My response to FARMS – the Mormon apologetic organization
In the FARMS Review of Books Vol. 9, no. 1 (1997) pp. 161-74, Gregory H. Taggart of FARMS made reference to my site. I’d like to respond to the review of not only what he said about this internet site in particular, but also his comments regarding the internet and the free exchange of information.
In his first paragraph we read, “… any … html-literate with time on his hands and a bone to pick with the Latter-day Saint Church can set up shop right across the superhighway from the Church Office Building. Sadly, there is no way to eradicate this blight on the highway, so you are going to have to deal with it or learn to ignore it. If you can disregard the bad, there are some wonderful resources on-line, from doctrinal to practical, from inspiring to illuminating.”
I’m not sure if this type of attitude is held by all of the FARMS people (and perhaps even some of their readers), but since FARMS is ultimately responsible for its own publications, it is probably safe to say that FARMS is not in favor of freedom of information. FARMS would apparently seek to eradicate any information that they do not agree with (regardless of how true or helpful it may be) if they had the power to do so. This may not come as much of a surprise to those who are well versed in Mormon (or Christian) history. The Christian suppression and destruction of documents is well documented so I won’t go into that here. Similar Mormon actions aren’t as well known although there are several instances–a few of which I will mention.
In June of 1844, a member of (or members of) Joseph Smith’s secret “Council of 50” broke their oaths punishable by death and informed William Law (who was a member of the First Presidency until finding out about Joseph Smith’s covert practice of polygamy–including the solicitation of the wives of married men) that Joseph Smith was setting up a monarchy with himself already anointed as King. (See Quinn’s Mormon Hierarchy for more on this and the extensive documentation which supports it). Law decided to set up a newspaper to expose Smith’s treasonable act as well as the secret illegal polygamy he was practicing in private but denying in public. The printing press of the Nauvoo Expositor (as the paper was called) was destroyed under Smith’s orders after only one issue. This action ultimately led to the unjustified murders of Joseph and Hyrum Smith.
A couple of other examples of suppression and destruction by Mormon leaders are the 7 volume History of the Church (which changed hundreds of facts and omitted many that didn’t put the church in a favorable light) and a biography written on Joseph Smith by his mother which Brigham Young ordered the destruction of.
Getting back to the FARMS article, I wonder if some of the FARMS people like Brother Taggart would continue to favor such actions if they could get away with it. A statement like, “Sadly, there is no way to eradicate this blight on the highway” indicates that they probably would. I should also state here that unlike FARMS, I welcome the FARMS information to the internet. I hope that all of their publications will soon be online so that everyone will have access to them free of charge and in an easily searchable format.
In Brother Taggart’s fifth paragraph, after warning FARMS readers of “anti-Mormon” sites, he states, “Answers exist to everything you read out there. Take the time to link back to a site developed by a faithful Mormon to refresh your memory of that fact.” There are two ironic portions of this statement. The first is that “answers” aren’t necessarily correct just because FARMS or some other faith-promoting site gives them. Correct answers are what people should be after–not just answers that can safely drop a person back into the myth camp. The second ironic part of his statement is that there are links from “anti-Mormon” sites back to the faithful Mormon sites. Of the hundred or so sites on the net that FARMS would probably deem “anti-Mormon”, I’d estimate that over 70% of them link back to faith-promoting Mormon sites to allow the investigator of Mormonism to look at both sides of the issues. Of the thousands of faith-promoting LDS sites on the net, less than a dozen of them link to anything that would be considered “anti-Mormon”. Based on these facts, just who does he think is trying to hide the “answers”?
The FARMS review of one of my pages is no better. Apparently Brother Taggart doesn’t know what <g> means as he thought that I was ad hominemizing FARMS by my comments as to what the acronym FARMS stood for. (translation for those who still don’t get it: I was joking regarding what FARMS was an acronym for. My comments were tongue in cheek so I included the <g>. There is no ad hominem attack in my statement–intentional or otherwise).
Brother Taggart’s review of my site indicates that he hasn’t looked it over very well or he has done as he suggests and “learned to ignore” most of it as he explored the pages. He states, “The creator of the site brings B. H. Roberts to do battle for him”. There is no place on my pages that I claim that Roberts is doing battle for me, that I necessarily agree with some or all of Roberts’ conclusions, or that I otherwise suggest to site viewers that they should rely on B.H. Roberts. In fact, I say just the opposite in several places. The only thing I dogmatically tell site visitors to do is to think for themselves (which in and of itself is an oxymoron <g>). Less than 1% of my site even deals with B. H. Roberts, and of the parts that do, less than 1% of the words were written by me. I certainly don’t need a dead General Authority (believing or not) to do my thinking or “battle” for me.
Finally, he states that my site “is about as good as it gets for comprehensive links to what is ‘wrong’ with Mormonism”. He says this despite the fact that my site from day one has included my thoughts that are critical of the Tanners, links to FARMS, the church conference talks, positive excerpts of Gordon B. Hinckley, Hugh B. Brown, and other General Authorities, and links to dozens of other faith-promoting pro-Mormonism sites.
Perhaps in the next FARMS review of the internet they will spend a little more time looking through sites before evaluating them instead of making blanket generalizations and condemning the thoughts of others who may have points of disagreement with them.
FARMS responded to the above with [yet another link which you now have to pay FARMS to get to].
Just a few quick notes on Brother Taggart part 2…
I haven’t changed my email address. In fact, I have half a dozen email addresses. If Brother Taggart would like to email me I wish he would ‘try’ a little harder. His first attempt never made it.
I find it highly ironic that after saying that I misinterpreted his ‘blight metaphor’ he goes on to create a nearly identical one substituting ‘same old weed’ for ‘blight’. Is he now going to say that I’ve misinterpreted his ‘same old weed’ metaphor and that he really meant something else?
And finally, ‘in the name of Honest Intellectual Inquiry’ he should address the factual content of my site rather than focus on tangents and generally try and lump my site in with the likes of Ed Decker.