SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Sept. 26, 2016 (Gephardt Daily) — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has removed a Book of Mormon verse about rape from the Personal Progress workbooks given to LDS young women for moral study.
The problematic verse, Moroni 9:9, suggested that victims of rape cannot be considered chaste or virtuous. The Book of Mormon verse reads, in part:
“For behold, many of the daughters of the Lamanites have they taken prisoners; and after depriving them of that which was most dear and precious above all things, which is chastity and virtue….”
LDS spokesman Eric Hawkins confirmed the scriptural verse has been removed from the young women’s Personal Progress workbook, an outcome several female LDS writers had been pushing for for several years. Blogger Kristine Haglund, for example, called for the verse’s removal in 2013.
Hawkins said the scripture will remain in the Book of Mormon.
“That scripture reference needs to go, NOW,” Haglund wrote on the By Common Consent blog. “And we need to start explicitly teaching that this scripture reflects a cultural mistake among Book of Mormon peoples in their understanding of virtue, one which fails to properly apply the principle of agency and denies the power of the Atonement.”
Elizabeth Smart, an advocate for child safety and the survivor of a 2002 kidnapping and nine months of captivity and rape, gave an interview about the church’s “purity culture” in an article that ran Sept. 1 on Broadly.Vice.com.
“I did make that promise to myself that I was going to wait until marriage before I had sex,” Smart, 28, told her interviewer.
“Well, then I was kidnapped and I was raped, and one of the first thoughts I had was, ‘No one is ever going to want to marry me now: I’m worthless, I’m filthy, I’m dirty.’ I think every rape survivor feels those same feelings, but having that with the pressure of faith compounded on top—it was almost crippling.”
Smart said her faith was what helped her survive the ordeal, but in the years following her kidnapping and recovery, Smart said the church’s “purity culture” was hurtful to her as a survivor of rape.
Smart told her interviewer about celibacy lectures she sat through in high school as an LDS Seminary student.
“You’re like this beautiful fence,” she remembers being told in one lecture. “And you hammer these nails in, and then every time you have sex with someone else, it’s like you’re hammering in another nail. And you can’t take them out, you can repent of them, but the holes are still there.”
Smart said as a teenager whose virginity had been taken by force, she was hurt by the words.
“Especially for someone who’s been raped, they’ve already felt these feelings of worthlessness, of filth, of just … being so crushed, and then to hear a teacher come back and say, ‘Nobody wants you now’… You just think, ‘I should just die right now.'”