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Should anyone care about historical hate speech by senior Church leadership?


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During the Saturday Morning Session of General Conference on October 1, 2022, President Nelson said, “Any kind of abuse ... is an abomination to the Lord.”

That's a heartwarming soundbite, but what if some statements of prophets, seers, and revelators of yesteryear now qualify as abuse and/or hate speech according to dictionary definitions in 2023? Should it no longer matter because we've moved on?

Edited by The Great Pretender
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9 minutes ago, The Great Pretender said:

During the Saturday Morning Session of General Conference on October 1, 2022, President Nelson said, “Any kind of abuse ... is an abomination to the Lord.”

That's a heartwarming soundbite, but what if some statements of prophets, seers, and revelators of yesteryear now qualify as abuse and/or hate speech according to dictionary definitions in 2023? Should it no longer matter because we've moved on?

I think the importance of whether past statements qualify as hate speech by modern stranders depends on the objective and quality of the analysis.

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3 minutes ago, CV75 said:

I think the importance of whether past statements qualify as hate speech by modern stranders depends on the objective and quality of the analysis.

Thanks. I posted for a specific reason of course. While searching for material for a sacrament meeting speaking assignment, I came across two things that have left me feeling uneasy as a Church member of many years. Without the internet, I'd be none the wiser. Sometimes, I wish we had no access to so much information. I suspect it would be far easier to live in ignorance. It certainly used to be.

I ended up on the Wikipedia page for Mark E. Petersen. While Wikipedia isn't the word of God (lol), it has plenty going for it as a global resource. On that page, there's a section about controversial teachings, and I searched and found the article in question ("Race Problems - As they Affect the Church"). I found a few sources, which led me to be satisfied about its authenticity. What I read there now feels like ignorant hate speech. I then read a bunch of explanatory opinions about the text from the likes of the fairlatterdaysaints.org website, but I guess I'm left feeling dissatisfied. Elder Petersen had been an apostle for 10 years before he made some arguably hateful comments (I certainly view them that way), and he subsequently continued to serve for another 30 years, during which the Civil Rights Movement took place and the rights of the priesthood were extended to all worthy males. Despite that, Petersen never publicly retracted his comments. That suggests to me that he continued to believe that his views were correct. I'm not OK with that.

And then there's all the comments made about issues of gender and identity, much of which is definitely worthy of the label "abuse" by today's standards.

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I'm sure this thread will go well! :rolleyes:<_<  Anybody taking bets on the "over/under" how many posts it will take before it gets shut down?  (Just asking! :unknw:)  To aid in framing the discussion, perhaps, there is this, from Dictionary.com, s.v. "hate speech," last accessed January 23, 2023:
 

Quote

 

hate speech

noun

abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice on the basis of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or similar grounds.
"we don't tolerate any form of hate speech"

 

 

So, the foregoing definition has two prongs: (1) the "speech or writing" is "abusive or threatening" and (2) it "expresses prejudice on the basis of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or similar grounds."  Others' mileage will vary, of course, but, while the Brethren have said and written things that qualify as "hate speech" under the second prong, I wonder [though it's just my simple mind, I'm sure, and I'm sure the OP will enlighten me] what they have said and written that qualifies as "hate speech" under the first prong.

Even with regard to perhaps the "hot buttonest" of "hot button" issues, perhaps the crucible of our times, the Supreme Court has written:

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[R]eligions, and those who adhere to religious doctrines, may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned. The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered. The same is true of those who oppose same-sex marriage for other reasons.

Again, I'm sure it's just my simple mind, and I'm sure the OP will enlighten me, but I don't see how any religion that simply continues to approach the issue as described above (as it has done in the past) fairly can be said to have engaged in "hate speech."  With due respect, anyone who believes that leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ have done so ought (though this example is for illustrative purposes only, and no one ought to think that I'm singling out any other religion as a particular target for opprobrium) to listen to, say, a Conservative Southern Baptist (perhaps "fire and brimstone") preacher's take on the issue.

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51 minutes ago, The Great Pretender said:

During the Saturday Morning Session of General Conference on October 1, 2022, President Nelson said, “Any kind of abuse ... is an abomination to the Lord.”

That's a heartwarming soundbite, but what if some statements of prophets, seers, and revelators of yesteryear now qualify as abuse and/or hate speech according to dictionary definitions in 2023? Should it no longer matter because we've moved on?

the term hate speech and abuse are legal concepts and should be dealt with by legal authorities, if someone were to use these old quotations to justify hate speech or abuse today. If they do or don't "qualify" that's for the law to work out. I don't see a current leader in 2023 trying to perpetuate hate speech or abuse, as evidenced by your quotation. So, in my mind, should anyone care? the legal authorities should be involved if it did happen and local church leaders, if something became illegal.

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26 minutes ago, The Great Pretender said:

Thanks. I posted for a specific reason of course. While searching for material for a sacrament meeting speaking assignment, I came across two things that have left me feeling uneasy as a Church member of many years. Without the internet, I'd be none the wiser. Sometimes, I wish we had no access to so much information. I suspect it would be far easier to live in ignorance. It certainly used to be.

I ended up on the Wikipedia page for Mark E. Petersen. While Wikipedia isn't the word of God (lol), it has plenty going for it as a global resource. On that page, there's a section about controversial teachings, and I searched and found the article in question ("Race Problems - As they Affect the Church"). I found a few sources, which led me to be satisfied about its authenticity. What I read there now feels like ignorant hate speech. I then read a bunch of explanatory opinions about the text from the likes of the fairlatterdaysaints.org website, but I guess I'm left feeling dissatisfied. Elder Petersen had been an apostle for 10 years before he made some arguably hateful comments (I certainly view them that way), and he subsequently continued to serve for another 30 years, during which the Civil Rights Movement took place and the rights of the priesthood were extended to all worthy males. Despite that, Petersen never publicly retracted his comments. That suggests to me that he continued to believe that his views were correct. I'm not OK with that.

And then there's all the comments made about issues of gender and identity, much of which is definitely worthy of the label "abuse" by today's standards.

Can you post a link to the talk in question?

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35 minutes ago, The Great Pretender said:

Despite that, Petersen never publicly retracted his comments. That suggests to me that he continued to believe that his views were correct.

Not necessarily, quite a few people are embarrassed about being wrong and can only deal with it by avoiding and/or ignoring past comments, justifying this avoidance in my experience by believing it was over and done with and the more important thing is a new direction is taken.

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IMO, this is one of the really difficult issues.

On one hand, I think we need to extend grace towards historical figures because they often reflect the common attitudes and beliefs of their time and culture. As I think Patrick Mason has said, history is a foreign country, and we need to recognize that we are only visitors. While visiting, we may find that many of the beliefs and practices seem abhorrent to our own cultural sensibilities, but we need to be able to set our own sensibilities aside as a visitor to this foreign world.

On the other hand, I also think we need to be able to call out falsehoods and errors where we see them. We're a church that often makes a big deal out of eternal truth and absolute morality. I think we need to be able to state our disagreements with past prophets and apostles.

To me, where this gets really tricky is what does it mean for our "model" of prophets and revelation. why would God allow past prophets and apostles to teach and believe things that seem to us seem so morally black and white?

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11 minutes ago, Nevo said:

Does it "matter" that some previous Church leaders used insensitive language or harbored less-than-admirable views of other groups or pursued policies that harmed others? Sin always matters, so to the degree that sin was involved, it matters. It shouldn't be minimized or ignored. But does it affect my salvation? Not that I can see. 

It's easy to condemn Mark E. Petersen's comments in 1954 from our vantage point in 2023 as "not OK." But to judge him fairly I would have to do a "Freaky Friday"-style body swap so that I had all of his experiences and knowledge and understanding up to 1954 and none of mine up to 2023. Since I can't do that, I leave him in the hands of the God he served devotedly his whole life.

"Insensitive" speech is one thing, but I'm talking about nasty stuff.

What about serving apostles who repeatedly described "homosexuals" (including those who didn't act out) as "deviates" and "perverts" — or who suggested a link between homosexuality and "pedophilia" and bestiality? To me, that isn't insensitive; that's slander and therefore a form of abuse that has been conveniently overlooked.

It's easy to find some truly awful comments that are in stark contrast with what is professed today. However, the absence of any retraction by absolutely everyone with any Church authority suggests to me that the current softly, softly approach is simply an attempt to make the Church position appear more palatable. Yet without any form of apology or retraction, it feels disingenuous to me.

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1 hour ago, The Great Pretender said:

Thanks. I posted for a specific reason of course. While searching for material for a sacrament meeting speaking assignment, I came across two things that have left me feeling uneasy as a Church member of many years. Without the internet, I'd be none the wiser. Sometimes, I wish we had no access to so much information. I suspect it would be far easier to live in ignorance. It certainly used to be.

I ended up on the Wikipedia page for Mark E. Petersen. While Wikipedia isn't the word of God (lol), it has plenty going for it as a global resource. On that page, there's a section about controversial teachings, and I searched and found the article in question ("Race Problems - As they Affect the Church"). I found a few sources, which led me to be satisfied about its authenticity. What I read there now feels like ignorant hate speech. I then read a bunch of explanatory opinions about the text from the likes of the fairlatterdaysaints.org website, but I guess I'm left feeling dissatisfied. Elder Petersen had been an apostle for 10 years before he made some arguably hateful comments (I certainly view them that way), and he subsequently continued to serve for another 30 years, during which the Civil Rights Movement took place and the rights of the priesthood were extended to all worthy males. Despite that, Petersen never publicly retracted his comments. That suggests to me that he continued to believe that his views were correct. I'm not OK with that.

And then there's all the comments made about issues of gender and identity, much of which is definitely worthy of the label "abuse" by today's standards.

What is the topic of your sacrament meeting talk? These online resources are funny places to end up when you start with those found at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The topic of your talk in relation to your reaction to these online resources might turn out to be one of those instances where the talk helps the speaker more than the congregation.

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11 minutes ago, CV75 said:

What is the topic of your sacrament meeting talk? These online resources are funny places to end up when you start with those found at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints The topic of your talk in relation to your reaction to these online resources might turn out to be one of those instances where the talk helps the speaker more than the congregation.

Ha! It was a high council speaking assignment talk back in December, which was about temples and redeeming the dead. Totally unrelated, of course. But I went down a non-churchofjesuschrist.org rabbit hole when a Google link caught my eye. I don't ever believe what "people" write on the internet because any of us can be a hateful troll with an agenda. That's the problem with the internet.

My talk was just fine, but I've since been bothered by some things my searches turned up when I wasn't even looking for anything off topic. I wasn't about to take Wikipedia's word for it; but I found the content in several trustworthy places, and I was left feeling a bit dirty after reading it.

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2 hours ago, The Great Pretender said:

Should anyone care about historical hate speech by senior Church leadership?

Stacking the deck a bit here.

2 hours ago, The Great Pretender said:

During the Saturday Morning Session of General Conference on October 1, 2022, President Nelson said, “Any kind of abuse ... is an abomination to the Lord.”

Very sound counsel.

2 hours ago, The Great Pretender said:

That's a heartwarming soundbite,

Stacking the deck again.  We ought not diminish such weighty and important counsel from the living prophet by characterizing it as merely "a heartwarming soundbite."

2 hours ago, The Great Pretender said:

but what if some statements of prophets, seers, and revelators of yesteryear now qualify as abuse and/or hate speech according to dictionary definitions in 2023?  Should it no longer matter because we've moved on?

A few thoughts:

First, such an exercise (scouring historical sources for - as you put it - "soundbites" that offend contemporary sensibilities) would be a protracted exercise in presentism, that is, "uncritical adherence to present-day attitudes, especially the tendency to interpret past events in terms of modern values and concepts."

Second, presentism is, in my view, a substantively defective approach to studying historical events and persons.  Consider this assessment of it (presentism) :

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Presentism clouds an intellectually sound examination of history by giving a distorted, modernist view of history. It transforms the study of history from an intellectually honest inquiry into a mass of politically and emotionally charged means of furthering political and social agendas that have nothing to do with a genuine intellectual interest in learning the cultural roots of our current cultural ideals and realities.

Presentism does great harm to the genuine intellectual study of history.

I think this is an astute and correct appraisal.  See also these 2002 comments from Lynn Hunt, past president of the American History Association:

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Who isn't {against presentism}, you say? Hardly any "ism" these days has much of a scholarly following. Yet presentism besets us in two different ways: (1) the tendency to interpret the past in presentist terms; and (2) the shift of general historical interest toward the contemporary period and away from the more distant past.
...
Presentism, at its worst, encourages a kind of moral complacency and self-congratulation. Interpreting the past in terms of present concerns usually leads us to find ourselves morally superior; the Greeks had slavery, even David Hume was a racist, and European women endorsed imperial ventures. Our forbears constantly fail to measure up to our present-day standards. This is not to say that any of these findings are irrelevant or that we should endorse an entirely relativist point of view. It is to say that we must question the stance of temporal superiority that is implicit in the Western (and now probably worldwide) historical discipline.

Ms. Hunt's comments here have substantial application to the question you pose above.  It is an exercise in self-congratulatory moral superiority, and that's about it. 

Third, the presentist approach is not only self-indulgent for the modern fellow using it, it also does not get us anywhere.  Again from Lynn Hunt:

Quote

Presentism admits of no ready solution; it turns out to be very difficult to exit from modernity or our modern Western historical consciousness. But it is possible to remind ourselves of the virtues of maintaining a fruitful tension between present concerns and respect for the past. Both are essential ingredients in good history. The emergence of new concerns in the present invariably reveals aspects of historical experience that have been occluded or forgotten. Respect for the past, with its concomitant humility, curiosity, and even wonder, enables us to see beyond our present-day concerns backward and forward at the same time. 

Fourth, "hate speech" is a relatively new idea.  It is primarily a political / legal phrase and concept.  It is also typically defined in quite broad and vague ways.  The unfortunate consequence of these characteristics (hate speech is new, it is primarily political/legal, it is broadly/vaguely defined), is that the phrase is quite prone to being arbitrarily weaponized against unpopular groups/speech and/or disregarded relative to popular groups/speech.  It also becomes a bit clunky and ill-adapted when deployed in a Latter-day Saint context.

Fifth, I think it would help us all to periodically review this article on the Church's Newsroom website: Approaching Mormon Doctrine.  It needs to be accounted for and addressed in discussions such as the present one.

Sixth, in the particular Latter-day Saint paradigm, we have already received both ancient and modern counsel on how to approach such things.  A few examples:

In the Title Page to the Book of Mormon, we are told/cautioned:

Quote

And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.

This, to me, is a pretty clear warning to avoid things like presentism, faultfinding, requiring/expecting infallibility, and so on.

Mormon 9:31 states:

Quote

Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.

We ought to neither condemn nor ignore our forebears, and should instead learn from them.  We should study those who came before, and emulate their virtues and strengths and successes, and also learn from and avoid their vices and weaknesses and failures.  And all the while "give thanks unto God that he had made manifest unto {us} {our ancestors'} imperfections, that {we} may learn to be more wise than {they were}."

Months after the 1978 revelation on the Priesthood, Elder Bruce R. McConkie provided the following counsel:

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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 any more.

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.

Decades old counsel, but still salient.

In 2013, then-President Uchtdorf made the following observations:

Quote

And, to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.

I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes.

In the title page of the Book of Mormon we read, “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.”

This is the way it has always been and will be until the perfect day when Christ Himself reigns personally upon the earth.

It is unfortunate that some have stumbled because of mistakes made by men. But in spite of this, the eternal truth of the restored gospel found in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not tarnished, diminished, or destroyed.

We have received ample counsel on how to best address the errors, omissions, weaknesses of those who came before us.  We therefore ought not be asking what we should do when we encounter such things, but rather follow the counsel we have already been given.

The only difficulty here is listening to the Brethren.  If we do that, we'll be fine.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 hour ago, The Great Pretender said:

I ended up on the Wikipedia page for Mark E. Petersen. While Wikipedia isn't the word of God (lol), it has plenty going for it as a global resource. On that page, there's a section about controversial teachings, and I searched and found the article in question ("Race Problems - As they Affect the Church"). I found a few sources, which led me to be satisfied about its authenticity. What I read there now feels like ignorant hate speech. I then read a bunch of explanatory opinions about the text from the likes of the fairlatterdaysaints.org website, but I guess I'm left feeling dissatisfied. Elder Petersen had been an apostle for 10 years before he made some arguably hateful comments (I certainly view them that way), and he subsequently continued to serve for another 30 years, during which the Civil Rights Movement took place and the rights of the priesthood were extended to all worthy males. Despite that, Petersen never publicly retracted his comments. That suggests to me that he continued to believe that his views were correct. I'm not OK with that.

Could you elaborate on what you mean by your concluding statement ("I'm not OK with that")?  What does it mean?  

Also, how do you reconcile your perspective on Elder Petersen with the counsel given in Mormon 9:31?

Thanks,

-Smac

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7 minutes ago, The Great Pretender said:

Ha! It was a high council speaking assignment talk back in December, which was about temples and redeeming the dead. Totally unrelated, of course. But I went down a non-churchofjesuschrist.org rabbit hole when a Google link caught my eye. I don't ever believe what "people" write on the internet because any of us can be a hateful troll with an agenda. That's the problem with the internet.

My talk was just fine, but I've since been bothered by some things my searches turned up when I wasn't even looking for anything off topic. I wasn't about to take Wikipedia's word for it; but I found the content in several trustworthy places, and I was left feeling a bit dirty after reading it.

Sounds like a good conversation to have at your next high council meeting, or with your stake president or bishop.

Is the issue that you came across historical material whose content left you feeling spiritually uneasy about your faith and testimony? I would suggest a layman's primer on how to responsibly handle history as an interpretive discipline with inherent pitfalls, and a review of what you are feeling, including a root cause analysis, i.e., the-whys-of-the-whys of your feelings. Not many people are prepared or equipped to make a sound connection between history and spiritual matters, each being about as subjective an enterprise as one can get.

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You were assigned to give a talk on how to deal with historical alleged hate speech by past leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?  Hmm.  That's an interesting topic.

If it were me, I might start here:

Matthew 7:1-5.

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7 hours ago, Calm said:
Quote

Despite that, Petersen never publicly retracted his comments. That suggests to me that he continued to believe that his views were correct.

Not necessarily, quite a few people are embarrassed about being wrong and can only deal with it by avoiding and/or ignoring past comments, justifying this avoidance in my experience by believing it was over and done with and the more important thing is a new direction is taken.

That is a fair point.

Also, Elder Petersen died in 1984.  He was a member of the Q12 in 1978 when the revelation ending the Priesthood Ban came out.  His response?  See here:

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The feelings shared by the thirteen men present (Elder Delbert L. Stapley was in the hospital and Elder Mark E. Petersen was in South America) were of a “greater unanimity in the council” than they had ever experienced before.14 Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said, “Not one of us who was present on that occasion was ever quite the same after that.”15 The revelation was later shared with the two absent apostles, Mark E. Peterson and Delbert L. Stapley. President Kimball informed Elder Peterson, who was on assignment in Quito, Ecuador, through a personal telephone call. Elder Peterson later recalled, “I was delighted to know that a new revelation had come from the Lord. I felt the fact of the revelation’s coming was more striking than the decision itself. On the telephone I told President Kimball that I fully sustained both the revelation and him one hundred percent.16 All three members of the First Presidency visited Elder Stapley, who was in the hospital, and he gave his approval of the revelation. Thus, support for the revelation from the First Presidency and the Twelve was unanimous.17
...

14. Eleanor Knowles, Howard W. Hunter, 1994, 235–36.
15. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Priesthood Restoration,” Ensign, October 1988, 70.
16. Mark E. Peterson, quoted in Edward L. Kimball, “Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood,” BYU Studies, vol. 47, no. 2 (2008), 62.
17. Kimball, “Spencer W. Kimball and the Revelation on Priesthood,” 62.

“I was delighted to know that a new revelation had come from the Lord. I felt the fact of the revelation’s coming was more striking than the decision itself. On the telephone I told President Kimball that I fully sustained both the revelation and him one hundred percent.”  Elder Petersen made this statement and ought to be credited with it.

See also this excerpt from Edward Kimball's 2008 article cited above:

Quote

Two of the Twelve had not attended either meeting. Elder Mark E. Petersen was on assignment in South America, and Elder Delbert L. Stapley was seriously ill in the LDS Hospital. Later in the day of June 8, Spencer telephoned Elder Petersen in Quito, Ecuador, informed him what had happened, had Francis Gibbons read him the announcement about to be published, and received his approval. Elder Petersen later recalled, “I was delighted to know that a new revelation had come from the Lord. I felt the fact of the revelation’s coming was more striking than the decision itself. On the telephone I told President Kimball that I fully sustained both the revelation and him one hundred percent.”185

All three of the First Presidency visited Elder Stapley. He responded, “I’ll stay with the Brethren on this.” Thus, support from the Twelve was unanimous.186
...

185. Peggy Barton, Mark E. Petersen: A Biography (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985), 176. Elder Petersen continued to disapprove of interracial marriage and expressed low expectations for the first mission in black Africa. Espenschied, interview. The June 17 issue of the Church News that ran the revelation announcement also ran, reportedly at the instance of Elder Petersen, the article “Interracial Marriage Discouraged,” which quotes three Spencer W. Kimball statements originally directed to Indian-white marriages: Although unwise, “there is no condemnation” (January 1965); stability in interracial marriage is more difficult (January 1965); and “we recommend that people marry those who are of the same racial background generally, and of somewhat the same economic and social and educational backgrounds, and above all, the same religious background, without question” (September 1976). Church News, June 17, 1978, 4; Quinn, Extensions of Power, 870. Quinn, at 840, quotes a 1954 Petersen statement that intermarriage between any races is contrary to the Lord’s plans. As late as 1983 Elder Petersen was also highly critical of Lester Bush’s research into the origins of the priesthood policy and asked Bush’s stake president to call him in. Bush, “History of My Research,” 199; Kimball Papers, May 15, 1983. But note also that Elder Petersen is apparently the one who suggested that President Kimball consider the Bush article.

186. Spencer W. Kimball, interview. Elder Stapley died six weeks later.

Note the comment in footnote 185: "Elder Petersen continued to disapprove of interracial marriage..."  I wonder how much of Elder Petersen's thinking was based on pragmatic considerations in place in the 1960s as regarding interracial marriages.  Loving v. Virginia was not even decided until 1967.  Racial ideas such as this were actually codified in the law in many jurisdictions.  From Wikipedia:

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Nine states never enacted such laws; 25 states had repealed their laws by 1967, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in Loving v. Virginia that such laws were unconstitutional (via the 14th Amendment adopted in 1868) in the remaining 16 states.

Even today, some studies indicate that "overall, interracial couples have higher rates of divorce."  On the other hand, this article questions causation:

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Increases in interracial marriage have been interpreted as reflecting reduced social distance among racial and ethnic groups, but little is known about the stability of interracial marriages. Using six panels of Survey of Income and Program Participation (N = 23,139 married couples), we found that interracial marriages are less stable than endogamous marriages, but these findings did not hold up consistently. After controlling for couple characteristics, the risk of divorce or separation among interracial couples was similar to the more-divorce-prone origin group. Although marital dissolution was found to be strongly associated with race/ethnicity, the results failed to provide evidence that interracial marriage is associated with an elevated risk of marital dissolution.

In my immediate family I have a biological (caucasian) brother who is married to a Samoan woman, an adopted (Hawaiian) sister who is married to a caucasian man, and an adopted (Tahitian) brother who is married to a caucasian woman.  Interracial marriage is near and dear to my heart.  60+ years ago it was, I think, a considerably more difficult thing to make work as a lifelong endeavor.

Anyway, I wonder if we ought not condemn Elder Petersen for this apparent omission (failing to publicly and specifically repudiate his past comments), or hold it over his head given that is has been dead for nearly forty years.  The historical record shows he did moderate/alter his views on race, so perhaps a bit of grace is in order.  His revised perspective does not fit within the exacting specifications of what we would like to see in 2023, 39 years after his death, but expecting it to fit is an exercise in presentism.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 hour ago, MrShorty said:

IMO, this is one of the really difficult issues.

On one hand, I think we need to extend grace towards historical figures because they often reflect the common attitudes and beliefs of their time and culture. As I think Patrick Mason has said, history is a foreign country, and we need to recognize that we are only visitors. While visiting, we may find that many of the beliefs and practices seem abhorrent to our own cultural sensibilities, but we need to be able to set our own sensibilities aside as a visitor to this foreign world.

On the other hand, I also think we need to be able to call out falsehoods and errors where we see them. We're a church that often makes a big deal out of eternal truth and absolute morality. I think we need to be able to state our disagreements with past prophets and apostles.

To me, where this gets really tricky is what does it mean for our "model" of prophets and revelation. why would God allow past prophets and apostles to teach and believe things that seem to us seem so morally black and white?

...and why would current prophets and apostles not spend time on each black and white statement from the past? I think your second paragraph addresses this: the saints are free to call out falsehoods and errors where they see them and have the gift of the Holy Ghost to aid them. They also have it to cultivate an attitude of tolerance, grace, forgiveness, and more importantly perhaps, what to do with what the Lord has taught them in their own time and place (in relation to your first paragraph).

But to flesh out the question more in this third paragraph, God "hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him...(Acts 17:26-7)." From there, we choose what to hang on to and what to let go.

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1 hour ago, The Great Pretender said:

Notably absent among these "others" is . . . the Church's website.  In contrast, Elder McConkie's "Forget everything that I have said" comments are cited a number of times on the Church's website.

Do you find this relevant to your inquiry?

Thanks,

-Smac

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29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I read the main question as "should we care that Prophets, seers and revelators have been bigots?"

Yes. I think we should.

I read the main question as "should we condemn past leaders of the Church because they had less-than-fully-enlightened views on race and racism?"

The answer, I think, is "No, not really.  That would be an exercise in presentism.  In the spirit of Mormon 9:31, we ought to acknowledge their errors and work to avoid emulating them."

29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Can we extend grace and recognize societal attitudes change? of course. But it would be wrong to assume that every person who shared the time and culture with someone like Peterson also held the same bigoted views. In other words, time and culture makes a difference but it is not a universal "get out of jail free" card for bigoted statements, attitudes and behaviors. There were contemporaries of Peterson, or Brigham etc who did not share the bigoted views they expressed which means that there was the possibility/opportunity for an individual not to have bigoted views/language/behavior.

Sounds like you are not willing to "extend grace" after all.  If there was "the possibility/opportunity for an individual" to avoid an error, and if he did not avoid it, then we are free to condemn him?

Where's the "grace" in that?

29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I definitely think people can change and shouldn't be condemned for their worst moments, especially IF they change/repent,

I sense a "but" coming.

29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

but

And there it is!

29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

for someone who doesn't I think it would be fair for us to ask ourselves why we should care what that person had to say about gospel doctrines as a special witness of Christ, when they espoused bigoted views. That person's credibility is suspect at best.

I don't understand what you are saying here.

29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

There are things a person could say today that would have me question every opinion they uttered going forward.

So much for "extend{ing} grace," then.

29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

And for individuals who are pedestalized as prophets, seers, and revelators I think it's fair to hold them to a higher standard.

I note the passive voice here.

I also note the implicit expectation of infallibility.

I also note the failure to fairly address the various and repeated admonitions we have received from the Brethren to not - as you put it - "pedestalize" them.

29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

While we recognize they aren't perfect or infallible

And yet, you don't seem to be recognizing that they weren't perfect or infallible.  

29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

we can also expect them to be good examples as they help shape the attitudes of the church at large.

Certainly.

I dread the day that the entirety of my life's efforts are adjudicated solely on the instances where I have failed or erred or fallen short in some way.  

Such are the noxious fruits of presentism.

This is why we need to listen to the counsel we have received on this issue (Mormon 9:31 being a notable example).

29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I think we could expect that go would have a positive influence on that person that would improve their opinions/beliefs throughout time.

I don't understand what you are saying here.

29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Have there been past church authorities who have said and taught bigoted things?  Yes.

And in other news, water is wet and circles are round.

Meanwhile, the Brethren have given us ample sound counsel that, if followed, negates the need to endlessly litigate and re-litigate the failings and errors of our forebears.

29 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Are there current church authorities who have said and taught bigoted things?  I think that the way we answer that is likely to impact our level of trust and confidence in church authorities.

Notably, you aren't answering that question.

Thanks,

-Smac

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