A recent blunder with a Sunday school manual for use by all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints could set back progress the Utah-based faith has made on the issue of racism in the past few years — and alienate people of color.
Last year, the church produced a new manual for its 2020 curriculum, which will be a study of the faith’s signature scripture, the Book of Mormon, which Latter-day Saints believe tells the religious history of peoples in the ancient Americas.
Several passages describe a “dark skin” descending on one of the clans, and for much of the faith’s history that has been seen as a racial “curse.” These days, though, that interpretation is no longer part of church teaching.
That is why several early readers of the 2020 “Come, Follow Me” manual were troubled to see a note in one lesson that is a throwback to previous thinking.
“The dark skin was placed upon the Lamanites so that they could be distinguished from the Nephites and to keep the two peoples from mixing,” the book explains, citing a statement made some 60 years ago by then-apostle and future church President Joseph Fielding Smith. “The dark skin was the sign of the curse. The curse was the withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord. ... Dark skin ... is no longer to be considered a sign of the curse.”
https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/01 ... ds-church/
By the time this passage came to the church’s attention, the manuals had been printed.
Came to the Church’s attention? Do they not proof read these manuals at a senior level? Where was the spirit of discernment?
Church spokeswoman Irene Caso explained the problem this week.
“During the publication of the ‘Come, Follow Me’ manual for 2020, there was an error that resulted in the printing of material that doesn’t reflect the church’s current views on the topic,” she said in a statement. “To correct this, a decision was made to modify the content in the digital version of the lesson."
The “error” isn’t the problem. It’s merely a symptom of the problem.
These days, Caso added, the church “disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form."
It doesn’t disavow them enough to remove the promotion of those theories from its scriptures though.
The online manual says that “the curse of the Lamanites [one of the groups] was that they were ‘cut off from [the Lord’s] presence … because of their iniquity.’ ... When Lamanites later embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, ‘the curse of God did no more follow them.’”
The Book of Mormon states that “a mark of dark skin came upon the Lamanites after the Nephites separated from them,” reads the online explanation. “The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully understood. … Later, as both the Nephites and Lamanites each went through periods of wickedness and righteousness, the mark became irrelevant as an indicator of the Lamanites’ standing before God.”
Caso declined to comment on whether the church considered either printing an extra page, acknowledging the error, or scrapping the entire print run and reprinting it with the revised version.
But others are wondering why not.
It’s not like they can’t afford the reprinting costs. So why does the Church want to allow the “erroneous” manuals to be in circulation?
Holly Richardson of the SLT adds:
Please don’t teach racism. Don’t teach it at home, don’t teach it in seminary or institute and don’t teach it in Sunday School. Our Heavenly Parents are not racists. Of course they are not. They love all of their children equally and I am convinced they make zero distinctions based on skin color or place of birth. Neither should we.
Let’s just get this out of the way: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has had leaders who were racist. Full stop. To their credit, modern church leaders have been much more proactive in making clear that all are welcome, with outreach worldwide, with specific talks and teachings focused on welcoming all, the new relationship with the NAACP and with the 2018 “Be One” celebration commemorating the 40th anniversary of the priesthood being restored for all worthy men.
It is therefore disheartening and more than a little disconcerting to discover refuted racist dogma in one of the current LDS Church’s manuals. OK. Maybe that’s underplaying it. It’s more like “What the FREAK?!” HOW is that even possible?!
https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commenta ... rdson-lds/
Here’s the bottom line. Either the Church holds to the doctrine that a black skin was, as is taught within The Book Of Mormon and this new printed manual, a sign of disfavour in the eyes of God - in which case stop playing spin doctor and own it. Or it doesn’t. If the Church doesn’t hold to that doctrine, then it needs to remove all such teaching from it’s manuals and scriptures. It cannot be half pregnant on this one.
And let’s be clear, what is contained within the scriptures trumps any essays, manuals, leader statements etc. Until it’s removed from the Book Of Mormon the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints teaches that people with a black skin have been cursed because of disfavour in the eyes of God - it says so right there in 2nd Nephi.