Denial – a person, or group of people, faced with a fact that is too uncomfortable to accept and rejects it instead, insisting that it is not true despite what may be overwhelming evidence.
Dementia – a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, impaired reasoning, disorientation, mood and behaviour changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place.
WHAT WE ALL KNEW
The Institution of the Mormon church – its hierarchy, has lost its marbles. It has demonstrably shown that it has lost its corporate Memory and is suffering from Dementia. It also lives and breathes the blatant Denial of uncomfortable facts. It is both sick and guilty at the same time. Guilty, because it continues to deliberately disguise the mess and fantasy of its own dogmatic history into a delusion of legitimate idealism. And sick, because long exposure to its own cultural and spiritual environment has sustained the fallacy of thinking it KNOWS. But the knowing is just one expression of their intense desire to make the tale true. In fact, it is part of the barrier – the mental and emotional blindness, formalized through indoctrination – the inculcation of ideas, attitudes, cognitive strategies and a survival methodology, with which to sustain a system of beliefs.
I think this can be demonstrated with one single example from their history – that of the Blacks and the Priesthood.
Naturally, those who have only been members of the church for the last few decades will not recall the 14 years 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 my 1981 edition of The Doctrine and Covenants, so it’s a canonized revelation).
From 1964 (when I joined) right up until this Declaration 2, 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 – whether willingly or by default – 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 of the church for the many decades I have been a member. Lee Baker (one time bishop) has compiled a list of 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 in 12pt type. To repeat, that’s 70 pages of General Authority quotes on WHY the Blacks did not and should not receive the priesthood!
And just another rather nasty offshoot of the church’s racist attitude, in 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 advantage 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 these days) 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 – as the 70 pages of evidence reveal… and that’s just one man’s collection.
But hang on a minute… Yes, 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 they lived in; just a bad but 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. That it is now referred or suggested to be a ‘policy’ change and never an actual doctrine, is totally ridiculous – a complete lie.
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 (in God’s so-called true church) is 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 judgement 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 us the truth about what God wants for us? 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 endeavoured to shift the blame sideways onto anyone else, except themselves. 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 did 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 blunder, 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 from personal blame. It is stupidly confusing to admit that the ban was wrong, yet dump the blame on the members and society in generally. What also compounds the senseless nature of this communication is the denial of the real origins, or reasons for the ban.
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 that church)
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, yet here they are 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 (even if He afterwards showed an increase of love). 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…. “
Despite my own anger and disillusionment with the church, such a revelation, which I have just suggested, would have been pretty impressive and real. And this is the major hurdle and problem I have. What they gave us in the summer of 1978 was in complete contradiction with their admission in 2013 ‘Race and the Priesthood.’ The church has acted as if God had APPROVED and DIRECTED the racist ban on the Blacks in the first place!
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!
Something is badly wrong. Some form of Dementia is affecting the hierarchy. Blatant Denials or loss of Memory… either the church is lying, or is suffering from some form of Corporate Alzheimer?