Fight negative trends, LDS group counseled

Through actively entering the debate over right and wrong, public relations professionals who are members of the Church can help deal with negative trends in the world today, said Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Seventy.

He spoke at the first regular meeting of the Association of LDS Public Relations Professionals on Sept. 18 at BYU. Clinton Geise of Kokena, Ill., was elected association president during the meeting, to succeed acting president Bruce L. Olsen, managing director of the LDS Public Affairs Department. The association, which is intended to allow members to discuss matters of mutual interest, was organized last year in Kansas City, Mo.During his address to the group, Elder Christofferson listed three negative trends: "The deification of law, the distrust born of declining discipline, and a growing orthodoxy in media."

He said: "The common thread running through each of these, as well as other problematic developments, is a consistent failure to recognize and acknowledge moral absolutes - that right and wrong are not relative concepts, or simply a matter of personal choice or expediency, but that certain truths and principles are eternal and unchanging regardless of time, place or circumstances. In turn, the failure to recognize and apply these truths results, in large part, from the fact that certain voices, especially that of religion, are too often barred from public policy debates, and that particular issues are not debated at all."

About the deification of the law, Elder Christofferson, an attorney, said people are increasingly willing to place their faith in law, expecting it "to resolve all issues of responsibility, suffering and conflict." Thus it becomes a false god destined to disappoint.

Lack of self discipline has become a negative trend, he said, because when it isn't taught in the home, it isn't likely to be learned elsewhere. While there is a call for discipline through increased regulation, there is a move away from traditional discipline to the attitude that there should be no limitations. That has bred distrust among groups and individuals.

Orthodoxy in media has also become a negative trend, Elder Christofferson continued, as "major news and entertainment media increasingly seem to march to the beat of a particular drummer, and opposing or politically incorrect points of view `need not apply.' "

Elder Christofferson told the public relations professionals what they can do to turn the trends around.

"Your forte is putting things in context," he said. "That is, of course, doubly true for LDS communications professionals who have the benefit of the larger context, and it is only in the light of that perspective that many things which are right make sense."

The group can also work against the move to silence religion. "You perhaps more than any other professionals can give religious values and communities a voice. And you need not apologize for doing so. . . .

"My point is that in the public arena, all must be permitted to address the jury,' to make their case. . . . By your skill and by your integrity, as you are willing to apply both for the greater good of your communities and society at large, public relations professionals will play a much greater and critical role in the future than ever in the past, and will be thoroughly deserving of the appellationprofessional.' "

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