Mormons confront ‘epidemic’ of online misinformation

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SALT LAKE CITY (RNS)  "The problem is not so much the discovery of particular details that are deal breakers for the faithful; the problem is a loss of faith and trust in an institution that was less than forthcoming to begin with."

  • coltakashi

    I’m a 62 year old Mormon, and there have long been books and scholarly publications available that tackle all of the “controversial” aspects of Mormon history and the characters who lived it. Decades ago, when Fawn Brodie, someone who had become disaffected from the Church, decided to write a biography of Joseph Smith, entitled “No Man Knows My History”, that would portray him as a misguided but well meaning fraud, Professor Hugh Nibley at BYU, a specialist iin Ancient History, dashed off his rebuttal, a book titled “No Ma’am, That’s Not HIstory.” Since then a plethora of scholarly work has been published in BYU Studies, the FARMS Review, Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, and a lot of books produced by scholars at BYU and elsewhere. Additionally, the organization has created an unofficial site that responds to the whole range of issues that critics of Mormonism raise. They even have a two day conference every August with a distinguished range of speakers.

    The resources are out there. I can only assume that there are a lot of incurious Mormons who have kids who ARE curious but, after they can’t get answers from their parents or a couple of other adult Mormons, they think they have been deceived all their lives, when it is really a combination of the unnecessary ignorance of themselves and other Mormons about the large body of information already existing that would have made their crisis totally unnecessary. Certainly anyone who is looking things up on the internet owes it to himself to check not only the official Church web page at lds,org, but also, which includes entire books on these topics available to read for free, and book reviews responding to just about any anti-Mormon book ever published in the last twenty years, one of them written by myself. They should also check out to find people who are smart and educated and know a lot about Mormon history and doctrines, and yet are Mormons still!

    Mormon leaders from Joseph smith to Brigham Young on down to the present have insisted that Mormons do NOT believe in blind faith that asserts itself in spite of all evidence to the contrary, but rather that we CAN obtain specific evidence of spiritual truths through methodologies of “experimenting on the word” (Alma Chapter 32, Book of Mormon) to see how the teachings are fruitful in real life, and asking God for answers by specific revelatory experiences (Moroni chapter 10, Book of Mormon). The reality of personal revelation is a key factor for most of the 14 million Mormons around the world. Every adult Mormon is invited to get his or her own confirmation of the truth of what the Church teaches, and to think for themselves. As I understand it, one of the episodes in “The Book of Mormon” musical that ridicules Mormonism has a missionary repeating to himself “I believe” against all he knows. That is NOT how Mormons get psyched up to preach the gospel. It is a conviction that grows over time with a lot of study and pondering of the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and sincere prayer.