President’s Message: The Mormon Problem with Honesty

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In the various articles, blogs, and comments related to Mitt Romney’s Mormonism, the Mormon honesty problem has come up. “Why didn’t Mitt Romney talk about what Mormons really believe?” asked one writer. “Mormons feel it is okay to lie about their beliefs,” stated a radio caller.

So do Mormons lie about their beliefs?

All practicing Mormons must answer the question, “Are you honest in your dealings with your fellow man?” in the affirmative in order to be able to attend an LDS temple, so they are often puzzled by these statements and questions. But Mormon answers aren’t really the problem. The honesty problem has more to do with what Evangelical Christians are taught about Mormons than with Mormon belief itself.

In a survey done by FAIR, over 65% of responding pastors said that they had sponsored classes at their Church on Mormonism. Most people love their church and their pastors. They have seen their pastor spend countless hours in helping people and doing their best to teach their congregations. But in teaching about Mormonism, only 2% of those pastors actually invited Mormons to explain their beliefs. The rest relied on anti-Mormon ministries and publications for their information.

The goal of these professional anti-Mormon ministries is to keep people away from Mormonism. They want to protect the flock from any Mormon “sheep-stealing” missionaries. To accomplish their goal they sensationalize, distort, misunderstand, misread, and misrepresent LDS doctrine and scripture. It is from this group that we learn that Mormonism is a cult. It is this group that provides most of the information on Mormonism on the Internet. So when Evangelicals start conversations with their Mormon acquaintances, they already “know” Mormons belong to a cult, even if they can’t remember why.

On the other side of this equation, we have the Mormons. Mormons have a completely different way of looking at doctrine. They tend to classify doctrine into that which is important and that which is speculation. The important things are mostly reflected in the temple recommend questions and focus on core doctrines such as Jesus is our Savior, God is our Father, keep the commandments, God speaks to us today, and the Bible and The Book of Mormon are the word of God. Other important beliefs are that we lived with God before this life and after this life we will all be resurrected and enter one of the kingdoms of glory. These are all beliefs that define Mormonism.

Mormon speculation deals with doctrinal areas where there are hints in scripture, but no explanations. These areas are less sure, less defined, and frequently completely unknown. Questions in this area would include: what was it like in the pre-existence? Where did God come from? What exactly will it be like in the afterlife? Because these areas are unknown, a good practicing Mormon is free to believe and say anything he or she wants about them. We have a long history of commenting on these areas, yet most everyone understands that these are areas of personal opinion and speculation.

The honesty problem comes up when the Evangelical world and the Mormon world collide. The questions posed to Mormons come from a basis in anti-Mormonism meant to expose how the Mormons are weird and belong to a cult. Is Jesus Satan’s brother? Is there a God before God? Where does God live? Will you be creating your own planet? While you can find something written by a Mormon somewhere on all these items, these questions fall into the speculative area and are not core doctrines of Mormonism. This means if you ask several different Mormons, you will likely get several different answers. And Mormons have no problem with that.

When the religious issue came up for Mitt Romney, Mormon honesty became a factor. The real truth is that most of the discussions on Mormonism haven’t been about Mormonism at all, but a discussion of speculation, anti-Mormon issues, and bigotry. That is where we need a little more honesty.

Before closing, I would like to turn for a short time to another topic–the passing of President Hinckley. We all knew it was coming; we all knew this day would arrive. That doesn’t change the shock and surprise that comes with hearing the news of his passing, however.

President Hinckley was, to put it mildly, an inspiration for many people, LDS and not. His boundless energy and eternal optimism gave voice to the best to which we, as humans, aspire. He attempted to live his life in concert with the will of his Father, and he showed us how to be like Christ in our everyday lives.

President Hinckley will be dearly missed.

27 thoughts on “President’s Message: The Mormon Problem with Honesty

  1. Todd Wood

    But Mormon answers aren’t really the problem.

    I don’t know how the missionary program has been truly accurate. “We believe just like you; we are only adding a little bit more to what you already believe.” I think missionary presentations need to be completely revamped.

    But in teaching about Mormonism, only 2% of those pastors actually invited Mormons to explain their beliefs. The rest relied on anti-Mormon ministries and publications for their information.

    My encouragement to pastors is to go ahead and read the JST and the standard works. Listen to Conference. Read Ensign. Buy books from Deseret. These sources seem even more objectively concrete than “dialogue conferences.”

    Is there a God before God?

    I don’t know if some of these questions are unfair. God is clearly doing the work of apologetics in Isaiah 43. And I would assume that today’s prophet and apostles would delve deeply into what scripture witnesses. Ancient prophets and apostles were doctrinally bold.

    I would love more forthrightness by the authorities. I don’t expect it from Mr. Romney. I expect it from those who claim to be apostles, the direct sent ones from God Almighty.

    Let the apostles step up to the plate in their doctrinal engagement with conservative pastors/bishops/elders who are called to shepherds of the flock in order to eliminate the mounting assumptions and frustrations.

  2. Todd Wood

    I can listen to all the answers by FAIR. And I will continue to do so. But I realize that these answers don’t carry one scrap of official authority.

    So I plead for the clearly official laid out exegesis of LDS truth. This is my cry for honesty.

  3. Edwin Slack

    Todd Wood Says:

    So I plead for the clearly official laid out exegesis of LDS truth. This is my cry for honesty.

    The problem with this is that many of the things you want clarity on are not “set in stone”. You will find members all over the map on these topics. Even the Apostles may have very different opinions on them and that is all they are is opinions. Personally I prefer the Church to focus on core doctrines.

    On the other hand I rather do wish the Brethren felt it safe to talk about their thoughts and opinions. That they could do this without having to be misquoted or overquoted by member and critic alike. That we could hear their opinions and ponder them and form our own. Since fewer (percentage wise) of the Church today can know these men personally and talk to them casually, it would be a way for us to get to know them.

    But as long as there are members who want to take everything a GA says as pure doctrine instead of filtering it with the Spirit, and as long as there are critics willing to beat them over the head with every soundbite that they make, our leaders will have to keep their opinions and speculations to themselves and simply teach core doctrines; Faith in Christ and Him crucified, Repentance, Baptism, Service, and enduring to the end.

  4. Todd Wood

    Edwin, I agree.

    I am all about getting down to the fundamentals of God and the gospel.

    And yes, there is the potential for us all to be misquoted and overquoted. In fact, it happens all the time.

    But that is not going to stop me from being as clear as I can on who God is, what is the Gospel God delivered to us, and what God promises.

    I could lose my church family and have the whole town of Ammon, Idaho mad at me.

    But in my feeble attempts as a sinful messenger, I want to be strong and clear for God. When there is error on God and the Gospel, it needs to be addressed. It is that important!

  5. chad

    Todd

    I must assume you are referencing this passage (or part of it) from Isa. 43

    “You are my witnesses, says the Lord,
    and my servant whom I have chosen,
    so that you may know and believe me
    and understand that I am he.
    Before me no god was formed,
    nor shall there be any after me.” (NRSV)

    Anyone want to touch this in light of LDS doctrines on exaltation/theosis or on the sermon where J.S. declared the Father to once have passed through mortality – which from my outsider view of the Church seems to be the starting point for the Theogony concept in LDS circles…?

  6. C Jones

    Evangelical pastors have been stealthily sponsoring “classes” on Mormonism for so long that they have defined the terms being used in public discussions of Mormonism. But oh the irony– they now cry dishonesty when the media starts to actually ask real Mormons what they believe, and find it doesn’t resemble what the pastors have taught them.

  7. Mike Parker

    chad writes:

    I must assume you are referencing this passage (or part of it) from Isa. 43….
    Anyone want to touch this in light of LDS doctrines on exaltation/theosis or on the sermon where J.S. declared the Father to once have passed through mortality….?

    I recommend you start here:

    http://en.fairmormon.org/%22No_God_beside_me%22

  8. Christopher

    But in teaching about Mormonism, only 2% of those pastors actually invited Mormons to explain their beliefs. The rest relied on anti-Mormon ministries and publications for their information.

    The implication here is that there are only two sources for information on the Mormons–Latter-day Saints themselves and anti-Mormons. This ignores the large amount of scholarly literature on Mormonism available to individuals and organizations interested in learning and explaining to others the history and beliefs of the Latter-day Saints. Did no one in your survey actually acknowledge this literature?

  9. chad

    Mark

    From that Wiki – “Whether this passage is referring to false idols who represent deities that do not exist, or whether it refers to real divine beings who exist alongside and subordinate to Yahweh is not crucial for responding to this particular criticism. The passage specifically says “before” and “after” Yahweh. Since Yahweh has always existed, and since He will always exist no man can ever be exalted “before” or “after” Yahweh. All men who are exalted to godhood will be contemporaries of Yahweh, and will never precede nor follow Yahweh’s existence. They will also become part of the divine council over which he presides.”

    I think that the issue I wondered about was Theogony…it would seem that the fair wiki you cited argues against Theogony…

    If God has always existed and no man’s exaltation preceds Yahweh then this must be saying that there no exalted men before God…

    Specifically “All men who are exalted to godhood will be contemporaries of Yahweh, and will never precede nor follow Yahweh’s existence”

    This doesn’t speak much to the Father’s probation as per J.S. ideas nor does it seemingly portray the Father as being on who is Fathered by another god…

    Honestly this is one of the LDS doctrines that has me sort of remainging on the outside whereas if I thought there was a clearer understanding of God and His existence and godhood I would probably jump right into the baptismal waters tomorrow ;)

  10. Benjamin McGuire

    The problem with the Isaiah text as a prooftext for monotheism is that it wasn’t intended for such a use. The passage in Isaiah is contrasting YHWH with Ba’al – Ba’al became chief among the gods in the Canaanite pantheon through his defeat of the sea god Yaam (the Canaanite god of primordial chaos – remnants of this kind of tradition about YHWH linger in the Old Testament text). This created a situation in which if Ba’al could become the chief diety in the pantheon, then he could be replaced (a notion which is explored in the ‘Athtar myths, where ‘Athtar attempts to sit in the throne of Ba’al, while he is dead in the domain of Mot before his resurrection.

    YHWH on the other hand, does not attain his position of God by replacing anyone, nor is his position so unsure that he could be replaced at some point thus:

    “You are my witnesses, says the Lord,
    and my servant whom I have chosen,
    so that you may know and believe me
    and understand that I am he.
    Before me no god was formed,
    nor shall there be any after me.”

    When we try to apply this passage outside of its original intended context, we always run the risk of making wildly inappropriate eisegesis. Polemical statements (like the one Isaiah makes here) rarely form the basis for good theology.

  11. Scott Gordon

    Christopher,

    One of the difficulties in studying Mormonism is in finding non-polemic literature. There is some, but most people prefer the polemics. Yes, we did discuss as part of the survey what books should be studied. The number one suggestion was “The Godmakers.” Even the ADL denounced the film made from that book. Most of the books on Mormonism put out by Evangelicals are not representative of what Mormons really believe.

  12. Robert Fields

    I think Isa. 43:10 teache’s the exclusiveness of God. I do not see a distinct Father and Son in the verse at all. I see only a single God speaking. Where does the Father as a seperate being fit into the verse?

    Even so i think the verse present’s as much problem’s for the Trinity as it does the plurality of God’s. Those who wrote the creed’s had to explain the persons of God in some way. So what they did was to compare the person’s of God to the person’s of an actor played in a play. They knew the three were not mere role’s of God, but that’s what they said. It was a non-poly-theistic way to explain the persons. But if they are aware of each other that makes them like human person’s. The person’s of an actor in a play are dumb.

    I read a book entitled Understanding The Trinity by Allister e. McGrath. It spent some time going over the latin word persona. It had to do with an actor and his face mask’s and the role’s he take’s upon himself in a play.

    I do not see LDS as teaching men will become exclusive God before or after God. Most will become lesser god’s. Any LDS who could become an exlusive God would do so in a way that would not put them before or after God. Even Jesus in LDS belief is not before or after the Father as replacing him as God. The Father’s exclusiveness as God is not compromised. So they would not be formed God’s before, or after God.

    I am Community of Christ/RLDS. But i am seeking to develop answer’s that make sense to me on the subject. I read a lot of Anti-Mormon book’s and that forces me to think about the issues.

  13. Michael Bird

    This whole blog gets to where religion and society collide in general. There are some things that we probably can all agree on – and are almost fundamental to being human. There may not be many of them, but I am sure there are some. Incest, for example appears to be a universal taboo. Any fact checkers out there please correct me!

    Then there is religion/faith. Faith is, in my opinion, not a code of conduct. Faith is what you believe, what I believe, what he believes. It doesn’t have a whole lot to do with treating fellow beings with respect. It doesn’t have a whole lot to do with denouncing a set of behaviors because they don’t agree with yours. For example, the prohibition on the use of alcohol. The Bible doesn’t say a lot about that as far as I can tell. After all one of the core miracles was around the truning of water into wine.

    So, where I am going with this is that compassionate people, regardless of faith, can treat each other with dignity. Terrorists, fundamantalists of all persuasions all seem to treat members of other “clubs” with disdain – all claiming that their sacred work demands it.

    So is the fact that Romney is a Mormon bad for the country? No I don’t think so. It is at best neutral. After all, surely the best principle is not the principle of freedom of religion, it is the principle of freedom from religion.

    From this can you tell what my religion is? I hope not, my religion is my set of beliefs. Those with whom I worhip know and that, in my opinion, is how it should be.

  14. Brett

    Deep down we’re all curious about these metaphysical questions and long for a unified field theorem of Mormon Doctrine. Kudos to Mormon leaders for sticking to their knitting. It’s like spending your precious Super Bowl half-time in the locker room arguing over the optimal pigskin texture. Move on. We’ve got a game to play. Maybe once each finger has a Super bowl ring we can worry about these issues, but for now Christian discipleship has challenges enough.

  15. Paul

    FAIR is quick to label Evangelicals (be it pastors, leaders, or the easy-to-be-deceived flocks) bigots even when the atheistic NY Times thinks more carefully about casting Christians as such. Words like “bigot” are “killer” words and are excellent at dividing – it may even put you in the same place you’ve put “Evangelicals.” In fact, Mormon killer words may well be the reasons so many people find it hard to share common ground. If you don’t believe me, think of this very Mormon word: “Anti” (as in “anti-Mormon”). If someone is not already Mormon, or at least very sympathetic to Mormon beliefs. This preemptively blocks anyone from having a safe opportunity to question beliefs, doctrines, etc and find God on their own.

    Also, can FAIR accurately explain what happened here: I think that the Mormon church didn’t allow Blacks as bishops until the public gave negative attention to this racist and bigoted practice – wasn’t BYU refused play by Stanford (and possibly other schools and the ACLU?) Only after negative public attention did the LDS change its position. And yes, that is racism. Can early Mormons be called racist?

    My point is not to be “anti” or smear Mormons, or the faith. In fact, many of my closest friends are Mormons, who I love dearly. Mormons are good people – for sure, so please don’t take what I’m saying and box me in as Anti – which probably already happened.

    Pointing fingers at Evangelicals for the cause of Mitt’s demise is easy. Just like pointing fingers to overdressed missionaries walking down a street on a hot day as being lame. It’s an obvious target for ridicule. While I supported Mitt’s candidacy with financial contributions and a vote, I don’t like the whining against Mormons or against Evangelicals. The fact is that more Americans voted for McCain than Romney and Huckabee combined. However you lump it, the Republican Party is more liberal than it used to be. We don’t like to think it, or accept it…but that’s the truth of where people are at. That’s the political landscape. Times are changing. McCain got more votes because he’s more liberal as a Republican.

    For Romney to appeal as the super conservative was a waste. Conservatives would have voted for him anyway. They’re like a charity shot in Pool – it’s easy to win them over once they know you’re super conservative like them. The voters in the middle don’t want to be extreme, and Romney didn’t do enough to win them over. That’s where McCain cleaned up.

    Then the question of Evangelicals. I can tell Mitt’s a smart man, and he surrounded himself with smart advisors. I just wonder how many of his advisors were Evangelicals who were focusing on helping Mitt bridge cultural gaps? The reason this is significant is that the gaps between his beliefs and those of bible-based Christians are vast. Without a bridge, people will confuse the religious gaps for the political gaps. In short, Mitt’s message was confused. Instead, they did everything logically. His speech in December wasn’t enough – he was pandering, not building a bridge. That’s what was needed and he didn’t fully deliver (he said some things, but not in a way Christians understand it – that’s why an Evangelical tuned to Christian culture on the team would have made such a big difference.)

    Here’s a crack at how it should start:

    Dear Christians of America, my faith and religious convictions are things that some of you wonder about, so I wanted to share with you those things we have in common, and how it would influence my Presidency. I too believe in Jesus. I too believe in the teachings of the Holy Bible. I hold the word of God in my heart. My church, the Mormon church, stands side by side with Christians in every political position ever raised: from the freedom of speech to the sanctity of human life in the mother’s womb. I know there are some gaps in theology, but when it comes to your conservative values, we are on the same team. Moreover, I feel called to not only help this country get its economic act together, but also support our combined efforts in helping America stay strong by being the salt and light of our communities.

    As a bigoted Evangelical Christian, if I heard that, I’d say “ok.”

    A couple other minor points: Get real. Would LDS invite Pastors to come and talk to a Ward? So why would you hold them to such a standard and expect them to invite Mormon Bishops to speak to their churches?

    Lastly, give the meat, not the milk to non-Mormons. Be honest. Giving milk is insulting. Mitt gave milk, but the country smelled meat. That’s why he was seen as unauthentic. Moreover, Mormons really believe that nobody notices this. That’s self-deception, and by the way, people see through it.

    Here’s the link to the NY Times where they choose not to call Christians “bigots”:
    http://egan.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/02/07/mitts-funeral/

  16. Cindy

    No, Paul, I don’t think Romney needs to explain his religion, and I’m greatful he didn’t feel the need to. I voted for the man I thought would be the best leader for the country, not the man who would give the best explanation about his religious beliefs or the best sermon. In fact, Huckabee babbles so much about scripture and religion that it turns me off. It’s like listening to a comedic televangelist. (I got my fill of those in the late 70′s and early 80′s.) Oh, maybe Huckabee does that to distract from his failures as a father. Hmmm… Have you ever noticed that his family doesn’t seem to be around?
    Furthermore, you say Romney should have built a bridge with evangelicals. I give great credit to Romney for attempting to build a bridge with “Americans”: The Americans at war with terrorism, the Americans in Michigan who are without jobs, the Americans who are being forclosed on, the Americans who are without health care. I believe that if a person has focus on their own personal relationship with God, they’re not going to be too awefully concerned about someone elses personal relationship with God.

  17. Robert Fields

    I am not certain Mitt Romney could explain his religion adequately. Not that he could not share his basic belief’s. But to adequately communicate with an Evangelical audience he would need comparative religion’s, and apologetic training. I am not sure he has done an in-depth study of Evangelical concern’s that Mormon’s are cultic, heretical.

    He could affirm a belief in Jesus. But Evangelical’s will see him as sincere, but a believer in a false Jesus. To them a belief in that Jesus will only get him into hell.

    I do not lump all Evangelical’s in the same category. I understand Evangelical’s are six hundred million in number. So i hate to say that they are all responsible for Anti-Mormon ministries that spring up.

    I also hate to say Evangelical’s i meet are all bigot’s. That is true in some cases in regard’s to Mormon’s. But i have had good experiences with some Evangelical’s. It’s important not to confuse passionate disagreeing with the Restoration with hate prejuudice. One should meet the person before decideing they feel hate toward’s Mormon’s or Mormonism.

    LDS with 12 million plus strong have an educating the public problem. The LDS Church has a strong control on the activities of it’s member’s at church. So an organization like FAIR would have a problem being worked into as a welcome part of the LDS program. But in an Evangelical church they can invite Anti-Mormon ministries in to educate their people on Mormonism.

    With FARMS they were made a welcome part of BYU. But i doubt you can go to any LDS church and find apologetic material. The LDS Church does not promote such material, so it’s lucky if a member stumbles upon it in private research.

  18. Cindy

    No, Robert, Romney does not need to explain his religion, and Mormons do not need to explain their beliefs in a room full of evangelicals. If you’re interested in Mormonism, call an LDS missionary! Furthermore, if you’re interested in Catholisism, contact a catholic priest, or if you’re interested in budism, contact a budist munk. Point is, go work on your own personal relationship with God and quit worrying about Romney’s personal relationship with God. We’re a country with real issues and it’s the issues you need to focus on when electing a president. We need a President of the United States, not a Pastor of the United States.

  19. Scott Gordon

    Paul,

    I appreciate your thoughts and the time you took to put them together. Here are a few responses.

    Anyone is free to believe, disbelieve, or question Mormonism. That doesn’t make them an “Anti-Mormon.” But, when they start publishing, teaching classes, and producing videos about what “Mormons believe” it would be a good idea to really be talking about what Mormons believe and not about trying to spin something to put Mormons in the most negative light possible. Some of the material on Mormonism sounds like it comes from a Michael Moore movie.

    The Mormons didn’t allow blacks as Bishops. You are correct. But the outside pressure had gone away by 1978. It was the internal pressure that made the change. Yes, I can call early Mormons racist, just like I can call early Southern Baptists racists and early Methodists racist. We all lived in a racist society. But while Mormons were concerned over who had “the priesthood” some protestant denominations wouldn’t even allow African-Americans to sit in the pew. Most Americans still worship in segregated congregations. So, calling Mormons racist as if we were worse than others is another evidence for the double standard.

    I appreciate your sample speech for Mitt and I can honestly say I wouldn’t have a problem with your version. But, I think it is wrong to ask any candidate to explain his religious beliefs. Asking Mitt is insulting. Name one other presidential candidate who had to explain his religious beliefs. Even Kennedy just said that they wouldn’t influence his presidency. That is the same thing that Mitt said. But, people wanted more.

    As for asking a Mormon to speak in Sunday School, that is exactly how I learned about Judaism. My Mormon Sunday School teacher asked the local Rabbi to come in and talk about it. He was treated as the expert. He wasn’t contradicted or corrected while he was there or after he left.

    This differs from how Mormons are treated. We spend our time talking with Evangelicals about so called important Mormon Doctrines that aren’t even discussed in church. It isn’t that they are secret; it is that they are not doctrinal and therefore, not discussed. How important can a teaching be if we don’t teach it?

  20. Robert Fields

    Cindy-I find with Evangelical’s it help’s me to understand where they are coming from. I have found exposure to their anti-Mormon stuff, and comparative religion’s a blessing. As an RLDS person i do feel i have to be prepared to answer a lot of basic question’s.

    But i wasn’t thinking Romney needed to explain anything. A politician does not have time for getting into comparative religion’s and apologetic’s. They are busy running for office.

  21. Brent Hartman

    Scott,

    I don’t think you can say the outside pressure had completely gone away in 1978, not that internal pressure is any better for getting God to give revelation.

    You had some very imbarrassing incidents at that time that were public relation nightmares for the church.

    There were numerous lawsuits filed subpoenaing President Kimball, which were tied to the negro issue. One of them was by Douglas Wallace, who along with Dr. John W. Fitzgerald, was the subject of Salt Lake City police surveillance outside the city limits of Salt Lake, and in which one officer was accidentally shot and paralyzed.

    The church denied any involvement, and that prompted the officer who had been shot, a Mormon, to speak out. This is what he said:

    “I would like to thank Spencer W. Kimball for his incorrect press release concerning the police involment combined with the LDS Church’s efforts to restrict Douglas A. Wallace from the temple grounds, specifically the tabernacle, on April 3, 1977. His denial of these actions is wrong. Any man who can take such actions and still call himself a prophet deserves more than I to be confined to this wheelchair.” (Salt Lake Tribune, January 18, 1978)

    Maybe you view this public relations nightmare as internal pressure, but from my perspective the views of those on the outside looking in is outside pressure. I just don’t buy that there was no external pressure to end the priesthood ban.

    By the way, I’ve been requesting a copy of this revelation for quit some time. I know that it exist, because O.D.-2 mentions it. I’ve always felt like it would be important to see what the Lord said on such an important topic, and what changed to allow this doctrinal shift. Do you know where I can find this revelation, so I can read it for myself?

  22. Robert Fields

    I am not sure the revelation was ever recorded. I am certain he felt he had a manifestation. But i am not certain he felt compelled to get someone to write it for him. The declaration may be all that was ever written.

  23. Keller

    Brent,

    You won’t be able to find any revelation in the scriptures, so OD-2 is no different than any other sacred writing. Rather all we have is a record of various revelations. Some revelation is a co-creative process between man and God. Men ask the questions and formulate responses under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost. So I believe that OD-2 captured the essence of what was confirmed in the hearts and minds of the prophets, seers, and revelators on that day in 1978.

    However their experience transcends what can be communicated with mere words. If you need more information I recommend reading the latest Spencer W. Kimball biography and then humbly praying for your own spiritual witness.

    I can’t comment on your suggestion that there was a church conspiracy to control the Salt Lake police to prevent Wallace from entering the Tabernacle. I am not familiar with what kind of legal pressure Wallace could have exerted on the Church. I am not familiar with the details.

    Such social pressure had such little success in changing the Church’s attitudes prior to then, and in fact played a counterproductive role. Any lawsuit against the Church would have been small potatoes compared to what they already faced.

    Here is non-Mormon Jan Shipps’s understanding on why the ban was lifted.

    A revelation in Mormondom rarely comes as a bolt from the blue; the process involves asking questions and getting answers. The occasion of questioning has to be considered, and it must be recalled that while questions about priesthood and the black man may have been asked, an answer was not forthcoming in the ‘60s when the church was under pressure about the matter from without, nor in the early ‘70s when liberal Latter-day Saints agitated the issue from within. The inspiration which led President Kimball and his counselors to spend many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple pleading long and earnestly for divine guidance did not stem from a messy situation with blacks picketing the church’s annual conference in Salt Lake City, but was “the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth.”

    So consider me underwhelmed by the speculation that social pressure played a role in lifting the ban. I can see where it might have prepared some members to accept the revelation when it came. Humans latch on to conspiracy theories as stories used to explain the gaps in their world.

  24. Robert Fields

    I doubt he liked the ban anymore than it’s critic’s. But without feeling God removed the ban he would have been forced to continue it. I think the ban in the 1960′s was wrong. But the seed’s of re-thinking the ban was probably planted in the 60′s and early 70′s. But LDS leader’s who wanted the ban gone never claimed to usurp the role of the LDS prophet. But they were very happy to accept the declaration, but might not have been without that re-thinking.

    I am Community of Christ/RLDS. And we had the ordination of black’s after the end of the Civil War. I was LDS until 2005. I never liked the ban, but i never thought the church wrong to wait for God to lift the ban. I did not think how he could do it since God inspired the ban. I thought the ban was as hard to overturn as the law of Moses. I did not think it could be done.

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