As many of you know, recently the LDS Church released its second essay in the Topic section on Race and Priesthood. We've predicted these would come soon (see here, here and here).
There’s much to laud. They acknowledge that all races are equal and should be respected the same. They acknowledge that they have a checkered, even shady past in this regard. They emphasize God’s love for all humanity. The Church is disavowing past, present and future racism.
However, in doing so, they segregate Joseph Smith from Brigham Young and subsequent leaders up to Kimball, and throw the middle group of leaders under the back of the bus.
In fact, I dare say, their words in the Topic dismantle much of the LDS Church itself.
Here are some of the claims in the essay (not in the order presented in the Topic).
Disavowing past, marginalizing their future
Claim: “Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”
I congratulate the LDS Church for marginalizing its own "theories" (e.g., "teachings") of the past. I congratulate them on condemning the theoretical racism of their own leaders. They had 11 prophets that continued racism policies. They don’t explicitly name them or call them out, except to condemn Brigham Young in one breath:
No one knows
Claim: “President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood... Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.”
This is like their press-release in early 2012 "It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago..."
They don't know how it happened, except that Brigham Young started it and was entirely wrong. And then they slyly, implicitly exonerate Brigham Young in the next breath with, “Church leaders pondered promises made by prophets such as Brigham Young that black members would one day receive priesthood and temple blessings.”
What did Brigham promise? They don’t quote him in the Topic. So I will do it for you.
“When all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Vol. 11, p.272.)
The blacks had to wait for the whites to be served? That's their exoneration and explanation? Is that what happened in 1978? Then why did the LDS Church continue missionary work in white communities? Hmmm.
It is also clear that Brigham Young did not always or even often believe this would change. "This will always be so," he said.
"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, Volume 10, page 110, empasis added at end)
Perhaps he changed his mind. That doesn’t explain why the subsequent 11 prophets continued his racist ways. The Topic doesn’t really offer any good explanation for this except to say their church was “restored amidst a highly contentious racial culture in which whites were afforded great privilege.” And “The justifications for this restriction echoed the widespread ideas about racial inferiority that had been used to argue for the legalization of black “servitude” in the Territory of Utah.”
In other words, they were just following the crowd. Wait, I thought the point of having a prophet was to lead the people!
We're supposedly in the most wicked times, near the end times, and the prophet is supposed to guide us with higher morals and a brighter star. Yet, they now argue the past leaders were just caught up in the culture, so we can excuse their lack of moral understanding and courage because the rest of the world was also a mess on race issues. Does the prophet get a pass either way?
In fact, there’s a revelation that says if the prophet ever misleads the people, he will be removed by God. It’s in the D&C, in Official Declaration 1.
“The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as President of this Church to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty.” (Wilford Woodruff, Official Declaration 1)
The LDS Church tells us that its prophets followed the racist precepts of the world. It tells us that, “Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.” Why didn't the Lord remove the false 11 prophets from their place? Was Wilford Woodruff wrong? So that means they Can lead members astray?
The LDS Church tacitly admits that the previous statement, that the Lord won’t allow a prophet to lead the members astray, is false. For nearly 150 years the prophets have led the people astray with racist policies and the current prophet administration does not know why this happened, they just know firmly, racism is wrong. That repudiation of the former policy, of hundreds of statements made by Brigham Young, Wilford Woodruff, John Taylor, Bruce McConkie, and many more effectively opens the gate to an understanding that the current administrating prophets could be absolutely dead wrong on policies they have in place currently.
How does anyone know when to trust these men if they can be wrong about the salvation of an entire group of people for almost 150 years, through 11 administrations? Why should we trust their current policies on gay marriage, tithing distribution to investments and more?
Some not as equal as others
Claim: “Church President David O. McKay emphasized that the restriction extended only to men of black African descent. The Church had always allowed Pacific Islanders to hold the priesthood, and President McKay clarified that black Fijians and Australian Aborigines could also be ordained to the priesthood and instituted missionary work among them.”
Interestingly, the reason, we can speculate, for this segregation of some black members receiving the priesthood and others not is to do with the Book of Mormon Lamanites. The theory was, at the time of McKay, that the Fijians and other pacific aborigines were descendants of the Lamanites. Skin color wasn’t the issue. It was national culture. African blacks were bad. Pacific blacks okay. However, science has shown all the human population can trace their roots to Africa. How does that square with Brigham Young’s promise that Africans would have to wait for “the rest of the children have received their blessings” before they get theirs, when we are all, to an extent, Africans?
Joseph good, Brigham bad
Claim: “During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood… There is no evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime.”
This claim is to help the LDS Church buoy up Joseph Smith as not a racist. However, the Book of Abraham, Moses and Book of Mormon, which he produced, teach very racist doctrines. For example, 2 Nephi 5:21 still says:
“And he 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, and 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.”
3 Nephi 2:12-15 continues to teach that dark-skinned Lamanites who converted unto the Lord had their curse“taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites.”
Moses 7:22 says, "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."
The Topic said, "Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse..."
Did they just disavow the Book of Mormon???!! And the Book of Moses? and Book of Abraham (Abra 1:23-26)?
Furthermore, one of the very basic tenets of Mormonism is racist at heart. All members are segregated into racial groups according to the tribes of Israel. If you are not directly part of or adopted into the lineage of Abraham, you cannot fulfill the requirements of salvation and exaltation. When one gets a patriarchal blessing, the declaration of lineage is always made to that race. Implied strongly in this is that Asians, Blacks, Indians, Amerindians, and others are not chosen. They must at some level (blood or spiritual) declare and align themselves with the race of a Bedouin tribe or else be damned.
No matter how they try to paint Joseph Smith good, Brigham Young bad, the current leaders are still marred in the mess of the Book of Mormon and generally by their Abrahamic doctrines which are at heart racist. And it shows in their other policies.
God not a respecter
Claim: “It affirms that God is “no respecter of persons” and emphatically declares that anyone who is righteous—regardless of race—is favored of Him.”
Claim: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces the universal human family. Latter-day Saint scripture and teachings affirm that God loves all of His children and makes salvation available to all.”
Tell that latter to the gays. Enough said.