Thank you, Nate, for direct words of wisdom on this issue.The issue
is raised only in an effort to claim that Mormons are racists in 2012, yet that
is ridiculous. Mormons include blacks all over Africa. There are also
Polynesians, Asians, and many. many Latin Americans, including a large number of
American Indians, whose ancestors were being recruited into the Church for more
than a hundred years. Back in the 1960s and 70s, when the attacks on the Church
over the ordination policy were most intense, I and hundreds of other
missionaries were baptizing and ordaining Japanese people, and others were doing
the same in many other countries. When you send your young men and women into
countries all over the world to live and work, and to learn to love the natives
of each land, you are teaching them acceptance of cultural and racial
differences. I don't see any other major denomination in America that has done
so much to create personal connections across racial lines. And that has
included bringing missionaries from Kenya and Mongolia to Idaho, where I used
It's just a thought here, but I've not seen it voiced at all in these many
debates abut blacks not being allowed the priesthood, so I'll voice it now.
Perhaps it wasn't anything about the black people, but instead the rest of
society. Everyone had racial prejudices back then, and I'm sure there were
plenty of people who would've had a beef with the church allowing black people
the priesthood. Not church doctrine, feel free to correct anything that might be
Why did you guys reinstitute the 200 word limit? It promotes only soundbite
responses and prevents the presentation of evidence and supporting quotes.
Convert,You're misunderstanding the point. The point is not that the
policy was folklore, the point is that the various explanations and opinions
about the policy are folklore. No official statement has been made explaining
the reasoning behind the priesthood ban, but the ban was official policy. As
President Kimball said, every prophet that came before him prayed about it, and
every one of them received the answer that it was right at that time. There is a
big difference between doctrine and practice. Practices, like whether or not
shellfish are okay to eat, change. Doctrine, like the firm belief that Jesus
Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, does not. The practice of
forbidding certain lineages from the priesthood changed, as many practices over
the millenia have done.The leaders of the church are not saying that
there was no reason for it, and they aren't saying that the policy itself was
folklore. They are merely saying that Heavenly Father has not told them the
official reason for it, and that any explanation members may give is purely
speculation. We all have opinions on the matter, but those opinions aren't
doctrine. Those missionaries and members who told you the seed of Cain idea were
giving their opinion, or an opinion they heard from somebody else. They were not
giving you official doctrine, because no official doctrine has ever been given
on the subject. Because we are not the Father, the priesthood ban is hard for us
mortals to understand. We don't know the reasons behind it, and we aren't
comfortable with the idea of it, so we try to come up with explanations that
make sense to us. They may be true, or they may not be true. But to claim that
those explanations are official doctrine is wrong. That is what the
leaders are speaking out against, members giving their own explanations as fact
and not as merely speculation and folklore.
Wonderful article!!!! I am a middle aged, devoted, active, white female Mormon.
The 1978 revelation has blessed many, many lives. What a blessing it was to
meet African/American missionaries in the MTC as I prepared for a mission in
I guess at this point we readers have to decide which is more important today...
to pick apart the traditions of the past... or focus on today.I
think it's more important that the church states very clearly that racism is not
acceptable now and in the future. You can't change what happened in the past,
so why try? The past is regretable, they've said that, but what more can they
say or do than to recognize it and commit do better now and in the future?Realise the past can't be changed. People who insist on that are
expecting the impossible. We CAN change how we act now.... and that's where the
focus should be (IM0) Maybe more posters should focus on what the
church and it's members are doing NOW... instead of what people did before
1970's or even before today's generation was born.Personally I'm
happy with the Churches current very clear stated position on race. So I'm not
going to dewll on the past and only focus on what happened in the past.Every culture, every group, every organization, every country, every church,
that has been around long enough to have a long history, has regretable things
in their past. The IMPORTANT thing to me is how they are doing today.... and
is it BETTER than they did in the past.
@Virgil: "I'm sure it counts as folklore too, but somebody once told me that
they thought that the church wasn't yet worthy to have African American members
until it had been sufficiently purged of racism."The truth of
the matter is that a black person was becoming more and more difficult to
identify. Many Blacks are mixed, with black and white parentage. Are they
black or are they white? The only solution to that dilemma is for the Church to
accept all males, including Blacks into the priesthood. There was no other
workable solution for then President Spencer W. Kimball. The only problem is,
that it came to late... It shoulda happened back in the day when the church was
in its infancy. Looking at it backwards, it kind of makes some
The situation is truly ironic. Church members are admonished to not question
utterances of general authorities or the general doctrine of the Church. Now
that the Romney issue has brought the Church to the attention of the questioning
public... all doctrine is being subjected to scrutiny. This could be an
@AlphaSmith: "Bott was right about that. I've been a member all my life and
I can't have the priesthood. I'm a girl."In that regard, the LDS
Church is not alone. Most all churches prohibited females into their priesthood
now or in their history. This has changed a bit over time for some.The problem is, when guys like McConkie and Holland have to change their
positions. Why, if they are considered inspired? Did they not read their copy
of Book of Mormon wherein it clearly states: Âblack and white, bond and
free, male and female; Â¦ all are alike unto GodÂ (2 Nephi
26:33). And, perhaps the inclusion of 'female' could indicate they will soon
Bill - you need to look at your timeline again. The Proclamation was written as
a political statement. The evidence is 1) the timing - as a response to e very
first American laws allowing gay marriage; and 2) the very specific use of
gender language instead of editing it for brevity (using "sons and
daughters") instead of children.It's very telling that Pres.
Packer changed his description of the Proclamation to "a guideline" from
a revelation.It may get presented as doctrine and added to
scripture. We'll support that as a church an bear the indignity and backtracking
(as we are now with race) until It is eventually removed because the arc of the
universe bends toward justice.
lds4gaymarriage:The Family - A Proclamation to the World was issued
in 1995, thirteen years before Proposition 8 came into being. Proposition 8
came into being after the courts found it unconstitutional for the people of
California violated the state constitution by their vote. Then Proposition 8
was put into effect to change the California Constitution to make it legal to
recognize marriage between a man and a woman. The courts are still ruling
against it. The reason because the courts had already said it was okay and
authorized the marriages, which they should not have knowing that it would be on
the ballet in November 2008. Again, you have crossed the line. It is not in
violation of scripture. It is our duty to protect as much as we can the santity
of the Family which same-sex marriage does not do.By the way it is
still scripture whether you want to accept it or not. I wonder what you would
do this April if the First Presidency brought it before the Church membership to
be sustained as part of the Doctrine & Covenants. Would you accept it or
Wait a minute. Professor Oman, this article's author, is a law professor? Can
the DN offer a community editorial rebuttal to his piece here? This highly
subjective, emotive opinion piece. I'll stack mine with meaty quotes,
references and real data to support the differences between folklore and
doctrine. You know, the kind of "Evidence that demands a Verdict"
stuff, (sorry Josh McDowell ).I've got more actual historic data
just in McConkie's "Mormon Doctrine" and J.F. Smith's "Doctrines of
Salvation" than any naval-viewing post-1978 musings will offer. How about
some documentation, actual quotes and LDS official writings to expand this
subject with some depth?I didn't see any racism in my family's
treatment of black Mormons. But then I never met one until Alan Cherry spoke at
our BYU Sunday School class. It was awkward and relieving, painful and
revealing. But hearing a black LDS male give his personal perspective cleared
up my concerns at that time. It would serve this topic well if you actually
heard from someone who has lived on both sides of 1978.
"As has been stated many times...the brethren do NOT know the reason.
"So how do you know the church speaks truth now?
Voice of Reason: I actually understood your comments and was just clarifying if
anyone misunderstood. I really appreciate your thoughts and comments. I know
others don't and they probably don't like mine either. That isn't my problem.
I agreed with everything you said and in some ways you actually said it better
than anything I could say. If I was off with my comments than I apologize.Thank you again for your input and clarification.
RedShirt, please reread what I wrote. I stated, IN CAPITAL LETTERS, that I was
refering to CIVIL marriage - "The current Church POLICY opposing
CIVIL same-sex marriage is not based on doctrine." The
teachings against homosexuality are correct since they are based on scripture.
Forbidding the civil government to extend the civil right of a civil marriage in
our civil/secular society is a clear violation of 1 Cor. 10:29 and D&C
134:4.The proclamation, is not scripture since it wasn't sustained
via common consent as is required. The last paragraph of it was used to
"rally the troops" in fighting CA's Prop. 8. In CA, gays had an
existing right to marry and about 18,000 DID marry prior to Prop. 8's passing.
All used their religious beliefs regarding homosexuality as justification to
infringe upon the rights of gays via 8. Christians of all stripes were in open
violation of 1 Cor. 10:29 in passing Prop.8. Because I believe that
that paragraph violates the scriptures, I do not allow it to hang in my home.I'd love to hear your feedback on this.
lds4gaymarriage:The problem with your statement is based entirely
that the Church should not be involved in moral issues. Again I state as the
Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency have stated and that is that this
whole same-sex marriage is to redefine marriage, which is a moral issue not a
CIVIL RIGHTS issue. That is the problem and anyone siding otherwise is siding
with Satan where he dictates what is good and what is evil. The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints has the same responsibility as we do. You will find
that what is written in General Conference and given by the Apostles and First
Presidency does CONSTITUTE Scripture.Secondly, you will find that
everything in the The Proclamation to the World, The Family is supported by
scripture throughout. You have even stated such that you don't agree with
temple marriage and that homosexuality is a grievous sin. Your whole point is
that we shouldn't be involved in the laws banning same-sex marriage. However,
we would be negligent as a Church and as a people if we did not.Again we don't know why the ban on the Priesthood was done. We don't know why
it was lifted. Fact is that is was instituted. The Lord did not approve
otherwise until 1978. Everything else in speculation. The Church will not
accept same-sex marriage at all. It goes against the doctrine of Jesus Christ
To "lds4gaymarriage" I think that you missed a significant document that
the First Presidency released called "The Family: A Pproclamation to the
World". The first line states "We, the First Presidency and the Council
of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,
solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and
that the family is central to the CreatorÂs plan for the eternal destiny of
His children."If marriage between man and woman is the type of
marriage ordained by God, what does that mean same sex marriage is. If it isn't
from god, then it is from......If it is scripture that you want to
show that the doctrine of marriage is only between man and women, then read
Moses 3:24 "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall
cleave unto his wife; and they shall be done flesh." I don't see where it
says that 2 people of the same gender can marry.Also tell me this,
if 2 people of the same gender marry in the LDS, what is the point? According
to the scriptures, homosexual relations are sinful. Haven't you read Leviticus
18:22 "Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is
abomination." or 1 Corinthians 6:9 "Know ye not that the unrighteous
shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor
idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with
mankind". Seems like even if they did marry in the church sex is out of the
question, so what is the point?
Folklore it ain't, doctrine it was. And your recommend would not have been
signed if you didn't support "the Prophet and the Brethren". End of
spin zone, Prof. Boot.Your spin has spun outta control. But the
brethren can just ask you to stop speculating and pontificating. That's not
your area, according to the Jeffery Holland interview cited here. He says all
controversial issues are a matter of conscience and faith. I agree with him
there, as I wasn't at the Cross but I base my eternal salvation on its
efficacy.We can argue over whether our salvation was purchased in
the garden or at the Cross from a textual perspective, but we'll agree neither
of us were there. That may sound like a cop-out, but if you don't have the
video or a signed statement from Joseph, it really is s matter of faith.Now if the church leaders will find a way for members to be kinder to
apostates, that will really speak volumes about the love of Jesus.
Âa church that has decisively abandoned its policy of racial
exclusion.Â This doctrine was not abandoned. It was replaced
by revelation. The Church has never stated that this doctrine was false or
wrong. The Church has stated that we should not speculate on why the doctrine
existed. There are many hard doctrines that have not been revealed because we
are not capable of understanding them at this time. Remember, even Christ
forbade preaching the gospel to the gentiles for a time.
Bill in Nebraska,I'm not sure how you understood my comments
specifically, but in case I would like to clarify again. I do not presume to
know anything more or less than what has been given to us to know. I have
contemplated this and have thought of a few distinct possibilities. I even
believe that certain principles likely are part of the real reason- but I
absolutely wouldn't be surprised at all to learn someday that none of them are
valid or relevant.The only reason I referred to such scenarios here
isn't to say what it is, but to say that if those are possible then one cannot
conclude anything wrongful done by God or His church.If P, then
Q.P = It's possible God wasn't punishing people unjustly, but doing
what is best for all of His children.Q = No valid claims can be made
against God or His church.If P is true, then Q must be true. This is
a perfect argument. God is someone other than us, therefore we do not know if
His rational was moral/just. We do not know, therefore it is possible God acted
morally/justly. Because it is possible, no valid claims can be made against Him.
People aren't saying 'the LDS Church is possibly wrong' but claiming it IS
wrong. This is the problem I have. Unless you are God or authorized to speak on
God's behalf, no claims can be made against the church- also, no claims can be
made for the church either (unless it came from the church of course).Thus we can't dispute, making it "more or less" than what God has
given to us. Assuming to know more than what God has given you is false, taking
away from what God has given you is false. I'm sorry if I gave you the wrong
This article reminds me of the need we all have to differentiate between what
constitutes official doctrine and what is policy and what is tradition.FAIRLDS states that only those things contained in the Standard Works and
those statements sustained in general conferrence by Common Consent (the
priesthood declaration and the banning of polygamy) are OFFICIAL doctrine. They
go on to quote Harold B. Lee and Joseph Fielding Smith stating the same thing.
They stated that if they said anything contrary to the scriptures, that the
scriptures were to be obyed and their own words were to be ignored. The
prophets have also stated that if any man, no matter their position in the
Church, says something that is not outlined in scripture, it is only an
OPINION.Esquire was right saying that "Non-doctrinal ideas creep
into practice and then become de facto 'doctrine'." This is what I believe
happened. It's like the story of lab monkies who were sprayed with a hose when
one of them tried to climb a certain ladder. The monkies began to enforce a
ladder ban and beat up any monkey trying to climb the ladder. One by one, the
monkies were replaced with other monkies who were never squirted and they were
beaten up for trying to climb the ladder. Eventually all of the monkies were
gradually replaced and the group still enforced the ban eventhough they had no
reason why. This seens to be the case with the priesthood ban.The
current Church POLICY opposing CIVIL same-sex marriage is not based on doctrine.
Scripture forbids LDS from using their religious beliefs as an excuse to
infringe upon the rights and liberties of others (1 Cor. 10:29, D&C 134:4).
Eventually, the Church will drop its opposition once it faces what the
scriptures say and realizes that keeping that policy harms the Church. Look
what the Church did regarding illegal immigration.The bottom line is
that unless a statement comes from the scriptures, it's just an opinion.
I was raised a Protestant. I reject the idea that from the 19th century
Protestants the 1830 Church borrowed its policy not allowing blacks to hold the
priesthood. Furthermore, the Church has the most profound and
complete records on earth. I reject the idea that we don't know how, who, when
the policy against blacks came from. Nonsense!There are very
technical ways to justify anything you've done. Leaders and members of the
Church taught that the descendents of Cain, meaning African Blacks, are not to
hold the Priesthood.There are very technical ways to deny anything
you've done. Now leaders and members of the Church are proclaining that policy
of 148 years was just folklore and without merit or source.As an
active, committed convert of 36 years I hope the Church authorities will clarify
not only the reasoning behind the policy (whether it be race or revealed truth),
but why it was rescinded.I was raised in a Protestant home where we
were taught all forms of racism were wrong. The racial prohibition the Church
had in 1976 was a real hurdle for me in deciding to be baptized. I knew the
Restored Gospel was true and accepted the missionary's and members explanations
of the Seed of Cain. In 1978 I was relieved when the Revelation came. Now, 34
years after that I hear General Authorities denying there was a purpose or
reason for the prohibition?This isn't the Catholic Church or a
Protestant Church or any other church. This is THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST. We
know from whence our doctrine cometh. So tell the truth, or as much as you and
the records show!
As a convert, I came into the church at the height of the ban. And through the
years, I have read many takes, interpretations, positions in articles and books
on the subject. I believe the issue still represents a thorn in the side of the
Church, especially now with Romney in the race for the White House (no pun
intended). It's even more problematic for the Church to recant its position
especially when the origin of the blacks issue cannot be ascertained. However,I
personally have taken a more open-minded and prayerful approach about the whole
thing and notably the accusation that the Church is discrminatory in its
practices. Like most loyal and faithful members, I would rebut that with the
understanding - based on the doctrine that only through Jesus Christ will
everyone, inlcuding those who did not know about Jesus Christ, has a chance to
be saved - that the LDS Church is the only church that has that reality as its
mission, goal and objective made real and possible through temple ordinances and
baptisms/work for the dead. The Church's mission therefore involves the
salvation of ALL of mankind - not just some, hence not discriminatory. In such
an inclusive and all-embracing reach of the restored gospel, I have gained great
comfort in its truthfulness and marvel. Righteousness - not color - is the
Lord's basic requirement for his kingdom.
You are spot on!
I really enjoy that people can't accept WE DON'T KNOW. The reasons for the ban
is because that is what was directed by the Lord to his chosen mouthpiece. It
was upheld by each succeeding mouthpiece until President Kimball received the
revelation to end the ban and to give the priesthood to all worthy males. That
should be the end of the story right there.I have my own speculation
which allows ME to accept the ban as it was. I do remember that President
Kimball stated that all preceeding presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ
Latter-Day Saints wrestled with the same question. They never got the answer he
did. Why, we don't know. Why was it instituted, we don't know. Why was it
stopped, we don't know. In the end the answer is that it was stopped, the LDS
Church has moved forward and so should we.
eastcoastcoug says:@rgbntxI was at BYU as a student in June
1978. We were all extremely excited and happy with the news of Blacks receiving
the Priesthood. I thought it was long overdue. I agree with Pres. Hinckley that
you cannot be a racist and be a disciple of Christ. ---I
agree with Pres. Hinckley that you cannot be a bigot and be a disciple of
Christ. fixed that for you
@VoR;It's very easy to outline the possible motives of a
"god" who thinks exactly like you do.
It's too convenient to call what a prophet says "folklore," when what he
said is no longer convenient. The answer is made that prophets aren't
infallible, and sometimes "speak as men," but whether one is doing so at
a particular moment is never clear at the time. And people who decide he is
"speaking as a man" on a subject, before the Church institution comes to
that conclusion, typically get hammered by the Mormon faithful. It's dangerous
to make a premature diagnosis of "folklore." This is why
Mitt Romney will get absolutely hammered on the race issue if/when he is the
Republican nominee for President. An ordinary decent American would have been
expected, by 1978, to make some public objection to the indefensible policy.
But other Christians have no idea just how harshly the Mormon tradition judges
apostasy, and how easily it expands that "apostasy" label to cover even
relatively small disagreements with the conventional wisdom about non-essential
doctrines.I mean, Howard Dean left his church over a dispute about a
municipal bike path. Many Americans take their religion similarly casually, and
will not likely understand what would motivate someone like Mitt Romney to go
along with the unjust pre-1978 priesthood and temple policy without making so
much as a peep. They just don't understand that peeping costs Mormons a lot
more than it costs the average casual American Christian.
iron&clay,I agree that no one can completely fulfill this void
of questions, except for God. This is true. However in seeking after good things
and so on- I do not believe it is wrong to examine some of the principles
involved.The main points in my previous comments were that no one
can justify complaints while the possibility exists of such reasons. If God
could have been acting justly, then no complaints have validity. But
as to whether the possible 'reasons' are worth examining, I offer this-Some facts which we do know:God is perfect and perfectly just and
perfectly moral.Our government isn't perfect. God's is.In the end,
God's inevitable plan is that all worthy males can obtain the priesthood.God is an unchanging God.These are all true. If God and His laws
are unchanging, then the policy change was not a result of God's laws being
changed, or God 'changing His mind', but because of changes in us. We learn line
upon line, precept upon precept. Whatever reasons God saw in the world that He
caused us not to practice something, and then later to practice something- those
are known by Him and not by me. I don't know if it was to not condemn others
unjustly, cause one or all groups weren't ready, or anything else. All I know is
that criticisms stating that our 'believing we have the perfect truth' isn't
possible because 'we changed from wrong to right' on this issue are invalidated.
Why? Because the possibility of scenarios where this change was just and morally
right- and because we are an imperfect people who can't adequately address the
decisions of a perfect being. If all of us were perfect, there wouldn't be
anything disputable in the first place.
Lets look at this from a different perspective.We know that the
children of Israel have received blessings and promises based on familial
lineage. We all accept that, and fully believe in it.How much
harder is it to believe that the decendants of Cain, or some other ancient
person could have the denial of blessings based on famial lineage?If
everything has an opposite, doesn't that mean that where a familial line can be
blessed, another familial line can be cursed?
To LDS liberal and Tekekaromatagi: The 2nd article of faith doesn't really
apply. No one said blacks were "punished" for their own sins even if
that is what it seems like. The situation is more like the Lamanites who
dwindled in unbelief because of their lineage, but it wasn't their fault. And
all blessings will be restored to them eventually. Or of the scriptures such as
Numbers 14:18 "The Lord is longsuffering, and of great mercy, forgiving
iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the
iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth
generation." Not that the 3rd and 4th generation were guilty; just that they
were born into an unbelieving lineage so they did not receive gospel blessings.
But it will be made up to them.To Steve1: Please don't confuse
blacks with African Americans. Millions of blacks have never been to America.
The priesthood ban applied to those in Africa and elsewhere, not just the US.To everyone: There does seem to be precedent for certain races not
receiving the priesthood. Only the Levites had it in BC times (not even the rest
of Israel), only the Jews as a whole until after the resurrection. AND, read
Abraham 1:26-27, where Pharaoh cannot have the priesthood because of his
lineage. That is quite clear. Joseph Fielding Smith cited this in his book The
Way to Perfection. I'm not saying this is or should be the reason, just that it
might be related, and I wonder why no one else has brought it up.
Frankly, I'm very tired of the press fixating its dead-horse beatings on
abandoned LDS Church practices and policies. I wonder how many BYU
professors/Church lay leaders/institute teachers, etc. the author attempted to
sucker in before he got Professor Bott to take the bait?Here are
some feature articles I'd love to read (but don't really expect to see anytime
soon): - Given the ongoing controversy of the cost, extent, abuse
and administration of our national welfare system, an extensive discussion of
the LDS Church's welfare system, how it works, why it works, and how it
preserves the dignity and confidentiality of its participants. -
Given our dire fiscal situation and increasing national debt, how the LDS Church
counsels its members regarding debt, living within our means, and emergency
preparedness. - Given the inherent challenges of maintaining a
quick-response disaster relief program at a national level (FEMA), how the LDS
Church has been able to mobilize members and resources as first responders to
natural disasters, and how partnering with such organizations could be a
successful policy option for federal and state governments in the future.I'm sure we could come up with more, but I'm not holding my breath.
Some of the comments given so far are much closer to folklore and reflect a lack
of understanding than the original premise for blacks not holding the priesthood
that we as members of the Church adhered to and supported for over 130 years.I'm concerned with the fluid support given to our modern-day prophets.
First they're right and we raise our hands to sustain them. Then a few years
later, we discredit them--calling their firm pronouncements as folklore. What's
next, plural marriage? It's easy to say all of the prophets from
President Brigham Young to President Harold B. Lee lacked understanding (and
hence, inspiration). 99% of the Christian world agrees. But such comments
trounce the idea/belief that the prophet speaks for the Lord and we're to follow
him.It certainly doesn't inspire confidence to anyone looking in
from the outside. Instead, those comments raise the question as to whether a
prophet's word is inspired and reliable.
@ slpa1: you ask "Was there prejudice based solely on the African
lineage?" Excellent question. It would seem to me the answer to that
question is "yes," and would correspond to the practice of slavery. To
my knowledge, only blacks of African descent were subjected to slavery in
America post 1776, and one of the great questions of the early 19th century was
related to the humanity/equality of blacks of African descent (as opposed to
other ethnicities on your list). Consider the statements and attitudes of some
of our greatest statesmen of the day, including Abraham Lincoln, towards blacks
of African descent, and it's evident that the attitude that African blacks were
somehow an inferior race was prevalent even among abolitionists, as ridiculous
and repugnant as these attitudes are today. Joseph Smith was a
strident abolitionist. One of the reasons for the problems of the early LDS
Church in Missouri was the impact that its growing abolitionist voting block was
perceived to have in Missouri, where a significant portion of the population
wanted slavery expanded into the state. Somewhat ironic, given the subsequent
position on blacks and the priesthood.
I have read many apologetic and speculative answers over the years regarding why
the full blessings were withheld until 1978. The only authentic answer was that
we just didn't know. I also understand that those that were in attendance in the
Temple when Pres. Kimball shared the revelation said it was one of the most
spiritual experiences they had ever witnessed. Elder McConkie was there--thus
his comment that all previous explanations were null and void. He knew that
despite all of his great knowledge and intellect, One Greater was still in
charge. We can all try to explain those beliefs away with history, etc, but we
just have to trust in a Loving Father. Thank you for your insightful article.
As a faithful convert to the church, I want to emphatically state that Professor
Bott's comments do not represent my views on race and priesthood restriction.
They are reprehensible and I don't understand how such blatant perpetuation of
false doctrine can be taken out of context as he claims. God is no respecter of
persons and we ought not be either. I wholeheartedly believe that at some point
the church will officially apologize for that misguided policy (not doctrine as
clarified by President David O. McKay)perpetuated by imperfect men struggling to
make sense of the world in which they lived. Certainly we have come close with
some comments by general authorities but in order to move on it is necessary for
the church itself (not just one apostle or general authority) to completely
reject the basis for the policy as set forth mistakenly by past church leaders
and admit that prejudice was the likely impetus for the change to what was in
the beginning a very inclusive church. That's just PR 101 folks. There is no
need for a revelation to repent of past errors.
@Canyontreker, the old saw that women "have" the priesthood, but don't
"hold" the priesthood is semantic gaming.The day I can
baptize the investigators I teach and bless my own children is the day you can
come talk to me about it.
This position was shared openly in my daughters SS class less than a month ago-
when I complained it was politely brushed off and was "no big deal" and
we wonder why things get perpetuated and we wonder why some people leave-
luckely my daughter told me and we had a nice long talk and looked up recent
positions of the Church on such things so she could see for herself what we
believe- but as she pointed out most of the other kids in the class just let it
slide and we will wonder 15 years from now why these myths keep pushing along
Maybe someone posting here can answer this:Prior to 1978, the LDS
Church did not allow blacks of African descent to hold the priesthood. At the
same time, however, it did allow Latinos, Polynesians, Maoris, and Australian
Aborigines to hold the priesthood, some of whom had very dark skin.From this, it would seem that the ban wasn't based on skin color, but on
lineage.Was there prejudice based solely on the African lineage? I
ask that because it seems the Church certainly embraced other cultures where
dark skin was prevalent, but not the African culture.
@Cats" They did not have the priesthood for whatever reason God
had."Or man had... the church noted it has no answer as to why
it was in place. Probably because the old reasons were rejected and there's no
way they can justify that God wanted segregation that'd be acceptable to the
general public. They're floating in a position where they want to condemn
racism, but want to ignore their own racist policies' history because they don't
want to condemn their early leaders. This issue is not going to go away as long
as they keep trying to have it both ways. Huntsman has condemned the priesthood
ban as wrong, perhaps Romney will be forced to do the same.
There is a general misunderstanding that God commanded that African-Americans
not have the priesthood. I see nothing in church history that speaks to this
point. Joseph Smith ordained African-Americans to the priesthood. As far as I
can tell, that practice stopped with Brigham Young. Why? No one knows. That
does not mean God commanded the practice stop. Was there racism in the Church?
Of course there was. Racism and prejudice were everywhere, and they still are.
People, regardless of religion or position, are not immune to it. Look at some
of the infamous Supreme Court rulings for example, at the incorrect prejudices
that existed in some of the most educated minds of the time. It seems to me
that people are ascribing today's values to the 1800s. It was a very different
world, thank goodness.
Re:Esquire"Professor Bott and others should not try to explain
or rationalize the blacks and the priesthood issue. All the rationalizations are
based on fiction, including the Cain and Abel link"..."Mormons should
say that they did have a wrong-headed policy and they regret it, but modern
Church leaders fixed it and they welcome people of all races...."Aaaahh the richness of irony!
My testimony remains unshattered. I still wonder, however, what to think when I
hear that earlier leaders spoke "with limited understanding." When I was
a kid, the blacks-and-priesthood thing bothered me a lot, especially when I
heard not just whispers and "folklore" but outright across the pulpit
teachings from General Authorities about this issue--teachings that I am now
told were "inadequate" or even "wrong." No one dared say a word
against those teachings because those who did got the boot. What's a poor member
To Cats - you, also, are making assumptions that may not be correct. You say
"all we know is that is wasn't the right time." How do you know that?
How do you know it wasn't the result of mistakes by Brigham Young and later
leaders? Joseph Smith ordained at least one, and possibly more, black people to
the priesthood. For all we know, it was the right time, but was delayed because
of wrong thinking. Such a thought doesn't bother me at all. I
believe we're here to figure a lot of stuff out, individually and collectively,
per God's plan. That includes even the very top religious people. If it shatters members' testimonies to conceive that leaders make mistakes
that get corrected with time, thought, human enlightenment, and hard-won
revelation, that's a pretty shallow testimony indeed.
The Articles of Faith - #2: We believe that men will be punished for their
own sins, and not for Adam's transgression. =============== oranyone else's descendants for that matter.Professor
Bott needs to read th Articles of Faith.
poor lds liberal and lfavre:both of you and others that have such negative
feelings towards anything LDS would be wise to focus your energy on other things
and keep your stress levels in check. It is very obvious that your continued
remarks come from a negative perspective. Don't worry, be happy.
If the church's policy before 1978 was racist, then so is the Old & New
Testament policy that excluded anyone but men of the tribe of Aaron from holding
the priesthood. Same diff.
Heaven help us if we define any organization based on opinions expressed by its
members! If a statement does not have the official stamp of the organization,
it is not logical to take it as representing that organization. It should be
taken for what it is, a personal opinion.
As a matter of reporting the history I lived through: In the 1960's there was a
lot of turmoil due to 'racism.' To this day, the whole meaning of the word
'racism' escapes me. Some people have said that even to believe that there ARE
different races among humans is a racist attitude. I have long been interested
in genealogy and family heritages, also in genetic heredity. Perhaps I am a
racist. But do I hate anyone? I sincerely try not to give anyone the false
impression that I judge anyone harshly either individually or collectively.
That is my disclaimer, now on to my history:I was in Jr. High and
High School during the 1960's. I was also a Mormon all my life. I knew of the
priesthood and temple attendance ban for blacks along with all the folklore
explanations of "Why?" I also heard that there was a prophecy that
blacks would one day be given the priesthood. Also, that the prophet, David O.
MacKay, had very dear friends who were black, and would have loved to open the
priesthood to them if he had the slightest inclination that that was what God
wanted him to do.I was elated when the announcement came in 1978,
but I was aware that not everyone felt the same way, even though I didn't know
anyone personally that left the church at that time.Years later I
moved to Layton, and eventually became a close friend and visiting teacher in a
family with some "Ethiopian" heritage. I was privileged to hear how
David O. MacKay was a close friend of their family and had even kissed the
sister on the cheek.I also have a cousin who married a very lovable
black woman, and they have two lovely daughters. I admire every black person I
have come to know. I think there is a little humor in the fact that, since
pigmentation is usually a dominant characteristic, my cousin's children look a
lot more like their mother than like their Danish ancestors, for example. I know that prophets are not necessarily inspired 100% of the time. I
have been reading in the Old Testament about temples, notably 2 Samuel chapter 7
where King David decides he wants to build a temple, a house of the Lord. The
prophet Nathan says, in effect: "Sounds good to me, go ahead and do it."
Then Nathan prays, has a revelation on the matter, and is forced to tell King
David, "No, you can't have that honor, but your son Solomon will be allowed
to do it."I feel The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
is doing the right thing in condemning racism, and hope I am not really racist
just because I see color. I certainly mean no harm in it.
Actually, the LDS church did allow many blacks to hold the priesthood prior to
the revelation - in Brazil. The population was (and is) so mixed racially in
that large nation that many, many worthy male members that would have been
called "black" in the United States were given priesthood authority.
The church opened the first temple in Brazil just a few months after the
revelation making it clear that God was fine with blacks having the priesthood.
Prior to that temple opening it was very clear that the church was growing
through its racially mixed membership there - with most of the membership
considered "black" by American standards.I think it is a
very good and wise thing for any group to study their own history - the entire
history. If we ignore history we are doomed to repeat our mistakes.
I find the discussion between Peter and the Lord quite intriguing when Peter was
asked to take the Lord's gospel to the "Gentiles". Peter was taught in
vision that the "unclean" items on the table spread before him was
clean. And although Peter initially balked at partaking of the food, he was
taught that he was not to question the Lord's direction and specifically not to
call something unclean that had been made holy by the Lord. During
Peter's ministry (remember the miracles--walking on water, seeing the Lord
reattach a man's ear that Peter had cut off, etc) he walked by the Lord's
side,was given keys by his Master, and was taught by Him. The gospel at that
time was not to go to the Gentiles. But shortly after the Death and
Resurrection Peter was asked to do something differently. Peter exercised
faith--and knowledge I believe, and was willing to follow the Lord's counsel
even though it was virtually opposite of what he had experienced up to that
point.Blacks and the Priesthood are no different. In His infinite
wisdom, the Lord allows individuals, people, and nations to receive the added
blessings of His gospel. If we believe that the men sustained as Prophets,
Seers, & Revelators are who we sustain them to be then we, like Peter, have
the opportunity to exercise our faith when the Lord sees fit to reveal more to
men on earth.
Dear Tek in Saudi Arabia:You are making the assumption that the ban
was a punishment to blacks and that they were being "punished" for some
sort of original sin. There is no reason to believe that. They did not have
the priesthood for whatever reason God had. There is no reason to believe it
was a punishment. There could be any number of reasons for it including the
possibility that the Church members just weren't ready for it yet. It could
have had to do with the political environment at the time the Church was
struggling to survive and get established. All we know is that it
wasn't the right time. Why it wasn't the right time, we have no idea. We can
speculate all we want to, but there's no reason to assume it was a punishment.
At one point I asked an institute teacher about the ban. There was a theory
that I had heard. The response was that in the late 60's a general authority
made a similar statement to explain the ban. The first presidency pulled him
aside and told him that he was teaching false doctrine. So I stopped the
explanation.And the stuff about the seed of Cain. Men will be
punished for their own sins and not for Adam's transgression (a reference to the
2nd Article of Faith in case you haven't heard it). We are only accountable for
what we do. Not for anything that our ancestors may have done.
@rgbntxI was at BYU as a student in June 1978. We were all extremely
excited and happy with the news of Blacks receiving the Priesthood. I thought it
was long overdue. I agree with Pres. Hinckley that you cannot be a racist and be
a disciple of Christ. Some members are a bit like the early Jewish
Christians who had a hard time with the idea that there were more members of
other ethnic backgrounds. Peter had the vision which taught him that "God is
no respecter of persons". I urge my fellow LDS to keep that
concept in mind and ditch the folklore as Elder Holland requests.
No Later-day Saint today should ever try to analyse why the blacks were not
allowed to receive the Priesthood before 1978 revelation.Our Creator
is the only one who knows.If I was black, and I sincerely thought it
was necessary to know the answer to the above question, I would have to get down
on my knees and ask why blacks were denied access to the Priesthood sans 1978.
No mortal could answer for God. Quit trying.
I had the missionary visits while stationed in Hawaii with the Air Force. When
the subject of the priesthood came up the missionaries told me the
"descendants of Cain" story to explain the exclusion of Blacks. I was a
student at Weber State when the revelation was announced on a Friday. It was
commonly referred to by many LDS students as "Black Friday". This
reference went on for several years. Now the church is saying this is just
folklore and real reason is unknown but to church leaders and God. Sounds like
an attempt to, pardon the expression, "whitewash" history.
Professor Bott and others should not try to explain or rationalize the blacks
and the priesthood issue. All the rationalizations are based on fiction,
including the Cain and Abel link. It is utter nonsense and violates the core
principle of the Second Article of Faith. It was never a divine doctrine.
Instead, Mormons should say that they did have a wrong-headed policy and they
regret it, but modern Church leaders fixed it and they welcome people of all
races. End of story.
Bott reminds me of Skousen, who also veered off topic and talked endlessly about
things that weren't "core". He had a large following as well in his day
(still does). We love to try to explain our beliefs in a way that makes sense
and the fact is we often just don't know why certain things are. It would be
better to just say that to our friends and children so when they are confronted
with new information, they don't take the folklore as doctrine and have a crisis
of faith. I told my son years ago when he recounted something from a
Seminary teacher that I found "off topic" that there are only a small
number of core things in our doctrine that really matter: existence of God, He
is our Father and Christ is our Savior, plus faith, repentence, etc. The rest is
fun to speculate on but we really don't know. It's important to study and learn
all we can both inside and outside the church. Keep a balance in what you study
and an open mind. This is why I like the mission field outside the
Western US: people are more exposed to others not of our belief and have lots of
different ideas and focus more on topics like Faith and Charity
("core"). I'm appalled by the bloggers here who talk about non core
beliefs (eg. folklore, Conservatism as the only true way) as dogma.
I love this quote by former Arizona Senator Karen Johnson. It seems applicable
to the present topic: "It's important to understand that the LDS
Church does not claim infallibility for its church leaders. There is no Pope.
Its leaders, including the Church President, are mortal men subject to mortal
weakness and error. Many LDS Church members, however, have the mistaken belief
that every word uttered by a church leader comes straight from God. This
infantile attitude excuses church members from having to think for themselves
and figure things out."It also can result in the perpetuation of
false doctrine from generation to generation. No wonder official
church scripture admonishes members to "study it out in your mind," and
emphasizes that "by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know [or verify, if
you will] the truth of all things."
People know the truth, they know that this isn't about our claim to be the true
church being negated by making 'wrong choices'. Because I and others have
outlined the possibility of alternative explanations- such as "God isn't
imperfect, but people were. God gave the people the best thing they could
handle" and so on. Critics might not like the answers they are hearing- but
the fact remains that such answers can rationally explain the possibility of the
Church not having done anything wrong and still being God's true church on the
Earth today.Point is, when you have possibility, yet you still fight
the church- all you've done is expose an unwillingness to listen. These
explanations have been available since long before today. And those who would
still argue these things post hoc are only saying worse things about themselves
in doing so. One can only preach ignorance and lies, or the truth. So far, all
I've read from critics sure aint the truth.God wouldn't have
restricted anything unless it was helping everyone in that time, as my first
comment outlined more clearly. If one can't accept the possibility of that, then
the truth clearly isn't what one is out for.
When I was serving as the ward executive secretary when I lived in Alaska, we
were discussing this concept in our ward Priesthood Executive Council meeting.
Two of the members of that group were African-American, the High Priests Group
leader a a member of the Stake High Counsel. We were discussing concerns that
the ward mission leader had about a mixed race family working with the
missionaries. One counselor in the Bishopric began to gave a short doctrinal
thesis, much like Professor Bott. But the conversation was ended by the High
Priests Group leader who said, "this does not bother me. If it did, I would
not be sitting today with you today."Sometimes we are over
apologetic where we do not need to be. If people do not want to be friendly
with Latter-day Saints, they will find any excuse that they can grab hold of.
If it were not for race and the priesthood, it would be something else.
Sometimes we go way over the top to apologize for something that we had no
control over. That is what Bott did.
dear cats you wrote:Dear Barndog48: As has been stated many
times...the brethren do NOT know the reason. President Hinckley made that clear.
Adam offered sacrifice and after MANY DAYS he was approached by an
angel and asked why he was offering sacrifice. He stated, "I know not save
the Lord hath commanded it." There are MANY things that we don't know the
reason for except that they are commandments. We do not know the reason for the
priesthood ban, but we are required to follow the Lord's commandments. It is
important that we accept these commandments and sometimes we just don't know the
reason. That is what faith is for. I have learned in my life that there are many
things I don't understand, but I have learned to trust Christ and follow him in
all things.my questionwhen exactly did the brethern receive
this commandment and where exactly is it recorded?
I talked with one of the first black Church members to receive the priesthood.
We both felt in our hearts that the reason they couldn't hold the priesthood for
a time is that the members of the church couldn't handle it. They were still a
young sapling, and the racism in the U.S. was pretty strong. It would have, we
felt, destroyed the young Church. When the time came that the church was strong
enough, the ban was able to be lifted. Just an opinion, but it seems more
generous than some of the other ones out and about.
I have taken multiple classes from Brother Bott. He uses many scriptures,
quotes, and church resources to make his case. Everyone gladly accepts that God
favored the Jews in biblical times, but when God withholds something from a race
we cant accept that there is a reason. Im ashamed of the fact Blacks were
denieed the priesthood because I have never seen a reason why they would be
considerred inferior.I dont understand this and many other things but I dont
think Brother Bott should be treated as rogue professor when he bases his
argument on teachings from the bible, lds scripture, and latter day prophet
re:Cats"There are MANY things that we don't know the reason for except
that they are commandments."At this point we don't even know,
(the church hasn't said), when, how and who was commanded to deny the priesthood
to blacks in the first place. Don't you find that puzzling? How many commandments do we not know how they originated? We know how
polygamy originated, we know where the Ten Commandments came from, we know what
Jesus taught, we know where the principle of tithing came from etc. Which
prophet received the commandment to not extend the priesthood to blacks, when
during Jospeh Smith's time it wasn't that way? Is the commandment in the
Dear Barndog48: As has been stated many times...the brethren do NOT know the
reason. President Hinckley made that clear. Adam offered sacrifice
and after MANY DAYS he was approached by an angel and asked why he was offering
sacrifice. He stated, "I know not save the Lord hath commanded it."
There are MANY things that we don't know the reason for except that they are
commandments. We do not know the reason for the priesthood ban, but we are
required to follow the Lord's commandments. It is important that we accept
these commandments and sometimes we just don't know the reason. That is what
faith is for. I have learned in my life that there are many things I don't
understand, but I have learned to trust Christ and follow him in all things.
The fact is that the LDS church did not allow persons of African descent to hold
the priesthood prior to 1978. If brother Bott was bringing up old reasons for
the ban that brother Holland and others regard as folklore, then please tell us
what was the official church justification for denying these individual the
priesthood prior to 1978. There must have some reason for the church to have had
If the sentiments and substance of Oman's beliefs could be promulgated in
Utah... and take root firmly in our rapidly diversifying culture... We might
finally have men (and women) to match our mountains.
Never had Botts as a teacher but somehow I learned the justification for the
priesthood ban was related to the "mark of Cain" and/or blacks not being
"valiant" in the pre-existence etc. I'm sure a majority of U.S. Mormons
continue to believe it. Thankfully, over the years I've done my own
research on the topic and discovered the facts. It is long past time
for the church to correct the mythology and report accurate church history. At
the time the ban ended, I didn't know what McConkie had written about the
priesthood ban so his statement meant nothing to me. And, being young, I didn't
take the time to track down what he said so I could know what to unlearn. The
facts need to be laid out, the history needs to clear, the record set straight.
I don't know Flashback and would not indicate his comments are based on any
motive except the best. However, his comments are, behaviorally, a form of
'commenter gotcha'. Anyone can find the article, and find commentaries by those
who heard him. Yes, he was given the benefit of the doubt. Bott's words are
correctly reported. I would caution all that we can lean the other
way too far by engaging in 'persecution complex' defense. The Church and its
leaders are mature, grown, responsible, and good as an institution and as
individuals. Where the LDS like Brother Bott or the leaders make mistakes,
correcting the record is absolutely essential.The LDS history, like
the history of all American and their institutions, is problematic. Why?
Because our history as a nation and as a people and as variety of cultures has
been problematic. To single out LDS leaders of the past as somehow being
outside of the cultural and social milieu of America seems problematic. They
were Americans living in an era with all the particular issues of the day. Why
would LDS leaders be different than other Americans living in the same era?Brother Bott needs to be counseled, probably already has been, by his
file leadership. The rest of us can learn from it and move on.
I think the problem is that people can look back and say "Jim Crow laws were
racist" so what they feel the LDS church is supposed to do is to condemn the
previous leaders and say that the priesthood ban was wrong. That would, however,
disagree with the claims like the first half of "the church is true, the
people are not" and "the prophet will never lead us astray".
I'm sure it counts as folklore too, but somebody once told me that they thought
that the church wasn't yet worthy to have African American members until it had
been sufficiently purged of racism. Looking at it backwards, it kind of makes
I have my beliefs and no one can change them but me. I believe in fairness,
freedom, and justice. I believe the LDS Church is God's true church teaching the
most peaceful plan of happiness, the most love to our families, and the most
wonderful doctrines capable of existing. With something I hold so dear, it is a
concern when others attack those beliefs. But even more troubling isn't the
hatred people have with the church- it's that they do so in hypocrisy.The world condemns a past of polygamy and non-violent policies involving race,
but about free agency and not about punishing innocent people- while that same
world practices promiscuity, child abandonment, family abandonment, wife
"swapping", lynching, and every other despicable, evil, secret
combinations of murder and the worst evils- while their future generations
attempt to hold us accountable of something somehow worse than their own
actions- while we were promoting peaceful doctrines instead. One may disagree
about their morality, but FOR those times- for those people- those doctrines
promoted peace ACCORDING to the people they were for.It might not be
the most 'right' thing to deny one child desert- but if it prevents both your
children from getting themselves in a dangerous situation, taking away the
desert could be the best choice available- not because you as a parent aren't
perfect, but because your children aren't.The truth is up to an all
knowing, all seeing God to know. Every member of the human race sees only the
most minute fraction of that picture- yet it's easy to be quick to judge each
other. There is a reason Jesus Christ commanded us not to judge each other. We
aren't perfect and we don't have a perfect picture of everything. That's just
how it is.
Bruce R and Jeffrey Holland both understate what is patently obvious.The policy of not giving black men the priesthood, nor allowing black women
entrance into the temple wasn't misunderstood or inadequate. The policy was
racist, pure and simple and the scriptures for the LDS church including the Book
of Mormon (see 2 Nephi 5) and the Book of Moses and Abraham each espouse racist
doctrine.I wish LDS members would study their church's history as
much as they study the Book of Mormon and attend the temple.
I reckon Utah Sen. Chris Buttars is a BYU fan?
Bott's comments were at the very least insensitive and politically tone deaf,
but his biggest error was to present his views as representing authoritative
church doctrine. Having said that, I hope the church will continue to allow
sufficient academic freedom to explore difficult issues in church history and
doctrine in a responsible way. Also, Oman's closing swipe at Romney, while
clever and more politically correct, betrays a subtle reverse racism in its own
" IF Bott was quoted in context and correctly then he deserves to get his
fanny kicked. If he was quoted out of context and had made it clear to the
students that these were some of the old theories as to why the ban and quoted
them as part of the class (like quoting McConkie), then the Washington Post
deserves to get their fanny kicked."I couldn't agree more
Flashback. My girlfriend, a current black mormon, recently talked to another
member about the priesthood ban just this weekend ironically, on Sunday. The
girl had shared with my girlfriend the same story ... that white's weren't ready
for it yet and it really was a blessing in disguise.It's this kind
of irrational thought and surrendering of the conscious that irritates me the
most. You can accept that as an answer? How many other bishops have shared
that story over the years?
It would be interesting to see the entire transcript of what Bott said or listen
to the whole unaltered tape. IF Bott was quoted in context and correctly then
he deserves to get his fanny kicked. If he was quoted out of context and had
made it clear to the students that these were some of the old theories as to why
the ban and quoted them as part of the class (like quoting McConkie), then the
Washington Post deserves to get their fanny kicked.Gotcha journalism
at its best.
@Alpha Smith "I've been a member all my life and I can't have the
priesthood. I'm a girl."You have the Priesthood. For some reason
women don't "hold" the Priesthood. Yet, they are still set apart by the
laying on of hands to work under the direction of the Priesthood. Women still
have the responsibility to teach and preach and lead prayers in congregations.
They receive all the blessings and responsibilities to work in the Temple.What happened to the blacks is far different. Black women still don't
"hold" the Priesthood, but receive the highest ordinances of the Church
and Temple. But, many black women did not have this privilege before 1978
either. I am so thankful we all do now.
Nice article, Nathan. Well done."God has always been
discriminatory."Bott was right about that. I've been a member
all my life and I can't have the priesthood. I'm a girl.