Julie Rowe Media Frenzy

May 5, 2016

Behind the Scenes of the Julie Rowe Media Frenzy
by Chad Daybell
President of Spring Creek Book Company

When I first spoke with author Julie Rowe in early 2014, my publishing company had already produced more than 100 books by 50 different authors. Our titles covered a wide array of topics, ranging from sports biographies to historical novels.We had published a few near-death accounts that had sold fairly well, so when I began working with Julie to produce her book “A Greater Tomorrow” I had moderate hopes it would be successful. The book was released on May 16, 2014, and what a wild two years it has been!

I submitted “A Greater Tomorrow” to Deseret Book and Seagull Book, which are retail chains owned by the LDS Church. Deseret Book was still dealing with the uproar about “Visions of Glory” and decided they would no longer carry books about near-death experiences, but the buyers at Seagull Book felt Julie’s book would be a great fit for their stores.

Before a newly released title is carried by Seagull Book, it is thoroughly read and analyzed by a high-level employee who verifies that the content measures up to LDS standards. “A Greater Tomorrow” was quickly approved, and it was featured in the next available Seagull Book catalog.

The book was an immediate success in all aspects. The first printing sold out within a month, and the eBook version smashed my book distributor’s all-time records.

Summer is usually a slow time in the book industry, but the sales of “A Greater Tomorrow” continued to exceed the previous month’s totals as the year progressed. People were very eager to hear Julie’s message, and she spoke to several large groups throughout the United States.

In August 2014, both Julie and I felt it was time to write a second book that would include quotes from LDS prophets concerning the future, as well as answer many questions Julie had been asked on how to prepare spiritually and temporally for troubled times. Seagull Book, Amazon.com and essentially every other bookseller were clamoring for the new book. “The Time Is Now” was released in early November 2014, and within two months it had sold nearly as many copies as “A Greater Tomorrow.”

It was very rewarding to see thousands of people throughout the Church being “awakened” by Julie’s experience. We received positive feedback from bishops, stake presidents, and even temple presidents. They were happy the members in their areas were focusing on important matters and improving their lives. I never heard anything at all from LDS Church headquarters, and I never expected to. I knew if there were any deep concerns about the books, I would hear about it through the proper channels.

Of course, there were many grumblers in the LDS community. They were comfortable with their lives and didn’t want to hear any messages that might disrupt their happiness. Sadly, both Julie and I have many extended family members who fall into that category. Some of them have found fault with the books, while others simply refuse to read them. They can’t comprehend that these two rather ordinary people would be the ones to send out this message.

Honestly, neither can we, but we know that this message is inspired from God. It has never been about Julie or Spring Creek Books. It is about giving people a better understanding and hope concerning the future.

As 2015 began, I wondered what lay in store for Julie’s books, because Seagull Book rarely keeps any product on the shelves for more than six months. Even the books released by Seagull’s sister company Covenant Communications are usually placed on the bargain tables within that time frame. I expected “A GreaterTomorrow” to soon receive the same treatment, but the person in charge of the Seagull Book catalog contacted me. He wanted to increase my ad space to a half-page and feature both books together.

I was elated, because the only books that receive that much space are typically written by General Authorities. The larger advertisement boosted sales even more. By August 2015, Julie’sbooks had been featured in 13 straight Seagull Book catalogs, which is almost unheard of.

The memo

In late August, the Church’s Seminary and Institutes department issued an internal memo entitled “Spurious Materials in Circulation.” This memo is updated periodically to clarify statements given by General Authorities, halt rumors about Church policies, or list books that were being used inappropriately in the classroom. Julie’s book fell into the last category.

Here is the actual
statement:

Publication Caution: A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil
Additional Information: [August 31, 2015]

In 2014, Spring Creek Book Company published A Greater Tomorrow: My Journey Beyond the Veil by Julie Rowe (see shaded box for Amazon’s description of the book). Although Sister Rowe is an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, her book is not endorsed by the Church and should not be recommended to students or used as a resource in teaching them. The experiences she shares are her own personal experiences and do not necessarily reflect Church doctrine or they may distort Church doctrine.

This statement needs to be placed in the proper historical context. Look at the date—August 31, 2015. Why would the Church issue a statement at that time? Well, the new seminary year was just underway, and the students were studying the Old Testament. As readers know, Julie spends several pages in “A Greater Tomorrow” describing what she saw concerning ancient prophets. Julie gives detailed accounts about Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark. Abraham and Isaac, and even Potiphar’s lustful wife that aren’t in the scriptures or in the seminary manuals. Undoubtedly many instructors had read the book during the previous year and were supplementing their lessons with these very interesting tidbits.
I still have never received any explanation from the Church about the internal memo, but that’s my assessment of why a “caution”was issued. Julie and I wholeheartedly agree with the Church’s stance that these accounts should not be shared in seminary or institute classes. Please note that Julie’s second book “The Time is Now” was not included in that statement, which lends credence to my Old Testament theory.

The media spreads the word

It only took a couple of days for Church employees to spread this supposedly internal memo across the internet. Julie and I were aware of it by early September. We shrugged it off, but we expected it to develop into something damaging simply because the anti-Mormon websites were using the memo to make a
mountain out of a molehill.

Anti-Mormons had taken a dislike to Julie’s message right from the start. Why? Because she encouraged people to follow the living prophet, attend the temple, pray to God for answers, and so on. In other words, she stood for everything they opposed. For the first year, they bombarded websites and posted book reviews that mercilessly attacked her in every way.

These people figured if they could get others to believe their lies,then Julie and her books would go away. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t succeed very well. Julie’s firm witness of the truth and poise under pressure made these attacks look petty and juvenile, and most people saw right through them.

However, this memo presented a golden opportunity for Julie’s detractors. If they played it right, they could make it appear the Church had denounced Julie and her books.

The first media article about the memo was printed in the Salt Lake Tribune on September 10, 2015. The article focused on the prepping movement in Utah, and Julie wasn’t even mentioned until the tenth paragraph. The reporter actually contacted me, and I gave her some sales totals to use in the article.

The article briefly mentioned the seminary memo, but failed to explain that this was an internal memo for Church employees. It quoted the memo, but deleted the part stating that the details “she shares are her own personal experiences.”

That altered the memo’s meaning in a negative way, but overall I was fine with how the
article turned out.

That evening Salt Lake television station KUTV Channel 2 ran a story based on the memo as well, and included this :

Church spokesman Doug Andersen released a follow-up statement
to 2News Thursday about the warning to seminary and institute
instructors:

“The internal memo does not constitute an official Church
statement but serves as a routine reminder to teachers from
Seminaries and Institutes of Religion of their responsibility to
teach from the scriptures and church leaders,” Andersen said.
“People who read her books should recognize that they are
personal accounts and do not necessarily reflect church doctrine.”
KUTV also included a message that Julie sent them that day.
Rowe, who lives in the Midwest, responded to the church’s warning
in the following statement to 2News:

“I agree that the curriculum for LDS church classes should only
come from sources recognized by the LDS Church as being
authoritative. My story is not intended to be authoritative nor to
create any church doctrine. It is simply part of my personal
journey that I have chosen to share in hopes that it can help people
to prepare for the times we live in by increasing their faith in
Christ and by looking to our prophet and church leaders for
guidance.”

Again, I felt this was a balanced report. I appreciated the Church’s follow-up statement emphasizing the document was an internal memo not intended for the public, and that it was a routine reminder for seminary teachers to stick to the scriptures and the words of Church leaders. I found it interesting that the Church-owned media outlets KSLTV
and The Deseret News didn’t feel the need to report on the story, because it was essentially a non-story. The only reason the Church commented was in an effort to stamp out the little brushfire the other local media outlets had started.

You’ll notice that neither the Tribune nor KUTV had mentioned “blood moons” or imminent earthquakes. It was just another case where those two media outlets intentionally include the LDS Church in a story to generate more readership and viewership. In most cases, such a story is quickly forgotten. As we headed into that weekend, it looked like this “memo” story would soon be old news as well.

The Daily Mail goes way over the top

Then came the mother of all fabricated news stories that changed everything. An article about Julie appeared on Tuesday, September 15, 2015 in London’s Daily Mail, considered in some circles to be England’s “National Enquirer.” The article was written by Ruth Styles, best known for her involvement in a major plagiarism lawsuit in 2013.

In discussing that lawsuit, Martin Clarke, editor of Daily Mail Online, defended the newspaper’s methods, saying, “We never like to follow a story without improving it, with either new facts, graphics, pictures, or video.” I give you that background because Ms. Styles greatly “improved” upon Julie’s story with plenty of “new facts.”

There had been heavy flooding in southern Utah in early September, and nine people had drowned. Also, Rabbi Jonathan
Cahn was really pushing his Blood Moon theories at the time. Ms.Styles used her imagination to masterfully weave those unrelated elements into a tremendously entertaining but false story. Here is the headline that introduced the article.

EXCLUSIVE: ‘The heavens will let loose and the powers of
darkness will rage’ – why some believe Mormon woman end-ofthe-
world prophet ‘predicted Utah’s fatal flash floods’

According to the Daily Mail article, Julie had said the following events would happen before the end of last September:
“The heavens will let loose and the powers of darkness will rage. There
will be natural disasters on a massive scale unlike anything the
earth has experienced before. Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes,
tsunamis, plagues, droughts, famines, pestilence and all manner of
disasters will be upon the earth in such a deep and broadened scale
that mankind cannot even imagine what it will be like.”

Wow, that’s a lot of stuff to cram into the final two weeks of the month. Not surprisingly, Ms. Styles failed to mention that this statement was lifted directly from the book or that these events were not expected to happen for several years—and certainly not all at once. Nope, according to the Daily Mail, they were going to
happen before the end of September 2015.

Believe it or not, Ms. Styles actually emailed me that day, offering to write a follow-up story from Julie’s perspective if she could personally interview her and also get some quotes from me. But I’d already read the first article and knew there was nothing Julie or I could say that would overcome that horrifically brilliant piece of
fiction.

British citizens know to take any article published in The Daily Mail with a grain of salt, but unfortunately an Associated Press reporter back in the Colonies apparently believed it. Here are thefirst two paragraphs of an article entitled “Blood Moon seen as Sign of End Times by Some Mormons” that was released to media outlets across the United States on September 26th.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A rare confluence of a lunar eclipse and
a supermoon set to happen this weekend has prompted such
widespread fear of an impending apocalypse that the Mormon
Church was compelled to issue a statement cautioning the faithful
to not get caught up in speculation about a major calamity.
Sunday night’s “blood moon” and recent natural disasters and
political unrest around the world have led to a rise in sales at
emergency preparedness retailers. Apocalyptic statements by a
Mormon author have only heightened fears among a small number
of Mormon followers about the looming end of time.

The reporter then repeats many of the falsehoods found in The Daily Mail article without revealing the source of his information. The article was sent to hundreds of newspapers across the United States, and most of them ran the article without changing a word or questioning its validity.

By that afternoon, my email inbox basically blew up with media requests from all over the country. Dozens of national programs wanted to interview Julie. The Today Show asked her to appear on-set in New York City, and People Magazine wanted to do a feature article. ABC TV’s Los Angeles affiliate sought to fly her there for an interview. Fox News begged to have her on that evening, and Inside Edition desperately pleaded for her to be their lead story.
We even received inquiries from Mexico, Canada, and several European countries.

I called Julie, and we agreed to decline all of the interview requests. The truth would be smothered by all of the hype. The original “memo” story was long gone, replaced by blood moons,
floods, earthquakes, and economic collapse.

I never doubted Julie’s story before, but it reconfirmed to me that she is sincere and only wants to share her message in the proper way. If she were a fraud, this worldwide media attention and fame would have been exactly what she’d hoped for. Instead, she stayed silent even as the whole world clamored for her attention.

The Church responds to the misleading articles

I was pleased when the Church quickly followed up with a stern response to the media articles. The following statement was posted on the Church website and sent directly to the offending media outlets.

It read:
Mormonism in the News: Getting It Right | September 29, 2015

“Mormonism in the News: Getting It Right” presents several
recent news articles, blog posts or videos that provide accurate
and fair reporting on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, as well as those that misrepresent the faith to readers.
In the “Blood Moon” Story, It Was the News Media, Not
Mormons Who Needed to Be Calmed
Earlier this month a story in The Salt Lake Tribune reported how
the writings of one Mormon woman were prompting “some
Mormons” to prepare for catastrophic events. The news hook for
the story was a short memo issued internally to the Church’s
seminaries and institutes reminding instructors that this
individual’s writings were not to be taught as Church doctrine.
While such a memo does represent a note of caution to those
teaching young people, the news media stretched the story to make
it much larger than it deserved. Headlines included:
“Is The World Going to End in September? Mormon Apocalypse
2015 Prediction Has People Stocking Up on Food” (International
Business Times)
“The Mormon Apocalypse May Have Started This Week”
(Patheos)
“Stock Up! The End Is Near! Or So Say Mormons…” (Western
Journalism)
“Mormon Apocalypse Scheduled for This September” (Softpedia)
Some outlets even erroneously referred to an evangelical pastor
preaching about the same subject as a Mormon. Others used
photos of polygamists in 19th-century dress to illustrate
“Mormons.”

The Church responded to specific media calls and the general media overreach in hundreds of other stories by emailing a number of journalists explaining its concerns with exaggerated reports and further distancing itself from the story. The statement was sent to reporters, not to Church members, and was not even posted on a Church website until after Church members saw it in news outlets and began asking about it.

The Associated Press interpreted the statement directed at the
news media in this way:

A rare confluence of a lunar eclipse and a supermoon set to
happen this weekend has prompted such widespread fear of an
impending apocalypse that the Mormon Church was compelled to
issue a statement cautioning the faithful to not get caught up in
speculation about a major calamity.
Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told
its 15 million worldwide members that they should be “spiritually
and physically prepared for life’s ups and downs,” but urged them
not to take speculation from individual church members as
doctrine and “avoid being caught up in extreme efforts to
anticipate catastrophic events” (emphasis added).
This misinterpretation by the Associated Press that the statement
was to reassure members rather than to correct misinformation
from the news media resulted in many inaccurate headlines
including VICE claiming “Fears of ‘Blood Moon’ Apocalypse
Prompt Mormon Church to Issue Call for Calm,” and Slate saying
“Mormon Leaders Reassure Faithful: Sunday’s ‘Blood Moon’
Isn’t Sign of Apocalypse,” and in The Guardian, “Mormon Church
Issues Call for Calm as ‘Blood Moon’ Sparks Apocalypse Fears.”
None of these publications or any others with similar headlines
ever reached out to the Church to check their facts.

The Church’s statement is still posted at:
www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/mormonism-newsgetting-
it-right-september-29-2015

Have you read this statement before? I doubt it, because not a single newspaper ran the clarification notice.
Unfortunately, those false media reports caused many people who were already resistant to Julie’s message to hoot and holler that she had been denounced by the Church. These people hadn’t bothered to read her books in the previous 16 months, yet now they felt fully justified to triumphantly proclaim Julie’s downfall. The media never twists the facts, right? It must be true!

The books were still carried by Seagull Book for another month, but in reality they had already greatly exceeded their expected shelf lives. Sales were naturally starting to drop anyway. Seemingly everyone who was going to buy copies already had done so, and I didn’t feel it was profitable to continue advertising them.

Thankfully thousands of people have sincerely read Julie’s books during the past two years and have come to know for themselves that the upcoming events she wrote about are already beginning to happen around us. These good people held their tongues as their friends and family berated them, and their preparedness efforts will save their families when troubles come.

The great irony is that when active LDS members are critical of Julie or refuse to read her books based on the media reports, they’re doing exactly what the anti-Mormons want them to do! Doctrine and Covenants 88:118 states, “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”

I believe Julie’s books fit that description, since their entire purpose is to testify of Jesus Christ and help others understand the importance of following the living prophet. Julie is a fully active, temple-attending member of the Church who has never received ecclesiastical discipline of any kind. She has never been asked to cease telling her story, and she will continue to do so through interviews and her website posts.

A new chapter

In fact, a new chapter has begun in Julie’s life. She recently released her book entitled “From Tragedy to Destiny: A Vision of America’s Future.” It includes portions from her earlier books, but many new sections have been added. It is aimed at a Christian audience and doesn’t have any LDS references in it. The time has come for Julie to share her message to a larger audience in the proper way. She has begun sharing her message through various interviews, but without the frenzied “prophetess” misconceptions that erupted in September. There will still be opposition, but that is typical when a true message is being presented. Whether or not you believe what Julie has shared, I hope this summary helps you to see the true facts surrounding last year’s media frenzy.