Reuters news quoted LDS leader Marlin K. Jensen out of context, making it sound like Mormons are going apostate because of history issues they discover online.
CES Letter: “I was reading the news online when I came across the following news article: Mormonism Besieged by the Modern Age. In the article was information about a Q&A meeting at Utah State University that LDS Church Historian and General Authority, Elder Marlin K. Jensen gave in late 2011. He was asked his thoughts regarding the effects of Google on membership and people who are “leaving in droves” over Church history. Elder Marlin K. Jensen’s response:
“Maybe since Kirtland, we’ve never had a period of – I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having now; largely over these issues…”
This truly shocked me. I didn’t understand what was going on or why people would leave “over history.”
The “issues” that Elder Marlin Jensen was talking about wasn’t church history. He was answering a question about “the effects of Google on membership,” and he discussed a “search engine optimization” strategy for the church’s website that would drive traffic to church sources rather than anti-Mormon sources of information. The “apostasy” that “we’re having now” is due to biased anti-Mormon sites being the top search results on Google for Mormon topics. Obviously, people are more likely to go apostate and leave the church if they can only find information about the church on hateful anti-Mormon websites, rather than objective truthful sources.
Trust Only Original Sources – This includes reputable websites that most trust, such as Wikipedia. Once, I edited a Wikipedia page about Blacks and the Priesthood, and now everything I wrote is wiped away. Now, Wikipedia is full of misinformation and skewed propaganda that I would expect from the most virulent anti-Mormon sites.
So where is one supposed to go for truth about Mormon history? Go to the original source. All of the original documents and histories are available. That’s the only place you are going to get objective information. If you don’t have time to read through it all, then you are just going to have to get both sides of the issues and try to discern what’s really going on. But be warned, 99% of writings about Mormon history are propaganda, either pro-Mormon or anti-Mormon.
The fact that a news organization like Reuters which is supposed to be reputable bases an important article off complete misrepresentations is evidence that everyone has an agenda. Why shouldn’t the church try to boost their Google page ranking so they get more visitors?
Information Has Always Been There – Reuters frames their article as if the new availability of information causes people to doubt their faith, much like the Catholic Church was in crisis when the printing press was invented. CES Letter likewise acts as if they had no ideas about all of these issues until the internet. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Anti-Mormon literature has always been there. It is the same material that has been around hundreds of years.
The internet makes it easier to access, but the problem is not accessibility. The problem is the internet is saturated with bias. People don’t have enough time to look through thousands of pages of volumes and church history documents, so they turn to biased sources like Wikipedia that omit important information, skew facts, and shed Mormons in a negative light.
Emotional Attacks Are The Problem – Sure, there are some aspects of Mormon church history about which one could easily mock Mormons, like polygamy. But the negative spin that anti-Mormons place on the facts is just a small part of the problem. The listed author of CES Letter actually illustrates with his own life how other pieces of the puzzle come into play. In an interview with anti-Mormon podcast Mormon Stories, he tells an emotional story about his parents’ divorce and the Bishop’s involvement:
“My parents were divorced when I was three or four years old. So, that had a really profound impact on my life and on the life of my brothers and my family. That’s an interesting situation right there. My parents, as they were going through their divorce, it kind of got hairy in the courts, and so somehow, I’m not sure if my dad proposed the idea or the Bishop came to them, but it was proposed that instead of the judge in the court deciding which kid goes with who, we would have the Bishop do it.
Yeah, so it it wasn’t like this Bishop was a judge or a social worker or anything. He was a financial planner, so sounds qualified. But at the time that shows you how strongly my parents believed, maybe this man has inspiration, he would know what God would want for our family. So, from what I understand, the Bishop decided me and my oldest brother would go with my dad and my other brother would go with my mom. That was pretty devastating to my mom.
From what I understand, it created a pretty crazy situation over there… they just couldn’t believe how a Bishop would decide this. A lot of people felt that it should have been the courts.”
This says a lot about why he apostatized, and why he delivers the kind of frame he does in CES Letter, where men in the church victimize women and priesthood leaders make horrible choices. This emotional reality in his life was the origin of his apostasy, it appears.
The listed author of CES Letter goes on to tell about a priesthood blessing that his hearing loss would be restore–a promise which he doesn’t believe came true:
“My dad arranged with our Stake President to meet with the Area Authority at the time, Elder Lance B. Wickman, and we met with him for me to get a hearing blessing. And so, what we wanted to do is, basically, we went to him to see if he could restore my hearing because as a teenager it was a tough situation not being able to hear very well in my circle of friends and school. It was a tough situation. I really believed all the stories I’d read and heard in church about Christ healing the deaf and the lame and the blind, and I really believed in the concept that the church was restored in these latter days and the priesthood was real, and if it worked then why can’t it work now?…
When I went up to him, I shook his hand, and I experienced this really powerful wave of emotion… from then on in my life I identified that as the Spirit… The entire meeting was very spiritual. He gave me a blessing that basically stated that my ears would be unstopped and my hearing would be restored. So, it was pretty bold. My dad was in tears. I was in tears…
I was expecting my hearing issues to be resolved… Well, that week went by, and another week went by, and weeks turned into months, and years, and my hearing just kept getting worse and worse.”
The truly ironic thing is this anti-Mormon Mormon Stories podcast begins with a video about a cochlear implant that “just totally changed my life” by giving part of his hearing back. I guess this miracle of science doesn’t count as a fulfillment of that blessing?
These two events are examples of powerful emotional explosions that direct the LDS faith of a young man, early in his impressionable years, to turn against the Mormon faith. The “cognitive dissonance” as he calls it between powerful emotions and what we want to be know to be true can only be put on the shelf for so long.
The second factor in apostasy is the loss of a spiritual testimony. This happens when a person commits sin or removes themselves from a healthy spiritual environment, often through internet porn or associations with bad friends who bring them down.
The third factor is an intellectual knowledge of the gospel, and this is where anti-Mormon websites like to hit hard. This is where CES Letter devotes the first part of their literature to attack. By spinning, covering up facts, replacing context, and through sophistic rhetoric, they give an emotionally and spiritually weakened Mormon the justification to “free themselves” of Mormonism.
CES Letter Logical Fallacies
|Bandwagon||CES Letter suggests it is right to consider leaving the church because “droves” of people are doing it, which Elder Jensen didn’t even admit to; he only said there is widespread apostasy.|
|Non Sequiter||Elder Jensen said the low Google rank of pro-church websites is leading people to get church information from anti-Mormon sites which frame it in a negative way. CES Letter assumes from this, “church history” is making them leave, rather than how it is framed. The truth is nobody is leaving due to access to church history, as it has always been accessible.|
|Red Herring||Does the availability and popularity of a gospel’s history make it true or untrue?|
Anti-Mormons Rule The Internet – This is a sneaky way for CES Letter to start out their literature, to take a quote about SEO strategies out of context and suggest church history is being covered up. This directs CES Letter in the spotlight like some kind of hero for bringing hidden truth to light.
I find it hard to believe that any devout Mormon would be shocked that some people would leave the church “over history.” Polygamy? Ever heard of it? We all know there is controversial history. Well, it is portrayed as controversial by the mainstream media, anyway. The sad truth is anti-Mormons rule the internet. You don’t see any normal true-believing Mormon that make up the majority of congregations, because fake Mormons rule the online “Mormon” scene and they bully true believers off. I have seen a dozen Mormon websites close down because socially Leftist “Mormons” threaten and harass them. Right now, there is no safe space on the internet for devout Mormons.
Actually, anti-Mormons were some of the original pioneers of the popular internet. Back when Yahoo was a new thing and people talked about “surfing the web,” anti-Mormons were setting up their shop with extensive literature. They spread the same old talking points, wrapped in an impressive new package, and I have to admit, their websites were very well made. Some of the best.
Discussing In Bad Faith – CES Letter says they stumbled across this quote as “I was reading the new online.” Just happened upon it? But then in the anti-Mormon podcast, he admits that that one of the first websites he looked for Mormon information was Mormon Think. Is it just coincidence that this quote and the same argument against the church appears on Mormon Think? I’m wondering whether CES Letter is being honest about how they came across information that made them doubt their testimony, and whether they are being honest about the rest of their story?
Why can’t they just be straightforward? If you looked for an anti-Mormon website one day and became convinced by their arguments, just say so. Why this narrative about stumbling across dubious church history? Because, again, this is all about portraying himeslf as the underdog hero who fights for truth. Followers of Satan cover up their true history, their true intentions, and their true actions in order to portray a positive image to their audience.