Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Mormon Art of "Spin"

Somewhere between the truth and a lie, there is "spin." We hear about politicians spinning bad news in their favor. We see journalists and pundits spin news stories to reflect a certain point of view. It’s commonplace and we’ve come to expect it from these people. But what most of us, who have discovered the truth behind Mormonism just weren’t prepared for, was discovering that the Mormon Church is also a master at spinning the truth..

Church Authorities have taken church history, filtered it through their biases, and taught this new and improved church history not as it actually happened but rather how they wish it had happened. The rationale behind this “Wishful History” was that the raw truth just wasn’t faith promoting enough.

The church has sold its soul on this conclusion; that it isn’t really lying… it’s just putting it’s bias, it’s spin on how these historical events should have happened… and besides that, would anybody really want to join the church if the church were honest and told the raw truth? After all the church does make bad men good and good men better right? So don't these end results justify the spinning of the truth? So what's wrong with that?

Here’s what’s wrong. The Mormon Church hold’s itself up as “The” one true church on the face of the earth…the only church that God is pleased with…the only means by which we humans can return to live with God. The Church claims to be the moral authority for the entire earth. One of the most difficult aspects of my discovery of the unspun history of the church was having to conclude that my moral ethical church, was immoral and unethical. It was the realization that the church placed a greater value on control, manipulation and self preservation than on being honest and truthful.

The ends DO NOT justify this unethical communication with its membership…and it is because of this reality that I have concluded that the Mormon Church is morally bankrupt despite it claims to the contrary.

At one time in my life I would have given my life for this church.

The Mormon church taught me that I should be truthful and honest in all my dealings with my fellow man. Yet the Spinning done by the church, is like any other kind of dishonesty, it is wrong. It makes good old fashioned lying sound clever and trendy and it sends a mixed message to the enlightened member that lying is ok…when it is done for the Lord.

By accepting this ethical gray areas as "normal" the Mormon church is talking out of both sides of its mouth. Honesty is always the best policy. When a Church member is taught a lesson at church they have the reasonalbe expectation that they are being taught the truth and not spin.

An orderly society needs to operate on the premise of truth and honesty. Without some standard of truth, people will tend to satisfy their own interests, desires, and feelings. Who wants to live in a world where everyone sets their own behavioral standards? Yet this is exactly the world of Mormonism.Each of us have a universal expectation that people tell the truth.

Fortunately, we don't have to worry about getting ripped off every time we buy something. We can generally trust that when we shake hands on a deal, the other person is being straightforward with us. Of course, wisdom and good judgment still mandate a healthy amount of caution, but you can go through life with a fair amount of trust in your fellow man. But by Spinning its history the Mormon church has thrown its moral authority out the window.

By accepting that a little spin is justified, the Mormon Church has sacrificed it’s precariously balanced moral trust and thrown it out of whack. The urge to spin the truth has worked its way very subtly into the very fabric of Mormonism. The truth is no longer valued…it’s value is now placed in its new and improved faith promoting stories…that are loosly based on the truth or complete fabrications of how they wish things would have happened. It started with Joseph Smith when he stretched the facts or just plain out and out lied about his experiences. He was quick to rationalize and weasel out of jams with his spinning and lies. He became a master at shifting responsibility or leaving out undesirable facts. Before we knew it, spin became a regular part of Mormonisms communication practice with others.

Ethical communication is not only about what IS said, but what is NOT said. Rule #1 in spinning is to only tell people what they need to know. The LDS Church is a master at this. Some very important parts of the truth always seem to get conveniently left out when telling their foundational stories. Withholding information has become so easy to do without guilt or effort because all it requires them to do is to do nothing. No fibbing, no stories, no sweat, just a closed lip and the hope that no one reads between the lines. But make no mistake, lies by omission are still lies and are still wrong. The church fell to the temptation and left out undesirable details that would hinder the conversion of some prospective investigator. They feel their spin and lies are justified.

The moral of this story: Let the words that come out of our mouths be honest and devoid of spin. There should be no higher compliment than to have other people say that they can, "count on you for the truth." You will be believable, trusted, and respected. Ethical communication is an obligation. People expect it from you. In the world of Mormonism, where the spin-doctors operate, keep ourselves in good ethical health. Now that IS a lesson we can learn from our Mormon Experience

I incorporated ideas from and based this post on an original article written by Mark S. Putnam , Ethical Communications: Spinning the Truth.


paranoidfr33k said...

Right on. Its this practice that has made me realize that the church is not what it says it is. It is what it isn't saying as well, and I don't like what they choose not to tell. Their artful history revisions are what originally caused me to question the church. Now I've come to realize just to what extent the church has spun their story.


polarpaul said...

The church has evolved into a large bureaucracy over the last 100 years. Like all bureaucracies, the goal of the organization becomes subservient to preserving the bureaucracy. In general, conformism becomes a unifying value.

Finding the truth is not as important as obedience and faith in church leaders. Members are encouraged to accept all of the church teachings or at the very least to have faith that at some point in this life or the next, all of their conflicts will be resolved, "they'll gain a testimony of their truthfulness".

I think the idea that prophets can receive new revelation is okay, but when this becomes a justification for spinning what's gone on in the past to validate the church's perfection/divine origins, the line between truth and deception has been crossed.

Interested said...

I am sad as I sit here reading about my daughter's church. She is a convert to Mormonism and no matter how hard I try, I have been unable to get her to think for herself. If she would just read some of the information...but alas, when her prophet speaks, her thinking has been done. I so hate being helpless.

Anonymous said...

As a former member of the Church. I so understand what you are speaking of.

The Church's view on 'spin' is rationalized by their 'slant' on the truth. Whereas what it simply is lying.