Monthly Archives: November 2012

Understanding the Facts About Immigration

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A few weeks ago on a private message board that I participate on I had a bit of a meltdown, for lack of a better word. Let’s just say that my response to a fellow poster was less than Christian and leave it at that. I make no excuses; my response was “over the top” (as another fellow poster put it). However, in my defense I’ve only ever claimed to be Mormon and never claimed to be particular good at being a Mormon.

The topic which raised my ire was the question of the Church’s stance on immigration, and specifically illegal immigration. I will not rehash the Church’s stance here as it’s not really relevant to my post nor was it the focus of my ire on this particular equation. My problem came from the way another poster was talking about such immigrants and the “facts” that he cited in support of his claims.

Before I start this, I need to make a disclosure: I work and make my living as an immigration attorney. My practice focuses on the defense of immigrants, both legal and illegal, who are in removal (deportation) proceedings. I also practice a fair amount of criminal defense work trying to help immigrants who’ve had run-ins with the law in an attempt to salvage their immigration status. So, yes, I have some skin the game.

Let me, then, address a few issues immigration issues which are quite commonly misunderstood. Continue reading

Keeping the Faith 5a: Don Bradley–Seeing with an eye of faith, pt 1

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Don Bradley is a writer, editor, and researcher specializing in early Mormon history. In his early years as a historian, he found it difficult to understand and explain many of the actions of Joseph Smith. He found that he could make sense of much of the history if he assumed that Joseph Smith was a fraud who sought after money, sex and power. As he pursued this strategy of analysis, he drifted further and further away from the Church in which he had been raised. Along the way, he spent time as an agnostic and atheist, then back to theist, then Baha’i, then generic Protestant. As he continued his research into the history of Joseph Smith, he found that the Joseph-as-fraud approach proved increasingly inadequate to explain what he was finding. In this interview, Don talks about what eventually led him back to the Church, why he finally decided that Joseph Smith is truly a prophet of God, and how adopting this new interpretive model has helped him to understand Joseph Smith better than he ever did before.

Don recently performed an internship with the Joseph Smith Papers Project and is completing his thesis toward an M.A. in History at Utah State University. He has published on the translation of the Book of Mormon, plural marriage before Nauvoo, and Joseph Smith’s “grand fundamental principles of Mormonism” and plans to publish an extensive analysis, co-authored with Mark Ashurst-McGee, on the Kinderhook plates. Don’s first book, The Lost 116 Pages: Reconstructing the Missing Contents of the Book of Mormon,is slated to be published by Greg Kofford Books.

His 2012 FAIR Conference address can be read here: Piercing the Veil: Temple Worship in the Lost 116 Pages.

Book Review: Shaken Faith Syndrome

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Shaken Faith Syndrome and the Case for Faith

Stephen O. Smoot

Abstract: Michael R. Ash is a Mormon apologist who has written two thoughtful books and a number of insightful articles exploring a wide range of controversial issues within Mormonism. His recent book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt is an outstanding apologetic resource for individuals searching for faith-promoting answers that directly confront anti-Mormon allegations and criticisms. Ash does an excellent job in both succinctly explaining many of the criticisms leveled against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and articulating compelling answers to these criticisms.

Review of Michael R. Ash. Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt. Redding, CA: Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research, 2008. x + 301 pp., with index. $19.95 (paperback).

“Wherefore Didst Thou Doubt?”
(Matthew 14:31)

A favorite scripture of Latter-day Saint scholars is Doctrine and Covenants 88:118: “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” While it is usually the last phrase (“seek [Page 106]learning, even by study and also by faith”) of this scripture that resonates with LDS scholars, the first part of this passage is equally profound. As “all have not faith,” or, one might say, have had their faith challenged or shaken, we are to teach each other words of wisdom from the best books. This scripture is a mandate to bolster each other’s faith as much as it is an invitation to pursue truth. Continue reading

Keeping the Faith 4: Mike Parker–Navigating difficult doctrinal, historical or political issues

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A long-time member of FAIR, Mike Parker, addresses a variety of questions related to apologetics and gospel learning: Where should gospel teaching begin? To what extent should teachers bring up and address troubling historical or doctrinal issues? Should missionaries tell investigators about such issues before they are baptized? What should be the goal of a Gospel Doctrine teacher or missionary? How can a faithful member navigate the challenges that are posed by difficult doctrinal, historical or political issues? Mike provides his insight on this issues and many others.

Keeping the Faith 3a: Cody Anderson–Cultivating the seeds of faith, pt 1

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Cody Anderson was an exemplary young member of the Church. As a teen, he was an Eagle Scout, a quorum president, and had experienced a spiritual conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. But as he began to encounter opposition and sin, he became discouraged and developed a sense of shame and unworthiness. He began to attend church less frequently and he gradually stopped reading the scriptures and praying. Eventually, he encountered anti-Mormon literature and found a rational justification for his disaffection from the Church. For a number of years, he pursued a lifestyle that was simply guided by his base desires. While some people like Cody never return to the Church, he instead returned to full activity, became sealed in the temple, and now volunteers for FAIR. In this interview, he explains what it was that brought him back into the Church and provides some insight into why some people leave the Church, and what friends and family members can do to help them return.

FAIR’s Front Page app for Android

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If you would like to read FAIR’s Front Page without using the full FAIR app that was announced yesterday, there is also now an app just for that.

FAIR’s Front Page contains daily news clippings about how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is represented in the media. It is also available by e-mail (you can sign up at http://www.fairlds.org).

Android app on Google Play