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LDS blacks, scholars cheer church's essay on priesthood

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  • Apocalypse please Bluffdale, UT
    June 8, 2014 3:55 p.m.

    The essay says, "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." Is the church disavowing one of the main themes in the Book of Mormon too? What other theories will be disavowed in the future?

  • benjjamin Beaverton, OR
    June 8, 2014 5:00 p.m.

    I am a "white" man. I wasn't alive in '78. I was born just a few years later, but I am aware of some of the information out there about the "cain" theory and the "fence-sitters" theory. I first heard these things about 10 years ago. I still remember thinking that it sounded bogus - like people trying to make "logical" ends meet.

    In my mind, I don't see why we can't all just rejoice together and let it alone. The "blacks" in the church are as faithful and worthy as any "white" person. I am just sick and tired of the way that some of us keep the racism alive so we have to feel the pain over and over and over again.

    All of us in the church, whether black or white, male or female, have a lot of persecution headed our way due to our unyielding commitment to God's revealed law of chastity and marriage (male with female). We need to stick together.

  • rhappahannock Washington, DC
    June 8, 2014 5:06 p.m.

    This is the reason we need a BYU-Africa located in Ghana or Nigeria. It not only repudiates the folklore, but puts our money where our mouth is and makes Africans "fellow citizens of the saints and of the household of God."

    A BYU-Africa would be such a huge publicity win for the church it would swamp out any of the advertising in Times Square or other big publicity projects. Why spend millions on such things for a one-time visibility boost when a persistent, huge PR goldmine awaits in a BYU-Africa?

    Finally, a BYU-Africa would not have to be expensive. Land, building materials, and labor are much cheaper. Get rid of the LDS Business College (which really is redundant now) and build a highly visible and highly needed asset that will generate positive PR for years and years.

  • koseighty The Shire, UT
    June 8, 2014 6:23 p.m.

    @benjjamin
    ...I am aware of some of the information out there about the "cain" theory and the "fence-sitters" theory. I first heard these things about 10 years ago. ...

    The theories were, of course, based on scripture:

    "22 And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them." Moses 7:22

    "24 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." Abraham 1:24

    etc.

  • 79Ute Orange County, CA
    June 8, 2014 6:49 p.m.

    @rhappahannock

    The idea of BYU-Africa is a great one. The PR value is nothing - the blessing it would be to the people of Africa is why it's a great idea.

  • mhenshaw Leesburg, VA
    June 8, 2014 6:56 p.m.

    >>Is the church disavowing one of the main themes in the Book of Mormon too?

    I must respectfully disagree with the claim that that's one of "the main themes in the Book of Mormon." In fact, I'd say it's not a theme of the book at all. The verse to which I think you're referring is a single historical observation by the writer -- not a prophetic utterance -- for which we're not even perfectly clear on the context. Without clear scientific context, I think it would be unwise to declare a direction connection between it and any modern group of people.

    The only true themes of the Book of Mormon are that Jesus is the Christ, He lives, and societies and individuals prosper or fail to the degree that accept and obey of His gospel.

  • Cinci Man FT MITCHELL, KY
    June 8, 2014 8:55 p.m.

    I was taught growing up that one day the priesthood would be available to all worthy men. I served my mission in 1973-74 where there were many deprived of the priesthood. I was thrilled with the expected revelation. I didn't know when it would happen, but I hoped it would be in my lifetime. And what a blessing it is to the church to have all worthy men serve with honor and distinction is all positions to which they are called. The women of the church are also to be admired. How grateful we should be for line-upon-line revelation.

  • Clarissa Layton, UT
    June 8, 2014 10:27 p.m.

    I remember that day in 1978 that African-Americans were given the priesthood. It was my senior year of high school in California. Dave, a fellow member of my ward, also a senior at my high school, came running up to me to share the great news. It was a wonderful feeling!

  • sharrona layton, UT
    June 8, 2014 11:06 p.m.

    RE Clarissa, I remember that day in 1978.
    In 1978, Brazil was one of the strongest reasons why the ban was lifted. The opening of its new temple in Sao Paulo, the LDS Church was ordaining hundreds of Brazilians to its priesthood. Did the LDS Church ignore Brazilian history? Between 1538 and Brazil's abolition of slavery in 1888, about five million African slaves were brought to that country. Through mixed marriages, Mulattos make up a substantial portion of the Brazilian population. How would the LDS Church possibly know whether or not those being ordained were qualified? With the dedication of this temple only a few months away, it would seem imperative that the church either lift the ban or face the possibility of a public relations nightmare.

    RE: Cinci Man, Go ye therefore, and teach all nations=(*etnos), baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost(Mt 28:19) *Ethnicity, black or white.

    For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, the same Lord is Lord of All and richly blesses ‘All’ who call on him, for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Will Be SAVED(Roman 10: 10-12

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    June 9, 2014 12:17 a.m.

    It may seem surprising to some that the LDS church could make such a big doctrinal mistake, i. e. Teach false doctrine, but such people don't think very deeply. If it were impossible for a church of God to stray from the truth, thr Jewish church at the time of Jesus would have accepted him, not rejected him. The Catholic church would not have strayed from the way and a restoration would not have been necessary.

    Rather than blindly believe everything you hear from the brethren, pray for discernment that you can recognuze truth from error. Pray for church leaders that they will have Gods blessing to be centered in truth.

  • speak truth fear not Orem, Utah
    June 9, 2014 12:37 a.m.

    I am happy for all people to have the same rights and promises.

    The only thing I would like to know is why Brigham Young did this to the blacks in the first place. As far as I know there was no stated revelation from God to do this.

    Very strange.

    Any insights from knowledgeable people here?

    And I am looking for facts not opinions or rhetoric.

    Thanks to everyone in advance.

  • ER in AF Harare, Zimbabwe, 00
    June 9, 2014 3:33 a.m.

    I currently live in Zimbabwe (southern Africa) and lived in Rwanda for 3 years (central). The idea of a BYU-Africa is a great!! It would give opportunity for exchange of professors (BYU, BYU-I, H & A) and would give great insight and perspective to all students that attend. It would bind together the members of the church coming from different African countries into one church and give a great base for our humanitarian missionary efforts on this continent. The greatest growth for the church in the near future will be in Africa. Let's build an excellent university to help raise up the next generation of leaders. Access to excellent schools is difficult. We should select a country that is centrally located with a temple already in place and start this university! Monies from the Perpetual Education Fund can be cycled through the university instead of going out to other institutions and only being utilized one cycle. An MTC can be adjacent to it and it could provide income for the students similar to PCC does for BYU-H. An excellent trade college could be attached as well. There are many possibilities.

  • Max Upstate, NY
    June 9, 2014 4:55 a.m.

    Apocalypse, there is a big difference between theory and doctrine. We never really had a doctrine on the issue so that lead to the springing up of various theories. Nice to see that the church finally addressed these.

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    June 9, 2014 6:39 a.m.

    It is easier to rationalize in the church these days, since our own leaders seem to be telling us that what we once thought was revelation really isn't. Are we to pick-and-choose which are revelations and which are not?
    This is not an academic question. Five years ago I would have defended as revelation both the former ban on blacks and the family proclamation. Now I can point to the church website as authentic proof that neither qualifies.
    The ex cathedra standard for LDS doctrine has just been raised.
    But we do have a pattern in the Official Declarations. The prophet speaks in conference, followed by his counselor declaring his keys and authority...then a sustaining vote of the congregation.
    Everything else spoken in conference is less than that.

  • Lilljemalm Gilbert, AZ
    June 9, 2014 6:59 a.m.

    I always had the thought that Laman and Lemuel probably tatood themselves and that's what is meant in the B of M. Not that they woke up one morning with a different skin tone. That's just me personal thought.

  • LeDoc SLC, UT
    June 9, 2014 7:13 a.m.

    The 12/6/13 statement would have more meaning if it were a 1st Presidency statement
    read on Sundays over the pulpit and printed in church magazines etc. As it is, it
    comes off as semi official and few have heard of it just as the BYU student quoted in the article says.

  • Jared NotInMiami, FL
    June 9, 2014 7:29 a.m.

    @Apocalypse

    To add to what @mhenshaw wrote - The Book of Mormon serves as a witness of the divinity of Christ; it establishes the truth contained in the Bible regarding Jesus Christ as our Savior. There are other themes in the Book of Mormon but Christ as our Savior is the main theme.

    There are a few verses in the Book of Mormon that ostensibly talk about skin color; I write ostensibly because it is an assumption that might be unfounded to state that it is a reference solely or strictly to physical appearance rather than spiritual. Further, the Book of Mormon, while written for our day, was written in a time far removed from our day. Culture and race were viewed differently than they are today. So even if references to skin color are about physical appearance, they must be understood in the context of Book of Mormon cultures. That's difficult given the fact that we have little historical information of the time.

    The LDS Church states that the priesthood ban is complex and might have had roots in racism. Regardless, it's time to move on; it’s been almost 40 years since the ban was lifted.

  • Jon1 Arlington, VA
    June 9, 2014 7:40 a.m.

    I joined the church in 1986 at age 40, long after blacks became eligible to receive the Priesthood. One aspect of that issue that I have never found an answer to and has stuck in my mind is this: If the Lord's church was restored through Joseph Smith in the 1830s then why was this 'prohibition' against blacks tolerated in the first place? Doesn't heavenly father love all his children the same? Why would this totally anti-Gospel principle be instituted and tolerated for so long, when it goes against the basic bedrock principles of the Gospel?

  • Plammijr South Jordan, UT
    June 9, 2014 7:41 a.m.

    I was about 18 months into my two year mission in Winnipeg, Manitoba when we heard the news. I remember the thrill in my heart and unfettered joy at the opportunity all had for the supernal blessings of the gospel.

  • Mom of ten SANBORNTON, NH
    June 9, 2014 7:42 a.m.

    When I look at things to figure them out, especially with no known doctrine, I look outside the box. Maybe the advancement of the gospel was so important, the choice was made, at that time, to overlook the black issue. I mean, there was already so much controversy going on, with polygamy etc. that the race issue was not addressed at the time. God is eternal and not limited to our time frame. He works with imperfect people trying to work within an imperfect and sometime evil world. No one, regardless of when their earth experience happened, will be denied any of His blessings. Is it possible that the ban was allowed to continue for a greater purpose? To....? I do not know, but I know that God does make up for all our collective mistakes. I know I have chosen a path that was the "lesser of two evils" when there seemed to be little other choice. Just a thought. It is hard to judge the decisions of a different time and culture through eyes and cultures of today. I was not there, but I trust God to make all things right.

  • Reader Sandy, UT
    June 9, 2014 7:44 a.m.

    For those who say they have never heard this statement, I wonder if they ever explore the Church's website? It is a huge resource of material for and about the Church. Anyone can access and learn a lot if they are willing to do so.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    June 9, 2014 8:02 a.m.

    One very important detail to keep in mind regarding the priesthood ban and the article the church wrote: President McKay prayed about lifting the ban and didn't feel impressed to at that time. This is significant because it strongly implies there were divine reasons for maintaining the ban for whatever reason. One day we will have all the answers, but this important detail should not be overlooked.

  • Sandy Ego San Diego, CA
    June 9, 2014 8:16 a.m.

    @Reader
    Yes, you can search the church website but this essay but it takes at least 3 clicks to find it. In my opinion it should have been more readily promoted by the church and officially endorsed by the First Presidency.

    @Jared
    It's also possible that the person translating the Book of Mormon had engrained in him racism that was prevalent in America at the time. When this person translated those passages, he included some of this racist attitude concerning "brown" people. The same thing is possible when Moses and Abraham were "translated". It's always easy for the majority to say get over a policy, not doctrine, that was in place for 120 plus years. In place during a time in America of intense segregation, discrimination and violence. "C'mon it's been 40 years, get over it"

  • Sandy Ego San Diego, CA
    June 9, 2014 8:22 a.m.

    @Mom of ten
    Are you saying that Prophets and Apostles of the Church over 120 years kept a policy on Blacks for the advancement of the Church? There are numerous official statements from the First Presidency regarding this topic. Then the Church quietly puts out an essay saying that all the statements were incorrect. That the policy came from church leaders from a racially charged time. What other policies are going to be shown as false?

  • timpClimber Provo, UT
    June 9, 2014 8:27 a.m.

    I was in a 1962 meeting in the Manti Temple with President McKay in charge. One of the topics he addressed was the request for missionaries to be sent to Ghana by the local people. He said that after much prayer that the time was not yet to do this mainly because of Church members predjustice against blacks. He told us to go home and to wipe those those feeling from our hearts and families so the Lord's promises could be fulfilled that all nations and people could have the fulness of the Gospel.

  • JonathanPDX Portland, Oregon
    June 9, 2014 8:30 a.m.

    @Apocalypse please - People often forget that the writings of men, outside the canon of scripture, even that by Church leaders, is not scripture, and should never be viewed as such.

    As the author of the article acknowledges, the leaders of the Church are men, and as such are fallible. One excellent example of this is the "Journal of Discourses" which some believe to be doctrine, but are simply the writings of men.

    Our greatest test for determining the truth of a document is the to research it, study it, and ponder its meaning. Once we have done our due diligence (Moroni 10:3-5, James 1:5-8) and decided on its veracity, we are exhorted to seek confirmation from the Holy Spirit.

    Once the Holy Spirit has testified as to the truthfulness of something, we have no further need to keep questioning its truthfulness.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 9, 2014 8:31 a.m.

    I’m pleased to see the essay forthrightly disavow such notions as the curse of Cain and the belief that skin color is due to favor or disfavor in the eyes of God. I remember the days when those ugly ideas were openly offered as explanations.

    I have a fairly clear picture of how I think the old policy came to be. It was one that few white people would have even questioned in the mid-19th century. It reflected the America that then was.

  • Free Agency Salt Lake City, UT
    June 9, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    Though I'm not a Mormon, I'm a great admirer of much of Mormon culture, because I'm very much into wholesome living and acts of kindness toward others (both Mormons and non-Mormons). What a contrast to so much of our general culture these days!

    Nevertheless, I could never be a Mormon because I never allow another human--however "divinely ordained"--to tell me what to think. When someone tells me that "the black race bears a curse," am I supposed to nod and say, "Oh, okay"? And when, many decades later, an official representative of the same someone tells me that that was an error, am I supposed to pick up the editing pencil and revise the blacks-are-cursed document in my brain?

    The black issue is just one example, of course, of this phenomenon. But I can't live that way, and I don't believe God intends for me to live that way. A well-known Mormon quote goes, "When the prophet speaks, the discussion is over." But for me, it would just be starting.

  • LDSAggie Houston, TX
    June 9, 2014 8:33 a.m.

    This essay has caused a huge faith crises for me. I'm an RM, temple married, 4 kids, leader in my ward. I'm glad the church has disavowed uninspired theories that were based on racist attitudes, but it disturbs me that such false doctrine would be taught by "prophets, seers, revelators" to begin with. I can understand the cultural environment that would lead to such a policy, but what I absolutely can't wrap my head around is that the priesthood ban persisted until 1978, decades AFTER the civil rights movement. What I'm hearing is that the Lord's anointed, the only men on the whole planet earth who have the authority and access to the divine revelation, those guys were not only uninspired on this issue, but they were less inspired than countless others outside the LDS faith? The essay raises far more questions than it answers. Hard questions. Since reading that essay I have been unable to take any conference talk or church manual very seriously. Every time somebody quotes a leader in their talk, which is almost every talk, "President or Elder so and so said," all I can think is, "Why should I care?"

  • Norway south jordan, UT
    June 9, 2014 8:39 a.m.

    I've always wondered why we needed a revelation to end the ban when we didn't have a revelation to start the ban. Why not just end it without revelation?

  • LeDoc SLC, UT
    June 9, 2014 8:38 a.m.

    @1.96SD, your comment illustrates part of the problem; you seem to hold on to the notion that the ban was Gods idea. A decent question is why d would take the time to give J Smith a revelation against slavery but fail to tell him he shouldn't have ordained blacks.
    @ Reader, yes, there is lot of info on te web site, but most people are lazy. When I taught Sunday School it always frustrated me that most people didn't bother to even read the lessons prior to class. Outside of Utah this isn't found in the local papers. The majority of people I've talked to haven't heard of it. Some who have heard about it have read it and, some (like @1.96) read it but still can't let o of the idea that the ban was of God.It wasn't.

  • UT Brit London, England
    June 9, 2014 8:52 a.m.

    @LDSAggie

    Same here, RM, temple marriage, kids, stake and ward leadership. This hit me very very hard. If there was a doctrinal reason for this I would have swallowed it bitterly and moved on. What this statement is saying is that we have had prophets denying the priesthood to families because of the colour of their skin. I have had the idea that although the prophets were just men and make mistakes the church will never be led astray. This sounds a lot like leading the church astray to me. The prophets should not be limited by the understanding of men but follow the guidance of heaven. Discrimination is not a heavenly virtue.

  • J-TX Allen, TX
    June 9, 2014 8:54 a.m.

    LDS Aggie;

    I'm sorry you are having a crisis of faith. But this is not the first time programs or teachings have been changed or dropped in the Church.

    The Seminary of today is a far cry from the seminary my grandmother experienced.

    Did it impact your faith when the Church moved Primary from Tuesdays to Sundays, or changed the meeting configuration to a three hour block (VERY UNPOPULAR AT THE TIME)?

    If you are having a crisis of faith over this, you, and all of us need to get down on our knees. And if we don't feel like praying, we should, as Spencer W. Kimball said, "pray until we feel like praying".

    The answers - and peace - will come.

    -Your brother in DFW.

  • UT Brit London, England
    June 9, 2014 9:09 a.m.

    @J-TX

    There is a huge chasm of a difference between denying families the priesthood in their homes for over a century and changing the seminary program and meeting times. I struggle to think how you can trivialise it like that.
    How many people did not join the church because of the the priesthood ban, how many could have been brought into the fold? The question deeply unsettles me.

  • Legalize_the_Constitution SOUTH JORDAN, UT
    June 9, 2014 9:12 a.m.

    LDSAggie,

    I hear your pain, and I understand. It’s been almost 1 year since I first started having a faith crisis, going from a very literal and conservative belief in the church to where I’m at now where I see the inconsistencies and messiness in everything. The blacks & the priesthood is just one of many historical issues that have very challenging implications for the church. I’m still an active member, but I don’t view the leaders as revelatory oracles anymore. I see them as men who are trying to do good, and seeking for inspiration and guidance just like you or I may seek for answers to prayers and guidance for our families.

    If you want to learn more about the blacks and the priesthood, I would recommend two books. First is David O McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism by Gregory Prince. The second is Lengthen Your Stride by Edward L. Kimball. There is also an essay by Ed Kimball titled “Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood” if you don’t want to read his whole book, you can Google that.

    Seek deeply and good luck on your journey.

  • Jared NotInMiami, FL
    June 9, 2014 9:30 a.m.

    @JonathanPDX: "It's also possible that the person translating the Book of Mormon had engrained in him racism that was prevalent in America at the time."

    That certainly is possible but since Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith felt strongly about ending slavery (many in the south didn't like the "abolitionist Mormons" settling near them) and had many other well-documented progressive views regarding race and race-relations. Yes, racism was quite engrained in the culture of the day - it still is quite engrained in our culture (although we've come a long way).

    My main objection to the original commenter was in his/her dismissal of the lengthy and well-written essay referenced by this DN article. He/she set up a red herring and turned it into a straw man.

  • brotherJonathan SLC, UT
    June 9, 2014 9:32 a.m.

    Man is allowed by God to make mistakes. If you learn of unfair practices by man. You can bet God did not instruct them to be used as commandment. God loves all his children, not just the ones in power or survival advantaged.
    Brigham Young was a great man. But he as a prophet of God led the church in some wrong paths. He tried to do what is right, but failed in his hatred and unfair beliefs about black people and forcing the word of wisdom as a commandment: When it clearly was revelation to be advice not my command or constraint.
    What could be more clear to Joseph Smith as revelation from God. The priesthood was for all mankind and personal choice for adults is God's commandment to mankind.
    Man deceived by Satan/instinct mechanism protects their advantage, encourages false beliefs so use of power for personal reasons is always suspect; When rules are made that take freedom and liberty, forcing beliefs on each other. Personal choice is protected by equality under all laws
    Alma 30: 7 Read it and know it is truth from God to man.. Slavery-based drug laws violate freedom of choice.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    June 9, 2014 9:33 a.m.

    JonathanPDX:

    The church also has an essay about the book, "Journal of Discourses" on the gospel topics section. Check it out. I wouldn't be too quick to just call it the "writings of men" as that can come off as being compared to the philosophies of the world.

    From the essay:

    "The Journal of Discourses is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is a compilation of sermons and other materials from the early years of the Church, which were transcribed and then published. It included some doctrinal instruction but also practical teaching, some of which is speculative in nature and some of which is only of historical interest."

    [...]

    "Questions have been raised about the accuracy of some transcriptions. Modern technology and processes were not available for verifying the accuracy of transcriptions, and some significant mistakes have been documented. The Journal of Discourses includes interesting and insightful teachings by early Church leaders; however, by itself it is not an authoritative source of Church doctrine."

  • Kim Cedar Park, Texas
    June 9, 2014 9:52 a.m.

    @LDS Aggie & UT Brit
    You both need to read the Biography of Spencer W. Kimball. It has a very compelling account of the Priesthood revelation. You will learn that the most significant obstacle to this revelation was prejudice among the members and leaders at that time. The membership was not ready until 1978. I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but you also need to realize that Church Leaders can and have been wrong through the ages. Take an in depth look at church history. Although not frequent, it happens. Even some Biblical leaders, such as the Apostle Paul have made errors. Christ is the only perfect being. Don't let the foibles of men shake your testimony.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    June 9, 2014 10:17 a.m.

    @Apocalypse please asks, "What other theories will be disavowed in the future?"

    1) The theory that God created gay people but for some unspecified reason thinks they, unlike heterosexuals, should be forever celibate.

    2) The theory that men and women are equal but not exactly so--that they are "different", and that because Jesus (allegedly) ordained only men, they can't ever have the priesthood.

    3) The theory that men can have multiple temple marriages but that, barring a temple divorce, women can have only one.

  • Mc West Jordan, UT
    June 9, 2014 10:25 a.m.

    The Law of Moses was instituted because the Israelites were not prepared to live the higher law. I believe the ban was instituted because the racist culture of the time would not have allowed the church to grow. I believe what timpClimber said above. Without understanding the culture of the time you cannot judge fairly. Most other churches had separate congregations and clergy for blacks because whites would not worship with them.


    Read Keith Hamilton's "Last Laborer." Great book.

    Temple work was done for deceased blacks before the ban was lifted, so the ban was just for this life and, therefore, temporary.

    We know that children who die under the age of 8 go directly to the Celestial Kingdom with no need for baptism. What race has probably had more children die before reaching 8 than any other? Blacks were indeed valiant in the pre-existence and the ban had nothing to do with that.

    God knows why the priesthood ban was needed and when to end it. When we judge the Church, we judge God and His wisdom. If we keep the faith we will understand all eventually.

  • jwdegel Malta, MT
    June 9, 2014 10:30 a.m.

    As a convert since 2006, I have read many comments regarding race and the priesthood. I didn't allow myself to be misled by comments of others and depended solely on the word of our Prophet and the General Authorities. I am pleased to see this essay and support it with all my heart. The word of God, as given in the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, in addition to the revelations given our leaders, is what we should concentrate on.

  • Michael.S Salt Lake, UT
    June 9, 2014 10:39 a.m.

    I think the most troubling thing about this announcement is that people needed to be told that this was racist. How was this not obvious to everyone? How poisonous is your thinking if you need some authority over you to tell you that racism is racism?

  • jazzbird Brigham City, UT
    June 9, 2014 10:40 a.m.

    Jon1... I have thought about some of these issues from time to time. Throughout all dispensations, the Lord needs to allow mortal men and women to (1) parent His children, and (2) lead the church. That must be difficult at times! Prophets, judges, and leaders in the Bible and the Book of Mormon often displayed mortal moments - one of the biggest being Peter's denial of being associated with Jesus Christ - three times. These mortal leaders and exemplary men and women, both ancient and modern, learn line upon line, precept upon precept, and the Lord continues to allow them to lead - according to His timing, patience, and purpose. The foundational truths have been set forth anciently, and again in the restored modern day, but that does not always mean all things will be smooth from the beginning, and remain that way. My testimony of this church has come from (1) witnesses of the Holy Ghost (most important witness is from God),(2) knowledge of key doctrines from Christ's church through a careful study of scripture (i.e. Christ, Atonement, baptism, prophets, 12 apostles, priesthood authority and keys, temples, and so forth...), and (3) experience and fruits from trying it all out.

  • AS San Marcos, CA
    June 9, 2014 10:46 a.m.

    @MC: God doesn't know why the priesthood ban was needed because it didn't come from Him. That's what the essay on LDS.org is saying.

    "In 1850, the U.S. Congress created Utah Territory, and the U.S. president appointed Brigham Young to the position of territorial governor. Southerners who had converted to the Church and migrated to Utah with their slaves raised the question of slavery's legal status in the territory. In two speeches delivered before the Utah territorial legislature in January and February 1852, Brigham Young announced a policy restricting men of black African descent from priesthood ordination."

  • Central Texan Buda, TX
    June 9, 2014 10:51 a.m.

    LDSAggie et al.

    From the Book of Mormon we should understand that some things have been deliberately withheld from us (see, for example, 3 Nephi 26:11) in order that our faith may be "tried". Despite things that might cause us to wonder about this or that, there is nothing that counters my own personal testimony of the Book of Mormon or of Joseph Smith as a chosen prophet of God.

    I think some things were deliberately either instituted in the restored church (polygamy) or not immediately eradicated from the church (priesthood ban) in order to foment opposition as the Church moved along and as we prepare for the Lord's Second Coming. We should not forget that Christ himself did things specifically he knew would bring opposition to himself that would lead to his death.

    Personal testimony is the key -- which comes from personal revelation -- which comes from deep, sincere, amd humble prayer and study.

  • GameTheory Salt Lake City, UT
    June 9, 2014 11:08 a.m.

    Blacks and the Priesthood may bring up more questions then it answers. The words that yesterdays prophets spoke are disavowed and heretical. What was once taken as literal scripture is now… well, not literal or.. i mean uh not real doctrine? What do i make of todays Apostles and Prophets when they declare "man can not make moral what God has declared to be immoral." So is that opinion or doctrine?
    Prophets once declared that it was immoral to marry with a different race. If one takes off the indoctrination glasses, this becomes really clear. Those who find clarity and comfort in this article are correct, as it were, but they may be re-arranging chairs on the titanic, instead of looking at the gaping hole along the side of the ship; What does it tell you about modern revelation and scripture if we can hardly define it, and, easily disavow it?
    Ask the Hard questions; pay attention to the holes not the chairs.

    2 Nephi 5:21, Alma 3:6, 2 Nephi 30:6 (pre 1981 version), 3 Nephi 2:15.

  • Nanook of the North Phoenix, AZ
    June 9, 2014 11:16 a.m.

    For me, Elder McConkie's words in 1978 (follow the link in the article) are more than adequate: "We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them."

    But, since so many STILL haven't quite gotten the message, I'd like to see this essay and others in the same series used as "5th Sunday" lessons for joint Priesthood/Relief Society/Young Women meetings, to make sure everyone is Very Clear about the truth as approved and told to us by those whom we sustain today as prophets, seers, and revelators.

  • SoCalChris Riverside, CA
    June 9, 2014 11:26 a.m.

    I served my mission prior to the Revelation 75-77. I remember well that even then the doctrine was simply that the time was not right for Blacks to hold the Priesthood, but that the day would come when they would hold it. Also that no Black would be denied any blessing whatsoever in the hereafter. We taught that God has His own time table -- as can be seen by the fact that the Gospel was preached first to the Jews, then the Gentiles Later. Theories abounded back then, but that's all they were -- theories.

    During my mission an elderly member of the Twelve spoke to us and expressed views on the subject that hinted of racism. I remember asking my mission president about the comments and vividly remember his response -- Elder (blank) has been a general authority a LONG time. He said it with a smile on his face that communicated to me that these were views of someone who had lived in a different time. So even prior to the Revelation, it was understood that theories were just that.

    The recent Church statement doesn't disturb me at all. In fact it only bolsters my faith.

  • Ronald Uharriet SWun City, Ca.
    June 9, 2014 11:32 a.m.

    I came into the Church in 1947. At that time, the war in heaven, (fence sitters) was taught as doctrine. How can we tell today, if those things that we believe are being taught as doctrine, are not just some more theory. When I went away in the military in 1954 and returned in 1955, we were told in a Stake Conference that the (fence sitter) message was just somebody’s theory that was never doctrine. The truth was the (Cane and Able) story. Not many years after that, we were told that the Cane and Able story was just somebody’s theory and the truth was that nobody really knows but it will all be sorted out in heaven. In 1978 we all know about the change.

    I like the current essay. I think that we should say “Mistakes have been made in the past and wee are now correcting those mistakes. I think that we need to accept responsibility for our actions and our lack of actions rather than try to cover them up or rationalize them away.

  • BlueHusky Mission Viejo, CA
    June 9, 2014 11:35 a.m.

    To those to whom this is a "crisis of faith":

    The LDS Church has NEVER claimed infallibility. Brigham Young did proclaim the doctrine. Brigham was a great leader, but he was a child of his time. And his role was to save the church. Joseph Smith's role was to establish the doctrine, and that doctrine did not include a particle of racism.

    To those scriptural literalists:
    1) Careful reading of the last couple of chapters in 2 Nephi clearly indicate that the Lehites integrated into native tribes. Laman and Lemuel become leaders.
    2) In Jacob, the political layout is clear. He speaks of political distinction of Nephites (those who are with us) and Lamanites (those against us).
    3) Jacob records a sermon denouncing plural marriage and sin clearly indicates integration into native society. They also chose "a man" as a leader who took the title "Nephi". (Romans took the name of Caesar for emperor). Who were these women and "men"? Native Americans. The Lehite immigrants would have been at most 30 or 40 people. By Nephi's death, only a hundred or so direct descendents of the Lehites would exist.

    References to dark skin could refer to integration, not God's curse.

  • Central Texan Buda, TX
    June 9, 2014 11:37 a.m.

    By the way, I was a missionary in Brazil in 1978 and I was privileged to be a temple worker in the Sao Paulo temple for a short time after the temple was first opened -- before enough local Brazilians could be called as temple workers.

    My companion and I were first informed by our branch president that the ban had been lifted, but still we were dubious at first, thinking there may have been some miscommunication somewhere in reaching our small branch. But that didn't stop us from being VERY excited about the possibility and eager for independent confirmation. When that confirmation came we were elated, to put it mildly.

    Prominent black Church member Helvecio Martins was there at the temple. It was wonderful. And his son Marcus, who at the time had been engaged to be married, put marriage on hold so he could serve a mission. I remember being seated not too far across from him with a bunch of missionaries eating pizza, which I guess would have been when he first was in training before going to his mission in Porto Alegre.

  • DonO Draper, UT
    June 9, 2014 11:37 a.m.

    All members of the LDS Church would do well to remember that "the brethren" are human beings, prone to mistakes...some of them serious...just like the rest of us. If a person's commitment to faith (or testimony as some call it) is based on a man or group of men, regardless of the positions those men hold, that person will inevitably be disappointed and lose his/her faith.

  • Firefly123 Mapleton, UT
    June 9, 2014 11:43 a.m.

    When two black men came to our ward in Grenoble, France in June of 1976, my heart soared. They attended for many weeks, and though they were Moroccan, with the darkest blue-black skin I had seen in my life, they glowed with the spirit of God. One afternoon, I saw them leave the building, their faces wet with tears. I stopped them, and they told me the missionaries had explained they could be baptized, but not hold the priesthood. The three of us stood outside crying, as I implored them to be patient; the time would come, though I wondered myself if the truth would ever be known. It was something I had prayed to understand since childhood. Church leaders never offered an answer I could believe came from God.

    Knowing my feelings, my friend Debbie called me from work to share the news. Standing in the hallway with the phone to my ear, my knees suddenly buckled, and I fell to the floor. So profound was my joy in that moment, the mere memory stands as a testimony to me to this day of God's love for all his children.

    Failure has always been in our interpretation.

  • UT Brit London, England
    June 9, 2014 11:52 a.m.

    @Kim

    Sorry but I know the leaders of the church are not perfect you don't need to be patronising. This essay goes far beyond that which is why it is so disturbing.
    We are quick to use the "speaking as a man" stamp when an apostle says or has said in the past something bizarre. This affected the church as a whole. We were taught the ban came from God otherwise it would not exist.
    Excuses such as the membership was not ready is one of the flimsiest I have heard. Are you suggesting that the lord would have allowed the blessings of the priesthood to be denied to an entire race for over a century because the other members were racist? We are taught beginning in primary about what should happen to a prophet who leads the church astray. That did not happen.
    The church is supposed to be a beacon, a light on the hill but it was way behind the civil rights movement.
    To those still saying there were other reasons for the ban apart from racism clearly have not read the essay. God was not involved in the ban, it was man made entirely.

  • AS San Marcos, CA
    June 9, 2014 12:06 p.m.

    @DonO

    If our leaders of the Church are human and prone to mistakes, then when a mistake is discovered, repent. Isn't that's what is taught to all of us? Admit the error. Make amends. Apologize and confess to the people that were injured. Why apologize?

    For the black men and women who were told for 120 years that they were second class citizens on earth and in heaven. Make it known to all white members who were raised with racial discrimination as the norm that the speculation was false. Send out a statement signed by the First Presidency. Ask Bishops to read the essay over the pulpit or something like it. Don't bury it on lds.org for 6 months. End the speculation. No curse of cain. No fence-sitters. No to the whites weren't ready.

    I would respect this honest admission and then we can move to forgiveness.

  • Central Texan Buda, TX
    June 9, 2014 12:07 p.m.

    Sharrona is correct in that the Church was having to face the issue in particular because of the growth of the Church in Brazil and with the prospects of the temple being built there, but it was also because of brothers and sisters like Darius Gray and many others. But just because the timing of things can be linked to external pressures means nothing in particular. Read Wilford Woodruff's description of what was shown to him about the continuance of the Church if polygamy were not revoked at that time of extreme pressure. Search for "Excerpts from Three Addresses by President Wilford Woodruff Regarding the Manifesto" on the lds.org website. Also, recall what Moses did when he first came down from the mount and saw the Israelites worshipping the golden calf. External pressures may often dictate what the Lord will have his followers do. The Lord knows it all, and still works his mighty works in bringing all to pass.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    June 9, 2014 12:36 p.m.

    Most of these old sayings about blacks were nothing more than conjecture and opinion. Not revelation. That is important. Even the opinions of prophets are nothing more than opinions. A prophet - like any other human being - has his own opionion about things but uless he is speaking in behalf of the Lord then it is nothing more than is opinion and opinions come and go over time. President Kimball - in 1978 - was speaking in behalf of the Lord in his revelation regarding the priesthood. It is a wonderful thing that blacks received the priesthood in 1978 and we shouldn't try to guess why it happend or why it took so long. Only God knows those answers.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 9, 2014 12:46 p.m.

    UT Brit
    To those still saying there were other reasons for the ban apart from racism clearly have not read the essay. God was not involved in the ban, it was man made entirely.

    That’s abundantly clear in reading the essay although you have to read between the lines. That regrettable chapter in Church history is obviously still very much an embarrassment to a Church that strives to exude an unblemished appearance in its outward demeanor.

  • PDC Spokane, WA
    June 9, 2014 1:09 p.m.

    I consider myself a faithful member of the church and I still have a very hard time reconciling certain issues of church history. It is fascinating to see how many different "stories" or "excuses" we tell ourselves to explain away the unexplainable. To say that prophets are men and make mistakes, which I agree with, just doesn't cut it when we are trying to justify old doctrine(label it how you may, but when a prophet speaks it is considered the word of God aka doctrine)that obviously isn't in line with gospel principles. How can we say on one hand that they receive direct revelation from God and then on the other say that not everything they have told us has come from God? While I wish I could accept this, it just doesn't work for me. I really want to have my cake and eat it to but my mind won't allow it. Since the ban on blacks and the priesthood didn't come from God then what about other questionable practices including polygamy, gay marriage, etc.?

  • garybeac Chapel Hill, NC
    June 9, 2014 1:14 p.m.

    When one looks at other sects sometimes described as millennialist, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and 7th-day Adventists, it is striking that such large numbers of African Americans have joined, and thrived in, those faiths. Though many African Americans have lashed out at the injustices they have experienced over the centuries, I have found that, at its core, African American culture is deeply moral and has a natural affinity for faiths that hope and strive for a better world in the here and now. Thus, without their prohibition from the priesthood, the LDS faith would have enjoyed great success in proselytizing African Americans from its earliest days. Sadly, large numbers of African American saints would have been an obstacle to proselytizing among many Whites. This is a shameful thing to admit, but it was needful that the Church, persecuted and discriminated itself, grew among peoples who did not already suffer an added persecution and discrimination for their very existence. I believe that, through the plan of Eternal Progression, all men and women from all times and circumstances will eventually have an equal opportunity to confess that Jesus is the Christ and gain an equal reward.

  • dotGone Puyallup, WA
    June 9, 2014 1:19 p.m.

    I remember the day the news came over the radio. Wow! Exciting! In the preceding months, I had a bit of a crisis of faith about the priesthood not extended to all worthy men. I puzzled and prayed. I decided since I knew the church was true, I would trust God. Shortly thereafter, I heard the good news. I always think of it as a test of faith, like Abraham and Isaac. The Lord says "I will try the faith of my people". From a worldly perspective some things are puzzling. Trust Heavenly Father. The church is true.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 9, 2014 1:42 p.m.

    @benjjamin
    "I don't see why we can't all just rejoice together and let it alone. "

    Was the church correct to have that policy until 1978? If your answer is yes, then that's why it's not left alone. If your answer is no, well... what are the ramifications of that regarding whether or not it is God's restored church on Earth?

  • SLCPorter SLC, UT
    June 9, 2014 1:54 p.m.

    I'm thrilled that the Des News is FINALLY acknowledging the existence of this essay. But what took you so long?

  • LovelyDeseret Gilbert, AZ
    June 9, 2014 1:55 p.m.

    The problem is anytime you mention "race", those with a nefarious agenda play the race card and try to end all rational dialog.

  • KenK Fairfield, CA
    June 9, 2014 1:57 p.m.

    While this is a nice recap what happened 6 months ago, I'm still puzzled why lds insist that the ban was a product of the times and was not scriptural or revealed doctrine, thus can easily be dismissed as personal mistakes. Scriptures- Moses 7:7, 7:22, 2Nephi5:21. And if these were unclear, the first presidency in 1949 clarified things: "It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time." That's a lot to disavow in an anonymous, undated post on lds.org under Gospel Topics with no further address from leadership.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    June 9, 2014 1:58 p.m.

    Here's a big problem with the explanation "the members and leaders were not ready for blacks to have the priesthood":

    It was the leaders who were promoting the racist doctrine to begin with, and it wasn't just a backwater, off the cuff idea from Brigham Young. David O. McKay, as a member of the First Presidency, issued a written statement in 1949 that specifically stated that "The priesthood ban is not a policy. It is a direct commandment from God".

    How in the world would the members of the church have *any* chance of NOT having racist views, with a "direct commandment from God" proclamation from the First Presidency?

    I was raised during the ban, and we often questioned exactly why blacks were discriminated against. I'm very happy things have changed, but the re-writing of history and throwing over 100 years worth of prophets and apostle under the bus is highly problematic.

    "If you were wrong about that for over 100 years, what are you wrong about today?"

  • kevinmosley Pittsburgh, PA
    June 9, 2014 2:11 p.m.

    Thanks to Brigham Young, many other GAs and members who had/have no clue what they were/are talking about, race is and will be an issue in the church for generations. As much as you may not want to admit it, the US was founded under the basis of white supremacy. After Joseph Smith (he had his own notions) church leadership ran with it and couldn't bring themselves to admit it until last December. Even then the manner in which it was done was shall we say "understated". "Race and the Priesthood" is a step in the right direction but without dialogue and GAs speaking about it and race from the pulpit, that's all it will ever be. This comment section makes that clear.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    June 9, 2014 2:19 p.m.

    RE: BlueHusky, To those to whom this is a "crisis of faith":

    ” I never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call it Scripture, Let me have the privilege of correcting a sermon and it is a good as Scripture as they deserve.” (JoD v 13 p. 95 also see v. 13. P 264) I.e…,

    Can you make a Christian of a Jew? I tell you Nay, If a Jew comes into this church ,and the blood honestly professes to be a Saint, a follower of Christ, and if the blood of Judah is in his veins, he will apostatize.(JoD V. 2 p. 142).

    RE: Central Texan, Moses..."God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel, and He will make me be ‘god’ to you in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth for me; and if you don’t like it, you must lump it." (DHC 6:318-320.”)

    Are the Mormons abolitionists? No, unless delivering the people from priestcraft, and the priests from the power of Satan, should be considered abolition

  • Mc West Jordan, UT
    June 9, 2014 2:44 p.m.

    I do not believe that the priesthood ban was just a big mistake made by a prophet acting as a racist man that all the prophets after him blindly followed. The Race and the Priesthood article does not say that either.

    I believe that Brigham Young was led by God to institute the ban, not because it was right or God wanted it, but because God knew the church could not grow in the climate of that day without it. I'm sure He was not pleased by it and wanted the day to come when members of the church would pray for the ban to be lifted and rejoice when it was.

    I do not believe Brigham Young led the Church astray. He did what had to be done at the time, just as Spencer W. Kimball did for his time. It's why we have living prophets for our time.

  • dotGone Puyallup, WA
    June 9, 2014 3:11 p.m.

    Well said Mc

  • rlsintx Plano, TX
    June 9, 2014 3:11 p.m.

    I leave the judgement associated with the past to the Lord and those who were in leadership positions since it was theirs to get right. If it was appropriate, many of us may not know the underlying reasons why and will some day. If it was error, that will be on those who directed it and those disadvantaged will have it covered by the Atonement of Chris. After 36 years of the ordination of all to the priesthood, I have to tell you it brings a big smile to my face to look back on the literally dozens of blessed and faithful individuals who have taken advantage of it with whom my life intersected in eastern states and the south.

    Not much sense in staring at the past, we're not moving that way.

  • Mc West Jordan, UT
    June 9, 2014 3:15 p.m.

    Craig Clark
    I have read the essay more than once and did not get what you got out of it. I guess people see what they want to see.

    I regret that there was a priesthood ban for blacks. They deserved better and I'm sorry that they had to wait so long for it. But I also believe in all the latter-day prophets who led this church. They knew God and His will for this church at the time that they led it. Many of them prayed for the ban to be lifted. If the time was right, God would have lifted it. I don't know why it took so long, but I am very sure it wasn't because of any lack of faith or righteousness in black members of the church. Their strength and commitment to the gospel during that time amazes me. Would that we all had such vision and humility. I have no doubt there are great rewards awaiting them.

  • Jennifer Zapata Sacramento, CA
    June 9, 2014 3:15 p.m.

    Speak Truth Not Fear, Brigham Young was a Democrat and spoke disdainfully about Republicans.

  • hermounts Pleasanton, CA
    June 9, 2014 3:46 p.m.

    I'm afraid that the old ideas about why blacks could not receive the priesthood before will persist until the brethren give us authoritative alternate interpretations of the scripture passages on which the old ideas were based, but these have not been forthcoming. If those passages don't mean what we always thought they meant, what DO they mean? As the old saying goes, you can't beat something with nothing.

  • gmlewis Houston, TX
    June 9, 2014 4:12 p.m.

    During His mortal ministry, Jesus commanded his apostles to preach only to the children of Israel. After His resurrection, He commanded Peter to bring the gospel to the Gentiles.

    When we understand why Jesus gave the first commandment, and then changed it later, we will then be able to understand why this wonderful revelation was given to Pres. Kimball in 1978.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    June 9, 2014 4:27 p.m.

    Mc:

    Here's one problem with your interpretation that the Lord led Brigham Young to institute the ban and then left it in place until Spencer W. Kimball and the 15 prophets, seers and revelators saw fit to ask the Lord if the ban should continue in 1978:

    There were almost no blacks in Utah when Brigham instituted the policy.

    Was this policy implemented to punish the miniscule number of blacks who came with the pioneers? Perhaps.

    Did the Lord implement the priesthood ban as a means of positioning the Church within American society? It seems doubtful, since the Lord inspired the Church to flee the United States because of their persecution and the murder of Joseph Smith.

    Perhaps the Lord implemented the policy as a means of testing the white members. I suppose anything is possible, but it does seem odd to punish an entire group of people just because of their heritage, for somebody else's sins, but lineage was a common criteria for persecution by the Lord, historically.

    The Bible was used to justify slavery, in the 1800s, after all. Anything is possible, it seems.

  • crypto66 UT, UT
    June 9, 2014 4:45 p.m.

    Well after all it's been said and written about, doesn't this just prove that even prophets and apostles can teach false doctrine?

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 9, 2014 4:50 p.m.

    This essay should have made it emphatically explicit that black exclusion from the Mormon priesthood was a church policy based on nothing other than 19th century American cultural attitudes about race.

  • LDSAggie Houston, TX
    June 9, 2014 4:54 p.m.

    I'm amazed by the nonsensical remarks from people like @Kim, @J-TX, and @CentralTexan. What happened to CTR? Choose the Right and Let the Consequences Follow! How many historical examples are there of people putting themselves at great personal risk to save blacks from slavery, jews from the holocaust, etc.? We cheer figures like Rosa Parks who stood up for a cause. Where were we though? Oh, 20 years behind the curve, how inspired! Other than trekking across the plains do we have any history to be proud of?

  • LDSAggie Houston, TX
    June 9, 2014 4:58 p.m.

    @J-TX,

    This isn't wasn't a church program, lol. Google "august 17 1949 first presidency statement". This is but one of COUNTLESS examples. George Albert Smith, along with numerous other church presidents, declared this as official doctrine from the pulpit, on official letterhead, etc. It wasn't a simple policy, it was DOCTRINE that blacks were cursed and members of an unworthy tribe. DOCTRINE. This wasn't a policy to have seminary at a different time of the day.

  • Mc West Jordan, UT
    June 9, 2014 5:17 p.m.

    @10CC
    The policy was not implemented to punish blacks at all. If it was to punish anyone I think it was members of the church who were deprived of the great leadership and service they could have had from faithful black members.

    @Craig Clark
    I don't dispute that the ban was instituted because of 19th Century racism, but that does not mean the policy didn't come from God. He knows the culture of every time period and what the people are ready to accept. He sees far beyond what we see and so do the prophets.

  • Here Sandy, UT
    June 9, 2014 7:02 p.m.

    For reasons unknown to me, and likely you too, the priesthood was with-held from those of black African descent. Elder McConkie's quote rings true. He said we now - as of 1978 - have an extremely expanded view of the situation that greatly overshadows anything previously known or claimed. Perhaps we should wait to judge - likely in the next life - till all the facts are in, till we know all about why it happened and continued.

    And having read the essay, I don't see the smoking gun that tells me to mistrust every future statement of the prophets. Some apparent, even significant, incongruencies in statements do not bother my testimony in that I know that man's ways are not God's ways. His purposes will be fulfilled.

    The church leaders are doing their best to openly and honestly address people's concerns. Can we give them some credit for that? It is still The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints. It is still led by prophets. It still is the church with which the Lord is well-pleased (speaking unto the church collectively and not individually), see D&C 1:30. The Proclamation on the Family is still true.

  • bj-hp Maryville, MO
    June 9, 2014 8:32 p.m.

    Still the critics refuse to listen and let it go. Brigham Young acted as President of the Church for the better of the Church at the time. Though personally I never agreed with the ban I feel that I can understand why. You have to look at the time and judge it by that period and not by modern time. The mid 1800s were full of what could be called negative attitude towards any black. Whether living in the North or the South blacks were looked down upon. Remember the Union Army and the US Government segregated the services even during the world wars. The were segregated in the North and the South. Brigham Young acted on what he felt was best for the Church. Do you honestly feel the Church would have grown if the ban had never existed? If you do then you don't know American History. This was not punishment to the blacks but a means to segregate just as the rest of the country. Even in 1974 the military was just starting to come out of segregation. By 1978 the country and church was prepared to go further.

  • Unreconstructed Reb Chantilly, VA
    June 9, 2014 8:38 p.m.

    10CC,

    Space limitations are unforgiving, but some brief thoughts within what's allowed....

    "There were almost no blacks in Utah when Brigham instituted the policy."

    True, but shortly before Brigham's first articulation of the policy there was a kerfluffle over William McCary, a black, ordained convert. Brigham, who had previously welcomed McCary, later excommunicated him for apostasy for several reasons, among them McCary's taking of several white women as plural wives. Miscegenation triggered something in Brigham, and much has been written about this incident in relation to the ban's origin.

    "Did the Lord implement the priesthood ban as a means of positioning the Church within American society?"

    LDS issues with race date to Missouri, when Mormons backed off converting blacks to avoid accusations of abolitionism at a time when Missouri was burning over the issue. I've seen a persuasive argument that slavery was allowed in the Utah territory to court favor with Southern politicians at a time when Mormons had given up on protections from Northern ones. There's some underlying realpolitik at work. I doubt the Lord implemented it, it's a deep failure of the Saints' survival instincts gone awry.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    June 9, 2014 8:46 p.m.

    The enslaving of the mind is the sin of the church today, it perpetuates myths and causes the individual to rationalize the obvious. It leads one to set aside responsibility to search for truth in exchange for a sense of belonging and the comfort of letting others dictate.

  • Unreconstructed Reb Chantilly, VA
    June 9, 2014 8:52 p.m.

    speak truth fear not,

    "The only thing I would like to know is why Brigham Young did this to the blacks in the first place."

    The best starting point is an older essay titled "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview" by Lester Bush. It's easy to find online. It's a little dated, but was groundbreaking in its research and played a role in President's Kimball's study when he was wrestling with the issue. It's not comfortable reading, but it's not an "anti" source of information.

    "As far as I know there was no stated revelation from God to do this."

    President McKay, whose views on race and the priesthood evolved over several decades, supposedly said that the ban was a policy that had become so deeply embedded that it required a revelation to overcome it.

  • panamadesnews Lindon, UT
    June 9, 2014 10:49 p.m.

    Mom of ten: You are very wise and I concur with your thoughts 100%. Thank you and God Bless.

  • Big Joe V Rancho Cucamonga, CA
    June 10, 2014 1:07 a.m.

    We can reason this and get stuck endlessly on semantics. It comes down to testimony and faith. If we are on the winning team we are blind followers, but faithful followers as was stated recently.

  • JamesG Mountain home, ID
    June 10, 2014 2:26 a.m.

    Well this is really disturbing to me. I have been studying this for a while now and due to space limitations i must summarize.
    1. Manyaccounts from the journal of js, the record, and others journals clearly show that this ban originated with him, starting after the ordination of elijah abel which the prophet said he had been commanded to rmove from him.
    2. Scriptures spanning multiple millennia show a clear ban on black/cannanites plus many modern prophets and official first presidency declarations.
    3. Brigham young detailed that the sons of cain(as taught by js) could not have the priesthood until all the sons of adam had had it first, they must be last, and that the ban would stay inplace until judgement day but that once given the Lord would had blessing for the faithful of this lineage of not only what other possessed but more. Those are not the words of a racist man. Period.

    Why are we calling past prophet racist or otherwise backing the bus over them. It leaves us unable to trust our current leadership either. I hate this essay not because i want the ban but because it tramples the prophets.

  • theOtter Lafayette, IN
    June 10, 2014 4:54 a.m.

    I’m a bit confused here. The article includes the statement, “The page, which showed the ban was rooted in the racism of the mid-1800s…”. What is “the page”? If it’s referring to the “Race and the Priesthood” essay on LDS.org, this statement is completely incorrect. The essay says nothing about the Priesthood restriction being “rooted in the racism of the mid-1800s”; indeed, there is no mention whatsoever of the restriction’s source. The essay debunks the theories set forth to justify the Priesthood restrictions, but takes no position on the correctness or incorrectness of the restrictions themselves.

  • thebigsamoan Richmond, VA
    June 10, 2014 6:32 a.m.

    To UT Brit, LDS Aggie, and others who are troubled by this essay...

    I too, have been greatly disturbed by this issue for many years since joining the church. I also regret that it ever happened but, now the the Lord has made the correction, I think it's time to let go and move on. I know that's easier said than done but I sincerely hope that you'll seek answers directly from the Lord himself through earnest and sincere prayer. He alone knows all the answers to the real reasons why this policy was instituted in the first place and for what purpose. I feel a deep love towards you as my brothers in the faith and am greatly concern that we may be loosing you as a result of this. I hope I'm wrong. God bless you in your search to clarity and peace of mind!

    As for the BYU-Africa suggestion, I thinks it's a grand idea, not only for all the reasons stated but I think it can be an awesome tool to recruit talented African athletes to come to BYU Provo. Amen? Go Cougars!

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    June 10, 2014 8:09 a.m.

    @bj-hp
    "Still the critics refuse to listen and let it go"

    We look back on slavery, and say it was wrong.
    We look back on Jim Crow, and say it was wrong.
    We look back on the priesthood ban, and many of you say it was right since it was from God (just that the explanations for it were racist and wrong).

    It's not going to be let go until the ban itself is condemned.

  • starman52 Magna, UT
    June 10, 2014 8:10 a.m.

    As the father of two black sons I have studied long and hard about this issue. The dark skin in the Book of Mormon was a cursing of those not keeping the commandments so that they would not mix with those that were keeping the commandments. That does mean God considers dark skin a curse. "Black and white, bond and free, male and female, all are alike unto God" (2 Nephi 26:33). If they started out dark He could have made them white. If they were short He could have made them tall. We move away from that different from what we are used to. The cursing was a separation from God. That was an isolated circumstance of one point in time, not characteristic of a general false conclusion that all skin color, at all times, in all places is an indication of God's acceptance.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    June 10, 2014 8:27 a.m.

    RE:starman52, That was an isolated circumstance of one point in time, not characteristic of a general false conclusion that all skin color, at all times, in all places is an indication of God's acceptance?
    The gospel to the Gentiles, Isaiah and Jeremiah prophezies, all ethnicities=(Gentiles)black or white:
    “… a covenant to the people, for a light(Jesus) to the Gentiles(ethnos). (ISA: 42:6 LXX) To the Gentiles=(ethnos) shall come to your light,..”. (Isaiah 60:3LXX), I.e..,

    (Jesus commands) “Go into all the world and preach the gospel ’to ALL’ creation”(Mark 16:15)

  • J Poll Gilford, NH
    June 10, 2014 8:53 a.m.

    To LDSAggie: So it was in the early church and the ancient church. Some of the early Saints saw the weaknesses of the Prophet Joseph or others and they struggled and ultimately lost their faith and testimony. How will we respond in our olive press or refiner's fire? Will we recall the witness we have received and recognize that The Lord "will try the faith of [His] people"? When we are in such a spiritual crisis we need to turn to scripture, prayer and seek counsel. The gospel is true and this is the Lords church. He does the best he can with us and let's us make mistake that we may learn (see D&C 58: 26-31). He is testing us and we must cling to the witness of the Holy Ghost. Immerse yourself in the scriptures and invite His spirit.

  • falasha Mount Laurel, NJ
    June 10, 2014 10:06 a.m.

    Personally I am thankful for the essay. I served my mission in South Florida and had the opportunity to teach many of mixed ancestry from Cuba. It shows that even if the first presidency writes a letter and sends it to a good man like Lowry Nelson on 17 July 1947, and calls it doctrine - in reality the truth may be that the prophets are completely deceived and their words filled with folklore lies and darkness inspired from Lucifer himself. The letter was signed by the prophet George Albert smith, J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKay emphatically stating that "From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel." These were trash doctrines invented by prophets over the years which prevented blacks from receiving the blessings of eternal families. We should not be thankful that God removed the curse which kept black families from receiving the blessings of the temple for over 120years we should be thankful that "scales have fallen from the eyes" of those who invented the curse.

  • 1.96 Standard Deviations OREM, UT
    June 10, 2014 10:47 a.m.

    For those who stated this have been a test of their faith, I highly suggest reading the testimonies from Bruce R. McConkie and Gordon B. Hinckley regarding the revelation. It will give you comfort, peace of mind, and strengthen your faith. You will have a greater understanding that the prophets and apostles are truly inspired and are the authorized servants of Jesus Christ.

    At the bottom of the church's essay of "Race and the Priesthood", go down to the following footnotes:

    Footnote 21, Gordon B. Hinckley, “Priesthood Restoration,” Ensign, Oct. 1988,

    Footnote 22, Bruce R. McConkie, “All Are Alike unto God”

    These footnotes have links to view these talks, and the talks have their testimonies of the priesthood revelation. They are powerful! For footnote 22, it takes you to BYU's site, but just do a search for "All Are Alike unto God" at that site and it will be the first result.

  • Tasha B A Place, UT
    June 10, 2014 11:08 a.m.

    @falasha: They didn't invent the LDS church did not invent the curse, the idea was apart of American thought for centuries prior. It was an underlying assumption before the curse....JS also would use similar terms. What was new was simply the application of it into a priesthood ban.

  • iamnotcrazymymomhadmetested Leonding, 00
    June 10, 2014 11:33 a.m.

    Read the Book of Mormon. Visit Africa. You will be amazed of the living faith you will see.
    Is God a racist? Yes, he is.
    He has created man in three different basic types and many peoples with distinct attributes.
    He coventants with one people only.
    But all of His children can partake of the fullness of the blessings His covenant people enjoy by entering into the covenant and become members of His people, be it by blood line or adopted, that doesn't matter.
    The Lamanites were cursed with a black skin. But in the end, the curse turned into a blessing, the Lamanites prevailed while the Nephites perished; and a marvelous book of Holy Scripture was saved for them first, then for the rest of Israel and finally for the gentiles.

  • falasha Mount Laurel, NJ
    June 10, 2014 12:07 p.m.

    @Tasha-B, The racism taught as doctrine in the July 17, 1947 letter by the First Presidency to Dr. Lowry Nelson, was a tentacle of the apostasy that held on after the restoration, and polluted the minds of the Lord's anointed. Re-mixing with restoration style innovation - call it "American", "cultural", or pre-existent [assignment] to superior positions before the world was formed". It is the same. - Complete lies

  • platesofplatinum Mount Laurel, NJ
    June 10, 2014 12:19 p.m.

    @1.96 Std Dev: In terms of footnote 22, when McConkie said "Forget everything that I have said . . . in days past," he should have said, forget every thing that "I have said, or will ever say in the future on the topic of race". Even as late as 1981 he was still infected with this toxic racist folk doctrine cancer, when he wrote the section on the priesthood in the 1981 book with the complete text he still believes that blacks are of the [formally cursed] lineage of Cain. Even if he is excited and thankful that blacks of the formally cursed lineage of Cain can finally receive the priesthood, he doesn't realize that he is still incredibly offensively wrong.

  • silverbear Goshen, UT
    June 10, 2014 12:35 p.m.

    My wife and I was living in Hawaii at the time this announcement was made. We rejoiced with our fellow saints. Many Hawaiian people come from a mixed race background thus making it difficult for leaders to decide who could hold the Priesthood. Thank You for inspired leaders who received this revelation from our Lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

  • Well.ok Lehi, UT
    June 10, 2014 12:35 p.m.

    I love the idea that church members weren't ready for the priesthood ban removal prior to 1978. So the early Saints could accept polygamy, additional scripure, WoW, persection, the trek out West to Utah, and blacks as members, but we're to believe the church would have fallen apart if those same black members were given the priesthood?

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    June 10, 2014 1:55 p.m.

    The first African-American ordained to the priesthood in The Church of Jesus Christ (WHQ: Monongahela, Pennsylvania) occurred in the October 1898 Conference when Brother George Washington was ordained an Elder. We have had 2 African-American brothers as members of our Quorum of 12 Apostles - one brother in the recent past (John K. Penn), and one brother serving currently.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    June 10, 2014 2:03 p.m.

    Brother John K. Penn was the 1st African-American member of our Quorum of 12 Apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ (WHQ: Monongahela, Pennsylvania), serving in that quorum from 1910 until his death in 1955 at age 88.

  • LouisD Las Vegas, NV
    June 11, 2014 9:21 a.m.

    I joined the LDS Faith when 17 years of age and following a truly Joseph Smith-like conversion experience(quite literally, mom and dad different faiths, about to join with Lutherans at age 14, big important prayer decision, James 1:5-6, I mean quite seriously the same in every way). At age 17 the "revelation" that brought me into our faith occurred, but I had no knowledge of the "Priesthood" issues when I joined.

    When I learned this, I was disturbed. My family is very racially diverse. But my faith was solid. I was on my way to a dentist appointment in Southern California in 1978 (Paul H. Dunn's brother) when I heard and began crying while driving on the 405 towards his office. We both shed more tears about the joy.

    Years later I was asked by a Black missionary why it took so long? The spirit responded back immediately, "The priesthood grew throughout the world as continental missions opened up. The first will be last and the last (faithful Blacks) and the last will be first to enter the kingdom of God. Africa was last opened and is first at growing, first in baptisms today!"

  • MJ Annie LAYTON, UT
    June 11, 2014 10:01 a.m.

    This is causing an understandable crisis of faith for many of my friends and family members. What we were taught 30 years ago as "doctrine" is now "folklore." So, it's very likely that the "doctrine" we are learning right now will be "folklore" in 30 years. Are we supposed to believe that our cousin's same-sex marriage is bad, even though he is finally stable, healthy, and happy? (He was lonely and miserable and sometimes even suicidal before he left the church and met his husband.) These issues have real effects on people. It's not - oops, we were wrong. Sorry. No harm done. People kill themselves over "doctrine/folklore/whatever it is. How do we trust any so-called "doctrine" - especially when we clearly see it's harming our loved ones?

  • illuminated St George, UT
    June 11, 2014 1:05 p.m.

    What is frightening to me is the how easily our leaders and doctrine can be changed from the winds of societal culture. If everything we as Latter Day Saints believe in is simply subject to change when society deems it, "bad", what do we really believe in at all?

    Take the gay marriage and ordain women groups. When these things have become more and more culturally acceptable, will the Church leadership simply decide to change their stance on them? It seems ever since the John Taylor manifesto stopping Polygamy, the Church has taken a stance that rather than be persecuted as the Pioneers were, we would simply "give in".

    For those of you inside the church supporting gay mariage and ordain women, and want to see it become accepted, are you not bothered by the idea that the Church would simply become a democracy, where anything that's popular "this week" becomes doctrine? Or is it just more fun belonging to a "club" rather than a Church with strict laws and commandments?

  • Lilalips Attleboro, MA
    June 11, 2014 1:30 p.m.

    Let's face it. Our leaders are imperfect human beings who sometimes ask us to trust implicitly in what they say. These two concepts are contradictory and conflicting. Thankfully we are not left without confirmation of what we should or should not do. We have our own prayer and the holy ghost to fall back on. My own studies over the past 15 years have shown me that our church has been very misguided in things such as polygamy, the priesthood, and women to name a few. Poor Emma Smith. Homosexuality has always been a sin since the Genesis of times. That being said, it is the only Christian denomination poised to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the entire world. And it is the only Christian denomination to have the organization to respond in any relevant way to world crisis or disaster. Going forward, I will not be silent on certain issues in gospel doctrine classes any longer especially in terms of historical truth. I will speak out and I will speak my mind. God save the LDS church.

  • LDSareChristians Anchorage, AK
    June 11, 2014 3:32 p.m.

    UT Brit posted: Are you suggesting that the lord would have allowed the blessings of the priesthood to be denied to an entire race for over a century because the other members were racist?

    Personally, I don't think it was the member's who were at issue in 1850's, but rather the rest of the USofA. The church was already under assault over it's practice of Polygamy. To have continued to allow the blacks to hold the priesthood and to be treated as equals, would have added another weapon to the arsenal already directed at the church then.

    So, the "ban" was there not because the members were racist, but because most of the USofA was racist.

    The church already fighting a war on the Polygamy front, was not interested in 2nd front, fighting the USofA over treating blacks as equals (as was the case in 1840's).

    I must stress, this is my personal take. Not doctrine.

  • Lilalips Attleboro, MA
    June 12, 2014 5:58 a.m.

    We have to remember that our testimonies, our personal experiences with the Holy Ghost are what keep us in this church. It is a living thing. That means… it can change. If we do not allow the church to change then we are guilty of damning it to a certain stagnation. How can we accuse the church of being unwilling to face a whitewashed past if we do not stand up and cheer when it does? But this means change for the better. For those of you afraid of more doctrinal change I say, read your scriptures. Could women lead in the church? Yes, there is historical precent for that. But it doesn't mean that they need to be ordained to a priesthood. Can gays marry and be sanctified by God? Unlikely as it flies in the face of all known scriptures, both modern and ancient. Children need both a father and a mother. That does not mean that we are not kind and loving to gays. We don't "stone" them metaphorically or otherwise. However, we do understand the idea of "sin" as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery, "Go thy way and sin no more".

  • usbrickwall Centerville, Utah
    June 12, 2014 10:09 p.m.

    The tradition of Christians believing in the "Cain Doctrine" predates mormonism, and was the common belief of protestants in the 18th and 19th centuries. Brigham Young was a protestant of that era, and brought some old beliefs with him when he joined the church. It was unfortunate that he instituted the policy of prohibiting blacks from receiving the priesthood. Certainly Joseph Smith didn't share a belief in that tradition, as blacks were ordained when he was the prophet.

  • GoingTo100 Gilbert, AZ
    June 13, 2014 3:33 p.m.

    The black men and women of the church who have stayed strong in spite of the folklore, imperfect leaders, insensitive members, etc, etc, are the true heroes and incredible examples of faithfulness. When I look up to them and their testimonies, I wonder if I was the fence sitter. Truly I am strengthened by them and grateful for them.

  • antodav TAMPA, FL
    June 25, 2014 2:02 p.m.

    As recently as 2012 I still heard a senior missionary in Institute teaching the disavowed “descendants of Cain” and “less valiant in the pre-existence” theories. Thankfully there were not many other people in the room at the time, but I immediately corrected him and stated unequivocally that such ideas were NOT doctrine—and this was before the essay came out. Within the context of 19th and early 20th Century America, it makes sense that the priesthood ban was in place, given what racial attitudes were at the time both inside and outside of the Church. But it is increasingly clear that Brigham Young’s rationale for imposing the ban in the first placed was based in error (particularly a misreading of the Book of Abraham), not revelation.

    The only question remaining is why the Lord waited until 1978 to deliver the revelation needed to lift the ban. My best guess is that it was because the members of the Church—and the nation—were not yet ready for it to be lifted. It’s a discussion too long to fit in this comment, but I do believe all things occur for a wise purpose.

  • Alexx Honolulu, HI
    Sept. 17, 2014 5:23 a.m.

    For those having "Faith Crisis" (Part I), I was starting one too until I found what the real problem is. I believe this is the bottom line of this issue: Most of us are believing that the church is disavowing the Ban and thus contradicting the official position and practice of the church for over 100 years; the media is also saying that, for example the Huffington Post states that the church for "the first time disavows the ban". Well, that is what I thought too for the first few times I read the church's statement; however, after careful subsequent examination of the document, I now believe there is nothing in the text that points to disavowing the ban. Read carefully at what is being disavowed "Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor...[and the other theories that tried to explain why the ban was implemented]" I don't think the church is disavowing the ban,but just what people thought were the reasons (the theories advanced in the past) that justified the ban.

  • Alexx Honolulu, HI
    Sept. 17, 2014 5:24 a.m.

    For those having a "Faith Crisis" (Part II)
    The other key paragraph reads "The justifications for this restriction echoed the widespread ideas about racial inferiority..." and then lists the theories that the church disavows.

    I don't think the church is contradicting itself here in anyway as to the implementation the ban. In fact the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (long regarded as a trustworthy source of information) states "The reasons for these restrictions have not been revealed". There is no revelation that explains the reasons for the ban just people hearsay or theories (based sometimes on a few scriptures that don't really throw that much light on a complex matter as this) and that's why it is just wise for the church to disavow any theory that is not well rooted in revelation. On the other hand, there is not revelation per se that implements the ban, but we had one that lifted it and it came after over 100 years of the Lord allowing its implementation.

  • Alexx Honolulu, HI
    Sept. 17, 2014 5:26 a.m.

    For those having a "Faith Crisis" (Part II)
    The other key paragraph reads "The justifications for this restriction echoed the widespread ideas about racial inferiority..." and then lists the theories that the church disavows.

    I don't think the church is contradicting itself here in anyway as to the implementation the ban. In fact the Encyclopedia of Mormonism (long regarded as a trustworthy source of information) states "The reasons for these restrictions have not been revealed". There is no revelation that explains the reasons for the ban just people hearsay or theories (based sometimes on a few scriptures that don't really throw that much light on a complex matter as this) and that's why it is just wise for the church to disavow any theory that is not well rooted in revelation. On the other hand, there is not revelation per se that implements the ban, but we had one that lifted it and it came after over 100 years of the Lord allowing its implementation.

  • Alexx Honolulu, HI
    Sept. 17, 2014 5:28 a.m.

    For those having a "Faith Crisis" (Part III)

    So I think that the church has made a historic move in finally rejecting all those theories taught within the church, but so far I don't believe this is jeopardizing the status of the church as for what it claims to be.

    As always everything I say/think can be wrong, but I want to be proven wrong using the church statement.

  • RRJET Bountiful, UT
    March 30, 2015 4:39 p.m.

    I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and learned about the Priesthood restrictions on blacks from the mouths of current and preceding Prophets and Apostles like Brigham Young, John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Bruce R. McConkie, Mark E. Peterson as well as official statements from the First Presidency. Many of their teachings were delivered from the podium of the Tabernacle during General Conference and testified that the doctrine came from the Lord and were not just the ideas of man. As a missionary in 1977, I taught this “doctrine” with surety knowing it came from the Prophets. Their words are all easily found.

    Along comes this essay in the Deseret News that says the many doctrines declared by these men were not only uninspired, but were untrue and racist and by inference that these men were also racist and preaching false doctrine. 

    “...the Lord will never permit his Prophet to lead this Church astray” - Ezra Taft Benson

    So either the teachings of the Prophets and Apostles are correct or the words spoken in the essay are true. They cannot both be correct.

    I wish I’d never read the essay.