Defending The Faith - LDS Polemics Conference

Third Annual Conference
held in historic Salt Lake City, Utah
October 17 & 18, 1997

Saturday Morning (Oct 18)
1st Paper
written & presented by Stan Barker
edited by Malin L. Jacobs


The acronym SHIELDS stands for Scholarly & Historical Information Exchange for Latter-Day Saints.

SHIELDS was created to defend the faith and answer criticisms of the LDS Church.  Currently SHIELDS is an Internet web site created by Stan Barker (me), Gene Humbert, and Malin Jacobs.  The Internet address is noted on the handout.  The site contains articles by Malin and Stan as well as articles by other contributors, including John Tvedtnes from FARMS.  We are also reviewing a number of manuscripts for possible inclusion on the site.

Each of the three SHIELDS principals have strong testimonies and are active in the LDS Church.  We each feel compelled by the Holy Spirit to demonstrate that arguments of critics of the Church are flawed and have little social redeeming value, with the possible exception of prompting church members to get to know their religion better.  Of course there are better ways for them to do that than reading anti-Mormon material.

Since it is our testimony that the LDS Church is the true church of Jesus Christ, we stand for defending his church and correcting, to the best of our ability, the lies and errors told about the church by it's critics.  To quote President John Taylor's favorite adage, we believe that "truth shall prevail."

The idea for SHIELDS originated with Doug Marshall and Doug Yancey, two members from Georgia.  Their purpose in setting up SHIELDS was to organize efforts of LDS people interested in refuting criticisms of the LDS Church.  Each of them had enough personal things going on in their lives that, while they were able to produce some literature, no serious effort was made to create a formal organization.

I first encountered Doug Marshall on the old MORMON FIDOnet BBS echo, where we became friends.  Later Doug Marshall introduced me to Doug Yancey and we also became fast friends.  I also wanted to see more organized efforts made to respond to criticisms of the Church.  In time I felt that, in addition to the invaluable work of FARMS, there was room for more primarily apologetics organizations and that such efforts needed to be stepped up.

At first I wanted to create a formal organization with membership, so I contacted Malin Jacobs and Gene Humbert, both close friends and former moderators of the MORMON Echo, and asked for their help.  They agreed.  We contacted the "Dougs" from Georgia who graciously allowed us to appropriate the SHIELDS acronym.  Later we realized that a formal organization would be impossible to administer unless we had funding to tackle it as a full time job.  Our own resources were inadequate for this task, and as no sugar daddy stepped forward to provide funding, we decided to set up an Internet web site and place material there.  We felt that it was more important to make material available than to spin our wheels trying to publish in the traditional manner.  Since a web site was a significant change from the original intent of the SHIELDS name usage, we asked for and received approval from the Dougs.

Because the name of the association included the phrase "information exchange," It seemed appropriate that we allow other authors to submit materials for possible publication on the SHIELDS web site.  Indeed we feel it is important to encourage submissions, however the authors must understand that, as we are doing this in our spare time, it may take some time to review their submissions.  We have received a number of manuscripts, many of which we think are appropriate for inclusion on the web site.  We are reading and preparing them for publication as quickly as possible.  Because each of us is supporting his family, SHIELDS must be operated on an "as we have time" basis.

Currently the SHIELDS web site main area is Topics.  Subheadings under Topics include:

1.  Answers to the 42 questions in Appendix B of Walter Martin's, The Maze of Mormonism.  This appendix was originally prepared by Bob Witte and is titled, Unanswered Questions on the Mormon Gospel.  As of today four answers have been placed on the site, but others are in various stages of preparation..

2.  Critics Corner.  Several anti-Mormon organizations and individuals have been honored by inclusion of issues and criticisms relative to them.  For example, for Jerald and Sandra Tanner we not only have links to relevant articles on the FARMS web site, but also a letter by Lou "The Mean" Midgley to Sandra concerning him and another fellow being thrown out of the Tanner's bookstore.  Another example is Dick Baer, co-producer of The Godmakers film.  On the web site we have placed the letter of explanation that Dick sent out to everyone when he left the church.  We have also included John Tvedtnes' response to the issues raised in this letter.

3.  We have material on the Standard Works, including a little known but important series of articles written by B.H. Roberts, which were published in the AMERICAN HISTORICAL MAGAZINE (which was renamed AMERICANA).  These articles refute anti-Mormon attorney and author Theodore Schroeder's version of the Spaulding Manuscript theory of the coming forth of The Book of Mormon.  In addition, they were incorporated into volume 2 of Roberts' Defense of the Faith and the Saints, and form the basis for his six-volume Comprehensive History of the Church..

4.  An LDS Fundamentalists Corner in which we have started dealing with issues raised by them.

5.  A General section which includes an excellently written article by Malin Jacobs on Joseph Smith's alleged 56 year second-coming prophecy.  A revised version of this article which adds material provided by Elden Watson will be available soon.

Among other areas, we have a section linked from our main page to Book/Article/Film Reviews, News & Events, a Humor section, and links to other Internet web sites.  Our humor section deals primarily with LDS dissidents.

Our future plans include:

1.  At next years' Defending the Faith conference we plan to announce two new awards.  They are:

Award candidate submission procedures will be made available on SHIELDS/Defending the Faith - LDS Polemics Conference web site.

2.  Completion of the 42 Questions over the next year or so.

3.  An area for responses to critics who leave messages on our guestbook, but are "too chicken" to leave a return e-mail address.

SHIELDS and Mike Trapp wish to announce that an agreement has been reached to co-sponsor this polemics conference annually.  We hope to bring the conference to the attention of more people, partially by adding a section to the SHIELDS web site that is specific to the conference.  In addition, we will help in organizing the conference.  Papers from previous conferences will eventually be made available on the web site as well as information relevant to the conferences.  The address for the new section is also included in the handout.  (

1997 Conference