Discussions of Book of Mormon issues and evidences, plus other topics related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Race and the Priesthood: Significant New Statement on the LDS History of Blacks and the Priesthood at LDS.org

I'm delighted with the release of a new and thoughtful statement at LDS.org clarifying the history of the Church's former policy that prior to 1978 prohibited those with African ancestry from holding the priesthood. The statement reminds us of the influences of culture and the fallibility of mortals in the Church, and gives us cause for gratitude regarding the revelation that finally did away not only with a problematic policy but with troubled attempts at justifying it. A welcome announcement worthy of reflection. 
One can complain that it's too little, too late, or that further apologies are needed, etc., etc., but I suggest simply welcoming this with humility and faith, while recognizing the monumental faith exhibited by those who accepted the Gospel and strengthened the Church in spite of the limitations that former policy might impose on them. That's remarkable faith and courage. A great resource on this topic is BlackLDS.org.

Update: Other resources to consider include the podcast on the 2013 statement at FAIRMormon.org and also my LDSFAQ page on race and the priesthood


zerabp said...

While I believe Brigham instituted the initial ban due to his own prejudices, I do not believe he would have if he had been able to foresee how long the ban would last. Either way I am glad that we are done trying to justify the ban. It happened, it's been undone, and the Church is stronger for it's undoing.

Anonymous said...

So which prophets should we put our trust in?

The Ticktockman said...

The living ones.

Anonymous said...

Do you trust the ones that have already lived?

C T said...

When conversations on controversial subjects get going, those ones where we really don't know the reasons for why the Lord allows or causes certain practices to occur, I find myself thinking of 1 Nephi 11:17:

"17 And I [Nephi] said unto him: I know that he [God] loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things."

And then I trust the living prophet because he's the one called to deliver the messages meant for my time and society.

Fred M said...

I am an active member who believes in following the living prophet. But here's what I think a lot of members are missing from this truly groundbreaking statement: the church is now officially acknowledging (for the first time, I'm pretty sure) that the living prophets back in the day taught false doctrine. Just look at the 1949 Official Statement from the First Presidency on the "Negro Question." The doctrine taught in it has now been OFFICIALLY DISAVOWED by the Church. Which is a very good thing. But it does raise some thorny issues, issues that can't simply be wished away by saying we don't know the meaning of all things. Of course we don't! And clearly the prophets don't either. They can make mistakes. They can lead the church astray. The church is making that clear by disavowing the false doctrine taught in the past. So based on this the logical conclusion I make is that President Monson is a prophet, that he is inspired, that he receives revelation from God, but that he's also a man who is imperfect and can even say imperfect things in official statements or over the pulpit at General Conference. So it's up to me to seek spiritual confirmation for whatever is taught from the pulpit or I will be just like the millions of church members in 1949 who swallowed up false doctrine because it came from leaders they believed were infallible.

Anonymous said...

Good point, Fred M. I, for one, continue to ignore church leaders' teachings about homosexuality for the time being. They've softened significantly in the past few years, but there's still bigotry on display at a local level. We'll make it through this, but maybe not this generation.

Anonymous said...

Bingo Fred M

Anonymous said...

Fred M wrote: "So it's up to me to seek spiritual confirmation"

And you can count on yourself to be better at getting revelation from the Lord than, say, President McKay was . . . why?

Pierce said...

It was only a matter of time before homosexuality was brought up. It's fascinating to me how these obsessive people feel that every topic must pass through the realm of gay sex before it can be of any value. The issue of the priesthood ban and the issue of homosexuality are in no way connected.

Anonymous said...

Grave disappointment that the apology and error with the black priesthood is so soft. I call for a news conference to formally apologize. Perhaps also apologize and recognize abusive and narcissistic bishops and stake presidents who have hurt and damaged (some fatally) membership of the church.

Also an apology of Joseph's treatment of polygamy and polyandry need to be recognized.

Then the church needs to step back, and with great thought get into the ministry.

Fred M said...

Anonymous--not saying I'm better than President McKay in any way. Just that it's wise to get personal spiritual confirmation of what our leaders say (something they've actually encouraged us to do). Because if in 1949 you thought the church's official statement about black people was hogwash, you were right. And the First Presidency was wrong. Which isn't heresy--it's simply what the new "Race and the Priesthood" statement reveals.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Pierce. The "realm of gay sex"? Why do you automatically equate the mention of homosexuals with their sexual activities?
Do you automatically equate any mention of heterosexuals with their sexual activities?
Do you know any gay people? Do you love any gay people? Are there gay people in your family or ward?
There is a very real connection to how LDS people treat and talk about gay people today and how they treated black people 35 years ago. Mormons used to preach that blacks chose poorly in the pre-existence, and too many Latter-Day saints today are convinced homosexuality is a choice.

Pierce said...

I chose to word it like that because, essentially, that is where you took it whether you know it or not. You state that you "continue to ignore the church leaders teachings about homosexuality."
What is teaching concerning this? It's simple: That marriage is between a man and a woman, that fornication is sexual behavior outside of marriage, and that fornication is sinful, be it homo or heterosexual behavior. That is scripture, and has been since Adam. It has been taught in all ages and times. It will continue to be taught. It can only be understood through the eye of the Plan of Salvation and how it functions. So you can choose to ignore it, but the church won't be "coming around" in the next few years. How this teaching has been interpreted and administered, however, has not always been stellar. Maybe that's what you're talking about. Personally I feel the Brethren are doing a pretty good job in balancing the need to teach and enforce the doctrine while still showing love and empathy. But, maybe it will get better. We can all hope. But I would not hope for an un-balance.
The ban, however, does not have such roots. It was a simple, man-made policy. That is why it was overturned. If there was some sort of eternal principle involved (like how fornication frustrates the Plan of Salvation), then the ban would continue. But it wasn't, and it doesn't. Apples and oranges. I heard this a lot when Prop 8 was happening, and people seemed pretty smug in their enlightenment in comparing these two things. Sorry if this sounds testy.
So again, I chose to word it like that because it is sexual activity that is condemned, not being homosexual. Here is part of the position as stated at lds.org:

"However, if someone is attracted to people of the same gender and does not act on those feelings, he or she has not sinned. The Church’s standard for morality is the same for everyone, no matter which gender one feels attracted to. Neither the Lord nor His Church can condone any behavior that violates His laws. Again, we condemn the immoral behavior, not the person."

Very different than the misunderstandings and teachings that supported the priesthood ban, which based on the merit of skin color.

Is that the current teaching that you are "continuing to ignore?" The only thing you might draw parallels to are that some people have been and are insensitive about these issues, including the lay people and past leadership. But anyone giving it an honest theological evaluation will understand that these two things have no real connection.

Anonymous said...

"I suggest simply welcoming this with humility and faith..."

Simply welcome?

Jeff, It amazes me how blithely you encourage fellow members to accept what has taken place with this official pronouncement.

Surely you realize the implications of such a statement made by the Church? LDS apologists can no longer use the dismissive "a prophet was only a prophet when acting as such." to excuse false teachings. These were not the opinions of a fallible man. What Brigham Young and the many who followed was OFFICIAL doctrine! supposedly given by GOD!

And now it has now been OFFICIALLY denounced as wrong. This doesn't bother you?

What does this say about the current living prophet? About official doctrine we're supposed to believe right now? Will it be rejected as false teaching someday in the future??

What do you say to members who may find their faith as LDS unraveling because they can no longer trust the words of the prophets as truth? "Put it on the shelf"??

Pierce said...


The key word there is supposedly. We have a fairly distinct way of obtaining revelation from God, and that is what has appeared in Scripture and what is added to scripture. For example, you won't find in the D&C revelations that state that priesthood is limited to certain races. You will, however, find a revelation overturning that policy. See the difference? One was a "supposed" doctrine and one was a real one.
Church policies are just that--policies. They are a tangible way to administer gospel principles. Often they are based on scripture, sometimes not. Usually they are helpful, sometimes not.
In my opinion, the Church is learning from the past. Apostles have reined in their opinions more and are more careful about what they publicly teach. I think that's why people complain about redundancy in General Conference addresses--they are more focused on people living actual fundamental gospel principles. It's not a position that they took overnight. I just don't think Brethren of past generations understood the ramifications of their opinions.
The point is, why would it bother us that we as a people in the church can change for the better and shed old biases, teachings, and policies? That's the point of a living church. This information age has indeed shattered many misconceptions and viewpoints that many held in the past. What would the complaint be if we are presented with more information and enlightenment but didn't do anything with it? God's people love truth, and though we are cautious in adjusting our beliefs, we are not afraid of it. That to me is what a true church is all about and I am happy to see it happen.
I actually trust the Apostles now more than ever because of the discretion that they are exercising. But even now most LDS don't count every utterance as scripture. We are all a little more enlightened now and understand a little bit better how revelation and doctrine is established.

Anonymous said...

So when the prophet Brigham Young publicly teaches about the "Law of God" he was merely speaking his opinion?

"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."

I am not trying to shock anyone, please answer this question. What more would Brigham Young have to say for you to begin questioning him as a true prophet?

Whether it's doctrine or opinion, these obstinate, vile words came out of his mouth. Unrepentant, unremorseful and unapologetic.

Even David and the apostle Paul repented of wrong doing, but Young stood unabashed by this "opinion" his entire life. What if Monson said these same words? Would you write it off as his meaningless opinion?

If "One was a "supposed" doctrine and one was a real one", Answer me this, Should we expect anymore "supposed" doctrines getting replaced by real ones? Where do you draw the line?

Pierce said...

For that I refer you to something that Jeff has published that makes complete sense in the realm of Mormonism. This is just a snippet, but you should read the whole thing. In it Jeff points out that interracial marriage was extremely rare, if non-existent in 1863 and proceeds with this:
Please note that President Young refers to a penalty of "death on the spot" to the "white man of the chosen seed" and fails to mention any penalty applying to the black woman involved. Why? There are at least two reasons.

First, when Brigham Young talks about a male member of "the chosen seed," he is specifically referring to a man holding the priesthood. (See Priesthood home page) Any Melchizedek Priesthood holder who engages in sexual relations outside of marriage breaks the oath and covenant of the priesthood and faces automatic excommunication from the Church (See Disciplinary Procedures). In LDS theology, excommunication is a form of spiritual death.


People back then didn't just take little snippets of what Brigham Young said, they actually understood the context, were familiar with most of his teaching and attitudes and culture, and listened to the whole sermon. The same cannot be said for those who like to nit-pick the real "hot" quotations, which leads them into an error in judgment.
I understand the context and meaning conveyed by President Monson now. He would not say the same things because he speaks and understands things differently than Brigham Young.
Your "righteous anger" is quite unjustified in this case. Your opinion comes from your own misunderstanding and refusal to see past it.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe people are fighting over this!

The church has finally admitted to what everyone has known since the 60s. This is such a non-event I don't understand how anyone can get exercised by it.

And as for trusting "the living ones" goes there were a whole line of "living" "prophets" who continued to teach unjust and, now, unscriptural errors for roughly a century. If trusting the "living" "prophets" gives you confidence you might ask yourself which things future "living" "prophets" will disavow with barely a nod to the way you're being deceived today.

And, yes, that will one day include the horrendous treatment of gay saints that has caused far more family rifts and suicides than I believe anyone is comfortable thinking about.

A Different Anonymous

Kevin K. Rex said...

Pierce and others I've read have pointed to the scriptures as our guiding light when evaluating true doctrine. But, I'm curious as to how Bro. Lindsay, and Pierce, and others, anyone, would address the many scriptures, especially in the Book of Mormon, about how God curses people with "dark" or "black" skin. These scriptures were used by the then living prophets and apostles to justify the priesthood ban. If I were an active member of the church now, I suppose I would do like Elder Robert E. Wells showed us once in a stake conference many years ago in Silverdale, WA; he literally cut out those parts of the scriptures he didn't feel were useful to him and then had professionally bound together those parts he used often. However, I'm not active, and it is because I don't believe that God curses people with "race", and so many of the anachronisms and other problems with the Book of Mormon and the Pearl of Great Price are solved in my mind because I don't believe in that kind of a God anymore. I don't believe in the Mormon God of the Old Testament, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I believe in a new God, who is always merciful and loving. But, I respectfully still would like to hear how those who are believing Mormons address the scriptures used to justify the ban for so many years.

Anonymous said...

In discovering God, one must be careful to consider all the evidence, and to not distort some of the evidence to fit some preconceived idea of what God "must be". Sometimes the evidence seems contradictory - but that inevitably turns out to be a perception that results from failing to think outside our tiny boxes.

God doesn't eliminate a person's agency when that person is called to be the prophet. He doesn't take away their opinions or their ability to state their opinions. He allows Church leaders at all levels to make mistakes. Curiously, that isn't inconsistent with the promise that God will not allow the prophet to lead the Church astray.

Consider the question of blacks and the priesthood. Let's take the position that the ban on blacks holding the priesthood was a matter of opinion rather than revelation. There are important questions to ask.

Did it cause permanent harm to anyone? Absolutely not; not if you believe in the Atonement of Christ and that he can and will make us whole.

Did it lead the Church astray? Not in any material way. They Church still holds the keys and administers saving ordinances, still preaches the gospel of faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Would it have been better had the ban not occurred, or if God had corrected early Church leaders? In my opinion, yes - but I'm sure my opinion counts for nothing in God's eyes. We don't often know the mind of God. Perhaps the situation was like when a parent allows a child to make a serious mistake - but not so serious as to cause permanent harm - in order to teach something that the child has repeatedly failed to learn. Perhaps God was setting us up to demonstrate that a testimony based on reason is not sufficient, that we must have a witness from the Spirit in order to survive the tests that are coming our way.

Anonymous said...

Pierce, you didn't answer the questions. Do you know/love any gay people/members/family members?
Does being in their presence automatically lead your mind to thoughts of their sexual activities?
I served my mission in the Bible belt 20 years ago. Members of the LDS church in some branches told us not to teach black people because they'd never come back to church if we brought black people through the doors. They couldn't even stand to be in their presence. This is exactly how too many LDS today treat homosexuals. They only see what's on the surface, through the lens of their foolish understanding. Through the lens of leaders who for too long refused to show empathy to homosexuals.
It's worth noting a fundamental truth: there have always been and there will always be homosexuals. Study history. Study Esther in the Old Testament. It's a fact of existence. There's no way we can call ourselves Christians and purport to love our neighbors on one hand and deny them basic rights on another.

Anonymous said...

I mean Ruth! Ruth and Naomi!
Sorry, Pierce got me all wound up.

Pierce said...

Anon, I thought the questions were rhetorical since they really don't have anything to do with the topic. And that's what I have a problem with. This subject is brought up often to appeal to people's emotions and is shoe-horned into any and every type of discussion. And again, you're missing the point of why I mentioned "sexual activities" and didn't address my explanation at all. Let's try to look past the emotional response.
If people didn't want to come into church because black people were there, then that is their personal problem. The church didn't preach to exclude African Americans from missionary lessons and church invitations 20 years ago. Just like how I have never heard anyone in church say that homosexuals are banned from attending meetings. I'm glad you brought up being in the Bible belt, because that throws in a whole cultural mindset that excludes the church, and you have yet to take that into consideration (in this dialogue).
Anon, you throw out blanket statements like "that is exactly how homosexuals are being treated today." Really? I suppose you're supporting that with anecdotal evidence. Because 1. I have never seen that before in my wards, even when, as a ward missionary, the missionaries and I have brought in men with these tendencies and fellowshipped them with ward members. 2. You still refuse to acknowledge the many talks and statements on this subject given by church leaders. I'm not saying at all that bigotry doesn't exist in people (including church members), I'm very sure it does. But not in a generalized way that you describe.
You can't reconcile that the fact that homosexuality has not been viewed as an acceptable practice until very, very recently. The DSM classified it has a mental disorder for years (that's not a religious book, by the way). But people like you love to practice cultural relativism and superimpose your attitudes on past generations, expecting them to think and do as you do even though you are (at least partially) a product of your environment and culture. It is disingenuous in the extreme. Now people are shifting their attitudes, and the church is re-calibrating itself as well, but you still want to throw it under the bus because it hasn't said "it's all good--do whatever."
Anyway, the priesthood ban and the doctrines that condemn fornication are in no way related. The only things that may be related are how church members have administered them over the years. And for that I do sympathize, and so does, it seems, current church leadership.
Because you are persistent: I have known/do know gay people.

Pierce said...

Jeff will probably have a more detailed answer for you, Rex. There are certainly plenty of papers, talks, research, etc. that discuss the curse of Ham/Canaan, as well as the Lamanite curses mentioned in the Book of Mormon. There is pretty convincing evidence that shows that there are different explanations of what these mean. Have you seen this scholarship yet? I know blackmormon.org includes much of it. The result of this is that the Brethren have misinterpreted scriptures the same way that mainstream Christianity did (the Ham curse is not unique to Mormonism).
The other scenario that I see is that these curses were genuine, but using them to justify a ban is irrelevant. Again, another misinterpretation.
A third I see is that these curses were literal, genuine, could justify a priesthood ban, and God for some reason cursed entire races. I too am uncomfortable with this explanation, even if past generations were not. Therefore, I choose to open my mind up and explore other possibilities (such as the first two examples). Truth is truth, and it is what we as Latter-day Saints seek, even if it takes a long time to get there.
You, for example, choose to worship the "new god." We all have choices in our beliefs. I strongly believe that Mormon doctrine is actually broad enough in many way to allow individuals to understand things a little differently. In other ways it is not broad enough, and that is good too. I chose to understand the priesthood ban outside of one narrow interpretation. Critics often try to restrict that freedom by binding me to old teachings and journal entries, but that means nothing to me and my discipleship.

Anonymous said...

Significant statement? NOT!

It was only a few years ago we heard a Bishop screaming at a boy confessing his homosexual feelings calling him a fag, queer and a harlot. No support from the Stake in the matter.

The church has put down and scarred blacks for years. Sorry. Not significant at all.

Kevin Rex said...

Pierce: Thank you very much for your reply. I, too, had hopes that the Church was much more broad and open as I began questioning things a couple of years ago. I was very sad, even to the point of depression, over having to eventually be true to my own spiritual feelings and denounce Mormonism. Interestingly, maybe you'll find, that it was my coming out as gay to my wife of 27 years and my 5 children, their families, and my extended family, after hiding it for more than 40 years (but never acting on it, mind you) that really tipped me over the edge, so to speak, of realizing how harmful Mormonism was to me personally. And, yes, I've read many, many articles and books and countless apologists, like Bro. Lindsay here, on this race issue, as well as most of the other troublesome issues. 3 years ago I started a list of the troubling things in Mormonism, and I came up with 165 of them. I lumped all of the Book of Mormon ones into one category, too, as well as Book of Abraham, so those aren't counted individually. The "new" God I've found made me just the way I am and yes, the very hurtful rantings by Elder Packer and many others over the years about homosexuality were very, very hard to bear. Thank you again for keeping an open mind. You might enjoy learning how several homosexuals have re-interpreted the Bible's messages on homosexuality. It's also interesting to me that the D&C and the Book of Mormon don't speak of homosexuality specifically, at all. A book by Brad Carmack entitled "Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student's Perspective" is a magnificent compilation of things about Mormonism and homosexuality. I believe Bro. Carmack has a spiritual gift from God in his logic in that book. Sincerely, Kevin.

Pierce said...

Great story. It's ludicrous and is coming from an anonymous person, which means nothing to me. I go by my own experiences, and my experience is that nobody in America seriously calls anyone a harlot. Or yells obscenities in church. Maybe you were attending Westboro. Whatever. Plus, you rebutted everything I had to say with "Not." That might have worked for Bart Simpson, but not for people here.

Even if it were true as you stated it, the bishop was wrong, and anyone here would agree he was.

Let this show the readership why I lamented Anonymous's initial comment. These folks who are obsessed with homosexuality will shoe-horn it into every discussion they can even if it doesn't make any sense to, and not even try to look at things realistically or address logical rebuttals.

Pierce said...


I also am grateful for our dialogue. There are a lot of things that I find "troubling," but if you've ever read or heard Terry Givens, who is a bit of a thinker, I would say that I follow his approach to difficult things. For me at this point, I still choose to not let go of all of my experiences and understanding in spite of my lack of understanding on certain things. This allows me to truly explore and understand difficult issues.

I also am aware of what seems like a lack of scriptures concerning homosexuality. I think they're there, but I'm sure there are different ways to interpret it as you mentioned. I think that it was a pretty common understanding that it was immoral, so it's not really a big issue in the scriptures. It's more of a recent controversy, and modern prophets in almost all generations this century have addressed it clearly. So I do not think it is a policy like the priesthood ban.

I truly believe that the only way to understand this issue as well as the marriage issue is through the eye of the Plan of Salvation. What we know of God's purpose and our purpose is that 1. He brings forth children and brings to pass their immortality and eternal life and 2. We are to be as He is. He established that man and woman are to join together in marriage and accomplish this together. That is how it is done. We are also meant to start that here (to the best of our abilities, not everyone can have children, not everyone has an opportunity for marriage). Relationships outside of this order of things frustrate that Plan, including heterosexual relationships. My understanding of this Plan is why I don't feel ashamed in the Church's position on Prop 8. The government has policies for married people (whether or not it should is another matter). People should therefore define what marriage is. To the LDS, who understand the Plan of Salvation, marriage is a lasting union between a man and a woman, and that's how we define it.
In other words, interpreting the Bible is not as important as what has clearly been revealed.

I don't know what it's like to reconcile being gay and having Christian beliefs. I do know it's hard, and I do know that other people have not made it easy. There's no good excuse for it. What I am grateful for is the ability of individuals and church leaders to adjust, and I think the church is doing a fairly good job with adjusting. Thanks again.

Bakedizzle said...

I don't see anything in the official statement that indicates that Brigham Young did the wrong thing by instituting the policy, only that the speculations as to WHY it was instituted have been wrong. Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Pierce, I find it incredible you don't see the relationship between how LDS people used to treat blacks and how they now treat gays. You baffle me. You think it's an agenda, but it's plainly visible.

Bakedizzle said...

I also don't see any conflict between the 1949, 1969, and 2013 statements, honestly. The 1949 statement doesn't say black people couldn't receive the priesthood due to their lack of valiance in the pre-mortal realm. Only that what we did prior to mortality has an impact on mortality. But it may be that they were MORE faithful, and thus able to handle the trials that might come without receiving the priesthood in this life. I imagine it's really a case-by-case thing (not all valiant people are white, not all "unvaliant" people are black. It goes both ways). The other possible conflict I see is that Brigham Young said their inability to receive the priesthood was due to their fathers (ie Cain) rejecting the Gospel. The current statement doesn't necessarily disavow this notion- it only disavows that black skin is the mark of a curse. In other words, there were black people who effectively bore a "curse" in that they could not hold the priesthood, but it wasn't because God didn't like them or anything like that, it was just a circumstance of life. My wife, for example, has only one lung. One could argue that this is a "curse" or in other words a trial she has to bare, but it is not necessarily because of God's wrath upon her, it's just the lot she was dealt. I hope that makes sense.

Anonymous said...

Let it go, Bakedizzle. Those ideas are false. There's a disconnect between what was taught, and what it is actually true.

Bakedizzle said...

cAnonymous: Sorry- which ideas are false? The idea that the none of the three statements I mention claim that black skin = lack of valiance? The idea that maybe Brigham Young was, in fact, acting under revelation, but unfortunately people made improper speculation on the reason for the revelation?
I hope you don't think I'm saying black people are or ever were intrinsically bad, less valiant, etc. What I'm saying is that earlier official church statements didn't claim that either. Only that, for some reason known to God, the priesthood was not to go to black men at that time. Just like it was not to go to the gentiles until the revelation to Peter.

Pierce said...


It is certainly possible that it was revelation, but I don't think it's probably. Revelation normally isn't a hidden or secret thing. If God revealed something that was to be doctrine, we would have it the same way we have other revelations. Even the lifting of the ban was done in this way. Since there is no real source to trace it to, it would be unwise to put your weight behind it being revelation.

Anon, what is visible is what I see. And what I see in my ward and what is taught in conference currently is the opposite of what you're saying. I'm tired of your circular accusations. So long.

Bakedizzle said...

Pierce- fair point. After writing my posts I did think to myself that I typically take as doctrine or official church position only that which is canonized and/or endorsed by the entire first presidency and quorum of the 12. Everything else pretty much falls in the categories of "opinion" or "counsel" as far as I can tell. However, I don't think we can use the statement on lds.org to say that Brigham Young didn't receive revelation, as the statement says nothing of the sort.

Pierce said...

No I agree with you there. I think the article merely explained things in a very general way. I don't think it's coincidence that it does not call people "right and wrong." And in that way I'm with you. I don't think anyone here is really in a position to say such things. All I can say is that I personally disagree with the policy, and the Church eventually collectively disagreed with it, sought revelation to get it overturned, and did so. I think that is what is most important, and I understand why there wasn't a long diatribe about why or why not Brigham Young was wrong.

As far as our little conversation goes, I think this line is telling:

"Nevertheless, given the long history of withholding the priesthood from men of black African descent, Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter the policy."

I think this more or less really distinguishes the two.

Fred M said...


I think you are being more than a bit disingenuous when it comes to your analysis of the latest statement and the 1949 statement and your inability to see any contradictions between them.

In the 1949 statement, Brigham Young is quoted as saying many inhabitants of earth are "cursed with a skin of blackness." The new statement specifically "disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse."

The 1949 statement, which is all about why black men weren't allowed to have the priesthood, then goes on to say that the "conduct of spirits in premortal existence" has an impact on our situations on earth. The new statement also disavows theories that black skin "reflects actions in a premortal life."

Do you really think the 1949 statement was teaching the church that black people were more faithful in premortal life? And that's why the priesthood was withheld from them? Because they were so incredibly valiant? Are you kidding? I know people like to see what they want to see, but do you have no concept of history at all? Or are you just being willfully dense?

The church issued the new statement in order to right the wrongs of the past. Let's support this action by moving forward, not continuing the tradition of denial it's trying to counter.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Yes, Church leaders and Church policies can be mistaken. Even First Presidency statements have the potential to require later correction. The possibility for error among Church leaders is not a novel implication of this recent statement, but something that goes back to ancient days and something that kicks off this dispensation, with Joseph's massive blunder of losing the 116 pages being the topic of divine chastisement early in the Doctrine & Covenants. Mistakes happen. Sometimes painful ones that affect many people. But this does not give us the excuse to ignore the authority that has been given to Church leaders and to defiantly say, "Well, if you could be wrong with this one thing, what else are you wrong about, and why should we ever listen to you again?" I choose to sustain our leaders even though I know they are mortal. There are times when I disagree, but this can be done respectfully and with a spirit of kindness and support rather than looking to make a public spectacle.

The history of the former policy is complex and murky. Finger pointing is easy. Ultimately, we can point fingers at the Lord and wonder why He didn't reveal more and fix things faster. There is much to complain about if you're looking for trouble, but there is much to be grateful for now, and I think gratitude is the better attitude to foster.

Bakedizzle said...

Fred M:
I think you misunderstand me. First of all, let me say that I am entirely open to the possibility that I am wrong, and I really don't think the mean-spirited nature of the latter half of your response to me was necessary. You could have disagreed without resorting to insults. In general a respectful disagreement is more likely to produce a positive outcome and possibly even a change of viewpoint than name calling.
Second, let me clear up a few things. Number 1: I will concede the point about "cursed with a skin of blackness." You are right there. Brigham Young did call black skin a curse and the current statement says that it is not. My intention was to point out that not holding the priesthood could be considered a curse in and of itself- it puts one at a temporary disadvantage, just like having only one lung does for my wife. I was trying to say that there was a sort of "curse," even though the reasons for it may be unclear and black skin was not a mark thereof (since other people have not held the priesthood either). But through the atonement all that is unfair and bad will be made right. But I did mistake in thinking Brigham Young didn't expressly call black skin a curse. I guess he did say that, and I guess he was just flat-out wrong about it. I'll try to read more carefully next time.
Number 2: No, I do not think black people were all more faithful in pre-mortal life. I think some were and some weren't. In fact I stated in my original post that it is probably case-by-case. I do not think that having black skin correlates in any way to pre-mortal valiance. What I do believe is that pre-mortal actions had an impact on where we find ourselves now. The most obvious example is the one where lucifer didn't get a body because of pre-mortal actions. Another is that Abraham was among the noble and great ones and was chosen before he was born to fulfill a certain mission. So clearly past actions had some impact. For those of us who came to earth, however, it is much harder to associate valiance with our current situation. I imagine plenty of people who have never held the priesthood or received temple ordinances were stellar spirits (the various reformers, Ghandi, Mother Teresa, MLK Jr, etc). I also believe plenty of people who never held the priesthood were probably less valiant. So there is no correlation between valiance and holding the priesthood. However, the 1949 statement doesn't say there is such a correlation. Only a correlation between previous actions and our current condition. In fact, it expressly says that the details of this principle are not known. It goes out of its way NOT to say that they were less valiant. I'll state it one more time to be sure I am clear: Black skin does not reflect actions of a pre-mortal life, as there is no correlation between how valiant we were and what color our skin is. However, past actions do have an impact on current and future situations. That is all that it says.
If you still disagree with me, that is fine. Please be respectful in any subsequent posts to me. Who knows? Maybe I'll be swayed to your point of view.

Fred M said...

Jeff--I agree that we should sustain our leaders, and I don't think this should be used as an excuse to reject everything we don't like that they say. But I do think that this statement is absolutely monumental in that for the first time (to my knowledge) the church is officially acknowledging that false doctrine came from the First Presidency to the entire church. Ultimately, I think that this gives extra weight to the importance of gaining spiritual confirmation of the things we're being taught--it's not a license to run rampant.

Fred M said...


Sorry, I didn't mean to be disrespectful. Got a little riled up there.

I think the intent of the 1949 statement is as important as the actual wording. Do you know what I mean? They were addressing why blacks couldn't have the priesthood. And then mentioned that actions in premortal life impact our status here. It's very easy to connect those dots, even if it wasn't explicitly said. For further confirmation check out Elder George F. Richards' (of the Quorum of the Twelve) conference talks in 1939 and 1947 about the issue. He clearly says that not being valiant in premortal life led to black people being cursed, and the 1949 statement is a direct outgrowth of those talks.

But of course, I could be wrong about this too! That's kind of the point of all of this, so I shouldn't ignore it...

Bakedizzle said...

Fred M-
I do understand the reading between the lines idea, and I certainly see what you mean. I do like to give the First Presidency the benefit of the doubt where I can though, and I reiterate that to me, the 1949 statement seems to specifically avoid saying that black people were less valiant.
But I also know that there were plenty of apostles and at least one prophet who seemed to think black people were inferior. I have never had a problem admitting that they had flawed logic in a lot of what they were saying. One thing I would be interested to know- George F Richards was never a member of the First Presidency. Did any of the three members of the 1949 presidency have any statements the specifically state anything about black people being inferior or less valiant? That would be George Albert Smith, J. Reuben Clark, and David O. McKay. From what I can gather President McKay never felt that way, but he also never felt the time was right to lift the ban. I don't know about the other 2 though.

Kevin Rex said...

Bro. Lindsay, Jeff, thank you for replying. I have appreciated your various apologetics on the Book of Mormon, and that is why I asked you specifically, as well as anyone else replying here, about the actual verbiage of the Book of Mormon scriptures that say the Lord curses some people with dark skin. I respectfully submit that you did not answer that question in your reply. With all of your knowledge about the in's and out's of anachronisms and chiasms and flocks of this and that, I wonder, still what would be your reply to the actual verbiage of the canonized Book of Mormon about dark skin being a curse. My reply, if I were a believing Mormon, would be that the Book of Mormon itself says it has mistakes, and I guess that cursing with dark skin is one of the mistakes, since we've now disavowed racism, and that we as true believing Mormons shouldn't condemnt the things of God (the rest of the Book of Mormon), just like we shouldn't condemn the living prophets for being human beings influenced by their culture and the times they live in. But, that makes it very difficult for the many Mormons who don't think much for themselves, as they sort-of drift around with every wind of doctrine, practicing polygamy, then giving it up, then being racist, then no, then condemning homosexuality and same-sex marriage, then not? Maybe, I'm hopeful, but not counting on it.

Pierce said...

It seems to me that Mormons just really find themselves in a big pickle. If they continue on propagating ideas and teachings that were built upon on assumption, then they are ignorant, unenlightened, and are willfully in error, and evil. But if they act upon better understanding and change because of enlightenment and progress, then they are "tossed around with every wind of doctrine," mind changers, inconsistent, and false. Guess these are the only two ways to view things.

Alright, I've probably hijacked this discussion enough

Anonymous said...

"The history of the former policy is complex and murky....but there is much to be grateful for now, and I think gratitude is the better attitude to foster."

So once again, there is no real answer. Everything is complex and murky. Again we're asked to close our eyes, just accept and move on.

Anonymous said...

You have convinced me. PTSS.Post traumatic Stress Syndrome. How many former members, non members, members have PTSS delivered at the hands of narcissists that hide behind the mantle of Church Leadership. Why is. Utahs suicide rate so high. Why is the use of antidepressants so high in Utah.

Bakedizzle said...

Kevin Rex-
I don't know that you'll like my answer to your question, but I think I have one. Note, of course, that this is simply my take on the issue. I have long believed (certainly since well before this statement was published) that in the scriptures you mention there is a separation between the curse and the mark. They exist within the same verses, but seem to be two separate things. 2 Nephi 5:21, for example, says that God cursed the Lamanites. Then, in what seems to me a separate context, it says that God caused a skin of blackness to come upon them in order to distinguish them from the Nephites. The blackness was not a curse, it was a distinguishing feature that, in this case, went along with the curse. However, the curse could be removed based on personal righteousness, and didn't necessarily involve a lightening of the skin. I'm sure you'll cite 3 Nephi 2:15 as an example that contradicts what I'm saying, but once again there is a separtaion: the curse was removed AND their skin became white. Meanwhile there is no indication that the Anti-Nephi-Lehies became white. Also in Alma 55 Laman, who has defected to the Nephites and joined the people of Ammon (AKA the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, see Alma 27, 47), is able to convince the Lamanites that he is one of them. This suggests that he still looks like them, yet surely the curse was lifted from him as it was the people of Ammon (see Alma 23). Furthermore, as mentioned in the statement on lds.org, the Book of Mormon specifically says that all are alike unto God, and that He invites all to come to Him, both black and white, bond and free (see 2 Nephi 26).
So to summarize, my take on it is that in the case of the Lamanites, the dark skin was nothing more than a distinguishing feature. The curse was separation from God, a curse which later on came upon others without a skin of blackness happening. Hope that helps.

Kevin Rex said...

Bakedizzle: Good try; almost thou persuadest me to return to Mormonism. I think if you and Bro. Lindsay were apostles, I just might consider it.

Kevin Rex said...

Here's a troublesome verse, Bro. Lindsay, Bakedizzle, and Pierce.
from Jacob in the Book of Mormon.
8 O my brethren, I fear that unless ye shall repent of your sins that their skins will be awhiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God.
I grew up in Richfield, UT, where the Indian placement program was in full swing during the late 70's and early 80's. Pres. Kimball's teachings about Lamanites turning white after being in the placement program were used prominently (almost as doctrine, since he was the prophet). That's about as racist as a person can get, and that's what so troublesome. These racist teachings were more than "myths" and "folklore", they were taught to us, carefully taught, like the song from "South Pacific" tells us. And isn't it amazing that we get such plain and simple truths from a Broadway musical. And "the world" is such a horrible place, ripe for destruction and all that. Just doesn't ring true. It's like the Sesame Street song, how to tell the difference between two opposite things; it's pretty easy to tell: Book of Mormon, very racist. South Pacific, trying to help humanity understand racism.

Anonymous said...

Oh the irony!


I wonder if it would ever have come to this if the church had stayed out of Prop 8 politics and left it a civil matter for California.

Bakedizzle said...

Kevin Rex-
While I would be delighted if you did return to the church, I didn't figure my post would bring that about. You asked a question, though, and that's my answer to it.The verse in Jacob doesn't trouble me terribly, given the context. Quite the opposite, in fact, as Jacob is praising the dark-skinned lamanites for their relative righteousness. The Nephites were actually guilty of approximately the same sin that we are attributing to a lot of Mormons today- thinking they're better than someone else because of (among other things) skin color. What Jacob is telling them, as I see it, is "great, superficially your skin is white. Congratulations- would you like an award? Unfortunately for you, your spirits aren't so "white." The lamanites, in a spiritual sense, are whiter than you despite their superficial skin color." In other words, he is using their perceptions to make an analogy. "You value whiteness? You shouldn't. You should value spiritual cleanliness, which the Lamanites have in greater abundance than you do." Unfortunately lots of church members seem to have missed that concept, various general authorities included.

Kevin Rex said...

Bakedizzle, I like your context, which I did pick up on, too, I just didn't paste the verse, but read before and after it. But, you just said it, the prophet of the Lord, whose name is signed beautifully at the bottom of my mission call (I'm 50 now), Spencer W. Kimball, who wrote and sold his "Miracle of Forgiveness" telling me that masturbation is what caused my homosexuality and who preached and "teached" that the Indian placement program would turn the Indians white, "missed that concept". Yikes, that's a scary concept in itself.

Kevin Rex said...

And (sorry my dander's up just a bit) Spencer W. Kimball is just a "various" general authorities? Come on, you'll have to admit he was a prophet, the prophet who received the revelation in 1978 anyways. How ironic can that be? Why didn't he tell us back then that his Indian placement program teachings were false. That would've gone a long way to helping things. Instead, all we got was a measly CES apology from Elder McConkie telling us to "forget everything I ever said". Another paradox, as how could anyone ever forget anything Elder McConkie spoke with his bombast. Just too hard to wrap my mind around. Forget it, let's all move on and pretend nothing's wrong? That doesn't work for my mind. But, it's been nice chatting. I would like to get more out of Bro. Lindsay, though, including on the latest LDS Topic published as "Polygamy" where we throw Brigham Young under the bus again.

Bakedizzle said...

Oh, I do admit he was a prophet. I just don't get so fussed about the prophet getting it wrong. It unfortunately happens. As I mentioned earlier, I take as doctrine only that which is either canonized or endorsed not only by the first presidency but also the entire quorum of the 12. Everything else is opinion/advice/counsel that is subject to error. Errors have also been made by ancient prophets, such as Peter being corrected by the Lord in his perception of the gentiles as unclean, Jonah supposing that Ninevah would be destroyed no matter what, and Captain Moroni's scathing letter to Pahoran where he says the spirit is telling him that Pahoran is trampling God's laws, which turns out to be wrong. Prophets are wrong sometimes, and sometimes grievously so. Nevertheless they are still prophets, and when I follow them collectively, things tend to work out. I'm sure that's still unsatisfying, but it's where I stand. Thanks for being civil in your discussion with me.

Eloicious said...

The new statement by the Church disavows past explanations for not allowing Blacks to have the priesthood, but it doesn't disavow the claim that the priesthood ban was God's will, allowing members of the church who are so inclined to continue to think that while B. Young may have been wrong about the reasons for the priesthood ban, he wasn't wrong to institute it. This is too little, too late. The church doesn't have to apologize as much as it needs to stop allowing God to take the fall for Brigham's mistake. For once, some courage would be nice. Missionaries are still telling black investigators that this used to be God's will, an idea that is laughable on its face.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Good question on the Book of Mormon. While there was certainly a lot of bigotry in the Nephites' attitudes toward the Lamanites, caution is needed in interpreting references to blackness or apparent racial differences. See the discussion on my LDSFAQ page on race and priesthood, where one question gets into the Book of Mormon issues. That discussion concludes with this statement: "On the other hand, it is possible or even likely that the Laman and Lemuel's group intermarried with darker-skinned natives in the Americas and through simple genetics became a people that could be characterized as darker-skinned than the Nephites for some period of time (both groups may have eventually experienced a lot of blending of genes due to intermarriage). Intermarriage with pagans was strictly contrary to Old Testament law and would be viewed as bringing a curse upon the Lamanites. The extent and nature of such a curse would be open to debate (spiritual only or genetic), but appears to have played a significant role in the attitudes of the Nephites toward the Lamanites. I expect that the Nephites also intermarried with locals, perhaps after conversion so they were no-longer pagan, so the issue is surely complicated."

Anonymous said...

One last thing. I have a Native American friend with a ponytail. He looks so good. I assume he cannot work in the temple because of the pony tail. I have an African American friend who looks good being black. With white skin his huge lips and ears just would not look right.

I speak as one ousted from the Temple due to my beard, even though I had a dr's excuse. It's tough to pay $12,000 per year tithing to a church full of vile hatred for me.

Anonymous said...

I have heard of someone being kicked out of the temple for a beard! Where do you live?

Pierce said...

La La Land

Mormography said...

The official statement’s defense is every-one-else-did-it. American Christian churches were segregated, the lineage of Cain was believed in America since 1730, etc. This defense essential concedes that Mormonism is not special and provides yet another assertion to the assessment that Mormonism is an American Product of its time period, not the creation of some extra-terrestrial force.

Once again there is an attempt to embrace blind faith and divorce reason for the behavior by describing the reasoning as “complex and murky”. Since Mormanity invoked the 116 page example I will remind that the reasoning to the 116 anecdote is built into the anecdote’s cannon and cannot be divorced as Mormanity has previously attempted. Preventing conspirators is the reason given in the cannon and it is a fallacy.

Mormography said...

It appears with Mormon Apologism is nothing more than an abuse of the English language. Words like suppression are redefined in such away the word could never exist and in the case above revelation as defined being the last adopter of things, quite the opposite of what the word actually means.

Pierce said...


To me, a person who attempts to paint every situation as black OR white, despite the many complexities, is not displaying intellectual strength. It's so much easier to label things, I understand, but theose ideas don't really mean much. And that is what I see from your comments, especially when it is used to arrive at a false dichotomy.
This statement is not a "defense," nor is it a justification. It is a statement of things as they were.
The false dichotomy appears when you say (with my interpretation) that since a policy regarding priesthood was instituted based on the culture and mindsets of 19th century Americans, that God did not restore Priesthood to Joseph Smith in the first place nor give him any revelations. That does not work--one thing does not have to lead to another thing.
Folks like you love to take your 21st century mindset and judge other generations by it. What scriptures show us is not a God who built a 21st century church in 6,000 b.c., but a God who is the source of morality and who has to work with people's biases, cultures, mindsets, and philosophies until they arrive at a higher plane. I believe that often His will is not done until WE say "thy will be done." The evidence of this is abundant--from the Law of Moses to Peter having to be convinced to take the gospel to the Gentiles. And there is no formula for it. God never took our freedom away, nor is it taught that our brains were all completely re-wired when we were baptized.
So anyone who will ignore the "complexities and murkiness" of this particular issue is simply ignorant to how God has dealt with people, policies, and issues in the past. There are times when he forcefully commanded, times when it was gentle persuasion, and times when there was silence. But even still those commands were executed only so far as the people were willing to take them.

Mormography said...


Sigh, whatever. ........

Am not sure how you interpret my statements the way you do. I am not sure what you claim I painting black or white or what it is you think i might be ignoring and what anything you stated has to do with my statements.

Your statements appear to further concede that masses of prior generations of Mormons were lead astray by imperfect and flawed leadership as to believe false reasons for the revealed priesthood policy. You further appear to concede that this new "revelation" (though not cannon as it has not be voted on as required by current apologist thought) does not actually reveal anything other than the reasoning behind prior revealed policy will never be known. That is, it instructs the individual to turn a blind eye to prior statements and ignore them by simply dismissing the situation around them as complex and murky.

To not be ignorant of how God deals with people requires you Pierce to accept pluralism. At the same time Moses'' people lived under the law of moses jethro's did not. At the same moment in time that Jesus organized 12 apostles' in the Old World, the BoM indicates he did in the new world and possibly other places as well.

With regards to how the word revelation is used in the English language, the introduction of the BoM is conveniently declared as not cannon or revelation by apologists, but rather one uninspired man's opinion Bruce M. When the word principal is removed from that introduction it is bizarrely declared revelation by apologist. Removing the word principal was not discovering that which was hidden or presenting a new idea, it was merely being the last to accept current understanding. Being one of the last churches to open the ranks of leadership is being the last adopter of things. In my native English this does not fit the word revelation, but apparently in the apologist dialect it does.

Pierce said...

" This defense essential concedes that Mormonism is not special and provides yet another assertion to the assessment that Mormonism is an American Product of its time period, not the creation of some extra-terrestrial force."

That is the statement in question, and the false dichotomy.

I actually don't know how far that I am going to concede that people were "lead astray." First, I don't think that Brigham Young was some sort of enigma in his time. The race issue POLARIZED America and lead to a civil war. I view it more as a attitude, though it was made policy by Brigham Young and successors continued in it.

"Your statements appear to further concede that masses of prior generations of Mormons were lead astray by imperfect and flawed leadership as to believe false reasons for the revealed priesthood policy."

If by revealed you mean a God to Man revelation, then you are incorrect. This was not a revelation, but a policy.

"You further appear to concede that this new "revelation"..."

I don't consider this article on the church website to be a revelation, nor does anyone else. I just don't get your accusation that it "instructs" me to turn a blind eye to the situation around me? What is the situation around me? Black people have equal access to everything in the church that I do. So am I being instructed to turn a blind eye to the past? No--this article is addressing the past with clarity and accuracy. You just seem to dissatisfied that the church has not come to the same conclusions about those facts that you have.

I don't quite understand the title page bit at the end. So the title page isn't considered to be canon. What is the point? We obviously have more information about the people who lived here and that Book of Mormon people weren't the only ones on the continent like many assumed (including the person who wrote the Introduction). Have we claimed that the title page was handed to us by God? The footnotes too? The church logo? And when did the church declare the new introduction was a revelation?
So what's the problem?
I think you have more of a problem with your assumptions about our doctrine of what revelation is and how it comes than what the doctrine actually is. I too have problems with them.

Mormography said...


Glad to see you accept pluralism.

Adding to a list of items where in apologist concede that Mormons are not special does not fit the definition of false dichotomy, but thank you for adding to my list of items where in apologists abuse the English language.

You do indeed have problems understanding Mormonism compared to just about every other Mormon I have interacted with. The article is clear that the policy is a matter of revelation, not the whims of man. Mckay wished to receive approval from God to change the policy, but God did not authorize it, not until later did God give revelation to change the policy. What the article does disavow as the whims of man is the reasoning behind the action. (unless you are suggesting that the authority to act in Gods name is not determined by god, but the whims of man) When Mormanity conveniently declared the whole thing complex and murky, both he and the artcile are instructing you to turn a blind eye to the reasoning given for the action. This is not a matter of opinion or have to do with reaching some unstated different conclusion as you state in what appears to be some sort anger derived ad hominen attack.

Given that you declare the article as neither cannon nor revelation, the article could be completely wrong, meaning BY could have been right about his proposed reasons for the policy.

Pierce said...

Just for clarification, I consider the Official Declaration regarding the lifting of the ban to be revelation. I do not, however, consider this new article to be a revelation, as you insinuated
("You further appear to concede that this new 'revelation'"...).

From my understanding of the concept of pluralism, yes, the LDS believe that truth is found in all religions, though we invite everyone to receive more. We do not accept that concept in it's most general sense, however. I'm not big on labels. Not sure God is either. But I think He's a pluralist to some degree.

What you were saying was a false dichotomy, whether you see it that way or not. "Because things didn't happen this way, in this instance, Mormonism is not special (I guess you could clarify what you mean. I'm reading that as "true" or "inspired" based on the tone of your other comments) And that, friend-o, is a false dichotomy. Because A does not have to lead to B.

I'm wondering if you even read the whole article before writing up your critique. For example, you say:

"both he and the artcile are instructing you to turn a blind eye to the reasoning given for the action"

The reasons for the ban are laid out very honestly, openly, and clearly:

*The Church was established in 1830, during an era of great racial division in the United States.
*Even so, racial discrimination was widespread in the North as well as the South
*Brigham Young announced a policy restricting men of black African descent from priesthood ordination.
*The justifications for this restriction echoed the widespread ideas about racial inferiority that had been used to argue for the legalization of black “servitude” in the Territory of Utah.
*Nevertheless, given the long history of withholding the priesthood from men of black African descent, Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter the policy, and they made ongoing efforts to understand what should be done. After praying for guidance, President McKay did not feel impressed to lift the ban
*Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.
*Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form

So what is this "blind eye" you're referring to? It's completely spelled out! The article mentions everything from racism in the 1800's to the false theories that people came up to support the policy. Today, those things are acknowledged and disavowed. The Article doesn't ask us to do anything one way or another with the information. It only exists to provide everyone with information and lets you form your own opinions. You seem to just be ornery about the church not coming to the same conclusion as you (that it's all false and this proves it).

When it is said that this is "complex and murky," we are only dismissing your assumption that you can easily and readily judge men to be false prophets because they didn't do things the way that we in the late 20th/ early 21st century century would have done things.

And yes, this is not revelation/canon and it is subject to change. This is a church website and it will be updated. Our critics are really going to have to start getting comfortable with the fact that we don't accept every little talk/policy/pamphlet/website/ address/artwork as revelation.

I do not have any authority, nor has it been revealed to me personally, nor has the church decided whether or not Brigham Young was "right" or "wrong." Attaching those labels to it goes outside of our scope of judgment. And maybe that's what bugs you the most.
However, we are not ignorant of the origins of this policy and why it was instituted and carried on. And the article addresses that splendidly.

Mormography said...

sigh ... wow. I could spend my energy repeating the answers I have already given, but you probably just continue to ignore them and take the opportunity to engage in more ad homenin attacks "ornery", "bugs you", asserting I have made assumptions that I have never made, deliberate misreadings and misquoting, and further abuse of the English language. These are all indications that you may not be interested in genuine dialogue. verbosity in and of itself is not dialogue.

Pierce said...

What a thoughtful answer. I guess if I have addressed your points already (I did not ignore them, I even copy and pasted them into my responses), and you have nothing else to bring to the table, then you do either ending up repeating yourself or throwing in the towel.

The internet is just no fun anymore. If people get even a whiff of sarcasm or general humor, they throw their hands in the air and start using college words like "ad hominem attack." Nobody's attacking you. Nobody is "angry." I didn't use the word "ornery" to help win an argument (which is what the logical fallacy of 'ad hominem' really is). No need to sidestep things with complaints. Misquoting? What was misquoted? Abuse of the English language? I explained how you created a false dichotomy, and you responded by saying I am still just an English abuser. This is your new talking point in the discussion on the statement? So be it. I addressed your points, you complained about things, I guess we're good.


Pierce said...

I have also noticed a trend as I've looked back at your participation on this site for years. At every turn, there is an accusation of misrepresentation. If this somehow is true--that just about everyone that has engaged you misrepresents you--maybe the problem is in the presentation. Food for thought.

Mormography said...

Or may be it is the audience (virulent anti-pluralist). Food for thought (or is that a false dichotomy since you are the self proclaimed expert on the subject of false dichotomies)

Pierce said...

"self proclaimed expert..." Well I expected a little more out of you, to be honest.

Is it really more probable that multiple individuals in different topics over a period of many years all have the same problem of misrepresenting the same individual, rather than that individual just throwing that accusation out? I'm going to go with the presenter before blaming everyone else.

You have raised good questions in the past about things on this blog, and they weren't always fully addressed. On this particular topic though, you have overreached.

You have to resort to calling this update on the website a "revelation," when it is not. Nobody believes it is. ("you further appear to concede that this new "revelation...")

You claim that we are trying to redefine that word by saying it means being the last adopter of things. We did not. It still just means God revealing things to man.
(..."and in the case above revelation as defined being the last adopter of things, quite the opposite of what the word actually means."

You suggest that the introduction of the BOM was given by revelation, but we have not adopted it as such.

You have condemned the article for encouraging people to turn a blind eye to why the ban was instituted, but ignore the fact that it lays out the history clearly, without any judgments or assumptions. You further do not indicate how the article "instructs" us to turn a blind eye.
( ..."instructing you to turn a blind eye to the reasoning given for the action.")

A simple web definition says that a false dichotomy is a situation in which "limited alternatives are considered, when in fact there is at least one additional option."
You introduced this by saying "The official statement’s defense is every-one-else-did-it....This defense essential concedes that Mormonism is not special and provides yet another assertion to the assessment that Mormonism is an American Product of its time period, not the creation of some extra-terrestrial force." You do not accept the possibility that people are products of their time, yet God can still establish His church among them. It is a very valid alternative to your limited conclusion and is demonstrated in the Bible as well. If you think that applying this term to this situation is an abuse, then we can pick another term. It doesn't change your narrow conclusions. I think the term is fine as applied here.

Your broad-brushed opinion that we are "virulent, anti-plusist" has nothing to do with misrepresentation. Most of your conclusions have been based off your own assumptions, as I have shown. You can say that I'm misrepresenting you, but that's just lazy.

Mormography said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mormography said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mormography said...

I glad to see the internet is still fun you. =)

Here is to repeating myself:

“You have to resort to calling this update on the website a "revelation," Wrong. I called it an official statement (look at the history), then showed you a little bit of your reflection by stating “You further appear to concede that this new "revelation" “ You deemed this a misrepresentation (irony) clarifying that you do not consider it revelation, to which I responded to clarifications by stating “the article could be completely wrong, meaning BY could have been right about his proposed reasons for the policy.” This went un-retorted.

“You claim that we are trying to redefine that word by saying it means being the last adopter of things.” I claim that you are misusing the word revelation to situations that are the last adopter of things, ergo modifying its meaning by how you use it. Given your confessions regarding the evolving world of Mormonism, it is difficult to believe that you will claim the word revelation has always meant the same thing throughout Mormonism. Being on the tail end of a societal movement to abandon racism is not revealing that which is “hidden or presenting a new idea” “Being one of the last churches to open the ranks of leadership is being the last adopter of things” not revelation.

“You suggest that the introduction of the BOM was given by revelation, but we have not adopted it as such.” Congratulations. Are claiming that you have never had to correct a Mormon that the introduction is uncertain opinion only? Being that it is uncertain opinion, are you conceding that it should have a disclaimer indicating that it is uncertain opinion?

“You have condemned the article for encouraging people to turn a blind eye to why the ban was instituted, but ignore the fact that it lays out the history clearly, without any judgments or assumptions.” Not true. It is you ignoring that I have successfully demonstrated that you misread the article. Again, the article clearly states that God did not authorize McKay to change the policy and later authorized Kimball. The article does not say the reason for the reveal priesthood policy before or after, it only denies that the prior reasons given were all wrong, turning a blind eye to the fact they were considered reveal truth to most Mormons. The article merely points out that everyone else was racist in that time period. In case you missed it, it was Mormanity, not the article that claimed “complex and murky”

“You do not accept the possibility that people are products of their time, yet God can still establish His church among them.” Nor do you. Strangites, Warren Jeffs, Chris Nmelka (sp?) …. So if I am guilty of a false dichotomy, then so are you. But, yes, equating not special to false prophet the way you do is indeed a false dichotomy, friend-o. I do not know if Joel Olsteen or the Pope is a false or true prophet, but I will say they most likely not the result of extra-terrestrial forces.

“but that's just lazy” How much energy do I have to spend on you before you declare me not lazy? The way that answer is shaping up, definitely makes me bad at something.

Pierce said...

I can see why you don't get engaged much anymore.

Instead of discussing actual concepts, this is mostly a conversation about what you said and how you said it and what it meant, how it somehow successfully demonstrates my ignorance if I were clever enough to decode it, etc. Doesn't interest me.

Judging by this and other conversations, I'd say you're more of an apologist of your own comments than anything.

I mean no disrespect, but that was my experience with this.

Bye for now.

Mormography said...

Now that is just lazy. Though I accurately predicted that you were not interested in genuine dialogue, I expected a little more from you.

When ever you ar ready to start discussing actual concepts and start engaging n genuine dialogue, just let me know. Of course this will require a two way street where you also answer questions, instead of complaining about people who address your requested topic and your specific questions as asked.

Mormography said...

Now that I have a little more time to sit down and look at the exchange it is indeed fascinating. I apparently made a couple of solid observations that so frustrated Pierce that instead of address the observations he immediately launch into ad hominem attacks (ie 2:26 PM, January 02, 2014 “a person who attempts”, “folks like you”). In the process of doing so he displayed that he had mis-read the article, falsely claiming that the article claims “policy regarding priesthood was instituted based on the culture and mindsets of 19th century Americans”, which the article does not say.

Even more amazing is that with his follow up retort on 9:32 AM, January 23, 2014, he insists that he is innocent of ad hominem attacks, but immediately thereafter with the 12:09 PM, January 23, 2014 commentary he begins a long search of ways to attack me from other threads, as oppose to the arguments in the current discussion (classic ad hominem behavior). And then goads with the ad hominem attack that I am just being lazy.

After his insistence, I acquiesce to his demands that I school him. Did I get a thank you? Of course not. Apparently I did such a good job schooling him, he could no longer defend himself, throws a few more feeble and ungrounded ad hominem jabs. Essentially making himself guilty of anything he has accused others of.

He came out indignant, was proved wrong, threw in the towel, and ran away with his tail between his legs. Is that how Jesus would respond? What would Socrates do?

Pierce said...

You're right, you so totally schooled me. I will admit that I am speechless, though not for the reasons that you opine.

Your whole conversation consisted of talk of misrepresenting, misquoting, ad hominem attacks (I guess we can slap that label on anything), blah blah blah. And yes, I brought up your that this has been your M.O. on many other discussions on this board in a separate comment after addressing your points (that is not what ad hominem is).

I let you have the last word word. But you like to bait people out and continue to wrestle around.

Since we're addressing the general public now, I am not interested in running around in circles with people. I addressed your points, using direct quotations. The accusation that those went ignored is incorrect. In fact, my responses were longer, more organized, going point by point, and they addressed the content of your points. The responses that I repeatedly received in return was that I was just misquoting and attacking and misreading. I even got answers such as "YOU'RE the one with the false dichotomy," without an explanation. And that's how my thoughts were addressed.

I didn't see any new clarifications or new thoughts introduced. I would rather spend my time engaging people who state their opinions about someone else's faith, hear another viewpoint that helps clarify things, and have a meaningful discussion about it, even if it means agreeing to disagree.
I don't see any attempt to even understand or give credence to any of my responses. You are here and questioning the LDS on this blog about their beliefs. Many of your conclusions are based off of your own assumptions, so when your assumptions are shown to be incorrect (the article encourages people to turn a blind eye, the BOM title page considered revelation, etc), you won't accept the possibility that you are not viewing the LDS faith as accurately as you think. Rather, you decide to engage in a battle of words to defend those assumptions. It really is just not interesting to me.

Your last comment demonstrates the substance of your conversations with people. You couldn't demonstrate how you schooled me, you just made your claims and cried foul. I think your character and motives showed through in this last post, and particularly the last paragraph.

And that's why I ended the dialogue.

I'm sure you will respond, appealing to the invisible crowd about how mean and ignorant and cowardly I am, but I thought I would clarify why you're not worth engaging.

Mormography said...


Is the internet “no fun anymore” or is it still fun? =)

I warned that you may not be interested in genuine dialogue, but per your insistence, I took the time to address all your concerns in the 5:06 PM, January 25, 2014 commentary. To date you have been entirely incapable of coming up with a single rejoinder to that commentary validating my original assessment that you may not be interested in genuine dialogue.

It takes two to tango, Pierce. If the conversation has been going in circles regarding misrepresentation, personal attacks, what does that say about you? If that was the bulk of the conversation as you claim, it is because you chose it to be. People engaged in genuine dialogue seek clarification when claims of misrepresentation occur, not repeat the misrepresentation over and over. I offered to move forwarded with rejoinders to all your questions in the 5:06 PM, January 25, 2014 commentary. As I predicted at the beginning of the thread, incapable of responding you threw in the towel, returning to already address items, and questionable claims regarding the conversation.

For example in addition to your incorrect use of quotation marks, you claim I did not explain how you engaged in a false dichotomy. This is not true. In the 5:06 PM, January 25, 2014 commentary I explained “equating not special to false prophet the way you do is indeed a false dichotomy”. You accuse people of being lazy. To not be lazy would require putting some thought into the explanation requesting clarification if still concerned, not falsely accusing someone of not explaining.

You have indeed engaged in ad hominem statements. Calling people out for misrepresentation is not unique to me, but indicative on this style of forum. In fact, you yourself have done this with others here, and you were right to do so. Turning my participation on this style of forum into a reason to discredit the person as oppose to the addressing the validity of the current content is indeed an ad hominem.

For example, if I was to go into an analysis that you are probably near end of high school or post high school male (given you declare a common phrase like ad hominem attack as a college word and your general demeanor) prone to transference and projection issues would that be relevant to the discussion? What purpose would addressing the personality of the individual be to the validity of the arguments? So yes, Pierce, though the word ad hominem attack may be a college word for you, it is a matter of fact that it is a discussion trait you engaged in repeatedly. I prefer to focus on the arguments, but this is difficult when you consistently distract with irrelevant ad hominem attacks, thereby moving the conversation to that of ad hominems. There is really nothing that you can accuse me of that you are not guilty of if not more so. So expressing hate towards me is an expression of self-hate.

As another example, you claim that two of my assumptions have been proven incorrect. This is not true. Again see the 5:06 PM, January 25, 2014 commentary where I state “ it [the article] only denies that the prior reasons given were all wrong, turning a blind eye to the fact they were considered reveal truth to most Mormons.” And again with regards to the intro to BOM see “being that it is uncertain opinion, are you conceding that it should have a disclaimer indicating that it is uncertain opinion?” You have run away from addressing.

Mormography said...


When you insist that I am required to address your questions, but you are not required to address mine that is called a double standard. As another example, you express dismay that I have not given “credence” (whatever that is) to any of your responses. Are you claiming you have given “credence” to mine or is that just another double standard?

The actual concept that began this thread was the fact that the article does not give an exact reason for the priesthood policy.
Something you have clearly misunderstood and appears to be the root of the disconnect in this conversation. If not, what is your root cause analysis (other than I am just ornery)? Looking above, in addition to myself it appears Bakedizzle tried to explain this to you as well. As far as I can determine you are the only one reading that the article claims that 100 years of priesthood policy was the result of the whims of man. Why not just ask your guru Mormanity to clear it up? Ask Mormanity if the article gives a reason for the policy?

I wish the best of luck and look forward to working with you on ways to engage in constructive dialogue should you decide to begin the process.

Mormography said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mormography said...

Pierce’s observation is that I am not engaged much anymore and he expressed an interest in me discussing more concepts.

Religion tends to fill a human need to answer why things are the way they are. The evolution of Mormonism and its modern apologism is fascinating. This article regarding Mormon priesthood policy is another example of where many of the prior answers are abandoned and an appeal to blind faith is requested.

Another example in the thread above is the 116 page scenario. In the Mormon canon specific reasoning is given for the why of the scenario. Apologist such as Mormanity are now disavowing the canon and declaring the why of the scenario to be unknown.

Another favorite of mine is an apologist site that pretended to retort but actually conceded the fact that Joseph Smith’s polygamous marriages did not result in children as the canon indicates should occur. The closest example I can link is here by FAIR

Given just these three examples, we see a gradually shift away from giving reasons. In fact, in the FAIR link we even see FAIR quoting Dallin Oaks in claiming reasons are not know for commandments. Very different from prior Mormon thought.

Anonymous said...

Yes it is a choice to act or not act on same gender attractions. The source and root of those feelings may not be subject to agency but how we respond to them is...sorry but in the same way that I can choose not to engage with illicit hetero-sex with the women I'm around a person with SSA also chooses whether to indulge or restrain

Mormography said...


Check out the goatee.

Anonymous said...

"but I suggest simply welcoming this with humility and faith" Look at how Jeff preemptively and hatefully attacks critical thinkers. Reasonable people who accept reality lack humility and faith? What a disgustingly hateful person.

The priesthood restriction was not a mere policy, but a divine commandment. The Udall letter, several other quotes, and massive amounts of history remove any doubt whatsoever. Jeff is simply a bold-faced liar.