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Tim Ballard


Calm

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5 minutes ago, Calm said:

"The ties between Tim Ballard and Elder Ballard described in the documents are numerous and occasionally bizarre, involving claimed business arrangements, blessings, and even a psychic who claimed to be able to communicate with the prophet Nephi, "

 

I'm intrigued in a just saw a car crash sort of way.

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While the mission was going on, a witness told investigators, Tim Ballard placed at least one phone call to Elder Ballard “to plan the press release of rescuing Gardy.”

So was it for real or staged, I wonder.

Heading towards being another hedge prophet, leader of the 144,000 or a Davidic king I also wonder?

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Per the report, the woman added that, according to Tim Ballard, “restoring America to the covenant was ‘a big mission of his (Tim)’ and he was ‘called’ of ‘God’ to do this. She added that he was, in Purdy’s retelling, “very verbal about Elder Russell Ballard’s involvement and behind it” but added “that she didn’t know if she believed that.” 

Why am I flashing back to Melanie Gibb’s interview with Nate Eaton?

Edited by Calm
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2 minutes ago, Calm said:

So was it for real or staged, I wonder.

Heading towards being another hedge prophet, leader of the 144,000 or a Davidic king I also wonder?

OUR has been a scam from day one. T. Ballard was only ever in it for his own benefit; fame, money, notoriety. He regularly took credit for the work of legitimate law enforcement agencies, while simultaneously putting people in harm's way.

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10 minutes ago, Calm said:

So was it for real or staged, I wonder.

Heading towards being another hedge prophet, leader of the 144,000 or a Davidic king I also wonder?

I believe there’s another thread where the consensus was regarding a member, with a relatively well-known TikTok account, that it was highly inappropriate to speculate on their faith and motivations. I’m curious where the line is on when it’s okay to speculate about members and when it’s not.

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From the thread I started on this same article:

Here:

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Mormon Church Denounces Tim Ballard’s “Morally Unacceptable” Activities

A church spokesperson tells VICE News that Ballard “betrayed his friendship” with a powerful leader, who “never authorized his name, or the name of the Church, to be used for Tim’s personal or financial interests.”   

Hmm.  I have real reservations about Vice as a news outlet, but let's see what it has to say.

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Documents obtained by VICE News show anti-trafficking activist Tim Ballard claimed that a revered and powerful figure in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints played a secret, central role in Operation Underground Railroad, or OUR, the organization Ballard founded. Insiders who spoke to federal and local investigators as part of a since-closed criminal inquiry described Ballard claiming that OUR and his personal business ventures were backed by the senior member of the church’s second-highest leadership body, and part of a larger mission to use the anti-trafficking cause to bring Americans to the Mormon faith—or, in his words, “lead them to the covenant.” 

The reference to the "second-highest leadership body" is the Quorum of the Twelve.

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“Tim is fully convinced that he is supposed to be the 'Mormon Messiah and lead people back to the church,’” read notes from an interview between criminal investigators and a former OUR higher-up.

The "Mormon Messiah" is Jesus Christ.  I suspect Mr. Ballard does not claim to be Jesus.  And since Ballard has apparently had a serious falling out with OUR, a hearsay-within-hearsay quotation from an anonymous "former OUR higher-up" does not, in my view, carry much probative weight.

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But now a spokesperson for the church tells VICE News that while the apostle in question, President M. Russell Ballard, was once close to Tim Ballard—to whom he is not related, despite their sharing a last name—the OUR founder “betrayed their friendship, through the unauthorized use of President Ballard’s name for Tim Ballard’s personal advantage and activity regarded as morally unacceptable.” 

Elder Ballard’s relationship with Tim Ballard is, the church spokesperson told VICE News, “in the past.” They did not specify what activity was regarded as morally unacceptable.

Hmm.  "{A} spokesperson for the church" is speaking to Vice?  Who is this spokesperson, and why is Vice keeping the identity unstated?

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Tim Ballard did not respond to a detailed request for comment; OUR provided a statement which is reproduced in full below. 

The unusually public denunciation of Tim Ballard is particularly newsworthy at this moment. 

Yes, such a denunciation would indeed be "newsworthy," but is it "public"?  I can't find any outlet except Vice reporting on this.  Nothing in the Church's Newsroom about this.  The Newsroom does have a transcript of October 2019 remarks by Elder Ballard in Worchester, Massachusetts which includes a passing reference to a "Tim Ballard":

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This past summer, I visited Plimoth Plantation, about 80 miles from here, with my son Craig, son-in-law Brad, and family friend, Tim Ballard.
...
During this visit, Tim told the story of Henry Knox, a 25-year-old bookseller in Boston who joined the American Revolution and played a key role in forcing the British military out of Boston and New England. Knox convinced General George Washington, the leader of the American Continental Army, to move the artillery recently captured at Fort Ticonderoga, a fort at the south end of Lake Champlain in northern New York, to Boston. 

Anyway, back to the Vice article:

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He left OUR earlier this year following an internal investigation into employee complaints about his conduct at virtually the same moment that Sound of Freedom, a fictionalized version of his purported child-rescuing exploits, became a surprise box office hit. He has since begun promoting a new anti-trafficking organization, the SPEAR Fund. 

But he is also said by many Utah insiders to be weighing a run for Senate—speculation that was given more weight by a recent statement from Sean Reyes, the Utah attorney general, who’s also a longtime friend and supporter. (Reyes wrote that he would not be running for Senate, allowing “an opportunity for a dear friend of mine who is a great conservative, patriot, and warrior to run and serve as the next Senator from Utah.” Reyes said that person would announce their run in the coming days.)

I understand that Mitt Romney has announced he will not be seeking a second term in the Senate.

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The documents, obtained by VICE News through a public-records request, are from a now-closed criminal investigation into OUR conducted jointly by a Utah county attorney and the FBI.

Interesting that Vice has not published these documents.  I have just now submitted my own public-records request for these documents.

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Several people, according to the documents, described exceptionally close ties between the two Ballards. Elder Ballard, who is in his 90s, is the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, an extremely senior position within the church, and is viewed by faithful Mormons as a profound spiritual and moral authority. People familiar with OUR’s operations have previously told VICE News that Tim Ballard has sometimes claimed that Elder Ballard personally urged him to quit his previous job at Homeland Security Investigations to found OUR.

So Ballard has had a serious falling out with OUR.

Vice is quoting "several people" regarding "exceptionally close ties between the two Ballards" and "{p}eople familiar with OUR's operations" for the proposition that "Tim Ballard has sometimes claimed that Elder Ballard personally urged him to quit his previous job at Homeland Security Investigations to found OUR."

Anonymous multiple hearsay does not really inspire much confidence, particularly when the anonymous statements veer into the "bizarre" as follows:

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The ties between Tim Ballard and Elder Ballard described in the documents are numerous and occasionally bizarre, involving claimed business arrangements, blessings, and even a psychic who claimed to be able to communicate with the prophet Nephi, who according to the Book of Mormon has been dead for thousands of years.

Kinda skeptical about this stuff.  This is particularly suspect given the position Elder Ballard has publicly taken, such as these remarks during the October 2017 General Conference:

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We must be careful where our footsteps in life take us. We must be watchful and heed the counsel of Jesus to His disciples as He answered these questions: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
 
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man [and I add woman] deceive you.”9
 
Today I repeat earlier counsel from Church leaders.
  • Brothers and sisters, keep the doctrine of Christ pure and never be deceived by those who tamper with the doctrine. The gospel of the Father and the Son was restored through Joseph Smith, the prophet for this last dispensation.
  • Do not listen to those who have not been ordained and/or set apart to their Church calling and are not acknowledged by common consent of the members of the Church.10
  • Be aware of organizations, groups, or individuals claiming secret answers to doctrinal questions that they say today’s apostles and prophets do not have or understand.
  • Do not listen to those who entice you with get-rich schemes. Our members have lost far too much money, so be careful.
In some places, too many of our people are looking beyond the mark and seeking secret knowledge in expensive and questionable practices to provide healing and support.
 
An official Church statement, issued one year ago, states: “We urge Church members to be cautious about participating in any group that promises—in exchange for money—miraculous healings or that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of properly ordained priesthood holders.”11
 
The Church Handbook counsels: “Members should not use medical or health practices that are ethically or legally questionable. Local leaders should advise members who have health problems to consult with competent professional practitioners who are licensed in the countries where they practice.”12
 
Brothers and sisters, be wise and aware that such practices may be emotionally appealing but may ultimately prove to be spiritually and physically harmful.
___________
9. Matthew 24:3–4.
10. See Doctrine and Covenants 26:2; 28:13; 43:6–7.
11. Church spokesman Eric Hawkins, Sept. 2016.
12. Handbook 2, 21.3.6.

Directly from the mouth of Pres. Ballard:

  • "{N}ever be deceived by those who tamper with the doctrine."
  • "Do not listen to those who have not been ordained and/or set apart to their Church calling and are not acknowledged by common consent of the members of the Church."
  • "Be aware of organizations, groups, or individuals claiming secret answers to doctrinal questions that they say today’s apostles and prophets do not have or understand."
  • "In some places, too many of our people are looking beyond the mark and seeking secret knowledge in expensive and questionable practices to provide healing and support."
  • "An official Church statement, issued one year ago, states: 'We urge Church members to be cautious about participating in any group that promises—in exchange for money—miraculous healings or that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of properly ordained priesthood holders.'"
  • "Brothers and sisters, be wise and aware that such practices may be emotionally appealing but may ultimately prove to be spiritually and physically harmful."

From Vice, purportedly quoting unpublished "documents," which purportedly quote unnamed sources (including, it seems, hostile sources), which purportedly speak about: "business arrangements, blessings, and even a psychic who claimed to be able to communicate with the prophet Nephi."

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Allegations from a former OUR higher-up as well as text messages contained in the documents obtained by VICE News suggest that Tim Ballard and an associate represented Elder Ballard as a partner in a for-profit business called Slave Stealers, which was pitched as a way to control OUR and other non-profits. It was apparently viewed as part of a scheme that would allow Tim Ballard to monetize the notoriety he gained through his often exaggerated exploits

Tim Ballard apparently wrote a book entitled "Slave Stealers."

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Tim Ballard also claimed, according to the documents, that Elder Ballard maintained close contact with him during at least one disastrous overseas mission, which was based on information obtained by the psychic medium and aimed at rescuing a missing child. Ballard said the Mormon elder blessed him and his wife Katherine beforehand and received real-time updates from on the ground.

Vice says unpublished documents say some unidentified source says...

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In response to a detailed request for comment on these matters, a spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sent a statement, which reads, in full:  

President Ballard and Tim Ballard (no relation) established a friendship a number of years ago. That friendship was built on a shared interest in looking after God’s children wherever they are and without regard to their circumstance. However, that relationship is in the past. For many months, President Ballard has had no contact with the founder of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR). The nature of that relationship was always in support of vulnerable children being abused, trafficked, and otherwise neglected. Once it became clear Tim Ballard had betrayed their friendship, through the unauthorized use of President Ballard’s name for Tim Ballard’s personal advantage and activity regarded as morally unacceptable, President Ballard withdrew his association.  President Ballard never authorized his name, or the name of the Church, to be used for Tim’s personal or financial interests.

In addition, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints never endorsed, supported or represented OUR, Tim Ballard or any projects associated with them.

President Ballard loves children, all over the world. It has been his mission and life’s work to look after them, care for them, and point them to their Savior.

I'd like to see this statement so as to confirm its authenticity.

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In an email to Sean Reyes, the Utah attorney general, Troy Rawlings, a prosecutor in Davis County, Utah whose office carried out the now-closed investigation into OUR, wrote that he had “somewhere around 10,000 pages” of psychic readings. Those were conducted by Janet Russon, a psychic medium who “talks to dead Mormon leaders, particularly a Mormon Prophet from 600BC named Nephi, to get intel,” Rawlings wrote. (Russon declined to comment on her work with OUR when reached by VICE News; Rawlings did not respond to a request for comment.)

There is a "Janet Russon" who owns a house in Provo. 

Also, Lynn Packer (self-styled "journalist, investigative reporter, and nephew to the late LDS/Mormon apostle Boyd K. Packer") has published at least two videos about OUR which reference Russon (here and here, both more than two years old) which reference Janet Russon as a "psychic" associated with OUR previously identified as such by . . . Vice.  And Vice's prior (and, it seems, current) characterization of Russon as a "psychic" is based on statements attributed to "one source" and "{a} second person."

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Rawlings made it clear that he thought donors to OUR would be dismayed by the idea that its paramilitary missions were guided by a psychic and a deceased Mormon prophet. “Donors are not made aware that Nephi, via Mr. [sic] Russon, is the key piece of O.U.R. Operational Intelligence,” he added. 

Criminal investigators were interested in the nexus between Russon, Tim Ballard, and the church. One document VICE News obtained is a memo describing an interview between an FBI special agent and a Davis County investigator and a former OUR development director, whom we are not naming at her request. This person "said she had not heard that Janet was ever vetted or vouched for by the LDS church," the memo reads. "But stated Tim blurred lines and would frequently say, 'I told Elder Ballard all about it.'"

This is starting to become a bit more substantive.

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Further, according to the former development director’s statements to investigators, Tim Ballard claimed that Elder Ballard was involved in Liberty 89—a business in Utah whose registered agent is Tim Ballard, according to public filings. At a meeting with Tim Ballard and a group of his associates, who claimed to have “visions and special intelligence of the second coming,” the former development director said, she was made aware that this venture had to do with God calling Tim Ballard to “restore America to the covenant.”

"Tim was very verbal about Elder Russell Ballard's involvement,” she said. "Tim would say that M. Russell Ballard is a part of Liberty 89.”

That wasn’t the only time that Tim Ballard leaned on his friendship with Elder Ballard to suggest the Mormon leader had given his support to a project. Before the disastrous mission to locate Gardy Mardy (a missing boy whose story Tim Ballard and OUR have over the years made central to the narrative of their fight against trafficking) using intelligence gleaned from Russon, the psychic medium, Tim Ballard reported to a group of associates that Elder Ballard had blessed the operation. 

"Through the whole process and all these miracles, I have reported back to Elder Ballard at least every month, sometimes more,” he said, according to an investigator’s transcript of a video recording of the meeting. “And on the way to the airport last night, I stopped by his house and Katherine and I spent about an hour with him. And he gave me a very powerful blessing." (Katherine is Tim Ballard’s wife.)

While the mission was going on, a witness told investigators, Tim Ballard placed at least one phone call to Elder Ballard “to plan the press release of rescuing Gardy.”

Yeesh.

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Other former OUR insiders had also gotten an earful from Tim Ballard about his ties to the Mormon power structure. According to one document, in October 2020 an FBI special agent named Luke (no last name provided) and Bryan Purdy, an investigator for the Davis County Attorney’s Office, interviewed Dave Lopez, a former Navy SEAL who previously led the “ops team” at OUR. 

“Tim said multiple times, ‘It's his job to use the sizzle of the rescue to lead people back to the Mormon covenant,’” Lopez said, according to Purdy’s report. “Dave stated that according to Tim, that's what this is all about, that's why he's doing all the movies and all the storytelling. He believes the Mormon Church is actually doing that with him, that Elder (M. Russell) Ballard of the Mormon Church is working with him on that secret agenda. He believes that it's his job to be this famous kind of celebrity that gets everyone's attention, but then in turn leads everyone to Mormonism."

Vice says Purdy said Dave said Tim said Elder Ballard "is working with him {Tim} on that secret agenda {to lead people back to the Mormon covenant}."

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Lopez told investigators that Tim Ballard had developed a messianic view of himself.  "Dave said he thinks Tim is fully convinced that he is supposed to be the 'Mormon Messiah and lead people back to the church,'" the report reads.

Here's the "Mormon Messiah" thing again.  

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Lopez’s final break with OUR, he told investigators, came when an associate of Tim Ballard’s tried to persuade him to invest in Slave Stealers, which would, according to a diagram drawn by Tim Ballard on which VICE News has previously reported, control his various non-profits, which would then promote his personal brand. “Take sizzle of the rescue, lead them to the covenant,” read a note on the diagram—an apparent reference to a plan to use OUR’s highly-publicized child-rescue missions as a way to lead Americans to the Mormon faith.

1694788105514-whiteboard.jpeg?resize=800
A WHITEBOARD DRAWN BY TIM BALLARD IN 2019.

Weird stuff, this.

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Text messages Lopez provided to investigators show an associate of Tim Ballard’s elaborating on the convoluted scheme. (VICE News is not naming the associate because he could not be reached for comment.) The texts stated that partners, including Elder Ballard, would control a for-profit entity that would have “main control of OUR”—and proposing to bring together, if necessary, Elder Ballard and a business partner of Lopez’s with whom he was planning an island development.

1694787971208-ss.jpeg?resize=800:*
A DETAIL FROM AN INVESTIGATIVE RECORD OBTAINED BY VICE NEWS.

Slave Stealers did not, in the end, amount to much; nor, seemingly, did the plan to have it take control of OUR. 

More weird.

I'm starting to lend more credence to the Church's spokesperson making a statement about this.  

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The relationship between the two Ballards, however, did not end there, according to the documents. In August 2021, Purdy, the Davis County investigator, and the FBI special agent referred to in documents only as Luke, interviewed the woman who worked as OUR’s director of development.

In that interview, the woman in question said in the 2015-2020 time frame, she repeatedly met Mormon leaders in Tim Ballard’s company. She said she met Elder Ballard, with whom Tim Ballard claimed to privately meet monthly, in the company of Tim Ballard and Elder Ronald Rasband, who within the church had authority over Haiti, an area in which OUR has operated extensively. She said had another meeting with both Ballards, and one with Rasband, Tim Ballard, and other OUR highers-up, as well as several meetings with Elder Ballard in the VIP area of OUR events.

(A church spokesperson indicated that Elder Rasband has no recollection of ever meeting with Tim Ballard or his staff.)

Hmm.

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At a later point, the woman said that she was, in her official work capacity, brought to a meeting with Tim Ballard’s associates, where he told her that because she had “shared some spiritual things,” he could tell her about “secret things that I’m involved in.” This was the meeting at which Tim Ballard claimed Elder Ballard was involved in Liberty 89.

Per the report, the woman added that, according to Tim Ballard, “restoring America to the covenant was ‘a big mission of his (Tim)’ and he was ‘called’ of ‘God’ to do this. She added that he was, in Purdy’s retelling, “very verbal about Elder Russell Ballard’s involvement and behind it” but added “that she didn’t know if she believed that.” 

Again, Pres. Ballard's 2017 General Conference talk comes to mind.

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For now, Ballard’s professional and political futures aren’t certain– but he has made ambitious efforts to move himself closer to a new power structure. On Wednesday, he testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where he made a highly politicized statement about the Biden administration’s role in aiding human trafficking, one which proved immediately popular with right-wing news sites. 

“Tragically, as a result of this administration’s current policies, [the Department of Homeland Security] and [the Department of Health and Human Services] have unwittingly become a child trafficking delivery service,” Ballard said, in part. 

It’s difficult to imagine that Ballard could successfully run for elected office after being effectively denounced by the power structure of the most powerful religion in his home state. But he has proven himself, if nothing else, to be remarkably persistent, willing to reinvent himself—to spin new stories, to seek new allies—as many times as necessary. 

In response to requests for comment about this story as well as another one, an OUR spokesperson sent one statement, which read as follows:

These allegations have been raised previously, written about by Vice and thoroughly investigated by the Davis County District Attorney. That investigation concluded without the filing of any charges.

Following Tim Ballard's departure from O.U.R. three months ago, we have been working tirelessly to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our domestic and international operations.

At O.U.R., we are proud to support law enforcement in liberating any person in the grips of human trafficking or exploitation and we strive to ensure ongoing aftercare for all those affected.  Our resources have contributed to the arrest of over 7,400 suspected predators and have impacted the lives of over 7,800 individuals. Currently, we are carrying out an average of five missions per week worldwide. We are committed to this important work until everyone in need is safe.

Weird stuff all around.

Thanks,

-Smac

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10 minutes ago, Judd said:

I believe there’s another thread where the consensus was regarding a member, with a relatively well-known TikTok account, that it was highly inappropriate to speculate on their faith and motivations. I’m curious where the line is on when it’s okay to speculate about members and when it’s not.

For me the criminal investigation makes a difference as well as it seems he was involved in fraudulent activity.

If you are aware of any claims of Dan defrauding someone, feel free to put those up.

I also see a huge difference when someone close to a member makes accusations against them rather than it being total strangers appraising from afar.

Edited by Calm
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41 minutes ago, Judd said:

I believe there’s another thread where the consensus was regarding a member, with a relatively well-known TikTok account, that it was highly inappropriate to speculate on their faith and motivations. I’m curious where the line is on when it’s okay to speculate about members and when it’s not.

If I understand your question, the board rule was for those participating on the board where posters were called apostates and such for having different opinions. 

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1 hour ago, Judd said:

I believe there’s another thread where the consensus was regarding a member, with a relatively well-known TikTok account, that it was highly inappropriate to speculate on their faith and motivations. I’m curious where the line is on when it’s okay to speculate about members and when it’s not.

The critique of and speculation about Dan McClellan (I assume you are referring to mine, and to Calm's subsequent criticism of it) centered on (A) his public statements about the Bible, the Church, Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon, etc., and (B) to what extent these public statements reflect his personal religious beliefs and testimony of the Restored Gospel.  I think most of the complaints have been about  "speculation" regarding (B), not (A) (since the authenticity of (A) - his public statements - is not in dispute).

The critique and speculation about Tim Ballard has to do with (A) his personal (but still published to the world) conduct, and (B) to what extent this conduct reflects on his personal religious beliefs.  Notably, much of his behavior is very much in dispute.  And the evidence on which it is based is from secondary/tertiary and hostile sources (again, contrast to the undisputed evidence upon which I critiqued Dan).

  • My comment about Dan: "Sadly, it looks like Dan is on his way out.  I hope I'm wrong in that assessment.  However, it seems pretty clear that he is increasingly setting himself up as a voice of influence and authority that is alternative and superior to that of the Brethren.  I think it's just a matter of time before he becomes more explicit about this.  I hope he has a change of heart, but meanwhile I wish him the best."
  • Calm's comment about Tim: "Heading towards being another hedge prophet, leader of the 144,000 or a Davidic king I also wonder?"

Now that I look at the two side-by-side, I'm not seeing a lot of daylight between them.

Well, Calm?  Why is it okay for you to publicly speculate ("I wonder...") about Tim Ballard "{h}eading towards being another hedge prophet, leader of the 144,000 or a Davidic king" based on his public behavior, but not okay for me to speculate ("it looks like...it seems pretty clear...") about Dan McClellan?

You previously commented:

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Seriously, what is the benefit of gossiping about whether a member is leaving or not?

You want to challenge his positions, fine.  Questioning his faithfulness, especially future faithfulness or not is not something other members should be doing.

How are you not "gossiping about ... a member" or "{q}uestioning his faithfulness, especially future faithlessness" in your comment about Tim Ballard? 

You respond to Judd as follows:

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For me the criminal investigation makes a difference as well as it seems he was involved in fraudulent activity.

What does being Tim Ballard being allegedly (!) "involved in fraudulent activity" have to do with you speculating about him "{h}eading towards being another hedge prophet, leader of the 144,000 or a Davidic king"?  And if you can, from articles in Vice (!) extrapolate these things about Tim Ballard, and also publish them to the world, then why can't I take Dan's unadulterated public statements and do the same? 

As I see it, the allegations against Ballard's conduct are unproven, so your speculation about where he is heading ("towards being another hedge prophet, leader of the 144,000 or a Davidic king") (in a spiritual/religious sense) is based on pretty shaky evidentiary grounds.  Meanwhile, my speculation about where Dan is heading ("on his way out") is based entirely on Dan's own words.

Does Dan deserve some benefit of the doubt that Tim does not?  If so, why?

Does Dan deserve some abstention of critique by other members of the Church that Tim does not?  if so, why?

I continue to hold you in high regard, but your comments in this thread and the other one has left me a bit flummoxed.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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40 minutes ago, juliann said:
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I believe there’s another thread where the consensus was regarding a member, with a relatively well-known TikTok account, that it was highly inappropriate to speculate on their faith and motivations. I’m curious where the line is on when it’s okay to speculate about members and when it’s not.

If I understand your question, the board rule was for those participating on the board where posters were called apostates and such for having different opinions. 

I don't think anyone accused me of violating board rules.  The "consensus" was about the propriety of me speculating about Dan possibly being on a path out of the Church (as Judd put it: "that it was highly inappropriate to speculate on their faith and motivations").

Regarding charges of apostasy, that term is defined in Section 32.6.3.2 of the Handbook as follows:

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32.6.3.2

Apostasy

Issues of apostasy often have an impact beyond the boundaries of a ward or stake. They need to be addressed promptly to protect others.

The bishop counsels with the stake president if he feels that a member’s action may constitute apostasy. The bishop or stake president may place informal membership restrictions on the member (see 32.8.3). The stake president promptly counsels with the Area Presidency. However, only the stake president decides whether a membership council or other action is necessary.

As used here, apostasy refers to a member engaging in any of the following:

  • Repeatedly acting in clear and deliberate public opposition to the Church, its doctrine, its policies, or its leaders

  • Persisting in teaching as Church doctrine what is not Church doctrine after being corrected by the bishop or stake president

  • Showing a pattern of intentionally working to weaken the faith and activity of Church members

  • Continuing to follow the teachings of apostate sects after being corrected by the bishop or stake president

  • Formally joining another church and promoting its teachings (Total inactivity in the Church or attending another church does not by itself constitute apostasy. However, if a member formally joins another church and advocates its teachings, withdrawing his or her membership may be necessary.)

The Savior taught the Nephites that they should continue to minister to a person who has sinned. “But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people” (3 Nephi 18:31).

I did say that "it seems pretty clear that he is increasingly setting himself up as a voice of influence and authority that is alternative and superior to that of the Brethren."  I also said this:

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I am not condemning him ("I hope he has a change of heart, but meanwhile I wish him the best").  I am, instead, reading his published-to-the-world statements, such as these:

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1. "To the degree that faith is evidence of things hoped for and not seen, you should not expect the data to support what you have faith in.  And they don't.  The data point pretty firmly in the opposite direction of a historical Book of Mormon.  That is why I talk about the Book of Mormon as something that is, the data indicate is a product of the nineteenth century. ... That's what I would argue the data indicate."

2. Regarding "a literal Jesus, who died and was resurrected, and was the Son of God," Dan states:

"Resurrection is another thing that, from an academic point of view, that's a physical impossibility.  And so without extraordinary evidence for that, there's no way a scholar can say 'Yes, this makes sense,' because it doesn't.  It violates everything we know about the operation of the universe.  So the bar for that kind of evidence is even higher, and we don't have data that come anywhere near getting us over that bar.  So from a scholarly point of view, the resurrection is not something that is supported by the data.  The overwhelming majority of scholars agree that there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth, who was probably an apocalyptic itinerant preacher, who probably preached against the Roman Empire, and preached the coming of the Kingdom of God imminently, and was executed because of it.  And then we have Jesus' followers afterwards spreading stories about him coming back to life and ministry before leaving again."

3. Dehlin asks: "Going back to the end of your employment with the Church, I could just see how all sorts of maybe even good or well-intended church leaders would say 'We gotta get Dan out of here because the implications of what he's teaching is not, in the long term, good for orthodox Mormon faith."  Dan responds:

"As long as I have supporters and detractors across the entire spectrum, I'm probably sitting in a sweet spot.  I'm probably doing something right if I'm offering reasons for people to remain faithful and reasons for people to feel justified in not remaining faithful."

Dehlin responds: "On behalf of so so many of my listeners and friends, we're all just loving what you do, in awe of it, and cheering you on."

Dan: "Well, thank you so much."

I claim no stewardship over Dan McClellan.  That said, he published these statements to the world.  He is speaking publicly with the intent of influencing his audience - a substantial portion of which are Latter-day Saints - to his point of view.  I think it unreasonable to willfully blind ourselves to what he is saying, or to not acknowledge that some portions of what he is saying are incompatible with listening to the prophets and apostles. 

I don't know if Dan's conduct amounts to "{r}epeatedly acting in clear and deliberate public opposition to the Church, its doctrine, its policies, or its leaders" or "{p}ersisting in teaching as Church doctrine what is not Church doctrine after being corrected by the bishop or stake president" or "{s}howing a pattern of intentionally working to weaken the faith and activity of Church members."  Again, I have no stewardship or authority over Dan, and I leave adjudication of such matters to those who do.  I do, however, reiterate my prior statements regarding him, specifically, that "I hope I'm wrong in {my} assessment," and that " I hope he has a change of heart, but meanwhile I wish him the best."

Meanwhile, is Calm's speculation about Tim Ballard (about whether he is "{h}eading towards being another hedge prophet, leader of the 144,000 or a Davidic king") a violation of board rules?  "Spreading malicious gossip"?  "Judging others worthiness, questioning sincerity, mind reading or psychoanalyzing"?  I don't think it is, but then, I don't think what I said about Dan is, either.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 hour ago, Calm said:

For me the criminal investigation makes a difference as well as it seems he was involved in fraudulent activity.

I don't understand the distinction here.  Could you elaborate?  How is an accusation of criminal misconduct a viable evidentiary basis for you to publicly speculate about whether Tim is "{h}eading towards being another hedge prophet, leader of the 144,000 or a Davidic king"?

1 hour ago, Calm said:

If you are aware of any claims of Dan defrauding someone, feel free to put those up.

I repeatedly posted the evidentiary basis underlying my comment about Dan.  Here they are again:

Quote

1. "To the degree that faith is evidence of things hoped for and not seen, you should not expect the data to support what you have faith in.  And they don't.  The data point pretty firmly in the opposite direction of a historical Book of Mormon.  That is why I talk about the Book of Mormon as something that is, the data indicate is a product of the nineteenth century. ... That's what I would argue the data indicate."

2. Regarding "a literal Jesus, who died and was resurrected, and was the Son of God," Dan states:

"Resurrection is another thing that, from an academic point of view, that's a physical impossibility.  And so without extraordinary evidence for that, there's no way a scholar can say 'Yes, this makes sense,' because it doesn't.  It violates everything we know about the operation of the universe.  So the bar for that kind of evidence is even higher, and we don't have data that come anywhere near getting us over that bar.  So from a scholarly point of view, the resurrection is not something that is supported by the data.  The overwhelming majority of scholars agree that there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth, who was probably an apocalyptic itinerant preacher, who probably preached against the Roman Empire, and preached the coming of the Kingdom of God imminently, and was executed because of it.  And then we have Jesus' followers afterwards spreading stories about him coming back to life and ministry before leaving again."

3. Dehlin asks: "Going back to the end of your employment with the Church, I could just see how all sorts of maybe even good or well-intended church leaders would say 'We gotta get Dan out of here because the implications of what he's teaching is not, in the long term, good for orthodox Mormon faith."  Dan responds:

"As long as I have supporters and detractors across the entire spectrum, I'm probably sitting in a sweet spot.  I'm probably doing something right if I'm offering reasons for people to remain faithful and reasons for people to feel justified in not remaining faithful."

Dehlin responds: "On behalf of so so many of my listeners and friends, we're all just loving what you do, in awe of it, and cheering you on."

Dan: "Well, thank you so much."

These comments certainly have no probative weight in the context of secular (criminal) law.  Dan is perfectly free to say these things.

But do these have any probative weight as to his beliefs regarding the Restored Gospel?  What about the fact that he is making these statements publicly?  To an audience with a sizable number of Latter-day Saints in it?  Garnering (and expressing acceptance and appreciation of) praise from John Dehlin, perhaps the foremost opponent of the Church alive today?  As I noted previously: "He is speaking publicly with the intent of influencing his audience - a substantial portion of which are Latter-day Saints - to his point of view.  I think it unreasonable to willfully blind ourselves to what he is saying, or to not acknowledge that some portions of what he is saying are incompatible with listening to the prophets and apostles. "

1 hour ago, Calm said:

I also see a huge difference when someone close to a member makes accusations against them rather than it being total strangers appraising from afar.

I don't understand.  Who are you referencing with "someone close to a member makes accusations against them"?

Who are you referencing "being total strangers appraising from afar"?  I am not a "total stranger" to Dan.  I have interacted with him many times on this board.  And when it comes to critiquing his published-to-the-world comments about the Church and its doctrines, "appraising from afar" is a non-issue since, well, he has published these statements to the entire world.

Thanks,

-Smac

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48 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Does Dan deserve some benefit of the doubt that Tim does not?  If so, why?

Does Dan deserve some abstention of critique by other members of the Church that Tim does not?  if so, why?

I like this opportunity for self-reflection, much more than the previous opportunity I mentioned. 

I'd urge everyone to take a moment and look inward.   If you were of a certain opinion regarding speculating about Dan's testimony, but you find yourself of a different opinion regarding speculating about Ballard's testimony, how come that is?  Not calling anyone out, but if anyone falls into this category and wishes to explain, I would appreciate hearing it.  

(I am specifically NOT calling anyone a hypocrite.  The world already has one wildly popular social media enterprise that specializes in calling out an individual's current statements, and comparing them with past statements, in order to make a political point.  I'm not interested in doing so.  Just would like to hear an explanation for this behavior from anyone who engages in it and thinks it's not hypocrisy.)

 

Edited by LoudmouthMormon
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5 hours ago, smac97 said:

How is an accusation of criminal misconduct a viable evidentiary basis for you to publicly speculate about whether Tim is "{h}eading towards being another hedge prophet, leader of the 144,000 or a Davidic king"?

It was the comments in the documents about his involvement with a psychic and his belief he was a “Mormon Messiah” from someone who was a close associate of Ballard that was the evidence for me to publicly speculate about that.  
 

The fact that Ballard has promoted himself publicly over the years and not just his work, including an international movie puts him in a very different category than either Bushman or McClellan.  This criminal investigation that led to all these documents with strange and troubling info, but no prosecution; the Church’s denunciation of him; and several other credible reports I have heard of his dubious behaviour over the years opens the door for public discussion about his character.

Total strangers was a reference to knowledge of him in a personal context, having never met him in person, but considering it now it was an overstatement as I know more and are closer in many ways to some of my friends online who I have never met in person and I should not have used that.

There is no need for public speculation about faithfulness when the Church has established he is not faithful.

Edited by Calm
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This was an especially nice touch -

Quote

In an email to Sean Reyes, the Utah attorney general, Troy Rawlings, a prosecutor in Davis County, Utah whose office carried out the now-closed investigation into OUR, wrote that he had “somewhere around 10,000 pages” of psychic readings. Those were conducted by Janet Russon, a psychic medium who “talks to dead Mormon leaders, particularly a Mormon Prophet from 600BC named Nephi, to get intel,” Rawlings wrote. (Russon declined to comment on her work with OUR when reached by VICE News; Rawlings did not respond to a request for comment.)

Rawlings made it clear that he thought donors to OUR would be dismayed by the idea that its paramilitary missions were guided by a psychic and a deceased Mormon prophet. “Donors are not made aware that Nephi, via Mr. [sic] Russon, is the key piece of O.U.R. Operational Intelligence,” he added. 

 

Edited by ttribe
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5 hours ago, Calm said:

Thanks for sharing the article.

 I shouldn't be surprised that the key note speaker at Heartlander conferences consulted mediums that claimed to speak for Nephi or believes he has special knowledge of the second coming. As Ardis Parshall explained, they have a tenuous connection to reality: https://keepapitchinin.org/firm-foundation-my-last-distressed-thoughts/

I also wish I could say I'm surprised that someone would use their status or relationship with the church and its leadership to provide quasi religious sanction to advance their career and financial interests. But priestcraft like that is pretty common. Las Vegas authorities just busted one of the biggest ponzi schemes in history that preyed on Mormon relationships and trust. https://www.reviewjournal.com/investigations/alleged-500m-ponzi-scheme-preyed-on-mormons-it-ended-with-fbi-gunfire-2720343/#:~:text=Alleged %24500M Ponzi scheme,charged in a civil complaint.

Since I mentioned the term priestcraft I'm not talking about people who sell books with some spiritual value. But I'm talking about people who use their spiritual credentials to mask, override, substitute or compensate for the (lack) of merits for whatever they are promoting. So its like the used car salesmen that told me about a bishop he sold to last week to try and claim I should buy a car from him. Its like a sleezy fame whore overstating Ballard's support for his work. Its like an old mission buddy promising a really nice investment opportunity because he was "prompted to share it." Its someone telling you they used to be a bishop and testifying that this book is the one you need. Using your spiritual authority for financial gain is just creepy. 

That's why I think attempts to stop child trafficking are a great cause, but I was always leery at someone becoming a rich celebrity over it. Calling rescues "sizzle" that are supposed to enhance his brand literally made me sick to my stomach. I had the same feeling with the Navy Seals that suddenly received giant book deals and contracts with Fox News when it turns out their culture was toxic. (A former navy seal led the ops team at OUR, it figures they see an opportunity to further aggrandize themselves when they see one.)  https://www.audacy.com/connectingvets/news/fear-grips-special-ops-amidst-human-trafficking-drug-arrests?fbclid=IwAR1lnWd-SDv4sf1RtTkHqM-dPC9Owwq_v4aem8HI8WQG4Tih5O4vZSvZ1Q4

I really hate it when my cynicism is rewarded but with people like Tim Ballard it seems warranted. 

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https://www.ksl.com/article/50731697/tim-ballard-considers-run-for-senate-amid-renewed-controversy
 

Quote

Tim Ballard, founder and former CEO of Operation Underground Railroad, an anti-child sex trafficking organization, is reportedly considering a 2024 U.S. Senate run amid a new report from Vice Media revisiting a closed investigation into the nonprofit's operations.

Rumors of Ballard's potential Senate bid started after Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is close to Ballard, said Wednesday he was looking forward to supporting "a great conservative, patriot, and warrior" who would be announcing a Senate run "in the days to come."

Multiple sources close to Ballard have confirmed he is considering a run.

Ballard, whose career was the inspiration for recent box-office hit "Sound of Freedom," has also been the source of controversy and the subject of an investigation that did not result in any charges. Vice reported on Friday that Tim Ballard had allegedly claimed his work and other projects were endorsed by President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The two men share the same last name but are not related.

Quote

The reviewed charges by Rawlings' office included communications fraud, witness tampering and retaliation against a witness, victim or informant, according to a declination statement which Rawlings confirmed was authentic.

The determination to close the investigation came after Rawlings' office received and reviewed financial audits of Operation Underground Railroad and information supplied by law enforcement agencies, including the Utah Attorney General's Office, the document says.

 

Edited by Calm
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8 hours ago, Judd said:

I believe there’s another thread where the consensus was regarding a member, with a relatively well-known TikTok account, that it was highly inappropriate to speculate on their faith and motivations. I’m curious where the line is on when it’s okay to speculate about members and when it’s not.

This is a good comment, but I will say there does seem to be a broad gulf between these two. One is using his platform to make critical biblical scholarship available to a broad audience. He does this based on his education and broad readership. He also offers social commentary based on his own opinions. He never claims to speak for the church. 
 

On the other hand, we have someone that is abusing a friendship with the brethren to imply he speaks for them, and apparently  is using mediums to talk to dead prophets. The church found this problematic enough to issue a statement. 
 

People on this board disagree with Dan’s personal views on social issues, and so comment on his testimony. 
 

Other people on this board take issue with Ballards priestcraft and comment on his testimony. 
 

Are they really similar?

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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I am shocked. Seriously, this is my shocked face.

 

8 hours ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

what a weirdo.

I'm happy that his movie prompted so many to learn a thing or two about the real aspects of real child sex trafficking.  (Again, here's a primer for anyone interested.)  So from that standpoint, I'm overall happy with the release of his movie and surrounding shouting matches.

But yeah, what a weirdo.

The movie was also a very poor representation of child trafficking and reinforced a lot of myths. It wasn’t good.

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