The Daily Universe, the student paper at BYU, published a very topical article this week entitled “Racism continues to surface in the Church and at BYU”
A quote from Paul Reeve, a professor of Mormon history at the University of Utah pretty much sums up the article:
The Gospel Topics essay on race and the priesthood says the Church doesn’t stand by these teachings and leaders now condemn all forms of racism both in the present and the past.
“‘We taught that. We practiced, produced, created racism, and it was wrong.’ That’s what the church needs to say,” Reeve said. Until then, he said, members will continue to think racist teachings like dark skin being a curse could be true.
“Until the Church actively teaches anti-racism, we’ll be stuck with our racism,” Reeves said.
“These Teachings” referenced by Reeve are the teaching that were taught by church leaders that a dark skin was a curse, due to being less valiant in the pre-earth life.
The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.First Presidency Statement, August 17, 1949
Do some of our current church leaders still believe this? They did at one time, but have never come out as individuals and said “I was wrong, the church was wrong” We do NOT have a First Presidency statement repudiating the above statement, we have an unsigned essay.
On this topic, a friend of mine said:
It does still seem like a perverse game of historical “telephone” though. (The game where one whispers a saying to the next person, etc., down the line until the end person repeats what they heard, and it’s changed drastically from the start.) Joseph Smith said some things, Brigham Young said Joseph Smith said some things, and then said MORE things, and so later prophets follow this precedent without questioning the sources or later additions.
The way the game of telephone ends is that the person that began the game speaks up, and says “this is the original message”. Then everybody can see what the original message was, and were they went wrong. Since Joseph Smith can’t speak up and correct the church, the Lord, or his prophets need to do it. They need to state, over the pulpit in General Conference, that they got the message wrong, and the current message, non-withstanding the printed Come Follow Me manual, is that the racist teaching of the past, including the justification for withholding the priesthood was wrong.
Do you think that the church will ever get to a point that it can say is was wrong to deny blacks the priesthood and temple ordinances? Can we ever move past the racism taught years ago until the church does ?