Great Moments in Mormon History

Posted by: Andee / Category: ,

I came upon a GIANT list of events from Mormon History from Rethinking Mormonism, and that website credits "The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power." I thought it might be fun to share some of the events that stuck out to me from the list.

Jan 23,1852 - Brigham Young instructs Utah Legislature to legalize slavery because "we must believe in slavery."

Feb 5,1852 - Brigham Young announces policy of denying priesthood to all those black African ancestry, even "if there never was a prophet, or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before" because "negroes are the children of old Cain....any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot hold the priesthood." Contrary to Joseph Smith's example in authorizing the ordination of Elijah Abel, this is LDS policy for the next 126 years.

Mar 21,1858 - Brigham Young tells this special conference that Joseph Smith disobeyed revelation by returning to Nauvoo to stand trial, that the church's founding prophet lost Spirit of God the last days of his life, and died as unnecessary martyr. He published this talk as pamphlet.

Dec 15,1858 - Young readily grants divorce to unhappy plural wives but requires husbands to pay him personally a $10 fee ($214.50 in 2001 U.S. dollars). Young issues 1,600 certificates of divorce for unhappy polygamous marriages. (This equals 16 thousand dollars, or $343,200 2001 U.S. dollars)

Sep 7,1859 - Salt Lake City clerk records sale of twenty six year old "negro boy" for $800 to William H. Hooper. Until federal law ends slavery in U.S. Territories in 1862, some African-American slaves are paid as tithing, bought, sold and otherwise treated as chattel in Utah.

Aug 29,1877 - Brigham Young dies. His last words are "Joseph, Joseph, Joseph!"

Jan 7,1882 - Apostle Francis M Lyman's diary begins recording month-long nervous breakdown of Heber J Grant, his successor as Tooele Stake President. Physician diagnoses Grant's condition as "nervous convulsions" and warns that condition could lead to "softening of the brain," if Grant continues his stressful pace of activity. Grant becomes apostle ten months later and is first LDS leader with diagnosed history of emotional illness.

Mar 31,1882 - John Taylor closes Church Historian's Office to the public.

May 17,1888 - At dedication of Manti Temple, Wilford Woodruff declared prophetically , "We are not going to stop the practice of plural marriage until the Coming of the Son of Man."

Dec 5, 1891 - Stake President relates "incident of the Prophet Joseph telling Dimick B Huntington.....that Noah built the Ark in the land where South Carolina is now.

Oct 24,1894 - Wilford Woodruff and his two counselors each give approval for Apostle Abraham H Cannon to marry another plural wife. In all, ten general authorities marry post-Manifesto plural wives by permission of church president or his counselors during next ten years.

Aug 22,1895 - First Presidency and apostles decide to deny temple endowments to "Black Jane" Manning (James) because of her "negro blood." Black women are banned from temple, as are black men until 1978.

July 11, 1901 - First Presidency and apostles agree that Danish beer is not harmful or in violation of Word of Wisdom and release an official statement to the same affect.

Nov 7,1901 - First Presidency officially declares that there is no "rule in the church forbidding cousins to intermarry" and that first cousins can have temple marriages if they present civil license.

Mar 2,1904 - Before committee of U.S. Senate, Joseph F. Smith testifies: "I have never pretended to nor do I profess to have received revelations. I never said that I had a revelation except so far as God has shown me that so-called Mormonism is God's divine truth, that is all."

Apr 14,1904 - First Presidency and apostles decide to resume sale of liquor at church resort of Saltair due to need for non-Mormon patronage.

Dec 17,1913 - Death of Joseph Smith's last surviving plural wife, Mary E. Rollins Lightner. She helped save the still-unbound Book of Commandments from printing office set afire by mob in 1833. She witnessed adoption of 1835 D&C, which prohibited polygamy, and became secret plural wife of Joseph Smith at Nauvoo while still living with her non-Mormon husband.

Jan 4,1922 - From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Brigham H. Roberts presents detailed summary of textual and historical problems in Book of Mormon to combined meeting of First Presidency, apostles, and Seventy's presidents. He recommends that these problems should be researched and publicly discussed.

May 22,1925 - Deseret News editorializes in favor of new Utah law which legalizes horse racing and pari-mutual betting. Legislature has appointed Brigham F. Grant as chair of Racing Commission. He is manager of Deseret News and brother of church president, Heber J. Grant.

Mar 10,1941 - First Presidency orders Clayton Investment Company to get rid of its "whore-houses," no matter the financial loss, so that church affiliated company can merge with church-owned Zion's Securities Corp. Ends fifty years of church's leases to brothels.

June 1945 - Improvement Era states: "When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done." This is the ward teacher's message to all members for the month. To an inquiring Unitarian minister, George Albert Smith writes that "not a few members of the Church have been upset in their feelings, and General Authorities have been embarrassed" by above statement. "Even to imply that members of the Church are not to do their own thinking is grossly to misrepresent the true ideal of the Church," he continues. However, church president's retraction reaches one non-Mormon, while original statement reaches entire LDS population without similar retraction.

Oct 6,1946 - Public release of Joseph Fielding Smith (b. 1899) as Patriarch to Church due to "ill health" but actually due to discovery of his recent homosexual activity.

April 16,1948 - Apostle Mark E. Petersen asks for permission to instruct local leaders to begin excommunication trials for persons he suspects of having disloyal attitudes towards LDS Church. First Counselor J. Reuben Clark warns Petersen "to be careful about the insubordination or disloyalty question, because they ought to be permitted to think, you can't throw a man off for thinking."

Oct 16,1951 - Temple council of First Presidency, Quorum of Twelve Apostles and Patriarch to church decides to allow beer commercials on church-owned KSL television station.

Mar 3,1953 - First Presidency secretary answers Mormon's inquiry about receiving blood transfusions from African Americans: "The LDS Hospital here in Salt Lake City has a blood bank which does not contain any colored blood." This represents five year effort to keep LDS Hospital's blood bank separate from American Red Cross system in order "to protect the purity of the blood streams of the people of this Church" (Counselor J. Reuben Clark's phrase.)

Dec 4,1959 - Budget Committee reports that church spent $8 million more than its revenues that year. As result, church permanently stops releasing annual reports of expenditures.

Nov 10,1960 - Brigham Young University's president tells Executive Committee of BYU's trustees "about a colored boy on campus having been a candidate for the vice presidency of a class and receiving a very large vote." The three apostles present want to exclude all African Americans from BYU. "If a granddaughter of mine should ever go the BYU and become engaged to a colored boy," Apostle Harold B. Lee fumes, "I would hold you responsible!"

May 14,1961 - Apostle Joseph Fielding Smith announces to stake conference in Honolulu: "We will never get a man into space. This earth is man's sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it." Smith, the Twelve's president and next in succession as LDS President, adds: "The moon is a superior planet to the earth and it was never intended that man should go there. You can write it down in your books that this will never happen." In May 1962, he privately instructs that this view be taught to "the boys and girls in the Seminary System." On 20 July 1969 U.S. Astronauts are first men to walk on moon. Six months later Joseph Fielding Smith becomes church president.

March 3,1965 - Apostle Harold B. Lee is "protesting vigorously over our having given a scholarship at BYU to a negro student from Africa. Brother Lee holds the traditional belief as revealed in the Old Testament that the races ought to be kept together and that there is danger in trying to integrate them on the BYU campus."

April 29,1965 - BYU President Ernest L. Wilkinson makes first reference in his diary to receiving reports from student "spy ring" he has authorized and which becomes national scandal within ten months.

July 1967 - Church-wide Priesthood Bulletin prohibits women from praying in sacrament meeting. Ban stays in effect until late 1978.

Nov 27,1967 - New York Metropolitan Museum of Art gives to LDS church the original Egyptian papyri upon which Joseph Smith based "Book of Abraham" in Pearl of Great Price. Scholars and church officials authenticate papyri as the same used by Smit
h. Apostle N. Eldon Tanner states the discovery of the papyri will finally prove Joseph Smith could translate ancient documents. Unfortunately, Egyptologists, LDS and non-LDS, verify that these papyri are typical "Book of Breathings" in form and content. Church officials begin repressing the story that the original papyri have been discovered and are in their possession.

Nov 1,1977 - Spencer W. Kimball dedicates Osmond Family Studio in Orem, Utah.

Dec 29,1978 - First Presidency allows women to pray in sacrament meetings again, rescind earlier ban from July 1967.

August 1979 - Church's Ensign magazine publishes first counselor N. Eldon Tanner's statement: "When the prophet speaks the debate is over," which echoes Improvement Era's message of June 1945.

July 3,1981 - After nearly eleven years of losing advertising revenues, Deseret News begins publishing ads for R-rated movies.

Oct 1,1981 - New York Times reports official announcement that new edition of Book of Mormon changes prophecy that Lamanites will "become white and delightsome." Instead of continuing original reference to skin color, new edition emphasizes inward spirituality: "become pure and delightsome."

April 2,1982 - First Presidency announces service of male missionaries is reduced from 24 months to 18 months. "It is anticipated that this shortened term will make it possible for many to go who cannot go under present financial circumstances," counselor Gordon B. Hinckley explains. "This will extend the opportunity for missionary service to an enlarged body of our young men." Instead, the annual number of new missionaries level off. Annual convert baptisms decline more than 7 percent each year rather than increase by same proportion as before.

Jan 11,1983 - Second counselor Gordon B. Hinckley pays document dealer Mark Hofmann $15,000 for alleged Joseph Smith letter about his treasure digging activities. He has Hofmann agree not to mention the transaction to anyone else and then he sequesters document in First Presidency's vault. First Presidency does not acknowledge its existence until Los Angeles Times is about to release story about document, which Hofmann later admits he forged.

April 15,1983 - University Post: The Unofficial Newspaper of Brigham Young University reports interview with director of Standards Department. He acknowledges that students suspected of cheating, illegal drug use, stealing, or homosexuality are expelled from BYU if they refuse to take polygraph examination. BYU Security has licensed polygraph examiner.

Nov 26,1984 - First Presidency announces that as of 1 January mission service for young men will return to 24 months.

May 5,1985 - LDS Astronaut Don Lind administers sacrament in zero gravity Skylab 3.

June 9,1985 - Church headquarters telephones all bishops in Utah, Idaho and Arizona with instructions to forbid discussion of Linda Newell and Valeen Tippetts Avery's biography Mormon Enigma:Emma Hale Smith in Relief Society or other church meetings. Lasting for ten months, this ban is apparently what triples book's sales.

April 4,1987 - First Counselor Gordon B. Hinckley tells priesthood session of conference that "marriage should not be viewed as a therapeutic step to solve problems such as homosexual inclinations of practices..." This reverses decades long policy formulated by Spencer W. Kimball.

Oct 2,1988 - Michaelene P. Grassli, general Primary President, is first woman to speak in general conference in 133 years.

Oct 12,1989 - Deseret News reports that representative of Eli Lilly pharmaceutical company confirms that Utah has highest per-capita use in nation of anti-depressant Prozac.

April 17,1991 - Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Utah "ranks last in proportion of students who are female" throughout the United States. This is result of Utah's "traditions that inhibit the educational progress of women."

Aug 9,1991 - Salt Lake Tribune article, "Of LDS Women, 58% Admit Premarital Sex."

Aug 8,1992 - Salt Lake Tribune reports that First Presidency's spokesman has acknowledged existence of special "Strengthening the Members Committee" that keeps secret files on church members regarded as disloyal. Due to publicity on this matter, including New York Times, Presidency issues statement on 13 Aug. defending organization of this apostle-directed committee as consistent with God's commandment to Joseph Smith to gather documentation about non-Mormons who mob and persecute LDS Church. Presidency lists Apostles James E. Faust and Russell M. Nelson as leading the committee.

May 18,1993 - Apostle Boyd K. Packer tells All-Church Coordinating Council that LDS church faces three major threats: "The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals."

May 3,1995 - Agreement between LDS church and American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors "over the issue of posthumous baptisms of Jewish Holocaust victims." First Presidency agrees to "remove from next issue of International Genealogical Index [public-access record only] names of all known posthumously baptized Jewish holocaust victims, "and "to discontinue any further baptisms of deceased Jews, including all lists of Jewish Holocaust victims who are know Jews, except if they were direct ancestors of living members of the Church."