Come Follow Me 2020
The new lesson manual states:
“The Book of Mormon also states that a mark of dark skin came upon the Lamanites after the Nephites separated from them. The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully understood. The mark initially distinguished the Lamanite from the Nephites. Later, as both the Nephites and Lamanties each went through periods of wickedness and righteousness, the mark became irrelevant as an indicator of the Lamanites’ standing before God.
Prophets affirm in our day that the dark skin is not a sign of divine disfavor or cursing. The Church embraces Nephi’s teaching that the Lord “denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female”. President Russell M. Nelson declared: “The Lord has stressed His essential doctrine of equal opportunity for His children. Differences in culture, language, gender, race, and nationality fade into insignificance as the faithful enter the covenant path and come unto our beloved Redeemer.”
This is at least a good direction to be going in, however it falls short on many issues.
They do not disavow theories towards the “dark skin” of the Lamanites (American Indians). Those teachings are still in place. All this says it that the mark of dark skin is suddenly “not fully understood” and “the mark became irrelevant.” Basically, the mark has become irrelevant in the year 2020, but was not irrelevant in the Book of Mormon or during the first 189 years of the church. Please compare this to animal sacrifice in the Old Testament, which was correct in its time, but in the New Testament becomes irrelevant. My ancestors were cursed and darkened, I inherited their dark skin, but it is no longer relevant in 2020. Should I feel less stigmatized? Oh good, it isn’t relevant that my heritage is of evil ancestry and my skin is a sign of those evil ancestors, no longer relevant… Please also note the Christopher Columbus teachings also in the 2020 Come Follow Me Manual. Manifest destiny is alive and well and still being taught to Indigenous people as truly part of God’s plan.
The “nature and appearance of this mark” has been 100% understood since the founding of the church. It is in the current teachers seminary lesson manual in 2019 as being 100% understood. It is in all past manuals, including those which had been made specifically for Native American children in the Indian Placement Program, as being 100% fully understood.
It is in all past Native American missionary work, handouts, pamphlets, and manuals, as being 100% understood. American Indian ancestors turned away from God, who cursed them by completely withdrawing His spirit from them, and turned their skin dark as a sign so that the righteous white skinned people would not intermarry with the bad brown skin people. American Indians need redemption, the Mormon church is the only one who can provide it for them in order to lift the curse.
Saying it is “not fully understood” is offensive and denies a long history of teaching it as 100% understood. It dismisses those who had to live with the racism due to their brown indigenous skin, and cultural heritage. It denies the experience of those who STILL live with that racism as faithful believers. It denies the lived experience of the children raised with those teachings. heritage. It denies the experience of those who ‘still’ live with that racism as faithful believers. It denies the lived experience of the children raised with those teachings. It is insulting to deny the internalized feelings about my own American Indian body from the time I was in primary and throughout the young women program. It denies the very real ancestral appropriation American Indians experience. Church leaders cannot truthfully claim that it is not fully understood when it has been taught as fully understood since the founding of the church in 1830. They cannot claim that after 189 years of being ‘fully understood’, that it can suddenly be swept under the rug and ignored in the 190th year.
Why does the lesson manual states that ‘the mark’ and ‘the curse’ has suddenly become irrelevant? It wasn’t irrelevant in the 1960’s when my mom joined the church. She was taught her heritage of dark skin was a result of her ancestors turning away from the gospel and becoming wicked. It was not irrelevant when she was taught to believe her skin was lightening as a sign of embracing the gospel. It was not irrelevant when we were taught we would be resurrected ‘white’ because we embraced the gospel. It is not irrelevant that she STILL believes those things. It was not irrelevant when I sat in primary and had teachers refer to me as Lamanite. It was not irrelevant when I would be asked “what are you?” by parents of those I dated and was then referred to as Lamanite. It was not irrelevant when I worried about having children someday and how their ancestry might affect their lives. It was not irrelevant every time I experienced racism at church. It was not irrelevant in 2018 when a missionary taught me about the skin of my ancestors being darkened and added, “Not all the people of the world, we only know of the Lamanites. We need to recognize that this was one situation, under these circumstances 2000 years ago. It is not saying all black people are wicked or cursed at all.”
Not all people, just my people… ‘irrelevant’.
It is not irrelevant today that American Indians and Indigenous people are still being told that they are Lamanite and the Book of Mormon is a history of their ancestors by missionaries, church leadership, lesson manuals, talks, and other publications.
The skin of my ancestors is still being presented as darkened by God as the sign of a curse. It has not been disavowed from past teachings; it has only suddenly ‘irrelevant’ in 2020. The teachings stand as they always have.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has not disavowed racist teachings about American Indians or their ancestors. They are still taught that the Book of Mormon is a factual history of their people. The Book of Mormon still says “American Indians” in it’s introduction, ancestral appropriation and racism canonized. By trying to sweep this under the rug with the word “irrelevant” is an act of racism. It is only irrelevant to those who don’t have to accept and live with the racism and ancestral appropriation. This is the white privilege of the leadership of the church. This manual is like a smack in the face from the prophet himself.
If the church wants to change a harmful teaching – that change must be as loud as the harmful teaching originally was. I do not envy current leadership. The past mistakes of many have been laid at their feet. I believe that the current leadership does not fully grasp the size of this issue and can do so much better than this. Do they understand this manual does not stand against racism, but in effect – excuses it?
To correct this enormous problem and do this correctly the following must be done:
- Officially state that Native Americans/ American Indians are not Lamanites – that Indigenous people in the Americas and Pacific Islands are not, and never were, Lamanites. That in fact, the church does not know who the Lamanites are.
- Remove “American Indian” from the introduction of the Book of Mormon. Ancestral appropriation was and is wrong.
- That darkened skin theology about our ancestors should not have been attributed to any real living group of people. This should be said publicly and officially. That American Indian and Indigenous ancestors skins were not darkened as a sign of a curse.
- All “dark skin” curses and signs of curses must be removed from canonized material. Until those things are done, it is still relevant.
Lastly, this from Nelson’s statement, “Differences in culture… fade into insignificance as the faithful enter the covenant path and come unto our beloved Redeemer.” It merely fades into insignificance for those whose cultural identity has not been stolen under the guise of giving up the false traditions of their fathers. Church leaders asked that of every child who entered the Indian Placement Program. Many of the children were instructed to avoid participation in their cultural traditions during the summers when they returned to their families, or risk being cut from this ‘educational program’. Beautiful, long hair was cut short and spiritual traditions classed as incorrect. Baptism was administered without one single lesson from missionaries. Children were then taught that the Book of Mormon was their history and that they were in fact – Lamanite. Specific lesson manuals were made for Indigenous children – yet, it’s all irrelevant in 2020 – forgotten – swept under the rug. Those children are adults now, they still live – they remember.
What is swept under the rug is still under the rug. The pile is now so huge that the rug cannot lay flat, but has large rolls and bumps which lift the edges as ugly beliefs slide out. The past leaders of the church created this issue – “products of their time”. Will the current leadership correct it?
Repentance requires restitution.
So, what if all of that stuff with which you take exception is true? Are you going to hate God for doing things which, to me, seemed reasonable under the circumstances described? He obviously didn’t do it because He was a racist. His purposes seem just, to me.
I truly love the Lamanite People that I have known, including my wife and children. I love their skin color, and I grew up in a ‘west coast’ culture, where having a darker skin is something to be admired and sought after. The popularity of tanning booths among the ‘white people’ has given evidence of the increased desirability of that characteristic throughout their society.
I believe the Lamanite people are exactly who they have been identified as being, despite the alleged DNA evidence to the contrary, and I know that much evidence supporting their identity is currently being withheld for nefarious purposes.
I would ask the same question, what if all that stuff you believe is not true?
I appreciate your love for your wife, children, and Indigenous people. I agree with the love towards them. I am not sure tanning booths is the best example, not an argument I would have made. Darker skin was always beautiful, even if colonizers tried to demonize it. Native American skin tones have always existed, they existed many of thousands of years before the Book of Mormon timeline. But I do understand you are trying to convey support for Indigenous people, and our various skin tones.
I’m curious, what is this evidence supporting “Lamanite” identity that is being withheld for nefarious reasons? Is there something I am not aware of? The church itself employed people to research DNA. They too came to the same conclusion. The church also employed archeologists that arrived at the same conclusion. That is why the DNA Essay published by the church admits other people lived on this continent.
I imagine this post was hard to read. My stance being more outspoken in recent months… I just want to say thank you for taking the time to read a different view. It’s ok if we don’t see it the same way. Thank you.
God did not “curse” anyone with darker skin. That is just a lie. Saying you “love” your friends with darker skin while posting racist apologist posts is so sickening.
If this church is true, the leaders will admit that this is racism and repent.
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Patricalan, it has taken me a while to find a response which might help explain why the tanning booth was not something that should be used as proof of brown “desirability”. I actually had to get some help because I was struggling with how to word things.
My friend wrote the following in a way that was much better than how I tried to word it:
“It’s like someone saying “I’m not racist, I think black people have beautiful skin.” The person is centering race on only skin color and appearance and completely disregarding the entire history or culture of that race. It’s ignorance embodied, which includes unexamined, “benevolent” racism.”
I hope that makes sense. I’ve also found a few sources that teach about incorrect ways used in attempts to prove something or someone is not racist. Let me know if you would like links to those articles.
We are all human beings and are all equal. Nobody should be denied equal standing because of their ancestry. Groups that exclude others based on their DNA are hateful and racist.
Agreed. Native American ancestral appropriation and dark skin racism – generational trauma is real. As a member I didn’t even realize that what I had internalized or believed about myself and my people was racist. Most members are likely the same. Good people who don’t realize the racism. Time to work on that, and talking about it is where it starts.
I’d like to join a Native American tribe but they won’t let me because of my DNA. Does that make them racist?
Are you saying DNA is accurate?
I keep coming back to your comments. I’ve read them repeatedly, and am still insure of the point you are trying to make. Would you be willing to elaborate?
Are you a member of a Native American tribe?
Yes. It is in the “About Me” info.
Are you in favor of excluding people from your tribe if they don’t meet specific genetic/DNA/blood requirements?
My post is not about the forced relocation of Indigenous people by the government. Nor is it about the forced tribal requirements which were used to control Native Americans, part of controlling land and resources. In addition, many tribes were refused by the government when they requested to be recognized. Unrecognized… entire tribes native to this land, that do not have the any Indigenous rights or claims. Invisible and ignored. The vast majority of Native Americans do not live on a reservation. Understand that those tribal requirements were not created by Indigenous people, but by a colonial government. Blood quantum is also something that the colonial government initiated to limit Native American civil rights. I would caution you against using colonization to make an argument or point about or against racism. If you are interested I could find some sources for you that would help inform you of that history.
Totally open to discussing the post, or how the church has stated officially that Indigenous people were already here before the Book of Mormon timeline. Or about how it should not be taught as the history of Native Americans. I understand not everyone will see it my way, and that it totally ok. I’m open to discussion and to hearing your point of view in regards to the post.
So you oppose restrictions on tribal membership because it is racist, but you are saying the government is forcing you to use those racist rules? We should certainly change that. Native tribes are notoriously non-diverse. Wouldn’t racial diversity make the tribes stronger?
You keep coming back to arguments that have nothing to do with the post. It is obvious you are trying to create arguments around issues you do not fully understand, though I admit maybe you do and we have a different view of it. I have not written or included my personal reaction to tribal membership, though I do have opinions on it, this is not the right forum for those discussions. My reaction to what you wrote is more, using an act of colonization as an example of Natives being racist is not a great argument, nor understanding of the trauma of colonization, genocide, and forced removal. I’ve offered to send you sources and websites that deal with Indigenous history. The offer stands. I do realize you may know the history, so possibly just a difficult topic to discuss through typing or we have different views.
This website is about religious beliefs involving American Indian identity and specifically Lamanite teachings. I’m still open to discussing those and am totally ok if our views differ. I know with typing so much is lost in translation, but I truly am open to hearing other views. Let me know if you want to discuss “Lamanites”.
You should write about your thoughts on tribal membership. Is a Japanese man allowed to join your tribe as a full member and participate fully in the tribal culture as an equal? If not, why not? What is preventing that from happening today? Wouldn’t you like to see that happen?
For you to continue in this line of thinking I feel like there is a point you are trying to make that I’m not grasping. I truly am trying to understand how this applies to Lamanite identity.
What does tribal membership and colonization have to do with teaching that all people in North American, South America, and the Pacific Islands are literal descendants of Lamanites? What does tribal identity have to do with dark skin being a sign of a curse?
Wait, I think I get your point and I like it. Give me a min and I’ll write again.
Sorry that took a while. Kids, dinner, life…
I believe you are saying something that makes a lot of sense, and actually is very relevant. Hopefully I’m not misunderstanding still, because I think it is also faith building possibly and a good balance in a different direction from what I am saying in my writing.
Is it about the freedom to join the church and practice religion as an equal in regards to ethnicity? I think we would both have a lot of positive things to say here. Would love to talk about this more. Or am I still not getting it?
Separate from my question I will answer yours about participating in tribal culture. Working on my response, intense subject, but in the meantime wanted to send you the above.
Response to participating in tribal culture. After writing and rewriting, I feel strongly still that this is not the forum for it. It is not relevant to Lamanite identity or racism within Mormonism. Still happy to send you info or website that teach about those issues.
“Would it be racist to teach the following? Native Americans were once white skinned. About 2,500 years ago, A group of them became a wicked people. God caused their skins to turn dark so that righteous white people wouldn’t want to marry them.”
A few years ago, I asked that question on a survey. A few hundred responded. The results were informative. 75% said it was racist to teach this. 25% said it was not. The 75% were mostly non-Mormon or former Mormon. The 25% were composed of Believing Church members.
This teaching is obviously racist to EVERYONE outside the LDS Church. It is racist on its face.
A few years ago the Church published the essay Race and the Priesthood. It discussed the past “theories” (doctrines) about why black people were black. It disavowed all those past teachings. The essay ends with these words, “We condemn all racism, past, present and future.” Well, that’s a lie. They only condemn racist teachings about African American skin color. They have left the racist teachings about Native American skin tone completely intact….in the Book of Mormon.
Can you imagine the backlash if the BOM said that God gave people a black skin so that white people wouldn’t intermarry with black people? Yeah…obviously racist. Yet, regarding Native Americans, this teaching is a core doctrine in the pages of the Mormons’ most sacred text.
Thank you so much. It means a lot when people see the simplicity of the issue for what it is. It was really clear in the second conversation I had with missionaries last year, not sure if you read that post. The missionary said, “we only know about the Lamanites…”. Not all dark people are cursed. It is on the archives page.
The not mixing or intermarrying, that impacted me and other Indigenous people I know in real life. Here are just a few examples:
I was told my children would carry the curse once. That didn’t stop hurting until after I left the church, and even then it took a while.
Another time when I was a faithful TBM young woman I had a guy’s parents demand he stop seeing me. At dinner when he brought me home to meet them they asked me, “What are you?” When I answered “Native American” they said, “Oh, Lamanite.” The following day was when he broke up with me. He was embarrassed and sad, but we hadn’t been dating long.
Someone close to me got engaged and was not allowed in the house when the father found out he was “Lamanite”.
I think many people do not realize the impact or experiences resulting from core beliefs. Plus not all members process the racist teachings as deeply. I do not believe those experiences I shared represent all the members. I do however think it obviously represents those core beliefs. Even if not all members are racist, and most are in actuality very kind, the reality is that every Native American member experiences racism in the church through the teachings. Beliefs that were attached to real living groups with beautiful skin color, heritage, ancestry, and culture.
Thanks for sharing the survey. The results are not surprising, but still interesting and very telling. Would love to see a nation wide survey done on that.
Hi Sarah. I see that my comment above registered as ‘anonymous.’ This is your friend Sam Young. I don’t subscribe to anonymity.
Awe, thanks Sam! ☺️
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AMEN to you sister. Than you for all your hard work in doing your blog.
I am so happy I’m not a Mormon anymore! Yay!!
Have you left the church yet? If not, you likely should. I sure hope you aren’t teaching this to the children or youth. To many people with one foot in and one foot out. If you are having such an issue with your testimony, maybe work to repair it or decide what you want to do. Don’t try and get the church to appeal to your beliefs. It’s the Church of Jesus Christ, not the church of “lamanitetruth.com.”
I know that is harsh. But honesty your site is full of so much propaganda against the Book of Mormon, it seems fair to be blunt with you.
For any people reading comments, this individual believes that Lamanites are real and it is ok to replace the true ancestry of Indigenous peoples with racist mythology. This is why it is important to speak out on this issue. Indigenous people should not have to explain the harm of doctrine of discovery or why the Lamanite myth is harmful, yet here we are. Christopher Columbus was not guided by God, nor was he guided to the “Lamanite” descendants. The Taino people who greeted Columbus have their own unique history and their ancestors were not evil, nor were their spiritual traditions “incorrect.”
I hope this member does not teach Indigenous children (or any children) this harmful theology.