Book of Mormon — Not Racist

After being exposed for the shady handling of tithing money, the church has come under scrutiny once more after having to remove an “error” from the new study manual for the Book of Mormon as part of their new yearly curriculum for each set of scripture.

The “error” in question is related to the never-ending accusations of racism within church teachings and beliefs. (By the way, these accusations are correct—considering the leaders of the church have promulgated racism for the majority of LDS church history.)

This is the statement from the original:

The dark skin was placed upon the Lamanites so that they could be distinguished from the Nephites and to keep the two peoples from mixing. The dark skin was the sign of the curse. The curse was the withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord. […] Dark skin […] is no longer to be considered a sign of the curse.”

Now take a look at the redaction:

The curse of the Lamanites was that they were ‘cut off from [the Lord’s] presence … because of their iniquity. […] When Lamanites later embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, ‘the curse of God did no more follow them.’”

You gotta hand it to the church for trying to get away with this without even bothering to defend the ramifications of what the actual text of the Book of Mormon is saying—because in the end, it doesn’t matter how you redact it; what matters is what God said about it in the holy and infallible Word provided.

Due to this particular issue coming under the spotlight, I want to offer my own interpretation, one which I have shared before—multiple times, actually—only to discover it’s not compelling enough to change anyone’s mind on the matter.

Before continuing I want to provide a passage from a post I wrote on the false serpent-seed doctrine in regards to the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible:

The Book of Moses actually counters this just as it countered the doctrine of angels sleeping with mortals. But the narrative of Moses allows it to be read in a non-chronological order. It still leaves room to wonder just as the commentator Mike still wonders if there’s more to the picture with the daughters bearing giants on the earth.

This room-to-wonder, however, does not vindicate the false doctrine, but points us in a better direction. It’s expounding what Genesis meant, while still retaining the vague manner of the original text. There wasn’t anything actually wrong with Genesis; we just weren’t smart enough to get it. The oddity of its passages were tweaked to give us another chance.

For example, did we need the Joseph Smith translation to tell us that God wasn’t the one who hardened Pharaoh’s heart? Did we need to know that Paul didn’t want us to literally “leave” the principles and doctrines of Christ? Would it really have been that difficult to piece those things together correctly?

Joseph Smith translated passages of the Bible with clarifications and changes, but these changes are not provided in The Book of Mormon when its prophets included the writings that are, more often than not, just as they stand in the “King James”-Bible before Joseph Smith made clarifications. So was the prophet and seer really fixing “errors”? Or was God using Joseph Smith to restate his word according to our language and understanding?—the way God speaks unto the children of men? (2 Ne 31:3)

God might have been tweaking the language due to a false human understanding that belonged to the traditions of our fathers.”

The point I was making was that there can be two correct interpretations to the Word of God, and sometimes they can appear diametrically opposed to each other. However, truth is independent within the sphere God has placed it. (D&C 93:30)

I believe God wanted early-America to read the Book of Mormon at face-value and believe the Lamanites were turned a darker colour because of the judgment of God upon them. The reason for this…was to establish an anti-racist narrative, which could have—had the Gentiles repented—prevent slavery and so forth.

A commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.” (Jacob 3:9)

In 1830, God was teaching the people to not be racists. The inclusion of them receiving dark skins directly from God was a teaching point.

In 2020, with 20/20 hindsight, what is the ultimate teaching point?

Maybe…that it was never about race.

Until we no longer live in a racist society, the following interpretation will not gain traction. Nonetheless, let’s take a closer look.

Now the heads of the Lamanites were shorn; and they were naked, save it were skin which was girded about their loins […] and the skins of the Lamanites were dark, according to the mark which was set upon their fathers, which was a curse upon them.” (Alma 3:5–6)

Was the mark of the curse the pigment of their skin? Or was it the skin they girded about the loins? Either way, the Book of Mormon does not promote a racist ideology no matter how you frame it.

But it is my belief that the definition of “skin” had nothing to do with actual flesh.

Another example of the true BOM-definition of “skin” appears in 3rd Nephi when we are told the the Gaddianton robbers, “Had a lamb-skin about their loins, and they were dyed in blood.” (4:7)

We have dark skins and red skins recorded, each of which are explicitly stated to be girded about the loins of the wearer.

What made the Nephites different? Clearly, the Lord blessed them with the prosperity and intelligence to make themselves clean coats of skin to wear. White garments, I imagine. This type of prosperity was not offered to the rebellious.

That is the curse.


10 replies »

  1. Interesting perspective. I’ve honestly never heard that one before. Very unique.

    I completely disagree. The dark skin referred to was absolutely that the Lamanites own skin was darkened by God as a curse and not that they were wearing some animal skin.

    In my opinion you have to ignore the plain language of Nephi and Mormon and twist it to make your interpretation stick.

    The Book of Mormon is absolutely “racist.” So are all the scriptures.

    Moses 7 and Abraham 1 are very “racist.”

    Christ was “racist” when he called the black Phoenician woman a dog.

    Nephi was “racist” when he said that the Lamanites skin was dark and loathsome while the white skin of the Nephites was fair and delightsome.

    God is a “racist.”


      • Here’s what the Book of Mormon says about the darkened skin of the Lamanites.

        2 Nephi 5

        21 And he (the Lord) had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; 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.
        22 And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.
        23 And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.

        Jacob 3

        5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins…

        These verses cannot be interpreted any other way besides the Lamanites literally being cursed with black skin.

        Nephi also compares the seed of his brethren the Lamanites to the Europeans who came to the Americas.

        Nephi 12

        20 And it came to pass that I beheld, and saw the people of the seed of my brethren that they had overcome my seed; and they went forth in multitudes upon the face of the land.
        21 And I saw them gathered together in multitudes; and I saw wars and rumors of wars among them; and in wars and rumors of wars I saw many generations pass away.
        22 And the angel said unto me: Behold these shall dwindle in unbelief.
        23 And it came to pass that I beheld, after they had dwindled in unbelief they became a dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.

        Nephi 13

        14 And it came to pass that I beheld many multitudes of the Gentiles upon the land of promise; and I beheld the wrath of God, that it was upon the seed of my brethren; and they were scattered before the Gentiles and were smitten.
        15 And I beheld the Spirit of the Lord, that it was upon the Gentiles, and they did prosper and obtain the land for their inheritance; and I beheld that they were white, and exceedingly fair and beautiful, like unto my people before they were slain.

        These verses are very clear. The Lamanites are black and the Nephites and Europeans are white.

        Then we have the account of righteous Lamanites having their skin turned white.

        3 Nephi 2

        14 And it came to pass that those Lamanites who had united with the Nephites were numbered among the Nephites;
        15 And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites;
        16 And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites.

        It’s open and shut. The Lamanites were cursed with black (or dark) skin while the Nephites remained white.

        Now the black skin was not the only part of the curse, but it was a main part of it. It was the means by which God prevented intermarriage between the Nephites and Lamanites.

        So while at some point the Lamanites ran around in loin clothes and put a red mark on their foreheads, this was not the curse of black skin spoken of. This was part of the curse of being cut off from God and being left to idleness and filthiness.

        Therefore in suggesting that the Lamanites did not have their skin literally darkened you are indeed ignoring or twisting the scriptures.

        Will you admit your error?

        As to your other comment.

        I’m more than happy to be honest about my perspective about blacks and the priesthood.

        I don’t believe that “only white people can hold the priesthood.”

        I believe that while the priesthood is specifically for the chosen seed of Abraham, that all races of the earth may hold the priesthood, except for the black Canaanites who are descendants of Cain.

        That the black Canaanite descendants of Cain are under a curse and have no right to the priesthood is clear from Moses 7 and Abraham 1. Zechariah 14 makes it clear that they shouldn’t be in the Lord’s house either, as they will be removed prior to the millennium.

        All other races of people may have the priesthood. This of course includes the Lamanites and their descendants today, even though they have darker skin. Samuel the Lamanite no doubt had the priesthood as did other righteous Lamanites who converted. Zelph the white Lamanite prophet surely had the priesthood, too.


  2. God speaks in tongues. Angels speak in symbols. Some call it the green language. Taking things literally is usually some form of error. God is more complicated than that.

    It is about ignorance and false doctrine mainly. The salvation is that despite the Mormon church being fallen and in disgrace, their teachings are still marginally useful due to being tinged by the grace of angels who make the words of thou blacketh demons even useful. Lamanites indeed. And what is a lazy man but someone who hordes money so it goes to waste while the world rota and innocent young women must prostitute themselves in media because you donate to a black hole instead of worthy causes, more concerned about your pride than fixing the world.


    • And remember, darling – the birds chirp for me outside the LDS church building, and the babies cry. I am God-sent, and Ordained personally. There is no criticism, of anything I utter. And I have nothing to learn from you, only grace to give freely. I will not answer your doubting, snide comments which always follow. I am beyond that grace, now.


      • Since you want to pretend I’m the bad guy and you just want truth, I offered you all truth and you scoffed at it. The reason you can’t have more is you don’t want more – cuz you are weak, old, unworthy, and a betrayed, disingenuous, cold-hearted, affronting, and disrespectful. An Angel only talked to you out of grace, and you spat in its face with typical forlorn human pompous hubris. Thus, spare me your words about how you ‘don’t understand’ because you hate the truth. God sees you and when you seek to destroy the truth, you will be destroyed.


  3. Finally you will claim I ‘dont have the spirit’. I have no tolerance for insulting infidels, and you have no idea what an Angel’s Spirit is. Dealing with you asinine disrespectful little whelps who respond not to kindness causes God’s fury, you will not blame Him, fool. And a fool is merely what you are.


  4. Note that the virus was predicted by my Voice in January. Coron/et was listed then, which alludes both to the Corona virus as well as the trumpets of God.

    You are now Charged to bring daily study of Zelav to the appropriate authorities of men. You and one other. It is your Responsibility. Until the Word of God is known, expect your people to suffer.


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