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*Impact of Protests on Apostles (Part 7 of 7)

If you’d like to check out this episode, please sign up for my newsletter.  It’s completely free.  Go to GospelTangents.com/newsletter  to find out how the apostles reacted to these protests against BYU.

Matt:  President Kimball said in 1975. Let me get this right. If I don’t lift the ban, my successor won’t do it, nor will my successor’s successor. Of course, he’s talking about Benson and Mark Petersen. So that was President Kimball, saying very clearly if I don’t do this, they won’t. Harold Lee was just intractable. He refused to lift the ban and Joseph Fielding Smith, too. It’s interesting how people evolve because Elder Kimball, I don’t want to give you the sense that he’s a racial progressive. One of the things that his son talks about is my father shared some of the same prejudicial views towards black people that other people of his generation did. Clearly, that’s easy to believe if you realize that we’re all products of our environment, right?  But what’s unique about Kimball is not that he had prejudicial views, it’s how he evolved and that he saw that it was the right thing to do to further the advance of the church. That’s why I admire him so much is that he knew that there were obstacles. David O. McKay had the same obstacles, different personalities in the Twelve, but the same obstacles. I think I can make a strong argument that President McKay might have lifted the ban in the 1950s had it not been for some of the hardliners there. What’s different between President McKay and President Kimball, is that Kimball recognize that it was worth fighting for, it was worth going to bat for. I don’t want to say that McKay didn’t think it wasn’t worth it. But Kimball spent a lot of time nurturing relationships with the personalities that he had to work with the most, which is McConkie. I’m not sure about Petersen, how much of the one on one, but I do know with Elder McConkie, he spent extensive time with him working him through these issues. We talked about how McConkie gone to Brazil several times in the weeks and days leading up to the revelation. So when they went to the temple in June of 1978, it wasn’t like the manuals, say, “Oh, I just had a revelation one day.”  No, this is something they knew they we’re going to change when they got there. I’m not trying to take away from their revelatory experience and the inspiration of it all. But there’s no doubt in my mind that President Kimball knew the ban was going to go that day and I’m quite certain that the others knew that it was going to go, too. It was just a matter of being unified and probably feeling that last-minute inspiration that they felt they needed to have.

What are your thoughts on Matt’s research on the ban?

Dr. Matt Harris describes how Pres Kimball got the apostles on board with the 1978 revelation.  This is the group of apostles from 1969 that did not overturn the ban under President McKay when many of the protests took place.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Harris!

352: BYU Law School Almost Lost Accreditation

351: Civil Rights Investigation at BYU

350: Sports Protests Against BYU

349: Race & Religious Minorities at BYU

348: How Brazil Influenced Official Declaration 2

347: Did Nixon & Carter Pressure BYU Over Race?

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How Brazil Influenced Official Declaration 2 (Part 2 of 7)

An under-appreciated story in explaining the priesthood and temple ban was President Spencer W. Kimball’s announcement of a new temple in Brazil.  In our next conversation with Dr. Matt Harris, we’ll talk about the significant role the Brazil Temple played in changing attitudes among the apostles.

Matt:  Anyway, so when I met with Ed Kimball one long afternoon, we had dinner. When we talked and I said, “I want to share a thesis with you about your father that you didn’t write about in your book [Lengthen Your Stride.]” This thesis is this.  He’s an academic. So he knows what a thesis is. I said, “Your father wanted to lift the priesthood ban the minute he became the Church President.”

And he looked at me, his eyes got really big. And he said, “You’re right.” He said, “I wasn’t at liberty to write that.” And I said, “Well, I am.”

And anyway, I shared some of my ideas with him, that the Brazil Temple was one of the ways that he would do that. I mean, think about how ironic it is to announce the building of a temple in a nation that’s like 85% biracial. Nobody can go to the temple. Right? How crazy is that? And President Kimball had been to Brazil in the 1950s. He had apostolic, administrative oversight over Brazil. I think President McKay wanted him in Brazil. So anyway, so he’d been to Brazil. He knew the challenges of the priesthood ban there. So he’s very familiar with the people in the country. And so they announced a Temple where no one can worship.

Matt:  And anyway, so President Kimball is a masterful manager of people. In the university setting where I work in or if you study organizational behavior, this is a classic case of organizational behavior, how to deal with people, how to get them over to your position. And so, President Kimball brings him in over a period of several weeks some of the hardliners and consults with them and counsels with them. Kimball says, “We’ve got a problem in Brazil, Elder McConkie. You know that we have a new temple here. What do we do? Now this is the funny part. President Kimball knows what needs to be done. But he can’t do it without getting buy-in from the most vociferous member of the Twelve. And the most vociferous apostle opposing the ban, at least at that time. Right?

Matt:  [McConkie wrote] “Mormon Doctrine” of course where he articulates his views about the ban an African-Americans. or persons of African descent.  So he has to persuade Elder McConkie this is the right thing to do.  Elder McConkie, will be persuaded if the saints are to utilize the Brazil Temple, they have to give black men the priesthood.  That’s the short answer.  If you read Elder McConkie’s son’s memoir, Joseph Fielding McConkie writes a book about his father in 2003.  If you read the chapter on the revelation, Joseph Fielding McConkie gives the credit to his father.  “It was my father’s idea to give blacks the priesthood.”  At least that’s how I read it.  “The Brazil Temple.”  I’m thinking.  I actually chuckled when I read that chapter.  Because President Kimball knew darn well what he was doing. Elder McConkie didn’t know what was going on.

Check out our conversation….

Dr. Matt Harris claims the Brazil Temple was the key to get some apostles to change their mind about the priesthood/temple ban on blacks.

Don’t miss our previous episode with Dr. Harris!

347: Did Nixon & Carter Pressure BYU Over Race?

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Did Nixon & Carter Pressure BYU Over Race? (Part 1 of 7)

There have been lots of rumors on the internet that the reason the LDS Church got rid of the temple/priesthood ban was because they were going to lose their tax-exempt status.  Is that true?  Dr. Matt Harris from Colorado State-Pueblo will answer that question.  He will talk about both the Nixon and Carter administrations, and even include a letter from former President Jimmy Carter!

Matt:  On the internet, there are lots and lots of chatter about people saying that President Carter had instructed the IRS to crack down on the church. And I’ve seen this i`n probably, I don’t know, half dozen to a dozen places and people are so emphatic about it. [They say] Yes, he did this. One of them even went through his journal which is published and had conjectured that during President Carter’s visit to Salt Lake in 1977. That’s when he laid down the law in 1976-77.

Anyway, it’s just conjecture. That’s all it is. So anyway, I wrote President Carter a note. I asked him, “This is what it’s been said about you, that you used the IRS to crack down on the Mormons and put pressure on them to lift the priesthood ban.” And he wrote back a wonderfully written letter, and he said, “I have no recollection of ever doing that. However, I did help the Mormons with welfare and some work getting them something in Africa.” He didn’t elaborate. So President Carter said that.

GT: This is a recent letter?

Matt: This is three or four years ago.

GT: Okay.

Matt: Yeah. And I should add too, I have family in Atlanta. During one of my trips to see my brother and my sister years ago, I spent a lovely day at the Carter Library looking for these kinds of things. And there were big thick Mormon files but nothing that dealt with the IRS.

GT: It’s weird to be doing history on living people.

Matt: It is because they fight back. When they’re dead, they can’t. They don’t fight back. So it’s a challenge writing contemporary history. Because they they’re alive. They read it.

Were you aware of this?  Check out our conversation….

There are rumors Richard Nixon & Jimmy Carter pressured the LDS Church with the IRS over the race ban. Is this true?

Don’t miss our other episodes with Dr. Matt Harris!

255: Hoover on MLK & ETB

254: How Hinckley Prevailed over Benson on Civil Rights

253: The End of Benson’s Political Aspirations

252: Benson on Civil Rights & Communism

251: Benson and John Birch Society

250: How Ezra Taft Benson Joined Eisenhower

161: Bruce R. McConkie Wrote Official Declaration 2!

160: How Kimball Persuaded Apostles to Agree on Lifting Ban

159: Almost Famous!  1969 Black Ordination Nixed by Lee

158: Hugh B. Brown’s Attempt to End Ban in 1962!

157: Did Pres. McKay Try to Rescind Ban in 1955?

156: When, Where, & Why Did the One-Drop Rule Originate?

155: Before 1978:  How LDS Leaders Handled Bi-racial Families in Brazil and South Africa