Rebutting Top Ten Lies by Current LDS Apostles

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Rebutting Top Ten Lies by Current LDS Apostles


Published on the YouTube channel "The Mormon Informant," the video "Top Ten Lies by Current LDS Apostles" lists 10 supposed lies shared by current or recent Church leaders. The video uses partial quotes and insinuendo to imply that Church leaders are intentionally deceiving Church members. However, a simple review of relevant facts shows that the video's claims are demonstrably false.

Claim 1. Aversion therapy at BYU

Dallin H. Oaks was president of BYU from 1971 to 1980. During that time a graduate student conducted aversion therapy research. President Oaks stated that he was not aware of such research being done during his tenure as president of BYU. This is reasonable because most university presidents are not aware of every graduate research project being conducted at their university, especially when BYU's enrollment during this time was 26,000 total students. For more detail, see Criticisms of Dallin H. Oaks.

Claim 2. Church Growth

Jeffrey R. Holland stated that in a recent Thursday meeting the Church recently created many new stakes. However, a review of reported stake organizations does not show a corresponding number of new stakes at that time. In the video, Elder Holland was referring to approving new stakes, not organizing new stakes. Stakes are never organized on a Thursday; that happens on a Sunday during a special stake conference. Rather, Thursday is the weekly temple meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when approvals are given.

Claim 3. Baptism Invitations

The video quotes M. Russell Ballard explaining his confusion as to why missionaries thought they had to extend a baptismal invitation during the first lesson. In the original edition of Preach My Gospel (2004), missionaries are instructed during the first lesson, "During this or any other lesson, do not hesitate to invite people to be baptized and confirmed" (page 40). This is clearly not a directive that they must issue a baptismal invite during the first lesson, or even during first contact. However, missionaries and mission presidents misinterpreted this direction to mean that a baptismal invite must be extended in the first lesson, and this misinterpretation eventually made its way into training documents produced by the MTC. President Ballard is simply pointing back to this original direction and encouraging missionaries and mission presidents to follow it.[1]

Claim 4. Dallin Oaks on Excommunications

During a period of high-profile Church membership councils, Dallin H. Oaks was interviewed for a news story, and the reporter claims that President Oaks intentionally misled (or lied) to the reporter. President Oaks later explained that the interview was an hour long, and during that he misspoke regarding a question asked. When President Oaks learned of the oversight, he called the reporter to correct the statement. For more detail, see "Elder Oaks Says News Story 'Seriously Distorted' Facts."[2]

Claim 5. Temple Ordinances

During a media interview, Jeffrey R. Holland responded to a question about temple ordinances. When the reporter seemed uncertain about that answer and asked a clarifying question, Elder Holland corrected his statement. Elder Holland seems to have been responding to an expected question about current temple practices. But the reporter recognized this and simply pointed out that he was referring to previous practices. At that point Elder Holland corrects his answer to reflect that understanding. This seems to be a simple example of answering the question a person thought was being asked, a fairly common occurrence in unscripted conversation. This is when one person assumes what the other person is about to say and responds to that instead of what the other person actually says. Usually the two people have a quick dialogue to clarify the response, which is exactly what happened in the media interview.

Claim 6. Church "Hiding" Things

M. Russell Ballard is quoted as stating that the Church never hides things. President Ballard was speaking in context of Church history, and the Church has not tried to hide anything regarding its history. The one issue in the video related to trying to "hide" Church history is Joseph Fielding Smith keeping the original journal of Joseph Smith. That claim was addressed by Joseph Smith Papers historian Robin Jensen in a Twitter thread.[3] Aside from historical matters, the Church has never tried to "hide" anything in the sense of acting nefariously in order to "cover up" the truth. But the Church does try to keep things confidential. In a recent interview, Bishop W. Christopher Waddell of the Presiding Bishopric said, "We don't feel it's being secret, we feel it's being confidential." When asked what the difference is, he simply said, "I guess its a point of view."[4]

Claim 7. Church Financial Investments

Often individuals wonder about the size of the Church's financial investments and whether or not the size of the investments qualifies the Church as "excessively wealthy." For more on this, see Use of Church funds and Church investments and reporting of financial data.

Claim 8. Proposition 8

A claim is made that the Church spent money on Proposition 8 (in California in 2008) then lied by saying they did not spend money. The Church reported $190,000 as the value of in-kind services rendered, not money donated, so the Church's statement that they did not spend money is true.[5]

Claim 9. Latter-day Saint Politicians

A quote from Quentin L. Cook is used to imply that the Church gives "orders" to Latter-day Saint politicians on how to vote and then claims that the Church doesn't tell its politician members how to vote. However, it should be noted that there is a difference between "taking marching orders from the Church" and "always being willing to support the Church's interests." A Latter-day Saint politician certainly can vote in a way that aligns with the Church's interests and yet not be told by the Church to do so.

Claim 10. Russell M. Nelson in an Airplane

A claim is made that Russell M. Nelson fabricated his story of being on an airplane that caught on fire. Purveyors of the claim try to support it using what they believe is an incident report that supposedly contradicts President Nelson's version. These individuals have failed to understand the document they are using, a document that supports President Nelson's account when properly understood. For more detail, see Did Russell M. Nelson exaggerate his story about being in a falling airplane?.

Conclusion

This video is a clear example of using partial quotes and insinuendo to imply that Church leaders are intentionally deceiving Church members. When the facts are fully understood, however, we see that the Church leaders are honest in all that they do.


Notes

  1. For his remarks, see "President Ballard said missionaries shouldn’t invite people to be baptized without feeling the Spirit. Here’s why," Church News', 26 June 2019.
  2. Matthew S. Brown, "Elder Oaks Says News Story 'Seriously Distorted' Facts," Deseret News, 16 October 1993.
  3. See @rsjensen12345, 13 February 2022, on X (formerly Twitter).
  4. See Sharyn Alfonsi, "Mormon who left Wall St. to work for charity blows whistle on what he says is his church's "clandestine hedge fund"," CBSNews.com, 14 May 2023.
  5. See "Church Clarifies Proposition 8 Filing, Corrects Erroneous News Reports," Newsroom.ChurchofJesusChrist.org, 2 February 2009.