Mandela Praised; Brigham Thrown under the Bus

by: Mormon Heretic

December 9, 2013

Nelson Mandela

Racial issues were prominent this past weekend.  Nelson Mandela passed away at the age of 95.  He was universally praised by both republicans and democrats.    Harry Reid tweeted

In a way, Mandela was both the “George Washington” and “Abraham Lincoln” of his country. We’re so fortunate to have lived in his time.

John Boehner tweeted,

Mandela led his country with a quiet moral authority that directed his own path from prisoner to president.

But Mandela wasn’t always so universally praised.  He helped found the African National Congress which worked with the South African Communist Party to overthrow the government of South Africa.  He was convicted of sabotage in 1962.  The Washington Post reports that,

the African National Committee, which Mandela chaired, was peppered with members of the South African Communist Party. Even worse in the eyes of the Reagan Administration was the ANC’s apparent friendliness toward Moscow: The ANC’s secretary general, Alfred Nzo, bore greetings to the Soviet communist party congress in 1986. That was enough to inspire Reagan to accuse the ANC of encouraging communism in a 1986 policy speech, and to rule that South Africa had no obligation to negotiate with a group bent on “creating a communist state.”

The Reagan administration wasn’t alone in this fear, either — Margaret Thatcher’s conservative regime in Britain shared Reagan’s “constructive engagement,” anti-sanctions views regarding South Africa.

Mandela was finally released from jail in 1990, and became the country’s first black president from 1994-1999.  Yet these bombings from the 1960s continued to put him on the terrorist watch list of the United States.  He wasn’t removed from that list until 2008.  Mandela’s ties to violence and communism certainly make his past quite checkered, despite the universal praise heaped upon his at his death.  His association with communism is a bit strange; as president, he acted with democratic, rather than communistic principles, hence the near universal adulation at his death.

But he’s not the only one with a checkered past to make racial news this weekend.  With little fanfare, the LDS Church published a new entry on their website:  Race and the Priesthood.  Many people have called for the church to come clean with the priesthood/temple ban, so that people like Randy Bott don’t continue to promote racist justifications for the ban.  Following Bott’s remarks published in the Washington Post on Feb 28, 2012, the Mormon Newsroom asserted that

“For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent.  It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago.”

While many were pleased that the church immediately issued a statement condemning Bott’s remarks, the church still wasn’t coming clean on the reasons for the ban.  On Friday, it should be celebrated that the church went along way toward’s clarifying the church’s history, and they laid the blame squarely at Brigham Young’s feet.

During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood. One of these men, Elijah Abel, also participated in temple ceremonies in Kirtland, Ohio, and was later baptized as proxy for deceased relatives in Nauvoo, Illinois. There is no evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though thereafter blacks continued to join the Church through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.

At last they’ve answered “when” the ban happened, as well as repudiated both the Curse of Cain and Pre-mortal explanations.

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.23

Why did the ban happen?  It seems that they blame it on U.S. culture.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was restored amidst a highly contentious racial culture in which whites were afforded great privilege. In 1790, the U.S. Congress limited citizenship to “free white person[s].”4 Over the next half century, issues of race divided the country—while slave labor was legal in the more agrarian South, it was eventually banned in the more urbanized North. Even so, racial discrimination was widespread in the North as well as the South, and many states implemented laws banning interracial marriage.5 In 1857, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that blacks possessed “no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”6 A generation after the Civil War (1861–65) led to the end of slavery in the United States, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites were constitutional, a decision that legalized a host of public color barriers until the Court reversed itself in 1954.7

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. At the same time, President Young said that at some future day, black Church members would “have [all] the privilege and more” enjoyed by other members.8

The justifications for this restriction echoed the widespread ideas about racial inferiority that had been used to argue for the legalization of black “servitude” in the Territory of Utah.9 According to one view, which had been promulgated in the United States from at least the 1730s, blacks descended from the same lineage as the biblical Cain, who slew his brother Abel.10 Those who accepted this view believed that God’s “curse” on Cain was the mark of a dark skin. Black servitude was sometimes viewed as a second curse placed upon Noah’s grandson Canaan as a result of Ham’s indiscretion toward his father.11 Although slavery was not a significant factor in Utah’s economy and was soon abolished, the restriction on priesthood ordinations remained.

It’s nice that they have finally explained ” why, how, or when this restriction began”, and have repudiated all forms of racism.  Maybe, like Nelson Mandela, these checkered parts of the past can be forgiven and the praise heaped upon Mandela can be heaped upon the church for finally coming clean with regards to this episode of the past.  Comments

Tags: , ,

61 Responses to Mandela Praised; Brigham Thrown under the Bus

  1. Nate on December 9, 2013 at 2:33 AM

    I’m really excited and amazed that the church decided to publish this article on blacks and the priesthood. I thought it was a brave uncompromising.

    It takes the blame for the Priesthood ban out of God’s hands and put it in the context of 19th century racial attitudes and issues with LDS slave owners in Utah in 1852. Brigham Young apparently said that it was temporary (although the footnote didn’t go to an acutal quote). I would like to read exactly where Brigham Young said it was temporary. If you read Brigham Young on blacks, it is obvious that he was a racist by modern standards, although he was normal by the standards of his day. The fact that the article focuses on Brigham Young saying it was temporary, leaves the window open for those who want to believe that Brigham Young was inspired, and simply protecting blacks from racial attitudes within the church that needed to change first. That will probably be one of the readings that comes from this article.

    But in any case, it is good news that racial inferiority theories and “in God’s time” theories are thrown out the window. The priesthood ban occurred, either because it was a mistake by Brigham Young (strongly inferred but not stated outright), OR was an inspired revelation to Brigham Young, because the church membership was racist and needed to change first (the preferable interpretation for those who are uncomfortable with prophetic fallibility.)

    In any case, our gospel doctrine classes are never going to be the same when this issue comes up!

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  2. Brad on December 9, 2013 at 9:15 AM

    The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray…except when he does.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 15

  3. Andrew on December 9, 2013 at 9:39 AM

    Young’s (and many others’) statements that blacks were the descendants of Cain, and thus were inferior and not eligible for Priesthood, etc. is in direct contradiction with the 2nd Article of Faith. That reason alone tells me that it was uninspired (not to mention the many other reasons one could give).

    I’m very happy to see the new entry about race and the priesthood on lds.org.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 6

  4. ji on December 9, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    Thankfully, Nelson Mandela was not executed for his crimes in South Africa so long ago, but only received a life sentence instead. This one fact of history allowed for the rest. I’m glad. The original poster wrote, “he acted with democratic, rather than communistic principles, hence the near universal adulation at his death.

    Can the “checkered parts of the past can be forgiven“? This is our Christian duty. Refusing to forgive, I once heard someone say, is like drinking poison and hoping that the poison will kill the other party. God is willing to forgive, and He invites us to do the same.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  5. Will on December 9, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    “It seems that they blame it on U.S. culture.’’

    And Africa and Australia and they said what I have been saying for years on this blog, which is: there were some racist comments by Church leaders in the past, but the main REASON it was withheld was the tension created by slavery the world over not only the US.

    The D&C 121 says ‘no power or influence CAN or ought to be maintained only by virtue of the Priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness and by love unfeigned”

    As I said, you cannot have people willing to KILL one another serving in the priesthood together. The church acted appropriately and waited for two Republicans to act: Abraham Lincoln to free the slaves and then 100 years later when the tensions eased enough to have Martin Luther king start the civil rights movement.

    Similar changes took place in Africa with apartheid about this same period of time. Likewise, in Australia you have the Australian Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders gaining more prominence in that country in the 1970’s leading to the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976 which eventually lead to them holding claim of title along with other significant rights.

    When you study what happened not only in the US around the civil rights movement, but other parts of the world leading to the 1978 revelation on the priesthood you realize it did not stem from political pressure or racism, but the hand of God preparing the way for all his sons to hold the priesthood.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  6. Andrew on December 9, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    Will – You are correct about the global issues regarding race leading up to 1978. However, you ignore many other arguments contrary to your position. Slavery in western Europe ended long before America (case in point, Spain ended it in the mid 1500s). The Pope banned enslavement on pain of excommunication even earlier than that. While a ban on slavery is certainly not the same thing as full racial equality, my point is that the winds of change in began in many places much earlier than many of us realize.

    Joseph Smith had no problem ordaining racial minorities to the priesthood and I can’t think of any instances where any white priesthood holders were so incensed at such an act that they killed anyone over it (to borrow from your hyperbole).

    In my view, the only reason the priesthood ban accompanied by all its racist justifications lasted so long is the same reason it even gained traction in the first place. Namely, the idea that the prophet can do no wrong when acting as a prophet.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 8

  7. Will on December 9, 2013 at 12:36 PM

    ” I can’t think of any instances where any white priesthood holders were so incensed at such an act that they killed anyone over it …”

    Um…it’s called the civil war

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  8. Andrew on December 9, 2013 at 12:53 PM

    Will – I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt that you didn’t read my comment very close. Try again.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  9. Will on December 9, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    Andrew,

    I know what I was saying. You have missed my point. I understand the priesthood was given to Blacks prior to the Civil War – not only by Joseph but by ancient prophets as well. It is you that have missed the point.

    The Civil war, which was fought in large part over the issue of slavery along with currency and other issues, created enormous tensions that people were willing to kill one another. I can’t say for sure that members were on both sides, but the law of averages would support this assertion. More importantly, to support a war means you would be willing to pull the trigger. When President Truman ordered the bombs be dropped on Japan it was as if he were sitting in the plane pulling the lever releasing the fury of ‘Fat Boy’. If you support what President Truman did, then you are likewise sitting in that plane.

    The Civil war fueled racial tension – tension that prevailed thorough the south that was recognized by civil and religious leaders. Other faiths opted for the separate but equal argument and segregated their churches and receive little critism as racists. The LDS church, on the other hand, opted to hold off until tensions were eased, which I am saying culminated about 1978 in various countries. 35 years after the revelation many church are STILL segregated; while the LDS church is more integrated. It appears the LDS church made the better of two bad choices.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  10. brjones on December 9, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Will, your mental gymnastics are amusing. 19th century church members willingly gave all their earthly possessions to the church, moved from state to state and eventually drove their children across the plains in the middle of winter and into almost certain death, all on the simple faith that god really had told their leaders that was what he wanted them to do, but they couldn’t be taught that blacks weren’t filthy, dirty, uncomely, deviant subhumans who had made bad choices in the pre-existence. THAT’S where mormons would draw the line. This would be laughable if it wasn’t so utterly pathetic. Anyone who wants to spend five minutes reading his quotes will recognize that brigham young’s position on race had nothing to do with protecting blacks, whom he obviously passionately hated. If that had been his intent, he could have used value neutral language, similar to that used by the church for the latter half of the 20th century, to explain the church’s “policy”. Brigham young was a virulent and hateful racist, who taught that god’s will was that any black who married a white should be murdered on the spot. Furthermore, the correspondence between the first presidency and Lowry Nelson in the 1940s states unequivocally that the church’s position toward blacks was one of doctrine, not policy. Not everything can be apologized away, Will. You’re flat wrong on this one.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 11

  11. The Other Clark on December 9, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    Andrew, read your history books. Everyone knows that the Civil War began because white priesthood holders opened fire on splinter group freed black slaved that had taken refuge in Fort Sumter, along with their apostate former master who had ordained them.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  12. Will on December 9, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Brjones,

    Your proving my point. There was too much hatred against the blacks to successfully integrate them into the fold. And yes, Brigham Young (as I have oft repeated and the church acknowledged) said and did some stupid things just like any other Prophet. Like Moses killing the Egyptian guard for instance; or Jacob taking sisters as wives and their SLAVES Bilhah and Zilpah as wives.

    Again, with that hatred amongst SOME of the early saints (most opposed slavery, which is one of the reasons they had so much trouble in Missouri) do you really think blacks could have been successfully integrated? As I have said, some of the members of the church were not alone in this general sentiment towards the blacks. Thus, the general segration that took place in the south.

    The point I am making, that you have missed, is that you could not have successfully integrated blacks into the church until and when it happened and YOUR comments denote the hatred that supports my point.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  13. brjones on December 9, 2013 at 4:15 PM

    I repeat, Will. Early Mormons believed in the prophetic mantle so strongly that they literally gave their teenage daughters to joseph smith to do with as he pleased, but you’re suggesting that they would have revolted if brigham young had told them that god wanted them to treat blacks equally. Either your theory is an apologist’s fantasy, or it speaks very poorly of the faith and character of the mormon people, the prophet and god himself. If you’re right, they all failed miserably.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 5

  14. Will on December 9, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    Brjones,

    I am simply saying it wasn’t the right time (in my observation, to fully integrate the blacks into the church until the late 1970’s. I think that was the right time.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  15. Roger on December 9, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    I really miss the “thumbs-down” option. I have had to delete some very clever snarky draft responses to Will, due to my faltering commitment toward being positive in my dealings with others.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  16. brjones on December 9, 2013 at 5:35 PM

    That is a completely valid point of view, Will. The problem I have is that by waiting, countless of god’s children were made to suffer and go without the fullness of the gospel for no reason other than that other of god’s children (his chosen people, no less) were too earthly, short-sighted, wicked, judgmental, ignorant or whatever other pejorative term you want to apply. These people didn’t suffer because of anything they’d done. They suffered because the saints, including the prophet himself, were too unrighteous and blind to create a situation in which the lord could allow them to be blessed. If I were a believing member of the church, I think I’d have a hard time believing there was just nothing god could do to rectify this situation other than wait until society caught up with the truth. I think what you’re suggesting is a serious historical problem for the church. For decades the church has been deflecting charges of racism by arguing that the policy of blacks and the priesthood was given by god for some unknown reason. Now they’re basically acknowledging that for the first century and a half of its existence, the mormon church was just a racist institution. I laud the honesty, but I don’t think it paints a very flattering picture.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  17. i0p on December 9, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Nice theory, will. Did you read it on the back of the Declaration of Independence?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  18. RMM on December 9, 2013 at 7:51 PM

    “Brigham young was a virulent and hateful racist”

    That is totally and woefully untrue. (As long as we’re speaking in superlatives.)

    He was much more complex than your simple derogatory statement. Look, for example, at his interactions with Green Flake. He told a half truth rather than return Green to slavery. Look at his interactions with Walkara. Read books like John Peterson’s Utah’s Black Hawk War to provide a more complex view than you’ll get from a short collection of quotes on an anti-Mormon site. (Which is where I’m assuming you’re forming your views.) The man was not anywhere near the blackhearted scoundrel you’re making him out to be.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  19. brjones on December 9, 2013 at 8:42 PM

    Thanks for your baseless assumptions, RMM. You know nothing about me or from what sources I garner my information. Although I think we can agree that I’m not getting it from any source affiliated with the church. I didn’t call anyone a blackhearted scoundrel. I called him a hateful and virulent racist, and I stand by that statement. Because he kept a black person from being returned to slavery he couldn’t have been a racist? By his own words he wasn’t opposed to the institution of slavery, only its abuse.

    “It is a great blessing to the seed of Adam to have the seed of Cain for servants, but those they serve should use them with all the heart and feeling, as they would use their own children, and their compassion should reach over them, and round about them, and treat them as kindly, and with that humane feeling necessary to be shown to mortall beings of the human species.”

    Am I supposed to be impressed that he believed that slaveholders should treat their slaves well?

    “And if any man mingles his seed with the seed of Cane the ownly way he Could get rid of it or have salvation would be to Come forward & have his head Cut off & spill his Blood upon the ground. It would also take the life of his Children.”

    “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.”

    “not one of the children of old Cain, have one partical of right to bear Rule in Government affairs from first to last, they have no buisness there. this privilege was taken from them by there own transgressions, and I cannot help it”

    “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.”

    We’re not talking about an obscure quote or two. No one made brigham young spew the type of racist vitriol he was so fond of. He formed his opinions of his own free will, and because he believed them to be true he was content to be judged by them. Your defense of him amounts to nothing more than the 19th century equivalent of “I’m not racist, I have lots of black friends.” He said what he said, and he was what he was.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 5

  20. RMM on December 9, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    “He said what he said, and he was what he was.”

    True. But pulling a few short quotes out of someone’s volumes and volumes of life writings means you’re reducing him to a caricature, a faint portrait of the real man.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  21. brjones on December 9, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    RMM, that is a fair point. Undoubtedly BY was a more complex and nuanced person in real life than any of his quotes could accurately summarize. However, when it comes to issues of race, I don’t think it’s unfair to take his feelings and positions, which he advocated passionately and repeatedly, at face value. These are positions he wanted to be known for. In my estimation, the fact that he may have acted contrary to those positions on occasion is not irrelevant, but it’s also not enough to overcome the voluminous writings and speeches to the contrary that were issued by the man. In addition, I don’t think his positions on race were just musings or theory. He put them into practice, and his actions that cut in favor of his racist and, in my opinion, hateful, leanings have to be taken into account. He formally instituted a policy that banned blacks from the blessings of the gospel, and preached doctrines that absolutely fomented racism and disdain for minorities within the church. These policies not only disenfranchised minorities in the church until they were reversed in 1978, but they laid the foundation for a century plus of institutional racism in the church the effects of which are still being felt by many minorities, and for which the church and its members are still being forced to answer. So while I agree with you that he was more than a few soundbites, I still think that when you account for all he said and all he did, he could accurately be described as a hateful bigot, at least as relates to issues of race.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  22. KT on December 9, 2013 at 10:32 PM

    @will……wishful thinking and rationalization. When taken upon the evidence available as a whole, it’s pretty clear it was intended to be taken as ‘inspiration’ by membership and that it in reality was not.
    The church’s statement, though artfully crafted, makes it clear that one just never knows what’s going to be revelation, policy, or the ‘imperfections’ of man.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  23. Geoff - A on December 9, 2013 at 11:46 PM

    Apart from the admission that God had no part in the racism that is our history – the part that struck me as most amazing/amusing is under “The Church Today”” The Church disavows the THEORIES advanced in the past that black skin is sign of divine disfavour or curse….”

    These theories include the proclamation of 1949 where the first presidency say denying Negroes the priesthood “is not a policy but a direct commandment of the Lord”. All the other THEORIES have been repeated in Conference talks by Apostles and prophets. What authority do Apostles and prophets conference talks now have?

    What about Elder Oaks THEORIES on gay marriage?

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 6

  24. Geoff - A on December 9, 2013 at 11:50 PM

    I meant to add that Mandella was a great man. If you have been to Robin Island where he was held for 27 years, and seen the conditions, and understand that at the end of that he did not want revenge but reconciliation.

    How many of those now singing his praises also sang “free Nelson Mandella” Hindsight is wonderful. Same with the racism in the Church.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  25. alice on December 10, 2013 at 7:00 AM

    I can never forget the appalling letter that Delbert Stapley sent to George Romney in 1964. In it he attempted to arm twist the then-governor into dropping his affiliation with the civil rights movement a decade after things like Brown v Board of Education, the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the desegregation of the high school in Little Rock, AR.

    If the church was “waiting” for Martin Luther King, Jr. to “start” the civil rights movement they had a very strange way of integrating it into their plans if the evidence of an Apostle at the time issuing thinly veiled death threats to Gov. Romney for his participation in furthering civil voting rights for Black Americans is considered.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 4

  26. Nate on December 10, 2013 at 8:54 AM

    Brjones, Brigham Young got his racial ideas directly from the Pearl of Great Price which clearly says the seed of Cain was cursed with blackness, and that they became a race of people, and that this curse was carried into Egypt to the Pharohs, through Ham, making them ineligible for the priesthood, according to Abraham, as translated by Joseph Smith.

    The Book of Mormon claims God curses the unrighteousness with dark skin, and makes them white again when they become righteous.

    In the Bible, Paul supports slavery and the Old Testament supports concubinage of captive slaves.

    Is it any wonder that Mormons like Brigham Young were racist when they had racist scriptures, both ancient and modern? What is more remarkable is that modern Mormons are NOT racist even though they claim to believe the Book of Mormon is “the most correct book.” As often as they read it, they have become very good at selectively ignoring much of it.

    This is not as simple a matter as blaming racist “theories.” We have racist scriptures, racist revelation. That is the real issue.

    Give Brigham Young a break. What was he supposed to make of those scriptures? What exactly happened to the seed of Cain, this race of blacks that made up ancient Egyptians? What happened to that curse that Abraham mentions, and their ineligibility for the priesthood? When did God remove this ancient curse, if not in 1979? Did Jesus remove it? Did Moses remove it? How was Brigham Young to have known in the absence of direction? Was he supposed to embrace “enlightened” abolitionist philosophies that also took him for a monster for having many wives?

    No, Brigham Young was the product of modern revelation given to Joseph Smith and that is what he staked his life on. He envied the corpse for having to enter into a polygamist marriage, yet he came to embrace the revelation, as difficult as it was. How are we to blame him for also embracing the Pearl of Great Price?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  27. Andrew on December 10, 2013 at 9:26 AM

    Nate – You bring up a number of very valid points concerning Brigham Young that need to be addressed, especially considering the scriptural issues you cited. However, there is still the issue of the vast difference in policy decisions between Young and Smith.

    Despite the statements in the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price, Smith still had radically abolitionist political views and had no problem ordaining black men to the priesthood. This leads me to believe that Young’s policies came more from his racist views rather than a use of scriptural precedent.

    I don’t know what Young was supposed to make of those racist scriptures at face value. However, in the context of the times, Smith set a precedent of racial equality that Young was certainly aware of.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  28. Nate on December 10, 2013 at 9:50 AM

    Andrew, it is true that Joseph Smith allowed Elijah Able to be ordained, but there is some question as to whether this was thought to have been a mistake. And Joseph was not an abolitionist. Rather he said:
    “After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject, I do not doubt but those who have been forward in raising their voice against the South, will cry out against me as being uncharitable, unfeeling and unkind-wholly unacquainted with the gospel of Christ.

    It is my privilege then, to name certain passages from the bible, and examine the teachings of the ancients upon this nature, as the fact is incontrovertible, that the first mention we have of slavery is found in the holy bible, pronounced by a man who was perfect in his generation and walked with God.

    And so far from that prediction’s being averse from the mind of God it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South, in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude!”

    Elsewhere he said:

    “the curse is not yet taken off the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least with the decrees and purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before him”

    Joseph became abolitionist much later in the Nauvoo period, but there is no indication that he believed the “curse” had been revoked.

    The ordination of Elijah Able is the only evidence we have. Yet because it was a “one-off” it is very probable that Brigham Young and others thought it had been a mistake or oversight, seeing that it contradicted Joseph’s revelations and statements on the curse of Cain.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  29. New Iconoclast on December 10, 2013 at 9:53 AM

    All through this hoopla surrounding the death of Nelson Mandela (I think I’ll change the subject here and not mention Brigham Young), I’ve had some mixed feelings. I’m old enough to remember when he was a symbol rotting in a South African prison, and I dodged a number of “Divest Now!” rallies, and voted against Student Government resolutions, during my undergraduate days at the University of Minnesota. Many of us who were Reagan fans in those days and understood something of the track record of Mandela and the ANC considered him a Marxist and a terrorist. Frankly, those descriptions were not entirely inaccurate.

    However, the Good Book says, “By their fruits shall ye know them.” Unlike a lot of Marxist/socialist politicians and revolutionaries, when Mandela achieved power, he failed to become a despot like Lumumba, Mugabe, Nyerere, or Amin, just to look at Africa, or Castro and his ilk elsewhere in the world. Instead, he strove to create a real multi-racial, multi-party democracy, served only one term as president to avoid the development of a personality/leadership cult, and started the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (under the leadership of Desmond Tutu) to investigate and reveal crimes not only of the apartheid government, but also of his own ANC and other black revolutionaries. It was an amazing feat; a situation which could have resulted in the mass killing of former white leaders and continuing reprisals instead became a true move to reconciliation.

    No, despite my early conditioning, I find myself honoring the memory of Nelson Mandela. I believe strongly in the principle of repentance, and he is certainly not the world’s only terrorist turned statesman (Moshe Dayan and David Ben-Gurion also come to mind). If only the winners of all the hard battles between peoples in the world could use the victory as well and nobly as Mandela did, the planet would be a more peaceful place.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  30. brjones on December 10, 2013 at 9:57 AM

    Nate, my mind boggles at this logic. was this man a prophet or wasn’t he? In all the thousands of revelations he received from god, could god not have taken five minutes to explain the incorrectness of those scriptures and the church’s position on race? This question goes for every other prophet the church has had, including Joseph Smith, who produced those racist scriptures. There are only three possible explanations as to the way things unfolded. Either a) Brigham young (and others) were not prophets, b) god is a racist, or c) for some unknown reason, god knowingly allowed his chosen leaders to institute and maintain incorrect racist policies and doctrines in his name. I’m curious as to which one of these choices is most palatable to church members.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  31. brjones on December 10, 2013 at 10:05 AM

    And no, I will not give Brigham young a break. No human being who decides to follow hateful doctrines can then hide from his or her behavior by arguing that it was god’s idea not theirs. He is accountable for his behavior, as are you and I. And if god is truly behind these doctrines, then he or she is a despicable racist and no one to be honored or followed. No one is forced to behave the way Brigham young behaved, prophet or otherwise. He had a choice and he chose to be a racist. I wonder if you would offer the same defense of southern slave owners whose actions were justified by scripture.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  32. Rick B on December 10, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    Nate,

    I recently submitted an article for consideration to Dialogue on the topic of the priesthood/temple ban, and some of your characterizations are not quite accurate. The first printing of the Book of Abraham occurred in 1842 in the Times and Seasons newspaper, where it appeared serially. It was never used as justification for banning blacks from the priesthood until the 1850s. Elijah Abel was not the only black man ordained before or after Joseph Smith was alive. In 1831, Black Pete was baptized in Kirtland, Ohio, and LDS historian Mark Staker has said that Black Pete likely performed baptisms in 1832. Joseph Ball was also baptized in 1832, and served a mission with Wilford Woodruff in 1837; Ball was later made a high priest and branch president in Lowell, Massachusetts just months after Joseph’s death in October 1844. The ordination as high priest was made by William Smith (Joseph’s brother.) William also acknowledged that Ball was of the tribe of Canaan when he gave Ball his patriarchal blessing in 1844. Curse of Cain was not even on the radar in Joseph Smith’s life. It became a justification later. The Book of Abraham was never used as justification to deny blacks the priesthood until after Joseph’s death. Black man William McCary was ordained to the priesthood in 1846, some 2 years after Joseph Smith died. In 1847, He married a white woman and the wedding was performed by apostle Orson Hyde. (McCary claimed to be Indian, but that was untrue. Contemporaries believed McCary was both black and Lamanite.) Hyde also performed the wedding to McCary’s white wife Lucy. She was daughter of Nauvoo Stake President Daniel Stanton. Prior to 1847, there was no real concern about blacks being cursed from Cain or Ham, and Joseph Smith had been dead 2 years. There was no pre-mortal explanation in existence at this time either.

    Why did the ban really happen? A series of interracial marriages seems to have cause great concern among church leaders. In 1847, William Appleby came upon the mixed race child of black church member (and priesthood holder) Enoch Lewis and his white wife Mary Webster in Massachusetts, where interracial marriage had just been made legal in 1843. Appleby wrote Brigham Young asking about the propriety of such marriages. Additionally, Warner McCary began to seduce white women into interracial polygamy in 1847 near Nauvoo. Branch President Joseph Ball in Massachusetts had been introduced to polygamy by William Smith, and there were rumors that he had also tried to seduce white women in polygamy. (William was soon excommunicated in 1848 by Young.) The combination of these events led church leaders to come up with a way to restrict blacks from marrying whites. Brigham Young actually rejected pre-mortal explanations of blacks being less valiant (proposed by Orson Hyde), in favor of a curse of Cain doctrine. These doctrines were developed in response to these interracial marriages. Joseph Smith never taught them.

    As for the notion that the LDS church couldn’t have survived without a ban, well, I find that notion without basis. The RLDS Church never had a ban, and survived. The Strangite Church welcomed Joseph Ball into its church (as well as William Smith). The Strangite Church is still in existence, and never had a ban. The Bickertonite Church (who claims Sidney Rigdon as its 2nd prophet) never had a ban, and is still in existence. It is sheer folly to claim that the church wouldn’t have survived, and is unsupported by the evidence of other Mormon groups who have survived.

    I applaud the Church’s candor in putting forth this announcement. It is long overdue.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  33. Will on December 10, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    A few comments to all this Brigham bashing;

    1) he who is without sin…2) Brigham Young was the perfect candidate for the time. The Lord needed an ass kicker to get the saints across the plains and tame the west. Brigham settled over 300 cities, started universities, banks and various businesses. 3) You are elevating church leaders to something they are not. Only Christ was perfect, the rest of us do the best we can.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  34. Nate on December 10, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Rick B, thank you for rounding out the holes in my historical knowledge. It seems Joseph Smith was more progressive for his time than I originally thought. Yet, how do you explain that Joseph Smith did in fact say: “the curse is not yet taken off the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great power as caused it to come”?

    Brigham Young may have been acting upon cultural racial attitudes, but he was also aided by the revelations and statements of Joseph Smith, like this one. The Pearl of Great Price makes it clear that in ancient times, there was a priesthood ban. How can Brigham Young be blamed for creating a ban that existed in the primitive church, if this is indeed “the same organization that existed in the primitive church?” It may not have explicitly been used as justification until after the ban became official, but certainly Brigham Young would have read the Pearl of Great Price, and understood it’s implications decades earlier.

    Brjones, I agree with Will that Brigham Young was a great candidate for the time. In fact, he is my favorite prophet, and I’m saying that as a very liberal Mormon. I believe I personally have gained more actual spiritual nourishment from my tattered copy of Discourses of Brigham Young than I believe I have from the Book of Mormon. He was a brilliant, spiritual, insightful, and wise person, of which we have not had the like before or since.

    I believe in a God who allows His church and His leaders to stumble. But I also believe He Himself is a great stumblingblock, who sometimes says things that are extremely trying. I believe God condoned slavery, not as an ideal, but within cultures that practiced it, He allowed it, and even used it as a teaching method, “he who compels you to go with him a mile, go with him twain, then he is no longer your master, but your Father who is in Heaven.” “Ye are slaves to Christ” as Paul said.

    God doesn’t care too much if one is a slave or free, as long as that person has a heart for God. That transcendent ideal completely overshadows all the various temporal circumstances we may find ourselves in. Yes, God could have taken “5 minutes of His time” to straighten out Brigham Young. But He didn’t. That makes God responsible in some measure. He lets us stumble, and He lets us clean up the mess.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  35. Brian on December 10, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    I don’t think the issue is so much the leaders themselves, as it is the condition of the church when it has a policy that demeans humans for over a century. To non-members, the explanation makes it even more obvious that the church is just another church led by men. To believing members, there is no obstacle too high or wide that can’t be overcome by the closing of the mind.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  36. Will on December 10, 2013 at 2:22 PM

    What is really pathetic is society is more offended by someone saying a racial slur In jest than they are taking the name of The Lord in vain. And what is even more pathetic is celebrating Mandela’s legacy; and condemning Brigham Young on this blog.

    Seriously, Brigham actually accomplished something notable and created a true foundation for the future settling most of the Western United States. Meanwhile, South Africa has 27 percent unemployment with 40% of blacks making less than 2 dollars a DAY. I heard this on CNN as I left the airport this morning and thought “what in the hell are these people celebrating, if Mandela was the savior of the blacks he sure did a crappy job”

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  37. MH on December 10, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Nate,

    Alma Allred put together an awesome essay I wrote about in which he debunked many scriptural claims about the priesthood ban. Concerning your assertion, “the Pearl of Great Price makes it clear that in ancient times, there was a priesthood ban.” Allred writes

    Years after the right of the priesthood had been passed to Abraham, the Pharaohs were feigning claim to it from Noah. They did not merely claim priesthood; they claimed the right to preside over the priesthood. Pharaoh, the son of Egyptus, established a patriarchal government in Egpyt; but he was of the lineage by which he could not have the “right of the priesthood” or “the right of the firstborn,” which belonged to Shem and his posterity. In response to Pharaoh’s claims, Abraham states, “But the records of the fathers, even the patriarchs, concerning the right of the priesthood, the Lord my God preserved in mine own hands: (Abr. 1:31; italics mine). In other words, Abraham retained the right to preside over the priesthood.

    Clearly many, (including Young) have misinterpreted scripture. Allred writes

    I don’t believe that LDS scripture allows for a restriction against blacks’ holding the priesthood. Nor do I think that LDS theology can reasonably maintain that today’s blacks are descendants of Cain or that ancient intermarriage with Canaanites perpetuated any racial curse. Too many scriptures collide with those ideas for them to be valid.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  38. brjones on December 10, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Real people’s feelings are more important than god’s, so it makes sense that society cares more about racial epithets than an archaic commandment requiring that we pay fealty to some absentee landlord.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  39. Rolling Eyes on December 10, 2013 at 2:53 PM

    I’ve seen Will celebrating the socialist/communist Brigham Young (Young hated Capitalism and thought it was an enemy to the Law of Consecration), as well as the communist Martin Luther King Jr (according to Ezra Taft Benson). Will is also praising the radical, progressive, republican Abraham Lincoln, who is the author of the largest expansion federal power in U.S. history, stopped states rights, and coercively forced the south to surrender. Lincoln is the same man who (like George W. Bush) trampled on Will’s treasured constitution. (Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, and jailed many without trial.) If the racist Will is such a fan of conservatism, he would have been a conservative, racist southern Democrat strongly opposed to abolition.

    And now Will blames Mandela who voluntarily left office after 5 years left office to show his nation how democracy is supposed to work. Apparently, the century of white apartheid leaders had nothing to do with black unemployment in South Africa, and Mandela in 5 years was supposed to fix everything. Now I’ve seen everything. Will’s ridiculousness knows no bounds. Why does anyone take Will and his dumbass comments seriously?

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 8

  40. Brian on December 10, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    “Why does anyone take Will and his dumbass comments seriously”

    Punching bag.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  41. Nate on December 10, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    I don’t think our discussions would be nearly as animated without Will. I think blogs are a good place to let off steam and be as outraged as you want to be, as you need to be. Everyone needs an outlet. I would be sad to see him go away if he thought he was not welcome.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  42. Roger on December 10, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    Maybe you should think about how many of us have opted for “less-active” status, because we got tired of swallowing bile while listening to Will and his clones spout off every Sunday.

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 8

  43. Will on December 10, 2013 at 4:20 PM

    Nate,

    Me offended with most of this crowd? Yea right. You just have to consider the source. Keep in mind, liberalism is a mental disorder. It really is..

    brjones @ 38

    WTH? Stay away from weed..

    Rolling eyes

    LOL…

    If my comments were as pointless as you claim, it wouldn’t prompt you to respond.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  44. Will on December 10, 2013 at 4:47 PM

    @42

    Mission accomplished.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  45. Roger on December 10, 2013 at 4:59 PM

    Memo to Dieter,
    See @44.
    Best of Luck . . . . . .

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  46. Will on December 10, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    @ 45
    do unto others brother…

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  47. log on December 11, 2013 at 12:53 AM

    The interesting thing is there is evidence that ties the origins of the ban to Joseph Smith, just as there is evidence which ties the origins of polygamy to Joseph Smith. Like polygamy, however, it seems Brother Brigham may have gone a bit overboard.

    (following a citation to Abraham 1:22-27) This revelation was first published in March 1842. The following year Elijah Able was restricted in his missionary work to other African descendants. Shortly after Joseph’s death, Elder Able was told to refrain from any priestly service.

    Two sources claim Joseph Smith had Elijah Able quit using priesthood. One was Zebedee Coltrin, who had ironically ordained Elijah a Seventy. The other was Abraham Smoot, who recalled asking Joseph about the matter. Abraham Smoot reported that he asked: “What should be done with the Negroes in the South as I was preaching to them? [The Prophet] said I could baptize them by consent of their masters, but not to confer the priesthood upon them.”[285]

    [285] Bush, Lester E., Jr. Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview. Dialogue 8: Spring 1973, p. 60. – PTHG, p. 221

    Some of the interesting stuff, culled from that article.

    It is significant, I believe, that in spite of the many discussions of blacks and slavery that had been published by 1836, no reference had been made to the priesthood. Yet, while there was not a written policy on blacks and the priesthood, a precedent had been established. Shortly before publication of the articles on abolitionism, a Negro was ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood. It has been suggested, considerably after the fact, that this was a mistake which was quickly rectified. Such a claim is totally unfounded and was actually refuted by Joseph F. Smith shortly after being put forth.29 Elijah Abel was ordained an elder 3 March, 1836, and shortly thereafter received his patriarchal blessing from Joseph Smith, Sr.30 In June he was listed among the recently licensed elders31 and on 20 December, 1836, was ordained a seventy.32 Three years later, in June 1839, he was still active in the Nauvoo Seventies Quorum,33 and his seventy’s certificate was renewed in 1841, and again after his arrival in Salt Lake City.34 Moreover, Abel was known by Joseph Smith and reportedly lived for a time in the Prophet’s home.35

    The charge that Abel was dropped from the priesthood originated with Zebedee Coltrin. It is unfortunate that his memory proved unreliable on this point, as he should have been in a position to provide valuable information—for it was he who ordained Abel to the office of seventy two years after purportedly being told that Negroes were not to receive the priesthood.36 The circumstances of Coltrin’s account may be of some relevance. He claimed to have questioned the right of Negroes to hold the priesthood after a visit to the South. Abraham Smoot, the only other person to claim first-hand counsel from Joseph Smith on this subject also had asked about the situation in the South: “What should be done with the Negroes in the South as I was preaching to them? [The Prophet] said I could baptize them by the consent of their masters, but not to confer the priesthood upon them.” Additionally, a second-hand account related by Smoot in which Smith allegedly gave the same advice was also directed at Negroes “in the Southern States.”37 Most, if not all, of the Negroes involved in these accounts were slaves. It may be, notwithstanding the lack of contemporary documentation, that a policy was in effect denying the priesthood to slaves or isolated free southern Negroes. In any case, a de facto restriction is demonstrable in the South, and empirical justification for the policy is not difficult to imagine.

    So it seems that some kind of policy of priesthood restriction was in place at Joseph’s instruction, regardless of Abel.

    By virtue of his role as first prophet of the Restoration, Joseph Smith has always been especially revered, and it is a rare Church doctrine that has not been traced, however tenuously, to the Prophet to demonstrate his endorsement. It was therefore no mere curiosity when just two years after Brigham Young’s death, a story was circulated that Joseph Smith had taught that blacks could receive the priesthood. As these instructions were allegedly given to Zebedee Coltrin, John Taylor went for a firsthand account.

    When presented with the story Coltrin replied that on the contrary Joseph Smith had told him in 1834 that “the Spirit of the Lord saith the Negro had no right nor cannot hold the Priesthood.” Though Coltrin acknowledged washing and anointing a Negro, Elijah Abel, in a ceremony in the Kirtland Temple after receiving these instructions, he stated that in so doing he “never had such unpleasant feelings in my life-and I said I never would again Annoint another person who had Negro blood in him. [sic] unless I was commanded by the Prophet to do so.” Coltrin did not mention ordaining Abel a seventy (at the direction of Joseph Smith?), but he did state that he was a president of the seventies when the Prophet directed that Abel be dropped because of his “lineage.” Abraham Smoot, at whose home the 1879 interview took place, added that he had received similar instructions in 1838.113

    President Taylor reported the account to the Quorum the following week, and Joseph F. Smith disagreed. Abel had not been dropped from the seventies, for Smith had seen his certifications as a seventy issued in 1841 and again in Salt Lake City. Furthermore, Abel had denied that Coltrin “washed and annointed” him but rather stated that Coltrin was the man who originally ordained him a seventy. Moreover, “Brother Abel also states that the Prophet Joseph told him he was entitled to the [p.77] priesthood.” Abel’s patriarchal blessing was read, verifying among other things that he was an elder in 1836.114

    The truth is a bit more complicated than either side seems to wish to believe.

    Incidentally, this episode ought to sink, on empirical grounds, the false doctrine that the President of the Church, neither the Brethren in toto, cannot lead the Church astray.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  48. Rick B on December 11, 2013 at 9:08 AM

    log, I don’t know if you saw my comment earlier. My paper specifically addresses the “Esplin Thesis” (Esplin says the ban originated with Joseph in 1843), and Bush’s position (Bush says 1847.) Clearly, with McCary being granted the priesthood in 1846, that serves as a death knell to Esplin’s position. (Apostle Orson Hyde performed the ordination.) I also highlight other black priesthood holders before and after Joseph’s death, and every other known statement in the decade. Coltrin and Taylor’s position are demonstrably false. The official church position that the ban originated with Brigham Young is absolutely correct.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  49. log on December 11, 2013 at 3:19 PM

    Rick,

    I’m sorry – can you please point out which statement I made that you feel you are addressing? I’m not sure which of my very few statements are at issue.

    Thanks.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  50. Rick B on December 11, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    log, you said, “The interesting thing is there is evidence that ties the origins of the ban to Joseph Smith,” and “The interesting thing is there is evidence that ties the origins of the ban to Joseph Smith,”

    The official church statement contradicts your statements: “There is no evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.

    In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood”

    There is no tie to Joseph Smith and the ban.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  51. log on December 11, 2013 at 3:54 PM

    Coltrin and Smoot showed that there was some kind of priesthood restriction in place from Joseph Smith, therefore there is evidence that ties the origins of the ban to Joseph Smith.

    My statement is true, the Church’s statement notwithstanding.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  52. Roger on December 11, 2013 at 6:46 PM

    An observation: I don’t really consider Brigham Young to have been thrown under the bus. (Granted, titles and headlines are meant to provoke interest, not to convey nuance.) I would aver that it is more accurate to say he was cut down to size–along with his successors. Not to anything smaller than mortal men with the attendant failings; after all, it was Young’s long-serving counselor, Heber C. Kimball, who told us that we couldn’t make it on borrowed light. This could be quite a challenge.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  53. Rick B on December 11, 2013 at 9:07 PM

    log, Lester Bush discredited Coltrin’s bad memory, as did Joseph F Smith. While I enjoyed PTHG, Snuffer’s description of the priesthood ban leaves out an incredible number of events, and I found his descriptions lacking with regards to the black ban. I’m certain that Smoot and Coltrin’s recollections came decades after the fact, and are quite suspect.

    You should really read Ronald K. Esplin, “Brigham Young and Priesthood Denial to the Blacks: An Alternate View,” BYU Studies 19:394-402. Then read Bush’s rebuttal from 1984. Bush wrote “Whence the Negro Doctrine? A Review of Ten Years of Answers” found in Neither Black Nor White, edited by Newell Bringhurst. In 1998, Bush wrote, “Writing ‘Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview’ (1973): Context and Reflections, 1998,” Journal of Mormon History 25(1):229-271 (Spring 1999). It is available at http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/mormonhistory/vol25/iss1/

    To summarize the issue briefly,

    Bush and Esplin agreed that Parley P. Pratt had made a statement on April 25, 1847, declaring that William McCary had “the blood of Ham in him which line[a]ge was cursed as regard [to] the priesthood.” However, Esplin felt that Pratt must have made the statement due to something declared by Joseph Smith. Esplin reasoned,

    Unless Brigham Young taught the principle to Parley P. Pratt between 8 and 14 April 1847 the origin for the teaching is pushed back to at least mid-1846 before Elder Pratt left for England. Given the exigencies of 1846 that strongly suggests a Nauvoo origin a possibility historians have failed to embrace. I feel that two related misconceptions help explain why that alternative has not been pursued more vigorously. The first has to do with the nature of Brigham Young’s leadership, the second with Joseph Smith’s teachings.

    Esplin states that not all of Joseph’s words were recorded and speculates that perhaps there were “secret temple teachings” not documented that resulted in the ban. He believes the ban originated with Joseph Smith in Nauvoo in 1843, shortly before the founding prophet’s death. Bush noted a lack of contemporary evidence to back up Esplin’s claim. Bush states,

    In particular Esplin has focused attention on the new temple rituals, introduced and expanded in Nauvoo in the 1840s. While there may well be merit in linking black policies with temple development, it is still difficult to believe—given the apparent chronology of the actual practice—that a concrete policy of priesthood denial to blacks dated much before spring 1847.

    In light of the ordinations of Joseph Ball in 1845 (performed by apostle William Smith), and William McCary (performed by apostle Orson Hyde in 1846), it appears that Coltrin and Smoot’s memories are just plain bad. As late as 1847, Brigham Young himself

    told McCary about the faithful black Elder, Q. Walker Lewis, back in Lowell, Massachusetts: “Its nothing to do with the blood for [from] one blood has God made all flesh, we have to repent [to] regain what we [h]av[e] lost – we [h]av[e] one of the best Elders an African in Lowell.”

    You are welcome to believe as you wish, but you’ve got a lot of explaining to do with regards to these 3 black men and their ordinations, as well as Brigham Young’s own statements from 1847. I strongly side with Bush and the Church on this point. Esplin (Coltrin, and Smoot) is wrong, and the evidence is pretty clear, IMO.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  54. Brian on December 11, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    I have really enjoyed this discussion. Thanks to everyone for sharing their knowledge of the subject.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  55. log on December 11, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    I will simply note that you have read more into my statements than are there, Rick. And you have imputed to me a reliance upon PTHG which I honestly find baffling. I rather thought it was apparent that I was relying instead upon Lester Bush.

    Corbin and Smoot’s testimony is evidence “that some kind of policy of priesthood restriction was in place at Joseph’s instruction, regardless of Abel.” And also regardless of other blacks who were ordained. Such a policy of priesthood restriction – whatever it encompassed (southern blacks, slaves, former southern slaves, whatever) – was the origins (or roots) of the ban.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  56. Rick B on December 11, 2013 at 10:29 PM

    “Such a policy of priesthood restriction – whatever it encompassed (southern blacks, slaves, former southern slaves, whatever) – was the origins (or roots) of the ban.”

    I guess I don’t understand what you are referring to with this statement. Can you clarify “whatever it encompassed”?

    Joseph died in June 1844. Are you surprised of ordinations that occurred in 1845 and 1846? How do you explain these ordinations in light of this ban you attribute to Joseph?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  57. log on December 11, 2013 at 10:59 PM

    I am neither surprised, nor do I feel I have a need to explain them. My statement is quite limited in scope.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  58. log on December 11, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    And I cannot clarify “whatever it encompassed” any further than the sources I cited, which sources attributed the incompletely specified priesthood restriction to Joseph. I simply summarized their claim, which is why I find it baffling that you attribute the claim to me.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  59. Mormon Heretic on December 12, 2013 at 7:39 PM

    This might be slightly off topic, but it deals with racism. HUGS = Helping Us Grow Spiritually. see

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynYwTU7z6BI

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  60. […] related commentary, some reminisced about racism or read about it, and some noticed the convenient timing of the […]

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  61. Tarefic-Wheaties Nominations 2 | Wheat and Tares on December 23, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    […] Mormon Heretic, Wheat & Tares:  ”Mandela Praised; Brigham Thrown Under the Bus“ […]

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe without commenting

Archives

%d bloggers like this: