Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints should be aware that a major printing error has occurred in the physical copies of their Come, Follow Me manuals for the week of February 3. Under the section entitled “What was the curse that came upon the Lamanites,” a quote that no longer reflects the Church’s view on the topic was printed. The misprinted statement reads:
“The dark skin was placed upon the Lamanites so that they could be distinguished from the Nephites and to keep the two peoples from mixing [see 2 Nephi 5:21-23; Alma 3:6-10]. The dark skin was the sign of the curse. The curse was the withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord [see 2 Nephi 5:20]. … Dark skin … is no longer to be considered a sign of the curse” (Joseph Fielding Smith, “Answers to Gospel Questions,” comp. Joseph Fielding Smith Jr. , 3:122-23).
Elder Gary E. Stevenson addressed the misprint at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Luncheon in Salt Lake City, Utah. He said:
“One of our recent church manuals includes a paragraph with some outdated commentary about race. It was mistakenly included in the printed version of the manual, which had been prepared for print nearly two years ago. When it was brought to the attention of Church leaders late last year, they directed that it be immediately removed in our online manuals, which is used by the majority of our members. We have also directed that any future printed manuals will reflect this change. We’re asking our members to disregard that paragraph in the printed manual. I’m deeply saddened by any hurt this error may have caused for some of our members and for others. Our position as a Church is clear—we condemn all racism, past and present, in any form and disavow any theory advanced that black or dark skin is a sign of a curse.”
Members can read the entirety of the new section below or online here.
Come, Follow Me Section Regarding Dark Skin & Curses
In Nephi’s day the curse of the Lamanites was that they were “cut off from [the Lord’s] presence … because of their iniquity” (2 Nephi 5:20–21). This meant the Spirit of the Lord was withdrawn from their lives. When Lamanites later embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ, “the curse of God did no more follow them” (Alma 23:18).
The Book of Mormon also states that a mark of dark skin came upon the Lamanites after the Nephites separated from them. The nature and appearance of this mark are not fully understood. The mark initially distinguished the Lamanites from the Nephites. Later, as both the Nephites and Lamanites each went through periods of wickedness and righteousness, the mark became irrelevant as an indicator of the Lamanites’ standing before God.
Prophets affirm in our day that dark skin is not a sign of divine disfavor or cursing. The Church embraces Nephi’s teaching that the Lord “denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33). President Russell M. Nelson declared: “The Lord has stressed His essential doctrine of equal opportunity for His children. … Differences in culture, language, gender, race, and nationality fade into insignificance as the faithful enter the covenant path and come unto our beloved Redeemer” (“President Nelson Remarks at Worldwide Priesthood Celebration” [June 1, 2018], newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org).
Race and the Priesthood
More information on this topic can be read in the Church’s official gospel topic’s essay, “Race and the Priesthood.” It is available to read online here.
In part, the essay states “Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church” and “the Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects unrighteous 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.”