Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism 101/Quote mining

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Mormonism 101: Quote mining

A FairMormon Analysis of: Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Mormonism 101, a work by author: Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson

Response to Mormonism 101, Quote mining

Summary: The authors mine their sources by extracting quotes from their context in order to make the statement imply something other that what it was originally intended to mean.


Many critics who write about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not content to portray the Church and its doctrines fairly. Some critics mine their sources by extracting quotes from their context in order to make the statement imply something other that what it was originally intended to mean. Other critics make statements that are self-contradictions—instances in which a critic says or writes one thing, and then makes another statement elsewhere that flatly contradicts their first statement.

These examples do not prove that these critics' arguments are without merit; they do suggest caution is warranted before accepting these authors or their works as reliable witnesses when they speak of their own experiences connected with "Mormonism." In particular, one should also be cautious about accepting their interpretation of primary sources without double-checking the original sources themselves.

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You may inquire of the intelligent of the world whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation...When the Lord has a people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break the covenants he has made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites and other portions of the house of Israel; but by-and-by they will become a white and delightsome people

You may inquire of the intelligent of the world whether they can tell why the aborigines of this country are dark, loathsome, ignorant, and sunken into the depths of degradation; and they cannot tell. I can tell you in a few words: They are the seed of Joseph, and belong to the household of God; and he will afflict them in this world, and save every one of them hereafter, even though they previously go into hell. When the Lord has a people, he makes covenants with them and gives unto them promises: then, if they transgress his law, change his ordinances, and break the covenants he has made with them, he will put a mark upon them, as in the case of the Lamanites and other portions of the house of Israel; but by-and-by they will become a white and delightsome people

  • McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books), 235. ISBN 0801063353

Commentary

  • Trying to paint this as a racist statement, the authors excise the portion that points to Brigham's exalted long-term view of Amerindians (which contrast very favorably with other attitudes of the day).
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Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species and put them on a national equalization.

At five went to Mr. Sollars' with Elders Hyde and Richards. Elder Hyde inquired the situation of the negro. I replied, they came into the world slaves, mentally and physically. Change their situation with the whites, and they would be like them. They have souls, and are subjects of salvation. Go into Cincinnati or any city, and find an educated negro, who rides in his carriage, and you will see a man who has risen by the powers of his own mind to his exalted state of respectability. The slaves in Washington are more refined than many in high places, and the black boys will take the shine off many of those they brush and wait on.

Elder Hyde remarked, "Put them on the level, and they will rise above me." I replied, if I raised you to be my equal, and then attempted to oppress you, would you not be indignant and try to rise above me, as did Oliver Cowdery, Peter Whitmer, and many others, who said I was a fallen Prophet, and they were capable of leading the people, although I never attempted to oppress them, but had always been lifting them up?
Had I anything to do with the negro, I would confine them by strict law to their own species, and put them on a national equalization.

  • McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books), 238. ISBN 0801063353
  • 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), 5:217–218. Volume 5 link

Commentary

  • The authors hide Joseph's true feelings about the sources of blacks' current 'inferiority' (i.e. cultural and situational, not inherent) and try to make him appear 'racist,' when his views are far more liberal.
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Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.

Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so...If the Government of the United States, in Congress assembled, had the right to pass an anti-polygamy bill, they had also the right to pass a law that slaves should not be abused as they have been; they had also a right to make a law that negroes should be used like human beings, and not worse than dumb brutes. For their abuse of that race, the whites will be cursed, unless they repent.

  • McKeever and Johnson, Mormonism 101, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books), 241. ISBN 0801063353

Commentary

  • Brigham's insistence on death for whites having sexual relationships with blacks should be understood in its historical context. The only time such relationships would occur in a slave-holding society was under duress—when the white forced the black. Brigham's basic humanity and compassion for the suffering in this case, despite views which strike us as racist, are omitted by the authors.