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Mormon Church Rewrites Its Racist History

Posted by on Mar. 12, 2013 at 3:58 AM
  • 29 Replies


The following article originally appeared in Religion Dispatches.

A newly released digital edition of the four books of LDS or Mormon scripture—the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price—includes editorial changes that reflect a shifting official view on issues like polygamy, the Church’s history of racism, and the historicity of LDS scripture.

Perhaps the most significant is the inclusion of a new heading to precede the now-canonized 1978 announcement of the end of the LDS Church’s ban on black priesthood ordination:

The Book of Mormon teaches that “all are alike unto God,” including “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33). Throughout the history of the Church, people of every race and ethnicity in many countries have been baptized and have lived as faithful members of the Church. During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood. Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance. The revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978. The revelation removed all restrictions with regard to race that once applied to the priesthood.

Church leaders have long maintained public ambiguity about the history of the ban and its end; they have rarely acknowledged the ordination of early African-American Mormons nor have they cited anti-racist teaching in the Book of Mormon in connection with the Church’s own troubled history on race. The new heading historicizes the ban (suggesting the influence of a robust Church History department) and depicts it as a contradiction to the original impulses of the faith, not corrected until 1978. The heading does, some commentators have noted, offer continuing cover to Brigham Young, whose on-the-record racist statements to the Utah legislature suggest his influence in the evolution of a non-ordination policy. Commentators also note the absence of reference to the fact that black women were not historically admitted to LDS temple worship until the 1978 announcement. 

Another significant change is to the introduction to the Pearl of Great Price, a book of scripture long presented as a direct translation of Egyptian papyri obtained by Joseph Smith but shown by Egyptologists to have no connection to their source material. The new edition now characterizes the Book of Abraham as an “inspired translation” of the papyri.  Changes to the introduction to the now-canonized official announcement of the end of institutionally-sanctioned polygamy also suggest an effort to historicize polygamy and connect it with Book of Mormon teachers that teach monogamy as “God’s standard.”

These are the most significant changes made to Mormon scripture since 1981.


http://www.alternet.org/belief/mormon-church-rewrites-its-racist-history?akid=10167.204720.HvEc0u&rd=1&src=newsletter807453&t=6

by on Mar. 12, 2013 at 3:58 AM
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Xlandria
by on Mar. 12, 2013 at 4:30 AM
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I'm sorry, but what is the point of this post? Just asking.

Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Mar. 12, 2013 at 5:01 AM
2 moms liked this
Quoting Xlandria:

I'm sorry, but what is the point of this post? Just asking.

I think it is rather refreshing to have a Church who allows the word of god to be changed by their Earthly head priest at a press of a button.

From the linked website

Goodwoman614
by Satan on Mar. 12, 2013 at 5:09 AM



Quoting Xlandria:

I'm sorry, but what is the point of this post? Just asking.

Try reading the OP.

Xlandria
by on Mar. 12, 2013 at 12:01 PM
1 mom liked this

Yes, I DID read the post. What I'm asking is what point were you making? There is information on the Web concerning Blacks & the Mormon Church as well as Mormons & Polygamy. Unfortunately there are many things from the past that, while legal and acceptable then, are no longer that way. I don't see any difference between Mormons, or anyone else, changing their stance on something that is no longer acceptable. Women used to be considered property and were considered to be not as capable as men. And just as a few men still believe that & always will, there are those who still believe there is a difference in in the races and will always will be. By your title, however, I surmise that you are simply trying to stir a pot that still simmers today. I find it quite amazing that people who claim not be racist are the ones who talk about it the most, just as the folks who claim not to believe in God are the ones who talk about Him the most and besides, history is being rewritten all the time. 

tscritch
by Silver Member on Mar. 12, 2013 at 12:28 PM
1 mom liked this

 

Quoting Xlandria:

Yes, I DID read the post. What I'm asking is what point were you making? There is information on the Web concerning Blacks & the Mormon Church as well as Mormons & Polygamy. Unfortunately there are many things from the past that, while legal and acceptable then, are no longer that way. I don't see any difference between Mormons, or anyone else, changing their stance on something that is no longer acceptable. Women used to be considered property and were considered to be not as capable as men. And just as a few men still believe that & always will, there are those who still believe there is a difference in in the races and will always will be. By your title, however, I surmise that you are simply trying to stir a pot that still simmers today. I find it quite amazing that people who claim not be racist are the ones who talk about it the most, just as the folks who claim not to believe in God are the ones who talk about Him the most and besides, history is being rewritten all the time. 

 You can't change the past! Rewriting it doesn't change it, we should LEARN from history, not try to pretend it didn't happen.

Donna6503
by Gold Member on Mar. 12, 2013 at 12:32 PM
1 mom liked this
I hope someone from the LDS can respond,

But I do think, in the late '70s they (LDS church) changed the wording in the BoM from things like, "curse with dark skin" into phrases like, "they've been marked for separation..:"
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Clairwil
by Ruby Member on Mar. 12, 2013 at 1:17 PM
2 moms liked this
Quoting Xlandria:

Yes, I DID read the post. What I'm asking is what point were you making? There is information on the Web concerning Blacks & the Mormon Church as well as Mormons & Polygamy. Unfortunately there are many things from the past that, while legal and acceptable then, are no longer that way. I don't see any difference between Mormons, or anyone else, changing their stance on something that is no longer acceptable. Women used to be considered property and were considered to be not as capable as men. And just as a few men still believe that & always will, there are those who still believe there is a difference in in the races and will always will be. By your title, however, I surmise that you are simply trying to stir a pot that still simmers today. I find it quite amazing that people who claim not be racist are the ones who talk about it the most, just as the folks who claim not to believe in God are the ones who talk about Him the most and besides, history is being rewritten all the time. 

I think Stephen Fry put it very well, when commenting on those excusing the Catholic church for making similar changes.


Goodwoman614
by Satan on Mar. 12, 2013 at 11:18 PM

BUMP!

turtle68
by Mahinaarangi on Mar. 13, 2013 at 2:01 AM
2 moms liked this

 blech....Mormons. 

First they were cursed if they had black skin (in an era where black people were treated less than animals...yeah ok says the man who found gold in a haystack, but then they "disappeared" riiiiight )

  then they were marked for separation (gotta look like we think of them as human....but not quite so much that they can join us and our beloved Jesus)

now we welcome all black people with open arms.....cause we had to, cant have the world see us as a cult...plus look at all those islands with lots of brown people to convert and get money off.

Its a stupid religion with the 2nd most stupid beginings....next to scientology of course.

Xlandria
by on Mar. 13, 2013 at 2:34 AM

And I apologize for putting it that way. I was very tired at the time. I agree that past mistakes need to be lessons that we learn from, so that they are not repeated. At the same time, people change their outlook on many things and at times it takes laws being passed to change the way people think, act & believe. 

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