Discussion on the "Twelve Apostates": How Should LDS Leaders React to Newspaper Mistake?

If I had been the one to make the mistake, I would have been mortified. But if I'd been a member of the LDS First Presidency or the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, I'd have laughed about it. I haven't heard anything about their reactions yet, but I hope I'm right.

It's a joke that should probably only be told once or twice, because it would become disrespectful over time, but man this one was funny. Yesterday, the BYU Daily Universe published a front page picture with a caption referring to the "Twelve Apostates" (click here, then scroll down for article updates) instead of the "Twelve Apostles". As soon as the error was discovered, all newspapers (several thousand) were removed from the racks on BYU campus. A reprint of the edition appeared late yesterday afternoon.

I had an interesting conversation with a few of my BYU co-workers today. I was surprised by their reactions to the mistake.

First of all, this isn't the first time that mistake has happened, although the first known occurrence of "twelve apostates" occurred about thirty years ago. While playing around with the labels that would appear on KBYU television during a fireside broadcast, a label inadvertently made its way over the airwaves. According to those who were there, there was no joy in Mudville that day. (But it may have been due to the specific apostle that it happened to.)

I hoped, however, that everyone can find humor in this mistake, whether it was honest (a mistaken spell-check word-replacement suggestion) or similar to the KBYU caper of thirty years ago. Apparently, some can't.

One of my interlocutors in today's conversation said something along the lines of "The Brethren would not have been pleased at that mistake." Another colleague involved in the conversation opined that privately the Church leaders probably found the mistake funny, but that in public they couldn't afford to show it because of the dignity of the apostolic office.

Different personalities have different reactions to such mistakes. What I found interesting in my conversation today was that it seemed that the younger the person in the conversation was, the more likely they were to think that the Church leadership should publicly find humor in it.

What do you think? What would you do if you were a "brethren"? What would Jesus do?

I, for one, think the dignity of the office is still intact. I also don't think Jesus was a stiff; I imagine him being able to poke fun at himself, and I hope the Church leadership can, too.

If I were a member of the Quorum of Twelve apostles, I would write a nice letter to the BYU Daily Universe staff explaining how humorous I found it and that all is forgiven. And over the next few days and weeks, I would get a lot of missionary mileage out of referring to myself as one of the Twelve Apostates.

But if I'm wrong, I promise not to lose my testimony.


  1. Amen!!! I seriously doubt that ANY of the Brethren are so uptight that they can't find the humor in a typo... like you said, it's not a reference we should continue to use as a standing joke, but I'm pretty sure "[His] grace is sufficient for all men." Even editors. ;-)

  2. Yeah I'm sure they all had a good chuckle about it. In this day of automatic spell checkers things like that happen. I know I have written things and the spell checker has changed a word that I didn't notice.

  3. I don't think they would or should "get missionary mileage" out of referring to themselves as apostates. On the other hand I'm sure they can see the humor in it. I would bet that they don't even think about it after the first hour except if someone brings it up to them.

  4. I don't know that they would laugh ... the church is way too serious about its image. I'm sure that was not their initial reaction. I bet they first wondered if it was intentional.


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