With the approaching Republican presidential nomination of Mitt Romney, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as its history and doctrines has been the focus of much media scrutiny. The annual FAIR Conference of scholars, apologists, and interested individuals will meet August 2-3, 2012 at the South Towne Exposition Center in Sandy, Utah. At least fourteen scholars this year will address important and potentially controversial issues that have been highlighted by the national media or are confronting Latter-day Saints, including gay marriage, the impact of California’s Proposition 8, polygamy and questions of polyandry, Black Latter-day Saints, the Book of Mormon, the Book of Abraham, difficult issues in Mormon history, the threats to American religious freedom, and dealing with issues of faith and loss of faith.
Among the presenters are Brian C. Hales, author of Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations after the Manifesto and the forthcoming Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, who will discuss new evidences relating to controversies about Joseph Smith’s sexual polyandry. Kathryn Lynard Soper, founder and editor-in-chief of Segullah, a journal of literary and visual art for Mormon women, and Neylan McBaine, associate creative director at Bonneville Communications, will both discuss issues confronting Mormon women. Hannah Smith, Senior Counsel of the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty, will discuss the unprecedented threats to American religious freedom and what Latter-day Saints can do. Joshua Johanson, an outspoken advocate for Mormons with same-gender attraction, will share insights he has gained as a faithful, married, Latter-day Saint who also experiences same-gender attraction.
Relating to ancient scripture, Royal Skousen, editor of the Book of Mormon critical text project, will speak about whether Latter-day Saints need to make changes to the Book of Mormon text. John W. Welch, who has published extensively on issues dealing with the Book of Mormon and Mormon doctrine, will discuss chiasmus in the Book of Mormon while Don Bradley, author of the soon to be published, Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Missing Contents of the Book of Mormon, will discuss those 116 pages. John Gee, a professor of Egyptology, will talk about the Book of Abraham and Rosemary Avance, a non-Mormon doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communication, will discuss parallels in Mormon conversion and de-conversion stories. Hartt Wixam, a retired BYU professor and investigate reporter for the Deseret News, will give a presentation entitled “Perception and Reality: Then and Now.” And Mesoamerican scholar, Brandt Gardner, will discuss the problem of cardinal directions in the Book of Mormon.
Rounding out the conference are popular speakers like the venerable Darius Gray, one of the founders of Genesis Group for Black Latter-day Saints and co-writer of the documentary, Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons, Ugo A. Perego who will be traveling from Rome, Italy to discuss aspects of DNA research and Mormon history, and Daniel C. Peterson who will talk about the restoration of the gospel.
Members of the media are particularly invited to visit with these and other conference participants, as well as to attend this important and informative conference in August.
FAIR is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of LDS doctrine, belief and practice. Along with the annual conference, which is open to everyone, FAIR also sponsors a website that includes answers to difficult questions. FAIR has an “Ask the Apologist” option where people can pose questions to apologists and FAIR also sponsors MormonVoices which responds to public discussions and comments from public figures that misrepresent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For details on the FAIR Conference, visit the FAIR website. Tickets may be purchased at the FAIR online Bookstore, here.