Detailed response to CES Letter, Other

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Detailed response to CES Letter, Other



A FAIR Analysis of: [[../|Letter to a CES Director]], a work by author: Jeremy Runnells
Chart CES Letter other.png

Response to section "Other Concerns & Questions"

Summary: The author notes that, "Under [Quentin L.] Cook’s counsel, FAIR and unofficial LDS apologetic websites are anti-Mormon sources that should be avoided. Not only do they introduce to Mormons 'internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcomings of early Church leaders' but they provide many ridiculous answers with logical fallacies and omissions while leaving members confused and hanging with a bizarre version of Mormonism."


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Response to claim: 2013 Official Declaration 2 Header Update Dishonesty

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Offending text: "Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice."...the 2013 edition Official Declaration 2 Header in the scriptures is not only misleading, it’s dishonest. We do have records – including from the First Presidency itself – with very clear insights on the origins of the ban on the blacks.

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

  • There is absolutely no record of a revelation itself ever having been received that would account for the initiation of the priesthood ban.
  • The presidency of George Albert Smith offered their belief that the priesthood ban was a "direct commandment from the Lord", but, once again, there is no document explaining the initiation of the ban.

Logical Fallacy: Genetic—The author determines whether something is truthful or false on the basis of who said it.

The author assumes that any discrepancy in information from the Church is the result of "dishonesty."


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "The Church debunks FAIR and ironically contradicts its own 2013 Official Declaration 2 header with the release of its December 6, 2013 essay on Race and the Priesthood"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The Church debunks FAIR and ironically contradicts its own 2013 Official Declaration 2 header with the release of its December 6, 2013 essay on Race and the Priesthood

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The falsehood: We are not following the author's logic on how the "Church debunks FAIR" or how the 2013 Official Declaration 2 header contradicts the 2013 essay on Race and the Priesthood.The facts: FairMormon's position has always been the following:
  1. That Joseph Smith ordained several black men to the priesthood.
  2. That the ban started after Joseph Smith, sometime during Brigham Young's tenure.
  3. That there were a variety of speculative reasons given for the ban, and there has never been a revelation found or referred to that initiated the ban.

As far as we can tell, these are the positions given by both the 2013 Official Declaration 2 header and the 2013 essay on Race and the Priesthood.

2013 Official Declaration 2 header:

The Book of Mormon teaches that “all are alike unto God,” including “black and white, bond and free, male and female” (2 Nephi 26:33). Throughout the history of the Church, people of every race and ethnicity in many countries have been baptized and have lived as faithful members of the Church. During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood. Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent. Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice. Church leaders believed that a revelation from God was needed to alter this practice and prayerfully sought guidance. The revelation came to Church President Spencer W. Kimball and was affirmed to other Church leaders in the Salt Lake Temple on June 1, 1978. The revelation removed all restrictions with regard to race that once applied to the priesthood.

To summarize the 2013 Offical Declaration 2 header:

  1. "During Joseph Smith’s lifetime, a few black male members of the Church were ordained to the priesthood" (Joseph Smith ordained several black men)
  2. "Early in its history, Church leaders stopped conferring the priesthood on black males of African descent" (The ban started after Joseph Smith, sometime during Brigham Young's tenure)
  3. "Church records offer no clear insights into the origins of this practice" (There were a variety of speculative reasons given for the ban, and there has never been a revelation found or referred to that initiated the ban)

2013 essay on Race and the Priesthood:

During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood. One of these men, Elijah Abel, also participated in temple ceremonies in Kirtland, Ohio, and was later baptized as proxy for deceased relatives in Nauvoo, Illinois. There is no reliable evidence that any black men were denied the priesthood during Joseph Smith’s lifetime. In a private Church council three years after Joseph Smith’s death, Brigham Young praised Q. Walker Lewis, a black man who had been ordained to the priesthood, saying, “We have one of the best Elders, an African.”4

In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood, though thereafter blacks continued to join the Church through baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. Following the death of Brigham Young, subsequent Church presidents restricted blacks from receiving the temple endowment or being married in the temple. Over time, Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions. None of these explanations is accepted today as the official doctrine of the Church.

To summarize the 2013 essay on Race and the Priesthood:

  1. "During the first two decades of the Church’s existence, a few black men were ordained to the priesthood" (Joseph Smith ordained several black men)
  2. "In 1852, President Brigham Young publicly announced that men of black African descent could no longer be ordained to the priesthood" (The ban started after Joseph Smith, sometime during Brigham Young's tenure)
  3. "Church leaders and members advanced many theories to explain the priesthood and temple restrictions" (There were a variety of speculative reasons given for the ban, and there has never been a revelation found or referred to that initiated the ban)

The 2013 essay disavowed the theories that had been put forth regarding the origin of the ban.

We do not see the contradiction in any of these statements.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "Zina Diantha Huntington Young"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director make(s) the following claim:

The following is a quick biographic snapshot of Zina:

She was married for 7.5 months and was 6 months pregnant with her first husband, Henry Jacobs, when she married Joseph after being told Joseph’s life was in danger from an angel with a flaming sword. (April 2013 revision)
She was married for 7.5 months and was about 6 months pregnant with her first husband, Henry Jacobs, when she married Joseph after being told Joseph’s life was in danger from an angel with a drawn sword. (October 2014 revision)

After Joseph’s death, she married Brigham Young and had Young’s baby while her first husband, Henry, was on a mission.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Henry and Zina's marriage "for time" had ended by the time she was married to Brigham Young. She could not have married Brigham while Henry was away on a mission since Henry Jacobs stood as proxy for Zina's post-martyrdom sealing to Joseph, and her marriage for time to Brigham Young. And let's not ignore Zina's role in the decision to do so - she chose to do this.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "Brigham Young Sunday School Manual...deceptive in disclosing whether or not Brigham Young was a polygamist"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

In the Church’s Sunday School manual, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, the Church changed the word “wives” to “[wife]”. Not only is the manual deceptive in disclosing whether or not Brigham Young was a polygamist....
See also the followup(s) to this claim from "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (20 July 2014 revision):
Response to claim: Brigham Young Sunday School Manual - "I never claimed that the quotes referred to Brigham Young’s own wives"
Response to claim: "the Church presents a monogamist Brigham Young in its Brigham Young manual"
Response to claim: "The manuals do teach history along with didactical lessons"

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

  • So, the author actually believes that the Church was trying to hide the fact that Brigham Young, arguably the most famous polygamist in the United States, did not have multiple wives?
  • Note: This was the Priesthood/Relief Society Manual, not the Sunday School Manual.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: Brigham Young Sunday School Manual - "I never claimed that the quotes referred to Brigham Young’s own wives"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

I never claimed that the quotes referred to Brigham Young’s own wives. It’s obvious from Brigham’s talk that he was referring to other men and that their polygamous wives. FAIR is creating a strawman by misrepresenting my argument....Again, I never claimed that Brigham was referring to his own wives in the altered quotes. FAIR is grasping at straws here. I demonstrate above how the manual is deceptive because there is not one mention about Brigham’s 53 wives and 49 children and polygamy despite discussing his pre-polygamy first wife and then his pre-polygamy second wife (after his first wife passed) along with the children from those non-polygamous marriages. The manual presents a monogamous Brigham Young.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

Here is the entire text of the original "Letter to a CES Director" related to the "Brigham Young Sunday School Manual". This is what FairMormon responded to:

Brigham Young Sunday School Manual:

  • In the Church’s Sunday School manual, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, the Church changed the word “wives” to “[wife]”.
  • Not only is the manual deceptive in disclosing whether or not Brigham Young was a polygamist but it’s deceptive in hiding Brigham Young’s real teaching on marriage: “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.” – Journal of Discourses 11:269

Logical Fallacy: Special Pleading—The author creates a one-sided argument by including favorable data and excluding unfavorable data through improper means. In this case, the author "moved the goalpost" by changing his argument when his original claim was shown to be false.

  • The author originally said, "In the Church’s Sunday School manual, Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young, the Church changed the word “wives” to “[wife]”. Not only is the manual deceptive in disclosing whether or not Brigham Young was a polygamist..."
  • The author's response is now, "I never claimed that the quotes referred to Brigham Young’s own wives", and asserts that the manual is deceptive because "there is not one mention about Brigham's 53 wives..." The author "moved the goal post" once he became informed that the use of square brackets in this manner wasn't actually a deceptive practice.
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Response to claim: "the Church presents a monogamist Brigham Young in its Brigham Young manual"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

So, why offer dirt on Brigham and bring up the ugly polygamy card when you’re in control of the conversation and material? Why not pretend polygamy never happened while stopping short of denying it?...

the Church presents a monogamist Brigham Young in its Brigham Young manual. When it refers to Brigham’s biographical history, they present a monogamist Brigham Young...It continues on in listing all the many events, achievements, and challenges that Young went through in his life but there is zero mention of Young’s polygamy.

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 Church is not using the Brigham Young manual to "pretend polygamy never happened while stopping short of denying it."


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "The manuals do teach history along with didactical lessons"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

It should be obvious to any reader who reads Chapter 1 that the manual includes biographical and historical information on Brigham Young; not just didactical....Again, this is a false claim. The manuals do teach history along with didactical lessons.

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 makes it appear that the manuals are primarily focused on history with his statement that they are intended to "teach history along with didactical lessons." The opposite is true: The manuals are intended to be instructional, and any history that is included is intended to support concepts used in specific lessons.
  • The primary purpose of the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manual series is instructional (the meaning of the word "didactical" in this case).
  • Any historical information is secondary and included only in support of the lesson being taught.
  • The manuals are not intended to be historical primers. They will not include a comprehensive history of the prophet being discussed.
  • As the Church states in the manuals subsequent to Brigham Young: "This book is not a history, but rather a compilation of gospel principles as taught by...".

Logical Fallacy: Special Pleading—The author creates a one-sided argument by including favorable data and excluding unfavorable data through improper means. In this case, the author "moved the goalpost" by changing his argument when his original claim was shown to be false.

The author is responding to an argument that nobody is making.
  • Nobody is disputing that the manual contains a "brief historical framework" for the teachings discussed.
  • Nobody is disputing that some historical items are included in support of the lessons.
  • The argument, as put forth by the Church in subsequent manuals, is that the manual is not intended to be a complete history.
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Response to claim: "Yesterday’s doctrine is today’s false doctrine. Yesterday’s prophet is today’s heretic"

The author(s) of Debunking FairMormon - Letter to a CES Director (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young: “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.”

Gordon B. Hinckley: “Polygamy is not doctrinal.” Yesterday’s doctrine is today’s false doctrine. Yesterday’s prophet is today’s heretic.

Notice that the speculation is not on whether or not there is polygamy in the Celestial Kingdom. The speculation is on whether it is a requirement “for all who enter” the Celestial Kingdom. Yet, you have President Hinckley clearly stating that polygamy is not doctrinal.

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 wishes to imply that President Hinckley was lying, however, we do not practice polygamy in the 21st century - it used to be doctrinal, and is no longer doctrinal. Hinckley is not saying that polygamy is "false doctrine": he is saying that it is not currently part of our doctrine.


Nobody in the Church considers Brigham Young a heretic. If the author looks at the part of Brigham's quote that he didn't show us, he will see that Brigham did not state that polygamy was a requirement for all who enter the Celestial Kingdom.

Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Brigham Young Sunday School Manual...Not only is the manual deceptive in disclosing whether or not Brigham Young was a polygamist but it’s deceptive in hiding Brigham Young’s real teaching on marriage: “The only men who become Gods, even the Sons of God, are those who enter into polygamy.” – Journal of Discourses 11:269

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 persistent use of the word "deceptive" pushes this into the "propaganda" category. During the same speech, Brigham acknowledged that those who were not practicing plural marriage needed to be polygamists "in their faith." Now that the doctrine has been revoked, we are not held to that particular teaching, so why should it be taught in the manual?
  • Note: The manual being referred to here is the Priesthood/Relief Society manual, not a Sunday School manual.

Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "The Church is not transparent to their members and investigators in 2014 about its origins and history"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

It is also false that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not engaged in a cover up, nor is it attempting to hide an ‘embarrassing past’.” The Church is not transparent to their members and investigators in 2014 about its origins and history.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: This claim is false

The Church is actually more transparent about their history in 2014 and moving forward than ever before. With the ongoing publication of the Joseph Smith Papers, the new Gospel Topics Essays, and changes to the new Seminaries and Institute materials, there is more information on these topics available to members than there has been for years.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "Something is fundamentally wrong with 'the one true Church' spending more on a multi-billion dollar high-end megamall than it has in 25 years of humanitarian aid"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Estimated $5 billion megamall City Creek Center (April 2013)
Estimated $1.5 billion megamall City Creek Center (October 2014)

Total Church humanitarian aid from 1985-2011: $1.4 billion

Something is fundamentally wrong with 'the one true Church' spending more on a multi-billion dollar high-end megamall than it has in 25 years of humanitarian aid.

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 does not have any idea how much humanitarian aid has been distributed by the Church, any more than he initially knew the cost of the "multi-billion dollar high-end megamall" before he was corrected. He also ignores the financial benefit that the construction of the mall provided to Salt Lake City.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "Would a loving, kind, empathic God really place parents in the horrible position of having to choose whether to feed their children or pay what little they have to a multi-billion megamall owning Church...?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

I find the following quote in the December 2012 Ensign very disturbing:

If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing. The Lord will not abandon you.

Would a loving, kind, empathic God really place parents in the horrible position of having to choose whether to feed their children or pay what little they have to a multi-billion megamall owning Church that receives an estimated $8,000,000,000 in annual tithing receipts?

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 portrays the Church as simply interested in getting money from the poor, and completely ignores that tithing is taught as a matter of faith. He brings up the "multi-billion megamall" again and provides a baseless estimate of the Church's income from tithing (which he has no way of knowing, since the Church does not make this information public).

Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Ridicule—The author is presenting the argument in such a way that it makes his or her subject look ridiculous, usually by misrepresenting the argument or exaggerating it.

The author implies that the Church wants the poor to pay their money while the Church lets their children starve. This is pure nonsense.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "Why did Joseph take the name of “Jesus Christ” out of the very name of His restored Church?"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

After deciding “Church of Jesus Christ” on April 6, 1830, Joseph Smith made the decision on May 3, 1834 to change the name of the Church to, “The Church of the Latter Day Saints”. Why did Joseph take the name of “Jesus Christ” out of the very name of His restored Church? The one and only true Church on the face of the earth in which Christ is the Head?....Why would Christ instruct Joseph to name it one thing in 1830 and then change it in 1834 and then change it again in 1838?

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

  • There was only one revealed name for the Church. Christ did not instruct Joseph what to name the Church in 1830, nor did He instruct Joseph to change the name in 1834. The only time that Christ instructed Joseph regarding the name of the Church occurred in 1838. The Lord simply settled the matter once and for all.
  • Joseph (or Sidney Rigdon) did not remove the name of Christ from the Church, since "Saints" denote the followers of Christ.

Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "Some things that are true are not very useful"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

[Boyd K.] Packer said the following: “There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful." Joseph using a rock in a hat instead of the gold plates to translate the Book of Mormon is not a useful truth? The fact that there are multiple conflicting First Vision accounts is not a useful truth? The fact that Joseph Smith was involved in Polyandry when D&C 132:61 condemns it as “adultery” is not a useful truth?

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 has simply defined his own interpretations of the "rock in the hat," the First Vision accounts and Joseph's sealing to married women and contrasted them again Elder Packers instructions to Church educators in order to create a "useful truth" from his anti-Mormon perspective. Church historians don't perceive the massive "conflict" in the accounts of the First Vision, nor do they deny or perceive any issues with the use of the seer stone in the hat, nor do they see Joseph's "polyandrous" sealings for eternity to other men's wives as anything other than truth.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "Criticizing leaders"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Dallin H. Oaks made the following disturbing comment in the PBS documentary, “The Mormons”: 'It is wrong to criticize the leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true.'

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The author takes Elder Oaks' statement out of context.

Logical Fallacy: Contextomy (Citing out of context)—The author has created a false attribution in which he or she removed a passage by an authority from its surrounding context in such a way as to distort or reverse its intended meaning.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "the scary internet"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Who cares whether you received the information from a stranger, television, book, magazine, comic book, napkin, and even the scary internet? They’re all mediums or conduits of information. It’s the information itself, its accuracy, and its relevance that you need to focus on and be concerned with.

With all this talk from General Authorities against the scary internet and daring to be balanced by looking at what both defenders and critics are saying about the Church, it is as if questioning and researching and doubting is now the new pornography.
....

Under [Elder Quentin] Cook’s counsel, FAIR and unofficial LDS apologetic websites are anti-Mormon sources that should be avoided. Not only do they introduce to Mormons “internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcomings of early Church leaders” but they provide many ridiculous answers with logical fallacies and omissions while leaving members confused and hanging with a bizarre version of Mormonism.

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 interpretation of Elder Cook's remarks and its application to the internet and to FairMormon is preposterous.

Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Ridicule—The author is presenting the argument in such a way that it makes his or her subject look ridiculous, usually by misrepresenting the argument or exaggerating it.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "It is obvious that...Uchtdorf is focusing on the internet"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Let’s see...Uchtdorf starts talking about the “age of information (internet),” focuses on extreme internet stereotypical “conspiracy theories” using hyperboles, and then states “...printed on paper, appears on the internet...”, followed by “has a powerful group of followers." It is obvious that - like Cook - Uchtdorf is focusing on the internet and attempting to imply that the internet is dangerous territory for testimonies and finding truth.

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

Here is the author's original quote from President Uchtdorf:

Elder Dieter Uchtdorf said the following in his CES talk “What is truth?”: “...Remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything at any time and every place. You will find even those who still claim that they have evidence that the earth is flat. That the moon is a hologram. It looks like it a little bit. And that certain movie stars are really aliens from another planet. And it is always good to keep in mind just because something is printed on paper, appears on the internet, is frequently repeated or has a powerful group of followers doesn’t make it true.”

The author wishes to make it appear that the internet is the primary focus of President Uchtdorf's warning by extracting pieces of President Uchtdorf's quote (which appears in its entirety in the CES Letter). The author says, "Let’s see...Uchtdorf starts talking about the “age of information (internet),” focuses on extreme internet stereotypical “conspiracy theories” using hyperboles, and then states “...printed on paper, appears on the internet...”, followed by “has a powerful group of followers."

However, here is what President Uchtdorf actually said:

"Remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything at any time and every place"

OK, that's pretty clear. President Uchtdorf then quotes some "conspiracy theories," as the CES author stated.

President Uchtdorf then lists four sources of these types of ideas:

  1. "printed on paper"
  2. "appears on the internet"
  3. "is frequently repeated"
  4. "or has a powerful group of followers"

Note the word "or" before the final item in the list ("has a powerful group of followers"): this is a list of four different sources of information. The author, however, wishes to make this quote from President Uchtdorf a warning that the "internet is dangerous territory for testimonies and finding truth."

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Response to claim: "Going after members who publish or share their questions, concerns, and doubts"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

The September Six were six members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who were excommunicated or disfellowshipped by the LDS in September 1993, allegedly for publishing scholarly work on Mormonism or critiquing Church doctrine or leadership." A few months before the September Six, Boyd K. Packer made the following comment regarding the three “enemies” of the Church: “The dangers I speak of come from the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement (both of which are relatively new), and the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals.” – Boyd K. Packer, All-Church Coordinating Council, May 18, 1993The author is quoting the introduction to the "September Six" Wikipedia article.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

The Church does not excommunicate people for "sharing their questions, concerns and doubts." The Church excommunicates people who actively try to persuade other members to reject Church teachings.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: Strengthening the Church Members Committee

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Strengthening the Church Members Committee: The spying and monitoring arm of the Church. It is secretive and most members have been unaware of its existence since its creation in 1985 after President Ezra Taft Benson took over. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland admitted it still exists in March 2012. The historical evidence and the September Six points to SCMC’s primary mission being to hunt and expose intellectuals and/or disaffected members who are influencing other members to think and question, despite Holland’s claim that it’s a committee primarily to fight against polygamy.

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 Church does not have a "spying and monitoring arm." The purported function of the SCMC as it existed in the past can be performed by anyone who has access to Google.


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Response to claim: "When the prophet speaks the debate is over"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

N. Eldon Tanner, 1st Counselor in the First Presidency, gave a First Presidency Message in the August 1979 Ensign that includes the following statement: “When the prophet speaks the debate is over.”

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Elder Tanner is speaking about certain moral issues only. He is saying that when the prophet speaks about certain moral issues then the debate is over.

Logical Fallacy: Contextomy (Citing out of context)—The author has created a false attribution in which he or she removed a passage by an authority from its surrounding context in such a way as to distort or reverse its intended meaning.


Longer response(s) to criticism:

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Response to claim: "The very idea that one single man can control and censor debate and the free flow of ideas and information is not only anti-intellectualism but anti-free agency as well"

The author(s) of "Debunking FAIR’s Debunking" (also known as "Debunking FairMormon" - from the author of the Letter to a CES Director) (20 July 2014 revision) make(s) the following claim:

It does not matter if Tanner is talking about morality, politics, philosophy, business, religion, science, finance or sports. The very idea that one single man can control and censor debate and the free flow of ideas and information is not only anti-intellectualism but anti-free agency as well. This is "moving the goalpost" from what Elder Tanner was saying and trying to apply it to a much broader spectrum of issues.

FAIR's Response

Fact checking results: The author has stated erroneous information or misinterpreted their sources

Actually, it does matter. President Tanner did not say that the prophet's word should shut down debate on the issues of "morality, politics, philosophy, business, religion, science, finance or sports." He didn't even say that one should not debate issues related to morality. He said that the prophet's word, representing the will of God, should end debate on the merits of the following issues:
  1. The acquisition of wealth at the expense of people by the alcohol and tobacco industries.
  2. The exploitation of children through child pornography
  3. Children being neglected and abused because their mothers are seeking worldly pleasures and careers outside the home.
  4. Fathers who are more concerned with their financial success than with the welfare of their wives and children.

These are the issues which Elder Tanner suggests ought not to be debated. The CES Letter author, as he inferred in the original CES Letter, appears to interpret this statement to be a blanket prohibition of debate in favor of the prophet's will.

Logical Fallacy: Special Pleading—The author creates a one-sided argument by including favorable data and excluding unfavorable data through improper means. In this case, the author "moved the goalpost" by changing his argument when his original claim was shown to be false.

The author destroys his own logic:
  • FairMormon asserted that Elder Tanner was speaking of several specific moral issues, and that his comments did not apply to other issues.
  • The author of the CES Letter states that Tanner's comments should be equally applicable to "morality, politics, philosophy, business, religion, science, finance or sports."
  • The author then accuses FairMormon of "'moving the goalpost'" from what Elder Tanner was saying and trying to apply it to a much broader spectrum of issues."
  • It is the author of the CES Letter that is trying to apply Elder Tanner's remarks to "a much broader spectrum of issues," not FairMormon.
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Response to claim: "Policies and practices you’d expect to find in a totalitarian system such as North Korea or 1984; not from the gospel of Jesus Christ"

The author(s) of Letter to a CES Director (April 2013 revision) make(s) the following claim:

Some things that are true are not very useful + It is wrong to criticize leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true + Spying and monitoring on members + Intellectuals are dangerous + When the prophet speaks the debate is over + Obedience is the First Law of Heaven = Policies and practices you’d expect to find in a totalitarian system such as North Korea or 1984; not from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

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

Logical Fallacy: Appeal to Ridicule—The author is presenting the argument in such a way that it makes his or her subject look ridiculous, usually by misrepresenting the argument or exaggerating it.

The author compares the Church with the totalitarian government in control of North Korea.


A FAIR Analysis of:
[[../|Letter to a CES Director]]
A work by author: Jeremy Runnells
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