SANDY, Utah (AP) _ A group of Mormons plan to meet this week to defend their faith on issues ranging from the role of blacks in the church to historical inaccuracies in the Book of Mormon.
This is the sixth conference of the Foundation for Apologetic Information & Research, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing well-documented answers to criticisms of Mormon belief and practice. The FAIR conference is Thursday and Friday.
The group has no official connection to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but its members are all Mormons.
FAIR was launched in 1997 by a group of Mormons who responded to critics in online message boards. Now they have about 5,500 people who get their monthly online journal.
“There were about five or six of us regularly answering questions, talking to anti-Mormons,” recalls Scott Gordon, president of the group. “What we discovered was that one person was really good at one topic, another at a different one. None of us was good at all the issues. And we kept getting the same questions over and over.”
The conference has grown each year, going from about six people at the first conference to the 250 that attended last year’s meeting at Utah Valley State College in Orem.
The group has tried to position itself midway between existing Mormon groups. On one side is the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, which is housed at Brigham Young University and focuses on academic support of LDS claims about the ancient origins of the Book of Mormon.
On the other side is Sunstone, an independent organization that often allows critical looks at LDS issues.