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RedSox

Church History in Church Materials

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I undertand and appreciate "milk before meat." However, prior to baptizing a man who was African-American, I felt compelled to inform him of the church's racist past and the policy that flowed from it. He appreciated, understood, and is still an active member.

When I told him, did I know that there was a chance that he wouldn't want to be baptized? Certainly.

If I hadn't told him, and he found out later, would he feel deceived and betrayed? Probably.

Is it best to be honest (meaning telling the whole truth?) Indubitably.

Good job.

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Dadof7: None of it is hidden. There is not a single topic that you have mentioned that cannot be found discussed in official Church publications. I've often heard anti-mormons tell me that their best source of information if not their exclusive source is LDS Church publications.

Since the world wide web is such a key source of information - good and bad - where on the lds.org site would someone find good information about polygamy? I searched but found not.

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I think I first realized that his was a problem after having read The Work and the Glory, oddly enough. Although the plot was somewhat interesting, I really enjoyed the endnotes that Lund provided. I had never known about JS's early polygamy, the Nauvoo Expositor, etc., and such issues bothered me. But, I realized just how ignorant some saints are when the issue of polygamy was brought up in my Civics class my Sr. year. A fellow LDS student, after we discussed a case regarding freedom of religion that involved an LDS polygamist, proclaimed, "That wasn't MY church. It was the REORGANIZED church!" HA! I tried to explain her error, but she had nothing of it. HER FATHER even took the time to write a note to the teacher and the class reiterating what his daughter had said, to which the teacher wisely resonded, "just go ask your bishop." (and this isn't in Utah).

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IlAut, Were you ever chastised by the Church leadership for giving your friend that information? (My guess is no). You were a representative of this Church as surely as a Catholic priest is a representative of his parish... and yet you shared this information. I would have too, in fact my friends shared it with me before my baptism in 1987. Your story reinforces my feeling that we don't consciously hide things as a Church body and membership.

Gervin,

OUr missionary site: 3 clicks- www.mormon.org - FAQ's - Social Issues - Polygamy.

In this dispensation, the Lord commanded some of the early Saints to practice plural marriage. The Prophet Joseph Smith and those closest to him, including Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball, were challenged by this command, but they obeyed it. Church leaders regulated the practice. Those entering into it had to be authorized to do so, and the marriages had to be performed through the sealing power of the priesthood. In 1890, President Wilford Woodruff received a revelation that the leaders of the Church should cease teaching the practice of plural marriage (Official Declaration 1).

and others: Social Issues

On LDS.org you need to go to Church publications and look up terms that the Church uses for Polygamy. The Manifesto brings up some citations. Plural Marriage brings up others... Of course the D&C contains all of the revelations in section 132 in full.

...IlAut, Sometimes we cannot help but have the ignorant among us. Every Ward has one or two. :P

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Or one or two hundred.....

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Or one or two hundred.....

Ouch. (I hope that was sarcasm. I've heard of the wards from hell, but I've not experienced that much wide spread ignorace about polygamy or the priesthood ban in any given congregation. In fact my black brethren in the High Priests quorum where I live routinely lecture us to get over it and move on when we bring the topic up.)

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Sorry, it was sort of sarcastic, but sadly representative of every ward I've lived in (and I've lived in many in various states and regions).

In fact, I can say in honesty that according to my experience, your situation seems to be the exception to the rule.

BUT, we all see things in our own way...

thanks for the info on the black members of your ward. "getting over it" requires knowledge of it, however.

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Wow... In five states and a dozen wards I've never been in a place where these things weren't discussed from time to time (Including BYU wards). Of course I brought it up myself a couple of times :P . I hope you took oppotunities to gently teach and dispell the ignorance when the occasion arose.

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I have learned through sad experience that it is fruitless to bring it up.

No one wants to hear that JS was sometime arrogant, often wrong, but just as often inspired.

For me, this inspires me. It tells me, "hey I've got a chance, in spite of my weakness."

To others it seems to undermine the basis of their testimonies...Joseph Smith's supposed "near flawlessness." Which, in my opinion, is a sandy foundation, because it is lacking the concreteness of TRUTH.

This is a pet peeve of mine (obviously).

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It may depend on how you bring it up. No one really likes to have their assumptions challenged (and I can tell you fall into that category too :P ) but when I bring up the foibles of the Old Testament prophets, Joseph and Brother Brigham with fact, humor and understanding, I find many people respond very well to learning new things about them.

You sound like a lot of guys (gals) I knew in college. On a mission to fix the culture of the ward or Church in general. Believe it or not there are many, many people who agree with you. You will find many of them here on the fairboards. They are also real people who attend real chapels and teach the same things there that they do here. They are even (gasp) BYU professors! IN my experience college wards tend to be more polarized between the zealots and the Gadflys than normal community wards. It's a town gown thing.

I agree whole heartedly that knowing the Prophets are not inerrant gives me hope that a scoundrel like me can be favored of God and receive grace too.

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Sorry, but only those totally ignorant of the Doctrine and Covenants can think the Church teaches that Joseph Smith was perfect. He was often chastised by the Lord.

We are constantly being exhorted to study and learn. We will be held accountable for our own ignorance.

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Both polygamy and the 1978 revelation on priesthood (which necessarily entails mention of the pre-1978 priesthood ordination ban) are discussed in Church materials -- e.g., in My Kingdom Shall Roll Forth and in Our Heritage each of which has been used at least twice in the Gospel Doctrine teaching cycle (i.e., for a total of at least four occurrences in the Gospel Doctrine teaching cycle during recent years). Both are also discussed in Church HIstory in the Fulness of Times, the textbook used in the Church's college-level religion courses on all three BYU campuses and throughout the Institute system.

Mr. Peterson, Our Heritage, has not been used, to my knowledge since 1998. I've taught both Gospel Doctrine and Priesthood, and I've never used either, though I can't speak for My Kingdom Shall Roll Forth.

1998 isn't precisely ancient history. And 2005 even less so. The Gospel Doctrine manual that I taught from last year, when the topic was "The Doctrine and Covenants and Church History," included Our Heritage in the reading assignments for the class. Perhaps your ward used a different Gospel Doctrine manual?

Our Heritage replaced My Kingdom Shall Roll Forth, so it isn't surprising, if you've only been teaching very recently, that you would not have used the latter. Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of Saints now living have used it (or, at least, have been asked to do so).

And while the institute manyual may include such admissions, I think you can tell the effectiveness of their inclusion by asking institute students the question, "Was Joseph Smith a polygamist?"  Or, "Why were black men prohibited from holding the priesthood?"

I'm addressing the question of whether the Church has suppressed mention of plural marriage and the priesthood ban. The failure of Church members to read what the Church produces (including the scriptures) is another question altogether.

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The failure of Church members to read what the Church produces (including the scriptures) is another question altogether.

I think that's a valid point.

To be honest, I was never a church historian. Nor even had that much interest in it. Between going to church, teaching the young men, going to the temple, doing service projects, going to church meetings - on top of working, providing for my family, spending time with the family, etc. - I was never concerned with what went on back in the 1800's. I figured I had a 'testimony', fulfilled my callings, took care of my family - that's all that mattered - I was on the path to the CK. There was no need - or time - to delve into church history.

So, when I read the newsweek article last October (IIRC) and read that JS married teenage girls, that got the ball rolling for me to delve into church history. Something didn't seem right.

So yes, that information was there all along - if I cared about it enough to spend the time to research it. But I never did. Once I did, is when I 'lost my testimony'.

Do I think the church hides it's history - no, not really. Do I think the church emphasizes the faith promoting parts of its history over the non-faith promoting? Yes - but that's to be expected for any religion, group, etc.

The problem is, is when normal LDS people go about their lives with their testimony, not paying attention to non-faith promoting items, then suddenly discover something disturbing about LDS history (whether due to their own ignorance or the church hiding it), then questioning the very foundation of their 'testimony' seems only natural to me.

Blaming the church for ignorance is not an excuse. No longer believing in the church because you find certain aspects of its history disturbing is an excuse.

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Charity, so the problem is all on the members, and not on the Church's reluctance to be open, forthright, and honest? It seems that being open, forthright, and honest is the antidote to the members' reluctance to understand its past.

Daniel,

How many GD teachers quote it? Our Heritage was NEVER used in the GD class that i attended, but admiteddly, I am as bad as the people I am using as examples: I don't read all of the material.

You make a good point, but I still don't think the church and its members are forthright, as a general rule.

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You can drag a kid to seminary, but you can't make him think. :P

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You can drag a kid to seminary, but you can't make him think. :P

True.dat

Getting anything through the heads of my seminary class (they always looked on me as the "expert") was like splitting hemlock knots with corn bread for a wedge and a pumpkin for a hammer, if you catch my meaning.

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I am personally against adding a fourth hour to church to have a history class. I think Sacrament, Gospel Doctrine, and Priesthood is plenty. If I want to learn the history of the church, I would prefer to learn it outside of the median that is designed to teach me the gospel, and bring me closer to Christ.

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We had a 70 at a recent Stake Conference, test the microphone before priesthood session by tapping on it and saying "todays lesson is on blood atonement." Those of us who were milling around waiting for the session to start had a good laugh. It seemed to me as though more than a few of us had a bit of Church History under our belts.

I don't see how places like FAIR can get written about in the Church news, and mormon.org has a whole page of links to controversy, and we are still supposed to somehow be more up front with our history? I'm not sure in the face of the evidence that some peoples' gut feeling that they could have been exposed to more carries much weight.

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Seuss,

What if studying the history does so? And yes, that is partially what I'm advocating.

I'm not advocating a fourth hour, but I am advocating a general forthrightness on issues that may be damning to a person's testimony when they've learned of the issue subsequent to conversion. And this DOES happen to "good members of the church."

I am advocating that a person should be alerted of certain issues, and then let their faith or lack thereof determine their decision. A lot of RFMers (although not the most objective of folk), perhaps would not have experienced the level of BETRAYAL if their parents, leaders, and the hierarchy of the Church took time to be forthright and honest.

If it doesn't occur prior to conversion, they should be addressed, and doggonit understood by leaders, throughout a person's experience within the church.

Otherwise, it appears to be a "coverup" and that isn't right. The fact that you can find a reference in a hardly-used text is hardly being forthright.

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I'll check out mormon.org

Thanks.

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Forthrightness I can go for. Don't get me wrong ILAut. I just think someone lacking the fullness of Church history isn't so much a victim of the Church's efforts to suppress it as much as their family, and perhaps local teachers neglect in getting them available information. I can tell you my chidlren won't have the excuse that they never heard of something, and ultimately I'm responsible for them knowing - not their Sunday School teacher or LDS.org, and not even the Prophet). (Of course there was the time we had to explain to our kindergartner after he witnessed his siblings birth, that not everyone's mommy and daddy were ready for them to hear about natural chidlbirth :P )

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Openness and honesty in any organization is always so great, don't you think?

I have been concerned for some time now about hearing members talk about how distressed they found themselves being when they discover parts of the Church's past they had not known about. Had this information come in the supportive atmosphere of the Church, I doubt their reaction would have been the same.

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Seuss,

What if studying the history does so? And yes, that is partially what I'm advocating.

I'm not advocating a fourth hour, but I am advocating a general forthrightness on issues that may be damning to a person's testimony when they've learned of the issue subsequent to conversion. And this DOES happen to "good members of the church."

I am advocating that a person should be alerted of certain issues, and then let their faith or lack thereof determine their decision. A lot of RFMers (although not the most objective of folk), perhaps would not have experienced the level of BETRAYAL if their parents, leaders, and the hierarchy of the Church took time to be forthright and honest.

If it doesn't occur prior to conversion, they should be addressed, and doggonit understood by leaders, throughout a person's experience within the church.

Otherwise, it appears to be a "coverup" and that isn't right. The fact that you can find a reference in a hardly-used text is hardly being forthright.

I just don

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Openness and honesty in any organization is always so great, don't you think?

I have been concerned for some time now about hearing members talk about how distressed they found themselves being when they discover parts of the Church's past they had not known about. Had this information come in the supportive atmosphere of the Church, I doubt their reaction would have been the same.

We are the Church and the Church is us. Any failure on the part of the Church to teach correct principles and expose members to information that is pertenant to them is first and foremost with the parents and home teachers, and secondarily with the ward and teachers. The availability of these historical facts and debates shows that the organization as a whole and it's leadership haven't done a very good job of hiding or suppressing it.

As Steuss' illustration shows, not all things that our critics cry should be included in our teachings are worthy of teaching. I'm sure more than one fallen Saint was exposed to a few truths that simply weren't true, and now claims that it was gospel truth that was hidden from them that casued them to see the light. There are a great number of critics who wouldn't be satisfied we were teaching the truth until we showed Brigham with gun in hand killing missiouri emmigrants himself in our Sunday school manuals.

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From the Pickle jar: As I understand the original question, he's referencing converts, not members. My answer to the original question is "No." No, converts are not intentionally deceived. The most important thing a missionary can tell a potential convert is his/her testimony.

LDS missionaries teach about God Our Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. The message is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The testimony given is of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that He died for us, that He loves us, that He lives for us now. That we can live with him again.

There is no deception in that message, no cover-up, no conflicting agendas. That message doesn't change. Sometimes men have made mistakes in the past; sometimes we still make mistakes today. That doesn't change the message of the missionaries: that God lives, that God loves us, that being a member of the LDS church can help mankind live lives sufficient to return to live with God again after we die.

Everything else is just administrative code, the history of God's interaction with some of his children, accounts of what has happened and why, and speculation by good men about some of the mysteries of God.

So, no, I think it's unnecessary to try to teach lessons in church history to potential converts. That is for later, after the basics are learned. If a potential convert asks a missionary questions about church history, church administration, member responsibilities, etc., the missionary should answer or refer to higher authority if they don't have the answer, but what's necessary is to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. If a missionary does not answer or cannot answer, such action should not be construed to be covering up or misdirection or ducking the question. The missionary's task is the teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Other questions should be directed to the appropriate authority.

People may disagree as to what constitutes the gospel of Jesus Christ, but that's another thread.

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