Doublespeak is defined as language designed to deceive usually through concealment or misrepresentation of truth.The term “doublespeak” probably has its roots in George Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty-Four. Although the term is not used in the book, it is a close relative of one of the book’s central concepts, “double think“.
Weasel words are close relatives to doublespeak and often work in conjunction with one another. They are defined as an informal term for words and phrases aimed at creating an impression that a specific and/or meaningful statement has been made, when only a vague or ambiguous claim has been communicated, enabling the specific meaning to be denied if the statement is challenged.
The Mormon church is renowned for using these techniques in communication. In fact they have received the first place award at the annual Weasel Word and Doublespeak Convention for several years running! The following is a partial list of ones I have collected:
Translation: When most people think of this word, they picture someone copying text from one language to another. The Book of Mormon translation actually took place with Joseph putting his head in a hat looking at a stone. According to witnesses he often did not have the gold plates with him.It sounds better to refer to Joseph Smith as a translator rather than a scryer.
Joseph and his associates claimed to have translated papyrus into the Book of Abraham from Egyptian writing. Mormon apologists today have changed the meaning of the word “translation” to “revelation” as scientific discoveries showed the book to be a fraud.
Revelation: Any thought the current leadership wants to establish as official policy or doctrine is described as revelation. It does not have to involve a great spiritual manifestation or a visit from the unseen world. If the prophet wants something to be a revelation, he just says the word.
Knowledge: This word is used in place of belief or hope. Any first Sunday stop by a Mormon chapel and you will witness a Fast and Testimony meeting where members are telling all the things they “know”. You will hear comments such,”I know the church is true,” instead of “I hope the church is true,” or “I want the church to be true.” There are plenty of studies to show this is an effective technique to get people to believe something based on them bearing testimony.
Courts of Love: When the church has declared someone an apostate, they hold a court of love to excommunicate that person from their ranks.Most people who have been through the process will tell you it feels like anything but a court of love.
Truth: This word is used a lot by leaders and rank and file alike. It usually refers to some teaching of the church that is considered doctrine. It takes the place of belief, and is used to create a sense of authority and permanence the member can rely on. It has the effect of shutting down communication because the “truth” cannot be argued against like a belief or teaching can. The use of the word is deceptive because the “truth” as it is used in the church is really something a person believes but is not able to prove in any scientific sense.
Small stipend: The church has long claimed they do not have paid clergy. The historical records clearly speaks against that. To get around the word “salary” which would imply a paid clergy, they use a different word. The church says some people such as general authorities and mission presidents receive a small stipend for their time. Truth be told, most people would see an increase in the quality of their living if they received the small stipend the church gives these folks.
Fairness for All: The church uses this phrase to convince its members to fight for religious freedom for the church. What the church means by this they want to fight against civil marriage for the LGBT community and against them getting married in the temple. If they called it bigotry, they would not get as many people to support their views so they came up with a soft sounding phrase to cloak their actions in.
We are Christians:There was time in the early days of the church when the leaders defined themselves against other churches by their differences. In the modern age of Corporate Church, the emphasis is to blend in with the Christian community to gain as many converts as possible. Thus, the Church today tries to convince Protestants and Catholics they are like them without revealing the huge differences that exist in doctrine.They use coded language to glide over these differences without acknowledging them.
Gathering of Israel: There is a doctrine in the church since the days of Joseph Smith how the saints are to gather. At one time this involved moving to Utah from wherever a member was living. Today, this term has been changed and everything the church does is basically considered gathering the saints.
Donations: This really should be called membership fees. The church puts enormous pressure on members to constantly cough up more and more money for the coffers of the church. The scriptures discuss grave consequences for those who hold out. If you do not want to be burned at the second coming, then you better pay tithing. Official church magazines and general conference talks look to manipulate the feelings of members to get the uttermost farthing from them. To be a card carrying member(temple recommend), you must pay a full 10% of your money. The only exception to this rule are the apostles who long ago voted themselves exempt from this burden. Do as I say not as I do!
Miracles: The common use of this term would involve something extraordinary, such as turning water into wine before a group of people or raising someone from the dead. In the modern Church, they are required to have miracles because of a scripture in Moroni. It says if there aren’t any, then the gospel is not there. Since there are no true miracles happening in the Church, leaders have had to redefine the word. Let me give two example.
The first is from October 7, 2007 when President Eyring is giving a press conference.He talked about seeing a discussion among apostles for the first time. At the beginning they disagreed but by the end of the meeting they had all come to a compromise and agreement.Pretty mundane stuff, especially with an atmosphere of conformity that exist in the Church. He referred to this as a miracle over and over in the press conference.
The second example is from a talk by Dallin Oaks on May 7, 2000 titles “Miracles.” Two examples he gives of modern miracles are young people serving missions and faithful women praying. This seems like a pretty low bar for miracles considering this is supposed to be the true Church and all.