It’s time to conclude #BlackHistoryMonth, and here’s my latest conversation with Dr. Paul Reeve! In recent years the LDS Church has published a series of essays with a goal of giving Latter-day Saints good information regarding many aspects of LDS History. These essays are well footnoted, and seem to have been written by historians. I asked Paul if he helped craft the essay and he said that he played a major role in crafting the essay. Please listen to him describe his role. I think this is quite a scoop!
I also asked Paul to talk about race issues in our day, including the ban on children of gay parents and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing at President Trump’s recent inauguration. He was very candid in his opinions and I’m sure you’ll enjoy listening to this interview!
We’ve been talking a lot about the ban, but when did the ban actually begin? Warner McCary seems to be the last person who might have been ordained as late as 1846. Apostle Parley P. Pratt privately said blacks were cursed with regards to priesthood, and Brigham Young spoke forcefully that blacks were cursed in an 1852 address to the Utah Legislature. However, in 1879, church leaders didn’t know how to respond to Elijah Abel’s request to be sealed to his wife in the temple, and as late as 1921, Apostle David O. McKay didn’t even know that a ban existed. When did the ban actually happen? We asked Dr. Paul Reeve that question. Let’s listen in on our conversation…. (You can get a transcript here on our website, or at Amazon.com!)
With the last-lasting priesthood and temple ban that ended in 1978, Mormons have a poor record with regards to race relations. I talked about reasons why Brigham Young changed from support of ordination of blacks to opposition my last episode, but Apostle Orson Pratt is a bright spot in Mormon history given his vocal support for black civil and voting rights. Slavery was legalized in Utah in 1852 because of support by Mormon prophet Brigham Young. However, his apostle/legislator Orson Pratt not only went on record to oppose slavery, but was a proponent of black voting rights! Dr. Paul Reeve of the University of Utah describes his findings of recently discovered speeches of the 1852 Utah Territorial Legislative session. My mind was blown to learn that a decade prior to the Civil War, Pratt was a proponent of voting rights for African Americans, and said “angels will blush” if Utah passed the slavery bill. Please listen in! You can get a transcript here, or at Amazon. (There will be no video of this episode due to camera problems.)
In March 1847, Brigham Young was quoted as being favorably aware of Q. Walker Lewis, a black Elder in the LDS Church in Boston. But in February 1852, he is quoted as saying that black men will never hold the priesthood. What caused this remarkable change in Brigham Young? Listen in to find out! Click here if you’d like a transcript, or you can get one at Amazon too!
Mormons are familiar with stories of persecutions in Missouri back in the 1830s. Why were Mormons so persecuted? It turns out that the people of Missouri were concerned that Mormons were trying to start a Slave Rebellion. On the other hand, Joseph Smith was known to be against the abolitionist movement. Could both positions be true? We asked these questions to Dr. Paul Reeve of the University of Utah and he gives his answers which may surprise you. Here are a few excerpts from my interview with Paul.
In today’s world, Mormonism is seen as a predominantly white church, but in Joseph Smith’s day, it was perceived as just the opposite. Mormons were considered so different back then that many scientists and doctors thought a new race was coming from the Great Basin Kingdom. How did outsiders get such strange ideas? Dr. Paul Reeve, professor of history at the University of Utah will help us answer that question.