Elder Holland withdraws Church News missionary story

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  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    Aug. 13, 2017 8:31 p.m.

    Dinosaur hunter -- The stories the Savior told, which we call parables, were not for the most part true stories of actual events. Yet they still invite the Spirit, uplift and teach principles. This story did all of that. What isn't "true" is these events didn't unfold for this particular individual and family -- but every facet of what occurs in the story actually happens... God knows each individual, things are put in place for individuals who do repent/change/return, prayers of parents over wayward children are answered, vicious dogs are definitely put cowering at bay by priesthood power, missionaries are protected, missionaries are led to people, missionaries are assigned to areas under divine, fortuitous inspiration... getting in tune with the Holy Ghost, listening to His promptings and following those promptings is essential to missionary work as well as all of our lives. Still a good story to tell albeit now with a caveat that some details are embellished.

  • MoreMan San Diego, CA
    Aug. 7, 2017 9:18 a.m.

    "Elder Cunningham, please stick to the approved script." One of the best lines from the BoM musical.

  • Open and honest Manchester, 00
    Aug. 5, 2017 11:02 a.m.

    "Rogers Lambert - Radford, VA
    Aug. 2, 2017 1:37 p.m.
    A lesson that should be taken from this episode is that a person giving a Church talk should seek and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

    Are you suggesting Holland didn't seek and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
    And what do we conclude from this episode if he did?

  • Dinosaur hunter Ogden, UT
    Aug. 3, 2017 7:26 p.m.

    As a member of the lds church I find it funny that you are all jumping to elder holland's defense. From what I have read no one is attacking elder holland, everyone makes mistakes. The issue is thousands of people "felt" the spirit with a fictional story and are to disconnected to desern the truth for themselves. The gospel is true the church can be corrupted and the fact remains that it's up to you and the lord to decide what is right and wrong. No man alive today can or should replace reason from the spirit.

  • chuckster Saratoga Springs, UT
    Aug. 3, 2017 2:13 p.m.

    Nice to see intelligent comments so far. As has been said, of course there are stories that are inadvertently given over the pulpit, in class or in the home. Many of us have retold a story that sounded great, then found out later it was only partially true...or not true at all. I've already told umpteen people this story, just because it is faith promoting. The correct version of this story is also a miracle, especially when considering all the young man did to eventually return to the Church.

  • Hope & Faith give us strength Utah County, UT
    Aug. 3, 2017 12:59 p.m.

    Elder Holland is a good man with a heart full of enthusiasm. When he hears a good story of faith, I'd bet he'd want to share it. I wouldn't fault anyone for that. If anything it's rather endearing as it highlights his love for good. Even if we could count it as a mistake (note: we shouldn't be counting) I would imagine it's a very innocent one.

    Sometimes you look at the child and see a very innocent 'oops' and just have to smile at them, like when children discover how to open a can of paint. We're here to learn. I'm sure many have learned from this example. That's something we can be grateful for. If only we would learn the lesson of always looking at life's mistakes that way. If only I would personally.

  • Holycow Provo, UT
    Aug. 3, 2017 1:21 a.m.

    Funny that- It's all become big gossip.

  • Rogers Lambert Radford, VA
    Aug. 2, 2017 1:37 p.m.

    A lesson that should be taken from this episode is that a person giving a Church talk should seek and follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Aug. 2, 2017 12:17 p.m.

    The bottom line is that we expect our leaders to have good common sense when establishing or administering our affairs. We hope they won't believe all the chicken little stories so many like to tell.

  • Democrat Provo, UT
    Aug. 2, 2017 10:07 a.m.

    Re: Viva la Migra - Denver, CO

    I believe this incident answers your question. General Authorities receive countless letters, visits and personal requests for blessings and advice. The vast majority of these they refer back to local leaders. The remainder constitute the stories you hear in General Conference. Church teachers should not be sharing parables or amalgamated stories without expressly describing them as such. General Authorities are very scrupulous about that, especially in General Conference and the rest of us should follow suit. This episode illustrates Elder Holland's scrupulousness.

    Church authorities already use competent historians to vet oft-told stories from church history before including them in General Conference talks.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Aug. 2, 2017 9:18 a.m.

    The embellishment was not Elder Holland's. The integrity to issue a retraction is.

  • Kevin Surrey, BC
    Aug. 2, 2017 8:45 a.m.

    When has any of us not embellished a story, whether it was our own or someone else's? I imagine there are lots of stories passed down through the ages that have gained a life of their own. Elder Holland did the right thing and set an example for us to follow. Sometimes it is not possible to check the facts at the source because the source is no longer alive or available. Everyone likes a good story but it is wise to be diligent in how we pass on the story. This could have happened to anyone.

  • Open and honest Manchester, 00
    Aug. 2, 2017 5:58 a.m.

    There are a number of other "stories" which Elder Holland has delivered that appear to not withstand fact checking scrutiny. Will Elder Holland be fact checking his back catalogue and clarifying which other ones need retracting?

    Will all of the Q12/FP now go through a process of fact checking stories before delivering them? Because it's unfair/unreasonable to think that Elder Holland is the only one (well, since Paul H. Dunn) to deliver stories that don't quite stand up to fact checking scrutiny.

    I think these are fair questions for the members to have answered - they have felt the spirit during some of these now falsified stories and they deserve to know which ones weren't true.

  • One of Vai's Cousins DC, Washington
    Aug. 2, 2017 5:16 a.m.

    I no longer maintain a testimony due to learning that so much of the version I learned growing up in the Church simply is not true. However, I applaud this retraction by Elder Holland and efforts such as the essays that make efforts toward accuracy and transparency. What the average member learns in Sunday School is still not completely accurate but the church continues to get closer to an accurate version. Children born into the church today will learn a very different story than I did. The accurate version still requires absolute faith to believe. But at least that faith will be based on an accurate portrayal of events.

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    Aug. 2, 2017 1:03 a.m.

    Some have compared this to the stories told by Paul H Dunn, albeit drawing attention to the way each dealt with stories not factually true. Understandable comparison. But I'm grateful for and only feel respect, even love, for Elder Dunn for inspiring, lifting and strengthening me as a youth. For those who would get the reference, grateful, too, for the many inspiring, good things that Bishop Shawn Merriman did. Less than perfect both; perpetrators of deception. But, debate about balance aside between the good and the bad, the good remains and stands on its own for what it is. Leaves me with both of these things -- imperfect leaders who inspire and people/leaders sent by God (inspired by the Holy Ghost) into my life at the needed moment.

    And when this story broke a few weeks ago, fallacy it may have been; but, it came at a critical time in my life and lifted me when it needed to. A tender mercy -- of God. Happy that Elder Holland clarified, retracted and set the record straight about details. The message of his talk remains the same; appreciated just the same.

  • Brent T. Aurora CO Aurora, CO
    Aug. 2, 2017 12:50 a.m.

    What I heard (read) was a parable-like story, names withheld. The power of inspiration that a tuned individual can receive from the Holy Ghost is inspired -- which by the way was the stated purpose of the message. That Heavenly Father and His Son know each of us, they will send aid through others, that missionaries are sent with power, that great things come of small things over long periods of time... all true. Do I believe everything is this story is possible? Certainly. I have first person (me) knowledge that vicious dogs can be instantly tamed, even stopped with power not of this earth. Again, the names were withheld... so the people, who they actually are or what happened to actual people, is far less important than the message of the story. A message that certainly the mission presidents got as well as the discerning hearts reading of his words to them.

  • gibson Provo, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 5:13 p.m.

    I believe a new era of "checking before sharing," will now be the past due standard for relating stories from the pulpit by General and Area leaders. The story didn't ring true to me when I heard it, but I considered the source and tried to believe. A great "thank you" goes out to Elder Holland for correcting the untruth he inadvertently passed on. Way to go Elder Holland. Let's all listen up and check before sharing, otherwise it is false news.

  • Mack2828 Ft Thomas, KY
    Aug. 1, 2017 4:12 p.m.

    I think it's time to get back to just preaching the gospel straight up without all the stories. Think Bruce R. McConkie and Neal A. Maxwell style.

  • Mack2828 Ft Thomas, KY
    Aug. 1, 2017 3:30 p.m.

    Might be time to get back to giving sermons that are straight up gospel/scripture and less "story" based. Think Elder McConkie and Elder Maxwell.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Aug. 1, 2017 1:46 p.m.

    For a culture that is mostly build on superstition, fable and hero worship one more misguided legend is unlikely to sink the church's ship.

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 1:39 p.m.

    So close, and yet so far away.

    I was hopeful when Deseret News ran this story, only to be disappointed when your moderator rejected a valid comment.

  • fatenews Lehi, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 1:10 p.m.

    A listener's responsibility.

    I guess this is why I, as a listener, need to be in tuned with the Spirit. In that way, whenever I listen to these kinds of stories, especially in Sacrament meeting, I will have to go through a process of personal proofing. Chances are that I will find some aspects and details dubious, if not completely false. Or absorb just the moral, not necessarily the details.

  • The True Open Minded Mormon Draper, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 1:09 p.m.

    oh Irony...it sure is.

    - $2500 reduction in premiums
    - if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor
    - if you like your insurance, you can keep your insurance
    - shovel ready jobs
    - Benghazi was caused by a video on the internet
    - Russia isn't our biggest threat. Do you still live in the 80's?

    The list is endless for your hero's. Shall I go on?

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    Aug. 1, 2017 12:30 p.m.

    If only our nation's current leader had the integrity to correct himself when he tells fake stories. I guess that's too much to ask . . .

  • Strong Man Eau Claire, WI
    Aug. 1, 2017 12:24 p.m.

    When I first heard the story as told by Elder Holland something told me that it was just too good to be true. Nevertheless, I have to admit I felt uplifted by it. What are ya gonna do? We all love a great story. It's a good move by Elder Holland to point out the mistake and retract the story and, if anything, given all of my own weaknesses -- including loving to tell a good story!! -- I feel glad to know that Elder Holland, like me, is just a man. Called of God? Yes, I believe so! Perfect? Nope. There was only one of those and that's who we worship. Not His apostles.

  • Viva la Migra Denver, CO
    Aug. 1, 2017 12:02 p.m.

    I wonder how much of these types of stories are parables to help members understand gospel principles? For example the church has a pretty immovable policy of letting local Ward and Stake leaders handle member concerns and questions. Correspondence and inquiries that arrive in Salt Lake are forwarded to the local units for handling.

    So when I hear in General Conference talks about General Authorities meeting with members in their offices or receiving letters, it makes me wonder how that even happens? Is it mainly close friends and family that are granted this sort of access, or is some of it just a conglomeration representative to illustrate common concerns that are reported by local local leaders through the chain of authority?

  • PacificCreek Puyallup, WA
    Aug. 1, 2017 11:23 a.m.

    As an employer I don't mind employees who make mistakes. It really bothers me to have employees who cover up mistakes to protect themselves. In this case Elder Holland shows more credibility by correcting the facts. The story he told wasn't accurate and when that knowledge came to light he did his best to address the facts. Unfortunately social media loves a good story and this one spread like wildfire. Just like good ole Abe Lincoln said 'Don't believe everything you see on the Internet'!

    Some will try to nitpick that he was fooled, or can't be called of god because he made a minor mistake of not doing sufficient fact checking. Like all of of the Leaders of the church are not perfect and make mistakes. I would guess that my mistakes register larger on the Richter scale than theirs do though.

    Aug. 1, 2017 11:14 a.m.

    Rather than ask it not be retold, he should have sent it to CNN where they could have made it even more interesting.

  • LDS Revelations Sandy, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 10:49 a.m.

    Good thing this was corrected early on. There are numerous instances in LDS past where embellished tales became calcified into LDS Church History only to be found inaccurate if not downright false years later. I get the appeal of telling a bigger, more fanciful stories but in realm where big T truth is paramount facts really do matter.

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 10:38 a.m.

    consider the "stories" you are telling about your own history. Most of them are embellished to a degree or one sided at best.

    We are all in it together. We really don't need to judge each other so harshly. We have all told a good story that we didn't fact check completely.

  • PhoenixAZ phoenix, AZ
    Aug. 1, 2017 10:27 a.m.

    Well, Boyd Packer tried his best to stop the story about "generals in heaven" and the Gordon B. Hinckley story that was supposed to have come from him, but .....did NOT. But I still hear it in Relief Society lessons. And sadly...elsewhere. And embellished story goes many miles.

  • Abhau Gilbert, AZ
    Aug. 1, 2017 10:20 a.m.

    While I certainly appreciate him coming forward and clarifying the error, I'm not sure why he is getting such incredible praise for his integrity. Or getting heat for it.

    I mean, he unknowingly told an inaccurate story and was corrected by the family. Then he simply reported this information.

    This feels like good journalism rather than some amazingly integritous moment. Had he NOT done what he did, people would have piked on like crazy and attacked his character, rightfully so.

    What he did is simply an expectation for someone in his position. Maybe I'm missing something but why are we setting the bar so low for one of the Lord's annointed?

    This is only a story if he DOESN'T make the correction.

    I don't get it.

  • ReadMineFirst Ft. Collins, CO
    Aug. 1, 2017 9:46 a.m.

    This article shows the integrity and humility of Elder Holland, and strengthens my testimony of the Lord's chosen.

  • Seagull Suz Sandy, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 9:44 a.m.

    Cambridge Dictionary - story definition, meaning, what is story: a description, either true or imagined, of a connected series of events: ...

    Some thoughts:

    Stories (true or imagined) can be perceived beneficial or not by the receiver...

    Authenticity of stories matters...
    Fact checking is a two way street...do your due diligence...

    "If a man's self is not kept clean and bright, his glimpse of God will be blurred, like the moon seen through a dirty telescope". C.S. Lewis

  • bgl Santa Monica, CA
    Aug. 1, 2017 9:23 a.m.

    When I first heard this story, I was awestruck. To find out that it was not 100% accurate somewhat lessened the awe. But when I heard of Elder Holland's act of withdrawing the story, I was probably even more awestruck than when I first heard the story.

  • Hoosier87 American Fork, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 9:00 a.m.

    What a funny time we live in. Someone shares an experience with an Apostle who then shares that story with others - assuming that the story is in fact accurate. As the Apostle finds the story to be inaccurate, he retracts the story and naysayers pounce on the Apostle as if he were a charlatan or something.

    There are people who will actually use this story as "proof" that the church isn't true. Give me a break.

    Elder Jeffrey Holland is one of the greatest men I know of. His testimony of the Savior is powerful and precious. The Gospel is the most perfect and powerful thing on the face of the earth. If apostates need a story like this to promote their philosophies, then so be it, and I pity them.

  • Lolly Lehi, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 8:24 a.m.

    To bring Elder Paul Dunn into this is very unfair with all of the good he did. He influenced so many of the youth, professional athletes, and professional Mormon stars. The irony is that the one who began the tirade against him did not tell the truth or perhaps had his facts wrong in many regards. He even came to Elder Dunn's funeral taking pictures for his book and then left before the service began. His book died with Elder Dunn's death and he has never been heard from since.

    I am glad that the facts on Elder Holland's talk came out so quickly and he was the one who made these things known. Even in the day before the Internet, false stories spread. It is just quicker now and Elder Holland's quick response will help stop the dissemination. Well, bless Elder Holland for immediately correcting the situation.

  • Vince Clortho S_SPRINGS, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 8:16 a.m.

    I'm guessing the statement of correction won't blaze through social media the way the initial story did.

    @ NoNamesAccepted -
    'I wonder if critics of the LDS Church will ever have half the integrity and honor that Elder Holland has shown.'

    Many of us 'critics' have painfully taken that step to embrace truth as we have come to see it as new information comes to light. It is terribly difficult to disappoint parents by telling them that you can no longer embrace the faith of your youth as you once did. Or to demonstrate to your spouse your commitment to them without reference to the eternal sealing that is still such a bulwark of faith and hope to them.

  • BYUalum South Jordan, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 7:14 a.m.

    I think it took a lot of courage for Elder Holland to retract this story. I remember reading it in awe. It only makes me respect him more after he did some research and found some discrepancies. Lessons learned, I am sure. GA: check all your sources in depth before repeating a story. We should be able to retell anything a GA says. And, many will not ever read the retraction, repeat the story, and life will go on! Thanks, Elder Holland for your devotion and testimony!

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 7:10 a.m.

    Good for Elder Holland.

  • windsor City, Ut
    Aug. 1, 2017 7:02 a.m.

    Elder Holland has even more of my respect .

    Honesty in this just reflects his character and desires to be up front--- with what had to have been a cringeworthy circumstance for him.

  • lalalaleesa FORT WORTH, TX
    Aug. 1, 2017 4:28 a.m.

    This is a common difficulty encountered in family history work as well. There are family stories that becomes embellished legends, especially when handed down verbally. At some point, someone felt that the story was not 'enough' on its own merits. Eventually the embellishments evolve into new facts. Heaven bless Elder Holland - and the family involved - for having the humility to acknowledge that this was an embellished legend.

  • Hope & Faith give us strength Utah County, UT
    Aug. 1, 2017 3:50 a.m.


    I mean you no ill will, but I do full heartedly agree with NoNamesAccepted. I believe his answer is the more intelligent, fair, and kind approach. It's certainly more genuine in those regards. So to call into question the integrity the leaders of an organization that continually takes great care into clarifying any man-made errors that are found (we are after all, imperfect), is very disingenuous. I would even suspect it must be self serving in some way, but I cannot speak to your nature. I can only say that there is something peculiar about trying to cast a shadow of doubt on a people for a simple imperfection one finds in them.

    Where I especially agree with NoNamesAccepted is in the broader implication of such a practice. Should we accept your doctrine instead, we'd all be judging each other with skepticism and misery, would we not? This certainly begs the question of whether or not we are happier and look to build up the best in each other in either approach. I believe it's very clear which approach can bring such joy into our lives.

    This is literally why us imperfect followers, follow Jesus Christ- to improve.

    Aug. 1, 2017 3:24 a.m.

    Nothing but respect love and support for this living Apostle of the Lord.
    We love and support you Elder Holland and get the point of your message, the Lord knows His children and will help them.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    July 31, 2017 11:38 p.m.

    The story has been around in various forms for a few years.

    Here is an excerpt from the recent Church News version:

    " 'The Holy Ghost influenced that younger son to serve a mission and be willing to accept a call to Southern California. … The Holy Ghost inspired one of my brethren in the Twelve, who was on the assignment desk that Friday, to trust his impression and assign that young man for service not a great distance from his native-born state. The Holy Ghost inspired that mission president to assign that young missionary to that district and that member unit. The Holy Ghost led those missionaries to that street, that day, that hour, with big brother sitting on the porch waiting, and, with Doberman Pinschers notwithstanding, the Holy Ghost prompted those to elders to stop, talk and in spite of their fear, to go back and present their message. … '

    "Elder Holland said the young elder, without realizing it, gave the missionary speech of all time, when he said to his brother, 'God has sent me here to invite you to come home.' ”

  • jpc53 Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 31, 2017 8:25 p.m.

    A returned missionary repeated the story this Sunday from the pulpit. Oops!

  • Pragmatic Salt Lake City, UT
    July 31, 2017 8:08 p.m.

    This is extremely disturbing. I have heard this story repeated many times. The first time I heard it, I said, "this story is fabricated". It seemed obvious to me. Why did not Elder Holland have any discernment? Why did he not vet this story? Why did he repeat this without first hand knowledge. Wreckless! No excuse for this.

  • Laurels Sandy, UT
    July 31, 2017 7:45 p.m.

    @TAS-Tehachapi, CA

    Big difference between Paul Dunn's circumstances and Elder Holland's. Dunn's stories were presented as his own, real-life experiences. Dunn didn't admit to the completely falsified or substantially embellished stories until others called him out on them.

    Elder Holland retold the story a family member shared with him. His mistake is that he should have contacted either the parents of the son who had been estranged from the family, or the son himself, to check the accuracy of the story's details. Additionally, he probably should have obtained permission from the parents and the son before it was shared at the Mission President's training session, or published.

    To Elder Holland's credit, he came forward about the inaccuracies as soon as he became aware of them. Dunn did not do that. He only came forward when he was presented with proof of his years of embellishment and misrepresentation.

    I imagine LDS Church leadership will do another re-examination of its vetting process for sharing stories of 3rd parties to preclude something like this from happening again.

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    July 31, 2017 7:35 p.m.

    I wondered about this. Dunnism?

  • NoNamesAccepted St. George, UT
    July 31, 2017 7:30 p.m.


    I wonder if critics of the LDS Church will ever have half the integrity and honor that Elder Holland has shown.

    Elder Holland has taken timely responsibility for the error and worked to correct that error. That is the honorable, responsible thing to do.

    He is not responsible for any inaccuracies that others may have conveyed.

    And of course, what perpetual critics claim are inaccuracies regarding church history, doctrines, or practices, are most often just personal disagreements and confirmation bias run amok.

    I have no beef with any person who doesn't believe LDS Church doctrines or who otherwise doesn't care to live as active LDS covenant and try to conduct themselves. I'd be right there with them save for a divinely granted testimony. But, I have very little use for those who leave the church but just can't leave it alone.

    Find a productive cause in which to engage. Building up something good is better than tearing down something, even if that something were as bad as some seem to think the LDS Church is.

  • boyd Ricks sandy/salt lake, UT
    July 31, 2017 7:11 p.m.

    I'm reminded of the "faith promoting rumors" that we sometimes hear in church. Stories have a way of growing in the telling. Thanks Elder Holland for clarifying the story.

  • ThinksIThink Seattle, WA
    July 31, 2017 7:11 p.m.

    I wonder if Elder Holland is going to withdraw any other factually inaccurate stories that Church leaders may have inadvertently shared. Where would you stop?

  • TAS Tehachapi, CA
    July 31, 2017 7:02 p.m.

    General Authorities have to be very careful when they tell second hand stories. They do not want to get in the same situation that Paul Dunn got himself into. Elder Holland was wise to say all the facts of the story he heard were not completely accurate.

  • Steve C. Warren WEST VALLEY CITY, UT
    July 31, 2017 6:26 p.m.

    Good for Elder Holland.

    In my ward's sacrament meeting, the story included a vicious dog in the older brother's yard that refused to let anyone enter the property. After the missionaries walked away, they apparently were inspired by the Spirit to return to the home, at which point the vicious dog, influenced by the Spirit, turned totally calm and let them knock on the door.

    I'm guessing, however, that this brother actually owns a dog. Whether it is receptive to the Spirit is, of course, another matter.

    A lot of stories told over the pulpit are embellished.