Should the Church Apologize for the Ban?

By: Mormon Heretic
June 11, 2012

Following up with the conversation on whether the timing of the 1978 revelation was correct, Brad Kramer and Marguerite Driessen disagreed on the necessity of whether the LDS Church should repent for the previous restrictions on black church members.  You might be surprised at their stances.  Here’s more of their conversation on whether an institution needs to repent, and whether an apology would undermine members’ faith in the LDS prophet.  (If you’re interested in previous conversations, see what they said about Misunderstanding Racism.)  Here’s the transcript; let me know what you think.

Dan Wotherspoon, Host of Mormon Matters

Dan Wotherspoon, “Gina, again from your list, you asked the question that I think a lot of us talk about, but let’s give it voice here again.  Is the reluctance of the Church to respond in a more robust way, this worry that it’s going to undermine the members’ faith in prophetic revelation?  Do you want to start us on that conversation?  Do you guys kind of agree that this is—let’s at least air this one out for a couple of minutes.”

Brad, “Well, it’s something that I’ve encountered already in an interesting form which is that I’ve encountered a number of people who have responded to my call for contrition and disavowal.  By saying like basically like well I can see why that’s needed here, but it just feels to me like you’re trying to set the stage for calling for the same thing on gay rights and women’s issues.   In other words—“

Marguerite, “Slippery slope argument?”

Brad, “Well, they see the undermining—and they’re not entirely wrong you know.  We’re not going to be—if something changes with regards to these questions that are sort of very salient at this very moment, something that is going to happen before that change is that people are going to re-evaluate, not necessarily lose faith, but they are going to re-evaluate what they think about the role of prophets, the role of church leaders, and that’s part of what is at stake in this question is are we willing to accept the possibility that on this one particular question, presidents of the church did lead us astray?  They didn’t lead us astray in that they led the Church into capital A apostasy, but they led us astray from truth, and God corrected it and brought us back.

But we have to I think come to terms with that and come to terms within that newly created space with just a slightly scaled back sense of sort of absolute prophetic almost infallibility.  I mean we constantly say that we don’t believe in that, but we kind of do.  But when that gets scaled back and just tempered down just a little bit, then that opens up the space, it does raise the question, it does open up the possibility that the things that we feel really strongly about and that we use as sort of boundary markers for Mormons today are subject to change in the future.”

Dan, “Gina do you have anything to add on to that?  Thanks Brad.”

Dr. Gina Colvin, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Gina, “Yeah, I agree, and I think it’s kind of going down that rabbit hole.  It’s kind of shoving/pushing dominos over.  If you say ok in this respect perhaps prophets got that wrong or presidents of the church got that wrong, then what other aspects can we say that perhaps presidents got that wrong?  We need to kind of—I suppose it comes back to the question what is the role of the prophet and once we’ve kind of determined that—is the prophet’s role just kind of to tell us where to put our potatoes like Brigham Young did, ya know, by the back door next to the brooms, or is a prophet’s responsibility, and I think kind of theologically we’d have to agree that a prophet’s responsibility is pointing to Christ, and that everything else can kind of go by the wayside.  ‘Well, that’s his opinion.’ I speak as somebody from New Zealand, it would have been nice if someone—this is an American problem, this whole race issue, and rather than it being sort of washed up onto the tide, we’re having to deal with it. In Brazil for instance, the issue of race is not the same as it is in the United States.  And so they look like, we want to build a temple, how can we do that because we can’t find any person in Brazil that doesn’t have at least some bit of black heritage, what do we do about that?

So, yeah, I just kind of come back to that notion that we have to clarify, as part of our maturing that we recognize that prophets have a particular role in telling us how to become more like Christ and pointing the way to become a Zion people.  Now if they said everything that was the mind and will of God, they’d be God.”

Dan, “Hmmm, interesting.”

Gina continues, “So you know they have to filter this kind of, you know, speaking theologically they have to kind of filter all of these kind of promptings and thinking from kind of this omnipotent being through their kind of mortal framework and cultural locatedness.  I think we need to own it, unless it is helpful for us to understand the mind and will of Christ, and backed up with scriptural canon.  Some things can be disregarded just as kind of opinion.”

Dan, “Awesome.”

Marguerite Driessen, Adjunct Professor at BYU in Law and Communications

Marguerite, “I would add that there’s always the trouble, and this is where you are when you’re LDS you are supposed what—follow the prophet.  Did you learn the song?  [Sings] Follow the prophet.  Follow the prophet…’ [Gina interrupts.]

Marguerite continues, “We learned it out whole life so that’s one of the reasons that there’s an issue here because there are times when—I actually might disagree here a bit with Brad in that there are things a prophet has said and done before they were prophets or while wearing other hats.  It is rare, we do not have a spoken revelation on this race issue, or some prophet speaking at General Conference.  We’ve never had it, and we’re going to need one probably to fix it all but there is several little sub-issues here.  One, there are people in the Church who do not believe that any prophet ever in any aspect of their life could ever be infallible which then imbues anything they’ve ever said or done, including some paper they wrote when they were 21 for a sociology class with spiritual significance if they later become prophet of the church.  There is that issue that exists among people.

There are some of us willing to accept that prophets are human beings and when they are speaking as the mouthpiece of the Lord we have been promised that they won’t lead us astray, but we still have something to do here which is we need to rely on our own instructions, and our own gift of the Holy Ghost and spirit of revelation to know when something is coming from this person as the prophet from the mouth of God, and when it is something else.  Then you have to reconcile to yourself what to do with it. I mean I don’t want people to listen to this podcast and say that Dan and his panel of crazies are saying ‘don’t ever listen to the prophet because it’s really just his opinion.’ That’s not my opinion.

I’m telling you there are times when people who are prophets speak but when they are not speaking prophetically, and usually they give you some kind of clue.  Like if they’re speaking from the pulpit at General Conference, maybe you should listen.  But when they’re sitting there talking to the legislature as the governor of the state, take that with a huge grain of salt if you take it at all.  You could shovel it out in the dust bin and it wouldn’t make a difference to your immortal status, you know, your obedience or lack thereof, your willfulness or lack thereof.  I think that is something we need to come to grips with.

I think there are people who—I have a problem with people who won’t move forward unless there’s an apology for what happened in the past.  Maybe that’s because I understand repentance, or I understand the idea of forgiveness and these things as related only to yourself. If you’ve wronged me, you’ve wronged me, and that’s on you.  If I refuse to forgive you and move forward, that’s on me. So I want to be sure to tell people that look, you need to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ.  You need to develop a relationship with God.  You need to learn the doctrine, and the doctrine is inclusive.  It is loving, and the end of 2 Nephi 26 absolutely says that God denies none—what’s the exact quote? It says he denieth none.”

Dan, “He inviteth all.”

Marguerite continues, “He denieth none!  He denieth none that come unto him black and white, bond and free, male and female, and he, it says here specifically, remembereth the heathen and all are alike unto God, both Jew and gentile.  There’s nothing more clear than that, and yet we haven’t gotten it right yet.  We haven’t gotten it right yet.  We’re working towards it, now we get to keep working towards it and having these conversations to tell us guys, if it’s not one of those all are alike things, if you’re treating people differently, that’s contradictory to what we’ve already been told.  Don’t ask for a prophet to give you new revelation.  You’ve already got revelation.  How about you read it, and understand it, and then we don’t have to worry about making God tell us something else when he’s already told us, ‘hello. Why aren’t you listening?’”

Dan, “Right.  I thought of that verse too, and it’s sort of speaking to what you were talking about Gina.  This is the role of a prophet.  That verse kind of has that ideal, that calling you to Christ’s deep teaching stuff, a lot different than whatever it was that stuff that started the ban.   You know what I mean?  I think there’s a way to do that. We need to be careful, and we need to watch what you guys are all warning about, this rabbit hole, the dominos and all that stuff, but I can see it being done and it would lead towards—

Brad interrupts, “Dan can I say something in response?”

Dan, “Yeah, sure.”

Brad Kramer - By Common Consent blogger

Brad, “I think that when the conversation focuses on apology on the need or lack of need for an apology, I think it’s actually a real distraction,

Marguerite, “Yes it is.”

Brad continues, “because there’s something more important than apologizing.  Because you can apologize for the effects of something.  You can apologize that something hurt somebody without actually acknowledging that it was wrong.  An apology isn’t an essential step in the repentance process.

It may be, but it may not be, but what is absolutely essential is that you acknowledge the need of repentance in the first place.  You acknowledge that it was wrong, and if the Randy Bott debacle and all of its aftermath has taught us anything, it is that we are not past this issue in the church.”

Dan, “For sure.”

Brad, “This is a source of pain, this is a source of problems, this is still a millstone around our neck, an Achilles heel or whatever metaphor you want to use.  It seems obvious to me, you cannot get past this while at the same time refusing—we’re making it worse for ourselves because now we’re saying racism is bad, all racism, past and present, inside and outside the church is bad, is wrong we condemn it, but no comment on the ban.

That bespeaks a state of denial, an unwillingness to really come to terms with what the ban was, and the great evil that it entailed in the lives of millions and millions of children of God. If we are going to feel and experience and take in the full power of the atonement as a church, the power of the atonement to transform, to bring you back to a path of righteousness when you’ve gone astray, to lift you out of the mire of sin, we have to acknowledge it.  We have to at least be willing to say, regardless of whether there’s an apology to somebody, we have to be willing to say, you know what, it was racist and it was wrong.”

Dan, “And then you’ve added in some language, we need to repudiate it, disavow it, you know, that’s a lot different than apologize for how it’s harmed.  Yeah, and that’s clearly what your blog post points to.”

Brad, “Apology, no apology, it’s about contrition.  You cannot have the full power of Christ in your life without a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”

Marguerite, “I would ask though, I don’t disagree with the idea that you have to acknowledge the sin in order to repent of it and open you heart and make sure the stain is gone, but the church is millions of individuals.  How does an institution?  An institution has no soul.  It is merely the collection of everybody in it.  I think that we don’t want to set up on a path where—I mean I want to acknowledge all the individuals to that introspection that Dan was talking about to that kind of individual repentance.  If you get there, you’re done.  You can be done.  Does the institution itself have to say something?  Can an institution repent the way that you’re talking about?”

Brad, “I think it can I think it has to.”

Dan, “I do too, yeah.”

Gina, “Yeah me too.”

Brad continues, “I think on the one hand we’re called to repent.”

Marguerite interrupts, “Yes, but that’s individuals, that’s people. That’s the individuals in the Church.”

Brad continues, “Churches and nations and people, entire peoples are called to repentance.”

Marguerite, “But that’s the individuals, that’s individuals who are called to repentance.”

Dan, “No, I, I….”

Brad, “No.”

Marguerite, “How can an institution be condemned or saved?  It’s the people.  The church exists to save the individuals, and that’s why it exists.”

Brad, “The Church doesn’t exist for individuals, it exists to build Zion.  It exists to achieve potential as—“

Marguerite, “Yeah but what Zion?”

Brad continues, “As an institution.”

Marguerite, “What Zion?  But that’s just it.  The Church like the Sabbath—man was not invented for the Sabbath, Sabbath was invented for man.  And that’s the same thing as the Church.  Man was not invented for the church.  The church was instituted for man that we may learn and grow and get back to Heavenly Father.  So as an institution—”

Brad interrupts, “We don’t just do it as individuals, we do it as a society.  We depend on each other.  We are sealed together as a community. Zion.  The end result is not an individual association with God, it’s a kingdom.”

Marguerite, “No but its each individual has to be the part of that.”

Brad, “Right, I’m not saying—“

Dan, “It’s a both Marguerite.  I think you’re playing up the individual piece of it.  But I do think there’s a precedent for calling nations and things, especially this at this repudiation level, we have to absolutely not just explain it, we have to reject it.  Reject those structures.”

Marguerite, “I agree that this stuff is necessary. The Church has to take the lead in eradicating erroneous teachings wherever it finds them. And this is a whole bunch of erroneous stuff out there, and they need to absolutely correct that. But the reason is because people’s belief in those erroneous teachings then cuts them off from God.  It allows hatred and racism/discrimination to infect all of the individuals when the teaching is there. I think the Church has to get rid of that, but you know, sitting here as a black person, I don’t need anybody here to come and apologize to me.”

Brad, “I’m not asking anybody to apologize.”

Gina, “I want an apology.”

Dan, “All right!  Go Gina.”

Marguerite, ”I’m sorry Gina!”

Brad, “What I want though is I want us to acknowledge if we’re going to say that we need to eradicate false teachings, and the false teaching that we need to eradicate most is the false teaching that there was nothing wrong with the ban, that the ban wasn’t racist.”

Marguerite, “I agree, although I have not yet, I haven’t heard the Church’s statements are not saying there was nothing wrong with it, they just say we can’t explain where it came from.”

Brad, “They’re refusing to say that there was something wrong with it though.”

Marguerite, “Ummm, I guess I have to look at that. The current press release doesn’t really address that one way or another.  They acknowledge the existence of the ban, they say for a time it existed and they can’t explain why it existed.  It ended in ’78 and then they go—“

Brad, “Completely passing on the question of there being anything wrong with it.”

Dan, “It’s missing for sure.”

Marguerite, “Yeah, that’s what it is.  They’re passing on that.  They have not actually affirmative stated there was nothing wrong with it, they also have not affirmatively stated that it was something terribly wrong with it.”

Brad, “President Hinckley stated there was nothing wrong with it several years ago.  So it is something that does need—“

Marguerite, “What raised that?  What were his exact words?  Do you have that in front of you, because I actually read that just yesterday.  He didn’t say, ‘Oh, there was nothing wrong with it, what he did was—“

Brad, “He said it wasn’t wrong.”

Marguerite, “Is that was the quote was?  Because I don’t remember the ‘it was not wrong.’  I remember him deftly avoiding a couple of those questions that led directly to that and what he really said was it’s now over with and the revelation came and there was some language about, what was it?  I don’t have it in front of me anymore but I just read it the other day.  He did not say, ‘it was not wrong’, what he said was ‘this is over.  We don’t have the source of that policy was, but it is now gone, and why can’t we move past this?’  He left with the same kind of language he did in the Larry King interview.  You know why are we focusing on this when that’s past history.  Let’s focus and move forward.”

Brad, “Yeah, I’m just assuming we’re reading different things.”

Dan, “Could be, yeah, yeah.”

Brad, “He probably got asked about it quite often.”

Marguerite, “Oh I’m sure he did, but by the time he was on Larry King, you saw it.  He was expert at, he didn’t defend it, he didn’t condemn it.  He said it was, it existed, we don’t know what the source was.  It ended in ’78 and let’s talk about something else.  That’s kind of been the script for several years for ya know…”

Dan, “New script coming, please.  Let’s hope.”

Marguerite, “I don’t disagree that the conversation needs to happen, I just wanted to make sure that—I don’t want anybody’s focus, I don’t want any individuals, personal relationships or their testimonies with say the truths that are in the Book of Mormon and the truths that are in the gospel to be hindered by them waiting for a, you know an “I’m sorry”.  There are black people who joined the church when the ban existed and that kind of faith I don’t want to trivialize or minimize the amazing steps, the path that these people walked that quite frankly I have no idea if I would be able to walk at that time with that kind of faith, and with that kind of grace in the face of all that difficulty, extant, not just past, not just lingering, not just the artifacts, but in their faces every single day.  And that to me is tremendous faith in truths of the doctrine that isn’t tied to what other people think, what other people say.  I don’t want to ever deny someone the ability to walk that path.”

Brad, “No, I agree, and I don’t think that-that’s why I began that conversations about apology are sidestepping the main issue, which is that our unwillingness to acknowledge that it was wrong is still a stumbling block.”

Marguerite, “Well, and I would just add too that there’s a lot of other stumbling blocks to that conversation that people don’t have a good understanding of discrimination, they don’t have a good understanding of racism, and as long as they believe that they are not racist unless they possess animosity, hatred based on race, then this question can never be asked.  Because they will say there was no racism because there was no animosity.  “

Brad, “Right.”

Marguerite , “What we have to do first is let people know that discrimination based on race is racism no matter what your motives, no matter what your understanding.  If they have that, then people can start to do the light bulb will go off.  Oh my gosh!  That was discrimination, then that was racist.  We need to have that other conversation first.  We need to educate people as to ‘look guys this is discrimination.’ If somebody can be a religion professor at BYU for umpteen years and go into Washington Post saying that discrimination is merely denying people something that will be a benefit to them, we’ve got a lot of educating to do on that issue there before we can even get to the loftier issues that are the goal here.”

Dan, “Very good, thank you.  Hey guys we got to wrap this up.

What are your thoughts?  Do you agree with Marguerite or Brad on the appropriateness of an apology?  Can/Should an institution repent?

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83 Responses to Should the Church Apologize for the Ban?

  1. Mike S on June 11, 2012 at 1:47 AM

    I don’t really know if they need to “apologize”, but I do think it points to a fundamental problem – there is currently no way to actually determine doctrine in the LDS Church.

    We accept that prophets can speak for God. We also accept that prophets are men who speak their opinion. Unfortunately, the two are often conflated. Some people take opinion to be doctrine, while others perhaps dismiss what might be the level of “doctrine” because prophets have been “wrong” before.

    We have a simple solution for this. I assume that prophets and apostles have some way of knowing ABSOLUTELY that something is truly a revelation from God (because if not, what does that say, if even our leaders don’t really know how to communicate with God unambiguously?). If there is something that is a revelation / doctrine / etc., it can be added to our canonized scripture. It is a straightforward and unambiguous way of letting people know what is and what isn’t “doctrine”.

    If we did this, things like “apologizing” for the priesthood ban become fairly straightforward. Explain that the church leaders were well-meaning men who reflected the society around them. Explain that opinions were often conflated with doctrine. Apologize for anyone who might have been affected with this and reaffirm the current policy of no racism as explained by Hinckley. And then explain that to help avoid problems like this in the future, that actual revealed doctrine will be discussed and then added to our scriptural canon – as the word of God to man through His prophets.

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  2. Will on June 11, 2012 at 8:09 AM

    You only need to apologize if you have done something wrong.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 5

  3. Mike S on June 11, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    Will,

    You stated that an apology is only needed if you were wrong. With regards to the priesthood ban and blacks, Elder Bruce R McConkie said, “We were wrong”.

    So, I assume your logic implies an apology is in order.

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  4. ji on June 11, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    No, the Church doesn’t need to apologize.

    Those who hate the Church now will not be satisfied after an apology.

    “It ended in ’78 and let’s talk about something else.”

    In my mind, if there was an offense, the people responsible for the offense have been released from their callings. When a man or woman starts a calling in the Church, anywhere in the Church, he or she starts fresh in his or her ministry — he or she assumes no responsibility for the perceived errors of his or her predecessors in office.

    If there was an offense, what about forgiveness? Can’t those we read about above who portray themselves as so very offended take a step and forgive? And move forward? After all, the error has been corrected. Carrying a grudge can become so very heavy, so very tedious. It is so very liberating and refreshing to let it go. And it is redeeming, too — as one learns to forgive others, he or she finds forgiveness.

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  5. NewlyHousewife on June 11, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    I always thought the “We were wrong” statement WAS an apology. Just because it didn’t start with “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean it wasn’t sincere.

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  6. Brian on June 11, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    “Those who hate the Church now will not be satisfied after an apology.”

    I know that for me the only apology that I care to hear is that Joseph Smith is sorry for making the whole thing up.

    “I always thought the “We were wrong” statement WAS an apology. Just because it didn’t start with “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean it wasn’t sincere.”

    I have always viewed this as McConkie’s apology. He was not the church’s spokesman, no matter how he viewed himself.

    Controversial! What do you think? Thumb up 5

  7. Mormon Heretic on June 11, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    JI, an apology would be for people who love the church, not people who hate the church. Do you have any black Mormon friends? Do you think they would appreciate an apology?

    There’s a problem with ignoring the ban and wishing it would go away without acknowledging that anything was wrong. We’ve done that on lots of items related to Church history. Richard Bushman has said (in respect to the history of Joseph Smith),

    The problem is if you’re not accurate, then down the line you put your own credibility in jeopardy, and I just think all of our young people should feel they are really getting the straight story on Joseph Smith or they’re going to go through the experience you’ve had: disillusionment, anger. It’s a very sad thing and it’s unnecessary. We do need to avoid that.

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  8. Mormon Heretic on June 11, 2012 at 10:43 AM

    As for Bruce R. McConkie, I don’t think this is an apology. It was directed to Institute teachers, not the general church. If it’s an apology, why is it directed to Institute teachers? Let’s read the relevant parts found at http://speeches.byu.edu/reader/reader.php?id=11017

    We have read these passages and their associated passages for many years. We have seen what the words say and have said to ourselves, “Yes, it says that, but we must read out of it the taking of the gospel and the blessings of the temple to the Negro people, because they are denied certain things.” There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

    We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.

    It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the Gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the Gentiles.

    Obviously, the Brethren have had a great anxiety and concern about this problem for a long period of time, and President Spencer W. Kimball has been exercised and has sought the Lord in faith. When we seek the Lord on a matter, with sufficient faith and devotion, he gives us an answer. You will recall that the Book of Mormon teaches that if the Apostles in Jerusalem had asked the Lord, he would have told them about the Nephites. But they didn’t ask, and they didn’t manifest that faith; and they didn’t get an answer. One underlying reason for what happened to us is that the Brethren asked in faith; they petitioned and desired and wanted an answer—President Kimball in particular. And the other underlying principle is that in the eternal providences of the Lord, the time had come for extending the gospel to a race and a culture to whom it had previously been denied, at least as far as all of its blessings are concerned. So it was a matter of faith and righteousness and seeking on the one hand, and it was a matter of the divine timetable on the other hand. The time had arrived when the gospel, with all its blessings and obligations, should go to the Negro.

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  9. Cowboy on June 11, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    I don’t know what an apology would be good for. I also think it distracts from the core issue, ie, how could they have been wrong? When I read the racist quotes from early Church leaders, I get the feeling that these sentiments were not entirely their fault. They lived in a culture of racism, so naturally these views intermixed with their theology. That though, is where the rubber meets the runway. These early Church leaders come across very confident in their teachings. In other words, as far as they were concerned, they were declaring doctrine. So, clearly a Prophet can be wrong about theology and not know it. So, really, a Prophet provides very little value in terms of doctrine and revelation.

    The question raised in the discussion that I find interesting is articulated here:

    “Is the reluctance of the Church to respond in a more robust way, this worry that it’s going to undermine the members’ faith in prophetic revelation?”

    It’s a bit troubling that the ulterior motive would be centered around the fear of members losing confidence in prophetic revelation. I mean seriously – if these guy’s really were capable of revelation it wouldn’t hurt to give a sample once and a while. Good religious uplifting talks are nice I suppose, but that just isn’t what I have in mind when I think of “Prophets”.

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  10. Justin on June 11, 2012 at 11:38 AM

    The problem with Mike’s [#1] well-reasoned take on what the church ought to say:

    Explain that the church leaders were well-meaning men who reflected the society around them. Explain that opinions were often conflated with doctrine.

    is summed-up by Cowboy’s [#9] poignant question:

    how could they have been wrong?

    They can’t admit it was a mistake to strongly without opening up the discussion of how they could have been so mistaken at all.

    To admit that men sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators couldn’t get the priesthood ban thing right would do more than explain away that one doctrinal error — it would undermine any sort of super-natural or extra-ordinary position the seers and prophets are supposed to possess on any subject.

    Really — what is the point of the Salt Lake leadership if it says “Oh, well we couldn’t know better because nobody else did, etc.” — then what are they for?

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  11. Justin on June 11, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    The sentence:

    They can’t admit it was a mistake to strongly…

    should instead read:

    They can’t admit it was a mistake too strongly…

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  12. mapman on June 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    “it would undermine any sort of super-natural or extra-ordinary position the seers and prophets are supposed to possess on any subject.”

    No revelation was ever recorded for the priesthood/temple ban. It makes sense to think that prophets should only be expected to know more than everyone else when they receive revelation about it.

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  13. Justin on June 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    Mapman — the only problem with:

    It makes sense to think that prophets should only be expected to know more than everyone else when they receive revelation about it.

    is that I should then I also expect nothing to be enforced in cases where they don’t know anymore than anyone else. Why enforce a ban on black-African families entering the temple if there was no revelation?

    The point, for me, is that — an institution based on the notion that what the leaders say represents the very word of God can’t apologize for getting something wrong without calling into question the very premise upon which it is based.

    The problem ties back to a lack of prophetic and revelatory air about our leadership. We may sustain the men as prophets, seers, and revelators — but they demonstrably do not prophecy, receive visions, or reveal things.

    I’d be fine with the church of Christ legitimately having a ban on black-African families being denied access to the temple [I'd rather describe it that way because "priesthood-ban" is a too male-centered characterization of what took place, I think] — and then not having that ban later — if it could all be tied to a bona-fide revelation, from beginning to end. I could chalk it all up to the law of expediency at work. Etc.

    So I think the Salt Lake leadership are stuck, either way. An apology would help the church get past the racist doctrine of banning black-African families from the temple — but at the same time it would imply that the ban didn’t come by way of revelation [cause if it had, we wouldn't need to apologize for it] — which might then begin to show us what material the Emperor’s new clothes have been made of since then.

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  14. Bonnie on June 11, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    I’m with Marguerite. I see where she’s coming from as an attorney (her, not me) that the corporate entity doesn’t really exist, but is instead the sum of the individuals who direct it. In essence, Q12s for the whole last century are where we direct concern, and frankly, they’re dead. The onus is on us to forgive or be saddled with our lack of forgiveness because the interpersonal apology isn’t possible. The institution can’t apologize. The people who now direct the institution are not in possession of the facts in regards to the individuals who directed the institution when the ban was kept in place.

    I don’t minimize the pain and suffering this caused families who could not, in their entire lifetimes, be sealed to one another. As Marguerite also stated, I don’t minimize the faith required and exhibited by those who embraced the truth of the gospel even when it excluded them. Like pioneers getting themselves to Utah by walking (while we can fly), they accrue different blessings than do we, but ultimately, by virtue of proxy work, everyone is equal. THAT is one of the many things Holland was talking about when he gave his magnificent interpretation of the parable of the workers in the vineyard. It’s all fair at the end of the day.

    I don’t think the Lord of the vineyard owes anyone an apology because some of his mid-day servants stumbled. He has taken care of it. I understand that people has credible questions about what constitutes revelation. I don’t. I have my own hotline to God and I don’t have to take anything on blind faith. We have got to get more practiced checking with God to see if what is said applies to us in our individual circumstances and making adjustments as necessary, and standing accountable for that.

    To me, this demand for infallibility in a prophet is like people throughout history who want a king. I don’t need Q12s throughout history to be resurrected and apologize. They did the best they could. I can forgive and move on and I think haggling over an apology is distracting when it’s no longer affecting people and we have big fish to fry. If all this energy was focused on Africa – imagine the difference. Do good. Quit worrying about the past. I’m with Hinckley.

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  15. Bonnie on June 11, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    people *have* credible questions .
    If all this energy *were* focused on Africa.
    Good grief. Gotta get back to work.

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  16. hawkgrrrl on June 11, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    Two words that this exchange screams: white guilt. Notice that the people who forcefully want an apology are not the ones whose status was unequal, but those who are (rightly) ashamed of the racism of the past and how that makes us (and them) look by association. They don’t want an apology so much as an unequivocal repudiation that states our forebears never should have done it in the first place. That’s where the Q12 won’t go, not because of the implication that they are personally fallible, but because they are interpreting the past in the most charitable manner possible. When you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

    Marguerite’s point about those who were excluded and actually joined the church under those conditions are in a special class as faithful members, above and beyond the rest of us. Their sacrifices should also be honored.

    The simple truth is that there is no recorded revelation, therefore, “we don’t know why” is correct. Demanding apologies connotes entitlement. The ones who are entitled to it aren’t the ones asking for an apology in this case.

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  17. Bob on June 11, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Elder Packer and Elder Monson WERE THERE in the Q12 in 1978. Ask them to tell us what happened.

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  18. Mormon Heretic on June 11, 2012 at 4:44 PM

    Hawk, I know the picture doesn’t look like it, but in the introduction, Gina says that she is mixed-race (her father was a Maori from New Zealand.) I’m not sure if you heard the podcast with Darron Smith, formerly a black teacher at BYU. Darron was fired for advocating an apology on behalf of blacks.

    I’d like an apology, but I like Brad’s approach: the apology isn’t required, but I think the Church could at least acknowledge that the ban was wrong and should never have happened.

    There are those that don’t seem to want to cut the brethren any slack and seem to imply that the brethren should be infallible. When we look at the Bible, there are lots of fallible prophets: Jonah springs to mind with his desire to have Nineveh wiped out rather than repent. King David committed adultery and murder, yet the Psalms are some of the best-loved scriptures we have.

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  19. prometheus on June 11, 2012 at 5:11 PM

    2 things came to mind when I read this post.

    First, what exactly is the church? Are we talking the legal entity? The people of the church? The leadership of the church? Who exactly is apologizing to whom?

    Second, this lovely little bit of scripture:

    Mosiah 26:38-39

    “38 And now all these things did Alma and his fellow laborers do who were over the church, walking in all diligence, teaching the word of God in all things, suffering all manner of afflictions, being persecuted by all those who did not belong to the church of God.

    39 And they did admonish their brethren; and they were also admonished, every one by the word of God, according to his sins, or to the sins which he had committed, being commanded of God to pray without ceasing, and to give thanks in all things.”

    Alma and his priests admonished their brethren, which happens today, but our leadership is not admonished by anyone, really. There is absolutely no way of providing real feedback to anyone much higher than local authorities. In fact, all avenues of doing so have been expressly and deliberately cut off.

    How this is relevant – it seems to me that many of these types of issues of accountability and culpability would be easier to prevent if someone were ‘watching the watchers’, as it were. Not treating their every statement as though it were divinely dictated.

    This is kind of going to be left an incomplete-ish thought for now, but I think that there is a connection between our current adulation of our leaders and their inability to admit error.

    My last thought would be that we give far too much weight to the idea of the Church, whatever it may be. It doesn’t really exist in any concrete sense, but it looms so large in our eyes that we perhaps lose sight of some of the things that matter more, in the end.

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  20. Cowboy on June 11, 2012 at 7:47 PM

    “The simple truth is that there is no recorded revelation, therefore, “we don’t know why” is correct. Demanding apologies connotes entitlement. The ones who are entitled to it aren’t the ones asking for an apology in this case.”

    Perhaps, but coming from a Church that proclaims modern day revelation, it doesn’t really satisfy. In other words, if we would like to excuse the current leaders from the obligation of apologizing for the ban, on the grounds that “we don’t know why…”, then perhaps we should request that they instead apologize for not knowing why!

    Jokes aside, that would the pertinent question. “Why don’t you know?” and “what would it take to find out?”.

    Additionally, Bonnie’s comment is a bit conflicting to me.

    “I have my own hotline to God and I don’t have to take anything on blind faith.”

    At some level, I like this concept and the implication that we are each responsible for what God tell’s us (if anything). Where I struggle is in that the rest of the comment seems to reinforce the idea that Prophets are called of God. I’d ask, “why?”. Why would God waste his time calling Prophets to compel the masses, when each individual in the group can recieve direct feedback via their “direct hotline[s]“? It just doesn’t work for me organizationally or theologically.

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  21. Bonnie on June 11, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    Prometheus: “My last thought would be that we give far too much weight to the idea of the Church, whatever it may be. It doesn’t really exist in any concrete sense, but it looms so large in our eyes that we perhaps lose sight of some of the things that matter more, in the end.” YES. This. It’s a way of avoiding a personal relationship. The church is a wonderful tool, but it cannot eclipse what it serves – the gospel. This is exactly what I was saying that won me nearly most disliked comment.

    Cowboy: I believe in the natural conflict of oppositional principles. We have to maintain balanced tension between lots of these, and the tension between obedience of leaders and independent verification was taught by Joseph, and was taught by Christ. Pay your taxes, take care of the poor. Perform your sacrifices, don’t be distracted by sinful people performing them for you. Live in tension.

    MH – I actually like the idea of an acknowledgment too, but I think we’ve gotten that. “We don’t know where it came from” and “we don’t support racism” are significant statements. “It was wrong” is an impossible statement to make because we just don’t know enough. I’m with Hawk on this.

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  22. hawkgrrrl on June 11, 2012 at 8:35 PM

    Bob – being around in 1978 isn’t the question, unless you are saying (as some reporters have) that anyone who was an adult member of the church in 1978 has some ‘splainin’ to do. Maybe, maybe not. I inherited the job I’m in now from a predecessor, and some parts of it are a huge mess. Do I have to apologize for the actions of my predecessor? Do I trash his reputation because I know better (even though whatever I do can certainly be trashed by my own successor if her views or style differ from mine)? Or do I say something charitable like I’m sure he had his reasons for what he did, but here’s what I’m doing now?

    Also, the church is purportedly a theocracy, but is in practical terms an oligarchy. Who bears the responsibility for instituting a new doctrine that isn’t documented? There are 3 possibly accountable parties:
    - Do we blame those who put it in place (when we don’t know who that was)?
    - Do we blame those who perpetuated it, justifying the positions of their predecessors unquestioningly? (Based on what David O. McKay said about his desire to repeal the ban but the firm revelatory answer that he could not, does that mean people were justified in rationalizing it? Do we blame God? Do we blame David O. McKay? Do we blame the ones who questioned it but didn’t feel qualified to repeal it?)
    - Do we blame those who repealed the ban for not doing it apologetically enough or saying what we think they should have in 1978?

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  23. Geoff-A on June 11, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    I believe it would be helpful to have an explanation that included that it was racism, and an apology. I have put it in my HP group that the ban was a mistake and racism and no one agrees with me. Most members are like R Bott still justifying it.

    I can not believe that the Lord is racist so it is also appearent that revelation is something the Lord gives in response to request, as opposed to imposing, when he sees the leaders going astray. We should be able to petition for the Prophet to request of the Lord an answer for the church on issues that concern us.

    Obviously the ban was not the Gospel but the culture of the leaders. I guess the problem they have is that there is no revelation about Gay marriage or women not having the priesthood, so the same statement that applies to racism could apply to them “we don’t know why or when the practice began, but it has ended”

    In Australia we had government instituted racism until almost as late as the church. One conservative Prime minister refused to apoligise because he was not responsible. His successor apoligised and there was a sense of joy around the country like there was around the world when Obama was elected.

    If I had been beating my wife, and the Bishop asked me to explain to a church court, would it be sufficient for me to say I have stopped and dont think any more needs to be said. No contrition, no apology, no explanation, just I’ve stopped now? I don’t think so!

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  24. Stephen Marsh on June 11, 2012 at 9:08 PM

    Hawk, it is easy to forget that we have a good biblical example of the sort of apology Moses gave when he had some ‘spaining to do.

    After all, his other wife showed up one day in the camp. The story of Moses, Miriam and Aaron shows just how we should call leaders to account and what God thinks of us when we do.

    http://bible.cc/numbers/12-1.htm is a link to where the story starts, in case it is not clear enough for people.

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  25. Bob on June 11, 2012 at 9:09 PM

    @22:hawkgrrrl,
    “Being around in 1978…”
    Elder Monson and Elder Packer were IN THE ROOM” in 1978 with SWK. Yet I still hear no one is around to ask what happened. These men are not your predecessors, they are your leaders now.

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  26. Stephen Marsh on June 11, 2012 at 9:10 PM

    Based on what David O. McKay said about his desire to repeal the ban but the firm revelatory answer that he could not, does that mean people were justified in rationalizing it? Do we blame God? Do we blame David O. McKay? Do we blame the ones who questioned it but didn’t feel qualified to repeal it?

    That point has come up a number of times.

    The normal response I get from “progressives” who are much more righteous and inspired that President McKay is that he obviously was not asking the question the right way and so God was merely rebuffing him.

    I think your analysis of people’s motivations, positions and approaches is more than solid.

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  27. Stephen Marsh on June 11, 2012 at 9:48 PM

    And as for those who stated that God told them it was a calling, not a curse, Two words that this exchange screams: white guilt.

    Not to mention an entitlement to ascribe that our understanding is greater than theirs.

    Ok, I’m ill tempered tonight, for reasons other than this post, so I am probably not as patient about the discussion as I should be, but, seriously …

    I listened to McConkie get asked about his statements in Mormon Doctrine. He said “I [McConkie pause]. Was wrong.”

    Clear, direct, no excuses. Feel free to read into his other addresses as you want, after all … http://www.feministmormonhousewives.org/2012/06/thoughts-from-sunday-school-eliza-on-judging/ need not apply to anyone who is commenting here and judging past general authorities, our light and knowledge and spiritual discernment being so much greater …

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  28. FireTag on June 11, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    Geoff-A raises some good points. What I find missing in all of this discussion, however, is the idea that a Christ who is still trying to redeem the very people who are crucifying Him might have been applying the same principle in trying to redeem the racists. After all, their souls were in greater danger than the souls of their victims.

    Sorting out human screw ups from God’s actions taken because of human screw ups is going to be hard to sort out until we have a God-eye view. But the resistance so many still have in saying it was even wrong in the first place is evidence of how far 44 years ago is from the world of today.

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  29. Mormon Heretic on June 11, 2012 at 11:04 PM

    What I think would be really helpful is a repudiation of past justifications of the ban so that we don’t have any more Randy Bott episodes.

    I think Armand Mauss in the book Black and Mormon explains why it is so hard for many Mormons to repudiate the ban.

    To repudiate any of the cherished religious lore of their immediate ancestors seems to some Mormons, especially the older ones, almost like a repudiation of the grandparents themselves, to say nothing of their teachers, who might have walked with God.

    He also talks about why continuity is important in the church, and why it is hard for the organization to repudiate the ban.

    Thus, when the priesthood restriction policy was dropped in 1978, this change was not portrayed as an actual reversal, since several earlier church leaders had predicted it would happen. (Of course, several others, including Brigham Young predicted it would never happen.) Even with the earlier abolition of polygamy, the practice was only “suspended” and could be restored at any time, since the theological basis was left intact. This myth of continuity has the important function of validating the traditional claim of continuous revelation (which is canonical) and protecting the church against the charge of purely pragmatic and expedient change.

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  30. Mormon Heretic on June 11, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    For those that say we should “forgive and forget”, Mauss calls that idea “dubious.”

    The second cherished organizational myth is related to the first: the myth of history as time-filtered–the organizational equivalent of the old adage that “time heals all wounds”–and similarly dubious ideas. This myth is typically accompanied by an organizational posture of benign and selective forgetfulness. Thus, if the church progresses in a continuous, linear path by divine guidance, then contemporary realities and understandings replace those from the past, which will eventually be forgotten. Obsolete ideas and practices simply don’t count any more, even if they originated as divine revelations. Where discrepancies appear between the present and the past, there is no point in reminding ourselves about the past. Especially if an event in the past is embarrassing, then recalling it and dwelling on it, even if only to repudiate it, merely confuses the matter. Such negative thinking has no place in the Lord’s kingdom. If harm has resulted from earlier ways of thinking, then everyone involved should forgive everyone else and get on with construction a better future. Apologies or ringing declarations of disavowal should not be necessary, since few peoples or individuals have histories free of offenses against others, and thus few are in a position to demand apologies. With time, memories of these offenses will fade automatically, and we will all be better for it. Meanwhile, if we have not made the requisite changes, let’s not stir up useless and uncomfortable old memories.

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  31. wreddyornot on June 11, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    I turned 30 on June 8, 1978. I’m sorry now that I didn’t do more, because my conscience told me before the change that the ban wasn’t right. I was wrong to not have done more than I did to express myself on the topic within the Church considering what my conscience was telling me.

    I’d like, at least, to hear from President Monson and Elder Packer on two issues: first, what were their consciences telling them about the ban before the change; second, do they feel they were wrong to not have done more? Perhaps all the general authorities could make similar declarations.

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  32. Glenn Thigpen on June 12, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    If any of the panelists or posters have received a revelation that all of the presidents before Spencer W. Kimball were wrong about the priesthood ban, please let the rest of us know.
    Without that revelation, anyone can prate about the priesthood ban being wrong all day and all night, forever, and be no nearer the truth than we were in 1955, 1967, or 1977.
    Those who are trying to confine revelation only as a response to requests, which apparently also have to be framed correctly, are ignoring the many revelations which God has given to his prophets which did not come as requests or questions by those prophets.
    Such is the case when God removed the priesthood from among the children of Israel in general and only allowed it among he lineage of Lehi.
    The same type of event happened when Peter recei9ved his vision in Acts chapter 10 where he is commanded to take the Gospel message to the Gentiles.
    Armand Mauss is wrong on at least one thing. Brigham Young did not predict that the ban would never be lifted, although he probably did not think that it would happen in this mortal life.
    The same speech where he affirmed that the ban came from the Lord, he also said that one day the lineage of Cain would have all of the blessings that everyone else had, and more.
    That event came about exactly as he had set forth.

    Glenn

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  33. Mike S on June 12, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    #32 Glenn: If any of the panelists or posters have received a revelation that all of the presidents before Spencer W. Kimball were wrong about the priesthood ban, please let the rest of us know.
    Without that revelation, anyone can prate about the priesthood ban being wrong all day and all night, forever, and be no nearer the truth than we were in 1955, 1967, or 1977.

    It is obviously all speculation, as I don’t think that any of us “have received a revelation that all of the presidents before Spencer W. Kimball were wrong about the priesthood ban”. I’ll just take Elder McConkie’s statement as the best clarification of it, where HE basically said the prior leaders were wrong. Unless, of course, he too was wrong in saying that statement, in which case the prior leaders were actually RIGHT in creating the priesthood ban and McConike was WRONG in saying that the leaders were WRONG.

    In any event, the lack of clarification on this (and other issues) presents a more significant problem for current leaders, as we don’t really know what things they are saying are personal opinion and which are actually God’s will. Ultimately, that shouldn’t really matter as our relationship should be between us and God directly, and not with the Church. But it does make singing the song, “Follow the prophet” somewhat dogmatic and ironic.

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  34. Mormon Heretic on June 12, 2012 at 12:41 AM

    Glenn, good to see you. Time to tangle on this issue again I guess. I have a few quibbles.

    Those who are trying to confine revelation only as a response to requests, which apparently also have to be framed correctly, are ignoring the many revelations which God has given to his prophets which did not come as requests or questions by those prophets.

    Well, let’s look at D&C 9, shall we? It does seem that we are to frame things correctly. Oliver “took no thought save it was to ask me.” Then God told him to “study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you.” If we approach the Lord the wrong way, we will not get the right answer.

    As for Brigham Young, he declared that the ban would end “When all the other children of Adam have had the privilege of receiving the Priesthood…. it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity.” (Journal of Discourses, 2:142-43, 3 Dec. 1854.) Just exactly when will all other children of Adam have had the priesthood? I’d say after the “end of the world” because all of Adams other children would have to be born first.

    I’m not sure of the speech you refer to when you said, The same speech where he affirmed that the ban came from the Lord, he also said that one day the lineage of Cain would have all of the blessings that everyone else had, and more. I checked the 1852 speech to the territorial legislature, but I didn’t see what you’re referring to. Can you provide me a reference?

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  35. Mormon Heretic on June 12, 2012 at 12:43 AM

    One other thing Glenn, how to you feel about McConkie’s statement to “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”???

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  36. UnderCover Brother on June 12, 2012 at 4:58 AM

    #5 NewlyHousewife:

    The “We were wrong” statement by BRM in 1978 was not an apology. His comments were in relation to the timing of when the ban was to be lifted. As MH stated, BY declared the ban would be lifted after all the other children of Adam had the privilege of receiving the priesthood. BRM was talking in relation to these statements that he and other GAs believed were ‘doctrine’ at the time.

    How do we know this? Because the revised 1979 edition of, ‘Mormon Doctrine’, was updated to include the fact that all worthy male members could receive the priesthood, but the underpinning ‘doctrines’ of the ban (the curse of Cain & Ham, a mark of a dark skin) were left in by BRM.

    So, no. That was not an apology. Like his book, ‘Mormon Doctrine’, the “We were wrong” statement continues to cause problems for members of the Church.

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  37. UnderCover Brother on June 12, 2012 at 5:53 AM

    Hi MH –

    Thanks for doing this. Very interesting. And thanks to all for your comments. Some thoughts:

    I think there needs to be some sort of recognition that the ban was wrong and racist. As Brad said, it is a source of pain, a source of problems and still a millstone around ‘our’ necks.

    It was Brad’s use of the word ‘our’ that struck me when I heard it. We have people, black and white, members and non-members, who see this ban as painful, problematic and a millstone. We have an ‘Institution’ that has the power to ease the pain, minimize the problem and lift the millstone. And they chose not to. Why?

    At the same time, we also have people, black and white, members and non-members, who saw the baptism of the Jewish dead as painful, problematic and a millstone. We have an ‘Institution’ that has the power to ease the pain, minimize the problem and lift the millstone. And they chose to. Why?

    Why was one worthy of an apology by the ‘Institution’ and the other not?

    Do any of us believe that Christ would want to see members of His Church in pain and with millstones around their necks? Yet I believe that the ‘Institution’ doesn’t even recognize that its members are in pain they could ease and laden with millstones that they could so easily lift. So what is there for them to apologize for?

    And that is the saddest part of all.

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  38. Stephen Marsh on June 12, 2012 at 6:35 AM

    What I find missing in all of this discussion, however, is the idea that a Christ who is still trying to redeem the very people who are crucifying Him might have been applying the same principle in trying to redeem the racists. After all, their souls were in greater danger than the souls of their victims.

    Sorting out human screw ups from God’s actions taken because of human screw ups is going to be hard to sort out until we have a God-eye view.

    So, do we apologize for God’s actions taken because of human screw-ups.

    “Sorry folks, God was wrong and we apologize for it.”

    Is that what people are expecting?

    Or

    “Sorry folks, God had to deal with fallible humans and was trying to save them, sorry about that.”

    Or

    “Sorry folks, but if God had moved sooner we would have ended up with a defacto segregated church like all of the following …, sorry about not stepping into the mistakes they made.”

    or

    “Sorry folks, we know of the revelation that it was a calling, not a curse, but as white folks we are going to redefine that as a mistake and assert that white guilt is more important than a Black perspective and revelation, so we are apologizing.”

    or

    “Sorry folks. We don’t know why the practice was in place, there are lots of theories and some revelations, but we’ve decided to reject them all and close off the discussion. We don’t need any more light and knowledge.”

    or

    “Sorry folks. David O. McKay and others prayed about ending the practice and were given direction that it was not time. We don’t know why, but we feel now that we can authoritatively tell you that God was wrong then and we are apologizing for him and for those past presidents of the Church.”

    Which apology do you want? How satisfied would you be if you got all of them?

    “So easily lift.”

    Indeed. Come back when you’ve had the room fill with light and heard the voice of God on the subject. Then we can talk.

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  39. Stephen Marsh on June 12, 2012 at 6:42 AM

    My perspective comes from confirming a Black man a member of the Church in the mid-70s, before the ban ended, and, during that process much to my surprise having it revealed to me that the ban would end well within the lifetime of apostles then serving.

    Oh, and previously being in the room filled with light when the voice of God spoke to someone else.

    I think we simplify things too much, deny God too much, take too much pride in our own perspective, too much demand in our own needs, pray too little, reach out to God and others not enough.

    I read a lot on this subject, almost all of it seems to be like shallow whining, bad emotional argument or petty faithlessness.

    I’ve been there when McConkie was questioned about what he had written. He made no bones about having been wrong. Clear, direct, unqualified. Now, I’ve had less than kind thoughts about him, but this is the wrong thing to pick at him over.

    He served when others would not, at great cost to himself, when others would not pay the price.

    Perhaps I should do a poll on which apology people want the Church to make, which implications and matters they want explained and apologized for.

    Perhaps not.

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  40. UnderCover Brother on June 12, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    #38 Stephen Marsh:

    I am not challenging your spiritual experiences, but I hope you don’t mind if I push back a little.

    Are you saying you are basing your perspective on something that took place over 34 years ago and your experience of the room being filled with light when the voice spoke to someone else was previous to that time-frame?

    Have you spoken to an active black person (who was also a member pre-ban) in the last six months about this? What were their feelings when Prof Bott opened his mouth? I have personally spoken to some and there is still some pain for them, their families and the generation below them. They feel it can be lifted, Stephen Marsh.

    Can I suggest that rather than base your perspective on something that happened a long time ago, please go and speak to your active black friends, brothers and sisters, now and test whether your perspective is as true today as was then and let me know. Then we can talk.

    Happy to take this offline if easier for you. I don’t want to thread jack.

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  41. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 12, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Have not talked with anyone in the last year. I need to get a video back from someone I home taught for some time. She will want an update on my mom anyway. I was going to wait until the reception in August, but I have missed them.

    But the topic has been on my mind (and it was more than one experience). For a long time.

    And pain is always pain, for which we should do what we can.

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  42. Brian on June 12, 2012 at 12:18 PM

    “And pain is always pain, for which we should do what we can.”

    I care so little about religion when I read things like your #38 but really appreciated this.

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  43. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 12, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Brian, the core of what we do should be to care for others, share and relieve their pain, and share their burdens.

    The rest is just working within realizing that things are not obvious. The theory of the second best is more than pretty math — it is a stark warning.

    That given, that given, there is no propose for religion if it is not pure religion.

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  44. Glenn Thigpen on June 12, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    MH said:”One other thing Glenn, how to you feel about McConkie’s statement to “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”???

    It is right there in my post. The present revelation did not affirm that the priesthood ban was wrong or that it did not originate from God. It did affirm that those who thought it would not be in this life time were mistaken in their opinions.

    Glenn

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  45. Cowboy on June 12, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Hi Bonnie:

    In advance of my comment I’d like to say that I don’t believe your comments deserved so many dislikes. I think I’d like to disagree a little, but not dislike.

    “Cowboy: I believe in the natural conflict of oppositional principles. We have to maintain balanced tension between lots of these, and the tension between obedience of leaders and independent verification was taught by Joseph, and was taught by Christ. Pay your taxes, take care of the poor. Perform your sacrifices, don’t be distracted by sinful people performing them for you. Live in tension.”

    I agree that Joseph Smith taught both concepts, but I don’t know that he ever taught the “tension” concept. I think that is inferred. To a greater degree I think the same applies to Jesus. I don’t think for example, Jesus was making a moral or religious argument when he encouraged followers to pay taxes. Rather he was encouraging people to choose their battles wisely. Additionally, he was never upholding the long-standing authority of the Jewish authorities, but rather broke those institutions down.

    So, while the “tension” concept is interesting, I wonder why you feel that we need this “balanced tension”. What purpose does it serve? Lehi of course spoke of opposition in all things, but I don’t think his point was the point you are trying to make. His thesis was to justify the necessity of Satan in God’s plan.

    Thanks

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  46. Bonnie on June 12, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    Well-reasoned, Cowboy. I agree that it’s my Eastern philosophy creeping in which I find validation for in the teachings of Jesus and others, but, as you rightly point out, none of them overtly taught.

    At the same time, the words of Christ and Joseph and many others are of necessity limited, and nobody particularly asked that question. So it isn’t precluded by absence.

    So, I press forward with my yin/yang theory with impunity. ;)

    Still, don’t you think there’s at least a little merit to it? We must be obedient, perfectly, but we must also marry that with independence and personal accountability. We must be self-sufficient, but we must be interdependent. We follow the prophet, and we follow the spirit.

    While many people describe this as taking a middle of the road approach (averaging the distance between the two extremes) I suggest perfecting the extremes into a unity of opposites. I don’t want to have marginal self-sufficiency and marginal interdependence. I want to maximize both and each.

    I’m reminded of the incredible energy of an atomic nucleus in which incredible forces of opposition remain in balance, not diminishing one another. Atoms are electrically neutral when they have equal numbers of protons and electrons, not because they cancel one another out but because the balance one another.

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  47. Cowboy on June 12, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    The reason I like your comment is because I think you are presenting a rather interesting idea. The concept of “balanced tension” stimulates a visual that I can relate to, so I get (I think) exactly what you are saying.

    My only issue is that I am not certain this is a subject that Joseph Smith or Jesus ever had in mind. However, as you say, their teachings don’t invalidate what you are saying, so far as I am aware. So yes, I suppose there is some merit to it, though I must admit that my personal perspective as to why these “opposites” are reinforced, is a bit more cynical.

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  48. Bob on June 12, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    In Baseball, there is a moment when you want your pitcher or batter in a “““balanced tension”. But when the ball is pitched, you want that tension changed to “Action”. Then something totally new happens, and the game goes forward. Otherwise, “balanced tension” has no movement.

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  49. Mormon Heretic on June 12, 2012 at 8:50 PM

    Stephen, I find all of your options for an apology disappointing. Part of that has to do with the brevity of your responses, but none of them are heartfelt, and all of them blame God for the ban. Blaming man is much more palatable than blaming God, in my opinion. When we blame God for the ban, (1) we make God a racist, and I just don’t believe God is a racist, (2) such a proposal contradicts with the idea that God loves all, black and white, bond and free, male and female, and (3) we believe that men should be punished for their own sins, not Cain/Ham’s transgression (or Adam’s.)

    Now I understand that some will wonder how a prophet could have made such and error, but the Bible is full of prophets that made errors. We need to lose this “infallibility” idea. It is much easier for me to understand that even prophets “see through a glass darkly”, rather than God is a racist.

    So, here’s my first attempt at a better apology/repudiation of the ban. I haven’t run it by the Genesis Group, but I think it’s better than what you’ve offered to this point.

    As it says in the Articles of Faith, “we believe in prophets, apostles, pastors, evangelists, and so forth.” Prophets have been called in these latter days to lead us back to Christ. We believe Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and all church leaders up through Thomas Monson are prophets.

    Some ideas contradict each other. In the Book of Acts, some Christians believed circumcision was required for baptism, while others did not. Both groups relied on scriptures and revelation to support their position. Sometimes such situations arise, and it is important to rely on revelation to get through such controversies.

    Some prophets and apostles have tried to explain the ban by appealing to scriptures. However, such attempts do not mesh with other scriptures. 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. So there have been some misconceptions of scripture to explain the ban. Such explanations are incorrect.

    Some church leaders have speculated that blacks were less valiant in the pre-mortal life. This too is incorrect. Not only does it not mesh with the idea that men should be punished for their own sins, but there is no scriptural support for this idea. Indeed, the Book of Mormon states that members of the church were foreordained to hold the priesthood; there is no prescription to exclude any races in this injunction.

    We repudiate such ideas, and call upon all members of the Church to stop trying to promote such ideas. We know that many of our black friends have been hurt by the ban, and we apologize for these errors which crept into the church. With the 1978 revelation, the exclusion from the priesthood and temple no longer exist, and we are profoundly grateful for the Lord’s guidance in removing the ban, and his hand in correcting errors in the church.

    Every prophet has a special calling. Joseph Smith was called to bring about the restoration of the gospel to the earth. Brigham Young was called to lead the exodus out west, and has been called “an American Moses.” All prophets have led the Church in the way they have been inspired by God. Joseph Smith taught that a prophet is only a prophet when he is acting as such. Prophets are not infallible, but they are inspired by God, and lead us in the ways that God wants. We hope members will continue to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in matters of doctrine, as our prophets do so that we can become a prophetic people.

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  50. Stephen Marsh on June 12, 2012 at 9:03 PM

    Mormon Heretic — I like your statement. I would not have any problem with that at all, it seems to be what the Church is currently saying.

    The short summaries I gave are what a number of people’s positions resolve to, which is much different from what you’ve just said, which is how I feel.

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  51. Stephen Marsh on June 12, 2012 at 9:27 PM

    MH, all I would add to your statement is some sort of reprise to President Hinkley’s priesthood session talk where he addressed prejudice.

    Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church 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?

    Throughout my service as a member of the First Presidency, I have recognized and spoken a number of times on the diversity we see in our society. It is all about us, and we must make an effort to accommodate that diversity.

    Let us all recognize that each of us is a son or daughter of our Father in Heaven, who loves all of His children.

    Brethren, there is no basis for racial hatred among the priesthood of this Church. If any within the sound of my voice is inclined to indulge in this, then let him go before the Lord and ask for forgiveness and be no more involved in such

    Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Need for Greater Kindness,” Ensign (May 2006), 58–61.

    I also would note http://www.ldsgenesisgroup.org/allcritters.html for anyone who wants a start at a better discussion on some of the points.

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  52. Stephen Marsh on June 12, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    In fact, given that Elder Holland and others have said things such as “One clear-cut position is that the folklore must never be perpetuated” I think that such a statement is consistent with the positions that the Church has taken.

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  53. Glenn Thigpen on June 12, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    MH, If God had instituted the ban, it would not have made Him a racist. You are erecting that strawman by defining using the definition of racist put forth by the panel, which is not the dictionary definition. The dictionary definition says “hatred or intolerance of another race or other races”.

    You have opined that God is not much of an interventionist in the affairs of man, and that is apparent, but the affairs of man and the affairs of His Church are quite a bit different. Even if God did not institute the ban, He allowed it to continue for over one hundred and forty years.

    Do you recall how He intervened in the case of Ananias and Sapphira when they did nothing more than lie about the extent of their consecration efforts to Peter.

    So, based upon your viewpoint, if asked about the priesthood ban by a black who is investigating the church, what would you say?

    As honest as you seem to be would you tell him or her the truth as you see it? Would you tell him or her that the church is led by prophets, at times, but the Lord, who says that He is the head of the church, allows His chosen leaders sometimes to institute policies that are incorrect and illegally and immorally withhold blessings to deserving people.

    Glenn

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  54. MIke S on June 12, 2012 at 11:01 PM

    #53 Glenn: So, based upon your viewpoint, if asked about the priesthood ban by a black who is investigating the church, what would you say?

    I would tell them:

    Our prophets are men. They are influenced by their backgrounds and their surrounding culture. They try their best to do God’s will and are lead by promptings and feelings. Ultimately, however, they are men. They are generally right, but sometimes they are wrong.

    In this case, the Church’s early leaders institutionalized cultural racism. There was no scriptural support for this ban. There was no other good explanation. Like any large institution, there is momentum resisting change. Eventually, as societal values changed, the Church responded by changing their policy. I wish the ban never existed, and I wish that the leaders would have been more proactive and changed it sooner, but it is what it is.

    The important thing now is that ALL men can find a path back to Christ within the LDS Church. This is the path I’ve chosen, and if it appeals to you, I’d love to tell you more about it.

    And that’s what I’d tell the person investigating the Church.

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  55. Bonnie on June 12, 2012 at 11:09 PM

    Bob (by the way, I’m not the one who dissed your comment – I seldom do that even when I disagree) I understand your tension/action metaphor, but I believe there is all kinds of action possible with something held in balance. Indeed, immense potential energy resides in a simple atom, held together in balance.

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  56. Mormon Heretic on June 12, 2012 at 11:52 PM

    Glenn, it is you with the strawman. Your definition is just one. This is from dictionary.com

    rac·ism   [rey-siz-uhm]
    noun
    1. a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule others.
    2. a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
    3. hatred or intolerance of another race or other races.

    Now, notice your favored definition is 3rd. The first 2 “dictionary” definitions seem to apply quite well, as noted in this quote from Brigham Young immediately following his statement that Africans can’t get priesthood until all of Adam’s seed does (address to legislature 1852):

    Now then in the kingdom of God on the earth, a man who has the Affrican blood in him cannot hold one jot nor tittle of priesthood; Why? because they are the true eternal principals the Lord Almighty has ordained, and who can help it, men cannot. the angels cannot, and all the powers of earth and hell cannot take it off, but thus saith the Eternal I am, what I am, I take it off at my pleasure, and not one partical of power can that posterity of Cain have, until the time comes the says he will have it taken away. That time will come when they will have the privilege of all we have the privelege of and more. In the kingdom of God on the earth the Affricans cannot hold one partical of power in Government. The the subjects, the rightfull servants of the resedue of the children of Adam, and the resedue of the children through the benign influence of the Spirit of the Lord have the privilege of seeing to the posterity of Cain; inasmuch as it is the Lords will they should receive the spirit of God by Baptisam; and that is the end of their privilege; and there is not power on earth to give them any more power.

    As you well know, our church claims the proper authority to baptize and administer the kingdom of God. Brigham Young established a theocracy in Utah, with himself as head. He wasn’t about to let an African rule with priesthood power. So definition #1 fits to a T.

    Additionally, let’s quit talking about your favored dictionary definition of racism and realize that the panel’s definition is dictionary definition #2.

    Mike answered the question about what I would say to a black man–I couldn’t have said it better.

    at times, but the Lord, who says that He is the head of the church, allows His chosen leaders sometimes to institute policies that are incorrect and illegally and immorally withhold blessings to deserving people.

    Yes, God did that in the Bible, and he does it in our times too. Don’t you remember that Paul was forced to participate in a circumcision despite his claim that circumcision wasn’t necessary? God allows lots of things that aren’t right, but in the long run, His will is revealed. God allowed Paul to say in 1 Corinthians 14:34 that women should remain silent in the churches, but we don’t believe that any more do we? God allowed slavery in the Bible, but we don’t think it is God-sanctioned now, do we?

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  57. Mormon Heretic on June 13, 2012 at 12:16 AM

    Glenn, with respect to Elder McConkie, his statement is interesting for these reasons. At face value, he said “forget everything” that he or Brigham Young said. At face value, one could make the case that pre-mortal explanations, or the Book of Abraham should be forgotten in relation to the ban because leaders spoke with limited light and knowledge on the subject. At face value, it’s a great statement.

    However, as Under Cover Brother said, Bruce didn’t follow his own advice in Mormon Doctrine. Bruce didn’t “forget everything.” His 1979 edition still contains errors about blacks in the pre-mortal life.

    Now the church’s statement from Feb 29 seems to repudiate at least the Book of Abraham that Bott quoted. The Washington Post article also states As recently as 1949, church leaders suggested that the ban on blacks resulted from the consequences of the “conduct of spirits in the pre-mortal existence.”

    It seems that the church indirectly refutes that explanation as well, though they haven’t come out directly to condemn either line of reasoning. That’s why it would be nice for the church to come out with a statement specifically condemning these–the Feb 29 statement could be construed that way, but it is a stretch. We’re not clear exactly what the Church is condemning, but they are simply stating that “It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church.” Leaving it ambiguous like that doesn’t really solve the Bott problem.

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  58. Douglas on June 13, 2012 at 3:47 AM

    MH, it’s arrogant of you to demand any apology, especially when only two of the Quorum of the Twelve were there being alive today (Monson and Packer). Even had they advocated vociferously to have the PH ban lifted, ultimately the decision would have rested with the Presidents of the Church that they served under (McKay,Fielding-Smith,Lee, and Kimball..sounds like a Salt Lake law firm, don’t it?). And no, regardless of what they saw, they wouldn’t necessarily be in a position to disclose what they experienced. Keep in mind that a far more significant event witnessed by Peter, James, and John, the transfiguration of the Savior, they were commanded not to disclose until after His resurrection. Since neither you or I have held that calling, it’s awfully presumptuous of anyone to demand that Presidents Monson and Packer share their experiences related to the PH ban lifting.
    Folks that demand an “apology” or explanation, or other forms of second-guessing and back-seat driving, seem to forget that regardless of the reason, the Lord isn’t in the habit of explaining Himself (D&C 1:38). That’s what faith is about. It took being an exasperated Dad and Grandpa to stand my ground and declare, “because I SAID so!”. Rank has its privileges.
    Also, McConkie would not have necessarily had the opportunity or inclination to immediately revise his “Mormon Doctrine” book, so even his own “erroneous” writings might not have been IMMEDIATELY edited. I’m fairly certain that notwithstanding Bro. Bruce’s excellent scholarship, most of his fellow GAs would likely have not objected to taking the work out of print altogether. The title alone was too dangerous to be a work that the Apostle himself was solely responsible for. Nice attempt, though. BRMcK had the same intellectual guts that James Talmadge had. Haven’t seen ANYONE on their level since, and we’ve got some bright people in our time. A form of “iron men in wooden ships being replaced by…”. Everything that McConkie referred to as being “error” regarding the erstwhile PH ban was speculation on the reasons, which he slammed-dunked ASAP. Elder Dallin Oak’s counsel, that he doesn’t know himself why and feels it useless to speculate, observing that most prior speculations have been proved spectacularly wrong.
    Ultimately, the question comes down to whether or not the Church is being led by a living Prophet and the will of the Lord is communicated therein. Either you accept it or not. If so, accept some things on faith and in time you’ll get your answer(s). If not, then nay-say all you want. The Lord’s elect know whose voice matters.

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  59. Bob on June 13, 2012 at 4:16 AM

    #55:Bonnie,
    I see “balance” as motionless. A point where one’s energy is equally centered and gives one the ability to move in many directions (potential energy ). Other than giving you this ability to pick your direction, balance hasn’t much use. You must remain without motion. Once you choose to move, or are moved, your energy becomes “Kinetic”. You now are headed in a direction with ” momentum”.
    Let’s look at Jason Bourne, a CIA assassin & the hero of a trilogy of movies based on the books of Robert Ludlam (My man!). Jason Bourne wishes only to live a life in ‘balance’, to be left alone. He tells his enemies ” I can do no hard to you if you leave me motionless/alone”. But they don’t. They put him in motion at a great cost to themselves, (he kills them).

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  60. UnderCover Brother on June 13, 2012 at 7:35 AM

    #58 Douglas:

    It may be worth listening to the latest Mormon Expression Podcast on ‘Mormonism and Race’ with Dr Darron Smith. Like MH, Dr. Smith also covers why there should be an apology. I found his argument well articulated and quite compelling. What do you think?

    Also – you stated,

    ‘… McConkie would not have necessarily had the opportunity or inclination to immediately revise his “Mormon Doctrine” book, so even his own “erroneous” writings might not have been IMMEDIATELY edited.’

    Just to clarify, on page 343 of Mormon Doctrine 1979 edition it states:

    ‘”HAM: Through Ham (a name meaning black) ‘the blood of the Canaanites was preserved’ through the flood, he having married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain. … Ham was cursed, apparently for marrying into the forbidden lineage, and the effects of the curse passed to his son, Canaan. … Ham’s descendants include the Negroes, who originally were barred from holding the priesthood but have been able to do so since June 1978.”

    Elder McConkie had every opportunity to immediately revise the book and he did so, but only to update it to reflect OD2. The underpinning ‘doctrines’ behind the ban were left as was. And to me, that is ‘problematic’ (as Brad said).

    ‘Ultimately, the question comes down to whether or not the Church is being led by a living Prophet and the will of the Lord is communicated therein.’

    Agreed. So are these underpinnings part of our ‘doctrine’ or aren’t they? If there are, let’s own them, run with them and tell everyone about them. If they aren’t, let’s acknowledge them for what they were, repudiate them and apologize for them. But let’s not pretend they’re not there, never happened or somehow they’ll be forgotten.

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  61. whizzbang on June 13, 2012 at 8:34 AM

    I am also of the opinion that an apology is not in order. Some people need to adjust their thinking to 2012 and not be stuck in the ’70′s or before

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  62. Mormon Heretic on June 13, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Douglas, I never “demanded” an apology. I said

    I’d like an apology, but I like Brad’s approach: the apology isn’t required, but I think the Church could at least acknowledge that the ban was wrong and should never have happened.

    So please refer to what I said, rather than some misconception of what I said, so you don’t “arrogantly” misrepresent me.

    whizzbang, the fact that the church has failed to address the matter appropriately leads people like Randy Bott to be “stuck in the 70′s.” It would be nice to unequivocally state things, so we don’t have media blowups because of stupid things that BYU professors say. Do you disagree?

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  63. whizzbang on June 13, 2012 at 12:47 PM

    @62-I would tell the media to not be in the 1970′s! is what I would say! next question!

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  64. mh on June 13, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    In the words of Armand Mauss, I would call your response `dubious ` at best.

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  65. whizzbang on June 13, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    Well, you’re switching the discussion to what people think rather then should the Church apologize yes it should or no it shouldn’t. Now its why does Bott and others like him think the way they do, of which I don’t care what or why they think what they do. I think the Church denounced Bott’s thinking and hopefully with that we won’t have any media blowups, just show them that press release. I don’t think the Church should apologize

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  66. MH on June 13, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    Whizzbang, I’m not switching the discussion; I am stating several reasons why an explanation and/or apology would be helpful. If we can approach it honestly, it will be better for us in the long run as a church. People who think the apology is bad are looking at the short term, IMO, and that is just short-sighted. If we want the past to “go away”, we have to deal with it honestly so it really can go away. Otherwise, it continues to fester, waiting for an ugly moment to express itself like it did in the Washington Post.

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  67. Glenn Thigpen on June 13, 2012 at 6:40 PM

    MH, I used the definition that I felt most fitted the supposed situation. However, number two was referring back to number one, which is one where a person feels that his/her race is superior. The panel’s definition does not follow either of the definitions but expands the definition to include all differentiation based upon race. As I have pointed out, this makes well meaning organizations such as the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) racist. I do not think the NAACP is racist.

    I am not sure where you are coming from when you said “that Paul was forced to participate in a circumcision despite his claim that circumcision wasn’t necessary?” I do not recall Paul participating in a circumcision. He participated in a discussion (disputation) with “which came down from Judæa taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.” (Acts Chapter 15, Verse 1) This was at Antioch. Paul and Barnabas disputed this teaching and the decision was made to take the issue to the church in Jerusalem. There, after much discussion and prayer, the decision was rendered that the Gentiles were not to be burdened with that yoke. Letters were sent to Antioch and other cities with Gentile congregations to explain the situation and the decision.
    Maybe you are talking about Galatians, Chapter 2, where he contended with Peter about the matter, evidently before the revelation that the Gentiles did not require circumcision. But it is pertinent to note that Titus, his companion being a Greek, was not required to be circumcised.

    So, can you point us to a place in the scriptures where a prophet chosen by God instituted incorrect practices in the Church and was not corrected by God?

    Glenn

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  68. Christopher Lee Ogden on June 13, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    I agree with Brad. More than an apology, I think what is really needed is just a frank, straightforward statement that the policy was not inspired by God, and that all doctrines used to justify it were wrong. Maybe the church does not know why the ban came into being, but it at least ought to know that it wasn’t authored by God.

    On the other hand, if church leaders honestly still believe that God authored the priesthood ban, then isn’t that something we members ought to know?

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  69. MH on June 13, 2012 at 10:50 PM

    Glenn, I think the definition of race hatred is wayyyy off the mark on this issue. It’s completely inappropriate. I think on that we can agree.

    On the other definitions of racism, Brigham did feel his race was superior because Cain slew Abel. Orson Pratt also insisted that because of fence sitters in pre-mortal life that they were to be servants of men and barred from the priesthood. How is this not racism definition #1? How is the discrimination of the priesthood not definition #2?

    As for Paul, in Acts 15:5 the Pharisees were recommending circumcision; as we all know, Paul argued against that proposition. Then Paul actually performs the circumcision in Acts 16:3, Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

    Paul submitted to James, brother of Jesus on this occasion, so God obviously took his time correcting James and the other early Christians. God didn’t intervene, but eventually Paul’s teachings on the subject took over. So, that is a “place in the scriptures where a prophet chosen by God instituted incorrect practices in the Church and was not corrected by God.”

    (Are you going to quibble that Paul was “just” an apostle? Do we not sustain our current Q12 as “prophets, seers, and revelators”? Is it better to refer to James as the prophet since his opinion prevailed on the issue?)

    God certainly allowed for slavery and didn’t correct his prophet Moses that slavery was wrong. (Deuteronomy 15:12-15) God, Jesus, and early Christian leaders didn’t condemn slavery even in the New Testament (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1), and didn’t correct Brigham Young either. So there are lots of “place[s] in the scriptures where a prophet chosen by God instituted incorrect practices in the Church and was not corrected by God.”

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  70. Glenn Thigpen on June 14, 2012 at 7:03 AM

    MH, The case of Timotheus in Acts 16:3 is a bit different. He was the son of a Jewish woman and a Greek man. Since the Hebrews counted their ancestry from both lines, I don’t see that your point is on the mark there. When Paul did that, he was in the process of taking the letter on circumcision of the Gentiles to the churches with Gentile congregations. As a former student of Gamaliel, Paul was very cognizant of the Hebrew laws, etc. He may well have been exactly on point with that circumcision. He evidently saw and understood the point that the Jews were making.

    And you said it well, that God himself allowed slavery, and allowed Hebrews to be slaves, although they were to be freed in the seventh year, unless the slave desired to remain as a slave, then he would be slave forever. There had been no revelation at that point in time that the Lord’s policy on slavery had changed.

    In my former post, if you will go back and reread it, I was not talking about Brigham Young being a racist. I was referring to a statement that you had made that if God had instituted the ban, He would be a racist. I pointed out that the expansive definition offered by the panel would make well meaning organizations such as the NAACP racist by that definition.
    That is the strawman I am talking about. Making a definition that would make God a racist by definition if He had instituted the ban. Then, racism is wrong. Then, God is perfect, so He cannot be a racist, therefore God could not have instituted the ban.
    I know that you have not stated it that way explicitly. I just filled in the blanks of you logic. Are any of those blanks incorrect.

    In any event, anyone has a problem when they try to apply man made labels to the Lord. By doing so, you can make God out to be a murderer, or you can disbelieve the scriptures.

    There already has been a discussion on the case of Laban and Nephi. Some have a hard time believing the explicit testimony of Nephi that he was constrained by the Lord to kill Laban. You have the choice to accept that Nephi was a prophet of God and that he was commanded by God, or that Nephi was a liar and murdered Laban in cold blood.

    The same is true of the flood. You have the choice to believe that God did actually kill a lot of people via a flood, or that that part of the Bible is not scripture and it didn’t happen at all.

    You have the choice to believe that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of the great iniquity of those cities, or that part of the Bible is not scripture.

    You have the choice to believe that God killed a man who was not a Levite just for trying to steady the Ark, or to not believe that part of the Bible is scripture.

    You have the choice to believe that God commanded the children of Israel to go into Canaan and utterly destroy the inhabitants, or to believe that part of the Bible is not scripture.

    You have the choice to believe that Brigham Young was speaking as a prophet when he declared that “they are the true eternal principals the Lord Almighty has ordained, and who can help it, men cannot. the angels cannot, and all the powers of earth and hell cannot take it off, but thus saith the Eternal I am, what I am, I take it off at my pleasure.” Or you can believe that he was just speaking as a man.

    However, non of those pronouncements have been repudiated by revelation. None. And that is what we are left with. To pick and choose what we want to believe in the scriptures and the pronouncements of prophets who may say things in the name of the Lord with which we are uncomfortable.

    That part about revelation has been my point all along. Whatever our feelings on the subject, we have what we have. To me, it would require a revelation on each of those points to repudiate them as not being from God, no matter how squeamish I may feel about some of the things that are portrayed.

    Until such a time, I have to accept there are some things that God does that I do not understand.

    Glenn

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  71. MH on June 14, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    Glenn, if you want to make God a racist, you are welcome to do that. I stand behind what I wrote in 69. I think your reasons for believing what you believe are VERY faulty. You are welcome to “not understand”, but I think that the case that man instituted the ban is much more solid that the hoops you are jumping through to redefine what Paul did as ok, or redefine slavery as ok.

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  72. Mike S on June 14, 2012 at 11:26 AM

    #70 Glenn: Making a definition that would make God a racist by definition if He had instituted the ban. Then, racism is wrong. Then, God is perfect, so He cannot be a racist, therefore God could not have instituted the ban.

    The problem with the logic in this statement is that ALL prophets (who relay God’s messages to man) are also men. They are NOT pure conduits for God’s will, but their words are necessarily colored by their perceptions. My very first post on W&T addressed this issue.

    So, God is not a racist, but people are. And even if not specifically “racist”, but they are certainly biased towards their “own people”. Jewish prophets taught that Jews were God’s chosen people above all others. Muslim leaders teach that Islam is above all other religions. Buddhists teach that being born into a devout Buddhist family is a reward for being a good person in a previous life. Rastafarians teach that Africans are God’s chosen people. And it goes on and on.

    It is certainly understandable that Brigham Young and other Church leaders looked for scriptural sources to support their preconceived ideas about race. Early Church leaders were much more dogmatic about our “chosen” status. The Catholic Church has been described as the Mother of Harlots. Did all of these come from God, or are they merely reflections of Man.

    I would argue the latter. I would argue that God is not a racist and that the ban did NOT come from any revealed source. God eventually corrected the mistakes of prophets and apostles who taught for gospel the precepts of man. He grants our leaders free agency just like He does you and me. For a long time, it didn’t really matter as far as church growth so the status quo persisted. Eventually, though, the biases of man were standing in the way of God’s goals and in 1978 He stepped in and corrected things.

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  73. Glenn Thigpen on June 14, 2012 at 5:36 PM

    MH, I did not redefine what Paul did as okay. I did note that Timotheus was the son of a believing Jewish woman, which would have made him heir to the Abrahamic covenant. There is no hoop to jump through there. Of course, that shrinking violet that was Paul just flat wimped out, after daring to stand up to Peter, one of the chiefest apostles, on the very subject. And, of course, Paul didn’t know anything about that covenant.

    Again, I was not the one that said that God allowed slavery. You were the one who pointed out that scripture for all of us.

    Actually, there is no evidence that the ban was man made. All you have is speculation. The only real evidence that we have came from a prophet of God. I did not jump through any hoops to try to come to that conclusion. The only thing I did was point point out that Brigham Young said very pointedly that the ban came from God and would have to be repealed by God.

    I have not seen you or any other person provide any refutation to that except that maybe you do not believe it.

    What is faulty about pointing out what one prophet has said, and noting that no prophet since has repudiated that statement. Not even Spencer W. Kimball.

    And I did not make God a racist. I only said that the greatly expanded definition by the panel would make Him a racist if God instituted the ban.

    Again, my point is that further revelation would be required to repudiate Brigham Young’s statement that the ban was ordained by God. Until such happens, until we have an assurance from God that the ban was indeed a mistake, I will believe in Brigham Young’s integrity as an oracle of God. I don’t think that any of us are at a level to try to counsel the leadership on this, or any other matter.

    Glenn

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  74. Glenn Thigpen on June 14, 2012 at 7:35 PM

    Okay, I’m going to sign off with a series of statements that have lead me to the conclusions I have reached.

    President Thomas S. Monson, January 2009

    “How grateful we are that the heavens are indeed open, that the restored Church
    of Jesus Christ is upon the earth today, and that the Church is founded upon the
    rock of revelation. We are a blessed people, with apostles and prophets upon the
    earth today. We will never be led astray.”

    President Ezra Taft Benson, May 1977

    “Though his prophet is mortal, God will not let him lead his church astray. (See
    Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, pp. 212–13.) God knows all things, the end from
    the beginning, and no man becomes president of the church of Jesus Christ by
    accident, or remains there by chance, or dies by happenstance.”

    Thomas S. Monson, February 2001

    “Despite our personal challenges or difficulties or worldwide problems, we can
    take comfort in the knowledge that the Savior is leading this Church through our
    prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley. I testify that we will never be led
    astray.”

    President David O. McKay, 1951

    “No one can preside over the church without first being in tune with the head of
    the Church, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He is our head. This is his
    church. … With his guidance, with his inspiration, we cannot fail”

    To me, if the priesthood ban was instituted by man, not God, and was a terrible injustice for for one hundred and thirty plus years, those statements would be lies.

    Glenn

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  75. Mike S on June 14, 2012 at 11:06 PM

    #73 Glenn: I will believe in Brigham Young’s integrity as an oracle of God. I don’t think that any of us are at a level to try to counsel the leadership on this, or any other matter.

    Brigham Young also said the following:

    “If any of you will deny the plurality of wives and continue to do so, I promise that you will be damned.”

    “Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon?…when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that the most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the ignorant of their fellows. So it is in regard to the inhabitants of the sun. Do you think it is inhabited? I rather think it is. Do you think there is any life there? No question of it; it was not made in vain.”

    “The ONLY MEN WHO BECOME GODS, even the Sons of God, are those WHO ENTER INTO POLYGAMY.”

    There are a number of other quotes from Brigham Young, but these will suffice. I think President Hinckley has a reasonable chance of entering into heaven, even without entering into polygamy. I am quite certain that no one lives on the moon or the sun, although I haven’t been to either of those places myself to confirm that.

    Similarly with many other Brigham Young quotes – he was flat-out wrong on many things that were subsequently corrected by later Church leaders. Later church leaders also corrected Brigham Young’s statements on blacks and their role in the world. If you are so emphatic about “Brigham Young’s integrity as an oracle of God” regarding blacks and the priesthood, do you also truly believe that we will find people living on the sun and moon once we look hard enough?

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  76. Glenn Thigpen on June 15, 2012 at 5:05 AM

    Mike S. I appreciate your comments, but disagree a bit with you on your selection of quotes. You quoted my “I will believe in Brigham Young’s integrity as an oracle of God. I don’t think that any of us are at a level to try to counsel the leadership on this, or any other matter.” However, you quoted things from Brigham Young where he was not speaking as an oracle from God, i.e. the sun and moon inhabitants thingy. I am sure that you have seen that addressed before.

    On the polygamy issue, you took that quote out of context. Here is some more of what he said in that same speech, ” It is the word of the Lord, and I wish to say to you, and all the world, that if you desire with all your hearts to obtain the blessings which Abraham obtained, you will be polygamists at lest in your faith,”

    Also, in the same speech Brigham said, ” You who wish that there were no such thing in existence, if you have in your hearts to say: “We will pass along in the Church without obeying or submitting to it in our faith or believing this order, because, for aught that we know, this community may be broken up yet, and we may have lucrative offices offered to us; we will not, therefore, be polygamists lest we should fail in obtaining some earthly honor, character and office, etc,” – the man that has that in his heart, and will continue to persist in pursuing that policy, will come short of dwelling in the presence of the Father and the Son, in celestial glory.”

    That puts a different spin on your quotes.

    It is true that the church has backed off of some of the statements of church leaders concerning the reasons for the ban, but no prophet has corrected Brigham Young on ban itself. It seems evident from the scanty records we have, that President David O. McKay though that the ban was a policy, not doctrine, but felt that a revelation would be needed to lift the ban. He also stated that that the ban was from the Lord and prayed often for the revelation to remove it, but was told “not now” and reportedly, to stop bothering the Lord about it.

    I will reiterate, one more time, that revelation is required for anything further on the subject. We can pontificate and believe any which way we like or dislike, but until further revelation is received, we are remiss in trying to sit in counsel of the church and its present and past prophets on this matter, or any other.

    Glenn

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  77. MH on June 15, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    Glenn, it seems to me that you are approaching this issue much like Oliver Cowdery. By insisting that you will only be convinced if a revelation calls the ban racist, then you “took no thought save it was to ask me.” Are we not “to study it out in [our] mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you”?

    Many of us have studied it out in our minds and asked if our conclusions are right. But if you want a revelation like Oliver did, then as it says in D&C 9:5, “behold, it is because that you did not continue as you commenced … that I have taken away this privilege from you.”

    As for recent Church statements by Pres Monson, I don’t have to believe your false dichotomy.

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  78. Mike S on June 15, 2012 at 10:25 AM

    #76 Glenn:

    I accept our prophets and apostles as good and honorable men. I accept them as conduits to help me touch the Divine. I accept that following many of their teachings will help me in my attempts to journey back to God. I accept them as leaders of the Church.

    However, throughout the history of our Church, there are hundreds of statements by just about every leader you can name that have been flat-out wrong. Sometimes they expressed them as opinion. Sometimes they taught them as doctrine. But based on teachings of subsequent leaders, they were just plain wrong.

    For example, McConkie “corrected” Brigham Young: “Yes, President Young did teach that Adam was the father of our spirits, and all the related things that the cultists ascribe to him. This [i.e., Brigham Young's teaching on Adam], however, is not true. He expressed views that are out of harmony with the gospel.

    With regards to the current post (ie. blacks and the priesthood), McConkie said: “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”

    Here, in black and white, is an apostle very plainly stating that Brigham Young was wrong. You state that “we are remiss in trying to sit in counsel of the church and its present and past prophets on this matter, or any other”. Are we also remiss if we don’t accept Elder McConkie’s statements that sometimes, Brigham Young was wrong, despite being a prophet.

    Incidentally, this is not limited to our own church. The scriptures are full of examples of prophets making mistakes, of giving in to baser desires, of saying the wrong things. To me, this doesn’t lessen their role as prophets or leaders, but helps me understand that they are real people, just like you and me. If God can still use them in spite of their imperfections, perhaps there is still hope for me.

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  79. An Imperfect Saint on June 15, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    Since I was two years old when the ban was changed, I don’t have personal experiences with the before and after effects. By the time I was in primary we had African American men in leadership positions. One of my favorite fast and testimony meetings included a Ghanaian couple who explain their gratitude that the Lord lifted the ban so they could be sealed. Maybe I was too young, but I didn’t detect any rancor in their souls or their testimonies.

    I understand that for those who lived under both systems, there are probably much stronger emotions that are evoked by memories of both times. I know my grandmother, who was a Jewish convert, always was grateful that the “biggest racists” left the church in 1978. I never specifically asked her, and can’t now, but I think she was talking about racism against more than just Blacks.

    I don’t know why the ban started. I have a few suspicions, but they are my thoughts and opinions only. I do take the General Authorities at face value when they say that they received the revelation and were sharing that good news with the entire world.

    Maybe that is naive, and maybe that comes from never having “lived with” the issue, but I think that is fairly common for saints my age, outside of what seems to be a fairly insular heartland of LDS thought, at least to someone who hasn’t lived there, by choice.

    While my contemporaries and I may spend a lot of discussion time lamenting that LDS American Republicans think that LDS teachings back their political views, I can’t remember this coming up in a single conversation. My LDS friends of color are much more afraid of the sometimes monolithic disregard for social issues they see in “the Church.”

    I am sure that I will take some heat for this, but sometimes for those of us without pioneer ancestors or historical beefs, we are more focused on raising children with strong testimonies, making sure we are fulfilling our callings and doing our best to reach out and serve our neighbors. While I can appreciate the need for intellectual thought and historical perspective in any community, I see this discussion, as framed, as a fight in which I have no dog.

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  80. Douglas on June 15, 2012 at 3:18 PM

    #62 – (MH) Though at times I would a “thus saith the Lord” explanation as to WHY the PH ban in the first plan (a damned inconvenience that I’d have eliminated with a stroke of the pen had it been my call…), I’m certain of 2 things: (1) It was the Lord’s Priesthood to decide to whom to confer it, so, no, the Church did NOT err in doing the Lord’s will, no matter the inconvenience or embarrassment, and (2) The Lord and His servants do NOT owe yours truly an explanation, especially if they don’t have it themselves. My speculations, whether they’d be accurate or not, don’t mean jack-diddley-squat, they’d be the Gospel according to Doug and that’s all.
    Apologies for the stridency in denouncing your approach as “arrogance” (I don’t presume to be a mind-reader), but it’s annoying to read the words of the nay-sayers presuming to declare that the Lord’s servants were “mistaken” on a matter that’s not trivial. I come back to my previous declaration. Either you believe that the Prophets from BY to SWK, and since, are uniquely called of the Lord, or you don’t. Either way, problem solved!

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  81. Glenn Thigpen on June 15, 2012 at 4:35 PM

    MH, your comparison to Oliver Cowdery is inapt. I am not seeking a revelation. I am only saying that to know, not to believe no matter how strongly. that the ban was not from God and that Brigham Young took the Lord’s name in vain, would be via a revelation.

    But I surely have studied this out in my own mind. But, are you saying that after studying it out in your own mind you received a revelation on the matter that contradicts Brigham Young and David O. McKay. etc?

    Also, please explain my false dichotomy.

    Mike S. I’m not quite sure why you are quoting Bruce R. McKonkie and his “Mormon Doctrine.” Firstly, Bruce R. was never the president of the church. His take on the Adam-God was his own opinion. He evidently had not read all that Brigham Young had written or spoke on the subject. When one reads that Brigham Young said that each earth has its own Adam and Eve, a little different light is shed upon the subject. I don’t have time to get into a full fledged debate upon the subject right now. Suffice it to say that Brigham explicitly said that his views upon the subject were not binding upon the church.

    Now, for McKonkie’s statement, ““Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past [b]that is contrary to the present revelation[/b]. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.”

    That revelation did not refute Brigham Young’s statements on the reason for the ban, nor did it refute Brigham Young’s assertion that the ban came from the Lord.

    The only thing that the revelation refuted was the idea that the Negro would not receive the priesthood in this mortal existence. That was clearly erroneous.

    Glenn

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  82. MH on June 15, 2012 at 5:02 PM

    Glenn, there is nothing I can do to change your mind, so I find continuing this conversation fruitless. I think Mike and I have explained it well, and you are happy to disagree. At this point I don’t know what is to be gained by this. Mike’s use of McConkie was spot on, yet you continue to find fault with it. I’m done.

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  83. Glenn Thigpen on June 16, 2012 at 5:50 AM

    MH, Sorry if I touched a nerve. However you and Mike have not explained anything well. I have shown you at every turn where you are wrong. You refer to my logic as faulty and use of a false dichotomy, but did not show where I had actually produced one.

    Here are the core parts of my argument. Brigham Young stated most emphatically that the ban was from the Lord, invoking one of the names of Jehovah in that declaration (I Am). Other prophets since that time have affirmed that statement. David O. McKay for one.

    There has been no official or unofficial statement from any prophet since that refutes that claim in any way. Bruce R. McKonkie’s statement clearly did not refute or contradict that statement in any way.

    The ban was lifted by revelation, with no explanation as to why or how it was instuted in the first place.

    At the present time, we have statements by past presidents of the church that the ban was instituted by the Lord without any contradictory statements from any prophet since that time. My position is that further revelation is needed if we are to know for sure why the ban was instituted and by whom.

    The reasoning that I have heard from the panel and seemingly echoed by you goes something like this. Any differentiation, no matter what the motive, on the basis of race is racism. Racism, (evidently no matter what the motive) is wrong. God is not racist. Therefore the ban could not have been instituted by God. The only thing left is a man made ban. The ban was wrong. Therefore an apology should be made for the ban.

    All of this has been decided by a panel comprised of not one current apostle or prophet.

    I have not dogmatically asserted that the ban was from God. Only that several former presidents and first presidencies of the church have asserted and affirmed that it was.

    I am a stubborn and persistent cuss, it is true. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do try to present documentation for the basis of my reasoning and beliefs. It would be a dull world if everyone believed and thought as I do.

    Best wishes,
    Glenn

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