Phineas

Racial Error in Come Follow Me Manual

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On 2/2/2020 at 3:56 AM, LiterateParakeet said:

Since this week's Come Follow Me chapters are 2 Nephi 1-5..which includes the verses being discussed here....  

I was watching Don't Miss This on Youtube and they mentioned Elder Stevenson talking to the NAACP about this issue.  BOLD is my addition.

I love David and Emily's discussion about these verses...they start the video with it about 3 minutes in.

 

This is embarrassing. These two are literally ashamed of the Book of Mormon and of the prophets who interpreted it.

What is this unspeakable evil that was so tragically yet inadvertently included in the manual? Let's take a look. Quoting the vomitous Salt Lake Tribune article, which surely would go to no effort at all to save the Church from any embarrassment (and Stack, the author, openly lies later in the article, falsely claiming the Church "denounced" old theories about the Priesthood ban):

“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 [see 2 Nephi 5:21-23; Alma 3:6-10]. The dark skin was the sign of the curse. The curse was the withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord [see 2 Nephi 5:20]. ... Dark skin ... is no longer to be considered a sign of the curse” (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Answers to Gospel Questions,” comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. [1960], 3:122-23).

So exactly what is objectionable about the above statement? As I read it, Elder Smith made three points above. Please help me understand which of them is false.

  • Dark skin was placed upon the Lamanites to distinguish them from the Nephites, to the end that the two peoples did not intermix.
  • The dark skin was a sign of a curse placed on the Lamanites, which curse was the withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord from them.
  • Dark skin is no longer considered a sign of the curse.

If Elder Stevenson wants to say that the manual included a footnote quotation that was out of bounds and that the Church doesn't preach that certain interpretation, then that's his place to do. Interestingly, though, I don't hear Elder Stevenson or any other apostle telling us that we need to ignore the plain teachings of the Book of Mormon.

NEWS FLASH: The Book of Mormon is a TRAGEDY. At the end of the book, EVERYONE DIES. All the "good guys", at least. It was written for our day TO WARN US ABOUT THINGS AROUND US. And that means that SOME THINGS WILL OFFEND US. Maybe when we feel offended, we would be better off not to nurture our bruised sensibilities, and instead figure out why the given teaching offends us and how we need to repent so that the feelings of offense stop.

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You know, when I was a teenager, there was an urban legend going around that some GA had taught that in the resurrection, as we introduced ourselves as people who lived in the 1990s, whoever we were talking to would fall to their knees out of respect for the times in which we lived.

I think that in the resurrection, when we introduce ourselves to others as having lived in the United States of 2020, those others will probably edge away slowly and end the conversation as quickly as possible.  

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Guest LiterateParakeet
51 minutes ago, Vort said:

This is embarrassing. These two are literally ashamed of the Book of Mormon and of the prophets who interpreted it.

Actually Emily and David love the Book of Mormon.

For those who don't  know them, they are friends who teach both Seminary and Institute (they're married,  but not to each other.)  They also both have several books published by Deseret Book, and they did videos last year for Come Follow Me as well. I  mention this because it speaks to their love of the Lord, His gospel and the scriptures, including the Book of Mormon. 

I appreciate their explanation and find it quite credible.  

Edited by LiterateParakeet

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Guest Scott
On 1/19/2020 at 8:42 PM, Vort said:

"To disavow" does not mean "to deny" or "to repudiate" or "to proclaim as false". Rather, "to disavow" means "to deny support for". In other words, the Church at this point steadfastly refuses to align itself with that particular scriptural and historical interpretation. That is a much different thing from proclaiming that the interpretation is false. The interpretation might well be true, or might have some elements of truth in it. But the Church doesn't support any such theory. 

This is from the some of lesson manuals, which I guess could be said aren't canonized doctrine.  In some lesson manuals it does seem to proclaim that such teachings are false, or at least "untrue" (which seems the same as false to me).

Any theories suggested in the past that black skin is a curse or an indication of unworthiness in a premortal life; that mixed-race relationships are a sin; or that people of any race or ethnicity are inferior to anyone else are not true doctrine. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/old-testament-seminary-teacher-manual/introduction-to-the-book-of-genesis/lesson-17-genesis-6-13-9-29?lang=eng

 


 

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19 minutes ago, Scott said:

Any theories suggested in the past that black skin is a curse or an indication of unworthiness in a premortal life; that mixed-race relationships are a sin; or that people of any race or ethnicity are inferior to anyone else are not true doctrine.
 

The thing is, even JFS’s statement as quoted in the print manual doesn’t run foul of this statement.  The Church’s position is that dark skin *is* not a sign of a curse (present tense).  JFS agreed, even during his own lifetime.  He merely maintained that in past times dark skin had been a sign of a curse.  
 

If the Church wants to kill this, they will need to be more explicit than they have hitherto been.  And frankly, they may wantu to be careful there; because the BoM text is what it is and we have no idea what hermeneutics and exegeses will be in vogue in fifty or a hundred years when the current unsigned PR pieces have receded into obscurity.  

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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Guest MormonGator
57 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

If the Church wants to kill this,

It's obvious they want to distance themselves from some teachings they've been associated with at one point. Or, at the very least, they are trying to clear up confusing points. 

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2 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

It's obvious they want to distance themselves from some teachings they've been associated with at one point. Or, at the very least, they are trying to clear up confusing points. 

I think a certain segment of the Church’s bureaucracy wants it both ways, frankly. 

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Guest MormonGator
1 minute ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I think a certain segment of the Church’s bureaucracy wants it both ways, frankly. 

They don't want to be perceived as being racist, and that's totally understandable. You (generic) don't want to be seen as being racist either, especially if you aren't. 

 

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2 hours ago, MormonGator said:

They don't want to be perceived as being racist, and that's totally understandable. You (generic) don't want to be seen as being racist either, especially if you aren't. 

 

Indeed.  But the thing is, the definition of “racist” keeps changing.  We’d have to start excising portions of scriptural text to stay in line—you *might* be able to get away with that in the Book of Abraham due to the nature of the “translation” that Joseph Smith did; but there’s only so much you can do with the BoM without undercutting the narrative of the restoration itself.  

Methinks our generation of post-millennials would be better served if their study of 2 Ne 5 perseverated less on race and focused more on the ills of idleness and mischief and subtlety compared to the virtues of foresight and craftsmanship and labor and industry; which was Nephi’s principal point and which surely has some ongoing application on this night of the Iowa Democratic caucuses. ;) 

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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Guest MormonGator
23 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Indeed.  But the thing is, the definition of “racist” keeps changing.

It does, and that's something out of our hands. So we better be prepared. And we better adapt. The church knows this. 

Look at it this way. The way the sexes interact is in the middle of a huge change. Fifty years ago it would be easier for a man to get away with slapping his secretary on the bum, making rude comments, and being a disgusting pig. Now, society has changed and while men like that still exist, they are aging out or being forced out. If you are still a dinosaur and refuse to adapt to changing times-lets say you make rude comments or are a little too "touchy-feely"-you'll be reported to HR and you'll be fired. And possibly sued. And possibly indicted on assault charges. 

So even if you don't like the culture change, adapt or die. It's the same kind of thing, sort of. The church doesn't want to be seen as that guy going down to HR. So while the definition changes, we sort of have to as well. 

Edited by MormonGator

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Guest Scott
1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I think a certain segment of the Church’s bureaucracy wants it both ways, frankly. 

This is true.   

A lot of church material says that the dark skin itself was not a curse and that people misunderstand that.  The Book of Mormon does say however that the dark skin itself was a curse as well as a sign (though obviously that might only refer to that time period).  That part of the Book of Mormon hasn't changed.  Some earlier Church leaders did say that the Lamanites (Native Americans) skins would turn white when they converted to the gospel, but this belief isn't discussed anymore and as far as I know isn't official doctrine. 

A few decades ago "white and delightsome" was changed to "pure and delightsome" in the Book of Mormon, with the intent to clarify that "white" referred to purity and not to skin color, but the part about dark skin color being a curse is still in the Book of Mormon.

As for me, I can't say I have a good answer.  Chruch materials are contadicting each other depending on the source and time, so I don't think we as individuals can be expected to know all of the answers.  

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6 minutes ago, Scott said:

A few decades ago "white and delightsome" was changed to "pure and delightsome" in the Book of Mormon

I assume you mean "a few decades ago" as in "eighteen decades ago".

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32 minutes ago, Scott said:

This is true.   

A lot of church material says that the dark skin itself was not a curse and that people misunderstand that.  The Book of Mormon does say however that the dark skin itself was a curse as well as a sign (though obviously that might only refer to that time period).  That part of the Book of Mormon hasn't changed.  Some earlier Church leaders did say that the Lamanites (Native Americans) skins would turn white when they converted to the gospel, but this belief isn't discussed anymore and as far as I know isn't official doctrine. 

A few decades ago "white and delightsome" was changed to "pure and delightsome" in the Book of Mormon, with the intent to clarify that "white" referred to purity and not to skin color, but the part about dark skin color being a curse is still in the Book of Mormon.

As for me, I can't say I have a good answer.  Chruch materials are contadicting each other depending on the source and time, so I don't think we as individuals can be expected to know all of the answers.  

Good points.  The “white and delightsome” change, of course, had the advantage of being in line with Joseph Smith’s edit to the 1840 edition of the BoM (we kept using a modified 1837 edition until 1981, so we were stuck with the unedited verbiage until then).

But Joseph Smith was clearly on board with the idea of “whitening” the native Americans; and there’s some evidence that that’s how he got the idea for polygamy in the first place (LDS men taking Indian women as plural wives and raising up a generation of mixed-race children).

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Guest Scott
3 hours ago, Vort said:

I assume you mean "a few decades ago" as in "eighteen decades ago".

For the first time, maybe.  The most recent change was in 1981, which is the one I am referring to.  Before 1981, "pure and delightsome" was only used in the low volume 1840 printing and not again in 1981. It was "white and delightsome" in the original Book or Mormon, as well as the 1837 volume and all other voumes between 1841 and 1981.

Personally I don't see the conflict between the two volumes because "white" doesn't necessarily have to refer to skin color.  Other prophets did take the "white and delightsome" to refer to skin color.   That's another topic though (but if you really want to discuss it we can).

Anyway, you might be missing my point.  There is no real conflict (in my eyes) with "white and delightsome" vs. "pure and delightsome" (and that has changed back and forth a few times), but the point is that that part changed without necessarily changing the meaning of the story, so I used that as an example before leading into what has not changed.

What has not changed is that the Book of Mormon (all volumes) say that the dark skin itself was a curse.  As far as I know all volumes say this.   Do you disagree or agree?  (PS, I intentionally didn't quote the exact verse(s) so people will have to look them up on their own).

What is also true is that many church sources say that the dark skin itself was not a curse in itself.  There are many sources on our Church website that say this (we can discuss some if you really want to).

So which is it?   I really don't know; I'm just agreeing that some of the Church bureaucracy seems to want it both ways.

PS, this isn't a critisizm, but a curiousity, at least for me.  I certainly don't have a good answer and I can't and won't claim that I can do a good job in figuring it out better than the next man or woman.  

Edited by Scott

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Guest Scott
8 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

But Joseph Smith was clearly on board with the idea of “whitening” the native Americans; and there’s some evidence that that’s how he got the idea for polygamy in the first place (LDS men taking Indian women as plural wives and raising up a generation of mixed-race children).

At least and if we are to believe second hand accounts.

For those who do not know what Just_A_Guy is referring to, it was reported by WW Phelps to Brigham Young that Joseph Smith told Sydney Rigdon, Martin Harris, and himself that missionaries to Missouri were to take polygamous native wives when the time came.  According to WW Phelps at least, this was in 1831 and our Church keeps the record in the archives.

Here is the excerpt as written by WW Phelps:

It is my will, that in time, ye should take unto you wives of the Lamanites and Nephites, that their posterity may become white, delightsome, and Just, for even now their females are more virtuous than the gentiles.

(Of note, it is curious that Nephites are also mentioned since they were supposedly all wiped out?).


WW Phelps is a curious figure in our Church History.  He was excommunicated more than once, but at times was very steadfast and faithful.   He died a faithful member of the Church.   He wrote a lot of the Hymns in our hymn books, including the still popular The Spirit of God Like a Fire Is Burning, Now Let Us Rejoice, and Praise to the Man.  

He was also excommunicated (but only for a few days) for taking an unauthorized plural wife.  Does this lessen his trustworthiness when speaking of the supposed statements by Joseph Smith?   I guess it could, but given WW Phelps' faithfulness in his latter years, it seems like his story might have some credibility.  

In addition to what WW Phelps said, Joseph Smith (at least in several second hand accounts) said that Zelph was a white Lamanite so if the story was reported correct (Joseph Smith never wrote the story himself; others reported what he said), some Lamanites either were white or became white.  I have always took this to mean skin color, but of course this is not certain.   

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The real problem, as I perceive it, is that the general populous of the world is incapable of understanding that repercussions of an act or event is indicative of the original actors and not those impacted.  Adam partaking of the fruit impacted the entire human race by subjecting us to mortality, pain, suffering, and death.  However, Adam and Eve were the ones who chose to disobey God; their children are subject to the repercussions of their action, but are not accountable for them in any way.  The unenlightened Christian world decided on their own that the opposite is true, that because of what Adam did, all mankind are individually and personally accountable for it, which is one of the stupidest man-made ideas ever.

'Affected by' and 'accountable for' are very different in principle and application.  I believe early members of the Church were simply blinded by cultural norms and therefore failed to correctly connect the dots in understanding that skin tone is irrelevant to faithfulness and stature before God, at any point in time, regardless of whether or not it was a repercussion passed down by the actions of their ancestor(s).

That said, just because I am not responsible for the actions of my father, do not mean I am unaffected by them.  The child of a convicted murderer may grow up without his father, but that is merely the effect upon the child, the father is the one who received the legal punishment.  If people will simply seek to understand this truth, it will help them far beyond the realm of race. 

Do we not all believe that Christ was negatively affected by our sins?  And yet, how do we perceive and receive him?  If the Laminates skin was made dark as a curse upon the parents, does that change the righteousness of King Lamoni, or his father after they repented and came to a knowledge of the truth?  Do we yet see them as vile heathen?  What about Samuel the Lamanite?  Does anyone question his righteousness, or faithfulness?  Or do we see him as a prophet of God?

Sometimes the affects of the sins of parents can impact their children in a way that deprives them of certain blessings during mortality.  That does not mean it is the child's fault and most certainly does not mean the child will always be deprived of those blessings into the eternities.  A child born with Fetal Alchohol Syndrome is negatively affected, for his entire life, because of the actions of his parents; does the mean he is lesser before the Lord?  No.  Does it mean that when I got a call asking to take in a child with said condition that I did not feel comfortable with voluntarily placing my other children in that situation?  Yes, it does.

So, why are people bothered about the truth that a curse, including dark skin, was placed upon the initial ancestors of the Lamanites?  Because they cannot, or choose not to see beyond the mark, both literally and figuratively.  I see no problem with the way the initial passages were written in the manual, although a brief discussion on the principles I expounded above could have been useful, and in fact, would likely be more beneficial to the membership of the Church, than the assuaging language that is now in place.  I presume this may be a 'he who hath ears to hear, let him hear' situation.

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10 hours ago, Scott said:

What has not changed is that the Book of Mormon (all volumes) say that the dark skin itself was a curse.  As far as I know all volumes say this.   Do you disagree or agree?  (PS, I intentionally didn't quote the exact verse(s) so people will have to look them up on their own).

What is also true is that many church sources say that the dark skin itself was not a curse in itself.  There are many sources on our Church website that say this (we can discuss some if you really want to).

So which is it?   I really don't know; I'm just agreeing that some of the Church bureaucracy seems to want it both ways.

I agree with you, the Book of Mormon states unequivocally that the dark skin was a curse. And I agree with you, some elements in the Church seem to be trying to soft-pedal or even back-pedal on that doctrine.

I don't find this teaching to be a big deal. In my mind, it seems fairly clear that the curse and the sign of the curse are often used interchangeably.

Consider the practice of circumcision in the law of Moses. Circumcision was the token of the law, not the law itself. Yet how many early Christian Jews were reluctant to part with the practice? Even Paul himself called it "the law". Only careful analysis convinced most people that circumcision itself didn't mean anything, and that the law was something different from the token of the law.

I think it's likely the same phenomenon going on with "dark skin as the curse" vs. "dark skin as a sign of the curse". If you're a Nephite living 2400 years ago, do you really even care whether dark skin is the curse itself or just a sign of it? I mean, your actions are the same either way: You avoid marrying or perhaps even interacting with the people who have the dark skin, at the probable peril of your very life. Witness the utter astonishment and scorn that accompanied the decision of the sons of Mosiah to go live among—gasp!—the Lamanites! It was suicide! What rational human being would willingly do such a thing? A rebel, maybe, someone who hated the Nephites and wanted to foment destruction for them, but not any decent person.

Soon enough, this seemingly insignificant, technical-sounding distinction becomes all-important. At one point, the Nephites become so wicked that they are ripening for utter destruction, and it is only by the teachings of the faithful, dark-skinned Lamanites that some of the Nephites repent and return. At that point, the disconnect between the curse (separation from God, aka spiritual death) and the old sign of that curse (dark skin) becomes apparent. After the coming of Christ among the Nephites, you never really hear about skin color having any significance. The whole idea seems to have become irrelevant. But it certainly was not irrelevant when the Lord first instituted the idea, way back when Laman and Lemuel and their followers openly sought to murder Nephi and his people.

I am not ashamed of the Book of Mormon or of its teachings. I do in fact believe it to be the most correct book on the face of the earth, Bible and Doctrine and Covenants included. The Nephites and Lamanites were real peoples. Dark skin was given as a curse, or at least as a sign of a curse, upon those who rebelled against God. That dark skin is no sign today of curse or disfavor says nothing about its significance 2400 years ago.

The problem, of course, is that many of the politically correct LDS haters want to use the religious historical fact of dark skin being a curse (or a sign of a curse) as a club to bludgeon the Saints of the latter days. Instead of simply raising both middle fingers toward such liars, the Church has chosen the more Christ-like path of trying to educate the honest among them. Given the low IQ of your average American and his/her resultant inability to discriminate (oops, bad word) distinguish between a curse and a sign of a curse, the Church's leadership appears to have chosen to simply affirm that we aren't nasty racists and that we disclaim racism in all forms, both in the past and today. Given the racial tenor of 19th century American society (and 20th century, and 21st century), some incorrect applications of those doctrines have inevitably leaked over. This is doubly true given the Priesthood ban on those of African descent (not strictly racial, but effectively so) which was not lifted until 1978.

I do not see the Church's efforts to (1) decry racism and (2) disclaim earlier ideas (even if some of them might have been right) as any effort to distance ourselves from Book of Mormon doctrines. I see it as an effort to preach the truths of the gospel in a badly benighted, unashamedly stupid world where some are so blinded with manufactured rage that they won't and perhaps can't see the truth unless its preachers dance the dance juuuuuuuust right.

Do I find many elements of that distasteful? You bet i do. So be it. God appears not to base his policies around my tastes and distastes. Unlike me, he loves all his creations, and he looks past the idiocy openly on display in an effort to find and ennoble that Godly core in each of us. I try sincerely to support all such efforts, even those that rankle. Because in the end, I'm one of those idiots, and I depend on that love and forbearance (the scriptures call it grace) just as much as anyone else.

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10 hours ago, Scott said:

(Of note, it is curious that Nephites are also mentioned since they were supposedly all wiped out?).

The Book of Mormon makes it exceedingly clear that all the Nephites were destroyed except those who deserted over to the Lamanites. Way back at the very beginning of Nephite history, Nephi himself learns that his people (as a whole) will be destroyed, and that only a remnant of his seed would continue among the seed of his brethren. So the mention of modern-day "Nephites", i.e. descendants of Nephi, should come as no surprise to anyone.

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3 hours ago, person0 said:

...The unenlightened Christian world decided on their own that the opposite is true, that because of what Adam did, all mankind are individually and personally accountable for it, which is one of the stupidest man-made ideas ever....

That is not true. Original sin is the sin that was inherited through Adam and Eve and it gives us the tendency to sin. Actual sin that humankind commits is the sin that is accountable.

M. 

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13 minutes ago, Maureen said:

That is not true. Original sin is the sin that was inherited through Adam and Eve and it gives us the tendency to sin. Actual sin that humankind commits is the sin that is accountable.

M. 

Incorrect.

Mankind is accountable for original sin which is why Baptism is needed.

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50 minutes ago, anatess2 said:

Incorrect.

Mankind is accountable for original sin which is why Baptism is needed.

Protestants also believe in original sin and baptism is not necessary in many protestant faiths.

M.

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I was reading an article about this confusing topic in LDS  Living.com about Marvin Perkins. The title is, “How We Misinterpret "Black" and "Curse" in the Scriptures: Insights from an African American Convert“. This guy says “It’s understandable that many would read the scriptures and associate the word ‘black’ in all of its forms, relating to man, in the same way they believe it to be fact in our society. The Saints, and those of other faiths as well, instinctually assume that this word is in reference to race, nationality, or color of skin. . . . The LDS version of the King James Bible and the Book of Mormon help us to understand that the word black is actually a Hebrew idiom, meaning gloomy, dejected, or spiritual darkness, and has nothing to do with skin tone.“


Ok so that’s a nice thought. But I can see this explanation causing those who suffer from depression- which makes one feel “gloomy, dejected and can cause spiritual darkness” feel even worse than they already do. “So is this a curse from God? I never did anything to deserve this. God must hate me. “
 

One could really go down the rabbit hole with this explanation of “black skin”, too. 
 

link to the whole article:  https://www.ldsliving.com/How-We-Misinterpret-Black-and-Curse-in-the-Scriptures-Insights-from-a-Black-Convert/s/88562

Edited by carlimac

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Brother Perkins may invent whatever explanations make him feel better. I sincerely wish him well. But all his verbal dancing around cannot avoid the fact of what the Book of Mormon actually says.

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Guest LiterateParakeet
1 hour ago, carlimac said:

I was reading an article about this confusing topic in LDS  Living.com about Marvin Perkins. The title is, “How We Misinterpret "Black" and "Curse" in the Scriptures: Insights from an African American Convert“. 

I  like the article and the related one on the site  that talks about Elder Stevenson and quotes him as:

“We’re asking our members to disregard the paragraph in the printed manual,” he said, according to Deseret News. “Now I’m deeply saddened and hurt by this error and for any pain that it may have caused our members and for others. I would just like to reiterate our position as a Church is clear. We do condemn all racism, past and present, in any form, and we disavow any theory advanced that black or dark skin is a sign of a curse.”

https://www.ldsliving.com/At-NAACP-Luncheon-Elder-Stevenson-Teaches-All-Are-Alike-Unto-God-Addresses-Printing-Error-in-Come-Follow-Me-Regarding-Race/s/92253

Edited by LiterateParakeet

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Guest MormonGator
2 hours ago, carlimac said:

Ok so that’s a nice thought. But I can see this explanation causing those who suffer from depression- which makes one feel “gloomy, dejected and can cause spiritual darkness” feel even worse than they already do. “So is this a curse from God? I never did anything to deserve this. God must hate me. “

And in fairness, African-Americans might read some passages and think the same thing. 

Edited by MormonGator

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