The interview of Marlin Jensen by USU Professor Phil Barlow is now on the Internet. The statement below is interesting for several reasons:
“The fifteen men [1st Pres. & 12] really do know, and they really care. And they realize that maybe since Kirtland, we never have had a period of, I’ll call it apostasy, like we’re having right now; largely over these issues [meaning the church’s history]. We do have another initiative that we have called, ‘Answers to Gospel Questions’. We are trying to figure out exactly what channels to deliver it in and exactly what format to put it in. But we want to have a place where people can go. We have hired someone that’s in charge of search engine optimization. We realize that people get their information basically from Google. They don’t come to LDS.org. If they get there, it’s through Google. So, we are trying to create an offering that will address these issues and be available for the public at large and to the church leaders, because many of them don’t have answers either. It can be very disappointing to church members. And, for people who are losing their faith, or who have lost it, we hope to regain to the church.”
Another questioner asked how these fifteen men know. Is it through anecdotal means or from statistics? Elder Jensen said that he has received much information anecdotally and added, “The church has a very progressive research and information division, with tremendous public opinion surveyors. And the church is constantly running surveys, and employing consultants that do focus groups on a variety of topics, but especially on the ones that we are talking about right now, that are so sensitive to the faith of members. Where has the prophet laid his emphasis right now? It’s on something called ‘The Rescue’. And with good reason, because we are suffering a loss; both in terms of our new converts that come in that don’t get really established in the church, as well as very faithful members who because of things we’re talking about, as well as others, are losing their faith in the process. It is one of our biggest concerns right now.”
If I could offer something useful to the “fifteen men” (whom I am certain could care less what I’d have to say), it would be the following:
Standing in an echo chamber and hearing the same things repeated to you is not a conversation. The “crisis” will not be solved by the approach that has precipitated the crisis. This is not at all like the Kirtland Apostasy, other than the vastness of the scope involved. It is because the leadership has lost the confidence of large numbers who simply do not trust them to tell the truth about things. It is being packaged and marketed. That is not cured by “search engine optimization” because it is not believed.
Taking just one incident as an example: Those who study our history know the contemporaneous accounts all fail to mention the “transfiguration of Brigham Young into Joseph Smith” on August 8, 1844. It was not the reason the Nauvoo population voted to sustain the 12. They did NOT sustain Brigham Young separately to anything, nor did Brigham Young ask to be sustained to anything apart from advancing the claims of the 12 to preside. It would be years before Brigham Young sought to be separately sustained to lead. Repeating the false inspirational story of his transfiguration is not useful. It is not inspirational, but evidence of duplicity and dissembling. There are hundreds of other examples which could be given. They are discovered by reading history.
Very progressive research using public opinion surveyors is NOT going to help. After all, Mitt Romney was ahead by a large margin two weeks before his resounding defeat in South Carolina. Today he is behind by more than 10% in Florida, after leading for months. When the vote is taken in a few days he may well win. The shifting sands of opinion are as unstable as water. The Lord warned against establishing a house on such vulnerable sand. We should instead build upon the rock of knowing Christ. Everything I’ve written is intended to point to that rock. All that is required to vastly shift opinions is more information. Employing consultants who do focus groups on a variety of topics is what has caused the problems now facing the church.
A steady tune of fixed truth, bold declaration of doctrine, even when it fades from popularity, and seeking light from God is what built the church. It is the reason for the church’s existence. When it lapses into another well managed business operation whose product is the religion called Mormonism, it ceases to attract men’s hearts. Opinion polling and focus groups are not a substitute for revelation.
People want to believe in the restored Gospel. They want to hear truth. They know the Lord spoke to Joseph Smith. We want what was restored through Joseph to be preserved, not to be repackaged and squandered at the feet of popular opinion.
For the first time since Joseph Smith it is possible the restoration may continue without the church. The prophecies declare the work will culminate in establishing Zion. Whether the church chooses to be involved or not, it is coming.
As a final aside, the reason I say the “fifteen men” have no interest in what I have to say is because they use these professionals who conduct opinion polling and focus groups as a substitute for knowing the hearts of the faithful. Someone who is active, doing 100% home teaching and faithfully serving in their callings like myself is viewed as an inappropriate source of information. If my views differ from the leadership’s then I am considered to be ‘out of harmony’ and in error. When they employ non-believing professionals who could care less about the underlying faith (apart from it being the product to be marketed), they are viewed as objective and professional. The result is to prefer the views of the non-believer over the views of the faithful, and to discard, and even question the loyalty of the faithful. The system is broken. You must fix that first. Blaming the members for “apostasy” like Kirtland is incorrect.