Mr. Cope's Cave: Mormon Tabernacle Choirboys

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Those who pay close attention to what LDS leadership is up to will have noticed that somebody down in Salt Lake City has finally come out—just 48 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation—and agreed that black people are not inferior to white people.

Quoth the LDS website: “The Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a pre-mortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else.”

Ah, bless you, Bishop Whomever. I’m certain there’ll be dancing in the streets of Chicago and Atlanta when this gets around. And isn’t it comforting to know there are still people around who don’t leap rashly into moral positions just because it’s the right thing to do?

Now to be entirely fair, back in 1978—only 13 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and 115 years after the Emancipation Proclamation—the boys down in the big temple had themselves what they termed a “revelation,” which somehow countermanded an earlier revelation of none other than Brigham Young. (If you’re unsure who Brigham Young was, Google “Mormon Trek West” and cross-reference with “Grasshoppers vs. Sea Gulls” and “Mountain Meadows Massacre.”)

You see, back in 1852, ol’ Brigham issued a church prohibition that denied black men any clerical roles in the church on the grounds that they were spiritually deficient. (It almost goes without saying that this specific prohibition had no need to include black women, considering that in regards to the priesthood, to this day it matters not what color a woman is, because even the white ones ain’t getting through that glass ceiling.)

However, in '78, the church reversed Brigham’s dictum and decided to allow blacks (men) into the clergy. We can only imagine that the Mormon leadership at the time was responding to the pleas of many, many, many African-American men who would not rest until they were allowed into the LDS priesthood, for why else would they undo what one of the loftiest of Mormon Patriarchs had decreed?

We must also image all those African-American men who would not rest until they were allowed into the priesthood, as there was no evidence then, nor is there now, that brothers were flocking to become Mormons. In fact, even in 1978, there were those cynical souls who suspected that the only reason the church made any concessions to civil rights at all was that they figured out that BYU would never win another basketball game until they did.

But let us not niggle-naggle over why Mormons do what Mormons do. Is it not enough that in 1978, they did reverse ol’ Fatha' Young’s pre-Klan Jim Crowism and welcomed blacks (men) into the brotherhood of whatever it is that Brigham didn’t want them a part of to start with?

And is it not even better that 35 years later—a week or so ago and a mere 48 years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 and 150 years after the Emancipation Proclamation—they finally made it whole-hog official... that black people are not inferior to white people?

And is this not wondrous news for gay people, that if the pattern persists, they only have somewhere from 48 years to 150 years to wait before they can take their rightful place in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can take its rightful place in the 21st century?

Or 22nd Century... whichever?

And dare we dream that one day, women will be... no, no... that would be too much to hope for, I guess, that these elders would leap rashly into another moral position, just because it’s the right thing to do.