Curse of Ham Taught by LDS After 1978

A recent media blowup happened when a BYU professor, Randy L. Bott told the Washington Post that the priesthood ban was justified because black people inherited the cur of Ham through descent from Aegyptus. To this non-controversial claim, the LDS church put out a statement that, as usual, does not comment on whether black skin originates with the curse of Ham. It is also silent on whether this was the cause of the priesthood ban. Yet it is perfectly suited to cast that impression.

Rather than addressing the topic outright, it begins by insisted that BYU professors are not supposed to speak for the Church and complains of the Church not being given the chance to define its own teachings (though there is no evidence that Bott claimed to speak for the Church). It then denies racism, but this is a neutral point since racism has a variety of definitions, including many that were rejected by the LDS Church even while the priesthood ban was in effect.

Then follows a paragraph that will undoubtedly be quoted my Mormon apologists for years to come as evidence that the curse of Ham is not a doctrine:

For a time in the Church there was a restriction on the priesthood for male members of African descent. It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began in the Church but what is clear is that it ended decades ago. Some have attempted to explain the reason for this restriction but these attempts should be viewed as speculation and opinion, not doctrine. The Church is not bound by speculation or opinions given with limited understanding.

Eagerness to find in these words an actual repudiation of traditional LDS teaching might lead the reader to overlook its evident vagueness. The question is not “Do we know precisely why or when the ban began?” The question at issue is “Was it passed down through the lineage of Ham?” After all, even an old-school Mormon could easily admit ignorance of when or why the curse of Ham required the Church to restrict the priesthood without deying that the curse of Ham is the cause. The text only admits that Momrons who affirmed the curse doctrine did so without an adequate account. It says they had “limited understanding,” not that they were in error.

A person who believes the curse of Ham was the source of the priesthood ban could therefore assent to the press release as written. If Mormons leaders really want do repudiate that teaching, why must they always be so vague? Do these inspired men not know how to communicate? If the LDS Church wants to uncouple itself from its past teachings they have to answer the question about Ham, but that is something General Authorities never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever answer.

Unless they are Bruce McConkie.

It will be remembered, that McConkie defended the priesthood ban staunchly right up until 1978, but then advised Church members to disregard anything he or others had said before, speaking in ignorance, that was contradicted by the present revelation. To many Mormons, this indicates that McConkie reversed his whole position. What they do not notice is that McConkie did not specify just what it is in past LDS teaching that the revelation contradicted, and a close reading of the Official Declaration 2 shows that it only contradicts the claim, vigorously defended by McConkie, that the priesthood ban would not be lifted until after the resurrection. It is silent on every other point.

McConkie realized this, as can be show from his book Mormon Doctrine. Mormons often will point out that Mormon Doctrine was written before McConkie was an Apostle, that the first edition got criticism from the Church’s leaders. That is 99.99% true. But there is a leftover .01%. The second edition of Mormon Doctrine that most people are familiar with is actually the third edition, that is, a slightly revised second edition completed in 1979, when McConkie was an Apostle, to be sold in paperback. Preparing the paperback after after OD2, McConkie made a few revisions to his text, which include the following:

Through Ham (a name meaning black) “the blood of the Canaanites was preserved” through the flood, he having married Egyptus, a descendant of Cain. (Abra. 1:20-27.) Ham was cursed, apparently for marrying into the forbidden lineage, and the effects of the curse passed on to his son, Canaan. (Gen. 9:25.) Ham’s descendants include the Negroes, who originally were barred from holding the priesthood but have been able to do so since June, 1978.

This is the only text of know it since OD2 in which a Mormon General Authority has actually dealt with the question of Ham, rather than merely seeming to, and here the Apostle affirms it, seeing no contradiction between it and the revelation of the previous year.

The professors only is teaching to the press what he was taught, and what he has taught to countless students. Mormon church leaders are not correcting what he is teaching, only that he had the audacity to speak to the press without permission. What a great sin that is!

Re: Mormon Doctrine, it was by explicit instruction that it was sold in Mormon church-owned Deseret Book. Only very recently has it been removed from being required to be published and made available for sale, by the Mormon first presidency.

I have seen no evidence that the First Presidency was involved in taking the book out of print. Deseret Book made that decision. Now the reason they gave publically, that it was not selling well anymore, has been shown to be false. That reflects badly on Deseret Book, but I hesitate to pin it on the First Presidency unless you can point me to some evidence I don’t know about.

Is this “curse of Ham” in any way related to the OT prohibition to eat pork? Oops, sorry.

By the way, McConkie is wrong that Ham means “black.” The Hebrew word for black is* Shakhor*. Ham means “father-in-law,” though it took on a secondary meaning as a name for the Egyptians, who did descend from Ham and had a custom of having prospective fathers-in-law circumcise bridegrooms.

I worked in the publishing industry in SLC for years. I was in a business mtg once where it was stated emphatically, that in spite of low sales of Mormon Doctrine, it would continue to be published and stocked, this being the wish of “the brethren”.

Deseret Book is owned by Deseret Management, which is owned by the Corporation of the First Presidency. The first presidency comprises the leading members of Deseret managements board of directors. The management at Deseret Book ultimately reports to the first presidency.


Ham is cursed! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I love ham. And BACON…mmm…pigs are awesome eatins.:smiley:

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