LDS Hoaxes and
When LDSWorld.com left the
Internet, we wrote and asked for permission to put all of their hoax and myth
information up on SHIELDS.
We never received a reply. But we feel it important that their effort not
be lost and that members don't spread false rumors. In that spirit we are
going to reproduce their work (we saved it before it was gone). If the
original owners of the work object, we will remove their work. Their
There are many stories and rumors that get
distributed around the Internet. Many of them are untrue, but continue to get
wide distribution because of their sensational or speculative nature. Stories
related to the LDS Church or other "inspiring" incidents are often
quoted in Sacrament Meeting talks or lessons as if they were true, in spite of
their dubious source. Other true stories are modified in ways that dilute or
change the meaning. The purpose of this page is to document some of the untrue
stories and messages related to the LDS Church.
In general, it's a good practice to be VERY
skeptical about things you see on the Internet. Unless they are well-documented
and come from a reliable source, be inclined to doubt them - especially notes
that say "Please forward this to everyone you know!"
INDEX OF TOPICS:
|Pres. Harold B. Lee on gullibility and
"There are some as wolves among us. By that, I mean some who
profess membership in this church who are not sparing the flock. And
among our own membership, men are arising speaking perverse things. Now
perverse means diverting from the right or correct, and being obstinate
in the wrong, willfully, in order to draw the weak and unwary members of
the Church away after them....
"I should like now to make reference to some of these. The first is
the spread of rumor and gossip (we have mentioned this before) which,
when once started, gains momentum as each telling becomes more fanciful,
until unwittingly those who wish to dwell on the sensational repeat them
in firesides, in classes, in Relief Society gatherings and priesthood
quorum classes without first verifying the source before becoming a
party to causing speculation and discussions that steal time away from
the things that would be profitable and beneficial and enlightening to
"I would earnestly urge that no such idle gossip be spread abroad
without making certain as to whether or not it is true....
"As I say, it never ceases to amaze me how gullible some of our
Church members are in broadcasting these sensational stories, or dreams,
or visions, some alleged to have been given to Church leaders, past or
present, supposedly from some person's private diary, without first
verifying the report with proper Church authorities." (Pres. Harold
B. Lee, Ensign January 1973, p. 105)
Missionaries miraculously spared
in World Trade Center attack
On September 11, 2001, terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York
City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. Commercial airlines were hijacked and
flown into the buildings, killing all passengers on the planes as well as
thousands in the buildings.
Within a day or two, a message began to circulate around the Internet detailing
the involvement of missionaries in New York. There are several versions of this
message, most of which describe a missionary conference planned to be held in
the World Trade Center on Tuesday morning (the day of the attack). The
conference supposedly involved as many as 3 zones of missionaries. According to
the message, ALL of the missionaries "miraculously" failed to make it
to the World Trade Center due to a variety of circumstances - alarm clocks which
failed, missed rides or bus connections, etc.
Youth were Generals in the
War in Heaven
A quotation has been circulated widely, usually attributed to Pres. Boyd K.
Packer but also to Pres. Monson, Elder Eyring, Elder Maxwell, and others. The
quotation says that today's youth were "generals in the War in Heaven"
and in some future day will be worshipped by other eternal souls who will fall
to a hush when they hear that the youth lived in the time of Gordon B. Hinckley.
statement was published in the Church
News, an official publication of the Church, on April 28, 2001:
President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of
the Quorum of the Twelve, has released the following concerning a statement he
is said to have made:
"We continue to receive reports of the distribution of a quote attributed
to me which begins, 'The youth of the Church today were generals in the war in
heaven,' and ends with the statement that when they return to heaven 'all in
attendance will bow in your presence.'
"I did not make that statement. I do not believe that statement.
"The statement, on occasion, has been attributed to others of the First
Presidency and the Twelve. None of the Brethren made that statement."
President Packer has sent a letter to mission presidents requesting their help
in clarifying this matter among missionaries and members, and has had posted
on some Internet sites carrying the statement a notice that he did not make
Additional resource: LDS Church News dated March 8, 2008
shows true appearance of the Savior
popular internet message tells of LDS artist Del Parson who was commissioned by
the Church to do a painting of the Savior. He submitted several drafts of the
portrait to the General Authorities who returned it with suggestions on how to
make it more "accurate." Finally, the picture was accepted as the
closest possible approximation to the Savior's actual appearance. (The final
picture is the familiar "red robe" portrait that has been used in many
Church magazines, manuals, etc.) Some dramatic additions to the story tell of a
girl who recognized in the portrait the man who had held her and protected her
after her parents were killed in a car accident, or who comforted her when she
was locked in a closet by abusive parents.
Catholic priest prophesies
restoration in 1739
This is one of the oldest of the LDS "urban legends." One variation of
the statement says, "The following was written by a Catholic priest by the
name of Lutius Gratus. It is in a book called 'Hope Of Zion,' written in the
year 1739. This book can now be found in the library at Basel,
Switzerland." The supposed prophecy tells how the old true gospel is lost,
false doctrine fills the earth, and that an angel will return within a hundred
years to restore the truth, that his followers would build a great city but be
driven out to the shores of a great lake, etc.
Jaredite Barge found in Lake
On January 25, 1999, The Chicago Tribune published an article about a mysterious
object found on the bottom of Lake Michigan. "If one set out with the
preposterous goal of making an oak zeppelin 31 feet long, 10 feet in diameter,
pointed at its ends, complete with an 18-inch hatch to crawl inside, this is
pretty much what they'd get. Those who have strapped on air tanks and visited
the thing say the craftsmanship used to build it is remarkable--four-inch-thick
oak boards bent and fitted together and caulked watertight, like nothing built
today." Many LDS readers were quick to identify the object as a
"Jaredite barge" and messages were circulated wildly around the
Internet - proof of the Book of Mormon!
Neighbor of Elder Nelson converted by Book of Mormon
This message being passed around by many LDS members is titled "REFLECTIONS
OF SAMI HANNA - as recorded by Elder Russell M. Nelson." It purports to be
a first-hand account written by Elder Nelson of his neighbor who was a native
Egyptian, and was asked to translate the Book of Mormon into Arabic (which the
account says is "the original language of the book" - obviously not).
During the process of translation, Hanna was converted by the profound internal
evidences he saw in the book which could not have been written by an American.
St. Louis temple appears to
be on fire
The St. Louis, Missouri temple was dedicated in June 1997. On Sunday, June 1,
1997, at 10:30pm, fire trucks and police vehicles shows up at the temple with
sirens blaring, saying several callers driving by the temple had reported flames
shooting from the top of the temple. According to Internet messages, the
emergency personnel were quietly sent away with an explanation about
"spiritual fire." Many were convinced a divine sign had been shown,
similar to temples of the past.
- Several other
explanations were offered: the vents for the air conditioning system of the
temple are on the roof, and after a long day of work the system was still
putting out considerable humidity. That steam coming from the temple was
either perceived as smoke, or else in the nighttime lights (amber-colored,
according to one report) could have looked like fire. Another similar
explanation is that "there is a steam pipe exhaust near the chiller
towers. If the humidity is just right the cooling tower mists and that
combined with the steam exhaust does put up quite a cloud."
- Editor's note: I wrote this
additional comment for Gems in 1997: "When the Kirtland temple was
dedicated in 1836, there were also reports (from members and non-members
alike) of the temple being on fire. It also happened in Nauvoo on March 15,
1846, and in Salt Lake. In those days, long before air conditioning and
electric lights, it was not so easy to 'explain away' the phenomenon.
Perhaps today, it's more important that for us to FEEL the fire burning in
our hearts than to SEE it burning on the temple. Many who wrote this week
spoke of the outpouring of Spirit that was experienced among the members as
the St. Louis Temple was dedicated. And that's what really matters.
Regardless of what happened on that Sunday evening in St. Louis, all members
of the Church should continue to look to the Temple for light and
inspiration; and should continue to seek for more of the spiritual fire in
our own hearts and lives." (David Kenison, email@example.com)
Oklahoma City building
miraculously spared by tornado
A message about the tornado that hit Oklahoma City in May of 1999 claims:
"Complete subdivisions were blown away, even the asphalt and concrete
streets leaving the ground looking like harrowed fields ready for planting. The
stake center, although in this direct line of destruction, received no damage.
The only other building to remain standing, intact, completely unscathed was the
Bishop's Storehouse." The message goes on to say how experts were astounded
that anything survived, because of the intensity of the storm.
Missionaries called to China
The story goes that a friend's neighbor's son at BYU (or some other third-hand
connection) had a roommate who received a mission call. When they opened the
call, instead of a country, it has a phone number to call in SLC. When the
number is called, the person on the other end turns out to be Pres. Hinckley,
and the young elder is asked if he would be willing to serve a 3-year mission to
Missionaries called home for
Patriarchal Blessings or setting-apart blessings say missionaries will be called
home to fight in World War III - or not be called on a mission at all because of
pending global conflicts.
Steve Martin is LDS
Steve Martin was seen on an interview wearing a CTR ring, and other rumors
indicate that he was secretly baptized a member of the Church.
Atheist trying to disrupt
According to the message: "Atheist Madeline Marray O'Hare [sic], whose
efforts successfully eliminated the practice of Bible reading and prayer in
public schools fifteen years ago, has now been granted a federal hearing in
Washington, D.C. by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on the same
subject. The petition (No. 2493) would ultimately pave the way to stop any
reading of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, on the airwaves of
America. They produced a petition with 287,000 signatures to back the stand. If
this attempt is successful, all Sunday worship services being broadcast, either
by radio or television, will stop!" The note goes on to great lengths to
tell the terrible potential results of the petition.
Janet Reno statement on cults
A statement supposedly made by US Attorney General Janet Reno on a "60
minutes" TV program on June 26, 1994 about "cultists" - the
quotation lists various factors such as a strong belief in the Bible, high level
of giving to a Church, homeschooling of children, accumulating survival foods,
etc. - anyone with some of these qualifications should be viewed as "a
threat" and his family as being worthy of "government
interference." Obviously, all LDS members fit several or more of the
Procter & Gamble's
The message claims the President of Procter & Gamble appeared on the Sally
Jesse Raphael Show on March 1, 1998 and announced that he was in fact closely
tied to the Church of Satan and that much of the company products support the
church. When asked by the hostess if his disclosure would hurt business, he said
there were not enough Christians in the country to make a difference. The
message urges a boycott of all P&G products.
Mail tracking software
This message says that Microsoft has invented a special new software feature
that allows them to track how a message gets forwarded through the internet.
Send this message to everyone you know... we'll all get to go to Disneyland, or
we'll all get a big check in the mail, or every 10th person gets a gift, etc.
There are many notes which have been around the Internet for years, warning that
by opening a certain message, your computer will be infected by a virus, with
all kinds of dire consequences (deleted files, ruined computers, etc.).
There are a number of other
"inspirational" stories being circulated by LDS members. Some of these
are very questionable in origin; some appear to be true but have been modified
or embellished extensively; others may be true but share material which is
inappropriate for a public setting like the Internet. There are plenty of true
inspiring stories we can learn from!
the Birdies" story
This is the story of a boy trapped under a garage door, written by a member in
- The original author of the account has been
contacted and the account verified; their young son did have a remarkable
experience related to the accident. The boy's father shared the story in a
talk which was copied and distributed around the Internet without the
permission and knowledge of the writer. The story has been widely modified
as it has been redistributed, and you can't rely on email copies. We also
feel it contains material that is misleading or inappropriate for this kind
of Internet distribution.
Patriarchal Blessing for Down
The story of a mentally handicapped child given some very unusual promises in a
blessing, then temporarily having his handicap removed after the blessing.
- Very suspicious - completely undocumented,
no information on the location or time of the events; and the doctrines the
story implies just don't make sense. Also, information given in Patriarchal
Blessings is intended to be personal and private, and not to be shared with
missionary in South America
A missionary of Japanese ancestry was called to serve in Colombia and speak
Spanish though he desperately wanted to go to Japan. At the end of his mission
he meets a Japanese family whom he is able to teach in his native language. He
finds they have a Japanese Book of Mormon given to them by his father many years
- Nice story, but no verification - if anyone
knows about a valid source for this, please let us know. (The story
bears vague resemblance to the experiences of Masakazu Watabe, a missionary
of Japanese heritage who served a mission in Brazil.)
Japanese pilot tries to bomb
During WWII, a Japanese fighter pilot is unable to bomb the Hawaii temple, and
later joins the Church after seeing a picture of the temple.
- Again, a nice story with no verification.
This one is hotly contested; many people claim they know for sure it is
true. But we have seen NO convincing documentation.