An overarching theme and focus of the works published by FARMS was that of faithful believers in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. As such, many articles addressed accusations by anti-Mormons and showed how either the claim was just plain false, or that there was plenty of room for a more reasonable approach that didn’t undermine the truthfulness of the Church. Information published by FARMS saved the testimonies of many, many people over the years. A common idea in the church seems to be to “just avoid that stuff.” Faithful FARMS scholars often tackled Anti-Mormon attacks head-on, both quieting the critics and successfully defending our Church’s doctrine, scripture, and history. Of course critics of the Church grew to hate FARMS, even as many members grew to love and appreciate it, because it’s research strengthened their understanding of the doctrine, and helped save their testimony, or the faith of people they loved, by presenting a faith-based perspective on the attacks and supposed expose’s.
As time went on, and for reasons we don’t totally understand, President Hinckley thought it would good to bring FARMS into BYU as a part of the University, rather than have it continue to operate independently outside. He invited FARMS to become a part of the University in, but promised it would continue it’s mission:
[FARMS] began modestly many years ago and represents the efforts of sincere and dedicated scholars. It has grown to provide strong support and defense of the Church on a professional basis. This has had important salutary effects both in addressing the Church’s critics and in bolstering members who might be wavering. Today FARMS has risen to a high stature and has won credibility and recognition for its work both inside and outside the LDS community. I wish to express my strong congratulations and appreciation for those who started this effort and who have shepherded it to this point. I see a bright future for this effort now through the University.
Neal A. Maxwell was also a big supporter of FARMS and suggested that bringing them into the University was a move to ensure that anti-Mormons would no longer benefit from any “uncontested slam-dunks.”
As time went on, FARMS was merged with several other organizations at BYU that had related missions. Eventually the new conglomeration was renamed The Maxwell Institute for Religious Studies. Sometime prior to that there began a slow but steady decline in the amount of publications of the type that had originally been done by FARMS. In other words, it seems now that those with the power to do so, were slowly trying to weed out everything that FARMS had been, and all that remained of it’s legacy.
Only a few weeks ago, M. Gerald Bradford, Executive Director of the Maxwell Institute, fired Daniel C. Peterson, and all his supporting staff, who represented all that remained of the original FARMS in it’s intent and purpose. Bro. Bradford did so in a very under-handed way, and even tried to suggest that Bro. Peterson was required to continue his fundraising activities, on behalf of the Maxwell Institute, even though he’d been fired from his formal position as Editor of what was once the FARMS Review.
Needless to say, Anti-Mormons and the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” are rejoicing. If you were in the business of attacking the Church and destroying people’s faith, wouldn’t you be glad to see one of it’s chief defending organizations dissolved?
Because of all this, myself and Bryce Haymond, friend and creator of the amazing TempleStudy.com blog (which inspired me to start this one), have created Restore FARMS. Right now it’s 2 things: 1st it’s a grassroots movement to restore FARMS in some way (we haven’t clearly defined this yet), and 2nd it’s a website and Facebook page where you can discuss what it will mean to “Restore FARMS” and also learn what you can do to help reverse it’s gradual dissolution over the past decade or so.
Please head over to RestoreFARMS.com and go through the list of things we suggest, and do them. Also, make sure to sign up for the email list (in the sidebar of that site) so we can reach you to enlist your help when we have a clear plan. We’re currently waiting to see if 1. BYU will do anything to reverse this sad decision on the part of Bro. Bradford and 2. what the original founders of FARMS and those closest to the situation feel is best.
Finally, those who may have heard bad things about Daniel C. Peterson, or dislike the idea of Apologetics, please watch this video:
The guys who do the "This Week In Mormons" (or TWiM) podcast questioned why we were doing this? They didn't see what it was that had changed. You might like to read my comment on their site for more details (if the above isn't enough for you).