Follow the Footnotes (August 21, 2020)

As we’ve looked into the various Gospel Topics essays, the Saints: Standard of Truth book, and other church writings, one thing we always highlight are what the footnotes that the church cite in their writings actually say.

That’s not to say that every footnote contradicts the point being made by the church – often time they are referencing their own materials to back their claims, but frequently you’ll see that if you follow the footnote that it doesn’t quite make the case that the citation claims it makes, and sometimes it flat out contradicts the claims in the essays or articles.

 

Since we’ve now looked at a number of church writings on this site over the last few years, I wanted to highlight some of the most egregious footnotes that we’ve come across. To be clear, this is not about areas where the essays or articles themselves are being dishonest or omitting details, but about where the footnotes or citations given by the church actually contradict the point being made in their apologetic writings or are simply deceptive.

 

For now I wanted to highlight ten of the worst footnotes I’ve seen, and they are very loosely ranked, with what I find to be the most flagrant misuses of church citations towards the end.  I am keeping this almost entirely to the church’s “Gospel Topics Essays” that we have annotated on the site, with just two that come from outside of the essays. Again I want to note that this is not about the content of the church’s arguments or essays because we cover those in the various pages, but only about how citations/footnotes are used within their writings.

 

And now to the ten worst footnotes in the church’s materials, very loosely ranked from bad to worse:

 

10. Book of Abraham Essay – “Extrabiblical elements”

 

In the Book of Abraham essay, the church highlights details in the Book of Abraham that do not appear in the Bible but are found in ancient traditions that Joseph Smith incorporated in the Book of Abraham. From the essay:

“Other details in the book of Abraham are found in ancient traditions located across the Near East. These include Terah, Abraham’s father, being an idolator; a famine striking Abraham’s homeland; Abraham’s familiarity with Egyptian idols; and Abraham’s being younger than 75 years old when he left Haran, as the biblical account states. Some of these extrabiblical elements were available in apocryphal books or biblical commentaries in Joseph Smith’s lifetime, but others were confined to nonbiblical traditions inaccessible or unknown to 19th-century Americans.”

 

The footnote (#46) for this highlights two citations to church sources, but then includes this note: “Some of these extrabiblical elements were available to Joseph Smith through the books of Jasher and Josephus. Joseph Smith was aware of these books, but it is unknown whether he utilized them.”

 

The problem is that the essay acknowledges that some of this ‘extrabiblical’ information actually WAS available to Joseph through the books of Jasher and Josephus—books we know he was familiar with because he talked about them or published references to them (which is why the church is forced to state that Joseph Smith was aware of them). So that footnote seems to negate the claims made in the body of the very same paragraph in a significant way.

Since the release of the essay, we’ve also learned that Joseph leaned heavily on Adam Clarke’s Bible commentary to create the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. To complicate things further, Adam Clarke’s Bible commentary also contains many of these extrabiblical stories about Abraham, including the idea that the Pharaoh tried to sacrifice Abraham and the idea that Abraham taught astrology to members of the Pharaoh’s court. Because the Book of Abraham was completed after Joseph Smith’s translation of the Bible, Joseph unquestionably would have known of Adam Clarke’s commentary on Abraham, which is included in this essay as the extrabiblical events.

While additional documents were discovered in the 20th century that referenced these concepts, they weren’t new concepts—just new documents that told the same extrabiblical stories about Abraham that were actually available to Joseph in the books of Jasher, Josephus, and in Adam Clarke’s Bible commentary. Given that the authors of this essay were aware of this problem, it is dishonest at best to proclaim that Joseph Smith was channeling accounts that were “confined to non-biblical traditions inaccessible or unknown to 19th-century Americans.”

 

9. Polygamy in Kirtland and Nauvoo Essay - Carefully Worded Denials

 

The church’s gospel topics essay on polygamy in Kirtland and Nauvoo addresses the rumors that dogged the church as Joseph Smith married other men’s wives along with dozens of his followers including teenage girls. This is a rather infamous line from the gospel topics essays because of how ridiculous it is, but covers the following sentence: “The rumors prompted members and leaders to issue carefully worded denials that denounced spiritual wifery and polygamy but were silent about what Joseph Smith and others saw as divinely mandated “celestial” plural marriage.”

This is another area of the essay that is clearly dishonest when they refer to "carefully worded denials.”  The footnote from the essay (#22) explains these denials thus: “In the denials, “polygamy” was understood to mean the marriage of one man to more than one woman but without Church sanction.” Effectively, they are differentiating between “polygamy” and “plural marriage” as verbal semantics that Joseph used to lie to both the public and almost all members of the church about his secret marriages.

 

Just to make it clear, the “members and leaders” mentioned here refers mostly to Joseph himself. In other words, he lied publicly, both in printed articles and in public speeches about his plural marriages by using a politician’s trick of having a different definition in his head from the definition that he knows you have in your head. When Bill Clinton said, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” he was excluding oral sex from his personal definition of sexual relations. This is a ploy that later came to be known among the church leadership as “lying for the lord” and there are many examples of it. 

 

Remember, this essay was approved by the First Presidency and Apostles. It flatly states that Joseph committed a crime (polygamy was illegal) and then lied about it. In order to convince us that the so-called “carefully worded denials” aren't damaging to the reasons why polygamy is from God, the essay redefines a very important word and buries it in an footnote, which they know most people will not read. In one example of Joseph’s public “carefully worded denials” he said, "What a thing it is for a man to be accused of committing adultery, and having seven wives, when I can only find one." (Joseph Smith - LDS History of the Church 6:411). Joseph already had over 20 wives at the time he made this statement.

 

8. Book of Abraham Essay – Egyptian Connections to Abraham

 

In the Book of Abraham church essay, the authors make the claim that “A third-century papyrus from an Egyptian temple library connects Abraham with an illustration similar to facsimile 1 in the book of Abraham.”

This is cited by footnote 44, which references readers to “Excerpts from P. Leiden I 384 (PGM XII)” in a book written by church apologists John Gee, John Tvedtnes, and Brian Hauglid (Brian Hauglid has recently denounced the Book of Abraham and the apologetics behind it after working as an editor of the Joseph Smith Papers project, and I highly recommend his interview explaining why his research led to disavowing the Book of Mormon).

 

The problem is that the footnote refers to a papyrus from the 2nd to 3rd Century BC called P. Leiden I 384, shown below:

The figure on the couch in this papyrus is a woman and the associated text is actually a pagan love spell which states that the magical document was designed to “inflame” the woman’s “female body” so that she will surrender herself to the owner of the scroll. John Gee, the LDS apologist who originally published this image in relation to the Book of Abraham, recognizes these problems and admits “these texts tell us nothing directly about Abraham,” (Edward H. Ashment, The Use of Magical Papyri to Authenticate the Book of Abraham)

 

Yes, the papyrus does have a picture of a lion couch and a variation of Abraham’s name, along with those of Isaac, Jacob and other prophets and gods whose names eventually came to be used as magical words that in spells created by Egyptian magicians millennia after Abraham’s time. You will also notice that the figure standing over the mummy is Anubis, not a priest of Elkenah. It is very disappointing that the authors of this essay would resort to such a textbook example of what Elder Anderson would call “subtle deception” if it were done by a critic of Joseph Smith.

This has also been discussed by Dr. Robert Ritner, who was apologist John Gee’s mentor while a student in Egyptology, at length in his recent interviews about the Book of Abraham, and there is absolutely nothing to the Leiden papyrus that would connect to a historical Abraham outside of being in a list of names of magical/religious figures that would be used in a love spell. John Gee knows this, yet the essay includes this statement anyway in order to assure members that there is nothing to see behind the curtain.

7. Polygamy in Kirtland and Nauvoo Essay – Increased Number of Children to Polygamous Parents

 

In the gospel topics essay on plural marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo, the church claims that “Plural marriage did result in an increased number of children born to believing parents.”

 

This cites footnote 45, which is an untrue and apparently intentionally misleading statement.  Footnote 45 contains no such information, but merely reroutes us to another footnote (#6) in their Utah polygamy essay which informs us that: “Studies have shown that monogamous women bore more children per wife than did polygamous wives except the first.” In other words, the entire premise of polygamy as a way to quickly grow the church and raise seed is proven false by basic statistics and this essay uses a “carefully worded denial” to circumvent that inconvenient fact. Polygamous wives have fewer kids than they would have given birth to in monogamous, legal marriages.

In other words, this is not even a half-truth; it is a non-truth. Once again the entire premise of this revelation is undercut, which again begs the question as to why God would give a revelation that would be detrimental to the stated goal of raising up seed.

 

6. DNA and the Book of Mormon Essay - “Scientists do not rule out the possibility of additional, small-scale migrations to the Americas.”

 

In the gospel topics essay on DNA and the Book of Mormon, the church attempts to explain why DNA evidence shows that Native Americans were from Asia and not Jerusalem, which goes against the Book of Mormon’s historical claims as we are told Native Americans are the descendants of Lamanites, who arrived in the Americas from Jerusalem.

 

The problem is that the Book of Mormon (and church leaders) tell us that the Americas were preserved for the Book of Mormon people,

but DNA is clear that Native Americans are not Lamanites as they migrated to the Americas from Asia. In an attempt to create plausibility in the Book of Mormon’s historicity, the author states that “Scientists do not rule out the possibility of additional, small-scale migrations to the Americas.”

 

The footnote to this claim was #20, which is an article titled “Reconciling Migration Models to the Americas with the Variation of North American Native Mitogenomes.” This article refers to the remains of the 24,000 year old Mal’ta boy in Siberia, whose DNA indicates that not only was he ancestral to Native Americans, but that his ancestors have roots in the Near East. While the church presents this as evidence in favor of Book of Mormon historicity, this is actually evidence against the Book of Mormon as it dates the Western Eurasian DNA in question to 20,000 years before Book of Mormon times, so it could not possibly have come from Jaredites or Lehites.

This is the overreaching problem for the church when it comes to DNA studies: There is zero evidence that any kind of large civilization lived here during Book of Mormon times that originated from Jerusalem, the Book of Mormon itself is clear there were no other civilizations that lived here when Lehi arrived, and the only evidence they can find to give plausibility for DNA predates not just the Book of Mormon but Adam and Eve as well.

In addition to reading our annotated gospel topics essay on DNA studies and the Book of Mormon, I highly recommend the Mormon Stories podcast called “Three geneticists respond to the LDS essay on DNA.” (https://www.mormonstories.org/podcast/three-geneticists-respond-lds-essay-dna-book-of-mormon-michael-ash/) It includes so much detail about how DNA works and why this essay is misleading to members in the worst ways by trying to make the problem seem so much more complicated than it really is.

 

5. Teachings of Presidents of the Church Manual - Lorenzo Snow Implements Tithing

In the church’s official manual, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow, they discuss the implementation of tithing. As Prophet Snow implemented the church’s modern day practice of tithing, this quote is unquestionably an important one. Here is the quote as presented in the manual: “I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child … shall pay one-tenth of their income as a tithing.”

The footnote for this sentence is “In Conference Report, Oct. 1899, 28,” which takes you to Prophet Snow’s talk at General Conference. You can find the entirety of the talk here. (Oct 1899 General Conference), and the quote from the citation is:

“I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child who has means shall pay one-tenth of their income as a tithing.”

 

The only difference between the quote in the manual and the quote as given by Prophet Snow is that the church removed three words: “who has means.” In other words, Prophet Snow was not requiring members to pay tithing that could not afford it, but modern church leaders preach that you should pay tithing before food for your family, and have very deceptively taken out those three words from Prophet Snow’s mouth in order to rewrite the history of tithing in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As we’ve discussed in our annotated essays, this would not pass the church’s own definition of honesty, which states: “There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth.”

 

I would argue that removing three words of a quote in order to completely change the meaning would qualify as “telling only part of the truth.”

4. Come Follow Me Manual: The Book of Mormon and the Curse of Dark Skin

In the printed Come Follow Me manual for 2020, the church affirmed that dark skin is a curse from God as declared in the Book of Mormon. Within the printed manual, the used the following quote from Joseph Fielding Smith:  "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. [1960], 3:122-23)

The citation is to “Answers to Gospel Questions,” and if you take a look at the quote in full you will see it paints a very different picture than what the church claims in the year 2020. The full quote is as follows, with the parts used in the manual in bold to illustrate everything they cut out:

"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. The dark skin was the sign of the curse. The curse was the withdrawal of the Spirit of the Lord and the Lamanites becoming a "loathsome and filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations." (I Nephi 12:23.) The Lord commanded the Nephites not to intermarry with them, for if they did they would partake of the curse.

 

At the time of the Savior's visit to the Nephites all of the people became united, and the curse and the dark skin which was its sign were removed. The two peoples became one and lived in full harmony and peace for about two hundred years.

There were no robbers, nor murderers, neither were there Lamanites, nor any manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ, and heirs to the kingdom of God. (IV Nephi, verse 17.)

 

EVIL BROUGHT RETURN OF DARK SKIN

 

After the people again forgot the Lord and dissensions arose, some of them took upon themselves the name Lamanites and the dark skin returned. When the Lamanites fully repent and sincerely receive the gospel, the Lord has promised to remove the dark skin. The Lord declared by revelation that, "before the great day of the Lord shall come, Jacob shall flourish in the wilderness, and the Lamanites shall blossom as the rose." (D. & C. 49:24.)

 

The dark skin of those who have come into the Church is no longer to be considered a sign of the curse. Many of these converts are delightsome and have the Spirit of the Lord. Perhaps there are some Lamanites today who are losing the dark pigment. Many of the members of the Church among the Catawba Indians of the South could readily pass as of the white race; also in other parts of the South." (Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions 3:123-124)

 

The use of ellipses here to cut out the incredibly racist statements from Joseph F Smith is absolutely intentional in the Come Follow Me manual, and a very deceptive presentation of what the church has both taught and believed about the curse of dark skin since its inception. Just look above at that last paragraph to see what they cut out just to piece together "dark skin... is no longer to be considered a sign of the curse."

I don’t know what else to say here as I believe the parts of the quote that were carefully cut out speak for themselves, and I am fairly certain that black and colored members do not want to lose “the dark pigment” so that they can become “delightsome” as the Book of Mormon and church prophets promise will happen to them if they are righteous and obedient in the church.

This issue caused quite an uproar earlier this year, and we wrote a few articles to highlight the controversy along with what the scriptures of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teach about the curse of dark skin and why modern apologetics are embarrassingly dishonest.

Come Follow Me, Curse of Dark Skin: A longer write-up on this issue, how the church deceptively cut up the Joseph F. Smith quote, and what their scriptures say about dark skin being a curse.

What if Skin Doesn’t Mean Skin: A look at an article during this controversy trying to redefine the word “skin” in order to declare that the scriptures of Mormonism do not teach the curse of dark skin.

What the Church's Scriptures Teach Us About Race: A bigger overview of the church’s scriptures on race, and whether or not it’s fair to claim that the church teaches white supremacy throughout the Book of Mormon and Abraham.

 

3. Book of Abraham Essay – Carefully Citing a Letter that Exposes Joseph Smith as a Positive Source

 

In the church’s Book of Abraham essay, the church is forced to admit that the Egyptian papyri do not mention Abraham and that they date about 2,000 years after Abraham would have lived. Because of these massive problems, the church uses the essay to provide the common apologetics of the ‘lost scroll’ and ‘catalyst theory.’ In laying the groundwork for the catalyst theory, the church provides the following paragraph:

“Neither the Lord nor Joseph Smith explained the process of translation of the book of Abraham, but some insight can be gained from the Lord’s instructions to Joseph regarding translation. In April 1829, Joseph received a revelation for Oliver Cowdery that taught that both intellectual work and revelation were essential to translating sacred records. It was necessary to “study it out in your mind” and then seek spiritual confirmation. Records indicate that Joseph and others studied the papyri and that close observers also believed that the translation came by revelation. As John Whitmer observed, “Joseph the Seer saw these Record[s] and by the revelation of Jesus Christ could translate these records.””

The footnote here (#31) references a letter written by Warren Parrish, with the quote “I have set by his side and penned down the translation of the Egyptian Hieroglyphicks as he claimed to receive it by direct inspiration of Heaven.” Parrish was the former secretary of Joseph Smith who fell out of favor because of what he considered improper financial dealings by the prophet with the Kirtland Safety Society. In this letter Parrish was actually presenting evidence that Joseph was using things like the Book of Abraham and his doomed bank to take advantage of people.

In regards to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, Parrish says in this same letter that “their lives have been one continued scene of lying, deception and fraud, and that too, in the name of God.” (Warren Parrish, letter to the editor, Painesville Republican, Feb. 15, 1838)

The very quote from Parrish is sandwiched in-between lines detailing how Joseph Smith was misleading the members of the church through Zion’s Camp and the Kirtland Safety Society failed bank. Don’t take my word for it, please read the letter that the church cites as proof of the catalyst theory. (Warren Parrish letters - this is the second letter on the page)

Again we have another example where the church is presenting a source to give readers the impression that there’s no reason to research these topics further, when in reality the citation is actually from someone who was very close to Joseph Smith trying to tell others that Joseph was deceiving his followers and was not a prophet of God. The very last sentence of the letter, written in 1838 by Parrish and signed by two other apostles and two seventies, says the following: "They lie by revelation, swindle by revelation, cheat and defraud by revelation, runaway by revelation, and if they do not mend their ways, I fear that they will at last be damned by revelation."

 

2. Polygamy in Kirtland and Nauvoo Essay – Citing the Bible Incorrectly to Justify Polygamy

 

In the church’s gospel topics essay on Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo, the second sentence of the essay is as follows: “In biblical times, the Lord commanded some of His people to practice plural marriage—the marriage of one man and more than one woman.”

The footnote to this sentence refers to three sources: Doctrine and Covenants 132:34–39; Jacob 2:30; see also Genesis 16. The first problem is that the sentence refers to "biblical times" yet only one of the three sources is from the Bible. While I imagine the apologetic response is that Jacob 2:30 is in “biblical times,” the authors are seeking to give credibility to Joseph Smith’s implementation of polygamy by implying that all of the cited sources are from the Bible.

More importantly, D&C 132:34-39 states that God commanded Abraham to sleep with Hagar, his wife’s handmaiden. But according to the Bible it was Abraham’s wife Sara, not God, who told Abraham to take her handmaiden so that Abraham would be able to father children.(Genesis 16:1-3, also cited in the essay). Nowhere in the Bible are men commanded by God to take plural wives, with the one possible exception of Hosea, which was not anything like what Joseph implemented and is not even cited by the essay.

The Book of Mormon author Jacob strongly condemned polygamy, and specifically David’s and Solomon’s practice, which Jacob characterized as an “abomination” before God. (Jacob 2:24). But the author of Jacob did provide a loophole: “For if I will, saith the Lord of Hosts, raise up seed to me, I will command my people, otherwise they shall hearken unto these things.”(Jacob 2:30).

 

The Bible is very clear on some aspects of plural marriage, so we must be very careful about using the Bible as a justification for polygamy because it requires that we pick and choose only the specific verses that suit our needs. For example, Leviticus 18 forbids marrying a mother and her daughter and marrying sisters which is important because, as we will see in this same essay, Joseph Smith and other early leaders did both of these things. (Campbell & Campbell, 1978, Utah Historical Quarterly, V 46, N. 1 ; Daynes, 2001, More Wives Than One, p 70)

The bottom line is that God does not command Abraham to enter into polygamy in the Bible, which is the implication of the second sentence of the essay. In the Book of Mormon, the Lord condemns the practice of David and Solomon as “abominable” which is then flipped in D&C 132 when the Lord, through Joseph Smith, claims that “David also received many wives and concubines, and also Solomon… and in nothing did they sin.”

As a fun bonus to this footnote, the flip in D&C 132 to proclaim that Solomon did not sin with his wives is taught by Joseph Smith in his “Happiness Letter” written to 19 year old Nancy Rigdon following her rejection of Joseph’s polygamous marriage proposal. That letter is one of the most damning evidences of polygamy there is, and when I read the letter in proper context it really showed just how manipulative Joseph Smith was in his proposals. Our recent write-up of the letter includes the history behind the letter as well as a breakdown of the manipulative language that Joseph Smith writes to Nancy Rigdon in an attempt to gain her consent on a polygamous marriage.

1. Race and the Priesthood Essay – Leaving Out the Rest of Brigham Young’s Quote

In the church’s official essay on race and the priesthood, they discuss Brigham Young’s implementation of the ban on black members from the priesthood. The essay cites a quote from Brigham Young in order to try to both soften the ban as well as foreshadow the lifting of it about 130 years later.

From the essay: “At the same time, President Young said that at some future day, black Church members would “have [all] the privilege and more” enjoyed by other members.”

The problem with this footnote (#9) is that they leave out the context of the quote from Brigham Young. From their same citation of Brigham Young’s speech:

 

"Now I tell you what I know; when the mark was put upon Cain, Abels children was in all probability young; the Lord told Cain that he should not receive the blessings of the priesthood nor his seed, until the last of the posterity of Able had received the priesthood, until the redemption of the earth. If there never was a prophet, or apostle of Jesus Christ spoke it before, I tell you, this people that are commonly called Negroes are the children of old Cain. I know they are, I know that they cannot bear rule in the priesthood, for the curse on them was to remain upon the, until the residue of the posterity of Michal and his wife receive the blessings, the seed of Cain would have received had they not been cursed; and hold the keys of the priesthood, until the times of the restitution shall come, and the curse be wiped off from the earth, and from Michael's seed. Then Cain’s seed will be had in remembrance, and the time come when that curse should be wiped off." (Speech by Governor Brigham Young in Joint Session of the Legislature, Feb 5, 1852)

It is very obvious why the church does not want to use the rest of the quote, but it is beyond deceptive to use a carefully selected phrase from the speech to attempt reconciling Brigham Young’s statement with a future lifting of the ban.

Prophet Brigham Young makes it clear that the curse of dark skin would not be lifted “until the last of the posterity of Able had received the priesthood, until the redemption of the earth.” It goes without saying that this never happened, and as such the lifting of the ban contradicts what Prophet Brigham Young made clear in 1852.

 

Furthermore, the quote from Brigham Young makes clear that black skin is the curse, which is another area the church has worked hard to distance itself from. And as we covered in our write-up about what the church’s scriptures tell us about the curse of dark skin, this idea from Brigham Young comes directly from the church’s unique scriptures about race and skin color.

 

This is without question one of the most intentionally deceptive citations in the church’s essays, and any quick reading of the footnote would lead members to discover that what Brigham Young actually said is vastly different than what is presented. Just reading Brigham Young’s talks on the topic of race is difficult even as someone who no longer believes in the church’s truth claims – they are truly abhorrent words from someone we are told had the spirit of God through him as a prophet. Just read the text of Prophet Brigham Young's speech that the church cites, and then ask yourself if that matches what the church is declaring in their essay.

 

Conclusion:

When this website started, the annotated gospel topics essays were the core and I believe are still among the most important resources we offer. Looking at just these ten footnotes illustrates why we feel that the essays are intentionally misleading, as the church’s historians and leaders would know that the very sources they are citing do not fit the claims being made.

 

When M. Russell Ballard told the youth that “We’re as transparent as we know how to be in telling the truth. We have to do that; that’s the Lord’s way,” he must have forgotten that as one of the fifteen he signed off on the gospel topics essays that knowingly included these problems. (2017 Face-to-Face)

 

The church states on their gospel topics essays landing page that “The purpose of these essays, which have been approved by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has been to gather accurate information from many different sources and publications.” As we’ve outlined in our annotations of these essays, they are far from accurate and in some cases intentionally misuse quotes and statistics to keep members from looking under the hood.

As I stated at the beginning, this is just a quick list of ten problematic footnotes that I came across when looking through our annotated essays and the recent Come Follow Me manual issue with the curse of dark skin. There are plenty of other footnotes that could’ve been used in this post from the gospel topics essays, the Saints book, and other church manuals. If anyone comes across a footnote that they feel deserves to be on this list, feel free to send it our way and if there’s a desire for it we can do a part two follow-up.

Little kids sing the song “Follow the Prophet” from their earliest days in primary, and I think now that I’m much older and researching church history that a more appropriate lyric would be “Follow the Footnotes.” In that spirit, I’ll leave you with these lyrics and you’ll know how they’re meant to be heard.

 

The church was losing members, who were Googling the church
So they released essays, to limit your research

They make it seem so simple, with footnotes for their claims
But the footnotes don’t say, what the church proclaims

Follow the footnotes, follow the footnotes
Follow the footnotes; read what they say

Follow the footnotes, follow the footnotes
Follow the footnotes; they’ll show the way

I know this is a difficult process and I how crushing it is to learn a religion you were raised with or converted to is not true. But if the church is true, then you should be able to read through our materials without any fear. As Apostle James Talmage said, "The man who cannot listen to an argument which opposes his views either has a weak position or is a weak defender of it. No opinion that cannot stand discussion or criticism is worth holding." I don't think I could say it better myself, and no amount of apologetic parallels will change that.

 Please email us anytime at ldsdiscussion@gmail.com if you come across a footnote for a future post, would like more resources to learn about these issues, or if you are looking for people that you can safely talk to as you continue your faith journey.

Check us out on Twitter or Facebook as well for future posts and updates. Thanks for reading!

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