Defending Pres. Kimball on inter-racial marriage

By: Steve H - May 29, 2006

To President Spencer W. Kimball came the burden of teaching a practice that was bound to be seen in retrospect by many as racist. He, and the brethren of the day following him, taught that inter-racial marriage was not a good idea–not that it was sinful, but that it should be discouraged. I just got done reading Franz Fanon’s Black Skin: White Masks, and several of his points have convinced me that only a mix of our Jane Austin inspired notion of romance’s primacy and current political expediency have brought so many to see this as an issue of racism.

I’ll start with a passage from Pres. Kimball

Cultural differences pose dangers for marriage. When I said you must teach your people to overcome their prejudices and accept the Indians, I did not mean that you would encourage intermarriage. I mean that they should be brothers, to worship together and to work together and to play together; but we must discourage intermarriage, not because it is sin. I would like to make this very emphatic. A couple has not committed sin if an Indian boy and a white girl are married, or vice versa. It isn’t a transgression like the transgressions of which many are guilty. But it is not expedient. Marriage statistics and our general experience convince us that marriage is not easy. It is difficult when all factors are favorable. The divorces increase constantly, even where the spouses have the same general background of race, religion, finances, education, and otherwise. (58-08)

The interrace marriage problem is not one of inferiority or superiority. It may be that your son is better educated and may be superior in his culture, and yet it may be on the other hand that she is superior to him. It is a matter of backgrounds. The difficulties and hazards of marriage are greatly increased where backgrounds are different. For a wealthy person to marry a pauper promises difficulties. For an ignoramus to marry one with a doctor’s degree promises difficulties, heartaches, misunderstandings, and broken marriages.

When one considers marriage, it should be an unselfish thing, but there is not much selflessness when two people of different races plan marriage. They must be thinking selfishly of themselves. They certainly are not considering the problems that will beset each other and that will beset their children.

If your son thinks he loves this girl, he would not want to inflict upon her loneliness and unhappiness; and if he thinks that his affection for her will solve all her problems, he should do some more mature thinking.

We are unanimous, all of the Brethren, in feeling and recommending that Indians marry Indians, and Mexicans marry Mexicans; the Chinese marry Chinese and the Japanese marry Japanese; that the Caucasians marry the Caucasians, and the Arabs marry Arabs. (0/0/59)
(Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 303.)

Now, keeping in mind that I know some great inter-racial couples, and that I really believe that some people can make it work, I’d like to mention a few of Fanon’s points. His main premise is that relationships between the races (generally, not just in romantic relationships) are distorted by cutural myth to the point of disease. He speaks of the ways this enters relationships between men and women in two ways. First, black women see marriage to a white man as both a way to “lighten the race” and to enter the white world. Speaking of the memoirs of Mayotte Capecia, he writes:

Mayotte loves a white man to whom she submits in everything. He is her lord. She asks nothing, demands nothing, except a bit of whiteness in her life. When she tries to determine in her own mind whether the man is handsome or ugly, she writes, ‘all I know is that he had blue eyes, blond hair, and a light skin, and that I loved him.’ It is not difficult to see that a rearrangement of these elements in their proper heirarchy would produce something of this order: ‘I loved him because he had blue eyes, blod hair, and a light skin.’

Second, black men see marriage to a white woman as both a way of legitimating their humanity and of getting revenge. “By loving me,” he writes, “she proves that I am worthy of white love. I am loved like a white man.”

My point here is not that any particular person married for the wrong reasons. As I said, I know many inter-racial couples that married for all the right reasons. But when you look at all of the possible wrong reasons, especially when pres. Kimball made these remarks, it is clear, if we believe people like Fanon (and others, by the way that have pointed out the lure of the exotic and other really bad reasons to want specifically to marry someone of another race) that there were lots of inter-racial marriages for the wrong reasons that it was quite right of the brethren to discourage. Pres Kimball makes the same point about marriage where financial situations are different, and we could speculate that such would be justified to the extent that marrying someone poorer or richer could be the result of distorted images of the person one was to marry.

As a final caveat, Fanon is not against inter-racial marriage and neither am I. My purpose is mainly to defend Pres.Kimbal in this. Fanon’s point is that inter-racial marriage/sexuality in itself solves nothing. The cure for what he views as a disease is to root out the false consciousness of racial identity. Then, it becomes possible to marry inter-racially for reasons that have nothing to do with race. I, frankly, think that there have been great strides in breaking down such distorted views of the relationships between races even in my lifetime (Fanon’s book is copywright 1967), making inter-racial marriage less inadvisable, though I think there is sometimes still risk, and people should be more aware than they are of that risk–not to encourage racial purity, or anything of the sort, but precisely so that we can eliminate the sorts of thinking that makes inter-racial marriage an issue at all.


  1. Sorry Steve, still hard for me to buy into. Especially since it was taught to us as the counsel of the prophets by my priest quorum advisor and by the young men’s president while I was in high school. This was in 1995, a full 36 years after the counsel was originally given. (Though I suppose it was only 13 years after it was published in a book on the teachings of President Kimball)

    I don’t understand how these types of cautions, discussions, and considerations are going to “eliminate the sorts of thinking that makes inter-racial marriage an issue at all.” In fact, it seems that these discussions are the kinds of thinking that make it an issue and are the very things perpetuating it as a problem- not a consciousness of racial identity.

    Fanon is certainly right that inter-racial marraiges on their own don’t “solve” racism. However, whether with racist intentions or not, an advocacy against inter-racial relationships certainly seems to perpetuate racism.

    Comment by Mike A. — 5/29/2006 @ 5:00 am

  2. I’m a Caucasian guy happily married to an Asian woman. I had heard this counsel before. I just happened to find that my dating life with Diane was so much better than any dating relationship I had previously — so I married her.

    Comment by danithew — 5/29/2006 @ 8:41 am

  3. Perhaps it helps somewhat that my wife was born and raised in the United States. She is still very much a Chinese person and identifies with that group — but she is also very American. So though we are ethnically different we are culturally quite similar with some differences that are a lot of fun. I am very grateful to have married into a Chinese family. I sometimes tease the local elders (I’m the ward mission leader) and tell them that if they are smart they’ll marry an Asian.

    Comment by danithew — 5/29/2006 @ 8:43 am

  4. Hey, but didn’t Spencer W. Kimball also teach that native american children would become more white after being converted?

    Church leaders, including Mr. Kimball, have said the curse of dark skin would be lifted from Indians who embraced the Mormon religion.

    In 1960, before he was elevated to the presidency, Mr. Kimball said in a speech that Indian children living with Mormons had lighter skin than those who remained on reservations.

    So hey, as long as we convert the person before we marry them, won’t they just turn white? Presto, interracial marriage problem solved.

    It’s hard for me to take anything Spencer W. Kimball said about race seriously.

    Comment by sue — 5/29/2006 @ 9:19 am

  5. I think the idea of the problems inherent in inter-ethnic marriage is much more credible than the idea of problems inherent in inter-racial marriage. It is trivial to come up with cases where spouses of different races have more in common than spouses of the same race, but different background or ethnicity.

    Comment by Mark Butler — 5/29/2006 @ 10:04 am

  6. Steve, these are thoughtful statements. But Kimball closes the statement in his quote by saying, “We are unanimous, all of the Brethren, in feeling and recommending that Indians marry Indians, and Mexicans marry Mexicans; the Chinese marry Chinese and the Japanese marry Japanese; that the Caucasians marry the Caucasians, and the Arabs marry Arabs.”

    The reason this claim is fundamentally and unavoidably racist is that it essentializes race and ethnicity. By assuming that people of different racial/ethnic backgrounds automatically share less in common (in terms of culture, values, or whatever) than people of the same racial/ethnic background, Kimball primordializes distinctions based at least substantially on the political developments of the last few hundred years.

    Beyond sort of primordializing these racial/ethnic categories, he grants them status as a master distinction to which all others are subordinate. Kimball mentions other social distinctions (rich/poor, educated/uneducated), but he rhetorically treats these as secondary in nature–beginning and ending with racial examples.

    Racism doesn’t necessarily mean belief that a different race is inferior. Racism arises even in the belief that another race is essentially other. Kimball’s statement embraces this second form of racism.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — 5/29/2006 @ 12:29 pm

  7. I’ve said elsewhere that this argument seems pretextual. That’s because this level of attention to demographic detail happens only in the racial arena.

    There has been no push that I’m aware of for couples to marry at an older age — despite overwhelming statistics showing that couples who marry at an older age are less likely to divorce. If we were serious about pushing couples away from demographic categories that suggest higher incidence of divorce, we would say “no, you shouldn’t marry at 18. You should wait until 25.” Instead, we say the opposite when it comes to age.

    It is disheartening that church leaders give weight to demographic likelihood of divorce only along racial lines — and makes the whole thing look pretextual.

    Comment by Kaimi — 5/29/2006 @ 12:50 pm

  8. I think that sometimes the church and it’s leaders over-counsel. And that many in the church take this over-counsel more serious than it was intended. Both with unfortunate results.

    On another note, when does the need to lable people as racist or bigoted begin to cause more of a problem than what it is intended to expose?

    Comment by Eric — 5/29/2006 @ 2:17 pm

  9. I think I fall along the line of, RT. I dated women of many ethnicities before getting married. I found that in all cases, that the relationships between myself and non-white americans where always “easier” than with the few white french women I dated.

    I realize that there is a significant impetus in certain ethnic communities to promote marraige within the ethnicity. I don’t see a jewish family hoping that their child marries a jew is essentially racist. However, I do think saying that all races should keep to themselves as very problematic.

    Sue, while you might disagree with President Kimball’s perspective, you fail to recognize what great changes he effectuated against stiff opposition for the improvement of Mormon racial ideas.

    As for an interesting historical asside: when, Joseph sent the first batch of missionaries to the indians from Missouri, he taught them that they should marry indian women as they were more righteous than the “gentiles.”

    You can also always count on Brigham for interesting commentary. After councilling the women to get jobs and work for what they need and want, he says that the men should always go for the poor women:

    Some want to marry a woman because she has got property; some want a rich wife; but I never saw the day when I would not rather have a poor woman. I never saw the day that I wanted to be henpecked to death, for I should have been, if I had married a rich wife.

    I don’t, however, particularly want to go into any of his views on racial identy.

    Comment by J. Stapley — 5/29/2006 @ 2:25 pm

  10. Steve, so what do you make of Joseph Smith’s idea that the Lamanite race was going to be redeemed in part by white Mormon men polygamously marrying Native American women and raising up mixed-race posterity? So who’s offbase on mixed-race marriage, Smith or Kimball? Joseph didn’t seem to have a problem with it. Nor did Moses (among others, he married an Ethiopian princess).

    Comment by Dave — 5/29/2006 @ 3:17 pm

  11. Thank you for posting this. I appreciate the quote and the actual statement. I knew that interracial marriage had been “discouraged” for those reasons, which make sense to me. I think that these days things have definitely changed and there are fewer differences and difficulties between races. I have a friend who is in an interracial marriage and she has no problems with what the just has said. I am happy to see that Pres. Kimball said specifically that it is not a sin. This certainly clarifies what the church position was.

    Comment by JKS — 5/29/2006 @ 3:27 pm

  12. As a member of an inter-everything marriage, I believe that race has much less of an affect on our marriage than other differences, but I am almost certain it is the central identifying point of our marriage for people outside of it.

    Comment by a spectator — 5/29/2006 @ 8:27 pm

  13. Mike,
    My point is that by discouraging inter-racial marriage at the time that he did so, Pres. Kimball was trying to help avoid some of the mistakes that distorted racial image can lead to. I think that such distorted racial image was a very real phenomenon, and still is with some people, though I think there is less propensity to relate to other races (specifically blacks and native Americans, though I think there are other ways that arabic people have taken this place in the collective conscious of whites at this point.) in ways that might make our romantic attachments more of an expression of our own racial identity than our relationship to a specific other person with whom we are making a (hopefully) eternal commitment.
    When I say that I still see this as potentially risky, I think that one’s situation may play a great part in how they relate personally to other races in the formation of their own racial identity. I think more and more people are seeing that while race still matters (I don’t buy into the idea that we can ever just forget skin color. I think it’s a happy myth.) we can’t simply make others a tool for dealing with our own identity. “Black person” has become a genuine description of a person rather than a qualifier of their personhood. Still, while I still hear songs about the tan senioritas waiting to greet you on the Beeches of Old Mexico, while I still see mail order bride offers that emphasize the submissiveness of philipino or other women (seriously, this guy is selling his bride service as a way to get back to good old fashioned misogyny.), while I still hear jokes about the particular sexual allure of this or that race of man or woman, I can’t ignore that distorted images of race play into very real questions of inter-racial romance, and I think that there is still some reason for caution, even though a great deal more thoughtful persons are putting aside such notions, perhaps don’t even consider them except as twisted oddities.
    Danithew (and others): I think that time has indeed de-emphasized racial differences in the broader cultural envelope of American-ness. That wasn’t always so.
    Roasted Tomatoes: I don’t think that this statement essentializes race any more than it was essentialized by society at the time. That is to say, while race is not essential, individuals do create for themselves racial identities, and those identities are very important. I simply can’t believe in the utopian ideal of a world where race disappears–not before the millenium at least. We can say it doesn’t matter, but it does despite our saying so. I’m sure you have some idea of who you are racially, and that plays an important part in who you are culturally. Stuart Hall speaks of racial identity as definable in three ways. The first is the idea of essential racial identity. The second is the reality of hybridization. The third is the racial identity that one makes for one’s self of the different racial and cultural backgrounds one is asked to put one’s self in relation to. I think that more people now think of that racial self as far from essential, but I think that was less so when Pres. Kimball was speaking.
    J: Indeed, I think that Pres. K made great strides in uniting the church racially. I perhaps differ from many here in seeing his remarks here as necessary council at that crucial juncture, rather than an excusable fault given what he did otherwise.
    Dave: I don’t think either needs to be off base. I think that each spoke to his cultural moment. Moses seems to me to be an irrelevant example, since there is no reason to believe that the sorts of issues of racial identity Fanon is speaking of would have had any place in his society.
    All: I guess what I’m doing here is trying to show a rason for Pres. K’s council, and I should be up front about the fact that my first instinct is to see the council that I might not understand and find the reason it was given. My operative assumption is that if the council was given, and this is not the reason it was given, then there was a good reason and it would be nice to find it. I know that makes it hard to argue, but I find it hard, myself to argue with a direct statement of council from the brethren united. P.S.–Sorry this all comes in one lump–I spent the day in town.

    Comment by Steve H — 5/30/2006 @ 1:57 am

  14. I don’t think it matters anymore.

    Comment by annegb — 5/30/2006 @ 9:09 am

  15. Steve, you say, “I don’t think that this statement essentializes race any more than it was essentialized by society at the time.” You’re probably right. What that means is that Kimball wasn’t more racist in this statement than most white Americans in 1959. But that’s still really racist.

    We sometimes look to our leaders to provide guidance at a higher standard than we can receive from “the world,” i.e., society in general. In this instance, I think President Kimball failed to meet that expectation.

    Anne, I’m afraid it does matter still. I’ve heard this quote taught in youth classes on marriage preparation as recently as four years ago. This is one of those racist statements that hasn’t been adequately dealt with–no explicit, official disavowal has been made that reaches the people who still want to teach this racist prohibition.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — 5/30/2006 @ 9:45 am

  16. If we assume the term race was replaced with distinct cultural identity, I wonder if the issue would be less loaded? I often suspect that older statements used the idea of race in this stereotyped regard.

    Extreme culutral differences can cause problems. Look at possible difficulties between people with firm beliefs marrying outside their religion. There are lots of implicit ideas associated with class, education, political perspectives and cultures. Not all are problematic, but one should be able to at least question the extent to which an average person is affected by them. From my perspective, leaders often focus on the average, not the exception. The usefullness of this approach, seems to me what people often question.

    Comment by chris g — 5/30/2006 @ 11:45 am

  17. Roasted Tomatoes,
    The problem here is that Pres. Kimball is not trying to address, in this instance, the essentialization of race. God speaks to man according to their understanding. As J points out, Pres. Kimball was instrumental in changing a lot of attitudes regarding race in the church. At the same time, there was the necessity of cautioning the members about the difficulties that distorted race image can bring to a marriage. He certainly could have said something like the following:
    Because we tend to essntialize race as a category, and because we have a troubled past that has subordinated those essentialized according to a particular racial profile, interracial marriages run the risk of being no more than a negotiation of epistomological difficulties in the construction of our racial identity. We should be careful when we consider inter-racial marriage that we are not simply becoming involved with such concerns, especially as they are usually not conscious concerns, but often disguise themselves as the fulfillment of a need.
    Heck, he could have written a book. The problem is that issues of racial epistemology are difficult to address, except through experience or rather dense prose. This is the case with beliefs that are held to be commonsense, but which on closer examination reveal themselves to be very closely held, almost invisible parts of an ideology. I am simply saying that it seems wise to me to encourace closer cooperation between people who had seen themselves as separate, while discouraging the most intimate of human relations until such time as those involved had overcome the difficulties he was fighting against. (I don’t know that prophets always understand the logic of what they are doing. I’m simply saying that in retrospect there seems to me to be a logic.) I’m not sure we’ve overcome those difficulties, though we’ve made significant progress. Thus, I don’t know if it is a time to rescind the statement, and even if that tiem comes, it doesn’t mean the statement was wrong. I don’t think any apology, certainly, is in order. I don’t know if people have reached the de-essentialization of race that most of Kimball’s teachings push towards.

    Comment by Steve H — 5/30/2006 @ 2:46 pm

  18. Steve, the thing is, Kimball could have–as you note–spoken in ways that encouraged people to deessentialize race. Or he could even have kept his mouth shut about interracial marriage altogether. Instead, he spoke in a way that reinscribes the primacy of race as a category in human life. His statement unquestioningly treats race as a master category for distinguishing among kinds of people. He not only doesn’t succeed in encouraging his listeners to deesentialize race; his statement reinforces the existing system of racist conceptions.

    Much of Kimball’s other work did indeed have positive consquences with respect to Mormon understandings of race. This statement just doesn’t belong in the positive group.

    Comment by RoastedTomatoes — 5/30/2006 @ 2:56 pm

  19. RT,
    I do note that he could have spoken in different ways, but they weren’t calculated to be understood, and the counsel needed to be given to, I would argue, keeep people from entering relationships for the wrong reasons. thus, he gives the counsel that needed to be given as in a way the audience cna understand until their understanding is broadened–a task he does not neglect.

    Comment by Steve H — 5/30/2006 @ 3:44 pm

  20. I think Chris G. makes a good point about communities. There used to be irish, italian, danish, and WASP communitties. To some extent, they still persist, however, the racial deliniations aren’t particularly relevent. I don’t think it is a bad thing for community members to want to perpetuate the community with members marrying in the community.

    At the same time, I find blanket statements of racial incompatability quite troubling. Perhaps the difference is the desire to perpetuate the community and proscribing mixtures of the communities. It is especially difficult for me to navigate as communities are quite dynamic and are constantly changing; so, what is it that a community is wanting to perpetuate if itself is ephemeral?

    Comment by J. Stapley — 5/30/2006 @ 6:53 pm

  21. Unfortunately Bro. Kimball can’t be here to defend himself against charges of racism. I wonder what he would say nowadays.

    Comment by cadams — 5/30/2006 @ 7:21 pm

  22. RT–I heard this in RS on Sunday

    Steve–you say that Kimball needed to say this to “keep people from entering relationships for the wrong reasons.” How many people actually enter marriage to make a statement? Was there a rash of people enetering interracal marriages just to prove they were OK with other races? Perhaps teenage rebellion against parents, but I would guess that most other people choose a marriage partner for personal rather than political reasons.

    Comment by a spectator — 5/31/2006 @ 10:05 pm

  23. Spectator,
    I’m not claiming here, and Fanon certainly is not, that people were consciously deciding to make political statements through their relationships. Rather, if we believe what fanon is outlining (and other cultural critics) then relationships between the races are, much more often than we suspect, as much about how we feel about our own racial identity as they are about true inter-subjectivity. So I would agree that “most other people choose a marriage partner for personal rather than political reasons,” but when I speak of “our Jane Austin inspired notion of romance’s primacy” and when Pres. Kimball mentions the idea that “his affection for her will solve all her problems,” I think we hit the core of the issue. Our notions of romance don’t encourage us to question the motive of our love, simply to follow it. And yet, what Fanon points out in Mayotte’s case is that it doesn’t take a big step to see that what she means is: “I loved him because he had blue eyes, blond hair, and a light skin.” Thus distorted racial identity can produce a feeling we call love and from there our culture makes it hard to turn back. Lots of other things can produce feelings we call love for all the wrong reasons. I’m just pointing out that Fanon and some other cultural critics have claimed distorted racial relations can be one of these. There can be nothing more personal, but that doesn’t make it prudent.

    Comment by Steve H — 6/1/2006 @ 11:31 am

  24. It’s funny. Last week in the Gospel Essentials class I teach, a black women stated that she didn’t want her son to marry a white women because of the societal difficulties it would cause for him. Anyone want to call her a racist?

    Comment by Jared E. — 6/1/2006 @ 9:41 pm

  25. I have thought about the societal difficulties and they are real. My neighbor (white) adopted three bi-racial children, one from Ecuador and one is a Shoshone indian. They were all called the N word fairly regularly.

    I would totally love my son-in-law, but worry, but you know, life hasn’t been fair to me and I’m white as whatever is really white.

    Comment by annegb — 6/3/2006 @ 10:25 am

  26. Any data out there?

    Do inter race couples divorce at higher rates?

    In my current ward there are so many inter-racial couples. I can count 10 off the top of my head.

    I am also thinking that the LDS are currently inter-racially marrying at higher rates then average????

    Again, Where is the data???

    Comment by bbell — 6/16/2006 @ 3:22 pm

  27. I think there are so many more important factors determining whether a person is right for you or not other than race. I have an inter-racial family (2 adopted children) and I know there are some difficulties that arise. But, I would much rather marry a worthy member of the church (whatever race) than have to worry about issues of faith with someone else. Also, in the church with so many missionaries serving in different parts of the world—I think we are able to see that we have more in common with other races than maybe most people realize. I served in Mexico and had the opportunity arisen would have had no qualms about this Caucasian marrying a Mexican.

    Comment by Christy — 6/28/2006 @ 3:26 pm

  28. Dave wrote:

    … so what do you make of Joseph Smith’s idea that the Lamanite race was going to be redeemed in part by white Mormon men polygamously marrying Native American women and raising up mixed-race posterity? … Joseph didn’t seem to have a problem with it. Nor did Moses (among others, he married an Ethiopian princess)

    Very interesting points, Dave.

    One of the first revelations on plural marriage (if not the first one) had to do in a sense with “inter-racial” marriage. It was given in 1831 through Joseph Smith and it commanded the elders of the Church to marry Indian virgins:

    Verily, I say unto you, that the wisdom of man, in his fallen state, knoweth not the purposes and the privileges of my holy priesthood, but ye shall know when ye receive a fulness by reason of the anointing: For it is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome and just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles.

    This was the only way that the Lamanites could become “white and delightsome” – through marriage with “white Israelites”. That is also how Lamanites in the Book of Mormon could become white as their ancestors and be numbered as Nephites:

    And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites; And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. (3 Nephi 2:14-16)

    And don’t know if president Kimball was aware of the 1831 revelation when he talked about Mormon Indian children having lighter skin.

    Notice that here we have a situation where a righteous branch of Joseph’s family (“European Ephraim”) is supposed to help another branch of the same family (“Lamanites” – Manasseh? = “forgetting”) to return to their spiritual roots.

    Now what if Native Americans have besides Israelite ancestry some gentile (Asian?) blood as well? Wouldn’t this marriage to white Mormons give them more Israelite blood?

    The same reasoning here could not be applied to Blacks however. They come from a lineage that shouldn’t intermarry. Scriptures and quotes from the early brethren say that the Israelite who marries a Cananite receives the curse of Cain himself, as man and woman become one flesh through sexual intercourse and/or having a child.

    I think the fact that Moses married a Cushite woman and Abraham had his Egyptian servant Hagar as his concubine or wife have to do with their positions as Dispensation Heads. As future gods they will have to people an earth with their offspring, including the lineage of Ham. I don’t think that Joseph did the same in his life. But what we do have in the records however is that a Black sister was sealed to him by proxy in the Salt Lake temple. She was sealed to Joseph as his servant.

    Comment by Antonio — 7/3/2006 @ 9:20 am

  29. Antonio, your views are antiquated and based on folk. There is no lineage of Cain. The purported revelation (which was mentioned in earlier comments) was from a letter to Young from Phelps. Sadly we don’t have the original and the exact language of the revelation doesn’t have the best provenance (see Bachmann’s thesis for the best discousion of this revelation). The “Isrealite blood” is a relic of British Isrealism and when taken with the literality that you do, is quite problematic.

    Comment by J. Stapley — 7/4/2006 @ 11:08 pm

  30. J., where can I get my hands on Bachmann’s thesis? (I’d happily pay copy and shiping costs if need be.) Any ideas you have are greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    Comment by Randy B. — 7/5/2006 @ 9:08 am

  31. J. Stapley,

    what do you mean when you say “there is no lineage of Cain”? Do you assume that Cain didn’t have children? Or do you think that if he had Adam’s righteous posterity saw no problem in marrying Cain’s posterity? Would you mind elaborating on this? It is the first time I see such statement.

    You wrote “your views are antiquated and based on folk”. You may call them “antiquated”, it is a pity this label doesn’t say much about the subject being discussed but that is ok too. Now when you say my views are based on folk, you are saying that the early Mormon doctrine is folk. My views are based on what was taught by Joseph and other men who I believe were/are prophets.

    Would you say that the revelation received by Joseph in 1831 – commanding elders of the Church to marry Lamanite women so that their posterity could be white and delightsome – was made up by him? If it is real revelation, that “antiquated” Man up there believes in “folk” too.

    Comment by Antonio — 7/5/2006 @ 2:33 pm

  32. As to the 1831 revelation, I think it is an interesting possibility (you will note that I refer to the revelation in comment 9). I personally believe in a Limited Geographic setting for the Lamanites, so I view the term employed in the D&C according to Ostler expansion theory.

    You seem to be coming from a literalist background, so a literalist response to your Cain question would be that if he had decendants, they would have been whiped out in the flood. Other than that, I think it is quite demostrable that there was no priesthood prohibition in the OT.

    My views are based on what was taught by Joseph

    I’m not sure to what teaching of Joseph you are referring. It is demonstable that he didn’t believe in a priesthood ban.

    Comment by J. Stapley — 7/5/2006 @ 3:09 pm

  33. Randy B., the Purdue Archives is the only place to make a copy. I was lucky to be a Boilermaker.

    Comment by J. Stapley — 7/5/2006 @ 3:11 pm

  34. Joseph Smith identified the lineage of Blacks refering to them as

    the negroe, or the sons of Cain.

    (D.H.C. 4:501)

    Aware of the curse inherited by them, Joseph believed Blacks shouldn’t intermarry:

    At five went to Mr. Sollars’ with Elders Hyde and Richards. Elder Hyde inquired the situation of the negro. I replied, they came into the world slaves, mentally and physically. Change their situation with the whites, and they would be like them. They have souls, and are subjects of salvation. Go into Cincinnati or any city, and find an educated negro, who rides in his carriage, and you will see a man who has risen by the powers of his own mind to his exalted state of respectability. The slaves in Washington are more refined than many in high places, and the black boys will take the shine off many of those they brush and wait on.

    Elder Hyde remarked, “Put them on the level, and they will rise above me.” I replied, if I raised you to be my equal, and then attempted to oppress you, would you not be indignant and try to rise above me, as did Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and many others, who said I was a fallen Prophet, and they were capable of leading the people, although I never attempted to oppress them, but had always been lifting them up? Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization.

    (Teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith, p. 269; History of the Church 5:257)

    If according to Joseph this group was supposed to be confined “by strict law to their own species”, would they be allowed to marry outside their group or have the priesthood to preside over non-Blacks?

    As no one can be guilty of a sin commited by his/her ancestors, why would a person be born in such lineage having upon him/her the curse of a common ancestor? The answer then should be found in the pre-existence:

    Anson Call said that Joseph told him and several others that some spirits had remained neutral during the council in heaven, and because of that come to earth as Negroes, through the seed of Ham and his son Canaan.

    (Anson Call to Thomas Whitaker, 1877, Utah State Historical Society, quoted by Donna Hill, Joseph Smith, the first Mormon, p. 386)

    Notice also that in his conversation with Orson Hyde, Joseph said that Blacks “came into the world slaves, mentally and physically”, and not they they were made slaves in the world.

    The lineage of Ham is also identified as servantes in the Old Testament:

    And he [Noah] said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

    (Genesis 9:25,26)

    On the other hand, Joseph was against slavery and as he preached the end of slavery he said it would have to be gradual with the fegeral government buying the slaves from their masters. This is in his presidential program:

    Born in a land of liberty, and breathing an air uncorrupted with the sirocco of barbarous climes, I ever feel a double anxiety for the happiness of all men, both in time and in eternity. My cogitations, like Daniel’s, have for a long time troubled me, when I viewed the condition of men throughout the world, and more especially in this boasted realm, where the Declaration of Independence “holds these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness,” but at the same time some two or three millions of people are held as slaves for life, because the spirit in them is covered with a darker skin than ours; …

    Petition, also, ye goodly inhabitants of the slave states, your legislators to abolish slavery by the year 1850, or now, and save the abolitionist from reproach and ruin, infamy and shame. Pray Congress to pay every man a reasonable price for his slaves out of the surplus revenue arising from the sale of public lands, and from the deduction of pay from the members of Congress. Break off the shackles from the poor black man, and hire him to labor like other human beings; for “an hour of virtuous liberty on earth, is worth a whole eternity of bondage!” …

    Wherefore, were I president of the United States, by the voice of a virtuous people, I would honor the old paths of the venerated fathers of freedom; I would walk in the tracks of the illustrious patriots. who carried the ark of the government upon their shoulders with an eye single to the glory of the people and when that people petitioned to abolish slavery in the slave states, I would use all honorable means to have their prayers granted; and give liberty to the captive; by paying the southern gentleman a reasonable equivalent for his property, that the whole nation might be free indeed!

    (General Smith’s views on the Government and policy of the United States)

    If Joseph were a bigot and his views on Blacks were based on his prejudice, he wouldn’t be interested in their freedom, would he?

    Elijah Abel is an enigmatic character in Mormon history and could be the only “evidence” to show a contradiction in Joseph’s doctrine regarding Blacks and the priesthood. The problem though is to harmonize all the different accounts – some say for example that he was ordained and then had the priesthood withdrawn from him by Joseph himself; others will add that he was ordained one more time after this, etc.. My guess is that he was an exception to the rule. Here we must remember that back on those days they believed a man should received the priesthood by revelation. Anyway, Elijah Abel only preached and administered ordinances to Blacks, keeping the principle of Ham’s lineage not having authority over Shem’s or Japhet’s.

    Comment by Antonio — 7/6/2006 @ 9:59 pm

  35. Alas, Antonio, you have chosen to highlight our darkest histories and have shown your volition to sustain them. That history, is precisely that, antiquated belief reflecting the culture and time. For all those interested, I suggest you check out this chronology of Blacks in Mormonism and this great interview of Margaret Young and Darius Gray. Darius used to be the president of the Church sponsered Genesis group and Margaret teaches at BYU. They co-wrote the Standing on the Promises series. Here is the website for the Genesis Group.

    First, you forgot Walker Lewis, another Black Elder and Elijah Abel was ordained a Seventy, having recieved his endowement in the Kirtland temple and died in full fellowship and Priesthood licence.

    The first quote from Joseph isn’t particularly convincing in context and the second is quote progressive for the time.

    would they be allowed to marry outside their group or have the priesthood to preside over non-Blacks?

    Elijah and Walker seem to prove that this is so.

    The Anson Call quote doesn’t exist as far as I can tell. Please give me the primary source and I would be happy to reconsider. In reality Orson Hyde is the originator of the (ridiculous) idea, which was popularized by McConkie et al.

    The Canaanites weren’t black. So their curse has nothing to do with being of African dessent.

    Elijah Abel only preached and administered ordinances to Blacks

    This is false. Apostles Heber C. Kimball, Orson Pratt and John Page, without asking the Prophet, temporarily restricted his preaching in 1843 to blacks. He served missions before and after this.

    I would suggest that you follow McConkie’s advice:

    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.

    All Are Alike Unto God, The Second Annual CES Religious Educator’s Symposium, August 17-19, 1978

    Comment by J. Stapley — 7/6/2006 @ 11:46 pm

  36. What a marvelous quote from Elder McConkie. He isn’t one of my favorites, but sometimes he does have gems that say it all.

    Comment by Tanya — 7/10/2006 @ 11:23 am

  37. Tanya,

    McConkie has a lot of good stuff. But the problem with the quote above is that he is telling people to forget and not to remember. This is very unique in my opinion. Where could we find any parallel in the scriptures? Prophets always had to remind people of who they are and what ealier prophets had taught.

    Much of the decision of 1978 was because of convinience. Down here in Brazil, where I live, during the 60’s and 70’s men with white skin and Black ancestry were already being ordained to the priesthood. With the first temple of South America being built in Brazil, a big chaos was about to happen.

    See, please, part of an interview with apostle LeGrand Richards, by Wesley P. Walters and Chris Vlachos, on 16th August 1978.

    WALTERS: On this revelation, of the priesthood to the Negro, I’ve heard all kinds of stories: I’ve heard that Joseph Smith appeared; and then I heard another story that Spencer Kimball had, had a concern about this for some time, and simply shared it with the apostles, and they decided that this was the right time to move in that direction. Are any of those stories true, or are they all?

    RICHARDS: Well, the last one is pretty true, and I might tell you what provoked it in a way. Down in Brazil, there is so much Negro blood in the population there that it’s hard to get leaders that don’t have Negro blood in them. We just built a temple down there. It’s going to be dedicated in October. All those people with Negro blood in them have been raising the money to build that temple. If we don’t change, then they can’t even use it. Well, Brother Kimball worried about it, and he prayed a lot about it….

    WALTERS: Now when President Kimball read this little announcement or paper, was that the same thing that was released to the press?

    RICHARDS: Yes.

    WALTERS: There wasn’t a special document as a “revelation”, that he had and wrote down?

    RICHARDS: We discussed it in our meeting. What else should we say besides that announcement? And we decided that was sufficient; that no more needed to be said.

    On the other hand, the Church in the States was being sued by many individuals and groups as the civil rights movement was growing strong. The priesthood ban had become then very embarassing to the church and something that could even affect the Church’s tax-exempt status.

    God’s love is towards all his children but He may wnat us to learn different things during this probation, with different rights and obligations. Was the Saviour racist because he told the apostles in a first moment not to teach the Gentiles? Notice that conversion always existed. And we have at least one big example of a non-Israelite who had the priesthood, Jethro. So when the early apostolic Church was commanded to teach the Gentiles, was it something that contradicted earlier revelations?

    Anyone has all the right to disagree with Joseph, Brigham & Co. but I think it is very low what some try to do, trying to prevent people from seeing what was taught in the past just because that early doctrine doesn’t fit the present one taught in the Church today.

    Comment by Antonio — 7/10/2006 @ 12:05 pm

  38. So anybody want to post any data? I am really curios what the divorce rates are for interracial marriage vs non interracial marriage.

    In my ward there is widespread interracial marriage so the advice of SWK is pretty much moot anyway but what do the stats tell us?

    Comment by bbell — 7/10/2006 @ 1:24 pm

  39. Antonio, I tend to believe that you are not really lds, but came from the link on the ex-mo board (spoofed IP address, quotes which are circulated by ex-mos, etc.). I will be closing this thread to further comment. Despite LeGrand’s interview, there is a significant body of material describing the revelation. Check out the new Kimball biography. One of the best accounts is by Arrington (the Church historian at the time):

    On June 1, 1978, at a regular temple meeting of the general authorities, Kimball asked the members of the First Presidency and the Twelve to stay for a private conference. In a spirit of fasting and prayer, they formed a prayer circle. Kimball opened by saying he felt impressed to pray to the Lord and asked their permission to be “mouth.” He went to the altar. Those in attendance said that as he began his earnest prayer, they suddenly realized it was not Kimball’s prayer, but the Lord speaking through him. A revelation was being declared. Kimball himself realized that the words were not his but the Lord’s. During that prayer some of the Twelve – at least two have said so publicly – were transported into a celestial atmosphere, saw a divine presence and the figures of former president of the church (portraits of whom were hanging on the walls around them) smiling to indicate their approval and sanction. Others acknowledged the voice of the Lord coming, as with the prophet Elijah, “through the still, small voice.” The voice of the Spirit followed their earnest search for wisdom and understanding.

    At the end of the heavenly manifestation Kimball, weeping for joy, confronted the quorum members, many of them also sobbing, and asked if they sustained this heavenly instruction. Embracing, all nodded vigorously and jubilantly their sanction. There had been a startling and commanding revelation from God-an ineffable experience.

    Two of the apostles present described the experience as a “day of Pentecost” similar to the one in Kirtland Temple on April 6, 1836, the day of its dedication. They saw a heavenly personage and heard heavenly music. To the temple-clothed members, the gathering, incredible and without compare, was the greatest singular event of their lives. Those I talked with wept as they spoke of it. All were certain they had witnessed a revelation from God.

    (Adventures of a Church Historian, Leonard J. Arrington, pg 176-177)

    As to forgetting history, you will find that I am not, nor is anyone else championing it. We must remember, but just as we don’t celebrate the MMM, I will not celebrate the unfortunate racist teachings in our history.

    Comment by J. Stapley — 7/10/2006 @ 2:48 pm

Return to top.