Why Is Atheism a Bigger Obstacle to Political Office Than Mormonism?
Continued from previous page
Mormonism's beliefs about the origins of Native Americans. According to the Book of Mormon, Native Americans are the descendants of ancient Jewish settlers who lived around 586 BCE, who received a revelation from God ordering them to build a ship, sail across the ocean and establish a home in the Western Hemisphere, where they eventually developed into a large and complex civilization.
Unfortunately for the LDS church, genetic studies have failed to support this belief: genetic markers point to the Native Americans being descended from ancient Asian peoples who migrated across the Bering Strait. In the face of this evidence, church leaders have hedged and backtracked. Among other things, the church has changed the introduction to the Book of Mormon so that it now says Jewish settlers were only " among" the ancestors of Native Americans, rather than being their "principal ancestors" as was originally written. LDS apologists now mainly hold to a hypothesis called the "limited geography" model which states, in essence, that the events of the Book of Mormon took place in a single small region and left no evidence behind.
Mormonism's now-recanted belief that black skin is a curse from God for sin. According to the Book of Mormon, one group of American settlers called the Lamanites fell into wickedness and were punished in the following manner:
"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
Various members of the LDS church (including members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the church's governing council) have stated that non-white people were born that way as a punishment for being "less valiant" in the spiritual existence which Mormons believe preceded life on Earth (see here and here). But in either case, whether because of sins committed by their ancestors or because of their own sins in a previous life, people of African descent were excluded from the Mormon priesthood until 1978, when the church's leaders announced that they had received another revelation ordering that this practice be discontinued. One might be forgiven for thinking that God was more than a little behind the times with this directive.
Their belief that human beings can become gods, and the converse belief that God was once a human being. As Jeffrey Goldberg put it, "[Mormonism's] relationship to Christianity is similar to Christianity's relationship to Judaism," and this is probably the best example of that. The Mormon belief of " exaltation" holds that the most faithful of believers may be elevated literally to divine status, becoming gods in their own right ruling over their own worlds. And they believe this process has occurred in the past: that God was once a human being who underwent the same process, and we are living in the world he created to govern.
As a further point of departure from historical Christian creeds, Mormons also believe in a heavenly mother, a divine feminine being who corresponds to the masculine deity, although this belief seems to be confusing, unclear and frequently overlooked even among Mormons themselves. Part of the reason this belief is often downplayed may be to fit in with the Mormon belief that only men can be initiated into the priesthood and rise to positions of power in the church, while a Mormon woman's only designated role is to be a mother and a housewife.