Websites critical of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are popping up regularly, some gaining more traction than others. FAIR has responded specifically to some of them, like the so-called “CES Letter,” “Letter to My Wife,” and MormonThink. There are many other similar websites that FAIR has not responded to, partly because the topics raised in these sources are usually addressed in our wiki anyway, and partly because many of these sites overlap, because they are mostly re-hashing old arguments. [Read more…] about Yet another critical website pretending to be something it’s not – “LDS Discussions”
Part 69: CES Letter Conclusion [Section C]
by Sarah Allen
Well, here we are: the final post in this series. I’m sitting here right now with mixed feelings. This has been a very long time coming, requiring a tremendous amount of research and study, and a lot of blessings have come my way because of it. It’s gratifying to see the final result of all of the effort I put into it, though I have to admit, I’m also eager for a bit of a break.
I’ll go more into my thoughts toward the end of this post, but for now, there are still a few lines of Jeremy’s conclusion to get through.
Picking up where we left off: [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 69
Part 68: CES Letter Conclusion [Section B]
by Sarah Allen
This particular portion of Jeremy’s conclusion starts to get spicy. There will be a lot of questions being asked in a very hostile tone, some of them for the first time in this version of the Letter (he removed an entire section on the Scriptures that was pretty antagonistic, but still references it in his conclusion).
I realize that this relentless antagonism is considered by many to be a feature of the CES Letter, rather than a bug. However, to me, it’s just all very sad. Instead of realizing that just maybe he was wrong in his strident assumptions about the Gospel and allowing the Spirit to teach him something, he let bias and misinformation shatter his own his faith and turn him hostile and angry. Since then, it’s led him to actively destroy the faith of thousands of others while profiting off of their misery. He’s dug a pit for himself and now, the only way out is on his knees. So far, he hasn’t been willing to try that. I genuinely do hope and pray that changes someday, because Alma the Younger told us all exactly what happens when we go down that path without repenting.
Picking up here where we left off last week: [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 68
Part 67: CES Letter Conclusion [Section A]
by Sarah Allen
After almost a year and a half, this series is drawing to a close. All we have left here is Jeremy’s conclusion (which is 3 pages long) and then my own concluding thoughts. It’s been a long road, with a lot of reading, studying, and personal growth. I’ve personally learned a lot, and putting aside so much of my free time to study the history of the Church and its primary documents has strengthened my own testimony more than I ever anticipated.
It’s funny; one of the common claims you hear from people who have left the Church is that the more they studied, the more they became convinced it wasn’t true. For me, it’s been the opposite. The more I study the Gospel and its history, the more deep my belief becomes. I’ve said before that you can’t study this stuff on your own, you have to study with the Spirit.
Maybe that’s the difference, maybe not. I can’t read anyone else’s mind. All I can do is speak to my own life, and it tells me that what you get out of an experience mirrors what you put into it. If you’re hoping to find reasons to leave the Church, you’ll find them. If you’re hoping to find reasons to stay, you’ll find those, too. And if you’re looking to grow your testimony while learning more about the Church you belong to, researching all of these questions on your own is a great way to do it. [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 67
Part 66: CES Letter Other Concerns/Questions [Section H]
by Sarah Allen
Continuing the trend of things that are actually controversial, Jeremy kicks off this week’s post with the Strengthening the Church Members Committee (SCMC). This is a topic our critics love to run with, though as always, they distort the reality into something bizarre and twisted.
I’d like to go over some of the history and responsibilities of this committee, because, as I’ve said before, when you put the context back into these supposedly controversial things, they become a whole lot less controversial.
The SCMC was formed in approximately 1985 by President Benson, though it has much earlier roots. Its goals, as I’ll show in more detail with statements later, were to give assistance to bishops, branch presidents, and stake presidents who didn’t have the personal knowledge needed to help their members, and to monitor publications by members that taught false doctrine. This was apparently to protect the members from falling victim to those apostate sects who still practice unauthorized polygamy. [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 66
Part 65: CES Letter Other Concerns/Questions [Section G]
by Sarah Allen
For the past few weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time on Jeremy trying to make “fetch” happen by straw-manning some arguments in order to drum up controversy over things that were never controversial to begin with. Elder Andersen telling us not to believe everything we read online is not exactly scandalous, you know? But this week is different, because the things we’ll be talking about do actually have some controversy swirling around them already.
While we’re still under the main topic heading of “ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM,” we’re starting a new sub-header: “GOING AFTER MEMBERS WHO PUBLISH OR SHARE THEIR QUESTIONS, CONCERNS, AND DOUBTS.” The first subject under this sub-heading is the infamous September Six. Jeremy begins by citing and quoting the same Wikipedia article I just linked to: [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 65
We’d especially like to thank Derrick Duncan for volunteering his time and talent to narrate it.
Part 64: CES Letter Other Concerns/Questions [Section F]
by Sarah Allen
Picking up the next portion of the “ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM” topic heading, Jeremy begins with a quote from President Oaks:
Elder 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.” [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 64
Part 63: CES Letter Other Concerns/Questions [Section E]
by Sarah Allen
I love to learn new things. Ever since I was a child, I’ve enjoyed researching a lot of topics from a wide variety of sources. I come by that honestly: my dad is always reading something new, too, and it’s only fiction about 1/3 of the time. Every Christmas, our gift from him is a small stack of 2-3 nonfiction books, a tradition I always look forward to. That’s why this last topic header from the Other Concerns section—the largest of the four—is one that I feel especially passionate about: “ANTI-INTELLECTUALISM.”
The claim is that the Church targets scholars and intellectuals for punishment and excommunication. You often see the charge being made in connection with discussions on the September Six, for example—a group we’ll be discussing in more detail in a week or two. [Read more…] about The CES Letter Rebuttal — Part 63
[We have more information about Under the Banner of Heaven here.]
“God is greater than the United States, and when the Government conflicts with heaven, we will be ranged under the banner of heaven against the Government.” This sentence, supposedly spoken by John Taylor, has been made famous by Jon Krakauer. He used it for the title of his book, Under the Banner of Heaven, which has now been transformed into a fictionalized detective drama mini-series streaming on Hulu. But those words were never actually spoken by John Taylor. They were made up by an anonymous Salt Lake Tribune writer.
The Salt Lake Tribune was started in 1870 by three men that had left the Church. It changed hands many times but was overtly anti-Mormon until 1901, when its new owners began changing its tone somewhat. During those first 30 years, much of the reporting on the Church was downright obnoxious, and probably not meant to be taken seriously. This includes the article on page four of the January 6, 1880 issue, about a stake conference that took place the previous Sunday. (The available scan of the newspaper page is very difficult to read. In my transcription I used “(?)” after words that I thought were correct but wasn’t completely sure, and I used “[?]” in place of words I found completely unreadable.) It begins with: [Read more…] about Under the Banner of Misattribution