We are commanded to bring to light the hidden things of darkness (D&C 123:11–15) which are found within our churches (Mormon 8:36).
…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.
Maybe they’re trying to build Zion.
Interesting story. I was not aware of that new development (see what I did there?) in the use of Church finances. More importantly, I fully support your view that our leaders are to be held accountable in financial matters, especially since they are dealing with sacred funds, as laid out in the Doctrine & Covenants. It should not only the right of members to do so, but their sacred obligation. I’m not sure members should vote on individual decisions (too messy), but I believe in financial transparency and on a vote of approval in General Conference.
Anyway, the most important question is: what should we do about it? As usual, there is no official bottom-up Church channel to raise questions. Maybe we should start a petition on change.org or something like that. That might get the attention of our leaders. What do you think?
First, the New Jerusalem has to be build somewhere…Imagine what the average, hardcore Latter-day Saint would think if they found out The Church was building a city? You could wind up with a minor migration of members wanting to be part of “The Work”. Due to the apocalyptic nature of LDS end-times revelation/rumor/doctrine you really do need to worry about how it looks to be says, “We, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are going to build a city.”
Freaks out the neighbors too…
I actually think that’s a great idea. Looks like there is a great petition already out there at bycommonconsent.org.
I guess they’re not going to build this city on rock and roll after all. #RebelMormon
The LDS Living Magazine about us page states:
“LDS Living Magazine is an independent work, and is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The views expressed in the magazine are the responsibility of the various authors and do not necessarily represent the positions of the Church. Contributors include Church members and members of other faiths.”
It is is a division of Deseret Book, which is under Deseret Digital Media. Deseret Digital Media also owns and operates the Deseret News, KSL.com and other various media properties. I worked at the Deseret News in the past and I know from experience that General authorities do not have direct involvement in day-to-day operations. Deseret Digital Media has its own board of directors and corporate management team that oversees these various publications and makes the editorial decisions.
The decision to pull the article was most likely made because a LDS Living staffer linked to a story from a direct competitor (The Salt Lake Tribune) to the Deseret News and Deseret Digital Media. Promoting stories written by a competing news outlet is not encouraged in the world of news media.
Our planned stake center building in Madison, Alabama was recently cancelled presumably for cost reasons. Yet, the Church has funds to build a 500,000 person city near Orlando? Actually our Madison stake can get by without a new building. But I have LDS friends in poor African countries (Burundi & Malawi) who would really benefit if the Church were to build some schools and medical clinics in these impoverished lands, where people are stricken by malaria, and food and medicine shortages. – Tom Irvine
Here’s cached version of it from Google: http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:wO-bRMAAZD0J:www.ldsliving.com/Church-Planning-to-Build-a-City-of-500-000-in-Florida/s/79426+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
I’m sure when new stake centers in the U.S., and schools and medical clinics in impoverished African countries provide a market rate of return on investment then the Church financial department will take another look. Where’s your faith?
The ldsliving story was cached by Google at http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:wO-bRMAAZD0J:www.ldsliving.com/Church-Planning-to-Build-a-City-of-500-000-in-Florida/s/79426+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us
A cautionary story…
I lived in the East Valley suburbs of Phoenix for nearly 50 years, before moving to Alabama for employment…
From 2000 to 2006, builders descended on Phoenix. The number of housing starts nearly doubled, and the median home price more than doubled. The population did not increase nearly that much, nor did the average income of a Phoenix resident. It was investors, looking to flip these homes for a quick profit, and buoyed by cheap easy credit, who drove construction and prices.
Then the sub-prime crisis, the collapse of Lehman Brothers and other factors brought the house of cards down. Home prices fell 56 percent from their peak in the summer of 2006, bottoming out in 2011, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Foreclosures skyrocketed. Many houses were left vacant. Construction of new homes came to a grinding halt.
I copied and pasted and edited this account from a CNBC article, but I also witnessed it firsthand.
I hope and pray that this 500,000 person development in Orlando does not become a repeated version of the Phoenix housing bust or Kirtland Bank failure.
– Tom Irvine
And I hope it does fail Tom. These funds could be put to better use elsewhere.
Building Zion would be impossible until the Church leaders repent 1st. And if they repented they would have to give the tithing back to the members, for they shouldn’t have taken it in the 1st place.
That building was postponed due to less than adequate attendance numbers. The days of “if we build it, they will come” in the church are over. The maintenance of so many buildings is extremely expensive and more than half of the buildings outside the Mormon corridor out West are severely underutilized.
Thanks for bringing this to light. I do believe we are doing others a disservice when we do not share important things that impact all of us and put LDS on the defensive with only half the facts. This is tragically sad. I can’t be the only one that feels the darkness that comes with each ‘questionable’ use of consecrated funds the church makes. It makes my heart heavy.
I find it interesting that the church loves to use Malachi 3:10–12 to teach the concept of tithing to its members. If one is to put the book of Malachi into its proper context they will see a completely different picture being presented than the one many have been taught. The church is doing the exact same things as was being done when those scriptures were given.
15 inspired leaders have always been able to manage the affairs of Church government since 1830, which is why the Lord chose them, endowing them with the necessary gifts and skills needed to allow His purposes to be fulfilled.
Most of these comments are speculative and not based on facts, yet people are happy to criticize leaders, there’s a lot wrong with that picture. Surely we can be better than that ….
MONEY! Just because they call it “Diet Cherry Pepsi” doesn’t mean that Pepsi is running the show!
If we build a community of housing for “500,000” people will they come? Just askin’
Have you ever tried to navigate the hallways of a three-ward building with overlapping wards converging in the hallways?
Despite the tone of my comments, I respect economization on the church building level. Just wish that church buildings would have wider hallways! BTW Chris, could you please identify yourself with your last name?
Also, and I speak from experience, scheduling “Trunk-or-Treats” for a three-ward chapel is a nightmare.
Well, Chris, here is what Elder Quentin L. Cook said in the last general
Some have asserted that more members are leaving the Church today and that there is more doubt and unbelief than in the past. This is simply not true. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has never been stronger. The number of members removing their names from the records of the Church has always been very small and is significantly less in recent years than in the past. The increase in demonstrably measurable areas, such as endowed members with a current temple recommend, adult full-tithe payers, and those serving missions, has been dramatic. Let me say again, the Church has never been stronger.
BTW, I believe that Elder Cook is an honest man. And I believe the accuracy of his statements. So please do not cast aspersions about membership attendance among church units outside of the “Mormon corridor,” unless you can back up your statements with hard, documented data.
The story appears to no longer be available anywhere, including the SL Tribune. Something’s up…
Wow! Yeah why did the church not include this news in Church News… On Lds.org… Or anywhere else? Now it’s not even on the Trib? I need to look into that. Thanks for heads up.
I’m still seeing the story here… http://www.sltrib.com/home/2709720-155/paul-rolly-mormon-church-moves-to
I am so glad you pointed out D&C 123:11–15. I think it is greatly important to “waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness” and that we should attend to recognizing evil works and help others to see them. How can we find light and truth if we are content with the evil and dark works that surround us within the church? How can we teach others and help them awake and arise if they are not made aware of the destructive behavior and actions of those who profess to be our leaders and teachers?
There are many believers within this movement who think it best to leave the church alone. It is a common belief that pointing out error amongst the leaders is only criticism and that it is only Christlike to love. Christ himself said “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.” Christ certainly used language which must be viewed as criticism toward the leaders of his day.
I think it is important for us to recognize evil as evil and that hidden things of darkness need to be brought to light. This is part of the process of letting go of unbelief, embracing truth, and helping others wake up and more fully come to Christ.
I think the reason most comments are speculative is that there is so little information given by the church. When everything is kept hidden, speculation is all that remains available to those who have provided the money in the first place. I guess that’s kind of the point of the post.
And where would one get hard documented data when the church will not provide it? Even Elder Cook gave no actual data at all. He backed it up with nothing but his title. Your point is well taken that actual data ought to be made available.
Very good point Tausha! Jesus also called them Serpents, Vipers, Blind, Blind Guides, Children of those Who Killed the Prophets, Extortionists, Excessive / Lavish, Thieves, and Fools and more all just in Matthew 23. As you point out, truth deserves our allegiance even and especially when it may be inconvenient.
Thank you for the post, although I’m not sure what good it will do to have a petition, or expect that the books will be opened.
The church as a legal entity that Joseph created does not exist, and hasn’t for over a hundred years. The only legal entity that exists is the Corporation for the First Presidency, which is a corporate sole, which owns a construct we refer to as the LDS church. Therefore, though members may clamor for opening the books (and many will not), it doesn’t matter. The corporate is under no obligation to do so. Although they try to make it look like a church fashioned after what Joseph setup, it is not. I think the sooner everyone understands that the better. It’s a bait-and-switch pretense now, nothing more.
What I find interesting is the church undertaking such massive project like the Mall and now this private city at a time when the economy is very wobbly. Projects that have very little to do with religion. It’s almost as if they’re under orders…
Anon just got around to reading this little article. I wanted to make a comment about the idea that something can be done to correct the Church. It can’t be done by the members. It has never been done at our level. Look through the scriptures particularly the BOM. You can petition the Church all you want to be they think they are inspired by God. Anciently it was the Lord that corrected the situation and that will be the situation today. We can’t do anything about it because they are the ones in apostasy.
Luther tried to change the Catholic Church in his day. Didn’t work and as a result there was war. Same as today – the Church will never change. I don’t care if every single person raised their hand in opposition – they won’t allow you or anybody else to change the course of the Church.
What can be done? Don’t sustain, get prepared physically (food storage), and spiritually for what is coming. The Lord will correct the situation. He always has. Rocky
I agree 100% Rocky. Common consent was only in operation for the religious movement Joseph founded. The modern ‘church’ is owned by the corporate sole known as ‘The Corporation of the First Presidency’ not us. Therefore they can raise all the petitions they want, won’t do any good. There’s nothing in the corporate charter that says they have to respond to anyone outside the corporate governance.
The Lord will lead out of the congregation those that are willing to accept His invitation. The rest will be destroyed along with everything else in the Gentile world.
“Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith”….Pres. Uchtdorf.
Only one person cause doubt and confusion.
I don’t doubt that Uchtodorf is not a true apostle nor a prophet.
Actually I think a lot of people are good at causing doubt and confusion! 🙂
The ‘doubt your doubts’ comment never really made much sense to me. Responding with negative to a negative does not yield a positive. Christ teaches us to be teachable like a child, and then He displaces unbelief with pure knowledge and intelligence.
It occurs to me that the Church leadership doesn’t ask or insist its membership to apply Moroni’s test to them or the modern church. Maybe they’re afraid of the answers people may get if they were to do so…?
You know, I just read my comment and it is very confusing. Let me straighten it out. Uchtodorf is a false prophet and a false apostle. Does that help?
Let me explain a little bit more. Joseph Smith said that a prophet is a prophet only when the Lord is speaking to him. Uchtodorf has never received a revelation from the Lord hence he isn’t a prophet. AB has written good information about that in his Spirit of Prophecy segment.
Next is what is an apostle? According to the apostles in the New Testament an apostle is a witness to the resurrection of Christ. Again Uchtodorf has not seen Christ and witnessed his resurrection. How do I know? Look at the ancient apostles – they testified that they saw the resurrected Lord. That was their calling to testify of Christ. Do any of these phonies testify that they have seen Christ NO. So he is a false apostle too.
So your point is well taken. They can’t insist the members apply Moroni’s test to them. They instead use intimidation and threats to force the members to comply. Rocky
I know! The billions of dollars that the church takes in for tithing every year needs to be used for the needy and poor all over the world. Not the building up of skyscrapers in Pennsylvania and a high-priced mall in Utah and a 500,000 person community in Florida. And those are the ones we know about. Who knows what else they’re doing with our tithing money. It’s a real shame.
What I find so inresetting is you could never find this anywhere else.