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Church issues Race & Priesthood statement rejecting theories for past ban on Blacks in priesthood

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While baking my ham...:P

Hmm. It may have been some interview with Elder Holland or Elder Oaks.

I think this is what you referring to from the PBS interview:

Q: I've talked to many blacks and many whites as well about the lingering folklore [about why blacks couldn't have the priesthood]. These are faithful Mormons who are delighted about this revelation, and yet who feel something more should be said about the folklore and even possibly about the mysterious reasons for the ban itself, which was not a revelation; it was a practice. So if you could, briefly address the concerns Mormons have about this folklore and what should be done.

Elder Holland: One clear-cut position is that the folklore must never be perpetuated. ... I have to concede to my earlier colleagues. ... They, I'm sure, in their own way, were doing the best they knew to give shape to [the policy], to give context for it, to give even history to it. All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong. ...

It probably would have been advantageous to say nothing, to say we just don't know, and, [as] with many religious matters, whatever was being done was done on the basis of faith at that time. But some explanations were given and had been given for a lot of years. ... At the very least, there should be no effort to perpetuate those efforts to explain why that doctrine existed. I think, to the extent that I know anything about it, as one of the newer and younger ones to come along, ... we simply do not know why that practice, that policy, that doctrine was in place.

Q: What is the folklore, quite specifically?

Elder Holland: Well, some of the folklore that you must be referring to are suggestions that there were decisions made in the pre-mortal councils where someone had not been as decisive in their loyalty to a Gospel plan or the procedures on earth or what was to unfold in mortality, and that therefore that opportunity and mortality was compromised. I really don't know a lot of the details of those, because fortunately I've been able to live in the period where we're not expressing or teaching them, but I think that's the one I grew up hearing the most, was that it was something to do with the pre-mortal councils. ... But I think that's the part that must never be taught until anybody knows a lot more than I know. ... We just don't know, in the historical context of the time, why it was practiced. ... That's my principal [concern], is that we don't perpetuate explanations about things we don't know. ...

We don't pretend that something wasn't taught or practice wasn't pursued for whatever reason. But I think we can be unequivocal and we can be declarative in our current literature, in books that we reproduce, in teachings that go forward, whatever, that from this time forward, from 1978 forward, we can make sure that nothing of that is declared. That may be where we still need to make sure that we're absolutely dutiful, that we put [a] careful eye of scrutiny on anything from earlier writings and teachings, just [to] make sure that that's not perpetuated in the present. That's the least, I think, of our current responsibilities on that topic. ...

The Mormons . Interviews . Jeffrey Holland | PBS

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All I can say is however well intended the explanations were, I think almost all of them were inadequate and/or wrong. ...

As I suspected.

Elder Holland voicing an opinion is a far cry from the Church making a statement declaring previous ideas false. And even within his opinion, Elder Holland says "inadequate and/or wrong", meaning some of the ideas may not have been wrong, simply inadequate. I would guess that even those who accept those opinions as true would concede that they are not completely adequate to explain things.

Yet again, let me clarify that I am not arguing in favor of any specific set of arguments used to justify the Priesthood ban. My general argument is and has been that the Priesthood ban itself has NEVER been questioned officially -- quite the opposite. My specific argument in this case is that, so far as I know, even the specific theories have not been called out and declared as false. Certainly Elder Holland's statement does not do so.

I am not trying to be Brother Super-Parser, by the way. I am not intending to engage in Pharisaical microinterpretations to try to establish my own opinions. I simply want to see the Church's teachings and declarations viewed in the light they were given in, and not used by the agenda-driven grinding their axes.

Well, some of the folklore that you must be referring to are suggestions that there were decisions made in the pre-mortal councils where someone had not been as decisive in their loyalty to a Gospel plan or the procedures on earth or what was to unfold in mortality, and that therefore that opportunity and mortality was compromised. I really don't know a lot of the details of those, because fortunately I've been able to live in the period where we're not expressing or teaching them, but I think that's the one I grew up hearing the most, was that it was something to do with the pre-mortal councils. ... But I think that's the part that must never be taught until anybody knows a lot more than I know. ... We just don't know, in the historical context of the time, why it was practiced. ... That's my principal [concern], is that we don't perpetuate explanations about things we don't know. ...

Notice: Elder Holland is not saying that these explanations are false. He is saying that these explanations go well beyond what he (and, in general, what we) know. It seems clear by implication that he believes them to be false. I happen to think they're false, too. But the point is that THE CHURCH IS NOT OFFICIALLY DECLARING THEM FALSE. Claiming that the Church is doing so is itself an untrue statement. Rather, it says we shouldn't be teaching such ideas.

Edited by Vort

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If a teaching has been disavowed, that simply means it is no longer a teaching of the Church - that doesn't change the validity of the teaching.

Hi mordorbund. :) It seems to me you are making the word "disavow" a synonym of the word "discontinue" and I personally believe both are different. I think the word "repudiate" is actually a good synonym of "disavow". What definition are you using for the word? I quickly searched online dictionaries and these are the definitions I found:

to deny knowledge of, connection with, or responsibility for.

to disclaim knowledge of, connection with, or responsibility for; disown; repudiate.

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Vort, I happen to agree with you about Elder Holland's opinion on the topic. The same applies with every LDS leader talking about it non-officially. I was merely trying to help JAG with the quote.

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Hi mordorbund. :) It seems to me you are making the word "disavow" a synonym of the word "discontinue" and I personally believe both are different. I think the word "repudiate" is actually a good synonym of "disavow". What definition are you using for the word? I quickly searched online dictionaries and these are the definitions I found:

I think disown is the best synonym here. The church disowns them as doctrine. There are plenty of unknown truths that are not doctrine though, and we should not speculate on them as if they are doctrinal based on our own mortal understanding of things.

My view is similar to modobund's. I think we should not teach these things as true. I also think that we should allow for the possibility that they may be true. It isn't really relevant to mortal life, expect, perhaps, in that we should support our prophets (past and present) as thoroughly as possible. We should give them the benefit of the doubt if things are in questions, and strictly follow what is currently taught. What that means to me is that we do NOT teach these principles. We do not speak of them as viable explanations. The church is clear on that. However, we should also allow in our own sense of understanding the reality that our past prophets and apostles were, actually, led by the spirit, and therefore, what they said, while perhaps beyond our understanding, is probably at some level correct.

To explain my thinking I'll share my thoughts on the curse of Cain thing. I think the usage of the specific wordings of "curse" and "Cain" are problematic in our current culture. However, that doesn't mean that similar thinking may not be valid. If we take the idea of a curse as a state set upon us that sets us apart in a negative way, then anything we have in this life that does so can be reasonable called a curse. That does not translate, necessarily to inequality in God's love for us, or our capability or worth as a person. We take the word curse to mean inequality, but it is not necessarily so. The Israelites were cursed when they were in bondage to Pharaoh. Would anyone argue that that defined them as lesser than the Egyptians in God's eyes? Would anyone claim that it was racist to say they were cursed by this state?

That the African race was cursed in some regard due to their black skin when racism ran rampant seems fairly clear. We see the same thing in the treatment of the Jewish race (as prophesied) and their treatment over the years. Understanding that these "races" were cursed does not inherently say that they are lesser in the eyes of God or should be viewed as lesser in our own views. But they were, undeniably, cursed.

As for the "Cain" part, I see this, perhaps, akin to the horses in the BOM thing. Just because they called something a horse that wasn't literally a horse, or because Joseph Smith translated it as horse (presuming that there weren't actual horses whose bones just simply haven't been discovered yet) doesn't mean the BOM is false. And if Brigham Young and others were wrong on using the name "Cain" due to cultural tradition or misreading the scriptures, it doesn't mean, necessarily, that the principle isn't right.

Regardless, as clearly indicated by the church, this is only personal opinion (in this case mine) and no way reflects church doctrine. I believe the church doctrine, for decades now, has been pretty clear. We do not know.

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Just_A_Guy, I intend to address more of what you wrote, but I will respond just to this now:

Timpman: 1963, Spencer W. Kimball: "The doctrine or policy has not varied in my memory. I know it could. I know the Lord could change his policy and release the ban and forgive the possible error which brought about the deprivation."

Ah-HAH! The private letter to his son that admits Kimball thought the policy was wrong all along . . . or did it?

Just a couple of days later Kimball picked up his pen again and wrote the following to that same son:

The conferring of priesthood, and declining to give the priesthood is not a matter of my choice nor of President McKay’s. It is the Lord’s program....

Timpman: Even Brother Kimball admitted the "deprivation" was a "possible error."

I can see how, in the absence of context, that quote would throw you. But when we look at Kimball's life and teachings--and the conversation that the quote comes from--in totality rather than just engaging in quote-mining, it becomes clear: Kimball would have been just about the last person in the Church to suggest that the GAs had erred in instituting the priesthood ban.

I do understand that context is important and I don’t mean to misrepresent anything. Here is more on this:

The things of God cannot be understood by the spirit of men. It is impossible to always measure and weigh all spiritual things by man’s yardstick of scales. Admittedly, our direct and positive information is limited. I have wished the Lord had given us a little more clarity in the matter. But for me, it is enough. The prophets for 133 years of the church have maintained the position of the prophet of the Restoration that the Negro could not hold the Priesthood nor have the temple ordinances which are preparatory for exaltation. I believe in the living prophets as much or almost more than the dead ones. They are here to clarify and reaffirm. I have served with and under three of them. The doctrine or policy has not varied in my memory. I know it could. I know the Lord could change his policy and release the ban and forgive the possible error, which brought about the deprivation. If the time comes, that he will do, I am sure. These smart members who would force the issue, and there are many of them, cheapen the issue and certainly bring into contempt the sacred principle of revelation and divine authority. (Spencer w. Kimball, Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, June 1963., p. 448.)

I see now that he referred to a “possible error” that caused the “deprivation.” Even if the “deprivation” is the ban, he did not say it could have been an error. He was referring only to what may have "brought about the deprivation." I stand corrected and I am sorry.

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I am sorry, Timpman. However vehemently I may disagree with your opinion and its implications, that cannot justify the unpleasantness of my responses. You have been a gentleman throughout. Thank you.

Vort, I was getting very discouraged by the tone of this discussion, but I feel better now. Thank you for this.

My point, very badly made, was that if God instituted the ban, then by definition it's not racism (or if you insist that it is, then racism cannot be a bad thing, because God cannot do evil). I would argue with your last sentence by saying that if the ban was instituted by God, then it was not based on race at all, but on God's command. That God's command happened to be racially applied is of no moment.

You make good points here. I agree that if God instituted the ban, then 1) the ban was not racist, 2) or racism is not inherently bad, 3) or what people generally view as racist may not be so. Also, you were right when you said I don’t know the mind of God, generally. It could be that God did institute the ban and there were good reasons for it. However, I just believe the ban was not of God. I will present my reasons in a more organized way later.

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If a teaching has been disavowed, that simply means it is no longer a teaching of the Church - that doesn't change the validity of the teaching...

With respect, I strongly disagree with this. To disavow something is to “deny any responsibility or support for” it. It appears the most commonly referenced synonym for the word is “repudiate,” which means “to refuse to accept or support” or “to reject the validity or authority of.” To me, it’s quite clear the church is saying it does not support the theories - it rejects them. They are saying those theories have no validity or authority.

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You make good points here. I agree that if God instituted the ban, then 1) the ban was not racist, 2) or racism is not inherently bad, 3) or what people generally view as racist may not be so. Also, you were right when you said I don’t know the mind of God, generally. It could be that God did institute the ban and there were good reasons for it. However, I just believe the ban was not of God. I will present my reasons in a more organized way later.

I vote 2. However, this only applies to an omniscient being who understands why He instigated the races, how race ties into our experience and test in life, etc., etc... We must allow that God knows more than us and trust him. Any presumption that we understand better than God or his prophets runs quickly afoul of arrogance and pride.

The problem is that we have learned to equate the word racism with prejudice and bias. As in the definition "having or showing the belief that a particular race is superior to another." But in it's truest sense, anything that discriminates by race is racist. And discrimination by race can be positive, if that discrimination is positive, as in programs or scholarships designed to help those races. Whereas I make no argument as to the effectiveness of these programs, I wouldn't say that every instance of these programs are based on evil or malice intent. Yet they are literally racist, depending I suppose on the exact definition of racism.

This generates a problem I think in the church's statement of "Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form." As has been noted however, what about the Book of Mormon? Clearly, the church is not condemning the Book of Mormon, which says to me that they are using the term racism specifically as defined above (from a Google search, a.k.a. the superiority of a race). Per one definition of racism (racial superiority) the Church is correct and the Book of Mormon is not racist. Per another definition (discrimination because of race) the Church would be in conflict with it's own scripture and the Book of Mormon is clearly racist.

God, clearly has given situations or blessings to one race that he denies another. But it is not because of superiority of those races because, as we know, God is no respecter of persons. But it is also blatantly clear that we are not all given equal opportunity in this life as far as the mortal existence is concerned. Some are smart, some stupid, some tall, some short, some bald, some with flowing locks, some disabled, some athletically superior. This does not mean that God has viewed us differently and has given to us unfairly accordingly. Rather, He sees us as we really are and has given us our lot according to His wisdom and omniscience in accordance with the greatest levels of fairness. And all will be judged fairly and according to how we handle our stewardship. The fact that some have more than me in this life is not relevant to God's respect for me.

And none of God's choices relevant to race in the past are applicable to how we think of and interact with others now. God makes choices according to His knowledge and understanding and with a perfect fairness. But we have been clearly commanded how to treat others. A realization that God has a higher understanding of our life experience can never justify our mistreatment of others in any regard (with the exception of direct revelation, which of course would mean that we were not "mis"-treating, though it might look so to the world - I believe this to be the case with the Priesthood ban).

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With respect, I strongly disagree with this. To disavow something is to “deny any responsibility or support for” it. It appears the most commonly referenced synonym for the word is “repudiate,” which means “to refuse to accept or support” or “to reject the validity or authority of.” To me, it’s quite clear the church is saying it does not support the theories - it rejects them. They are saying those theories have no validity or authority.

I somewhat agree with you, but that does not mean that they are not true or that there is no truth in them. Everything the church doesn't teach is not automatically false. Whereas I can certainly see your point and you may be right in this, I can also reasonably see that they are saying (as I interpret it) "We don't know, therefore we repudiate these teachings as truth." rather than, as you are inferring from it, "We DO know, therefor we repudiate these teaching as truth and thereby claim them as absolutely false." I think the latter is reading things into it that are not said.

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I somewhat agree with you, but that does not mean that they are not true or that there is no truth in them.

What would be the sense of repudiating a teaching that is true? Sorry, but it makes little sense to me. Repudiating means "To reject the validity or authority of". The Church is stating that those theories are not valid. If there was any truth in them, it is clear they wouldn't be repudiating them.

Everything the church doesn't teach is not automatically false.

I agree with that and it is clear with Plural Marriage yet, the Church never repudiated the doctrine, even in the last Church statement they stated that it was a revelation given to Joseph Smith. Here, we are witnessing a repudiation of theories advanced by early leaders and also a clear absence of a similar phraseology. No mention of a revelation imposing the restriction.

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You make good points here. I agree that if God instituted the ban, then 1) the ban was not racist, 2) or racism is not inherently bad, 3) or what people generally view as racist may not be so.

Well, and "racism" is--needless to say--a loaded term. As I understand the modern sociological use of the term, it's more than just naked preference of one race over another--it involves questions of intent and relative power (which is why five whites beating up a black is obviously racist, but five blacks beating up a white is . . . just another random act of violence, I guess).

It's another problem of trying to apply 21st century political dogma to a God who transcends space and time.

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What would be the sense of repudiating a teaching that is true? Sorry, but it makes little sense to me. Repudiating means "To reject the validity or authority of". The Church is stating that those theories are not valid. If there was any truth in them, it is clear they wouldn't be repudiating them.

This is, in my opinion, reading things into what the church has said that the church has not said.

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Mordorbund, I may be wrong; but I think the Church has explicitly said that those theories were wrong--not just nondoctrinal, but wrong. If memory serves, it was in an announcement that came out in the wake of BYU professor Randy Bott's comments last year.

Suzie beat me to it, but the almost 2 year old statement is essentially an abbreviated version of the more recent one. "The Church is not bound" to the old theories, but nothing on whether or not they are false. The Holland quote is a new one on me though (maybe I should start cooking ham).

Hi mordorbund. :) It seems to me you are making the word "disavow" a synonym of the word "discontinue" and I personally believe both are different. I think the word "repudiate" is actually a good synonym of "disavow". What definition are you using for the word? I quickly searched online dictionaries and these are the definitions I found:
to deny knowledge of, connection with, or responsibility for.

to disclaim knowledge of, connection with, or responsibility for; disown; repudiate

I would describe it as a distancing, specifically that it wholly loses whatever official status it once held.

Merriam-Webster online has it as

1: to deny responsibility for : repudiate

2: to refuse to acknowledge or accept : disclaim <party leaders disavowed him>

I think we agree that the Church does not acknowledge these doctrines as true, nor does it accept them. The Church is severing its connection with them. That's the official party line. I would go further to state that it does not mean that they aren't true. It means the church body has not received divine direction on it one way or the other. Looking again at your definition, "disown" is probably the best synonym in my mind for this example. The Church has cut the old theories loose.

With respect, I strongly disagree with this. To disavow something is to “deny any responsibility or support for” it. It appears the most commonly referenced synonym for the word is “repudiate,” which means “to refuse to accept or support” or “to reject the validity or authority of.” To me, it’s quite clear the church is saying it does not support the theories - it rejects them. They are saying those theories have no validity or authority.

The Church is not supporting the old teachings. We aren't going to find modern talks like Elder Dyer's "For What Purpose" giving an explanation for the theories or trying to tie them all together. And the Randy Bott incident shows that the Church is not going to support you in repeating them, even if you are a popular church college professor.

It is only in the harshest definition of the synonym "repudiate" that you find a rejection of their validity, and even then I think it would be more proper to say that they've lost their authority over the Church. The definition you provide as well as Merriam-Webster agree that there are "softer" uses of the word. If we're going to work with synonyms, then I think "disown" or perhaps even "disclaim" is a better fit.

Admittedly, I can see where you and Suzie are coming from. Like Vort, I don't particularly feel strongly on this particular aspect of the statement. If some of these doctrines creep up in Sunday School, I'll make it clear that the Church has disavowed the teaching and it is no longer taught. It doesn't make a difference in the week to week operations. I do think it may make a difference for individuals who are looking for answers, who are or were personally affected by the ban.

Regardless, I do appreciate the respect.

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I would go further to state that it does not mean that they aren't true.

Since I am not an English professor, I contacted someone who I consider a friend of mine (she also has done extensive research on this topic). She teaches Literature and Creative writing at BYU, and agreed with my interpretation and use of the word "disavow" within the context of the Church statement. I know it's just her opinion, I am merely posting this to state that I sought for the advice of a professional.

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Mordorbund, I'll be interesting to see where a more detailed analysis of the quotes leads. I guess my current inclination is to take what I see as the plain meaning of the word (disavow = repudiate) at face value, while merely borrowing a couple of the arguments already refined by my friends across the aisle; to wit:

1) Holland is speaking as an individual, not on behalf of the Church; and

2) Even if he's speaking on behalf of the church--hey, if they were wrong once then I will simply choose to believe that they're wrong again now. In the meantime I will just glibly assure my debating fellows that it is really they, not I, who are on the "wrong side of history". :cool:

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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I got to thinking about this again last night, and I got to wondering what's everyone's interest in this?

I myself was born into the post-ban Church. Growing up, my dad would tell me mission stories about the discretion they had to use in Brazil for building the Church. I can't recall him talking about his experiences with the ban getting lifted. That's not to say that he didn't, I just didn't really hold an interest in the topic growing up. It was history (fairly modern, but history nonetheless).

The more I think about it, I suppose I was exposed to the impact here and there. As a young teenager in the South, I knew a few black families in our small branch. My dad shared on one occasion how impressed he was with one of the father's testimony - that he continued faithful even as all his friends continued to ask him why he went to "that white church".

I don't have any skin in the game (don't read a pun in a place it's not intended), so I can dispassionately throw my ideas in the arena and let them get shredded. That being said, I do participate in the discussions when I feel like general authorities are getting thrown under a bus (and of course I need to feel like there will be some impact). My model for sustaining our leaders is David's example. When he was on the run, who should wander into his cave but Saul! David stealthily cut off the hem of Saul's clothes and resumes hiding. Later he reveals that he could have killed Saul but did not because he would not harm the Lord's anointed. David had every right to kill him: Saul reneged on past agreements, was jealous of his honor, was actively trying to kill him, and David was already told by the prophet that Saul was rejected and he would be sole monarch. But he would not harm the Lord's anointed.

This example has impressed me to the point where, if there is the smallest amount of wiggle room to allow for it, I side with the general authorities. I recognize that this is perhaps an ultra-loyal perspective, but it is the model I use. So I come into these discussions with more of an interest on the ways the topic is used to discredit previous prophets and modern ones. And that leads me down Suzie and JAG's rabbit holes to understand the topic better that's the catalyst for another conversation.

Timpman, if you don't mind sharing, what is your interest in the priesthood ban? I get the feeling that for you it is more than academic. Were you or a close friend or family member affected by it? Or are you driven by Christian empathy? If you'd rather not say here, I can respect that.

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I got to thinking about this again last night, and I got to wondering what's everyone's interest in this?

...

Timpman, if you don't mind sharing, what is your interest in the priesthood ban? I get the feeling that for you it is more than academic. Were you or a close friend or family member affected by it? Or are you driven by Christian empathy? If you'd rather not say here, I can respect that.

I taught some black people during my mission and the priesthood ban was a concern. My sister married a black guy. However, I was not strongly affected until the church stated, "It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church..." I had understood we didn't really know why the restriction existed, but I assumed we knew how and when it began. I then questioned whether it is known if it should have been instituted at all. I was painfully disillusioned. I was going to provide a long explanation, but I've lost steam.

I’ll just say I’m sorry if I have upset anyone here. I want to support faith, even though what I have written probably doesn't appear faith-promoting. My advice to all is to follow the prophets, but build a foundation on Jesus Christ independent of prophets or anyone else. Such a foundation will be not shaken when former theories and policies are disavowed, the definition of which is commonly understood to include rejected as false.

See for yourself. Here are definitions and synonyms from five sources:

Oxford

deny any responsibility or support for

American Heritage

To disclaim knowledge of, responsibility for, or association with

To assert to be wrong or of little value

Merriam-Webster

1: to deny responsibility for : repudiate

2: to refuse to acknowledge or accept : disclaim

Synonyms: contradict, disaffirm, disallow, deny, disclaim, disconfirm [to deny or refute the validity of], disown, gainsay, negate, negative, refute, reject, repudiate

The Free Dictionary

vb To disclaim knowledge of, responsibility for, or association with.

v.t. to disclaim knowledge of, connection with, or responsibility for; disown; repudiate.

Synonyms: deny, reject, contradict, retract, repudiate, disown, rebut [ to prove (something) is false by using arguments or evidence], disclaim, forswear, gainsay

Dictionary.com

to disclaim knowledge of, connection with, or responsibility for; disown; repudiate

Synonyms: deny, reject, disclaim.

Four out of the five include words denoting that to disavow something is to reject it as false. I don’t think the brethren would have used that word if they didn't mean to reject the theories in question. I understand why some resist that meaning, though. The implications can be frightening. In my opinion, the sooner one accepts the full meaning and comes to terms with the implications, the better. It'll be okay. The church is still true and Jesus is the Christ.

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The letters from the Presidency dated August 17, 1949 and December 15, 1969 FULLY explained the ban on the Priesthood from a doctrinal point of view. They weren't theories. According to the FP, the ban was doctrine until further revelation that would eventually change everything. (1978).

Church critics like to say that BY was a racist. If so, why in the world would we have a university bearing his name? I do not believe that BY was a racist. He was preaching the doctrine of separation. It is the same thing that will happen to those who inherit one of the 3 kingdoms. It is the same doctrine on which the Judgment Day is based on. Otherwise, why even have a Judgment Day?

Ever heard anyone taking issue with the Judgment Day and calling it a discriminatory event?

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The letters from the Presidency dated August 17, 1949 and December 15, 1969 FULLY explained the ban on the Priesthood from a doctrinal point of view. They weren't theories. According to the FP, the ban was doctrine until further revelation that would eventually change everything. (1978).

Church critics like to say that BY was a racist. If so, why in the world would we have a university bearing his name? I do not believe that BY was a racist. He was preaching the doctrine of separation. It is the same thing that will happen to those who inherit one of the 3 kingdoms. It is the same doctrine on which the Judgment Day is based on. Otherwise, why even have a Judgment Day?

Ever heard anyone taking issue with the Judgment Day and calling it a discriminatory event?

Wormwood, I don't think it's that simple. It was also stated that the ban was not doctrine, but was only a policy.

A university can be named after Brigham Young regardless of his flaws. He said some things that were blatantly racist. I don't condemn him for it. It's just the way things were. I really don't know what the "doctrine of separation" is, but I know the Book of Mormon says black and white people are alike unto God.

People will be judged according to their heart, thoughts, words, and works. I don't see how judgement day relates to this discussion about race and the priesthood.

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Some interesting discussion here, just thought I'd throw in my 2 cents:

Personally (and I thought this before this latest statement on race issues appearing on lds.org) I believed (and still do) that the Priesthood ban on negros was similar to Peter incorrectly thinking that the Gospel was only for non-Gentiles. This was a prevailing social custom at the time of Peter, yet the Lord told him it was not so. And Peter was an apostle of the Lord!

Brigham Young, though a prophet of God, likewise was not incapable of error. Very simply, I believe that he did act in error in withholding the Priesthood from negroes. The fact that Joseph Smith ordained some african americans to the priesthood is very telling. I think it is silly to think that then following Joseph's death, all of a sudden God would proclaim that african americans are not to receive the priesthood =)

In short, for myself I see this as a mistake by a Church leader. It doesn't mean he wasn't a prophet of God, but it does mean he made a mistake, as many other prophets and apostles have done before him.

The dilemma from a PR standpoint is that the Church will find it hard to outright say a past prophet made such an error - those of tender faith may find it difficult to accept, and thus lose faith in the Church. So the stance of the Church, in my view, is to not outright state such errors, but rather imply them gently as was the case with this latest lds.org article.

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