Dr. Joseph Goebbels was the Propaganda Minister for Hitler’s Third Reich. An evil genius, he is still recognized today as the master of propaganda largely because his principles on the subject were tested, perfected, and practiced on millions of Germans during the Second World War.
His work as a propagandist in large measure facilitated Hitler’s rise to power in 1933. From then until his death, one day after Hitler’s, Goebbels used all media and communication as well as every level of education to further Nazi propagandistic aims. He was successful in instilling in the German people the belief that their leader is a veritable god and that the destiny of the German people is to the rule the world.
The following are the five essential principles that Goebbels’ formulated.
Goebbels’ Principles of Propaganda
1. Avoid abstract ideas – appeal to the emotions.
2. Constantly repeat just a few ideas. ‘The Big Lie.’
3. Give only one side of the argument.
4. Continuously criticize your opponents.
5. Pick out one special “enemy” for special vilification.
Let’s examine each of the above relative to my writing as well as the Mormon Church’s raison d’etre:
1. Avoid Abstract Ideas – Appeal to the Emotions.
I would suggest that contrary to FairMormon’s mindless accusation, I have confronted what are often conjectural Mormon claims with specific and concrete facts. I provided the opinions of both Mormon and Non-Mormon archaeologists. I provided specific examples of Biblical archaeological finds. I provided detailed references. To be entirely fair-minded I even discussed the questionable evidence of the ‘Nahom’ stone or alter. I did not make an emotional appeal to the reader.
Let’s examine the Mormon Church’s use of this principle of propaganda.
The Mormon theology is anything but abstract. Its essence can be summed up in a few sentences:
- Jesus Christ is the Savior of this world and the Son of God, both of whom were once men.
- Christ’s Atonement allows mankind to be saved from their sins and return to live with God and their families forever after they do all they can do to earn their reward.
- The Mormon Church is a restoration of Christ’s original Church as described in the New Testament.
- Certain ordinances performed in the temple are also essential to salvation.
There is no Nicene or Apostle’s Creed, there is no Catechism, no complex and detailed Westminster Confession of Faith.
But emotion is at the core of Mormonism. Every convert is given Moroni’s promise, read the book and look for that feeling, that burning in the bosom to confirm that it is not false.
Investigators and new members are routinely the object of “Love Bombing.” This term, if you are not familiar with it, is where a group consciously and purposely applies friendliness, acceptance and ego-stroking to win people over to their organization or philosophy. It fits well ‘with every member a missionary’ but lacks sincerity and merely provides members with another box to check off on their road to Godhood, like doing your home teaching.
Thomas Monson, not realizing the inanity of what he was saying, liked to tell a story about how when visiting a Latin American ward, he noticed that some members were wearing a white carnation. He asked the Bishop what was the meaning and was told that, “We give our investigators and new members, a white carnation so the members will know that these are they that we must fellowship (until the next general conference).”
I wonder how they were treated after general conference when the members were no longer under any compulsion to give them the time of day?
Joseph Smith and his successors realized that we are emotional beings more than we are rational beings.
‘Fast and testimony’ meetings are all about giving a free reign to emotion. The carefully crafted touching general conference talks read in somber tones from the teleprompters in an exquisitely controlled subdued environment push all the right emotive buttons.
“Epistemology,” is the way we come to know and understand things. The Bible encourages the believer to use reason along with faith. For instance, Isaiah 1:18 tell us that the Lord invites us to “reason together” with Him. Mormons see reason as almost detriment to true faith. Converts who have doubts are often told that they are having difficulty in accepting Mormonism because they are using “man’s reasoning.”
In the face of compelling evidence assailing the Church’s claims, whether it is the absence of any archaeological evidence supporting the Book of Mormon; DNA evidence showing the true origin of the aboriginal peoples of the Americas; or Joseph Smith’s immoral, dishonest and criminal behavior; Mormons will eventually retreat to their “feelings” to demonstrate that the Church is true.
Anyone who has ever attended a Mormon ‘fast and testimony’ meeting will hear almost every testifier say ‘I know the Church is true, I know Joseph Smith was a prophet of God.’
Little children before they know their alphabet will have their mothers whisper those words in their ears as they stand on their little ‘tip-toes’ to reach the microphone.
It’s the big lie just as Goebbels preached it. Hitler himself said in Mein Kampf that through its constant repetition, eventually, the masses will come to believe that no one “could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.”
With the big lie there is always a certain degree of believability; and because the masses are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than intellectually or logically; in the nascent simplicity of their minds they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie, as they often tell small lies in small matters themselves.
We also have the likes of Dallin Oaks saying things like, “We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it.”
What better example of Goebbels gospel could one find.
2. Give Only One Side of the Argument
“Well, we have nothing to hide. Our history is an open book. They may find what they are looking for, but the fact is the history of the church is clear and open and leads to faith and strength and virtues.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
Gordon’s avowal, however, does not comport with the Mormon reality and it never has. From the days of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young dissenters or even those questioning the dominant narrative of the Church or who present ‘the other side of the story’ have been summarily excommunicated and in Young’s kingdom far worse. Thousands have lost their membership from William Law to Kate Kelly, some well-known most not, for voicing an alternative view.
Certainly, some of the Chuch’s defensiveness is understandable, in the 19th-century church members, were driven from state to state, for many reasons, but they were clearly often victims of religious discrimination and hatred.
That being said, the Church has always carefully controlled what information is available to their own members let alone the outside world.
It is ironic that Hinckley, in particular, would mouth such a statement. He personally wrote checks to Mark Hofmann to acquire and secret away documents that he believed were genuine and embarrassing to the Church.
Joseph Fielding Smith tore out the 1832 contradictory first rendition account of Joseph Smith’s ‘first vision’ its original letterbook and hide it in his safe for decades.
I grew up in the Church, I taught the gospel doctrine class, I served in various callings as a high priest, yet in all that time I never knew or discovered from any Church source that Joseph Smith had conservatively 33 wives, some as young as 14 and many concurrently married to other men. I had never heard that Joseph was a money-digger and tried for being a con man who went on to use a magic stone he found in a well to translate the Book of Mormon.
So regardless of what the Church says today, these things were effectively hidden from the members.
Everything that appears in church publications is carefully correlated to ensure that one consistent and sanitized version of history is presented.
The school texts approved for Utah schools present a one-sided and highly sanitized version of Mormon history in general and Utah history in particular. The Mountain Meadows massacre, one of the greatest atrocities in American history is barely mentioned.
In similitude to the academic world of Nazi Germany, professors at BYU and other Church institutions, as part of their employment contract, must agree not to teach or discuss anything in opposition to the official teachings and policies of the LDS Church. Any violation can and often has led to termination of their employment.
I would contend that the Church has always and still continues to adhere to Goebbels third principle of propaganda – giving only one side of the argument.
3. Continuously Criticize Your Opponents
While the target keeps moving there has always been a Mormon opponent deserving of deep criticism. In Joseph and Brigham day, it was the Gentiles (All viewed as members of the church of the devil), and, of course, the government.
Since the days of the ERA to the present the women’s rights movement has been on the receiving end of criticism and of course, recently the LGBTQ community has become the Church’s whipping boy.
4. Pick out One Special “Enemy” for Special Vilification
For Hitler it was the Jews, for the first 148 years of the LDS Church, it was Blacks.
The racist statements of the Mormon Prophets and Apostles from Brigham Young’s time until the Church’s politically driven about-face in 1978 have been singularly cruel and hateful.
“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”
Brigham Young, ‘prophet, seer, and revelator’ shared his view of our African American brothers and sisters:
“You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits, wild, and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind. The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race — that they should be the “servant of servants;” and they will be, until that curse is removed.”
Brigham Young, President and second ‘Prophet’
of the Mormon Church, 1844-1877
Quotation from Journal of Discourses
“Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so.”
Brigham Young, President and second ‘Prophet’
of the Mormon Church, 1863,
Journal of Discourses, Vol. 10, p. 110.
“Not only was Cain called to suffer, but because of his wickedness, he became the father of an inferior race. A curse was placed upon him and that curse has been continued through his lineage and must do so while time endures…. they have been made to feel their inferiority and have been separated from the rest of mankind from the beginning.”
Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith,
The Way to Perfection, p. 101, 1935
During the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Mormon apostles and other leaders continued to preach racist and discriminatory Mormon doctrines affecting persons of color.
Bruce R. McConkie taught that, “Negroes are not equal with other races” in spiritual matters and that this is God’s law, not man’s. Mark E. Petersen proclaimed that “people are born black because of their inadequate performance in the pre-existence. “
McConkie didn’t make his hurtful racist statement back in the 1830s, but at a time when men and women of good will in this country were marching with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. seeking equal human rights for ALL of God’s children. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, even human secularist leaders spoke up, but not Mormons.
Incidentally, when McConkie heard of the ‘revelation’ ending the ban, he wrote, “Forget everything that I have said.”
Bruce R. McConkie, “The New Revelation,” Priesthood, p. 132
I would recommend forgetting anything this guy said about anything!
And sadly, it was not just LDS leaders whose silence was deafening but also the Mormon rank and file, yet we know that it is the connection between religion, civil rights, and social justice found within “local people of faith” who do most of the actual work of the civil rights movement.
I regret the several derogatory terms of racial bigotry and hatred expressed in the following direct quotes by the ‘Prophets’ and ‘Apostles’ of the Mormon Church, but I think it is important to show the level of intense racism, hatred, and the abhorrent demeanor of, the leadership of this relatively young Church.
Former Mormon Bishop, Lee B. Baker has assembled, derogatory terms describing African Americans used by the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in official publications, scriptures, doctrine, and training for decades:
“Nigger” (89 times), “Darky” (15 times), “Sambo” (25 times) and “Skin of Blackness” (110 times).
Mormonism, A Life Under False Pretenses, Lee B. Baker
These are the men who purport to commune with Jehovah.
Today homosexuals have replaced Blacks as enemy number one.
It is interesting to me that in 1977 roughly the same time as the Church relinquished its ban on Blacks in the priesthood, the Church began a stealthful campaign against all LGBTQ Americans. That was the year when Utah became the second state in the country to ban gay marriage. The Church did not stop there they continued to lead anti-LGBTQ campaigns in at least 27 states over the next four decades.
It seems as well that the Mormon Church would rather let hate crimes go unprosecuted than let gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender people get extra protection under the law.
The Church came out against a hate-crime bill, authored by a Mormon Republican, no less. The bill, SB-107, would have defined a hate crime in Utah as a criminal offense committed because of an individual’s “ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation.”
But the Church argued that the bill would upset the “balance” Church leaders had called for. With the considerable pressure, the Church brought to bear, Utah rejected bill SB-107 and passed limited hate-crime legislation removing all protected classes.
Many Mormons, as well as non-Mormons, view the recent harsh administrative policies devastating the lives of many LGBTQ members sadly with many tragic results as un-Christlike.
This new policy calls for mandatory Church discipline for LGBTQ individuals married to those of the same gender. It also bars the children of LGBTQ parents from baptism and other saving ordinances until they are 18 years of age, and then, in a rule that would have fit well within the ‘Nuremburg Laws’ of Nazi Germany – only if they openly disavow their parents’ relationship.
If the Church chooses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community, they have every ‘legal’ right at present to do so. But I have a problem with the children of gay or lesbian parents also being barred from membership in the Church in the face of our Lord’s admonition to, “suffer the children to come unto me and forbid them not.”
Wendy Montgomery, a co-founder of the Mama Dragons, a group of Mormon mothers with gay children, reported that she had been told 32 young LGBTQ Mormons have recently died by their own hand.
While the families who have suffered these great losses requested privacy, given the tragedy of suicide and the alarm this report has raised in the LDS LGBTQ community, the Deseret News asked experts for insight and solutions. These experts explained that it’s all about support. Parents, friends and religious congregations could help prevent suicides by thinking carefully about what they say and do and by welcoming, accepting and supporting LGBTQ people.
The Utah Attorney General has commented that statistics show that “… Suicide is the number one cause of death of Utah children ages 10-17.”
This comes as no surprise when more LGBTQ youth find themselves disenfranchised even disowned by zealous religious parents, who now feel more compelled than ever to choose between their child and their church.
Many active Church members, gay and straight, young and old, see this uncharitable, unkind and unloving move for what it is: another unabashed rejection of LGBTQ members.
And the cost in human terms is great. The evidentiary research was done by the Family Acceptance Project which tells us that children who experience high levels of rejection are:
- More than eight times as likely to attempt suicide
- Nearly six times as likely to report high levels of depression
- More than three times as likely to use illegal drugs
- More than three times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and STIs
Hateful rhetoric has profound costs. Political science professor Benjamin Knoll discusses the link between Mormonism and teen suicide in his paper, “Youth Suicide Rates and Mormon Religious Context: An Additional Empirical Analysis,”
Knoll reports that youth in the 15-19 age group who live in states with heavy Mormon populations are at higher risk for suicide. As Knoll put it, “These are objectively small numbers, but it means that (again, controlling for other factors) youth suicides are twice as high in states with the highest levels of Mormon residents compared to states with the lowest levels of Mormon residents.”
This study shows definitively that youth who live in areas with higher Mormon populations are at a greater risk for suicide.
Boyd K. Packer, who called himself an Apostle of Jesus Christ proudly repeated the story of his conversation with a young missionary in the field:
“While I was in a mission on one occasion, a missionary said he had something to confess. I was very worried because he just could not get himself to tell me what he had done.
“After patient encouragement, he blurted out, ‘I hit my companion.’
“ ‘Oh, is that all,’ I said in great relief.
“ ‘But I floored him,” he said.
“After learning a little more [his companion was gay], my response was
‘Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t have been well for [me] a General Authority to solve the problem that way.’
What a Christ-like solution, I am sure that that young gay man’s parents would appreciate how their son was treated while trying to do his best for the Church.
Next Page, Joseph Smith’s numerous false prophecies,