RNS: You say that the earliest Mormons had a “vision of restorative racial universalism” that shows up in the Book of Mormon’s ideal that the Lamanites will acquire white skin when they become righteous.
Mueller: For Mormons, race fundamentally is about stories, about how in the ancient biblical past and the Book of Mormon past, different members of one family sinned against other members of that family. And for those sins, they were cursed. The people interpreting the Bible and the Book of Mormon have read those curses as racial divisions: the descendants of those who committed those sins would have to bear the punishment on their skin.
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