The Lamanites must rise!
Due to the ever-changing nature of the Mormon religion, often an article or talk published by the church comes back to bite them in the backside. This is one of those times.
Perusing the RFM boards today, I found a very interesting post that referenced two articles that can be found on the LDS.org web site: "The Lamanites Must Rise in Majesty and Power", written by Elder J. Thomas Fyans, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve in the Ensign, May 1976 (p. 12) and "Miracles among the Lamanites" by Elder Gene R. Cook of the First Quorum of the Seventy in the Ensign, Nov. 1980, (p. 67).
To give you a brief Book of Mormon lesson, it has been taught since the beginning of the teachings of Joseph Smith that the Book of Mormon was a historical account of the people who live on the American continent. There were essentially two sets of people talked about in the Book of Mormon who had traveled to America from the Middle East/Holy Lands and split apart after their arrival - the Nephites, descended from Nephi, son of Lehi (good guys) and the Lamanites (bad guys), descended from Laman and Lemuel, also sons of Lehi. At the end of the Book of Mormon, the Nephites had been conquered and destroyed by the Lamanites, and the Lamanites were considered to be the ancestors to what we call the Native Americans today.
This teaching of Lamanites being the ancestors of all Native Americans has been proven genetically impossible by modern science. That's a discussion that can take up an entire book. Suffice it to say that the Mormon church is scrambling to change history, trying to prove that there were never (or rarely) teachings of the Lamanites being the ancestors to Native Americans. On the FAIR site, the article "Who Are The Lamanites?" (PDF link), copyright 2004, contains this text with emphasis added:
One traditional assumption that does not conform to an enlarged understanding of the text is the once-held opinion that the Lehites populated all of the Americas. (See the FAIR brochure "Were the Lehites Alone in the Americas?") Most LDS scholars agree that the Lehites were a small incursion into a larger existing population of Native Americans. (This would account for the disappearance of Lehite DNA. See the FAIR brochure entitled "Is an Historical Book of Mormon Compatible With DNA Science?")
It is being implied by contemporary Mormon apologists that the "traditional" Lamanite as Native American ancestors was just a teaching, an opinion, as opposed to true doctrine of the church.
However, the Fyans article is evidence that the Lamanite as Native American ancestor school of thought was taught as doctrine, even going as far back as Joseph Smith. I'd like to break down this article for you in sections so that it can be more easily digested, with emphasis added on the particularly interesting bits. The article begins thusly:
As we listened to the prophet as he opened this conference, I was reminded that the inspiration and direction of prophets over the years have given us foreknowledge of what was to come in the future.
In this dispensation, our day, a book of prophetic utterances has channeled earthward to us.
The statements that are being quoted in this article by Fykes are "prophetic utterances", or in other words these are revelations given to the leaders of the Mormon church. These are the words of God, not simply an opinion of Fyans or the leaders quoted.
The Prophet Joseph Smith said, "One of the most important points in the faith of the Church of the Latter-day Saints, through the fullness of the everlasting Gospel, is the gathering of Israel (of whom the Lamanites constitute a part)." (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2:357.)
In a proclamation of the Twelve Apostles of the restored Church in 1845, we are told - speaking of the Lamanites of North and South America - "They will also come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and fullness of the gospel; and they will embrace it and become a righteous branch of the house of Israel." (Proclamation of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, New York, "Prophet" Office, Apr. 6, 1845, p. 3.)
The Lamanites of North and South America referred to here are the Native Americans, and their forefathers are the Lamanites depicted in the Book of Mormon.
The article goes on to quote numerous Mormon leaders discussing the flourishing of Lamanites with the introduction of the Gospel. Next, the author brings the prophetic utterances into the present day.
Now may we consider the book of revelations of today as shared with us by the present prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball: "The Lamanites must rise in majesty and power." (Conference Reports, Oct. 1947, p. 22.)
This prophetic statement was made on October 3, 1947, when in Central America we had fewer than 100 members and in that great land of Mexico fewer than 5,000, half of whom were in the Mormon colonies. "The Lamanites must rise in majesty," I repeat. The fewer than 100 in Central America when these prophetic words were uttered has blossomed into more than 40,000 as of today. From the fewer than 5,000 in Mexico at that time, a rich harvest of over 150,000 stand tall in the field white already to harvest; the total membership of 1947 but represents harvest of a pair of months today.
Fykes is saying in this part of the article that the reason that the Mormon church has flourished in Latin America is because it was prophesied that it would years ago by multiple prophets. It was flourishing because it was prophesied that the descendents of the Lamanites, the Native Americans, would prosper when given the fullness of the Gospel, in this case by the missionaries of the Mormon church.
The article then talks about all of the industrial growth and church growth in the 1900's, and according to Fykes, this is again attributed to the prophesies of the leaders of the church.
When reading the Cook article, the first sentance makes no mistake of who the Lamanites are:
My family and I are presently living in South America among the Lamanites—the children of Lehi, the people of the Book of Mormon, a people of great promise.
Cook quotes a scripture from the Doctrine & Covenants, a collection of revelations to Joseph Smith, which says:
8 And now, behold, I say unto you that you shall go unto the Lamanites and preach my gospel unto them; and inasmuch as they receive thy teachings thou shalt cause my church to be established among them; and thou shalt have revelations, but write them not by way of commandment.
Cook, as Fyans did, mentions the Lamanite world as he quotes statistics of Latin American church membership:
What a miracle to behold! Only in part of the Lamanite world, in Latin America alone, there are over 600,000 members of the Church, with 7,000 baptized nearly every month; 181 stakes at present with almost 2,400 congregations of Saints and 2,500 Latin missionaries serving; thousands and thousands of priesthood holders—Regional Representatives, mission presidents, patriarchs, bishops—faithful sisters, and faithful children of a powerful generation yet to come.
(The retention of LDS converts is another very complicated subject, but you can see some interesting articles about the subject here, here and a seriously scientific projection of growth with all kinds of fun formulas and graphs here. Most studies show that LDS retention rate of members is extremely low.)
Sometimes it's good for me to take a refresher course on why exactly I no longer believe in the Mormon church. One reason I no longer have a testimony is because I no longer believe that the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be. I no longer believe what I was taught in my youth, that the Lamanites were the ancestors of my Native American ancestors.
There is too much DNA and scientific evidence proving the true heritage of the Native Americans (that they are mongolian and made their way to this land via the Bering Strait in Alaska). And the whitewashing of Mormon history has already begun with the Lamanite subject, so I would just like to make firm documentation that indeed, the Native Americans as Lamanites doctrine was taught as true fact by high leaders of the Mormon church and has now been proven scientifically to be a lie.