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Did Pres. McKay Try to Rescind Ban in 1955?

We’re continuing our conversation with Dr. Matt Harris.  In our next episode, we’ll talk about the temple and priesthood ban in the 1950s.  Did you know that McKay considered lifting the ban as early as 1955?

Matt:  It’s not surprising that when McKay came back from South Africa and convenes this committee with Elders [Adam] Bennion and Kimball, I’m not sure who else is on the committee, but I know it’s those two.  They ask Lowell Bennion to do some research for them, and he produces a position paper, and he says there is no scriptural justification for any of this stuff.  So, Elder Bennion writes his report to President McKay and tells him that there is no scriptural justification for the priesthood ban.  This is 1954 I should say.

So, President McKay contemplates lifting the ban, but he recognizes that it will cause hardship among the saints in the South.  Keep in mind this is still segregated America.  So, if he lifts this ban, it is going to create hardships among Latter-day Saints in the South.  Also, there are some folks in the Quorum of Twelve who wouldn’t support the lifting of the ban:  Joseph Fielding Smith would be one of them.

We will talk about a pretty significant change from a doctrine in 1949 to a policy in 1955.

This is interesting because President McKay, as a counselor to George Albert Smith had signed that 1949 First Presidency statement that you referenced a minute ago….

GT:  Right.

Matt:  …as a counselor.

GT:  Now let’s talk about that ’49 statement.

Matt:  Yes, we can.  So, as the church president, he signed that statement, and we can go into detail in a minute, but that statement makes it pretty clear that this is the doctrine of the church.

GT:  And it uses the word “doctrine.”

Matt:  It uses the word doctrine.

GT:  That is an important word.

Matt:  Right.  J. Reuben Clark writes the statement, and President McKay signs off on it. George Albert Smith is feeble by this point, and he is going to die a couple of years later, but anyway, President McKay, even though he signs that ’49 statement, now he is the church president and he feels the weight of this policy on his own.

President McKay considered lifting the ban in 1955 but was worried about reaction in the South.
President McKay considered lifting the ban in 1955 but was worried about reaction in the South.

 

Check out our conversation…..  Don’t forget to check out parts 1 (about Brazil & South Africa) and 2 (the one-drop rule) of this conversation!

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Rival Mission Presidents in Germany

The Mormon Church is very well known for having a very well-organized institution. It wasn’t always the case though. It turns out that J. Reuben Clark and David O. McKay called a mission president to Berlin, while President Grant who was in Europe at the time called a different man to be mission president. Both mission presidents arrived in Berlin. What happens next? Dr. David Nelson tells a very interesting story about rival mission presidents in the Berlin, Germany mission.

David:  Heber J. Grant was in Germany.  What he was doing is he was celebrating 100 years of Mormonism in Europe, so he is on a 3 month tour of Germany, the prophet, seer, and revelator, Heber J. Grant.  He comes to Bern, Switzerland where the mission home is for what was known as then, the Swiss-German mission, later on became the West German mission.  He stays with Swiss-German mission, Philemon Kelly, who was a kindly man, a doctor from Idaho, a physician, medical doctor.  Sometime during stay, Pres Grant goes to Pres. Kelly and says, “How you like to be the mission president in Berlin?”

That’s a plum assignment.  Philemon Kelly [said], “I’ll take it.”  He packed up and he’s gone.

At same time while President Grant is gone from Salt Lake City, David O. McKay and J. Reuben Clark are calling Albert C. Rees to be the mission president in Berlin, the same city.  The newspapers in Salt Lake City give goodbye editorials to Alfred C. Rees because he’s one of them.  He’s part of the newspaper industry there.  There’s no doubt he is going to Berlin, but when he gets to Berlin he finds Philemon Kelly and his wife already installed in the mission home in the Tiergarten and Kelly won’t give it up.

In my book I write for a month or a month and a half, these two guys are competing.  No way Rees could turn around and take the consolation prize in Frankfurt, so he goes and rents a home, which the mission has to pay for, down the street and we have rival mission presidents in Berlin for this period of time.

Who won?  You’ll have to listen to find out!  Dr. Nelson also discusses some LDS interactions with Adolph Hitler.

David:  You had a situation that happened there where some 900 German adolescent girls, not Mormons, but 900 adolescent girls came home from rally pregnant, unmarried girls ages 14-17.  There was an investigation.  In 400 cases they could not determine who father was because girl had multiple sexual partners.  This caused a stir and quite a bit of controversy in a police state.  You don’t raise a lot of heck in Nazi Germany.  You don’t go around screaming to people to supervise these kids better because you don’t scream at anybody in that type of a situation.

Elizabeth Welker writes letter to Gertrud Schultz-Klink and expresses some worries about that.  A couple of Klink’s assistants get in touch with her and agree to let her tour some youth camps, so she can see for herself the level of discipline enforced, and level of supervision at youth camps.  One of these trips, Shultz-Klink is in the limousine with Adolph Hitler because Adolph Hitler is going out to see the camps himself.  Shultz-Klink gets picked up, and she is in the same car with Hitler.  They go out there and they inspect this camp.  There were a couple of other times under Schultz-Klink’s underlings came out at took her to other took to other youth meetings.  In the end Elizabeth Welker is just absolutely bamboozled, and believes German adolescent girls are the best teenage girls in world, and they are being led better than anybody else, certainly a lot better than our permissive situation in the United States.

Welker writes an article on the moral status of German girls in the Improvement Era!  Check out our conversation…..