On Saturday, March 31, 2012 a blogger by the name of Denver Snuffer claimed that the Mormon Church was using employees to post online responses using personas and anonymous identities with the intent to influence public opinion within church circles. Here are his comments below:
” The City Creek multi-billion dollar project has excited a lot of criticism. The result has been dismay by many faithful Latter-day Saints. Their anxiety over the project has become the subject of many conversations on the Internet.
To grapple with this outpouring of criticism and in some cases disgust, the church has paid employees and volunteers who post on-line responses using personas, or anonymous identities to beat back those who express concern. Many of the multiple personas are put up by the same church employee.”
Snuffer is a faithful member of the church and an attorney. He did not explain how he obtained this sensitive information however; it is difficult to believe that he just made it up.
[Editorial Note: Snuffer has since been excommunicated from the church for apostasy]
Although I found his accusations fascinating, that the LDS church was using paid shills to influence the thinking of members of the church, I didn’t really put much additional thought into it.
Recently however, I encountered a situation that has caused me to focus my attention on this issue.
In my last blog post I commented on the recent remarks of Elder Marlin K. Jensen at Utah State University and how the current “Google Apostasy” represents the greatest turbulence and crises of faith among Mormons since the Kirtland apostasy back in the 1830’s.
Jensen had acknowledged that many Mormons were experiencing a crisis of faith because Google and the internet was bringing to light some very perplexing and distressing doctrinal and historical issues pertaining to the LDS religion. Jensen then assured the audience he was speaking to, that the church was taking measures to deal with the situation.
In that post I mentioned that the church had hired an SEO expert to try and redirect people searching on the internet to neutral and positive websites instead of negative anti-Mormon websites. I speculated that they were probably doing some online reputation management work as well.
In my blog I also mentioned that I am working on a paper that will provide a biblical profile of the calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith that will explain why he did all of the bizarre, contradictory things that he did. I claimed that my paper would provide a legitimate biblical/prophetic answer for every single disturbing issue that skeptics of Mormonism like to bring up. ( I had hoped to release the paper by April 6th but now it is looking like it will be closer to May 20th)
Within a very short period of time I had several visitors make comments… three of the visitors that made comments are the topic of this post.
The first commenter I want to speak about had a screen name of “Ted“.
Ted took issue with one of the critical comments that I made where I claimed that the current general authorities of the Mormon Church were not very knowledgeable about church history or doctrine.
He felt that the talks from the brethren are inspiring and that they do contain scriptural references. He then appeared to be in somewhat of an agreement with me that difficult issues should be addressed more adequately by the Church on their websites. Here is one of his comments:
“I love Rough Stone Rolling, and would love more direct approaches to dealing with challenging issues on the Church websites“.
This passionate statement appeared to be agreeing in part with some of the things I had said on my post.
Nevertheless, the person who was presenting himself as a hard-hitting and passionate member of the church ( who loves controversial books on LDS church history) made the authoritarian observation that:
“..what these men [the general authorities] speak is scripture”
I will come back to Ted and his very calculated remarks in a minute but for now, let me just say that the IP address from which Ted’s comments came is 126.96.36.199
Within 5 minutes after Ted posted his remarks, a fellow by the screen name of Evan Valenatine made the following declaration:
“I am glad that the church is putting in an effort to counteract the effects of these websites, and I hope that they do more.”
I will also return to Evan in a minute but for now, please make note of the IP address that he was posting from:
I thought it was interesting that these two different people were coming from the same IP address.
Perhaps they live in the same home or apartments I thought to myself.
At this point my curiosity got the better of me so I did a reverse IP address search to see who owns that particular IP address.
Guess who owns it…
Well, we will get to that in a minute. The story gets better.
A few days later a person using the screen name of “Mark-e-Mark and the Funky Bunch” paid my blog post a visit quoting Heber C. Kimball and warning that the “very first step of apostasy commenced with losing confidence in the leaders of the church”
He then lovingly counseled me to “not rely so much on the logical“.
“faith is rarely logical” he assured me.
You will never guess what IP address he was posting from so I will simply tell you.
That’s right, he was posting from the same IP address as Ted and Evan.
Imagine that, Ted, Evan and Mark-E were all taking issue with me, sticking up for the modern corporate church and they were all posting from the same IP address, what a coincidence!
I had a doctrinal exchange with Mark-e-Mark, and told him why I felt he was putting his faith in the “arm of flesh“. He visited me again to make a rebuttal.
Following his rebuttal, he apparently began making comments on another controversial LDS blog using a different screen name. Then, he had another thought that he wanted to make on my post. In his rush to make the response on my blog, he forgot to change the screen name he had been using to make comments on a different controversial LDS related blog site.
The screen name he mistakenly used this time was “I love the Circus”
Naturally, that screen name also came from 188.8.131.52
He then acknowledged that he had made a mistake in using the circus screen name and changed back to Mark-E-Mark..
In the spirit of mocking me and my screen name, Mark-E-Mark decided to create a unique screen name of “onewhoiswaiting” which would apparently be dedicated to making comments on my blog. Apparently, in anticipation of cyberstalking my future posts he decided to go to the trouble of creating a screen name that would be dedicated to countering the information on my future blog posts.
As you have probably already guessed, all of these people and comments that I have been speaking about were coming from the same IP address and according to the reverse search service that I used, that IP address is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
After doing a little further research, I believe I have identified exactly who one of the people is. I have reason to believe he is a full time employee of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. He was hired away from Microsoft and works in the LDS Church “user research” division.
Perhaps the user research division is the same division that Denver Snuffer was referring to.
I even know which arm of the church he works for and the general physical location of the building that houses their “user research” specialists.
The block it is on appears to be located on or close to 21st South between 4th and 5th East in Salt Lake City Utah.
The map below shows an Arial view of the general location where their facility is located, according to the analytics provided by wordpress.
After realizing that Ted, Evan, Mark-E, and “I love the Circus” were all coming from the same IP address that is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints and that the people (or person) posting comments appeared to be employees of the Mormon Church, I wanted to give Mark-E Mark the opportunity to come clean and admit that he was a paid influencer working for the Mormon Church if in fact he was.
I made the following statement/question:
“I am going to invite you to publicly acknowledge whether or not you are on the payroll of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
I think readers of this blog have a right to know if you are an independent influencer acting solely on your own, or if you are a paid influencer who is attempting to do damage control and retain tithe payers for the LDS Church who are troubled about disconcerting things they are finding out about church doctrine and history.”
Here is his response:
“I am just a normal guy. My goal is not to influence anyone. I do act independently and if my statements are of influence, then so be it. That is for your readers to decide. I am not [a] paid influencer “attempting to do damage control and retain tithe payers for the LDS Church”. Truth stands on it’s own.”
There you have it… That was his response
It also occurred to me that perhaps these people were just rogue employees of the church who were making these posts from their employers IP (some during work hours, some late at might) without being directed to do so. So I emailed MarkE and the others and showed them this post before posting it, giving them the opportunity to respond and explain what their real motivation was and whether they were directed by their employer or not.
It has been over a week with no response.
I have been feeling pretty important and honored to realize that the user experience department of the LDS Church may be among my very small group of blog followers. Members of the church should be aware that this may be an activity the church is investing in.
Are the brethren concerned about the information I have been blogging about?
If so, they must deem something that I am saying to be disruptive enough to do this types of activity.
Is there something they don’t want you to know?
Things I have been blogging about
It is actually difficult to know for sure what concerns them the most because I have written over 300 posts and articles on a large array of issues during the last three years.
Perhaps they don’t want people to know the truth about the fact that the Marvelous Work is a future event that takes place in the third watch.
Perhaps they don’t want people to know the truth about Kirtland and the Jerusalem Isaiah spoke about.
Perhaps they don’t want people to know the truth about what really happened at the special conference at the Morley Farm and the fact that there are actually three levels of priesthood.
Perhaps they don’t want the truth revealed about the true role of prophets and how God does use prophets to teach false doctrine and lead the unfaithful and ignorant astray.
Perhaps they don’t want people to understand that salvation in the highest kingdom is only obtained through the spiritual rebirth and baptism of fire which they cannot administer.
Perhaps they don’t want people to understand that the stone that Daniel saw rolling forth in power has nothing to do with the current Mormon Church.
Perhaps they don’t want it understood that after the true Church of Christ was restored and then fell into apostasy, the name of the condemned church was changed to the Church of the Latter day Saints and then eventually to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints.
Perhaps they don’t want people to realize that the church that came forth out of the wilderness of darkness, according to modern revelation, went back into the wilderness of darkness within a few years after the restoration.
Perhaps they don’t want people to know how to identify the seven signs of the only true church and to realize that those signs are vacant in the current Mormon church.
Perhaps they don’t want people to understand what ancient prophecy actually says about the ministry of Joseph Smith and about the atonement statute.
Perhaps they don’t want people to know the real truth about the succession doctrine and what really happened during the succession crisis.
Perhaps they don’t want people to know about why Joseph and Oliver kept the visitation of Christ and three angels at the Kirtland Temple and the related events contained in section 110 a secret from the saints.
Perhaps they don’t want people to know who Sidney Rigdon really is and why we have not seen the last of him
Perhaps they don’t want people to know the truth about section 132 and the spiritual wife doctrine
There are legitimate biblical and historical answers to every disturbing issue that skeptics bring up
The powers that be apparently don’t want people who are experiencing a crisis in faith to see the shocking, yet comforting and faith promoting answers to all of the disturbing information out there about Joseph Smith and the LDS restoration movement. It appears they would prefer that people lose their faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ rather than to learn the truth about the modern corporate church.
My how the evolving leadership of the corporate church over the last 180 years has deviated from being focused on taking care of the poor and the cause of Zion, to building billion dollar shopping malls and encouraging shoppers to purchase $10,000 designer watches. It would appear as if they have become preoccupied with silencing the small voices like mine instead of listening to THE still small voice.
Naturally, I am curious to know who is over the “paid employees and volunteers who post on-line responses using personas, or anonymous identities to beat back those who express concern.” if in fact Denver is correct.
In my next post I am going to provide a link to a synopsis of what actually happened during the 14 year public ministry of the prophet Joseph Smith.
In that synopsis I will provide a credible biblical explanation of what took place during the LDS restoration movement. In it, I am going to bring to light the disruptive information that the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter days Saints desperately don’t want to the membership of the church to know.
It will contain a response to all of the difficult questions being asked by skeptics and unbelievers.
[Related article that has since come out by the NYT “Some Mormons Search the Web and Find Doubt“]
“A shill, plant, or stooge is a person who publicly helps a person or organization without disclosing that he has a close relationship with that person or organization. Shill typically refers to someone who purposely gives onlookers the impression that he is an enthusiastic independent customer of a seller (or marketer of ideas) for whom he is secretly working. The person or group who hires the shill is using crowd psychology, to encourage other onlookers or audience members to purchase the goods or services (or accept the ideas being marketed). Shills are often employed by professional marketing campaign….. Shilling is illegal in many circumstances and in many jurisdictions because of the frequently fraudulent and damaging[vague] character of the shill’s actions..”