Yellow Journalism is a term used to define the type of journalism that relies on sensationalism and lurid exaggeration to attract readers. The Online Etymology dictionary provides additional information as to what yellow journalism refers to:
“Sensational chauvinism in the media,” 1898, Amer. Eng. From newspaper agitation for war with Spain; originally “publicity stunt use of colored ink” (1895) in ref. to the popular “Yellow Kid” character (his clothes were yellow) in Richard Outcault’s comic strip “Shantytown” in the “New York World”.
In other words, yellow journalism is sensationalistic lurid exaggeration from a biased and devoted group that possesses a zealous and aggressive blind enthusiasm for their cause. This may include those who are fanatical patriots of their particular cause wherein they exhibit certain militant aggression toward their opponents. We call these types of individuals’ extremists, fanatics, fundamentalists, zealots, and in some instances terrorists.
Unfortunately, wherever there is a form of written communication, yellow journalism will have prevalence. We find this in the political arena, social arena, and more specifically within the religious community of faith believing individuals. Even more specific, yellow journalism can be found within a narrowly defined group of individuals who have taken up the cause to speak out against those things they claim have no adherence or place within traditional Christian thinking, belief, or possessing a Christian Orthodox view. Such individuals define themselves within an exclusivity of what they have deemed being God’s truth and Scripture.
Since the rise of Mormonism from a 19th century context of the Second Great Awakening, there has been a plethora of Anti-Mormon sentiment against the doctrines, history and leaders of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Each criticism (then and now) has received adequate review, undergone scrutiny and critical analysis, and conclusive reasoning’s have been drawn to show forth the criticism possesses false assumptions, misrepresentations, and inadequate rendering of “Facts” and “Truths”. This, despite what many of our critics have consistently promised their readers, presents a dilemma for our critics. If they truly are shown to be false then the critics have borne false witness against the Church and its teachings. If our critics truly are shown to be in error, they ought to make adequate corrections and apologies for such.
Yet, much of these misrepresentations that are published in various forms, are done so as lurid exaggerations from patriotic biased groups who are aggressive zealots that are blinded by their biased cause. In short, they are Anti-Mormon and Apostates who may have: (1) never been a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; or, (2) been a member of the Church and subsequently left because of various reasons. Many a time, the critics of our faith refuse to correct the errors and misrepresentations, because they would no longer have a basis for their ministerial campaign against the Church. In essence, they would have to admit that the Church is correct and such confession would shatter their pretentious worldview.
While it is true that those who have left the Church refer to themselves as Ex-Mormon, there is a quintessential difference between an Apostate and an Ex-Mormon. From my own personal experience (as having left the Church and involved myself within the same Anti-Mormon Rhetoric and patriotic passion against the Church) and observation – a true Apostate is that particular individual who goes out of their way and begins to align themselves with the many counter-cult ministry groups already in existence. Such groups are established for the sole purpose to discredit the Church.
How do they discredit the Church, the faithful and the teachings? These groups tend to write lurid exaggerated sensationalistic claims against the doctrines and teachings of the Church, and receive some form of monetary compensation (they would love to tell people that much of the compensation they received is for the sole purpose of financing their ministry – however, books that are published receive royalty payments from major Christian book publishers that go specifically to the author or collaboration of authors. For instance if a Christian book publisher offers the standard 8.5% royalty on the sale of an author’s book attacking the Mormon faith, and the royalty is on net profits, and the price of the book – hardcover edition – is about $23.99, the author(s) are compensated $2.04 per book. Royalty payments are sent out quarterly and so if in the first quarter, such a book sold 500 copies, and the royalty check to the author is approximately $1,019.16. Keep in mind, there are four quarter periods in a year and the fluctuation of the sales of said book would garner a royalty check = four checks per year) in their proliferation of sensationalistic lurid exaggerations.
Not all ministries operate under such conditions, many of the modern counter-cult ministries have begun as a social media network page, or a blog where such individuals begin to develop their own form of ministering and witnessing to the Mormons. Some become integrated into other well-known and well-financed counter-cult ministry groups. Others operate on a more autonomous level of existence with little to no financing and mainly keep with publishing information through mediums as discussion forums, online support/discussion groups, and social media network pages and groups.
Regardless of how the various counter-cult ministry groups operate, the premise is the tactical utilization of yellow journalism in their attempt to garner followers and readers, exploiting vulnerable individuals who maybe looking for information about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and happen along one of the many deceptive pages (via the Internet) or deceptive Facebook Pages that attempt to mirror Official Church pages.
Their mantra of “we have a heart and love for those within the Mormon Faith” is shallow when one analyzes and critically examines their arguments and see what they truly are – lurid exaggerations based on sensationalistic claims. Much of these come from individuals who are patriotic to their cause in attacking the Church – even through blind ignorance of relevant facts and truths. In short, counter-cult ministry groups employ yellow journalism in order to reach and dissuade investigators from actually learning of the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, publish exaggerated and sensationalistic claims of what past leaders may have said and taught, as well as promoting their own militant and aggressive patriotic cause in denouncing the relevant facts.
In addition, many of these same individuals cry foul when they make comments that derail topics of discussion, harangue past and present leaders of the Church, attack individuals through bullying tactics, and then remove all objective sound and reasonable responses against their exaggerated sensationalistic claims. They pride themselves on the fact that because people want to shut down their page or destroy their freedom of speech and press that they must be doing something right. Yet, when they are asked about why they employ a more grander scale of attacks on individuals right to defend against false statements and misrepresentations of beliefs, they respond with well, they violated our rules. At which point, the question is asked – what rules were violated if the response given shows where it is in error and needs correction? Nothing in response as they happily go on their way to continue with their form of yellow journalism.
It is unfortunate that such individuals, with such passion and devotion to their Anti-Mormon cause, would expose themselves as being hypocrites and heap unto themselves teachers that would satisfy their itching ears (2 Timothy 4:3). Moreover, such sentiment against the Church that is presented by these individuals has already received more attention than ought to have been given. Yet, the more they proliferate their lurid exaggeration the more the response must be given to show forth how, why, where, and in what context their criticism errors. This leaves the obvious question unanswered – if they were this zealous, patriotic and passionate about the Truth, why then would they have to rely on lies and deceptions? It is a question Latter-day Saint Apologists have no answer too.
Often times, many Latter-day Saint apologists are caught up in the circular argumentation of the same criticism – either from the same individual or a collection of individuals. Often times, the character and integrity of particular Latter-day Saint apologists are dragged through the mud with mockery and ridicule. Often times, many of our critics become despondent and shameful in their rhetoric that they have to rely on attacking individuals with third grade mentality and schoolyard bullying antics where it becomes quite difficult to reason with them on any level of intellectual discussions.
However, there is hope for those who truly want to know more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There is hope that much of what is published about the Church today by modern day yellow journalism becomes the catalyst of someone actually seeking out the truth;and not the embellished and intentionally misrepresented statements of those participants within the counter-cult ministry group. There is hope for those who have left the Church to come back into the fellowship of those who are willing to help them, encourage them, and work with them in understanding and knowing that the ultimate reality of facts is not about doctrine – it is about living our lives that exemplify the teachings of the Savior.
Without the proliferation of religious yellow journalism from our critics, people would not be investigating the Church. People would not be asking questions. Individuals would not be openly discussing what Latter-day Saint Christians truly believe. It is because of our critics and the criticism launched against the Church that has proven consistent in bringing people into the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because those who actually take hold of the misrepresented statements from these individuals, and then present their questions and findings to an actual member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are then received in having not only their questions answered; but the individual walks away with more insight in what Latter-day Saint Christians actually believe than what many lay hold to claiming what they interpret what we believe.
Despite the obfuscation of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, members and those investigating the Church can take this opportunity to share the real Gospel of Jesus Christ in a manner that is spiritually uplifting, inspiring, and thought provoking. There will always be some form of yellow journalism when it comes to the Church and what we stand for. There will always be critics that are seeking opportunistic means to bring out vulnerable souls and exploit them with subtle lies and empty promises. Many of them that have come out, because of the lies others have taught them, will defend their false pretentious positions to the point of becoming militantly aggressive and contentious in their rhetoric.
In a sense, we are in a spiritual battle over the souls, hearts and minds of men as the days grow darker and the enemy is gathering those that he can to help destroy the Kingdom of God and all that the Gospel of Christ stands for. Through strengthening of our testimony, becoming stalwart and steadfast in our own convictions, and holding ever more to the Iron Rod, we must press forward with even more vigor and choose for ourselves and our families how we are going to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are in the days and times where it is more prudent, more important to allow our light to shine forth in order to draw those lost in the mist of darkness and temptations of the world and become a beacon unto them in order to draw them unto Christ so that they too can partake of the precious fruit of the tree of Life.
 yellow journalism. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved January 19, 2012, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/yellow journalism
- Mormonism and the Christianity Police (mormonapologeticstudies.org)