What is FAIR?
FAIR is a non-profit corporation that is dedicated to helping people deal with issues related to anti-Mormonism.
What does the name FAIR stand for?
FAIR is an acronym for Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research. Since most people can’t remember that name because it is so long and difficult, they just call it FAIR. There is a media organization also known as FAIR but they are not related to us in any way.
What does the word “apologetic” mean?
The word “apologetic” is not commonly used in the LDS community and may be unfamiliar to you. The word literally means “in defense of the faith.” It is not talking about apologizing to anyone or being sorry for something.
Who are you guys?
We are collection of mostly LDS people from all over the world. We have members located all over the United States, and in many other countries such as Canada, Finland, Denmark, Austria, Australia, England, and even in the foreign and exotic lands of California and Texas.
We generally could be typified as conservative LDS who like to read a lot and like to surf the Internet. Some of us are scholars, while others are simply hobbyists. We have some members who read Greek and Hebrew; others are familiar with early Christian history and early LDS history. Still others are just familiar with anti-Mormonism in general.
Our membership includes bishops, members of stake presidencies, ward mission leaders, Sunday school teachers, Relief Society teachers, and nursery leaders. Many of the members were personally impacted by anti-Mormonism, and in a few cases were themselves anti-Mormons.
Many of the Web masters of the Internet sites that deal with criticisms of Mormonism belong to FAIR.
We gladly welcome new members if they are willing to help however they can. Not all of our members are apologists.
What do you guys do?
We respond to questions and issues related to anti-Mormonism that have been brought to our attention. We write articles, we do book reviews, we have a conference once a year, we print books, and we have a lot of fun.
Here is the partial list of what we do:
- FAIR maintains this Web site that responds to criticisms of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Web site includes articles written by members of FAIR and by others who have contributed material. It has the electronic text from several books (posted with permission), and maintains an index that links to articles on many other Web sites.
- FAIR maintains a wiki that includes the largest repostitory of LDS apologetic information that we know of.
- FAIR also maintains an online bookstore.
- FAIR maintains an e-mail list of “members” that currently stands at well over 100. This list is to discuss apologetics, for peer review of articles and for answering criticisms that people send in off the Web site. We have people from all over the world on the list.
- FAIR has a monthly electronic newsletter called the FAIR Journal that has over 10,000 subscribers and is growing by about 10 subscribers a day.
- FAIR sponsors an annual conference each August. (Information is available by clicking the Conferences link at the left of any page on this site.) At these conferences we invite various speakers to address topics that relate to apologetics and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
- FAIR publishes several books, Restoring the Ancient Church (out of print), Guess Who Wants to Have You for Lunch, Defending The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Shaken Faith Syndrome. We also publish the conference proceedings and provide audio and video from the conferences.
Tell me about your conference.
We have a lot of fun at our conferences. We have great speakers from FARMS, BYU, other schools, and industry talk on great topics like changes in the book Mormon, DNA and the Book of Mormon, demographics in the LDS church, and polygamy. People who go to our conferences say they have a great time. Many plan their vacations around the conferences and travel across the country, and sometimes across the world, to attend them. A conference guest wrote, “it looks like these guys really like each other and have a lot of fun.” Many conference attendees talk about how they like eating lunch with the speakers and meeting with them during the breaks. You can also buy books at the conference and have the authors sign the books while you are there.
Don’t you guys claim to be intellectuals but really just bash the Church?
No, that is a different group. Most people would classify us as “devout” members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We are the ones who love the Church and who love supporting the Church. Our membership includes bishops, past bishops, mission leaders, members of stake presidencies and other supportive members of the Church.
What is the context for your talks at the conference?
All presentations and talks are given in the context of the truthfulness of the gospel as taught by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We can have speakers who are not LDS, but they understand that their audience is mostly devout LDS.
Are you guys paid to do this?
No. FAIR is a volunteer organization. Not only do we not get paid for working for FAIR, but also many of us have had to contribute significant amounts of money.
But don’t you make money or get a stipend?
No. We are a volunteer organization.
How you guys stay in business?
We rely totally on donations and book sales to stay in business. Most of our income comes from donations.
What do you spend your money on?
Most of our money goes for normal operational expenses, such as maintaining the Web site, maintaining our mailing lists, advertising, and putting on our conferences. No money goes to salary. It costs over $10,000 a year to maintain the organization.
Are you affiliated with the LDS Church?
We’re not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in any way. Most of the members of FAIR are devout members of the Church that serve in various ward and stake callings.
Is the LDS Church aware of you?
We know several departments in the Church that are aware of us. But they do not endorse us or support us in any way.
Are you affiliated with BYU?
No. You might be thinking of FARMS.
I thought we were not supposed to read any anti-Mormon literature?
The problem with anti-Mormon literature is that most of it isn’t worth reading. Most of it is a complete waste of time and has the goal of destroying faith in any way it can. Most anti-Mormon material distorts sources, takes things out of context, and argues against beliefs that LDS members don’t really have. Unfortunately, some people do read it and become confused by what they read. That’s why FAIR exists.
Aren’t you paid apologists?
No, we don’t get paid for what we do.
Don’t you make lots of money off your Web site?
No, we only make a little from book sales. We rely on tax-deductible donations. If you think we are doing a good job, we would really appreciate a donation. If you think we aren’t doing a good job, we would really appreciate a donation so we can have the resources to do it better.
Will you engage in debates?
FAIR, as an organization, does not participate in debates.
Isn’t it wrong to bash with anti-Mormons?
FAIR doesn’t bash with anyone. We don’t engage in debate. We just research anti-Mormon literature and respond to it. Our audience is members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and people who are interested in its teachings.
Does your bishop or stake president know you are doing this?
Well, I can’t speak for everybody, but both my bishop and my stake president know I’m doing this. I keep them informed. While FAIR is supportive of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is not affiliated with the Church in any way.
If the Church doesn’t respond to the anti-Mormons, then why do you?
The Church is busy trying to bring people to Jesus Christ. It doesn’t need to use its time and resources responding to every anti-Mormon argument. We, on the other hand, are volunteers that like doing this stuff. We hope it is helpful to you.
Aren’t you discussing doctrinal issues without priesthood authority?
We are not affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are therefore not doing this under the direction of the priesthood. We would fall more under the category of book publishers. Just as the books you purchase in the bookstore are not published under priesthood direction, so the things we write are not under priesthood direction.
How authoritative are the things that you write?
We try very hard to not give the impression that we are speaking for the Church in any way. We are not affiliated with the Church. We therefore try to avoid doctrinal declarations. Most of the time it isn’t an issue as we are discussing things from a historical or scholarly point of view. Occasionally we get into discussions of doctrine when we feel our beliefs as Latter-day Saints have been misrepresented. At those times the writers are speaking from their own experience and beliefs.
How is FAIR different from the other Web sites that talk about criticisms of the Church?
The biggest difference between FAIR and other Web sites is that we have a peer review system. The articles that go up on FAIR have gone through a process of peer review where other FAIR members have looked at and evaluated the articles. This doesn’t mean that the articles are perfect or that they don’t need to be changed in some way. But it does provide a standard of quality to what is posted.
How are you organized?
Like any corporation we have a Board of Directors. They appoint a president. The rest of the organization is mostly done through committees. Everyone contributes what he or she can.
Who is the current president of FAIR and why did you choose him?
The current president of FAIR is Scott Gordon. The position of president, as all other positions in FAIR is an unpaid, volunteer position. He certainly wasn’t chosen because of his intelligence, apologetic skills or writing abilities. The current theory is the other members of FAIR were smart enough to know they didn’t want to be president and he wasn’t that bright. Of course the Board of Directors of FAIR is discovering that the old saying is true, “you get what you pay for.”
Where is FAIR located?
This is the most difficult question to answer. FAIR is located on the Internet. The Board of Directors is spread out all over the country and the membership is all over the world. Currently we have mail going to the president, Scott Gordon, in California.