Julie Rowe is an active LDS Church member who claims to have had a near death experience in which she had a vision where she saw the end of the world. She has decided to sell her alleged vision for money in two separate books available for purchase on Amazon. Her followers have a secret Facebook group called Among LDS Friends where they discuss their preparations for the end of the world which will supposedly come in September 2015. Many of her followers are liquidating their assets (including retirement accounts), hoarding mass amounts of food and weapons, and are preparing to evacuate urban populations to live in tent cities.
The LDS Church's only refute to the so-called Prophetess was in a letter to Church Education System noting that the book(s) are not endorsed by the Church and should not be recommended to students or used as a resource in teaching them. This letter also includes a number of other LDS urban legends, misquotes, and false doctrine. The Church lumped Julie Rowe and her followers in the same category as alleged mission calls to China and other easily discredited rumors.
I do not know Julie Rowe or what her intentions are. This is not the first LDS Doomsdayer to gain a following, nor will it be the last. I have followed Julie Rowe from afar and am fairly well versed in her teachings. I have not believed them even for a second. Julie Rowe sells her alleged vision for money. This alone is enough to convince me that something is very wrong here. I am quite certain that Julie Rowe and the Among LDS Friends followers have been deceived.
The big question here is why?
Why has this doomsday movement been so successful? How does one woman convince thousands of people to liquidate retirement accounts at massive losses, sell their homes, and purchase aluminum handcarts?
I have written before about the Mormon Elitist problem. Mormons like to think they are special. It is fairly easy to spot in any LDS ward with individual members claiming exception to certain common rules or church teachings. They even go far as to ask for exceptions from leaders. Just ask any female Temple worker assigned to work with brides. The doctrine of the LDS Church proclaims personal revelation. Combine the sense of Elite-ism with personal revelation and you have a recipe for disaster. People want to feel special by having visions or having a special knowledge of future events. They attribute it to their spirituality, spiritual awareness, and personal righteousness. They read books like Julie Rowe's and it feeds their desire to be among the Mormon elite. They want to experience for themselves what Julie Rowe has experienced. You might even say they seek after signs. Ordinary dreams suddenly have hidden meanings. Every world event becomes a confirmation of your new-found beliefs. A friend of a friend heard from an undisclosed source that Apostles are preparing their families. Suddenly you are among the "in" crowd. You are one of the people who "know." You are special.
This particular Doomsday group has utilized social media to feed the movement. They created a secret Facebook group. You cannot find this group on a search as it is secret and hidden. You can only be added to it through a vetting process to ensure that you are a true believer. Once in the group, people are free to share personal alleged visions, quotes, and second or third hand information with nothing to back up their claims. Anyone can gain a following on Social Media these days. There are websites dedicated to followers of Julie Rowe where they publish certain information in regards to their doomsday belief. Julie Rowe has done traveling speaking tours and has even utilized group phone calls for which you can pay to participate and hear witness straight from the Prophetess herself.
Twisting Scripture and Doctrine
These doomsdayers prey on scriptures and quotes used out of context. In fact, some quotes are so old or out of context that they can't even be verified. I have taken some of their quotes and tried to verify them without success. That's pretty scary. Yet, the followers take it at face value. They choose to ignore most quotes and scriptural references in lieu of ones that support their claims. And because of personal revelation anything that can't be supported by scripture or Prophetic quotes is simply attributed to special knowledge.
The Biggest Deceit of All
Julie Rowe and her followers constantly proclaim that they support and sustain the Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Julie Rowe would be quietly outraged at anyone calling her a Prophetess. According to her, she is merely a vessel to deliver a message of preparedness. That's where she gets people. She isn't claiming to be a fringe group. She isn't going "against the Prophet." She reiterates over and over again her faithfulness to the Church. That's where she gets people. This is the key to her true success. "She's just one of us." I believe in some cultures they call this a wolf in sheep's clothing.
I feel badly for the doomsdayers who get caught up in things like this. There will be many people over the next few months or maybe even years who realize that they have been deceived. Some will be in a horrible financial state because of it. Some will have lost friends, or alienated family members over it. They may feel foolish, They may feel angry. They may loose faith. They do not deserved to be mocked or chastised for being deceived. There are already plenty of people out there that are mocking them. What they will need is love and compassion. Will you be able to give it to them?