A commenter on this post left an interesting comment.
I would love to see a post in which you poll the average member during Sunday meetings and ask the following questions:
1) Have you ever been taught by the church that Joseph used his own seer stone (which he found buried in the ground) in the process of translating the Book of Mormon?
2) Have you ever been taught by the church that, according to witnesses, Joseph rarely used the plates to actually translate?
3) Have you heard the church emphatically denounce past racist teachings of Brigham Young and other church leaders?
This would indeed be an interesting poll to take. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I’d be the appropriate one to do it, since I’ve discussed all three of these issues in the Sunday School class that I regularly teach. As such, I may have already biased the sample.
Nevertheless, I like the idea of this poll, though I would suggest just a few tweaks in the questions to be asked to Church members participating in the poll.
1) Have you read the Ensign articles by Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Neal A. Maxwell that both discuss Joseph Smith’s use of a seer stone in the translation of the Book of Mormon? Have you familiarized yourself with the Joseph Smith Papers, including the essay discussing Joseph Smith as a revelator and translator?
2) Have you read the Ensign article by Richard L. Anderson exploring the translation method of the Book of Mormon, including what various witnesses said about the use or non-use of the plates? Furthermore, have you taken time to access the Gospel Topics essay on the translation of the Book of Mormon?
3) Have you read the Gospel Topics essay on race and the priesthood that affirms the Church “disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavor or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else,” and that it also “unequivocally condemn[s] all racism, past and present, in any form”? Are you aware that the Church also released an official statement that it “unequivocally condemns racism, including any and all past racism by individuals both inside and outside the Church”? Have you read President Hinckley’s April 2006 General Conference address that condemned racism in the Church? Have you heard Elder Bruce R. McConkie’s 1978 speech (which is linked to on LDS.org) where he said, “Forget everything that I have said, or what President Brigham Young or President George Q. Cannon or whomsoever has said in days past that is contrary to the present revelation [concerning blacks and the priesthood]. We spoke with a limited understanding and without the light and knowledge that now has come into the world”?
I guess what I’m getting after with these questions is this:
4) Are you utilizing the resources that have been made readily available to you by the Church? This includes material aimed at both adults as well as youth, but not necessarily including material produced or sponsored by Church-owned institutions such as the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, BYU Studies Quarterly, the publications of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship, and the publications of the Religious Studies Center.
This, I think, would be a much more interesting poll to take.