Dealing with Anti-Mormon Media

Every so often, mormons find themselves depicted unfavorably in the media: Krakauer writes Under the Banner of Heaven; the French version of Witness translates ‘Amish’ as ‘mormon'; or some prominent local mormon gets involved in a scandal of some sort. These are recurring themes. Rarely are the criticisms levelled at the Church new or original. However, their mere presence as a social force requires our response. What, then, is the appropriate response for Church members towards such media portrayals?

First, a couple of caveats: let’s leave aside specific anti-mormon claims, or the specifics of current issues. I’m no apologist, and find such things tired and uninteresting. Second, I’m interested in how the members of the Church should react, not the Church itself. Church PR is its own little world, and their dynamics, while interesting, are completely out of my hands.

Here’s what brought this to light: I received an email recently regarding Martha Nibley Beck’s upcoming book. Some of you may have received this. After discussing the threat the book presents, the email asked me to "please forward this email today to as many people as you can who you believe will write calm and well-reasoned letters asking Oprah not to promote Martha’s book." I can forward this email to you, if you like.

This email is not coming from the Nibley family but from a close family friend. The question is: Do people think this is an effective way to combat bad books or it is just going to sell more books? How should Mormons respond to books, magazine articles, newspaper pieces, etc. that they feel are grossly unfair? I have heard that the Nibleys themselves are against this campaign, fearing that Oprah et al will see it as Mormon whining.

What do you think? Have you seen the email and excerpts? What do you think would be the best strategy? Personally, I think the campaign is a bad idea. First, it makes us look as if we are simply closing rank around one of our own. Such protectionism is a worthy trait, but not in the face of allegations of abuse. Second, it draws unwarranted attention to the questionable media. I have little doubt that mormons will account for a significant percentage of book sales! That’s exactly what happened with Krakauer.

Ultimately, I think these anti-mormon bits in the media are simply the cost of doing business as the restored Gospel. The Saints are bound to be persecuted, and it is our lot to deal with these things. I find these media portrayals utterly uninteresting and repetitive, and feel that they should receive their proper level of attention on our part: that is, none at all. Brigham Young said that every time they give the mormon church a kick, they kick it upstairs. My belief? Let us not respond to evil by debasing ourselves with plaintive campaigns or angry rebuttals; rather, show people what our religion is really about by being the same kind, fun, interesting people we’ve always been. If people ask you about the book? Yawn, and respond that people are always saying crazy stuff about the mormons.

Comments

  1. “And though all the winds of doctrine were let loose to play upon the earth, so Truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let her and Falsehood grapple; who ever knew Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter?”

    Milton, Aeropagitica.

  2. An excellent quote, K-man. I approve. But do you believe it? History does not demonstrate thus far that truth triumphs over error.

  3. I like your approach, Steve.

    Forwarding the email is a bad idea because I have found that almost every email I have gotten calling me to action has been guilty of falsehood or perpetuating an urban legend, like Pepsi’s alleged campaign to take the words “under God” out of the pledge of allegiance, so we should stop drinking Pepsi. Incidentally, I have received the Martha Beck email you refer to, and it unnecessarily stretches the truth in a few places. I can’t imagine that Martha Beck really wrote that death squads from church headquarters still exist. How would she explain the fact that the Tanners are still alive? If she did write about the death squads existing, I imagine that even the most rapid antis will have issues with her credibility.

    My approach is to talk about it if people ask me about it. Most people know that “recovered memories” are B.S., so with that aspect of the book, I think it should be easy enough to discredit the whole book. But who knows what kind of effect Oprah will have on this whole process.

    Krakauer’s book was more challenging because his approach seemed pretty well intentioned and well documented.

  4. Steve,

    Here’s the response I sent about the email campaign to members of my ward who called us to “combat Satan’s influence” by writing to Oprah.

    >Not to discourage people’s good intentions, but it is unlikely that any level of public outcry will thwart Oprah’s plans to endorse Martha’s book. If anything, an extensive email campaign will increase the interest already circling around it. If promoting Martha and her book promises to be controversial, then that’s good for Oprah’s show, so writing myriads of email, whether plaintive or outraged, will do nothing more than fan the flames of scandal and intrigue.

    Of course, Martha’s angry, agenda-driven book is full of preposterous claims. But, Martha has become a well-liked figure in our psycho-babbling popular culture (as her regular column in O attests) and so her book is guaranteed to be national bestseller overnight regardless of what we’d prefer.

    It will, therefore, be ineffectual, to deluge the Oprah studios with letters of protest. A better response is to buy and carefully read Leaving the Saints so that you are armed with more accurate information when people ask you about it, as they certainly will.

    If you still feel strongly that you personally must write a letter to Oprah, do not suggest that she withdraw her endoresement of the book as this will likely be wasted effort. Instead, suggest to her that she invite a scholar of Mormonism to appear on her show with Martha to counter or, at least complexify whatever Martha might say about the Church. This suggestion is unlikely to be considered since Martha’s book is a personal essay and not a scholarly work, but it may be worth a shot. At least a more balanced discussion could occur in such a scenario. Better yet, suggest that she invite Dr. Phil on with Martha to throw some cynicism on those “recovered” memories.

    One thing more to remember—-Martha not only left the Church many years ago, she also left academia. That means that although her book will get lots of popular press, it will be largely ignored by the academy since it is not rigorous in any scholarly way. Martha’s book would have been much more damaging had she used her training as a sociologist to attack the church in an underhanded way. The good news is that a salacious expose like this simply won’t be taken seriously by the meaning-making intellectuals (historians, sociologists, philosophers, theologians, and so forth) in this country. In the end, the book is more about Martha then it is about Mormonism.

  5. The last line should obviously read,

    “than” not “then”

  6. Nate Oman says:

    Melissa: I think that your response is just about right. I would suggest that people check the book out from the library rather than buy it. Also, I think that it takes many years of graduate study to reach a place where one regards academic sociologists as more powerful public meaning makers than Oprah. I salute you for your endurance!

  7. I agree, Melissa, that’s a good response. I would suggest that you wait and buy the book used someplace (if you buy it at all), as I’m sure it will receive quick and deep discounting. Woe to those who pay full price!

  8. The recent SLTrib article:
    http://sltrib.com/ci_2555256
    mentions the death squad thing. It isn’t clear if that information comes from the book or the Linda Smith email.

    Who would be a good candidate to suggest to Oprah as an alternate viewpoint? Someone who is not a member but has studied the church? I would guess that even some people who are considered anti-mormon but know the church well would think the accusations in the book are out of left field.

  9. Melissa:

    Totally – right – on.

    This book will get coverage anyway, but just to emphasize a point that Steve brings out — journalists who might not cover the book, will, however, cover the book if it becomes clear that it’s part of a ‘major’ controversy that is the subject of an organized campaign against it.

    In other words, you often get two rounds of coverage:

    Round 1: publicity for the book — often reviews and interviews with the author. Usually generated by the publisher — pitches and press releases and sending out review copies.

    Round 2 (and this coverage is usually spread across more papers — esp. if the wire services pick up on the story): stories about the controversy the book is causing.

  10. I’m in the interesting position of having read an advance copy of the book sent to reviewers. For all the understandable dismay about the specific charges Martha Beck makes about Hugh Nibley, I wish people could be debating the book itself rather than a series of charges before the book is even available.

    The Tribune article has a paragraph near the end that says Beck “makes many exaggerated claims about Mormons and Mormonism,” which strikes me as not quite true. Each “claim” in the list disregards the context in which Beck says them. For example, I still can’t find the passage Stack quotes about “death squads,” but there is a chapter entitled “Paranoia” in which Beck describes the way old stories about the Danites fed into the anxieties she felt when she received threatening phone calls and letters during her heyday as a quotable BYU dissident during the September Six controversy in 1994. There’s a difference, in my mind, between coolly stating that the LDS Church maintains its own squad of assassins and, in a narrative chapter called “Paraonoia,” describing the way legends about Danites started to sound plausible when one starts getting hate mail and threatening phone calls.

    Melissa is right, though: The book is even less about Mormonism than Under the Banner of Heaven was. It’s very much a memoir, but it does raise all sorts of difficult questions — among them, for me, complex ethical questions about how to write honestly about a religion one felt compelled to leave, not to mention questions of how to assess the reliability of highly contested and damning claims about people whose identities are only barely concealed. Mormon and ex-Mormon readers are going to have a grand old time figuring out which pseudonym belongs to which BYU professor, General Authority, TV personality, and so on throughout the book: Everyone is in disguise!

    No matter what Oprah does with the book, it will find a huge audience. The writing is quite strong, Beck already has a big audience, and scandal sells. The appearance of an organized campaign to squelch the book will only intensify the media’s interest.

  11. Well, Philo, the unavailability of the book is part of the reason that I didn’t want to address its claims in particular. Now you’ve gone and spoiled it!

    I disagree with your assessment that the writing is quite strong, but otherwise I agree with you. So the question remains — what does an average mormon do in response to such a thing?

  12. Steve,

    What is an “avergare mormon”? I know that among my “average mormon” parents there was strong disagreement over one of them reading “Under the Banner of Heaven”. I would guess that the average mormon thinks Beck is a bit of a nut, and that she likes to be the center of attention.

  13. I have a copy as well. I’m not sure I’d agree with Philocrites though. The book is very much about modern Mormonism and she outright states she is angry at all the nice people of Provo in one place.

    As I mentioned over at M* though, I think Pres. Hinkley’s comments last month for the home teaching message were directed at the book, at least in part.

    I’ll have to reread the section on Danite, but as I recall she at least indirectly makes the connection to modern Danites. Plus she makes the claim that her house is being bugged with the “portal” being the local meeting house.

    I do think the book is fairly well written. Initially the style was offputting but once you got used to it I found it very effective. You have to notice though that her style is contrasting “light” satirical and sarcastic reflections on her life and then her meeting with her father where she confronts him. Those latter ones are supposed to be her “empowering” and it ends up being quite effective.

    I still plan on reviewing the book. But even though I’ve had it for nearly two weeks, I’m not quite sure how to approach doing a review.

  14. er… Clark, what about the question of the post? However fascinating the book is, I don’t want to address its contents. So — what then do you do with the book?

  15. john fowles says:

    Melissa wrote Martha’s book would have been much more damaging had she used her training as a sociologist to attack the church in an underhanded way.

    I don’t agree with this. Beck’s book is all the more powerful for its lack of footnotes and acknowledgement of the sound scholarship that has already addressed most of the trite anti-Mormon claims in the book. Filling it up with footnotes so that its audience became the TTWs and Quinns and Krakauers of the world would have been far less damaging because it wouldn’t be for sale at Wal-Mart or digestible for the masses. In that form, sure, it might lend some real ammo to the scholarly anti-Mormon camp, but not to the masses of normal people who buy into the psycho-babble and watch Oprah and Dr. Phil.

    Beck’s approach, on the other hand, is far more damaging precisely because it is just a narrative couched in psycho-babble term. This is what happened to her; noone can say that it is wrong. Specific anti-Mormon claims (e.g. supposedly no chariots in pre-Colombian America, so obviously all the war chapters of the BoM are concocted) surface in the same paragraph as her “testimony” of sexual abuse at the hands of her father, the ultimate Mormon apologist. People will read the book for the salacious story of a supposedly pious man who nonetheless sexually abused his daughter while wearing Egyptian ceremonial garb. What could be more interesting to the readers of National Enquirer and watchers of Oprah than a story like that. That is the true attraction; the anti-Mormon claims are attached and become part and parcel with the real intrigue. Thus, it is swallowed together with the psycho-babble abuse claims and digested accordingly as fact; noone can dispute (in our present society) that she actually was sexually abused (short of clearing Hugh Nibley’s name in court, that is), and thus, noone can dispute the peripheral anti-Mormon claims either.

    Whatever you do though, I would follow Nate’s advice rather than Melissa’s and not buy the book. Boycotting something you disagree with can still make a point. There is no reason to give Beck your money just because she alleges that Hugh Nibley sexually abused her. If you want to read the entire book so as to be better able to dispell the misperceptions that Oprah watchers will have about the Church after reading it/seeing Beck on Oprah promoting it, then check it out of the library instead of buying it.

  16. Per Steve: “However fascinating the book is, I don’t want to address its contents. So — what then do you do with the book?”

    Steve, you tried to take a similar approach in the Grant Palmer thread. Maybe in order to “do” something about a book, you need to read it and engage it? Barring that, you can either ignore it, or issue a “this is a bunch of lies and half-truths, none of which I/we will directly address and refute” press release or letter. People totally see through the latter. For example, what does a “calm and well-reasoned letter asking Oprah not to promote Martha’s book” sound like, if it doesn’t address the particulars of the book? “Dear Oprah, I hear that someone that you admire is disaffected with my church, and has written some unfavorable things about it. Please do not give her a platform from which to express her views. From what I have heard in the press, much of what she has to say is exaggerated or flat out untrue. It would be stressful for me to have to hear such things about my church, and annoying to have to field questions from friends about them. Thanks.” Not especially compelling.

  17. Wendy, you’re right that I had a similar reaction to the Grant Palmer events. I feel similarly now.

    Do we need to engage and address negative media portrayals of mormons? Maybe you’re right that we can’t claim to be “doing” anything about it unless we address their claims directly. But my argument is that we needn’t, and shouldn’t, “do” anything with MNB, Krakauer, or other negative media sources. Why should we rehash tired arguments? Why should we defend ourselves against depictions of our Church when those don’t come close to reflecting reality? Maybe you feel that these events raise some kind of issues that the Church or its apologists haven’t already addressed at some point; I don’t think that’s the case.

    As for any personal memoirs of abuse or whatnot, I don’t see how any reaction on my part can be appropriate. I have no standing with regards to those claims.

  18. John wrote,

    “Filling it up with footnotes so that its audience became the TTWs and Quinns and Krakauers of the world would have been far less damaging because it wouldn’t be for sale at Wal-Mart or digestible for the masses.”

    I think your idea of “damaging” is different than mine. I am not too concerned with the latest sensational expose on Mormonism. There have been multitudes of similarly scandalous books. They are published, sell like hotcakes, create a public stir, and then quickly go out of print—or into relative obscurity. No one remembers these sorts of books 5 or 10 years later. A personal narrative of one woman’s experience is much more easily dismissed and ultimately forgotten than a carefully conducted in-depth sociological survey.

    Further, your post reveals an attitude towards those you call “the masses of normal people,” with which I also disagree. I frankly do not think that the reading public is as gullible as you seem to think. Although, I recommended reading the book so that members of my ward (Cambridge singles—mostly graduate students) would be well-prepared to answer any questions about the book, I don’t think that most people read things uncritically, and this book will not be an exception. In fact, many people who read this book will know/know of Mormons who do not fit the picture that Martha paints. I might also add that Oprah is no fool. Although she clearly respects Martha, she has also had experiences and relationships with very different sorts of Mormons that would necessarily complicate any simplistic picture Martha tries to offer.

    My point is that while we should try to correct inaccuracies about the church (whatever they may be) in Martha’s book, we should not be overly concerned with its popular reception in the coming months.

    Case in point: Krakauer’s book was prominently displayed at the Brown bookstore as the manager’s recommended book for several months when it came out. A number of people talked to me about this book, asking for clarification and so forth. All of them assumed that there were errors and biases and wanted to know from me what those were. The presence of errors and biases will be much more obvious in a book written by an estranged daughther of a powerful LDS family.

  19. Melissa: “we should not be overly concerned with its popular reception in the coming months.”

    I couldn’t agree more! This wave, like all others, will wash over us and move on. Our little mormon boat, tight like a dish, will cruise on regardless.

  20. “As I mentioned over at M* though, I think Pres. Hinkley’s comments last month for the home teaching message were directed at the book, at least in part.”

    Perhaps. But it deserves to be noted that the January Ensign message is simply a slightly edited reprint of an April 1970 General Conference address.

  21. Justin B., how did you know that?

  22. Justin B. knows things! Crazy things!

  23. Really, that is interesting Justin. I didn’t know that. That does raise an interesting point though. Around 1970 the big news was the Book of Abraham and the papyri. If that is the context then perhaps the response of the church by going public with information (i.e. not remaining silent) and then attempting to engage the issue is a good guide?

    I’m afraid I disagree with Steve that silence alone is a good approach.

    Having said that though I also largely agree with Melissa’s comments. Most recall the book Secret Ceremonies by Deborah Laake back in the 1990’s. That had all sorts of descriptions of the temple ceremony with sarcastic commentary. Then very, very odd behavior that she attributed to the church but which was likely more the result of her own “interesting mindset.” (i.e. hanging washed used condoms on the clothesline) That book also had excerpts published in Cosmopolitan and she did the usual talkshow circuit.

    However how many people even remember it today?

    I also had brought to my awareness the fact that Hugh Nibley isn’t the household name that those of us with more intellectual inclinations might think. When I first mentioned the charges to my wife, she didn’t even know who Nibley was. So this is probably far less significant than the charges in the 90’s by Ed Decker that Pres. Hinkley was carrying on with a homosexual prostitute. That was of course lies designed to bring down the church and I strongly suspect this is as well.

  24. Clark, keep in mind that silence is my answer for members of the Church, not necessarily the Church itself. Does that affect whether or not you agree with me?

    And I’m not saying “do nothing” — obviously, if people ask you about it, sure, set them straight. But I think the petition is the wrong approach.

  25. Oh, I agree the petition is counterproductive. However I do think we ought respond to the book.

  26. I remember the “Secret Ceremonies” thing. Mostly because my movie attempted to record the Oprah episode that featured it to show my dad and accidentally erased some decade old home movies. I will always hate Oprah for that.

  27. “Justin B., how did you know that?”

    I’m a MAAADDD scientist. (A Gospelink search pulled up the original talk.)

    That’s not to say that GBH isn’t using an old message against a current target or ongoing problem (e.g., the September 2004 FP message was an edited version of an October 1975 General Conference talk).

  28. Steve, for what it’s worth I’m with you.

    When we talk about damage what do we mean? The only things of real worth on the planet are souls. So the question is how many souls are likely to be gained or lost as a result of this book? Well I can think of two potential categories.

    Missionary work: Will this hurt missionary work? I suspect not. Missionary work has slowed recently as it is with 60,000+ missionaries baptizing fewer people than 40,000 missionaries did 15 years ago. Perhaps the biggest problem missionaries have is finding people who even care. A book like this might help with that.

    Retention: Will the allegations drive masses of people away from the church? I doubt it. There is nothing like a common enemy to increase solidarity. And it may be that the allegations will get the 98% of the church that has never read any Nibley to try one of his books. (I would suggest The World and The Prophets as a break-in book…) Once any spiritually discerning person reads a Nibley book they will likely hear the words of the Savior ringing in theirs ears “by their fruits ye shall know them” and be able to quickly decide who to trust in this case.

    That’s not to say intelligent and well equipped bloggers shouldn’t post reviews and responses, I just agree that this won’t really do much damage at all in the long run.

  29. Quoting from one review:

    Even Rebecca Nibley, whom all siblings agree is Beck’s strongest supporter in the family, doesn’t believe their father abused anyone.
    “The one thing she wanted so badly was for us to say, ‘it happened to me too,’ ” she said. “But we couldn’t because it didn’t.”
    And Nibley, four years older than Beck,
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    is surprised that her sister failed to mention several key facts in this memoir: that Beck and her husband are divorced and that both are gay

    I do see this as going the same way as Secret Ceremonies and being more about Beck than anything else.

    A good example of do it yourself repressed memory recovery … sigh.

  30. Navel-gazing for fun and profit. (Yawn.) I can read all the interesting navel-gazing about Mormons, New Order Mormons, and ex-Mormons for free, on the ‘net. Some really excellent writers, too. Why on earth would I pay for it?

    That’s how I’ll respond to the book, if anyone asks, which nobody will, because almost nobody outside of Mormon-dom, ex-Mormondom, etc., gives a fig about Mormons.

    Tempest. Teapot.

  31. I don’t get very excited about this stuff. I just hope that any formal response from the church’s PR department isn’t as bizarre or sophomoric as the statement it made “responding” to Krakauer’s book.

  32. A couple of updates:

    1) The SL Tribune has published a correction, stating that Beck did not use the words “death
    squad” as reported. She does, however, describe violence made against mormon dissidents.

    2) Apparently the Oprah people are asking people to stop writing. Also, they have assured the LDS PR department that Oprah has no plans to showcase the book on her show. These are as-yet unsubstantiated.

    So… did the the campaign “work”? Or would Oprah even have given Martha a platform in the first place? Speculate at will!

  33. I think there a fair reason to think Oprah might have. She did have the Laake character from Secret Ceremonies on. Of course that was back when Oprah’s show was a little more targeted towards sensationalism. But the fact she had a professional relationship with Beck made it possible she might have her on. On the other hand, perhaps the seriousness of the charges and the fact there was a professional relationship meant she was less likely to have her on. Especially if there is a lawsuit being brought on Beck.

    Regarding the death squad quote in the Trib. That was unfortuante. She does mention death threats in the context of the Strengthening the Membership Committee. She also makes a big deal out of the pre-91 temple ceremonies and speaks as if the symbolism there was more than just symbolism. So while I think the Trib was unfortunate in their word choice, Beck definitely does head in that direction.

  34. I agree Clark, it’s a question of word choice, not inaccuracy.

  35. Clark and Steve, it’s also a question of context. The chapter in which Beck describes her growing anxieties about death threats is entitled “Paranoia.” It says that the legends and folklore about the Danites began to sound more plausible as she herself began receiving hate mail and threatening phone calls. It struck me that even as she makes some fairly incendiary suggestions about Mormon culture — and about the Strengthening the Membership Committee — she also acknowledges that there was an emotional intensity to her experience that went beyond what cool reason would suggest. But do you narrate experience in an autobiographical memoir coolly or for dramatic effect? That’s one of the narrative ethics questions I asked myself while reading her book. I also wonder how Peggy Fletcher Stack ended up with a quote that doesn’t appear in the book.

  36. “I also wonder how Peggy Fletcher Stack ended up with a quote that doesn’t appear in the book.”

    Pretty sloppy journalism. She pulled an excerpt from a paraphrase found in the circulated email (“The First Presidency maintains a death squad, in the tradition established by Joseph Smith, to deal with malcontents”), placed quotation marks around it, but she did not cite the real source of her quotation (a paraphrase by the email’s author). It appears from the Tribune story that Stack is quoting directly from the book itself.

  37. An interesting development is “Mormons” as a standard trope in literature, much like Orth. Jews are getting to be a standard trope, or Catholic Priests (ever wonder why they never have Greek Orth. priests in any of those movies?).

  38. Given that several people here seem to already have copies of the book, and it has been suggested that we not purchase it but borrow it from a library, may I ask if anyone with a copy is willing to mail it from blogger to blogger so that we may read it without enriching the author?

  39. “Pretty sloppy journalism.”

    Hardly. Reading the whole book and double-checking every quote against a PR release isn’t a requirement of writing a story for a newspaper. Might be different if you’re writing a review. A mistake? Sure, and it’s been acknowledged. But Peggy’s a first-rate journalist and not the least bit sloppy.

  40. John’s right — Peggy isn’t sloppy. I thought the article and its correction were appropriate and well-done. The mistake was unfortunate but not critical.

  41. I stand by my assertion. It’s an example of sloppy journalism.

    There was no need to read the whole book. She used a line from a circulated email–one making a remarkable assertion–and didn’t double check its accuracy. It’s clear from the email that the statement about the death squad is not a direct quote from the book. She should have checked it against the book before quoting it.

  42. Justin, would you like me to provide quotes which, if not using the term she used, definitely has the same meaning? Steve doesn’t want the contents discussed here. But I threw up a few quotes here.

  43. I’ve been follwing this controversy, but just now read through this discussion. (Oh, and this is my first ever BCC post.)

    I agree with those who think the e-mail campaign was not a good response to the Beck book-Oprah connection for many of the reasons already stated by others. But I also think it was a bad idea because think the campaign was completely unnecessary. Would Oprah profile this book or Beck’s story on her show? I don’t think so. Oprah is about Oprah. She wouldn’t give Beck a platform unless it will enhance the Oprah brand, and that brand is more and more about living the good life and getting a lot of cool free stuff. The topic of recovered memories of sexual abuse is a “out there” and a little stale for the talk show circuit. If Beck is going to benefit from her association with Oprah in the marketing of her book, it will come from her ability to say, “I write for Oprah.” Can’t do anything about that.

  44. Hey Chris! Great first comment, and welcome! (like your blog, btw, even if you don’t live in the Shangri-La of Manhattan).

    I think the question of whether the campaign was necessary is an interesting but unanswerable one. We can never know whether Oprah was ever considering having Beck on to talk about the book, unless someone around here has connections I don’t know. But even assuming she were to host the book, I still believe the campaign was ill-advised.

  45. Steve, thanks.

    You are, of course, correct that we can’t really know if it was necessary. I’ve been resisting the urge to call up my old boss, a woman who ran corporate communications at Harpo, Inc., for five years to ask her if she thinks Oprah would consider something like this. Based on what I know of Oprah from Deborah (which is probably more than the average person but still not all that much) I doubt Oprah would be willing to use her show to promote an employee. But you’re right. Who knows? I just enjoy stating my opinion as if it were fact from time to time. ;)

  46. D. Fletcher says:

    Peggy recognized the mistake, and it was later corrected in the paper. She isn’t “sloppy,” at all, but in fact, had to produce that article much more quickly than intended, because of a competing article in another newspaper. But it is ironic that anyone would point fingers at her, a reporter simply reporting a story and its public response. She doesn’t deserve any criticism in this thread.

  47. D., I agree with you entirely.

  48. Chris,

    What about Oprah’s own claims of abuse? She wouldn’t shy away from the topic because she could make it about herself. Due to the fact that we live (and I work) in a cramped apartment I get to hear it when my wife is home in the afternoon. Oprah can make any topic be about her. It is sickening.

  49. a random John:

    Good point. However, I don’t think Oprah’s abuse involves and “recovered memories” and I think she would tend to shy away from that. What does Dr. Phil say about recovered memories? That’s probably the best guage of her own thoughts on the topic, considering the relationship between those two.

    But at this point it appears to be an academic discussion, since Oprah has apparently indicated that she has no plans to highlight the book on her program.

  50. I had dinner tonight with a guy who used to be a psych and who was part of an HBO special on recovered memories. He commented that even with the best technology and technique, they never got anything that was reliable, which is why the entire field is considered defective. It was very interesting.

  51. I think I’m more of the persuasion that any attention is good attention. If misconceptions about the Church come up on a huge show like Oprah, I think that’s fine. It’s really just a perfect opportunity to begin to correct those misconceptions. Even though some people may ignorantly accept the claims made by Beck or Krakauer, or whomever, the key is that they are IGNORANTLY accepting them. If they are truly interested in learning the truth of the matter (getting to the bottom of it), then they’ll probably ask some Mormon they know to clarify. Sounds like a tailor-made missionary moment. In the now-immortal words of Brigham Young, “I wanna hear’em ring again (referring to the bells of hell that ring whenever temple work is initiated).”

  52. I would like to comment on what some have said about responding to or ignoring the kind of anti-mormon… um… inaccuracies that Beck and others put forth for public consumption.
    I feel that to ignore or brush off these kinds of things is better than getting into arguments or endless circular discussions where both sides do hardly more than talk past each other.
    However, if everyone always avoids any kind of response when such things are brought up, some people will get the idea that there is something to hide and that secrecy is being used to cover up issues that are embarassing.
    I think it is a good idea to sincerely state (for example) that the church does not teach (alleged false doctrine X) and that anyone doing so is not following the teachings of the church.
    If the person asking about X is sincerely seeking to know the truth, then he or she might accept an invitation to learn more from people who are qualified to explain the most important foundational truths of the gospel.
    If the person is only trying to start an argument or to tear down another’s beliefs, he or she does not need any answer refuting specific details of one allegation or another, it is almost guaranteed to be a waste of time.
    But I do not think that to sit back and try to ignore these things altogether is the best course of action. Every person should be ready and willing to stand up for his or her beliefs.

  53. john fowles says:

    Consider this a trackback to a bird’s eye view. (Blogger doesn’t support trackbacks, so this is the best I can do.)

  54. Wonder how many people found this after the recent Oprah show were she presented the mormon twin sisters. One of the two had a sex change and quote: “cannot wait to get my first penis”.

    They showed a picture of the temple and correctly told the world audience (over 22 million viewers) that we believe in premortal life. They should have mentioned the books written by mormon psychologist about the treatments proven to reverse this kind of extreme “disorder.”

    Remember the scriptures that say that God would not give you a burden that you cannot deal with??

    Although whatever others think about us is none of our business I should say that Oprah is an inspiring businesswoman and ethical genius. She is indeed inspired by our Heavenly Father, and that’s the truth. I am definitely voting to give her the Peace Nobel Prize.

    Thanks for allowing me to post my comments in this forum. Let’s all concentrate in the relief those souls in great need around us now.

    Love God as You Love Yourself,
    Ricarte

    “Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds”. – Albert Einstein

  55. Fratello Giovanni says:

    When dubbed into Italian, the movie Witness used “Mormon” for “Amish” as well. Funny thing, though – people on the street, when they asked if we were them, generally believed us when we said no. Same went for the Branch Davidians, very much in the news in spring of 1993. IOW, the Establishment tried to make the identification, but people recognized that the Establishment was a bit off – again.

    However, some people here – like some of my coworkers – see us in somewhat of the same light. (And I don’t mean with the Amish.) As such, I have a nice big picture of the Washington DC Temple in my cubicle.

  56. I read the book. I thought Beck made it clear that in the end she does not hate her father, her mother, or the LDS church. She claims to have had a terrible experience that opened to her what she consideres to be “true religion”. In fact, she quite plainly states that she loves her father (her father’s true self — whatever that really means), and bears no illwill toward the thousands of genuinely kind and compassionate Mormons in and outside of Provo.

    Yes, Beck left the church; yes, she feels she tells the truth about the LDS church. I wonder, what are the Mormons, the “average Mormons”, to do with those hundreds (if not thousands) of women who were alledgedly abused? Should they seek them out to offer their Saintly help and love? Should they shun them? It seems to me that whatever the “average Mormon” should do with Beck and her book, he or she needs to do in equall veracity to any Mormon (ex or otherwise) that claims sexual (or any other type) abuse by a trusted member of the LDS church. Don’t defend the Man because he tells you to, defend Him because he is worthy to be defended. If you’re doing that, then at least you have your integrity. If you sacrifice your integrity then you are worth nothing to anyone — you’ve become the eqivelant to a whore: repulsed by both those who use her and those who do not.

Trackbacks

  1. BY COMMON CONSENT BLOG: Dealing with Anti-Mormon Media

    So the French seem to think “Amish” is synonymous with “Mormon”. In fact, Europeans have less problem than we do with accurate depiction in fiction, and they are comfortable mixing fact and fable for entertainment’s sake.

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