Monthly Archives: February 2012

Dispelling the Myth of the “Curse of Cain”

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In connection with Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith, the priesthood ban is getting a lot of attention from the media again.

The most recent turn comes from The Washington Post, where reporter Jason Horowitz interviews Darius Gray and other black Latter-day Saints about their experience with and feelings about the ban. Searching for a theological explanation for the ban, Horowitz contacted BYU associate professor Randy Bott. Horowitz paraphrases Bott:

According to Mormon scriptures, the descendants of Cain, who slew his brother Abel, “were black.” One of Cain’s descendants was Egyptus, a woman Mormons believe was the namesake of Egypt. She married Ham, whose descendants were themselves cursed and, in the view of many Mormons, barred from the priesthood by his father, Noah. Bott points to the Mormon holy text, the Book of Abraham, as suggesting that all of the descendents of Ham and Egyptus were thus black and barred from the priesthood.

Professor Bott’s explanation is an example of how doctrinal folklore continues to be taught by well-meaning members of the Church. Ironically, the dubious “folk doctrine” in question is no longer even relevant, since it was created to explain a Church policy that was reversed nearly thirty-four years ago. Continue reading

Three Mormon Myths About Blacks and the Priesthood

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February is black history month. Many white members of The Church will say “who cares?” or “good for them!” or even “aren’t they over that yet?” and move on about their daily tasks. That’s unwise. With the presidential election in full swing, our faith and our history of race relations has come under the spotlight of public scrutiny and the intensity will continue to grow. As that happens, I am hopeful that we as members are educated to move the discussion forward instead of saying things that are harmful to the Church and hurtful to many of our members. Continue reading

Baptism for the Dead and the Jews

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There has been an outpouring of outrage over several Jewish names that have been entered into the Church’s family history database. The level of outrage is sometimes difficult for us as Mormons to comprehend. We believe this is an act of love and compassion. Asking us not to do baptisms is akin to being asked not to love someone.

But, upon deeper reflection, I have come to a better understanding of what they may be feeling. There is a long history of forced conversions of Jews. Especially during the time of Nazi Germany, many Jews turned to their Christian neighbors to help save their families. Their children were often baptized to hide their background. Try to imagine turning our children over to the Southern Baptists for baptism, knowing that they would be forced to turn away from our faith. It would be a very difficult event for us. Continue reading

FAIR Issues 31: Translation of the Book of Mormon

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Among LDS scholars there are at least two main theories regarding the transmission of the Book of Mormon text into English. Some believe in a “tight control” theory and others in a “loose control” theory. Still others believe in a combination of the two. In this article, Michael R. Ash describes these theories.

The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.

Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FAIR Bookstore.

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FAIR Study Aid Lesson #8 (2 Nephi 9-10)

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The FAIR Study Aid for Book of Mormon Lesson #8 (2 Nephi 9-10) is now available on the FAIR Wiki: Lesson #8: O How Great the Goodness of our God

Each week, FAIR volunteers will look at the Sunday School lesson and identify relevant apologetic issues and other related insights, and then compile them into a single, easy to use quick-reference guide with links to additional information. Organization will follow the same structure found in Gospel Doctrine manual, with main headings that correspond with the main sections on the lesson. This should make it easy to identify how any particular item relates to the lesson material. Additional information related to the chapters in the Book of Mormon being covered by the lesson, but which do not fit neatly into the lesson’s structure, will be placed at the bottom of the page. Main sections will be broken down into three sub-sections:

  • Helpful Insights: These include various tidbits of information that might be helpful or interesting to discuss as a part of your lesson. They will come from scholarly studies and other sources.
  • Potential Criticisms and Faithful Information: These include potential criticisms that may arise during the lesson, or that are relevant to the topics and themes being discussed, along with information on how to respond with faith supporting information. These are made available so that teachers and students can gain some familiarity with these issues and be prepared should these or similar concerns arise in class.
  • Faith Affirmations: Here we will make note of various items of evidence for the Book of Mormon along with other information that supports the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and promotes faith in its teachings.

FAIR Examination 9: Polygamy as an Abrahamic Sacrifice–Dr. Valerie Hudson

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The Book of Mormon condemns polygamy, and calls it abominable. Modern leaders of the Church have condemned the practice. In light of this, what are we to make of the ancient practice of polygamy and of the practice of polygamy by early Mormons? Does the Book of Mormon contradict the Doctrine & Covenants? What of polygamy in the next life? Is polygamy necessary to exaltation? If polygamy is legalized in the United States, will the Church reinstitute polygamy? In this episode of FAIR Examination, Dr. Valerie M. Hudson shares her thoughts on these and other questions.

While Dr. Hudson was a professor of political science at Brigham Young University, she was listed as one of the “100 Top Global Thinkers of 2009″ by Foreign Policy Magazine. In January 2012, she became a Professor and George H.W. Bush Chair in the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University, teaching in the masters of international affairs program. More of her views on polygamy, women and the priesthood, and other women’s issues are discussed in the book Women in Eternity, Women in Zion that she co-authored with Alma Don Sorenson.

For further information on polygamy, see the FAIR Wiki article posted here.

The opinions expressed in this podcast do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or of FAIR.

FAIR Study Aid Lesson #7 (2 Nephi 3-5)

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The FAIR Study Aid for Book of Mormon Lesson #7 (2 Nephi 3-5) is now available on the FAIR Wiki: Lesson #7: I Know In Whom I Have Trusted

Each week, FAIR volunteers will look at the Sunday School lesson and identify relevant apologetic issues and other related insights, and then compile them into a single, easy to use quick-reference guide with links to additional information. Organization will follow the same structure found in Gospel Doctrine manual, with main headings that correspond with the main sections on the lesson. This should make it easy to identify how any particular item relates to the lesson material. Additional information related to the chapters in the Book of Mormon being covered by the lesson, but which do not fit neatly into the lesson’s structure, will be placed at the bottom of the page. Main sections will be broken down into three sub-sections:

  • Helpful Insights: These include various tidbits of information that might be helpful or interesting to discuss as a part of your lesson. They will come from scholarly studies and other sources.
  • Potential Criticisms and Faithful Information: These include potential criticisms that may arise during the lesson, or that are relevant to the topics and themes being discussed, along with information on how to respond with faith supporting information. These are made available so that teachers and students can gain some familiarity with these issues and be prepared should these or similar concerns arise in class.
  • Faith Affirmations: Here we will make note of various items of evidence for the Book of Mormon along with other information that supports the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and promotes faith in its teachings.

Mormon FAIR-Cast 73: Purpose, history and offerings of FAIR

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Mike Ash and Martin Tanner discuss the purpose of FAIR, the history of FAIR, various FAIR publications and the topics covered in the 2011 FAIR Conference in this episode of Religion Today that originally aired on July 31, 2011.

This recording was used by permission of KSL Radio and does not necessarily represent the views of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or of FAIR.

FAIR Study Aid Lesson #6 (2 Nephi 1-2)

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The FAIR Study Aid for Book of Mormon Lesson #6 (2 Nephi 1-2) is now available on the FAIR Wiki: Lesson #6: Free to Choose Liberty and Eternal Life

Each week, FAIR volunteers will look at the Sunday School lesson and identify relevant apologetic issues and other related insights, and then compile them into a single, easy to use quick-reference guide with links to additional information. Organization will follow the same structure found in Gospel Doctrine manual, with main headings that correspond with the main sections on the lesson. This should make it easy to identify how any particular item relates to the lesson material. Additional information related to the chapters in the Book of Mormon being covered by the lesson, but which do not fit neatly into the lesson’s structure, will be placed at the bottom of the page. Main sections will be broken down into three sub-sections:

  • Helpful Insights: These include various tidbits of information that might be helpful or interesting to discuss as a part of your lesson. They will come from scholarly studies and other sources.
  • Potential Criticisms and Faithful Information: These include potential criticisms that may arise during the lesson, or that are relevant to the topics and themes being discussed, along with information on how to respond with faith supporting information. These are made available so that teachers and students can gain some familiarity with these issues and be prepared should these or similar concerns arise in class.
  • Faith Affirmations: Here we will make note of various items of evidence for the Book of Mormon along with other information that supports the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and promotes faith in its teachings.

 

FAIR Examination 8: Aversion Therapy at BYU–Dr. Eugene Thorne

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Dr. Eugene Thorne was a member of the psychology department at BYU during the 1970s, and was involved with studies into what is called “aversion therapy.” In this interview, Dr. Thorne explains the studies that were done, and helps clear up some of the misperceptions, false innuendo, and outright lies that have been told regarding aversion therapy.

One of his patients, who is happily married and active in the Church, though wishes to remain anonymous, has made this statement about his experience with aversion therapy at BYU:

“I have absolutely no negative feelings or memories of the experience. It truly didn’t ‘cure’ anything (SSA or lust addiction), but it certainly did not leave any physical or mental ‘scars’ and was carefully and lovingly conducted.”

For further information on aversion therapy, see the FAIR Wiki article posted here.

The opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily represent the opinions of FAIR or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.