Responding to LDS Spin on Their Racial Scripture
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The following is a recent Facebook response I gave to an LDS guy named Anthony.
OK, so the change from “white” to “pure” wasn’t based on the printer’s manuscript (the basis for the 1st edition of the [Book of Mormon, hereafter "BM"]), and it wasn’t based on the 1st edition, but it was based on the wording of only 1 edition of the BM in 1840 (this is what Anthony takes to be the “more correct manuscript”). After 1840, every other edition returned the term back to “white” and it stayed that way until 1981 when it went back to “pure.” This “more correct manuscript” is taken as such only due to Anthony’s and LDS apologists’ relatively recent interpretation of the curse simply being separation from God, and not skin color. As already pointed about in the quote from [LDS Apostle and later President Spencer W.] Kimball, whiteness in the BM was never taken to be symbolic of mere purity.
Next Anthony lists for us a host of quotes from LDS leaders to the effect that they never advocated hatred of blacks, but for their love and respect, and LDS also desired their freedom from slavery. That’s all well and good. But when the LDS leaders claim there is no such thing as a master race or an inferior one, or that there is no place for racism in the Church, they are simply being disingenuous and inconsistent. They are all familiar with the BM passages I made reference to, even given Anthony’s take of the curse being merely separation, and these passages still point out that the white skinned people were favored by God and the dark skinned people were cursed by God. Further, as Aaron [Shafovaloff] pointed out the 1st Presidency statement of 1949 was given not by “the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord,” and here it is clear that the Lord thinks dark skinned people are of an inferior race due to their transgressions in the pre-mortal life. Thus they were cursed with dark skin and cursed with separation from the priesthood authority.
Now while I grant that the curse in the BM was given to them due to their sin, it is also clear that “because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey” (2 Ne. 5:24). Anthony overlooks this causal property of the curse.
Again, I never argued that separation wasn’t part of the curse. Of course the BM is clear it was. What I’ve argued is that the BM is also clear that the mark itself was also a curse. Now Anthony may not see this, but to most everyone else who fairly looks at these passages, it says that the cursing was also indeed a skin of blackness (2 Ne. 5:21) and “the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a *curse* upon them” (Alma 3:6, emphasis added). So yes, separation and mark are distinguishable, but they both fall under what the LDS God (scripture) calls a curse.
As for the Amlicites, so what if they were in rebellion against God and it never specifically says they got a curse of dark skin? The BM already said clear enough that dark skin was given to the Lamanites as a curse. Further, the Amlicites were fulfilling God’s word when in their rebellion they also received the curse (Alma 3:18). What curse was that? Nibley and Anthony want to assume only half of what the context has just stated. The other half is clearly found in Alma 3:6. They do this on the equivocation of the “mark.” The first marking was given by God to the Lamanites and it was dark skin. The second mark is simply the Amlicites marking their own foreheads. The Old Testament had a clear prohibition against such things (Lev. 19:28). So because of this manifestation of rebellion against God, He also cursed them and one can only assume that was the same curse just talked about in Alma 3:6. It was obviously a racial thing contra Nibley. Whether they got dark skin immediately thereafter or not is irrelevant. They still got what the Lamanites got, and their separation and skin are both called curses.
As for whether the dark skin was clearly removed from Ammon, the stripling warriors, etc., Anthony stated it “is not evident.” So it could have happened, but we only hear about it later in 3 Nephi. Nonetheless, this is irrelevant to the terms already laid out in the aforementioned passages.
With all respect to Anthony, the gymnastics here to avoid the obvious is really quite amazing, and clearly demonstrates the lengths to which the unregenerate mind goes to avoid truth.
R. M. Sivulka
President, Courageous Christians United
January 19, 2010