Journal – August 2003

Scott Gordon
August 2003


August 2003

LATIN – apologeticus GREEK – apologetikos Apologetics: “The branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines” (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, 2009).


  • FAIR IN THE NEWS. It has been a busy few weeks as FAIR has made the airwaves and the printed page. Be sure to check out the latest press coverage of FAIR.
  • FIFTH ANNUAL FAIR CONFERENCE WILL BE HARD TO TOP. The thoughts and impressions of D.E. Neighbors, who attended the recent FAIR Conference.
  • NEW ON THE WEBSITE: THE IMPACT OF MORMON CRITICS ON LDS SCHOLARSHIP. Presented by Mike Ash at the 2002 FAIR Conference, this is an examination of what effect the critics have had on the Church in general and apologetics in particular.
  • NEW ON THE WEBSITE: THE CHURCH’S PORTRAYAL OF BRIGHAM YOUNG. In an effort to prove that the Church whitewashes its history, critics jumped on the 1998 release of the instruction manual for priesthood and Relief Society classes. What is all the fuss about, and do the critics have a point here?
  • NEW ON THE WEBSITE: THEIR “LITTLE CORNER OF CYBERSPACE.” An analysis of the caliber of discussion evident on the Recovery from Mormonism message boards, along with an example of how tolerant the board really is.
  • NEW ON THE WEBSITE: LUCIFER, THE BROTHER OF JESUS? A short (one page; two sides) brochure that examines the beliefs of the LDS Church about the relationship between Jesus and Lucifer.
  • FAIR LDS BOOKSTORE. Reminders about the resources available through the FAIR LDS Bookstore.
  • ARTICLE SUBMISSIONS. Interested in writing for FAIR? Learn how you can have your apologetics work published.
  • PUBLISHING NOTES. Learn how you can become more involved in FAIR and how you can reuse the material we publish.


The last few weeks have been an exciting time for FAIR. Not only have we just finished a successful conference, but FAIR has been mentioned many times recently in the news.

Those interested in FAIR and its mission will want to review an article that appeared in the August 16 issue of the Church News. In a full-page article entitled “Intellectual Defense of the Faith,” staff reporter R. Scott Lloyd recapped the beginning, mission, and work of FAIR. He also provided summaries of presentations by three speakers, Daniel C. Peterson, Roger Keller, and Michael Rhodes. Be sure to share the article with your friends and neighbors who may wonder exactly what it is that FAIR does. (A subscription is required to view the Church News website.)

Intellectual defense of the faith” by R. Scott Lloyd, Church News, 16 Aug. 2003

On the front page of the BYU Daily Universe we find this article written by Maren Layton.

Conference to defend LDS faith” by Maren Layton, BYU Daily Universe, 6 Aug. 2003

Across the valley from BYU, UVSC (Utah Valley State College) carried FAIR at the top of their front page with this article by Erin McPherson.

“Anti Anti-Mormonism” Conference approaching” by Erin McPherson, 3 Aug. 2003

The Ogden Standard Examiner carried an article written by Janae Fracis that brought several new people to the conference who have never attended before.

Defending beliefs of LDS” by Janae Fracis,  Ogden Standard Examiner, 2 Aug. 2003

The Provo Daily Herald carried this article written by Karen Hoag.

FAIR conference slated for August” by Karen Hoag, Provo Daily Herald, 26 July 2003

Kristen Moulton of The Salt Lake Tribune focused in on the DNA issue with this article.

“Symposiums to look at whether DNA refutes Book of Mormon,” by Karen Hoag, Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Aug. 2003

On the Internet, Meridian Magazine ran a number of articles on FAIR, including several of our past conference talks. Meridian Magazine can be found at A partial listing of the “not to be missed” FAIR articles Meridian Magazine carried includes:

On the radio, Martin Tanner hosted Scott Gordon, president of FAIR, on his Sunday Religion Today program. That program airs regularly on KSL radio 1160 at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Van Hale discussed the FAIR conference with Lance Starr and Mike Ash of FAIR on his Religion on the Line program which airs on KTKK radio 630 Sundays at 5 p.m.

You can still listen in to one radio program that should not be missed. Lance Starr, Kevin Barney and Scott Gordon appeared on Radio West with Doug Fabrizio on KUER public radio. You can still listen to that broadcast here:

Radio West: FAIR on the Air

If you know of any other mentions of FAIR in the news, be sure to let us know. Send your comments to FAIR President.


by D.E. Neighbors

[Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles by Don Neighbors, a member of the FAIR Apologetics list and a first-time conference attendee. Don was asked to share his impressions about the conference so that FAIR Journal subscribers who missed the event will get a fresh perspective. Future installments in the series will appear in both the September and October issues of the FAIR Journal.]

This year’s FAIR Conference at Utah Valley State College in Orem, Utah, got off to a spiritual start when several members of FAIR visited the Provo Temple Wednesday afternoon, the day before the conference. Later that evening, many attended a social, where all had a good time.

Thursday morning the conference opened to a crowd that was a mixed bag of scholars, students, branch, ward, and stake leaders, and “rank and file” members of the Church from all over the country and all walks of life. FAIR’s president, Scott Gordon, began Thursday’s session by welcoming everyone and helping to set the tone for the conference.

It would be hard to say if any one of the presentations given on Thursday and Friday were better than the rest, as all were high- quality talks. Matt Roper started the morning discussing ancient texts and the people of the Book of Mormon lands. He was followed by an emotional and spiritually moving presentation by Margaret Young with a little help from her partner Darius Gray. Her presentation on the faithful black Saints of the early Church was an excellent rebuttal of charges of racism in the Church. She was followed by an energetic presentation by John Tvedtnes, who spoke on the subject of racism in the Book of Mormon. After lunch, Trent Stephens raised a few eyebrows and piqued the audience’s interest in a talk on evolution and LDS theology. After his talk, Brant Gardner spoke on the Book of Mormon, highlighting religious reforms that were underway in Lehi’s time, and made it clear to the audience that the Book of Mormon is not, in fact, a nineteenth-century book reflecting Joseph Smith’s theology.

Following a break, Roger Ekins and his wife gave what could best be called a performance in which they took sides in the California Mormon Newspaper War of 1856 and 1857. The polemics leveled at the Church by the editor of a California newspaper were not only howlingly funny to the audience, but the presentation served to show that little has changed since then. George Potter and Richard Wellington topped the day off with an excellent production about the work they have done following Lehi’s trail. The material they had on hand could have kept us enthralled for much more than the hour in which they had to present it.

After Thursday’s session many of the participants on the FAIR Apologetics list retired to Magleby’s, a local restaurant, for the annual speakers’ dinner. Everyone ate well and proved to the rest of the customers that Mormons can indeed be a bit rowdy. The dining room was packed with a lot of Saints having a wonderful time.

Friday morning began with Kevin Barney and Mike Ash teaming up to give an “Apologetics 101” class for those new to the field or curious in knowing more about it. Logical flaws used by the critics of the Church were presented, but this was tempered by a warning to all to avoid a few treasured “Mormon myths” that many of us know. Jeffrey Meldrum followed with a talk on DNA and the Book of Mormon peoples. He ended his presentation by stating clearly that it is unlikely the children of Lehi will ever be found using DNA analysis. Michael Rhodes gave a technical, but very informative talk on the Book of Abraham and the critics thereof. He closed his presentation by asking the audience if they wanted to live their lives based on the opinions of scholars. Roger Keller gave a moving speech that revealed his thoughts on the field of apologetics. He recounted his involvement as a non-Mormon with the NCCJ (the National Council of Christians and Jews) and their review of “The God Makers,” which he described as “religious pornography.” He made no bones about the fact that he feels those involved in apologetics should avoid polemic attacks, but should seek rather for dialogue and attempt to inform, rather than argue.

Between Brother Keller’s talk and lunch, John Lynch took care of some FAIR business, and spoke a little about FAIR’s mission to inform, not to bash, and to strive to add to the beliefs of others, not to take away. Immediately after those remarks, he awarded Sharon Bunch the John Taylor Defender of the Faith Award for the work she has done in developing the bookstore for FAIR during the past year.

After lunch, Gene Sessions spoke about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, which is currently a hot topic darling with the press and the subject of two new books, Will Bagley’s Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Mountain Meadows Massacre (Norman, Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma Press, 2002) and Sally Denton’s American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows, September 1857 (New York: Knopf, 2003). While Sessions felt Bagley’s book demonstrated good research and knowledge of the sources, he said the interpretation and analysis was lacking. In regard to Denton’s book, he could not find any redeeming value. Craig L. Foster followed with a presentation on the “unchanging ways” of the anti-Mormons. His talk did an excellent job of punctuating the performance given by the Ekins’ the previous day. In the course of his presentation, he took on Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (New York: Doubleday, 2003), neatly placing the book where it belongs: among other similar poorly researched anti-Mormon literature of past and present.

After a break we were treated to a talk on the subject of blacks and the priesthood ban, by Armand Mauss, who has just published a book on the subject that is the fruit of forty years’ work. His presentation proved to be quite up to providing insightful answers during the question and answer period. The day closed with Daniel C. Peterson, whose off-the-cuff presentation was at once thought provoking and incredibly funny.

After all was said and done, and the work commenced in putting away the unsold books and cleaning up after the conference, Sharon Bunch said “We plan for this for an entire year, then it’s over in two days.” There is no doubt that all involved had a good time. The crowd, which peaked at 230 people, more than filled the room we used, so there is talk of another venue for next year’s conference.

Yes, it was a great couple of days.


by Michael R. Ash

It is reported that Hugh Nibley once said: “We need more anti-Mormon books. They keep us on our toes.” At the 2001 FAIR Conference Ross Baron mentioned Neal Postman’s recently coined word, Columbusity. While serendipity means finding something of value by accident, Columbusity is the opposite; it means having found something of value and not knowing it. “We’ve hit some ‘Columbusity’ with regards to anti-Mormons,” Baron said. “They’re a great thing for us. Do you realize the scholarship of the Church, the convert baptisms, the strengthening of the members, as a result of anti-Mormons? …They’ve been one of the greatest blessings.”

So begins the 2002 FAIR Conference presentation of Mike Ash, where he demonstrates that despite being an impediment to Gospel growth, critics fill a necessary role as part of the gospel plan and often times positively influence Latter-day Saint scholarship.

Read the presentation:

The Impact of Mormon Critics on LDS Scholarship by Michael Ash


by Mike Parker

In January 1998 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints introduced a new curriculum for men’s Priesthood and women’s Relief Society classes: Lessons would be taught by gospel subject using selected statements and teachings of latter-day prophets. The first two years (1998–1999) focused on President Brigham Young.

An April 1998 Associated Press story was picked up by secular and sectarian critics of the Church and used as proof that the Church was covering up embarrassing historical facts.

Read the article:

The Church’s Portrayal of Brigham Young by Mike Parker


by Bill Hamblin

One of the phenomena attendant to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the vehemence with which its detractors approach anything having to do with the Church. One such example is the popular Recovery from Mormonism message board, which receives up to 1,000 posts per day by a disgruntled collection of Mormon dissidents.

This article highlights an analysis of the message board, along with the author’s attempts to have the analysis posted on the board. The question is asked whether self-proclaimed tolerance really is a guiding practice at the Recovery from Mormonism message boards.

Read the article:

Their “Little Corner of Cyberspace” by William Hamblin


by Michael Reed

In times past, anti-Mormons have picketed numerous events, from LDS temple dedications to the 2002 Olympics held in Salt Lake City. If you have ever witnessed such a gathering, you might remember–amongst the picket signs, scattered pamphlets, sensational statements yelled through megaphones, etc.–a declaration proclaiming, “Mormons believe in the wrong Jesus: A Jesus that is BROTHERS with Lucifer.” This criticism is arguably the most common of all made against the LDS Church.

While it is unfortunate that many critics use such “shock talk” to scare people from investigating the LDS Church further, there is no question that the tactic can be effective.

Brother of Satan?—Critics claim that the LDS consider Jesus and Satan to be “brothers,” thus lowering the stature of Christ, or elevating Satan. Some go so far as to imply that the LDS “really” worship or revere Satan, and are thus not true “Christians.” (Link)


I would like to thank all of those that made the FAIR conference a huge success. The speakers all did an outstanding job. We had many people who worked behind the scenes to make sure we had everything we needed. We had donations of product, time and money from book publishers, Webmasters and many others.

I would like to say a special thank you to Marshall McDonald who set the mood of the conference by playing wonderful piano music prior to the start of the conference. I encourage everyone to pick up one of his CDs from your local LDS bookstore.

For those of you who would like to hear the conference, we are working diligently to have the audio CDs produced. We anticipate they will be available by next month’s FAIR Journal.

The challenge that FAIR has for next year is to provide a conference that will be as good as or better than this year’s. We already have some speakers lined up and we think we are off to a good start.

See you next year at the FAIR conference.

-Scott Gordon President, FAIR


The FAIR Conference was a huge success. If you couldn’t make it, you can still take advantage of many of the special deals available to conference attendees. This month we are featuring the following books, all at a substantial discount.

Standing on the Promises, Book 1: One More River to Cross

by Margaret Blair Young and Darius Aidan Gray

In this critically acclaimed book, the authors bring to life the stories of Elijah Abel and Jane Manning James. From marvelous beginnings, through nearly unendurable hardships, to the bursting forth of more light with the revelation on the priesthood in 1978, the story of African-American Latter-day Saints is deeply affecting, one that will resonate with members of the Church everywhere.

Standing on the Promises, Book 2: Bound for Canaan

by Margaret Blair Young and Darius Aidan Gray

From the challenges of colonization and the lure of the gold rush to the Emancipation Proclamation and the poverty and prejudice of life in Zion, this second volume in the award-winning Standing on the Promises trilogy traces the extraordinary lives of several prominent black Mormon pioneers from 1838 to 1891.

Standing on the Promises, Book 3: The Last Mile of the Way

by Margaret Blair Young and Darius Aidan Gray

In book three of the Standing on the Promises trilogy, the black Saints come full circle as Aidan Gray looks down Parley Street in Nauvoo, where Elijah Abel and Jane Manning James walked more than 160 years earlier. This astonishing story of loyalty in the face of trials, steadfast courage in times of humiliation, and obedience in an era of deprivation will fill your heart with compassion and new understanding.

Why Would Anyone Join the Mormon Church?

by Brad Brase

A personal examination of the teachings that set the LDS Church apart from the world and invite people to come unto Christ.

For these specials, visit the FAIR LDS Bookstore:

FAIR Bookstore – Monthly Specials

– The FAIR Bookstore Staff


We welcome article submissions for the FAIR Web site. If you would like to submit an article, please review the editing guidelines at:

FAIR Editorial Style Guide

Submit your article to the FAIR Journal Editor. An appropriate article would be one that affirms the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

While LDS apologetics (in the broadest sense) deals with refuting critics of the Church, articles don’t necessarily have to deal with anti-Mormonism, but may deal with some new evidence of the Book of Mormon, some interesting scripture interpretation, a viewpoint or quote from the early Christian Fathers or other historical figure, an interesting lesson idea, an inspiring missionary story, Church history, or your view on a current event related to the Church or a piece from a historical journal.

We may also accept articles from people who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that may not necessarily meet the guidelines of supporting the church if it is a topic of general interest to people involved in apologetics.

A submission may range in length from several pages to a single paragraph.


FAIR is not owned, controlled by or affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All research and opinions provided in the FAIR Journal and on the FAIR Web site ( are the sole responsibility of FAIR, and should not be interpreted as official statements of LDS doctrine, belief or practice.

If someone has forwarded this e-journal to you and you would like to join you should go to and click on the FAIR Publications link.

If you are very interested in apologetics and would like to actively participate in FAIR you should consider joining our apologetics e-mail list. Visit and click on the Join FAIR link to join this list.

If you manage your own e-mail list, and wish to include some of these thoughts or articles on your list, contact us through our Web site, at this page: We have a fairly liberal policy of using our material so long as you contact us first to gain permission and clearly identify that your source was FAIR and by adding a link to the FAIR Web site (

If you would like to sign up to receive the FAIR Journal automatically, click here.

To return to the index of past FAIR Journal issues, click here.

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