Researching the LDS church on the Internet


You can find all kinds of people on the Internet blogging and commenting about the church these days. There are those who write so far above me that I have no clue what they are writing about or why they feel the topic is important. At the other end of the spectrum are the terrible lowlife who write hateful and disrespectful things in a taunting and disgusting manner.

I like the kind of bloggers and visitors who are spiritually and intellectually curious and who have developed the good taste to know how to communicate in a kind and respectful method. Like me, they are seeking understanding and meaning in their spiritual pursuits and desire to share their discoveries with others who appreciate insights that have helped them along the way.

What you will find

If you are just starting your investigation of the church and are using the Internet as your primary tool, you might find it helpful to know a few things about what you can expect to find out there. Let’s assume that you are using a search engine such as Google, Yahoo or MSN and are using the most common search words of Mormon, LDS, or the full name of the church.

Gratefully, the official sites of the church appear at the top or close to the top of most search engines in these searches. However, there are several other categories of sites offering information about our church that are decidedly not favorable to our doctrines and practices. I know. You’re shocked. So was my mother the first time she learned how to use a search engine.

Recommended places to visit

01. lds.org – This is the official site of the church
02. mormon.org – Contains basic LDS Church doctrines
03. Jesus Christ – The church clearly teaches about the Savior
04. Newsroom – A great source for news media clarifications
05. History – A hidden gem among the church sites worth visiting
06. Joseph Smith – A wonderful site of history and doctrine
07. CES – Institute manuals are a great resource
08. Deseret Book – Publishes books about the church
09. FARMS – The Neal A Maxwell institute – apologetic studies
10. YouTube – New Media Public Affairs channel for videos

01. Wikipedia – A constantly updated and growing LDS collection
02. MormonWiki -Still getting started but growing quickly
03. MoreGood -Promoting positive LDS content from members
04. Jeff Lindsay – A complete and scholarly site of apologetics
05. Mormon Times – LDS news articles – beware of comments
06. FAIR – Foundation for Apologetic and Information Research
07. Shields – Scholarly and Historical Info Exchange for LDS
08. About LDS – A long-standing source of good LDS information
09. Mormon History Association – Since 1965, open to all
10. Light Planet – Scholarly work by W. John Walsh

Anti-Mormons and Ex-Mormons

I classify these two types of sites differently than others have done. Some Anti-Mormon sites seem to be genuinely interested in helping LDS people. The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry is one I have written about previously. I also wrote about post-Mormons and other kinds of non-Mormon sites you will encounter out there. It’s not all happy and cheerful.

Recovery from Mormonism is one that comes up very high on the search engines. It is a very popular forum. In my experience the individuals who post there are mostly angry, immature and don’t seem to be able to express themselves very well. Yes, there are exceptions. You can read material there from Steve Benson, about whom I have also written previously.

The disaffected Mormon underground

And then there is that nebulous group of members in various states of faith that call themselves the disaffected Mormon Underground or the DAMU. These individuals sometime leave comments on the LDS group blogs like By Common Consent, Times and Seasons, Mormon Mentality, Messenger and Advocate and The Millennial Star that are less than faith promoting.

I have had many visitors, comments and private communications from those who are active in the DAMU. I emphasize with their struggles and try to be as encouraging as possible. Some have made up their minds and have become MINOs (Mormons in Name Only) or NOMs (New Order Mormons). These are those who are only social Mormons and do not believe the doctrine.

Summary and conclusion

The Internet and the World wide Web are a part of the New Media that is becoming a larger part of the overall church effort to reach out and share the gospel. The Savior commanded us to go into all the world and teach the nations. Like all the inventions the Lord inspires to allow us to fulfill his commandment, the web is a source of much good information about the church.

Investigators today have a much easier and yet a much harder time to learn the truth about the church, the doctrines, history and practices for themselves. The Internet allows us to research the church in the comfort of our own homes. The Lord must have a lot of trust in his children in these last days that they can sort out the truth from false information found on the Internet.

17 Responses

  1. I just came across your blog and it is fantastic! I love this post. It’s interesting, I’ve come across these same websites and heard the same arguments (or angry rantings as the case may be) and it’s funny – who caused the most problems for the Nephites? The Lamanites or the apostate Nephites – apostate Nephites! Who caused the most problems for Joseph Smith? The non-members or the apostate members? Apostate members!

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  2. Hi Stephanie,Thank you. I appreciate the feedback. I also enjoyed your blog, Musings of a Mormon Mommy. I especially enjoyed your post that included statements defining How the Mormon Church views women. I look forward to reviewing it again in greater detail when I have more time. It was refreshing.May I recommend an essay from fellow blogger Jeff Lindsay entitled, Cutting a little slack for Ex-Mormons? We who have no or little problem with the faith can sometimes have a hard time understanding the motivations of those who do. They are just reaching out for help. Unfortunately, so many do it in such an inadequate manner. Isn’t it wonderful that our Heavenly Father overlooks our own sometimes infantile methods in asking for help. Nevertheless, he loves us and helps us in his tender mercy.

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  3. “And then there is that nebulous group of members in various states of faith that call themselves the disaffected Mormon Underground or the DAMU. These individuals are the source of a large percentage of comments found on the LDS group blogs like By Common Consent…”Tim, I think you do your readers a disservice here by leaving the implication that BCC, T&S and Millennial Star are somehow havens for the DAMU. The statement of “large percentage of comments” in particular is grossly inaccurate to the point of falsehood. For its part, BCC is a blog for faithful members and has nothing to do with disaffected mormonism of any sort. I would appreciate a retraction of this paragraph, as it sullies your otherwise-useful site by giving your readers a portrayal of my site (and others) that simply isn’t true.

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  4. Thanks for the review on all the links, Tim.And thanks for the connection to C.A.R.M. I had missed that.

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  5. Tim,I agree with Steve (though I admit a certain conflict of interest). As someone with admin duties at By Common Consent, I can tell you that one of the most time-consuming responsibilities is policing comments that express hostility toward the Church. We have a few DAMU trolls, but when they get out of hand, their comments are deleted and, sometimes, their IP addresses banned from posting comments at the site. Your “large percentage” characterization is a gross, gross exaggeration.

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  6. Tim, I have to jump in and agree with Steve and Brad- You have a useful site here, and you can provide service to people trying to navigate the sometimes scary waters of the search engines.However, to lump By Common Consent, Times & Seasons and other mormon blogs with faithful authors into the DAMU boat is gravely inaccurate.

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  7. Tim,Might I suggest you spend more time at Mormon Mentality? I think it is pretty clear that the community there are not primarily ex or disaffected members. How about if I send you a copy of my temple reccomend?I think this post would be a great service to people if it included a more accurate assessment of the sites to which you have linked.

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  8. Steve, Brad and Tracy,Thank you each for pointing out my poorly worded statement about the reach of the DAMU. I was pleased to read your comments that these group blogs are managed better than some that I have seen in my travels on the LDS-related forums.Please accept my apologies for the poor choice of words, which I have now retracted and corrected on the essay. Not that you need it, but I would be pleased to offer a much more balanced review of your site in a future post as a token of my appreciation for pointing out the error of my hasty judgment.

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  9. Tim, I think you do your readers a disservice here by leaving the implication that BCC, T&S and Millennial Star are somehow havens for the DAMU. Frankly we at T&S find the DAMU comment for cheaper. That’s the only reason.

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  10. Tim, you’re a prince. Thanks for the speedy reply.

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  11. ESO,I offer the same heart-felt apology at mis-characterizing Mormon Mentality as being a breeding ground for disaffected members. I know the essays are excellent. I have read many of them over the years. My observation was related simply to the comments shared by some who are not seeking greater light and knowledge. A copy of your temple recommend is not necessary. No offense intended.

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  12. Thank you Tim, for being so kind as to address this so quickly. We hope to see you at BCC.

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  13. Another interesting post and one that I wish every member and interested non-member could read. Instead of simply outlining the positive sources, it puts context to the negative ones as well. Understanding both is crucial to navigating through the material on the Internet. Thanks!

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  14. Hi lds9999,When I was younger and more naive, I would never have suggested that someone go out and read the opposing viewpoints. In fact, I still don’t, but unfortunately, it has now become unavoidable in our technologically connected universe.My mother was so trusting when she first learned to use a search engine. She just could not understand why anyone would write some of the garbage about the church that she found. We had many conversations about her discoveries over the years before she died.Today, the garbage can still be found. The rantings and ravings of some of the crazies are easy to identify for most members, no matter how new they are in the church. However, we now have the added layers of good Christians who make it their ministry to help the wayward Mormons. I appreciate those who do so with loving intent.But, to me, it’s the comments by the DAMU that are most difficult for new members and investigators to understand. There’s just enough of faith left that they cling to the church for social or cultural support. But they grumble and complain in such a way that people like my mother were not encouraged in her journey to return to full activity in the church.I can understand intellectual curiosity and exploring opposing viewpoints as a means of deepening one’s own faith. But when your own faith is weak, what good does it do to gather with others who are struggling just so you can commiserate together? The questions are valid. It’s the method of going about in an attempt to answer them by complaining to others that is faulty. I guess it’s just spiritual immaturity.Being disaffected is different from seeking to increase one’s faith. We all have questions for which there do not seem to be answers. But can’t we ask them in a way that does not challenge faith? Maybe it’s me that is naive. I want to increase my faith by my inquiries.Sorry, lds9999. This was not directed at you. I really like what you are doing on Mormon Videos. Thanks for putting those all together in one spot. I love all the new LDS blogs popping up. It is helping to cheer up the world to read faith-promoting stories and personal testimonies that are evidence to me of the fruits of living the gospel. Cheers!

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  15. Tim, concerning your 9:02AM comment above, I would love to see you write an entire essay on how to build faith when one is struggling and having doubts.To spark you, I was particularly impressed with this particular post at Segullah.org on “Finding Faith,” which is about a member who has had long-time struggles but seems to be taking a good approach.I will look forward to any insights you might offer.

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  16. “that are less than faith promoting.”By Common Consent is faith promoting. I don’t care what you say.

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  17. Ah, but it is some of the comments from the DAMU that I was pointing out were less than faith promoting. I like BCC. I just don’t like some of the banter that seems like such a waste of time. By the way, I liked your post today and doubt and faith. Thanks for stopping by and adding your comment, Jacob.

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