Scary Internet

Why does it matter whether information was received from a stranger, television, book, magazine, comic book, napkin, and yes, the internet? They are all mediums or conduits of information. It’s the information itself, its accuracy, and its relevance that matters. (Reread the quote. Elder Uchtdorf has no problem with the medium. His concern is with truth.)

Elder Neil L. Andersen made the following statement in the October 2014 General Conference specifically targeting the medium of the internet in a bizarre (This is a perfectly logical quote. It's bizarre to call this quote bizarre) attempt to discredit the internet as a reliable source for getting factual and truthful information:

We might remind the sincere inquirer that Internet information does not have a ‘truth’ filter. Some information, no matter how convincing, is simply not true.
UPDATE: Ironically, the only way for members to directly read the Church’s admissions and validations of yesterday’s “anti-Mormon lies” is by going on the internet to the Gospel Topics Essays section of the Church’s website. The essays and their presence on lds.org have disturbed and shocked many members – some to the point of even believing that the Church’s website has been hacked. (Being open about our history is a good thing. There is an element of irony here because elsewhere the CES Letter bashes the church for not being open)

With all this talk from General Authorities against the internet and daring to be balanced (they didn't say don't be balanced, they said to beware of misinformation. This is a straw-man.) by looking at what both defenders and critics are saying about the Church, it is as if questioning and researching and doubting is now the new pornography. (to the contrary: the apostle Hugh B. Brown referred to doubt as an apprenticeship on the path to belief)

Truth has no fear of the light. President George A. Smith said:

If a faith will not bear to be investigated; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.

A church that is afraid to let its people determine for themselves truth and falsehood in an open market is a church that is insecure and afraid of its own truth claims. (Yet another straw-man. Response from Jim Bennett, "It is also a church that bares no resemblance to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.")

Under Elder Cook’s counsel, FairMormon and unofficial LDS apologetic websites are anti-Mormon sources that should be avoided. Not only do they introduce to Mormons “internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases invent shortcoming of early Church leaders” but they provide asinine “faithful answers” with logical fallacies and omissions while leaving members confused and hanging with a bizarre version of Mormonism. (This is one of the more strange arguments in the letter. Each is entitled to their own opinion. I've found a lot of well-researched answers on FAIR and numerous logical fallacies in the CES Letter)

What about the disturbing information about early Church leaders and the Church which are not magnified, or exaggerated, or invented? What about the disturbing facts that didn’t come from the flat-earthers or moon-hologramers but instead from the Church itself? Are those facts invalid when someone discovers them on the internet?

What happens when a member comes across the Church’s Book of Mormon Translation essay where they learn – for the first time in their lives – that the Book of Mormon was not translated with gold plates as depicted in Sunday Schools, Ensigns, MTC, General Conference addresses, or Visitor Centers?

Or the Church’s Race and the Priesthood essay where yesterday’s prophets, seers, and revelators are thrown under the bus over their now disavowed “theories”?

Or the Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham essay and that the Book of Abraham and its facsimiles do not match what Joseph Smith translated?

Or the Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo essay where they learn the real origins of polygamy and the disturbing details of how Joseph practiced it? That Joseph was married to other living men’s wives and young girls as young as 14-years-old behind Emma’s back? That God sent an angel with a drawn sword threatening Joseph?

Or any of the other troubling essays, for that matter?

Is this member in need of repentance for discovering and being troubled by all the inconsistencies and deceptions? Why is the member required to repent for discovering verifiable facts and for coming to the same logical conclusion about the LDS Church’s dominant narrative that Mormon historian, scholar, and patriarch Richard Bushman did?

The dominant narrative is not true. It can’t be sustained.

— RICHARD BUSHMAN, LDS HISTORIAN, SCHOLAR, PATRIARCH, VIDEO

Most of the main information and facts that I discovered and confirmed online about the Church is now found from Church sources, Church-friendly sources, and neutral sources.

“And it is always good to keep in mind just because something is printed on paper, appears on the Internet, is frequently repeated or has a powerful group of followers doesn’t make it true.” Exactly - the exact same can be said of Mormonism and lds.org.


CES Letter, Pages 122-124

The Internet has the power to do immense good but it becomes “scary” to truth whenever it is used to promote misinformation, misrepresentation, half-truths, and falsehoods about the Church, its leaders and history.

Church leaders are asking members to use the internet "To Sweep the Earth as with a Flood," which directly contradicts The CES Letter's assertion. Click here

The Internet has given everyone their own pulpit either through articles, blogs, or comments. The number of voices now within listening range has multiplied immeasurably.

Truth can multiply on the Internet, but so can falsehoods. It is likely that the ratio of gospel truth-to-falsehoods found on the Internet will be determined by the belief and knowledge, the study and faith, of those using it.

The first generation of this world experienced the process of deception. “And Adam and Eve blessed the name of God, and they made all things known unto their sons and their daughters. And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish. (Moses 5:12–13.) We don’t know how Satan “commanded them.” Surely it wasn’t via electronic media, but the outcome was the same.

In Noah’s day the unrepentant argued with Noah that they were prospering so why would they need to repent using logic similar to Internet arguments today:

“And it came to pass that Noah called upon the children of men that they should repent; but they hearkened not unto his words; And also, after that they had heard him, they came up before him, saying: Behold, we are the sons of God; have we not taken unto ourselves the daughters of men? And are we not eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage? And our wives bear unto us children, and the same are mighty men, which are like unto men of old, men of great renown. And they hearkened not unto the words of Noah.” (Moses 8:20-21.)

This also was documented in the Book of Mormon.

3 Nephi 1:22: “And it came to pass that from this time forth there began to be lyings sent forth among the people, by Satan, to harden their hearts, to the intent that they might not believe in those signs and wonders which they had seen.”

3 Nephi 8:4: “And there began to be great doubtings and disputations among the people, notwithstanding so many signs had been given.”

The Internet is “scary” only as it promotes deception and falsehood. It can assist in the work of the Lord if used correctly.


Additional Resources:

Mormons on the Internet –  by Gregory H. Taggart

Mormonism on the Internet II –  by Gregory H. Taggart

Mormonism on the Internet: Now Everybody Has a Printing Press –  by Gregory H. Taggart 

Let Our Voices Be Heard - M. Russell Ballard

M. Russell Ballard delivers an address entitled "Women of Dedication, Faith, Determination, and Action."

“Women of Dedication, Faith, Determination, and Action” by Elder M. Russell Ballard

Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet - Ensign July 2008 by M. Russell Ballard
LDS Church Representative on Social Media

Sharing your Faith Online

Media Relations

Sharing the Gospel through Social Media

To All the World: Reinventing the Church’s Media Businesses –  by Mark H. Willes