Mormonism: In Their Own Words

Mormonism: In Their Own Words
---
"Evil is no faceless stranger
living in a distant neighborhood.
Evil has a wholesome, hometown face,
with merry eyes and an open smile.
Evil walks among us,
wearing a mask which looks like all our faces. "
(The Book of Counted Sorrows)
---

"You will see the constitution of the United States almost destroyed. It will hang like a thread...A terrible revolution will take place in the land of America...[T]he land will be left without a Supreme Government...[Mormonism] will have gathered strength, sending out Elders to gather the honest in heart...to stand by the Constitution of the United States...In these days...God will set up a Kingdom, never to be thrown down...[T]he whole of America will be made the Zion of God." (Joseph Smith, May, 6, 1843, founder of Mormonism, quoted in "One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church" by Richard Abanes, Four Walls Eight Windows Press, NY. 2002, p xvi)
---
"Listeners of KSL Radio's "The Doug Wright Show" were surprised on November 9, 1999 when Wright's guest, Republican Senator Orrin Hatch (a devout Mormon) quoted the infamous "White Horse" prophecy. The prediction by Mormonism's founder, Joseph Smith, contains what has always been the Mormon American Dream--i.e. the transformation of the U.S. government into a Mormon-ruled theocracy divinely ordained 'not only to direct the political affairs of the Mormon community, but eventually those of the United States and ultimately the world." (Ibid. p. xvii)
---
This lofty aspiration, which dates back to Mormonism's earliest years, continues to be a dominent element of the faith espoused by Joseph Smith's followers. Mormon journalist and University of Utah spokesperson, Fred Esplin, candidly explains:"Mormons believe that they have a divine commission to prepare the world for Christ's millennial [i.e. 1000-year] reign in which they will serve as the officers and administrators. The faithful Saint believes he is building the Kingdom of God. This is what motivates thirty-thousand full-time missionaries [60,000 as of 2002] to preach the gospel, and this is what keeps men in their eighties working at a pace that would pitch younger, less motivated men into their graves." (Abanes, Ibid, pp. xvii-xviii)
---
LESSONS FROM HISTORY
---
"Hitler had gone to the meeting with his mind made up on two objectives which he intended henceforth to pursue. One was to concentrate all power in his own hands. The other was to re-establish the Nazi Party as a political organization which would seek power exclusively through constitutional means. He had explained the new tactics to one of his henchmen Karl Ludeke, while still in prison: 'When I resume active work it will be necessaary to pursue a new policy. Instead of working to achieve power by armed coup, we shall have to hold our noses and enter the Reichstag against the Catholic and Marxist deputies. If outvoting them takes longer than outshooting them, at least the result will be guaranteed by their own constitution. Any lawful process is slow...Sooner or later we shall have the majority--and after that Germany.' On his release from Landsberg, he had assured the Bavarian Premier that the Nazi Party would henceforth act within the framework of the constitution.But he allowed himself to be carried away with the enthusiasm of the crowd in his appearance at the Buergerbraukeller on February 27. His threats against the State were scarcely veiled. The republican regime, as well as the Marxists and the Jews, was 'the enemy'. And in his peroration he had shouted: 'To this struggle of ours there are only two possible issues: either the enemy passes over our bodies or we pass over theirs!' " ("The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William Shirer, 30th Anniversary Edition, Fawcett-Cress Publishers, N.Y. 1992, pp 169-170)
---

The New York Times, October 1, 1981, Thursday, Late City Final Edition
MORMONS ALTERING INDIAN PROPHECY SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 30 -
------
The Mormon Church has altered the wording of a prophecy about Indians so that it no longer says native Americans will develop ''white'' skin if they join the religion. In a new edition of the Book of Mormon, a prophecy that had said Indians would become ''white and delightsome'' has been altered to read that they will become ''pure and delightsome.''
---
Church members accept the Book of Mormon as holy scripture equivalent to the Bible. . .
Church leaders, including Mr. Kimball, have said the curse of dark skin would be lifted from Indians who embraced the Mormon religion.
---
In 1960, before he was elevated to the presidency, Mr. Kimball said in a speech that Indian children living with Mormons had lighter skin than those who remained on reservations [and that even their DNA changed].
---
The church has a program of temporarily placing Indian children with Mormon families so the youngsters can attend non-Indian public schools.

===
Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1989, Saturday, Home Edition
MORMONS EXCOMMUNICATE INDIAN LEADER
From Associated Press SALT LAKE CITY -
-----
George P. Lee, the first American Indian appointed to the Mormon Church hierarchy, was excommunicated Friday after telling the leadership that it is spiritually slaughtering his people.
---
The first excommunication of a major Mormon leader in 46 years was announced in a terse, one-paragraph statement from church headquarters here.
---
Lee, who was an elder of the church, was expelled for "apostasy and other conduct unbecoming a member of the church," the statement said. Lee, a Navajo and former president of the College of Ganado on the Navajo Reservation, was at the meeting when the decision was made, it said.
---
Church spokesman Don LeFevre said he could not elaborate on the statement on the instructions of church leaders. But Lee said the action stemmed from basic doctrinal disagreements with church leaders about the role of Indians in the religion and from his contention that the leadership is racist, materialistic and bent on changing the meaning of Mormon scripture.
---
"It got to the point where I had to follow them or Jesus Christ, and I chose to follow Jesus Christ," Lee said in an interview Friday afternoon. "I told them they are the ones that are apostatizing -- teaching false doctrine."
---
Lee, 46, was made a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1975. The First Quorum of the Seventy is responsible for administering the affairs of the 6.7 million-member church under the direction of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and governing First Presidency.
---
Members of the three all-male bodies are known as general authorities. In an hourlong meeting with church President Ezra Taft Benson, Benson's two counselors and the Twelve, Lee read a 23-page, handwritten letter in which he accused his fellow churchmen of distorting doctrine to satisfy their own racial bias, relegating Indians to second-class status and denying them their rightful place in the faith's theology.
---
"You are slowly causing a silent subtle scriptural and spiritual slaughter of the Indians," the letter said. "While physical extermination may have been one of (the) federal government's policies long ago . . . your current scriptural and spiritual extermination . . . is the greater sin and great shall be your condemnation for this."
---
Lee's excommunication was particularly sensitive to a church that believes Indians in the Americas are descendants of ancient peoples described in the Book of Mormon, the faith's most cherished scripture. The Lamanites, as the Indian ancestors are known in the book, were themselves described as descendants of a prophet named Lehi who brought his family from Jerusalem to the New World about 600 BC.
---
Lee said prophesies in the Book of Mormon are clear in defining Indians and Jews as literal descendants of the House of Israel and all others as "Gentiles," or "adopted Israel."
---
From the bbs system at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China:
-----
Hi! How are you? I hope you are doing well in school and feeling happy. I am back in New York now and miss all my students at Tsinghua very much.
---
But there is another reason that I am writing to you. There is something I must tell you. Something very wrong and dangerous is going on in the foreign languages department at Tsinghua University.
---
What is going on at Tsinghua University? Almost all the other foreign teachers at Tsinghua University are members of a cult. What is a cult? A cult is a type of religion that is illegal in China and most of the world. A cult is a very dangerous thing.
---
Why are cults so dangerous? A cult tricks you into joining it and then it slowly takes you away from your family, your friends, your career, your country, and your life. Almost all the other American teachers in the foreign languages department at Tsinghua are members of a cult called “Mormonism.? They are not at Tsinghua to teach you. They have come to Tsinghua as secret missionaries and want to try and make you become Mormons too.
---
Why does Tsinghua allow them to be here? Tsinghua University doesn’t know that they are Mormons. They have found a corrupt person in the foreign languages department and have paid her a lot of money, and given her many gifts, so that she will lie to the department and tell them to hire Mormons to teach English at Tsinghua.
---
Why do the Mormons want to teach at Tsinghua? Mormons believe that they must brainwash every person in every nation into becoming one of them. Maybe this sounds impossible, but they are very rich and powerful and are now the fastest growing religion in the world. Their members take orders from one man, one voice who can command them what to do and what to think. Now they have their eyes upon China, and that is why they have come to Tsinghua.
---
As you know, Tsinghua is the most famous university in China. President Hu Jintao, as well as many famous political leaders all wentto Tsinghua. The Mormons know that the future leaders of China willlikely come from Tsinghua. They believe that if they can make the students at Tsinghua into Mormons, then their church will control over China.
---
If they are so dangerous, why let them teach here? As I said, they have found a corrupt administrator in the department offoreign languages, and they have paid her so much money that she iswilling to betray her people and her nation.
---
The Tsinghua English Summer Camp is completely run by the Mormons and taught by the Mormons.
---
Starting next semester ALL of the English teachers at Tsinghua University will be Mormons.
What do they want to do to the students? They want to make you a Mormon. If you are a Mormon then you must obey the Mormon Church without question. You must give your money to the Mormon Church. If your families are not Mormons then you will beforced to leave your family and not see them again. If your friends are not Mormons then you will be forced to leave them and not see them again.
---
How do I protect myself? These are the words that they use: Mormon, Mormonism, L.D.S. (acronym for Later Day Saints), BYU (acronym for Brigham Young University, a Mormon recruitment center, not a real school).
---
If any of the foreign teachers at Tsinghua say they are Mormon, LDS,Later Day Saints, or if they say they went to BYU or Brigham Young University then BEWARE.
---
What is BYU or Brigham Young University? BYU or Brigham Young University is a school in the United States. But its real goal is as a recruitment and training center for Mormons.Many Tsinghua students have been tricked into attending BYU. They are told they can go to America and attend a famous school, and then they are trapped at BYU and brainwashed. Please be very careful.
---
What can we do? The only thing you can do is to warn the other students so they know to protect themselves. A student who becomes a Mormon will soon be taken away from China and from their family and their lives.
---
I love you all and it pains me that Americans are doing such terrible things in China. Not all Americans are like this. It is only a few, the ones we call Mormons. Please be careful of them and do not agree to become one of them.

---
Richard
---
Missing Mormon Children
----
Due to extensive media connections and ownership by Mormons, often when young Mormon women are kidnapped, particularly blond and blue-eyed young women, they not only get media attention that many non-white missing chilren and adults never get, but, also, the focus on the missing and their families is often used to showcase--and try to mainstream--Mormonism.
---
I for one was truly saddened at the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart and joyous at her return. Although from a very wealthy hard-core Mormon family, from a Cult that has kidnapped thousands upon thousands of Indian children since the mid-1800s, including in my own family, I nonetheless took no joy in this tragedy. Indeed this tragedy was used by some, to showcase Mormonism (a community of mutual support and faith, "nice-"clean-living," -"wholesome" -"family-values"-driven folks) much as the Olympics were used and clearly intended to be used, I thought she would be found brutalized and dead and was genuinely happy at her return alive--apparently brutalized however.
---
Now it turns out that she was allegedly kidnapped by a former fellow Mormon, excommunicated about four years ago for being an "extremist" who favored living, as did the venerated Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, in polygamy. The alleged kidnapper supposedly claimed and wrote--and preached on this street in front of the Mormon churches--that he had been given a "revelation from God" to "take" [which he interpreted literally] seven wives, the first of which (his partner didn't count apparently) was Elizabeth Smart. He was apparently lining up his next victim/"wife"--and elder cousin of Elizabeth--and had made a previous attempt at "taking" his next "wife" when he was caught.
---
Now I can just imagine this alleged kidnappers "defense" in Court. Imagine something like the following: "They--the 'mainstream' Mormons that excommunicated him--are the real blasphemers and hypocrites. All around us are statues of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young who lived in polygamy, as sanctioned in the Book of Mormon, more explicitly than now, before the multiple "revisions" (over 4,000--read addendum memos from God) of the supposed "Divine Revelation" to Joseph Smith in 1820 that the Book of Mormon is supposed to represent. "
---
Perhaps a famous quote from Brigham Young: "The only men who become Gods, even the sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy."(Brigham Young, August 19, 1866, in JOD, vol 11, p 269). And as to how Elizabeth might have been forcibly "taken" as a wife, it was exactly the method used by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and others in "taking" some of "their wives."
---
According to the authoritative "The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith", he had 49 "plural wives" among whom 11 were married to other men when Smith took them, 8 of whom represented 4 pairs of sisters and 2 of whom represented a mother and daughter.
---
Many thousands of Indian children regarded as "Lamanites", who, according to the Book of Mormon and subsequent Mormon doctrine (over 60% of the Book of Mormon, this "Divine Revelation", was rewritten, to attempt to gloss over inherent contradictions in it, after Joseph Smith's death, according to "One Nation Under Gods: A History of the Mormon Church" by Richard Abanes) Lamanites [Indians] are the descendants of one of the "Lost Tribes of Israel" [named after Laman, Nephi's brother] who were "rebellious" against the Nephites [read white colonizing settlers seen to be the faithful to the commandments of God named after their mightiest "prophet" Nephi] and, in order to prohibit racial intermarriage [still prohibited by Mormons] as well as "curse" them [Lamanites] "God" gave them and all their descendants "a skin of blackness so that they might not be enticing to the white and exceedingly fair and delightsome Nephites." (Book of Mormon, 1830 ed, 73 2 Nephi 5: 21, modern edition).
---
According to the Book of Mormon (BOM) the appearance of the Lamanites with their black skin was so repulsive that they became "loathsome" to look upon (BOM 1 Nephi, 12:23, modern edition), and they became "an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety" (BOM, 2 Nephi, 5: 24, modern edition). Supposedly "God" warned the Nephites: "Cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed: for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing."(BOM, 2 Nephi, 5: 23, modern edition).
---
So why would Mormons be grabbing these thousands of "cursed", "loathsome", "evil", little "Lamanites"? Well God is also merciful and if these little Lamanites are converted and repentant, wanting to "join" and "be of service to" the Nephites, then "their curse was [to be] taken from them and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair." (BOM, 3 Nephi 2:14-16, modern edition). And the "good news" is, this is not just some far away promise of Salvation and turning "white and delightsome"--changed to "pure and delightsome" in the 1981 edition of the BOM--for the little "Lamanites who convert and serve, no, according to former "Prophet/Seer/Revelator Spencer Kimball, little Lamanite children in Mormon custody see their "DNA change" and are progressively changing to "whiteness and delightsomeness" and joking that one elder and his companion "were donating blood regularly to the hospital in the hope that the process might be accelerated." (Spencer W. Kimball, "The Day of the Lamanites", The Improvement, Era, Dec. 1960, p. 923).
---
Indian children were grabbed by various means and used for various purposes. Mormons, unlike the United Church, Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, Presbyterians and others did not maintain "Residential Schools" for Indians only; rather the children were integrated into Mormon communities--always at the margins. Sometimes the children were adopted out to families in which the wife was "barren"--in those days seen not to be a "real woman"--and matched by phenotypes and skin shades so that the children could "pass" as the biological children of the adopters. Sometimes the children were used and farmed out as cheap labor for surrounding farms. Sometimes the lighter-skinned ones could be brought into the Mormon Church as tokens to draw others into the Church. In many cases Indian children were physically and sexually brutalized in Mormon "care.
---
" The Mormons often noted that there was a promise of something better for those little Lamanites who repented and served:"The day of the Lamanites is nigh. For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised. In this picture of the twenty Lamanite missionaries, fifteen of the twenty were as white as Anglos; five were darker but equally delightsome. The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation." (Spencer W. Kimball, Ibid. p. 923)
--
Like African-Americans, "Lamanites" were never seen as "full members" of the Church. Unlike African-Americans, Indians have not got "new revelations" of a change in status like that "given to African-Americans when, in June 1978, after speaking with "The Heavenly Father" on the planet "Kolob", Spencer W. Kimball said that a change had come and now Blacks could become full participants of the Mormon Church if they are "worthy". Of course, it would be cynical to suppose that threatened loss of tax-exempt status by the U.S. Government for practicing racist exclusionism had nothing to do with Kimball hooking up with "The Lord" and getting but another addendum memo to the BOM eh?
---
Well I am truly glad that Elizabeth Smart made it home to her loved ones and I hope that her recovery is swift and extensive. Of course I cannot buy the proposition that the has been taken "back" from those intent on "brainwashing" her; rather, she was taken from one Cult of brainwashing (the whole LDS) to a smaller and more extreme variety of that from which she has now come "back" to more brainwashing from which she came.
---
Elizabeth has made it back home. My Mom and thousands like her never made it back and paid a horrible price. Maybe out of this tragedy this may cause an examination of the ugly history and doctrines of the Mormon Church; it is not just a matter of "better police work" and vigilence that will prevent such types of kidnappings in the future. It feels exactly the same for the "Lamanite" families losing their children to who knows what as it felt for the Smart family. I remember one of the Smart family agonizing "Why, Why, why did this happen to us?" Perhaps the "wheel of Karma"?
----
Former Mormon Testimonials and Revelations
---

Hello,
--
I am new to the list. I joined in hopes that maybe I could help right some of the wrongs that I have done.
--
I officially left the Mormon Church aka LDS Church (officially known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) six years ago after having been most faithful in that organization my entire 47 year life span. I am just glad that I finally woke up before it was too late. I fulfilled a two year mission to Guatemala and El Salvador in the early 1970's where I taught the local indigenous people that they were descended from the jews of Jerusalem around 600 B.C. when a prophet there was commanded by God to sail to the Americas and populate that hemisphere. I also taught them that after those people arrived a few of them turned against Jehovah and that God cursed them with a dark skin, but that if their descendants repented in the last days, their skin would become white and delightsome.
---
This story is the foundation for the Book of Mormon, which mormons call scripture. I later became a professional social worker and spent about 3 years of my time on and off helping run a Native American Placement program within the LDS Church that took children from 8 to 18 years of age from off of the reservations in the South West of the United States and placed them in LDS homes in Utah for education and church training.
---
I deeply regret being so naive, misinformed and stupid for having bought into this heinous behavior, but at the time I felt I was doing God's work. I remember feeling sickened and nauseated while watching the movie, "The Emerald Forest" which depicts catholic fathers decimating an indigenous tribe with all their bull shit.
---
The mormons still preach this racists doctrine and place thousands of copies of the Book of Mormon each year. Unfortunately, the mormon are growing very rapidly in Mexico, Central and South America among the native people there. If you do not know this, I am posting here to warn you that this insidious practice continues and is gaining momentum.
---
I currently can not stomach being associated with or involved with any organized religions.
---
Steven aka Cricket
--
From the Los Angeles Times
COLUMN ONE
Bedrock of a Faith Is Jolted DNA tests contradict Mormon scripture.
The church says the studies are being twisted to attack its beliefs.
By William Lobdell, Times Staff Writer February 16, 2006
-
From the time he was a child in Peru, the Mormon Church instilled in Jose A. Loayza the conviction that he and millions of other Native Americans were descended from a lost tribe of Israel that reached the New World more than 2,000 years ago.
-
"We were taught all the blessings of that Hebrew lineage belonged to us and that we were special people," said Loayza, now a Salt Lake City attorney. "It not only made me feel special, but it gave me a sense of transcendental identity, an identity with God."
-
A few years ago, Loayza said, his faith was shaken and his identity stripped away by DNA evidence showing that the ancestors of American natives came from Asia, not the Middle East."I've gone through stages," he said. "Absolutely denial. Utter amazement and surprise. Anger and bitterness."
-
For Mormons, the lack of discernible Hebrew blood in Native Americans is no minor collision between faith and science. It burrows into the historical foundations of the Book of Mormon, a 175-year-old transcription that the church regards as literal and without error.
-
For those outside the faith, the depth of the church's dilemma can be explained this way: Imagine if DNA evidence revealed that the Pilgrims didn't sail from Europe to escape religious persecution but rather were part of a migration from Iceland — and that U.S. history books were wrong.
-
Critics want the church to admit its mistake and apologize to millions of Native Americans it converted. Church leaders have shown no inclination to do so. Indeed, they have dismissed as heresy any suggestion that Native American genetics undermine the Mormon creed.Yet at the same time, the church has subtly promoted a fresh interpretation of the Book of Mormon intended to reconcile the DNA findings with the scriptures.
-
This analysis is radically at odds with long-standing Mormon teachings.Some longtime observers believe that ultimately, the vast majority of Mormons will disregard the genetic research as an unworthy distraction from their faith."This may look like the crushing blow to Mormonism from the outside," said Jan Shipps, a professor emeritus of religious studies at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, who has studied the church for 40 years. "But religion ultimately does not rest on scientific evidence, but on mystical experiences.
-
There are different ways of looking at truth."According to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an angel named Moroni led Joseph Smith in 1827 to a divine set of golden plates buried in a hillside near his New York home.God provided the 22-year-old Smith with a pair of glasses and seer stones that allowed him to translate the "Reformed Egyptian" writings on the golden plates into the "Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ."
-
Mormons believe these scriptures restored the church to God's original vision and left the rest of Christianity in a state of apostasy.The book's narrative focuses on a tribe of Jews who sailed from Jerusalem to the New World in 600 BC and split into two main warring factions. The God-fearing Nephites were "pure" (the word was officially changed from "white" in 1981) and "delightsome." The idol-worshiping Lamanites received the "curse of blackness," turning their skin dark.
-
According to the Book of Mormon, by 385 AD the dark-skinned Lamanites had wiped out other Hebrews. The Mormon church called the victors "the principal ancestors of the American Indians." If the Lamanites returned to the church, their skin could once again become white.
-
Over the years, church prophets — believed by Mormons to receive revelations from God — and missionaries have used the supposed ancestral link between the ancient Hebrews and Native Americans and later Polynesians as a prime conversion tool in Central and South America and the South Pacific.
-
"As I look into your faces, I think of Father Lehi [patriarch of the Lamanites], whose sons and daughters you are," church president and prophet Gordon B. Hinckley said in 1997 during a Mormon conference in Lima, Peru. "I think he must be shedding tears today, tears of love and gratitude…. This is but the beginning of the work in Peru.
-
"In recent decades, Mormonism has flourished in those regions, which now have nearly 4 million members — about a third of Mormon membership worldwide, according to church figures.
-
"That was the big sell," said Damon Kali, an attorney who practices law in Sunnyvale, Calif., and is descended from Pacific Islanders. "And quite frankly, that was the big sell for me. I was a Lamanite. I was told the day of the Lamanite will come."
-
A few months into his two-year mission in Peru, Kali stopped trying to convert the locals. Scientific articles about ancient migration patterns had made him doubt that he or anyone else was a Lamanite."
-
Once you do research and start getting other viewpoints, you're toast," said Kali, who said he was excommunicated in 1996 over issues unrelated to the Lamanite issue. "I could not do missionary work anymore."
-
Critics of the Book of Mormon have long cited anachronisms in its narrative to argue that it is not the work of God. For instance, the Mormon scriptures contain references to a seven-day week, domesticated horses, cows and sheep, silk, chariots and steel. None had been introduced in the Americas at the time of Christ.
-
In the 1990s, DNA studies gave Mormon detractors further ammunition and new allies such as Simon G. Southerton, a molecular biologist and former bishop in the church.Southerton, a senior research scientist with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in Australia, said genetic research allowed him to test his religious views against his scientific training.
-
Genetic testing of Jews throughout the world had already shown that they shared common strains of DNA from the Middle East. Southerton examined studies of DNA lineages among Polynesians and indigenous peoples in North, Central and South America. One mapped maternal DNA lines from 7,300 Native Americans from 175 tribes.Southerton found no trace of Middle Eastern DNA in the genetic strands of today's American Indians and Pacific Islanders.
-
In "Losing a Lost Tribe," published in 2004, he concluded that Mormonism — his faith for 30 years — needed to be reevaluated in the face of these facts, even though it would shake the foundations of the faith.The problem is that Mormon leaders cannot acknowledge any factual errors in the Book of Mormon because the prophet Joseph Smith proclaimed it the "most correct of any book on Earth," Southerton said in an interview.
-
"They can't admit that it's not historical," Southerton said. "They would feel that there would be a loss of members and loss in confidence in Joseph Smith as a prophet."Officially, the Mormon Church says that nothing in the Mormon scriptures is incompatible with DNA evidence, and that the genetic studies are being twisted to attack the church.
-
"We would hope that church members would not simply buy into the latest DNA arguments being promulgated by those who oppose the church for some reason or other," said Michael Otterson, a Salt Lake City-based spokesman for the Mormon church. "The truth is, the Book of Mormon will never be proved or disproved by science," he said.
-
Unofficially, church leaders have tacitly approved an alternative interpretation of the Book of Mormon by church apologists — a term used for scholars who defend the faith.The apologists say Southerton and others are relying on a traditional reading of the Book of Mormon — that the Hebrews were the first and sole inhabitants of the New World and eventually populated the North and South American continents.The latest scholarship, they argue, shows that the text should be interpreted differently.
-
They say the events described in the Book of Mormon were confined to a small section of Central America, and that the Hebrew tribe was small enough that its DNA was swallowed up by the existing Native Americans.
-
"It would be a virtual certainly that their DNA would be swamped," said Daniel Peterson, a professor of Near Eastern studies at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, part of the worldwide Mormon educational system, and editor of a magazine devoted to Mormon apologetics. "And if that is the case, you couldn't tell who was a Lamanite descendant."
-
Southerton said the new interpretation was counter to both a plain reading of the text and the words of Mormon leaders."The apologists feel that they are almost above the prophets," Southerton said. "They have completely reinvented the narrative in a way that would be completely alien to members of the church and most of the prophets."The church has not formally endorsed the apologists' views, but the official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — http://www.lds.org/ — cites their work and provides links to it.
-
"They haven't made any explicit public declarations," said Armand L. Mauss, a church member and retired Washington State University professor who recently published a book on Mormon race and lineage. "But operationally, that is the current church's position."The DNA debate is largely limited to church leaders, academics and a relatively small circle of church critics.
-
Most Mormons, taught that obedience is a key value, take the Book of Mormon as God's unerring word."It's not that Mormons are not curious," Mauss said. "They just don't see the need to reconsider what has already been decided."
-
Critics contend that Mormon leaders are quick to stifle dissent. In 2002, church officials began an excommunication proceeding against Thomas W. Murphy, an anthropology professor at Edmonds Community College in Washington state.He was deemed a heretic for saying the Mormon scriptures should be considered inspired fiction in light of the DNA evidence.
-
After the controversy attracted national media coverage, with Murphy's supporters calling him the Galileo of Mormonism, church leaders halted the trial.Loayza, the Salt Lake City attorney, said the church should embrace the controversy."They should openly address it," he said.
-
"Often, the tack they adopt is to just ignore or refrain from any opinion. We should have the courage of our convictions. This [Lamanite issue] is potentially destructive to the faith."
-
Otterson, the church spokesman, said Mormon leaders would remain neutral. "Whether Book of Mormon geography is extensive or limited or how much today's Native Americans reflect the genetic makeup of the Book of Mormon peoples has absolutely no bearing on its central message as a testament of Jesus Christ," he said.
-
Mauss said the DNA studies haven't shaken his faith. "There's not very much in life — not only in religion or any field of inquiry — where you can feel you have all the answers," he said."I'm willing to live in ambiguity. I don't get that bothered by things I can't resolve in a week."
-
For others, living with ambiguity has been more difficult. Phil Ormsby, a Polynesian who lives in Brisbane, Australia, grew up believing he was a Hebrew."I visualized myself among the fighting Lamanites and lived out the fantasies of the [Book of Mormon] as I read it," Ormsby said. "It gave me great mana [prestige] to know that these were my true ancestors."
-
The DNA studies have altered his feelings completely."Some days I am angry, and some days I feel pity," he said. "I feel pity for my people who have become obsessed with something that is nothing but a hoax."
Copyright © 2006, The Los Angeles Times (Reprinted Under FAIR USE DOCTRINE)
-

 

Copyright © 2012 KBOO Community Radio | Community Guidelines | Website Illustration & Design by: KMF ILLUSTRATION