I have long been torn between two approaches to dealing with critics of our faith. I’m not sure if it is a good idea to answer their allegations or to simply ignore them. I guess it depends on how much their charges bother us. The official response of the Church seems to have changed over the years in direct proportion to the number of articles published in the media that are false or misleading.
At one time we were much quieter and less responsive. Things that I thought were outrageous and slanderous were met with not a peep. Other things that I thought were obvious and petty elicited responses that seemed over-reactive and condemning. Today, things are more even, measured and, in a word, professional. I am no authority on the subject but I like the image Public Affairs presents to the world today.
There are many great websites out there that are doing an excellent job of answering the critics. In reality, you can’t provide answers that will satisfy those who don’t believe there are answers. We can only offer responses and correct information in an attempt to provide honest seekers of truth with facts that they can evaluate for themselves. Elder Ballard has asked for more faithful members of the Church to share the truth about the gospel on the Internet and the new media.
The best websites for LDS answers
Of course the best site is lds.org. It offers a tremendous resource of excellent material including conference talks, magazine articles, official curriculum, complete online scriptures, and links to hundreds of other official LDS sites. In my opinion the best resource for answers to difficult questions can be found in the LDS Newsroom which I have used extensively in my recent posts.
Don’t discount Mormon.org. While the focus is on providing support material for the missionary discussions and therefore lacks depth, you can’t go wrong in using the answers found there. The church web team went to a lot of work to present the wonderful content and videos. You will also want to be sure to visit JesusChrist.lds.org for excellent articles and videos on the Savior.
I can only mention a few others here. I have compiled a more complete list on the sidebar of this blog that I use extensively in my research. The MoreGood foundation is always worth visiting as are FAIR and Shields. Even though there are so many others, I must mention the extensive work that Jeff Lindsay has done over the years on his LDS FAQ. It has always been extremely helpful. I gave up my work in this area long ago because Jeff was doing such an awesome job.
Answers to some basic allegations
In the past week I have responded to six common criticisms of those who are opposed to the work of the church. They were conveniently presented as a comment to my Easter post, “Are Mormons Christian?” The objections were offered by an anonymous reader so I imagine there was no real desire for a response. An intelligent dialog requires that the participants at least identify themselves. A respectful exchange invites understanding for each other’s viewpoints.
1. God is a glorified being of flesh and bones
2. The doctrine of spiritual brotherhood
3. The Book of Mormon brings us closer to Christ
4. Authority to act in the name of God
5. Why can’t I attend a Mormon wedding?
6. The practice of plural marriage
In my experience there are two kinds of critics that we cannot help. There are those who are convinced that their zeal in attacking us is providing a service to God and others who they want to impress. Then there are the apostates and ex-Mormons who want only to justify their actions. They will go to any length to make sure that everyone knows how hurt they have been by some real or imagined offense. I wish there was something we could do to ease their pain.
Dealing with anti-Morman literature
I often reflect upon the words of Elder Bruce R. McConkie as he spoke about anti-Mormon literature. He said he would sometimes read it for entertainment value and nothing more. I suspect that he may have read it on occasion more for intellectual stimulation. I used to have an extensive collection of books that were not flattering to the LDS faith. I would refer to them in an effort to understand what our critics were saying and how they saw things.
For some reason the fact that I had such a collection came up in an interview with a good Stake President. He counseled me to dispose of it. I did so long ago and have not missed it especially since so much of the same material can be found today on the Internet with a simple search. You do not have to go far to discover that there is still much animosity and false interpretations of our history and doctrine available to the public in thousands of anti-Mormon websites.
We do not shy away from the difficult questions if the seeker is legitimately wanting to know the answers. For some questions there are no answers. For others, the answer depends on the maturity of the individual asking the question or repeating the allegation that they have read elsewhere. If you are sincere in wanting to understand something about our faith or doctrine I am more than happy to point you to some answers that have helped me over the years.