Subject: Dallin Oaks's explanation why he and other GA's were unable to detect Mark Hofmann's forgeries ......
Date: Sep 11 10:09 2003
Author: Rollo Tomasi

An oldie, but a goodie, from the October 1987 Ensign:

"Some have asked, how was Mark Hofmann able to deceive Church leaders?

"As everyone now knows, Hofmann succeeded in deceiving many: experienced Church historians, sophisticated collectors, businessmen-investors, national experts who administered a lie detector test to Hofmann, and professional document examiners, including the expert credited with breaking the Hitler diary forgery. But why, some still ask, were his deceits not detected by the several Church leaders with whom he met?

"In order to perform their personal ministries, Church leaders cannot be suspicious and questioning of each of the hundreds of people they meet each year. Ministers of the gospel function best in an atmosphere of trust and love. In that kind of atmosphere, they fail to detect a few deceivers, but that is the price they pay to increase their effectiveness in counseling, comforting, and blessing the hundreds of honest and sincere people they see. It is better for a Church leader to be occasionally disappointed than to be constantly suspicious."

Oaks tries to pooh-pooh away Hofmann's lies as small and insignificant, which he thinks explains why there was a minor breakdown in the GA's "sh*t detector" abilities (via inspiration no less). In the same speech, however, Oaks states that Hofmann's forgeries "rocked the foundation of the Church." One would think that given the monumental lies and deceit by Hofmann, their failure to detect him would not qualify as a minor snafu, but a major one, perhaps the greatest in LDS Church history.

Subject: Re: Dallin Oaks's explanation why he and other GA's were unable to detect Mark Hofmann's forgeries ......
Date: Sep 11 10:11
Author: Wag

>>Ministers of the gospel function best in an atmosphere of trust and love.

Yup. So does everyone else! This is only saying that the Mormon church leaders are no different than anyone else.


Subject: Re: When you live, breath and ......
Date: Sep 11 10:17
Author: SD

and eat bullshit for a living like Oaks and his cohorts do of course it will be more difficult to recognize it when it comes your way. Hofman's brilliance was he understood the Church's weak underbelly and he knew exactly how to approach Church leaders with his wares. He was probably one of the smartest criminals in the 20th Century.

Subject: Blackmail
Date: Sep 11 12:47
Author: UFTS

While I definitely do not condone most of his actions, in a twisted kind of way I enjoyed the way he "used" the church by playing on its vulnerabilities (one could say "blackmail"). He played the leaders like putty.

I agree with your assessment.

Subject: Why then do we need a prophet?
Date: Sep 11 10:39
Author: Just Thinking

A 'Seer' is supposed to see into the future, but what did Hinckley 'see' when he met with Hofman?

Isn't it the prophet's responsibility to make wise use of the church's tithing funds?

Isn't it his responsibility to thwart the designs of Satan?

Anyone can trust, and have that trust abused, but GAs are supposed to have an inside track when it comes to heavenly guidance. If they can be so readily duped, to the man, by a greedy little con man what does that say about their ability to make wise decisions in any other area of church leadership?

When it came to exposing Hofman's lies, it was the perception of police detectives, not prophets, that brought forth the truth.

Subject: I know beyond a shadow of a doubt....
Date: Sep 11 10:42
Author: PtLoma

....that the Tanners are obviously more inspired than the Fifteen Big Bananas, since only they and not the Brethren were able to detect Hofmann's fraud. I can feel their special spirit. ;)

Subject: But how many of the "hundreds of people" they meet each year are trying to sell them something?
Date: Sep 11 12:01
Author: Stray Mutt

If members are supposed to make prayerful consideration of nearly every decision facing them, how is it the brethren need not make prayerful consideration before handing over tens of thousands of dollars? How was it, in their numerous dealings with Hofmann, none of the brethren once felt moved by the Spirit to say, "Brethren, I don't know what it is, but something's not quite right."
Oh, I forgot, it's because they have no gifts of the Spirit to begin with.

Subject: Oaks admitted they are not following Jesus's counsel?
Date: Sep 11 13:06
Author: hk112358

Rollo Tomasi wrote: (Quoting Oaks)

> "... Ministers of the gospel function best in an atmosphere of trust and love. In that kind of atmosphere, they fail to detect a few deceivers ... It is better for a Church leader to be occasionally disappointed than to be constantly suspicious."

But Jesus of Nazerath is supposed to have counseled his disciples:

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpants, and harmless as doves." (Matt. 10:16).

It seems the mandate from Jesus was to trust no one.

Consequently, the story of Ananias is another sign they were uninspired. In Acts 5, Ananias held back a little money. Peter, through the Holy Ghost (verse 3), detected this. And Ananias died when he was confronted about it.

In summary:
(1) If they were trusting everyone, they were not following the mandate in Matt. 10.
(2) If they did not trust Hofmann but were still deceived (admitted to by Oaks), they were uninspired, since Peter detected Ananias' holding back a small portion of money from a sold possession, Acts 5.

Subject: If the shepherds can't protect the flock...
Date: Sep 11 13:18
Author: Fly

...why are they on the payroll? These Mormon shepherds can't discern the sheep from the wolves.

Oaks claims that the leaders are "occasionally disappointed" by the members, but if you ask me, the leaders are the big disappointments here.

Subject: It's interesting that Oaks claims the GAs were too involved being compassionate, trusting and understanding of the flock to pick up on Hofmann's lies . . .
Date: Sep 11 13:53
Author: steve benson

Oaks struck neither Mary Ann or myself--when we met with him and Maxwell to discuss our concerns about Church history, policy and doctrine--as being a particularly sympathetic figure.  ( See Mormon115 )

To the contrary, during much of our conversation, he was lawyer-like, angry-looking, skeptical, argumentative and defensive. Mary Ann went so far as to later describe him as "evil."

As Maxwell admitted to me, Oaks was brought into the Quorum of the Twelve at the encouragement of Maxwell himself--largely, he said, because of Oaks' expertise in legal matters.

Subject: Oaks certainly wasn't brought into the 12 because of his ecclesiastical prowess ....
Date: Sep 11 14:39
Author: Rollo Tomasi

He never served a mission, he was never a bishop, he was never a stake president. He never really got down in the trenches on a personal level to counsel and help others. He was/is a bulldog of a lawyer, which led to his BYU job, then Utah's Supreme Court, and finally the 12. And we all know that GA's live in an ivory tower and only have real contact with local leaders, not the members themselves. So this is a bunch of bull. He and the other GA's were conned by Hofmann, just like many others (except for the Tanners, of course), and he and the others have no excuse why, as "living prophets," they blew it on Hofmann.

Subject: Re: Dallin Oaks's explanation why he and other GA's were unable to detect Mark Hofmann's forgeries ......
Date: Sep 11 15:05
Author: rofecoxib

>>>It is better for a Church leader to be occasionally disappointed than to be constantly suspicious.

And yet how often do youth/missionary interviews constantly dwell on questions like, "Elder, do you masturbate?"

I recall, from my MTC days that we were given an "opportunity" to confess our sins to our Branch Presidents. The mental manipulation that preceeded these interviews astounds me to this day. I became utterly convinced, that these "men of God" had such great powers of discernment, that they would be able to detect even the slightest attempt to withhold my sins from them. If God will reveal some minor sexual dalliance to a branch president or bishop, why not a forger and murderer to an apostle?

Elder Oakes' answer is simply not sufficient. An atmosphere of trust and love may be great for a bishop relating to his ward, but when someone is trying to sell you something supposedly rare and expensive, it is only smart to express skepticism. Has not Elder Oakes ever bought a used car?

Subject: Hofmann killed people. Nevermind the forgeries, those are minor, compared to
Date: Sep 11 15:23
Author: SusieQ#1

the reason he is in prison.

In other words, the GA's are so busy trying to cover their arses, (which they call -- "trust") that they can't be bothered with checking this guy out!

Of all the times to go on a fishing expedition to check out his home, this would have been it. But, nope, the GA's are more interested in tapping the phones of people who might be associating with the "enemy" -- those dreaded, evil apostates.

Prophet Seer and Revelator are aka's for Corporation President. And apparently, there is no Heavenly Father to answer a prayer about forged documents and a murderer about to launch his attack.

Subject: "Follow the prophet, follow the prophet, he knows the way..."
Date: Sep 11 15:30
Author: PRAVDA
Mail Address:

Primary children have these mantras drilled into their heads with songs of endless worship toward the modern prophets and apostles and their supposed ability to "know the way".

Scriptural accounts of prophets discerning attempts at mocking GOD abound (of course they are fictional, manning far easier than spotting the crook in real life). Some include Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Elijah, Gideon, Moses, Joshua, Nephi, Alma, Jesus, Paul, Joseph Smith and so forth.

All of these and more in some instance were clued in by the spirit of deceptions and lies. If, as the temple ceremony claims "GOD shall not be mocked", very little of this ability is being transferred to modern leaders.

But the faithful still fail to see the monumental pile of BS they're being fed by these people.

Subject: Hofmann's forgeries show the state of Apostles "testimony"
Date: Sep 11 16:47
Author: Peter F. Priesthood

I think the apostles acted in a way consistent with non belief of truthfulness of the first vision. If they believed it was true... and actually knew its true (I always thought apostles had their own personal first visions when they became apostles), then they should have been naturally suspicious of the documents Hoffman was pedaling, and would have done everything they could to discredit them.

The Salamander Letter contradicted the canonized version of the first vision. Just like the other 4 or 5 versions that are out there. The apostles obviously know there's issues with that otherwise they wouldn't have been so quick to buy those documents to hide them from the rest of us. It shows that they give credit to the idea that the First Vision Story we know today is horse pucky. They were just excercizing damage control.

That's a more accurate depiction of what happened. They were pre-occupied with damage control, rather than detecting this fraud.

The irony of Jerald Tanner, the quinticential anti-mormon, who desperately wanted the Salamander letter to be authentic, discovering the fraud before the Apostles of Christ, who should have desperately wanted them to not be authentic. But obviously thought they were.

Subject: Couldn't agree more . . .
Date: Sep 11 17:23
Author: Hopping Through

This whole episode was a big deal for me in my emotional/intellectual transition out.

-- Why didn't they detect the forgeries and the dishonest character of Hofmann?

-- Why is the church buying up old documents? Wouldn't that be better and more properly done by museums and private collectors?

-- Why are they buying controversial historical documents and then hiding them?

-- Why are they lying -- even to other apostles -- about their possession of these documents?

-- If they truly believed the account of the first vision, why did they take these documents so seriously?

-- Why did they assume it was their job to "protect" our testimonies by hiding "the truth"? Is it the assumption of the church hierarchy that we are all children, to be spoon-fed as they feel we are "ready"?

The Hofmann episode was horrendous. Making excuses about it is pitiable. Why can't they just fess up and move on?

Subject: The fact that church leaders were acquiring
Date: Sep 11 19:09
Author: Bortugal

these documents, popularizing the favorable ones (like the so called Anthon Transcript) in the Church News, and trying to hide or explain away (also in the Church News) unfavorable ones, indicates that their encounters with Hofman were not simple incidental meetings. They were mentally, emotionally, and financially invested in their dealings with them. To make such an investment means that they in fact must have had some skepticism (as Steve Benson noted above, Oaks was above all a "lawyer" in manner). Either the church leaders were malfeasant, negligent, and derelict in their business and church dealings, or, they weren't inspired. Take your pick.


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