Question: Do Church leaders teach us to avoid the internet?

Table of Contents

Question: Do Church leaders teach us to avoid the internet?

Critical hyperbole: the "scary internet"

One critic of the Church makes the following claim:

Elder Quentin L. Cook made the following comment in the October 2012 Conference: “Some have immersed themselves in internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.”

Elder Dieter Uchtdorf said the following in his CES talk “What is truth?”: “…Remember that in this age of information there are many who create doubt about anything and everything at any time and every place. You will find even those who still claim that they have evidence that the earth is flat. That the moon is a hologram. It looks like it a little bit. And that certain movie stars are really aliens from another planet. And it is always good to keep in mind just because something is printed on paper, appears on the internet, is frequently repeated or has a powerful group of followers doesn’t make it true.”

Who cares whether you received the information from a stranger, television, book, magazine, comic book, napkin, and even the scary internet? They’re all mediums or conduits of information. It’s the information itself, its accuracy, and its relevance that you need to focus on and be concerned with. With all this talk from General Authorities against the scary internet and daring to be balanced by looking at what both defenders and critics are saying about the Church, it is as if questioning and researching and doubting is now the new pornography. [1]

The same critic also claims that "Under [Elder Quentin] Cook’s counsel, FAIR and unofficial LDS apologetic websites are anti-Mormon sources that should be avoided. Not only do they introduce to Mormons “internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcoming of early Church leaders” but they provide many ridiculous answers with logical fallacies and omissions while leaving members confused and hanging with a bizarre version of Mormonism."

Church leaders encourage us to use the internet to spread the Gospel

The author employs hyperbole (the "scary internet") to make it seem as if Elder's Cook and Uchtdorf are telling Church members to avoid using the internet. He has missed the point of their comments entirely.

According to the portion of the quote by Elder Uchtdorf that appears just prior to the portion quoted by the author, it doesn't matter by what medium you receive information:

it is always good to keep in mind just because something is printed on paper, appears on the internet, is frequently repeated or has a powerful group of followers doesn’t make it true.

Elder Uchtdorf is not telling members to avoid things that "appear on the internet" any more than he is telling them to avoid "printed paper." He has, in fact, precisely answered the question that the author asked after the author presented Elder Uchtdorf's quote.

Elder Cook is talking about the type of internet materials one looks at:

Some have immersed themselves in internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcomings of early Church leaders.

Once again, this is not an admonition by Elder Cook to avoid the "scary internet."

Notes

  1. Jeremy Runnells, "Letter to a CES Director" (2013)