“[The Church] Was Wrong”

August 21, 2011 | 155 comments
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Yesterday Jake Tapper asked John Huntsman about the church’s “racist rules” of the past. Huntsman said, “I think it was wrong, plain and simple. I think it was wrong.”

When the church ban on giving the priesthood to blacks was lifted, when I was 14, every single LDS person I personally knew rejoiced. My mom ran to the stairs shouting to tell us. We jumped up and down. In our mostly Mormon community of Orem, Utah, people literally flooded into the streets to hug and talk as word spread.

Over the years I have come to my own conclusions about why it happened. The answer I’m comfortable with is that due to the racism of pretty much everyone at the time, the church might not have survived had blacks been treated equally by the already crazy, weirdo Mormons. (Although I admit, I wish we’d used the same reasoning to ban polygamy from our history instead of blacks.)

As I watched the interview, though, I wondered why — in this day of equality — the Mormon candidates aren’t regularly asked to explain why they belong to a sexist church. (I’m not calling the church sexist — any more than I’d call it racist — but I think that’s how it would be framed from outside.)

Is it because so many other (really big, powerful) churches also have lots of gender prohibitions and they don’t really want to get into that dog fight? Is it because racism is more objectionable than sexism? Is it because they see gender differences as meaningful (and therefore rationally allowing discrimination) and race issues as irrelevant? Other reasons?

155 Responses to “[The Church] Was Wrong”

  1. Travis on August 21, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    It’s the first one–because the Catholic Church does the same thing. It’s hard to explain why you’re picking on the Mormons for not ordaining women when you aren’t demanding that Catholics explain themselves.

  2. jks on August 21, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    I’m 40. WHat I noticed in a college history class years ago is that people my age were unable to really understand racism (why did they need to use a different drinking fountain, bathroom, or restaurant?) but were completely comfortable with having a world of separate male and female restrooms. That, to them, seemed obvious and normal. ( I tried to convince them that someday people would think we were weird for having these divisions).
    So I think that certain kinds of racism is considered strange and unable to be understood (although some racism is still rampant…..just not the kind where you ban people from something 100%) but certain kinds of division by sex is still considered normal and preferable to a large number of people (like changing rooms for one gender).

  3. Jax on August 21, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I’d go with the combo platter here, with a heavy leaning towards the first and third.

  4. Naismith on August 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm

    It’s not just Catholics who are sexist. I attended a wedding this weekend at a Christian denomination, and was struck by how much I hate the idea of a father (or whoever) giving his daughter away. Like he owns her? I’m very glad that is not part of our tradition.

    One of the reasons it is hard to make an apples-to-apples comparison is that some denominations may ordain women, but rank-and-file members never get to give public prayers, speak before the congregation, etc. Which rank-and-file Mormon women do all the time, especially in a small branch.

  5. ji on August 21, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Isn’t there a difference between “[he practice] was wrong” and “[The Church] was wrong”? Mr. Huntsman seems to have suggested the former, but the poster here perhaps changed the meaning to the latter.

    But yes, it is common for churches to limit ordination to men. Saying the Church is sexist won’t anger many people, because the charge is so common.

  6. Alison Moore Smith on August 21, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    Travis, years ago I saw a show where Pat Robertson outlined why Mormons are cultists. Almost every one of his reasons would have applied to the Catholic church as well. I can only assume he took on Mormons instead of Catholics because we aren’t nearly as powerful. He probably hates the Catholics just as much.

    jks, good examples. That’s what I was getting at with #3, that we see good reasons for such discrimination.

    jax, combo platters are always better. :)

    Naismith, absolutely. I think it’s easier to see in Catholicism because it’s centralized, but many particular denominations or congregations certainly do have the same issues.

    The difference I see with you last paragraph (if I read it correctly), is to distinguish between a minister and a rank and file member makes more sense to me than to distinguish between a female raf member and a male raf member.

  7. Alison Moore Smith on August 21, 2011 at 5:22 pm

    #5, that’s an interesting distinction. Maybe it makes a difference. To me if the practice was wrong, then the church that enforced the practice was wrong. How do you see it?

    Huntsman does go on to say, “I believe they — they saw the errors of their way and they made a policy change…” So he thought the leaders were wrong. But, again, I’m not sure how to separate church policy from the leaders who form the policy from the church itself in any meaningful way.

  8. Brad on August 21, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    And that is why as a staunch liberal and democrat I like Jon Huntsman.

  9. Bradley on August 21, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Outside of the commandments, the Church’s mission is not one of social change. Back in the day, this kind of discrimination was universal. Today we see it as bizare, just as future generations will look on parts of todays prevailing culture with a sense of disgust. We can talk about how bad racism is as we step over the homeless person on the sidewalk.

    So, singling out the Church for being wrong is a little unfair. The entire culture of America was wrong.

  10. Jax on August 21, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Bradley,

    Saying, “Outside of the commandments, the Church’s mission is not one of social change” doesn’t really help when many of those commandments require social change, does it? As you say, the entire culture of America is wrong, is anti-gospel. To live the commandments a person doesn’t need to effect social change, but he/she would have to live outside of cultural norms. But for a group of people (say, a church) they would have to have as their purpose ‘social change’ – for their membership at least, and for society as a whole if they are concerned with missionary work and saving others outside their group.

  11. ji on August 21, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Jax (no. 10), I think Bradley (no. 9) is right. The Church’s mission is not one of social change — the Church’s mission is to save individual souls, in whatever society they are found. One might suppose that a result of saving souls will be social change, but social change is not a necessary result of Church growth. The Church could be successful in saving thousands of souls in a society, and that society could still go so hell, so to speak.

  12. Christopher on August 21, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Back in the day, this kind of discrimination was universal.

    That simply is not true. This particular expression of discrimination (denying admission to the priesthood and other ordinances to African Americans) was not at all universal and many Christian churches welcomes Africans and African Americans into full fellowship and into clerical roles. That is not to say that racism wasn’t widespread or that those churches who ordained black members to the clergy were not racist (they almost universally were). Just that this specific form of discrimination cannot be explained away with “everyone was doing it.”

  13. Ray on August 21, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Ultimately, the Church’s mission is not just saving individual souls; that mission is fine left to the rest of religion, inside and outside of Christianity. The LDS Church has the ultimate mission of creating Zion (in both the here and now and the there and then) – which certainly is social change.

    To the extent that the Church membership is not engaged in social change (at the very least in its attempt to take people out of poverty and create Zion), the Church is not succeeding fully in its mission.

  14. Sam Brunson on August 21, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    To the extent that the Church membership is not engaged in social change (at the very least in its attempt to take people out of poverty and create Zion), the Church is not succeeding fully in its mission.

    Thanks, Ray. I’ve been trying to formulate how to say this, but you’ve just saved me the trouble.

  15. Bradley on August 21, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    You bring up good points, Jax. My attempt to apologize for the Church doesn’t hold much water, but I don’t see much point in throwing stones. I would also point out that the Church is hamstrung by its tax exempt status. It can’t engage in anything that even smells like politics.

    So where does that leave us? With the Church politically neutered, its up to the membership to independently drive social change. This isn’t easy when humans as a species are herd animals. Perhaps we should follow Gandhi’s advice: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” If you find the Kingdom of Heaven inside yourself, others will see that change and want what you have.

    I notice that the Church is selective in enforcing commandments. The Old Testament stuff like chastity and tithing are enforced. The New Testament stuff like “Love your enemies” is not. I think this is by design. Enforcing the beatitudes encroaches on free will, which goes against the spirit of the beatitudes. Mosaic law is a different kettle (or basket) of fish.

    Just for fun, let me go out on a limb and say that the Church has an anarchist streak. While we as LDS are rule freaks, the Church likes to leave things up to individual Free Will when it can.

  16. Bradley on August 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Ray, I’m sure the Church wants to establist Zion (the real thing). But Babylon is still too strong. Zion would surely be crushed as before. I think the idea these days is to prepare people for Zion.

  17. ji on August 21, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I think that building Zion will be the result of saving individual souls. Somehow, I don’t imagine the brethren in the highest councils of the Church in their meetings trying to engineer social justice or effect social change in all the communities across the world where there are wards and branches — I simply see them as trying to help save individual souls by making it possible for individual persons to hear the gospel message and partake of saving ordinances.

    In my mind, the Church tries to save and change people, one at a time — and then people try to save and change the societies in which they live. I’ve never lived in Utah, but I can certainly say that the Church as an institution is engaged in ZERO social engineering or social change where I live.

    Someday, there might come some prophetic direction to really engineer social change, such as by gathering to a central place and the establishment of a church government for civil affairs in that place — but that is in the future, and I am not at all certain about any of the particulars of how that will happen.

  18. Tim on August 21, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    “With the Church politically neutered, its up to the membership to independently drive social change.”

    Actually, the Church has recently said quite a bit about big political issues like immigration. Unfortunately, at least from what I’ve seen from Deseret News comments and Meridian readers, it appears as if a majority of the membership wants to drive social change in a direction that’s opposite of what the Church desires. We (as a whole) can’t even move in the right direction when the Church tells us exactly which direction to move. Too many of us are more attached to political ideologies than we are the church.

    As far as Jon (not John) Huntsman goes, he’s had my vote ever since he, as governor, threatened to veto an idiotic Buttars bill that would have significantly affected how I taught evolution in public schools. His statement “it was wrong” was perfect. And he’s a progressive rock fan. As long as he stays rational and moderate, I’ll stay a fan.

  19. R. Gary on August 21, 2011 at 10:04 pm

    Gordon B. Hinckley said he didn’t know the reason for the pre-1978 priesthood restriction, but he also very clearly said, “I don’t think it was wrong.” Okay, so Jon Huntsman disagrees. So what?

  20. Jax on August 21, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    I simply see them as trying to help save individual souls by making it possible for individual persons to hear the gospel message and partake of saving ordinances.

    Yeah, by having us make covenants requiring the building of Zion, which is a completely social change from American culture – thus requiring a social change from its membership in order to keep their covenants, without which they won’t be saved.

    And I wasn’t throwing stones.

  21. It's Not Me on August 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    I personally take President Kimball at his word and believe that it was revealed to him by the Lord to make the change in 1978. I also believe that he was not the first prophet to approach the Lord on the issue. Therefore, when someone says “the church was wrong,” I tend to agree if they mean that perhaps the members of the church weren’t ready for the change.

    If by “the church was wrong” they mean the “Church” was wrong, I disagree. If the Lord wanted the change to come about sooner, he could have done it with President McKay (or even sooner).

  22. It's Not Me on August 21, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    k.

  23. Kent on August 21, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    I thought I ought to throw in a little Church history here. Apparently it has been several generations since anyone had any idea about why there was any problem with the blacks and the Church. Having studied this topic at some length, as I see it, the Church was nearly completely wiped out from at least 4 major “extermination orders,” and other minor ones, simply because the Church was always favorable to blacks, especially in pre-Civil War times when it really mattered. Somehow, in the various information-less conclusions of racism so casually thrown around today, many originating with the Church’s enemies and then accepted by uninformed members, this little matter of at least 4 near-extinction experiences gets conveniently dropped out. I will not try to lay it out here unless someone really wants to follow it up, since one version of it takes an 8-page article to present the relevant history, even in summary form. But the truth is that the Mormons were the best friends the blacks ever had, even though it almost caused some catastrophes for the Mormons. Lots of people seem to prefer to believe the worst about the early brethren, on a whole raft of points, while knowing essentially nothing about the real history of the continual life and death choices that had to be made. We have sanitized our history to remove nearly all traces of political conflict. That may help us to “forgive and forget,” and thus better assimilate, but it also leaves us completely clueless on understanding what really happened.

  24. Steve on August 21, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    Kent . .

    Pray tell, how on Earth do you link the extermination orders to LDS treatment of blacks?

    For instance, the Missouri issue was predominately triggered by the local population being upset with the intrusion of the tight-knit Mormon community.

    I assume you are trying to make the claim that Mormons were anti-slavery while the Missourians tended to be on the pro-slavery side. But, that was a pretty minor element of that conflict.

    As to the Mormons being the “best friends the blacks ever had”, that is so silly as to be incomprehensible. Mormons never embraced the abolitionist movement (it was considered too radical). Utah territory was actually a slave territory. Some early leaders had slaves (though not in great numbers). Then, there is the whole Civil Rights movement which was fiercely opposed by some LDS leaders like Mark E. Peterson and Ezra T. Benson (called it part of the communist conspiracy). We had conference talks linking blacks to the sins of Cain and all kinds of racist teachings from Brigham Young to modern day.

    Since President Kimball’s revelation, we’ve seen a sea change but please don’t whitewash the past.

  25. ji on August 22, 2011 at 12:08 am

    Jax (no. 20), I can keep my covenants and achieve my salvation without causing any social or cultural change or affecting any social justice in the society where I live, whether it be a Zion society or a Babylon society. Even in the United States.

  26. Chino Blanco on August 22, 2011 at 1:05 am

    The question I would’ve asked Huntsman: “If the LDS church hadn’t changed its racist rules in 1978, would you have still have gone on a mission in 1979?” I.e., where are the Mormons who left their church or protested LDS racism pre-1978? MIA, as far as I can tell.

  27. Kent on August 22, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Steve, number 24. From my standpoint, it appears to me that you are immersed in conventional wisdom, which we know is nearly always wrong, and that you are the one who has been splashed with a very large bucket of whitewash. It is the same bucket which has whitewashed nearly everyone else and nearly every part of our history. I will probably be sorry for saying another word about this, since these discussions are usually more about personal ideology than actual history, but I will throw in a few more things. I don’t know who invented this convenient story about the Mormons being a tight knit community and that was the only thing that bothered the old settlers in Missouri. Perhaps that was invented to whitewash the murderous slaveholders in Missouri. The Missouri compromise of 1820 designated Missouri as a slave state. That may seem not terribly unusual, except if you look at the map. Missouri sticks straight up into the northern states, above the Mason Dixon line. Keeping that state a slave state when there were thousands of free-state voters moving into Missouri required threats and murderous treatment of all people who did not agree with slavery. In this setting, the only thing that mattered was that Mormons would vote against slavery, which was itself a death sentence for the Mormons. Their religion was totally irrelevant, except to the extent that it encouraged voting against slavery. The “Bloody Kansas” episode just before the Civil War, with Kansas adjoining Missouri, was made bloody by those very same people, who wanted to kill the Mormons, riding into Kansas to vote illegally and try to kill any of the free-state people were there. It was only about 50 miles from Independence Missouri to Kansas territory. The federal Army which was being used to help make Kansas become slave territory was the exact same Army which was sent out to Utah to try to make Utah a slave state. Here are the politics: the South controlled the Senate and the Supreme Court, but did not completely control the House of Representatives. If Utah and California could be switched to send representatives to the House of Representatives who would vote for slavery, then the entire United States territory would be slave, without any conflict. It could be done perfectly legally. The fact that the Mormons stopped that Army cold and prevented the legal establishment of nationwide slavery meant that the South only had the option of civil war to impose their plan for nationwide slavery on the rest of the nation. Obviously, the South chose poorly and was pounded into submission. It is really no stretch to say that the Mormons caused the Civil War which caused the slaves to be freed. Would you rather believe the saccharine stories we were told in primary or would you like to know the truth that the Mormons caused Civil War by leaving the slavers no other option?

    It is easy to show that every movement of the saints from the time they hit Missouri till they ended up in Utah was controlled by the desire of the proslavery political factions to destroy the Mormons. The major issue in the Civil War was whether the new territories would be slave or free. If they were slave, then the whole nation would go slave with no further conflict. A group of 30,000 Mormons was plenty enough to control the slavery status of any one of the territories or even all of the territories. 3000 people in Kansas was enough to make it a free state. If the Mormons went West as they planned, they would destroy the plans of the slavery movement. That is the reason they needed to be destroyed, and several attempts were made to do so. That is a very dangerous situation to be in, but the Saints got to Utah, with not a little help from their heavenly father, who wanted them to go to Utah even though the Saints did not want to go to Utah, and would only go there at the point of a gun. The Saints in Nauvoo sacrificed their prophet rather than leave as he tried to convince them to do. Since they would not leave of their own volition, they had to be driven out at the point of a gun. The Church would have been destroyed if it stayed in Nauvoo, but it could survive in Utah.

    If you think these are the ravings of a maniac, then I can assure you it is because you have never heard any of this in your history classes, and you probably never will, but it is true nonetheless.

    There is a great deal more to this tale, but perhaps this will give you a clue. Apparently it makes us feel better to think that we were persecuted for our unusual religion, rather than for some political position that is a derivative of the gospel. But that is the real world truth.

  28. Kent on August 22, 2011 at 1:56 am

    Steve, number 24. I now realize that I did not exactly answer your question. The Saints were heroes and stood firm for freedom when they needed to, and the blacks very directly benefited from the Saints’ fight for freedom. But it cannot exactly be said that the Saints had the exact public goals to do what they did. They were somewhat reluctant heroes, but heroes nonetheless. In fact, the Saints denied these “abolitionist” goals, even while they were carrying them out quite effectively without completely realizing it. Apparently that bit of vagueness was necessary to avoid their extermination.

    So, if you caused the Civil War, and had the southern states beaten to a pulp, and they realized that, and that’s where all the blacks were, how do you think the missionary work would go there in the southern states for the next 100 years? Mormon missionaries might sometimes survive going there to proselytize white people, but they would be killed for sure if they went there to proselytize blacks and give them the idea that they were just as good as any of the white folks – Ku Klux Klan, etc. After the South was beaten to a pulp a second time by the civil rights laws and actions (possible only because the Republicans vigorously supported civil rights laws, far more than the Democrats who were mostly against it) – calling out the National Guard to enforce desegregation, plus getting rid of all the Democrat governors who fought tooth and nail to maintain segregation – apparently then it was finally safe enough to proselytize blacks in the South or anywhere else without all the left-over Johnny Rebs trying to destroy the Church. The Church has to deal with social realities, even if we hate to admit that they even exist.

  29. Alison Moore Smith on August 22, 2011 at 2:19 am

    R. Gary #19:
    The “so what” would be to read the OP beyond the first two lines. :)

    The questions, that have been lost, were not about Huntsman or blacks, but about why LDS politicians aren’t reflexively asked about CURRENT gender discrimination in the church as they are about PAST racial discrimination.

  30. ceejay on August 22, 2011 at 2:19 am

    I would have asked Huntsman why he still affiliates himself with a church that doesn’t allow a man to be a Primary President.

    Also, the lack of democracy in the hierarchy might seem horrendous to those leery of “old boy networks.”

  31. Martin Holden on August 22, 2011 at 7:15 am

    Naismith number 4,
    In the Uk we have a traditional church service before we have the Temple sealing. Though one of my daughter-in-laws was given away by her aunt as no male family members were in attendance the bride will normally be given away by her father. Why shouldn’t he? It surely is not a case of ownership, though its historical origin may lie in that. If I had a daughter I would want to give her away. I would see it more as a last hug before my daughter left her family to start a new one. As a male I can never know what is like to have a baby inside me or to have that special close mother to child bond that comes from carrying and then breast feeding. No matter how much I think that is unfair it is no good complaining about it. Can’t us men have some privileges when it comes to our children with out being accused of gender discrimination.

    While I think the church could and should do more to make women feel involved and equal I am unclear in my own mind I as to how vital an issue this is. I realise it is a most important issue for many US members but is it only American sisters that have this concern? I certainly don’t see it in my stake neither am I aware of any non Americans posting on feminist issues. So is this a cultural issue? Or is it an issue for women brought up in the church as opposed to converts? Many converts are impressed with the way women participate giving talks, prayers etc. Or has feminism outside the states taken different routes. I have heard sisters say that they feel equal to men and why should they be bothered about minor issues of language or want positions in which they would have to give up more of their time. Or is it that in the rest of the world feminism is behind the US?
    Just wondering but I do think these are important questions which never get discussed

  32. Bob on August 22, 2011 at 9:17 am

    @Kent:
    I don’t wish to engage you on this post about the Civil War and early Mormon views or movements. But I think you are seeing things that just were not there. I can see you have done a lot of studying on this__so have I. I just don’t see the same happening that you do.

  33. Alison Moore Smith on August 22, 2011 at 10:39 am

    Martin Holden #31, having been blogging for LDS women for about 11 years (first on Meridian (!) and then on my own site (Mormon Momma)), I get massive amounts of email in addition to the comments that post on the blog and in the forum.

    From that experience I can tell you that there are lots of women who don’t care. My own mother was definitely one of them. Bright, well-spoken, educated, independent, she was baffled by my concerns — that began when I was four years old and told her I wanted dad to baptize me and her to confirm me, so she wouldn’t be “left out” (as she was at my sister’s baptism).

    Certainly culture does play a part. If you have been raised in a culture that requires women to be covered from head to toe and keep silent and be subservient to men, wearing a dress suit, no hat, and being one of the three female speakers (amidst 27 male speakers) seems like liberation. And from cultures where women aren’t allowed to pray or speak in church at all, being told that they can’t invite the spirit into a meeting but are allowed to close the meeting in prayer and aren’t allowed to be the “keynote” speaker — because they may need doctrinal correction — but are allowed to speak earlier in the meeting, may seem like a huge privilege. But coming from the position that men and women are partners, equal before God, etc., the discrepancies can be difficult to understand and troubling.

    Without question, there are women all over the world who are bothered by the exclusions. I don’t know that I’d call myself a feminist, in spite of my long-term concerns and questions, I don’t really care about the label. But I have always wanted answers and clarifications for things that don’t make sense to me. There are many, many, many women who have similar questions.

    One note: Unless you are in a position to be seen as highly sympathetic to women’s concerns about their “place” in the church, you are unlikely to hear anything from those who are concerned. Speaking out about the issue simply is not acceptable to a vast number of members. It is seen as being insubordinate, “speaking evil of the Lord’s annointed,” being unfaithful, etc. It’s not what a “good Mormon woman” does and can easily get you blackballed.

    You have to make a rather conscious decision to accept the consequences of speaking up — especially while using your real name and/or other obvious identifiers. Things change when you speak out.

    Last, the issues you mention have been discussed. There are posts here, at Mormon Momma, at FMH, and myriad other blogs that have discussed these issues for years.

    BTW, would you consider polyandry, enforced upon threat of rotting in hell, a “minor issue”?

  34. ron on August 22, 2011 at 11:28 am

    Of course the church was wrong, but it’s a complicated issue, and the longer the priesthood ban continued, the more complicated it became. I don’t criticize our leaders of the 19th or early 20th centuries because I think they operated with what they knew at the time.

    That said, I don’t think you can rule out the role of the individual who stands at the head of the church at any given time. And how that individual operates. Pres. Lee was clearly not amenable to change. Pres. Kimball, however, was.

  35. Martin Holden on August 22, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Thanks Alison,

    I am not suggesting that the concerns raised are not real I have read many blogs about these issues (unfortunately your links did not work) and I realise that they are a problem to many women. Neither would I suggest that I am well placed to be aware of such concerns I am probably not but I still wonder if it is a real concern to many sisters in the international church.

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t think changes should not be made. Even if it is a regional concern then something should be done so that sisters feel reached out too. I see no reasons why sisters cannot be ward clerks, executive secrataries, Sunday School Presidents; why sisters cannot offer, as they used, to blessings of faith etc. I would certainly like to see women spoken to as equal companions and associates to men and I am aware that issues of modesty etc are often portrayed in a sexist manner as if it never applies to men etc.etc.. We can do far more very simply to make women and everyone feel special and welcome and in my humble opinion should be doing.

    Are you really saying that women cannot open sacrament meeting with prayer or be the final speaker because I have never seen that. I don’t recall a sacrament meeting with all women speakers and the opening and closing prayers offered by women but that may have happened and certainly could here. I guess I’ll have to arrange a meeting along those lines. I know that our final speaker next Sunday is a sister.

  36. Alison Moore Smith on August 22, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Martin, I fixed the first link, sorry, the second worked for me.

    I don’t know if it’s a “real concern” to “many sisters” in the international church. I just know it’s a concern for many all over the world who contact me. And I think as women become more equal in the cultures in which they live, it seems to become more of an issue.

    Are you really saying that women cannot open sacrament meeting with prayer or be the final speaker because I have never seen that.

    It’s a long story. Please go to the link provided. There were periods where women were not allowed to pray by policy and periods where the policy allowed it, but practice often did not. It’s explained in detail at the link. A great deal was resolved by the even more clear new handbook. Cough cough. But I have yet to see a woman give a prayer in a session of general conference.

    To be clear, it’s not that I want to “feel special.” It’s that given all the exclusions, I would like to know what it is about being female that makes so many things unacceptable. Maybe I want to know that I’m not UNspecial.

    Do you remember the letter President Hinckley read from a young girl asking if women could go to the celestial kingdom? He seemed surprised that she would wonder. But do you realize that the scriptures are almost exclusively written to/about “men”? And even though we are told it means “mankind,” it doesn’t ALWAYS mean that — at least not in practice in the church.

    So how are we to know which scriptures are REALLY to all people and which are ONLY to men?

  37. Raymond Takashi Swenson on August 22, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Whatever the reason was for a policy denying priesthood ordination and temple ordinances to people of African descent, it was not a general belief in “white supremacy”, because the Church was actively proselyting American Indians and Polynesians from Utah from the 1850s forward, and announced a temple in Laie in 1915. Serious efforts in Latin America and in Japan began more than a century ago. These things were being done even though much of American society, and many of its laws, blatantly discriminated against those people.

    Saying that Utah was a “slave territory” means that the Federal government, under the influence of a Congress with many slave states, wanted to keep such western territories open for potential expansion of slavery. Most 19th Century Mormons were from the North and from Europe, without a heritage of black slavery. There were a few Mormons from the South who brought their slaves with them to Utah, some of whom were also baptized converts. I have never heard of anyone running a slave plantation in Utah or having slave auctions or importing slaves for sale in Utah. Most of the slavery in early Utah was practiced by certain Indian tribes, against captured members of other tribes.

    While I understand that there was some de facto discrimination by some businesses (sadly including the Hotel Utah), and that there were miscegenation laws prohibiting marriage between “different races”, there were never signs on the drinking fountains on Main Street back in the 1950s that barred “colored people” from drinking from them. There were no racially segregated schools. But some people would not rent a house to minority people, including Japanese-Americans. As far as I can tell, the level of discrimination, both official and private, was comparable to a lot of states outside the South. I don’t recall ever hearing a sermon on Sunday or in General Conference back then talking about the importance of denying the priesthood to blacks, though my memory is of course not comprehensive. I know that the Church stated it officially supported civil rights under the 1964 Federal law, which for the first time reached businesses and other non-government actors.

    I know there were individual members who were racist, like a person who objected when my father called a black woman in our ward to teach Sunday School. He told the objector that the person he called could be counted on to be prepared to teach every Sunday, while some other members (including the complainer) could not. I feel fairly confident that the number of LDS who still harbored such feelings by 1978 was vanishingly small.

    In 1974 President Kimball told the church that we needed to change our behavior as a people if we were going to get God’s help in opening the world to our missionaries. Most of that message was about members outside the US serving as missionaries, so that the surplus of missionaries from the US could go to open new countries. He clearly felt the need to take the gospel to American Indians and Latinos, and to other nations. He knew the priesthood restriction prevented building the Church in Africa. Part of his message in 1974 is that we members were holding back God’s work by our unwillingness to live the things we said we believe. If “the Church” was wrong about the priesthood restriction, I think it was a wrongness among the members of the Church, not something that can be blamed on the Brethren alone.

    Where this takes us on women being ordained to the priesthood, I have no idea. Valerie Hudson has an interesting essay on the new Square Two that suggests (as I read it) that priesthood helps men to qualify to be partners with women in the process of eternal progression, that it helps to balance the indispensable role of women. Hudson points to the contrast between Catholic and Mormon views on gender roles, that Catholics picture celibate malehood as the ultimate human condition (with even women losing their femaleness!), while we LDS teach that no eternal bachelor can fulfill God’s plan.

  38. Naismith on August 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    “In the Uk we have a traditional church service before we have the Temple sealing. Though one of my daughter-in-laws was given away by her aunt as no male family members were in attendance the bride will normally be given away by her father. Why shouldn’t he?”

    Because she is not his to give away!!!! She is adult and gets to choose for herself. The practice is infantilizing of grown women, and I’m glad it is not part of the temple ceremony.

    If you want to give her a last hug, give her a hug. Serve as a witness in the temple sealing.

    But the notion that anyone but the bride has a say in making the decision is repugnant. She is an adult and doesn’t need to lean on daddy to walk down an aisle or give permission for her decisions.

  39. Cynthia L. on August 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Interesting post, and interesting question about why the difference between how different kinds of discrimination are judged or emphasized by outsiders.

    However, I have to say, my dislike for the title overshadows most other thoughts and feelings about this post. Just seems like very bad form putting words in people’s mouths, especially when those words are potentially controversial, and especially when the changed quote is in the title with all the visibility that affords. If he had used “the church” in a previous sentence, and then “it” in a subsequent sentence, clearly indicating a direct substitution, then it might be justifiable to make such a substitution when quoting. But there was no noun explicitly provided here, and several different possibilities all seem equally plausible. For example, those outlined by ji above, who I though made an excellent point: “Isn’t there a difference between “[the practice] was wrong” and “[The Church] was wrong”? Mr. Huntsman seems to have suggested the former, but the poster here perhaps changed the meaning to the latter.”

  40. Cynthia L. on August 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    That doesn’t mean that I don’t think changes should not be made. Even if it is a regional concern then something should be done so that sisters feel reached out too. I see no reasons why sisters cannot be ward clerks, executive secrataries, Sunday School Presidents; why sisters cannot offer, as they used, to blessings of faith etc. I would certainly like to see women spoken to as equal companions and associates to men and I am aware that issues of modesty etc are often portrayed in a sexist manner as if it never applies to men etc.etc.. We can do far more very simply to make women and everyone feel special and welcome and in my humble opinion should be doing.

    Martin, I’m curious about this. You “see no reasons” why several changes can’t be made, you would “certainly like to see” other changes, you think we “can do far more.” So if addressing all these things that are very painful to women seems pretty obvious and not difficult, why do you think those steps aren’t being taken? What is holding us back?

    This isn’t a “gotcha” question, I just really wonder sometimes. It seems like “we” all know what bugs women, but nothing ever changes. Sometimes, to me, that lack of change hurts more than the original offense. If somebody steps on my foot by mistake, it hurts but I don’t take it personally. If they are well aware that they’ve stepped on my foot and then they don’t move, it starts to feel like a real slight. Maybe the problem is that people with real decision-makers aren’t aware? Then what is wrong with our organizational structure and flow of knowledge that there can be such glaring blind spots, where “everybody” knows something, except the very people able to fix it?

  41. Cynthia L. on August 22, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Speaking of which, here’s a concrete thing—the prayers at General Conference. October is just a few weeks away! There just has to be SOMEBODY reading this blog who is a neice or nephew or grandchild of somebody in the 1st Presidency or Q12. We need you! Call up your relative and point out that no woman has ever prayed in General Conference! I am 99% sure that nobody in charge has ever even noticed this! Speaking for myself, I’m kind of at a point where if this doesn’t get fixed in the next conference or two, some kind of fuse in me is going to blow. I realize this reflects (poorly on me) a certain amount of instant gratification and impatience, but my goodness, it’s such an easy fix!! We can do it! I have faith in us!

  42. Rameumptom on August 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    On the priesthood ban, I agree with Alison that it was probably racism that was justified by a twisting of the scriptures, and then dragged on. It did protect the Church from having to face trials from both polygamy and the black issue over the years. I imagine it would have slowed our baptisms down immensely in the South and other areas. Not until the Saints and the world were ready did the Lord lift the ban.

    As for women and the priesthood. I believe that when women and men are sealed in the temple, together they receive the highest priesthood: the Patriarchal Priesthood. It is one that is shared. Neither can use it without the other. Neither can be exalted without the other. Neither can become gods without the other.

    That said, I think we will find that there are roles in the priesthood, even as there are in the AP/MP today. I think women’s roles will expand as we get to the point where men and women are more equally viewed and the Church and world are ready for such changes. That said, the Lord can do whatever he wants. I for one, will probably never deliver a baby, so can never understand what that would be like for a woman. I imagine it is much like home teaching, both a pain and a joy.

  43. Cynthia L. on August 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    “I for one, will probably never deliver a baby, so can never understand what that would be like for a woman.”

    So can women who were born without a uterus, or for other reasons will also definitely never deliver a baby, can they get the priesthood?

  44. glass ceiling on August 22, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Interesting post.

    I lean with Kent and history on the issue of Black’s and the priesthood. I will add that in the beginning, maybe it initially had something to do with the fact that Mormons were at risk for extermination, and Black’s were getting lynched all the time. Why give them twice the possibly of getting killed? This is bit justification of why it lasted until ’78…but the South was no Boone for Black’s then either.

    Remember, Mormons have been considered a wiercomplaint for most of their existence. The pro-slave Baptist / Church of Christ South hated us. Our road to Southern acceptability has been arduous and carefully trod. At tectonic-plate speed. Has it sometimes been worthy of criticism? Sure. America is guilty all the way around …nay, the entire western world. I love how Mormon behavior is the subject of choice lately (as I’d we invented racism in America . )

    With regard to women and the priesthood, this is an issue to take up with God, not Church leadership. It’s like taking a stand against nonmembers not being allowed into the temple marriage ceremony, or wine drinking being a sin or not. It’s doctrinal. Check your faith.

    If you really want a story of a disenfranchised sub-group in the Church, try the age 30+ singles. Now they have reason to complain.

  45. glass ceiling on August 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    This is not justification for why it lasted until ’78. Sorry, donavan phone.

  46. glass ceiling on August 22, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    This is not justification for why it lasted until ’78. Sorry, on a phone.

  47. DavidH on August 22, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    “wine drinking being a sin or not. It’s doctrinal.”

    Not sure what “doctrinal” means in this context. If it means, the Brethren have so declared, and that means God has so declared that this is the standard, then the statement is correct. But if it means that there is an eternal, unchangeable principle against drinking [fermented] wine, then I regret that you and I have a different understanding of section 89, LDS Church history, and the Hebrew Bible and New Testament.

  48. Manuel on August 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    My answers to your questions are yes, yes, yes, and yes.

    You can add historical reasons. The Church was openly vocal against the Civil Rights Movement, and also against the Equal Rights Movement. The Civil Rights Movement was successful and racism became “polytically incorrect.” Racists then began to look not only stupid, uneducated and the biggoted, but they also became at odds with the clear direction the nation was going. It became clearer that racism and bigotry are distinct and socially acknowledged evils. It pains me to think if the movement would have failed and those racists (including LDS leaders of the time) would have had their way, we would still live in a segregated society.

    Not so with the equal rights movement. Since discrimination against women has been much slower to become a clear “social evil” due to the lack of major political reforms, we as a society have had more time to tame the sentiment and create a big pile of hogwash to minimize and dismiss said discrimination. The LDS Church has been rather successful at this and we can often hear leaders say there is no such thing as “sexism” in the Church, that women are equals with men, etc, etc, etc. Add to this the many women in the Church that support those statements. They are keen in creating their own definition of equality and their own definition of dicrimination.

    But yes to all other questions. Religions that allow for female priesthood are rather rare and unorthodox. And yes, gender differences are definitely socially accepted as more meaningful than color/race/ethnic background. Like I said, we as a society haven’t reached the same level of awareness about sexism as we have racism.

  49. Manuel on August 22, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    That was a super fast type so pardon the horrible typos!!! :P

  50. glass ceiling on August 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    David,

    You know what mean. The “Brethren ” also said the Trinity was bunk because of JS’s First Vision. The point is that men have the priesthood and women don’t. It was originated on prophecy, not philosophy or vote. If you are Mormon it us part of the package. Accept it or don’t. But take it to God who commanded it. If the prophet gives the priesthood to women against God’s will, he ceases to be a prophet. For those which don’t believe that, I suggest you rethink it or start another church.

    But is there sexism in the Church otherwise? Probably. Is it worth taking up as a cause? Sure. It just becomes caricature when the priesthood comes up alongside it though, IMO.

  51. Sam Brunson on August 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm

    It was originated on prophecy, not philosophy or vote.

    I’ve actually never heard anybody cite a revelation that required a male-only priesthood. You can get there from some not-horrible interpretation of scripture, and there’s a fair amount of Christian tradition that would back you up. But I certainly can’t point to a revelatory origin of the male-only priesthood.

    That’s not to say it isn’t divinely instituted, or that it’s incorrect. But the fact that women not having the priesthood is generally explained in terms of motherhood (a weak explanation, but a common one) rather than God’s revealed will suggests that there isn’t a specific revelation grounding the practice.

  52. glass ceiling on August 22, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Sam,

    Is the Gospel on trial here?

  53. Manuel on August 22, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    glass ceiling,

    the “Apocryphal Gospel According to Glass Ceiling” would certainly be on trial…

    There are many aspects about our religious practice which are not necessarily part of “the revealed gospel.” I am afraid, you are miscategorizing one of them and are safely assuming it is part of the “revealed gospel” when in reality it isn’t. Therefore, the gospel itself is not on trial but mysoginous interpretations thereof should be put to the test.

  54. Martin Holden on August 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    OK since FHE I have now tried twice to respond on my wife’s laptop and deleted my responses both times by mistake. So as I need to get to bed can I briefly say:

    Cynthia I agree pretty well with all your comments about the blog and my points. I did do a long response but that will have to await another day if I am lucky. Tomorrow i have an 11 hour workday and then church meetings in the evening

    Naismith I am sorry but I think you are trying to impose your cultural values on others. It is women who plan their wedding. The bride is the one who chooses if she is given away and by whom. The truth of the matter is that most brides want to be given away by their fathers and most fathers want to give their daughters away. There is no demand to do away with the giving away because it is simply not seen in the way you perceive it.

    Alison, I think all women have the right to feel special and the church has a responsibility to make them feel so. The crucial word here is “all” because I think many women don’t have the issues you and others in America do. My wife would certainly disagree with you, and with me to that matter on the importance of these issues. She thinks simply that the leadership is inspired and that we are lucky to be members of the church and that is all that matters. I hope that the changes you want will come about. I am sure that they will. It may take longer than you and I want but I am certain that it will happen but I also think that there are so many different views that the leadership cannot keep everybody happy.

    Well I am off to bed. God bless you all.

  55. Naismith on August 22, 2011 at 5:40 pm

    “Naismith I am sorry but I think you are trying to impose your cultural values on others.”

    Not at all. If other women want to be treated as chattel who can be bought with eight cows or whatever, that is up to them.

    “It is women who plan their wedding.”

    And it is dads who pay for it. This is often a cost-benefit analysis.

    “The truth of the matter is that most brides want to be given away by their fathers and most fathers want to give their daughters away.”

    Do you have data to back that up?

    Also, I am curious that in the UK there is a church service before the temple sealing. Why is that allowed in the UK but not the US?

  56. glass ceiling on August 22, 2011 at 6:51 pm

    Manuel,

    I realize that it makes you feel cool and self-important and whatnot to say that to me. But the fact is that until God reveals female priesthood to the prophet, it’s probably not gonna happen. Same -sex marriage can be seen the same way.

    Would you ever have assumed before the Proclamation on the Family was written that just because JS never wrote down that we believe “one man one woman ” policy, that same-sex marriage was somehow on the table? That’s precisely what you are doing with the female priesthood issue.

  57. Chino Blanco on August 22, 2011 at 8:27 pm

    Didn’t the LDS church try to ban oral sex but then reversed itself quickly once it became apparent the members resented the policy? Strange how fast things can change when members actually express an opinion.

    Posts like these provide a pretty good clue as to why most exmormons become atheists. The Mormon God is either awfully capricious or just plain annoyed that He has to bother with this planet.

  58. Manuel on August 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Well, I always feel cool and self-important…

    I am not arguing with you whether God has revealed to a prophet whether they can hold the priesthood or not. I am arguing with you that simply because women today don’t hold the priesthood, it doesn’t mean this is a revealed or even essential part of the gospel; just like wearing white shirts and ties is not a revealed part of the gospel.

    Furthermore, per certain elements found in temple ceremonies, it is clear the priesthood is not limited to men only. I am sorry if I offended you, but I stand by my point that what you call “the gospel” is your own interpretation which is a result of your own limited understanding and the traditions of our culture.

  59. glass ceiling on August 22, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Manual,

    Yep. My limited understanding. Me, most Mormons, and all of Church leadership both dead and alive. You are right Manual, it’s us with the problem. Not you.

  60. Thomas Parkin on August 22, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    “The Mormon God is either awfully capricious or just plain annoyed that He has to bother with this planet.”

    Or just hands off, with reason.

  61. Kent on August 22, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Has anyone seen the movie “Hercules and the Amazon Women” or read the Wikipedia description of it? — Gender wars are as old as time, it seems. Did the Church invent this problem? :-)

  62. Alison Moore Smith on August 22, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    Raymond #37:

    Valerie Hudson has an interesting essay on the new Square Two that suggests (as I read it) that priesthood helps men to qualify to be partners with women in the process of eternal progression, that it helps to balance the indispensable role of women.

    I haven’t read the essay, but on the surface, I really hate presentations that try to compensate for one gender reigning supreme by making the other reign supreme. I sincerely don’t think that men have the priesthood because otherwise they couldn’t possibly be spiritual — or any of the other twists on that thought. I really hope we are real eternal partners.

    Naismith #38:

    Because she is not his to give away!!!! She is adult and gets to choose for herself. The practice is infantilizing of grown women, and I’m glad it is not part of the temple ceremony.

    I’m not really repulsed by the tradition BECAUSE it’s just a tradition. I know that it stems from a practice and belief that men owned women and they could be given to other men, but in the vast majority of cases in civilized countries it doesn’t mean what it used to mean.

    I’m honestly more bothered by the differences between what men and women promise each other in the temple — because I DO think it means something — than I am by a father “giving away” a bride, when everyone knows that she chose the groom, she wants to get married, she asked her dad to “give her away,” she could change her mind, and he dad is probably lucky if the guy asked for his blessing.

  63. Kent on August 23, 2011 at 2:59 am

    This discussion has led me to think of insane alternatives to the current gender wars. Since there are so many women, apparently, who are dissatisfied with the options available to them, perhaps we ought to follow some of the world’s experience, using current technology with our own adaptation, and populate the Church based on virgin births by unmarried women. If the women are better students and more educated than most of the men, and thus intimidate (and perhaps scorn) a great number of the men in this information age (no industry or farming activities where male physical attributes are somewhat useful), perhaps we can just mostly dispense with the men except for certain impersonal technical/scientific purposes related to birth. Young men can be left to their video games, and the women can get on with the serious business of raising up the next generation without all the bother of interacting with men. This would “raise up a righteous generation” without all the legal, social, and emotional problems of the old polygamy ways of getting there. :-)

  64. Kent on August 23, 2011 at 3:01 am

    –resend with changes
    This discussion has led me to think of insane alternatives to the current gender wars. Since there are so many women, apparently, who are dissatisfied with the options available to them, perhaps we ought to follow some of the world’s experience, using current technology with our own adaptation, and populate the Church based on virgin births by unmarried women. If the women are better students and more educated than most of the men, and thus intimidate (and perhaps scorn) a great number of the men in this information age (no industry or farming activities where male physical attributes are somewhat useful), perhaps we can just mostly dispense with the men except for certain impersonal technical/scientific purposes related to birth. Young men can be left to their video games, and the women can get on with the serious business of raising up the next generation without all the bother of interacting with men. This would “raise up a righteous generation” without all the legal, social, and emotional problems of the old marriage or even polygamy ways of getting there. :-)

  65. Alison Moore Smith on August 23, 2011 at 3:26 am

    Cynthia L #39:

    … my dislike for the title overshadows most other thoughts and feelings about this post. Just seems like very bad form putting words in people’s mouths…But there was no noun explicitly provided here, and several different possibilities all seem equally plausible.

    As I said above, I don’t see a substantive difference between “the church was wrong” and “the practice was wrong.” The church — as a nonliving entity (“true and living” aside) — can only be wrong in the sense that it’s practices and polices — as determined by it’s leaders — are wrong. (And it can only be right and true in the opposite sense.)

    #40

    Then what is wrong with our organizational structure and flow of knowledge that there can be such glaring blind spots, where “everybody” knows something, except the very people able to fix it?

    Beautifully said! I have tried to express this for years, but never been able to say it so well. Thank you!

    #41
    Our heads will blow together. After dealing with this prayer issue for YEARS, the new handbook finally makes it incomprehensibly clear (to even the 70s old school prayer dilettante) that women could actually say opening prayers in meetings that men attended. But April saw the same old thing.

  66. Alison Moore Smith on August 23, 2011 at 3:42 am

    Rameumptom #42:

    I for one, will probably never deliver a baby, so can never understand what that would be like for a woman.

    I for one, will probably never contribute half the DNA to a baby that causes someone else to gain 50 pounds, get stretch marks, hang over the toilet for three months, and then go through 24-36 hours of excruciating pain to bring into the world, so I can never understand what it would be like for a man. :)

    glass ceiling #44:

    With regard to women and the priesthood, this is an issue to take up with God, not Church leadership…It’s doctrinal. Check your faith.

    Like I said, asking the questions proves you have no faith. glass ceiling, could you point me to the doctrine, scripture, revelation that shows women cannot hold the priesthood?

    Of course the post didn’t question whether women could have the priesthood at all. Read it again.

    Manuel #48:

    Since discrimination against women has been much slower to become a clear “social evil” due to the lack of major political reforms, we as a society have had more time to tame the sentiment and create a big pile of hogwash to minimize and dismiss said discrimination.

    That’s a great observation. You’ll note that blacks got the vote about 50 years before women in America. They moved from being slaves to full citizens (at least by law) while women just kind of languished in the same spot.

    If history has any parallels, women will get the priesthood in about 2028. :)

  67. Alison Moore Smith on August 23, 2011 at 3:58 am

    Naismith #55:

    Also, I am curious that in the UK there is a church service before the temple sealing. Why is that allowed in the UK but not the US?

    When I lived in England (1983), engaged couples were married civilly locally (I lived in Leeds) and then traveled to London (generally by train) to be sealed. The reason I was given was that unmarried couples traveling together was “difficult.” In hindsight, it seems odd that traveling across the equivalent of Alabama would be seen as a big deal, when lots of US folks have to do it as well.

    The church allows this to occur in many countries, some based on legal marriage requirements, as well as other reasons.

    Given that having a civil marriage a day or so before a sealing is obviously not proscribed, I have often wondered why our leaders won’t simply allow Mormons in the US to do this. It would certainly solve the problem of excluding non-LDS family members from weddings.

    When my daughter was married last April, all of her siblings and most of her cousins were too young to attend, and a number of the groom’s family were not members. Would have been nice to have included them all.

    That’s as much catching up as I can do tonight. Thanks for the great comments so far. Will read more tomorrow. :)

  68. Chadwick on August 23, 2011 at 4:19 am

    Hi Allison:

    I hope you don’t mind me being rather cheeky for a moment, but as a man I too would like the church to acknowledge that I am not UNspecial as well.

    Sure, I have the Priesthood. And I mean no disrepect to the Priesthood. I’m honored to hold it. But sometimes the Elders in the church can feel neglected too. For example, the women have a special room to meet in every Sunday. I’m forced to sit upon a cold chair, in a drafty overflow with a basketball hoop over my head, chairs hanging upside down adorning the walls, talking over the intermediate hymn of another ward meeting behind a rather flimsy accordian door that normally gets opened at some point by some kid, with no place for my toddler to play (since I allow my wife to go to RS unfettered since she’s fettered all week long as it is) and I’m supposed to somehow feel the Holy Spirit? Or feel worthy of my Priesthood in this setting? I mean, how hard would it be for the church to re-do the building floor plans and add an extra room for the men?

    Now. I’m honored to hold the priesthood. But sometimes the weekly drudge of EQ is hard to overcome, given the above obstacles. It sure would be nice if someone offered me a nice chair, a carpeted floor for my rugrat to play on, and a basketball hoop-less room to worship Almighty God. And I really do mean that. But if given the option of a nice place of worship and the Priesthood, I guess I’d take the priesthood, but some Sundays I really wonder.

    About opening prayers, pretty common for the women in all the wards I’ve attended. Is it possibly your example is an anomaly to some degree? As far as General Conference goes, if it makes you feel better, I never listen to the prayers anyway. For some reason I can’t explain, I feel silly folding my arms in front of the TV. I usually turn off the program during the closing hymn.

  69. Martin Holden on August 23, 2011 at 7:28 am

    Hi I am having a quick lunch so I thought I’d briefly respond to 55 and 67 about marriages outside North America. In most of the world a marriage has to be a public ceremony to be legal, as temple ceremonies are private and only open to recommend holders they are not regarded as legal marriages. To be legal we have to have a civil ceremony viz. a church wedding in the chapel which is very traditional and like other faith weddings and then members go to the temple to be sealed asap. In most cases this will be the same day though as I live in the middle of the Irish Sea that is not possible. I got married on the 1st Nov and was sealed to my gorgeous wife on the 5th. I have a son who got married on the saturday before christmas and then had to wait for the temple to reopen and was sealed on the first day possible in the Jan. We get the best of both worlds. Non Lds family members get to attend a church wedding and are happy and we still get the temple sealing. Personally I think members in Canada and the US should have the same opportunity.

  70. Naismith on August 23, 2011 at 7:40 am

    “When I lived in England (1983), engaged couples were married civilly locally (I lived in Leeds) and then traveled to London (generally by train) to be sealed.”

    Oh, sure, I understand that. It was the same when I lived in Germany, where the only legally recognized marriages were performed civilly. I attended one of those, and there was no ceremony that would involve the dad. Just showing up at the Rathaus (city hall), having a functionary go over paperwork, and witnesses signing. It was a lot like our trip to pick up the marriage license in Provo with the difference being that in Germany they were already married when the last document was stamped.

    The idea of having a church service first where dad gives the bride away seems to fly in the face of the handbook instructions that a ring exchange or other meeting “should not appear to replicate any part of the marriage ceremony, and the couple should not exchange vows.”

    Alison wrote,
    “The church allows this to occur in many countries, some based on legal marriage requirements, as well as other reasons.”

    I’d be interested in knowing what the “other reasons” are, because I think a lot of families are like Alison’s and would like more family involvement.

    I’ve been to a lot of LDS civil marriages, mostly because my husband performed them and in one case an extended family member married a new convert. In none of those ceremonies did anyone give the bride away.

  71. Naismith on August 23, 2011 at 7:41 am

    Thanks for the explanation–obviously I was writing when I should have been reading.

  72. glass ceiling on August 23, 2011 at 9:24 am

    Alison,

    I have no problem with the notion of women getting the priesthood. I just know that they do not now have it as of yet. Nor do I think they will get it based upon a perceived equality issue. It would have to be seen as necessary to Church leadership, which could happen.

    I have no scripture to justify current practice. But there are other things we do that are not in scripture, but I don’t have a list.

  73. Kristine on August 23, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Someone please, please tell me #68 is a joke.

  74. John Taber on August 23, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I’m pretty sure #68 was a joke, but I can relate to it.

  75. Jax on August 23, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    We had Stake Conference last week. Elder Christofferson of the 12 was presiding. He had us open to Moses 6 during one of the trainings. Verses 59-60 talk about water, blood, and spirit.

    He taught about the correlation between those three elements in the processes of ‘Birth’ and ‘Re-Birth’. He said, “Birth and Rebirth are our two most important objectives”. The transfer of life to mortality, and its successul transfer into post-mortality need to be our chief concerns.

    He then asked, “Who is primarily involved in the transfer of life into mortality? In the birthing process?” Then answer of course is women. They are primarily responsible for one of the two great transformation we make. And then he asked, “Who is primarily involved in re-birth {ordinances}?” The answer is men. They are primarily responsible for the other major transformation we make. Now there is some male involvement in birth, and some female involvment in re-birth, but mostly each sex has nothing to do with the others part of the process.

    Now he didn’t say it, but I inferred that he was teaching us this in answer to the female priesthood question. That they have the primary role in one transition, and men have the primary role for the other – and that for either sex to try to usurp that responsibility from the other is foolhardy. If you only consider the post-birth status of women, you could say it is ‘unfair’ that they don’t have the priesthood. But when you look at the whole plan, starting from pre-mortality, then women has just as important a role as the men.

  76. Cynthia L. on August 23, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    “But if given the option of a nice place of worship and the Priesthood, I guess I’d take the priesthood, but some Sundays I really wonder.”

    If the restoration of the priesthood power of God is only just barely preferable to junky, but padded, folding chairs in a tacky carpet-walled room to dear Chadwick, it seems clear that his best option is to leave the church entirely in favor of the gorgeous marble and gold-encrusted trappings of the Catholic church downtown.

    We can only hope John Taber is right.

  77. Cynthia L. on August 23, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    “But when you look at the whole plan, starting from pre-mortality, then women has just as important a role as the men.”

    Except single or infertile women, who are truly pointlelss?

  78. Bob on August 23, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    Cynthia L.,
    Then are men who don’t hold the Priesthood on the earth also pointless?

  79. Gagged Maggot on August 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    My maggot just gagged.

    Only when you equate priesthood with motherhood, Bob, the way so many MEN do. A man doesn’t have to hold the priesthood to father children, more’s the pity. A man doesn’t even have to have a brain to do that.

  80. glass ceiling on August 23, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    I feel Cynthia’s pain. For all the rhetoric the Church delivers on the priority of eternal marriage, we sure have a long way to go as far as creating a functional program to help make that possible for people over age 30. And so it goes.

  81. Bob on August 23, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Gagged Maggot:
    I do not equate the priesthood with motherhood (or fatherhood). But I think the Church does and states that. I think as many Mormon women as Mormon men also see it that way.

  82. Peter LLC on August 23, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    Given that having a civil marriage a day or so before a sealing is obviously not proscribed, I have often wondered why our leaders won’t simply allow Mormons in the US to do this.

    Well, one reason might be that in the US, a temple marriage is a bona fide marriage, while in the European countries that only recognize civil marriage it is not.

    For what it’s worth, members of other denominations in Europe also perform the civil marriage before marrying in the church.

  83. Kaimi Wenger on August 23, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Kent’s version of LDS history vis-a-vis Blacks is factually incorrect.

    I have discussed the early church history on this blog in detail.

    The church had a better record than some other religious groups, but it was not a particularly good overall record, and the church was absolutely *not* “the best friend Blacks ever had.”

    Joseph Smith publicly opposed the abolitionist movement in statements to church members. He later adopted a sort of “soft” abolition during his presidential run.

    It is true that anti-Mormon acts were driven in instances by perceptions that the church was too Black-friendly. William W. Phelps published an editorial in The Morning and Evening Star suggesting that free Blacks could move to Missouri. This created lots of hostility towards the church among slavery supporters in Missouri.

    However, the Morning and Evening Star published a follow up retracting that editorial.

    And of course, when Utah entered the union as a territory, it came in as a “popular sovereignty” territory — that is, its status on slavery would depend on local vote. Brigham Young then personally spoke to the Utah legislature urging them to adopt a slave code, and they did. Utah was a slave territory from that time until slavery was abolished in the territories during the Civil War.

    Church leaders did some good things on race. The LDS church certainly has a better record than the major Protestant denominations, which were actively involved in creating a pro-slavery theology. (See my discussion at http://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2007/05/race-and-the-church-part-i/ ).

    However, it is ludicrous to assert that the LDS church was the best friend Blacks ever had. The word you are looking for there, at least among largely white denominations, is Quaker. The Quakers — who were actively involved in the abolitionist movement — were the best friends that Blacks had, really no question about it.

  84. Kaimi Wenger on August 23, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    The Joseph Smith letter on abolition is from 1836. It was originally printed in the church-owned _Messenger and Advocate_. It was then reprinted in the official _History of the Church_. It’s at HC volume 2, starting at page 436. This is available from a number of websites, including the BYU website at http://byustudies2.byu.edu/hc/hcpgs/hc.aspx . It’s specifically at http://byustudies2.byu.edu/hc/2/32.html (you have to scroll down a bit).

    The letter clearly argues against abolition as a Northern imposition on Southern people. Joseph writes that “I do not believe that the people of the North have any more right to say that the South shall not hold slaves, than the South have to say the North shall.” He also writes that slavery is authorized by scripture, and cites several scriptures to support this. And he reiterates that the church is not encouraging slaves to seek their freedom, but rather for masters to treat their slaves kindly.

    His views changed in the early 1840s, as he adopted a sort of soft abolitionist position in which the government would end slavery by a mass purchase of slaves from slaveholders.

  85. Kaimi Wenger on August 23, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    The text of the original Phelps piece, the angry anti-Mormon manifesto that followed, and the official retraction, is also all available in the History of the Church. This is available in print or online (at http://byustudies2.byu.edu/hc/1/29.html among other places).

    The Phelps piece reads:

    To prevent any misunderstanding among the churches abroad, respecting free people of color, who may think of coming to the western boundaries of Missouri, as members of the Church, we quote the following clauses from the laws of Missouri:

    “Section 4.—Be it further enacted, that hereafter no free negro or mulatto, other than a citizen of someone of the United States, shall come into or settle in this state under any pretext whatever; and upon complaint made to any justice of the peace, that such person is in his county, contrary to the provisions of this section, if it shall appear that such person is a free negro or mulatto, and that he hath come into this state after the passage of this act, and such person shall not produce a certificate, attested by the seal of some court of record in someone of the United States, evidencing that he is a citizen of such state, the justice shall command him forthwith to depart from this state; and in case such negro or mulatto shall not depart from the state within thirty days after being commanded so to do as aforesaid, any justice of the peace, upon complaint thereof to him made may cause such person to be brought before him and may commit him to the common goal of the county in which he may be found, until the next term of the circuit court to be held in such county. And the said court shall cause such person to be brought before them and examine into the cause of commitment; and if it shall appear that such person came into the state contrary to the provisions of this act, and continued therein after being commanded to depart as aforesaid, such court may sentence such person to receive ten lashes on his or her bare back, and order him to depart the state; and if he or she shall not depart, the same proceedings shall be had and punishment inflicted, as often as may be necessary, until such person shall depart the state.

    [Page 378]

    “Sec. 5.—Be it further enacted, that if any person shall, after the taking effect of this act, bring into this state any free negro or mulatto, not having in his possession a certificate of citizenship as required by this act, (he or she) shall forfeit any pay, for every person so brought, the sum of five hundred dollars, to be recovered by action of debt in the name of the state, to the use of the university, in any court having competent jurisdiction; in which action the defendant may be held to bail, of right and without affidavit; and it shall be the duty of the attorney-general or circuit attorney of the district in which any person so offending may be found, immediately upon information given of such offenses to commence and prosecute an action as aforesaid.”

    Slaves are real estate in this and other states, and wisdom would dictate great care among the branches of the Church of Christ on this subject. So long as we have no special rule in the Church, as to people of color, let prudence guide, and while they, as well as we, are in the hands of a merciful God, we say: Shun every appearance of evil.

    Not really encouraging Blacks to come to the state; but suggesting that, if they did come, they should be careful.

    The retraction reads:

    “Having learned with extreme regret, that an article entitled, “Free People of Color,” in the last number of the Star, has been misunderstood, we feel in duty bound to state, in this Extra, that our intention was not only to stop free people of color from emigrating to this state, but to prevent them from being admitted as members of the Church.

    [Page 379]

    On the second column of the one hundred and eleventh page of the same paper, may be found this paragraph:—”Our brethren will find an extract of the law of this state, relative to free people of color, on another page of this paper. Great care should be taken on this point. The Saints must shun every appearance of evil. As to slaves, we have nothing to say; in connection with the wonderful events of this age much is doing towards abolishing slavery, and colonizing the blacks in Africa.

    We often lament the situation of our sister states in the south, and we fear, lest, as has been the case, the blacks should rise and spill innocent blood, for they are ignorant, and a little may lead them to disturb the peace of society. To be short, we are opposed to having free people of color admitted into the state; and we say, that none will be admitted into the Church; for we are determined to obey the laws and constitutions of our country, that we may have that protection which the sons of liberty inherit from the legacy of Washington, through the favorable auspices of a Jefferson and Jackson.

    The HC contains two footnotes here, which read:

    6. This article, “Free People of Color,” referred to in the Prophet’s History, but not quoted in extenso anywhere by him, is here given entire, and is followed with The Evening and Morning Star extra, published on the 16th of July, 1833. The importance of these documents justifies their introduction in this manner. It will be observed that the mob in their manifesto charge that the Saints in the first article in question, “Invite free negroes and mulattoes from other states to become ‘Mormons,’ and remove and settle among us.” On this false accusation the mob pretended to found the following apprehensions: “This exhibits them in still more odious colors. It manifests a desire on the part of their society, to inflict on our society an injury that they know would be to us entirely unsupportable, and one of the surest means of driving us from the country; for it would require none of the supernatural gifts that they pretend to, to see that the introduction of such a caste among us would corrupt our blacks, and instigate them to bloodshed.”
    The publication of the article, “Free People of Color” completely refutes the false accusation of the mob against the Saints.

    7. This “Extra,” as soon as the brethren learned what construction was being put upon the article “Free People of Color,” was printed in the form of a handbill and circulated as promptly as possible. In it, however, the editor of the Star goes too far when he says that no free people of color “will be admitted into the Church.” Such was never the doctrine or policy of the Church. Indeed in the article “Free People of Color,” the editor himself had said: “So long as we have no special rule in the Church as to free people of color, let prudence guide.” And again, in the “Address of the Elders stationed in Zion to the Churches Abroad,” published in the July number of the Star, and also found on page 379 of this volume, occurs the following: “our brethren will find an extract of the law of this state relative to free people of color on another page of this paper. Great care should be taken on this point. The Saints must shun every appearance of evil. As to slaves we have nothing to say. In connection with the wonderful events of this age, much is doing towards abolishing slavery, and colonizing the blacks in Africa.” This, with the passage from the article “Free People of Color,” is quoted to show that the Church had formulated no doctrine or policy with reference to slaves or free people of color; and in forming his judgment of this matter the reader must remember that the statement about not admitting such people into the Church is merely the view at that time of the editor of the Star, and by no means represents the policy of the Church. As a matter of fact there were very few, if any, people of color in the Church at that time. The “fears” of the Missourians on that head were sheer fabrications of evil-disposed minds.

    Finally, the HC prints the text of the mob threats, which were indeed partly based on the perception that the church was in favor of racial equality. The Mob Manifesto complains about LDS theology and culture, and state among other things:

    More than a year since, it was ascertained that they had been tampering with our slaves, and endeavoring to sow dissensions and raise seditions amongst them. Of this their “Mormon” leaders were informed, and they said they would deal with any of their members who should again in like case offend. But how spacious are appearances. In a late number of the Star, published in Independence by the leaders of the sect, there is an article inviting free negroes and mulattoes from other states to become “Mormons,” and remove and settle among us. This exhibits them in still more odious colors. It manifests a desire on the part of their society, to inflict on our society an injury that they know would be to us entirely insupportable, and one of the surest means of driving us from the country; for it would require none of the supernatural gifts that they pretend to, to see that the introduction of such a caste amongst us would corrupt our blacks, and instigate them to bloodshed.

  86. Jax on August 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    Except single or infertile women, who are truly pointlss?

    Except that more women participate in their role than men do in theirs. Women don’t have to be LDS do they, but men have to be members and in good standing. So a tiny fraction of men get to participate in their role in the plan, but almost all women do. So if any group was ‘pointless’ it would be that 49% of the human population that are non-mormon males.

    But this also emphasizes another aspect that some women resent, that motherhood is their intended purpose. They don’t like that idea; it seems they think this makes them no better than incubators. It doesn’t, but they complain it does because they don’t want to accept Divine direction for their lives. Well, take it up with God, because it’s His plan. At least your role is materially significant to human progession. The ordinances are purely symbolic, no actual need that any of it be done other than God said that it should be.

  87. glass ceiling on August 23, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Kaimi,

    Mormons were indeed an endangered species then. The slave question was the most explosive dividing element at the time, and had been since 1776. Within a generation of JS’s death, this country had been divided and shattered by it. The Church had to be careful of its rhetoric surrounding the issue, or else. They were commanded to be”wise as serpents and harmless as dove.” Tall order in any era.

    That was great information though. Thank you.

  88. Bob on August 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    glass ceiling:
    ” Mormons were indeed an endangered species then”. I don’t know. The Nauvoo Legion was a large force. How good it would have been in a fight is an unknown. But it was trained and organized. Strong enough for BY to ‘rent out’ 500 men to the Federal Army at a time of risk for his people.
    I guess we will always have the argument as to what the Civil War was about__States Rights or Slaves. But clearly there was a North Vs South before 1776. I think Mormons were more than willing to sit out of the War.

  89. glass ceiling on August 23, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    I also believe that JS was taking the least contentious middle -road with regard to slaves in the South. Outright abolition was seen just shy of freakdom even in the North. This was because most folks saw the real possibility of war unless things were handled very carefully.
    Lincoln himself expressed similar words during the months before the war.

    We have no parallel today. But we ourselves tend to speak very carefully to nonmembers who rope us into discussions of polygamy. Or gay marriage.

  90. glass ceiling on August 23, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Bob,

    I believe the war was primarily about slavery via the vehicle of State’s rights. (Really glad we lost slavery. Too bad we lost so many State’s rights with it. Seems suspicious. )

    500 men is a sizeable army. But Uncle Sam had that every which way.

  91. Kaimi Wenger on August 23, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Glass Ceiling,

    No doubt it was explosive. The question of slavery caused the Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian denominations each to split in two. Seriously. Ever wonder why there is a Southern Baptist Convention? Now you know. Slavery was a denomination-spliting issue for three of America’s most powerful churches.

    I’m not arguing that the church was obviously wrong to act as it did. The early church took a mostly pragmatic view. There were all sorts of practical reasons why they took that approach. I’m not saying that this was bad or inexcusable.

    I am saying that it’s misleading and wrong to paint a picture of the early church as a fearless band of abolitionist crusaders. They were not abolitionist crusaders (although, as I note above, the Missourian anti-Mormons *thought* the church was a bunch of abolitionist crusaders).

    The question of “should they have done more?” is a complicated one.

    Some other religious groups — notably the Quakers — did do more, participating very actively in the abolitionist movement. They suffered terribly for it. They were denounced and were the targets of organized violence in many places. It was not a costless position — and indeed, it was a very costly stance to take.

    That said, the early church took costly, socially problematic stances on several other high-profile issues, including plural marriage. The early church was willing to flaunt social norms on property in common, worship styles, and a variety of other things.

    The church’s devil-may-care attitude towards public disapproval in areas like polygamy and property in common suggests that they could have adopted abolitionism. For whatever reason, the early church chose to spend its flouting-social-norms capital on other projects.

  92. Kaimi Wenger on August 23, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Glass ceiling,

    The state’s rights argument has been thoroughly discredited. The South was not seeking to preserve their right to keep slave laws — they were trying to impose Fugutive Slave laws on Northern states. That is, Southern politicians were determined to violate the Northern states’ rights to ban slavery.

    There were a variety of issues which brought the sides to war, but this was really a key. If Southerners had really believed in the mantra of states rights and had agreed to let Northern states be free, it’s quite likely the war would not have taken place.

    For an excellent discussion of the topic, including some on-point quotes from documents of the time, see http://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths-about-why-the-south-seceded/2011/01/03/ABHr6jD_story.html

  93. glass ceiling on August 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Kaimi,

    You raise a good question. Hard to say without the original parties present. The strange things they were doing were by way of commandment. Maybe they were are their threshold of being the weird and contentious ones.

    I imagine that JS felt that there would be a war, and he had to prioritize. Put one subgroup above another. I agree wtih you about Mormons not being the hero of slaves. But I also think that Kent’s point of how the Mormon Exodus played politically into the situation is fascinating and sensible.

  94. Bob on August 23, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    glass ceiling:
    I think you will find the Federal Army was small in the 1840s. That’s why they needed to rent Mormon men__That’s why Johnton’s Army turned back from Utah. Before the Civil War, most fighting men were in a State Militia.
    Kaimi, I am not sure the reason for a Civil War was for the South to gain more over power over the North. When the South left the Union, it had no power whatsoever over the North. So it does not seem the South’s goal was to lessen the power of the North, but to increase it’s own power by being independent of the North(?)

  95. glass ceiling on August 23, 2011 at 8:51 pm

    I imagine it might be something like if we saw a war coming on our turf today. The LDS Church might put a lot on the back burner for a long spell. And their speeches may, in retrospect, seem biased and insensitive. But maybe I am reading too much into the possibility.

  96. Khemin on August 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    The Church acted then as it acts today… and as all man-made organizations do: in accordance with its understandings at the time.

  97. glass ceiling on August 23, 2011 at 9:27 pm

    Khemin,

    But the decisions of the Church 160 years ago often get judged on today’s sensibilities with limited historical prowess. Not speaking if anyone in this blog today. Rather those laying in wait.

  98. Bob on August 23, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    glass ceiling,
    I am not sure what you feel the Church put on the back burner?
    The Mexican War, the Gold Rush, the railroad, statehood? They were very active in all these things.

  99. glass ceiling on August 23, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Bob,

    Any other would -be priority.

  100. glass ceiling on August 23, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    I guess I am saying that JS found himself a spokesman for many an issue touching any aspect of the Church . With Mormons in potential danger, abolition rhetoric may not have been wise.

    Everyone has their priorities.

  101. Kent on August 23, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    I have this impulse to present a whole book full of information, but I am trying hard to resist that.

    The last article cited by Kaimi is fantastic — clear as a bell, and accurate on every point I know anything about.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths-about-why-the-south-seceded/2011/01/03/ABHr6jD_story.html

    This section of the article is of greatest interest to me (partly because it does a good job of helping me make my point succinctly):
    ——————————-
    5. The South couldn’t have made it long as a slave society.

    Slavery was hardly on its last legs in 1860. That year, the South produced almost 75 percent of all U.S. exports. Slaves were worth more than all the manufacturing companies and railroads in the nation. No elite class in history has ever given up such an immense interest voluntarily. Moreover, Confederates eyed territorial expansion into Mexico and Cuba. Short of war, who would have stopped them — or forced them to abandon slavery?

    To claim that slavery would have ended of its own accord by the mid-20th century is impossible to disprove but difficult to accept. In 1860, slavery was growing more entrenched in the South. Unpaid labor makes for big profits, and the Southern elite was growing ever richer. Freeing slaves was becoming more and more difficult for their owners, as was the position of free blacks in the United States, North as well as South. For the foreseeable future, slavery looked secure. Perhaps a civil war was required to end it.

    As we commemorate the sesquicentennial of that war, let us take pride this time — as we did not during the centennial — that secession on slavery’s behalf failed.
    ———————————

    The somewhat reluctant, but very significant role of the Church in expunging slavery from the United States could easily have speeded up the freeing of the slaves by 100 years and therefore speeded up their receiving the priesthood by 100 years. That seems like a significant contribution, hopefully justifying my saying that the Saints were great friends to the blacks. It seems very easy to expect another 30 to 40 years of slavery to transpire after 1862 before machines and industrialization made slave labor unprofitable. That industrialization process might have been greatly delayed if there were many millions of slaves available to compete with machines, pushing the number up closer to 100 years. (And what you do with double or triple the number of slaves when suddenly you have no work for them to do?)

    I see that someone else on this blog knows a little bit about some of the background I am referring to.
    Lincoln lived in constant fear that one of several avenues would make slavery legal nationwide, with the northern states finding themselves with no recourse. The Dred Scott case, written by a Supreme Court controlled by Southern justices, said, essentially, that a slave taken into a free state, and then returned to a slave state (Missouri, not by happenstance) did not thereby become a free man. This was a great blow to the northern states in their attempts to weaken and repel slavery. It would only be another small step for that same court to say that slaves could not be freed by law anywhere in the United States – essentially bringing slavery to the entire nation. The free-labor-greedy slavers even spoke of enslaving northern factory workers.

    Or, as another avenue to nationwide slavery, a handful of extra votes in the House of Representatives could have simply made slavery legal nationwide through legislation. These were the goals, plans, and conspiracies of the southern slavers. The Mormons were tangled up with these slavers at every point of their existence until after the Civil War. I think it would be a great “Indiana Jones” moment if someone could find the notes and correspondence of this murderous proslavery conspiracy. But if no one is looking for it, it is not likely to be found.

    It is hard to even comprehend the horrible things that could have happened to the United States and to the Mormons (some southern slavers thought Mormons would make good slaves) if the southern conspirators had accomplished their goal of nationwide slavery. And they came within a whisker of accomplishing that goal. The army that went to Utah was a very serious force. It consisted of about half of the US military at the time, and was made up largely of Southerners, although it had some northern officers. I believe it started out with 2500 well-armed men, with cannons, etc., plus many other people assisting as wagon drivers, etc. I have read other accounts that the Army was actually at least twice that big, perhaps because the wagon drivers and others were happy to join with the Army in furthering their proslavery cause. General Johnston was a slaveholder himself, holding property and slaves in Texas. If you read about his fanaticism in trying start a war to take over Utah and make it a slave state, complete with representatives to Congress (and naturally dispossessing and scattering and murdering the troublesome Mormons), you might guess that there were important agendas that went far beyond the public relations pablum which was fed to the world. If the Mormons were in rebellion, and thus could be deprived of their vote, then the Army itself held enough votes to do anything it thought necessary.

    Part of the logic of sending that Army out in the middle of nowhere, several months march from civilization, was to greatly weaken the northern forces in contemplation of a possible coming Civil War. Has anyone noticed how many top national leaders, cabinet officers, left Washington DC to become generals in the southern Army? Does it not seem strange that the head of the military (The War Department?) managed to send more military supplies to southern depots, including those in Texas, than they even had room to store? Somehow the level of conflict and treachery that preceded the Civil War has been almost completely expunged from our historical memories.

    By stopping that Army cold, the Mormons also stopped the march of the slavery advocates who were so close to controlling the entire nation that they could taste it. This was a “fiends of hell” situation, with much gnashing of teeth, I expect. Since the slavers could not complete their control of the House of Representatives, and thus could not quickly gain control of more congressional votes, their only alternatives were to consign themselves to keeping slavery only within the southern states, or attempt to take over the North itself, since they could not get the laws changed legally in their favor.

    As a very high-level summary, I see the whole process of the first 40 years of the Church’s existence as a “twofer” – the Lord used the slavery issue and its murderous proponents to get the Saints to Utah against their will, and then got rid of slavery through the instrumentality of those Mormons being in Utah. Pretty clever heavenly politicking, it seems to me. Perhaps it would be better if no one ever knew about any of these things, but, on the other hand, when the best argument we have for church behavior towards blacks is that “the Church was not as bad as other people,” it seems like we ought to look for another viewpoint. That is what prompted me to dig much deeper into the historical literature. Reading people’s words and public pronouncements can be helpful, but, usually, getting to the ground truth requires going much further, including watching everyone’s actions quite closely. We might ask ourselves how much of “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth” we are getting from our politicians today. There is no reason to believe speakers from the past were any more candid. They could lie then with even greater impunity than they do today, since they had nothing like the Internet to collect and sift information.

    As a last thought, saying that Utah was a “slave territory,” seems to me to go much too far. At most, I think we can say that slavery was legal in Utah, but not very welcome. Having 60 slaves in the entire territory does not make it sound like it was much of a “slave territory,” and, apparently, many of them were freed by their masters, and their “slavery” was mostly symbolic anyway. I assume that even if Utah had tried to say that, by law, any slave that came there was automatically freed, they would never have been able to make that stick. And it would only have caused the fiends of hell to rage that much more against the Mormons. The Dred Scott decision was issued on March 6, 1857, the same year (in the fall) that the Army left to go to Utah. I assume that would have neutralized any Utah effort to be a refuge for slaves who wished to be free.

    If Utah had become a state in 1847, as they requested, can anyone imagine that the Mormon-elected senators and representatives from Utah would have been proslavery and voted with the southern block? That is incomprehensible, and I assume that is one major reason why Utah was not granted statehood until a very long time after the slavery issue was settled.

  102. glass ceiling on August 24, 2011 at 2:52 am

    Kent,

    That was great. Good work! Someone should write a book.

  103. glass ceiling on August 24, 2011 at 3:43 am

    And convince a major publisher to print it so it gets read by Gentiles. It could happen. We are in Washington and on Broadway, after all.

  104. Chino Blanco on August 24, 2011 at 5:40 am

    The answer I’m comfortable with is that due to the racism of pretty much everyone at the time, the church might not have survived had blacks been treated equally by the already crazy, weirdo Mormons.

    Now I remember what this reminds me of: that Ursula K. Le Guin story. Apparently, Mormonism and Omelas share the same God.

  105. Chino Blanco on August 24, 2011 at 6:42 am

    Come to think of it, what’s the difference between A.M. Smith’s conception of God and that of island natives who appease their volcano god with the sacrifice of castaways?

  106. Al on August 24, 2011 at 7:23 am

    I wonder how many times these issues have been hashed out in the “bloggernacle”. I think someone should do a survey and distill the best comments and then post it somewhere where it won’t scroll off and then point it out to all those who would write another blog on the subject. If they can’t add anything they should consider the virtue of forbearance. After all we are Greeks here anxious to hear some new thing.

  107. Chino Blanco on August 24, 2011 at 7:55 am

    That’s a great idea, Al. I nominate you to head up the project. Here’s a fantastic first quote for your collection:

    “Romney opposes bigotry in self-defense, not in defense of others, which is to say that he does not really oppose it at all.”

  108. NateT on August 24, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Somehow Southern Baptists are never asked about racism in their church.

  109. Bob on August 24, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Kent: I have to disagree again. “Slavery was hardly on its last legs in 1860″. It was. My understanding is Slavery only saved the Southern owners about 10% over Share Cropping that replaced it. The railroad and Homestead Act greatly weaken the Slavery system. “King Cotton” became a less of a leading export.

    I don’t know how you say Johnton’s Army weaken the North when you also say it was made up mostly with Soutern men?

    The settlment of the West needed no Slaves. It was done by free land, not free labor. The only thing close to free labor was the Chinese worker. Mormons got their cheap labor from Europe by way of immigration .

  110. glass ceiling on August 24, 2011 at 10:30 am

    Bob,

    It is hard for me to believe that the South went to war for any other reason than to preserve slavery. Yet I am sure the planter class told the soldiers that they were fighting for the Constitution.

  111. glass ceiling on August 24, 2011 at 10:40 am

    And is it possible that Johnston had Southern men and Northern weapons ?

  112. glass ceiling on August 24, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Chino,

    Come to think of it, why didn’t the Mormons just take the South out with priesthood power? It would’ve freed the slaves and prevented the war all in one! Those inconsiderate, selfish, racist, revisionist, war-profiteering, wierdos!

  113. Bob on August 24, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    glass ceiling”
    In my mind, Johnton’s Army never had a change when the Mormons choose to attack Johnton’s supply lines far from Salt Lake. The supply line was too long, fixed by how an army needs to travel, and over a route that the Mormons knew like the back of their hands because of the years they had spent on it.

  114. glass ceiling on August 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Bob,

    Could be. The thing is, the history of the history of the war is scandalous too, and just as fascinating

  115. glass ceiling on August 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Bob,

    Could be. The thing is, the history of the history of the war is scandalous too, and just as fascinating

  116. Alison Moore Smith on August 24, 2011 at 6:02 pm

    Chadwick #68:

    I hope you don’t mind me being rather cheeky for a moment, but as a man I too would like the church to acknowledge that I am not UNspecial as well.

    My UK experience means cheekiness is always welcome. :)

    I realize that men can feel “neglected, too.” And I’d like to remove that. But in a patriarchal church I think the reality is kind of against you. :)

    P.S. Since the basketball courts are used as such almost exclusively by men (as a percentage of time), you get to sit with it over your head in church. (When are the building a scrapbooking room in every church??? I mean a room to do artful family history?)

    P.P.S. I’m glad you “allow” your wife to go to RS unfettered. But since she’s supposed to feel the Spirit while being fettered all week (and possibly covered in spit up), I think you can manage to overcome the spiritual blockage of the hoops. (Don’t men feel most spiritual in the woods and on a court anyway?) ;)

    P.P.P.S. The men do have an “extra room.” Or two. (1) The high council room, the bishop’s office. (Where is the RS President’s office? I sure needed one!) Oh, and that gymnasium thing. That you are now forced to use as a classroom. :)

    P.P.P.P.S. You’ll probably get soft chairs after your first episiotomy.

    P.P.P.P.P.S. Seriously, I don’t mind men having another room for their classes. In many wards I’ve been in, the high priests use the high council room — which is about the cushiest room in the building. Maybe the elders have to advance to get that privilege?

    About opening prayers, pretty common for the women in all the wards I’ve attended. Is it possibly your example is an anomaly to some degree?

    That’s discussed at some length in the comments to that post. In my completely unscientific research, I found that about 1/4 to 1/3 of the congregations followed the women-don’t-give-opening-prayers rule. As long as General Conference considers to exclude women from prayers, I think it will be extended to other conferences, meetings, etc.

  117. Alison Moore Smith on August 24, 2011 at 6:13 pm

    Al #106:
    Has the actual question of the OP been asked in another post you’re familiar with? If so, I’d be very interested in reading the responses.

  118. Chino Blanco on August 24, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    @112: Glass Ceiling- I’ll wade into the fever swamp of your historical revisionism once you’ve acknowledged that the Mormonism described by the OP bears a jarring resemblance to the village depicted in Shirley Jackson’s very famous short story “The Lottery” (the short film by the same name used to be required viewing in high school and is available on YouTube).

  119. Kaimi on August 24, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Kent,

    It is true that Brigham Young stated in his 1859 interview with Horace Greeley that Utah would not have been a slave state, because of its particular agricultural base. But this is hardly reassuring, especially in the context of the rest of the statements on slavery from that interview:

    H. G.—What is the position of your church with respect to slavery?

    B. Y.—We consider it of divine institution, and not to be abolished until the curse pronounced on Ham shall have been removed from his descendants.

    H. G.—Are any slaves now held in this territory?

    B. Y.—There are.

    H. G.—Do your territorial laws uphold slavery?

    B. Y.—Those laws are printed—you can read for yourself. If slaves are brought here by those who owned them in the states, we do not favor their escape from the service of those owners.

    H. G.—Am I to infer that Utah, if admitted as a member of the Federal Union, will be a slave state?

    B. Y.—No; she will be a free state. Slavery here would prove useless and unprofitable. I regard it generally as a curse to the masters. I myself hire many laborers, and pay them fair wages; I could not afford to own them. I can do better than subject myself to an obligation to feed and clothe their families, to provide and care for them in sickness and health. Utah is not adapted to slave-labor.

    (The entire interview is available in a number of places online, such as http://www.yosemite.ca.us/library/greeley/brigham_young.html )

  120. Kaimi on August 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    Err, NateT? People discuss Southern Baptist racism, all the time. I’ve discussed it in some detail on this blog.

    Also significant is that the Southern Baptist Convention has issued an official apology for its prior racism and for its views on slavery.

    (See http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=899 ).

  121. glass ceiling on August 24, 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Well whatdya do with that?

  122. glass ceiling on August 24, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    Chino,

    Wha?

  123. glass ceiling on August 25, 2011 at 12:02 am

    I guess one way to look at it is that BY was a product of his times and peers. Its not a showstopper for me. Although it doesn’t give me great joy.

  124. Kaimi on August 25, 2011 at 12:19 am

    That’s one of the most common potential explanations, GC. (It’s certainly better than alternatives, which tend to be along the lines of “God just really doesn’t like Black people very much.”)

  125. glass ceiling on August 25, 2011 at 12:27 am

    It is quite interesting. And a little painful.

  126. Kent on August 25, 2011 at 1:25 am

    #119
    I have not spent much time studying Brigham Young’s statements about slavery, but I do have a comment on this quote you bring up. At the exact time of this 1859 interview, it appears that the territorial boundaries of Utah did not include very much in the way of plantation-style agricultural land. However, the original state of Deseret included some rather large plantation-suitable areas such as most of Arizona (cotton) and Southern California (everything imaginable). Of course, we know that Southern California is a fantastic bit of farmland. Even with the 1859 map, Southern Utah is a fairly large space, which was in fact used for plantation-style farming by the Mormons.

    We might take a little side trip here to recall that the mountain meadow confrontation consisted of the Mormons against a large group of proslavery people, perhaps 125 people, certainly outnumbering the Mormons in that part of the state. It is not clear that that exact wagon train had black slave cowboys, since they were driving at least 600 head of cattle, but it was common for such wagon trains to have slaves working as cowboys. This group was from Arkansas and Missouri, and they certainly held slaves in Arkansas, whether or not they brought some with them. This group announced repeatedly that they were there to help the Army convert Utah into an honest-to-goodness slave state and to overpower and drive out the Mormons. They refused to leave the Mountain Meadows area, apparently believing it was a perfectly good place to raise more cattle for shipping to California, and might serve very well as a place to use slave labor, including some of the Mormons and some of the Indians. If the invading Utah Army and the invading mountain meadow group thought that Utah was a good enough place for slavery, perhaps it really was a good enough place for slavery to operate. (Of course the army only cared about the political aspects of slavery, and representation in Congress, and did not actually care whether there were any slaves working successfully there).

    I would prefer to view what Brigham Young said as diplomatic-speak. The slavery issue had not been settled by the civil war yet, and he had a very large Southern army camped just south of Salt Lake City which was always looking for a chance to pick a fight with the Mormons, since they had failed to bring the Mormons into a battle on their first arrival (not for lack of trying, and against direct orders). Any chance to repeat the false charge of “rebellion” of the Mormons would be hastily grabbed and used to its fullest extent.

    (We might note that the Army only left Utah because of the breakout of the civil war. And it’s very interesting to notice that many of the officers and men who are in Utah hurried back to join the southern Army. They considered the Mormons their political enemies and were quite unwilling to leave any usable military supplies behind when they left. That also ought to tell us something about where everyone in those times thought the Mormons stood on the slavery question. There was the crazy situation where the southern states offered to make polygamy legal if the Mormons would join them in the civil war. Brigham Young was fully aware that the southern proslavery conspirators had been trying to kill off the Mormons for decades, and he certainly wanted as little to do with them as possible.)

    In all my studies of early Utah I have found it far more useful to find out what they actually did rather than what they said. There are at least a dozen bits of “strange doctrine” that come out of the Brigham Young period, if someone only looks at the words which have been preserved. But every one of those “strange doctrines” has a perfectly sensible and practical explanation if one will simply take the time to see what was happening on the ground.

    In other words, there was no way in HE double toothpicks that Utah would ever become a real slave state as long as the Mormons controlled it. But it was not politically wise to say it perfectly clearly. Brigham Young’s claim that Utah was not suitable for slave labor was a convenient excuse, not a reason.

    Just to keep stirring up the maximum controversy, I want to pop another saccharine/sanitized bubble about church history. Brigham Young agreed to send 500 men on the Mormon Battalion only because he had no alternative. The Army sent 200 heavily armed dragoons to “ask” Brigham Young to supply those men. The hope was that he would say no and then they would have an excuse to slaughter the entire encampment of “rebellious” Mormons, even though the Mormons were not in the United States anymore, having been driven out of Nauvoo and out of the country. The proslavery conspirators, including some Missouri political leaders, were quite depressed when Brigham Young said yes and avoided their trap. So those 500 men were sent essentially as a prisoner battalion as part of 1500 men, which allowed the other two battalions to be the guards for the Mormon Battalion. Did your primary teacher leave out those parts? And these prisoners were specifically to be denied the opportunity to own land in California, assuming they got there at the end of their planned march. (These slavers were quite depressed that none of the Mormons got shot up in any battles. The Mexicans just managed to be somewhere else when the Americans came by.) “Real” Americans could own land in California, but not any Mormons. It was bad enough having Mormons in Utah, without having them gain some political influence in California, which was the next target for the slavery conspirators after Utah. In the end, it was probably just as well that those trained military men ended up back in Utah, toughened and ready to deal with the Utah Army that came about 10 years later. (One researcher thought that Brigham Young could field about 20,000 toughened mountain men if any real battles became necessary. But, of course, the only way to win in that particular situation was to make sure there was never a battle or even one man lost through violence. Miraculously they pulled it off.)

    See a few of the dozens of iterations on the size of “Utah:”
    http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/daily/history/1844_1877/deseret_state_eom.htm

  127. Bob on August 25, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Kent:
    Slavery died in The Industrial Revolution. It was “Gone With The Wind”. The South lost the Civil War, and the Age of Slavery ended__period.

  128. glass ceiling on August 25, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Kent,

    Your story makes sense to me. Escaping the Civil War sinkhole was tricky business. What the Mormons pulled off in the face of that environment was nothing short of a miracle.

  129. glass ceiling on August 25, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Bob,
    The IR killed slavery eventually, but it was also what gave it legs initially. I believe that had the South won the war, ir would’ve been selling slaves south of the border for as long as agrarian labor was in demand.

    For the record, slavery ended in the South on 1864; but they maintained their “slave class ” for much, longer. President Andrew Johnson basically gave the planter class everything they had before the war…bringing in Jim Crow. In other words, the South sort of won the war anyway. Progress was finally made a long century later in terms of Black freedom. The whole thing was unforgivable …the fruits of which have been the biggest domestic problem this country has had to face ever since.

  130. Kaimi Wenger on August 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    Correct on the overall picture, GC, but you skipped a few details. Radical Republicans pushed hard to break the power of the former slaveholder class and to empower Blacks. And it worked, sort of, for about a decade. But only because Federal troops were there to enforce the early civil rights laws. And they faced constant violence from racist vigilante groups. The whole structure was highly unstable, and it came crashing down in Compromise of 1877, when Republican moderates agreed to withdraw federal troops in exchange for the Presidency. The result, of course, was wholesale slaughter of Blacks and of civil rights supporters.

    A century of Southern historians then built up the myth of slavery as benign, the South as a glorious Lost Cause, and Reconstruction as a terrible Northern imposition. It wasn’t until the 1980s that historians led by Eric Foner began systematically debunking the Lost Cause myths.

  131. glass ceiling on August 25, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    And one more thought about Kent’s point, impending war (and war itself ) brings out the disingenuous side of just about everybody. Imagine a major religion coming out of Germany/Austria in the late 1930s. Make that religion an offshoot of Judaism. Under those circumstances, the idea of begging, borrowing, stealing, and lying would have been expected and probably required. Imagine if that religion were to more only survive, but thrive in these circumstances. The Mormons dis just that.
    Call me a revisionist but IMO, unless a historian looks at the real-life situation surrounding the subject situation/group, then they are hardly worth noting…and hardly worth my time. I get so weary of those who want to pigeon-hole folks in history for things going in around them that they had little to no control over. I mean, how much control do we, ourselves have over any aspect of domestic or foreign policy in our country right now? Our vote is almost all we have, and we know what that is worth.

    The fact remains that Utah was pressured to be a slave State. Yet it was not. Mormons were all but being hunted down. Yet they thrived. The worst war in. US history went on all around them, yet they remained uninvolved.

    I have no answers for BY’s words about Ham and so forth. There is a lot we don’t know …or possibly even want to know (ie, What if there was something to those words?) I don’t want to have to be responsible for them out in the real world among my nonmember friends. Sure BY brings up historical controversy. But he was our second prophet, and crucial to our survival during an explosive time in history.

  132. Bob on August 25, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    glass ceiling:
    Do you know why Blacks were brought into the South when their were plenty of Indians available for enslavement?
    The biggest ‘biggest domestic problem’ this country has ever faced was the Great Depression.

  133. glass ceiling on August 25, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Keimi,
    Thank you for covering what I skipped. Are you a history teacher by chance?
    I need to check our Eric Foner. Thank you for the tip. The myth of the heroic South is more than a little interesting to me.

  134. Martin Holden on August 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm

    Re 116 I would love to attend a ward that had a cultural hall never mind all the other rooms Alison describes – we do have an bishops and clerks office and a Relief Society Room (which is currently used by Primary as they are the bigger organisation). I don’t think our sisters get much more luxury than the men.
    I checked in Bishopric Tuesday evening and by chance all four speakers this Sunday are sisters. As I am conducting I intend to assign sisters to say both prayers. In am sure this has happened before here but I couldn’t prove it and I am sure that no one here will notice. Amazing how units can be so different in attitudes.

  135. Kaimi Wenger on August 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm

    What a great compliment, GC. I’m actually a law professor, but the majority of my research deals with race and law issues.

    Eric Foner’s book _Reconstruction_ is the best starting point. That’s the book that really demolished the old myths about Reconstruction. (There were several other historians doing the same sort of work; Foner wasn’t acting alone. _Reconstruction_ brought together all of the research and discussion in a very accessible way, and so it really changed the scope of discussion.)

  136. glass ceiling on August 25, 2011 at 12:47 pm

    Bob,

    I thought it was because Indians made bad slaves.

    I won’t deny the Depression. But slavery caused a war, and ALL of the racial, and many class issues we face. For example, subprime mortgages were brought in during the Carter administration largely to get Blacks out of the hood and into the burbs. Subprime mortgages have a lot to do with where we are at today .
    Our violence problems are related to class warfare, directly related to slavery. It is interesting to note how Europe does not have the problems we have along those lines. But after all, they did all their slaving in Africa and South America …then took off when it began to injure their reputations. We played the slavery game in our own country. And we paid dearly and still do.There us a vulgar term for it. It’s called “sh**ing where you eat.”

    Tell me more about how the Depression affects us today. Please. I kinda agree somewhat.

  137. glass ceiling on August 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Kaimi,
    Wow, we could talk. What are your thoughts on race and the recession? Or race vs the Depression as the worst problem in US history?

  138. Dave on August 25, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    There was a lively debate by economic historians who critiqued earlier historians who had argued that slavery was not economically profitable for owners: see Fogel and Engerman’s Time on the Cross (1974), as well as Gavin Wright’s Old South, New South (1986) for the evolution of the post-Civil War economy in the South.

  139. glass ceiling on August 25, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Dave,
    But why else would they go to war?

  140. Kaimi Wenger on August 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    I’d love to get into these topics, GC, but right now I’m headed out the door to go out of town for a few days. Maybe we can continue it when I get back?

  141. glass ceiling on August 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Of coarse. Have fun!

  142. MarthasVineyard on August 25, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    ___Wow, we could talk. What are your thoughts on race and the recession?___

    Maybe start another thread to do that? I wanted ideas about the question of gender being ignored. As an LDS female, I wonder why that is ignored and why women are so used to it that they go along with it.

    I’m not really making exact comparisons, but I do see the FLDS women defend what’s going on there and even help oppress other women and girls. Why do we think it’s OK when we do it?

  143. glass ceiling on August 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    Martha,

    Could you be more specific?

  144. Chino Blanco on August 25, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    “Wha?”

    GC- You’re apparently oblivious even to obvious racism so I don’t expect we’re going to have a mutually intelligible exchange here.

  145. glass ceiling on August 26, 2011 at 3:06 am

    Chino,

    I guess your subreferencing just kind of gets too complicated for the conversation at times. I get it. You’re smart.

    And often interesting , actually. But I am just not gonna fight over racism. Virtually the whole planet was racist on some level until the last half of the 20th Century. Someday in the future they will judge us all for killing the Earth. The only ones who will pass muster will be environmental terrorists and those who only use one sheet of toilet paper per sitting . That’s OK though. I know how this history thing works. History only exists so later generations can feel self-righteous and “all growed-up now.” Oh, it also helps certain groups perpetually resent each other. And that sure helps everybody. (Like Mit Romney is responsible for the Church’s policy on Blacks and the priesthood. I’m sure that’s why he joined the Church. )

    But don’t get me wrong. I am all for helping the poor in this country …of all races. But see, I guess I view it as more of a class issue. And if it continues masqueraing as a race issue, then the upper class gets to divide and conquer the rest of us yet again. After all, what’s stopping them? Certainly not history.

  146. Chino Blanco on August 26, 2011 at 3:24 am

    @145: In the time it took you to type that comment, you could’ve read “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” or “The Lottery” and we’d have something new and fun to talk about. It’s not like I’m referencing Tolstoy here — these are very short stories — but apparently I’m not interesting enough to pique your curiosity about my references.

    For what it’s worth, I’m not talking about last century, or the century before that. I’m talking about this post right here, right now. And I suppose it’s not surprising that a thoroughly racist post would attract equally racist commentary.

    The answer I’m comfortable with is that Pioneer Day should be changed to Slave Day in honor of those who sacrificed their freedom to save the LDS church from destruction.

  147. glass ceiling on August 26, 2011 at 4:07 am

    Chino,

    I have read “The Lottery. ” What are your thoughts on it in this context?

    How is this blog racial, in your opinion ?

    There is no doubt that the Mormons benefited from the goings on of this nation circa 1850-1870. No one denies that the Blacks were not treated well in and out of the Church. I suppose that most in the Church would like to forget it and live in the present instead if living in sackcloth and ashes for time and all eternity. The Church is trying to mend those injuries without taking itself to court. And what, in Heaven’s name, is wrong with that? It is an organization that is trying to save the world.

    All organizations have made choices that later generations have had to account for. But there is far, far more good done in the the Church than bad. Same with most members, assumeably.

    What do we gain by wagging our forefingers at the Church over this today? The fact that Mit Romney is running for President? So we cab guarantee that the race starts off shallow and irrelevant?

  148. Chino Blanco on August 26, 2011 at 4:29 am

    I gather from my reading at a Mormon blog called By Common Consent that Lesson #30 in your LDS Gospel Doctrine manual is “God is No Respecter of Persons”…

    But here at Times & Seasons, the lesson I’m getting is that God kept some folks in slavery so that other folks could prosper.

    How is that mentality any different from that of the villagers depicted in “The Lottery”? They believed that selecting a portion of their population for destruction somehow protected the remainder against calamity. Actually, come to think of it, this post is even more evil. At least in the village, they were choosing among themselves. In this post, it’s just assumed that God loves Mormons more and it’s those other folks over there in chains who must be punished to keep Mormons safe. So, come to think of it, the comparison to Omelas is probably the better one.

  149. Kaimi on August 26, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Chino, your comment reminds me of a short story or maybe a TV series that I’ll reference obliquely and then act smug about . . .

    All of which is to say, if you want to make a point with a comment, make the damn point already. Remember, the burden is on you to actually make a coherent comment, not on everyone else decode whatever the hell you’re talking about.

  150. glass ceiling on August 26, 2011 at 11:57 am

    Chino,

    I see your point. But wouldn’t that also be like saying that the Civil War happened so Mormons could benefit? Then you could say that the cotton gin was invented for the same reason. And it could go on and on.

    But you are an ex-Mormon, I assume. Or even a Mormon still. You know how we think. You know we believe that the Everlasting Gospel is more important than all those things. Even more important than the Earth itself. So why argue it? It’s like taking a Jew to the mat about bacon for breakfast.

  151. Chino Blanco on August 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    You’re right, GC, there’s no point arguing history with someone who believes “everything happens for a reason, and that reason is me”…

    Anyway, who needs history when you’ve got Lex de Azevedo?

  152. glass ceiling on August 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    Chino,

    Exactly. Just like George McGovern said in his speech in ’68 concerning the hippies’ penchant for Timothy Leary’s love of Frank Lloyd Wright’s criticism of Scandinavian archetypal archery (but only in terms of quantum physics under the auspices of the Fidel Castro It’s all about you.

  153. glass ceiling on August 26, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Damn Android phones! You only got half of that.

  154. Chris H. on August 26, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    “Anyway, who needs history when you’ve got Lex de Azevedo?”

    Totally.

  155. Alison Moore Smith on August 26, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Sorry to have neglected managing the thread (and managing Chino, who apparently is in a perpetual conversation with an unseen force of nature). My third daughter is off to college. :)

    glass ceiling #43:

    Could you be more specific?

    glass ceiling, I should thank Martha for speaking my mind for me. She’s probably referring to the fact that the OP isn’t about racism. I realize that mentioning a sensitive topic may be too much to resist, but the questions were about another topic entirely. Read the bold part of the post for clarification. :)

    I’ll now precede to sing my all time favorite song ever in the history of music.

    I’ve seen that smile somewhere before.
    I’ve heard that voice before.
    It seems we talked like this before…

    I pretty much give myself chills when I do that.