Hat tip to The Loathsome Joy for putting up this video and starting this train of thought.
“Lying for the Lord” is a Mormon interpretation of a survival technique used by all religions with utilitarian and totalitarian leanings. It’s no surprise that this concept is part of Catholicism and Islam, the world’s two biggest faith systems, and even less of a surprise that Mormonism, a faith system founded with the goal of taking over the world, would follow along. If becoming the dominant religion and culture on Earth is your goal, then protecting the organisation must be prioritised above truth or doctrine, as outlined by influential BYU Professor Robert Millet:
Islam has a doctrine called Taqiyya, which is the same thing that Robert Millet describes in the video above when he instructs the missionaries to refuse to answer inconvenient questions and only answer the questions a person “should have asked.” If a Muslim finds himself or herself in a position where answering direct questions about their faith would be harmful to the individual or Islam, they are permitted to lie, mislead their questioner, or redirect the conversation around the topic. This is permitted in extreme circumstances, such as a Muslim being forced to renounce their faith, or in settings that are PR-related, such as being questioned about portions of the Koran that advocate violence against non-Muslims. It’s a blanket clause that allows any Muslim to lie, directly or by omission, specifically to protect the greater good of Islam and individual Muslims.
The Catholic Church has had the doctrine of Mental Reservation since the middle ages, which is described as “lying without lying.” It’s not Canon Law, but nobody ever gets punished for doing it and it’s never been officially denounced. This doctrine was the official policy of bishops in Ireland and California who protected paedophile priests through lies of omission. In the California case, a priest explained that those who use Mental Reservation “claim that it is morally justifiable to lie in order to protect the reputation of the institutional church.”
Millet’s Lying for the Lord is, along with Mental Reservation and Taqiyya, a subspecies of Doublethink. People who engage in Doublethink can be frustratingly slippery in a debate. Cherry-picking, straw men, red herrings, avoidance and outright denial are critical weapons in their arsenal to convince you that nobody is lying, and anyway there is nothing to lie about in the first place. To get out of answering a difficult question, you can’t just say “no”. You’ve got to slip around it and muddle the issue until nobody can remember what they were asking about in the first place.
Mormons who consider themselves “True Blue” or “Defenders of the Faith” are accomplished at Doublethink. The overwhelming majority of the information at the FAIR website exhibits this behaviour. Complicated issues are misrepresented, denied, worked around, and lied about in textbook examples of Doublethink. A faithful Mormon who read FAIR’s work and found it confusing and contradictory would be experiencing Cognitive Dissonance, which is what happens when Doublethink fails and your brain starts working. Their entry on Lying for the Lord reads like satire, but because they are serious, it’s just ironic.
Dishonesty will always happen when the success of the organisation is the top priority for its members. If a person’s main loyalty is the organisation then anything that furthers the cause of the organisation, even violating the ethical principles the organisation teaches, is permissible. The Church becomes a false idol. Lying for the Lord happens in the LDS Church. The FLDS do it too, as the doctrine is part of the shared heritage of the two churches. There are many Mormons, Muslims and Catholics who may think they aren’t Lying for the Lord. However, failure to condemn those who engage in this practise are giving consent through silence. That in itself seems to be another type of lying.
There are ways to put your best foot forward. There are ways to address topics in the right order so that they are placed in the appropriate historical and doctrinal context. But if it’s clear someone understands the context of a question and they want a straight answer, then they deserve a straight answer.
But I suppose I can’t really expect the experienced practitioner of Doublethink to do that, now can I?