The priesthood and temple ban and racism within Mormon contexts impacts LDS people around the world. This week, we feature a report from a Gospel Doctrine class in New Zealand, where the class used Paul Reeve’s resource for teaching Official Declaration 2. Joseph writes:
I had grown up being taught that there were important but unspecified reasons for the ban. An older person in the branch I grew up in had told me the ban was because those with darker skin were fence-sitters in the pre-existence. Fortunately, my parents told me that this was incorrect. The “Race and the Priesthood” essay on the subject was very helpful but I was left with the question of why it took so long to remove the priesthood ban. That was basically the sum of my knowledge about the issue.
The Edward Kimball article, rather than weakening my appreciation for the prophet in light of this sensitive subject, actually strengthened it, as I understood how the prophet struggled with the issue, how he approached it with a completely open mind, and worked to generate a consensus among the apostles. The descriptions of President Kimball being weighed down by the issue and spending long hours in the temple (he was apparently given his own key to slip in after hours) were very poignant.
Our congregation consists mostly of Pacific Islanders. One older sister explained that the priesthood ban was a real struggle for her as she decided whether to join the church. Another brother described how lifting the ban was a huge moment for him while serving his mission in the Philippines. There is one brother from Zimbabwe. I approached him before the lesson to let him know he was free to speak up and share his thoughts if he felt I was going in the wrong direction. We also had a good chat after the lesson.