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Can Anti-Mormon Ministries Be Trusted?

Posted by JLFuller on July 4, 2008

In the academic and professional worlds, legitimate researchers submit their work for peer review. This is the process where communities of qualified experts in the same field scrutinize and impartially review submitted research papers.  Publications which have not undergone peer review are generally regarded as suspicious by scholars and professionals. Such is the work of every anti-Mormon “ministry” this writer reads. In fact, I have yet to find an anti-Mormon group who engages in peer review for any of their work at any time. Therefore, those who engage in such activities can not be taken seriously. That doesn’t mean everything originating from a given writer or group must be peer reviewed. But if they never submit papers or research work can they honestly claim it is legitimate? Certainly not. But there are legitimate organizations such as FairLDS.org and The Maxwell Institute that do submit work for review in legitimate publications. I think readers should know who does and who does not follow this practice. All of us need and want resources we can trust to do the hard work of discovery. I need and want informed and educated opinions in order to form my own. Otherwise I have to do all the work myself. We want to know what the experts have discovered and how it relates to us. But we want good information not junk. That is why we go to these sources – they know what they are talking about.  


Most anti-Mormon groups seldom if ever ask for a comment from the Church before publishing. You would think they would want to know. But the Church’s comments have no bearing because these people don’t care about truthfulness when it comes to the LDS Church. They are not looking for answers but ammunition. These same groups have used the same old lines for decades despite having current information available – information which disputes and corrects misunderstandings and distortions. One group, Mormon Research Ministries, even rejects the term anti-Mormon as being analogous to a racial slur. They prefer “critic”, a term usually reserved for intellectual or professional reviewers. But MRM, Living Hope Ministries and others never submit their “research” for legitimate peer review. I invite others to correct me if I am wrong.  But yet they claim it to be accurate, fair and honest, none of which is supported by outside reviewers, at least that I can find. Their rhetoric is the same old twaddle that has been addressed by the Church for decades. Their “facts” deliberately misinform and are generally untrustworthy. I am biased, I admit that. But I am not blinded by my bias. I can be corrected.


So if these are not legitimate sources of information about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, what are they? I suggest they are anti-Mormon propaganda mills. The Oxford English Dictionary says propaganda is “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view.”  http://www.askoxford.com/concise_oed/propaganda?view=uk I present other sites below where anti-Mormon claims are answered. This is not new information.  The Church has answered the claims and responded to these people’s comments and questions since the restoration but yet our detractors still bring them up as though Church leadership had never addressed them. As readers will find, the Church has not and does not avoid tough questions. Sometimes the Church leadership just doesn’t have an answer. But by the same token, the Church has found that answering the same old questions from the same groups time and time again is without merit. The anti-Mormons keep saying the same things about us no matter what we tell them. And MRM is right in the middle of it. It makes MRM’s claim to be legitimate critics ludicrous. Remember, this has nothing to do with doctrine or theology, it is about behavior.


Does having a different point of view about LDS theology make one anti-Mormon? Not to my way of thinking. We all understand things differently. Even eye witnesses have different stories of the same event. Just ask a traffic cop investigating an automobile accident. (I have first hand experience in this area having been a policeman.) Understanding things differently is part of the human experience. It is not offensive. But what determines if one is anti-Mormon is behavior not belief.


Reverend Greg Johnson of Standing Together Ministries in Utah is an example to emulate. He is a Baptist Minister who has profound and fundamental differences in theology and evangelizes among Mormons. But he corrects himself and others when advised he is in error about LDS theology, teaching or belief. He does not march, carry picket signs, drag a book of Mormon on the sidewalk with a string, or parade his congregation in front of temples or other church buildings in protest. He has differences but he is respectful and honest in expressing them which speaks loudly about his character. Do I agree with his understanding of God’s nature and our relationship to him? No. But remember, being anti-Mormon is about behavior not theology.


So, in the end, can anti-Mormon ministries be trusted? Not to my way of thinking. But you have to decide that for yourself. You have to ask yourself if you want well researched and documented information or opinion and propaganda masquerading as fact. You have a choice – even among those whose theology differs from ours. 


I refer readers to: http://www.lightplanet.com/response/index.html, www.fairlds.org, www.lds.org, http://www.lib.byu.edu/Macmillan/, http://farms.byu.edu/, and http://www.byutv.org/.











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