Mormonism and racial issues/Blacks and the priesthood

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PERSPECTIVES MEDIA QUESTIONS RESOURCES 2014 CONFERENCE

    Blacks and the priesthood

Topics




  • Overview
    Brief Summary: An overview of the priesthood ban that was lifted in 1978. (Click here for full article)
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  • Origin of the priesthood ban?
    Brief Summary: The origin of the priesthood ban is one of the most difficult questions to answer. Its origins are not clear, and this affected both how members and leaders have seen the ban, and the steps necessary to rescind it. The Church has never provided an official reason for the ban. (Click here for full article)
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  • Understanding pre-1978 statements by members and leaders of the Church
    Brief Summary: Critics frequently parade justifications for the ban by past General Authorities that are considered quite racist by today's standards. While these have not been officially renounced, there is no obligation for current members to accept such sentiments as the "word of the Lord," and they most certainly do not reflect the Church's current position and teachings. (Click here for full article)
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  • Lifting the Priesthood ban
    Brief Summary: Is it true that the Church has never produced a copy of the revelation granting Blacks the ability to receive the priesthood? (Click here for full article)
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  • Did social pressure play a role in lifting the ban?
    Brief Summary: Critics try to raise doubts about the authenticity of the 1978 revelation by claiming that it was dictated by social or governmental pressure. (Click here for full article)
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  • Joseph Fielding Smith's racial reference in LOOK Magazine in 1963
    Brief Summary: Critics point to a 1963 statement by Joseph Fielding Smith LOOK Magazine in which he used the word "Darkies" as representative of the Church's racism. These critics, however, are applying a double standard to the Church in 1963. Not one article, photo, or ad in a full 154 pages of this colorful oversized magazine interrupts its perky Caucasian landscape by featuring an African-American. They are not to be seen in ads, Catholic schoolrooms, or even on a featured college football team. Looking at this slice of life from the sixties, the only reason one would have to think blacks even lived in the United States is one photo on page 118 where a few blacks are pictured as the recipients of charity. The patronizing hypocrisy of examining one small church's "attitude toward Negroes" in this sort of environment has, of course, not yet settled into the mainstream of American consciousness. (Click here for full article)
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  • Policy or doctrine (Click here for full article)
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  • Statements
    Brief Summary: A compilation of statements made by Church leaders both before and after the rescinding of the priesthood ban in 1978. (Click here for full article)
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  • Banned from temple open houses
    Brief Summary: Were blacks banned from visiting temples prior to dedication, while other non-members were welcomed? (Click here for full article)
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There exist previously taught ideas which have been repudiated by Church leaders since the ban. Among these are the notion that Blacks were somehow not as "valiant" in the pre-existence, and that interracial marriage is forbidden. (Click here for full article)

  • Less valiant or neutral in the pre-existence during the "war in heaven"
    Brief Summary: It is true that LDS scripture states that those with lighter skin color "are favored because of what they did as spirits in a pre-earth life?" Is it true that some Church leaders taught that people who were born with dark skin were "neutral" in the pre-existence? (Click here for full article)
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  • Inter-racial marriage
    Brief Summary: Even prior to rescinding the priesthood ban, the Church advised against inter-racial marriages only because such marriages might have more difficulties in being successful. Leaders lumped such advice together with advising married partners to seek those of the same culture and socio-economic level. The counsel was specifically stated not to be absolute, but merely general advice for maximizing marital success. (Click here for full article)
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  • The "curse of Cain" and "curse of Ham"
    Brief Summary: We often hear that Latter-day Saints believe and teach that blacks are descendents of Cain, and that they are cursed. In fact, on some occasions prior to 1978, blacks were denied access to temple open houses because they carried the “mark of Cain.” What critics never point out, however, is that the "curse of Cain" is a Protestant invention that was created in order to justify slavery in the 1800's. One would get the impression listening to critics that the Latter-day Saints originated the idea of the curse, and they point to the priesthood ban as evidence of such, while ignoring that fact of segregated congregations in Protestant churches of that era. (Click here for full article)
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  • LDS scriptures cited in support of the ban?
    Brief Summary: Is it true that the LDS scriptures link a person's skin color to their behavior in the pre-existence, and that the Book of Mormon is racist and promotes the idea that the "white" race is superior? Some contend that even though the doctrinal impact of pre-1978 statements have been greatly diminished, the LDS scriptures still retain the passages which were used for proof-texts for the ban and hence cannot be easily dismissed. A parallel can be drawn between Protestant denominations that have historically reversed their scriptural interpretations supporting slavery and a modified LDS understanding of their own scriptures that relate to the priesthood ban. Through more careful scripture reading and attention to scientific studies, many Protestants have come to differ with previous interpretations of Bible passages. A similar rethinking of passages unique to the LDS scriptures, such as Abraham 1:26-27, can be made if one starts by discarding erroneous preconceptions. (Click here for full article)
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