The theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints “commonly known as the Mormons”took a serious hit today in an article of the Los Angeles Times. The whole premise of the Book of Mormon was proved impossible by DNA testing.
The teachings and tradition of the Book of Mormon have been totally upended by the DNA results. The study was not conducted to prove or disprove the teaching of the LDS church but to track via genetic markers the waves of migration from Asia to both the Pacific Islands and the Americas.
For Mormons, the lack of discernible Hebrew blood in Native Americans is no minor collision between faith and science. It burrows into the historical foundations of the Book of Mormon, a 175-year-old transcription that the church regards as literal and without error.
The Book of Mormon is one of three books regarded as divinely inspired scripture that supersedes the Bible. Their belief is that the Bible is “correct in so far as it is translated correctly.” These are weasel words that mean if any of the other three books conflict with the Bible then the Bible is wrong.
Anyway, the Book of Mormon is the story of the migration of a righteous man and his family to South America. These travelers split into two groups, the righteous white settlers and the evil dark skinned people that were the forefathers to the Indians of North and South America. Towards the end of the Book, the evil dark skinned men kill the righteous white skinned people.
The God-fearing Nephites were “pure” (the word was officially changed from “white” in 1981) and “delightsome.” The idol-worshiping Lamanites received the “curse of blackness,” turning their skin dark.
According to the Book of Mormon, by 385 AD the dark-skinned Lamanites had wiped out other Hebrews. The Mormon church called the victors “the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” If the Lamanites returned to the church, their skin could once again become white.
Up until Jimmy Carter was President of the United States, blacks (among others) were not allowed to be full members in good standing in the LDS church. In the midst of Carter’s Campaign on Human Rights, the LDS leadership got a word from God that elevated blacks into full membership.
Over the years, church prophets believed by Mormons to receive revelations from God and missionaries have used the supposed ancestral link between the ancient Hebrews and Native Americans and later Polynesians as a prime conversion tool in Central and South America and the South Pacific.
Critics want the church to admit its mistake and apologize to millions of Native Americans it converted. Church leaders have shown no inclination to do so. Indeed, they have dismissed as heresy any suggestion that Native American genetics undermine the Mormon creed.
Yet at the same time, the church has subtly promoted a fresh interpretation of the Book of Mormon intended to reconcile the DNA findings with the scriptures. This analysis is radically at odds with long-standing Mormon teachings.
Rewriting theology is nothing new to the folks in Salt Lake City but reversing 175 years of teaching is a tall order even for them. On the other hand, where would their followers go? Sadly most probably won’t care that another part of their theological system has been exposed as fraudulent.