What to Do with that Embarassing Mistake in the Manual? Try BCC Press

You have probably heard by now that the printed edition of this year’s Come Follow Me manual contains an embarassing, and controversial error that, Peggy Fletcher Stack reports in a recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, “could set back progress that the Utah-basesd faith has made on the issue of racism in the past few years–and alienate people of color.”

The mistake appears on page 24 of the printed manual Come Follow Me–For Individuals and Families–and looks like this:

The error, of course, is that the Church has formally abandoned the theological argument that differences in skin color are the result of curses. Such ideas come out of explicitly racist nineteenth-century conceptions of lineage and race that have been replaced in the 21st century by good science and more Christlike theologies of human differences

To be fair, the Church has acknowledged that this portion of the manual was printed in error, and a Church representative, Irene Caso. ” “During the publication of the ‘Come, Follow Me’ manual for 2020, there was an error that resulted in the printing of material that doesn’t reflect the church’s current views on the topic,” she said in a statement reprinted in the Tribune. “To correct this, a decision was made to modify the content in the digital version of the essay.”

And the digital version of the manual has a very different section on 2 Nephi 5:20-21–one that states in no uncertain terms that the “curse” was the withdrawal of the spirit of God, that the color of their skin was “irrelevant as an indicator of the Lamanites’ standing before God,” and that no skin color is a curse. BCC Press recommends that you download this new section and paste it over the old one in the manual:

But don’t stop there, becauase racism doesn’t go away when we pretend it didn’t happen. We can’t cut 150 years or more of overtly racist doctrine out of our heritage and paste something nice and friendly over it. The dark-skin-as-curse doctrine is part of our heritage, and we need to acknowledge it directly and refute it dramatically.

BCC Press is here to help. In two of our January Book of Mormon publications, our authors address and attempt to deal with this destructive doctrinal heritage in responsible ways, which we offer here, free of charge, as even further enticements to buy the books.

First, in Buried Treasures: Reading thed Book of Mormon Again for the First Time, which was published on January 10th, Michael Austin walks us through the passage, the changes, and the fallacy of trying to use ancient scripture to explain contemporary racial and social issues”

The second excerpt comes from one of the most exciting books we have ever done: The Book of Mormon for the Least of These, by Fatimah Salleh and Margaret Olsen Hemming, which will be published this coming Friday, January 24. Fatimah and Margaret take the passage head on, explain its racist origins, and challenge us to consider Nephi’s own biases as we struggle with the text:

Both of these books give readers tools to read better–not just more accurately, but more compassionately and more justly. We started BCC Press to make books like this available to you at the lowest possible cost. And we are just getting started.

Comments

  1. Margaret Blair Young says:

    Great line: Racism doesn’t go away when we pretend it didn’t happen.

  2. The silver lining here is that this affords a great opportunity to spread the word that the Church has explicitly disavowed this view. But for better or for worse, this lesson is on a second Sunday, meaning there will be no Sunday School lesson based on it. Hopefully that means few members read it. Unfortunately, that also means the correction isn’t likely to be mentioned in many Sunday School lessons either.

  3. The mistake is revealing of a couple of things: 1) that the leaders didn’t prioritize getting rid of past racist interpretations of the BOM, 2) that the leaders are acknowledging (at least through their spokespeople) the past racism of former LDS leaders, 3) what critics say doesn’t fall on deaf ears and the leaders are actually listening and reacting in part to the criticism. I can’t imagine that the change to the manual was simply because the leaders later caught it and decided to change it.

  4. Jack Hughes says:

    “To correct this, a decision was made to modify the content in the digital version of the essay.”
    In this day and age, COB employees must be experts in passive voice use.

  5. Author’s biases in the BoM is something pointed out by either Nibley or Sorenson in some book or another.

    Seems contradictory that the Lamanites, who mostly described as idle and lazy hunter-gatherers (vs. the industrious agricultural Nephites) somehow always outnumber the Nephites.

  6. Funny how embarrassments like this keep happening. I wonder why?

  7. Ryan Mullen says:

    ummm…wow. I wasn’t planning to buy The Book of Mormon For the Least of These because I have a pretty full reading schedule, but after reading that excerpt I just preordered. Thanks!

  8. try Satan.