Official versus unofficial exclusion

June 23, 2006 | 111 comments
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Here’s a quick thought exercise:

1. How many female Melchizedek Priesthood holders are currently in your ward?
2. How many Black Melchizedek Priesthood holders are currently in your ward?

Let’s follow it up with just a few related queries:

3. How many female Melchizedek Priesthood holders have you spoken with in the past year?
4. How many Black Melchizedek Priesthood holders have you spoken with in the past year?

5. How many prominent female Melchizedek Priesthood holders can you name?
6. How many prominent Black Melchizedek Priesthood holders can you name?

7. How many female Melchizedek Priesthood holders spoke in the last General Conference?
8. How many Black Melchizedek Priesthood holders spoke in the last General Conference?

If necessary, use additional sheets of paper to complete your lists.

111 Responses to Official versus unofficial exclusion

  1. MikeInWeHo on June 23, 2006 at 1:32 pm

    Female Melchizedek Priesthood holders:

    Linda Booth
    Stassi Cramm
    Mary Jacks Dynes
    Susan Skoor

    Black Melchizedek Priesthood holder (and Q12 member):
    Bunda Chibwe

    Documentation: http://cofchrist.org/council-12/

  2. Nat Whilk on June 23, 2006 at 1:33 pm

    Is the word “Black” no longer politically incorrect?

  3. DKL on June 23, 2006 at 1:36 pm

    1. 0
    2. 3
    3. 0
    4. 15+
    5. 0
    6. 2
    7. 0
    8. I listen to General Conference over the Internet, so I don’t have enough info to answer this one.

    You make a very good point about the need for an affirmative action priesthood ordination policy and stake quotes for ordination.

  4. Randy B. on June 23, 2006 at 1:48 pm

    I recently heard a story about a man (I forget his name) who played a large role in organizing the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. He also happens to be Mormon. At some point, he attended a large dinner with several important local leaders, including Andrew Young, the former mayor of Atlanta. During the dinner conversation, Young asked, point blank and in front of several dignitaries, whether this man’s (sorry to blank on his name) church still discriminates against blacks. He responded by asking Young if he had attended church the past Sunday and, if so, were they any whites there? Young responded that he had been to church, and no, there were no whites in attendance. He then went around the table, and asked the same question of everyone else. The result was the same in every case — of those who had been to church the past Sunday, not a single person of another race had been in attendance. This Mormon man then noted how he had also been to church, and that on that particular day, there were black members giving talks, saying prayers, teaching lessons, and blessing and passing the sacrament.

    I suspect most of us would agree that our church, at least in some respects, still has a ways to go when it comes to race relations. (If you have any doubt, read President Hinckley’s talk in priesthood session last conference.) But we are not alone in that regard.

  5. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 23, 2006 at 2:01 pm

    I thought (or had hoped) we were trying to move past this concept of women not holding the priesthood as being “unfair” or “exclusionary.” Sigh.

  6. Rusty on June 23, 2006 at 2:02 pm

    Okay, we get it, women don’t hold the priesthood, there aren’t a lot of Blacks in the Church. Keep saying it though (over and over and over again), I think it’s helping.

  7. Adam Greenwood on June 23, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    Ditto, Rusty.

  8. Nate J on June 23, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    There is actually a black high councilman in the Provo Utah East Stake.

  9. DKL on June 23, 2006 at 2:15 pm

    Question #9: How many black apostles did Jesus have?

  10. anon on June 23, 2006 at 2:19 pm

    Why not ask about Mexicans? Dominicans? Puerto Ricans? Polynesians? Japanese? Koreans? Filipinos?

  11. elizabeth on June 23, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    In all honesty guys it is so easy for you to react this way because I bett you are
    not
    1 a female
    2 are not black.

    Ofcourse in some area’s in the church ( like the african continent) there will be more black people then white people.

    Still it is weird that like for instances there is no other race hardly in the quorum of twelve apostels.
    Yeah go ahead and name the one’s who are there or who have been there.
    the chruch leardership is predominant white .

    To say that we are not the only church that have that problem is hiding like a child behind his mothers skirt.

    The issue about women is not so much if they have they have the priesthood or not the issue IMO is that women are not treated rightly and are not granted on international level all that they are doing.
    I as a female member of the lds church am encouraged to devallop my talents but will be told if I want to use these talents to help the churchmembers that I don’t have the priesthood so therefore no right of speaking.

    Why is that the church teaches us that we should not be alone with another man in a room without a chaperone, and then years ago when I was in a church court I was sitting there without a chaperone with 5 brothers talking about my sexlive!!!!!

    It is so simple to give the RS president on local and stake level the same rights to be at a churchcourt or hearing so that female members would feel protected.

    It all goes beyond the good old boys saying oh here we go those femenist want the priesthood.
    On local level it would be so welcome if the RS presidents gett the same rights , so the sisters can really feel that somebody is also talking for them and protecting them.

    Elizabeth ( your favorite Dutchie)

  12. Duane on June 23, 2006 at 2:30 pm

    Kaimi,

    I’m genuinely interested as to what motivated you to conduct your thought exercise. I have two or three theories of my own, but they are just my idle speculation. Can you elaborate on your post?

  13. Adam Greenwood on June 23, 2006 at 2:32 pm

    As far as I can tell, none of Jesus’ 12 were blacks, women, Mexicans, Dominicans, Pacific Islanders, transgender activists, differently abled, Samaritans, Gentiles, or Aleuts. Shocking exclusion. At least none were Northern Europeans either, so that’s all right.

  14. Kimball L. Hunt on June 23, 2006 at 2:35 pm

    I think I met that guy once. I forget his name though. (My mission was to Georgia 1977 through 79.) What a story, though! And how true!

    And just as noone asks Baptist presidential canditates about such lingering, defacto segregation in their denominations, nobody really asks Dublyuh eyew about many of his coreligionists who are Creationists et cetera nor senator Lieberman about Orthodox Jewry’s believing in reincarnation or the clay figure brought to life in the middle ages as the Golem; yet Judy Woodruf asked Mitt about his faith’s doctrines about — well, essentially concerning the imminent return of the Messiah to a temple He’s commanded to have been built in Missouri. Grimaces, then shakes the expression on my face back to normal. Oh well. What can ya do.

  15. Sheldon on June 23, 2006 at 2:40 pm

    Response #7, echoing response #6, is WAY too ironic not to be hilarious.

    “Keep saying it though (over and over and over again), I think it’s helping.” Hmm can anyone think of any other repetitive statements on T&S… hmm… :)

  16. Aaron Brown on June 23, 2006 at 2:42 pm

    Actually, all of Jesus’ 12 were oppressed minorities, Adam, but that fact was excised from the Scriptures thanks to the evil designs of men. You know, those wicked priests and scribes who took a hatchet to the New Testament. And Opus Dei too. If you stand on your head in the Louvre across from the Mona Lisa and say the Lord’s Prayer backwards, it will all become clear to you. I promise.

    Aaron B

  17. DKL on June 23, 2006 at 2:46 pm

    In the movie “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Judas is black.

  18. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 23, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    For the record, Elizabeth, I am female.

    Still it is weird that like for instances there is no other race hardly in the quorum of twelve apostels. Yeah go ahead and name the one’s who are there or who have been there.
    the chruch leardership is predominant white

    I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that part of the reason may be because the local membership (in Africa, etc.) needs their leadership. And, if we will notice, we have more races being represented in the Quorums of Seventy.

    Besides, the Lord is the one who ultimately calls these leaders, so if someone has issues with this, they should take it up with the Lord. It’s not some arbitrary decision to be ‘an exclusionary church.’

    I think it’s also important to note that that we have a member of the Quorum of the Twelve who is not American. It’s not like we call an Apostle every six months. Twelve people is not likely to be a representative sample. Again, look at the Quorums of Seventy and Area Presidencies. That’s a little better at least.

    Finally, until fairly recently, the Church was more heavily represented in the U.S. So, it would make sense that the majority of leaders came from there. Now, as we become more an international church, I am confident that we will continue to see more international representation in our leadership. That may take some time. And, again, that already is very true with the Area Presidencies.

    I wonder if the blacks are as concerned about having more white Priesthood members in their wards, or the Philipinos in their ward, or the Mexicans in their wards, etc.

    For the record, I live in a Mormon Valley Utah ward, and there are three families with black members. We also have someone from S. America (and a family who just moved out, and have had people from Europe as well.

    I, like Duane, would like to understand the reasons behind this post. It seems pointless to me.

  19. DKL on June 23, 2006 at 2:50 pm

    anon: Why not ask about Mexicans? Dominicans? Puerto Ricans? Polynesians? Japanese? Koreans? Filipinos?

    Because they don’t have politically powerful lobbying groups. I know it sounds cynical, but I honestly believe that this is what “civil rights” boils down to these days. That’s why it’s especially hard for me to take seriously the claims of aggrieved “minorities”–it strikes me as little more than veiled opportunism.

  20. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 23, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    Sorry, I shouldn’t have made that last comment (sentence). I’m feeling grumpy today. Sorry.

  21. Adam Greenwood on June 23, 2006 at 2:53 pm

    I think its a real shame that more aborted children don’t have the priesthood or occupy prominent leadership roles. Same with murder victims. It feels like we’re just adding more pain to people who are already hurt.

  22. Aaron Brown on June 23, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    Isn’t the point of drawing attention to the underrepresentation of certain groups in an institution to show that, notwithstanding any obvious, overt exclusionary factors, there must be some sinister, institutional cause that keeps certain folks out nonetheless? If so, it seems unnecessary to engage in this sort of thing with respect to the LDS Church. The causal factors are too obvious.

    Why haven’t I met, conversed with, or attended Church with any female Melchizedek priesthood holders? Because they don’t exist. Period. One can bemoan that fact (or not), but I’m not seeing how bringing up their non-existence gives us any meaningful insights. If you want to advocate that Woman should have the Priesthood, just say so. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    The reasons for the paucity of Blacks in the Church isn’t too hard to figure out either:

    1. Historically, Mormon leaders promoted the notion that Blacks were second-class members, unworthy to receive the Priesthood, thanks either to their own pre-existent sins, or the sins of some third-party that was allegedly their relative (spirit of the 2nd Article of Faith, notwithstanding).

    2. Currently, Mormon leaders don’t promote this notion, but they also refuse to formally repudiate it, so some current Churchmembers still believe in (and sometimes even vocalize) the old understandings.

    3. Many Churchmembers who don’t actively believe or promote the old understandings were raised by those who did, or picked up on the prejudices of those views in subtle or not-so-subtle ways.

    All of these things presumably serve as huge stumbling blocks to Black investigators and members. I can’t blame them. There’s probably a lot we should all be doing, as white members, to remedy this unfortunate situation.

    But I fail to see how just saying “Gee, there aren’t many Blacks in the Mormon Church these days” is helpful.

    Aaron B

  23. Aaron Brown on June 23, 2006 at 2:57 pm

    … should have said “notwithstanding THE LACK OF any obvious, overt exclusionary factors …”

  24. Ronan on June 23, 2006 at 2:59 pm

    Again, look at the Quorums of Seventy and Area Presidencies.

    Er, probably not a great place to find racial/ethnic/national diversity, if that’s your point m&m.

  25. DKL on June 23, 2006 at 3:00 pm

    Adam, your comment reminds me of the skit on Kentucky Fried Movie on discrimination against dead people.

    But you’re right. When was the last time we had a dead bishop presiding over a ward or teaching gospel doctrine class? How many dead general authorities spoke at the last General Conference? When President Hinckley talked about treating people different from us with respect, did he even mention dead people?

    In spite of the fact that our church does more for dead people than any other church, we still have a long way to go.

  26. Mark Butler on June 23, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    If all the men in the Church said, okay fine you women run the Church from now on, the Church likely would be unrecognizable within a century, likely not only unrecognizably Mormon, but unrecognizably Christian – at least not without excising the Old Testament and half of the new.

    The first likely consequence would be that a very large percentage of men would go inactive because their raison d’etre had been completely eliminated. Instead we would probably get something vaguely like a welfare ghetto culture where the mothers have all the power and the fathers are marginalized.

    The reason for this of course is there is an incredible amount of natural authority and influence that comes with being a mother that does not come with being a father – the authority of fathers is a largely an artificial, culturally maintained institution. Take away the priesthood and fatherhood dissapates as well. Equalize the priesthood, and an effective matriarchy much more dominant than the nominal patriarchy we now have emerges.

  27. heironymus potter on June 23, 2006 at 3:09 pm

    Look, I’m new to these blogs. Is the insinuation that there is a conspiracy? Clue me in.

  28. Adam Greenwood on June 23, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    “But you’re right. When was the last time we had a dead bishop presiding over a ward or teaching gospel doctrine class? How many dead general authorities spoke at the last General Conference? When President Hinckley talked about treating people different from us with respect, did he even mention dead people?

    In spite of the fact that our church does more for dead people than any other church, we still have a long way to go.”

    I just feel like if I make a personal choice to be dead, that choice won’t be respected.

  29. Rusty on June 23, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    heironymus potter,
    No, Kaimi just heard the breaking news that women don’t hold the priesthood and there aren’t very many Blacks in our church. This is his incredibly unique and insightful look at the issue (an issue that is NEVER blogged about here on Times & Seasons).

  30. Adam Greenwood on June 23, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    How many female Melchizedek Priesthood Holders are members of Kaimi’s household?
    How many black Melchizedek Priesthood Holders are members of Kaimi’s household?

    How many female Melchizedek Priesthood Holders work at the place Kaimi chose to work?
    How many black Melchizedek Priesthood Holders work at the place Kaimi chose to work?

    How many female Melchizedek Priesthood Holders blog with Kaimi?
    How many black Melchizedek Priesthood Holders blog with Kaimi?

    How many female Melchizedek Priesthood Holders has Kaimi ever seen dance with the angels on the head of a needle? And so on.

    I’m starting to see a disturbing pattern here, folks. Kaimi’s list isn’t a cri-de-coeur. It’s a brag.

  31. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 23, 2006 at 3:20 pm

    In spite of the fact that our church does more for dead people than any other church, we still have a long way to go.
    I just feel like if I make a personal choice to be dead, that choice won’t be respected.

    Oh, how I NEEDED that laugh! Thanks, guys!

  32. doug on June 23, 2006 at 3:32 pm

    Re: 8, there is a black highcouncilman in the Provo South Stake as well. Wonderful, brilliant man.

  33. Costanza on June 23, 2006 at 3:36 pm

    What about the hermaphrodites? How can you exlude them? What is this world coming to?!!! Seriously though, this post is a bit of a yawner. Like others who posted above, I am unsure of just what this thought experiment is supposed to yield.

  34. heironymus potter on June 23, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    I went to recent a popular computer programmers conference. There weren’t many females. There weren’t many African Americans either. Can someone on these blogs extrapolate a conspiracy from those two statements of fact? What does it mean? Curiously, many of the women who were there, were Asian, or Indian. What could that mean?

  35. Doc on June 23, 2006 at 3:45 pm

    Kaimi,
    I served in the Ohio Cleveland mission. Like most US missions it had difficulty establishing a presence in any of the inner cities. Those inner cities had remarkably disproportionalte African-american populations. The really sad part is that these areas were often pretty fruitful but these converts quickly fell into inactivity.
    In a Cleveland suburb there was a very active, very charismatic African-American priesthood member who was asked to be the branch president for a cleveland inner city branch. He staunchly refused because he felt this call was coming simply because of the color of his skin. Apparently, he did not feel he was branch president material. This is a very complex issue. He felt strongly that if we really want a bigger minority presence in the church we have to change as a people, not make external changes. At the same time, as a missionary we spent so much time meeting with some really beautiful recent converty who never ever showed up for church. It truly saddened me because these were some of the most wonderful people I have ever known in the church. Since that time I have learned an astounding amount about the history of Blacks and the Priesthood (hat tip: John Dehlin, mormonstories.org) and I find the history tragic.

    All that said, I do not see how it is you feel this post is going to accomplish anything. Does it reach out to African americans, does it reach out to women? Does it make anyone really want to work to solve any problem? Is it motivating? Will structural change, quotas, etc. really change us? I don’t think so.

  36. BBELL on June 23, 2006 at 3:52 pm

    I wanted to point out that I have attended many different congregations in the US and have found that the LDS average ward in my experience tends to reflect to one degree or another the racial make-up of the ward boundaries.

    Also Sunday is the most heavily segregated days in the US. Historically the following Denominations have been historically about as White as we are in the US. Often they would have a distinct denomination for Blacks

    1. Anglicans
    2. Congregationalists
    3. Methodists
    4. Judaism (obviously)
    5. Lutherans Think Germans or Nordic people
    6. Presby….
    7. Southern Baptists. Its interesting to note that here in Dallas the Southern Baptist leadership was pro segregation from the pulpit.

    Also African Americans have their own Christian denominations tied into the history of slavery and segregation. This fact is probably one of the greatest stumbling blocks preventing Black conversion and retention.

    I knew a devout well educated well traveled Xhosa Sister on my mission in South Africa who had a picture of herself in Wash DC hugging President Hinckley on one of her trips to the US. She asked him how come so few black members? He mentioned 1978 was a part but that he believed that the Black church in America had the spiritual heart of the US black population tied up. He also told her that starting in the 1980’s that the LDS church had invested heavily in buildings and with missionary efforts with Black Americans and that eventually it would pay off.

  37. manaen on June 23, 2006 at 4:02 pm

    4.
    A few months ago, I was standing in the doorway of the SW Los Angeles (Watts) branch with Pres. Allen (Black) and Bro. Garcia, one of his counselors. As we looked across the street at the hispanic Pentecostal church and diagonally across the intersection at the Black Baptist church, I asked them, “How did *we* become the diverse group?”
    .
    I believe the Church has had remarkable progress making-up for lost time with Black americans in such areas as:
    .
    * NYC
    .
    * Detroit
    .
    * North Carolina –> SLC
    .
    * Washington, DC
    .
    * Philly (inactive link)
    .
    * and known musicians besides Gladys Knight

  38. DKL on June 23, 2006 at 4:04 pm

    Adam Greenwood: I just feel like if I make a personal choice to be dead, that choice won’t be respected.

    LOL. That’s even funnier for the fact that the assisted-suicide crowd takes that to be something of a legitimate point.

  39. Katie on June 23, 2006 at 4:19 pm

    Re: comment #2

    I just graduated with my masters and I am going to be teaching history courses at a CC in the fall. Before I graduated a fellow student of mine, who is black, posed the question to me on what I was going to call African-Americans when I taught. I asked him what he and others in the black community prefered…”African-American?” He said no, that was kind of falling out of favor and “black” is what he and others prefered. So long story short, yes, I don’t think black is politically incorrect anymore.

  40. plutarch on June 23, 2006 at 4:32 pm

    From the title of this initial comment, I’m supposing that the point is that there isn’t much operative difference between doctrinal and de facto exclusion from certain forms of discrimination. I don’t expect to see much change in this in my lifetime, or yours either (for the majority of you who are probably younger than I am). The church is about two generations behind in adopting fashions with respect to clothing, facial hair or ideas. And it’s actually right about many things, sometimes pursuant to inspiration from God, although that inspiration may come in pieces over time and not all at once. We have to deal well day by day with what we have.

    On the other hand, we (like the Victorians and the generations of the 1920s and 1950s and probably everybody else) have certain social ideas which seem perfectly obvious to us and which future generations will find absolutely unfathomable, if not infuriating or smug. One of those may be our fascination with group politics, ethnic- and gender-based.

    If the point is that not much has changed, there are some signs (even outside Africa) that things are changing. They just won’t be completely different tomorrow. But look at the black stake president in New Jersey whom the church appears to be grooming for higher things. And shortly before my wife went into the hospital for life-threatening surgery not long ago, I asked a friend to come and help give her a blessing. He\’s a temple sealer and a former branch president and high councilor, and he’s black. I was glad to have him there with something that calls for a high level of trust and confidence, pretty much without regard for color.

    From conversations with him, I know that he was involved with the Black Panthers in the 1960s. He’s never entirely comfortable in Utah, where he finds prejudice and discrimination everywhere he looks–in large part, it seems to me, because he’s conditioned to find it, not that some doesn’t exist. Although he pretty thoroughly believes in the gospel and the good things of the church, I don’t know that he’ll ever feel completely at home in it. And he worries for his biracial children, who seem also to be staying away from Utah.

    Do I wish he was happier? Sure, but I don’t think he will be entirely happy with the social manners of the church in this life. I am myself a lifelong member, and I’m not entirely happy with the church as an organization, to the extent I understand it. It seems excessively Utah-ish, with few mechanisms for feedback from other places. And the next generation will likely have something else that they’re unhappy with, at least those who are not part of the hierarchy.

    Most of us don’t have perfect situations within the church. My current bishop’s something of a bozo, but the calling’s probably good for him, if not for the rest of the ward. But Pres. Hinckley’s advice to me, my bishop, my friend the temple sealer and women in the church would probably be to “do the best you can” with what you have.

  41. slm on June 23, 2006 at 4:34 pm

    Just a guess, but…

    I don’t think Kaimi is bemoaning the lack of women priesthood-holders. I think he used that for comparison, knowing that the answer in each case would be zero (0). Then, in trying to recall which black priesthood-holders you know, you would be struck by the fact that it is so close to that of the women’s number: zero (0).

    Perhaps his point is that the church is not doing enough to tap into the black population, evidenced by the fact that while black men are permitted to hold the priesthood, their numbers nonetheless approximate those of the women… at least in many instances (maybe too many instances in Kaimi’s opinion). Blacks make up 13% of the population in the U.S. Maybe Kaimi thinks a similar percentage of black priesthood-holders whould be present in the church.

    Again… just a guess.

  42. Duane on June 23, 2006 at 4:48 pm

    There is really no point is guessing–Kiami can tell us what the point of his post is, although based on the responses his post has generated so far, he is playing to a tough crowd. Some of those posting in the comments have, in the past, taken exception to others reading too much into their commentary on race and gender–yet they have treated Kiami much the same.

  43. elizabeth on June 23, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    For the record, Elizabeth, I am female.

    Elizabeth sais:
    thanks for letting me know.

  44. slm on June 23, 2006 at 4:56 pm

    #42 — Kaimi created this thread and then left! Isn’t that what we do when the all-knowing authority is absent? We guess and interpret? I think Kaimi is watching us… shhhh.

  45. elizabeth on June 23, 2006 at 4:56 pm

    Elizabeth said:
    as a female member of the lds church am encouraged to devallop my talents but will be told if I want to use these talents to help the churchmembers that I don’t have the priesthood so therefore no right of speaking.

    Why is that the church teaches us that we should not be alone with another man in a room without a chaperone, and then years ago when I was in a church court I was sitting there without a chaperone with 5 brothers talking about my sexlive!!!!!

    It is so simple to give the RS president on local and stake level the same rights to be at a churchcourt or hearing so that female members would feel protected.

    Elizabeth asks:

    how come we are only talking about the black members of the church.
    Why not talk about the statemend that I made. I felt very very sinfull sitting in a room alone with five married men talking about why I broke my covenant with the Lord and expicitly asking me what I have done and how much etc ( btw I refused to answer that question).
    Why cann’t there be a rulling that the RS president gett more rights and one of them being that she can escort a sister during a church court or a hearing.

    It was the most freaking and scarry experieance in my whole life.

    Elizabeth ( your favorite Dutchie)

  46. elizabeth on June 23, 2006 at 5:01 pm

    Mark Butler wrote:
    Instead we would probably get something vaguely like a welfare ghetto culture where the mothers have all the power and the fathers are marginalized

    Elizabeth sais:
    Sorry Mark but IMO this is a overgeneralization that has no value.
    I live in a innercity area in my city here in Holland and we have alot of single mothers living here.
    I am one of them.
    And that is not because we marginalize men, we are single because the men walked out of life.

    YOu know what is sad for my son. His father walked out of him.
    And last year the priesthood walked out of him aswell.

    So much for the great men of this world.

    Elizabeth ( your favorite dutchie)

  47. elizabeth on June 23, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    mark butler wrote:
    Equalize the priesthood, and an effective matriarchy much more dominant than the nominal patriarchy we now have emerges.

    Elizabeth sais:

    Wow reading this made me recognize that you are a REAL man.
    Maybe I am wrong but you sound like you are scared of women in power.

  48. DavidH on June 23, 2006 at 5:25 pm

    MikeInWeHo,

    Thanks for the link to the Council of 12 in the Community of Christ. I congratulate our “theological cousins” on the greater sexual and racial diversity of a leading council (although I note that its First Presidency appears to be all white males).

    I was a little disappointed, however, to see that the president of the Council of 12 did not have on a white shirt, and some of the male members of the 12 have beards.

    With respect to diversity, have the proprietors of this blog ever surveyed the racial and sexual composition of posters (and lurkers)? (This will help us see what might happen to the future composition of Church leadership assuming the leadership pool were expanded to include all or part of the bloggernacle.)

  49. B Bowen on June 23, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    I sat in a Sunday school meeting a while ago in which the priesthood ban was, by most, defended as an appropriate policy promulgated by God (or at least sanctioned by him). A couple, recently baptized and endowed, who had raised adopted black children (now grown) were visibly upset. She finally spoke up and said, “We would have joined the Church twenty years ago but for the fact that your church was overtly racist. There was no way we were going to raise our kids in that environment.”

    But let’s keep cataloguing the five or six black high councilors we’ve heard of and making fun of Kaimi for beating a dead horse. I much prefer willful blindness to searching introspection.

    I love the notion that Kaimi’s conversation starter is somehow an unworthy effort because it’s repetitive, as if it were any less productive than all the other blather and repetition that gets spewed about in the bloggernacle. “It is wicked to keep posting about topics that previously have been discussed.”

  50. MikeInWeHo on June 23, 2006 at 5:28 pm

    re: 25 It’s not politically correct to call them Dead People. The preferred term is Differently Vivified.

  51. Margaret Young on June 23, 2006 at 5:31 pm

    The official answer to the women and the priesthood issue, of course, is that the priesthood is held jointly by husbands and wives. I fully suspect that the time will come when women will be officially “allowed” to give blessings again–as they did in pioneer times (though you shouldn’t assume that no woman ever gives a priesthood blessing in these modern days). Maybe someone will even re-make that scene in _Legacy_ where Mary Fielding Smith’s BLESSING of her ailing oxen is shrunk to fit the modern paradigm–so she only prays for them. As to the other issue–which I am involved in more than the gender one: Why all the attention to the low numbers of Blacks in North American LDS congregations? Add this: Of all ethnic groups in the U.S., African Americans (I use either term) are the MOST likely to investigate the Church. Of all groups, however, they are the most likely to quit discussions after the third one. Should they convert, they are the most likely of any ethnic group to cease activity after three months. I think there’s a message there–and one we need to pay attention to. I see it as a bigger hurdle than the gender issue. We have all sorts of societies for LDS women–official societies and unofficial ones. We women are always told (often patrionizingly) that we’re special and we have unique gifts. Let me say that I have seen unique gifts members of color offer the Church. But my solid sense is that far too many in the western headquarters of the Church see Blacks as exotic creatures, not truly brothers and sisters, granted temple access and priesthood ordinances through mercy, not merit. Look at the pictures we see of good white women sacrificing themselves to teach literacy etc. to Black women in Africa or in Harlem. Inspiring, BUT… Where are the pictures of strong Black women pressing on despite tremendous ridicule from friends and family as they try to keep the LDS faith? Where are the pictures of Black women instructing white women in the beauties of Gospel Spirituals, or in the Harlem Renaissance, or in the art of cooking catfish until you can’t taste any mud, or simply in the gospel itself? I love our monument to Jane Manning James in the SLC Cemetery. It depicts an act we wouldn’t have known about had it not been for Eliza Partridge Lyman’s journal. Eliza talks about being left destitute by her husband (who was off to California on a mission), and then says, “Jane James, the colored woman, brought us two pounds of flour, it being about half she had.” To me, that has always been a female re-enactment of Joseph in Egypt, giving grain to his brothers despite all he had suffered at their hands. Jane was never a slave, but she does talk about enduring “rebuff” in Nauvoo, and we know she petitioned continually to receive the endowment. It didn’t happen in her lifetime.

  52. DKL on June 23, 2006 at 5:34 pm

    B. Bowen: how many times must we talk about how many times things get talked about?

    MikeInWeHo: Good one. George Washington isn’t dead, he’s just vivificationally challanged.

  53. Nate J on June 23, 2006 at 5:34 pm

    DavidH –

    Well, I’m 24, a full-time father, husband, college student, court clerk and white. 6’2”, 175 pounds. Straight. I guess I’m more of a Mexican-Hungarian mix when it comes down to it ethnically.

  54. Margaret Young on June 23, 2006 at 5:37 pm

    P.S.
    The person Plutarch refers to (stake president in NJ) is Ahmad Corbett. He’s a good man, and I sincerely hope he doesn’t feel like he’s being groomed for anything. It’s enough to manage a stake. Ron McClain, former Black Panther and currently a sealer in the Oakland Temple, is simply amazing. You can read a summary of a talk he gave to the Genesis Group at http://www.ldsgenesisgroup.org (click on newsletter).

  55. queuno on June 23, 2006 at 5:40 pm

    Re Doc in #35 – I used to live within the boundaries of the Ohio Cleveland Mission. Email me offline at queuno -at- g m a i l . c o m.

  56. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 23, 2006 at 5:48 pm

    In all honesty guys it is so easy for you to react this way because I bett you are
    not
    Greek.

    No kidding. Look who has been demonized from the early Church on. Does anyone praise Hellenic influences?

    Currently, fewer Greeks, per capita, go to graduate schools than Blacks. They were a historic target of the Planned Parenthood eugenics movement (before that was rejected) and obviously under represented.

    Steve
    with two grandparents born in Asia Minor.

  57. Justin H on June 23, 2006 at 5:50 pm

    Margaret Young wrote: Add this: Of all ethnic groups in the U.S., African Americans (I use either term) are the MOST likely to investigate the Church.”

    That’s interesting to me; having served a mission in inner-city LA, I would have said that Latin American minorities would be most likely to investigate (judging by my Span-Am teaching pool vs. the English-speaking elders’, even controlling for the Black dropout after the 3rd D. you cite).

  58. Chris Grant on June 23, 2006 at 5:52 pm

    Margaret:

    (1) Remind me how we know the lady praying for the oxen in _Legacy_ is Mary Fielding Smith. (It’s been 13 years since I’ve seen it.)

    (2) Please provide a source for your assertion that Mary Fielding Smith blessed her ailing oxen. The accounts I’ve found are all like this:

    “Producing a bottle of consecrated oil, Widow Smith asked her brother and James Lawson if they would please administer to the ox just as they would to a sick person. . . These brethren poured oil on the head of the ox and then laid their hands upon it and rebuked the power of the destroyer just as they would have done if the animal had been a human being. Immiediately the ox got up and within a very few moments again pulled in the yoke . . .” (_Life Of Joseph F. Smith_)

  59. Lynda on June 23, 2006 at 6:21 pm

    It was exciting to see a Community of Christ member represented here! I am one too…and of course we do have women in the priesthood and African American (and African too!) members of priesthood.

  60. Tatiana on June 23, 2006 at 8:47 pm

    Kaimi, it will change. In the southeast there is a higher percentage black population, and far less racial prejudice, than elsewhere in the country. When I travel to other parts of the country, particularly the midwest, it’s like traveling back in time to my youth in the southeast.

    We get many black investigators here, and a fair number of converts. The white membership…. well, they often shame me with how they say with their body language, “you don’t belong here, you are not one of us”, though they pay lip service to equality. I suppose this is the Utah culture because it’s not prevalent here in the Southeast nowadays. Not only do we have 200 years more history of living and working together (as family, though unfair, unequal sort of family it was), but the civil rights movement largely succeeded here, whereas it seems to have stalled and failed elsewhere in the country. I pray for the day when the membership truly embraces the idea of a worldwide church, including all cultures and populations, even our own here at home.

    Before I joined the church, I attended a pentacostal church for a while where my friend played the guitar. I was the only white person I ever saw at that church, and I can say that the spirit was in those services very powerfully. You could feel God’s presence like electricity in the air. It was only after I learned to see him there, where he was so obvious, that I was able to detect him in our quiet and decorous LDS sacrament meetings. Also, the music at that church was just lightyears better than in any LDS church I’ve attended.

    I’m so glad that you bring this up again, Kaimi, and I’m quite grieved every time I hear members give such a dismissive and contentious response to such an important problem in the church, and one which has been spoken to in no uncertain terms by the First Presidency. It’s extremely important that we who are members do not deprive other people of the opportunity to gain the Celestial Kingdom by our exclusive behaviors. If we are not one, we are not his. I know that is right.

  61. Tatiana on June 23, 2006 at 8:50 pm

    My last ward had a black bishop, who has since been promoted. I believe the brethren are bringing blacks into leadership positions in the church as quickly as they can. Our job as members is to retain all the converts, and make our wards places they feel loved and comfortable in.

  62. Blain on June 23, 2006 at 9:00 pm

    46 —

    Elizabeth said:
    as a female member of the lds church am encouraged to devallop my talents but will be told if I want to use these talents to help the churchmembers that I don’t have the priesthood so therefore no right of speaking.

    I think I’ve addressed this before, but, if not, maybe this will do: Anybody who said that you have no right of speaking because you don’t have the priesthood (in almost any context) was wrong. I can imagine that there are specific meetings where everybody who speaks has the priesthood (priesthood meeting comes to mind) but none (aside from priesthood meeting) come to mind.

    As to your question about your DC, I don’t think you need any change of policy to bring someone in as a support person for a DC. There’s nothing I know of that prohibits bringing in a support person, at least.

    I can’t answer for your situation because I wasn’t involved with it. I could conjecture, but so could you. Church leaders don’t always understand things as well as they ought, and sometimes they will do things because they are comfortable rather than because they are policy or right or both.

    As to the original post, I find it somewhat similar to pointing to the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, noting how few of them are women or black or both, and concluding that no progress for blacks or women in the workplace have taken place. I’ll grant that’s in inference from the scant information presented, but that’s my inference. I find such points nonsensical.

    There are substantially more black priesthood leaders today than there were when I was born, and there are more than there have been since the restoration at the very least. I would like to see more, but the stats Margaret cites above leave me wondering how we’re going to produce more black priesthood leaders when so many of them are leaving so quickly.

    Certainly there is room for improvement on the part of the membership, but how in the world is this newsworthy? Mormons are imperfect, film at 11 Rather than beat on that particular drum, how about some suggestions of things that we can do rather than stare at keyboards and talk to each other about this topic yet again?

  63. Mark Butler on June 23, 2006 at 9:39 pm

    Elizabeth (#46),

    First of all, when I speak of a welfare ghetto culture I am referring to a distinctive phenomena in the United States described by Charles Murray in a landmark book titled Losing Ground, but recognized by others including Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an assistant secretary of Labor during the Kennedy Administration, and later Senator from New York.

    The relevant aspect of the problem is that because welfare benefits were denied to married couples, the role of father largely ceased to exist, fathers could not live in the home, illegitimacy skyrocketed, and teenage and young adult males formed an extremely mysogynistic counterculture on the streets – drug dealing, criminality, what we know as rap, and so on – just coming home to live (and often intimidate) their mother or girlfriend of the moment.

    I have nothing against women someday again exercising certain aspects of the priesthood like blessings, or having further formal recognition of the role they play in a divine society, married or unmarried. Rather my suggestion is that formal recognition of fatherhood and priesthood in men is much more socially critical because fatherhood is a much more fragile institution than motherhood. It has always been so. Mothers have a natural bond and recognized authority over their own children, where fatherhood is contingent on the complex, extensive, and subtle institution of marriage.

    If the net added value of the priesthood is equivalent, then fathers are not made equal partners, rather they are net losers who have a minimal social function, perhaps not as obvious as in a welfare culture, but in these days of declining marriage, rising divorce, and reasonable ability for women to provide for their own children, rather serious enough.

    So before certain LDS feminists go too far in their campaign to symmetrize the priesthood, they might consider the natural existing asymmetry of mother-child relations vs. father-child relations, the balancing functions that the institutions of marriage and fatherhood now perform, and count the cost before leveling civilization as we know it.

  64. Mark Butler on June 23, 2006 at 9:48 pm

    “misogynistic”

  65. Melinda on June 24, 2006 at 12:15 am

    Mark Butler – that’s an interesting theory you have, and if the situation you describe had been around longer than a few decades, it might have some merit. However, in Victorian culture (which North American culture followed), it was the fathers who had all the power and influence. In the rare case of a divorce, custody was automatically granted to the father. Fathers controlled the money and the inheritance rights. Fathers arranged marriages (we’ll hope mothers had input). Old Testament society was patriarchal, so fathers had tremendous influence. Down through history, I’d think it be safe to generalize that fathers have controlled money, education, and pretty much everything else about their children. Not only because societies were usually patriarchal, but because the high maternal death rate in childbirth meant that frequently the father was the only parent.

    The welfare ghetto culture and the powerless father are recent. The priesthood divide has been around since Adam.

    And how many ghetto fathers are priesthood holders anyway? In Mormon culture, I don’t think fatherhood could be described as a “fragile institution.” The ghetto may be in danger of matriarchy, but the Mormon church certainly isn’t.

    By the way – I think that priesthood is an important part of family life and fatherhood. I just disagree with your rationale involving ghetto culture and fatherhood being so fragile it has to be shored up by priesthood. :)

  66. Jim Cobabe on June 24, 2006 at 12:30 am

    …in Victorian culture (which North American culture followed), it was the fathers who had all the power and influence.

    Feminist propaganda.

  67. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 24, 2006 at 1:10 am

    Why cann’t there be a rulling that the RS president gett more rights and one of them being that she can escort a sister during a church court or a hearing.

    I don’t know if there is anything official on this, Elizabeth, but I was personally in attendance with a women who confessed her breaking of the law of chastity to our bishop — she didn’t want to go alone. So I don’t know that you couldn’t have had someone with you (although I don’t know for sure).

    Technically, there IS a difference between being alone with one man and being the only woman in a room with several men. I understand that it was probably just hard to be there being asked such personal questions, but I don’t think you can compare the rule about not being alone to what you experienced. That said, I’m sorry you had a bad experience with that all the same.

  68. DKL on June 24, 2006 at 2:17 am

    Adam Greenwood: I just feel like if I make a personal choice to be dead, that choice won’t be respected.

    The really sad thing is that if you made a personal choice to be black, they wouldn’t respect that either.

  69. Mark Butler on June 24, 2006 at 3:37 am

    Melinda, the age of a theory has nothing to do with its truth. I am describing the state of nature, more than apparent in the animal world, and to varying degrees in dozens of cultures that haven’t changed much in thousands of years.

    Now I agree that cultures can and do overcompensate in an unrighteous manner. Ancient Rome is a typical example where fathers held the power of life and death over every member of their families – they were a law unto themselves.

    The interesting question is not the existence, or even historical predominance of such overcompensation, but what motivated cultures to overcompensate in the first place. I suggest that it is an inherited fear or experience of what happens to societies that do not compensate at all – e.g. without marriage and the related conventions of sexual morality, chastity, and fidelity whole civilizations have met rather ignominious ends, often at the hands of cruder, less developed societies that took marriage seriously.

    Jacob in the Book of Mormon refers to this with regard to the Lamanites and the Nephites in favor of the former. We have a long series of literature making this argument about the decline and fall of nearly every major civilization from Babylon to Rome. The literature may be new, but the phenomena definitely is not. When has there ever been a flourishing civilization without the institution of marriage? And why do patriarchal societies so radically outnumber matriarchal ones.

    Steven Goldberg wrote a book in 1977 titled The Inevitability of Patriarchy and traced the explanation to male hormonal differences. So the question in a religious context is why did God give males and females such different hormones? Why did he practically create the inevitability of division of labor between men and women in the most radical way.

    We have a moral obligation not to overcompensate, of course, and the recent history of Western civilization is promising in that regard. However we also have a moral obligation not to undercompensate, or overcompensate in a different direction.

    Seeing as how like usual, so many implicitly advocate indistinguishable androgynist equality as the highest good in and of itself, I thought it more than worthwhile to bring up the reasons why there is any sort of asymmetry in the first place. I do not admire women who capitulate and become preening male sycophants or more likely lose any sort of backbone to stand up for what they believe in. On the other hand I do not see the value of women becoming male clones either. Where is the appreciation for feminity? For a reasonable division of labor, and characteristics, and inclinations – not something perversely dominant or bipolar, but a proper harmony where fathers have a role in family life as significant as the role of mothers?

  70. elizabeth on June 24, 2006 at 5:22 am

    just for the record
    If you talk with bishop yeah somebody can be there
    if there is a churchcourt you can bring someone who can wait in the hallway
    and is not allowed into the room where the court is being held.
    This is not only my story but have talked with several persons who went throught the
    same process as I did

    I am not writing this to make people feel sorry. Just trying to write that some things do need to change and that had nothing to do with taking power away from priesthood or anything else

    And for me it is as much more intimetating to be allone with five men or with one.
    One I can beat up if he physical attacks me , five I cannot.

    I understand that in a church court you need to talk about how you broke your covenants,
    but five men asking you what you did and how you did and how many times that for me comes close to porn .

    And I am 100 procent sure that if there were another female there they would conducted themselves differently.

    Elizabeth( your favorite Dutchie)

  71. Jim Cobabe on June 24, 2006 at 10:28 am

    Kaimi asks about “How many female Melchizedek Priesthood holders…”, “How many Black Melchizedek Priesthood holders…”

    Who is counting?

    Are you arguing a rationale for quotas? My view is that such attempts at forcing such issues ultimately fail at thier intended purpose. In fact, forced solutions to such problems generally turn out to serve exactly the opposite of their stated purpose, which is to promote egalitarianism. Instead such meddlesome intervention results in greater polarization, creation and accentuating of class differences and resentment, “victims” who believe they have some special entitlement, and discouraging disincentives for those of us who are actually committed to the foundational ideals of equality.

  72. Mark Butler on June 24, 2006 at 11:38 am

    Elizabeth,

    The idea about church leaders beating you up is ridiculous. The chaperone system is intended to avoid situtations of sexual advantage and if possible undue emotional intimacy between one man and one woman. If five men are present, that is a safeguard. Indeed the whole reason such a large number are there at all is to ensure fairness and counteract the idiosyncrasies of judgment in such a serious matter by just one man.

    I fully appreciate the disagreement one might have about questions of style and interpretation, but the operative principle of church courts is to judge according to the *laws of the Church* and not personal prediliction. I believe that generally speaking they serve that purpose quite well. The first objective of the church judicial system is to preserve the moral integrity of the church community, the second is, if possible, to faciliate the repentance and return to full fellowship of the offender. It is justice first, love second. Mercy without justice is hollow, and indeed could lead to the dissolution of the Church as a society maintaining certain fundamental moral standards contrary to those of the world at large.

    No one forces you to attend a Church court. If one does not have any faith in the priesthood leadership why attend at all? If there is no inspiration or order in judgment, however embarrassing, it would be a farce. So one has two basic alternatives – either conclude that the church is led by a bunch of clueless geezers who epitomize the hand of patriarchal oppression and stand on the edge of church society (you do not need to be a member or a member in good standing to attend church) or conclude that the Church’s moral standards are indeed inspired and be disciplined enough not to egregiously violate them in the first place

  73. Kiskilili on June 24, 2006 at 1:30 pm

    Mark, your ideas about patriarchy are interesting. I understand the hormonal differences, and specifically how they make philandering a more attractive prospect for males than females. But I think “inevitability” is too strong a word to apply to patriarchy (considering the fact that our closest living relative in the animal kingdom, the bonobo, lives in matriarchal communities).

    My own experience has been quite the opposite of yours–that when motherhood and priesthood are put forward as equivalents, fatherhood virtually drops out of the picture. Fathers are only under obligation to interact with their children through priesthood ordinances (i.e., perhaps once a year at most). Most of our talk about the duties of those holding the priesthood does not address the importance of maintaining a father-child bond. So what I wonder is, if one of our goals is increased male participation in family life, would it be possible to suggest such an attitude directly, rather than effectively roping men in via the priesthood? Is there no other way to motivate men to remain committed to marriage and family short of granting them authority in the religious community?

    Also, do you mind giving me a clear, specific definition of “natural” femininity, and methodologically, how it was ascertained? We throw the word around often enough in the Church, but since we’re wary of weighing it down with specifics, I’m never entirely sure what we’re talking about.

    Can I assume from what you’ve written that you would not be opposed to ordaining single and infertile women (should God approve)? Also, you’re no doubt aware that a “mother-child” bond is not a universal, either within our own culture or across cultures. Would one possible corrective be to ordain women who neglect their children?

  74. Mark Butler on June 24, 2006 at 2:08 pm

    Kiskilili, I think you are misreading me, I am not saying that motherhood and priesthood are equivalents, I am saying that priesthood gives meaning to fatherhood that otherwise does not exist, such that if women were “given” the priesthood we would have to invent a new term for the divine aspects of fatherhood, not the formalistic minimalism that you speak of but the responsibility for the father to be a spiritual leader in the home and take his responsibility for the moral training and upbringing of his children seriously.

    I do not think of the priesthood as some sort of mystical substance or power, but rather as authority and system. Mothers do preside in righteousness over their children and women often preside formally and informally over others in all sorts of callings and roles, as well has perform all sorts of non-hierarchal roles just as men do, and all that is priesthood in everything but name, subject to essentially the same principles as male service and presidency is.

    The difference as I see it is a formality that is hard to understand. In other words, I don’t know why God did it that way, but the differences between men and women indicate he has something in mind. Presumably he could have designed the human form so we would all be androgynous and reproduce asexually right?

    If I were to guess, however, that sexuality as we know it was designed because a society based on marriage would be more stable. Look at how unstable male homosexual relationships are. Men have an instinctive desire either to lead or to follow, but they do not want to follow all the time. So there is an automatic status ability competition in any group of males to see who deserves to be in charge, and then the rest follow along, at least until the next contest.

    So why didn’t God create us all to be females instead? That is a very good question. However I suspect that there is actually some value in manhood that is not apparent when we look at its instinctive aggressive aspects. Some men take this value to rather perverse extremes – leading to unrighteous domination of all sorts – domination by force, instead of love, mercy and long suffering.

    But love mercy and long suffering are not enough when there is a serious threat to a community at hand. In other words I suggest that male aggressiveness (founded in right reason and true principle) is a necessary expedient in times of serious exigency – war, schism, contentions, and other threats to the unity of the community, both here and in heaven.

    So we have our swords sheathed, but ready to be withdrawn in cases of exigency. However, quis custodiet custodes?, or who will guard the guardians? Part of the answer is their wives and mothers – who to me do not properly abandon male values completely, but more fully adovocate the mercy side of the equation, where men are imbalanced in favor of justice. That does not mean we want women to be unjust or men to be unmerciful, only that there is an apparent division of labor where women get to wear the mercy hat more often, and men the justice hat.

    Now the obvious characteristic of mercy and justice is that everyone wants to be shown mercy and no one (generally) speaking wants to be shown justice. The result is that a justice system is not a natural thing at all, it takes a formal organization, where mercy can be demonstrated spontaneously, no formal organization required.

    So inorder for men to perform the justice function outside of their own family, they have a greater need for a formal organization, than women do, and that is why the male priesthood quorums get all the press, and the Relief Society and Primary are neglected, even though we could hardly do without either. Or often commented men make a more of a difference in the world through authority (power), and women through influence. Justice and mercy respectively, not purely on either side of course.

    Now there are many unmerited imbalances where this division of labor has been taken more seriously than it needs to be, and correcting them is a good thing. But sometimes it seems that the modern world has a practical, and unseemly lust for power, when power, instead of persuasion is a necessary evil in the first place.

    In other words, when all is as it should be, the resort to authority should be minimal to non-existent. The priesthood is there to say unto Israel, stand up and be a people, the authority thereof is not an end in itself, but rather an expedient – not to be used to “get ones way”, but to defend the principles of right and truth.

  75. Kaimi Wenger on June 24, 2006 at 2:09 pm

    Interesting comments, everyone. Gotta love the speculation about why I posted this.

    My point was that it is entirely possible for groups to be underrepresented in priesthood, despite the absence of any official bar. Black men are fully able to receive the Priesthood, and have had that right now for 30 years — unlike women who are doctrinally barred. Yet in the majority of wards in which I’ve lived, the number of Black priesthood holders at church any given Sunday was identical to the number of woman priesthood holders. The number of prominent leaders is probably the same (depending on how “prominent” is defined). The number of general conference priesthood speakers is the same.

    Various comments in bloggernacle threads have suggested or argued that the priesthood should be extended to women. Whatever the validity of those arguments — a side issue for purposes of this post — I’m not sure that any formal extension of priesthood to women would have major effects. That is, what if the Priesthood was given to women, but no one noticed?

    The 26th amendment to the U.S. Constitution extended the right to vote to all citizens over the age of 18. At the time it was debated, there was a lot of back-and-forth about the wide-ranging effects it would have. Once adopted, though, it caused very little change to the existing political climate.

    OD-2 was a really big deal. It has been canonized as scripture. It removed a thorny question. It extended the priesthood to Black men. And . . .

    . . . and 30 years later, how many Black priesthood holders do we see anywhere? OD-2 was a huge deal on the doctrinal level. On the ground floor, its effects seem to have been negligible in many places.

    Would the same occur with women? If the priesthood were extended to women _tomorrow_ — would people sit around thirty years from now, unable to name a single prominent female priesthood holder?

    Perhaps not. Perhaps the absence of Black priesthood holders is merely demographic. There aren’t a lot of Blacks in the church; there are a lot of women.

    But I wonder — how much of the black absence is demographic, how much is cultural?

  76. paul frandsen on June 24, 2006 at 3:58 pm

    having grown up in utah county i personally bristle at the suggestion that i am overtly racist. the big problem is that i have zero black friends and close to the same number of black acquaintances. so while i agree that the plight of blacks of inner cities across the country is extremely unfortunate and in need of restitution, i have no chance to practice what i believe.

    on a church level, i fully support black integration including black leadership and a better acceptance and integration of all appropriate unique cultures within wards. on a personal and intimate level i have very little chance to be accepting of blacks because i interact with none. yes i can voice my political opinion and stamp out wrongful philosophies around me, but it is all esoteric and feels empty. so the problem i see is both demographic (no chance to practice what i preach or more importantly no chance for neighbors that may be hold to racist ideas to evidence their ignorance and be corrected) and cultural (the culture in which i was raised had not practical experience with black members of society and therefore weren’t forced to grapple with the isues on a personal basis).

    it is good to hear stories of those of you with personal and intimate experiences with black members where demographics allow. it seems that these areas can set the standard by which other wards and branches can learn from mistakes and positive experiences. perhaps sharing of these experiences would be more instructive than criticizing God or his current leaders for perceived racist slights when each of us needs to take responsiblity to uphold tolerance as has been set forth in principle by the prophet in no uncertain terms.

  77. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 24, 2006 at 4:37 pm

    Where are the pictures of strong Black women pressing on despite tremendous ridicule from friends and family as they try to keep the LDS faith?

    Have you seen the new Joseph Smith movie, Margaret? This was the first effort I remember seeing in a Church movie to include a couple of stories of our black brothers and sisters as well.

  78. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 24, 2006 at 4:38 pm

    77 p.s. I thought it was awesome, BTW.

  79. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 24, 2006 at 5:03 pm

    . . and 30 years later, how many Black priesthood holders do we see anywhere? OD-2 was a huge deal on the doctrinal level. On the ground floor, its effects seem to have been negligible in many places.

    Kaimi, as I understand it, without OD2, the Church still probably wouldn’t have a presence anything near what it does in Africa If it really did at all), as an example. I think to simply count heads (particularly with a mostly North American crowd) is simply missing the huge impact the declaration had. I completely agree that we should do all we can to help integrate people of all races into the Church, but, at least in my experience, it’s often not race per se that is the problem, but problems of poverty and other issues that make continuity and commitment sometimes difficult (this is certainly not limited to non-Caucasian folks, either). I saw the same thing in So. Amer. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place at our table for these people, nor that racism is at the core of the problem (I’m hoping that is not what you are trying to state). I still say that, considering it has only been 30 years, we should think “big picture” about the changes that HAVE happened, consider the tremendous growth on other continents, and continue to work for and pray that the Lord’s sheep can be prepared and gathered all over the world.

    I suppose this is the Utah culture because it’s not prevalent here in the Southeast nowadays.
    Please realize there are plenty of us in Utah who would (and do) love and embrace people regardless of race (like I said, there several black members of my ward, and I live in a highly-populated-by-Mormons city in Utah). Generalizations like that are unfair and not productive. Individuals may sometimes have a hard time reaching out to people who are different. And those individuals could be from anywhere. We all have our weaknesses, right?

  80. john f. on June 24, 2006 at 7:37 pm

    DKL wrote In spite of the fact that our church does more for dead people than any other church, we still have a long way to go.

    Hilarious!

  81. Stephen M (Ethesis) on June 24, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    Yet in the majority of wards in which I’ve lived, the number of Black priesthood holders at church any given Sunday was identical to the number of woman priesthood holders.

    Ahh, I see where you are coming from. That isn’t the case in my ward (my oldest daughter’s best friend is black, her best friend’s father often teaches in the High Priest’s quorum in our ward).

  82. elizabeth on June 25, 2006 at 4:23 am

    mark butler wrote:
    If five men are present, that is a safeguard

    Elizabeth sais:
    Not to me!!!!!!!!

    They did not abuse me physically but they did abuse me mentally and sprititually.

    Elizabeth ( your favorite dutchie)

  83. Charles Sakai on June 25, 2006 at 9:30 am

    I attend a ward in Colorado, and here we have trouble enough convincing WHITE prospective elders that the Melchizedek priesthood and a temple recommend are choice prizes, well worth working towards. Having attended many wards and branches around the world, I am not aware of any institutional bias against nonwhites, so qualifying ourselves for the higher blessings and offices of the Church is mainly an individual matter. The way the question was originally phrased smacks too much of the world, which includes political pressure groups and quotas. My understanding of the Lord’s position is based on 2 Nephi 26:33: “…he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” If we all did what we’re supposed to do, the future leaders of the Church will rise like cream to the top, without regard to color.

  84. Seth R. on June 25, 2006 at 10:45 am

    You know, I hate to say this but ….

    The lack of black people in Utah is just as much the fault of the black community as it is the fault of the current residents.

    I’ve heard from several places that those of African American heritage deliberately reject Utah as an option because they have a preconceived notion that they will be ostracized if they come here.

    So they stay where they are, and the Utahns stay where they are, and never the twain shall meet. The absence of any African American presence in Utah is just as much about prejudices among blacks as it is about predjudices among white LDS people.

  85. paul frandsen on June 25, 2006 at 12:17 pm

    The absence of any African American presence in Utah is just as much about prejudices among blacks as it is about predjudices among white LDS people.

    this may be the case for a very small minority of blacks that have the financial means and job opportunities even presented to them in utah. for a large number of inner city blacks–who are experiencing the brunt of both perceived and real prejudice–moving to utah was and realistically never will be an option. besides, when moving, looking for a community of like minded people with whom you share values and beliefs is not an invalid criteria by which to judge a potential location.

  86. heironymus potter on June 25, 2006 at 5:10 pm

    I don’t live in San Diego, but I’ll wager that the person who posted this web lives in a lily-white neighborhood, and if his kids even atend public school it’s with lily-white kids. So what a big surprise that the majority of people in his ward aren’t African American.

  87. Kaimi Wenger on June 25, 2006 at 9:29 pm

    HP,

    Wow – one relatively short post, one also relatively short follow up comment, and you’re ready to start speculating unkindly about where I send my kids to school. This makes you a jerk. (I’ll refrain from speculation about whether your kids’ classmates are jerks as well).

    You’re also quite wrong on your factual assumptions, but that’s pretty much irrelevant, isn’t it?

  88. Duane on June 25, 2006 at 10:02 pm

    HP,

    Dude, I don’t know what kind of neighborhood Kaimi lives in now, but he, his wife and kids used to live in the Bronx.

  89. paul frandsen on June 25, 2006 at 11:25 pm

    i guess the ironic thing is that for me in my ward in california and my previous ward in utah the numbers would look like this:

    1. How many female Melchizedek Priesthood holders are currently in your ward?
    2. How many Black Melchizedek Priesthood holders are currently in your ward?
    3. How many Black members of your ward?
    4. How many female members of your ward?

    1. 0
    2. 0
    3. 0
    4. 75

    were is the controversy?

  90. Adam Greenwood on June 26, 2006 at 12:06 am

    Adam Greenwood: I just feel like if I make a personal choice to be dead, that choice won’t be respected.

    The really sad thing is that if you made a personal choice to be black, they wouldn’t respect that either.”

    Or a personal choice to be female. I’m just sick of all this oppression.

  91. elizabeth on June 26, 2006 at 4:33 am

    hey Adam
    I did I choose to become a white woman?

    Elizabeth

  92. heironymus potter on June 26, 2006 at 11:17 am

    Compadre, I’m on the same side of this as you are.

    For the record the demographics of my kids public elementary school as published by the school district are
    34% white
    45% black
    9% hispanic
    7% asian
    Those are numbers.
    I worked for two years at a minority owned company.
    Sorry, I don’t believe I stated any factual assumptions. I speculated. Sorry. You speculate that based on numbers, the church is misogynistic and racist. Maybe I’m reading too much into your numbers thing. If you want to claim I’m a jerk….. that’s you call.

  93. Mark B. on June 26, 2006 at 5:16 pm

    Your problem, Kaimi, is that you keep attending the wrong wards.

    You lived in New York. You could have attended the Midwood 1st Ward in the Brooklyn Stake, where a counselor in the bishopric was Haitian–and he’s the bishop now.

    Or, you could have had the foresight to have been born a decade or more earlier, and attended the Brooklyn 1st Ward in the late 80’s. Then there was a relatively even mix of people of African descent, white folks from the Wasatch Front, odd ethnics from Brooklyn, etc.

    When that ward was being carved into smaller units, there were people who had no clue why we were conserned that some of the new units would revert to more typical racial patterns (read: all white).

  94. Kaimi Wenger on June 26, 2006 at 5:46 pm

    I’ve attended a few of the right wards, Mark. I lived in the Bronx, after all. :)

    But I’ve also lived in wards in Arizona, Utah, California, Hawaii, Oklahoma, New York — all of which lacked Blacks. (And the problem is broader than just Blacks, but I’m focusing specifically on Blacks because of the question of how much effect OD-2 has had).

  95. greenfrog on June 26, 2006 at 5:53 pm

    If the impact of the OD-2 is the question, shouldn’t the focus of attention include Brazil and all of the countries in Africa, as well?

  96. Kaimi Wenger on June 26, 2006 at 6:06 pm

    Heironymous —

    Sounds good. I read your comment as a criticism of my asking the question. I’m happy to accept it as a non-critical remark.

    I wasn’t intending to focusing directly on racism and misogyny, though they’re certainly related to the issue. The point I originally intended to make was that unofficial (cultural and demographic) exclusion of a group seems to be nearly as effective as official (doctrinal) exclusion.

  97. john f. on June 26, 2006 at 6:26 pm

    Take a ward in a predominantly white neighborhood. The fact that only one or two blacks show up to Church on Sunday is supposed to imply that the Church is so racist that even despite OD-2, no blacks will touch the Church with a ten-foot pole? My guess is that, in areas where blacks live, there are blacks in those wards, in America, to be sure, but particularly in Brazil, the Caribbean, and Africa.

  98. Kaimi Wenger on June 26, 2006 at 6:32 pm

    John,

    According to the public school records, my neighborhood is about 15% Black. My ward, though — which is a great ward — sure isn’t 15% Black. In fact, I’m struggling to think of a single Black member who I know in the ward.

    I’m not saying that this is necessarily due to racism (though it may certainly be related). But it’s unlikely that it’s all coincidence.

  99. john f. on June 26, 2006 at 6:50 pm

    Just because your kids’ school is 15% black that means that your ward should be 15% black? I’m missing a step in the thought process here.

  100. DavidH on June 26, 2006 at 6:57 pm

    The composition of the population in our ward boundaries is 70% nonhispanic white, 23% Latino, 3% African-American, and 4% other. Most Latino members who live in our boundaries are first generation and attend a Spanish speaking branch. Of the 180 or so active members in our ward, at any given time, there are usually 2 or 3 African American active members (1% or 2 %, compared to the 3% in the general population of the boundaries).

  101. Kaimi Wenger on June 26, 2006 at 7:37 pm

    John,

    I didn’t say that.

    My neighborhood demographics are about about on par with the national average — 15% Black. Evidence of this can be found in the population of the kids public school. I.e., this is _not_ the product of the fact that I live in an all-white neighborhood — because I don’t.

    There are no Black ward members that I can think of, in a ward with 300ish (?) active members.

  102. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 26, 2006 at 9:08 pm

    But I’ve also lived in wards in Arizona, Utah, California, Hawaii, Oklahoma, New York — all of which lacked Blacks. (And the problem is broader than just Blacks, but I’m focusing specifically on Blacks because of the question of how much effect OD-2 has had).

    In RS yesterday, our lesson was given by a black woman who was converted to the Church before OD-2 and who joined after it was made (her parents wouldn’t let her join before a certain age). She talked of the impact of OD-2 on the work — how in 1978 there were only 3 million members, and that now we are above 12 million. She also bore testimony of the divinity and timing of that declaration and of God’s love for all His children. I think this whole exercise is misleading. Not that we don’t have things to work on, but I think to look at statistics in neighborhoods that are predominanty white anyway, and to ignore the bigger picture changes (as greenfrog also mentioned) throws perspective and understanding off. I think we are barking up the wrong tree here.

  103. Kaimi Wenger on June 26, 2006 at 10:05 pm

    M&M,

    My neighborhood is right at the national average. I’m not sure why it’s “barking up the wrong tree” to point out that a neighborhood with the national average of Blacks translates to zero in the ward. Just how many Blacks do you think have to be in an area before we can expect to see a few in church?

    Thirty years after OD-2, shouldn’t we be able to see some effects without having to go to another continent?

  104. Mark Butler on June 26, 2006 at 10:57 pm

    It takes a *long* time for a doctrinal change to take full effect, due to historical contingiencies – only so many new people get converted to the Church. If those ratios still hold two hundred years from now, then we have something to talk about. For now it only matters that the ratios are moving in the right direction at a reasonable clip, and there is ample evidence of that. The demand for statistical equality now is a false perfectionism – everything of ultimate value is only accomplished in the process of time.

  105. mullingandmusing (m&m) on June 27, 2006 at 12:12 am

    My neighborhood is right at the national average. I’m not sure why it’s “barking up the wrong tree� to point out that a neighborhood with the national average of Blacks translates to zero in the ward.

    Well, Kaimi, my neighborhood is below the national average, and we have over a dozen black people in our ward (in Utah!) Maybe our wards balance each other out. :) We also had several in our ward back East.

    I agree with Mark that change takes a long time. I also think we can’t just say the Church doesn’t open its doors to blacks, or doesn’t care about blacks, or excludes blacks, or similar criticisms. I think this is a more complicated issue than that, and reasons for lower numbers of blacks may not all fall on the shoulders of the Church. Again, I’m not saying that there aren’t things we can probably do to improve in areas of conversion and retention, but those issues transcend racial boundaries. I think what would be more helpful is to discuss those kinds of things, than to throw random, inconsistent numbers around. I’m just not sure they tell us anything really meaningful.

  106. MikeInWeHo on June 27, 2006 at 1:17 am

    Are there any Black people in the bloggernacle??

  107. A Nonny Mouse on June 27, 2006 at 12:17 pm

    Kaimi, is it possible that this phenomenon is incredibly localized to the point where it varies from ward to ward? Is it possible that the majority of the wards you’ve lived in have been unwelcoming to black people where as the wards and stakes that many of the other people commenting in this thread have lived in have been welcoming to them?

    More food for thought: The town I grew up in consisted of 8,000 people. The demographics were pretty evenly skewed: Around 50% white, around 50% black, and a handful of other ethnicities. However, it would be wrong to assume that my ward’s demographics should have mirrored my town’s because my ward took in a geographical area of about 10 times that of my town. It took an hour and a half drive through farming country to make it from one side to the other. You’d be right if you guessed that the overall demographics of the farmland were heavily skewed white. When school sports teams played other sports teams in the area, we routinely conrfonted racist remarks and racial prejudice.

    Maybe a good parallel question to your thoughts about OD-2 is: “Why haven’t the 13th, 14th and 15th ammendments worked to increase the number of black people living in rural America?”

  108. Chris Brower on June 27, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    I think you are looking at this from the wrong angle. Because the church was essentially all white up until OD-2, we shouldn\’t expect the number of blacks in the church to correspond to the national average.

    It seems to me that the proper question would be \”What percentage of new converts were black in the last 5 years?\” If that were close to the national average, then we would be doing a pretty good job. But because of the lat start (0% black priesthood holder in 1978) it would take an especially long time to catch up to national averages. Even if new converts are advanced in the priesthood at the same rate, whether black or white, we cannot expect to see the overall number increase at the same time. The overwhelming majority of non-black members in America will continue to bear children who will become priesthood holders, thus keeping the statistics skewed against the black priesthood holder. But it doesn\’t show that blacks are not comming in at the proper rate.

  109. Carolyn on June 28, 2006 at 1:24 am

    Here in Toronto we have lots and lots of black members along with every other ethnicity. This includes a former bishop who is now a member of our stake presidency. So I don’t think the church is institutionally racist. Perhaps the problem is not the church but rather racial divisions in some American communities.

  110. Jeff M. on June 29, 2006 at 4:05 pm

    Some of the premises in this thread represent much of what is wrong in our society today. It is a case of the tail wagging the dog. If the the country is 12% black and the church population in the US is less than 12%, there must be some kind of institutional racism of exclusion to explain the difference. The solution? Simple. Change the doctrine to appeal more to underrepresented demographics, or better yet, offer cash incentives to create a more representative church.

    This is why Elder Oaks has said that tolerance and inclusion are important, but not the MOST important things. The church’s message is simple and the church’s aim is to offer that message to all of the earth’s inhabitants. But the church has learned through long experience that growth must occur from centers of strength. You do not fix a perceived problem with under-representation of minorities by building megachurches in inner-cities. You teach your people to be tolerant and inclusive, to be good neighbors and loving people, and then you continue to expand from centers of strength. To panic and shift the message would only weaken the message.

    I would like to point out that there are very few caucasian members of the church in western Africa, and very few white or black members in Asia. Race outside of the US and throughout the world in years past was seen very differently than we see it in this country today. This is not to say “the old days were better” by any means, but it is important to note that missionary work by the ancient apostles was limited to certain racial and ethnic groups for quite a while. In our scriptures, these other “off-limit” groups are compared to animals.

    The church does not operate by overreacting to perceived problems of a cultural nature. This means there is a lag time in creating a more politically acceptable church demographic, but it also means there is a higher likelihood that more important things will be taken care of (such as baptizing people with true testimonies).

  111. Richard Wilkinson on July 16, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    WHAT ABOUT NON-MORMON CHRISTIAN CHURCHES\’ DISCRIMMINATION HISTORIES?
    ———————————————————————————————————————————————

    The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) of 1995 voted June 20 to adopt a resolution renouncing its racist roots and apologizing for its past defense of slavery. The SBC was founded in 1845 in Augusta, Georgia, by Baptists in the South seceding from the national Triennial Convention of Baptists after that body decreed it would not appoint slaveholders as missionaries. A survey by the Home Mission Board in 1968 showed that only eleven percent of Southern Baptist churches would admit Americans of African descent (The American Baptist Convention and the Civil Rights Movement: Rhetoric and Response, Dana Martin, 1999, page 44). The racism resolution marked the denomination\’s first formal acknowledgment that racism played a role in its founding (http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1058/is_n21_v112/ai_17332136)

    In 1844, the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church split into two conferences because of tensions over slavery and the power of bishops in the denomination. The two General Conferences, Methodist Episcopal Church (North) and Methodist Episcopal Church, South remained separate until the 1939 merger of these two denominations plus a third, the Methodist Protestant Church, the resulting church being known as the Methodist Church (J.G. Melton, op. cit., Volume II, Page 185).
    In 1968, the Methodist Church united with the Evangelical United Brethren, also a result of mergers, to become the United Methodist Church (UMC).

    Beginning in the 1830s, the Presbyterian Church divided over the slavery issue. Nationally, the Presbyterian Church divided into Northern and Southern branches. The Civil War and the subsequent end to slavery helped to reunite the Presbyterians. (http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=620)

    On June 16, 2006, the Episcopalian House of Bishops endorsed a resolution apologizing for its complicity in the institution of slavery and its silence over “Jim Crow� laws, segregation and racial discrimination. By a unanimous vote, the House endorsed Resolution A123 (http://www.livingchurch.org/publishertlc/viewarticle.asp?ID=2189)

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was born in unimaginably racist times where many states passed laws that prohibited even the education of a person of African heritage. Missouri made it illegal to have free African Americans as guests. Why has all of the focus been on Mormonism?
    the revelations of the rejected slavery where the other churches endorsed it and split from the main body if necessary to do so. The fact is that enough early converts to the church came from other discrimminatory faiths to result in a leadership that brought interpretations of the scriptures about Ham’s curse that persisted until the years of isolation in the Salt Valley came to a close.