Andrew Sullivan offers this quote from Bruce McConkie, one of the members of the Mormon church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the time that the church suddenly decided, after a century of teaching white supremacy, that blacks were no longer cursed and could now become priests. He said this shortly after that change of policy:
Well that’s certainly convenient, but it’s hardly rational. It glides right over some difficult questions that I doubt he wants to attempt to answer. This wasn’t simply a matter of a wrong interpretation of some obscure verse in the Book of Mormon, this was official church doctrine, handed down by those who claimed to have a direct line to god in receiving these commands. So did the eternally unchanging God, the fountain from which all virtue flows, change his mind? Was he a white supremacist for all of human history until 1978? Or were all those previous church leaders, whose claim to be prophets who spoke the word of god rests on exactly the same basis as the ones who announced the change, just wrong? Or dishonest? Whichever answer you give causes some serious problems for your faith, or at least it would if you would deal with the question honestly.
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.