Monday, December 7, 2015

Further Comments on John Dehlin's interview with Bill Reel

After reading my previous post, a friend pointed out that another reason apologists have tended to turn down John Dehlin's invitations to be interviewed is that he engages in ad hominem (the very thing he believes apologists do). A prime example is the treatment of Brian Hales in the episode currently under discussion. He also pointed out that John never learns anything from his guests - he's always starting from scratch with the same old criticisms, which have already been asked and answered repeatedly over the years in his podcasts.

Something I hinted at in my earlier post on this topic is that John Dehlin does not typically let comments get posted that he does not agree with. Bill Reel posted on a forum that he's been getting "overwhelmingly positive feedback" on this podcast. He may not realize that it is at least partly because Dehlin makes it so.

Bill Reel also stated on a forum (different than the one mentioned above) that "there is a 'whistleblower' of sorts in Fair's top leadership." He appears to be referring to this blog and insinuating that a member of the top leadership of FairMormon believes the organization is behaving in a way that is wrong. This is totally incorrect. I am neither a member of FairMormon's "top leadership" (although I am involved as a lower-level manager), nor do I believe FairMormon is doing or has done anything wrong. My purpose here was to explain - in an unofficial capacity - my understanding of what happened and why I believe the way it was explained in the Mormon Stories episode was incorrect.

Bill also said, "I requested specifically (with good reason) they take my audio down and not use it (audio podcasts only). They refused and said they wouldn't as it helps people. So it is neither true that I requested all things with my persona be removed nor that My material on Fair was hurting the faith of others."

At the time of the e-mails that Bill is referring to, it is correct that it was felt that his material that was on the FairMormon website was helping people. This later changed, however, and when it was felt that the implied endorsement was doing more harm than good, based on the discussion in the e-mails of removing or altering his podcasts, I believe that it would be reasonable to expect that such might be done to any and all material involving him.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Comments on John Dehlin's interview with Bill Reel

I attempted to post these comments on the Mormon Stories website earlier today, but as I expected based on previous experience, they did not survive the moderation queue.

Responding to someone comparing the editing/removal of Bill's material to the editing of Elder Poelman's talk given in 1984:

Elder Poelman actually rewrote his own talk after realizing how it might be used by fundamentalists. You can see the real story here. And Bill Reel actually requested that his material be removed, and then later suggested that it might be modified as necessary. Neither of these things were done until later, so he may have forgotten, but he was clearly OK with these things happening at the time he parted ways with FairMormon.

And then in response to the podcast in general (with some additional information added):

If I may make a few clarifications, the reason that you have difficulty getting apologists on your podcast is not that they can't "defend the indefensible," but that they don't want to attract further attention or lend credibility to a podcast series that tends to damage faith. Bill Reel himself said in his first interview that he was attracted to Mormon Stories by the interviews with Bushman and/or Givens, if I remember correctly.

And the reason why the FairMormon Support Board was shut down is that there were a few individuals (including Bill Reel) that were repeatedly shepherding people in the wrong direction, and there was not sufficient manpower to effectively moderate it. It was determined that it was not doing what it was intended for, and so a new site is being worked on with a different format that should work better.

I already mentioned in an earlier comment that Bill himself asked that his material be removed or edited at the time that he parted ways with FairMormon. This was not done immediately, but his activities eventually crossed a line. As explained on the FairMormon Blog:
Many of our volunteers contribute content in other venues, such as on personal blogs, in scholarly publications, and in podcasts. When a current or former FairMormon volunteer publishes views that contradict the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or accuses Church leaders of wrongdoing, malicious intent, and so forth, it may become confusing or harmful to FairMormon’s audience, and contrary to FairMormon’s mission, to maintain that volunteer’s content on our website. Because FairMormon is a trusted entity for many Latter-day Saints and sincere investigators, FairMormon must avoid endorsing external content that opposes our mission and the Church’s values.

FairMormon is constantly accused of ad hominem, but when asked for examples, the accuser always comes up short. Some time ago, John Dehlin even asked for examples on Facebook, and as I recall the only thing that anyone was able to come up with was an acrostic in an article for the Review of Books on the Book of Mormon (which was published by a different organization).