In case you haven’t heard, LDS Inc has updated their scriptures. Â Most of the changes are cosmetic, apparently, but Peggy Fletcher Stack notes some that aren’t so cosmetic: changes that reflect views on race and polygamy. Â But what’s confusing me is the spin that’s going on with these changes. Â In Stack’s article, almost everyone she interviews talks about how refreshing and helpful these changes are. Â Yet, some of them are lies and half-truths. Â Take the change in the heading to Official Declaration 2:
The Book of Mormon teaches that â€œall are alike unto God,â€ including â€œblack and white, bond and free, male and femaleâ€ (2 Nephi 26:33). Throughout the history of the Church, people of every race and ethnicity in many countries have been baptized and have lived as faithful members of the Church. During Joseph Smithâ€™s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood. Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance. The revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978. The revelation removed all restrictions with regard to race that once applied to the priesthood.
Okay, yeah, that’s a quote from the BofM, but the BofM also says dark skin is a curse from god. Â But the big whopper is this line, “Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice.” Â Really? Â That’s the best you can do? Â So, the idea that blacks were less worthy in the pre-existence that was taught from the pulpit, was pervasive in the teachings of numerous prophets, and was largely considered doctrine, doesn’t count. Â Huh? Â That’s funny.
Now, I get that it’s not entirely clear why a formal policy was developed disallowing blacks from the priesthood right around the time Joseph Smith died. Â But the justification that arose to defend the policy was everywhere, and there isn’t a hint of admission or recognition of or apology for that racist doctrine in this supposedly refreshing and “modern” version of the scriptures.
Another change appears to be a “victory” for reason and evidence, but it’s actually just an under-handed compromise. Â The new introduction to the Pearl of Great Price now calls it “an inspired translation,” code for those in the know that it is really “completely fabricated and indefensible.” Â This is a great compromise. Â For the people in the pews who don’t know any better, they won’t catch the difference and will be none the wiser. Â But for those who do know better, now they can say, “See, the church doesn’t claim Joseph was making a literal translation either.” Â Ignoring the fact that all the evidence suggests he thought he was.
I’m sure some people are going to get on my case for criticizing these efforts. Â They’ll say things like, “Come on, they’re making efforts. Â Can’t you give them some credit?” Â To those people I say, “No. Â These aren’t efforts to be more open and honest. Â These are efforts to cover their asses and more carefully hide the truth. Â I’ll give them credit when they say, “The Pearl of Great Price was just made up by Joseph Smith. Â It wasn’t any more a translation than the Book of Mormon the musical is a translation of the sealed portion of the golden plates” or when they say, “We used to teach really racist things. Â We’re sorry. Â The people who taught that obviously were not inspired or they would have known better. Â We don’t speak with god any more than anyone else does. Â We’re a bunch of old, white men running a corporation and carrying on a charade.” Â When they say those things, then I’ll give them props. Â No props for lies and half truths.