Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. – Matthew 5:10-12
And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake; For ye shall have great joy and be exceedingly glad, for great shall be your reward in heaven; for so persecuted they the prophets who were before you. – 3 Nephi 12:10-12
Persecution is a very real experience for many Latter-day Saints. This can be subtle remarks, or outlandish erroneous claims. Depending on the nature of the criticism, such persecution is mild and easily dealt with. Many times, Latter-day Saint Christians are advised to avoid all forms of contention. Yet, despite our best efforts to avoid contentious individuals, we are drawn into the conversation in an attempt to reason, defend, and expound upon correcting misinformation.
Now, with the advancement of social media networking and the online interactions we are asked to engage in about what it is we believe, teach, and even understand about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, there is a different form of persecution some will inevitably experience. We label it with a variety of forms: Cyberbullying, Harassment, Hate, Religious Intolerance, et, al. In most cases, this type of interaction is accomplished through sock puppet accounts and individuals who become internet trolls. Most of the time, we can deal with them by preventing their commentary being posted. Remove and monitor any potential sock puppet accounts that may come up; even reporting potential fake profiles on certain social media networking sites. However, despite our best efforts, there are those so-called Christians who decide to take it to the next level by publishing what is called Hate Blogs and promote their vitriolic sentiments about specific individuals, or a specific individual, through a highly biased and prejudicial lens.
Jessica Grose and Adrian Chen published a blog article titled The Terrible, Fascinating World of Hate-Blogs The article is more-or-less an interview discussion between Grose and Chen. Another blogger on Tumblr published her thoughts, and personal experience, about hate-blogging and hate bloggers. Both articles provide the framework to understand those who claim to “love Mormons” but in reality do nothing short of encouraging, honor, respect, or remain in any way, shape or form, civil in their approach and communication. Instead, many of these internet critics that claim to love Latter-day Saints do more abusive harm than good. While they may claim to follow Christ, their online behavior is very un-Christian and non-Christlike. They engage in fear-mongering, intimidation, harassment, and even creating blog articles that target particular individuals. One particular blogger took aim at me personally by digging up past internet communities I used to participate in.
His attempt to “Expose” me, possess a sense of disdain and contempt for any civility or respect. The overall objective of this particular hate-blogger is to vilify and justify his reasons to hate. All one has to do is mix some semblance of truth (in this case, resurrected up some past online interactions prior to my return to the LDS Church) and then mix it with intentional misrepresentations and spin-doctoring to appear that what the individual is establishing is somewhat truthful. In fact, many have asked me about the article, about my writing of erotica and whether Grindeal’s (his online moniker) article is correct. Others have taken it with a grain of salt. Still, some have come to my defense and posted comments that the author refuses to publish.
Despite this, at the end of the day – it comes down to one simple truth – we either allow these types of hate mongers and religious intolerant bigots to perpetuate their venomous lies, or we dismiss them and not feed into their taunting childish and immature ways. The reality is that we are not going to stop the proliferation of sock puppets, trolls, and those critics of our faith from publishing distorted lies about the Church, about our leaders, about the founding and early leaders of our faith, and even those of us who are vocal defenders of the faith. It is through understanding what they represent, and the false information they regurgitate helps many of us LDS Apologist provide the framework and structure to openly discuss what it is Mormons actually believe and respond too many of their criticism. This includes not allowing their rants and hate filled postings take away our testimony of the truth.
As Latter-day Saints utilize the technological advances to engage in conversation, there are going to be countless times one will face their critics, will feel the sting of their harsh words, and the condescending attitude and flat out persecution from anonymous posters. It is par for the course and knowing where we stand, the truth of our faith, it should not instill fear in us or prevent us from further sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who actually want to hear what we have to say. In the end, our critics (including the many apostates) have already made up their minds. They will eventually have to give an account for their words, their actions, and their hate-filled and contentious spirit. All we can do is pray for them and continue to press forward in the work of the Gospel by sharing what we know and understand to any and all who are willing to listen.