Response to the First Presidency on the charge of hatred

April 4, 2007

The First Presidency
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
50 East North Temple
Salt Lake City, UT 84150-0002

Dear Sirs,

As a Christian living in the Salt Lake Valley, I wish to express my indignation at your church’s tacit approval of the Anti-Defamation League’s accusation of hatred towards Christians who were involved in a recent DVD distribution. It is one thing to disagree with the content of the DVD, but it is quite another to accuse them of being motivated by hate. I will try to temper my outrage by asking the following questions:

  • How many people involved in the distribution did you actually speak to who exhibited hatred as their reason for participating?
  • What phrase or statement in the DVD resembled anything close to “hate speech”?
  • If there is no evidence that the participants were motivated by hatred, are you not guilty of bearing false witness when you make that accusation?
  • Isn’t it also duplicitous of you to make such an unfounded accusation of hatred and then retreat to your 177th General Conference to talk about forgiveness and speaking “with the (peaceful) voice of angels”? Jesus talked about such hypocrisy in Matthew 7:1ff.
  • You insist that the DVD did not include official sources. It did. However, if official sources really concern you, why did you hide behind an unofficial rebuttal? Why should anybody consider FAIR’s response authoritative since this organization claims it does not officially speak for the LDS Church? Why doesn’t the LDS Church have the courage to offer its own response?
  • LDS.org states, “When Latter-day Saint missionaries visit homes or engage others in conversation, they studiously avoid criticism of other faiths. They do not attack and they do not condemn” Are you really unaware that your present missionary manual clearly states on page 36, “Investigators must be told that a universal apostasy occurred following the death of Jesus and His Apostles. If there had been no apostasy, there would have been no need of a Restoration. As a diamond on black velvet appears more brilliant, so the restoration stands in striking contrast to the dark background of the Great Apostasy. As guided by the Spirit, teach investigators about the Great Apostasy at a level of detail appropriate to their needs and circumstance” (Preach My Gospel, p.36). Do you really not see the hypocrisy in this statement?
  • Over the years I have listened politely to numerous missionaries tell me about Joseph Smith’s alleged First Vision. Do you really think Christians such as I should not feel criticized when we are told that our churches are wrong, our creeds are an abomination, and that Christian “professors” are corrupt?
  • At your 177th General Conference, it was stated, “I know that heaven-sent revelations have replaced the gross errors of manmade doctrines concerning the Godhead.” Is this not a criticism directed at millions of Christians?
  • If the LDS Church had its people place information on doors in neighborhoods and Christians made a concerted effort to remove this information (as Mormons have bragged they did), wouldn’t that be called stealing? Why is it that the Mormons who did this do not see it as such?
  • If the Christian community responded to an evangelistic effort by the LDS Church with the loud, angry voices exhibited recently by Latter-day Saints, wouldn’t your members accuse the Christians of persecuting them? Why should these actions not be considered persecution against Christians?

Please bear in mind that I am not saying that Mormons do not have the right to believe whatever they wish; in fact, I have often strongly supported their right to do so. I would only ask that you, as leaders of this church, be honest with the media and the general public when it comes to the subject of criticism and the charge of hatred.

With all of the talk of repentance at your last conference, I think you need to lead by example and offer an apology to the thousands of Christians you have offended with this false accusation.

Sincerely,

Bill McKeever

Director, Mormonism Research Ministry