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Before 1978: LDS Policies for Bi-racial Families in Brazil & South Africa

I’d like to introduce Dr. Matt Harris in our next conversation.  He has done a lot of Mormon history work and he’s not very well-known, but I think he will be, especially after he finishes his upcoming books.  We will talk about some of these books that he has published, as well as his future books.  We’re also going to talk about the history of the ban.  With the 40th anniversary of the removal of the ban coming up here in just a few weeks, this will be a very timely interview.  Dr. Matt Harris has some really interesting insights and it is going to reveal some really cool, historical information.  It’s one of my favorite interviews yet.  Now, let’s ask a little bit about how he is going to talk about Brazil.  What did the church do with missionaries there?

Matt:  In Brazil, they were kind of trendsetters, if you will.  They did what are called lineage lessons.  The mission president instructed the missionaries, and the mission president I should say got approval from Salt Lake to do this lineage lesson.  But it really was just mostly practiced in Brazil, rather than other places with African populations.  But anyway, these lineage lessons stipulated that if missionaries were out proselytizing and they came across somebody who had African ancestry, who had a parent that they felt would be a prime candidate for the restriction.  They were supposed to come to the door, knock on the door, recognize that they were under the ban and they would just say, “Can you tell us we’re in the neighborhood; we are trying to find this general store or other church. Can you tell us where it is?”

If they weren’t sure if this couple had African ancestry, then they would come in and ask questions about their genealogy, trying to determine through discussion if they had African roots.  Sometimes they would even ask to look at their photo album.  They were discrete about it.  They weren’t going to tell people this is what we are looking for, but this shows you how difficult the burden was in determining the bloodline.  J. Reuben Clark recognized this as early as 1938 and expressed skepticism that the church could confer the priesthood on Brazilians without violating this policy.

There were similar issues in South Africa.  What happened there?

Dr. Matt Harris talks about how LDS Church dealt with racial issues in Brazil & South Africa before the 1978 revelation.
Dr. Matt Harris talks about how LDS Church dealt with racial issues in Brazil & South Africa before the 1978 revelation.

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Check out our conversation…..

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Simon’s Thoughts on Noah’s Flood, Religious Beliefs

We’re concluding our conversation with Dr. Simon Southerton.  Searching for answers about Noah’s flood led him to study more about DNA & the Book of Mormon.  Is there evidence for Noah’s flood?

Simon:  There was a very large deluge because the flood myth is not common to just Christianity.  There are other belief systems throughout the Middle East and Mesopotamia that all contain this flood myth.  There was—I think it was the Black Sea. There was a major deluge when rising sea levels after the Ice Age broke the entrance into the Black Sea through the Strait of Bosporus.  There is plenty of scientific evidence for major deluge that flooded the area surrounding the Black Sea.  So, there would have been devastating consequences for all of the farming communities around there at the time.  I don’t know the date of that, but it might have been 8000 years ago.  So yes, it was an event.  It just didn’t happen.

GT:  What didn’t happen?

Simon:  A global flood.

GT:  Oh, ok.

Simon: The only way it could have possibly happened would be if God had hidden all of the evidence of it, deliberately, and manipulatively hidden all of the evidence of the flood to trick everyone.

(Don’t forget to check out what Dr. Perego thinks about the flood.)  Does Simon still believe in the Bible?   What are his religious beliefs?  Could he accept a non-literal interpretation of the Book of Mormon?  We’ll answer these questions in our next conversation…..

Does Simon believe in Noah’s flood? What are his religious beliefs now?

 

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Vanishing DNA? Lamanite DNA Shouldn’t Vanish

We’re continuing our conversation with Dr. Simon Southerton.  We’re going to talk about vanishing DNA.  Is it possible that Lehite DNA simply vanished from the Americas?  Simon says no, but I’ll ask him about some other possible cases.

 

 

GT:  Well his point is we know the Vikings were here.  We can see their settlements.  We can’t find any DNA from them. So, he sees the parallel with the Lehites.  We can’t find their DNA.  So, you don’t agree with that parallel?

Simon:  Well I can see the point he is trying to make.  He is just trying to create, “Yes, we can’t find them.”  But it just bears no resemblance to the Book of Mormon account.  What we need to hear, we don’t need to hear the DNA excuses for why we can’t find their DNA.

What people need to hear from the church is an explanation, a new narrative, an explanation for the Book of Mormon narrative.  How do we fit this vanishing story with the text, the scripture?  If you read the scripture it is really quite clear that they were very significant populations of people.  So, the Nephites and Lamanites were fighting each other for a thousand years but they still referred to each other as their brethren.  How does that go on for a thousand years when you’re just a tiny little people?

I’ll also ask Simon about Rodney Meldrum’s claims to have found Middle Eastern DNA here in North America.  What does Simon think of Meldrum’s claims?

Simon:  I’ve been less critical of Meldrum than the FARMS[1] guys.  They called him a snake-oil salesman, which he is.  But he’s a salesman, he is not a scientist.  He’s a joke.  He doesn’t understand the science.  He thinks that the scientists foolishly overlooked the connection of the X-lineage to the Middle East, and his whole business is built on his X-lineage claim, and he’s wrong.  It’s completely wrong.

We heavily reference our conversation with Dr. Perego.  If you haven’t seen it, or have forgotten, I encourage you to check out our interview with Perego!  Check out our conversation…..

Dr. Simon Southerton says it is unlikely that DNA would vanish
Dr. Simon Southerton says it is unlikely that DNA would vanish

[1] FARMS stands for Foundation of Ancient Research and Mormon Studies.  This is an informal collaboration of academics devoted to Latter-day Saint historical scholarship.  In 2006, the group became a formal part of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, formerly known as the Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts, BYU. FARMS has since been absorbed into the Maxwell Institute’s Laura F. Willes Center for Book of Mormon Studies.  For more info, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_for_Ancient_Research_and_Mormon_Studies