FairMormon is an organization that seeks to offer faithful answers to difficult or critical questions about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as LDS Church or Mormon Church). FairMormon does this through an effort called apologetics, which comes from the greek word aplogia—which sounds like someone is apologizing or are saying sorry for something. The origin of term really speaks to the effort to defend one’s position or beliefs. This can be done through scholarship, it can be done by people simply being a voice in defense of elements of culture, doctrines, and other activities. When it comes to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FairMormon and its volunteers are engaged in apologetics in the sense that we seek to defend the Church, its positions, and its doctrines using reason, research, and scholarship.
FairMormon has a wikipedia style database with answers to critics, to specific questions about church doctrines and history, and so on. There is also a blog that features book reviews, articles, and podcasts or on demand radio style programming with interviews, and other information that falls under the heading of apologetics. That’s where I come in to this whole thing—podcasting.
My official registration as a volunteer at FairMormon began on February 18th 2014. In the year prior to becoming a volunteer, I had entered the world of podcasting with my show, The Good Word Podcast, where I interviewed LDS (Mormon) authors and writers about their various works. In the course of producing and hosting that show, I had been given the opportunity to interview Michael R. Ash about his book Shaken Faith Syndrome, published by FairMormon.
The episode/interview was recorded then went live on the Internet some time later. In the time before the interview, and in between recording the interview and it being made public, I did some research on the organization and was impressed with the mission and purpose of FairMormon. After having a wonderful lunch meeting with Steve Densley the Executive Vice-President of FairMormon, I was brought on board as manager of the FairMormon podcasting effort.
Since that time I have produced, hosted, or supervised the production, of 5 different on going shows with over 100 total podcast episodes, and started the FairMormon Internet Radio Station. More importantly I have been introduced to and acquainted with some notable individuals, learned some important truths (as well as some falsehoods), and become more aware of issues surrounding the day to day experience many have with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have learned a great deal about my own abilities to manage time (producing that many shows as a volunteer is no easy task), but I have also learned other things that have added to my faith. While not everything I have learned I would put into the category of “constructive” or “true,” because I know these things, I can better know truth when I read, hear, or see it.
While I have learned far more than 10 things during this first year with FairMormon, they can fit into some categories or general principles. Each learning experience I have had, supports my choice to be a part of this apologetic effort. So here are the 10 main things that I have learned (or had confirmed) in my first year of volunteering at FairMormon:
1) We are all children of God our Eternal Father and that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is lead by His Son Jesus Christ. God has called a Prophet and Apostles to lead this church, to bless the lives of those who have ears to hear.
2) Joseph Smith Jr., while a fallible man subject to the same conditions and purposes of a mortal experience, was, by the Grace of God, given the authority to restore the Kingdom of God to the Earth. Through the Church that Joseph Smith Jr. helped establish, all mankind may be granted the opportunity to return to God’s presence renewed, and eventually perfected as well as find lasting peace in this life and in the life to come.
3) FairMormon is not the true church (or a church at all), it is not lead by a prophet, but is filled with volunteers that seek to defend and build up the Church through their best efforts in scholarship, reason, and with whatever talents the Lord has blessed them. These volunteers are fine people who have, at times, become a verbal dartboard by those who disagree with the Church, its leaders, or its teachings.
4) Many people feel an emotional and spiritual pain when encountering doubts about their faith. This pain can be severe and ought not to be ignored or marginalized.
5) Having doubts does not equal having questions. Doubts are questions without accepted answers. Doubts can quickly grow into disagreement if given the wrong “fertilizer.” With the presence and love of an all-knowing God, there is no question that does not have an answer. If given time, patience, and faith, all questions can be answered. The answers require work, study, faith, and trust to obtain. When the answer comes from God, that answer will build faith in Him, and in his Church.
6) There are individuals in this world who have perpetuated the need for organizations like FairMormon. Some of these individuals are quite gifted, and charismatic in their efforts to discourage belief or conviction of a divine Church, its leaders, or its teachings. Much of the rhetoric of such critics are filled with a volatile cocktail of hurt and anger that resonates with those who are experiencing the pains that come with doubt.
7) My impression is that over the last 10-20 years, more critical questions or aggressive posturing against the church has come from those disaffected with the church, in other words those from within, than from those outside of the church’s membership.
8) One never knows the influence for good that they may have as they are “about doing good.” I have received emails, friend requests, and other in-person compliments and expressions of gratitude with the work that I have been doing with FairMormon than I would have expected. We are all capable of doing more good than we currently realize. As Bonnie Parkinson once offered as sound Christian advice, “never suppress a generous thought,” I would add, never suppress a generous act. (BYU Devotional, Personal Ministry: Sacred and Precious – 13 February, 2007)
9) Volunteering for FairMormon is a generous act.
10) On occasion I wonder why I have dedicated so much time and effort to a cause and an organization that at times seems to have more critics than supporters, but I do not regret it. I feel that I have made a positive contribution to a theology, a community, and a church and cause that I believe, in such a way that can have a profound ripple effect across the globe—for good.
I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to help people through their trials of faith, and to personally have an enlarged perspective on my faith as well as the many ways that God works through individuals to bring out his righteous purposes. I am grateful that the Lord has seen fit to bless me with enough talent and opportunities to be a part of this effort.
Nick Galieti – 2015