Columns Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

New Mormon policies meet the reality of a contracting church

The headline of the online Newsroom of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has announced an age change for Mormon youth programs.

On December 14, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints modified a policy that has been in place for over a century, opening priesthood ordination to boys as young as 11. Boys and girls will also be eligible at 11 to do baptisms for the dead in the temple, and participate in activities with the youth program for junior high and high school students.

Since 1908, boys have become eligible to hold the Aaronic priesthood only after their 12th birthday. In practice, that has meant that the Primary organization for Mormons ages 3 to 12 has slowly emptied of its oldest kids throughout the year, as one after another would reach their magic birthday and switch over to the youth program.

In my ward, I see this as an incredibly helpful and positive change. Our urban Primary is down to around a dozen kids (which is actually an improvement from just a few months ago, thanks to the relocation of a large and active Mormon family from the suburbs).

What it looks like to have only a dozen kids in Primary is this: just about everything is hard. Churchwide policies that are made to accommodate the thriving and large wards of, say, Utah County, often don’t make sense where I live.

This policy feels different, like it’s designed to improve the churchgoing experience for people who live in places where Mormonism is not well established.

I spoke to our Primary president about the change, and she’s excited. We only have two 11-year-olds right now, and they will both leave Primary at the first of the year rather than at the times of their individual birthdays. The boy will likely get ordained in January, and the girl will begin attending the Young Women program. This saves them the frustration of being the LAST tweens left to endure rounds of “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” with the little Sunbeams (ages 3 and 4) during singing time, which our kids all have together.

It’s tough to find songs and activities that appeal to wriggly Sunbeams and jaded tweens who are sneaking glances at their text messages each time they think the teachers aren’t looking.

It’s even tougher to do that for nearly two hours, which has been the case from 1980 up to now. In “the three-hour block” of Mormon meetings, kids and teachers have spent the last two of those hours in Primary, after an all-ages sacrament meeting worship service.

Starting in January, Primary will be pared to just 50 minutes total, with about half of that for singing and half for age-specific classes (which in our case is just two groups). Short and sweet.

The changes to Primary aren’t the only modifications that should give small, struggling congregations more breathing room:

  1. The two-hour block means we can call fewer teachers for adult Sunday School, priesthood, and Relief Society, which is an advantage when wards are short of potential volunteers and don’t want to keep asking the STPs (“same ten people”) again and again. Where I live, the move to a two-hour block may prevent burnout and exhaustion, as a number of members have more than one calling.
  2. Consolidating the priesthood quorums for men earlier this year had much the same effect. Merging the two reduced the number of necessary callings to staff both organizations.
  3. Moving away from formal home and visiting teaching programs has the potential to reduce the number of items that faithful Mormons have on their to-do checklists. (I say “potential” here because even though this has been in place since April, there are still a lot of questions about how it is supposed to work in practice. Actually, some folks seem reluctant to let go of the checklist.)
  4. Emphasizing “at home” strategies for learning the gospel points the way toward greater flexibility in how people read, discuss, and gather together. They can have Family Home Evening on whatever night works for them, rather than everyone moving heaven and earth to make FHE happen on a busy Monday. And they can create small groups to study and pray together.

When President Nelson announced the age change for priesthood ordination and Young Women on Facebook, church members’ responses were almost over the top in their enthusiasm—specifically, that the change reflected how the Lord’s church is advancing in the latter days. Some commenters talked about it as an example of modern revelation, which is not language that President Nelson used himself, though he has characterized other Handbook policy changes as “revelation” in the past.

My approach is more pragmatic: This new ordination policy reflects how the Church is contracting in the latter days. And I’m grateful we’re addressing it. Whatever the origins of this change, it solves a problem for my ward community. And given the slow shrinkage of the Church’s growth rate from year to year, we’re not alone in experiencing this. Around the world, Mormons had about a 1.5% growth rate in 2017; in the United States it was half that, barely outpacing population growth (.75% Mormon growth versus .71% for the general population).

As policies go, there’s a lot to like about these recent ones, which acknowledge the realities of declining growth and the needs of smaller wards.

 


Related posts:

Mormon growth continues to slow, especially in the US (2018)

Mormon growth slows to its lowest level since 1937. Here’s why that’s great news. (2016)


 

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church," which will be published by Oxford University Press in March 2019. She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

131 Comments

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  • The reality of Mormonism:

    Bottom line: Mormonism is a business/employment/investment cult using a taxing i.e. tithing “religion” as a front and charitable donations and volunteer work to advertise said business. And the accounting books
    are closed to all but the prophet/”profit” and his all-male hierarchy.

    Tis a great business model i.e. charge your Mormon employees/stock holders a fee/tithe and invest it in ranches, insurance companies, canneries, gaudy temples, a great choir and mission-matured BYU football and basketball teams.

    And all going back to one of the great cons of all times i.e. the Moroni revelations to Joseph Smith analogous to mythical Gabriel’s revelations to the hallucinating Mohammed !!!

    Amen!!

  • The headline uses the word contracting, so I opened the article to see the statistics. They, in fact, show continued growth, albeit at a slower rate than in the past. I thought contracting actually meant shrinkage. The next time I gain weight, but at a slower rate than in the past, I don’t think it would be accurate for me to tell myself or my wife that my waistline was contracting.

    And I didn’t see in the post how the policy was connected to the alleged shrinkage. The new policies would work as well in a rapid expansion. The policies are for the global church, and in some missions the church is growing rapidly. As you know, most Latter-day Saints live outside of the USA.
    The headline did work as clickbait, however.

  • 1. Two hour block-Nelson got this one right in terms of pragmatic move. Most members who had half a brain left were bored to death and could barely stand the three hours.
    2. Consolidating priesthood. High priests like it because they think they can “impart wisdom” to the elders. Elders hate these bits of wisdom and now have to put up with the stupid advice and snoring.
    3.Merging home teaching and visiting teaching. Most members hated this program. They hate to go out or be visited. I hated those home teachers who would not leave and stayed and stayed. I also hated those who tried to bribe my children to learn some scripture.Good riddance!
    4.Home learning as opposed to the third hour of church. Seriously?? This gives me time to watch football and sleep. When I see people who stick their nose in the scriptures and then deny science, it sickens me.

  • If one’s family was poor and in need of sustenance, education, and a useful job, not just for immediate needs, but for multigenerational prosperity, there would be no better church to join that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If your community or country was poor and in need of a better future, there would be nothing better than for your citizens to join the Church. The Latter-day Saints have a history of turning wastelands into prosperous communities and making the desert blossom like a rose, despite sometimes fierce opposition. Yet, the purpose of the Church’s temporal programs is not temporal as an end in itself, but rather to allow, sustain and promote individual spiritual growth and offer the gospel’s simple but efficacious message and ordinances of salvation to all the world. But if you don’t want to join in that work, you are free to spend your money on yourself.

  • No, that’s not “the reality of Mormonism.” It’s the reality of anti-Mormon pig-ignorance.

    Bottom line: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a church and nothing else. Anyone who denies this self-evident fact is either an outright liar or an utter bigot.

  • How do you know what High Priests like? Did you ask any? How do you know what Elders hate? Did you ask any?

    How do you know what any believing Latter-day Saints think about these changes? Did you ask any?

    Do you suppose there is a single Latter-day Saint in your ward or stake who is as censorious and judgmental towards the way you choose to ignore the Sabbath day as you are towards the way they observe it?

  • In fact legally it IS a corporation. It is a huge business. Please tell me you are not that ignorant member who knows nothing about their own church?

  • In reality, it is part of the Great Kibosh of All Religions: To wit-

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten
    seconds: Priceless !!!

    As far as one knows or can
    tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of Judaism,
    Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    As far as one knows or can
    tell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism,
    Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    There was no Gabriel i.e.
    Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    There was no Easter i.e.
    Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    There was no Moroni i.e.
    Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    Sacred/revered cows, monkey
    gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    Fat Buddhas here, skinnyBuddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas
    everywhere makes for a no on Buddhism.

    A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings
    (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that
    we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups
    calling themselves a religion.

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally,
    Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth century is regarded as its founder. Its early
    philosophic foundations and its later beliefs and rituals are two completely
    different ways of life. Today (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was
    immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his mother’s womb for
    eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • Being a corporation merely means you are a certain type of legal entity. It does not necessarily mean you are a business in the usual (and in this case pejorative) sense of the word. Churches, charities and humanitarian organizations can be and in very many cases are corporations.

    See also https://bible.org/question/what-purpose-church-becoming-corporation-does-make-state-head-church

    https://www.9marks.org/article/5-questions-on-church-incorporation/

    But if you choose to call the Church a business, what is its purpose? In this case Its purpose is to act as a church. The Church’s corporate charter in the pioneer era (Deseret) stated that donations were “for the benefit, improvement, erection of houses for public worship, and instruction, and the well being of said church.”

    Churches can and do go bankrupt. See https://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/can-our-church-file-bankruptcy–183766.html and https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/the-hour-of-power-and-the-moment-of-truth/ and https://virtueonline.org/episcopal-church-will-bankrupt-orthodox-parishes-oppose-them This is generally considered not to be a good thing. God may forgive, but banks don’t.

    Much of the negative comments in this thread are mere name calling and have little or nothing to do with the original post.

  • As a good student, you have read the reiterations of the “fems” (flaws, errors, myths and stench)of religion. Therefore the seeds have been planted in rich soil. Go therefore and preach the truth to all
    nations, reiterating as you go amongst the lost, bred, born and brainwashed souls
    of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism as Rational Thinking makes its triumphant return all because of you!!!!

  • Ok so you want a sample of business the church owns and is involved . They are up to their eyeballs in business. It would be easy to say they are more involved in business than charity and church. “https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deseret_Management_Corporation

  • But the purpose of the Church’s holdings is to support its religious, community, educational, and charitable activities. You have yet to prove otherwise.

    The US government holds vast wealth in land, gold, financial insturments, etc. But its purpose is to be a government. Its holdings are to support being a government.

  • There’s no point in trying to converse with this guy. I’m not convinced there’s even a real person there. He spouts the same blather so often he’s like the blogosphere equivalent of the robocalls I get asking if I need help with my student loans.

    This guy is basically the guy on the bus who talks to his sock puppet. He’s amusing the first time you see him. Then you feel sorry for him. But, ultimately, you forget he’s there.

  • The Church is only growing in the sense that Mormons continue to have larger than average families. The church is actually shrinking in numbers of wards and stakes in lots of places. The harsher and more out of touch with social progress that the LDS Church continues to be under the current General Authorities, the more it’s going to “contract.” The idea of 11 year old boys being subjected to the horrifically intrusive “bishop’s worthiness interview” is alarming and disgusting. I used to joke that becoming aware of personal self-pleasuring as a result of my first “worthiness interview” with the bishop, I had to go straight home and try out the new “knowledge.”

  • You have not proved your point. The Church uses a certain amount of monies to run it’s organization but it appears to use a lot of it’s wealth to support it’s business, influence politics and so on. Prove otherwise.

  • As soon as your outside/in “analysis” of Mormonism labels it as a “cult,” I tend to dismiss your remarks as one kind of con artist complaining about competing con games. BTW, the modern mythology of the “Gold Plates” is no worse that the notion that the Bible fell out of heaven all divided into chapter and verse when it basically came about by the government committee of a long-dead pagan empire. The various Nicene Councils came up with an “approved list” of musty old scrolls. No one would translate and transcribe all those old scrolls into a single volume for another 1000 years. The RCC put as many as 100,000 people to death across Europe for the “crime” of having person copies of bits and pieces of the BIble after they got around to have one “sacred book.” So, calling out the Book of Mormon scam is a bit disingenuous, given the greater hype and harm done in the name of the Bible.

  • That’s the tragedy of Mormonism. It offers so much that’s good along with a whole lot that’s very harmful. The “cult worship” of the General Authorities when they say crazy stuff as the “Word and Will” of God makes most reasonable people squirm. I absolutely cannot handle listening to crazy old Russell Nelson assure us that God wants him to be such a bigot.

  • So you’re an equal-opportunity bigot. Well, almost. You forgot one.

    Atheism relies upon a completely unsustainable faith in unprovable negatives. Since it has nothing going for it, atheists flatter themselves by congratulating each other on their vast intellectual superiority. This proposition is also unproven.

  • There’s only a limited number of ways for a church to become a legal entity, such that it can own property and pay bills. I’m well aware that the Church is an incorporated entity, hence a “corporation.” That doesn’t make it a “business.” The equivocation between the two things is either lazy or dishonest. Which is it in your case?

  • You’re right. Expressions like “business/employment/investment cult” and “prophet/’profit'” are mere name-calling.

    That is what you meant, isn’t it?

  • You use such combative and angry language. If you want to have a conversation about what it means to be a church and where the outer bounds of legal status, appropriate activities for an organized religion and religious belief are, I would like that. However, your tone and words indicate that you simply want to press your position without being open to learning anything. If you are open to thinking about issues in new ways, let me know. Otherwise, I doubt we can do anything other than call each other names.

  • Mormonism is no more of a con game than is any other organized religion, but it’s also no less of one. Nelson and the other 14 old men in SLC have seriously gone off the rails in their latest “inspired” ravings.

  • All evidence of the Church contracting and circling the wagons at the same time. It’s reducing activities that it can no longer sustain and “streamlining” services to fit new constraints. The real problem comes from Mormons embracing Trumpism and from Nelson being as wacky in his “propheting” as the worst of the rubles-addicted social conservatives.

  • The lazy point goes to you. If you look up at my previous point to LB, you will see a link to all kinds of business entanglements the church is involved with. They are varied and enormous. I am shocked a dedicated member such as your self did not know that.

  • It’s endlessly entertaining when people who only want to propagate their own propaganda expect everyone else to be “open” to “learning” from them.

    You assume that I’m not interested in a discussion of what a church is or what churches do because I’m unlikely to be persuaded that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn’t a church. Are you open to being persuaded that it is?

  • Perhaps I should hold my breath waiting for chicagoinfl to get all sanctimonious with you about “name calling.”

    But on second thoughts, maybe I shouldn’t.

  • I didn’t call you names. My critique of current Mormon church leaders is within appropriate discussion bounds. For you to take it personally actually highlights why some people label Mormonism as a “cult.” Bristling over criticism of the fearless leader is cult behavior.

  • Who says I don’t know it?

    That was a silly assumption.

    I’m well aware that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints knows how to manage its temporal affairs rather better than many, or perhaps most, other churches. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t a church.

  • If the LDS church has some serious intellectual problems with it’s scriptures and history are there any good reasons why one should remain. I remember years ago a church member who knew I left asked “Are you happy” John Dehlin has interviewed folk who have left and they have described how they navigated their exit when they still had family and friends in the LDS church. The LDS church in many places is contracting.

  • The Church is clearly a church. I was just curious how far you would take the definition – and you took it further than I would.

    I don’t think most people think that the Church is not a church, but rather it engages in certain activities that don’t seem to be consistent with charity, giving and community a classic church activities. For example, should a church be able to take donations given to it by its believers who sacrifice to give, transfer those funds to a wholly owned subsidiary and use those funds to engage in standard commercial activities? The Church does this with billions of dollars. It does not feel like a legitimate church activity even if legal.

    The other criticism with these activities by the Church relates to transparency. If a nonprofit, church or otherwise, were to refuse to show how they spent donations, I think most people would question what they were actually doing with the money. And rightly so. If people want to give money to an organization that refuses to give any financial details, I guess that is more a personal issue than a societal issue. But I think you can see how an outsider could have questions about what is really going on with the donations and be concerned that the organization was lacking candor with their donors.

  • Of all the atheists you could have picked, you picked the rich ones? At the same time you talk about how churches are designed to make money? You could have picked a number of scientists or other thinkers (which of course, wouldn’t prove anything, given that important scientists like Isaac Newton were extremely religious). I would say that you could point to atheists who dedicated their life to service, but I can’t think of any of those, so maybe that’s why you didn’t pick them.

  • Well, those businesses are all owned by the Church, so profits don’t ever get distributed to individuals. Ultimately, all of those funds end up going to religious and/or charitable actvities.

  • Almost every business entity on that list is directly tied to a religious or charitable activity. Bonneville international owns the means of broadcasting religious messages (like General Conference). Deseret Book and Deseret News distribute religious printed material. Deseret Mutual takes care of a practical need for employees, but more importantly, provides insurance for the Church’s missionaries. Temple Square Hospitality addresses needs and opportunities related to historic sites and conferences. Hawaii Reserves provides employment opportunities for BYU-Hawaii students.

    Most of the rest of the Church’s business activities deal with real estate holdings, which make sense as a place to put excess money since the Church naturally has experience in real estate in the form of religious buildings. Other holdings (farms, etc.) can be (and frequently are) leveraged to support charitable activities.

  • “I don’t think most people think that the Church is not a church”

    And yet that’s just what some people are saying. And it is that to which I am responding.

    I think people have a lot of assumptions about what a church should or shouldn’t do. I don’t have a problem with churches operating soup kitchens or homeless shelters, but they are not the core functions of the Εκκλησία, which functions are strictly ecclesiastical.

    Churches have traditionally run all manner of charitable activities, as well as schools and hospitals. But we’ve also seen that schools, hospitals and charities can function with or without churches to sponsor them.

    So if we are agreed that churches can do essentially non-church things without anyone questioning whether that somehow undermines their religious purposes, why should only certain kinds of non-church things be tolerated? Where is the moral issue in investing a surplus for a rainy day? The Church of Jesus Christ has consistently counselled the members to do just that. Why do I get the feeling that if the Church were not to follow its own advice on that point, its ever-vigilant critics would be lambasting it for hypocrisy? Or worse? Is some remark like the following completely unimaginable?

    “So the 15 old men tell the members to scrimp and save, but throw the Church’s money around on PR-driven ‘charity’ projects. They’re just doing that because they know that if the morg’s finances go south, they can threaten the members, and they’ll just pony up the cash.”

    Tell me that nobody here would say such things.

  • I can’t speak to what other people on this forum might or might not say.

    Personally, when I was a member, it never bothered me that the Church owned billions of dollars in assets. In a way, I had pride in it.

    I don’t think the issue is whether the Church has a rainy day fund. Based on estimates and extrapolations, the Church controls assets probably in the $100 billion to $200 billion range, although those might be low. Again the transparency. To me, numbers like that do not look like a rainy day fund, but look like numbers from a sophisticated investment company.

    If members want to sacrifice to give what little they have to a church that engages in commercial ventures to control assets like they are estimated to control, with no transparency or accountability to the donors, then I guess they can.

    When a person looks at the Church’s structure from the outside, without having the benefit of an emotional connection and not just trust, but belief in the people tasked with managing that money, it doesn’t look good. It looks like a structure someone would set up to get away with something. I’m not saying that is what is happening, but I don’t know what the Church really does with its money. You don’t either.

  • chicagoinfl: “If members want to sacrifice to give what little they have to a church that engages in commercial ventures to control assets like they are estimated to control, with no transparency or accountability to the donors, then I guess they can.”

    We pay tithing based upon our own earnings, not the Church’s. We don’t tithe more when the Church’s finances are tight, and we don’t expect to get a rebate when the Church is doing well. We understand that once we’ve paid our tithing, the money is no longer our own.

    We also understand that the purpose of tithing is essentially to fund the ordinary operations of the Church. We’re not expecting that the money goes to external charitable activities. No harm if some of it does, and no harm if it doesn’t. When there’s a surplus, this is a good thing. If the Church invests that surplus in an ethically run productive enterprise, that is also a good thing.

    chicagoinfl: “When a person looks at the Church’s structure from the outside, without having the benefit of an emotional connection and not just trust, but belief in the people tasked with managing that money, it doesn’t look good. It looks like a structure someone would set up to get away with something. I’m not saying that is what is happening, but I don’t know what the Church really does with its money. You don’t either.”

    It seems to me that “it looks like a structure someone would set up to get away with something” primarily to those who are starting from a position of outright suspicion.

    It looks to me (and I work in IT, but I came from an accounting background) like a structure someone would set up to separate for-profit activities from church-related activities, in order to ensure that the taxable entities were ring-fenced. Thus, the IRS can tax those entities to it’s heart’s content (cold as that heart may be) without plundering the Church’s own funds.

  • There were 233,729 LDS convert baptisms in 2017 and 106,771 new children of record.
    At the end of 2017 total church membership was 16,118,169 up from 15,882,417 the previous year. Total stakes (analogous to dioceses) in 2017: 3,341 Total congregations (wards and branches) 30,506. The respective numbers for 2016: 3,266 and 30,304.

    True some units have been closed, but others opened. God is still sifting the nations. See https://ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com/2018/12/new-stakes-created-in-brazil-2-utah-and.html

    Contrast this with The Episcopal Church, which has embraced, affirmed, and celebrated the pan-sexual movement: a loss of 13,709 attendees to a total of 556,744 resulted in a 2.4% decline in average Sunday attendance (ASA), despite occurring in a year when Christmas Eve occurred on a Sunday, which typically boosts attendance figures. The church’s 10-year decline in attendance currently stands at 24%…Membership experienced a more gradual drop, down 32,593 (1.9%) to 1,712,563 baptized members in U.S. domestic dioceses.

    https://www.virtueonline.org/church-england-and-episcopal-church-see-decline-church-attendance-nigerian-primate-blasts-welby-tec

    I prefer 1.5% growth to a 1.9% decline.

  • “Cult” is a rather meaningless pejorative. It is not a feature of discussions that are being conducted in good faith.

    And your snarl demonstrates that this is not merely a discussion of ideas in the abstract. You are defaming real people. I know some of them. I have every reason to believe that they are good, decent people. I have not the beginnings of a reason to even suspect that you might be wiser than them, or more compassionate, or – for that matter – more honest than them, or better in any way than the people you are slamming.

  • I understand the LDS position on tithing and donations since I was a member for 36 years, including serving a full mission.

    If I was to tell you that a television evangelist asked believers to give him 10% of their income no matter what their personal circumstance, with the promise that god would bless them in excess of what they gave, then took those funds and bought a shopping center, while refusing to tell anyone what exactly he did with the money, a person might have questions. The believers wouldn’t, but others might.

  • Lots of churches engage in what you might call “standard commercial activities.” The Christian Scientists have their Christian Science Monitor, a newspaper and news outlet. Various churches and ministries have their own radio and TV outlets and networks as well as publishing houses and bookstores. A monastery might have a winery. Whether those activities are a wholly owned subsidiary or organized in some other way hardly seems relevant, and in any event there is nothing inherently wrong with it and much good can come from it. The Latter-day Saints disclose details of their finances where ever it is required by law.

  • It is no secret that the Church engaged in urban renewal projects, including residential, office, and commercial space in key areas in danger of decay and kept their economy active during the great recession while not charging the taxpayers of the state. It would actually be a good thing if other churches duplicated this model.

  • But the leaders of the Church are not televangelists. They don’t preach a “prosperity gospel” or buy themselves private jets. The Church doesn’t only invest in “shopping malls,” despite the fact that the critics have a huge hangup about that, and obsess about it endlessly. The Church continues to build temples and meetinghouses, all of which cost money to own and run, and which – unlike the Church’s investments, and notwithstanding the spiteful jeers of the naysayers – don’t actually generate revenue.

    Tithing is a biblical principle. We haven’t abandoned it, like most churches have. Nor have we doubled it, like another group did. We’ve simply stuck with the original meaning. The only real change has been to adjust it to the way non-agrarian economies run.

    You can be as suspicious as you like about tithing, but it’s yet another example of the Church’s actions being entirely consistent with its own claims, and not with what other people assume it “ought to” do.

  • Zampona,

    Correct. Intellectual Reserve provides copyright services. The list could go on. Also, the Church has made serious investments to provide welfare services during a major crisis or disaster. Ted Koppel has written about this extensively with the cooperation of the Church. See
    https://ldsmissionaries.com/journalist-ted-koppel-writes-about-mormon-preparedness/
    and
    https://www.deseretnews.com/article/865640307/Ted-Koppel-points-to-LDS-Churchs-preparedness-in-book-Lights-Out.html
    As Mr. Koppel pointed out the government is less prepared and less efficient than the government to face a major crisis.

  • Wikipedia puts the figure at a fraction of your estimate, ca. $30 billion, and ca. two-thirds of that is tied up in non-income-producing facilities and the land they sit on. In fact, such assets are typically income drains since they require maintenance.

  • I know you want to believe with all your heart these business profits(BUSINESS) go to charitable purposes and to help people. The fact is you could never prove it because these things are tightly controlled. They are secret not sacred.If they truly did do good with all this mammon they would be shouting it from the rooftops. Profits not prophets rule this kingdom.

  • It’s just curious that the Church is so shy about letting people know what they do with the tithes. The Church can legally do what it wants with the cash, I don’t dispute it. My point is simply that the the system the Church uses to ask for and account for donations is strikingly similar to the system used by people that appear difficult to trust from the outside.

  • That’s my point. No one knows what they spend their money on or what they are worth. You clearly don’t know and I don’t know.

  • That does seem like a good project – I assume you mean City Creek, but it doesn’t really matter which one. The question is, should Churches take donations and engage in those activities? You clearly think that is great, but others, myself included, are more skeptical about such actions.

  • I know you want to believe in your heart that there’s some kind of widespread financial malfeasance in the Church, but the fact is you have precisely zero evidence of that.

    For-profit businesses are allowed to earn a profit. They pass those profits to their owners. When the owner is a non-profit, that money has to be used just like any other income of the non-profit. So the arrangement on its own provides no evidence that anyone is getting rich off of these businesses. Of course, the Church could be operating under some illegal arrangement, but then again, that could be true of literally any organization, including those that cook their (publicly available) books. That gets us no closer to proving anything untoward.

    Leaks of financial information indicate that Church leaders make as much money as the average rabbi. Again, no one is getting rich off of this arrangement.

  • Nice, professional grade thread jack. As for transparency, who on this thread knows who you are, what your history is, etc. Clever how you give a really high estimate, suggest its too low, and when I point out that it is many times what sources like Time estimate, you fall back on “no one knows.” I would say, “who cares” when it is no longer your church, if it ever was. Do you care how much the Catholic or Episcopal Churches are worth? Would you have any influence over them if you did?

  • That’s why I am in the Church and you are not, if you ever were. No one here really knows. Any community would be blessed by the presence of the Church. Any city would be fortunate to avoid inner city decay. But you are free to be skeptical.

  • My first reply to Jana was that despite her headline, the Church is still growing and not contracting. You just repeated the inaccuracy.

  • LB, you’re not comparing apples with apples.

    The Episcopal Church numbers quoted were for church attendance. The LDS church doesn’t report average sacrament meeting attendance. (Otherwise, we’d be able to calculate the overall activity rate). So we don’t actually know if LDS participation rates are increasing, declining or remaining static. The closure of long-established LDS units seems to suggest that attendance might be dropping.

  • See the following links on this issue https://www.fairmormon.org/answers/Mormonism_and_church_finances/Twenty-first_century/Disclosure#Question:_Why_does_the_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_.28Mormon.29_not_provide_public_disclosure_of_its_financial_data.3F http://timjgordon.com/2015/02/the-folly-of-lds-church-financial-transparency/

    Short summary: it wouldn’t satisfy those who want to find fault with the Church and who would like to micromanage it from the outside.

    I note that in the UK the government does require the books be opened and the Church has complied. Guess what? No scandal has been found.
    I have done local ward audits and I know well a man who has done audits in several South American countries. You would not find a more Christ-like man. He has my complete trust as a friend and as an auditor.

  • I have looked at census records and there is a difference between those the LDS claim to have as members in Australia and those who enter LDS on the census. The same happens to a number of churches. If you look at the site cumorah.com they give the figures. The guy who runs the site is LDS. Some with a faith crisis sometimes find Fair makes things worse.

  • “The Church continues to build temples and meetinghouses, all of which cost money to own and run, and which – unlike the Church’s investments, and notwithstanding the spiteful jeers of the naysayers – don’t actually generate revenue.”

    It’s not that simple. Those buildings do impact revenue. Churchhouses are places where there is constant reinforcement that families can only be together forever if they are “worthy”, which includes paying an honest tithe. Malachi is misused often for the proposition that a person who does not pay a tithe is robbing God. Churchhouses are where people traditionally have handed the gray tithing envelope to a member of the bishopric. Now that I think about it, reminds me of wedding scenes from mob movies. Anyway. Churchhouses are where the annual shakedown, known as “tithing settlement” occurs. Which is to say, members must meet with their bishop and declare the extent of their tithing for that year. No, or less than full, tithing will ordinarily result in that member’s temple privileges being suspended.

    Temples are the only venues where celestial ordinances that get you to the most exclusive neighborhoods in heaven are performed, including eternal marriage. But to get there, we’re back to where we started, which is members have to give up 10% of their gross earnings, before they pay for rent, food, clothing, etc. In other words, you can’t get a backstage pass to the rockstars of heaven if you don’t pay up. For a believing member, a temple is a constant reminder of their duty to pay.

    These buildings help the church financially.

  • I grew up in the Church, graduated from seminary, served a full and honorable mission to Spain, graduated from BYU and married in the temple. I am also a real estate attorney and worked at a few large law firms. I also took a look at the Church’s promises to me and realized the Church was unable to deliver on what it promised. I am no longer a member of the Church, having resigned a few years ago.

    You should never trust the answers of someone on the Internet.

  • I am not sure if you are being intellectual dishonest or just ignorant. The business the corporation operates are for profit. They are allowed under law to do anything they wats with their profits. Example would be the 3 billion dollar mall in Salt Lake is FOR PROFIT. The problem that you will not address is we have no real idea where these profits are going because the leaders will not tell us. They are a secret organization with little transparency.They should follow the words of Christ-Let your light so shine before men…..” The ironic thing is our very own scriptures talk about secret combinations. It turns out they were not warning us about the five N.Y. Families but our very organization.
    There is NO reason the church can not be a complete open book about what we do with profits and how they are used to the penny to serve the mission of helping people. Other churchs’ are far more open than we are. We do not lead the way, we hover in the dark corner and don’t want people to shine a light on us. There is a reason for that. Use your brain if you have one left.

  • I never accused the Church of mismanaging funds. If you are comfortable with everything, then great. Can you at least see why a non-believer could have questions?

  • Ok, I’ll start over. Profits from a for-profit business go to the owners. The Church owns these for-profit businesses, therefore the profits go to the Church. Legally, the Church must use those funds for its non-profit mission. It’s not a difficult concept.

    I can respect a desire for more financial transparency. Personally, I’m not bothered by it. I’ve done legal work for the Church, so I’ve seen behind the curtain, so to speak. As an institution, the Church is responsible with its assets, and looks to building a sustainable future. You can hide a lot of financial wrong-doing in public books. You can also have private books and be financially responsible. For my part, I’d rather not have the Church’s spending decisions subject to public scrutiny simply because the debate over financial decisions by people who do not understand finances distracts from the mission of the Church. Perhaps some high level information would be useful, but it’s certainly not important enough for me to lobby for it.

  • These businesses ca do whatever they want with money. Your view they are bound by some law is not true. Do your homework. The idea the church should not be transparent because we are too stupid to understand the books is also nonsense. The church is a secret combination. Sad but true. Do not respond. I do not want to hear anymore half baked comments from you. Do your homework first.

  • Mike, I’m an attorney. It’s my business to do the research on this kind of thing. For-profit businesses are bound by literally volumes of law. Each of the Church’s for-profit entities must file a tax return. Legally, the Church can’t use a for-profit subsidiary as an end run around the prohibition on private inurement.

    Ever heard of Fred Karger? He’s on a mission to show that the Church is engaging in financial funny business. In his two-year quest, he has so far come up with precisely nothing.

  • You missed reading the sentence that gave membership numbers, down 1.9% as compared with the 2.4% decline in attendance. So I did cite the apples, so to speak. Check the source cited for additional grim details.

  • You don’t seem to be the brightest attorney. I said do not respond to me with dishonest comments. There is a wide latitude what the church can do. That is how they became this wealthy institution.For instance, they can reinvest in more business, which they love to do. They can spend thousands on rugs, and so on. Christ never advocated for that. If you have documentation that shows ALL this money goes to help needy people bring it forth. Pretending they cannot does not help. They can and should be transparent and they choose not to. It is clear they are a secret combination and people like you enable them.

  • If you go over to http://ldschurchgrowth.blogspot.com, a site administered by a faithful member according to my understanding, the pace of growth is slowing, while the number of discontinued stakes and districts remains apace.

    2016: Created – 100 Stakes, 30 Districts, 130 total. Discontinued – 8 Stakes, 8 Districts, 16 total.
    2017: Created – 81 Stakes, 23 Districts, 104 total. Discontinued – 6 Stakes, 6 Districts, 12 total.
    2018: Created – 58 Stakes, 14 Districts, 72 total. Discontinued – 14 Stakes, 7 Districts, 21 total.

  • Mike, there’s no need for the ad hominem attacks. If you disagree, the rational, respectable thing to do is point out how you disagree; it’s not to call me stupid. (Not that I care much what your opinion is of me.)

    You’re bringing in new arguments instead of responding to my earlier points. Yes, there’s wide latitude on how the Church can spend money, as there is with any institution. That point, however, does not support your earlier claim that “[my] view they are bound by some law is not true.” My point was that it is illegal for anyone to obtain a private benefit or inurement from Church businesses. There are also numerous laws and regulations on how any private business can be conducted, and particularly on a for-profit subsidiary of a non-profit (see link [1] below for just one example). You haven’t addressed that point.

    Jesus used the concept of financial investments to teach spiritual lessons (e.g. Matthew 25:14-30). Jesus worshipped at and honored the temple (e.g. Matthew 21:12-17), which is among the major expenditures of the Church today. And Jesus was not per se opposed to expensive things, as He explicitly chided His disciples for making the same argument that you make here: that money used on expensive things could have been used to feed the poor (Matthew 26:6-13). Caring for the poor is an important aspect of Christian discipleship, but it is hardly the ONLY aspect. You might have a point if the Church did NOTHING to help the poor, but that’s simply not the case, as the Church operates a vast welfare system.

    “If you have documentation that shows ALL this money goes to help needy people bring it forth.” First, as I’ve already pointed out, there’s no reason to show that “ALL” of this money goes to help needy people. Second, that’s not the burden of proof here. If you have any evidence that the Church is mishandling money or doing anything illegal, it’s on you to provide the evidence.

    “They can and should be transparent and they choose not to.” Transparency is not a universal virtue. Why don’t you show me your financials so that I can determine whether you’ve paid all your taxes? Surely, if you don’t show me, that must mean there’s something wrong, right? Do you see how silly that notion is?

    “It is clear they are a secret combination…” You keep on using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  • When the LDS Church enjoys 35% activity or better, local congregations get “rewards” like the new temple announced for rural northern California in Yuba City. Chico to the north of Yuba City is a larger, more diverse town, but apparently the Mormons in one of California’s reddest rural counties are showing up for worship service (Sacrament Meeting) in large enough numbers to get a new “House of the Lord” in their community. Congregations that get combined have to fall well below 25% average attendance, so the “Memberships of Record” stats have a hidden real value, if you know how they get used by the bean counters in Salt Lake City.

  • Danny: “Malachi is misused often for the proposition that a person who does not pay a tithe is robbing God.”

    Well, that’s what Malachi says. If quoting him verbatim means that he is “misused,” perhaps you’d like to tell us the correct usage of that passage?

    Just in case you think it’s some kind of misunderstanding (deliberate, no doubt) based upon the archaic language of the KJV, here is how the NIV renders it. Why the NIV? Because it was the first one I found:

    8 “Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

    “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

    “In tithes and offerings. 9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it….”

    How is that passage “misused?”

    Danny: “Church houses are where people traditionally have handed the gray tithing envelope to a member of the bishopric.”

    You must not have been around very long. They used to be brown.

    Danny: “Now that I think about it, reminds me of wedding scenes from mob movies.”

    Was that the absolute nastiest comparison you could possibly think of? I guess it must have been.

    Danny: “Churchhouses are where the annual shakedown, known as ‘tithing settlement’ occurs.”

    It would be much easier to regard you as a serious person if you managed to avoid these deliberately inflammatory (and bigoted) comparisons.

    It’s not a “shakedown.”

    Danny: “No, or less than full, tithing will ordinarily result in that member’s temple privileges being suspended.”

    Not at tithing settlement. That happens during Temple Recommend interviews, which don’t happen at the same time.

    And the two interviews treat tithing differently. Tithing Settlement is looking at an entire calendar year, while the Temple Recommend interview is only interested in current tithing performance. The counsel always given to someone who is trying to become a full tithe payer is, “Don’t try to make any back payments. Just start paying tithing now. It’s not about money.”

    Kind of a strange approach for a “business” that’s only interested in squeezing as much money out of people as possible, but I’m sure you can find a way to make it reflect badly upon the Church of Jesus Christ.

    After all, you know you want to.

  • Danny: “Or sees it for what it is. The emperor has no clothes.”

    Do you do all your “thinking” in cliches, or do you occasionally have an original thought of your own?

    Anyone who denies that the Church of Jesus Christ is a church (well, duh!) is certainly not seeing it “for what it is.”

  • “Mormonthink” is a lie. It’s not written by any “Mormons” and entails no thinking.

    The so-called “CES letter” is a crowd-sourced collection of standard anti-Mormon talking points. It represents nobody’s “honest questions.”

    How long have you been an online shill for these discredited propaganda outlets?

  • True, but my point was still valid. No point bringing up attendance when you’ve only got one side. And it’s the figure that would better display the health of church membership.

    Meanwhile the church appears to be trying to slow down the rate of membership removals, according to the people at Quitmormon.com. So it would also be interesting to compare how easy it is to quit the Episcopal church vs LDS.

  • Yes it was very nice of the members in poverty-stricken areas of the world to contribute to the prosperity of Salt Lake City’s economy. 😂😂😂

  • Those stats prove LB’s point. They show a net gain of 114 stakes/districts in 2016, 92 in 2017, and 51 in 2018. In other words, what you are seeing is a slowing rate of growth, not contraction. If the numbers fall to a net loss of units, then you’ll have an argument for contraction.

  • Hi Danny, tithing is a random requirement from the Mosaic Law that (some) Christian churches have decided to keep going. Hmm, why that one?

    Why did it take the church 50 years to decide on what it meant if it was so simple?

    Why wouldn’t you interpret Malachi as referring strictly to the temple priests and the practice of bringing them grain as an offering? How is it obvious that this translates to donating 10% of gross annual funds to a legal entity that invests the money in a myriad of enterprises?

  • They are liars, crowd-sourced anti-mormons, and I’m a shill for discredited propaganda outlets. Awesome. Here, I’ll help. I’m a poopey-head, too.

    So, then, is LB a shill for fairmormon?

    Hey, whatever you gotta say to yourself to keep things right in your head. Thing is, my comments aren’t for you. They are for any reasonable person who is curious. Your diatribe only helps, not hinders, a curious person clicking on a link. Like Cypher says in The Matrix, “Don’t blame me [Kiwi]… I’m just the messenger.” Keep taking the blue pill, coppertop.

  • Jesus, you are one butthurt individual. Must suck.

    Do I have original thoughts? Sometimes. Do I borrow from others? Sometimes. That the benefit of literacy. I don’t have to reinvent the wheel on every subject.

    Ok, so maybe I’m wrong, but I’m thinking you’re a New Zealander? Isn’t your prime minister Jacinda Ardern an ex-mo? I guess her response to Russ Ballard’s “where will you go” was to get elected PM and address the United Nations.

    And wasn’t one of your good Mormon members Marama Fox recently busted for driving while intoxicated? I read also that her business is in liquidation and owing investors a fair amount of money. Damn, why didn’t she prosper? Didn’t pay her tithing I’ll bet. Uh oh, she might lose her temple recommend. But hey, you can be a complete POS, have committed criminal acts, (or be a nasty, angry, terrible example of a disciple online) and still retain your membership in the church. But you go public contrary to your inspired leaders? Bam, excommunicated and out with the trash.

  • “And wasn’t one of your good Mormon members Marama Fox recently busted for driving while intoxicated? I read also that her business is in liquidation and owing investors a fair amount of money. Damn, why didn’t she prosper? Didn’t pay her tithing I’ll bet. Uh oh, she might lose her temple recommend.”

    Your spiteful Schadenfreude may be your most attractive characteristic.

    I don’t know about you, but I was taught not to kick people when they were down.

    “But hey, you can be a complete POS”

    You would know all about that.

  • No doubt the net flow of funds is inward from poverty-stricken areas of the world to Salt Lake City. Sure, Wilbur.

    Or maybe not. I wonder how many years it will take for tithing receipts from the DR Congo to pay for the Kinshasa Temple?

    Or how many generations?

  • OF: “Hi Danny, tithing is a random requirement from the Mosaic Law that (some) Christian churches have decided to keep going. Hmm, why that one?”

    Well, there’s the little matter of Jesus specifically approving of it. His opinion sort of counts for something. He wasn’t just new-agey-touchy-feely, you know.

    OF: “Why did it take the church 50 years to decide on what it meant if it was so simple?”

    There were a number of historical factors that influenced that. Not everything can be reduced to sound bites.

    OF: “Why wouldn’t you interpret Malachi as referring strictly to the temple priests and the practice of bringing them grain as an offering?”

    And farm animals.

    OF: “How is it obvious that this translates to donating 10% of gross annual funds to a legal entity that invests the money in a myriad of enterprises?”

    Because not all of us are farming. And because the primary purpose of tithing – contrary to your sly insinuation – is to fund the cost of running the Church around the world. There are a lot of chapels, and all of them have electricity bills to pay. Only whatever is surplus to requirements gets invested, because that’s a better use of money than letting it gather dust in a bank account.

  • Again: is all your thinking in these kinds of cliches, or have you ever had an original thought of your own?

    Clearly you find it comforting to imagine that anyone who disagrees with you is somehow plugged into “the Matrix” and “taking the blue pill,” because it saves you from having to confront the fact that people who know everything you are selling – and who, in fact, know more about it than you do – aren’t buying it.

    Hey, whatever works, right?

  • We both agree now the church has wide latitude to use profits from their businesses in many ways. They can spend it on expensive rugs, invest in new business, and so on.The church spends a lot of time operating a business instead of running a church. They are in many ways a double minded man that Christ spoke of. You cannot serve God and Mammon. They are trying. Man are they trying, scriptures be damned.
    You say Jesus worshiped at the temple.He did and chased money changers out. Our temples are these whited sepulchers displaying ostentatious wealth. A waste of money.
    The church is a business, which was my point. You helped me make that point. I also say they are way too secretive. You have agreed with that point. There is usually a reason a business is overly secret. They want to hide what they are doing with the money and want to avoid oversight. Folks like you are enabling them to get away with this bad idea and practice. Your apologetic argument sounds like a tinkling cymbal and sounding brass.

  • Re Malachi: Yeah, on second thought, you could be right. I always thought the diatribe more directed at the priests. However, my jab about Malachi was part of a much larger point. Your focus on the Malachi thing is a deflection. I see what you did there. A key implication of Mormon doctrine is that not paying a tithing keeps one from reaching the celestial kingdom. Yes or no? And these concepts are taught primarily at the churchhouse, yes or no? So, activities at the churchhouse have a direct effect on money going to the church, yes or no?

    Color of envelope: I was a member for 54 years. Far too long, actually. I remember them always being grey. But I’m in the US. Maybe they are a different color where you live? Not a big deal, really. Another deflection. Are you trying to mimic your heroes at fairmormon?

    The mob reference: No, that wasn’t the nastiest thing I could think of. Actually, I wasn’t trying to be nasty. A little projection on your part, maybe a lot. I was trying to be funny. Any casual reader would have snickered at that one. I’ll bet, can’t prove, I did get snickers. It’s just that you guys lose your minds and can’t see anything but red.

    One person’s tithing settlement is another person’s shakedown. If you find it inflammatory, I suspect it hit too close to home and you got butthurt. I stand by my statement. It IS a religious shakedown. Here is the context for anybody who is not a Mormon. If you are a Mormon, then:

    1. You want to go to the celestial kingdom. (the highest most exclusive region of heaven where only a few will dwell) and the ONLY place where a person gets to stay with their family forever. (Nice, huh?)
    2. To do so requires in part that you receive ordinances ONLY available in the temple.
    3. To go to the temple for those required ordinances you must successfully interview not once, but twice, with your bishop and then your stake president or counselor.
    4.To pass the interview, among other things, you must answer yes each time to the question “Are you a full-tithe payer?”

    The shakedown is embedded in Mormon theology. It’s basically a protection racket (as are many religions). If you pay us, we’ll make sure things go well for you in the afterlife. If you don’t, well..

    You want to infer I’m a bigot, that’s ok. I’m not intolerant of your beliefs. I just find them unconvincing and often risible. Does laughing at flat-earth arguments or 911 conspiracies make me a bigot? If being blunt makes me a bigot in your eyes, I can live with that.

    You: “Not at tithing settlement. That happens during Temple Recommend interviews, which don’t happen at the same time.” Another deflection. What the hell does it matter if the bishop doesn’t yank it that very moment? It’s the overall context that matters. And yes, I’ve known bishops to yank recommends at the settlement meeting.

    “The counsel always given to someone who is trying to become a full tithe payer is, “Don’t try to make any back payments. Just start paying tithing now. It’s not about money. Kind of a strange approach for a “business” that’s only interested in squeezing as much money out of people as possible.” Mmm, yes, I see your point. But that just means the church takes the long view. Even slaves get to sleep, get fed, so they can wake up the next day and continue their labors. You can’t duck the big picture. Pay, or face eternal consequences.

    “…but I’m sure you can find a way to make it reflect badly upon the Church of Jesus Christ. After all, you know you want to.” I’m minded of the joke where the wife asks the husband if her new jeans make her butt look big? His response, “No, your butt makes your butt look big.” I don’t need to find a way to make the Mormon church look bad. It does that on its own.

  • I don’t know how easy it is to quit being an Episcopalian, but it is obviously easy to not attend, and those numbers are not good. No matter how you measure it, the Episcopal Church is in a serious, long-term, and perhaps irreversible decline, a decline from a once powerful position. If you have any evidence that the Episcopal Church is growing or even not declining, please present it.

    See https://www.virtueonline.org/four-markers-reveal-why-collapse-episcopal-church-inevitable (discusses several metrics)

    https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/last-episcopalian-been-born/ (projects a dismal future)

    https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/home-page-news-and-views/why-is-the-episcopal-church-near-collapse.aspx (reasons for the decline)

    https://www.virtueonline.org/wiccans-now-outnumber-episcopalians-us (hard to believe, but apparently true)

    Note that Episcopal decline is documented and lamented by orthodox Episcopalians. They also discuss why the denomination is declining: it is their abandonment of traditional orthodoxy. The why is worth noting.

  • “The church spends a lot of time operating a business instead of running a church.” The Church hires professionals to run these businesses. Please show me itineraries demonstrating that ecclesiastical leaders spend a significant portion of their time worrying about the for-profit entities.

    Where did Jesus condemn the temple itself, which was constructed with fine materials in order to demonstrate that the people were willing to give their finest to God? The problem was with people turning the temple into a center of commerce, not with the temple itself. God Himself commanded that the tabernacle (the prototype for the temple) be built with fine materials:

    “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering. And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass, And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair, And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood, Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense, Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate. And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” Solomon likewise built a temple out of fine materials, which the Lord accepted and where the Lord promised to dwell (See 1 Kings 6-8, particularly 6:12 and 8:11 for the Lord’s approval).

    “The church is a business” No. The Church is a church. It derives a small portion of its funds from businesses. This actually isn’t uncommon. Church’s and other religious organizations often have an associated bookstore or gift shop. Almost every established church (and nonprofit of any kind, for that matter) has some sort of investment vehicle to handle long-term assets for long-term planning.

    “You have agreed with that point.” No, I haven’t.

    “There is usually a reason a business is overly secret.” Please send me your bank statements, or else I will have to presume that you are up to no good with your finances.

  • Brisbane has a new stake because so many current Aussie members are moving to Queensland. I’ve lost count of how many I know that have moved up there.

  • Mike: “It would be easy to say they are more involved in business than charity and church.”

    Sure it would be easy. As easy as lying, in fact.

  • Mike: “You have not proved your point. The Church uses a certain amount of monies to run it’s organization but it appears to use a lot of it’s wealth to support it’s business, influence politics and so on. Prove otherwise.”

    We don’t have to. You are the one making the accusation, so you have the burden of proof.

    Ordering us to “prove otherwise” merely demonstrates that you know you can’t meet your own burden.

    And the notion that for-profit business investments have to be financially supported is absurd on its face. The whole purpose of such investments is to provide a return to the investor.

  • Hi Kiwi, oh yes, Jesus. Book of Mormon. Historical. Direct KJV quotes. Pre-Christ Christians. Deutero-Isaiah quotes. Got it.

    They can do whatever they want with their donated money. Just stop pretending that it’s God that wants it.

  • While you can sling as much mud at the Church of Jesus Christ as you like. Just stop pretending that it reflects “rational thought” instead of relentless opposition.

  • Why isn’t it rational thought? Why are you talking about rationality in the face of gold plates and seer-stones-in-hat?

  • It’s not rational thought because your spite is so obviously on display.

    You start off by trying to argue about the matter at hand, and when that breaks down, you resort to the scatter-gun approach.

  • Most of your comments were either straw man or missing the point. Let me review the facts I have established. If you can refute them with facts, do so. I will revoke the fact.
    1. The Church owns a for profit corporation and owns substantial business holdings. That means they are a business. They may also be a church but they are also a business.
    2. They take in massive amount of money on both sides. Some estimates put it at billions per year. They are obsessively secret about letting people know hw they are using that money. Your argument I should compare my personal tax returns with a church is absurd. Use better logic. As a result, neither you or I have no idea how responsible they are in spending those funds. My opinion is it rises to the level of a secret combination.

  • “Most of your comments were either straw man or missing the point.” Care to explain, or at least point to an example?

    “I will revoke the fact” I honestly have no idea what you’re trying to say here.

    “The Church … owns substantial business holdings.” True.

    “That means they are a business.” You are confusing what a thing has with what a thing is. I have a car. It helps me accomplish my goals as a father, a husband, an employee, and an outdoors enthusiast, all of which are things that I am. But I am not a car.

    “They are obsessively secret…” I’m identifying an obsession in this conversation, but it’s not with the Church (hint: it’s you).

    “Your argument I should compare my personal tax returns with a church is absurd.” I agree. That’s the point. Assuming wrongdoing merely for not disclosing financial information when doing so is neither required nor practical is absurd.

    “[We] have no idea how responsible they are in spending those funds.” I see an organization that maintains its facilities, pays its bills, and administers a number of socially and spiritually valuable programs. That’s a pretty good indication to me that they are spending funds responsibly.

    “My opinion is…” Your opinion before was that there are apparently no laws governing for-profit businesses. Your opinion is not very valuable.

    “Secret Combination”. I will refer you again to Inigo Montoya.

  • Then why should I trust you on the internet?

    I am not really impressed with your failure to live up to your covenants, but you have your free agency. Yours appears to be a classic case of someone who can leave the Church (for vaguely stated reasons) but can’t leave it alone.

    Have you examined the Church’s open books in the UK or is your interest here merely a debating point that is off-topic and a threadjack?

    Did you actually read the links to FairMormon and consider the logic of their arguments? To dismiss the reasoned replies out of hand seems shallow and hostile and inconsistent with a spirt of inquiry.

    I actually want to thank you for causing me to find those links and the logical points they make.

  • Lots of opinions from you and ad hominem attacks. I guess you are only opposed when they are directed at you.

  • No, I’m explaining the logic. Ultimately, the level of financial transparency you want from a church is a matter of opinion, but that doesn’t explain or excuse the gaping holes in your logic and factual inaccuracies you’ve used to make your argument.

    The closest I got to an ad hominem is identifying your comments here as an obsession, which, admittedly, probably does not move the conversation forward, but I think it shows restraint given that you called me “not the brightest” (which, by the way, didn’t stop me from responding to whatever substance I could find in your comment).

  • I will withdraw the “not the brightest” comment. The only part on your side of the argument that I find interesting is your contention that these for profit subsidiaries of nonprofits are limited in how they spend profits. I read your link and did not see where they are limited except in some cases where they are looking to avoid pay taxes. If the for profit is willing to pay taxes, they seem to be able to spend their monies anyway they please. Can you show any evidence otherwise?

  • I think you lost your way from the original problem: does the Church act more like a multinational for profit corporation or a nonprofit Church that is trying to relieve suffering of humanity and bring people to Christ? The reports from the UK look a lot like a well governed, responsible company. They show outside giving, as a percentage of revenues, to be more like Wal-Mart than most churches.
    Mormons are so blinded by what they see as their own inherent goodness and righteousness that they cannot fathom that what there are doing does not look to outsiders like what a Church should be doing. I have never said the Church mishandles any money or is deceitful. What I have said is they are as opaque as they are legally allowed to be. You brought up that “giving back” to the community is improving a community through for-profit development interests rather that tending to the sick, feeding the hungry or clothing the naked. And then you showed how when they were forced to reveal their finances they are not generous to non-Mormons, but adept at making more money.

    Can you see why, despite the actual belief in Christ as their savior, outsiders don’t consider Mormons to be Christian?

    BTW, I am glad to see the passive aggressive judgment is still a part of Mormon culture.

  • Snarl, snarl, #MormonTeethGnashing

    “spiteful Schadenfreude” Congratulations on learning a new word. Hahaha, damn right there’s some schadenfreude. Typically I reserve it for the Mormon church and Ohio State. Nevertheless, an interesting juxtaposition between ex-mo and member.

    I noticed you had nothing to say about the sun shining on an ex-mormon, Jacinda Arden. Must upset your world view when a person leaves the church and succeeds. I’l be she’s glad she didn’t “stay in the boat”. Newsflash: those stories about Sherem and Nehor in the Book of Mormon that try to teach that only woe, misery, and death, come to those who leave the church? Psss, they’re made up.

  • You exalt originality as if you have it. That’s your first error. Second, the premise of your allegation is that originality is required before an argument has merit. If that were the case, why do you listen to general conference talks, sacrament talks, and, well, basically anything that is said by members ever? Because none of it is orginal. Hint: that’s why church is so boring.

    We’re back to the benefits of literacy. I can read and ponder many points of view. Those I find convincing I will adopt. If you were honest, you’d admit the vast majority of your writing contains no original thought. By definition, you defend Mormon history, doctrines, policies, actions, all things others have said or written. Right? You and some of your fellow-apologists just don’t seem very self-aware.

    Also, I have this life philosophy that most situations can be handled by movie dialogue. It’s a running joke my family and I have. I like quoting movies. Often, they are a common frame of reference and readily convey a point to the familiar reader.

    And the reason you mostly revert to name calling, insults, sarcasm, is because you don’t have substantive responses. You never refuted my assertion that tithing as conducted by the Mormon church amounts to little more than spiritual extortion. I fully expect you to come back with some deflection like casting pearls before swine, or challenging my knowledge, or some other form of ad-hominem. Whatever.

    But when ignorance is promoted above knowledge (see the scriptures on faith), when people purposefully refuse to read factual information, when they will not learn because to do so might damage their faith, they are indeed living in their own form of matrix.

  • I guess part of the problem is that I don’t know what type of problematic-but-legally-permissible action you are concerned about. Owners and managers of a for-profit business owe a number of legal duties to other owners and the public. There are a ton of laws that protect the public’s interests (employment and wage laws, fraud laws, etc.), but I don’t think that’s the issue you’re worried about. You seem to be worried about how assets of the non-profit are spent. A business entity can do only three things with profit: distribute it to the owners, hold onto it as a reserve, or invest it back into the business. In the case of a subsidiary of a nonprofit, distribution to the owners becomes revenue of the nonprofit, and thus comes with all of the strings that are otherwise attached to nonprofit money [1]. With respect to the other two options, the managers and owners have certain legal duties to all owners [2]. I don’t know what kinds of misdeeds you have in mind, but any that I can think of would be a violation of the duty of loyalty or duty of care. In the case of the Church, the Church’s for-profit subsidiaries owe these duties to the Church, and the Church, in turn, owes a duty to its “owners”, which are the public and, in a sort of a metaphysical sense, it’s charter purpose [See 3, 4 (corporation sole may be formed “for the benefit of religion, for works of charity and for public worship”)]. As the sole owner of a for-profit, the nonprofit may not allow the for-profit subsidiary to operate in a way that acts as an end-run around nonprofit requirements [5].

    [1] http://www.nonprofitlawblog.com/nonprofit-law-101-for-journalists/
    [2] https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/fiduciary-responsibility-corporations.html
    [3] https://cullinanelaw.com/nonprofit-law-basics-who-owns-a-nonprofit/
    [4] https://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title16/Chapter7/C16-7_1800010118000101.pdf
    [5] http://leafferlaw.com/resources/accomplishing-mission-through-for-profitnonprofit-combinations/
    http://www.nonprofitlawblog.com/private-benefit-in-tandem-structures/

  • Your mind-reading is defective.

    “Hahaha, damn right there’s some schadenfreude.”

    How sad. You should try to get some enjoyment out of something other than the misfortunes of those against whom you are bigoted.

    “Typically I reserve it for the Mormon church[sic] and Ohio State.”

    Marama Fox isn’t the “Mormon church.”

    “I noticed you had nothing to say about the sun shining on an ex-mormon [sic], Jacinda Arden. [sic] Must upset your world view when a person leaves the church and succeeds.”

    You mean like in Matthew 5:45?

    Of course it doesn’t. Why should it?

    I know all about Jacinda Ardern (note the spelling.) I was at high school with her father and uncle.

    You, on the other hand, know nothing at all about my “world view,” which you merely imagine, based upon a two-dimensional caricature of the “Mormons” you despise.

    I wish Ms Ardern well. My biggest worry about her isn’t that she’s an ex “Mormon,” but that she’s a socialist with little experience of the real world, and so far has industrial relations in this country set on a path back to the 1970’s. I hope she gets some better advice than that before we all learn the hard way – again – that that’s a dumb idea.

    Marama Fox, OTOH, was someone I didn’t even know was a member, until you brought it up. How desperately obsessed you must be, to obsessively seek out the misdeeds of “Mormons” in far-off countries, so that you can have something to gloat about!

  • No, the point is that your crowd invariably like to describe themselves as “independent thinkers.” There’s a lot more to thinking than mere sorting and shuffling.

    “You never refuted my assertion that tithing as conducted by the Mormon church amounts to little more than spiritual extortion.”

    Here’s an unoriginal thought for you: “What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence.” – Christopher Hitchens.

    No, it’s not “spiritual extortion.” There you are. It’s refuted.

    I have pointed out that there are many people who receive Temple Recommends having never paid any tithing at all. In times past, they were in the majority; in some places, they still are. How does that fit your “spiritual extortion” narrative?

    When I was young, I joined the Scouts. Every week, I had to bring along some money, called “subs,” short for subscriptions. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to participate. Was that some sort of “extortion” too?

    Or are you going to tie yourself in knots trying to argue that it’s somehow different? If you are, I know some good ones.

  • “How desperately obsessed you must be, to obsessively seek out the misdeeds of “Mormons” in far-off countries, so that you can have something to gloat about!”

    Nope, not obsessed. Was a recent post in r/exmormon. I thought hmm, looks interesting. I read it. It was handed to me on a silver platter. It came back to me as I was reading comments from my friend, Kiwi. The gloating was temporary, just for you. I defend drunk drivers, in part, for a living. I have nothing against them. Consequences can be severe. I wish her the best. I only like the justaposition because it refutes directly the lessons of unbelief in the Book of Mormon. You know, the keystone of your religion?

    I guess my two-dimensional view of you comes from your comments. Anybody who reads my comments actually knows a lot about me.

    But, really, all of this is a deflection on your part. You’re real problem is you have to defend the indefensible. I’d be angry all the time, too, when my best answers couldn’t keep up. Eyes on the prize.

  • You: “It’s not rational thought because your spite is so obviously on display.”

    Illogic manifested.

    The tone of an argument has no bearing on whether it is a rational argument. If emotion were the indicator of logic, pretty much every comment of yours could be dismissed.

    Finally, you are the last person who should be protesting another’s spiteful comments. Nobody likes a projector, Kiwi. (a Caddyshack reference, for anybody who cares.)

  • “I only like the justaposition because it refutes directly the lessons of unbelief in the Book of Mormon. You know, the keystone of your religion?”

    No. It does not.

    It “refutes” only your own cartoonish caricature thereof. The two things are not the same.

    “But, really, all of this is a deflection on your part.”

    Why do you keep saying that, when you know it isn’t true?

    This seems to be a pattern: you assert, I respond to your assertion, and you accuse me of “deflection.” It’s growing old, Danny.

    “You’re real problem is you have to defend the indefensible. I’d be angry all the time, too, when my best answers couldn’t keep up.”

    You keep repeating this mantra. Are you trying to play mind games with me? Or are you just trying to reassure yourself?

    The second option might have a chance of success.

    Now it happens that I’m about to go off the air for a while. I hope you have a happy Christmas, with many sources of pleasure that don’t include the misfortunes of others.

  • You: When I was young, I joined the Scouts. Every week, I had to bring along some money, called “subs,” short for subscriptions. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be able to participate. Was that some sort of “extortion” too?”

    You: “Or are you going to tie yourself in knots trying to argue that it’s somehow different? If you are, I know some good ones.”

    It’s good to see you realized your comparison is bad and anticipated my distinguishing the two. The thing is, I don’t have to “tie” myself in knots, because the distinction is so readily apparent. And that is, the Boy Scouts don’t hinge your eternal welfare on paying Boy Scout dues. See? That was easy.

    And we probably should get something straight. Embedded in your faith are some assertions, such as:
    1. Joseph Smith had a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ. They spoke to him.
    2. An angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith, instructed him over a period of years, and finally allowed Smith to possess golden plates, the sword of Laban, the Urim and Thummim, and (Labans?) breastplate.
    3. The Americas somewhere were populated from about BC600 to about 425AD by Israelite immigrants who developed a civilization on par with Rome.
    4. Jesus in his resurrected body visited these displaced Israelites.

    The list is much longer. THESE are the kind of assertions for which Hitchens is so dismissive. Can you prove any of the above assertions are true? I would think #3 would be easy.

  • Based on my research and everything you have posted, I see nothing that prohibits profit subsidiaries of nonprofits on how they can legally spend their profits. Once they have paid taxes, they can pay bonuses, invest in the stock market, start a new business, and so on. I thought you said they were limited in how they could spend money?

  • Mike, did you read my response? They are limited in that they can’t provide a private benefit and by the duty of loyalty and care to the owners. What research have you done? Please post it. It looks like you are simply ignoring everything I have said.

    Bonuses may only be paid to employees of the business, not ecclesiastical leaders [1], which must be limited to a reasonable amount.

    What is improper about investing in the stock market or starting another business? Any new business would be subject to the same regulations.

    [1] General Authorities no longer serve on the board of church businesses and are not employees of the businesses. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1996/04/news-of-the-church/general-authorities-to-leave-business-boards?lang=eng

  • Where does this say that a for-profit subsidiary of a non-profit can do whatever it wants? What part of this contradicts anything that I have said?

  • You have not really said anything about how the church operates it’s for profit businesses. You posted some generic sites that tells us what we already knew. If you have some insider info on how the church operates its businesses, I would love to see it. I do know they are a huge business with money and investments all over the place. One example would be at least 32 billion in the stock market. I am sure that really helps bring people to Jesus. I also know they are super secret about this stuff. Just try and get some info and see how far you get. The door will be slammed in your face and yet they were a little better with transparency through the 1950s. Then the corporate mentality took over.

  • You’re changing the subject (again). Your statements have been about how the Church is allowed to run its businesses. I won’t move on to another subject until you either provide some evidence backing up your claim that after paying taxes, there are no restrictions on how that money may be used. You haven’t even really attempted to back up that claim, and the closest you’ve come was a link to an article that doesn’t contain anything relevant.

    I will note that the Church’s for-profit entities have little bearing on how much the Church may hold in reserves. Harvard and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are nonprofit entities, and they have endowments of $39 billion [1] and $50 billion [2] respectively.

    [1] https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/081616/top-5-largest-university-endowments.asp

    [2] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_%26_Melinda_Gates_Foundation

  • You have a double standard going on here.You give me this generic links that settle nothing and then say I have to provide evidence. You do not practice tax law do you? I already told you I did not find your examples and comments compelling. If you have some SPECIFIC information on how the church operates its for profit companies then I would be interested in continuing the conversation. It is clear you do not.
    I did give you a challenge though. I set you apart with power to investigate and see if you can get specific info on the church. I also gave you a warning the church would shut you down in a heart beat because they are not transparent.They are a secret combo.

  • No Mike, I don’t have a double standard. When I say that the directors of a for-profit business have a duty of loyalty and care to the owners, and that nonprofit entities cannot use a for-profit subsidiary as an end run around rules against private benefit and inurement, I provide links to articles that actually say those things. You have simply stated your conclusion, and the one time you provided a link, there was nothing in the article that supported the proposition for which you were citing it.

    Again, you have changed the subject from what the Church is legally permitted to do to what the Church actually does with its for-profit subsidiaries. I’m not moving on to the latter until we’ve resolved the former.

    And your challenge is meaningless. I have acknowledged that the Church does not share specific financial information publicly. That’s not the issue here.

  • While we don’t have figures for actual attendance publicly available, the number of wards and stakes is a good proxy. More wards means more attending.

  • “Contracting” as used here, is used in the governmental sense, such as when referring to “shrinking budgets” really means “not increasing as fast as they did.”

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