F.A.I.R. Correspondence – 2

To date we have received no reply to the following email sent by Mike Thomas.

Sent: Wednesday, August 23, 2000 10:44 AM Subject: Reachout Trust

Dear Mr Barksdale

I confess that I am disappointed in your failure to reply to my e-mail of June 14th and baffled by your decision to respond instead by producing a gross misrepresentation of our correspondence (or at least one part of our correspondence) in the April 2000 issue of Apologia. I hardly recognised the exchanges you reported until I realised that you had put into your own mouth words that were original to me and represented as my arguments points that were raised and promoted by you. I do not wish to give an exhaustive response to your dissimulation but I invite you to think carefully about your reputation, such as it is, in light of the following.

Apologia: “I recently received an e-mail from an anti-Mormon who is quite popular in the UK. His name is Mike Thomas and he is the president of “Reachout Trust”, a ministry established for the sole purpose of trashing LDS beliefs”

Of course our correspondence comprises a good deal more than “an e-mail from an anti-Mormon. Any of your readers who wish to see the whole story instead of the fantastically edited highlights may visit the relevant Reachout Trust web page at where our complete correspondence to date is publicly available. I note that while you boast a “Critic’s Corner” you have shied away from publishing our exchanges on your own site. Indeed “Response to Reachout Trust” goes no further than a title.

Mike Thomas is not president of Reachout Trust. Indeed, Reachout Trust does not have a president since we are not so enamoured of titles as you and your colleagues appear to be. If we had a president it would be Doug Harris who is the founder of the Trust and is its Director.

Reachout Trust is not “established for the sole purpose of trashing LDS beliefs”. Indeed we do not “trash” anyone’s beliefs but simply defend our Christian faith against attacks from scurrilous characters determined to trash what we believe (JSH 1:19). It is a Christian ministry devoted to upholding biblical truths and helping people in the cults, the occult and the New Age. Whilst dealing with a range of issues it was originally established as a ministry to Jehovah’s Witnesses and probably still does more with Witnesses than with Mormons. Of course I am familiar with the Mormon delusion that the Mormon Church is every discernment ministry’s raison d’être but I am afraid you are sadly mistaken.

Apologia: “Mr Thomas, while avoiding nearly every response to his accusations…”

I await your reply to a 10,500 word response dated 14 June, to which you have alluded but which you have failed to even acknowledge.

Apologia: “…responded incredulously when I asked him if he really wanted to “go there” in regards to his charges of Mormon racism.”

I have reviewed our correspondence and discover that it was you who raised the subject of racism. Selective memory syndrome, the bane of every Mormon apologist, has obviously robbed you of clear recall, otherwise you would remember that I was asking for a clear definition of LDS doctrine when you went off on a tangent decrying anti-Semitism and racism in the Christian Church. Here are your own words from an e-mail dated May 15th, and the first time racism is mentioned in our correspondence. In other words, you played the race card not me.

“Or, better yet, shall we accept the rabid racism that permeated the “Christian” Church throughout the last 200+ years here in America? Are you truly aware of how intense, hateful, and vicious these “Christian doctrines” were… and even today are, in some areas? Surely, if I understand you correctly, you won’t have any problem if we soundly condemn you by association on the basis of these extremist “doctrines,” correct? After all, it is not what you REALLY believe that we would be searching for, by your definition, but what “Christian” doctrine “is,” in whatever form, and however specious.”

More revealing is my response of 14 June. Note the heading – “Racism? Do You Really Want to go There?” You describe my response as “incredulous” and indeed my incredulity was in light of the fact that you brought up the subject of racism. But I asked YOU if you wanted to “go there” in response to your charges of Christian racism, and you have the effrontery to put my words in your mouth!

“Racism? Do you Really Want to go There?”

“I confess I did a double-take when I read your remarks concerning “the rabid racism that permeated the “Christian” Church throughout the last 200+ years here in America?” You surely didn’t expect to get away with that one? How audacious! The Mormon Church has, during most of its history, proved one of the most racist churches in America. Christian Churches have recognised racism as an evil, a sin, something you yourself appear to insist upon. Where it has been expunged it has been in an attitude of repentance. Mormonism for 148 years practised racism as a command from God and has yet to repent of the racist remarks of its leaders. A more thorough example of institutionalised racism could not be found. Consider the exclusion of black people from any office in the church until 1978! Consider also the reasons for that exclusion.”

Of course your readers would be able to appreciate for themselves your skills in imaginative reporting if they had access to our correspondence on your site as they do on ours. But once again they will Have to visit “anti-Mormon” sites to get the whole story – no change there then. Do I once again sense the influence of “Darth” Packer and his drive for sanitised history telling?

Apologia: “Mr Thomas’ accusation was shocking. ‘The Mormon Church has, during most of its history, proved one of the most racist churches in America. Christian Churches have recognised racism as an evil, a sin, something you yourself appear to insist upon.'”

Again you misrepresent the facts. I go on to write:

“Where it [racism] has been expunged [from Christian churches] it has been in an attitude of repentance. Mormonism for 148 years practised racism as a command from God and has yet to repent of the racist remarks of its leaders. A more thorough example of institutionalised racism could not be found.”

A clear and reasonable comparison is being made here between the repentant attitude of the Christian Church and the arrogant and thoroughly dishonest denials of Mormonism. Denials that are repeated in your own article. In context my remarks of June 14th constitute a full, thoughtful and honest response yet you accuse me of not responding.

Apologia: “Can Mr Thomas be serious? Is he not aware of the fact that the LDS Church was the FIRST church in America to be fully integrated?” Really? Define “fully integrated”, and tell us when exactly this “full” integration came into effect. Only a Mormon could deny Negroes full and meaningful participation in church life for 148 years out of 170, and then claim the high moral ground when a truncated form of justice is belatedly pressed on the church by the weight of public outcry. Again I await your reply to my remarks on the subject, reproduced in part below:

“In 1978 this situation was reversed “by revelation” with an air that suggested Negroes aught to be eternally grateful. A bit like beating a child and expecting unqualified gratitude because you have stopped. Ever since, the Mormon Church has been parading up and down Africa behaving like the great benefactor when all along its “Scriptures” still contain verses that condemn the Negro, and its historical records and sermons of past leaders…still describe them as rebellious, liars, unworthy, a representation of Satan on the earth.” (emphasis added)

I was interested in the “authorities” you quote.

Apologia: “The first point to consider is whether non-LDS social scientists really believe that Mormons are racist? The answer is an unequivocal ‘No'”. (emphasis added)

“[Our] plea to the civil rights organizations and all the critics of the Mormon Church is: get off their backs! The Mormon leadership has publicly condemned racism. There is no evidence of a carryover of the Mormon doctrine of the Negro into secular civil life; in fact, there is evidence to the contrary” (Lester Bush & Armand Mauss, Neither White nor Black, SLC: Signature Books)

“No matter how much racism you think you see in Utah, you can’t be sure it has anything to do with Mormonism, It might be related to the rural and small-town environment in much of the Mountain West (as in other parts of the country), or it might be the sickness of individual bigots, who would find some other way to rationalize their racism, even if the Mormon Church were without this peculiar “Negro doctrine”. (ibid)

In light of the above one might reasonably expect a clear and unequivocal endorsement of your claims from “non-LDS” social scientists. And indeed perhaps the authors of Neither White nor Black are themselves quoting impartial sources in the above extracts. The book (currently out of print and unavailable) is, I understand, a collection of seven essays and is edited by Mauss and Bush. They, nevertheless, are Mormons – Lester Bush is a physician and Mormon historian and Armand Mauss is a Mormon sociologist and former President of the Mormon History Association – and in the absence of evidence to the contrary what you appear to offer is quotes from LDS writers. A sloppy piece of reportage on your part surely? Indeed what is interesting is that, whatever the source of your quotes, Mauss himself has been found elsewhere to contradict outright the claims you make.

In a Salt Lake Tribune article dated Monday, May 18, 1998 the following was reported:

“…black members of the church in the United States as well as some Mormon scholars warn that the “racist legacy” contained in various Mormon documents and authoritative statements risks undermining its mission unless they are disavowed. “In the absence of any official corrections, these speculative and pejorative ideas will continue to be perpetuated in the church indefinitely,” Armand Mauss, president of the Mormon History Association, wrote recently.” (emphasis added)

Here we have Armand Mauss calling for “official corrections” (others say disavowal though personally I believe the word they are struggling to find is “repentance”) – official corrections of what I pointed out to you in my e-mail of 14th June. If Mormon racism is as aberrant as you claim what is there to “officially correct”? Further, Mauss confirmed my own observations quoted above, when he said in his address to the Mormon History Association in Washington, D.C., in May 1998 that Mormon racist ideas are “not only still in print but remain in considerable demand among the Saints,” (Armand Mauss “In Search of Ephraim: Traditional Mormon Conceptions of Lineage and Race.”)

While I do not know the other “authorities” you quote they none of them have anything to say about Mormonism in the portions of their works you do quote. What they say about Christianity I have already responded to in large part in my e-mail of 14th June. I might observe that what is especially impressive is the candour amongst Christian historians regarding Christian racism. As you rightly demonstrate, countless writers have written exposing and condemning un-Christian attitudes and practices in Christian Church history (interesting considering your charge that Christians tend to hide their own history while condemning that of others). Having, in an e-mail of 14th June, answered reasonably fully your own charges of Christian racism with a candour that reflects that of these historians, I have further invited you to avail yourself of the same opportunity to condemn racism in Mormon leaders as I and they condemn it in Christian leaders. Unfortunately you did not take up the offer, or indeed acknowledge my 10,500 word response of 14th June, preferring to ignore it and accuse me of not responding at all.

What is less than honest is the way you and your colleagues fudge Mormon history by referring to “individuals within the church, including some leaders, [who] reflected the cultural views prevalent in their day towards other races.” To thinking people your article is a ringing endorsement of the Christian attitude to Christian history, demonstrating as it does how honest and repentant we are. At the same time those same thinking people will surely be perplexed by the bizarre claim that Mormonism and racism just don’t equate when they clearly do, as I have already demonstrated.

Finally I would remind you that this correspondence began as a result of your publishing a misleading testimony which led people to believe that Reachout Trust and Ex-Mormons for Jesus endorsed and encouraged dishonest practices in pursuit of their goals in ministry. The writer of that testimony wrote a denial of such and endorsed Reachout in particular as honest and upright in its Christian ministry. You promised to publish this clarification but have so far failed to do so. Your “apology to Michael” at the end of the April Apologia was cute and raised a smile amongst my colleagues nevertheless I feel I must hold you to your clear promise.

I hope you will take this opportunity to reconsider what you have written and correct it accordingly before I publicly respond to your article and all that has gone before. I look forward to your early response.

Yours Sincerely

Mike Thomas

Reachout Trust.

For the final instalment click here.

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