The Profit

I’ve mentioned before that I have two deal breaking issues with the Church.

  1. Do the Brethren see the Lord or not?
  2. And are they or are they not a part of the lay ministry we boast about?

A recent comment on this blog sums up my concern better than I can on the issue of the Brethren’s “special witness.”  In part he says:

“I would call the current situation one of ‘deception by omission,’ because the top officers must know that many members believe that divine visitations are common among the higher ranks. The leaders allow this perception to exist and be perpetuated without challenge. Growing up in the church, I was taught by low and mid-level teachers and officers that the first presidency and the apostles know Christ personally, and that divine appearances in the temple are not uncommon.”

This idea of deception by omission, when I first considered it years ago and contemplated its implications, became a turning point for me.  That was when the wheels started to fall off my paradigm.

Up until that point, not only did I believe that their witness was literal, but I also believed that they had achieved their witness by possessing strong faith and by having a firm mind in every form of godliness (Moroni 7:30).  Which as you know is the pre-requisite for seeing Angels.  To see the Lord, the Brethren must practically be Angels…  So I thought.

But instead I began to feel mislead.  I began to see this issue as an honesty issue.  What kind of person would lie or mislead someone about something so sacred!?  That idea began to stir in me and caused me tremendous grief.

I became curious about the idea of a lay ministry. Having served as a bishop and in bishoprics and on high councils, I knew first hand that we were not paid.  Not at the local level.  But as a bishop I began to notice some very strange things about the way certain people in my ward paid tithing.  I noticed that General Authorities didn’t pay tithing through the ward at all. For that matter, they didn’t come to me or my counselors for their temple recommends either.  Not seeing their tithing, I had no idea whether they were paid by the Church or not.

It wasn’t until I came across the leaked Mission Presidents Handbook that my suspicions on their “non-layness” were confirmed.  Interestingly at about the same time I discovered this Handbook, I asked a member of my ward, who I had recommended to serve as a mission president, and who had just received his call, IF this was all true.  My friend turned beet red and began to stutter.  He eventually said, “I’ve sworn to secrecy that I will not discuss this.”

Well, that confirmed it.  I had to then assume that the Brethren above Mission Presidents were also paid.  But how much?

Admittedly, I assumed that some of the Brethren had to be paid something.  I did not begrudge them some kind of housing, food, and travel assistance.  I eased my mind by considering that they likely lived the Law of Consecration — a rumor I had heard many times.  It made a lot of sense to me too.  After all, if they were meeting with Jesus every Thursday, why would they not be living a higher law?  Even if only among themselves.

I envisioned that men like Gary Stevenson would come into the Quorum of the Seventy and would give all they had to the Church.  And that anyone among the Seventy or the Twelve that needed some minimal assistance would be able to receive it from the consecrated funds.  Someone like Thomas Monson after all would not likely have a valuable pension or social security benefit when he became an apostle at the age of 36.

So to receive “assistance” to live a modest life was never an idea that bothered me.

But then I began to hear rumors that the Brethren were paid exorbitant amounts of money.  Like, millions of dollars — Signing bonuses, huge salaries, pay increases for advancement and seniority, black credit cards…

These rumors alarmed me and made me want to know whether I had accidentally lied to all the people I’ve ever told, while holding up a picture of the leaders of the Church, that we were different (better) than all the other churches because “No one in our Church was paid to do anything.  It’s a completely lay ministry.”

Back to this idea of “deception by omission” — I was concerned enough as it was about possibly being wrong about the Brethren’s benefits, but now I was confronted with the idea that they let me, in fact, they encouraged me to mislead people by never correcting the record.

Well, in the last few years I’ve been able to confirm a few more details on what our Church leaders make, which has now been corroborated with the most recent news. 

Here is my opinion today what they do and don’t make and what benefits I believe they have:

  • No signing bonuses
  • No mortgage or debt pay offs
  • No unlimited Black Amex benefits
  • No pay increase or pay disparity among the Brethren.  Once a 70 or higher, they receive the same “living allowance.”
  • “Living allowance” is $120,000 per year.
  • Great health benefits.
  • Free tuition at BYU or tuition paid at any university for children under age 26 up to the equivalent value of BYU’s tuition cost.
  • Great life insurance so their family is taken care of when they die.
  • Car allowances.
  • House allowances.
  • All travel, and lodging, food and entertainment while traveling are paid for.  This includes First Class airfare.

I’m also left to assume that there is some tax benefit to calling it a living allowance from a 501c3.  This is hinted at in the Mission President’s Handbook by the direction given to NOT report these benefits to tax advisors or on a tax return.

Now the argument I hear even from some is that most of these good men were wealthy before their callings and that full time Church service was not only a sacrifice in every way, but also represented a huge pay cut.

This argument is spelled out by Salt Lake Tribune columnist Robert Kirby entitled Wait’ll You See How Much the Mormon Church Pays Me.

I find Kirby’s piece humorous, but I think his overall point is to downplay the amounts the Brethren are paid as kind of a “Well, that’s nowhere near enough money for me” and so no one should have a problem with it.  He says:

Now that we seem to know what LDS leaders are paid, it’s still OK with me. I say this because I wouldn’t do it for that much. Not even close.

If you were to pay me for wearing a necktie even to bed, while simultaneously trying to keep people on the straight and narrow without a machine gun, it would have to be at least seven figures, each and every one of them a nine.

I earn a lot less than that as a newspaper columnist. How much? Well, it’s none of your *&#@% business, is it? I do what I do for what I make because it’s an acceptable bargain between myself and a tough editor.

Sadly, I think we Mormons are conditioned to say the kinds of things Kirby says.  I actually happen to know thousands of people who WOULD do what these men do and they would do it for FREE!  They would do it for the glory, prestige, power, and/or for the value of service.  In fact many elderly couples do do this sort of thing for free, without any glory, all the time.  The Church sells it to them as a wonderful opportunity to live in Africa for the low low price of only $1400 per month.

Stake presidents and bishops, many or whom work 40-60 hours per week already and then have added to them 20-30 hours of church service, do it for free already Mr. Kirby.

This argument that these men do something special and that they took a pay cut for, frankly, ticks me off.  They should want to do it for free.  Since when do we need to justify that Apostles of the Lord should be paid large salaries?  Most of them are called when they already have pensions and retirements and social security in place.  So why are we talking about pay cuts? Do we really want to believe that President Monson, who is paid the equivalent of $240,000 or more a year, WOULD BE MAKING MORE IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR?  AT AGE 89?  I’m sorry but anyone willing to pay Thomas Monson in his current mental state and at his age $240k a year is a complete moron.  The argument is disingenuous at best, especially given that we boldly declare that these men are not paid anything.

A great blog post was recently written on this topic.  I highly recommend it.  In it the author covers the history of minister salaries in the latter-day Church.  But, for me the biggest issue is that we all are taught and are encouraged to teach that there is no paid ministry — the Brethren know we teach this — and NO ONE CORRECTS the record.  This is a dishonest omission of facts.

Simultaneously Senator Gordon Smith argues in the executive committees of the 12 that the other Christian religions participate in the dangerous practice of priestcraft, all while we are apparently innocent of such abhorrent practices.  Why did the Brethren not correct the record with Senator Smith, in that private setting?

I’m sorry my friends, but $120,000 per year in “living allowance” plus all the other great benefits adding up to at least $240,000 per year is a far cry from a lay ministry.  I wish the Church would at least be honest about it instead of misleading everyone.

For Alma it was far more cut and dry:

And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time (Alma 30:33).

Our church leaders have taken millions of senines and yet some of them still profit from their personal enterprises as well. Doesn’t sound like much of a sacrifice to me.  It’s certainly not what we preach it to be:  A Lay Ministry.  In fact, I wonder if LDS Church leaders actually make more than other various religious leaders around the world.  Either way, the leaders of the Church should come clean and set the record straight on the issue and allow Church members to decide for themselves if the money we pay them is appropriate or not.

18 thoughts on “The Profit

  1. Ankle

    Simply refusing to pay them anymore has become a great blessing for my family, as well as for the others we’ve been able to help with what would otherwise have been our contribution to the lie ministry… er, I mean “lay” ministry.

    Reply
  2. Dave the Disappointing

    Wow! That is a very persuasive argument, my friend! It’s so good that I almost wish I were still a believing member of the church so that I could lose my testimony all over again from reading it.

    Reply
  3. Anonymous ward clerk in the know

    The $120,000 number you quote, if you’re getting it from that annual increase letter was from 2014. And the previous year was $116,400, which makes the 2013 to 2014 increase an even 3% increase. So, if that is their actual increase, then their current salary, err I mean, modest stipend, would be $131,127.24…but something tells me that having had $116,400 and $120,000 they don’t like setting amounts down to the penny, so they would probably have rounded that amount up to about $132,,000 or more…

    I had also heard, and this may be pure rumor, and I think when D. Michael Quinn releases his book, he will show evidence that Deseret Book offers a $600,000 paycheck to any of the Q15 who write a book that they promote and sell. Regardless of whether it sells even a single copy…and also that Deseret Book is supported by tithing money directly…so this could prove that they are being paid directly, or in a money-laundering sort of way, from the tithes that all the church apologists are claiming they don’t get paid from.

    Reply
  4. Dave the Disappointing

    Your last sentence implies that there would be a way out of this priestcraft if they were to fess up. Do you think that is possible? Do you think they would lose the church if they did? Could there be a reckoning that would not cause millions of saints to completely abandon the faith? That question could be posed regarding most of the church’s waywardness you have cited throughout your blog. Do you believe the church could be revitalized or re-restored? Which leaders would have any legitimacy? Who would the re-restorers be? How many members would stick around for all that? I think it would require miracles that don’t exist–and probably really never have existed.

    Reply
    1. Bishop Anon Post author

      Interesting question. I’d say being honest about these things is the least they should do for starters. But yes I think many would leave as a result. Those who stay would at least be doing so with knowledge and frankly with complicity. I wonder though if as many would leave as one might suppose. Today’s LDS are not encouraged to do anything but follow the brethren. Support them at all costs. Otherwise you are apostate. The church is in a very difficult situation. Damned if they do damned if they don’t. But I was raised with the refrain “Do what is right let the consequences follow.” So I think it’s where they ought to start. The parts of your questions are very thought provoking. I think there are very good people within leadership. But without connecting directly to heaven and doing as Joseph did, we have no hope to re-restore or revitalize much if anything. Throwing down false tradition and unbelief though may help people be less blind as they approach the Lord in their own personal search.

      Reply
  5. log

    Suppose it could be proven, scripturally, that not a one of the General Authorities, Mission Presidents, or CES instructors / institute directors can possibly be true prophets, meaning as was Joseph Smith IF certain conditions surrounding the issuance of their callings were met, such as having a spotless legal and business reputation, never having been divorced, never having known significant failure in business or personal matters, never having wavered in their faith in the Brethren above them, and so on.

    Might that kind of challenge to their authority be worth illicitly decanonizing the Lectures on Faith, do you think?

    Reply
  6. David

    2 Nephi 26:23 – 33 touches on both the subject at hand and the policy change regarding the baptism of children of same-sex parents. Vs 27 and 28 are particularly pertinent to the baptism change. Vs 29 – 31 really hit home on the preaching for hire or however we choose to identify this.

    Reply
  7. Matt

    While I find these types of posts interesting, ultimately nothing the Bretherenites do or don’t do, say or don’t say, has any bearing whatsoever on our individual salvation. We won’t have the excuse of “I was only following the prophet.” Its up to each of us to find our way back to Christ.

    Honestly, it no longer bothers me one lick if they are paid exorbitant sums of money. I do understand that this is upsetting to many. I get it. I really do. If they are deceiving, intentionally or unintentionally, it’s not my concern. That’s between them and the Lord. I have the scriptures, access to the Holy Spirit, a personal intermediary with the Father, and the privilege of addressing the God of Heaven and Earth at my leisure and discretion. What a thing! To me, that’s what matters. And that does indeed make me very rich.

    There are so many amazing, beautiful, enlightening and saving principles in the Gospel of Christ that I believe we should be doing everything we can within our sphere of influence to persuade all to feast on the word of God and trust not the arm of flesh. We should aim to uplift, to inspire, to alleviate suffering, to encourage all mankind to come to Christ.

    In the D&C the Lord repeatedly admonishes the people through personalized revelation to seek to establish “[his] Zion.” Nephi wrote, “And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost…and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be (1 Nephi 13:37).

    We live in perilous times and it’ll only get worse from here. The angels are just waiting the command to reap down the earth.

    Zion is the goal and everything else is ultimately a distraction.

    Thanks for all your great insight, AB!

    Reply
  8. MC

    With all of this renewed talk lately about the salaries of the GAs there’s one thing I can’t quite wrap my head around. What about Joseph Smith being financially supported by the saints? Was that priest-craft or not?

    I would say that it wasn’t during the days he was dirt poor and among those saints who were truly destitute. But what about in Nauvoo? Who paid for the mansion house he lived in? Who put food on his table? I know he was mayor of Nauvoo for a time and a high ranking general in the Nauvoo legion, but wasn’t he also being supported by the saints during this time as well. Thoughts anyone?

    Log’s statement that GAs and mission presidents being divorced and remarried disqualifies them as true apostles or prophets as compared to Joseph makes me wonder, too. I agree that divorce and remarriage is basically forbidden in the scriptures, but wouldn’t Joseph have been more or less divorced from Fanny Alger in 1835, when Emma sent her away? I’m also not aware of any GAs who are divorced and remarried. Can anyone name one who is?

    Not trying to attack Joseph Smith here, just trying to wrap my ahead around the whole priest-craft issue.

    Reply
    1. iterry54

      MC, you might recall that Sarah the wife of Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away. Technically, wasn’t that a divorce? Not sure divorce disqualifies a person for being a prophet or an apostle. Divorce is acceptable for adultery of course. I don’t know of a scripture about that specifically.

      The Mansion House was build as a boarding house as commanded by the Lord in D&C 124:23. This was a place for those who were investigating the gospel to come and board for a period of time. This is far different than what is being done today. I wouldn’t call this priestcraft because the Lord commanded that it be built. I give Joseph Smith a pass because he was commanded to do certain things. He also had his calling and election made sure before he died and will be Exalted. Yes he did make some mistakes but he was acceptable to the Lord or he would not have received the promise of eternal life.

      None of the current leaders have such a promise in fact quite the opposite. They will be cast out as prophesied in Ezekiel 13 and many other places.

      I agree with AB that the leaders should tell the truth, but I know that will never happen. These are the enemies of God and are doing what they do for their own glory and profit. The Lord even calls them his enemies in Isaiah 66:6: 6. Hark, a tumult from the city, a noise from the temple! It is the voice of the Lord paying his enemies what is due them. Don’t expect any changes from these men. Quite the contrary, if you oppose them they will deal with you very harshly (Ezekiel 34).

      Reply
  9. KLG

    MC-

    I don’t know of any brethren who have been divorced, but I’m fairly certain Howard W. Hunter married a divorced woman after his wife passed.

    Reply
  10. MC

    Thanks for the feedback everyone.

    I wasn’t suggesting that being divorced under the permissible grounds of adultery or in the case of the first wife sending a plural wife away would disqualify someone from being a prophet or holy man. Log’s comment just made me wonder.

    iterry, great point with Sarah and Hagar. That seems to fit quite well to the Emma and Fanny situation.

    You make another interesting point about the Mansion house being the boarding house commanded in D&C 124. I hadn’t thought of that. The mansion house was used as a boarding house for weary travelers in addition to a residence for the prophet and his family. It was here that the prophet would entertain travelers and visitors both strangers and saints just arriving from British isles. That’s a great connection. I guess I always assumed that the Nauvoo boarding house was never built.

    While not giving the current GAs a free pass on their secretive salaries, I can see how Brigham Young and the early apostles justified receiving a salary from the church on the grounds that Joseph Smith had been supported by the church and didn’t work a job because he was too busy with his duties as the prophet. I’m sure BY and the others were overwhelmingly busy as well and felt completely justified in taking a salary from the saints, especially once they started running the church owned industries. I think it was a slippery slope. The parable of the nobleman in D&C 101 condemns this of course.

    Personally I think it’s okay for the GAs past and present to receive a “modest stipend” to cover living expenses if that in fact is a modest stipend to provide them with life’s basic necessities as they focus on the work of the ministry full-time. I don’t consider this to be priest-craft, though I think it’s a slippery slope.

    I think the problem that has existed since Brigham Young’s day is that the salaries are obviously quite excessive and provide them with a lavish life style. This is priest-craft. Another problem which goes hand in hand with this is that the salaries are so secretive. The saints have a legal right to know exactly how their tithes and the other funds of the church are spent. This includes full discloser of the brethren’s salaries. The brethren are obviously hiding something, because they have not disclosed the amount that they are being paid and have given the appearance that by and large they are not being paid and that only very few of them receive a modest stipend to cover basic living expenses. If there was nothing to hide by their salaries they wouldn’t keep it a secret.

    It’s apparent that an apostasy in the church has taken place and little by little the church has gone off the rails from top to bottom. This is the way Satan works. Little by little. It didn’t happen all at once. According to D&C 101 it was the love of money that caused the church’s downfall. That is confirmed by the secret lucrative salaries of the GAs from BY to the present, and it is also confirmed by the fact that the majority of LDS are obsessed with being wealthy. In my opinion the love of wealth is the single biggest problem in the church. As the apostle Paul said “the love of money is the root of all evil.” The Lord says something similar in D&C 49:20 ” it is not given that one man should possess that which is above another, wherefore the world lieth in sin.”

    Reply
    1. jw

      One of the differences in the examples you mention is transparency. Joseph and Sydney receiving support went up before the Church body for a vote – and at least in once instance rejected it as they viewed it as being too high an amount. Imagine that!

      Yet now, whatever the amount may be, is not revealed (at least intentionally) so people are left to guess or assume. There is no vote and no transparency. If what they’re doing is above-board, then why not admit it and put it out for people to see, why the secrecy? When there is no accountability, anything can – and usually does – happen. One reason is it would pull the rug out of missionaries teaching that Church clergy receive no payment for services rendered. Without any clarification this seems deceitful.

      Reply
  11. Rob

    All scriptures when thoroughly studied, plainly teach us that apostasy reigns among our leaders of today and the greater portion of the members. Too much political correctness is applied to NOT holding these men accountable for their crimes against the Savior for posing as His prophetic imposters.

    There are church laws that provided for this but unfortunately, who among the leadership would hold themselves guilty of anything remotely described of them in the scriptures ? This is the same condition that exists within our government. Who among the leaders will hold the highest leaders accountable for their crimes ? Who would convict them, or even bring them to trial, such as Hillary for her obvious crimes ?

    These are special apostate circumstances which can only be corrected through divine intervention. The Lord in the scriptures makes this very plain and clear. So why is this subject even being discussed ? Who among us can do anything about this ? We should be praying for that divine intervention to occur as soon as it looks like we are about to be put to literal death when these wolves eventually approach us openly for who they are.

    I suspect those circumstances are not far off, given what is taking place in our nation politically right now, and growing worse each day. All of this will culminate in both a political, economic and religious crisis before long, and the truth of this evil will make itself manifest openly, but God will send help to oppose it at the right moment.

    God’s Plan for this is very plainly laid out in the scriptures and I look forward to His Redeeming Power to save us from all this garbage. Power which does NOT reside among the current authorities of Our Church, or nation, or any nation of the world, for whom only GOD will hold accountable and judge with Great Judgments upon the wicked…..Very soon. Beginning Upon His House.

    If this is a web site designed to troll for apostate fish, as the brethren would perceive us, then they just caught a WHALE ! See you when the crap hits the fan…..

    Reply
  12. Rob

    Stealing the Lord’s tithes, as Malachi puts it, is a trivial violation when compared to much greater crimes they commit, when seen through the eyes of Isaiah and other prophets of the distant past, who called out the truly greatest crimes of their day among their own people of God, and foresaw even greater ones of our generation.

    This is why, even though Nephi tells us that with HIS understanding of the scriptures, particularly Isaiah, is easy for HIM to understand, it is never the less a sealed book to those without the Spirit of God and an understanding of the “Manner of the Jews” which Nephi possessed. If those words are so important as for the Lord to tell the Nephites to study them, for “GREAT are the words of Isiah”, the implication of our current leaders lack of understanding them, is that they KNOW what they mean and they DO NOT want US to know. They simply refuse to BELIEVE those words, but most assuredly KNOW them, and water them down below the level of a dumbed down membership to fully comprehend them.

    This money issue is minor by comparison. A reason given to protect the ears of the uniformed & unable to imagine a greater crime among our leaders and many members. They are deviants of the highest order of Satan. If you think the Clintons and their cabal are deviants, imagine this being practiced in the church on the HIGHEST level of deviance, (repeated Moloch (Satanic) Child Ritual Abuse). These are WORSE than those in politics because they have been exposed to God’s True Light of the Gospel and have defiled their covenants, even in the Temple, as the scriptures tell us they have. They lack for NOTHING, as far as repeating what ancient Ephriam did to defile themselves in EVERY WAY & then some. After all….These days are WORSE than the days of Noah, which were pretty much DOWN RIGHT EVIL !

    Does judgment not first begin & end in The Lord’s House ? Judgment of WHAT ? A little stolen money ?

    Reply
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