Monthly Archives: February 2013

Mormon FAIR-Cast 131: Blacks and the LDS Priesthood

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In this episode, Darius Gray provides a partial chronology concerning Blacks and the LDS priesthood. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established in 1830, at which time, its first president and prophet, Joseph Smith ordained all men unto the priesthood.  The only qualification is that they embrace the teachings of the Savior Jesus Christ and the promised restoration in preparation for the Second Coming of Christ.  After the death of Joseph Smith at the hands of a mob, it would be three years before Brigham Young was officially named as the next president, leader and prophet of the church.

In 1847, President Brigham Young began the practice of withholding the priesthood only from men of Black African descent.  It would be another two years before any official statement was made.  Even though there was never any clear explanation as to why there was a change in course from what the prophet of the restoration had begun, the practice was continued on through the years with a number of exceptions.  Enoch Abel, the son of Elijah Abel who was a Black man and ordained to this priesthood by Joseph Smith himself, was ordained to the priesthood in 1900.  Then in 1934, his son, Elijah, was also ordained to the priesthood.  There was much speculation as to why the priesthood was withheld from Blacks, in addition to attempts by church leadership to squash the ever growing possible reasons.  However, in light the absence of the originating justification and the inequality of man at the time, the created folklore permeated the LDS church.

The practice even managed to survive through the Civil Rights Movement, and then in 1978, then President Spencer W. Kimball announced a revelation which ended the priesthood ban.  At that time, many of African descent came into the church from all over the world.  It was genuinely assumed that the problem was now officially over.  However, again in light of the lack of explanation as to why the change in course, as well as the addressing of prior teaching, the majority of the members of the church continued, and continue to teach those things which the mere occurrence of the change contradicts.

This has created an incredible stumbling block for people of all races in and outside of the LDS church.  Missionaries and members don’t know how to answer the questions had by critics or investigators, and those who think they do unintentionally reinforce the discriminatory reputation the church is labeled with.  Many who see the blessings of the gospel or who would see them, can’t or won’t allow themselves to “look” because of the inability to receive adequate answers to past teachings and current scriptural passages.

This episode is an audio version of segment 4 of the Blacks in the Scriptures DVD Series . The complete DVD can be purchased at the FAIR Bookstore here. This presentation has been provided courtesy of Blacks in the Scriptures. The opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent the official views of FAIR or of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Mormon FAIR-Cast 130: Equality and Priesthood

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Marvin Perkins provides a scriptural compilation of the Lord’s command for all to be equal and to ordain to the priesthood all who will embrace the gospel work.

This episode is an audio version of segment 3 of the Blacks in the Scriptures DVD Series . The complete DVD can be purchased at the FAIR Bookstore here.

This presentation has been provided courtesy of Blacks in the Scriptures. The opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent the official views of FAIR or of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Mormon FAIR-Cast: 129: Skin Color & Curses

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How can the Church better reach African Americans? What do the scriptures mean when they say that a person is “black?” Does it refer to skin color or is it metaphorical? What do the scriptures mean when they say that a person or people are cursed?

This episode is an audio version of segment 2 of the Blacks in the Scriptures DVD Series . The complete DVD can be purchased at the FAIR Bookstore here.

This presentation has been provided courtesy of Blacks in the Scriptures. The opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent the official views of FAIR or of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Mormon FAIR-Cast 128: Blacks in the Bible

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In a study performed by the Higher Education Institute, in association with UCLA, which concluded in 2005, African Americans ranked number one in seven of the twelve spirituality categories measured.  These deeply spiritual roots have been passed on from generation to generation of church goers and Bible faithful.  This commitment is especially impressive in light of the absence of positive religious teachings, mentions or artistic renderings of Black African ancestors in today’s Christian religions.

There are many who regularly mention Cain and Ham and the curses associated with them, leaving and reinforcing the impression that Black equates to cursed or less than.  Was there a positive Black presence in the biblical days?  If there was, wouldn’t the entire world benefit from this knowledge?  Those of African descent could gain a greater sense of self.  This could also help to repudiate much of the confusion about race and encourage unity.

Blacks in the Bible is the first of four segments in the Blacks in the Scriptures DVD series. The complete DVD can be purchased at the FAIR Bookstore here.

This presentation has been provided courtesy of Blacks in the Scriptures. The opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent the official views of FAIR or of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

New Doctrine and Covenants resources available from lds.org and Interpreter

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At FAIR, we like to keep abreast of various resources which become available for studying, understanding, and teaching the gospel. With the current Sunday School year focusing on the Doctrine and Covenants, there are two new resources to which we would particularly like to call your attention, as well as some old favorites. The first is found here:

http://history.lds.org/series/doctrine-and-covenants-revelations-in-context?lang=eng#

and contains articles written by historians discussing with balance and grace some of the key characters and events associated with the restoration. A particular focus is the context in which the revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants were received. These historical papers provide a golden opportunity for teachers and students to better understand the context and process through which Joseph received many of the early canonized revelations so that they can better apply the process in obtaining divine guidance in their own lives. They also provide an excellent opportunity to better understand the historical unfolding of the restoration.

The Scripture Roundtables, hosted by Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture provide a second useful resource in the study of the Doctrine and Covenants. Each Roundtable involves a rotating collection of scholars discussing the gospel doctrine lessons. The discussions are roughly forty minutes each and may be found here:

http://www.mormoninterpreter.com/category/scripture-roundtable/

The guests have included a number of BYU professors, scholars associated with FAIR, students at Claremont Graduate University and other specialists who each bring unique insights and perspective to the study of the scripture. Interpreter’s multimedia platform makes it especially ideal for those who like to learn on the go. Their roundtable discussions are available as an itunes podcast as well as in the youtube format linked above.

A few other notable resources bear mention. This site: http://bit.ly/ldsarcdc provides teachers notes, slide shows, and class handouts for the Doctrine and Covenants.

Another resource, located at http://scripture.byu.edu, provides references for each time a scripture has been used in, for example, General Conference, and allows a teacher or student to get an idea how a particular scripture is typically employed in teaching.

Used wisely, these various (ultimately explanatory) resources help us fulfil our divinely mandated duty to “seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith” (D&C 109:7) and also to “Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand;” (D&C 88:78)