Criticism of Mormonism/Books/One Nation Under Gods/Use of sources/Perception and Reality

Perception and Reality


A FairMormon Analysis of: One Nation Under Gods
A work by author: Richard Abanes

Author's Claims


One Nation under Gods, page xx (hardback); page xiv (paperback)

The hardback edition, introducing a quote from Fred Esplin, refers to "an era when Mormonism existed as a 'radical, immoral, and un-American band of religious zealots with a charismatic leader—a nineteenth century People's Temple sect characterized by polygamy, theocracy and economic cooperation.'" (emphasis added)

The statement was corrected in the paperback version to read "an era when Mormonism 'was perceived as a radical, immoral, and un-American band of religious zealots with a charismatic leader—a nineteenth century People's Temple sect characterized by polygamy, theocracy and economic cooperation.'" by including an additional (and important) fragment of the source being quoted.

Author's Sources


Endnote 10, page 479 (hardback), page 477 (paperback)

Esplin, 33.


Question: Was 19th century Mormonism perceived as a group of "radical, immoral, and un-American band of religious zealots"?

Just because people may have viewed the early Church with a negative perception does not mean that the perception reflected reality

The author of the critical book One Nation under Gods provides a quote from Fred Esplin, and refers to "an era when Mormonism existed as a 'radical, immoral, and un-American band of religious zealots with a charismatic leader—a nineteenth century People's Temple sect characterized by polygamy, theocracy and economic cooperation.'" (emphasis added) The statement was corrected in the paperback version to read "an era when Mormonism 'was perceived as a radical, immoral, and un-American band of religious zealots with a charismatic leader—a nineteenth century People's Temple sect characterized by polygamy, theocracy and economic cooperation.'" by including an additional (and important) fragment of the source being quoted. [1]

The author's use of the quote in the hardback version of his book makes reference to "an era when Mormonism existed" in a certain way; a way he then quotes author Fred Esplin to support. When the paperback version came out a year later, this error was corrected. Unfortunately, the hardback version is still in wide circulation, and is available in public libraries.

The problem is that while Esplin wrote the words that the author quotes in the hardback version, he doesn't say what the author says with those words. Take a look at the original quote, from "The Saints Go Marching On: Learning to Live With Success," Utah Holiday (June 1981), 33:

Public opinion of Mormons has turned full circle. The early church was perceived as a radical, immoral, and un-American band of religious zealots with a charismatic leader--a nineteenth century People's Temple sect characterized by polygamy, theocracy and economic cooperation.

Do you see the difference between the way Esplin wrote his words and the way they were used by the author in the hardback edition? The author has criticized the editor of the hardback edition for making mistakes—was this one of them? Esplin speaks of a perception, whereas the author assures his reader of a reality.

Just because people may have viewed the early Church with a negative perception does not mean that the perception reflected reality. Esplin recognizes this possible "disconnect" between perception and reality with his carefully selected words. The author, on the other hand, fails to recognize the disconnect implicit in Esplin's original words, choosing to do away with the perception and presenting an image of reality.


Notes

  1. Richard Abanes,One Nation under Gods, page xx (hardback); page xiv (paperback)