Let’s make something perfectly clear. The LDS Church doesn’t hate the blacks. In fact, some of the LDS Church’s closest friends are black! Take a look at this chart of the 100+ General Authorities that lead the LDS Church — all of the black General Authorities have been circled. As you can see, there are plenty of black General Authorities.
And if, by chance, the LDS Church did have a slightly racist history, it most certainly would not try to whitewash* it.
Apparently somebody forgot to tell BYU professor Randy Bott.
In a Washington Post interview this past Tuesday, Bott cheerily, and naively, explained the reasons as to why African-American men were unable to hold the magical priesthood until 1978:
“God has always been discriminatory… [blacks requesting the priesthood is] like a young child prematurely asking for the keys to her father’s car…”
“[Black Mormons] couldn’t fall off the top of the ladder because you weren’t on the top of the ladder. So, in reality the blacks not having the priesthood was the greatest blessing god could give them.”
Naturally, African-American Mormons were offended, BYU students planned a protest, and a motherfucking hashtag was created on Twitter.
And then the LDS Church got involved. In a press release issued to the media on Wednesday, the LDS Church stated [emphasis added]:
“The positions attributed to BYU professor Randy Bott in a recent Washington Post article absolutely do not represent the teachings and doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
“For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent. It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago.”
In summary: “We’re not racist, and we don’t know why we do the things we do, and we’re not explaining anything.”**
So a BYU professor shares his mildly racist beliefs with the Washington Post, and the LDS Church responds by publicly shaming him in a press release.
I have a question!
Where do you suppose Professor Bott learned his wack-a-doodle opinions, regarding African-Americans?
“Any man having one drop of the seed of [Cain] … in him cannot hold the Priesthood and if no other Prophet ever spoke it before I will say it now in the name of Jesus Christ I know it is true and others know it”
–President Brigham Young, 1852
“Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes.”
–President George Albert Smith, 1949
“If that Negro is faithful all his days, he can and will enter the celestial kingdom. He will go there as a servant, but he will get a celestial resurrection.”
–Apostle Mark E. Petersen, 1954
“Negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned.”
–Apostle Bruce R. McConkie, 1958
Wow, those are some really fucking awkward quotes.
I have another question!
The LDS Church also stated in their press release that “We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.” So does that mean the LDS Church condemns many of its own prophets and apostles?
The reality is, the LDS Church has a racist history. And so does the United States! Our country used to own slaves, we forced black people to ride in the back of the bus, and we assume all black presidents are Kenyan Marxists. Racism is a horrible part of American history, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Only by admitting — and accepting — our racist past, can we move forward.
For the LDS Church to claim that nobody knows “precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church” is not only disingenuous, but blatantly dishonest. That’s like me saying “nobody knows why, how, or when I drank this entire bottle of scotch before Sacrament Meeting.”
The LDS Church has a racist history. And it knows it. Perhaps instead of throwing elderly professors under the bus for simply teaching what was taught to them, the Church should admit “we used to not allow black men to hold the priesthood because we used to be kind of racist.”
*No pun intended.
**Vote Romney in 2012.