Thursday, February 25, 2010

Media Reporting and Justice - Just Witch-Hunting?

At many stages of man's existence upon the earth there have been what we term "witch-hunts" against some particular type of crime, race or idea. Not only did the early Saints have to face this, but even in these latter-days such persecution has cost the lives of Latter-Day Saints (such as Joseph and Hyrum Smith).

Today much hysteria and witch-hunt logic exists relative to certain serious crimes. Such things as drug dealing and paedophilia can be used to create strong feelings of anger against proposed perpetrators. Such anger is used by Satan to distort truth and cause many innocent men (mostly men cop this) to suffer as a consequence.

I would like to quote the following media article. I would say that this article is far fairer than any other I have read on the subject. So I feel it the best to use for examination of the more subtle ways that people can be influenced. The report even gives some of the views of both sides. I have added the paragraph numbers for convenience.


Charges Dropped Against Man Accused of Sex Abuse
October 16th, 2007 @ 6:03pm
Sandra Yi and Andrew Adams Reporting

[1] On the day a man was supposed to go on trial for sexually abusing two young girls, prosecutors dropped the charges.

[2] Prosecutors didn't think they could convince a jury to convict.

[3] The girls' family expressed anger about the turn in the case, calling it an injustice. Michelle Galloway, a relative of the young girls, said, "These children have not been protected by the state of Utah, by the prosecutors."

[4] Galloway has a calendar that documents the time and place of each alleged sexual assault against the two little girls by 50-year-old Dan Kaighn. The girls' mother kept track of it. Galloway says, "This is imprinted in their minds and on their souls, so they will never forget entirely, and it has impacted every day of their lives."

[5] Prosecutors said the girls' stories became too vague when questioned by other attorneys; that's one reason they decided to drop the case.

[6] Randy Kennard, with the Utah County Attorney's Office, says, "I would be the last one to say that it is not possible these crimes didn't occur. But we have an ethical responsibility to not pursue charges unless we have a reasonable belief that we can succeed in a jury trial."

[7] The girls first told their mother they were being abused in 2002, but there wasn't enough evidence to pursue charges.

[8] Two years later, a second investigation led to Kaighn's arrest. The case dragged on in court for three years. The girls' relatives say that made it hard for the girls, who are now 7 and 8 years old, to remember all the details.

[9] Kaighn has always denied the allegations and passed two polygraph tests. Michael Esplin, Kaighn's attorney, said, "He's had trouble getting a job with allegations like this. His options are limited in terms of ... teaching is out."

[10] He says Kaighn is trying to get his life back. The girls' family says they have no choice but to try and move on too. Their focus now is to protect them and other children.

[11] Galloway says, "Unfortunately, we cannot trust what's beyond our reach, so we have to know where our children are, who they are with and what's happening to them."

[12] Kaighn, who was once a teacher, is now working as a waiter in another state.

[13] The girls' family has a protective order against him.


You may feel this is a very unbiased report. But it is poorly written if we are to remain unbiased. The first paragraph can present that the accused is guilty. It states that the man was supposed to go on trial for sexually abusing two young girls. This later part presents an inference that the crime happened. Also the word "supposed" presents that he got away with something that should have occurred.

This would be better stated that there had been a desire to make a trial in regard claims that a man had sexually abused two young girls.

The second paragraph should state, "Prosecutors didn't feel there was enough evidence to prove that the crimes occurred."

The third paragraph suggests that the case had actually turned by this change in stance of the Lawyers. This makes the inference that things were going well before.

In the fourth paragraph we are informed that the mother and a relative kept a diary of the proposed abuse. Are we serious? What was the mother doing? Did she go along and watch the abuse and record it in her diary as it was happening? If so, she should be going to jail herself.

In this paragraph this relative is quoted as saying, "this is imprinted in their minds and on their souls..." Yet in the next paragraph it says, "Prosecutors said the girls' stories became too vague when questioned by other attorneys." And paragraph 8 states, "The girls' relatives say that made it hard for the girls, ... to remember all the details." This seems strange for acts that are supposedly "imprinted in their minds." Good sounding journalism, but what about unbiased reporting?

In paragraph 6 we have Randy Kennard quoted as saying that he has to admit that it isn't impossible for the man to be innocent, yet then claiming they don't feel confident that they can show that he is guilty. What rubbish! If there is insufficient evidence to prove the case how can he claim it merely isn't impossible that he is innocent? If there is so little evidence, how is he so convinced that he is guilty? I'm glad he's not my defence lawyer.

The next paragraph (7) presents the idea that the girls claims are true, in the way it is written.

Perhaps paragraph 8 may have been less biased had it pointed out that the jury obviously didn't find the girls testimonies as being consistent; else he would have been convicted. The jury obviously felt the stories may have been contrived.

Paragraph 11 has an interesting quote from Galloway, again. She says, "we have to know where our children are, who they are with and what's happening to them." This is a strange statement considering that the mother says she not only knew where they were but was recording the details.

The article both starts and ends with negatives toward the accused (paragraphs 1 and 13).

I rest my case.

One of the many problems with this type of reporting is that it incites vigilantes to go out and exact "Justice." I remember the situation of a man in jail of about 45. He was murdered by 2 young inmates who had concluded that he must have been a paedophile. There were some of such in that prison. But this man was in for drink driving. This is typical of Satan. He has persuaded them to murder this man who hadn't committed such a crime. We must be careful of what we accept as input. Trial by media is not a trial at all.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Under What Circumstances Should Children Not Obey Parents?

In the Law given to Moses we have the 10 Commandments telling us (among other things) _

"Honour your father and your mother: that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gave you." Exodus 20:12

In addition to this Paul informs us _

"Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. Honour your father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise)." Eph 6:1-2

Yet Christ states _

"Don't think that I came to send peace on earth: I didn't come to send peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, the daughter against her mother... And a man's foes will be those of his own household." Matt 10:34-36

The Old Testament qualifies what honoring parents actually entails. Or at least it qualifies what it isn't. Cursing your parents or being an alcoholic and glutton, against the parents instructions, are cited as disobedience to this commandment. And the penalty for such was death (serious stuff)(Exod 21:17)(Deut 21:18-21).

But this is all that is stated in qualifying how the commandment was intended to be taken.

Paul's statement is a bit more to the point, by using the term "obey." Though he qualifies it by saying that the parents must be "in the Lord." And we may interpret Christ's statement to imply that the "variance" would be more likely to be with non-member parents. Thus they certain couldn't be said to be "in the Lord."

When Lamoni refused to obey his father's command to kill Ammon, Ammon didn't dispute Lamoni's right to disobey his parent's request (Alma 20:14-15).

Abraham chapter 1 implies that Abraham has disobeyed his father by refusing to turn to idol worship.

While these might seem obvious, it demonstrates that the idea of being obedient to parents has a lot of flexability within it; from a spiritual perspective, at least.

While both my mother and step-father are in the church, I wouldn't accept to have them tell me what to do in regard spiritual or temporal things. In fact sometimes they have advised me contrary to what the Spirit has advised. I will listen to their counsel. But then I would turn to the Spirit for understanding of what I should do. And we should be led of the Spirit if we wish to obtain eternal life (D&C 45:57, 42:61, 4th Article of Faith).

It should also be noted that in making his statement Paul uses the term "children." So what was a "child" to Paul?

Historic writings and the Bible seem to point to the age of 12 as the age of becoming an adult. Egyptians at the time of Ankenaten and Tutankamen were marrying at around 13. Such still occurs in many countries now. Christ's experience at the temple at 12 seems to be quoted as some kind of coming of age (though Luke mentioned that Jesus continued to honor the commandment at that point, and not just obey his Father [God])(Luke 2:51).

Moses talked of man being the head of the home in a marriage. Moses then states _

"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: And they shall be one flesh." (Gen 2:24)

So the woman has left her parent's authority and come under her husband's. And he has left his parents and has to govern his family himself. This seems to legally end the commandment to honor parents (not that there is anything wrong with giving ear to righteous parents thereafter).

We, therefore, would have to conclude that Paul's reference to "children" implied those unmarried. This makes sense when we consider that the word "woman" and the word "wife" are exactly the same word in both the Hebrew and Greek (demonstrating that marriage and womanhood go together).

Yet in our society people aren't marrying until later ages. People often don't get married until 20+. So Paul's advice becomes a little bit difficult, as we have young adults (particularly by Paul's standard of age) still at home with their parents.

Housework requires doing. All living under the same roof must do their share. And as the patriarch in the home this is for the father to delegate. Financial responsibility is placed upon the young person as they receive employment, to assist with living expenses in the home. And consideration should be given, by young people, to parents, to let them know where they are going and when they will be home: This is a common courtesy that even parents would be doing with each other.

But young people must be given freedom of religion and emotional expression, where such doesn't conflict with the rights of others, and those areas mentioned in the paragraph above.

In my experiences I have seen 2 sides to this problem of parents and their children relative to honoring parents. Firstly I have seen where children need holding back. And secondly I have seen where parents suppress their children, using this commandment to authorise their power to suppress.

This latter is where I re-emphasise my statement in the second last paragraph that freedom of religion (including all forms of religious expression) and emotion (including all forms of emotional expression) must be given, where such doesn't conflict with the rights of others.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Defending the Church

Unfortunately money is to be made from writing material against churches _ "bash material". Though I could easily write such stuff myself, how could I ever face God after having done so (apart from the spiritual damage to myself)? Many who write these things do so in total ignorance, and are just out for the money. There are, however, some few (and I hope for their sake it's very few) who do it knowing the truth but deliberately blinding themselves to that testimony; for those we should feel saddened.

The first thing most writers of bash material attempt to do is to appear knowledgeable of the subject. This means quoting statistics about the church. Often these statistics are incredibly out of date, and one gets the feeling from reading on that the person has taken other bash material and just taken bits from each. Most of the bash material, that I have read against churches, has been written by seemingly ignorant people.

The next thing done in most cases is the writer praises certain aspects of the church, such as no smoking, or drinking of alcohol, the sports and youth programs, unpaid missionaries, the genealogical facilities, etc. The purpose in this is to make the writer sound as if they are without prejudice. This is often mingled with the first step in smaller or more direct publications. Some bash material will continue scattering this approach throughout the publication in order to remain sounding unprejudiced.

First Things To Look For

Having stated these techniques let's look at some generalisations about the material. Firstly you will find the arguments have more holes in them than Swiss cheese. The larger the material, the more the contradictions contained therein. A classic is the claim I have often read, that we don't believe in Jesus Christ. Yet the same material will go on to state that Joseph Smith claimed that God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him. Some will go on further to state that The Book of Mormon claims that this same person we supposedly don't believe in (that is Jesus Christ) visited the Americas. Any thinking person should be able to see from these latter two claims that (a.) We believe that He lived, (b.) That He still does, (c.) That He has power therefore over death, and, (d.) Is in special favour with The Father.

I have also seen claimed that Joseph Smiths' mother was a Gipsy, and that he was a gold digger. Yet the same publications will often go on to state that the family were on a farm at the time of the first vision. This is an unusual place for Gipsies and gold diggers. My encyclopaedia tells me that Gipsies did not arrive in North America till the late 1800's_ making her about 100 years before her time (though one could not expect the average reader to be aware of that).

If the writer has been a member of the church they will often exaggerate their involvement by quoting general authorities they've met as being "friends".

Innuendo and misrepresentation are what makes up almost the whole material in smaller publications. And/or it will go for the shock/scare approach.

Never be conned by the pamphlet or another person into adopting a point of view that it/they tell you Mormons have. To quote an example of this: While on my mission my companion and I had opportunity to bare our testimony before about a third of a minister's congregation. Before we started however, the minister butted in and said to them, "by the way they do this because they believe that this testimony will be brought up against you at the judgement". My companion then went on to bare his testimony in that attitude, instead of with love and concern. What the minister said was correct _ we do believe that the testimony will be brought against them in the judgement; but in most cases, testimony is given so that people may feel it's truth and be converted. If you do not like the way the church doctrine is defined, redefine it. If someone says, "Well that's what this material is saying," Then you say that once they are more familiar with Christ's' doctrine, that they will come to sense what is wrong with it, (assuming that you cannot define what is wrong with it).

The main way this problem arises is in the material's automatic assumption that you must defend every word stated anywhere, by any general authority. In fact some will quote statements they made before they even became one.

What Do You Really Need To Defend

In 1890, and in 1978 declarations were put before the general membership of the church, and were sustained as Scripture. Sections 137 and 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants have recently gone through the same process. These joined the rest of the Scriptures sustained by the general membership in our Standard Works, ie. The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. As stated by President Harold B. Lee, "These are the standard by which we judge". He goes on further to state that any statement made that is not couched and supported by the standard works should only be regarded as opinion, regardless of the position of the man who said it. These statements do not mean that the prophet doesn't receive revelation. What it means is that you should not attempt to defend anything other than what you know to be accepted by the general church membership as Scripture ie. The Standard Works.

If you attempt to defend anything else, (1.) You are being unfair to the church membership; and (2.) You will come unstuck, as you find yourself trying to defend more and more obscure books, and by people who may not even have been general authorities (at all, or when they wrote them). You probably do not know the name of every general authority who's lived, and the people to whom you are speaking wouldn't either. I remember an instance when some members were listening to some bash material and circumstances had me there to defend the church. The person from another church said, "well Brigham Young said that his discourses are as good as Scripture". To which the Holy Ghost inspired me with the reply, "If I say something is as good as done, is it done or not?". The man said something about that not being much of an answer and quoted Brigham Young again, to which the Holy Ghost said to again give the same response. Don't be conned by someone into thinking your answer isn't satisfactory. The Standard Works are all you should, or need to defend, and you stick by that regardless of what they say, EVEN IF THE STATEMENT IS EASY TO DEFEND. If you defend one such statement, you have shifted ground. DON'T

Personal Preparation

The first thing to know is that there is an answer to every argument. Be assured of that. If you don't happen to know what it is don't be afraid to say, "well I don't know everything yet. I know there is an answer to your question, as the church is true, but I do not at this time know what it is". Let me add though that to date I have never had to say that, in my many experiences, and some going for 2-3 hours. This I mention for two reasons. Both of which are important to remember. (1.) That there truly is an answer to every argument against the church. And, (2.) That you should seek, and pray for the guidance of the Holy Ghost, in any spiritual endeavour. If you feel you have trouble getting things from the Holy Ghost, I would suggest reading Luke 11: 5 -13.

How much more would God give the Holy Spirit to one attempting to serve another?

Do not feel you have to have all the answers before you can answer claims against the church. However it would make your job a lot easier if you read the Standard Works you are attempting to defend. So an important part is regular personal Scripture study. Think about what you read so it becomes alive to you, and part of you _ you can see it's fulfilment around you; those who hate are not happy, those who love have the peace inside Christ promised, etc.

Plant firmly in your mind that you aren't there to argue your point with contention. The Holy Ghost will have difficulty communicating with you if you are contentious. If you find yourself feeling irate in a conversation of this nature recognise that you are probably irate at the ignorance, lies, and deceit. So put your interest in the person's personal welfare back firmly as first thought. Then the Holy Ghost will come to you as you're feeling love and concern.

Church History

This is the easiest area to deal with, yet some bash material only contains allegations about church leaders, and other notable (and sometimes some obscure, I should add) characters of church history. Many and varied are the allegations.

We have the claim that the three witnesses denied that they saw the gold plates. Yet we have witness that they did not.

A man was paid a large sum of money to go around and find people to sign affidavits against Joseph Smith. Some (at least) received money to sign them _ compensation for their time (though Joseph Smith obtained enough real enemies). Yet on the other hand we have witness of great people who highly praised him. The same goes for other church leaders. So the arguments are meaningless. Nothing can be resolved, or proven as there is as much for, as against. Neither side can prove the truth of either side of the testimonies. That stories, and testimonies exist against him would only stand as evidence that he was called of God, rather than the other way. We see evidence of this in the New Testament where the guards were bribed to claim that the apostles had come and taken the body of Jesus (Matt 28:12 -13). This evidence, from the guards, was used to make the apostles look like thieves, and liars. Verse 15 of that chapter states that the story against them stuck _ it did not go away. Today it would be the kind of thing put in bash pamphlets, and books. So while the stories and testimonies for and against church leaders, past and present, may leave us nowhere, these opposing testimonies do serve as a necessary sign in their favour. Jesus Christ clearly stated that all manner of evil would be said against His followers (eg. Matt 10:25). If you lived at the time of Christ what could you say in defence against these allegations against His apostles? So when faced with any allegations about Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, etc., regarding anything they supposedly did, you just say that the arguments are meaningless as nothing can be proven either for, or against. I found this out from experience. Even having answered all the arguments put to me against Brigham Young, and Joseph Smith, people would say, "Well your story of those events is different to those stated in this book." Therefore they were left unsure. So the best thing is to just tell them why it is a meaningless discussion and suggest that your discussion should turn to something where things can be resolved by someone earnestly seeking the truth.

The most important tool you need for such conversations is the Holy Ghost. Having him there you will be able to answer anything.