Leaked videos partially pull back curtain on Mormon church

The Salt Lake Mormon Temple in silhouette | Stock image, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — In leaked videos, Mormon leaders discuss concerns about the growth of the gay rights movement and hear from a former U.S. senator and church member who tells them the Iraq war could open the door for new converts, according to footage that pulls back the curtain on a religion that is closely guarded about its inner workings.

FILE - In this file photo, Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during a news conference at the Conference Center, in Salt Lake City. In 15 videos posted online Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, during the final day of the religion's twice-yearly conference, Mormon leaders discussed concerns about the growth of the gay rights movement and heard from a former U.S. senator and church member who tells them the Iraq war could open the door for new converts, according to the footage that pulls back the curtain on a religion that is closely guarded about its inner workings. Salt Lake City, Utah, January 27, 2015 | Photo by AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File, St. George News
FILE – In this file photo, Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaks during a news conference at the Conference Center, in Salt Lake City. In 15 videos posted online Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, during the final day of the religion’s twice-yearly conference, Mormon leaders discussed concerns about the growth of the gay rights movement and heard from a former U.S. senator and church member who tells them the Iraq war could open the door for new converts, according to the footage that pulls back the curtain on a religion that is closely guarded about its inner workings. Salt Lake City, Utah, Jan. 27, 2015 | Photo by AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File, St. George News

The 15 videos were posted online Sunday during the final day of the religion’s twice-yearly conference. They show top leaders hearing presentations and discussing topics at meetings from 2007 to 2012.

The Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says the videos show briefings that senior church leaders receive from religious, political and other experts on a number of topics.

“The purpose is to understand issues that may face the church, and is in pursuit of the obligation church leaders feel to be informed on and have open discussion about current issues,” spokesman Eric Hawkins said in a statement.

Church officials didn’t provide further details, but the videos don’t appear to be secretly recorded. They were most likely videotaped so leaders not in attendance could watch, said Matthew Bowman, a Mormon scholar.

Though the videos don’t reveal information that is necessarily surprising or damning, they have generated widespread interest because people are curious about how the religion’s top leaders — considered apostles — make decisions, Bowman said.

It doesn’t matter necessarily what the content is, it’s looking behind the veil that gets people excited,” said Bowman, associate professor of history at Henderson State University.

The leaked videos come nearly a year after an internal memo about banning baptisms for children of parents in same-sex marriages was released by a Mormon who had been excommunicated.

A message to the person who posted the videos was not immediately returned.

Here are some highlights from the footage:

Gay rights

In a 2011 meeting , the conversation turned to gay issues after leaders heard a report about cybersecurity issues and how WikiLeaks had published diplomatic cables leaked by Chelsea Manning, a transgender former Army intelligence analyst.

“I’m suspicious that the news media cover up anything involving homosexuals when it would work to the disadvantage of the homosexual agenda,” says Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the church’s highest leadership council, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “I just wondered if there was some of that in this.”

Later, another leader asks if WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is gay though the presenter wasn’t discussing Assange’s sexual orientation.

In another video three years earlier , the conversation turned to gay rights during a presentation about the results of November 2008 elections. Another member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Boyd Packer, asked how the gay and lesbian coalitions were moving forward. The Mormon church was a major backer of California’s gay marriage ban that passed that year.

The presenter, Brigham Young University political scientist David Magleby, told senior leaders that gay rights groups would continue a media barrage to make laws against same-sex marriage about hate and intolerance.

“They will be very aggressive. Frankly, they are very smart in their usage of the media,” Magleby said. “If this becomes a vote of the gays versus the Mormons, we are going to lose twice. … They are choosing to disparage us because in the public eye, we’re less understood and more negatively viewed than are African-Americans or Latinos or the Catholic Church.”

Iraq war, politics and religion

FILE - In this file photo, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., with his wife Sharon, waves to supporters after announcing that his race against Jeff Merkely is to close to call in Portland, Ore. In leaked videos, Mormon leaders discussed concerns about the growth of the gay rights movement and heard from former U.S. senator and church member Smith, who tells them the Iraq war could open the door for new converts, according to footage that pulls back the curtain on a religion that is closely guarded about its inner workings. The 15 videos were posted online Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, during the final day of the religion's twice-yearly conference. Portland, Oregon, November 4, 2008 | Photo by AP Photo/Steve Slocum, File, St. George News
FILE – In this file photo, Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., with his wife Sharon, waves to supporters after announcing that his race against Jeff Merkely is too close to call in Portland, Ore. In leaked videos, Mormon leaders discussed concerns about the growth of the gay rights movement and heard from former U.S. senator and church member Smith, who tells them the Iraq war could open the door for new converts, according to footage that pulls back the curtain on a religion that is closely guarded about its inner workings. The 15 videos were posted online Sunday, Oct. 2, 2016, during the final day of the religion’s twice-yearly conference. Portland, Oregon, Nov. 4, 2008 | Photo by AP Photo/Steve Slocum, File, St. George News

Shortly after he left the U.S. Senate in early 2009, Gordon Smith, an Oregon Republican and a Mormon, told church leaders that he voted for the Iraq war “because I felt the Lord’s hand in it.”

He said that if the war ultimately succeeds, “there will be an opportunity to begin building the church in the Middle East, which is a deeply troubled place.”

In response to a church leader’s question about the biggest threats of concern to the faith, Smith first listed “secularism, which is fueled by socialism,” followed by weapons of mass destruction in the hands of “a fanatical branch of a great religion.”

Smith also discussed how devout Mormons in the Senate and other public office offer the church access and influence.

He describes how a former Indian ambassador to the U.S. helped him secure 200 visas for Mormon missionaries to establish “a pattern of dealing” in order to circumvent Indian bureaucracy. He suggests they use other Mormon senators — Mike Crapo of Idaho, Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett of Utah, and Harry Reid of Nevada — in similar ways.

After the church faced backlash for supporting California’s gay marriage ban, Smith suggested the church lower its profile by working with leaders of other faiths who have strong ties to lawmakers who are able to kill legislation they find threatening.

Resources

Written by: BRADY McCOMBS and MICHELLE L. PRICE, Associated Press

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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50 Comments

  • ladybugavenger October 3, 2016 at 8:13 pm

    Cult

    • mesaman October 3, 2016 at 8:37 pm

      Sick!!

      • ladybugavenger October 4, 2016 at 12:01 pm

        Yes it is! Jesus is Lord. Not the leaders of the Mormon cult.

        • ladybugavenger October 4, 2016 at 12:04 pm

          But you’re not alone. Catholics, Baptists, Lutheran are in one too. Let Jesus come into your hearts and churches

          • godisdead October 4, 2016 at 2:57 pm

            Jesus, santa, the Easter bunny = fairy tales.

    • .... October 3, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      Praise the Lord Sister !

  • .... October 3, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    Well this is nothing new here all religions are under attack for one thing or another by ex members or non believers. if it isn’t about the LDS church then it’s the Catholic Church or another religion. difference of religious point of view has been the factor in wars for all of man kind

  • radioviking October 3, 2016 at 8:22 pm

    Ooops!!!!
    Hmmm – seems to fulfill scriptures: Luke 12:3
    “What you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the housetops.”
    .
    LOL! Wow, hilarious. The LDS leaders in their true light?

    .Modern transparency is certainly proving to be a thorn in the side of government, religion, and big crony capitalism!

    • BIG GUY October 3, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      …and labor unions, political candidates of all stripes, one issue advocacy groups of all kinds (e.g. Black Lives Matter, Cliven Bundy’s followers, et al), liberal college professors, the IRS, the Veterans Administration, Medicare, Obamacare, Planned Parenthood…and the list goes on.

      “radioviking” is quick to point out conservative groups in his/her comment but modern transparency can expose almost any group to widespread public scrutiny.

    • ladybugavenger October 4, 2016 at 8:41 am

      Amen

    • Brian October 4, 2016 at 8:44 am

      I’m guessing you didn’t actually watch the videos.

      These videos show nothing the church or its leaders should be embarrassed about. On the contrary, they show caring leaders that want to be as informed as possible on all sorts of world events and that are standing up for what they believe in. No greed or lust for power.

      If this is “pulling back the curtain” bring it on! Compare this to Hillary Clinton, the DNC, the FBI, or about a thousand other “leaks” in the past few years and I’m as proud as every to be a “Mormon”.

      Hmmm – Seems to fulfill the scriptures:
      Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
      Matthew 7:20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

      • Anejo October 4, 2016 at 9:50 am

        Nothing too damning, I’ll agree, but the last paragraph of the article is quite telling…

        “After the church faced backlash for supporting California’s gay marriage ban, Smith suggested the church lower its profile by working with leaders of other faiths who have strong ties to lawmakers who are able to kill legislation they find threatening.”

        The enemy of enemy is my friend?

        If people wish to worship a visible, or even invisible deity, they have that right. But to deliberately scuttle others they find threatening?! Rights are inalienable and not for any religious, or political, organization to give or take away. If anything this paragraph should be a warning that the LDS church has finally realized it can’t bull it’s way around, anymore, so it’s going to try covert ops instead! The good news, here, is that they’re still several decades behind the curve when it comes to adapting to technology. Old white guys seem to be having a huge issue, in this arena, where they cannot control the game anymore. Ironically they’re struggling to evolve!

        “Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.” Psalm 137:9

        • Brian October 4, 2016 at 12:33 pm

          I think you’re completely misreading that last sentence. It isn’t saying anything about “deliberately scuttling others” or trying to undermine anyone’s rights, it’s recognizing that the LDS church is taking a beating in the press by standing alone and that they have to work closely with other churches with common interests and combine resources to fight for what they believe is right. You do understand that is how politics works, right? You build coalitions and work together, pooling resources? Without that exact strategy the gay movement would still be where it was in the 60’s. It isn’t wrong, it isn’t sneaky or covert, it’s HOW IT WORKS. Liberal groups in particular do frequently use this approach in very sneaky, covert, and often illegal ways (Rules for Radicals, anyone?), but the church isn’t engaging in that, as these videos make clear.

          As for the LDS church being “behind the curve when it comes to adapting to technology”, you clearly don’t have a clue. It is amazing how well they’ve embraced technology to further the work of Christ, including with genealogy. I wish the Boy Scouts had 1/100th the technical ability the LDS church has, as my service to them would be MUCH easier (but that’s another topic).

          • Anejo October 4, 2016 at 3:05 pm

            “Smith suggested the church lower its profile by working with leaders of other faiths who have strong ties to lawmakers who are able to kill legislation they find threatening.”

            I don’t think I am misreading that last sentence. It clearly states killing legislation they find threatening by working low profile in conjunction with other faiths/churches etc? Does it not? That’s exactly how politics works. They lobby, if they’re *cough* persuasive enough *cough* the legislation is passed.

            I’d say backing California’s Proposition 8, and actively trying to undermine similar discourse, currently, in Mexico is absolutely and deliberately trying to scuttle people’s rights. Or does Mexico’s gay community have to accept the ruling of Utah’s dogma? Why can’t your church just leave them alone, and let them figure it out for themselves? Why shouldn’t gay people be allowed to marry?

            I fully understand how collective pooling of resources works but the gay movement, as you so delicately put it, were simply demanding that their rights were recognized, whereas the LDS church were spending their money, and resources, trying to deny them their rights. Weren’t they? Or am I completely misreading that also?

            The old white guys are very much behind the curve. I know the LDS church’s genealogy is world renown but their public relations and information handing are deeply in the Jurassic era. Globally the members are struggling to reconcile their faith with constant and deliberate alterations to documents, changes in policy that actively discriminate against friends and neighbors. That’s not just a Utah thing though, all of the worlds faiths are in decline because the 21st century has allowed the constant flow of information, and the old white guys just can’t keep up with it anymore. It used to be word of mouth, guilt trips, threats of the almighty smiting you down from the pulpit, but now in a world where anyone can access the internet from the device they carry in their pocket, these dusty old manuals are obsolete. They just don’t stand up to scrutiny anymore.

            Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is for everyone. Not just the ruling classes. Peace everyone! XxX

          • Bob October 4, 2016 at 5:31 pm

            “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is for everyone. Not just the ruling classes.”

            Anejo, wth are u even talking about? The ‘ruling classes’ have not been based as religious leaders for a very long time, then again, if ur just talking about UT’s theocracy maybe it applies

  • Bob October 3, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    the gay agenda has enjoyed the full support of the zionist-owned mass media for a long time now. are these mormons that naive to realize they didn’t stand a chance against the master-manipulators of public opinion? Do these mormons not have a crew of zionists of their own working in their public relations dept.? If not, maybe they should hire a crew of them. Like i’ve said before these mormons may think they’re sly and cunning, but it’s hard to outdo those zionists–again, they’re the master-manipulators of public opinion and perception–its why they make good lawyers as well

    • BIG GUY October 3, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      Racist/bigoted comment. You devalue your past and future comments.

      • Bob October 4, 2016 at 12:34 pm

        racist/bigoted i think not, but 100% true. our fully non-independent mass media is the worst enemy of democracy at this point

        • godisdead October 4, 2016 at 3:02 pm

          Lunatics that are bigots and racists, like you Bob, are the worst enemies of our country.

          • Bob October 4, 2016 at 5:24 pm

            lol, dont get ur panties all in a knot. just calm down

          • .... October 5, 2016 at 12:44 pm

            You got that right. .Bob talks real tough because he gets to hide behind his keyboard and pretends to be somebody

    • godisdead October 3, 2016 at 9:29 pm

      Bob,
      Let all of your homophobia and bigotry out. Don’t keep it inside. Let everyone know you stand against equal rights for gays and stereotype “zionists” with your hate.

    • Anejo October 4, 2016 at 11:06 am

      Gay agenda, Bob?

      They’re not the ones knocking on people’s doors asking them to convert to homosexuality.

      • .... October 4, 2016 at 11:41 am

        Don’t mind Bob he has no problem coming here and posting just how ignorant of a bigot he really is. if it wasn’t for the chance to show his hatred and bigotry he wouldn’t be here.

        • .... October 4, 2016 at 12:53 pm

          I see Bob isn’t making his mental health appointments as usual

      • .... October 5, 2016 at 12:39 pm

        Bob is as ignorant as they get. he’s a real tough guy hiding behind his keyboard.

  • ladybugavenger October 4, 2016 at 8:42 am

    The Mormon church beliefs waivers based on current news…get out while you can!

  • theone October 4, 2016 at 10:18 am

    Awe yes, religion and it’s obsession with sex. The Mormons are just another example of hate and discriminating dogma. They have no business in trying to influence what our government recognizes as rights. No religion has the right to delegate who gets to live the way they choose. Separation of Church and State.

    • ladybugavenger October 4, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Exactly why their stance on gay marriage should not waiver based on laws. Marriage is between a man and a women and they should of stood on that. Let the world marry same sex a church of God should not be involved, but set apart.

      Don’t hate! Nobody deserves hate and hate changes no one for the better. But stand your ground and you’ll know if it’s built on a rock or if a storm comes and knocks it away.

      • theone October 4, 2016 at 2:22 pm

        Marriage is between a man and a woman only in the delusional world of Christianity. Equal rights are in the world of reality.

      • godisdead October 4, 2016 at 3:07 pm

        In the past you mentioned that you were an adulterer. Why should anyone listen to you about the sanctity of marriage?
        You are a hypocrite.

        • theone October 4, 2016 at 3:43 pm

          Oh that’s rich lol…..

        • Bob October 4, 2016 at 5:26 pm

          yea, but the adultery was just a product of her alcoholism, lol

          • .... October 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm

            And another stupid and ignorant comment by Dumbob. get back to your mental hygiene appointments

        • ladybugavenger October 4, 2016 at 5:36 pm

          I’ve been redeemed by the blood of Jesus. There was a time I didn’t believe, just like you godisdead. God made a believer out of me….snaps for Jesus!

        • ladybugavenger October 4, 2016 at 6:50 pm

          I don’t think the word listen is the correct word because you do listen. You not only listen but you remember what I say. I would probably fall over if you didn’t use the words, fairy talr, hypocrisy, hatred, intolerable, bigotry, and so on when you post on here.

          I’m not stopping you from marrying your same sex partner, I still love you ♡♡♡

        • ladybugavenger October 5, 2016 at 5:57 am

          Let me tell you why you shouldn’t cheat: the guilt, the shame, the condemnation is unbearable (hence, people keep drinking, do drugs, keep themselves down, depression etc.) Then on top of that the pain and anger you’ve caused and placed upon the other person is unforgivable. You add kids to it and you’ve destroyed your whole family. So you live under and in this dark cloud and you look for a way out.
          And then you get down on your knees and you cry out to God to forgive you ( but you continue condemning yourself because how can God forgive you for what you have done. ) and you open the bible and you cry to Jesus and slowly you make different choices you fight to get out of the dark, you fight for freedom and deliverance from this darkness all the while people come along to destroy the good you are trying to do, the change you are trying to make. And then one day it all turns around, you get peace, love, joy, the dark cloud is gone and you tell people about the redemption and forgiveness of Jesus. And people come along and try and destroy you but your standing on a rock and you don’t faulter. You continue to grow and learn the rest of your life.

          We all need forgiveness from our sins and many walk around with a dark cloud around them for all kinds of reasons and choices they’ve made and I’m saying there is a way out. It’s Jesus.

          You’re right you shouldn’t listen to me. You should listen to God. He’s the one that delivered me, He’s the one that has power. Hes the one you should turn to.
          Amen.

          • theone October 5, 2016 at 12:19 pm

            I’m glad you got past your emotional trauma. Having said that, I wish people like you could step outside of your belief long enough to see how delusional comments like yours sound. We are a species of self reliant nature, and have the ability to mend ourselves by learning from our misgivings, and possibly if need be lean on our fellow humans for support. Pretending that an imaginary thing brought you out of your funk is nothing short of emotional weakness. All you’ve done is pass the buck instead of dealing with your mistake and making the changes to better yourself. Religion is a weakness that dampens our intelligence, and prevents us from recognizing how capable we really are. The Church’s influence on it’s members is a perfect example of conditioning.

          • .... October 5, 2016 at 12:37 pm

            I’m always interested in what you have to say Ladybug. I have no reason or desire to judge you. You’re my Miss Cheetos and Coke Girl of America ! ♡♡♡♡♡

          • ladybugavenger October 5, 2016 at 8:46 pm

            Thanks Dot! See you at the next wildfire to roast marshmallows

          • ladybugavenger October 6, 2016 at 7:03 am

            Well there you go Theone, Im not talking about religion or a church. , I’m talking about Jesus.

            I will say I’m with you on the religion thing. It’s quite confusing to you, I know. But any church that makes you sign a membership card is a cult.

          • ladybugavenger October 6, 2016 at 7:06 am

            Id watch out for joel osteen. Never opens the Bible. Good motivational speaker for an hour but that’s it. A lot of syrup and no pancakes

          • theone October 6, 2016 at 9:16 am

            The only thing confusing to me is the fact that a fictional character named Jesus has so much influence on people whether you follow it independently, or through an organization. Either way it’s delusional, and I don’t mean you are just the concept.

  • Bob October 4, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    i flipped thru a few of the vids. totally pointless and not controversial–nothing we didn’t know

    • .... October 4, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      Well now that you have seen the vids.maybe you have time to make your mental hygiene appointment

    • Anejo October 4, 2016 at 6:56 pm

      “Anejo, wth are u even talking about? The ‘ruling classes’ have not been based as religious leaders for a very long time, then again, if ur just talking about UT’s theocracy maybe it applies”

      Bob. It was aimed at UT’s theocracy but the term ‘ruling classes’ applies across the board. Maybe they aren’t religious leaders, but they won’t identify as not religious because it’s political suicide. When you look at the shepherds, of our nation, in the last few decades. The vast sums of money they spend flinging excrement at each other. The vast sums of money they squander on themselves and their cronies. The utter detachment from reality as they take our votes and do as they please.

      How can that be anything other than ruling classes?

  • DB October 4, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    One thing I got out of the video was that the men in the front row had more than their share of ‘funeral potatoes’ at some point…

  • digger October 5, 2016 at 6:43 am

    Man, You Guys Should Meet Up at The Park And Talked This Out FACE TO FACE!!!!

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