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Total Articles: 9
Gregory L. Smith, Mormon Apologist working for the Neal A. Maxwell Institute - a Mormon apologetic organisation.
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Greg Smith's Defense Of Boyd K. Packer
Friday, Jul 20, 2012, at 09:56 AM
Original Author(s): Consiglieri
Topic: GREGORY L. SMITH   -Link To MC Article-
I went back last night and read (for the third time now) Greg Smith's defense of Boyd K. Packer in his "Shattered Glass" article in last year's one (and only) copy of the newly christened Mormon Studies Review.

The reason I did this is because I still could not figure out what the first half of his paper was about. (The second half was easy to see as a supercillious slam on the website Mormons for Marriage, in which Smith uses the same tactics I expect he employed in his 100-page Dehlin "hit piece" which has yet to see the light of day.)

The first half of the paper deals with the one sentence that was said in Elder Packer's October 2010 GC address that was deleted from the written report. That sentence was a question, "Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?" This was queried in connection with his apparent allegations that homosexuals were not born that way, and that they could overcome this orientation by some means.

Greg Smith argues that this is not what Elder Packer was saying, that the deleted interrogatory may have given an impression not intended by Elder Packer, and that the deletion of that question from the report of his talk makes it clear that is not what Elder Packer was trying to say. (Greg then goes into six prior conference addresses of Elder Packer to try to show at length that this is the case.) This constitutes the first half of his paper.

Going back over it, though, the thing I don't get is this--It is not only the question that gives the impression this is what Elder Packer is saying. It is every thing else that was said around the question, and which still remains in the Conference report.

I will reproduce here the paragraph as it was given in Conference, and then the paragraph as it was amended in the written report.

Elder Packer's Conference Talk:

"Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, He is our Heavenly Father." [Packer-2010A, 9:009:20]

Now the Conference report:

"Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn temptations toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Remember, God is our Heavenly Father." [Packer-2010B]

I can see no difference the omitted question makes in the meaning of this passage. It is clear in both that Elder Packer is saying homosexuals are not "preset" and their feelings are not "inborn." He also says in both that it is the "temptation toward the pure and unnatural" that can be overcome, meaning he believes a homosexual can choose (or be trained) to be heterosexual.

In short, I am at a loss as to why Greg Smith spent so much time and research trying to explain that Elder Packer did not mean what he obviously meant.

Greg Smith's full article can be found here. ... m=1andamp;id=820
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Greg Smith And The Plot To Uncover The "Mole"
Thursday, Jan 24, 2013, at 07:48 AM
Original Author(s): Doctor Scratch
Topic: GREGORY L. SMITH   -Link To MC Article-
"...the [Maxwell] Institute leaks like a sieve..." --Daniel C. Peterson, 6/14/2012

Since we first began to hear about the now-infamous Greg Smith-authored "hit piece" on John Dehlin, many of us have wanted to read the text for ourselves. "When will the article be published?" several people asked. Then, of course, the events of June 2012 happened, and the FARMS-run Review ceased to exist. With the launch of Mormon Interpreter scarcely a month later, though, there was renewed hope that, at last, we might get to see the text of this apocryphal article. Something like half a year has elapsed, though, and all we have been given are assurances that we must "have patience." The article, one assumes, will eventually find its way into the public sphere. But when?

Perhaps the more salient question is, Why hasn't the article been published? Since Mormon Interpreter is essentially a glorified blog, it would take little more than a click of the mouse to upload it to the World Wide Web.

Thanks to Dr. Midgley, we now know that orders came down from Church headquarters, indicating that the article was not to be published by the Maxwell Institute. Do those orders still hold true now that Mormon Interpreter is an independent venture, though? Moreover, given what we've just learned about this alleged, aggressive "letter-writing campaign," why would the apologists give two squats about what the Brethren think? If the don't fear discipline over insubordination of that kind, why would they fear whatever might be coming their way in the wake of a "hit piece" publication?

Or is there yet another reason why they are sitting on the article? It turns out that, per one of my "informants," there is indeed another reason why the "hit piece" hasn't surfaced.

Let's roll the clock back to the summer of 2012. The apologists' dander was up, and nerves were increasingly frayed. Of special note was Prof. Hamblin, who flew off the handle on multiple occasions--you could practically see his lower lip trembling with impotent rage. Part of the reason for this anger had to do with the fact that a "mole" within the Maxwell Institute had been "leaking" information on the apologists' antics. In the wake of these explosive events, though, Hamblin announced that the identity of this "mole" had at last been discovered. Indeed, Mike "Tuffy" Parker went on to boast about this on the Millennial Star: Mike Parker wrote:
Yes, there is a mole at the Maxwell Institute. His identity is known. Bradford has done nothing about it.
And yet, we've heard nothing about "His identity." Who is the mole? Readers of the comments on Dr. Peterson's MLK blog posting probably noticed that he had no qualms whatsoever about "outing" the narrator; or ask Jason Echols, who received a similar treatment from DCP in late October. So, why not "out" the mole? The answer is obvious; to quote Jack Chick, "Somebody goofed."

For the past three years, the Mopologists have deployed several tactics in an effort to stop the flow of information out of their "inner sanctum." In the early days, Dr. Peterson relied mainly on outright lying in the hopes that his smear tactics and well-poisoning would successfully convince his acolytes that the "intel" had no basis in reality. (This, apart from simply not commenting at all, tends to still be his main angle of approach.) In addtion to that--per one of my informants--the Mopologists held behind-closed-doors meetings, and even interrogated several MI employees in an effort to get to the bottom of the leaks.

This, of course, brings me to the Greg Smith "hit piece." While it may very well be that the principal reason behind their failure to publish is their fear of angering the GAs, according to my "intel," the Mopologists, in their typically klutzy cloak-and-dagger fashion, contrived to use the "hit piece" as a means of exposing the mole. Per my informant, Greg Smith--perhaps with editorial assistance from DCP, Midgley, and/or others--apparently embedded a series of "flags" into the text of the article. They then distributed the text to the usual suspects in Mopologetics and Mormon Studies, and they have been keeping their fingers crossed ever since. Their thinking was that, due to curiosity and/or a desire to paint them in a negative light, the "mole" would eventually leak the article out to the blogosphere or the Mormon messageboard community, at which point they would need only to look at the "flag," and they'd know where the leak originated. They've been sitting on the article all this time (so the theory goes), hoping and hoping that an "anti-Mormon" would leak the article onto the Internet--then, at last, they could finally "out" their mole.

But, as we know, things didn't work out that way. According to my "informant," Bill Hamblin regrettably bungled the situation in a spectacular way. Evidently, the Mopologists lost track of which "flagged" text was sent to whom, and they wound up accusing the wrong person! Surely they ought to have known better; asking Bill Hamblin to carry out an "espionage" mission like this is like asking Ronald McDonald to do brain surgery.

In any case, this may very well help to explain why we continue to be told to "have patience" we when ask about the "hit piece." They are still holding out hope that they'll be able to use it as a secret weapon against their most hated enemies.

As always, I offer up the usual caveats regarding skepticism, lack of confirmation, and what have you. Then again, I doubt very many people would find any of these antics very surprising. It almost seems inevitable that the Mopologists would be up to something like this.
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An Exclusive Review: Greg Smith's "Hit Piece"
Friday, Feb 22, 2013, at 07:49 AM
Original Author(s): Doctor Scratch
Topic: GREGORY L. SMITH   -Link To MC Article-
Over the course of the past several months--almost a year, actually--an enormous amount of hype has been swirling around the mysterious Mopologetic article known colloquially as, "The Hit Piece." In general, defenders of the article have insisted that the piece is "well-balanced," and that it only relies on "Dehlin's own words." Critics, meanwhile, have insisted that the apologists' publication track record clearly points in the direction of the article being a "hit piece." Meanwhile, we have second and third accounts indicating that it both is and isn't a hit piece.

Indeed, the article has achieved a kind of anticipated-summer-blockbuster status. A high level of anticipation abounds, and yet the Mopologists seem to be in no hurry to produce the article. Indeed, they practially seem to relish the opportunity to say, "You can't possibly know whether it's a hit piece or not. You haven't read it."

Well, dear readers, I'm pleased to say that I *have* read the "hit piece." And, just as film critics around the nation offer up reviews prior to the release of big-budget movies, I'm pleased to offer this review of Greg Smith's meisterwerk, in advance of its publication, for your consideration.

First of all, we have to ask: Is the article a "hit piece"? The answer, obviously, is, "Yes." Smith's article draws upon and uses and constructs evidence so as to make Dehlin look very bad indeed. In fact, the article's epigraph, from the science fiction writer Douglas Adams, points up the fact that Smith will be trying to portray Dehlin as a "wolf in sheep's clothing" who aims to lead people away from the Church:
Even the sceptical mind must be prepared to accept the unacceptable when there is no alternative. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, we have at least to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family Anatidae on our hands. - Douglas Adams
Had the article made it to print, it would have been a first in the history of FARMS/Mopologetic publications in terms of the wide variety of "sources" it purports to be reviewing: Smith lists everything from a Dehiln PowerPoint presentation, to one of John and Zilpha Larsen's "Mormon Expression" podcasts, to an anonymously-authored Mormon Think article, to the "Mormon Stories" interview with Michael Coe. (Oddly, Smith doesn't indicate up front that he has also relied fairly heavily on Dehlin's Facebook feed, in spite of the fact that Facebook material is referenced elsewhere in the article.)

From there, the essay segues into a brief overview of the "New Order Mormon" movement, which Smith ridicules in an early footnote:

G. Smith wrote:
I confess that when I first heard the term "New Order Mormon," I thought they were LDS fans of the English alternative band New Order, which provided the soundtrack to dances in my undergraduate days.
And indeed, as several here predicted, Smith relies on work published in David Bromley's The Politics of Religious Apostasy as a means of helping to categorize Dehlin as an "apostate." Smith notes, however, that:

When I use the term "apostasy" or "apostate" in this paper, I intend the neutral, sociological sense. I will, however, prefer the more neutral term "leavetaker" where possible. I use it in a generic sense to refer to any member who is withdrawing, to whatever degree, from full religious participation. Stylistic or citation reasons may, however, occasionally necessitate the use of the other terms.
In other words, he is going to pay lip-service to academic definitions of the term, but is going to be quite liberal in the way that he exploits LDS cultural meanings of the word.

From there, rather predictably, Smith builds his case, layering one negative depiction on top of the next. He introduces us to Dehlin thusly:

John Dehlin has been a particularly vocal and visible leavetaker from traditional or literal-faith Mormonism. His publications and statements are particularly apt for examination because his public status has changed repeatedly. He began as a believer with questions, then became a more overt doubter that still planned to remain active in the church, and finally announced his status as an unbeliever. His shifts have been self-chronicled over the last few years on-line. He affirmatively seeks to gather others like him and build rapport among them, all built on the foundation of resources he provides. What he has said and written is therefore a necessary study for understanding the NOM approach that the Internet has facilitated.
In other words, Smith is setting up Dehlin as a kind of "charismatic": a guru who's going to lead others, pied-piper style, off on his own self-envisioned movement. Can you guess what approaches Smith will take next? Of course, it seems natural that Smith would imply that Dehiln is in it for the money. Sure enough, we get this:

Greg Smith wrote:
Dehlin is likely unknown to most members; he is probably best known on-line for his podcast series Mormon Stories. He has twice discontinued the podcast but then resumed it, together with appeals for ongoing financial support. Dehlin will be paid a salary of $40,000 dollars by his non-profit organization in 2012.
This remark is attached to an apparently tongue-in-cheek endnote that reads (quoting Dehlin):

"The donations you send to Mormon Stories go for the very basics: web hosting fees, domain names, audio equipment, conference costs, food and health insurance for my family, etc." John Dehlin, "298: We Really Need Your Support," 28 October 2011,
Elsewhere in the article, Smith writes:

Dehlin portrays the church's motives as mercenary, while claiming his actions are free of such motivations. "The financial benefits are not there [in podcasts]," he demurs, but "the social benefits are amazing."
And in an endnote:

"Don't . . . say I'm being like the church and authoritative and controlling, because I have very different goals. I'm not trying to line my pockets or push people one way or the other" (John Larsen and Zilpa Larsen, "Episode 180: John Dehlin," podcast interview by John Dehlin, 2 January 2012, 20:35, 36:26-36:34, Dehlin apparently believes that his $40,000 salary doesn't put him in the same category.
Of course, I doubt I need to remind readers here how certain apologists have reacted when questions have been raised about their funding.

From here, Smith goes on to describe his "methodology":

I began by reading Dehlin's public Facebook feed and exploring his websites. These led me to wonder what LDS critics and former Mormons were saying about him, so I searched a few message boards. I then consulted a few of Dehlin's more popular podcast episodes, and two interviews with him on other podcasts: one by a source that seems relatively friendly to the church, and one by the hostile, ex-Mormon Larsens. There were a few other podcasts or posts which I had read or heard about, but not taken note of, since I was not then contemplating a review of his writings and other contributions. Colleagues helped me to locate these.
He notes that his "survey" is incomplete, and that there is obviously "hudreds of hours of audio alone." Nevertheless, Smith goes on to portray the various items he writes about as being indicative of Dehlin's general demeanor and views: the small exerpts are meant to be read as metonyms.

So, obviously, a rather large chunk of the article consists of snitches of comments and discussion--many of which were clearly made en passant, or in a rather off-hand manner--that are meant to show Dehlin in the worst possible light. For instance, he is made out at one point to look as if he is disrespectful to Church leadership:

In September 2011, Dehlin praised the "really important work here" as he pointed his Facebook readers to a list of "The Worst Talks Ever" given by church leaders. While one or two of the talks have perhaps not worn terribly well, some of these "worst" talks were given by church presidents or current apostles. (Table 1 lists some of the talks, their date of address, and a brief summary of their contents. The reader is encouraged to read them in full.)
Most of these talks fall in into three broad (but not mutually exclusive) categories: (1) talks that involved matters of priesthood and apostolic authority, (2) talks that spoke of sexual morality and other commandments, and (3) those addressed to critics within and without the church. The table indicates such categories in square brackets.

It's worth noting that Smith singled out (or devised? pulled out of thin air?) these three "categories." After all, it's rather easy to see that they serve as a very convenient springboard to accuse Dehline of (1) insubordination to Church leaders; (2) being sympathetic to or tolerant of "sexual immorality"; and (3) encouraging criticism and/or critics of the Church. And, what do you know? There are indeed extended passages in the essay that attempt to do just that.

For instance, at one point, Smith complains that:

Dehlin's listeners are also directed to what he called "one of my favorite [podcast] . . . episodes ever," dedicated to a discussion intended to "help many LDS couples."[37] Here we are told that LDS intimate relationships might be enhanced by the use of masturbation and erotica. Mormon Stories tells us:

Mormon Stories wrote:
So today I'm diverging from the usual Mormon Stories format in that I am not interviewing a Mormon-I wanted to try and get a more objective perspective on the topic, and let's try not to get the Mormon bias in the way, although I realize there are always biases.
Mormon Stories offers us "objective" material asserting that masturbation and soft-core pornography or erotica has been unfairly stigmatized by LDS doctrine.
Interestingly, in a related endnote, Smith elaborates on his logical opposition to masturbation:

Dehlin tells us.... that "masturbation can keep you from moral transgressions" (Parker interview, 17:06.) Theologically, this might be likened to praising tobacco because it keeps you from smoking crack cocaine. The fantasy life and inflamed passions that almost invariably accompany masturbation might also serve as a type of gateway to more serious sin.
Let's pause for a moment to reflect on what Smith has given us so far:

--a very, very brief gloss on sociological terminology with respect to "apostasy" (which he almost wholly ignores in the rest of the text)

--sections that attempt to portray Dehlin as a "waffler," and/or as someone who changes his mind too often

--as someone who is in this for "financial gain"

--as someone who is sympathetic to "sexual immorality."

So, where will Smith turn next? We already know the answer, of course: he spends quite a bit of time railing against Dehlin's views on Church doctrine, especially as it pertains to the temple recommend interview, and in fact, Smith has arranged the material (commentary culled from the interview with the Larsens, among other places) so that it not only portrays Dehlin as a "doubter"; the material is arranged to make it seems as if he is trying to "coach" people so that they can get TR's even though they're actually apostates:

But Dehlin has reassured us that the one conducting the interview cannot ask further questions and so if he can persuade us that this tortured reading is plausible, he has succeeded. "Please know," we're again told, "that I am not in any way advocating dishonesty or deception here." It is not credible to counsel deliberate and calculated withholding of information and claim that one is not advocating dishonesty and deception.
For this reader, the article is clearly a "hit piece." It has obviously been structured to make Dehlin look utterly appalling to an LDS audience. Not only that, the material--which Smith himself admits is vast--has been cherry-picked, and even some of the items which *have* been included here have been made worse in the process of transcription. Dehlin's tone in the Larsen's podcast is hardly upbeat; he often sounds weary, depressed, and worn out--none of which is mentioned here by Smith.

It will be interesting to see whether the apologists wind up publishing the article in full one day. In the meantime, I can confidently say, as one who has read it, that the article is indeed a bona-fide "hit piece."
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Hit Piece Part II: "The Return Of The Unread Review"
Sunday, Feb 24, 2013, at 10:20 AM
Original Author(s): Kishkumen
Topic: GREGORY L. SMITH   -Link To MC Article-
I am opening this new thread for discussion of the second hit piece Greg Smith authored on John Dehlin, entitled, "Return of the Unread Review: A Mormon Story," which is seventy pages long. It is another remarkable piece of pseudo-scholarship of the type one would expect from a highly intelligent, but untrained mind to write in the interests of a partisan agenda. The pseudo-review is posted here.

In his self-apologetic narrative, in which Smith seeks to "set the record straight," Smith displays his usual facile abuse of the social sciences, while inadvertently tipping his hand regarding his partisan agenda and revealing other interesting details that allow us to grasp precisely where he is coming from and why we should respond to this second "hit piece" with the same skepticism we bring to the first.

Smith gets abundant mileage, or at least wastes abundant electrons, on the accusation that classic-FARMS scholars engage in ad hominem attacks. When FAIR first decided to take up this criticism, it was clear where this was headed. They dismissed the charge on technical grounds, since Dehlin and others were using a colloquial sense of the term ad hominem to mean "personal attack," while FAIR demanded examples of the logical fallacy. This is precisely what Smith does repeatedly.

The biggest recurring problem in Smith's work, which he either does not grasp, or partly and selectively acknowledges or ignores as the circumstances demand, is his a fundamental confusion of genres and intellectual enterprises. What Smith has done with Dehlin is to turn the ongoing comments of one person going through a very public faith crisis, and spuriously turned them into a single narrative which he has concocted for his own polemical purposes. Smith's work is not an attempt to understand Dehlin and Mormon Stories, which would be a legitimate scholarly enterprise. Instead Smith has sought to indict Dehlin as part of an ongoing spat between disillusioned members and LDS apologists.

Smith's pseudo-objective pose, and the fact that he is posting in a venue that is chimerically conceived as an online scholarly journal featuring scholarship on LDS scripture and polemical attacks such as this, allow him to impose upon his audience as though he were some kind of objective observer who is merely trying to set the facts straight. To a limited degree, he does set certain facts straight. After all, he is privileged to know certain facts that others do not know. But his quest to inform comes with an admixture of polemics, which are coming from a perspective identified most strongly with the former editor of the Review, whom he treats rhetorically as a sort of colleague, as though he too were working for the Maxwell Institute in the period under discussion.

The latter observation should raise some eyebrows. Yet, clearly this is how Smith represents himself when he frames himself as part of the "we" on page 51:

Greg Smith wrote:
We had the "hole" [left by the removal of Smith's review] filled quickly, and even had extra essays available for which there was no room in the issue. The block on my review put us further behind schedule mainly because Bradford thereafter instructed an all in-house editing work on the Review to stop for a period of time, so no progress was made on the other essays in hand. Even prior to my review's existence, publication of the next issue had been stalled because Bradford and others continued to divert editorial resources away from preparation of the Mormon Studies Review over a period of about eight months. At the time, we believed that there were simply high demands on editorial staff for other projects, and did our best to cooperate. In retrospect, this appears to have been a rather calculated and cynical effort to manufacture grounds for firing Peterson and criticizing the then-current incarnation of the Review as unacceptably behind schedule--as Bradford attempted to do in his e-mail. Without informing Peterson or the associate editors, Maxwell Institute editorial support staff were also told by Bradford and others under his direction that an essay by John Gee would not be published. One suspects, again in retrospect, that this rather high-handed interference without explanation or even notification was aimed at frustrating Peterson to the point of resignation
(Emphasis in bold mine)

This is a remarkable passage. What Greg Smith seems to be telling his reader is that he was acting in the capacity of an associate editor in the period when he authored the John Dehlin hit piece. As an associate editor, his pseudo-review of Dehlin was not a truly independent work of "scholarship" but something written by a contributing voluntary staff-member of the Review which was designated for publication therein. Furthermore, it seems highly likely, although I don't know for a fact, that his publication would have occurred without any real double-blind peer-review process.

What is worse is that Smith uses this opportunity to accuse implicitly Bradford of having acted improperly in suppressing his pseudo-review of Dehlin, although we know that Bradford was directed to do so by the university president (Maxwell Institute is a unit of the university, and as such is subject to the authority of the president of the university). He rather sloppily folds the suppression of the piece into a conspiracy narrative, based on no hard evidence, that Bradford was scheming to get Daniel Peterson to resign. In other words, he is mind-reading.

What is most unusual about this entire passage, however, is that it reads almost exactly like the various accusations that Daniel Peterson and Bill Hamblin have been making for months now, to the point of looking like Peterson could easily have written this passage himself.

I have pointed out but one highly problematic and revealing passage that points to some of the dubious activities that stand behind the history of these polemical pseudo-review hit pieces. There is much more that can be said, and I hope others will add their analysis of this pseudo-scholarly train wreck.
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Apologists Not Only Publish The Dehlin Hit Piece, But 70 More Pages About The Whole Drama
Sunday, Feb 24, 2013, at 10:25 AM
Original Author(s): Jithrop
Topic: GREGORY L. SMITH   -Link To MC Article-
I am dumbfounded by this whole thing. It's beyond ridiculous for a self-proclaimed academic journal to publish this rubbish.

Here is Dubious Mormon Stories, the hit piece on Dehlin. Since they have had almost a year to take the fangs out of the article, it could have a much softer tone than it originally had. It is still quite clearly a hit piece, despite the apologist claims over the past year.

Here is the 70-page article on the 'Dehlin Affair'. Ironically, this one is also a hit piece on John Dehlin.

Partly because of my severe disdain for Mormon apologetics, I have a morbid fascination with this whole thing. I will try and wade through the 170 pages and give a brief review here.
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Greg Smith Accuses John Dehlin Of Having Cult Like Parallels
Sunday, Feb 24, 2013, at 01:07 PM
Original Author(s): Infymus
Topic: GREGORY L. SMITH   -Link To MC Article-
On Page 9 of Gregory Smith's John Dehlin hit piece, Greg pulls out this quote and claims "the parallels to Dehlin's techniques are striking":
Cult awareness groups try to denigrate anyone who proposes an image of the movements at variance with their own. Members of new religious movements are dismissed as either brainwashed or deceptive. Scholars who have studied the new religious movements and are not unequivocally against the movements are defined as ” cult apologists “ or are smeared with ad hominem arguments. In other words, what the scholars write is not criticized with evidence but, rather, is denied or dismissed through a slur (be it true or false) that has no bearing on the truth. 23

Greg fails to mention his own Church demands the following of members before they can receive a temple recommend:
  • Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys?
  • Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators?
  • Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?
  • Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
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John Larsen Claims Possible Libel And Defamation - Demands Takedown Of Greg Smith's "Hit Piece"
Monday, Feb 25, 2013, at 10:40 AM
Original Author(s): Infymus
Topic: GREGORY L. SMITH   -Link To MC Article-
From John Larsen:
To all and Sundry:

The term "Mormon" can rightfully be applied to followers of the Mormon faith and parallels such terms as "Catholic" or "Jewish". Because of this, the term "anti-Mormon" can parallel the meaning of "anti-Semite" and implies bigotry, hatred, or prejudice against a culture or people.

Any identification of me as an "anti-Mormon" in a published, printed or posted work will be considered libel and defamation. I will be pursuing civil legal action against any such publications.

Kindly remove all such references immediately.

John Larsen
I'm sure Gregory Smith is editing the document as we speak.
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Why John Dehlin Wins
Tuesday, Feb 26, 2013, at 07:33 AM
Original Author(s): Kishkumen
Topic: GREGORY L. SMITH   -Link To MC Article-
In the aftermath of the release of the two hit pieces Greg L. Smith wrote about John Dehlin, I have given a lot of thought to the motivations and methods of the apologists, as well as the motivations and methods of John Dehlin himself. In the end, I have concluded that no matter how shallow John Dehlin's understanding of Church history and doctrine might be, and how unsteady his testimony was, he has effectively shown that he is twice the scholar any one of the apologists who attacked him is, and has probably done more good for the LDS Church than any single one of them.

"Wait," you say, "didn't John Dehlin have a real shaky understanding of the atonement? Didn't he openly doubt the truth claims of the gospel and gather fellow discontent and wavering saints together so they could all leave Mormonism in a mass exodus to a life of wife-swapping and pot smoking?" Well, not, not exactly, but I understand why you think that. All you have to do to arrive there is do exactly what Greg Smith has done, which is cobble together a bunch of cherry-picked quotes to make John what you need him to be in order to make your point.

The trouble is, this is not what real scholarship is about. Real scholarship, even scholarship from a particular viewpoint, should take account of a fair sample of all of the evidence. What Greg Smith did was selectively pick out certain snippets of John Dehlin's oeuvre that almost anyone could have predicted would yield the kind of negative information Greg Smith went looking for in order to pursue his agenda, which was to delegitimize Dehlin's voice. Unlike a scholar, who seeks to understand and describe accurately a set of data, albeit from a certain bias, Greg Smith has not so much understood Mormon Stories and John Dehlin as found a narrative that met his preconceived bias against John Dehlin and Mormon Stories and made his John Dehlin fit that.

What drove that narrative? Interestingly, it seems that apologists are central to the story. Greg Smith opines that John Dehlin turned apologists into "folk devils" so that he would have an opponent to focus his group's anger on and thus strengthen his own ranks. In other words, if one were to read Smith uncritically, she or he could very easily come away with the impression that John Dehlin had deliberately lit upon this nifty new strategy to lead people away from Mormonism, as though the apologists themselves were central to the LDS Church.

Of course, we know that the antagonism between apologists and liberal or doubting Mormons goes back decades. At times the disagreement was expressed more civilly, as when Nibley debated Sterling McMurrin. At times it has heated up considerably, as it did when the FARMS crew over-reviewed the hell out of Michael Quinn's book Early Mormonism and the Magic World View and Quinn shot back with a terribly over-bloated second edition in which he called FARMS' scholars "polemicists." So, Dehlin did not come up with a brilliant strategy to lead members out of the Church. Rather, he a prominent member of a new generation of liberal or doubting Mormons who squared off with more conservative or fundamentalist members of the faith in a rather predictable pattern.

So, there are big questions about Greg Smith's methodology and choice of theories. Since he freely admits that he was only exposed to a small set of data that was deliberately chosen to yield the kind of evidence that would back up his preconceived ideas about Dehlin, there was no way that he could hope to understand the Mormon Stories phenomenon. There was no way he could hope to represent accurately the man who was so central to the movement's existence. Anyone with access to John Dehlin's full oeuvre can find the positive interviews and positive statements about the LDS Church that Greg Smith neglected or omitted. They didn't serve his purpose.

In the fall of 2011, John Dehlin created a survey to try to figure out why people were leaving the LDS Church. The people he surveyed were people who considered themselves disillusioned or who had left altogether. This is of course natural if you are trying to figure out why those who leave leave, rather than the speculations of others who have not gone through the experience. Let me emphasize this point again: JOHN PRODUCED A SURVEY TO GATHER DATA. As the data rolled in, one thing became apparent--a fair number of the 3000+ people surveyed said that LDS apologetics had an adverse affect on their belief and desire to stay members of the LDS Church. They even discussed this on Facebook.

Now, we can criticize John's methods, criticize his survey. We can argue that his survey was flawed, that it came from a large echo chamber of Dehlinites, etc., but such an argument only goes so far. What such an argument does not prevail against is the fact that John Dehlin, a PhD student in Psychology, surveyed 3000+ people to find out why they were leaving or why they left the LDS Church. He did so because he cared why. He did so because he wanted to do something about it. He wanted others, including the leaders of the LDS Church, to understand why and do something about it.

However accurate his results ultimately were, I think it is fair to say that he conducted exactly the kind of research that one ought to conduct in the social sciences to find out why people do what they do. In the case of Greg Smith, and other former members of the editorial staff of the Mormon Studies Review, however, we have a group that responded to John Dehlin and Mormon Stories with a methodological approach that was a caricature of the social sciences, properly speaking. We can imagine that, had these apologists really desired to do credible research on the Mormon Stories phenomenon, they might have done what John Dehlin did. They might have conducted a survey of Mormon Stories followers. Evidently, the Mormon Stories folks aren't averse to participating in such things. They might have even been flattered that someone connected with a Church institution cared enough to conduct a survey to get their perspective.

But what these apologists did instead was send out their friends and helpers to gather every negative statement by or factoid about Dehlin they could find, including one emeritus BYU professor's attempt to goad Dehlin into saying something he could then report to Greg Smith via email after a confrontation at a UVU conference on Mormonism, and various other apologists collecting damning quotes from Dehlin on Facebook. They had concluded, without any statistical research, that Mormon Stories was a bad thing, and they were determined to prove that John Dehlin was an apostate to discredit him and end that bad thing.

What prompted them to act when they did? Mormon Stories, after all, had been around for some time. Well, remember, the survey was taken beginning the middle of October of 2011. As the results started to roll in, and as people started to discuss those results, one thing started to become clear: disillusioned and former members of the LDS Church were not saying good things about the impact of LDS apologetics in their lives. Greg Smith claims that he began his research on Mormon Stories in September of 2011, over a full month before the survey. If this is accurate, then there may be no relationship between the hit piece and the growing evidence that disillusioned Mormons were negatively impacted by apologetics. Greg Smith also claims that the first draft was submitted November 9, three weeks after the Dehlin survey had begun. Is it possible that the Dehlin survey added urgency to the production of a hit piece on Dehlin, not so much to protect the LDS Church, as to protect apologetics?

John Dehlin's survey was delivered to the leaders of the LDS Church. Whether they use his study or not, Dehlin provided the Church what may be the first systematically collected data regarding the causes of disaffection from Mormonism. Simply by setting the example or blazing a new trail, he has done the LDS Church an invaluable service. Now, the LDS Church may commission similar studies, with its own scholars and statisticians. They may come to different conclusions than John did, but John's work will not have been in vain. In any case, what the LDS Church discovers through these scientific methods may save the memberships of thousands upon thousands of Mormons and their descendants. When you compare that to the legacy of Greg Smith, who can only claim to have produced the latest and most self-indulgent in a long line of apologetic hit pieces with a veneer of scholarship sloppily applied, I would rather have John Dehlin's record, with all its warts, any day.

Thus I pronounce John Dehlin the winner in a contest with no peers. His opponents never even entered the race.
topic image
FWIW, My Review Of Greg Smith's "Review" Of Mormon Stories
Friday, Mar 8, 2013, at 06:50 AM
Original Author(s): Rollo Tomasi
Topic: GREGORY L. SMITH   -Link To MC Article-
I apologize for this post's ludicrous length.

I have read the combined 168 pages of Greg Smith's Dubious "Mormon" Stories: A Twenty-First Century Construction of Exit Narratives (hereinafter "Dubious Review") and Return of the Unread Review: A Mormon Story (hereinafter "RUR"). What follows are my observations (focusing on the Dubious Review, since it has been the source of controversy for the past year). This is nothing more than my own $.02. I have listened to many (but not nearly all) podcasts on Mormon Stories, but I have never met John Dehlin nor have I ever attended any of his conferences. My only exposure to him has been the podcasts and his occasional posts on this and other bb's.

It was difficult to read all 168 pages. I found both essays rather boring, but I slogged through because I felt I had to read it all before offering my observations. I also looked at some of the sources cited in the footnotes, but not all (too damn many!). It was my delving into the footnotes that convinced me of Smith's purpose in writing the Dubious Review: to destroy Dehlin's reputation and whatever influence he has in the Mormon community. After reading some original sources, I found that many of Smith's quotes had been manipulated to mislead the reader as to what Dehlin actually said and/or meant. This intellectual dishonesty, imo, undercuts any claim of the Dubious Review as "scholarship." The essay should never have been published (and was wisely `killed' by the Maxwell Institute); if, as some have claimed or complained, the publication of the Dubious Review was tubed before the decision-makers (i.e., Gerald Bradford, BYU admin., or a GA) had actually read the paper, then they were inspired to kill it, because the essay is that bad.

1. The Dubious Review is a "Hit Piece" on Dehlin, NOT a review of Mormon Stories:

In RUR, Smith repeatedly claimed that his Dubious Review was about Mormon Stories, not Dehlin. (See RUR at 2 n.3, 7, 50). This simply is untrue. For example, Smith wrote that in preparing to write his paper, he first consulted "Dehlin's public Facebook feed and websites .." (Dubious Review at 7). So, instead of starting with the very product he is supposedly reviewing, Mormon Stories, Smith went to Dehlin's FB page? After this, he searched for what others ("LDS critics and former Mormons") had said on message boards about Dehlin. (Id.). Only then did Smith listen to "more popular episodes" on Mormon Stories, as well as interviews of Dehlin on other podcasts. (Id.). I think it's obvious that from the very beginning, Smith's focus was on John Dehlin, not Mormon Stories (although Mormon Stories is a part of Smith's "review" of Dehlin).

Consequently, it is not surprising that most attacks in the Dubious Review are aimed at Dehlin the man. Some examples:

a. Dehlin included among "a few particularly vocal and visible leavetakers from traditional or literal-faith Mormonism." (Dubious Review at 4);

b. Describing Dehlin as an "overt doubter" and "unbeliever." (Id. at 5);

c. "Dehlin's on-line endeavors endorse skepticism about LDS truth claims, oppose the teachings of [the LDS Church] on some matters of sexual morality, and seek to form a network of `uncorrelated Mormons.'" (Id.);

d. Dehlin "invokes many of the standard anti-Mormon themes and criticisms." (Id. at 8);

e. Dehlin characterized as "exit counselor" similar to anti-Mormons Jerald and Sandra Tanner. (Id. at 9);

f. "It is shocking that Dehlin" complains about the atonement as espoused by "the normative Latter-day Saint views of sin and atonement." (Id. at 13);

g. With respect to Dehlin's questioning a historical Jesus, "Dehlin promotes an absurdity that hasn't been taken seriously by informed readers for decades." (Id. at 14);

h. Dehlin "spends considerable effort poisoning the well against those who support the Church." (Id. at 19);

i. Dehlin compared (negatively) to the editor of Mormon Think. (Id. at 20);

j. In "less formal moments [i.e., on Facebook], [Dehlin's] attitude toward those believers who are dishonest, unintelligent, or humorless enough to dispute his conclusions is revealed as less tolerant or benign." (Id. at 33; see also Smith's footnote at the end of this sentence, which reveals that Smith was referring to Dehlin's rough treatment of classic-FARMS apologists);

k. Smith, apparently role-playing as Dehlin's bishop, attacks Dehlin's worthiness to hold a temple recommend. (See id. at 38-42);

l. "Dehlin's attitude toward homosexual acts is opposed to the Church's stance, but some LDS participants in his study [i.e., a study completed in 2011 about the experiences of gay LDS members] might well be unaware of this if he only describes himself as a life-long Mormon. They may expect, but not get, someone who is fundamentally friendly to their values and covenants." (Id. at 68);

m. Dehlin attacked for enjoying The Book of Mormon musical. (Id. at 69-70; see also id. at 74);

n. "Dehlin shows little empathy for the Mormon believer. His attitude might be seen by some as contemptuous towards those with whom he still claims some nominal connection." (Id. at 70);

o. Concluding Dehlin's activities satisfy criteria for "false prophets and teachers" as described by Elder Ballard at the Oct. 1999 Gen'l Conference. (Id. at 71-76);

p. Describing Dehlin as having "traits which mirror those of a sociological apostate." (Id. at 81-82);

q. Suggesting Dehlin is in it for the money. (See id. at 82);

r. Part of Smith's conclusion: "The material reviewed herein has a persistent bias and it is oriented against the Church's truth claims, its moral teachings, its leaders, and the doctrine of Christ." (Id. at 96);

s. Part of Smith's conclusion: "But, as far as the Church of Jesus Christ is concerned, [Dehlin] generally helps members by moving them intellectually away from belief. He also moves them emotionally and spiritually away from the Church's traditional support systems." (Id. at 96-97); and

t. Also as part of his conclusion, Smith charges Dehlin with trying to usurp power from Church leaders: "[Dehlin] cannot control or displace Church leaders on their own turf, so he will create parallel communities of Mormons (whether active, disaffected, or former)[,]" and "[Dehlin] seeks to replace this social system with his own group, with its own ethos and counter-narrative, with him in a position of leadership." (Id. at 97).

2. The Dubious Review is Outdated:

A serious flaw with the Dubious Review is that it was published after (i) John Dehlin had returned to full activity in the LDS Church, and (ii) Dehlin's announcement that Mormon Stories would no longer sponsor regional conferences (but only do podcasts). This occurred on January 28, 2013, when a podcast interview of Dehlin appeared on Mormon Stories. Smith's two essays, however, were published for the first time nearly 4 weeks later, on February 23, 2013. This does not seem to bother Smith. (See Dubious Review at 2 n.1 (Smith: "I have made no effort to update the present review with additional material since the September 2011-November 2011 research period, although a few later citations have been added to provide further illustration of my argument.")).

The publication of the Dubious Review after Dehlin's return to full Church activity, undercuts the essay's portrayal of Dehlin as a modern-day "wolf in sheep's clothing." Here are some claims in Smith's paper that have been negatively affected by these recent Dehlin developments (which, notably, are not mentioned in the Dubious Review):

a. "While Dehlin began as a believer with questions, he later then became a more overt doubter that still planned to remain active in the Church, and finally announced his status as an unbeliever." (Dubious Review at 5) (emphasis added). This obviously changed with Dehlin's podcast announcement on January 28, 2013, but no mention of this by Smith.

b. "In addition to Internet activities, Mormon Stories holds `Mormon Stories Conferences' in various U.S. cities .." (Id. at 5-6). This, too, is no longer accurate, as Dehlin announced in the Jan. 2013 podcast that conferences will no longer be sponsored by Mormon Stories. No mention of this by Smith in the Dubious Review.

c. "So there was a time when Dehlin encouraged people to remain in the Church. But he is no longer doing so." (Id. at 56) (emphasis added). Note the use of present tense to suggest that Dehlin currently does not encourage people to remain in the Church; his Jan. 2013 podcast contradicts Smith's assertion.

d. "[Dehlin] has ambitious plans for setting up `communities of support' and other social arrangements to give his uncorrelated Mormons cohesion and identity." (Id. at 65) (emphasis added). Again, the present tense. Does Smith believe this is still true (if it were ever true) in light of Dehlin's announcement in the Jan. 2013 podcast?

e. "[Dehlin] will retain the label `Mormon' but aims to remake it and redefine it in the public mind as a mere cultural label." (Id. at 67) (emphasis added). This (if it were ever true) is no longer the case.

f. "[Dehlin] is at present conducting a study on the experience of homosexuals within the Church." (Id.) (emphasis added). Uh, Dr. Smith, Dehlin concluded this study in 2011, and your paper wasn't published until 2013.

g. "Dehlin shows little empathy for the Mormon believer. His attitude might be seen by some as contemptuous towards those with whom he still claims some nominal connection." (Id. at 70) (emphasis added). "[S]ome nominal connection?" C'mon, as of Jan. 2013, Dehlin is a fully active LDS member.

h. "Dehlin's recent and rapid changes in self-identity are also a researcher's dream, since one can examine the same subject at different stages of leavetaking." (Id. at 80). Err, Dr. Smith, time to wake up from your "researcher's dream," because as of Jan. 2013 Dehlin became a "returntaker" (ok, that's a word I just made up, but you get the drift).

i. "Thus, while [Dehlin] is in some ways a peripheral or marginal member, he has other traits which mirror those of a sociological apostate." (Id. at 81-82) (emphasis added). Gee, that's nice to say about someone who returned to full Church activity in Jan. 2013. Smith really needs to update his paper before he is sued for libel.

j. "It would seem that Dehlin is instead ready to try to force the issue - he cannot control or displace Church leaders on their own turf, so he will create parallel communities of Mormons (whether active, disaffected, or former). He even advises members against sharing their concerns - which he conspicuously disclaims having planted or fostered - with other Church members, especially leaders. He seeks to replace this social system with his own group, with its own ethos and counter-narrative, with him in a position of leadership." (Id. at 97) (emphasis added). Note Smith's use of present and future tenses. Was anything in this quote true at the time the Dubious Review was published for the first time on February 23, 2013? Nope.

All Smith had to do was update his essay before allowing it to be published. But he didn't (it appears from Smith's Timeline that he has not worked substantively on the essay since 2011). A lot has happened in Dehlin's life since then, including Dehlin's return to full Church activity. By failing to update his paper, Smith has published an essay that can only leave the readers with a false characterization of Dehlin's current status vis-.-vis the LDS Church. Smith is spreading untruths about Dehlin.

If Smith had bothered to listen to Part 3 of Dehlin's Jan. 2013 podcast (announcing his return to the Church and cessation of Mormon Stories conferences), then Smith would have learned that Dehlin currently holds the following faith and beliefs:

a. Asked what he now thinks about God, Dehlin responded that he is a "believer" and that his life is a lot better because of his belief.

b. Asked if he believes in a historical Jesus and a divine Jesus, Dehlin responded that "[Jesus's] teachings are profound and true," and Jesus died for us. Dehlin believes in a historical Jesus and that the divinity of Jesus "is hoped for." Dehlin also said that he "hopes for" an atonement, resurrection, and afterlife, and that he views Jesus as "our Savior."

c. Asked about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, Dehlin responded that he believes "the Restoration was inspired" and was a "legitimate spiritual and social endeavor."

d. Speaking of today's Brethren, Dehlin said that "all in all, doing a fantastic job." Dehlin spoke of his respect for them, but admitting they sometimes make the wrong decisions and that he [i.e., Dehlin] wished the LDS Church was "more progressive." Dehlin described the Brethren as "good men, spiritually in tune, and have lives of virtue." Dehlin "respects their authority to lead," and he believes the Brethren, like all of us, "tap into the same divinity."

Smith's failure to mention any of the above in his essay (which, remember, was published after Dehlin made the above beliefs and faith known to the public), is inexcusable. He should either remove his essay from the public domain or significantly revise it so that Dehlin's current status is accurately described.

3. Did Smith Bait Dehlin for Juicier Quotes and Material to Use in the Essay?:

As I looked at some of Smith's footnotes to confirm the accuracy of the quotes, I noticed, in at least one instance, that a person helping Smith with his essay was at the same time baiting Dehlin on Facebook, apparently to elicit quotes that could then be used in Smith's essay. Seems like a form of "entrapment," or at least a sneaky way to bolster a `hit piece.'

In the section entitled "Telling Both Sides and Poisoning the Well" (see Dubious Review at 17-19), Smith quoted a Facebook conversation between Dehlin and an unidentified poster (Smith's version of this conversation begins on p. 18 of the Dubious Review and starts with "When told that ."), which occurred on January 3 and 4, 2012, during the same period Smith was working on his essay, according to the Appendix-Timeline. (See RUR at 57). When I went to the actual Facebook posts, I discovered that Smith's unidentified poster was one Trevor Holyoak, a FAIR member and presumably the same "Trevor Holyoak" (among other FAIR volunteers) whom Smith expressly thanked in both essays for transcribing Dehlin's podcast with Dr. Michael Coe. (See Dubious Review at 11 n.27; RUR at 33 n.94). Smith may have felt he needed juicier quotes or material from Dehlin, so he had one of his helpers on the essay (i.e., Holyoak) engage Dehlin on Facebook under the pretense of honest inquiry, when really he was just goading Dehlin into making statements that Smith could use against Dehlin.

It is also possible that Smith engaged a similar tactic through one Ben McGuire, a FAIR member, FARMS author, and current member of the Board of Editors for Interpreter. In November 2011 (while Smith was working on the Dubious Review), McGuire recounted to Smith (in written correspondence) an "interaction" between McGuire and Dehlin "[f]ollowing the appearance of Dehlin's interviews with [Grant] Palmer .." (See Dubious Review at 48-49 andamp; nn. 154-55). The subject of the "interaction" was McGuire's offer to appear on a Dehlin podcast and "provide some balance to the [Palmer] discussion." (Id.). Smith noted that Dehlin did not take McGuire up on his offer (id. at 49), with Smith complaining that Dehlin didn't allow FAIR or FARMS to respond to Palmer, even though FAIR and FARMS "have produced a large body of work that counters Palmer's theses" (id.). We all know that "large body of work" is code for the numerous `hit pieces' published about Palmer.

On November 6 or 7, 2011, McGuire provided Smith with McGuire's written recollection of his "interaction" with Dehlin. (See Dubious Review at 48 n.154). This timing suggests that McGuire may have had his "interaction" with Dehlin at the same time Smith was working on the Dubious Review, and possibly, as with Holyoak, that McGuire engaged Dehlin to coax out new material that Smith could then use in his essay. However, the actual date of the alleged "interaction" (if it occurred in or around November 2011) is questionable because Dehlin interviewed Grant Palmer just twice - May 2006 (or, well over 5 years before McGuire sent his recollection to Smith) and February 2013 (or, well over one year after McGuire sent his recollection to Smith). Thus, it appears McGuire's recollection to Smith (in Nov. 2011) was done well after the first Palmer podcast, bringing into question its accuracy due to the passage of time, and it did not at all relate to the later Palmer podcast in Feb. 2013 discussing Joseph Smith's sexuality with his polygamous wives (Smith suggested erroneously, on p. 48, that McGuire's offer to appear on a Dehlin podcast occurred after both Palmer podcasts - Smith's own timeline shows this to be impossible).

It is interesting to note that just last month (Feb. 2013) Dehlin posted a very long podcast with Brian C. Hales, who offered a very detailed rebuttal to Palmer's claims about Joseph Smith's sexuality. Of course, the Dubious Review never mentioned this because Smith didn't bother to update his essay before publishing it.

4. Smith's Manipulation of Dehlin Quotes:

Not surprisingly, the Dubious Review is overwhelmingly negative toward anything that involves Dehlin. For example, the many quotes Smith pulled from Dehlin's FB page were either expressly negative or which Smith could easily turn negative with the help of ellipses or lack of context. As I reviewed Dehlin's FB page I noticed many posts where Dehlin praised the LDS Church and/or its leaders for one thing or another, but Smith ignored all of these. "Fair and balanced," Smith's essay is not. I have no doubt that Smith began this project with the intent to destroy Dehlin and whatever influence he yielded among Mormons. It was a "hit piece," after all.

Apart from Smith's overt negativity and bias toward Dehlin, however, I was surprised by the length to which Smith manufactured quotes and arguments to achieve his goal. Let me mention some examples where I believe Smith crossed the line to attack Dehlin.

Let's start with the quotes Smith used to attack Dehlin's apparent praise for Mormon Think. (See Dubious Review at 18). This was part of the FB discussion I mentioned in the above section that involved Trevor. Here is how Smith presented the issue in the Dubious Review:

Greg Smith wrote:
When told that "Mormon Think does not give an honest representation of the church, its history, or beliefs," Dehlin replies that it is better than anything else: "I can't think of a more honest one . warts and all. Can you? Certainly not FAIR or FARMS. Certainly not .. Both (all) sites are biased - I think that the FAIR site is 50x more biased than Mormon Think. Just my opinion." Just an opinion - but one that informs the material he produces.

Source: Dubious Review at 18
I went to Dehlin's FB page and looked at the above quotes (which were mined from a FB discussion that elicited over 130 posts by numerous individuals). As I noted above, the actual dialogue referenced by Smith was between Dehlin and Trevor Holyoak. I noticed something very interesting from the dialogue as represented in Smith's essay: Smith had grafted parts of two separate quotes written by Dehlin on separate days to come up with one quote, which, conveniently enough, allowed Smith to argue that Dehlin believes Mormon Think "is better than anything else" when it comes to an honest representation of LDS history. (See Dubious Review at 18). Reading the full quotes within the context of the Dehlin/Holyoak conversation, however, revealed something far less dramatic.

Here is the first relevant part of the conversation between Dehlin and Holyoak concerning Mormon Think (the words bolded below are the words quoted in Smith's essay):

Holyoak: If I have to come right out and say it, it's anti-Mormon because it attacks the church. And it's worse than some anti-Mormon sites, because it tries to be sneaky about it, claiming objectivity (if it's so objective, why can't I find the quote there that I've posted twice above?) and claiming to be run by an active member of the church (who admits to using a pseudonym to avoid church discipline). The use of the word "Think" in the title is actually kind of ironic. (January 3, 2012 at 5:14pm)

Dehlin: How do you see Mormon Think as attacking the church? (January 3, 2012 at 6:09pm)

Holyoak: Mormon Think does not give an honest representation of the church, its history, or beliefs. I have already given one example, and I'll leave it at that. (January 3, 2012 at 7:34pm)

Dehlin: Can you show me a more honest representation of the church and its history online -- anywhere? I can't think of a more honest one...warts and all. Can you? Certainly not FAIR or FARMS. Certainly not (January 3, 2012 at 7:36pm)

Holyoak: Some of the so-called warts are really just Halloween makeup - they're not real. Others are quite complex. The church is actually doing well with sites such as the one it is making for the Joseph Smith Papers in exposing some of the real warts. And people that criticize the FAIR web sites usually haven't spent enough time on them to pass judgment. (January 3, 2012 at 11:21pm)

Source: Dehlin FB page, 1/3/12 (emphasis added)
As can be seen, Dehlin was referring to online sources for an honest representation of LDS Church history. In contrast, Smith's butchered quote in the essay made it appear that Dehlin was declaring Mormon Think to be the best source anywhere.

The next day's conversation between Dehlin and Holyoak included the second part of the grafted quote used by Smith (the part which starts with "Both (all) sites are biased ."). Here is the relevant portion of that conversation (along with the quote Smith used in the next paragraph on p. 18, which, oddly, Smith separated out, even though it was part of the same conversation):

Dehlin: My challenge remains: find me a web site that is more honest/objective/accurate/comprehensive on factual Mormon history than Mormon Think. I'm all eyes/ears. (January 4, 2012 at 11:47am)

Holyoak: [A]nd my challenge to you is to give me specifics on why you don't think the FAIR web sites fit that criteria. (January 4, 2012 at 11:52am)

Dehlin: Both (all) sites are biased -- I think that the FAIR site is 50x more biased than Mormon Think. Just my opinion. (January 4, 2012 at 11:54am)

Holyoak: So you admit that Mormon Think is anti-Mormon (biased towards negative), but you still won't provide specific examples regarding FAIR. What exactly is your opinion based on? (January 4, 2012 at 12:11pm)

Dehlin: My experience is that the FAIR/FARMS spin ultimately causes much more harm than good. It's just rarely credible to thoughtful, objective people who are trying to uncover the "truth." Consequently, it can be really discouraging when folks go to FAIR/FARMS and are sorely disappointed. They so often come away saying, "Really? That's the best the apologists can do?" You guys have a really hard job. I honestly admire it on some level. But you are at your weakest when you attack others ... as Christians. So weak. (January 4, 2012 at 2:41pm)

Source: Dehlin FB page, 1/4/12 (emphasis added)
We can see from this that Dehlin remained focused on the best (i.e., least biased) online source for LDS history, and Dehlin concluded (correctly, imo) that Mormon Think is far less biased than FAIR or FARMS. I suspect Smith cherry-picked from Dehlin's quotes and grafted them as one to suit the objectives of a "hit piece" (as well as to likely get back at Dehlin for disparaging Smith's beloved FARMS and FAIR). This tactic appeared throughout the Dubious Review.

Another good example is on the same page (p. 18 of the Dubious Review), where Smith provided this nugget:

Greg Smith wrote:
[Dehlin] insists that "20th and 21st century LDS apologetics (FAIR, FARMS, Maxwell institute) will go down as destroying more testimonies than any other single Mormon influence. That's what happens when you blame the victim, or give very poor and evasive answers to credible issues."

Source: Dubious Review at 18
In a vacuum and without any context, one can't help but wonder why Dehlin had lashed out at classic-FARMS apologists. What could have caused such an outburst? Smith didn't tell us. But, if you go to the full post by Dehlin on his FB page, it becomes readily apparent. Here's the full post by Dehlin on FB (the bolded words and link below were omitted by Smith):

John Dehlin wrote:
I just want to go on record as saying that 20th and 21st century LDS apologetics (FAIR, FARMS, Maxwell institute) will go down as destroying more testimonies than any other single Mormon influence. That's what happens when you blame the victim, or give very poor and evasive answers to credible issues.

In other words, I think that Daniel Peterson is talking actually writing about himself and his followers in this article. ... hites.html

Source: Dehlin FB page, 6/8/12 (emphasis added)
Ah, now we can see why Dehlin was so pissed - this wasn't just some `kneejerk' reaction to classic-FARMS apologists, but to an article by DCP. Click on the link and read that article and you will see why it set off Dehlin. DCP's article recited examples in the BofM about bad guys trying to destroy the Church, and then DCP compared the BofM bad guys and their tactics to unnamed "modern counterparts," such as . perhaps . John Dehlin? Notably, DCP's article received some nasty comments, including this comment by one reader in Salt Lake City:

DCP article reader wrote:
I found the tone in this article to be very condescending and like another poster said, "An incredible amount of hubris, and I'm not talking about the Nephites." I have read comments before about FAIR/FARMS being a reason a person would leave the church and this is a prime example of what turns people off from being Mormon. A little understanding and respect goes a long way when dealing with people having a crisis of faith instead of labels and guilt trips that DCP is laying on quite thick here.

Source: Comment section to Daniel Peterson, "Defending the Faith: We can learn from history and the sins of Nephites," Deseret News 6/7/12 (emphasis added)
Dehlin clearly was not alone in how he felt after reading DCP's "article."

Another example of Smith's penchant for providing quotes out of context is Smith's treatment of Dehlin's interactions with his church leaders. Specifically, Smith wrote:

Greg Smith wrote:
[Dehlin] was less complimentary about leaders' motives and approach when later describing the matter to his atheist podcast hosts: "It was really kind of CIA, FBI kind of creepy."

Source: Dubious Review at 51
Smith provided no context whatever for why Dehlin would say such a thing, other than to vaguely refer to "leaders' motives and approach." (Dubious Review at 51). The reader would have to listen to the podcast between Dehlin and the "atheist podcast hosts" (Smith's words) in order to learn what Dehlin meant. I did listen to the podcast, and I learned that Dehlin's phrase "really kind of CIA, FBI kind of creepy" was spot-on. Dehlin explained on the podcast that he had discovered that both his stake president and bishop had initiated separate investigations of Dehlin, and that each had assigned others to scour the Internet for his writings and listen to his podcasts. Furthermore, what actually elicited Dehlin's "creepy" comment was his discovery that his bishop had assigned a ward member (also serving as a stake high councilman) to try to join (anonymously) private chat rooms to which Dehlin belonged, in order to get more dirt. Would anyone, after finding that he or she was being spied on in this way, NOT think it was "creepy"? Of course not. That's why Smith included the quote in his essay without any relevant context.

Here's another example of Smith's improperly leaving out context to paint an unfair picture of Dehlin. In the section entitled "Uncorrelated Mormons" (Dubious Review at 63-70), Smith described the podcast of a conference put on by Dehlin in 2011, apparently using Dehlin quotes from the conference. I checked out the podcast and discovered that what Smith used were not statements from Dehlin's actual speech, but words that appeared on PowerPoint slides used as part of the presentation. I suspect Smith did this because he did not want to listen to the long podcast, so he instead grabbed the slides, offered them up as quotes, and ignored the context. As anyone knows, however, PowerPoint slides in a vacuum generally are not helpful without the actual speech.

And this was precisely the case here. Notice how Smith characterized what Dehlin said at the conference (using only words from the slides, not Dehlin's mouth):

Greg Smith wrote:
[Dehlin] tells his audience that "if you haven't already become uncorrelated, you likely will, and the majority of your children or loved ones [sic] children most likely will." Although Dehlin did not tell his audience to leave the Church, he assured them they probably will stop believing and disengage because the Church is not credible. One doesn't have to leave, but those who are not credulous or lacking integrity probably will.

Source: Dubious Review at 65
If Smith had bothered to listen to the podcast, he would have learned the context for the statement on the slide that Smith lifted for his essay. During his presentation, while referring to the slide, Dehlin said the information was based on certain data he learned from someone at "the highest levels of the Church" (but who he refused to name). And that data was this: 18% activity rate in the Church (just 10% in third world countries). Based on this data, the statement on the slide was accurate - 82% of (inactive) LDS members are already "uncorrelated" in some way, and with activity rates trending down, it is likely LDS children will also become "uncorrelated." This is simple math, but Smith turned it into something sinister: "Dehlin is blunt about the fact that if his counsel is successful and his advice is taken, it would substantially weaken the Church." (Dubious Review at 65). This is patently FALSE!

At the same conference, the PowerPoint presentation included slides listing possible ways to help "uncorrelated Mormons" make the transition. Smith, again, relied entirely on the PowerPoint slides to argue that Dehlin has "ambitious plans" to create a new community, including Especially For Youth and other support services. If Smith had listened to the podcast, however, he would have learned that Dehlin was simply brainstorming and throwing out ideas; Dehlin never expressed any real plan or vision to create some sort of "Utopia," as Smith seemed to suggest.

The Dehlin quotes relied on by Smith in this regard are very misleading and deserve special attention. For example, Smith claimed that Dehlin "hopes for an alternative religion of some type, one based on the Church (though he may regard it as unlikely to happen)." (Id. at 66). Smith continued:

Greg Smith wrote:
And Dehlin sees himself and his allies as key instruments in altering matters: "I submitted the first complete draft of a paper on `sexual orientation change efforts in a large Mormon sample.' A few huge milestones for me/us. We're gonna change the world, y'all! For the better."

Source: Dubious Review at 66
I suspect Smith used this partial quote because he felt any mention of a paper on "sexual orientation" might inflame homophobia and portray Dehlin in a bad light. However, the part of the quote omitted by Smith reveals something very different. Here is what Dehlin actually wrote on FB (bolded part was omitted by Smith):

John Dehlin wrote:
[S]uccessfully submitted my Master's thesis today . and also submitted the first complete draft of a paper on `sexual orientation change efforts in a large Mormon sample.' A few huge milestones for me/us. We're gonna change the world, y'all! For the better.

Source: Dehlin FB page, 12/9/11 (ellipses in original) (emphasis added)
The full quote makes a significant difference. First of all, we see that Smith improperly added the word "I" where none existed. Second, and more importantly, we realize that Dehlin's excitement was due not only to his "sexual orientation" paper, but also the submission of his Master's thesis (a very big deal for academics, reflecting a lot of work). Hence, the reason for Dehlin's using the plural "milestones," whereas Smith chose to omit language in order to highlight the singular milestone that Smith believed would further his agenda. With the full quote, however, we can see that, despite Smith's claim to the contrary, Dehlin's mention of his sexual orientation paper was not necessarily an attempt to "alter matters" (apparently Smith's reference to traditional marriage); Dehlin just as easily could have been referring to his Master's thesis. And Smith's use of the phrase "me/us" to mean Dehlin "and his allies," could just as likely have meant Dehlin and his family. I was very frustrated to read over and over Smith's cherry-picking certain words to further his attack on Dehlin.

And as further evidence of just how badly Smith misconstrued this Dehlin post, among the hundreds who went to the trouble to "like" (in FB parlance) the post, were: (i) Hans H. Mattsson (former member of the Third Quorum of the Seventy); (ii) Morgan Davis (at BYU's Maxwell Institute); and (iii) Zina Nibley Petersen (BYU faculty member, daughter of Hugh Nibley, and wife of Boyd Jay Petersen, an apologist himself). It appears that this post put Dehlin in some pretty good LDS company, despite Smith's attack.

In the next paragraph (see Dubious Review at 66), Smith again grafted parts of separate quotes into one to support an argument that falls flat when you read the quotes in their entirety and in context.

Greg Smith wrote:
Dehlin wants to support "alternative approaches to a moral framework," and he requests help finding videos "that teach good morals and values for kids from 6 to 16 years old . to help replace what church often tries to provide."

Source: Dubious Review at 66 (ellipses in original)
This was just another quote made up from cherry-picked words in multiple Dehlin FB posts. For example, Dehlin started off with this post on his FB page: "Is anybody aware of good Internet resources to teach children morals and values?" The conversation then continued:

a. One of the early responses was from a John Crawford, who didn't write anything but did provide the link to

Dehlin's responded to Crawford: "John -- Any pointers?"

b. Further down in the FB thread, a Kris Nye asked Dehlin: "Maybe you should clarify what you're looking for. Are you looking for resources to teach children morals or dogma?"

Dehlin responded to Nye: "I'm looking for little 10-20 minute videos that teach good morals and values for kids from 6 to 16 years old."

c. A poster named Afif then asked Dehlin: "I guess there is some confusion here about moral and ethics. I cannot say anything about ethics since parenting and resources from your class (religion, ethnicity, community...) can do that. For morality you have 2 options: Indoctrination or teaching/showing them how to think for themselves (and living as an example is a good resource). Depending on the method you choose resources may differ. Knowing you I thought you wanted the latter - so resources about critical thinking would be a starting point."

Dehlin responded to Afif: "I'm just wondering how best to help instill good morals/values/ethics, and even spirituality in your children without religion. I'm looking for resources to help replace what church often tries to provide."

Afif further responded to Dehlin: "John-- your age group is a bit wide. Besides the direct methodology videos (I gave an example before) stories are important."

Source: Dehlin FB page, 12/9/11 (emphasis added)
Reading the full conversation shows that Dehlin's initial question had nothing to do with "support[ing] `alternative approaches to a moral framework,'" as Smith put it. Dehlin started out simply asking for Internet sources to teach morals and values to kids. He seemed open to receiving LDS-based "pointers" from John Crawford. Even when asked by Kris Nye if he's looking for videos that teach "morals or dogma," Dehlin repeated that he was looking for any videos, only adding qualifications for length and age range. It is Afif who brought up different sources of teaching, including religion, among others. And only then did Dehlin say that he wanted something for the situation of families outside of religion (and not necessarily the LDS religion, but any religion). The part Smith focused on ("replace what church often tries to provide") was just a small part of a very long conversation, yet Smith blew it up as if Dehlin were seeking to do away with all religion.

I found it interesting that between the two posts on Dehlin's FB page from which Smith cherry-picked the above partial quotes, there appeared this separate post by Dehlin:

John Dehlin wrote:
An active, currently-serving member of an LDS stake presidency just wrote to me to thank us for our work with Mormon Stories . says his "testimony has been challenged and strengthened" through the podcast. Fun times.

Source: Dehlin FB page, 12/9/11 (ellipses in original)
I'm certain Smith read this post, because it appeared literally between the two Dehlin posts that Smith used for his essay. Yet, Smith mentioned it not at all. Here was a perfect example of how Dehlin has helped people to stay in the Church, but Smith ignored it in order to focus on the negative. "Fair and balanced," as Smith claimed? Not a chance.

5. Other Misquotes:

Here are some other misquotes and mistakes I found in the Dubious Review:

a. Smith attacked Dehlin for supposedly accusing LDS leaders of creating misleading ads in connection with the "I'm a Mormon" PR campaign. (See Dubious Review at 72). As support, Smith cited to an essay at Mormon Matters, purportedly written by Dehlin. I found the article, but it doesn't mention Dehlin anywhere and states it was authored by "admin." Smith needs to explain how an article attributed to "admin" led him to claim it was Dehlin. Moreover, the one or two quotes used by Smith are made up of cherry-picked words from several quotes.

b. Smith butchered a quote by Dehlin about the Church "thinking more like a company and less like the Soviet Union." (Id. at 74). Smith provided no context for the quote, which only becomes apparent if read with the first sentence of Dehlin's full quote (conveniently omitted by Smith). Here it is: "It shows me [i.e., Dehlin] that they care about their consumers, and that they are willing to change." (See Tony Semerad (Smith misspelled the name as "Semard"), "Church Asks Mormons: Which websites, writers do you read?," Salt Lake Tribune, 10/7/11 (emphasis added)). Another point Smith omitted from this Trib article is that the LDS Church sent out a survey to "members about their readership of key websites and Mormon writers .," specifically listing, among other choices, Dehlin and Mormon Stories. Notably absent from the Church survey list were FARMS and FAIR. (Id.).

c. In connection with Smith's attacking Dehlin for praising the "The Worst Talks Ever" list (see Dubious Review at 75-76), Smith took real umbrage at any criticism of Boyd Packer's infamous 1976 talk, "To Young Men Only." Smith disagreed with any claim that the present-day LDS Church has distanced itself from Packer's chestnut, saying that the talk is still published in pamphlet form. (Id. at 75 n.255). Not surprisingly, Smith failed to mention that a search of Gen'l Conference talks at will NOT pull up this talk. It simply is not there. Moreover, Smith argued that "habitual masturbation" is still a no-no in the Church (does this mean "occasional" is ok?). But, again, Smith failed to mention recent developments in the Church about this: the current Handbook expressly states that "self-abuse" (i.e., masturbation) is a type of instance, among others, for which a disciplinary council should not be held. (See Handbook 1, 6.7.1 (2010)). In contrast, the previous version of the Handbook did not contain this prohibition. (See Church Handbook of Instructions Book 1 at 111 (2006)). I believe it is very clear that the LDS Church has indeed distanced itself from and now downplays the whole masturbation issue.

d. Smith attacked Dehlin for his statements covering pretty much anything sexual. In fact, Smith seemed particularly focused on "chastity" issues throughout his essay. For example, Smith pointed to a podcast where Dehlin and Natasha Parker (a board member of Mormon Stories) interviewed Dr. Stephanie Buehler, a non-Mormon and well-known psychologist/sex therapist (Smith didn't mention Buehler's name in the essay; you have to listen to the podcast to get it). Smith objected to the assertion made in the podcast that masturbation and erotica could be helpful in an LDS marriage. (See Dubious Review at 76-77). Smith cited a story told during the podcast about an LDS wife who became upset at her husband's perusing a Victoria's Secret catalogue. Apparently this wife believed her husband had a "porn" problem, which "Dehlin's expert" (Smith's words) dismissed as a non-issue. (Id. at 77). From this, Smith argued that "Mormon Stories effectively minimizes the woman's concerns by defining the problem outside of the pornographic realm." (Id.). I'm not sure if Smith actually listened to this podcast, because if he had, he would also have heard that this same LDS wife also believed her husband was involved in porn because he watched the Dancing With the Stars television program (hereinafter, "DWTS"). I don't think anyone would argue that DWTS is a form of porn; Smith probably left this nugget out of his essay because even he realized DWTS is not porn and that the LDS woman in the story was probably a bit off her rocker. Moreover, Smith seems to have conflated the two women in the podcast, Natasha Parker (the interviewer affiliated with Mormon Stories) and the guest, Dr. Buehler (the actual expert being interviewed), because Smith wrote that "Dehlin's expert" didn't see looking at Victoria's Secret as porn at all. (Dubious Review at 77). In fact, Natasha Parker (the interviewer) said this, NOT the expert (Dr. Buehler) as claimed by Smith.

e. Continuing with his sex theme, Smith argued in his essay that married Mormon couples must show restraint and moderation in their sex lives. In support he quoted scripture and a 2005 talk by Dallin Oaks about the evils of porn. Apparently Smith is unaware that the Church has considerably loosened up when it comes to sex in marriage. Not too long ago Mormon leaders preached sex only to procreate. Since then, however, the Brethren have withdrawn a directive that interpreted "unholy and impure practices" to include oral sex, have left the decision of birth control to the couple, and agreed that "sexual relations within marriage are divinely approved not only for procreation but also as a way of expressing love .." (See Handbook 1, 17.3.4 (2010)). During the podcast, it came up that some middle-age men today often suffer from the "shame" they felt as teenagers as a result of masturbation. Dr. Buehler said that "[f]or this reason, and for many other medically sound reasons," masturbation should not be viewed as any big deal. (See Mormon Stories Podcast # 245, 3/10/11). Smith dismissed this expert advice: "However, what medical science can reliably say about spiritual matters, which provide the framework for these teachings, was not addressed." (Dubious Review at 78). Of course, this was a `straw man' argument, as Smith (a medical doctor) well knows - medical science has no relevance to "spiritual matters." And I can't leave this out - in a footnote Smith asserted the following: "The fantasy life and inflamed passions that almost invariably accompany masturbation might also serve as a type of gateway to more serious sin." (Id. at 78 n.267). Here we are in 2013 and people still preach this?

6. Smith attacks Dehlin's work with LDS homosexuals:

Smith continued with a sexual theme, but this topic deserves its own section. Smith attacked Dehlin's work with LDS homosexuals by first noting: "[Dehlin] is at present conducting a study on the experience of homosexuals within the Church." (Dubious Review at 67) (emphasis added). Big mistake here: Dehlin was not conducting such a study at the time Smith's essay was published in February 2013, because the study, co-authored by Dehlin, retired BYU professor Bill Bradshaw, and non-Mormon USU psychology professor Renee Galliher, concluded in 2011 and the results were released on January 6, 2012, over a year before Smith would publish his essay. (See USU Dept. of Psychology Newsletter, "Exploration of Experiences and Psychological Health of Same-Sex Attracted Latter-day Saints," 1/6/12).

Smith followed up with this erroneous statement: "Dehlin's attitude toward homosexual acts is opposed to the Church's stance, but some LDS participants in his study might well be unaware of this if he only describes himself as a life-long Mormon. They may expect, but not get, someone who is fundamentally friendly to their values and covenants." (Dubious Review at 68). Apart from the poor prose, this claim has many problems. First, Smith's statement about Dehlin's "attitude" is based on a 12/15/10 post by Dehlin on the Recovery from Mormonism bulletin board. (See Dubious Review at 68 n.228). I found the post and here is what Dehlin actually wrote, in relevant part:

John Dehlin wrote:
I have worked very hard for many years now to be a positive, public advocate for gay rights generally, and for acceptance/progress of/for gays in and out of the church. I am the co-founder of, I am the owner and creator of (I did all those interviews on my own dime, of my own accord, pre-Prop 8). If you go and watch my interviews with Carol Lynn Pearson, Bruce Bastian, Buckley Jeppson, Clark Pingree, Peter and Mary Danzig, the one on reparative therapy, etc. -- you'll know that my questions for Bill Bradshaw represented my attempt to take on the role of the TBM in the interview -- so that he could make as strong of a case as possible for love/tolerance/progress for homosexuals amongst believing Mormons.

I have covered the homosexuality issue on Mormon Stories so thoroughly over the past 6 months that I've actually lost listnership over it ... but I don't care. This is THE civil rights issue of our time (in the U.S.), and I won't stand silent.

Source: John Dehlin post on Recovery from Mormonism, 12/15/10 (emphasis added)
For the life of me, I cannot comprehend how Smith, in his own mind, could twist the above words to invent an "attitude toward homosexual acts . opposed to the Church's stance[.]" (Dubious Review at 68). Dehlin obviously was speaking to the civil right of marriage for gays and lesbians, not about "homosexual acts."

7. Smith calls himself to serve as Dehlin's bishop:

In one of the stranger parts of his essay, Smith assumed the role of Dehlin's bishop to conclude that Dehlin is not worthy to hold a temple recommend. (See Dubious Review at 36-42). Taking upon himself the mantle of Dehlin's bishop (e.g., Smith apparently is the bishop of his ward in Canada), Smith wrote:

Greg Smith wrote:
There are, in fact, a number of temple-recommend questions that ask about faith in God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost. A belief in Christ's salvific role is also vital, as is faith in the restoration of the gospel and a commitment to sustain current Church leaders as holding unique and exclusive priesthood keys. If a member honestly does not share these beliefs, that is not a cause for condemnation or critique. What is troubling, however, is Dehlin's insistence that he is eligible for a recommend but for tithing - the claim is false, based upon his own report. If what he says about his nonbelief is accurate - and there is no reason to question it - then his claim to be temple-recommend worthy cannot be.

Source: Dubious Review at 39 (emphasis added)
There you have it - Smith, as Dehlin's bishop, has decided that Dehlin is not worthy to hold a temple recommend (for reasons other than non-payment of tithing). How can this kind of rubbish be included in an article aspiring to "scholarship"? But wait, there's more .. After going through the first two TR questions (see Dubious Review at 40-41), and finding Dehlin to have failed miserably, Smith wrote:

Greg Smith wrote:
If Dehlin or others are not, at present, in harmony with the temple requirements, that is no obstacle to continued membership in the Church or the faithful fulfillment of many Church callings. What is more significant, however, is Dehlin's distortion of the [temple-recommend] interview's purpose and intent. Believing members regard these issues and concerns as sacred. The leaders conducting the interviews feel a solemn duty to protect members from making promises they will break. But, Dehlin urges his audience to hide the truth, and gives them the intellectual tools to justify dishonesty.

Source: Dubious Review at 42 (emphasis added)
In connection with this discussion, Smith quoted Dehlin as saying: "[L]ocal leaders are strictly forbidden to add additional questions to the [temple recommend] interview." (Dubious Review at 40). Smith provided no citation for this quote; instead, in a footnote, Smith counter-argued: "Dehlin is mistaken if he believes leaders cannot probe a member's answers further." (Id. at 40 andamp; n.129). Smith then referred to three sections in Handbook 1: Section 3.3.3, Section 3.3.4, and Section 7.7.1. (Id.). I read all three sections. Section 3.3.3 does not support Smith's characterization; in fact, it better supports Dehlin's position: "Interviewers should not add any requirements to those that are outlined in the temple recommend book." (Smith made no mention of this statement in his essay, even though it sounds directly on point to me). The only parts of this section that could be construed to allow further prying relate to (i) single members going through the temple for the first time, and (ii) members who have intellectual disabilities. Section 3.3.4 only allows for further prying of divorced members or members who were previously excommunicated or committed serious sin. And Section 7.7.1, as cited by Smith, does not exist in Handbook 1.

8. Smith uses Dehlin's interview of Dr. Michael Coe as a "Case Study":

For some reason Smith chose Dehlin's podcast interview of Dr. Michael Coe to illustrate what's wrong with Dehlin's podcasts. (See Dubious Review at 25-33). Oddly, Smith's essay did not include a citation to the Coe podcast. For those who would like to listen to it, it was uploaded on 8/12/11 at Mormon Stories (Podcast Nos. 268-70) in three parts representing a total of 3 hours. I don't believe that Smith ever listened to the podcast, because he had a transcript prepared by FAIR volunteers. (See RUR at 33 n.94). What is remarkable is that Smith spent 8 pages of his essay addressing the 3-hour Coe interview, but the substance of his commentary dealt only with trivial issues. After listening to the entire podcast, I can confirm it raised nothing new and shouldn't be considered "anti" anything.

Smith began his analysis by characterizing the Coe podcast as "an excellent example of how Dehlin appears ill-prepared and ill-informed." (Dubious Review at 25). This is a pretty serious and insulting charge, so I expected strong supporting evidence; alas, Smith didn't give me any. Instead, Smith first raised the fact that Dehlin mentioned to Coe "steel swords" in the BofM "or shields or helmets or whatever." (Id.). From this, Smith forcefully asserted, "There are, in fact, no metal shields mentioned anywhere [in the BofM]." (Id. at 26). I don't know why Smith felt he needed to make a big deal about "metal shields." First, the Dehlin quote used by Smith did not say "metal shields" - only "metal swords." Smith is simply assuming that Dehlin's use of "shields" meant they were made of "metal," even though the quote does not say this. Second, the word "shields" is mentioned in several places in the BofM. (See Alma 43:19; Alma 44:1; Alma 46:13; Alma 49:24; and Helaman 1:14).

Smith also argued that "shield" is not the same thing as a breastplate because "[t]he construction or material of Nephite breastplates is never specified." Dehlin also didn't mention a Nephite breastplate in the quote, but Smith is wrong when he claims we don't know its "construction or material." For example, in Lucy Smith's biography of Joseph Smith, she wrote that she had seen and handled the Nephite breastplate found by Joseph with the Gold Plates. According to Lucy:

Lucy Mack Smith wrote:
When he [i.e., Joseph Smith] returned, he requested me to come downstairs. I told him that I could not leave my work just then, yet[,] upon his urgent request, I finally concluded to go down and see what he wanted, upon which he handed me the breastplate spoken of in his history.

It was wrapped in a thin muslin handkerchief, so thin that I could see the glistening metal and ascertain its proportions without any difficulty.

It was concave on one side and convex on the other, and extended from the neck downwards as far as the center of the stomach of a man of extraordinary size. It had four straps of the same material for the purposes of fastening it to the breast, two of which ran back to go over the shoulders, and the other two were designed to fasten to the hips. They were just the width of two of my fingers (for I measured them), and they had holes in the end of them to be convenient in fastening.

Source: Lucy Mack Smith, History of Joseph Smith, Chap. XXIV, at 107 (1853 ed.) (emphasis added)
I think it is fair to say, based on Mother Smith's eyewitness account, the Nephite breastplate was made of metal, despite Smith's claim to the contrary.

Smith also made a big deal about Dehlin's mentioning "helmets" during the Coe podcast, noting that "[t]he word helmet is never used in the Book of Mormon. What is mentioned is `head-plates,' which is quite a different matter, but the material of which they are made is never described." (Dubious Review at 26). So Dehlin's "sin" was to use the word "helmet" instead of "head-plates"? Dehlin also used the word "whatever" in the quote used by Smith, which, in my mind, meant that Dehlin was trying not to be hyper-technical in this part of his conversation with Coe.

Smith's criticism of Dehlin in this regard was silly hair-splitting. Smith did the same in attacking Dehlin's and Coe's conversation about Nephite coins. (See Dubious Review at 27-28). What a non-issue. Until just a few days ago, the BofM used the word "coinage" in the heading for Alma 11, and the word "coin" in the BofM Index to mean Nephite "senine." Why would Smith attack Dehlin for using the same word long used by the LDS Church to describe Nephite money?

Smith also wrote critically of Dehlin's and Coe's conversation about DNA and its impact on the BofM. (Dubious Review at 28-29). Smith offered this weak counter-argument: "f Lehi had any descendants in the modern era, then by Joseph Smith's time all Amerindians would be descendants of Lehi." ([i]Id. at 29) (italics in original). All anyone needs to do to realize that Dehlin was perfectly reasonable in raising and discussing this issue with Coe, is to read Simon Southerton's book, Losing a Lost Tribe, which addresses this very topic (not surprisingly, Smith failed to cite this excellent source in his essay).

Smith wrote negatively of other issues raised in the Coe podcast (i.e., elephant glyph/macaw, lack of references of BofM names in the historical record, etc.), but these arguments were too ridiculous to merit a response; however, the most absurd argument raised by Smith in attacking the Coe podcast was this statement:

Greg Smith wrote:
A fifth [rhetorical] technique peppers the discussion with chuckles, giggles, and snorts from Dehlin as Coe gently skewers the na
Source: Dubious Review at 32
So, here we have a 3-hour conversation between Dehlin and Coe, and the above are the best attacks Smith could come up with? He could have shrunk his 98-page Dubious Review by over 8% if he (or his editors at MI) had wisely removed this worthless 8-page section.

9. Smith attacks Dehlin's survey of Ex-Mormons that the LDS Church has reviewed:

On pages 85 through 95 of the Dubious Review, Smith methodically attacks the worth and veracity of an online survey trying the gauge the various reasons (and their importance) for why former LDS members left the Church. Smith quickly pointed out the survey was not scientific. (Id. at 85). Well, that's pointed out in the survey's disclaimer anyway. Smith also complained that "[t]he first serious problem is that the survey's participants are self-selected .." (Id. at 86). True enough. But I wonder how else Dehlin could have found ex-Mormons to take the survey; so far as I know, the Church does not release a list of ex-members.

Smith also attacked other issues he had with the survey. But the biggest issue Smith failed to mention, and which he would have known had he listened to Dehlin's Jan. 2013 podcast and updated the essay accordingly, was that THE LDS CHURCH (or at least some high leaders in the Church) believed the survey and its data were important enough to review. Dehlin recounted in the Jan. 2013 podcast that the survey's results were presented to Church leaders (although Dehlin, much to his chagrin, was not invited to the meeting where the survey was discussed). So, Smith can attack the survey all he wants, but the bottom line is this: Church authorities were interested enough in the survey to schedule a meeting to discuss its results. Of course, a reader of Smith's essay would never know this because Smith doesn't mention anything about it.

10. Conclusion:

I again apologize for the atrocious length of this post. In sum, I found Smith's essay to be a pure `hack job' intended to destroy a man and his reputation. No scholarship at all, imo. Smith should be ashamed, but he's written this kind of "hit piece" before, so I doubt it. (See Greg Smith, "Shattered Glass: The Traditions of Mormon Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Encounter Boyd K. Packer," Mormon Studies Review, Vol. 23.1, particularly pp. 84-85 (where Smith presumes to preach to the target of his paper: "Mormons4Marriage")).

As I acknowledged at the beginning of this post, I don't know John Dehlin at all, apart from his podcasts and occasional Internet posts. From all the stuff I've heard and read from Dehlin, Smith's essay completely missed the mark. I'm heartened to know that at least one GA, BYU's president, and the Maxwell Institute killed Smith's essay; consequently, the Church and BYU will never suffer from any association with it. And, I think, in the end John Dehlin comes out looking pretty good, despite Smith's best efforts to destroy him. Smith's essay is just too "over the top" to be taken seriously, even if he had updated it before publication.

Borrowing the words from one of my favorite movies, "the [Dehlin] abides .," and may he ever do so.
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