Two hundred graduating students at Brigham Young University-Hawaii were urged today to use the Internet — including blogs and other forms of “new media” — to contribute to a national conversation about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elder M. Russell Ballard, an apostle in the Church, told the mostly Mormon student body that conversations about the Church would take place whether or not Church members decided to participate in them.
“We cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches,” he said.
“While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time.”
Church leaders have publicly expressed concern that while much of the recent extensive news reporting on the Church has been balanced and accurate, some has been trivial, distorted or without context.
Elder Ballard said there were too many conversations going on about the Church for Church representatives to respond to each individually, and that Church leaders “can’t answer every question, satisfy every inquiry and respond to every inaccuracy that exists.”
He said students should consider sharing their views on blogs, responding to online news reports and using the “new media” in other ways.
But he cautioned against arguing with others about their beliefs. “There is no need to become defensive or belligerent,” he said.