Thursday, August 16, 2018

Doubters' and Dissidents' True Colors Shining Through

            President Russell M. Nelson, the Prophet of the Lord on the earth right now, just shared a revelation from Jesus the Christ with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (His Church) and the public. The prophet used unmistakably direct wording: “The Lord has impressed upon my mind….” Having so acted in his prophetic office, and given this revelation for the Church of Jesus Christ to the Church of Jesus Christ, a number of people who want to be seen as insightful commentators have now commentated. And their (anything-but-insightful) comments have shown all of us where they stand.

            A reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune, who can be consistently counted on to get her story filler from doubters and dissidents, proved her consistency again. She tirelessly reached out (for a few minutes) to a few websites and her email inbox and copied and pasted some negative reaction to President Nelson’s revelation posted by her dissident and doubting friends (she calls them “believing members” but they clearly aren’t as evidenced by their reactions), and wrote a negatively biased story: Rocky Anderson (!!!), Jana Reiss (“also believes the drive may fail”), Steve Evans (“it won’t succeed”), Patrick Mason (“’Mormon’ will continue to be dominant”), and Matthew Bowman (“a move toward boundary maintenance”).

            If nothing else, I hope readers can remember how President Nelson’s direct language of receiving an impression from the Lord on this was casually dismissed by these dissidents and proclaimed as most anything else, including a failed effort before it has hardly begun. We need to remember their disbelief and disloyalty on past and other yet future occasions when they also express their opinions—they have again proclaimed to the world their true colors and feelings. President Nelson seems not to be a prophet to them; they are prophets unto themselves, drawing their great wisdom from their pride and academic learning. It seems whatever President Nelson says, they are smarter and wiser than him and his source of revelation. His teachings and counsel to the Church of Jesus Christ need to be qualified and reinterpreted and discounted.

            Dissidents are placed in such a quandary when a prophet speaks for a god they are not sure exists; they are really only “cultural” Latter-day Saints, born and raised in the forms, but they have never known the power. So, we get what we got—useless rubbish. I prefer to follow the prophet.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Blackmail: An Increasingly Common but Ineffective Anti-Mormon Tool

“Extortion or coercion by threats especially of public exposure or criminal prosecution.” Such is the dictionary definition of blackmail. Since threats of criminal prosecution of the Church or its general leaders are ludicrous, we will concentrate on “coercion by threats especially of public exposure.” These types of threats are also absurd, but have still become increasingly popular among desperate anti-Mormons seeking publicity for their grievance or cause. The reason I say absurd is because in order for blackmail to work, they have to have something substantial—some leverage—behind their threat—and anti-Mormons don’t.

            A couple more definitions should be reviewed: “Whistleblower”; “a person who informs on a person or organization engaged in an illicit activity.” (Note that illicit is usually equivalent to illegal, though not always.) And also “traitor”; “a person who betrays a friend, country, principle, etc.” I mention these words because people fitting these descriptions are often involved with blackmail schemes. Whistleblowers, those who expose illicit/illegal activity, are sometimes thought, even begrudgingly, to be principled, even heroic, people for enduring the risk of exposing such activity. Traitors, on the other hand, are thought to be among the lowest forms of humanity; no principles, only deceit and money (or fame) motivate them. They are thought or spoken of like Judas or Benedict Arnold. Often, alleged whistleblowers are simply traitors, designated so because they just didn’t like something they found out about and are using illicit/illegal means to expose something that may be quite innocuous, ethical, and/or legal.

             Having laid this groundwork, let us examine some examples of anti-Mormons trying to blackmail the LDS Church with various schemes. First, we quickly review an incident from Mormon history. David R. Seely gives us this narration:

On 16 September 1911, the Salt Lake Tribune published an account of certain individuals who had secretly taken pictures of the interior of the Salt Lake Temple and who had attempted to sell them to the church. The headlines read: "Photographs secretly taken of Mormon Temple's interior; sent for sale to Church chief. President replies: 'Church will not negotiate with thieves and blackmailers."' The blackmail scheme was perpetrated by Max Florence, who was at the time in New York City trying to sell sixty-eight unauthorized photographs of the interior of the Salt Lake Temple. Florence had employed the help of a recent convert to the church, Gisbert Bossard, who, disenchanted with the administration of the church, had, assisted by a gardener for the temple grounds, gained access to the Salt Lake Temple and had taken a series of photographs of the interior of the Salt Lake Temple. Apparently motivated by money and "revenge" on the church, these individuals had taken the pictures when the Salt Lake Temple was closed for renovation during the summer of 1911. Florence and Bossard had sent a letter to the First Presidency with a proposal of blackmail—that the church would give them $100,000 and the photographs would be returned; otherwise. they would be shown publicly. President Joseph F. Smith, the recipient of the letter, was outraged, and his response was, "I will make no bargain with thieves or traffickers in stolen goods. I prefer to let the law deal with them."[1]