Apostate Apostles?

On April 6th (2009) LDS-owned Brigham Young University’s student newspaper, The Daily Universe, ran a photo with an unfortunate caption. Pictured were some members of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. They were identified in the newspaper as “The Quorum of the Twelve Apostates.” The Associated Press reported,

“The typo was an honest mistake, said Carri Jenkins, spokeswoman for church-owned BYU. She said most of the 18,000 copies of the student paper were retrieved Monday morning and replaced with 10,000 corrected copies later in the day.”

Non-Mormons have found humor in the error and have enjoyed a laugh at the student-run newspaper’s expense. If you stop to listen you can almost hear Homer Simpson’s infamous “D’oh!” echoing across the campus. But Mormons don’t think it’s funny.

Rich Evans, editorial manager of The Daily Universe, called the caption “the worst possible mistake.” Brad Rawlins, chair of BYU’s Department of Communications said, “We don’t think this error is glib or cute or humorous. We understand people will take offense to the error. We ourselves are offended as a department for this error. We have a deep regret that it appeared in today’s paper.” And an LDS student at BYU said of the mistake, “It would be sad if someone was trying to do harm to our church.”

I’m not sure why this “honest mistake” has caused so much consternation among Latter-day Saints, but maybe it has something to do with the historic Mormon stance on apostates. LDS Prophet Brigham Young told the Saints,

“I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath my bowie knife, and conquer or die. [Great commotion in the congregation, and a simultaneous burst of feeling, assenting to the declaration.] Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put on the line, and righteousness to the plummet. [Voices, generally, ‘go it, go it.’] If you say it is right, raise your hands. [All hands up.] Let us call upon the Lord to assist us in this, and every good work” (Brigham Young, March 27th, 1853, Journal of Discourses 1:83. Brackets in original).

Apostasy is serious spiritual business in any religion. In early Mormonism (or perhaps even today if anyone regards Brigham Young’s teaching as true) it could also be life threatening. Certainly this aspect of early Mormonism increases the gravity of the typographical error in The Daily Universe.

Most people, of course, will recognize the fact that The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are not modern Mormon apostates (though self-described Mormons belonging to Mormon splinter groups would certainly disagree). The Twelve embody today’s Mormonism and carry the authority to govern and manage the LDS Church, and drive it into the future. Yet, with the accusation of apostasy hanging over The Twelve, they might consider taking steps to further demonstrate their faithfulness to the Church. Brigham Young also taught,

“Brethren who have been on missions, can you see any difference in this people from the time you went away until your return? [Voices: ‘Yes.’] You can see men and women who are sixty or seventy years of age looking young and handsome; but let them apostatize, and they will become gray-haired, wrinkled, and black, just like the Devil” (Brigham Young, October 7, 1857, Journal of Discourses 5:332. Brackets in original).

Perhaps The Twelve will consider the benefits of using A Touch of Gray for a while to squelch any lingering doubts.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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7 Responses to Apostate Apostles?

  1. Linda says:

    That’s hilarious and awful at the same time. I bet their proofreaders will be much more careful from now on. I wonder if the those responsible at the Daily Universe will be fired or forgiven.

  2. Ralph says:

    I think its hilarious. It reminded me of a time years ago when a new convert gave her first sacrament talk. She was so nervous that when she read one of her scriptures she also made a malapropism. She said “For behold, this is my work and my glory; to bring to pass the immorality and eternal life of man”. It took all we had in the congregation not to laugh at her mistake. It is one malapropism I knew of before she said it but it was so funny to actually hear it from the pulpit.

    There are many others that have come up in the church, they are usually in the New Era Mormonisms section. There was one which had a child’s version of ‘I am a child of God’ where the child sang “has given me an earthly home with parents kind of weird.”

  3. Michael P says:

    Kind of reminds me of the pictures you see of, say, Baptist churches with obsene typos on the front sign, or in their bulletins, etc.

    Quiter frankly, some of them are the most funny things you can see.

    A personal favorite, though there are many: “Weight Watchers meeting next Thurs, please use wide doors on the side.”

    Not sure if its exact, but that was the message.

    Funny (I think, at least)

  4. Linda says:

    Or sermon titles on signs.
    Morning sermon title: Jesus walks on water.
    Evening sermon title: The search for Jesus.

  5. Ralph says:

    MichaelP and Linda,

    You reminded me of a show here in Australia called ‘John Safran vs God’ in which he looked at different religions and some of their idiosyncracies when challenged by something of their own. For example, he was brought up in a Jewish environment but he left the religion and became athiest – so he went through Utah knocking on doors with a companion trying to spread the news about athieism. He went to the homeland of the KKK and their head ‘church’ and talked with their head man about joining the KKK. After he pointed out that he was Jewish by birth things got a little stiff. He found out though, that if he married an non-Jew/black, his son could join the KKK.

    Anyway, he came across a Catholic or Anglican minister here in Australia while doing that show, and together they started a new show called ‘Speaking in Tongues’. In that show they held a competition to see who could come up with the best sign for the front of a church. The winner was “Lost Yaweh?” I thought that was very well done.

    A local Anglican church has had a few good ones –

    “Jesus the carpenter needs joiners”
    “Caution: God at work; Man in progress”
    “God loves you whether you like it or not”

    But those are all serious ones.

    After re-reading the article above, the paper that wrote the typo needs to take things seriously as it is their reputation on the line there. Others not directly connected with the paper I think are taking it too seriously. But since its a typo and not purposefully done, I don’t see why they just can’t laughing it off as a good humoured mistake. Yes there may be one or two LDS here or there who would take offense (as mentioned by someone in the article), but that is their problem if they can’t be relaxed about mistakes.

    PS To the moderators – its nice to have something fun on here now and then. It brings down some of the tension.

  6. gundeck says:

    I know it was fake but has anyone else seen the “all dogs go to heaven” debate between a Catholic and Presbyterian Church signs? I laughed so hard I almost cried.

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