In our role of challenging the Mormon church to do/be better, and in supporting transitioning Mormons, Mormon Stories and the OSF regularly experience two types of detractors:
- Believing Mormons and apologists who attack us because we sometimes criticize the church. The Church of Scientology refers to this approach of attacking critics as being “Fair Gamed.”
- And more commonly, other Ex-Mormons (often former friends or former employees) who attack us for whatever reason. Sometimes it’s personality differences. Sometimes it’s jealousy. Sometimes there is a need to terminate our working relationship with them for whatever reasons, and they are upset that things had to end. Sometimes it’s a way for them to get cheap attention once they start slipping into irrelevance and/or desire to build up their own brand. Sometimes they try to blackmail us for $$$ with threats of false allegations. Sometimes we have literally no clue.
Occasionally but reliably over the years (and oddly usually around the holidays), a coordinated group of attackers will try to damage our reputation on the Internet with lies and misinformation. It’s a somewhat sinister approach, really, since even if the multiple allegations prove to be individually baseless, a general sense of “where there’s smoke there must be fire” tends to accumulate for some/many.
But such is the Internet world in which we choose to engage. We choose to be in this space, so we can’t really expect much sympathy.
John, in particular, has been falsely accused of endless things, including harming women and children. breaking up families, intentionally monetizing people’s suffering, and not being financially transparent with the podcast.
NONE of these accusations are true. To date (February 2023), John has never harassed, assaulted, or abused a co-worker. Ever. Margi/John and the OSF are financially stable (gratefully) – though we are not wealthy. The OSF has ALWAYS been financially transparent (etc., etc.).
Being “Fair Gamed” or attacked with false allegations sucks, but we have come to accept this reality as part of the job. Critics of high demand religions are regularly smeared – both by the religiously devout, and by fellow ex-religionists. Just ask Leah Remini and Mike Rinder (ex-Scientologists). There’s literally no way to stop it.
We used to feel the urgency to respond publicly to the smears. Trust is an important component to what we do — but such responses are usually unwise, since public responses then help to advertise the smears, which literally never stop. If we were to respond to every smear it would become a full time job, it would drain us of all our emotional energy, and we would never create anything meaningful. Responses also reward those who lie/smear with the attention they crave. And of course, if/when anything becomes a legal matter (which also occasionally happens, especially with former employees), we are forbidden by attorneys (as are all employers) from discussing former employee details until the matter is resolved in court. In these scenarios, silence is brutal for us, because in every case the facts are vindicating, but we can’t share the evidence until the matters are fully resolved. Note: In cases like this we are forced to rely on our supporters’ love of evidence, and skepticism towards baseless truth claims. We never expect anyone to blindly believe our account of things, but we do hope that people will reserve judgment until evidence is provided.
Sometimes this scenario makes us feel briefly discouraged and powerless, but we’re not powerless. There are at least four things we CAN do in response to constant smears:
- We can refuse to give the misinformation oxygen or visibility on our platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, my blog).
- We can block the smearing critics on social media, which we try to do regularly.
- We can continue showing up – producing quality content that helps our viewers and listeners.
- In the case of legal matters, we can hire an attorney, fight the false allegations with evidence/the truth, and release the evidence once attorneys give us the OK.
As flawed humans, we always welcome sincere criticisms, especially regarding the podcast or our YouTube channels. We sincerely love, love, love constructive feedback intended to help us be more effective at our objectives.
If someone has concerns about the non-profit, and if they are donors or sincere prospective donors, they are welcome to email John (email@example.com) or our amazing board (firstname.lastname@example.org). To date, John and Margi enjoy the full support of the OSF Board.
Finally, if someone wants to use our platform to spread baseless misinformation or even lies about me or us, they are not welcome in our world. We will continue to avoid responding to the misinformation, to avoid giving the critics what they most crave: more attention. They will have to find a more constructive way to get attention. We suggest they consider finding a way to do good in the world.
If you encounter damaging allegations on the Internet and consider yourself a friend to us and/or the podcast, please screen capture or audio/video record the comments and share with us, as we might be able to use the evidence as part of a defamation lawsuit.
If you have questions for me or the OSF Board about anything (including allegations of misbehavior), feel free to message me or the OSF Board directly. We will respond when we can, but please remember, there’s no way to prove a baseless lie false. That’s why baseless lies are so effective.
In fact, that’s how many religions get their start — with baseless, yet undisprovable lies. That’s why we value evidence.
Sincere love and gratitude to you all.
John & Margi Dehlin & the OSF Board
P.S. For a fair and thorough treatment of the “Rosebud” allegations, see here.