Part 19: CES Letter Book of Abraham Questions [Section J]
by Sarah Allen
This has been a long section of “questions” and we’re not quite done yet, but I think we’ll be able to wrap up the Book of Abraham section this week and move on to the next set of questions next week. I’m sure everyone’s getting ready for a change in topic by now, so it’ll be good to dive into something new.
This entire post may as well be about source bias as anything else. To start the ball rolling on this week’s group of accusations (they are less actual questions this week and more biased statements masquerading as facts), Jeremy Runnells links to a commentary video about an interview Elder Holland did for a BBC documentary (which aired in the US on PBS) on our church during Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential run.
As some quick background, John Sweeney, a reporter for the BBC, put together a documentary titled The Mormon Candidate that was…well, to put it bluntly, it was insane. It was like something out of the National Enquirer. I remember watching it and thinking, “Wait, isn’t the BBC supposed to be reputable?” You can watch the full documentary here, but I couldn’t find any clips of just Elder Holland’s interview without slanted commentary insinuating that he was lying.
The documentary was full of errors like repeatedly confusing chapels and temples, interviews with polygamists (whom we are apparently “afraid of”) and crazy ex-members who made claims about the Church having them followed, “Mormon spies” who are trained by the CIA to keep tabs on the members who are “considered dangerous,” and a very heavily edited interview with Elder Holland. Sweeney repeated the claim from The Godmakers that we believe we each get our own planet when we die, as well as that we believe we are the only chosen people of God. He claimed that the Church is in charge of the Utah state school system. He highlighted the re-drawing of Facsimile 1 by Charles Larson that a noted, non-Latter-day Saint Egyptologist called “seriously flawed.” He claimed that Joseph Smith was convicted of being a fraud in New York, which there is no evidence of. Joseph was charged, yes, but the supposed victim of his fraud, Josiah Stowell, testified in Joseph’s defense (as did several of his family members) and Stowell later joined the Church, in which he remained a faithful member until his death.