BYU professor lambasted for interview

 

BYU Professor Randy Bott, well known for his mission preparation classes, was quoted in the Washington Post Tuesday explaining blacks’ denial of Mormon priesthood until 1978 as an act of God’s discrimination and the blacks’ lack of preparedness.

The article says Bott then went on to compare blacks to a young child asking for the keys to the car.

BYU Spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said in an interview BYU was not aware Bott had spoken to any media.

“Professors are free to speak when it comes to their research and subject,” she said, “but we ask that they do not speak on behalf of the Church or BYU.”

Photo Credit: Brigham Young University

Jenkins neither confirmed or denied rumors of Bott possibly being fired saying, “We are handling it internally.”

Many students were upset including Terrell Wyche, a black BYU graduate.

“I refuse to believe God is discriminatory to anyone,” Wyche stated in a Facebook message in the page of the Provo Peace Forum, “at least not the God I know and love.”

Camlyn Giddins, another a black student currently studying at BYU, said she found little to worry about in it.

“It’s just an opinion, so why should I get mad?” she said.

Of all these voices, however, the one that came down loudest and hardest was that of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In what may have been record time, the Church leaders issued a public response through the LDS/Mormon Newsroom clearly stating Bott’s views were his own.

In fact, when asked to explain his position on the situation, Bott emailed the Student Review with only a link to the press release and the statement: “I have been asked by the Church to forward their response and endorse it. In order to be obedient, that will be the extent of my comment.”

The document reads, “BYU faculty members do not speak for the Church. It is unfortunate that the Church was not given a chance to respond to what others said. The Church’s position is clear—we believe all people are God’s children and are equal in His eyes and in the Church. We do not tolerate racism in any form.”

It then went on to state that there is no officially known reason as to why the priesthood was withheld from blacks.

 

110 comments

  1. Matthew /

    This is pretty typical of what you get from Bott’s class. It’s too bad it took something like this incident for people to become concerned. Bott teaches his version of speculative doctrine like its the absolute truth, and he teaches it to 18 year old kids who are too immature (for the most part) to question his teachings. Maybe after BYU tackles this problem, they can go to work on rooting out rest of the pseudo-doctrine that plagues the university.

    • Isn’t this exactly what happens at LDS meeting houses? Teachers who in most cases have no truely formal education on history, mormon doctirine, apologetics, etc, teaching young kids the Gospel, but in most cases using their own opinions to back up the beliefs. I think the great tragedy of all this is that Bott won’t even back up his own beliefs with historical facts but refers to the church’s response because they told him to respond that way. What a great way to encourage free thinking.

      • Dave /

        All religion and theology is inherently organic, that actually makes it more interesting for many people. It’s important of course to teach clear doctrine and be clear on what is opinion, but if someone teaching religion for 20 years+ holds an opinion on something it’s probably worth listening to for interest’s sake, if not for theology’s.

        My source in Bott’s class said he suggested that he had been deceived into thinking the reporter had the Dean’s permission to interview Bott, that his words were put a bit out of context, and that he was not allowed to review the remarks before publication- I feel sorry for Bott because I’m sure he’d love to clarify his position, I bet it’s not nearly as racist as it’s being painted to be. Must be terribly frustrating to have such a blow at the end of your career and foul your legacy largely due to misunderstanding, and then be asked to stay quiet to let the issue simmer rather than stoke it up by defending yourself.

        There are 1000s of theories of people trying to get inside God’s mind, or Brigham’s, to find the “why” of this question, but frankly none of them matter because we aren’t asked to follow the pre-’78 policy. Bott was probably trying to help the secular reporter see that it wasn’t necessarily human racism on Brigham’s part (ie that Mormons aren’t racist and religion isn’t inherently evil), and that it had analogous precedent by Jesus himself, when the apostles were told to preach to Jews only, at first. Reporter than sees a possibility for a blockbuster story, spins it up to sound nice ‘n racist, and there goes the Mormon-misunderstanding avalanche again.

      • David /

        Yes this happens, but I do not think it is the majority of the time and thankfully those class members have the Holy Spirit that will guide them to truth as well as the misguided teacher. As for historical facts, sometimes things are just not understood because we do not have all the information. Professor Bott chose to follow the direction of the church because he believes them to be men call and led by God; therefore, they are trustworthy. It is an act of faith in Christ. As someone who has taught in a religious setting and having received training, I know the church encourages everyone to ask questions and to pray; however, no one except the Prophet of God can speak for the church, period.

  2. Courtney /

    I don’t at all agree with what Professor Bott said, but I wish that we would stop being such a whistle-blowing group of people as we’ve had such a wonderful opportunity recently to show the world what the LDS Church really believes. Of course, Bott’s quoted ideas are not what we believe in… we don’t stand for racism, pride, or “ethnic superiority” in the least bit, I just think it would be nice if we could be recognized more for the good that we’re doing around the world, in our homes and communities. I know that’s not the kind of news that sells, but I’m tired of hearing about petty honor code “violations” or planned protests against one man’s ideas. Those stories make us look like we’re falling apart. Let’s be better than that. Why don’t we spend that time and energy doing something that will actually build and unite us, and bring the world closer to Christ instead of just helping them continue to believe that we’re ridiculous? Let’s actually touch people’s lives and do something that lasts for longer than a day on the newsstand. I think that would help the Church’s standing among individuals and communities more than ostracizing one individual for an erroneous opinion that he voiced. Just because we don’t have a huge public protest and demand that people lose their jobs over this does not mean that we agree with the ideas that were stated, it simply means that we can be better than that. People aren’t going to believe that we think any differently than the rest of the world does until we stop hating others and actually go out and teach through service and love.

    • If you think that people outside our church hearing about students organizing a protest against racists comments is somehow more HARMFUL than “the most popular professor of 2008″ MAKING racists comments on behalf of the school than I don’t know what to tell you. I think you’re mistaken. I’m already preparing my responses for my upcoming medical school interviews. If they ask about this, the ONLY way that I’ll even have a chance of them taking me seriously is if I tell them how I helped organize and participate in protests. The REAL WORLD respects standing up for human rights and attempting to make positive changes in the community. Please don’t disrespect the sincere efforts of those of us who realize the severity of what happened and who want to make BYU a better, more respected university.

      • Spud /

        The “real world”? What and who is that, and why does the Church and/or BYU NOT qualify?

        • Ultimate Lithium /

          Failure to follow normal standards of human decency and yet totally obsessed with beards and leggings ring a bell, SPUD?

    • Vinniecat /

      Courtney, Bott’s comments represent something deeper in our church. Where do you think his ideas came from? From what was taught in Sunday Schools before the ban, from what I sometimes still hear in my Sunday School classes, from messages still contained in the YM and YW manuals. We need to bury these policies and folklore, but the only way that will happen is by specific direction from the leadership of the church. I don’t hate Bott, but I’m frustrated that as an institution we have not equivocally declared such folklore to be false, as was done with the doctrine/folklore of blood atonement, as we need to have done with the doctrine/folklore of polygamy.

      • When will members see the reality of this? This is not folklore!! It was through “revelation” that prophets of the church before 1978 stated that blacks would never recieve the priesthood and were the decendants of cain! Now members are up in arms about it because they don’t agree with it?? Do they give you a multiple choice questionaire to fill out when you join the church, asking which teachings you will accept and which ones you don’t agree on? My own parents don’t and never agreed with polygamy and the stance on blacks, yet it was doctirine of the church!

        • Apples /

          It was never doctrine, it was policy. And in my opinion a very unfortunate and misinformed policy. It was never a direct revelation from God. It was never doctrine. The interpretation of the descendants of Cain scripture is false. In fact, Joseph Smith gave black men the priesthood. There’s a very big difference between the revelation of polygamy and the unfortunate policy of black people not receiving the priesthood. I don’t agree with either but you simply cannot equate the two. And neither of them should be swept under the rug.

          • That’s cute. So instead of saying you get to pick and choose what is doctrine and what isn’t you pick and choose between what is doctrine and what is policy, as if that justifies it’s usage.

            It’s convenient that you can use the same argument for every historical and factual flaw isn’t it? They acted as men and not prophets.

            Yet when you introduce the “doctrinal” statement that you will never be lead astray, it makes you wonder what this deal is, how people could be taught that at the time, have it be inherent to their belief structure, and they weren’t ‘led astray’.

            The same thing applied to Brigham Young and the Journal of Discourses.

            At this point you are either completely unaware of your church history, or nearing the equivalent of Stockholm Syndrome by justifying errors, discrimination, and abuse of the very tenements of humanity much less civil rights to help further your relationship with said abuser.

          • Well stated. Too many people miss the difference people doctrine and policy. This church is the MOST correct of any on the earth. It is led by men inspired by God. Unfortunately, certain leaders in the church felt this way about blacks and the priesthood. It then became POLICY to not.

  3. Stirling /

    Tamarra, thanks for quickly putting together this article. I, like many others, am anxious for any news on this matter. If fliers are created, or if there is a protest, it would be great to hear about that, too (and see photos).

  4. Can’t wait for Josuha’s apologetics here.

    • Joshua /

      So as not to disappoint Orwell…
      Someone speculated, it was taken as official when it wasn’t, the Church clarified, end of story.
      As far as why the priesthood was ever denied to anyone at any time it’s not our priesthood so it’s none of our business. Let God do what he will with his own power and authority. There was a day when only the tribe of Levi could hold the priesthood. Why? We don’t know. Does it matter? Not if you believe that God acts in our best interest.
      By the way, it’s Joshua, like in the Bible, not Josuha.

  5. Brother Bott spouting pseudo-doctrine? Coming from the guy that once implied a celestial resurrection is the only way to keep our reproductive organs, this doesn’t surprise me. I’m pretty sure there are other examples of Brother Bott pseudo-doctrine that we heard a naive greenie or haughty AP repeat. He is a Bruce R. McKonkie-esque figure for our generation. A man of sincere testimony, preaches true doctrine 90% of the time, but he’ll go down in history for that unfortunate 10%. I hopes he migrates to a local Institute to save BYU the embarrassment while still allowing him inspire future missionaries with his testimony and mostly true gospel teachings.

  6. Ann-Michelle /

    We, students at BYU, should be mad. Furious. Not only are the comments insufferable and misrepresentative, but we should get mad because our professional reputations can/will be affected by having BYU on our resume’s. When applying for jobs and graduate schools, the last thing we have worked for is a bias that BYU is a harbor for racism, sexism, and homophobia. The image of BYU absolutely matters.

    • In 3 of my 4 medical school interviews so far this year, I spent 90% of the interview talking about Mormonism, trying to convince them I could fit in at their non-religious school. One interviewer flat-out told me that the admissions committee doesn’t think highly of BYU students and that I’d be an exception if I were admitted. This makes my life 10 times harder. You are dead-on correct.

    • g.spencer /

      Well said, Ann-Michelle.
      I agree with this 100%

    • idi.na.khui /

      I’m embarrassed to go to BYU for those same reasons.
      Don’t get me wrong, I love my major and recognize that it is one of the best in the country. But that doesn’t mean that the actions and opinions I see around me aren’t disturbing or questionable at best.

      • By all means give up your spot at BYU to one who is not embarrass. Will you also be embarrassed to wear the name of Christ when the world becomes up in arms against the Church as a whole? That day will come. I garuntee BYU administration would feel the same way as I do about someone who is embarrassed to attend.school there.

    • Michael /

      But I thought BYU was (for the most part) a harbor for racism, sexism and homophobia, and i’ll add, unchallenged conservative dogma. no?

    • Isaac /

      Amen Sista!

    • Cry Me A River /

      Reference my name. You too Al.

  7. I don’t support what Bro. Bott said, but I think it’s unfortunate that he’s being thrown under the bus for something that was clearly taught by the church in the past.

    When the church and Carrie J. say that faculty members “do not speak on behalf of the church,” one has to wonder who DOES speak on behalf of the church… The PR department?? They seem to be the only people speaking “on behalf of the church” lately.

    Certainly past prophets and apostles HAVE spoken about Blacks and the priesthood, and Bro. Bott was faithfully following what they taught. Let’s hear a prophet prophesy for goodness’ sake.

    • Bruce /

      No one “threw Professor Bott under the bus”. Like a heedless child, he ran out in front of the bus and got run over. He is a grown up. He knew better…or he surely should have known better than to speculate on this issue to a major news outlet.

      The doctrine of the Church is contained in the Standard Works…that is why we they have that name. The Standard Works are silent on the issue of African blacks and why they were denied the priesthood. We just don’t know. All the rest, all the explanations are just speculation and opinion…and they don’t belong in his BYU classroom and certainly not as the words of someone who would be seen, as he must have know, to be speaking for the Church.

      He was not “faithfully following” what has been taught by apostles and prophets, because they have consistently said we don’t know. If an explanation of that practice or any new doctrine were ever given to a prophet, it would be first sustained by the Twelve and then presented to the membership of the Church in General Conference. This has happened in my lifetime with Sections 137 and 138 and Official Statement 2. So Professor Bott was off base–way off base. And he fully deserved the rebuke he got.

      As to who speaks for the Church, the Prophet does. But if his expressions go beyond the doctrine set forth in the Standard Works, we may know that they are his opinions. New doctrine, beyond that clearly set forth in the Standard Works, will be submitted by the President of the Church to the Twelve and then to the membership.

      Learn to say “I don’t know”. That is hard for everyone, and apparently especially hard for professors. But it is the right thing to say much of the time.

      • Matt Howard /

        I find it interesting that students at a Mormon University have no idea what was consistently taught for years from the pulpit and in priesthood and sunday school manuals. It is dishonest to just dismiss this as Brigham Young’s personal racist policy.

        It is true the Church no longer teaches this, as your justifiable outrage aptly demonstrates. However, you are NOT members of the pre-1978 Church. Have any of you asked your parents what they were taught justified the ban on black priesthood holders? Bott didn’t just make this stuff up.

        It is true that many members came to feel very uncomfortable with the Church’s position, but if they did, they certainly didn’t out themselves at Church. It was just as unacceptable and “wrong” to question the leaders about this policy as it currently would be to openly question the Church’s policy on gay marriage in a sunday school class. Want to know more?– google it.

  8. No “officially” known reason. Enough said.

  9. Rick /

    Whether or not Prof. Bott was misrepresented, I think we should all take this as an opportunity to reevaluate our understanding and dedication to the Gospel. I have been following this topic since I heard about it this morning, and even though I know why so, so many people are up in arms about this, I find it sad there is no room for mercy. We are all so quick so judge, wanting justice, not remembering justice is God’s.

    The Church has stated that the priesthood ban was policy, not doctrine. Times changes; mankind is fallen; we are separated from God- before we demand everything be done perfectly by Church leaders (not to mention a university professor), why not take the time to look at the beam in your own eye? Some might say that racism is hardly a “mote” – and they are absolutely correct. Let’s just be civil about this and avoid ecological fallacies – the Church is not racist because Randy Bott might be. I have read so many mean-spirited at nasty comments about the Church today on the web over this. Nobody wants to understand.

    Besides, hindsight is always 20/20- do we not understand that past racism in the Church probably just came because leaders were products of their times? I’m glad society has moved on from racism…let’s stop digging up the past and pouring salt in the wounds.

    • I don’t understand how you don’t see that the rest of the world won’t dissociate this from the church’s opinions vs. Bro. Bott’s opinions. Graduate school’s won’t “have mercy” on you as a BYU student when they think “the most popular teacher at BYU” teaches racists rhetoric. No. They say to themselves, “Wow, BYU voted this guy the most popular teacher at BYU and this is the type of stuff he teaches. This must mean most of BYU approves of his opinions. I don’t want someone like that at my school.” You’re oversimplifying this, saying that “the church is not racists because brother Bott might be.” No one outside of religious department at BYU is going to see it that way. That’s why we’re in arms. Not because we can’t forgive people, but because we know how incredibly easy it would have been for him to not say anything on the subject, or to utilize the media policy of the school, or to refer them to the official statements of the church. He made a HUGE mistake, and if the school brushes it under the carpet, it will take HUGE steps back in its academic reputation.

      • Dave /

        I’m not a Fox fan, don’t get me wrong, but it’s really impossible to win a public opinion war when people distrust your direct statements and the only source they trust, the media, loves nothing more than to make religion seem either backward, tumultuous/violent, crazy, or some mix of the 3. If BYU were to tell professors not to talk to media, media would have a cow over it and say we’re archaic and nobody can think for themselves. If they let the professors talk, sooner or later something will be said that can be misconstrued and spun as a controversial blockbuster.

        Bott has an ego, yes, but he probably was sincerely trying to help the reporter see an idea other than the “mormons are racist, they just had the policy till 78 because their geriatric leaders were scared of dark skin” idea they reporter likely came with. Bott wanted said reporter to realize that God “discriminated” against non-levites in the OT and initially against gentiles in the NT, and that the policy wasn’t unprecedented, just misunderstood. Of course it backfired, the reporter probably led Bott into a verbal trap, and now we all suffer.

        The real question, and sorry now I’m just ranting, is why do they get away with reporting one phrase of “maybe” said once by one non-official old guy in one city and turn it into national news, but seldom/never report on the heartfelt and helpful things that tens of thousands of Mormons in thousands of cities sacrifice their time to say every day. If 90% of articles about mormonism replaced “mormon” with “jew”, and gave the subject similar treatment, the author would get fired. The media have been in a habit of defining us wrongly ever since upstate new york, will they ever stop?

      • Doubtful /

        I will be surprised if any of the graduate schools I apply to give a damn about this. Stop blaming BYU for your difficulties in getting accepted to medical school just because you were a borderline applicant.

  10. Jordan /

    “… In order to be obedient, that will be the extent of my comment.” What? Who speaks like that? “In order to be obedient.” How about, “in order to respect their wishes” or “to comply with BYU policy.” I guess that’s what you get when the first law of heaven is “obedience.” Sigh.

    • Dave /

      That’s how you speak when you’re very frustrated but still have self-control. I respect Bott for being willing to stay quiet and let the fire simmer rather than speak up and defend himself, which would undoubtedly bring new headlines like “BYU professor defends racist remarks” and just make things worse. I’m sure there are things he’s dying to say to explain his comments, but instead he holds off at the Church’s request and manages to teach an undervalued principle while he’s at it.

      His willingness to let himself go down in history as racist, most likely wrongfully, rather than cause the Church more trouble, really is worthy of some respect. I see it more as classy than as blind, and I’d be more likely to clap than sigh, though the whole event mostly makes me want to cry.

  11. Kahran /

    “It then went on to state that there is no officially known reason as to why the priesthood was withheld from blacks.”

    Oh, silly LDS PR Department. You aren’t fooling anyone. It is adorable that you think if you ignore the past people will forget about it, though.

    Way to take responsibility. Every day you embarrass yourselves further.

    • “there is no officially known reason as to why the priesthood was withheld from blacks”

      But this is absolutely correct. I don’t understand your point. Are you meaning that the real reason was adoption of the cultural norms of the 1800′s and that they should state that overtly?

      • Kahran /

        It was core doctrine that blacks were less entitled and less deserving. Your naivety doesn’t change history.

        • Shane /

          Core interpretation is different from core doctrine. You should read about it a bit and you’ll see there is a difference. Not trying to be confrontational, just helpful.

      • Ryan /

        If it was really only a policy that mysteriously found itself among us why was a revelation and official declaration needed to correct a policy error?

  12. Randy Pott is being attacked because he’s telling the truth about Mormon doctrine.

    An official statement from the LDS Church First Presidency issued on August 17, 1951, reads:

    “The position of the LDS Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the pre-mortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality, and that while the details of this principle have not been made known, the principle itself indicates that the coming to this earth and taking on mortality is a privilege that is given to those who maintained their first estate; and that the worth of the privilege is so great that spirits are willing to come to earth and take on bodies no matter what the handicap may be as to the kind of bodies they are to secure; and that among the handicaps, failure of the right to enjoy in mortality the blessings of the priesthood is a handicap which spirits are willing to assume in order that they might come to earth. Under this principle there is no injustice whatsoever involved in this deprivation as to the holding of the priesthood by the Negroes…..”

    “Man will be punished for his own sins and not for Adam’s transgression. If this is carried further, it would imply that the Negro is punished or alloted to a certain position on this earth, not because of Cain’s transgression, but came to earth through the loins of Cain because of his failure to achieve other stature in the spirit world.”
    – William E. Berrett’s “The Church and the Negroid People,” pp. 16-17

    Since it’s obvious from this official First Presidency statement that church leaders taught and believed that people are born as Negroes because of their behavior in the pre-existence—

    —as well as being from the lineage of the “accursed” Cain—

    —and the “sign” of Cain’s curse was the black skin and flat nose, according to church leaders—

    —then the fact that Negroes are still being born by the tens of thousands every day tells us that the God of Mormonism has never lifted the “curse of Cain,” despite having the priesthood ban rescinded.

    • Kelli /

      Interesting that you would put the church’s official statement and then cleverly put in a paragraph written by a man who wasn’t an apostle or member of the presidency right after it so that it “looks” like it’s part of the official statement.
      There is nothing in the statement that explains that black people were cursed. The operative word in the statement is “may.” In other words, they really did not know then, and they still don’t now. And..God is in charge.
      It makes your whole statement less credible because you weren’t honest from the beginning.

  13. I think it’s really interesting that Newsroom press releases are assumed to be the opinion of the leaders of the church even in Student Review articles. Why aren’t we hearing a condemnation of racism from our prophet(s)?

  14. Eric /

    i read this today . . .

    “As many of you know, my dad (Randy) has been in the news… The explanation is simple… yes, he did grant an interview to Washington Post to discuss “Mitt Romney”. The reporter told him that he had cleared the interview with BYU and the Dean of Religion – which he found out this morning was a lie. The reporter misquoted and misrepresented the majority of the interview. My dad has been asked by BYU and the church to remain silent, but I feel his side should be told.

    Some have noticed that we have deactivated the Know Your Religion Blog… This was not done as an admittance of guilt, but was done at the request of BYU until things settle down.

    Any of you who personally know my father, know that he is definitely NOT a racist, as the media would have you believe. It amazes me that no one at BYU or the church seem to care to give him the benefit of the doubt, investigate what was really said; instead it seems easier to just believe a liberal Washington Post Reporter, go on “hear-say”, and throw my dad under the bus.

    Here’s hoping that people will take the time, and reflect on their experiences with my dad and judge him according to his works, rather than lies that a reporter makes up to stir the pot during an election season.

    Just thought you should know the truth behind the story… – Ryan Bott”

    • Matthew /

      I have taken Bott’s class, and his comments in the Post mirror what he teaches in his lectures. There is no misrepresentation, this is what he teaches his students.

    • david /

      Reply

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      Eric if the church and BYU have told your dad to be silent about the issue then you need to zip your mouth and seat home if possible and not tell his side of the story for him. They lied but its not your job to tell us that they lied. They always lie but that is why they are called the media and if you are not aware the media only makes the bad news or mistakes into a big news. People do not care about whether the media lied or not but they are more concern about what your dad said so please get yourself some pizza or glass of milk and seat home and do something better ok.

      • Kahran /

        “Eric if the church and BYU have told your dad to be silent about the issue then you need to zip your mouth”

        Get over yourself and your fictional superstitions. Your shameless and brainless devotion is nothing short of embarrassing.

    • Jade /

      So a Washington Post reporter, whose entire career is dependent on credibility, just made up quotes out of thin air? I find that very hard to believe, especially considering Brother Bott has expressed similar views before on his blog and elsewhere. You realize, right, that the reporter would be fired if the Post found out he had made up quotes? Why would he run that risk when legitimate material to “stir up controversy” on the subject is readily available? Maybe the reporter paraphrased things in a way that Brother Bott feels isn’t entirely representative of what he meant, or picked out the most controversial quotes from a long interview of benign ones, but if you’re going to go around slandering another person as a liar, it has better be the absolute truth and not a way of trying to avoid looking bad.

    • Alex /

      I wish I could believe that. How do we know that Ryan Bott isn’t just “misrepresenting” what happened to his father? It seems like just as big a stretch to me.

  15. I will be heart-broken if BYU does not fire or force Bott into early retirement. On the other hand, I will regain an incredible amount of confidence in BYU and the church if he dealt with severely. I’ve heard so many “Bott-isms” over my years at BYU and they make me cringe every time. He’s dangerous. For years, the church has been extremely strict and quick in excommunicating members who publicly state “apostate” information (usually feminist issues or DNA and Book of Mormon studies). How big of a step would it be if someone like Bott is punished for perpetuating racism and bigotry and anti-evolutionary thinking to the thousands of students who take his class? I’m not saying he should be excommunicated, but I fear BYU is going to ride it out, hope the attention dies down, and then give Bott five, 250 seat sections of mission prep next semester.

    • Bott is pushing 70. He’s retiring soon, so leave him alone. No, you say? The crime against humanity must not go unpunished? Okay then, how about we punish everyone with a really big stick who ever does something wrong, or is even accused of doing something wrong? According to what I’m reading here, they don’t have to be guilty, just charged, and the punishment fits the crime. In that case, I accuse you, AL, of incest with your grandmother’s goat! Ha! Now watch as the torches and pitchforks come to get YOU!

      I remember sitting in one of Professor Bott’s classes and hearing him give the church’s official stance on the faith-promoting rumor of the “hush falling across the heavens and all around people will kneel in awe of your glory because you were on the earth when President Hinckley was prophet.” Someone had told me that it was a UVU institute teacher who started the rumor. When I approached him about the guilty person, he told me that the embarrassment this institute teacher was receiving because of the comment, was enough, and that we didn’t need to expose him to the world.
      Now tell me that Brother Bott is not a wise man. And remember that the judgement with which ye judge shall ye also be judged.

    • Bott is pushing 70. He’s retiring soon, so leave him alone. No, you say? The crime against humanity must not go unpunished? Okay then, how about we punish everyone with a really big stick who ever does something wrong, or is even accused of doing something wrong? According to what I’m reading here, they don’t have to be guilty, just charged, and the punishment fits the crime. In that case, I accuse you, AL, of incest with your grandmother’s goat! Ha! Now watch as the torches and pitchforks come to get YOU!

      I remember sitting in one of Professor Bott’s classes and hearing him give the church’s official stance on the faith-promoting rumor of the “hush falling across the heavens and all around people will kneel in awe of your glory because you were on the earth when President Hinckley was prophet.” Someone had told me that it was a UVU institute teacher who started the rumor. When I approached him about the guilty person, he told me that the embarrassment this institute teacher was receiving because of the comment, was enough, and that we didn’t need to expose him to the world.
      Now tell me that Brother Bott is not a wise man. And remember that the judgement with which ye judge shall ye also be judged. Goat effer!

  16. Brem /

    “No officially known reason?” On the one hand I appreciate the Church’s swift response and clear stand against racism. On the other, I am sad they aren’t willing to own up to our history just because it’s not very flattering. There are plenty of statements by former General Authorities on record that would tell us exactly what “reason” they had for withholding the priesthood.

    • Spud /

      Not long after the Revelation on the Priesthood in 1978, Bruce R. McConke, an Apostle, and one of those who was more vocal in some of the ideas the Church says do not reflect it’s doctrine, said the following in a talk at BYU:

      “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

      “We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.

      “It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them.”

      Can we accept him at his word?

      And actually the press release is fairly strong, considering how respectful the Church tries to be of people who did many good things in the past but may not have got one think or another quite right:

      “We condemn racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church.”

  17. In the process of teaching Church History there are many commentaries and statements by former Church leaders to draw from. Brother Bott was no doubt paraphrasing some of these earlier statements and they were taken, reformed, and re-interpreted to look unfavorably upon the Church, without considering the situations at the time. How much in-depth explanation can you really give in a brief interview? The Church has a challenge these days to make the doctrine clear to the masses. If you study scriptures carefully you realize The Lord has always invited all to come unto him and repent. He offers only what people are ready for. The way I see it is that our current leaders are saying the Lord loves all his children equally. If you understand the doctrine, you understand that all will have an equal opportunity at some point in time to receive all the blessings — we cannot attempt to pass judgment on how, when, or why the Lord has withheld blessings from some at certain times. The fact is, at the current time, we do not dwell on or preach about the past necessities. The trouble with trying to make a statement as to “why” anything in the past has been policy will almost always be twisted and will misrepresent the Lord’s true intention. Careful understanding should be given to both Brother Bott and the Church’s statement, and forgiveness for any lack of perfect representation. Again, if you really understand the doctrine and the scriptures, these things should not affect your testimony. Keep in mind too, we rarely can know the whole story behind the news stories and should not jump to conclusions.

  18. Jim H /

    Mitt Romney is facing a lot of criticism right now because when he was at BYU he did not speak out about the racist policies at the school and in the church. Every BYU student should keep this in mind for their own futures. 30 years from now you will still have people asking you if you spoke out against prejudice or stood by silently because you wanted to look loyal to the people in power.

  19. rich /

    BYU alum here. We definitely need to rectify this situation because we need to protect the notoriety of BYU as an educational institution. But to the guy interviewing at med schools and having schools they don’t want Mormons. That is ridiculous. And can’t believe that a school would actually say, “Hmm, we don’t some religious creeds”. That is discrimination.

    I will be graduating from med school in a couple months and honestly, probably 5-10% of my graduating class went to BYU. So at least from my point of view t seems like med schools really like BYU grads.

  20. Trevor /

    Bott may claim his words were misrepresented (and who knows, maybe they were) but his blog (which can be accessed via web caches) contains the exact same views expressed in his blog. I think he’s being disingenuous at best, lying at worst.

  21. David Tinkorang /

    Eric if the church and BYU have told your dad to be silent about the issue then you need to zip your mouth and seat home if possible and not tell his side of the story for him. They lied but its not your job to tell us that they lied. They always lie but that is why they are called the media and if you are not aware the media only makes the bad news or mistakes into a big news. People do not care about whether the media lied or not but they are more concern about what your dad said so please get yourself some pizza or glass of milk and seat home and do something better ok.

  22. Rick /

    We can sit around and pull quotes all day long about racist things Church leaders said. Here’s what Bruce R. McConkie said about the situation after the 1978 revelation:

    There are statements in our literature by the early brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things…. All I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness, and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more. It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year [1978]. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the gentiles.

    Here, he openly admits they were operating under limited light and knowledge. Why do people keep insisting the Church formally repudiate and keep admitting their error? It’s all right here.

    I agree that all members of the Church (myself included) repent, think about what it means to have a living prophet and get in line with it.

    Do you think it was any easier back in the day to follow Moses, Peter or any other biblical prophet?

    • Kahran /

      “Here, he openly admits they were operating under limited light and knowledge.”

      COGNITIVE DISSONANCE MUCH?

      Pathetic.

  23. Steve G. /

    To those defending Bott by quoting pre-1979 statements, you might reread Bruce R McConkie’s atatements just after the ban was lifted. “Forget everything we said before, it was with limited light and understanding”. It really is time to forget the racist teachings and move on. Prophets are fallible. Get over it and get over your current racism.

    • SamSmith /

      “Forget everything we said before . . .”

      Elder McConkie was only giving his uninspired personal opinion as a man and was not speaking as a prophet. So you don’t need to forget anything.

  24. Lazar Wolf /

    What’s wrong? The church used to teach exactly what he said like it was no big deal. Now all of the sudden they’re back pedaling?

    • Ex BYU-I student/religious skeptic. /

      I was raised LDS, served a mission, went to BYU-Idaho. It was at BYU-Idaho that I began to lose my faith. A big part of that was some of the strange garbage being taught by some religion teachers. A teacher who actually writes CES handbooks and manuals. Anyways, I seriously don’t know how any of you can still believe in the church. They’ve completely negated their entire claim of modern prophecy and revelation by now saying that only SOME of the things these past “prophets seers and revelators” said was actually prophecy in spite of these prophets saying that everything they said was, that its the law of God. Here Brigham Young said, “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.”

      Now the church says that is completely wrong. Well how can a religion that’s entire basis is that of revelation and prophecy just pick and choose the things prophets said and deny the other things they said simply because it doesn’t work well for Public Relations?

      I have many problems with the church, and in this case its not as much that Brigham Young and others were very racist, but the fact that the church has disavowed that. The church changes with the world’s opinions and culture changing, I think Truth is and should be absolute, not changing.

      I have my own prophecy, someday in the church women will hold the priesthood and homosexual people will be eternally married in the temple. The church leaders will give the same Bullshit line that Mconkie gave that they “didn’t have the full knowledge yet” WAKE UP PEOPLE, Joseph Smith was a fraud as is your religion.

  25. Bean /

    I don’t like that people are calling what Bott teaches “pseudo doctrine.” He teaches from the scriptures and uses quotes from past prophets and apostles. If what he’s teaching is “pseudo doctrine,” then I have to ask, what is “official doctrine”? Is there even such a thing as official doctrine anymore?

    If you have a problem with what he teaches, then you have a problem with what the church and its leaders have taught. If that’s not what you believe, then maybe you shouldn’t associate yourself with the church anymore.

  26. Neil P Larsen /

    It is my profound hope that the Church will exemplify Christlike love and forgive BYU Professor Randy Bott for his media naiveté and not sacrifice him at the altar of historical revisionism.

    I–and many more Saints–will be deeply saddened if Brother Bott is forced into “retirement” at the end of this school year.

    • I-and many more Saints-will be deeply saddened if Brother Bott is not fired before the end of the semester.

  27. Robert /

    I think this proves a very important point about our culture – even the most knowledgeable figure of authority can have incorrect views on doctrinal matters. We’re all still people when you get down to it, and no matter how kind or loving we might be, all of us are ignorant or just plain wrong about something. As I get older, I’m starting to take things with a grain of salt more often.

  28. Alex /

    Bott really should be let go. Keeping him on as a faculty member sends a message to the public that intolerant, ignorant pseudo-doctrine is taught at BYU and accepted by its student body. As if it isn’t already hard enough for most of us to get jobs right now, Bott had to go and make it that much harder. Shame on him for being thoughtless.

  29. My sentiments echo those of Matthew from 2/29. I took a class from him and was disgusted with his regular interjections of speculative opinion stated as fact. On occasion some students would question him on his opinions and he would become defensive, belittle them, and hide behind revelation as his source. I hope BYU investigates to understand the extent of his questionable teachings and disciplines him accordingly.

  30. wow! gotta love the dialogue. I think the washington Post gave an honest, albeit biased, assessment of our religion and race. As far as the history goes they got it all right. If you read the article you will see that the comments Bro Bott gave are in response to what a “possible” theological reason for the ban might have been. His answers were simply what the prophets of yester year taught as truth. What i got from the article was not that Randy Bott was a racist or bigot but rather a need for we as members of the church to exert a collective voice and speak up about current social issues and how we feel about them. I adamantly disagree with President Packer when he says when the prophets speak the thinking has been done. Never let someone sabotage your God given right to rational thought. I can just envision the panic that ensued in the the CHurch’s PR department after this article was released and average Americans read what Bro Bott had said.
    On a semi related note, it really seems that MORMONs are the most opportunistic religion. When threatened by the federal government adn with almost all leadership in hiding we espouse the MANIFESTO, in the wake of imminent lawsuits we lift the ban on priesthood, in the light of recent scientific developments we change the introduction of BOOK of Mormon, i could also mention the other countless alteration of “the most correct book on earth”, an interesting search might lead you to see just how much are current temple ritual is quite different than revealed to Joseph Smith. This tells me not that we have been “wrong” when it comes to the truth but rather we must reevaluate our perception of truth. It is not concrete, immutable, unchanging as most believing Mormons will testify of on Sundays. Rather it is more like a beautiful painting or novel. It must be looked at, pondered over, laughed at, wept over, and talked about. It is only when we approach the truth in this way will be begin to be set free by it. AS for blacks in the priesthood, the church should just own up and say what needs to be said, apologize for past leaders remarks, and move on.

  31. David /

    I think that the President Monson should lay down the doctrine on the matter so that people like Bott don’t have to speculate anymore. In my mission, other elders were always digging up old quotes by Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Joseph Fielding Smith that were very racist and that supported Bott’s point. The church has never officially renounced or explained these statements. In fact, the church response said that they don’t know why, how, or when the priesthood ban was put into place. (Actually, LDS historians do know the answers to all these questions, but that is beside the point). How can they not know? Isn’t that what modern revelation is for? They should be able to find out if they really wanted to…

    • Well said, which is EXACTLY why I’ve come to the conclusion that the LDS religion is a crock of horse shit. The people are generally friendly, the church does good things. But it IS NOT “the only way to return to heavenly father” I was mad when i studied the REAL history of the church to find out I had been taught a very biased watered down history to cover up the strange and racist past. I remember being appalled at a South Park Episode showing Joseph Smith translating the BoM by putting his head in a top hat. I proceeded to ask my Doctrine and covenants teacher at BYU-I about it only to find out that was TRUE. The church is filled with crap like this. One thing I can say with confidence is that I have been a much happier person ever since I stopped worrying so much about “living the gospel” and started living MY OWN LIFE.

  32. Hoist /

    He only said what the church has been teaching for decades. There are tons of LDS hearing about this and thinking, “but…but that’s what we believe isn’t it?” Instead of being mad at Bott, be mad that the membership in general has received no guidance from leadership on the reasons for past racism until this urgent rebuttal was needed in the face of a media explosion. Be mad that this statement came now from HQ instead of from over the pulpit years and years ago.

  33. Jack Hughes /

    “It is better that one man should perish than that a nation should dwindle and perish in unbelief.”

    Using a position of academic and spiritual trust to promote unsubstantiated folk doctrines and “spiritual twinkies” is abuse, and a religion professor like him should be going to great lengths to avoid even the slightest perception of teaching false doctrine. The university and the Church would be justified in publicly terminating Bott, in disgrace.

    Many prominent church members of the pre-1978 era used the policy to justify their own outdated racist attitudes (and vice versa). Bott and others like him convinced themselves of these lies in order to help themselves sleep better at night, perpetuating discriminatory attitudes within the Church and criticism from without. Though it came out two years before I was born, from what I understand the vast majority of the church membership breathed a collective sigh of relief when the Official Declaration was delivered (and thus was quietly conflicted in the years preceding it), but there were probably at least a few who were quietly indignant after the policy was changed. Bott most likely falls into the latter category. Unfortunately, ideas like this will probably persist until another generation passes.

  34. Michael /

    I think a missing question is why did the WashPo single out Bott? Did they know something of his pseudo-doctrine reputation. Were they looking for the response he gave them? Could they not have interviewed any of the other progressive and media-savvy professors on campus? It’s a shame he said what he said, and BYU professors have lost their jobs for a lot less (personal opinions on gay marriage anyone?), so he should definitely be let go but it’s too bad it couldn’t have been a moment where a prominent member of the church (speaking independently from the church) gave an authentic answer closer to the tightly scripted response the church released this morning.

    • Trevor /

      Bott’s personal Q&A blog had similar racist views, so if the reporter was looking for that perspective, maybe that’s how he found Bott.

  35. Julie /

    From the majority of comments below, it would appear that this Washington Post writer achieved exactly what he was hoping for. How very tragic.

  36. Is it a shock to any church goer that the majority of people in our church or any church have been taught or had to tolerate teachings that are false? It isn’t the first time I’ve heard someone share their OPINION as to why non-whites couldn’t have the priesthood, I’m sure it won’t be the last.
    I think that it would be difficult to be a member of the LDS church as a non white person, or anyone who doesn’t fit the very strict mold that certain member’s, not the church, humanisticaly set up as a barricade to outsiders, be it skin color, financial status, appearance, number of children, temple attendance, or marriage status. Christ accepts all when he says, “come unto Me.” I think this topic makes it appropriate to commend those people who battle their personal trials in order to come closer to Christ. Brother Bott shouldn’t be treated too harshly given that his statements have been some what tolerated by the church for the majority of his lifetime.

  37. JediJD /

    Speaking as a BYU alumn, I think that Randy Bott is a product of his environment. If you teach Mormon doctrine for a living, eventually you have to start making things up. There’s just not enough real Mormon doctrine to fill an entire academic career. Bott, like the rest of the BYU religion department, must embellish.

  38. Didn’t Elder McConkie say the following? Google his talk “All are Alike Unto God.”

    There are statements in our literature by the early Brethren which we have interpreted to mean that the Negroes would not receive the priesthood in mortality. I have said the same things, and people write me letters and say, “You said such and such, and how is it now that we do such and such?” And all I can say to that is that it is time disbelieving people repented and got in line and believed in a living, modern prophet. Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world.

    We get our truth and our light line upon line and precept upon precept. We have now had added a new flood of intelligence and light on this particular subject, and it erases all the darkness and all the views and all the thoughts of the past. They don’t matter any more.

    It doesn’t make a particle of difference what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978. It is a new day and a new arrangement, and the Lord has now given the revelation that sheds light out into the world on this subject. As to any slivers of light or any particles of darkness of the past, we forget about them. We now do what meridian Israel did when the Lord said the gospel should go to the Gentiles. We forget all the statements that limited the gospel to the house of Israel, and we start going to the Gentiles.

  39. bcspace /

    The notion that blacks were not ready (or that members of the Church were not ready for blacks) is certainly not doctrine. However, the fact that God has discriminated between lineages with regards to the priesthood and that such justifies the pre 1978 ban is official LDS doctrine:

    Ever since biblical times, the Lord has designated through His prophets who could receive the priesthood and other blessings of the gospel. Among the tribes of Israel, for example, only men of the tribe of Levi were given the priesthood and allowed to officiate in certain ordinances. Likewise, during the Savior’s earthly ministry, gospel blessings were restricted to the Jews. Only after a revelation to the Apostle Peter were the gospel and priesthood extended to others (see Acts 10:1–33; 14:23; 15:6–8).

    http://www.lds.org/study/topics/priesthood-ordination-before-1978?lang=eng

    • SamSmith /

      That’s not official LDS doctrine BCSpace. That’s just the personal opinion of who ever wrote that web page.

  40. I can’t believe people are defending him with “He’s not a racist. Those weren’t his words. Washington Post is lying.”

    Where there’s smoke there’s fire. I suppose they think the Washington post made up that cute little ditty about Blacks being like little children asking for their fathers car keys immaturely? PLEASE! That’s got “anecdotal Mormon parable” written all over it! That little story alone is enough to write off Bro. Bott’s statements as being ignorant.

    When he says he was misrepresented, what he means is that he didn’t realize how sheltered and un-examined his opinions were among the naive Mormon pre-missionaries he teaches. Let’s not pretend politically correct at BYU matches politically correct in the real world. I’m glad he experienced this head-on clash with reality. If he had gotten at least one of his degrees at a school outside of Utah he might have learned some honest self-reflection earlier.

    I don’t mean to write off everyone at BYU or from Utah (I go to BYU). There’s plenty of us who have learned how to interact with the non-Mormon world and I’m glad so many are taking a stand against the pervading ignorance here in the valley.

  41. Miguel Montes /

    The ignorance reflected in Bott’s statement are scary in light of his position as a professor and “teacher” to young impressionable minds. Any LDS member can easily punch holes in this person’s theory regarding “blacks” not being able to hold the priesthood. I will state just one. Tongans, Samoans, Maori’s are blacker than many African-Americans and yet they have held the priesthood long before the ban was lifted.

    Therefore, Bott’s logic deserves to be thrown into the trash heap of other teachings that were manufactured by other bigots Mormon or not.

    As far as I am concerned, Bott was given keys to the professorship’s “car” despite not being deserving. It’s time for this person to be retired and sent on a mission to Nigeria where he can learn how to walk versus driving, because he sure did lose his way.

  42. Jason W /

    So much to be said here. Both KAHRAN and SAMSMITH (ctrl+f) reference the very important larger issues surrounding Brother Bott’s experience: theological diversity within the church, cognitive dissonance, and the difficulty in defining “official doctrine,” if such a thing exists. Two great posts on this topic:

    http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Perils-of-an-Open-Canon-Benjamin-Park-03-02-2012.html
    http://mormonmatters.org/2008/01/15/the-only-truly-creedless-church-on-the-face-of-the-whole-earth/

    For those who don’t care to read the above posts (you should; they’re short), I’ll summarize/paraphrase them here.

    1. Bott’s statements were merely recitations of ideas previously offered by LDS leaders, including some members of First Presidencies past. Although the priesthood restriction was lifted, the ideas were never specifically repudiated.
    2. Mormons believe “all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” However, oftentimes what God “has revealed” contradicts what He “does now reveal.” A common response is to simply dismiss the past teaching — which was once accepted as doctrine — as fallible opinion, thus accommodating for the contradiction and accepting the new teaching as true instead (cognitive dissonance).
    3. But what’s to say that the present teaching — now accepted as doctrine — won’t be overturned in some future revelation, and deemed opinion as the previous one was? How does one reconcile this? How do we ever know when someone is speaking ‘as a prophet’ or not? What makes something ‘official?’ What makes a statement today more credible than a statement yesterday by someone holding the same office? How does revelation/inspiration factor into this?
    4. If prophets of the past have already declared definitive teachings to be true, must current and future prophets maintain those same truths as binding? If the prophet today proclaims new doctrine, what does that mean for past prophets who taught conflicting ideas and for future prophets who must perceivably follow that same trajectory?
    5. How can one know if present practices are God’s will when the future could bring something drastically different, and how does one contextualize different beliefs of the past when they were voiced by prophetic leaders?
    6. Those who claim a closed canon can dismiss historic problems, like racism, as mistakes made by fallible members who misinterpreted the scriptures. Mormons, however, are left to further engage these practices and ideas because they were introduced by those supposedly part of the prophetic canon.

    Without making this post TOO much longer (I was going to discuss the fierce apostolic disagreements in the NT, the Roberts/Talmage/Fielding-Smith quarrel regarding evolution, the truths of Genesis 1 revealed and allowed to co-exist within the false framework of the Enuma Elish…yeah, I got a little carried away), the bottom line is this:

    God allows, and has always allowed theological diversity to exist among his people. He reveals core, salvific elements of the gospel but leaves many false, lingering ancillary teachings uncorrected. He’s worked that way since the time of the Israelites. We’re ALWAYS operating under limited light and knowledge, yet sadly we — including prophets and apostles, at times — insist on dogmatizing about issues on which the Lord has chosen to remain silent. We as a people would be wise to do less doctrinal speculation and focus more on the central aspects of the gospel: humility, love and service. Let’s stop filling in the blanks on behalf of the Lord.

    • Thanks, brother – I’ve been waiting for someone to really look at why Mormon “Theology,” with a capital T, is not quite a real thing, though we like to think it is. We do have a magisterium, and a very good one if I might say so, but most things teaching ideas outside the official scriptures can be looked upon as (usually) well informed but not necessarily correct.

      The Jews have a wonderful little self-deprecating saying, “where there are two Jews, there are three opinions,” and I love that. That’s what we are like (or should be like) as a church, especially in the upper echelons (that evolution debate is fun stuff), but sometimes we forget because a human’s standard MO is to take the easy road and become dogmatic so thinking becomes less necessary. Conflict, ambiguity, cognitive dissonance – these are all important parts of a thinking, praying person’s internal make-up. I don’t fault the Church or the church for the vagaries, and I honestly hope we have many more instances like this so that we can realize how few things really matter in life or salvation, and how much focusing on those simple things matters for happy life and afterlife.

  43. Woody /

    All of these different opinions are interesting and sometimes humorous. But let’s take what the official Church statement is at it’s face because everything else is irrelevant as to what the Church’s true position is.

  44. What Bott said of blacks was exactly what the church taught as doctrine while in my youth through my years at BYU. (I’m 55) Botts life being lived in an odd Mormon bubble of like minded bigots, doesn’t know the most important doctrine of the LDS faith . . . When any Mormon doctrine gets exposed for what it is, just pretend it never existed and never talk of it again and maybe it will all go away. The churchs response to this is horrible . . . We don’t know how or when our bigotry started? Not to foreget they’ve never acknowledge it was wrong in the first place (prior to 1978) and why all those prophets of God prior to 1978 got it so wrong! Some God is suppose to be talking to those guys. And believe me . . . The bulk of the members 45 years old and older belive the bigotry toward blacks was the right doctrine. They just won’t say it outside the “bubble”.

  45. Danny /

    I’m rather surprised that Randy Botts is being so openly criticized for his “speculation” on this matter. I must have misunderstood the churches stance on Joseph Fielding Smith’s standing in the church when he published Answers to Gospel questions, through Deseret book company. I am refering specifically to volume 5 p 162. This Doctrine was not speculated by Botts, it was taught quite commonly in the days before 1978, and was well understood as doctrine. The lack of knowledge on this subject astounds me. There was a time when the book of mormon also said white and delightsome people when the lamanites were converted to the church, in 3rd Nephi. It now reads pure and delightsome. Argue the facts with facts if you will. Whether you agree or not, it’s what the prophets of the lds church taught for quite some time, therefor Botts should not be attributed alone to this statement, he stood on this knowledge under the fact and understanding that it was doctrine, and taught most adimently during much of his time growing up. Condemn him along with Joseph and Brigham because they taught this first.
    Ignore what was taught, or accept the facts. This was taught. I understand the stance of the church now, this does not change the past however.

  46. Roger /

    If letting professors go for publishing the truth about Paul H. Dunn’s faith-building fables can be justified, certainly Bott’s release can be merited.

  47. SamSmith /

    Word at the Religion Department water cooler: Bro. Bott will be 66 this year, past full Soc. Sec. retirement age for someone born in 1945, and will quietly retire before the end of the calendar year, after over 25 years of teaching at BYU, as an associate professor never having achieved a full professorship.

  48. As I former BYU student, I was taught exactly what Randy Bott taught.
    As a missionary, my companion and I met a white Spanish lady married to a black man. They came to one Mormon Sacrament meeting, and the Stake President who was also present, called my companion and me into his office where we were reprimanded for bringing a black man to church.
    If Randy Bott were so far off in his teachings, why was he not told that bygones are bygones. However, there is much more to this whole story, and students, do some research and prayerfully search for truth. You will find it.

  49. dear god thank you for the student review and that this conversation happened somewhere. A year ago there was nowhere like this for students to have real dialogue on campus issues.

    If I could add my two cents, I think we need to be careful of the extremes here. Brother Bott is a good man. I’ve sat in his classes, and although i don’t agree with his somewhat old-school worldview, I can see that he cares about his students and about learning what god wants him to do. It’s not really fair to come down on him for where he stands. His “racism” is the product of McConkie-era conservative intellectualism in church scholarship, not some deep-seated ill-will or vileness.

    On the other hand, his thinking represents a very inequitable view of race and the world, and we shouldn’t be okay with that view subsisting in the church. That doesn’t mean we attack him for it. It just means we need to be be outspoken about how WE think about race and the priesthood. These folks–Joshua seems to be one–trying to defend the Church or Bott or anything anyone in authority has said are going to wear themselves out trying to explain away errors in thinking on the part of church leaders. It’s a lot easier to just accept that they’re just as human as anyone else, and just as susceptible to generational biases as we and anyone else are.

    Bravo on the quick report, Tamarra. And again, god bless the Student Review.

    • Joshua /

      Bryce,
      You’re either slightly confused or you speak of another Joshua. I don’t defend errors in thinking on the part of church leaders, I defend doctrine. If it has not passed the first presidency and been stamped with the church’s logo, I don’t defend it as doctrine because it’s not.
      That being said, I do point out errors in logic. For example, just because it’s not official church doctrine doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not true and I’ll quickly point that out to those missing that logic. Elder McConkie, for example, said a whole lot of things that are not doctrine that may or may not be true. We can’t say they’re true just because he said them but we also can’t say they’re false just because they’re not doctrine or because we find them offensive.
      I can see how my pointing out errors in logic might be misunderstood as defending another’s errors in thinking. I may completely disagree with something and still point out errors in logic used in attacks against it. I don’t consider that defending the thing I disagree with but rather defending logic.

  50. MarkBrown /

    BYU has a major problem with its religious education department, one which could be solved in one or two ways. First, it could decide to simply stick to a Sunday School teaching approach, or two it could become an academic department. Right now, it’s not really an academic department and Randy Bott’s credentials prove that. He’s teaching religious history yet has not training in the field. His opinion voiced is an embarrassment for educated LDS. We should be ashamed his opinions still persist within the Church culture.

    http://religion.byu.edu/randy_bott

    • Jason W /

      Your assessment of the Religion Department is spot on. It hires from two tracks: CES and academia. Unfortunately, those from seminary/CES are basically just motivational speakers — they can teach, but they haven’t read anything outside of Deseret Book. On the other hand, those from academia have an incredible grasp of the scriptures, but they’re terrible in the classroom (hyperbolized, but generally true).

      I just want to go into the dean’s office and scream at the top of my lungs: university-level religion courses are for CRITICAL THINKING AND ANALYSIS, NOT SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS! The church provides plenty of avenues for nurturing the spirit: devotionals, firesides, church every Sunday, your own personal scripture study every day, Deseret Book, etc. But an undergraduate course on the gospels — just like an undergraduate course on accounting — should have very different aims. If BYU religion professors aren’t the ones to teach students that prophets disagree and are fallible (for example), and to teach and contextualize that understanding within the historical/scriptural record, where will students learn it? Let the bishops and the wards and the quorums and the leaders prepare students spiritually. If BYU doesn’t prepare them intellectually, they’re leaving them woefully unprepared for a very complex world.

      If I were an Armand Mauss or a Terryl Givens or a Grant Hardy or a Richard Bushman, I wouldn’t teach at BYU either.

  51. I’ve seen in some of the comments here the word “folklore” used regarding the Black issue and even Poligamy. I’m not sure if the moderators of this site will allow links here, but here is a gem of real interest today, specifically with the candidacy of Mitt Romney. http://www.boston.com/news/daily/24/delbert_stapley.pdf This stuff is real guys. I don’t share this to scare or offend, but to educate regarding facts and real history. And there is so much more out there. I appreciate and respect the churchs stance on letting the past go and moving forward, but they also need to be honest about things. They are so disingenuous I feel. “It is not known precisely why, how, or when this restriction began?” Really? We know what William Clayton had for breakfast most of the time! Just crack open the Journal of Discourses and it’s all there. I don’t think JOD’s are apostate readings. Why is it so hard to admit a mistake, or take responsiblilty four our actions, or heaven forbid, so simply state that Brigham Young was wrong, or that he made a mistake!

    • Hope Morrison /

      I have wondered the same thing sometimes, about why our leaders do not openly state a past leader made a mistake. I think it can be scary because we are led to think that because they do not judge harshly past statements that they secretly endorse them or partially endorse them. Another perspective, however, is to consider a statement from a current leader that is not in harmony with a statement from a past leader to be a statement in and of itself. It is clear that they disapprove of any remarks made by Brigham Young or whoever that is not “virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy.” Maybe referencing such a statement would be a disservice to those who have done better things with their time than dig for statements that are out of harmony with things that testify of Christ (I admit to having done so, and I can testify that it has NOT brought me closer to God).

      These of course are my opinions. And, of course I do not condemn anyone who has a passion for studying Church history or just history in general and happens to have run across questionable quotes. I also do not condemn anyone who has done an honest study of Church history and is frustrated that so often it seems like people pretend the controversial matters do not exist because they don’t have answers, or because people try to confront the issue but fail to do so. I do, however, believe it to be more fulfilling to spend that energy seeking to build a strong, personal relationship with God and to move forward with patience. It seems like our modern leaders are trying to teach us to live so that we can learn to follow this counsel in the Book of Mormon, Moroni 7, which I know to be true:

      16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

      17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

      18 And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

      19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

  52. So who is to blame here? Two Thoughts. #1: BYU is to blame for allowing a guy like Bott to preach this kind of junk in his classroom. They provided the environment for him and looked the other way when he did it. He was thus comfortable expounding his theories, and when put in front of a reporter, he couldn’t help himself say what he had always preached on the topic.

    #2: Shame on Bott himself for stepping way over the line. He had no right to mouth off like he did. How really stupid!

  53. Steven /

    He did not say anything that prophets were saying for 100 plus years and who said it was fact and doctrine. Seems like current leadership is more worried about public opinion than promoting the facts.

  54. Just close down BYU – Problem solved. Then all of you whiny pricks can just go cry in your cheerios.

  55. tradewarrior /

    BYU owes Bott an apology. He is being used as a scapegoat for repeating what he and I and others have been taught for over 100 years. Bott is a product of his spiritual environment. If he is a racist then the institution is racist and must change.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. 22 A Mormon in the Cheap Seats: Look Mom, No Hands! - [...] not a happy affair, really.  After a few phone calls from Salt Lake, the poor chap was responding to press inquiries by emailing out this …
  2. The Bott Gaffe: A Chronology | Times & Seasons - [...] 5:15 pm: BYU’s Student Review reports on reaction to Bott’s statement. [...]
  3. Journalism and Religion « Ace Correspondent - [...] makes me think of Professor Bott and the statement he made about African American’s and the priesthood. His mistake …
  4. Mormonism and the Mythical Curse of Cain, Part 3: The Ballad of Randy Bott | Real Great Talks - […] http://thestudentreview.org/byu-professor-randy-bott-lambasted-for-interview-with-the-washignton-pos… […]

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