CHURCH NEWS ARTICLE: “Parents: Do you think Dad can translate the Hebrew Bible [when covered by a cloth]?
Kids: Yes, if he took the cloth off the book and opened it.
Parents: What if Dad left the cloth on the book. Could Dad translate it?
Kids: No, because he wouldn’t see what was inside the book!
Parents: What if God helped Dad see what was inside the book without opening the book? Could God do that?
Parents: But is that how Dad or other scholars typically translate books? By covering them with a cloth and asking God to reveal the content inside?
Parents: Exactly. But this is how Joseph Smith translated. The Book of Mormon plates were typically covered with a cloth.”
–excerpt from an article Teaching our kids about Joseph Smith’s Book of Mormon translation, by Taylor Halverson, published in the Deseret News, 7 March 2016. [source]
COMMENTARY: It’s great to teach kids things you honestly believe. But when you have to be dishonest to do so, I think a fairer explanation for what you are doing is brainwashing. If you are going to use the word “translate” to mean “read glowing words off a rock you’ve stuck in your hat,” I think it’s fair to say that you’ve misused the word. If you’re going to say the Book of Mormon was translated from gold plates that were wrapped in a cloth during the translation process, I think it’s fair to say that you’ve entered the world of fairy tales. And if you’re going to say that Joseph’s translation duties were to read words that God caused to glow on a rock, then I’m afraid I’m going to have a hard time accepting your explanation for the numerous errors in the translation. And then you’ve got the little problem of explaining why Joseph even needed the plates in the first place, or why he had to keep them safe from people who might want to steal them, if God could just give him the translation through his hat. I mean, if anything is possible with God, Moroni needn’t have delivered the plates to Joseph, Mormon needn’t have even compiled the records into a single book, and come to think of it, the Nephites needn’t have even existed. But what do I know? I’m just another apostate.