Mormon Church: Dark Skin a Sign of God’s Curse No Longer

Amulon-BookofMormon-Mormon

As of Friday, December 6, the Mormon Church has officially renounced the doctrine that brown skin is a punishment from God.

In the Book of Mormon, (not the musical but the actual sacred text) dark skin is a sign of God’s curse, while white skin is a sign of his blessing. The book tells of a conflict between two lost tribes of Israel, the Lamanites and Nephites, who journeyed to the New World and made their home in Mesoamerica. The Lamanites sinned against God, and “because of their iniquity….the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them” (2 Nephi 5:21). Later, when Lamanites became Christians, “their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites” (3 Nephi 2:15).

These verses have been thought to explain the dark skin of Native Americans. In 1960, Church apostle Spencer W. Kimball suggested at the general conference that Native Americans who converted to Mormonism were gradually becoming lighter skinned:

I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today… 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 light 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. At one meeting a father and mother and their sixteen-year-old daughter we represent, the little member girl—sixteen—sitting between the dark father and mother, and it was evident she was several shades lighter than her parents—on the same reservation, in the same hogan, subject to the same sun and wind and weather… These young members of the Church are changing to whiteness and to delightsomeness. 

The blackness of Africans derived from an even more ancient stain, Cain’s murder of his brother Abel in the Genesis story.

Joseph Smith taught that Black people are cursed as “sons of Cain” but also could be saved. Brigham Young, his successor, was harsher: “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 10). Since dark skin was a divine punishment for sin (rather like Eve’s curse, which causes women to suffer in childbirth), Black men could not be ordained into the priesthood of the LDS church, a designation open to any white male age 12 and older who is “morally upright.”

During the civil rights movement, the LDS Church came under pressure as such teachings became offensive to a growing number of people.  Simultaneously, the church expanded its missionary efforts into Brazil where almost everyone has some slave ancestors. How pureblooded did a light-skinned man have to be to receive ordination or enter the temple? In this context, Spencer Kimball, who was now Church president, announced a new revelation in 1978, and Black men were granted the priesthood. But in Mormon sacred texts, the old racism remained.

Over the years, ordinary Mormons and church leaders have struggled with this heritage.  One racist passage in the scripture has simply been fixed by Mormon authorities.  2 Nephi 30:6 originally said that conversion to Christianity creates a “white and delightsome people,” but in 1981 the Church adopted a variant which reads, “a pure and delightsome people.” (Joseph Smith had used each of the phrases.)

Now, with 2013 winding down, Church authorities have decided to tackle the problem head on. In a 2000 word document posted Friday, officials emphatically renounced the racist teachings of the past:

The church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavour or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.

Much of what is in the new document has been said before by Mormon scholars attempting to reconcile modern ethics with Church history.  But this new statement is noteworthy because it comes from the Church headquarters in Salt Lake City. Unlike many other forms of Christianity, the Mormon hierarchy maintains strict control over doctrinal evolution and public statements.  A group called the “Correlation Committee” carefully reviews official documents and even Sunday school curricula to ensure consistency in teachings, emphasis and tone. Consequently, this document can be seen as part of an official trend toward greater openness and transparency about Mormon history.

Increasingly, Mormon authorities are adopting the stance that the best way to meet criticism is with good humor and well-framed candor. After expressing big disapproval over Big Love, Church leaders shifted strategies and met the hit musical, the “The Book of Mormon,” with bemused acceptance, praising it “for really nailing the Mormon sweetness, niceness, and sense of do-gooderness.” They filled theater programs with their own advertisements.

Thanks to a number of factors, including the Romney presidential run, Mormons see an opportunity to move from being perceived as a fringe “cult” to being recognized as a thread in the tapestry of Christianity. In an effort to reassure Evangelical voters during his presidential candidacy, Mitt Romney inserted the phrase “the same god” into his domestic policy debate against Barack Obama. Church leaders have since issued a communique addressing the question of whether Mormons are Christians (answer: yes). Even some LDS quirks seem to be turning into positives. Shifting sexual mores have made Mormon polygamy and sacred undergarments a matter of slightly kinky fascination rather than Puritan disgust.

Friday’s document from Mormon headquarters explains even the Church’s history of racism in terms that say, we are simply part of American culture:

The Church was established in 1830, during an era of great racial division in the United States. At the time, many people of African descent lived in slavery, and racial distinctions and prejudice were not just common but customary among white Americans. Those realities, though unfamiliar and disturbing today, influenced all aspects of people’s lives, including their religion.

Efforts to mainstream Mormon religion are taking many forms.  Over the course of 2012, the LDS Church promoted “I’m a Mormon,” a multi-million dollar marketing campaign about ordinary Americans who are also ordinary Mormons.  The Church is reaching out to young people, and the current emphasis on civil rights can be seen as one strong way of allying with youth culture.  That said, as former Mormon Garrett Amini explains, getting the Mormon hierarchy to embrace other civil rights like real equality for women and gays may present an even bigger theological challenge than equality for Blacks.

Also, the question of whether Mormon beliefs will be accepted as mainstream has challenges of its own. Per Amini, materials approved by the Correlation Committee “have significantly de-emphasized the more controversial doctrines in recent years.” Dr. Tony Nugent, retired professor of religious studies, agrees.  In 2012, Nugent compiled a list of twelve teachings that Mormon authorities tend to downplay, each of which is, in one way or another, dubious. A quick read suggests they also are far from mainstream.

With Friday’s clear and authoritative repudiation of racism, the list is down to eleven. May the process of wrestling and growth continue.

Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light and Deas and Other Imaginings, and the founder of www.WisdomCommons.org.  Subscribe to her articles at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.

Related:
The Same God?  Twelve Beliefs the Mormon Church Might Not Want You to Know About

About Valerie Tarico

Seattle psychologist and writer. Author - Trusting Doubt and Deas and Other Imaginings. Founder - www.WisdomCommons.org.
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91 Responses to Mormon Church: Dark Skin a Sign of God’s Curse No Longer

  1. Well hoooray! That’s mighty human of them. Perhaps there’s hope regarding their belief about women and LGTB. Come out of the Dark Age people.

  2. One wonders what schisms will occur in the wake of this announcement; after all, other attempts at change like forbidding polygamy bred rebellious church offshoots at every turning!

  3. pollyann27 says:

    I guess I should understand how people could believe the eleven left on the list, since I once believed in a talking snake. Still, it makes me want to scream. Not a particularly adult response, I’m afraid.

  4. TJ Hostek says:

    Mormonism is not recognized by any Christian denomination as Christian. It uses some “Christian” nomenclature designed to confuse the gullible. Mormonism, as you might have noticed, is a cult, a precurser of 20th century Scientology.

    • Kafoodie says:

      Mormons believe Christ was the son of god and worship him. Ergo, they are Christians. That members of the various other Christian cults don’t consider Mormons to be Christians is moot. The beliefs of Mormonism are no more ridiculous than the nonsense peddled by Catholics, Baptists, Presbyterians, or all the other goofballs who espouse supernatural gibberish.

      • David says:

        But Mormons also recognize other gods, like “Heavenly Mother” and view jesus as “one” being, and the Father as “another being”… so that’s called polytheism, which is fundamentally not Christian.

        Worshipping Jesus is not the only criteria for being Christian… (by the way Christian simply means follower of Christ if you want to get technical). You are of another relgiion that shares the same “name” as Christianity, but it’s not Christianity.

      • Kafoodie says:

        I’m not aware of anyone appointing you the arbiter of who is and is not a Christian. Maybe I used the wrong word with worship but Mormons are certainly followers of Christ, their myth just has more chapters than yours. So, by your definition that Christian means “follower of Christ”, Mormons are Christians.
        Look, I think you’re all kooky and it’s rather amusing to see the various Christian cults fight over the trademark, but Mormons are Christians. That you don’t like their version of the Christian myth doesn’t change the definition of the word. You are certainly free to not consider them Christians but your argument is based on the same evidence that your belief in the Christian god is…none.

      • David says:

        Well you’re here discussing it. So I suppose you’ll have to deal with the various views you disagree with. The difference between their myth and Christianity is somthing you need to fundamentally respect:

        1. Their book was made up in 1830, obviously. It had NO archaeological evidence to attest to the events told within it, and even more so, the source material itself, was from the imagination of one man, who ghostwrote the names of I suppose a dozen or so pseudonyms in one published novel called “The Book of Mormon”. In fact, the first edition he’s called the Author. He made a lot of money, proudly made himself seem perfect in the writings, and used it as justification to give to him power which he abused.

        2. The christian bible truly does come from writings over 2000 years ago. We cannot attest to the witness of the writers therein because they truly died 2000 and older years ago. But we know the archaeology shows they were truly based on events that happend in those times. The writers for the most part were not sell aggrandizing money grabbing womanizers. Jesus sought to raise people from a sad state, Paul wrote from in a jail cell his writings, and the others, if they weren’t writing to free people from bondage, they were trying to restore a teachinig that their earlier prophets had established based on true faith in God. Not on twisting God to be their access to money and power.

        It is absurd to ignore these established physical facts.

      • mikespeir says:

        But Christians believe in Satan, who qualifies as a god by any ordinary definition. How is that not polytheism?

      • David says:

        No we do not believe that Satan is a god.

        A god is one who creates, who has unquestioned dominion over any realm and who is to be worshipped. We know that Satan is a creation, who was sent to hell for demanding to rule over us. Satan is known as an adversary whose main purpose is to take worship from God. Satan cannot “create” anything.

      • mikespeir says:

        Nonsense, David. Look back through history. Most mythical beings called “gods” were not creators. Satan would have ranked high in some of those pantheons.

      • David says:

        AS CHRISTIANS… WE… believe that a god is one who creates. It does not matter to us what other religions (esp. pagans) believed, since we know their beliefs about “gods” were entirely false and based on non existent entities. This is clearly illustrated in the BIble that as Christians we KNOW that other ‘gods’ are not gods, but mere figments of peoples imaginations.

      • David says:

        @mikespeir

        You keep comparing the faith in God to the mythologies of other religions, as if they are equal in footing. Firstly, you do not seem to understand how seriously Jews and Christians took their understanding of God. Jews did not represent God as an idol in a temple, a unique occurrence among all religions. Christians did not

        Isaiah 45:5 I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God; I equip you, though you do not know me,
        John 1:18
        No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

        Read Romans 1:18-24

        Acts 17:22-30Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.

        24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[b]

        29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.

      • David says:

        @mikespeir

        So YOU may qualify Satan as a god, and Mormons may qualify satan as a God…

        But we CHRISTIANS do not.

        Thank you for helping me further illustrate the difference between Christianity and Mormonism.

      • mikespeir says:

        David, it’s not your privilege to define the word “god.” It’s not the prerogative of the Christian religion to define the word for the rest of us. By any ordinary definition, Satan qualifies. Christianity, then, believes in at least two gods.

        BTW, I’ve read your verses. I spent a great deal of my life reading those verses–as a believer myself–and teaching them. How seriously Jews and Christians take their beliefs is neither here nor there to this issue. People tend to take their religions seriously: Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Zoroastrians….

      • TJ Hostek says:

        Jews and Christians believe in God, not a god. This concept of God as not another other but as OTHER, originates with the Jews and is developed in the books of the Hebrew Bible. For “Satan” to be another god would require a sense of equality. Satan, the metaphorical embodiment of the “divider” or “separator” is by no means ever referred to as equal to God. Now, this Satan, in fact, doesn’t even appear in the Hebrew Bible as an entity or character until quite late. No reasonable analysis could conclude that “Satan” is a god as believed by Christians or Jews.

      • mikespeir says:

        Not true, TJ. In the first place, “as believed by Jews and Christians” is irrelvant, as I’ve already pointed out. Jews and Christians don’t get to redefine the word “god” to suit their tastes. (Or, maybe, as an American I could claim that the proper definition of “country” is, “that which is the United States.” Too bad about “England,” “Nigeria,” and “Thailand.”)

        But equality has nothing to do with it. Other pantheons have greater gods and lesser gods, too. Do you think Hermes was considered the equal of Zeus? And yet, they both meet the definition of “god.”

        BTW, the first definition on WordWeb is, “Any supernatural being worshipped as controlling some part of the world or some aspect of life or who is the personification of a force.”

        The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary has this: “A superhuman person regarded as having power over nature and human fortunes; a deity. Also, the deity of a specified area of nature, human activity, etc.”

        Is not Satan thought of as a supernatural being? Is he not worshipped? No, not by Christians, but he is worshipped, right? Isn’t the claim that he does control “some part of the world”? Why, doesn’t Paul call him “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2: 2) , and even “the god of this world”? (2 Corinthians 4:4)? Is Satan not thought of as the personification of evil?

        Clearly, the only thing excluding Satan from being a god is that Jews and Christians would like to think of themselves as monotheistic, so they have to tinker with the definition of “god,” and then expect the rest of us should have to buy into their revised definition.

      • David says:

        @Mike (I reply to your comments directed to TJ)

        As believed by Jews and Christians is most relevant for two reasons. 1. The other “religions” as in the pagan ones are by and large wiped out. 2. Mormonism is basing their definition to be accepted as a member of Judeo/Christianity, while simultaneously rejecting central core doctrine regarding godhood (the godhead if you will).

        Godhood is clearly defined in the Bible.

        Your analysis makes as much sense to Christians as it does to justify “flat-earth” dynamics to the round earth majority in the world now. You’re trying to essentially describe and argue about what “lies beyond the edge” of the flat earth, while we Christians are saying “there is no flat earth!”.

        So not only is there no equality with separate gods, there are no beings for which to attach this equality to.

        The only “equality” is between the Father, Son, Holy Spirit. They are co-equal, co-eternal… ah yes… remmeber that central Christian core tenet?

        You are trying to redefine Satan to be a member of the “trinity”, so what, now Satan is part of a quadrinity?

        Satan is not a deity. This was the central reason he was sent to hell.. he wanted to be and God said no. Secondly, he is not held in dominion over any part of nature or human activity. He is described as a “tempter” “accuser” and “liar”. ONe of the lies is that he is a god.

        IN FACT.. Mormons have really tried to take the serpent’s position in Genesis. Eat this fruit and you can become a god as well. A god like who? Satan?

        The Ephesian and Corinthian quotes you use are out of context:

        Ephesians 2:2 makes no mention of a god, or deity.
        2 Corinthians 4:4 “the god of this world” is an allegory. As watching shadows on a wall being as close to reality. Satan has no power… disagree? Read the rest of the SAME VERSE….

        The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, (your half)
        so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (the other half).

        In the pagan myths, Hermes and the others are part of a pantheon where they share dominion, and work in some kind of concert with one another, whether it be in mutually respecting each other’s “realms” or understanding the limits of their “godliness”.

        What realm of Satan’s does God simply not have access to? Where can Satan go that God can not? Death? Nope. God conquered death. Lies? Nope, God can destroy lies with truth…

        what then?

        Nothing. Satan was punished for trying to be exactly what you yourself claim that he is.
        Satan tries to tempt us to believe we can be that which he was sent to hell for trying to be.
        Mormonism teaches that one can be that which the Serpent said we could be and that which God sent Satan to hell for trying to be.

        God does not share his deity with anyone. We can share “IN” God, but God does not share his providence with anyone. He alone is God and He alone is “a” god.

      • David says:

        @mikespeir

        Actually you are redefining what a god is to Christians. What you are trying to do is to make Christianity “diffuse”, as in it appeals in an orthodoxy to those who are not Christians, but who have some shared beliefs. Any ordinary definition of a god is clear: 1. A god creates. The god of water can “create” water. The god of air “creates” air. The god of light “creates” light.

        Satan was known as the angel of light, but Satan could not create anything. And in fact, Satan was not a party to “the” creation… you know “let there be light”.

        Now I get how you want to just for the sake of argument redefine god, but those verses, which you say you’ve read many times are basically addressing same argument you’re having now. Yet you simply say you read them.

        Ok and????

        I will not redefine the clear principles of those verses, and of Christinanity just so others who do not accept them get to be given a label to identify those who do.

        Do you see Christians going around saying “I’m a hindu” just because they take and like Yoga? OR do you see Christians calling themselve “buddhist” just because they learn some martial arts?

        No, just because you “exercise” some aspects of a religion, does not make you a member of it. You can be a Hindu, or Buddhist, no one is arguing about that.

        But, no, identifying anyone other than God as god is NOT CHRISTIAN and in fact it goes against the core principle of Christianity. ONE GOD.

      • mikespeir says:

        No, David, I’m not redefining anything. I quoted commonly accepted definitions of “god.” By those commonly accepted definitions, Satan qualifies as a god. By the same definitions you would employ to call Hermes a god, Satan, too, is a god. (And note here that the issue isn’t whether any of these beings exist in reality, but whether the envisioned conceptions of these beings meet the standard definitions of “god.” I don’t believe in Yahweh or Satan any more than I do in Zeus or Hermes.)

        And frankly, I have no more respect for Mormonism than you do. My comments aren’t meant to defend or even address Mormonism, but your response to Mormonism based on a parochial opinion that Christianity believes in only one god.

      • David says:

        OK lets go through this one more time.
        “Commonly accepted definitions of god”

        God
        gäd/
        noun
        1.
        (in Christianity and other monotheistic religions) the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being.
        synonyms: the Lord, the Almighty, the Creator, the Maker, the Godhead; More
        2.
        (in certain other religions) a superhuman being or spirit worshiped as having power over nature or human fortunes; a deity.
        “a moon god”

        This is from the google search. (Because you know, The Abrahamic religions are of the most common in the world)

      • David says:

        Here is the other thing about this position of yours.

        You’re trying to define Satan as having some kind of godliness, as a way of saying what? That we CHristians are as polytheistic as other religions? You’re missing the true point here.

        Other religions call to other “gods” in a way and identify those beings as a god based on an understanding of “god” that Christians do not have.

        You are trying to make a compelling arguement, that Chrisitans (should?) recognize Satan as a god based on the “power” (alone) that we attribute to satan, and then once we say satan is a god then we can be on “equal” footing as other religions.

        And since we don’t, your justification then is that is because we are “redefining” what a god is. Or what you say a common notion of a god is.

        Well guess what… as much as you don’t like to admit it… your attempt at being objective is exposed as a cynical attempt at rejecting everything that is religion. I mean I get it, you don’t believe in any religion, so best to link them all. One man makes up a lie 170 years ago, no worse than whatever was written 2000-3000 years ago… right?

        Not gonna happen, because that’s not how it happens.

        You can blame the writers of the Bible for redefining what a god is…. or let me restate that: You can blame the bible writers for clarifying and correcting us all on what a god is.

      • David says:

        Any evidence found you would dismiss as coincidental anyway.

        1. The big bang = let there be light (coincidence)
        2. The preexistence waters = M-theory (coincidence)

        Lucky guess right? Go ahead… say it was a lucky guess…

      • David, I’ve been following this debate. I’m sometimes hesitant to discuss the validity of your god with believers like you. It seems apparent to me that you need this belief for survival’s sake. It’s a coping mechanism. Some people have initially experienced major trauma after they discovered that they were believing a myth, and invested a profound love in the god of their faith. This is why I tend to approach with caution. Belief curtails death anxiety, and releases lots and lots of dopamine. You believe because you are being rewarded, neurochemically, like having sex (orgasm), taking drugs, and eating foods high in fat and sugar. Too much of a good thing, i.e., dopamine, can lead to addiction because dopamine is the most addictive chemical on the planet.

        Neuropharmacological studies show that dopaminergic activation is the leading neurochemical feature associated with religious activity. Studies also show that an anticipation of a reward (i.e., heaven) gives the believer even more dopamine. We now have significant evidence that hyper-religiosity is a major feature of mania, obsessive-compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, temporal-lobe epilepsy and related disorders. Imaging studies show the ventromedial dopaminergic systems are highly activated in these individuals.

        You said:
        “Any evidence found you would dismiss as coincidental anyway.”

        Neurological studies have also shown that neural circuitry associated with critical social assessment and negative emotions (towards those they’ve bonded with) deactivate. This is why some if not most believers tend to overlook the atrocities in religious books such as the Bible, commanded and/or condoned by a supposedly loving god. This attachment activates regions in the brain’s reward system that are rich in oxytocin, dopamine, and vasopressin receptors. In other words, love is blind. This will most likely play a major role in you dismissing any evidence that is presented to you about your faith and love for and attachment to Christianity and Jesus. Nevertheless, I will share a site with you regarding Jesus’ credibility. Please read the links within the site. Should this evidence sink in with you, be assured that you will have a very supportive community. One such community is Ex-Christian.net. Another is Valerie’s other site at WisdomCommons.org.

        I’m about to go out of town for the holidays, so should you respond to my post, I won’t be able to respond right away. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the info on the site, I recommend asking John, the author of the article. He’s a little rough around the edges sometimes, but very knowledgeable about biblical history.

        All the best to you,
        Victoria

      • TJ Hostek says:

        That was just too condescending to comment on.

      • David says:

        Well thank you for sharing your concerns. Perhaps you can address the notion of self awareness, and how you can explain your own self perception of your own existence.

        Thank you for your exhaustive psychological analysis, however, that is not pertinent here. It merely serves to blanket invalidate the experiences and understanding of those with whom you disagree. In essence, “they are crazy” is the

        Kind of how the Catholic church called the scientists crazy when they tried to prove the various scientific theories (which mind you some of which were discovered by Chrsitian priests).

        It is not helpful for you to explain that a bunch of psychologically deficient people just so happened to randomly guess that the universe created with a burst of light.

        Get back when you can, I’ll be addressing more detail to your very mature sounding comment.

      • Thank you, David. In the mean time, please look over the information I shared with you. I used to be a devout Christian with a profound love for Jesus. I don’t consider myself crazy. Just crazy about love. ;) But I did invest years of study, both with the Bible, the original languages, as well as studying information from distinguished biblical archeologists and scholars. It was hard to be open-minded because I so wanted to believe. What I uncovered wasn’t an easy pill to swallow, and it was initially traumatic, but I’m so glad stayed the course.

        Hope you enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.

        ~V

      • David says:

        Neur – although your response was quite condescending, I ignored that.

        However, I have as much interest in discussing your link as you do in replying to my comment about self awareness….

        I’ll await your response to that said comment or we can move on to the next thing..

      • David says:

        Ok Vicki,
        You spoke about what seems apparent, that I need this belief for survival sake. Although it seems apparent, you truly can’t say that is so. “apparently” you’d have to truly delve further to see if that is truly the reason. “Survival” is the assumption you’ve made without delving further. Coping, and trauma, and so forth.
        What you also are ignoring are certain experiences, awareness, and observances from people “like me”, who, if you queried further, would learn:
        1. We view self awareness as something fundamentally significant in how we perceive our universe.
        2. Self awareness is worth considering in how we relate to our faith
        3. As Christians “I AM” has a philosophical value that transcends the rudimentary discussions about various religions. (I think therefore I am, I am who I am, etc).
        4. The conversations about existence, self awareness, go beyond isolated individual experiences, but in fact relate to the universe itself. It would be absurd for one to speak of gravity affecting them in isolation as if each person’s experience with gravity is profoundly unique and unrelated to others. Same being with self awareness. It is a consistency of understanding the Bible, with observation of science that fulfills our faith. One has a faith in a bridge when they walk upon it. We Christians have faith in God because God also makes himself known throughout the universe, and fulfills our faith in fundamental ways (let there be light, self awareness etc).
        5. Further scientific observations ultimately have validated fundamental positions of the Bible, even though initially they contradicted them. So as the scientists probed further, they adjusted their conclusions. So there actually was a beginning to the universe as an explosion of light.
        6. Theologians have had to adjust their interpretations to also more accurately understand that the Bible is not a science book and that the way they see the universe can distract how they interpret the Bible. For instance the water in Genesis 1 is not H2O but a metaphor of how the universe existed prior to creation.
        I could go further (and I may very well do so later), but for now, this is to show you that while fundamentalists out there are illogical at times and unreasonable, so too are various people like yourself, where you dismiss consistencies in the Christian faith as irrelevancies, or happenstance. Or you just vary well try to move on to the next topic.
        After you’ve thoroughly tried to dismiss me as suffering from a whole list of psychosis, notice that I responded without offense.
        Now I will actually help you understand yourself.
        Yes, often people experience this same trauma when they have concluded that what they were believing is a myth. And like yourself they professed a love in the god of their faith.
        What some have done is to take a clinical approach to the subject. Often it’s a means of coping with their own pain. Often they use this clinical approach to distance themselves from those others they may have shared emotional unity with on their “former” faith. Sadly some use the clinical approach to break the others down, creating a sense of doubt among others reading or listening. After all, who can very well seriously hear someone as psychologically bankrupt and dense as what you described. Being rewarded neurochemically is the assumption you make about my acknowledgement of God.
        What you don’t consider is that there are people like me that do not view a reward as the point, or the end result. I for instance view the happiness of others as the reward for myself, and the comfort of knowing they made it to God, peacefully, with their own free will, and their own revelation of understanding… you know how Jesus has taught us in the Bible. Although I certainly have dismally failed to uphold these values (I don’t go out converting people, and I do not abide by a virtuous life according to the Bible), I do not DENY it as correct.
        Therefore, you may be surprised that the dopamine rewards I have seemed to missed out on (although one could argue ad nausea that anything we do is because we ultimately choose to… there is a philosophical term for this although I do not know what it is).

        There was a brief period of time where I was agnostic, nearly atheist. And I had to really ask myself something. “How am I present and aware of my own existence”. I asked people about this. Some atheists would reply with the egotistical selfish nature of viewing “self” awareness. I also noticed this “ego” as a main argument against acknowledgement. Let me clarify:
        Athiest have often stated that it’s too selfish, self-centered, egotistical to say that self-awareness is real.
        Very well then… (I don’t think it matters, but let me go along here).
        What then do we call our self awareness? A figment of our imaginations?
        No, that would be a contradiction, I cannot imagine myself doing something that I myself cannot exist to do.
        A part of a larger consciousness? Oh wait, that’s basically admitting Christianity/Judaism is 100% correct. That would require putting some ego to the side over there. One consciousness that is omnipresent. We call that a spirit. The unique identity we all attach ourselves to, we call that the soul. Deep stuff…
        Separate blips of the universe? Still not sufficient to be consistent. Everyone has this capacity, therefore it’s got a consistency to it that must be addressed.
        See if you go this far to break it down psychologically, you should… being consistently objective, go as far as you can to delve into it.
        Oh and notice I have not made any arguments that further all those psychoses you went all around with.
        Mormonism by the way doesn’t even come into this realm of discussion. Anything that Mormonism brings that’s in anyway remotely valid here… was already raised by Christians or the Bible long beforehand.

      • mikespeir says:

        Sorry, David, but for all your words all you’ve done is point to the obvious fact that Christians prefer to think of themselves as monotheistic. It remains–and will continue to remain–that Satan fits the generic, un-redefined definition of “god.” Christians don’t have a monopoly on that definition. You don’t get to decide what it means. The bottom line is that Satan qualifies, period. You believe in two gods, but simply prefer not to call the lesser one a “god.”

      • David says:

        And you are still left, with your “sorry David” the unshakable fact that Christians do not identify the Devil to be anything more than another creation of God that has lost his way. Christians do not see Satan as a god and Satan does not qualify as a god.

        One of the things that you foolishly ignore in your “unredefined” definition is that a god is one who has characteristically been the object of worship, who has a temple, who is given prayers, who is believed to have some specific influence in a person’s life that is based on a relationship.

        See, mike, I get how you’re trying to be objective, but like so many cynical people that go after Christianity, you are only consistent on the areas you want to invalidate Christianity with.

        Satan is not a god, and him having power does not make him a god anymore than the president having the power to press the red button makes him a god.

    • Actually, even Billy Graham’s website removed it from their “cults” list last year. That said, to my mind, “cult” derives from the Latin word “cultus” which means simply care and feeding of the gods. Although Christians tend to use it in a derisive tone, it simply means a religion that is newer and more countercultural. For such a religion to survive against the cultural mainstream usually but not always requires more social control and strict hierarchy.

      • TJ Hostek says:

        Catholics liturgy is “cult” as was ancient Jewish, in that it involved sacrifice. My use of it was definitely in the perjorative. It definitely means something more than new & different. It is, as you note, pagan and a cult. Using established Christian nomenclature does not make it Christian. It has no theology whatsoever.

    • mikespeir says:

      And, BTW, cynicism, like a lot of things, is largely in the eye of the beholder.

      • David says:

        Well then you live in your world of relativism, where all things objective are in the eyes of the beholder.

        Take no responsibility for your position and when you’re held to the standard of consistency and the that standard doesn’t serve your purpose use this relativistic excuse of yours over and over.

        That’s three times now… I see a pattern.

      • David says:

        And you know what’s so ironic? I am very left leaning liberal. But liberalism doesn’t mean you reject religion and faith, it means you reject all forms of fundamentalistic dogma…

        even the atheistic kind.

  5. Perry Bulwer says:

    “… Kimball suggested at the general conference that Native Americans who converted to Mormonism were gradually becoming lighter skinned…”

    What that reminds me of is the forced assimilation attempts by the Canadian and American governments. see:

    “Canadian Indian residential schools designed to assimilate natives traumatized individuals and generations”
    http://religiouschildabuse.blogspot.ca/2011/02/canadian-indian-residential-schools.html

    I notice that the official Mormon statement on this refers to their racist doctrine as merely a ‘theory’, which would make it easier to eliminate. But the fact is it was more than just a theory, it was official dogma based on supposed revelations and/or prophecies by Mormon leaders. It will take a great deal of cognitive dissonance to overcome this rejection of church dogma, since it is an admission Mormon leaders got it very wrong, and if they got that wrong, what else have they got wrong? I could answer that, but I ask it rhetorically. Having said that, however, Mormons have a unique process for overcoming that cognitive dissonance: fresh revelations.

    This Boston Globe article stated: “… as so-called “family values’’ came to dominate US political rhetoric, the Mormons who were once hounded as sex fiends were reborn as the American family ideal.” http://www.boston.com/news/politics/articles/2011/08/28/the_politics_of_the_saints/

    The early Mormon church under Joseph Smith’s leadership started out destroying the institutions of monogamous marriage and nuclear families. Under political and legal pressure the church then reversed their position and began “to use the family as an ally in maintaining and extending its power.” As the article goes on to explain:

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has adapted to survive. Has it done so at the expense of core, if unpopular, convictions? … Mormonism has a mechanism for change that is unique among religions, with church leaders empowered to receive fresh revelations that can overturn doctrine on a dime. It happened most famously in 1890 on polygamy, and again in 1978 when the church admitted blacks to the LDS priesthood (a revelation, Romney says, that made him weep with relief). When other religions change, it is often with the pretense that the new dogma is not really new.”

    Very convenient that fresh revelations can overturn doctrines. That way church leaders do not have to ever admit they were wrong about any doctrine, they can simply claim God changed his/her mind.

    • Well said, Perry. And thanks for the quotes and links. It DOES appear that “God leads from behind”, doesn’t it? (A charge Romney may not have made directly about Obama, but certainly many of his supporters did… quite ironic, isn’t it? But then, I guess it puts Obama in good company!)

      The Mormon claim about revelation through its leaders is more blatant than in most Christian branches, but we see that it is there in any that are heavily “supernatural revelation” oriented (as to views of the Bible), including Roman Catholicism and most of Protestantism (the more conservative elements). In the case of the latter, it is either in the revered leadership of certain “star” pastors, evangelists (e.g., Billy Graham) or scholars/authors, or even some “prophets” in the Pentecostal/charismatic tradition. These are not authoritative formally and institutionally but function almost the same for guiding beliefs and often practices of true believers under their influence.

      In each case, the bottom-line effect is that religion and its many church expressions DO change with changing times, but do so in relatively hidden/mysterious ways or such indirect and “in-denial” ways that a charge of duplicity is often fair. Or with excuses such as Scripture not leading the way unquestionably because God had to accommodate the revelation of the time to where the people were… how much they could receive. So I guess we’re back to “leading from behind”. (My own position is that “God” [of panentheist nature, somewhat like a "deist" God, but not THAT removed] DOES exist and lead us ever-so-slowly, such that it does appear to be “from behind”. Actually, it’s the “lure of love” or of “oneness” that honors OUR part so much as to never be coercive nor intervening…. Thus, no “miracles” to rescue those being treated unjustly, but inspiration and courage for those who WILL intervene.

      P.S. I’d be happy to label such a being/force “Mind” or “Singularity” or “The Intention” or whatever, because of so varied conceptions of “God”. But doing so brings its own set of problems so I’ll stick, for now anyway, with “God”, followed by other descriptors when possible.

      • Perry Bulwer says:

        I actually plagiarized myself with that comment, Howard. Most of it I copied from a blog article I wrote a few years ago. The main subject of that article was not Mormons but the fundamentalist cult I am a survivor of, the Children of God, now The Family International. They also use ‘fresh revelations’ to change doctrines that were previously considered God’s will. One of the problems with institutions like that cult and the Mormon church that believe that every believer can hear directly from God themselves is what to do when ‘God’ tells those people things contrary to official dogma. The Mormon hierarchy seems to have found a way to ensure that all ‘fresh revelations’ conform to church dogma, but the more amateurish cult (deceased founder David Berg admired Joseph Smith) ended up with a real problem when members began to follow their leaders’ example and ‘prophecy’ the most ridiculous things. I wrote the article mainly to debunk claims by the cult leaders that past doctrines, such as religious prostitution known as Flirty Fishing, as well as a central doctrine that approved and encouraged child abuse, were now abandoned and children were now safe in that closed group.

        “From Sex Fiends to Family Values: the LDS and The Family International: Religious doctrines abandoned for political or legal reasons, like Zombies, never die”

        http://chainthedogma.blogspot.ca/2011/08/from-sex-fiends-to-family-values-lds.html

  6. And thus, another validating reason why I wisely parted ways with organized religion years ago. It’s an ‘act du jour’ to regularly recant what many faiths have steadfastly adhered to for centuries. They’re becoming more like U.S. politicians every day. :) Thanks for the share!

  7. Marc Hutton says:

    Well now isn’t this just great. So now that they have said that their Book of Mormon is wrong are they going to admit finally that it is a fake or at the very least admit that nether the Book of Mormon or the bible shouldn’t be taken literally. I mean biblical scholars with real academic credentials have said for years that the bible can not be taken literally, hell the so called gospels can not get the story of their sky fairy Jesus correct so who can you take anything in these moldy old book of myths literally.

  8. Ben Gabany says:

    Oh, so a holy book isn’t perfect? Really! So how about the bible? No genocide? No slaves? Can’t sell your daughter or wife? No human sacrifice? Hum?

    Guess it was written by superstitious, misguided men too.

  9. Lex says:

    There’s something missing from this piece- it wasn’t just that black men couldn’t receive the priesthood, both black men and women were not allowed into the temples- which is the ultimate goal in the church- to be ‘sealed’ to your families for time and all eternity.

    This announcement by the church never apologizes. They say they, the church that claims to be the one true church ran by Jesus himself, were just a product of their time.

    Let that sink in, Mormons.

  10. Pingback: More on black erasure in the Mormon church | JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.

  11. Craig Erkelens says:

    Seems like another thing Joseph Smith got wrong. That or the Mormon god regularly changes it’s mind when it gets enough bad press.

  12. Charles Spender says:

    Did god change his mind?
    If he did does that mean god made a mistake?
    If he did’nt are native Americans and black people dammed to hell?
    If god made a mistake can we trust him/her?
    If god is a him will he admit to his mistake?
    If god is a her will she change her mind again?

    Im confused.

    • David says:

      Here let me help you. A man in 1830 who was already convicted of fraud twice became the most successful televangelist of his day. This being without TV, but with telegraphs and what not. This guy thought he could fool people into thinking he understood ancient egyptian. At first he was correctly right on allowing blacks freedom, but as more white slaverowning racists joined his religion, he switched sides, even though from time to time his conscience pricked him and he would “ordain” black people to his ministry. In the end, this guy was the most successful huckster in America in the 1800s.

  13. N. Kane says:

    One of my favorite artists, Alex Boye, is a black Mormon. What of him, Mmm?

    • David says:

      So what. Why do you ask such a stupid question? What is this cynical justification supposed to prove? that not every black person is right and perfect? No one is making such an absurd argument. What about “so and so black guy” man give me a break!

  14. Sara H. says:

    But I’m sure all their other beliefs must be true, right? Lol.

  15. James Smith says:

    Religion: “Making shit up for at least 10,000 years.”

  16. James Smith says:

    It’s especially ludicrous, since every single person on Earth has African ancestry.

  17. David says:

    Baloney. They simply are repeating their 1977 proclamation. You all fell for this crap? They still think black skin WAS a curse, and that our ancestors WERE cursed. They still have those racist passages in their Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price, where it talks about black skin being a curse and black ancestors being from the cures of Ham, Cain. until they STRIKE OUT those passages and renounce THEM, then this is all smoke and mirrors. Oh and also, what black kid should ready anyy religious book claiming their ancestors were once cursed… but oh gee its all ok now, curse lifted…

    They should have said “NEVER WAS” cursed. They still want to hold on to their so-called version of history that still disrespects black people and their ancestors.

    If you think im being too nit-picky? Read their 2013 and when 2014 comes out, those versions of their book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price. the racist lies are still in there.

    • Sean Franklin says:

      David – I’ve been reading many of these comments and it doesn’t appear that anyone “fell for this crap”. I think people are just giving commentaries on the irony of the announcement. My favorite of those: They have essentially disavowed a major theme at the heart of the main narrative of their “most correct”, “cornerstone of the religion” text.

      That’s funny stuff!

      Yes….everyone seems well aware that the racism is still there. That’s what makes it silly that they made this announcement. All they can do is disavow racism, but it unravels their foundation….and yet, many people still go on creating justifications for their beliefs, even though their self-presented logic leaves nothing with which to maintain faith in those beliefs. BUT…people are still doing it.

      Like I said, that’s funny stuff!

  18. Reblogged this on (w) and commented:
    :) at least some form of progress.

  19. RichMan says:

    I am so glad that there is so much “anti-Mormon” talk going on these days because now those “members” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who do not really understand the truth, have not received a personal witness of it from God, or are too arrogant to do so will now leave the Church and can start their own church with doctrine to which they can subscribe.

    What I don’t understand nor support is the desire to change the Church. If you don’t like it JUST LEAVE! And if you want a church that believes what you want it to believe then START YOUR OWN! It is all about FREEDOM. If you don’t believe in “live and let live” then you don’t deserve freedom either. If you don’t support someone else’s freedom of speech and religion then you don’t deserve it yourself.

    As for myself…I do not believe in the people (members) of the LDS Church.
    I do believe in the resurrected Jesus Christ and that he has chosen some flawed humans to lead the efforts of His Church and Kingdom here on earth today.

    • Richman, I am a blogger who does often challenge beliefs and certain aspects of MY former church affiliation: conservative Protestant (or “Evangelical”). While I know that system much deeper than I do Mormonism or others, I can identify numerous parallels in both specific teachings and in the approach to “truth” to “the True Church”, etc.

      Now… as to your comment about freedoms and supporting those of others, I totally agree on that. When one points out inconsistencies or is otherwise critical of a given institution or set of beliefs that in no way is opposing or diminishing the freedom of adherents to that institution or set of beliefs. To try to curtail such criticism (not saying that’s what you are doing, but it does appear so on the surface), is itself an opposition to freedom of speech. If you make an appeal to “Be respectful” or “Be accurate”, that’s different. It should go without saying, per the “Golden Rule” affirmed by virtually all religions, that respect and compassion is in order. On the other hand, mere “truth-telling” can be taken as an offense, even if it is done in the spirit of caring for the other and respecting their will and freedoms.

    • David says:

      Freedom also includes petitioning your church or any church to make amends…
      One can choose to leave, or choose to stay.

      As you say, it’s a free country.

      • David says:

        @Kafoodie

        Actually Mormonism borrowed heavily from Islam (which itself borrowed heavily from Judaism).

        See, Islam and Mormonism are the only religions I know if where they went into another religion, claimed it was corrupt, and tried to totally rewrite it to elevate their own founder as “the greatest prophet”.

        Note the following:

        1. Joseph Smith was an avid con artist. Twice convicted (once commuted) for fraud.
        2. By the time he started the Book of Mormon, two prominent writers were widely known in his area. Mordecai (a Jew who wanted to start a Zion of Native American and Jewish people living on an island off the Hudson river, not too far from Palmyra) and view of the Hebrews. It was already popular at that time the notion that Jews and Native Americans could be related.
        3. Egyptology was also becoming very popular with expeditions bringing back artifacts and more speculation about the Old testament.
        4. the history of all western alphabets ultimately are traced back to the hieroglyphs. So the letters Smith said to had translate from Hieroglyphs, actually makes no sense the way he tried to translate them because he simply didn’t. But our written script can be shown to have a relationship with Hebrew, Arabic, etc.
        5. Egypt, at the time of Smith was a Muslim country. Not a coincidence that he borrowed heavily from Islamic sources and Arabic concepts.
        6. The Mark of Cain/Curse of Ham (relating to black people) was also widely popular. Smith clearly borrowed from the Baptist and Methodist teachings at that time.
        7. Smith borrowed from Methodist presentations. Even his pictures and paintings are designed to invoke a Wesleyan feel.

        Finally, history itself has disproven all of the contentious historical points of Mormonism. ALL of them. Anything that Mormonism has originally taught (not as a 20/20 hindsight reinterpretation), has been either debunked, or was already taught in the Bible or history up to the 1840s. Smith gets no credit for any revelation. Nor does Mohammed for that matter.

      • TJ Hostek says:

        Excellentt summary.

    • Sean Franklin says:

      “Flawed” seems appropriate if we’re talking about individual traits, of individual people: impatience, “evil” thoughts, laziness. But, this argument of flawed leaders – as an excuse/explanation for these problems – is pretty tired. I’ve yet to meet a person who ever thought any leaders were perfect, or infallible. It’s not their imperfection that is at issue; it is the demonstration, by the things that are now seen to be wrong, that the church has never been what you claimed it is: Led by…anyone… other than it’s own human leaders.

      If the Book of Mormon is the cornerstone of the religion, if revelation is meaningful and important, if “the spirit” leads people to make decisions – if only they learn to listen… why has none of that ever held true.

      1) Central narrative of Book of Mormon just disavowed. So what’s it’s value, if it’s not just allegory and/or borrowed stories from the collective human consciousness, relative to cultural moralities in the time in which it came about?

      2) The church just made an explicit revelation, people say? Should we believe the explicit revelation, or the explicit scripture, upon which the authority for that revelation to matter was extended (since both of those things are now at odds)?

      3) I’m fairly sure that people have been “feeling the spirit” about all of these false teachings for a very long time. Especially all those church leaders who “went to the Lord” for answers about their discomfort with the racist stuff, supposedly. So…um… what’s the spirit do?

      It’d be great if people would question their pre-made conclusions for a moment and answer this (even if they choose not to believe the conclusion that *I* think logically follows from the question):

      Why would God/Jesus let generations of people, who were always worthy of the only unique thing the church offers the world, be wrongly denied that one thing? How does that make any sense at all? (….unless the announcement the church just made isn’t true, and we should indeed be expected to reason the traditional/scriptural Mormon doctrine that some people are superior, and some people are inferior).

      an answer? anyone?

      Only one or the other of the church’s statements can be true: Black people are still inferior and the church lied so people would get off their backs, or black people were never inferior, because it was all made up (as the church has now just told us).

      It feels like the church is just hoping for some low-hanging fruit. The people who accept this answer as some sort of revelation that proves some supposed truth, deserve a church that makes no sense….since they clearly aren’t going to think about what it says or doesn’t. I think they’re in it for the sake of the good feelings they were taught to have as a child, or the good feelings they found as an adult.

      I say that as a person who, once upon a time, fit into the latter of those categories.

      I think most people in the world expect a true church to actually be true. But many not everyone.

  20. Pingback: Mormon Church Rules Blacks Not Inferior

  21. Umu Sillah-Kamara says:

    Mormonism is not a cult I can tell you that right now. I am an African leaving in the United states and in Utah.I am muslim by birth can read the holy quran, I have learned and have been a methodist, Catholic, baptist yoou name it, but now I am a mormon and have been for years now.They preach the same gospels as the rest of the other churches, I love their moral beliefs, the way the church is set up , the teachings, but more importantly, I am greatful that we have a modern day prophet.I don’t see why the lord provided prophets(messengers of God) for the ancient days and not the modern days and I believe we need prophet now even more ,because times are changing.Mormons are good people and I can atest to it that they practice exactly what the savior was doing in his days, caring about humanity in general poor, rich, sick, homeless, believers, non believers, just to name a few..

    • David says:

      Firstly, if you are a Mormon, then you accept their distored view of your ancestry… where according to them Cain was marked with black skin, passed it to Ham via a woman named “Egyptus” and there “sprang” the descendents of the black african races.

      Now riddle me this…

      Wasn’t this similar to the teachings of the American Baptists and Methodists for like 50 years BEFORE Joseph Smith was born?

      And if you really delve into this… didnt this theory start with Muslims? Why yes… yes it did.

      So thats great you like morals, but you dont need to trade them for truth. It’s immoral to teach lies about black people coming from an accursed ancestors (regardless if they are not considered cursed now, the fact is they never were cursed in the first place).

      So despite your Mormon proclamation last week, they are still teaching the same gibberish in their distored version of Genesis. That YOU are black because of a curse on Cain.

      And to think, they got that notion because dummies back in antiquity confused “oath” with “mark”

    • David says:

      And let me reply to the silly “we need a prophet” thing that Mormons here. No we don’t need a prophet. We can settle for God himself. Your prophets certainly did more damage on this issue than anyone else. We didn’t need your other 15 or so prophets over 150 years calling you black becuase of a cures.

      Hey what do you think of your child, or any black child reading that black skin came from a curse on Cain. You ever saw the videos where they show a black kid two baby dolls, one with black skin, one with white skin…. then ask the black kid which baby doll is the good one? which is the pretty one? Which one is the bad one? They then can see that the black kid’s self image is damaged by how how society has erroneously done these things in the media.

      Well, Mormonism is still right there committing those errors. Read those passages about black skin in the Pearl of Great Price, then ask yourself, 1. if you really think thats what happened (learn hebrew then if you do), 2. Then if any black child should read this.

      At least your not native american, its much worse with the more popular book of mormon.

    • Umu, I’m glad you chose to comment here, despite that other comments are almost entirely disapproving of one aspect or another of Mormonism.

      As to “Mormonism is not a cult”, I can understand that opinion because “cult” means so many different things to different people. The label is of virtually no significance. What IS of significance are the teachings (at various levels) of Mormonism or any given sect or religion, how the members tend (overall) to live out their own (usually high, at least in aspiration) morals, the breadth and consistency of applying them, the social/psychological/spiritual health encouraged by the religions’ teachings and practices, etc. Especially on the last factor, I have found there are other “religious” or spiritual community options that encourage and help members move toward better whole-person health (inner peace, compassion, staying positively inclined toward all others – not just fellow “members” – while supporting their freedoms, etc.). They are not at all “in the majority” and not within any one religious tradition.

      I have a book I’ll highly recommend, though it is a bit on the “academic” and detailed side. But if you can deal with that, it will be an eye-opener, and not favoring or discrediting any particular religion, but showing how both individuals and societies can continue to grow in broad ways and create a more harmonious, functional world in which to live. No one religion can do it, via their own religion, but any and all can at least help the process. Unfortunately, many are more “in the way” than aiding the process. The book is “Integral Spirituality” by Ken Wilber.

  22. Perry Bulwer says:

    …“cult” means so many different things to different people. The label is of virtually no significance….

    Howard, I understand why you say that, but it is much more complicated than that. What you are referring to, I think, is the general public’s use of the word “cult”. That general meaning has become very watered down and almost meaningless, for example, when it is used to describe a “cult movie”, meaning it is of interest only to a small audience.

    But the word “cult” in the academic world does have a great deal of significance. Margaret Singer’s book “Cults in our Midst” contains an excellent analysis and method for identifying harmful cults, which I highly recommend. Without having ever met me, she describes my personal experiences extremely accurately. Another academic work on this subject is the 2001 book “Misunderstanding Cults: Searching for objectivity in a controversial field”. It has an interesting structure, pitting academics on both sides of the issue against each other in the hope they could come to some common agreements. One side is represented by the journal Cultic Studies Review and the other side by the journal Nova Religio. One group uses the word “cult’ and the other “new religious movements”. There have been other terms other academics have tried to popularize, such as “high demand groups” but they have not been widely accepted.

    This schism between the two sets of academics continues today. The current issue of Cultic Studies Vol 4 No 3 2013 has an editorial and article on this same subject of dialogue between the two camps.

    • Perry, your points are well taken. I don’t follow this academic discussion in any direct way. I very much realize words and definitions do “count” and are basic to all verbal communication… deal in that realm very heavily. And the very LACK of a widely-accepted or even understood def. is part of why I said it’s “of no significance”. I also meant in relation to Umu’s personal reactions… what a given group or organization is labeled means little relative to how it is experienced, viewed, and responded to by anyone involved in it.

      But just for “fun”, I AM quite aware of the academic use of “cult” that is much broader than the popular usage and also than the more focused discussion of which groups may legitimately be a “cult” vs. a “major religion” or whatever. In studies of religion, history of religion and even biblical studies (as more focused), “cult” has various connotations that are not pejorative – describing aspects of belief, practice, etc.

  23. Pingback: 2013: Mormon Church Finally Says Dark Skin is Not a Sign of God’s Curse | Alternet | www.HumansinShadow.wordpress.com

  24. James Smith says:

    It’s fairy tale nonsense, anyway. Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Vishnu, Buddha, it’s all made up by primitive humans to try and explain things. We should all have outgrown this by now.

    • I appreciate the sentiment you express, James. However, religion is a complex phenomenon, with a number of positive social and psychological functions as well as negatives; and much more “healthy” or “functional” in its more advanced forms than in others which indeed are more “primitive”. For a carefully-developed examination of stages of development for individuals, societies (or sub-societies, including religious institutions) and the vital need for religions themselves to, in fact, “grow” (as they naturally tend to, but with many sorry “fits and starts”), see “Integral Spirituality” by Ken Wilber.

    • David says:

      YOu may as well dismiss your own self awareness as a fairy tale… oh but you can’t because you are unable to divorce your consciousness from your mind.

      Imagine that.

      • James Smith says:

        Mind is formed by the brain, that has nothing to do with this. Just because you cling to evidence-less nonsense, doesn’t mean the rest of us haven’t outgrown it.

      • David says:

        It extremely has to do with this. Your self perception is something that you take for granted, yet you cannot explain it. It is the most fundamental aspect of all that you know, yet you ignore it’s significance.

        You may as well say that once you die, gravity disappears with you.

        The Bible is not a science book. But it truly was written 2000-3500 years ago. That’s historically and archaeologically proven. From the artifacts themselves, to copies of the papyrus that show it’s age.

        The Book of Mormon was passed off as ALSO being written hundreds of years ago by the guy who claimed to have found it. However, it’s been proven that this individual himself made it up, wrote it all in, and tried to pass it off. Everything designed to “validate” it ultimately goes through this individual, who mind you was already convicted twice for fraud beforehand.

        Blind faith is stupidity. That is Mormonism. Faith for faith’s sake.

        That’s not Christianity. There is faith and reason.

      • James Smith says:

        You reveal your own ignorance with everything you write.

      • David says:

        You have no response do you? For you, one who acknowledges their own existence, far be it to be a sign of intelligence…

        No instead you want to call it ignorance. Yet and still you have no response.
        We may as well be a thousand years ago, and I’m trying to explain to you the world is round…

        You don’t seem to get it. Your unwillingness to delve into this matter is a sign of YOUR ignorance.

  25. James Smith says:

    And once the brain is gone, so is consciousness. How do YOU reconcile the bible, or Book of Mormon with science, which has disproved several aspects of both? Just admit you’re too ignorant and/or scared to let go of the crutch of religion. Faith(ie: belief without, or sometimes, despite, evidence) is just glorified willful ignorance.

    • David says:

      Here’s another way to deal with the consciousness.

      Even if you want to limit your understanding of it to the physics alone… you can’t deny your own presence. Now, how can you dismiss the continuity (and consistency) of all living beings that are conscious? Are you the only one? Is it all an innumerable coincidence that each human also possesses this consciousness?

      Obviously it’s not a coincidence. Therefore there is something deeper that allows this to happen. Even if you want to describe it within the realm of physics… guess what… you can’t deny it. And like all forces of the universe, whatever it is that gives CONSISTENT OBSERVABLE data showing we are all conscious must therefore be the result of a higher “force” or “nature” or “consciousness”… any of which leads you back here.

      It’s not a clinging to anything. I’m just not so stupid, or numb minded to think “oh gee I am conscious, but the concept of consciousness is just confined to my own brain and self awareness is just an unexplainable artifact of brain cells firing off”.

      Your lack of scientific inquisitiveness shows your lack of objectivity.

  26. Anne says:

    This is to David….You are truthful and right on God’s word will not come back void. Satan was an angel of darkness cast down to make war with the Saints which are us…We don’t wrestle agaist Flesh and Blood but principalities of darkness in high places. The Bible… Also in Genesis scripture states in the plural ” Let Us Make A Man Someone Like Ourselves” (The Trinity) They have not got the Holy Spirit to teach them all truth and in him is no lie.. Everyone goes to a better place in the Celestial Kingdom WRONG! and if you read the last chap in Revelations 22:18 God speaking to John on the Isle of Patmos “And I solemly declair to everyone who reads this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God shall shall add to him the plagues described in this book. ” and if anyone subtracacts any part of these prohecys , God shall take away his share in the Tree of Life and in the Holy City just described. Well they have added more and more and had new revelations etc. Bottom line if you ask any Cult do the believe in Jesus they say they do but here’s where you can call them out on being a cult by then asking them ” Do you believe Jesus was and is God himself who came down and died for our sins and salvation and rose from the dead 3 days later and is himself God in the FLESH… they will say No! So David I will Pray for you right now and you Go Bro thanks for putting all the truth of the Good News out there , Mormons are way past twisting scripture etc. Blessing to you my Brother…

  27. Anne says:

    I am non denominational and I have a personal RELATIONSHIP with the Good Lord I DON’T have Religion, That’s the bottom line and anyone downgrading my relationship with Jesus Christ as some have said ” For Survival Purposes you are so right , I have been healed of breast cancer just suffered a brain anyurism that should of killed me and the Lord was the only one with me at the time and managed to not be late on the scene for help (my mom died at 38 of one ) and I have survived numerous atrosities all my life so can’t live without my Jesus and Bible….I will Survive by His Grace. Amen!

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  30. Calvin says:

    David, I admire your believe. See you in heaven when we leave this sinful world. God Bless.

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