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Does Mormonism Have Racist Theology? (Part 5 of 5)

As we conclude our discussion of black Mormon pioneer Jane Manning James, we will talk about this question: what role does race play in LDS Theology?  Many black church members have been told they will be white in the resurrection.  Is our theology an example of white supremacy?  Dr. Quincy Newell will answer these questions.

Quincy:  [Jane] was well respected in the community, in part because of her relationship to Joseph Smith. She was one of the last people alive, who had known him in person, and so she was sought out for her memories of the Prophet. And Joseph F. Smith spoke at her funeral. She was she was celebrated and lauded as an upstanding member of the community, well-respected and to be missed. But, at the same time, one account of the funeral said that Joseph F. Smith talked about how she would receive all of her wishes in heaven, and that she would have a white and glorified body. And that’s not an exact quote, but he did say she would be white.

And, there’s a really interesting aspect to imagining that scene. If you think about Joseph F. Smith standing in front of a congregation that includes a lot of black faces, and talking about how Jane, this respected black woman in the community is going to be white in heaven, that’s all kinds of problematic.

GT:  And I know a lot of people are going to have a hard time with that. Because they’re like, “Well, that’s not racist.”

Quincy:  No, but that’s racist.

GT:  Oh, I know it is. I know I’m going to get comments on that. But anyway, even as late as 1978, I remember President Kimball, who we all laud for this wonderful [revelation], talked about Indians who would become a white and delightsome people. And I know he said that with the best of intentions. And it’s hard, I think, especially for really Orthodox people to say that’s a racist statement. But it’s a racist statement. And so it’s hard because I know a lot of black people, Indians, whatever nationality, have had to deal with this. I hate to call it white supremacy.

Quincy:  It’s white supremacy.

GT:  But that’s what it is.

Quincy:  Yeah, it is.

GT:  And so what can we say to people to get them to understand that that really is racist theology?

Quincy:  Not being an LDS theologian, that is a challenging question for me to answer. So I think there are Mormon theologians who are far more able to address this question than I. But I guess I would start with the idea that the Bible says we are all made in God’s image. I was raised as a Protestant. And so, I think of God as beyond gender, beyond race, not having either one of those characteristics. I know for Mormons, that’s different. But I think that you have to start with the question of, why is the default image of God, an old white guy? Right?

Check out our conversation….

When we say that black people will become white in heaven, is that a form of racist theology?

Don’t miss out other conversations with Dr. Quincy Newell!

316: Jane’s Pioneer Travels to Utah

315:  Jane’s One-Of-A Kind Sealing to Joseph Smith

314: 19th Century Sexual Politics

313: Was Jane a Slave?

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More on the Zodiac Temple in Texas (Part 3 of 8)

We’re continuing our discussion of the Mormon settlement in Zodiac, Texas.  Historian Melvin Johnson describes reading the registers from RLDS Archives that document the many temple ordinances that were completed.  He also told me that there was more than one Endowment House in Utah!

GT :  Oh, 1874, so, essentially, what we’re saying here is between 1846 and 1874, at least in the LDS church, there was no temple to do this. But they would do some of these ordinances outside the temple, on a case by case basis, essentially.

Mel:   Correct, and then, of course, the Endowment House was built to be a bridge between that and when the temples came online. Orson Hyde was very jealous of that, so he had an endowment house built down in Sanpete County.

GT:   Oh, wow. I didn’t know that.

Mel:   Yeah, there were a number of them. And maybe the Endowment House was built earlier than what I think and I need to look at that…

He also discusses a recent forgery on the Zodiac Temple.

Mel:   There is a forgery called Zodiac Temple records, Rituals and Rites by John Hawley. It’s 32 pages written of these supposed rites and rituals in the Zodiac Temple. One: John Hawley was not the clerk of the temple. His brother-in-law, John Young was. And secondly, Zodiac was like Kirtland and Nauvoo and early Utah, in that all of the ritual and rites ceremony was oral. It was not written down until 1874 for the opening of the St. George temple.

Does it have ties to Mark Hofmann? Check out our conversation….

Historian Mel Johnson tells more about the Zodiac Temple in Texas and the Wightites.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Mel!

276: Lyman Wight & Mormon Colonies in Texas (Johnson)

275: Intro to Hawley (Johnson)

 

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Female Priesthood, Cutlerite Endowment, & House of Aaron (Part 6 of 8)

The LDS Church recently made changes to their temple endowment ceremony.  Rumor has it that the Cutlerite endowment has changed very little since the death of Joseph Smith.  We’ll continue our discussion about Cutlerite temple practices with Steve Shields. It appears they believe women hold priesthood in their temple ordinances!

Steve: So, that building is, in all intents and purposes, it’s a temple and it would resemble the Kirtland Temple model except Kirtland had no font. But, the upstairs room for the priesthood on the second floor, they weren’t necessarily doing rituals there, but they did some washings and anointings upstairs on the third floor in the attic level. And so, on the second floor of the Cutlerite buildings in Minnesota and Independence, that’s dedicated as a holy place. They call it the upper room work. They don’t use the term endowment. They do know what that means because we’ve talked about it with them. But, I do know. They’ve told me this, that women are ordained as high priestesses in the celestial church, not in the outer church, not in the public church. They have no priesthood in the public church.

GT: Oh, so women have a temple priesthood, but not an Ecclesiastical priesthood.

Steve: Exactly. Yeah, that’s right. That’s the extent of my knowledge about that. A few years ago when…

GT:  That’s interesting, Michael Quinn, in my current interview, just kind of said the LDS have the same thing. Jonathan Stapley said, “Well, we don’t want to call it priesthood.” But Quinn wasn’t nearly as careful on that.

Steve: Yeah. Well, I’m in the Quinn camp on that issue.

We’ll also discuss a break off from the RLDS Church called the House of Aaron.

Steve:  The House of Aaron is based at Eskdale, Utah. And they used to be called the Aaronic Order or the Order of Aaron. Morris Glendening was the founder, promoter of that. In the recent 10 or 12 years, they’ve been having lots of conversation with Fred Larsen and the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. John Conrad, who is the leader of the House of Aaron, his father was Bob Conrad, who was the chief high priest successor to Morris Glendening as chief high priest. John has gone out to Independence many times with folks their church. They’ve shifted a lot since Glendening’s times in the ’40’s. They always said they were not Mormons and yet all of their members had been Mormons.

Have you heard of the House of Aaron before?  Check out our conversation….

Steve Shields says Cutlerites have female priesthood, and we talk about House of Aaron in Eskdale, Utah
Steve Shields says Cutlerites have female priesthood, and we talk about House of Aaron in Eskdale, Utah

Don’t forget out other conversations with Steve!

238: Fundamentalists and Cutlerites (Shields)

227: Conspiracy Theories:  William Smith, Samuel Smith, James Strang(Shields)

226: Sidney’s Unsung Role in Restoration (Shields)

225: Steve’s Shields Own Divergent Path

224: Who Owns the Temple Lot? (Shields)