@ Brio, to answer your question:

John A. Widtsoe, _Evidences and Reconciliations_, p.236–39

"This is an old question. It was asked of the Prophet Joseph Smith and answered by him. He writes in his journal, "This morning . . . I visited with a brother and sister from Michigan, who thought that ‘a prophet is always a prophet'; but I told them that a prophet is a prophet only when he was acting as such" (Joseph Smith, _History of the Church_, 5:265).

As for racism, if you don't think it exists, then you will never acknowledge it regardless of the evidence presented to you. It may usually be subtle, but it's there.

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