Monday, August 8, 2011

President's Weekly Message

August 8, 2011

Dear Elders and Sisters,

       There is a phrase in the “Standard of Truth” statement made by the Prophet Joseph Smith that we often quote, yet I sometimes wonder if we understand it.  It refers to one of the ways that Satan and his followers will oppose this work.  It says, “calumny may defame.”  The dictionary defines calumny as “a false statement made to injure someone’s reputation.”  Defame means to “attack the good name of; harm the reputation of; speak evil of.”  Moroni’s prophecy to the young Prophet Joseph that there would be “both good and evil spoken of [his name] among all people” (JSH 1:33) has certainly come to pass.  Unfortunately, too often the proportion of evil that is spoken seems to outweigh the good.  As a result, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the Church and its members.  In a talk given at Harvard University by Elder Oaks, and later referenced in the Ensign (January 2011) he said, “We Latter-day Saints know that our doctrines and values are not widely understood by those not of our faith. This was demonstrated by Gary C. Lawrence’s nationwide study published in his recent book, How Americans View Mormonism. Three-quarters of those surveyed associated our Church with high moral standards, but about half thought we were secretive and mysterious and had ‘weird beliefs.’”  The Church News also referred to Brother Lawrence’s study by saying that “more Americans currently have a strongly unfavorable impression of Mormons than a strongly favorable one—by a ratio of five to one” (Church News, September 11, 2010).  It seems calumny has defamed—at least to some extent.  That is why it is so important that we “go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till [we have]… sounded [the truth] in every ear.”  The Church News article previously cited pointed out that the purpose of the campaign is “to dispel myths about our religion [by having] Latter-day Saints speak for themselves.”  The article goes on to say, “the best way for a person to change his or her mind about the Mormons is to meet one.”  We must do all we can to engage in conversation with as many people as possible in a positive way.  We must do all we can to clarify any misunderstandings that may exist about the Church by teaching truth every opportunity we get.  We must do all we can to leave a favorable impression on those we meet.  We must do all we can to help the members of the Church do the same.  We know that “no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing,” (HC 3:30) but if the adversary is more active in spreading rumors that we are in spreading truth it will certainly slow the work.  “Therefore, dearly beloved brethren [and Sisters], let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power” (DC 123:17) to undo any calumny that may have defamed the beautiful truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and invite all to partake of its blessings.

       We congratulate the following on their baptism this week: Marlene Flanders in Albany, taught by Elders Checketts, Christensen, and Bergman;  Jayden French in Greene taught by Elders Vicchrilli, Olson, and Spencer;  Edwin and Irene Baker in Elmira, taught by Elders Call and Butler; Harley Ledbetter, taught in Carthage by Elders Nielson, Stanton, and Daniels-Brown.

       Our thoughts and prayers are with you always,

       President Bulloch