Periodicals; Mormons; Religious thought; Philosophy and religion
Independent national quarterly established to express Mormon culture and examine the relevance of religion to secular life. It is edited by Mormons who wish to bring their faith into dialogue with human experience as a whole and to foster artistic and scholarly achievement based on their cultural heritage. The journal encourages a variety of viewpoints; although every effort is made to insure accurate scholarship and responsible judgment, the views expressed are those of the individual authors and are not necessarily those of the Mormon Church or of the editors.
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Mormonism's Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview
MORMONISM'S NEGRO DOCTRINE: AN HISTORICAL OVERVIEW Lester E. Bush, Jr. Negroes of African descent presently are denied ordination to the priesthood in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the following article Lester E. Bush, Jr. discusses the genesis and development of that practice within the Restored Church through an examination of historical materials. Dialogue is impressed with the thoroughness of Mr. Bush's study and the responsibility with which he tries to interpret the materials to which he had access. Even though, as Bush states, the complete study of this subject is yet to be done, this article is an important beginning toward such a definitive study. In keeping with Dialogue's commitment to dialogue, we have invited three individuals to respond to Mr. Bush's article from various perspectives. Gordon Thomasson discusses some of the historical questions raised by Bush; Hugh Nibley gives a scriptural and personal response; and Eugene England gives his own theological interpretation of Bush's findings. Each of these statements suggests areas for further study and together they reveal that there is still considerable research and thinking to be done before we have a complete picture of this sensitive matter, if indeed such a picture is possible. While some may question whether a discussion such as this is appropriate, Hugh Nibley reminds us that research and thinking are a necessary prelude to spiritual knowledge and confirmation, that we are to "exercise [ourj own wits to the fullest, so that there must be place for the fullest discussion and explanation in the light of the Scriptures or any other relevant information." I . . . So long as we have no special rule in the Church, as to people of color, let prudence guide, and while they, as well as we, are in the hands of a merciful God, we say: Shun every appearance of evil. W. W. Phelps, 1833 There once was a time, albeit brief, when a "Negro problem" did not exist for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During those early months in New York and Ohio no mention was even made of Church attitudes towards blacks. The Gospel was for "all nations, kindreds, tongues and peoples,"1 and no exceptions were made. A Negro, "Black Pete," was among the first converts in Ohio, and his story was prominently reported in the local press.2 W. W. Phelps opened a mission to Missouri in July, 1831, and preached to "all the families of the earth," specifically mentioning Negroes among his first audi-