Latter-day revelation

Byron York, writes at the Corner today about Mitt Romney and the Mormon’s latter-day revelation that blacks really were fully human beings. Since this happened only in 1978 as the result of a revelation to the president of the Latter Day Saints, it raises some questions.

The obvious one is raised by Byron: will Romney admit that the Mormons were in error prior to this 1978 revelation? Was God somehow wrong, either before or after this revelation? Byron writes:

That’s a built-in dilemma of the system; if a church says it is led by revelation, and then says it was wrong, it’s kind of like saying God was wrong.I get the impression that that has put Romney in a very tight box, and is why he is disinclined to say that the church was wrong before 1978. Other churches, and all sorts of other institutions, have admitted being wrong about things in the past and have changed their policies. The general public understands that. But refusing to admit it sometimes rubs people the wrong way.

I’ll say it’s a dilemma. And one that will quickly be exploited by the victimologists who dominate the Democratic Party. Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, there’s no good way to answer prior to him being nominated.

In the Republican ranks, this latter-day revelation reminds us of the cultic nature of the Mormons: hey, here’s a man, LDS President Spencer W. Kimball, living in modern-day Salt Lake City, who claimed a politically advantageous “revelation.” What else might a future LDS president reveal as God’s latter-day truth, which would then be binding on a faithful Mormon who happened to be president?

As for the 1978 “revelation,” this might have had more force had it been made less than 110 years after the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, which mandates that all citizens have equality. In fact, a prophet surely would have been able to receive God’s message that chattel slavery was an insult to the dignity inherent in each human person. Before the Civil War and Amendment XIV, surely?

Mitt Romney gave a wonderful speech about religion and national service the other day. He just didn’t happen to cover much about how the Mormons operate their latter-day, man-made faith.



  1. The founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith did go on record saying that slavery was wrong. The restriction that existed between 1847 and 1978 (Blacks did have full rights before 1847) didn’t have anything to do with blacks not being fully human, any more than the fact that in the Old Testament only descendants of Levi were allowed to enter the priesthood suggested that the rest of Israel wasn’t fully human.

    It’s much more intricate that most people realize.

  2. Alma, that’s not a valid comparison. Yes, the tribe of Levi was privileged (burdened with more stringent laws, actually) by being the priestly class.

    But that was among the ancient Hebrews of more than 3,000 years ago. There are no restrictions based on tribal identity in modern times on who may become a rabbi, although Levites (at least those who can make a valid claim) are afforded some ceremonial honors (e.g. first aliyah to read Torah).

    Our Fourteenth Amendment placed all citizens on an equal footing — at least in theory. To be certain, Mormons were not alone among predominantly white denominations in ignoring that equality. That it took until 1978 should be admitted as a grave error for the LDS by Romney, and all others who value equality under God.

    For what it’s worth, I’ll repeat what I’ve written before: I’ll vote for Mitt Romney if he’s the Republican nominee. That said, I still believe he should admit his church’s error. Then we could all move on to more important issues.

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