Does Loyalty Trump Honesty and Integrity?

JamesMormon 23 Comments

Does Loyalty Trump Honesty and Integrity?

Scene 1 –Imagine hearing the following from the 1st counselor in the Bishopric during Sacrament!


These images accompanied the email account of the Sergeant’s miraculous protection from bullets and the book’s own preservation during a vehicle fire that occurred days later.

“I thought you might appreciate this story. In this instance, I actually know Michael and his wife. The story is titled, LDS Military Miracle: Thought you’d find this timely . . . . it came from a friend of ours. . . Tonight my visiting teachers, the Lovelands, came by. They brought some photos that their grandson, Sgt. Schaub, sent them. I asked their permission to share it with my friends. Sgt. Schaub, who is in Iraq, had a set of scriptures taped together to make a quad. He had been reading his patriarchal blessing the night before and tucked it into the pages of his scriptures and the next morning, picked them up and tucked them into his shirt and his bulletproof vest. Sgt. Schaub led a troop out that morning and was rounding a corner when an Iraqi with a rifle met him. The Iraqi fired four bullets into his chest then ran out of bullets.

Sgt. Schaub stood there waiting to fall to the ground dying, but instead, grabbed his pistol and shot the Iraqi dead. It was discovered that the Iraqi’s bullets penetrated the bulletproof vest and went through the scriptures and stopped at the pages just before the patriarchal blessing. Days later, their military vehicle was hit by artillery and literally melted to the ground. The next day, Sgt. Schaub found the scriptures that were laying on the dashboard and only the outside of the pages had been burned. Amazing! I have attached the files which are virus free . . .. I made them myself. Attached to the email were photos of a Book of Mormon with bullet holes in it and some burned pages.


By Robert A. Rees

First of all I would like to say that I am a big fan of Mormon Legends and this is an exceptionally good one. But for argument sakes, imagine you heard this over the pulpit from the first councilor on the bishopric and it almost brought the congregation to tears. How would you handle it, assuming you knew it was a legend?

  • Would honesty and integrity trump loyalty to the bishops 1st councilor?
  • Is it worth setting the record straight?
  • Is your friendship with this councilor more important than correcting him?
  • Should we have the courage to help others stop perpetuating legends like the two above by any means?
  • What do you think Richard Bushman would do after he heard this in a sacrament talk?

Comments 23

  1. James – I have seen these types of corrections handled well. I’m a believer in keeping it real. I don’t find false stories inspiring, just manipulative. I would correct it kindly but clearly.

  2. I agree with Hawk. I’ve seen corrections made, even immediately following talks in which these stories were given. In a sacrament meeting I think it’s the Bishop’s responsibility, but I suppose if he’s the one to share a faux story, then I don’t know what you could do, other than tell him about it privately.

    As for loyalty vs. integrity, I don’t think it’s possible to be truly loyal without being honest. I don’t think being a yes-man or having a false sense of friendship is good. I think one should correct another humbly and in a spirit of love. It also helps if you already have a rapport of good relationship with the person (in this case the counselor). If I were in a leadership position, I would be upset if a friend did not correct an error this big.

  3. I agree with Hawkgrrrl…if one develops a positive, non-adversarial relationship with the leadership, one can explain the realities behind any myth without offense, provided one did it without a desire to prove superiority or to set oneself up as a light. I had one such bishop at BYU…he was even thinking of having me talk with a wayward daughter of his. Indeed, I have yet to see a bishop (and I have now had several of them in my day) be of an attitude where he would respond with remarks about how it’s the “principle that counts” (even though that is true). Apathy, not loyalty, keeps one silent.

  4. “Anne Bradshaw, an author of Christian books, gained recognition for her short stories in the New Era, an internationally acclaimed magazine for LDS youth. Her inspirational fiction appeared in the magazine for over sixteen years.”

    Thanks Hawkgrrrl – I think their is a big industry in the church that thrives on Fiction. –

    LDS fiction (or Mormon fiction) is a growing niche market of fiction novels featuring themes related to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the LDS Church, see also “Mormon”). Much of the recent rise in the number of titles and the improvement in the quality of LDS fiction is often attributed to Gerald Lund’s popular LDS historical fiction series The Work and the Glory. LDS fiction now accounts for more than half the sales of some Latter-day Saint book publishers. Growth in modern LDS fiction sales show no sign of slowing in spite of general criticism on quality and content.

  5. Hawkgrrrl, Adam and Russel

    Thanks for your comments and sorry the comment were closed I’m glad you were persistent.
    Just curious if it came to more of a doctrinal matter like some one teaching that Joseph Smith translated the whole book of Mormon with a Urim and Thumim instead of a black hat an seer stone would you steal have the same confidence to correct them?

  6. Absolutely. I would feel it to be even more urgent. That said, I wouldn’t just walk up and say: “Y’know, Bishop Jones, you’ve been given bad information, the way it REALLY happened was…” Christ had to appeal to his audience; we do as well. And much would depend on the severity of the error. I would say, “Bishop, I was interested to hear your account of the BOM translation. I’ve done some research of my own from sound believing scholars and I’ve found credible evidence from Joseph’s and others contemporary accounts that…(insert correction–explain Joseph’s upbringing). Reminds you of Peter’s handkerchief or the hem of Christ’s robe a bit!”

    Again, the most important element to me is genuine love for both the bishop and for the history.

  7. James, I don’t like the Mormon fiction industry much, but there is a BIG difference between generic LDS fiction and perpetuating urban legends and mis-statements as fact. The first, I simply ignore; the second, I try to correct privately and tactfully.

  8. “What Would Richard Bushman Do?” Like those evangelical products (hats, mugs, tee shirts) that say “WWJD” meaning “What Would Jesus Do?”

  9. This reminds me of when I sat in chapel foyer with a stake relief society president, a wonderful, sweet, loving woman. She was getting ready to address the sisters in a stake RS conference, and knowing my familiarity with such things, she asked me about the story she had heard regarding Del Parsons’ portrait of Jesus (the “red robe” picture so often used in modern LDS literature, prints, etc.), which she had planned to use in her talk. The story had been specifically denied in its entirely by Del Parsons, and I gently let her know this was the case. She furrowed her brow, thought for a few saeconds, and then cheerfully declared, “Well, I’m going to tell it anyway!”

  10. Yeah, Nick, some people just don’t get it – but I love how you characterized the woman anyway. I wish everyone could do what you just did in cases like these – recognize the character of the person even while decrying their use of stories like that.

  11. Post

    Ray 14

    Do you think its the mind set of Mormons nd maybe other religions. We like mystery and inspiring stories. If were not getting it in real life will make it up too feed our insatiable appetites for it.

  12. Nah, James, I think it’s natural for all humans. We like to be inspired. I have seen bogus urban legends passed around among atheists that address how stupid believers are. Granted, it’s more prevalent among theists, but I really believe it’s just part of being human.

  13. The question, is, in part, as to what kind of person are you?

    Why does the world seem to be completely insane?

    Yes, it always appears that you are in a minority of sane people (or perhaps you are the ONLY sane person) in a sea of completely confused crackpots. The reason that so many other people seem completely confused and wrongheaded is that they use different symbols and metaphors to view the world. It is impossible to discuss important issues such as politics, families, violence, justice, etc. without resorting to symbolism. Anything that does not directly refer to something that can be physically sensed, such as justice or one’s concept of God must be referred to by metaphor and symbol. If you and another use different symbols, you will be unable to communicate effectively. Some of the main metaphors in use today are:

    * Conventional religion
    * Science
    * Power, that is, dominance and submission
    * Artistic and aesthetic worth
    * Traditional political categories
    * Material wealth and security
    * Romanticism and relationships
    * Honor, valor, and courage
    * Bigotry, racism, and exclusivity
    * Depth psychology (Freud, Jung, etc.)
    * Humanism and “new age” psychology
    * Traditional philosophy

    Chances are that your views and beliefs about the world center around one or several of these metaphors. For example, if you see the world in terms of moral worth and submission to a higher law, you are conventionally religious. If you see the world in terms of cause and effect and experimenting to find the right solutions, you are oriented toward science.

    People who share one or more basic metaphors will find that they can communicate effectively with one another and work together constructively. People who do not share any metaphors will usually be unable to regard one another with anything beyond fear, hostility, and contempt. Because of this lack of communication between groups, most discussions of important issues in the public arena quickly degenerate into grandstanding and name calling, because in the absence of real understanding between the disagreeing parties, only mob psychology is left to sway public opinion.

    In all of this you may be left frustrated and unable to act, because you have not yet realized that:

    The World Doesn’t Want to be Saved.

    The world is a teeming mishmash of cultures with a bewildering array of values and ideologies engaged in their own version of the good life. People are generally not interested in changing the metaphors through which they view the world, so real understanding between groups with conflicting viewpoints is not achievable in the short term. The good news is, that’s OK, because the world isn’t supposed to be saved on a global scale. It must be saved at the level of the individual. And despite the fact that the level of the individual appears to be statistically insignificant, it is in fact the most significant, because it is only at the level of the individual that a creative synthesis of conflicting metaphors can occur. Once a connection is made at the individual level, the process of spreading successful new metaphors throughout society is essential automatic if the society is ready for them. If the society is not ready, the new metaphors will not be accepted under any circumstances. So don’t beat you head on a rock. Solve your own interpersonal communication problems. If the world is ready to benefit from your solutions, you will not be able to stop it from using them.

  14. Stephen

    “For example, if you see the world in terms of moral worth and submission to a higher law, you are conventionally religious. If you see the world in terms of cause and effect and experimenting to find the right solutions, you are oriented toward science.

    People who share one or more basic metaphors will find that they can communicate effectively with one another and work together constructively. People who do not share any metaphors will usually be unable to regard one another with anything beyond fear, hostility, and contempt.”

    Thank for sharing this- What about TBM’s who become NOM’s do you think they are more oriented to science?

  15. I had a bishop who interrupted a stake speaker who was leading up to the story about the Utah National Guard. A few years later, when the Relief Society president read the “generals in heaven” quote, I sent the bishop (a different one) a link to the debunking statement that came out a few years ago. The bishop had a conversation with her about it.

    Regarding the Book of Mormon translation, I don’t see much doctrinal difference between one stone in a hat vs. two stones in a silver bow. Of course historical accuracy is better than inaccuracy, so I would probably say something if an appropriate occasion arose. Otherwise, I’d probably just let it slide. I don’t necessarily feel a need to correct every historical misstatement unless I think it’s important, and to me, that one isn’t.

    Do we really know the color of the hat? I don’t remember that detail being in any of the accounts, but I might have missed it.

  16. 21 Left Field

    What is the Utah National Guard story?

    Your right on the color of the hat – I can’t find anything, everything was black back then! Great description though of the seer stones! The church has the seer stone Joseph Smith used maybe we have the hat that was used with it.

  17. I tried briefly without success to find the National Guard story online. I don’t think I ever actually read the story, but I had heard that there was some faith-promoting but fabricated story about the Utah National Guard in Iraq that was making the email rounds. The speaker was taking a long time to lead up to it, but it was obvious that he had received the email. Evidently, the bishop was also aware that the story was bogus, and he interrupted the talk.

  18. Thank for sharing this- What about TBM’s who become NOM’s do you think they are more oriented to science? Not that I’ve noticed.

    I’m still looking at the analysis on that site that I’ve quoted from, but the discussion of the different types of world views is interesting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *