By Stan Barker
Many years ago, as a young returned missionary, I often visited an LDS bookstore in Mesa, AZ where I enjoyed browsing for books to add to my library. I was therefore well acquainted with those who worked there. On one occasion, one of them informed me that a friend had told her about two young returned missionaries in the Phoenix area whose Patriarchal Blessings told them that they were to be the two special witnesses spoken of in the book of Revelation (New Testament) who were to testify and then die in the streets of Jerusalem (Rev. 11.3 & D.&C. 77:15). Since I had heard similar rumors relating to entirely different missionaries both during my mission and after my return, I strongly doubted the authenticity of the rumor. I challenged her to go back to her source to verify the information. A couple of weeks later, when I was visiting the store she approached me and said that I was right: The information simply could not be verified. I then explained to her that from all such rumors that I had heard there must be 10 – 20 missionaries who were to be the two witnesses in Jerusalem.
Since we at SHIELDS have taken upon ourselves the responsibility to research such rumors, to the best of our time and ability, we have received many inquiries about them. We have found that only about one rumor in every 10 can be verified as true.
Why do Mormons like to pass around such rumors? I suppose it is partly because they feel it is faith promoting (read: testimony building). But is it? What of those rumors where people have believed them, thinking they have increased their own faith, only to later find out that the rumor is untrue? Take a look at our Hoaxes page to discover just how many false rumors have made the rounds (this is just a small listing of the queries we receive). We have at least one example of critics cooking up a rumor to pass around in an attempt to make Mormons look silly. Fortunately, we at SHIELDS were able to nip it in the bud. It would be wise to consider the possibility that what you are passing around just might have been invented by some ill-intentioned mind. Should our testimonies and the strength of them be based on rumors? Doesn’t that seem silly and weak? It is. We have received better instructions from the Lord on how to obtain and strengthen our testimonies. Let’s trust Him instead.
So, what good are faith-promoting rumors? No good. They are worthless. Ignore them. They really don’t help a soul. In many cases they can actually harm a weak testimony. Don’t pass them around!
Additional Note (added 10 April 2006): We have added excerpts from a Letter from the First Presidency that has application to passing around rumors. It can be found in our Hoaxes section on SHIELDS, or by clicking here.
Originally posted June 30 2006. Reposted 19 March 2009 due to changing Internet hosts.