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Mormon Discussion: 316: Elder Holland – Liar Liar Pants on Fire

Today we explore Elder Holland.  First I discuss the personal relationship Elder Holland and I have/had.  The trouble is once the biased lens of Mormonism was shed from my eyes I began to realize something else about Elder Holland which is that he seems to be deceptive and flat out lying on multiple occasions.  And often about small things that seemed to indicate a person who easily decides and chooses to exaggerate and deceive.  We review five examples in this episode and some of this are absolutely demonstrable.

1.) Elder Holland claims to hold the very copy of the book of Mormon that Bethsheba, Hyrum Smith’s wife, had in her possession from which Hyrum Smith the prophets brother read to her and had turned the corner of the page down from where he read.  The problem is that the copy Elder Holland holds up in his hand at General conference is distinctly different from the copy in the Church History department claimed to be the same book.
Safety for the Soul conference Talk

2.) Elder Holland when asked about the Church’s contribution to Prop 8 says that the Church did not give “One Red Cent” to the fight against Same Sex Marriage in California.  Problem is it gave a reported amount of almost $200,000.  Some want to debate over whether it was cash or in kind donations but to battle over rhetoric seems to be a sly way to find a loophole.

3.) Elder Holland tells a faith promoting story about a missionary who out on his mission is led by the spirit to his older brother who had severed his relationship with his family years earlier.   Elder Holland had told this story for years and other General Authorities before him had shared it.    The problem is the story was a false faith promoting narrative.  Each telling contained different contradicting details and too far fetched too believe of a story-line.  Soon after the Deseret News picked up on the story, the far fetched details began to be questioned by critical thinking Mormons and Elder Holland through the Deseret News and Church PR quickly distanced himself from the story.  But even his side of how he came to learn the story was inaccurate is problematic.
–  Cache of Original Story
Radio Free Mormon Episode detailing the deception
Bill Reel’s questioning the validity before Elder Holland’s retraction

4.) Elder Holland when asked directly whether Mitt Romney would have made penalty oaths in the temple answers NO.  Problem, such is a flat out lie.
Youtube Clip showing the lie
Jonathon Streeter’s dissection of this event

5.) Elder Holland in a Regional meeting claims that the Church is growing in such a rate that it is creating Double Digit NEW Stake creation “every week of our lives”.  The Problem is that the Church every year tells us the number of stakes in the Church at year end of the previous year.  Elder Holland made this claim in early 2015 And from 2015 through 2017 the church consistently averaged 1.6 new stakes per week.  This makes a fifth lie with this one being deeply demonstrable.
The Youtube video of his claim
Apologetic response – The owner of this blog is trying to reconcile the claim and as you will see relies on anectdotal data as he struggles to have any real source for the claim further showing how much of a stretch the claim is
Conversation by Bill Reel searching for a way to reconcile this issue
Data exploration on this issue
Bill Reel Facebook post on such

In conclusion one is left with their jaw on the floor trying to figure out why Elder Jeffrey R Holland is an habitual liar.


21 thoughts on “Mormon Discussion: 316: Elder Holland – Liar Liar Pants on Fire”

  1. But, but, They above all as Top Leaders are honest in their dealings, and they surely sustain Christ and all His unchanging truths, above all. How dare you question Their Keys, Power and Authority?

    1. Questions are honored, but not answered my friend. I’m afraid you are out of line, please fall back to your rank and file. There is nothing wrong with us, you are that one that is in error and lying around here. Just ask your spouse… I’m sure she or he has caught you lying plenty of times.

      Our leader’s are at par with Christ, and therefore the holy exceptions.

  2. When you speak about the letter v spirit of the law, I immediately went back in my memories about “levi-loving” v sex.

    Now, sex defined here: “chiefly with reference to people) sexual activity, including specifically sexual intercourse” is definitely different from “levi-loving” in which no intercourse is consummated. However, due to the spirit of the law, if either party climaxes then they are disciplined as if they had sex.

  3. A truly dumb set of criticisms.
    *Of course he isn’t taking the actual book out of protection for GC – he uses an example – but the original is still in our/his possession
    *When offering statistical estimates, its normal and natural and mathematically correct to “round up” rather than 1.6.
    *Mitt does not make penalty oaths – no one does. The reference is to what now happens. And temple covenants are nobodies business.
    *Holland has made full disclosure about the mistaken story.
    Perhaps you would do well to read again the story of Abraham and how he referred to his wife as his sister. Or Peter in his denials. Did these disqualify these great prophets.

      1. No Bill, Randall makes a good point! It’s mathematically correct when offering statistical estimates to round up 625% of the fractional number. I mean seriously man… why would someone ever think to round up to “2” from “1.6” when clearly the course is to round up to at least “10” and possibly “100 while we are at it!”

        I really don’t get why the believing members of the Church feel a need to attack very blatant truths that the “Brethren” are using white lies to shift their narrative. But I guess at the end of the day, there are people who have seen Big Foot and UFO’s that will stop at nothing to defend that testimony as well…

  4. Another way that he was intentionally deceptive about Prop 8 was that members who donated were heavily pressured by their leaders. My father was among those asked to donate by his stake president, who had singled out people who could “afford it.” He asked my father alone to donate $25,000, in the names of women in his life. He donated in my mother’s name, my grandmother’s name, and my own name. Because I father was asking my permission to donate in my name (I was impressionable and active Mormon at the time), he told me the background. The stake president had told him that it was a special assignment from the prophet (thus, God). The whole thing was deceitful at the time, and is deceitful now. Why donate in the name of women? So it looks less like rich religious white men were trying to control politics, like has historically been the case. It was dirty. Sickening. Mormons believe in a prophet who talks to God. If that prophet pressures them to donate to a cause that will “save the world,” of course they’re going to. The church is directly responsible for those “personal” donations by members.

    There is more bullsh*t going on than I even knew when I left the church. I had no idea it was so blatant.

  5. Lies? A lie needs to be deliberate, with an intent to deceive.

    There is zero intent to deceive with any of these answers or stories.

    What on earth would his motive be to lie about a statistic, a book, a story, donations. There is no personal gain and there is nothing that would reflect negatively on the church.

    1. Lying is intentionally deceiving others. Bearing false witness is one form of lying. The Lord gave this commandment to the children of Israel: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16). Jesus also taught this when He was on earth (see Matthew 19:18). There are many other forms of lying. When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying. We can also intentionally deceive others by a gesture or a look, by silence, or by telling only part of the truth. Whenever we lead people in any way to believe something that is not true, we are not being honest.

      There. I took it from the Gospel Principles, Chapter 31. “When we speak untruths, we are guilty of lying.” Or is it not applicable to Q15?

    2. Ricky, are you serious? You imply that the deceptions listed were somehow accidental. Holland is well aware of the factual information that he twisted in every example. The motive is obviously positive PR for the church. In reality, Mitt Romney DID enact violent penalty oaths in the temple. I frequented the temple myself pre-1990 so my knowledge of that is first-hand. The church does indeed place extraordinary pressure on members to take certain political actions. When I was a young voter I cast my ballots exactly as my bishop told me to, and Laurel’s comment above is quite enlightening. As for stats, the church uses them to build excitement in members and to paint the organization with legitimacy to outsiders. I remember growing up how thrilled we all were whenever a new membership milestone was announced. 1.6 new stakes per week seems like a pretty decent growth rate to me, so you tell me why Elder Holland saw fit to exaggerate that number to such an extent. Maybe by now the deception is just a habit. These may not seem problematic to those currently committed to supporting the brethren no matter what, but to the eyes of the rest of the world they send up serious red flags.

  6. Elder Holland has great hair, especially for a man in his 80s. However, he’s gotta do something about those jowels! He’s look like a Beagle dog. Maybe a Shar Pei! Too much damn skin on that face. A little “nip and tuck” would be nice.

  7. Pingback: Using excommunication to cover sins and win arguments | a re-turning

  8. Bill, however deserving it might be to call out this favorite apostle and hold him up to the B.S. meter, I can’t help but wonder if you might have been a bit too unsparing in parts of your delivery. I’m thinking specifically about the blog page with the ‘LIAR’ label stamp on Holland’s picture and then drawing the conclusion that “Elder Jeffrey R. Holland is (a) habitual liar”.

    Like so many of your podcasts before, I truly appreciated the honest, bold and intelligent speak. However, this time, I found myself not wanting to link to the blog page and so linked directly to the podcast audio file instead. I make this mention to point out my lack of feeling completely comfortable with those parts of the page’s content. My concern was that any members who I thought would check out my link would likely be immediately turned off by the labels and for that reason not bother to listen to the podcast, which I had more confidence in.

    That being said, I realize that the Church, to some extent, thrives on creating the illusion that it is the fountain from which springs constant truth and nothing but. And while I can credit Church leaders for dispersing a great deal of healthy truth, there is enough B.S. mixed in that I applaud your boldness in tackling some of it head-on. Unfortunately, I think too many members are more concerned about keeping the 15 men at the top on the pedestal, than they are about looking deeper for the truth. Those members who might be fond of proclaiming that “truth is truth, even if no one believes it”, it seems are not as prepared to fully accept that “a lie is a lie, even if everyone believes it…”


    Elder Holland issued the following statement Monday:

    “A few weeks ago when speaking to new mission presidents at the Missionary Training Center, I shared a story about two brothers, just as I heard it from individuals who knew the family and had heard it recounted by a family member. Within a few days, my office was contacted by the family, who expressed concern that some elements of that account were not accurate due to embellishing by a family member.

    “There are inspiring and important missionary lessons in this story. The older brother did indeed leave his home and his family and for many years pursued the lifestyle I described in my talk. During these years his parents lovingly tried to maintain contact, prayed faithfully for him and even sent local leaders to seek after him. However, at the time his younger brother was called to serve as a missionary, the older brother had already returned to Idaho. With the help of missionaries there, he started the difficult and courageous process of changing his life. In time, he would return to full activity and be sealed in the temple, and he would also have a son who would serve a mission.

    “As a courtesy to me the family contacted my office, wanting me to be aware of the inaccurate parts of the story and offering their help in avoiding any perpetuation of those elements in the account I heard. I am deeply touched by their humility and courage in doing so, and as an equal courtesy to them, I am withdrawing the story completely and request that it not be shared further.”

  10. Church historians also believe that the copy of The Book of Mormon Elder Holland held is the book Hyrum had at Carthage.

    “To ensure the book’s preservation, it is stored in prescribed conditions and removed very rarely. Those who handle it usually wear gloves.

    When Elder Holland wanted to use the book in his General Conference address, he asked church historians how he should handle the aging text. Because gloves can make hands less nimble, sometimes leading to accidental tears, Elder Holland was simply told to make sure his hands were clean, said Richard E. Turley Jr., assistant church historian and recorder.

    The book is exquisite — leather-bound with gold filigree on its edges and stamped into its cover and sides. But it’s the inside that is truly incredible, said Turley, who is considered an expert on the book.

    In the front cover are the names of those who have owned the book since it was printed in Liverpool, England, in 1841. On one side of the back cover, there are signatures of LDS Church leaders, including Heber J. Grant, James E. Talmage and Orson F. Whitney. On the other is an account written by Hyrum’s son, Joseph F. Smith, of his father’s last days.

    Inside the book, page 610 remains as marked by Hyrum Smith the day he and Joseph Smith left for Carthage Jail, where they would later be shot and killed by a mob. In his note on the back cover, Joseph F. Smith, Hyrum’s son who would later become president of the church, said his father took the book from a shelf two or three days before going to Carthage and read the marked passages on the day of his departure.”

  11. A minor issue, if Holland said that the church is growing by 10 a week in 2015 wouldn’t be be referring to the recent few years? What was the average from 2010 to 2015? Heaven forbid he could actually prophesy that 10 stakes would be created over the next 2 years which is what you are implying, that would make him a prophet, seer and revelator. Who claims that he is such? Oh wait, he and the church do.

  12. I searched for this website and podcast because I was impressed with your interview per excommunication at Mormon Stories. During the recorded excommunication proceedings and the MS interview you seemed articulate and perceptive, but this podcast (being my first here) was less inspiring than expected.

    My two cents: Issue #1 meh. #2 This is definitely problematic but what what was the remainder of Holland’s explanation to the question? Did he address the non-monetary contributions? I need more data before squaring this one away. #3 Yes this is a problem but I need more info. Did Holland say he heard it directly from the family? Source? If yes, that is a problem. If he heard it from somewhere else, meh. #4 This is a whopper and probably the most damning of your points, but he does backpedal a bit so I would give him a tiny amount of latitude. But yeah, this is a biggie. #5 You can’t hold Holland responsible for what happened several years after his remarks. What is the data from the years previous to and the months immediately after his statements?

    What do you think about this?

    1. Mellon – Keep listening – bill reel is a cool Kat.

      You state Meh on a few – ok. Here’s the thing though from my perspective there’s a list of issues. Sure when you look at each one in a vacuum – meh. But when you can discuss a list of issues as a dinner conversation there is more to it. #3 is more of a problem for me for a few reasons [dig into the references] he is not the original of the story, he spreads it like wildfire, the retraction was as they say in newspaper was buried on page 16 – meaning the retraction was not to the same extent as the presentation. Stories told in GenCon find there way to statement boards in livingrooms and bedrooms. I think his retraction was weak sauce. #4 No latitude – he was cornered – he didn’t want to acknowledge the penalties. #5 have you watched any of the videos of jeffy – I have. I have watched and listened to him. Taffy pulling comment – put it all together and I no longer trust or like that man. He in my opinion has been institutionalized.

      The more and more I see leaders and locals get bent out of shape at those that question or leave the more I am bothered by the institution. I am hearing more and more in talks and F+T meetings statements that coming across as convince those in attendance to stay. Stay on the covenant path. The world is bad. Satan is re-doubling quadrupling his efforts. Stay in the boat. Do the basics. I know’s. Where would you be with out the BoM. Sunk cost.

      If Mormonism is wrong and you realize you burnt 40-60-80 years of your life – that is painful. Sunk cost. I can totally understand doubling down on that. Who wants to find out they spent their whole life climbing a ladder to realize it was leaning on the wrong building. Or to realize they sent their kids up the wrong ladder.

      Like a bad prank played on us – often we think who can I in turn play this joke on. Taste a bad meal – hey come try this, nasty huh? Smell a bad smell, hey smell this – stinks huh?

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