“Our living prophet, President David O. McKay, has said, ‘The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God….’” —1969 First Presidency Statement

Darron SmithA guest post by Darron Smith

As an African-American Latter-day Saint and the co-editor of Black and Mormon, a book-length anthology published in 2004 exploring black Mormons and their place in the LDS Church since the 1978 priesthood revelation, I applaud the LDS Church’s most recent effort to deal with its troubling racial past as reflected in its 6 December 2013 statement “Race and the Priesthood.”

For decades, however, the Church has not forthrightly addressed its racist past despite calls from many of its more progressive black and white members. Not surprisingly, the black membership worldwide remains small, between one and three percent according to survey data. Most black members reside in and practice their faith on the continent of Africa, mainly in South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, and the Congo. According to a 2009 Pew survey, approximately three percent of US Mormons, or 186,000 people, are black.

While efforts were being made at the federal level to dismantle Jim Crow racism and desegregate the nation, the LDS Church was determined to maintain the position that people of African ancestry were under divine sanctions. Mormon leaders then proceeded to advance a number of racist theories to justify this belief, including that black people were the sons and daughters of Cain. This idea was disseminated through a sizable body of official writings, doctrinal pronouncements, and conference talks to the general membership of the Church.

Unfortunately, with no words to the contrary by church leaders until now, these teachings and understandings have persisted well into the 21st century. Evidence of just how pervasive these beliefs were came as late as February 2012 when Brigham Young University religion professor Randy Bott gave an interview with Washington Post reporter Jason Horowitz where he articulated much of the old racist folklore in Mormonism that had been in existence for over 130 years. Bott spoke of curses and marks on people of African lineage, invoking the book of Genesis in the Bible and Mormon scripture found in the Book of Abraham.

Sadly, these beliefs reach further than just the white membership and have actually gone on to instill what appears as self-hatred in a number of black Mormons. Throughout America’s racist history, Blacks have sought the approval of Whites in order to gain some recognition or simply a reprieve from the everyday microaggressions of race-based mistreatment. Yet, that approval requires Blacks to accept occupying a “lesser” status in society as well as in the hereafter. More than a few black Mormons here in America have gone on record reflecting these same racist ideas about themselves as inspired by God.

Examples of black Mormon complicity are seen in individuals like Keith Hamilton and Alan Cherry, who believe that they themselves were cursed. The Salt Lake Tribune ran a story in 2011 about Keith Hamilton, an African American Mormon man who wrote the memoir Last Laborer: Thoughts and Reflections of a Black Mormon. In the book, Hamilton states, “Withholding the priesthood from blacks was part of God’s unfolding plan.” Despite the ban’s existence through a century and a half of racism in American history, Hamilton maintains that it was “no man-made policy… nor a policy instituted because some white LDS Church leader(s) had concerns about black-white relations.”

Other black Mormons have found ways to reconcile the race-based teachings of Mormonism by channeling Church authorities and declaring “only God knows” in reference to why Blacks were not allowed to fully participate in the LDS faith. Alan Cherry was one of a handful of African Americans who converted to the Mormon faith and attended Brigham Young University in the 1970s before the lifting of the ban. In an interview with the LDS-owned Deseret News, Cherry told reporter Molly Farmer, “From the very beginning my impression that came from heaven was I was not to worry about priesthood restriction.” He continued by saying that men and women must stop looking for inequalities and injustices, and instead, be happy for those who have more.

How could Blacks join the Mormon faith given its blatant anti-black teachings?

The truth is the Church’s racial history is not a forthright conversation that missionaries volunteer with their potential converts. It is possible then, that most black Mormon converts do not know the extent of the Mormon race folklore until some time after they have been baptized into the Church when they hear murmurings about a patronizing, racist past. Either way, some find ways to reconcile those beliefs in the predominantly white faith while others understandably leave.

For many black LDS who stay and practice their faith, often the messages and principles of the faith, such as the gospel’s emphasis on family and community, trump the racist past (and present). Still others have come to believe, like their white counterparts, that Church authorities’ statements on controversial issues are institutionally sanctioned pronouncements by God, when in fact, they often reflect individual political and social prejudicial views. Whether they converted or are second generation LDS, most black Mormons politely ignore the racist teachings, which in effect marginalizes them.

I am in full support of the LDS Church’s effort to move beyond its racist past. This admission, however, will likely create significant problems moving forward for those Mormons who have been taught the LDS notion of prophetic infallibility. In light of these new developments, many more Godly questions have been left unanswered. As these issues are addressed, old doctrines may be discarded and retaught where necessary in efforts to seek full equality and justice for all members.

 

Dr. Darron Smith is an assistant professor in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.

Follow him on twitter @drdarronsmith.

84 Comments

  1. For believing Latter-day Saints, I think there is little choice but to accept the words of Gordon B. Hinckley and others who have stated that we simply do not know the reasons behind the institution of the ban. Clearly from the recent LDS Newsroom release on the matter, we can point to a time and place that it was first publicly stated, but we still lack understanding to answer the question “why.”

    At the very time in which Brigham Young spoke of the ban, he also spoke of a future time that it would be lifted. If he harbored animosity toward blacks such as would result in a racist-motivated priesthood ban, it seems highly unlikely that he would concurrently declare its future cessation. Absent a written historical record to spell it out, we are left to our own speculations, and the response of “we don’t know” is still quite valid. It’s entirely possible that Young HIMSELF didn’t know.

    There can be no question that Young was a product of the period in which he lived, and that he and many others after him may have believed any number of theories about differences between the races. That much of this speculation is readily criticized in the 21st century as racist [and rightfully so] doesn’t necessarily mean that those who believed it previously did so out of any measure of malice whatsoever. Ignorance is different from hatred. They can be mutually exclusive just as much as they can be mutually reinforcing.

    Perhaps the best statement I have ever read on this subject is from Dallin H. Oaks, who was interviewed by the Associated Press in 1988. From the interview:

    “If you read the scriptures with this question in mind, ‘Why did the Lord command this or why did he command that,’ you find that in less than one in a hundred commands was any reason given. It’s not the pattern of the Lord to give reasons. We can put reasons to commandments. When we do we’re on our own. Some people put reasons to [the ban] and they turned out to be spectacularly wrong. There is a lesson in that…. The lesson I’ve drawn from that, I decided a long time ago that I had faith in the command and I had no faith in the reasons that had been suggested for it… I’m referring to reasons given by general authorities and reasons elaborated upon [those reasons] by others. The whole set of reasons seemed to me to be unnecessary risk taking… Let’s [not] make the mistake that’s been made in the past, here and in other areas, trying to put reasons to revelation. The reasons turn out to be man-made to a great extent. The revelations are what we sustain as the will of the Lord and that’s where safety lies.” (“Apostles Talk about Reasons for Lifting Ban,” Daily Herald, Provo, Utah (5 June 1988): 21 (Associated Press); reproduced with commentary in Dallin H. Oaks, Life’s Lessons Learned: Personal Reflections (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 2011), p.68-69)

    What I’ve found interesting in the intervening years since President Kimball’s revelation in 1978 is that Latter-day Saints by and large have not learned the lesson described by Elder Oaks above. We continue to speculate quite freely on the question of priesthood. The only difference is the nature of the speculation. Rather than speculating upon reasons why the Lord may have instituted the ban in the first place, we now speculate upon the origin of the ban and the motivations of Brigham Young and others who perpetuated it.

    In both cases we are employing man-made reasoning rather than having a full knowledge of the facts. Where once we used to rationalize the existence of the ban, we now rationalize its origin to suit our personal expectations of how it ever happened, when “we don’t know” is still the best answer to the question.

    For the believing Latter-day Saint, the core questions have never changed:

    * Do we believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost?

    * Do we believe that the Father and Son appeared to Joseph Smith and restored Their church to the earth in the latter days, including a restoration of priesthood authority and offices such as prophets and apostles who are called of God to administer the kingdom on the earth?

    * Do we believe that this authority has been authoritatively passed down to each of Joseph Smith’s successors, and resides today under the leadership of Thomas S. Monson?

    * Do we believe that the Standard Works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price) are the word of God?

    * Do we believe that through the atonement of Jesus Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the principles and ordinances of the gospel?

    For the believing Latter-day Saint, the answer to these questions are really what matter. There are many things we do not know. Many may yet be revealed in our lifetimes. Others may only be opened to our eyes after this mortal life. If we believe in God and trust in Christ and do Their will according to our capacity, we’re on pretty solid footing. Sure, we can speculate about the things that some people have done and said over the years, and we can pick up the biggest stones we can find. Or we can focus our energies on putting our own lives in order and rescuing our large human family as Christ would have us do.

    • Duwayne Anderson

      Tom wrote: “Do we believe that the Standard Works (Bible, Book of Mormon, ….”

      I don’t understand how any intelligent, intellectually honest, and informed person can believe in the Book of Mormon. And I don’t see how any ethical/moral person can believe it, either. Especially when the Book of Mormon says garbage like this:

      “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.” [Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:21]

      http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/5.21?lang=eng#20

      Mormons say they don’t know why their prophets were racists.
      They say they don’t know why their prophets married little 14-year-old “wives.”
      They say they don’t know why the prophet would bother telling them it’s okay to drink sugary caffeinated soda, but not green tea.
      They say they don’t know why none of the Book of Mormon cities can be found.

      Oh, the mysteries of the gospel!

      But ex-Mormons know the answers to all those questions — the answer in each case is:

      “because Mormonism isn’t true, and Mormon “prophets” are just bureaucrats and regular guys, with no inspiration or intuition that’s out of the ordinary.”

      • Mormons were driven out of slave state ambitious Missouri because they were not pro-slavaery.

        Write me a scenario where the Mormons who were followed to Utah 10years after they left the US by an army of 2500 bent on punishing them for a purported rebellion could have continued to exist in any capacity in a racist America if blacks were treated as Joseph Smith started treating them/

        If you didn’t have tunnel vision you might notice that there are no separate black and white Mormon churches. Blacks weren’t actively proselyted but any who knocked were allowed in as far as I know just not given the Preisthood which limited racial intermarriages.

        Because of the times and the racism in WASP America survival was an issue. Can you picture the hornets nest that the dark forces (Satan-yes that old fashioned entity some still watch out for to avoid) would have stirred up if their were black polygamists when the US changed their laws to force Mormons to change their religious rules?

        Different times but for the faithful the answer was and still is “Be still and know that I am God”. Even now and in what looks like dire straits, His will is being sdone and scenarios for future happenings are being laid. Does the Mormon Church know and anticipate all that God has coming at and to us? No, but they and all others have the knowledge God wants them to have.

        • Duwayne Anderson

          Mormons were driven out of Missouri for a lot of reasons, including the way they would “consecrate” stolen property from the “gentiles.”

          But even if they were anti-slavery, and even if that was why they were driven out, it wouldn’t change the fact that the Book of Mormon is filled with racism. Racism is often a complicated thing — and not all racists behave the same way.

          That said, slavery was legal in Utah, and Mormons had no problem owning slaves.

          http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/pioneers_and_cowboys/slaveryinutah.html

        • Duwayne Anderson

          Lillith wrote: “Because of the times … survival was an issue. Can you picture the hornets nest that the dark forces (Satan…) would have stirred up if their were black polygamists …?”

          Mormons were racists because their “survival” depended on it?

          Seriously?

          I have to say, that is one of the worst and most cowardly arguments I’ve yet to see. When Mormons try to justify their racism they inevitably end up making matters much worse.

          • What is incomprehensible about Lillith’s statement is the Church just taught in its statement posted on lds.org that it doesn’t know the reason for the ban, so quit trying to speculate. As TomW pointed out, this is exactly what Oakes and Hinckley taught. However, so many members still have the unquenchable need to find justifications for the ban. In this case, Satan would have destroyed the Church otherwise. Wow.

      • Hey Duwayne, nice to see the opposition out. Not surprised to see you here. You fulfill the old public relations adage, “You’re only in trouble when they stop talking about you.” I do sincerely hope all is well with you and wish you and yours have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I’m sure we’ll be on opposites ends then too. Take care.

        • Duwayne Anderson

          Mormons will sometime drop Freudian slips that offer deep insight. Take, for example, Lew Craig’s use of the word “opposition.”

          For many Mormons, truth is irrelevant. It’s more like a football game between BYU and the University of Utah, where there is the home team (the good guys) and the “opposition.”

          It seems impossible to convince ideologues who see the world composed of “Saints” and “Gentiles” that, just perhaps, it’s more important to seek the truth than to worry about who is, or isn’t, part of the “opposition.”

      • Duwayne, you’re surely entitled to not believe that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and you’re surely entitled to believe anything else that you like. My remarks were directed to the position of the believer, not the naysayer. It’s easy to throw stones when you already hold others in contempt.

        • Duwayne Anderson

          TomW wrote: “…you’re surely entitled to believe anything else that you like.”

          Gosh, thanks Tom.

          TomW wrote: “My remarks were directed to the position of the believer, not the naysayer.”

          My comments are also directed to the position of the believer, namely, I don’t understand how any intelligent, intellectually honest, and informed person can believe in the Book of Mormon. Perhaps, as a believer, you can explain this mystery to me?

    • Duwayne Anderson

      Tom wrote: “… the answer to these questions are really what matter…”

      No questions matter more than the ones asked during the temple recommend interview — because without answering those questions correctly, there’s no temple recommend, and there are no ordinances required for exaltation.

      And a large fraction of *those* questions are focused on serving the church:

      1) Pay your tithing (money) to the church
      2) Sustain your church leaders (even the racist prophets)
      3) Affirm that Mormonism is the only true church
      4) Go to your church meetings

      And after someone gets their temple recommend, they get to go to the temple where they find that one of the requirements is to be placed under an oath of “consecration,” in which they “consecrate” *all* that they have (money, talents, etc.) to the Mormon Church.

      • In the Mormon Church what matters is their own business!! Might I ask my fellow Americans to get off our case? Especially when you have tunnel vision and/or driven by hate and whatever. Mormons have the 11th Article of Faith and so we just may prove to be a bit more tolerant but maybe not.

        We are people and subject to human stuff except as we listen and relate to Higher Power and follow in His ways. The universal message of Mormonism is appealling as in th old gospel tune “If I be lifted up I bring all men to me”.

        If the Mormon Church is the true church then opposers fight God. If not it is at least a place where people try to do right–do good-be good (the message of Christ (read James)

        It is hard not to hate those who hate and despise and denigrate what one believes. But then Christ expects it so there we are.

        • Duwayne Anderson

          Mormon prophets, seers, and revelators fought the Civil Rights movement.

          http://themormonworker.wordpress.com/2009/01/19/ezra-taft-benson-and-mlk/

          They organized and fought the Equal Rights Amendment.

          http://www.humanistsofutah.org/2005/MormonChurchAndERA_Aug-05.html

          They were a main driving force behind the unconstitutional Prop 8.

          http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/15/us/politics/15marriage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

          When Mormons portray themselves as loving do-gooders they’re looking through rose-colored glasses. During many of the most significant opportunities to do social good, Mormons were either on the wrong side, or sitting on the sidelines.

          • Another way of putting that, Duwayne, is that Ezra Taft Benson and others opposed the well-documented Communist undercurrent in portions of the Civil Rights movement – something he was well aware of from his 8 years serving in the U.S. Cabinet as Secretary of Agriculture under Eisenhower. That’s a different thing entirely from opposing civil rights in general.

            In the 1970’s the leadership of the church absolutely spoke out against the ERA, which, as written, the church believed (and still believes) would erode family and society. The church was not presented an alternative piece of legislation which might have addressed its concerns, so it had no choice but to oppose it altogether.

            Here is just one link which goes into that: http://www.lds.org/ensign/1980/03/the-church-and-the-proposed-equal-rights-amendment-a-moral-issue/the-latter-day-saint-perspective

            As for Prop 8, the church is fully entitled to weigh in on matters of morality in society. I am proud to have followed the First Presidency in giving my best effort in successfully passing the measure.

          • Duwayne Anderson

            Tom wrote: “Another way of putting that, Duwayne, is that Ezra Taft Benson and others opposed the well-documented Communist undercurrent in portions of the Civil Rights movement …”

            Mormons really don’t understand that the more they try to defend their racist leaders, the deeper they dig the hole.

            One has to wonder why Mormons can’s simply repent of their racism. It’s as if there is a deep revulsion within Mormonism to ever admitting an error, or apologizing for it.

          • So true, and so regrettable. I cannot believe in such a god. I cannot explain those who claim spiritual witnesses that the church was still “true” despite obviously immoral policies. Perhaps God does work in mysterious ways. But this is no way to treat people. If the church wants to lead morally, then it should lead. It has followed, and changed only grudgingly.

        • Duwayne Anderson

          Lillith wrote: “In the Mormon Church what matters is their own business!!”

          That’s true If you’re not asking for tax exempt status, which the church demands.

          That’s true if you don’t hold yourselves up as “holier than thou” for being so charitable, when you aren’t.

          Lillith wrote: “..you have tunnel vision and/or driven by hate and whatever.”

          That’s your indoctrination speaking.

      • By all means, Duwayne, the temple recommend interview questions are a great barometer of adherence to LDS belief.

        I love how you raise certain matters as being “focused on serving the church” when each of them is simply part and parcel of being a practicing disciple of Christ.

        1. Tithing is nothing new. It goes back to the Old Testament. In Malachi we read that the failure to pay tithes is robbing God.

        2. If one believes that the church is truly restored to the earth by divine authority, and continues to be guided by men who are called as prophets and apostles by the Lord Himself, then sustaining these leaders pretty much goes with the program. The scriptures are loaded with examples of people who heeded the words of the prophets and were blessed, and those who disobeyed the words of the prophets at their peril. If given the choice, I’ll strive to follow their direction rather than yours any day.

        3. What exactly would be the point of becoming a Latter-day Saint if one does not believe its claims of divine restoration and being the only true church? If I believed that the LDS church was merely one of many equally valid options, I’d certainly find a more low-maintenance alternative where sacrifices of time and resources would be less. Apparently many people are content with that. I’m not.

        4. How exactly is it the least bit remarkable that a church would direct its adherents to gather together on the Sabbath day to offer up one’s devotions to the Most High? That this is even a point of criticism speaks volumes.

        5. Consecration isn’t exactly a new thing either. It is the epitome of discipleship. You may recall this passage from Mark 10:17-22:

        “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?

        “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.

        “Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.

        “And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.

        “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

        “And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.”

        Personally I would not wish to stake my relationship with the Savior on my unwillingness to consecrate my possessions if it were required of me. Besides, some of the most rewarding spiritual experiences in life are those which result from selfless giving of one’s time and resources.

        • Duwayne Anderson

          Tom wrote: “I love how you raise certain matters as being “focused on serving the church” when each of them is simply part and parcel of being a practicing disciple of Christ.”

          Tom, you are confusing your leaders for Jesus.

          Tom wrote: “Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.”

          You’ve just made my point. Jesus didn’t say to give one’s money to a *church,* he said to give it to the *poor.*

          What Mormons have done is completely bastardize what Jesus taught. Within Mormonism, the money *has* to go to the church. If a person gives 10% directly to the poor, or a charitable organization, they will *not* qualify for a temple recommend. It has to go to the Mormon Church.

          With Mormonism, it’s all about *them* getting the money. Not the poor, as Jesus commanded. The Mormon Church as completely turned Jesus’ commandments inside out and upside down.

          Worse, the Mormon Church is among the least charitable “charities,” giving a tiny fraction of their enormous income/wealth to the poor (and then, mainly when there is a good opportunity for a public relations blurb). In Canada, for example, the Mormon Church’s tax receipts for charitable giving amount to only 2% or their enormous income.

          http://donate2charities.ca/en/THE.CHURCH.OF.JESUS.CHRIST.OF.LATTER-DAY.SAINTS.IN.CANADA._.2_119223758RR0001

          The Mormon Church lavishes itself with gaudy temples. They build multi-billion-dollar malls. They are the largest land owner in Florida, owning the largest cattle ranch in America. The Mormon Church is a wealthy multi-billion-dollar corporation.

          Based on the caricature of Jesus in the New Testament, one can imagine that giving money to the Mormon Church makes Jesus sick.

    • Duwayne Anderson

      TomW wrote: “…there is little choice but to accept the words of Gordon B. Hinckley and others who have stated that we simply do not know the reasons behind the institution of the ban.”

      Hinckley, Oaks, and other General Authorities who say they “do not know the reasons behind the … ban” are simply lying. They know *exactly* the reasons, because the people who enforced the ban explained their reasons in excruciating detail. Those reasons were very simple: Blacks were not allowed to hold the priesthood because they were “cursed” because they were not “valiant” in the pre-existence. That was *the* reason that Mormon prophets, gave for denying Blacks the priesthood. They explained those reasons in detail. See the following links for explanations offered by these Mormon prophets for their racist doctrines:

      http://www.christiandefense.org/mor_black.htm

      http://yhvh.name/?w=548

      The current rush to assert that no reasons were given, and that Mormons don’t know “why” Blacks were denied the priesthood is extraordinarily dishonest. How can any religion be “true” when the defenders and apologists of that religion feel compelled to lie about the church’s history and doctrines?

  2. The central issue with Oakes’ statement is that it fails to address the simple fact that the Priesthood ban was inherently wrong. Oakes’ is essentially saying “it matters not to me that incorrect doctrine is taught and enforced since I accept the words of our Prophet as God’s word and direction…if I accept and follow the Prophet’s teachings as the word of God I have nothing to fear and have complied with whatever God wants of me.” This is akin to saying, even though following the Prophet in this case caused millions of members to act with blatant prejudice towards our brothers and sisters on this earth, it’s all OK because it was from God via the words of our Prophet.

    The Church has all but admitted that Young’s position was wrong. Assuming that’s true, then the following 7-8 prophets through 1978 also failed in their duty to the Church and its membership. The LDS Church teaches that some of the greatest blessings in this life are connected with temple marriage/endowment and priesthood authority in our homes. If we believe Oakes, then we must conclude that it was God’s intent to deny the sacred, life-fulfilling “blessings” to millions solely because of the color of their skin. Surely that isn’t the case, which leads to one conclusion. Brigham Young enacted the policy because it’s what he wanted to do, and the Prophets that followed failed to do anything about it (other than permit its perpetuation). As Members, we are to follow the leadership provided by the Prophet and the First Presidency. In this case, that leadership led millions of members to believe something that was wrong, denied so called blessings to millions and likely led to instilling prejudices now reflected in millions of LDS members. That, TomW, is why WE ask why the ban was initially enacted, and perpetuated. For the life of me I cannot understand how any current Member of the Church can find any justification for the ban, and thus any worth from Oakes’ statement on the subject. Like TomW, I once found comfort in such statements from the leaders of the LDS Church. Now, although I am still an active member, I am ashamed of such cowardly leadership reflected in Oakes’ spin of an explanation. If you believe Oakes’ statement, you’re essentially agreeing that it was all God’s will to deny priesthood blessings and eternal marriage to anyone who was black, and anyone married to a black person. I suppose if that is what you believe, then upward and onward with wherever that takes you in this life. As for me, that isn’t good enough.

    • “God” is the convenient excuse for most things man doesn’t understand. The LDS church leadership has played that card yet again with this less-than-forthcoming admission and absent apology. These are simply men, trying to be inspired since they wear the mantle of self-elevated importance.

      Perhaps the Mormon god’s stance is rather simple. “You idiots created the problem, not me. Don’t stick me in the middle of it.”

        • Duwayne Anderson

          Strange how people do bad things, say god commanded them to do bad things, and then argue that they don’t understand why god told them to do bad things, but that nobody can second guess them because god knows more than people do.

    • Scott, how can Oaks or any other leader of the church concur with your statement that “the Priesthood ban was inherently wrong,” absent the full story? It is entirely plausible that the ban was instituted by God for reasons not even revealed to Brigham. Absent a concrete record, I’m not going to throw stones here. I am content to look at the greater body of good which has been repeatedly corroborated by the witness of the Holy Ghost, and withhold my own speculations on the unknowable until the Lord sees fit to expose the fullness of truth on the matter to the light of day.

      You falsely state, “The Church has all but admitted that Young’s position was wrong.” No, the church admitted no such thing. What it DID disavow were many of the speculations which had been offered over the many years of the ban, and they reject all forms of racism. The church has taken no position on the origin of the ban for one of two reasons. Either “we do not know,” which was the position of Gordon B. Hinckley, whose word I esteem higher than any person currently living on the earth today, or we really do know and are suppressing something which would be damaging to the church if found out.

      I’m inclined to go with the former explanation, which I also happen to believe is the only rational course for any practicing Latter-day Saint who affirms all of the temple recommend questions which Duwayne was kind enough to bring to people’s attention.

      There’s no question, Scott, that the ban itself is a hard thing to live with. I don’t know about you, but I was a youth when it was still in effect, and I was grateful when the revelation lifting it was received. Where we appear to differ is in our willingness to judge things we know nothing about based on personal discomfort.

      • Duwayne Anderson

        Tom wrote: “It is entirely plausible that the ban was instituted by God …I am content to … withhold my own speculations on the unknowable until the Lord sees fit to expose the fullness of truth on the matter to the light of day.”

        Looks like you are throwing your god under the bus. Why’s it easier for Mormons to blame god for their racism, rather than just manning up and taking responsibility for it themselves?

      • Thank you TomW for your reply. From your comments, I assume we are of the same generation. I do wish you the best in your ongoing faithfulness, and I understand your acceptance of President Hinckley’s explanation. I also recognize the issues associated with asking “why.” In essence, the explanations from Oakes and Hinckley are the same. But in this case, is the “we don’t know” response sufficient? If yes, then do we have to accept that what was taught by the leaders of the Church on this topic for 150 plus years somehow leads to some greater good? Must I believe that a teaching that led to greater discrimination, prejudice and actions that divided, suppressed and denied were somehow of God? Do we actually believe that when Brigham Young stands before God, that God will let him know how pleased our creator is with Young for enacting the priesthood ban, and all prophets thereafter for having the courage and fortitude to continue the practice? Because, if this was all from God, then we must believe the foregoing true. I cannot in good conscience believe it so.

        • Again, Scott, absent direct knowledge, “I don’t know” is the only acceptable answer, albeit not always a very satisfying one.

          I’m less concerned about judging Brigham than I am about improving my own standing before the Lord, which is a daunting enough challenge as is!

  3. You can’t explain this away. It’s “scripture.” It’s all over in the Book of Mormon. Dark skin was a curse for a previously white people – The Lamanites. Check out this article: http://www.ldslearning.org/book-of-mormon-curse-of-dark-skin.htm

    • Unfortunately, Jane Garito, you are wrong. It is not scripture. The “mark” or curse of “blackness” is referring to a spiritual state. White = a life pure with christ, Black(ness) = a life empty of christ and lacking the light that accompanies the “light of christ” or even the Holy Ghost. This is taught by a founding member of the Genesis group, Darius Gray, who was called and appointed by President Hinckley to help assemble such a group and eventually become its president (official church calling). I would look for the “Blacks and the Scriptures” videos and/or lectures that have been compiled and taught at BYU-Provo campus. Additionally, i would encourage you to research the Genesis group, as they have two official meeting locations in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City and are official organizations of the church and have been since the early seventies (yes, early seventies, before the restoration of the priesthood to all members).

      • Duwayne Anderson

        “And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.” [Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:21]

        http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/5.21?lang=eng#20

        Notice the very clear language: “skin of blackness.”

        Notice the very clear racist explanation: “…that they might not be enticing unto my people…”

        Furthermore, other Book of Mormon verses remove all doubt that this so-called “curse” was physical and was, in fact, dark skin:

        “And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites” [3 Nephi 2:15]

        http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/3-ne/2.15?lang=eng#14

        Here’s another Mormon scripture that’s applicable:

        “…when we undertake to cover our sins [like racism] … behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.”

        • How do you know that the “skin of blackness” refers to race? I believe it may refer to a disease or other such thing. God never claimed He was changing anyone’s race. You are too eager to falsely accuse.

          • Duwayne Anderson

            Mormons call the Book of Mormon people with “black” skins Lamanties, and Mormon scripture says that the Lamanites are the Native Americans. I think most people would say that the Native Americans are many races. So, clearly, the Book of Mormon’s reference to “black skin” is a reference to a particular “race.”

            But, does it even matter whether the “skin of blackness” refers to race? Is that legalistic argument (from BYU’s law school?) even relevant?

            Is it really such a difficult concept to understand that it is racist to:

            1) brand “skin of blackness” as a curse
            2) Suggest that god uses black skin as a punishment/curse
            3) Suggest that black skin makes a person less “enticing” to others?

            Well, the Book of Mormon does all that:

            “And he [the Mormon god] had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.” [Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 5:21]

            http://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/5.21?lang=eng#20

            When folks try to argue away the racism in the Book of Mormon, they inevitably end up making things worse — not better.

          • Zack Tacorin

            Peter,

            Since the Church has taught from it’s inception that the American Indians have dark skin because of the skin of blackness given to their ancestors as explained in the Book of Mormon, how does it help the position of the LDS Church to assume this skin of blackness is a disease?

            Thanks brother!
            Zack

    • Jane, you apparently haven’t read the article the Church posted on its site. Here is an excerpt toward the bottom:

      “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.”

      • Duwayne Anderson

        So, the church has “disavowed” the Book of Mormon.

        Nice.

        Mormonism is now false because the church has disavowed its own corner stone.

        • Remarkably, the boys in Salt Lake City have painted themselves into a corner on this one. Next, J. Smith’s passages about dark-skinned Lamanites will suddenly disappear from the Book of Mormon. Faithful Mormons worldwide, none the wiser, will simply buy the newest iteration of their cherished fictional novel, altered through the ages to satisfy the expectations of each generation.

  4. I commend church leaders for their recent statement on race. It is a first step in undoing 150 years of damage. I for one believe an apology is still called for. This policy hurt ever so many people over the years.

    I unwittingly participated to a small degree. I grew up mainly in Logan, Utah, as an active and faithful Mormon. I also read a lot about civil rights and was very interested in meeting people from different backgrounds. I was taught to accept others by my parents; there was no racist language in our home, ever. When I started college at USU (I later switched to BYU), I chanced to meet a fellow student who was also a new black member that, if I remember correctly, was well known and liked on campus, Lynn Leeman (not sure of the spelling). He told a mutual friend that he wanted to ask me out, and understandably wanted to discreetly inquire ahead of time as to whether I’d be interested. I indicated I was. Before he called, however, I confided in the sister of another guy I was interested in, and she urged me not to date Lynn because it would give people the “wrong impression” about me or something to that effect. I was young and dumb and I certainly didn’t want to do anything to affect her opinion of me because I liked her brother, so when Lynn called, I declined. And I caught hell for that from our mutual friend, Sioux Slagle. And I deserved it. This was 30 years ago but I still wish I could take that back. I was too easily influenced by others and didn’t have the courage of my convictions at the time. I am still ashamed that I caved to “what will people think?” instead of doing what I wanted to do, and thereby unintentionally hurting someone else. I do hope it didn’t cause him a lot of self-doubt, because it was completely my mistake and no reflection on him. I am so sorry, Lynn, wherever you are.

    • Duwayne Anderson

      Jeanmari wrote: “I for one believe an apology is still called for.”

      I agree. But I can’t think of a single instance where the Mormon Church has ever apologized for anything.

      Can you?

      Given their history, it seems rather unlikely that the Mormon Church will ever apologize and repent. Repentance is not for the infallible.

  5. “This admission, however, will likely create significant problems moving forward for those Mormons who have been taught the LDS notion of prophetic infallibility.”

    That is a problem for all religions that teach that their scriptures are the infallible words of god. What happens to a church when believers who base their faith on those scriptures believing they are an immutable ‘rock’, find out that actually the scriptures are merely shifting sand?

    Some believers will leave or lose faith, others will simply apply more cognitive dissonance.

  6. What “LDS notion of prophetic infallibility?” We know that the prophets and apostles are people, and make mistakes like the rest of us. Only Jesus Christ was (and still is) infallible.

    • Who do LDS believe wrote the Book of Mormon, which includes the racist scriptures another commenter posted above? Joseph Smith or Jesus/God? I am asking seriously, I don’t know.

      I do know that many fundamentalist Christians of other sects who believe the Bible literally, believe that it was written by Jesus/God through divine inspiration to men they used as mere instruments, as a writer uses a pen. So, to those people, rejecting any part of the Bible as an error of past thinking is a great sin. The New Testament says Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, he never changes. So, if Jesus wrote the Bible, using men as pens (because they have PENises?) and he never changes (his mind) then nothing in the Bible could ever be wrong. (that’s their argument, not mine)

      Thus, my question on who LDS believe wrote the racist scriptures in the Book of Mormon. If LDS do not believe in prophetic infallibility, and they do believe JS wrote the BOM, then rejecting and removing racist scriptures should be no problem since JS was a mere fallible man. But on the other hand, if they believe Jesus, who never changes, wrote the BOM, only using JS as a pen, then those racist scriptures in the BOM are a real problem.

      Another problem is why it took so long for the omnipotent Jesus/God to get through to so many successive Mormon ‘prophets’ and let them know racism is evil.

    • Duwayne Anderson

      “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God.” (Mormon prophet Wilford Woodruff, Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)

      You can read this in greater context on the official Internet site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here’s the link:

      http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/od/1?lang=eng

  7. I think you are deliberately conflating the belief in biblical inerrancy of some other sects with following the prophets to perpetuate misconceptions and promote your own not-so-innocent agenda. Latter-day Saints are taught to follow the prophets, but the Church has never preached their infallibility–they are wise old men, but still frail humans. Anybody that has spent any time actively serving others knows that humanity is horribly, deeply flawed and nobody but Christ is above its imperfections. We’re all here muddling through the best we can. But, I’ll be sure to pass your comments onto Eyring or Uchtdorf when I bump into them at Home Depot or Target again.

    • Duwayne Anderson

      The Church *has* taught their doctrinal infallibility:

      “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God.” (Mormon prophet Wilford Woodruff, Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)

      You can read this in greater context on the official Internet site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here’s the link:

      http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/od/1?lang=eng

      • QUESTIONS

        Some people hold inerrantist beliefs about scriptures or prophets, and assume that the LDS have similar views. This leads some to assume that prophets are infallible.
        Does any statement made by any LDS Church leader represent LDS doctrine and is thus something that is secretly believed, or that should be believed, by Latter-day Saints?

        To see citations to the critical sources for these claims, click here

        THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
        Elder Neil L. Anderson, “Trial of Your Faith,” Ensign, (November 2012)

        A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine. There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find.

        The leaders of the Church are honest but imperfect men. Remember the words of Moroni: “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father … ; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been” (Ether 12:6)
        (Click here for full article)

        THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
        The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, [1] LDS Newsroom, (May 4, 2007)

        Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.
        (Click here for full article)

        THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
        Charles W. Penrose,   Improvement Era, (September 1912)

        Question 14: Do you believe that the President of the Church, when speaking to the Church in his official capacity is infallible?

        Answer: We do not believe in the infallibility of man. When God reveals anything it is truth, and truth is infallible. No President of the Church has claimed infallibility.[2]

        ANSWER

        The prophets are not perfect, but they are called of God. They may speak as men, but may speak scripture as well. Every person may know for themselves whether they speak the truth through the same power that their revelation is given: the power of the Holy Ghost.

        DETAILED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

        See also: Prophetic infallibility?, Racist statements by Church leaders?, Official or “core” doctrine, “Changing” doctrine?, and Repudiated concepts
        See also: Brigham Young on the vital need to know for ourselves, Brigham claimed his sermons were “scripture”?, Quote mining Brigham Young’s statement on sermons as scripture, and Prophetic infallibility?
        Question: Do Mormons consider their prophets to be infallible?
        Answer: No
        Latter-day Saints do not believe that prophets and apostles are incapable of error, despite being called of God and receiving revelation. Joseph Smith himself taught that ‘a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such’.[3] The Church has always taught that its leaders are human and subject to failings as are all mortals. Only Jesus was perfect, as explained in this statement from the First Presidency:
        The position is not assumed that the men of the New Dispensation —its prophets, apostles, presidencies, and other leaders—are without faults or infallible, rather they are treated as men of like passions with their fellow men.”[4]
        Lu Dalton, writing in the Church’s periodical for women, explained:
        We consider God, and him alone, infallible; therefore his revealed word to us cannot be doubted, though we may be in doubt some times about the knowledge which we obtain from human sources, and occasionally be obliged to admit that something which we had considered to be a fact, was really only a theory.[5]
        Other authors have long taught the same thing:
        1887 B. H. Roberts, Letter written November 4, 1887, London, Millennial Star 49. 48 (November 28, 1887): 760-763; a portion of which reads: “Relative to these sermons [Journal of Discourses] I must tell you they represent the individual views of the speakers, and the Church is not responsible for their teachings. Our authorized Church works are the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. In the Church very wide latitude is given to individual belief and opinion, each man being responsible for his views and not the Church; the Church is only responsible for that which she sanctions and approves through the formal actions of her councils. So it may be that errors will be found in the sermons of men, and that in their over zeal unwise expressions will escape them, for all of which the Church is not responsible” (762)
        1889 Charles W. Penrose, Editorial: Judge Anderson and ‘Blood Atonement,’ Deseret Weekly 39. 25 (December 14, 1889): 772a-773c. [Editor is Charles W. Penrose; in his response to the lengthy statement by Judge Anderson, he quotes from the same pamphlet which the Judge had quoted from: Blood Atonement, by Elder Charles W. Penrose, published in 1884; Penrose quotes a statement which the Judge had not] “’The law of God is paramount. When men give their views upon any doctrine, the value of those views is as the value of the man. If he is a wise man, a man of understanding, of experience and authority, such views are of great weight with the community; but they are not paramount, nor equal to the revealed law of God’” (773ab)
        1892 21 March 1892: Elder Charles W. Penrose, at the time a counselor in the Salt Lake Stake Presidency: “At the head of this Church stands a man who is a Prophet . . . we respect and venerate him; but we do not believe that his personal views or utterances are revelations from God.” Millennial Star 54 (21 March 1892): 191
        1902 Joseph F. Smith to Lillian Golsan, July 16, 1902. “[T]he theories, speculations, and opinions of men, however intelligent, ingenious, and plausible, are not necessarily doctrines of the Church or principles that God has commanded His servants to preach. No doctrine is a doctrine of this Church until it has been accepted as such by the Church, and not even a revelation from God should be taught to his people until it has first been approved by the presiding authority–the one through whom the Lord makes known His will for the guidance of the saints as a religious body. The spirit of revelation may rest upon any one, and teach him or her many things for personal comfort and instruction. But these are not doctrines of the Church, and, however true, they must not be inculcated until proper permission is given.” – Joseph F. Smith Correspondence, Personal Letterbooks, 93–94, Film Reel 9, Ms. F271; cited in Dennis B. Horne (ed.), Determining Doctrine: A Reference Guide for Evaluation Doctrinal Truth (Roy, Utah: Eborn Books, 2005), 221–222. Also in Statements of the LDS First Presidency, compiled by Gary James Bergera (Signature, 2007), page 121. Bergera indicates it is a letter from JFS to Lillian Golsan, July 16, 1902.
        1907 March 26, 1907. [The following was first published in “An Address. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the World”, in Millennial Star 69. 16 (April 18, 1907): 241-247; 249-254; also in Improvement Era 10 (May 1907): 481-495; reprinted also in Messages of the First Presidency, Volume IV, compiled by James R. Clark (Bookcraft, SLC 1970): 142-157; “We refuse to be bound by the interpretations which others place upon our beliefs, or by what they allege must be the practical consequences of our doctrines. Men have no right to impute to us what they think may be the logical deduction from our beliefs, but which we ourselves do not accept. We are to be judged by our own interpretations and by our own actions, not by the logic of others, as to what is, or may be, the result of our faith”, page 154.
        1921 B.H. Roberts: As to the printed discourses of even leading brethren…they do not constitute the court of ultimate appeal on doctrine. They may be very useful in the way of elucidation and are very generally good and sound in doctrine, but they are not the ultimate sources of the doctrines of the Church, and are not binding upon the Church. The rule in that respect is—What God has spoken, and what has been accepted by the Church as the word of God, by that, and that only, are we bound in doctrine. When in the revelations it is said concerning the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator that the Church shall “give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them—for his word ye shall receive as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith”—(Doc & Cov., Sec. 21)—it is understood, of course, that his has reference to the word of God received through revelation, and officially announced to the Church, and not to every chance word spoken.[6]
        Question: How are Church members protected against error by leaders?
        Answer: The Church’s system of councils provides protection against the fallibility of a single man or leader.
        President Smith explained:
        An individual may fall by the wayside, or have views, or give counsel which falls short of what the Lord intends. But the voice of the First Presidency and the united voice of those others who hold with them the keys of the kingdom shall always guide the Saints and the world in those paths where the Lord wants them to be.[7]
        Dallin H. Oaks explained how the Lord allows all His children to grow through struggling with problems:
        Revelations from God . . . are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality. Fortunately, we are never out of our Savior’s sight, and if our judgment leads us to actions beyond the limits of what is permissible and if we are listening, . . . the Lord will restrain us by the promptings of his Spirit.[8]
        The Lord will not help his children avoid all stumbling and error; He will protect them from permanent harm to His work, as Boyd K. Packer taught:
        Even with the best of intentions, [Church government] does not always work the way it should. Human nature may express itself on occasion, but not to the permanent injury of the work.[9]
        Question: Should Church members simply have “blind trust” in their leaders?
        Answer: No
        Hardly, says President Lorenzo Snow:
        There may be some things that the First Presidency do; that the Apostles do, that cannot for the moment be explained; yet the spirit, the motives that inspire the action can be understood, because each member of the Church has a right to have that measure of the Spirit of God that they can judge as to those who are acting in their interests or otherwise.[10]
        Question: Were Biblical prophets infallible?
        Answer: No
        Some critics will protest that this standard is not applied to Biblical prophets, yet the Bible itself does not support this claim. One Bible commentator noted that the Biblical authors were not perfect, and that they made errors of expression even in the Biblical record:
        Though purified and ennobled by the influence of His Holy Spirit; men each with his own peculiarities of manner and disposition—each with his own education or want of education—each with his own way of looking at things—each influenced differently from another by the different experiences and disciplines of his life. Their inspiration did not involve a suspension of their natural faculties; it did not even make them free from earthly passion; it did not make them into machines—it left them men. Therefore we find their knowledge sometimes no higher than that of their contemporaries.[11]
        Paul’s accounts even contain a contradictory account of his vision (Compare Acts 9:7 & Acts 22:9). Paul and Barnabas disagreed severely enough for it to disrupt their missions Acts 15:36–39. Peter and Paul also criticized the other’s writing 2 Peter 3:16 and behavior regarding the Church Galatians 2:11–16.
        Question: How do Biblical prophets compare to modern prophets?
        Answer: Biblical prophets and modern prophets are divinely called, but clearly are not perfect.
        To get a better idea of how prophets are limited yet still divinely called, it can be helpful to look at some examples of Bible prophets and compare them with modern prophets.
        Bible prophets Modern prophets
        Moses disobeyed God’s instruction to speak to the rock and instead hit it. He then attributed the miracle to himself and Aaron, saying, “Must we fetch you water out of this rock?” He was chastized by the Lord afterward. (Numbers 20:)
        Joshua was deceived by the inhabitants of Gibeon when they claimed to come from a far country so they could get a peace accord with Joshua. Then the Israelites found that instead of living a long distant away, that people from Gibeon lived among them. (Joshua 9:) Gordon B. Hinckley was deceived by Mark Hofmann, who had done so in order to obtain money. Hofmann was even responsible for the death of some people. After some investigation, he was discovered and sentenced.
        Gideon repeatedly asked the Lord for signs even though the Lord has said, “An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.” (Judges 7:; Matthew 12:39)
        Nathan told David that the Lord approved of his desire to build a temple, and that he should commence the project. The Lord later told Nathan that such was not His desire, and that he was to tell David that the temple would be built by another. (2 Samuel 7:)
        Jonah felt some personal prejudices against Assyrians, to the point of expecting the Lord to give them fewer blessings than to Jews. (Jonah 4:1) Brigham Young felt some personal prejudices against blacks, to the point of expecting the Lord to give them fewer blessings than caucasians.
        Jesus’ apostles were not always perfectly humble or modest. They once disputed over which of them would be the greatest in heaven. (Mark 9:34) Joseph Smith was not always perfectly humble or modest. He once said he had “more to boast of than ever any man had.”[12] See here, though, to learn how critics misinterpret this event.
        A person could spend all day looking for examples of the Lord’s chosen servants making mistakes, but such an activity does nothing to edify or strengthen people. In all of these situations, a prophet’s weakness or mistakes do not make him any less a prophet, called of God to do His work.

  8. There are some problems with Dr. Smith’s post and I would think that he, as well as Jana Riess, would know that some of what is said is inaccurate. First, both should know that LDS leaders have never claimed infallibility. That’s basic. From Joseph Smith and Brigham Young foibles, weaknesses and mistakes have been a part of learning the lessons of leadership. One can even see that fact with a cursory reading of the Doctrine and Covenants. Second, there is the implication in Smith’s third paragraph that the Church has attempted to maintain Jim Crow laws and not want to desegregate. I have met Derron Smith several times at Mormon History Association Conferences. he a good guy. He has a doctorate. He has some familiarity with Church history, I would assume enough to know that LDS congregations have always been integrated. I would also assume that he would know that the Church has supported civil rights for African Americans and all people of color. A widely known clarifying announcement was made in general conference in Octorber, 1963.

    Particularly disturbing is his claim of self hate among African American members. The quotes he gives are heartfelt, but to claim they are quotes of self hate is quite a stretch. I do not claim there were and are no difficulties for black members of the Church, but if Dr. Smith is going to claim there is a generalized self loathing, he should substantiate it with stronger quotes from more than two members. I know Darius Grey (prayers for you Darius) is ill at the moment, but it would be interesting to hear from him on that claim.

    I also have never heard the claim that blacks would be inferior in the next life. I’m sure there were some in the 19th century. When I joined the Church, well before the lifting of the ban, I was always taught that the priesthood would be given one day and that there would be equal opportunity for exaltation among all of God’s children. I must say I always found the ban repugnant, but because of a number of spiritual experiences, I accepted it on faith and still do. I wish it had never become a practice. I also never accepted the widely held belief that blacks were fence sitters in the pre-existence or exclusively the children of Cain.

    Another issue, how could blacks join the Church? It would be interesting to have Dr. Smith tell us why he joined the Church. He conveniently explains by saying black converts were never told about the priesthood ban. I was involved in the baptism and conversion of several African Americans in the early 70’s. In this case as well as others I am familiar with, the priesthood ban was thoroughly explained by the missionaries, the bishop and by me. I was just a friend and wanted to make certain there was not misunderstanding. Did that happen all the time? I’m sure it didn’t. Which way was the rule? I don’t know. But the question then becomes, when these new black converts found out, why did they stay? Why does Derron Smith stay? What’s the pull? Each individual, regardless of ethnicity, would have to answer that question? I don’t think there is a generality Dr. Smith could lean on.

    To make it clear, I am not against Derron Smith. He obviously has some difficulties with the Church and I hope he can work his way through those. I certainly do not consider myself his superior. Quite to the contrary. I could not qualify for a doctoral studies. Derron Smith is my brother in the gospel and I accept and honor him as such. I disagree with him on the things I’ve stated. In doing so, I acknowledge that I am an anglo. Her has had tens of thousands of difficult and heart breaking experiences that I cannot imagine.

    I must also note that the usual anti-Mormons are out with their usual cynicism, half truths and exaggerations. if they are so concerned about racism and religion, in fairness they should dig up statements by protestant leaders, priests and leaders of all denominations which are much worse than anything the Mormons ever said. But, of course, these individuals are not interested in fairness, nor, I suspect, even in racism.

    • Duwayne Anderson

      Mormon leaders *have* claimed doctrinal infallibility:

      “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God.” (Mormon prophet Wilford Woodruff, Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)

      You can read this in greater context on the official Internet site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here’s the link:

      http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/od/1?lang=eng

        • Duwayne Anderson

          Tom wrote: “There’s a difference between leading someone astray where they can lose their salvation, and being infallible. Surely you know better. Maybe not.”

          That’s your opinion, Tom, but Woodward didn’t feel compelled to draw that distinction:

          “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God.” (Mormon prophet Wilford Woodruff, Sixty-first Semiannual General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890, Salt Lake City, Utah. Reported in Deseret Evening News, October 11, 1890, p. 2.)

          You can read this in greater context on the official Internet site of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Here’s the link:

          http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/od/1?lang=eng

  9. Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Dr. Smith could have mentioned that there are over 300,000 LDS in Africa, 100,000 LDS in the Dominican Republic, 20,000 LDS in Haiti, where populations are predominantly black, plus many people with African ancestry among the million Mormons in Brazil. That would bring the worldwide LDS membership that has black ancestry to over 600,000, some four percent of the worldwide membership of 15 million.

    But if we are on the subject of race, we should recognize that there are more than just backs and whites. There are American Indian Mormons, including not just members of tribes in the US and Canada, but also many Latin Americans, including many of the million Mormons in Mexico. There are Polynesian Mormons, perhaps not large in absolute numbers but they include a quarter of the people of Samoa and a third of Tonga, and large numbers of Hawaiians, Tahitians, and Maori. There are approaching a million Mormons in eastern Asia, including over 100,000 in my native Japan.

    All told, it seems likely that at least three million, or 20%, of Mormons have non-European ancestry. And the LDS Church is actively recruiting more people in that category, sending many of its 80,000 missionaries into nations around the world, as well as into ethnic enclaves within the US. One of my friends served a Turkish-speaking mission in Chicago. Exactly why would a “racist” organization invest so much effort into becoming increasingly multi-ethnic and international?

    Another fact of history is that this recruitment of non-whites has been pursued for over a century. Spencer Kimball’s father was president of a mission to Amerind tribes. Joseph F. Smith was a missionary in Hawaii in the 1850s. Heber J. Grant was the first missionary to Japan in 1901, and in the 1930s he established a mission among the ethnic Japanese of Hawaii that produced a generation of missionaries and mission presidents in Japan after WW II. Those 19th Century Mormons behaved oddly for “racists”, contrary to the prejudices of many other Americans against American Indians, Latinos, Polynesians and Asians.

    When the 1978 revelation was announced, it was received with joy because the previous policy was diametrically opposed to the feelings of the membership. Thousands of people in Nigeria and Ghana were ready to join the LDS Church, and they were invited in and ordained, forming the core of the rapid growth that has taken place in Africa.

    The first Mormons were predominantly from the Northern states, and in the second decade of the Church, were predominantly from the United Kingdom. They were not participants in the slave economy of the South. As Mormons were persecuted and driven West, they remained outside the orbit of the South, the Confederacy, and Jim Crow. They had no segregated schools or churches. Trying to smear the Mormons with the racist history of the larger United States is a gross misrepresentation.

    A random Mormon you approach may have served as a public health missionary in Africa, or provided medical treatment in Haiti after the earthquake, or housed a Mormon missionary from Kenya, or adopted an African American child, or served as Church legal counsel in South Africa, (all people I know personally) or baptized an African American in the time before 1978 (as I did). Claiming these Mormons are racist demonstrates your own irrational prejudice.

    • “Exactly why would a “racist” organization invest so much effort into becoming increasingly multi-ethnic and international?”

      For the money. Always follow the money. To keep the money flowing you need new members. Religion is a very lucrative business, and evangelists of all stripes are business people.

        • The Mormon church is a corporation. There are thousands of corporations making money in Africa and other poor areas favoured by evangelists. Evangelists use the “McDonalds Principle” of capitalism (I just made that up) where you sell your ‘junk food’ real cheap but to so many people you enrich yourself from their poverty.

          Haven’t you ever read the parable of the widow’s mite? The poor often give more generously than the rich. Evangelists exploit that.

  10. Having lived for some time in West Africa, I became well acquainted with many wonderful black members of the LDS church who joined the Church before the ban on priesthood was lifted. Time after time they shared with me sacred experiences of approaching the Lord in prayer to try to understand why this would be so, when they had already received a spiritual witness that the doctrines taught by the Church were true. Each one, and these were wonderful, intelligent, very spiritual people, told me the Spirit told them there were reasons for this, they should not be concerned, and that the day was very soon when that ban would be lifted. These were not dishonest people. Their faith and commitment and willingness to accept what the Spirit told them – without being given the reasons for the then current situation- was truly remarkable. As one who literally wept with joy when that ban was lifted, I surely profess no understanding of why it existed in the first place. But my African brothers and sisters touched me to the depths of my soul with their sincere testimonies and solid discipleship.

  11. I taught hundreds of black investigators during my mission. Those who read the Book of Mormon through 2 Nephi would ask about the white and delightsome and the skin of blackness. Many commenters above state that we do not know these scriptures and references to color had anything to do with race. That may be true, but in not one single instance did any black investigator that I taught believe these words meant anything other than race. I was left to conclude that they saw the language for what it really was. As I tried to teach the meaning of these scriptures as I had been taught, I recognized that I taught through the eyes of a person indoctrinated with mind bending explanations and statements like the one made by Oakes’ referenced by TomW above. If you’ve taught such people under such circumstances, you are familiar with that feeling deep in your heart that what you are teaching is false. Many deny that gut feeling, and instead focus on uplifting manifestations felt while abiding by precepts taught by the Church. Such feelings cannot be denied, and there is much good taught by the Church, but why do so many members continue to try and justify what is blatantly clear or deem anyone who has concerns as haters of the Church?

    • I wonder why some members continue to speculate upon the hearts and minds of prophets they have allegedly recognized as such, absent an absolute knowledge of why they did what they did.

        • Duwayne,

          Answer to your question, Duwayne: Peter denied Christ. Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land because he got in some trouble with God. Abraham had slaves and told a fib about his wife in Egypt and later took his son to the brink of death–for which he was praised for his obedience as he passed the test God had given him. The prophet, Lehi, in the Book of Mormon, gets in trouble with God for complaining. Joseph Smith, clearly your favorite prophet, gets sanctioned by God for messing up by losing part of his translation of the Book of Mormon. If I were a false prophet I would have just blamed somebody else entirely and not recorded in scripture that God put me on the naughty list for awhile. You can argue that Mormons think that prophets are infallible until you are blue in the face but you miss the larger picture of context and meaning.

          During Christ’s life he refused to take his message outside of the Jews. Blatantly discriminated. Prior to that, under the Law of Moses, God made it so that only those in the tribe of Levi could hold the priesthood, with few exceptions. If you buy into the idea that only the Bible is scripture, then you realize that God discriminated against the entire rest of the world, by not letting any other race or nation have men called as prophets. Oh, and Christ discriminated by ONLY choosing men as his 12 apostles–apparently of the same race. He refused to overturn the culture of slavery that was the Roman Empire and refused to lead a rebellion of Jews against the racist Romans.

          One of Joseph Smith’s first priorities was to do missionary work among the race of Native Americans. One of the major points of the Book of Mormon is that God calls prophets among many nations. While you can argue over whether or not dark skin was the sign of a curse or not, the point of the Book of Mormon is that the dark skinned people became more righteous than the light skin people and were not destroyed, while the light skinned people were destroyed. The light skinned people had committed the sin of rejecting God’s prophets, among other sins. Sound familiar? The Book of Mormon teaches that it is not about color but obedience to God’s laws and following those HE has selected as his prophets, even if YOU think YOU might have been a better choice. It is a thing called “reading comprehension,” not just pulling a verse here and there out of context. Sometimes prophets will be politically correct and sometimes they will not be. I have faith in them that even if they trip up occasionally, God will put them back on course–not lead us astray. True, I am only a dummy with four college degrees including two graduate degrees from non-Mormon universities, who has read the Book of Mormon 30 times (along with thousands of other books), and who married a woman from another race (mixed black, Native American, and British), and who has two adult children who also have married other races, so what would I know?

          Fallibility is an attribute that both skeptics and prophets share, Duwayne, just in a very different degree.

          • Duwayne Anderson

            Thomas, is there any activity that your prophets might conceivably engage in, that would prove to you that would deprive them of your sustaining vote?

            Murder?
            Genocide?
            Adultery?
            Pedophilia?

            Anything at all? Are there any behavioral standards that apply to your prophets?

            Whenever I’ve asked this question of Mormons they always dodge the question. It’s apparent that the reason Mormons fear this question is because they *don’t* have any behavioral standards for their prophets; their prophets could literally do anything, and they’d still be sustained by the members.

          • Duwayne Anderson

            ThomasT wrote: “True, I am only a dummy with four college degrees including two graduate degrees from non-Mormon universities, …”

            Can you prove that? Can you explain why it’s relevant? And if you have all those degrees, why are you using the fallacious argument by authority?

            ThomasT wrote: “..who has read the Book of Mormon 30 times…”

            If you know the Book of Mormon so well, and you’re so gosh-darn smart with all those University degrees, then perhaps you can supply the following information (using citations from peer-reviewed science journals, giving the journal name, volume, date, authors, and page number):

            1) American cities that are also named in the Book of Mormon.

            2) Ancient Americans smelting iron/steel

            3) Ancient Americans domesticating horses and elephants

            4) A vast ancient American civilization that originated in emigrants from Jerusalem

            5) Prophets, Kings, and Judges that are named in the Book of Mormon, as well as authentic ancient American texts that are written in modified forms of Hebrew and/or Egyptian.

            6) Ancient Americans cultivating crops transplanted from Jerusalem

            I could go on. There are volumes of additional evidences that should exist, if the Book of Mormon is true. Let me know if you’d like further examples.

  12. Stan Zielinski

    Mormon leaders have painted themselves into a corner on the subject of race, with their refusal to accept any institutional blame for any wrong. If racism were only a thing of the past in Mormonism, this might not be such a big problem, but racism is alive and well in the Mormon church. I know, as a 5th Generation Mormon, who spent the first 40 years of my life in the “Faith of my Fathers”, I was indoctrinated to believe what it said in Mormon scriptures about the “Curse of Cain” being black skin, meant just that, black skin was the “mark” spoken of in Genesis, which God put on the descendants of Cain, to warn others against mixing with blacks. If we didn’t get that point from these following Mormon scriptures, it was made abundantly clear by official statements from ‘General Authorities’,

    “…the Lord shall curse the land with much heat…and there was a blackness (2) came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.” (Moses 7:8)

    “And Enoch also beheld …the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it were the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not a place among them.” (Moses 7:22)

    “Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth. From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land. The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden. When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land…” (Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 1:21-24, 26c)

    “…he [God] said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou was chosen before thou wast born…And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate…” (Abraham 3:23, 26)

    That’s undeniably racist. As a Mormon I could not deny that the church I belonged to was undeniably racist.

    So I did the ethical thing. I quit and pruned that rotten limb from my family tree so that more healthy and vital new growth could fill in behind it.

  13. Religion changes with the needs of times to survive. Although the Church was quiet about Asians, they were also looked down upon with contempt. However, now the church wants new members and reach out abroad…so change with the times because they like the color of money better than skin color…until of course a good white mormon guy brings his Asian female signficant other home to his parents in Utah or Idaho…but this is not very different from white Texans, baptists, evangelicals or fundamentalists…that is another story for another time…not here.

  14. I have read your comments before on other forums so I know exactly where you stand regarding our church and race, I have wondered before about your writing style and have tried to understand your motive, I have heard others said it is because you were fired from BYU, I dont not know the truth regarding the matter.One thing I know is that a true latter-Day Saint would not be able to write the things you write.
    So what if more black members live on the African continent than in this US, I can assure you that there are more Mexican Members in Mexico, they are more Tongan Members in Tonga, There are more Chilian members in Chile than in the US. As when you read their conversion stories you would realize the power of the lord in communicating his truth to all persons, in what ever nation they reside.
    The doctrine of christ have always been pure but weak humans are the ones given the task to preserve and pass it on to those not having it.Sod a good job, some cause many of their brethren to err as you are doing now. Joseph Smith did say the lord was pleased with the restored Church collectively as a body and not with individual members.
    When the gospel was with the Jews alone, it took them some time to get use to the fact that Gentiles could have the true Gospel also, I seen the same thing with christians who have been for years not allow thier children who have grown up in the faith to marry repentant persons who lived a riotous life while they were in the world. If you were a true latter-day saints you would be using your tremedous education to help many more blacks in American benefit from all the wonderful blessings that have engulfed the Mormons in Utah than trying to find ways to turn them away

    • Duwayne Anderson

      JuniorN wrote: “…some cause many of their brethren to err..”

      Do you realize that the Mormons who stayed in Nauvoo didn’t practice institutional racism?

      It was the apostate group that followed Brigham Young, and formed the church headquartered in Salt Lake City, that institutionalized racism.

      The prophets of the church in Nauvoo didn’t. Seems like you should leave the apostate SLC church, and go join the one in Nauvoo — their prophets appear to be more “inspired.”

  15. “Withholding the priesthood from blacks was part of God’s unfolding plan, Hamilton writes, to bring Christ’s gospel to different groups in a kind of progression — from Jew to Gentile to Americans, then Europeans, then finally to all the peoples of the world.”

    http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/blogsfaithblog/51976643-180/black-hamilton-church-lds.html.csp

    No! “to bring Christ’s gospel to different groups in a kind of progression — from Jew to Gentile, KERALITES and TAMILIANS IN SOUTH INDIA, TO EUROPEANS, THEN AMERICANS AND finally to all the peoples of the world.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mar_Thoma_Syrian_Church

  16. “…….calumny may defame, ….but the purposes of God will go forth. “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. ” Duwayne, how does it feel to be that small little hand trying to stop God’s work? I won’t waste any time responding to your questions, as your desire isn’t for truth or righteousness or to “build” anything. But here is some truth: You are a destroyer, and it is plain that you would delight in nothing more than to destroy someone else’s faith. Use whatever excuse you want, but this has NEVER been the way of Christ or his true disciples. Nothing you have written has a spirit of Love or caring or concern for your fellow man. Your spirit cannot be hidden. Your response will be further contention, which is further evidence of exactly whose agenda you are truly pushing. In fact, this msg isn’t really for you, it is for the faithful but less strong of the flock who might be led astray by such an imposter. Recognize an anti Christ for who he is and his strategy for what it is. Christ and his disciples come not to destroy, but to build. Satan seeks to confuse you, to lead you away from the flock where you are more vulnerable. He wants you to let go of your faith and strength so he can blow you in the wind like all the other chafe.

    • Duwayne Anderson

      sean-paul wrote: “Duwayne, how does it feel to be that small little hand trying to stop God’s work?”

      You aren’t involved in “god’s work.” Mormonism has nothing to do with “God’s work.”

      Your founding prophet, Joseph Smith, was a sexual deviant and adulterer who “married” little girls as young as 14 and practiced adultery while lying to his wife about his liaisons.

      You are mistaken if you think “God’s work” has anything to do with such men.

      Your second prophet, Brigham Young, was a violent masochistic racist who whipped up sentiments of violence that resulted in the cold-blooded murder of over 100 innocent men, women and children at Mountain meadows.

      You are mistaken if you think “God’s work” has anything to do with such men.

      The subsequent train of “prophets” in your church have been just as uninspired. These men, like you, are ideologues devoted to a church — nothing to do with larger issues of morality and ethics

      You are mistaken if you think “God’s work” has anything to do with Mormonism.

      • Duwayne, TomW, Sean-Paul, and others,

        You can read my full explanation or move to the “In my opinion… paragraph to get the short version of my thoughts on the matter.

        You forgot that (according to the Bible) Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Saul and David were racists involved in genocide. Jonah was a racist who was pissed at God for saving the people of Ninevah when he told them they were going to be destroyed but they repented and were saved. Peter had to be told a couple times to take the gospel to the Gentiles and even afterwards had to be corrected by Paul about his racist attitudes. And Paul was a sexist who took the gifts Christ gave to women and Christian society is still trying to recover from his words. If we’re going to go after the prophets, let’s paint with an even brush.

        Along with the amazing things each book holds, the Mormons still hold to the BoM for the same reasons they and other Christians still hold to the Bible.
        1 – They accept the prophets as flawed men having bits and pieces of God’s word yet carrying a lot of cultural baggage.
        2 – They paint their books and prophets with rose colored glasses and don’t dig into the stickier parts or explain them away.
        3 – They don’t know about the stickier parts.

        I find that people leave Mormonism and other Judeo-Christian religions for the flip side of these reasons.
        1 – They accept there are bits and pieces of good prophets have but consider them too flawed as men with too much cultural baggage to be the messengers of a god worth worshiping.
        2 – They paint their books and prophets with crap colored glasses and don’t dig into the good parts.
        3 – They don’t know about the good parts.

        Like Paul (and most people), I find Joseph Smith to be a remarkable contradiction of character. On the one hand, you have his affairs or marriages (without Emma’s knowledge, the difference is in mere semantics to me), his racist comments in the Book of Mormon (which were common thought at the time and enabled the South to keep slavery around for “moral” justifications.), marriages to girls who were too young, and his marriages to women who were already married. There were, of course, several other issues which are embarrassing or worse.

        On the other hand, you have his writings on the worth of an individual soul, his granting the priesthood to black people on a limited but expanding basis during a time much of Christianity was teaching blacks were a cursed people, his teachings of Christ and grace which can be found in the Book of Mormon, his teachings of patience in affliction which are available in the Doctrine and Covenants. There are other teachings of his which both I and others find inspiring.

        IMO, if Joseph was truly performing God’s work, his martyrdom (assassination, being murdered, or choice of words) may have happened to keep him from moving to the level Warren Jeffs had. I find Joseph and (to a lesser degree) Paul to be the two most simultaneously revolting and compelling individuals that I can think of.

        As for Brigham, I think the gist of most of my points regarding Joseph apply to him. He had some of the same strengths and weaknesses (you’ve brought them up already) but also some unique to him…

        I think the current leaders of the church have many good and caring traits to them and lead to do many good works. I believe they have a ways to go to make things right with people who are of non-white races and all humanity who are affected by racist remarks and writings. I believe they know very close to exactly why these “doctrines” (according to Brigham) or “policies” (according to modern language) were put into place. I believe the internet has blown open the flood gates to reveal problems in past leadership. I believe the attempts to shut down the knowledge which was being passed around in the 90’s with the excommunications of the “September 6″ being most notable, is also blowing up in their face.

        On the flip side, I believe the church leaders are working to do their best to make things right without killing their credibility. The publication mentioned in this article is a HUGE step in the right direction. Elder Uchdorf’s talk “Come, Join With Us” during the last general conference has other huge steps in the right direction.

        In my opinion, the solution to these issues – both in and out of the church – lies in open, honest understanding of what these issues are and the concerns they have for each person.
        * Listening is CRITICAL.
        * Avoiding all or nothing rhetoric is CRITICAL.
        * Telling people they are impeding God’s work is NOT HELPFUL.
        * Understanding what you want as your end solution is CRITICAL.
        * Completely or even mostly agreeing with the person on the other side of the fence is UNNECESSARY.
        * Validating common – or at least understandable – key points CRITICAL.

        1 Corinthians 13:12 King James Version (KJV)
        12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

    • Duwayne Anderson

      sean-paul wrote: “I won’t waste any time responding to your questions,”

      That’s the reason I asked them — to illustrate that Mormons can’t answer them. I thank you for helping me make that point so clearly.

      sean-paul wrote: “..as your desire isn’t for truth or righteousness …”

      My desire is for the truth. Unlike you and your fellow Mormons, I can (and have) changed my mind. I have the capacity to examine evidence and arrive at a conclusion that is contrary to currently held beliefs, and then to change those beliefs.

      But you don’t. And to illustrate that point I’ll ask another simple (and very fair) question that you (and every other faithful Mormon) can’t answer. The question is simply this:

      “What verifiable and objective evidence, if it existed, would convince you that Mormonism isn’t true.”

      The reason you won’t answer that question is that there really is no such evidence that will change your mind. Your mind is made up, and verifiable/objective evidence is simply irrelevant. As such your “faith” in Mormonism is completely irrational — no different from millions of other people who believe in hobgoblins, UFOs, and monsters under the bed.

    • “,,,it is plain that you would delight in nothing more than to destroy someone else’s faith. Use whatever excuse you want, but this has NEVER been the way of Christ or his true disciples…”

      Sean-paul, I’m a bit confused by that statement. Isn’t that what all Christian evangelists, Mormons included, do when they attempt to convert people to their dogma? Isn’t that exactly what Christ meant when he commanded his true disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person?

      In fact, that is exactly what Christian evangelists do, try to convince believers in in other gods and dogmas to abandon (destroy) their faith and accept the evangelist’s faith. Destroying someone’s faith in different gods is considered a virtue by evangelists, they take delight in doing that, brag about their new converts. So I don’t think you have any justification to point your finger at Duwayne. Someone taught me that when you point your finger at others, there are three others pointing back at you. Try it and see.

  17. On the one hand you have those who are eager to mock and make accusations and point out what they think are the faults and flaws of the LDS Church and its leaders. They don’t try to teach anything positive. They don’t offer encouragement or try to uplift. They only want to tear down what I and a rapidly increasing number of others are experiencing as great source of spiritual strength in our lives and which we then naturally enjoy sharing with others in a loving manner. These accusers and hecklers come across as angry or bitter. I don’t feel much love in their words –certainly not the Spirit of God.

    When someone offers a reasonable response to their accusations, rather than try to learn from it or modify their position, they throw out more accusations – an endless stream of venom. If we heed them, we risk becoming like them. Not a pleasant prospect. If their belief system leads them to feel the need to denigrate the beliefs of others and destroy a faith based on love, I want no part of it.

    They argue as I have always imagined the devil argues. He relishes finding the faults and flaws in each of us, constantly reminding us of them, and trying to discourage us from thinking we are worth anything to God. The devil hates that God loves each one of us and extends mercy to us all through His Son, Jesus Christ. The devil would give us no mercy. He wants to see us despondent and full of despair. If we believe his accusations, if we fall for his lies and allow him to discourage us, we may even eventually start to turn against others in a similar fashion.

    On the other hand, you have those who seek to bravely respond to the accusations – not to defend themselves in any way, but to protect others from the misinformation mixed in with and insinuated by the accusations. Unfortunately, their explanations usually require more effort to understand than most people are willing to make. But they are still wonderful to the many who do care deeply about right and wrong and who want to know the truth. Defenders of the faith, keep up the good work!

    This asymmetry of argument is not anyone’s fault. It is just the nature of good and evil. Accusations are easy to make. The underlying facts are difficult to assemble (that is, if they can even be known to anyone today), and impossible to prove. Even in a court of law, the threshold for proof is only “beyond a reasonable doubt.” It takes a lot of work to get at those facts and communicate them to others. But many people don’t understand this and allow accusations to tarnish their understanding of a subject. It is their loss. Accusers have known this since the beginning of time and still exploit it to their advantage.

    But their advantage will be short-lived. God knows what He is doing. This opposition is all a part of His greater plan. Even Jesus had to be imprisoned, cruelly treated, judged unworthy to live, and crucified like a criminal. Yet among His last words on the cross were these: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

    And so what if this or that LDS prophet or apostle was not perfect. None of us mortals are perfect. God understands this. Our sins and mistakes do not affect His love for us one whit. He works with us and through us, anyway. The Bible is full of accounts of imperfect prophets and apostles making mistakes and learning from them. Moses, because of his sin, was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. Even the great apostle Peter denied Christ thrice in His darkest hour. God smiles upon us patiently as we grow in our understanding of His greatness and love. Someday, His perfect justice and mercy will make all things right for everyone, even those who presently refuse His invitations, even those who had crucified His Son – and would still crucify Him today if they could (as evidenced by the way they fail to recognize His servants, and even hate them). Trust Him. We have nothing to fear.

    I testify in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that I know God lives, that Jesus Christ is His Son, our Savior and Redeemer, and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His doing, His restoration of the church He organized when He walked upon the earth, restored in its fullness by the resurrected Christ through a prophet He had appointed to do this work, the Prophet Joseph Smith, and led today by prophets and apostles He has called. I know this not because I was taught to believe this as a child (I was taught and believed strongly in atheism for the first 20 years of my life). I know this not because others have convinced me with evidence and arguments (and for this reason “evidence” and arguments to the contrary have no power to dissuade me from the truth). I know this because God, in His goodness and grace, has revealed it to me personally and has made it as plainly real and true to me as the reality and truth of my own existence, as only He has the power to do.

    I know that it is His greatest desire that we humbly and lovingly submit ourselves to Him, to seek to do His will, and allow Him to lead each of us to His great truths, the greatest of which is His perfect love, to our infinite and eternal joy.

    • “They argue as I have always imagined the devil argues.” “This asymmetry of argument is not anyone’s fault. It is just the nature of good and evil.”

      That is a typical fundamentalist black and white worldview argument. Don’t answer the questions of those who disagree with you, instead label them as the devil and evil so you can dismiss their questions without thinking. So, those who believe what you believe are good, and those who don’t believe what you believe are evil. Such a loving religion!

      It’s interesting to me that you appeal to a personal revelation as evidence of the truthfulness of your belief in Mormonism, not to the Bible or Book of Mormon. You say that god revealed it to you personally, so it must have been some extra-scriptural revelation since the scriptures are public and any revelations in them are for everyone. But why should anyone believe you, what evidence can you give of your personal revelation? Why is your personal revelation, known only to you, more convincing than the facts and reality of LDS history and the Book of Mormon?

      In a previous comment you made the same argument about the fallibility of Mormon prophets and leaders and that only Jesus is perfect. I asked you a few simple questions, which I repeat here.

      *****
      Who do LDS believe wrote the Book of Mormon, which includes the racist scriptures another commenter posted above? Joseph Smith or Jesus/God? I am asking seriously, I don’t know.

      I do know that many fundamentalist Christians of other sects who believe the Bible literally, believe that it was written by Jesus/God through divine inspiration to men they used as mere instruments, as a writer uses a pen. So, to those people, rejecting any part of the Bible as an error of past thinking is a great sin. The New Testament says Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, he never changes. So, if Jesus wrote the Bible, using men as pens (because they have PENises?) and he never changes (his mind) then nothing in the Bible could ever be wrong. (that’s their argument, not mine)

      Thus, my question on who LDS believe wrote the racist scriptures in the Book of Mormon. If LDS do not believe in prophetic infallibility, and they do believe JS wrote the BOM, then rejecting and removing racist scriptures should be no problem since JS was a mere fallible man. But on the other hand, if they believe Jesus, who never changes, wrote the BOM, only using JS as a pen, then those racist scriptures in the BOM are a real problem.

      Another problem is why it took so long for the omnipotent Jesus/God to get through to so many successive Mormon ‘prophets’ and let them know racism is evil.

    • Duwayne Anderson

      Peter Marlow wrote: “I testify in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that I know God lives,

      I think you’re just making up stories and saying you “know” things you don’t know at all.

      See if you can prove me wrong by providing a logically consistent argument for your belief. I predict that you will either ignore the challenge or fail miserably in trying to answer it.

      Peter Marlow wrote: “… and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His doing…”

      Same challenge; let’s see your proof that the Mormon Church is “true,” and is “the doing” of this god you speak of.

      Until you provide the proof, there’s little reason to believe that you’re any different from any other superstitious person who “testifies” that they “know” that their brand of superstitious mumbojumbo is “true.”

    • Zack Tacorin

      Peter,

      Thank you for sharing your testimony with us. It is certainly helpful in understanding where you’re coming from. But I have a question about your testimony. How can you trust what you believe to be answers from God when:

      – Your answers contradict answers others think they have received from God? (For example, there are Catholics that believe God has told them the Catholic Church is God’s one and only church with authority from God, yet the LDS Church indicates the creeds of all churches besides the LDS Church are an abomination to God.)

      – Such influence from God is admittedly easily confused with emotions or influence from the adversary? (search for the words “emotional” or “adversary” in this article by Elder Packer at http://www.lds.org/ensign/1983/01/the-candle-of-the-lord)

      – You have no objective way to determine that your perceptions of the Spirit are anything other than a psychological experience called elevation? (see more about elevation at http://www.theamateurthinker.com/2011/02/how-can-we-find-truth-part-4/)

      – “A common technique among religious cults is to instruct people to ask God what He wants them to do. Members are exhorted to study and pray in order to know God’s will for them.” (Steven Hassan, Combatting Cult Mind Control, p. 70)? Keep in mind that this kind of exhortation to prayer to find answers from God often leads to conclusions like the “Reverend Sun Myung Moon is the Messiah.”

      Thanks in advance for any light you can shed on this!
      Zack

  1. […] Mormon racism and black self-hatred in Zion (Darron Smith, Flunking Sainthood)– “Sadly, these beliefs reach further than just the white membership and have actually gone on to instill what appears as self-hatred in a number of black Mormons. Throughout America’s racist history, Blacks have sought the approval of Whites in order to gain some recognition or simply a reprieve from the everyday microaggressions of race-based mistreatment. Yet, that approval requires Blacks to accept occupying a “lesser” status in society as well as in the hereafter. More than a few black Mormons here in America have gone on record reflecting these same racist ideas about themselves as inspired by God. “ […]

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