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Bruce R. McConkie Wrote Official Declaration 2!

Dr. Matt Harris has uncovered that apostle Bruce R. McConkie wrote Official Declaration 2, which allowed for the first time in 120 years, open ordination of black church men, and allowed blacks access to the LDS Temple ordinances.  This may seem especially ironic, given the fact that McConkie had long justified the ban through the Curse of Cain and Curse of Ham in his book, Mormon Doctrine.

Matt:  President Kimball knows what he is doing.  He needs to get Elder McConkie’s buy-in.  When he gets Elder McConkie’s buy-in that the ban needs to be lifted, I mean he feels that there is a tremendous weight off his shoulders.

This isn’t to take away of course any of the spiritual aspects of the temple and the revelation, and the things that the apostles will recount afterwards about it being the most magnificent spiritual experience of their life.  I think that’s all very authentic and genuine, but it just speaks to President Kimball’s remarkable leadership, that I order to do this, “I’ve got to really work with my associates and massage them and help them to understand that this is the right thing to do.”  To me that is an incredible, remarkable exercise in leadership on President Kimball’s part, because he doesn’t want to create a schism in the Twelve like President Woodruff had under his leadership.

I am sure as the church president that President Kimball could have just done something unilaterally.  But if there is no buy-in, what is the point?  Right?  If people don’t realize that this is the right thing to do, that’s really one of the most remarkable things is that he gets the buy-in from Elder McConkie.  Not only is there buy-in from Elder McConkie, the biggest doctrinal hardliner, but it is Elder McConkie who writes the Second Official Manifesto that will be added to the Doctrine & Covenants.  That is his language.

We will also discuss a candid discussion between President Kimball and an official from the Carter Administration, who expressed displeasure with the ban. 

Matt:  Also, going on behind the scenes is President Kimball’s meeting with a man named Jack Carlson.  He is Ph.D. in economics from Harvard.  He is a liberal Mormon democrat.  He is one of the proud three in the ‘70s!  {chuckles} He works in the Carter Administration.  He calls Jack Carlson into his office, and just has this very candid discussion.  This is in I think ’76-77, somewhere in there.  He calls in Jack Carlson and his wife, just the three of them:  President Kimball and the Carlsons.  He says, “Jack, why do the Carter people hate us so much?”

He said, “President, don’t you get it?

“No, tell me.  That’s why you are here.”

He said, “They hate our views on ERA, our views towards women and ERA.”  This is in the midst of the ERA movement. Of course, Utah was the holdup, arguably one of the states that kills the amendment, to be honest.  The church was against it, and that galvanized opposition.  “The other thing is, they don’t like our views towards black people.”

President Kimball, without missing a beat, says, “We’ve got to change this policy, but I can’t.  I am worried.  I am worried about how the saints in the South will take this policy.”  It’s the same thing McKay had to deal with, you remember?  “I am worried about my brethren in the Twelve.”  That’s what he said.

Matt gets into some other interesting details as well, such as Merrill Bateman’s mission to Nigeria in the early 1970s.  This is an interview you don’t want to miss (in addition to our previous discussion of Pres Kimball!

Did you know Elder McConkie wrote Official Declaration 2?
Did you know Elder McConkie wrote Official Declaration 2?

Check out our conversation….


3 thoughts on “Bruce R. McConkie Wrote Official Declaration 2!

  1. There was no Carter Administration in 1976, and Jack W. Carlson (Ph.D., Harvard, Economics) wasn’t a Democrat. He was a Republican who served in the Ford administration. He lost the 1976 Utah GOP senatorial nomination to Orrin Hatch. During the Carter administration, Carlson was President of the U.S. Chamber of Conference, which is a lobbying group, and then executive vice president of the National Association of Realtors.

  2. Very interesting! I’ll have to check with Matt on that, because he dated it from ’75-77 which would have overlapped Ford and Carter administrations. I know he was a but fuzzy on that.

  3. It is not ironic that McConkie wrote it. It only shows that he was not the one dimensional charicature his critics make him. Mormon Doctrine only echoes teachings of others on the matter. BRM went to the original sources, the scriptures, and found support for lifting the ban which he shared with SWK. His son never credited BRM for this revelation, he only showed that he was supportive of it and helped prepare SWK to receive it. Otherwise a good interview. I just hate the constant attacks on BRM. Why not praise him for being one of the first to get behind the prophet and seek for revelation to change the policy? Why try to pin a policy on him that was started decades before he was born?

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