Using Scriptures to Debunk the Priesthood Ban

By: Mormon Heretic
June 6, 2011

Canaanites weren't black and they certainly weren't African


Alma Allred wrote a chapter in the book titled Black and Mormon.  On page 37, he states:

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.

I found this perspective intriguing and  had to learn more.

LDS people have often believed that marriage to Canaanites (who were believed to be black) excluded one from the priesthood.  Yet Allred notes that intermarriage between blacks and white occurred routinely over centuries.  He notes intermarriage occurred in diverse cultures including Egypt, Portugal and the Greco-Roman world.  He notes a problem with LDS interpretations of scriptures.  From page 40,

Secondly, even though the terms Canaanite and Negro have been used interchangeably in the LDS Church, Canaanites weren’t black and they certainly weren’t African.  Biblically, Canaanites descended from Canaan, the fourth son of Ham.  African blacks are generally believed to be descendants of Cush, the first son of Ham.  This is important because the Canaanites were those who have been referred to as the “cursed” lineage while practically nothing is said about Ham’s other children.  It was Canaan who was cursed by Noah–not specifically Ham and not Ham’s other children.  According to Genesis, Noah cursed Canaan after Ham saw his father naked and drunk and ridiculed his father to his other brothers (Gen. 9:21-25).  Before this time, Ham had been righteous: “And Noah and his sons hearkened unto the Lord, and gave heed and they were called the sons of God.”  (Moses 8:13).  This scripture appears in the Pearl of Great Price, which also contains this statement:  ”And thus Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord; for Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generation; and he walked with God, as did also his three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Moses 8:27; italics mine).

These verses are particularly important because Mormon folklore contains the common belief that Ham wrongly married a descendant of Cain, bringing a curse upon himself and his descendants.  If such a commandment forbidding marriage into Cain’s lineage existed, how could Ham have contracted such a marriage and still have been considered righteous enough to get passage on the ark?   The answer has always been that Cain’s genes needed to be preserved; but this argument does not address the fact that Ham was righteous and “walked with God” after his marriage–a circumstance that, according to tradition, was impossible.

Although Canaan was not born until after the flood, there is a land of Canaan referred to in Moses 7:7 before the flood.  There is also a land of Cainan.  It is likely that both are variant spellings of the same word and refer to the same land.  This is because the Book of Moses was dictated by Joseph Smith and the two terms are homophones.  The decision to spell the antediluvian land “Canain” was entirely editorial.  Enoch came from the land of Cainan and called it “a land of righteousness unto this day” (Moses 6:42).  In Moses 7:4-8, Enoch sees a vision of the world “for the space of many generations.”  He describes how the people of Canaan (Cainan?) destroy the people of Shum.  After this, we are told the land is cursed with heat and that a blackness comes upon all the children of Canaan–it was not inherited from Cain.15

Allred continues further with this reasoning, and notes that on page 42,

Why curse Canaan for his father’s actions?….LDS theology affirms that children who repent are not punished for their ancestor’s faults.

He then quotes the 2nd article of faith, and notes some contradictions.  There are some spurious sources that claimed that Joseph Smith said that Cain could not hold the priesthood because he killed Abel.  However, if murder is the disqualifier, then all murderers should be disqualified.

If priesthood was withheld from Africans because their ancestor [Cain] was a murderer, why were King David’s descendants allowed the priesthood, for he too was a murderer?  Why are not white sons of murderers kept from the priesthood?

The Book of Abraham states that a descendant of Canaan discovered the land of Egypt and that all the Egyptians are descended from Canaan:

Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of Canaanites by birth.

From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.  (Abraham 1:21-22)

The problem that is immediately apparent is the fact that Abraham and Joseph each married an Egyptian woman.  One response offered to counter that damaging evidence has been that the Egyptians at the time of these marriages were Semitic Hyksos who had conquered Egypt and so were not really Canaanites.  This explanation contradicts Abraham 1:21-22.  It also contradicts history.  The Hyksos held power in Egypt for a maximum of only one hundred fifty years.  If they were Egyptians during Abraham’s lifetime, it is not possible for them to still have been in power in Joseph’s day.18

On page 43, Allred notes that Hugh Nibley said that Asenath

“was the daughter of the high priest of Heliopolis and hence of the pure line of Ham; she was also the wife of Joseph and the mother of our own vaunted ancestor Ephraim.”20 Ephraim, son of a Canaanite mother, acquired the birthright by blessing from his grandfather Jacob.  According to LDS theology, the impact of this blessing cannot be underestimated.  The birthright was the right to preside in the priesthood, as will be explained later.

Allred continues to note other discrepancies about Canaanites in the Bible, and notes that Canaanites sometimes married Israelites–the Canaanite harlot Rahab was saved in Jericho, and is an ancestor of Jesus.  (Matt 1:5)  Allred notes that Edomites (Canaanites) were allowed in the the congregation of Israel (Deut. 23:7-8)  Moses also married an Ethiopian woman.  From the Bible, Allred concludes on page 45,

Little doubt remains that intermarriage between Canaanites and Israelites destroyed any chance for a pure, non-Canaanite race among the chosen seed.  One third of the house of Judah is Canaanite with an unknown portion among the other tribes.  What then can we make of the curse pronounced by Noah and of Abraham’s comments about Pharaoh’s lineage could not have the ‘right of the priesthood’? (Abr. 1:27).  It may be that Mormons have simply misunderstood those passages of scripture.

Regarding Abraham 1:27, Allred says it was Abraham that had the right to preside over the priesthood, rather than Pharaoh.  He notes that Joseph and his son Ephraim had the right to preside even though they weren’t of the Tribe of Levi.  From page 45,

even though the priesthood did not remain exclusively with Ephraim, the right to preside did.  Moses presided over Israel even though he was of the tribe of Levi.  Joseph Smith, however, claimed to be the “lawful heir” because he was of the tribe of Ephraim (D&C 86:8-11).  Since this authority was passed from father to only one son, when Noah gave it to Shem, Ham could not be the heir.  Ham and Japheth, together with their descendants, did not have the right to administer the priesthood because it was given to Shem.  Esau lost the right to Jacob.  Reuben lost the right to Joseph.  Manasseh lost that right when Jacob conferred it to Ephraim.  Each man who lost the birthright did not lose the right to be ordained to the priesthood; [page 46] rather, he lost the right to preside as the presiding high priest in a patriarchal order.  The scripture does not saw that Pharaoh could not hold the priesthood; it says that he could not have the “right to the priesthood” (Abr. 1:27)  This right had been given to Shem, who in turn gave it to his successor in the patriarchal office.

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.

So what do you think of Allred’s arguments?  Is there any scriptural basis in support of the priesthood ban?

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

62 Responses to Using Scriptures to Debunk the Priesthood Ban

  1. hawkgrrrl on June 6, 2011 at 3:16 AM

    I always held that the PH ban was due to BY’s prejudices which were a holdover of his Protestant roots prior to his conversion. The Ham doctrine is straight out of the Protestant teachings of the time; it did not originate with Mormonism, and BY was the first of our church presidents to quote from it.

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

  2. Ender2k on June 6, 2011 at 6:50 AM

    “Is there any scriptural basis in support of the priesthood ban?”

    No.

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

  3. SilverRain on June 6, 2011 at 7:13 AM

    There is scriptural basis for anything you want to be supported by the scriptures. That’s what “wresting the scriptures” is: forcibly pulling an argument from the text to support your own opinions.

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

  4. Jeff Spector on June 6, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    I agree with SilverRain. It appears that the so-called priesthood ban was a product of the times and not based on any scripture or revelation other than a concocted, proof-texted, head-twisted reading.

    I am sorry the Church did not show a more progressive approach to this issue. I guess after polygamy, the progressive approach to radically changing the American culture, was how do I say, a bit curtailed. :)

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

  5. Jettboy on June 6, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    Yes there is and by the same Scriptures quoted above. Its called “The right of the Priesthood,” that Abraham held, or the modern LDS term “Prophet.” Even if Brigham Young’s reasoning was wrong, the Lord upheld the ban on the Priesthood for blacks up until Pres. Kimball. The Lord could have just as easily given a revelation on the subject earlier. I am not saying we know why, but that doesn’t take away that it was sustained.

    Even if you subscribe to the theory that the Lord allowed the LDS Church leadership to “harm” the church by giving in to prophet’s “racist” attitudes, that still doesn’t explain why it wasn’t lifted by at least Pres. McKay. He seemed as determined to lift the ban as Pres. Kimball. Documentation shows that he prayed on the subject and got a “not now” answer. That very answer, by the way, seems to indicate that the Lord approved of the ban for whatever reason. Maybe he didn’t pursue it hard enough while Kimball did? I also don’t think it was because there wouldn’t be enough agreement of the Q12 to accepting the revelation. There were just as powerful men in the administration of Kimball who would both support and oppose the move.

    I guess my point is that, although this is an interesting exercise and very convincing, it doesn’t explain why it was adopted for so long. Full disclosure is that I don’t think the Scriptures support the ban directly, but I do think that LDS Church understanding of prophetic authority does. We might not know why, but we do know it was for along time without correction from authorized channels. Finally, when it was lifted by accepted revelation even by the ban’s critics, it was a change without reprimand.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 7

  6. joeson on June 6, 2011 at 9:05 AM

    Jettboy,

    Nice thoughts, but unfortunately, or should I say fortunately they are incorrect. In the first lecture in the Blacks in the Scriptures DVD series, it shows several Blacks who held priesthood in the Old Testament. The series also shows at least 12 times where the Lord commanded Joseph to give all men the priesthood See one of them at D&C 36:4-5). Thus Blacks were holding he priesthood until Brigham Young stopped it after getting to Utah. That’s when they began searching for reasons such as the one’s you’re quoting.

    We are quick to assign man’s slow growth and the process of growth to God upholding their sin. See D&C 1:24-28 where the Lord says that He knows they prophets are going to make errors, sin, not seek Him at times in the process of trying to build His kingdom. Paths are great to find when you’re on a hike. But how hard was it for those who had to carve it from scratch?

    You really need to see the Blacks in the Scriptures to understand this issues. This article was a good start.

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

  7. Dan on June 6, 2011 at 9:08 AM

    Jettboy,

    Even if Brigham Young’s reasoning was wrong, the Lord upheld the ban on the Priesthood for blacks up until Pres. Kimball.

    Can you show where The Lord upheld the ban?

    Even if you subscribe to the theory that the Lord allowed the LDS Church leadership to “harm” the church by giving in to prophet’s “racist” attitudes, that still doesn’t explain why it wasn’t lifted by at least Pres. McKay.

    yes, it does. Racism was a strong aspect of Mormonism for a while, thanks to Brigham Young.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  8. Dan on June 6, 2011 at 9:09 AM

    Shorter Jettboy: When prophets err, blame God.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 4

  9. Jettboy on June 6, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    joesen, I didn’t mention Joseph Smith. I mentioned Brigham Young. He was the prophet that the ban started with, and it wasn’t “corrected” until Kimball.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  10. hawkgrrrl on June 6, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    To me, the heart of this issue is that there is such an unwillingness for public dissent or to admit mistakes when doing so implicates others. That means those with the most strident voices are always heard and very difficult to undo. Only time, memory and enough people not saying a thing ever seem to leech it out of the culture, decade by decade. But rest assured, another strident voice will always come along and make some other statement that will not be easy to put to bed. We all know who the strident voices are. As E. Scott pointed out, at times it’s hard to hear the still small voice when one is listening to strong emotion.

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

  11. Jettboy on June 6, 2011 at 9:22 AM

    “When prophets err, blame God.” Well, why not? Does the divine have authority or not? If He disapproves of something then why remain so silent and for so long, even when the opportunity arises to change or chastise?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  12. Dan on June 6, 2011 at 9:29 AM

    wow Jettboy, I would be cautious about how much to blame God for Brigham Young being a racist idiot.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 2

  13. Jettboy on June 6, 2011 at 9:37 AM

    Thanks for the warning, but it still doesn’t answer the question when it goes far beyond Brigham Young.

    “there is such an unwillingness for public dissent”

    I don’t think that dissent is part of the Gospel, save it be toward the outside culture or by the authorities toward the members (not bottom up). Scriptures are full of members dissenting against the Lord and his authorities, and it almost never ends good for the membership’s spiritual health. Even when the leadership dissents the end product is usually the Lords wrath or holding back blessings.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 1

  14. Dan on June 6, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    Thanks for the warning, but it still doesn’t answer the question when it goes far beyond Brigham Young.

    yeah, it does, Jettboy, but you’re not going to like the answer. The answer is that it wasn’t just Brigham Young that was racist. A racism that had no scriptural or even revelatory justification. I dare you to show me where Brigham Young received revelation that blacks were not allowed the priesthood.

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

  15. Jettboy on June 6, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    There isn’t, at least not in the way I can point out some nice and neat orderly declaration set to print in the next edition of the Doctrine and Covenants. Its what I call procedural revelation. That is the kind that is more often in operation, even during Joseph Smith’s administration. In some ways its what is meant by the statement that Conference addresses are Scripture for the membership. Yet, I don’t see many of them set to be place in the next edition of the Doctrine and Covenants (although some here would also not define the talks as revelations).

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 2

  16. Jettboy on June 6, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    By the way, are you saying the Brigham Young didn’t institute the ban?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  17. Dan on June 6, 2011 at 10:08 AM

    oh, I am definitely saying Brigham Young instituted the ban, but not by revelation. He, as the prophet, directed the future of the church on the path of racism, but not because the Lord told him so.

    http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/sermons_talks_interviews/brigham1852feb5_priesthoodandblacks.htm

    That’s the first instance of him declaring that blacks cannot have the priesthood. And this isn’t a speech in Conference. It is a political speech in a joint session of the legislature.

    Brigham Young did a lot of damage to the whole notion of a prophet, because he allowed the church to remain racist for a very long time, and he covered himself by saying things like this:

    “I am here to answer. I shall be on hand to answer when I am called upon, for all the counsel and for all the instruction that I have given to this people. If there is an Elder here, or any member of this Church, called the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who can bring up the first idea, the first sentence that I have delivered to the people as counsel that is wrong, I really wish they would do it; but they cannot do it, for the simple reason that I have never given counsel that is wrong; this is the reason.” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 161).

    He is infallible in his eyes. And he makes people like you think all prophets are either infallible, or if they make a “mistake” it actually is the will of God, thus God is to be blamed for the errors, sins, and mistakes of man. That’s rather perverted, in my thinking. It also violates Occam’s Razor. The simplest answer is that Brigham Young did not receive a revelation from God that blacks cannot have the priesthood, that he detested blacks and thought they were definitely of lower quality.

    but let me tell you, that the day they consented to mingle their seed with Cannan, the preisthood was taken away from Judah, and that portion of Judahs seed will never get any rule, or blessings of the preisthood until Cain gets it. Let this Church which is called the kingdom of God on the earth; we will sommons the first presidency, the twelve, the high counsel, the Bishoprick, and all the elders of Isreal, suppose we summons them to apear here, and here declare that it is right to mingle our seed, with the black race of Cain, that they shall come in with with us and be pertakers with us of all the blessings God has given to us. On that very day, and hour we should do so, the preisthood is taken from this Church and kingdom and God leaves us to our fate. The moment we consent to mingle with the seed of Cain the Church must go to desstruction, — we should receive the curse which has been placed upon the seed of Cain, and never more be numbered with the children of Adam who are heirs to the priesthood untill that curse be removed.

    Therefore I will not consent for one moment to have an african dictate me or any Bren. with regard to Church or State Government. I may vary in my veiwes from others, and they may think I am foolish in the things I have spoken, and think that they know more than I do, but I know I know more than they do. If the Affricans cannot bear rule in the Church of God, what buisness have they to bear rule in the State and Government affairs of this Territory or any others?

    Consequently I will not consent for a moment to have the Children of Cain rule me nor my Bren. No, it is not right.

    When these men come here from the Islands, are they going to hold offices in Government No. It is for men who understand the knowlege of Government affairs to hold such offices, and on the other make provisions for them to plow, and to reap, and enjoy all that human beings can enjoy, and we protect them in it. Do we know how to amilerate the condition of these people? we do. Supose that five thousands of them come from the pacific Islands, and ten or fifteen thousands from Japan, or from China, not one soul of them would know how to vote for a Government officer, they therefore ought not in the first thing have anything to do in Government afairs.

    What the Gentiles are doing we are consenting to do. What we are trying to do to day is to make the Negro equal with us in all our privilege. My voice shall be against all the day long. I shall not consent for one moment I will will call them a counsel. I say I will not consent for one moment for you to lay a plan to bring a curse upon this people. I shall not be while I am here.

    How could anyone argue with “the prophet” when he speaks like this?

    Fan Favorite! Do you like this comment as well? Thumb up 9

  18. Jeff Spector on June 6, 2011 at 10:24 AM

    Hawk,

    “As E. Scott pointed out, at times it’s hard to hear the still small voice when one is listening to strong emotion.”

    If you don’t ask the question, you never get the answer……

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  19. iamse7en on June 6, 2011 at 10:27 AM

    Joseph taught the ban too. Don’t say each one of these sources are liars.

    He [Noah] cursed him [Canaan, Ham's son] by the Priesthood which he held, and the Lord had respect to his word, and the Priesthood which he held…and the curse remains upon the posterity of Canaan until the present day. (Joseph Smith, History of the Church 4:445-6)

    Saturday, May 31st, 1879, at the house of President Abraham O. Smoot, Provo City, Utah, Utah County, at 5 O’clock p.m.
    President John Taylor, Elders Brigham Young Jr., Abraham O. Smoot, Zebedee Coltrin and L. John Nuttall met, and the subject of ordaining Negroes to the Priesthood was presented.

    Brother Coltrin: The Spring that we went up in Zion’s Camp in 1834, Brother Joseph sent Brother J. P. Green and me out to gather up means to assist in gathering out the Saints from Jackson County, Missouri. On our return home we got in conversation about the Negro having a right to the Priesthood, and I took up the side that he had no right. Brother Green argued that he had. The subject got so warm between us that he said he would report me to Brother Joseph when we got home for preaching false doctrine, which doctrine that I advocated was that the Negro could not hold the Priesthood. “all right” said I, “I hope you will.” And when we got to Kirtland, we both went to Brother Joseph’s office together to make our returns, and Brother Green was as good as his word and reported to Brother Joseph that I said that the Negro could not hold the Priesthood. Brother Joseph kind of dropped his head and rested it on his hand for a minute, and then said, “Brother Zebedee is right, for the Spirit of the Lord saith the Negro has no right nor cannot hold the Priesthood.” He made no reference to Scripture at all, but such was his decision. I don’t recollect ever having any conversation with him afterwards on this subject, but I have heard him say in public that no person having the least particle of Negro blood can hold the Priesthood. (Journal of L. John Nuttall 1:290-293)

    Abraham Smoot inquired of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “What should be done with the Negroes in the South as I was preaching to them? [Joseph] said I could baptize them by the consent of their masters, BUT NOT TO CONFER THE PRIESTHOOD UPON THEM. (L. John Nuttall Journal, May 31, 1879).”

    Monday, 26 Oct. 1970: Priesthood Answer. Editor, Tribune:

    What then is the reason for the continued racial exclusion?

    The answer is simple. The Prophet Joseph Smith was commanded by God to withdraw the priesthood from Elijah Able [sic], and revoke the ordination. There is no exception. The continued church’s policy over the years is an evident fact that Presidents Young, Taylor, Woodruff and Snow, as well as Heber C. Kimball, William Clayton, and other leaders of the time, all knew of this excluding doctrine and continued to abide by it. Although there is no official Church record as to the revocation, Elijah Able affirmed the fact to father, Thomas A. Shreeve, when both were living in the Salt Lake 10th Ward, during 1872-1877. At the time, Bro. Able told young Thomas, who baptized Able’s grandchildren that the Prophet Joseph “came to him with tears in his eyes one day, and told him [Able] that he had been commanded by the Lord to withdraw the holy priesthood from him.”

    Patriarch Shreeve, testified many times before his death in 1931, of the facts in the case, and of his close relationship with Brother Able. As of this date there are still living three members of the Shreeve family, who know of the facts to which their father testified Elijah Able told him. (Caleb A. Shreeve, Sr., The Salt Lake Tribune, “Forum,” 26 Oct. 1970)

    Zebedee Coltrin also maintained that Elijah had later been dropped from the quorum of Seventies. Abel did, however, receive a patriarchal blessing under the hands of Joseph Smith, Sr., in which it was said:
    “Thy soul be white in eternity, and receive all the power that thou needest to accomplish thy mission.”
    He was also promised that he would be “the welding link between the black and white races, and should hold the initiative authority by which his race should be redeemed.” (Council meeting, Aug. 26, 1908, G.A.Smith Papers)

    In 1924 Joseph F. Smith noted that: “The question arises from time to time in regard to the Negro race and the Priesthood …. It is true that the Negro race is barred from holding the Priesthood, and this has always been the case. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught this doctrine.” (Imp. Era 27:564)

    “President George Q. Cannon remarked that the Prophet taught this doctrine: That the seed of Cain could not receive the Priesthood nor act in any of the offices of the Priesthood until the seed of Abel should come forward and take precedence over Cain’s offspring.” (Way to Perfection, p. 110)

    In January of 1844, the Prophet Joseph, as mayor of Nauvoo, fined two Negroes “for attempting to marry white women.” (D.H.C. 6:210)

    The Prophet explained that–

    …a black skin…has ever been a curse that has followed an apostate of the holy priesthood, as well as a black heart…. (Times & Seasons 6:857)

    …that 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 [114] who interfere the least with the purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before Him;… (Mess. & Adv. 2:290 & D. H. C. 2:438)

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  20. Jeff Spector on June 6, 2011 at 10:31 AM

    Really, Dan?

    “http://www.utlm.org/onlineresources/sermons_talks_interviews/brigham1852feb5_priesthoodandblacks.htm”

    You are using resources from an Anti-Mormon website to make your argument? Can’t do the research yourself and not use their proof texts?

    Also, while I am in agreement about he origins of the ban, using a term like “racism” is a bit emotionally charged.

    They operated a discrimination based on social norms of the day and tried to justify it with scripture.

    To me, racism (which is a loaded, overused word) is often practiced in this day and age AGAINST social norms.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 7

  21. Dan on June 6, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Jeff,

    http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Slavery,_Blacks,_and_the_priesthood

    Is that a better source? It’s the same speech.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  22. Will on June 6, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    MH,

    The question that needs to be asked is where would the church be if the ban had not been implemented? Rather, if Brigham Young was not Joseph’s successor? I don’t think we would be the same organization. I don’t think we would be as strong – financially, numerically or in terms of our missionary program. I don’t think we would have the same numbers. I think we would look more like the Community of Christ – a very small, relatively unknown organization that has moved from its roots to a more universal Christian sect.

    Brigham Young was a prophet. He was destined to be in that position at that time. He was destined to take the Saints to isolation. They needed to be isolated so they could be strengthened. It was as prophesied in Daniel. In isolation, they developed a formidable economy. In isolation, they settled most of Utah and Idaho; parts of Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, California and Southern Alberta. In these settlements they established roots. In these areas, they acquired large parcels of Land. They were an odd and peculiar people. This was necessary so they would be left alone. So they would blossom as a rose. They needed to be isolated from the political problems of the day, including the racial tensions stemming from the Civil War. The Church did not create these tensions. I think it was wise to wait for these tensions to ease before integrating blacks and whites. I think the time of integration was the proper time.

    In hind sight, there is no question Brigham was a prophet. He took the Church from noting. He built the foundation – a deep seeded, pile driven foundation – a foundation for the Kingdom of God on earth. A fountain of wealth to financially support and send missionaries, mission presidents, seventies and Apostles to the world.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 2

  23. Dan on June 6, 2011 at 10:42 AM

    the sad thing is, Jeff, that anti-Mormons sometimes have the quotes Mormons would rather not see anymore. Frankly I wish Brigham Young never said what he said to that joint session of the legislature. Sadly, he said it. And he definitely erred.

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

  24. Dan on June 6, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    fascinating argument, Will. If the church would have allowed blacks to have the priesthood, they would not have succeeded as “wildly” as they have by barring blacks from the priesthood? Is that really your argument?

    And clearly Utah was NOT in isolation, as Brigham Young’s speech to the Joint Session of the Legislature in February 1852 indicates. Utah was very much a part of the world, and not in some isolated desert.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  25. Will on June 6, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Dan,

    I am saying God is in charge. I am saying he called Brigham Young as a Prophet. I am saying blacks received the priesthood when God intended. I am saying the success of the church stems from having the right person in charge at the right time.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 4

  26. FireTag on June 6, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Will:

    Preserve the church at any moral cost? I think you’re a lot more like the Community of Christ than you’d like to think. Maintaining and expanding that church is the argument its leadership has made for the last generation.

    At some point the moral contortions do become silly, and you have to rethink some basic assumptions about how well people are hearing the Spirit, no matter what their office.

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

  27. Dan on June 6, 2011 at 11:26 AM

    hmm, if God intended it to be that way, then Brigham Young had no free will. You’re contending, for instance, that God intended for there to be a great apostasy. That that was His Will.

    Why are you afraid of admitting that Brigham Young was wrong?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  28. MH on June 6, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    se7en, your justifications are all wrong. Zebedee Coltrin’s memory has been proven false. Zebedee Coltrin actually ORDAINED Elijah Abel. I’ve already documented this in a post on the priesthood ban. See Was the Priesthood Ban Inspired?” Joseph not only consented to Elijah Abel’s ordination, but Brigham Young probably ordained Joseph Ball. See Early Black Mormons.

    The impetus of the ban is not based in scripture at all. As stated in the first link,

    On Mar 26,1847, Brigham Young made a statement that he was aware of Walker Lewis, and aware that Walker held the priesthood. Young claimed on this date that there is no race-based ban. The statement is “its nothing to do with the blood, for of one blood has God made all flesh. We have to repent [and] regain what we [h]av[e] lost. We [h]av[e] one of the best Elders–an African in Lowell [i.e. Walker Lewis].” By December 1847, he’s completely changed his mind. Now he calls for Enoch and Matilda Lewis and their mixed-race child to be killed for breaking “the law of God.”

    Margaret Young adds, “Prior to this, when people are talking about ‘curse of Cain, curse of Canaan’, it is not used as justification for this is why we’re not going to allow blacks to hold the priesthood, it is being used to justify why blacks have it so hard, or in some cases, A lot of protestant ministers are trying to keep the Civil War from happening, are saying ‘this is God’s design, and these are the curses that support the way things ought to be. So, it’s not a question of priesthood, it’s a question of social status.”

    Greg Prince, “That ban came after Joseph Smith’s death. It was during the administration of Brigham Young, and the reasons for it and the exact timing still remain rather fuzzy. What’s clear is that it was not a discrete revelation. It was a policy that was instituted probably in response, probably in response to something going on in the local environment. I’m not sure on that.

    But that became accepted as doctrine, the longer it remained in effect. So, by the time you got into the 20th century, everyone just assumed this was based on revelation, that it was doctrinal, and it wouldn’t change.”

    This begs the question “What’s changed, what has happened?”

    Darius, “The William McCary episode is probably the main event leading to the priesthood restriction. Darius Gray summarizes, “While talking about this event, Brigham said, ‘it is nothing to do with the blood, for of one blood has God made all flesh. We have one of the finest elder’s, an African in Lowell, MA.’ In all likelihood he was referring to Walker Lewis. So even during this period of time, we have William McCary excommunicated, and there is the sensitivity about McCary’s seducing a number of white sisters, still, Brigham says it has nothing to do with blood, for of one blood hath God made all flesh.”

    According to Connell O’Donovan, “The catalyst for the priesthood and temple bans was a culmination of McCary’s marriage in 1846 to the daughter of Nauvoo stake president, Daniel Stanton, and then his sexual “sealings” to several other LDS women at Winter Quarters and other LDS camps in 1847, PLUS Enoch Lewis’ 1846 marriage to a white LDS woman, Mary Matilda Webster in Boston, and their having a mixed-race child in 1847. Brigham Young threatened to have the Lewis family killed in December 1847 for breaking the “law of God”. At that point, Young formulated the ban.”

    Feb 1849 brings about the first statement about priesthood restriction. Brigham Young said, “Because Cain cut off the lives of Abel, the Lord cursed Canaan’s seed, and prohibited them from the priesthood.”

    It was at this point that Brigham allowed protestant ideas in the church. The priesthood restriction was proposed as the only way to stop inter-racial marriage–a culturally reprehensible problem. Southern protestant ideas seeped into the church, and Brigham adopted them. It wasn’t until this time that any ban started, and scriptures were “wrested” for this purpose. You’ll never find anything about Joseph or Brigham stating a ban from before this time period. Zebedee made up the memory 40 years after the fact to pin it on Joseph, but there are ZERO contemporary accounts of Joseph calling for a ban. In short, Zebedee Coltrin’s memory is made up, and he is a completely unreliable source.

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

  29. Will on June 6, 2011 at 11:57 AM

    “You’re contending, for instance, that God intended for there to be a great apostasy. ”

    Ah..yea! Isn’t that LDS 101?

    As for Brigham, he was human and thus made mistakes. As for God, he is not. He called the right man. You can argue with me, but you can’t argue with the success of the Church. Whatever they did worked, is working and will work because it is the kingdom of God on earth.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 3

  30. Homer on June 6, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Will:

    LDS 101 also stipulates that the Church and the Kingdom of God are 2 entirely different entities, but for some reason you keep thinking they’re one-and-the-same.

    For some more remedial education, you might want to differentiate between God intending something to happen or allowing something to happen. The great apostasy wasn’t “intended” to happen (nor the modern LDS apostasy), but it’s allowed to happen because we humans have a marvelous ability at screwing things up and thinking we’re on the fast track to the celestial kingdom.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  31. Dan on June 6, 2011 at 12:11 PM

    Ah..yea! Isn’t that LDS 101?

    Um, no, it’s not. God didn’t intend for there to be a great apostasy. He foresaw that it would happen, but it was not His will. One of the great lessons from the scriptures which you seem to not learn very well is that no matter what God says, His children tend to not listen to him very much, or do what he wills. It was not his intent that millions of people live for nearly 2000 years in darkness from his will. That is NEVER God’s intent. To claim it is is to acknowledge a deep lack of understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    I’m glad you realize that Brigham Young was human and made mistakes. You do realize that the church is highly lucky to be in existence, that it was nearly snuffed out because of polygamy. You do realize this, right? You cannot claim that just because it is the kingdom of God, everything it does at the behest of its leaders on earth, brings success. Polygamy nearly brought about the death of the church. If Woodruff hadn’t rescinded polygamy, the two of us would not be around today as Mormons. There would be no LDS church. We’ll never know the alternative history of what would have occurred if Brigham Young had not been racist. We’ll never know that world. One thing I do know is that even today, the actions of our church leaders has both a positive and negative effect upon the growth of the church. Prop 8, for instance, has been terrible for the growth of the church. (I’m just bringing it in as an example—i don’t want to debate that tangent).

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 5

  32. Homer on June 6, 2011 at 12:14 PM

    Will:

    I echo Dan’s comment on the difference between intending/allowing… but would still correct both you and Dan in failing to acknowledge that the Kingdom of God and the Church are two separate entities which will never be the same thing.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 4

  33. Jettboy on June 6, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    Homer, the Church and the Kingdom ARE the same thing. At the least the Church is the organization that will lead to The Kingdom or there will not be a Kingdom. As the Scriptures say “a house divided cannot stand.”

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 1

  34. Will on June 6, 2011 at 12:41 PM

    Dan,

    Show me the money. Where does it say he never intended an apostasy.

    My logic, if Joseph was foreordained to restore the gospel; then, by definition it was foreordained to collapse.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  35. Homer on June 6, 2011 at 12:52 PM

    Jettboy:

    Sorry, no matter how much you say they are the same doesn’t change the fact that they are two separate entities.

    The Church is a church. The Kingdom is a kingdom.

    Maybe we should do a LDS 101 remedial course, because your own orthodoxy states this:

    The kingdom of God means the government of God. That means, power, authority, rule, dominion, and a people to rule over. But that principle will not be fulfilled, cannot be entirely fulfilled, until, as we are told in the scriptures, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and his Christ, and he will rule over them [see Revelation 11:15], and when unto him every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that he is Christ [see D&C 88:104], to the glory of God, the Father. … We talk sometimes about the church of God, and why? We talk about the kingdom of God, and why? Because, before there could be a kingdom of God, there must be a church of God …

    A precursor simply can’t be the same thing as the thing it leads to.

    MH:

    I’ve always liked Nibley’s take on this:

    “When Cain was cursed because of his sin he went to the land of Nod (Gen. 4:16)—meaning nomadism or wandering; he and his descendants became wanderers on the face of the earth. The parallel with the Lamanites at once springs to mind. Lamanite darkness was ethnic in the broadest sense, being both hereditary and cultural, shifting between “white and delightsome” and “dark and loathsome” along with manners and customs as well as intermarriage. (Al. 3:4-10.) But inseparable from the cultural heritage of ancient tribes were the markings that members of the society put on themselves, without which they would be considered outcasts. People who marked their foreheads with red after the Lamanite custom “knew not that they were fulfilling the words of God when they began to mark their foreheads,” thus showing that the Lamanite curse had fallen on them. (Al. 3:18.)

    It was the same with the descendants of Cain. Since time immemorial they have been identified throughout the East with those wandering tribes of metal workers whose father was Tubal Cain. “Thubal bore the sins of Cain,” says a Midrash, “and followed Cain’s trade. For he prepared weapons for murderers” (29:I, 160), a tradition clearly echoed in the Book of Mormon (Eth. 8:15ff.). Tubal is the Sumerian tibira, coppersmith or metalworker. (444:180.) As the sign of their mystery and their tribe, the wandering smiths or tinkers have always soot-blackened their faces, a practice still found among journeying sweeps and some others who work at the grimy forge (84:II, 180); and the name by which they were known was Qenites. (84:II, 217, 180; cf. Aram. qena = smith.) The ancient people of Tubal were also known as the Nuhhase, a name that designated those parts of Asia Minor and Syria where mining and metallurgy are believed to have originated (444:177, 179); the same word is the common Semitic root for copper and its alloys, and it is the Egyptian name for the Ethiopians, usually translated as “the Blacks,” Nhsy. According to their own report and universal folklore, these traveling menders of pots and pans must keep traveling because they are under a curse. “They are the Gypsies,” says a very old Judaeo-Christian writing, “who travel on foot with burdens on their backs, and are turned away from the doors of the children of their brethren.” (58:21.27.) They beguile their outcast condition with wild music and dancing, and they are the Cainites of old who enticed the righteous Sethians, called “the Children of God,” to join in their revels and so fall from grace in the days of Jared. (58:21, 14; 445:343-57.) Their special mark is not the blackened face and hands, however, but a tattoo on the hand or arm, a Tau-sign or a circle and cross: “As a caste-mark it is still to be seen among the Kenite tribesmen of Judea and Galilee,” writes Robert Graves. “… In Genesis it is the brand of Cain … ancestor of the Kenites, and in Ezekiel it is the divine mark set on the brows of all just men.” (446:403.) According to a Midrash, God placed a letter of the alphabet on Cain’s hand as a mark, so that no one would slay him (29:I, 136, 239f.), and some of the Jewish doctors maintained that “the ‘Sign of Cain’ was the mark on David’s brow” (447:389).”

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  36. Brian on June 6, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Thanks, MH, for this post. Also, thanks for those who bring research to their posts here, anti or not.

    I feel guilty by reading and not helping the discussion. A bit like when my wife cooks a meal and I don’t help her.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  37. hm on June 6, 2011 at 3:00 PM

    i don’t believe that god decided that black people shoudlnt have the priesthood, and then in 1978 he decided they should, and instructed his prophets accordingly. i think that people just did what came naturally, and they happened to be old, and white, and not like black people.

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

  38. Heber13 on June 6, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    I remember reading in the David O McKay book (Rise of Modern Mormonism) that it was clear there was dissension among the leaders (for good reason).

    And that McKay’s charge to have groups research the issue and find the doctrine in the scriptures.

    They were unable to do so to his satisfaction. It was mostly a problem from precedence, not scriptural doctrine.

    Its a shame they couldn’t get the revelation sooner to change the practice.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  39. Heber13 on June 6, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    #36, I see what you are saying, however it is very problematic when the old white leaders are claiming to speak for God. If they are just doing what people do, why do we follow them? Has it changed for you today? Or is it still old, white men doing what comes naturally?

    That is not their claim. That is the problem.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 2

  40. Jeff Spector on June 6, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    Dan,

    “Is that a better source? It’s the same speech.’

    no

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  41. Dan on June 6, 2011 at 5:26 PM

    Are you saying the source is wrong?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  42. Homer on June 6, 2011 at 5:54 PM

    Jeff:

    Just because something comes from what you’d classify as an “anti” source doesn’t necessarily invalidate that something from being applicable to the situation.

    I’ve found that, often enough to give me pause, many anti writers aren’t necessarily anti… they just present information that is uncomfortable for many in the sense that it pushes the envelope of our cognitive dissonance. And, though they might have a specific goal they’re trying to achieve, it’s no different than overly apologetic Mormon writers doing the same thing… only LDS have a penchant for believing anything an LDS writer puts forth if it comes through “established” channels.

    The LDS have a remarkable ability to disassociate themselves from uncomfortable information simply by suggesting it’s “anti” …

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  43. iamse7en on June 6, 2011 at 6:13 PM

    MH,

    That’s one person of the several sources I quoted who said Joseph Smith instituted the ban. Because Zebedee’s memory, in some cases, has been less than accurate in the past, you throw out all of his credibility. That’s a bit harsh, but fine, you can do that. He’s not the only source that JS said instituted the ban. Then you proceed to quote people who didn’t live during Joseph Smith’s time, just journalists framing their own opinion, as if that proves your agenda to show JS didn’t institute the ban. I quote sources of people who knew and lived with the Prophet. I can also quote you several people who said JS taught the Adam-God doctrine. I stick to the sources and have other’s draw their own conclusions. You quote historians’ opinions and draw your own conclusions. Have fun with that.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  44. Mormon Heretic on June 6, 2011 at 9:23 PM

    I’ve heard the argument that the church wouldn’t survive if they had let blacks have the priesthood, and it just doesn’t hold a drop of water with me. Joseph said that no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. If the church could flourish in spite of upholding polygamy for some 50 years despite it being against the law in all the states and territories (except Deseret), then certainly it would have been just fine outside of the South.

    Let’s remember that the northern states favored abolition. Let’s remember that Joseph was born in Vermont, and most of the early saints were northerners and not in favor of slavery. And finally, let’s remember that in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery across the nation. It is folly to say the church would have crumbled by allowing black priesthood holders. The church didn’t crumble with polygamy, and that was much more controversial.

    Besides, the Strangite and RLDS churches never had a priesthood ban. Both churches said that Joseph never instituted a ban. To my knowledge, Rigdonite/Hedrickite churches never had a ban either. These churches are right–Joseph never voiced such a position.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  45. Mormon Heretic on June 6, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    Se7en,

    My apologies for not addressing all of your quotes. I was at work and didn’t have time to refute all of your arguments. Now that I’m home, I can take a bit more time. I knew I could find the Zebedee Coltrin info quickly, so I refuted that first because it was low hanging fruit. If I were you, I wouldn’t use Coltrin to support your position in the future, because it is a terrible source.

    Before I refute your stuff, let me point out 6 black members of the church that held the priesthood during Joseph’s lifetime. Please refute the following: (this comes from my post, Early Black Mormons

    * Black Pete – According to historian Mark Staker, Black Pete was an ex slave living in Kirtland 1830 or 31. Journal accounts say that he was baptizing people in Kirtland during this time period.

    * Joseph T Ball – was baptized in the summer of 1832 by either Brigham Young or his brother Joseph Young who served a mission to Boston. Ball later went on mission with Wilford Woodruff, in New England, New Jersey. In 1837, Wilford Woodruff records in his journal that Ball was an Elder. Ball is the son of man of Jamaica who came in 1790 (JT Ball Sr) founded society to help colored widows in need. His mom was white. Joseph born in Cambridge. All of his sisters became feminists and abolitionists. The LDS branch Ball was part of contained mostly women converts. He was named Branch President (similar to a Bishop in a larger LDS congregation) in 1844, and is the first black man to preside over Mormon congregation. He performed baptisms for his ancestors. He received patriarchal blessing from William Smith in Nauvoo. He died of tuberculosis in 1856.

    Ball was the Boston Branch president from October 1844 to March 1845 – the largest LDS congregation outside of the Nauvoo area. He was ordained a High Priest by William Smith (the first African American HP) and was sent to Nauvoo by Parley P. Pratt in the spring of 1845 to work on the temple and then receive his endowments. Ball did go and work on the temple, but then he and William Smith apostatized around August 1845 and Ball never was endowed because the temple didn’t open until December 1845.

    * Elijah Abel – became the third known black convert to the LDS church, being baptized in 1832. He received the priesthood in 1836, and served 3 missions to Ohio, NY, and Canada. He helped build the Kirtland, Nauvoo, and Salt Lake Temples, received his washing and anointing in the Kirtland Temple, but was denied the endowment by Brigham Young in 1853. He left Nauvoo before the endowment was received to serve a mission. Margaret Young speculates that Elijah would have received the endowment if he was in Nauvoo while Smith was alive. His obituary in the Deseret News shows that he held the office of Seventy in the Melchizedek Priesthood.

    * Isaac Van Meter – Wilford Woodruff’s journal says Van Meter “used to be a Mormon elder.” He was probably baptized by Ball or Woodruff in Maine around 1837. Apparently, Van Meter left the LDS church.

    * Walker Lewis – joined the LDS church in the summer of 1843. He was probably baptized by Parley P Pratt in the fall of 1843. He was ordained an Elder by William Smith, Joseph’s younger brother. Lewis has a very interesting history. He was the son of slaves, and sued for his own freedom. His case is cited as the case which liberated slaves in 1783 in Massachusetts. Winning the court case resulted is his family being able to purchase property. He voted, was educated, and became upper class of black Massachusetts society. In 1820 he became a barber. In 1826 he helped found Massachusetts General Colored Association which was the first civil rights abolitionist group in the world. In 1823, he because a freemason, and master mason. In 1829 he signed the form declaring independence from the mother lodge in London, making his lodge Black Lodge #1.

    He was well acquainted with 6 of the 12 apostles who had served missions in Massachusetts, including Wilford Woodruff, Brigham Young, Orson Hyde, Orson Pratt , Parley Pratt, and William Smith. Woodruff wrote in his journal that “He was an example for his more whiter brethren to follow.” Lowell Branch where he lived was saved because of his service. It is known that he traveled to Salt Lake City in Oct 1851.

    * Enoch Lovejoy Lewis was his son and ordained an elder as well. Enoch Lewis’ 1846 marriage to a white LDS woman, Mary Matilda Webster in Boston, and their having a mixed-race child in 1847, was a contributing factor to the Priesthood ban.

    * William McCary was ordained an Elder by Apostle Orson Hyde in October 1846. He was known as the “black prophet.” William was later excommunicated in 1847 for seducing a number of Mormon, white women into unauthorized polygamy.

    Warner “William” McCary was NOT half-Native American, although he claimed to be Choctaw. His mother was an African American slave and his father was her white master, a carpenter born in Pennsylvania. McCary made up his Native American heritage and traveled around the country putting on shows as an “Indian”, claiming to be the lost son of Moshullah Tubbee, a great Choctaw chief. It was a scam to make money.

    The catalyst for the priesthood and temple ban was a culmination of McCary’s marriage in 1846 to the daughter of Nauvoo stake president, Daniel Stanton, and then his sexual “sealings” to several other LDS women at Winter Quarters and other LDS camps in 1847.

    Here is a list of other notable exceptions to the Priesthood ban.

    * Enoch Abel, Elijah’s son received the priesthood, and is ordained an elder on Nov 27, 1900.

    * Elijah Abel, Enoch Abel’s son, received the priesthood, and is ordained a priest in 1934. In 1935, he is ordained an Elder.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

  46. Margaret on June 6, 2011 at 10:01 PM

    Seriously, Iam7en, you are not using good sources. Zebedee Coltrin is utterly unreliable. (I have studied him at length.) Joseph F. Smith himself contradicted Coltrin’s claims in 1879 and produced two certificates of re-ordination for Elijah Abel–whom Coltrin had ordained as a Seventy. (Joseph Smith Jr. had ordained Abel to the Melchizedek priesthood in 1836.) At that 1879 meeting which John Taylor’s secretary, John Nuttall, dutifully transcribed, the claims about Abel’s status in the priesthood were taken to Abel himself, who said that Joseph Smith had told him he was entitled to the priesthood. Even in 1879, Abel was told that he still held the priesthood, though he was not allowed to be endowed. (He had previously been washed and anointed in the Kirtland Temple.) In 1908, after the death of Jane Manning James–the last of the Blacks in Utah to have been personally acquainted with Joseph Smith–Joseph F. Smith did indeed revise the claims he made in 1879, and the institutional memory then became the narrative you suggest–which is simply not correct.
    Though you use ellipses to suggest that Joseph was referring to the priesthood ban (“and the Lord had respect to his word, and the Priesthood which he held…and the curse remains upon the posterity of Canaan until the present day”), the quote refers to slavery, which many if not most people of the 19th Century thought was the “curse of Cain/Canaan” (i.e. “servant of servants”). And please don’t use an editorial comment from the Tribune in 1970 as support. I’ve spent years teaching students how to document properly. Editorials won’t cut it.
    I believe in my religion, and I love it. This issue is not a stumbling block for me; it is simply interesting history. It becomes a stumbling block for many, however, if someone perpetuates racist stereotypes in the present day in order to support Church policies of the past. It becomes a stumbling block if any Black person is told they are “cursed” because a well-intentioned Mormon simply doesn’t know better. It becomes a stumbling block if any LDS missionary sees the Lord’s children as divided into castes rather than as co-inheritors with Christ of all that the Father has–or if any member of a congregation to which a Black investigator is brought has similar notions.
    The center of the gospel is not this particular point of history. The center is the atonement of Jesus Christ. But if 19th century attitudes keep us from living the FULL and restored gospel in 2011, we must speak boldly, and then testify, as did Pres. Gordon B. HInckley in April 2006: “I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color, is ineligible?”

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

  47. Margaret on June 6, 2011 at 10:02 PM

    Hey, MH, looks like I posted right when you did.
    Good to see you, btw.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  48. Margaret on June 6, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    Oh, MH–there’s one error in _Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons_. We tried to get it corrected, but there were problems with the duplication. It’s LEN Hope, not LYNN. Remarkable story. (The title of that feature says LYNN, though when you actually click on it, it’s spelled correctly.)

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  49. Mormon Heretic on June 6, 2011 at 10:25 PM

    Se7en,

    I appreciate the info you provided. In another chapter of the Black and Mormon book, Newell Bringhurst traces the academic history of scholarship of the ban. In brief, (perhaps too brief)

    *Fawn Brodie came up with “the Missouri Thesis”. In short, Fawn believed that Missouri being a slave state influenced the Mormons into a priesthood ban. While there certainly was an influence, most scholars believe that Brodie overstated the Missouri problem with the ban.

    *There are 2 main schools of thought right now. In 1979, Ronald Esplin of BYU pinned blame of the ban on Joseph Smith in the Nauvoo period of 1842-43. However, Lester Bush has faulted Esplin for a lack of contemporary sources. The earliest recorded pronouncement of the ban is 1847, 3 years after the death of Joseph Smith. From page 20, Apostle Parley P. Pratt

    “offhandedly referred to priesthood denial to the Blacks”–specifically prompted by the unauthorized practice of polygamy at Winter Quarters by one William McCary, a black Indian whom Pratt characterized as a “black man with the blood of Ham in him which lineage was cursed as regards to the priesthood.”

    Lester Bush in 1984 responded the “Esplin thesis”, acknowledging some merit, but citing a lack of “contemporary documentation.” Bush concludes on page 21,

    that is was “difficult to believe…that a concrete policy of priesthood denial dated much before spring 1847…given the apparent chronology of the actual practice.”41

    Se7en, all of your “proofs” date long after 1847, so they are all highly problematic.
    Let’s read the whole quote of History of the Church 4:445-6,

    What many people call a sin is not sin; I do many things to break down superstition, and I will break it down;” I referred to the curse of Ham for laughing at Noah, while in his wine, but doing no harm. Noah was a righteous man, and yet he drank wine and became intoxicated; the Lord did not forsake him in consequence therof, for he retained all the power of his priesthood, and when he was accused by Canaan, he cursed him by the Priesthood which he held, and the Lord had respect to his word, and the Priesthood which he held, notwithstanding he was drunk, and the curse remains upon the posterity of Canaan until the present day.

    I think Alma Allred has already explained this curse of Ham doctrine. As was explained above, how could Ham be righteous while marrying a “black” Canaanite?” There’s a big theological problem here. Besides, Joseph just said, “What many people call a sin is not sin;” I think this is one of those cases.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  50. Mormon Heretic on June 6, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    Margaret, so glad to see you stop by!!!! Thanks for the info!

    Se7en,

    In January of 1844, the Prophet Joseph, as mayor of Nauvoo, fined two Negroes “for attempting to marry white women.” (D.H.C. 6:210)

    I’m sure Joseph Smith had an aversion to inter-racial marriage. It was pretty common in the day, but does not speak of the ban itself.

    The Prophet explained that–

    …a black skin…has ever been a curse that has followed an apostate of the holy priesthood, as well as a black heart…. (Times & Seasons 6:857)

    …that 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 [114] who interfere the least with the purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before Him;… (Mess. & Adv. 2:290 & D. H. C. 2:438)

    As Margaret said, this refers to slavery, not priesthood.

    We believe that men will be punished for their own sins and not for Adam’s [or Ham's, or Cain's] transgression.

    There is no scriptural justification for the ban.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  51. Margaret on June 6, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    I have an essay in a forthcoming book edited by James Falconer in which I briefly go over the various justifications and give a bit more history. Not sure what the book’s title is, but it’ll be out in the fall, published by Koford Books. It’s a collection of essays by LDS scholars addressing some difficult issues.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  52. Mormon Heretic on June 6, 2011 at 10:42 PM

    Margaret, I would like a signed copy!!! You can bet I’ll be blogging about it as soon as I can!

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  53. Margaret on June 6, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    Happy to provide that, MH. I appreciate your thoughtful posts.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  54. Margaret on June 6, 2011 at 11:05 PM

    Oh, by the way, _Way To Perfection_ was removed from all LDS bookstores several years ago at the direction of an apostle who was deeply concerned about some of the false doctrine in it. So also not a good source to quote.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  55. Matthew R. Lee on June 6, 2011 at 11:49 PM

    During the June 1, 1978 council meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency in the Salt Lake Temple, each member of the Twelve was asked to express his thoughts on the priesthood restriction. When it was Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s turn to speak, he told those present that he knew of no scriptural support for the restriction.

    An account of his remark is in either The Bruce R. McConkie Story: Reflections of a Son by Joseph Fielding McConkie or in Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball by Edward L. Kimball. It may be in both, I do not recall.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  56. Matthew R. Lee on June 7, 2011 at 12:05 AM

    Margaret – Do you mean The Way to Perfection by Joseph Fielding Smith?

    It’s listed on the Deseret Book website with a note, “This product is not currently available.” Here is a link: http://tinyurl.com/3vjessj

    Interesting . . .

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  57. Margaret on June 7, 2011 at 7:37 AM

    Matthew R. Lee–yep, that’s the one.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  58. Jeff Spector on June 7, 2011 at 8:53 AM

    Dan,

    “Are you saying the source is wrong?’

    I’m sayin’ you’re not doing your homework and relying on the proof texting of other. Do you own proof texting that way you read the entire talk in context. It may not make the outcome any better but at least you’ll know and we’ll know.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  59. Jeff Spector on June 7, 2011 at 9:19 AM

    I really appreciate what Margret has written. As a expert in the field, she has been able to reconcile the past with the present. Many others seem unable or unwilling to do that.

    What happened in the past is indeed past and every ethnic group, class, and nationality have taken their turn at suffering at the hands of others here in the US. The fact that some of that still goes on is a real tragedy.

    We all wish that early Church leaders would have been more progressive than society as a whole, but they weren’t. And some justified it by scripture, just as others have justified all sorts of prejudices and atrocities by scripture.

    That issues was indeed corrected in 1978, and even a little late by where some of us has already moved to.

    but you can see from the comments here that some wish to cling to old ideas that have been thoroughly debunked and even denounced by Church leaders. If Elder McConkie can admit he was wrong, everyone else should have no problem doing that as well.

    So many other important current issues to face without having to re-litigate these older ones.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 1

  60. Dan on June 7, 2011 at 12:33 PM

    Jeff,

    I’m sayin’ you’re not doing your homework and relying on the proof texting of other. Do you own proof texting that way you read the entire talk in context. It may not make the outcome any better but at least you’ll know and we’ll know.

    You’re assuming that I haven’t. You’re assuming that I did a quick google search and plopped on that and said “a ha! there’s my smoking gun.” Since this isn’t a new topic in the Mormon blogosphere, I have come across that speech before and know the context thereof. Are you suggesting that they altered Brigham’s words to make him look bad?

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  61. Jeff Spector on June 7, 2011 at 1:39 PM

    Dan,

    “Are you suggesting that they altered Brigham’s words to make him look bad?”

    Nope, no one needs to do that to those words. But they look very inflamatory against modern norms. At the time, they were not that unusual.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 0

  62. Rigel Hawthorne on June 8, 2011 at 6:17 PM

    “I believe in my religion, and I love it. This issue is not a stumbling block for me; it is simply interesting history. It becomes a stumbling block for many, however, if someone perpetuates racist stereotypes in the present day in order to support Church policies of the past. It becomes a stumbling block if any Black person is told they are “cursed” because a well-intentioned Mormon simply doesn’t know better. It becomes a stumbling block if any LDS missionary sees the Lord’s children as divided into castes rather than as co-inheritors with Christ of all that the Father has–or if any member of a congregation to which a Black investigator is brought has similar notions.
    The center of the gospel is not this particular point of history. The center is the atonement of Jesus Christ. But if 19th century attitudes keep us from living the FULL and restored gospel in 2011, we must speak boldly, and then testify, as did Pres. Gordon B. HInckley in April 2006″

    That is really a beautiful, beautiful statement. Thank you for articulating it so effectively.

    Like this comment? Thumb up 3

Leave a Reply

Subscribe without commenting

Archives

%d bloggers like this: