I find that some people are very confused about what FAIR is and what we do. First of all, we know that there are several organizations that use the term “FAIR.” For us, it stands for Faithful Answers, Informed Response. We are a group of volunteers. Yes, that’s right – volunteers. We don’t have a staff of customer service people to make things happen. We have two people that work for us. They help organize our volunteers, organize our conference, do our accounting, and mail out books. Because the rest of us are volunteers, we often move more slowly than I like. But we do our best.
What do we do?
People send us questions via emails and we try to answer them. We keep all names confidential. We have even received emails from some in the former Latter-day Saint community, but again, we keep the names confidential. The volunteers answer the emails. Some of those answers, stripped of all identifying material, are posted on our website. Find Answers
We put on a conference each year. We try to invite speakers we think will be interesting to the Latter-day Saint community. Often, they speak on current issues, and other times they speak on history. I am really excited about this year’s conference. You really won’t want to miss it. 2021 FAIR Conference
We operate a bookstore. We have tried to collect books that are of interest to the community. We focus on books related to history and doctrine, so you won’t find any novels with us. We operate a YouTube video channel. Currently, the channel carries previous conference talks, and occasional videos that are put together by us, or by other organizations that are willing to share. We have a blog/podcast with lots of interesting information. We have many who follow one of our podcasters, Hanna Seariac. If you haven’t listened to her yet, you should!
This year, in addition to our regular blog material, we are supplementing the Come, Follow Me curriculum.
What are we not?
One former Latter-day Saint, who has made a career out of being a podcaster and internet influencer, recently created a long podcast where he tried to describe FAIR’s creation, mission, and financing. He made several statements that I can only categorize as dishonest. I say that because the information he gave was based on innuendo, was easy to verify using public documents, or was misleading. His organization pays him over $200,000 per year to produce these podcasts. It is difficult to believe that he doesn’t have the resources to complete a basic fact check on what he says.
Contrary to his dishonest claims, we were not created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Church was not involved in the creation of our organization, nor did they encourage us to organize. Also, contrary to that podcaster’s claims, The Church was not involved in the creation of The More Good Foundation, The Interpreter, or Book of Mormon Central. All of these organizations were created by everyday people who felt there was a need. None of these organizations, including FAIR, were created with input from the Church. I included the other organizations here because I personally know the founders of these groups and don’t like to see them misrepresented.
Again, contrary to the dishonest claims of that same podcaster, we don’t receive millions of dollars from the Church. He repeated this claim throughout his presentation. You don’t have to believe what I say about finances. You can view our public 990 tax forms here: Foundation For Apologetic Information And Research Inc – Nonprofit Explorer – ProPublica The podcaster repeatedly stated that people should correct him if he is wrong. I am surprised that nobody in his audience looked at our 990s and corrected him. It only takes 30 seconds to see that he is incorrect. He pointed out that 990 tax forms are public, so I have a hard time believing it was an ignorant mistake.
In our 24-year history, we have received two donations from the More Good Foundation, the most recent in 2018. The other organization that has given us donations is the United Way. Other than that, individuals or family charities donate to us, many in very small amounts. We appreciate those donations as they keep us afloat. We are not the greatest fundraisers. If you like what we do, please consider donating. It does cost money to pay our two employees and do what we do.
Next, that podcaster combined the total funding from several organizations including FAIR, both big and small, and compared that total amount with his personal $200,000+ salary. He talked about the millions of dollars of resources as if they were available to FAIR. First, revenue does not equal salary. Secondly, the entire presentation is flawed. For a comparison, let’s combine the revenue of Intel, Samsung, Hewlett Packard, and Nick and Tony’s local computer repair shop together and then have a discussion on how rich and powerful Nick and Tony must be because the combined group brings in millions of dollars. It is dishonest to do that. I’m amazed people bought into his argument. I know they did because they emailed me demanding answers.
Contrary to claims of that podcaster, the “LDS Church” doesn’t use us to spread misinformation. He makes the claim, “’Newer churches sometimes feel less comfortable with full information and with open/honest dialogue.” He then shows The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Scientology. The claim offends me in a couple of ways. First, he provides no evidence that The Church feels “less comfortable” with full information. There is a lot of evidence to the contrary—just think Joseph Smith papers. And secondly, we at FAIR try to make our information as accurate and open as possible. We deal with difficult topics. We believe that open dialogue is the best way to handle it, and we have done that since our beginnings. When, on occasion, misstatements have been pointed out to us, we try to immediately correct them. We are honest and transparent in all that we do. We back up our claims with footnotes. We check things with historians. The Church of Jesus Christ links to us as an alternative source of information from a non-affiliated group.
We do our best to provide the best information possible. We hope to be a place where you can fact check any claims, no matter what your belief in the Church might be.
We hope that you find our services valuable. We get thank you emails from time to time, and we really appreciate those. The only payment our volunteers receive is from receiving your thanks.
We look forward to many more years of providing truth against the false claims that continue to be repeated by a few internet influencers who seem to have no other purpose than to attack the Church or use misinformation to drag people away from the Church and their families. Why do they do it? I’m not sure. But I think that $200,000 salary plays a role.
Scott Gordon serves as president of FAIR, a non-profit corporation staffed by volunteers dedicated to helping members deal with issues raised by critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He has an MBA from Brigham Young University, and a BA in Organizational Communications from Brigham Young University. He is currently an instructor of business and technology at Shasta College in Redding, California. Scott has held many church positions including serving as a bishop for six years. He is married and has five children.