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  1. “This statement has’t taken us where we need to go, it just gave us the tools to get there better” I loved the statement (I don’t think I have it exactly word for word) which was made my Margaret Young. Loved the whole podcast, thank you all for sharing your perspectives.

  2. It seemed that it was unclear who was in charge of the gospel topics being posted on lds.org. In the video with Elder Snow he states that outside scholars are retained for conducting academic research on the topics and then submitting manuscripts to the 1st presidency and the 12 for approval. So we still don’t know who the secret squirrels are but it seems the top 15 are aware and approving of all the topics. Just FYI.


    1. Excellent! So the process is that they assemble a consultation group to write a piece on a topic that the FP requests? And then that piece gets the sign off by the whole 15 or the FP or just the Q12? Are they able to mention that they were involved in the process or are they sworn to secrecy? And who suggests the to the FP that a topic needs to be addressed? Is that the PR department? Just curious Brian.

      1. I’m not trying to say anything is crystal clear just mentioning that Elder Snow said they (FP, and the 12) were at the very least involved. I agree there are many more questions that are not likely to be answered to our (yours and mine Gina) satisfaction.

  3. Thanks for the podcast and I liked the discussion but it sadly didn’t have discussion on the main point that I was tuning in for. The new article disavows the theories and racist teachings (which is great!) but it does NOT do that same for the ban itself. The debate is still open as to if the ban itself was from God or not.

    The statement did a lot, but it was like a 99 yard kickoff return and the church took a knee at the 1 yard line instead of taking it in for the TD. I get that prophets make mistakes and can have racist theories and teachings, and I’m glad we’ve put those to bed, but the ban itself is still there. And so the question “Did God withold the Priesthood from blacks” is still open.

    The article makes it really easy for someone to play connect-the-dots and make a case that the ban itself was wrong, but it would be a lot better if the church itself came out and said it.

    1. Good point. I would have read it that the ban came as a consequence of the racist theories promulgated – but you are right that the question of the ban itself is not entirely addressed.

      1. The article has it the other way around. In the last paragraph of the first section it introduces Brigham Young and ban and that following prophets upheld it, and then says, “Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.”

        The article seemed to be clearly stating that that the ban came first, and the theories came after to try and explain the ban.

        Then at the end of the article they disavow the theories ONLY. “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past…”

        Whoever wrote the article is very smart as they made sure to leave the ban intact, allowing the possibility that the ban was correct and from God.

        Those celebrating that the church has disavowed the ban are celebrating too soon. Cause it hasn’t happened yet.

        1. I guess the “theory” of the mark of Cain had been around long before, but the article does seem to separate out the BAN from the THEORIES and it disavows the theories.

          1. I would prefer the word “theory” be reserved for disciplines that can provide evidence to support them in the first place. The church calling their culturally-biased, scripture-distorting rationalization a theory gives science and history a bad name.

      2. Gina and Brian,
        Not only is that a great point, I have seen it argued that only the reasons for the doctrine were disavowed, but not the doctrine itself. For me, it seems implicit that the doctrine was disavowed, but for many….

      3. I agree. The way I read it is the church is not commenting on the ban. Any other forum where there is more discussion on this?

  4. I’m sorry if you find this negative and divisive Margaret. You may want to avert your eyes. What this article really does is shine a spotlight on the fact that our “prophets” are nothing more than mortal men who rarely if ever speak for God. The Church loves to point out that our prophets are fallible when they make mistakes. But otherwise it’s “Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, don’t go astray. Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he knows the way.” Except when they’ve been wrong for 150+ years.
    So the church now says “We were wrong”….kind of. How can they possibly still defend their position on LGBT people?! Do we now wait another 100+ years for them to accept them and say “Well, it was never really DOCTRINE that the Church discriminated against LGBT people and their allies, and we as a church now condemn the discrimination of all people, regardless of sexual orientation.”

    1. When I read these statements on lds.org. My rational was the same that you stated, well if it wasn’t revelation in the first place and no other prophet spoke against it but just went along then how are we lead by Prophets, Seers and Revelators. I am sorry but there can only be one conclusion.
      Joseph Smith said we should be prophets to ourselves, maybe we should take his advice …

    2. It will be much longer before that happens—something about hell and freezing over comes to mind. Nothing on this topic even hints at a tie to gay rights. So, the church says theories about WHY blacks were denied the PH are not true. I think you will find that the admission that the reason was not really known is NOTHING NEW.

      I have old Bookcraft and Deseret Books “church books” that say the SAME THING after relating the theories. And recall that the list of “official” church books is pretty SMALL…these books were and maybe still are just OPINION…

      There are no “theories” needed to defend the church position on homosexuality—just look at the Old Testament.

      What IS wrong is the idea that church members have a RIGHT to mistreat people for having these views. And the church does NOT endorse THAT.

      There are a big differences between the two topics—let’s not trivialize either by making false links between the two.


    3. I agree with what you’re saying, but not on the gay marriage issue specifically. The point that you raise though is spot on. The attitude that the church leaders cannot lead us astray is utter nonsense. And unscriptural to boot. I posted another comment on this page saying more.

  5. What are we to make of the LDS doctrine that trades in the ancient racism associated with the tribes of Israel as a “chosen” people?

    As I understand it, Paul made the bold move of extending Christianity beyond an exclusivity defined by blood line. And then Joseph’s “restoration” apparently retreated back into it with patriarchal blessings that declare ones Israelite lineage.

    My patriarchal blessing reads:

    “Now you are a descendent of ancient preheats, of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and through Jacob’s son Joseph, you are of the lineage of the tribe of Ephraim. You are entitled to the many blessings that were given to Ephraim.”

    This sounds literal to me. But whether literal or metaphorical, it still seems to substantiate racist exclusivity.

    1. I do agree that we would be better served as a church/people if the priesthood authority was extended to women in general. Thoughtful women like those you listed would be natural leaders (with decision making power!).

  6. Margaret, when you show people that actual scriptures contain no
    mention of the curse of Cain/Ham being a race or color, aren’t you
    ignoring the Pearl of Great Price? Moses 7:22 and Abraham 1-2 are
    seemingly clear to the untrained. The Book of Abraham describes the
    pharaoh of Egypt as belonging to a lineage (so there IS one) which could
    not have the priesthood despite righteousness, and even refers to the
    right of priesthood in terms of the “literal seed, or the seed of the
    body.” It seems to me that the Church’s biggest problem is not that
    Brigham Young et al. said horrible things, but that the defining new
    scriptures of the Restoration, Book of Mormon included, contain a
    resurgence of Old Testament-style racial allegory and
    group/tribe/lineage theology that the New Testament had seemed to do
    away with. These are tense additions to a gospel of personal

    I may be ignorant of current theory, but I’m not aware of a close reading
    of the scripture that resolves the difficulties, beyond avoiding or trivializing the hard parts. But if these scriptures can be well explained and understood, then the Church can explain the racist doctrines/interpretations taught by former Prophets as easy misunderstandings of these very scriptures, which REALLY mean _____.
    And point to them. Better yet, the Prophet might even be given the authority to revise for modern clarity. But otherwise, without addressing Restoration canon, the Church is still in the uncomfortable position of having a priesthood ban in scripture, and its denunciation in mere website policy.

    If it’s a priesthood ban on an unknown, possibly-mythical race, we still
    need to understand what it means. Or why would we have the scripture at all?

    1. Agreed. Margaret says often that we need to let the scriptures speak for themselves. But I see the scriptures as being problematic if we teach to read them literally. If on the other hand we teach to approach the scriptures as stories we can learn from and are open to our own response and interpretation… basically looking at them as a springboard for discussion… then I think it will be easier to use the scriptures. But there are problems in the scriptures that are the basis for racist beliefs and practices, not to mention other problematic social practices.

    2. I think we need to be careful with using this word “racist” so loosely in a country now where everything is racist i don’t think we are in a position to understand the whole picture.

  7. Pingback: Juvenile Instructor » Mormon Studies Review: The “Really?!” Edition

  8. Pingback: Race and Rationalizations | JTurnonMormonism

    1. We do what we can to provide background dogs!

      (Just a circumstance of Margaret being the only one home when we recorded and it coinciding with the time the dog is usually taken for a walk! A very confused dog who likely “had to go”!)

  9. “not ordain men of black African descent to its priesthood or allow black men or women to participate in temple endowment or sealing ordinances”

    That’s a mistake. The church also didn’t ordain mediterranean race men who were born in Africa, like Egyptians, Libyans or Moroccans. I had a Bishop briefly in the ’80s who was a son of Egyptian immigrants and whiter than me but he was not allowed to hold the priesthood from the time he was baptized in the ’60s until ’78.

    Plus it’s true that the webpage (which is difficult to find) isn’t signed off by the first presidency so for any racists out there they can just dismiss it as an opinion of some current historians (which also has its errors) rather than some official church declaration.

  10. These are all great comments and bring up excellent, deeper points and questions. My question is, couldn’t “they” at least have said something like: “We are so sorry and mortified that these past teachings have offended so many people.”

  11. So what next? I suggest that we allow local cultures to blossom and flourish in the church. Where is the artwork from different nations portrayed in the Ensign, or on Temple Square? I’m really tired of the Big Strong White Bearded Wasatch Front Jesus. Some wards and stakes have created the custom of displaying thousands of creche exhibits during the christmas season. Those exhibits show Jesus portrayed from cultural contexts all over the world. They are awesome. Let’s do it all the time now, not just with creche displays. We should allow people to attend church without western-missionary–business attire. We should allow them to celebrate their cultural heritage and its richness and goodness and diversity.

    And what about music? We could really broaden our worship with diverse music. Why is it African drums and rhythms are considered to not be worshipful by western-business-church leaders but a great way to celebrate the divine by millions. I saw this in Brazil. True joy in dance, rhythm, movement, and singing.

    While there is a place for choral music… it is not the only way to worship through music.

  12. Also… I agree that we need to discuss these things in unity. However, we so quickly forget that unity only makes sense and is possible when *diversity is flourishing*

    In other words, we need difference, and we need individuals in order for us to come together. If we all agree and see things in the same way, I’m not sure this is real unity or love. Love happens when we fully embrace “the other.”

    Religion is to teach us to encounter and love “the other.” We should allow one another the freedom to express and to, at times, demand an accounting of abusive behavior by others.

    I do believe that John Delin made a great point that we hold individuals to a standard of repentance which is to confess, forsake, and make restitution. Ought we not to hold the “institution” to the same standard?

    I also really like Gina’s point… What is the institution if it isn’t us? Are *we* the people not the Church?

  13. I agree it still seems confusing as to whether the ban was wrong or merely the explanations of the ban was wrong. I do think leadership needs to make a public statement/apology in a Conference session. We are taught the process of repentance involves making restitution to those wronged.
    My takeaway from some of Janan’s comments were that we need to hear the personal, painful stories of those who were affected by this ban. I wholeheartedly agree. I think personal stories can help move us forward and help us grow into more Christ-like people. Throughout history minority groups have been demonized by the majority. Personal stories can serve to break down barriers of ignorance. I thought it marvelous the “truth and reconciliation” commission instituted by Mandela and it’s role in knitting the country back together.

    1. If you factor in that Brigham Young wore 2 hats, one as church president and one as governor of Utah during a major shift in the US position on slavery it seems clear to me that he acted in the best interests of the church and the state AT THAT TIME.

      The situation has morfed significantly since that time and the church’s leaders sought out God for revelation on this priesthood issue. So, to me, the whole issue about where the policy of denial came from seems moot. President Young exercised his authority
      and it took changes in the society as a whole to open up the time for a change to be right and in the best interests of the church AS A WHOLE..

      When the change came, most memberrs were ready for it, but it
      took awhile to get over the lore that was built up around the ban..

      The church owes no one any further explanation(s). As President Hinckly said “That is all behind us…”.

  14. Thank you for this great discussion! I hope many artists and manual writers hear this along with the rank and file. I have been teaching in Primary for years and am now the president in my US military/international ward in Germany. I have always appreciated using the Gospel Art Kit for lessons and Sharing Time and have struggled with how ethnocentric the images are. Granted, there are some multiethnic images but I hope that the stories and images we are prompted to share in future versions of the manuals (which are largely going online-Hurray!) will incorporate more diversity – ethnic and gender. I’ve found the image library is a great step towards this and I hope chapels across the world are given newer posters and kit images. Images and stories are such powerful tools as we teach future generations about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thanks again for this discussion!

  15. Halfway through the podcast, and haven’t read the comments, but I have to chime in here to say that I absolutely cannot support Margaret’s approach. Why does she continue to apologize for the institution? The men at the top need to be big boys and own up to their mistakes and those of their institutional predecessors. Period.

    Of course, the membership should be actively empathetic to those harmed, get the word out, and fall in line behind the brethren, as they have always done. But the cue they are taking right now from the brethren is the same one — we are right, and we have always ultimately been right, despite the past mistakes of a few rogue prophets. It just took us a while to be right, so no true institutional introspection is needed. Maddening.

  16. It appears to me that:

    1) The ban was Church Doctrine
    2) The mark upon the seed of Cain was Church Doctrine (not just a theory).
    3) The idea that pre-mortal spirits gained superior/inferior positions was Church Doctrine (not just a theory).
    4) Interracial marriage with Blacks was (and still is?) contrary to Church Doctrine.
    5) Multiple Mormon Prophets had deep rooted feelings against the Black people.
    6) The ideas recently labeled “theories” were taught as Church Doctrine by prophets of the Church.

    I added capitalization in a few areas…

    Pearl of Great Price:Moses 7:22
    (see also: Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 5:21 )

    And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them.

    Bruce R. McConkie’s book “Mormon Doctrine”, 1958 edition, pages 107-108

    …in a broad general sense, caste systems have their origin in the gospel itself, and when they operate according to the divine decree, the resultant restrictions and segregation are right and proper and have the approval of the lord.

    To illustrate: Cain, Ham, and the whole negro race have been cursed with a black skin, the mark of Cain, so they can be identified as a caste apart, a people with whom the other descendants of Adam should not intermarry.

    Brigham Young compared his sermons with scripture:

    “I know just as well what to teach this people and just what to say to them and what to do in order to bring them into the celestial kingdom…I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture. Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon, and it is as good Scripture as they deserve. The people have the oracles of God continually.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 13, p. 95).

    Brigham Young comments about blacks:

    “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind….Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord PUT A MARK UPON HIM, which is the flat nose and black skin.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, p. 290).

    “In our first settlement in Missouri, it was said by our enemies that we intended to tamper with the slaves, not that we had any idea of the kind, for such a thing never entered our minds. We knew that the children of Ham were to be the “servant of servants,” and no power under heaven could hinder it, so long as the Lord would permit them to welter under the curse and those were known to be our religious views concerning
    them.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 2, p. 172).

    “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the PENALTY, under the law of God, is DEATH on the spot. THIS WILL ALWAYS BE SO.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10, p. 110).

    George Albert Smith, J Ruben Clark and David O McKay, 1947

    The basic element of your ideas and concepts seems to be that all God’s children stand in equal positions before Him in all things.

    Your knowledge of the Gospel will indicate to you that this is contrast to the very fundamentals of God’s dealings with Israel dating from the time of His promise to Abraham regarding Abraham’s seed and their position vis-a-vis God himself. Indeed, some of God’s children were assigned to SUPERIOR POSITIONS before the world was formed. We are aware that some Higher Critics do not accept this, BUT THE CHURCH DOES.

    Your position seems to lose sight of the revelations of the Lord touching the preexistence of our spirits, the rebellion in heaven, and the doctrines that our birth into this life and the advantages under which we may be born, have a relationship in the life heretofore.

    From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has BEEN THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel.

    Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been MOST REPUGNANT to most normal-minded people from the ancient patriarchs till now. God’s rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous. Modern Israel has been similarly directed.

    We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this area, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church AND IT IS CONTRARY TO CHURCH DOCTRINE.

  17. I am a little torn on the new church statement. While certainly a great improvement over past
    approach to the issue, I wish it was a bit more open and honest with the

    Things I like:

    Acknowledges temple ban aspect that impacted
    black women as well as men.

    Mentions Joseph Smith opposed slavery

    Mentions black men ordained during Joseph’s time
    and participated in temple ceremonies.

    Disavows all “theories” attempting to explain
    the ban.

    Thing I did not like:

    Seems to excuse Brigham Young and his predecessors’
    racism by blaming it on the culture.
    While I believe for ordinary men this is an acceptable answer, but for
    men who are supposed to be receiving constant revelation from God I do not
    accept this explanation. Especially when
    the Quorum of the 12 were thinking about and discussing the validity of Elijah
    Abel’s priesthood as early as the turn of the century. To say they were not asking these questions
    earlier than the 1978 revelation is disingenuous.

    Doesn’t mention the fact that Elijah Abel’s decedents
    held the Aaronic priesthood.

    Doesn’t acknowledge the source of the pre-existence
    myth (Orson Hyde, Apostle, 1845) or that
    the myths were widely believed and propagated by the Prophets, Apostles and
    other General Authorities of the LDS Church.
    Instead it gives the impression members themselves came up with the
    myths that were then spread by word of mouth.

    No mention of how influential the Lester Bush
    article was in helping Spencer W. Kimball take up the issue and eventually reverse
    the policy.

    Wish you guys would have addressed some of the “not liked”
    things in your discussion, but I understand there is a time limit. (Maybe a part 2?:). Thanks for talking about it.

  18. Perhaps it will be coming, but what I feel is lacking from the discussion is a clear definition of a prophet, revelation, official doctrine, and infallibility of the leaders. To me the tacit implication here is finally doing away with the utterly unscriptural belief that the leaders of the church, specifically the president, aka prophet, can never lead us astray. Clearly they CAN and HAVE. That doesn’t mean they aren’t inspired or that their priesthood authority is illegitimate, it just means they aren’t perfect. We are all a product of our culture to a certain extent. In the cultural context I can see legitimate arguments for BY banning blacks from the priesthood. It was a dark time and the church needed to protect itself and was trying to get statehood. But it’s not a policy that should have lasted until 1978, well over a hundred years after the slaves were freed, even until after the civil rights movement, good grief. It’s beyond embarrassing that it lasted this long. This attitude that the prophet is infallible is very dangerous as it causes members to be complacent. They go into a mode of essentially placing their salvation in his hands, which is totally wrong. For example people were creating all sorts of silly excuses for the ban on the blacks. Oh, well they must not be righteous or something. I’ve got a better idea, how about the leaders of the church are just WRONG. It’s appropriate for the members to challenge the leadership and serve as a kind of check and balance. Mormonism as a religion, the gospel, is totally separate from the organization of the church. The 4 principles of the gospel are faith in Christ, repentance, baptism, and then receiving and following the Holy Ghost. It’s all about the atonement, which depends on PERSONAL revelation. We are all “prophets,” and the scriptures say this. Christ leads each of us up the mountain directly, not lead the prophet who then leads us. The “prophet” is only the “prophet” as far as the organization of the church goes. Put another way, he’s only responsible 3 hrs every week, if even that much. Revelation can be received by any member whether he or she has a calling or not. Study the history of the authorship of the New Testament. Most of it was written by men who were not leaders in the priesthood organization. But yet they were receiving revelation which was important for the whole church, and which we now regard as scripture and have included in our cannon. I fully believe that members outside the organizational structure absolutely can receive revelation and even call higher leaders to repentance. Now that said, this is different than usurping the authority of a particular leader. Someone for example couldn’t challenge a priesthood leaders authority, like saying that he should be the new prophet or that he should be the bishop of the ward as opposed to some other member. Inspiration and revelation aren’t tied to the hip with priesthood authority, they are two different things. A leader can be completely uninspired but he’s still the one with the authority to act in that calling. He’s the one that has been granted the responsibility. Members can receive revelations outside the context of the organization. And if it’s for public consumption they can publish this revelation that they claim to have received. And then all of us, by that same power of the spirit, can discern whether it’s legitimate or not. Based on this essay it would seem that anybody from the time of Brigham Young to 1978 who expressed disagreement with the church’s policy on banning blacks from the priesthood was RIGHT. I wonder, are there any examples of anybody who claimed publicly to have received a revelation that the church leaders were wrong on this policy and needed to repent and seek guidance from the Lord on the matter? Even if we can’t find records of such a person, I guarantee you several existed, probably thousands of such persons. And if the church culture hadn’t had this attitude that revelation can only come from the “prophet” maybe they would have been listened to.

  19. How convenient, Black/Khazar (‘Jew’) president, now all race solidarity and Obvious differences in demeanor, history, and such are Out the Window..Those ‘Apostles’ must be really rolling in the Cash Now! (as during WWII when they profited from arms deals with Germany…) L(oyal) D(evils,) S(Servants,) are hitting their stride now! Just look at all those Pentagrams on the Temples! But Oh NO! NO Crosses, Especially Not the Orthdox Cross Oh No! The Dark Lord would NOt appreciate that!

  20. I’m sorry but I’m tried of the saying “it’s up to the members to pray and receive their own witness that what the prophet is saying is true.” People only say this when prophets get it wrong. This is the typical blaming the victim approach, all it is switching accountability from the prophet to the member. I agree the race article was only about protecting the institution. The church seems to be more concerned in protecting themselves than they do in doing what is right.

  21. wrong about plural marriage and now race? what else could the founders of the church have been wrong about. betting your eternity on men.

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