Saturday, April 09, 2016

Why Do They Lie? Lee Baker's Radio Deception

I called into an anti-Mormon radio program in Salt Lake today (April 9, 2016) which was discussing the decline of LDS membership, and specifically stating "Why Millions of Mormons are leaving the Church".  So I did some research, and then called to point out that  according to a 2015 PEW article on religious affiliation in the USA, between 2007 and 2014 the LDS decline was at most 20,000 people, an amount the report characterized as negligible by designating it with a "-".  In the same article they showed Evangelical adherents had declined by .8% of the USA population, or some 3-million people, and Protestantism in general was down by 7.8% of its membership.

So I called in, pointed out the real numbers, and then asked why they were not asking the same questions about non-LDS Christian denominations, what people were finding out that was driving people to leave those denominations.  The answer of course is a general religious malaise in the world, and trying to pin it on dirty secrets coming out on the Internet about Mormonism begs the question about the more substantial declines in other groups.

As is typical, Lee Baker can't stay focused on a subject when it starts going badly, so he jumped to the topic of polygamy, and why Joseph Smith did not tell Emma about all of his plural wives.  He and his wife tried to represent that the Church essay on polygamy in Kirtland and Nauvou stated Emma only knew about 4 of his plural wives.  That is a misrepresentation.  She attended four, and she probably knew about more, but she likely did not know about all of them.

I  wanted to address the subject of Joseph Smith marrying other men's wives, the practice of polyandry.  They have repeatedly attacked Joseph for marrying other men's wives, implying he had sex with them for personal gratification.  I pointed out the evidence shows Joseph married about 14 women married to other men; they usually informed their first husbands, who also sometimes attended; there is no evidence of any sexual relations with any of them, but these were the category of dynastic marriages, meaning for eternity to seal families together.

At this point Lee Baker says I am disagreeing with the Church essay, which states in footnote 30 (which he repeated several times) that:
Polyandry, the marriage of one woman to more than one man, typically involves shared financial, residential, and sexual resources, and children are often raised communally.
 He then argued this was clearly stating Joseph had sex with these 14 polyandrous wives based on this footnote.

I have done enough research to know a selective quote out of context when I hear it. I knew the record does not support a physical relationship between Joseph and the Polyandrous wives, so I pushed back saying the statement is not about Joseph Smith's relationship, even though I did not have the essay in front of me at the time.  I have read it before, and I would have remembered such a statement.

Well, before I could respond much further they cut me off.  I looked up the essay to get the context of the quote.  Here it is, I will highlight the part he must have accidentally left off:
Hales, Joseph Smith’s Polygamy, 1:421–37. Polyandry, the marriage of one woman to more than one man, typically involves shared financial, residential, and sexual resources, and children are often raised communally. There is no evidence that Joseph Smith’s sealings functioned in this way, and much evidence works against that view.
I can only imagine how one can justify in one's mind such creative editing, and doing it essentially in a face to face conversation.  It is so common among so many anti-Mormons to distort the truth, I don't know what they think.  But it reminds me of the remark from Elder Turley I cited at the beginning of the call:  We don't worry about people studying LDS history, we worry they won't study it enough.

I try to let everyone prove themselves honest or a liar.  Listen to the last 15 minutes of their broadcast, and judge for yourselves.  The radio program should be posted by tomorrow night or Monday for sure.  Let me know what you think.