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Author Topic: LDS Church Disavows Folk Racism
BlackBlade
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Link.

It's long overdue, and I wish an official apology had been offered along with this. But it's a good attempt to explain essentially a non-explanation for a policy that should never have existed, but did.

It astounds me that some in the church still espouse something along the lines of black's not being ready for the priesthood until the 1970s. Or that God had not determined it was time yet.

I am pleased we will all be on the same page about this now. Namely, that's all nonsense.

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MattP
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It doesn't astound me too much, given that it's taken so long to even get this much officially stated and, as you've noted, they really should have gone a bit further.

There's also the problem that, for a religion that sort of makes a Thing of uniquely having a "Living Prophet", it's a bit of a head scratcher that something so big could be gotten so wrong.

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kmbboots
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Hey. Could be worse. It took us 350 years to apologize to Galileo.
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scifibum
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"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse..."

Are they including the claim in the Book of Mormon that the descendants of Laman and Lemuel were cursed with dark skin?

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I'm not sure I'm finding the official statement quoted in the blog post. Is it on LDS.org?

EDIT: Ah, it was added to the reference, not the newsroom.

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BlackBlade
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afr: Link.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse..."

Are they including the claim in the Book of Mormon that the descendants of Laman and Lemuel were cursed with dark skin?

Not that I am aware of. Maybe Nephi was the BOM's version of Brigham Young?
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quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
"Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse..."

Are they including the claim in the Book of Mormon that the descendants of Laman and Lemuel were cursed with dark skin?

Not that I am aware of. Maybe Nephi was the BOM's version of Brigham Young?
Well, he was also the one, some chapters later, who wrote: "“[The Lord] denieth none that cometh unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."

The BoM has multiple examples of the Lamanites, the ones with the curse, being more righteous and blessed than the Nephites, and the Lamanites and Nephites intermingling. It is a strange description of the curse that Nephi makes in 2 Nephi 5, because the rest of the BoM doesn't really bear it out, or does so in a fairly complex manner.

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Rakeesh
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While I've read parts of the BoM that do dispel the notion that it was ever doctrine that those 'cursed' with dark skin were ever universally wicked or anything...

Well, scifibum is pretty much completely right from a logical standpoint it seems to me. There's something of a problem when one's received-wisdom font says something that is later recognized to have been so badly wrong.

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There's a bit of a misunderstanding when it comes to what non-LDS think LDS expect a prophet to be. I feel like this has been discussed here in considerable depth already, but maybe I'm misremembering. This process of correction of earlier prophets, unfolding in real time, is precisely what is supposed to happen. Brigham Young was wrong in the matter of blacks and the priesthood; the living prophet at the time, Spencer W. Kimball, reversed the Church's course in that matter. That's how it's supposed to work. The living prophet is the "received-wisdom font" for the current time; in fact, the calling of prophet is specifically to interpret what past prophets have said for the benefit of the people today.

That said, I'm not arguing that an earlier prophet couldn't have reversed the decision on blacks and the priesthood and ended what amounted to a racist stance much earlier, especially when it was not actually crystal clear why the policy was in place in the first place. I'm happy to see the Church coming out more succinctly on the matter and look forward to more to come.

I personally think it's a terrible misinterpretation of the BoM for any Church member to use it as license to take any sort of racist stance. No, it's not a pleasant explanation in 2 Nephi 5 about the Lamanites receiving a "skin of blackness" or that being used to keep the Nephites and Lamanites from intermingling. I'm not going to make any excuses for the BoM at that point. It is what it is. Nephi included it, although I get the impression he was far from comfortable with it. I will note that the people in the BoM from that time forward seemed to want to go out of their way to do exactly the opposite--make peace with the Lamanites and not be separate from them anymore. The dark skin doesn't seem to be considered by anyone the curse in itself; the curse is their wickedness and ignorance which keep them in so much misery and conflict while the Nephites lived in relative peace and prosperity. The BoM is in part an account of the Lamanites overcoming that curse and in fact being given many promises because of their propensity to goodness and faithfulness when they had the truth.

It's silly to take any cues from 2 Nephi 5, because it's not meant as a model for policy or even opinion about others. It's sad to think that it may have been taken as such and served as a basis for many racist misconceptions and decisions over such a long period of time among many members of my church.

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MattP
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I don't think there's a misunderstanding, at least not in the way you are describing it. It's just that the prophet is, according to LDS theology, uniquely entitled to revelation that guides the entire church. He is literally God's representative on earth. And, for a period of time, God's representative on earth was a racist and said some pretty terrible things about black people and mixed marriages.

It's not just that I have trouble squaring it as a non-Mormon. I'm not even entirely sure how it's consistent with the LDS doctrine on the role and purpose of the prophet that such a fundamental fact as the equality of all men (and women - though we're not quite there yet) was something that would only become clear to the holder of that office after the civil rights battle was already fought and won in society at large. It seems to be taking "in the world but not of the world" in the wrong direction.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
There's a bit of a misunderstanding when it comes to what non-LDS think LDS expect a prophet to be. I feel like this has been discussed here in considerable depth already, but maybe I'm misremembering. This process of correction of earlier prophets, unfolding in real time, is precisely what is supposed to happen. Brigham Young was wrong in the matter of blacks and the priesthood; the living prophet at the time, Spencer W. Kimball, reversed the Church's course in that matter. That's how it's supposed to work. The living prophet is the "received-wisdom font" for the current time; in fact, the calling of prophet is specifically to interpret what past prophets have said for the benefit of the people today.

That said, I'm not arguing that an earlier prophet couldn't have reversed the decision on blacks and the priesthood and ended what amounted to a racist stance much earlier, especially when it was not actually crystal clear why the policy was in place in the first place. I'm happy to see the Church coming out more succinctly on the matter and look forward to more to come.

I don't expect we'll find much common ground here, but there are at least a few very serious problems with this reasoning, from a logical standpoint. One, religions in general and Mormonism in particular are quite content with telling their flocks things that run against the common grain and might even seem unpopular. An unabashedly racist doctrine migh have been popular, and perhaps more importantly abandoning it might have been very unpopular, one hundred to a hundred and fifty or so years ago, yes. But so was the doctrine of polygamy and the taboo on alcohol. In more modern times, taboos on premarital sex and homosexuality are becoming less and less generally accepted, but I don't think there are any signs of a revision of stance on these issues, are there?

So what's the need for a series of prophets who will give different messages in different times for different people? I'm not talking about a different *focus*-wealthy, powerful people receiving wisdom dealing particularly with pride and poverty, for example-but outright different messages. Different wisdom.

One hundred plus years ago, there was no difficulty in a prophet saying 'polygamy is acceptable', despite it being hugely *un*acceptable to most. The source of this received wisdom wasn't shy about sending a message that was, relative to all the rest of the people on Earth, badly chosen indeed. Are we just to shrug our shoulders and say 'God works in mysterious ways' for these hurdles to reason, or shouldn't we look at a much likelier explanation-that like all other human institutions on Earth, even all of the other religions (which are flat-out wrong or shades of wrong, to the one with the received wisdom) exhibit exactly this same pattern? The pattern that shows us that for questions of morality, over time flexibility is the rule and not the exception?

And if I'm a person of color, or someone simply concerned with justice, why should I have any truck with an institution which tries to say 'once it was just to say people of color were cursed to be that way'? And if they once believed it under received wisdom but then abandoned it, why should I or anyone trust their received wisdom?

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Rakeesh
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Put another way, what's the value, really, of received wisdom if it will also say 'this is being said by God's prophet' (or various shades of 'being said by the person who is also God's prophet but is not currently speaking with our version of ex cathedra')...but really you need to wait a century or two to get a real feel on whether or not it was of God. We might be quite emphatic in the present that it is, but we also in the present reludiafe the equally or even more emphatic statements made ex cathedral in the past.
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MattP
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Well that bit is explained, though a bit post facto-y. There is a modern distinction made between stuff said "as the prophet" vs "as an individual" which is more or less determined by context. If the prophet is speaking at General Conference, what he says is doctrine. If something is said in an official First Presidency statement to the church, that's also doctrine. However, what he might say while speaking at a town hall meeting or in a self-published book is considered his own opinion and not necessarily inspired, correct doctrine. Church members however, are all over the place on whether his not-necessarily-doctrinal comments are actually not-necessarily-doctrinal, and whether one can be considered to be supporting the prophet if one publicly disagrees with them.

[ December 10, 2013, 02:52 AM: Message edited by: MattP ]

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Rakeesh
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Sure, I'm aware. That's what I was (trying to) get at.
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scifibum
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To the church's credit, this recent announcement doesn't seem to lean too heavily on the distinction between "doctrine", aka "speaking as a prophet", and everything else. Belief in any kind of prophetic infallibility - even if you restrict it to doctrine that makes it into the canon - is pretty dangerous, IMO.
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Samprimary
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quote:
And if I'm a person of color, or someone simply concerned with justice, why should I have any truck with an institution which tries to say 'once it was just to say people of color were cursed to be that way'? And if they once believed it under received wisdom but then abandoned it, why should I or anyone trust their received wisdom?
Well probably your first question besides those questions would be "why on earth is this not paired with an apology"
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TomDavidson
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Me, if I were God, and I knew one of my potential prophets would wind up spreading malicious speculation as if I'd told it to him, I'd pick another person to be my prophet.
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vegimo
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Song from the perspective of God just in case you were wondering.

NSFW lyrics.

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Rakeesh: Let me qualify my remarks about current prophets changing what past prophets have said in the Mormon Church. It's not often that a current prophet reverses what a past prophet said or put in place. President Kimball effectively reversing President Young's directive on blacks and the priesthood is an exception, as is President Woodruff's ending of polygamy in the Church (both pronouncements now included as part of LDS scripture canon--that's how exceptional they are). You'll find that, far more often, the current prophet will draw on what past prophets have said as a foundation for the guidance he himself is giving, and by and large what a prophet has said does stand and is drawn upon for many years to come.

Can I point out as well (following the Church's statement that prompted this discussion) that Brigham Young, in making his pronouncement about blacks and the priesthood, also said that one day that restriction would no longer apply. I bring that up not to excuse Brigham Young in a harmful policy, but to show that this was not a case of one prophet negating what another prophet said would always be the case.

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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Me, if I were God, and I knew one of my potential prophets would wind up spreading malicious speculation as if I'd told it to him, I'd pick another person to be my prophet.

That makes me curious. If you were God, would you call prophets?
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Samprimary
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quote:
Can I point out as well (following the Church's statement that prompted this discussion) that Brigham Young, in making his pronouncement about blacks and the priesthood, also said that one day that restriction would no longer apply.
I thought it was this:

quote:
President Young proclaimed that the "true eternal principals[sic]" of God are that "a man who has the African blood in him cannot hold one jot nor tittle of Priesthood", and reiterated his conviction that only after death would black men achieve the priesthood: "In the Kingdom of God on the Earth the Africans cannot hold one particle of power in Government."

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TomDavidson
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quote:
If you were God, would you call prophets?
It'd be handy to have a physical representative, assuming I couldn't actually be everywhere and do everything. (So it depends on what my powers are, as a god.) If for some reason I couldn't do it myself by popping out an avatar or something whenever it would be handy, yeah, I'd probably hand-pick a prophet after vetting him or her pretty carefully (which would including seeing into the future to make sure that this person was not the type to ever misrepresent me to my followers.)
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Rakeesh
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quote:
Originally posted by advice for robots:
Rakeesh: Let me qualify my remarks about current prophets changing what past prophets have said in the Mormon Church. It's not often that a current prophet reverses what a past prophet said or put in place. President Kimball effectively reversing President Young's directive on blacks and the priesthood is an exception, as is President Woodruff's ending of polygamy in the Church (both pronouncements now included as part of LDS scripture canon--that's how exceptional they are). You'll find that, far more often, the current prophet will draw on what past prophets have said as a foundation for the guidance he himself is giving, and by and large what a prophet has said does stand and is drawn upon for many years to come.

Can I point out as well (following the Church's statement that prompted this discussion) that Brigham Young, in making his pronouncement about blacks and the priesthood, also said that one day that restriction would no longer apply. I bring that up not to excuse Brigham Young in a harmful policy, but to show that this was not a case of one prophet negating what another prophet said would always be the case.

This is a topic which is bound to be important and sensitive to you, afr, and also bound to attract lots of attention. I don't want to be a part of a dogpile so if you like I'll stop, or in any event won't take offense if you get tired of discussing it anymore.

Now, all of that said...if doctrine is that the change allowing 'those with the African blood' the priesthood wasn't so much a change as an expiration of a policy that came with an expiration date then doesn't that beg one very simple question? That question being, "So if this isn't actually a reversal of policy, does that mean the policy wasn't wrong for its time?"

That appears to be what you're...I wouldn't say leaning towards, but sort of nodding towards anyway. Indicating that you might be indicating. If that's the case then we're left with the question of why it was a good policy then but not now, and if so what's the point of a deity that is apparently a moral relativist?

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Samprimary
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I got two questions right now, since this place has quickly become my go to fact check on mormon criticism

1.

http://awaypoint.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/mormon-church-dark-skin-a-sign-of-gods-curse-no-longer/

Is most or all of the stuff in this article a fair description of the LDS and the issue of race? Did Kimball actually say this about converted indians becoming 'white and delightful?'

2. when this thread says 'renouncing folk racism' what does that come from? it feels more like 'renouncing church policy of racism' - in this context, what's 'folk racism'

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scifibum
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1. Yep, here you go:

http://scriptures.byu.edu/gettalk.php?ID=1091&era=yes

2. Some people are interpreting the church's condemnation of "all racism, past and present" to include merely the speculative explanations for the church policies limiting ordinances and preventing ordinations for black people. In other words, they think "racism" refers to the ways people would justify the policy, rather than the policy itself.

However, since the policy was clearly racist (I mean there's really no other way to describe a policy of racial discrimination) the policy itself - the church was also condemning the policy. So it's not *merely* folk racism that was disavowed, but also the actions of the church and its leaders. At least that's my reading. There are church members engaging in some apologetic interpretations, saying that of course the church isn't saying the policy was a mistake or against God's will*, but I think you have to construct a rather narrow and unconventional definition of "all racism" to exclude racist discrimination on the part of the church.

*This is because of the unfortunate claim, accepted by many church members, that Wilford Woodruff made that said the LDS prophet can't lead the church astray. This new explanation and condemnation of racism pretty clearly shows a way that certain prophets went astray, so there's a conflict between the two things, which is why some people are tempted to say the policy hasn't been declared a mistake, only explanations for the policy. I really don't think there's any way you can call the policy "not racist", though.

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Samprimary
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quote:
At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl—sixteen—sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents—on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather. There was the doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had an Indian boy in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.
:|

Well then.


Does a Council Report by an Elder go into the category of a prophet speaking revelations from god and/or otherwise being officially correct in some capacity the prophets have to communicate God's truth that people normally don't have, or has it been downgraded into a category of "when the prophets say something here, it's not necessarily correct or divinely inspired"

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Yozhik
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A few thoughts on the issue:

The Lord wanted the Israelites, come out of Egypt, to come and claim the promised land. The Israelites were weak and didn’t want to do it, so the Lord made them wander in the wilderness for 40 years. After all the people who could not accept the possibility of entering the promised land had died out, then and only then did the Lord decide it was time for the new generation to cross the Jordan River and do what the Israelites had been intended to do at first.

I think that maybe the priesthood ban, and its revocation, follows this pattern as well. (In case you couldn't tell, the white majority of the LDS were the Israelites, and the priesthood ban was the wilderness.)

I'd be interested to see where we get to in the next 40 years or so. It's conceivable that we could end up the most integrated denomination in the US.

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TomDavidson
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But the white majority got to be priests; they weren't banned or punished in any way.
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MattP
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Except the recent statement pretty much says the opposite - that refusing the priesthood to blacks was an error made by men, not part of a divine plan.

quote:
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.
http://www.lds.org/topics/race-and-the-priesthood
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scifibum
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
quote:
At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter were present, the little member girl—sixteen—sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents—on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather. There was the doctor in a Utah city who for two years had had an Indian boy in his home who stated that he was some shades lighter than the younger brother just coming into the program from the reservation. These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. One white elder jokingly said that he and his companion were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated.
:|

Well then.


Does a Council Report by an Elder go into the category of a prophet speaking revelations from god and/or otherwise being officially correct in some capacity the prophets have to communicate God's truth that people normally don't have, or has it been downgraded into a category of "when the prophets say something here, it's not necessarily correct or divinely inspired"

This was a speech in the General Conference, not an official declaration or addition to the canon.

The excerpt here equates skin color with "delightsomeness" and so is clearly part of what the church has just (more directly and succinctly than in the past) disavowed. (I think the church is probably presently also against misunderstandings of how genes and skin color work.)

But it was from a general conference talk so it is in a category that would normally be taken quite seriously.

Basically this is a clear example of misguided preaching from a very high level, of the specific sort that has now been disavowed.

Of course this serves as an example of a rule: that just because you hear it in General Conference, it doesn't mean it's correct [from a believer POV]. There are plenty of similar examples.

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BlackBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
I got two questions right now, since this place has quickly become my go to fact check on mormon criticism.

1.

http://awaypoint.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/mormon-church-dark-skin-a-sign-of-gods-curse-no-longer/


Is most or all of the stuff in this article a fair description of the LDS and the issue of race? Did Kimball actually say this about converted indians becoming 'white and delightful?'

Let me see if I can help.

"Dark skin is a sign of God’s curse, while white skin is a sign of his blessing."

No, amongst the Book of Mormon people it was said that God gave the Lamanites, the evil faction that broke off dark skins so as to differentiate them from the Nephites. It never makes a statement that having dark skin in of itself is a curse, while having white skin is a symbol of divine favor.

I've never heard the succeeding Kimball quote or anything like it. It doesn't sound impossible especially for 1960, but I need to look at the citations.

quote:

2. when this thread says 'renouncing folk racism' what does that come from? it feels more like 'renouncing church policy of racism' - in this context, what's 'folk racism'

I added the word folk because to me these justifications for denying black's the priesthood were always folk additions. The initial ban was never done via revelation, and because the ban was wrong, people had to come up with justifications for it. These justifications are folk belief, and I believe they are in part what the church is repudiating.
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BlackBlade
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quote:
Joseph Smith taught that Black people are cursed as “sons of Cain” but also could be saved.
No citation, I'm not going to do the work for her.

quote:
Since dark skin was a divine punishment for sin (rather like Eve’s curse, which causes women to suffer in childbirth)
Nope. Eve was not cursed, that is antithetical to Mormon belief on the topic.

quote:
Over the years, ordinary Mormons and church leaders have struggled with this heritage. One racist passage in the scripture has simply been fixed by Mormon authorities. 2 Nephi 30:6 originally said that conversion to Christianity creates a “white and delightsome people,” but in 1981 the Church adopted a variant which reads, “a pure and delightsome people.
Don't know anything about this change, racist guilt is not the only explanation for it even if they are right, which I can't say they are.

quote:
Mitt Romney inserted the phrase “the same god” into his domestic policy debate against Barack Obama.
Um, that's what we believe.

quote:
Shifting sexual mores have made Mormon polygamy and sacred undergarments a matter of slightly kinky fascination rather than Puritan disgust.
What?....

quote:
Friday’s document from Mormon headquarters explains even the Church’s history of racism in terms that say, we are simply part of American culture
As opposed to what? Not part of American culture?

Anyway.

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MattP
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The migration hypothesized by that evidence predates the BoM times by many thousands of years. The supposed Israelite migration is still a pretty weird belief.

EDIT: The claim I was responding too was deleted. [Dont Know]

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JanitorBlade
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
The migration hypothesized by that evidence predates the BoM times by many thousands of years. The supposed Israelite migration is still a pretty weird belief.

EDIT: The claim I was responding too was deleted. [Dont Know]

I'm sorry Matt, that post wasn't supposed to exist yet as I was still researching its accuracy and accidentally hit submit.

But I still think it's telling that European lineage could have been as prevalent as it was, and it was missed up until now, and originally discounted as contamination by scientists who didn't want to believe the results.

We're still looking at an enormously fragmented record of where the people in the Americas came from.

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Rakeesh
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quote:
I think that maybe the priesthood ban, and its revocation, follows this pattern as well. (In case you couldn't tell, the white majority of the LDS were the Israelites, and the priesthood ban was the wilderness.)
So to clarify, the white (overwhelming) majority of the LDS were the Israelites, and among the things they were commanded to do was to set aside racism. But they didn't do this, so God put them in a sort of holding pattern in the 'wilderness' of His church's leadership endorsing racism explicitly and in practice?
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Samprimary
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I seriously think you guys are watching a roadmap for how the church is going to repudiate its current stance of anti marriage equality, and this event was itself roadmapped by the church's repudiation of polygamy.
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scifibum
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It's possible.

However, as a quibble: the church didn't truly repudiate polygamy. Polygamy is still an official part of church doctrine, and the Manifesto that ended its practice within the church was essentially a declaration "oh yeah we're not doing that any more." They have never said that its practice was wrong - it originated with Joseph Smith, and is still taught (quietly) as a higher law that simply isn't in effect in the mortal sphere right now.

However, I would say that the way that racist discrimination has now been repudiated - and even though there's some coy avoidance of saying BY was wrong about this, I do believe they have in effect repudiated the policy - may open the door to further revisions of doctrine.

It seems more plausible to me that polygamy will need to be further repudiated before positions on SSM and female ordination will be significantly revised. There is a sexist element to temple sealings - men can be sealed to more than one woman, but women cannot be sealed to more than one man - that ties in closely with the past practice of polygamy and firmly dovetails with various doctrinal views of differences between the sexes.

Before SSM, before female ordination, the church would have to back waaaaay off the fundamental, eternal gender roles and restrictions. It's still rather implausible to me that this will happen before 2100, but it's seeming more possible than it did before the church was willing to say, without much mincing of words, that Brigham Young was a racist, and racism is always bad. It's that much closer to a view of the early church leaders that would permit admitting mistakes in the actual, canonical church doctrine.

If canonical examples of fundamental sex and gender proscriptions are weakened or removed, modifying the Proclamation on the Family will be easy by comparison. It was never voted into official doctrine.

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scifibum
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OH WAIT I'm talking about changing the church's teachings on marriage and stuff.

Changing the stance on legal SSM is a much lower bar. And yeah, maybe in 40 years or so the church is going to be able to say that its opposition to civil SSM was perhaps misguided. It will not yet be ready to solemnize SSM much less modify its view of the eternities to give it an equal place with MF or MFF[...]F marriage.

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Yozhik
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To Tom Davidson: This life is not the only place to be punished. Or to repent. Mormons believe in a purgatory-like state, though we don't call it that.

I think the church as a whole will end up paying for this. Who will be called to account for it at the Last Judgement? Who will look at their brothers with grief in their souls as they realize how they have wronged them and must repent? In this life, those of African descent would have been much more likely to accept our message if not for the history of the ban, and that will be on the church as a whole as well, not on the lost potential converts, in the next life. The ban will be a millstone around missionaries' necks.

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Yozhik
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To Tom Davidson: This life is not the only place to be punished. Or to repent. Mormons believe in a purgatory-like state, though we don't call it that.

I think the church as a whole will end up paying for this. Who will be called to account for it at the Last Judgement? Who will look at their brothers with grief in their souls as they realize how they have wronged them and must repent? In this life, those of African descent would have been much more likely to accept our message if not for the history of the ban, and that will be on the church as a whole as well, not on the lost potential converts, in the next life. The ban will be a millstone around missionaries' necks.

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Rakeesh
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So, in this line of reasoning there's a multilayered problem. One, non-whites are less likely to accept God in this life, resulting in separation of them from God's church continuing longer than it otherwise might have (that is, in this life). The second problem being a congregation and even leaders and prophets being either outright rebellious or so burdened by racist tendencies of the world that they can't hear God properly.

The solution to this problem isn't that God speaks to those who choose the next prophet to find one who will actually listen to the 'Don't Be Racist' inspiration. It's not some larger more direct, tangible intervention as happened so often in the distant past. It's not inspiring the church as a whole to question the racist doctrine. Instead, the...punishment is that nothing will change for well over a century. The prophets won't listen, those who choose the prophets will continue to select racist successors, and the wider body of the church won't change either until *after* the broader world they live in has already had this change well underway.

If this were any other institution, I suspect we would all quickly agree this sort of justification was just a matter of shooting an arrow and painting a bullseye around where it lands. I fail to see why 'it will be addressed posthumously' should count as any sort of persuasive statement.

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Samprimary
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quote:
Originally posted by scifibum:
It's possible.

However, as a quibble: the church didn't truly repudiate polygamy. Polygamy is still an official part of church doctrine, and the Manifesto that ended its practice within the church was essentially a declaration "oh yeah we're not doing that any more." They have never said that its practice was wrong - it originated with Joseph Smith, and is still taught (quietly) as a higher law that simply isn't in effect in the mortal sphere right now.

However, I would say that the way that racist discrimination has now been repudiated - and even though there's some coy avoidance of saying BY was wrong about this, I do believe they have in effect repudiated the policy - may open the door to further revisions of doctrine.

The polygamy repudiation was mainly to survive the government. Long enough to overthrow, succeed, or outlive it, as I hear it told.

The repudiation of the racist teachings was motivated on a different level. The church would have simply shrunk to irrelevance if it remained so openly racist or preserved its racist teachings.

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scifibum
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Yeah, but similarly motivated in that both changes were necessary in order to thrive.

I like to think that the 1978 change was recognized as the correct, moral thing to do, and the leaders who effected the change weren't at all surprised or dismayed by the revelation they claim to have received on the matter. (It is my understanding that there were a couple members of the quorum of the twelve who WOULD have been dismayed, and they were sent out of town when this stuff went down. I'm talking about the rest.)

I have no such sense that the ending of the practice of polygamy is now typically viewed by modern LDS as a step forward for morality. As you said, it had a pretty clear strategic value in that they were seeking statehood and polygamy was seen as a deal breaker. I can easily imagine that a number of as-yet-unsistered wives were quite relieved by the development, but at this point it's generally accepted by the church that polygamy was fine, it was just fine in a certain context and currently isn't fine in the present context.

There was some of that, but less of it, with the racist policy thing too. But now it's clearer that the racist stuff was never fine, in the opinion of the current leadership.

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Geraine
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In related news..... Told ya this was going to happen sooner or later:

quote:


A federal judge in Utah has struck down a key portion of that state's marriage law that makes polygamy illegal, raising concerns among pro-family leaders that the nation may be entering a new phase in an all-out attack on marriage.

On December 13 Judge Clark Waddoups of the U.S. District Court of Utah struck down a portion of the state law that prohibits polygamous cohabitation, ruling that it violated both the First and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by Kody Brown and his four “wives,” who are the the subjects of the reality show Sister Wives on the TLC network. Brown is only legally married to one of the women, but the religious sect the five belong to, called the Apostolic United Brethren, embraces polygamy and holds that Brown and the other three women are married in a “spiritual” union.



http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/faith-and-morals/item/17202-federal-judge-rules-utah-polygamy-ban-unconstitutional

I wonder if Gay rights groups will support them. Or if the LDS church will fund opposition to any eventual attempts to make polygamy completely legal.

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BlackBlade
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It would make no sense to me theologically for the church to try to keep legal restrictions on polygamy around.

If it did, I'd expect some sort of missive from church headquarters explaining the reasoning.

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BlackBlade
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Also, Link.
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Nelson Elis
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Do you think that brother Brigham woke up last week wondering why he was suddenly in the Terrestrial Kingdom with thick bus tire tracks running up and down his resurrected hide?

Though, if I'm reading the press release right, the real responsibility for racism in mormonism actually lies with the contemporary American culture which impacted individual leaders starting with Young and ending with McConkie (give or take)... [Wall Bash]
quote:
Toward the end of his life, Church founder Joseph Smith openly opposed slavery.
Sure, but just a tiny bit closer to the middle of his life (though late enough that he had already published the Book of Mormon and founded the church) he stridently opposed the abolitionist movement, writing: "I do not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall."

As of at least 1836, he was still very much one of the individuals rejecting abolitionist arguments against slavery based on the theory he was himself propounding--that blacks were the cursed seed of Canaan, through the lineage of Ham, and that their enslavement was ordained by the God of the bible, and that the abolitionists were working against the dictates of the true Christian God:
quote:
Originally by Joseph Smith:

"After having expressed myself so freely upon this subject, I do not doubt but those who have been forward in raising their voice against the South will cry out against me as being uncharitable, unfeeling and unkind--wholly unacquainted with the gospel of Christ.

"It is my privilege, then, to name certain passages from the Bible and examine the teachings of the ancients upon this matter, as the fact is incontrovertible that the first mention we have of slavery is found in the holy Bible, pronounced by a man who was perfect in his generation and walked with God. And so far from that prediction's being averse from the mind of God, it remains as a lasting monument of the decree of Jehovah, to the shame and confusion of all who have cried out against the South in consequence of their holding the sons of Ham in servitude!

"'And he said cursed be Canaan: a servant of servants shall he be unto this brethren. And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant--God shall enlarge Japheth and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.' (Gen. 8: 25-27)

“Trace the history of the world from this notable event down to this day and you will find the fulfillment of this singular prophecy. What could have been the design of the Almighty in this wonderful occurrence is not for me to say, but I can say that the curse is not yet taken off the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by a great power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least will come under the least condemnations before him and those who are determined to purse a course which shows an opposition and a feverish restlessness against the designs of the Lord will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do his work without the aid of those who are not dictated by his counsel."

LDS Messenger and Advocate Volume 2, No 7 April 1836 (From J Smith Jr on Abolition)

The press release points out that the view that blacks were of the lineage of Cain can be traced within US culture 100 years before Joseph Smith (so he didn't start it, see?), and it seems to imply that Joseph Smith had nothing to do with it, throwing Mormon leaders after Smith under the bus for subscribing to the theory, while pointedly highlighting Smith's support for abolition toward the end of his life. But not only did Smith clearly subscribe to and advocate for this racist theory for most of his life (including during the early formation of the church), but the LDS canon that was revealed by the hand of Smith has explicit and unique references attesting to the racial characteristic of this cursed seed of Canaan, like this bit of extra light Smith shed about what Moses wrote:
quote:
Moses 7:22

"And Enoch also beheld the residue of the people which were the sons of Adam; and they were a mixture of all the seed of Adam save it was the seed of Cain, for the seed of Cain were black, and had not place among them."

And lest anyone is confused about what Joseph Smith's unique additional revelations regarding Moses' take on God's ancient segregation curse should mean regarding, say, being allowed to hold the priesthood, fret not: we need only turn to Smith's unique revelations regarding the alleged words of another biblical Patriarch:
quote:
Abraham 1:21-27:

21 Now this king of Egypt was a descendant from the loins of Ham, and was a partaker of the blood of the Canaanites by birth.

22 From this descent sprang all the Egyptians, and thus the blood of the Canaanites was preserved in the land.


23 The land of Egypt being first discovered by a woman, who was the daughter of Ham, and the daughter of Egyptus, which in the Chaldean signifies Egypt, which signifies that which is forbidden;

24 When this woman discovered the land it was under water, who afterward settled her sons in it; and thus, from Ham, sprang that race which preserved the curse in the land.

25 Now the first government of Egypt was established by Pharaoh, the eldest son of Egyptus, the daughter of Ham, and it was after the manner of the government of Ham, which was patriarchal.

26 Pharaoh, being a righteous man, established his kingdom and judged his people wisely and justly all his days, seeking earnestly to imitate that order established by the fathers in the first generations, in the days of the first patriarchal reign, even in the reign of Adam, and also of Noah, his father, who blessed him with the blessings of the earth, and with the blessings of wisdom, but cursed him as pertaining to the Priesthood.

27 Now, Pharaoh being of that lineage by which he could not have the right of Priesthood, notwithstanding the Pharaohs would fain claim it from Noah, through Ham
, therefore my father was led away by their idolatry;

I don't doubt that the racism of mainstream America during the early years of mormonism impacted the views of leaders like Brigham Young. And I don't doubt that the racist theories that got kicked around by early mormon leaders started before Joseph Smith or any other mormon was even born. But to downplay Smith's personal role in propagating these theories, as well as completely ignoring the role of the texts he "revealed" that are still accepted as canonical, the way that this new press release has, means that the rigmarole is quite simply more of the same patently deceptive revisionism on the issue that has apparently always been church policy.

Oh, and:
quote:
Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse
Really? So, the church is disavowing the single-biggest plot device of the Book of Mormon? Nephi and Alma must have been impacted by 19th century American cultural attitudes too...
quote:
From the Book of Mormon:

2 Nephi 5:21
"And the Lord had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them."

Alma 3: 6
"And the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them because of their transgression and their rebellion against their brethren, who consisted of Nephi, Jacob, and Joseph, and Sam, who were just and holy men."

And people ought to cut Kimball a break on his bit about Native American's miraculously re-attaining delightful whiteness. Assuming the Book of Mormon is still canonical, he's definitely got precedent on righteousness reducing a tan:
quote:
3 Nephi 2:14-15
" And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites; And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites."

PS: I B SP

[ December 18, 2013, 04:14 AM: Message edited by: Nelson Elis ]

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lem
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Thank you Nelson. I was working on a similar post, but it was taking far too long.
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Samprimary
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quote:
So, the church is disavowing the single-biggest plot device of the Book of Mormon? Nephi and Alma must have been impacted by 19th century American cultural attitudes too
they are certainly blatantly retconning "white and delightsome" and hoping nobody really notices what it is they're really doing so I guess yeah
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