Mormon Apologists Strive for Objectivity Says President of FAIR

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President of FAIR explained the history and purpose of the most prominent Mormon apologetics organization

Scott Gordon, President of FAIR

“We decided that FAIR was there to provide information and not to debate.”

Before Youtube, before podcasts, before blogging and before, Google, there was FAIR. Scott Gordon, President of FAIR, addressed the Mormonism and the Internet conference at Utah Valley University on Thursday and explained the history and purpose of the most prominent Mormon apologetics organization. The conference was organized to address the evolving concepts of Mormon identity and community in the digital age.

Gordon explained that FAIR started out on the American Online Message boards where people came to ask questions about Mormonism. “It was an open message board that attracted both believers and non-believers and that made it interesting.” However, discussion sometimes devolved into debate. And FAIR’s position on the issues was sometimes difficult to discern as all variety of posters were being viewed as representing the official position of FAIR. It was therefore decided that a change needed to be made. “We decided that FAIR was there to provide information and not to debate.”

Over the years, it evolved into a multi-faceted organization with an annual conference, a Wiki at fairmormon.org, a YouTube channel, a blog and FAIR’s award-winning podcast that are found at fairblog.org, and FAIR has published books and videos explaining difficult issues and defending the Church. FAIR’s newest venture is found at MormonVoices.org. “While FAIR’s writings are directed internally to members of the Church, MormonVoices attempts to interact with the non-Mormon press,” Gordon explained.

In responding to criticism that FAIR is simply a group of very conservative members, who are either paid apologists for the Church or write very biased and one-sided articles, Gordon clarified that FAIR is made up of volunteers who come from a variety of backgrounds: “We have Republicans, Democrats, libertarians, socialists, members with same sex attraction, Ex-FLDS, Ex-anti-Mormons, and for a while we even had one Catholic.”

“I will admit we have a bias,” Gordon said, explaining that FAIR members believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is really the ancient Church of Jesus Christ restored in the latter days through Joseph Smith. However, he further explained that in defending the Church, FAIR members strive for an objective approach to the evidence and answers based in the best scholarship available.

When asked by an audience member if apologists really understand the experiences of those who are struggling with their faith, or who have left the Church, Gordon noted that many members of FAIR have family members and friends who have left the church, and some FAIR members themselves have lost their faith and then returned to the Church.

Gordon acknowledged that he has even struggled with various issues in the past. He invoked the story of the twelve disciples of Jesus who refused to leave Christ’s side even after others were offended by Christ’s doctrine and left. Christ asked if the twelve would also leave, and Peter said “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” Gordon concluded by saying, “Within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I find the words of eternal life.”

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