As we pick up with the difficult racial quotes this week, I want to start again with the disclaimer that neither I nor anyone else at FAIR agrees with or condones the words and attitudes on display in these comments. I am not defending their use. I am just putting some history and context back into them, so that we can all approach them with a little more knowledge than we may have previously held. That doesn’t make them easier to digest. Some of them are pretty awful, and it’s incredibly difficult for me to understand how someone can hold those views about other children of God.
However, I want to make one other thing very clear: I will gladly condemn these words and attitudes, but I will not condemn the people espousing them. That’s not my place. As I pointed out in my last post, some of these men were incredibly blessed and favored by the Lord. They were not perfect and they made their share of mistakes, but I will not hold them to standards of perfection that the Lord refuses to hold them to. If He’s willing to show them grace despite their flaws, all that means is that He’s willing to do the same for me despite my flaws. So, I’m going to extend them the same charity that He shows me, and assume that they were trying their best to serve the Lord even though I find some of these statements to be pretty appalling.
This was a difficult post for me to research and write. It hurt my heart to read some of these talks and quotations. It was a good reminder that we shouldn’t follow prophets and apostles blindly, and that we don’t follow them because they’re perfect or even necessarily correct in everything they teach us. We follow their teachings because they were called of God to expound on His teachings and to help point us back toward Him. There’s a reason we’re counseled to pray about it when they teach us something that doesn’t sit right with us.
Sometimes, those teachings won’t feel right because they’re conflicting with our own assumptions. Their teachings are correct in those instances, but our hearts aren’t, and we need to do the work to get our hearts right with God. We need to pray for enlightenment and understanding in those cases. Other times, what those teaching won’t feel right because they’re not correct.
We need to learn how to tell the difference, and it takes practice. But it’s important, because nobody is perfect except the Savior and the Father. The rest of us get it wrong occasionally, and that includes prophets and apostles. That shouldn’t be a shock to any of us, because you only have to read the first few chapters of the Bible to see that prophets aren’t perfect, and you only have to read the Gospels or the book of Acts to see that the apostles aren’t perfect either.
They are wise men with a lifetime of serving God behind them, and they’re right far more often than they’re wrong. They’re also right far more often than the rest of us are. Because of that, we need to follow their counsel far more often than we don’t. We just need to remember the very wise words of Elder Ballard:
…[I]t is important to remember that I am a General Authority, but that does not make me an authority in general!
My calling and life experiences allow me to respond to certain types of questions. There are other types of questions that require an expert in a specific subject matter. This is exactly what I do when I need an answer to such questions: I seek help from others, including those with degrees and expertise in such fields.
I worry sometimes that members expect too much from Church leaders and teachers—expecting them to be experts in subjects well beyond their duties and responsibilities. The Lord called the apostles and prophets to invite others to come unto Christ—not to obtain advanced degrees in ancient history, biblical studies, and other fields that may be useful in answering all the questions we may have about scriptures, history, and the Church. Our primary duty is to build up the Church, teach the doctrine of Christ, and help those in need of help.
(And thank you to Ben Spackman for providing the reference to that quote, which I’ve been trying to find for a while now.)
Now, some of you are probably thinking, “Sure, but what about when it’s the doctrine they get wrong?”
Unfortunately, that happens sometimes too. It’s more rare, but it happens. It happened to Peter, who thought that the Savior was going to lead a rebellion against the Romans and that Gentile converts needed to obey the Law of Moses. It happened to Jonah, who tried to call down the power of Heaven to destroy the people of Nineveh instead of acknowledging their repentance. It happened to Abraham, who nearly destroyed an entire city over a misunderstanding. It even happened to Joseph Smith, who wrote an op-ed for the Messenger and Advocate in 1836 saying that he believed the enslavement of the black race was decreed by Jehovah and that abolitionists were fighting against the design of God by trying to free them. (He later thankfully changed his mind.)
Some of the things our past leaders taught about black people and the Priesthood restriction were wrong. Some of them are offensive and difficult to read. That does not make them bad people, and it doesn’t mean they were not called of God. It just means they were wrong about this.
Critics will often point to the claim that Church leaders can never lead the Church astray as an argument against the idea that they aren’t perfect. They say that means the prophets and apostles can never make a mistake. But they’re misunderstanding the quote. “Leading the Church astray” is leading us into widespread apostasy to the point where we lose Priesthood authority. That didn’t happen in this case, and in fact, the Lord has promised that the Priesthood will never again be taken from the Earth.
Having said all of this, I’m going to jump on in because there are unfortunately a lot of these statements left to get through.
- President George Albert Smith
“The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time … The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the pre‑mortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality.” (George Albert Smith, Statement by the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on the Negro Question, August 17, 1949)
The document this quote comes from often gets labeled as an official First Presidency statement on the question of race and the Priesthood, but it’s not one. This wasn’t something that was read out over the pulpits and printed in official Church publications the way that other First Presidency statements are treated. So, I appreciate that Faulk didn’t label this as an official statement, the way so many other places do.
According to the B.H. Roberts Foundation, it’s actually part of a form letter that would sometimes get sent out in response to letters asking about the Priesthood restriction:
In regards to the 1949 statement, the First Presidency does not allow us to provide copies of their correspondence. However, we can confirm that the following text was used by the first Presidency in responses to inquiries about the priesthood restriction for several years beginning in 1949. The text was never issued publicly but, rather, was used as standard language in private correspondence.
August 17, 1949
The attitude of the Church with reference to Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the priesthood at the present time. The prophets of the Lord have made several statements as to the operation of the principle. President Brigham Young said: “Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a skin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the holy priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the holy priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to.”
President Wilford Woodruff made the following statement: “The day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.”
The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintain their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.
The First Presidency
The first thing I want to point out is that Wilford Woodruff’s statement here is actually taken from his notes on Brigham Young’s rather infamous speech given to the Utah territory legislature in 1852. It wasn’t even his comment to begin with.
The second thing I want to highlight is that there are two different ways to read this statement. You could read it the way that critics of the Church always frame it, that the First Presidency was saying that black people weren’t valiant in the pre-existence and their restriction from the Priesthood was a punishment for that.
Trying to use Brigham Young’s words to make that point is pretty disingenuous, however, since Young dismissed that idea outright:
No, they were not, there were no neutral [spirits] in Heaven at the time of the rebellion, all took sides. … All spirits are pure that came from the presence of God. The posterity of Cain are black because he committed murder. He killed Abel and God set a mark upon his posterity. But the spirits are pure that enter their tabernacles.
Obviously, we don’t believe that black skin is a mark of a spiritual curse today, but it was a common belief in Brigham’s day. The more important point is that he entirely rejected the idea that any of God’s children on Earth had been less-than-valiant in the pre-existence.
This is more than a little ironic, since Orson Pratt, the man many critics uphold as the racially progressive model the Church should have followed instead of Brigham Young, taught, “Among the two-thirds who remained [after the Devil was cast out], it is highly probable that there were many who were not valiant in the war [in Heaven], but whose sins were of such a nature that they could be forgiven.”
The other way of reading that First Presidency statement relies heavily on some of Brigham’s other thoughts. You see, he believed that when Cain murdered Abel, he deprived Abel of his posterity and “of extending his heavenly kingdom by multiplying upon the earth.” Brigham believed that those who had been meant to have been from Abel’s lineage had already been assigned to him. So, they would all have to be reassigned to other lineages, be born, and also receive their temple ordinances before any of Cain’s posterity would be able to receive theirs. Those descendants of Cain were aware of that decision in the premortal life, but that “rather than forsake him they were willing to bear his burdens and share the penalty imposed upon him,” and come to Earth even knowing it would mean they would have to wait to receive the Priesthood and temple ordinances. They wanted a body so badly, they were willing to accept whatever trials they had to in order to achieve that goal.
When that form letter talks about how everyone born into mortality had kept their first estate and how the privilege was so great, spirits made that choice regardless of what handicaps they would have to endure, it echoes Brigham’s beliefs that black people wanted the privilege of a body so badly, they were willing to wait for the blessings of the Priesthood in order to have it. This way of reading that letter actually says that they were so valiant that they were willing to endure extra hardships on Earth in order to receive all of the blessings available to them in Heaven after they received their bodies. That was the choice made in the pre-existence, not the choice to be neutral or less valiant than white members had been.
I obviously have never met any of the men in the 1949 First Presidency. I don’t know what prejudices they held or how they intended this letter to be read. All I can do is point out that there’s more than one way to look at it.
The B.H. Roberts foundation also has an extended version of this letter that seems to back up some of this:
Why the Negro was denied the Priesthood from the days of Adam to our day is not known. The few known facts about our pre-earth life and our entrance into mortality must be taken into account in any attempt at an explanation.
- Not all intelligences reached the same degree of attainment in the pre-earth life.
And the Lord said unto me: These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all.
The Lord thy God sent his angel to deliver thee from the hands of the priest of Elkenah.
I dwell in the midst of them all; I now, therefore, have come down unto thee to deliver unto thee the works which my hands have made, wherein my wisdom excelleth them all, for I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath, in all wisdom and prudence, over all the intelligences thine eyes have seen from the beginning; I came down in the beginning in the midst of all the intelligences thou hast seen.
Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;
And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before thou wast born….
And we will prove them herewith to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
- Man will be punished for his own sins and not for Adam’s transgression. (2nd Article of Faith.) If this is carried further, it would imply that the Negro is punished or allotted to a certain position on this earth, not because of Cain’s transgression, but came to earth through the loins of Cain because of his failure to achieve other stature in the spirit world.
- All spirits are born innocent into this world: Every spirit of man was innocent in the beginning; and God having redeemed man from the fall, men became again, in their infant state, innocent before God.
- The negro was a follower of Jehovah in the pre-earth life. (There were no neutrals.)
To me, this all leans more toward the second interpretation of this statement than the one the critics love to assign to it. It’s still not a great or ideal explanation, and I’m not trying to claim that it is.
But this is the benefit of a church that believes in on-going revelation. We believe that if earlier prophets get something wrong, later prophets will eventually correct it. It’s exactly what happened when Wilford Woodruff had his famous revelation on the sealing ordinance, which restructured the way sealings had been done since before Joseph Smith was murdered. And it’s what has happened here with these upsetting racial teachings.
In the years since the 1978 revelation on the Priesthood, attitudes have shifted considerably and scholarship has grown in leaps and bounds. We know a lot more than we did back then, both in terms of personal progress and in the knowledge of our Church’s history.
The First Presidency in 1949 shared what they believed was true. It was their interpretation of the scriptures and their knowledge passed down from prior generations. We now know that their interpretation of those scriptures was incorrect. But it’s important to remember that when they shared that interpretation, it was done in ignorance, not malice.
- President Joseph Fielding Smith
“That negro race, for instance, have been placed under restrictions because of their attitude in the world of spirits, few will doubt. It cannot be looked upon as just that they should be deprived of the power of the Priesthood without it being a punishment for some act, or acts, performed before they were born.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, 1940)
Putting this quote in more context, it says:
Man had his agency and because of it one-third of the hosts rebelled. We naturally conclude that others among the two-thirds did not show the loyalty to their Redeemer that they should. Their sin was not one that merited the extreme punishment which was inflicted on the devil and his angels. They were not denied the privilege of receiving the second estate, but were permitted to come to the earth-life with some restrictions placed upon them. That the negro race, for instance, have been placed under restrictions because of their attitude in the world of spirits, few will doubt. It cannot be looked upon as just that they should be deprived of the power of the Priesthood without it being a punishment for some act, or acts, performed before they were born. Yet, like all other spirits who come into this world, they come innocent before God so far as mortal existence is concerned, and here, under certain restrictions, they may work out their second estate. If they prove faithful in this estate, without doubt, our Eternal Father, who is just and true, will reward them accordingly and there will be in store for them some blessings of exaltation.
The full quote is equally as difficult to read as the edited version, and Joseph Fielding Smith contradicted not only Brigham Young but also his own father by giving this statement. I don’t know how or why he came to believe this idea.
This teaching in particular is incredibly offensive to me. I have friends whom I love very much who are of African-American ancestry, and the thought of anyone thinking this of them is deeply upsetting to me.
But he was born in 1876, in a very different time period than I was. He grew up with different attitudes and beliefs. And in fact, his views began to change toward the end of his life, and he actually softened somewhat on this issue.
“Not only was Cain called upon to suffer, but because of his wickedness he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was placed upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures. Millions of souls have come into this world cursed with a black skin and have been denied the privilege of Priesthood and the fullness of the blessing of the Gospel. These are the descendants of Cain.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, The Way to Perfection, 1940)
Putting it back in context doesn’t make it any easier to swallow, but it does show a slightly softer side of a man who could be very firm and unretractable:
…Moreover, they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind from the beginning. Enoch saw the people of Canaan, descendants of Cain, and he says, “and there was a blackness came upon all the children of Canaan, that they were despised among all people.”
And it came to pass that Enoch continued to call upon all the people, save it were the people of Canaan, to repent.” (Moses 7:8, 12.) In just it should be said that there have been among the seed of Cain many who have been honorable and who have lived according to the best light they had in this second estate. Let us pray that the Lord may bless them with some blessings of exaltation, if not the fulness, for their integrity here.
It’s paternalistic, and he goes out of his way to call black people inferior more than once, but I also don’t think he was intentionally trying to be rude. I think he was trying to be kind, and it came out very badly.
However, I’m sure that later generations will think ours is pretty patronizing in some ways, too. So, again, I don’t agree with it, I’m not going to defend it, but I’m also not going to condemn him for saying it. That’s between him and our Father in Heaven.
- Apostle Mark E. Peterson
“We must not inter-marry with the Negro. Why? If I were to marry a Negro woman and have children by her, my children would all be cursed as to the priesthood. Do I want my children cursed as to the priesthood? If there is one drop of Negro blood in my children, as I have read to you, they receive the curse. There isn’t any argument, therefore, as to inter-marriage with the Negro, is there? There are 50 million Negroes in the United States. If they were to achieve complete absorption with the white race, think what that would do.” (Elder Mark E. Peterson, Race Problems as They Affect the Church, address given at BYU, August 27, 1954. Marriott Library University of Utah, Mark E. Peterson Papers)
This quote and the next one are taken from the same talk, so I’ll address this below.
“In spite of all he did in the pre-existent life, the Lord is willing, if the Negro accepts the gospel with real, sincere faith, and is really converted, to give him the blessings of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant” (Elder Mark E. Peterson, lecture at BYU, 1954)
First, I do think it’s pretty dishonest to cite these as two different quotes from two different sources when they’re taken from the same talk. This was a talk given to BYU faculty at a teachers’ convention, not an official statement of doctrine during an event like General Conference.
Second, this talk is a very difficult one to read. I personally really struggled with it, I’m not going to lie. It was hard to read, and it was hard to understand the connections he was making between his different sources.
FAIR has a good take on it. I’m a little short on space so rather than quote from their article, I’ll just mention some of the highlights and encourage everyone to read the full thing.
Petersen based his claim on D&C 132:16:
Therefore, when they are out of the world they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are appointed angels in heaven, which angels are ministering servants, to minister for those who are worthy of a far more, and an exceeding, and an eternal weight of glory.
Basically, he meant that because at that time, black people weren’t able to be sealed in the temple, they’d have to live as ministering servants in the next life. This statement being directed at black people not only contradicts the entire purpose for work for the dead, but also contracts nearly every prophet from Joseph Smith onward. Those ministering angels are not determined by race, and work for the dead is not withheld from the righteous people who would have enjoyed temple blessings had they been able to access them during this life.
FAIR goes on to give multiple quotes refuting this idea, and points out that not everything said by an apostle is official doctrine.
- Apostle Bruce R. McConkie
“Negroes in this life are denied the Priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty. The gospel message of salvation is not carried affirmatively to them … Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings that flow there from, but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing, is based on his eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of Spiritual valiance of those concerned in their first estate.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, pp.527-528)
Yeah, Elder McConkie said that. His teachings were based in large part on those of his father-in-law, Joseph Fielding Smith. I want to point out that Faulk omitted some portions that make these statements slightly less egregious:
The gospel message of salvation is not carried affirmatively to them (Moses 7:8, 12, 22), although sometimes negroes search out the truth, join the Church, and become by righteous living, heirs of the celestial kingdom of heaven. President Brigham Young and others have taught that in the future eternity worthy and qualified negroes will receive the priesthood and every gospel blessing available to any man. (Way to Perfection, pp. 97-111.)
And, after the last sentence:
Certainly the negroes as children of God are entitled to equality before the law and to be treated with all the dignity and respect of any member of the human race. Many of them certainly life according to higher standards of decency and right in this life than do some of their brothers of other races, a situation that will cause judgment to be laid “to the line, and righteousness to the plummet” (Isa. 28:17) in the day of judgment.
He was trying to say that there were good, righteous black people who were more righteous than those of other races, and who had been led to the truth by God because they were willing to hear His voice and listen to His Spirit, and who would be blessed with all of the blessings of Heaven one day.
It wasn’t phrased well and the doctrine he outlined wasn’t accurate, but I actually have a lot of respect for Elder McConkie. As soon as he realized he was wrong, he publicly owned it. he admitted his error and became an early and fierce advocate of the 1978 Priesthood revelation. He spoke in favor of its passage when it came time for the general assembly to vote on it; he helped write the text of Official Declaration 2; and he was the one who encouraged the Brethren to release that declaration immediately rather than waiting until October’s General Conference, because he didn’t want to give Satan the chance to do anything to derail it.
- President David O. McKay
“The seeming discrimination by the Church toward the Negro is not something which originated with man; but goes back into the beginning with God … Revelation assures us that this plan antedates man’s mortal existence, extending back to man’s preexistent state.” (Pres. David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner. Letter of the First Presidency Clarifies Church’s Position on the Negro – Dec. 15, 1969, The Improvement Era, Feb. 1970, p.71)
This is a prime example of why it’s good to read the full document instead of just relying on a cherry-picked quote. This letter also says:
President McKay has also said, “Sometime in God’s eternal plan, the Negro will be given the right to hold the priesthood.”
Until God reveals his will in this matter, to him whom we sustain as a prophet, we are bound by that same will. Priesthood, when it is conferred on any man, comes as a blessing from God, not of men.
We feel nothing but love, compassion, and the deepest appreciation for the rich talents, endowments, and the earnest strivings of our Negro brothers and sisters. We are eager to share with men of all races the blessings of the gospel. … Were we the leaders of an enterprise created by ourselves and operated only according to our own earthly wisdom, it would be a simple thing to act according to popular will. But we believe that this work is directed by God and that the conferring of the priesthood must await his revelation. To do otherwise would be to deny the very premise on which the Church is established….
We join with those throughout the world who pray that all of the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ may in due time of the Lord become available to men of faith everywhere. Until that time comes we must trust in God, in his wisdom, and in his tender mercy.
Targeting David O. McKay specifically on this subject is short-sighted and tells me that Faulk didn’t do anywhere near the level of research that he claimed to do. Either that, or he knows better but has no problem at all lying to his audience.
At one point, President McKay told Marion D. Hanks that he’d pleaded and pleaded with the Lord, but hadn’t received the answer he wanted. Elder Adam S. Bennion reported that McKay had prayed “without result and finally concluded the time was not yet ripe.” But he didn’t give up.
Sometime between 1968 and his death in 1970 he confided his prayerful attempts to church architect, Richard Jackson, “I’ve inquired of the Lord repeatedly. The last time I did it was late last night. I was told, with no discussion, not to bring the subject up with the Lord again; that the time will come, but it will not be my time, and to leave the subject alone.”
He prayed and prayed to reverse the Priesthood restriction, only for the Lord to finally tell him to stop asking because it wasn’t going to happen under his tenure as leader of the Church. Regardless of what you believe or feel about the origins of the restriction, President McKay is not the one to attack for it. We know that some of the justifications he repeated for the restriction were not correct, but he tried as hard as he could to have that restriction lifted.
In closing, I just want to wrap up with some additional words from Elder McConkie’s famous talk, “All Are Alike Unto God”:
The gospel goes to various peoples and nations on a priority basis. … Not only is the gospel to go, on a priority basis and harmonious to a divine timetable, to one nation after another, but the whole history of God’s dealings with men on earth indicates that such has been the case in the past; it has been restricted and limited where many people are concerned. For instance, in the days between Moses and Christ, the gospel went to the house of Israel, almost exclusively. By the time of Jesus, the legal administrators and prophetic associates that he had were so fully indoctrinated with the concept of having the gospel go only to the house of Israel, that they were totally unable to envision the true significance of his proclamation that after the Resurrection they should then go to all the world. They did not go to the gentile nations initially. In his own ministration, Jesus preached only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and had so commanded the Apostles. … With some minor exceptions, the gospel in that day went exclusively to Israel. The Lord had to give Peter the vision and revelation…. The Lord commanded them that the gospel go to the Gentiles; and so it was. There was about a quarter of a century, then, in New Testament times, when there were extreme difficulties among the Saints. They were weighing and evaluating, struggling with the problem of whether the gospel was to go only to the house of Israel or whether it now went to all men. Could all men come to him on an equal basis with the seed of Abraham?
There have been these problems, and the Lord has permitted them to arise. There isn’t any question about that. We do not envision the whole reason and purpose behind all of it; we can only suppose and reason that it is on the basis of our premortal devotion and faith. … We have revelations that tell us that the gospel is to go to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people before the Second Coming of the Son of Man. And we have revelations which recite that when the Lord comes he will find those who speak every tongue and are members of every nation and kindred, who will be kings and priests, who will live and reign on earth with him a thousand years. That means, as you know, that people from all nations will have the blessings of the house of the Lord before the Second Coming.
We have read these passages and their associated passages for many years. We have seen what the words say and have said to ourselves, “Yes, it says that, but we must read out of it the taking of the gospel and the blessings of the temple to the Negro people, because they are denied certain things.” There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.
We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter anymore.
It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the Gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the Gentiles.
He’s absolutely right. Those comments from the past, as difficult as they can be to read and accept, simply don’t matter in a Church that believes in ongoing revelation. That’s the key that we need to hold on to. It’s the entire reason we have prophets and apostles in the first place.
And, despite the occasional errors that can pop up in the statements by those prophets and apostles, we are better for having them. They are a blessing to every one of us. I am so grateful to my Father in Heaven for sending us these men who willingly spend hours on their knees, pleading and pleading with Him to grant the changes that would make our lives better.
Sarah Allen is relatively new in her affiliation with FAIR. By profession, she works in mortgage compliance and is a freelance copyeditor. An avid reader, she loves studying the Gospel and the history of the restored Church. After watching some of her friends lose their testimonies, she became interested in helping others through their faith crises. That’s when she began sharing what she’d learned through her studies. She’s grateful to those at FAIR who have given her the opportunity to share her testimony with a wider audience.