LDS First Presidency Directive to Segregate Blacks from Whites in Relief Society Classes . . .

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  • user warning: Table './exmo_08072012/cache_filter' is marked as crashed and should be repaired query: UPDATE cache_filter SET data = '<p>by steve benson</p>\n<p>The Mormon Church had confidence that Ezra Taft Benson [former Mormon prophet] would follow orders when it came to dealing with racial matters.<br />\nDew failed to mention that one of those “problems” had to do with Black women sitting too close to White women during Relief Society lessons.</p>\n<p>In 1940, my grandfather was appointed the first president of the newly-organized Washington [D.C.] stake. According the Sheri Dew in her Church-published biography on Ezra Taft Benson, he proved to be “forward-thinking” as he dealt with the “many and complex” problems facing the stake. (Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography [Salt Lake City, Utah: Desert Book Company, 1987), pp.157-58).</p>\n<p>In a letter to “President Ezra T. Benson, Washington [D.C.] Stake,” dated 23 June 1942, the First Presidency issued him a directive to segregate the races during Mormon class time:</p>\n<p>“Dear President Benson:</p>\n<p>“Through the General Board of the Relief Society, who reported to the Presiding Bishopric, and they to us, it comes to us that you have in the Capitol Reef Ward in Washington two colored sisters who apparently are faithful members of the Church.</p>\n<p>“The report comes to us that prior to a meeting which was to be held between the Relief Societies of the Washington Ward and the Capitol Ward, Bishop Brossard of the Washington Ward called up the President of the Relief Society of the Capitol Ward and told her that these two colored sisters should [not] be permitted to attend because the President of the Capitol Ward Relief Society failed to carry out the request made of her by the Bishop of the other ward.</p>\n<p>“We can appreciate that the situation may present a problem in Washington, but President Clark recalls that in the Catholic churches in Washington at the time he lived there, colored and white communicants used the same church at the same time. He never entered the church to see how the matter was carried out, but he knew that the facts were as stated.</p>\n<p>“From this fact we are assuming that there is not in Washington any such feeling as exists in the South where the colored people are apparently not permitted by their white brethren and sisters to come into the meeting houses and worship with them. We feel that we cannot refuse baptism to a colored person who is otherwise worthy, and we feel that we cannot refuses to permit these people to come into our meeting houses and worship once we baptize them.</p>\n<p>“It seems to us that it ought to be possible to work this situation out without causing any feelings on the part of anybody. If the white sisters feel that they may not sit with them or near them, we fell very sure that if the colored sisters were discreetly approached, they would be happy to sit at one side in the rear or somewhere where they would not wound the sensibilities of the complaining sisters. We will rely upon your tact and discretion to work this out so as not to hurt the feelings on the part of anyone.</p>\n<p>“Of course, probably each one of the sisters who can afford it, has a colored maid in her house to do the work and to do the cooking for her, and it would seem that under these circumstances they should be willing to let them sit in Church and worship with them.</p>\n<p>“Faithfully your brethren,</p>\n<p>[signed]</p>\n<p>“Heber J. Grant<br />\nJ. Reuben Clark, Jr.<br />\nDavid O. McKay”</p>\n<p>Attempting to downplay the condescending bigotry evidenced in the First Presidency’s orders to my grandfather, Mormon historian Lester Bush argued that “[i]t is, of course, no more justified to apply the social values of 1970 to this period than it was to impose them on the nineteenth century, and the point to be made is not that the Church had ‘racist’ ideas as recently as 1950. . . . On the other hand, from our present perspective it is impossible to mistake the role of values and concepts which have since been rejected in the formulation of many aspects of previous Church policy.” (Lester E. Bush, \"Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview\" [Arlington, Virginia: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought], reprint of original article in Dialogue, Vol. 8., No. 1, Spring 1973, p. 43)</p>\n<p>There is no record that Ezra Taft Benson resisted this directive from Salt Lake City.</p>\n<p>The First Presidency was apparently impressed with my grandfather’s willingness to do as he was told, however.</p>\n<p>A year later, he was called into the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.</p>\n<p>(Bush, compilation of “scattered” and incomplete “notes” on the “history of the Negro in the LDS Church,” pp. 241-42; see also, Bush, \"Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview,\" p. 43)</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Dave the Atheist<br />\nI\'d like to see the WaHoPo publish this instead of all that biased pro mormon crap that they are so fond of publishing.&nbsp;</p>\n<hr />\n<p>PapaKen<br />\nI can vouch for the two \"colored sisters\"<br />\nMy family lived in the DC area from 1930 (when my parents married) through 1961 (when we moved to Europe). So they were there when the new Washington Stake was organized.</p>\n<p>By the time I came along, they had moved out of the District to Maryland. But Mom told us of the early days when they went to church in the Capitol Reef Ward in DC.</p>\n<p>She said there were two \"colored sisters\" who came to church every week and sat alone. Hardly anyone spoke to them, and they never said a word to anyone.</p>\n<p>I recall thinking how strange that was, since their husbands couldn\'t have the priesthood, so why did they keep coming?</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Lost<br />\nRe: LDS First Presidency Directive to Segregate Blacks from Whites in Relief Society Classes . . .<br />\nI love this little piece here:</p>\n<p>\"Attempting to downplay the condescending bigotry evidenced in the First Presidency’s orders to my grandfather, Mormon historian Lester Bush argued that “[i]t is, of course, no more justified to apply the social values of 1970 to this period than it was to impose them on the nineteenth century, and the point to be made is not that the Church had ‘racist’ ideas as recently as 1950. . . . On the other hand, from our present perspective it is impossible to mistake the role of values and concepts which have since been rejected in the formulation of many aspects of previous Church policy.” (Lester E. Bush, \"Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview\" [Arlington, Virginia: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought], reprint of original article in Dialogue, Vol. 8., No. 1, Spring 1973, p. 43)\"</p>\n<p>What Lester is missing isn\'t that it was socially acceptable to be a bigot in the 40\'s &amp; 50\'s, so we shouldn\'t judge based on later time periods this bigotry, but instead that there is NO SOCIETY. THERE IS GOD. GOD supposedly COMMANDED that blacks be discriminated against by denying them the priestood! Not society, but GOD! Our righteous priestood leaders were only following God\'s will, until 1978, when he changed his mind and decided not to be a bigot anymore.</p>\n<p>How can ANYONE believe this nonsense? The church leadership was full of bigots and they chose to discriminate. Those that weren\'t bigots (few though that might be) simply went along with the program, unwilling to claim Prophet x might be wrong.<br />\nIn truth though, they are all saying JS was wrong, because he gave the priestood to several blacks. I suppose those were special black, right? A little more valiant than other black?</p>\n<p>And these concepts of bigotry have not changed. Does the LDS have a black Apostle? How many black GA\'s does church have? A handful? You\'ll NEVER have a black prophet if you don\'t have a black apostle thanks to the church\'s documented succession policy of the senior apostle AUTOMATICALLY becoming prophet. So much for the power of discernment, eh?</p>\n<p>*Snort* What a joke.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>drilldoc<br />\nI like the post, but<br />\nI understand that was pretty much the culture of the day. It was wrong, but to be a bit on their side, many whites were like that.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>WiserWomanNow<br />\nThe black women “…would be happy to sit at one side in the rear…<br />\n…or somewhere where they would not wound the sensibilities of the complaining sisters” (if asked nicely)?!?! <hahahahahahaha!></hahahahahahaha!></p>\n<p>Yeah, they should all shamefully grovel with gratitude that whites are even allowing them to be in the same room with them!</p>\n<p>But if, after being “asked” to sit away from the Whites, those two women left the church permanently instead, no doubt they would be blamed by church leaders and TBMs for having been <tsk, tsk=\"\"> “offended.”</tsk,></p>\n<hr />\nsteve benson<br />\nI put it up in the Washington Post reader commentary forum.\n<hr />\n<p>steve benson<br />\nSo the racist Mormon God was reflecting the racist culture of the day. Meaning the Mormon God was a racial bigot. Sorry, but that argument doesn\'t pass the laugh test.&nbsp;</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Heresy<br />\nMoral leadership from men who talk directly with God. Uh huh.&amp;</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Lost<br />\nI think you miss my point<br />\nThe problem though, drill doc, is that the church leaders claim they are not bigots nor were they in the past, that they were simply following God\'s commandments. HE is the bigot, in other words.</p>\n<p>That position flies directly in the face of the opinion that you can\'t judge different society time periods. Bullocks. Time period had nothing to do with it because society wasn\'t making the decision-GOD WAS.</p>\n<p>The church leadership can\'t have it both ways.</p>\n<p>How was the bigotry ended? GOD took it away when SWK got the revelation in 1978.</p>\n<p>Sorry, I\'m not buying the society argument to excuse mormon bigotry. Either MAN was making the decisions or GOD was.</p>\n<p>So their position should be that GOD made them do it. To say now it was man in the past who made that decision and its ok because that was the position of society at that time is LAUGHABLE. They just outed themselves by admiting that there is no god in their church making decisions.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>darth jesus<br />\nRe: LDS First Presidency Directive to Segregate Blacks from Whites in Relief Society Classes . . .<br />\ndoes anybody have a copy of the awesome research paper</p>\n<p>\"the black hammer: a study of black power, red influence, and white alternatives\" by andrews and dalton ??</p>\n<p>it has an inspirational introduction by benson our beloved prophet, seer and revelator.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>Can\'t Resist<br />\nRe: LDS First Presidency Directive to Segregate Blacks from Whites in Relief Society Classes . . .<br />\nFor years before finally calling it quits, I had an aversion to admitting to non-members that I was LDS. In fact, I would even dodge the where-are-you-orignially-from questions because of the inevitable follow-up questions.</p>\n<p>The truth was that I was humiliated to be a member of such an intransigent and anachronistic organization.</p>\n<p>If the prophet is a prophet, then shouldn\'t Mormons be on the cutting edge of so many socially and economically progressive issues- race, women, gays, environment, war, poverty, child-labor, human trafficking, etc.? Rather, it seems that there is a conscious decision and effort to desperately maintain the status quo of 1905.</p>\n<p>It\'s so sad that the LDS church has the money and the manpower and the good-will of the people. So many great things could come from the organization if the will was there.</p>\n<p>Unfortunately, the Mormon prophet is ALWAYS late to the party.</p>\n<hr />\ndarth jesus<br />\nRe: LDS First Presidency Directive to Segregate Blacks from Whites in Relief Society Classes . . .<br />\nwait...\n<p>oh my...(covering mouth)</p>\n<p>are you, are you saying that the lds church might all bullshit?</p>\n<hr />\nCan\'t Resist<br />\nPretty much...<br />\n...still reeling with the realization and shock.\n<p>Thanks.</p>\n<p>steve benson<br />\nAnd keep in mind that past official Mormon racism was the \"modern revelation\" of its day.</p>\n<hr />\n<p>steve benson<br />\nI have a copy in my possession . . .<br />\nThe cover of the \"Black Hammer\" book showed the thick-lipped, lowed-browed, decapitated, bleeding head of a Black man superimposed upon the symbol of the Communist hammer and sickle.</p>\n<p>(Ezra Taft Benson, “Trade and Treason,” reprinted in condensed form as foreword in \"The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives,\" by Wes Andres and Clyde Dalton [Oakland, California: Desco Press, 1967], pp. 13-23; see also, D. Michael Quinn, \"The Mormon Hierarcny: Extensions of Power,\" pp. 98-99)<br />\n_____</p>\n<p>Here\'s a photo of that gruesomely horrific cover, with my grandfather\'s \"foreword\" name attached:</p>\n<p><a href=\"http://progressivemormon.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/the_black_hammer.gif\" title=\"http://progressivemormon.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/the_black_hammer.gif\">http://progressivemormon.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/the_black_hammer...</a></p>\n<hr />\nsuckafoo<br />\nRe: LDS First Presidency Directive to Segregate Blacks from Whites in Relief Society Classes . . .<br />\nThe argument made that many churches were prejudice isn\'t a good argument. Mormons claim God told them that you could not receive the priesthood if you had a drop of Cain\'s blood in you. That is the important item in the whole discussion. It ruins everything if the prophet speaks for God wrongly. It means now that the prophet can mistake what he heard God tell him and then throws into question which items are by mistake and which items are from God\'s mouth to a prophet\'s ear. It ruins the whole premise and crumbles its foundation. It means if the prophet speaks then the thinkin hasn\'t really been thunk.\n<hr />\n<p>Lost<br />\nRe: And keep in mind that past official Mormon racism was the \"modern revelation\" of its day.</p>\n<p>Precisely! *snort*</p>\n<p>\"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org\"</p>\n', created = 1490772361, expire = 1490858761, headers = '', serialized = 0 WHERE cid = '2:bd2b8aac78fba8e48602942b4d146cb1' in /home/exmormon/public_html/d6/drupal/includes/cache.inc on line 112.

by steve benson

The Mormon Church had confidence that Ezra Taft Benson [former Mormon prophet] would follow orders when it came to dealing with racial matters.
Dew failed to mention that one of those “problems” had to do with Black women sitting too close to White women during Relief Society lessons.

In 1940, my grandfather was appointed the first president of the newly-organized Washington [D.C.] stake. According the Sheri Dew in her Church-published biography on Ezra Taft Benson, he proved to be “forward-thinking” as he dealt with the “many and complex” problems facing the stake. (Sheri L. Dew, Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography [Salt Lake City, Utah: Desert Book Company, 1987), pp.157-58).

In a letter to “President Ezra T. Benson, Washington [D.C.] Stake,” dated 23 June 1942, the First Presidency issued him a directive to segregate the races during Mormon class time:

“Dear President Benson:

“Through the General Board of the Relief Society, who reported to the Presiding Bishopric, and they to us, it comes to us that you have in the Capitol Reef Ward in Washington two colored sisters who apparently are faithful members of the Church.

“The report comes to us that prior to a meeting which was to be held between the Relief Societies of the Washington Ward and the Capitol Ward, Bishop Brossard of the Washington Ward called up the President of the Relief Society of the Capitol Ward and told her that these two colored sisters should [not] be permitted to attend because the President of the Capitol Ward Relief Society failed to carry out the request made of her by the Bishop of the other ward.

“We can appreciate that the situation may present a problem in Washington, but President Clark recalls that in the Catholic churches in Washington at the time he lived there, colored and white communicants used the same church at the same time. He never entered the church to see how the matter was carried out, but he knew that the facts were as stated.

“From this fact we are assuming that there is not in Washington any such feeling as exists in the South where the colored people are apparently not permitted by their white brethren and sisters to come into the meeting houses and worship with them. We feel that we cannot refuse baptism to a colored person who is otherwise worthy, and we feel that we cannot refuses to permit these people to come into our meeting houses and worship once we baptize them.

“It seems to us that it ought to be possible to work this situation out without causing any feelings on the part of anybody. If the white sisters feel that they may not sit with them or near them, we fell very sure that if the colored sisters were discreetly approached, they would be happy to sit at one side in the rear or somewhere where they would not wound the sensibilities of the complaining sisters. We will rely upon your tact and discretion to work this out so as not to hurt the feelings on the part of anyone.

“Of course, probably each one of the sisters who can afford it, has a colored maid in her house to do the work and to do the cooking for her, and it would seem that under these circumstances they should be willing to let them sit in Church and worship with them.

“Faithfully your brethren,

[signed]

“Heber J. Grant
J. Reuben Clark, Jr.
David O. McKay”

Attempting to downplay the condescending bigotry evidenced in the First Presidency’s orders to my grandfather, Mormon historian Lester Bush argued that “[i]t is, of course, no more justified to apply the social values of 1970 to this period than it was to impose them on the nineteenth century, and the point to be made is not that the Church had ‘racist’ ideas as recently as 1950. . . . On the other hand, from our present perspective it is impossible to mistake the role of values and concepts which have since been rejected in the formulation of many aspects of previous Church policy.” (Lester E. Bush, "Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview" [Arlington, Virginia: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought], reprint of original article in Dialogue, Vol. 8., No. 1, Spring 1973, p. 43)

There is no record that Ezra Taft Benson resisted this directive from Salt Lake City.

The First Presidency was apparently impressed with my grandfather’s willingness to do as he was told, however.

A year later, he was called into the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

(Bush, compilation of “scattered” and incomplete “notes” on the “history of the Negro in the LDS Church,” pp. 241-42; see also, Bush, "Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview," p. 43)


Dave the Atheist
I'd like to see the WaHoPo publish this instead of all that biased pro mormon crap that they are so fond of publishing. 


PapaKen
I can vouch for the two "colored sisters"
My family lived in the DC area from 1930 (when my parents married) through 1961 (when we moved to Europe). So they were there when the new Washington Stake was organized.

By the time I came along, they had moved out of the District to Maryland. But Mom told us of the early days when they went to church in the Capitol Reef Ward in DC.

She said there were two "colored sisters" who came to church every week and sat alone. Hardly anyone spoke to them, and they never said a word to anyone.

I recall thinking how strange that was, since their husbands couldn't have the priesthood, so why did they keep coming?


Lost
Re: LDS First Presidency Directive to Segregate Blacks from Whites in Relief Society Classes . . .
I love this little piece here:

"Attempting to downplay the condescending bigotry evidenced in the First Presidency’s orders to my grandfather, Mormon historian Lester Bush argued that “[i]t is, of course, no more justified to apply the social values of 1970 to this period than it was to impose them on the nineteenth century, and the point to be made is not that the Church had ‘racist’ ideas as recently as 1950. . . . On the other hand, from our present perspective it is impossible to mistake the role of values and concepts which have since been rejected in the formulation of many aspects of previous Church policy.” (Lester E. Bush, "Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview" [Arlington, Virginia: Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought], reprint of original article in Dialogue, Vol. 8., No. 1, Spring 1973, p. 43)"

What Lester is missing isn't that it was socially acceptable to be a bigot in the 40's & 50's, so we shouldn't judge based on later time periods this bigotry, but instead that there is NO SOCIETY. THERE IS GOD. GOD supposedly COMMANDED that blacks be discriminated against by denying them the priestood! Not society, but GOD! Our righteous priestood leaders were only following God's will, until 1978, when he changed his mind and decided not to be a bigot anymore.

How can ANYONE believe this nonsense? The church leadership was full of bigots and they chose to discriminate. Those that weren't bigots (few though that might be) simply went along with the program, unwilling to claim Prophet x might be wrong.
In truth though, they are all saying JS was wrong, because he gave the priestood to several blacks. I suppose those were special black, right? A little more valiant than other black?

And these concepts of bigotry have not changed. Does the LDS have a black Apostle? How many black GA's does church have? A handful? You'll NEVER have a black prophet if you don't have a black apostle thanks to the church's documented succession policy of the senior apostle AUTOMATICALLY becoming prophet. So much for the power of discernment, eh?

*Snort* What a joke.


drilldoc
I like the post, but
I understand that was pretty much the culture of the day. It was wrong, but to be a bit on their side, many whites were like that.


WiserWomanNow
The black women “…would be happy to sit at one side in the rear…
…or somewhere where they would not wound the sensibilities of the complaining sisters” (if asked nicely)?!?!

Yeah, they should all shamefully grovel with gratitude that whites are even allowing them to be in the same room with them!

But if, after being “asked” to sit away from the Whites, those two women left the church permanently instead, no doubt they would be blamed by church leaders and TBMs for having been “offended.”


steve benson
I put it up in the Washington Post reader commentary forum.

steve benson
So the racist Mormon God was reflecting the racist culture of the day. Meaning the Mormon God was a racial bigot. Sorry, but that argument doesn't pass the laugh test. 


Heresy
Moral leadership from men who talk directly with God. Uh huh.&


Lost
I think you miss my point
The problem though, drill doc, is that the church leaders claim they are not bigots nor were they in the past, that they were simply following God's commandments. HE is the bigot, in other words.

That position flies directly in the face of the opinion that you can't judge different society time periods. Bullocks. Time period had nothing to do with it because society wasn't making the decision-GOD WAS.

The church leadership can't have it both ways.

How was the bigotry ended? GOD took it away when SWK got the revelation in 1978.

Sorry, I'm not buying the society argument to excuse mormon bigotry. Either MAN was making the decisions or GOD was.

So their position should be that GOD made them do it. To say now it was man in the past who made that decision and its ok because that was the position of society at that time is LAUGHABLE. They just outed themselves by admiting that there is no god in their church making decisions.


darth jesus
Re: LDS First Presidency Directive to Segregate Blacks from Whites in Relief Society Classes . . .
does anybody have a copy of the awesome research paper

"the black hammer: a study of black power, red influence, and white alternatives" by andrews and dalton ??

it has an inspirational introduction by benson our beloved prophet, seer and revelator.


Can't Resist
Re: LDS First Presidency Directive to Segregate Blacks from Whites in Relief Society Classes . . .
For years before finally calling it quits, I had an aversion to admitting to non-members that I was LDS. In fact, I would even dodge the where-are-you-orignially-from questions because of the inevitable follow-up questions.

The truth was that I was humiliated to be a member of such an intransigent and anachronistic organization.

If the prophet is a prophet, then shouldn't Mormons be on the cutting edge of so many socially and economically progressive issues- race, women, gays, environment, war, poverty, child-labor, human trafficking, etc.? Rather, it seems that there is a conscious decision and effort to desperately maintain the status quo of 1905.

It's so sad that the LDS church has the money and the manpower and the good-will of the people. So many great things could come from the organization if the will was there.

Unfortunately, the Mormon prophet is ALWAYS late to the party.


darth jesus
Re: LDS First Presidency Directive to Segregate Blacks from Whites in Relief Society Classes . . .
wait...

oh my...(covering mouth)

are you, are you saying that the lds church might all bullshit?


Can't Resist
Pretty much...
...still reeling with the realization and shock.

Thanks.

steve benson
And keep in mind that past official Mormon racism was the "modern revelation" of its day.


steve benson
I have a copy in my possession . . .
The cover of the "Black Hammer" book showed the thick-lipped, lowed-browed, decapitated, bleeding head of a Black man superimposed upon the symbol of the Communist hammer and sickle.

(Ezra Taft Benson, “Trade and Treason,” reprinted in condensed form as foreword in "The Black Hammer: A Study of Black Power, Red Influence and White Alternatives," by Wes Andres and Clyde Dalton [Oakland, California: Desco Press, 1967], pp. 13-23; see also, D. Michael Quinn, "The Mormon Hierarcny: Extensions of Power," pp. 98-99)
_____

Here's a photo of that gruesomely horrific cover, with my grandfather's "foreword" name attached:

http://progressivemormon.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/the_black_hammer...


suckafoo
Re: LDS First Presidency Directive to Segregate Blacks from Whites in Relief Society Classes . . .
The argument made that many churches were prejudice isn't a good argument. Mormons claim God told them that you could not receive the priesthood if you had a drop of Cain's blood in you. That is the important item in the whole discussion. It ruins everything if the prophet speaks for God wrongly. It means now that the prophet can mistake what he heard God tell him and then throws into question which items are by mistake and which items are from God's mouth to a prophet's ear. It ruins the whole premise and crumbles its foundation. It means if the prophet speaks then the thinkin hasn't really been thunk.

Lost
Re: And keep in mind that past official Mormon racism was the "modern revelation" of its day.

Precisely! *snort*

"Recovery from Mormonism - www.exmormon.org"