Posted on 2 Comments

Benson on Civil Rights & Communism (Part 10 of 13)

Ezra Taft Benson was a sharp critic of the civil rights movement and called it a communist conspiracy.  Why was that?  Dr. Matt Harris details the red scare, and why Benson was so opposed to both communism and civil rights.

Matt:  Elder Benson thinks that Martin Luther King–this is the Birch view, of course, but Elder Benson, following the Birch line thinking that Dr King is a communist agent. That somehow if you push for racial equality, you also want economic equality and that makes you a socialist and a communist. So Elder Benson is furious with Hugh B. Brown’s general conference talk, where the Church is on record as supporting civil rights. Now keep in mind what that means. Brown never said that we favor the civil rights stuff going on in Congress right now. Nor do we favor particular legislation in the State of Utah. There was nothing specific about it. He would write that too, to other Latter-day Saints who wrote him letters. “Does that mean we support the Civil Rights Act of 1963, that John F Kennedy is pushing through?” He’d write back, “We don’t support any particular policy. I just want you to know that we do support civil rights as a general principle.” So clearly, there’s some hedging with him.

We will also talk about his European Mission.

Matt:  …after the whole Harding speech on the floor of the Congress, it created a buzz storm. And the brethren and President McKay [decide] “We’ve got to get Benson out of the country. We’ve got to purify his blood.” That’s what Joseph Fielding Smith says in a private letter. We’ve got to get him out of the country and purify his blood. What he meant by that is purify his blood of politics, of Birch. In 1963, ironically enough, the same month that Hugh B. Brown is giving that civil rights statement in conference, Elder Benson’s going to get summoned into the First Presidency’s office to be told that he’s going to be sent to Germany to preside over the European mission.

Check out our conversation….

Dr Matt Harris explains why Ezra Taft Benson tied the civil rights movement to communism.
Dr Matt Harris explains why Ezra Taft Benson tied the civil rights movement to communism.

Don’t forget our other conversations about Benson!

251: Benson and John Birch Society (Harris)

250: How Ezra Taft Benson Joined Eisenhower (Harris)

Posted on Leave a comment

Civil War Prophecy Leads to Black Ordination (Part 5)

On Christmas Day in 1832, Joseph Smith had a revelation that the Civil War would begin in South Carolina.  Almost 30 years later, it happened.  William Bickerton was impressed with the revelation, and thought it would bring about the end of the world.  The revelation proclaimed that slaves would rise up against their masters.  Would it allow for black ordination?  How did Church members react?

Daniel:  I believe it’s in 1871. The little Redstone branch, it’s called the racist doctrine. The Little Red Stone or that’s how I talk about it in the book of the Little Redstone branch in Pennsylvania doesn’t want to give equal partnership and equal rights to African-Americans and they believe that black people are below white people.

Most of America was racist and from our standing. The South believed in slavery and even a lot of people in the north didn’t necessarily believe in slavery, but they definitely, most people in the North didn’t believe that Africans were equal to whites.

And you start to see that even within the Bickertonite movement, there are members that don’t believe that African-Americans are equal to white people or to the average Americans. And even after the war, African-Americans, at least African-American men are given equal citizenship rights to white men. And there’s people in the congregation, that little Redstone congregation. that don’t agree with that, especially within the church. They’re going to be barred from the priesthood and all these other things.

GT: Now is this in Pennsylvania?

Daniel: This is in Pennsylvania. So, this is Union country after the war. So, what ends up happening is one of the conferences, somebody, I believe one of the apostles, it was Joseph Astin I believe has to write a letter and send it to little Redstone and tell them. I really like this letter because it’s very politically minded.

And, they use the scriptures to kind of show, to kind of ease them in, to show them. So, they say, listen, in the New Testament, we read that the gentiles were looked down upon by the Jews. They were considered unclean. But then the apostle Peter has that dream where God tells them, don’t consider the gentiles unclean anymore. The Gospel brings them up. It says, “So too have we been taught,” or “we’ve been led,” I think the term is used. “We’ve been led to believe or to think,” that black people, I think they used the term Negro or colored people. It’s colored, I believe they used. “We’ve been led to believe that the colored people are below us, but the gospel brings them up and brings them to have equal access with the supper of the Lord,” or something like that. Very political, very well read, but trying to say no, they’re equal to us and even if you don’t think that they are, secularly the gospel brings them up. So, we are to give them equal access to everything that we have and they are to be considered everything that we have.

Check out our conversation…

Joseph Smith's Civil War prophecy led William Bickerton to believe blacks were authorized to receive priesthood.   They are the first Latter-day Saint group to ordain a black apostle.

Joseph Smith’s Civil War prophecy led William Bickerton to believe blacks were authorized to receive priesthood. They are the first Latter-day Saint group to ordain a black apostle. 

 

Check out our other conversations with Dr. Stone!

199: Biblical Support to Ordain Women (Stone)

198: Bickerton Becomes Prophet (Stone)

197: Sidney’s Church Falls Apart (Stone)

196: Rigdon/Spalding Manuscript Theory (Stone)

Posted on Leave a comment

Dr. Paul Reeve on the Race Essay at LDS.org (re-release)

This is a first time release on YouTube, (previously on Apple Podcasts) of a conversation I had with Dr. Paul Reeve of the University of Utah last year.  I asked if he had anything to do with writing the Gospel Topics Essay (race essay) titled Race and the Priesthood on LDS.org. He was very candid and I think you’ll enjoy listening to his answers on these and other topics.

GT:  Now I want to ask you another question.  I’m hoping you’ll answer.  I’ve heard rumors, and that’s all they are is rumors that you played a role in compiling that essay [Race and the Priesthood].  Do you have any response to that?

Paul laughs:  I did help with the essay. Yeah, Yeah.

GT:  So was it, can you describe your role?

Paul:  Well the Church History Department invited me to write an extended essay. It ended up being about 55 pages long with footnotes and everything like I would produce as an academic essay.  Once they were satisfied with that it was sent up the line, several layers of approval process and then the Church History Department actually boiled down that longer essay to what got posted online so I had no say over what got posted online, what eventually appeared as Race and the Priesthood, but it was a condensed version of the longer piece that I produced for them.

I asked his opinions on how these race lessons of the past apply to today’s situations. It’s one of my favorite parts of the interview.  I also asked if there were parallels between the black ban and the new gay ban.

Paul:  Well I guess there are ways in which I could see them as similar and ways in which I think they’re distinct.  The similarities could be that, is this simply the sort of cultural context, right?  That is somehow seeping in, it would be hard to argue that the cultural context of America moving towards legalizing gay marriage didn’t impact Mormonism, right?  So it’s Mormonism responding to its cultural context the same way that Mormonism seemed to respond to the racial context in the 19th century, so a parallel there, but I think also important distinctions.

 

Dr. Paul Reeve discusssed the Race and Priesthood essay at LDS.org
Dr. Paul Reeve discusssed the Race and Priesthood essay at LDS.org

I asked Paul how he felt about the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at Pres. Trump’s inauguration.  Don’t forget to check out our previous conversations with Paul!

008: Dating the LDS Temple and Priesthood Ban (Reeve)

007: Becoming a Fanboy of Orson Pratt (Dr Reeve discusses the Apostle)

006: The Black Mormon Scandals – Reeve on events inspiring the LDS priesthood/temple ban

005: How did Joseph Smith Deal with Muslims?  (and Chinese and Indians?)

004: How did Others Deal with Slavery?  Dr. Paul Reeve tells why Mormons were persecuted

003: How Mormons Became a Racial Category

Check out our conversation….