Church deplores forged letters attempting to discredit leaders

"We deplore the current distribution of numerous fictitious letters, which are replete with false and insulting information, purportedly from or to highly placed representatives of the Church," a Church spokesman said April 12.

Elder Richard P. Lindsay, managing director of the Church Public Communications/Special Affairs Department, said at least three such fabricated letters have been distributed in recent weeks to government, education, business and ethnic groups and individuals throughout Utah, and perhaps beyond the state."These three letters are obviously the work of enemies of the Church who are attempting to discredit the institution and its leaders," Elder Lindsay said.

All three letters have been carefully examined and positively identified as forgeries, Elder Lindsay said. "We are as disturbed by the meanness and falsity of the letters as are those who receive them," he continued.

"We hope that no one will give credence to these malicious letters or to other similar reports that may be circulated."

One forged letter purportedly was written by Richard T. Bretzing, managing director of the Church Security Department, to Utah Gov. Norman H. Bangerter, and contained insulting references to members of minority groups residing in Utah.

Another forged letter appeared to be from a pornographic video store in Nevada to Bretzing, informing him that his request for a lewd videotape had been backordered.

The third forged letter, purportedly from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, president of BYU, to the editor of the student newspaper, was an attempt to embarrass Pres. Holland, Elder Lindsay said.

"All the letters are malicious, false, and totally groundless," Elder Lindsay said. They follow a pattern similar to a months-long campaign of vicious vilification against Church General Authorities, the allegations of which were independently investigated and found to be wholly false and made with malicious intent to spread rumor and innuendo, he said.

"We have asked legal counsel to determine if the matter should be referred to U.S. Postal authorities because of possible violation of laws against fraudulent use of the mails," Elder Lindsay said.