A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politics

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Doctor Scratch
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A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politics

Post by Doctor Scratch »

It's certainly been an interesting day in the world of Mopologetics. We have one key Mopologists--President of a not-for-profit corporation--who is seemingly using that venture to raise funds to pay for what is, by all appearances, a cinematic vanity project. Meanwhile, I think the quote of the day may very well be this:

Daniel Peterson wrote:And I think that, in my particular case, my blue-collar roots protected me from the temptation of academic snobbery and intellectual elitism.

Mmmhmm. Sure.

So there has been plenty to ponder. Indeed: that alone would have made for an intriguing day, but instead, we get this remarkable nugget from Stephen Smoot. Smoot is upset by something he heard on John Dehlin's podcast--namely, this remark from John Hamer:

John Hamer wrote:It’s not only that it’s academically impossible to justify arguing that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text, it’s actually an ongoing contribution to the injustice, the racism, imperialism, and genocide that our European ancestors hoisted upon indigenous people in the western hemisphere.

Mormon Stories Episode #1063: The Book of Mormon’s 19th Century Context

Smoot doesn't like this one bit. His counter-argument is especially interesting, though:

Smoot wrote:I mean, sure, everybody knows that accepting the authenticity of the Book of Mormon makes you a genocidal racist. (This includes, naturally, Elder Larry Echo Hawk, those employees at Book of Mormon Central of Latin American and indigenous ancestry, and the scores of faithful Latin American Latter-day Saints who believe the Book of Mormon.)

And in an endnote (the concluding bit of text in the entry, actually), Smoot writes this:

Smoot wrote:Before wrapping things up I must admit my envy of Hamer. To have such an abundance of white privilege that you can get away with casually accusing several million Latin American Latter-day Saints of being complicit in the genocide of their own race for simply believing a religious book is quite something.

Very interesting to see a rising, Millennial (?) Mopologist like Smoot deploying this tactic. You have to wonder, though: which is the worse offense? Hamer accusing the Book of Mormon (and belief in its historicity) as "racist," or Smoot leaning on people of color to make his point? Is *that* white privilege? If it's not, then what gives Smoot the right to speak on anyone else's behalf? Ultimately, I suspect that this is really just a variation on the time-worn tactic of saying, "I'm not a racist! Look at all my black friends!" Just because people of color are LDS does not mean that there aren't racist components of LDS doctrine, theology, culture, and practice. It really is impossible to look at LDS history and *not* see evidence of racism. (Didn't the Church recently "celebrate" the 40th anniversary of the lifting of the priesthood ban?) I guess it does not occur to Smoot that other LDS--including non-white Mormons--might not adhere to the same theories about the Book of Mormon that he does.

Whatever the case may be, Smoot is very much in keeping with Mopologetic tradition on this one. No wonder that he's receiving ample praise on "Sic et Non," a place where the notion that blacks should be "thankful for slavery" because they now get to live in America is regarded as a serious idea, and where the proprietor posts photos of lynchings as a "joke." It really is too bad to see this sort of thing carrying over into the next generation of Mopologists.
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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Res Ipsa »

A book that says God punishes unrighteous people by turning their skin dark = totally not racist.

Describing the book as racist = totally racist.

Remember, only talking about racism can be racism.
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― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, 1951

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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Lemmie »

Smoot wrote:After all, I was always under the impression that it was common knowledge that believing in a historically-authentic Book of Mormon made you morally culpable for the following:
•The Crusades
•The Black Plague
•The Spanish Inquisition
•The Holocaust
•9/11
•The Rwandan genocide
•The Trans-Atlantic slave trade
•The Spanish Flu pandemic
•The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
•The Mỹ Lai Massacre
•The eruption of Vesuvius
•The Challenger explosion
•The Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappearance
•The Heaven’s Gate mass-suicide
•Smallpox
•Human sex trafficking
•The AIDS epidemic
•Pediatric cancer
•Stalin’s Forced Famine in the Ukraine
•The success of Nickelback


Smoot's sense of humor is really stilted. I can't imagine anyone, Mormon or otherwise, reading this list and thinking it is an appropriate use of so many tragedies.

Just one example. We lived through 911. Many of my spouse's family members and close friends are or were New York City firefighters and first responders, and dozens and dozens of friends and acquaintances lost loved ones. The mourning that blanketed our society went on and on and on, and was almost unbearable. A close family member was involved in the interminable search for body parts and it eventually destroyed his mind. The pain and agony were palpable on the faces of most of the people we interacted with daily. No one here refers to the tragedy light-heartedly or casually, even now, and it is still extremely common to see tears in people's eyes if the subject comes up, even peripherally.

That Smoot would put that event into his sarcastic and irrelevant list, just to make a (deeply non-humorous) point is sickening. It's depraved and disgusting. He should be ashamed of himself.
It really is too bad to see this sort of thing carrying over into the next generation of Mopologists.
It really is.

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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by tapirrider »

I just watched parts 1,2 and 3 with John Hamer. He did an excellent job of laying out the early 19th century mound builder myth and made the point quite well that the idea of an advanced white race being destroyed by the ancestors of American Indians predates View of the Hebrews and it was a common idea when the Book of Mormon was published. He explained how that myth was used as justification for displacement and relocation of American Indians in the 19th century.

John Hamer makes a strong case that throwing the Book of Mormon away isn't the answer, instead the Book of Mormon can be used to recognize the racism in the world view of the early 19th century America. Trying to maintain it as a true historical record of ancient America not only doesn't allow that, it also perpetuates the racist myth.

Smoot ignores this and seems to focus on one sentence of John Hamer's and then takes it out of context and build's an absurd straw man.

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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by moksha »

In Stephen Smoot's defense, he is simply saying those Latinos/Indians/Lamanites do not mind being cursed with a dark skin, and to say otherwise is, therefore, accusing them of being complicit in the genocide of their own race, So there!

Put on your translator goggles to fully understand it.
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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Kishkumen »

One thing's for sure: Smoot is exactly the kind of benighted prick that Mopologetics needs to keep on keepin' on.
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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by I have a question »

Have I got this right, Smoot is basically saying that the Book of Mormon cannot be racist simply on the basis that some the people it is claimed to be being racist towards believe the book is true and an accurate reflection of God’s dealings with their ancestors?

Given that the amount of people with a “skin of blackness” who don’t believe the Book of Mormon outweigh those who do by a ratio close to being 100:0, Smoot’s point and basis for making it seem to be statistically challenged.

Smoot is saying the following isn’t racist, solely because there are black people in the Church.
20 Wherefore, the word of the Lord was fulfilled which he spake unto me, saying that: Inasmuch as they will not hearken unto thy words they shall be cut off from the presence of the Lord. And behold, they were cut off from his presence.

21 And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.

22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.

23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

https://www.LDS.org/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/5?lang=eng

Ridiculous.
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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by I have a question »

Well, I am sure that the indefatigable sleuth John Hamer will correct this oversight in his forthcoming book How Believing the Book of Mormon Literally Makes You Hitler, which I hear is going to become the definitive source on explaining how believing in ancient Nephites intrinsically compromises any worth you once had as a human being, justifies your banishment from decent society, and irrevocably casts you as a subhuman Nazi-Klansman-human sex trafficker-Nickelback enthusiast.2

https://www.plonialmonimormon.com/2019/ ... ormon.html

Hamer really hit a nerve, it seems.
“When we are confronted with evidence that challenges our deeply held beliefs we are more likely to reframe the evidence than we are to alter our beliefs. We simply invent new reasons, new justifications, new explanations. Sometimes we ignore the evidence altogether.” (Mathew Syed 'Black Box Thinking')

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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Maksutov »

Lemmie wrote:
Smoot wrote:After all, I was always under the impression that it was common knowledge that believing in a historically-authentic Book of Mormon made you morally culpable for the following:
•The Crusades
•The Black Plague
•The Spanish Inquisition
•The Holocaust
•9/11
•The Rwandan genocide
•The Trans-Atlantic slave trade
•The Spanish Flu pandemic
•The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
•The Mỹ Lai Massacre
•The eruption of Vesuvius
•The Challenger explosion
•The Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappearance
•The Heaven’s Gate mass-suicide
•Smallpox
•Human sex trafficking
•The AIDS epidemic
•Pediatric cancer
•Stalin’s Forced Famine in the Ukraine
•The success of Nickelback


Smoot's sense of humor is really stilted. I can't imagine anyone, Mormon or otherwise, reading this list and thinking it is an appropriate use of so many tragedies.

Just one example. We lived through 911. Many of my spouse's family members and close friends are or were New York City firefighters and first responders, and dozens and dozens of friends and acquaintances lost loved ones. The mourning that blanketed our society went on and on and on, and was almost unbearable. A close family member was involved in the interminable search for body parts and it eventually destroyed his mind. The pain and agony were palpable on the faces of most of the people we interacted with daily. No one here refers to the tragedy light-heartedly or casually, even now, and it is still extremely common to see tears in people's eyes if the subject comes up, even peripherally.

That Smoot would put that event into his sarcastic and irrelevant list, just to make a (deeply non-humorous) point is sickening. It's depraved and disgusting. He should be ashamed of himself.
It really is too bad to see this sort of thing carrying over into the next generation of Mopologists.
It really is.


Remember DCP thinking lynchings were a reasonable prop to Mopology? :rolleyes: He learned from the master.
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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Symmachus »

Kishkumen wrote:One thing's for sure: Smoot is exactly the kind of benighted prick that Mopologetics needs to keep on keepin' on.


I would call it "the exaggerated style" in Mormon apologetics, but that would assume there were other styles, which there aren't.

There seems to me an easy out for the historicists: "Nephites were racists...and look what happened to them!" They could argue that, like practically every group of human beings that has ever had a sense of group identity (including white progressives who live in Toronto), they believed themselves superior to other groups and reflected their belief in various ways, particularly an ethnic prejudice fixated on skin-color, which we might as well call racism. They also theologized their belief (not unlike that way that Mormonish progressives like John Hamer theologize their politics and distort the New Testament). They could then perform their usual wizardry by listing parallels with other ancient societies to "prove" its antiquity which would witness to the truth of Joseph Smith's claims, while also treating the Nephites as a moral tale about what happens to racist societies so that it serves a warning. For bonus points with the Brethren, they could rearticulate its status as both a witness and a warning, just like the prophet Ezra Taft Benson told us.

One can still assume historicity and treat the text critically and analytically in light of other ancient texts and societies. The apologists are perfectly happy to make such appeals when it suits them ("x in the Book of Mormon is just like Y in this 9th century AD Rabbinic text!"). They are also willing to approach Joseph Smith critically, going so far as to suggest that he was too ignorant to know the difference between a horse and a non-horse and too dumb to translate "curelom," or to admit that some of his opinions were wrong (the location of Cumorah, for instance). They stop there because their view of the Book of Mormon is a childish one derived from Primary, and their scholarly bravado simply exaggerates that view.
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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Symmachus »

Doctor Scratch wrote:
Daniel Peterson wrote:And I think that, in my particular case, my blue-collar roots protected me from the temptation of academic snobbery and intellectual elitism.

Mmmhmm. Sure.


:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I needed a good laugh to get me going. Thank you, Doctor Scratch.
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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by tapirrider »

Symmachus wrote:There seems to me an easy out for the historicists: "Nephites were racists...and look what happened to them!"

Daniel Peterson just went that direction today.

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeters ... cists.html

1 Nephi 13:12-15 is supposed to be a prophecy. That just doesn't go away by claiming that Nephites were racists.

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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by moksha »

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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Doctor Scratch »

Part of what's so problematic about this is that Smoot is basically defending his "right" to believe that God literally punished the Lamanites by giving them darker skin. Not only that, he is insisting that this view is correct, and that anyone who defies him is an "apostate." The orthodox, traditional belief has always been that Native Americans *are* the literal descendants of the Lamanites, so I guess that means that Smoot, DCP, Hamblin, Gee, Midgley, and the rest of the hardcore Book of Mormon literalist crowd think that contemporary Native Americans are the remnants of a "sinful" race. Smoot mentions Larry Echo Hawk in his post; does Smoot think that Echo Hawk is a "Lamanite", and that Echo Hawk's ancestors were so sinful that God punished them with a darker skin color? It makes you wonder where the Mopologists stand on the old theological idea that black people have darker skin due to being disobedient in the pre-existence: and idea referenced in The Godmakers.
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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by I have a question »

It would interesting to know how Smoot manages to parse the following...
Today, 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.

https://www.LDS.org/topics/race-and-the ... d?lang=eng

The Church is unequivocally disavowing those passages in the Book Of Mormon Smoot is seeking to hold on to.

“disavow - deny any responsibility or support for.”

Smoot is in public opposition to the leaders of the Church, there’s a word for that...
“When we are confronted with evidence that challenges our deeply held beliefs we are more likely to reframe the evidence than we are to alter our beliefs. We simply invent new reasons, new justifications, new explanations. Sometimes we ignore the evidence altogether.” (Mathew Syed 'Black Box Thinking')

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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Kishkumen »

Symmachus wrote:There seems to me an easy out for the historicists: "Nephites were racists...and look what happened to them!" They could argue that, like practically every group of human beings that has ever had a sense of group identity (including white progressives who live in Toronto), they believed themselves superior to other groups and reflected their belief in various ways, particularly an ethnic prejudice fixated on skin-color, which we might as well call racism. They also theologized their belief (not unlike that way that Mormonish progressives like John Hamer theologize their politics and distort the New Testament). They could then perform their usual wizardry by listing parallels with other ancient societies to "prove" its antiquity which would witness to the truth of Joseph Smith's claims, while also treating the Nephites as a moral tale about what happens to racist societies so that it serves a warning. For bonus points with the Brethren, they could rearticulate its status as both a witness and a warning, just like the prophet Ezra Taft Benson told us.

One can still assume historicity and treat the text critically and analytically in light of other ancient texts and societies. The apologists are perfectly happy to make such appeals when it suits them ("x in the Book of Mormon is just like Y in this 9th century AD Rabbinic text!"). They are also willing to approach Joseph Smith critically, going so far as to suggest that he was too ignorant to know the difference between a horse and a non-horse and too dumb to translate "curelom," or to admit that some of his opinions were wrong (the location of Cumorah, for instance). They stop there because their view of the Book of Mormon is a childish one derived from Primary, and their scholarly bravado simply exaggerates that view.


I totally agree, Symmachus, and I have said similar things in the past, albeit not with your learned eloquence.
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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Kishkumen »

Doctor Scratch wrote:Part of what's so problematic about this is that Smoot is basically defending his "right" to believe that God literally punished the Lamanites by giving them darker skin. Not only that, he is insisting that this view is correct, and that anyone who defies him is an "apostate." The orthodox, traditional belief has always been that Native Americans *are* the literal descendants of the Lamanites, so I guess that means that Smoot, DCP, Hamblin, Gee, Midgley, and the rest of the hardcore Book of Mormon literalist crowd think that contemporary Native Americans are the remnants of a "sinful" race. Smoot mentions Larry Echo Hawk in his post; does Smoot think that Echo Hawk is a "Lamanite", and that Echo Hawk's ancestors were so sinful that God punished them with a darker skin color? It makes you wonder where the Mopologists stand on the old theological idea that black people have darker skin due to being disobedient in the pre-existence: and idea referenced in The Godmakers.

Yes, one wonders.
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“He says he has eyes to see things that are not . . . and that the angel of the Lord . . . has put him in possession of great wealth, gold, silver, precious stones.” ~ Jesse Smith

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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Kishkumen »

There are so many better ways to deal with Book of Mormon problems than to double down on supporting its worst characteristics. The choice to reaffirm its bad ideas as historical fact or divine will does little credit to the reader who engages in such.
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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by tapirrider »

Kishkumen wrote:There are so many better ways to deal with Book of Mormon problems than to double down on supporting its worst characteristics. The choice to reaffirm its bad ideas as historical fact or divine will does little credit to the reader who engages in such.

A quote worth saving!

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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Symmachus »

Kishkumen wrote:
I totally agree, Symmachus, and I have said similar things in the past, albeit not with your learned eloquence.


Well, I'm not sure about my eloquence, especially as I should have mentioned that is your work in this area that I am drawing these ideas from.
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Re: A New Mopologetic Gambit? Smoot Tries Out Racial Politic

Post by Gadianton »

I agree with the inappropriateness of the sarcasm, but more striking to me is how childish it is. Like a nine-year-old doesn't get his way -- "I didn't pick up my room so I'm a bad person? You're saying I'm the worst kid ever born? You're saying I should go away forever?! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa"
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