Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Mormons “Follow the Prophet”; But who Does the Prophet Follow?

Here is a heart-warming story of of racism, bigotry, obfuscation, excuses and broken promises. Remember that a man who does a lot of explaining has got a lot of explaining to do. Follow the link at the bottom for the full story.
"No one was sure what the policy was, whether it was a policy or a doctrine," said Gray, who added many Christian churches had the same policy.
Yes, the Mormon race card has reared its ugly head again and the more Mormons talk about it the more vacuous and implausible they sound. Apparently 14 African-American Wyoming football players wanted to boycott the Brigham Young game 40 years ago and a panel discussion at University of Wyoming marked the anniversary.

These things will continue to draw attention for years to come as the anniversary of this or that boycott, action or outrage comes around and the greatest problem is not that the Mormon Church is guilty of racism but that it will not admit culpability and repent! Instead we are offered mealy-mouthed excuses and cultural rationalisations like this.


But the problem is greater than a racist policy that the Mormons would rather was dead and buried along with a whole raft of other embarrassing policies and doctrines. The question prompted by this latest “explanation” is, Mormons follow the prophet but who does the prophet follow?

Lets be clear, the official Mormon stance on all authoritative Mormon teaching is that prophets and apostles give a clear lead based on revelation and Mormons faithfully follow. Here, however, we have a cockeyed account of prophetic failure, doctrinal confusion and policy made on the hoof, grown like weeds in a glasshouse according to hearsay and rumour. Bear in mind that the following “explanation” is offered by an African-American:

"No one was sure what the policy was, whether it was a policy or a doctrine," said Gray, who added many Christian churches had the same policy.


According to Gray, two years after Brigham Young died in 1877, new president John Taylor asked about the policy. A brother named Zebedee Coltrin said he heard from Joseph Smith Jr. that he received a revelation in which blacks could not hold the priesthood.

A member of the Quorum of 12, similar to Christ's 12 Apostles, brought up Elijah Abel, an African-American Mormon priest. According to Gray, "Brother Coltrin said, 'Well, no, the priesthood was stripped from him.' He was a general authority. He had racial ideas that were fairly typical of the time."

I can’t help but observe that all comparisons to other churches are pointless since the Mormon Church has proudly stood apart from other churches, declaring itself “neither Catholic nor Protestant but Restored.” How then can the policies of “apostate” churches be an excuse?

How does a prophet come to ask around to find out what the policy is? Surely a prophet is supposed to ask God, obtain the mind of God and speak the mind of God? Surely a prophet would exercise discernment? This goes a long way to explaining the repeated mantra of the late Gordon B Hinckley, “We don’t know much about that.”

The picture painted here is of a church leader who hadn’t a clue, a racist making church policy in the absence of prophetic leading, a practice growing up over the years based on rumours and hearsay and subsequent prophets failing to address the issue and put it right.

Finally, to add insult to injury, some Mormon may well respond to this post in the usual way, insisting that Darius Gray, the man quoted in the article, “doesn’t speak officially for the church!” But who does? Zebedee Coltrin? Dan Peterson? Richard G Grant? Stephen Robinson? The organist, the janitor, the ward clerk? Surely Mormons can’t expect people to be impressed by their claim of “modern revelation” and, “an open canon” when this sort of debacle’ issues from “The Brethren”.

But then it comes as no surprise that this happens nor that Mormons are furiously backpedalling the claims to ongoing revelation and restored authority they once pedalled so confidently. Now they are just like other churches, make mistakes like other churches, have dark and shameful episodes like other churches and often haven’t a clue what is going on – like the apostate churches Joseph Smith was told he shouldn’t join.

A long road to policy change - The Denver Post

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