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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)

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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….

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Becoming a Fanboy of Orson Pratt (re-release)

Last year, I interviewed Dr. Paul Reeve at the University of Utah on his book Religion of a Different Color.  This is a first-time release on our Youtube channel, but a re-release on audio of our interview last year with Paul Reeve discussing an amazing event with apostle Orson Pratt.  You may have heard of his more famous brother Parley P. Pratt.  Anyway, Orson was not only opposed to Utah legalizing slavery in Utah, but supported black voting rights before the Civil War.  Listen to Paul Reeve describe these events

Matt:  We know that Pratt spoke the day before and they are in a heated debate, so how does Pratt push back?  The minutes of the legislature tell us that that afternoon of February 5th, after Brigham Young has given this very strong speech, there are two bills that are introduced that are just innocuous bills, like who cares?  It’s the Cedar City and Fillmore municipal bills where they’re just approving them as legal municipal entities, but within the bills are the voting rights for Fillmore and Cedar City.  Who gets to vote in Fillmore and Cedar City?  They stipulate that white men over 21 get to vote, and that’s par for the course for the nation in 1852.

Pratt votes against both of those bills and the minutes tell us that he does so because they don’t allow black men to vote and I believe that’s his effort at again, pushing back against Brigham Young, so Brigham Young got to have his say in the morning and this is Pratt’s way of responding.  I’m going to vote against these two municipal bills to make my point that I believe black men should be allowed to vote in Utah Territory.

GT:  To me that is absolutely astonishing because this is the year 1852.  This is pre-Civil War.

Paul:  That’s right.

GT:  I mean how did Pratt fit in with the rest of America as far as a black man should be allowed to vote because I can’t imagine that’s a popular position?

Paul:  It’s really not.  I mean there are a few people who are arguing for this, you know radical abolitionists but like I said this is just a radical minority.  To stake out that kind of position, you would be branded as a radical minority, marginalized from the mainstream.  It really is kind of a distinct position and for him to be making it in Utah Territory really is quite unique for 1852.  Not many are advocating for black suffrage in 1852.

When Brigham Young made his speech in 1852 to the Utah Legislature where he declared blacks had no right to the priesthood, and Paul says this was likely a reaction to Pratt’s speech.  This is part 5 of a 7 part series with Paul.  Check out part 1, as well as our other interviews!

 

Orson Pratt was against slavery in Utah, and for black voting rights in 1852!
Orson Pratt was against slavery in Utah, and for black voting rights in 1852!