Monthly Archives: December 2011

FAIR Study Aids for the Book of Mormon

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With the upcoming year of Book of Mormon study in Gospel Doctrine classes, FAIR has decided to put together a new study resource. We are calling it “FAIR Study Aids,” and it can be accessed on our wiki at

Similar efforts have been made in the past, and the fruits of those labors have also been collected on that page for easy access. This information is a resource for class members and also a preparatory resource for gospel doctrine teachers to help them formulate answers to questions that might arise during their class. It is, of course, not in any way a substitute for the Gospel Doctrine manual, nor should instructors make these topics the focus of class instruction. This information is provided with the understanding that it is an additional resource only.

Each week, FAIR volunteers will look at the Sunday School lesson and identify relevant apologetic issues and other related insights, and then compile them into a single, easy to use quick-reference guide with links to additional information. Organization will follow the same structure found in Gospel Doctrine manual, with main headings that correspond with the main sections on the lesson. This should make it easy to identify how any particular item relates to the lesson material. Additional information related to the chapters in the Book of Mormon being covered by the lesson, but which do not fit neatly into the lesson’s structure, will be placed at the bottom of the page. Main sections will be broken down into three sub-sections:

  • Helpful Insights: These include various tidbits of information that might be helpful or interesting to discuss as a part of your lesson. They will come from scholarly studies and other sources.
  • Potential Criticisms and Faithful Information: These include potential criticisms that may arise during the lesson, or that are relevant to the topics and themes being discussed, along with information on how to respond with faith supporting information. These are made available so that teachers and students can gain some familiarity with these issues and be prepared should these or similar concerns arise in class.
  • Faith Affirmations: Here we will make note of various items of evidence for the Book of Mormon along with other information that supports the authenticity of the Book of Mormon and promotes faith in its teachings.  

The first lesson is already available, and serves as an example. It can be found here:

Dan Peterson has, in the past, discussed the need for both positive and negative apologetics, and we hope that by providing information in each of these categories we will successfully balance between the necessary task of responding to criticism (“negative apologetics”) with the more enjoyable and uplifting endeavor of building faith (“positive apologetics”).

FAIR Examination 5a: Marriage to a man with same-sex attraction–Joshua & Alyssa Johanson

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How does a man with same-sex attraction find the only woman in the world to whom he is attracted? In this interview, Joshua Johanson talks about his history with same-sex attraction, his experience as a BYU student and as a member of a singles ward, and introduces us to his wife, Alyssa Johanson. Alyssa shares her insights into being married to a man with same sex-attraction. Joshua and Alyssa also discuss the things that have helped make their marriage successful. As they do so, it becomes clear that their relationship is not all that different from anyone else’s.

They also discuss Proposition 8, Elder Packer’s October 2010 General Conference address, as well as the following questions:

  • Does the Church recommend marriage as a therapeutic measure for someone experiencing same-sex attraction?
  • What is wrong with homosexual activity (kissing, etc.) that stops short of intercourse?
  • If gays can marry, why would sex in that relationship be a violation of the law of chastity?
  • Did Jesus speak out against homosexuality?
  • How can the Church uphold its standards while still extending love to those who experience same-sex attraction?

FAIR Examination 4: Fred & Marilyn Matis

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Fred & Marilyn Matis are Co-Authors with Ty Mansfield of the book published by Deseret Book called, “In Quiet Desperation: Understanding the Challenge of Same Gender Attraction.” Fred and Marilyn are the parents of Stuart Matis, a young man who struggled with same gender attraction. After successfully serving a mission for the LDS Church, Stuart returned home and continued to struggle with same gender attraction for many years until, in February of 2000, at the age of 32, he took his own life. Since that time, Fred & Marilyn have reached out to other individuals who experience same gender attraction and their families to help foster better understanding and support for those who struggle with the unique challenges of same gender attraction.

FAIR Examination 3a: Two mothers of sons with same gender attraction

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How do Mormon parents respond when they find out they have a son or daughter with same sex attraction? What happens when the child decides the leave the Church and engage in homosexual activity? What can parents do to show love for such a child while still remaining faithful to the Church? In this episode, two active, LDS mothers talk about their experiences raising sons who are involved in homosexual relationships. It should be noted that they will not be referred to by name out of respect for their sons and for other family members, and they did not feel comfortable using pseudonyms.

Bethany Blankley and the “Mormon Question”

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The great German literary demigod Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once remarked: “There is nothing more frightful than ignorance in action.” My reading of Bethany Blankley’s recent Huffington Post article has confirmed Goethe’s fear as being my own. In the doleful cacophony that sounds forth from the ranks of fundamentalist Evangelical critics of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ms. Blankley is more than suitable at playing first-chair violin. She is an adept Konzertmeisterin who plays with a zealous gusto that is by no means forced into a decrescendo by facts or evidence.

The accusation that Latter-day Saints are not Christians is not new, and it is not it likely to go away anytime soon. So long as fundamentalist Evangelicals dominate the religious landscape of modern America, the benighted Mormons can anticipate this Hydra to rear its ugly heads incessantly. All of the efforts of the Latter-day Saints to quell this tired assertion will almost certainly be in vain, as misinformation, misrepresentation and outright calumny continue to capture the imagination of an ignorant public with scandalous tales of the moral and theological debauchery and baseness of the Mormons. Continue reading

FAIR Examination 2: An active LDS mother with same gender attraction

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When we think of people with same sex attraction, we usually don’t imagine a temple-married, active LDS, mother of two. Yet that is what we find in this interview with “Samantha.” Interestingly, a person such as she may not be as uncommon as we often believe. LDS Family Social Services estimates that 4-5 members in the average LDS ward experience same gender attraction. Most of those are married with children. In this interview, “Samantha” tells about her experiences with Church leaders at BYU and in her home ward over the years. She also helps to provide insight into how fellow family members and ward members can help lift the burden of someone who experiences same gender attraction.