Friday, June 19, 2020

"Snake-Bastards"

"Who's on the Lord's Side? Who?"

The moment you were baptized, you demonstrated to heaven and hell, time and eternity, that you were Jesus Christ's, and He was yours.

It is a bold, audacious move which invariably sets in motion a series of events designed to test your resolve, and either reward or condemn, per the actions you take in adhering to your covenant.

Thus, for us latter-day saints, life is essentially a test of one's valiancy in the testimony of Jesus. Those who are NOT "valiant in the testimony of Jesus" receive terrestrial bodies and "obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God." [1] They also:

  • Are not members of the church of the Firstborn.
  • Are not blessed with all things of the Father.
  • Are not priests and kings (and priestesses and queens), who have received of his fulness, and of his glory.
  • Shall not dwell in the presence of God and his Christ forever and ever.
  • Shall not accompany Christ he shall come in the clouds of heaven to reign on the earth over his people.
  • Shall not have part in the first resurrection.
  • Shall not come forth in the resurrection of the just.
  • Will not come unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly place, the holiest of all.
  • Do not have their names written in heaven, where God and Christ are the judge of all.
  • Are not just men made perfect.
  • Do not have celestial bodies.

When we look at these criteria against the backdrop of the forthcoming pre-millennial tribulations and the millennium itself, it's clear that they will not qualify for entrance into Mount Zion/New Jerusalem, because that will be a city where Christ dwells. Neither will they be part of the 144,000, who are emissaries of the Church of the Firstborn. In fact, because they do not have part in the first resurrection, they will not be found anywhere during the dawn of the millennium.

Could there be, among this group, church members who were always taught that because they had been baptized, endowed and sealed in the temple, they had celestial glory in the bag? Undoubtedly so. It is possible to be honorable, yet blinded, by the craftiness of men. [1]

"Members of the Church who have testimonies and who live clean and upright lives, but who are not courageous and valiant, do not gain the celestial kingdom. Theirs is a terrestrial inheritance." [2] To certain members of his ancient church, the Lord said, 

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." [3]

So, what does it mean to be valiant? In the October 1974 General Conference, Elder Bruce R. McConkie summarized many of the characteristics of valiance [2]. Although I will not copy and paste all of them here, there is one paragraph I wish to spotlight: "To be valiant in the testimony of Jesus is to take the Lord's side on every issue. It is to vote as he would vote. It is to think what he thinks, to believe what he believes, to say what he would say and do what he would do in the same situation. It is to have the mind of Christ and be one with him as he is one with his Father."

Beautifully stated!

Yet is there a potential for a deeper level of non-valiancy? Yes. It is possible to claim allegiance to prophets and apostles, not the Lord. Those who do are destined for a weightier punishment: telestial, not terrestrial, glory:

"For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas.

These are they who say they are some of one and some of another-some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch;

But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant." [4]

Put in real-world, modern-day terms, yes, we can check off all the boxes in our temple recommend interviews, magnifying our callings and even attending the temple regularly, yet still be:

  • Uncharitable to the needy.
  • Abusive and/or neglectful to our spouses and children.
  • More focused on the temporary, fleeting things of the world (pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth). [5]
  • Idolatrous. [6]
  • NOT taking the Lord's side on every issue. 
  • NOT vote as he would vote. 
  • NOT think what he thinks, NOT believe what he believes, NOT say what he would say and NOT do what he would do in the same situation. 
  • NOT have the mind of Christ and be one with him as he is one with his Father.

It is particularly challenging to have these characteristics these days. But 2,000+ years ago, under Roman rule, ancient Judea was also a hyper-sensitive, politically-correct, make-no-waves society. Yet look what Jesus, the quintessential "Beautiful Outlaw," did:

  • He expelled the merchants and the money changers from the Temple once [7] and maybe twice [8] -- with a whip of cords -- at a time when Jerusalem was packed with Jews who had come for Passover, perhaps numbering 300,000 to 400,000 pilgrims. [9]
  • He called the Pharisees and Sadducees (the two most powerful and competing factions within Judaism at the time) a "generation of vipers" [10]. In the Greek translation, the phrase is translated as "You snake-bastards." (Now think about that in honor-shame culture. If you get your honor from tying your lineage to Abraham, to be called the illegitimate son of a snake is like a double insult. All in just two words. Impressive!")

Being valiant does not just mean taking the Lord's side on every issue just when everything's hunky dory. It does not mean you vote as he would vote, think what he thinks, believe what he believes, say what he would say and do what he would do when the timing's right.

No. It means just the opposite. Just like Jesus, you stick up, stand up and even shout out what is right even in the most uncomfortable, inhospitable conditions -- quite likely in front of as many people as possible. Just like Jesus, there is not a particle of lukewarmness within you. For if we are to be counted among God's own Firstborn, if we are to receive an inheritance with Jesus and dwell not only with him, but also with others who similarly passionately championed inconvenient truths, then we must do as they did. Anything less than that does not square with scripturally-established criteria.

LEADERS (?)

Is it possible for leaders, prophets and apostles, to get it wrong and display moments of non-valiancy? Absolutely!

  • Adam and Eve rebelled against God's commands in the Garden of Eden. [11]
  • God told Moses to take his staff and gather the people together and speak to a rock and water would pour out of it. But Moses did not obey God. Instead of speaking to the rock, he struck it twice with his staff. Because of this sin, God told him "therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." [12]
  • Peter said that David was a prophet. [13] David committed adultery. [14]
  • "Solomon turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God" [15]
  • When God told Jonah to preach to the Assyrians in Nineveh, he disobeyed by boarding a ship travelling in the opposite direction. [16]
  • When told that the Lord was about to be betrayed, die and raise again, "Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." [17]
  • God rebuked Joseph Smith for (1) often transgressing the commandments and laws of God, (2) yielding to the persuasions of men and (3) fearing man more than God. [18]

So, on the surface, I would say "yes," leaders, prophets and apostles have at times had moments of weakness and non-valiancy. And for that, they were surely rebuked by God.

But what about today? Is the church and its leaders valiant and steadfast in their testimonies of the truth and Jesus? In many cases, the answer could be yes. However, there are two instances where I still have questions.

BE LOYAL TO LEADERS, NOT YOUR CONSCIENCE

On June 1, 2018, the Church held a special worldwide event to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1978 revelation on the priesthood. Known as the Worldwide "'Be One' Priesthood Celebration," the event featured messages from Church leaders and performances by Gladys Knight, Alex Boyé, the Bonner family, the Unity Gospel Choir International and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

During his address at the event, and in speaking about the priesthood restrictions on the blacks prior to the 1978 revelation, Elder Dallin H. Oaks said,

"I observed the pain and frustration experienced by those who suffered these restrictions and those who criticized them and sought for reasons. I studied the reasons then being given and could not feel confirmation of the truth of any of them. As part of my prayerful study, I learned that, in general, the Lord rarely gives reasons for the commandments and directions He gives to His servants. I determined to be loyal to our prophetic leaders and to pray-as promised from the beginning of these restrictions-that the day would come when all would enjoy the blessings of priesthood and temple. Now that day had come, and I wept for joy." [19]

Although Elder Oaks did not explain what "to be loyal to our prophetic leaders" means, he implied that we should accept uncritically the divine origin of whatever they say, including the ban on the priesthood. These remarks underscore the common member belief (which I recently read on another forum) that "It's better to be on the side of your local priesthood leaders than to be right." 

Thus, when given the opportunity to align with the truth or abandon it in favor of the brethren, the brethren should always win -- even when their policies and doctrinal pronouncements are contrary to the truth. 

Additionally, in addressing the brethren's pre-1978 policies and doctrines, Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated that "We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world." [20] Thus, Elder Oaks aligned himself with brethren operating with limited understanding and without further light and knowledge...not the truth.

History is filled with instances where loyal officers did not like the reasons given by leaders at the time, so they just defaulted to "just following orders."

CHERISHING LIFE?

It is heartening to me to see the mass media and politicians so concerned about life these days! People are passionate about the sanctity of life, and livid about those sworn to protect life, but kill it.

Let us see if that overwhelming concern for life is genuine.

In 1996, a fire erupted on the hillside of Reno. Incredibly, it spread to 3,000 acres in less than two hours and then to 6,000. It shut down Interstate 80 and threatened to come into the city and destroy many homes. Firefighters from across the western states rushed to the fire lines and stopped it from coming down into the city.

Today, America is on fire. The raging fires of abortion threaten our civilization and our civility. Since 1973, approximately 60 million abortions have been performed in the United States. 60 million innocent souls whose lives were snuffed out, cut out and sucked out of existence. Here is my proof:

Worldwide

  • Abortions worldwide this year: Almost 20 million [21]

United States

  • Number of reported abortions, 2017: 862,320 [22]
  • U.S. pregnancies (excluding spontaneous miscarriages) ending in abortion, 2017: 18% [22]
  • Pregnancies in New York City (excluding spontaneous miscarriages) ended in abortion, 2016: 34% [22]
  • Legal abortions performed in the United States since 1973, 2017: 60 million+ [22]
  • In 2017, 72% of U.S. abortion clinics performed abortion through 12 weeks' gestation, 25% performed abortion through 20 weeks, and 10% performed abortion through 24 weeks [22]
  • In 2014, 4% of U.S. abortions occurred in hospitals; 1% occurred in physician's offices. The other 95% occurred in freestanding abortion clinics-without any established doctor-patient relationship [22]
  • In 2014, 88,466 abortions in California were paid for with public funds. Public funds paid for 45,722 abortions in New York [22]
  • Percentage of Americans identifying themselves as pro-choice, 2019: 46% [23]
  • Number of abortions per 1,000 women ages 15-44 years in the U.S., 2017: 13.5 [24]
  • Number of reported abortions girls age 14 years or younger in the U.S., 2016: 1,232 [25]

If a child in the womb can be killed because we think she will not have an acceptable quality of life, then there is nothing to prevent us from killing others that society thinks are burdened with a poor quality of life. If a child in the womb can be killed because he may adversely affect a mother's emotional, economic and educational development, there is no argument to prevent society from killing those who are too burdensome to society, or whose beliefs are contrary to the perceived well-being of society.

Life is sacred, and we must seek to protect all human life: the unborn, the child, the adult, and the aged. Several scriptures reinforce the sacredness of life:

  • "therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:" [26]
  • "For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well." [27]
  • "Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward." [28]
  • "Thou shalt not kill." [29]
  • "Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself;" [30]
  • "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." [31]
  • "And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy." [32]
  • "Thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it" [33]
  • "It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." [34]

In terms of the church, since 1864, the term "abortion" has been mentioned in General Conference 89 times. [35] Within weeks after the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, the church issued a statement saying, "Abortion must be considered one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day, when we are witnessing the frightening evidence of permissiveness leading to sexual immorality." [36] 

"In 1974, an official Church representative publicly expressed LDS opposition to the legalization of elective abortion. That baseline position against the legalization of elective abortion has never been repudiated or disavowed." [37]

"In his first sermon after he was sustained as President of the Church, a little more than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, President Spencer W. Kimball explicitly condemned abortion and encouraged members of the Church to be politically active in "their respective political parties and there exercise their influence." [38] He later declared, "There is today a strong clamor to make such practices legal by passing legislation. Some would also legislate to legalize prostitution. They have legalized abortion, seeking to remove from this heinous crime the stigma of sin. We do not hesitate to tell the world that the cure for these evils is not in surrender." [39]

The "Proclamation on the Family" (issued September 23, 1995) declares, "We affirm the sanctity of life" and "we call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society." [40]

Today, the church "opposes elective abortion for personal or social convenience. Members must not submit to, perform, arrange for, pay for, consent to, or encourage an abortion." Although there are some exceptions listed, even they "do not automatically justify abortion." [41]

To combat abortion, church leaders are asking members to take a stand against elective abortion. Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley mentioned the loss of sanctity of life due to millions of legal elective abortions and called for members to stand up and speak up on such social issues. [42] Elder Oaks refuted pro-choice arguments for elective abortion and encouraged students at BYU to speak out against such evils. [43] And Elder James E. Faust  lamented that "we have come to a time when the taking of an unborn human life for nonmedical reasons has become tolerated, made legal, and accepted in many countries of the world. But making it legal to destroy newly conceived life will never make it right. It is consummately wrong." [44]

But what about the church as an institution? After all:

  • If the church is asking its members to fight abortion, we can and should expect the institution and its leaders to do the same.
  • Knowing what we do about "valiance," and knowing how deeply the Lord cherishes life and the preciousness of children, it would be natural to assume that the church and its leaders would be the world's foremost champions of life, including prenatal life. 
  • With a $100+ billion "rainy day" fund, it could do an incalculable amount of good.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true. Here is its official policy:

"The Church has not favored or opposed legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion." [45] I also assume, by personal observation, that the church spends no money to combat abortion in the mass media.

This may be because the church considers abortion to be a "revolting sin" and not one which is relevant to "the shedding of innocent blood.". (I kid you not -- it is not equated as the shedding of innocent blood):

"As to the amenability of the sin of abortion to the laws of repentance and forgiveness, we quote the following statement made by President David O. McKay and his counselors, Stephen L Richards and J. Reuben Clark, Jr., which continues to represent the attitude and position of the Church:

'As the matter stands today, no definite statement has been made by the Lord one way or another regarding the crime of abortion. So far as is known, he has not listed it alongside the crime of the unpardonable sin and shedding of innocent human blood. That he has not done so would suggest that it is not in that class of crime and therefore that it will be amenable to the laws of repentance and forgiveness.'

"This quoted statement, however, should not, in any sense, be construed to minimize the seriousness of this revolting sin." [36]

Meanwhile, in the time it took you to read this post:

  • Number of fetuses aborted worldwide: About 760.
  • Number of church president/brethren statements regarding this more significant loss of life: 0.

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth." [3]

QUESTIONS

Because of the aforementioned facts, I am left with the following questions:

  • What does it mean to take upon yourself Christ's name?
  • Is your passing the temple recommend interview a virtual guarantee of celestial glory?
  • Do you think non-courageous, non-valiant members deserve celestial glory?
  • Was Jesus always happy, or was he sad, upset, even raging mad at times?
  • Has God rebuked or condemned past prophets? Why?
  • Does God inspire us to abandon or neglect truth, light and knowledge? 
  • When faced with the choice between sticking with the truth and following leaders, should we place mortal leaders on a higher pedestal than the truth?
  • What has God said in the past regarding the sanctity of life?
  • What did he say regarding harming children?
  • Are fetuses/unborn babies innocent beings?
  • To the 15 Brethren -- Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, M. Russell Ballard, Jeffrey R. Holland, Henry B. Eyring, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, David A. Bednar, Quentin L. Cook, D. Todd Christofferson, Neil L. Andersen, Ronald A. Rasband, Gary E. Stevenson, Dale G. Renlund, Gerrit W. Gong and Ulisses Soares -- I ask you: 

o As the ones who established and/or are responsible for maintaining the church's policies regarding abortion: How is the Church's stance on avoiding legislative involvement and public demonstrations, as well as its silence in the mass media and other venues, considered a valiant effort in combating abortion?

o The church once encouraged members to fight against abortion. How is the church doing the same? If it is not, then how can this not be considered "Do as I say, not as I do?"

o If you were a very skilled, well-respected firefighter and saw a fire threatening to come into a city and destroy many homes -- would you rush to the fire lines and try to help stop it from coming down into the city? What if this fire were threatening thousands of lives? Or would you stand back and tell others to go fight the fire? 
o Just how many more babies must be aborted until you (and the church as a whole, especially leadership) not only get involved in, but also champion, the abortion issue (please be as precise as possible; rounding of numbers is fine)? 
 
o Hypothetically, could the church's stand on abortion be more outspoken ("hot") or more silent ("cold")? What's that called when you're neither cold nor hot?  
 

CHECK THE COMMENTS BY LATTER-DAY
TRUTHS BELOW FOR UPDATES TO THIS POST

1 D&C 76:75-79
2 Elder Bruce R. McConkie, "Be Valiant in the Fight of Faith," October 1974 General Conference
3 Revelation 3:15-16
4 D&C 76:99-102
5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seven_deadly_sins
6 President Spencer W. Kimball, "The False Gods We Worship," First Presidency Message, Ensign, June 1976, p. 6
7 Matthew 21:12-17, Mark 11:15-19, Luke 19:45-48
8 John 2:13-16; Some scholars believe that these refer to two separate incidents, given that the Gospel of John also includes more than one Passover. See Craig A. Evans, "The Bible Knowledge Background Commentary", 2005, ISBN 0-7814-4228-1, p. 49.
9 E.P. Sanders, "The Historical Figure of Jesus," Penguin, 1993. p. 249; Robert W. Funk, Robert W. and the Jesus Seminar, "The Acts of Jesus: The Search for the Authentic Deeds of Jesus," Harper-San Francisco, 1998.
10 Matthew 3:7, 12:34, 23:33
11 Genesis 3
12 Numbers 20:12
13 Acts 2:30
14 2 Samuel 11:4
15 1 Kings 11:1-13
16 Jonah 1:1-3
17 Matthew 16:22-23, Mark 8:33
18 D&C 3:6-7
19 Elder Dallin H. Oaks, "Remarks at the Worldwide "Be One" Priesthood Celebration," June 1, 2018
20 Elder Bruce R. McConkie, "All Are Alike unto God," BYU Speeches, August 18, 1978
21 https://www.worldometers.info/abortions/
22 https://abort73.com/abortion_facts/us_abortion_statistics/
23 https://www.statista.com/statistics/225975/share-of-americans-who-are-pro-life-or-pro-choice/
24 https://www.statista.com/statistics/660661/abortion-rate-united-states-by-state/
25 https://www.statista.com/statistics/658497/abortion-number-reported-adolescent-women-us-by-age/
26 Deuteronomy 30:19
27 Psalm 139:13-14
28 Psalm 127:3
29 Exodus 20:13
30 Isaiah 44:24
31 Jeremiah 1:5
32 Luke 1:41, 44
33 D&C 59:6
34 Luke 17:2
35 https://scriptures.byu.edu/#:t1805&abortion:st&&1830&2020&gjt&n&30@0$abortion
36 https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1973/03/news-of-the-church/abortion-is-considered-revolting-sin-by-church?lang=eng
37 Lynn D. Wardle, "Teaching Correct Principles: The Experience of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Responding to Widespread Social Acceptance of Elective Abortion," https://byustudies.byu.edu/content/teaching-correct-principles-experience-church-jesus-christ-latter-day-saints-responding
38 Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, "Guidelines to Carry Forth the Work of God in Cleanliness," Ensign, May 1974, p. 7, 9.
39 Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, "The Foundations of Righteousness," Ensign, November 1977, p. 5, 6.
40 The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles, "The Family: A Proclamation to the World," Ensign 25 (November 1995): 102
41 General Handbook of Instructions 38.6.1
42 Standing for Something (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2000), p. xvii-xxv, 167-68, 170-71, 172
43 "Weightier Matters," Ensign, January 2001, p. 12-17
44 "The Sanctity of Life," Ensign, May 1975, p. 27
45 https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/official-statement/abortion


Sunday, June 7, 2020

The Church's Unapologetic Racial Past

The recent resurgence of racial protests, violence and terrorism has brought to the forefront the church's stand on race. On June 1st, Pres. Nelson said on his Facebook account, 
  • "We abhor the reality that some would deny others respect and the most basic of freedoms because of the color of his or her skin."
  • "The Creator of us all calls on each of us to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God’s children. Any of us who has prejudice toward another race needs to repent!"
  • "During the Savior’s earthly mission, He constantly ministered to those who were excluded, marginalized, judged, overlooked, abused, and discounted. As His followers, can we do anything less? The answer is no! We believe in freedom, kindness, and fairness for all of God’s children!" [1]
I really like what Pres. Nelson said, especially the part about Jesus. However, there was a section missing in his statement that I feel needs addressing.

As you well know, the church has not always been such a huge champion for peaceful racial relations.

Prior to June 1978, when the church announced what was later canonized as Official Declaration 2, prophetic statements about African-Americans were actually quite the opposite. In fact, the church has approximately 126 years of racially-biased, authoritative statements condemning blacks both in this life and in the eternities. 

Last year, when Pres. Nelson spoke at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Annual Convention on July 21, 2019, he did not apologize for the church’s previous racial statements, the long-upheld ban on blacks getting the priesthood and eligibility for temple marriage. [2]

If he had, he would have most likely reiterated the church's reasoning as stated in its "Race and the Priesthood" Gospel Topic essay. [3] There are two portions I wish to highlight:
  1. "Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions" [3]
  2. "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." [3]
This is deceptive. 

The church's disavowal of "theories" rings hollow because leaders never advanced any "theories"; they were immovable, inviolate, unquestionable, confident, definite, definitive doctrinal statements with such a high degree of certainty, that even God's name was sometimes invoked as having endorsed the doctrine. It has essentially disavowed nothing.

The Gospel Topic essay continued by saying, "None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church." [3]

While that may be true, church leaders have yet to repudiate the definite doctrinal statements by past leaders. That may be because, as Pres. Oaks stated in a January, 2015 interview, the church doesn't "seek apologies, and we don't give them." [4]

So what we essentially have here are a ton of authoritative statements given by LDS presidents that have been allowed to let stand without refutation nor disputation by current church leaders. This leaves the church in a "Catch-22" -- if the church apologizes for past racially-charged statements, then that would (1) contradict Pres. Oaks "no apologies" statement and (2) sets the precedent for the church to have to apologize to other groups, like women, gays and sexual molestation victims.

I have to give Pres. Nelson credit. At the 2019 NAACP event, he struck an optimistic tone: "I pray that we may increasingly call each other dear friends. May we go forward doing our best to exemplify the two great commandments—to love God and love each of His children. Arm in arm and shoulder to shoulder, may we strive to lift our brothers and sisters everywhere, in every way we can. This world will never be the same." [2]

Yet at the same time, the lie (an official church document stating past leaders' statements about blacks were "theories") continues. And the non-apology still stands.

The effects of this double-standard are readily apparent:
  • In the October 2006 General Conference, Pres. Hinckley stated, "Now I am told that racial slurs and denigrating remarks are sometimes heard among us. I remind you that no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Christ. How can any man holding the Melchizedek Priesthood arrogantly assume that he is eligible for the priesthood whereas another who lives a righteous life but whose skin is of a different color is ineligible?" [5]
  • A June 9, 2019 Salt Lake Tribune article detailed the experiences of two African-American LDS women. "Tamu Smith was called the N-word in the Salt Lake LDS Temple a week after her wedding day more than 20 years ago. The same slur was aimed at Zandra Vranes in April (2019) on her Facebook page by a temple-going Mormon. In both cases, the women were advised to forgive the offense, take the high road and focus on the positive." [6]
Let's return to those "theories". Below are a few of them. I have bolded those portions which declare their degree of definitiveness. You tell me if they are indeed "theories," or something more. And if they are, if they are deserving of an apology:

OFFICIAL CHURCH STATEMENTS REGARDING BLACKS & THE PRIESTHOOD


“I have this section in my hand, headed “An Act in Relation to African Slavery.” I have read it over and made a few alterations. I will remark with regard to slavery, inasmuch as we believe in the Bible, inasmuch as we believe in the ordinances of God, in the Priesthood and order and decrees of God, we must believe in slavery. This colored race have been subjected to severe curses, which they have in their families and their classes and in their various capacities brought upon themselves. And until the curse is removed by Him who placed it upon them, they must suffer under its consequences; I am not authorized to remove it. I am a firm believer in slavery.”  [7]

"If there never was a prophet, or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before, I tell you, this people that are commonly called negroes are the children of old Cain. I know they are, I know that they cannot bear rule in the priesthood, for the curse on them was to remain upon them, until the residue of the posterity of Michael and his wife receive the blessings, the seed of Cain would have received had they not been cursed; and hold the keys of the priesthood, until the [Millennium] shall come, and the curse be wiped off from the earth, and from Michael’s seed"  [8]

“A man who has the African blood in him cannot hold one jot nor tittle of the priesthood. Why? Because they are the true eternal principles the Lord Almighty had ordained" (ibid)

“You see some classes of the human family that are 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… That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof.” [9]

"After the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Ham’s wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God." [10]

“our elders should not take the initiative in proselyting among the negro people.” [11]

“From the days of the Prophet Joseph even until now, it has been the doctrine of the Church, never questioned by any of the Church leaders, that the Negroes are not entitled to the full blessings of the Gospel.” [12]

“The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. Brigham Young said: "Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to." [13]

“those who were not faithful [in the pre-mortal life] received less.” [14]

“If that negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get celestial glory.” [15]

“I emphasize Justice as an attribute of Deity, because it is the Lord who, though He “made of one blood all nations,” also “determined the bounds of their habitation.” In other words, the seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man, but goes back into the Beginning with God.” [16]

“The Church has no intention of changing its doctrine on the Negro. Throughout the history of the original Christian church, the Negro never held the priesthood. There's really nothing we can do to change this. It's a law of God.” [17]

"HAM: Through Ham (a name meaning black) 'the blood of the Canaanites was preserved' through the flood, he having married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain. ... Ham was cursed, apparently for marrying into the forbidden lineage, and the effects of the curse passed to his son, Canaan. ... Ham's descendants include the Negroes, who originally were barred from holding the priesthood but have been able to do so since June 1978." [18]

OFFICIAL CHURCH STATEMENTS REGARDING INTERRACIAL MARRIAGE


"In the preisthood I will tell you what it will do. Where the children of God to mingle there seed with the seed of Cain it would not only bring the curse of being deprived of the power of the preisthood upon themselves but they entail it upon their children after them, and they cannot get rid of it. If a man in an ungaurded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, and kill man woman and child it would do a great deal towards atoneing for the sin. Would this be to curse them? no it would be a blessing to them. -- it would do them good that they might be saved with their Bren. A man would shuder should they here us take about killing folk, but it is one of the greatest blessings to some to kill them, allthough the true principles of it are not understood." [8]

"Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so." [19]

“And after the flood we are told that the curse that had been pronounced upon Cain was continued through Hams wife, as he had married a wife of that seed. And why did it pass through the flood? Because it was necessary that the devil should have a representation upon the earth as well as God" [10]

"No special effort has ever been made to proselyte among the Negro race, and social intercourse between the Whites and the Negroes should certainly not be encouraged because of leading to intermarriage, which the Lord has forbidden." [20]

“Furthermore, your ideas, as we understand them, appear to contemplate the intermarriage of the Negro and White races, a concept which has heretofore been most repugnant to most normal-minded people from the ancient patriarchs till now. God’s rule for Israel, His Chosen People, has been endogamous” [21]

“We are not unmindful of the fact that there is a growing tendency, particularly among some educators, as it manifests itself in this area, toward the breaking down of race barriers in the matter of intermarriage between whites and blacks, but it does not have the sanction of the Church and is contrary to Church doctrine.” [21]

Cain was the father “of an inferior race” [22]

"If I were to marry a Negro woman and have children by her, my children would all be cursed as to the priesthood. Do I want my children cursed as to the priesthood? If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse. There isn't any argument, therefore, as to inter-marriage with the Negro, is there? There are 50 million Negroes in the United States. If they were to achieve complete absorption with the white race, think what that would do. With 50 million negroes inter-married with us, where would the priesthood be? who could hold it, in all America? Think what that would do to the work of the Church!" [23]

“We recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational background (some of those are not an absolute necessity, but preferred), and above all, the same religious background, without question” [24]

"We’ve always counseled in the Church for our Mexican members to marry Mexicans, our Japanese members to marry Japanese, our Caucasians to marry Caucasians, our Polynesian members to marry Polynesians. The counsel has been wise. You may say again, “Well, I know of exceptions.” I do, too, and they’ve been very successful marriages. I know some of them. You might even say, “I can show you local Church leaders or perhaps even general leaders who have married out of their race.” I say, “Yes—exceptions.” Then I would remind you of that Relief Society woman’s near-scriptural statement, “We’d like to follow the rule first, and then we’ll take care of the exceptions.” [25]

“The probabilities of a successful marriage are known to be much greater if both the husband and wife are united in their religion, language, culture, and ethnic background. Thus, in choosing your eternal companion, please be wise. It’s better not to fly in the face of constant head winds. Occasional squalls provide challenge enough.” [26]

(For a really detailed overview of the church and race relations, please consult "Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview" (Dialogue, Spring, 1973) [27]

QUESTIONS

Based on the aforementioned facts, I have the following questions:
  • You've read official past church leaders' statements regarding priesthood and temple restrictions upon the blacks. You've read the highlighted portions which spotlight the depth of the statement. Do these appear to be "theories" (syn: suppositions, speculations, presumptions, guesses, suspicions) to you?
  • Do any of the above remarks seem disparaging towards blacks?
  • If so, how do you reconcile that with Pres. Hinckley's observation that "no man who makes disparaging remarks concerning those of another race can consider himself a true disciple of Christ. Nor can he consider himself to be in harmony with the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ"? [26]
  • As Christians, we're expected to apologize when we have unjustly wronged another. Shouldn't the church do the same?
  • Why is it just so darn hard to officially say these past leaders' statements were not "theories", but were instead uninspired doctrinal statements?
  • Is it fear that prevents leaders from admitting past mistakes? If so, is it fear of man or God? 
  • An August 18, 2012 New York Times opinion stated, “Still, acknowledging serious errors on the part of past prophets inevitably raises questions about the revelatory authority of contemporary leaders. Such concerns, however, are not insurmountable for religious movements. One can look to the Bible for countless examples of patriarchs and prophets who acknowledged grave errors and moral lapses but still retained the respect of their people.” [28] Wouldn't such transparency and honesty actually add to, not diminish, the good name of the church?
  • Besides donating money and working on projects with the NAACP, and Pres. Nelson talking about non-discrimination, what is the church doing at local levels, to combat racism (where vulgar discrimination is still an acknowledged issue)?
  • Are we taught that our leaders are "revelators," receiving revelation from Heavenly Father? If so, then why do some LDS apologetics say that "Prophets in all dispensations have been "men of their times," who were raised with certain beliefs and interacted all their lives with others who shared those beliefs"? [29] Aren't prophets (aka "the mouthpieces of the Lord") supposed to reveal truths which transcend mortal man's knowledge and thinking -- especially in terms of something this significant (the salvation and eternal life of African-Americans)?
  • In speaking of past LDS leaders' statements which are incongruent with doctrine, Elder Neal L. Anderson quoted Ether 12:6 and said, "The leaders of the Church are honest but imperfect men." [30] Of course they are. But is it proper to use that explanation when dealing with something as significant as the salvation and eternal life of African-Americans? 
We ask our bishops and stake presidents to "protect the purity, integrity, and good name of the church" [31] by keeping a watchful eye in their areas for members' statements which are incongruous with doctrine. In fact, members who do so are prevented from teaching or speaking in church meetings. Who's responsibility is it to ensure the 15 brethren are not saying anything incongruous with doctrine?

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1    https://www.thechurchnews.com/leaders-and-ministry/2020-06-01/president-nelson-addresses-race-in-social-media-post-185657
2    https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/president-nelson-naacp-convention-remarks
3    https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics-essays/race-and-the-priesthood?lang=eng
4    https://archive.sltrib.com/article.php?id=2108746&itype=CMSID
5    http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/04/the-need-for-greater-kindness
6    https://www.sltrib.com/news/2017/06/09/39-years-later-priesthood-ban-is-history-but-racism-within-mormon-ranks-isnt-black-members-say/
7    Gov. Brigham Young, speech before the Joint Session of the Legislature, January 23, 1852
8    Gov. Brigham Young, speech before a joint session of the territorial legislature, February 5, 1852; Ms d 1234, Box 48, folder 3, dated Feb. 5, 1852, located in the LDS Church Historical Department, Salt Lake City, Utah
9    Pres. Brigham Young, October 9, 1859, JD 7:290-291
10  Pres. John Taylor, August 28, 1881, JD 22:304
11  Minutes, the Council of the Twelve and of The First Presidency, August 26, 1908, in Adam S. Bennion papers, Brigham Young University
12  Pres. George Albert Smith, First Presidency letter to Lowry Nelson, July 17, 1947, archive.org
13  Pres. George Albert Smith, First Presidency statement, August 17, 1949
14  Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith, "Doctrines of Salvation", 1:61
15  Elder Mark E. Peterson, 1954 address to BYU students
16  Pres. David O. McKay, in Llewelyn R. McKay, "Home Memories of President David O. McKay", 1956, p. 231
17  Pres. N. Eldon Tanner, December 1967
18  Elder Bruce R. McConkie, "Mormon Doctrine," p. 343; sold in LDS-owned Deseret Bookstores until 2010
19  Pres. Brigham Young, Deseret News, March 1863; JD 10:110
20  First Presidency letter to Virgil H. Sponberg, May 5, 1947, in Adam S. Bennion papers, Brigham Young University
21  First Presidency letter to Lowry Nelson, July 17, 1947, archive.org
22  Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith, "The Way to Perfection", p. 101
23  Elder Mark E. Peterson, "Race Problems--As They Affect The Church", 1954
24  Pres. Spencer W. Kimball, “Marriage and Divorce,” in 1976 Devotional Speeches of the Year [Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1977], p. 144; as quoted in Aaronic Priesthood Manual, 1995, Lesson 31, p. 128
25  Elder Boyd K Packer, “Follow the Rule,” BYU Devotional, January 14, 1977
26  Elder Russell M Nelson, “A More Excellent Hope”, BYU Devotional, January 8, 1995
27  https://www.dialoguejournal.com/2012/04/mormonisms-negro-doctrine-an-historical-overview/
28  https://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/19/opinion/sunday/racism-and-the-mormon-church.html
29  https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Question:_Was_Brigham_Young_a_racist%3F
30  https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/10/trial-of-your-faith?lang=eng
31  https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/church-disciplinary-councils?lang=eng