Friday, March 30, 2012

Church unhappy with BBC interview of Elder Holland

The BBC has produced and aired a documentary on Mormonism and Mitt Romney. "The Mormon Candidate" will air in the U.S. later this year. BBC reporter John Sweeney interviewed Elder Jeffery R. Holland of the Quorum of Twelve, a church spokesman, polygamists, Mitt Romney's cousin, disaffected Mormons and others for the production. 

Sweeney's film is an expose' style documentary, focusing primarily on controversial issues of the LDS church. He conducted an interview with Elder Holland who confirmed the continued existences of the Strengthening Church Members Committee.  He said it primarily protects members of the church from predatory practices of polygamists, but also monitors for other "insidious" influences.

Elder Holland confirmed that secrecy penalties were part of the temple ceremony, but had been done away with (in the 1990s). Sweeney wanted to confirm that Mitt Romney had taken an oath that included such a penalty, which Elder Holland confirmed. He also noted that while the penalties were similar to Masonic penalties, they were part of making promises to God, as is done in other religions. 

The documentary also explored how unfaithful Mormons can be excluded by families, and are not allowed to attend temple weddings of family members.  Elder Holland noted "if I had a son, this very day, given the office that I have and the visibility that this means, if I had a son or daughter who left the church or was alienated or had a problem I can tell you that I would not cut that child out of family life."

Other topics discussed with Elder Holland include the translation of the Book of Abraham, Baptisms for the Dead, and Joseph Smith's 1826 trail as a con man.

The church was apparently unhappy with the interview.  Below are excerpts of BBC employee criticised after PRs hand deliver Mormon documentary complaint.

A BBC employee has been criticised by colleagues for allegedly allowing two PRs representing the Mormon church. [They] took the unusual step of delivered a letter in person complaining about The Mormon Candidate, made by reporter John Sweeney.

The letter complained about an interview which Sweeney conducted with Mormon apostle Elder Jeffrey Holland, which the church claims was "an ambush" according to a BBC source.

Sweeney, disputes these claims, insisting that Elder Holland was fully briefed about who he was and what he wanted to talk about.