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Prez Candidate Huntsman Weighs In On Priesthood Ban


smac97

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Here:

TAPPER: Do you think it's fair for reporters or members of the public to ask candidates about their faith?

HUNTSMAN: I think it's fair, but it doesn't matter what I think about it, reporters are going to ask regardless.

TAPPER: Well, OK. Here I go then.

You're Mormon. Until you were 18, your church had racist rules. It would not allow anyone with African ancestry to become a priest and blacks were also banned from participating in certain Mormon ordinances, such as temple marriages. Then the leadership of the church, in 1978, announced something along the lines of that God had changed his mind or the rules had changed because of revelation. You seem to be a thinking man. What was it like to go through this as a -- as a young man, your church having racist rules and then all of a sudden, God says no more?

HUNTSMAN: I think it was wrong, plain and simple. I think it was wrong. I think it was something that divided people, divided friends and maybe even divided families. I believe they -- they saw the errors of their way and they made a policy change. And I think they're much better because of it.

TAPPER: Did it make you question at all your faith?

HUNTSMAN: Well, over the years, of course, you can't help but reflect on -- on certain policies. Any church, any religion is -- any religious tradition, I'm sure in their decades or centuries of history, would have some episodes that would cause you to look back and question it a little bit. But you put everything in perspective, or at least you try to.

I think he did a reasonably good job here. He could have given a more nuanced, expository type of explanation, but his straight-forward answer of "it was wrong, plain and simple" was the better way to go for a political candidate.

I wonder how many Latter-day Saints share his belief that the priesthood ban was "wrong, plain and simple." Do you agree? Was the priesthood ban a policy originating under Brigham Young's tenure as President which later becoming so entrenched as to be quasi-doctrinal and requiring a revelation to un-entrench it? Or was it divinely-instituted and then later divinely-rescinded (like the way provisions of the Law of Moses were instituted and then later rescinded)?

My question to my fellow Latter-day Saints is: How would you respond to the questions posed to Mr. Huntsman (assume you are not a presidential candidate, just an average John or Jane Q. Mormon)?

Thanks,

Spencer

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I believe many more question it, but are withholding any judgement because they do not know. When you say it is "wrong" you state that you have weighed the evidence and you have all the evidence you need, and therefore feel confident to judge it.

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I cannot will not say our leaders were in error having said that I do believe its origins were with Brigham Young and was happy when President Kimball had the revelation. It was a different time and a hard time to conceptualize without presentism.

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Here:

I think he did a reasonably good job here. He could have given a more nuanced, expository type of explanation, but his straight-forward answer of "it was wrong, plain and simple" was the better way to go for a political candidate.

I think the second part of his answer was good, but the first was terrible. I wouldn't at all say it was "wrong" etc.

Because I actually have studied this issue, and don't think it was. I even left the Church over it, and came back when I finally understood it, the Church, the history, and the scriptures.

I would thus say it was a terrible answer, and completely misrepresents the Church.

I wonder how many Latter-day Saints share his belief that the priesthood ban was "wrong, plain and simple." Do you agree? Was the priesthood ban a policy originating under Brigham Young's tenure as President which later becoming so entrenched as to be quasi-doctrinal and requiring a revelation to un-entrench it? Or was it divinely-instituted and then later divinely-rescinded (like the way provisions of the Law of Moses were instituted and then later rescinded)?

There are a few, and they drive me nuts. You're basically telling people that the Church isn't lead by God.

No, I absolutely don't agree. I absolutely believe it was divinely instituted. I believe God had his purposes, and I believe it was because of the Racism in the world, not because of racism by the Church. It's also possible it was instituted because of a particular scriptural interpretation, but I believe the "spirit" of it's institution was entirely due because of the racism in the world.

I don't believe it was "racist" because it wasn't ran like it was racist. It didn't deny "all" blacks, if it had been racism, it would have.

I also don't believe Brigham Young instituted it, I believe it began with Joseph, and just like with Christ and the Gospel being given to a couple of Gentiles, as an exception to the rule, Joseph and others ordained some African's as an exception to the rule, according to the spirit and the faith of those men.

My question to my fellow Latter-day Saints is: How would you respond to the questions posed to Mr. Huntsman (assume you are not a presidential candidate, just an average John or Jane Q. Mormon)?

I would first say his initial premise was a false premise. That it wasn't a racist policy at all. I would then explain that if it had been racism by the Church, the policy would have included all blacks of the earth. Yet, blacks of Central/South America, the Islands, India etc. were given the Priesthood from the very beginning, or at least when it was determined they were not of African Lineage, and they were often just as black as any African black man. I would explain that God had restricted the Priesthood in seeming racist ways in the past such as the Levites only being allowed to have the Priesthood while all other Tribes i.e. Lineages were banned from it. I would explain that even when Christ was on the earth he denied the Gospel to be given to any non-Jews, that it took Peter after Christ's death to be given a revelation to then take the Gospel to the Gentile. Was Christ a racist? I don't think anyone would believe that. Was God or Christ a racist simply because no where in scripture is slavery condemned?

I would also say that his condescension was inappropriate. That the Church or God didn't simply "change his mind". I would say that through all of scripture the Priesthood has gradually progressed and given to even more and more people. And that it is my belief that the reason the ban existed was not because of the racism in or by the Church, it was because of the racism in the World itself. I would then ask him, can you tell me what happened by 1978 in America and even much of the world? I would then say Racism finally ended. That the black man was finally "free". The Priesthood of God cannot operate under compulsion. Thus, it is my belief that God gave the Priesthood exactly when the African black man was to have it. I would then say, that I would also like to note that there were even white individuals who had direct African Lineage who were denied the Priesthood. Was the Church racist against "whites"?

Thanks,

Spencer

You're welcome.....

The Church remains intact and still true by my response above..... But certainly not by Huntsman..... He just treats us like any other religion out there, like the Catholics who also have "bad pasts". To me, that is wrong and it is false.

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I have concluded that it was a policy to stop ordaining those of African heritage to the priesthood; it was not a revelation, but simply the action of men that made it so. Does this mean that God does not lead the Church? No, it does not. It means that men have an influence on the Church and will continue to have an influence on the Church as long as they do not humble themselves before him. Jesus taught us to follow the Spirit first and foremost and nothing is more difficult than that directive. Some men prefer to follow scriptures as they understand them. This was one of the reasons that this policy was perpetuated for so long; some men would not forfeit their understanding of scripture.

I also think that men called of God are both blessed and cursed depending upon the way in which they serve. It will not surprise me if many brethren suffer deeply for the creation and continuation of this errant policy. Conversely, I believe that our black brothers and sisters will be richly blessed for this period when they were prevented from attending the temple.

As an aside, I regret deeply that President McKay was not able to change the policy in his day. Hugh B. Brown was a giant in the first presidency that went unheeded by those of far dimmer minds and spirits.

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I don't believe we will ever know Gods' reasons for the Ban this side of the veil. I am thankful that it was lifted in my lifetime.

I don't think it's a question of "God's reasons." Rather, it was Brigham Young's reasons. If there ever was a revelation denying blacks the priesthood, I've never heard of it. Presumably, without revelation from God, things people do are just that--things people do.

Huntsman is right--it was wrong, plain and simple. Accuse me of "presentism" if you want, but some things are just wrong, and just because they were done over a hundred years ago doesn't make them right. Besides, this is actually something quite recent, right into 1978.

FWIW, I find it refreshing that Huntsman was willing to be that frank. I suspect Romney would have given a much more "weasely" answer.

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DH:

As BY is no longer with us. I think we'll just have to WAFO.

I too have my doubts that God is the Ban's author. But if he was, it would be nothing new at least according to the Bible. We still don't allow women into the Priesthood.

My personal belief is that the Ban was not a test for the faithful Blacks. It was a test for the White memebers of the Church to see how they would treat our brothers and sisters of a different hue.

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FWIW, I find it refreshing that Huntsman was willing to be that frank. I suspect Romney would have given a much more "weasely" answer.

By that, do you mean you think Romney would have lied, or that he would have given an answer where the church wasn't 'wrong' by adhereing to the ban?

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By that, do you mean you think Romney would have lied, or that he would have given an answer where the church wasn't 'wrong' by adhereing to the ban?

I mean Romney has a history of flip-flopping, rather than straightforwardly saying what he thinks. But I guess that's extremely common among politicians, eh?

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I mean Romney has a history of flip-flopping, rather than straightforwardly saying what he thinks. But I guess that's extremely common among politicians, eh?

I suspect any answer that doesn't put the church in a bad light you would call "flip flopping" unless of course you have proof that Romney flip flopped in what he has said regarding the church. While I don't agree with all of the things Romney has done politically, I would say he was very very consistent in what he has said regarding the church and its history.

Perhaps you can show us all how Romney has flip flopped in regards to a church response?

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I don't mind Huntsman's answer as he is giving his opinion, but I don't like this part:

I believe they -- they saw the errors of their way and they made a policy change. And I think they're much better because of it.
Underlined part by me for emphasis.

This gives the impression that the ban or the revelation to lift the ban were just something the apostles came up with. I like others have often thought the ban was not right, but the lift I have always thought was revelation. I tend to think that the leaders do sometimes get things a bit mixed up, but that God fixes them when they need to be fixed by revelation. I don't believe the ban was a revelation. That being said, I am okay with being wrong on it so Hinckley probably gave the best answer for it.

However for politics and since Huntsman wasn't answering for church members, he gave a good answer that could be understood by the masses.

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You are going to have to be more specific. An online book isn't helpful. In other words, if you are linking a book, show us where in the book you feel your position is vindicated.

The entire paper (from BYU studies, and a excerpt from the expanded Lengthen Your Stride: The Presidency of Spence W. Kimball by Edward Kimball) is the history of the ban, and the process leading to President Kimball's fabulous revelation. Frankly, I think everyone should read what it lays out to help inform one's view and opinion of the matter under discussion. The entire paper, in my opinion, vindicates Jeremy's position.

There is a lot of documentation, and a lot we do know about the process. It's all laid out here in the book. It's not as big a mystery as some might hope it is.

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An error many off shoot churches make is that any revelation had to come through Joseph Smith and any that came through Joseph Smith could not be changed by further revelation later. We know that isn't the case though. Especially when one considers other revelations such as the Word of Wisdom or polygamy.

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An error many off shoot churches make is that any revelation had to come through Joseph Smith and any that came through Joseph Smith could not be changed by further revelation later. We know that isn't the case though. Especially when one considers other revelations such as the Word of Wisdom or polygamy.

while I understand what you are saying concerning polygamy, a revelation which the body of the Church sustained and a revelation which was given with "thus sayeth the Lord", Is quite different and apart from the racist tones of BY.

concerning the end of the ban, there is also stated revelation sustained by the body of the Church, yet the banning does not appear to be of revelation or sustaining by the body of the Church. If there is "revelation" it is found in sources which seemed to be considered less than authoritative by lds, but a favorite source of the "anti" crowd.

edit: I agree that what one Prophet states in the capacity, calling, and ordination as Prophet does not necessitate an eternal, un-ending and everylasting requirement on the body of the Church.

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To begin with, tone needs to be understood in context. Lincoln would also be described as racist based on the logic you present. He considered African Americans inferior and admitted to as much. And consider that Brigham Young was instrumental in passing an amendment equal to the 14th amendment before the US did. What in effect does that say in regard to a somewhat dismissive position regarding Brigham Young's "racist tone". Could you differentiate Brigham Young's tone from Lincoln's? Can you differentiate the Emancipation Proclamation which in effect freed no one, when compared to Young's pursuit of equal voting rights for African Americans?

Would you say, outside of a few that everyone in that time period was racist?

concerning the end of the ban, there is also stated revelation sustained by the body of the Church, yet the banning does not appear to be of revelation or sustaining by the body of the Church. If there is "revelation" it is found in sources which seemed to be considered less than authoritative by lds, but a favorite source of the "anti" crowd.

The priesthood ban is a vague area and difficult to fully reconcile, that is the truth of the matter. When specifically was the Word of Wisdom presented to the general church as a commandment and not an advisory? It is not clear when it became a commandment.

Personally I do not know the whole story, therefore I reserve judgment. An error? I would not deny that is possible, is there something else to be considered that we are not aware of? I see that as equally plausible given how the church attempted to uphold the rights and ensure voting rights for African Americans. Indeed the only thing I am sure of is that President Spencer W. Kimball who was a prophet at the time of the revelation granting priesthood to all was a prophet of God and presented to us a revelation that was without reservation, and without rancour. A revelation that humbled more than a few apostles who had not seen it coming, but felt the spirit dictate beyond their own personal theories. And that is all I know.

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My personal belief is that the Ban was not a test for the faithful Blacks. It was a test for the White memebers of the Church to see how they would treat our brothers and sisters of a different hue.

Well, that's certainly a better POV than the alternative. However, I think thousands of years of history have shown how people treat those who are different than them--the test was quite unnecessary.

My belief is that the Ban was instituted because Brigham Young was a racist (along with other people). That's what I honestly believe, and it's what I tell people who ask.

<soapbox> IMHO, we as a people need to learn to face the ugly truths in our history. Every group of people has its problems, nobody is exempt. However, just because there are unpleasant things in our history and in our current culture doesn't mean we don't have something of value to offer the world. By ignoring the bad we both lose credibility and miss an opportunity to improve. I think people would take us more seriously if we "got real" and said "Yeah, we've had our issues, including racism. But look at how the Gospel message has helped us overcome those weaknesses..." You know? </soapbox>

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DH:

No otherwise faithfull black memeber of the Church was/will be denied any blessing simply because they lack the Priesthood.

Was BY racist? Quite possibly. Was he any more racist than his contemporaries? Probably not. Was he any less racist than his contemporaries? There is some evidence that suggests he was. Alijah Able for one. Further the Southern Baptists came into being because they believed Blacks were not even people. Fortunately we will ALL be judged by what we did with what we were given.

It is the sad history of this sad world that people that are different than us, and not just skin hue, do tend to get the shorter end of the stick. But still that is no excuse to treat anyone badly. When I go before my maker I don't believe I'll be freed from fulfilling my responsibilities just bnecause someone else also didn't fulfill theirs.

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He could have given a more nuanced, expository type of explanation, but his straight-forward answer of "it was wrong, plain and simple" was the better way to go for a political candidate.

Yes. He essentially divorces himself from the Church. The ban wasn't racist but it is hard to convince others of that not having a background in our doctrine. The problem for potential converts hearing this of course is that they at some point get shocked by the truth of the matter and they come into the Church with less testimony of it than they should. For example, they would be more prone to oppose the Church on other issues because they feel the Church is wrong.

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