Of note, is that on August 7, 2009, the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR) presented their eleventh annual FAIR Conference. The interesting thing is that the chairman of FAIR, John Lynch, gave a talk entitled "Uh oh!" to "Ah ha!" in Apologetics: 20/20 Foresight for a Faithful Future in Defending the Church in which he mentions two Internet organizations; MormonThink.com and StayLDS.com:
And I want to encourage everybody when, you go out to find assistance in trimming back the weeds, that you use trustworthy resources. Be careful, we're living in a very nuanced world today. There are wolves in sheep's clothing and I want to bring up two specifically.
One is an organization called MormonThink.com. Okay. I don't know if you're familiar with it. I bring it up only as a warning voice. MormonThink.com presents itself as an open environment where we can discuss principles of the gospel and the teachings of the gospel from an open perspective where the truth is really found out, let the chips fall where they may. I will tell you right now that there is an agenda of those that operate that website. Their objective is not to give you the delineating line but to allow all information to come in to fuzz the line for you and allow you to raise your own doubts.
Another one, perhaps just as dangerous is StayLDS.com. This is run by a gentleman I know personally, John Dehlin, and John for the most part I think is a sincere individual who likes to help people but I've got to tell you, in my opinion, he is way off the mark with this. Basically, what the organization is doing is saying "we want you to stay LDS even though you don't believe. " Why would you want to do that? Why would you want to have someone remain complacent in a state of doubt? It's beyond me.
So I raise it as a warning voice. Find trustworthy resources. Find those that stand firm. You know, let them be partisan. It's fine if they're partisan in the battle. If you want balanced information that's fine but make sure that when you're looking for the truth that you actually find those, at least on the part of the gospel, that stand up for what the Church believes in.
Also interesting is the first question asked at the end of brother Lynch's presentation:
Question: "Somebody said I don't think you know the purpose of StayLDS.com, I understand your concern."
Answer: Maybe I don't. All I know is that I think it's a dangerous thing for someone to tell you that's it's okay to remain—first of all, let me take a step back. I think that if you want to stay in the church, you should, okay? But I think it's a dangerous thing to encourage somebody to stay and to give up their seeking for getting the answers and to say it's okay to be a social Mormon, to get the benefits of association with the church and not seek to gain an affirmation of it's fundamental claims, of its claims as a restored gospel and authority upon the earth.
We of course disagree with FAIR's premise that MormonThink is a "wolf in sheep's clothing". Our 'agenda' is merely to bring up serious church issues that most members aren't aware of and provide resources to allow members to analyze these issues, ask questions and to encourage people to think objectively about these issues by utilizing ALL available sources to come to their own conclusions.
John Lynch said:
If you want balanced information that's fine but make sure that when you're looking for the truth that you actually find those, at least on the part of the gospel, that stand up for what the Church believes in.
We contend that we do stand up for what the LDS church believes in such as to be honest and true (article of faith # 13) by providing accurate church history, warts and all.
However, we do not agree that a website has to necessarily support the gospel, as taught by the LDS Church, in order to provide useful information to sincere truthseekers. To look at only websites and books that are loyal to the church is very biased. That is why MormonThink provides links to both critics and faithful LDS so readers can get a full spectrum of views regarding a variety of church issues that are troubling many members.
We agree with John Lynch when he says John Dehlin is "a sincere individual who likes to help people" as we know many LDS members that have been helped by John Dehlin. However, we strongly disagree with his other comments about John Dehlin being "way off the mark". Also, we think StayLDS.com is a good organization that tries to help people and offers an alternative to simply leaving the church. If the LDS Church isn't going to provide an outlet for church members that have problems with the church and want to talk about them, then organizations like StayLDS.com will step up to fill that void.
John Lynch was guest on John Dehlin's podcast series Mormonstories. The three podcasts he was interviewed for are entitled "Inside the Mind of a Mormon Apologist". They are podcasts #7, #8 & #9 available here. We thought they were good podcasts and they are worth listening to for anybody that wants to get an introduction to Mormon apologists' thinking from their point of view.