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Anti-Mormon Tactics

by W. John Walsh

Have you ever noticed that anti-Mormons keep using some of the same flawed arguments repeatedly? I am speaking more of style as opposed to specific false charges (which are also endlessly repeated). Please be warned that some of my comments are rather tongue and cheek and perhaps even a little sarcastic. Believe it or not, all of the examples are real.

1) If a Latter-day Saint shows that you are misrepresenting the beliefs of the LDS Church, tell him that you were a sincere investigator, but due to his bad example of gospel living (i.e., correctly pointing out that you are spreading falsehoods), you are no longer interested in joining the Church. While you were not able to successfully malign the LDS Church, you might be able to hurt his feelings.

Example: If this is example of a good Mormon is all about and then I feel sorry for the Mormon faith. I requested information on the faith with sincere goodness and you showed me the ugly side. You are not a good Mormon or a good person. You showed lack of respect and just wasted my time and dashed any hopes of me learning about Mormonism. (From a letter received by the author)

2) Falsely claim that Latter-day Saints cannot answer any of your accusatory questions about their faith. This will give the false impression that Latter-day Saints believe certain things to be true even after they are thoroughly proven to be false. Therefore, you might be able to persuade some uninformed people that Latter-day Saints are just a bunch of religious fanatics.

Example: But so far, not one Mormon (and I have talked with many) has been able to answer any question. They either never respond back or they just get off-line. I think it is a realization that your members [are] brainwashed ... (From a letter received by the author, emphasis added)

3) When Latter-day Saints are successful in proving that their beliefs are perfectly consistent with Biblical teachings, persuade the audience to read anti-Mormon material instead. After all, if the audience sticks to just using the Bible, the Mormons might convince them to join the Church!

Example: You folks who are arguing theology with the Mormons should keep in mind that they are VERY well drilled from an early age in this stuff. Have you got confidence enough in your personal command of biblical theology to challenge clever and subtle manipulations of scripture? I'd like to recommend a very good [anti-Mormon] book instead. (From a Usenet post)

It's interesting to note that most Latter-day Saints who debate theology with non-LDS Christians are actually converts who joined the Church as adults (including myself). Many LDS apologists were Evangelical Christians prior to their association with the LDS Church.

4) Study the techniques of the Pharisees very closely. "And they watched [Jesus]...that they might accuse him." (Mark 3:2) Look for any and every opportunity to accuse the Latter-day Saints of some supposed wrongdoing. Don't be afraid of making unsubstantiated charges. Examine the statements of Church leaders. It is fairly easy to twist an isolated sentence from LDS secondary sources into supporting your accusation.

Example: [President Joseph Fielding Smith] could have been remarking along the lines of ..... (From a Usenet post)

5) Claim that the Church hides certain cardinal teachings like deification (i.e., man becoming like God). It gives the false impression that Latter-day Saints are into shady and nefarious practices and implies that most members are just too naive to realize it. (See Do Latter-day Saints Conceal Their Beliefs?)

Example: At least half of those Mormons whom I ask about, regarding these teachings, deny that these are Mormon teachings. While some of these are relatively new to Mormonism, many others have been Mormons for years, sometimes as many as 30 years, and have never heard of these teachings until I have asked them about them. (From a letter received by the author)

This technique works especially well if you twist the doctrine into some unrecognizable form when you poll the members. (See The Exclusion by Misrepresentation by Dr. Stephen E. Robinson)

6) Always insist on double standards! Demand religious freedom for yourselves while retaining the right to persecute other denominations.

Example: There is a new site called "The Hub" (Keyword "HUB") that contains a section called "Ken's Guide to the Bible" ... The site seems to be completely devoted to ridiculing Christianity and many of the things that we all hold sacred ... Whatever everyone's personal beliefs, there is something in there to offend everyone!! This person's motivation seems to be to want to lead people away from Christianity by making fun of our beliefs and planting seeds of doubt in those that already have some faith... I am absolutely shocked that AOL allowed something this controversial into it's online content, but it's there!!! (AOL Post)

The 11th Article of Faith of the LDS Church states: We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may. How many of our detractors would agree to apply it to anyone other than themselves?

7) Never be afraid to inflate the credentials of a person. It will make an uninformed person believe that the person was a high office holder in the LDS Church and therefore falsely conclude that his word should be considered expert testimony.

Example: It was the statement of Mormon Bishop John D. Lee, Brigham Young’s adopted son (AOL Post).

I suppose they would consider Judas an expert on Christ? After all, he was an apostle. Of course, they would have to reword his credentials a little -- Judas, Holy Apostle of God and Intimate Acquaintance of Jesus of Nazareth.

8) Don't be afraid to call unsupported hearsay as proven fact. If people know the real source of your information, they may discount it.

Example: I should like to initiate all of you into what is perhaps the strangest, the most mysterious, occult-like esoteric, and yet Masonically oriented practice ever adopted by Joseph Smith. [He then proceeds to relate the Jupiter talisman myth] (AOL post)

Actually, the real source of this particular story came from Wilford Wood, who was told it by Charlie Bidaman, who was told it by his father, Lewis Bidaman, who was Emma's second husband and a non-Mormon not too friendly to the LDS Church. Therefore it must be true!

9) Always rephrase LDS beliefs using offensive terminology, especially when such usage twists the doctrine into falsehood.

Example: Mormons believe husbands and wives will be reassigned new spouses and children to men and women who's spouses did not follow Mormonism with all there heart. (AOL post)

Example: Now I was a full-class Mormon. I paid a full tithe (AOL post)

10) Never let Latter-day Saints explain their own beliefs. Always do it for them! After all, Latter-day Saints don't know what they believe, but you know what they believe; You know their thoughts better than they do!

Example: I'm afraid you have a finite view of god, salvation, and heaven (AOL post)

11) Claim that people can't trust what Mormons say about themselves because they use special meanings for commonly used terms.

Example: You say you believe in Jesus, but you believe in a DIFFERENT Jesus! (Usenet post)

Now my question about this is simple -- If this charge of manipulating language is true, then why am I always the one quoting from the dictionary in anti-Mormon debates!

12) If twisting LDS doctrines does not seem to be working, then you need to dig little deeper and just create things out of thin air!

Example: The LDS Church is Pro-Abortion. (anti-Mormon web site)

13) If you can't win the argument based on the strength of your position, then resort to ridiculing past and present Church leaders.

Example: Do you people really believe Joe Smith was for real?.... Reading about his background, he sounded like a real loser. (From a letter received by the author)

Example: To "The Joe Smith follower" (From a letter received by the author)

The reader will note that the flippant use of the familiar Joe is a rather nice touch, especially since Joseph Smith always went by the name Joseph.

14) Since there are a number of great aspects to the LDS faith, it is a difficult process at best to convert Latter-day Saints. Therefore, it is very important never to attempt a conversion by explaining what beliefs you want them to accept in place of their own. Afterall, your beliefs just won't hold up in a side-by-side comparision. Instead, the ardent anti-Mormon should focus all of his efforts on misrepresenting the beliefs of Latter-day Saints.

Example: I found this [anti-Mormon] site a little time ago, I thought you might like to look at it.  They tell an interesting side of Mormonism.  I implore you ..., to repent these sins and turn to [my Church instead].  (From a letter received by the author)

As a word of warning, this technique does not work very often. Most people catch on to the fact that you are avoiding discussing your own beliefs by trashing the Latter-day Saints (i.e., a mudslinging campaign). It makes them wonder what is so distasteful about your own beliefs that you can't even talk about them.

15)  If you can't refute the faithful Latter-day Saint's argument, then accuse them of exhibiting an unchristian spirit.

Example: I too am disgusted with the people who say they are spreading the gospel plainly- and yet have not an ounce of kindness about the way they do it. Christ could do it because he was perfect. You are not. Don't worry about replying, because I too am off the list. It just isn't "virtuous, lovely or of good report" so I do not seek after these things.  (From an email list, addressed to the author)

I suppose this same person would believe that Jesus was unchristian when he addressed his opponents, as follows:  "[Ye] serpents, [ye] generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?"  (Matthew 23:33)

16) Don't be afraid to generalize! 

Example: for the most part [Utah Mormons] are rude, controlling , and liars. I have meet bums on the street that have more spirituality then most of the mormons in Utah. (from an email letter)

Afterall, the members of any large group (the Church has 10.5 million members) always think and act exactly the same, right?

(See Response to Criticism home page; General Criticism home page)

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