Question: Does the Church forbid the reading of "anti-Mormon" criticisms, or discourage its members from considering such matters?

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Question: Does the Church forbid the reading of "anti-Mormon" criticisms, or discourage its members from considering such matters?

There is no prohibition on reading material critical of the Church

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."[1]

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.[2]


Notes

  1. Church News, 18 Dec. 1983, p. 2.
  2. Gilbert W. Scharffs, "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?," Ensign (January 1995), 60 (scroll half-way down). off-site