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GORDON B. HINCKLEY - LIES


Gordon B. Hinckley's Lies

Gordon B. Hinckley became head of the church in 1995, thus officially holding the titles "president, prophet, seer, revelator and translator" (D&C 107:91-92). Now (2001) in his nineties, he has spent a long life working on behalf of the church, much of it in the church public relations effort. In the years since he became head of the church, his administration has made special effort to present the church to the world in a favorable light. He has traveled all over the world and been interviewed extensively by reporters and television talk-show hosts.

Unfortunately, in his efforts to make the church look good, Hinckley often bends the truth.

The Lie:

Don Lattin (religion editor, interviewing Gordon B. Hinckley, San Francisco Chronicle, April 13, 1997, p 3/Z1)

Q: 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. [emphasis added]

Gordon B. Hinckley, as 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.'" [emphasis added]

A spokesman for Hinckley, when questioned about the accuracy of the Time quotation, asserted that Hinckley's words were taken out of context, and that Hinckley was thus misquoted. The Time reporter, however, has made available the pertinent part of the transcript of his interview with Hinckley. Here is the relevant excerpt from President Hinckley's interview with Time:

Q: Just another related question that comes up is the statements in the King Follett discourse by the Prophet.

Hinckley: Yeah

Q: ... about that, God the Father was once a man as we were. This is something that Christian writers are always addressing. Is this the teaching of the church today, that God the Father was once a man like we are?

Hinckley: I don't know that we teach it. I don't know that we emphasize it. I haven't heard it discussed for a long time in public discourse. I don't know. I don't know all the circumstances under which that statement was made. I understand the philosophical background behind it. But I don't know a lot about it and I don't know that others know a lot about it. [emphasis added]

The Truth:

Joseph Smith   ("King Follett Discourse," Journal of Discourses 6:3-4, also in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 342-345):

"God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens. That is the great secret... It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God and to know...that he was once a man like us.... Here, then, is eternal life - to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves,... the same as all Gods have done before you..." [emphasis added]

Brigham Young, successor to Joseph Smith  (Journal of Discourses 7:333):

"He [God] is our Father - the Father of our spirits, and was once a man in mortal flesh as we are, and is now an exalted being." [emphasis added]

Milton R. Hunter, Mormon apostle and theologian (The Gospel Through the Ages, p 104):

"Mormon prophets have continuously taught the sublime truth that God the Eternal Father was once a mortal man who passed through a school of earth life similar that through which we are now passing. He became God - an exalted being - through obedience to the same eternal Gospel truths that we are given opportunity today to obey." [emphasis added]

Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon apostle and theologian (Mormon Doctrine, 1966 ed p 250):

"...God...is a personal Being, a holy and exalted man..."

Joseph Fielding Smith, Mormon apostle and theologian, later President of the church (Doctrines of Salvation 1:10):

"God is an exalted man. Some people are trouble over the statements of the Prophet Joseph Smith ... that our Father in heaven at one time passed through a life and death and is an exalted man..."

The Lie:

Larry King (whose present wife is Mormon) interviewed Gordon B. Hinckley on his nationally broadcast television show Larry King Live on September 8, 1998. He asked Hinckely about polygamy:

KING: You condemn it [polygamy].
HINCKLEY: I condemn it, yes, as a practice, because I think it is not doctrinal. It is not legal. And this church takes the position that we will abide by the law. We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates in honoring, obeying and sustaining the law. [emphasis added]

The Truth:

The Doctrine and Covenants, a collection of doctrine and revelations of equal iimportance to the Book of Mormon, still contains Section 132, as it has for about 150 years. This is the famous revelation on plural marriage. Pertinent passages are [emphasis added]:

1 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you my servant Joseph, that inasmuch as you have inquired of my hand to know and understand wherein I, the Lord, justified my servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as also Moses, David and Solomon, my servants, as touching the principle and doctrine of their having many wives and concubines--
2 Behold, and lo, I am the Lord thy God, and will answer thee as touching this matter.
3 Therefore, prepare thy heart to receive and obey the instructions which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same.
4 For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory....
29 Abraham received all things, whatsoever he received, by revelation and commandment, by my word, saith the Lord, and hath entered into his exaltation and sitteth upon his throne.
...
30 Abraham received promises concerning his seed, and of the fruit of his loins-.... both in the world and out of the world should they continue as innumerable as the stars; or, if ye were to count the sand upon the seashore ye could not number them.
31 This promise is yours also, because ye are of Abraham, and the promise was made unto Abraham; and by this law is the continuation of the works of my Father, wherein he glorifieth himself.
32 Go ye, therefore, and do the works of Abraham; enter ye into my law and ye shall be saved.
33 But if ye enter not into my law ye cannot receive the promise of my Father, which he made unto Abraham.
34 God commanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.
35 Was Abraham, therefore, under condemnation? Verily I say unto you, Nay; for I, the Lord, commanded it.
...
37 Abraham received concubines, and they bore him children; and it was accounted unto him for righteousness, because they were given unto him, and he abode in my law; as Isaac also and Jacob did none other things than that which they were commanded; and because they did none other things than that which they were commanded, they have entered into their exaltation, according to the promises, and sit upon thrones, and are not angels but are gods.
...
61 And again, as pertaining to the law of the priesthood--if any man espouse a virgin, and desire to espouse another, and the first give her consent, and if he espouse the second, and they are virgins, and have vowed to no other man, then is he justified; he cannot commit adultery for they are given unto him; for he cannot commit adultery with that that belongeth unto him and to no one else.
62 And if he have ten virgins given unto him by this law, he cannot commit adultery, for they belong to him, and they are given unto him; therefore is he justified.

Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of the church, emphasized the doctrinal necessity of practicing polygamy ("plural marriage"):

Some people have supposed that the doctrine of plural marriage was a sort of superfluity, or non-essential to the salvation of mankind. In other words, some of the Saints have said, and believe that a man with one wife, sealed to him by the authority of the Priesthood for time and eternity, will receive an exaltation as great and glorious, if he is faithful, as he possibly could with more than one. I want here to enter my protest against this idea, for I know that it is false. ... Therefore, whoever has imagined that he could obtain the fullness of the blessings pertaining to this celestial law, by complying with only a portion of its conditions, has deceived himself. He cannot do it. ... I understand the law of celestial marriage to mean that every man in this church, who has the ability to obey and practice it in righteousness and will not, shall be damned, I say I understand it to mean this and nothing less, and I testify in the name of Jesus that it does mean that. (Journal of Discourses 20:28-31.)

Hinckley would have been correct if he had said that the present church does not actually practice polygamy, even though it is still an official doctrine of the church. But that would have made the church look bad. So he lied.

Actually, a form of polygamy is still practiced by the church under very limited circumstances: if a man and woman are "sealed" together on earth to be husband and wife in eternity, and the wife dies, the man can remarry, and then have his second wife "sealed" to him, so that in heaven he will be a polygamist. For example, Joseph Fielding Smith, who was president of the church from 1970 until his death in 1972, was technically a monogamist. But he was sealed for eternity to three successive wives, each of whom left him a widower. Thus, he is now a polygamist, supposedly living in the Celestial Kingdom with his three wives.

The Lie:

In the same interview with Larry King, Hinckley said the following about the early practice of polygamy:

HINCKLEY: When our people came west they permitted it [polygamy] on a restricted scale.

The Truth:

The Mormons "came west" in 1847, after abandoning their headquarters in Nauvoo, Illinois. Polygamy had been practiced secretly by Joseph Smith since about 1833, when he "married" his first "plural wife," Fanny Alger. Alger is listed by official Mormon sources as Joseph Smith's first plural wife.

It was the rampant but secret practice of polygamy which led some prominent Mormons in Nauvoo, who believed the practice to be false, to publish in 1844 a newspaper (the Nauvoo Expositor) exposing and denouncing it. Smith's illegal destruction of the newspaper's offices and press led directly to the state of civil war between the Mormons and the non-Mormons, to Smith's arrest and death, and the exodus to Utah.

Thus, Hinckley's implication that it was not practiced until the Mormon arrival in Utah is false.

The Lie:

The King interview continued, discussing polygamy:

KING: You could have a certain amount of...
HINCKLEY: 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;...

The Truth:

It was limited to the leaders at first simply because it was a secret doctrine, and only the leaders knew of it. But among the leadership it was not at all a "limited practice": D. Michael Quinn, in his book The Mormon Hierarchy: [Volume 1] Origins of Powers, Appendix 6, gives biographical sketches of all the men who were the leaders of the Mormon church between 1830 and 1847. He lists 51 men of leading importance in the church during that period. Twenty-nice of them were polygamists. Of the other 22 (monogamists) about a dozen either had left the church before the 1840s (when polygamy became widespread among the intimate associates of Smith), or were among those who actively opposed polygamy and apostatized or were excommunicated for that opposition. Thus, a more accurate figure of the number of men who practiced it even before the exodus to Utah is 75% of those in the leadership of the church who actually were aware of the doctrine.

Hinckley also neglects to mention that until 1890, the leaders of the church urged all good Mormons to practice it (see the quotation from Joseph F. Smith above, which is typical of sermons of the day). If it was not practiced by all Mormons, it was not because the church was trying to limit the practice, as Hinckley falsely implies.

In fact, every president of the Mormon church from Joseph Smith was polygamous through Heber J. Grant (who died in 1945, and who gave it up when he was 52 years old). The first monogamous president of the church was George Albert Smith, who succeeded Grant in 1945.

The Lie:

In the same interview with Larry King, Hinckley said:

HINCKLEY: 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. [emphasis added]

The Truth:

Joseph Smith was the first Mormon to attack other religions. In his autobiography (now a part of Mormon scripture, in the Pearl of Great Price) he says:

"I asked the Personages [God the Father and God the Son] who stood above me in the light, which of all the sects was right (for at this time it had never entered into my heart that all were wrong)--and which I should join. I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and 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, emphasis added)

In the Book of Mormon we find the assertion that anyone who does not belong to the "true" church (i.e., the Mormon church) belongs to the "church of the devil":

"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." (1 Nephi 14:10, emphasis added; see also 13:6, 14:3, 9; Alma 5:39)

Brigham Young said the following about other churches:

"...the religions of the day were hatched in hell. The eggs were laid in hell, hatched on its borders, and then kicked on to the earth. They may be called cockatrices, for they sting wherever they go. " (Journal of Discourses 6:176, January 17, 1858)

"Whosoever confesseth that Joseph Smith was sent of God to reveal the holy Gospel to the children of men, and lay the foundation for gathering Israel, and building up the kingdom of God on the earth, that spirit is of God; and every spirit that does not confess that God has sent Joseph Smith, and revealed the everlasting Gospel to and through him, is of Antichrist" (Journal of Discourses 8:176, September 9, 1860)

Until 1990, the Mormon temple ceremony (the "endowment"), one of the most sacred religious rites in Mormonism, included a dramatization in which a Protestant minister was portrayed as a servant of Lucifer (Satan) and which mocked certain orthodox Christian beliefs as being absurd.

These facts would seem to contradict Hinckley's statement that "We never speak negatively of other churches."

The Lie:

Still in the Larry King interview:

KING: What's your role?
HINCKLEY: My role is to declare a doctrine. My role is to stand as an example before the people. My role is to be a voice in defense of the truth. My role is to stand as a conservator of those values which are important in our civilization and our society. My role it is to lead people.

The Truth:

As president of the church, Hinckley is a "prophet, seer, revelator and translator" (D&C 107:91-92; see also D&C 124:94, 125). In the revelation recorded in D&C 21:4-5, the church is instructed, with regard to Joseph Smith (and, by implication, his successor presidents):

...thou shalt give heed unto all his words and commandments which he shall give unto you as he receiveth them, walking in all holiness before me [i.e., God];
5 For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine [i.e., God's] own mouth, in all patience and faith. [emphasis added]

Thus, Hinckley's role is as the supreme (and sole) mouthpiece of God on earth, a "living prophet of God." Every Mormon Sunday school child knows this. But perhaps Hinckley felt that such a claim would sound presumptuous to the public, so he lied. Perhaps he had forgotten another Mormon scripture (D&C 11:25):

Deny not the spirit of revelation, nor the spirit of prophecy, for wo unto him that denieth these things;


 -   2001 Richard Packham  From "Mormon Lying" by Richard Packham.