Book of Mormon by Joseph Smith
The 1830 publication of the “Book of Mormon” by Joseph Smith, officially established the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ believe that Smith, under divine guidance, translated a set of golden plates into the Book of Mormon. This was the first of several literary works that were said to contain proper doctrine of the beliefs and views of the Mormon religion. Throughout the development of the Church, several aspects of the Mormon religion have caused many of its members to be persecuted by outside parties. During the last half of the nineteenth-century the government formed strict laws to thwart the strong beliefs of polygamy until church leaders denounced the practice. In the twentieth century the Church came under fire because of its controversial ideas considering African Americans. Ideas of Caucasian supremacy can be found throughout doctrines and scripture that exist in important Church documents. Until recently the Latter-day Saint Church had denied the priesthood, as well as several other religious practices to anyone that was of African decent. Heavy criticism from both non-Mormon and Mormon parties mounted until 1978, when then Church president Spencer Kimball announced the repeal. Several theories have been recently developed to explain the origins and reasoning of racial inferiority and the manner in which the Latter-day Saint Church treated African Americans during the last one- hundred and seventy-one years.
A large portion of the Book of Mormon describes the history of several pre-Christian civilizations that existed throughout America. A group of Israelites lead by a righteous man named Nephi established a society of god loving people. Nephi’s two brothers Laman and Lemuel rose up against their brother and formed a band of dissidents that rejected Nephi’s religious ideas. The righteous people came to be called the Nephites, while the nomadic dissidents were called Lamanites. The Lamanites were cursed by the Lord with the skin of darkness and became known as “a dark, and loathsome, and filthy people full of idleness and all manner of Abomination”1. Eventually the nations of the Amlicites and the Zoramites were cast with dark skin and joined the Lamanites. The Nephite ultimately turned ungodly and became extinct due to numerous battles fought both among themselves and with the Lamanites.
Church leaders believe the present-day Indians to be descendants of the Lamanites.. According to Smith, the Lamanites could cast away their dark skin and savage ways if they sought to repent and accept the true faith that ways taught by the righteous Nephites.
In 1851 the Mormon Church published another major literary work entitled the “Pearl Of Great Price”; it contained the Books of Moses and Abraham as translated by Joseph Smith. It wasn’t until 1880 that the “Pearl of Great Price” became common Holy Scripture and was incorporated...