Devon has had a bunch of people at work asking him about a McLaughlin group rant about Mormons not giving blacks the priesthood until 1978. He isn’t sure what to say to defend the church. I wasn’t either until a few hours ago.
It occurred to me that the objection that people continually make about this is it was long overdue, since the civil rights movement had occurred in the previous decade (the `60s). They accuse the church of being backward.
However, if we cast about for comparisons, we discover some interesting things. The black slaves were emancipated by Lincoln during the Civil War, yet the white south was very slow to concede this freedom and give them all their civil rights.
Once the Reconstruction enforcement troops left, the white south allowed freedom in name only for about 90 years after, enforcing a de facto subjection with terror (a la Ku Klux Klan) and Jim Crow laws. This shows us that you can declare freedom until you are blue in the face, but the "masters" must have a change of heart to allow it, and the white south had to be forced and pressured into giving blacks their civil rights when blacks should have had 100 years of it already. Even in other areas of the nation blacks suffered from economic discrimination. There is still much struggle with prejudice.
Now, contrast this with the Mormons. The continuous perplexity of the prophet on the issue, wondering for years “why?”. The prophet pleading with the Lord on behalf of the black men who did not get to hold the priesthood, the revelation finally received, the change announced immediately, completely unforced by any outside influence of God or man, but instead requested and desired. And then, when announced, the implementation hailed with celebration and rejoicing by both white and black members and immediately embraced from the beginning! None holding back.
Now, reader, be the judge of who has been more backward. Is it the Mormons or the nation at large? The revelation could have come at any time, but the people’s acceptance and compliance is the thing that really means something.