A New(ish) Mormon Hero – Dr. Lowry Nelson

December 1, 2013
By
Alpine-Summer-School-Staff-1920s

Lowry Nelson is on the 2nd row, 4th in from the left wearing glasses


I have a new hero in Mormon history (alongside Juanita Brooks, Lowell Bennion, T. Edgar Lyon, Eugene England, etc.).  It is LDS sociologist Dr. Lowry Nelson.

Check out his correspondence with the LDS Church First Presidency dating back to 1947 regarding racism and the LDS church.

…and a Dialogue article about him here (hat tip to Paula Goodfellow).

So instructive for our day.

This was a great man, folks.  A great man.

May we all follow his example.

42 Responses to A New(ish) Mormon Hero – Dr. Lowry Nelson

  1. Paula
    December 1, 2013 at 10:37 pm
    • December 1, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      Thanks, Paula! Updated above!!!

    • Jeanmarie
      December 1, 2013 at 10:57 pm

      Wow! What an amazing correspondence. How wise and thoughtful Dr. Lowry comes across, and how petty and parochial the first presidency.

      Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Brian
    December 1, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Amazing find! Fantastic stuff!

  3. Tug R
    December 2, 2013 at 3:43 am

    It’s hard not to feel as if church leaders have to some degree led us astray at times, because they were not willing to question their own biases. Nothing should be because it currently is and always has been. If it’s not right, we should be courageous enough to change it. Thanks for sharing these!

  4. Jennifer
    December 2, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Wow. What a contrast between the two positions. Shame that people seem to never hear the hatred and ignorance in their own words.

  5. December 2, 2013 at 6:25 am

    See the article that recently brought Dr. Nelson attention here: http://thoughtsonthingsandstuff.com/?p=295

    See a comprehensive dissection of his exchange on race here: http://mormonbookshelf.com/wiki/Lowry_Nelson_Communications_on_Race

  6. Odell Campbell
    December 2, 2013 at 8:26 am

    Is there a prophet among us?

    I read this exchange with my mouth ajar.

    First, I was struck by the sincerity and love expressed by Dr. Nelson.
    Second, I was buoyed by his earnestness to seek justice for others.
    Third, I feel a sameness with him as expressed his deep need to be understood and to hope that change was still possible in an institution he loved.
    Finally, I felt disgust in the same unwavering pride some LDS leaders cloth their thoughts and actions, no matter how wrong.

    It is a shame that those with social awareness do not become LDS general authorities, much less apostles and prophets. Instead, the LDS church has experts in investments, hostile takeovers, international markets, international business, corporate strategy, bank regulations, and similar money-focused backgrounds who have succeeded the racist leaders of Dr. Nelson’s day.

    And sadly, today’s LDS leaders are just as quick to threaten church discipline to those who have greater vision and have the courage to disagree.

    • tropical animal
      January 18, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Odell, your comment is right on.
      Mormons belong to a self-reinforcing society. Members are rewarded for bearing their testimonies based on repetition of accepted phrases. Perhaps this same behavior is stronger the higher up the ladder of leadership you go. Then, of course, if you are truthful, there is the threat of excommunication. Take B. H. Roberts, for example. Later in life, he writes a paper on how Joseph Smith could have produced the Book of Mormon with his own imagination, recycling ideas prevalent in his cultural background. He was brave enough to admit it, but to publish it would have meant the stress of ex-communication. One of the first problems Mormons need to correct is to allow honest open dialogue.

  7. Lee Baker
    December 2, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Great Post and a view into the mind of the Church Leadership.

    I have provided the following to several Black Leaders after comments by a few of the Mormons in Africa:

    Blacks Ridiculed again by the Mormon Church
    By Lee B. Baker, Former Mormon High Priest and Bishop
    18 November 2013
    ____________________________________________________________________________

    For several years now, every Tuesday evening I have had the great privilege of hosting “Teaching The Truth”, an LDS focused broadcast to the Christian and Mormon listeners of Worship FM 101.7 in Monrovia, the capital City of Liberia, West Africa.

    I have come to know several of the station managers and a number of the more frequent callers to this weekly program. Through their comments, questions and photographs, I have been genuinely moved to see the application of their unyielding faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Over the past few months the question of racist teachings in the Book of Mormon and from the past Leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been on the minds of the Black Liberian converts to Mormonism and the many African Christians who struggle to understand how such a Church can be growing in Africa.

    I believe the answer is relatively simple; it has been the perfect merging of a sincere lack of knowledge on the part of the Black Mormon Converts and a disturbing lack of accountability on the part of the White Mormon Leaders. A near total lack of knowledge across Africa specific to the more explicitly racist teachings found within the current Mormon Scriptures, principally that of Black Skin and even less information concerning the racism and bigotry openly and officially taught by the early Leadership of the Mormon Church. These facts, combined with the current Church Leadership’s inability to clearly and specifically reject its own racist teachings both in print and from its past Senior Leadership (liberally using the terms Nigger, Darky, Sambo and Skin of Blackness ), has left the Black Race with only a short irresponsible and offensively juvenile Official Statement that claims the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knows very little about its own race-based policy, which lasted for well over 100 years:

    “It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church, but it has ended.” – Official Mormon Press Release concerning Race and the Church

    Maintaining a detailed and comprehensive history of every aspect and teaching of the Church has been both one of the hallmarks and one of the downfalls of Mormon Church. Within the relatively young Church, authoritative documentation, however corrupt it may have been, has never been in short supply. Each of the Senior Leaders of the Mormon Church has had several official biographers as well as an army of Church approved historians to record all aspects of the History of the Church. In fact, one of my first of many “Callings” in the Mormon Church was that of a Ward (Congregational) Historian, long before I became a Mormon High Priest and Bishop.

    The peculiar assertion that the Mormon Church itself does not know the details of its very own race-based policy of restricting the Blacks from holding the Priesthood is tremendously embarrassing for all Mormons and exceptionally degrading for anyone who actually believes it.

    As a former local leader of the Mormon Church, I have repeatedly assured the African members of the Mormon Church that the documents and “Scriptures” I have read to them over the air are both Authorized and Official for the time period they are relevant to. I clearly state the current position of total acceptance of all Races by the Church, but I must highlight the fact that the Book of Mormon still carries it’s obviously racist message that dark skin was a curse from God. I have said many times on-air that like the Mormon Missionaries, I too believe that every African should have a copy of the Book of Mormon, if only to learn the truly racist teaching of the Mormons, directly from the Book of Mormon.

    I have and will continue to teach the African Nations from the authentic Mormon Scriptures and the official Church History documents, which I had been provided by the Mormon Church to know my responsibilities as a Mormon Bishop. The Official Records of the Mormon Church include many jokes and sermons given within the Official Semi-Annual General Conference of the Mormons, using freely the terms Nigger, Darky and Sambo. Additionally, these LDS Church documents record nearly 100 graphic sermons and lessons that clearly teach the principle, practice and policy that Black Skin was, is and will remain forever the Curse of Cain.

    Only in the recent past has the “Complete History” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints come to the attention of its own membership, much less to the under developed regions of the world. As this information is discovered, an ever increasing number of members of the Mormon Church have come into a personal crisis of faith, most notably Elder Hans Mattsson of Sweden, a General Authority of the Mormon Church who has gone public with his doubts and questions concerning the appalling treatment of the Black Race by the Mormon Church.

    Not unique to Africa, has been the Mormon Church’s training of young Missionaries to strictly avoid any discussion of several of the more embarrassing, yet true, teachings of the 183 year old Church. Among the prohibited subjects to discuss have been, becoming a God, the practice of Polygamy and religious racial restrictions on the Black Race.

    With the smooth talent of a skilled politician, the Mormon Church has ended its Official Racial Restrictions with the following hypocritical and deceitful, but technically accurate Statement:

    “The origins of priesthood availability are not entirely clear. Some explanations with respect to this matter were made in the absence of direct revelation and references to these explanations are sometimes cited in publications. These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.”

    As a former Mormon Bishop and member of the Mormon Church for over 32 years, let me be of some help with the translation of this very carefully crafted, yet deceitful message. The two key and noteworthy phrases are: “in the absence of direct revelation” and “These previous personal statements do not represent Church doctrine.”

    I will address the most obvious first, clearly the “previous statements” from the Church and its Leadership “do not” represent the Church doctrine today. The policy was reversed in 1978 and there is no question as to the current policy of today. The hypocritical deception is that between 1830 and 1978 those “statements” did, very much “DID” not “DO” represent past Official and Legitimate Mormon Church doctrine. Yet, I do give full credit to the clever Mormon authors and editors of today for their most skillful use of the English language.

    And finally, the most revealing and enlightening statement from the Mormon Church is: “in the absence of direct revelation”. So then, it is incredibly true and accurate that without any mockery or sarcasm to state that; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had for nearly 140 years, restricted a significant portion of the human race, millions and millions from what they teach is God’s intended blessings of Eternal Marriage, Salvation and even Godhood, without knowing why they did it, all without “direct revelation”?

    This Official Statement of religious shame and embarrassment comes from the Headquarters of a Church that claims to be guided in all things by “direct revelation”. How then, did such an exclusive doctrine based on prejudice, bigotry and racism become so widely accepted, so authoritative, so convincing and so commanding for so long, without any “direct revelation”?

    As a former Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I give testimony that what they have stated is true, in that, they are racist and do not hide the History of the Church from its members or the public, this, their Official Statement on Race and the Church demonstrates that fact.

    I believe that the truly wicked teachings as well as the repulsive history of the Mormon Church concerning Polygamy, Polyandry-(sharing wives among the men), Blood Atonement, as well as restricting the Blacks from the Mormon Priesthood is available for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

    It is my prayer that all Mormons and non-Mormons alike will come to know the true history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I wish that every adult around the world could find the time to read the calculated racism and bigotry found within the Book of Mormon. My hope is that all mankind could discover the contemporary Mormon Teachings, to see the deception they hold, and then… to read the True Word of God with the eyes of a child, and follow the True Jesus, the True Christ found only in the Bible.

    Sincerely,

    Lee B. Baker
    Former Mormon High Priest and Bishop

    • Craig
      December 2, 2013 at 4:25 pm

      Lee,

      I did a Google search for the following in your comments: “The Official Records of the Mormon Church include many jokes and sermons given within the Official Semi-Annual General Conference of the Mormons, using freely the terms Nigger, Darky and Sambo,” and found nothing to confirm what you wrote. Can you provide some documentation?

      If the LDS leadership actually used those terms in General Conference talks, it is the final “nail in the coffin,” as it were.

      Craig

      • Rollo Tomasi
        December 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm

        Craig:

        The following responds to your questions to Lee above. Here are some references that I know of:

        1. BRIGHAM YOUNG characterized blacks as “… black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.” In the same discourse, he also said: “… the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin.”

        Source: Journal of Discourses, vol. 7, pp. 290-91 (Oct. 9, 1859).

        2. GEORGE REYNOLDS (then secretary to the FP and later a G.A.), in an official LDS magazine, characterized blacks as “the lowest in intelligence and the most barbarous of all the children of men.” He described their physical characteristics this way: “The Negro is described as having a black skin, black, woolly hair, projecting jaw, thick lips, a flat nose and receding hairline. … In fact, he looks as though he had been put in an oven and burnt to a cinder before he was properly finished making. His hair baked crisp, his nose melted to his face, and the color of his eyes runs into the whites.”

        Source: “From Caucasian to Negro,” Juvenile Instructor, vol. 3, p. 142 (1868).

        3. JOHN TAYLOR said that blacks were of “the seed of Cain” and sent to Earth to represent Satan.

        Sources: Journal of Discourses, vol. 22, p. 304 (Aug. 28, 1881); Journal of Discourses, vol. 23, p. 336 (1882).

        4. REED SMOOT, an apostle, during a talk at the October 1907 Gen’l Conference TWICE used the “n-word.”

        Source: L.D.S. Conference Reports 1907, p. 56.

        5. J. REUBEN CLARK, JR., longtime counselor in the FP, used the “n-word” in his FP office diary.

        Source: Quinn, “Elder Statesman: A Biography of J. Reuben Clark,” p. 341 (Signature Books 2002).

        6. JOSEPH F. SMITH, then LDS prophet, said at the April 1905 Gen’l Conference (in speaking of his disgust for young men who smoked): “I don’t like to bow to a cigarette. I don’t like to bow and pay deference to a nasty old stinking tobacco pipe. I think that is more condescending by far than to bow to a courteous gentlemanly man who is unfortunate enough to be colored with a black skin.”

        Source: L.D.S. Conference Reports 1905, p. 86.

        7. JOSEPH FIELDING SMITH, then an LDS apostle, in an interview referred to blacks as “Darkies.”

        Source: “Editor’s Note,” Look magazine, pp. 74-78 (Oct. 22, 1963).

        8. MARK E. PETERSEN, then an LDS apostle, said during a speech at BYU: “I would be willing to let every Negro drive a Cadillac if they could afford it.”

        Source: “Race Problems – As They Affect the Church,” BYU (Aug. 27, 1954).

        9. DAVID O. MCKAY, then a member of the FP, in his diary wrote that blacks seeking equal rights were “insolent” and praised the South’s use of Jim Crow laws.

        Source: Quinn, “Elder Statesman,” p. 348.

  8. Mayan Elephant
    December 2, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    Lee,

    If one is a former Mormon High Priest, that means you are also a former Mormon. Is that correct? We cannot go from High Priest to Elder, it doesn’t work that way. But, we can go from High Priest to not a priesthood holder. Not that it matters, but is that accurate?

    You date your correspondence only a few weeks ago. It is a very well written and thoughtful piece. Who have you shared it with and what is the reaction?

    I applaud your work. Well done. I agree that the deception on the part of the LDS newsroom and its Elders is a travesty. At the time of the Washington Post article which quoted and highlighted the comments of Professor Bott, the head of the LDS Newsroom was also contributing regularly to the Washington Post Faith blog. He had ample access to the Post to make a clear rebuttal to the article. Instead, like the quotes you included, he said this:

    “The positions attributed to BYU professor Randy Bott in a recent Washington Post article absolutely do not represent the teachings and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. BYU faculty members do not speak for the Church. It is unfortunate that the Church was not given a chance to respond to what others said.

    The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form.

    For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent. 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. Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The Church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding.

    We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.”

    Like most of what Michael Otterson says, there is spin and obfuscation in his words. The truth is – Professor Bott told the truth, and the Church does not and has never condemned racism, especially the racism inside the Church. Had this ever been the case, comments like those in the original post that John created would have been condemned at least once.

    • J
      December 3, 2013 at 11:15 am

      Mayan. You don’t think the church with holding the priesthood from blacks is racist? Wow! It’s also interesting that no one in the church knows why it was done. Hello mcfly. Isn’t that why we have a prophet, to let us have the answers to this kind of CRAP!

      • Mayan Elephant
        December 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

        oh. i think it was very racist. and i think the flippant dismissal of that racism that we saw in last weeks PR from the newsroom is equally racist. i think you misread my remarks and attributed the church’s comments to me.

  9. Mayan Elephant
    December 2, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    sorry. i cant edit my reply. the church’s response is meant to be quoted and end with this line – “We do not tolerate racism in any form.” my comments follow that. my bad.

  10. J
    December 2, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    My heart felt very hopeful for humanity when I read this mans writings. My heart sank and cringed when I read the churches responses.

    • Peter
      December 4, 2013 at 3:52 am

      Both parties were Mormons. Don’t overlook that.

      • J
        December 4, 2013 at 9:53 pm

        But only one side of these two sides gets to Speak for god. That’s the side that made me cring.

  11. Dave K.
    December 3, 2013 at 7:20 am

    John, thank you for this post. I had no knowledge of Dr. Nelson until reading this. Powerful stuff.

    I am intrigued by the timing of these letters in relation to the infamous August 17, 1949 First President Letter regarding the racial priesthood ban. Could it be that many other members were in the same boat as Dr. Nelson – having heard of the ban but not knowing if it was official doctrine? If so, Dr. Nelson’s letters could easily have been the impetus for the FP to issue its 1949 Letter which clearly set forth that the ban was doctrine, revealed by God, and would not be lifted until all non-cursed people first had the opportunity to receive the gospel and priesthood.

  12. BakIrish
    December 3, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    Wow! Great read. So….. which guy was the prophet? By their works ye shall know them?

  13. Wyoming
    December 4, 2013 at 1:09 am

    I still need to listen to the podcast, but we need to be cautious of ‘presentism’ – the tendency to judge the past by current standards/values. Historical figures are best judged by the historical context of their experience. Even God seems to work within the cultural context of the period. For example, how many slave did Christ free? Where were his feminist manifesto?

    • BakIrish
      December 5, 2013 at 1:01 pm

      Lowry Nelson, George Albert Smith. and David O McKay were all close enough in age to term them “from the same historical context.” And yet, look at the foresightedness and prophecy from Dr Nelson vs. the bigotry and threats from Smith and McKay.

      I would bet that the difference is Dr. Nelson’s extensive travelling, contact with different people, and his educational background. Smith and McKay are more “career Church” types, isolated in Utah still clutching onto old ideas.

      Why would God reveal truths to Dr. Nelson and not to the Prophet of the one and only true Church on the earth? Maybe not all prophets are created equal?

      Anyway, don’t think the “historical context” argument applies here.

    • Duwayne Anderson
      December 8, 2013 at 11:55 am

      According to Mormon scripture, god perceives all of time at once. He knows the past, present and future.

      “… all is as one day with God, and time only is measured unto men.” [Alma 40:8]

      So if a man is *really* communicating with such a timeless being, why should we judge this man — or his god — according to historical norms?

      Your argument makes sense for people who act independently of god, but not for men who “walk and talk” with god. Rather, your argument seems to be a carefully crafted excuse for men who pretend to speak for god, but really don’t.

      One final point — while Mormon prophets were dispensing their racism, thousands of ordinary mortals were fighting racism. One need not have been a god, or a prophet, to fight racism. It was being done all around the globe. But it was *not* being done with the help of Mormon “prophets, seers, and revelators.”

      Even if one judges Mormon leaders according to historical context, they still fail to measure up as men of character and courage.

      • Mike Olsen
        January 27, 2014 at 12:43 pm

        Hear, hear!!!

    • Virginia
      December 11, 2013 at 11:30 am

      Agreed, historical context matters, which doesn’t absolve the LDS Church so much as it indicts religion as a whole. And if we were talking about the Lion’s club, the historical context argument would be more compelling, but the Church claims to have the unique gift of the one person on earth chosen by God to pronounce his will to the rest of humanity. And now the Church seeks to justify being on the trailing edge of social awareness and change because it was a victim of social norms. What’s the point of continuing revelation again? It claims to have exclusive rights and access to the truth, and yet it was the victim of one of the most pernicious sophistries of the nineteenth century. Sophistries it then perpetuated long after all but the unrepentant bigots had disavowed? The message to the countless who were judged to be cursed by God is “sorry, when the church was young, God’s chosen people were so self-absorbed with how the ‘Gentiles’ viewed us that we decided it was politically expedient to cast you off.” If the church’s claims to be so unique and exalted above all other groups or institutions weren’t so bold, it would be much easier to accept the historical context argument.

      And it would be one thing if the FP had responded to Lowry by saying “we are sorry, but this is the current policy,” instead of pronouncing the priesthood ban to be the word of god and then rebuking him. Where’s the humility and sense of introspection?

      I’m glad to see the church attempting to grapple with this issue now, but to initially profess ignorance as to where the priesthood ban came from (in the new chapter heading to OD 2), and then more recently to call out Brigham Young does not absolve all of his successors for the lack of moral courage to lead. We should expect them to lead, not trail. The whole concept of continuing revelation challenges the reflexively default conservatism of the Church as a whole. We live in a complex, challenging world, and our understanding of it needs to evolve, but church leadership abdicates responsibility when they allow the membership to continue to sit back and view the world in the simplistic black-and-white way that is comfortable and perpetuates a self-destructive pride that suggests we already have all of the answers because we are God’s chosen people. Seems to me that would be the kind of passive leadership in the Protestant tradition that the fullness of the gospel was supposed to transcend.

  14. Missouri
    December 4, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Prophecies will fail but charity never faileth. Interesting to reread 1 Cor ch 13 in this context. Elder Poelman in Oct 1984 general conference gave a talk was silently but not unnoticably redacted about people getting to the point where they don’t need the church. This communication exchange highlights perhaps a good example. 1 Corinthians sure is provacative.

  15. Ed
    December 4, 2013 at 11:08 am

    I was intrigued by his statement that few in his childhood home of Ferron “had ever seen a negro.” I have always wondered if part of the Church’s ban on blacks and the priesthood, and it’s slowness to catch up with most of the county on racial policy, was a result of Utah being rather isolated from the rest of the country. When the Saints left Nauvoo, most blacks were owned as slaves and thought to be inferior and often, less than human. If that was the general memory of Church members prior to going to a place where there were very few blacks, there wasn’t a lot of available information which would change the Church’s view. I think that’s why the Church’s position lingered for years after most of the country had become more enlightened. Also, those who had the power to change the policy were usually elderly and were raised in a time when racism was common and accepted.

  16. Frank
    December 4, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    I believe that the LDS Church needs to face its racist past. President Thomas S. Monson needs to make a public statement at General Conference addressing the racism of its past leaders; stating that their actions and statements were not conforming to the teachings of Jesus Christ; stating that their actions and statements were very hurtful and damaging; and, finally, asking for the forgiveness of all black people of the world for the awful racism that was found among the LDS Church’s leadership and its members. It kind of sounds like the repentance process to me – one of the Church’s basic tenants!

    • Charlie
      December 8, 2013 at 10:37 pm

      Jesus also taught segregation of races in his day when he taught about Jews first and Gentiles later. But off course today we don’t see it as racists unless its Gentiles being racists about Jews.

      He could also be accused of racist language with that chat he had with the Samarian woman at the well of Jacob….

      • Duwayne Anderson
        December 9, 2013 at 8:53 am

        We can take that argument a little further. Jesus (who Mormons believe was Jehovah of the Old Testament) also commanded murder, rape, and genocide (see Numbers 31).

        One could ask if those stories in Numbers 31 are actual history, or just made up. I did exactly that, and was informed by my LDS church leaders that those historical events really happened — that Jesus (AKA Jehovah) really commanded Moses and the Israelites to commit the war crimes described in Numbers 31. The Mormon Church, being led by consummate Old Testament literalists, really does teach that Jehovah commanded the Isarelites to murder women and children who were prisoners of war, while keeping the young girls as “wives.” These sorts of war crimes would earn modern dictators a well-deserved death sentence today. The Americans executed Nazis for lesser crimes.

        Given that it’s Mormon Doctrine that Jesus ordered such atrocities, one can/should ask whether or not it’s logical that the “real” god of the universe is such a depraved monster. If one has “faith” in a good and benevolent god, then one has to disavow Jehovah (Jesus) and proceed with faith that god is some other being.

        If, on the other hand, one’s faith is in Jesus (Jehovah), one pretty much has to give up one’s faith in a good and benevolent god — because Jehovah was about as violent and evil as any of the ancient gods out there.

        The logic of this situation is pretty clear cut, but people’s emotions always get in the way. That’s were cognitive dissonance comes in, and the apologists start pulling out these absurd arguments about judging a time-invariant super deity by the historical norms of the petty mortals of the day.

        But if you let go your emotions and stick to logic and reason, then you either worship an evil god named Jehovah (Jesus) or you maintain your faith in a good god of some other name.

  17. Odell Campbell
    December 4, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    My friend John Williams ponders the tension in Mormonism that sometimes exists between following and sustaining church leaders and following one’s conscience.

    http://runtu.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/whom-he-listeth-to-obey-spiritual-confirmation-and-authority/

    I hope you find his essay as interesting as I did.

  18. Charlie
    December 6, 2013 at 7:34 am

    What utter racists and politically uncorrect language the first presidency used in that letter.

    But they do say that segregation of blacks and calling them inferior was church doctrine. That’s what is troubling to me because it was never canonized and Joe Smith seemed to imply something different, so I can only conclude that that presidency was wrong to call it ‘doctrine’.

    But what happened to Lowry after this? I haven’t had time to read the sunstone stuff, is it in there? did he leave the church or get ex’d? just curious.

    • Duwayne Anderson
      December 8, 2013 at 11:34 am

      Mormon scriptures state that:

      “…whatsoever they [church leaders] shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”

      http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/68.4?lang=eng#3

      When Mormons are confirmed as members of the church, they are given the “gift of the holy ghost” and told that the holy ghost will be their “constant” companion — that the holy ghost will only leave them if they commit sin.

      http://www.lds.org/liahona/1981/03/thy-constant-companion-the-promised-blessings-of-the-holy-ghost

      Thus, unless a leader of the church has committed some sin that would deprive them of the holy ghost, their pronouncements are doctrine and “scripture,” as describe in the above verse from the D&C (68:4).

      If Mormonism is true, and unless George Albert Smith was sinning in a way so as to drive away the holy ghost, then he had the holy ghost when he wrote those letters. And that means those letters (according to D&C 68:4) constitute the mind of the lord and are scripture.

      One of the most powerful logical tests for any hypothesis is to consider the outcome that is predicted if the hypothesis is true and then look for that outcome. If the predicted outcome isn’t found, it is logical and reasonable to conclude that the hypothesis is false.

      In the case of Mormonism, in the matter of racism (and a hundred other matters as well) the hypothesis that Mormonism is true is falsified by the observation that these so-called “prophets, seers, and revelators” were wrong. Not just a little bit wrong, but absolutely, positively, and horribly wrong. And not just about little stuff that doesn’t matter. They were wrong about the big stuff — the really important stuff.

      The only hypothesis that is consistent with all the evidence is also the simplest hypothesis: Mormonism is a man-made religion, and a bad one at that. Mormon leaders have been among the most *uninspired* leaders. The fact that people continue to sustain them as “prophets, seers, and revelators” is a testament to the power of myth and of cultural control.

      • Charlie
        December 8, 2013 at 10:18 pm

        “unless George Albert Smith was sinning in a way so as to drive away the holy ghost, then he had the holy ghost when he wrote those letters.”

        Or he was using his own understanding and thus wasn’t being guided by the Holy Ghost. That’s the third option you forgot to mention, which I would think was the case here.

        • Duwayne Anderson
          December 9, 2013 at 7:42 am

          Charlie wrote: “Or he was using his own understanding and thus wasn’t being guided by the Holy Ghost. That’s the third option you forgot to mention, which I would think was the case here.”

          The Mormon Church only gives two options. One either has the holy ghost as their “constant companion” or one doesn’t. That’s not my opinion — that’s Mormon doctrine (read the links I provided).

          The Mormon Church is equally bifurcated when it comes to the reasons for the holy ghost not being with a man. The holy ghost will be with him if he’s keeping the commandments, and he won’t be with him if he’s breaking the commandments.

          Again, that’s not my opinion, that’s Mormon Doctrine (read the links I provided).

          So according to Mormon Doctrine, unless George Albert Smith (and other errant Mormon prophets)was sinning in a way so as to drive away the holy ghost, then he had the holy ghost when he wrote those letters.

          Mormon Doctrine doesn’t allow for a middle ground. The “other option” that you mention simply doesn’t exist in Mormon Doctrine. That option is simply a fabrication by Mormon apologists who attempt to explain why their “inspired” leaders can be so absolutely wrong on critical issues. But, as President Wilford Woodruff said:

          “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. (General Conference of the Church, Monday, October 6, 1890).

          http://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/od/1

          Given such unambiguous statements from Church leaders, the fact that *multiple* Presidents of the Church lead the Church astray on the matter of racism is proof positive that the Church is *not* true, and that these leaders are just men (and not very good ones, at that) who are leading a man-made church and making all the expected mistakes and human gaffs along the way.

  19. European Saint
    December 7, 2013 at 5:19 am
    • j
      December 8, 2013 at 7:56 pm

      That link you posted gives no reason for the church with holding the priesthood from blacks in light of people brining forth their own ideas. One would think the church would like to clear this up a bit but they don’t for some reason. We have a prophet and still they don’t have an answer.
      It also states that many other Christian churches where segregated. But we are not any ordinary church people. We should have been the first ones out there standing up for equal rights. But yet, again we where not.

      • Charlie
        December 8, 2013 at 10:33 pm

        The post gives you the reason why the church did this. Brigham Young decide that blacks could not hold the priesthood but he never clarified the issue by anything more than passing racists comments.

        These men, prophets seers and revelators, are still as mortal as Peter was when he denied knowing Jesus or as Paul was when he wrote what he did about women being silent in church and women obeying their husbands etc…..they could be said to make mistakes too. Problem is that some, especially the so called anti-mormons, think that they are infallible and perfect when speaking for God, as D Anderson suggest above. But they aren’t perfect and aren’t always right when preaching. They are still free to make decisions and choices as we all are. They still have their free agency. And being guided isn’t or doesn’t mean never making mistakes. God may support them because they work for him but eventually God has to work with what he has and later on maybe correct mistakes.

        But then again maybe Young was inspired in banning blacks from the priesthood for whatever reason, or maybe because the society of the day wouldn’t have tolerated mormon black preachers. We don’t know since he never fully explained his actions.

        • Charlie
          December 8, 2013 at 10:34 pm

          sorry ‘the link’ not the post.

  20. Adam
    December 8, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    Wow – another puzzle piece drops into place. I often wondered how President McKay (especially with the council of men like Hugh B. Brown) could have knuckled-under so quickly to the John Birchers and other fascist influences, and these documents make it pretty clear that the Church has always had more than just a “Personal Feelings” level of racism in it – the reality almost approaching racial Zionism.

    This is very unfortunate. If the church from early on has just been another player in the “British Israel” game, then there never really was any core of inspiration there – just manipulation to build power bases. Surprising the church didn’t go into building shopping malls during the Reagan years.

    “I love Christ, but am not so keen on his followers.”
    – Mahatma Gandhi

    I sometimes wonder if there is an inner sadism in right-wing authoritarians that takes subconscious enjoyment from using Jesus’ name to subjugate other people, much like how modern conservatives love to remember the Cuban Missile Crisis when they think about J.F.K. and completely disown his later notions of “a Peace Race” that got him assassinated.

    As though they had found a way to beat their enemies in death – in Jesus case, by co-opting his divine mission into institutionalized slavery. They had better hope that there is no afterlife, because if there is, they will have a lot of big surprises.

    “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

    Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

    And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
    -Matthew 7:21-23

  21. L
    December 11, 2013 at 10:11 pm

    I think the whole slavery and racist attitudes is a massive, massive blight on Americans. It’s totally shameful they put up with it for so long and continue to do so. One wonders why the KKK is still around. Pres. George Albert Smith is no racist

Support

Monthly Subscription

One-Time Donation

Subscribe

Subscribe to podcast

RSS Feed

  • Podcast Feed

Facebook Support Group


Mormon Stories on Facebook