LDS.org posts Historical Context for Ban on Black Ordination

It’s been brought to my attention that, last Friday, LDS.org posted a page on their “Gospel Topics” section called “Race and the Priesthood.” I’m not sure what was there prior to this article, but it seems that some of the more contentious church issues are slowly receiving revamped attention. For example, practically-an-essay has been posted on “Are Mormons Christian?

I hope they revamp the one on “Women in the Church” whose very first sentence strikes me as rather sexist:

Women are a necessary part of the plan of happiness, and that plan cannot operate without them.

It’s as if the sentence were written by a man addressing another man — “Hey, man, don’t be tempted to think that all the power you have in the Church means you don’t need women…remember, babies come from them, and besides, thinking that way would be pretty gay…”

Anyway, the “Race and Priesthood” article is notable, as it’s the first place I’ve seen the Church try to officially explain in detail how the ban on black [male] ordination was racist. But there’s still a huge failure of the Church in recognizing the overarching racism of the Church’s story.

For example, take this section:

In two speeches delivered before the Utah territorial legislature in January and February 1852, Brigham Young announced a policy restricting men of black African descent from priesthood ordination. At the same time, President Young said that at some future day, black Church members would “have [all] the privilege and more” enjoyed by other members.

Basically, the point in telling the story this way is to try to “save” Young’s revelatory powers: “Okay, you’re banned now, but this is a divine storyline still playing out, so don’t worry!!!”

And then story ends in the 1970s when the ban is lifted through revelation, and everyone rejoices at “integration.”

Ridiculous. I would perhaps pat the Church on the back if it said, “Oh, and by the way, the fact that the Quorum of Twelve who presently leads this Church and heretofore has always been white is related to the same systemic racism that lead Young to forbid black ordination.” But no, the Church wants the story to have ended in the 1970s, in the same way that Republicans recently credited Rosa Parks for “ending racism.”

Finally, I like the bit at the end:

The Church acknowledges the contribution of historians and scholars to the historical context set forth in this article, whose contribution is used with their permission.

Yes, these historians and scholars are “acknowledged” — but that doesn’t mean they will be named — because naming them would detract from the revelatory demeanor of the article whose intention is to officially shore up racism in the Church.

3 thoughts on “LDS.org posts Historical Context for Ban on Black Ordination

  1. Yes, these historians and scholars are “acknowledged” — but that doesn’t mean they will be named

    This is actually perhaps the most shocking part of the article. Their new article states that Brigham Young (the former prophet…?) was wrong and the article directly contradicts LDS scriptures. (If you want references and explanation on that, there will be plenty in the links in my next SiOB.)

    On whose authority is the church website claiming that various passages in the LDS scriptures are wrong?

    Back when they lifted the priesthood ban, the then President of the CoJCoL-dS (Spencer W. Kimball) explained that he had prayed with the quorum of the 12, and this revelation was canonized in the scriptures. This time there is zero explanation of how and why anonymous “historians and scholars” are empowered to override the teachings of past prophets and rewrite the scriptures.

    (And are they going to be distributing new, edited versions of the BoM and PoGP so that members will know which parts are still valid…?)

    I’m already planning that the title of the upcoming SiOB will be “Who’s driving this train? edition” 😉

  2. Wasn’t it McConkie who issued an about face missive regarding race when the ban was lifted?

    Reminds me of a fruitless conversation I’ve been having on Google+ (yes, people actually use it!) with someone who assumes it is a given that all Mormons abhor gay marriage because prophets have been “abundantly clear” on this issue. If and when the church does an about face, I suppose this fellow will change his stance. Though we’ll all likely have died by then.

    To unquestioningly follow anyone without using your own brain and agency seems so, I dunno, like the story of Satan’s plan in the pre-existence.

  3. I think the Church timed this with Nelson Mandela’s death because Mandela came to represent a “post-apartheid” or “post-racial” mentality, where everyone can become more “introspective” of their racial past.

    But again, just like in South Africa where white millionaires control the economy, the Church is still run by white men, and white men alone. So, let’s not kid ourselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *