Julie Rowe: what’s the harm?

Yesterday, I wrote about Julie Rowe, the woman who claims to have seen visions persuading her that we live in the End of Days. I’m afraid that my post was, uh, skeptical of her claims. I have received a lot of responses to that post–most agree with me, a few do not. That’s fine. There is one type of response, however, that I think is worth responding to.  It goes like this: what does it matter? Let’s suppose she got it wrong. Let’s suppose that the destruction of the Last Days does not begin this September 28. So what? People may have been motivated to add to their personal preparation supplies. That’s all to the good. She’s a nice lady; who has she harmed?What’s the big deal?

Well, to begin with, let’s talk about this matter of people stocking up on emergency supplies. With these kinds of apocalyptic announcements comes a sense of urgency, possibly even a sense of panic and fear. Isn’t it possible that people, driven by desperation might spend a whole lot of money they don’t have and can’t afford? Are people maxing out credit cards, blowing through savings, even taking out second mortgages? I’ve heard of each of these things. I remember during a previous scare a good friend telling me that he was cashing in all his savings bonds, money he had set aside for college for his kids. It didn’t matter, because his kids were just teenagers and in the Last Days, nobody was going to college, that was certain. Buy supplies, by all means. Budget for it, look for bargains, take your time. Don’t panic-buy. And yet, that is precisely what some people are doing, according to friends at Emergency Essentials.

I didn’t mention this in my last post, but according to Julie Rowe, America’s currency is going to be rendered worthless. We should stock up on gold, which will retain value in a barter economy. I don’t know what to say about that; it’s also a popular Glen Beck trope, I know. But it’s the worst kind of nonsense. Gold is just another commodity, priced the way all commodities are priced, according to the immutable laws of supply and demand. It has no inherent value. To say ‘we’ll be fine if our economy collapses, because we’ll have lots of gold stockpiled’ really only makes sense if we assume that the people with all the food and water will be dentists, in need of a metal to use in fillings. The idea that gold will always be of value is just magical thinking at its worst. The idea that a whole bunch of people will waste their time and money investing in gold is quite frightening.

Of course, Julie Rowe also urges people to buy guns. Just what we need, even more firearms in circulation. Add panic and fear and desperation, and I see a potentially combustible mix.

In addition, I can’t emphasize strongly enough how dangerous I find Julie Rowe’s claim that the 2008 election was stolen. Again, she offers no evidence for it; she saw it in a vision. This isn’t just dangerous because it isn’t true, and didn’t happen. There is literally no evidence suggesting that the election was stolen, and several hundred thousands of pieces of evidence proving that it didn’t happen. (Every exit poll, every election machine in America). This assertion feeds the worst kind of conspiracy theories. It de-legitimizes the election of the sitting President of the United States.

I understand that conservatives don’t like President Obama. I didn’t like President Bush. It’s as American as apple pie to disagree, on partisan grounds, with the policies of the President. But when President Bush was in the White House, post-9/11, some liberals began to circulate the conspiracy theory that the buildings of the World Trade Center had not collapsed because they were hit by jetliners, but that they were destroyed by explosives smuggled into the buildings by members of the Bush administration. Essentially, some liberals accused President Bush of having murdered thousands of Americans on 9/11. I spoke out against that accusation at the time, and have continued to so repeatedly. That kind of thinking genuinely does endanger our democracy.

By the same token, the notion that President Obama was born in Kenya, not Hawaii, that he is secretly in league with Muslim terrorists, that he is an evil and designing man deliberately trying to destroy America, all the conspiracy theories regarding his Presidency, they’re equally pernicious, equally dangerous, equally damaging to American democracy.

Disagree with his policies. That’s fine. Argue with all the eloquence you can muster for different, in your mind better policies. Go wild. But don’t question the legitimacy of his Presidency. That way leads nowhere constructive. We will never solve our nation’s problems until we can agree on this central notion: that our political opponents are patriotic men and women, with whom we disagree on matters of policy. Period.

When asked to do so by the Church, Julie Rowe has disavowed any claims to prophetic status. That is to her credit. I’ve heard that she’s a very nice lady. I don’t doubt it. In my previous post, I suggested that she might be a charlatan; I withdraw that accusation. But I do not believe in her visions, I don’t think anything special’s going to happen within the next couple of weeks. I don’t even doubt that she had a near-death experience, and that she believes herself to have had visions. But she saw things that aren’t true. Make of that what you will.



7 thoughts on “Julie Rowe: what’s the harm?

  1. Denise

    Thank you for this post. This hysteria, and downright dislike akin to hatred, has been whipped to a frenzy. Sane , usually good ward members have been divided politically. Some have the nerve to blame the president for being divisive, as if! Look to your conservative leadership for starting this nonsense, by rarely voting for anything he offers, letting the Muslim remarks slide, and sitting quietly instead of sequencing this nonsense.

  2. Preston

    I’ve read both of your posts and I’m rather curious as to why you seem to have such a vehement anger towards Julie… I’ve only recently heard of her and much of that has been through a friend posting your blog to his Facebook page. So then I listened to over 4 hours of interviews with her and it honestly makes me laugh at you a bit.
    You seem really focused on this 2008 election as though it’s some major thing she’s stumping on. Maybe I missed her dissertation on the matter but I’ve read her book and listens to interviews and that’s nearly a throw away line from her. Not something she makes a paramount case of as you seem to.
    She also doe Not advocate or pitch for people to go out and buy gold, or get into debt to buy doomsday supplies, nor does she advise a single thing that people do in panic or motivated by fear.
    She continually advises people to 1. Follow the Lord. 2. Follow the church leadership. 3. Get out of debt…
    Other than her claims of vision (true or not) I haven’t found her saying anything that is inconsistent with decades of church talks and Ensign articles.
    So it leaves me asking: why the passionate hostility?

    1. admin Post author

      I don’t think I expressed any anger towards Ms. Rowe. I just don’t think her so-called visions are, in any sense, true.
      I agree that she only mentions the 2008 election in passing. But it’s the only testable assertion she makes. She’s so coy on every other specific, it becomes the only way to test her veracity. And, of course, it’s a test she fails. She makes a factual claim, only one, and it turns out to be factually wrong. Also vicious and grotesquely irresponsible.
      You say that she hasn’t urged people to spend irresponsibly on emergency supplies. That’s true, she hasn’t. But people are doing it nonetheless, by the thousands. She may not have wanted to start a panic, but she has, in fact, started one. And it would have been naive for her not to have anticipated that.
      And yes, she did urge people to buy gold.
      If I seem angry, it’s unintentional. But there’s no evidence to suggest that her visions are true, and a lot of evidence suggesting she’s a false prophet. She’s been the subject of many national and international news stories. And, I’m sure unintentionally, she’s done a lot of damage to the reputation of the church. She makes Mormons appear crazy. I do resent that a bit.

    2. Dan

      You defend what you are. Obviously you believe Julie Rowe. You will be wrong about her, I guarantee it. And please don’t tell me otherwise. You wouldn’t have said anything if you didn’t believe in Julie.

  3. Emily M.

    I think she’s a false prophet, and I think there’s inherent danger in following a false prophet. Even if following what she says causes people to get more food storage, etc., if they’re doing it because of what she says and not what the actual fifteen men Mormons sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators say, it’s a problem. I believe it leads to a decreased inclination and ability to follow the actual prophets. I think anyone who has a following of fans and bathes in the wine of adulation is at risk of becoming a false prophet, however well-intentioned they began.

  4. JulieJ

    So I had never heard of this lady until I saw your post. Is this something that has been publicized in Utah? What about all of the Saints outside of Utah!! Don’t I need to sell my house and empty my accounts! I feel cheated! And I have to work on the 28th! Please let me know if Utah explodes so I can be sure to dig up my gold buried in the backyard.

  5. DJ

    I agree with post author. Her kind damages the church and makes the membership seem foolish and naïve because of the few that have followed her down the rabbit hole. And now that its September 29, and we are all still here, does she own her ridiculous prophesies, no, she goes into hiding. Check out her website. Peace Out?! Such nonsensical self-important crap


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