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Mormons, New Media, and Truth

January 3, AD 2012 54 Comments

Throughout history man has been limited. His existence in space and time has largely dictated the truths, ideas, customs, and material goods that he consumed (both good and bad for his soul), which were in turn predestined by his culture, location and community. The internet has changed the way we consume media and information forever. In the past we were limited in choice because our choices were limited. In the digital world we live in an arena of abundance and there is no gatekeeper. What we encounter is no longer defined by the people, places and things around us in time and space. More and more “Stuff” is available to us every minute.

It’s easy to see the obvious downfalls due to the abundance of information our technology presents i.e. the availability of sexual, violent, and blasphemous content.

But with this open access to content also comes one of the greatest mission fields the Church has ever known: evangelization in the new media world. The limits of missionary activity have always been confined by one’s ability to be physically present. The missionaries of the present no longer have this dilemma. Whether its a picture, a story, an idea, or an evangelization tool, the Internet has enabled billions of individuals to open the gate to new ideas.

Two weeks ago from a woman interested in sharing her conversion story on whyimcatholic.com that got me thinking about all this. It is both surprising, upsetting, and encouraging. I have highlighted portions for emphasis:

Email 1:
I am now a Catholic who converted in April of this year having spent 40 years in the Mormon church.  My husband is still Mormon and knows of my conversion to the Catholic faith; however, he has asked that I not let our children find out due to the fact that they may keep our grandchildren away from us (you see, I would be a threat to their eternal salvation and progression).  I would like to send you my conversion story, but need to know if you could post it without using my real name?  In addition to the fear above mentioned, there are actually Mormons who search sites such as yours, looking for those of us who dare to question and/or leave, and when they find one of us, they turn us over to the church authorities for disciplinary action.  This would be harmful to my husband’s position in the Mormon church and I cannot risk that.  My husband has been so understanding and supportive of my decision that I cannot do anything that would bring harm to him. Thank you for your kind consideration.

Email 2:
Thank you so much for your kind understanding of the situation.  In the last few years, the internet has opened up the opportunity for mormons to search the actual history of their church, which, fortunately, has led to an exodus from the church.  Therefore, the leadership has begun to find ways of countering, such as searching the web for “apostates” as mentioned below.  I also noticed that when you type in ex-mormon, the first option that appears on Google is a mormon site (mormon.org).   As you know, this means that the mormon church is spending an extraordinary amount of money to keep their site as first choice, and with the deep pockets they have, they can continue to do so.  Your site stands as a refuge for those of us who have left, and as a guiding light for those who are troubled and seeking.  With much gratitude.

Everyday there a new outreaches and digital ministries being created to evangelize on this digital continent, as we begin 2012 how may God be calling you?

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Steven-Lawson-e1313151202718.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Steven Lawson is a newly married young adult living in the Diocese of Buffalo NY. After a reversion from agnosticism during a semester working in NYC, he felt called to ministry in the Church and left his dream since youth of working in film and animation. Steven is the founder of Why I’m Catholic, a website designed to bring Catholic conversion stories to the web 2.0, specifically to young adults. During the day Steven works on iCatholicRadio (the first dedicated Catholic radio application for Apple and Android mobile devices) and various other new media outreaches for The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio.[/author_info] [/author]

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