Hasten to Prepare

At the “Be One” celebration in 2018, President Dallin H. Oaks discussed the frustration he experienced as a member of the Church before the ban on individuals of black African descent holding the priesthood or receiving saving temple ordinances was lifted.  He said that he “observed the pain and frustration experienced by those who suffered these restrictions and those who criticized them and sought for reasons. I studied the reasons then being given and could not feel confirmation of the truth of any of them.”  As he “witnessed the pain of black brothers and sisters,” he “longed for their relief.”  When that restriction was lifted in 1978, he wept for joy.  At the “Be One” celebration, he acknowledged that “the hearts and practices of individual members did not come suddenly and universally,” with some embracing the revelation and its implications of racial equality while others, to this day, have “continued the attitudes of racism that have been painful to so many throughout the world.”  He went on to state that, “as we look to the future, one of the most important effects of the revelation on the priesthood is its divine call to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children. … As servants of God … we should hasten to prepare our attitudes and our actions—institutionally and personally—to abandon all personal prejudices.”[1]  This was (and is) a weighty and important call to both members of the Church and to the Church itself.

I am grateful to live in a day where the pain President Oaks observed and was himself pained by is greatly lessened.  I am grateful that the Church no longer discriminates about participation in saving ordinances based on race and that “the Church disavows theories advanced in the past” that supported that policy.  I am grateful that the official stance has been articulated that “Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”[2]  I am grateful to be part of a Church that has partnered with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to work towards bringing “hope, happiness, and good health to all of God’s children.”[3]  And I am grateful to have a church president who, in light of the recent circumstances of the murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin and the subsequent protests, shared a personal message on Facebook to express deep sadness at “recent evidence of racism and a blatant disregard for human life” and to call on “any of us who has prejudice towards another race … to repent!”[4]  I am grateful for all of these things. Yet, I still feel like we have a ways to go to fully be in obedience to the “divine call to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children” as an institution or as individuals in the Church.

One of my frustrations in this regard is that it feels like the leaders of the Church have a difficult time in addressing racism head-on.  Yes, we have had a few calls in recent years to abandon racism and prejudice, including general conference talks by President Gordon B. Hinckley and M. Russell Ballard and statements from members of the current First Presidency in other venues.[5]  It seems problematic to me, however, that since I was born in 1990, there have only been three or four general conference talks that address the issue, even in passing.[6]  There’s also the issue that it took 35 years for the Church as an institution to come out against the racist teachings that were used to support the priesthood and temple ban.[7]  That’s a painful amount of silence compared to the call Dallin H. Oaks makes when he said we need to “hasten to prepare our attitudes and our actions—institutionally and personally—to abandon all personal prejudices.”  We also have the example from earlier this year, when a quote from Joseph Fielding Smith that contained outdated racial commentary on the Book of Mormon was included in the “Come, Follow Me” manual for 2020.  Not only did the quote pass all the review processes for the manual, but when it was finally noted that it might be a problem, Church leaders let it stand in the printed edition.  Only after the Salt Lake Tribune pointed out the problem in January of this year did they publicly acknowledge the error, apologizing and asking members to disregard the printed version.  Yet, even that response was only to the press—no statements were released on the Church’s website to tell members to disregard the quote, no letters or emails were sent out through official channels to inform Church members on the issue, and Church Newsroom coverage of an event where Elder Gary E. Stevenson addressed the problem removed any reference to his statement about the manual.[8]  Even President Nelson’s post this week, while important, seemed slightly delayed in coming and odd to only come as a personal statement on Facebook rather than an official statement made by the Church or the First Presidency.  It feels like an ongoing pattern of difficulty with addressing the issue of racism directly and in full view of the Church’s membership.

I suspect part of that struggle to address the issue is because previous Church leaders taught some racist ideas.  I’ve posted two times so far this year about the Book of Mormon and its discussion of race,[10] and I was struck in the commentary on both of those blog posts about how Latter-day Saints seem caught between a desire to uphold the integrity and teachings of past prophets and a desire to fight against prejudice and racism.  It is sad to me and frustrating that those two objectives feel at odds with each other in some difficult-to-navigate ways.  In a Church that teaches that we need to obey the prophets here and now because they speak God’s words, it is difficult to admit that what they teach as God’s words about prejudice and racism are directly opposed to some of what their predecessors taught on the subject of race.  It’s a difficult place to be—caught between supporting two good desires in what should be an ideal organization (God’s church on earth), making it difficult to navigate the issue while maintaining trust in our leaders for inspired direction.

Even with venting these frustrations, I do still acknowledge that the institution of the Church is improving, making changes, and speaking out on the subject of racism and prejudice.  During the time that I have been writing this post, President Nelson’s remarks have gone from a Facebook status update to a Church Newsroom article with the full text presented, to a headline on the Church’s main website under the label of “prophetic direction.”  There’s also the 2017 incident, where the Church issued a statement condemning racism after violence at a Charlottesville, Virginia protest.  When some of the alt-right individuals in the Church tried to co-opt the statement to make it a discussion about reverse racism (i.e., “you cannot be anti-white and follower of Christ”), the Church quickly came back swinging in a very non-ambiguous way. It was bluntly stated that: “White supremacist attitudes are morally wrong and sinful, and we condemn them.  Church members who promote or pursue a ‘white culture’ or white supremacy agenda are not in harmony with the teachings of the Church.”[11]  And, with the “Come, Follow Me” manual incident, they did react and make the change in the digital versions of the manual, stating that they did so with the belief that the majority of Church members would use the digital version rather than the print version.  Perhaps this last decade of statements and reactions against racism has been a time of laying a foundation from which the Church and its members can more readily push back against racism and prejudice.

In any case, it should not be ignored that President Oaks’s call to “abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children” was directed not only at the institution, but also at the individual.  As President Nelson recently wrote, “it behooves each of us to do whatever we can in our spheres of influence to preserve the dignity and respect every son and daughter of God deserves. … We need to work tirelessly to build bridges of understanding rather than creating walls of segregation.”[12]  The death of George Floyd as a result of police brutality and the anger and demonstrations that have followed are a call to listen to the voices of those suffering from the effects of racism and to understand why they are angry and afraid, then to act on that understanding.  I intend to take it as such, anyway, and to study more deeply about racism and reflect on what I can do better personally, beginning with Darius Gray’s “Healing the Wounds of Racism” and the resources Carolyn recently shared at By Common Consent.  By taking the time to do so, I hope to better understand how I can personally hasten to prepare my attitudes and my actions to abandon all personal prejudices, as President Oaks has called upon us to do as servants of God.



[1] Dallin H. Oaks, “President Oaks Remarks at Worldwide Priesthood Celebration,” 1 July 2018, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/president-oaks-remarks-worldwide-priesthood-celebration.

[2] “Race and the Priesthood,” Gospel Topics Essays, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics-essays/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng.

[3] Sarah Jane Weaver, “NAACP and the Church: How a Unique Partnership Is Blessing God’s Children,” 22 July 2019, Church Newsroom,  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/naacp-and-the-church-how-a-unique-partnership-is-blessing-gods-children?lang=eng.

[4] “President Nelson Shares Social Post about Racism and Calls for Respect for Human Dignity,” 1 June 2020, Church Newsroom, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/president-nelson-shares-social-post-encouraging-understanding-and-civility.

[5] See Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Need for Greater Kindness”, CR April 2006; M. Russell Ballard, “The Trek Continues!”, CR October 2017; Dallin H. Oaks, “President Oaks Remarks at Worldwide Priesthood Celebration,” 1 July 2018; Russell M. Nelson, NAACP Convention Remarks, 21 July 2019, Detroit, Michigan, Newsroom Church of Jesus Christ.org; “President Nelson Shares Social Post about Racism and Calls for Respect for Human Dignity,” 1 June 2020, Church Newsroom.

[6] https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/search?lang=eng&query=racism&facet=general-conference&highlight=true&page=1.

[7] While Church members like to point to Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s statement that we should “forget everything” that has been said by previous Church leaders “that is contrary to the present revelation” as a prompt and public disavowal of the racist teachings used to support the priesthood and temple ban, it should be noted that he seems to have only been speaking in relationship to the direct effects of the ban.  In the very same speech, he continued to promote the racist teachings that had been used to support the ban, stating that “we can only suppose and reason that it is on the basis of our premortal devotion and faith” that the ban existed and adding in a later published version a reference to the idea that people with black African heritage are “the seed of Cain and Ham and Egyptus and Pharaoh.” (Bruce R. McConkie, “All Are Alike Unto God,” 18 August 1978, BYU Speeches and See Bruce R. McConkie, “The New Revelation on Priesthood,” in Priesthood [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981], 126-37, especially p. 128.)  Between the time the ban was lifted and the 2012-2013, when the Church released statements disavowing those teachings, I have only found three statements by Church leaders specifically rejecting the ideas, none of which were made in a forum that would provide wide exposure to Church membership (See Edward L. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball [SLC: Deseret Book Co., 2005], 238 for a quote by Spencer W. Kimball; Dallin H. Oaks cited in “Apostles Talk about Reasons for Lifting Ban,” Daily Herald, Provo, Utah [5 June 1988]: 21 [Associated Press]; reproduced with commentary in Dallin H. Oaks, Life’s Lessons Learned: Personal Reflections [Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book Co., 2011], 68-69; and Jeffrey R. Holland, Interview, 4 March 2006).  Instead, the attitude, in general, seemed to be that of Gordon B. Hinckley–that the 1978 Revelation “continues to speak for itself” and that he didn’t “see anything further that we need to do” (cited in Richard N. Ostling and Joan K. Ostling, Mormon America [New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1999], 104).

[8] Compare https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/elder-stevenson-naacp-martin-luther-king-memorial-luncheon with Sean Walker, “We are all part of the same divine familiy,” KSL.com 20 January 2020.

[10] See http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2020/04/race-and-lineage-among-early-latter-day-saints/ and http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2020/02/reconsidering-the-lamanites/.

[11] “Church Issues Statements on Situation in Charlottesville, Virginia,” 15 August 2017, Church Newsroom, https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/church-statement-charlottesville-virginia?__prclt=tNTTIVsb.  See also Jana Riess, “LDS Church rebukes Mormon white supremacists, who rebuke the Church right back,” Religious News Service, 15 August 2017, https://religionnews.com/2017/08/15/lds-church-rebukes-mormon-white-supremacists-who-rebuke-the-church-right-back/.

[12] https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/president-nelson-shares-social-post-encouraging-understanding-and-civility.

43 comments for “Hasten to Prepare

  1. “Yet, I still feel like we have a ways to go to fully be in obedience to the ‘divine call to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children’ as an institution or as individuals in the Church.“

    I’ll let someone else acknowledge the elephant still in the room.

  2. I suspect that different people will see a few different elephants sitting in the room here. What’s on your mind in this case, p?

  3. For starters we need to define the word PREJUDICE fully & accurately b/c the way some of us use the word is problematic.

  4. Chad,

    I appreciate your extensive use of the first-person-singular “I” rather than the plural “we” (and rather than second- or third-person). I think public discourse would be much improved if this practice were more common. Of course, there is a time and place for almost everything.

  5. For instance I’d say the way the institutional church currently relates to women and the LGBT community is significantly prejudicial. I realize there are other descriptors or rationales like “God’s plan” or “societal norms” but it still looks like prejudice to me.

  6. ji, that was something drilled into me when I was part of an interfaith group in college. In many ways, this post was a deeply personal expression of something that has been weighing on my mind for a long time. I shared it with everyone else with the thought of sparking thoughtfulness on the topic and, perhaps, some public dialogue too.

    p, I honestly wasn’t thinking about the implications for women and the LGTB community when writing this post, but I think the thoughts I’ve shared, including the words you quoted from the post, still stand as my personal feelings about the need to overcome prejudice in attitudes and actions towards all humanity, with those groups included. I realize there is some painful irony in the particular individual I was quoting and paraphrasing in expressing those things when extended to include those groups (particularly the LGTB community) and agree that there are areas where progress can be made within the institution towards them. I would love to have thoughtful dialogue around how to be better towards and overcome prejudice against those members of God’s family too, particularly for what’s within my sphere of influence. I should take more time to study and consider my attitudes and actions there as well, though racism is still what is foremost in my mind at the moment.

  7. To me, the elephant in the room is the unavoidable choice that either the Church, institutionally and individually, has been racist in its policy of priesthood and temple exclusion relating to black brothers and sisters or God himself is a racist. I grew up in the 50s and 60s and went on a mission in 1970-72, and can unequivocally tell you that the Church’s teachings about, and attitudes toward, blacks were racist. The Church has recently, with the essay on the priesthood, come close to blaming the policy on Brigham Young. But ultimately, the essay explained the policy as a reflection of societal attitudes. That is true. But even today, as demonstrated by Elder Oaks, we still attribute the policy to God. However, there is no written evidence I am aware of that gives any better reason for the doctrine than the disavowed tropes. And it was doctrine. Personally, I don’t believe God ever gave any such direction or revelation to any prophet that the ban was His will. Unfortunately, I can only assume that the Church for over 125 years carried out this racist policy because it fit into the general racist views held by its leaders and members. It was easy to hide behind the policy. But going forward after 1978, we can no longer hold onto that racism. As with polygamy, it was time for the Church to change directions (decades late) in 1978.
    I agree with you that the current leaders are in a difficult position in their sincere efforts to move beyond the past blatant racism. But they cannot do it without calling into question the prophetic authority of any prophets, past and current. Maybe the current leadership and white membership (myself included) that were raised under the pall of the old ban have to pass away before the Church can actually have the courage to admit the policy, in and of itself, was not inspired, and to issue an apology for past racism. I hope that step can be taken well before that time.

  8. I don’t know how we, as a church, can move past attitudes of prejudice when we believe the priesthood and temple ban was of God, as others have said. Denying a group of people access to God’s blessings and participation in the kingdom based on an immutable characteristic, that has no bearing on righteousness, is an act of prejudice. Christ showed countless times that individuals are judged and blessed based on their choices and intents. He ministered and blessed all who came to Him regardless of their group affiliation. He even blessed the gentile woman who came to Him. If the folk doctrine the church denounces in its essay isn’t true, then what possible reason could God have to deny priesthood and temple blessings to those of African descent?

    I have heard some say that God knew the white members weren’t ready for equality, so to spare them from further condemnation, God put the ban in place. If this is true, why weren’t white members who were prejudiced repeatedly instructed to repent while the ban was in place? And why the silence for 35 years afterwards while racism continued? Why did the racist doctrines now denounced gain any traction, if it was white members’ racism that was holding God back? So we would essentially have to believe that God put a ban in place that enforces racial superiority. Then God watches silently as church leaders justify the ban with racist doctrine. Then God inspires leaders to lift the ban but to not retract the racist doctrine behind it. Then God inspires leaders to retract the racist doctrine decades later but gives no further insight into why the ban was there to begin with.

    I just don’t understand how as a church that believes in continuing revelation, we can say that God tells us our shoulders should be covered but can’t make the effort to tell us why He supposedly caused 125 years of suffering and more for His black children.

  9. The elephant in the room, as I see it:

    A culture that pervasively crosses over the line from respecting and sustaining our Church leaders, into hagiography. This creates an environment where the membership views church leaders as perfect and incapable of making mistakes, rather than simply being good men who do their best to fulfill their callings from God.This culture creates an attitude in which the mistakes and commonly-held prejudices of the past cannot be acknowledged in our leaders, because God, it is asserted, would never allow His leaders to make mistakes—ignoring the fundamental reason that the Atonement is provided, in the first place—Christ atones for our mistakes, leaders included.

    This cultural insistence as seeing everything that has happened in Mormonism as being directly and completely ordained of God means that we have a very hard time learning from our past mistakes; it makes self-examination of prejudices, whether on racial issues or LGBT issues, excruciatingly difficult. Honest attempts to acknowledge mistakes are twisted by the cultural environment as attempts by a hostile world or the Adversary to undermine us and God’s work.

  10. Mark, Mary & Taiwan, those comments were strong and clear. May many read & ponder.

  11. Are there any records of Elder Oaks expressing his distress with the racism of the church policy? He was in prominent positions and could have expressed his concern but waited until 2018?

    I too was impressed with the hipocracy required to say we should “abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of gods children” while leading the opposition to gay marriage in the church, and doing nothing for equality for women in the church. Appearently he was for improving the lot of women when pres of BYU, so he is aware of the problem.

    Judging by comments I see there are plenty of members who are willing to defend racism, or defend the perpetrators of racism. And certainly would note vote against it.

  12. Mark, Mary and Taiwan, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I feel like each of you brought up issues and questions that I’ve pondered on as I’ve studied and considered the history of the priesthood and temple ban.

    I do want to focus on something Taiwan Missionary brought up–that the leaders are good (but flawed) men who do their best to fulfill their callings from God, but we tend to regard them too highly, which makes it difficult to deal with acknowledging and moving beyond mistakes. I definitely was instilled with the idea of viewing Church leaders (from the local level all the way up) in a hagiographic way at Church when I was growing up. It was a pretty rough transition as I studied the history and began to have more experiences with Church leaders (i.e. mission presidents, bishops and branch presidents, etc.) and realized that while many of the leaders in the Church are good men doing their best, they weren’t up to the standard I had created by revering them so highly. I’ve seen some friends and peers shatter at that same realization and leave the Church over it. This begs the question–how do we best transition away from the culture of hagiography in a way that isn’t shattering to those who were brought up in it and also still encourages respect for our leaders? I feel like the Saints volumes are a stepping stone in that direction, as they give a more well-rounded depiction of Church leaders than past histories published by the Church, even if they aren’t quite as thorough-going as, say, a John Turner, Richard Bushman, or Gregory Prince biography. I know one thing is that we can discuss these things with our children (the fact that my mom tried to do that with me about the Church and church leaders while I was growing up was a lot of what helped me make it through the transition). At the same time, I feel like people get a bit… prickly at Church whenever I say anything about Church leaders being less than perfect, which makes it uncomfortable to try to push back against a culture of perfection in a church setting. Are there things that you’ve seen as being helpful in approaching the issue?

  13. An aspect of the priesthood ban you may not be aware of; in Britain it was presented as cultural as well as racial, so opposed intermarriage between cultures, though not as rigorously.
    My wife and I got engaged in 1970, she was called in and admonished by her bishop. We are both white, but she was British, and I am Australian. We are now both Australian.

  14. Geoff, I’m not sure about what records there are on Elder Oaks saying things about the ban while he president of BYU (while the ban was in effect). I do know, however, that he was actually probably the most vocal apostles to advocate the idea that the racist teachings that had supported the ban weren’t true at least as early as 1988, even if it was through a newspaper article and a book rather than public Church settings. It would be interesting to look into that question and see what can be found.

  15. Agree Chad, An example Was the statement by Pres Nelson on the present unrest in America revelation? Had members here falling over themselve to say how wonderful, how good to have a prophet leading us in difficult times. I posted an article from wheat and tares critical of it, and got a very frosty response.

    Had to look up hagiography, good word.

    Have also noted members going back to church last week, and this, when Utah has 439 new cases of virus. Is this the highest? Are they still doing about 2750 tests a day. If so about 1 in 7 coming back positive? Not safe to go to meetings. Did anyone go last week? Masks, singing, sacrament?

    Just announced October conference will be remote, so the top leaders are not expecting to go to public meetings before October. One law for us another for them?

  16. Geoff,
    Yeah, today was the highest for the virus in Utah. Going back to church might be a part of the spike in Utah, but we also had Memorial Day holiday weekend recently with a lot of businesses reopening due to lightening government restrictions, which are major contributing factors. There was also an outbreak at a meat processing plant in northern Utah that contributes to the statistic. With church, each stake is doing things differently though. Mine is doing a rotating schedule to reserve each building for one ward per week (so the ward can do multiple smaller group meetings), so I still have a few weeks before I have a church meeting and couldn’t say on conditions there.

    The Wheat and Tares posts on President Nelson’s statement did bring up some good points to consider. I’m not really sure what to consider the statement as being, other than a Facebook post that is now considered prophetic council.

  17. Chad Nielsen:

    Hats off to your mother for preparing you for the imperfection of church leaders, in such a way that you were able to remain in the Church. As to your friends—and mine—who shattered over the realization that Church leaders are imperfect and left the Church as a result. We all have to realize that there is no Santa Claus, no Easter Bunny, no Tooth Fairy in the Church. I once got up in Testimony Meeting and warned that Tooth Fairy testimonies are not enough to get us through life. This way after my best friend died of leukemia at 53. His death hurt a lot of people in our Ward. Everyone knew what I meant.

    I have gotten the occasional raised eyebrow for my embrace of warts-and-all Mormonism, but most people appreciated my candor. It helps to quote SWK, who as Church Pres. acknowledged that certain leaders are sent to try us, rather than build us. Perhaps not the most Christian attitude, but when I encounter the prickliness you mention, I simply push back with supporting quotes from Church leaders. It pays to read. I have told people that this Church is as much mine as it Is theirs, and that I will dispute with them, on personal views they try to peddle as doctrine.

    A thick hide is needed to survive in Church.

    FWIW, I think the trend toward greater candor in Church history (JS Papers, Saints) will continue, because Church leaders realize that this blend of leader adoration and airbrushed history has driven many young people from the Church. We still have that culture somewhat, but I am optimistic, because my impression is that most members have just quietly moved beyond it, and are Mormons on their own terms. Birth control is my favorite example—it is rarely an issue anymore, and when someone tries to raise it, they are quickly put in their place by others quoting the GHI. The anti-birth controllers are quoting GA statements from the 50s and 60s. The GHI is current.

    How do we transition away from a culture of hagiography? By being faithful members who are okay with leaders being imperfect, sustaining them anyway, and standing up to people who pretend that they are. I think this is happening gradually, just slower than we would like.

  18. Geoff-Aus:

    Sorry to hear of your tangle with a Bishop who disapproved of trans-national marriage; the two of you are both part of the British Commonwealth, for crying out loud!

    When I was a missionary in Taiwan, my first MP foamed at the mouth about inter-racial marriages between Asians and Caucasian Americans. THAT hobby horse was fortunately dust-binned when Jacob De Jager became our Area President. He was the Dutch GA whose wife was part-Dutch, part Chinese-Indonesian.

    And now Gerritt Gong of the Q12 is married to a Caucasian.

    One more of the “Doctrines of Men” that were once assumed to be from God.

  19. Taiwan Missionary: “It helps to quote SWK, who as Church Pres. acknowledged that certain leaders are sent to try us, rather than build us.”
    I went looking for a cite, but haven’t found one. Instead, I found:

    Line upon Line – Power from Abrahamic Tests
    by Truman G. Madsen · September 2, 2003
    Meridian Magazine https://latterdaysaintmag.com/article-1-405/

    “This leads to a statement allegedly made by the quotable J. Golden Kimball. Someone asked him how he accounted for the call of a certain brother to a certain position. He is supposed to have replied, ‘The Lord must have called him; no one else would have thought of him.’
    Someone else was also complaining about how difficult it was to follow a certain leader. (You see, it is not just a matter of following the request to give a spectacular amount. What if you are called to give less than you can give? What if you are called not to be called? What if you are told only to wait for a decision and be patient?) In answer to this complaint, J. Golden says the legend, replied, ‘Well some of them are sent to lead us and some of them are sent to try us.’ After the laughter and delight of that statement passes, the truth of it becomes apparent. All of us are sent to lead and to try each other. And the priesthood is given to try us to the core because of what it demands of us.”

    I have also found it useful to be prepared with GA quotes/citations expressing ideas contrary to or modifying common church cultural expectations or cultural “doctrine.” But I have found it pointless to “dispute” with some on their notions of doctrine or their adulation of church leaders. E.g., one high priests group leader refused to acknowledge a statement of a church president even when shown to him privately in print in the context of the entire speech in which it was included. I don’t mean he refused to believe the statement (I didn’t believe that statement either). instead, my group leader refused to believe that the statement had been made or that it meant anything even when made. He simply could not acknowledge that one church president had ever made a statement contradicted by another church president’s statement or action. It seems the illusion of consistency and truth of all teachings of the prophets is more important to him than facts staring him in the face. And he is quite intelligent. He and I are still friends, but I have learned it is not worthwhile to attempt some kinds of discussions with him. It’s important, I think, to know your audience and to make good decisions about what and whether and when to “dispute.”

  20. Thanks for the post. It’s an important and troubling issue on many micro levels, even though we all broadly agree on the macro concerns. First a comment on the culture issue that has implications on the racial discussion and history.

    The advice against cross culture marriages has statistical evidence. Those marriages to this day have statistically higher divorce rates. Where multiple generations can be affected by a divorce that’s not a minor thing that’s just between consenting adults. It’s fair, but not politically correct, to point out that concern. Especially in a time and place where those concerns had more value than cross cultural gnuflecting.

    I can’t imagine most people not being worried about their daughter being married to a tribal Tajik, however in fairness I’d also be worried about my daughter being married to a New Yorker, Utahn, or even a Democrat or Republican, etc.

    That’s not so much a reflection of my prejudice against the Tajik, New Yorker and Utah, etc, but as my love for her *combined* with the knowledge of how many problems people have as well as the specific problems members of each of those groups have.

    In an all cases my feeling would have to depend on knowing or getting to know the individual in question. Absent that knowledge, it’s to some degree only reasonable that group identity is going to play some kind of role in assessing the individual (for whatever that’s worth for good or ill).

    Anyone who says otherwise, better not have rolled their eyes or stuck up their nose when hearing that someone is “from Utah” or “is a Republican” comment.

    Sorry guys and girls and non-binaries, you can’t ever escape the group dynamic as long as you treasure some things and insist some things have value. For inherently, when you value something, others don’t. Some people and cultures don’t care for gold, God, gays, sex in general or children.

    Valuation is both a question of personal and cultural expression. And those things are strongly connected to group “membership”, and in the pre and early globalization days those things were also correlated with race, tribe, ethnicity etc. Globalization mixed it up a bit, strong correlations persist.

    We look back on our high horse with disdain on those racist bigots, but the reality is the past was a different culture and country

    I suppose it could be racist and bigoted for an Amazon tribal father to advise his daughter against leaving the jungle to marry a Russian oligarch.

    But even if that were the case, surely there’d be some wisdom in it.

    (And I specifically chose the Father-Daughter rationale here specifically to tease out that inherent tension)

    That being said, I agree with so much sentiment in this post, but I have a feeling I’d strongly disagree with some of the conclusions or recommendations with some people more than others. That’s always the rub. And it’s in some ways, where Christ is so important, both as a Savior and exemplar.

    But even thar reliance on Christ is filled with cultural value (and sometimes inherent devaluing of other contributions from other cultures).

  21. JR:

    Thank you! For the JGK story (I might have mixed him up with SWK in my mind). Your comment about needing to know your audience is both true and important.

    Does your former HP Group Leader run screaming from the room when confronted with BY’s Adam-God’s writings from the JD, and current Church leaders’ disavowal of those writings?

    I ask, because a particularly rigid Bishop I once had, would literally stuck his hands over his ears, when confronted by statements on the Church that went against his Disney version, and he would literally start singing “la-la-la” in a loud voice, so as to not hear the unwelcome statement. It was the act of a desperate three year-old.

  22. The Brethren’s constant exhortations to OBEY and their infusion over many decades of virulent right-wing ideology (yes, including racism, sexism & homophobia) has severely damaged our little Body of Christ and made possible, for instance, the utter abomination of wide LDS support for Donald Trump, whose personal behavior is the very antithesis of all we supposedly hold dear and holy. That’s one example. Another might be the Brethren’s confident pairing with the Catholic Church, then in the early stages of an international child sex abuse catastrophe, to pass Prop 8 in CA.
    LDS inability to refrain from common-cause on various issues w/ wild-eyed born-agains is yet another. No more Hugh B. Browns w/ his broad, enlightened viewpoints in upper quorums. That’s a rolling disaster as we have seen.

  23. Thankyou for a very thorough overview of what has happened and the key ingredients – they have all been very important to me since serving as a British missionary in Alabama in the epicentre of America’s racist dysfunctions at a time long before President Mormon Newsroom first disavowed all the racism in 2012, one of the happiest says of my life.

    A few thoughts to add – while I am plugged onto the dissident Mormon bloggernacle so follow developments and local Utah media as closely as I can when I can break out of the European Union’s data protection firewall that makes this very hard online, most of the international membership of the world are not. So for example it mattered diddlysquat that Apostle Gary Stevenson’s incredibly embarrassing, and it turned out completely deceptive, apology to the Utah chapter of the NAACP on actual Martin Luther King Day and his promise that the Church would instruct everyone to ignore the racist quote by Joseph Fielding Smith and go online instead that week was featured heavily in Utah news media. When his promise to the black people was not kept, no more than a tiny handful of Latter-Day Saints in my country and continent had the first clue that any of that happened. So most of us carried studying the printed manuals and noone even seems to have batted an eyelid about the racist narrative regarding Lamanites and curse of dark skin representing divine disapproval. Because they have STILL not been told to believe any differently. The vast majority of members here and probably still in the USA have still not heard of, never mind read, the Gospel Topics Essays. So talking about those reforms and steps away from racist doctrine in the Church as things of the past now is profoundly inaccurate. We are still in the dark ages. Every month I have to begin the whole process of deconstructing one or other fellow Church member’s racist beliefs, including all the ones mentioned in the article. It’s like anti-racist groundhog day here! As it still is for a lot of people in Utah. And until the First Presidency actually apologise in no uncertain terms that is how it will be for decades going forward. And none of us had access pre-internet to Bruce R McConkie’s speech at bYU, not General Conference, telling everyone to ignore and forget the reasons that used to be given to justify the racism. It wasn’t until 2012 that WE were told that the Church wanted us to do that.

    I would also point out in response to your question about what would help that the current First Presidency are directly sabotaging progress. In his party-pooping lecture at the Be One event Dallin Oaks insisted that while we must abandon all previous reasons for justifying God’s commandment to discriminate against black men and women, he still insisted that it WAS God’s commandment but 200 years of Prophets, Seers and Revelators including himself have still not managed to get an answer from God about what the real brilliant reason for God’s racism is. And instead of doing the job we pay him for and asking God himself, Dallin gave himself a get out of responsibility free card by teaching that God usually NEVER gives reasons for His commandments anyway (total nonsense) so we shouldn’t be expecting him to ask! It was a breathtaking tone deaf irrational car crash of a talk, specially at that event, and unravelled everything the Race and the Priesthood Gospel Topics Essay had achieved. Because he is a fanatic who refuses to countenance the idea that prophets can ever be wrong, so he is asserting his willpower to make that still so despite the mountain of evidence that he is wrong. The whole First presidency themselves are still teaching that they “cannot lead the Church astray”, “Always speak the truth”, Dallin’s article in the March 2020 Ensign insists that the apostles voting unanimously are enough to authorise doctrine and are infallible and always have been, and even President Eyring joined in recently teaching in General Conference that speaking or thinking of our leaders as having ‘human weaknesses’ is an actual sin we must repent of before every worthiness interview and Conference. So the biggest thing that would help is if the First Presidency themselves and all the Apostles who regularly join in actually stop teaching everyone that they and all their predecessors are infallible and it is an actual sin to think otherwise. It isn’t the members making it up or holding onto outdated traditions – they are simply trusting what these ordained prophets are telling them to believe. Now. Nothing else we can do will matter until that changes, and they are definitely not going to stop doing that any time soon my the looks of it.

  24. Thanks, Peter.
    It wasn’t always so. Thank Correlation, HBL (though the speech from which I quote below was at Apostle HBL’s suggestion), ETB, JFieldingS, BRM, etc. for that disaster.

    “There have been rare occasions when even the President of the Church in his preaching and teaching has not been ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’ You will recall the Prophet Joseph declared that a prophet is not always a prophet. …

    How shall the Church know when these adventurous expeditions of the brethren into these highly speculative principles and doctrines meet the requirements of the statutes that the announcers thereof have been ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’? The Church will know by the testimony of the Holy Ghost in the body of the members, whether the brethren in voicing their views are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’; and in due time that knowledge will be made manifest.”
    “When are the Writings or Sermons of Church Leaders Entitled to the Claim of Scripture?” President J. Reuben Clark, Mr., speech delivered July 7, 1954, published in the Church News, July 31, 1954.

    I’m not sure how “rare” those occasions have been, but at least the fact of them was once long ago published to the Church and everybody who could get their hands on the Church News.

    Somewhere a much longer comment by me disappeared into cyberspace. The above quote was a part of it. Maybe it will be restored someday. Maybe it was too much of a rant to make it out of moderation.

  25. Wondering,
    I just checked the site dashboard to see if your comment was caught in moderation. Nothing there. Sorry about that. There’s something(s) broken with the comments function on this site, and I’m not sure when/if it will be fixed. I would have liked to see the full rant.
    As I remember, the Clark speech was also partly President McKay’s suggestion as a way to undermine Joseph Fielding Smith’s anti-evolution publications. It was also quoted and reiterated in a brief form during the “Mormon Moment” of 2012 by Elder D. Todd Christofferson at April general conference (churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2012/04/the-doctrine-of-christ?lang=eng), so there are least a couple voices trying to keep it more realistic (counting Elder Uchtdorf in that category too). There was also Elder Christofferson’s talk where he basically said that we’re expected to seek confirmation before following the prophets and if we follow them down the wrong path in blind faith, we’re still culpable for our sins committed while doing so (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2014/10/free-forever-to-act-for-themselves?lang=eng). That one made for some fun discussions when I was a Sunday School teacher a few years ago.

  26. OK, Chad, Here are parts of what I had written (mostly quotations), minus the rant:

    “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that has now come into the world.” Bruce R. McConkie, BYU Devotional speech, August 18, 1978, https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/bruce-r-mcconkie/alike-unto-god/

    It seemed to me then and now that it would be a mistake to interpret BRM’s statement to refer to anything more than the date at which the priesthood/temple ban would be lifted. The Official Declaration says nothing about the origin or rationale of the ban, so none of those origin or rationale theories is “contrary to the present revelation.”

    Brigham Young taught, and I believe BRM and others echoed, that “When the Lord God cursed old Cain, He said, ‘Until the last drop of Abel’s blood receives the Priesthood, and enjoys the blessings of the same, Cain shall bear the curse;’” then Cain is calculated to have his share next and not until then…” Speech by Governor Brigham Young in Joint Session of the Legislature, Friday, 23 January 1852. And “Now says the grand father I will … put a mark upon you. What is that mark? you will see it on the countenance of every African you ever did see upon the face of the earth, or ever will see. Now I tell you what I KNOW; when the mark was put upon Cain, Abels children was in all probability young; THE LORD TOLD CAIN THAT HE SHOULD NOT RECEIVE THE BLESSINGS OF THE PREISTHOOD NOR HIS SEED, until the last of the posterity of Able had received the preisthood, UNTIL THE REDEMTION OF THE EARTH….” Speech by Gov. Young in Joint Session of the Legislature, 5 February. 5th 1852 (emphasis added).

    In Mormon jargon of the time period, it seems the “redemption of the earth” meant the time when “Satan will be cast out, his power will be taken away, his dominion and authority will cease, and the earth will be given into the possession of the Saints, and “the meek will then inherit the earth.’ … the time when ‘righteousness shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.’…” Elder M. Sirrine’s lecture before the assembly of the Saints, The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star, Vol. IX, No. 10, May 15, 1847, p.147. It meant “the redemption of the earth from the power of sin and Satan.’” Brigham Young, 1862, Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe (1954), 18–19, quoted by Elder David A. Bednar, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/liahona/2015/08/youth/flood-the-earth-through-social-media?lang=eng and “Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young,” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-brigham-young/chapter-4?lang=eng
    Well, that time has not come and righteousness does not cover the earth as the waters cover the sea, but 1978 has come and gone. So, unless one wants to argue that the Lord changed his mind about what he told Cain (and how he preferred the seed of Abel to that of Cain), I can’t see how to avoid the conclusion that BY, President and Prophet of the Church, like others of us, sometimes claimed to know things that were not true.

    I wish the Church curriculum committee could figure out that teaching adolescents and adults in the same way (and the same simplifications) that one teaches children ages 3-10, is not going to work for any who are thoughtful about what they read or experience in Church leadership roulette.

  27. Thanks for those quotes and thoughts Wondering and Chad. It’s still so cautious and fluffy isn’t it and spiritual feelings alone are not always very reliable. Specially when the Apostles are teaching the kids that if they have any spiritual witnesses that seem to contradict what the Brethren are saying then that is a certain way to know that their spiritual promptings or witnesses came from actual Satan! So they have placed themselves above even God as the infallible arbiters of truth because if the Holy Spirit tells you they are lying, they will just say that’s Satan and you must ignore it. Catch 22. There’s been a complete Orwellian totalitarian coup d’etat of the Church. So frustrating when we made such progress for open engagement with the world and being more realistic under Hinckley in many areas.

    There are actually at least 6 robust criteria to apply to anything the Apostles teach before taking them seriously that are supported by the scriptures and their own teachings when they aren’t batting for the Dark Side. This is what I try to encourage people to realise and apply instead of being so timid and hesitant or thinking they are not allowed to judge the Annointed Ones:

    1 – Does it make rational sense? (Intellectual intelligence, “Ponder it in your own mind”)
    2 – Does it feel right? (Emotional intelligence. Loving Charity is the most important spiritual gift. “What would Jesus do?”)
    3 – Is it compatible with canonised scripture? (Scriptural authority.)
    4 – Is it taught by most or all the Apostles in different settings? (Apostolic authority. This was reiterated recently in General Conference by Oaks I think, quoting 2 of the others who taught it previously, so that’s 3 so far LOL. And he revisited that idea of Apostles unanimously declaring doctrine in the March 2020 Ensign. Which is all a bit cheeky as he keeps unilaterally declaring the Family Proclamation he probably mostly wrote to be official revealed doctrine we must all agree with to have exaltation – he loves to hit the nuclear button! – and NONE of the other apostles have joined in to back him up. Awkward!)
    5 – Does the Holy Spirit confirm it is true? (Spiritual intelligence and revelation.)
    6 – Has it complied with the Laws of Common Consent by being presented to the entire membership for a sustaining or opposing vote? (Collective authority. the D and C study manual that seems to have finally disappeared down the Church website memory hole a couple of months ago was very clear that any significant doctrine or policy should be presented to the membership in the law of Common Consent, not just callings. They’ve ignored that since 1978.)

    Each of those on their own can be flawed in different ways, but when you put them all together you have a pretty robust and reliable system for filtering truth from evil or personal opinion in what the Apostles teach and do that anyone can apply.

    I have to say it feels a bit farcical even bothering with officially authorised ways of engaging with or filtering what the First Presidency does and teaches because they haven’t been ‘real’ authorities in any meaningful way for decades. These days they appoint and ordain themselves in secret in the temple, taking the last regime handover as an example they then wait 3 days to hold a press conference and inform the media that they are the new First Presidency holding all the keys of priesthood in God’s kingdom on earth, and then carry on functioning as the keyholding First presidency for months before letting the other leading Quorums like the Seventy or the general membership anywhere near voting to sustain or oppose their appointment. What if we all voted against? It is totally irrelevant to them what we vote. They have reframed the whole thing as a test of our loyalty to them now, not them being held accountable to the membership as the scriptures teach. The ‘Solemn Assembly’ 3 months after they were already in office was a joke, but people hardly notice these discrepancies they are so bamboozled. Noone else gets ordained or set apart BEFORE being sustained in the Church, apart from some of the apostles who inexplicably get ordained in between General Conferences without a vote like Elder Holland was. So technically they are imposters anyway, but if we do decide to play ball with them those 6 criteria are very empowering and helpful.

  28. Peter, Your rant actually includes some helpful suggestions, unlike mine that disappeared into cyberspace. However, it may be worth noting that it is commonplace here to ordain young men to the Melchizedek priesthood (and sometimes others to the office of high priest) before presenting them to the membership to have such ordinations ratified by a sustaining vote. That seems to be most common with respect to young men called on missions and with respect to men called to the stake high council. I expect you’re right that it is totally irrelevant to those leading the church or its stakes how the membership votes on such matters. But I’m not sure how they would/could make the church organization function otherwise, unless it were by calling special meetings which would likely be sparsely attended. Currently in our ward callings and releasings go on with sustaining votes in the ward council only, followed by email notices to the ward members some time later. I suppose they could set up a system for email voting by the ward (those who have and use email) or just shut down those parts of the church hierarchy from which someone must be released.
    Oh, well.

  29. As others have said, church leaders must stop preaching their own doctrinal infallibility and ignoring pressing issues for us to make progress. It is totally untenable for the church to instruct that members use their own spiritual experience and relationship to God to determine spiritual truths only when their witness aligns with current teachings. If this were the case, then none of us would be open to new revelation. “A bible, a bible we already have a bible,” or however the quote goes.

    The search for truth is not simple and lasts a lifetime. Yet once we’ve completed all the milestones on the covenant path, it’s expected that no further knowledge is necessary. We should not necessarily seek more from God but simply comply with what we’ve been given and not question the status quo.

    I have pushed back against untruths and awful culture in my own circumstances when I was in a position to do so, mostly when I was a second counselor in the Young Women’s program and in any sacrament talks. But the success of individual efforts is unfortunately so dependent on others with authority in the ward. I have sought guidance and brought up troubling issues with bishops and stake presidents. For many years, I have contemplated writing to Salt Lake but never have. I came to the conclusion, right or wrong, that church leaders have the information available they need to make changes. They are well-intentioned and try to live what they believe, but they can seek out minority and women’s perspectives. Yet, they choose to continue making small adjustments and sweeping the hard things under the rug for another generation to clean. This makes me more sad that I can express. I love the gospel as Christ taught it, and there are so many good works among church members. But there is so much anguish caused by prejudice and certainty.

  30. If Nelson were to die and Oaks become Priphet before the next live conference (april?) there could be a lot of no votes, but no one would know.

  31. One of our articles of faith is that God will yet reveal many great things. This implies that something that you find to be right today, might be changed by God tomorrow. Yet somehow we as a church really struggle with that. It kind of makes sense, why should I (church member) listen to what you (church leader) are saying today if you are just going to change it tomorrow? While overly simplified, I believe is the root of the problem. So church leaders try to put a face on it that appears to be consistent.
    Also, if we were all cool with regular statements from church head quarters saying “Now that elder so and so as passed, here is a list of things he said which we no longer believe” it opens up a window for a Joseph Fielding Smith type to really create of havoc. So I’m kind of glad that the church tries to just let old talks/teachings slowly die away as members forget them.
    I don’t know how to reduce the hero worship of church leaders, while also claiming that we should follow them. It’s a tough one. I do remember seminary teachers saying things like “Is it okay to have a favorite apostle?” and I think the answer should be “yes.” Because the only way for the answer to be “no” leads to a belief that they are all the same, and have been consistent over the past 100+ years. But by really getting into who said what, you see patterns and learn about the individuals. This helps you see them more as good men doing the best they can, instead of transcribers of messages beamed from heaven.

  32. Excellent point about many things yet to be revealed implying future changes in belief. God as remover of error, as we become more able to accept the truth.

    Re: Mary’s comments. It has been depressing to me over the years how many committed Latter-day Saints intensely dislike the scriptures in the DC that tell us to seek learning out of the best of books, and that the glory of God is intelligence. Our culture has somehow morphed from a religious movement started by a radical seeker of new religious truth into one where a lot of people don’t want more truth—in less than 200 years!

    My answer, admittedly not very charitable, is to quote those scriptures as often as I can, and when I get pushback, suggest that the offended person write to Church HQS requesting that those scriptures be removed from the DC. I get dirty looks but my point has been made. Mary, please keep up the fight. One of my favorite phrases is in Dog Latin: illegitimit non carborundum, or, don’t let the (bleeps) wear your down!

  33. Just to say as a balance to Peter’s excellent comment, in my little corner of the church in Britain our very excellent GD teacher tackled the fact of the mistaken inclusion of the quote in the lesson manual, fallibility of leaders, past racism etc. head on. Being in primary, I didn’t get to attend myself, but my husband did, and I gather the entirety of the lesson was spent addressing this. It was vital he did so. We have a racially diverse ward with many people using the paper copy of the manual.
    I personally was both very frustrated with and infuriated by the lack of any information flagging the error on the church website.

  34. In our ward, with some but not much racial diversity, the bishop instructed us to do no more in SS than briefly call attention to the deletion from the on-line manual and request use of the on-line manual rather than the printed manual for that lesson. I think he was afraid the discussion might turn to dealing with contradictions among the various historical leaders of the Restored Church, a discussion that, in my view, needs to happen because only those who have blinders on or who don’t care to understand will be able to avoid the problem.

    Peter’s comment moved me to read the full text of President Oaks’ comments at the “Be One” event, here: https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2018-06-01/president-oaks-full-remarks-from-the-lds-churchs-be-one-celebration-10994 Peter’s reading seems to me a natural reading of the remarks and the speaker, even if possibly overstated. Here are a few things I noted:

    “I studied the reasons then being given and could not feel confirmation of the truth of any of them. As part of my prayerful study, I learned that, in general, the Lord rarely gives reasons for the commandments and directions He gives to His servants. I determined to be loyal to our prophetic leaders and to pray — as promised from the beginning of these restrictions — that the day would come when all would enjoy the blessings of priesthood and temple.”

    Oaks did not explain what it meant “to be loyal to our prophetic leaders” but implies that it means accepting uncritically the divine origin of whatever they say, including the ban. For me that is an unworkable definition of loyalty. He claimed the lifting of the ban was “promised from the beginning of these restrictions.” He did not identify when or where that beginning was, but if he was referring to the teachings of BY he got it wrong. The promise was that the lifting of the ban would NOT come until the “redemption of the earth.” See quotes in the earlier comment.

    “The reasons that had been given to try to explain the prior restrictions on members of African ancestry — even those previously voiced by revered Church leaders — were promptly and publicly disavowed.”

    This was part of a description of the institutional, as opposed to individual, response to the revelation. As nearly as I have been able to discover, the claim that past reasons were promptly and publicly disavowed is false. There was no such disavowal in Apostle BRM’s BYU speech quoted above; it did not happen in Official Declaration 2; I can’t find it happening anywhere over the signature of the prophet or first presidency. This statement by a member of the first presidency in the presence of the others is the closest thing I’ve yet seen to such an authoritative disavowal, and it certainly wasn’t prompt. Maybe someone else can find what I have missed that could make it true that there was in 1978 a prompt and public disavowal.

    “To concern ourselves with what has not been revealed or with past explanations by those who were operating with limited understanding can only result in speculation and frustration.”

    Here he’s focused on the explanations, when the real problem is learning to discern who was/is operating with limited understanding and what it means for how we accept or don’t accept explanations or declarations of current leaders in the same ecclesiastical/prophetic positions. It is possible to sustain leaders’ efforts toward realizing Zion without believing everything they say. What is needed seems to me a more direct effort to change the common LDS cultural expectation that the words/teachings/doctrine of the scriptures and of prophets of the restored church somehow form a consistent, coherent doctrine from past to present. They don’t.

    “Even as we unite to abandon all attitudes and practices of prejudice, we should remember that it is not prejudice for the Church to insist on certain rules in furtherance of the Lord’s requirement of worthiness to enter a temple.”

    If Oaks intended this statement to be relevant to the ban, it’s extraordinarily tone-deaf and even inconsistent with OD-2 with its reference to “every faithful, worthy man in the Church”. By that reference OD-2 acknowledges that the ban had nothing to do with worthiness. It seems to me that Oaks was either throwing the word “worthiness” around carelessly, as in common Mormon-speak, or making an oblique reference to his favorite hobby horse, in an effort to distinguish issues related to homo-erotic behaviors or same-sex marriage from “prejudice.” Oaks is not usually careless with his words. Perhaps someone else can find a better third reading.

    “It was [indeed] a breathtaking tone deaf irrational car crash of a talk,” but not unexpected. Tone-deafness is not unique to our leaders. Among other causes of tone-deafness: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/power-causes-brain-damage?utm_source=pocket-newtab


  35. Wondering and Peter, I think you both do provide an accurate reading of the full text of the speech. It is similar to President Oaks’s remarks on the subject elsewhere–a mixed bag of progressive and good things about rejecting racism (which is most of what I focused on in the post) and remarks that weren’t quite as progressive (and in some cases simply wrong).

    Footnote seven of my post here is basically a condensed version of a post I wrote (but never put up online) in response to the claim that the racist teachings were promptly disavowed. However, from what I’ve seen, President Oaks actually seems to sincerely believe that Elder McConkie did disavow the teachings (taking the oft-quoted section about forgetting what past prophets had said out of context), which is why President Oaks felt he could make statements rejecting those beliefs in the decades prior to 2013 (and possibly part of why the 2013 Gospel Topics essay passed review in disavowing those doctrines).

    I’ve always seen the statement that “is not prejudice for the Church to insist on certain rules in furtherance of the Lord’s requirement of worthiness to enter a temple” as his way of covering the types of accusations about insisting on rejecting prejudice while still holding to the Church’s current stance about homosexuality that p brought up almost immediately in the comments section of the post.

    President Oaks does a lot of trying to say “ignore our past and try to look to the future instead” in the talk, which was frustrating to me as well. The present is a result of the past and we need to work through the issues of the past to overcome them in the future. I feel like you’ve already discussed a lot of the issues with his approach there, Wondering, but it did feel a bit like he was trying to provide a version of the history of the ban with “alternative facts.”

    To be honest, I’m kind of regretting drawing on the talk at this point because of those things, but I felt like the sections I quoted are still a good call to keep in the minds of Church members, even if a lot of the rest of speech was problematic.

  36. Chad, My rant that disappeared into cyberspace (and which I hope will never become a part of the “restoration of all things”) concluded with a p.s. that I really appreciate your post — its calm, level-headed, and inspirational analysis and tone — much more than the excited sloganizing and rabble-rousing I’ve seen elsewhere. Thank you. Yes the sections you quoted are a good call to keep in mind. They weren’t even out-of-context proof-texting in the same way the writers of the New Testament and many others have done that.

    On the peripheral topic,and to give Peter another quotation he may not have ready access to

    The “Improvement Era,” the Church’s magazine published in March 1905, B.H. Roberts” “Relation of Inspiration and Revelation to Church Government” including the following at 365-66:

    “I think it is a reasonable conclusion to say that constant, never-varying inspiration is not a factor in the administration of the affairs even of the Church; not even good men, no, not though they be prophets or other high officials of the Church, are at all times and in all things inspired of God.”

    and quoted in Givens’ “The Crucible of Doubt,” Deseret Book, 2014, at 77.

    Lest one think we have to go back to 1905 or 1954 to find such an acknowledgment, one should also consider:

    “Revelations from God—the teachings and directions of the Spirit—are not constant. We believe in continuing revelation, not continuous revelation. We are often left to work out problems without the dictation or specific direction of the Spirit. That is part of the experience we must have in mortality.” “Teaching and Learning by the Spirit” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, March 1977, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1997/03/teaching-and-learning-by-the-spirit?lang=eng

    Some of the same idea was repeated in 2001 and 2013: “In His Own Time, in His Own Way” by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, from an address delivered to new mission presidents on June 27, 2001, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2013/08/in-his-own-time-in-his-own-way?lang=eng

    I believe the plural “we” in Oaks’ 1977 statement includes himself and other leaders of the Church. Unfortunately, the concept has not become part of general Church culture and these concepts are likely to get significant pushback from some members and local leaders. Pushback is less when the concept is quoted and cited.

  37. Wondering, thank you. I appreciate it. I actually just found your post lost to cyberspace (it was in a different filter section than I thought to look at). It can be part of the restoration of all things if you’d like, but I can also leave it where it’s at if you prefer at this point.

    Thank you for sharing those quotes. I’ve been intending do a post about B.H. Roberts’s thoughts on the subject, including the quote and article you brought up.

  38. Chad, Please leave it where it is. Or, preferably, delete it from the entire universe.

  39. Colom said there was “no willingness on the part of the church to do anything material.” Do you suppose he meant :”having real importance or great consequences” or “being of a physical or worldly nature” or “relating to or concerned with physical rather than spiritual or intellectual things” [Merriam Webster]? I wonder what he had in mind.

  40. I suspect “having real importance or great consequences” based on some of the other comments he made, but I guess we don’t really know what the NAACP has been asking for with the Church in their partnership.

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