Race and The Priesthood

Public forum to discuss questions about Mormon history and doctrine.
Curt Sunshine
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Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Dec 2013, 00:29

If anyone wants a list of statements from Church leaders and official statements from the Church dealing with repudiating the justifications for the Priesthood ban, I wrote a post on my personal blog back in April 2009 compiling the most direct and explicit statements at the time. I added an update last year, and I just added today's statement.

If anyone wants to share the quotes or the link to the post, feel free to do so without asking for permission.

The link is:

"Repudiating Racist Justifications Once and for All" (http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com/2009 ... -once.html)
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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mackay11
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Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by mackay11 » 07 Dec 2013, 01:47

Thanks mom3. I got choked up while reading it.

It's been published in the last 24 hours. I'm sure it's been in the pipeline for a while but it's a nice coincidence that it has come out so soon after Mandela's death.

I think it could have gone a little further. They could have mentioned that it was probably perpetuated for longer than needed due to the unfounded assumptions that Joseph Smith introduced the doctrine (when he didn't). I know they show that it wasn't Joseph's doctrine (and lay it more strongly at BY's feet than some will feel comfortable). I believe the ban would have ended much, much earlier if the leadership had known it wasn't a foundational doctrine.

I hope that one day there is an official policy and I hope that they also say "to the best of our knowledge this was an uninspired practice and it should have never happened and we're sorry it ever did."

But... in anticipation of that day I still celebrate this day.

This was important:
"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form."
I also appreciated it quoting Elder Bruce R. McConkie who later spoke of new “light and knowledge” that had erased previously “limited understanding” as well as the historical prejudices and assumptions that lead to some of the events.

There's nothing in the article that requires a position of believing it was introduced by divine mandate. I appreciated that too.

As Nelson Mandela said:
"Racism is a blight on the human conscience. The idea that any people can be inferior to another, to the point where those who consider themselves superior define and treat the rest as sub-human, denies the humanity even of those who elevate themselves to the status of gods."

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SamBee
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Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by SamBee » 07 Dec 2013, 05:12

I have always had severe difficulty with this aspect of our past. The one thing that consoles me is that the current black members of our ward don't experience any racism that I've noticed.

I've heard Pres McKay wanted rid of it.

I've also heard it was partly to do with slave and free states.

However it gets dressed up, it's a shameful aspect of our history. Probably the worst in fact. I also have mixed feelings about the treatment of native Americans, but that is another matter.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

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mackay11
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Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by mackay11 » 07 Dec 2013, 05:59

SamBee wrote:I have always had severe difficulty with this aspect of our past. The one thing that consoles me is that the current black members of our ward don't experience any racism that I've noticed.

I've heard Pres McKay wanted rid of it.

I've also heard it was partly to do with slave and free states.

However it gets dressed up, it's a shameful aspect of our history. Probably the worst in fact. I also have mixed feelings about the treatment of native Americans, but that is another matter.
If there's one issue that has broken my old testimony more than any other, it's the topic of blacks and the priesthood. The first presidencies of the past were absolutely convinced that it was God's doctrine, revealed through Joseph Smith. It wasn't. It made me realise that the way prophets receive guidance is massively influenced by their own opinions, lack of information and assumptions.

I can remember a post a while back, written from the top of a pagoda in the middle of a bamboo forest in China, where I'd prayerfully felt comforted to let go of my old paradigm. It's made things more complicated in some ways, but I simply don't have the confidence in the leaders of the church nor the doctrines they continue to support any more.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Dec 2013, 12:02

There is a very good post and comment thread on By Common Consent about this, entitled "Responses to Gospel Inquiries", written by J. Stapley. In the comment thread, J lays out an excellent, fairly concise historical overview of the issue that includes some facts that aren't known commonly, I think even by most people here. I recommend it HIGHLY.

The thread is: http://bycommonconsent.com/2013/12/06/r ... inquiries/

The particular comment I mentioned is: http://bycommonconsent.com/2013/12/06/r ... inquiries/
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Roy
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Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by Roy » 07 Dec 2013, 12:13

This is great! This covers the biggest deficiency with the previous race related press release in that it didn't touch on the many thoeries for why the priesthood ban except to say that we don't quite know. Now those racist theories have been officially repudiated. :clap:
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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Gerald
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Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by Gerald » 07 Dec 2013, 14:07

I recognize that people find racism of any kind and in any time repugnant. But whatever your personal feelings are on the priesthood ban, it does need to be centered in the cultural mores of the day. I like this quote from the comments on the article in By Common Consent that Ray mentioned:
JS comes out looking pretty good here. Sure, pretty much everyone back then, Abraham Lincoln included, was a racist by today’s standards, and that would include Joseph. But by the standards of his time he was pretty progressive on matters of race. (This should not be too surprising, as he was a Yankee.)

The difficult case is BY, who did initiate the ban, and actually flip flopped to do it. We don’t know for sure why he flip flopped, but to me a plausible theory is that he got freaked about by the prospect of miscegenation (what he called “amalgamation”), which concern would have been par for the course in his day. He latched on to a Protestant apologia for the practice of slavery (“curse of Cain”), which to me was the original mistake. To me this is pure culture, which he understood as doctrine. I think it’s a useful reminder to us that even prophets are human and therefore fallible.
So through the dusk of dead, blank-legended And unremunerative years we search to get where life begins, and still we groan because we do not find the living spark where no spark ever was; and thus we die, still searching, like poor old astronomers who totter off to bed and go to sleep, to dream of untriangulated stars.
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mormonheretic
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Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by mormonheretic » 07 Dec 2013, 14:41

This is a pretty impressive statement by the church, especially this part
There is no evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood
I've been saying this for years, but some have tried to pin it on Joseph. They're definitely blaming it on Brigham now.
Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.23
They threw Randy Bott under the bus with this statement. I'm also encouraged that the church disavows that mixed-race marriages are a sin, though I think that sentence is a bit clumsy.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by Curt Sunshine » 07 Dec 2013, 14:56

or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else.
I also like the fact that this has been said in a time of racist statements over immigration and views of Hispanics in that context.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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mom3
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Re: Race and The Priesthood

Post by mom3 » 07 Dec 2013, 15:36

I have a strange reason for posting this, like others who are enjoying it, so am I. But it touched my heart doubly because when I was 11 years old, 1975 - Eldridge Cleaver, convicted Black Panther leader, arrived in my ward. With no shame or fear he walked in with the missionary's and sat down nearly front and center in our Sacrament meeting. The block schedule was not in practice then. We only saw him in Sacrament meeting. My dad said he also attended Priesthood. He was an impressive looking man, after the first few weeks, seeing him in the hall became the new norm. My ward, embraced him from day one. He never joined the church, but he investigated with his full heart. That day - ban or no ban - My mormonism became inclusive.

Last night as I read the beautiful words, I relived the moment he walked into our all caucasion chapel and proudly took his place as one of us. The world righted itself many years ago - and I'm glad we can all catch up with it now.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

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