One of my favorite bloggers, Ms. Jack, has a new guest post up at the LDS & Evangelical Conversations blog: Denial is a river in Utah. In it, she takes a good, hard look at the tendency of some Latter-day Saints, when confronted with things that are genuinely taught in modern-day Church manuals and that have a strong pedigree in the teachings of key historical leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to vehemently deny them in front of non-member audiences (sometimes out of genuine ignorance, sometimes perhaps for other reasons). I think she's done an excellent job tying in her personal experiences with this to some examples that are more visible in the public eye. I also enjoyed reading her thoughts on the recent example in the comments under a post at fMh, since I'd been involved in that thread as well and had been eagerly awaiting her response to Richard K (see also here). Anyway, one of the parts of Jack's post that I most appreciated were the concluding two paragraphs:
It's frustrating when us non-members who are just trying to piece Mormon theology together run into long-time Mormons who have honestly never heard of these things. However, it's even more frustrating to run into Mormons who know better, but for whatever reason, choose to mislead us.
I'm sometimes unsure of what exactly it is that I want from Mormons via interfaith dialogue anymore, but openness and honesty about the real differences between us is definitely on the list.
I can speak from my own personal experience that I've run into both of these categories of Latter-day Saints as well - some folks who honestly aren't familiar with certain teachings or facts, and some folks who are simply out to spin and obfuscate to their heart's content, regardless of ethical considerations.
All I can do is plead with Latter-day Saints - and folks from all other parties, of course - to be willing to state, clearly and without ambiguity, what it is that you believe, what it is that Church authorities and texts have stated, and how you navigate the admittedly tricky maze that is the LDS system of weighing authority, doctrine, etc. Let's be frankly open about these things and set aside the spin; and let's also commit ourselves to truly understanding what it really is that our publications do in fact teach.
Anyway, that brief rant aside, I highly recommend checking out Jack's post.