A commenter on my last post brought Mike Adams and his diatribe against my church to my attention. I had never heard of the good Mr. Adams, a syndicated columnist who apparently has quite a following among Tea Party types. I could have gone my entire life and not been exposed to Mr. Adams’ bile and counted myself a lucky man. He is the embodiment of all the reasons why I find Tea Party types so odious. For far too many of them, their supposed love for constitutional government takes a back seat to their irrational loathing for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hey, Mormon Tea Partiers – this guy, and legions just like him, may agree with your idiosyncratic view of our founding documents, but you also ought to know that he, and a legion of bigots like him, hates you for what you believe.
Seriously. He really, really hates you.
In reading his screed, I recalled my experience as a freshman at the University of Southern California, where I was first exposed to the foulness of anti-Mormon literature. I read “The Godmakers” from cover to cover, which described a church with a history and doctrines far darker and more sinister than the relatively dull one in which I had spent the entirety of my life. I also ended up listening to a “Christian” radio station which broadcast the rantings of one Walter Martin, who had made a living as an “expert” on “cults” and the “occult,” a world in which Mormons supposedly play a starring role. In reviewing the work of these people who had made tearing down my faith their mission, I found myself feeling frustrated, frightened, and powerless – frustrated because I knew that a good chunk of what they were saying was flat-out wrong, frightened because I wasn’t sure if the stuff they claimed that I didn’t recognize was actually true, and powerless because I was in no position to offer any substantive rebuttal.
I returned to Salt Lake over Christmas break and, out of the blue, was given a copy of “The Truth About ‘The Godmakers,” a book by a man named Gilbert Scharffs that took “The Godmakers” and refuted every charge in it, line by line, with ample documentation. (You can now read the whole book online – no charge.) I later met Mr. Scharffs after I returned home from my missionary service in Scotland, and I thanked him for his thoughtful reply. What struck me, beyond the saliency of his arguments, was the patient, Christlike tone with which he wrote. Where “The Godmakers” had been inflammatory and insulting, Scharffs had been reasonable and kind, with no attempt to attack or defame his supposed enemies personally.
That is the tone I will try to emulate as I respond, line by line, to every charge Mr. Adams made in his original piece.
I recognize that there is often little value in being “anti-anti,” as it usually generates more heat than light, and the exchanges are seldom, if ever, accompanied by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The commenter who brought this column to light alluded to a scripture in the Book of Mormon, where Jesus states that “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.” (See 3 Nephi 11:29-30)
I’m sad to report that I’ve had my share of contentions on subjects like these, and I have no desire to deliberately reproduce that experience here on anywhere else. But I will be forever grateful to Gilbert Scharffs for offering solid answers to a young kid who was looking for them when the “Godmakers” authors were eager to destroy my faith. If there is a single kid, or adult, who reads my next few posts and feels a little less frustrated, frightened, or powerless, then writing this will be worth it.
With that as prelude, we begin with the Adams column tomorrow. Line by line, Scharffs style! Boo-ya!