From August 2001 Ensign (page 22), in big bold print above a large colourful portrait of Joseph Smith, it reads:
“The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, ‘Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.'”
This is from an article specifically on the temple ordinances.
To back up the Joseph Smith quote, it goes on to say:
“Now the purpose in Himself in the winding up scene of the last dispensation is that all things pertaining to that dispensation should be conducted precisely in accordance with the preceding dispensations…. He set the temple ordinances to be the same forever and ever and set Adam to watch over them, to reveal them from heaven to man, or to send angels to reveal them.” Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol.4, p. 208
“As temple work progresses, some members wonder if the ordinances can be changed or adjusted. These ordinances have been provided by revelation, and are in the hands of the First Presidency. Thus, the temple is protected from tampering.” W. Grant Bangerter, executive
“…God is unchangeable, the same yesterday, today and forever… The great mistake made down through the ages by teachers of Christianity, is that they have supposed they could place their own private interpretation upon scriptures, allow their own personal convenience to become a controlling factor, and change the basis of Christian law and practice to suit themselves. This is apostasy.” Prophet’s Message, Church News, June 5, 1965
“…the endowments have never changed and can never change; as I understand it; it has been so testified, and that Joseph Smith Jr., himself was the founder of the endowments.” Senator Reed Smoot, Reed Smoot Case, vol. 3, p. 185 (words in red not in original)
“…build a house to my name, for the Most High to dwell therein. For there is not a place found on earth that he may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood…. And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein… For I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times. And I will show unto my servant Joseph all things pertaining to this house, and the priesthood thereof, and the place whereon it shall be built.” Jesus Christ Himself, Doctrine and Covenants 124:27-28, 40-42
“The Gospel cannot possibly be changed…. the saving principles must ever be the same. They can never change…. the Gospel must always be the same in all of its parts…. no one can change the Gospel… if they attempt to do so, they only set up a man-made system which is not the Gospel, but is merely a reflection of their own views…. if we substitute ‘any other Gospel,’ there is no salvation in it…. the Lord and His Gospel remain the same–always.” Prophet’s Message, Church News, June 5, 1965
PROPHETS MADE LYING A POLICY
That the church is still stuck with the addiction of lying – as described in Part 1 – can be demonstrated with one single example from the essay ‘Race and the Priesthood.’
Naturally, those who have only been members of the church for the last few years, will not recall the time before the 1978 Official Declaration 2 announcement…. when we were all told the Blacks could receive the priesthood. This is when Spencer W. Kimball claimed to have received a revelation from God. (Declaration 2 is located on page 293 of the 1981 edition of The Doctrine and Covenants, so it’s a canonized revelation).
From 1964 (when I joined) right up until this Declaration to the very recent and Official essay entitled ‘Race and the Priesthood’ of December 2013, I was taught with every conceivable channel of communication from the church (Lessons, sacrament talks, general conference broadcasts, stake conferences, visiting authorities, the Ensign and numerous books) why the Blacks had not received the Priesthood and therefore denied positions of leadership, ordination, temple covenants and sealings.
We were told repeatedly, this was a direct result of unworthiness through failure in the pre-existence to be valiant. Not only this, but multiple scriptures still printed in the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price, showed clearly that the doctrine (oh yes, most emphatically a doctrine) of the Black race being cursed with a dark skin, was a punishment since the days of Cain. This was the teaching of the Official church.
Joseph Smith started the prejudice by incorporating it into the LDS Standard Works of the church. Those who regularly read their scriptures will know these teachings. I wish to emphasize the insurmountable evidence of this teaching being well established and regularly spoken and written about by General Authorities for the many decades whilst I have been a member.
And just another rather nasty offshoot of the church’s racist attitude with the belief that the Blacks were suffering an earthly punishment of a black skin for their lack of valour in the pre-existence; it created an extension of judgement against all classes and races of people, with a suspicion that the origins of their birth (such as poor staving African children… or usually, poor displaced people anywhere, as well as the elite ‘white’ children of western born parents – especially those born into LDS families in the USA), as having somehow ‘earned’ their advantaged or disadvantaged birth. Please don’t suggest this was not a problem in the psyche of LDS members – I noticed it frequently. I even bought into it. One sad outcome was a less than normal aptitude for compassion for those in greatest need, because somewhere in their past, ‘they must have deserved it.’
THE INCREDULOUS DENIAL
That today’s church spokesman (sorry, not the prophet or apostles – they seem generally afraid to say too much) has told us that the concept, origins, record, history or reasons for the denial of the priesthood to Blacks, is not known. That is just absolute nonsense. We all knew! Yet we find the hierarchy clueless and dumb about how, why and when it started? The prefaced heading to Declaration 2 has the sentence: “Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice.” What? Are you kidding me! No record – no written information in scripture, nothing in church magazines, curriculums, talks, or lessons? Not so, we all lived with a certainty of this well established doctrine and it has been thoroughly well documented – To repeat, we have 70 pages of General Authority quotes on WHY the Blacks did not and should not receive the priesthood.
Lee Baker (one time bishop) has compiled a list of such quotations on this doctrine: http://leebaker.4mormon.org/deliberate-racist-statements-from-the-mormon-church/ I have copied his list and it has filled 70 A4 pages. To repeat, that’s 70 pages of General Authority quotes on WHY the Blacks did not and should not receive the priesthood.
In addition, the Author Russell W Stevenson further sustains the availability of copious amounts of documentation in the form of records, talks, newspaper clipping, diaries, journals, etc.
: “. . . . I do expect–particularly in this day and age–a dogged commitment to the historical record. Original transcripts of all the relevant records. They are all available. In my book, For the Cause of Righteousness: A Global History of Blacks and Mormonism: 1830-2013, you can find full transcriptions of the Origin Documents for the Priesthood Ban (the only place where those documents have been collected in one place). The question is not whether we know the documentary record about the origins of the priesthood/temple restriction; the question is how much know–and what holes still need sewing up.”
My worry is, that members with lesser life experience with Mormonism, will look at this essay and conclude “We don’t know why there was a ban,” when in fact, they is a lorry-load of documented information.
THANK GOD, THE LORD IS NOT BEHIND IT
It is wonderful news that at last, the church admits in their 2013 ‘Race and the Priesthood’ essay that the ban on the Blacks came from cultural prejudice in the days of Brigham Young. Oh thank God that the Lord had nothing to do with it! It was all just a reflection of the times in which they lived; just a bad understandable mistake. Prophets, after all, are just human and are subject to error or wrong decision making, but at least we know it was nothing to do with God.
“Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church . . . . 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 . . . . Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”
Just to remind ourselves, from Brigham Young, through all the successions of prophets and quorums of 12, the prejudice and restrictions were upheld. This was no small, insignificant law within the church. It was a ‘fundamental doctrine’ and from it flowed various restrictions (Policies) to enforce it.
What, then, was the affect of this racist doctrine upon black members?
Imagine yourself in their place…. devout black individuals or families, from generation to generation sitting in their LDS churches listening to all those talks and lessons about the importance of being sealed or endowed in order reach the Celestial Kingdom. Think of all those insufferable testimonies from the stand about some delightful temple experience… but YOU can’t go – probably never, before you die. Unless you were really stoic or superbly spiritual, you would sometimes feel depressed about the state of your own soul – your profound refusal to sustain God in your past life; your very skin – a reminder every moment of your day – every time you glanced in the mirror, of your blame and guilt.
This priesthood ban by successive prophets was a massive and colossal cock-up.
One of the things we were all taught about prophets was that they were – unlike us lot – in touch with the Lords will. They, above all people, had the keys and the ordination to discern the mind and will of God. We have been taught to trust them and to rely on their judgement. Such perceptions have been summed-up by variations on phrases, like: “When the prophet speaks, the debate is over.”
We were also taught the following, which, in the light of church admissions about the real reason for the priesthood ban, now makes these statements utterly worthless and false:
- “Keep your eye on the President of the Church, and if he ever tells you to do anything, and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it. But you don’t need to worry. The Lord will never let his mouthpiece lead the people astray’” (current Aaronic Priesthood Manual, Lesson 24 “Follow the Prophet”; Conference Report, Oct. 1960, p. 78; ).
- “There is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord” (current Aaronic Priesthood Manual, Lesson 24 “Follow the Prophet”; Conference Report, Apr. 1972, p. 99)
- “The Saints can have faith in their leaders and vote unanimously on all propositions, knowing that the things presented for their sustaining vote were approved of the Lord to their leaders before being presented to the membership of the Church” (Ensign, May 1974, Alma P. Burton, BYU Professor of Church History and Doctrine).
- “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (1890 Wilford Woodruff)
Well, well, well. All false. You can’t trust prophets. Full stop. When such an immense failure of judgment carries on through the best part of 200 years against one class of people – causing them such heartache, anxiety and grief, then we must ask the question: Why follow or identify with such an awful institution as representatives of God? Also, how can such an organization ever be trusted to tell you the truth about what God wants for you? In light of such a blundering mess – such a monumental absurd mistake, is it any wonder the church continues from time to time issuing senseless, cruel and hurtful instructions – such as the new policy on Gay couples and their children?
WAS IT REALLY A REVELATION ANYWAY?
Firstly, consider that the church was under considerable pressure to do something about their racist discrimination. Some of the pressures upon them were:
- Increased boycotting of games against BYU
- A general mood of dislike in the country of LDS discrimination
- Pressure from Boy Scouts of America against the church
- Many missionaries ashamed of their church’s stance
- Tax exemption status, threatened unless change occurred
- Less and less likelihood of increased membership from African nations
In an interview with Elder Le Grand Richards on the 16th August 1978, where he was asked a number of questions about the detail of the deliberations to ascertain God’s will; he described the decision to lift the ban as a ‘negative revelation.’ This was confirmed later by other General Authorities. The following quote is found in: http://www.mormonthink.com/blackweb.htm#eventsleadingto1978 under the sub heading: Events before the 1978 revelation:
“We were told, by visiting General Authorities and others from the Church Office Building, that it was not a revelation, but a “negative revelation.” That is, the First Presidency and the Twelve decided to tell the Lord that they were going to change the policy regarding blacks and the LDS priesthood “unless He gave them a sign to the contrary.” In the absence of any sign, they changed the policy. No one officially coming over from SLC to the MTC at the time denied this story. It was later that I heard the word “revelation” actually used in conjunction with it. But Elder Le Grand Richard’s statements in his interview with Chris Vlachos and Wesley P. Walters supports this version of the events”
THE PROJECTION OF BLAME
I’m glad the church has finally faced their responsibilities and admitted in their ‘Race and the Priesthood’ essay, that the ban was based on racial prejudice. However, rather like children who own-up to their naughtiness – they have partly endeavoured to shift the blame sideways onto anyone else, except themselves – especially all those ‘inspired’ dead prophets. Unlike the ‘Community of Christ’ (Once the Reorganized LDS church) they are still obsessed with image and can’t bring themselves to be super clean, super honest, utterly open – all a little bit too much for their present ego to bear (and the cynic in me adds: also not ready for a big loss in membership and tithing) Thus, the LDS hierarchy used phraseology and words in this essay, which I find weird – to say the least. If you or I were owning–up to a big mistake and giving an apology, we would likely use phrases like:
- I told people wrongly….
- I thought this was the correct course, but I was wrong…
- Yes, I used to teach the following…
- Years ago, I did not know any better…
- I was just doing what everyone else was doing…
- It was completely my fault…
- So sorry for the hurt and pain I caused
But, what do we find in ‘Race and the Priesthood’ from the church?
This is some of the phraseology:
- The justifications for this restriction echoed the widespread ideas about racial inferiority….
- According to one view, which had been promulgated….
- Those who accepted this view believed that God’s “curse” on Cain….
- The curse of Cain was often put forward as justification for the priesthood and temple restrictions….
- Around the turn of the century, another explanation gained currency: blacks were said to have been less than fully valiant in….
It takes a profound lack of openness and humility to talk as if the problem (in this case – a shockingly terrible dogma and restriction, affecting an entire race) actually belonged to someone, or somebody else? As if it was some other church they were talking about? Look again and notice how they leave the impression of exoneration or detachment from any personal blame. It is stupidly confusing to admit that the ban was wrong, yet dump the blame on the members and society in generally. They essay does say: “Leaders and members,” but ‘members’ cannot be used to attach a reason or blame for this ban. Members ALWAYS take the lead, instruction, guidance and dogma from top leaders… if members promote ideas about black unworthiness, or having beliefs and views which ‘appear’ racist, then it has come direct from the top. Mormonism has always dumped blame, sin and failure to be blessed on its converts – Smith started it in the D&C for the same reasons: to save face and personal embarrassment for his blunders. So, the senseless nature of this communication is the denial of the real origins, or reasons for the ban. In supposedly ‘coming clean’ the church cannot resist weaving additional deception and self exoneration into the essay that is supposed to be about the REAL TRUTH of what happened.
I find the expressions of Lee Baker, a past bishop, to be right on the nail:
“. . . . the current Church Leadership’s inability to clearly and specifically reject its own racist teachings both in print and from its past Senior Leadership, has left the Black Race with only a short irresponsible and offensively juvenile Official Statement  that claims the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knows very little about its own race-based policy that had lasted for well over 100 years:
“It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended.”
Maintaining a detailed and comprehensive history of every aspect and teaching of the Church has been both one of the hallmarks and one of the downfalls of Mormon Church. Within the relatively young Church, authoritative documentation, however corrupt it may have been, has never been in short supply. Each of the Senior Leaders of the Mormon Church has had several official biographers as well as an army of Church authorized historians to record for the faithful Mormon all facets of the History of the Church. In fact, one of my first of many “Callings” in the Mormon Church was that of a Ward (Congregational) Historian, long before I became a Bishop.
The peculiar assertion that the Mormon Church itself does not know the details of its very own race-based policy of restricting the Blacks from holding the Priesthood is tremendously embarrassing for all Mormons and exceptionally degrading for anyone who actually believes it.”
GOD NEVER STARTED THE PRIESTHHOD BAN
So God never did inspire, or give a revelation to start the ban – and if He did not install it in the first place, what kind of revelation should Spencer W Kimball have expected back in 1978, when the Revelation (Declaration 2) was given?
You can answer that question….
If you were God and this entire immoral and hateful doctrine had been laid at YOUR door and you noticed 12 or 15 men supplicating in the temple to find out if you were ready to ‘restore’ that priesthood – what would you communicate? (Providing you actually were the God of such a bunch of twerps) What should we expect the Lord to say and what kind of revelation might explode in that temple? Well, the only facts we have to go on are the words of Spencer W. Kimball:
“. . . . the First Presidency announced that a revelation had been received by President Spencer W. Kimball extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church. President Kimball has asked that I advise the conference that after he had received this revelation, which came to him after extended meditation and prayer in the sacred rooms of the holy temple . . . . He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the Church may receive the holy priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that flows there-from, including the blessings of the temple. Accordingly, all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or colour. We declare with soberness that the Lord has now made known his will for the blessing of all his children throughout the earth who will hearken to the voice of his authorized servants, and prepare themselves to receive every blessing of the gospel.”
Spencer W. Kimball, Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney
The First Presidency
That happened in 1978, about 35 years before this arrogant and confusing ‘essay’ on Race and the Priesthood. But blame and denial apart, the LDS church at last admitted the priesthood ban never came from God and yet here they were above, trying to persuade us that God gave them a revelation where He – in effect, announces “the time has come” to restore the priesthood…. as if He, God, was simply complying with their united prayer to bring it back?
That strikes me as crazy. Any other ‘decent God’ would have thundered down with a severe element of anger and chastisement We should have had President Kimball saying something like:
“Brethren and sisters of the church, the Lord has revealed his will to us, his servants. We have been severely chastened for failing to live so as to understand and discern that He never intended his Black children to suffer so badly with the denial of the priesthood. He has warned us about obsessive worldliness, which has caused the heavens to weep. We have felt so bad to hear Him condemn our stupidity; nevertheless, the Lord has said He will forgive us, if we correct our past mistakes immediately.”
By contrast, listen to Gordon B. Hinckley – then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve – remembering it this way:
“There was a hallowed and sanctified atmosphere in the room. For me, it felt as if a conduit opened between the heavenly throne and the kneeling, pleading prophet of God who was joined by his Brethren…. “
What we have been given is an embarrassment to logic and reason. It is also a complete contradiction. The church has now said the ban was NOT a revelation, but based on prevailing cultural attitudes of the times. Why then would they need to go and supplicate in the temple and ask God if it was His will to restore it? The whole scenario of the ban and God finally coming through in 1978 to tell his prophet in effect “fine, you can now go ahead and give them the priesthood,” must be false, in light of what they are now saying! What a total joke!
Something is badly wrong. The church is lying, or is suffering from some form of corporate dementia…. or maybe, just maybe, it is plain evil?