I was one of the copy editors for the Utah Law Review on Oaks's 1965 screed (Oaks, Dallin H. "The Suppression of the Nauvoo Expositor." Utah Law Review 9 (Winter 1965):862-903). Wish I'd checked the Nauvoo charter. Oaks's apology might have gotten bounced! Damn.
It's-the-things-you-don't-do-that-you-regret-ly yours. 03/20/2004 - from Schweizerkind
Elder Dallin H. Oaks?
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles?
CES (Church Education System) Symposium on the Doctrine and Covenants and Church History - 16 August 1985 - Brigham Young University?
"As members of the Church, we have the gift of the Holy Ghost. If we will use our spiritual POWERS of DISCERNMENT, WE WILL NOT BE MISLED by the lies and half-truths Satan will circulate in his attempts to deceive us and to thwart the work of God.'
AND JUST A FEW PARAGRAPHS LATER HE EXPLAINS ALL ABOUT THE HOAX SALAMANDER LETTER OF FRAUDSTER MARK HOFFMAN (LDS Mopolgetics style).
"Another source of differences in the accounts of different witnesses is the different meanings that different persons attach to words. We have a vivid illustration of this in the recent media excitement about the word salamander in a letter Martin Harris is supposed to have sent to W. W. Phelps over 150 years ago. All of the scores of media stories on that subject apparently assume that the author of that letter used the word salamander in the modern sense of a 'tailed amphibian.'"
One wonders why so many writers neglected to reveal to their readers that there is another meaning of salamander, which may even have been the primary meaning in this context in the eighteen twenties. That meaning is listed second in a current edition of Webster's' New World Dictionary is a "spirit supposed to live in fire" (2d College ed. 1982, s.v. "salamander'). Modern and ancient literature contain many examples of this usage.
A spirit that is able to live in fire is a good approximation of the description Joseph Smith gave of the angel Moroni: a personage in the midst of a light, whose countenance was 'truly like lightning" and whose overall appearance "was glorious beyond description" (Joseph SmithŃHistory 1:32). As Joseph Smith wrote later, "The first sight [of this personage] was as though the house was filled with consuming fire" (History of the Church - 4:536). Since the letter purports only to be Martin Harris's interpretation of what he had heard about Joseph's experience, the use of the words white salamander and old spirit seem understandable."
Dallin Oaks married when he was just 19 years old (after his freshman year at BYU), and his wife was 17 or 18 (and, I think, had just graduated from Provo High). They had their first child less than 9 months later (I think around 8 or 8 and half months). I'm not saying they 'had to' get married, but ....
Also, Oaks is an anomly among the apostles. He never served a mission, and never served as a bishop, stake president, or mission president (this is VERY rare among current GA's).
Speculation regularly arises, particularly at General Conference time, as to who may eventually ascend, by its death-defying ritual of musical chairs, to the presidency of the Mormon Church when Gordon B. Hinckley passes from the scene.
In some quarters, anxious note has been made that Apostle Boyd K. Packer may one day take the helm of the LDS Church.
One of Packer's biggest fans--at least for public consumption--has been fellow apostle Dallin H. Oaks.
Indeed, Oaks has spoken in glowing adulation of Packer, solemnly citing, for example, the senior apostle on what it means to supposedly receive divine "revelation. "
In a BYU devotional sermon under the title, "Revelation," Oaks said:
"I am going to speak this morning about revelation. Revelation is communication from God to man. It can occur in many different ways. Some prophets, like Moses and Joseph Smith, have talked with God face to face. Some persons have had personal communication with angels. Other revelations have come . . . 'through the dreams of sleep or in the waking visions of the mind' . . . In its more familiar forms, revelation or inspiration comes by means of words or thoughts communicated to the mind . . . by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action, or even by inspiring performances, as in the performing arts, the beautiful music we heard at the beginning of this devotional assembly being a notable example. "As Elder Boyd K. Packer has stated, 'Inspiration comes more as a feeling than as a sound' ("Prayers and Answers," Ensign, November 1979, p. 19)."
Moreover, according to Mormon sources who have been present at public events to witness Oaks' ingratiating and insincere hero worship, Oaks has bent over backwards in offering super-sweetened salutations to Packer in Packer's presence, heaping exceptionally high (some might say exceptionally obnoxious) praise on Oaks' senior partner in the Quorum of the Twelve.
If folks only knew.
Oaks has not always referred to Packer in such adoring terms--at least not in closed-door conversations.
Not only has Oaks criticized Packer behind Packer's back, he has then lied about his private attacks on Packer in public interviews with the press.
What Oaks really thinks of Packer (and then the extraordinary efforts Oaks has gone to in efforts to lie and cover up about Packer's abuse of ecclestiastical power) are detailed in Steve Benson's published account of private conversations Benson had with Oaks in September 1993, shortly before Benson left the Mormon Church.
Below are excerpts from Benson's note-taking encounter with Oaks:
In an on-the-record interview with a newspaper reporter, [Oaks] blatantly misrepresented the truth about Boyd K. Packer's involvement in the excommunication of Salt Lake author, Paul Toscano--who had attracted scowling Church attention for, among other things, suggesting that members need not perpetuate a Cult of Personality by standing up when when General Authorities walked into the room.
Oaks had shared the details of Packer's involvement with [Benson] in a . .. "confidential" meeting on September 24, 1993 (also attended by [fellow apostle Neal] Maxwell). There, Oaks confessed that Packer had inappropriately injected himself into local Church action against Toscano, in the process violating Church disciplinary procedures and opening the Church up to a possible lawsuit from Toscano.
Referring to Packer as the source of these headaches, a frustrated Oaks told [Benson] "You can't stage manage a grizzly bear." When subsequently asked by the media about rumors that Packer had worked behind the scenes to get Toscano excommunicated, Oaks claimed ignorance and denied that Packer could ever do such a thing. . . .
[Further details from the same account of Oaks' true feelings about Packer follow here]:
A question [Benson] posed to Oaks and Maxwell in the September 24, 1993, meeting concerned reports that Apostle Boyd K. Packer had been behind the excommunication of Paul James Toscano, a local Salt Lake City attorney, author and outspoken advocate for women's rights.
To understand the context of the question, it is necessary to review events at the time, as reported in the press.
Packer's suspected entanglement in the excommunication of Toscano became a subject of extensive media coverage in the fall of 1993. Toscano was excommunicated from the Mormon Church on September 19,1993, "for writing and speaking publicly about church doctrine, feminism, the state of the faith's leadership and other issues."
At the stake high council disciplinary hearing that ultimately sealed his fate, attention was focused on a Sunstone symposium speech Toscano had recently delivered, entitled, "All Is Not Well in Zion: False Teachings of the True Church," in which Toscano was alleged to have made derogatory comments . . . about general authorities." ("LDS Apostle Denies Ordering Dissident's Excommunication," Associated Press, 11 October 1993, sec, D, p. 1ff; and "Six Intellectuals Disciplined for Apostasy," Sunstone, November 1993, p. 66).
With the Mormon Church having recently disciplined the infamous "September Six" for activities relating to scholarship and feminism, speculation was rampant that Packer had been "behind the church's recent crackdown on dissidents."
That assessment proved to be well-founded. Five months earlier, Packer had warned a gathering of LDS bureaucrats that some Mormons "influenced by social and political unrest are being caught up and led away" by "the gay-lesbian movement, the feminist movement, as well as the ever-present challenge from the so-called scholars or intellectuals." ("Cartoonist Says Oaks Lied To Protect Fellow Apostle," Vern Anderson, Associated Press, in Salt Lake Tribune, 12 October 1993, sec. B, p. 1ff; and Boyd K. Packer, "Talk to the All-Church Coordinating Council," transcript, 18 May 1993, pp. 3, 4)
Packer, however, vehemently denied that he had been behind the banishment of Toscano. Specifically, he insisted he had not directed Toscano's stake president, Kerry Heinz, to convene a disciplinary council against him. While admitting to having met with Heinz to discuss Toscano, Packer assured the press, "We talked doctrine and philosophy. I absolutely did not instruct him to hold a disciplinary counsel and did not then, nor have I ever, directed any verdict. By church policy, that is left entirely to local leaders. When he [Heinz] left, I did not know what he would do." ("Cracks in the temple: Mormon unity in peril," Paul Brinkley-Rogers, The Arizona Republic, 10 October 1993, sec. A, p 1ff)
Packer further revealed to the Church-owned Deseret News that his decision to meet with Heinz had been made through a lower-ranking Church middleman. Contrary to Oaks' claim to me in our September 24th meeting that Packer had independently strayed outside approved channels of authority, Packer insisted that, in fact, he had been advised by "the brethren" to meet with Toscano's stake president.
Said Packer, "Even though general authorities of the church are free to contact or respond to local leaders on any subject, I felt there may be some sensitivity about his request. The brethren felt I could not very well decline to see a stake president. I therefore consented." ("Packer Says He Was Concerned by Request for Meeting, But Apostles Endorsed It," Associated Press, in Salt Lake Tribune, 17 October 1993, sec. B, p. 1ff)
Toscano was not persuaded by Packer's explanations. Reacting to Packer's admission of meeting with Heinz, Toscano said, "I knew all along that Boyd Packer was behind it. He's behind all this." ("Grandson of President Asks To Be Removed From LDS Church Rolls," Jennifer Skordas, Salt Lake Tribune, 11 October 1993, sec. D, p. 1ff)
In [Benson's] meeting with Oaks and Maxwell, [Benson] specifically asked if Packer had, in fact, been involved behind the scenes in the excommunication process against Toscano.
Oaks confirmed that Packer had.
Oaks told [Benson] he was "distressed and astonished" over Packer's decision to meet with Heinz, even though he said Heinz was the one who had called Packer and asked "for the meeting." Oaks said it was "a mistake" on Packer's part to have agreed to meet with Heinz, the latter whom Oaks described as "an old seminary man." (Packer had come up with Heinz through the ranks of the Church education system).
Oaks told [Benson] that, by meeting with Heinz, Packer had gone outside the bounds of his assigned responsibility. Oaks said one of his own areas of expertise was in legal affairs. Maxwell noted that one reason Oaks had been brought into the Quorum of the Twelve was to help rewrite the manual on Church disciplinary procedure. Oaks expressed concern that Packer's involvement with Heinz might lead Toscano "to sue the Church" over violation of his ecclesiastical procedural rights.
In the end, Oaks, with a note of resignation in his voice, said of Packer, "You can't stage manage a grizzly bear." . . .
[Additonal background on Oaks' public lies about Packer is further noted below]:
In early October, 1993, [Benson] accompanied Arizona Republic reporter Paul Brinkley-Rogers to Salt Lake City to assist him in making contacts with LDS leaders, spokesmen, educators and critics for a story on the recent purge of Church dissidents, notably, the "September Six."
On October 1, Brinkley-Rogers met for a prearranged, on-the-record, taped Q&A session with Oaks in his Salt Lake City Church office to discuss, among other things, recent Church action against the dissenters. [Benson] had not arranged the interview and did not join the reporter in it, as I[Benson] did not think it would be appropriate for [him] to do so. Moreover, prior to the interview, IBenson] did not speak to Brinkley-Rogers about what Oaks and Maxwell had told [Benson] concerning the Packer/ Toscano matter in [Benson's] meeting with them on September 24th.
At the conclusion of the interview, [Benson] picked Brinkley-Rogers up outside the Church Administration Building and asked how it went. He put the tape into the rental car cassette deck and pushed the "play" button. What [Benson] heard astounded --and angered-- [him].
Much of what Oaks had dished up for public consumption directly contradicted what he had told [Benson] in private. [Benson] was immediately aware of the bind that Oaks had put [him] in. He had lied to a reporter about events which he had described to [Benson] in much different terms. [Benson had no choice but to tell the reporter at that point that Oaks was attempting to pull a fast one on him.
So, there in a rental car in Salt Lake City, for the first time, [Benson] revealed what Oaks had shared with [him] in [their] September 24th meeting, pointing out the contradictions to what [Benson] had just heard on the tape. (see "Cracks in the temple: Mormon unity in peril," Paul Brinkley-Rogers, Arizona Republic, 11 October 1993, sec. A, p. 1ff) . . .
During the next five days, [Benson] privately struggled with how to publicly deal with Oaks' blatant dishonesties. [He] was torn between remaining quiet (thereby preserving a confidentiality agreement) or setting the record straight (thereby exposing Oaks' act of calculated deception). [He] spoke at length with [his] wife, friends, and colleagues--seeking advice and weighing [his] options. . . .
[Benson] finally decided to follow [his] gut--and [his] conscience. Oaks' misrepresentations--indeed, his out-and-out lies--prompted [Benson] to fax him a letter a few days after the interview.
It read as follows:
"6 October 1993
Elder Dallin Oaks
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
47 East South Temple
Salt Lake City, Utah 84150
"PERSONAL AND CONFIDENTIAL"
"Dear Elder Oaks:
"I wish to share with you my concerns relative to our private conversation in the office of Elder Maxwell on September 24th, in relation to your subsequent comments to Arizona Republic reporter Paul Brinkley-Rogers on October 1st."
"In our September 24th meeting, I asked you if Kerry Heinz, Paul Toscano's stake president, had had any contact with, or received any instruction from, Elder Boyd K. Packer during the time leading up to Paul Toscano's excommunication. According to my notes taken during our discussion, you acknowledged that Elder Packer met with President Heinz prior to the rendering of judgment by the stake disciplinary council. You said that President Heinz was 'an old seminary man' and friend of Elder Packer during their days together in the church seminary system and that President Heinz 'called and asked for a meeting' with Elder Packer."
"You told me that you were 'distressed and astonished' that Elder Packer met with President Heinz. Referring to Elder Packer, you observed that 'you can't stage manage a grizzly bear.' You opined that 'it was a mistake for Packer to meet with Heinz and a mistake for Heinz to ask for the meeting."
"You further acknowledged that you later talked directly to Elder Packer and told him that you felt it was wrong and violated church disciplinary procedure for Elder Packer to have been in contact with President Heinz. You said that Elder Packer had no authority or responsibility to participate in such contact and you told me that you strongly urged Elder Packer not to engage in such contact in the future. You added that you fully expected Paul Toscano 'to sue' the church over this breach of procedural authority. "
"In contrast to what you told me in private, your public statements concerning the Toscano excommunication process and any participation of Elder Packer in it presented a far different picture. Mr. Brinkley-Rogers asked you: 'In the case of Toscano . . . do you have any evidence that Elder Packer [was] involved in any way in the decision-making process in the disciplining of [him]?"
"You responded: 'As for Elder Packer, Elder Packer does not have a specific responsibility for any area in the church . . . So, if Elder Packer is having any conversation with Kerry Heinz, it is outside the normal channel. That's all I can say. I have no knowledge of whether he did. But if he, and if he gave a directed verdict or anything like that, that is contrary to policy, it is irregular and it's contrary to what I know of Elder Packer and the way he operates. Elder Packer is not the least bit inclined to shrink from saying things like in the talk you saw [to the All-Church Coordinating Council, 18 May 1993]. He is a forthright, plain-spoken man, but Elder Packer is far too sophisticated and sensitive a man to call a stake president and tell him what he has to do in a church discipline case. I just don't believe that. What's possible is that a stake president might think he had heard such a thing; nobody can dismiss that possibility . . . that kind of slippage happens in communication. But Elder Packer has no, Elder [Loren C.] Dunn has a natural communications link, though an outdated one; Elder Packer does not. So, that's all I know about that at this point."
"Frankly, I find the differences between what you told me and what you told the press to be irreconcilable and ethically troubling. First, by couching your answer to the question of Elder Packer's conversation with President Heinz in the hypothetical, you falsely imply, it seems to me, that you do not know whether he did talk with President Heinz. Second, contrary to what you told me, you explicitly said to the reporter that, in fact, you were not aware if any conversations took place between Elder Packer and President Heinz. Third, your assertion that for Elder Packer to have talked with President Heinz goes against your knowledge of Elder Packer's modus operandi is contradicted by your admission to me that you knew that Elder Packer had talked to him and that you later talked with Elder Packer about it. Fourth, your blanket denial of knowing anything beyond what you told the reporter is completely undermined, I feel, by what you told me."
"In other words, you have told the truth in private about the Packer-Heinz meeting, while denying the truth in public."
"When you asked that I keep our conversation confidential, I assumed that anything you might subsequently say for the record on the matter would be at least honest, if not complete. However, what you said in public varies significantly from the facts as you laid them out to me. It appears that you have asked me not to publicly divulge our conversation in your hope that my initial agreement to remain silent would keep the accuracy of your public utterances from being challenged."
"I have concluded that to remain silent is unacceptable. It would be a cowardly and dishonest act. It would be analogous to having an individual come to me and say, 'Just between us, I killed my wife,' then turn around and tell the press that the next-door neighbor did it. I would have the clear moral obligation to set the record straight, since refusal to act would do violence to the truth and make me an accessory to the crime."
"I will not be a party to a cover-up. Your request for confidentiality, I believe, has been superceded by the fact that you have lied in public, contrary to the facts as you know them, and that your hope of confidentiality rests on maintaining the deception. It has been observed that 'a lie is like a blanket of snow. It may cover unpleasantness for a time but, sooner or later, must melt, exposing that which was hidden."
"To participate in this fraud would only serve to erode trust and destroy relationships."
"I would hope that you would feel it right to publicly set the record straight. Mr. Brinkley-Rogers' phone number is 602-271-8137. If you choose not to do so within the next 24 hours, I will have no choice but to undertake that obligation myself."
"Steve Benson" . . .
Hell hath no fury like a cover blown.
Oaks responded quickly, calling [Benson's] home the same afternoon he received the fax, in an attempt to reach [him] . [Benson's] daughter, Audrey--six years old at the time--answered the phone, as Mary Ann simultaneously picked up the line on the other end and listened.
"Is your father there?" asked Oaks, in a stern, angry voice.
"No," Audrey replied meekly, "He's at work." . . .
Oaks did not have [Benson's] office phone number but he had the reporter's, since [Benson] had given it to him. (Oaks needed to do his explaining to the person he had lied to in the interview, not to [Benson]).
Oaks left a message with Brinkley-Rogers, who returned the call that evening, reaching Oaks at home through the Church switchboard operator (CSO).
Below is the full transcript of the ensuing conversation between Oaks (O) and Brinkley-Rogers (BR), taped by Brinkley-Rogers (which he later allowed [Benson] to audio-copy and which copy is currently in [Benson's possession). It is reported here with permission of Brinkley-Rogers.
CSO (choir music in the background): "LDS Church Offices."
BR: "Yes, good evening. Uh, this is Paul Brinkley-Rogers calling from Phoenix."
BR: "Concerning Dallin Oaks' call. He asked me to call the switchboard."
CSO: "Yes. Just a moment, please, while I"--
BR: "Thank you. Thanks a lot."
CSO: "Go ahead, please."
BR: "Thank you."
O: "Hello, Mr. Brinkley-Rogers."
BR: "Good evening, Mr. Oaks. How are you?"
O: "Thanks for calling back."
BR: "Well, thanks for calling me."
O: "Let me put the robe on and go in another room, where I can be comfortable."
BR: "OK, sure."
O: "Thank you for calling back."
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "Somebody has called me a liar and I don't like to (inaudible) to that on a charge like that."
BR: "Oh, all right. How did that happen?"
O: "Uh, well, let me explain. I received a very disturbing letter from Steve Benson."
O: "He compares what I said to him in a confidential setting, relating to Church issues, with a transcript of the interview that I had with you"--
O: --"and accused me of lying."
O: "And I'm a truthful man and I care for my integrity and, uh, and I, I take no, uh, no little, uh, concern for something like this."
O: "Before I talk with you about it, let me ask you a question"--
O: --"so you'll understand why I need to ask that before I speak about this."
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "What I would like to know is the relationship between you and Steve Benson in this matter. Specifically, was Steve on a reconnaissance for you when he asked about two weeks ago for a Church interview and came into an interview, in an ecclesiastical setting, which is the occasion of this comparison?"
BR: "No, I, I had no idea that he even did that."
O: "I didn't think so."
O: "Uh, let me ask a follow-up question."
O: "Uh, is, are you involved in any kind of an effort that Steve is now making to extort information from me--and I use the word 'extort,' uh"--
O: --"to extort information from me in behalf of you?"
BR: "No. I'm not aware of any such thing."
O: "Now, he had, the reason I had to ask that is that he had the manuscript that was our interview."
O: "And he was comparing that with notes he'd made earlier when he had a conversation"--
BR: "Oh, I see. No, I played the tape for Steve of, uh, our interview, you know, after the interview and I noticed that he looked sort of surprised by it."
O: "OK, well, then, I, I take that at face value."
BR: "All right."
O: "And, and you, what I'm going to tell you why, I, uh, oh, why I was aroused by this."
O: "Now, I assume, as I told you at the time, that you're a professional journalist"--
O: "I assume, I take The Arizona Republic at, at face value. Uh, uh, it seems to me like it's been very professional and, and I deal with you in that light."
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "And I assume that neither you nor The Republic want to be used in Steve's grievances against, and controversies with, his Church"--
O: --"that are rather considerable, uh, uh, controversy with his Church."
O: "I was trying to do, to deal with that in having a confidential interview with him."
O: "And now he, he has drawn in this letter to me, he's drawn these two things together"--
O: "And I'd rather deal with you separately"--
BR: "You mean this conversation with you, uh, compared"--
O: "His conversation with me"--
BR: --"compared with the tape?"
O: "Compared with the tape, and that's, uh, what I'd like to do, is deal separately with you."
O: "And I assume that you don't want to get involved with Steve's controversies with his Church."
O: "I assume that that's part of your professional approach to this and if I, if I can deal separately with you, independent of Steve Benson"--
O: --"then it's, then it's much easier for me to (inaudible) my problems."
BR: "All right, so let's go ahead on that basis."
O: "OK, good. Now, when (cough) I received this letter from Steve, which was, uh, a very accusatory letter"--
O: --"and, uh, I presume that you don't know about its contents"--
O: "But when I received this letter, which I did this afternoon about 5 o'clock"--
O: --"I got the transcript out and reviewed it very carefully, the transcript of my interview with you."
O: "When I did that, I saw one sentence in my interview with you--and only one sentence--that I would say overstated the truth."
O: "And that sentence I want to correct."
BR: "All right, sir. Fine."
O: "And I am sorry for it, but in a, in a, our, our interview was 60 minutes long and, you know, I was shooting from the hip (inaudible) along"--
O: --"and it was one of those things, which called to my attention, is inaccurate and I want to correct it."
BR: "All right."
O: "The, the, the only thing I can see that I want to correct."
BR: "OK, sir."
O: "And this is a, is a, uh, oh, about one-fourth of the circumstances that, uh, that, uh, Steve cites in his letter, because I looked, uh, I looked at the others and, and, uh, I think that, uh, I, I don't, uh, feel any necessity under my commitment to integrity to make any change in what I said."
O: "But in this one instance, I do."
O: "The sentence is, is toward the end of the interview."
O: "It is the, the last paragraph of the interview."
O: "I'm looking at the transcript that was made from the recording when made here."
O: "It's, uh, it's in this talk about the Kerry Heinz matter"--
BR: "All right."
O: "And the sentence is this, about having a conversation: 'So, if Elder Packer is having any conversation with Kerry Heinz'"--
O: --"'it is outside the normal channel'"--
O: --"'that's all I can say. I have not'—"my transcript says that. It must be 'no'"—'I have no knowledge of whether he did.'"
O: "That's the sentence that should be stricken."
O: "If you'd just strike out, 'I have no knowledge of whether he did'"--
O: --"then I'll stand by the transcript of things that I said to you, but that statement, 'I have no knowledge of whether he did'"--
O: --"was, uh, as I looked back on the transcript, I think that's inaccurate and I want to withdraw that."
BR: "All right. Now, um, I guess my question is, do, do you have knowledge that he did that, in that case?"
BR: "Is that what we're getting to here?"
O: "Let me just, uh, let me just say this"--
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "Uh (clears throat), when I met with Steve Benson"--
O: --"Uh, I was trying to help Steve Benson in a matter, a Church matter, that does not concern the subject of our interview."
O: "In the course of doing that, I spoke to him confidentially and in a privileged relationship"--
O: --"and, uh, I think his letter and the things he says in his letter, abuse that privileged relationship, uh, in a really, uh, well, I'll stop there."
O: "And, and I, uh, [Steve] also says some things in his letter which he may share with you, I don't know"--
O: "But he, he claims to have notes of things that I've said in the, in the conversation with him"--
O: "I don't affirm his notes."
O: "If he shows you a copy of his letter"--
O: --"I certainly don't affirm his notes"--
O: --"and I'm not either admitting or denying things that I, I was speaking there in a privileged relationship and I don't think that it's fair for Steve, uh, nor is it fair for me"--
O: --"to go into a privileged relationship"--
O: --"and for me to affirm or deny his notes, so I, I simply stand silent on what he claims took place"--
O: --"in a privileged conversation and, as a journalist, you'd understand the privilege."
O: "I think his notes are quite self-serving, but that's, that's simply my, my perspective."
O: "But what I am saying is that I just don't choose to go, uh, I don't choose to be—what's the word I'm looking for?—leveraged"--
O: --"into saying anything more than I said to you in the interview by Steve Benson's use of privileged information."
O: "So, to answer your question, I'd say that I just don't choose to affirm or deny."
O: "But I do wish to withdraw a sentence which, as I read it on the transcript, is inaccurate."
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "So, I, if you will do me the favor of striking out that, you do whatever you want with what remains."
BR: "All right, sir."
O: "And I'm glad to defend whatever remains, but I cannot defend that sentence."
BR: "All right. Well, it's clear to me."
O: "All right. And I appreciate that and I appreciate the opportunity of being able to speak to you as a, on a professional basis and I, I must tell you that I make this phone call because it distresses me when somebody claims that I lie."
BR: "All right. Well, all right."
O: "Because I don't do that."
BR: "OK, sir."
O: "Well, I appreciate the opportunity to visit with you and thank you for calling."
BR: "Thanks for calling me."
Don't believe what Oaks says for the cameras about predator prophet-in-waiting Packer.
Behind the scenes, Oaks compares Packer to an animal that is out of control--then turns around and lies in public about what he actually knows about the man.
Oaks certainly knows what side his bread is buttered on.
Introduction: An Apostle's Attitude Toward the Book of Mormon--Feeding
It to the Masses or Commenting About It Behind Closed Doors
Interest has been expressed about what high Mormon Church leaders believe and speak in private about the foundation of their faith, as compared to what they proclaim in public.
Is their public testimony always in agreement with their private observations?
Specifically, what do they say behind closed doors about the Book of Mormon, compared to what they say in public discourse about it?
In answer to that question, let’s look at the case of Mormon Apostle Dallin H. Oaks.
On 9 September 1993, my wife Mary Ann and I met with him and fellow Apostle Neal A. Maxwell in Maxwell’s Salt Lake City Church office, in order to discuss matters of Church doctrine, history and policy.
During the meeting, we took notes. Later the same day, after we had returned to our home in Arizona, we recorded our recollections.
An account of our conversations with Oaks and Maxwell is available at:
Approximately six weeks after our meeting with Oaks and Maxwell--on 29 October 1993—Oaks spoke publicly on the Book of Mormon, in a sermon entitled, “The Historicity of the Book of Mormon," delivered at the annual dinner for the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) in Provo, Utah.
The text of his banquet remarks are available at:
What follows is a compare-and-contrast examination of what Oaks told us about the Book of Mormon in our private meeting with him and Maxwell in the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City, in light of what he publicly told the FARMS audience a few weeks later at their banquet in Provo.
Give note to the similarities and, more interestingly, to the differences between Oaks’ private and public observations on the Book of Mormon--keystone of the Mormon faith.
HISTORICTY OF THE BOOK OF MORMON AND EVIDENCE OF PLAGIARISM
from our meeting with Oaks:
Mary Ann began by explaining to Oaks and Maxwell that she was sincerely trying to do what the Church had admonished its members to do: namely, study the scriptures. She informed them that the more she examined Mormonism's scriptural texts, the more she found contradictions between the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants. Mary Ann informed the two apostles that she was having a difficult time reconciling those contradictions. Therefore, she said, she decided to undertake her own personal study of the Book of Mormon--but from another point of view.
She took out a well-used, paperback copy of the Book of Mormon and showed Oaks and Maxwell what she had done with it. Opening the book and thumbing through its pages, she demonstrated to them how she, in Seminary scripture study cross-referencing style, had color-coded the text for the "Spalding Manuscript," B.H. Roberts' study of parallels between Ethan Smith's View of the Hebrews and the Book of Mormon, the King James text of the Book of Isaiah and the King James text of the New Testament--with particular emphasis on the Book of Mormon timeline from 600 BC to 1 BC, when the words of the New Testament had not yet been written.
She then pointed out to Oaks and Maxwell 17 parallels she had discovered between the lives of the Book of Mormon prophet Alma and the New Testament apostle Paul. She also directed their attention to wording in Alma's letters that was found in exactly the same language as that in Paul's. Mary Ann asked Oaks and Maxwell to explain to her how these things could find their way into the Book of Mormon.
Mary Ann said she noticed how Oaks jumped more eagerly at her question than did Maxwell and how he became quite animated during this portion of the discussion. She also later noted to me that Oaks was, in some ways, "a little condescending" to her.
Oaks told Mary Ann, "Well, you know, as you've thumbed through your book, it only appears to me that 5% of your book has been marked, so I would say don't throw out the 95% because of the 5%. Don't take the 5% that you have serious questions about and cast out the 95% that is unexplained or, as Steve said, divinely inspired." (In point of fact, I did not tell Oaks that I felt 95% of the Book of Mormon was divinely inspired, despite his claim to the contrary). He continued, "It's like being married to our wives. I'm sure there's more than 5% of me that my wife finds disagreement with, but she puts up with it anyway. It's kind of like being married to the Book of Mormon. Don't let your doubts keep you out of the mainstream."
Oaks and Maxwell challenged Mary Ann to read them something from the "Spalding Manuscript" that she felt found parallel in the Book of Mormon. Mary Ann initially chose an example in which Spalding described fortresses and earthen banks defended by spikes placed at intervals apart from one another, in order to prevent arrows from coming through. (She later said to me she wished she had offered a better example. Nonetheless, she felt--and I agreed--that it was a comparison of substance).
Mary Ann showed Oaks a pamphlet authored by Vernal Holley, entitled, "Book of Mormon Authorship: A Closer Look," which laid out, among other things, strikingly parallel word combinations between the "Spalding Manuscript" and the Book of Mormon. Oaks' response was that many of the comparisons were "insignificant" and "almost superficial." He dismissed them as being unimportant, arguing that they reflected general concepts which were typical of the day in which Joseph Smith lived. I replied that I thought the precise ordering of the words in both texts seemed "more than coincidental." Oaks rejected that position. He insisted that the phrases in question represented "common ideas" one could share "across culture and time."
Further, he noted, there was no doctrinal content in the parallels. He asked, "Where's the doctrine? You've only shown me these technical points." I therefore mentioned that the doctrine of polygamy--which was expressly forbidden in the Book of Mormon unless specifically authorized by God--was also the same doctrine found in the "Spalding Manuscript"--namely, that the practice was forbidden unless divine permission was granted. I also pointed out to Oaks the shared centrality between the Book of Mormon and the "Spalding Manuscript" in stories featuring a divine figure (Christ, in the Book of Mormon and Labanska, a great teacher in the "Spalding Manuscript"). I encouraged Oaks to read the "Spalding Manuscript" for himself. Oaks, however, was dismissive of Spalding's work and refused to take the offer seriously. . . .
Oaks asked Mary Ann to demonstrate "another example" of "doctrinal evidence" for plagiarisms in Book of Mormon. Mary Ann turned to Moroni 10, where it speaks of gifts of the spirit (To one is given one gift; to someone else is given another, etc). Mary Ann pointed out to Oaks that, verse for verse--comparing Moroni 10 to First Corinthians 12--the texts were almost exactly the same.
Oaks replied, "That's better," but refused to concede, adding, "Well, it's not word-for-word and it's not the whole chapter."
Mary Ann responded that--it except for some minor variations, such as the phrase, repeated over and over, "and again"--it was, for all intents and purposes, word-for-word. She asked Oaks how he could explain that Moroni used the same language found in the King James version of the Bible, written hundreds of years after the Book of Mormon was recorded.
Oaks replied that he himself had had the same question while preparing a talk on gifts of the spirit, as outlined in the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Mormon and the New Testament. Oaks said he concluded that all three authors were "impressed by the Holy Ghost" to record their thoughts "in this particular manner and in these particular words."
from Oaks' banquet speech:
In these remarks I will seek to use rational argument, but I will not rely on any proofs. I will approach the question of the historicity of the Book of Mormon from the standpoint of faith and revelation. I maintain that the issue of the historicity of the Book of Mormon is basically a difference between those who rely exclusively on scholarship and those who rely on a combination of scholarship, faith, and revelation. Those who rely exclusively on scholarship reject revelation and fulfill Nephi's prophecy that in the last days men "shall teach with their learning, and deny the Holy Ghost, which giveth utterance" (2 Ne. 28:4). The practitioners of that approach typically focus on a limited number of issues, like geography or "horses" or angelic delivery or nineteenth century language patterns. They ignore or gloss over the incredible complexity of the Book of Mormon record. Those who rely on scholarship, faith, and revelation are willing to look at the entire spectrum of issues, content as well as vocabulary, revelation as well as excavation.
BOOK OF MORMON DOCTRINES THAT ARE NOT SUPPOSEDLY THE PRODUCT OF PLAGIARISM, BUT OF DIVINE REVELATION
from our meeting with Oaks:
. . . Oaks offered me [Steve] some counsel of his own. "You ought to go through The Book of Mormon, " he said, "and color in all the differences and emphasize the unique and special teachings of the Book of Mormon that don't have any similarities to other sources." (However, Mary Ann's point for being at the meeting in the first place, as she herself said, was not to talk about or debate differences between the Book of Mormon and Spalding texts; rather, she wanted to get answers regarding their similarities in areas of story lines, exact wording, etc).
from Oaks’ banquet speech:
Scholarship and physical proofs are worldly values. I understand their value, and I have had some experience in using them. Such techniques speak to many after the manner of their understanding. But there are other methods and values, too, and we must not be so committed to scholarship that we close our eyes and ears and hearts to what cannot be demonstrated by scholarship or defended according to physical proofs and intellectual reasoning. . . .
I admire those scholars for whom scholarship does not exclude faith and revelation. It is part of my faith and experience that the Creator expects us to use the powers of reasoning he has placed within us, and that he also expects us to exercise our divine gift of faith and to cultivate our capacity to be taught by divine revelation. But these things do not come without seeking. Those who utilize scholarship and disparage faith and revelation should ponder the Savior's question: "How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?" (John 5:44).
GOD HAS NOT YET PROVIDED FINAL PROOFS AS TO THE TRUTHFULNESS OF THE BOOK OF MORMON
from our meeting with Oaks:
After Oaks and Maxwell presented their respective defenses, Mary Ann again asked them how she should deal with the things she had found in her own Book of Mormon. At this point, Oaks and Maxwell said that the jury was still out.
from Oaks’ banquet speech:
Another way of explaining the strength of the positive position on the historicity of the Book of Mormon is to point out that we who are its proponents are content with a standoff on this question. Honest investigators will conclude that there are so many evidences that the Book of Mormon is an ancient text that they cannot confidently resolve the question against its authenticity, despite some unanswered questions that seem to support the negative determination. In that circumstance, the proponents of the Book of Mormon can settle for a draw or a hung jury on the question of historicity and take a continuance until the controversy can be retried in another forum.
THE WEIGHT OF EVIDENCE FOR AND AGAINST THE BOOK OF MORMON
from our meeting with Oaks:
Oaks and Maxwell, in their final assessment of evidentiary proof concerning the Book of Mormon, admitted to us that the arguments for and against the book were "equal," with neither side being able to prove whether the Book of Mormon was true or untrue. In the ultimate analysis, they told us, the Book of Mormon had to be accepted on faith.
I responded by telling them that I was attempting to examine both sides of the question and was not convinced that the pro-Book of Mormon side had the advantage. To the contrary, I told them that I was inclined to believe the advantage lay with the book's critics. I said that because I did not regard the evidence on the Book of Mormon to be equally balanced, I therefore did not believe I was obligated to accept it on faith. I also expressed the view that if, in fact, there was an evidentiary advantage to one side or the other, that should then allow for the person doing the investigating to make a decision as to Book of Mormon veracity--outside the realm of faith.
Oaks responded by again saying there was no evidence proving or disproving the Book of Mormon. He placed his right hand over his heart and said, "I get this knot, this warm feeling right here, and that is what I go on." Oaks told us that he had a conviction that the Book of Mormon was "true." He said that feeling of truthfulness came from a "personal witness."
from Oaks’ banquet speech:
. . . [I]t is our position that secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon. Its authenticity depends, as it says, on a witness of the Holy Spirit. Our side will settle for a draw, but those who deny the historicity of the Book of Mormon cannot settle for a draw. They must try to disprove its historicity--or they seem to feel a necessity to do this--and in this they are unsuccessful because even the secular evidence, viewed in its entirety, is too complex for that. . . .
Speaking for a moment as one whose profession is advocacy, I suggest that if one is willing to acknowledge the importance of faith and the reality of a realm beyond human understanding, the case for the Book of Mormon is the stronger case to argue. The case against the historicity of the Book of Mormon has to prove a negative. You don't prove a negative by prevailing on one debater's point or by establishing some subsidiary arguments.
FARMS' EFFORTS TO EMPIRICALLY PROVE THE BOOK OF MORMON
from our meeting with Oaks:
. . . Oaks acknowledged that F.A.R.M.S. sometimes gets "hyperactive" in trying to prove that the Book of Mormon is true. He said he becomes concerned when F.A.R.M.S. "stops making shields and starts turning out swords," because, he said, "you cannot prove the Book of Mormon out of the realm of faith." Accepting the Book of Mormon, Oaks said, was ultimately a matter of faith.
from Oaks' banquet speech:
Brothers and Sisters, how grateful we are--all of us who rely on scholarship, faith, and revelation--for what you are doing. God bless the founders and the supporters and the workers of the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies. The work that you do is important, it is well-known, and it is appreciated.
From Dr. Shades website at: http://www.connect-a.net/users/drshades/hofmann.htm
In a classic example of the ludicrous lengths the leadership will go in the quest for damage control, Dallin H. Oaks, a Mormon apostle, even went so far as to claim that the Salamander Letter actually reaffirms Joseph Smith's prophetic claims(!) In the 1985 Church Education System - Doctrine and Covenants Symposium, he stated:
"One wonders why so many writers neglected to reveal to their readers that there is another meaning of 'salamander,' which may even have been the primary meaning. . . That meaning. . . is 'a mythical being thought to be able to live in fire'. . . A being that is able to live in fire is a good approximation of the description Joseph Smith gave of the Angel Moroni. . . the use of the words 'white salamander' and 'old spirit' seem understandable."
One wonders how Elder Oaks felt when he discovered that the entire letter was a mere fabrication.
Dallin Oaks says: "Our individual, personal testimonies are based on the witness of the Spirit, not on any combination or accumulation of historical facts. If we are so grounded, no alteration of historical facts can shake our testimonies." ("1985 CES Doctrine and Covenants Symposium," Brigham Young University, Aug. 16, 1985, page 26)
The link at the end of this post will take you to a small but falsehood-dense essay by Reed C. Durham about this subject (scroll down).
Oaks' position is that the First Amendment didn't apply to the suppression of the Expositor because the doctrine of "incorporation" (which was developed during the New Deal era) wasn't in force at the time. So state and local governments, such as the Nauvoo City Council, weren't bound by the First Amendment.
There are two BIG problems with this defense. First, the Nauvoo Charter (which is available on-line) EXPRESSLY incorporated the U.S. and Illinois State Constitutions, with their respective protections of the freedom of speech, press, assembly, etc. So Oaks' legal argument is a tissue of sheer sophistry.
Second, Oaks and other Morg leaders persist in upbraiding President Van Buren for his statement: "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you," as if this were a cowardly dereliction of duty. But Van Buren was *right*: He could only have intervened in Missouri on the application of the state government for help in quelling an insurrection.
Why is this important? Simple: Oaks' claim that the suppression of the Expositor was constitutional and legal rests on a strict federalist interpretation of the Constitution (allowing for Oaks' dishonest treatment of the Nauvoo Charter). The same is true of Van Buren's infamous statement. So... strict federalism would *justify* mob action BY Mormons, but supposedly wouldn't justify Washington's refusal to quell mob action AGAINST them.
Here is Oaks' comment from the May '96 'Ensign':
"The event that focused anti-Mormon hostilities and led directly to the Martyrdom was the action of Mayor Joseph Smith and the city council in closing a newly established opposition newspaper in Nauvoo. Mormon historians—including Elder B. H. Roberts—had conceded that this action was illegal, but as a young law professor pursuing original research, I was pleased to find a legal basis for this action in the Illinois law of 1844. The amendment to the United States Constitution that extended the guarantee of freedom of the press to protect against the actions of city and state governments was not adopted until 1868, and it was not enforced as a matter of federal law until 1931. (See Dallin H. Oaks, “The Suppression of the Nauvoo Expositor,” Utah Law Review 9 : 862.) We should judge the actions of our predecessors on the basis of the laws and commandments and circumstances of their day, not ours."
A few comments: First, note Oaks' reducing the incident down to a mere "closing" of the newspaper, when in fact, the press was destroyed and type scattered in the street. Thus, Smith committed the crime of destruction of property, at the very least.
Secondly, the press was destroyed without benefit of due process. A hallmark of American justice is that an accused is able to face his opponents in open court, in a fair hearing. That was Smith's second crime.
Thirdly, note how Oaks defended Smith's actions by arguing that there was no specific law against such suppression until 1868! Oaks uses sleazy lawyer-like technicalities to justify the destruction of a man's private property by a city mayor, without benefit of due process.
Oaks' appeal to federal laws is rendered moot by the Illinois law of 1818:
"1818 Illinois State Consitution, (Article VIII) 22. The printing presses shall be free to every person, who undertakes to examine the proceedings of the general assembly or of any branch of government; and no law shall ever be made to restrain the right thereof. The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man, and every citizen may freely speak, write, and print on any subject, being responsible for the abuse of that liberty."
After Smith was arrested, Governor Ford informed him that he brought his problems upon himself by his illegal actions:
"General Smith, I believe you have given me a general outline of the difficulties that have existed in the country, in the documents forwarded to me by Dr. Bernhisel and Mr. Taylor; but, unfortunately, there seems to be a discrepancy between your statements and those of your enemies. It is true that you are substantiated by evidence and affidavit, but for such an extraordinary excitement as that which is now in the country, there must be some cause, and I attribute the last outbreak to the destruction of the 'Expositor,' and to your refusal to comply with the writ issued by Esq. Morrison. The press in the United States is looked upon as the great bulwark of American freedom, and its destruction in Nauvoo was represented and looked upon as a high-handed measure, and manifests to the people a disposition on your part to suppress the liberty of speech and of the press; this, with your refusal to comply with the requisition of a writ, I conceive to be the principal cause of this difficulty, and you are, moreover, represented to me as turbulent and defiant of the laws and institutions of your country.....I must beg leave to differ from you in relation to the acts of the City Council. That council, in my opinion, had no right to act in a legislative capacity, and in that of the judiciary. They should have passed a law in relation to the matter, and then the Municipal Court, upon complaint, could have removed it; but for the City Council to take upon themselves the law-making and the execution of the laws, in my opinion, was wrong; besides, these men ought to have had a hearing before their property was destroyed; to destroy it without was an infringement of their rights; besides, it is so contrary to the feelings of the American people to interfere with the press." ("Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith," pp. 384, 389.)
Also, contradicting his 1996 remarks in the 'Ensign', Oaks had written in 1979 that "there was no legal justification for the destruction of the 'Expositor' press." ("Carthage Conspiracy," Oaks and Hill, p. 26.)
It seems that Oaks wrote as a scholar in 1979, but since he had become an apostle by 1996, it was expedient for him to reverse his earlier correct opinion with an incorrect, poorly-thought one that exonerated Smith.
About 5 years ago, Dallin H. Oaks came to the Stake Conference in the Sugarhouse Utah Stake. Being the True Believing Mormon that I was, I showed up an hour early to get a cushy seat. Oaks was there an hour early too, and rather than locking himelf up with the leaders in some elite conference, he just walked around the filling chapel chatting with people.
He was kind of goofy. A nerd who thought he was funnier than he really was, perhaps because in confernce people break out in laughter over the smallest jokes. He seemed nice, and shook my hand about 3 times that morning.
It's interesting that you feel so hostile towards Dallin H. Oaks. I would be interested in knowing what drives you to make someone look bad. What do you get out of it? - 10/18/2009 - anon
The true test for me is whether or not Joseph Smith served as the conduit for revealed truth: notwithstanding seeming plagiarism from the Bible; awkward repetion when engraving on metal plates; European style and terminology of warfare; etceter,etcetera. The numerous instances of clarification and logical expansion of otherwise obscure scripture qualify Joseph as the Prophet of the Restoration. Of the many examples, a few are noteworthy: sublime, efficient expression of the sacramental prayers; making the Melchizedek Priesthood more understandable vis'a`vis' Hebrews 7, Alma 13 e.g.;D&C 13, wherein the concept and language are logically and efficiently expressed; the meaningful fleshing out of 1 Cor. 15:29 as a temple ordinance; recognition that the concept of infant baptism is anathema;and, really, on and on. Joseph Smith's crutches, golden plates, urim and thummim, seer stone, and hats to peer into are, for me, irrelevant. The principles and clarified doctrine given through him by angels and the Lord, are truth. Yes, the Prophet was human, and if there were instances when he was deluded, he was not culpable. He believed what he taught,lived and suffered for. And that's good enough for me. - 03/25/2009 - True Blue You sound like a bunch of pathetic, spoiled 14 year olds. Why don´t you get a job? - 04/13/2008 - RCNewman,MD
After reading this, and Dallin Oaks comments, I am more convinced that he is a bright, insightful man who speaks from his heart things he believes to be true, while you seem more intent on "spinning" to use your words the words which so spectacularly offers for consideration. His are so much more calm and peaceful, while you review is hateful and prejudiced. Sorry, I am not convinced that you are on the correct side of this matter. - 02/28/2008 - Kevin
Post your comments in this text box.
Home - Site Map