Mormon Slander

(Mormons have always used slander and lies against those who have questioned LDS validity)



And thus, even as I have said, if ye are faithful ye shall assemble yourselves together to rejoice upon the land of Missouri, which is the land of your inheritance, which is now the land of your enemies.

Chardon Spectator April 12, 1834

Mormon Trial. -- Great interest was excited in the public mind, in this country, in relation to the complaint of Joseph Smith, jun., the great prophet, and originator of Mormonism, against Doctor P. Hurlburt, the exposer of the Mormon mystery. The complaint was made, before a justice of the peace, to bind Hurlburt to keep the peace towards the prophet. The justice ordered Hurlburt to enter into bonds to keep the peace, and to appear before the Court of Common Pleas. On Tuesday last, the case was heard before the court. The court-house was filled almost to suffocation, with an eager and curious crowd of spectators, to hear the Mormon trial, as it was called. A great number of witnesses attended, and were examined, chiefly members of the Mormon society, among whom was the renowned Prophet himself. It appeared that Hurlburt had been a disciple of Mormonism, and was ordained an elder by Joe himself, but for misconduct, as the Mormon witnesses alleged, was excommunicated. After this, he discovered that Joe was a false prophet, and the Book of Mormon a cheat: -- began lecturing against it, and examining and collecting proof that the story of the Book of Mormon was taken from a manuscript romance, written by one Spalding, who formerly lived at Conneaut and who died before publication. Many witnesses testified to threats of revenge from Hurlburt. One witness, who testified to the threats of Hurlburt, on cross-examination being asked the reason why she had not communicated these threats to Smith, answered that she did not believe Hurlburt, or any other human being, had the power to hurt the prophet; -- but Joe himself appears to have placed little reliance upon his divine invulnerability; -- for he testified that he became afraid of bodily injury from the defendant. The Court finally ordered Hurlburt to find security in the sum of Two Hundred Dollars, to keep the peace for the period of six months.

Elders Journal


Far West, Mo., August 1838

Hurlburt and the Howes are among the basest of mankind, and known to be such and yet the priests and their coadjutors hail them as their best friends and publish their lies, speaking of them in the highest terms. And after all this, they want us to say, that they are pious souls and good saints. Can we believe it? Surely men of common sense will not ask us to do it.

Good men love to associate with good men; and bad men with bad ones, and when we see men making friends with drunkards, thieves, liars, and swindlers, shall we call them saints? If we were to do it, we might be justly charged with "partaking of their evil deeds."

Therefore until we have more evidence than we have now, (Mormons had no evidence) we shall always think when we see men associating with scoundrels, that they themselves are scoundrels. And there we shall leave them for the present, firmly believing that when the day of decision has come that we shall see all the priests who adhere to the sectarian religions of the day, with all their followers, without one exception, receive their portion with the devil and his angels.


Reporters need thick skin to cover LDS Church

By Joel Campbell

Saturday, Jan. 24, 2009

Readers are unforgiving of even the smallest mistakes in religion news reports and often attempt to draw religion writers into debates, according to two reporters who regularly cover the LDS Church.

Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune religion reporter, and Jennifer Dobner, who covers the LDS Church for the Associated Press, spoke at an event sponsored by the student chapter of Society of Professional Journalists at Brigham Young University Thursday.

"(Reporting on the LDS Church) is very challenging, very frustrating and enlightening at the same time," Dobner said.

Readers often inundate religion reporters with e-mail complaints and comments about religion news stories. It's not just Mormon readers who are touchy about how journalists cover their faith.

"When you make a mistake in the world of religious journalism boy you hear about it, not just the way you hear about it if you misspell some athlete's name. If you make a mistake in the world of religion, it really upsets in a profound way so you really have to be careful," Stack told students.

Stack said readers' perceived biases plague her life as a reporter. She frequently gets hundreds of e-mails from one group or another saying she misrepresented their beliefs.

"You have to pretty tough to take all the personal name calling," Stack said noting many of the comments readers post online about her reporting.  For example, many stories generate an online "slug fest" between Mormons and Mormon critics that attempt to draw in Stack.

Dobner said, "That is one of the interesting in covering Mormons. Sometimes they are very decided, at times, about how they understand their history, how they understand their theology, how they understand their practice and a single word can be just like a wildfire and produce an unbelievable amount of feedback."

Many readers also misunderstand the role of religion news writers.

"Most religious groups are not used to being written about and especially being written about critically," Stack said. "People often assume that a newspaper or a wire service is there to promote their religion and, therefore, they expect writing that sounds the way they would talk or promote their own faith. They are always a little bit shocked if the story sounds more neutral than that."

Stack tells people it is not her job to promote their faith. It is her job to report on their faith.

Technology is also changing the reporting craft. The rush to drive traffic to the Web has decreased the reporters' confidence in their reporting.  Stack said she once had time to contact 10 sources before a story was published, but now editors are eager to post a story online after she contacts three sources.

At a personal level, both Dobner and Stack react differently when sources inevitably question the reporters about their own faith. Dobner is an Episcopalian and freely tells sources that she is not Mormon. Stack tells sources it is "none of their business."

"When I say no (I am not Mormon) sometimes I feel completely dismissed as if I could never understand and could never get this story right in any way because I don't get it," Dobner said.

Unlike government, where officials are expected to be open, religions are less forthcoming. Dobner expressed frustration with getting information from LDS officials, even when the information sought was not controversial and would likely put the church in a good light. With no response, Dobner is forced to write "the church refused to comment."

Both find their jobs personally fulfilling. Stack said she would not work at the Tribune if you she could not cover religion. For Dobner, who has been covering the LDS Church for four years, also finds satisfaction in her role.

"Our job is, in part, to open minds, open dialog and educate," Dobner said.



New book says anti-LDS bias led to Romney's downfall

By Peggy Fletcher Stack
The Salt Lake Tribune



    Mitt Romney's presidential campaign exposed an undercurrent of anti-Mormon bigotry in this country, mostly coming from the religious right, LDS historian Craig Foster argues in a new book published this week.

    Foster, who has studied historic anti-Mormon pamphlets and tracts, acknowledges that several factors including Romney's own changing positions, his aloofness and his image as a wealthy elitist contributed to his loss. But he also believes religion played a huge role.

    "Romney's campaign was burdened by a piece of baggage that he would not and could not throw off and which he could not explain in a way the electorate could understand: his Mormonism," Foster writes in the conclusion of A Different God? Mitt Romney, the Religious Right and the Mormon Question. "[It] became his Achilles' heel. It attracted a phenomenal amount of scrutiny and comment, and Romney's strategy of first, refusing to discuss it, and second, of trying to translate it into terms acceptable to Evangelicals, simply fell flat."

    Foster offers numerous examples of what he sees as religious bigotry, starting with polls, revealing how many Americans would not vote for a Mormon from 43 percent in November 2006 to 30 percent in May 2007.

    He describes media bias, noting a Pew Forum report that 35 percent of all religion-related campaign stories between January 2007 and April 2008 focused on Romney; only 4 percent looked at Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

    "It's been nearly half a century since our political journalism has witnessed anything quite as breath-takingly noxious and offensive as the current attempt to discredit the former Massachusetts' governor for his faith," Foster quotes Tim Rutten of The Los Angeles Times as saying.

    On the whole, journalists covering Romney's campaign who called the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "were not as knowledgeable about Mormon history and doctrine," LDS spokeswoman Kim Farah told Foster. "There [were] probably more negative than positive articles as a result of the campaign."

    But Foster reserves his most detailed criticism for the religious right, especially Huckabee supporters. Foster believes anti-Mormon sentiment fueled Huckabee's win in Iowa, the beginning of the end for Romney in a state he was predicted to win.

    This spring a group of Evangelicals launched a "No Mitt VP" campaign, and, according to Fox News reporter Molly Henneberg, many of the signers were Huckabee supporters.

    Though many Evangelicals denied Romney's Mormonism was an issue, columnist Robert Novak in October 2007 noted that everywhere he went Romney's religious affiliation was cited "as the source of opposition to his candidacy."

    Foster has captured many of the highlights of Romney's campaign as it wrestled with how to deal with his Mormon faith. The full text of Romney's "religion" speech in December 2007 is printed in the appendix.

    Though Foster's perspective is not original, Romney "addicts" will enjoy his detailed descriptions and analysis of the 18-month ride with one of their own in the national spotlight.

    The book also will provide an important base of information for Romney's future political plans. Though Romney now says he's not interested in a cabinet level position or a 2012 run at the presidency, Foster feels certain Romney will try again.

    "The American nation," Foster writes, "has not seen the last Romney campaign."