Let's say that you are at the Manti pageant or going through temple square. What if someone handed you a pamphlet that says "Joseph Lied"? Would you take it? You might and you might glance through it. If it were me I would either politely decline and walk away or I might take it and throw it away after laughing at how silly their arguments are but it would probably stay at that. I no longer talk to the people passing out the literature. I learned along time ago that engaging in such discussions is so fruitless.
We have been taught that anti-Mormon literature should be avoided.
So let's say you are browsing through pictures of your cousin's new baby and just below your cousin's post someone shared an article that talks about a controversial church topic, this person is a good upstanding member of the the church, you peak at the comments you look at the picture that makes you cringe and then you skim through the article only to be disgusted, angry, frustrated, embarrassed or a number of the other feelings. You then begin to click the comments box and begin throwing your opinion in the ring.
Christ taught us the following: "For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.
Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away." (3 Nephi 11:29-30)
I have noticed a trend that there are lots of angry people out there who post hateful things, upset things, get their feelings hurt and get angry. When Sunday rolls around they are congenial, say kind things and show forth a lot of faith in their callings.
Facebook brings out the worst and the best in people. The best in people because we all want to post pictures of our vacations, kids, fun activities, pictures for grandma and grandpa, however, there is a poison out there that is choking the testimony of many members (including myself at times) on Facebook, it is the posts and comments about articles that are meant to insight anger, frustrations resentment and fear. This is the new anti-Mormon literature that is not often labeled as such. We sometimes think of anti-Mormon literature as being, literature that specifically targets a belief and then uses scriptures, logical reason or history to prove the church is not true. We have been taught not to read such.
The new anti-Mormon literature is different, it is now intertwined with your friends, family, vacation photo, pictures of your family; it can be passed along by friends, members, non-members and others you are acquainted with. It is the forms of blog posts, YouTube videos and news articles. It is disguised as opinion pieces and opt-ed articles. The new anti-Mormon literature could be created by members who are upset about a certain policy of the church those that want to express their opinions. It could be disguised as a pro Latter-day Saint article and then a statement about how the church should change it stance on a particular issue. It might have very little to do with the church and might be a discussion about a social issue that you feel very passionate about.
I would like you to try something, if you are reading something on Facebook and the article makes you angry or uncomfortable, leave it alone, stop reading it, don't comment on it, stop defending your beliefs when they are challenged. My advice is leave it alone, don't read it or watch.
I would also recommend to be more conscious of what you are sharing as well. Non controversial topics rarely get commented on in a combative way. For example, just posting a First Presidency message or scripture rarely gets people enraged.
Shouldn't we defend our beliefs? Yes, you should if there is a reason to, however, What good comes of commenting on an article that has 100 comments on it, and all the comments are angry, either for or against, a certain controversial church topic? The answer is nothing, there is no good done here. You are not defending anything you are only being combative and looking to be mocked and have your beliefs re-challenged on the next comment made.
If a friend posts something to your timeline where they are asking what your position on something, you should give them an honest opinion of what you believe and then move on. Such things are also better done in a private conversation, if an email is sent to you that asks a question that is sincere, then that is a good time to defend your beliefs or bear testimony.
This is the difference between an honest seeker of truth and those who are just trying to trap you. I believe that right now more than ever most articles you read are trying to trap you into engaging confrontational behavior on Facebook.
If we all stopped commenting on such things then the only people who would be commenting and discussing controversial topics would be those who are upset with the church and they would get board rather quickly.
May we all post and comment with respect and understanding.
Image by Nathan Buhler Used With Permission
Note: When this was originally written anti-Mormon was the correct term for those who act contrary or are hostile to the church. This was not changed to reflect the correct name of the Church, which is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since 2019, Mormon and LDS are no longer used as proper names for the church, however, in keeping with the spirit of this article anti-Mormon was left. This will be corrected in future articles.