Q15: What specifically does the Mormon Church say about African-Americans and Native Americans?

A: Mormons believe that all mankind are sons and daughters of God and should be loved and respected as such. The blessings of the gospel are available to all.

This is what the LDS Church says now, but this is not all that they have taught on the subject. Until 1978 Blacks were withheld the priesthood because of their theology. The LDS Church teaches that before this world was created and populated, there was a war in heaven. Jesus and one of His brothers, Lucifer, both put forth their bids to be the savior for Mankind. Harold B. Lee states on page 219 of Stand Ye in Holy Places,

“When there was war in heaven, Lucifer, a son of God in the spirit world before the earth was formed, proposed a plan under which mortals would be saved without
glory and honor of God.”

His plan was rejected and the plan of Jesus was accepted. Lucifer persuaded one third of God’s sons to rebel and war broke out in heaven. Speaking of this war and it’s participants late LDS apostle Bruce McConkie wrote,

“In the pre-existent eternity various degrees of valiance and devotion to the truth were exhibited by different groups of our Father’s spirit offspring… some were more valiant than others… Those who were less valiant in pre-existence and who thereby had certain spiritual restrictions imposed upon them during mortality are known to us as the negroes. Such spirits are sent to earth through the lineage of Cain, the mark put upon him for his rebellion against God and his murder of Abel being a black skin… Negroes in this life are denied the priesthood; under no circumstances can they hold this delegation of authority from the Almighty… The present status of the negro rests purely and simply on the foundation of pre-existence… The negroes are not equal with other races where the receipt of certain spiritual blessings are concerned, particularly the priesthood and the temple blessings that flow therefrom, but this inequality is not of man’s origin. It is the Lord’s doing, is based on his eternal laws of justice, and grows out of the lack of spiritual valiance of those concerned in
their first estate.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1st ed. [Salt Lake
City: Bookcraft, 1958], 476-477.)

Note that this quote is 20 years before the 1978 change. Regarding Native Americans, Mormonism teaches that they are really Jews who migrated to the new world hundreds of years before the birth of Christ.

Q16: What are or were the “Golden Plates”?

A: The Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith from records made on plates of gold, similar to metal plates that have been found in other ancient cultures. It contained a history of peoples in the Western Hemisphere including an appearance by the Savior to them. As such, the Book of Mormon is considered a second testimony of Jesus Christ.

This answer is adequate although I would add that we do not have these plates to verify their accuracy or even their existence.

Q17: Are consumption of alcohol and tobacco prohibited or simply discouraged?

A: It is against the teachings of the Church to use alcohol and tobacco or to drink tea and coffee.

Not only are they prohibited, it is taught that failing to obey this commandment will bar one from the presence of God. Boyd K. Packer said,

“The Word of Wisdom put restrictions on members of the
Church. To this day those regulations apply to every member and to everyone who
seeks to join the Church. They are so compelling that no one is to be baptized
into the Church without first agreeing to live by them. No one will be called to
teach or to lead unless they accept them. When you want to go to the temple, you
will be asked if you keep the Word of Wisdom. If you do not, you cannot go to
the house of the Lord until you are fully worthy.” The Word of Wisdom: The
Principle and the Promises, President Boyd K. Packer” Ensign, May 1996

Q18: Does the Church also ban the consumption of “hot drinks”? And does that apply specifically to caffeinated drinks?

A: It is against the teachings of the Church to use alcohol and tobacco or to drink tea and coffee.

My personal belief is that this question was not answered because there is no official declaration on what is and is not to be included into the Word of Wisdom, which is the LDS revelation that prohibits tobacco, strong drinks and hot drinks. From personal experience I find that there are almost as many interpretation of what is prohibited as there are Mormons. Bruce McConkie did speak on the subject though.

“Three types of things are prohibited to man by the Word of Wisdom — tobacco,
strong drinks, and hot drinks. By strong drinks is meant alcoholic beverages; hot drinks, according to the Prophet’s own statement, mean tea and coffee. Accordingly the negative side of the Word of Wisdom is a command to abstain from tea, coffee, tobacco, and liquor.

Abstinence from these four things has been accepted by the Church as a measuring rod to determine in part the personal worthiness of church members. When decisions are made relative to the granting of temple recommends or approving brethren for church positions or ordinations, inquiry is made relative to these four items.

Obviously the standard of judgment must be uniform throughout the Church, and local officers are not at liberty to add other items to this list. However, there are many other substances which have a harmful effect on the human body, though such particular things are not specifically prohibited by the Word of Wisdom. Certainly the partaking of cola drinks, though not included within the measuring standard here set out, is in violation of the spirit of the Word of Wisdom. Harmful drugs of any sort are in a like category.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 2d ed. [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], 845.)

Q19: Why do Mormons go from door to door?

A: Christ admonished his disciples to take the gospel to the world. The Church follows that admonition and sends missionaries throughout the world.

This is a sufficient answer.

Q20: What do the Mormons believe about the family?

A: Mormons believe that the family is the foundation for this life and the life to come.

True enough, but what does this mean to the Mormon? Mormonism teaches that the fullness of salvation, i.e. Godhood can only be attained as a family unit. When Mormons are married in their temples, they are considered married for all time and eternity. Once a couple is exalted together in Godhood there is the need for them to procreate spirit children who will then populate the world created by this “God-couple.” Those spirit children will have the same relationship to their heavenly parents as we supposedly do to ours. My previous answer to question number 10 will help understand this.

Q21: Can someone who may never marry in life have eternal marriage?

A: God will not withhold blessings from any of his children who may not have the opportunity to marry in this life.

This is why the majority of the rituals performed in LDS temples are performed on behalf of the dead. After performing these ordinances for themselves, living Mormons have the responsibility to seek out their deceased relatives, and anyone else who has not had the opportunity to participate, and carry out these ordinances on their behalf.

In describing how this works Joseph Fielding Smith wrote,

“We are going to take substitutes who will act vicariously, which means one acting for another, and in the temples they will stand for those who are dead and there, in the behalf of the dead, receive all these blessings for them. When they do this, if the dead accept the labor performed, it is accounted unto them the same as if they had acted for themselves.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 161.)

He also stated,

“Baptism, confirmation, ordination, endowment, and sealings all pertain to this
mortal life and are ordinances required of those who are in mortality. Provision
has been made for these ordinances to be performed vicariously for those who are
worthy but who died without the opportunity in this life of receiving these
ordinances in person.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols.,
edited by Bruce R. McConkie [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 178.)

As you can see from reading my answers, there is a tremendous amount of information that was left out of the LDS Churches response. While I agree that Mormons have the right to dictate, define and explain their own doctrine, they also have the responsibility to give forth-right answers that their audience will understand.

Instead, we find that the LDS spokesperson has taken advantage of the apparent ignorance of the reporter’s poorly worded questions. Rather than answering the spirit of the question, the Mormon Church takes the path of least resistance and attempts to mislead the public as to its core beliefs. As long as this policy remains prominent with those speaking on behalf of Mormonism, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will always be thought a cult. There are plenty of misunderstandings about Mormonism and their answers to these 21 questions are a perfect example of why that is the case.

For a clear explanation of the Mormon World view, read what I believe to be the best description from an official LDS Church teaching manual.

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