18 December 2010

The LDS church is embarrassed by its own book

The Mormons did it again. They changed the Book of Mormon to make it a bit less embarrassing.

To see this best, though, you need to go get your Book of Mormon. I know you've got one somewhere. I'll wait.

OK, good. You found it.

Now check out the last sentence of the second paragraph of the official "Introduction" (assuming you got yours before November 2007).

After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the Native Americans.

And here it is after the change.

After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the Native Americans.

See the difference? The Lamanites went from "the principal ancestors" of the American Indians to being "among the ancestors."

If that doesn't seem like a big deal to you, you're not a Mormon. Because until 2007 the LDS church taught and every Mormon believed that the Lamanites were the (principal and only) ancestors of the Native Americans.

But then in 2007, the LDS church demoted the Lamanites to "among" status because it became too embarrassing to claim otherwise.

Now the LDS church is removing the racist language from two of its official introductions to chapters of the Book of Mormon.

Once again, get out your silly blue book and read the introduction to 2 Nephi 5.

The Nephites separate themselves from the Lamanites, keep the law of Moses, and build a temple -- Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cursed, receive a skin of blackness, and become a scourge unto the Nephites. 2 Nephi 5 Introduction, before December 17, 2010

And here is the new 2010 cleaned up version.

The Nephites separate themselves from the Lamanites, keep the law of Moses, and build a temple—Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites are cut off from the presence of the Lord, are cursed, and become a scourge unto the Nephites. About 588–559 B.C. 2 Nephi 5 Introduction, after December 17, 2010

In the original, God cursed the Lamanites for their unbelief by turning their skin black; in the new, improved version, God just curses them, with no mention skin color.

And here is the original introduction to Mormon 5:

Mormon again leads the Nephite armies in battles of blood and carnage--The Book of Mormon shall come forth to convince all Israel that Jesus is the Christ--The Lamanites shall be a dark, filthy, and loathsome people--They shall receive the gospel from the Gentiles in latter days. Mormon 5 Introduction, before December 17, 2010
And here's the new version.
Mormon again leads the Nephite armies in battles of blood and carnage—The Book of Mormon will come forth to convince all Israel that Jesus is the Christ—Because of their unbelief, the Lamanites will be scattered, and the Spirit will cease to strive with them—They will receive the gospel from the Gentiles in the latter days. About A.D. 375–84. Mormon 5 Introduction, after December 17, 2010

The new introduction to Mormon 5 deletes the part about the Lamanites being "a dark, filthy, and loathsome people" and instead says that they'll be scattered and "the Spirit will cease to strive with them."

The LDS church made these changes because it's embarrassed by the obvious racism in the Book of Mormon, as well it should be. And yet the original introductions to 2 Nephi 5 and Mormon 5 were completely accurate.

Here's what it says in 2 Nephi 5. (They haven't had the courage to to change it -- yet.)

He had caused the cursing to come upon them ... wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people ... And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. 2 Nephi 5:21-23

And here's a quote from Mormon 5.

This people ... shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people ... because of their unbelief and idolatry ... They were once a delightsome people ... But now, behold, they are led about by Satan. Mormon 5:15-18

The Book of Mormon is as absurd as it is disgusting. It's good to see that the Mormons are finally recognizing that fact.

I wonder what they'll change next.

29 comments:

Shawn said...

Nicely done! That was terribly entertaining. Unchanging word of god indeed.

11-year old Atheist said...

I have seen people try to reinterpret there texts to make it immune to criticism but literally change! Sure, some Non-Mormon Christians do it but they're rare.

P.S. I don't have a Book of Mormon just a bookmark to an Online Book of Mormon.

GMpilot said...

During my service days in the '70s, one of my mates was a Mormon. He was shocked when I mentioned that passage, and a couple of others--and embarrassed that I knew of them. (This was just around the time that the LDS received a revelation that African-Americans could be church leaders after all.)

But you can't be in the military without rubbing shoulders with some of the very people you were warned about--and we became good friends.
I sometimes wonder if he's still a LDS; I like to think he's not. He was too smart to believe that crap forever.

Godless Woman said...

Thanks for sharing this. It is about time that the Bible gets rewritten *caugh* I mean re-divinely inspired.

Jane said...

To be fair, the Mormons do have an open canon. I just never knew it was a retroactive open canon.

uzza said...

"We cannot change; we will not change."
Boyd K. Packer, president of the church’s Quorum of Twelve Apostles, Sunday, Oct 3, 2010

Seth R. said...

You realize the introduction is not, and never was asserted to be "scripture" right?

As such, it is open to revisions like this.

Not an incredibly big deal to me.

Darren Delgado said...

Give them credit for one thing: at least they *are* embarrassed of what's in there.

How can we get the Christians to follow their lead and start to be embarrassed of what's in the Bible, instead of making excuses for it?

Steve Wells said...

Yes, Seth R., I realize that the chapter summaries are not considered "scripture" by the LDS church. And I didn't say they were.

But it is obvious why the changes to the summaries were made by the LDS church: it is embarrassed by what the chapters (2 Nephi 5 and Mormon 5) so clearly say.

And how could any Mormon be anything but embarrassed by the following words of sacred Mormon scripture?

He had caused the cursing to come upon them ... wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people ... And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. 2 Nephi 5:21-23

This people ... shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people ... because of their unbelief and idolatry ... They were once a delightsome people ... But now, behold, they are led about by Satan. Mormon 5:15-18

I don't know if you're a Mormon or not, Seth R. But if so, are you embarrassed by these passages?

If there's a Mormon out there who is proud of them, I'd love to hear about it.

11-year old Atheist said...

@Steve Wells Yes, I checked. Seth is a Mormon.

@Seth R. Yes, it's not scripture. However, I would like to that "prophets" run the Mormon church... At least, according to Mormons.

If they were prophets and God was unchanging then the introduction should have the stayed the same.

Michael Jeffcott said...

Religious literalism is too easy a target, but if you stop taking shit literally, you can learn a lot about human nature, which is waaay more interesting than the non-existence of God and the antiquatedness of religion anyway.

I'm an atheist, but my view of most angry atheists who argue with theists is that it's mostly the Dunning-Kruger effect that leads them to keep doing it. They've concluded that there is literally no God, so they feel smugly superior to people who feel that there is in the face of all logic to the contrary - but life is too interesting to stick with just the one perspective. It has been my experience that angry atheists who argue with believers just don't know what they're missing. At any point in time, none of us knows what we're missing, which is why curiosity and exploration are so important.

Secular living has advantages and disadvantages, and for the most part the advantages vastly outweigh the disadvantages. And yes, religion tends to keep people ignorant, which is horrible and wrong.

But as Vonnegut said, "Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia."

So, suppose for a minute that they don't really teach anyone that "community" is a fundamental human need in secular schools. I'm not talking about the bullshit that comes from people being polite with each other and forming friendships as individuals, but from people together, sharing their lives with one another, and being deeply connected with each other in a way we would have been for a large chunk of our evolutionary history, when life was a struggle and we needed to love and contribute to our communities in order to survive.

There is a "separateness" from other people in secular society that just sucks, and the semi-autistic, analytic mindset that leads most people to rationally conclude that there is no God obscures the crucial truth that most things in life can only truly be understood by experience - because we are animals and not calculators. We're all interdependent whether we realize it or not, and the socialization which leads us to do no harm to one another, to live and let live, teaches us that we're all in little separate individual pods, but that's bullshit and no way to live.

The Mormon symbol is the beehive - as in, each individual is part of a larger, intelligent organism, which is a hell of a lot more interesting and meaningful than living solely for oneself.

So the point of all that is that even though the Book of Mormon is probably almost entirely retarded, life is ridiculously interesting - so stop attacking the easy target, religious literalism, and start ACTUALLY thinking instead of accepting the bullshit values/ways of life given to you by society.

Stupid people think everything is stupid, because that's all they can understand. Start looking for intelligence in other people and you'll find it. Seek and ye shall find - which is an old school way of pointing out the beauty and usefulness of our Reticular Activating System, haha.

busterggi said...

Evidence that Mormons accept evolution!

Steve Wells said...

OK, Michael Jeffcott, you say we should "stop taking shit literally." Great. I'm all for that. So how should be take the shit that the modified LDS summaries refer to?

He had caused the cursing to come upon them ... wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people ... And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. 2 Nephi 5:21-23

This people ... shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people ... because of their unbelief and idolatry ... They were once a delightsome people ... But now, behold, they are led about by Satan. Mormon 5:15-18

You say, "Stupid people think everything is stupid, because that's all they can understand. Start looking for intelligence in other people and you'll find it."

So how about finding the intelligence in the above-quoted Book of Mormon passages? That should be easy for "I'm an atheist, but" atheist like yourself.

Michael Jeffcott said...

Okay, looking at the long arc of history, arguably humanity (or large chunks of it) have always had an ethnocentric bias, and we arguably still do. Many people don't do so hot on the racial implicit association tests, and even though those associations are to a large extent culturally variable, it isn't crazy to suppose that we're genetically predisposed to favor people who look more like we do.

And to the extent that the old text (1) recognizes the racism and provides an explanation for it (albeit an idiotic one) and (2) reinforces in-group solidarity by defining a vile outgroup, the text is not only intelligent, but brilliant. See:
http://www.neurosciencemarketing.com/blog/articles/us-vs-them.htm

There are ugly parts of human nature - we're probably descended from genociders. Game theory probably dictated that in many circumstances in our ancestral environment, "just to be safe" genocidal logic wins over "kumbaya" logic when there are potential threats from outgroups.

So you could say (1) racism is wrong and (2) genocide is wrong, and therefore the Bible and/or Book of Mormon is stupid/cruel, but what I'm telling you is that in 2010 doing so is both less interesting and productive than using the books (written by people who were ignorant and flawed like all of us, but perhaps intelligent for their time) to study and think about human nature.

Anyone can find the stupidity, absurdity, and cruelty within religious literalism. It is too easy of a target. So you're absolutely right that the text is literally a stupid explanation and it's racist, but I'm saying, you're probably smart enough (and it is far more rewarding) to find more intelligent readings of the text.

It is as though you're stuck on making fun of people who think that 2+2=5. There are waaay more interesting and beautiful questions out there. Accept that you're right and move on, and in the long run you'll be better off.

I didn't intend my first comment to be offensive, but I wasted a lot of time thinking I was smart because I escaped religion, and I want other people to not repeat my mistake.

"Years ago my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world, Elwood, you must be" - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant."
-Elwood Dowd

The real problem is figuring out how to be both pleasant and smart, and in the long run attacking religious literalism is neither.

Best regards,
Michael

Steve Wells said...

Michael,

And to the extent that the old text (1) recognizes the racism and provides an explanation for it (albeit an idiotic one) and (2) reinforces in-group solidarity by defining a vile outgroup, the text is not only intelligent, but brilliant.

If by “the old text” you mean the passages that I quoted (1 Nephi 5:21-24 and Mormon 5:15-18), it is still the current text in the Book of Mormon. The LDS church only removed the racist language in the introductions. They kept completely intact the “not only intelligent, but brilliant” verses that you admire so much.

So you could say (1) racism is wrong and (2) genocide is wrong, and therefore the Bible and/or Book of Mormon is stupid/cruel…

I not only could say it, I do say it. Racism and genocide are wrong and therefore both the Bible and the Book of Mormon are stupid and cruel.

…but what I'm telling you is that in 2010 doing so is both less interesting and productive than using the books (written by people who were ignorant and flawed like all of us, but perhaps intelligent for their time) to study and think about human nature.

I am not interested in what you are interested in, and I have no interest in interesting you about anything. If you don’t find my blog interesting, don’t read it.

In 2010 more than three billion people believe in, and base their lives upon, the Bible, the Quran, or the Book of Mormon. If we survive the next 50 years or so, it will be because we left behind the supposedly sacred writing of ignorant men and began to rely upon reason, science, and morality.

Anyone can find the stupidity, absurdity, and cruelty within religious literalism. It is too easy of a target.

Yes, it is easy to find the stupidity, absurdity, and cruelty in texts that are stupid, absurd, and cruel. It takes real talent to cover up for believers. I’ll leave that to you, Michael.

So you're absolutely right that the text is literally a stupid explanation and it's racist, but I'm saying, you're probably smart enough (and it is far more rewarding) to find more intelligent readings of the text.

The texts (1 Nephi 5:21-24 and Mormon 5:15-18) are stupid and racist. There are no “intelligent readings” of stupid and racist texts.

The real problem is figuring out how to be both pleasant and smart, and in the long run attacking religious literalism is neither.

There is no pleasant and smart way to deal with texts that are neither pleasant nor smart, and it is dishonest to pretend otherwise.

Brad said...

Thanks for posting that! It's amazing that I lived and breathed this religion for as long as I did. Now I pay for it almost everyday, but it's getting better.

Lynn said...

Michael Jeffcott,
I'm all for being pleasant, but if avoiding the act of annoying people requires me to keep all my opinions to myself-I can't go back to that.

I spent my life being damaged by taking religious fundamentalism seriously, and now I'm supposed to nod and smile til my dying day-while Christians can feel free to tell me to pray or seek God, or that they'll pray for me-and other condescending statements?

I now see it as: if I have to hear their opinions stated as facts, then I too get to have an opinion.

I did enjoy your Harvey quote though-my favorite movie.

Ishmael said...

What bugs me most about changes like this is the way the members intuitively know to pretend that nothing was changed, and it was always this way.

Sometime it's overt: the last change to the temple initiatory came with specific instructions to temple workers that they not discuss the change or the old version with anyone. And sometimes it's just ignorance: I know someone who recently argued passionately that the church has never paid custodians to clean its buildings.

But most of the time it's this unwritten but widely understood rule that everyone goes along with the revision as if we've always been at war with Eastasia. My dad recently remarked to me that when you think about it, the church has never really taught that the Native Americans were descended from from the Lamanites. I'm confident that he doesn't really understand the issue at all, he just got wind of the new marching orders and is carrying them out dutifully.

beccabek said...

@Steve, thank you for your post. I hope it helps a wavering Mormon in deciding what to do with their life.

@Seth, anything that the Church puts their logo on is considered doctrine. Changing that is a pretty big deal.

And @Micheal, thank you so much for your comments. I think you're well on your way of finding a balance between smart and kind. However, smart is currently in the lead. :)

Markus Arelius said...

Who's attacking?

I think these questions are all legitimate and very important ones for people to be asking.

@Michael, I think you're generalizing about the "angry atheist" quote. Disgusted. Impatient, maybe. But "angry"?

Come on everybody!:) Let's be sure not to get angry and to instead be pleasant when it comes to discussions about tribalism and racism. After all, we don't want to offend anyone, and we certainly wouldn't want to question things and arrive at new and "interesting" ideas in the future.

Matthew Blanchette said...

This is a very interesting discussion; I'm sorry I haven't been on here in a while, but I've been horribly busy with college work, and such.

Steve, in your experience, what is it that makes people come back to religion, time and again? C.S. Lewis was one; can't really think of any others -- Stephen Baldwin, perhaps?

These people were not raised religiously, yet somehow came to accept it -- why?

I, on the other hand, was raised religiously; in fact, I continue to live in the same household, yet I am an atheist. Over and over, people say they'll "pray for" me, and I cringe inside, but I nod and smile.

Will saying something in your head really make me do better, worse, or influence events in life to that effect?

No.

If I tell them that, however, do you think they would react rationally and contemplatively?

Also no; they'd get very angry with me, possibly castigate me for my "irreligion", or -- and here's the kicker -- "pray that I get better".

Yet I love them anyway. I suppose I can coexist with religious people, because that's what they "know"; were I to challenge them, however, they'd react as though I said that the sky was green, or that an ornamental teddy bear was Satan, or something similarly absurd.

Why? I don't know; perhaps because it's such a cherished belief... except, why do people like Lewis and Baldwin stumble upon religion -- and continually defend it -- in such a manner?

Above all, just why? It's not a reason for living -- I know that life is wonderfully random, even to the beginning of time -- I just want to grasp the logic.

Why?

qwerty said...

I don't care about anything any of you said I know that the Book of Mormon is true and I will never deny it.

twillight said...

To be honest my answer on "living peacefully with religious people" is: it is "very hard" (ti.: impossible) to coexist with people who want to KILL you.

I also compare beliving in false things (like God) to drug abusers believing they can fly.

11-year old Atheist said...

@qwerty You're like a person saying

'La! La! La! The earth is flat. La! La! La! I will never DENY it.'
--- Person X

Okay, if the BoM is true then I say The Book is true. I will never deny it.

Doug Forbes said...

Two British scientist named Towne and Hulse, observed during the 1960s and 1980s that a diversity of pigment color had developed in the Habbani Jews. This means that some Habbani had become much darker than other Habbani in the space of one or two generations. This observation was spun in the news as a rebuke to racist theories. In my opinion the Nephite prophet Jacob observed the same phenomanon in the Lamanites, agroup similar to the Habbani in that they were founded by a small number of patrilineages. Jacob ascribed this change to the hand of God. Jacob, of course, ascribed everything to the hand of God. When I first read the Book of Mormon, I recognized immediately the radical difference between the view of racial differences like skin color held by Mormons and the racist views of non-Mormons such as Gobineau. Whereas the world in general holds that biology dictates human behavior, Mormon teach that Man has free will and is neither a slave to his biology nor his environment.

Doug Forbes said...

The Bible and non-Mormon Christianity has a 100 times more to explain than Mormonism; genocide, burning witches and heretics at the stake, wars between Christian nations, etc, etc.

Steve Wells said...

Doug Forbes,

So the Book of Mormon is completely wrong when it says this in 1 Nephi 5:21-23,

"He had caused the cursing to come upon them ... wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people ... And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing."

God didn't curse the Lamanites by causing "a skin of blackness" to come upon them in order to make them "loathsome" to the Nephites.

And he didn't threaten to curse those that would "mix their seed" with the Lamanites by turning their skin black if they did so.

The Book of Mormon is wrong about all that.

Is the BoM wrong when it said this in Mormon 5:15-18:

"This people ... shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people ... because of their unbelief and idolatry ... They were once a delightsome people ... But now, behold, they are led about by Satan."

God didn't cause the Lamanites to become a "dark, filthy, and a loathsome people" that were "led about by Satan."

Do you think the BoM got anything right, Doug? Are you embarrassed by the whole thing, or just certain passages?

Trevor Spencer said...

The Book of Mormon is the word of God! It testifies of our savior Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, who did see God The Father and Jesus Christ in the sacred grove. He ushered in the last dispensation of time prepetory to the return of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He moved the work of Zion forward, to prepare our world for The Millennium. He progressed this fallen world with amazingly strong faith and work. Both of which he was persecuted tirelessly throughout his life, and ultimately sealed his testimony with his own blood. Joseph did what anyone reading this can do. He asked God with real intent and a desire to act, what was true. Reading The Book Of Mormon and praying to God, in the name of His son Jesus Christ if it is true will bring the spirit to answer you, that it is!

Will Schmidt said...

So, Trevor, you're saying that the Book of Mormon is completely correct when it says this in 1 Nephi 5:21-23,

"He had caused the cursing to come upon them ... wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people ... And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing."

It's true that God cursed the Lamanites by causing "a skin of blackness" to come upon them in order to make them "loathsome" to the Nephites.

God did, in fact, threaten to curse those that would "mix their seed" with the Lamanites by turning their skin black if they did so.

The Book of Mormon is not wrong about any of that. It is the most correct book on earth!!

It is truth when it says Mormon 5:15-18:

"This people ... shall become a dark, a filthy, and a loathsome people ... because of their unbelief and idolatry ... They were once a delightsome people ... But now, behold, they are led about by Satan."

God caused the Lamanites to become a "dark, filthy, and a loathsome people" that were "led about by Satan."