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SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church has updated and enhanced several pages on its website dealing with some of the hottest Internet topics about the church and its history.
The improvements are part of a larger, long-term effort to help families improve personal and family gospel study, church leaders said.
The improved "Gospel Topics" pages are found under the "Teachings" tab at the top of [LDS.org](<http://www.lds.org/?lang=eng target=>). The enhanced page on "Race and the Priesthood" was posted last week, following publication of "First Vision Accounts" and "Are Mormons Christian?" The improved pages are intended to use scholarship, historical perspectives and outside resources transparently to help parents answer questions children might come across online, church leaders said.
I think in this day and age it's become apparent that we really do need to provide a series of answers that will help our members better understand these chapters of our history.
–Elder Steven E. Snow
Church members are cheering the enhanced pages, especially the one on race and the priesthood, which plainly "disavows" theories some critics have claimed were church doctrine and the basis for a ban on blacks holding the priesthood, a ban lifted by revelation in 1978.
Church Historian Steven E. Snow said church leaders wanted to help members study important topics and provide them with the best information available.
"The young people, particularly, they'll get on one site, and they'll say, 'Well, I didn't ever hear that,'" Elder Snow said. "And then that'll lead them to another. And they just keep going. And then there's this credibility issue that begins about, 'What else is the church hiding?' Well, we're not hiding anything. ... I think in this day and age it's become apparent that we really do need to provide a series of answers that will help our members better understand these chapters of our history."
Those questions may include the church's position on blacks and the priesthood prior to 1978, when then-church President Spencer W. Kimball received a revelation lifting the ban.
The race and the priesthood topic page says the church's doctrine is that God loves everyone equally and makes salvation available to all. It also states that the church's structure and organization encourages racial integration.
"We've really tried to understand our history and why that policy occurred," Elder Snow said, "and what led up to the revelation of President Kimball in 1978."
That effort included increased attention from historians.
"We've enlisted the aid of historians, church historians, scholars, church leaders as well as others to work carefully on these matters to make certain we have the facts as right as we know them today," Elder Snow said, "and then to help our members understand them in the context of the time in our history and the time in American history, what was going in the world at the time."
This story originally appeared in longer form on our partner site deseretnews.com.