Category Archives: FAIR Conference

Mormon Frameworks 12: Seth Payne Support in the Faith

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Seth-PayneToday, Bill Reel interviews Seth Payne, a religion and Mormon Studies  scholar.  They discuss why people leave the LDS faith and what ways we can better support them.

Seth was one of the presenters at the 2013 FairMormon Conference and his paper he presented is included below.

The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FairMormon.

Fair Issues 42: Dismissing Book of Mormon Geography Inaccuracies

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Ash (newer) PictureThe traditional LDS folk-belief asserts that the Lehites arrived to a nearly vacant New World,…this assumption – like many other assumptions about the about the Book of Mormon – comes from a naïve reading of the text that was filtered through the 19th century misunderstanding of the human migrations that populated the ancient New World.

In this article brother Ash explains this common error and extends our understanding of this important issue.

The full text of this article can be found at Deseret News online.

Brother Ash is author of the book Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One’s Testimony in the Face of Criticism and Doubt, as well as the book, of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith. Both books are available for purchase online through the FairMormon Bookstore.

Tell your friends about the Mormon Fair-Cast. Share a link on your Facebook page and help increase the popularity of the Mormon Fair-Cast by subscribing to this podcast in iTunes, and by rating it and writing a review.


4th Watch 12: Too Serious or not Serious Enough

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4thWatch SmallHow serious do we take the gospel of Jesus Christ?  How serious do we take ourselves in relation to the gospel of our Savior?  Sometimes we can get caught up in the thick of thin things and overlook the weightier matters.

In this podcast brother Scarisbrick reviews a article done by Robert Kirby, a columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune newspaper.  The article is entitled “Is it worse to be too serious or not serious enough?”  Brother Kirby was also a speaker at the FairMormon conference this past August 2013.  You may read his article from the Salt Lake Tribune  here.

The “Kirb” is somewhat of a colorful character compared to your standard and average Mormon.  His rating for “light-minded” refers to lack of seriousness regarding sacred things.  It’s a class C Church misdemeanor in modern Mormonism.  Light-mindedness was probably a felony during Brigham’s Young’s day.  Brother Ned explores how we see this gospel principle from several perspectives

Keeping The Faith 12: Janet Eyring–Lost then Found

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We sit down with Janet Eyring.  She tells her story of being a seeker, losing faith and leaving the Church, the sense of loss from having missed out on the faith of her youth while spending 20 years outside the Church, and her return the LDS Church.  We talk about her advice for those with similar journeys and where her faith has brought her.

Janet L. Eyring (BA Spanish, Brigham Young University; MA TESOL and Ph.D. Applied Linguistics, UCLA) chaired the Department of Modern Languages at California State University, Fullerton, from 2003-2010. She is currently a professor of Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Her research and teaching interests include: Methods of Teaching Reading and Writing, Pedagogical Grammar, Second Language Curriculum, Second Language Assessment, Experiential Learning, Technology and Language Learning, and Service-Learning. She served on the ICAS ELL Task Force to study ESL students in California public higher education and is a current member of the English Language Advisory Panel for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, investigating teacher preparation for English Language Learners (ELLs) in California. She is married to Brian Thompson and has two step-children, Melanie Thompson Spencer and Melissa Thompson.

The opinions expressed in this podcast and in the referenced books, presentations, podcasts and articles do not necessarily represent the opinions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or of FairMormon.

Recap of the 2013 FAIR Conference

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The 2013 FAIR Conference came to a close on Friday, August 2nd.

We were very pleased to hear fourteen presentations on a variety of topics, including Book of Mormon geography, the role of women in the Church, and the stories of those who have been challenged by doubt and those who left the Church and have returned.

Blair Hodges of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute at BYU attended most of the sessions and wrote recaps of the presentations. (He types quickly!) Although his comments do not always reflect exactly what was said at the conference, we’re grateful for his attendance and coverage, and we encourage all to review the written remarks when made available:

Blair’s notes from Thursday, August 1st

Blair’s notes from Friday, August 2nd

We set a new record for attendance this year (425 tickets issued, up from 402 last year), and we received very positive feedback from the conference attendees on our move to the Utah Valley Convention Center.

Several announcements were made at the conference, including:

FAIR is going through an extensive rebranding process. Beginning soon, we will be known as FairMormon, and our two current web sites ( and will be rolled into a single site with a consistent look and feel.

FairMormon logo

Daniel C. Peterson announced the upcoming roll-out of The World Table, a new social platform that will allow individuals of different faiths to interact with mutual respect. The site is not active yet, but you can sign up to be notified when it’s open by visiting

The World Table logo

Hales Swift and Neal Rappleye were given the John Taylor Defender of the Faith Award for their excellent work on the Scripture Study Aids. Outgoing vice president Allen Wyatt was recognized for his many years of service to FAIR, and Steve Densley, Jr. was named as the new vice president.

We’re grateful for all who attended this year, and especially for those who supported FAIR though generous donations and purchases at the conference bookstore. We’d also like to thank our sponsors who helped make this conference possible:

Bonneville Communications

Deseret Book

BYU Studies

The Interpreter Foundation

Mormon History Association

Roger Nicholson

Brant & Valerie Gardner

Farr’s Jewelry & Electronics

The next FAIR Conference will be held on August 7 & 8, 2014. Mark your calendars—we look forward to seeing you next year!

Mormon FAIR-Cast 160b: Don Bradley and Dan Peterson Taking Questions

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Joseph Smith Scholar Don Bradley and Dr. Dan Peterson take calls on K-Talk radio and answer a wide variety of questions in this interview that took place on July 25, 2013 on Drive Time Live with Mills Crenshaw.

This recording is posted here by permission of K-Talk Radio. The opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily represent the views of FAIR or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This is the second of a two-part interview.

Mormon FAIR-Cast 160a: Don Bradley and Dan Peterson Taking Questions

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BradleyDonWhy do people leave the Church? What was in the missing 116 pages of the Book of Mormon? How do we explain the appearance of horses in the Book of Mormon? Did Joseph Smith make up the story of the first vision long after it was supposed to have occurred? Is there any evidence that supports the authenticity for the Book of Abraham? Does the mention of grains in the Book of Mormon provide evidence of its truthfulness?

Joseph Smith Scholar Don Bradley and Dr. Dan Peterson take calls on K-Talk radio and answer a wide variety of questions in this interview that took place on July 25, 2013 on Drive Time Live with Mills Crenshaw.

Don Bradley is a writer, editor, and researcher specializing in early Mormon history. Don recently performed an internship with the Joseph Smith Papers Project and is completing his thesis, on the earliest Mormon conceptions of the New Jerusalem, 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.



A native of southern California, Daniel C. Peterson received a bachelor’s degree in Greek and philosophy from Brigham Young University (BYU) and, after several years of study in Jerusalem and Cairo, earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at BYU, where he has taught Arabic language and literature at all levels, Islamic philosophy, Islamic culture and civilization, Islamic religion, the Qur’an, the introductory and senior “capstone” courses for Middle Eastern Studies majors, and various other occasional specialized classes. He is the author of several books and numerous articles on Islamic and Latter-day Saint topics–including a biography entitled Muhammad: Prophet of God (Eerdmans, 2007)—and has lectured across the United States, in Europe, Australia, and New Zealand, and at various Islamic universities in the Near East and Asia. He served in the Switzerland Zürich Mission (1972-1974), and, for approximately eight years, on the Gospel Doctrine writing committee for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also presided for a time as the bishop of a singles ward adjacent to Utah Valley University. Dr. Peterson is married to the former Deborah Stephens, of Lakewood, Colorado, and they are the parents of three sons.

This recording is posted here by permission of K-Talk Radio. The opinions expressed in this interview do not necessarily represent the views of FAIR or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This is the first of a two-part interview.

A Gathering of Study and Faith

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Ash (newer) Picture“…as all have not faith,” the Lord told the members of the early Restored Church, “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” (D&C 88:118).

In the early 1980s I struggled for a brief time with my own personal testimony, brought on by exposure to LDS-critical material for which I had no answers. I was stunned, confused, and anxious. In my search for answers I stumbled upon the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS)—a newly formed (1979) organization of LDS scholars. The handful of writings and reprints produced by this LDS scholarly group was exactly what my fledging testimony needed.

I joined their mailing-list, purchased every publication they had, and became aware of other sources for academic studies of LDS issues—sources such as BYU Studies,Sunstone, Dialogue, and the writings of Hugh Nibley. I bought used back-copies of everything I could get my hands on to feed my craving for learning more.

In the FARMS newsletters I would occasionally get invitations to attend a lecture or other event hosted by the scholars who contributed to LDS studies. These were always held in Utah, but I was a young family-man in Colorado without the means to travel these events. In 1985 BYU hosted the first Ramses II exhibit and in my FARMS newsletter I received an invitation to attend a tour of the exhibit with Hugh Nibley as the guide. Since Dr. Nibley was my hero at that stage in my life, I was devastated that I was unable to attend.

My wife and I were convinced that we needed to move to Utah, in part, so I could be closer the Mecca of LDS scholarship. Once we settled in Ogden (north of Salt Lake City) I attended virtually every event the FARMS offered. In 1999 the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research (FAIR) was created.

Like the original FARMS (now-defunct and replaced by BYU’s Maxwell Institute) FAIR was organized by a group of grass-roots Latter-day Saint volunteers who were interested in LDS studies. FAIR, however, was dedicated to educative apologetics (“apologetics” means to defend one’s beliefs). With a policy of non-confrontation (they didn’t want to engage in “Bible-bashing”) FAIR’s goal was to apply scholarly research and answers to the anti-LDS accusations of the Church’s critics.

Since its inception as a non-profit organization, FAIR has grown into a multi-national organization of volunteers who draw upon the best latest scholarship, and has produced books (such as my Shaken Faith Syndrome), DVDs, YouTube Videos, podcasts, a Wiki, and hundreds of articles. In 1999 FAIR held its first conference in California. In 2000 the venue was moved to Utah where it has remained ever. I attended the first Utah FAIR Conference and haven’t missed one since.

There are a few annual events I eagerly anticipate—Christmas with my family, Halloween, 4th of July, and the annual FAIR Conference. Some of the brightest LDS scholars have spoken on some of the most interesting topics ranging from such issues as Egyptology, DNA, Race Issues, Women’s Issues, the First Vision, Same-Sex Attraction, Plural Marriage, and more. The FAIR Conferences are consistently one of the highlights of my year.

This year, the 15th annual FAIR Conference will be held August 1 and 2 and promises to continue the standard of interest and excellence that has drawn increasingly larger crowds. The first FAIR Utah Conference was held in Alta. The next few years were held in Provo to provide for a greater number of attendees. For the past several years the FAIR Conference was moved to a venue in Sandy, and this year (because FAIR has outgrown the Sandy venue) it is being moved back to Provo to the Utah Valley Convention Center.

The list of speakers this year is fantastic. This year’s line of up scholars includes Ronald Barney of the LDS Church historical department who will speak on “Joseph Smith’s Visions.” Morris Thurston will present the “Kidnapping” at Palestine Grove: Missouri’s Final Attempt to Extradite Joseph Smith. Don Bradley will speak on The Original Context of the First Vision Narrative: 1820s or 1830s.

Salt Lake Tribune humor columnist, Robert Kirby will present, Why It is Important to Laugh at Ourselves, and Lynne Wilson’s topic will be, Was Joseph a Product of the Second Great Awakening? Dr. Mark Alan Wright, a specialist in Mesoamerian Archaeology will present, Heartland as Hinterland: The Mesoamerican Core and North American Periphery of Book of Mormon Geography. Rosalynde Welch will discuss “Disenchanted Mormonism,” and Seth Payne will speak on “Why Mormonism Matters: Pastoral Apologetics and the LDS Doubter.”

Ralph Hancock will reflect on “Mormonism and the New Liberalism: The Inescapability of Political Apologetics,” Maxine Hanks will present, “Working With the Church: Another Narrative,” and Daniel Peterson (a perennial favorite) will address, “Toward a More Effective Apologetics.”

In addition to this awesome list of speakers and subjects, the FAIR Conference will host two panel discussions: Charity Never Faileth: Seeking Sisterhood Amid Different Perspectives on Mormon Feminism, with Neylan McBain, Valerie Hudson, Wendy Ulrich, Kris Fredrickson, and Maxine Hanks.

The second panel is entitled, The Loss and Rekindling of Faith, and will include panelists, Bill Reel, Don Bradley, Janet L. Eyring, and Maxine Hanks.

Anyone interested in Mormon studies should attend. Early-bird discounts are still available until July 28 but even if you miss the discount, the “study and faith” you’ll gain from this assemblage of speakers will be worth far more than the price of the ticket. You can get all the info here, and I hope to see you there.

*This article was also published in Meridian.

Best of FAIR 16: A Joseph Smith Miscellany

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bushman-01Richard Bushman, author of Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, discusses the issues that loomed in his mind as he wrote his books on Joseph Smith. One conclusion he has reached is that “we will not always be able to give satisfactory answers to our critics. We will never placate our critics completely and we should not seek to do so. If we placate them completely we are making our gospel, our history, conform to their sense of what life should be and what the path should be. In a sense, we’re caving in if we become too pleasing to those around them. We have to state it as we see it and recognize that there will be differences from what our critics expect of us and of what actually happened to our people.”

The text of his presentation can be found here. The video can be seen here.

Richard Bushman is the and Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University. He is currently the Howard W. Hunter Visiting Professor in Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University. He also serves as one of three general editors of the Joseph Smith Papers.

The opinions expressed in this address do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or of FAIR.

To purchase tickets to the 2013 FAIR Conference, visit this page. This short video clip also provides more information: FAIR Conference video clip.

Online ticket sales for FAIR Conference ending July 28th

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This year’s FAIR Conference will be held on Thursday and Friday, August 1 and 2 at the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, Utah.

We have an exciting lineup of speakers this year, including Ron Barney, executive director of the Mormon History Association; Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby; and Maxine Hanks, one of the “September Six” and a newly rebaptized member of the Church.

See the FAIR home page for a full schedule and details of the conference.

Online ticket sales are open now and will be available through Sunday, July 28. After that, tickets will be available at the door, but will cost $5 more per ticket than the online price.

If you haven’t registered for the conference yet, now is the time to order!