Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

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Free Ranger
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Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Free Ranger »

Some backstory, after being anti-Mormonism for nearly twenty years, I recently reconstructed a kind of Cultural/Heritage Mormon position while not attending any church. For more details see the Introduction section to my blog:
http://emergentmormon.blogspot.com

So the missionaries came to visit today, I shared with them my story in brief which is that basically when I was told that black people are the cursed seed of Cain with dark skin in the 1990s and early 2000s, I knew in my conscience that was wrong and immoral. But I was told by nearly every Church Leader and LDS member, for years, that I was wrong and that was in fact true doctrine. I then explained that the Church put out an essay in 2013 repudiating the idea that blacks are cursed with a dark skin. I explained to the missionaries that while I believe The Book Mormon is "inspired" (I did not go into detail on that as I think Joseph Smith himself composed the Book of Mormon) and I am still very much Mormon (and not Atheist, not Catholic, not Buddhist, etc.), I see all Mormon churches/sects, including the church led by Emma Smith's son (The Community of Christ), to be basically clubs. I said I have no problem with clubs and those who benefit from being a member of the club, but that I don't consider a church club to be the actual Christian "church," which I consider to be the Ecclesia, i.e. the True Vine mentioned in the Book of Mormon and New Testament. But I made it clear that I approve of anyone joining any church club they wish, but that like shoe sizes: what may be a perfect fit for one person may not be a good fit for another person.

I explained that as a missionary I kept having companions and LDS church leaders tell me that the dark skin mentioned in The Book of Mormon is in fact an actual curse from God, and how this conflicted with my conscience and thus led me to question blindly obeying LDS Church leadership and their policies and doctrines. I explained that if my conscience is interpreted as inspiration from the Holy Spirit then if I go against my conscience to blindly obey any church's leadership, that would be displeasing God. The fact that I was right about my position being against racist interpretations of Mormon scripture, while being told by LDS Church leadership that I was wrong and to just obey and believe that dark skin is a curse, proves to me that I cannot blindly obey LDS Church leadership now, given the past. Thus, I explained to the missionaries my conundrum and why I am "Mormon" but do not attend any Mormon sect or chapel but instead see the church/ecclesia as anytime two or more Christians meet together, etc.

The interesting thing was that one of the missionaries, at one point basically said that he himself is 50/50 on whether or not The Book of Mormon teaches that dark skin is a curse. This was very disturbing to me given that it is 2023 and there are still missionaries who think the Book of Mormon teaches racist ideas, or they think it might and thus have not been clearly taught that that interpretation is wrong and immoral.

This further confirmed to me the problem with blindly following the Brethren, because for decades LDS leaders taught racist ideas in their books and sermons, and it has infected Mormon culture still causing damage today. I can't help but think that if more LDS members listened to their conscience like I did, then LDS Church leaders would not have been able to teach over the pulpit racist ideas for nearly a hundred years; and the "restored gospel" (which I consider more true and better than the Catholic or Protestant version of the gospel) could have been spread more effectively.

After our discussion I said I could send them some information on the issue of "skin curse" in the Book of Mormon and they acted interested and receptive. So I sent the following email to the missionaries. I don't expect a response back but I think I did the right thing by spreading truth over falsities.

What I sent to missionaries:

Please share this with your companion and anyone who might benefit from it.

I enjoyed our conversation and thanks for patiently listening to my story. As a man of my word, here are the links I promised.

I highly recommend starting with this short YouTube video that makes a convincing case that talk of "dark skin" in The Book of Mormon is likely a metaphor for "spiritual darkness," not skin color. See https://youtu.be/PDJ6-O5-ans

Below are several video lectures and articles by LDS members like Marvin Perkins making the same case as the short video linked above:

Skin Color and Curses by Marvin Perkins, presented at Salt Lake Community College in 2007, at https://youtu.be/uOFxilaUh3o

Blacks in the Scriptures (2014 Fair Conference) by Marvin Perkins, at https://youtu.be/jJZ5fdlTXu4

Race and the Priesthood by Marvin Perkins at the Fairmormon Conference in Sweden in 2016, at https://youtu.be/i_UsOPZ_-uI

Also see the excellent video presentation Brown Nephites and White Lamanites: Symbolism of Skin Color in the Book of Mormon by Cwic Media, at
https://youtu.be/7vf2lTjyD5A

Also see, Notable Race-Related Changes to Footnotes and Chapter Headings in the Standard Works by Marc Bohn (2011): https://www.timesandseasons.org/index.p ... e-changes/

The work of Marvin Perkins, showcases the relevant changes to the LDS footnotes in the Scriptures after 1978: demonstrating a clear attempt by the LDS Church (a.k.a. the Brighamite Church) to change false conceptions that the language of "dark skin" curses is about skin color or skin pigmentation; but instead, the language of "dark skin" is likelybabout "spiritual separation" from the luminous presence of God. Thus it is a language of a loss of light and a dimming effect; as in a dark and gloomy day opposed to a day that is illuminated by bright sunshine. So that the language of darkness in The Book of Mormon is plausably synonymous with spiritual blindness.

It's also important to note that the Utah-based LDS Church, while continuing to make mistakes when it comes to the subject, have put out an official essay in 2013 titled Race and the Priesthood, (online at: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/stu ... d?lang=eng) that disavows racism in any form. If the link does not work one can find it by doing a Google search. It's also important to note that an official publication of the church, LDS Living, has highlighted the work of Marvin Perkins. See How we misinterpret “black” and “curse” in the scriptures: Insights from an African American convert by Danielle B. Wagner February 03, 2020, at https://www.ldsliving.com/how-we-misint ... rt/s/88562

As of 2023, the latest explanation from an LDS scholar is the following: Understanding the Lamanite Mark by Clifford P. Jones (Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship 56 (2023): 171-258) https://journal.interpreterfoundation.o ... nite-mark/

A short summary of Clifford Jones' article by Kyler Rasmussen can be read here: https://interpreterfoundation.org/inter ... dark-mark/

No matter what theory one chooses, dark skins as only a metaphor, skins as garments, or skins is about sacrilegious tatoos, etc., what is clear is that the 2013 essay Race and the Priesthood (that was published by the LDS Church on their official website) intends to put a stop to any racist interpretations of LDS Scriptures when the essay states: "Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous actions in a premortal life; …" Given this official Church position, then any interpretation of The Book of Mormon where a "skin of blackness" is interpreted as a divine disfavor or curse (which has been repudiated/disavowed by the LDS Church), would be considered false doctrine as of 2013.

So any missionary who might be uncertain as to whether or not The Book of Mormon might actually teach that "dark skin pigmentation is a curse" or not, needs to carefully read the current LDS scholarship and the Race and the Priesthood essay, so they can better understand that thinking or teaching that dark skin is a curse, is racist and immoral; and is contrary to being a missionary/minister of Christ.

Let me know if my taking the time to type this out for you was helpful.

End of email
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Moksha
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Moksha »

Free Ranger wrote:
Fri Jun 23, 2023 11:53 pm
I highly recommend starting with this short YouTube video that makes a convincing case that talk of "dark skin" in The Book of Mormon is likely a metaphor for "spiritual darkness," not skin color.
It seems you sent apologetic material contradicting the first part of your [Deleted FR 3 -- RI] message. Apologetics are so deceptive.

Anyway, here is another one for apologists to use: The curse of dark skin actually refers to the Sharkskin suits worn by Sicilian mobsters around the time they were under attack by the Nephite FBI. FAIR can use this one all they want.
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bbbbbbb
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by bbbbbbb »

I like the idea of the Nephite mafia in dark sharkskin suits.

This reminds me of the Islamic interpretation of jihad. Both the Q'ran and the Hadith profusely discuss the rules and necessity for warfare, sometimes in very graphic form. Today, however, some Sunni imams have toned it down considerably to mean the inner struggle a faithful Muslim engages in as he resists moral temptations and other sins.

The fact is that both Mormonism as well as Islam have some very nasty things in their closets. It would be best if these issues were brought out, completely and totally rejected, and the "unchanging" truth of these horrid things be rejected as simply the vain thoughts of vain men.
Free Ranger
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Free Ranger »

Hopefully my links to the missionaries can help dispell the racist myths that continue to infect Mormon culture. My intention is for those who for whatever reason will never leave the Mormon Church (Brighamite sect), like maybe they could lose their job or spouse, etc., or they still believe in it deep down, and so if I can make their Mormon experience better by explaining that they don't have to accept the past racist doctrines by pointing out these alternative theories and the new doctrine that disavows the past racism; then I consider that a noble endeavor. As I see it the Mormon Church is not going anywhere, its growth may slow down but I don't see it disappearing; so for my part I have moved past my "I must destroy Mormonism" phase, and am now more interested in the practical "reforming Mormonism phase," which many take after realizing its not all literally true but has some good in it. I do this as an outsider (resigned my membership) yet respectful to my heritage. If I can Influence certain Mormons to look at things differently, to make Mormon culture better, less toxic, then that will make the world a better place.
Last edited by Free Ranger on Sun Jun 25, 2023 8:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Free Ranger
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Free Ranger »

By the way, on my blog http://emergentmormon.blogspot.com, I argue that The Book of Mormon is not a historical book, and I criticize basically "worshiping the Brethren"; while I give voice to many of the other "types of Mormons" in existence which the utah-based Mormon Church considers an apostate activity; and I present interpretations of Mormonism that if I was an active Utah-based Mormon would likely get me excommunicating (if I had not already resigned over a decade ago). So I'm at a loss as to why I've been accused of being a deceptive "Mormon apologist." How have I been deceptive? And my blog is anything but "apologetic," which is a term that clearly means defending the Orthodox Faith. My blog is all about criticizing and/or challenging the "Orthodox Mormon Faith," and providing an alternative "spirituality."
Free Ranger
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Free Ranger »

By the way, the board rules for this forum states:

RULES FOR THE CELESTIAL FORUM ...:
"... No personal attacks allowed whatsoever. ...
No disrespectful communications allowed. Address the ideas, not the person who posts them."

Is it not disrespectful to accuse me of a "disingenuous message. Apologetics are so deceptive"? Isn't accussing me of deceptive apologetic tactics not only false but a personal attack?

Is that not breaking the rule of "Address the ideas, not the person who posts them"?

Anytime anyone posts something that does not fit someone else's narrative, must they be immediately disrepsected and personally attacked rather than their ideas discussed respectfully and rationally?

The banner of this site and the rules of this forum says all are welcome. Is that really true? Because this doesn't feel welcoming so far. Am I welcome on this board to express my thoughts without being disrespected, falsely accused, and personally attacked?
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Dr. Shades »

Free Ranger wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2023 8:20 pm
Am I welcome on this board to express my thoughts without being disrespected, falsely accused, and personally attacked?
Yes, you are. Some people simply have a difficult time switching to "Celestial" mode, sadly.
I highly recommend starting with this short YouTube video that makes a convincing case that talk of "dark skin" in The Book of Mormon is likely a metaphor for "spiritual darkness," not skin color.
So the word "skin" doesn't actually mean "skin?" If it doesn't mean that, why does it say it?
"It’s ironic that the Church that people claim to be true, puts so much effort into hiding truths."
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ceeboo
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by ceeboo »

Hey FR
Free Ranger wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2023 8:20 pm
Am I welcome on this board to express my thoughts without being disrespected, falsely accused, and personally attacked?
No.

Unfortunately, no.
Marcus
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by Marcus »

ceeboo wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2023 3:39 pm
Hey FR
Free Ranger wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2023 8:20 pm
Am I welcome on this board to express my thoughts without being disrespected, falsely accused, and personally attacked?
No.

Unfortunately, no.
the discussion was about Celestial rules, which Shades made clear, so you’re wrong.

[Deleted, FR 2, 3 -- RI]
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ceeboo
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Re: Visit with Missionaries and the issue of Racist Ideas in the LDS Chuch

Post by ceeboo »

ceeboo wrote:
Mon Jun 26, 2023 3:39 pm
Hey FR
Free Ranger wrote:
Sun Jun 25, 2023 8:20 pm
Am I welcome on this board to express my thoughts without being disrespected, falsely accused, and personally attacked?
No.

Unfortunately, no.
Free Ranger - Marcus just posted a reply to me suggesting I was wrong. So, in or to clear, I wanted to post again.

When you asked your question, if you meant this particular forum (celestial) then there are supposed to be rules that allow you to post without the things you mention in your question.

If you meant what you wrote ("on this board") as I took it, then I firmly stand by the answer I gave you.
Last edited by ceeboo on Mon Jun 26, 2023 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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