I was born and raised as a 6th generation Mormon. My family was completely active in the “Church.” We attended all of our meetings and were active in all facets of the Church. I was spoon fed that the Book of Mormon was the most perfect book on the face of the earth and could be completely trusted as scripture. The Bible, on the other hand I was told, was littered with errors. The Book of Mormon was, with a few minor corrections for punctuation and spelling, just as it rolled off the pen of the scribes as Joseph translated this divine work. One of the key moments in my departure from Mormonism came when I found changes were made from the 1977 edition my parents gave me and the 1981 edition that I bought for Helen when I was trying to convert her to Mormonism.
Joseph Smith, the founding “Prophet” of Mormonism made the following claim concerning the Book of Mormon: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding its precepts, than by any other book.” (History of the Church, Vol 4, p. 461)
Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt declared: “The Book of Mormon claims to be a divinely inspired record.... If false, it is one of the most cunning, wicked, bold, deep-laid impositions ever palmed upon the world, calculated to deceive and ruin millions ...if true, no one can possibly be saved and reject it: if false, no one can possibly be saved and receive it...
If, after a rigid examination, it be found an imposition, it should be extensively published to the world as such; the evidences and arguments on which the imposture was detected, should be clearly and logically stated....
But on the other hand, if investigation should prove the Book of Mormon true ... the American and English nations ... should utterly reject both the Popish and Protestant ministry, together with all the churches which have been built up by them or that have sprung from them, as being entirely destitute of authority” (Orson Pratt's Works, "Divine Authenticity of the Book of Mormon," Liverpool, 1851, pp.1-2).
The above statement is quite a strong one by Orson Pratt, one of the original Mormon Twelve Apostles. I believe I’ll accept his challenge.
Who are the Book of Mormon Peoples?
For those who may not know, the Book of Mormon is claimed by the Mormon Church to be an account of two groups of people who came to the Americas and are the ancestors of all the peoples of the Americas (American Indians, Mayans, Aztecs, Toltecs, Olmecs, Eskimos, etc.) According to Mormon beliefs, the first group, the Jaredites, came to America at the time of the Tower of Babel. They had killed themselves off by the time the second group arrived from Jerusalem around the year 600 BC.
This second group was the family of a devout Jewish man/prophet named Lehi. He had five sons. The primary ones were Nephi and Laman. These two sons would become the patriarchs of the two people groups of the Book of Mormon, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites.
I was brought up in the Mormon Church being told that the Nephites were the “good” guys and had white skin; the Lamanites were the “bad” guys and God had cursed them with a dark skin because of their sin. I was also told that the American Indians, in fact all of the original peoples found here in the Americas when it was discovered by Christopher Columbus, were the descendants of Laman, and were in fact Lamanites.
The founding prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith repeatedly called the American Indians Lamanites. In an additional book of Mormon scripture called the Doctrine and Covenants, which is purported to contain the revelations of God given to Joseph Smith, in Section 28:8 is a revelation directed at sending Oliver Cowdery on a mission to the Indians, it says “And now behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them…” This same terminology, Lamanites, is again used in a revelation to Joseph Smith in Section 32:3 “And that which I have appointed unto him is that he [Parley P. Pratt] shall go with my servants Oliver Cowdery and Peter Whitmer, Jun., into the wilderness among the Lamanites. In section 54:8 of the Doctrine and Covenants Joseph Smith said in a revelation supposed to have been from God, that the “borders of the Lamanites” are near the “land of Missouri.” This time frame is in the 1830’s. In the 1830’s Missouri was the Western edge of the frontier. Anything west of Missouri was unsettled Indian territory. There is simply no question that the prophet Joseph Smith is sending his apostles “Cowdery, Whitmer and Pratt,” to the edge of civilized territory, Missouri, which is the “borders of the Lamanites.” This can only mean the American Indians. There simply is no other possible explanation.
In another of the additional books of Mormon scripture, the Pearl of Great Price, are the writings of Joseph Smith. In Chapter 1 Verse 34 Joseph describes a supposed vision from the angel Moroni that would eventually deliver the “gold plates” to Joseph to be translated into the Book of Mormon. Joseph says Moroni said the following: 34. "He [Moroni] said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fullness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants ..."
There is no question that Joseph Smith and the early Mormon Church believed the American Indians were the descendants of the “ancient inhabitants” described in the Book of Mormon.
So did Brigham Young: "There is a curse on these aborigines of our country who roam the plains, and are so wild that you cannot tame them. They are of the House of Israel; they once had the Gospel delivered to them, they had the oracles of truth; Jesus came and administered to them after his resurrection, and they received and delighted in the Gospel until the fourth generation when they turned away and became so wicked that God cursed them with this dark and benighted and loathsome condition." (Discourses of Brigham Young, compiled by John A. Widtsoe, pages 122, 123.) The statement that Jesus came and administered to them is explicitly a Book of Mormon teaching.
Let’s fast forward a few years to modern Mormon leaders. President Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th Mormon Prophet said: “The term Lamanite includes all Indians and Indian mixtures, such as the Polynesians, the Guatemalans, the Peruvians, as well as the Sioux, the Apache, the Mohawk, the Navajo, and others. It is a large group of great people.” (“Of Royal Blood,” Ensign, July 1971, p. 7) I don’t think you can get more specific than this explanation by the 12th Mormon Prophet; nor do I think this statement leaves much wiggle room. Why would the only true church on the face of the earth today, the Mormon Church, need wiggle room?
DNA disproves the Book of Mormon peoples as being of Jewish descent!
Thomas Murphy is a Mormon Anthropologist who was featured in the excellent video put together by Living Hope Ministries, DNA vs The Book of Mormon. In this video Thomas Murphy states: “As a Mormon anthropologist I have a serious problem with the Book of Mormon representations of American Indians, not only does it claim that Lamanites are principal ancestors of the American Indians but throughout the text it repeatedly refers to them as Israelites, descendants of Joseph, as descendants of the biblical patriarchs, of Abraham, those repeated references to an ancient Israelite connection have been clearly invalidated by scientific research into the genes of American Indians. … What is most significant about the genetic research and its applicability to the Book of Mormon is that it validates what we already knew from other scientific disciplines. From biological anthropology more generally, we knew a long time ago that American Indians resembled Asians and particularly the people from the regions around Mongolia, and Siberia more than they did any other peoples. Archeologically we knew that there were similarities between the cultures of north east Asia and those of the early Americans … We also knew based on the linguistic evidence that American Indians shared a common ancestry with at least some of the north east Asians and Siberians so we had all this other evidence from scientific disciplines as diverse as linguistics, archaeology and human biology all showing us an Asian origin of the American Indians. Now the genetic data confirms what we already knew from that other material.”
Without question, DNA shows that the native peoples of the Americas are NOT of Jewish descent as the Mormon Church has taught since it was first founded in 1830. This fact destroys the foundation of the Book of Mormon and the clearly shows Mormon Prophets that have extolled this as false prophets.
The single word change:
So what is this single word change, and why is it so significant. The following is an excerpt from the introduction page to the Book of Mormon: “The book was written by many ancient prophets by the spirit of prophecy and revelation. Their words, written on gold plates, were quoted and abridged by a prophet-historian named Mormon. The record gives an account of two great civilizations. One came from Jerusalem in 600 B.C., and afterward separated into two nations, known as the Nephites and the Lamanites. The other came much earlier when the Lord confounded the tongues at the Tower of Babel. This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are the principal ancestors of the American Indians.” I guess you can tell the “principal” is the key word here – let’s see how changing this word changes this sentence: “This group is known as the Jaredites. After thousands of years, all were destroyed except the Lamanites, and they are among the ancestors of the American Indians.” (Emphasis mine)
Changing “principle” to “among” is huge – huge! This changing of words now allows the Mormon Church wiggle room for their apologists to try and explain away the fact that science has disproved that the Native American Peoples are not of Jewish descent, but are of Asiatic descent. This fact is an absolute contradiction of Mormon doctrine. “Among” vice “principle” moves from an “absolute” word to a “possible” word. This single word change simply shows that the leaders of the Mormon Church have had to admit that science has disproved the Book of Mormon as it has been taught by the Church since its beginning and they have had to once again “wordsmith” their teachings to try and make them compatible with the real world – how sad that 13 million people are placing their very eternity in a religion that cannot stand up to scrutiny. Christianity doesn’t have to run from the Bible, but Mormonism does have to hide from the Book of Mormon!