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  1. This is a heartbreaking story. I began my journey out of the church when I found out that the church had systematically lied to me my entire life about every aspect of the priesthood ban. From where it came from how it left, not by revelation but by vote. And how it wasnt the Lord that left the ban in, but a church led by racist old white men that clearly were not in tune with God.  Like Dustin, I then discovered how racist Brigham Young was and most leaders up to President Kimball. I learned of Benson (I will not dignity him with a title) opposed civil rights and supported McCarthyism. He was in no way a man of God.

    Like Dustin, I recognised that these were the actions of men, not God. Unlike Dustin however,  it was clear to me that the entire church was the work of man, as the research I undertook next proved over and over.

    While I can admire Dustin sticking with the church despite all odds, what does bother me is that he tried to bring people into the church when he knew how much needless pain and anguish the church caused him. 

    1. Maybe you should read how racist Christ was in Matthew 15 and how he treated the Canaanite woman (descendant of Ham), calling her and her people dogs is even harsher than anything Brigham Young ever said at the pulpit and he had quite the tirade at times. Listen to Jesus’ sermons he was telling the Jews that they were the salt, bread, water, light etc of the world and to not lose their savor and to let their light shine. He even states, that at no time will the gentiles hear my voice. He says things like my sheep will hear my voice which implies there are others not of his fold.

      1. Moral relativism – the first Mormon defense against charges of racism. Really though, nothing Jesus said can compare to what Young said. I’ll agree that they’re both racists. 

        1. First, thank you Dustin for sharing your rare, yet relevant story.  I just want to say Buffalo, that I agree with what you said and I will just add that although Jesus did not extend the gospel to all gentiles, Peter asserts he had a dream which extended it to all gentiles.  This part of Jesus’ church was left out, however, when Brigham Young took over.  Interesting that a church whose whole premise for being founded was to restore the “fullness” of the gospel, yet, because of Brigham Young, an important part of the doctrine became banned.  The church then seemed less “full”, but actually incomplete.

          1. It should also be noted that according to LDS mythology (as taught in the POGP), blacks are decedents of Ham, who passed on the curse of Cain through his wife. One son of Ham was Canaan, from which came the Canaanites, who were cursed according to the POGP. However, in the real world, the Jews actually came out of the Canaanites. They were close cousins, and they also intermarried. The Canaanites weren’t black – they were Semites, just like the Jews. If they WERE cursed, though, then so was Jesus and all his apostles, as well as the Old Testament prophets. So no one could have had any priesthood.

            The Jews are really an offshoot of the Canaanites, both in terms of blood and in terms of their theology. Yahweh is really just a name stolen from an Edomite war god of the same name and applied to the Canaanite god El (IsraEL).

          2. The rest of the Christian world was teaching  Africans are descendants of Ham long before the LDS church came along.

          3. True, but the LDS church continued to perpetuate the racist teachings long after the rest of the Christian world stopped.

        2. Referring to non-Israelites as “dogs,” especially in context with the culture of that day, is quite a “racist” statement. It certainly can compare to what BY said.

          1. I don’t know, somehow this just sounds nastier than calling someone a dog:

            “You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, un-
            comely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly
            deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is
            generally bestowed upon mankind. The first man that committed the odious
            crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any
            one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been
            killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human
            beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is
            the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and
            then another curse is pronounced upon the same race – that they should
            be the “servant of servants;” and they will be, until that curse is
            removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter
            that decree. How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is
            upon them? That curse will remain upon them, [p.291] and they never can
            hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of
            Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the
            Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of
            Adam’s children are brought up to that favourable position, the children
            of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They
            were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the
            curse will be removed.When the residue of the family of Adam come up
            and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the
            seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion. “-
            JoD 7:290-291 (October 9, 1859)

          2. I always read this NT passage as Christ playing on the public perception of the day. I felt as though he was being a bit sarcastic with his words… not towards the woman herself, but towards the lawyers, Pharisees, and Sadducees. Or perhaps he was testing her faith? Or maybe it was a combination of both. But I don’t think it was racism or prejudice.
            .
            Seriously, how many times did cut right through Samaria? We know he had no problem with people who weren’t “pure bloods”. And we also have too many examples of Christ using a subtle sarcasm or parables to teach against this. We also have many examples of Christ challenging a persons faith before a healing. But we have so few examples of Christ sincerely calling someone a dog.
            .
            BY, BMC, et al. on the other hand…

          1. A true prophet of God shouldn’t be influenced by the goings on of his era.  Right is right and wrong is wrong.  If the Quakers could get it right then why couldn’t the LDS?

      2. Yea, Jesus Christ was a racist.  That means god is a racist.   Why would anyone ever worship a racist?   Perhaps Jesus and god were merely just speaking as men rather than divine beings.   Or is that not how it works? 

      3. The term “dogs” as used by Jesus in the original Greek actually referred to a domestic dog implying a more endearing element to the term.  Nevertheless, the gospel was not allowed to be preached to the Gentiles during Christ’s life because his mission was to the House of Israel.  A time and a season for everything.  I don’t understand why seemingly intelligent people continue to make judgments about people and institutions 150+ years ago.  EVERYBODY was racist in the 1800’s:  “the only good red man is a dead one,” the list goes on and on with every ethnicity that wasn’t white.  

  2. Natasha and Dustin,
    Thank you so much for bringing us this important podcast.  I was so touched by this story as I continue to struggle with my own understanding of where man’s influence ends and God’s begins in this church.  Dustin, I don’t mean to presume that you should care, but I am honored to call you my brother no matter where our paths lead us.

  3. I just want to add my thanks for another wonderful podcast. i was also touched and moved by Dustin’s experiences.

  4. I guess I have a real hard time understanding how an organization that causes this kind of abusive harm to its members (or anyone for that matter) could possibly be “true” or why anyone would want to be part of it.  To me, this episode clearly demonstrates the fraudulent nature of the Mormon church.  This stuff has been going on for decades and continues to the present day.  By their fruits ye shall know them.

    1. Wes here is your all loving Christian God
      Don’t cast your pearls before swine…
      I come only for the lost sheep of the house of Israel…
      It’s not meet to give the bread that’s for the children to the dogs…
      My sheep will hear my voice…
      you are the salt of the Earth… don’t lose your savor…
      Wheat and tares…
      you are the light…. don’t hide it under a bushel set it on a hill for all to see…
      everything Christ said I am he said to the house of Israel, not the Africans, Chinese, Indians or any other race outside of Israel, that Ye are.

      Abrahamic Covenant ie Jehovah covenanting to have a chosen people.

      It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to observe the inequality between the races. Try and find an African philosopher/mathematician/scientist that wasn’t influenced from some outside culture. Try and find an African or any aboriginal equal to a Gandhi, Confucius, Plato, Einstein that came solely from black Africa that people quote or give reference to. Yes you can stick a black child in a school and he is just as capable as any other child, leave him in africa with his own and you’ll notice very quickly that if God is behind the races he has blessed some to be very enlightened while he’s left others in darkness to this very day. Jesus called it out, so did Brigham.

      1. Hey Jim, thanks for your reply.

        You have mentioned several things from the Bible that can’t be adequately addressed in a few posts on a web site like this.  I’m not really interested in trying to convince you of anything and it seems like you have already made up your mind anyway.  All I will say is that the Bible is an ancient text set in an ancient culture far removed from 21st Century America and in order to interpet it correctly, it’s very important to understand the context in which it was written.

        Jesus, the God I believe in as described in John 1 (which is vastly different from the Mormon god), went willingly to his death on behalf of all people throughout history and died forgiving those who killed him. I don’t know of greater, more universal love than that.

        1. It seems as if YOU already made up your mind, and if you did, what’s the point of coming and undermine our faith and pretty much insult the intelligence of those of us who are sincerely trying to understand our own faith? Because I imagine there’s absolutely nothing confusing or contradictory about your own faith…

          1. Hey Lobizao, thanks for your response.  Just to clarify, my intent is not to insult anyone’s intelligence.  I was born and raised in Mormonism and this issue played a major role in why I left.  I am more than happy to discuss any aspect of my current faith with people who are genuinely interested. 

  5. Thank you Dustin for your
    courage and candor.  Heather you
    are a gifted interviewer – thank you as well.

    John Dehlin, another
    remarkable offering.  Thank you.

    It seems to me that Mormon
    Stories is building an invaluable documentary record of a religious institution
    confronting modernity.  In this
    case modernity’s drive to social justice – a drive powerfully enabled by the
    democratization of information and motivated by our innate sense of humanity.

    When we can hear the voices
    of brothers and sisters so directly and powerfully delivered as those of pious
    authorities, our hearts are softened and our perspectives broadened.  Their voices, in all their humble hopefulness
    and uncertainty, lead us to deeper questions for which we should not abide
    simplistic answers, either from those who claim to speak the mind of god from gilded
    seats of power, or those who would tear down a crumbling dwelling without helping
    build a new one.

    Most of us know what its
    like to feel painted in a corner by our heritage – whether that is the Mormon
    Church or Western society. What do we do about it? 

    Maybe everything we need is
    right here in this cozy corner.  We
    can hold hands with our fellow tribe member and paint a good life on that bit
    of remaining wall.   Maybe
    that bit of wall is the only sacred space left on earth.

    Or maybe we walk out across
    the wet paint letting our colored soles be tokens of our integrity and
    counter-faith.  Maybe we might even
    stick around until the paint dries and it’s safe for the others to join
    us.  Is this what Mormon Stories is
    all about?

  6. I haven’t had the chance to listen to the podcast but I have a question for any and all……I was at church this past Sunday and my good Bishop (great Bishop, seasoned/older Bishop) was talking about obeying the commandments, you’re either in the black or white (there is no gray), etc., etc…..  He then started to talk about the war in heaven and how we all (and I can’t recall the exact phrasing he used) basically earned or received our “1st Estate” since we agreed with the Savior’s Plan and rejected Satan’s plan.  Then he started to go down the path that even though we received our “1st Estate” (the evidence being that since we are all here on this earth than of course we chose Christ’s plan) we weren’t all “equally valiant” in the pre-existence….he started going down this path but then skillfully pulled back and moved on to discuss how there are 3 degrees of glory/kingdoms and our decisions here during this life will determine which kingdom we end up in in the next life.  The implication was obvious to me that he was going to expand on the doctrine/idea that some of us were more committed in the pre-existence and others of us (even though we did agree to some extent with Christ’s plan) were not as committed.  This sounds a lot like BRM’s explanation in earlier editions of Mormon Doctrine where he goes down this path which leads to the idea that blacks were not as valiant in the pre-existence.  So my question is this:  Is it still doctrine or rock solid teaching in the church today that some were more valiant in the pre-existence than others?  Are you all still hearing this being taught?  Thankfully, I haven’t heard anything about blacks or any minority being less valiant in the pre-existence at all but I felt like my Bishop’s comments this past week were not necessarily going down that racist path but were at least on the slippery slope which could lead to other questions….to me his comments seemed to insinuate that unless you were born “in the covenant” than you weren’t as valiant in the pre-existence.  Am I reading too much in to this?  Is this still doctrine today?  Thoughts?

    1. “Is it still doctrine or rock solid teaching in the church today that some were more valiant in the pre-existence than others?”

      Absolutely. Foreordination is based on this principle. Spirits exercised their agency in the pre-mortal spirit world, exercised faith and obedience, and the most valiant were foreordained to missions on this earth. We can extract Alma 13:1-9 to read as the following: “According to the foreknowledge of God…priests…were called and prepared from the foundation of the world… on account of their exceeding faith and good works… to teach his commandments unto the children of men.” In other words, some had “exceeding faith and good works” before this life, so they were called and prepared to be priests to teach God’s commandments to others. Wherever there is agency, there will be great variety of valiance. Keeping in mind the glory of God is intelligence, “These two facts do exist, that there are two spirits, one being more intelligent than the other; there shall be another more intelligent than they; I am the Lord thy God, I am more intelligent than they all” (Abr 3:19). The current Gospel Principles manual states:

      The scriptures teach us that the prophets prepared themselves to become leaders on earth while they were still spirits in heaven (see Alma 13:1–3). Before they were born into mortal bodies, God foreordained (chose) them to be leaders on earth. Jesus, Adam, and Abraham were some of these leaders. (See Abraham 3:22–23.) 

      In fact, the Bible teaches God set when and where we would be born, particularly regarding the chosen lineage, the House of Israel, which was their inheritance.  “[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation” (Acts 17:26). “When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord’s portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance” (Deut 32:8-9).

      One can take these scriptures and principles to speculate as to why one is born to a faithful LDS family and another is born to abusive parents in the middle of Africa or China (as many have speculated), but these are the core principles and scriptures that expound on diversity with regards to “pre-mortal valiance.”

      1. So, if valiance in the pre-existence means you are born into a faithful LDS family, then what does it say about you if you were born into a faithful LDS family that is also abusive.  Maybe in the pre-existnece you were just 90% valiant but you were 10% rebellious, so God made sure you were born under the covenant to an LDS father who beat you. 

        1. Anon – That’s an interesting point and I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’m wondering about this doctrine/idea.  Your point as well as countless others are worth considering if the doctrine is true.  My Mom is a convert so does that mean she was less valiant because she wasn’t born in the covenant but valiant enough because the missionaries found her (since we are on this topic – a black sister missionary from the south might I add – we love her very much by the way)?  Was I more valiant than my Mom (not possible) because I was born to her (Lord knew my Mom would join the church right?)?  Which dispensation is the best (or which one is the one that let’s us know we “earned” the best one)?  It can go on and on…… I don’t hear about this doctrine discussed much anymore but it is an interesting one….  The scriptures that Iamse7en pointed out are interesting but just as section 132 says things we “no longer teach or practice” I wonder if this doctrine is one of them.  Now that Mormon Doctrine has been removed from DB maybe it gives us a clue…..who knows?

    2. Hey Tito,

      Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter whether or not you have heard anything about blacks or minorities being less valiant in the pre-existence because those teachings have yet to be officially renounced and until they are, the kind of harm experienced by Dustin will continue because those things have no reason to be rejected by the membership.  The Mormon Church claims to be the one true church on the face of the earth and that its leaders are inspired of God.  Brigham Young was quoted on the podcast as saying he never spoke anything that was incorrect.  The 14 fundamentals of following a prophet by Ezra Taft Benson (originally given in a speech by him in 1980 conference and then repeated in 2010 conference) were also mentioned in which he claims a Mormon prophet will never lead the church astray.  This is a serious problem that has only one viable solution:  The Mormon Church is not true, nor are its prophets.

      1.  I would suggest that all of God’s children will be given the same opportunity to receive all that our Father in Heaven has for them.  He is no respecter of persons.  If you made it this far, meaning earth life, you will be given the same chance to have the same inheritance as those chosen to lead and gather others in this life as God’s covenant people.  That is the beauty of the restoration gospel.  Unfortunately most of us look at things with our Telestial eyes and brain rather than our spirits which are eternal knowing that we will progress beyond this life and into the eternities from which we came.
        Dustin is suffering from an unjust inferiority condition thinking that somehow he needs to do something special to qualify for these blessings.  He has done everything the Lord has required of him and much more from the parts of the podcast that I have heard.  Now he needs to endure to the end with his faith intact, something that many of these podcast listeners seem to be struggling with. 

        Tito the Latter Day prophets have it right.  You just need to have an eternal perspective to figure that out.

        1. I think we’re gonna have to agree to disagree, JCH.  Dustin is suffering because of what LDS leaders have taught and those things have yet to be officially denounced.  It doesn’t matter what you or anyone else says on this site or in church or anywhere.

    3. Well it makes sense to me that some were more valiant than others in the pre-existence because some are more valiant in this world– i.e., do we expect that everyone in the pre-existence to have had an equivalent level of valiance?  Doesn’t make sense.  However, where the disagreeing doctrine hits the fan is when we say that level of valiance we achieved in the preexistence determined our “entry level” (for lack of a better phrase) into this world.  I for one can’t agree with that because the purpose of this world is to test our valiance, our grit, and learn to distinguish between right and wrong, truth and error, good and evil.  

      Being born in the covenant means to me only that I have a ton of expectations loaded on me.  Yes, I feel blessed.  But I also feel great obligation or I should feel obligation to set a good example, dedicate my life to sharing what I know with others, and BEING a covenant person.  We are obligated to bear the ensign to the nations but I believe there is a reason we are only a small portion of the population.  Sometimes we get narrow minded about being “born in the covenant.”  We get a little high and mighty about our position.  Dangerous. God’s plan for this earth included all people.   I think there is good reason for there being a gagillion people on the planet that are not “in the covenant.”  I think of the ton of extremely good people (the founding fathers, Gandhi, Mother Teresa, the list goes on and on and on back in time) that I think of as way better or valiant than myself.  

      This planet is about being tested and providing for opportunities for people to search, find and try to understand truth, good, right, etc.  That’s it.  The covenant people are supposed to be a light on a hill.  To love our neighbors, share what light we have, and be a beacon of goodness.  God set all this up to test us to our full capacity– and we wouldn’t want it any other way. 

  7. Dustin and Natasha, thank you, thank you. This podcast was done both thorougly and gracefully. 

    Thank you for sharing your story Dustin. I was deeply moved listening to it. I am glad you are finding a way to appreciate your rich Mormon heritage while also confronting the challenging and troubling aspects. 

    I wanted to make a comment about “lineage.” Dustin was correct with the idea that in LDS theology the Israelites were spread throughout all nations. “The House of Israel” is much broader than Jewish. Jews are of the tribe of Judah (some Benjaminites were also left in Judea). Most members of the Church come from the “Lost 10 Tribes” who were scattered in 722 BCE by the Assyrians from the Northern Kingdom of Israel. So the idea is that Europeans and others can be descendants of these tribes who were scattered among the nations of the earth. 

    So Dustin is correct that most members (who are almost always of Ephraim) are “of” or “gathered with Israel” and those not understood to be descended from Israel by blood are “adopted”.

    Such a quirky part of LDS culture.

    1. My older brothers used to tease me that I was adopted – found me on the street corner downtown.  A quirky part of family our culture – a put down all the same.  Do I read too much into this?  

      1. @d6f17cd81323e8e2cd07f10046fa9e93:disqus , I am not in any way excusing the hurtful elements of LDS tradition regarding blacks. I was just giving historical context to explain the “adopted” vs. not. And I would suggest your older brothers’ teasing is much less damaging than the theological idea of adoption experienced by Dustin and others. 🙂

        1. Jared,

          I never took what you said and excusing the LDS tradition.  For one thing, it is inconsistent with what you shared with us in your interview with Brian Johnston.  And certainly there is no comparison with that teasing. I just wanted to point out the “second class” connotation that exists.  Thanks for responding.

          JT

  8. Thanks for the pod cast and the reference to the letter sent by Elder Delbert Stapley to George Romney. http://www.boston.com/news/daily/24/delbert_stapley.pdf

    I was unaware of this letter.  I often hear the apologetic response to these racist attitudes as “everybody thought like that, that teaching was just a product of the times they lived, nobody said they were perfect”.  But weren’t these men supposed to be better than the average person? Don’t they have a direct line to God? Shouldn’t they have known better and been ahead of the curve instead of going kicking and screaming?  Then, the most disturbing response is “well, it must have been God’s will, we don’t know the reasons”   So, we are left with a few options:

    -Man is racist (Stapley, BrighamYoung etc.)-God is racist  (Bible references, lamanites dark skin curse)-God has nothing to do with any of the race based teachings in the mormon church or any of the biblical teachings.  Its all man’s cultural attitudes toward the human condition, races, and superiority. Man uses God and religion to justify his views. 

  9. “attempting to prove himself worthy of the fulness of the Lord’s blessings.” Doesn’t this apply to everyone, regardless of lineage? The point is, EVERYONE can receive the fulness of the Lord’s blessings and NO ONE is entitled to them. Lineage does not matter.

    1. I actually thought this a little bit myself, but the more I thought about it, I couldn’t equate my experience with his.  This attempt to prove himself worthy  is more of a challenge for one who has been told all his life that he already ‘failed’ by virtue of the fact that his skin is black.  The theology he grew up with said he’d made a mistake, a bad choice (or really, refused to make a choice I guess, if you use the ‘fence-sitter’ idea) in the preexistence, so for him (and others of his race) they start with a ‘strike’ against them, a negative mark on their record (I almost typed a “black mark’, wow, our language sure is loaded with imagery equating black with wrong!)  They’re in a hole they don’t remember digging, paying for a choice they have no memory of making,  trying to earn their way out….

      The theology which Natasha mentioned is that which I was taught; that I was chosen for this time because I was one of the most valiant.  My slate is clean (or started that way anyway) My job now is to keep it that way.   I still feel that I have to strive, but I’m starting from square one, not square negative 10.

  10. If one were to step back from the pre-mortal
    existence doctrine, one might see how manipulative it is to its intended
    audience – whites. 

    It’s an insidiously ideology,
    even without being inextricably linked to racism.  Indeed, the harm it does to blacks is merely collateral.  Blacks were not even considered as it was
    developed.  They were simply easy fulcrums
    to apply this psychological lever to white Saints. 

    Of course, the harm done to
    blacks only adds to its insidiousness and the LDS Church’s preference for
    preserving this hurtful doctrine deserves condemnation. Many well-meaning LDS
    members are clueless to this and would reject this charge.  Some consciousness-raising is due. 

    This doctrine is just one
    of the many levers of control that emerge from religious brews. This doctrine is
    subtle flattery hiding a sharp hook.  “Your very special brother Smith.  Before you were born you earned the privilege of devoting
    your life to this church … and this includes paying 10% of your income, and
    getting others to do the same … Indeed, you are member of our tribe.  Dear brother, don’t let your tribe
    down, particularly those who are waiting to be born. Keep in mind always
    the valiant life you don’t remember – it really happened – really.”

  11. Great podcast, Dustin and Natasha.

    Some random notes:

    The Cain story that Spencer W Kimball refers to in The Miracle of Forgiveness comes from an account attributed to early LDS apostle and David W. Patten by Abraham Smoot in his journal after Patten’s death. Patten supposedly met Cain— tall dark and hairy man on a mission to Tennessee in the 1830s.

    I don’t see the curse and the mark as separate as Dustin did. I do not believe that that the skin color and features of non whites is even a mark RELATED to a curse. It’s just genetics and wonderful diversity. I find both the curse and mark ideas offensive and they sound far more like the racism of the 19th century than truth.

    The heading changes don’t mean much to me when the verse itself still reads:

    1 Nephi 12:23
    And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

    Your comments about Hinckley’s 2006 comments on race are spot on. His didn’t address the real issue for Mormons. It’s a given that christians shouldn’t use racial slurs etc. Persoanlly I find the racist teachings by the Church almost more insidious than slurs because they are couched in language of revelation and prophets. Racism disguised as revelation is far more effective/scarier because people don’t dare question it.

    IMO now is the time to speak out on gay marriage. The Church has managed in the name of revelation to repeatedly be on the wrong side of history.  I don’t want to be unclear on what I think about social justice and progress— especially to my kids who are being raised LDS. I want then to know that they can choose to disagree.

    And lastly, while I appreciate Dustin’s faithfulness to the Church I can’t understand why he feels the need to stick with a group that has given him (and others of color zero) respect. As a disaffected member I understand the difficulty in trying to be part of a group that really doesn’t want you— or that denies you a voice— and I’ve chosen to move on. The Church has been far tougher on you,  Dustin, than it ever was on me. Why do you stay?

    Again great podcast. Thanks.

    1. LDSRevelations,

      I had a Sister that left our home in SLC and the church back in the 60’s and went to San Francisco.  She was blond and beautiful a delightsome young lady and yet the longer she was away the more she became like unto this scripture:

      1 Nephi 12:23
      And it came to pass that I beheld, after they (she) had dwindled in unbelief they (she) became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people (person), full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

      This scripture describes her to a tee.  It has nothing to do with skin color.  Dark and loathsome is a state of unrighteousness that anyone’s spirituality can fall into.  Skin mentioned in the scripture mean to me the appearance of a fallen people not a physical, biological, pigment coloring.

      Have you considered that maybe Dustin has had undeniable spiritual experiences and perhaps that is why he hangs in there persevering the trials that really reflect on those that he has dealt with as opposed to himself.  People don’t usually leave that have had those types of experiences.  My guess is that at some point in time you have had some too. 

  12. Great podcast Dustin and Natasha.  Thanks for doing it.  You guys are awesome!  I’m no apologist for the Mormon Church but I think that when we dwell on past mistakes, we are prevented from seeing the good that is in the modern church.   Waiting for the church to apologize for its racist past is like waiting for the US government to distribute its promised 40 acres and a mule.  We have to move on and let the past go.  Doesn’t more recent council from our prophet trump older teachings.  Doesn’t GBH’s declaration that there is no room for racism in the church supercede the racist teachings of Brigham Young.  
    When I was growing up I was always taught that the ban on the priesthood was temporary and the blacks would eventually get the priesthood. I remember very well the day the priesthood was extended to the blacks.  I grew up on a farm in a very small Utah town.  On June 8, 1978, I was a teenager cutting the alfalfa on the windrower in my dad’s field and my cousin was doing the same thing on her dad’s field.  She stopped her windrower and came running over to me waving her arms.  I was afraid something bad had happened so I jumped off the windrower and ran to her.  She was crying and happily told me that the prophet had just announced that the blacks could have the priesthood.  We embraced, jumping up and down and crying for joy.  It was one of those moments where you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard the news.   
    The Mormon Church has its problems just like every other religion but I plan to stick with it, warts and all.  If the church wants to get rid of me, it will have to force me out kicking and screaming.  This church is as much my church as it is the prophet’s church.  : )

    1. Anon,

      Here is a little more comfort that I want to share with you and others.  It might help assure you in knowing that you are in the right place  mentally and spiritually and like the rest of us faithfull LDS,  persevering and trying to overcome all.  Marcus Martins’ father Helvecio Martins was the first Black General Authority.  Marcus was the first Black missionary to be called after Declaration two.  He wrote an article in the BYU Sutdies that I am only going to share the conclusion to.  His family joined the church 6 years prior to Pres. Kimball’s revelation.  It is most reassuring and I would recommend reading the whole article if one has a chance:

      BYU
      Studies Volume 47 .  Number 2 .
      2008

       

      Conclusion

      I
      love my religion, and I have never found in our official doctrine

      (3
      Ne. 11:31–39; D&C 1:17–26) any evidence of racism. I was a member of the

      Church
      during the last six years of the priesthood ban, and I was the first

      member
      of my race to serve a full-time mission after the ban was lifted.

      Now,
      almost thirty years later, I am a high priest and an ordained bishop,

      and
      my two sons are also priesthood holders—one is also a bishop and

       

      V P. 85

       

      Thirty
      Years after the “Long-Promised Day”

      the
      other is an elder. My late father, Helvécio Martins, served as a General

      Authority
      between 1990 and 1996. He was a member of the Second Quorum

      of
      the Seventy, and Latter-day Saints throughout the world from that time

      still
      remember him speaking in two general conferences of the Church.

      As
      an educator, I meet with fellow administrators who prior to 1978

      might
      have espoused speculative ideas supportive of the priesthood ban.

      Like
      those Muslim women in Malaysia, others might also ask me: “How

      come
      you are a Mormon? How can you associate with these people?” For

      me
      it is a matter of forgiveness, faith in God, and hope of a peaceful future

      for
      my children and grandchildren. Nothing good would come to my life

      in
      the present if I were to keep reliving events of the past.

      That
      is why I have maintained my opinion that this is a time for activ-

      ity,
      not for activism in the Church. Daily faithful living of gospel principles

      is
      what is going to improve our lives and the quality of our associations

      with
      others, regardless of the conditions of the society around us.

      This
      is not a “pie in the sky” religion. Many of the extraordinary

      blessings,
      privileges, and promises contained in the restored gospel of

      Jesus
      Christ can be enjoyed right here, right now. It is interesting that in

      the
      Book of Mormon we find that both the Nephites and Lamanites were

      concerned
      with maintaining the “rights and privileges of [their] church . . .

      of
      their religion . . . and of their worship” (Alma 2:4; 51:6; 3 Ne. 2:12). In a

      world
      full of ambiguities, doubts, fears, and dangers, it is a great blessing to

      be
      able to enjoy in our lives and homes “the rights of the priesthood [which]

      are
      inseparably connected with the powers of heaven” (D&C 121:36). These

      rights
      enable every member of the Church to approach the Lord with bold

      faith
      and through reverent obedience receive “peace in this world, and

      eternal
      life in the world to come” (D&C 59:23).

       

       

      Marcus
      Helvécio T. A. Martins is the Chair of the Department of Religious

      Education
      at Brigham Young University–Hawaii. A native of Rio de Janeiro,

      Brazil,
      he holds a PhD in Sociology of Religion, Race, and Ethnic Relations.

      He
      has taught at BYU (Provo) and Ricks College (now BYU–Idaho) and has

      also
      lectured throughout the United States, Brazil, and Japan. He was elected

      Teacher
      of the Year by BYU–Hawaii’s President’s Council in 2002. This essay

      is
      adapted from remarks originally presented at the Orem Utah Institute of

       Religion, February 29, 2008.

       

    2. Totally agree.  Beyond twenty years ago to the beginning of time, racism was far and away the rule the world over.  So it really bothers me that everybody is on this high horse like they would have been any different than our forefathers.  Heck, prejudice wasn’t isolated to race: the Italians were blamed for taking all the life rafts off the Titanic, Protestants hated the Catholics and banned their rites for centuries, the Irish were a hiss and a byword in America, etc, etc, etc.  If everyone expected the church to espouse perfect doctrines immediately without any room for adaptation then none of us could belong because we would have to live the law of consecration, and who knows what other higher laws we can’t live up to.  Growing up, a reason I heard as to why blacks were not allowed to receive the priesthood was because they weren’t ready yet.  It’s more like white people weren’t ready yet.  The sad truth was that when that was announced there were many white people very mad about it.  I believe the Lord advances us when we are ready, which is pretty, pathetically slow.  The Law of Moses is a perfect example.  And we still can’t handle the basics:  the Ten Commandments.

      Racism as we like to call it in our politically correct era:  The LDS church was not alone.  Protestant churches all over the South were segregated long before and probably long after the Church’s announcement in 1978.  My wife is from Florida and she tells me stories from the 90’s that still baffle me and anyone else with modern sensitivities.  But we can’t judge these previous generations so harshly.  God obviously allows us to make our beds as poorly as we do over and over again decade after decade hopefully learning generation over generation.

  13. May be there should be a BLACK MAN LDS CHURCH  and out cast the white. I think Dustin you only want to gain sympathy  from others . Growing Black is no more or less,  Good or bad as growing up Asian or other race. I think you need to stop living in the past and get away from the fake Church  that you are still a slave of. Do this as i did ( as a Asian) and you will find peace.
    Barry Chow

  14. Wouldn’t you know that I get to substitute in Seminary next week and talk about Official Declaration #2!  I have been pondering how I will approach this subject and this podcast will help.  Great work.  Good insights.  Thanks!

    1. … and the full text of Martin’s address is found at http://www.fairlds.org/FAIR_Conferences/2006_Black_Man_in_Zion.html

      1. Here’s a taste of the address

        “In my mind the
        priesthood ban was never part of the everlasting gospel and I have
        found peace in the idea that the Lord allowed the ban to remain in his Church
        in order to fulfill his inscrutable purposes whatever they are.  That
        belief leads me to conclude that the ban never jeopardized my eternal
        salvation. There were a few significant privileges of membership in the Church
        that I could not enjoy before June of 1978; a few very significant things, but
        not very many. I was able to receive the ordinance of baptism, I received the
        Holy Ghost, I could pay my tithing, I could read the scriptures, I could pray,
        I could partake of the sacrament, I could hold many callings as my parents and
        I did all those years between 1972-78, and also keep the commandments of the
        Lord and be blessed for doing so. None of these privileges of membership was
        denied me. I simply could not officiate in priesthood ordinances like my peers,
        nor enter a temple and receive my own endowment, nor be sealed to my parents,
        but other than that all other privileges of membership were available to me.”

        1. JT – I say this with humility and respect…but I have to think that back in
          the days of slavery, it would have been easy to find a slave that would say
          something to the effect of, “I love my massa. He gives me a roof over my
          head. A nice straw mattress to sleep on. 2 meals a day. A nice pair of
          clothes to work in. Only beats me when I deserve it. I has it gooood.”

          I know this sounds harsh, but this is what immediately comes to my mind when
          I read this quote.

          Again….I don’t mean to offend. I’m just being honest. This doesn’t feel
          right to me…even though I respect his thoughts/views/feelings on the
          matter. But it doesn’t seem right.

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            John,

            No offense.  Indeed, I agree with you.  I posted this not by way of advocacy, but because I personally found it sad and disturbing. But I did not add my commentary because I thought it best for listeners to judge for themselves.

            I posted an earlier comment on this episode that speaks to my position.  At the end I wrote:

                 Most of us know what its

                 like to feel painted in a corner 

                 by our heritage – whether that 

                 is the Mormon Church or Western

                 society. What do we do about it? 

                 Maybe everything we need is

                 right here in our cozy corner.  We

                 can hold hands with our fellow tribe 

                 member and paint a good life on that 

                 bit of remaining wall.   Maybe that bit 

                 of  wall is the only sacred space left 

                 on earth.

                 Or maybe we walk out across the wet 

                 paint letting our colored soles be tokens 

                 of our integrity and counter-faith.  Maybe 

                 we might even stick around until the paint

                 dries and it’s safe for the others to join us. 

                 Is this what Mormon Stories is all about?

            As for me, I walked across the paint several years ago (formally resigned).

            If you care to indulge me a bit more, I also posted a comment for the Grant and Heather Hardy episode that Grant was gracious enough to respond to in detail.  I mention it here because I suggested that leaving the Church could be a moral choice and touched on the LDS “policy” of denying Black men priesthood.  I wrote:

                 In an earlier Mormon Stories interview 

                 Richard Bushman referred to Terryl Givens 

                 statement about belief in Mormonism being 

                 a moral choice. Though I suspect few of our 

                 choices are determined by the reasons we say, 

                 I’ll go ahead and claim that leaving the Church 

                 can be a moral choice. It is moral not to hold 

                 on to implausible claims when they support a 

                 problematical construal of God. By this I don’t 

                 just mean the “pious fraud” god, but the god of 

                 3 Nephi 9 [& 10], D&C 132, Abraham 1, and 

                 of all the institutional bits that clung to these, 

                 no matter how many have been abraded by 

                 the expediencies of growth and survival.

            With that I’ll simply add my thanks for your drawing attention to this post

            JT

            “Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood” 
            (song written by Bennie Benjamin, et al. and most memorably performed by Joe Cocker)

          2. I have no idea what’s going on with the formatting.  Must be related to cutting and pasting from my Word (I can’t stand writing typing into boxes)  Sorry about that.

  15. Can someone knowledgeable comment on the connection (or lack of connection) between the Canaanites and Cain?

    Other than the phonetic similarity, I thought there was no relation.  I understand the confusion because the BoM associates Ham with Canaan, but help me connect the dots between Canaan and Cain, please.  Or debunk it altogether.

    1. Good catch @3b31a4274ce3b39659b5135a15cbc434:disqus . That jarred me a bit every time it was said too, though I understood what Dustin meant. 

      There is no close relationship between Cain and the Canaanites. The Canaanites were tribes who lived in the Canaan/Palestine region. The Israelites were also a Canaanite culture. So think of Modern Israel, Syria, Jordan. 

      Cain is well, Cain. You could trace the legendary genealogies in the OT to find the distant connection between Cain and Canaan, grandson of Noah. 

      Sometime look up the “Cainites” who were a Gnostic Christian sect who worshiped the bad boys of the Bible because the God of the OT was evil… the Gospel of Judas seems aligned with such a group. 

  16. I thought it was strange for Natasha to claim that Joseph Smith was “a racist in some regard” simply because of the time that he lived in. The moderators in these podcasts are usually cautious about what kinds of assertions they make, so that was uncharacteristic. To make a casual but serious accusation like that, I think the moderator should at least provide a quick example.

    From what I’ve read, Joseph Smith did not appear to have a racist bone in his body. I don’t claim to know everything about JS, so if anyone can point me to actual evidence I’d be interested in reading about it…
    Thanks.

    1. Just listen to Mormon Stories episode 26. I think it has a good discussion about Joseph Smith, racism, and slavery. I don’t think Natasha’s claim was casual.

    2. I believe Joseph Smith was progressive for his time but that does not absolve him from racism.  His comments are further complicated by the fact that at times he was making political statements as he was running for presidential office that I’m sure were meant to appease more than just one audience.  I’ve been to many ethics/racial/cultural workshops and still find often my own unintended forms of racism at play which I’m not even aware of until called to my attention.  None of us are immune from this – especially those of us who look white.  Joseph Smith, inspired/progressive or not, was not immune either.  That’s all I meant.  I greatly appreciate that Joseph was progressive on this issue for his time and I still believe we can learn a lot from his example of going against the cultural norm for the benefit of humanity’s cause and treating individuals as such.

  17. Joseph was not a malicious racist the way perhaps Brigham Young was.  However, some of his statements would certainly be viewed as un-PC in our day and age.

    Delbert Stapely referred George Romney to these statements:
    Status of the Negro (from Teachings of the Prophet JS)
    Section Five 1842-43, p.269
    At five went to Mr. Sollars’ with Elders Hyde and Richards. Elder Hyde inquired the situation of the negro. I replied, they came into the world slaves, mentally and physically. Change their situation with the whites, and they would be like them. They have souls, and are subjects of salvation. Go into Cincinnati or any city, and find an educated negro, who rides in his carriage, and you will see a man who has risen by the powers of his own mind to his exalted state of respectability. The slaves in Washington are more refined than many in high places, and the black boys will take the shine off many of those they brush and wait on.

    Section Five 1842-43, p.269
    Elder Hyde remarked, “Put them on the level, and they will rise above me.” I replied, if I raised you to be my equal, and then attempted to oppress you, would you not be indignant and try to rise above me, as did Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and many others, who said I was a fallen Prophet, and they were capable of leading the people, although I never attempted to oppress them, but had always been lifting them up? Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization.
    History if the Church Vol 2, pg 438Trace the history of the world from this notable event down to this day, and you will find the fulfillment of this singular prophecy. What could have been the design of the Almighty in this singular occurrence is not for me to say; but I can say, the curse is not yet taken off from the sons of Canaan, neither will be until it is affected by as great a power as caused it to come; and the people who interfere the least with the purposes of God in this matter, will come under the least condemnation before Him; and those who are determined to pursue a course, which shows an opposition, and a feverish restlessness against the decrees of the Lord, will learn, when perhaps it is too late for their own good, that God can do His own work, without the aid of those who are not dictated by His counsel.See also:http://www.mtgriffith.com/web_documents/earlyldsviews.htm

  18. @Natasha:disqus , I loved how you said about sustaining the Church leaders, “Challenging them is a form of support as well.” 
    If only they would agree. 😉 The academic world is kind of utopian this way, where those who have worked as hard as they can to craft a plausible theory thank those who point out their failings and places where they can improve. 

    @Dustin:disqus , I am so moved by what you have shared. I am right in the trenches with you but I do hope you can find a way to stay because the Church is better for it. 

  19. Dustin and Natasha, thanks for a very thoughtful and candid podcast. Stories likes these encourage me to love my neighbor more regardless of race, sexual orientation, religion, social status, etc. Thanks!

  20. Thanks Dustin for your story.  I related to your awakening of the fact that leaders of the LDS church don’t always speak God’s will (even over the pulpit) and that there are other factors in play when “doctrine” is set.  Mine is a similar story except I am white and I am female in the LDS church.  I still can’t hold the Priesthood and have felt discrimination from the LDS church as long as I can remember-all in the name of God.  I am told who I am and what I will do with the rest of my life just by being born a girl.  Never mind Jesus and the commandments-the church has it even more figured out for me.  I was told from ages 12-18 that the most important thing I will do in my life is to marry a righteous RM in the temple.  I was then told to become an all-sacrificing, submissive, mild-mannered mother and that that role should encompass my whole exsistence.  I was told not to work outside the home and of course, have as many babies as possible, support my husband and encourage him to shine and above all, never question those in power who set doctrine (males).  I have been socialized in the “women’s organization” that is run by men to pass on these expected roles to my children-thus making my life worth living and enabling me to attain the Celestial Kingdom and by doing so bringing honor to my husband.  Then in heaven, my eternities will be spent having spirit children (along with who knows how many other women) as my husband creates worlds, manages affairs on his planets, like earth, meanwhile commanding my spirit children to no longer talk or believe in me once they are in their mortal state.  Although my allotment in life seems at least humane and doesn’t come near to the prejudices that black people faced in the LDS church, I think Dustin and Natasha will both agree that the misconstuction of roles continues today and is justified all in the name of God.  We Mormons say we believe and hold in esteem free agency as (wo)man’s greatest gift of God then turn around and say, psych!-do exactly as the brethern say and don’t question and by doing so one proves one’s worthiness.  So scary!
    I was waiting for Dustin or Natasha to mention in the later part of the interview something like “I see how race has been used as a means of having power over a people and how likewise, the leaders of the church have also used gender as a rational for discrimination.”  You both mentioned Prop 8 but what about the ERA and the feminist movement?  The same anxiety that Dustin was discribing and his eagerness to prove himself was soooo similar to what I used to feel as a woman in the church.  Thanks again for this great podcast.  It reaffirmed to me I am not the only smart person that got totally dupped by the LDS Church’s all or nothing, obey leaders or be damned, black-and-white way of thinking.

  21. Natasha:

    Thanks for the terrific Mormon Story.

    Dustin:

    I served a mission in a Southern State in the 90’s. The racial prejudice I saw nearly killed me. So you are a real inspiration!

    That said, you are an incredible sharp and well-read guy. So let me ask my traditional Mormon Stories question… just to see where you are at with your faith (based upon your research and studies):

    Have you ever taken a serious look at the Community of Christ? I attend a local congregation occasionally (now). They make a compelling case for JS succession. Plus, the CoC has little of the baggage that the LDS Church has? I think I have finally figured out the difference between the CoC and the LDS Church too. The CoC seems to be a NT restorationist church. And the LDS Church appears to be an OT restorationist church.

    1. Joe,

      If God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, why would you want to exclude the old testament?

      Just wondering 

      1. @48e2639b0941c7d6fadd06702ef57dcb:disqus

         Uhm… are you intentionally trying to be a troll? If not, here is the difference.

        The LDS Church has become a religion that feels as if it must command people in all things. It has become very similar to the Old Testament religion that we see during Christ’s ministry… where Pharisees, Sadducees, and Lawyers ruled in a manner that ultimately violated Gods greatest laws (To love God and to love your fellow man). In The LDS Church, thinking is discouraged… and has been replaced with an expectation for blind obedience. The law of common consent is ignored. Stupid, uninspired policies have become dogma. And hypocrisy reigns supreme. In short, many people seem to have forgotten God’s greatest commandments (Matthew 22:36-40).

        The CoC has all the beauty of Joseph’s original Church. But without all the baggage. They consider Polygamy to be uninspired (claiming Joseph had taken a path similar to that of David of Old), and they consider William Law a hero for exposing this corruption. They never banned priesthood blessings to those of African decent. Etc., etc. In addition, The CoC focuses on Christ-like living. Their focus is towards following Him. Even their mission seems to better follow this mission of Christ as outlined in the New Testament. In short, the CoC has followed a path that sees to conform with the
        teachings of love and grace that are so prominent in the New Testament. I
        guess it just seems to conform better with my moral compass.

        It least, these are the difference that I have started to notice when I attend CoC services (comparing them to LDS services).

        IMO… MERCY, GRACE, and LOVE > JUSTICE, WORKS, and FIERCENESS

        1. Joe,

          A troll?  No I don’t just throw things out to invoke a response or to rattle someone’s cage.  I am so happy that you have found a path that seems to be working for you.  for me the CoC is lacking in that they do not afford all of mankind living and dead the same opportunity to receive all the blessings and possibilities of the gospel of JC.  The saving ordinances have been promised to all of God’s children livng and dead through the temple ordinances which were very important to JS (think of his brother Alvin who passed on without being baptized) and I believe the Savior.  This distinction separates the the LDS church from the CoC and separates it from all Christianity.  
          Another distinction of JS’s version of the church is to take the message to all of the world and to teach Heavenly Father’s children in their own language.  Taking the gospel to all of the world is also the marching orders for the original apostles.I could go on, but you see there are some pretty distinct things that the CoC left out of JS’s original teachings that the CoC falls short on.  Just a few thoughts.  Not a Troll.  (-:  I am glad for you however and wish you the best in your faith journey.

  22. This was powerful.

    I have a personal experience with Dustin. He showed up with a bunch of other youth to help me and my wife decorate a youth dance. He didn’t know it, but we had just had our apartment flood and were exhausted from trying to save all of our stuff earlier that morning.

    He seemed to sense that we were spent and (unlike other youth and leaders assigned to help) just dove in and stayed with us way longer than he was supposed to after everyone else had gone.  He had no reason to. We had just met.

    I think the church is a big part in developing someone with the character of a Dustin Jones. I also think that it’s an indictment against the church that it can allow one of it’s bright lights to feel some of the heartache he has shared. I was moved to tears more than once.

    W.

  23. @Dustin:disqus , I was so deeply moved when you talked about how much you sacrificed in your leadership callings. And inspired by all the interfaith and cultural efforts you were involved in! Heartbreaking that some “did not approve”. UGH. 

    One of my greatest wishes is that the Brethren (and as long as it is wishes, the Sistern too. 😉 ) would prayerfully take the best aspects of all religions and cultures and incorporate them into the “one true Gospel”. 

  24. Dustin, thank you so much for sharing your story and thoughts. You sound like a wonderful person that the Church should not be without. I love being able to hear these issues discussed. It is so touchy that I never really found a place to talk about it with members. I started talking about this podcast with my wife yesterday, and she got very angry and offended. I just had to drop it. We’ll know the Church has addressed the issue when members can talk about it openly.

  25. So many wonderful comments.  I am taken aback by all of your compliments.  I simply let Natasha ask the questions and I spoke my truth…”my Mormon Story.”  To respond to a few comments above…I hope I can say with all clarity that sharing my story was never an attempt to get pity from anyone.  I share my story for the many people within the Church who have no idea how to even approach this topic.  What I was taught were teaching that were not made up by rogue lower level priesthood leaders…these teaching came from the top but they have never been dismissed from the top in any official capacity.  I still hear people sharing some of these teachings today because, as I touched on, they’ve never been disavowed and people don’t know what to believe.  

    No, I’ve never looked into the Community of Christ.  I have been intrigued lately as I have studies more about the succession issues.  I’ve also enjoyed comparing and contrasting the CofC’s perspectives on Emma vs Brigham Young issues that occurred after the exodus to the West.

    I’ve just started reading all of these comments. I believe there will be more to come. I will check back often and respond to more. You all are amazing to have gotten to know. Thanks for your comments.

    Dustin

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      Dear Justin

      Thank you for checking in. 

      I feel it worth mentioning that we keep in mind the broader context of racism in our society and how this might be best addressed, starting with our children. 

      I recently read a book called NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by journalists and writers Po Bronson and Ashley Merriman who have won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Award for Best Science Journalism. http://www.amazon.com/NurtureShock-New-Thinking-About-Children/dp/0446504122. The third chapter of the book is titled “Why White Parents Don’t Talk About Race.”  In it Bronson and Merriman discuss how young children naturally acquire implicit prejudices based on the innate disposition humans have to categorize, form, and attach themselves to groups based on perceptually salient similarities and differences.  Skin color is chief among these. 

      The chapter title refers to a second related discovery.  Most parents (white parents far more than minority parents) find it difficult to talk about race for fear of drawing attention to it and thereby inadvertently encouraging racist thinking. However, this backfires because in the absence of explicit teaching children naturally arrive these prejudices.

      Furthermore, simply arranging for diverse communities (such integrated schools) does not help.  When left to themselves children self-segregate along racial lines.  Studies show that the most integrated schools have the highest levels of racist attitudes and behavior.  

      This of course does not mean that we should go back to segregated schools, but rather shows that racism must be addressed intentionally – adults need to lead.  

      There is a ton of psychological research dealing with implicit prejudice (see http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=the-implicit-prejudice). In my mind this suggests that LDS Church leadership’s response to its racist legacy is misguided.  Thinking that it will all go away with a single revelation and leading with comments such as, “Look, that’s behind us. Don’t worry about those little flecks of history,” seems more about institutional preservation than transforming hearts and minds.

      In his 2006 FAIR address Marcus H. Martins, a devout Black Latter-day Saint who speaks on behalf of the Church on matters of race, stated: 

      “My only suggestion–and I have done this myself–is to not allow this issue to importune our children and grandchildren. 

      To this he added: 

      “But just like the Mountain Meadows massacre and other unfortunate episodes, the ban may be remembered as an undeniable fact in history–but never as a significant factor to the present.” 

      I find it sad that this well-intentioned person is inadvertently advocating a position that can only delay the full embrace and appreciation of ethnic diversity in the Mormon Church.  As in other cases, it seems that enlightened views will have to seep in from the outside and fringes until the top 15 priesthood holders finally get their collective consciousness raised and their priorities straight.  

      Thank you again Justin for keeping this issue alive.  I have faith that it will bear fruit. 

      JT

      P.S. Marcus Martin’s address can be found at:

      http://www.fairblog.org/2011/05/31/best-of-fair-5-a-black-man-in-zion-reflections-on-race-in-the-restored-gospel/comment-page-1/#comment-62286

      I also posted Chapter 3 from Nuture Shock in my public drop box at: 

      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/13817676/Nurture%20Shock%20Ch%203.pdf 

      I strongly recommend this book to everyone, especially those with young children.

  26. Thank you, Dustin.   I was moved by your story.  May peace be with you in all your future experience in the church.  I am so happy to know that you are choosing your OWN beliefs and not taking them from the church.  This is a much more peaceful way to live.

  27. Dustin and Natasha,
    You both have enriched my life and my understanding.  Thank you for being so open and honest.  You are a very special man and I feel that the Lord knows you and will provide a way for your voice and testimony to be heard by many people in and out of the church.  Please, Please, stay with us.  We need you.   May God bless you on your journey and lead you home safe and sound.  
    Natasha, as always your just plain awesome!

  28. Dustin,  thank you for your bravery in coming on the podcast to talk about these difficult issues.  This story broke my heart.  Listening to you speak my heart was filled with love for you.  You are a great person.  Don’t ever feel like less.

  29. Dustin,

    You certainly are good enough.  You know, I think the church only moves forward when the members are ready for it and they are not always ready for truth and light.  We haven’t been translated yet…  The church is only as perfect as those who run it.  They receive God’s instructions through the filter of their own self which can easily filter out the plain and simple truth.  So the fact that you were released from your calling is just proof the members were not ready.  Not that you were unworthy or not good enough.  You just may have been too good!  More than they were ready for.  It is strange that God would do so much of His work through others when we are so imperfect, leaving God looking imperfect.  My ward is starting to see the light of what you were doing and I am hoping we will be able to put together some similar activities.  Wish us luck!  My best to you!  You are one of those member that makes going to church fun.  Life is too boring to without change and change will come.

    1. Yuck, kash.  Really?  God punishes (withholding potential blessings from a calling) because “other members” aren’t ready yet?  Reference Article of Faith #2.

      1. The article does not say we will not suffer from all sin…  It just says Adam’s…  Its the member’s sin not Adam’s I am talking about here.. We all suffer from other’s sins and not Adam’s.  If I cheated on my wife, doesn’t she suffer from my sins?  I certainly would think so…  That is not Adam’s sin..that’s my sin.  So was my wife withheld blessings because of my actions?  You could say yes because I am not longer the “blessing” I once was.  But I have to answer to that sin in the end not my wife.  That is what this whole Mormon Stories is about a lot of times…  So many of these stories  are those who suffer from the downfall of church members not doing what they supposedly should do and others suffer for it…  Say my Bishop didn’t give me a calling because he didn’t like me, a grudge…  I do not receive the blessings of that calling because my Bishop is holding a grudge.  He will answer for that…  and meanwhile I have to “suffer” from his sins…  That is the way it goes…  We live in a imperfect world, wake up and smell the thorns.  Read 2NE2.

        1. Perhaps what Patriarchal_Gripe was referring to was a sense that somehow you were trying to excuse the Church because its leaders are not perfect. I agree the LDS Church is run by imperfect people. I agree that the Church has taught this in many instances. However, the general leaders have also taught us the prophet would never lead us astray. On top of that, “When the prophet speaks, the thinking is done”. Many like me (and perhaps Patriarchal_Gripe) think that the Church’s general leaders, including the prophets, have led us very far astray regarding race. Think of the blacks denied priesthood and temple blessings because of the ban. Think of the thousands (millions?) of blacks who did not and who will not join the Church because of the ban. What appears to be a very racist ban existed for about 130 years. The ramifications of the teachings associated with this ban continue today. To me, it does not seem like God is really in charge of the LDS Church. I never expected the Church’s leaders to be perfect. I just wish they would stop acting as if they thought they were perfect.

          1. Thanks Zacktac!  I would agree with that!  I am definitely not excusing the Church.  I guess what I was trying to say is that even if God is perfect and leading the Church because we are all imperfect and God leads his church through imperfect people (including leaders), we only get an interpretation of what God wants.  I think we all (including leaders?) make too many assumptions of what God wants or means when He speaks to us.  I know when I have had spiritual experiences, the feeling can be very overwhelming and I feel like I know more than I really do.  It is hard to put it into words and make a clear understanding of some of these experiences.  It is easy to interpret it many ways based on the many influences surrounding the event.  Culture, circumstances, recent experiences, ….   It is easy to reach and assume too much in our interpretation.  This includes interpretation of scripture… Does it all have to be so literal?  It’s like a man who painted a perfect painting and he can’t show it to everyone for some reason.  So in order to show his painting he teaches others to paint the painting so others can see it.  The painting painted by those other than the original author will always pale in comparison until those copying the painting are “perfected”.  For now we have to make due with an imperfect painting…  And to your point, we should not pretend it is perfect..   Thus, the church will only move as fast as the members and its leaders are ready.  

  30. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview.  I am mixed race, and even though I have never felt the racism and bigotry that Dustin experienced, I can empathize with the experiences he has had.  I applaud Dustin for his openness and candor in which he discusses very complicated and difficult subject.  I enjoyed the entire interview and felt Dustin’s closing comments were right on the mark!  There is much to learn and a lot of progress that still needs to be made on the issues discussed.  The one thing I wish I could have heard more about was how Dustin stays active today in spite of the actions shown toward him.  I am currently active, but am on my own journey of reconciling the faith and testimony of my youth with the observations and beliefs I now hold as an adult.  The mere mental and heart-felt acknowledgement that General Authorities, even the Prophet, can be so “wrong” in one’s mind on one issue (i.e Blacks & Priesthood, or Homosexuality) opens up a whole slew of other logical problems with where does that slippery slope stop?  I still hold to the basic premise and core doctrine of faith in Jesus Christ above all else and love and appreciate my LDS upbringing, my current life as an active member of the church, but I am definitely feeling more open about greater possibilities of what is truth and the sources of truth than perhaps I was taught and believed in my youth.  Thanks Dustin!

  31. I’m white as the driven snow, blonde hair and blue eyes.  Dustin your far more valiant.  I lived in Cali with all races when I moved to Utah and learned about how racist my church was.  I knew it was wrong.  Moreover the whities in Utah were far less stellar people in so many ways then my Cali friends, and a bit stupider to be frank.  Four years ago it was just as racist, I hate that I raised my kids in a church that teaches secrets and worse teaches anything other than acceptance of differences.  I think it is awful the church is in Africa giving part of the story these days.  Stand for something people!  You can’t pretend this stuff is okay by going to church you endorse it.  

    John you should declare a no white shirt church day for all your followers here!  In protest of hate.  It would also help members identify those who know its all a crock.

  32. Wow! What a great interview. This is definitely one of my
    favorite Mormon Stories podcasts. I lay in bed last night listening to the last
    hour of the podcast, sometimes weeping as I considered the pain you felt and
    that many others feel and have felt because of some of the teachings of the LDS
    Church.  I appreciate your respect toward
    the Church and admire your courage to make a stand regarding the Church both in
    not accepting callings for the time being and in expressing your thoughts and
    feelings in this podcast.

     

    I no longer believe in the LDS Church’s claims to authority
    or historicity. When I first realized I no longer believed the Church was what
    it claimed, I thought I might be able to continue as an actively participating,
    full tithe paying, temple recommend carrying Mormon. But with my new outlook on
    the Church, I looked a little closer at some of the effects the Church has on
    the life of some of its members. This led me to conclude that though the Church
    does much good, it also hurts others without the courage to take responsibility
    for false teachings and the pain those teachings cause. As a result, I will no
    longer support the Church. I am as Caucasian as a person can get, but I can
    understand to some extent the pain some of the past teachings of men
    (interspersed with scripture) can cause blacks and other persons of color. I’m
    also very heterosexual, but as Dustin so eloquently and respectfully expressed,
    I don’t want to set an example for my children that shows them it is okay to
    support an organization whose incorrect teachings hurt my GLBT brothers and
    sisters.

    John – Thank you for bringing this interview to us.

    Natasha – Thank you for doing such a good job interviewing
    Dustin.

    Dustin – Thank you for opening up like this. I appreciate
    your honesty and courage! If the Gospel is true, I pray that, in spite of my
    apostate disbelief, I may be there to witness as you come forth in the morning
    of the first resurrection to receive all the blessings the Father has to offer.

  33. Zacktac, man I have to tell you what you wrote makes me extremely proud!  You are unwilling to set a poor example or hurt others by being part of a fraud.  VERY seldom do I see or hear this from people most of them do not have the courage or are unwilling to do a little suffering for truth and doing what is right.  Simply put, your being a leader!  We need more people who learn the truth and do the right thing regardless of how hard it is.  The right thing isn’t ever to go along with it or pretend.  Anyway wow what a nice moment to see an unbeliever who did the right thing and is unafraid to lead.  I think followership is so engrained in the cult that most find it near impossible citing all the excuses about what they will lose like family, jobs, friends, fellowship, and how weak that is.  How totally loseristic that is.  Thanks for being a leader!

    1. Steve,

      I appreciate your praise and hope to some day live up to it. I have come out to my family. The bishop, the state presidency, and a few others know of my disbelief. I no longer accept callings and I don’t tithe. It took me too long to get to this point. In many ways I’ve felt cowardly before I told my family of my disbelief. Dustin and others like him are leaders who inspire me to do better.

      Thanks,

      Zack

  34. Just last week our ward baptized another black member.  As she was getting confirmed I had to wonder if anyone had spoken to her, and those before her, about the priesthood ban and the Church’s history with black people.  I had a hard time knowing that conversation most likely didn’t take place.  It is a sad reality most black people I have seen get baptized in my wards go inactive rather quickly. I wonder how many of them discover the Church’s relatively recent history in how it has dealt with blacks.  It just makes me sad.  I wish the Church would just officially denounce the past statements and put this to rest, so saints both black and white can start to heal.

  35. As a gay man, one of the things that helped me out of the church was the way the supposed inspired leaders of the church have treated gay people. They are obviously speaking as men ALL THE TIME, because they simply can’t have any guidance from a God. A God wouldn’t get it wrong so often.

    I find it difficult to understand how Dustin can still believe enough of Mormonism to remain a member. After all the angst and stress Dustin has been through, the realization seems to still escape him; that it all goes away once you acknowledge that Mormonism is a human creation. This is what helped me stop hating myself. Mormonism is not a creation of a Heavenly Father. It does not speak for a Heavenly Father. It in fact teaches the things a father would NOT teach his children.

    Dustin, you don’t have to prove anything to the Mormon “God”. No one does. The Mormon God does not exist, for no God would ever act in such a way.

    1. Hmmm…  The natural man is an enemy to God.  God becomes an enemy to the natural man.  The natural man quits believing in God so God can go away.

        1. Ozpoof,

          Just wanted to chime in on this to support you. I found JCH’s response to your comment amazingly condescending. I think his response is a sad example of the “natural man”. His is the kind of thinking all too often fostered by the LDS Church. His own words best demonstrate how insensitive he is and how far removed he is from any all-loving god.

          Best wishes,

          Zack

    2. I 100% Agree OZpoof poor dustin is living in a False world and looks like he cant get away, his podcast was very touching though. Is he also Gay and hiding that as well or just a man who cant accept that the Church is False and so is the GOD. Are you confused Brother Dustin?

  36. The fact is that it’s a sacrifice of major proportions to stand for truth and leave.  Instead they choose to stay and pretend, and live the life of a hypocrite.  It is unfortunate and sad.  There is even a growing group for these people, evidence that they know it’s false yet pretend and stay.  Also unfortunate is that they expose their children and maybe even generations of children to the same difficulty and emptiness they now face by living as they do.  If you asked one a simple question: “You have worked for X company for 15 years, but learned they are defrauding people, hurting people, and there is a Federal inquiry into the company…your family and your future professional life may be at stake if you stay. what will you do?  They answer “leave” without a second thought.  Truth be said, past performance is the best indicator of….  We all know these same people would go down with the boat because of their fear of leaving X company.  Their argument of course is that it would hurt their Mommie or Daddy and so on, the same can be applied to leaving X company, say their Daddy started X company for instance.  My point is simply there are leaders and their are followers in this world. Some have courage to stand for truth and what is right and some don’t.  Should we hate them?  Nope.  Should we pretend with them it’s okay?  Well that isn’t leadership.  The only thing worse for me as an exMormon are the people who know it is a lie and stay and lie to themselves and others about why?  If you stay and know it is a lie, then simply accept that your a hypocrite (go see the definition), and that your okay living a lie, and fine with that impacting others.  Admit your irresponsible and shut up and follow.  At least a “naive Mormon” truly believes in themselves and what they are doing!  And ex-Mormons well these people were living what they believed, no shame, then when they learned the reality, did what a decent person does, worked through it, then left. These are the victims of Mormonism.  These are the people with real courage whose stories we used to find on Mormon Stories.

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  38. Dustin,
    Thanks so much for sharing your story, really it was heart-wrenching and infuriating.  So powerful in many ways.  It is a huge loss for members and the Church that you are not in a leadership position.  I agree with your comments about the Church continuing a similiar pattern with same-sex marriage.  The leadership in our Stake decided it was appropriate to teach “The Six Consequences if Prop 8 Fails” to adults and youth 12 yrs and up, during the 3rd hour of Church one Sunday, I presume to every ward in the Stake.   I sat mostly in stunned silence except for pointing out that Canada doesn’t have the same constitution as the U.S.  The document didn’t pass the “smell” test and, of course, once we did our own independent research we found it to be deeply flawed and even false.  My husband was serving in the Bishopric and took his(our) concerns to the Bishop.  No response.  So we then discussed it with the Stake presidency member who taught it.  He was very sympathetic to our concern, showed us the correspondence they had received, that it had been a suggestion by an area authority as appropriate material. He even went with us into the foyer and removed the handouts and told us they would forward our conerns “up the chain.”    Although we hoped there would be a public retraction of the material, we thought it was probably unlikely.  Two or three weeks went by and essentially the same material (with one change) was handed out to men as they left a Stake Priesthood meeting.  A week or two before the election the Stake President called us in to inform us the material was not going to be used any longer  because in a phone meeting with the higher ups it was deemed “divisive” (they alluded to Morris Thurston’s critque).   We found out that they had been instructed to make it “quietly go away.”  My husband ended up resigning his position in the Bishopric and has been reluctant to accept any new callings.  I think you are correct when you say that it isn’t enough for the Church to just change course and not admit that errors were made.  I don’t know what our long term future relationship with the Church will be. We’ve been life-long members, pioneer stock, descedent of a prominent apostle.  We’ve had to correct erroneous information taught to our children on several occasions.  The Church should set the record straight.    

  39. One more comment. 
    The Church needs to set the record straight because it never just “goes away.”  The false teachings/mistakes such as African-Americans were less valiant–can still be taught in homes and passed on to future generations even if it is no longer taught formally in Church. 
    Thanks again Dustin and Natasha for an excellent interview.   

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