Tuesday, May 9

"Mormons losing faith from information from Internet" says BYU Dean

I'm totally stealing this from JLO. There's a new web site out there for an orgainzation called the More Good Foundation. According to the organization's Make a Difference page:

At the More Good Foundation we believe that we should never give up our right to tell our own stories, in our own way. We should share our experiences and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in a way that is readily understandable by those honestly seeking the truth; we should not be ashamed or hesitant of sharing our point of view. Religious experiences and feelings are personal and deep; they cannot be properly described or conveyed in a neutral, dispassionate, or analytical manner. Our spiritual experiences and testimonies, while real, can’t be completely conveyed by simply describing facts or using only logical arguments. The Spirit of the Lord works in a different way.

Moreover, a neutral point of view can sometimes be used to disguise antagonistic feelings while pursuing the goal of discrediting the Church or its leaders. Since the beginning, the Mormon Church has had to face enemies who did all in their power to spread rumors and lies about the Lord's work. While we respect their right to do so, we are under no obligation to simply listen to them, ignore them, and then move on.

We don't need to move on, we need to move IN. We have the duty to help those “who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12). How can people learn the truth if they cannot easily find the truth? This is where we, as members, must be better prepared and better equipped to tell our own story—and to have that story heard by those who are seeking.

In a nutshell, the More Good foundation was created to help combat the negative information on the web about the Mormon church (i.e. this site).

JLO makes some very good observations about their Testimonies page:

A couple of things to notice: Dr. Millet explicitly acknowledges that once people have all the information, there is a disconnect between what they feel with their emotions and what they understand rationally. Also, the guy in the last clip tells us that missionaries are losing investigators because they can't control the information people get about the church.

Personally, I think they have very little chance of affecting what investigators learn about the church, but then I'm pretty sure that this effort is aimed at members. There seems to be a more desperate focus on keeping members from reading anything that might damage a fragile testimony. What I think that will do is leave a core membership that is willfully ignorant of church history. That's not a good base for a growing church.

I could be wrong, though.

2 Comments:

At 8:42 PM, Anonymous mormon fool said...

The guy in the last clip as J.Lo. points out was my Oklahoma mission president. I observed the same thing he did out in the mission field, that missionaries would be making progress with investigators and internet anti-mormonism would turn them off. I have recently talked to him, James Engebretsen who is now a vice-dean at BYU and I think we are on the same page philosophically about information conveyance. But don't take my connections to MGF as as me speaking for them.

The idea is not to drown out all critical voices on the net, but to at least let Mormonism get fair treatment on the search engines. Search on Mormonism on about any topic and the majority of the hits are highly critical. I don't know how common it is for Catholic investigators to lose interest in RCIA by running across anti-Catholic literature, but whatever the numbers are, I would find that regrettable.

I have a very low opinion of anti-anything literature. Not very much of it is reliable, and reliability is a bigger concern to me than whether a site is pro or anti. I am all for people making religious decisions prayerfully and based on reliable information. The internet's mechanism for reducing the influence of unreliable information calls for concerned individuals to establish credible sites. MGF seems to me to be equally worried about pro-mormon sites posting erroneous information. Their PR pro-mormon stance, while important, gets more emphasis because Mormons are more likely to be inspired to treat the internet as a missionary forum than they are to get excited about just about providing credible content. As an example, of its overall intentions it helped me set up the Mormons and Catholics website, which is trying to be a neutral (except it the sense it is pro-faith and pro-positive), but credible site.

 
At 8:44 PM, Anonymous mormon fool said...

The guy in the last clip as J.Lo. points out was my Oklahoma mission president. I observed the same thing he did out in the mission field, that missionaries would be making progress with investigators and internet anti-mormonism would turn them off. I have recently talked to him, James Engebretsen who is now a vice-dean at BYU and I think we are on the same page philosophically about information conveyance. But don't take my connections to MGF as as me speaking for them.

The idea is not to drown out all critical voices on the net, but to at least let Mormonism get fair treatment on the search engines. Search on Mormonism on about any topic and the majority of the hits are highly critical. I don't know how common it is for Catholic investigators to lose interest in RCIA by running across anti-Catholic literature, but whatever the numbers are, I would find that regrettable.

I have a very low opinion of anti-anything literature. Not very much of it is reliable, and reliability is a bigger concern to me than whether a site is pro or anti. I am all for people making religious decisions prayerfully and based on reliable information. The internet's mechanism for reducing the influence of unreliable information calls for concerned individuals to establish credible sites. MGF seems to me to be equally worried about pro-mormon sites posting erroneous information. Their PR pro-mormon stance, while important, gets more emphasis because Mormons are more likely to be inspired to treat the internet as a missionary forum than they are to get excited about just about providing credible content. As an example, of its overall intentions it helped me set up the Mormons and Catholics website, which is trying to be a neutral (except it the sense it is pro-faith and pro-positive), but credible site.

 

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