Talk:Blacks and Mormonism/Archive 4

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Archive 3 | Archive 4 | Archive 5

Major Rewrite Needed

This article has been so heavily edited by Mormon apologists that it's become purposeless. If Mormons treated blacks as well as other religions, why do we need an article for it? In any case the facts don't jibe with Wiki entry--the church was extremely slow to catch up with the rest of America.

Also: where's the mention of Stanford boycotting BYU? Or the moltov cocktail? The black athletes fiasco at BYU is fascinating and it belongs here.

I've moved this comment to the bottom, where it should have been placed originally.
This article has been written and edited by Mormons and non-Mormons alike. You may not agree with or like the history presented here, but we do our best to ensure that it is accurate. I, personally, don't feel that we need a special article on this topic, but many other people (Mormon and non-Mormon alike) seem to feel that, it being as controversial as it is, one is needed. If you can provide citations from verifiable sources showing how the facts in this article are inaccurate, please provide them and improve the article accordingly!
I have not heard of Stanford boycotting BYU, or a molotov cocktail. If you have verifiable citations pertaining to these, please provide them and add them into the article, as they certainly sound interesting! The Jade Knight 10:10, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
He may not have a name, but he has a point. Like so many Mormon articles, it is largely edited by Mormons, and there is a clear attempt to put Mormonism in the best possible light, even at the cost of factual errors and omissions.
Why doesn't this article mention the black athletes thing at BYU? It's a key part of the history of the LDS's shift away from its previous, discriminatory policy.
For that matter, I don't understand the justification for your recent revert. Perhaps you could explain it here. Alienus 22:36, 24 March 2006 (UTC)
Please find a citation for the event in question and be bold and add it to the article, Alienus! Regarding my revert, please see the appropriate section above, where I have explained. The Jade Knight 22:44, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

I found a really interesting source that looks like it should definitely be referenced from the article (if it isn't already). Take a look at this. Alienus 23:16, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Certainly looks interesting. Statistics taken from the introduction: In a carefully drawn national sample, for instance, only 38 per cent of white Americans favored school integration even as late as 1964, and that percentage did not increase much in subsequent years. In the same survey, only 41 per cent of white Americans nationwide were willing to grant blacks equal access to hotels and businesses; a bare majority (53 per cent) favored open housing; and a mere 27 per cent approved of the general desegregation of the races. At the same time, 68 per cent were convinced that civil rights advocates were "moving too fast," and 63 per cent felt that blacks had damaged their cause by their exertions on behalf of equal rights-and this was before any urban disorders in the North! (And, of course, it goes into Latter-day Saint relations much more). Definitely looks interesting and at least it cites its sources. If you find any good places to cite it in the article, please do so! The Jade Knight 00:47, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Some social movements depend on popularity for their progress. Others remain unpopular and instead move forward based on a modern interpretation of the law. The black civil rights movement was often an example of the latter. For now, I'm just going to add this as a reference. Alienus 00:56, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Amazing. Not only did I just add the link, but I used my time machine to add it retroactively. In any case, it does confirm what the nameless editor said regarding Stanford boycotting BYU, although I didn't notice anything about a molotov. Alienus 00:58, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
Erm, how did you just add something retroactively? The Jade Knight 02:31, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
With my time ma— er, I was joking. The link was already there. Someone had beaten me to it, long ago. Alienus 03:37, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

FLDS, Strangite, etc.

I wonder if some references to FLDS, Strangite and AUB beliefs on African-Americans should be added. They are all within the LDS movement and have teachings related to the subject.

Right now, it deals strictly with the LDS view. As you suggest, it should be split in to sections: common then each sect's view. In other articles, we've ordered these by the size of the sect, in decreasing order. Val42 23:42, 1 April 2006 (UTC)
That sounds good. Anyone have some good sources? I think the FLDS views are pretty widely know. The Strangites have a page on their site; though I don't know how accurate it is historically. It could be. Don't really know when it comes to the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB).


I've removed this statement from the opening section of the article: "More recently, a growing number of Mormon intellectuals and other scholars are showing evidence that the Book of Mormon peoples called the Jaredites were black by race, citing internal textual evidence from the Book of Mormon." What purpose does this statement serve? This seems really odd, and inappropriate in this article. --Timothy 16:59, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Comparisons to American and Protestant Christianity

I've removed this paragraph from the opening section of the article: "Like other Christian churches in America, Latter Day Saints were divided on how to interpret Biblical passages on slavery, human origins, and black people. It is also important to understand that the Biblical messages in the Christian faith were not established in America, or by one prophet, but instead occurred over time, through many prophets, some of whom may have married black people (specifically, Moses and Tzipporah, Joseph bin Jacob and Asteroth) and fathered children by them. Even if their heritage was in question, there is no doubt that these unions were with people of enough black descent to be considered by some Mormon leaders, partakers of the curse of Cain and/or Ham. Thus, this position by some leaders of Mormonism is criticized as a contradiction not present in early Christianity, but certainly an issue in the 19th and 20th century Christian church as a whole." --Timothy 17:08, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

It seems odd to me to spend the opening of this article comparing Mormonism to Protestant Christianity, and this paragraph highlights why. Mormonism doesn't teach that doctrines result from interpretation of the scriptures from the body of members, but rather from direct revelation or inspiration to the leaders of the LDS Church. I think this is a vital distinction between Mormonism and Protestant Christianity, and to explain the history of blacks and Mormonism in the same way that you'd explain the history of blacks and Protestantism misses what Mormons think of themselves and their own history. While I may agree that Mormonism was more influenced by the culture in which it was born than by "god," on the question of blacks and Mormonism, Mormonism tends to view itself as directed by god over culture. --Timothy 17:08, 14 April 2006 (UTC)
I agree. Regardless of how Mormons believe the policy originated, I think comparing their practices with Protestants is not appropriate for this article. As you mentioned, it's an article on Blacks and Mormonism, not Mormonism and Protestantism. --Kmsiever 03:12, 15 April 2006 (UTC)

In the opening section, it continues to be argued that LDS Mormonism has paralleled Protestant Christianity on the question of its treatment of Blacks. I don't believe this to be true in any substantive way, and I think the comparison is flawed because of the differences between the structures of the religions. To highlight this difference (rather than to conflate the scant similarities), I pointed out that the LDS Church was the last major American religion to fully integrate blacks. Visorstuff has stated that Pentecostals didn't change until the 90's and some others were slow to "desegregate." I think the issue of self-selecting segregation is a red herring to the discussion, since it was not driven not by official mandates from centrally organized religious bodies, but the individual decisions of ministers and autonomous churches. Further, so far as I am aware, in most of these instances it was not considered a "commandment from God" that the congregations be segregated. That said...Visorstuff, I'd greatly appreciate you backing up your assertions with research. As it stands, I think the comparisons to Protestant Christianity are poorly documented and have little to no place in this article. --Timothy 14:58, 20 April 2006 (UTC)

Further...if we are to compare Mormonism to Protestantism on this question, then it opens up the idea that in most ways, Protestantism was way ahead of Mormonism on the question, and that, in my opinion, must be included in the article. --Timothy 15:00, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
First sigh. The context of American religious philosophy toward blacks in the 1800s is key to understanding Mormon views on race. ALL of Mormon converts who had views on the matter in the 1800s were previously either catholic, American protestant or some other similar grouping. in fact, 100 percent of Mormons in the 1800s came from these groups. They brought with them their beliefs which were clarified and modified by Smith. If, by chance, Mormonism was around prior to the "curse of Cain" doctrine being taught by American groups, then it would be significant. But the two are tied, regardless of whether or not you think it should. Look at most of the statements of Smith on the matter - he discusses what the rest of American Christianity is doing and then what he thinks the truth was. (For example, the southerners using the doctrine quote recently edited from him to Ham). You must see the context. (sigh)
Sorry to put you through such effort, Visorstuff. :-) While I agree that the context of understanding ALL religion in America should include such analysis, I yet think it misses the point of what Mormonism thinks of itself, and the unique qualities of the theology and structure of Mormonism that influenced this issue. If "context" were the only factor, then Mormonism would have abandoned it's prohibition on blacks much sooner than it did. That it didn't highlights why it is insufficient to merely paint the parallels to other, Protestant, religions. Listen, my problem with this line of discussion is that it reads as nearly pure-play apologetics for the "problem" of Blacks and the priesthood, and it does so by ignoring what LDS leadership and membership thinks about itself the formation of its doctrines. THAT, in my opinion, should be the focus of this article. --Timothy 23:15, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Second, you wrote: "Visorstuff has stated that Pentecostals didn't change until the 90's and some others were slow to "desegregate." I think the issue of self-selecting segregation is a red herring to the discussion, since it was not driven not by official mandates from centrally organized religious bodies, but the individual decisions of ministers and autonomous churches."
Timothy, it was an "official mandate" that took a vote for the stated groups to desegregate. It took a vote of all the conference bodies. In Mormonism there is a centralized hierarchy. In these groups, there is a parliamentary hierarchy. It is still the official stance of the group. In both cases I cited, they had hundreds of representatives that make up the policies of the religious bodies. They voted to change the policy. That is their central body. I will pull back up my research on the matter - and timeline of various groups "officially" desegregating - it is documented elsewhere on the wiki, however, since you need it again and separately from me, I'll oblige. Last sigh. -Visorstuff 19:47, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Visorstuff...I just did some research, and I remain unconvinced that you can state that the Pentecostal Church rectified its stance towards blacks "after" the LDS Church. I think the argument disingenuous. The Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church began widely ordaining black ministers in 1962. That's 16 years prior to OD2 from the LDS Church. The later dates you point to (1989, 1994) refer to the Unification of two branches of the Pentecostal Church, which had been segregated, and official attempts to apologize for the racism that existed in the Church previously. By this measure, the Pentecostal Church is still ahead of the LDS Church, in that the LDS Church has yet to apologize for its stance regarding blacks and the priesthood. As I mentioned above, pointing to "segregation" issues in independently organized and operated churches under the umbrella or Pentecostalism is nowhere near the same as systemic denial of priesthood based on race, and the continued attribution of that policy to God. My statement remains: the LDS Church was the last major religion to fully integrate black members into its leadership and priesthood. --Timothy 23:40, 20 April 2006 (UTC)
Timothy, by you saying "I just did some research" I'm thinking you googled the issue? Good enough. There are books and scholarly works devoted to this that your local university library may be able to help you obtain for further research. There are other religions that fall into the same category. I'll agree that of the current top ten religious denominations in the U.S., the LDS church was the last to enforce such an on-the-books policy. There is one master thesis I'm thinking of that discusses various church views and policies toward blacks from the early 1800s to present and cites southern Baptist segregation into the mid-1980s. The difference is that the LDS church declared it was revelation, isn't it? Not that treatment was better or different or worse, it was that the okay had to come from God. That's the only difference between the groups as a whole.
Sigh again. Just because certain Pentecostal groups desegregated, doesn't mean that it wasn't official policy. And have they officially apologized for the "on the records" policy? Nope. Remember, those who are part of a conference, such as Pentecostal groups, may do rogue things, but it is still in violation of their policy. According to their bylaws, those in violation should be either disfellowshiped/exommunicated/defrocked or they are considered apostate. The difference is that the LDS church (made up of thousands of stakes and wards - similar to individual churches in the penecostal meovement) is more unified and strict on enforcing policy (and more hierarchal). There were bishops and stake presidents in the LDS church who ordained blacks to the priesthood, against policy. They were removed from their position because of it, just like was called for in the Pentecostal bylaws. This is an issue I've studied and I find pointless to argue. It happened. It was enforced in one, and not in the other. But racist policy is racist policy. Period. Again, it comes down to enforcement of policy, the timing is irrelevant in the big picture, as it occurred generally in the same decade, but the issue here is the source of the policy. One cited interpretation of scripture, the other direct revelation. I'm glad you've seen my sources are correct. This has been a good dialogue and will help the article in the end. For the near-term, perhaps we should find a more neutral way to state what you and I both disagree with the word choice on? Suggestions? -Visorstuff 00:30, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
Incidentally, I agree that the article reads too apologetic. Both sides need to be presented. The context. The revelatory, the anti-slavery stance and treatment of blacks by Smith, the enforcement and implementation of the policy by Young, and his seemingly racist views on blacks. The long policy and decisions by the brethren against allowing the blacks to have the priesthood and enter the temple. The internal conflict among church leaders as to the source of the policy, the number of church presidents who prayed about it (all prayed to change the policy except young and Taylor). and of course the racist cultural behaviors and teachings of Mormons toward blacks because they didn't understand the conflict and issues, trying to justify the policy. It all needs to be represented. However, it in my opinion should not be Mormons hate blacks, or Mormons love blacks, but rather here's the history, and more importantly, here's the conflict and attempts to change but reasons why it didn't (the story is one of continuous revelation or lack thereof on this particular issue). -Visorstuff 00:37, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
PS. In-line responses are hard for readers to follow. Please respond at the end of threads, rather than at the place in context as a point-by-point. I almost missed your comment above about "pure-play apologetics" -Visorstuff 00:39, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
Visor...thanks for the note. I think you've laid out the format of the various events that this article should portray nicely, with one caveat; events should be given relative weight. For example, conflating a couple of comments and a couple of ordinations by Joseph Smith with 150 years of 1000 of denied ordinations and hundreds of clearly racist statements and policies leads to an imbalance in the article that is not warranted by the history. The article should mention the few bright spots in Mormon history (anti-slavery statements, early ordinations), but these should not lead out the article, and they should not be given equal weight to the overwhelming history of racism of the LDS Church. Also, one can mention the context of Protestant Christianity, but since Mormonism doesn't claim to get its doctrine from culturally contextual interpretation of scriptures, then that, too, must be a side note to the larger article. This article only exists because of the problems between blacks and the LDS Church, and that has to be the focus. There's no article on "White and the LDS Church" because there's no historical problem between the two. This article, as its main focus, must be about the historical conflict here. --Timothy 02:55, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
They say that the exception proves the rule. Honestly, though, I think that it is important to explain the nature of things—Joseph Smith's views, seeing as he was the founder of the religious movement, are particularly notable, worth addressing to some length, as opposed to later views which are perhaps less significant to the movement and all similar to each other. For significance of Church leaders, I highly recommend you compare the articles on Joseph Smith, Jr. to the other Prophets (such as David O. McKay, who was President of the Church for nearly 20 years). Clearly, from the content there, Joseph Smith is given particular note and weight in everything he has done, and I would argue rightly so.
I am not necessarily saying that these things must be given equal weight, but anything Joseph Smith said or did should definitely receive disproportionate attention, and exceptions need to be highlighted to provide context and accuracy (ie, depth) to the article. Furthermore, context is crucially important. Anytime one is studying History, cultural context is extraordinarily significant. Even glancing at the D&C makes it clear that cultural context was very important to interpreting Latter Day Saint doctrines and opinions. To extricate these from the article would to take things out of context, or kept overly simplified, and thus keep the reader in ignorance. The Jade Knight 07:19, 21 April 2006 (UTC)
I think that historical topics should be treated in historical context and be told in roughly historical (chronological) order. Exceptions can be made, but then must be justified. (For instance, two parallel but eventually merging historical stories would be too confusing to be told in strictly chronological order.) If one believes that the church founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. was inspired by God, then that is one context that must be followed. If one believes that the lineage of said church follows through The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then there are official statements that denying of the priesthood to blacks was inspired by God, but no revelation is given publicly that states this position. Then, the extension of the priesthood to all worthy male members of the church was also inspired by God, but the Official Declaration 2 is the most official that we have about that. But if one does not believe that the church founded by Joseph Smith, Jr. was ever inspired by God, then everything that was done by said church or its descendants is cultural context, filtered through the views of a few men. There is no sitting on the proverbial fence. Val42 00:46, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
I think the topic should be addressed from both viewpoints, as our readers will hold both. The Jade Knight 20:36, 22 April 2006 (UTC)