Religious Lying

Religious Lying

The Doctrine of Lying by Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Moonies, Catholics, and Muslims

Richard Hollerman

Probably many of our readers are somewhat surprised by the title of this article and you wish to learn more.  Is there such a thing as religious lying?  Do some churches officially permit their members to lie under certain circumstances? Do some actually encourage deception?

Before we examine this teaching as it relates to several religious groups, let’s see what God says about lying in His Word, the Bible. Scripture clearly says, “Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD, but those who deal faithfully are His delight” (Proverbs 12:22).  This succinct statement shows what God thinks of lying. He says it is an “abomination” to Him!  He says further that a “lying tongue” is something He “hates” and something He considers an “abomination” (Proverbs 6:16-17).  There is no mistake about what Scripture says about telling a lie!

Our Lord Jesus also said that Satan “does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him” (John 8:44). He continues, “Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”  The devil is the originator of lying (cf. Genesis 3:4-5) and when someone lies, he follows the lead of this great enemy of our soul!

Paul the apostle tells us that lying must not be found in our life: “Laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Ephesians 4:25).  He further wrote, “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:9). Lying is a sin that pertains to the old self. The person who becomes a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17) must be truthful.

“But is lying that serious to our Lord?” someone may ask.  Indeed, it is!  In reference to the great Judgment, we read that “all liars” will have “their part . . . in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).  Those who practice lying will be forbidden to enter the Heavenly City (v. 27; 22:15). Unrepentant lying does have consequences for eternity!

Why is God so opposed to lying?  Because He is the truth!  John writes that God is “true” (1 John 5:20), that Jesus is “the truth” (John 14:6), and that the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13).  Because God is truth, we can understand how Scripture says, “God is not a man, that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19). In fact, “it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18) for He “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2).

God’s written word also is true. Christ prayed, “Your word is truth” (John 17:17).  And the gospel or good news of Christ is also called “the message of truth” (Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5). Because God is truth and truthful and cannot lie, we also are to be “imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1), and thereby always tell the truth and never lie! Our truthful God must condemn those who oppose truthfulness and are willing to lie or be dishonest!

It should be clear to us that lying must never be found in our life. We must stand in the truth, tell the truth, represent the truth, and guard the truth.  Since we have rejected Satan, the father of lies, and have surrendered our life to the God of truth, we must live in the truth ourselves.  You may remember that when Ananias and his wife Sapphira agreed to lie to Peter, the apostle said, “Why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit. . . . Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:3, 4). Because of their sin, God put them to death (vv. 5-11).

Any Bible believer should recognize that lying is utterly serious to the Lord and must be totally eliminated from our life.  But lies are one of Satan’s most important and potent strategies to reach people and make them his own!  Paul warns of false teachers with these words: “The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Timothy 4:1-2). Notice that those who fall away will be deceived by “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” These “spirits” will seek to deceive and lead astray people by the doctrines that they promote. And they use the hypocrisy of “liars” to do their work of deception.

In our day, many religious people are deceived themselves and are used by Satan, the enemy, to deceive others.  No wonder that we are warned again and again, “Do not be deceived” (1 Corinthians 6:9; cf. 15:33; Luke 21:8; Galatians 6:7; James 1:16; 1 John 3:7). (See also our booklet, Have You Been Deceived?)

Is this the way that everyone sees the matter of lying? While most people will claim to be truthful people, especially those who are religious in nature, still many (or perhaps most) people are willing to lie under certain circumstances!  They may lie to avoid embarrassment, or lie to escape detection, or lie to avoid punishment, or even lie to serve God! Yes, some are willing to lie in their service to the Lord and they have established doctrines to justify their prevarication.  Let’s notice a few groups that officially sanction lying under certain circumstances.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses

One of the religious groups that authorize lying in some situations would be the so-called Jehovah’s Witnesses.  We know that when a person or group teaches something false about Jesus Christ, there must be religious deception involved. The apostle John wrote, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?  This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” (1 John 2:22). The “liar” is one who opposes Jesus. It is well-known that Witnesses teach that Jesus was Michael the arch-angel prior to his birth, that he was merely a man on earth, and that now He is a spirit creature.  This would be a form of lying.

But what about the matter of truth-telling and lying in general?  Witnesses say that lying is justified in “theocratic warfare.” In a recorded speech by Fred Franz, then vice-president of the organization, this leader taught a lesson that looked at the examples of Abraham’s lying to pharaoh (Genesis 12) and lying to Abimelech (Genesis 20), saying that if Abraham could tell a lie, Witnesses have every right to lie as well.  If Rahab could mislead her countrymen (Joshua 2), this too was justified for she was being loyal to Yahweh God. Franz continued his justification of lying in certain circumstances. ( watchtower/beliefs/ 236784/1/Theocratic-War- Jehovahs-Witnesses-and-Lies).

In order to justify lying, Witnesses will say that it is permissible to “withhold truth” from those outside the Organization.  “The Scriptures justify the ‘war strategy’ of hiding true facts from the enemy.” (Watchtower May 15, 1960, page 295).  “As a soldier of Christ he is in theocratic warfare and he must exercise caution when dealing with God’s foes. Thus the Scriptures show that for the purpose of protecting the interests of God’s cause, it is proper to hide the truth from God’s enemies.” (Watchtower; 6/1/1960; p. 352).

Notice their explanation: “While malicious lying is definitely condemned in the Bible, this does not mean that a person is under obligation to divulge truthful information to people who are not entitled to it. … Evidently the course of Abraham, Isaac, Rahab, and Elisha in misdirecting or in withholding full facts from non-worshipers of Jehovah must be viewed in the same light.–Ge 12:10-19; chap 20 [Abraham lying to Pharoah and Abimelech]; 26:1-10 [Issac lying to Abimelech]; Jos 2:1-6; Jas 2:25 [Rahab lying to king of Jericho]”. (The bracketed portions were added.) (Watchtower 114:24, Dec. 15, 1993, p. 25). (Taken from

It is obvious that sometimes the Christian need not tell all of the truth he knows.  In some situations, telling all of the truth could hurt someone.  If a woman who is not physically attractive should ask whether we think she is beautiful, should we lie to make her feel good?  Would it be wise or merciful to tell her a lie?  In some of these difficult situations, we may need to refuse to answer or say something about the person’s attractive character rather than physical beauty.  But in other circumstances, the follower of Jesus must guard his tongue and use good judgment in the exercise of truth-telling. We know that Jesus our Lord did the same thing.  He didn’t identify Himself to most people. He didn’t directly say that He was the Son of God and their eternal Creator!  He wanted people to come to this conclusion in time as they considered His peerless character, His divine teachings, His miracles, and His death and resurrection.

I can testify to at least some lying by Witnesses.  One two or three occasions, Witnesses at the door stated that they would return to discuss the Scriptures, and they not only didn’t return but they didn’t call to say they would want to postpone the visit. I have reason to believe that on one or two of these occasions, they might have learned from other Witnesses that I am not a likely prospect but rather an opponent of the Organization.

One chief way that Witnesses have lied is at their annual convention held in public places.  In the past, I used to attend these affairs and try to distribute Christian literature that would expose the false teachings of the Organization. Often the leaders would stand before me and oppose my distribution of the tracts. And if some Witnesses actually took a tract from my hand, the leaders would tell them that I was an “apostate” and take the literature from their hand! When I replied that I had never been part of their organization, it didn’t change their tactics. They would continue to proclaim lies about me which effectively shut down my efforts to share the truth with them and those who attended.

Probably the Witnesses justify their lying in such circumstances because I was not part of their number.  They define “lying” as “saying something false to a person who is entitled to know the truth and doing so with the intent to deceive or to injure him or another person.”  They say that truth-telling doesn’t “mean that a person is under obligation to divulge truthful information to people who are not entitled to it” (Aid to Bible Understanding, p. 1061).

As we noticed earlier, the Watchtower organization would say: “As a soldier of Christ he is in theocratic warfare and he must exercise added caution when dealing with God’s foes.  Thus the Scriptures show that for the purposes of protecting the interest of God’s cause, it is proper to hide the truth from God’s enemies” (Watchtower, June 1, 1960, p. 352).  Obviously, Witnesses would say that this present exposure of their false doctrine has been written by an “enemy” of God. This surely must explain why they are willing to lie if it furthers their doctrine and their organization! Sadly, what Jesus said of the Pharisees of His day is applicable to the Witnesses, particularly the leaders: “You shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (Matthew 23:13).

The Jehovah’s Witness Organization justifies lying since it is part of their “theocratic warfare” strategy. I’ve learned through experience that their practice does illustrate their doctrine of lying.

Unification Church

Most people know of the Unification Church because of the flamboyant founder and president, Sun Myung Moon (now deceased).  They also know of this cult by the mass arranged weddings that Moon performed, in which hundreds of his followers were paired and married in stadiums.  Along with this, we remember Moon’s bold declaration: ““God is living in me and I am the incarnation of Himself” ( 2012/09/16/twilight-of-the- moonies-and- scientologists.html).  Not only did Moon profess to be the Messiah, he also promoted a form of religious lying.

Years ago someone came to my door and began to ask for money to be given to poor people in town.  They gave some official-sounding name to their organization.  However, I had already learned of the Moonies’ money-asking techniques, thus I asked if they represented Moon’s organization and they reluctantly admitted this.  This was an example of the Unification Church’s practice of “heavenly deception.”

One report describes this practice this way: “Moon teaches that lying is necessary when one is doing God’s work, whether selling flowers in the street or testifying under oath. ‘The truth is what the Son of God says it is. At the Garden of Eden, evil triumphed by deceiving goodness. To restore original perfection, goodness must now deceive evil. Even God lies very often.’” (theforbiddenknowledge.  com/hardtruth/the_ moonies.htm).

Another report says: “There are two features that distinguish the Moonies from all other cults: their fund-raising tactics and their mass weddings. Much has been written in magazines and newspapers about the deceptive tactics used in fund-raising, called ‘heavenly deception.’ This is the practice of justified lying, which is permissible because it is for good. During one of Moon’s training sessions, a student asked ‘What about white lies?’ ‘Rev.’ Moon answered, ‘If you tell a lie to make a person better, then that is not a sin.’ He further added, “Even God tells lies very often; you can see this throughout history.”

This source continues, “Moonies have been found raising funds from wheelchairs while in perfectly good health. They have even been spotted carrying the wheelchair back to their automobile!” (  It is interesting that two chief sins of the Scriptures are combined in this strange religion: greed and lying.  Incidentally, this church is very wealthy and owns many large companies in America.

One member was able to leave the organization with much difficulty, then she underwent a period of deprogramming.  Here is her testimony:

The Moonies laid a foundation for deprogramming. “Go ahead, indulge, if they give you alcohol during your deprogramming. Do anything external to fake them out that you’ve quit the Church. Then, when they relax the security, race back to us.”

The girl, as she began to see a different light, composed a list of the ways that the Unification Church was bending American laws from her personal knowledge and experience (these points may be minor compared to the national scale, but they do reflect the violation of the smallest principles):

  • Not getting solicitation permits, violating state or township codes for solicitation.
  • Selling by misrepresentation.
  • Forging of personal checks.
  • Misrepresentation on welfare, Medi-Cal application forms.
  • Avoiding payment of traffic violations, parking tickets.
  • Cash donations not recorded.
  • Misuse of land, health and zoning permits.
  • No respect for private property in the selling of members’ property without their knowledge or approval.
  • Signing retainer agreements for attorneys without signers being allowed to meet with such attorneys.
  • Evasion of truth on witness stands in courts of laws.
  • Renting motel facilities for one person, then sneaking many more into the room.
  • Turning off odometers on rental cars to reduce fees.
  • Using deceptive membership applications.
  • Encouraging members to violate legal conservatorships by escape or non-compliance.
  • Deceptive immigration and visa practices.

“I joined the Unification Church because I thought I’d found the ultimate truth. I left the cult because I realized (after deprogramming) that the truth wasn’t black and white. I discovered it wasn’t that my own faith in God was inauthentic; I’d wrongly worshipped a ‘God” that Moon’s Principles had created in my mind, a ‘God’ who mistrusted individual freedom of will,” the girl stated. Another girl stated that she cried for five days during her deprogramming, that what hurt most was her final realization that Moon and her Moonie friends were not perfect people, but instead they were shrewd and calculating.

“The hearings and deprogramming allowed me to discover that in the cult I hadn’t owned or had access to a private inner life of truth, free of guilt or manipulation,” the girl held in Napa County stated. But after deprogramming she said, “I could see that the greatest responsibility ever granted me, or any human being, was to act from free will, especially in evaluating right and wrong in a complex world. I had confused security with enlightenment. So I came out of the (Unification) Church.”

Reverend Moon is powerful, rich and has sway and influence over some of this nation’s highest public officials, but in the end, the mind of a young girl overcame this power, this influence, to set her will free again.

( /hardtruth/the_ moonies.htm)

We find it amazing to realize that a religious organization has allowed deception—so-called “heavenly deception”—to so dominate their outreach. Yet Satan, “the father of lies” is at work in the world and especially in religions to draw away people into false systems that will destroy them forever.


Probably one of the greatest religious liars of all time was Joseph Smith.  We say this with the knowledge that at least eight million people have accepted his religious lies. Although we don’t have the time to examine this in great detail, Smith lied throughout his lifetime. As the historian goes over his early life, he can see that Smith lied about the appearances of God and of Christ, he lied about his finding golden plates containing the Book of Mormon, he lied about his revelations from God, he lied about his contention that there was such a thing as “reformed Egyptian hieroglyphics,” he lied about the allowance of polygamy, and he greatly lied about the contents of the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and Doctrines and Covenants.

Although some Mormon members may unknowingly perpetuate some of Joseph Smith’s lies, they surely are also guilty of religious lying. Each Mormon claims that he has received a “burning in the bosom” that confirms the truthfulness of his religion, but surely such an experience doesn’t come from God. When the Mormons who knock on your door make claims that are based on the Book of Mormon and other writings of Joseph Smith and are willing to deny the plain teachings of Scripture, this would be an additional expression of religious lying. When Mormons claim that Jews came to North and South America before the time of Christ and built great civilizations—even when archaeologists deny that there is any evidence at all for this—they lie. The Mormon religion (“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”) definitely promotes many religious lies.

One former Mormon confessed, “As a full-time Mormon missionary from 1975 to 1977, I lied for the church countless times. Like my colleagues in the South Dakota-Rapid City Mission, which served the Dakotas and adjacent areas, I spoke truthfully about my background, but touted many Mormon teachings that contradict the Bible. . . . I can’t remember all of my missionary lies. Some were small, others grandiose, but all were false and misleading.” (“Ten Lies I Told as a Mormon Missionary,”

This former Mormon said that the first lie he told was “We’re not trying to convert you.”  He explains:

Of all my lies, this was the most frequent. I learned it well while in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which was my first assignment. A standard door-to-door proselyting pitch began with, “We represent The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Interrupting, many people said they had their own religion. “Oh, we’re not trying to convert you,” I responded. “We’re sharing a message for all faiths.”

But Mormon missionaries have one overriding goal, and that’s to bring converts into the church. Clearly, this was the purpose of my mission. I didn’t trade the Southern California sunshine for the Dakota snow merely to build interfaith relations. My calling was to teach the church-approved missionary lessons and then baptize the people I taught. (Ibid.)

This same former Mormon continues to explain how he lied about the Book of Mormon:

Joseph Smith claimed that the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on earth, adding that man would become closer to God by following its precepts than by obeying any other book (“History of the Church,” Vol. 4, p. 461). Replace “Book of Mormon” with “the Bible” and Smith would have told the truth.

When teaching missionary lessons, I boldly maintained that the Book of Mormon is scripture. I spent myriad hours convincing prospects that it’s a sacred record of Christ’s activities in the western hemisphere. Yet many Christians I contacted realized the book “borrows” heavily from the Bible and other sources. And in stark contrast to the Old and New Testaments, virtually no archaeological and anthropological evidence supports the Book of Mormon. Why not? Because it’s fiction. When Christians want to read scripture, they turn to the Bible.

Finally, this person who had been a Mormon missionary states:

I close with a few words about “testimony,” which is a missionary’s emergency cord. When I couldn’t rebut an antagonistic statement scripturally, I fell back on my testimony. For instance, while proselyting in Grand Forks, North Dakota, I was once asked where the Bible mentions the secret undergarments Mormons wear. Caught off guard, I admitted that the Bible says nothing about them. I could merely testify that God revealed the need for these garments through living prophets. But my testimony wasn’t based on scripture or other hard evidence. Rather, it was founded on personal revelation, which is extremely subjective. Essentially, my testimony was nothing more than a good feeling about the church and its teachings. In Mormon parlance, it was a “burning in the bosom.” But burning or not, it wasn’t from God. . . . I regret the many lies I told during my Mormon mission.

As we are seeing, religious lying is rampant in this fallen world.  It is used to promote a religion and this is the demonstration of Satan, the “father of lies,” at work on earth.  Another religion that allows lying would be the following.

Roman Catholicism

Many statements indicate that official Catholic doctrine sees lying as wrong and sinful.  One source states: “Even if one hopes to obtain great good, or to avoid serious harms, the choice to make false assertions is always wrong. A lie can never be justified by an appeal to expected good consequences” (Donal W.Wuerl, et. al, The Catholic Catechism, p. 147). Yet Catholicism distinguishes between certain serious sins that are “gravely sinful” and smaller sins that are “only venially sinful” (Ibid.). A further Catholic source rightly states, “A lie consists in speaking a falsehood with the intention of deceiving.” It continues: “Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead into error someone who has the right to know the truth. . . . Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another” (Cathechism of the Catholic Church: 2482, 2483, 2486).

However, as in the case of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Roman Catholic doctrine allows lying in some situations.  “So … a false statement knowingly made to one who has not a right to the truth will not be a lie” (Catholic Encyclopedia, IX, 471).  “. . . we are . . . under an obligation to keep secrets faithfully, and sometimes the easiest way of fulfilling that duty is to say what is false, or to tell a lie” (Catholic Encyclopedia, X, 195).

One Catholic source states that circumstances may justify telling an untruth. “Circumstances are an integral part of human speech. . . . Thus what may verbally be contrary to fact, like telling children of Santa Claus, is not lying” (John Hardon, The Catholic Catechism, p. 402). This author discusses “mental reservation” as practiced by Catholics.  In this case, “the speaker limits the common and obvious sense of his words to a particular meaning. . . . If he limits the meaning while leaving a reasonable clue to the sense intended, this is called a broad mental reservation” (Ibid., p. 403). Hardon says that a Catholic may use this kind of mental reservation in his speaking, “by saying one thing and intending something else.” “Thus in answering the telephone, to say that someone is not at home leaves open the reasonable conclusion that the person is at home physically but not available” (Ibid.).

We do commend the general Catholic teaching on truthfulness: “Christian doctrine rejects the notion that a choice directly against truth can be justified by an appeal to expected good consequences. The direct lie is forbidden even if one could thereby avert an injury or loss, or even save a life” (Donald W.Wuerl, The Teaching of Christ, p. 286). This would seem to answer the frequent dilemma of the Gestapo coming to a house and asking whether you are harboring Jews. But even here, Wuerl allows for a slight twisting of truth: “Conventional greetings and phrases are also commonly neither meant nor understood as meant to be serious communications of truth. ‘You look well today’ can be a word of encouragement rather than an expression of one’s considered judgment” (Ibid, p. 287).

Probably one of the better known fiascos in the Roman Catholic Church has been the extensive sexual abuse practiced by so many of their celibate clergymen.  Generally this would be homosexual experiences.  In such a case, the priest is living a lie and probably telling lies as well in order to promote his lustful designs.  All too often, the Catholic leadership then sweeps these instances of sexual immorality under the proverbial rug—and deceiving their membership into thinking that the priest is living an absolutely moral and holy life.  Numerous cases of this religious deception have come to light in recent years.

It is our opinion that Protestants may compromise as often as Catholics in some ways.  The question is whether we are scrupulously honest in all of our dealings, or whether we deliberately utter falsehoods in order to escape punishment or gain an advantage.


As in other religions, Islam permits lying in some circumstances.  In an article entitled, “Lying in Islam” by Abdullah Al Araby ( articles/lying.shtml), we read this explanation:

Like most religions, Islam in general, forbids lying. The Quran says, “Truly Allah guides not one who transgresses and lies.” Surah 40:28. In the Hadith, Mohammed was also quoted as saying, “Be honest because honesty leads to goodness, and goodness leads to Paradise. Beware of falsehood because it leads to immorality, and immorality leads to Hell.”

However, unlike most religions, within Islam there are certain provisions under which lying is not simply tolerated, but actually encouraged. The book “The spirit of Islam,” by the Muslim scholar, Afif A. Tabbarah was written to promote Islam. On page 247, Tabbarah stated: “Lying is not always bad, to be sure; there are times when telling a lie is more profitable and better for the general welfare, and for the settlement of conciliation among people, than telling the truth. To this effect, the Prophet says: ‘He is not a false person who (through lies) settles conciliation among people, supports good or says what is good.”

After giving a number of examples of lying in Muslim history, the above author writes:

Most Muslims are familiar with the principles of Islam that will justify lying in situations where they sense the need to do so. Among these are:

  • War is deception.
  • The necessities justify the forbidden.
  • If faced by two evils, choose the lesser of the two.

These principles are derived from passages found in the Quran and the Hadith. (Ibid.)

The author then writes:

One of Mohammed’s daughters, Umm Kalthoum, testified that she had never heard the Apostle of Allah condone lying, except in these three situations:

  1. For reconciliation among people.
  2. In war.
  3. Amongst spouses, to keep peace in the family.

One passage from the Hadith quotes Mohammed as saying: “The sons of Adam are accountable for all lies except those uttered to help bring reconciliation between Muslims.”

Another says, “Aba Kahl, reconcile among people.”(Meaning: even through lying.)

The following quote demonstrates the broadness of situations in which the prophet permitted lying. “The sons of Adam are accountable for all lies with these exceptions: During war because war is deception, to reconcile among two quarreling men, and for a man to appease his wife.”

Abdullah Al Araby then explains an important principle for Islam: Al-Takeyya.  He discusses this matter as follows:

The Arabic word, “Takeyya”, means “to prevent,” or guard against. The principle of Al Takeyya conveys the understanding that Muslims are permitted to lie as a preventive measure against anticipated harm to one’s self or fellow Muslims. This principle gives Muslims the liberty to lie under circumstances that they perceive as life threatening. They can even deny the faith, if they do not mean it in their hearts. Al-Takeyya is based on the following Quranic verse:

“Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution (prevention), that ye may Guard yourselves from them (prevent them from harming you.) But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.” Surah 3: 28

According to this verse a Muslim can pretend to befriend infidels (in violation of the teachings of Islam) and display adherence with their unbelief to prevent them from harming him.

Under the concept of Takeyya and short of killing another human being, if under the threat of force, it is legitimate for Muslims to act contrary to their faith. The following actions are acceptable:

  • Drink wine, abandon prayers, and skip fasting during Ramadan.
  • Renounce belief in Allah.
  • Kneel in homage to a deity other than Allah.
  • Utter insincere oaths.

The implications of the principle of Al-Takeyya

Unfortunately, when dealing with Muslims, one must keep in mind that Muslims can communicate something with apparent sincerity, when in reality they may have just the opposite agenda in their hearts. Bluntly stated, Islam permits Muslims to lie anytime that they perceive that their own well-being, or that of Islam, is threatened.

In the sphere of international politics, the question is: Can Muslim countries be trusted to keep their end of the agreements that they sign with non-Muslim nations? It is a known Islamic practice, that when Muslims are weak they can agree with most anything. Once they become strong, then they negate what they formerly vowed.

The principle of sanctioning lying for the cause of Islam bears grave implications in matters relating to the spread of the religion of Islam in the West. Muslim activists employ deceptive tactics in their attempts to polish Islam’s image and make it more attractive to prospective converts. They carefully try to avoid, obscure, and omit mentioning any of the negative Islamic texts and teachings.

An example of Islamic deception is that Muslim activists always quote the passages of the Quran from the early part of Mohammed’s ministry while living in Mecca. These texts are peaceful and exemplify tolerance towards those that are not followers of Islam. All the while, they are fully aware that most of these passages were abrogated (cancelled and replaced) by passages that came after he migrated to Medina. The replacement verses reflect prejudice, intolerance, and endorse violence upon unbelievers

In conclusion, it is imperative to understand, that Muslim leaders can use this loop-hole in their religion, to absolve them from any permanent commitment. It is also important to know that what Muslim activists say to spread Islam may not always be the whole truth. When dealing with Muslims, what they say is not the issue. The real issue is, what they actually mean in their hearts.

Probably the “9-11” disaster illustrates this permission to lie to obtain a good end for Islam.  The terrorists and murderers who perpetrated the evil acts by commandeering the four planes surely didn’t announce their wicked intents.  They took flying lessons, they made their murderous plans, they entered the planes deceitfully, and they acted like everything was normal. They were on a mission of jihad and this required that they involve themselves in massive deceit and lying. They thought the motive was justified. They wanted to honor “Allah” and imagined that they would enjoy the carnal delights on “Paradise,” thus they were willing to participate in enormous deception that resulted in the death of several thousand people.  Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, terrorists justify lying and deception to carry out their nefarious plans.

We might notice two cases of lying that are not tolerated in Islam:

There are TWO categories of lies which are not tolerated in Islam:

  1. A lie against Allah.

Who can be more wicked than one who inventeth a lie against Allah, or saith, “I have received inspiration,” when he hath received none, or (again) who saith, “I can reveal the like of what Allah hath revealed”? If thou couldst but see how the wicked (do fare) in the flood of confusion at death! – the angels stretch forth their hands, (saying), “Yield up your souls: this day shall ye receive your reward,- a penalty of shame, for that ye used to tell lies against Allah, and scornfully to reject of His signs!” Sura 6:93

  1. A Lie against Muhammad

Narrated Al-Mughira: I heard the Prophet saying, “Ascribing false things to me is not like ascribing false things to anyone else. Whosoever tells a lie against me intentionally then surely let him occupy his seat in Hell-Fire.” … (Sahih al-Bukhari 2.378, cf. 1:106-108).

Lying to, or about, fellow Muslims is also a sin according to the Traditions.


The first principle above is problematic. Basically, it says that one who says God has spoken to him or revealed a message to him is lying. But isn’t this the very thing that Muhammad himself did?  Whether he thought that God revealed a message to him (through the angel) or whether he deliberately lied, the result is the same: a falsehood. And, sadly, there are over one billion people on earth today who themselves have been deceived by him.

As for the second principle above, this says that to lie against Muhammad himself is a sin. However, surely telling the truth about Muhammad (that he was a false prophet or teacher) would be considered by Islam to be a lie. Therefore, the two principles bring serious issues to fore.

In a longer quotation that quite clearly expounds on allowances of lying in Islam, the same source says this:

One of the most interesting moral dilemmas for Islam are the cases in which lying is permitted

The Traditions tell us that there are three instances where deception can be used:

Humaid b. ‘Abd al-Rahman b. ‘Auf reported that his mother Umm Kulthum daughter of ‘Uqba b. Abu Mu’ait, and she was one amongst the first emigrants who pledged allegiance to Allah’s Apostle (may peace be upon him), as saying that she heard Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: A liar is not one who tries to bring reconciliation amongst people and speaks good (in order to avert dispute), or he conveys good. Ibn Shihab said he did not hear that exemption was granted in anything what the people speak as lie but in three cases: in battle, for bringing reconciliation amongst persons and the narration of the words of the husband to his wife, and the narration of the words of a wife to her husband (in a twisted form in order to bring reconciliation between them). (Sahih Muslim, Hadith number 6303-05; see also Sahih al-Bukhari 3:857).

More information is provided by William Muir’s “Life of Mahomet”, Volume I, footnote 88:

The common Moslem belief is that it is allowable to tell a falsehood on four occasions:

1st, to save one’s life;
2nd, to effect a peace or reconciliation;
3rd, to persuade a woman;
4th, on the occasion of a journey or expedition.

To save one’s life

The first is borne out by Mahomet’s express sanction. Ammar ibn Yasir was sorely persecuted by the pagans of Mecca, and denied the faith for his deliverance. The Prophet approved of his conduct: – “If they do this again, then repeat the same recantation to them again.” Katib al Wackidi; p. 227 ½. Another tradition preserved in the family of Yasir, is as follows: – “The idolators seized Ammar, and they let him not go until he had abused Mahomet and spoken well of their gods. He then repaired to the Prophet, who asked of him what had happened.” – “Evil, oh Prophet of the Lord! I was not let go until I had abused thee, and spoken well of their gods.” – “But how,” replied Mahomet, “dost thou find thine own heart?” – “Secure and steadfast in the faith.” – “Then,” said Mahomet, “if they repeat the same, do thou too repeat the same.” Ibid. Mahomet also said that Ammar’s lie was better than Abu Jahl’s truth.

To effect a peace or reconciliation

The second is directly sanctioned by the following tradition:- “That person is not a liar who makes peace between two people, and speaks good words to do away their quarrel, although they should be lies. Mishcat, vol ii. p.427.

To persuade a woman

As to the third, we have a melancholy instance that Mahomet did not think it wrong to make false promises to his wives, in the matter of Mary his Egyptian maid.

. . . . On the occasion of a journey or expedition

And regarding the fourth, it was his constant habit in projecting expeditions (excepting only that to Tabuk) to conceal his intentions, and to give out that he was about to proceed in another direction from the true one. Hishami, p. 392; Katib al Wackidi, p. 133 ½.

What was Muhammad’s attitude towards lying?

Muhammad treated truth and deception according his own style of situational ethics. Muhammad condoned, and actually permitted, lying to further his goals:

For example,

Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah:

Allah’s Apostle said, “Who is willing to kill Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf who has hurt Allah and His Apostle?” Thereupon Muhammad bin Maslama got up saying, “O Allah’s Apostle! Would you like that I kill him?” The Prophet said, “Yes,” Muhammad bin Maslama said, “Then allow me to say a (false) thing (i.e. to deceive Kab). “The Prophet said, “You may say it.” … (Sahih al-Bukari 5.369, cf. the article on Ka’b bin Al-Ashraf for further details)

Muhammad clearly condoned dishonesty, as well as murder, when it suited his purposes.

Lying today

Imam Abu Hammid Ghazali says: “Speaking is a means to achieve objectives. If a praiseworthy aim is attainable through both telling the truth and lying, it is unlawful to accomplish through lying because there is no need for it. When it is possible to achieve such an aim by lying but not by telling the truth, it is permissible to lie if attaining the goal is permissible.” (Ahmad ibn Naqib al-Misri, The Reliance of the Traveller, translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller, amana publications, 1997, section r8.2, page 745)

Note that Al-Ghazali is one of the most famous and respected Muslim theologians of all time. (Ibid.)

Basically, we can conclude that Islam permits Muslims to lie if it furthers the goals of their religion and meets the criteria that they have established.  A non-Muslim should keep this in mind as he relates to faithful Muslims.  We like to think that there are some Muslims with a good and honest heart (cf. Luke 8:15) who recognize the need for truth-telling and honesty because of the law that God has placed in the conscience of even unbelievers (Romans 2:12-15). But there must be many faithful Muslims who deliberately are willing to lie to promote their religion or to keep from exposing faults in Islam.

Many Churches

If we were to examine churches in the realm of Christendom, we would be able to find numerous examples of religious lies.  There are instances and even policies of deception on every hand.

When a church or denomination holds to a false doctrine, would this not be a religious lie?  When a church promotes a false practice, would this not be a case of deception. It may not be one that is deliberately promulgated, but it is a lie nonetheless.  Many churches promote theistic evolution. This is what Ken Ham rightly calls a “lie” (see his book, The Lie). It is a lie that deviates from the plain teaching of Scripture (Genesis 1; Exodus 20:11).  When a church promotes church government that is contrary to the teaching of the New Testament, this is religious deception that leads the members astray.

When a church promotes a teaching about Christ that conflicts with Scripture, this also is deception. It is a religious lie. Think of the churches that deny Christ’s full deity and humanity. Think of the ones that deny His virgin birth and sinless life. Think of the churches that deny Christ’s sin-bearing death and resurrection. Think of the churches that deny Christ’s coming in power and glory.  All of this represents religious lies—lies that will condemn one to eternal punishment.

Additionally, there are dozens—perhaps hundreds—of doctrines and practices that are promoted in the creeds, confessions, and articles of faith of various denominations and churches but they clearly deviate from Holy Scripture. Again, this would represent religious deception.

We may also think of the famous “faith healers” who lead their followers that sick, injured, and diseased people are actually being healed through a special touch or word.  Whether these big name “healers” know that they have no power to heal or whether they have deceived themselves to the point that they think that they actually are healing people coming to them, it still involves deception.  Scripture would warn, “Do not be deceived!”

It is time that we have eyes to see and a mind to discern religious lies and do all we can do turn from them and warn others of such a danger.

Lying is a Dreadful and Destructive Sin

Although various religions may condone lying in certain circumstances, it remains a dreadful and destructive sin in the eyes of the Lord.  It destroys trust between people, thus it ruins relationships.  But beyond the effects between people, we must remember what we noticed earlier.

We noticed that God is truth, that Christ Jesus is the truth, and that the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth.  God’s Word is the truth and the gospel of Christ is the message of truth.  In contrast, Satan is the originator or “father” of lies and he promotes lying on the earth.  All of this gives the basis of our need to be absolutely truthful in all of our ways.

You will remember that we also saw that lying is an “abomination” to God. He despises and hates this sin that violates His holiness and truthfulness.  Deceit comes from a defiled heart (Mark 7:21-23) and those who practice it are “worthy of death” (Romans 1:29, 32).  Liars will not be permitted to enter the Heavenly City (Revelation 21:27; 22:15) but will be sent to the fires of hell (Revelation 21:8).

But isn’t lying permissible if it promotes a certain religion—such as the Watchtower Witnesses, the Mormons, the Moonies, the Catholics, or the Muslims?  Isn’t it allowed if it serves a useful purpose?  Couldn’t it be condoned if it helps to spread a certain religion or helps one to show solidarity with other members of a given religion?

Hopefully we have seen that regardless of the motive, we must renounce lying.  Just as in other sins, we must repent of lying, forsake lying, and devote ourselves to truth-telling.  As Paul so well put it: “Laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor” (Ephesians 4:25).  We must always speak “the truth in love” (4:15).  We must know the truth, walk in truth, and love in truth (2 John 1, 2, 4; 3 John 1, 3, 4). There is no other way for the follower of the One who is “the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).




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