SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – Comments made by a BYU Theology professor opening up old wounds about the LDS church’s policy on African Americans and priesthood.
It was June 9th, 1978 when LDS President Spencer Kimball announced the church was opening its priesthood ranks to all worthy men. Some 30 years later the question why the church denied African Americans priesthood once again taking center stage because a Mormon is running for President.
During an interview with The Washington Post BYU Professor Randy Bott’s explains the denial of priesthood to blacks as saving them from “the lowest rungs of hell reserved for people who abuse their priesthood powers.”
Bott quoted as saying, "You couldn't fall off the top of the ladder because you weren't on the top of the ladder. So, in reality the blacks not having the priesthood was the greatest blessing god could give them."
Don Harwell is the president of the Genesis group for African American Mormons. “How do people come up with this stuff?” asked Harwell. "I get confused and a little discouraged that people still think this way."
Even more disappointing to Harwell is Bott had served in local leadership positions within the church such as a bishop, high councilor and mission president.
Harwell said, "I have yet to read in the scriptures that says the Lord denied us the priesthood. I could be wrong but I read my scriptures every night."
The LDS church had no comment on Bott’s recent interview, but LDS apostle Jeffrey Holland had this to say during an interview with PBS in 2006. "We simply do not know why that practice, that policy, that doctrine was in place,” said Holland.
This much is clear to Harwell. "If it was a commandment believe me it would be written down there would be no mistaking it.”