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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended September 03, 2000
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News about Mormons, Mormonism,
and the LDS Church
Sent on Mormon-News: 07Sep00

Summarized by Rosemary Pollock

FAIR Holds Second Annual Apologetics Symposium

ALTA, UTAH -- The Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) met recently in Alta, Utah to hold the group's second annual Mormon Apologetics Symposium. Daryl Barksdale, president of FAIR, states that his organization is committed to a Christ-like approach in defending and correcting any errors or misconceptions that are perpetuated on religious message boards on the World Wide Web. "Our mission is simply to address the issues themselves and not the personalities behind those who address those criticisms."

"I don't believe we take an adversarial stance. I think we go out of our way to try to avoid bashing or attacking another religion. Many of us focus on certain opponents of the church who, in fact, have established entire ministries with the sole purpose of challenging our beliefs," Barksdale said.

Speakers at the forum included Kerry Shirts, director of research, Mike Ash, who used the forum to present his research titled, "Up In Smoke," and Robert Vukich, a local telecommunications specialist. Shirts exposed the fallacies of one anti-Mormon scholar's reconstruction of the Egyptian papyri drawing that appears in the Book of Abraham as part of the Pearl of Great Price. Mike Ash challenged the criticism by anti-Mormons Gerald and Sandra Tanner on the Word of Wisdom.

Robert Vukich questioned whether the Tanners are "credible historians." He challenged Sandra Tanner's "editing" of material written by Lucy Mack Smith, mother of the prophet Joseph. Vukich is disturbed by the Tanner's characterizations of the Smiths and carries a photocopy of a passage from the Tanner's book in his pocket when he goes to Temple Square at General Conference, looking for critics of the church. "I try to be led by the spirit in trying to find anyone who is approachable," he said.

"The Tanners are almost worshipped in the anti-Mormon community for the volume of the garbage they have produced, rather than the quality of it," Vukich said. He adds, that when he points out the discrepancies to critics, no one is able to explain why the material is presented in such a way.

Juliann Reynolds, who is now a board member for FAIR, explained that her quest for information led her to her own spiritual discovery. "There is a need for LDS apologists to understand the methodologies and proper usages of source materials." She urged participants to do their homework and "connect the dots" rather than "plucking stuff out and putting it down in the middle of nowhere," Reynolds urged.

While the participants in FAIR have no official sanction from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Barksdale believes they are simply Latter-day Saints who believe they have a legitimate "mission" to defend the church. He does agree that leaders "tend to view an organization like ours as a loose cannon, but I think we've kept our noses clean, and we're doing a good job at what we're doing."


Apologists band together to defend LDS Church online, in print
Deseret News 2Sep00 N4
By Carrie A. Moore: Deseret News religion editor
They defend LDS beliefs and point out errors of critics


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