August 3, 2003
by Erin McPherson
On August 7th and 8th, the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) will be hosting a conference at Utah Valley State College.
This is their fifth annual conference. FAIR is an organization committed to defending the LDS church and its teachings. The conference will be a sort of “Anti Anti-Mormonism”. On the FAIR website (www.fairlds.org), a disclaimer states that the organization is not affiliated or controlled by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Lance Starr, Media Relations Manager for FAIR says, “While we are not affiliated with the Church, we consider ourselves faithful members of the church. We believe in its doctrines and teachings and it is those doctrines and teachings we try to defend”.
The conference itself will include speakers such as Brant Gardner and Craig Foster who will address “Monotheism, Messiah and Mormon’s Book” as well as “The Unchanging Ways of Anti-Mormons”. After each presentation there is a question and answer session in which audience members can participate. Each audience member is permitted to ask one question per speaker (limited only to be able to accommodate all of the questions possible). There is also a luncheon every day during the conference. During the luncheon, guests can eat with the presenters and speak with them freely if they wish.
During an interview with the Media Relations Manager, the question was asked, “What sources are being used that differ FAIR from the LDS church?” Lance Starr answered that the “question is difficult because the Church seldom if ever defends itself in the manner in which we do. We actually have a great deal more freedom in dealing with critics that the institutional Church does in that this is our priority whereas defending doctrine is not the Church’s first priority, nor should it be.”
The organization has access to many scholars who are versed in law, early Christian studies, Jewish studies, theologians and experts in LDS history. The group uses the scriptures as a source of information as well. The Bible is used to show that the LDS beliefs are not unorthodox. FAIR does “not try to replace an existing teaching with something different or newer although [they] may sometimes provide an explanation for a certain doctrine that hasn’t been offered before.”
Most conference attendees tend to be older; therefore the group would like to get more students involved. A mix of members and non-members attend the conferences in attempts to learn more about the LDS Church. FAIR is a non-profit organization funded strictly by bookstore sales and the generosity of its members.
If you are interested, but unable to attend the conference, you can also check out their website (www.fairlds.org). It allows users to post questions and answers and also provides access to resources to answer questions about the organization itself. The site is regulated and it expects that any posts have a reference.
To attend the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research conference on August 7th and 8th at UVSC, see the FAIR website for details and pricing information.