When some members think of anti-Mormonism, immediately they have an image pop into their minds of the Evangelical preacher standing outside the convention center with the bullhorn screaming that Mormons are members of an evil cult. Typically the arguments that come to mind have to do with either the Bible (FAIR only had one question on it this year) or the tension-state between faith and works (also only one question this year). For most members, those issues have been discussed and debated over many generations of anti-Mormons, and members typically dismiss them with a wave of the hand. And if those were the only issues that people dealt with, we probably wouldn’t need an organization like FAIR.
In a previous blog post I mentioned how Simon Southerton “has been trying to polarize apologists and others who promote various theories about the Book of Mormon.” An astounding example of that very avocation recently appeared under Dr. Southerton’s nom de plume on the Recovery from Mormonism message board.
Over on Jeff Lindsay’s blog, Mormanity, he examines Gary Swank’s confusion about the differences between LDS and FLDS beliefs, and Swank’s serious use of Jeff’s satirical web site MormonCult.org as a source.
Check it out:
On the “Setting the Record Straight” thread there was a comment made by MarkW that indicated that Tracy Bachman, wife of Tal Bachman, had independently corroborated Tal Bachman’s story of what was said by their ex-stake president.
MarkW said: Actually, his wife did speak publicly about this at the exmo conference. So there is corroboration from her. I don’t remember how specific or on-point it was, so we’d have to go back and review that. And while her witness would not be direct corroboration of Tal’s meeting with the SP it’d be corroboration that the SP did say the type of things in question to someone else.
Tal Bachman, son of rock legend Randy Bachman, was raised in the Church. Through a crisis of faith, Tal decided to leave the Church in late 2003. Since that time he has been sharing his exit story with those who are curious and in various venues critical of the Church. (In the parlance of those who leave the Church, an exit story is their telling of awakening to the knowledge that the Church is no longer true for them. In many respects, an exit story is simply another type of conversion story or, more properly, a deconversion story.)
Part of Tal’s exit story revolves around his interaction with his stake president at the time, Randy Keyes. Tal often tells, with incredulity, how he heard from his stake president that he didn’t believe in different aspects of the gospel either.
I gave a short talk recently, and it was suggested that I post it up here for others to read. I borrowed some of the information in the talk from a past president’s message I gave in the FAIR Journal. But, I still hope you find it valuable. Here it is:
In what some undoubtedly view as a hard-hitting video on YouTube—complete with sinister music—a critic of the Church asserts that Mormons belong to a cult because we teach that “DEATH is better than any form of immorality.” (Yes, the capital letters are in the video. Perhaps the video’s producer is doing his best to channel Jerald Tanner.)
Heretic that I am, I regularly read the Skeptic and the Skeptical Inquirer (2 magazines that regularly attempt to debunk anything that seems to be unscientific). Although I don’t agree with everything in their magazines (much of it is atheistic), I do like a lot of what they print.
The other day I picked up the latest copy of the Skeptical Inquirer and found that the first article I read tied neatly into LDS apologetic efforts. The article is entitled “Difficulty in Debunking Myths Rooted in the Way the Mind Works,” by Shankar Vedantam. Here are some quotes, paraphrases, and summaries of the article.
It never ceases to amaze me that critics insist that the Book of Mormon read like a doctoral dissertation with an extensive introduction and massive references explaining all of the details relative to the culture and environment in which the history takes place.
Brant Gardner explains something about this in his introductory chapter to volume one of “Second Witness” He references Bible scholars who point out that our modern culture is what is called a “low context environment” culture. This means that we expect the writer to explain every detail of the environment in which the story takes place. An example is the need for an extensive introduction to a doctoral dissertation with massive amounts of references and extensive explanations of what has already been done in the field. The Bible and other ancient writings, however, are written in what is classified as a “High context” environment. In this environment the reader is expected to have a broad and concrete knowledge of the common cultural context of the culture that the writer is talking about.
If, indeed, the Book of Mormon is an ancient document then one should not expect it to explain every detail of the culture and environment related to the recorded history. In fact, the lack of detail is a hallmark of an ancient document and gives further support to the historicity of the book.
Since Mike Parker’s blog post on plural marriage has garnered more comments than all our other threads combined, my keen market research skills have told me that polygamy posts are traffic gold.
One of my research interests at FAIR is plural marriage, and I’ve been reading as much of the primary and secondary literature as I can get my hands on.
I thought our readers might be interested in a periodic look at a few of the things that I’ve found interesting, weird, or different from the common portrayals of plural marriage. In particular, primary sources that may have been misread or misrepresented, are also worth looking at. I hope that readers will spot things that I haven’t, or correct some of my own blind spots.
I’ll try to post at least once or twice a week, until people get bored, I run out of material, or FAIR tells me to stop so this doesn’t become the All Plural Marriage, All the Time blog.