I had started a response post to the hit piece from the Washington Post regarding the “whistleblower” letting the cat out of the bag about the Church’s massive wealth. Not a big secret to anyone with eyes and the ability to do simple arithmetic. Anyway, the Deseret News did a fine job with their editorial released yesterday, so I’d rather focus on the social media response I observed from membership and the lessons we can learn going forward.
Monday night when the article was released online, the usual narrative began to build as rabid anti-Mormons and many progressive-leaning members of the Church called for everything from “transparency” to taking away religious liberties by taxing our tithes. I reported to Twitter a call to “burn it down” by a widely followed account, but of course, no action has been taken. Concern trolls were out in full force, people who ascribe to none of the Church’s ethics or morals calling for the Brethren to take a knee to their newly-found “integrity.”
A political organizer by the name of Matt Whitlock fired out a scathing rebuke of Washington Post‘s yellow journalism which was spread far and wide as an initial line of defense for faithful members. It appears that he may be a member, having worked for Orrin Hatch, but may simply have sympathies for the Church. The Church followed up with a press release on Tuesday morning.
I wondered what would happen; if this would be the same story replayed over again – members online in defensive mode, in apology mode, in reconciliatory mode. I noted some excellent defenses Monday night with regard to the law of Tithing: we should be paying it out of simple obedience and without strings attached.
The common thread I noticed coming from persons who claimed to be faithful members but “disappointed” in the Church and who had “honest questions” — they wanted to tell the Lord and His anointed how to use HIS funds. In reality, they hadn’t surrendered their tithe because they desire a say in how it is redistributed. I used the word redistributed because that was the other commonality I noticed: they want the Church to run as failed governments and other man-made institutions have, which I find curious. The Church is wildly successful while governments and individuals rack up debt and are subject to the will of outside forces. The same people who put their ideology ahead of their faith were those who suffered from disillusion.
In the end, just as we recognized we were dealing with a dishonest broker in the media and their “whistleblower,” we need to start seeing their allies who concern troll and openly fight against the church for what they are: enemies. They have openly stated their intentions and they deserve to be fought back against with extreme prejudice. They would destroy us given the chance and use our ethics and morality against us in the field of battle. These people have already taken their masks off and don’t deserve our respect in debate, but rather need to be fought with ridicule, scorn, and mockery.
Early Tuesday morning, I noticed JP Bellum using the hashtag #MakeIt1Trillion on Twitter. It was ingenious. It was exactly what #DezNat encompasses: a completely unashamed and unapologetic defense of our culture and faith. I sent a text message to JP asking him to make a meme for this post, preferably with Brigham Young sitting on a stack of cash. He laughed and replied Weekly Hoss had already made some with that exact idea in mind. The pushback had begun:
It didn’t take long for the narrative to shift:
My brother shot out this beauty:
I will stand with anyone who will defend our faith. #DezNat exists so that any faithful member can bear testimony online without fear of backlash from enemies of the Church. Such an environment hasn’t always existed for us, but because of a community of Saints that will speak up, we can all be stronger together.
The narrative has shifted. We won’t lay down and allow our faith to be trashed unfettered. We have nothing to be ashamed of, but rather we are heirs of a supreme culture that should be embraced by all. We are led by a prophet of God and His Church is in His hallowed hands. We know who wins in the end, but we will be called to fight and declare where we stand before the battle is over. The lesson here is the enemy hates our pushback and will shrink if we stand boldly. To do so, we must set aside our ideology and put our faith first. We must be spiritually converted, for if we are, there is no fiery dart we can not withstand. We will be able to recognize and discern our enemies from our friends. And we will emerge victorious.
- “Push Back Against the World” -Elder Dallin H. Oaks, February 25, 2017
- “What Is Truth?” -Elder Lynn A. Mickelsen, October 1990
- First Presidency Statement on Church Finances: December 17, 2019
You can follow Dustin on Twitter at @TheDMT1232.