Three Mormon Myths About Blacks and the Priesthood

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February is black history month. Many white members of The Church will say “who cares?” or “good for them!” or even “aren’t they over that yet?” and move on about their daily tasks. That’s unwise. With the presidential election in full swing, our faith and our history of race relations has come under the spotlight of public scrutiny and the intensity will continue to grow. As that happens, I am hopeful that we as members are educated to move the discussion forward instead of saying things that are harmful to the Church and hurtful to many of our members.

The United States has a long history of difficult race relations. My home teacher served in the Air Force in the South, and was shocked when he found it unlawful to share a cab off base with his black friend. They couldn’t go into the same restaurants or get their hair cut at the same barbershops. This was in the days of segregated restrooms and water fountains. Most of us, as members, have never had state laws dictating where we are allowed to go and with whom we are allowed to congregate. People can’t tell by looking at you if you are Mormon.

Many of us live in areas that are not racially integrated, so we have never had to examine our long-held beliefs and traditions. Just to give a hint of my thoughts on this–having one or two non-white members of your ward doesn’t really allow you to claim you have a lot of experience in race relations. The reality is that most Mormons live in the Western United States, which has a much lower concentration of blacks. In those those states where LDS are 5% or more of the population, the percentage of blacks does not reach the national average. (Source: US Census data)

USA          12.6%
Idaho        0.6%
Wyoming   0.8%
Utah          1.1%
Arizona      4.1%
Nevada      8.1%

Even in California, which has a large population of Church members, the percentage of blacks is only 6.2%, still below the national average. If one factors in how many blacks actually attend Church with you, it highlights the reality that you probably don’t frequently interact with black Americans. This translates into never needing to examine your traditions and beliefs. Even if you don’t have a racist bone in your body and you love all people as children of God, you may still not realize that some things you say are hurtful or simply untrue.

Here is a list of three myths that are often repeated, and simply must stop.

Myth #1: Blacks couldn’t have the priesthood because they had the curse or mark of Cain

This belief was commonly held by many Protestant denominations in early American history. It was often used as a justification for slavery and reached its peak about the time of the Civil War. Many people who joined the LDS Church brought this teaching into the Church with them. Most Protestants later changed their talking points on this to say the children of Cain were wiped out during Noah’s flood, so the cursing came though the flood through Ham. Therefore, the more modern phrasing of this belief is the so-called “curse of Ham.” But the curse of Cain continued to be taught in the then geographically isolated LDS Church.

While the scriptures do talk about a mark being put on Cain, there is no scriptural explanation of what that mark may be or how it relates to the priesthood. One member of my high priest quorum suggested the mark is likely to be male pattern baldness.

There is a scripture in the Book of Moses talking about the children of Canaan being black (Moses 7:8), but there is no given connection between Cain and Canaan. Just because a name sounds similar, doesn’t make it the same.

Even in the Book of Abraham, the priesthood restrictions were not put on “blacks”, but on the lineage of the Egyptian Pharaoh. This was at the time of Abraham, long before Jesus Christ. If you were alive at that time, it is likely you would have been restricted from that priesthood as well.

Myth #2: Blacks were neutral or less valiant in the pre-existence

This terrible teaching was repudiated by none other than Brigham Young himself. Unfortunately, it continued to be perpetuated by many members throughout our history, and even ended up in books authored by Joseph Fielding Smith.

In an interview, apostle Jeffery R. Holland said the following: “One clear-cut position is that the folklore must never be perpetuated. … I have to concede to my earlier colleagues. … They, I’m sure, in their own way, were doing the best they knew to give shape to [the policy], to give context for it, to give even history to it. All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong.” (Source: http://www.pbs.org/mormons/interviews/holland.html#1)

For those who are troubled by the fact that explanations given historically are now being repudiated, we have to look at the words of Bruce R. McConkie, who was originally a proponent of those theories. He said, “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

“We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.” (Source: http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=11017)

Myth #3: The best example to explain blacks not having the priesthood comes from the Levites. The Levites were able to hold the priesthood, while others were not. This shows how God restricts people of certain lineages from receiving the priesthood just like he did with blacks.

While it may be true that Levites could hold the priesthood while others could not, it has little to do with this issue. The ancient practice where only one group is able to exercise the priesthood and work in the temple has little in common with modern times when everyone is able to hold the priesthood except for one group. Repeating this claim as an explanation doesn’t provide adequate support for the argument, and the claim completely falls apart when we recognize that Joseph Smith, Parley P. Pratt, William Smith, and Orson Hyde all ordained blacks to the priesthood in the 1830s and 1840s. The explanation is not helpful and can be hurtful.

So why couldn’t blacks have the priesthood? Gordon B. Hinckley stated, “I don’t know what the reason was. But I know that we’ve rectified whatever may have appeared to be wrong at the time.”(Source: http://www.abc.net.au/compass/intervs/hinckley.htm)

Men are slow to change in their beliefs. Even in the New Testament, Peter had to be lifted beyond his prejudice to sit and eat with the Gentiles. I hope we all take the time to familiarize ourselves with this topic and not perpetuate the hurtful and harmful myths that have been repeated for so long.

It is worth an hour or two of our time to read several articles on Mormonism and race, so we can help those around us. It will help us relating to African-Americans who join the Church. It will help us in teaching our children in such a way that they won’t make hurtful assumptions. It will help us in keeping our children from falling away as they learn about this past practice. Finally, it will help us in explaining our beliefs to those outside of our faith. It is not only simply worth our time to learn about black history, it is essential.

Important articles on this topic:

Black LDS History Timeline. This has been updated recently. If there is more that should be added, please let us know.

http://www.blacklds.org/history

A study in Misplaced Apologetics

http://www.blacklds.org/mauss

LAMANITES, THE SEED OF CAIN, AND POLYGAMY, part of a larger book review and well worth the read.

http://www.blacklds.org/Reynolds

Blacks and the Priesthood

http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_racial_issues/Blacks_and_the_priesthood

Origin of the priesthood ban

http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_racial_issues/Blacks_and_the_priesthood/Origin_of_the_priesthood_ban

Understanding pre-1978 statements

http://en.fairmormon.org/Mormonism_and_racial_issues/Blacks_and_the_priesthood/Understanding_pre-1978_statements

Racism

http://mormonvoices.org/19/racism

Note: This article is republished from the FAIR Journal

70 thoughts on “Three Mormon Myths About Blacks and the Priesthood

  1. Pen1954

    I know that February is over now and for Black History month but how did everyone get off the track? This is suppose to be about Myths and Blacks in the Priesthood. How did it turn into finding out if homsexuality is Ok and can be excepted within the church? This is sounding like a Amazon discussion forum. If you want to take it to that level make up a blog for that topic don’t take over this one.

  2. brettogden

    Pen1954,

    The relevant question is whether or not the policies that currently govern homosexuality within the church could be changed, through the revelatory process, as they changed with respect to Blacks.

    If we are going to allow history to teach us, there may be some lessons to learn in this regard.

  3. bryce

    Brettogden,

    I find it increasingly hard to believe that you are an actual member of the LDS faith. Regardless, your supposition that the future revelations we may receive regarding homosexuality as being one of acceptance is completely unfounded, despite your interesting perspective on scripture, church leadership and revelation.

    You said:
    “1. Joseph Smith taught that Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed for rejecting the Lord’s messengers, not for homosexuality.”

    -This is false. Read the scriptures. Genesis 18:20-21 “And the Lord said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;
    I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.”

    Their “sin” being homosexuality and other perversions. The peoples hearts were so hardened to the Word of God that they could not be moved to repentance. Thus, they were destroyed.

    You also said:
    “The Family Proclamation is not revelation.”…and… “Additionally, the Family Proclamation does not exclude the possibility of future committed homosexual unions.”

    -There is no room for homosexual unions in the Plan of Salvation, nor in ‘The Family: A Proclamation to the World.’ Another poster already cited the phrase relating to this.

    You said:
    “President Hinkley and other church leaders have clearly stated that we do not have a position on the cause of homosexuality. They have recognized that it is not a choice nor is it caused by sin.”

    -I don’t believe any of the Church Leaders have ever said that being a homosexual is “not a choice.” Everyone has inclinations to varying degree’s, but no one is forced to be homosexual because they were “born” that way.

    You said:
    “Leviticus is the Old Testament book that condemns homosexuality. The church doesn’t even attempt to follow all of the counsel/commands given in Leviticus. Where does the Lord tell us that we can cherry-pick from the Old Testament.”

    -The laws which we no longer observe that are mentioned in Leviticus are mainly to do with sacrificial offerings and sin atonement’s. We don’t do this because Christ fulfilled this for us. Call it cherry picking I guess.

    We still follow all the laws pertaining to sexual behavior mentioned by the Lord in Leviticus: Incest, bestiality, adultery and homosexuality, etc.. Because these are SINS that had nothing to-do with FORGIVENESS.

    You said:
    “I agree with you on Christ teaching a higher moral law than what we have in the Old Testament. So, what did Christ teach us about homosexuality in the New Testament, D&C, or Book of Mormon? Hmmm… He doesn’t make any mention of homosexuality in any of those books.”

    -Your question here sounds similar to that of the pharisees who mocked Christ and did not understand the scriptures. Christ rebuked them:
    Matthew 22: 17-18 “Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Cæsar, or not? But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

    You also said:
    “So your assumption here is that anyone not willing to bind the Lord’s hands in what He can choose to reveal about homosexuals, must therefore be a homosexual? Well, you are wrong.”

    My statement was directed to you and to anyone who might be struggling with this sin. I did not mean to offend you by saying that your gay. Furthermore, I did not say that nothing more would ever be revealed on the subject. I just know that it will not be a revelation in-favor of homosexuality.

    Homosexuality can be overcome. People do not need to feel trapped in homosexuality. If anyone believes the restored gospel is true, than you must believe this is true also. Heavenly Father loves all his Children and has prepared a way for each of us to return to him, though the path be straight and narrow.

    Being black is not a sin, thus we (members) needed to be better prepared before the Lord opened the priesthood to all worthy males. Homosexuality has been a sin since the beginning. If ANYTHING, we need to take a stronger stance for virtue and for marriage as being between ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN. Anything else leads to societal breakdowns and heavenly judgement.

    There is no wiggle room with sin, especially sexual sins, which are among the worst sins we can commit.

  4. brettogden

    Bryce,

    I am a member, in good standing, with a temple recommend, and two callings.

    1. It is not false that JS taught that Sodom & Gomorrah were destroyed for rejecting the Lord’s messengers. Here’s the quote & reference: “In consequence of rejecting the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Prophets whom God hath sent, the judgments of God have rested upon people, cities, and nations, in various ages of the world, which was the case with the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, that were destroyed for rejecting the Prophets.” History of the Church, 5:256–57; from a discourse given by Joseph Smith on Jan. 22, 1843, in Nauvoo, Illinois; reported by Wilford Woodruff. You can also find it on pp271-272 of Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith (yup, that’s the old Priesthood/RS manual).

    2. I’ve seen no quote from the Family Proclamation that excluded the possibility of future homosexual unions. Yes, it’s clear that man/woman marriages are ordained of God. That does not preclude the possibility of other marriages being ordained of God in the future just as other types of marriages and sealings were ordained of God in the past.

    3. From Elder Oaks in an official statement of the church: “That’s where our doctrine comes into play. The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.” (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/official-statement/same-gender-attraction

    From Elder Holland in Oct 2007 Ensign: “No one, including the one struggling, should try to shoulder blame. Nor should anyone place blame on another—including God. Walk by faith, and help your loved one deal the best he or she can with this challenge.”

    President Hinckley when asked by Larry King if homosexuals are born that way: “I don’t know. I’m not an expert on these things. I don’t pretend to be an expert on these things.”

    4. You wrote: “The laws which we no longer observe that are mentioned in Leviticus are mainly to do with sacrificial offerings and sin atonement’s. We don’t do this because Christ fulfilled this for us. Call it cherry picking I guess.” — Okay, I will because you still are cherry picking but with some rationalization attached. Polygamy and subjugation of women are also practiced in the OT… do you approve of those? Or were they also fulfilled by Christ?

    5. You wrote: “Homosexuality can be overcome.” From Elder Oaks in the above referenced article: “Through the exercise of faith, individual effort, and reliance upon the power of the Atonement, some may overcome same-gender attraction in mortality and marry. Others, however, may never be free of same-gender attraction in this life.”

    6. You wrote: “I just know that it will not be a revelation in-favor of homosexuality.” So you are saying that you know the mind and will of the Lord on this matter? Even into the future? And even though He has never revealed such? Wow.

    Then again, even Brigham Young spoke with similar certainty regarding the “curse” on Blacks saying that it would “always be so”.

    7. You wrote: “If ANYTHING, we need to take a stronger stance for virtue and for marriage as being between ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN. Anything else leads to societal breakdowns and heavenly judgement.”

    Since I’m a man, happily married/sealed to one woman and very much enjoying my life, I do agree that it is a wonderful thing. But, given the strength of your comment, I’ll just leave you with this quote:

    “…the one-wife system not only degenerates the human family, both physically and intellectually, but it is entirely incompatible with philosophical notions of immortality; it is a lure to temptation, and has always proved a curse to a people.”
    (Prophet John Taylor, Millennial Star, Vol. 15, p. 227)

    To summarize, all I’m saying is that maybe as a body of saints and as disciples of Christ that we are trying to be… maybe we should withhold judgement and prejudices. Maybe we should realize that similar to Blacks and the Priesthood/Temple, we could one day look back and say what Elder McConkie said: “We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”

  5. bcspace

    “playerpage Says:
    February 29th, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    But that wouldn’t be doctrine bcspace, so much as an explanation. An explanation as given by someone trying their best, but in the words of Mr. Gordon, ending up hurting more than helping. Doctrine only comes from the pulpit or from the Standard Works. The common confusion goes a long way toward illustrating why many of these myths continue to survive, and even thrive.”

    That would be incorrect playerpage. Doctrine is defined by official publication (see Approaching Mormon Doctrine in the Newsroom of lds.org and the Teaching, No Greater Call manual, etc.). The Study Topic on lds.org therefore is official doctrine (because the web site is an official publication) and that doctrine is that the ban until 1978 is justified by the previous precedent of others not being able to receive the Priesthood based on lineage. We need not fear the ban as there was no racism (skin color or ethnicity) in it’s basis. Other statements as to why, like Bott’s blacks not ready, etc., are speculation (not being officially published) and therefore, not doctrine.

    Consider the scripture only argument for doctrine playerpage, which is contrary to the Church’s statement in that the doctrine only resides there but it is the FP and Qo12 who establish it. If scripture only were the case, not a single one of us could point out what official LDS doctrine is. For example:

    Evangelicals say the water in John 3:5 is physical birth. LDS say it is water baptism. How do we LDS know it is water baptism and not physical birth? Because it is officially published somewhere like in a manual. Neither you nor I nor anyone else but the 15 apostles and prophets together is qualified to establish what official doctrine is and as per the Church’s own statement the sign for that is official publication.

    Consider also how the Church has on occasion changed the wording of a Conference talk before publication (the recent BKP incident comes to mind). That is sign that “over the pulpit” is also not official doctrine until it’s published.

  6. brettogden

    bcspace wrote: “The Study Topic on lds.org therefore is official doctrine (because the web site is an official publication) and that doctrine is that the ban until 1978 is justified by the previous precedent of others not being able to receive the Priesthood based on lineage. We need not fear the ban as there was no racism (skin color or ethnicity) in it’s basis.”

    This is why the church keeps getting into hot water over this issue. Regardless of the validity of a Biblical basis to denying the priesthood and saving ordinances to those of African descent, it was a racist policy. There is no getting around that.

    Better to admit it, apologize for a wrong that has been corrected, and move on.

    Rationalizing it does not make it any less racist. In fact, rationalizing a racist policy just makes us sound like we are still racist TODAY. By definition, it was a racist policy… they were denied the priesthood and saving ordinances solely because of their race.

    Better to admit it, apologize for a wrong that has been corrected, and move on.

    And for those who may reply stating that we cannot apologize for something the Lord commanded, I would ask that you first cite precisely where he made such a command. He didn’t. Let’s remember, even though they may have meant well, this was a policy enacted by men using their agency to the best of their ability.

    Better to admit it, apologize for a wrong that has been corrected, and move on.

  7. bryce

    Brettogden,

    I only make this final reply because I fear that some reading your posts will fall away or be tested in their faith because of your -more particular- points of view.

    A quote to leave you with:

    “The Church’s stand on homosexual relations provides another arena where we offend the devil. I expect that the statement of the First Presidency and the Twelve against homosexual marriages will continue to be assaulted. Satan is only interested in our misery, which he promotes by trying to persuade men and women to act contrary to God’s plan. One way he does this is by encouraging the inappropriate use of sacred creative powers. A bona fide marriage is one between a man and a woman solemnized by the proper legal or ecclesiastical authority. Only sexual relations between husband and wife within the bonds of marriage are acceptable before the Lord.”

    “There is some widely accepted theory extant that homosexuality is inherited. How can this be? No scientific evidence demonstrates absolutely that this is so. Besides, if it were so, it would frustrate the whole plan of mortal happiness. Our designation as men or women began before this world was. In contrast to the socially accepted doctrine that homosexuality is inborn, a number of respectable authorities contend that homosexuality is not acquired by birth. The false belief of inborn homosexual orientation denies to repentant souls the opportunity to change and will ultimately lead to discouragement, disappointment, and despair.”

    “Alternatives to the legal and loving marriage between a man and a woman are helping to unravel the fabric of human society. I am sure this is pleasing to the devil. The fabric I refer to is the family. These so-called alternative life-styles must not be accepted as right, because they frustrate God’s commandment for a life-giving union of male and female within a legal marriage as stated in Genesis. If practiced by all adults, these life-styles would mean the end of the human family.”

    – Church Apostle James E. Faust, “Serving the Lord and Resisting the Devil,” Church Gerneral Conference, Spring 1995.

    I would like to point out that your quote from the Prophet John Taylor hails from a newspaper editorial, not official church publication, nor is it doctrine. Prophets such as Brigham Young have said, after giving a talk, that “you just heard from Brigham Young, come back in a couple hours to hear from the Prophet of the Lord.” In addition, John Taylor was making an argument in-favor-of polygamy, not one to support homosexual unions.

    I will leave you with this as well:

    “Parents and leaders should always strive to teach youth that marriage is a sacred privilege and obligation. It is not good for man or woman to be alone, for neither can fill the full measure of his or her creation without the other (see 1 Cor. 11:11; Moses 3:18). Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, and only through the new and everlasting covenant of marriage can we realize the fulness of all eternal blessings. (The Honey Moon Trail, Elder David E. Sorensen, OCT. 1997 General Conference)

    http://www.lds.org/liahona/1997/10/the-honeymoon-trail?lang=eng

    To address your issue with past endowment practices:

    In regards to the endowment, there are cases in which individuals were sealed together “for time” and as a precaution before the Saints would make the long trek West, as the death toll was very high. This was done to ensure that as-many as were able could partake of the endowment. The Saints operated under the best understanding they had, even conducting endowments in Joseph’s Red Brick House. Just because two men may or may not have been sealed together in the past, does not mean that it was for the purpose of fulling the sacred covenant of marriage and eternal companionship. If that practice did happen, there was a reason for it and it was in harmony with the light and knowledge the Prophet had at the time.

    An no, Brettogden, I do not believe in the subjugation of women. It is a complete twist of scripture and gospel understanding to question me on such a topic because I refuse to acknowledged the possibility of homosexual practices receiving ecclesiastical endorsement from the Church based on the fact that “the law was fulfilled in Christ” – or for any other reason.

    As far as polygamy goes? Yes, if the Lord chose to return that practice to the earth, I would believe in it. Polygamy can be authorized by God because it is not contrary to his already established laws. Homosexuality is, in every way, contrary to His established laws.

    Read the following scripture carefully. It clearly states that man should live in monogamous relationships, unless the Lord chooses to “raise up seed unto [Himself],” in which case, he keeps it for Himself to authorize Polygamy.

    Jacob 2:26-30
    26 Wherefore, I the Lord God will not suffer that this people shall do like unto them of old.

    27 Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none;

    28 For I, the Lord God, delight in the chastity of women. And whoredoms are an abomination before me; thus saith the Lord of Hosts.

    29 Wherefore, this people shall keep my commandments, saith the Lord of Hosts, or cursed be the land for their sakes.

    30 For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed unto me, I will command my people; otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.

    ————-

    Be careful of the view points you pander. Weakening the gospel covenants in your own mind will lead to unhappiness, sin and a loss of sacred blessings; As well as the loss of eternal life and eternal joy.

    ————-

    -Bryce

    1 Corinthians: 11:11-12
    11 “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.

    12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.”

  8. bcspace

    Well brettogden, I think you’re going to have to find a better reference than the one I gave to show the ban was racist because it shows that it was not, by definition. Lineage is not the same as skin color or ethnicity.

    If the Church is true, it is not possible for the modern ban not to have been God authorized no matter which way you spin it. The ban existed through multiple first presidencies who were ostensibly guiding the Church via the Lord’s leadership so even if you are of the opinion that the Lord was merely waiting for the question to be asked (and it was several times iirc), then the Lord has put his “it was supposed to happen for whatever reason” stamp on it by not immediately removing it. Therefore, the modern ban was divinely appointed.

    And the fact of the matter is that even under intense pressure, the Church is not saying it was wrong and is actually being very careful not to give that impression. The only thing it’s stated in the Bott case is that certain unspecified speculations are not the doctrine of the Church.

    The same thing happened with plural marriage. Like the ban, it remains an official doctrine of the Church.

  9. Logophile

    brettogden wrote:

    Better to admit it, apologize for a wrong that has been corrected, and move on.

    Admit that the policy was racist? All right, according to your definition, it was racist.

    But should we apologize for it?

    If indeed the Lord set the policy, then it cannot have been wrong. And we have no business going around apologizing for following the Lord’s commandments.

    If the policy was set by men who, as you wrote, “may have meant well” and were “using their agency to the best of their ability”, that is not something we need apologize for either. (Perhaps Brigham Young should apologize to someone.)

    As for moving on, the vast majority of us have moved on. All of the Mormons I know who were around in 1978 were overjoyed when the priesthood ban was lifted. Since then, I have not heard so much as a hint of disapproval of the change from any Latter-day Saint.

    If you still insist that an apology is in order, I would repeat my previous questions:

    1. What exactly was the offense that requires an apology?

    2. Who is responsible for issuing the apology?

    3. Who is owed the apology? In other words, who was harmed?

    4. What else might be required?

    Please note the last point. Anti-Mormons frequently demand apologies for all sorts of things: racism, homophobia, sexism, polygamy, JS-H 1:19, and so on. These demands are made in bad faith. No amount of groveling will ever satisfy such persons.

    You are right that attempts to rationalize the ban too often sound like a defense of racism, one of the few sins that secularists still recognize.

    Instead of rationalizing the policy, I simply point out the facts: From the time of Brigham Young until 1978, the church did not ordain black men, for reasons that are not clear. In 1978, the president of the church published a revelation from the Lord allowing all worthy men to be ordained to the priesthood. That change was accepted unanimously by the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, the other general authorities, and the General Conference of the church.

    Anyone wanting to know more about how and why the policy was changed can read Official Declaration–2.

  10. brettogden

    bcspace,

    What was your reference? The LDS.org statement that the ban was based on lineage, not race?

    I fail to see a significant difference. What exactly was the lineage that was banned from holding the priesthood and receiving temple ordinances? And why? How was that lineage verified before deciding who could and could not receive the Priesthood? Are all dark-skinned Africans of the same lineage?

    You can say that the ban was based on lineage in theory. But in practice it was based on anyone of African descent. And that is a race-based policy.

    And you are correct. The church leadership is not saying that it is wrong. And much of what was said in support of the ban is still considered “doctrine” by many. Your comparison to polygamy is also correct: it still stands as doctrine, just not practiced.

  11. brettogden

    Logophile,

    To answer your questions:

    1. The offense: a racist policy that was in place for over 100 years and which was built up by numerous statements from church leadership.

    2. Responsible for issuing the apology: President Monson.

    3. Who is owed the apology: Humanity. Honestly, it’s not really directed at anyone, it’s more of an apology for the sake of apologizing.

    4. What else is required? This is part & parcel of the answer I gave in #3. Requisite in the process of apologizing is to cease committing the offense. This would mean clearing up old statements and “doctrines” the likes of which surfaced with Professor Bott (a well educated BYU religion professor who was really just explaining what has been said in the past by the Brethren). And by clearing up, I mean admitting that those statements were false and that they were wrong. That we made a mistake with that policy. Rather than the current methodology of trying to brush everything under the rug.

    Personally, I think that the apology requires one more thing but I know this is asking too much. As I’ve stated above, we are currently denying saving ordinances to homosexuals in the same way that we denied them to Blacks, that is, as a matter of policy – not revelation. So, for me, for the church to truly apologize, they would also have to repent of that offense… erase that policy… or produce a revelation justifying it.

  12. brettogden

    Bryce,

    You didn’t respond to most of my points so I am not going to take the time to respond line by line to yours.

    You cited a 1995 quote by Faust which is older than the official quotes I provided (which contradict what Faust said). And according to the “14 Fundamentals” the more recent statements are more valid, right?

    My point with the John Taylor quote is that he was directly condemning monogamous marriage. He obviously wasn’t speaking the will of the Lord. We need to be careful about what we assume is and is not the will of the Lord. As you noted, and as Joseph Smith stated, the prophet isn’t always speaking as the prophet.

    Elder Sorenson’s statement still does not say that homosexual marriages could not someday be ordained of God. Nor does it exclude the possibility that they could be part of the new and everlasting covenant.

    The practice of sealing unrelated adult males DID happen. And it was not for time only. They were eternal sealings. They served a purpose. Was it marriage? No. But they were sealed and it continued to happen through the presidency of Young and, I believe, into Taylor’s as well. It shows that the sealing ordinance as initiated by Joseph Smith was not something limited to male-female couples. There was more to it.

    Regarding subjugation of women – you are still cherry picking. Saying that we should ignore that part of the OT but follow the part that condemns homosexuals.

    And then you cite Jacob 2… since you did, do you care to explain why we ignored it from 1833 to 1904?

    I didn’t know that pleading for love, acceptance, and the revealed will of the Lord was weakening my gospel covenants. But thanks for the warning.

  13. bhodges

    I suggest it is a waste of time to argue with bcspace about such matters. bcspace is committed to what I understand to be an untenable, circular understanding of what is and isn’t official doctrine. He cannot be convinced otherwise.

  14. Pingback: “FAIR Conversations,” Episode 16: Max Mueller, on blacks and the priesthood | FAIR Blog

  15. bcspace

    brettogden,

    As for references, the Study by Topical on lds.org’s main menu for one:

    http://www.lds.org/study/topics/priesthood-ordination-before-1978?lang=eng

    Being based on lineage is quite a bit different than race as the did not apply to anyone because of any inherent phenotype; such was used, rightly or wrongly, for identification purposes only. The ban came about because of disobedience. Again not racist. Notice also in the PofGP Institute Manual section on OD 2 that the ban was from the time of Adam. It might also be useful to see the doctrine on the BoM Lamanite curse and subsequent consequences in the Church’s new BoM Institute Manual on 2 Nephi 5:20-25. Is the BoM racist? It must be if the Priesthood ban is racist. Even the the particulars are slightly different, the arguments are the same.

    “And you are correct. The church leadership is not saying that it is wrong. And much of what was said in support of the ban is still considered “doctrine” by many. Your comparison to polygamy is also correct: it still stands as doctrine, just not practiced.”

    I thank you for that brettogden. At least you are willing to discuss what the Church currently publishes in a believing fashion. I try to bring the Church’s current statements and publications up on FAIR’s erstwhile message board, Mormon Dialogue & Discussion, and I am branded as a race baiter and a racist and banned from the thread even though I am arguing in defense of the Church (of which I am proud to be called a “TBM”)

  16. bcspace

    bhodges said:

    “I suggest it is a waste of time to argue with bcspace about such matters. bcspace is committed to what I understand to be an untenable, circular understanding of what is and isn’t official doctrine. He cannot be convinced otherwise.”

    While it is true I cannot be moved on this issue (Is being settled somehow a fault?), I suggest that instead of circular reasoning, it is one of ultimate source. I merely take the Church at it’s word as do most members. There is no higher or better source to go than the Church itself for an explanation of what is and is not official LDS doctrine. The Church cannot be other than self-referential when it comes to defining it’s doctrine.

    As much as one may want it to be so, neither FAIR or Robert Millet define LDS doctrine though the later said essentially the same thing I and the Church do in a recent podcast.

    I know of no members of the Church on the ground (as opposed to virtual) who don’t accept publication as the standard for doctrine for the last forty or more years.

    Even on the aforementioned MDD board, there is now a headlong rush to embrace the recent Church published internet Newsroom statements on the Priesthood ban whereas before, there was skepticism in even accepting the Newsroom article “Approaching Mormon Doctrine” which merely summarizes various principles taught by the Church over the last 40 years in chapters with titles like “Teach the Doctrine” and “Keeping the Doctrine Pure”.

  17. brettogden

    The link you provided refers to “black African descent”. Is that not considered “race”? I’m still failing to see the practical difference between race and lineage as applied to the ban. Are you claiming that the genealogical work was done for every black male in the church to determine if his lineage could be traced back to Cain? Or Ham?

    Then you claim that the ban came about because of disobedience. Let’s say, for a moment, that is true and again you come back to the problem that the “disobedience” was not judged by some actual act committed or even by lineage it was determined by those three words in the “official publication” that you cited: black African descent.

    But I would argue your basis for concluding that the ban was due to disobedience. I did not see an OD2 section in the P of GP institute manual that currently resides on LDS.org. And since OD2 is in the D&C, I’m not sure why the section would be in the P of GP manual. If you can correct that reference, I’ll be happy to read it.

    If we are going to condemn and entire race or even lineage of people for over a century due to their disobedience, I would think that something of that magnitude would really need to come from the Lord. So, can you provide a revelatory citation for such a claim?

    I’m aware that some of the Brethren in the 19th and early 20th century were known to have made claims about a lack of valor among blacks in the pre-existence but many of those same Brethren also taught that the ban would not be lifted until the Millenium (which has been proven false) and that interracial marriage was to be punished by death on the spot (clearly not followed). And, as we know, BYU Professor Randy Bott was recently thrown under the bus for repeating the claims published by Brethren.

  18. brettogden

    bcspace,

    Clearly anything published through official church channels becomes, by definition, “official”. Doctrine, on the other hand, is somewhat nebulous. Your definition is rather broad and subjects doctrine to quite a bit of changes as the years pass.

    I prefer to go with the D&C 28:13 approach to defining doctrine. The only doctrine that is binding upon the church is that which has followed the process of being accepted by the 1st Presidency, the Q12, and then ratified by common consent. It’s happened just six times in the history of the church and has provided us with our canon that consists of the Bible, Book of Mormon, D&C (several different votes to consent to all sections + official declarations), and the Pearl of Great Price. It’s interesting to note that the Lectures on Faith were, at one time, published with the D&C but removed in 1921 because they had not been accepted through the process I described above.

    And where do you draw the lines on “publishing”? McConkie’s Mormon Doctrine was published for many years by Deseret Book (wholly owned by the Church) even though a committee, under the direction of the prophet, had found over 1,000 errors in the book. Some, not all, were corrected and yet the Church still allowed for its publication.

  19. mcerisano

    @brettogden, i think you should do some fact checking before you perpetuate the well entrenched false facts about McConkie and Mormon Doctrine. BookCraft, a privately owned company until 1999, was the publisher of mormon doctrine.

    The 1000 errors you are refering to were noted by Marion G. Romney at the request of president mckay in 1960. These ‘errors’ were actually editorial corrections that would have been found prior to printing if bookcraft had a fulltime editor at the time.

    There were only about 50 doctrinal issues that were addressed by elder kimball and dealt mainly with the tone and wisdom of including certain details.

    it is completely false to perputate the rumor that 1000 doctrinal changes were identified in the book. it is completely ridiculous to think that the author of such a book would be called to the quorum of the twelve 6 years after the second edition of such an erroneous book was printed.

    using this false evidence to prop up your argument is shaky ground.

  20. brettogden

    Yes, BookCraft was privately owned until 1999 when it was bought by the Church’s publishing arm: Deseret Book. DB continued to publish Mormon Doctrine, despite it’s controversial history, until about a year or so back. The church, from what I’m told, has also begun to systematically remove all of the Mormon Doctrine references from church curricula.

    As for the 50 v 1,000 errors: While it is true that Romney’s letter to McKay listed roughly 50 errors, Peterson also reviewed the book and found 1,067 errors. The “1,067” number is the one that is noted in President McKay’s journal (Jan 7, 1960).

    Either way, I don’t think it puts my argument on shaky ground. As I stated, I think the term “doctrine” within the LDS context is somewhat nebulous. McConkie’s book, Mormon Doctrine is actually an interesting case to discuss for reasons mentioned by you and I. Consider…

    A general authority writes a book with the audaciously declarative title of “Mormon Doctrine”.

    The Prophet (McKay) asks an Apostle (Romney) to review the book. Romney takes issue with some of the tone, doctrine, and opinions expressed in the book. He questions the propriety of the book but also identifies it as filling a need.

    The First Presidency then directs that McConkie only be rebuked in a way that will preserve his future as an author and his status as a general authority of the church.

    The First Presidency gives the instruction that Mormon Doctrine not be republished.

    In a letter, McKay states that Mormon Doctrine is NOT an official publication of the church.

    Six years later, McConkie publishes a second revision of Mormon Doctrine. There is some confusion in the historical record as to whether or not McKay gave express permission for the publication.

    The church begins referencing it in church curricula.

    Harold B. Lee calls McConkie to be an apostle.

    A third revision occurs after the 1978 official declaration.

    Deseret Book purchases Bookcraft and continues to publish the book into 2010.

    Again, my point is not to discredit the book nor McConkie’s call as an apostle. It’s an extremely worthwhile book and I believe McConkie was a great man.

    I’m just trying to discuss the matter of “doctrine”. In the case of this book, we have a Prophet who is concerned about some of the doctrinal representations made. Yet, ultimately, he doesn’t stop its publication nor distribution. He seemed to be more interested in not harming the author, a general authority. Mormon Doctrine, though still not fully corrected, is widely referenced and becomes source material for our Bible dictionary.

    I’m sorry, I’ve gone on way too long. I just think it’s an interesting study with much to be gleaned. There is TRUTH. There is our CANON. There are OFFICIAL PUBLICATIONS. There are TEACHINGS BY GENERAL AUTHORITIES. And amongst them all we see revisions, redactions, and retractions. I’m just not clear as to which of these modes overlap, if any, and how.

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