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
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