Mormons often refer to the temple as the “University of the Lord.” In Doctrine and Covenants 88:119, it says the temple is to be a “house of learning, a house of faith.” Did you know that the original Kirtland Temple was envisioned to be more of as a real school than a temple? Dr. Mark Staker, an LDS Anthropologist at the Church History Library tells us more about the evolution of the Kirtland School into the Kirtland Temple. Check out the video below, the audio above, or you can get a transcript here or on Amazon!
This is not your typical polygamy conversation. How did polygamy get started in the LDS Church? Dr. Mark Staker has a very interesting theory: he thinks it was started by a former slave, Black Pete, who joined the Mormon community in 1830. I talked about Black Pete in Part 1 and Part 2 of my discussion with Staker, an LDS Anthropologist, and Staker also makes the case that Oliver Cowdery, not Joseph Smith, wrote the Declaration on Marriage that was replaced by D&C 132 in the Doctrine & Covenants. With the LDS Church’s stance on monogamy being God’s standard, does Staker believe that this de-canonized revelation could be re-canonized? Check out the audio above, video below, or transcript (also on Amazon) to find out! You’ll learn a lot about polygamy the foundations of polygamy in this episode!
Here’s a few interesting quotes from the podcast:
GT: So wait a minute. You’re telling me that Black Pete may have been responsible for introducing polygamy into the Kirtland community?
Mark: I believe so, and I believe that’s why often we say well Joseph Smith was translating the Bible and he wants to know about Abraham and his wives, Isaac and Jacob and their wives and so he asks that.
Who authored the Declaration on Marriage?
Brigham Young believed it was all Oliver Cowdery. Did he know all the details? Scholars have disputed that but some of them have accepted his declaration. I tend to believe that Brigham Young did know enough about those details that he was right that Oliver Cowdery had played the principal if not the sole role in getting that material included.
It may be surprising to many to discover that a man known in Mormon journals as Black Pete served a mission for the LDS Church in 1831. (Back then, it was known simply as the “Church of Christ.”) Dr. Staker notes,
Black Pete is one of these individuals that goes out preaching. He joins three other individuals and they all go out as a group of four. They’re very interested in religious enthusiasm. That might be what ties them together, but what this also suggests is that since those that we know about were ordained elders such as John Murdock, it could be that Black Pete had been ordained an elder as well to go out and he’s assigned to preach just like these others are assigned to go out and preach.
In this episode, we’ll discuss his visits from a black angel, and some of the unusual religious practices he imprinted on Mormonism. We’ve already mentioned that he started speaking in tongues in Part 1 of our conversation, but in this episode, we’ll learn that Joseph Smith tamps down on these religious practices. However, missionaries from Kirtland convert Brigham Young, who re-introduces the practice of speaking in tongues in Kirtland! Pete also attempts to marry within the predominantly white community of Kirtland. Staker notes that interracial marriage in 1831
would be national news, and it did happen occasionally. It ended up in the national papers that someone married a black person, but Emma’s aunt had done exactly that.
GT: Emma Smith?
Mark: Emma Smith’s aunt Diantha Hale had married a Joseph Wallace, a black man.
GT: Oh I did not know that.
Mark: Nobody did. They kept it quiet. By law they had to announce it in the newspaper, the marriage, but they didn’t mention race in that official announcement.
Please listen here! Here’s a link to a transcript (also on Amazon). Check out the video.