Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church/Chapter 1

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 1: A Chosen Race in a Promised Land"

A FairMormon Analysis of: Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church, a work by author: Simon G. Southerton
Claim Evaluation
Losing a Lost Tribe
Chart losing a lost tribe chapter 1.jpg

Response to claims made in Losing a Lost Tribe, "Chapter 1: A Chosen Race in a Promised Land"

Jump to Subtopic:


Response to claim: 3 - Attempts to describe Mormon doctrine are "fraught with peril"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Attempts to describe Mormon doctrine are "fraught with peril."

(Author's sources: *Author's opinion.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader





Question: Is "Mormon doctrine" constantly changing?

Each prophet who has lived was called to teach and guide the people of their specific time

Apostles and prophets are human, fallible and subject to their own opinions and emotions just like the rest of humanity. This does not, however, diminish their capacity to speak in the name of the Lord on issues which affect our eternal salvation. We pay heed to the words of the living prophet who has been called to guide the church in our time, while relying upon the standard works to help us understand and confirm these teachings.

It is claimed by some that the Church frequently changes its doctrine. They point to teachings of early church leaders such as Brigham Young (often quoting from the Journal of Discourses) and criticize modern church leaders for not accepting or implementing every pronouncement recorded by these early leaders.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by a living prophet, who is authorized to speak on the Lord’s behalf to the Church to address the issues of our day. We value the words and teachings of prophets who have lived in the past. We are encouraged to study the scriptures in order to apply the lessons taught by these great individuals to our present lives. Each prophet who has lived was called to teach and guide the people of their specific time. The situations which we face in today’s society are unique to us, and dealing with them requires the ongoing guidance of a living prophet.

It is not reasonable to expect that everything taught by Joseph Smith or Brigham Young applies to us today

We are fortunate to have so many detailed teachings of the early prophets of the restoration. There is much wisdom to be gained by studying their counsel. It is not, however, reasonable to expect that everything taught by Joseph Smith or Brigham Young applies to us today. Many things that these men taught were relevant to the 19th century church. In order to help us determine how to apply the teachings of past prophets to our present lives, we have a living prophet.

In 1981, Ezra Taft Benson said:

The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

God’s revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the Ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore the most important prophet so far as you and I are concerned is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each month in our Church Magazines. Our instructions about what we should do for each six months are found in the General Conference addresses which are printed in the Church magazine.

Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.[1]

Prophets are not scientists: Their views of science tend to reflect the prevailing views of the time

Prophets are not scientists: Their views of science tend to reflect the prevailing views of the time. For example, Brigham Young expressed a number of opinions regarding science that one would consider very humorous or even outlandish today, such as the suggestion that the moon and the sun were inhabited.

Modern day prophets are no more immune to the current thinking of their day. On May 14, 1961, Apostle (and future Church president) Joseph Fielding Smith declared that “We will never get a man into space. This earth is man's sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it.” As much as critics would like to declare this a “failed prophecy,” would it be reasonable to expect the Church to teach such a thing in light of current knowledge?

The Apostle (and future leader of Christ’s church) Peter denied Christ three times. Applying the same standard to Peter’s statement that the Church’s critics apply to 19th century prophets, one would have to interpret this to mean that future church leaders would be forced to teach that Christ was not actually the Son of God! After all, Peter went on to become the head of Christ’s church, and was therefore a prophet.

Church members need to compare what church leaders teach to the standard works

Joseph Fielding Smith clarifies how members need to compare what church leaders teach to the standard works:

It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine. You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works.[2]


Response to claim: 3 - Reversals of doctrine regarding polygamy and regarding Blacks and the priesthood were "painful and damaging" to the Church

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Reversals of doctrine regarding polygamy and regarding Blacks and the priesthood were "painful and damaging" to the Church.

(Author's sources: Author's opinion.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

No examples of the "pain" and "damage" are provided.



Response to claim: 4 - The idea that the words of living prophets supersede the words of dead prophets has been "recently" promoted

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The idea that the words of living prophets supersede the words of dead prophets has been "recently" promoted.

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

This has always been the doctrine of the Church:

[When invited by Joseph Smith], Brother Brigham took the stand, and he took the Bible, and laid it down; he took the Book of Mormon, and laid it down; and he took the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, and laid it down before him, and he said: "There is the written word of God to us, concerning the work of God from the beginning of the world, almost, to our day. And now,' said he, 'when compared with the living oracles those books are nothing to me; those books do not convey the word of God direct to us now, as do the words of a Prophet or a man bearing the Holy Priesthood in our day and generation. I would rather have the living oracles than all the writing in the books.' That was the course he pursued. When he was through, Brother Joseph said to the congregation, "Brother Brigham has told you the word of the Lord, and he has told you the truth.'"[3]

If living prophets outrank scriptures, then living prophets clearly supersede dead prophets: whether written or spoken.



Neil L. Andersen (2012): "A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine"

Neil L. Andersen:

A few question their faith when they find a statement made by a Church leader decades ago that seems incongruent with our doctrine. There is an important principle that governs the doctrine of the Church. The doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk. True principles are taught frequently and by many. Our doctrine is not difficult to find.

The leaders of the Church are honest but imperfect men. Remember the words of Moroni: “Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father … ; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been” (Ether 12:6)[4]—(Click here to continue)


"Approaching Mormon Doctrine," LDS Newsroom (May 2007): "Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine"

Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted. —(Click here to continue) [5]


Response to claim: 4 - Mormon doctrine is "fluid and changeable"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Mormon doctrine is "fluid and changeable."

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

Mormon doctrine is not constantly changing. It has sometimes evolved to keep up with the times.



Question: Is "Mormon doctrine" constantly changing?

Each prophet who has lived was called to teach and guide the people of their specific time

Apostles and prophets are human, fallible and subject to their own opinions and emotions just like the rest of humanity. This does not, however, diminish their capacity to speak in the name of the Lord on issues which affect our eternal salvation. We pay heed to the words of the living prophet who has been called to guide the church in our time, while relying upon the standard works to help us understand and confirm these teachings.

It is claimed by some that the Church frequently changes its doctrine. They point to teachings of early church leaders such as Brigham Young (often quoting from the Journal of Discourses) and criticize modern church leaders for not accepting or implementing every pronouncement recorded by these early leaders.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by a living prophet, who is authorized to speak on the Lord’s behalf to the Church to address the issues of our day. We value the words and teachings of prophets who have lived in the past. We are encouraged to study the scriptures in order to apply the lessons taught by these great individuals to our present lives. Each prophet who has lived was called to teach and guide the people of their specific time. The situations which we face in today’s society are unique to us, and dealing with them requires the ongoing guidance of a living prophet.

It is not reasonable to expect that everything taught by Joseph Smith or Brigham Young applies to us today

We are fortunate to have so many detailed teachings of the early prophets of the restoration. There is much wisdom to be gained by studying their counsel. It is not, however, reasonable to expect that everything taught by Joseph Smith or Brigham Young applies to us today. Many things that these men taught were relevant to the 19th century church. In order to help us determine how to apply the teachings of past prophets to our present lives, we have a living prophet.

In 1981, Ezra Taft Benson said:

The living prophet is more important to us than a dead prophet.

God’s revelation to Adam did not instruct Noah how to build the Ark. Noah needed his own revelation. Therefore the most important prophet so far as you and I are concerned is the one living in our day and age to whom the Lord is currently revealing His will for us. Therefore the most important reading we can do is any of the words of the prophet contained each month in our Church Magazines. Our instructions about what we should do for each six months are found in the General Conference addresses which are printed in the Church magazine.

Beware of those who would set up the dead prophets against the living prophets, for the living prophets always take precedence.[6]

Prophets are not scientists: Their views of science tend to reflect the prevailing views of the time

Prophets are not scientists: Their views of science tend to reflect the prevailing views of the time. For example, Brigham Young expressed a number of opinions regarding science that one would consider very humorous or even outlandish today, such as the suggestion that the moon and the sun were inhabited.

Modern day prophets are no more immune to the current thinking of their day. On May 14, 1961, Apostle (and future Church president) Joseph Fielding Smith declared that “We will never get a man into space. This earth is man's sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it.” As much as critics would like to declare this a “failed prophecy,” would it be reasonable to expect the Church to teach such a thing in light of current knowledge?

The Apostle (and future leader of Christ’s church) Peter denied Christ three times. Applying the same standard to Peter’s statement that the Church’s critics apply to 19th century prophets, one would have to interpret this to mean that future church leaders would be forced to teach that Christ was not actually the Son of God! After all, Peter went on to become the head of Christ’s church, and was therefore a prophet.

Church members need to compare what church leaders teach to the standard works

Joseph Fielding Smith clarifies how members need to compare what church leaders teach to the standard works:

It makes no difference what is written or what anyone has said, if what has been said is in conflict with what the Lord has revealed, we can set it aside. My words, and the teachings of any other member of the Church, high or low, if they do not square with the revelations, we need not accept them. Let us have this matter clear. We have accepted the four standard works as the measuring yardsticks, or balances, by which we measure every man’s doctrine. You cannot accept the books written by the authorities of the Church as standards in doctrine, only in so far as they accord with the revealed word in the standard works.[7]


Response to claim: 7-8 - The Nephites raise "herds of cattle, goats and horses"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Nephites raise "herds of cattle, goats and horses." The author indicates that these are anachronistic.

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources





The work repeats itself on p. xiv, 7-8., 173., and 199.

Miller and Roper: "Bones of domesticated cattle...have been reported from different caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [8]

Bones of domesticated cattle (Bos taurus – see Figure 2) have been reported from different caves in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.[9] In one instance these bones were found with those of an extinct horse, Equus conversidens. It is especially interesting that along with these cow and horse remains, human artifacts were found in association with them! The indication is that domesticated cattle and the horse coexisted with humans in pre-Columbian time. [10]

Image taken from Miller and Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.


Miller and Roper: "Evidence of goats associated with pre-Columbian man also comes from caves in Yucatan"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [11]

Goats are mentioned among the animals once had by the Jaredites (Ether 9:18). Later, after their arrival in the land of promise Lehi’s family encountered “the goat and the wild goat” as they traveled in the wilderness in the land southward (1 Nephi 18:25). Sometime after the death of his father Jacob, Enos wrote that the Nephites raised “flocks of herds, and flocks of all manner of cattle of every kind, and goats, and wild goats” (Enos 1:21). During Alma and Amulek’s miraculous escape from the prison in Ammonihah, their terrified persecutors are said to have fled “even as a goat fleeth with her young from two lions” (Alma 14:29). There is no indication in the text that the Lehites brought goats with them to the land of promise; however, it is possible that they may have been included among those flocks and herds brought by the Jaredites in their journey over the sea (Ether 6:4). If so, it is possible that some of those encountered later by Lehi’s people were descendants of those had by the Jaredites. They would have been a useful animal to both the Jaredites and Nephites, just as they have been for man through the ages in the Old World. Evidence of goats associated with pre-Columbian man also comes from caves in Yucatan. [12] It was not made clear whether this was a wild or a domesticated type of goat.


Miller and Roper: "In post-biblical Jewish literature some Jewish writers distinguished between wild and domestic cattle such as goats"

Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper: [13]

Mention of the “wild goat” may at first seem peculiar. Biblical animals that could be eaten under the Law of Moses included the “goat” and the “wild goat” (Deuteronomy 14:4-5). In post-biblical Jewish literature some Jewish writers distinguished between wild and domestic cattle such as goats. Both were considered clean and could be eaten, but only the domestic variety was thought acceptable for sacrifice. [14] .... The only native wild goat in North America is the Mountain Goat, Oreamnos americanus. Its geographic range, though, currently only extends south from southwest Alaska down to the northwest United States. Even with a possible extended range for this animal during Book of Mormon time, it is extremely unlikely it got as far south as Mesoamerica. A closely related, but extinct, species is Oreamnos harringtoni. This goat did have a much more southerly distribution, extending into Mexico. While this goat might have survived much past the terminal Pleistocene along with other animals, there is not sufficient evidence yet for this.

It has already been indicated that a referenced animal in the Book of Mormon could actually be something somewhat different, but had a similar appearance. There is an animal now living in Mesoamerica that fits this description, the Red Brocket deer, Mazama americana. Unlike other deer it has but a single goat-like horn – which is really an antler that is shed and regrown annually like other cervids. [15]

Image taken from Miller and Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture.


Question: Have any ancient horse remains from the Nephite period been found in the New World?

A few non-Mormon scholars have proposed that real horses survived the New World extinction

Wild horses were present in ancient America during the Pleistocene period (Ice Age), yet were not present at the time of the arrival of the Spaniards. Horses thrived once they were re-introduced by the Spaniards into the New World. The question then is: "Why were horses missing when the Spaniards arrived?" Is it possible that real horses lived in the Americas during Book of Mormon times? And if so, why does there seem to be no archaeological support?

At least a few non-Mormon scholars believe that real horses (of a stature smaller than modern horses) may have survived New World extinction. The late British anthropologist, M.F. Ashley Montague, a non-LDS scholar who taught at Harvard, suggested that the horse never became extinct in America. According to Montague, the size of post-Columbian horses provides evidence that the European horses bred with early American horses.[16]

Non-LDS Canadian researcher, Yuri Kuchinsky, also believes that there were pre-Columbian horses. Kuchinsky, however, believes that horses (smaller than our modern horses) were reintroduced into the west coast of the Americas about 2000 years ago from Asians who came by ship. Among Kuchinsky's evidences for pre-Columbian horses are:

  1. Horse traditions among the Indians that may pre-date the arrival of the Spaniards.
  2. Supposedly pre-Columbian petroglyphs that appear to depict horses.
  3. Noticeable differences between the typical Spanish horse and the much smaller American Indian ponies.[17]


Question: Why don't potential pre-Columbian horse remains in the New World receive greater attention from scientists?

Theories that horses survived extinction after the Pleistocene extinction are viewed as fringe by mainstream scholars and are dismissed

Unfortunately for this solution for the Book of Mormon, however, such theories are typically seen as fringe among mainstream scholars. Due to the dearth of archaeological support, most scholars continue to believe that horses became extinct at the end of the Pleistocene period.

We know, for example, that the Norsemen probably introduced horses, cows, sheep, goats, and pigs into the Eastern North America in the eleventh century A.D., yet these animals didn't spread throughout the continent and they left no archeological remains.[18] According to one non-LDS authority on ancient American, the Olmecs had domesticated dogs and turkeys but the damp acidic Mesoamerican soil would have destroyed any remains and any archaeological evidence of such animal domestication.[19]

Even in areas of the world where animals lived in abundance, we sometimes have problems finding archaeological remains. The textual evidence for lions in Israel, for example, suggests that lions were present in Israel from ancient times until at least the sixteenth century AD. Robert R. Bennett of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute Of Religious Scholarship notes,

A parallel example from the Bible is instructive. The biblical narrative mentions lions, yet it was not until very recently that the only other evidence for lions in Palestine was pictographic or literary. Before the announcement in a 1988 publication of two bone samples, there was no archaeological evidence to confirm the existence of lions in that region.6 Thus there is often a gap between what historical records such as the Book of Mormon claim existed and what the limited archaeological record may yield. In addition, archaeological excavations in Bible lands have been under way for decades longer and on a much larger scale than those in proposed Book of Mormon lands.[20]

In the Bible we read that Abraham had camels while in Egypt, yet archaeologists used to believe that this was an anachronism because camels were supposedly unknown in Egypt until Greek and Roman times. More recently, however, some researchers have shown that camels were used in Egypt from pre-historic times until the present day.

The fact is, however, that there does appear to be archaeological support that horses existed in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica. In 1957, for instance, at Mayapan (a site corresponding to Book of Mormon lands/times) horse remains were discovered at a depth considered to be pre-Columbian. Likewise, in southwest Yucatan, a non-Mormon archaeologist found what may likely be pre-Columbian horse remains in three caves. Excavations in a cave in the Mayan lowlands in 1978 also turned up horse remains.[21]

As an article for the Academy of Natural Science explains, such discoveries are typically "either dismissed or ignored by the European scientific community."[22] The problem may be one of pre-conceived paradigms. Dr. Sorenson recently related the story of a non-LDS archaeologist colleague who was digging at an archaeological dig in Tula and discovered a horse tooth. He took it to his supervisor--the chief archaeologist--who said, "Oh, that's a modern horse, throw it away" (which he did)--it was never dated.[23]

Dr. John Clark, director of the New World Archaeological Foundation has expressed similar concerns:

The problem is archaeologists get in the same hole that everybody else gets in. If you find a horse--if I'm digging a site and I find a horse bone--if I actually know enough to know that it is a horse bone, because that takes some expertise--my assumption would be that there's something wrong with my site. And so archaeologists who find a horse bone and say, "Ah! Somebody's screwing around with my archaeology." So we would never date it. Why am I going to throw away $600 to date the horse bone when I already know [that they're modern]? ...I think that hole's screwed up. If I dig a hole and I find plastic in the bottom, I'm not going to run the [radio]carbon, that's all there is to it. Because ...I don't want to waste the money.[24]


Response to claim: 8 - The Nephites raise Old World wheat and barley

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Nephites raise Old World wheat and barley. The author indicates that these are anachronistic.

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources





Wikipedia: Amaranth and the Aztecs

Amaranth has a similar nutritional profile to grain (the Aztecs got up to 80% of the calories from it prior to the Spanish conquest), and it is even today termed a "pseudograin" because it can be ground into flour like wheat or other seed grains, which biologically are grasses.[25] Even today, Amaranth is used to replace wheat flour in gluten-intolerant patients (e.g., celiac disease) or to increase the nutritional content of standard whole-wheat flour.


Sorenson: The grain "Amaranth" in Mexico

John L. Sorenson: [26]

Amaranth, considered an Old World grain, was grown and used in Mexico at the time the Spaniards arrived. Botanist Jonathan Sauer thought its origin to be American, but he noted too that it was widely distributed in the Old World in pre-Columbian times. Its uses in the two hemispheres were strikingly similar also (it was popped and eaten as "popcorn balls" on special feast days); the similarities have suggested to some scholars that amaranth seed was carried across the ocean in ancient times.[27]


Question: Is the mention of barley in the Book of Mormon an anachronism?

Evidence of pre-Columbian barley has been found in the New World

It has been claimed that barley was unknown in the ancient New World. One author insists that, "barley never grew in the New World before the white man brought it here!" [Scott, 82.] However, evidence of pre-Columbian barley has been found in the New World.


Sorenson and Smith: "three types of wild barley have long been known to be native to the Americas"

Pre-Columbian New World barley was first reported in the scientific literature in 1983.

The December 1983 issue of the popular magazine Science 83 reported the discovery in Phoenix, Arizona, by professional archaeologists of what they supposed to be pre-Columbian domesticated barley. That same month, F.A.R.M.S. carried a preliminary notice of the discovery. This Arizona find is the first direct New World evidence for cultivated pre-Columbian barley in support of the Book of Mormon. Mosiah 9:9 lists barley among several crops that were cultivated by the Nephites in the land of Nephi, and Alma 11:7 singles out barley as the primary grain into which silver and gold were converted in the Nephite system of weights and measures.

That there are copious samples of cultivated barley at pre-Columbian sites in Arizona seemed a first for the Western Hemisphere, but Professor Howard C. Stutz of the BYU Department of Biology tells us that three types of wild barley have long been known to be native to the Americas. The real surprise is that this barley is of a cultivated ("naked") type, although the ethnobotanist for the Arizona project, Dr. Vorsila Bohrer (Eastern New Mexico University, Portales), says that it is not yet clear whether the samples were truly naked (unhulled) or simply naturally degraded in context.[28]


Response to claim: 8 - The author states that the Nephites construct a temple that is "similar in splendor" to Solomon's

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The author states that the Nephites construct a temple that is "similar in splendor" to Solomon's.

(Author's sources:

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Nephi never claimed that the temple that he built was "similar in splendor" to Solomon's temple.



Question: Was Nephi's temple "similar in splendor" to Solomon's temple?

Nephi stated that it was not like Solomon's temple" because many "precious things" were "not to be found upon the land"

Nephi is clear that the temple is not to the scale or grandeur of Solomon's temple; he merely patterns the building and its functions after the Jewish temple.

16 And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon's temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine. (2 Nephi 5:16)

Nephi also probably had access to more workmen than the few members of the original Jerusalem party under Lehi.

One critic, who used to be a member of the Church, actually demonstrates his ignorance of the Book of Mormon by stating that the temple that was built was said to be "similar in splendor" to Solomon's Temple, directly contradicting Nephi's description. Nephi stated that "could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple" because many of the precious things contained in Solomon's temple "were not to be found upon the land." Therefore, Nephi himself confirms that his temple was not "similar in splendor" to Solomon's temple.

This is a good example of the critics reading the text in the most naive, most ill-informed way possible. One should also consider that smaller population would not have needed a massive complex like the temple at Jerusalem anyway.


Response to claim: 8 - The Nephites are skilled in the use of metals such as iron, copper, brass, gold and silver

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Nephites are skilled in the use of metals such as iron, copper, brass, gold and silver. The author indicates that this is anachronistic

(Author's sources: *No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

These metals are not anachronistic.



Question: What was known about iron in ancient America?

Iron is documented among the pre-Columbian peoples: They used exposed iron sources or meteorite iron

Iron is documented among the pre-Columbian peoples. Even if they did not practice smelting (extracting iron from ore), they used exposed iron sources or meteorite iron. Production of iron artifacts from such sources is documented in San Jose Mogote by 1200 B.C.[29] Several tons of Olmec-era iron artifacts are known:[30] "the Olmec were a sophisticated people who possessed advanced knowledge and skill in working iron ore minerals."[31] Mesoamerica did use quite a bit of iron ore, but much of it was used without smelting, establishing a cultural/religious connotation that would have retarded experimentation with the ore for any other purpose (ascription of religious value to any physical artifact delays changes in that artifact).


Sorenson: "Iron use was documented in the statements of early Spaniards, who told of the Aztecs using iron-studded clubs"

John L. Sorenson:[32]

Iron use was documented in the statements of early Spaniards, who told of the Aztecs using iron-studded clubs. [33] A number of artifacts have been preserved that are unquestionably of iron; their considerable sophistication, in some cases, at least suggests interest in this metal [34]....Few of these specimens have been chemically analyzed to determine whether the iron used was from meteors or from smelted ore. The possibility that smelted iron either has been or may yet be found is enhanced by a find at Teotihuacan. A pottery vessel dating to about A.D. 300, and apparently used for smelting, contained a "metallic-looking" mass. Analyzed chemically, it proved to contain copper and iron. [35]


Sorenson: "Lumps of hematite, magnetite, and ilmenite were brought into Valley of Oaxaca"

John L. Sorenson:

Without even considering smelted iron, we find that peoples in Mesoamerica exploited iron minerals from early times. Lumps of hematite, magnetite, and ilmenite were brought into Valley of Oaxaca sites from some of the thirty-six ore exposures located near or in the valley. These were carried to a workshop section within the site of San Jose Mogote as early as 1200 B.C. There they were crafted into mirrors by sticking the fragments onto prepared mirror backs and polishing the surface highly. These objects, clearly of high value, were traded at considerable distances.[36]


Question: Is the mention of copper in the Book of Mormon an anachronism?

Copper is well known in a pre-Columbian context in Mesoamerica

The Book of Mormon mentions the use of copper eight times.

Copper is well known in a pre-Columbian context in Mesoamerica.


Question: What is "brass" in the Book of Mormon?

"Brass" is an alloy of copper and zinc

"Brass" is an alloy of copper and zinc. It is a term used frequently in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Some occurrences in the Bible have been determined by Biblical scholars to actually reflect the use of bronze (an alloy of copper and tin), rather than brass.

On the other hand, actual brass has been found in the Old World which dates to Lehi's era, and so the idea of "brass" plates is not the anachronism which was once thought. Either "brass plates" or "bronze plates" would fit.[37]

The Jaredites dug for gold, silver and iron, but they "made" brass

An interesting point concerning alloys is found in Ether 10:23 in which the Jaredites "did make...brass," (an alloy), but "did dig...to get ore of gold, and of silver, and of iron, and of copper." The Book of Mormon author has a clear understanding of those metals which are found in a raw state, and those which must be made as an alloy.


Question: Is the mention of gold in the Book of Mormon an anachronism?

Gold is well known in a pre-Columbian context in Mesoamerica

The mention of "gold" in the Book of Mormon is sometimes called an anachronism, however the use of gold is well known in a pre-Columbian context in Mesoamerica.


Question: Is the mention of silver in the Book of Mormon an anachronism?

Silver is well known in a pre-Columbian context in Mesoamerica

Silver is mentioned 48 times in the Book of Mormon. This is not an anachronism since Silver is well known in a pre-Columbian context in Mesoamerica.


Response to claim: 8 - The Nephites use steel to fashion swords, breastplates, and arm and head shields

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Nephites use steel to fashion swords, breastplates, and arm and head shields. The author indicates that this is anachronistic

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

"Steel," as it is referred to in the Book of Mormon, is applied to two Old World weapons (Nephi's bow and the sword of Laban). Only in Ether are swords made of steel (Ether 7:9). Nephites are said to use steel (Jarom 1:8), but it is never described for breastplates, arm, or head shields. The author is again shown to be woefully ignorant of the Book of Mormon text.



The work repeats itself on p. 8, 172., and 199.
The work repeats itself on p. 8 and 199.

Question: Are all swords mentioned in the Book of Mormon made of metal?

The Book of Mormon does indicate that at least some swords were made of metal

The Book of Mormon does indicate that at least some swords were made of metal, specifically, "steel." Some Jaredites are described with steel weapons (see Ether 7:9), and Mosiah 8:11 mentions Limhi's explorers finding the remains of Jaredite battles with blades that have rusted, suggesting that they were metallic.

Nephi1 also acquired an Old World steel sword from Laban (1 Nephi 4:9).

Critics make the unwarranted assumption that because some weapons—generally used by elite leaders—are described as being made of metal, we must therefore conclude that all Book of Mormon swords were made of metal.

In fact, what the Book of Mormon suggests is that some of the elite among the Jaredites and the Nephites had metal swords at certain times, but most swords and armor were not made of metal. Steel swords were exceptional and rare (and, because they were unusual, such weapons were mentioned specifically by the Book of Mormon authors).

Jaredite swords: "the blades thereof were cankered with rust"

The earliest reference to steel swords in the Book of Mormon is in a passage recounting the notable deeds of Prince Shule. Shule is described as "mighty in judgment" (Ether 7:8). We are told, "Wherefore, he came to the hill Ephraim, and he did molten out of the hill, and made swords out of steel for those whom he had drawn away with him; and after he had armed them with swords he returned to the city Nehor, and gave battle unto his brother Corihor, by which means he obtained the kingdom" (Ether 7:9). Note here that Shule appears to be the one with the knowledge and skill to do this. "He did molten," he "made swords out of steel," "he . . . armed them." Did he pass this remarkable skill on to others? The passage does not say. It is interesting, however, that the next generation is nearly wiped out (Ether 9:12) and that there is no further mention of steel in the Book of Ether following this episode. Is this an indication that steel technology among the Jaredites was subsequently lost? In periods of social anarchy, valuable possessions tend to be stolen and lost or destroyed. They couldn't keep them (Ether 14:1; Helaman 13:34).

The other passage bearing on the question of Jaredite swords is the one describing King Limhi's search party. Although, they did not find the land of Zarahemla, the search party found ruins of buildings and bones of the Jaredites along with the 24 gold plates of Ether. "And also they have brought breastplates, which are large and they are of brass and of copper, and are perfectly sound. And again they have brought swords, the hilts thereof have perished, and the blades thereof were cankered with rust" (Mosiah 8:10-11). We are not told if the blades were of steel or some other metal which can rust. The search party brought back the plates and the breastplates and the rusted sword blades "for a testimony that the things that they had said are true" (Mosiah 8:9). The fact that they brought the breastplates and rusted sword blades back to Limhi suggests that metal blades and breastplates of copper were rare or unusual.

Nephi, writing decades after these events, still considered Laban's steel blade to be "most precious"

After separating from the Lamanites, Nephi states, "And I, Nephi, did take the sword of Laban, and after the manner of it did make many swords, lest by any means the people who were now called Lamanites should come upon us and destroy us" (2 Nephi 5:15). Nephi also indicates that he taught his people various skills which included, among other things, working in various metals and some form of steel working (2 Nephi 5:15). One way to read this is that Nephi made other steel swords.

It should be remembered, however, that steel working is a difficult and multifaceted process. Nephi's knowledge of steel may have meant he was skilled enough to make long steel sword blades, or it could simply refer to steel ornamentation. It is interesting to note that Nephi, writing decades after these events, still considered Laban's steel blade to be "most precious" (1 Nephi 4:9). What made Laban's blade "most precious" decades after Nephi made swords for his people? Is this an indication that Nephi's skills with steel, whatever they consisted of fell short of making long steel blades?

Another way to read this is that Nephi made swords after the general pattern of Laban's sword—that is, as a straight shaft with sharp blades along both edges, rather than a one-sided sickle sword which was also common in the ancient near East.[38]

As William J. Hamblin observed:

The minimalist and tightest reading of this evidence is that Nephi had a steel weapon from the Near East. He attempted to imitate this weapon-whether in function, form, or material is unclear. His descendants apparently abandoned this technology by no later than 400 B.C. Based on a careful reading of the text of the Book of Mormon, there are no grounds for claiming-as anti-Mormons repeatedly do-that the Book of Mormon describes a massive steel industry with thousands of soldiers carrying steel swords in the New World.[39]


Question: Did the use of metal swords mentioned in the Book of Mormon persist?

Metal swords are rare in the Book of Mormon, and so are likely to be rare in the archaeological record

If we suppose that Nephi made other steel swords, need we assume that all subsequent Nephite swords had blades of steel or other metal? To how many Nephites did Nephi pass on the knowledge of working in steel? Did all Nephites know how to work steel or just some? The last reference to steel among the Nephite is during the time of Jarom (Jarom 1:8). After that, steel is never again mentioned among the Nephites. When the Zeniffites return to the land of Nephi a few generations later, they work with iron and other metals, but not steel. This, perhaps not coincidentally, is the last reference to Nephite "iron" (Mosiah 11:3,8).

One has to wonder if some of these early skills were lost. It was apparently an exceptional thing for Nephi or Benjamin to wield the sword of Laban in the defense of their people (Jacob 1:10; W+of+M 1:13). Why would this be necessary for a king if steel technology was commonplace and well-known? This again, suggests that steel swords were the exception not the norm.

One should remember, too, that the "steel" of Joseph Smith's day was not modern steel, and KJV "steel" referred to bronze, not steeled iron. (See FAIR wiki article on metals, especially steel.)

Historical parallels: The loss of metalworking knowledge

By way of historical analogy, in many rural villages in places such as Asia or Africa, one family of artisans might supply the metallurgical needs of thousands, yet the ferrous skills possessed by those few could easily be lost in just one raid. It seems reasonable to suggest that a similar situation occurred among the early Jaredites and Nephites in ancient Mesoamerica.

In a recent study of North American copper pan pipes, one scholar attempted to explain why certain copper technologies, if once available in North American Middle Woodland cultures, were not passed down to subsequent groups. She reasoned, "The technological information must have been restricted to a limited number of individuals and artisans. Following the disruption of the interaction sphere, this information in the hands of so few artificers and entrepreneurs was not passed on and was consequently lost. There was no retention of that knowledge and when, half a millennium later new societies developed, it was with new copper techniques and new artifact styles."[40]

In the absence of archaeological evidence for metal weapons in early Mesoamerican times, it is worth remembering that there is linguistic evidence, noted by John Sorenson, for metals in Mesoamerican antiquity dating back to Olmec times.[41] When this is coupled with the interpretation of the rarity of metals swords mentioned above, the issue is much less problematic when additional perspective is added.


Question: Did swords exist in Pre-Columbian America during the Book of Mormon time period?

Swords clearly existed in Mesoamerica, and they were so labeled by Spanish conquistadors

Macuahuitl swords from the 15th Century Florentine Codex

Some critics have charged that no Pre-Columbian swords existed at all. This is clearly false; evidence from Pre-Columbian art supports the idea that there were swords as early as the Pre-classic.[42] Non-LDS authors have often used the term "sword" for such weapons.[43]

Scott Brian, a graduate student of Archaeology at BYU, has made several reconstructions of a macuahuitl, the ancient Mesoamerican weapon often termed a "sword"—the term the Spaniards used when they faced this fearsome weapon that could cut better than metal swords.

See photos of the modern reconstruction: Photo 1 Photo 2 Photo 3

Macuahuitl swords from the 15th Century Florentine Codex

One chronicle described the macuahuitl's ability to decapitate a horse:

While we were at grips with this great army and their dreadful broadswords, many of the most powerful among the enemy seem to have decided to capture a horse. They began with a furious attack, and laid hands on a good mare well trained both for sport and battle. Her rider, Pedro de Moron, was a fine horseman; and as he charged with three other horsemen into enemy ranks—they had been instructed to charge together for mutual support—some of them seized his lance so that he could not use it, and others slashed at him with their broadswords, wounding him severely, Then they slashed at his mare, cutting her head at the neck so that it only hung by the skin. The mare fell dead, and if his mounted comrades had not come to Moron's rescue, he would probably have been killed also.(italics added)[44]

Book of Mormon examples

Some Book of Mormon passages make less sense if the reference to "sword" is read as a European-style, metallic sword.

For example, the Anti-Nephi-Lehi group described how the atonement of Christ had miraculous made their swords "bright" again, after being stained with the blood of murder:

Obsidian gleaming in the light. From R.Weller/Cochise College, free for non-commercial educational use. Original here.
And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do, (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain—Now, my best beloved brethren, since God hath taken away our stains, and our swords have become bright, then let us stain our swords no more with the blood of our brethren. Behold, I say unto you, Nay, let us retain our swords that they be not stained with the blood of our brethren; for perhaps, if we should stain our swords again they can no more be washed bright through the blood of the Son of our great God, which shall be shed for the atonement of our sins.(Alma 24:11-13)

Wiping blood from a metal blade is simple—cleaning such a weapon is no miracle. However, the wooden-hafted macuhuitl would absorb the blood, making it almost impossible to clean. The "brightness" of the sword blades matches well with obsidian fragments. Obsidian was polished into mirrors, and gleamed brightly. The Spaniard Torquemada described obsidian as

a stone which might be called precious, more beautiful and brilliant than alabaster or jasper, so much so that of it are made tablets and mirrors....[45]

For other photos of how shiny obsidian can be here: Image 1, Image 2, Image 3


Response to claim: 8 - The Nephites built defensive mounds around their cities

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Nephites built defensive mounds around their cities. The author indicates that this is anachronistic.

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The Nephite fortifications actually are consistent with those built in ancient Mesoamerica?



Question: Are the fortifications described in the Book of Mormon consistent with those built in ancient Mesoamerica?

The Book of Mormon's description of fortifications matches those in use in Mesoamerica

4 But behold, how great was their disappointment; for behold, the Nephites had dug up a ridge of earth round about them, which was so high that the Lamanites could not cast their stones and their arrows at them that they might take effect, neither could they come upon them save it was by their place of entrance. (Alma 49:4).

3 And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had finished burying their dead and also the dead of the Nephites, they were marched back into the land Bountiful; and Teancum, by the orders of Moroni, caused that they should commence laboring in digging a ditch round about the land, or the city, Bountiful. 4 And he caused that they should build a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and they cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers; and thus they did cause the Lamanites to labor until they had encircled the city of Bountiful round about with a strong wall of timbers and earth, to an exceeding height. 5 And this city became an exceeding stronghold ever after; and in this city they did guard the prisoners of the Lamanites; yea, even within a wall which they had caused them to build with their own hands. Now Moroni was compelled to cause the Lamanites to labor, because it was easy to guard them while at their labor; and he desired all his forces when he should make an attack upon the Lamanites.(Alma 53:3-5).

The Book of Mormon's description of fortifications matches those in use in Mesoamerica. Multiple sites have been found; the city of Becan is well-known:

The moat at Bécan in the Yucatan is 16 meters wide, and covers a distance of 2 kilometers. The enclosed city covers 25 hectares (almost 62 acres). Reconstruction, on-line at http://mayaruins.com/becan.html
Artist’s rendering of Bécan fortifications [AD 100-250]; From John L. Sorenson, Images of Ancient America: Visualizing Book of Mormon Life (Provo, Utah: Research Press, 1998), 133 (Andrea Darais, artist).
“Bécan” earthworks, fortifications from Early Classic period (250-400 AD) David L. Webster, Defensive Earthworks at Bécan, Campeche, Mexico: Implications for Mayan Warfare (New Orleans: Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, Publication 41, 1976), 3.
Note the modern highway in the upper left corner! [Gives a sense of the scale.] David L. Webster, Defensive Earthworks at Bécan, Campeche, Mexico: Implications for Mayan Warfare (New Orleans: Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University, Publication 41, 1976), 3.

The rise of Mesoamerican fortification in the archaeological record matches the introduction of this form of warfare among the Nephites by Captain Moroni in about 72 B.C.

It should be noted too that the rise of Mesoamerican fortification in the archaeological record matches the introduction of this form of warfare among the Nephites by Captain Moroni in about 72 B.C. (See Alma 49:8).The first number indicates "Definitive" sites; the second is "Possible" sites:

John L. Sorenson, "Fortifications in the Book of Mormon Account Compared with Mesoamerican Fortifications" (Table 2, p. 429) in Stephen D. Ricks & William J. Hamblin, (eds), Warfare in the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1990), 425-444. The first number indicates "Definitive" sites; the second is "possible" sites.


Response to claim: 8 - The Lamanites vastly outnumber the Nephites

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Lamanites vastly outnumber the Nephites. The author indicates that this is unlikely.

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The term "Lamanites" included more than just the descendants of Laman and Lemual.



Question: What were the relative size of Nephites vs. Lamanites?

Despite the majority of the immigrants going with Nephi, the Lamanites are consistently mentioned as being much more numerous (at least double) than the Nephites

Despite the majority of the immigrants going with Nephi, the Lamanites are consistently mentioned as being much more numerous (at least double) than the Nephites. This includes the period before Mosiah I's exodus (See Jarom 1:6) and afterward, despite the introduction of Zarahemla's people (the so-called 'Mulekites') to bolster Nephite numbers. (See Mosiah 25:3, Helaman 4:25.)

There is one intriguing passage in which Mormon explains the numeric disparity as it applies to Captain Moroni's wars:

...thus the Nephites were compelled, alone, to withstand against the Lamanites, who were a compound of Laman and Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael, and all those who had dissented from the Nephites, who were Amalekites and Zoramites, and the descendants of the priests of Noah. 14 Now those descendants were as numerous, nearly, as were the Nephites; and thus the Nephites were obliged to contend with their brethren, even unto bloodshed. [italics added] Alma 43:13-14.

Mormon here lists a variety of peoples under the rubric 'Lamanites,' and then indicates that these descendants almost match the Nephites in numbers. Yet, clearly, the 'Lamanites' (in a broader sense) always have a massive manpower advantage, as we are told just a few verses later in Alma 43:51.

The phrase "those descendants," by this reading, does not apply merely to the "descendants of the priests of Noah," since this is a tiny group of only 24 Lamanite women and their former-priest husbands. (See Mosiah 20:5, Mosiah 23:31-39.) These "Amulonites" had been decimated by angry Lamanites only a few years earlier, and were ever after persona non grata on both sides of the conflict. (See Alma 25:3-9.) Their numerical contribution to the Lamanite hordes was likely negligible.[46]

Mormon's point seems clear—all the 'Nephites': original Lehi/Nephi descendants, Zarahemla descendants, and any 'others' or client peoples—are nearly numerically matched simply by the descendants of Laman, Lemuel, Ishmael and a variety of Nephite descendants. To this must then be added the manpower "sink" which the Lamanites possess in the form of the 'others' which they control politically.

This is what makes the Lamanite invasion so dangerous, since as defenders the Nephites require fewer men to hold off an attacking army (See Alma 49:1-25, Alma 59:9). If the Nephites were "nearly" outnumbered by all the "Lamanites" (in the broader sense of those under Lamanite political control), then a Lamanite attack would be both foolhardy and of no great worry to a well-entrenched general like Moroni.

The Lamanites' vast numerical superiority is repeatedly emphasized

But, the Lamanites' vast numerical superiority is repeatedly emphasized: (See Alma 43:51, Alma 48:3-4).

Moroni struggles to provide his troops with reinforcements and adequate garrisons (see Alma 52:16-17,Alma 58:3-5, Alma 58:32-36) while the Lamanites can continually field large new armies (see Alma 51:9-11, Alma 52:12, Alma 57:17, Alma 58:5).

The Lamanites even seek to exploit their numerical advantage by opening a two front war (See Alma 52:13, Alma 56:10). This strategy splits their forces and risks defeat in detail, which would be very unwise if they did not enjoy a marked numerical advantage. This advantage is clearly present, since their tactics very nearly succeed (See Alma 52:14, Alma 53:8, Alma 58:2).

In short, Mormon spells the problem out clearly—the Nephites are dramatically outnumbered— and he explains that this is because the Lamanite and dissenter numbers alone nearly match all the Nephite manpower, with the understanding that the client people(s) available as Lamanite manpower tip the balance.

No other reading makes sense of the text, which is rigorously consistent.

Alma refers to the dissident Zoramites, and prays, "O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren"

Alma refers to the dissident Zoramites, and prays, "O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren." (See Alma 31:35). Yet, the Nephites refer to Lamanites, Nephites, and "Mulekites" as their "brethren." (See Mosiah 1:5, Mosiah 7:2-13,Alma 24:7-8). Clearly, the Zoramites are a mixed group of those who immigrated from Palestine and 'others.'

Mormon also mentions another "people who were in the land Bountiful" near the narrow neck that Moroni worries will ally themselves with Nephite enemies (See Alma 52:32).

Demographically, much more is going on here than the critics' skimming of the text reveals.


Response to claim: 8 - The "skin of blackness" is occasionally removed from the Lamanites when they are righteous, and returns to the Lamanites when they become unrighteous

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The "skin of blackness" is occasionally removed from the Lamanites when they are righteous, and returns to the Lamanites when they become unrighteous.

(Author's sources: No source given)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

 Presentism or anachronism: the author (like many members) reads the text through modern lenses, instead of as an ancient document.



Question: What was the Lamanite curse?

The Book of Mormon talks of a curse being placed upon the Lamanites

And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them. 2 Nephi 5:21

It is claimed by some that the Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned, and that "Mormon folklore" claims that Native Americans and Polynesians carry a curse based upon "misdeeds on the part of their ancestors."

One critic asks, "According to the Book of Mormon a dark skin is a curse imposed by God on the unrighteous and their descendants as a punishment for sin. Do you agree with that doctrine? (Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 12:22-23, Alma 3:6, 2 Nephi 5:21-22, Jacob 3:8, 3 Nephi 2:15-16, Mormon 5:15; references to the "Lamanites" are taken to be referring to Native American "Indians".)" [47]

Although the curse of the Lamanites is often associated directly with their skin color, it may be that this was intended in a far more symbolic sense than modern American members traditionally assumed

The curse itself came upon them as a result of their rejection of the Gospel. It was possible to be subject to the curse, and to be given a mark, without it being associated with a change in skin color, as demonstrated in the case of the Amlicites. The curse is apparently a separation from the Lord. A close reading of the Book of Mormon text makes it untenable to consider that literal skin color was ever the "curse." At most, the skin color was seen as a mark, and it may well have been that these labels were far more symbolic and cultural than they were literal.


Question: What do Mormons think about skin color?

There is no official view on such matters and so one could likely find any view if enough historical and modern-day members were asked

Modern science sees skin color as the product of evolutionary change due to a sunlight gradient from the equator to the polar areas. What do Latter-day Saints think about skin color? In short, how an LDS member would answer your question depends on a complex intermingling of various other preconceptions and ideas. There is no official view on such matters and so one could likely find any view if enough historical and modern-day members were asked. Like most other people, many have probably not given the matter much thought from the scientific perspective unless they've had biology studies.

This question would meet with a variety of responses from believing Latter-day Saints. This is something of a complex issue, which requires a fair amount of background in 19th-century LDS history.

Outsiders do not seem to have regarded members of the Church in the 1830s as sharing typical American ideas about race

Outsiders do not seem to have regarded members of the Church in the 1830s as sharing typical American ideas about race. In 1835, a skeptical account of their doctrines and beliefs noted:

As the promulgators of this extraordinary legend maintain the natural equality of mankind, without excepting the native Indians or the African race, there is little reason to be surprised at the cruel persecution by which they have suffered, and still less at the continued accession of converts among those who sympathize with the wrongs of others or seek an asylum for their own.

The preachers and believers of the following doctrines were not likely to remain, unmolested, in the State of Missouri.

“The Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal, &c. He inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness: and he denieth none that come unto him; black and white—bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.” Again: “Behold! the Lamanites, your brethren, whom ye hate, because of their filthiness and the cursings which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father, &c. Wherefore the Lord God will not destroy them; but will be merciful to them; and one day they shall become [58] a blessed people.” “O my brethren, I fear, that, unless ye shall repent of your sins, that their skins shall be whiter than yours, when ye shall be brought with them before the throne of God*. Wherefore a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins,” &c. “The king saith unto him, yea! if the Lord saith unto us, go! we will go down unto our brethren, and we will be their slaves, until we repair unto them the many murders and sins, which we have committed against them. But Ammon saith unto him, it is against the law of our brethren, which was established by my father, that there should any slaves among them. Therefore let us go down and rely upon the mercies of our brethren.”[48]


Response to claim: 8 - The Book of Mormon links the color of a person's skin to morality

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon links the color of a person's skin to morality.

(Author's sources: *2 Nephi 5:21
  • Latter Day Saints' Messenger and Advocate, March 1835)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

 Presentism or anachronism: the author (like many members) reads the text through modern lenses, instead of as an ancient document. Parts of the Book of Mormon directly repudiate this attitude (e.g., Jacob 3:8-9).



Response to claim: 9 - The Book of Mormon promotes the view that the "white race" is superior

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The Book of Mormon promotes the view that the "white race" is superior.

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

 Presentism or anachronism: the author (like many members) reads the text through modern lenses, instead of as an ancient document. Parts of the Book of Mormon directly repudiate this attitude (e.g., Jacob 3:8-9, 2 Nephi 26:33).



Response to claim: 10 - In 1966 the Book of Abraham papyri were discovered

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

In 1966 the Book of Abraham papyri were discovered.

(Author's sources: Charles M. Larson, By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri, 2nd ed., (Grand Rapids, MI: Institute for Religious Research, 1992), no pg. given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Actually, fragments of the papyri were discovered.



Question: What is the relationship of the Joseph Smith Papyri to the Book of Abraham?

In July 1835, Joseph Smith purchased a portion of a collection of papyri and mummies that had been discovered in Egypt and brought to the United States

Believing that one of the papyrus rolls contained, "the writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt," and "purportedly written by his own hand, upon papyrus,"[49] Joseph commenced a translation. The Book of Abraham was the result of his work.

The translated text and facsimiles of three drawings were published in the early 1840s in serial fashion in the LDS newspaper Times and Seasons. The entire work was published in 1852 in England as part of The Pearl of Great Price, which was later canonized as part of LDS scripture.

Joseph Smith had in his possession three or four long scrolls, plus a hypocephalus (Facsimile 2). Of these original materials, only a handful of fragments were recovered at the Metropolitan Museum. The majority of the papyri remains lost, and has likely been destroyed. Critics who claim that we have all, or a majority, of the papyri possessed by Joseph Smith are simply mistaken.

Other than the vignette represented in Facsimile 1, the material on the papyri does not include the actual text of the Book of Abraham

The Egyptian characters on the recovered documents are a portion of the "Book of Breathings," an Egyptian religious text buried with mummies that instructed the dead on how to successfully reach the afterlife. This particular Book of Breathings was written for a deceased man named Hor, so it it usually called the Hor Book of Breathings.

Other than the vignette represented in Facsimile 1, the material on the papyri received by the Church, at least from a standard Egyptological point of view, does not include the actual text of the Book of Abraham. This was discussed in the Church publication, the New Era in January 1968.


Response to claim: 10 - The translation of the papyri does not resemble the Book of Abraham

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The translation of the papyri does not resemble the Book of Abraham.

(Author's sources: *Larson, 1992)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is based upon correct information - The author is providing knowledge concerning some particular fact, subject, or event

Hugh Nibley announced this in the Church magazine within two months of the papyri being given to the Church.



Question: Was the Church forthright in identifying the rediscovered papyrus prior to their examination by non-LDS Egyptologists?

The January 1968 issue of the Improvement Era demonstrates that the Church was very forthright about this issue

The Church announced that the fragments contained a funerary text in the January 1968 Improvement Era (the predecessor to today's Ensign magazine). Of the 11 fragments, one fragment has Facsimile 1, and the other 10 fragments are funerary texts, which the Church claimed from the moment the papyri were rediscovered. There is no evidence that the Church has ever claimed that any of the 10 remaining fragments contain text which is contained in the Book of Abraham.

The critics are telling us nothing new when they dramatically "announce" that the JSP contain Egyptian funerary documents. The Church disseminated this information as widely as possible from the very beginning.

The timeline of events

A review of the time-line of the papyri demonstrates that the Church quickly publicized the nature of the JSP in the official magazine of the time, The Improvement Era.

There were 11 fragments discovered and given to the church. The Church was very quick in releasing this information to the membership and the world.

November 27, 1967
Church receives papyri.
December 10–11, 1967
Deadline to submit material for the January 1968 Improvement Era.
December 26–31, 1967
January 1968 Improvement Era issue mailed to subscribers.[50]
February 1968
Another fragment was discovered in the Church historian's files, and publicized in the February 1968 Improvement Era.[51]
Cover of the January 1968 issue of the Improvement Era, the Church's official magazine of the time. Note the color photograph of the recovered Facsimile 1.


Response to claim: 10 - The denial of the priesthood to the Blacks was based upon the Book of Abraham

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The denial of the priesthood to the Blacks was based upon the Book of Abraham.

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

The use of Abraham as a proof text was a relatively late development.



Question: Do the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon link a person's skin color to their behavior in the pre-existence?

The Book of Mormon does not appear to have been used in a justification for the priesthood ban

It has been claimed that the Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon link a person's skin color to their behavior in the pre-existence. Those who claim that the Book of Mormon is racist often cite Book of Mormon passages like 2 Nephi 5:21-25 and Alma 3:6-10 while ignoring the more representative 2 Nephi 26:33.

The Book of Abraham says nothing about lineages set aside in the pre-existence

Some contend that even though the doctrinal impact of pre-1978 statements have been greatly diminished, the LDS scriptures still retain the passages which were used for proof-texts for the ban and hence cannot be easily dismissed. A parallel can be drawn between Protestant denominations that have historically reversed their scriptural interpretations supporting slavery and a modified LDS understanding of their own scriptures that relate to the priesthood ban. Through more careful scripture reading and attention to scientific studies, many Protestants have come to differ with previous interpretations of Bible passages. A similar rethinking of passages unique to the LDS scriptures, such as Abraham 1:26-27, can be made if one starts by discarding erroneous preconceptions. Sociologist Armand Mauss critiqued former interpretations in a recent address:

[W]e see that the Book of Abraham says nothing about lineages set aside in the pre-existence, but only about distinguished individuals. The Book of Abraham is the only place, furthermore, that any scriptures speak of the priesthood being withheld from any lineage, but even then it is only the specific lineage of the pharaohs of Egypt, and there is no explanation as to why that lineage could not have the priesthood, or whether the proscription was temporary or permanent, or which other lineages, if any, especially in the modern world, would be covered by that proscription. At the same time, the passages in Genesis and Moses, for their part, do not refer to any priesthood proscription, and no color change occurs in either Cain or Ham, or even in Ham's son Canaan, who, for some unexplained reason, was the one actually cursed! There is no description of the mark on Cain, except that the mark was supposed to protect him from vengeance. It's true that in the seventh chapter of Moses, we learn that descendants of Cain became black, but not until the time of Enoch, six generations after Cain, and even then only in a vision of Enoch about an unspecified future time. There is no explanation for this blackness; it is not even clear that we are to take it literally.[52]

Richard L. Bushman, LDS author of a biography of Joseph Smith, writes:

...[T]he fact that [the Lamanites] are Israel, the chosen of God, adds a level of complexity to the Book of Mormon that simple racism does not explain. Incongruously, the book champions the Indians' place in world history, assigning them to a more glorious future than modern American whites.... Lamanite degradation is not ingrained in their natures, ineluctably bonded to their dark skins. Their wickedness is wholly cultural and frequently reversed. During one period, "they began to be a very industrious people; yea, and they were friendly with the Nephites; therefore, they did open a correspondence with them, and the curse of God did no more follow them." (Alma 23:18) In the end, the Lamanites triumph. The white Nephites perish, and the dark Lamanites remain.[53]

One faithful black member, Marcus Martins—also chair of the department of religious education at BYU-Hawaii—has said:

The [priesthood] ban itself was not racist, but, unfortunately, it gave cover to people who were.[54]


Response to claim: 10-11 - The Church publicly taught racist principles in the 1950's

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

* The Church publicly taught racist principles in the 1950's.

(Author's sources: *Mark E. Petersen, "Race Problems—As They Affect the Church," Talk given at Brigham Young University on Aug. 27, 1954)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Some leaders taught ideas that would now be seen as racist. Others did not.
  •  Author(s) impose(s) own fundamentalism on the Saints



Logical Fallacy: Tu Quoque/Appeal to Hypocrisy—The author tries to discredit the validity of someone's position by asserting their failure to act consistently.

The author is determined to represent LDS leaders as either bumbling, ill-informed, manipulative, or overwhelmed. The author never acknowledges that the LDS do not believe in infallibility in their leaders. The author finally admits on p. 205 that there is no official geography—why, then, does he bother to reiterate the views of various leaders as if this were some kind of problem? Since even he agrees there is no official geography, what difference does it make if members and leaders are of differing views, or if they even change their minds?
The work repeats itself on p. 10-11, 38-39., 40., 41., 45., 137., 138., 140., and 142.

Response to claim: 11 - The 1978 revelation allowing all men to hold the priesthood came in response to "public pressure"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

The 1978 revelation allowing all men to hold the priesthood came in response to "public pressure."

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains mistakes and/or errors - The author has stated erroneous or incorrect information or misinterpreted their sources

Social and public pressure was low at the time.



Question: Was the priesthood ban lifted as the result of social or government pressure?

Social pressure was actually on the decline after the Civil Rights movement and coordinated protests at BYU athletic events ceased in 1971

Jan Shipps, a Methodist scholar and celebrated scholar of Mormon history and culture, considers it factual that "this revelation came in the context of worldwide evangelism rather than domestic politics or American social and cultural circumstances." She wrote:

A revelation in Mormondom rarely comes as a bolt from the blue; the process involves asking questions and getting answers. The occasion of questioning has to be considered, and it must be recalled that while questions about priesthood and the black man may have been asked, an answer was not forthcoming in the ‘60s when the church was under pressure about the matter from without, nor in the early ‘70s when liberal Latter-day Saints agitated the issue from within. The inspiration which led President Kimball and his counselors to spend many hours in the Upper Room of the Temple pleading long and earnestly for divine guidance did not stem from a messy situation with blacks picketing the church’s annual conference in Salt Lake City, but was "the expansion of the work of the Lord over the earth." [55]


Response to claim: 12 - Many General Authorities believed that the priesthood prohibition would remain in place until Christ's return

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Many General Authorities believed that the priesthood prohibition would remain in place until Christ's return.

(Author's sources: *No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda and/or spin - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

 Author(s) impose(s) own fundamentalism on the Saints: the Saints do not believe in infallibility of members or leaders.



Response to claim: 12 - Passages in the Book of Mormon were rewritten to "tone down references to skin color"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

Passages in the Book of Mormon were rewritten to "tone down references to skin color."

(Author's sources: 2 Nephi 30:6)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

This change was made by Joseph Smith in 1836.



The work repeats itself on p. 12 and 40.

Question: Why was the phrase "white and delightsome" changed to "pure and delightsome" in the 1840 edition of the Book of Mormon?

This change was originally made in the 1840 edition, lost, and then restored again in the 1981 edition

This change was originally made in the 1840 edition but because subsequent editions were based off the European editions (which followed the 1837 edition), the change did not get perpetuated until the preparation of the 1981 edition. The change is not (as the critics want to portray it) a "recent" change designed to remove a "racist" original.

The idea that the Church has somehow "hidden" the original text or manuscripts of the Book of Mormon in order to hide this is simply unbelievable. Replicas of the 1830 Book of Mormon are easily obtained on Amazon.com, and the text is freely available online. In addition, Royal Skousen has extensively studied the original Book of Mormon manuscripts and published a critical text edition of the Book of Mormon. The claim by the critics that the Church has somehow hidden these items is seriously outdated.

The change in the 1840 edition was probably made by Joseph Smith

This change actually first appeared in the 1840 edition, and was probably made by Joseph Smith:

  • 2 Nephi 30:6 (1830 edition, italics added): "...they shall be a white and a delightsome people."
  • 2 Nephi 30:6 (1840 edition, italics added): "...they shall be a pure and a delightsome people."

The 1837 edition was used for the European editions, which were in turn used as the basis for the 1879 and 1920 editions, so the change was lost until the 1981 edition

This particular correction is part of the changes referred to in the note "About this Edition" printed in the introductory pages:

"Some minor errors in the text have been perpetuated in past editions of the Book of Mormon. This edition contains corrections that seem appropriate to bring the material into conformity with prepublication manuscripts and early editions edited by the Prophet Joseph Smith."

It’s doubtful that Joseph Smith had racism in mind when the change was done in 1840 or other similar verses would have been changed as well.

The "pure" meaning likely reflected the original intent of the passage and translator

Furthermore, "white" was a synonym for "pure" at the time Joseph translated the Book of Mormon:

3. Having the color of purity; pure; clean; free from spot; as white robed innocence....5. Pure; unblemished....6. In a scriptural sense, purified from sin; sanctified. Psalm 51.[56]

Thus, the "pure" meaning likely reflected the original intent of the passage and translator.


Response to claim: 12 - LDS scripture states that those with lighter skin color "are favored because of what they did as spirits in a pre-earth life"

The author(s) of Losing a Lost Tribe make(s) the following claim:

LDS scripture states that those with lighter skin color "are favored because of what they did as spirits in a pre-earth life."

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

Fact checking results: This claim is a falsehood - The author has disseminated false information

This statement is false—there is no LDS scripture that makes this statement. Some LDS drew this conclusion, but it is not in the scripture. It has also been repudiated.



Question: Was the idea that Blacks were neutral in the "war in heaven" ever official doctrine?

The "neutral in the war in heaven" argument was never doctrine. In fact, some Church leaders, starting with Brigham Young, explicitly repudiated the idea

This idea was repudiated well before the priesthood ban was rescinded. President Brigham Young rejected it in an account recorded by Wilford Woodruff in 1869:

Lorenzo Young asked if the Spirits of Negroes were Nutral in Heaven. He said someone said Joseph Smith said they were. President Young said No they were not. There was No Nutral spirits in Heaven at the time of the Rebelion. All took sides. He said if any one said that He Herd the Prophet Joseph Say that the spirits of the Blacks were Nutral in Heaven He would not Believe them for He herd Joseph Say to the Contrary. All spirits are pure that Come from the presence of God. The posterity of Cane are Black Because He Commit Murder. He killed Abel & God set a Mark upon his posterity But the spirits are pure that Enter their tabernacles & there will be a Chance for the redemption of all the Children of Adam Except the Sons of perdition. [57]

The First Presidency under Joseph F. Smith also rejected this idea

there is no revelation, ancient or modern, neither is there any authoritative statement by any of the authorities of the Church … [in support of the idea] that the negroes are those who were neutral in heaven at the time of the great conflict or war, which resulted in the casting out of Lucifer and those who were led by him. [58]

Joseph Smith never taught the idea that those born with black skin were "neutral" during the war in heaven

Brigham Young, when asked this question, repudiated the idea. Wilford Woodruff recorded the following in his journal:

December 25, 1869: I attended the School of the Prophets. Many questions were asked. President Young answered them. Lorenzo Young asked if the spirits of Negroes were neutral in heaven. He said someone said Joseph Smith said they were. President Young said no they were not. There were no neutral spirits in heaven at the time of the rebellion. All took sides. He said if anyone said that he heard the Prophet Joseph say that the spirits of the Blacks were neutral in heaven, he would not believe them, for he heard Joseph say to the contrary. All spirits are pure that come from the presence of God. The posterity of Cain are black because he commit[ted] murder. He killed Abel and God set a mark upon his posterity. But the spirits are pure that enter their tabernacles and there will be a chance for the redemption of all the children of Adam except the sons of perdition. [59]

The idea that anyone who came to earth was "neutral" in the premortal existence is not a doctrine of the Church. Early Church leaders had a variety of opinions regarding the status of blacks in the pre-existence, and some of these were expressed in an attempt to explain the priesthood ban. The scriptures, however, do not explicitly state that the status or family into which we were born on earth had anything to do with our "degree of valiance" in our pre-mortal life.

Other religions would not have had reason for such a teaching because they do not believe in the pre-existence or the "war in heaven."

The scriptures themselves do not state that anyone was neutral in the pre-existence.


Question: Did Church leaders ever teach that Blacks were neutral in the "war in heaven?"

Yes, some Church leaders promoted the idea as a way to explain the priesthood ban

Despite the explicit denial of this concept by Brigham Young, the idea that people born with black skin as a result of their behavior in the pre-existence was used by several 20th century Church leaders in order to try and provide an explanation for the priesthood ban.

The First Presidency, in a statement issued on August 17, 1949, actually attributed the ban to "conduct of spirits in the premortal existence"

The First Presidency stated in 1949:

The position of the Church regarding the Negro may be understood when another doctrine of the Church is kept in mind, namely, that the conduct of spirits in the premortal existence has some determining effect upon the conditions and circumstances under which these spirits take on mortality. [60]

Joseph Fielding Smith said in 1954 that there were no "neutrals in the war in heaven," but that rewards in this life may have "reflected actions taken in the pre-existence

In the 1954 book Doctrines of Salvation (compiled by Bruce R. McConkie), Joseph Fielding Smith stated that "there were no neutrals in the war in heaven," but suggested that the rewards received in this life reflected actions taken in the pre-existence:

NO NEUTRALS IN HEAVEN. There were no neutrals in the war in heaven. All took sides either with Christ or with Satan. Every man had his agency there, and men receive rewards here based upon their actions there, just as they will receive rewards hereafter for deeds done in the body. The Negro, evidently, is receiving the reward he merits. [61]

Bruce R. McConkie said in 1966 that they were "less valiant" in the pre-existence

The most well known of these was the statement made by Bruce R. McConkie in his book Mormon Doctrine. McConkie offered the following opinion:

Those who were less valiant in the pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God and his murder of Abel being a black skin...but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing, based on His eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of spiritual valiance of those concerned in their first estate. [62]

These statements by Church leaders reflected ideas which were prevalent in society during the 1950s and 1960s

These statements by 20th century leaders did not represent thinking that was unique to the Church, but instead reflected ideas which were much more prevalent in society during the 1950's and 1960's.

When the priesthood ban was lifted in 1978, McConkie retracted what he had said previously

Elder McConkie retracted his previous statements regarding the priesthood ban when it was lifted in 1978:

Forget everything I have said, or what...Brigham Young...or whomsoever has said...that is contrary to the present revelation. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world. [63]


Question: Did the Church repudiate the idea of neutrality in the "war in heaven?"

President Kimball was reported as repudiating this idea following the 1978 revelation

Some members and leaders explained the ban as congruent with the justice of God by suggesting that those who were denied the priesthood had done something in the pre-mortal life to deny themselves the priesthood. President Kimball was reported as repudiating this idea following the 1978 revelation:

President Kimball "flatly [stated] that Mormonism no longer holds to...a theory" that Blacks had been denied the priesthood "because they somehow failed God during their pre-existence." [64]

The modern Church rejects this theory

Today, the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form. [65]

Modern Church leaders teach that everyone who came to earth in this day was "valiant" in the premortal existence

Elder M. Russell Ballard, talking of today's youth, said in 2005:

Remind them that they are here at this particular time in the history of the world, with the fulness of the gospel at their fingertips, because they made valiant choices in the premortal existence. [66]


Notes

  1. Ezra Taft Benson, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," Ensign (June 1981).
  2. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 203.
  3. Wilford Woodruff, Conference Report (October 1897), 18-19.
  4. Neil L. Andersen, "Trial of Your Faith," Ensign (November 2012).
  5. "Approaching Mormon Doctrine," LDS Newsroom (May 2007)
  6. Ezra Taft Benson, "Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Prophet," Ensign (June 1981).
  7. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols., (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954–56), 203.
  8. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  9. Robert T. Hatt, “Faunal and archaeological researches in Yucatan caves.” Cranbrook Institute of Science 33 (1953), 1-42.
  10. Joaquin Arroyo-Cabrales and Oscar Polaco, “Caves and the Pleistocene vertebrate paleontology of Mexico.” In B. W. Schubert, J. I. Mead and R. W. Graham (eds.) Ice Age Faunas of North America (Bloomington, Indiana University Press, 2003), 273-291.
  11. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  12. Robert T. Hatt, “Faunal and archaeological researches in Yucatan caves.” Cranbrook Institute of Science 33 (1953),29.
  13. Wade E. Miller and Matthew Roper, "Animals in the Book of Mormon: Challenges and Perspectives," Blog of Interpreter: A Journal of Mormon Scripture (April 21, 2014)
  14. Jehuda. Felilks., “Animals of the Bible and Talmud,” Encyclopaedia Judaica (1996)3:8.
  15. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon, (Ibid), 299; Roper, “Deer as `Goat’ and Pre-Columbian Domesticate,” Insights: An Ancient Window 26/6 (2006), 2-3.
  16. Paul R. Cheesman, The World of the Book of Mormon (Bountiful, UT: Horizon Publishers, 1984), 194, 181.
  17. http://www.strangeark.com/nabr/NABR5.pdf
  18. William J. Hamblin, "Basic Methodological Problems with the Anti-Mormon Approach to the Geography and Archaeology of the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 2/1 (1993): 161–197. wiki off-site GL direct link
  19. John Tvedtnes, “The Nature of Prophets and Prophecy” (unpublished, 1994), 29-30 (copy in Mike Ash’s possession); Benjamin Urrutia, “Lack of Animal Remains at Bible and Book-of-Mormon Sites,” Newsletter and Proceedings of the Society for Early Historic Archaeology, 150 (August 1982), 3-4.
  20. "Horses in the Book of Mormon" (Provo: Utah, FARMS, 2000). off-site
  21. Clay E. Ray, “Pre-Columbian Horses from Yucatan,” Journal of Mammalogy 38:2 (1957), 278.
  22. http://www.ansp.org/museum/leidy/paleo/equus.php)
  23. Mike Ash notes that this story was told at the Q&A session following Dr. Sorenson’s presentation, “The Trajectory of Book of Mormon Studies,” 2 August 2007 at the 2007 FAIR Conference; audio and video in author’s possession.
  24. John Clark during Q&A session following Dr. Clark’s presentation, “Archaeology, Relics, and Book of Mormon Belief,” 25 May 2004 at BYU; audio of Q&A in author Mike Ash's possession.
  25. "Amaranth," and "Pseudograin," Wikipedia, accessed 28 June 2014.
  26. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 184-185.
  27. Jonathan D. Sauer, "The Grain Amaranths: A Survey of Their History and Classification," Missouri Botanical Garden Annals 37 (1950):561-632. George F. Carter, "Domesticates as Artifacts," in The Human Mirror: Material and Spatial images of Man, ed. Miles Richardson (Baton Rouge: Louisiana Stage University Press, 1974), pp. 212-13. (Sorenson, Chapter 5, endnote 65. Note: This is erroneously indicated in the text as endnote 64).
  28. John L. Sorenson and Robert F. Smithh, "Barley in Ancient America," in Reexploring the Book of Mormon, edited by John W. Welch (Provo, Utah: FARMS, 1992), Chapter 36.
  29. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 285.
  30. Richard A. Diehl, The Olmecs: America's First Civilization (Thames & Hudson, 2004), 93–94. FairMormon link
  31. John B. Carlson, "Lodestone Compass: Chinese or Olmec Primacy? Multidisciplinary Analysis of an Olmec Hematite Artifact from San Lorenzo, Veracruz, Mexico," Science 189, No. 4205 (5 September 1975): 753-760.
  32. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 284.
  33. H.H. Bancroft, The Native Races (of the Pacific States), vol. 2 (San Francisco: A. L. Bancroft and Co., 1882), pp. 407-8.
  34. Rene Rebetez, Objetos Prehispanicos de Hierro Y Piedra (Mexico: Libreria Anticuaria, n.d.).
  35. Sigvald Linne, Mexican Highland Cultures, Ethnographical Museum of Sweden, Publication 7, n.s. (Stockholm, 1942), p. 132.
  36. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 285.
  37. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]), 283.
  38. Yigael Yadin, The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands 1:10—11.
  39. William J. Hamblin, "Steel in the Book of Mormon," FairMormon link
  40. Claire G. Goodman, Copper Artifacts in Late Eastern Woodlands Prehistory, edited by Anne-Marie Cantwell, (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Center for American Archaeology, 1984), 73.
  41. John L. Sorenson, An Ancient American Setting for the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, Utah : Deseret Book Co. ; Provo, Utah : Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, 1996 [1985]),279–280.
  42. Matthew Roper, "Swords and "Cimeters" in the Book of Mormon," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 8/1 (1999): 34–43. wiki
  43. Diego Durán, The History of the Indies of New Spain, trans. Doris Heyden (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1994), 66, 76, 109, 135, 139, 150, 152–53, 171, 198, 279, 294, 323, 375, 378, 412, 428, 437, 441, 451, 519, 552–53; Diego Durán, Book of the Gods and Rites and the Ancient Calendar, trans. Doris Heyden and Fernando Horcasitas (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1971), 124, 178–80, 234, 236; The macuahuitl "was equivalent to the sword of the Old Continent"; Francesco S. Clavijero, The History of Mexico, trans. Charles Cullen, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: Budd and Bartram, 1804), 2:165. Cited in Matthew Roper, "Eyewitness Descriptions of Mesoamerican Swords," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 5/1 (1996): 150–158. wiki See footnotes 4-5.
  44. Over a dozen examples are cited in Matthew Roper, "Eyewitness Descriptions of Mesoamerican Swords," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 5/1 (1996): 150–158. wiki This example comes from Bernal Diaz, The Conquest of New Spain, trans. J. M. Cohen (New York: Penguin Books, 1963), 145.
  45. P. Marcou, "Procédé des Aztèques pour la taille par éclatement des couteaux ou rasoirs d'obsidienne," trans. by Edward B. Tylor [check spelling], Journal de la Société des Americanistas de Paris 13 (1921): 19; cited in Matthew Roper, "On Cynics and Swords (Review of Of Cities and Swords: The Impossible Task of Mormon Apologetics)," FARMS Review of Books 9/1 (1997): 146–158. off-site
  46. An alternate explanation is that the Amulonites have also assimilated their own client peoples, increasisng their numbers. This is suggested in John L. Sorenson, "When Lehi's Party Arrived in the Land Did They Find Others There?," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 1/1 (1992): 1–34. wikiGL direct link
  47. Richard Abanes, Becoming Gods: A Closer Look at 21st-Century Mormonism (Harvest House Publishers: 2005). 73, 367 n.138. ( Index of claims ); Fawn M. Brodie, No Man Knows My History: The Life of Joseph Smith (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1945), 43. ( Index of claims );Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Cults (Revised) (Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1997), 193, 235. ( Index of claims );Richard Packham, "Questions for Mitt Romney," 2008.;Simon Southerton, Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books, 2004) 40, 184. ( Index of claims )
  48. E.S. Abdy, Journal of a Residence and Tour in the United States of North America, from April, 1833, to October, 1834, 3 Vols., (London: John Murray, 1835), 3:57-58 (emphasis added). off-site
  49. Joseph Smith, History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 7 volumes, edited by Brigham H. Roberts, (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1957), 2:235, 236, 348–351. 236, 348 Volume 2 link
  50. Jay M. Todd, "Egyptian Papyri Rediscovered," Improvement Era (January 1968), 12–16.
  51. Jay M. Todd, "New Light on Joseph Smith's Egyptian Papyri: Additional Fragment Disclosed," Improvement Era (February 1968), 40.; Jay M. Todd, "Background of the Church Historian's Fragment," Improvement Era (February 1968), 40A–40I.
  52. Armand L. Mauss, "The LDS Church and the Race Issue: A Study in Misplaced Apologetics", FAIR Conference 2003 FairMormon link, #2 FairMormon link
  53. Richard L. Bushman, Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling (New York: Knopf, 2005), 99.
  54. Marcus Martins, "A Black Man in Zion: Reflections on Race in the Restored Gospel" (2006 FAIR Conference presentation).
  55. Jan Shipps, "The Mormons: Looking Forward and Outward" Christian Century (Aug. 16-23, 1978), 761–766 off-site
  56. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (New York: S. Converse, 1828), s.v. "white."
  57. Wilford Woodruff, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 9 vols., ed., Scott G. Kenny (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 1985), 6:511 (journal entry dated 25 December 1869). ISBN 0941214133.
  58. First Presidency letter from Joseph F. Smith, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose, to M. Knudson, 13 Jan. 1912.
  59. Wilford Woodruff's Journal, entry dated Dec. 25, 1869.
  60. First Presidency Statement (George Albert Smith), August 17, 1949. off-site
  61. Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954) , 1:65-66. (emphasis in original)
  62. Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (1966), p. 527.
  63. Bruce R. McConkie, "New Revelation on Priesthood," Priesthood (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1981), 126-137.
  64. Kimball, Lengthen Your Stride, chapter 24, page 3; citing Richard Ostling, "Mormonism Enters a New Era," Time (7 August 1978): 55. Ostling told President Kimball's biographer and son that this was a paraphrase, but an accurate reporting of what he had been told (see footnote 13, citing interview on 10 May 2001).
  65. "Race and the Priesthood," Gospel Topics, lds.org. (2013) off-site
  66. M. Russell Ballard, "One More," Ensign, May 2005, p. 69.