Monday, April 20, 2020

Growth trends 2019, M2C, SITH

Last year I discussed the growth trends in the Church.

A recent Times and Seasons blog post noted that the August 1993 Ensign included this projection:

If growth rates for the past decade remain constant, membership will increase to 12 million by the year 2000, to 35 million by 2020, and to 157 million by the mid-twenty-first century. 

Those growth rates have not remained constant. The Church's 2019 Statistical Report released the week after General Conference reported 16,565,036 members. That's less than half of what was projected in 1993.

Nevertheless, there's a lot to be grateful for. Every time someone joins the Church, we are all enriched. The person joins a wonderful, world-wide family of believers in Christ who serve one another with love and compassion.

I spoke about that in my presentation at the FIRM Foundation conference last week.

The Statistical Report showed 248,835 convert baptisms, an increase from 234,332 in 2018. There were 67,021 full-time missionaries, up from 65,137 in 2018. For good analysis, see http://ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com/.

Although convert baptisms are not publicly reported by country, much if not all of the increase can be attributed to Brazil, which had an increased membership of 35,319 during 2019. This was 24,502 more people than the increase in membership in 2018. Maybe having an Apostle from Brazil made a difference. 

But there remain areas of concern.

In the United States, for example, the annual growth in Church membership was the lowest reported by the Church since approximately the mid-1800s. 

The increase of convert baptisms in 2019 of 14,503 is in the right direction, but how does 248,835 compare? People tell me all the time that our missionaries face obstacles because people are more "worldly" and "less interested in spiritual things."

Maybe so, but is that a valid excuse?

The Seventh-day Adventists had 5,065 missionaries in 2017. They reported 1,352,931 "accessions" (by baptism or profession of faith) in 2017 (the latest numbers I can find).

Their detailed statistical report shows that they've had accessions of over 1 million per year for several years. Between 2016 and 2017, they've grown from 20,008,779 to 20,727,347. (online here:
http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Statistics/ASR/ASR2019.pdf)

BTW, it would be pretty cool to have a Church statistical report with as much detail as the Seventh-day Adventists provide.

Last year, I noted that 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, lost LDS membership from 2017 to 2018.

From 2018 to 2019, 12 states lost LDS membership. Some were the same states that lost membership between 2017 and 2018, but others were new.


Last year, I mentioned the LDS chapel I saw for sale in South Burlington, VT. It sold in late 2019.

The buyer was the Islamic Society of Vermont.

Comments to the Times and Seasons blog post included these observations about Australia and Scotland:

In Australia the church say there are 155,000 members. There are 41 stakes, and 9 mission districts. The census say there are 60,000 members (not all claiming to be active). So maybe one third of claims.

Total membership (31 Dec 2017) — 13,912
Latter-day Saint Census affiliation (2011) — 4,651
First Quarter Average Attendance (2019) — 2453
• Stake 1 — 403
• Stake 2 — 499
• Stake 3 — 507
• Stake 4 — 581
• Stake 5 — 463


https://timesandseasons.org/index.php/2020/04/mid-1990s-projections-for-2020-revisited/

I could go on, but I suppose most members outside of Utah can relate similar statistics.

Every member of the Church ought to think about what we are doing to help the work of the Restoration.
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There are undoubtedly many factors involved with missionary and retention issues. We can all think of lots of excuses for why the Restoration is not proceeding as it has in the past in terms of membership, awareness, activity, etc.

In my view, M2C, SITH, and other revisionist history and scholarly changes to what the prophets have taught continue to create barriers for outsiders to seriously consider conversion.

A better approach, IMO, is to read afresh what the prophets have taught, starting with the original sources from Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. I discussed some of those sources here:

http://www.bookofmormoncentralamerica.com/2020/04/reading-afresh-vs-m2c.html

I can't make sense of the idea that it is a good idea to reject (or even modify) what Joseph and Oliver taught about the identity of the Lamanites, the location of the Hill Cumorah, the translation of the Book of Mormon, and other topics.

For example, to me, Joseph translating the ancient Nephite plates is a plausible scenario. The KJV itself is a translation of ancient languages. True, Greek and Latin were well known, but translation is a common human endeavor. The point of the Urim and Thummim was to "magnify to the eyes of men" the writing on the plates. Joseph studied the characters, copying and translating them with the Urim and Thummim. We can't say how it works, but the concept makes sense.

Mormon and Moroni abridged the ancient records, which makes sense. Moroni preserved the plates by concealing them in a stone box. That makes sense, too.

Ensign: Joseph Smith not using the plates
However, Joseph merely reading words that mysteriously appeared on a stone in the hat (SITH) makes no sense.

While that narrative is being taught in the Ensign, the Saints book, the current lesson manuals, etc., it directly contradicts the scriptures and what Joseph and Oliver always said.

There are exactly zero accounts to support this illustration that appears in the Ensign and recent Church videos.

Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery never once said or even implied that Joseph Smith produced the Book of Mormon by reading words that appeared on the stone in the hat.

To the contrary, they always said that Joseph translated the plates with the Urim and Thummim that Moroni placed in the stone box with the plates. The Eight Witnesses testified that "as many of the leaves as the said Smith has translated we did handle with our hands."

Obviously, if Joseph translated the leaves of the plates as these witnesses testified, the plates were not sitting under a cloth the whole time.

Until recent years, it was only the critics of the Church who promoted SITH. Now we read about it in the Ensign. The youth are taught SITH in seminary and institute. Presumably missionaries are teaching this in the field.

I can't imagine teaching people that the Book of Mormon was produced from a supernatural teleprompter, with the plates serving as nothing more than a prop on the table, hidden under a cloth, with the Urim and Thummim nowhere to be found.

It seems completely predictable that fewer and fewer people will find SITH credible, let alone appealing.

After all, we're asking people to make the biggest change in their lives.
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I'm hoping that more and more members of the Church read afresh the teachings of the prophets, as President Nelson advised. In so doing, they will rely less and less on the theories of men, taught by so many intellectuals in the Church.

Maybe the pause in missionary work due to the corona virus will prove to be a time for reflection and renewal. Maybe we can read afresh the teachings of the prophets and recognize that their accounts make far more sense than the imaginations of the scholars.




Friday, April 10, 2020

Firm Foundation Expo

People around the world who are staying home for public health reasons are spending a lot of time on the Internet. Some are learning new things and building their talent stacks.

Here's a suggestion. Spend some time learning more about the Book of Mormon and related topics.

Many readers of this blog are aware of the Expo, but there are always new readers here, so I'm bringing it to your attention.

Here's the link:

https://firmfoundationexpo.org/

Enjoy!

Friday, March 27, 2020

Why keep talking about the New York Cumorah?

The title of this blog alludes to the wars described in the Book of Mormon, but the substance is the ongoing differences of opinion about Book of Mormon geography and historicity.

Framing the debate as a "war" is hyperbole, of course. Most Church members are not angry or emotional about their differences of opinion. They seek to understand and are interested in exploring the facts and various interpretations.

True, some people who have invested heavily in M2C get angry, but their bias is transparent, which destroys their credibility anyway. We can't expect employees of M2C advocacy groups to do anything but defend their employers. As Upton Sinclair said long ago, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

Some people want to see a cease-fire, which I'd be fine with if there were any casualties other than the egos of the M2C intellectuals and their followers. Instead, casualties from M2C continue to accumulate because it has become the de facto position of the Church. As such, people unfortunately attribute the logical and factual errors of M2C to the Church itself and lose their faith (or decline to continue with the missionaries).

Despite the bruised egos of the M2C intellectuals, I think it's important to continue to create a record, in print and on the Internet, of evidence that supports the teachings of the prophets about the New York Cumorah.

In the future, when the prophecies are fulfilled, it will be important for the world to know that there have been faithful Latter-day Saints who accepted the teachings of the prophets all along.

The alternative is to remain silent as M2C further entrenches itself as the de facto position of the Church, only to be exposed as a hoax when the prophecies are fulfilled.

What prophecies, you might wonder?

Start with this one: http://www.lettervii.com/p/president-ivins-on-new-york-cumorah.html
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For new readers, here's a quick summary. There are three basic positions on these questions:

1. The Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is in New York as taught by LDS prophets.

2. The Hill Cumorah of Mormon 6:6 is elsewhere (such as in southern Mexico as taught by M2C intellectuals and their followers).

3. The Hill Cumorah does not exist in the real world (as taught by anti-LDS critics and the CES/BYU maps of Book of Mormon geography).

I accept alternative #1 and write blogs and books to explain why I disagree with #2 and #3.

When I started this blog, I actually thought there was a possibility of reaching a consensus of some sort among active LDS about this issue. By now, it's apparent that a consensus is unlikely, although I still discuss the possibility of consensus on the other blog:
 http://bookofmormonconsensus.blogspot.com/

Friday, February 7, 2020

Visiting Australia and preparing for the Second Coming

In the January 2020 Ensign, President Ballard wrote this:

The Lord is now preparing the world for His Second Coming, just as He prepared the world for the Restoration of His eternal gospel.

I'm wondering what that looks like. Does it have anything to do with the reality that everywhere in the world, people are becoming more prosperous, kind, loving, and happy? That's what the statistics show, and anecdotally I've observed these trends everywhere I've traveled over the last several decades.

I'm spending some time in western Australia right now. When we're not exploring new areas, I'm golfing every day and working on another book. Perth strikes me as one of the very best cities in the world in terms of livability, safety, harmony with the environment, emphasis on health and fitness, and generally kind people.

There are problems here, no doubt, arising in part from rapid economic and population growth in the context of cyclical trends for mining and other industries. But this city is exceptional in many ways.

There are about 15,000 LDS members in Western Australia in 4 Stakes and 1 Mission, all centered in Perth. Perth also has a temple. The LDS population is 0.62% of the total population of  the area (2.4 million inhabitants).

We attended a wonderful ward here last Sunday. I visited with the missionaries and a local member. I also visited with some of the workers at the temple. The results: pretty much the same as everywhere we travel. Awesome people, blaming stagnation in the Church on people being too comfortable in their lives to change their beliefs.

There are about 153,000 members in Australia, about the same as Florida (159,000), which has a comparable population (as of 2018).

Australia - 23,470,000
Florida - 21,300,000

Australia has an average of 505 members per ward/branch (224 wards, 79 branches as of 2018, a reduction of 3 wards and 3 branches from 2017, which was a reduction of 3 branches from 2016). Florida has 587 members/unit, but that could include part-time residents, of whom there are many. (In the overall U.S., there are 468 members/unit.)

Branches are smaller, so allocating members proportionately to wards and branches would mean there are at least 750 members per average ward here (assuming the membership numbers don't include a large "unknown" file). There were about 125 in attendance Sunday. I was told that the other ward that shares the building is "much smaller." One of the missionaries had recently been transferred from a small branch that had only 2 youth after one family moved away.

Twenty years ago, the average membership per unit was around 350. Generally, high per unit numbers mean high inactivity. (For example, in Chile, there are around 1,000 members/unit.)

I pointed out in another blog that, according to census records, the largest religious affiliation in Perth is None, followed by Roman Catholic, Anglican, Buddhism, Islam, and Hinduism. LDS come in 26th place, at 0.3%. This is well below Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists.
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All of this leads me to ponder what it means to say the Lord is preparing the world for his Second Coming.

President Ballard's awesome message about the preparation for the Restoration doesn't mention the Internet. We all know how much the Internet has connected people around the world. The other day we met a young man from Canada who lives near Ottawa. He was on a two-week "round the world" trip, stopping in every continent except Antarctica. We had lots to discuss because I've visited every place he's going, except for one city. He also wanted to hear about the week I spent in Antarctica.

The people in whose home we're staying are currently spending a few months in Germany. A guy I went golfing with a few days ago trades homes with people from around the world.

Everybody is connected, it seems, and that helps explain why people everywhere are more understanding, patient, and loving. Old prejudices are fading as people get to know one another. Language barriers are overcome with AI-driven translators everyone has on their phones. With some exceptions, everyone is tolerant and respectful of others' religions and cultural practices.

In my view, people everywhere are more prepared than ever to accept the Gospel. Then what accounts for the stagnant growth and activity?

We'll discuss this more in upcoming days and weeks.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Come Follow Me, one more time

As a follow-up to my post on the changes to the manual, I'm providing a link to an article that you might find useful, as well as an excerpt from Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

https://www.ldsliving.com/How-We-Misinterpret-Black-and-Curse-in-the-Scriptures-Insights-from-a-Black-Convert/s/88562?fbclid=IwAR263d2GFE2UVRUW-LsNkD8pVdn1rPx2XKLAbLK2HggU2TBcF6kreOYr0yI

The article includes an important account:

After his presentation, a couple approached Perkins. “They were both sobbing, almost uncontrollably. When they were able to compose themselves, [the wife] admitted that she and her family are racists and have been racist all their lives. She mentioned that they use the N-word every day. She cried, ‘No one ever told us this!’” Perkins says. “She was ashamed of how she had lived her life up to that point, in how she had thought about, spoke about, and treated other children of God. I remember the penetrating words of her husband. He stated, ‘I value my word. And good people taught me those things, and I believed them and taught them boldly to others. I can’t believe I hurt so many people with things that were just not true.’”
That day, Perkins witnessed what he had seen on countless occasions—the way incorrect teachings or misinterpreted scripture can warp people’s understanding of the gospel and each other. But he also witnessed how the truth and our Savior’s grace can transform our understanding and our hearts—a transformation he knows from experience.

In like manner, many Church members (and nonmembers) have had the experience of realizing that incorrect teachings and misinterpreted scripture can warp people's understanding of the Book of Mormon.
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Here is the excerpt from Benjamin Rush, published in 1773. You can find this on Wordcruncher, the software that I hope all my readers have and use regularly.

An address to the inhabitants of the British settlements, on the slavery of the Negroes in America. To which is added, A vindication of the address, in answer to a pamphlet entitled, "Slavery not forbidden in Scripture; or, A defence of the West India planters." / By a Pennsylvanian. ; [Fifteen lines of verse, signed Proteus]

Address to the inhabitants of the British settlements in America, upon slave-keeping
Rush, Benjamin, 1746–1813.
The second edition.
[2], 28, [2], 54 p. ; 22 cm. (8 vo)
Printed and sold by John Dunlap.,
Philadelphia: :
M,DCC,LXXIII. [1773]
Attributed to Benjamin Rush in the Dictionary of American biography.

SO much hath been said upon the subject of Slave-Keeping, that an Apology may be required for this Address. The only one I shall offer is, that the Evil still continues. This may in part be owing to the great attachment we have to our own Interest, and in part, to the subject not being fully exhausted. The design of the following address is to sum up the leading arguments against it, several of which have not been urged by any of those Authors who have written upon it.

Without entering into the History of the facts which relate to the Slave Trade, I shall proceed to combat the principal arguments which are used to support it.

I need hardly say any thing in favour of the Intellects of the Negroes, or of their capacities for virtue and happiness, although these have been supposed, by some, to be inferior to [Page 2] those of the inhabitants of Europe. The accounts which travellers give us of their ingenuity, humanity, and strong attachment to their parents, relations, friends and country, show us that they are equal to the Europeans, when we allow for the diversity of temper and genius which is occasioned by climate. We have many well-attested anecdotes of as sublime and disinterested virtue among them as ever adorned a Roman or a Christian character. But we are to distinguish between an African in his own country, and an African in a state of slavery in America. Slavery is so foreign to the human mind, that the moral faculties, as well as those of the understanding are debased, and rendered torpid by it. All the vices which are charged upon the Negroes in the southern colonies and the West-Indies, such as Idleness, Treachery, Theft, and the like, are the genuine offspring of slavery, and serve as an argument to prove that they were not intended for it.

Nor let it be said, in the present Age, that their black color (as it is commonly called) either [Page 3] subjects them to, or qualifies them for slavery. The vulgar notion of their being descended from Cain, who was supposed to have been marked with this color, is too absurd to need a refutation.—Without enquiring into the Cause of this blackness, I shall only add upon this subject, that so far from being a curse, it subjects the Negroes to no inconveniencies, [Page 4] but on the contrary qualifies them for that part of the Globe in which providence has placed them. The ravages of heat, diseases and time, appear less in their faces than in a white one; and when we exclude variety of color from our ideas of Beauty, they may be said to possess every thing necessary to constitute it in common with the white people..

It has been urged by the inhabitants of the Sugar Islands and South Carolina, that it would be impossible to carry on the manufactories of Sugar, Rice, and Indigo, without negro slaves. No manufactory can ever be of consequence enough to society to admit the least violation of the Laws of justice or humanity. But I am far from thinking the arguments used in favour of employing Negroes for the cultivation of these articles, should have any Weight.—M. Le Poivre, late envoy from the king of France, to [Page 5] the king of Cochin-China, and now intendant of the isles of Bourbon and Mauritius, in his observations upon the manners and arts of the various nations in Africa and Asia, speaking of the culture of sugar in Cochin-China, has the following remarks.—"It is worthy observation too, that the sugar cane is there cultivated by freemen, and all the process of preparation and refining, the work of free hands. Compare then the price of the Cochin-Chinese production with the same commodity which is cultivated and prepared by the wretched slaves of our European colonies, and judge if, to procure sugar from our colonies, it was necessary to authorize by law the slavery of the unhappy Africans transported to America.  From what I have observed at Cochin-China, I cannot entertain a doubt, but that our WestIndia colonies, had they been distributed, without reservation amongst a free people, would [Page 6] have produced double the quantity that is now procured from the labour of the unfortunate negroes."

"What advantage, then, has accrued to Europe, civilized as it is, and thoroughly versed in the laws of nature, and the rights of mankind, by legally authorizing in our colonies, the daily outrages against human nature, permitting them to debase man almost below the level of the beasts of the field? These slavish laws have proved as opposite to its interest, as they are to its honour, and to the laws of humanity. This remark I have often made."

"Liberty and property form the basis of abundance, and good agriculture: I never observed it to flourish where those rights of mankind were not firmly established. The earth, which multiplies her productious with a kind of profusion, under the hands of the free-born labourer, seems to shrink into barrenness under the sweat of the slave. Such is the will of the great Author of our Nature, who has created man free, and assigned to him the earth, that he might cultivate his possession with the [Page 7] sweat of his brow; but still should enjoy his Liberty." Now if the plantations in the islands and the southern colonies were more limited, and freemen only employed in working them, the general product would be greater, although the profits to individuals would be less,—a circumstance this, which by diminishing opulence in a few, would suppress Luxury and Vice, and promote that equal distribution of property, which appears best calculated to promote the welfare of Society.— I know it has been said by some, that none but the natives of warm climates could undergo the [Page 8] `excessive heat and labor of the West-India islands. But this argument is founded upon an error; for the reverse of this is true. I have been informed by good authority, that one European who escapes the first or second year, will do twice the work, and live twice the number of years that an ordinary Negro man will do nor need we be surpriz’d at this, when we hear that such is the natural fertility of soil, and so numerous the spontaneous fruits of the earth in the interior parts of Africa, that the natives live in plenty at the expence of little or no labor, which, in warm climates, has ever been found to be incompatible with long life and happiness. Future ages, therefore, when they read the accounts of the Slave Trade (—if they do not regard them as fabulous) — will be at a loss which to condemn most, our folly or our Guilt, in abetting this direct violation of the Laws of nature and Religion.

But there are some who have gone so far as to say that Slavery is not repugnant to the Genius of Christianity, and that it is not forbidden in any part of the Scripture. Natural [Page 9] and Revealed Religion always speak the same things, although the latter delivers its precepts with a louder and more distinct voice than the former. If it could be proved that no testimony was to be found in the Bible against a practice so pregnant with evils of the most destructive tendency to society, it would be sufficient to overthrow its divine Original. We read it is true of Abraham’s having slaves born in his house; and we have reason to believe, that part of the riches of the patriarchs consisted in them; but we can no more infer the lawfulness of the practice, from the short account which the Jewish historian gives us of these facts, than we can vindicate telling a lie, because Rahab is not condemned for it in the account which is given of her deceiving the king of Jericho.  We read that some of the same men indulged themselves in a plurality of wives, without any strictures being made upon their conduct for it; and yet no one will pretend to say, that this is not forbidden in many parts of the [Page 10] Old Testament. But we are told the Jews kept the Heathens in perpetual bondage . The Design of providence in permitting this evil, was probably to prevent the Jews from marrying amongst strangers, to which their intercourse with them upon any other footing than that of slaves, would naturally have inclined them . Had this taken place—their national religion would have been corrupted—they would have contracted all their vices , and the intention of Providence in keeping them a distant people, in order to accomplish the promise made to Abraham, that "in his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed," would have been defeated; [Page 11] so that the descent of the Messiah from Abraham, could not have been traced, and the divine commission of the Son of God, would have wanted one of its most powerful argument […]​ to support […]​. But with regard to their own countrymen, it is plain, perpetual slavery was not tolerated. Hence, at the end of seven years or in the year of the jubilee, all the Hebrew slaves were set at liberty , and it was held unlawful to detain them in servitude longer than that time, except by their own Consent.  But if, in the partial Revelation which God [Page 12] made, of his will to the Jews, we find such testimonies against slavery, what may we not expect from the Gospel, the Design of which was to abolish all distinctions of name and county. While the Jews thought they complied with the precepts of the law, in confining the love of their neighbour "to the children of their own people," Christ commands us to look upon all mankind even our Enemies  as our neighbours and brethren, and "in all things, to do unto them whatever we would wish they should do unto us." He tells us further that his "Kingdom is not of this World," and therefore constantly avoids saying any thing that might interfere directly with the Roman or Jewish Governments: and although he does not call upon masters to emancipate their slaves, or slaves to assert that Liberty wherewith God and Nature had made them free, yet there is scarcely a parable or a sermon in the whole history of his life, but what contains the strongest arguments against Slavery. Every prohibition [Page 13] of Covetousness—Intemperance—Pride—Uncleanness—Theft—and Murder, which he delivered,—every lesson of meekness, humility, forbearance, Charity, Self-denial, and brotherly-love, which he taught, are levelled against this evil;—for Slavery, while it includes all the former Vices, necessarily excludes the practice of all the latter Virtues, both from the Master and the Slave.—Let such, therefore, who vindicate the traffic of buying and selling; Souls, seek some modern System of Religion to support it, and not presume to sanctify their crimes by attempting to reconcile it to the sublime and perfect Religion of the Great Author of Christianity.

[Page 14]There are some amongst us who cannot help allowing the force of our last argument, but plead as a motive for importing and keeping slaves, that they become acquainted with the principles of the religion of our country.—This is like justifying a highway robbery because part [Page 15] of the money acquired in this manner was appropriated to some religious use.—Christianity will never be propagated by any other methods than those employed by Christ and his Apostles. Slavery is an engine as little fitted for that purpose as Fire or the Sword. A Christian Slave is a contradiction in terms.  But if we enquire into the methods employed for converting the Negroes to Christianity, we shall find the means suited to the end proposed. In many places Sunday is appropriated to work for themselves, reading and writing are discouraged among them. A belief is even inculcated amongst some, that they have no Souls. In a word,—Every attempt to instruct or convert them, has [Page 16] been constantly opposed by their masters. Nor has the example of their christian masters any tendency to prejudice them in favor of our religion. How often do they betray, in their sudden transports of anger and resentment, (againsst which there is no restraint provided towards their Negroes) the most violent degrees of passion and fury!—What luxury—what ingratitude to the supreme being—what impiety in their ordinary conversation do some of them discover in the presence of their slaves! I say nothing of the dissolution of marriage vows, or the entire abolition of matrimony, which the frequent sale of them introduces, and which are directly contrary to the laws of nature and the principles of christianity. Would to Heaven I could here conceal the shocking violations of chastity, which some of them are obliged to undergo without daring to complain. Husbands have been forced to prostitute their wives, and mothers their daughters to gratify the brutal lust of a master. This—all—this is practised—Blush—ye impure and hardened wretches, while I repeat it—by men who call themselves christians!

[Page 17]But further—It has been said that we do a kindness to the Negroes by bringing them to America, as we thereby save their lives, which had been forfeited by their being conquered in war. Let such as prefer or inflict slavery rather than Death, disown their being descended from or connected with our mother countries.—But it will be found upon enquiry, that many are stolen or seduced from their friends who have never been conquered; and it is plain, from the testimony of historians and travellers, [Page 18] that wars were uncommon among them, until the christians who began the slave trades stirred up the different nations to fight against each other. Sooner let them imbrue their hands in each others blood, or condemn one another to perpetual slavery, than the name of one christian, or one American, be stained by the perpetration of such enormous crimes.
Nor let it be urged that by treating slaves well, we render their situation happier in this Country, than it was in their own.—Slavery and Vice are connected together, and the latter is always a source of misery. Besides, by the greatest humanity we can show them, we only lessen, but do not remove the crime, for the injustice of it continues the same. The laws of retribution are so strongly inculcated by the moral governor of the world, that even the ox is entitled to his reward for "treading the Corn." How great then must be the amount of that injustice, which deprives so many of our fellow creatures of the Just reward of their […]​.

But it will be asked here, What steps shall we take to remedy this Evil, and what shall [Page 19] we do with those Slaves we have already in this Country? This is indeed a most difficult question.’ But let every man contrive to answer it for himself. —

The first thing I would recommend to put a stop to slavery in this country, is to leave off importing slaves. For this purpose let our assemblies unite in petitioning the king and parliament to dissolve the African committee of merchants: It is by them that the trade is chiefly carried on to America. We have the more reason to expect relief from an application at this juncture, as by a late decision in favor of a Virginia slave in Westminster-Hall, the Clamors of the whole nation are raised against them. Let such of our countrymen as engage in the slave trade, be shunned as the greatest enemies to our country, and let the vessels which bring the slaves to us, be avoided as if they bore in them the Seeds of that forbidden fruit, whose baneful taste destroyed both the natural and moral world.— As for the Negroes among us, who, from having acquired all the low vices of slavery, or who from age or [Page 20] infirmities are unfit to be set at liberty, I would propose, for the good of society, that they should continue the property of those with whom they grew old, or from whom they contracted those vices and infirmities. But let the young Negroes be educated in the principles of virtue and religion—let them be taught to read, and write—and afterwards instructed in some business, whereby they may be able to maintain themselves. Let laws be made to limit the time of their servitude, and to entitle them to all the privileges of free-born British subjects. At any rate let Retribution be to done God and to Society 

[Page 21]And now my countrymen, What shall I add more to rouse up your Indignation against Slavekeeping. Consider the many complicated crimes it involves in it. Think of the bloody Wars which are fomented by it, among the African nations, or if these are too common to affect you, [Page 22] think of the pangs which attend the dissolution of the ties of nature in those who are stolen from their relations. Think of the many thousands who perish by sickness, melancholy, and suicide, in their voyages to America. Pursue the poor devoted victims to one of the West India islands, and see them exposed there to public sale. Hear their cries, and see their looks of tenderness at each other, upon being seperated.—Mothers are torn from their Daughters, and Brothers from Brothers, without the liberty of a parting embrace. Their master’s name is now marked upon their breasts with a red hot iron. But let us pursue them into a Sugar Field: and behold a scene still more affecting than this—See! the poor wretches with what reluctance they take their instruments of labor into their hands,—Some of them, overcome with heat and sickness, seek to refresh themselves by a little rest.—But, behold an Overseer approaches them—In vain they sue for pity.—He lifts up his Whip, while streams of Blood follow every stroke. Neither age nor sex are spared.—Methinks one of them is woman far advanced in her pregnancy.—At a little distance from these [Page 23] behold a man, who from his countenance and deportment appears as if he was descended from illustrious ancestors—Yes—He is the son of a Prince, and was torn by a stratagem, from an amiable wife and two young children.—Mark his sullen looks!—now he bids defiance to the tyranny of his Master, and in an instant—plunges a Knife into his Heart.—But let us return from this Scene, and see the various modes of arbitrary punishments inflicted upon them by their masters. Behold one covered with stripes, into which melted wax is poured—another tied down to a block or a stake—a third suspended in the air by his thumbs—a fourth—I cannot relate it.—Where now is Law or Justice?—Let us fly to them to step in for their relief.—Alas!—The one is silent, and the other denounces more terrible, punishments upon them. Let us attend the place appointed for inflicting the penalties of the law. See here one without a limb, whose only crime was an attempt to regain his Liberty.—another led to a Gallows for stealing a morsel of Bread, to which his labor gave him a better [Page 24] title than his master—a third famishing on a gibbet—a fourth, in a flame of Fire! his shrieks pierce the very heavens.—O! God! where is thy Vengeance!—O! Humanity—Justice—Liberty—Religion!—Where,—where are ye fled.—

This is no exaggerated Picture. It is taken from real Life.—Before I conclude I shall take the liberty of addressing several Classes of my countrymen in behalf of our Brethren (for by that name may we now call them) who are in a state of Slavery amongst us.

In the first place let MAGISTRATES both supreme and inferior, exert the authority they are invested with, in suppressing this evil. Let them discountenance it by their example, and show a readiness to concur in every measure proposed to remedy it.

Let LEGISLATORS, reflect upon the trust reposed in them. Let their laws be made after the Spirit of Religion—Liberty—and our most excellent English Constitution. You cannot show your attachment to your King, or your love to your country better, than by suppressing an evil which endangers the dominions of the [Page 25] former, and will in Time destroy the liberty of the latter.  Population, and the accession of strangers, in which the Riches of all countries consist, can only flourish in proportion as slavery is discouraged. Extend the privileges we enjoy, to every human creature born amongst us, and let not the Journals of our Assemblies be disgraced with the records of laws, which allow exclusive privileges to men of one color in preference to another. 

Ye men of SENSE and VIRTUE—Ye ADVOCATES [Page 26] for American Liberty, rouse up and espouse; the cause of Humanity and general Liberty. Bear a testimony against a vice which degrades human nature, and dissolves that universal tie of benevolence which should connect all the children of men together in one great Family.—The plant of liberty is of so tender a Nature, that it cannot thrive long in the neighbourhood of slavery. Remember the eyes of all Europe are fixed upon you, to preserve an asylum for freedom in this country, after the last pillars of it are fallen in every other quarter of the Globe.

But chiefly—ye MINISTERS OF THE GOSPEL, whose dominion over the principles and actions of men is so universally acknowledged and felt,—Ye who estimate the worth of your fellow creatures by their Immortality, and therefore must look upon all mankind as equal,—let your zeal keep pace with your opportunities to put a stop to slavery. While you enforce the duties of "tithe and cummin," neglect not the weightier laws of justice and humanity. Slavery is an Hydra sin, and includes in it every violation of the precepts of the Law and the [Page 27] Gospel. In vain will you command your flocks to offer up the incence of Faith and Charity, while they continue to mingle the Sweat and blood of Negro slaves with their sacrifices.—If the Blood of Able cried aloud for vengeance;—If, under the Jewish dispensation, Cities of refuge could not screen the deliberate murderer—if even manslaughter required sacrifices to expiate it,—and if a single murder so seldom escapes with impunity in any civilized country, what may you not say against that trade, or those manufactures—or Laws,  which destroy the lives of so many thousands of our fellow creatures every year?—If in the Old Testament "God swears by his holiness, and by the excellency of Jacob, that the Earth shall tremble and every one mourn that dwelleth therein [Page 28] for the iniquity of those who oppress the poor and crush the needy," who buy the poor with silver, and the needy with a pair of shoes, what judgments may you not denounce upon those who continue to perpetrate these crimes, after the more full discovery which God has made of the law of Equity in the New-Testament. Put them in mind of the Rod which was held over them a few years ago in the Stamp, and Revenue Acts. Remember that national crimes require national punishments, and without declaring what punishment awaits this evil, you may venture to assure them, that it cannot pass with impunity, unless God shall cease to be just or merciful.

THE END.


Monday, February 3, 2020

update on Phoenicia

Long-time readers know about the Phoenicia expedition. Here's an important press release:

https://docs.google.com/document/u/0/d/1F2igPkE5Wmas04uaRGD5eJqzNCV6ESOVavzXv0bBMUM/mobilebasic?usp=gmail

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/ij18tmijUtdKFic7NXKa_4ncNQocyXlhRqGsCV1w-aQc9tLXvCOiOQRX4_3u8jDlpv91sCOeQcIKZ27ElvpQAzTrEMGuS3g0s4vHI8rV75J3nErZ41DC2ytfpB3MWiRMpw=s800
Replica Phoenician Ship Makes Landfall in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
after 
Unprecedented 6,000-Mile Atlantic Voyage

Tuesday, February 4, 2020 at 12:
00pm
(Time is approximate due to sea and weather conditions)
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., Jan. 31, 2020 -- Coral Ridge Yacht Club is set to host replica Phoenician ship, Phoenicia for its first U.S. landing after a five-month voyage of over 6,000 miles. The voyage is part of the Phoenicians Before Columbus Expedition, designed with the help of the US-based Phoenician International Research Center, to show that Phoenician ships could have crossed the Atlantic over 2,000 years before Christopher Columbus “discovered” the American continent.
The Phoenicia began its voyage from Carthage, Tunisia on September 28, 2019. After sailing from Carthage to Cadiz, Spain, Essaouira, Morocco and Tenerife in the Canary Islands, the ship left the Old World on November 23, 2019 and safely reached port in the Dominican Republic on December 31, 2019, having crossed the Atlantic Ocean using nothing but wind, current, sail and compass.
The Phoenicia will make landfall on American shores Tuesday, February 4, 2020, docking at Coral Ridge Yacht Club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (2800 Yacht Club Boulevard). Viewing of the landing is open to the public. To reserve a space, call Coral Ridge Yacht Club at 954-566-7886.
“We are honored to host the Phoenicia and its crew at Coral Ridge Yacht Club, and to be part of this exciting moment in history,” said Commodore Pru Lewis. “We are also excited to welcome the local community to our Club to view this magnificent ship.”

The Phoenicia is a traditionally-built replica of a Phoenician merchant vessel, based on a 600 BC design. British Adventurer and Expedition Leader, Philip Beale FRGS, captains the Phoenicia, sailing with a multi-national crew with representatives from the United States, Lebanon, Tunisia, United Kingdom, Norway, Holland, Brazil and Indonesia. Amongst the crew is filmmaker Yuri Sanada from Aventuras Produções, Brazil. He is documenting life on board as well as the challenges the Phoenicians were likely to have faced. 
According to Greek geographer and historian, Strabo, the Phoenicians traded and settled along the East Atlantic coast, prompting Beale’s belief in the likelihood that the Phoenicians would have attempted to sail West in the hope of discovering more lands. Beale commissioned the building of the Phoenicia ship 12 years ago. It was traditionally built in Syria and its design was based on the wreckage of the Jules Vernes 7, discovered in the Mediterranean in the early 1990’s. The Phoenicia is believed to be the only replica of its kind in the world. Having already circumnavigated Africa in the First Phoenician Ship expedition (2008-10), Beale was once again at the helm for the cross Atlantic challenge; reiterating his passion for the seafaring Phoenicians. 

The Expedition has been endorsed by the Ministries of Information and Tourism of the Republic of Lebanon and received support, expedition supplies and services from numerous organizations in the Republic of Tunisia, prior to the launch of the Expedition from Carthage, Tunisia in September 2019. The Expedition is part of the United Nations Environment ‘
Clean Seas Campaign’, taking daily water samples to measure micro plastic levels and raising awareness about plastic pollution in the ocean.

A wide international following has already grown for this unusual and inspired endeavor. Some believe the Phoenicians made it to the Americas and look for genealogy and archaeological evidence there. Beale is focused on highlighting their engineering and maritime skills and hopes that one day his work will contribute to wider archaeological findings to inform a bigger Phoenician story. Phoenicians 
Before Columbus is approved by the UK’s Scientific Exploration Society and the expedition is the proud recipient of the 2019 Captain Scott Society’s ‘Spirit of Adventure’ Award.

The journey across the Atlantic from Tenerife to the Dominican Republic took 39 days, a distance of some 3,700 miles. From the Dominican Republic to Florida, the journey of 1,000 miles 
will take 12 days. Once completed, the total voyage from Carthage, Tunisia to Florida will have covered over 6,000 miles, taking five months to complete.
For more information or media inquiries, contact:
Roz Alford, Coral Ridge Yacht Club
Cell: 404-580-0387




ABOUT CORAL RIDGE YACHT CLUBFor over 70 years, Coral Ridge Yacht Club has beckoned to those who love the water, enjoy an active social life and who desire living life to the fullest. Established in 1947, the Club is located on Florida's famed Gold Coast along the Intracoastal Waterway and offers an escape into a tropical paradise. Mingling the traditions of old-world elegance with fun, fellowship and relaxation, this charming haven offers the magic of the true South Florida lifestyle, including award-winning cuisine, picturesque landscapes and an abundance of social activities and entertainment.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Changes in Come Follow Me

Some people wonder about the changes I mentioned in this blog recently.

The point of my post was that the manuals are not doctrine, they are subject to change at any time without notice, and even the Brethren don't always know what they contain before they are published.

I don't know why anyone would give credence to lesson manuals, books such as Saints, and other such materials regarding topics in which these things contradict the teachings of the scriptures, General Conference addresses, and original documents from Church history.

Web page links can change at any time, so if you couldn't find the links I provided, here are the two screen captures so you can see them.

The original manual:



The revised manual: