Inoculation for Mormons Behaving Badly

Last June Dave Banack discussed the idea that LDS Church members should be inoculated for troubling LDS doctrinal and historical issues. I don’t think that idea has been completely explored, but I do think inoculation might be useful in one area where our (i.e., Mormon) sub-culture doesn’t use it: the news.

I’ve been told many times by members of the Church that they want to limit what they read, hear and see to that which is “uplifting.” And at least in terms of entertainment, General Authorities have given counsel along those lines. But I don’t understand how that can be extended to the news.

News is not entertainment. We shouldn’t pick and choose what news we consume based on what news we like. Doing so could easily leave us ignorant or ill-informed of what we should know and even more vulnerable to evil. We do need to know about gangs in our neighborhoods, pedophiles, and even about those con men to prey on LDS Church members — so that we can take precautions and so we can urge our governments to act as we want them to. In our Mormon sub-culture(s), don’t we deserve the kind of coverage that we get from local newspapers? Would anyone want the local news sources to exclude things just because we find them distasteful?

It is true that news reports on Mormonism often contain errors or are based on misconceptions, which may be one reason why we should have Mormon news outlets. Mormon news items are also often excluded from most news outlets for not being of interest to the broader community, or because they involve a community outside of the area that the news outlet covers. The rise of the Internet has led a number of Mormon news outlets to develop beyond the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune, which often end up excluding some Mormon news items because they don’t involve Utah. Now we also have outlets like the Mormon Times, Meridian Magazine, LDS Living, The Beehive, Desert Saints and the news efforts of many blogs here on the Bloggernacle. But still, “distasteful” news is often excluded from most of these publications.

Let me throw out some concrete examples of recent news items that might give some LDS Church members pause:

There are, of course, other incidents, perhaps less salacious, which would perhaps make us uncomfortable.

In theory, news stories about a Mormon or a group of Mormons behaving badly shouldn’t bother us. Just because Mormons do something wrong, doesn’t mean all Mormons do those things. When pressed, most people agree with this idea. Still, public perceptions aren’t based on logic and one additional Mormon behaving badly (MBB anyone?) does add something to their perceptions of Mormons.

On the other hand, not mentioning these issues feels like hiding from the truth. It doesn’t meet our conception of Mormonism or of its role in the world, so we ignore it expecting it to go away int he news cycle (as it will). or, we are paralyzed, not knowing how we can react—somehow thinking that if we don’t know what to do, it is better not to do anything. Or we label the story as “anti-mormon,” which allows us to dismiss it as not worth reading, reinforcing thus the persecution complex that is a part of Mormon culture.

I’m not looking here for explanations for the actions of these Mormons behaving badly or how they don’t represent the Church. We know that they don’t, and we repudiate their behavior. What I do want to know is how Mormon news outlets should react? Should they carry “distasteful” news items even though many Mormons don’t want to know things that aren’t “uplifting?” Can carrying these stories in a Mormon news outlet “inoculate” readers, so they aren’t surprised when the news comes up elsewhere or when their friends ask about them? And if these are published for Mormon readers, how should they be published?

44 comments for “Inoculation for Mormons Behaving Badly

  1. George
    April 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    If the goal is to give maximum play to any story that might be embarrasing or damaging to the Church, perhaps you should merge with the “Saints Alive in Jesus” website. It has already occupied that niche.

  2. Bob
    April 14, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    The Sugar Beet.

  3. H.Bob
    April 14, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Maybe a better approach would be to talk about why any of those stories were tagged with the “Mormon” moniker to begin with. In each of those stories, it’s shorthand for “someone who should have known better,” or, even shorter, “hypocrite.” We can point, of course, to stories about others in the news who do things like this and worse and their religious affiliation (or ethnicity, or immigration status, or sexual preference) is never mentioned. We hear about Mormons doing these things because the Mormons Behaving Badly meme is a quick way to juice up the interest in the story, especially in the Mormon corridor or the Mormon (or anti-Mormon) press.*
    Do we need to be inoculated against such things? I think anyone who’s been a member of the LDS Church for longer than a year probably will have figured out that Mormons do not always act as they should; that they do, in fact, have all of the same temptations and foibles as anyone else; and that while we tend to talk a good game, there are those out there who absolutely do not do as they’re supposed to. Does it sometimes seem, especially to someone reading the most-popular newspaper in Salt Lake, that there are an inordinate amount of Mormons Behaving Badly out there? Yes. Does that mean every reporter on a story in and around the Intermountain West should include the question “Was the suspect LDS?” I hope not. Because being honest should also include the questions (and the answers to them) “How active are/were they?” “Would you characterize them as believing Latter-day Saints?” “Does this seem out of character, or not?”
    Until that sort of thing gets asked (and reported), I don’t think merely identifying someone as Mormon does anything but perpetuate an incorrect meme. For instance–a young man on my elder’s quorum rolls (whom I have never seen in the three years I’ve lived in our ward) was recently jailed. The local papers dutifully reported that he was LDS, and the comments sections lit up, calling him a bad Mormon. Well, yeah–he was, but not just because he did something felonious. He’d been a bad Mormon for a while (and probably didn’t consider himself Mormon at all anymore). How is identifying a bad Mormon as a bad Mormon “inoculating”?
    *By “anti-Mormon,” I mean here press outlets whose MO includes running stories exactly like the ones above almost exclusively for the number of hits (in Internet stories) they will pull in (I’m looking at you,

  4. Jax
    April 14, 2011 at 4:57 pm


    I think the article about the stoning had a religious theme, so including his religion seemed to fit in. But other illegal activities don’t often require a reporting of the persons faith unless the perpetrator was a person of significance (a priest, a pastor, church leader).

    I don’t think we need inoculation, we just need good reporting. When a person(s) religion is a natural part of the story, don’t shield us, but if it isn’t, then don’t throw it in our faces.

  5. Chuck Whicker
    April 14, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    The mindset that I think we have errantly slipped into, in our religious culture, is the mindset that implies things negative to be unworthy of our attention. This is a mistaken attitude, and it is not according to the word of the Lord. It is upon this very principle, in fact, that the preaching of repentance has, in all ages, been rejected – the people considered those who were pointing out the apostasy of the day as being too negative. Look how negative the Doctrine and Covenants is, with all its prophecy and warning about the coming destruction and judgments, even those that are coming “first upon those who profess my name” (sec. 112) A person who can’t stand the negative will naturally want to disgard about 80 percent of the scriptures. Jesus was considered a very negative person because of his harsh words of judgment. He wasn’t just gentle and loving all the time, nor is any true servant of the Lord. A very interesting scripture to note (though there are literally thousands) is Enos verse 23, where Enos reveals the common, very negative method which the “many prophets” used in preaching repentance, to keep the people in the “fear of the Lord.” And these were people who were both hard working and missionary oriented! (see verses 20 and 21). In contrast to this, the only professed servant of the Lord I’ve found, in scripture, who was careful to be only positive in his preaching, is Nehor the antichrist. (see Alma 1:4). We are instructed to “preach nothing but repentance unto this generation” – and that sets kind of a negative tone, don’t you think?– because, the very idea of preaching repentance means pointing out the things that are wrong, things that are a departure from the covenant. You see, with negative preaching like this, what ends up happening is that it separates the meek from the rebellious; because the meek simply are not offended by it. “The guilty taketh the truth to be hard” because the truth is, essentially, negative from the perspective of the rebellious. All this is why I don’t trust today’s church leadership, for the most part. It seems to me they’ve all become a culture of Nehors, like the Zoramites, all hep on keeping purely positive. It is unbalanced. I liked old Brigham a lot better. It all ends up feeling like they are flattering the people, rather than preaching “nothing but repentance” as the Lord directs. Their priority seems to be making the people feel comfortable, righteous, and cherished; which to me equates to seeking to be “popular”, which is Nehor’s specific philosophy (see Alma 1:3). Keep in mind that Lucifer’s entire tactic, and rebellion against the Father, was that he hated to be negative, and therefore he wanted salvation to be offered to all, without merit and without judgment. These are important scriptural patterns, in my view, for discerning the spirit that seems to be governing the church today.

  6. JT
    April 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    “On the other hand, not mentioning these issues feels like hiding from the truth.”

    No more than not mentioning what I did today. The only thing that would not make it honest is if it would have been reported on had it been anyone else, but was being tucked away because it involved a Mormon. Usually that’s not the case; in fact, usually things are more likely to show up in the news if a Mormon was involved (along with the identification that the person was a Mormon).

  7. Bob
    April 14, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    @ H.Bob: “I don’t think merely identifying someone as Mormon does anything but perpetuate an incorrect meme”.
    “Major League Mormons”. Kent just wrote this Post__should he have??.

  8. April 14, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Nice post, Kent. I think many Mormons have unwittingly adopted a PR-infused view of the news which values good news stories about Latter-day Saints and shuns bad news stories.

    There is also the sense that an LDS connection always seems to be considered relevant in a bad news story, whereas other religious connections do not. No Protestant feels like a perp’s Protestant religious affiliation is anything but coincidental (that’s assuming a perp’s Methodist or Lutheran affiliation is even mentioned in a news report), yet the same Protestant nods knowingly if a perp is a labelled a Mormon.

  9. Steve
    April 14, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    I can think of two areas where this attitude is particularly harmful:

    * Not focusing on Mormon-intertwined financial scams. In Eastern Idaho there was a fellow who took $58 million from the community in a ponzi scheme. He was the EQ president and used his church affiliation heavily — his office had pictures of prophets and temples. The LDS population needs to know that anyone who mixes religion and business should be feared, not embraced. Yet, the LDS-tied media generally ignores these stories.

    * Multi-level schemes are rampant in the LDS community. Many are Utah or Mormon-country based. Many of the networks are driven through church ties. Yet, we rarely, if ever, see stories in the Mormon media denounces Noni juice or Nuskin, etc.

  10. Jax
    April 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    Steve I’ve actually seen client lists drawn up on old family pedigree charts for these schemes….wish people would do more to out them from amongst us, but they don’t because of the lure of quick wealth (IMO). This kind of thing I would LOVE to see more coverage of, but with Joe Blow criminal not so much. Too often the tag is thrown in at the end of the report and it feels like a “neener neener neener…you aren’t so good after all…” kind of a thing from the press. If the religion plays a role in the crime, then report it, but otherwise leave it out.

  11. April 14, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    Hmmm. The first comments seem to have missed the point. They want to blame the reporters for including Mormonism in the articles, suggesting that they should not have.

    That is not relevant to the questions. The situation we are given is one in which the articles ALREADY have brought Mormonism into the issue.

    So, how do you react? Do you simply blame the reporter? Won’t that just sound like sour grapes?

    IMO, blaming the reporting gets you nowhere.

  12. April 14, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    Jax (4), I disagree that Mormonism is irrelevant in the Brock case at least. Brock used her LDS Church connections to seduce the teenager. The teenager was a member of her ward, she gave him a Temple photograph as a present. When the allegations first surfaced, both the teenager and his family and the Brocks met with their Bishop. All this came out at trial. How could a reporter not include this information in his report?

    As far as the home invasion case, I believe Mormonism became relevant because the perpetrator brought it up in his defense.

  13. April 14, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    I think it’s better that we know what’s going on and what people say about us and our fellow members. Just take it as it comes and not too seriously for good or ill as we all struggle on the road to sanctification. I live in Utah and subscribe to both the D-News and the Trib because I don’t really trust either one but synthesize the information with a lot of other stuff I read or hear (like on these blogs). I don’t take anything too seriously beyond the basic principles I have committed to live. They give me enough trouble.

    The idea of only reading news that is “uplifting” rather troubles me. I don’t know or maybe just am not aware of any people like that. Besides, where do you even find that kind of news? Even the D-News is fairly depressing. Or maybe that’s just me.

  14. April 15, 2011 at 12:33 am

    JT (6) wrote:

    The only thing that would not make it honest is if it would have been reported on had it been anyone else, but was being tucked away because it involved a Mormon. Usually that’s not the case; in fact, usually things are more likely to show up in the news if a Mormon was involved (along with the identification that the person was a Mormon).

    Oh, I don’t know that we can say this is true. I’ve never seen any study done to show that this is the case. I look at a lot of news articles every day, and it doesn’t appear to me that Mormons are any more likely to get noticed in that way.

    Ask yourself this question: “How did the reporter know that the person is Mormon?” Do you think the reporter goes around asking if the person is Mormon and doesn’t ask if the person is some other religion?

    In most cases I suspect the information came up because the subject brought it up himself or because a prior news report made it clear. That doesn’t necessarily make it relevant by itself, but you have to wonder if that doesn’t bring it fairly close to relevant!

  15. Jax
    April 15, 2011 at 7:18 am


    Sorry, I missed the Brock case. It definitely fits the criteria I would use for including the religious affiliation.

    Back to your point, about the situation where the religion has already been brought into the news cycle, I again don’t want to be shielded by LDS news sources for the actions of our members. But I wouldn’t want them to report things with no religious affiliation either. So I would expect to hear about the stoning by the church member and the use of church position to lure a youth into a sexual relationship – both relevant and newsworthy despite their repulsiveness. But wouldn’t care to hear about every robbbery, fraud, etc., just because the suspect is LDS.

  16. WillF
    April 15, 2011 at 9:45 am

    similar case:

    The article makes it seem like famous people have only good to say about us.

  17. ji
    April 15, 2011 at 9:59 am

    “News is not entertainment.”

    Yes it is, if by news we mean the television newscasts.

  18. George
    April 15, 2011 at 10:11 am

    “News is not entertainment.”

    Actually, news is mostly entertainment. It is formulaic melodrama with a stock cast of villians and heroes. Mormons have been cast in the role of the villian (Boo! Hiss!).

    Let me give you one example. Child molestation is a fairly common event in the public schools. We have had several cases in the small city where I live. Most recently, a female PE teacher was sleeping with most of the football team. She was fired but got off with a misdemeanor. A couple of years back, there was a similar case involving another coach involving several high school girls. He was also fired but not prosecuted and is now teaching in another district. We have also had a number fondling incidents in the elementary schools. These cases got little attention, even in the local press, let alone nationally. Why? Because the press corps has a strong sentimental attachment to the public schools. Just imagine what would have been made of this if these events had involved the Church, or any church for that matter.

    In other words, the press is mostly out to entertain, to titillate. It reports the news that fits into its preconceived narrative and the public likes it that way. But why should we buy into it?

  19. April 15, 2011 at 10:30 am

    i agree with ji – these days, there is SO much news that is complete entertainment. It is hard for me to take much of it seriously.

    however, as far as your post, I think that if the crime has to do with religion, then, sure mentioning that the perpetrator is a Mormon is important. And I agree, we shouldn’t shy away from the facts.

    I have also found it interesting – some people get most offended by Mormonism being brought up in a negative news story, but they have no issue whatsoever when news is being reported about another church – Catholic Priests/ pedophilia for example. As long as people are human, no church is exempt from having negative associations.

  20. H.Bob
    April 15, 2011 at 11:15 am

    Bob (#7)–that’s an interesting question. Should we make lists of important or celebrity Mormons? Those sorts of lists are usually only interesting to me if there’s some more depth to the reporting. It’s one thing to say so-and-so was raised Mormon and plays second base for the Twins; it’s much more interesting to read a story about how that second baseman reconciles his Mormon upbringing with his current profession, which required him at the outset to make a decision about Sunday play, for example.

    By the same token, if we’re reading about Mormons Behaving Badly, it’s more interesting (to me at least), and more intellectually honest, to give some background if you’re identifying the religion of someone accused of a crime. For example, the recently concluded saga of two young men who BASE jumped off the Church Office Building–this was a story made for Kent’s OP.

    One of the young men was identified (consistently) in the Deseret News as “Hartman Rector”; in the SL Tribune, as “Hartman Rector III,” and subsequently as “the son of a General Authority.” The Deseret News, it seems to me, was conflicted about this story. Do you air a GA’s laundry for the world to see? But, and also: Do you make sure the story gets out that anyone attempting to BASE jump off the COB gets swift and sure justice? I think they hedged on both, and it made for weaker journalism. The Trib’s coverage was more nuanced–it became pretty clear early on that the GA’s son was there mainly to gain access for the more experienced BASE jumper, and they were tried separately. And, in the comment section, the consensus was mainly that BASE jumping is a victimless crime, and isn’t that embarrassing for the LDS Church that a GA’s son would do something like that?

    In this case, the Mormonness of the individual involved is relevant, and necessary to understand some of what’s going on in the background. That the DesNews watered down their stories (in my opinion), was a shame.

  21. April 15, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Real news is not entertainment.

    I know that television seems to want to make it entertainment. That’s why I don’t watch TV news.

  22. April 15, 2011 at 11:32 am

    H. Bob (19), I think this is what the op is getting at — we need to figure out how to report relevant news, even when it is distasteful.

    At least the first two of the three articles listed in the op are clearly relevant—so how should we cover them?

  23. April 15, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    I have long harped on the Mormon niceness phenomenon. In a nutshell, I think ignoring evil perpetuates it. So, yes yes yes to accepting bad news and doing what we can to change things.

    What comprises “Mormon news outlets”? I can only think of the church newsroom. I hardly think their purpose is to cover Mormons that get arrested.

    …we need to figure out how to report relevant news, even when it is distasteful.

    I’m not sure I see the need, since “reporting relevant news” isn’t my job or my goal in any sphere. Like a commenter above, I see reporting the Mormonness of a criminal to usually be little more than religious bigotry. I lived in Boca Raton for a decade. Majority Jewish. Never once did I see a news report that identified a criminal as Jewish — or any other religion for that matter, unless specifically relevant to the story (as one of your examples). I have seen dozens identify Mormons in my time. Granted, I’m probably more sensitive to the LDS references, but I have tried to notice that for the past 20+ years and still don’t see it.

    But if you really want some help, here’s a guy who (with his wife — ahem, his real wife (Erin), not the one he committed bigamy with (Elizabeth)) was a very close friend of ours for years and years, Jeff Mowen, who was just convicted of running an $18 million ponzi scheme. Oh, and he tried to arrange the murders of four of his former investors/witnesses. Neato.

    Jeff served a mission. He was the executive secretary in a ward where Sam was in the bishopric. He helped bless our babies (those born in Utah before we moved to Florida). We celebrated many a birthday together. We have numerous happy, smiling photos with him and his family.

    The last time we talked to him was in late 1998 — when we hired him to do some work for our company, flew him to Florida, and he proceeded to try to scam us. He didn’t succeed.

    I consider my part in exposing MBB done. The end.

  24. April 15, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    I’ve never figured out why they make such a big deal about BASE jumping myself.

    Alison, typically in Utah the criminals aren’t identified as Mormon either although typically they are. (Almost always inactive – but there are lot of prominent ones where they aren’t)

    I fully agree that ignoring evil perpetuates it. But I’m somewhat sympathetic. I just can’t listen to child abuse news. It makes me so angry it’s really hard to control. Angry at the perpetrators. Angry at those idiots around the crime who should have known but did nothing. I get so angry I’ve just made a decision not to watch that sort of thing. I already know it is there and knowing the details of the latest incident really doesn’t increase my awareness. I honestly just can’t understand why my wife, for example, will watch things like Oprah or Dr. Phil where the whole show is often about that sort of thing. (Not necessarily abuse but some sort of major dysfunction)

    The problem I have with many isn’t the not wanting to swim in such information. Rather it is the fictional celestial kingdom they’ve created merely with denial. And that most emphatically allows the devils to flourish.

  25. Julie M. Smith
    April 15, 2011 at 3:13 pm

    “In a nutshell, I think ignoring evil perpetuates it. . . .

    I’m not sure I see the need, since “reporting relevant news” isn’t my job or my goal in any sphere.”

    Agreed with the first part. As for the second, there might be teaching opportunities:

    (1) when we teach all of those ‘being good stewards of our resources’ or ‘financial preparedness’ lessons, we could mention affinity fraud.

    (2) We can stop presenting lessons that sound as if the righteous deserve to be and will be wealthy. Or that the wealthy are righteous. This sets people up for financial fraud, I think.

    (3) when we talk about the body of the Saints, we could mention that there is a colon.

  26. April 15, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    when we talk about the body of the Saints, we could mention that there is a colon.

    I tried to record that on the Niblets thread at Bloggernacle Times, but they seem to have closed comments.

  27. April 15, 2011 at 9:01 pm

    Allison wrote:

    What comprises “Mormon news outlets”?

    I gave a list in the op:

    “outlets like the Mormon Times, Meridian Magazine, LDS Living, The Beehive, Desert Saints and the news efforts of many blogs here on the Bloggernacle.”

    Of course, the news efforts here on the Bloggernacle generally don’t leave the “negative” stuff out.

  28. April 17, 2011 at 1:28 am

    Clark, agreed. I haven’t watched Oprah in about two decades when I had an Oprah epiphany. And I’ve never seen Dr. Phil once. That kind of “news” is more or less just peeping into someone’s window, I guess. There isn’t anything you can do. I should have clarified that I’m talking about the evil within our so-called “circle of influence.” I think that’s often bigger than we think it is, but spending excess amounts of time viewing negative stuff isn’t usually helpful.

    Love your last paragraph.

    Julie, I completely agree. 100%. I haven’t heard/seen the wealth = righteousness implication in a number of years, but I certainly know what you mean. That’s not a pretty thing. And #3 had me bursting out enough that my kids wondered about it. hah!

    My point wasn’t to avoid addressing bad stuff. I just personally don’t see figuring out how to report Mormon criminals as something I need or want to focus on.

    Kent, thanks for clarifying. I didn’t understand that you were listing those as NEWS outlets. Again, though, I think it’s focus. I don’t think of those resources as “news” outlets in the sense we generally mean hard news. More of information sites or uplifting sites or something.

    I used to write for Meridian (I was one of the original Circle of Sisters). Each writer had a specific columns s/he wrote. Generally speaking, the site’s purpose simply wasn’t about exposing MBB although such might come up on occasion. I’m not familiar with all those other sites, but I suspect the motivation is similar. They post what fits their purpose.

    Interesting stuff. :)

  29. Stephen Hardy
    April 18, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    So, here is a recent real-life situation:

    Our ward, based in France, had a temple trip to our temple, the Frankfurt Temple, just two weeks ago. I was asked to drive, and (sort of happily) did so. I wasn’t excited about driving on the autobahn in a full mini-van. Still, I did it, and it was a good experience.

    Along the way back, one of the members asked me this question. (Let me set the table properly here. There were five people in the vehicle besides me. All, except me, are converts: two were adults going to the temple on “partial” recommends to do baptisms, and three were active recommend-holding members. Of these three, one was Algerian (a Muslim convert,) one was French, and one was Mexican (a returned missionary). This is typical of our ward in two ways: very diverse, and totally dominated by converts.)

    The member from Mexico asked me this: “I heard that Brigham Young ordered the massacre of many people who were migrating through Utah. Is this true? Why did he do that?”

    The car was completely silent as I made my way through my answer. No-one in the car had heard of such a thing except the inquiring member who had clearly heard something. So, in my quarter-fluent french, and their half-fluent english I tried to explain what I understood. It was, for me, an almost horrific experience, because I am not an expert on the Mountains Meadows Massacre, and I haven’t read much about it for some years, although I read Juanita Brook’s book in college (decades!, ago). My response left me sort of depressed and troubled the rest of the evening, as I wasn’t sure I had been thorough (It was clear to me that at least one member (the woman from Algeria) was going to look it up on the internet that night.) and I wasn’t sure if I had been properly “positive” about our church. Just what does one bear testimony of in this instance?

    Just a little snippet of experience, showing that we need to be prepared to discuss our warts.

  30. April 18, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    @Stephan Hardy. I actually thought about bringing up Mountain Meadows earlier in this chain but now I guess I have to. I would highly recommend the Walker/Turley/Leanard book, Amazon link below. I would recommend it not only to someone interested in the story or needing to understand to be able to explain in response to someone’s questions, but if I had my way, the book would be required reading for every member of the church.

    I think we bear testimony that in spite of horrible evil in the hearts of ALL men (and women), we still have the opportunity of choice and the only way to ever hope to remove evil from our hearts is through the atonement of Jesus Christ and constant choosing to follow Him.

  31. Ben S
    April 18, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Stephen #28- Does this mean the MMM Ensign article of September last year was NOT translated and sent out worldwide? Or did they not connect that with the question that was asked?

  32. chris
    April 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Kent – I’d just say my own point of view. I have a limited amount of time in the day. I can spend that limited amount of time doing things that draw me closer to Christ, or not. When I made a covenant to consecrate my own life to holy purposes, I do not personally feel I am measuring up to the covenant by consuming sensationalist news. This does not mean that I am not well-read in various areas of what’s happening in the day. But to portray the news as an important educational vehicle in an eternal way is a stretch. You could just as well argue that we all must watch movies and participate in various pop-culture things so we can understand the things of the world.

    I don’t buy that market-research-driven understanding of life. I think my time is better suited to following Christ. I fail at this a lot…but I certainly don’t want to excuse myself and hold up the times I spend on pop-culture-esque distractions (to me this is what 98% of most “news” I see out there is) as important in drawing me nearer to Christ.

  33. Stephen Hardy
    April 19, 2011 at 1:14 am

    Ben S:

    I don’t know the answers to any of your questions. I moved here in November, so I didn’t see that issue of the Liahona, the church magazine last September. Was it 2010? Also, I don’t know how many members here subscribe to it. Again, they all told me that they had never heard of such an event.

    I think that we have been talking about inoculating our kids. But this brings up the issue of inoculation for our new members. I am old enough that I served my mission before 1978. (In fact, I completed my mission in 1978.) Anyway, I was sort of surprised then that the church didn’t include anything about our Priesthood policy in the discussions and new member lessons. I remember a few members leaving the church after they learned about the policy. Perhaps they would have left anyway. But I wondered then: How were members to know? How about today? What ought new members from Algeria know about polygamy, priesthood history, MMM, etc, etc.

  34. Stephen Hardy
    April 19, 2011 at 7:05 am

    So, I did a quick search. As far as I can tell, the article in the 2007 Ensign on the MMM was never in the Liahona. Also, the news story about President Hinkley dedicating the MMM Memorial was also not carried in the Liahona (as far as I could tell.) It appears that it is felt that this is a U.S/Canada story only.

  35. April 19, 2011 at 7:15 am

    I forgot about that Turley article in the Ensign which adequately covers the ground. However, I did a search of the Liahona in Portuguese and didn’t see anything relating to Mountain Meadows either. So it must have just been in the English version.

  36. April 19, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Chris (31) wrote:

    I have a limited amount of time in the day. I can spend that limited amount of time doing things that draw me closer to Christ, or not.

    I don’t think I am, or anyone else here, is suggesting anything about how you use your time. This isn’t about how you use your time. It is about what should be available to members of the Church. Shouldn’t someone make these news stories available to Church members?

    I do not personally feel I am measuring up to the covenant by consuming sensationalist news.

    I’m afraid you will need to define “sensationalist news” and tell us why you think that this post is talking about “sensationalist news”

    This does not mean that I am not well-read in various areas of what’s happening in the day. But to portray the news as an important educational vehicle in an eternal way is a stretch.

    Again you seem to be jumping to something that is NOT said in the op. No one said that this news is “an important educational vehicle in an eternal way.” I do think that this news can be important socially — in how we get along with our neighbors.

    For example, I follow the basics of some sports (basketball and football) just because I want to know so that I can more easily interact with my friends. I’m not a fan of those sports at all (I am a fan of other sports, just not these).

    I think it is important for Mormon news outlets to carry this kind of news simply because we, Church members, need to be able to effectively interact with others, both in shoring up those whose testimonies may be adversly affected by this news, and to be able to discuss this news with non-Members.

  37. April 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    I personally get depressed if I view too much news, and sometimes go on news sabbaticals. News indubitably focuses on the bad things that happen, and has much less about the good, probably because much of the good is rather boring, e.g. “Local mom feeds kids good nutrition on a budget.”

    So some of the LDS themed magazines and things focus a lot on good stuff. I think that’s a wonderful idea and I’m glad that happens. We seek out everything that’s lovely and of good report, right? I don’t think it’s important to highlight bad things, though pointing out the nature of affinity crimes and giving other such warnings make sense in the right context, as noted above.

    I do limit my own consumption of ugly news in some ways. If it’s an individual situation, something bad that one person did or a horror one person experienced, I note the headline and move on. I try not to research the details because there’s nothing I can do about it. There’s no good that can come from me focusing on that. When it’s news about public policy or news about bad experiences of a whole segment of our people, such as multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis among the inner city poor in New York, or something like that then I pay attention and try to find out what’s going on and learn about the best way to ameliorate that situation. So I try to pay attention to general rules and not read about the latest case of child abuse or the rape and murder of a lovely young woman, etc. I try to limit the trauma of empathy I feel to cases where I can actually do something to help.

    As for realizing that the LDS are imperfect people who make mistakes and have personal problems just like anyone else, that just seems obvious. I know I hope and wish Mormons were different, were immune to such things, but we aren’t. Some of us are trying hard to make the best choices, and I’m glad to know that; I’m glad to be part of that. But I’m not sure it fills a needed purpose to go out of our way to inoculate people with the idea that some Mormons make mistakes and don’t live up to the high standards we set. Doesn’t everyone know that already? Is it possible to think otherwise?

  38. Josh K.
    April 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm

    “Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.” – Paulo Friere

    I think that many Mormon news outlets realize that we can turn to just about any other news outlet, from CNN to MSNBC and everything else on the Internet. We’re bombarded with it from all sides, really. I feel it appropriate for certain LDS news outlets to provide a “calm in the storm,” so to speak. Church News, the insert in the Daily Herald, is an example of such.

    I think the problem being discussed is a local-to-Utah issue for the most part. The local press does have quite a bias to them, from extremely conservative to middle of the road conservative. ;) the problem is the willful ignorance of the reader to take in news from multiple sources, balancing the stream of information. And that, dear friends, is not just a Mormon thing. Look at everyone who ONLY watches FoxNews to the exclusion of all others, for instance. Some people just want to limit their world view, and while unfortunate, is well within their agency to do so.

    In this way, ignorance begets ignorance. The best way to combat this is to a) lead a life of example, and b) emphasize critical thinking approaches at home with your children.

  39. April 21, 2011 at 7:14 pm

    Josh K. wrote:

    “I think that many Mormon news outlets realize that we can turn to just about any other news outlet, from CNN to MSNBC and everything else on the Internet.”

    If they think this, then that is a cop out. Just because we get news that covers people behaving badly doesn’t mean we get news of Mormons behaving badly. We need the latter because we are Mormon. We need the latter because we need to know how to respond to those who criticize Mormons because of what these Mormons do.

    I think you are looking only at the number of news items that focus on people behaving badly, not those on Mormons behaving badly. The latter are usually difficult to find, and the coverage is inconsistent — mentioning Mormonism sometimes only in one story (of a string of stories during the life of the news) because that is the only time that Mormonism happens to be relevant.

    FWIW, NONE of the news items I mentioned in the op were reported in Utah. Part of the problem is precisely the local nature of this coverage — its not in Utah so local newspapers in Utah (like the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune) don’t cover these. These stories are also not national news, so national news sources don’t cover them. But, IMO, they are Mormon stories, so Mormon news sources should carry them.

    Now, if these Mormon news sources don’t consider themselves news sources, but entertainment or “inspirational,” then it makes sense that they don’t carry this news. If so, then perhaps we don’t even have any Mormon news source.

  40. Jax
    April 21, 2011 at 7:42 pm


    It seems the vacuum is there for you to start up a mormon news outlet. Go for it!

  41. April 22, 2011 at 1:48 am

    Tried it once. I won’t go it alone again.

  42. psychochemiker
    April 26, 2011 at 10:43 am

    I think that anyone who really expects any news agency to be free of bias is stupider than fundamentalists who literally believe everything in the Bible to have been written by the finger of God, because they should know better.

    The myth of “good news” makes me laugh in my laboratory…

    Good on you, Tatiana, for recognizing that you have control over the the things that you take into your soul and for recognizing that they have an affect on your spirituality and happiness.

  43. Jax
    April 26, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    Don’t really have a thread to post this in, but I thought it nice to share on T&S and would love someone to post a OP on it.

    When asked what the church’s position was on a subject, President Lee answered “The Church? The Church? What is the Church? And what difference does it makewhether the Church takes a position on anything or not. The important thing is that God has taken a position on everything and it is up to you to figure out what it is”

  44. Last Lemming
    April 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm

    Although not as disturbing as the examples listed in the OP, it might be useful for people to know that Bryce Harper apparently will not be much of an ambassador for the Church in professional baseball.

    The money quote: “It’s impossible to find any talent evaluator who isn’t blown away by Harper’s ability on the field, but it’s equally difficult to find one who doesn’t genuinely dislike the kid.”

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