“Lamanite” issues do not only effect so called “Lamanites”, they effect all members of the church. If any member of the church values both youth and honesty the lies must stop.
I am constantly telling people that ALL Mormons are hurt by the “Lamanite” narrative. I am learning however that while I am great at stating my opinion, I am not always great at stating the “why” behind my views.
The majority of people teaching converts are very young adults (18 to 20 yr olds). The mission is often their first time away from home. They go out and teach people of Native American heritage, Pacific Island heritage, and South American heritage that their real heritage is actually “Lamanite”. That the real story of their people is the Book of Mormon, that it is a factual history. At the time these young missionaries have no way of knowing that they are teaching lies, that they themselves had been taught lies. This to me is what is highly unacceptable.
I have spoken with many people who served missions, who express great regret at having taught these things. I could only imagine the frustration and shame as they spoke of not only being lied to, but having lied to families that they served and loved. Very few know how to give voice to this pain. They are helpless in this situation, and they are victims themselves.
They are those who have been taught to serve with faith. They are those who give up two years of their lives to make their families proud. They are those who only desire to bring truth to others. How terrible it is to find out what they actually brought was the opposite of truth. They have been taught that the prophet speaks to God and won’t lead them astray. They have been taught from childhood to hold honesty as one of the most important characteristics they should strive for. Before these young adults serve a mission, they must go through the temple for the first time. Before they enter the temple, they first must have promised to have been and continue to be honest in all their dealings.
This must stop. If the church isn’t afraid of making very public their opinions and stance on other issues, they have the ability to make very public the fact that the church no longer views those called “Lamanites” as literal descendants.
Current “Lamanites” are labeled as such as a cultural identification. The church has quietly admitted they no longer know who the “Lamanites” are. (I will add a reference at the end for further explanation of this.) They quietly admitted that the Native peoples of North America, South America, and the Pacific Islands have many backgrounds that have absolutely nothing to do with the Book of Mormon. Let me make this clear, the Book of Mormon has nothing to do with the factual history of the people being labeled as “Lamanite”.
Missionaries need to be actively taught these facts in the MTC. It needs to be part of their training. There are so many good and brave people in the Mormon church. I can only ask that they honor themselves and the youth they serve.
To those of you who served a mission and taught these things, I do not understand the pain this issue causes you. Honestly, I am at a loss of words for it all. I just want you to know I see you. We cannot change the past, but we can fight for a better future.
No matter what your background, gender, ethnicity, nationality, or orientation, we are one.
Humankind has not woven the web of life, we are but one thread within it.
Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
All things are bound together. All things connect.
Chief Seattle, 1854