Tim Ballard and the Latter-day Saints


Originally published on September 20, 2023 on Public Square Magazine.

Television screens across the globe flickered with his image. The weight of the world’s adoration pressed heavily on his shoulders. Lance Armstrong, perhaps the greatest ever in his field, sat across from Oprah.

“Did you ever take banned substances to enhance your cycling performance?”

And with a quick breath and a nod of his head, “Yes,” the legend was gone.

Charles Shepard sat in the 1980s newsroom of the Charlotte Observer when his phone rang. He covered a number of beats, including that of Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, among the most influential televangelists in the country.

“My name is Jessica Hahn,” the voice said, “Jim Bakker paid me off after raping me.”

James Frey invented a story about being a hero in the third world. Ravi Zacharias, an influential pastor, was involved in a massive sexual misconduct scandal. Brian WilliamsMark DriscollJohn RigasMike DaiseyJayson BlairStephen Glass, and Peter Popoff all presented one image to the world that was shattered when it was discovered they were cheats—not at all who they presented themselves to be.

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