Also note that Elder Hales is in the hospital and also will not attend.
The Atlantic Magazine wrote a pretty bad article about the Church. It is called “When Mormons Aspired to be a White and Delightsome People.”
To be clear, this is not even close to some of the worst stuff you can read in the media these days about the Church. Some articles have false statements in nearly every paragraph, and this article does not. But I would like, nevertheless, to make a few important points.
The first and most important is that the article makes this claim:
Until a few decades ago, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught that they “shall be a white and a delightsome people,” a phrase taken from the Book of Mormon.
I looked at on-line sources and actually consulted with several respected LDS scholars. I could find no evidence that the Church taught this. Ever.
To be fair, there are multiple quotations from Church leaders on race that are unfortunate. Don’t bother coming back to me with these quotations because I am aware of virtually all of them. I am not going to defend such things. I also am aware that there were cultural legends about Cain and many, many other problematic statements by individual latter-day Saints over the years. It is of course possible that some individual teacher told you or someone you know something very unfortunate about race just this Sunday. That is not relevant to my point.
My point is very narrow: the Church never taught that members “shall be a white and a delightsome people.” Unless you have a Church manual from 1934 showing that this phrase was taught as official doctrine, then my point remains valid. (And I am willing to be corrected if you have such a manual).
President Spencer W. Kimball, counseling priesthood leaders, said:
“We are concerned that too many times the interviewing leader in his personal sympathies for the transgressor, and in his love perhaps for the family of the transgressor, is inclined to waive the discipline which that transgressor demands.
“Too often a transgressor is forgiven and all penalties waived when that person should have been disfellowshipped or excommunicated. Too often a sinner is disfellowshipped when he or she should have been excommunicated. …
“Do you remember what was said by the prophet Alma? ‘Now,’ he said, ‘repentance could not come unto men except there were a punishment.’ [Alma 42:16.]
“Ponder on that for a moment. Have you realized that? There can be no forgiveness without real and total repentance, and there can be no repentance without punishment. This is as eternal as is the soul. …
“Please remember these things when somebody comes before you who has broken the laws of God.
“It is so easy to let our sympathies carry us out of proportion; and when a man has committed sin, he must suffer. It’s an absolute requirement—not by the bishop—but it’s a requirement by nature and by the very part of a man.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1975, p. 116; or Ensign, May 1975, p. 78.)
A coalition of U.S. evangelicals released the “Nashville Statement,” a proclamation that has similarities and crucial differences with the Church’s Proclamation on the Family.
The statement has been criticized by all of the usual critics and praised by some conservative religious types, including many who are not evangelicals.
Note to readers: M* is a Mormon web site, and nobody here is promoting traditional evangelical Christianity. But it would behoove Mormons to study this document and see that there are some areas of agreement that Mormons have with conservative evangelicals. Most of the Western world will condemn this statement. But given its similarities to the Proclamation on the Family, I would hope that faithful Mormons will treat the evangelicals involved with this statement with charity while also recognizing potential allies. At the same time, there is nothing wrong with politely pointing out some differences of doctrine we have with our evangelical brothers and sisters.
Here is the statement in full: Continue reading