The authors of the fascinating book about Emma Smith, Mormon Enigma were reprimanded for publishing it. They weren’t excommunicated, but they were forbidden to speak in meetings and firesides. Elder Oaks spoke with Linda Newell (one of the authors of Mormon Enigma) as she recounted in her talk at the 1992 Pacific Northwest Sunstone Symposium called “The Biography of Emma Hale Smith”. In a meeting with Elder Oaks regarding her book, he said:
When the authors of Mormon Enigma were censored and forbidden to speak in LDS ward sacrament meetings, one (Linda King Newell) met with Apostle Dallin H. Oaks [p.xliii] about the ban. Oaks was a former Utah Supreme Court justice and past president of Brigham Young University, but his response demonstrates the support of dogma over the search for truth. He said, “My duty as a member of the Council of the Twelve is to protect what is most unique about the LDS church, namely the authority of priesthood, testimony regarding the restoration of the gospel, and the divine mission of the Savior. Everything else may be sacrificed in order to maintain the integrity of those essential facts. Thus, if Mormon Enigma reveals information that is detrimental to the reputation of Joseph Smith, then it is necessary to try to limit its influence and that of its authors.”Linda K Newell, “The Biography of Emma Hale Smith,” 1992 Pacific Northwest Sunstone Symposium, audiotape #J976.
Robert D. Anderson quoting Dallin Oaks, Inside the Mind of Joseph Smith: Psychobiography and the Book of Mormon, Introduction, page xliii, footnote 28
Oaks shows his true colors here in that his main duty as he sees it is to protect the authority and reputation of the church. He sees this as his duty to be performed at all costs, or in his words “everything else may be sacrificed”. He’ll sacrifice honesty, integrity, and transparency in order to make the church look good. That is what he and the other church leaders do too! They don’t concern themselves with being honest or speaking truthfully. They concern themselves with growing the church and making it look good. They will focus on promoting faith rather than the truth.
In all honestly, if Joseph Smith didn’t want to have a bad reputation, he shouldn’t have done so many bad things. Dallin Oaks does not even argue that Mormon Enigma is telling incorrect information about Joseph, just that the correct information makes him look bad. This is the exact same formula Joseph Smith set up with the Nauvoo Expositor. It wasn’t printing anything that was untrue, even though it was dismissed as lies and slander, but in order to “keep the peace” or in other words, to protect the name of the church and the church leaders, namely Joseph Smith, the newspaper press was destroyed. Oaks
In his list of duties, notice that he lists the authority of the priesthood authority first, and last he states Jesus, but only His mission. That pretty much tells you everything. The church leaders today are more pharisee than Christian.
Leaders Sacrifice Truth to Grow the Church
Here are some related quotes that once you put them together, tell a story of lying for the Lord and omission of fact in preference for more faith-promoting narratives. As Elder Oaks says, that is the duty of the church leadership and they will sacrifice anything and everything in order to build the church, or at least the image of the church. Seems like nothing other than idol worship when put in these terms.
If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we don’t have the truth, it ought to be exposed! Unless, of course, the truth makes the church look bad or contradicts leaders.
We are banned from criticizing leaders, even if and when the criticism is true. That makes the church look bad, and that is a cardinal sin.
“We’re as transparent as we know how to be in telling the truth.” This is a veiled admission that they aren’t truthful. They know they aren’t truthful, and they excuse themselves with this apostolic duty to protect the authority of the priesthood (meaning their own authority and position) even if it means sacrificing anything, like truth or transparency. These all follow the same line of supporting dogma over any search for truth.
How does this duty sit with you? Does promoting faith trump telling the truth? Let us know your thoughts in a comment or by joining those who have shared their story by telling your whole mormon faith crisis story on wasmormon.org.