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Misinformation, racism addressed in updates to LDS Church's handbook

{p}The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced changes to the Church’s General Handbook for leaders and members. (Photo: KUTV){/p}

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced changes to the Church’s General Handbook for leaders and members. (Photo: KUTV)

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced changes to the Church’s General Handbook for leaders and members.

According to a statement from the Church, six chapters have been rewritten and sections of 11 other chapters have been revised or added to.

The Church states the text is designed to help its members "serve around the world serve with Christlike care when implementing and adapting the Church’s programs, policies and procedures to their circumstances." Here are some of the changes and updates:


The updates, published Dec. 18, include a new section about prejudice and racism.

“All people are children of God. All are brothers and sisters who are part of His divine family,” the handbook states. “Prejudice is not consistent with the revealed word of God. Favor or disfavor with God depends on devotion to Him and His commandments, not on the color of a person’s skin or other attributes. The Church calls on all people to abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice toward any group or individual.”

Both President Russell M. Nelson and President Dallin H. Oaks called on members to "root out racism" and "abandon attitudes and actions of prejudice" during October's General Conference.

"I plead with you to promote respect for all of God’s children," Nelson said

Reliable sources

A new section encourages members to seek information from reliable sources.

"Seek out and share only credible, reliable, and factual sources of information,” the text says. “Avoid sources that are speculative or founded on rumor. The guidance of the Holy Ghost, along with careful study, can help members discern between truth and error (see Doctrine and Covenants 11:12; 45:57). In matters of doctrine and Church policy, the authoritative sources are the scriptures, the teachings of the living prophets, and the General Handbook.”

Medical marijuana

The medical marijuana section, first published in July, was revised with clarifications. It states:

“The church does not approve of vaping marijuana unless the medical provider has authorized it based on medical necessity,” the handbook says. It also states that church members should follow “dosage and mode of administration from the physician or other authorized medical provider.”

Word of Wisdom

The section has been renamed to "Word of Wisdom and Healthy Practices" and includes new information.

In addition to noting the Church’s long-established counsel to abstain from tobacco, alcohol, tea and coffee, the text clarifies that “there are other harmful substances and practices that are not specified in the Word of Wisdom or by Church leaders. Members should use wisdom and prayerful judgment in making choices to promote their physical, spiritual, and emotional health.”

Medical and health care

The updated section said that Church's position on healing is it's sought through a combination of multiple forms: professional medical help, exercising faith and receiving priesthood blessings from those worthy to do so.

“Church members are discouraged from seeking miraculous or supernatural healing from an individual or group that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of prayer and properly performed priesthood blessings,” the update says. “These practices are often referred to as ‘energy healing.’ Other names are also used. Such promises for healing are often given in exchange for money.”

Burial and cremation

The Church said it "does not encourage cremation." But, it does now note that some countries require it and that burial can be unaffordable or not an option for some families.

“Members should be reassured that the power of the Resurrection always applies,” the handbook states.

Translated portions of the new handbook were published in October and November of this year.

The entire handbook is expected to be updated in English by the end of 2021.

Updated chapters are being translated into 35 languages and released as soon as they are available. Additional languages may also be made available in the future, according to the Church.

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For more information about the updates and revisions, visit:

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