Mormon conference to respond to religion’s critics
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), as the Mormon faith is officially called, is holding its tenth annual Mormon Apologetics Conference on Thursday and Friday in Sandy, Utah.
Organizers say it is a chance to dispel misunderstandings about their fast-growing faith, which has certainly been subjected to increased public scrutiny in recent years.
Such scrutiny in part stemmed from the unsuccessful bid by Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon, to win this year’s presidential nomination for the U.S. Republican Party.
The few thousand renegade Mormons who still practice polygamy, which the mainstream church renounced over a century ago, have also given the LDS a PR problem.
I have blogged on this before regarding the on-going investigation of polygamist activities at a compound in west Texas.
The Mormon faith, which claims about 13 million members worldwide, also has plenty of inter-faith suspicions to contend with. Many U.S. evangelicals and Southern Baptists in particular regard it as an almost sinister cult — and a successful one that is “poaching” souls from the evangelical flock.
It was founded in 1830 in New York state by Joseph Smith, who is revered by Mormons as a prophet, but dismissed as a charlatan by some of the religion’s critics.
He claimed (among other things) to have uncovered The Book of Mormon which detailed the colonization of the Americas by an ancient Hebrew tribe.
Scott Gordon, the president of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research (FAIR) which is organizing the conference, said the geography of The Book of Mormon would be among the topics discussed.
The dearth of archaeological evidence to support the events described in The Book of Mormon is often cited by sceptics as grounds for doubting its veracity.
“The Book of Mormon is a religious book and it doesn’t really say where it comes from. So people have made a number of assumptions and guesses,” G0rdon told me.
He said most Mormon scholars are now placing the events described in The Book of Mormon in central America.
The list of speakers and presenters can be found here .