Columns Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Forty years on, most Mormons still believe the racist temple ban was God’s will

This month, Mormons are celebrating the reversal of the priesthood/temple ban that was in place in the LDS Church until 1978. In the Next Mormons research, one question we endeavored to answer was how Mormons today feel about the ban.

I found the results surprising, and also rather depressing.

Just to explain this policy, until 1978 any Mormon of African descent was prohibited entrance into the Church’s temples for ordinances such as sealings and endowments. This effectively barred them from entering the highest level of heaven after death (the Celestial Kingdom), which Mormons believe can only be obtained by people who have received those ordinances in the temple.

The ban also prohibited men of African descent from holding the LDS priesthood, despite historical evidence that several black men were ordained to the priesthood under Joseph Smith before Brigham Young forbade it in 1852.

The 2016 NMS asked whether respondents felt that the ban on members of African descent was “inspired of God and was God’s will for the Church until 1978.” Respondents were given a five-point scale of possible responses, with the upshot being that nearly two-thirds of self-identified Latter-day Saints say they either know (37 percent) or believe (25.5 percent) that the ban was God’s will.

Another 17 percent think it might be true, and 22 percent say they know or believe it is false. Overall, then, a majority of Mormons still support the idea that the priesthood/temple ban was inspired by God. Only about one in five say they know or believe the ban to have been wrong.

One major surprise in the data was that Mormons of color were actually more likely to say they knew or believed the ban was God’s will than white Mormons were. 70 percent of non-whites affirmed this, compared to 61 percent of whites. That also remains true when we consider only African American respondents in a group by themselves: 67 percent of African Americans know or believe the priesthood/temple ban was God’s will, which is six points higher than the rate for whites. (The margin of error is high, however, since there were only 50 African American Mormon respondents in the study.)

Just because many non-white Mormons view the priesthood/temple ban as having been inspired by God does not mean they have warm feelings about it. About four in five say they are at least a little “troubled” by the ban, while only one in five are “not at all troubled.” Among white Mormons, by contrast, about one in three were not at all troubled.

One final finding from the research concerned former Mormons. Recall that only about one in five current Mormons say they know or believe the ban to have been wrong. Among former Mormons, that’s almost exactly reversed: only one in five think the ban was right. 83% of those who have left the Church do not think the ban was God’s will.

On a personal note, I’m in the minority here. I’m an active Latter-day Saint who believes the ban was the result of human error.

It was never God’s plan to deny an entire race of people entrance to the temple—and thus to eternal life—simply because of the color of their skin. We did that. Human beings did.

Mormons have come up with at least four different and rather horrifying excuses for our actions, including, in a rough chronological order:

  1. “Blacks bear the mark of Cain.”

This was a nineteenth-century American staple, and as the Church’s 2013 Gospel Topics essay on race points out, was common in society outside of Mormonism. This has not been taught by Mormon leaders for decades, but it’s certainly still on the books from the Young era.

  1. “Blacks were less valiant in the premortal life.”

This idea that blacks failed to choose a side in the “war in heaven” became more common about a hundred years ago, in the early 20th century. (See footnote 14 of the Gospel Topics essay, or Paul Reeve’s outstanding history Religion of a Different Color, 254–256.)

Bruce R. McConkie practically codified this folk belief in his 1950s bestseller Mormon Doctrine, which remained available through the Church’s official publisher until 2010. (See here for my celebratory post when the book was removed from circulation.)

  1. “Blacks just weren’t spiritually ready to have the priesthood until 1978.”

This one hit the news as recently as 2012, when a BYU professor was quoted in the Washington Post as claiming that the ban was actually to the benefit of blacks, because they were not prepared for the responsibility until then. He compared the situation to a child asking for car keys before being mature enough to use them. That same month, the LDS Church issued a statement that disavowed this professor’s reasoning. (“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.”) But that same statement also leaned heavily upon Reason #4, which was . . .

  1. “Gosh, we just don’t know how or when this happened.”

The Church’s 2012 statement was wonderful in its express condemnation of racism, but puzzling in its insistence that “It is not known precisely why, how or when this restriction began in the Church.” This month’s Ensign magazine further makes the claim that “no known records exist” to explain how the policy came about—which caused Jonathan Stapley to rightly and eloquently cry foul over at By Common Consent. There are copious historical records, and the evolution of the ban has been traced meticulously by historians like Paul Reeve.

The problem is that Mormons want to engage in a collective amnesia because to do otherwise would be to admit the truth: that Brigham Young made a colossal and tragic mistake.


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About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

84 Comments

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  • Question – since I’m too old to pretend to know everything.

    Does the LDS church accept/promote the idea that God changes its mind?

    I know that some people who claim to be Christian, despite the accounts in the Bible which undermine them, insist that God is “the same yesterday, today and forever”.

  • Gee, more bigotry thinly disguised as religion.

    The sooner people stop believing in these fairy tales, the better off the world will be.

  • “40 years later, most Mormons still believe the racist priesthood/temple ban was God’s will”
    Just the headline ALONE tells you more about the Mormon ban than the hole article.

  • Ah, a “hole” comment on a “hole”article.

    Can we add anti-Mormon to anti-Catholic?

  • Well, Jana, if Brigham Young “made a colossal and tragic mistake” (a premise I absolutely agree with), doesn’t it make you wonder what other colossal and tragic mistakes the leaders of Mormonism have made and are capable of making?

    And that logic has led me to the certain conclusion that there is nothing prophetic at all about the leaders of the LDS church. They’re men pretending to be something they’re not.

  • “This (curse of Cain) has not been taught by Mormon leaders for decades, but it’s certainly still on the books from the Young era.” …and still in the Pearl of Great Price.

  • I feel completely comfortable with the idea that I don’t know why God told his prophets to initiate and continue this ban. I believe in God and believe in the whole Mormon story, including this ban, plural marriage, and the all-male priesthood, among other doctrine and policies that others might find to be false or abhorrent. That’s ok. And from the results of the mentioned survey it appears that many other Mormons feel similarly. Those that don’t apparently often leave the church. That’s ok, too. I guess the folks who experience the biggest problems are those like the author who want to be Mormon but don’t like some of the doctrine or policies.

  • Religion has been the basis of bigotry and bloodshed for millenia. From slavery, through Jim Crow, and obviously up to and including today in America.

    Not bigotry. Just fact.

  • Irreligion has made every other basis of bigotry and bloodshed fade into insignificance.

    Under the Soviet Union 61 million people were killed; Stalin was responsible for 43 million of them. Under Mao, another Marxist state, 77 million were killed. Pol Pot killed 2 million Cambodians out of a population of 7 million.

    So, within less than a century atheism killed more people than every other ism, belief, or disbelief in the entire history of mankind.

    How about bigotry? Marx called the German labor leader Ferdinand Lassalle a “Jewish N-gger.”

  • So, within less than a century atheism killed more people than every other ism, belief, or disbelief in the entire history of (hu)mankind.

    That seems a bit of an exaggeration. However, since no one except God could have actually counted, we have no idea if it is true or not. We shall just have to wait and ask God.

  • All religions are having the same problem.

    Everyone is his own Prophet, Pope, or Guru.

    It’s the age we live in.

  • Hi Jana…in your article you state…..”This effectively barred them from entering the highest level of heaven after death (the Celestial
    Kingdom), which Mormons believe can only be obtained by people who have received those ordinances in the temple.”….This is not accurate. Baptism is the essential ordinance for membership in the Kingdom of God; membership in the Church and/or admittance to the Celestial Kingdom. Any baptized person who “endured to the end” with faith in Christ would qualify for the highest Kingdom.

    You state….”I’m an active Latter-day Saint who believes the ban was the result
    of human error.” President Kimball (who received the revelation to change it in 1978) said in a press conference held
    in December 1973, said in regards to the priesthood restriction being lifted….“It is the policy of the Lord who established it, and I know
    of no change, although we are subject to revelations of the Lord in case he should ever wish to make a change.”
    Please note…President Kimball said it was “the policy of the Lord…”

    You state….” It was never God’s plan to deny an entire race of people entrance to the temple—and thus to eternal life—simply
    because of the color of their skin. We did that. Human beings did.” …..Of course it wasn’t, you don’t explain it fully. Your
    argument and conclusions cheapen the issue and bring into contempt the sacred principle of revelation and divine authority.
    In 1852, Brigham Young also announced that the ban would be lifted at some future date and that black members would receive all the priesthood
    blessings and more. This statement by Brigham Young was pondered often by President Kimball when pleading with the
    Lord in regards to lifting the ban.

  • I don’t know, Bob…have Mormon priests been raping and abusing children? I await your reply…😎

  • What you’re seeing is a natural consequence of blind, unquestioning faith. When you decide that THE CHURCH must always be right about everything, even when it changes its doctrines, you fall out of the habit of thinking and questioning. You simply become a zombie operated by remote control, reflexively going along with everything the church authorities command. It’s a sad abdication of your most precious attribute: free thought.

  • They’ll ignore those passages. We’re dealing with an emotional need here, a craving for absolute certainty (even if it’s wrong).

  • In your view, is it possible to criticize some aspect of Church X and not be “anti Church X”?

  • 1. afaik LDS church has “bishops”, not priests.

    2. I’ve read lots of comments on some ex-Mormon sites about bishops abusing people. The LDS “church” does a much better job of covering this stuff up than the Catholic church.

  • Your position would be much stronger if you could explain whether there is any such thing as legitimate or reasonable criticism of any denomination or religion.

  • No, it isn’t. Yes, the PoGP mentions “a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan,” but it is attributed to a totally different event and is not directly attributed to God.

  • Hebrews 3;8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.“

    God doesn’t change, neither does his Law, but circumstances do and so do people’s hearts.

  • “And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.” Exodus 32:14

  • As a mormon child I was clearly taught over and over – dark skin bad, white skin good.

    As a mormon child I was taught that in pre-mortal existence, in the spirit world, those who are born with dark skin had sided with lucifer!!! …and that dark skin was a mark to show bad from good.

    Why is it that mormonism, a blatantly racist religion that teaches UTTER MADNESS, is allowed to exist and operate in our communities!?

    I am not a mormon now, but they messed my mind up for life! …how is this legal?

  • I fall into the 17% that believe that the ban MIGHT have been God’s will. Yes, it has been traced back to Brigham Young, and yes, the evidence is solid that Young had the standard prejudices of his day (and generations to come), but with no official statement or reasoning for the ban given we simply don’t know. God might have had His own reasons for instituting the ban for a time; at a minimum, He had His own reasons for allowing it to continue.

  • Just to explain this policy, until 1978 any Mormon of African descent

    It’s curious that the policy ended at a time when biologists and anthropologists had mostly accepted that the evidence pointed to the idea that Homo sapiens Is itself of African descent.

  • Great point, Agni. All we need to do for confirmation of that truth is to read the Old Testament.

  • “It was never God’s plan to deny an entire race of people entrance to the temple—and thus to eternal life—simply because of the color of their skin. We did that. Human beings did.”

    I fully concur with the writer here. Other churches, such as the Southern Baptists, have admitted their past racism, and have asked their black brothers and sisters for forgiveness. The structures for black Baptist churches still stand, but black Baptists are welcome in any church today.

    Some Baptist churches have even offered classes to their members and attendees, that encourage them to recognize the differences between the two races. This makes for better race relations, both at church and in the wider community.

    This is what is needed with the Mormons: an open admission that their decades of racism was wrong, and an open plea for forgiveness.

  • The Book of Moses presents the idea that God cursed Cain (5:40) with black skin (7:8) and that the Canaanites inherited that skin (7:8), specifically so that they would not procreate with other races. (face palm)

    The Book of Abraham says that Ham married Egyptus (1:23) who was a Canaanite (1:21), and from whom all black people are descended after the great flood (1:24), before recounting how Pharaoh was denied the Holy Priesthood on account of his blood (1:26-27).

    The idea is as ridiculous as it is repulsive. Today, we disavow these “theories” but this much remains in our canon, even though we usually skip these verses in seminary and sunday school. I would like to see these verses get scrubbed.

  • Eve was an afterthought, the rainbow is to mark the decision not to repeat mass murder (at least – not by flood).

    Look – it’s your book – if you don’t understand it don’t quote it.

    Oh – and in case you hadn’t realised, the Bible says Jesus of Nazareth died. – So he can’t be the same today can he – he was alive – now he dead.

  • It’s a better world that rejects secular humanism, atheism, and sophistry like your own.

  • There’s a problem with your Moses references, they don’t say what you claim they say. Here’s Moses 5:40:

    “40 And I the Lord said unto [Cain]: Whosoever slayeth thee, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And I the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.”

    The mark of Cain is intended as protection, not a curse.

    So here’s Moses 7:7-8:

    “7 And the Lord said unto me: Prophesy; and I prophesied, saying: Behold the people of Canaan, which are numerous, shall go forth in battle array against the people of Shum, and shall slay them that they shall utterly be destroyed; and the people of Canaan shall divide themselves in the land, and the land shall be barren and unfruitful, and none other people shall dwell there but the people of Canaan;

    “8 For behold, the Lord shall curse the land with much heat, and the barrenness thereof shall go forth forever; and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.”

    No mention of Cain, and “a blackness [that] came upon all the children of Canaan” AFTER they had carried out a Tamerlane-style massacre, and no mention that it was the result of a curse from God.

  • Actually there are ordained priests in the LDS Church. They are usually 16 to 18 year old teens who prepare the communion for distribution by deacons (12 to 14) and teachers (14 to 16) during the service. They are part of the LDS Church’s Aaronic Priesthood. None of them lead LDS wards or branches (congregations.)

    Bishops or branch presidents lead congregations and they are ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. Bishops are ordained high priests. Branch presidents can be elders or high priests.

  • Regardless what you believe is or isn’t implied, it all harks back to a very human concept that those who are different from us, are lesser than us. And what more obvious differences exist than skin tone. And for some reason, white Europeans above all others have believed that they were better than everyone else. They were the saviors of the lesser races. They were the panacea for all the world’s ills.

    I’m not familiar with that concept in the cultural heritage of any other race on this planet, neither among black, brown, red or yellow melanin groups. Most peoples of the earth have believed that they were the chosen at some point in their history. This is why it is almost universal that a people’s name for themself translates as “the people.” And then they had a name for everyone else who were not “the people.” But they also usually had a way for someone who was not of the people, to be adopted into the tribe and become the people, no matter how different they looked externally.

  • While, I am a member, I do not think reading the old testament can confirm anything about prophets in terms of objective evidence.It is simply confirmation bias for someone who already believes.

  • If I’m recalling correctly, the “revelation from god” came at a time when the US gummint was suing a number of universities for racial discrimination, most famously Bob Jones “university”.

  • The LDS “church” is an example of brilliant social engineering. It, and its surrounding culture (especially in Salt Lake, but also in other places) is set up to add difficulty of having thoughts other than the ones the LDS church wants you to have, and especially, to make it very difficult to speak out.

  • The answer to this question by religions is clever: god is forever etc, but fallible humans make mistakes….of course, when you point this out to different religions, in terms of things like abortion, gays, etc, then you get a lot of hemming and hawing…

  • But how come god doesn’t make things so crystal clear that there is no chance for humans to misunderstand what god wants? Doesn’t god have the power to do that?

  • Altho the LDS “church” has admitted that racism began with Bring’Em Young, as far as I know, it still has not addressed the horrible, blatant racism of past church president Ezra Taft Benson.

  • Agni,

    There is a difference in a “mistake” and in a “colossal and tragic mistake.”

    A mistake is a misstatement, a brief lapse in judgement, or a similar error. Consistently declaring an entire race of people as inferior and declaring their eternal opportunities lesser than others is not a “mistake.” It is a spiritual tragedy.

    If one can dismiss what Brigham Young did as a “mistake,” and given we all make mistakes, what makes Mormon prophets special at all?

  • Yes, there were other social and political factors that were part of the revelatory process.

  • One of the things I find especially interesting is that the top men of the LDS “church” clearly believe that only they can receive revelations from god!

  • But if it was decalared by god, as the baptists and Mormons claimed, how could they have been wrong about that?

  • It’s legal because it is religion, and they can claim whatever they wish. Who is going to prove them wrong? Why, they can even claim they are exempt from laws forbidding discrimination on the basis of religious belief, because they have belief, and it is sincerely religious.

  • I believe it was kimball claiming that the policy was divine in origin that brought into contempt the idea of sacred principle and divine authority.

  • I would like to see the. On the front page of the SLC Tribune and the New Yourk Times.

  • In the 1970’s before the ban was lifted…Mormon institutions like BYU were about to face major outside boycotts of sports and other educational activities. BYU was also a viciously racist place — as many black athletes who travelled there to play, would mention.

    So faced with boycott’s …God apparently sent a message to the old white Mormon Apostles that the ban should be lifted. Good to know that God reacts to public opinion… I suspect LGBT and others will eventually put enough pressure on God to make some more changes. So stay tuned…

  • “Look – it’s your book – if you don’t understand it don’t quote it.”

    Classic. LOL

  • Hey, Ben!! It’s been a minute my friend, how are ya? 😊— Actually this is an easy one (At least for me): misinformed men made these scurrilous declarations, NOT ALMIGHTY GOD. In context, the Scriptures affirm the reality that the enslavement of human beings has be occurring since humanity has been in existence. But realize this , Ben: the Bible neither endorses nor even mentions the concept of RACE-BASED SLAVERY, in EITHER Testament. That idea arose from the sin-laden hearts and souls of vicious, conciousless men. Hope that helps, and God bless you!! 😊😊😊 [P.S.–I probably spelled conciousless wrong; a little help? 😁]

  • When I asked that question, most answers were variations of the same thing: God is so majestic, his concepts so infinite and he exists on such a superior plane that the scriptures are him dumbing down for us mere humans, conveying infinite concepts in our limited human language, while trying to hint at the possibilities.

    Yeah.

  • “specifically so that they would not procreate with other races”

    Epic fail in that regard. Gimme some of that brown sugar anytime!

  • Hi, Laurence.

    Yes, I know that. That was my point. It was men claiming to speak for god who were the problem. Men tend to do this a lot. There are a host of ills in the history of the world, caused by men who claimed to be speaking god’s will.

    I’ll take the gospel of St. Fred Astaire, who said that whenever he had to say something about anyone. He would ask himself first: is it true, is it nice and is it necessary?

  • Bob sorry but your idea of equating criticism of the leadership and doctrines and beliefs of the lds church as anti mormon is a idea that the leaders of the lds church came up with to have themselves and lds members get out of answering any questions especialy ones they could not answer about the strange doctrines and practices in your church that joseph smith and brigham young taught and not found in other churches

  • What makes any prophet special? Good question.

    Consistently declaring an entire race of people as inferior and declaring their eternal opportunities lesser than others

    That sounds similar to what Noah (considered a prophet and saint by Christians) did in Genesis 9:25:

    Cursed be Canaan!
    The lowest of slaves
    will he be to his brothers.

    Now, there are at least two ways of interpreting this statement by Noah. One is that Noah actually said this, in which case Noah was cursing all of Canaan’s descendants to be slaves. Some people might see the prophet/saint Noah’s curse as divinely revealed, but others might see it was a tragic mistake.

    A second way of reading this is that the author/editor of Genesis 9 placed these words into Noah’s mouth, as a way of explaining why the Canaanites were seemingly cursed by God. Thus, even if Noah didn’t actually say the curse, it was believed that he did in fact say the curse. Some people might see the attribution of the curse to Noah as divinely revealed, but others might see it as a tragic mistake.

    So, the bottom line Is that even someone considered to be a prophet, or a saint, can say something (or can be believed to say something) that future generations might see as a tragic mistake. And indeed, Noah’s “statement” had tragic consequences for enslaved Africans in what is now the U.S.

  • Yeah…talk about BS!!! Funny how he can make so many other things clear–no divorce (tell it to the RCC), etc.

    I’ve lately been thinkg about why so many religions have strong rules about sex, and I have a hypothesis, and I’d be interested in seeing your opinion:

    I think the sex drive is strong for most people;’ religions understand that, so they make rules about it, figuring that that’s one way of gaining control over people. Whaddya think?

  • Gee, I thought my point was obvious: you asked if Mormon “priests” have been raping and abusing children–I suspect that was supposed to be a rhetorical question–and I responded that such accusations have in fact been made–if you know where to look for the info.

    Perhaps I should have been even clearer: LDS church control of members’ behavior and thinking, has meant that the church has had some success in suppressing such allegations.

    I gather you disagree?

  • Dave can i ask where in the bible does it say priests 16 to 18 years old and deacons 12 to 14 years old and teachers 14 to 16
    Last time i looked elders deacons bishops and presbyters were the husband of one wife
    They were chosen by the congregation they wereto be knowledgeable beyond reproach
    And were truthful and yes were yes and their no were no meaning they did not second guess what they meant their are to be fair and full of wisdom and compassionate and show mercy i do not think children between the ages of 12 and 16 years old can have the reason and attributes required to hold the elder or deacon or presbyter office you must have maturely which being older in age and experience you can aqquire such things

  • Wow, “WorldTabler”…did you notice how much like a Roman Catholic you sound? Why do some religious systems insist that their adherents check their minds at the door?? 😐😐😐

  • Yep, nothing says “better” more than denigrating people based on an appeal to a made-up authority. Talk about sophistry. I’ll take atheists an secular humanism.

  • Yep, nothing says “better” than a self-appointed critic panning 3,000 years of Judeo-Christian belief and offering … nothing.

    Irreligion has made every other basis of bigotry and bloodshed fade into insignificance.

    Under the Soviet Union 61 million people were killed; Stalin was responsible for 43 million of them. Under Mao, another Marxist state, 77 million were killed. Pol Pot killed 2 million Cambodians out of a population of 7 million.

    So, within less than a century atheism killed more people than every other ism, belief, or disbelief in the entire history of mankind.

    How about bigotry? Marx called the German labor leader Ferdinand Lassalle a “Jewish N-gger.”

    And those atheist and secular humanist charities doing such good work across the world …. not.

    Bigotry thinly disguised as commenting on religion.

  • I did not equate criticism of the leadership and doctrines and beliefs of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints as anti-Mormon.

    I suggested that “Just the headline ALONE tells you more about the Mormon ban than the hole article.” coming from a Jewish atheist might indicate that along with his long history of anti-Catholicism he might be adding anti-Mormonism.

    One would expect the doctrines and practices of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints to differ from other churches – its foundation was based on the belief that the true church had been lost and would be restored to its pristine state through the church.

    Btw, I am not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints.

  • Which invalidates everything they claim to know – surely it can’t all be guesswork and wishful thinking – can it?

  • I didn’t defend the system, I just explained it as it exists in the LDS Church. When you think that yours is the only true church, led by Christ who gave the church the “keys to the kingdom,” that church can organize itself as it wishes.

    Elders and bishops (high priests) in the LDS Church are 18 years old and above, adults.

  • Faux Prophets always make mistakes. There is a reason many people are running away from religion and Mormonism in particular.

  • Actually it’s because of the First Amendment, the same thing that protects your anti-religious speech, silly comments, and so on.

    Destroy that and you destroy yourself.

    Whether that’s worth it or not is a separate discussion.

  • The nature of the bible means you can derive almost any conclusion or commandment or law you want from it. By “nature of the bible”, I mean (1) afaik all serious bible scholars agree that all the books of the NT were written decades after the death of Jesus (if he even was a real character);

    (2) all the books were written and re-written and re-written, often with subsequent scribes making changes on their own to original texts; (3) “the bible” was put together around 325 AD at some famous conference (name slips my mind at this moment). An event like this, deciding which books to include and which to omit, would necessarily involve lots of negotiation.

    As well, of course, the Catholic bible differs by 1 or 2 chapters from the Prot bible.

  • No, BYU wasn’t “about” to face “major outside boycotts,” it was ALREADY facing boycotts and protests and had for years without impact. Much more likely to have been the cause of the final consideration leading to the revelation lifting the ban was the Sao Palo Brazil temple, built with the enthusiastic support of Brazilian Mormons, most of whom would not be able to enter that temple so long as the ban was in place. The ban was lifted on June 8, 1978 (resulting in Church-wide celebrations), and the temple was dedicated October 30 of the same year.

    And even if you don’t believe that the LDS Church is led by prophets, blown by the winds of public opinion, don’t forget that the Church is now an INTERNATIONAL organization, with over half of its membership outside the US — and most of that membership is NOT in western Europe. And with the US likely 50% increase over the next generation is thanks to a Total Fertility Rate of between 3 and 4, with people leaving the Church in the US at a slightly higher rate than new conversions, that isn’t going to change. So no, there would be no great urge to have a sudden revelation.

    Oh, and God being influenced by public opinion? Consider Matthew 19:

    Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

    “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

    “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked.

    Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.”

  • Yup – what I was suggesting is that, since we only see god(s) through humans and humans are fallible the image of god(s) we see is, inevitably, false.

    Therefore everything people “know” about god(s) is, at best, possibly true and, at worst, guaranteed wrong.

  • Perhaps we should remember that no–one, theist, deist or atheist, whether in pursuit of their beliefs or not has ever wiped out anything like the percentage of humanity (and all other life-forms) as some people think their perfectly good god did.

  • Agni,

    Sorry, I was traveling or I would have responded sooner.

    Are you seriously comparing this:

    Cursed be Canaan!
    The lowest of slaves
    will he be to his brothers

    To the HORRIBLE things Brigham Young said about Blacks?

    “You must not think, from what I say, that I am opposed to slavery. No! The negro is damned, and is to serve his master till God chooses to remove the curse of Ham.”

    “…. and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race – that they should be the ‘servant of servants,’ and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree.”

    “Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a sin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood, and the law of God.”

    And I could go on and on.

    And please, tell me, in your view was Brigham Young correct or was he “mistaken” when he said those things?

  • What Noah supposedly said about Canaanites was used to justify the enslavement of Africans by Euro-American Southern Christians; and what Young said was a similar justification. From a Canaanite perspective, what Noah said would have probably sounded horrible; an African-American would likewise view the Young’s statements. Both what Noah supposedly said, and what Young said, are statements that, I would argue, are not revelatory of God’s Mind, and reflect a fallible human’s attempt to justify an injustice.

  • I agree with you.

    And I think that supports my premise that Young was pretending to speak for deity. But he really wasn’t. And that, coupled with his other egregious behaviors leads me to the conclusion that he was a smart man but a spiritual fraud as was his predecessor Joseph Smith. And with those two as its foundation, that leads me to the conclusion that Mormonism is a sad fraud.

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