Race, folklore and Mormon doctrine

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • coltakashi Richland, WA
    March 7, 2012 7:06 p.m.

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

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

  • ThoughtfulTeen Salem, UT
    March 6, 2012 9:13 p.m.

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

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    March 6, 2012 11:42 a.m.

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

  • Sarah Nichole West Jordan, UT
    March 5, 2012 3:31 a.m.


    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.

  • Missus Midvale, UT
    March 3, 2012 10:02 a.m.

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

  • 2 bit Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 2, 2012 11:50 a.m.

    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.

  • Mr. Bean Salt Lake City, UT
    March 2, 2012 10:36 a.m.

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

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

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

  • Neanderthal Salt Lake City, UT
    March 2, 2012 10:25 a.m.

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

  • Alfred Salt Lake City, UT
    March 2, 2012 10:14 a.m.

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

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

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

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    March 2, 2012 7:41 a.m.

    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.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    March 1, 2012 8:55 p.m.


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

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

  • Gemimi Bakersfield, CA
    March 1, 2012 6:34 p.m.

    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.

  • Bebyebe UUU, UT
    March 1, 2012 5:49 p.m.

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

    So how do you know the church speaks truth now?

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    March 1, 2012 5:43 p.m.

    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.

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    March 1, 2012 5:37 p.m.

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

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

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

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

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

    I'd love to hear your feedback on this.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    March 1, 2012 5:15 p.m.


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

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

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

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    March 1, 2012 4:37 p.m.

    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?

  • Capella Bakersfield, CA
    March 1, 2012 3:56 p.m.

    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.

  • JP71 Ogden, UT
    March 1, 2012 3:56 p.m.

    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.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    March 1, 2012 3:01 p.m.

    Bill in Nebraska,

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

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

    If P, then Q.

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

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

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

  • lds4gaymarriage Salt Lake City, UT
    March 1, 2012 2:15 p.m.

    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.

  • Convert Cedar City, UT
    March 1, 2012 1:18 p.m.

    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!

  • Kouger Lehi, UT
    March 1, 2012 12:53 p.m.

    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.

  • wstebar Atlanta, Fayetteville, GA
    March 1, 2012 12:27 p.m.

    You are spot on!

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    March 1, 2012 12:26 p.m.

    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.

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    March 1, 2012 12:24 p.m.

    eastcoastcoug says:

    I 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

  • RanchHand Huntsville, UT
    March 1, 2012 12:21 p.m.


    It's very easy to outline the possible motives of a "god" who thinks exactly like you do.

  • TheProudDuck Newport Beach, CA
    March 1, 2012 12:10 p.m.

    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.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    March 1, 2012 11:51 a.m.


    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.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    March 1, 2012 11:48 a.m.

    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?

  • shark Buena Vista, VA
    March 1, 2012 11:37 a.m.

    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.

  • Dee J Portland, OR
    March 1, 2012 11:31 a.m.

    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.

  • MapleDon Springville, UT
    March 1, 2012 11:25 a.m.

    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.

  • Dee J Portland, OR
    March 1, 2012 11:17 a.m.

    @ 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.

  • happy2BGrandma Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 1, 2012 11:12 a.m.

    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.

  • Riles Midway, UT
    March 1, 2012 10:41 a.m.

    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.

  • AlphaSmith LINDON, UT
    March 1, 2012 10:20 a.m.

    @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.

  • XelaDave Salem, UT
    March 1, 2012 10:15 a.m.

    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

  • slpa1 West Jordan, UT
    March 1, 2012 10:04 a.m.

    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.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    March 1, 2012 9:49 a.m.

    " 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.

  • steve1 Alpine, UT
    March 1, 2012 9:47 a.m.

    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.

  • Grundle West Jordan, UT
    March 1, 2012 9:27 a.m.


    "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!

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    March 1, 2012 9:22 a.m.

    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 do?

  • DSB Cedar Hills, UT
    March 1, 2012 9:13 a.m.

    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.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    March 1, 2012 9:01 a.m.

    The Articles of Faith - #2:
    We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam's transgression.


    anyone else's descendants for that matter.

    Professor Bott needs to read th Articles of Faith.

  • ute alumni Tengoku, UT
    March 1, 2012 9:00 a.m.

    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.

  • Thinkin\' Man Rexburg, ID
    March 1, 2012 8:59 a.m.

    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.

  • Demosthenes Rexburg, ID
    March 1, 2012 8:57 a.m.

    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.

  • Fern RL LAYTON, UT
    March 1, 2012 8:46 a.m.

    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.

  • Rapunzelthebrave HELOTES, TX
    March 1, 2012 8:41 a.m.

    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.

  • Leo Femedlers El Paso, TX
    March 1, 2012 8:36 a.m.

    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.

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    March 1, 2012 8:28 a.m.

    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.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    March 1, 2012 7:44 a.m.

    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.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    March 1, 2012 7:40 a.m.


    I 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.

  • iron&clay RIVERTON, UT
    March 1, 2012 6:51 a.m.

    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.

  • rbgntx Kaufman, TX
    March 1, 2012 6:51 a.m.

    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.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    March 1, 2012 6:30 a.m.

    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.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    March 1, 2012 6:09 a.m.

    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.

  • anti-liar Salt Lake City, UT
    March 1, 2012 4:53 a.m.

    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."

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    March 1, 2012 4:36 a.m.

    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.

  • Ben H Clearfield, UT
    March 1, 2012 12:10 a.m.

    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.

  • barndog48 AMERICAN FORK, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 11:11 p.m.

    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 question
    when exactly did the brethern receive this commandment and where exactly is it recorded?

  • Lermentov PROVO, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 10:24 p.m.

    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.

    Feb. 29, 2012 10:18 p.m.

    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 teachings.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Feb. 29, 2012 9:35 p.m.

    "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 scriptures somewhere?

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 9:03 p.m.

    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.

  • barndog48 AMERICAN FORK, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 8:28 p.m.

    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 that policy.

  • Steven Harper Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 8:27 p.m.

    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.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    Feb. 29, 2012 6:45 p.m.

    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.

  • James B. Young SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 6:44 p.m.

    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.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 6:36 p.m.

    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".

    Feb. 29, 2012 6:32 p.m.

    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 some sense.

  • A voice of Reason Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 5:45 p.m.

    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.

  • Thinkman Provo, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 5:35 p.m.

    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.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 5:34 p.m.

    I reckon Utah Sen. Chris Buttars is a BYU fan?

  • Ron Hilton Holladay, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 5:13 p.m.

    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 right.

  • LValfre CHICAGO, IL
    Feb. 29, 2012 4:58 p.m.

    " 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?

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 4:50 p.m.

    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.

  • Canyontreker TAYLORSVILLE, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 4:41 p.m.

    @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.

  • AlphaSmith LINDON, UT
    Feb. 29, 2012 3:44 p.m.

    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.