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Saints Unscripted - Series of Vids Re: Blacks and the Priesthood


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31 minutes ago, rodheadlee said:

My relatives from Missouri fought on each side of the war. It's not all that cut and dried. 

Exactly.  Missouri had citizens with sympathies on both sides.  A huge influx of anti-slavery religious weirdos was more than enough to upset the applecart, and a lot of people who lived there did not want the applecart to tip that direction.  

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30 minutes ago, rongo said:

Do you have a citation for baptisms in Canada? I'm sure you do --- I'm just interested in seeing them. That is news to me. 

It's in the link I posted under the section titled "Mission to Canada".

30 minutes ago, rongo said:

As far as William Smith ordaining Walker Lewis --- William many issues that ultimately led to his excommunication. Some of this was due to rebelliousness and stubbornness in fighting against policy, doctrines, and practices. B.H. Roberts records a touching account of visiting him in his wretchedness while on his mission, and he quotes a blessing Joseph Smith gave him addressing this tendency in him. I can conceive of William's ordination of Walker Lewis as being a case of "going rogue."

Wilford Woodruff and Brigham Young were both aware of his race and ordination and made no question or concern of it in their letters to each other.  More importantly, he was not banished from or prohibited from exercising his priesthood (which wouldn't make sense that Able would be prohibited but not Lewis).

30 minutes ago, rongo said:

Obviously, serving as a missionary is "exercising his priesthood" to some degree, but I thought that he had been prohibited from performing ordinances. If I can be shown that he baptized people, I will have learned something today. :) 

He wasn't just a regular missionary but was ordained to the office of 70 in the third quorum of the priesthood.  Seems like a strange ordination and calling...where he was reconfirmed several times...if he was not allowed to baptize - since that is kind of the purpose of missionary work.  But as the link shows, he did indeed baptize several. 

Edited by pogi
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29 minutes ago, rongo said:

Is there any record of Walker Lewis ever performing any ordinances? 

I did post a link to one article which mentions "at least three" black members ordained to the priesthood in Joseph Smith's lifetime, but only lists the names of the two you mention.  I am not aware of any others. 

Edited by pogi
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4 minutes ago, pogi said:

I did post a link to one article which mentions "at least three" black members ordained to the priesthood in Joseph Smith's lifetime, but only lists the names of the two you mention.  I am not aware of any others. 

Right, but is there any record of Walker Lewis ever performing any ordinances?

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10 minutes ago, pogi said:

It's in the link I posted under the section titled "Mission to Canada".

That mentions one baptism (Eunice Ross Kinney), but in her account of it, she has Abel as having been "ordained by Joseph the martyr." Does this source get the Zebedee Coltrin treatment (thrown out of court due to discrepancies as recalled decades later)? :) 

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3 hours ago, rongo said:

That mentions one baptism (Eunice Ross Kinney), but in her account of it, she has Abel as having been "ordained by Joseph the martyr." Does this source get the Zebedee Coltrin treatment (thrown out of court due to discrepancies as recalled decades later)? :) 

Was it common for everyone to know accurately who ordained those who baptized them?  Sincere question.  Wasn’t Joseph’s signature on his license? Unless I misunderstood, that was why many thought Joseph was the one who had likely ordained him until the Ambrose Palmer document was found?

Edited by Calm
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1 minute ago, Calm said:

Then why did others refer to Lewis approvingly as an Elder?

What's done was done. There really wasn't a need to "remove" ordinations from, what, two men in the whole church? Especially if Walker Lewis isn't really likely to be performing ordinances. 

He could rightly be regarded as a brother elder, because he was ordained by one having authority. I see it as the same as the man in my mission who should not have been baptized, per Church policy, but was due to a mistake on the part of the sisters. We were glad that he was --- he was a solid member of the Church with a testimony. Sometimes, what is done is done. 

 

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32 minutes ago, rongo said:

What's done was done. There really wasn't a need to "remove" ordinations from, what, two men in the whole church? Especially if Walker Lewis isn't really likely to be performing ordinances. 

He could rightly be regarded as a brother elder, because he was ordained by one having authority. I see it as the same as the man in my mission who should not have been baptized, per Church policy, but was due to a mistake on the part of the sisters. We were glad that he was --- he was a solid member of the Church with a testimony. Sometimes, what is done is done. 

 

That is correct, what is done is done and no amount of conjecture, speculation, and downplaying of events can change that.  There is absolutely no evidence of a policy that banned  blacks from the priesthood in Joseph’s lifetime.  In fact, there is proof that at least 2 black men were ordained as late as the year Joseph was murdered.  There is proof that leadership knew about it, including Joseph Smith,  allowed it, and made no effort to correct any “mistake”.  On the contrary, Able served missions and baptized under the direction of the church leaders.

Edited by pogi
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Joseph Smith had written on Able’s license:

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has been ordained an Elder according to the rules & regulations of said church, & is duly authorized to preach the gospel agreeably to the authority of that Office.

If he did not have the authority to baptize, why wouldn’t that have been included given the default understanding is Elders are allowed to baptize and confirm and otherwise exercise their priesthood?

https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/license-for-elijah-able-31-march-1836/1#source-note

And isn’t one documented baptism enough to demonstrate that at least Able understood he had the blessing to baptize at that time.  If he had been sent on a mission to only preach, but was not to baptize, why wouldn’t he have known?

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Reeve makes the point in the second video that using the Levite Priesthood as an example of priesthood restriction is faulty. Levite priests at the time functioned not as the only ones with temple privileges, but rather like temple workers today. They facilitated access to the temple for all the rest of the faith community.  Everyone had temple access, everyone was participated in the ordinances. (My memory is perhaps women were excluded…need to look at the temple setup again, but all male Israelites were allowed to participate).

Added:  looks like I misunderstood. There was a special area for women, but participation appears to be the same.  Need to read more, but just got my new progressive lenses and not going to do a lot of detailed reading for the next few days while I get used to them.  Maybe I will get hooked on podcasts instead, lol. 
 

———

Jews before Gentiles…

False because Jesus himself taught Samaritans and he cites approvingly the faith of a Roman centurion. 
 

——

Giving blacks would destroy the church…there were many accusations in the first decades that obviously didn’t destroy the Church.  And the Ban did not remove the scorn targeted the Church based on the belief outside the Church that there was interracial mixing.

Edited by Calm
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Reeves states starting at 14 minutes that we can’t say ‘God instituted the ban but we don’t know why’ because Brigham Young is very “adamant” in why the Ban took place and that was the Curse of Cain barred them from the Priesthood. (His February speech).  Reeves states with the new Pittman transcriptions of speeches, we can trace the origin clearly. 

Edited by Calm
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According to this article, there were at least 5 black men ordained to the priesthood in Joseph's lifetime.   I would like to see their sources though:

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Black Pete (1831 OH), Elijah Abel (1835 OH), Joseph T. Ball (1837 MA), Isaac van Meter (<1837 ME), and Walker and Enoch Lewis (Fall 1843-Nov. 1844 MA). Since Ohio had a law discouraging Blacks from migrating there, this put a damper on early proselyting efforts which were largely based on the principle of the gathering.[13] Parley Pratt wrote in 1839 that the Church had less than a dozen Black members.[14]

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/answers/Mormonism_and_racial_issues/Blacks_and_the_priesthood/Origin_of_the_priesthood_ban


 

The fact that there were not more known black priesthood holders seems to suggest to some that these seemingly rare cases can be easily dismissed or excused as understandable and simple mistakes/outliers in a fledgling church. 

In 1849 (the earliest known declaration of a priesthood ban) there were only 20 known black members.  "Only seven of the twenty thus far identified [black members] were men, and three of these were slaves (Mormonism's Negro Doctrine)."

We do know from history that in Missouri the gospel was halted from being preached to slaves after political tensions and suspicions/accusations of Mormons empowering and stirring up slaves to rebel against their masters created conflict in the region and for the church.  The only way a slave could be baptized is if the slave master was baptized first and allowed for it.  In practice (though no official policy is known), the priesthood was not given to slaves likely to appease fears of empowering slaves...  Joseph Smith eventually gave counsel for missionaries to only go to free states and avoid slave states likely due to these tensions and suspicions.    So, of the 4 black freemen members, at least 2 (or 50%) of them had been ordained to the priesthood.  It appears that there may be evidence however that all 4 freemen had received the priesthood and possibly a 5th slave too.   

What seems like a ridiculously small number (2-5 out of 20+ blacks) who were actually given the priesthood, suddenly seems like a much more substantial number considering that the vast majority of the handful of black members were either women or slaves.   Even if only 2 out of 4 can be definitely proven, 50% is no longer an outlier number. 

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My position is that the ban and its removal were both inspired, but not for the reasons most give. I think it was initially implemented because society at the time was so racist that full acceptance of blacks would have threatened the survival of the church, similar to how polygamy almost caused the end of the church because society couldn't handle it. Having said that, I don't know that church leaders thought they were implementing it for that reason, and they may have had fully racist intentions. But I think God allowed or even inspired the ban for that reason, even if the leaders went with it for other reasons. 

Regarding the end of the ban, although society was ready prior to 1978, I don't think the church was. I think most members had bought into all the racist teachings and explanations of the ban that had been used in the late 1800s and early 1900s to the point that ending the ban prior to that would also have threatened the church. That, in combination with some top leaders of the church not really wanting to end the ban led to it continuing longer than it needed to.

That's all opinion and conjecture on my part, and I'm open to changing my opinion based on new information. But based on my own study and prayer, that's the conclusion I've arrived at. I'm sure many disagree, but I'm just putting it out there as my perspective, not to debate the point.

Edited by rchorse
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26 minutes ago, rchorse said:

My position is that the ban and its removal were both inspired, but not for the reasons most give. I think it was initially implemented because society at the time was so racist that full acceptance of blacks would have threatened the survival of the church, similar to how polygamy almost caused the end of the church because society couldn't handle it. Having said that, I don't know that church leaders thought they were implementing it for that reason, and they may have had fully racist intentions. But I think God allowed or even inspired the ban for that reason, even if the leaders went with it for other reasons. 

Regarding the end of the ban, although society was ready prior to 1978, I don't think the church was. I think most members had bought into all the racist teachings and explanations of the ban that had been used in the late 1800s and early 1900s to the point that ending the ban prior to that would also have threatened the church. That, in combination with some top leaders of the church not really wanting to end the ban led to it continuing longer than it needed to.

That's all opinion and conjecture on my part, and I'm open to changing my opinion based on new information. But based on my own study and prayer, that's the conclusion I've arrived at. I'm sure many disagree, but I'm just putting it out there as my perspective, not to debate the point.

So your theory is that the ban was in place to allow the Church to function in a society that was racist that wouldn't have accepted a fully non-racist Church?

I find that interesting since a similar motivation was given by President Woodruff in issuing the Manifesto to end plural marriage - ie that he did it to save the Church and Temples from confiscation.

Preserving the continuation of the Church at all costs is priority one?

Edited by JLHPROF
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17 hours ago, Calm said:

Reeves states starting at 14 minutes that we can’t say ‘God instituted the ban but we don’t know why’ because Brigham Young is very “adamant” in why the Ban took place and that was the Curse of Cain barred them from the Priesthood. (His February speech).  Reeves states with the new Pittman transcriptions of speeches, we can trace the origin clearly. 

Lester Bush makes similar observations:

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While it is now popular among Mormons to argue that the basis for the priesthood denial to Negroes is unknown, no uncertainty was evident in the discourses of Brigham Young. From the initial remark in 1849 throughout his presidency, every known discussion of this subject by Young (or any other leading Mormon) invoked the connection with Cain as the justification for denying the priesthood to blacks. "

The exact same justification for the priesthood ban was used by Brigham to justify slavery.

Quote

[T]he Lord put a mark upon [Cain], which is the flat nose and the black skin.  Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race - that they should be the "servant of servants;" and they will, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree.

Both slavery and the priesthood ban were instituted in Utah at the same time using that single justification through powerful and prophetic sounding language, but with no claim to revelation.  So, how is it the that some members dismiss the institution of slavery in Utah as being uninspired, but not the priesthood ban when both used the exact same justification?  It doesn't make sense to me.   Because the justification for both slavery and the priesthood ban were the same, it seems entirely unreasonable to suggest that one was from God and the other was not.  Based on what evidence?  

Brigham Young also said in what again sounds like unquestionable revelatory language:

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"When all the other children of Adam have the privilege of receiving the Priesthood, and of coming into the kingdom of God, and of being redeemed from the four quarters of the earth, and have received their resurrection from the dead, then it will be time enough to remove the curse from Cain and his posterity. " (1854);88 "[ujntil the last ones of the residue of Adam's children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood" (1859);89 "[w]hen 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" (1866).90

Clearly a prediction (which would be hard not do be perceived as prophecy by early members) which has failed the test of time - like much of the other prophetic sounding language Brigham used surrounding race.  The priesthood ban, slavery, and all these other false predictions/prophecies all stem from the same failed and false belief in the curse of Cain.  One cannot dissect the priesthood ban from all of these other issues in an intellectually honest way and say that it was inspired but the rest was not.    
 

Edited by pogi
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3 minutes ago, bluebell said:

It does make you wonder if the previous church leaders hadn't spent so much time coming up with reasons for the ban and then teaching them over the pulpit and in manuals, if the church would have been ready and able to accept the end of the ban much earlier than it did.

Extrapolating doctrine from other doctrine seems to turn out badly for us.  I wonder if we'll ever stop doing it.

Yep.  We need to spend more time searching the scriptures and working to improve our capacity to apply the basic precepts of the Gospel in our lives.  Speculation and conjecture as to matters for which we lack sufficient light and knowledge should be a secondary, peripheral exercise.

65roc1.jpg

Thanks,

-Smac

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3 hours ago, rchorse said:

I think it was initially implemented because society at the time was so racist that full acceptance of blacks would have threatened the survival of the church, similar to how polygamy almost caused the end of the church because society couldn't handle it

And yet it appears the Ban made little difference as accusations against the Church for racemixing continued all along.  
 

Have you watched the podcasts?

Edited by Calm
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I found the Reeve book and am now reading the JFS and the ban pages as indicated by the index.

Recap in process:  

Covered a case where a white man was excommunicated for a plural marriage to a black woman (racemixing the obvious issue).  The assume discipline was going to be pull his priesthood.  He never showed up at the council, so exed.  Later went to Utah with his white wife snd was rebaptized.  “Death on the spot” does not appear to have been contemplated by anyone in spite of rhetoric  

Investigation in 1879 into the status of blacks.   Why would this be necessary if the Ban was “firm and universally understood” and unambiguous as it was treated later on?  If temple ban was standard, what need of questioning with the Prophet leading?

John Taylor interviews Coltrin and Smoot. JFS interviews Elijah Able. In the meeting, Able’s PB is read and entered into minutes. It confirms he is an Elder.  JFS states Coltrin’s memory is incorrect when he says Able was dropped from Seventies. He gives correct facts based on two certificates Able has shown him, his ordination certificate and his renewal. Able had told him Joseph Smith had personally confirmed to him he was entitled to priesthood. 
 

Next part covers contradictions in Coltrin’s memory as well as Able’s activities in the Chirch that strongly support he was clearly known to be black from the beginning and he had a solid belief he was both entitled to the Priesthood and deserving of being sealed to his family in the temple. 
 

Able received another certificate confirming priesthood and his obituary speaks of both his race and his priesthood service.

Page 199:  In 1908, JFS “inexplicably reversed himself and falsely reported” that at some point Able’s priesthood was declared “null and void”.  Also calls it “moment of historical forgetfulness”.

Discusses how Pres. Taylor began the process of hardening the Ban and Pres Smith solidified it.  Then moves on to other cases.

Taking break.  No use of false memory yet. 

Edited by Calm
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16 minutes ago, Calm said:

“Death on the spot” does not appear to have been contemplated by anyone in spite of rhetoric

The fact that no one was ever "blood atoned" for was something that was painfully clear to me when I read Journal of Discourses. Despite the colorful and sometimes heated rhetoric, "death on the spot" never happened with miscegenation, as you said (not in Utah Territory or other Mormon areas, anyway. It probably did in the South). 

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/archive/publications/dead-men-tell-no-tales  (FAIR no longer has my photo or name attached, I guess) :) 

22 minutes ago, Calm said:

Investigation in 1879 into the status of blacks.   Why would this be necessary if the Ban was “firm and universally understood” and unambiguous as it was treated later on?  If temple ban was standard, what need of questioning with the Prophet leading?

Simple. Jane Manning James had appealed to President Taylor for temple blessings, and despite his views on the matter, wanted to explore whether it could be done or not. That led to the interviews at Smoot's home in Provo. 

His views appear to have been unchanged from the investigation, but I think it's weak sauce for Reeve to argue that the investigation is evidence of it being unsettled and ambiguous. I think President Taylor wanted to do everything that could be done for Sister James. 

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3 hours ago, rchorse said:

I think it was initially implemented because society at the time was so racist that full acceptance of blacks would have threatened the survival of the church, similar to how polygamy almost caused the end of the church because society couldn't handle it.

I think that there was more than enough diversity in America on the issue of race to support a small and fledgling church who did not deprive blacks of the priesthood to grow and survive.  It really was not much of an issue for growth in the church until Brigham Young made it one.  The abolitionist movement (including all those sympathetic to it) in America was not small, and was growing, plus Joseph was focusing all his missionary efforts on the free states.   As history demonstrates, it became the dominant and victorious movement in America - contrary to Brigham Young's false predictions/prophecies based on false beliefs of Cain's curse.  The momentum, movement, growth, and eventual victory was with the equal rights/civil rights movement.   Mormonism was found to be on the wrong side of history with these issues.  With a very short outlook, the ban probably had minimal to no effect on growth - but from a long-term growth perspective, the ban has hurt growth FAR more than it ever helped it.  If anything it, it serves better as a test of faith to see who can endure the history than it is a tool instigated for church growth.  

The church was most vulnerable in the early church pre-Utah, and yet it survived this period and thrived growth despite the lack of any priesthood ban and despite the priesthood being given to black men in the church, the church survived this most vulnerable period.  By the time the ban was finally instigated in Utah, the roots of the church had been set and were not about to be toppled over by a handful of blacks holding the priesthood. 

To me, it seems evident that Brigham instigated the ban out of false beliefs about the seed of Cain.  He was not uncertain.  How could he NOT ban the priesthood from blacks with such a certainty (though it be false) of belief?  He didn't need a revelation (nor did he ever claim one) to ban the priesthood, he had all the justification he needed in his certainty. 

Here is one way to look at it - Brigham instigated the ban and also prophesied about when it would end.  He was clearly wrong about the ending of it, which gives us more than enough reason to question the inspiration behind the beginning of it too. 

Instead of celebrating strong leadership in the church from people like Walker Lewis (whom almost no one even knows about) who as a prominent black leader and abolitionist activist and worked in the underground railroad and was also a man of faith and priesthood in the church who stuck around when other white priesthood members in his branch were dropping like flies - he was the sole survivor of faith.  He gave up his position and influence in the community and his efforts to fight for civil rights and equality to come to Utah.  How devastating it must have been for him that months after his arrival slavery was made legal in the territory and blacks were banned from the priesthood.  What could have been one of the great figures and stories of pride in our history, became a great tragedy.  Think of who Walker Lewis could have inspired in our church!  Think of the potential growth that could have come from his vision and leadership! He is an American hero for his efforts, but he has become an Mormon unknown.  An enigma of Mormon history.     

 

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20 minutes ago, rongo said:

Simple. Jane Manning James had appealed to President Taylor for temple blessings, and despite his views on the matter, wanted to explore whether it could be done or not. That led to the interviews at Smoot's home in Provo. 

No, it was Able’s desire to be sealed to his wife.  James began her appeals the day Able died.

After that meeting there were other meetings still investigating according to Reeve, including for James.

Quote

I think it's weak sauce for Reeve to argue that the investigation is evidence of it being unsettled and ambiguous. 

He is arguing if there was a temple ban, why not just say no to Able instead of having the investigation (where JFS confirmed Able’s Priesthood).  He is arguing the multiple meetings/inquiries still discussing the issue and what to do between 1879 and 1908 are evidence it was unsettled.  There was a case of a white woman who had divorced her black husband and remarrying a white man being barred because she had two daughters by her first husband,  Another case was two black men being ordained by the missionary who baptized them.  Another was of a man who was 1/8 whose fiancé  was worried he couldn’t get the priesthood or be endowed.  Another was if white blood dominated, could a man be ordained.  Another was about a white man married to a black woman.  And then there is Jane.

Edited by Calm
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