The following was brought up in another thread but not explored more fully. I thought it was worth revisiting, if more appropriately in it’s own thread.
When the Joseph Smith RS/PH manual came out a few years ago, a poster on the MAD board pointed out an interesting occurrence where there was missing information in the manual - a portion of a paragraph from the Wentworth Letter.
The missing section, underlined within it's context, says this -
"The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument which the ancients called "Urim and Thummim," which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift, and power of God. In this important and interesting book the history of ancient America is unfolded, from its first settlement by a colony that came from the Tower of Babel, at the confusion of languages to the beginning of the fifth century of the Christian era. We are informed by these records that America in ancient times has been inhabited by two distinct races of people. The first were called Jaredites and came directly from the Tower of Babel. The second race came directly from the city of Jerusalem, about six hundred years before Christ. They were principally Israelites, of the descendants of Joseph. The Jaredites were destroyed about the time that the Israelites came from Jerusalem, who succeeded them in the inheritance of the country. The principal nation of the second race fell in battle towards the close of the fourth century. The remnant are the Indians that now inhabit this country. This book also tells us that our Savior made his appearance upon this continent after his resurrection, that he planted the gospel here in all its fulness, and richness, and power, and blessing; that they had apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, and evangelists; the same order, the same priesthood, the same ordinances, gifts, powers, and blessings, as was enjoyed on the eastern continent, that the people were cut off in consequence of their transgressions, that the last of their prophets who existed among them was commanded to write an abridgment of their prophecies, history, &c., and to hide it up in the earth, and that it should come forth and be united with the bible for the accomplishment of the purposes of God in the last days. For a more particular account I would refer to the Book of Mormon, which can be purchased at Nauvoo, or from any of our travelling elders.”
I suspect that most participants on both this and the MAD board can understand why this would be controversial.
What makes this even more interesting is that, other than this section, the entire letter was quoted for use in the manual as one of it’s lessons.
My question, to those who are critical of the view that the church whitewashes it history, is what makes this acceptable to you? Is it because the entire letter is available in other places, for example online where I found the above? Is it that the missing material, potentially questioning whether or not Joseph Smith viewed all native americans as being Lamanites, is not important to the gospel overall?
If whitewashing is too strong a word, do you see at least some active attempt to hide something here, or is this just prudent editing on the part of the church?
As has been pointed out, the Joseph Smith Manuel is not a "history" book. It is a manual used to instruct Latter-day Saints in points of doctrine and principles of application as currently defined and believed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
From my perspective, the fact that there exist possible reasons to discount these specific comments as incorrect speculation on the part of the Prophet, clearly justified their removal from a manual intentionally designed, not as a reflection of Church history and/or Joseph's Smith's views, but simply for instructing Church members on correlated doctrines and principles.
That having been said, if I was an instructor teaching this lesson, I would absolutely point this removal out as an important side point for the class discussion.