The Harmful Effects of Mormon Apologetics

John Dehlin 18 Comments

I am putting together a list of the harmful and/or dishonest tactics employed by Mormon apologists – tactics that ultimately harm questioning Mormons who are earnestly seeking truth in order to make important decisions about what to do with their lives. Can you please help me complete the list?

  1. Explicit, overt bias: Mormon apologists explicitly, overtly start with the premise that the LDS church is true, and thus naturally ignore, deny, or confuse credible evidence against the church, while cherry-picking evidences for the church. For questioning Mormons seeking honest, objective answers in order to make real decisions about their lives, the a priori position that “the church is true, regardless of the facts,” makes Mormon apologists excessively biased sources to consult.  This qualifies as an obvious, classic logical fallacy known as begging the question which “…occurs when an argument’s premises assume the truth of the conclusion, instead of supporting it. It is a type of circular reasoning: an argument that requires that the desired conclusion be true. This often occurs in an indirect way such that the fallacy’s presence is hidden, or at least not easily apparent.”
  2. Insularity: Mormon apologists generally avoid direct dialogue with thoughtful, earnest critics.  Instead, they tend to only interact (at least in public) with people who agree with their premises.  Mormon apologists tend to avoid any forum for discussion where they have to face critics of the church, or direct criticism of their techniques or arguments. This seems both cowardly and counterproductive for those seeking truth.
  3. Ad hominem attacks: Mormon apologists often employ ad hominem tactics to smear the reputation of the church’s critics, as a way to undermine or avoid the arguments made by critics. This tactic is mean-spirited, un-Christlike, harmful, and is counterproductive to helping people with sincere questions find credible answers. Daniel Peterson, Greg Smith, and Stephen Smoot are notable examples of this tactic.
  4. Misusing science/scholarship: Mormon apologetic organizations (like the Maxwell Institute) are often led by folks with Ph.D.’s from reputable universities, and operate under the guise of credible “scholarship.” However, much of the writings produced by these apologetic “scholars” do not actually employ the scientific/peer review process, and instead present shoddy, muddled, confusing, distorted, or ridiculous arguments that often run counter to the prevailing wisdom of the scientific community — thus creating the “appearance” of scholarship, while in fact, betraying many of the basic fundamentals of the scientific/academic community. In this sense, they are betraying both science/the academic community AND the earnest learner, simultaneously. Hugh Nibley, John Gee, Kerry Muhlestein, and John Sorsensen are three of the most notable and egregious examples of this point.  Most would be/are considered shoddy scholars, or even “laughing stocks” within their respective academic fields (e.g., Nibley, Gee, Muhlestein, John Sorenson), but carry undeserved respect within the believing Mormon community as “scholars.”
  5. Financial/social incentives: Historically, the most notable Mormon apologists have usually received either significant monetary compensation or social status from their associations with the church, thus providing them with financial or social incentives to mislead earnest seekers. Folks like Hugh Nibley, Daniel Peterson, John Gee, Terryl Givens, Richard Bushman, Patrick Mason, Spencer Fluhman, etc., all fall under this category.  Their respective positions are absolutely dependent on the power and financial support of the Mormon church and its wealthy elite, and they all derive significant financial and/or social benefit from holding down a church-affirming position.
  6. Blaming the victim, not church leadership: Mormon apologists too often blame those who have sincere doubts as being responsible for their own predicament, while never publicly blaming the church or its leaders as the ultimate source of the problems.
  7. Duplicity: Mormon apologists often withhold their harshest criticisms of the church and its leaders from their public writings and speeches, out of a desire to maintain favor or social capital with said church leaders. This is duplicitous at its core.  As an example, both Richard Bushman and Terryl Givens have been noted as being willing to share harsh criticisms privately that they have been unwilling to share publicly.
  8. Creating a church within a church: Mormon apologists often advocate for doctrine, theology, and history that are completely out of step from the explicit teachings of the prevailing church leadership. In this way, they create a “church within a church” that is neither endorsed nor supported by church leadership. This becomes confusing and sometimes harmful for those who try to remain in the church.
  9. Complicity in the harm: By defending and advocating devotion to the LDS church – Mormon apologists become complicit in the harm that church inflicts upon individuals, families, and society as a whole. The includes complicity in all of the ways that the LDS church causes harm to individuals, families, and society, including the wasting of time and money, individual depression and anxiety, family strife and division, divorce, and suicide….along with the perpetuation of beliefs and behaviors that are inherently racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, anti-science, and anti-intellectual
  10. Gaslighting: The net effect of Mormon apologetics is (in some cases intentionally, and in other cases unintentionally) to gaslight earnest, questioning Mormons.  The term gaslighting entails the following: “Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes including low self-esteem. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and misinformation, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs. Instances can range from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents occurred, to belittling the victim’s emotions and feelings, to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.”

What else am I missing? Please share!!!!

NOTE: This post is not meant to attack Mormon apologists as people.  I am aware that all of these Mormon apologists are generally beloved.  I, myself, believe that the people mentioned above are thoughtful, sincere, kind humans.  I just happen to believe that they are causing more harm than they are doing good, and I want to express why I feel this way.  Finally, it is super important to note that not all Mormon apologists are the same, and that some Mormon apologists (e.g., Nibley, Peterson, Gee, Smoot) are much more guilty of the aforementioned offenses more than are others (e.g., Mason, Bushman).

Comments 18

  1. This is similar to several items on the list, but impugning the motives of questioners is something that probably belongs somewhere. There’s some overlap with blaming the victim, gaslighting and ad hominem attacks, but I think it is a bit different from these in the assumption that the motive of asking any question is not actually to get an answer, but to make the church look bad.

  2. A close sousing of numbers 3 and 4 is the attainment of degrees and other distinctions (e.g. John Gee becoming editor of a peer reviewed journal) to give the appologist the trappings of qualification, only to spurn the principles that got them there afterwards (e.g. John Gee dissing on and failing to follow peer review as editor of the journal). This leads members of the Church astray, thinking that the apologist has the same scruples that usually accompany their degree/position/attainments. But in reality, there is a wolf in lambs clothing, a pseudo-scholar charlatan masquerading as a qualified know it all.

  3. Well, if you are part of the problem, you are the problem. And these people know they are “gaslighting”, spinning, and withholding truth details that if known would call into serious question their findings, positions, and motives. I suppose that there are some harmed by these tactics, especially those that have a particular fondness for finding truth. But the vast number of members of this church really wilfully intend to remain ignorant and thus safely cocooned in their smug certainty. When someone like you pricks at the cocoon, I am sure it comes as no surprise that they must find ways to discredit you. Other than this personal reflection, I think you have identified the tactics, duplicity, and disingenuousness of Mormon apologists quite completely.

  4. COMPLEXITY!!!!
    I’ve seen so many members turn to FAIR and have no idea what the hell is being argued, or can’t follow what they are saying, so they just throw their hands up and keep believing like a good child. Every explanation is so lawyeresque, its like a government agency under investigation turning in 93,000 pages of documentation, to bury the one damning page, in hopes that the oversight committee tires and gives up. We need to call them out on it. The Gospel is simple right?

  5. As regards Mormon apologetics, these are a couple of quotes from the “Lord’s Special Witnesses”, Neal A. Maxwell and Dallin Oakes from the FairMormon site:

    “Indeed, the great risk which apologetics seeks to counter is that those unfamiliar with anti-Mormon arguments will assume that there are no good answers to the critics. Elder Neal A. Maxwell warned of the consequences of such a situation:

    Let us be articulate for while our defense of the kingdom may not stir all hearers, the absence of thoughtful response may cause fledglings among the faithful to falter. What we assert may not be accepted, but unasserted convictions soon become deserted convictions. [2]

    Since you can’t “prove” religion, is apologetics a waste of time?
    Dallin H. Oaks spoke to this concern:

    The lack of decisive scientific proofs of scriptural truths does not preclude gospel defenders from counterarguments of that nature. When opponents attack the Church or its doctrines with so-called proofs, loyal defenders will counter with material of a comparable nature to defend. [3]

    And, Neal A. Maxwell noted that God would provide fascinating additions to our understanding:

    There will be a convergence of discoveries (never enough, mind you, to remove the need for faith) to make plain and plausible what the modern prophets have been saying all along…[I] do not expect incontrovertible proof to come in this way…, but neither will the Church be outdone by hostile or pseudo-scholars. [4]”

    So, I think that it should also be emphasized that all the apologetic games that you have enumerated here were given an Apostolic blessing time and time again by the likes of Maxwell and Oaks. Today, it’s not as if “The Brethren” are all sitting above-the-fray on Mt. Olympus, rather I think that they are more like besieged generals hiding in their bunkers, poring over their maps in the desperate hope that armies of lap-dog apologists will provide at least a patina of legitimacy to their non-existent authority.

  6. Most of them are actually progressive Mormons ( the church within a church – a progressive cadre of so-called scholars within a wider conservative church). That does create confusion. I don’t know how they walk that line. At least the all in TBMs are more honest and sincere, as are those who are fully out. But you just can’t be in and out. Hence, the apologists are the worst. Look at their social media profiles, posts, articles, podcasts etc. Most of them believe in an old earth, evolution, a mythical Adam, a nuanced approach to the BOM as inspired midrash, same sex marriage, gender equalization, lgbt normalization, female priesthood ordination etc. Not casting any judgment on these things. That’s not the issue here. But it’s confusing to hear the The Maxwell Institute say one thing, and the Church the opposite. This idea – of the intellectual church within the church – is worth exploring. The pandemic, racism, riots etc is bringing this division to the fore.

  7. Church’s persecution complex: the Church must be true because we are always being persecuted for our beliefs. Satan is working so hard to stop Church growth and it’s members from progressing their quest for eternal life. I was taught on my mission that we get rejected and ridiculed at the doorstep because we carry the truth. I always heard “the Church is so true” when the Church and it’s members have overcome an obstacle that was created by some form of persecution. The Church loves being the victim so it can tell stories of resilience in an attempt to prove that this is the true church.

    1. Hi in Australia I have recently filed a lawsuit against the LDS church for vilification and to ban the racist book of Mormon in Australia. For twenty-five years, I have been tormented with shame and emotional distress because I am constantly reminded that my children are “cursed and inferior because their mother has dark skin”. Then one day the mental pain had finally taken its toll. I said to my wife I have had enough of this racial abuse causing my depression. I am going to confront the issue and make a formal complaint. I just could not keep my silence any longer and let my mental health be affected by this humiliating discriminative abuse that was demoralizing the lives of my family and other families like mine.
      I no longer lived under the fear of reprisal from those I thought were authorized to curse my children with a racist “MARK”, because I had come to the realization that this painful reality was a horrendous lie and I was not going to let it control my family anymore. I finally received the courage to step out and face this hideous crime to humanity. I decided to do something about it! “Not only for the emotional welfare of my family” but also for all those who are racially condemned and suffering with this same horrific abuse of discrimination joined to this white supremacist organisation.
      There are over six million women and children around the world forced to live with this racist demeaning curse. Our posterity was judged and sentenced by the racist doctrine taught from the book of the white supremacist cult. We are cast into the lowest and least privileged social stratum by the patriarchs of the racist cult because they labelled us MARKED with all those condemned with the curse of “ugly, black, skin of Cain”.
      I am labelled as dissenter and condemned because the racist cult said I mixed my “so called pure white holier than thou seed” with a woman cursed with the MARK of “LOATHSOME UGLY BLACK” skin. A racist curse derived from a book that places inhumane malediction onto our families in the racist sect solely because we are identified as “MARKED”. It is hard to believe that there exists in the 21st century an organisation that curses those within their membership with the most degrading and humiliating racist vilification because of the colour of their skin. I am ashamed to say I was a member of such a repulsive racist organisation that brainwashed and indoctrinated me to believe the self-righteous lie. Since I was a child, I was taught that the colour of my skin determines whether I am blessed or cursed and whether my children will be blessed and receive the privileges only given to people with white skin. I broke the white privilege covenant when I fell in love with a lady with the curse of dark skin. I was guilty of mixing my seed with an inferior race and now I am deemed unworthy to hold the honour with the white blessed elite of God. It was plainly taught in the book of the racist organization that I have cursed my children for the sin of marrying a lady with dark skin. I am constantly reminded of the doctrine from the book which officially labels me as a black sheep dissenter that has cursed my children. According to the book I have committed the ultimate sin of mixing my seed with a person “MARKED” with the curse of black skin. The book I am referring to is the Book of Mormon and the emotional trauma caused by the guilt I have suffered for years because I mixed my seed with a dark skin woman. In the Mormon Church, or as it is also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, there is an official three-tier class system of people divided by race and colour of skin.
      Every member of the Mormon Church is categorized into one of the three classes according to the colour of their skin and origin. The Mormon church uses their patriarchs in the selection process to decide the fate of each member. The job of the Mormon patriarchs is to determine what level of class we must conform to in the racist Mormon three-tier system. The Mormon three-tier system has three identities: the blessed tribe of Ephraim, the second-class tribe of Manasseh and the cursed lineage of Cain. Each member of the church is appointed one of those categories. I call it the Mormon racist branding system because each person is racially graded into three races, such as pedigrees, mongrels or just complete disgusting filthy ugly mutts. The role of the Mormon patriarchs is to nominate and discriminate against each member of the church with a racist identity given in the patriarchal blessing. For example: All members of the Mormon church must be put into a category through a patriarchal selection process. Each Mormon is obligated once they have reached the age of consent beginning at the age of 18 years old, or whenever they have reached the level of maturity and found worthy to receive the Mormon patriarchal blessing. Then the Mormon bishop will make an official appointment with the Mormon patriarch and send the Mormon member to receive his or her race identity. Once the person has been prepared to visit the office of the Mormon patriarch, he will then decide what race that person is eligible to be appointed to. This event is once in a lifetime and cannot be changed so the anticipation of the person receiving the new race identity from the patriarchal blessing is at times extremely anxious. Our eternal fate is in the hands of the patriarch he will decide whether we will join the white elite tribe of Ephraim in the Celestial kingdom or whether they will be cursed with the lower degree of glory being cast into the cursed tribe like Manasseh or Cain for all eternity. When a Mormon seeks his or her race identity the person unknowingly was already racially categorized when the Mormon Bishop schedules the appointment with the patriarch. Most Mormons with British descendants or Northern European descendants such as German, Scandinavian, Swiss, Dutch or Swedish will most certainly be guaranteed to be appointed the supreme chosen race called the tribe of Ephraim, but if a person has red, brown, or yellow skin from any of the places such as Mexico, Central America or South America or from Asia, then there is an 95% chance the person will be deemed an inferior race and be identified with the appointed inferior tribe of Manasseh. If the person is African descent or black American then this person will be identified with the filthy, ugly, loathsome race called the lineage of Cain, because his or her skin colour is the ugly filthy cursed “MARK” of Cain. Before the year 1978 this meant people with black skin could not receive any callings or be married in a Mormon temple. In the year 1978 the Mormon church was forced by the NAACP to accept people with black skin including their children to participate in the LDS Troop groups. The Mormons lifted the restrictions and permitted black coloured skin people to marry in the Mormon temple. The Civil Rights Movement (called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) filed a lawsuit against the Mormon church and led anti-discrimination marches against the Mormon leadership at the church headquarters of Salt Lake City Utah. The Mormon church was threatened to lose their tax exemption number status as a non-profit organization if they still refused the blacks from entering and marrying in the Mormon temple. The Mormon leadership was forced to accept people of black skin to marry in the Mormon temple and receive some Mormon blessings. The Mormon church decided to change the policy for patriarchal blessings and created another way to discriminate black skin people in a way that was more subtle and ambiguous. The Mormon patriarch could now give a conditional patriarchal blessing with an inferior race by using the key word “adoption”.
      This meant that a black skin coloured person could receive a patriarchal blessing but only by “adoption” into a tribe of Israel. The word “adoption” is an ambiguous term used like the aboriginal placement program when the Mormon church kidnapped little indigenous children and adopted them until they were eighteen and then sent them back to their biological parents. Most of those aboriginal children were traumatized for life and many were suicidal or became alcoholics. The subtle ambiguous word “ADOPTION” really means discrimination because the black coloured skin person is still cursed with ugly filthy MARKED black skin being not a descendant of Israel. The book of Mormon clearly says black skin is the inferior cursed race lineage inherited from Ham, but using the word “adoption” the Mormon church has made “allowances” for lifting some of the restrictions so black people could obtain some Mormon blessings. However, the stigma associated with the concept of “adoption” still means the Mormon church holds to the racist identity that black people are different and inferior. This is obviously the case when it comes to giving callings to an African American or Australian Aboriginal person. Those born with black skin are limited to only receiving inferior callings in the Mormon church. It is still prohibited for a black person to be given a high calling in the Mormon Presidency of the Seventy, because only white skin people can fill these offices of the white elite seven leaders of the quorum of seventies. It is also prohibited for a black person to be called as a member of the Mormon quorum of twelve apostles because these callings are allocated to privileged white men only. Also, it is prohibited for a black person to be called into the Mormon Presiding bishopric because these three callings are reserved solely for the VIP white skin coloured general authorities of the church. These are the three degrees of white Mormon supremacy glory and are structured in a pyramid system of only white men.
      People with brown or black skin will always be emotionally shunned by the discrimination in the Mormon church and those who marry people with brown and black skin will feel they have fallen from grace losing the blessings associated with white posterity because the book of Mormon tells us so. It is a perpetual emotional trauma of living with the abusive idea that my children will never be good enough, that they will always be second rate inferior members compared to the pure white Ephraimites Mormons. At times I felt disillusioned with life as I would come to grips with the reality of this demoralizing and constantly distressing pain, forced to believe that my children are cursed according to the condemning racist doctrine of the Book of Mormon. What father or mother volunteers to accept that their sons and daughters are filthy, loathsome, ugly and cursed because we fell in love with a person born into a different coloured race? Only people intimidated with the brainwashing abuse of the Mormon white supremacists could accept the emotionally demoralizing segregation that the racist Book of Mormon commands to do to those with the children of a mixed race. The Book of Mormon clearly states that God curses people with “ugly (LOATHSOME) filthy black skin, so that God’s beautiful pure white and (DELIGHTSOME) skin race are not attracted (ENTICING) to the appearance of the black race. God curses people with black skin to prevent white people from intermarriage and mixing their pure holy clean blessed white seed with the ugly filthy loathsome black seed. These evil racist doctrines are found in the Book of Mormon 2 Nephi chapter 5 verses 21 to 25 and in Alma chapter 3 verse 6.
      Black skin is labelled as FILTHY and LOATHSOME
      White skin is labelled as PURE and DELIGHSOME
      Black skin is a curse from God
      White skin is a blessing from God
      Black skin is a symbol of laziness, idle, sneaky, full of mischief
      White skin is a symbol of industrious, working with their own hands
      Black skin is identified as ugly so not to be enticing to pure white skin
      White skin is identified as beautiful and clean
      The two main characteristics categorized between the black skin and white skin according to the book of Mormon are:
      Black people are cursed to be lazy, filthy, that hunt for kangaroos and other wild animals for food.
      White people are blessed to be “industrious builders” of great towers and skilled in all manner of metal work such as gold silver and iron ore.
      Basically, black people are classified as a burden to the white system and are forced to become civilized and get a job in a factory or farm so they will not live off welfare but “work with their own hands”. These evil doctrines are found in various parts of Mormon Satanic verses such as 2 Nephi 5: 22 & 24 also in 2 Nephi 5:17, Jacob 3:5, 2 Nephi 5:15, Jacob 3: 8-9, Alma 3:6, 2 Nephi 30:6, Alma 3: 9&14,1 Nephi 13:15, 1 Nephi 12:23, 3 Nephi 2: 14-16, Mormon 5:15, Moses 7:8, Abraham 1:27, Moses 7:12 & 22. References from this link below @ This is a video of me officially filing a lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints in Australia https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1439&v=IS3CKz6QDmY&feature=emb_logo

  8. Have you noticed how the Church has dropped pictures and stories of the curse of the Lamanites, which were standard until quite recently.

    No repudiation of the doctrine, just quietly dropped.

    I still have my Book of Mormon stories, with the pictures of the Lamanites turning brown and unattractive.

    But the story of the Book of Mormon makes no sense without the racial slur. Everything is PR with Nelson..he makes my skin creep, along with his wife cuddling up to him.

    Best wishes to you and your family

    Robert Williams from Wales, United Kingdom.

    One day I want to give you the story of Bishop Duane Garrison Hunt, a former Catholic Bishop of Salt lake, who wrote defensive works against a less subtle Mormon Church.

    1. According to Google, Bishop Hunt, a convert to Catholicism, had once also been a professor of public speaking at the U. and he coached students in debate there as well. Thus I bet the Right Reverend Hunt’s critiques of Latter-day Saints’ teachings & mores might be well reasoned and argued!

    2. Other doctrines which have quietly slipped from any mention in General Conference the last 20+ years: Noah and the ark and the tower of babel. Noah and his flood in particular is quite problematic, but rather than refuting it they simply stop talking about it. Recently they have gone so far as to say that if they don’t talk about something regularly that it isn’t doctrine. Problem. solved.

  9. A modest donor to M. Stories here, I absolutely love and adore John and appreciate his labors and the great fruits of his labors in investigating truths and providing a culture’s outcasts emotional support . That said, I think that just as it’s the FORMER smokers who are most strident against those who advocate for and/or appease individuals’ smoking, John’s status as himself at least a TYPE of former Mormon apologist spurs him to not un-great heights of bluster in his crusades against the all the evils that have been perpetrated by Mormon apologists in general. I speculate that there might be a silver lining here, though, also: In that John thereby can at least UNDERSTAND what being in the shoes of those whose practices he critiques. …

  10. John, the apologists at FairMormon in responding to my online comments in my Letter to an Apostle (https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Online_documents/A_Letter_to_an_Apostle) regarding the dearth of any archaeological or anthropological evidence accuse me of providing propaganda or spin. They state:

    “Simply repeating assertions by ex-Mormons and critics of the Church that there is no evidence of the Book of Mormon does not make their assertions true. Those that look for such evidence can find it.”

    I agree, that repeating the problem with the lack of any archeological evidence does not make it true, but neither does it make it false.

    FairMormon may be tired of hearing it; nevertheless, it remains an important question needing to be addressed which, to date, it has not.

    And here we go again, FairMormon says, “Those that look for such evidence can find it.”

    Well I have been looking as have many others in and out of the church but we can’t find it.

    Please FairMormon, unless this is some ecclesiastical scavenger hunt, show us where we can find the ‘evidence’ of which you speak!

    I would submit that FairMormon’s failure to provide any affirmative evidence, must lead any reasonable person to conclude that they have none.

    This is simply dishonest.

    As well, I do not see how questioning why, during the past six hundred years, we have not found any archaeological, anthropological or linguistic evidence to support the BOM narrative can be characterized as ‘propaganda or spin.’ Nor is it accurate to characterize non-Mormon archaeologists, anthropologists and historians who have no skin in the game as, “critics of the church.”

    In my Letter to an Apostle, I presented many comments from noted experts – Mormon and non-Mormon alike to substantiate my assertions.

    I would submit that rather than throwing out assertions like, “there is much evidence,” FairMormon if they were honest would just present that evidence so we can test it.

    FairMormon’s nameless apologists also go on to suggest that it is the questioner’s lack of knowledge about a very specialized academic area that is the problem. They imply that if you are not an archaeologist, you are likely too ignorant to grasp the sublime subtleties of that science. .

    And finally, in a shocking display of their ignorance of logic and philosophy, FairMormon moves next to that old chestnut, “The absence of evidence does not equal evidence of absence.”.

    I have heard many wide-eyed Latter-day Saint missionaries repeat this.

    However, while cute, this silly little maxim negates the importance of evidence with a negative value. A null result is equivalent to evidence of absence and can be used to deduce or infer the non-existence or non-presence of something.

    If, for example, a physician during exploratory surgery does not find a malignant tumor or any malignant cells within a patient, this represents a null result (finding nothing) and is evidence of the absence of cancer, even though the surgeon did not detect anything per se. Such inductive reasoning is essential in the world of science and to a thinking person’s understanding of reality. But not to the apologists at FairMormon.

    Unsubstantiated claims and statements such as, “Newer archaeological finds are generally consistent with the Book of Mormon record even if we are unable (as yet) to know the exact location of Book of Mormon cities,” are meaningless absent examples of such.

    Where are these, “Newer archaeological finds?” It is all a mist, a vapor. There is no substance to FairMormon’s statements.

    Come on, FairMormon; in my Letter to an Apostle I have shown you mine, now show me yours!

    FairMormon also states:

    “Why would a non-Mormon archaeologist, anthropologist or linguist have any interest in searching for any evidence proving the Book of Mormon? It should be obvious that any archaeologist, anthropologist or linguist interested in the subject would themselves be Mormon.”

    I am sorry, but that is an incredibly stupid thing to say.

    By FairMormon’s reasoning then ‘it should be obvious‘ that any historian interested in the Third Reich must be a Nazi or anyone studying serial killers would themselves be one. Which FairMormon scribbler penned that piece of brilliant apologetics? I’m sorry, I am trying not to be snarky, but I don’t suffer fools gladly and statements like this was made by a fool. No wonder FairMormon’s apologists never put their name on their writings.

    Archaeologists, anthropologists or linguists need not be searching for evidence proving or disproving the Book of Mormon’s authenticity. The fact is that their extensive research has not discovered any evidence consistent with, or even in a tangential way supportive of, the Book of Mormon narrative.

    Agreed, most non-Mormon archaeologists, anthropologists, and linguists likely haven’t given much thought to the Book of Mormon or its claims because it is irrelevant to their real and serious work. Nevertheless, as my research has shown, those who have been asked if they have come across anything even remotely supportive or consistent with it, have responded that they have not.

    FairMormon apologists just don’t seem to get it. The scholars I reference have no skin in the game, they don’t have any theological axe to grind. Their agenda is neither to defend nor to attack the Book of Mormon. They are simply looking at data, and these data just do not fit with Smith’s Book of Mormon tale.

    I believe that anyone with a head on their shoulders can see a contrast between the likes of Gee or Muhlstein or the the other ‘archaeologists’ down at BYU, trying to weave gold out of straw and the late Dr. Michael Coe, Yale University archaeologist and a real scholar who you interviewed John.

    Dr. Coe, an expert on Mesoamerica, said, “The bare facts of the matter are that nothing, absolutely nothing, has even shown up in any New World excavation which would suggest to a dispassionate observer that the Book of Mormon, as claimed by Joseph Smith, is a historical document relating to the history of early migrants to our hemisphere.”

    I can’t accept that the boys at FairMormon really believe the BS they are spewing, if they do that is really frightening.

  11. In order for Joseph Smith restoration to roll forward one key element of any divine tale must always be unavailable. If it is found then the LIE is made know. For the gold plates to remain a divine translation, the plates can never be available for comparison to the translation. For the Book of Abraham, the papyri could not be available with the “translation” in an age when Egyptian can be translated. So, when the papyri are found a missing element (missing scroll theory) is introduced by apologist in order for the “Truth” to have continued life. For the church to be perceived as a humble and “not a wealthy church” as declared by Gordon B Hinkley, knowledge of the $125 billion fund must not be discovered.

    In the latter days it seems that the most important office in the priesthood is apologist (sad that Joseph failed to name it as such). They are advisor to and more potent than prophets, seers and revelators.

  12. Secrecy! I think that this is one of the most harmful apologetic techniques, and we have justified it to each other using the analogy of “Milk before Meat.”

    There are many examples. I did not hear about the penalty oaths in the temple until after my mission. Articles on Wikipedia about Book of Mormon Topics (I later verified with original sources) gave me a better understanding of the basic issues than decades of church lessons, four BYU religion classes, and LDS publications and books. We have secrecy with LDS finances, Church involvement in politics, and the BYU administration.

    The Church also uses secrecy in its chastity interrogations of teenagers. Bishops used to ask and probably still do ask graphic questions, but this practice was hidden by interviewing the teenagers alone, restricting church handbooks and other instructions to leaders only, and ignoring activists (like Sam Young) who brought up problems. This last tactic kept the public’s attention on the problem to a minimum, and it proved to be an effective PR strategy.

    Apologists engage in this tactic by writing a lot so that if they have to admit to something that is problematic, it is buried in a jumbly mess (also described by Jake’s comment above). Then if they are called out on being secretive, they can point to these admissions, making it seem like they and the Church were trying to educate the membership all along. Church leaders and teachers engage in secrecy by following the advice in “The Mantle is Far, Far Greater than the Intellect” that some things that are true are not very useful. The Church makes its secrecy less obvious by calling its secrets “sacred” rather than secret.

    Of course, it is difficult to admit to problems with our own views, organizations, or history. However, we can learn what not to do from the Church’s bad example and try to be accurate, even when the facts are not what we would wish them to be.

  13. Interesting…”Folks like Hugh Nibley, Daniel Peterson, John Gee, Terryl Givens, Richard Bushman, Patrick Mason, Spencer Fluhman, etc., all fall under this category. Their respective positions are absolutely dependent on the power and financial support of the Mormon church and its wealthy elite, and they all derive significant financial and/or social benefit from holding down a church-affirming position.”

    Are you not compensated based on your ideas and thoughts on Mormonism? I mean, this mormon stories is a mission, yes but you also are raising money to fund it and support your lifestyle (assuming). So inst your respective positions dependent on the power and financial support of post/ex/former Mormons?

  14. Teryl Givens completely air brushes racial references in his book on the very short series…the Book of Mormon ..a very short introduction. (Oxford university Press).

    He purposely leaves out the Lamanite curse and mentions of the superiority of white skin.

    Book of Mormon stories(Deseret) for children has also dropped the racial curse.

    Generations of children were abused by books like this….and it affects your attitude to people of colour even in later life.

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