As of late, I have found myself arguing with many of my conservative and liberal LDS brothers and sisters on social media. Mainly, those take snippets from current General Conference talks, warp them to satisfy their confirmation bias that they have developed, use them to guilt trip and beat into
This is exactly what we expect will happen when people go to FairMormon for answers.
FairMormon has a distinct editorial point of view that they don’t disclose. They pretend to be neutral and to follow Church leaders, but in reality they are promoting their own agenda with well-planned and executed sophistry.
While FairMormon purports to provide “faithful answers to criticisms of the LDS church,” FairMormon emphatically teaches readers to disregard the words of the prophets and apostles that contradict the editorial opinions of the FairMormon staff.
This leads to exactly the type of disputation and contention that the Savior warned against in 3 Nephi 11. I blogged about this separately here: https://bookofmormonconsensus.blogspot.com/
The latest issue of the New Era refers to fairmormon and BookofMormonCentral (https://www.lds.org/new-era/2017/10/to-the-point?lang=eng), and as I’ve always said, both sites contain good material.
But you need to use extreme caution in referring to both sites because they are pushing a specific agenda that involves rejecting the words of the prophets and apostles.
FairMormon’s work is causing members of the Church to become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith in the Book of Mormon, just as Joseph Fielding Smith warned.
Here’s one example. On this page
they declare, “Church leaders have expressed a variety of opinions over the years regarding the location of the Hill Cumorah.”
Instead of the “variety of opinions” FairMormon wants their readers to believe, the modern prophets and apostles have been united and clear in affirming Oliver Cowdery’s teaching that it was a fact that the Hill Cumorah is in New York.
Look at how FairMormon deceives members of the Church by omitting the material that contradicts the FairMormon editorial position that promotes the Mesoamerican/two-Cumorahs theory.
Here’s their list of “Church leaders” supposedly expressing “a variety of opinions:”
- Marion G. Romney (1975): “As the conflict intensified, all the people who had not been slain—men…gathered about that hill Cumorah”
- Harold B. Lee (8 Jul 1966): “if the Lord wanted us to know where it was, or where Zarahemla was, he’d have given us latitude and longitude, don’t you think?”
- Paul R. Cheesman (Nov 1968): “There are those who believe that there are two Hill Cumorahs…Advocates of this theory establish their analysis primarily from the internal evidences of the Book of Mormon”
- Question: Did the First Presidency identify the New York “Hill Cumorah” as the site of the Nephite final battles?
- Question: Did Joseph Fielding Smith reject the theory that the final battlefield of the Book of Mormon took place in Mesoamerica rather than New York?
They list exactly one General Conference address, the one by President Romney of the First Presidency. We have to give them credit for that, at least, but they list it as an example of “an opinion.”
FairMormon’s overall editorial position is that any statement by the prophets and apostles that contradicts FairMormon’s beliefs is merely an “opinion” that can be rejected.
Notice how this list of statements by “Church leaders” specifically omits Letter VII, written by the ordained Assistant President of the Church and repeatedly endorsed by Joseph Smith. FairMormon omits General Conference addresses confirming Letter VII given by President Ivins and Elder Peterson. They omit statements from Brigham Young, Heber C. Kimball, Wilford Woodruff, and others.
All of these undisclosed statements by modern prophets and apostles are consistent and explicit about Cumorah being in New York.
Instead, FairMormon lists President Lee’s obscure comment out of context, because they know that in the actual talk, President Lee listed the two-Cumorahs theory among other false doctrines taught by seminary and institute teachers, as I’ve shown here: http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2017/10/fairmormons-famous-harold-b-lee.html
Next they list Paul R. Cheesman as a “Church leader.”
Next, they cite the phony fax to repudiate an official letter from the office of the First Presidency, which I’ve discussed here: http://bookofmormonwars.blogspot.com/2016/11/how-to-create-some-doctrine.html
Finally, they attack President Joseph Fielding Smith’s warning about the two-Cumorahs theory as merely his opinion and therefore something to be ignored. “These are not the droids you’re looking for.”
This final item on the list is especially audacious because they don’t even show readers what President Smith actually said.* Instead, they give readers two paragraphs of sophistry designed to encourage readers not to heed the words of the prophets and apostles.
There’s a lot more on FairMormon to discuss, but I’ll just mention this one.
On this page, they purport to show “Statements on Book of Mormon geography made during Joseph Smith’s lifetime: 1829-1840.” https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Book_of_Mormon/Geography/Statements/Nineteenth_century/Joseph_Smith%27s_lifetime_1829-1840
This one is framed as a comprehensive list, but notice that it omits Letter VII!
Well, not completely. I’ll explain below, after I show you FairMormon’s list:
- Observer and Telegraph (Nov 1830): “the Aborigines of America; who, as they affirm, are a part of the tribe of Manasseh, and whose ancestors landed on the coast of Chile”
- W. W. Phelps: Ruins in Central America “good testimony in favor of the Book of Mormon”
- American Revivalist (2 Feb 1833): “The Book of Mormon is a record of the forefathers of our western tribes of Indians”
- Evening and the Morning Star (March 1833): “The continent of America is a choice land above all others”
- Evening and the Morning Star (Jun 1833): “NO people that have lived on this continent, since the flood, understood many of the arts and sciences, better that the Jaredites and Nephites”
- Evening and the Morning Star (Jun 1833): “Lehi was guided by the matchless power of God to this continent”
- Question: Does the story of Zelph have implications for Book of Mormon geography?
- Joseph Smith (4 Jun 1834): “wandering over the plains of the Nephites”
- Eli Gilbert (24 Sep 1834): “was not the book of Mormon also written by men who were divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit, on the continent of America?”
- W.W. Phelps (Feb 1835): “The first one is where you sat day after day and wrote the history of the second race that inhabited this continent”
- Oliver Cowdery (Jul 1835): “A history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered to Europeans by Columbus”
- W.W. Phelps (Oct 1835): “the Indians, whose history and doings, upon this western continent, it unfolds as plainly”
- Joseph Smith (Nov 1835): “he said the indians were the literal descendants of Abraham”
- W.W. Phelps (Jan 1836): “The book of Mormon has made known who Israel is, upon this continent”
- William Smith (Jan 1837): “a remnant of the branches or seed of Joseph are represented as crossing the sea, and settling this continent of North and South America”
- Times and Seasons (Mar 1840): “The ancient events of America now stand revealed in the broad light of history, as far back, at least, as the first peopling of the continent after the flood”
- Joseph Smith (19 Jul 1840): “speaking of the Land of Zion, It consists of all North & South America”
- Parley P. Pratt (Aug 1840): “excavating in the neighbourhood of Bahia, in Brazil…bearing a strong architectural resemblance to the ruins existing in the northern parts of Norway, in Iceland, and in Greenland”
- Millennial Star (Sep 1840): “We learn these gentlemen will continue their journey, and after their visit to Palenque, will proceed to Mexico”
- Orson Pratt (1840): “they were marvellously brought across the great deep to the shores of North America”
If you look carefully, you’ll see the entry “Oliver Cowdery (Jul 1835). If you click on that link, you get not Letter VII entire, and not the passage in which he explains it is a fact that the final battles took place in the mile-wide valley west of the Hill Cumorah in New York. Instead, you get this:
Oliver Cowdery (Jul 1835): “A history of the inhabitants who peopled this continent, previous to its being discovered to Europeans by Columbus”
This is sophistry that should be admired by everyone who studies techniques of persuasion. If you want to mislead people, you can learn a lot from FairMormon.
I’ve discussed this page in detail here:
*FairMormon has finally put President Smith’s warning on its web page, but it immediately framed the warning as meaningless because of 50-year-old hearsay by a student who attended a BYU class by Sidney B. Sperry who supposedly claimed that President Smith told him he was entitled to his own opinion. Check it out for yourself:
So on one hand, we have an Apostle and Church Historian warning that the two-Cumorahs theory will cause members of the Church to become confused and greatly disturbed in their faith, and then, as President of the Quorum of the Twelve, repeating that same warning.
On the other hand, we have FairMormon teaching its readers that, based on anecdotal 50-year-old hearsay, “It seems clear, then, that Elder (later President) Smith did not regard his views as the product of revelation, nor did he regard it as illegitimate to have a different view of the matter.”
Source: Book of Mormon Wars