…it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart—For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things. (D&C 123:11–15, emphasis mine)
It is with this desire that I share my concerns. I believe this is how we sustain the brethren and preserve and/or regain the integrity of the Restoration. Edmund Burke said it well: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Not with railing accusation, that we be not overcome, neither with boasting nor rejoicing, lest we be seized therewith (D&C 50:33).
Yesterday I received an email from LDSLiving.com. It invited me to click on a link to their website where I could read more about the church’s new plans to build a city for 500,000 people near Disney World.
I successfully clicked on the link and it took me to the article on LDSLiving.com as shown below.
From there, I was given the option to link to the full story at the Salt Lake Tribune. Curious, I began to read the comments and follow this trending story. I quickly noticed that many others shared some of my initial concerns over yet another speculative business deal by the church using sacred funds which are supposed to be committed to the poor. There were 817 comments last time I checked after only one day in the news.
Today I went back to LDSLiving.com to see if any more people had commented on the story there. To my surprise, I could no longer find the story there… anywhere. So I decided to do a Google search to find the story again and this came up in the search results.
I clicked on the link again and the link no longer took me to the story, but instead redirected me to the homepage. Obviously the story has been removed from the website completely. Although I still find the other stories which were promoted in the original email from LDS Living and although the story in question can still be found on the Salt Lake Tribune.
Here are some general questions that come to my mind from all this:
Why is the church continuing to pursue very large building projects? Especially in light of the controversies surrounding other projects such as City Creek, Philadelphia, New Zealand, a recent $500M land purchase in Florida, etc. Is it because the church is forecasting insufficient earnings (tithing) and believes it needs a new source of income to sustain its growth? What happens if and when these business deals go south?
Is the church still completely debt-free as it once used to boast?
Why did the church remove its own story from LDS Living? Is it due to the negative comments it began to receive? Is the church afraid of honest feedback? Criticism? Controversy? Is pulling their own news story “good reporting” when the story is dealing with financial decisions the church is making? Does this show leadership? Inspiration? Integrity?
If the church is sensitive to criticism and willing to change its positions accordingly, shouldn’t this be all more the reason we, who love the gospel and the church, give our feedback about such projects?
Why doesn’t the church allow its members to look at such projects more closely? Why doesn’t the church allow its members to vote on such projects? Why doesn’t the church still provide an accounting of its financial stewardship to the church each year as it once did? Why should people be afraid to ask questions such as “Are General Authorities paid in the church? If so, how much?” “Do General Authorities fly First Class when they travel?” “What stocks and companies does the church invest in?” “Are all church business transactions arms length?” “How much tithing does the church receive each year?”
Should church members not be entitled to know this information?
Why should such questions be considered inappropriate? The church now argues that those who oppose the church on other more important issues such as marriage are able to, respectfully. Why not the same treatment here?
These are real questions and real issues for many good people in the church.
Let no man count these as small things. Hopefully our continued efforts to lovingly and respectfully request full transparency from the LDS Church leadership will be heard. The Lord tells us the effort is worth wasting and wearing out our lives for. Much depends upon on whether we succeed or not in bringing such things to light (D&C 123:11–15).
If you agree the LDS Church needs to be fully, financially transparent please click on the image below and sign a petition created by ByCommonConsent.org.