Criticism of Mormonism/Books/Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church/Chapter 3

Table of Contents

Response to claims made in "Chapter 3: Lamanites in the Latter Days"

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
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Response to claims made in Losing a Lost Tribe, "Chapter 3: Lamanites in the Latter Days"

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Response to claim: 37 - Mormonism does not assign value to native cultures, their histories or mythologies

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

Mormonism does not assign value to native cultures, their histories or mythologies.

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

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

This is a false claim.



Question: Does the Church disregard people's own cultural traditions?

Sometimes acceptance of the restored Gospel requires a convert to put aside traditions which have been culturally ingrained

It is claimed that the Church disregards people's own cultural traditions, and that it does not assign any value to native cultures, their histories or mythologies.

Sometimes acceptance of the restored Gospel requires a convert to put aside traditions which have been culturally ingrained. This is not an effort on the part of the Church to destroy someone's traditions, but rather a willing change on the part of the convert to live the principles of the Gospel. Where native cultural traditions are uplifting, the Church promotes them, such as the case with the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii.

To claim that the Church has no regard for diverse local cultural traditions is painting with a very broad brush

To claim that the Church has no regard for diverse local cultural traditions is painting with a very broad brush. There are many types of cultural traditions. Some are good and uplifting, and some are not. The Church does not attempt to "homogenize" its membership in various parts of the world. The style of worship may vary, but the principles of the restored Gospel are the same in any part of the world. Certain practices that are traditional may be incompatible with or prevent acceptance of the Gospel, which others may actually fit nicely with new beliefs.

Some cultural religious traditions prevent acceptance of the Gospel

[T]wo realities hamper the growth of the Church: traditions and poverty. The first reality, deeply held cultural traditions, discourages individual family members from changing religions. “Life will be different for someone who joins the Church,” says Elder John B. Dickson, President of the South American South Area until August 1997. “They will need to learn new religious traditions.” In a country rich with tradition, change comes only with sacrifice, and in the past many new members found the obstacles overwhelming.[1]

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The Indian citizens of Fiji also have strong cultural traditions. Many Indian parents do not allow their children to date, and arranged marriages are common. When a woman is married, she becomes a member of her husband’s family and a servant in her mother-in-law’s home. While she lives there, her father-in-law has the final say on what she does. This may hinder a young woman from joining the Church, even though her husband, who is not required to secure his father’s permission, does join. Most Fijians of Indian descent are Hindu, and some Indian Church members are ostracized when they give up the beliefs their families have held for generations. “My personal philosophy,” says Peter Lee, a counselor in the Fiji Suva Mission presidency, “is that if one’s culture is not going to hinder progress, then we should keep it. But if it’s a tradition that will hinder the work of the Lord, we need to take a stand on what we should or should not do. Otherwise we’ll never move forward.”[2]

Some cultural traditions are not compatible with the Gospel

Many people’s dispositions mirror the cultural traditions that they internalized while growing up. The widespread consumption of alcohol, immodesty of dress and behavior, and cohabitation without marriage are but a few examples of cultural traditions alien to the spirit of the gospel. So it is that the “wicked one cometh and taketh away light and truth, through disobedience, from the children of men, and because of the tradition of their fathers” (D&C 93:39). These traditions seem natural because most people in a given society engage in such behaviors, but the commandments of God are based upon revealed truth, not popular preferences. Thus, King Benjamin warned his people that “the natural man is an enemy to God,” and he exhorted them to put off the natural man, or in other words to reject unholy traditions and to undergo a mighty change in their natural dispositions by yielding “to the enticings of the Holy Spirit” (Mosiah 3:19).[3]

Some cultural traditions can be integrated with the Gospel

Mormonism had a familiar ring to the Maoris. It must be remembered that by the time LDS doctrine was introduced to the Maoris, they were but one or two generations removed from their pre-Christian religion. Although most Maoris had given up the past, they still remembered many of their old traditions and practices. Even before Mormonism, the Maoris had turned to millennial faiths and various adjustment cults in an effort, generally a conscious one, to bridge the gap from the past to the present. Mormonism, too, emphasized the coming time of peace which would be ushered in by the Savior. Of great importance to the Maoris, as they discovered Mormonism and used it to make the adjustment to the pakeha world, was that the elders did not reject Maoritanga, Maori cultural traditions, in their entirety. The missionaries, too, believed that the Maoris were being brought again into a fold from which they had strayed, but from which they had not wandered too far.[4]

Some cultural traditions facilitate acceptance of the Gospel

Two cultural traditions make the gospel “good news” to the Koreans: their religious beliefs and their great family love. Korea has a popular religion, established in 1909, called Dae jong. The beliefs, theologies, and teachings of this religion are very similar to those of Christianity. For example, Dae jong teaches that there are many gods, but one is most high and glorious. His son (Dan koon) acting as his mediator, is the spiritual source of help to the people. These ideas remind us of our Christian concept of Deity.[5]


Response to claim: 37 - The Lamanite "family" has expanded to include Native Americans and Polynesians

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

The Lamanite "family" has expanded to include Native Americans and Polynesians.

(Author's sources: Gospel Principles, 1997, p. 268.)

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

Actually, the Lamanite family has always included Native Americans and Polynesians.



Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Ridicule—The author is presenting the argument in such a way that it makes his or her subject look ridiculous, usually by misrepresenting the argument or exaggerating it.

Taking the position that Lehi existed, then population genetics predicts that virtually all Amerindians and Polynesians are his literal descendants. They are simply not exclusively his descendants. The author wants to make Lehite links absurd or impossible.

Response to claim: 38 -The patriarchal blessings of Native Americans and Polynesians often state that they are of the tribe of Manasseh (through Lehi)

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

The patriarchal blessings of Native Americans and Polynesians often state that they are of the tribe of Manasseh (through Lehi).

(Author's sources: Alma 10:3)

FairMormon Response

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

This is not at all unreasonable.



Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Ridicule—The author is presenting the argument in such a way that it makes his or her subject look ridiculous, usually by misrepresenting the argument or exaggerating it.

Taking the position that Lehi existed, then population genetics predicts that virtually all Amerindians and Polynesians are his literal descendants. They are simply not exclusively his descendants. The author wants to make Lehite links absurd or impossible.

Question: Why do modern day prophets and Church members in general believe that Polynesians are Lamanites?

Book of Mormon Central, KnoWhy #171: Why Did Mormon Mention Hagoth? (Video)

This belief, at least in part, that Polynesians are Lamanites stems from the story of Hagoth in the Book of Mormon

Many Latter-day prophets and apostles have stated that the inhabitants of the islands of the Pacific are considered to be Lamanites. This belief, at least in part, stems from the story of Hagoth in the Book of Mormon, who built ships which eventually carried an undetermined number of people to geographical regions outside the scope of the Book of Mormon narrative. Critics insist, however, that modern evidence, including DNA data, precludes the islanders from being descendants of Book of Mormon people.

The story of Hagoth in the Book of Mormon talks of groups of people who set sail in ships and were never seen again

The Book of Mormon talks of groups of people who set sail in ships and were never seen again.

And it came to pass that Hagoth, he being an exceedingly curious man, therefore he went forth and built him an exceedingly large ship, on the borders of the land Bountiful, by the land Desolation, and launched it forth into the west sea, by the narrow neck which led into the land northward.

And behold, there were many of the Nephites who did enter therein and did sail forth with much provisions, and also many women and children; and they took their course northward. And thus ended the thirty and seventh year.

And in the thirty and eighth year, this man built other ships. And the first ship did also return, and many more people did enter into it; and they also took much provisions, and set out again to the land northward.

And it came to pass that they were never heard of more. And we suppose that they were drowned in the depths of the sea. And it came to pass that one other ship also did sail forth; and whither she did go we know not. Alma 63:5-8

This story has traditionally been used to explain why the Pacific islanders are considered to be Lamanites.

Statements by Church leaders have reflected this belief that the Polynesians are Lamanaites

Elder Spencer W. Kimball, while he was the Acting President of the Council of the Twelve, said in 1971,

With pride I tell those who come to my office that a Lamanite is a descendant of one Lehi who left Jerusalem some 600 years before Christ and with his family crossed the mighty deep and landed in America. And Lehi and his family became the ancestors of all of the Indian and Mestizo tribes in North and South and Central America and in the islands of the sea, for in the middle of their history there were those who left America in ships of their making and went to the islands of the sea…they are in nearly all the islands of the sea from Hawaii south to southern New Zealand…Today we have many Lamanite leaders in the Church. For example, in Tonga, where 20 percent of all the people in the islands belong to the Church, we have three large stakes. Two of them are presided over wholly by Lamanites and the other almost wholly by them. There are three stakes in Samoa and another is to be organized in those small Samoan islands. Four more stakes with Lamanite leaders![6]

The approach by the critics, therefore, is very simple: If the islanders can be proven to have no connection to the New World, then Polynesians cannot be considered to be Lamanites. The statements made by Elder Kimball and other Church leaders would therefore be incorrect, thus proving that these leaders are not inspired. Proving a negative, however, is extremely difficult to do. Many critics' arguments against the Book of Mormon rely upon proving that something does not exist. In the case of Polynesia, there is at least one well known anomaly, the presence of the New World plant the Sweet Potato, tying Polynesia to the New World that is acknowledged by non-LDS scientists.


Response to claim: 38-39 - Modern day prophets repeatedly declare Native Americans and Polynesians to be descendants of Lehi

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

Modern day prophets repeatedly declare Native Americans and Polynesians to be descendants of Lehi.

(Author's sources: *Gordon B. Hinckley, Church News, Mar. 13, 1999. (Colonia Juarez Chihuahua Temple dedication)
  • James E. Faust, Church News, Mar. 18, 2000. (Tuxtla Gutierrez Mexico Temple dedication)
  • Thomas S. Monson, Church News, May 27, 2000. (Villahermosa Mexico Temple dedication)
  • Gordon B. Hinckley, Church News, Aug. 7, 1999. (Guayaquil Ecuador Temple dedication)
  • Gordon B. Hinckley, Church News, May 13, 2000. (Cochabamba Bolivia Temple dedication))

FairMormon Response

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

That's because they are: If Lehi had any descendants, then all Amerindians are his descendants. Lehi is among their ancestors.



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.

Gospel Topics: "The Book of Mormon...does not claim that the peoples it describes were either the predominant or the exclusive inhabitants of the lands they occupied"

"Book of Mormon and DNA Studies," Gospel Topics on LDS.org:

The Book of Mormon provides little direct information about cultural contact between the peoples it describes and others who may have lived nearby. Consequently, most early Latter-day Saints assumed that Near Easterners or West Asians like Jared, Lehi, Mulek, and their companions were the first or the largest or even the only groups to settle the Americas. Building upon this assumption, critics insist that the Book of Mormon does not allow for the presence of other large populations in the Americas and that, therefore, Near Eastern DNA should be easily identifiable among modern native groups.

The Book of Mormon itself, however, does not claim that the peoples it describes were either the predominant or the exclusive inhabitants of the lands they occupied. In fact, cultural and demographic clues in its text hint at the presence of other groups.6 At the April 1929 general conference, President Anthony W. Ivins of the First Presidency cautioned: “We must be careful in the conclusions that we reach. The Book of Mormon … does not tell us that there was no one here before them [the peoples it describes]. It does not tell us that people did not come after.[7]


Response to claim: 40 - The Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned==

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

The Church believed that Lamanites who accepted the Gospel would become light-skinned.

(Author's sources:
  • 3 Nephi 2:14-16
  • Spencer W. Kimball, "The Day of the Lamanites," The Improvement Era, December 1960, 922-923.)

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 believed this. Leaders were in some cases unaware of a clarification made by Joseph Smith in 1836.



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.
The work repeats itself on p. 12 and 40.

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".)" [8]

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: Did some Church leaders believe that the skin of the Lamanites would turn white?

Some Church leaders, most notably Spencer W. Kimball, made statements indicating that they believed that the Indians were becoming "white and delightsome"

Once such statement made by Elder Kimball in the October 1960 General Conference, 15 years before he became president of the Church:

I saw a striking contrast in the progress of the Indian people today ... they are fast becoming a white and delightsome people.... For years they have been growing delightsome, and they are now becoming white and delightsome, as they were promised.... The children in the home placement program in Utah are often lighter than their brothers and sisters in the hogans on the reservation. [9]

President Kimball felt that the Indians were becoming a “white and delightsome” people through the power of God as a result their acceptance of the Gospel. This was not an uncommon belief at the time. At the time that this statement was made by Elder Kimball, the Book of Mormon did indeed say "white and delightsome." This passage is often quoted relative to the lifting of the curse since the phrase "white and delightsome" was changed to "pure and delightsome" in the 1840 (and again in the 1981) editions of the Book of Mormon. The edit made by Joseph Smith in 1840 in which this phrase was changed to "pure and delightsome" had been omitted from subsequent editions, which were actually based upon the 1837 edition rather than the 1840 edition. The modification was not restored again until the 1981 edition with the following explanation:

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.

Is the lifting of the curse associated with a change in skin color?

The Lamanites are promised that if they return to Christ, that "the scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes:"

And the gospel of Jesus Christ shall be declared among them; wherefore, they shall be restored unto the knowledge of their fathers, and also to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which was had among their fathers.

And then shall they rejoice; for they shall know that it is a blessing unto them from the hand of God; and their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a pure and a delightsome people.2 Nephi 30:5-6

The Book of Mormon indicates that the lifting of the curse of the Lamanites was the removal of the "scales of darkness" from their eyes

It seems evident from the passage in 2 Nephi that the lifting of the curse of the Lamanites was the removal of the "scales of darkness" from their eyes. It is sometimes indicated that Lamanites who had converted to the Gospel and thus had the curse lifted also had the mark removed. If the mark was more in the eyes of the Nephites than in a physical thing like actual skin color, its removal is even more easily understood.

And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites; And their young men and their daughters became exceedingly fair, and they were numbered among the Nephites, and were called Nephites. And thus ended the thirteenth year. 3 Nephi 2:15-16

As with the invocation of the curse followed by the application of the mark, this passage indicates that the curse was revoked and the mark was removed when the Lamanites' skin "became white like unto the Nephites." The Book of Mormon makes no mention of any change in skin color as the result of the conversion of Helaman's 2000 warriors, yet these Lamanites and their parents had committed themselves to the Lord, and were often more righteous than the Nephites were.

Thus, although a change in skin color is sometimes mentioned in conjunction with the lifting of the curse, it does not appear to always have been the case. And, as discussed above, it may well be that Nephite ideas about skin were more symbolic or rhetorical than literal/racial. This perspective harmonizes all the textual data, and explains some things (like the native Lamanite and his band of Nephite troops deceiving the Lamanites) that a literal view of the skin color mark does not.

Leaders were probably unaware of a change made by Joseph Smith to the first edition text

Joseph Smith altered the phrase "white and delightsome" (in 2 Nephi 30:6) to "pure and delightsome" in the second edition of the Book of Mormon. This change was lost to LDS readers until the 1981 edition of the scriptures. It may, however, demonstrate that Joseph Smith intended the translation to refer to spiritual state, not literal skin color per se.


Response to claim: 41 - A general authority claimed that the writings of Ixtlilxochitl corroborated the Book of Mormon

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

A general authority claimed that the writings of Ixtlilxochitl corroborated the Book of Mormon.

(Author's sources: Milton R. Hunter, sometime in the 1960's.)

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

So what? This is not Church doctrine: it was the personal opinion of the individual who expressed it.



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: 42 - Most Mormons are unaware that the New World has been continuously inhabited for 14,000 years

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

Most Mormons are unaware that the New World has been continuously inhabited for 14,000 years.

(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

This is simply the author's own opinion, and there is no data to back up his claim. Do Mormons differ substantially from others? Do "most Americans" know this? Most people in the world?



Logical Fallacy: Bandwagon (Appeal to the Masses)—The author believes that this claim is true simply because all of his or her buddies believe that it is true, despite the lack of actual evidence supporting it.

The author frequently makes claims about what "most Mormons" believe. How does he know? What surveys has he done? The author strives to portray members as gullible, ill-informed, confused, and manipulated. But, he presents no evidence save his opinion. Why ought members trust someone who obviously has such a low opinion of them?
The work repeats itself on p. 42, 135., 135-136., 136., 137., 142., 143., 197., 200., and 202-203.

Response to claim: 42 - The New World shows no sign of having experienced a universal flood

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

The New World shows no sign of having experienced a universal flood.

(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

Belief in a global flood, as opposed to a local one, is not a requirement to be a member of the Church in good standing.



Logical Fallacy: Composition—The author assumes that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole.

The Church has no official position on the extent of Noah's Flood. Just because some members and leaders believe that the Flood was global in scope does not mean that everyone believes it.
The work repeats itself on p. 30, 42., and 203.

Question: How do Latter-day Saints reconcile scriptural accounts of the Flood of Noah with scientific evidence of continuous human habitation on the earth?

There is scientific evidence of diversity of species, language and of continuous human habitation

Modern scientific knowledge regarding the diversity of species, language and evidence of continuous human habitation does not support the Biblical story that a global flood wiped out most life as recently as 4,400 years ago.

The following criticisms are often applied to Latter-day Saint (or traditional Christian beliefs) regarding the Flood:

  • It is claimed that LDS scriptures require Mormons to believe in a global flood, and that if LDS doctrine or leaders are fallible in their statements concerning the flood, then they must be wrong about other Church doctrines as well.
  • If Noah's Flood was not global, how do we account for Joseph Smith's claim that the Garden of Eden was located in Missouri?
  • Isn't it true that before the flood all the continents were all one land mass, since the Bible says that the earth was "divided in the days of Peleg."

Latter-day Saints believe that Noah existed, and that he built an ark to save his family from a flood, and that the flood occurred

There are a number of basic teachings which we all accept regardless of the global or local scope of the Flood:

  • There existed a prophet named Noah.
  • Noah was commanded by the Lord to construct an ark.
  • Noah warned the people of the impending deluge.
  • The Flood was a literal event which did indeed occur.
  • Noah, his family and the animals he collected were saved from the deluge.
  • The Lord made a covenant with Noah and his descendants.

Whether the Flood covered the entire earth, or whether it only covered Noah's world, makes no difference

Latter-day Saints believe that the prophet Noah existed, and that he was commanded to build an ark and save his family from a flood. A belief that this flood was global in nature is not a requirement for Latter-day Saints; traditionally, many earlier members and leaders endorsed the global flood views common in society and Christendom generally. The accumulation of additional scientific information have led some to conclude that a local flood — one limited to the area in which Noah lived — is the best explanation of the available data. People of either view can be members in good standing.


Response to claim: 42 - The Church employs apologists to defend the "myths" surrounding the Book of Mormon

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

The Church employs apologists to defend the "myths" surrounding the Book of Mormon.

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

FairMormon Response

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

The Church does not employ any apologists to defend "myths" surrounding the Book of Mormon.



This is a repeat of a claim on p. xv.

Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Emotion—The author attempts to manipulate the reader's emotional response instead of presenting a valid argument.

<Rather than interact with arguments the author labels "apologetic" (i.e., any interpretation which does not suit his naive view of the matter), the author hopes to marginalize them and reject them from consideration by claiming they are somehow novel, contrary to the Book of Mormon's plain meaning, or driven by desperation.

Many statements indicate that these ideas are generally not novel, and were certainly developed well before any pressure from DNA arguments—they arose from the Book of Mormon text itself.

The work repeats itself on p. xv, 42., 143., 148., 200., 203., and 206.

Question: Do Latter-day Saint apologists receive compensation for their efforts?

Don't give up your "day job": There are no paid positions in Latter-day Saint apologetics

Those who wish to achieve a substantial level of income would be well advised to avoid LDS apologetics entirely, as it can consume substantial amounts of a person's "off-time." Most LDS apologists perform volunteer work to defend the faith while holding down their normal "day job."

Members of FairMormon are not paid for their efforts

FairMormon is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, and all of its members, with the exception of the part-time Bookstore manager, are unpaid volunteers.

All efforts devoted to FairMormon are performed only after its members spend time with their families, perform their "day job," and fulfill church responsibilities. FairMormon is not, and should not be, the top priority in any of its members' lives. This means that the work sometimes proceeds slowly, but it does proceed forward.

Having a "day job" with a Church sponsored institution does not preclude one from practicing apologetics

Some individuals who practice LDS apologetics happen to be employed by institutions sponsored by the Church: The primary institution being Brigham Young University. In this situation, their "day job" involves researching or teaching subjects which may or may not relate to subjects of interest to apologetics...which ought not to surprise anyone at all. Thus, critics attempt to argue that some LDS apologists, particularly BYU professors, are "paid" for their apologetic efforts. Critics congratulate themselves for achieving a firm understanding of the obvious: Individuals who happen to have a "day job" with a Church sponsored institution receive their paycheck from that same institution. Having a "day job" with a Church sponsored institution does not preclude one from practicing apologetics.


Response to claim: 43 - Members are encouraged not to try and determine where the Book of Mormon occurred

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

Members are encouraged not to try and determine where the Book of Mormon occurred.

(Author's sources: No source given.)

FairMormon Response

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

The Church takes no position at all regarding members trying to determine where the Book of Mormon occurred.



Logical Fallacy: Black-or-White—The author presents two alternative states as the only two possibilities, when more possibilities exist.

Members are encouraged not to focus on the geography to the exclusion of the Book's more important spiritual message. BYU and FARMS (now the Maxwell Institute) have published a great deal of member scholarship on geography, however. If the Church opposed this, it could easily be stopped.

Ironically, the author knows that there is no official geography (see p. 205) but continues to act as if it scandalous that the Church does not preach a non-official idea as official—perhaps hoping we will conclude that the model he describes is the official one which the Church dare not renounce.

The work repeats itself on p. 43, 142., and 205.

Response to claim: 45 - Church leaders "seem reluctant or powerless to curtail" the belief among Mesoamerican and South American saints that they are descendants of the Lamanites

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

Church leaders "seem reluctant or powerless to curtail" the belief among Mesoamerican and South American saints that they are descendants of the Lamanites.

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

FairMormon Response

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.

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

Why would the Church wish to curtail such a belief, when all South American saints are descendants of Lehi if any descendants exist?



Question: Are all Amerindians the exclusive descendants of the Book of Mormon prophet Lehi?

Even critics of the Church acknowledge that their criticisms are based upon the assumption that Amerindians are the exclusive descendants of Lehi

In their more candid moments, those who present this argument concede that their criticisms revolve around a key assumption. One critic of the Church writes of how some Mormons have argued that

Bottleneck effect, genetic drift, Hardy-Weinberg violations and other technical problems would prevent us from detecting Israelite genes [in Amerindians].[10]

This is a technical way of explaining a relatively simple fact: if a small group is placed in contact with a larger group and allowed to intermarry, it becomes harder to detect the small group’s “genetic signature.”

It is as if one placed a teaspoon of red dye in an Olympic swimming pool, mixed well, and then withdrew a sample. Critics are in the position of someone who complains loudly because the sampled water does not seem to be “red”!

The same critic of the Church then goes on to say:

I agree entirely. [!] In 600 BC there were probably several million American Indians living in the Americas. If a small group of Israelites entered such a massive native population it would be very, very hard to detect their genes 200, 2000 or even 20,000 years later. But does such a scenario fit with what the Book of Mormon plainly states or what the prophets have taught for 175 years? Short answer. No! Long answer. Nooo![10]

This is really quite astonishing. The critic has obliged us by shooting himself in the foot. He admits that there are many genetic objections to his attack, unless we accept that the American Indians are only descendants of Lehi and Mulek.

Contrary to the critic's assertion, the short answer is that he is ignorant of the facts.

For those who are interested, we turn to the long answer.

Remember, the critic claims that we must accept his version, because

  1. the Book of Mormon ‘plainly’ teaches it; and
  2. “the prophets” have taught this doctrine (and no other, we must presume) for 175 years.

Yet, the same critic goes on to state in July 2008:

[LDS scholars] believe that they have conclusively shown that the Lehites entered a continent inhabited by millions, entered the large pre-existing civilizations, and then their DNA was diluted away so that we can't detect it. They also set up the straw man that I am arguing that according to the Book of Mormon all American Indians are descended from Hebrews. I have never claimed this. The vanishing geography theory is utter desperation.[11]

The critical argument is entirely dependent upon a “whole empty hemisphere” model of the Book of Mormon

So, by critic's own admission, his model is in fatal trouble if a “whole empty hemisphere” model (as opposed to what he mockingly refers to as the "vanishing" geography model) is not taught by both the Book of Mormon and the prophets. That he would make such a claim, and put his theory on such shaky ground, illustrates how poorly he understands the Book of Mormon and writing about it that has gone on for decades prior to Watson and Crick's discovery of the double helix.

  1. LDS leaders and members have been of a variety of opinions regarding the degree of contribution which Book of Mormon peoples provided to the Amerindian gene pool.
  2. Church spokesmen indicate that there is no official position.
  3. As Church members have understood that there was more than one "group" of Indians, they have read the Book of Mormon as being only a partial history of Amerindian ancestors
  4. If Lehi had any descendants, population genetics virtually guarantees that all Amerindians have him as a common ancestor.
  5. Church discussions of Lamanite ancestry (or Israelite ancestry generally) is not about genetics, but is focused on covenant promises and blessings.


Notes

  1. Judy C. Olsen, "https://www.lds.org/ensign/1998/02/argentinas-bright-and-joyous-day?lang=eng Argentina’s Bright and Joyous Day]," Ensign (February 1998), 36.
  2. Shirleen Meek, "Fiji: Islands of Faith," Ensign (December 1990), 32.
  3. Spencer J. Condie, "A Disposition to Do Good Continually," Ensign (August 2001), 13.
  4. R. Lanier Britsch, "Maori Traditions and the Mormon Church," New Era (June 1981), 38.
  5. Sang Han, "Encounter: The Korean Mind and the Gospel," Ensign (August 1975), 47.
  6. Spencer W. Kimball, "Of Royal Blood," Ensign (July 1971), 7.
  7. "Book of Mormon and DNA Studies," Gospel Topics on LDS.org (31 January 2014)
  8. 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 )
  9. Spencer W. Kimball, General Conference Report, October, 1960
  10. 10.0 10.1 Simon Southerton, e-mail, “Answering the DNA apologetics,” 15 February 2005, 18h42 (copy in editors' possession).
  11. Simon Southerton, e-mail posted to discussion board, July 5, 2008.