I am still appalled by the new church policy banning baptisms for children of gays and polygamists until age 18. A distant relative of mine was just released as stake president, and I told him that I feel this new church policy has set the church back 100 years. That was an understatement; it’s more like 150 years.
I’ve blogged considerably about the priesthood and temple ban. The purpose of this ban was to stop acceptance of interracial marriages occurring in Mormonism. Two interracial marriages were discovered in 1846-47. Massachusetts had legalized interracial marriages in the 1840s, and black church member Enoch Lewis married white church member Matilda Webster. When mission president William Appleby discovered their mixed race child, he wrote Brigham Young asking whether such marriages were authorized.
Soon after this, Warner McCary began propositioning white church members to be his polygamist wives. McCary claimed to be Indian, though he was really an escaped slave and many church members believed he was black. His propositions excited great animosity, and church members threatened to shoot him.
Following these two scandalous marriages, Brigham Young implemented a policy forbidding blacks to be ordained or enter the temple, and no further black church members were ordained. Despite helping to build the Salt Lake Temple and previously receiving his washings and annointings in the Kirtland temple, even Elijah Abel was denied admission to the temple. Young formulated a ban forbidding black ordinations and temple ordinances in a quiet way, just as with the recent handbook changes. Young didn’t openly proclaim the policy for a few years (1846-1852). The policy wasn’t openly acknowledged until 1852 when Young announced that Black’s were cursed from Cain and unworthy of the priesthood. The reason for this ban was to prevent blacks from marrying whites in the temple.
History repeated itself in the early 1900s when the Church, in an effort to stigmatize polygamists. Polygamists started their own rival organizations (the FLDS Church, Apostolic United Brethren, Kingston group, and others) and in response the LDS Church forbade their children from joining the LDS CHurch without First Presidency approval. This is also an unrighteous policy. In my previous post I talked about Madison Brown‘s reaction to being denied baptism even though she has said multiple times that she will not live polygamy.
“I don’t know if I want to [join the Mormon Church] now, because if they want me to publicly denounce my family, why would I want to be a part of your church?”…..
“It shocks me. From day one I’ve said, I don’t want to be a polygamist, but I love my family. I love my parents, but it’s their choices. I will continue to love and support and endorse their choices if it makes them happy,” vows Madison. “[The Mormon Church elders] didn’t like that.”
In a Salt Lake Tribune op-ed article, Lance Allred describes being bullied by others because of his polygamist upbringing.
The LDS Church and its devout followers are playing coy and completely disregarding the social ramifications a child will endure when it flippantly says, “When they are 18 they can be baptized.” Sure, when they are 18, after going through their most formative years as a teen, through a gantlet of mental abuse, developing who knows what kind of emotional complexes and illnesses.
Church leaders are stigmatizing another group of children. They seem to justify this unfair treatment because they’ve done it before. In the recent Race and Priesthood essay,
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.10 According to one view, which had been promulgated in the United States from at least the 1730s, blacks descended from the same lineage as the biblical Cain, who slew his brother Abel.11 Those who accepted this view believed that God’s “curse” on Cain was the mark of a dark skin. Black servitude was sometimes viewed as a second curse placed upon Noah’s grandson Canaan as a result of Ham’s indiscretion toward his father.12
They finally repudiated this view.
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 unrighteous 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.24
Yet they have now just committed the same error as Brigham Young. It is time to stop repeating the errors of the past. Jesus said in Matthew 18:6
But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
This is strong condemnation from the Savior. End this policy today which offends the Savior. Allow children of gays and polygamists to be baptized without pre-conditions of disavowing parents. It is an evil policy, and cannot be defended on scriptural, doctrinal, moral, or ethical grounds. Any attempts to portray this as protecting children are misguided at best, and dishonest at worst. God loves all his children, black and white, gay and straight, monogamist and polygamist.