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/fawning

Superb post, again Justin. You are staying, right? How much is Dave paying you? He should double it.

Honest, DMI is the best Mormon stuff I read on the 'net...and that's saying something; I read a LOT of Mormon stuff on the 'net.

//fawning
Do you know if Mr. Udall suffered any ecclesiastical consequences to his writing?

[Dust jacket endorsement]:
Dave's Mormon Inquiry is the best Mormon blog bar none. With very little fluffy editorializing, co-bloggers Dave and Justin's daily tidbits of Mormonalia are a must read. Where else would one learn about the Mormon career of Stewart Udall? It's like one of those "impress your friends with Latin" books: read DMI and everyone will think you're a Mormon studies expert (which these two guys certainly are). We wish we knew who they really were, though, but such mysteries can wait until the next world.

I'm working for free, Ann. Thank you for the kind words.

Udall was left alone by the church as far as I know.

You wrote about Udall's 1947 statements re: his "disaffection from the church." Does Peterson describe this disaffection in detail? Did Udall stop attending church? Turn Methodist?

Justin, I wasn't aware of this interesting episode involving Stewart Udall. What is surprising is that all of this occurred while David O. McKay was President, so I would have expected a more sympathetic response, at least from the First Presidency. Or perhaps it is the old pattern of conservatives voicing their opinions (loudly) while LDS leaders of a more liberal persuasion simply remained quiet.

Here's a paragraph from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism biography of David O. McKay:

President McKay's humanitarian impulse, even in controversial areas of Church policy, was demonstrated during a mission tour of South Africa in 1954. There he was reminded of the difficulties involved with the Church's policy of not allowing blacks or people with black ancestry to hold the priesthood. At that time, to be ordained, members in South Africa had to trace their ancestral lines beyond the continent of Africa because of the high possibility of black ancestry. President McKay listened with great empathy to those whose inability to trace their genealogy kept them from bearing the priesthood, and he felt inspired to modify the policy so that the genealogical test would not apply. It remained for one of his successors, President Spencer W. Kimball, to be given the revelation on priesthood in 1978.

Actually, on a more careful reading, it appears Pres. McKay was showing empathy for white rather than black South Africans, but I suppose the simple fact that he "listened with great empathy" (to anyone) deserves approval.

Brodie's comments on McKay's "personal prejudices" are interesting. IIRC, Brodie was McKay's favorite niece and he her favorite uncle. I received the completely opposite impression of McKay's personal feelings on the priesthood ban from the semi-recent Dialogue article on McKay and the priesthood ban. McKay, according to the article, was all for changing it, assigned apostles to look for scriptural reasons for it (they could only find one), and declared it a policy, not a doctrine (which was misunderstood by a few apostles as meaning it could be altered without revelation)

Ann wrote: You wrote about Udall's 1947 statements re: his "disaffection from the church." Does Peterson describe this disaffection in detail? Did Udall stop attending church? Turn Methodist?

I believe he simply went inactive. I should say a few more things about his background. He was the grandson of David Udall, a stake president and patriarch in Arizona, and the son of Levi Udall, who was also a stake president and later a member of the Arizona Supreme Court. His mother was the granddaughter of John D. Lee. After growing up in St. Johns, Arizona, Udall attended the University of Arizona. He served a mission in the Eastern States. He attended institute while in school. His instructor was Sterling McMurrin, who critiqued Udall's letter/essay years later, and they discussed the church's position on several occasions. Udall had difficulties with the church as early as 1947, five years after the end of his mission. While serving as Secretary of the Interior during Johnson's administration (he quit when Nixon was elected), he took heat from his fellow cabinet members and newspaper reporters about the church's position in light of President Johnson's position on civil rights. Peterson notes: "Although not very active in the Church, Udall remained Mormon by culture and liberal by temperament. He keenly and strongly felt that the Church's position was morally indefensible" (p. 278). He discussed the famous letter with his brother, Morris, who told him that his views would be more powerful if he were "not a Jack-Mormon." In the book, Leaving the Fold: Candid Conversations with Inactive Mormons (James Ure), Udall said: "I'm a Mormon and always have been and I'm proud of that heritage."

Udall has led a remarkable life by all accounts, and he is still active on the conservation front (a recent editorial of his can be read here). Ross Peterson is currently working on a biography. Here is more information on his life: Stewart Udall

Dave wrote:Actually, on a more careful reading, it appears Pres. McKay was showing empathy for white rather than black South Africans, but I suppose the simple fact that he "listened with great empathy" (to anyone) deserves approval.

Ben wrote:I received the completely opposite impression of McKay's personal feelings on the priesthood ban from the semi-recent Dialogue article on McKay and the priesthood ban. McKay, according to the article, was all for changing it, assigned apostles to look for scriptural reasons for it (they could only find one), and declared it a policy, not a doctrine (which was misunderstood by a few apostles as meaning it could be altered without revelation).

McKay does have a more liberal reputation than other church leaders of the time. Quinn writes regarding the South African announcement: "It is clear that [McKay] was seeking to benefit whites, not blacks. Still he was willing to risk letting some black Africans become the direct beneficiaries of this change" (Quinn, Elder Statesman, p. 356). As Quinn notes, McKay recognized this problem, but he said in his announcement: "I should rather, much rather, make a mistake in one case and if it be found out afterwards suspend his activity in the Priesthood than to deprive 10 worthy men of the priesthood" (qtd. in Elder Statesman, p. 356). McKay also instituted this policy for Brazil in 1954. And he made private exceptions in some cases, including authorizing a temple sealing for a young woman and priesthood ordination and mission service for her brother. The siblings had a grandmother who was black (p. 357).

But Quinn argues that "[t]here was--and is--a mistaken but generally believed impression that David O. McKay had liberal attitudes toward civil rights for African Americans" (p. 348). As evidence of this, Quinn cites instructions McKay gave to an Arizona stake president in 1949, expressing his opposition to Arizona's efforts to "guarantee rights of Negroes." McKay told the stake president that despite legislation, there would be discrimination against minorities. He also said: "[T]he South knows how to handle them and they do not have any trouble, and the colored people are better off down there--[but] in California they are becoming very progressive and and insolent in many cases" (Elder Statesman, p. 348). Quinn also states that McKay instituted a ban against black members from speaking in sacrament meetings or firesides in 1952 (p. 348). Quinn acknowledges what Sterling McMurrin reported regarding McKay's thoughts on the priesthood policy and civil rights, but he argues that McKay often took contrary positions on controversial matters (e.g., privately encouraging Elder Benson's support of the Birch Society while privately endorsing President Brown's efforts to stop Elder Benson's activities) (pp. 577-78, n. 216). Quinn charges that McKay "said whatever he thought his LDS listener would love him for saying" (Ibid.). I wouldn't go that far, but it does appear that McKay's views shifted during his life and he may have been more progressive on some issues in this area (e.g., the priesthood) than others (civil rights). But I don't know the full story.

A sidenote:

Stewart is the great uncle of Brady Udall, the author of _The Miracle Life of Edgar Mint_ -- one of the few modern American novels featuring LDS characters that made it big in the high-brow literary world.

FWIW, Brady Udall seems to be attracted to gritty, contrarian characters.

I just noticed that David over at A Soft Answer made some additional comments on the political activities of the extended Udall family, and linked to Justin's post.

"IIRC, Brodie was McKay's favorite niece and he her favorite uncle."

I find this claim a bit implausible. Fawn Brodie's interactions with the extended McKay family were limited and very chilly after the publication of No Man Knows My History (1948?). Furthermore, they were quite strained prior to that time. I think it very unlikely that in the 1960s Brodie had any real "inside" information David O. McKay's feelings one way or another.

My understanding is that McKay thought that the priesthood ban was NOT supported by revelation, but was simply a policy that could be reversed by a decision of the brethren. Other members of the Twelve thought that there was a revealed basis for the policy. The distinction here seems a bit fuzzy, but my understanding is that it made a real difference in terms of what level of spiritual confirmation different Apostles felt was required in order to reverse the policy. (It has been a LONG time since I looked into this, so if someone has a differing understanding, I would be interested in the source.)

Of course, this is not inconsistent with Quinn's claim that McKay harbored racist attitudes and was skeptical of the civil rights movement. Given that McKay was born less than a decade after the end of the Civil War (federal troops still occupied some former confederate states when McKay was born), it would be surprising if he DIDN'T harbor such views.

Hey now, I know F. Ross Peterson and I LOVE him. In fact he's probably the number one reason my head didn't explode when I figured out I was a feminist and a Mormon.

Anyway . . . great post. Loved it.

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