[I originally titled this series “Race and Lies, but …] Perhaps “lie” is too emotive a word, even when an accurate one, to describe the historical problems with the LDS Church’s “Race and the Priesthood” statement. From reading the web page I noticed 10 such problems, four of which I have already covered, and a few of which I’ll document below (a more comprehensive document is available here:
Problem #6 – Jane Manning & the Temple
Jane Manning James, a faithful black member who crossed the plains and lived in Salt Lake City until her death in 1908, similarly asked to enter the temple; she was allowed to perform baptisms for the dead for her ancestors but was not allowed to participate in other ordinances.” (Official LDS Statement)
Fact: In 1894 Jane Manning James was sealed to Joseph Smith. Not as a daughter, or as a wife, or as a friend, but as a servant!
She was “attached as a Servitor for eternity to the prophet Joseph Smith and in this capacity be connected with his family and be obedient to him in all things in the Lord as a faithful Servitor” (Salt Lake Temple Adoption Record, May 18, 1894, Book A, p. 26). Because Jane couldn’t participate in temple ceremonies directly, Bathseba W. Smith acted as her proxy for and Joseph F. Smith as proxy for Joseph Smith.
Isn’t even a vicarious ordinance participating? Isn’t that what we are told by the church about baptisms for the dead (that it is efficacious if people agree on the other side of the veil, and that they are taking part in spirit)? Is the Church saying she wasn’t involved – that it was against her will?
In Matthias F. Cowley’s book, ‘Wilford Woodruff’ [p. 587], the following story is told:
‘There is one peculiar characteristic noticeable in the journal ow Wilford Woodruff., . . . [He] love to dwell upon the good deeds of others . . . . . He said in his journal of o of October, that year , that ‘Aunt Jane,’ the colored sister, had been to see him She was anxious to go through the Temple and receive the highest ordinances of the Gospel. President Woodruff blessed her for her constant, never changing devotion to the Gospel but explained to her her disadvantages as one of the descendants of Cain.
“In after years, when President Joseph F. Smith preached the funeral sermon of this same faithful woman, he declared that she would, in the resurrection, attain the longing of her soul and become a white and beautiful person.
Elijah Abel was given a similar blessing by Joseph Smith, Sr. That is the ultimate reward of the most faithful black Mormons: to become white! (Although still servants in eternity).
Problem #7 – President McKay didn’t feel prompted to end the ban?
“President McKay did not feel impressed to lift the ban.” (Official LDS Statement)
He not only didn’t feel impressed to lift it – he felt impressed it wouldn’t happen by 1978 (or quite a while after).
David O. McKay was asked by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter, Wallace Turner, in 1964, at the dedication of the Oakland Temple, “When will the Negroes receive the Priesthood?” This was asked on camera and potentially seen by millions across the nation.
President McKay’s reply was, “Not in my lifetime, young man, nor yours.” Turner died in 2010, having seen McKays statement and prophecy refuted in 1978, and having lived many years after.
Another account related it this way, “The Negro matter came up quickly, and (President McKay) dodged for an answer or so among the underbrush of theological imprecision in the framing of the question. But then the question was asked directly, in the proper words to discover whether the prophet, seer, and chief revelator thought the doctrine on Negroes would be changed to allow them to hold the priesthood. He said: ‘Not while you and I are here.” (The Mormon Establishment, p. 262. LDS author Lester E. Bush, Jr. confirmed this report in the book, The Church and the Negro, which was published by John L. Lund, p. 45.)
Problem #9 – Disavowing theories or official doctrines?
“the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else.” (Official LDS Statement)
Theories? Are first presidency statements theories now? We have already quoted several First Presidency statements that refute this.
Interestingly the LDS Church has made statements against mixed race marriages after Official Declaration 2, and the doctrine / policy / recommendation is still part of some current LDS manuals.
“We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question.” (Aaronic Priesthood Manual 3, Lesson 31, entitled “Choosing an Eternal Companion” p. 127ff, Spencer W. Kimball, “Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1977], p. 144)
His predecessor, Brigham Young, put it more emphatically:
“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African Race? If the White man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.” (Journal of Discourses 10:110)
Is this the law of God or not? if a prophet says something is the law of God and it isn’t then doesn’t that mean he is a false prophet and is leading people astray? I guess the real question is “who has the right to speak on behalf of the church?”
On 17 July 1947, the First Presidency wrote the following to Lowry Nelson, Mormon professor at Utah State Agricultural College regarding the status of Blacks, including inter-racial marriage:
Dear Brother Nelson:
… The basic element of your ideas and concepts seems to be that all God’s children stand in equal positions before Him in all things. Your knowledge of the Gospel will indicate to you that this is contrary to the very fundamentals of God’s dealings with Israel dating from the time of His promise to Abraham regarding Abraham’s seed and their position vis-a-vis God Himself. Indeed, some of God’s children were assigned to superior positions before the world was formed.
We are aware that some Higher Critics do not accept this, but the Church does. Your position seems to lose sight of the revelations of the Lord touching the pre-existence of our spirits, the rebellion in heaven, and the DOCTRINES s that our birth into this life and the advantages under which we may be born, have a relationship in the life heretofore. From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine of the CHurch, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the gospel.
Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient patriarchs till now. God’s rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous [meaning ‘marriage within a specific tribe or similar social unit’]. Modern Israel has been similarly directed. We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this are, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between Whites and Blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.
George Albert Smith
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
David O. McKay
Problem #10 – Righteousness and race
anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him” (Official LDS Statement)
Is this a new doctrine? Have the authors ever read the Book of Moses or the Book of Mormon? It is clear within Mormon scripture that whiteness is a sign of righteousness and color, especially darkness, is a sign of divine displeasure:
21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.
22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.” (2 Nephi 5)
At a 1960 general conference of the LDS Church, apostle Spencer W. Kimball suggested that the skin of Latter-day Saint Native Americans was gradually turning lighter:
I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today… The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as light as Anglos, five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter we represent, the little member girl—sixteen—sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents—on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather… These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.” (Conference Report, October 1960; Improvement Era, December 1960, pp. 922–23.)
Where all these nearly white Lamanites are now is anyones guess. However, one LDS apologist made a suggestion:
There are Blacks here today who are members of the Church. Why have we not turned White? But there are Blacks who have joined the Church, married White spouse, and their children became lighter than their Black parents. Then those kids grew up to marry those that believe as they do, which most are White, so they married White, and their kids became even lighter, and so on. Makes you think a bit, doesn’t it?” (Marvin Perkins, Blacks and the Priesthood, FAIR)
The strangest fact of all is that the official LDS Church statement was put together by faithful Mormon historians and approved by the Church. Usually a real historian is someone who seeks to chronicle and convery history, not someone who ignores and lies about it.
HN: Until 1978 no person of color attained the priesthood in your church. Why did it take so long to overcome the racism?
“GBH: I don’t know. I don’t know. I can only say that. (long pause) But it’s here now. We’re carrying on a very substantial work on Africa for instance and in Brazil. We’re working among their people developing them. We’ve had them among the leadership of the Church and they’re able to do a great work and we love them and appreciate them and we respect them and we are trying to help them.” (Gordon B. Hinckley Interview, ZDF German Television, Salt Lake City, Utah, January 29, 2002, Conducted by Helmut Nemetschek)
The presidents of the Church prior to 1978 new why and said why – so why doesn’t Gordon B. Hinkley know, and why don’t the so called church historians know now?