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Another excellent post Justin. The criticisms seem to point toward the current perspective church leaders want to take: "That is behind us now." Unfortunately, as long as Mormon Doctrine is still in print, unchallenged by the hierarchy, with it's "Curse of Cain" lies, it is not behind us.

[sigh]. Always proofread before hitting the "post" button. I do know the difference between "it's" and "its."

Great post Justin. The comment from Lythgoe I find most interesting is his last sentence: "What is needed now is a volume written completely by black Mormons to assist white Mormons in gaining perspective and understanding the problems of modern-day blacks in the LDS Church." I think that's right, but the need for such a volume goes well beyond helping white Mormons. The fact is that there are many faithful black Mormons who still stuggle with the old priesthood restrictions. These struggles are often best addressed by other black Mormons. Discussions on the race issue are generally more frank, direct, open, and productive when led by black leaders.

Here in Atlanta, we've had a couple of firesides and other informal meetings that I think have been pretty helpful. One of the counselors in the Atlanta Mission presidency, who happens to be black, gave a fireside on the 25th anniversary on the lifting of the priesthood ban. Darius Gray also came and held a fireside. At one point, the First Counselor in our Stake Presidency, who is also black and grew up in an infamous Atlanta housing project, held an informal get together with only black members. These kinds of conversations with black leaders in positions of authority who have struggled with the race question are critical.

There is an old saying, often repeated by trial lawyers, that you have to "own your warts." I'm a big believer in that theory. Fortunately, that seems to be what's happening here.

Nice follow-up, Justin. The fact that the anthology of essays is published with a university press says a lot for it (I haven't read the book). Not an area I have read much in though.

Thank you for your comments, Ann, Randy, and Dave.

Ann wrote: Unfortunately, as long as Mormon Doctrine is still in print, unchallenged by the hierarchy, with it's "Curse of Cain" lies, it is not behind us.

That's true. The March 2003 Sunstone devoted several pages to pointing out passages in books in print that promote racial folklore, such as Mormon Doctrine, Doctrines of Salvation, and Answers to Gospel Questions.

Darron Smith recently posted the following request on his website:

In the interest of dismantling the unsanctioned racial folklore that remains very much intact in the LDS faith and, in earnest, feeling the need to call upon responsible members of the LDS community to cease all teachings that have not been officially approved by Church headquarters, it would be extremely helpful if you would post your experiences regarding any unauthorized racial teachings regarding people of African descent to this website (click here to send personal accounts). Such experiences will serve as evidence to Church Authorities that an official change in direction is necessary for the benefit of its black members and future converts to the faith. By posting your true stories to the website (click here to send personal accounts), you agree to allow me to use this information in a constructive way that will build goodwill and lead to fundamental improvement. Books with damaging racist notions continue to be printed and sold in LDS bookstores across the nation. Publications such as these detract from the mission of the LDS Church. I hope you will join with me in requesting that they be formally and officially repudiated. Thank you for your commitment to this endeavor and for allowing me to share your stories.
Randy, I appreciate you sharing experiences in Atlanta. I find them very instructive and worthy of emulation elsewhere.

Dave wrote: The fact that the anthology of essays is published with a university press says a lot for it.

I agree. I also thought Lythgoe was unduly critical of the collection.

I think it's silly to say that white people can't or shouldn't contribute anything to the discussion--it's true that white people couldn't contribute to, say, a collection of essays on personal experiences of black Mormons, but since this book isn't supposed to be that, Lythgoe's criticism seems misplaced. It's also strange to criticize a sociologist for writing like a sociologist in an academic volume published by a university press--Lythgoe's major critique seems to be that this isn't the book he wanted to read.

Simply removing Mormon Doctrine from print, or removing the offending passages is not a solution to the problem. In fact leave them as they are, rather than white-wash the history. What is needed is an active denunciation of past understanding. While it would seem that it is obvious that past explainations were were wrong, they are taking a long time to die out, and are supplemented by modified versions that try to take OD 2 into account. For example, a seminary teacher of mine claimed that black people had to achieve the civil rights movement on their own so that they could hold the priesthood. What a US-centric, limited view of things.

Even if the denunciation is as weak as, "we don't exactly know why Brigham Young did this, but it wasn't for the reasons that have been given" that would be better than the current vaccum, in which past statements are seen as infallible given that no prophet or apostle since has countered them.

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