This is one of a series of web pages I created between 2001and 2006. I was angry and frustrated at the LDS Church. Since then I have moved on and calmed down. So please remember, if you read these pages, that they reflect my past and not my present feelings. Thanks for your understanding!      -  Chris Tolworthy

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Gordon B. Hinckley: Does he always tell the truth?

Why do I say these mean things? | items 1 to 10 | 11 to 20 | 21 to 30 | 31 to 40

Gordon B Hinckley looks like a nice guy. He sounds like a nice guy. He says things that sound fair and reasonable. But are they true? Or does he change things to make them sound better than they really are? Here is what Hinckley says about...

  1. The nature of God
  2. The Mountain Meadows Massacre
  3. Joseph Smith's marriage
  4. Why were blacks denied the priesthood until 1978?
  5. When polygamy started...
  6. ...and how many people were involved.
  7. Speaking negatively of other churches
  8. Men running the church
  9. The church and politics
  10. Changes in doctrine

 

1. Does the church teach that God was once a man? Hinckley says no.

Joseph Smith said it is the first principle of the gospel:

"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!...........It is the first principle of the gospel to know for a certainty the character of God........yea, that God himself, the father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did; and I will show it from the Bible...." (from Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith and History of the Church, 6:302-17. This has also been reprinted in various manuals and church magazines over the years. Truman Madsen, in his popular tapes "Joseph Smith the Prophet" said the church has published this sermon more than any other.)

President Kimball said it is in numerous scriptures:

"You and I--what helpless creatures are we! Such limited power we have, and how little can we control the wind and the waves and the storms! We remember the numerous scriptures which, concentrated in a single line, were stated by a former prophet, Lorenzo Snow: 'As man is, God once was; and as God is, man may become.'" (President Spencer W. Kimball in "Our Great Potential" from the April 1977 Priesthood Session of General Conference)

In 1997, the official Priesthood and Relief Society manual contained the following;:

"President Brigham Young taught ... that God the Father was once a man on another planet who 'passed the ordeals we are now passing through'" ... "The doctrine that God was once a man and has progressed to become a God is unique to this church." ("The Teachings of Brigham Young," 1997, pages 29,34, )

That same year, 1997, Gordon B. Hinckley was asked about this teaching:

Don Lattin (San Francisco Chronicle religion editor, interviewing Gordon B. Hinckley, April 13, 1997, p 3/Z1): "There are some significant differences in your beliefs [from other Christian churches]. For instance, don't Mormons believe that God was once a man?"
Hinckley: "I wouldn't say that. There was a little couplet coined, "As man is, God once was. As God is, man may become." Now that's more of a couplet than anything else. That gets into some pretty deep theology that we don't know very much about."

Quoted in Time Magazine, Aug 4, 1997: "On whether his church still holds that God the Father was once a man, [Hinckley] sounded uncertain, `I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it... I understand the philosophical background behind it, but I don't know a lot about it, and I don't think others know a lot about it.'"

Hinckley claimed he was misquoted:

"I personally have been much quoted, and in a few instances misquoted and misunderstood. I think that's to be expected. None of you need worry because you read something that was incompletely reported. You need not worry that I do not understand some matters of doctrine. I think I understand them thoroughly, and it is unfortunate that the reporting may not make this clear. I hope you will never look to the public press as the authority on the doctrines of the Church. (1997 October General Conference)"

But you can check the quotes for yourself - even on the original video. And he said the same things on more than one occasion. See www.lds-mormon.com/hwtd.shtml or www.lds-mormon.com/lkl_00.shtml for details.

The next year, 1998, the plain doctrine was again taught in the Ensign - click here to read the whole article on the official church web site. Note that being resurrected implies that a person was once mortal.

"God the Father and His Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, are glorified, exalted, resurrected beings, and from the moment of the appearance of the Father and the Son to Joseph Smith, we have known their true nature." (M. Russell Ballard, “Building Bridges of Understanding,” Ensign, June 1998, 62)

The teaching is plain and simple, perhaps the plainest and simplest in all of Mormondom. Yet Hinckley says "I don't know that we teach it." It seems that this church says one thing to its own members and a different thing to the world's media..

2. Does the church know about the Mountain Meadows Massacre? Hinckley says no.

Background

For full details about the Mountain Meadows Massacre, see "Blood of the Prophets: Brigham Young and the Massacre at Mountain Meadows" (Will Bagley, University of Oklahoma Press, 2002), or "American Massacre: The Tragedy at Mountain Meadows" (Sally Denton, Knopf , 2003), or Google "Mountain Meadows Massacre." This is just a very, very brief summary.

In 1853, Brigham Young taught: "If you want to know what to do with a thief that you may find stealing, I say kill him on the spot" (Journal of Discourses 1:108-109, May 8, 1853)

In 1853, Brigham Young also taught: "I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath my bowie knife, and conquer or die. [Great commotion in the congregation, and a simultaneous burst of feeling, assenting to the declaration.] Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put to the line, and righteousness to the plummet. [Voices, generally, "go it, go it."] If you say it is right, raise your hands. [All hands up.] Let us call upon the Lord to assist us in this, and every good work. (JoD 1:83, March 27, 1853)

In 1856, Brigham Young taught: "There are sins that men commit for which they cannot receive forgiveness in this world, or in that which is to come, and if they had their eyes open to see their true condition, they would be perfectly willing to have their blood split upon the ground, that the smoke thereof might ascend to heaven as an offering for their sins; and the smoking incense would atone for their sins, (JoD 4:53-54, September 21, 1856)

In February 1857, Brigham Young taught: "Will you love your brothers or sisters likewise, when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood? ... I could refer you to plenty of instances where men, have been righteously slain, in order to atone for their sins. ... The wickedness and ignorance of the nations forbid this principle's being in full force, but the time will come when the law of God will be in full force." (JoD 4:219-220 (February 8, 1857)

Throughout this time, every adult Mormon had to swear in the temple to "avenge the blood of the prophets."

In May 1857, Parley P. Pratt had been murdered in Arkansas. Pratt was a Mormon apostle, which means he was also considered a prophet. A few months later, a wagon train from Arkansas passed through Utah on the way to California. Rumors spread that these people were responsible for the death of Parley P. Pratt. On Sept. 11, 1857, 120 men, women and children from the wagon train were clubbed, stabbed or shot at point-blank range. The massacre took just 5 minutes. The victims were unarmed. The only ones spared were children under 8, the Mormon age of accountability.

What Hinckley said:

On September 11th 1999, Hinckley dedicated a monument at Mountain Meadows, and said:

"I come as a peacemaker. This is not a time for recrimination or the assigning of blame. No one can explain what happened in these meadows 142 years ago. We may speculate, but we do not know. We do not understand it. We cannot comprehend it. We can only say that the past is long since gone."

"That which we have done here must never be construed as an acknowledgment of the part of the church of any complicity in the occurrences of that fateful day."

He did not know? The events have been examined at great length. Brigham's teachings are matters of public record. And Gordon B. Hinckley did not know?

3. Is Joseph Smith's marriage an example to us all? Hinckley says yes.

Hinckley authorized a new Joseph Smith web site - one of the very few official global church web sites (the others are mormons.org, lds.org and familysearch.org). If you search for references to Joseph's marriage you only find mention of Emma, not the other wives. And the page concludes:

"Joseph and Emma Smith centered their marriage and family in the gospel of Jesus Christ—an example to all."

If the link does not work, here is a screenshot of the whole page so you can see the statement in context. "An example to all" is a strange way to sum up a marriage  in which Joseph smith slept with other men's wives, pressured men so he could sleep with their daughters, and had over thirty documented "wives"yet none of this is mentioned on the official Joseph Smith web site. But is it fair to hold Hinckley accountable for that web site? I believe it is, for a number of reasons:

4.Why were blacks denied the priesthood until 1978? Hinckley says he does not know.

From an interview on the Australian Broadcasting Company's Sunday night television show COMPASS, April 8th 2005 He said similar things in other interviews (for example with Mike Wallace on "60 Minutes").

COMPASS:: So in retrospect was the Church wrong in that [denying blacks the priesthood]?
HINCKLEY: No I don't think it was wrong. It, things, various things happened in different periods. There's a reason for them.
COMPASS: What was the reason for that?
HINCKLEY: I don't know what the reason was.

This is a very strange thing to say because Hinckley was raised in the church and sopent his life working for the church in public relations, so he must have heard this question many times. And the answer was plainly stated by prophets such as Brigham Young

"Why are so many of the inhabitants of the earth cursed with a sin of blackness? It comes in consequence of their fathers rejecting the power of the Holy Priesthood, and the law of God. They will go down to death. And when all the rest of the children have received their blessings in the Holy Priesthood, then that curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will then come up and possess the priesthood, and receive all the blessings which we now are entitled to. "
 ( Journal of Discourses, Vol.11, Pg.272, Brigham Young, August 19, 1866)
"The first man that committed the odious crime of killing one of his brethren will be cursed the longest of any one of the children of Adam. Cain slew his brother. Cain might have been killed, and that would have put a termination to that line of human beings. This was not to be, and the Lord put a mark upon him, which is the flat nose and black skin. Trace mankind down to after the flood, and then another curse is pronounced upon the same race--that they should be the "servant of servants;" and they will be, until that curse is removed; and the Abolitionists cannot help it, nor in the least alter that decree. How long is that race to endure the dreadful curse that is upon them? That curse will remain upon them, and they never can hold the Priesthood or share in it until all the other descendants of Adam have received the promises and enjoyed the blessings of the Priesthood and the keys thereof. Until the last ones of the residue of Adam's children are brought up to that favourable position, the children of Cain cannot receive the first ordinances of the Priesthood. They were the first that were cursed, and they will be the last from whom the curse will be removed. When the residue of the family of Adam come up and receive their blessings, then the curse will be removed from the seed of Cain, and they will receive blessings in like proportion."
(JD, Vol.7, Pg.290 - Pg.291, Brigham Young, October 9, 1859)

Is Hinckley unfamiliar with the teachings of Brigham Young? No, he is very familiar with them. He just pretends not to be.

Often President Hinckley has said to us in some of our meetings, and I think he has said it publicly, that behind his desk he has a picture of Brigham Young. Sometimes when President Hinckley has had a busy day and a hard day of making many, many difficult decisions, he turns in his chair and looks up at Brigham's picture behind him and either asks out loud or in his own mind says, "Brother Brigham, what would you have done?" or "What advice would you give to me?"
(David B Haight, October 2001 General Conference)

One of Hinckley's first acts as the new prophet was to start a new study program where everyone studied the words of Brigham Young for the first year. Hinckley is not a fool. After a very long life working for the church he must be well aware of what his hero said on this most controversial subject. So why does he say that he does not know?

5. When did polygamy start in the church? Hinckley says it was after 1847.

On Larry King Live (September 8, 1998, after Hinckley was asked about polygamy): "When our people came west they permitted it [polygamy] on a restricted scale."

This is very strange, because polygamy began much earlier than "when our people came west." It was practiced secretly by Joseph Smith since about 1833, when he "married" his first "plural wife," sixteen year old Fanny Alger. Alger is listed by official Mormon sources as Joseph Smith's first plural wife. By 1844 it was practiced by many LDS leaders. It is very strange that Gordon B. Hinckley does not remember this.

6. How many Mormons were "involved in polygamy"? Hinckley says just 2 to 5 percent.

Again from Larry King Live, September 8, 1998: "The figures I have are from -- between two percent and five percent of our people were involved in it [polygamy]. It was a very limited practice"

This is very strange, because before moving to Utah, of the leaders who knew about polygamy, 75 percent practiced it. See D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: [Volume 1] Origins of Powers, Appendix 6, and the discussion by Packam. After moving to Utah, church elders urged ALL good Mormons to practice it. Numerous sermons say it was essential to salvation. Every president of the church was polygamous until George Albert Smith, who became president in 1945. It is very strange that Gordon B. Hinckley presents it as a very limited practice.]

7. Do Mormons speak negatively of other churches? Hinckley says no.

Speaking on Larry King Live, September 8, 1998: "I say this to other people: you develop all the good you can. We have no animosity toward any other church. We do not oppose other churches. We never speak negatively of other churches."

In last General Conference (October 2005, quoting a poem): " 'I would not sit in the scorner's seat, Or hurl the cynic's ban; / Let me live in a house by the side of the road / And be a friend to man.' That is the way I feel. [I wish] that men might live together in peace without war and contention, argument and conflict."

This is a strange thing to say since Hinckley leads a church that divides the world. He divides the world into the righteous (Mormons and those who will one day become Mormons) and the unrighteous (everyone else, and they can't go to heaven).

This was the very first thing "revealed from God" in the "First Vision." Joseph Smith wrote, "the personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in His sight: that those professors were all corrupt." (Joseph Smith - History 1:18-19) The whole reason for a restoration is that every other church is so corrupt that they are beyond any hope of reformation.

1 Nephi 14:10 says "And he [God] said unto me: Behold there are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil; wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church, which is the mother of abominations; and she is the whore of all the earth." (See also 1 Nephi 13:6, 14:3, 9; Alma 5:39.)

Until 1990, the temple ceremony included a non-Mormon minister, a representative of all other churches, and he was being paid by Satan.

Hinckley says that Mormons "never speak negatively of other churches" yet they say that other churches are corrupt and inspired by Satan. Is Hinckley telling the whole truth?

8. Is the church run by only men? Hinckley says no.

Mike Wallace ('Sixty Minutes' TV interview): ''Why must only men run the Church?''
Hinckley: '' 'Only men' do not run the Church. Men have their place in the Church. Men hold priesthood offices of the Church. But women have a tremendous place in this church. They have their own organization. It was started in 1842 by the Prophet Joseph Smith, called the Relief Society, because its initial purpose was to administer help to those in need. It has grown to be, I think, the largest women's organization in the world with a membership of more than three million. They have their own offices, their own presidency, their own board. That reaches down to the smallest unit of the Church everywhere in the world.''
Wallace: ''But they don't have the power.''
Hinckley: ''They have office. They have responsibility. They have control of their organization.''
Wallace: ''But you run it. The men run it. Look, I'm not being . . . ''
Hinckley: ''The men hold the priesthood, yes. But my wife is my companion. In this Church the man neither walks ahead of his wife nor behind his wife but at her side. They are co-equals in this life in a great enterprise.''

This is very strange because clearly men do run the church. It is true that women run some parts of the church, but only if they get permission from the men to do so.

9. Does the church get involved in politics? Hinckley says no.

From an interview broadcast on Compass in Australia, November 9th 1997

DR: "Finally, in Australia as in the US, I understand you ??? government on social issues. Especially in the name of protecting the family. What sort of things would you like to change as far as Australian society is concerned?"

Gordon B. Hinckley: "I don’t know much about er your social structure here. I’m only... I only come as a visitor and so I can’t say very much, but I was sorry to read that the great emphasis being put on gambling down in er ..Victoria? Victoria, yes. Institutionally the Church speaks out on moral issues. Other than that we draw a strict line of separation of Church and State. The Church institutionally does not get involved in politics. Does not endorse candidates, does not endorse parties. We encourage our people as citizens of the land to exercise their franchises individuals. And to be active in these things, but as an institution the Church maintains a strict line of separation of Church and State speaking out only when there is a moral question at issue."

Those who remember the Equal Right Amendment Act, or follow the millions being spent attacking gay marriage proposals, or all the other examples where the church gets involved in politics, will know that this "strict line of separation between church and state" is not the case. D.Michael Quinn's book "Extensions of Power" goes into great detail about the church's political work.

10. Do Mormon doctrines change? Hinckley says no.

From the same Australian interview:

President Gordon B. Hinckley: "Yes, sir. We are. We have fundamental, basic doctrines which have held fast through more than a 150 years of time. We don’t bend with every wind of doctrine that comes along. Our doctrine is stable, it’s secure. Programmes change, we make adaptation according to the circumstances. But the basic doctrine remains the same and that becomes a solid unshifting foundation to which people can cling in this world of instability and drifting values."

Those who have followed the Adam-God doctrine, or the role of polygamy, or blood atonement, or blacks in the pre-existence, will know that the doctrine is anything but stable. In my own time, the church has shifted significantly. Hinckley's own statements on this page show that the doctrine regarding the doctrine of the purpose of life (to become like God) is still changing.

 


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