No Poor Among “Them”

Is the church building Zion?

Holland

General Conference, October 2014

The purpose for establishing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was to build the Kingdom of God on Earth and establish latter day Zion.  Faithful members, some of whom cannot always afford it, consecrate tithes and offerings to support this end.  The church is only the “steward” of these sacred funds intended to build Zion, not the “owner” entitled to make use of the funding for other projects or purposes.

To establish Zion we must become of one heart and one mind, dwell in righteousness, and have no poor among us. (Moses 7:18)

But many active and faithful tithing paying members have concerns about what the church has been and is doing with their tithing.  More importantly many are wondering if the church’s expenditures are getting the world any closer to establishing Zion.

For many years the LDS Church has segmented revenues from members into two main categories: tithes and fast offerings.  Tithing today is used to build temples, churches, and other buildings, and in short pays for all the expenses of the church.

Fast offerings today are used to care for the church’s poor and to help humanitarian efforts around the world.  As I understand it, tithing is NOT used to care for the poor inside or out of the church.  I do not know when this practice began and I’m open to any thoughts any of you may have on the subject.

The first mention of tithing in scripture goes back to the Book of Genesis:

And this Melchizedek, having thus established righteousness, was called the king of heaven by his people, or, in other words, the King of peace.  And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God; Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor.  (JST Gen 14:36-39)

It would seem that in this instance Melchizedek used tithes exclusively for the poor.  There is no mention of fast offerings or of any segmentation of funds.  In a cursory search of the scriptures, I find no precedent justifying NOT using tithing for the poor.  I also find no precedent that fast offerings should replace tithing to care for the poor.

In attempting to create Zion, Melchizedek became personally connected with Heaven.  He had become a King of Peace (a type and a shadow of Christ) because he had entered into that Order of the Priesthood discussed in Alma 13.  He was now teaching his people how to repent so they too could connect to Heaven and become Fathers of Righteousness.

Melchizedek’s purpose, and the purpose of whatever organization he may have established, was solely to build Zion.  He was the high priest and the keeper of the storehouse of God, appointed by God himself to receive tithes FOR THE POOR, in order that Zion might be built.  His people thus lived in righteousness, became of one heart and one mind and poverty was eradicated among them.  This is the true pattern to establish Zion.  Is this the pattern the church follows today?

It is estimated the church averages between 5 and 10 billion dollars per year in tithing and “other” revenues.  We can safely assume its fast offering income represents a small fraction of this larger number. The actual number is withheld from the members (and the public).

The church often boasts it has contributed $1.4B to humanitarian efforts since 1985.  This is a large amount of money.  During that same period of time, however, the church has collected an estimated $150B (or more) in total revenues.  In other words, the church has only given about 1% of its total revenues to humanitarian efforts in the last 30 years.  As a side note, I find it interesting that while the church no longer publishes any of its financial information, it does disclose how much it gives to charity.  I find it ironic since the scriptures teach we should not to boast of such things.

But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.  And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. (Matthew 6:3-5)

Some wonder why the church is so focused on buildings, real estate development, farm ownership, and marketing when its true goal should be to build a Zion people?  Are meetinghouses and Temples and TV ads truly that important in this effort?  Could you imagine what could be done if the church used its tremendous tithing fund (instead of just the fast offering fund) to assist the poor in the church and around the world?  What effect might this have in bringing souls unto Christ and to the establishment of Zion?

city creek

Some have also had concerns over worldly advertising campaigns that seem to celebrate immoral and luxurious lifestyles.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church, interestingly, has about 19 million members worldwide.  It builds smaller meetinghouses and focuses its efforts and resources on building thousands of schools and hospitals for the poor.  The Adventists also have one million new members join them annually, compared to an estimated 300,000 total new members each year for the LDS Church.

The Adventist model is much more service focused.  Receiving roughly only $3B in total revenues, the Adventists have built and successfully run more than 7,800 non-profit schools and hundreds of hospitals around the world.  Apparently, focusing on schools, education, and health, especially in third world countries, is much more effective in gaining converts than expensive marketing efforts and other business endeavors.

The church, on the other hand, will spend as much as $3M on a single billboard this year in Times Square.  I’m not sure how many billboards the church leases, but I think it’s quite a few.

Imamormon_TimesSquare

Are expensive ads in New York Times Square helping build Zion?

How much does it cost to start a small school in a third world country?  About $10,000. 

The church could build 300 schools for the cost of one NY Times Square billboard.

I found it interesting that in Elder Holland’s talk this past October Conference he stated he does “not know how it feels to be poor.”  I’m not sure about you, but I think many members do know how it feels.  You don’t have to live in Africa to be broke, to suffer from hunger, to be $250 away from bankruptcy, to lose your home, or to have your only car break down.  Now I know that many will argue the fact Elder Holland does not know what it’s like to be poor is proof that the church’s system of consecration is working— for some; who happen to have spent their entire adult life employed by the LDS Church.

Elder Holland was a seminary and institute teacher and became the president of BYU.  The church likely paid for his Yale degrees.  As a side note, the church’s Perpetual Education Fund is limited to what it will pay per applicant.  In most of the world, an individual is eligible to receive about $1,400 in total funds.  Even in places like Africa, this amount is often not sufficient to get someone the education they need to rise out of poverty.  Additionally the PEF recipient, even before getting a job, must pay back the funds borrowed with interest.

This is apparently not the case with church employees.  A PhD student today at Yale can expect to pay about $65,000 per year.  A PhD can take as long as 5 years.  The church’s investment in Elder Holland would pay off however.  During his time as BYU President he became known as a prolific fundraiser, having raised over 100 million dollars for the University.

But, many worthy members of the church in the U.S. and all around the world do know what it’s like to be poor.  It’s estimated that over 80,000 LDS children suffer from malnutrition or are starving and 900 of those children will die this year from starvation.  That’s equivalent to three entire wards in the church!  The numbers are even more staggering when you begin to calculate the children and grandchildren who are never born because of the unnecessary premature deaths of these neglected LDS kids.  Why does this have to be, while we have those among us who have so much?  Why does the church continue to spend billions of dollars on buildings and condos that sit empty, while many of its own children are homeless, orphaned, and dying of starvation?  Is this what the great high priest and keeper of God’s storehouse would do?

Vatican

Do we have any chapels or temples we could use to help the poor?

I applaud Pope Francis who, going against the tide of popularity, “plans to build showers for the homeless under the sweeping white colonnade of St. Peter’s Square.”  Think of all the wasted showers in our meetinghouses with baptismal fonts that go unused for months and years at a time.  Of course inviting homeless people to shower or to get food in LDS churches would attract riff-raff and so we continue to follow the example of Temple Square that we “should not give to panhandlers” but allow other organizations that the church supports to help these people.

I remember a bishop and stake president training where presiding bishop David Burton bragged, “The church will build more square footage this year than Walmart!”  I found this odd, after all, how many baptisms will Walmart have this year?  How many people will come unto Christ because of Walmart this year?  Again, why is the church so focused on real estate and business comparisons when the goal is to build Zion?  Have we lost our vision?

walmart

Some struggle with the church’s business-like approach

Bishops in the church are very limited, practically speaking, in what they can give to the needy.  I won’t bore you with details of what most of you already likely know.  But, I will say I am surprised the church now teaches that a needy member should exhaust family and government assistance before coming to the church for help.  It used to be that government was the last resort.

We are all too familiar with needy people who leave the bishop’s office dejected because they were turned down for help.  I remember seeing a woman crying in the back of the chapel one Sunday before Sacrament meeting.  I asked her what was wrong.   She told me how humiliated she was because she had just asked the bishop for help with food.  When the bishop found out her troubled 20-year-old daughter lived with her (who had drug problems), he told this hungry elderly woman this was a good opportunity for her daughter to “step up.”  This woman was not highly educated.  She was a convert of 5 years or less in the church.  She had lived a hard life, was nearly crippled in her advanced age and despite her meager income, always paid her tithing.  In her own words, she had never asked “this bishop” or the church for anything.  “This bishop” was a successful doctor from Salt Lake City.

Upon hearing the story, I immediately left the meeting and went to the store and bought all the groceries I could afford and took them to this woman’s completely empty fridge.  I don’t say this to brag.  I say this only to suggest every normal human with a heart would do the same thing.  Yet, the church, which receives up to $10B each year, which could literally eradicate poverty among its own members, chooses often to not even provide the basic needs of an impoverished soul.

And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish.  Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.  For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? (Mosiah 4:16-19)

We were also trained as bishops to never give assistance without making that member do some sort of service in return.  I always ignored this counsel.  I understand we should teach principles of self-reliance and that being idle is not good.  But, I found in my experience that most people were already working hard or were ill in some mental or physical way and asking them to “work for their food” seemed to bring more shame than benefit.

In April of 2011, Bishop Burton speaking of the establishment of the church’s welfare program said, “The commitment of church leaders to relieve human suffering was as certain as it was irrevocable.  President Grant wanted ‘a system that would… reach out and take care of the people no matter what the cost.’  He said he would even go so far as to ‘close seminaries, shut down missionary work for a period of time, or even close temples, but they would not let the people go hungry.”

Perhaps the church would do well today to follow President Grant’s counsel still.

I have met local stake presidents who work for the church in the third world.  They are the lucky ones.  Yet, the church does not believe in paying someone more than the local equivalent wage.  They have a term for this I cannot recall at the moment.  One stake president earned $900/month running the church’s unemployment center.  Even though he was paid quite a bit more than the average poor laborer in his country, his salary from the church only allowed his small young family to live in a one-room shack that most of us wouldn’t want to even store an old car in.  They had no car of their own.  No running water in their house.  Mold everywhere due to the climate.  No kitchen, no stove.  No shower.  They shared a hole in the ground for a toilet with other families in the neighborhood.

Now I know some of you reading may think my comments do not reflect all the good the church is doing around the world.  And that the church does more than most churches to relieve human suffering.  In part, I agree.  The church does a tremendous amount to help devastated people around the world.  I also recognize that not everything is accounted for in the $1.4B donated over the last 30 years. In addition, LDS volunteers give countless hours, sewing quilts, sending care packages, serving missions, etc.

But, our church has been charged to build Zion.  Are the leaders of the church doing their part?  Imagine what the church could do for the poor with even half the tithing money we generate each year.  Do we really need so many buildings?  Why not rent a schoolhouse or meet in homes?  Some of the homes in my neighborhood are empty and even bigger than our local meetinghouse.  Some of those homes belong to families on missions or serving as General Authorities.  Do our church buildings really increase our membership that much?  Or are we robbing the poor because of our fine sanctuaries? (2 Nephi 28:13)

I’ll never forget the sister who came into the bishop’s office while I was serving in that position.  Her furnace had broken down and was beyond repair.  She was recently divorced and was working as hard as she could.  Her husband, a “respected man in the stake” had cheated on her for the second time.  Her daughter just had a baby out of wedlock.  She was a faithful member of the church, but was embarrassed to come to ask for help.  As I sat there and listened to her story, my mind could not help but recall the advice from previous welfare training:  “Make sure she is paying her tithing.  Make sure she has gone to her family first.  Has she applied for state assistance?  Is she keeping the Word of Wisdom?  Will she be willing to clean the church each week or work in the storehouse?  Or provide service to someone else in the ward?  Will she be willing to take a Dave Ramsey course?  (I wish I was joking about this one.)”

I told this sister to not worry about the furnace and to have the contractor who gave her the bid she was most comfortable with to give me a call.  She broke down to tears.  “But, it may cost $3,000 to replace,” she said while now sobbing.  “That’s okay.”  I responded.  “The church has the money.”  I knew I was breaking the rules and would have to make two payments to avoid the necessary stake approval, but it felt so right.

Again, I do not provide this example to pat my anonymous self on the back.  I respectfully petition the church to reconsider how it spends the tithes of the church.  As a member who pays tithing, I also request to see an accounting of how our money is being spent.  The only reason to not share such things is to avoid scrutiny and criticism, which is also a good thing when it helps correct abuses. The church is perfectly willing to dispense criticism of members believed to be “apostate” or erring morally, doctrinally, or in their families. Why is there no balance through accepting good-faith, believing, donating and supporting members’ concerns. No one is going to gratuitously attack–  the anti-Mormons will always have complaints.  But why should the institution fear its faithful members?  Why hide from them?

 

189 thoughts on “No Poor Among “Them”

  1. Jon

    I am grateful for your comments. Unfortunately when I was bishop more often than not I followed the training instead of the promptings of the spirit which has left me with everlasting regret. I know now that the poor are not to be extorted and I hope that through personal actions I may try to relieve some suffering among people I did’t help as a bishop.

    Jon

  2. Roy Moore

    Dear good brother,

    Thank you for your courage in speaking the truth. God bless you as you stay the course and inform the truth seekers.

    Your brother in Christ.

    Roy Moore

  3. Andy K.

    Your post was well-timed for me. I’ve been pondering and praying about these very issues for the last year. I have been a full-gross-tithe-payer for all of my more than forty years. I customarily send my tithing at the end of each year as a bank wire to church headquarters. However, this year, I’ve been deeply troubled as to how to act. Many months ago, when I read that verse from the JST Genesis that you quote, my eyes were opened, and I was deeply convinced that tithing is primarily about the poor. Only when the poor have been well-taken care of should we look to other priorities.

    My question to the Lord was, how should I act on that knowledge? I am not in a position of authority or influence. And how can just one person make any difference? Then, one evening in September, as I was washing the dishes, my answer filled my mind and heart, and I knew just what to do. I waited several months to make certain that my answer was sure, for the sake of my wife and family, given the possible consequences.

    Just two days ago, I signed up for tithing settlement. Next Sunday, I’ll hand over my check to the bishop. But instead of checking the “tithing” box on the donation slip, I’ll check “fast offering”. My entire tithing donation for this year will therefore go to the poor and needy. I will still formally declare myself as a full-tithe payer, as I truly believe I am and will still be before the Lord.

    I will be completely open with the bishop about what I’m doing, and why. The bishop (and possibly stake president) will then need to decide whether to take away my temple recommend as a result. Will I be deemed unworthy to attend the temple if I prioritize assisting the poor and needy over building, maintaining, and proselyting? Can I continue to hold my calling which requires a current temple recommend? It will be an uncomfortable decision no matter which way it goes. Do you judge worthiness by the church handbook or by Matthew 25:40?

    My sad observation: if I pay $0 to the tithing fund, I’m not worthy to enter the temple. But if I pay $0 to the fast offering fund, I’m good to go.

    I need to do what little I can do to change the way things are.

  4. Rob

    Well written! You’ve rehashed a lot of the same material that’s been on my mind of late.

    You said: “The church does a tremendous amount to help devastated people around the world. I also recognize that not everything is accounted for in the $1.4B donated over the last 30 years. In addition, LDS volunteers give countless hours, sewing quilts, sending care packages, serving missions, etc.”

    Actually, everything WAS accounted for in that figure. Before the church pulled it down, the page that had that figure stated that the number included donated time and materials by members. Meaning actual money spent by the church over that 30 year period was very much smaller than $1.4B.

    There is a quote by president Monson out there that states that the church’s welfare program (including infrastructure like bishops storehouses) is 100% funded by fast offerings. This is proof that no tithing is spent on the poor in the church. Not a penny. I am not aware of when this change came about. The ironic thing is that tithing is a commandment, while fast sunday is a policy. It is, in fact, a policy implemented by Joseph prior to when the commandment on tithing was received. It was discontinued when tithing started. Brigham re-started it after Joseph’s death, then it again stopped. It was restarted years later in Utah. Even then, most of the care of the poor came from in-kind agricultural donations, not fast offerings (which were also in-kind).

    One other note of interest is that ANY church pub on welfare states emphatically that the reason for it is to increase spirituality and self-reliance (for instance, both handbooks and the official welfare manual). You won’t find a SINGLE mention of to alleviate suffering. Elder Oaks said we should not help the poor because others will do it, and we should focus on things that require priesthood keys since no one else can do those things. I’ll leave that as it is, but it is worth pondering and expanding upon.

  5. Rodolfo

    Please note the new qualification written on current tithing slips that allow the church to solely decide where your funds can be best used. There is no longer a guarantee that fast offerings are reserved for the poor and needy. If you wish to be sure you are truly helping, choose another organization since by doing so you forfeit your TR in any case.

  6. Julie

    Since they don’t have to account to you what in the world makes you think they will direct it differently?

  7. Julie

    Why do caring, intelligent men stay faithful to a church, which fails to abide by its own Scriptures? The further light and knowledge is out there as promised in Ether 4.

  8. AV

    Andy, I commend you for your courage to do what’s right, no matter the consequences. You seem to be waking up to the wrongs around you and have a sincere desire to do what Christ taught over what men teach.

    Better yet, as I’m sure you will come to know in time, would be to give your tithing directly to the fatherless & poor around you in your family & friends (as Christ said to do), then you will reap greater blessings and know the joy of knowing your offerings went to the right place and to the right people, in the needed amounts, and they weren’t further burdened by accepting your help, as the church further burdens people by requiring them to work or give service before they will help them, which help is usually very limited & temporary anyway.

    I’m sure you personally know many single mothers, old & young, who are suffering and who have already far more then their share of burdens who have no extra time or energy to serve in the Church too, but who desperately need assistance, and not just a few bags of groceries or a one month utility payment, but continuous support so she can be home with her children and grandchildren where she is most needed. For a mother’s role is most important of all others, and if it can’t be done right, it will effect the Church and all society negatively. So it’s prudent and wise to support single mothers (the fatherless) so they don’t have to work and further neglect their children and grandchildren, who have suffered more then they should already in the loss of a father through divorce or death.

    I would also encourage you to stand up for the protection of women and children and not support the abuse and abandonment of women and children as the Church does. For it allows men to abandon and abuse their wives and children and pay meager if any support, while then supporting these men to go on to neglect his children and wife by committing adultery in another marriage.

    Those who cause or support the creation of ‘the fatherless’ will be just as accountable as those who ignore the suffering of the fatherless.

    Christ taught that all divorce and remarriage was adultery and that men must protect and provide for their wife and children no matter what. They cannot pass that burden onto family, church or society, who rarely takes care of his abandon wife & children anyway, but causes the wife to be far overburdened in doing his role as provider as well as her own role as mother, which usually must be severely neglected. No politician or prophet can lift this burden from a man in God’s eyes, though they may think they can and may allow men to get away with it.

  9. Janie

    I am sorry to say this, but your Stake President has the option of sending your entire Fast Offering donation to Church HQ, where they can legally use it in whatever way they choose. I would be VERY sure that your local leaders will keep your donation local, and use it to help the poor, before taking this course of action. The fine print is at the bottom of the tithing slip for a reason. It allows comingling of funds for whatever purpose Church HQ desires.

  10. Stephanie

    Thank you for this article. I have been pondering this subject for a while and have been unsure of the next step to take. As young students starting a new family, we pay our full tithes and watch this precious money disappear into the abyss. I’ve often thought that it would feel more valuable to us to take that money and directly use it to help the needy in our local community. Isn’t the best part of tithing and service the opportunity to learn from it and see the fruits of your labor? To feel the spirit more in your life? To see the happiness and relief of others, while gaining gratitude for the blessings in your life? I yearn for this feeling, yet don’t receive anything when sending the tithing check twice a month. It feels just like another bill.
    Why should temple recommends be revoked if we do not pay our ‘full tithing’ as the church counts it? I believe that there are many members feeling the spirit prompt them to serve and love as it should be. Thank you for standing up and questioning- for allowing the opportunity for the spirit to teach you and others truth!

  11. Bishop Anon Post author

    Great thoughts Stephanie. I think I will post on this at some point although I believe others may already have. The church has made a false argument on paying between gross or net tithing and pretends to take the high ground in letting people decide how they will pay. But, tithing on income versus tithing on surplus is the real question. I think the scriptures will show that paying on our surplus is more correct. It’s certainly what the church advises its mission presidents.

  12. Michael

    I am sorry I lost faith in this article (pun intended) when the author compares the LDS church to 7th Day Adventists. They made it sound like if the church spent the money in different areas it would increase membership. That sounds a little too close to buying people’s conversion to me. Also the author goes after the church for not publishing their financials like any normal business would. Then it accuses them of being too business like. So which is it? Lastly, the post here neglects an interesting story in the New Testament. In John 12, Judas complains to Jesus about not selling costly ointment and helping the poor. Jesus rebuked him. Yeah the church could be more open about their financials and try to help out the poor a little more like some churches are trying to do, but we must remember the church is guided by God. He has ordained prophets to lead us. Sorry if I compared the author to Judas, I am not trying to offend just point out similarities.

  13. Andy K.

    Yes, I know there is no longer a guarantee. But imagine for a moment what would happen if leaders began to knowingly use fast offering funds for purposes other than caring for the poor and needy. There *would* be some leaders who would be severely pricked in their conscience at seeing such blatant misuse of consecrated funds. It is one thing to accept and justify the long-standing status quo, where tithing is not used to help the poor and needy. It is an entirely different thing to accept the plundering of a fund specifically designated for the poor and needy according to our long-standing law and tradition. I believe that such behavior would cause the awakening of many souls. And if not, then those who ignore or fight the pricking will be judged by the same law they profess to follow. God help them if they choose that path.

  14. dadsprimalscream

    Asking for assistance from the LDS church was the most humiliating experience in my life. It is truly a religion with the soul of a corporation. Of course everyone was extremely NICE. They just weren’t compassionate or helpful in the slightest. The bishops were much more concerned with procedure and policy than actually helping a soul in need.

    I’m not a member but my children are being raised in it by my ex-wife. I lost my job and was scrambling doing anything for money… driving a taxi, selling cable door to door, real estate, etc. At one point I just didn’t have any money for rent. I had already borrowed from everyone possible and had nowhere to go. I spoke to my landlord and had 2 weeks before I was evicted with nowhere to go.

    SO, in desperation I went to the bishop of the ward my kids attend imagining that he’d care if some kids in his ward had a father who wasn’t homeless. He was very polite but said that since I don’t live in his ward boundaries he couldn’t help. “Church Policy” and all that. So he contact the bishop over the area where I lived. That bishop sent the Elder’s quorum presidency to visit mentioning nothing about my need. So, I called them up later when my kids weren’t around and explained my plight. This guy was indeed very nice and promised to pass the info along. Three phone calls later and 3 more promises that the bishop would call me and NOTHING (except of course invitations to attend church).

    I’m sure they saw me as a mooch. But having to call and beg like I did was SO humiliating. I’ll never step foot in an LDS church again. As far as they know I’m living in a van down by the river. I was never contacted again. Two days before my eviction, some public assistance miraculously materialized and I was able to stay. But they don’t know that! All they have is several phone calls from a desperate man that were repeatedly ignored and brushed off.

    An outright rejection would have been more compassionate than their “niceness” and inaction.

    Weeks later I found a job better than the one I had before and I see a light at the end of the tunnel, but the taste of that humiliation from the LDS church will remain with me for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t give them a dime to help the poor because I don’t believe that they do. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

  15. Andy K.

    My action is not only about directing the money to the poor and needy. It is also about making a statement about what’s wrong with our current system. The bishop, stake president, and perhaps even those further up the chain will have to grapple with some of the same questions I have as they decide on the appropriate response. What is the proper use of tithing? By what standard do we judge worthiness? What would happen to the church if many people were to re-categorize their donations like this? I hope that my gesture will begin to change their minds, just as my own mind has been changed.

    I don’t think it’s an accident that this answer was meant for me in particular. Others may feel they should leave the church or re-direct their tithing outside the church. But I’ve been a member my whole life. I grew up in primary, went to mutual, served a mission, went to BYU, married in the temple, had 4 kids, and continuously held a temple recommend. I have been blessed tremendously through my association with the church and its members. And I’m directly descended from prominent leaders of the church who were responsible for instituting some of these same traditions and policies we now labor under. This is my family. These are my friends. There is much that is worth saving, and there is still time to save. I am not ready to abandon ship, even if I’m fully aware of its awful situation.

  16. rockwaterman1

    Michael, I think you misread the bishop’s point about the comparison with the 7th Day Adventists. The LDS Church is wasting an incredible amount of money for the purpose of attracting converts, yet in spite of those expenditures, conversion rates are declining like never before. Conversely, the 7th Day Adventists have been allocating their tithes in ways a church SHOULD be, and they’re conversion numbers are shooting way past ours.

    So the point is, if our goal is to attract people to our church, shouldn’t we start acting more LIKE a church, and not so much like a corporation trying to sell an image?

  17. rockwaterman1

    Ron Madson, for those who do not know, presented an excellent presentation at the recent Sunstone Symposium on the subject of Church financial accountability to the members. Ron, is there some place readers can go to hear that presentation or read the transcript?

  18. rockwaterman1

    Bishop, again you’ve hit one out of the park. I’m sharing this piece on Facebook, and would hope others will do the same. It’s important that more members understand the serious situation we are in right now by ignoring God’s commandment in how our tithes are used. Your insider information is very much needed.

  19. Rixa

    I pay tithing from my own salary to various charities that do good and that are carefully vetted (i.e., all of my funds go directly to humanitarian aid and not to administrative costs). My husband so far balks at paying tithing in an unorthodox manner, so for the moment his salary is tithed the “regular” way. I simply answer “yes” to the TR question and don’t elaborate. Because giving to the poor IS tithing, pure and simple.

  20. J J

    I spent years of my life working as welfare worker. I for one like how the Church welfare program operates. I wouldn’t be against the Church using some more tithing funds to help the poor, but how we help the poor is a complicated subject.

    I do think that many bishops err on the side of being too stingy with helping the poor. But I’ve seen bishops that have been too generous. For example, I worked with a family where both parents had been unemployed for years. I discovered they owned a home only because the Church had been paying their mortgage for seven years. He kept saying he would get a job, but he only had a high-school diploma and few skills. She had a master’s degree, but refused to work outside of the home. Eventually, I got a hold of the bishop and explained that nothing was going to change until he cut off assistance. I also told him to tell the husband to learn how to change diapers and to tell the wife to get a job. That happened and the family was off State and Church assistance a year later.

    How strictly should bishops ask if someone has asked family members or the government for assistance first? I think they should ask, but not expect miracles. They shouldn’t be surprised that the government isn’t going to help. No bishop can be as stingy as a the government. Politicians don’t like to share their money. And family members? I think bishops should be careful with that. They need to ask what sort of employment family members have and be aware of family size and family distance. If someone needs help making rent, it’s not okay to tell them to hit up their unemployed parents for the cash. But some, mostly young people, need to have honest conversations with family members about their financial situation and not try to cover things up with the bishop’s help.

    There is a lot of complexity when working with the poor. Some people in poverty are very grateful for the help they get. Other people look at those giving them assistance like they are the Devil. I have a family member who lives in poverty and the family has stopped helping her because she spews so much vitriol towards people who help her. She is often on a crusade to take down anyone she perceives as having more than her.

    I approve of the Church paying a medium wage for the area. The social and political upheaval of the Church being the highest paying employer in a third world country could be devastating. Money represents survival and comfort, but it also represents control. The jealousy that community members would have towards Church members if the Church paid above the median wage is the kind of stuff that ignites civil wars and genocides. Most communities are not setup to handle a large influx of money or resources.

    Then there are issues of generation poverty. Education can help get people out of poverty. A lot of money goes into educating the poor. Some of this is helpful and some of it less helpful. The Church’s Perpetual Education Fund has been helpful, though it isn’t as well known as it should be. The wrong education in an community can be harmful. There is a supply and demand to education and an over supply of education in certain fields is not helpful economically.

    Frequent handouts often leads to generational poverty. When a child grows up seeing their parent constantly getting handouts from church, family members, and the government they tend to model that behavior. It really does happen. Often I could pull up a young persons case who was on assistance and construct a family tree of parents and grandparents who had lived their lives on assistance. Most people in the U.S. don’t interact with that kind of poverty, but it’s there. And trying to get people out of the “mentality of poverty” is really difficult.

    Poverty is a trial. It’s a trial that always been with humankind since Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden. Maybe even earlier than that. There are good people who live in poverty. There are bad people living in poverty. The same can be said about the wealthy. I can see how wealth is also a trial–at least on a spiritual level. The Church has to walk a difficult path in helping those in poverty carry their burden and in allowing the trial to refine those individuals as God intends.

    I don’t know if God and Christ intend for there to be no poverty. Obviously, God could eliminate poverty if He wanted to. I used to be kind of angry at God for letting poverty exist. I kind of think that He would eliminate poverty if we could all just get along.

    Maybe someday we’ll all live the law of consecration and there will be no poor among us. I don’t see the Church members as being unified enough, or free enough, to do this. There is a lot of relativity in our perceptions of who has more and who has less.

  21. gospelfullness

    The issue is secrecy. The church is not transparent about any of this. Even the Bishops and stake presidents don’t know what the funds are used for. This is because both fast offerings and tithes are now sent to the church in SLC, and no funds are administered in a local or direct way. So it is all sent to SLC, and local leaders fill out requests for local needs which are filled (if at all) by SLC. So any amount of church funds could be misdirected and no one outside the church office building would even know. When it is considered that this is billions of dollars every year, and that only a small handful of full-time employees in SLC even know where it is going is appalling. But most of us simply have a blind faith that whomever works in that building is probably following God and so to question their use of funds is to question God. Never mind that we do not even know who is in charge of these decisions, or even if they were called to their position or merely hired. Do they have any priesthood? how much to the general authorities even know about how the money is spent? Who are these people anyway? We don’t even know the names of the actual decision makers, only that they are “presided over” by men we see sitting on the high seats at conference.

  22. Bishop Anon Post author

    I think it’s a great petition. Thanks for sharing it here. I don’t think requesting transparency from our church claiming to be run by common consent is out of line or asking for too much. Thank you Ron! I plan to sign it.

  23. LDS Anarchist

    A local Christian church has a food bank for the hungry and needy each week. They got some trucks and made some agreements with a few of the local supermarkets, so that these supermarkets donate food that they can no longer sell because the sell date has past. They only get food from a mere handful of supermarkets, and I know (because I once worked for a supermarket) that A LOT of food is thrown out each and every day by these stores, simply because the sell date has past. So, although this church collects and distributes the food once a week, it can conceivably be done each and every day of the week.. This church has a sermon that they preach prior to having people get their food, which is not obligatory to attend, yet people do it anyway. They pattern their actions on Jesus preaching to and feeding the 5000.

    Now, our church has meetinghouses and parking lots sufficient to easily do the very same thing, much more often than just once a week (or we could just rent out a building, like this church did), and instead of just preaching a single sermon to the group, we could have the missionaries there actually teaching the gospel to people who were interested. This very simple plan would put the church on the map, so-to-speak, and in front of the population’s eyes, as a charitable, Christ-believing group, and our converts would expand significantly, without any need to continue to reduce the missionary ages. Lol.

    But alas!, it ain’t gonna happen, at least not from the top down. Such a program must come from the saints organizing themselves, without approval or direction of the leadership. And that is taboo in the church. Heck, I’ve been advocating that the saints pay all or at least part of their tithing in silver, specifically, in the Bartering Currency, but so far no one has come forth to do this and distribute the coins to the saints. We are still very much a “tell me what to do” type of people, looking to the leadership to direct all our affairs.

  24. Bishop Anon Post author

    Dadsprimalscream – thanks for sharing your very personal and sad story. I cannot blame you for never wanting to enter a Mormon church again. I will not seek to excuse those who treated you so poorly. Christ taught that we are to be judged by our fruits. Thank you for helping us see the reality you and others experience, especially from an outsiders perspective. If it helps one person be a better steward in helping someone needy down the road, then think of the good that may come from your comment. God bless you my friend, and all of us. And thanks again. (Hope you continue to comment:)

  25. Porter

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful post, bishop. I wish more in your position were willing to ask these hard questions. I recently read that the church is putting up big expensive billboards in Times Square (again) and that they actually purchased the front page of YouTube on the 17th of December for $400,000. There are hundreds of empty apartments the church built in City Creek Mall and homeless on the streets below. Meanwhile the church is building another large commercial building on the next block, above the new Broadway theatre on Main Street, and more commercial buildings in Philadelphia.

    This stuff just blows my mind. What kind of church is this?

    My parents recently served a mission in a third-world country. I am sad to report that in trying to get people qualified to go to the temple, they regularly told people that it was more important to pay their tithing than to FEED THEIR CHILDREN. I wonder what these poor parents with starving children would say if they discovered that the sacred funds they donated to the church, in good faith, would be used to buy the front page of YouTube, or to buy a billboard in Times Square, or to make an extravagant movie — about Mormons?

  26. Ben

    One thing I’d like to add is that in all our scriptures, the definition of tithing is a tenth of surplus.

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I find it interesting that the church’s definition of a tenth of “increase” tends to condemn the poor because they can’t afford it, but the scriptural definition of a tenth of “surplus” tends to condemn the rich because it’s can often be much more.

    The church just seems dead-set on hoarding more and more money, and making sure not to condemn the rich in any way while doing it.

  27. Jo

    I believe you are incorrect in stating that members are encouraged to exhaust government resources first. I don’t see anything in Handbook 1 stating to seek help from government sources before church: 5.2.3. “seek help from family members before seeking help from church” and 5.2.5 ” comply with any laws associated with receiving non church assistance especially while receiving church welfare assistance.” Meaning one would be on church assistance before non church assistance.
    I’m glad the Church is a smart business entity and invests it’s money well to grow in wealth.
    I formed a foundation to feed and educate LDS children in South America. I don’t have time to explain how difficult it was and why it failed. I’m sure if each of us got off the internet and went to the Church, we would get all the funds we would need to feed children if we were willing to go and live among the poor and serve those in need on a mission for the Church. Feeding starving children can not be accomplished without “boots on the ground” and the membership isn’t willing to put on those “boots”.

  28. Britt

    When my husband lost his job last year we were told to live off of our savings for as long as possible before going to the church. When we finally exhausted all of our personal resources and had to get food assistance, I was surprised that the RS President wouldn’t let me fill out our own sheet for food. Then after finishing the order she blacked out everything else out so that we couldn’t add anything else after she’d left and informed me that I couldn’t put in another order for another 2 weeks.

    My husband had to put in time at the Bishops Storehouse to “pay” for the food we were receiving instead of using that time to look for an actual job. He was finally approved to work at DI in a temp job but they wouldn’t pay him for nearly two months. We finally got desperate and went to our bishop because we were about to lose our house. He said he’d have to pray about it and get back to us. A few days later he called us in and said that he normally wouldn’t do it but he was going to pay the bill on the condition that we each put in an additional 20 hours per week in service to the church. At the end he added that he was only going to pay the bill because my husband was working for the church and that he’d already turned down financial help for other people in the ward.

    The next week for scouts, our Cub Master informed me that I needed to buy enough chips for our Blue and Gold Banquet for 3 wards and that I couldn’t turn in a receipt to the ward because there wasn’t enough money in the ward budget to cover it. They knew my husband didn’t have a job but they told me that it was part of my calling and that I needed to magnify it and I would be blessed for it. The next day the church came out with their plans for the *for profit* apartment buildings next to the new temple in Philadelphia. To say I was angry would be an understatement. My husband and I had been born and raised in the church and together had paid over $50,000 in tithing since the time we were 5. We’d never questioned and yet here we were not able to provide even basic necessities for our family and were being told that the only way we would be worthy for help is if we gave even more time….while they were taking the money I’d given them and building *for profit* malls, apartment buildings and unnecessary temples and church buildings.

  29. Adam T.

    If you read the scriptures carefully, we are commanded to pay 10% of our SURPLUS after all of our “needs” are met. I would argue that for a young couple just starting out, you have NO surplus!! Going into debt to Babylonian banks in order to finance your education and ensure you are able to provide for your family in the future is abhorrent to me, if you are also paying 10% of your net to the Church (TM). In essence you could look at it as enslaving yourself to Babylon in order to pay tithing. This is not pleasing to the Lord.

  30. Desiree

    Just a comment – the cycle of poverty has many points at which intervention can help. The cycle is far more complex than children watching parents receive help in order to keep their family fed, clothed, and in a shelter (which is referred to as a handout here).

  31. James Lloyd

    Thank you so much for this article. Perhaps we should tell our Bishops that we had planned to pay our tithing but then a family in our ward or town was in desperate need of help, so we felt it was right to help them with the money instead.

  32. tundraboar

    I can remember in leadership training – probably 40 years ago, maybe more – that helping those in need at that time was a primary obligation. We were told that, should fast offering funds run out, those in need had a claim on the tithing funds of the Church. While a financial clerk during that period, I recall writing a check for over $10,000 for an operation one of the ward members needed – one who had never come to a meeting while I lived in the area. More recently, one of my sons needed assistance with his family (lots of medical and financial challenges) and he related some of his (humiliating) experiences with that. My how things have changed.

  33. Veronica Almeida

    City Creek gave 7,000 people employment while the rest of the Nation’s Construction industry was suffering. There is so much the Church has done and is doing to help people become self reliant. You don’t help the poor by just giving them handout. You trained them, you get them jobs, you find resources etc. How dare you print this false information on how much Bishops help. My son-in law is a Bishop and I take great offence as to insinuate that they don’t do enough. GIVE ME A BREAK You have no idea how much is demanded on Bishops to help each person with their own problems.

  34. Dave

    Having served in financial calling after financial calling within the church over a period of decades… you should know that this doesn’t really solve anything (except possibly exempting you from the presumed need to pay a generous fast offering in addition to a 10% tithe). The funds in both categories (tithing and fast offering) both go straight to SLC and are not kept at the local level.

    Both categories are tax exempt (per the US IRS), but both also go directly to SLC with no portion kept at the local (Stake OR Ward) level.

    The only donated funds kept and managed at the local level are “Ward Missionary” funds and those are only kept local until such time as they exceed the needs of the missionaries within your ward/stake… at which point they start to trickle into other unit’s missionary needs and (eventually?) to SLC if the surplus is unusable locally.

  35. Dave

    To clarity… Local units certainly do spend fast offering funds, but those come from SLC and are accounted separate than the donated fast offering funds. And my experience in meetings leads me to believe that more often than not the concern of brethren is that tithing funds might need to be used to subsidize the fast offering funds of the church (not the opposite). So, if anything – your tithing funds already end up in the world of fast offering support (not the other way around).

  36. dadsprimalscream

    Thanks Bishop A. I should probably come clean and say that I have and will set foot inside a Mormon Church again. I’ve since attended the Primary program sacrament meeting because my youngest asked me to and I have picked them up from various activities. I just meant that my heart had been softened enough to try to commune on some personal level, but I would never let that happen again.

    This original post was an excellent article and true by my experience. I also agree with other comments that the lack of transparency is highly suspicious and reflects on the secrecy inherent the present leadership. If they want others to give them the benefit of the doubt for being human in other areas, then they should have the checks and balances that other human organizations put in place to guard against abuse and exploitation. Namely financial transparency and public accountability to their members.

  37. Heber Frank

    D&C 107:81-84 gives instructions for having a trial over any member of the First Presidency. It concludes, “thus none are exempt from the justice and laws of God”. When I heeded the promptings of the Spirit in 1981 and made the decision to “not sustain” the church leadership, I could tell from the peace it brought to me that I was acting in harmony with my conscious.

    If someone tries to tell the church leadership how to run the church, that is the dissent that is not legitimate. But if a member simply uses their God-given right to EITHER sustain or not sustain, and chooses to not sustain the leaders until the controversy they have over them is somehow settled– that is scriptural and legitimate dissent. JST Mark 9:40-48 is a second witness that the “eye of the body” (the church prophet) most certainly can make serious errors.

    As long as the majority of the church accepts the non-scriptural tenet that it is a “done-deal” that the church leadership are guaranteed to always be doing what the Lord wants– and thus that it is a sin to not sustain them– then the only way thing will ever change is when eventually the leadership really go over the edge and no one can deny it.

    In other words, the underlying problem in the church is not the leaders, but the members that love having infallible leaders, and could care less that the law given to them (the D&C) is full of instructions they are not living. By simply not sustaining the present leaders they could be removed at any conference.

    2 Nephi 28:21 teaches that “all is well” thinking in our day is so seriously wrong it can truly lead a person to hell. There is nothing more “all is wellish” and pacified than the false doctrine that the Prophet of the church is guaranteed to never lead the church astray. Besides contradicting the two scriptures I quoted, anyone who studies God’s word has no excuse not knowing it is open idolatry.

  38. spener n

    Why blame the husbands for the divorce. Why blame the father for losing his children. Perhaps father’s should have equal physical custody of the children. Temple recommend questions ask if child support is being paid.

  39. R. H. A.

    The church has been very good to me and my family. I have no complaints. When my son was sick and in Primary Children’s Hospital which was owned by the church back then, the church paid my sons bill there. When my husband was out of work they helped him find someone to teach him new skills. When I had no food to feed my children they provided me with food from the Bishops Storehouse. When my power was going to be turned off they paid my power bill. When my car broke down they paid for my transmission to be rebuilt. When my youngest son had to have an MRI for a possible tumor and we had no health insurance they paid for the MRI. Most times I did not ask, my various different Bishops over the 32 year span that all of the above occurred in usually caringly offered. Sometimes I or my husband were asked to do some type of service for my fellowman during these times, but helping at the Bishop’s storehouse or humanitarian center or planting flowers around the church during our times of trials was added blessing for it helped me and my husband and our children look beyond our personal difficulties to serve others which gave us joy. If you look for fault you will find fault in anything. If you look for good you will find good. I love the church and I’m glad that they built the mall by Temple Square in Salt Lake City for it keeps the real bad things of the world out of that area and it adds revenue that the church will be able to use to bless all the more people in the world. Why do they buy farms? So to grow food to feed the poor. This is a good thing. Also your picture of the starving children is a very old picture off the internet, I saw it years ago. Those are not LDS children who are starving. You are twisting the truth in your finding fault and it is not an honest depiction. I’ve been to 3rd world countries and have seen the needy of the LDS members and I know first hand that the church has assisted them and many non-members rise up out of poverty just as it has helped me.

  40. Debbie

    Use the online/electronic payment system. Pay $1 in tithing. The system does not tell your bishop how much you paid, only that you paid an amount of tithing. Pay the rest into fast offering. Tell your bishop you are a full tithepayer. If you have paid 10% of your income to the church to support the poor, this is not a lie.

  41. Beverly Carlson

    I gladly shared this article!
    I also shared ‘Let’s Go Shopping’ at the Mormon City Creek Mall this Christmas, after all, it is the season, isn’t it? By the way, that is a $4 BILLION + mall the Mormon organization built. WWJD?

  42. Rochelle

    He who is without sin cast the first stone…how well you express yourself as you condemn the church….where is your faith and your commitment to help the poor…should I come to you and others who are so quick to criticize and ask you to account for each penny your spend? It is easy to find fault and not look for the good things the church does…look for the good that they do for a while and maybe if you have an attitude of gratitude you could do more good in this world with the money your are blessed with.

  43. Mandy Jokl

    My husband and I stopped attending church a couple of months ago for lots of different reasons. One of my husbands biggest gripes was that the church and it’s members do an awful lot of talking about charity and have lots of meetings about being charitable but nothing ever seems to happen.
    I’ve stopped paying my tithing and now I use it to help those who need it. I think a corporation that encourages the poor to sacrifice food, heating and warm clothing to help it increase it’s billions of dollars of assets is despicable. Don’t forget also this corporation is classed as a religious corporation and therefore doesn’t pay tax. In the UK many people have stopped using Amazon because of their tax avoidance strategies. Yet here we have a corporation with businesses galore and billions and billions of dollars of assets not paying a penny. It’s about time the members woke up to where their tithing is really going and start demanding answers.

  44. Joaane

    Unfortunately, I believe tithing slips now have a disclaimer that your contributions can be used in any way tha church sees fit, and therfore it does not matter how you categorize it. Your admirable “protest”may all be for naught.

  45. Genvieve

    Just some thoughts about some parts of the article. I couldn’t read the whole thing because it was troubling my spirit. I am not here to argue and will probably not reply to any comments. Anyway, take it or leave it.

    About Elder Holland’s quote, he was not referring to financial troubles. Something along the lines of how we all suffer through those month-to-month periods. He was referring to TRUE poverty. To the point where you shoes are worn and you’re wanting to pick dumps for food. Please listen to the whole talk.

    About the scripture verse, it’s reference he poor can be taken literally, but it also refers to the poor in spirit. The human race is a ways no poor among us, but I think we’re farther from one heart and one mind.
    With the missionary efforts, we focus in on building a people of this world of “one heart” and of “one mind.” The poor part is important, we want to help those who have so little, and the church is doing a lot. Hopefully, with talks like elder Holland’s, people will be inspired to be more generous. Beyond financial donations, many countries claim that the Mormon Helping Hands is a very important humanitarian effort in their country. Helping the poor is more than money, but also service. From many reports of natural disasters, the church is almost always the first to help and the last to leave.

    Also, doctrine does not change. God would cease to be God. But the organization of the church, the way things are delegated is bound to change. I think the delegation of funds is a reflection of that.
    I also don’t think any of us have a good idea about how much it takes to run a church as big as the LDS church.

    About the bishop incident, listen to Elder Holland’s talk from April. People make mistakes. Even bishops. Also, the government gives a lot more money than the church has to offer.

    If you have further questions about the funds of the church, please, talk about aviation to a pilot, not a historian. Many church leaders would be happy to answer your questions and concerns if you have an open heart.

  46. Alasdair Wright

    I am on NZ Government Welfare. And looking for Paid Work, which, at the moment, is not coming up trumps for me. I find the poverty trap to be crushing. I have to make do with what I have, which amounts to $NZD274 per week.

    Out of that, Rent gobbles $170; Power + Telephone included.
    Food is damned expensive, and about $80 per week goes on that.
    This does vary.
    Bills to pay chew the remainder. I am lucky indeed if my Bills are small.

    Those who do have Jobs to go to….although commendable, sometimes lose focus on us poor. I have never been rich—money-wise at all.
    When I heard that the Church was investing in Shopping Malls, and the like, I wondered as to why we needed to be doing Corporate Business. Surely the focus ought to be on assisting the poor and the needy in our individual communities?

    We actually need an entire revolution to take place in the Church. One that has the Poor and Needy to be properly taken care of.

    For example:
    If all of the billions of dollars that the Church receives in Tithing were to be substantially diverted to help us poor and needy Saints, then the spirits of all would be lifted.
    By “substantially diverted”, I mean that 75% would go to where this is really needed.

    Rent and Food and Utilities all need to be taken care of.
    And a major shift in attitudes from the VERY TOP down.

    Please Note:
    I am no Economist, nor Financial Genius.
    I have been a Financial Clerk, and, in the old system of Tithes and Other Offerings, all Disbursements were accounted for each week. And, at the end of the respective month ( whatever this so happened to be) a complete Schedule of sorts would be sent in. And always checked whenever the Green Disbursements Sheet arrived the following month. From Auckland.

  47. brotherjr

    When I was a BYU student, one summer I was unemployed and finally in desperation went to the Salvation Army for a small amount of money ($15) to buy food after i had not eaten for 2-3 days. After that, once I was again employed, I continued to pay tithing to the church. However, in the past few yrs I finally woke up to the truth that the church is robbing the poor. I now pay my tithing to poor family members and friends and acquaintances and people I see along the roadsides who are out of work or in need. I still pay a full tithe, just not to the corporate church, but to those who truly are in need.
    Good article. Something the whole church needs to become aware of.
    JRU

  48. Kyle Gadd

    Excellent article! I share all of these same concerns. When the church spends 3 billion dollars to build a mall in the courtyard of the temple, I think it is pretty safe to say that any input Christ may have had was not taken into account. Of course, Christ was always pretty terrible with money. The only solution he could ever come up with was to give it to the poor without any strings attached. He was like a broken record. For all of his virtues, Christ would be a terrible business person. Maybe that is why he only calls very successful business people to run his church today. For some reason he even turned his church into a business. I guess he doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state like all of those dead English people used to that came to this country in droves. Maybe he is just letting the watchmen on the tower do as they please while the rest of us daub the wall with untempered mortar (Ezekiel 13). The solution that my wife and I have decided to take is to give our tithing directly to the Lord, and to bypass the middle church entirely. We did not arrive at this conclusion easily. I wish that I could be in denial over this, but I cannot. I am now taking full and complete responsibility for my own salvation into my own hands. Since starting our new program, I have come to realize that it is much easier to just cut a check to the church and know that it is being used to build up Zion. I don’t see that happening. Now I actually have my own eyes on the lookout for anyone who has less than I (which in my case is not many), and offer them my tithes in the form of gas, groceries, materials, or just plain old cash – whatever in my best judgement they are in need of. And yes, I do judge. Now that I am my own steward, I must be a judge. I try to judge a righteous judgement, and to be as merciful towards others as I pray God will be towards myself. Because of this decision, I no longer consider myself worthy to enter the temple. I do believe that Brother Monson (you may cast your stones now) is the true and living President of the Corporation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and holds all of the keys pertaining thereto. It is after all a Corporation Sole. I also believe that he is a prophet, seer and revelator according to his own concept of the terms, but according to my understanding of what those things mean, I’m wondering where all of the prophecy, seeing, and revelations are. I still go to church because I believe in Christ, and because I love the members, but mostly because I love Christ. I am in President Eyring’s ward and have an interview with his son (the Bishop) this Sunday. I guess it will all come to a head then. I think it is unfortunate that I can no longer attend the temple. I was sealed in the temple to my wife, and our children and eternal relationship means everything to me, but if the gatekeepers deem me unworthy, I pray God will understand. All I know is that when I put my tithes into the Lord’s hands directly (and receive tithes from others – God bless their souls), it feels like Zion and I love it.

  49. Sean Franklin

    “No one is going to gratuitously attack–the anti-Mormons will always have complaints. But why should the institution fear its members? Why hide from them?”

    It seems important to remember that “the anti-Mormons” is a relative term. To some — to the church leadership — this entire post might be call “anti-Mormon”.

    But……you are 100% right in all you’ve said.

    Maybe “anti-Mormon” is the wrong term. Maybe, as you suggested needs to happen, people should focus on the content of criticisms…..not just the fact that a criticism exists.

    My point here is that the culture doesn’t support such an approach. It’s astounding to me that people believe that Jesus leads this church, but is totally cool with “His” leaders doing what they are doing.

    In my noticing, that is the exact foundational argument of the “anti-Mormon” position.

    Glad you could join us!

  50. Ron Madson

    The most “anit-mormon” statements, i.e. most condemning of the present church, is found, ironically, in the BOM —Mormon 8: 35-38 and 3 Nephi 16:10.

  51. Craig Coleman

    I have never seen the church as a surrogate for my obligation to help the poor and needy. My interpretation of scriptural commandments to give to those who stand in need of my help is that the commandment is directed at me and so therefore it is an individual responsibility. If I see payment of tithing and fast offerings as the end of my responsibility to help others in need, then it is I who will be poorer for it, for God has blessed me abundantly.

  52. Bishop Anon Post author

    Dear brother Kyle,

    Your comments are not only beautifully written, but also show great courage and faith. I will be praying for you and your family that you will be able to continue in that faith as you meet with your bishop Sunday. I invite any and all with a heart to do the same. God bless you Kyle. I hope to meet you someday.

    AB

  53. Andy K.

    Why do you assume that I require my fast offering donation to be used locally? I prefer it to go wherever the need is greatest.

    Why do you assume that nothing is gained if my donation flows to SLC? I will have followed my conscience. My leaders will need to ask themselves difficult questions and think about difficult issues.

    I have always considered my tithing and fast offerings to be an offering to God, and not to the church. So this year, just as with past years, I am giving exactly how I feel directed by God to give, and trust that my giving will work to my good and the good of others (2 Ne. 32:9).

    You imply that I might consider this a way to avoid paying a generous fast offering in addition to the 10% tithe. But consider what I have revealed about myself in these comments. I have always paid tithing on my gross, even though it’s not a requirement. I am willing to sacrifice my standing and reputation in my local ward and stake in order to follow my conscience. Do I sound like the kind of person who’s looking for ways to donate less?

    If credible evidence surfaces that fast offerings are not being exclusively used to help the poor and needy, that would certainly cause me to re-evaluate how I choose to donate. It is indeed troubling that the church is not financially transparent in the U.S. (by law it must be in Canada and the U.K.), as it would require a credible whistle-blower from the inside to reveal such misuse. The internal audit department only certifies that funds are spent in accordance with established church policies, which leaves a lot of latitude, since policies can and do change on a regular basis, also without much transparency.

  54. Craig

    JJ makes excellent points here.

    One part of Elder Holland’s talk that really impressed me was when he said he wasn’t sure about the reasons for such pronounced economic disparities and a lot of it was inherent to who we were born to and where we were born at. I, for example, being a white male born in California will have differing opportunities that start from birth than a child born in Liberia, Honduras, or other areas wracked with poverty.

    I do, however, have a unique perspective on what poverty is and what it means given that I had the wonderful opportunity to serve a mission in El Salvador in the 1990’s when the murder and violence rates were literally the highest this world has seen in the past 20 years. I served those people and loved them (and still do) with all my heart and soul.

    JJ’s point at the end is probably his or her best one – “there is a lot of relativity in our perceptions of who has more and who has less” which is certainly something you can’t just gloss over when pondering the implications of poverty, what it actually means, and what resources one has at one’s disposal. I hate institutionalized government programs because it institutionalizes poverty which to me means dependence on someone other than yourself to provide for your own needs. I also hate fostering dependency because it creates a sense of entitlement to get what you haven’t earned and in turn leads to massive social unrest, even in “Western” countries like France (where my wife is from). This is why I’ve always felt that the Church’s assistance programs are more effective than the governments because they can help people become self-reliant. You can’t help someone else in need unless you first can help yourself.

    That being said, I also loved the part of his talk where he reference the passage in Mark where the woman “hath done what she could”. I too look at this as a challenge to take up the yoke of helping those in need. On my mission it was easy because the opportunities were plentiful in a third world country. I remember once in one of my “poorer” areas (they were all poor in the perspective of comparing to even the worst neighborhoods in the US) we came across a woman who was kicked out of her house along with her two kids. She literally had nothing. She set up a house which consisted of bamboo branches and garbage bags for a roof and walls to her house. I remember the intense love of God and compassion I felt towards her. I went ahead and bought her enough beans and rice to last for several months. She wasn’t LDS but that did not matter. We dropped the food off at her house. The only caveat to this was that at that point I didn’t have enough money to eat dinner for a month. Every day my last meal was chicken and rice at noon and I didn’t eat again until the morning. IN retrospect I should have probably contacted my mission President to ask for a few more bucks but I just didn’t at the time. Literally suffering hunger to allow someone else the chance to eat was probably one of the best experiences of my mission and it’s one I go back to often when thinking about the law of Sacrifice and how that translates into what I can do now.

    I believe we live our lives on a plane where the Lord will put people in our path to make choices to help. I started, own and now run a successful business where my “wealth” is greater than 99% of those in my country and probably 99.999% of those in the world. I constantly analyze interactions with employees, clients, and others who we come in contact with and try to treat each as a child of God, irrespective whether or not they deserve help. As the original author pointed out, it isn’t our job to judge; it’s our job to help. We are commanded, in fact, to not judge. I have too many examples to delineate even part of the help we try to give apart from our tithes and offerings.

    I too have had some questions about how the Church utilizes tithing funds, but in a different context to the original author. I don’t personally mind building the mall or real estate. If you have $10,000 in assets, you have the choice to either consume or to purchase something that will provide long lasting value. If you can put the $10,000 into an asset that will produce $1,500 of annual income (which is probably what you can do with the mall or other real estate held for productive use) it will produce income for perpetuity which can then be used for whatever purpose to then help those in need. In addition, the initial investment of $10,000 is also maintained although it’s converted from cash (an asset that can be expent immediately) into something that is not liquid. I strongly suspect that missions are heavily subsidized with tithing funds, for example, and other income these other assets produce.

    My questions about usage of tithing funds are –

    1 – is too much spent that is not necessary stuff (billboards, movies and/or church facilities that are too extravagant )
    2 – Subsidizing educations for “rich” families at BYU. My point behind this is my own family where my 12 year old daughter sucks at math so we’re able to spend 300-400/month to get her tutored. She will probably get a B or a B plus. In the future if she sucks at a subject we will probably also immediately get her tutoring which will raise her grades. She wants to go to BYU (even though neither my wife nor I ever set foot in Utah to go to a church school or otherwise) and the fact that we can spend more resources to improve her grades makes it totally unfair to other families with children who will have kids applying to BYU Provo without the resources we have. She will compete with those kids for a heavily subsidized church education whose parents will effectively underwrite her tuition through their tithes. This makes me very uncomfortable. I honestly have absolutely no problem with subsidizing “lower income” households but my guess is that the bulk of families who can send their kids there (at least from out of state) are upper middle class families (Again upper middle class is a matter of perspective – in this perspective I would guess families with incomes over six figures) who can afford much higher tuitions. Why would I ask a widow or old lady to tithe to subsidize my daughter’s BYU provo education?
    3 – Seeing how the ward budgets work – I do audits for our stake and I see the nominal funds each ward is allocated for their activities and other budget. It really is disheartening a bit to see the amount of tithing that goes out and to see the table scraps left to conduct meaningful activities and functions. I’ve taken the position for years and years now that I will pay for whatever calling I’m in without requesting reimbursement but not every family can do that. It would be nice if our young men budget were a few thousand rather than a few hundred so we can do more and better activities. There is only so much we can do when we have a limited budget.
    4 – Using tithes to help the poor – I also strongly agree that we should use them to help the poor. Some of the other posters have had difficult experiences where I know without hesitation I would have helped. I can’t judge them for feeling bitter and/or disappointed but I also don’t know enough to condemn the church for not helping either. I tend to trust in Bishops who spend hundreds of hours annually serving others but again, I don’t know enough to judge (and I’ve never been a Bishop or in a bishopric). I do think that if the Adventists build hospitals to heal the sick, why can’t we? Instead of spending 20 or 25 million building a temple, why can’t we spend half of that and then spend the rest on purchasing condominiums or homes that could shelter those in need of shelter? Collectively I’m sure the membership would have no problem with this approach.

    At this point my testimony is strong about the restoration so in spite of my questions, I choose to have faith and believe in the principles of the gospel that have blessed my life and continue to bless my life. I teach my children about the principles and restoration. I choose to continue to pay a substantial tithe and then with other funds help out those in need as the opportunity and/or circumstance arises. I would prefer there to be more transparency about where tithes go and what exactly is being spent on each purpose/program but I also have the faith that it is being spent as the Lord would have it spent.

  55. Harvey

    I can not understand after reading some of the comments why members are so tightly wound into trying to work within the system to find alternate means to make it work .Example how to tag your tithing to make it go where you want it to go. Grow up, if the system is broken or possible never was, why continue to invest in the system. Navigate yourself ,you do not need a corrupted organization to do and think for you. Liberate yourselves from the chains of not inspired leaders. If they are not being lead by God , which it would seem ,then why do you want any part of it. If these men have risen to such high positions over long periods of time, then this did not just happen and if God was leading this it would never have been permitted in his name. Are you so conditioned that you can not act or think clearly for yourself. No excuses!

  56. ljohn1958@yahoo.com

    A few years ago, I and my wife went through a period of unemployment. When I went to the bishop, he asked if my family could help. I asked around (not an easy thing to do), and one brother in law cut a check for a substantial amount that got us through another month. When those funds ran out, I again approached the bishop. We were given food and our utilities were covered. Originally, he said that church guidance was that homes should be sold, but when I explained that I had bought our home years earlier when they were much less expensive and that our house payment was lower than what I would pay with rent, he agreed and helped us with that as well.
    About then my wife obtained part time employment which covered our utility bills, but for another two months we received food assistance and the house payment.
    All that was asked in return was a Saturday at Deseret Industries and shoveling some widows sidewalks after snowstorms. He also inquired regularly as to the progress of my job search, and after three months, I was happy to tell him that I had found employment-coincidentally, the job was posted on the church job site because the employer had always obtained quality employees when he used that source.
    Overall, the bishop cared about our needs, while being careful with the funds of the church. Maybe I just got lucky, but I suspect a lot of people in need get lucky.
    I will say that when people get long term help, after a while they often come to expect it. A sister in the ward who is a friend of my wife’s has received help for years after her husband abandoned her. The only child left at home is handicapped, and when the bishop told her to get a job while he was in school, she was highly offended, and pulled him out of his day school to homeschool him. She confided to my wife that she did this to “get the bishop off my back about getting a job”.
    The fact that people like her have not been cut off tells me a lot of mercy rather than justice is meted out via the church welfare system.

  57. shanahan

    I do not commit to a church to pay tithing, I commited to G*d to pay thithing to a church. (I did not add a disclaimer to my commitment “if the church is using the money the way I think they should.”) I expect Him to bless ME because I have followed through with MY commitment. However, I do not expect that if I have paid tithing, I am off the hook to my felow man. Neither can I expect that if other people are doing everything they can do to serve, that their efforts can be claimed as my own. I follow through on my commitments, I hope they follow through on theirs. But, in the end other’s choices have no effect on my relationship with my Heavenly Father or my responsibility to my brothers and sisters.

  58. shanahan

    Also, if you are from the United States as Elder Holland is, it is very unlikely you have felt real poverty. To belittle him for being honest is a little off putting. And, I have been as poor as you get in the US. But, it was not all that poor. I lived in a car. (But, there was one to live in) I ate out of trash cans. (But, I had no competition.)

  59. Dennis

    Here’s a thought… the problem isn’t with some faceless institution but with individuals. You may think that means the leaders or administrators of the church, but did you covenant to consecrate all that you have to building up Zion? How are YOU doing with that? Are you giving 10% in tithing and another 10, 20, 30, whatever you can in fast offerings and other charitable causes? Perhaps the institution that is the church isn’t giving more to the poor because its members aren’t quite Zion themselves. We can’t wait around for an announcement from the church that Zion is here. Zion will come when WE bring it.

  60. Jeremy Spilsbury

    When Saul decided to act contrary to the counsel given him by the prophet Samuel and return with the flocks of the Amalekites instead of destroying them , Samuel rebuked him and said, “to obey is better than sacrifice”. By any earthly standard, it didn’t make any sense for the Israelites to destroy perfectly good animals that could have been used to honor God through ritual sacrifices and provide food for the poor. Nevertheless, God’s will, as dictated by his mouthpiece Samuel, was that they be destroyed. As far as I am aware, I don’t think an explanation is given as to why God wanted them destroyed. Certainly, the wisdom of man exceeds that of God in this instance, right? Well, if you feel you are omniscient, and know the beginning from the end, I guess you might come to that conclusion. I personally feel wholly inadequate to counsel God or his prophets. Think of this – we don’t know what we don’t know! That is pretty humbling to me. Luckily, God “revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” God has secrets? That is pretty scandalous if you ask me . What is He trying to hide…?
    As for me, I don’t feel confident enough in my wisdom or understanding in so many aspects of the gospel to make sweeping judgments against the Lord’s anointed servants. Does that mean I think they are perfect and every decision they make is exactly the Lord’s will every time? Of course not! Why would I claim something for them that they themselves do not claim? They are fallible and have to battle with their own inadequacies, personal biases, and pride just like the rest of us. I do have a personal witness from the Holy Ghost that if I follow them, I will never be led astray. Like our Heavenly Father does with us individually, teaching us line upon line, he does with the church. Think about the early years of the church and how principles were introduced and only after subsequent generations became more widely accepted and practiced. Do we still have a ways to go? Duh! Will that progress come from the bottom up or will the Lord reveal it through his prophets as we are ready to receive it? His pattern and doctrine on how that is to be done has been very well established in Holy Writ.
    I also have a very significant problem with the anonymous bishop’s logic. I think it is very tendentious and specious, as well -meaning as he might be. For example: His encounter with the dejected sister whom was humiliated by her bishop after being refused much needed temporal aid. To only consider her side of the story sufficient enough to come to the conclusion that the bishop acted cruelly and wrongly is highly irresponsible and reckless. At this point you have no idea of the complete context or the history of what took place. If truth is truly your concern, you need to adhere to a much higher standard of pursuing it. When you do this you show an eagerness to arrive at a pre-determined conclusion and lose credibility as a truth- seeker. This one-sided testimony would certainly never be sufficient to indict anyone in a court of law without giving the other side an opportunity to share the facts as they see it.
    Your insinuation that for -profit ventures the church undertakes, like the City Creek Mall, is funded with tithing money is factually incorrect. The church does own businesses which are taxed like any other business and provide an immense amount of good to communities and disadvantaged people. In all of human history, what has done more to lift people out of poverty and raise standards of living that were unthinkable prior to its creation? The free market system! Nothing has even come close! Just within the last several years hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of face-grinding poverty as free market principles have been more widely adopted in places like China, India, Eastern Europe, and many other places. Why is it so successful? For many reasons but, one important reason is because it does not buy into this myth that wealth is a zero-sum game. Wealth is created and can expand! In almost every case when that happens, it has a multiplier effect that blesses numerous lives. The very highest achievement in temporally aiding someone is to help them become self-reliant. That is infinitely more valuable than just handing someone food. But it is much harder to do. It requires wealth, investment, organization, infrastructure, training, etc. In most cases, all that can be done is to offer a handout to alleviate suffering but how much greater it is to provide work for people. These business ventures provide precious jobs that instill people with dignity that will contribute to spiritual progression in addition to so many other benefits that have not been fairly considered in his article. The value of helping an individual become self-reliant cannot be understated!
    Bottom line for me is that I personally can do and should do better about helping those in need. We all can do better. I won’t ask to come to your house bishop and second guess every financial decision you make and then chastise you if I feel you are not being as frugal as you could be so that you had more to give to help the poor. This is between the individual and God and no one is stopping anyone from being as generous as they possibly can.

  61. Bill Berrett

    Read your donation form. The LDS church now reserves the right to move donated funds to wherever they want. Your Fast Offerings will likely help build a nice Babylonian Mall. As the brethren say, “Let’s go shopping.” Good effort though.

  62. janabenzon

    City creek employed people, so the ends justifies the means for you? That edifice to gluttony, one that sells “fine apparel” also advertises using scantily clad women and alcohol. Go look at those ads from city creek and tell us how well your own church abides by the standards it sets for it’s members. The hypocrisy of that religion is off the charts.

  63. Bishop Anon Post author

    You make a good point. We have been spoiled as a nation. But I do think that we assume too quickly that Americans simply can’t be poor. There have been some really good examples from comments today that illustrate this point. The poor will always be with us wherever we turn. For many in the U.S., in the church, it’s as real as Africa to them. We could do so much more for them with tithing funds. Here’s an interesting story from just the other day:

    http://rt.com/usa/210607-baltimore-study-nigeria-health/

  64. Robert Sinclair

    The manner in which has been commanded to have no poor and the windows of heaven open to show there is enough and to spare, is for The Council on the Disposition of Tithes to finally keep the commandments of God given in D&C 42 & 70 where none were exempt from this law who belonged to the church in their temporal things they are to be equal and this not grudgingly.

    By giving of the consecrated assets given to the church into the hands of the poor Saints in the form of covenants and deeds that could not be broken sufficient for the support of their families through the bishops of the wards and branches.

    Yes, one nation and church under God indivisible with liberty and justice and “inheritances” for all.

    This would be laying the foundation for Zion. Yes, not one brick laid for buildings or property was to be purchased for worship, until “all” had sufficient for the support of their families as a talent or stewardship of inheritance for them to return each year, year after year with a “feast of fat things” for the poor and needy, a “feast of tabernacles” of the temples of men and woman and children of God. 🙂

    Yes, let The Council on the Disposition of Tithes, Bring his bride out of the closet, yes his church, clothed in equity and justice of all things common of inheritances, of covenants and deeds as he has commanded, and righteousness, that the bridegroom may come forth and baptize your leaders with cloven tongues of fire and the power of God through the Holy Ghost and Spirit of God. 🙂

    And let the windows of heaven open up and pour out the blessings promised of God. 🙂

    And be glad ye children of Zion for the Lord will do great things. 🙂

  65. Robert Sinclair

    As an added thought of knowledge and wisdom of things common with this House of Ephraim and of the House of Judah is the fact that the head Rabbi and elders of Israel of Judah teach that the highest form of righteousness of charity or Tzedakah to do, is to set one up to be self sufficient. This given to Joseph Smith in section 42 & 70 was a commandment to do exactly that.

    Quite a marvel do you not agree?

    Should we keep these commandments God has given us, the House of Judah will know that this is their highest form of righteousness they teach also.

    The fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ that neither yet live but both know of.

    Take the “One Stick” given unto Ephraim and his invited guests and bring before Judah and be confounded no more on how to treat the poor. 🙂 See Ezekiel chapter 37:15-23

    Let us together set up a nation of laws that establish one nation under God with liberty and justice and “inheritances” for all. 🙂 see Joshua 1:6 as well. 😉

  66. CJ

    Well stated! I agree. We do not have a complete understanding of God’s will. There is a saying that if you give a man a fish he will eat for a day, if you teach him how to catch his own fish he will eat all his life.
    God will correct us all as we stand in need of correction. I trust that the leaders are doing what they believe they know to be right. If they stray off of God’s path, I trust he will correct them.

  67. John

    You mentioned one stake president earning a $900/month salary from the church. Sounds like ‘paid clergy’.

  68. Ron Madson

    Obedience to authority alone is the first law of hell and not heaven. And any authority that demands of you obedience by “virtue of their priesthood” alone has lost their very priesthood. It can only be exercised through persuasion.

    The OT historical narratives are a prime example of stories taking the Lord’s name in vain. Was Joshua commanded of God to enter Jericho to kill every man, woman and child but preserve the nice prostitutes in the brothel? No, but it was an Asiatic tradition for conquering armies to kill everything in sight and claim “god told us” —and then these traditions of deference to authority at all costs and ascribing it to God is the very things the later prophets renounced.

    So Jesus came to show what he is really like. He came saying “it is written of old” or “it is said of old” such and such but I am here to show you what I am really like and not the nonsense that you have created in your false narratives seeking to have the people defer unquestionably to authority be it Kings or Priests. T he prophets came and told Israel that there histories are BS and for that they were cast out. Remember Jeremiah even told those priests in the temple that God did not command them to sacrifice animals but they made it and said “God told us.” (that would be the equivalent of a high priesthood leader today telling the church that God did not give us the endowment rites but it came from Masonry originating in Scotland—and yet that is what Jeremiah essentially said as he delivered God’s message telling the priests that they had created a false ritual and that they were charging money to have access–now was Jeremiah telling the truth? You judge, but I share this to illustrate how shallow our hand picked study of the real bible has been and continues to be).

    The problem with LDS sunday school is we are pathetically ignorant of how the bible came about and how those in power created a false allegiance to authority—particularly priesthood. It was Saul that passed the test and not Samuel. Saul showed mercy and then Samuel came and cut up a King and endorsed genocide. The whole “obedience is greater than sacrifice” is frankly contextually a very evil message

    Remember Lehi in his dream had an angel dressed in white robes inviting him to follow him. Where did that angel in white robes (priesthood) lead him to? Re-read it. Only when Lehi called directly on God did he find the tree of life.

    We have the Lord’s voice in D&C and he tells us that ALL things are to be governed by voice and common consent and nothing spent from treasury without voice and common consent. The checks and balances God created have been taken away by the priesthood by conditioning us first not know/hide finances and second, condition us to not question and assume our duty is to pay and not question.

    Malachi faced the same issue in his time. His address as to robbing was directed to the priesthood that took up the offerings and used it to acquire lands, build spacious buildings but not take it to the storehouse. The robbing was on the part of the priests —the same priesthood that required payment to enter the temple in Jesus’ time. And yet it is taught as if the Lord is directing it to the poor in zion to pay no matter if they go without necessities. THAT was never what the law of tithing was about. Moreover, we imported only half of the law of tithing. We have the paying part down pat but the other half is that the priesthood is to spend nearly all on the least with only a fraction for priesthood and churches—-we have it totally backwards

    Resources for tithes are scarce and to take it up and not use as directed in Matthew 25 for the least is ROBBING GOD and it is NOT giving it to the Lord until it reaches the hands of the least. Any stewards who block it from reaching the least are robbers—always have been and always will be.

  69. Margret Payne

    Bishop A I did like your article and I have been reading some of the comments that have been made and just have to say that having been a member since I was 15 and seen the way the members in my country have helped my mother we have been blessed, but having said that I have also noticed in my years a member the we as humans and members of the LDS church or any other religion tend to get this holier than thou attitude and act like we are better then the next person and I have noticed that there also seems to be a lot of cliquish behavior going around in wards and branches. I have only asked for help from RS once when I was a young mother with a child in hospital and getting ready for a military move to another country, I needed help to clean and prep my house for inspection I asked the RS president if they could help so I could spend more time at my son hospital bed. The answer I got was a big fat no with a “You should have kept your house cleaner to begin with” my house was really not that messy but cluttered but long story short I did managed to pass my inspection and only because the inspector saw the house was cleaner then when I had moved in to it and he knew my child was in the hospital. The uncaring nature, attitude and words of that RS leader turned me of from asking anyone for help again mainly the LDS church. I have had compassionate service from them when I had a miscarriage, but that was form a different RS leadership and I did not ask for it. But all in all me and my family have been blessed by knowing and being members of the Church of Latter Day Saints. It is not our to judge but to do and give without resentment or expectations of what we have and not expect regonition or pad on the back, the blessing we get from giving alms and from tithing will come to us when we do these things with gladness of heart and not because we expect or demand them. Well off my high horse I go now.

  70. Bardur Gunnarsson

    The counsel against speaking evil of Church leaders is not so much for the benefit of the leaders as it is for the spiritual well-being of members who are prone to murmur and find fault. The Church leaders I know are durable people. They made their way successfully in a world of unrestrained criticism before they received their current callings. They have no personal need for protection; they seek no personal immunities from criticism—constructive or destructive. They only seek to declare what they understand to be the word of the Lord to his people.

    There are at least five different procedures a Church member can follow in addressing differences with Church leaders—general or local, male or female.

    The first—and most benign—of the procedures is to overlook the difference. President Brigham Young described his own application of this method in a circumstance in which he felt “a want of confidence” in the Prophet Joseph Smith’s financial management. After entertaining such thoughts for a short time, President Young saw that they could cause him to lose confidence in the Prophet and ultimately to question God as well. President Young concluded:

    “Though I admitted in my feelings and knew all the time that Joseph was a human being and subject to err, still it was none of my business to look after his faults. … He was called of God; God dictated him, and if He had a mind to leave him to himself and let him commit an error, that was no business of mine. … He was God’s servant, and not mine.”

    https://www.lds.org/ensign/1987/02/criticism?lang=eng

  71. Pingback: Are Our ‘Helping Hands’ Clean & Pure? | Steve Bloor's Blog

  72. Abram Farr

    Jj in your opinion should those in extreme poverty be required to be paid tithing to be temple worthy?

  73. NTN

    “… the scriptural definition of a tenth of “surplus” tends to condemn the rich because it’s can often be much more.”

    I’m not sure I understand your comment, Ben.

    Isn’t 10% of income always going to be more than 10% of surplus regardless of whether that income is large or small?

    Of course those earning a higher income will have a greater amount of surplus to contribute in comparison with those earning a lower income. Is that what you meant?

  74. jimmy

    I wish there were more pictures of poor people juxtaposed with wealthy Mormons. Hume’s Theory of Utility seems to have left the building… More pictures of POOR PEOPLE! Another vacuous and pointless read…

    More poor people pictures!!!

  75. stockoneder

    4 Nephi 1:3

    3 And they had all things common among them; therefore there were not RICH and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly gift.

    There are no rich in Zion either. That is the biggest stumbling block.

  76. Jacob

    I didn’t see any sources of where church financial records or quotes. I didn’t read about you talking with the church officials and their responses to the allocation of tithing funds. This would prove to me that you indeed are trying to resolve a “problem.” Which begs the question are you really trying to fix the problem?

  77. Robert Sinclair

    This is commanded in section 42 and 70, and because of being utterly rejected these people are ready for destruction of the almighty soon.

    Watch for all the blood moons coming and sun being darkened on the Jews ancient New Year and High Holy Days of the coming year to fulfill the Scriptures written of Joel as Moroni testified to Joseph Smith three separate times in one night the same exact message of Joel and also that every single one who shall not hearken unto that prophet Jesus Christ shall be destroyed. And Moroni testified that these things would soon be upon all. ♡

  78. Nephi Ephraim

    I have read this article and every single comment made here. I cannot bring myself to criticize the Church for how it spends the resources it has. As Pogo says, we have met the enemy and he is US!!!! The Church leadership is us, graduated to greater leadership responsibilities. But the Church is NOT Zion. Thus, to lay upon our Church the requirements of ZION is ridiculous. Its a Church, for Pete’s Sake. Its an amalgamation of unrepentant Israelites who think they are God’ people when they have broken Covenant with the LORD as Isaiah prophesied they would and I speak of us each as individuals. If there is a shift to happen in how we spend tithing dollars it has to come to us as a PEOPLE wherein our leaders reflect us and we reflect them. Again, repentance of the people en masse a la King Benjamin and his Temple-going Nephite constituents. Barring that, we should expect that tithing funds will continue to be spent on HUGE projects while the poor are neglected and we throw a few pennies at them to feel good about ourselves and to have those wonderful stories where the poor are helped while they continue to struggle in Babylon.

  79. Mark Carroll

    I would think about respecting your comments if you didn’t hide behind anonymity. If you truly believed this you wouldn’t hide for “fear of any man”

  80. Anonymous

    Veronica, I certainly appreciate your desire to see the good in what was done. And I understand that being a member of this church – as for anyone that is sincerely a member of any church – can be a matter of identity as much as belief. I can’t speak for others that have commented but I think I resemble their comments so I’ll say this of myself and only maybe it is true for others also. Part of the struggle I (we?) have in coming to these realizations is that I (we?) feel a loss of identity. And that hurts. It hurts to feel trust misplaced.

    But I don’t think anyone here is asking that you take this one thing and consider it as reason to abandon the whole (though maybe this one thing leads you to examine other things that may have that result). And I don’t think you are suggesting that anyone is asking you to abandon the church. More that perhaps it is hard (for all of us) to allow ourselves to consider that there may be any crack in what we have invested so much in – particularly something we have exalted to such a degree (again I am speaking more of myself than for you or anyone else – I don’t presume to know your thoughts). And of course even greater is the fear that if there is one crack that there may be more.

    What I’d ask is leave all of that burden for a second. For one second set aside the investment that you and your family have made in the church. Set aside the anxiety that you may feel that this may betray even deeper concerns. I’m not asking you to abandon anything you love or believe. But for one second take yourself out of all of it and ask this simple question, only allowing yourself to respond with instinct; the first thought to your mind:

    Does building malls feel more like the work of Babylon or Zion?

    That answer is for you alone. You don’t need to share it with any of us. It won’t prove us right or wrong. That is your personal feeling – as is all religion ultimately personal for everyone (regardless of their religion of association). I think what most on here would say is don’t let us tell you what you believe. No, rather I (we?) would scream if we could with the voice of angel that you not let any man tell you what your religion is.

    But when you have come to your simple answer to that simple question, please consider laying it against the Lord’s words in D&C Section 10 verse 56…

    But it is they who do not fear me, neither keep my commandments but build up churches unto themselves to get gain, yea, and all those that do wickedly and build up the kingdom of the devil–yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that it is they that I will disturb, and cause to tremble and shake to the center.

    I wish I could bold the “build up the kingdom of the devil part”.

    I – as I think many on here – are grateful for your passion and your perspective. I think we share with you a love of Christ and his doctrine. I sincerely hope we can leverage that commonality to edify each other and to humbly challenge each other to own our beliefs.

    Lastly, I’d ask all to forgive any grammatical or spelling errors as there may be. Typing on a tiny phone is not conducive to quality, coherence, or clarity. 🙂

  81. jill

    I don’t have a problem with our church spending funds on buildings that will produce income as the church can’t survive in this world without money. It takes money to live in the world.

  82. JoJo

    Sorry but I don’t agree. Sure they could spend more on helping the physical needs of the poor. But when is it going to be enough to satisfy you and others who complain about this? What’e the magic number? I trust that our prophet really is a prophet and receives inspiration from God on how to use His money to strike a logical balance between helping take care of the physical needs and the spiritual needs of the world.

  83. Michael

    We are not attracting people to our church. We are attracting people to the true gospel of Christ.

  84. tubbyhodges

    A few months ago, I came across this while reading and pondering the Book of Mormon…for the 80th time since returning home from my mission almost 15 years ago (from the Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith):

    “He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants;”

    What hit my heart was that the Book of Mormon contained the fulness of the everlasting Gospel AS DELIVERED BY THE SAVIOR TO THE ANCIENT INHABITANTS. As I read and re-read the words of THE SAVIOR found ONLY in 3 Nephi, I couldn’t help but notice several things I had never before seen.

    – Jesus says nothing about paying tithing to the church. In fact, he says,

    1 Verily, verily, I say that I would that ye should do alms unto the poor; but take heed that ye do not your alms before men to be seen of them; otherwise ye have no reward of your Father who is in heaven.

    2 Therefore, when ye shall do your alms do not sound a trumpet before you, as will hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

    3 But when thou doest alms let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth;

    4 That thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.

    This didn’t seem to coincide with the church drawing so much publicity to itself by openly sharing how much money is donated to the poor, nor the BRIGHT YELLOW shirts of the “Mormon Helping Hands.”

    Then, I found this from Business Week and it gave me a lot of pause:

    “According to an official church Welfare Services fact sheet, the church gave $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid in more than 178 countries and territories during the 25 years between 1985 and 2010. A fact sheet from the previous year indicates that less than one-third of the sum was monetary assistance, while the rest was in the form of “material assistance.” All in all, if one were to evenly distribute that $1.3 billion over a quarter-century, it would mean that the church gave $52 million annually. A study co-written by Cragun and recently published in Free Inquiry estimates that the Mormon Church donates only about 0.7 percent of its annual income to charity; the United Methodist Church gives about 29 percent.”

    (http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-07-10/how-the-mormons-make-money#p6)

    When the Church has an annual income of over $7 billion, why is so little donated to helping eradicate poverty in the quest to establish Zion (to be of one heart, one mind, and have no poor among us)? The answer because the church’s huge undertaking to SPREAD with buildings and temples throughout the world.

    I went back to 3 Nephi, combing again through the FULNESS OF THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL AS DELIVERED BY THE SAVIOR TO THE ANCIENT INHABITANTS. But no where could I find anything where Jesus tells the people to build church buildings, do genealogy work for the dead, nor perform any kind of temple work for that matter (probably the largest monetary undertaking of the Church).

    Since The Book of Mormon was written for our day and we are the only ones that have, and should be reading it, I had to follow the counsel of Nephi and liken all scriptures unto myself. I began to question:

    1 – Why was it that whenever prophets were sent to the people, they were calling the people and the leaders in the Church to repentance? (i.e., Lehi, Abinadi, Samuel the Lamanite come immediately to mind). Could these stories be allegories for our time? Are the leaders of the church like the wicked priests of King Noah?

    2 – If likened unto US, could this scripture from Jacob 4 be condemning us?

    14 But behold, the [LDS] were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets [of the scriptures], and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand [like the temple endowment], because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.

    3 – If likened unto Us, could this be true from 2 Nephi 28?

    13 They rob the poor because of their fine sanctuaries; they rob the poor because of their fine clothing; and they persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they are puffed up.

    14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.

    15 O the wise, and the learned, and the rich, that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms, and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell!

    4 – How do I reconcile this from Mosiah?

    26 And now, for the sake of these things which I have spoken unto you—that is, for the sake of retaining a remission of your sins from day to day, that ye may walk guiltless before God—I would that ye should impart of your substance to the poor, every man according to that which he hath, such as feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and administering to their relief, both spiritually and temporally, according to their wants.

    Now, please do not misunderstand. I believe those in the Church, for the most part, are doing what THEY THINK is right. But how does this coincide with the FULNESS OF THE EVERLASTING GOSPEL AS DELIVERED BY THE SAVIOR TO THE ANCIENT INHABITANTS? How can the business and political practices of the Church be reconciled to what Jesus, Himself, taught?

    I prayed and prayed for further light and knowledge so that I could know what to do. As a father of 5, raised in the Church, RM and a temple recommend holder, I wanted and needed help.

    Within 24 hours, I found this book and read it in about a week. It’s worth a look…and it’s free. There I have found ALL of my answers. 🙂

    Good luck all of my dear friend, and thank you anonymous bishop for your blog!!!

    http://www.marvelousworkandawonder.com/tsp/index.htm

  85. chosha

    Not sure you could have missed the point more completely. This is not an article on YOUR responsibility. It’s an article on the responsibility held by CHURCH LEADERS on how to use the tithes they receive.

  86. chosha

    “I trust that our prophet really is a prophet and receives inspiration from God on how to use His money to strike a logical balance between helping take care of the physical needs and the spiritual needs of the world.”

    Which of those needs did building City Creek Mall fulfil?

  87. chosha

    Well then, let’s alter that wording: So the point is, if our goal is to attract people to the true gospel of Christ, shouldn’t we start acting more LIKE we have the true gospel of Christ, and not so much like a corporation trying to sell an image?

    Yep, point stands.

  88. chosha

    “…the church can’t survive in this world without money. It takes money to live in the world.”

    You know who else can’t survive in the world without money? People who are starving or without shelter.

  89. Aaron

    I think the $1.4B figure actually does include service hours. I know it at least includes the estimated value of goods donations.

    Also, can you provide references for your data on the Seventh Day Adventists?

  90. Jeremy Spilsbury

    Does building malls feel more like the work of Babylon or Zion?

    I reject the false dilemma created by this question. It completely distorts reality and it is classic stage one thinking. I imagine that in Zion their will be much industry. I imagine that it will have robust market places full of goods and services to bless peoples lives. I imagine it to be full of very accomplished artisans, craftsmen, engineers, and architects using their talents and knowledge to bless other people’s lives and to build a thriving and beautiful cities. And by the way, tithing was not used to build the mall. It is very disingenuous to continue to perpetuate this myth.

    Besides being a false dilemma, it is classic stage one thinking. I think you fail to recognize enormous benefits that the industry of the free market has had in this world. There is no greater force in this world in lifting people out of poverty than the free enterprise system and the industry and innovation that comes as a result. It is a good thing to engage in it, not bad! People can’t be generous if they don’t have incomes or ways to build their wealth through investments. Communism was such a compassionate form of government wasn’t it. Devised to make sure everyone enjoyed the same material benefits. How did that work out? It resulted in making everyone miserable. It is also important to realize that the greatest single cause of misery and poverty is corrupt governments that cannot simply be remedied through monetary aid. How much good will humanitarian aid be to the starving masses in North Korea? Do you think that they would ever receive any of it? Of course not! How about the majority of those suffering in Africa? It is a result of war and corrupt and greedy governments as much as anything. Another thing to consider is the unintended consequences of some forms of humanitarian aid. There is a real danger in creating dependency and even unwittingly hurting local businesses and industry as a result of foreign aid. I have read of countless examples where great harm has been done to individuals and communities because of well intended, but poorly thought -out assistance had been given. Self-reliance is the highest goal of welfare. I believe that your criticism of how the church uses its funds fails to account for the wisdom and foresight required in overcoming these and other obstacles in fighting poverty. Organization, infrastructure, networking, personnel, and other investments that are being made by the church are not being adequately considered. You are also not a prophet or a seer. You do not know what challenges lie ahead and how to adequately prepare for them. I trust President Monson with this very difficult task because I have a personal witness that he is a prophet of God.

    There are many instances in the scriptures where prophets have erred and require correction. Some examples are Jonah, Moses, Peter, Lehi, the Brother of Jared and Joseph Smith to name just a few. Do you know what the common thread was in every instance? That correction came from the Lord, not from a bishop. They are his anointed servants and he will not let them stray far enough to jeopardize his work of salvation. So if we really believe that President Monson is a prophet of God than we have the promise that the Lord will not allow him to lead us astray. I believe Nephi believed that causing him to respect the mantle of his prophet and father even after he openly murmured against the Lord, by trusting him to tell him where to hunt. Even after having grandiose visions and revelations he did not think to chastise Lehi. He left that up to the Lord. Nephi’s strength was his humility and his trust in the Lord.

  91. rockwaterman1

    Okay Jeremy, let me rephrase the question:

    Does building malls whose gentile tenants are from out of state, and who siphon the profits earned from the Saints into the pockets of their own private corporations which reside outside our home boundaries, and who have been given special privileges and enticements not provided to local businesses that were owned by tithe-paying latter-day Saints, some of whose Mormon-owned businesses were uprooted to make way for this mall -does that strike you as bringing us closer to Zion, or closer to Babylon?

  92. Allen

    I would just give all your tithing money to the poor and forget about giving it to the Church and then tell the bishop you are a full tithe payer. The fine print at the bottom of tithing slips says the Church can use your donation any way they want regardless of the category you put it in. So even if you put it all towards Fast Offering some flunky in the Church Office Building could redirect it towards the City Creek Mall.

  93. Lena Hansen

    It is not the responsibly of members of the church in the far-flung areas of the world to provide jobs to citizens of SLC. If SLC needs another mall, then the tax-payers or investors in SLC should be developing a mall, not members of the LDS, which is an international church not a SLC church. Are the LDS members in SLC willing to revitalize the downtowns of: Madrid, Buenos Aires, Tai Pei, Lagos etc…? Of course not! How ridiculous! The tax-paying or developers of those nations are responsible for providing jobs.
    As Christians it is our duty to provide for the fatherless, orphans,the poor of the world. Remember Primary Children’s Hospital? The LDS corporation sold it because “it did not make enough money”. A hospital is exactly the sort of charity a religious organization should provide, and it should give care free of charge to poor children around the world who need hospital care.

  94. Jeremy Spilsbury

    It is not idolatry but a matter of trusting the words of the Lord. Read Doctrine and Covenants 1:14 or Ephesians 4:11-14. His method of directing his works through prophets has been clearly established. He will not allow his church to be led by a fallen prophet. To do so would be unjust. Can you site one example of a man called as a prophet by God who became wicked and was not removed by the Lord?

  95. Bishop Anon Post author

    Steve Benson, the grandson of the prophet, concluded his grandfather was not leading the church. The Lord did not remove him for a long period of time despite his completely incapacitated state. Steve Benson was excommunicated for suggesting President Benson was not able to act as a prophet, let alone as a father or grandfather. The church today condemns Brigham Young’s treatment of blacks. Brigham taught “in the name of the Lord,” over the pulpit, what the church today is suggesting was “misleading” and incorrect doctrine. The Lord allowed Brigham to lead the church for 40 years. King David, some of whose Psalms we still cite as scripture, one could argue was never removed as King / prophet. He was a man after the Lord’s own heart. Yet, after his fall, although he may have lost some measure of personal salvation, he continued to reign and continued to write verses we still read as scriptures. The idea the Lord removes a prophet who is fallen so to speak, is a modern day false doctrine. The Lord is not bound by statements made by Wilford Woodruff or any other man and can remove a man from office or allow a man to stay in office as He chooses. He leaves bad bishops and Stake Presidents in office all the time, why not the same rule, predicated upon principles of agency, for all leaders in the church? Some of the following quotes reflect earlier beliefs about this idea:

    “…if He (God) should suffer him (Joseph Smith) to lead the people astray, it would be because they ought to be led astray…it would be because they deserved it…”
    Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 4:297-298 (In other words, God will let people be led astray, even by the prophet)

    “The First Presidency have of right a great influence over this people; and if we should get out of the way and lead this people to destruction, what a pity it would be! How can you know whether we lead you correctly, or not? Can you know by any other power than that of the Holy Ghost? I have uniformly exhorted the people to obtain this living witness each for themselves; then no man on earth can lead them astray.”
    Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 6:100

    “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind self-security, trusting their eternal destiny in the hands of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would thwart the purposes of God in their salvation…Let every man and woman know, by the whispering of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.”
    Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 14:205

  96. stockoneder

    If God wanted the church to make money because it lacked it, he could easily tell the leaders how to make billions in the stock market with very little money in a matter of days. Or he could tell them where hidden treasures, gold, oil, etc., are.
    Having a huge, diverse portfolio of investments has nothing to with the gospel.

  97. Jeremy Spilsbury

    The example of President Benson is not relevant to this topic. If he was incapacitated it was due to illness not disobedience. There is a huge difference. I do find it paradoxical that one would believe in a God of miracles but could not believe that an Omnipotent God could not intervene on President Benson’s behalf whenever it was required. Even in the event that he does not choose to intervene directly on the prophets behalf, he has a system established to ensure his church is properly led. This was addressed by Elder Nelson about in the most recent conference:

    “The principles and procedures which the Lord has put in place for the governance of His church make provision for any … circumstance. It is important … that there be no doubts or concerns about the governance of the Church and the exercise of the prophetic gifts, including the right to inspiration and revelation in administering the affairs and programs of the Church, when the President may be ill or is not able to function fully.

    “The First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles, called and ordained to hold the keys of the priesthood, have the authority and responsibility to govern the Church, to administer its ordinances, to expound its doctrine, and to establish and maintain its practices.”

    President Hinckley continued:

    “When the President is ill or not able to function fully in all of the duties of his office, his two Counselors together comprise a Quorum of the First Presidency. They carry on with the day-to-day work of the Presidency. …

    “… But any major questions of policy, procedures, programs, or doctrine are considered deliberately and prayerfully by the First Presidency and the Twelve together.”

    Your example of Brigham Young lacks context and a better understanding of how the Lord establishes doctrine. I agree that Brigham Young did teach some things about blacks that are not consistent with true doctrine. He was undoubtedly influenced to some degree by the prevalent beliefs of his day regarding race. However, what he taught cannot be considered doctrine because it does not meet the Lord’s requirement to qualify as church doctrine. The threshold for promulgating doctrine is recorded in D&C 107:27-31. It is a very high standard precisely because the Lord is very aware of man’s weaknesses and therefore takes necessary precautions to safeguard his church. Does Brigham Young’s lack of true understanding about the treatment of blacks make him a false prophet? I don’t think so. I think it is possible the saints at the time were probably not ready to accept the truth in this matter so the Lord did not reveal it at that time. By the way, Brigham Young did teach that the blacks would one day receive the priesthood and temple blessings. That prophecy certainly turned out to be true.

    The quotes you provide by Brigham Young are if statements used to emphasize a point and certainly not doctrinal. The Journal of Discourses is not canon and certainly does not satisfy the standard for establishing doctrine. This quote and source is very inadequate to prove anything.

    I’m not sure why you think David was a prophet. Samuel was the Lords prophet during King David’s reign. That David was anointed to be the Lord’s King is true but, ever since the Israelites decided to reject the Lord as their king and instead wanted to establish a king like their neighboring countries, the Lord gave them no assurance that they would be led by a righteous king. Rather, they were warned that they would suffer much due to wicked kings. So the same standard definitely does not apply here.

    And if he were to let his prophet remain in his post even after becoming fallen, would he reveal his will to the world through an anonymous blogger? Please offer the scriptural basis for this chaotic way of leading his church here upon the earth.

  98. Jeremy Spilsbury

    To do so would be contrary to his work and glory. Why did he have the poor saints sacrifice so much to build temples? Or why didn’t he temper the elements when they traversed the plains so that they didn’t suffer so much? This life is about toil. It is about progression and learning to become like Him. That doesn’t happen by having everything handed to us.

  99. Jeremy Spilsbury

    I don’t think the fact they are gentiles should have any bearing on it. We are all his children. There is something called creative destruction which is necessary for the betterment of civilization. There is a reason why the standard of living around the world has risen so precipitously in the last century. Private property rights are an indispensable aspect of it and I believe whomever owned that land before has the prerogative to do what they would like with it even if I don’t agree. You would have to do away with property rights otherwise. What do you think would be the economic consequences of that?

  100. tundraboar

    You assume Brigham’s pronouncements regarding race were false doctrine. If so, are you then saying Brigham was a false prophet? If that’s the case, you allow that there is no true line of authority from Joseph on and that today’s leaders have no authority either. Or, perhaps you simply did not understand the doctrine that Brigham was expounding upon? After all, who created the races? And why?

  101. Bishop Anon Post author

    Jeremy. I appreciate all your thoughts. Obviously we disagree and that’s ok. I will not overly belabor the debate and will let others add what they wish to. I will just say that nearly every prophet ever sent from God has been killed by the church. The greatest irony of all is that Christ’s own church killed him. God did not remove very many leaders of his churches during those times. I think that’s the distinction. You presume President Monson and the 15 men are all Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, in the truest definition of the terms. With no disrespect, I would say they are leaders. Inspired leaders on good days, like most of us. I respect and sustain them in their positions, but unless they prophesy, see, and reveal, I will not assume that which is not being demonstrated otherwise. Brigham Young stated:

    “…I don’t profess to be such a Prophet as were Joseph Smith and Daniel; but I am a Yankee guesser.”

    I respect Brigham Young as the successor as president of the church, but I will always measure what he says or anyone says against the standard. I’m not going to assume he was a prophet if he was not willing to say it himself.

    I also think it is incorrect to cite prophets such as Lehi and others, all of whom did not come from within the church or any church, but ironically who were called from outside of the church to cry repentance to the church. Jesus lamented time and time again that the church had killed all the prophets. Why would today be any different? Why would that risk or possibility now be removed?

    By the way, David has written a lot of scripture as did Solomon his son. I consider many of them revelations. I think most of Israel, Islam, and Christianity would be very offended by the idea of David not being a prophet. David was the Lord’s anointed King of Israel. Just as Nephi was king, he too was also a prophet. Not everything fits into today’s tidy “non-chaotic” LDS paradigm you seem to argue exists. Call it heresy, but I don’t believe God will force his church and its leaders to be righteous anymore than he didn’t force his ancient churches to be righteous.

    Thanks again for the comments. I appreciate your passion and wish you well.

  102. stockoneder

    Yes I do believe his policies on race were false doctrine for the reason cited in the blog post. It was false just like his doctrine on plural marriage/ Adam-God and blood atonement. 3 of those 4 have also been rejected by the “brethren”. I think current leaders do have priesthood authority received from JS and through BY but not the priesthood authority they claim to have. They don’t hold all the keys nor do any of them have the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood.

  103. tundraboar

    We will probably have to disagree on much of this. I do agree that none of the current leaders truly have any higher priesthood authority. I believe they are probably OK functioning at the Aaronic PH level. Regarding some of the other areas, I would suggest you spend a bit more time in study and pondering, particularly expanding your window of thought from a view as narrow as a single eternity to something approaching infinity. As part of this, consider what we have been told in the scriptures about intelligences, creation and life. I would suggest that everything that ‘lives’ possesses intelligence. I would also suggest that all intelligence begins at the same point and simply is, having no form or direction. Yet, all intelligence has the opportunity to grow and ultimately become something we consider to be ‘god’. Would you agree to that? If not, why not?

  104. Lena Hansen

    True! God gives us all enough rope to hang ourselves. We came down here to prove ourselves, leaders are no different. A simple review of the Doctrine of Salvation teaches us about the freedom to choose. Also take a look at Zenos’ allegory of the Tame and Wild Olive Trees in Jacob 5. The tops of the trees that are regularly pruned and burned are the hierarchy leaders of God’s people.

  105. Nephi Ephraim

    I have been asked HOW has the Church Leaders led us astray. And I reply, the FIVE exception Abortion Policy wherein any sister can murder he innocent unborn baby for “her health”. Not even Orrin Hatch agreed with the Church’s LIBERAL Abortion Policy. I have met too many LDS Sisters who have murdered their babies after “clearance” from their Bishops and after “praying about it” only to regret it later. LOL. I would NEVER subscribe to such a patently FALSE “policy” from the devil himself. Because my wife and I did NOT subscribe to this satanic policy, a baby that “was not going to make it” as THREE Licensed Medical Doctors told us, did make it and now she is the LIGHT of our lives. So, pray about that Abortion Policy of this Church and tell me THAT is the Word and Will of the LORD to this People.

  106. Ben

    I see why my comment is confusing. Let me try to explain my reasoning.

    A poor person has no surplus, therefore the poor wouldn’t be expected to pay anything until they actually had surplus.

    The reason I think surplus is harder for the rich to pay is because it keeps being tithed. If a person earns $10M one year, his increase was $1M, but his surplus may be $750k, so on surplus he’d pay $75k. The next year he still has $9M in the bank and earns another $1M. The rule of increase, he’d pay $100k, but based on surplus, he’d pay right around another $700k.

    The difference is a big deal, and fits perfectly with the Lord’s method of consecration: that we take from the rich and distribute it with those who have not.

    When you account for all the land, cash, investment money, etc. of the very wealthy, you can see how their ongoing, never-ending surplus is worth a whole lot more than their yearly increase.

  107. Ben

    For some reason the rest got cut off. Then consider that person starts starts earning drastically less. They still owe all their surplus.

    This is exactly what the rich despise paying. They don’t mind paying while they’re earning the big bucks, but once they start earning less, they do not like continually paying on the things they have, their surplus.

  108. Andy K.

    Jeremy, regarding your statement, “I’m not sure why you think David was a prophet”, please read Acts 2:29-30:

    Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore *being a prophet*, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

    If you don’t believe our anonymous bishop friend, I assume you consider the apostle Peter a good enough authority to accept that David was indeed a prophet. The more you go down the rabbit hole of what makes a prophet, the more you realize that God’s methods for calling prophets are not adequately explained by what we learned in primary growing up, or even what we learn in our Sunday School curriculum.

  109. Jeremy Spilsbury

    I wish you well also. I respect your right to express your opinion but, when you make what I consider reckless and unfair accusations in an attempt to impugn the position of God’s prophets, I am going to challenge your claims.

    Once again, you have cherry-picked facts and either through willful ignorance or an attempt to deliberately mislead, have ignored a whole body of evidence that would clearly contradict your interpretation of Brigham Young’s statement. Here is some context on the matter:

    “Brigham Young in saying that He did not profess to be a prophet seer & Revelator as Joseph Smith was, was speaking of men being born Natural Prophets & seers. Many have the gift of seeing through seer stones without the Priesthood at all. He had not this gift naturally yet He was an Apostle & the President of the Church & kingdom of God on the Earth and all the Keys of the Holy Priesthood & of Revelation was sealed upon him & the spirit & power of Revelation was upon him daily.” (Wilford Woodruff Journal 5:549-550)

    “I have never particularly desired any man to testify publicly that I am a Prophet; nevertheless, if any man feels joy, in doing this, he shall be blest in it. I have never said that I am not a Prophet; but, if I am not, one thing is certain, I have been very profitable to this people.” (Brigham Young, Sermon, October 7, 1864, JD 10:339)

    “It has been remarked sometimes, by certain individuals, that President Young has said in public that he was not a prophet nor the son of a prophet. I have travelled with him since 1833 or the spring of 1834; I have travelled a good many thousand miles with him and have heard him preach a great many thousand sermons; but I have never heard him make that remark in my life. He is a prophet, I am a prophet, you are, and anybody is a prophet who has the testimony of Jesus Christ, for that is the spirit of prophecy. The Elders of Israel are prophets. A prophet is not so great as an Apostle. Christ has set, in his Church, first, Apostles; they hold the keys of the kingdom of God. Any man who has travelled with President Young knows he is a prophet of God. He has foretold a great many things that have come to pass.” (Wilford Woodruff, Sermon, December 12, 1869, JD 13:165)

    See also Amos 7:14-16.

    I agree that King David was definitely a powerful instrument in the Lord’s hands and did receive many truths and revelations. My point about King David was that he was not the Lord’s preeminent spokesman on the earth at that time. His position would not be analogous to the position of our modern-day prophets. Samuel’s position was. The Lord directed Samuel to select and anoint David as King, not the other way around.

    We both seem to agree that it has always been the Lord’s pattern since the beginning of the world to reveal his will to his children through prophets. It seems that you also recognize the fact that in every case the Lord’s prophets have had their share of detractors and persecutors from both within and out of the church.

    If you do not believe that President Monson is the Lord’s prophet through whom he reveals his will unto the world, then who is it? Or does God no longer call prophets?

  110. Jeremy Spilsbury

    I would certainly defer to Peter on this matter but see my above statement for clarification.

  111. Bishop Anon Post author

    Great comment Andy. I think the challenge is that many LDS people assume that today’s “model” mirrors God’s practice from Adam forward. A “President Prophet” as Jeremy suggests, that God is obligated to honor as the Grand Keyholder, thus establishing a tidy organizational structure that even God must honor. Scriptures suggest that a prophet is simply someone who connects to heaven and is anointed directly by Him. Today we have so watered down the title of prophet that is means nothing in one sense (“He is a prophet, I am a prophet, you are, and anybody is a prophet…”) and everything on the other, where when HE speaks then let it be written, let it be done. When HE speaks, all other prophets (i.e. every man woman or child apparently who has “a” testimony of Jesus) must relegate their prophet status to the great and Mighty Keyholder. Who is a prophet today you ask? Well, for starters you should look at their fruits or at least what they say. If they never say, “I have seen Him, even on the right hand of God… Or the angel who visited me last night… or thus saith the Lord…” or a litany of other prophetic phrases, we can likely assume they are not prophets in the scriptural sense of the word. The full context of Jeremy’s quotes I think further illustrate that Brigham was smart enough to admit that he did not KNOW whether he was a prophet or not. In his last years though, he said he considered it one of the greatest regrets and lamentations of his life that he had never seen an angel nor the Lord. I will provide that reference once I get a chance for anyone who is interested. Thanks again Andy. You’ve contributed a lot to the conversation.

  112. Bishop Anon Post author

    I think you make a very valid point. A big surplus might be carried over each year. I had not thought of that before. Your other point is excellent. A poor person is likely to have no surplus and is thus not required to tithe. Most of us just fight over gross and net. Any donation the poor make is sacred and when wasted, the condemnation lies at the feet of those who are stewards of the funds.

  113. Ben

    @Bishop Anon: yes, that’s what I’m trying to show.

    I don’t mean to bombard this post, but I can see my posts trying to demonstrate this are impossible to follow — complete with bad math. This is for those who can’t see what I was trying to illustrate.

    # Rich Man Earnings

    For this, let’s give this fella the benefit of the doubt that he can live within $200k in righteousness (please don’t comment on this number being too high, it’s just for our example because it’s simple and I’m so bad at math).

    Year 1
    ======
    Increase: $10M
    New Surplus: $9.8M

    ### Tithing on increase
    Tithing Paid: $1M
    Total Surplus after tithing: $8.8M
    Total tithing paid: $1M

    ### Tithing on surplus
    Tithing Paid: $980k
    Total Surplus after tithing: $8.82M
    Total tithing paid: $980k

    Year 2
    ======
    Increase: $1M
    New Surplus: $800k

    ### Tithing on increase
    Tithing Paid: $100k
    Total surplus after tithing: $9.5M
    Total tithing paid: $1.1M

    ### Tithing on surplus
    Tithing Paid: $962k
    Total surplus after tithing: $8.658M
    Total tithing paid: $1.942M

    One thing to note: notice the rich man’s surplus slightly decreases in the surplus scenario, but the his surplus grows significantly in the increase scenario.

    # Poor Man Earnings

    Once again, please do not pay attention to the exact numbers, but the principle of paying tithing as explained by the Lord in our scriptures compared with how the LDS church has instructed us.

    Year 1
    ======
    Increase: $10k
    New Surplus: $0
    Total Surplus: $0
    Tithing based on increase: $1k
    Tithing based on surplus: $0
    Total paid based on increase: $1k
    Total paid based on surplus: $0

    Year 2
    ======
    Increase: $12k
    New surplus: $0
    Total surplus: $0
    Tithing based on increase: $1.2k
    Tithing based on surplus: $0
    Total paid based on increase: $2.2k
    Total paid based on surplus: $0

    The way the church has instituted tithing is nothing short of literally robbing from the poor to build fine sanctuaries.

    I’ll leave it to you all to consider what I’ve shown here: which method of tithing is designed to create “no poor among them”? Also please consider every single LDS scriptural example of tithing. I’m not pulling this out of my butt, they all demonstrate surplus, not this weird definition the church is following.

  114. Jeremy Spilsbury

    As Senator Moynihan once said ” you are entitled to your opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts.” Knowing the shortcomings and weaknesses of man the Lord established a high standard for establishing doctrine. He was not going to rely on a single man whom is subject to error from personal biases and imperfections. His standard is set forth in the D&C 107: 27-31, And since we are on the subject of Brigham Young, lets read what he taught on the subject:

    In trying all matters of doctrine, to make a decision valid, it is necessary to obtain a unanimous voice, faith and decision. In the capacity of a Quorum, the three First Presidents must be one in their voice; the Twelve Apostles must be unanimous in their voice, to obtain a righteous decision upon any matter that may come before them, as you may read in the Doctrine and Covenants. Whenever you see these Quorums unanimous in their declaration, you may set it down as true. Let the Elders get together, being faithful and true; and when they agree upon any point, you may know that it is true.(Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 9:91-92.)

    Robert Millet detailed the following test for determining bona fide doctrine:
    1 – Is it found in the canons of scripture and taught in the standard works?
    2- Is it found in official declarations or proclamations of the church from the First Presidency?
    3 – Is it taught regularly and consistently by the highest authorities of the church, typically at twice at annual General Conferences?
    4 – Is it found in the general handbooks of the church or its curricula?

    Rather than sharing your opinion this time, please provide references for the false doctrine regarding blacks that adhere to this standard.

  115. AT

    Kyle, thanks for your post. I’m at a similar place and have made a similar resolution – skipping the middle-man. Funny, I’ve made this move with some trepidation. I guess it just underscores how much I fear man.

  116. Jeremy Spilsbury

    A “President Prophet” as Jeremy suggests, that God is obligated to honor as the Grand Keyholder, thus establishing a tidy organizational structure that even God must honor.

    You really clobbered that straw man! I didn’t realize I believed that God was subject to his prophets or that the church was a tidy organizational structure. Probably because I don’t.

    We can read in the Doctrine and Covenants what the Lord intended for his prophet.

    D&C 1:38
    D&C 47:1-7
    D&C 58:18
    D&C 132:7

    Interesting that you should use the work keyholder pejoratively. Christ did posit the keys of the kingdom to his senior apostle Peter as we read in Matthew 16:19.

    Huh, I’m pretty sure I learned all these things in primary and in Sunday School.

  117. Bishop Anon Post author

    Jeremy,

    Let’s take your scriptures one by one and review what you say proves what God intends for his prophet:

    1) D&C 1:38. “whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” What’s your point? We agree that God speaks to his “prophets” and that when they speak in His name, and record scripture, they speak for Him. We just obviously don’t agree on what a prophet actually is. Let’s also not overlook the preceding verses that say a “man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—” and “And he that repents not, from him shall be taken even the light which he has received; for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts” and “I am no respecter of persons.” All of which seems to indicate that any man, or any servant or prophet can err, and lead others astray and have light taken from him. None of which states God will take away their agency or remove them as president when they sin or lead others astray.

    2) D&C 47:1-7: I have no idea what you want to prove with this section which is 4 verses long by the way, not 7, and in which John Whitmer is designated to keep the history of the Church and to write for the Prophet. I’m a little lost here.

    3) D&C 58:18: I’d add the context to this scripture which is about Edward Partridge —

    15 But if he (Edward Partridge) repent not of his sins, which are unbelief and blindness of heart, let him take heed lest he fall.

    16 Behold his mission is given unto him, and it shall not be given again.

    17 And whoso standeth in this mission is appointed to be a judge in Israel, like as it was in ancient days, to divide the lands of the heritage of God unto his children;

    18 And to judge his people by the testimony of the just, and by the assistance of his counselors, according to the laws of the kingdom which are given by the prophets of God.

    Jeremy, with all due respect, I have no idea what you wish to teach us? Is it that servants and prophets can fall too and God respects them no more than the rest of us? If so, we agree. Is it that the laws of the kingdom are given by prophets? If so we agree. Again, we just disagree on what a prophet is.

    4) D&C 132:7: I include the portion I think you wish to be your point… “(and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred)” —

    So, the sealing power, and some might say, the power to authorize plural marriage, lies in the hands of Joseph Smith in the last days. Again, what’s your point? If you’re suggesting that the sealing power of the almighty God was automatically transferred to anyone following him who occupied his seat as president, I say you have no idea what the sealing power really is. Look in the Book of Mormon for examples. If you say the sealing power is used today to do temple work, and is magically delegated to thousands of temple workers for the purposes of senselessly sealing every human to each other including Adolf Hitler, in a game of Family History Sudoku, I say again, you simply have no idea what the sealing power is.

    I’m not trying to insult you Jeremy. But it’s your condescending arguments that whimsically toss scriptures around that reinforce my concerns over our awful state as a church.

    It’s obvious that your intentions are good. It’s also obvious that you and many others in the church struggle with so many of us “active Mormons” having such thoughts and concerns about the direction of the church we have given our lives to. I get that. I can relate. But, it’s time for the church to stop fearing and silencing those of us who no longer believe their confusing interpretations and machinations of scripture. We speak because we care. We speak because we hope the church will correct its course. We speak because we no longer fear those in power. God is no respecter of persons and they who serve are not rendering accountability to those they are called to serve. We are calling them on it.

  118. Amos Johnson

    Sorry I am a little late to the thread but wanted to offer a different perspective to the overall topic. I am currently a Bishop outside the Mormon corridor. I agree with the idea that the “church” could do A LOT more on a global scale to put significant resources towards the poor and needy. I hope to work from within to be a voice to encourage that.

    However at the local level I have never felt limitations from church policy on who and how to help. Previous comments have indicated that bishops acted contrary to the spirit by following church policy and did not help those in need. That simply has not been my experience. I think there have been situations that warrant withholding resources, but many more where we were able to provide significant resources to help those in need.

    As to the original post, I’d suggest Bishop Anon was acting exactly as a bishop should when he met with the sister in need of furnace repair. I still believe going through the welfare training checklist in terms of self-reliance, asking family for help, etc. are appropriate and inspired steps and are very helpful in a lot of cases. They are also only guidelines and if the bishop went through the steps and decided to pay for the furnace that was probably inspired. I am curious why he felt the need to split the payment to avoid needing stake approval rather than asking the stake for approval.

    Also I am familiar with a $5000 limit for medical expenses from the handbook but I have not seen any other limits placed on bishops.

  119. Jeremy Spilsbury

    Bishop Anon, not sure why your comment I’m responding to doesn’t have a reply option like every other post, so this probably won’t get posted below your response and seem disconnected.

    D&C 1:38 – My point here is that God reveals his will through prophets. We agree on that. Can we agree that a prophet is a man? And if a man, then certainly an imperfect one since there is no alternative. I believe a prophet to be a man called and authorized by God to speak for Him and direct his work of salvation upon the earth and guide his church that he restored through the prophet Joseph Smith. The scriptures that “a man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh-“, and the others you cite, are not mutually exclusive, even though a prophet has an arm of flesh so to speak, since the prophet reveals the will of the Lord and not his own (the flesh).
    D&C 43:1-7 – I can understand your confusion here. It is section 43 not 47. Here the Lord makes clear that his commandments will given through those whom he appoints, being Joseph Smith at that time, but that this will always be his pattern, even after Joseph Smith. He also reveals that it will be a very open and transparent process before the church – “For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me shall come in at the gate and be ordained…”.

    D&C 58:18 – God establishes the laws of the kingdom through prophets. We agree here as well.
    D&C 132:7 – “…and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred…” Yes, I do interpret this to mean that the Lord has conferred the keys of the sealing power upon every successive prophet since Joseph Smith just as he conferred it upon Peter. Otherwise, everything is void after this life. And, this verse indicates that there will be one upon the earth to make sure this doesn’t happen. SInce Joseph Smith is no longer on this earth, I believe that person to be President Monson. I think verse 8 is very important to this conversation as well. “Behold, mine house is a house of order, saith the Lord God, and not a house of confusion.”

    I’m not sure how I’m being condescending. It is not my intention. I do find your following statement very condescending though, as well as insulting, which is what usually follows after a statement like “I’m not trying to insult you..” – “If you say the sealing power is used today to do temple work, and is magically delegated to thousands of temple workers for the purposes of senselessly sealing every human to each other including Adolf Hitler, in a game of Family History Sudoku, I say again, you simply have no idea what the sealing power is.”

    I am glad you approve of my intentions though. However, I really wish you would just stick to the topic though instead of advancing this caricature of the church that you have speciously constructed. No one is trying to silence anyone and no one fears you. Another straw man argument. Do you think you are a prophet?

    I speak because I love truth and I believe that you are misrepresenting it.

  120. Bishop Anon Post author

    Unlike Brigham Young and many presidents from him to present, I am gladly not in the difficult position of being called and idolized as a prophet, seer and revelator, while not being sure if am or am not. I KNOW I am not. And I will KNOW if I ever have such a privilege. The testimony of Jesus is far more than a testimony of Jesus.

    D&C 43 is a great section – thanks for redirecting us to the intended section.

    3 And this ye shall know assuredly—that there is none other appointed unto you to receive commandments and revelations until he be taken, if he abide in me (I believe Joseph was taken and so looking at the next few verses becomes really important in determining how we, the members, are to respond to the words and works of any successors)

    4 But verily, verily, I say unto you, that none else shall be appointed unto this gift except it be through him (One can reasonably ask, did Joseph transfer this gift being spoken of to Brigham? If so, when? If so, why did it take 3 1/2 years for Young to take the position of president? Why was he not unanimously approved by even the 12 let alone the people? Why was he not ordained to the office of president?); for if it be taken from him he shall not have power except to appoint another in his stead.

    5 And this shall be a law unto you, that ye receive not the teachings of any that shall come before you as revelations or commandments; (This is an incredible charge! Especially when measured against the charge Oliver Cowdery gave unto the 12 to not rest until they saw Christ, that it was their duty if they were to be true apostles.)

    7 For verily I say unto you, that he that is ordained of me (Men who obtain the sealing power are always ordained by HIM, as was Paul who then came into the gate that there might be order in the church which was being led by Peter, also one ordained directly by God.) shall come in at the gate and be ordained as I have told you before, to teach those revelations which you have received and shall receive through him whom I have appointed.

    6 And this I give unto you that you may not be deceived, that you may know they are not of me.

    So, if there is no claim today’s presidents are ordained directly by God, and we have no evidence that Joseph transferred the “gift” to Brigham or that Brigham transferred any gift to any man–why do we act as if we KNOW they are of Him and that we should receive their words as same as if from God’s mouth? I’m not able to say “I know” to any of that.

    If you’d like to continue to discuss this topic, feel free, but I will for now agree to disagree. I share your desire to find and embrace all truth. I sincerely hope we both find it. But to say people such as me are not being silenced in the church is simply not accurate. Everyone who questions the brethren is corrected and/or excommunicated, period. Hence, for now, the Anonymous Bishop. God bless you my friend. I hope you keep reading and participating. Feel free to reply, and please know that my non-response is not intended to infer I’m ignoring whatever questions or points you may wish to add.

  121. Jeremy Spilsbury

    Here are some statements that would contradict your narrow interpretation of those scriptures. All the following quotes with its source material, as well as many other quotes supporting the legitimate conferral of God’s authority to Brigham Young and subsequent prophets, is found by following this link:

    http://en.fairmormon.org/Criticism_of_Mormonism/Books/Passing_the_Heavenly_Gift/Claims_about_priesthood_ordination#cite_note-GLS-source-1

    “Whenever men can find out the will of God & find an Administrator legally authorized from God there is the Kingdom of God but whare these are not, the Kingdom of God is not[.] All the ordinances Systems, & Administrations on the earth is of no use to the Children of men unless they are ordained & authorized of God for nothing will save a man but a legal Administrator for none others will be acknowledge either by God or Angels. (Wilford Woodruff Journal (22 January 1843), cited in WJS, 158.)
    In any case, we should not be surprised that many prophets granted the sealing power would have a theophany experience—those in scripture are often the founding prophet of a dispensation or for a specific group of people. A theophany is their only option, since no legal administrator is to be found.

    “The death knell … claim that mortals cannot be involved in the transfer of the highest priesthood power occurred on 27 August 1843, when Joseph spoke of Abraham’s receipt of “a blessing under the hands of Melchesideck even the last law or a fulness of the law or preisthood which constituted him a king and preist after the order of Melchesideck or an endless life.”[20] This is significant for two reasons—(1) it defines precisely how Joseph saw the “fullness of the priesthood,” the last and final power that could be given on earth: he spoke of it in the same terms used to describe the higher temple ordinances; and (2) Joseph declares that Abraham received it by ordination under the hands of another mortal.[21] The Prophet offers as a paradigmatic example—for who can be a greater disciple than Abraham?—“

    In the month of February, 1848, the Twelve Apostles met at Hyde Park, Pottawattamie County, Iowa, where a small Branch of the Church was established….We were in prayer and council, communing together; and what took place on that occasion? The voice of God came from on high, and spake to the Council. Every latent feeling was aroused, and every heart melted. What did it say unto us? “Let my servant Brigham step forth and receive the full power of the presiding Priesthood in my Church and kingdom.” This was the voice of the Almighty unto us at Council Bluffs, before I removed to what was called Kanesville. It has been said by some that Brigham was appointed by the people, and not by the voice of God. I do not know that this testimony has often, if ever, been given to the masses of the people before; but I am one that was present, and there are others here that were also present on that occasion, and did hear and feel the voice from heaven, and we were filled with the power of God. This is my testimony; these are my declarations unto the Saints—unto the members of the kingdom of God in the last days, and to all people.
    We said nothing about the matter in those times, but kept it still

    Alma, Heber, Brigham, and the Twelve could claim God’s power and authority—all had heard the voice of God. Callings and elections could be made sure without a dramatic vision.[32] Might it not be sign-seeking for Brigham to insist upon a theophany when Joseph had already given him a revelation regarding his status? “Blessed are they,” said the risen Lord, “that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:27).
    sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will (D&C 88:68, emphasis added).

    Ultimately, I believe we must go directly to our Heavenly Father to know the truth.God as taught throughout the scriptures. One of my personal favorite scriptures that teaches how to do this is in D&C 136:32

    Let him that is ignorant learn wisdom by humbling himself and calling upon the Lord his God, that his eyes may be opened that he may see, and his ears opened that he may hear;

  122. tundraboar

    Stockoneder,

    You believe this because you chose to believe it. However, you fail to understand deeper concepts that are basic to true understanding. The essay you reference is based on one dimensional understanding and what someone perceives, not necessarily on foundational principles. If you ever decide to go to that level, let me know and we can discuss it. (I note that you never responded to my earlier questions.)

  123. Michael

    I’m sorry to hear about your experience. It makes me sick when faithful members are turned away like this. Absolutely disgusting.

    Three years ago, after coming to the conclusion that something was seriously amiss with a church that built luxury condos and an upscale mall, I quit paying and kept my tithing so I could decide what to do with it. Over $80,000 paid in just the time I’ve been married (16 years at that point). It probably goes without saying that I’m just a bit angry and upset about the whole situation, but I feel now that at least I have some control over what happens – even if I need to use the money to buy groceries.

    I cannot imagine that the Lord would find the kind of behavior your experienced acceptable in the least and you have my sincerest sympathies.

  124. Michael

    The money the government “gives” was actually stolen under the guise of taxation.

    The money the church “gives” consists of voluntary contributions of its members. Those donations are given by many church members for the purpose of helping their fellow man – not for building up Babylon.

  125. Jeremy Spilsbury

    Yes, it is and I have read your article. I totally agree that the doctrine of the church has always been that everyone is made in the image of God and has full access to all of our Heavenly Father’s blessings.

    You are wrong to characterize what was said or taught by Brigham Young or any other church leader that goes contrary to this doctrine as church doctrine. Their comments do not satisfy the high threshold for promulgating doctrine. I find absolutely nothing in your blog that proves otherwise.

  126. Lena Hansen

    I feel badly for those senior missionaries. Imagine taking time away from their lives and families (I hope they aren’t having to “pay” for their mission) to be unpaid service workers for wealthy LDS. No wonder the church has a hard time finding a replacement.

  127. AV

    Andy,

    I have been a worthy member all my life too, mission temple marriage, etc. just like you. But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t come to realize how apostate the church is and has always been, even started by false prophets who have never followed Christ.

    If you believe in following Christ instead of men, then you would be willing to make an ever greater statement by giving your tithes and offerings, even ‘all’ your excess (as commanded by Christ), to the fatherless and poor around you and not give it to church leaders who have proven they are not righteous and trustworthy to distribute it as Christ has commanded.

    Who do you care to please more, God or church leaders?

    No matter how sincere our beliefs and actions, if we do not follow Christ and thus are deceived to fall for the commandments and philosophies of men and false prophets, then we will not be able to gain eternal life.

    What doth it profit us to gain the respect of Church leaders and lose our soul?

  128. AV

    Even Pres. Hinckley stated that men are the cause of most divorces, either by abandoning the wife or by abusing her so she has to separate from him. Of all the many single mothers I have known almost all have been abused by their husbands during the marriage.

    But I do realize that there are many wonderful husbands who are abused and abandoned by their wife also, but it is still vital that husbands continue to support their wives even if she has unjustifiably left and divorced him, because then the children would not suffer more from losing both parents, one by divorce and the other by having to work.

    God has made it clear that men should be the one to support women with children, so she can focus on raising them well and taking care of them. Small children especially need to be with their mother full time.

    A divorced father doesn’t have to take custody away from the mother in order to be with his children alot, he can live next door and be loving, kind and respectful to the mother and serve her so she will want him to be with the children as much as he can.

    And just because a man may be paying child support doesn’t mean that is sufficient, it is usually a very small amount and most single mothers still have to work to provide for their children and her. Most single mothers that I know don’t ever receive the child support they should, for the men usually become inactive or little is done to see that husbands pays this support.

  129. Anonymous

    Jeremy, I’ve struggled to reply to your comments because I wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t be returning reviling for reviling. Because that’s not my goal. And I hope not yours. And I am going to trust that it is not and assume what feels contentious to me is only the result of electronic communication not being very conducive to open, healthy conversation.

    That said, I do want to address somewhat head on the method of responding even though I accept the possibility of futility. I do it more in the spirit of hoping that perhaps we can find a way to communicate with each other that is uplifting, humble, and merciful. Because, if I am off path there is nothing that I would like more than for someone to help me find that path again. My human frailty makes it so that I don’t like being wrong; but my sincere desire to find the gate and keep the path makes it so that I’d rather know what is right than to be right.

    I appreciate your response. I am grateful for your passion and emotional investment in your beliefs. I understand the desire to project intelligence to give credence to an idea. What I would suggest though is that if the idea truly has credence then one has no need to validate it with the merits of their “own strength”. I had the privilege of participating in a Washington DC think tank for many years that is focused on solving technology, economic, and political challenges which are faced by governments, organizations, and even countries. But I tell you that not to establish myself but to explain my realized weakness. What I learned from that experience more than anything was that I really know very little at all. Secondary to that, I learned to stop looking to human idols that we have assumed deserve some sort of artificial deference for their fame, scholarly accolades, or position. In short, I believe that you may have as much to offer as anyone may in exposing truths. And it is with that spirit that I set out to read your response. So to be blunt, I ignored the devices employed and focused on your perspective and message with the hope that it may lead me and others to a greater light.

    I visualize that Zion will be as free market a society as we could imagine. While there are many parts of me that may be cast as granola, I am a free market capitalist at heart. I lament our (US) current state and long for purity in our economic system. To that point, I own or invest in several of my own businesses. So I think if I understand correctly, that you and I may build on a common belief in the merits of a free market.

    I found it interesting and the cause of a great deal of thought for me when you used the idea of communism as a reason to challenge the ideas of the blog post and my comment. Would you agree that very simplified that communism is the establishment of a government for which purpose is to control social and economic conditions with the goal to (forcefully) establish commonality among its citizens? Maybe I should stop there and await your answer. But since this is a less efficient form of communication I’m going to have to go forward with the assumption that you do and adjust later if I find out you don’t. And would you agree that Zion may not be so much different in its intent but that in its execution that it varies deeply? That is, that in Zion we may have “all things in common” but that it is realized by the individual hearts of each person with a desire to contribute to that consecrated state through their own personal self-governance? In Zion, will the free market be one that is supported by non-government entities? And in Zion, what entity do you see acting as the government? And if those members of Zion that are contributing to that government (albeit a benevolent one) have no visibility or influence (common consent) on how those contributions are allocated, does that just become taxes that are controlled by whatever small group make up the governing?

    Another thing that you mentioned that I think was worth considering – though I assume you are responding to the article since I don’t believe I said that the mall came from tithes – is that the mall was not built from tithe money. My first reaction was, “how would we know?” The only entity privy to give an accounting of that would be the entity stating that. For me, that rings too much of the old adage of the fox guarding the hen house; particularly when that fox has explicitly stopped accounting at all on the hen house. So I suppose on that part of the conversation that my frailty is that I am a doubting Thomas. And I also suppose that we can leave that there as an emblem of my weakness because I can’t see how we could resolve that otherwise under present circumstances.

    However, what your comment did also push me off into considerable thought of is the corporate elements of the church. If the money didn’t come from tithing then it seems it came from (at least as I read the fairmormon apologist statement on the matter) the proceeds of previous business ventures. [As an aside – which I am going to leave here for this conversation – my instinct is that anything that is given to the church is a tithe in its most fundamental state.] However, your comment set me to think, should the church have any corporate entities? In assessing those kinds of things, I like to go review the church of the New Testament and if from there I can’t find anything clear then I like to look at the community under Joseph Smith. And I will openly say that I don’t exactly know how things were under Joseph. I understand that he had a store but I don’t know that it was the property of or managed by the church. My understanding is that there were lands that it may have owned but I don’t know that it was for industry or generating capital; or if so to what end that capital was used. That’s something I have on my list of things to study and so I genuinely appreciate the challenge that your thought generated. And of course I would appreciate the contributions of any in my edification on the matter.

    A couple of other thoughts. Having spent a considerable amount of time in Africa (in some of the more unsavory locations like Djibouti, Somalia, and the DRC) – including some time establishing philanthropic organizations (not to my credit at all; I was nothing more than the tool and deserve no recognition in that effort) – I would agree that the continent (at least what I have been exposed to) is riddled with corruption; particularly at the government level. However, it is nothing more than my opinion that the culture is the largest contributor to holding people in poverty. I do believe that governments often influence greatly the culture of the country. And so in that framing agree that poverty and misery are the providence of governments. However, as you lauded, self-sufficiency would go a long way to raise the standard of living for many that live even in those corrupt settings and substandard conditions. I can tell you that in my small scope of experience that there are those there that do not rely at all on the government. They grind every day. And the significant majority of that group have elevated their living conditions regardless of the oppression of a government that plagues their lives the same as their neighbors. And even more, when you find those with that mentality, a small amount of assistance becomes a force multiplier to their success. So I respectfully disagree with you. I believe with all sincerity that the single greatest cause of poverty is individual. And I am not capable of judging the reason that each individual may be in such a state; so for myself I choose to try be personally liberal (I’m not asking to control how you or anyone else spends their money; influence maybe – but not control) and strive to create commonality. That does include contributions of time as much as it does monetarily; and that time helps me to better understand how best to apply monetary contributions. And truthfully my monetary contributions are scarcely a sacrifice. Unlike the poor widow, I don’t give of my want; and I hope to develop the faith to get better in that.

    Related to government though, I do want to second and add on to your description of corrupt governments. As we saw intimately in Somalia in the 90s – and have seen so many other times and places – it is the character of a corrupt government to withhold life giving aid to those that are in need. So many gave of their wealth and their want to support those in need and those corrupt governments lamentably withheld from those in need. And sadly, it doesn’t seem dramatic to apply that here with the same level of gravity. To the best of my understanding, that body that governs the contributions of its faithful members with the goal of inviting Zion has chosen to withhold significant means in the provision of life giving aid. I think that characteristic has lamentably earned the description of corrupt as you have described.

    And of course I personally think we can’t overlook the actual object that the church invested in. And I think Rock addressed that in specificity better than I did so I won’t rehash that.

    Related to Lehi’s murmuring and Nephi’s reaction, I actually read the scriptures differently. I think that Nephi is being sensitive in his writing but I believe that Nephi did talk with his whole family that murmured. Nephi says in v23 that he asked his father where he should go for food and the scriptures say that he (Lehi) did inquire of the Lord because Nephi said many things to them with all the energy of his soul. Then the voice of the Lord came to Lehi and chastened him. I am of the opinion that as a sincere servant of his father that Nephi spoke against the behavior. Not with the goal of setting himself up as a light in his father’s place. But with the goal of helping his father be successful in following the will of the Lord.

    And I believe that somewhere else you already posted and had someone respond sincerely with several examples of why I believe that men can lead the church astray. And I believe that the scriptures are replete with examples of where men have.

    Finally, again, I am grateful for your thoughts and passion. I can’t reach my salvation by using you as a steppingstone. Nor should I want to. So please know that I mean nothing in this comment contentiously. I sincerely appreciate the dialogue and hope we can continue it with the goal to have the Spirit carry intelligence to our hearts. I look forward to your sincere thoughts.

  130. AV

    Jeremy,

    God didn’t ask the Saints to sacrifice to build temples, that was asked by men who refused to follow Christ and teach people to give ‘all’ their excess directly to the poor and not to leaders who would pocket some of the money themselves and use the rest on temples, churches, missions or malls instead of the fatherless & poor.

    And thus it wasn’t God either who told the people to traverse the plains to follow Brigham Young, for he was one of the falsest prophets who ever lived, thus righteous Saints refused to follow him and thus didn’t have to suffer from that trial.

    God is not at all about suffering, he is continually trying to get to be wise and avoid suffering if we can and commands us to relieve all the suffering of others around us or else our prayers are in vain.

  131. Jeremy Spilsbury

    Bishop Anon,
    I think you are misreading the tone of my posts. I have absolutely no ill-will or feel any animosity toward you. I have tried very carefully to only criticize your arguments and not you personally. If I have not lived up to that ideal, then I have acted wrongly and apologize. Despite my strong disagreement with your post and the way you arrive at your conclusions, I have no reason to think you are anything but a good man.
    Without detailing anew the various points of disagreement, I would just like to restate my principal reason. I feel you are very unfair in your condemnation of our church’s leadership. When you juxtapose a picture of the mall with a picture of starving children, among other things, I think you are clearly trying to infer that they are indifferent to the sufferings of others. I find this to be extremely repugnant (not you, just this action). I believe these men take nothing more seriously than their charge to administer to those in need. I think anyone could easily portray an exemplary person in a negative light by only focusing on his or her mistakes, or by taking their actions out of context. How can you accuse these men, whom have dedicated their lives to the service of their God and fellowmen, with something as serious as misappropriating sacred funds when you cannot possibly have all the necessary facts in your possession? I realize that because you, me, or anyone else cannot possibly know all the reasons for why certain decisions are made, that just like other aspects of the gospel, faith is required. I also realize that even though I believe these men to be Prophets, Seers, and Revelators in the truest sense, they are still men and should not be held to the unrealistic standard of perfection. However, I do not believe that if there are mistakes made that they are of such a serious nature as you suggest.
    With respect to your question about tithing funds being intermingled with the church’s for-profit entities, I would point out that to do so would be a federal crime and jeopardize the non-profit status of the church. Granted, this is not the reason why they don’t do this. But, if they did, is there any doubt the IRS would zealously go after them?
    I do agree with your description on the economic order of Zion. Where I disagree is how you define common consent. I believe it is very different from a democratic form of government. We don’t vote on our leaders. They are chosen by God through revelation. We have the option to sustain them but we don’t get to overrule God.
    I think it is also important to point out that tithing is not our money. It is the Lord’s. When we don’t pay it, then we rob God; when we do pay it, it does not entitle us to have a say in the decision making process of the church.
    I realize the scriptures are full of examples of men leading others astray. My challenge is to find an example in the scriptures where God’s preeminent prophet (analogous to our modern-day prophet) was allowed to lead his children astray like you claim is being done today.
    I appreciate and share your same desire that we might be enlightened by the Spirit to enable us to better understand and live according to truth.

  132. Anonymous

    Jeremy, I’m guessing comment nesting can only go so far since I can’t reply to your latest comment. It is of little consequence but just wanted to make sure you knew that I am not the Bishop Anon. I only say that so that he isn’t saddled with being considered responsible for my thoughts.

    As you said, there may be some things that we are just going to remain in contrasting thought on today. I just wanted to respond to the opening paragraph (below for reference) though and thank you for the clarification and apologize to you for any inference I made incorrectly.

    “I think you are misreading the tone of my posts. I have absolutely no ill-will or feel any animosity toward you. I have tried very carefully to only criticize your arguments and not you personally. If I have not lived up to that ideal, then I have acted wrongly and apologize. Despite my strong disagreement with your post and the way you arrive at your conclusions, I have no reason to think you are anything but a good man.”

    I hope that you have a great Christmas holiday brother.

  133. Toni Bate

    It is interesting that some point to kind (or unkind) bishops to prove what the general rulers in the church are doing.

    I have had some great and incredibly helpful bishops and wards for the most part. Awesome men who deserve accolades. But they are not the ones using the Lord’s money and the Lord’s interest to pay themselves and mission presidents. They are not responsible for funneling money away from the poor and into great and spacious buildings built for pride and “show”.

    I have also had and seen bishops who think they do God and the Church a service by refusing to help the suffering poor.

    My awakening came when I realized that if I had not paid tithing, I not only would have been able to buy food for us, I would have been able to have a greater choice.

    I also realized something else: “The evils of a dole” only applies to the poor. I have doled out thousands of dollars to the church and it went into the possession of the general authorities, who have been and are a thousand times wealthier than I, yet they have not cleaned my house nor done anything to pay me for this dole. The bishops who have helped me did not have access to my tithing. That was sent to Salt Lake City.

    Those who give the church money should have that subtracted from what they “owe” the church for financial aid – as long as we continue to be a Babylonic church.

    If we desire to be a church of Christ, there should be no score-keeping on either side. Money or goods should be freely given if there is a need if we have the means to give. If we have no means, we should not be punished for not giving.

    I have a place to live, a car and a job as a direct result of those who chose to pay tithing directly to those in need (I could not have even applied for the job without a car; it was a prerequisite for applying). In turn, I pay my tithing the same way – first providing for myself and family and going out from there.

  134. AT

    A response to Jeremy 12/14/2014 10:12 PM

    Jeremy,

    You ask, “How can you accuse these men… with something as serious as misappropriating sacred funds when you cannot possibly have all the necessary facts in your possession?”

    We shouldn’t have to accuse in the absence of facts. They are supposed to share those facts with us (as per the D&C), but they do not.

    If I were to spend somewhere between $3 – $5 BILLION dollars on a mall while, as we are constantly assured, I’m very very aware of all that’s happening with members throughout the world, including their suffering, how is that not indifference? If I were to make such an expenditure, wouldn’t there be an obligation to the people who sacrificed to give me the money (expecting it to be used to help people) to explain why I made this choice?

    Later, you write, “I realize that because you, me, or anyone else cannot possibly know all the reasons for why certain decisions are made…” Why not? Are not we to operate through common consent? (again, look this up in the D&C) You say we don’t vote on our leaders. Sorry, we do. It always hasn’t been the rubber-stamp it is now. In early days in the Church, people took their vote more seriously than they do today – including (maybe particularly) when Joseph Smith was alive.

    That whole thing about “robbing God” – that is actually directed to the Church leaders who were not doing with the tithing funds as they were supposed to – not to the ones paying the tithes. (Note: I’m not suggesting not to pay tithing, I’m suggesting the passage is actually more in support of Bishop Anon than you might at first think)

    I do agree with your concluding statement though… Tithing belongs to God. I suspect he takes the sacrifices of those who pay it seriously. I also suspect he expects it to be used as he directs. One then needs to ask, does God build great and spacious buildings?

  135. AT

    Jeremy,

    This one is easy. Each dispensation ended with a prophet who became wicked and was not removed by the Lord. That has to be part of the process, no? I don’t have specific names, though – I just know it happened.

    Now, you may say that we have something different in this dispensation. You’ll point to one comment by Wilford Woodruff and then a host of requoting of that statement. However, I find it interesting to note that Joseph Smith was constantly concerned about being led astray – while now we’re assured there’s no need to worry.

    We may be in a somewhat unique position in these days though. In 3 Nephi 16 (see also chapters 20 and 21 to flesh out what he’s explaining), the Savior tells us that as the Church goes into apostasy in our times, the gospel will not be removed from the earth, but given to the remnant (well, maybe there’s a gap, I guess it’s not as explicit as I thought). Now, I suppose everything the Savior describes in v. 10 could happen with a functioning prophet at the helm. But, in your thinking about a prophet who cannot lead a people astray, does that also implicitly suggest that the Church will not go astray as well?

  136. Brent Crash Allen

    As an “inactive” I’ve still pay a tithe because my wife is a beleiver. I would love to at least earmark my donation by putting it in as a fast offering. She feels strongly that such an act renders the offering moot and it isn’t an honest tithe…

    Thank you for the information, I will use it in future discussions .

  137. Rebecca C

    I’ve never understood fast offerings my whole life. In fact, I could hardly afford them with all the tithing I was paying, and struggling to pay . It never came easy for us as a one income family, and I never got a big unexpected check in the mail, or whatever everyone else talks about. We got into credit card debt over and over again to make ends meet. We’d pay it off, but it would inevitably creep upp again. I feel angry that the church demamds my money to the point that I dont have enough for my family, and I dont have enough for any charity, and my money goes to carry those rich apostles, some of whom have 2 vacation homes in Heber City, a very rich area. I feel sad that I missed many chances to help people by thinking that my tithing would take care of them. Geez, why dont thise people just go take advantage of those church programs. I pay my tithing, so there must be programs, yet they refuse to help themselves. Those are some of the stupid, prideful thoughts I used to have. This year things are different, and they always will be different from now on, come what may. I will never fall in that mindset again. My eyes are open.

  138. Shadrak

    All donations are sent to HQ, no funds are kept locally, nor is there any option to keep them local. I believe bishops are told to spend what is needed and to not be limited to only FO collected by the ward. e.g. if a ward collects $1000/month but needs to spend $2000, that’s ok.

  139. Anon

    Kyle,

    We have very few of Christ’s words and teachings that he gave during his ministry, in fact probably less then 1%. I’m sure Christ didn’t mean to just unthinkingly give all our excess money to the poor without making sure they aren’t taking advantage of us.

    I’m sure Christ understood that most poor men just need a job, not a handout, and that helping them a job or 2 would be the best thing for them. Financially supporting able-bodied men who can and should work does not help them.

    I’m sure that Christ meant for us to only support the ‘truly’ poor, meaning all single mothers (the fatherless), elderly or the disabled, those who can’t work or should not work cause it would cause them to neglect their children or grandchildren & family.

    Those who truly follow Christ don’t give their excess money to men who claim to be prophets yet pocket some of the money themselves & use most of it on spacious buildings and businesses, rather then for the poor as Christ commanded, for those are the very things false prophets do.

    People who really follow Christ give ‘all’ their excess (not just 10%) directly to those who truly need it. They don’t trust men or churches,to take care of the poor for them, for as we see, they all prove to be untrustworthy.

  140. Albert

    What’s also interesting is that the Adventists, having started 20+ later than we did, have a larger church membership – and all without the tremendous expense and sacrifice of the institutionalized missionary program we have…

  141. Albert

    This of course ignores the fact that the top leadership is not selected by us, it is self-selecting by the elite. Nor do we actually get to discuss who’s “called”, much less to actually “vote” / give “common consent” – do you know how objectors are treated ? Just as with the government, we the little people have no say, are ignored and run over rough-shod. It’s a vicious loop – “follow the prophet / the leaders speak for God / they cannot lead us astray” = You have no rights, no say, no useful or needed opinion / perspective. Yet ~ To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men ~ Silence denotes consent ~ Short of direct intervention from God, nothing can, nothing will change until we demand that it change… We’re in a real bind here.

  142. Albert

    Idea: You might point out to her from the Doctrine & Covenants (Section 119) that an honest tithing, a tenth, is taken from surplus not from gross – and do a little horse-trading maybe… As in, “I’ll chip in 10%” of the surplus as Tithing (after the reasonable and necessary cost-of-living expenses that make the surplus possible) ~ and if you absolutely insist that the total be 10% of gross, then the difference goes to Fast Offerings on the form. That’s what I’m going to do.

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  145. M

    Wow, you discussed so many of my concerns. Need to process this, but my first question is what do you think we as faithful members should do? I’ve been thinking about spending my tithing on non-church humanitarian efforts, or donating all to fast offerings. Conflicted on this one.

  146. Robert Sinclair

    The best thing members can do is to sound the alarm, and blow the trumpet in Zion, over the perversion of equity in the church, of no all things common among them being taught or lived by the leaders of the church, that the old men that lead might give ear, and hear, and consider their responsibility to lead the people to being equal in their temporal things and this not grudgingly.

    By first reading the “law” to be embraced by the church in section 42 of the D&C of as in the year of Jubilee, returning to all their portion of land and home food and raiment, from the tithes and offerings, first before any “residue” yes “residue” yes “residue” is used for temples or buildings of any kind or lands purchased for the public benefit of the members.

    This by imparting unto the poor, covenants and deeds of title to homes and lands that cannot be broken, from the assets of the church, and a call put out to the rich and learned, the wise and noble of the church, to assist with this feast of fat things for the poor among them.
    That the “foundation” given for the church, which none are exempt from, of being equal in their temporal things, as given in section 70 of the D&C might be obeyed.

    This as given in section 105 that it is the “church” and not individuals, that has not learned to impart as the Gospel of Jesus Christ requires.

    They currently rob the poor of the tithes and properties consecrated, imparting not one single deed to any of them as commanded of God.

    Sept 22, 2015 they ought to atone as the children of Israel are to do, beginning at sundown with broken hearts and contrite spirits, on this coming most holy day of Atonement, and covenant with God to return to keep his commandments which he has given them, to be equal in their temporal things for homes and lands, food and raiment, by imparting covenants and deeds of title unto the poor of their church.♡

  147. Bishop Anon Post author

    I’ve heard of some who are giving directly to organizations that are non church related or who are giving their tithing as a fast offering to the church. I think this is a great question for the Lord. :-). I personally love to see tithing bless people more directly and in addition to tithing like to give anonymously to people in need.

  148. Harry Foster

    We should remember that it is our responsibility to follow the words of the Apostles and Prophets.
    It’s my understanding that the first step on the road to apostasy is to thinking that the Apostles and Prophets don’t know what they are doing. As if our ways were better than their ways.
    I can understand the thinking that “the Church” should spend it’s money on helping people rather than putting up billboards in Times Square.
    But, our ways are not His ways.
    If the Lord wants money spent on billboards rather than being used directly for the poor, isn’t that His decision? We don’t know how many people will join the Church because of that billboard. Or donate to the Church because of that billboard. Assumptions are being made.
    This is the True church of Jesus Christ. We have a larger mission than other Churches. We can’t do everything at once.
    We don’t know what the long term plan is. Perhaps the Lord needs to maximize the revenue that is brought in at this time. Perhaps it needs to be saved for the future.
    Let’s have some faith here that our leaders in tune with the Spirit and know what they are doing with the sacred funds of the Church.
    Many times we setup false Dichotomy’s: Either I break the rule and purchase a furnace for the widow or she freezes. There are other options. We’re a Ward family right? Petition members of the Ward to help. If that means that they direct their fast offering funds to the furnace rather than the Ward Fast Offering fund for that month, then that’s their decision. There are many wealthy people in the Ward that could probably just pay for the lady’s furnace directly. Lot’s of options.
    The theme of some of these posts is basically, “The Church is doing the wrong thing with it’s money.” Keep in mind that if there’s a problem, it’s the Lord’s problem and He’ll get it fixed when it’s in His time table. It’s not your problem.
    And to many of the commentators, remember that it’s easy to poke fun or say that what other’s say and do is wrong. It’s better for us to do as Jesus taught and pluck the mote out of our own eye’s.

  149. Robert Sinclair

    The law to be embraced by the church in D&C 42 is for a “first consecration” to the poor of covenants and deeds, that cannot be broken or taken back, for these poor of the church, sufficient for their support, from the bishops hands.

    Next step was to use the “residue”, yes that is what is written in the law, “residue” after from the storehouse treasury, for additional poor, and for buildings of worship, and to purchase lands ect, for the public needs and wants of the members.

    So first homes and lands, that the members might have all stewardships of inheritances, to live and pray and work from, unoppressed as to a safe sanctuary where they could live, free from fear of being cast out onto the street.

    Then go and build all the buildings and purchase all the tracts of land, and invest in whatsoever your hearts desire, for the public benefit of the members.

    This to lay the foundation of the true church of the living God, that none are exempt from as recorded in Section 70, that the members be equal in there temporal things first, no poor among them, for homes and lands, food and raiment, before you lay one single brick, for a house of worship, otherwise, you set these things made by the hands of man, to adore, above the needs of the poor.

    The LORD knew Ephraim, would willingly walk away from this law, thousands of years earlier, and told the prophet Hosea, to marry a wife of whoredoms, and have children of this wife of whoredoms, for Ephraim, after being given the greater things of God’s law, of being equal and this not grudgingly, would consider this a strange thing, and go a whoring away from this law, and before amending their ways and their doings, go ahead and build temples anyways.

    These things must need to have come to be, for Hosea to be proven a true prophet of the LORD, and so it is, that Judah had their turn building two temples, both destroyed, now it is Ephraims turn to build many temples, as altars to sin, and set above the law of God, to be equal in their temporal things, and this not grudgingly.

    Now that this lofttiness and perversion of equity in this vineyard of the LORD, is committed in his vineyard, a cry must go forth of his sheep, to weep and howl, and sound the alarm of these things, that the prayer might go up of the servant of the LORD, to spare this vineyard a little longer, as is written in Jacob 5, that Ephraim might acknowledge this offence, and finally fullfill Hosea 14:8, and bring forth fruits equal and delightful unto the LORD, most precious unto the LORD.

    This is a time, to sound the alarm, and spare not, but to shew his people their trsnsgression agsinst his law, of distribution of all assets, as Peter and the “Twelve” apostles, did in Christ’s first true church, where they had “All things common among them” as a testament of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, from the House of Judah.

    And also a second witness and testament of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ being lived, in 3rd and 4th Nephi, another testament that the “Twelve” apostles, of the Nephites, set up “All things common among them”, of the House of Joseph of Manasseh.

    Now it is Ephraim’s turn, and honor, calling and election, to set up this standard, and ensign, and light, unto the nations of the earth, of “All things common among them”, but Ephraim is like unto a silly dove, and and unwise son, that feeds on the precepts, and wind of men. Staying ever so long in the place of the breaking forth of the children of God.

    So be in pain, O House of Ephraim, and push, and labor to bring forth the child of Zion.

    Be ashamed O ye husbandmen and vinedressers, and give ear ye old men, and consider that the harvest of the field is perished, and the vineyard of the LORD has been eaten up, where even the bark has been stripped off the branches of the trees, as is written in the Book of Joel, testified no less than 4 times repeated to Joseph Smith from Moroni, would soon come to pass, see Joseph Smith 2.

    All these things must needs be, to fullfill the grand “Script” of the scriptures of God.

    Let us all pray the bride can finally be brought out of the closet that the bridegroom may come forth and bless us, and that Hosea 14:8 is fullfilled soon, and that by next April 2016 General Conference, an announcement is made, that we are returning to keep the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, even follow his instructions given of living a “United Order” of “All things common among us”, of our own freewill by vote of the members, by the raise of the uplifted hand, in support of keeping all the commandments of God.♡

  150. Diane

    Interesting that you have such a quandary. God does send poverty as a trial, however he waits to see if we will follow him and love the poor and needy, our neighbors, as ourselves. No poor among them…that’s what god wants. Also where is your compassion for those rendered destitute, impoverished, disabled, for YOUR benefit? You know….those of us called veterans.

  151. Diane

    Also consider those very people you speak of…the poor. Even the homeless and destitute of the wards are told they must pay tithing out of their disability checks or any extra assistance….such as extra funds for heating during an unexpected winter cold snap…..will not be extended. Bishops let the poorest of the members go homeless…even single mothers.

  152. Diane

    As a veteran I was instructed to apply for public assistance by my bishop who refused to help myself and son. As a disabled veteran who is also a single mother. I know of others who have been in the same situation and also instructed to get on public assistance. A Good thing did or my son and I would have died winter 2014 when bishop let us go homeless. It,s more important for the church to insist you as a disabled veteran are unworthy of assistance because your too poor to pay tithing.

  153. Diane

    Have you bothered to see the poor and needy in your own stake? No need to ignore then, pretending they don,t exist…pretending only in third world countries will you see them. Give you a hint. Lots of them show up for bishops storehouse…many are denied help from the bishop…they need help too. Seek. You will find them right in your own stake.

  154. Diane

    If you perceive no one in america can be very poor just look at its veteran population. Homeless, living on streets, under bridges..hungry..needing clothes and a shower..’

  155. Dale B.

    A while back there was an earthquake in Nepal. Nepal is a very poor country and I thought it would be good for me to contribute. A co-worker at my company was a native and recommended one or two charities, so I donated something like $100. This is about the same amount that I typically donate for fast offerings.

    For that small donation, I received weekly reports about how the money was being spent, what their goals were, etc. I marveled that a tiny group could share so much information about their charitable activities, when compared to what information I receive from my church about the money I donate.

    I still donate fast offerings, but I no longer pay tithing. I feel like the leaders of the Church have not been wise stewards of the funds donated. Of course, I could be wrong about this, but I don’t have the information to tell for certain. I’m pretty sure the malls, condos and banks will still get built without my contribution, so I doubt it will be setting back the Church much.

    I used to be proud that our buildings were so plain compared to other christian churches, which I felt reflected poorly on them. But now I realize that in this country, at least, the typical ward house represents at least a million dollars of real estate, not to mention another hundred thousand or so for maintenance and upkeep per year. Here in Utah, there are ward houses about every 4 blocks, which represent multiple billions of dollars. Now I feel ashamed at the waste of funds.

    I’ve heard it said that if we used the money derived from investment towards the poor, instead of reinvesting it for growth, that it would only last a very short time and there would be nothing left. But, it seems to me that the Lord could refill that cruze of oil if he wanted. Where’s the faith?

  156. Dale B.

    Harry
    Your comment that “our ways are not His ways” is interesting. So, you are saying that the Lord feels that putting up expensive billboards is the way to go instead of helping people? I must have missed that christian teaching in my reading of the scriptures.

    Your idea that it’s the Lord’s problem and “not your proplem” is likewise interesting. The Lord seemed to blame all Israel for buying into the programs of the decadent kings. True, eventually the Lord did take care of the problem, by destroying those wicked kingdoms and scattering Israel, but don’t you think it would have been better if the children of Israel had been so critical of the king that it would have been difficult for him to remain king in wickedness?

    The Lord does plan to fix things for the modern church as well. This country will be utterly destroyed at his coming and as a special reward for it’s righteousness, that destruction will begin with the Church; “Upon my house it shall begin and upon my house it shall roll forth.” Why do you think he will start with his own house? Do you think it is because a few members think the leaders have gone astray? I suppose that’s possible, butEzekiel makes me think that, although individual member’s righteousness will be taken into account, the Lord is less than enthusiastic at the way the shepherds of Israel have performed as well.

  157. Anon

    It’s interesting how the church is NEVER required to treat people with compassion or empathy. I’ve recently been hospitalized with health problems which also caused me to lose my job. My bishop isn’t concerned about whether I have food to eat, but he thinks nothing of demeaning me and making sure I know that I am being a burden on the church. He wanted to know what I was going to do to repay the church for the help I am getting. He acts angry and put out whenever I say something he doesn’t want to hear. The RS president is just as bad, if not worse. I’m to the point where the only reason I go to church is because I am getting help with rent, but as soon as I am financially stable I am gone. I can’t take the abuse. It is too detrimental on my already fragile health. I’m doing everything I can to take care of myself and wouldn’t ask if I wasn’t beyond desperate.

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