My friend, fellow Mormon blogger, and apparently heartless jerk who likes to compare people he disagrees with to Satan Neal Rappleye has written an excellent piece on his blog titled “Satan and Satire: On the Narratives of Excommunication and “Persecution”.
I strongly recommend you read it. I heartily endorse what Neal said.
Just one comment from me.
Neal quotes one of Dehlin’s supporters as follows:
John Dehlin has never said others should believe what he believes. When asked, he has honestly stated from time to time what he currently believes or does not believe about the church. He has also repeatedly stated that he supports people, regardless of what they believe about the church.
I read a commenter on my own blog recently say the same thing. Dehlin is not really trying to promote his opinions that run contrary to the Church’s teachings, you see. He’s just throwing them out there for people to accept or reject without actually trying to influence anyone. So to call Dehlin some kind of “teacher” isn’t accurate.
Sorry, but to me this sounds like the cop out of all cop outs.
Why on earth does anyone share an opinion, especially an unsolicited opinion, other than out of hope that somehow his or her opinion will be influential on others? People usually share their opinions because they feel they have something meaningful or important to say and want others to hear it. That’s why they do things like publish books, go on TV, and write blogs. Or start podcasts. Am I to seriously believe that Dehlin has no motivation whatsoever to be an influence or guide for others in any manner? That he’s spent hours and hours interviewing others, writing blog posts, and “liking” material on Facebook with no intention to have this stuff influence my or someone else’s opinion? That his therapy practice helping people in a “faith transition,” or whatever it’s called these days, is in no way meant to change peoples’ behavior or beliefs?
I simply don’t buy it. It’s clear to me, after listening to many of his dreadfully verbose podcasts and wading through many his tedious Facebook posts, that Dehlin is trying to make himself heard, and that he’s consciously promoting certain views over others in an attempt to influence what people think about the Church, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, etc.
But even if Dehlin doesn’t mean to purposefully influence others by sharing his opinions, which I find very hard to believe, the fact is that he has influenced others. In my own life I have friends and extended family who have, either in part or entirely, accepted Dehlin’s narrative about Mormonism. As a volunteer with FairMormon I have read dozens of emails from people who either themselves have been influenced by Dehlin or have loved ones who have been influenced by Dehlin and want further information to counter his narrative.
This is why President King was wise to insist that Dehlin, if he wants to remain a member of the Church, immediately take down and otherwise renounce his Internet material. Dehlin is influencing plenty of people, for better or for worse, and is making an impact on the public discourse on Mormonism. I think it’s clear he’s doing it on purpose, and to claim otherwise is highly naïve.
But enough of my rambling. Go read Neal’s excellent post.