By HEATHER PALMER
The More Good Foundation is taking the battle of good versus evil to the frontlines in cyberspace by providing positive church information to counteract the negative blogs and Web sites that misrepresent and tear down the church’s credibility.
The foundation sees great potential with 12 million-plus members in the church to make a difference by sharing their testimonies through the convenience and non-intimidating technical voice the Internet provides.
“We have to do ‘more good’ by telling our stories and making faithful information available to all those seeking information about the church,” said representatives on the More Good Foundation Web site.
The foundation is a non-profit corporation dedicated to providing tools, support, education and content to help LDS-oriented Web sites counteract those that misrepresent the church through the Internet. The organization was created in the summer of 2005 and has full- and part-time employees working on the cause to cover up the bad with good on the Internet by providing more credible and positive information about the Church.
The foundation is not funded through the church, but the church supports the cause, as they have worked closely with Ronald Schwendiman, manager of Internet operations for the church.
The funds for the organization come from the individual donors who came up with the idea of the foundation and found computer technicians, secretaries, writers and editors to run the foundation.
“Anti-Mormon literature is pervasive on the Internet,” said Jim Engebretsen, an assistant dean of corporate relations for the BYU Marriott School of Business. “It causes interested investigators of the church to lose interest. We can do a better job of presenting the positive impact of the gospel.”
The founders feel it is a shame to lose so many individuals interested in the church who are interested and get negative results. They feel members can strengthen their own testimony and help others as well by creating their own blog or by adding credibility to Wikipedia or other informative add-on Web sites, according to representatives of the foundation.
“You don’t have to pretend to be the church, just be yourself and share your own testimony,” said Richard Miller, The More Good Foundation’s technical director.
Chris Nielson, a BYU student and second-year graduate student studying information systems, has held up his candle by taking the initiative to get involved with attacking the bad in cyberspace and making his own website, www.whatmormonsbelieve.org. Nielson dedicates a little time every Sunday to write basic positive content about the church.
“The More Good Foundation shows that lds.org or mormon.org is not necessarily enough,” said Nielson. “People can’t stand behind the umbrella of the church, but they can speak out in a more technological way and do a small part which can make a difference.”
The More Good Foundation takes the “every member a missionary” idea to a virtual element through the positive use of the Internet.
Globally, people deserve the chance to hear the truth in their own language and decide if they will accept it, the foundation maintains. The typical Google user will hit on the first three hits that come up under a certain topic, and if those are negative, they will be misdirected and investigative interest can turn to a negative experience. The foundation said if people fail to make their testimonies and voices heard about the church, perhaps members will be responsible for others’ lack of understanding.
“Sharing the gospel and answering critics strengthens your own faith,” said Robert Millet, a BYU religion professor, of religious understanding. “The Internet is a great way to share the gospel, and The More Good Foundation can help members do it.”
The foundation hopes to make good on a statement from LDS.org: “The Internet can be a powerful tool for good, but only if it is used correctly.”