[quote=Salvo]If they are black (and I kind of doubt it) you could bring up the fact that there have always been African priests, bishops and even 3 African popes in the church. Meanwhile, the Mormons refused to give the priesthood to anyone of African descent (i.e. from the line of “Ham”) the priesthood because according to their theology, anyone born with black skin (or flat nose) was cursed by God.
Brigham Young had some very bad things to say about black people. They remain in their “sacred writings”, but are glossed over these days (with good reason).
Brigham Young’s (second prophet, president, and leader of the LDS Church) comments about blacks are NOT found in LDS ‘sacred writings’, which are the King James Translation of the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price. Getting facts wrong like this is exactly the wrong thing to do, since it will shut down a conversation doggoned quick.
I have no doubt that one could find some unsavory comments by Young in an unabridged copy of Journal of Discourses. However the Journal of Discourses is not deemed an ‘authoritative’ document. Some Mormons would be shaken by some of the off-the-cuff remarks and speculations which Young and some other early Mormon leaders indulged in, but others might feel you are Mormon-baiting and counter with some of the disreputable things which some of the more-venal Popes said and/or did. I’m not declaring such things entirely ‘off-limits’ but I would suggest that one be careful of introducing into the conversation too early things which might be perceived as inflamatory. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and several other prominent LDS leaders are looked upon with a high degree of reverence by Mormons. I will concede this is undeserved, but an too-early broadside against such figures might be ill-advised.
The exclusion of blacks from the priesthood is not an unfair topic. First of all, it suggests, like the 1890 Manifesto which banned the practice of polygamy, that the Mormon Church will alter established doctrines to suit the culture. Second, the whole notion that it was dark skin which represented the ‘curse of Ham’ was based upon really bad exegesis of Scripture. Thidly, even after Smith received the revelation restricting ordination of blacks, he is believed to have ordained several blacks to the priesthood. It is widely believed that Smith excluded blacks at all to placate neighbors of Mormons in Missouri, most of whom were pro-slavery. (Most Mormons at the time were Northerners and tended to be anti-slavery, which is thought to have been part of the reason for tension between Mormons and Missourians).
Again: one needs to be certain that an issue like this will really ‘strke home’ to the LDS friends you are seeking to persuade. If it’s a non-issue for them, you might have some interesting debates about the matter but never really cause them to consider the possibility that Mormonism might be a false church. I suspect that in many cases a positve presentation of what Catholics believe–one which answers some questions about why Catholics ‘do’ or ‘believe’ certain things–might be more helpful. Especially something which stresses the continuity of many Catholic practices from very ancient times. After all, Mormonism exists largely because Joseph Smith asserted that true Christianity was entirely lost from the Earth and had to be restored.