Criticism of Mormonism/Video/Search for the Truth DVD/Letter (annotated)

Table of Contents <metadesc>Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith Search for the Truth DVD Good News for Mormons</metadesc>

Letter of Instruction to Distributors

This letter was provided to those who were to distribute the DVD. It provides a glimpse of their attitudes toward the Church of Jesus Christ, and the members whom they claim to be treating with "love." This version of the letter has comments added in blue by FAIR. Click here to see the letter without comments.

PLEASE COPY THIS LETTER AND HAND IT OUT WITH EACH SAMPLE DVD

Dear Fellow Christian,

Enclosed is the sample copy of the brand new Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVD.

CAUTION: This video is to be viewed by CHRISTIANS ONLY until AFTER the nation-wide distribution which is scheduled for March 25, 2007. In-other-words, do not allow any Mormon people to view the video or learn of our intended evangelistic outreach until after March 25, 2007.

Why such extreme caution? If the leadership of the Mormon cult learns of our plans, they will publicly instruct their people not to watch the video and many Mormons will blindly obey.

This statement presents a clear problem for the producers of this video, as it directly conflicts with statements made within the video itself. See that statement, and the problem, see this location. See also a later claim made in a press release here.

To read more:

ABOUT THE NATION-WIDE DISTRIBUTION AND EVANGELISTIC OUTREACH:

All that is required - HANGING THE DVD ON DOOR KNOBS THE VIDEO DOES THE TALKING and, in fact, we do not advise or encourage interaction with Mormon people until sometime after the distribution is complete.

One purpose of the DVD is "boundary maintenance." This means that it is a tool used by some conservative Protestant groups to ensure that their flock will not become interested in Joseph Smith and the Church of Jesus Christ. The DVD is targeted partly at an evangelical audience, to have them remain convinced that the Mormons are an un-Christian cult; nothing must challenge the video's version of what Latter-day Saints "really" believe.
Therefore, it is important that their distributors not discuss these issues with Latter-day Saints, lest they learn that the Saints believe a great many of the same things as they do about Christ. (See discussion here.)

The reason for this approach is because the Mormon Church instructs its members to not receive any materials which are not "faith promoting" in regard to Mormonism. By simply hanging the DVD on doors, Mormon people do not have the option of refusing to accept it. After the DVD is in their home many will, out of curiosity, watch it.

The Church encourages its members not to purchase anti-Mormon propaganda, for this only contributes money to their cause.
However, there is no prohibition on reading material critical of the Church. In the Ensign, the Church's official magazine, the question was asked, "Some people say it is best to leave alone materials that claim to 'expose' the Church and its teachings. What counsel has been given on this? How do we respond when a friend comes to us with questions found in such materials?" The reply given included these recommendations:
[Cautions about those who sell material aiming to destroy the Church] must not be interpreted to mean that the Church is against honest scholarship or has anything to fear or hide. Nor does the Church ban literature, but Latter-day Saints should be wise in choosing what to read.
This cautionary counsel should not be misconstrued to justify laziness on our part in seeking answers, or giving glib, superficial replies when someone sincerely wants to know the truth after being exposed to anti-LDS material. Church critics and enemies should not be permitted to make what Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve has sometimes called "uncontested slam dunks."
Latter-day Saints should be sufficiently grounded in their testimonies and knowledge of Church doctrine and history that they can answer questions in a non-contentious and informative way. Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve has instructed Church members not to retaliate against attacks. "We encourage all our members to refuse to become anti-anti-Mormon," he said (Ensign, Nov. 1992, p. 63). Paul taught that coming to Christ requires "speaking the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15).
The First Presidency has encouraged Church members to convey their response to questions and criticism "in the form of a positive explanation of the doctrines and practices of the Church" (Church News, 18 Dec. 1983, p. 2).
Members should invite those with questions about Church doctrine and practices to read latter-day scriptures and to study the restored gospel, thus tasting the gospel fruit for themselves. Only then will they know "whether it be of God" (John 7:17).
When members lack answers, they should learn what Church leaders and reputable scholars have said and written. There is probably no charge against the Church that has not been adequately refuted by someone. When members can’t find answers on their own, they can turn to home and visiting teachers, quorum leaders, bishops, and stake presidents...Those willing to take time to research anti-LDS claims can find answers.
—Gilbert W. Scharffs, "I Have A Question," Ensign (January 1995), 60. off-site
Once again, the video is shown to make false claims about what the Church does and teaches. FAIR hopes to play a role in finding answers for those who take the time to research anti-Mormon claims.

We encourage distribution of DVDs in neighborhoods surrounding LDS churches and/or Temples. Consider the following facts gleaned from previous similar distributions:

FOR MORMONS - The DVD will be instrumental in leading them out of Mormonism and into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Note again the insistence that Mormons don't already have "a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." This is clearly false. (See discussion here.)

FOR NON-MORMONS - The DVD exposes the false teachings of the Mormon cult. As a result, people who view the video are much less likely to be converted to Mormonism and these people often use the information found in the DVD to challenge their LDS neighbors and/or LDS missionaries.

As noted above, the DVD producers want to 'protect' their own flocks from considering the message of modern prophets and witnesses of Jesus Christ. It is therefore vital that they convince their Christian audience that:
  • LDS teachings are false (and so, they must distort those teachings)
  • Mormonism is a "cult" (they use fear and loaded language to vilify beliefs they do not share or understand)
The DVD's Christian audience probably believes that a "Christian" ministry effort would never misrepresent or distort, and so will trust what they hear. This is the real tragedy—well-meaning Christians will be misled about what their neighbors believe because of the dozens of deceptions in the ironically named Search for the Truth.
Their misrepresentations and distortions are less likely to be discovered by the unsuspecting Christians because the distribution team encourages their Christian distributors not to discuss the matter with LDS members beforehand.

THIS OPPORTUNITY IS TRULY A GOD SEND - God has led the producer of this video to freely give the DVD to Utah ministries (a gift exceeding a quarter of a million dollars). The producer has also offered this DVD at the production cost of .50 each to any Christian ministry outside of the state of Utah who will agree to participate in the NATION-WIDE distribution on March 25, 2007.

Has God also led the producer and distributors to misrepresent and distort? To malign the sincere faith of others? To show enactments of the most sacred ordinances of their faith?

FOR YOUR INFORMATION:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mormonism, is one of the largest, most powerful, and fastest growing cults in the world today.

Again, the loaded word "cult" is used. This is essentially name calling, in which the speaker smears another religion with which he does not agree, without the trouble of having to discuss actual doctrines and beliefs. Note also the attempt to create a sense of urgency and sinister motive by focusing on the size, growth, and "power" of the "cult."

To read more:

  • See: Daniel C. Peterson and Stephen D. Ricks, Offenders for a Word: How Anti-Mormons Play Word Games to Attack the Latter-day Saints (Provo, Utah: FARMS (reprint edition), 1992), 1. ISBN 0934893357. off-site)

Most people have been deceived into thinking that Mormonism is just another Christian religion. Most LDS converts are proselytized from Christian denominations.

The producers' fears are again demonstrated: Christians are becoming Latter-day Saint Christians. Most LDS converts are Christians, and yet the letter wishes us to believe that all those Christians are seduced by the Mormons into thinking that the Church is Christian, when it really isn't.
If so many Christians find the Church of Jesus Christ attractive, could it not be that they find that it adds to their understanding and joy in Christ?
Thus, the DVD is willing to misrepresent or distort the Church's beliefs to stem the tide of conversions.

Within the state of Utah, the number of Mormons has steadily declined over the past 10 years which teaches us three things:

This claim is likewise false. (See this article.)
This is a minor point, but it demonstrates how little the critics know about the Church, and how poor their research is.
The number of members of the Church in Utah has risen, while the percentage of the state of Utah that is LDS has decreased.
In 2006, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that that
"Utah's ongoing religious diversification has little to do with the LDS Church or its teachings, but rather is a reflection of the economy...When economic growth goes up, minority population goes up, and this is kind of a code word for non-Mormons...While continuing to grow in actual members, the LDS share of the state population showed a slow but constant decline every year from 1989 to 2004." off-site

1 - Within Utah, we are doing a fairly good job of combating Mormonism;

2 - The growth of Mormonism is outside of the state of Utah which makes this NATION-WIDE distribution essentially important.

3 - The Mormon Church is vulnerable. We firmly believe that with enough exposure, Mormonism will crumble and become a shadow of what it is today.

The decreased proportion of Mormons in Utah is not due to "combating" Mormonism, unless the critics are encouraging non-members to move to Utah.
It is true, though, that the Church has more room for growth outside of Utah, and is doing so. Small wonder that the critics are worried, and willing to deceive potential converts.

To read more

Please join us in our efforts to shut down the Mormon machine and lead a multitude of lost souls out of this cult and into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Once again, the Church is made to look impersonal and evil: it is a "machine," and a "cult" of "lost souls." It is much easier to justify deceiving and slandering a "machine" than a religion of committed Christians. In this way, it can be portrayed as "for their own good."
The misrepresentation about a member's lack of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is again presented. (See discussion here and here).

We believe that meditation upon JOHN chapter 15 (the entire chapter) will encourage you and answer your questions as to whether you should participate. WE CANNOT DO THIS WITHOUT YOUR HELP, PLEASE HELP US.


For more information or to order quantities of DVDs contact Chip Thompson at:

E-mail: [email protected] Phone: Office –

435-283-0178 or Cell – 435-851-4588


John 15 does indeed provide some food for thought. One wishes the DVD producers and distributors had taken it to heart.
This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. (John 15:12)
Did Jesus' love for others require Him to misrepresent, slander, or distort their history and beliefs?
But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.... (John 15:26)
Does the Holy Spirit truly bear witness to any honest Christian that the tactics, approach, and spirit of the Search for the Truth effort is from God?
And, since Jesus recommends seeking the Holy Ghost, why does the video repeatedly mock the Latter-day Saints for appealing to it in their faith?
  • (See here where the Saints' witnesses from the Holy Ghost are smugly labeled as merely something "felt by simply watching a Hollywood movie.")
  • (See also here for a detailed treatment of this issue.)

To read more:


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