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Book of Mormon white supremacy??

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I know people that can find white supremacy in this:  "For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them ball to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile."

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Now days being white, especially with blue eyes automatically makes one a systemic racist? -- regardless of what such a person believes or does.

 

The Traveler

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https://www.history.com/topics/colonial-america/salem-witch-trials

Quote

The infamous Salem witch COVID-19 trials began during the spring of 1692 2020, after a group of young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts progressives in various left-leaning American cities, claimed to be possessed by the devil allies of victims of racism and accused several local women police departments of witchcraft systemic racism. As a wave of hysteria spread throughout colonial Massachusetts online media, a special court convened in Salem rioters took to the streets to hear the cases act as judge, jury, and executioner;  the first convicted witch racist, was hanged summarily fired without police union representation that June. 

 

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On 8/5/2020 at 4:58 PM, Traveler said:

Now days being white, especially with blue eyes automatically makes one a systemic racist? -- regardless of what such a person believes or does.

The Traveler

I think the term "systemic racist" implies that everyone living in and affected by the system is racist by definition, regardless of racial designation and personal beliefs, unless they actively engage in identifying and eradicating the causes of "systemic racism." These causes are basically the plans, policies and actions instituted by those in power -- knowingly or not --  that promote the status quo where some race populations are measured to fare better/worse than others. The root of these causes of course is self-interest. In this way, the "have-nots" are as much systemic racists as the "haves."

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Could the Nephites have been "racist" in their views of the Lamanites? Well, yes it is quite plausible but I lean towards ethnocentrism. Having said that,  I cannot get over the "white and exceedingly fair" when talking about Hebrews...

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14 hours ago, Suzie said:

Could the Nephites have been "racist" in their views of the Lamanites? Well, yes it is quite plausible but I lean towards ethnocentrism. Having said that,  I cannot get over the "white and exceedingly fair" when talking about Hebrews...

We all have attraction biases. White people are generally more attracted to white people and black people to black people, etc. There's nothing wrong with this. We are generally attracted to those with whom we have things in common (skin color as well as a myriad of other things including belief system). And it's no secret that God has used this fact to discourage "believers" from intermarrying with non believers. 2 Nephi 5 tells us straight out that this is the case. But in no instance is race ever referred to as a sign of inferiority or making someone of less value in the eyes of God or righteous men and women. That is the true evil of racism. Were there Nephites who looked down upon the Lamanites simply because of their skin color? Undoubtedly. But the prophets in the Book of Mormon speak out against such notions. Their invitation is for all to come until Christ. Besides, if anyone wanted to argue the point a strong case could be made that the converted Lamanites were a more favored people than the Nephites because of their strictness in keeping the commandments of God. They are the ones we should seek to emulate.

Edited by laronius

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15 hours ago, Suzie said:

Could the Nephites have been "racist" in their views of the Lamanites? Well, yes it is quite plausible but I lean towards ethnocentrism. Having said that,  I cannot get over the "white and exceedingly fair" when talking about Hebrews...

Not sure exactly how what I’m about to say applies, but it seems worth noting here that when conservatives try to distinguish “race” from “culture” or “ethnicity” they are typically pooh-poohed and condemned as racists (and fired and banished from polite society) by all Right Thinking People.

At any rate, Jacob 3 specifically says the Nephites were reviling against the Lamanites because of the darkness of their skins.  We can flirt with the revisionist idea that in the BoM, “skin” doesn’t mean “skin” and “dark” doesn’t mean “dark”; but that leaves us with a Book of Mormon that doesn’t condemn racism.  I prefer a Book of Mormon that condemns racism. ;) 

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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16 hours ago, Suzie said:

Could the Nephites have been "racist" in their views of the Lamanites? Well, yes it is quite plausible but I lean towards ethnocentrism. Having said that,  I cannot get over the "white and exceedingly fair" when talking about Hebrews...

There are studies that explain that in the ancient Hebrew culture, "white and exceedingly fair" refers to clothing and related covenant or temple language. 

52 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Not sure exactly how what I’m about to say applies, but it seems worth noting here that when conservatives try to distinguish “race” from “culture” or “ethnicity” they are typically pooh-poohed and condemned as racists (and fired and banished from polite society) by all Right Thinking People.

At any rate, Jacob 3 specifically says the Nephites were reviling against the Lamanites because of the darkness of their skins.  We can flirt with the revisionist idea that in the BoM, “skin” doesn’t mean “skin” and “dark” doesn’t mean “dark”; but that leaves us with a Book of Mormon that doesn’t condemn racism.  I prefer a Book of Mormon that condemns racism. ;) 

Racism often intersects culture and ethnicity (as well as attitudes about many other human characteristics and constructs, both natural/genetic and social), and this is why I think they often get merged into "racism". It is hard to tease them apart, and one form of power abuse (bigotry) is no better than the other, anyway.

I don't think the Book of Mormon condemns racism explicitly, but its teaching that all God's children are treated equally under the Atonement of Christ ("all a alike unto God") and its record of laws for inspired secular (Mosiah 29:38, Alma 30:11) and church (Alma 1:26) government certainly sends a the message that racism is (among all other forms of inequality) is wrong.

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2 hours ago, CV75 said:

It is hard to tease them apart, and one form of power abuse (bigotry) is no better than the other, anyway.

I don’t know that I’d go that far.  Some cultures are in some respects objectively better/more successful than others.  A culture that values chastity and family life is better than one that doesn’t.  A culture that incentivizes hard work is going to be more prosperous than one that incentivized indolence and theft.  A culture that values environmental stewardship, taking care of one’s body, and scientific investigation is going to enjoy better health than a culture that doesn’t.  

All may be alike unto God, but the Title of Liberty was a pean to Nephite culture in response to the influences of Lamanitish propagandists who were sure that Nephite power was rooted in the past exploitation of their forefathers.  And the Nephites had the good sense to refuse the Gadianton robbers’ offer of merger; because the Gadiantons had an objectively inferior culture and the Nephites weren’t afraid to say it—no matter how much the Gadiantons whined about “power imbalances”.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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6 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I don’t know that I’d go that far.  Some cultures are in some respects objectively better/more successful than others.  A culture that values chastity and family life is better than one that doesn’t.  A culture that incentivizes hard work is going to be more prosperous than one that incentivized indolence and theft.  A culture that values environmental stewardship, taking care of one’s body, and scientific investigation is going to enjoy better health than a culture that doesn’t.  

All may be alike unto God, but the Title of Liberty was a pean to Nephite culture in response to the influences of Lamanitish propagandists who were sure that Nephite power was rooted in the past exploitation of their forefathers.  And the Nephites had the good sense to refuse the Gadianton robbers’ offer of merger; because the Gadiantons had an objectively inferior culture and the Nephites weren’t afraid to say it—no matter how much the Gadiantons whined about “power imbalances”.

I don't see any examples in the Book of Mormon where the Nephites were abusing power unless they were in a state of rebellion and wickedness  (e.g. their imprisonment, rape and cannibalism of Lamanite daughters in the final war of record). Sometimes the Lamanites were in a better state than the Nephites, and they both reached a united zenith when they came together as one under Christ.

Objective measures of success in granular areas of culture can still be accompanied by great wickedness within that same culture (See Ether 10:10-13), and as demonstrated by the Nephites, those areas can quickly turn from great to depraved. The Book of Mormon attests to the principle that ultimate success is defined by adherence to the principles of the Gospel and the culture of Zion (the more, the better), and ultimate failure to their rejection. A Zion culture approaches any comparison with other cultures with humility so as not to engender enmity and contention.

For this reason it is possible for a successful culture as measured by one set of standards can also fail in other areas, such as how people might fare differently (better or worse) within that culture simply because of their skin color. There are no specific examples of this in the Book of Mormon that I can see, but someone embedded in such a culture might interpret such racism in the Book of Mormon.

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12 hours ago, CV75 said:

I don't see any examples in the Book of Mormon where the Nephites were abusing power unless they were in a state of rebellion and wickedness  (e.g. their imprisonment, rape and cannibalism of Lamanite daughters in the final war of record). Sometimes the Lamanites were in a better state than the Nephites, and they both reached a united zenith when they came together as one under Christ.

Objective measures of success in granular areas of culture can still be accompanied by great wickedness within that same culture (See Ether 10:10-13), and as demonstrated by the Nephites, those areas can quickly turn from great to depraved. The Book of Mormon attests to the principle that ultimate success is defined by adherence to the principles of the Gospel and the culture of Zion (the more, the better), and ultimate failure to their rejection. A Zion culture approaches any comparison with other cultures with humility so as not to engender enmity and contention.

For this reason it is possible for a successful culture as measured by one set of standards can also fail in other areas, such as how people might fare differently (better or worse) within that culture simply because of their skin color. There are no specific examples of this in the Book of Mormon that I can see, but someone embedded in such a culture might interpret such racism in the Book of Mormon.

I largely agree; with the following caveats:

—“Power abuses”, very often, are in the eye of the beholder.  The Lamanites sincerely believed themselves to be the victims of Nephite usurpations (see Mosiah 10).  In Alma 50, Moroni launches a pre-emptive war against Lamanites living in the east wilderness.  Mormon hints, in Alma 43:30, that Moroni’s defensive strategies may not have fallen under the prevailing concept of “just war” as the Nephites and Lamanites has thitherto understood the notion.

4 Nephi 1, and the rantings of antichrists like Korihor, show that nonbelievers in a majoritarian Zion society often tend to  consider themselves oppressed—and will develop a hatred for the Saints as a result. Certainly, we want to be open to the idea that there are things we can do better.  On the other hand, we don’t need to immediately be swept into a wave of oikophobia just because some malcontents who have consistently refused to do the things we have done, start claiming that they are abused or oppressed because they don’t have all the things we have.

—I think Jacob 3 establishes a prima facie case that racism was a problem in early Nephite times; though we don’t really know the countours/applications of that racism other than that it led to generic Nephite “revilings” (whatever that meant).  It may also be worth noting that there seems to be no evidence that the Nephites made a wholesale effort to integrate Anti-Nephi-Lehites into their own mainstream society—they lived separately and away from the Nephite population centers; and, when their descendants entered military service, they fought in separate units.  George Wallace would have approved.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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2 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I largely agree; with the following caveats:

—“Power abuses”, very often, are in the eye of the beholder.  The Lamanites sincerely believed themselves to be the victims of Nephite usurpations (see Mosiah 10).  In Alma 50, Moroni launches a pre-emptive war against Lamanites living in the east wilderness.  Mormon hints, in Alma 43:30, that Moroni’s defensive strategies may not have fallen under the prevailing concept of “just war” as the Nephites and Lamanites has thitherto understood the notion.

4 Nephi 1, and the rantings of antichrists like Korihor, show that nonbelievers in a majoritarian Zion society often tend to  consider themselves oppressed—and will develop a hatred for the Saints as a result. Certainly, we want to be open to the idea that there are things we can do better.  On the other hand, we don’t need to immediately be swept into a wave of oikophobia just because some malcontents who have consistently refused to do the things we have done, start claiming that they are abused or oppressed because they don’t have all the things we have.

—I think Jacob 3 establishes a prima facie case that racism was a problem in early Nephite times; though we don’t really know the countours/applications of that racism other than that it led to generic Nephite “revilings” (whatever that meant).  It may also be worth noting that there seems to be no evidence that the Nephites made a wholesale effort to integrate Anti-Nephi-Lehites into their own mainstream society—they lived separately and away from the Nephite population centers; and, when their descendants entered military service, they fought in separate units.  George Wallace would have approved.

The justification for the multi-generational conflicts among the family of Lehi in the Book of Mormon seem to be over rightful authority (religious and secular), not the concentration of melanin. Colorism is never found in the record to be used by either party  to justify which is right or wrong with regards to adherence to the gospel or law, and Lamanites are never rejected from Nephite religious or secular society on this basis.

Granting cultural space for the Anti-Nephi-Lehites is akin to our creation of specific language-speaking wards and the Genesis project, and even YSA Wards. This approach is nether a means to segregate or prevent assimilation, but rather for cultural/ethnic groups to thrive in the gospel within their own family or society. The diversity is then leveraged to strengthen the whole when we bring our various strengths to the table fora common cause. For example, had they or their parents assimilated, the 2,000 stripling warriors may well have been reduced in number by succumbing to the internal strifes that hounded Nephite effectiveness against the Lamanites.

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1 hour ago, CV75 said:

The justification for the multi-generational conflicts among the family of Lehi in the Book of Mormon seem to be over rightful authority (religious and secular), not the concentration of melanin.


Granted; but I understood you as saying that non-racial “power abuse” is just as bad as race-based.

Colorism is never found in the record to be used by either party  to justify which is right or wrong with regards to adherence to the gospel or law, and Lamanites are never rejected from Nephite religious or secular society on this basis. 


I can only cite to Jacob 3 so many times here, you know. ;) 

Granting cultural space for the Anti-Nephi-Lehites is akin to our creation of specific language-speaking wards and the Genesis project, and even YSA Wards. This approach is nether a means to segregate or prevent assimilation, but rather for cultural/ethnic groups to thrive in the gospel within their own family or society.


 

Yes, thats how we justify it.  That’s how many segregationists justifies their preferences, too.

The purpose for my saying this isn’t to suggest that the Church is right or wrong for having separate branches; or that the Nephites were right or wrong to segregate from the Anti-Nephi-Lehis.  My purpose is to out that defining “abuses of power” is an inconveniently slippery business; and all too often when we try to identify “abuses” we wind up falling into the trap of concluding that “it’s different when THEY do it”.

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1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

Granted; but I understood you as saying that non-racial “power abuse” is just as bad as race-based.


I can only cite to Jacob 3 so many times here, you know. ;) 

Yes, thats how we justify it.  That’s how many segregationists justifies their preferences, too.

The purpose for my saying this isn’t to suggest that the Church is right or wrong for having separate branches; or that the Nephites were right or wrong to segregate from the Anti-Nephi-Lehis.  My purpose is to out that defining “abuses of power” is an inconveniently slippery business; and all too often when we try to identify “abuses” we wind up falling into the trap of concluding that “it’s different when THEY do it”.

Yes, I do think that all forms of power abuse are equally bad (in that they are just as bad, all other things considered). Often racism gets tagged onto the actual motive(s), or is seen as the primary motive when the issues might be economic, cultural, ethnic, etc. I think the degree of “badness” of one kind of abuses over another depends on the specifics of the dynamics under comparison, and sometimes the worst goes unrecognized.

In Jacob 3, someone of one culture (e.g. ours, in the USA) might read literal skin color, and someone from other culture (as some of our scholars are finding) might read symbolic or metaphorical language for spiritual condition. In either case, the reader is hopefully learning not to revile (speak contemptuously of or to others, according to Webster 1828), all being the children of God and equal candidates for salvation.

I see segregation and separate space as two different things, but I understand where you are coming from. At face value, segregationists aim to keep people apart while those who promote spaces of fellowship aim to keep them connected.

Hopefully when it comes to the point of confronting, challenging and changing “abuses of power” it can be communicated and carried out in a way that draws upon the good faith of all concerned, so they agree, which is how Zion is built. Not everyone will be happy with that!

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30 minutes ago, CV75 said:

In Jacob 3, someone of one culture (e.g. ours, in the USA) might read literal skin color, and someone from another culture (as some of our scholars are finding) might read symbolic or metaphorical language for spiritual condition. In either case, the reader is hopefully learning not to revile (speak contemptuously of or to others, according to Webster 1828), all being the children of God and equal candidates for salvation.

 

I’m sorry if I seem to be perseverating on differences here. It’s just that I agree with the vast majority of what you wrote—but agreement is so boring! ;) 

That said:

If, when approaching the BoM, we are OK using the mainstream 1828 American definition of “revile”, why can’t we use the mainstream 1828  American definitions of “dark” and “skin”?

I suspect we both know the answer:  because such readings provide precedent for the idea of a change in skin tone as denoting a divine curse—or at least, a *sign* of a divine curse—and the revisionist BoM scholars are ashamed of being part of an institution that buys into that kind of idea.  They fear the condemnation of their secularist peers whose approval, they fancy, they could finally earn if they’d just jettison a little more of their latent Mormonism.

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I’m sorry if I seem to be perseverating on differences here. It’s just that I agree with the vast majority of what you wrote—but agreement is so boring! ;) 

That said:

If, when approaching the BoM, we are OK using the mainstream 1828 American definition of “revile”, why can’t we use the mainstream 1828  American definitions of “dark” and “skin”?

I suspect we both know the answer:  because such readings provide precedent for the idea of a change in skin tone as denoting a divine curse—or at least, a *sign* of a divine curse—and the revisionist BoM scholars are ashamed of being part of an institution that buys into that kind of idea.  They fear the condemnation of their secularist peers whose approval, they fancy, they could finally earn if they’d just jettison a little more of their latent Mormonism.

No problem! I am enjoying and learning from our conversation!

We of the 19th - 21st century can use the 1828 American definitions of dark and skin, and certainly have, but when we obtain a clearer perspective of how the Nephites (ancient Hebrews) used the terminology in relation to the covenants of Israel, we can adopt those. But even if we don’t, the Book of Mormon message is antithetical to reviling people for their dark skin (both then and now), and the attitudes between the Lamanites and Nephites were not rooted in the color of their skins but by their traditions in relation to keeping or breaking the covenants.

I understand the idea of skin tone and curse to be from the 16th century, originally having to do with power and wealth brokers justifying the morality and expansion of the slave trade on biblical and scientific bases, which subsequently got embedded in the ethos of any colony that relied upon slavery for its existence (the Church speaks to this climate in 19th century America in the Race and Priesthood essay). So naturally racist policies and attitudes were and still are fairly well ingrained in America -- despite the ideals promoted in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and which still rendered America the best place on earth for The Restoration to begin. A description of how this affects the Church and her members is found in the same essay, and still the Lord rolls things along. Despite the Christian ideals in her standard works, some members have known no other culture than one that held remnants of ideas and policy from the days of racially justified slave trade long after the institution of slavery was challenged and abandoned.

I can’t speak to the motives of the scholars, but their research can be evaluated, and then of course we always choose which evidences to believe. But whichever lens is used, we will find no justification at all for racism by the commandment not to revile the cursed.

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On 8/9/2020 at 5:10 PM, CV75 said:

No problem! I am enjoying and learning from our conversation!

We of the 19th - 21st century can use the 1828 American definitions of dark and skin, and certainly have, but when we obtain a clearer perspective of how the Nephites (ancient Hebrews) used the terminology in relation to the covenants of Israel, we can adopt those. But even if we don’t, the Book of Mormon message is antithetical to reviling people for their dark skin (both then and now), and the attitudes between the Lamanites and Nephites were not rooted in the color of their skins but by their traditions in relation to keeping or breaking the covenants.

We aren’t really getting a “clearer perspective”, though; we’re getting politically convenient theories that ignore all the times that the BoM (let alone the Hebrew Bible) unambiguously and literally applied terms like “skin” (1 Ne 17:11, Enos 1:20, Mosiah 17:13, Alma 3:5, Alma 20:29, Alma 43:20, Alma 44:18, Alma 49:6, 3 Ne 4:7) and “black” (2 Ne 7:3).  The scholars can only give us a “maybe”; and they ignore the fact that the one person in this dispensation who is known to have actually talked to Lehites and (if we believe Lucy Mack Smith) could describe “their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, and their buildings, with every particular; he would describe their mode of warfare, as also their religious worship . . . with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them”; took the passages in question quite literally.    

But even if we don’t, the Book of Mormon message is antithetical to reviling people for their dark skin (both then and now), and the attitudes between the Lamanites and Nephites were not rooted in the color of their skins but by their traditions in relation to keeping or breaking the covenants.

Agreed; and I hope my posts in this thread have not been interpreted as suggesting otherwise. 

I understand the idea of skin tone and curse to be from the 16th century, originally having to do with power and wealth brokers justifying the morality and expansion of the slave trade on biblical and scientific bases, which subsequently got embedded in the ethos of any colony that relied upon slavery for its existence (the Church speaks to this climate in 19th century America in the Race and Priesthood essay). So naturally racist policies and attitudes were and still are fairly well ingrained in America -- despite the ideals promoted in the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and which still rendered America the best place on earth for The Restoration to begin. A description of how this affects the Church and her members is found in the same essay, and still the Lord rolls things along. Despite the Christian ideals in her standard works, some members have known no other culture than one that held remnants of ideas and policy from the days of racially justified slave trade long after the institution of slavery was challenged and abandoned.

I don’t disagree, in principle, with the idea that racism has left a legacy in modern America.  From what I can see, there is disagreement (and scant evidence either way) regarding whether classical civilizations made much of skin-tone differences (as opposed to broader cultural/ethnic differences), or the degree to which they attributed these differences to deity. 

And even assuming arguendo that the roots of modern western racism arose only in the 16th century (making Shakespeare’s “Othello” very avante garde), that says nothing about what God did or didn’t do with past, now-extinct civilizations; or the way those civilizations interpreted His actions.  The Book of Mormon does speak to both of those issues.  Assuming that the Book of Mormon doesn’t mean what it says, just because we have little or no scholastic confirmation thereof and just because something it says makes us uncomfortable; sort of defeats the purpose of having the Book of Mormon at all.   

I can’t speak to the motives of the scholars, but their research can be evaluated, and then of course we always choose which evidences to believe.

Indeed; and as I note above, their research is a lot weaker, much less comprehensive, and far less conclusive than they’d like you to believe.

But my dear fellow, even if you are uninterested in the motivations of the intelligentsia; you can rest assured that the self-proclaimed intelligentsia are very much interested in your motivations.  Try to argue with them a literal change in skin color amongst the Lehites, or—better yet—argue that the Church’s priesthood ban had divine precedent and/or approval.  See how long they can go without resorting to ad hominem.  Make those arguments under your own name, and see how long it is before your employer gets an email:  “Hey, that CV75 fellow is actually a crypto-racist; and you don’t want a crypto-racist working for you--do you?" 

I think it's well past time for a little turnabout.  With the vast majority of these scholars, there’s a very clear progression here:

1)      The Book of Mormon doesn’t really talk about any sort of divine race-based exclusion.

2)      There is no divine precedent for a race-based exclusion.

3)      The Church’s priesthood ban was a man-made usurpation, not a divinely-instituted policy.

4)      Other Church, current policies are theoretically man-made usurpations borne of prejudice, not divinely-instituted policies.

5)      The Church’s policies regarding—say—the law of chastity, or priesthood ordination eligibility, are also man-made usurpations borne of prejudice and not divinely-instituted policies. 

If these “scholars” want me to trust their integrity, then I’d like to hear them say “shibboleth” first.  Let’s have them publicly post, under their own names, one of the following statements:

  • “I accept whole-heartedly and without reservation, every word of the Proclamation on the Family.”
  • “Children are most likely to succeed in a home headed by a father and a mother who are married to each other.” 
  • “Sex outside of marriage, and gay sex in any circumstances, are always sinful.”
  • “God’s plan does not allow for gay sealings.”
  • “I support the Church’s exclusion of women from the priesthood unless or until the prophet gets a revelation to the contrary.” 

Offhand I can think of maybe a dozen "scholars" who argue against a literal Lamanite skin change.  I can only think of two of those who I believe would publicly agree with (more softly-worded versions of) the bulleted statements above--and perhaps coincidentally, they are probably the most open-minded and ambiguous in their writings questioning a literal skin-tone change. 

But whichever lens is used, we will find no justification at all for racism by the commandment not to revile the cursed.

Again—I agree with you; and I hope I haven’t created any impression to the contrary. 

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1 hour ago, Just_A_Guy said:

We aren’t really getting a “clearer perspective”, though; we’re getting politically convenient theories that ignore all the times that the BoM (let alone the Hebrew Bible) unambiguously and literally applied terms like “skin” (1 Ne 17:11, Enos 1:20, Mosiah 17:13, Alma 3:5, Alma 20:29, Alma 43:20, Alma 44:18, Alma 49:6, 3 Ne 4:7) and “black” (2 Ne 7:3).  The scholars can only give us a “maybe”; and they ignore the fact that the one person in this dispensation who is known to have actually talked to Lehites and (if we believe Lucy Mack Smith) could describe “their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, and their buildings, with every particular; he would describe their mode of warfare, as also their religious worship . . . with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them”; took the passages in question quite literally.   

Agreed; and I hope my posts in this thread have not been interpreted as suggesting otherwise.

I don’t disagree, in principle, with the idea that racism has left a legacy in modern America.  From what I can see, there is disagreement (and scant evidence either way) regarding whether classical civilizations made much of skin-tone differences (as opposed to broader cultural/ethnic differences), or the degree to which they attributed these differences to deity. 

And even assuming arguendo that the roots of modern western racism arose only in the 16th century (making Shakespeare’s “Othello” very avante garde), that says nothing about what God did or didn’t do with past, now-extinct civilizations; or the way those civilizations interpreted His actions.  The Book of Mormon does speak to both of those issues.  Assuming that the Book of Mormon doesn’t mean what it says, just because we have little or no scholastic confirmation thereof and just because something it says makes us uncomfortable; sort of defeats the purpose of having the Book of Mormon at all.  

Indeed; and as I note above, their research is a lot weaker, much less comprehensive, and far less conclusive than they’d like you to believe.

But my dear fellow, even if you are uninterested in the motivations of the intelligentsia; you can rest assured that the self-proclaimed intelligentsia are very much interested in your motivations.  Try to argue with them a literal change in skin color amongst the Lehites, or—better yet—argue that the Church’s priesthood ban had divine precedent and/or approval.  See how long they can go without resorting to ad hominem.  Make those arguments under your own name, and see how long it is before your employer gets an email:  “Hey, that CV75 fellow is actually a crypto-racist; and you don’t want a crypto-racist working for you--do you?" 

I think it's well past time for a little turnabout.  With the vast majority of these scholars, there’s a very clear progression here:

1)      The Book of Mormon doesn’t really talk about any sort of divine race-based exclusion.

2)      There is no divine precedent for a race-based exclusion.

3)      The Church’s priesthood ban was a man-made usurpation, not a divinely-instituted policy.

4)      Other Church, current policies are theoretically man-made usurpations borne of prejudice, not divinely-instituted policies.

5)      The Church’s policies regarding—say—the law of chastity, or priesthood ordination eligibility, are also man-made usurpations borne of prejudice and not divinely-instituted policies. 

If these “scholars” want me to trust their integrity, then I’d like to hear them say “shibboleth” first.  Let’s have them publicly post, under their own names, one of the following statements:

  • “I accept whole-heartedly and without reservation, every word of the Proclamation on the Family.”
  • “Children are most likely to succeed in a home headed by a father and a mother who are married to each other.” 
  • “Sex outside of marriage, and gay sex in any circumstances, are always sinful.”
  • “God’s plan does not allow for gay sealings.”
  • “I support the Church’s exclusion of women from the priesthood unless or until the prophet gets a revelation to the contrary.” 

Offhand I can think of maybe a dozen "scholars" who argue against a literal Lamanite skin change.  I can only think of two of those who I believe would publicly agree with (more softly-worded versions of) the bulleted statements above--and perhaps coincidentally, they are probably the most open-minded and ambiguous in their writings questioning a literal skin-tone change.

Again—I agree with you; and I hope I haven’t created any impression to the contrary. 

Yes, I’m assuming the ancient Hebrew perspective is the result of good scholarship and makes sense to me (note that I was personally never uncomfortable with the more literal reading, which is exclusive to the covenant people directly involved). I am also limiting my comments on racism based on skin color to what has transpired in the “New World” and especially America.

It seems Joseph (or Lucy) did not include skin color in these particular descriptions.

I think the Book of Mormon means what it says in that the prophets who wrote it knew what they meant, from both their social and devotional perspectives. For us, understanding what they meant from a sociological perspective is a scholarly pursuit, and from a devotional perspective, a revelatory pursuit. We then choose which is more important to base our lives around.

I’m sorry if you had such an experience with self-proclaimed intelligentsia. I think the Church essays take a well-balanced approach, having considered the best scholarship available. The same with Come Follow Me, which sometimes introduces some fruits of scholarship (e.g. “The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully understood…”) along with the revelations.

I am perfectly fine with your posts!

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I believe it was an scene in one of the God's Army movies during which the kind of question raised by the OP came up. One of the missionaries was African-American, so he answered the question. Of course, his just being a missionary was something of an answer. I find myself sympathizing, and even having a small measure of empathy, for LDS accused of racism based on snippets from the BoM. Broadly, Christians have been accused of being pro-slavery due to passages in the NT in which we are told "Slaves obey your masters." Then too, those of us in law enforcement find ourselves under some particularly dark clouds these days--especially us in the Pacific Northwest.

The answers are largely the same. The Bible does not promote slavery, but rather guides how we live in such societies. Further, history has shown the subversive liberty messaging that permeates the scriptures. It's why totalitarian governments (include the antebellum South) forbade scripture reading (the South actually prohibited literacy among slaves). Likewise, while LDS may extol some values that have been labeled "white, middle class" (yeah, industry is labeled that), the international flavor of its membership, and the celebration of successful members of all tribes and nations, tells me that the Church is not racist. Its scriptures do not promote racial thinking. And, fwiw, objective analysis will exonerate American policing once politics gets removed from the analysis.

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9 hours ago, CV75 said:

[1]It seems Joseph (or Lucy) did not include skin color in these particular descriptions.

[2]I think the Church essays take a well-balanced approach, having considered the best scholarship available. The same with Come Follow Me, which sometimes introduces some fruits of scholarship (e.g. “The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully understood…”) along with the revelations.

 

1.  If you’ll pardon me for saying so, this is the sort of historical assertion that at first brush makes a lot of sense—but which, when we look deeper, we see simultaneously assumes too much and extrapolates too little based on the available evidence.  And I say this, not because I want to call you out specifically or because I think you’ve deliberately done anything improper; but because I think it’s emblematic of the flawed reasoning that many of the academics (who are much more pedantically-minded than most of us, and should know better) use.  So if you’ll permit me, let’s deconstruct this a little.

First:  We can’t say either way what Joseph did or didn’t put into his descriptions.  Of course, we can confidently say that if he did, Lucy didn’t mention it in her memoir; but that’s as far as we can go.  To assert (or even merely suggest) that Joseph just plain never said it, is rooted more in wishful thinking than in the historical record.  We may hope he never said anything like that, but we simply don’t know one way or the other.

Second, though:  we *do* know that Joseph took seriously the idea of literally “whitening” the Lamanites.  He explained that to his contemporaries as a reason for preaching the gospel to the Native Americans.  It may even have been a primary impetus for his revelation on plural marriage.  If Joseph had seen the Nephites and Lamanites in vision, and saw that there was no visual distinction between them, then it would have made no sense for him to speak in those terms.  

Failing to grapple with issues like these—not really engaging with their opponents’ points while overstating the strength of their own evidentiary conclusions—is unfortunately a hallmark of the skin-change-deniers’ arguments.

2.  I agree in principle, but neither the Gospel Topics essays nor CFM undercut the idea of a literal skin tone change.  The quote you offer from CFM, in context, reads:  

The Book of Mormon also states that a mark of dark skin came upon the Lamanites after the Nephites separated from them. The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully understood. The mark initially distinguished the Lamanites from the Nephites.

It may be worth noting here that the original CFM wording was more stridently traditionalist; it was softened due to bullying from the usual wokescolds.  Even so:  if CFM said “The Book of Mormon states that Jesus atoned for the sins of the world.  The nature and function of this atonement are not fully understood”—no one would conclude that maybe Jesus didn’t actually atone for the sins of the world.  As to the mark:  its nature and appearance quite simply isn’t fully understood, even by those who accept it as a literal change in skin tone.  We don’t know when it came, or how.  We don’t know if it was accompanied by other physiological changes—hair traits, facial structure, etc.  We don’t know whether, when the mark was lifted, that tended to be in full or in part; or the mechanics of how that worked.

We *do* know, though, that of all the cursed apostates in the Book of Mormon—individuals like Sherem, Nehor, Korihor, Amalickiah and Kishkumen; as well as groups like the Amulonites, Amalekites, the Amlicites, the Zoramites, the followers of Morianton, the people of Ammonihah, the kingmen, Gadianton Robbers, the inhabitants of Jacobugath, and the evildoers in our own day who the BoM authors saw in vision—none do them are referred to as having “skins of blackness” except the Lamanites; which is a very curious thing if “skin of blackness” was simply a metaphor for the change in countenance that occurs whenever a formerly-righteous person falls into sin.  

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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17 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

1.  If you’ll pardon me for saying so, this is the sort of historical assertion that at first brush makes a lot of sense—but which, when we look deeper, we see simultaneously assumes too much and extrapolates too little based on the available evidence.  And I say this, not because I want to call you out specifically or because I think you’ve deliberately done anything improper; but because I think it’s emblematic of the flawed reasoning that many of the academics (who are much more pedantically-minded than most of us, and should know better) use.  So if you’ll permit me, let’s deconstruct this a little.

First:  We can’t say either way what Joseph did or didn’t put into his descriptions.  Of course, we can confidently say that if he did, Lucy didn’t mention it in her memoir; but that’s as far as we can go.  To assert (or even merely suggest) that Joseph just plain never said it, is rooted more in wishful thinking than in the historical record.  We may hope he never said anything like that, but we simply don’t know one way or the other.

Second, though:  we *do* know that Joseph took seriously the idea of literally “whitening” the Lamanites.  He explained that to his contemporaries as a reason for preaching the gospel to the Native Americans.  It may even have been a primary impetus for his revelation on plural marriage.  If Joseph had seen the Nephites and Lamanites in vision, and saw that there was no visual distinction between them, then it would have made no sense for him to speak in those terms.  

Failing to grapple with issues like these—not really engaging with their opponents’ points while overstating the strength of their own evidentiary conclusions—is unfortunately a hallmark of the skin-change-deniers’ arguments.

2.  I agree in principle, but neither the Gospel Topics essays nor CFM undercut the idea of a literal skin tone change.  The quote you offer from CFM, in context, reads:  

The Book of Mormon also states that a mark of dark skin came upon the Lamanites after the Nephites separated from them. The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully understood. The mark initially distinguished the Lamanites from the Nephites.

It may be worth noting here that the original CFM wording was more stridently traditionalist; it was softened due to bullying from the usual wokescolds.  Even so:  if CFM said “The Book of Mormon states that Jesus atoned for the sins of the world.  The nature and function of this atonement are not fully understood”—no one would conclude that maybe Jesus didn’t actually atone for the sins of the world.  As to the mark:  its nature and appearance quite simply isn’t fully understood, even by those who accept it as a literal change in skin tone.  We don’t know when it came, or how.  We don’t know if it was accompanied by other physiological changes—hair traits, facial structure, etc.  We don’t know whether, when the mark was lifted, that tended to be in full or in part; or the mechanics of how that worked.

We *do* know, though, that of all the cursed apostates in the Book of Mormon—individuals like Sherem, Nehor, Korihor, Amalickiah and Kishkumen; as well as groups like the Amulonites, Amalekites, the Amlicites, the Zoramites, the followers of Morianton, the people of Ammonihah, the kingmen, Gadianton Robbers, the inhabitants of Jacobugath, and the evildoers in our own day who the BoM authors saw in vision—none do them are referred to as having “skins of blackness” except the Lamanites; which is a very curious thing if “skin of blackness” was simply a metaphor for the change in countenance that occurs whenever a formerly-righteous person falls into sin.  

RE: 1: Primary sources are essential when attributing teachings to Joseph Smith. That is why we cannot draw either set of conclusions that are represented in your deconstruction; they are not conclusions afforded by the research done with primary sources.

For example, there is more to the latest research on Hebrew primary sources than suggesting “a metaphor for the change in countenance.”

RE: 2: Similarly, we choose to accept the earlier or more current (and I believe better-supported explanations) provided in Church-produced materials. We can no more attribute the reasons for these updates than we can the prompting or the motives for them, but in any case, improved teaching and teachings are of far greater note than the prompting and motives for the improvement.

For example, the Book of Mormon is typically read through the lens of our own culture and biases. The Spirit then bears witness, to those who seek it in good faith, that which leads to the fulfilment of the purposes set forth the Title Page and the exhortations of the prophets found throughout its pages. I think the Church is inspired at adjusting both what is taught and how as our cultures and biases shift with time, which of course more effectively leads people to Christ.

Adding a thought: I think it is better for the advancement of truth for scholars to be passionate about research rather than passionate about an ideology which they may use to justify their research. Elder Holland touches upon that here, with a discussion about "Disciple-Scholars". I wish i could link to the entire speech, "The Maxwell Legacy in the 21st Century" but I cannot locate it. These snippets will offer an idea of the charge and the challenge:

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/church/news/be-faithful-disciple-scholars-even-in-difficulty-elder-holland-says-at-maxwell-institute?lang=eng

https://latterdaysaintmag.com/elder-holland-gives-apostolic-charge-to-be-disciple-scholars/

 

Edited by CV75

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18 hours ago, Just_A_Guy said:

As to the mark:  its nature and appearance quite simply isn’t fully understood, even by those who accept it as a literal change in skin tone.  We don’t know when it came, or how.  We don’t know if it was accompanied by other physiological changes—hair traits, facial structure, etc.  We don’t know whether, when the mark was lifted, that tended to be in full or in part; or the mechanics of how that worked.

Mormon's account of the Amlicites suggests to me that even Mormon might not have fully understood the nature of the mark.

To a person 400 years removed from the free mingling of a "remnant" society (when it didn't matter if you were Lamanite or Nephite by lineage - if you're alive you're part of the new society), the difference between the two Sneetch tribes is forehead paint. ? ? ? In contrast, the more contemporary accounts that we have from Nephi and Jacob use the stronger language and make it sound like the only way a Nephite would receive the Lamanite curse and accompanying mark is to have children with them, and more specifically the curse is on those children (see 2 Nephi 5).

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On 6/23/2020 at 10:14 PM, Queolby said:

Why does the book of Mormon seem like white skin color is supreme? It even claims Mary was white and the nephites were white when he know that can't be. If Mary was white then Jesus might be too. And Christ's countenance was white. And God seems to enable the nephites to be racists by giving the lamanites a "skin of blackness" so they wouldn't be "enticing" to the white Nephites. Below are verses from the Book of Mormon. The cancel culture might get to this some day.

As I have read the Book of Mormon, I am convinced the Book of Mormon correctly identifies (is plainly taught) the purpose of the words used. True, cancel culture will (better said, already has) attacked the Book of Mormon with regards to its use of color. Anti-The Church of Jesus Christ, have been using this already to bludgeon the Church. When I seek to understand the plainness of speech (according to their personal weakness (i.e. Moroni is pretty clear)) I try to understand from three points: The Father's / Christ's point of view, the authors, and the Spirit of revelation.

First, I don't think we should deny or try to interpret scripture according to our modern world view.

Second, if we seek the view from the vantage point of our Father in Heaven (as he is no respecter of persons) the plainness is more clear.

Third, God has clearly given us a Revelator who is able to plainly teach what is correct/true.

The Book of Mormon is plain in that color is used figuratively and also literally. The fruit likened to our Savior is "white" and "most sweet." It shouldn't cause any alarm or issue unless someone wants to stir the pot as the Pharisees did with Christ. Christ was plain in speech, and yet the Pharisees would "seek" out opportunities to call out error where there is no error. We see that with the Book of Mormon today and post topics like this.

From our Father in heaven's perspective, what is the easiest way to distinguish two brothers? At this time DNA wasn't known (at least from the records we currently have). What human sense then is the easiest and most plain way to separate two brothers where you can identify a son from one brother and a son from another? To change the hue of their skin. This isn't racist as they are the same race (also why I don't believe in many race, but one race -- human).

From the Lord the Book of Mormon clearly teachers that that if the Nephites did not repent that the Lamanites skin would be whiter than yours as the time of judgement. I don't think anyone needs to apologize for an easily understood metaphor. This metaphor could even be used today as we know we have brothers who skin are darker, and who could easily be more "white" (obviously meaning clean and pure) than yours (whose skin is already lighter). This is also evidently a teaching that if you think you are better than someone due to the color of ones skin you are in the wrong, as God definitely looks to character.

White is already a color that has been used to represent something that is clean and pure. Black represents something that is not clean and pure. We live in a day where all things are becoming a "compound in one," (no male or female, no right or wrong, no truth or error, etc...) and that is surely a scary thought.

It even claims Mary was white and the nephites were white when he know that can't be.

We don't know this can't be, that is an interpretation. My wife would tell me stories of about how tan she could get. I didn't believe her because since I have known her she can tan but never really dark. It wasn't until we were meeting with some of her friends and the first thing out of her friends mouth was, "Wow, I have never seen you so white." I had to chuckle a little because in comparison to me my wife isn't "white" and yet she was told she was white. The next thing was that she usually was as dark as a Native American. I then realized, well, I guess she has been telling me the truth. White is commonly used to describe a variety of color hues. So, yes, Mary easily could have been "white" and "exceedingly fair" while having darker skin (as my wife).

It's amazing how I just used "white," "dark," "Native American," and "variety of color hues" to describe someone who is Caucasian. The opposite is also true. How easily it is then to use "white," "dark," and a "variety of color hues" to describe someone who is African American depending on how literal, figurative, or symbolic I want to be.

I can tell you this, our new bishop is "fair" for someone of black ancestry. Imagine that.

 

Edited by Anddenex

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The question of what the darkness of skins and the different labels of a groups skin color was not even questioned in the way it is brought up by some in this thread until a few years ago.

It was accepted that, quite literally, the skins of the Lamanites had been darkened in relation to the Nephites.  This was not a question of whether it was symbolic...it was accepted as literal.

With changes and attitudes in our MODERN WESTERN WORLD many have started to question this.  They feel that something relating an idea like this is showing racism.  In their zeal to say that we are not racist in anything, they rush to try to say how these ideas could not possibly be what the Book of Mormon means, but that rather than literal, it must be symbolic.

Statements of fact (and that is where this really boils down to, is the Book of Mormon true in that it is a literal history and writings of a literal people...or is it more a symbolic book written symbolically?  If it is literal than what is written is more facts...where as if it is symbolic, it may all be symbolic and anything in there may mean something different than what a straight forward reading of it seems to state) are not racist in and of themselves. 

This is a similar problem to what the Bible has faced.  When something is seen as being symbolic, people are discouraged from reading the material as it is thought they will not understand it, and misinterpret the symbolic meaning by taking it literally instead.  We see this in regards to the ancient Catholic Church (though they did not take the Bible as symbolic, they took free advantage of it to interpret it as they wonted, and discouraged the ability of others to read it so that theirs was the only interpretation.  When people DID have access to the Bible unfettered, the Catholic Church turned out to be correct.  People read it literally and turned away from the Catholic Church's interpretations...turning to their own readings of what they felt the bible read...instead of another's analogies).

However, taking it literally never meant we did not take it as not also being symbolic.  It can be both (for example, the story of David is literal as well as symbolic).

I lean more towards the idea that the Book of Mormon is literal.  I have evidence that Spencer W. Kimball and others before him were prophets and actually spoke the truth about the whitening of skins.

I have mentioned before that one of my daughters married a minority.  They have had children.  At least two of the children have far whiter skins than I do.  I see this as the fulfillment of promises in regards to the righteousness of people. 

I know some would consider me racist (and I probably am to a degree...I try to be fair and equitable and try not to be, but I am sure many of my ways and thoughts are racist to a degree) for this statement, but it is a fact in regards to my grandchildren.  Their father is darker skinned than I or the others in my family, but his children are whiter than most of us.  Some can call it genetics (And scientifically, there ARE scientific facts for why genetically his children could assume such skin tone, as my daughter is also quite pale), but I see it also as the fulfillment of the statements made by prophets in our latter days.

Does that make us racist...does it make the Book of Mormon racist?

I suppose it would depend on what you label racist.

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