As soon as you become serious about investigating the church, and for some time after, there will be people who consider it their duty to try to talk you out of it. They’ll bombard you with propaganda designed to make you question your growing new faith. Even if no one does it in your personal life, you are likely to encounter it even in mainstream newspapers these days. It’s hard to avoid.
Much of what is being said is blatantly false. Others are misrepresentations of our beliefs. Other times, they take a small piece of information and treat it as core doctrine, central to our beliefs. Often, these reports simply take things some Mormons believe and treat them as fact. Finally, some propaganda takes information church leaders said that were their own opinions and treats it as doctrine, although it was never canonized. Every word spoken by a prophet isn’t official doctrine. For instance, if a prophet predicted Brigham Young University, the church-owned college, would win next week’s football game, that would not be a prophecy. It would simply be his personal opinion. It is not automatically doctrine just because it is spoken by a leader. It’s important to note if the statement was ever placed into official scripture. For a more detailed explanation of this read, Approaching Mormon Doctrine.
When you face propaganda against the church, it’s important to pay attention to the source and the purpose. Often the media will use as a source someone who used to be LDS, and therefore should know what he’s talking about. Think for a moment what that means—used to be Mormon. That means someone who left the church and therefore, may not really understand the gospel or may want to justify his departure. He is not an unbiased source, and may intentionally misrepresent the truth or may not even understand the truth. And so, this is a warning sign.
If you want to know the truth, first research it on the church website. Find out what the church is saying about the issue. Recently, the church has begun posting a great deal of commentary on issues, and clarifications of statements to counter false information circulating in the news. You can read these as well, and use them to help you understand the issue.
Of course, the most important way to resolve any bits of concern is to pray. God knows the answers and never lies about them. When you ask for Heavenly Father’s advice and get a response, you never again worry about what the world is saying.
The church has a new video to clear up some of the more common misconceptions. Myth Vs. Reality
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.