Seminary students will no longer study the creation of the November 2015 exclusion policy to understand the concept of revelation, at least not this year.

As I reported last month,

In the new Doctrinal Mastery Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Teacher Material, seminary teachers [were] instructed to share President Russell M. Nelson’s January 2016 statement during the Prophets and Revelation lesson (Part 1). In that [statement], Nelson explain[ed] how leaders came to embrace the exclusion policy as the divine solution to a “thorny problem.” ([It was] even suggested that teachers print out the statement so students have their own hard copy).

If you’d read that post, you’d also know that this was not the first time the exclusion policy was included in (and later withdrawn from) the seminary curriculum.[3] In 2016, a nearly identical section was found in that year’s Doctrinal Mastery New Testament Teacher Material. After an uproar, that statement was removed (along with other statements suggesting the priesthood and temple ban for those of African descent was inspired). And it looks like after this year’s uproar, President Nelson’s exclusion-policy-as-revelation statement is again nixed.[1]

But this time there’s a difference. In 2016, there was no replacement for the omitted section. This year, curriculum writers were able to find a less controversial statement from President Nelson that teaches the same principles. They pulled his description of selecting new counselors for the First Presidency as found in his April 2018 General Conference address, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives.”

Nelson-New 1aNelson-New 1b

Perhaps we won’t have to worry about curriculum writers trying to use the exclusion-policy-as-revelation statement again in the future.

Can we learn anything from this? What are the elements that convinced leadership that this was a concern to take seriously? Based on what happened two years ago, someone was clearly aware this was a controversial subject. There were few blog posts (here’s one I saw), though a couple podcasts picked up the topic. Many heated discussions happened on social media platforms. It does appear, though, that people contacted Church headquarters directly through official feedback channels. But, of course, it’s impossible to tell what did the trick.[2]


  • Are you surprised the Church chose to use another statement to model modern revelation?
  • The Church has recently doubled-down on the exclusion policy by including it in Preach My Gospel, so why do you think leaders were willing to back off in the seminary manual?

[1] The 2018 seminary materials are updated on the Church’s website, but they are not yet reflected in the PDF version or Gospel Library app. According to Facebook user Michael Benjamin, the Gospel Library app will be updated by the end of next week. The Doctrinal Mastery Doctrine & Covenants Teacher Material manual is a digital-only publication.

[2] The only other corollary I come up with (besides the seminary materials two years ago) is when the Church pulled the song “White” from a song collection based on the 2017 mutual theme. The song was considered by many to be offensive to members of color. There was some uproar on social media and at least one blog post that I’m aware of (by Andrew S here are Wheat and Tares). People also also submitted complaints through official feedback channels, and the Church responded within three weeks.

[3] Sentence changed 9/9/18. Previously read “If you’d read that post, you’d also know that this was not the first time someone tried to slip the exclusion policy into the seminary curriculum.” Commenter Truckers Atlas rightly pointed out below that the original phrasing suggested something more sinister than what likely occurred.