What Is “Anti-Mormon” Material?

One of the hardest parts of investigating your own beliefs is deciding which sources to trust in that search for truth.

The dilemma plays out within the sphere of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as trying to decide if a source might be considered “Anti-Mormon.” Is this source designed to hurt my faith? Is this source one that I should purposefully avoid in order to maintain my conviction that the church is true?

This type of thinking is contrary to the teachings of Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley:

[The counsel to avoid defecting from the church] does not mean that you cannot read widely. As a Church, we encourage gospel scholarship and the search to understand all truth. Fundamental to our theology is belief in individual freedom of inquiry, thought, and expression. Constructive discussion is a privilege of every Latter-day Saint.

[emphasis added]

Or consider the following admonition from Elder Uchtdorf:

Now, never in the history of the world have we had easier access to more information—some of it true, some of it false, and much of it partially true.

Consequently, never in the history of the world has it been more important to learn how to correctly discern between truth and error.

[emphasis added]

The issue we are presented with regarding what sources to trust does seem to play into this dilemma; however, the choices are not between what sources are “Pro-Mormon” or “Anti-Mormon.” The problem is to decide between what is true and what is false.

Because we know that God is “the God of all truth,” we know that by seeking after truth, we also seek after God (President Howard W. Hunter, Come to the God of All Truth, Ensign, 1994). There is nothing true that can be simultaneously under the purview of the God of Truth and under the umbrella of “Anti-Mormon” material.

The only type of material, source, etc. that can be labeled as “Anti-Mormon” is that which is opinion-based and false. If a statement or fact is true, then that’s it. Regardless of the motivation behind sharing that fact that is true, because the fact is true, that disqualifies it from being labelled as either “Pro-Mormon” or “Anti-Mormon”: it just is, and that’s the end of it. If a fact is being used to misrepresent or skew another argument, that does not disqualify that fact from being true, it only calls into question the resulting assertion made from that fact. The resulting assertion, if indeed untrue–meaning that it is false and opinion-based–could be considered “Anti-Mormon.”

Can a person be “Anti-Mormon?”

The most interesting part of this problem in LDS culture is the confusion of the information and the source. A person can be any number of things, yet still express information that is true. Even the most ridiculous example of a Michael Jackson impersonator explaining that “1+1=2” demonstrates how a person of very little authority on the matter can still express an idea that is true. As another example, Katy Perry would still be expressing truth even while wearing a Luigi costume and sending out a preposterous number of text messages to children in China saying, “Earth is spherical, don’t let flat-earthers change your mind.” No matter how ridiculous the person/entity/website, no matter their position on any given subject, that person can still speak truth. Information is separate from the source, and any attack on the source is no attack on the information it expresses.

So yes, a person can be “Anti-Mormon”, but that label is only an expression of the opinion they identify with. The label of “Anti-Mormon” on any source makes no claim to the veracity of the information the source promotes: information must be determined to be true or false in its own right.

So the problem here still exists: even if a source or person is considered “Anti-Mormon”, that makes no impact on any argument they make about the nature of a subject. An “Anti-Mormon” can promote good and true ideas about the church. There are even truths that may impact people’s faith; however, that doesn’t mean that one should avoid truth in order to maintain your current opinions about the church. After all, if you avoid something that is true, or you ignore facts in order to protect your testimony or another person’s testimony, that only breeds ignorance and falsehood (and therefore simply an opinion) concerning the subject. The way true information interacts with your faith is something you will have to work out on your own, but please do not perpetuate the idea that just because something does not align with what a person initially thought about the church that the person should avoid that information and call it “Anti-Mormon.”