Detailed response to CES Letter, Introduction

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Detailed response to CES Letter, Introduction


Included below:

Response to claim: "It is my hope that you’re going to have better answers than many of those given by unofficial apologists such as FairMormon and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute (formerly FARMS)."

The author(s) of CES Letter, October 2017 edition make(s) the following claim:

I’m interested in your thoughts and answers as I have been unable to find official answers from the Church for most of these issues. It is my hope that you’re going to have better answers than many of those given by unofficial apologists such as FairMormon and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute (formerly FARMS).

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author sets up the most bizarre standard for what he will accept as good answers. They must be "official" and come through the Church. They can't be given by "unofficial" apologists like FAIR and the Neal A. Maxwell Institute. What does an "official" apologist even look like? Why does the author insist on this bizarrely high and specific standard? Runnells sets himself up to commit the genetic fallacy since any response that comes to his letter through FAIR or the Maxwell Institute can be dismissed as "unofficial".


Longer response(s) to criticism:

Response to claim: "Elder Marlin K. Jensen...was asked his thoughts regarding the effects of Google on membership and people who are 'leaving in droves' over Church history"

The author(s) of CES Letter, October 2017 edition make(s) the following claim:

In February of 2012, I was reading the news online when I came across the following news article: Mormonism Besieged by the Modern Age 1. In the article was information about a Q&A meeting at Utah State University that LDS Church Historian and General Authority, Elder Marlin K. Jensen, gave in late 2011. He was asked his thoughts regarding the effects of Google on membership and people who are "leaving in droves" over Church history.



Elder Marlin K. Jensen’s response:
 


“Maybe since Kirtland, we’ve never had a period of – I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having now; largely over these issues...”
This truly shocked me. I didn’t understand what was going on or why people would leave “over history.” 


FAIR's Response

This alleged quote from Elder Jensen often gets erroneously interpreted to mean that the Church is losing members left and right. For full context and commentary, see Stephen Smoot's commentary on it for the FAIR Blog.

Response to claim: "I started...reading books like LDS historian and scholar Richard Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling"

The author(s) of CES Letter, October 2017 edition make(s) the following claim:

I started doing research and reading books like LDS historian and scholar Richard Bushman’s Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling and many others to try to better understand what was happening.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim contains propaganda - The author, or the author's source, is providing information or ideas in a slanted way in order to instill a particular attitude or response in the reader

The author's statements regarding Richard Bushman's book Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling might give the impression that reading the book will unavoidably lead one to losing their faith in Joseph Smith. This is not the case. Many if not most Latter-day Saint scholars and apologists find the biography faith-affirming as do many regular members of the Church. Richard Bushman himself remains an active, believing member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The author has made other misleading/false claims regarding Bushman's book—implying that Bushman agreed with much of the claims of Fawn Brodie against the prophethood of Joseph Smith and the veracity of the Church.