Tag Archives: Zion

The Separation of Church and Estate

Vice President Joe Biden Receives Special Gift from Elders ...

The problem with doing business and real estate deals in various States and Countries, is one of compliance and compromise.  The entity wishing to have a legal and physically recognized presence in any domestic or foreign jurisdiction is required to comply with rules, laws, whims, bribes, and extortions of the sponsoring state.

The Church, for example, is literally required to make and keep covenants with Communists, in order to have a Church and Temple presence in China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, and elsewhere.  One of the reasons the Church took so long to build a temple in France was because it was unwilling to keep the “covenants” of the Socialist French government that required access to its properties as a precondition, among other things.  And then the City of Versailles of course had a lot to say about what the temple had to look like.  It was an arduous process that was both a negotiation and series of compromises.  And it took more than 150 years.

The Church finds itself today in a very difficult position. The more it expands, the more it thinks it must appear neutral.  Unoffensive.  “Kind.”  “Good Global Citizens.”  The more it builds, the more it must compromise and the less it is able to say or teach about important issues, especially as the world falls apart around us.  People are craving guidance while the Church is trying to avoid being canceled and is attempting to navigate very turbulent political waters.

If the Church had been critical of the recently stolen election for example, it not only offends some of its members, it also offends all the mainstream media outlets, most world leaders, Antifa and BLM, Hollywood, Pro Sports, most major retailers and Big Tech companies, Congress, the new administration, members of the Supreme Court, local governments… and especially China, who helped orchestrate “the steal” and it invites the wrath of power structures that would seek to destroy it.

The Church would definitely never get its temple in China if it spoke the truth on many issues, especially human rights in China.  It would never get its meetinghouses.  And if it had those structures, they would be at risk of retaliation, violence, confiscation, and destruction.

We could cite many scenarios highlighting where the Church is vulnerable if it stands up and speaks truth.  In the US, it could lose its 501c3 status.  This is effectively what Wilford Woodruff “saw” in vision (envisioned may be a more accurate way to say it) when the Church was literally losing its freedoms over its stance on polygamy.  The Church was forced to eventually comply.  Otherwise prison and confiscation of properties was the alternative.

So the Church has chosen to remain neutral.  Which sounds fine on its face.  “Be diplomatic and kind and don’t talk politics…”  We all know the drill.  But what about when it comes to abortion or other moral issues?  What about when it comes to election integrity and Constitutional issues?  Right to bear arms?  Freedom of speech?  Freedom of assembly (see CoVid)?  Right to not be vaccinated?  The right to pray in public and private squares?  The right to petition and protest?  The right to not wear a mask?  Especially when you’ve already been vaccinated or had CoVid already…

Let’s take the issue of private property rights.  Think of the couple who are literally being prosecuted and crucified in the media for standing with unloaded guns (brandished but not pointing) in front of their own home as a mob ran towards them… on their own property.  Does the Church not believe in being able to enforce trespassing laws?  Castle laws?  Does it not want to defend those freedoms to protect oneself and one’s family?

Remember when the protestors used to roam through Temple Square with pickets and pamphlets?  They are all gone now, because the Church was far from “neutral” in that political matter.  It stood up for its rights to prevent people it deemed unsavory from standing on their private property.

So what does the Church do?  It’s damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t speak up.  I recognize and I sympathize with their dilemma.  Sadly at some point in the near future they may face being forced to perform gay marriages or get vaccinations that were created using aborted fetal tissue if they want to send missionaries out to foreign countries, or even just to remain a non-profit.  Why?  Because we are so tied to Babylon and to the State.

Here’s a crazy thought.  What if the Church had no property?  Or maybe just one temple and one big piece of land?  We are accustomed to feeling like we need churches, but do we?  We’re proving right now that we can do Church at home or over Zoom…  What if instead of going towards properties, tithing actually went to care for the poor among us?  Did Christ build churches?  Did He build a temple?  Why didn’t He?    

Did Joseph Smith build meetinghouses in the 14 years he was prophet?  Not a single one.  They built the Kirtland temple and tried to build the Nauvoo temple with the goal being to build and keep one temple that would be the center point of Zion that the Lord could come to and dwell in.  But, Joseph did not build or have plans to build a single church house I am aware of and he had no vision to dot the earth with temples.

Members during Christ’s day and Joseph’s, met in members’ homes and outside when weather permitted and rented halls as needed.  They did not enter into agreements with governments to the extent we do now, especially as we seek to establish abroad, largely because its mission was not property expansion driven as it seems to be today.  Yes, we wanted to bring the gospel to the corners of the earth, but at that point, members would immigrate to “Zion” or continue to meet locally in fellowships in homes and halls.

Imagine if our Church leaders could speak unrestrained like the prophets of old.  Sure, they would become targets and would likely be threatened with violence, if not killed.  Many of us would.  But there would be no temptation to enter into covenants with the Great Whore or temptation to compromise as we do now as a result of billions of dollars and thousands of properties and hundreds of thousands of jobs all being at stake.  We would be less tempted to feel the need to protect those worldly things.  Perhaps we would speak our minds more freely.  We’d be much more able and willing to flee.  The Church clearly spoke its mind more freely and taught truth more openly in days when it was not a global church.

Here’s an idea.  What if the Church sold almost everything?  “Sell all that thou hast and give to the poor.”  And separated the Church from the world and took care of its own.  Preached more boldly.  Built a place of refuge in the mountaintops, away from the madness of this world.  Built a place for a people to flee to.  Then perhaps we could teach truth and not cower because of who we are subject to.  This seems like the pattern of Scripture does it not?  Flee Egypt?  Flee Babylon?  Flee Sodom?  Flee Jerusalem?  Flee Missouri?  Find our waters of Mormon and our secluded Jordan River and our Promised Land… Our Zion.  Care not what man can do or how we will live.  Look at the lilies of the field and how they are adorned and cared for.  Travel without purse or scrip.  All flesh is grass.  Oh I know it’s idyllic.  But, maybe not…

One thing feels sure:  The Great Whore sits upon the many waters and has dominion over the whole earth and we have contracts and obligations to her and all institutions seem to be failing right before our eyes.  It’s comply or be cancelled.  Very few are not complying.  Very few are standing up.  The only way to eventually escape will be if we are able to flee to Zion, which will not be a “stake” but will be a City and NOT Salt Lake City.  A Holy City at the tops of the Mountains.  In order to do so, we must find truth and we must repent and we must prepare.  Cities in Florida and Malls in Salt Lake City and Philadelphia will soon serve no purpose, as Babylon falls and as the Whore loses her kingdom.  They will provide no milk and no shelter from the storm that is coming.

I can’t speak for you, but this last election has taught me one very important lesson that the flesh cannot be relied upon and that the truth is all that matters now.  I will not be lied to or dragged about any longer by the false and vain leaders of this world.  I repent of my political idolatry and seek to adopt the counsel of a very wise friend who recently said:

“Politics makes a poor religion.”

Wars and Rumors of Wars

There are three likely reasons I can think of for why 30,000 troops are currently in the nation’s Capitol.

1) To deter Trump from invoking the Insurrection Act and declaring Martial Law.

2) Trump will be invoking the above and the Troops are for him to do so.

3) Our nation is preparing to be attacked by China.

One thing is certain—30,000 troops in DC is unprecedented and I can assure you it’s not to protect Inauguration participants from wild Trump supporters.  They won’t be there.

Some predict that Civil War is coming soon and that States will at some point attempt secession, which is not likely to be welcomed by a Leftist Federal Government, assuming Biden takes office.

Any of this would have sounded crazy just a year or even 8 weeks ago.  But, as we sit here on Sunday January 17, 2021, we are literally less than 3 days away from knowing the fate of our nation.

Will we be at war with some foreign nation?  Will a corrupt man be placed in office, who any honest or discerning person KNOWS did not win in a fair election?  If so, our nation has ended.  Or will Trump and others have the courage to stand up against this coup and do what the Constitution requires of him?  He needs our prayers right now.  Our nation needs our prayers.

I’ve been discouraged lately about the LDS Church’s focus and messaging.  They’ve taken this “pandemic” very seriously, for example, which I’m sorry, but I do not.  Is it deadly?  Sure, for people with co-morbidities, it has proven to be.  How many have died FROM CoVid we may never know, but some have reported that the number is that somewhere between 6 and 16% of the deaths being reported are legitimate CoVid deaths.  My family and I and millions of others have been sick with CoVid and have survived.  Even generous numbers show that 99.97% of all people who get the illness, recover.

And so my question to the Church, and to anyone of sound mind is:  Is shutting down the world, relinquishing freedoms we will NOT get back, normalizing the wearing of masks, social distancing, and quarantines, while forcing companies out of business, destroying lives, normalizing the dehumanization of society… IS THIS the right way to respond to a flu?  I expected and hoped for more vision and leadership from the Church on this issue.

Instead, they have placed themselves at the forefront of wokeness, and are calling upon members to wear the mask and obey the “science” as a sign of “Christlike love” and global obedience.

Our nation is literally being taken over by Communists, this fake pandemic is a part of their plan, and we as members of the Church are being told to be good citizens by wearing the mask, recommending getting an untested vaccine, and by doing what we’re told to do.

During the bloody destructive racist protests of this year from BLM and Antifa, started by the false flag of George Floyd’s death, what was the Church’s response for that event?  It was “We condemn racism!”  And Mitt Romney walking with BLM in parades (not social distancing) while the rest of us are still under lockdown.  Then there was the talk from President Oaks about “Black Lives Matter being an eternal principle.”  Where was the outrage against BLM and Antifa for the violence?  Sure, it was casually alluded to, but their messaging was clear.  They wanted the world to know they were on the Woke Team.

But today the Church is REALLY wanting to make sure that everyone knows that they NOW DO condemn violence.  Not the violence caused by the gay transgender BLM movement which was understandable because of the racist killing of George Floyd, and not the violence of a black Capitol police officer against an unarmed white woman who supported Trump, but rather the violence at the Capitol that was being falsely blamed on Trump supporters, where police tear gassed families and old people who were not burning or breaking anything but who were picking up trash and singing Christian songs.  So it’s the violence that might have been committed by Trump supporters and was supposed to be committed by them that the Brethren are worried about?

“We will not participate in the violence threatened by those disappointed with the outcome,” said President Oaks.  The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles “condemn violence and lawless behavior, including the recent violence in Washington D.C. and any suggestion of further violence.”

Should this be their message right now?  It’s surely the common woke PR theme now as conservatives all over the world are being cancelled.  Marriott for example just announced it would never again give financial support to the Congressmen who voted against the electoral results from the 6 or 7 states that, by the way, submitted two opposing slates of electors.  Most companies have done the same.  Some are now calling for the removal of Senators Hawley and Cruz or even for their prosecution.  This, just after a one day impeachment proceeding, where zero credible evidence was relied upon to AGAIN impeach a president for having done nothing wrong.

Old ladies are being ripped off planes because they said the name Trump.  People are now on the terrorist no fly list because they dared chant USA and traitor to Mitt Romney on a flight.  Banks and Credit Card companies and phone companies are tracking and punishing their customers if they were in DC on January 6th.  Parler shut down.  100s of thousands of conservative Twitter accounts purged while people who have F bombed and threatened the lives of conservatives including hostile terror regimes are kept online.  Liberals like Maxine Waters have told democrats to “Get up in their face in the restaurant!”  Facebook, the company the LDS Church has 1 billion dollars of stock in, literally helped steal this last election.

I would have hoped that the Church would have sent out a message regarding the importance of election integrity, the importance of due process, of honoring the Office of our President, the value and importance of standing up against tyranny, the importance of not giving up our freedoms out of fear, the importance of free speech and not banning or canceling the speech of those you disagree with…  The list could go on and on.  Why hasn’t the Church been speaking out in defense of our freedoms?  Why won’t the Church condemn the Left, and yet is so quick to condemn the Right?  All while saying it remains politically neutral.

Is the Church out of touch with reality?

This week the Church came out with a new publication called Deseret Magazine.  Its first cover highlights what seems to be their current thinking.

And who do they turn to to lecture us on how to fix America in this first issue?  Mitt Romney, Jeff Flake, Cindy McCain, and Ben Sasse.  To me, this represents a very dire incorrect world view, if they believe that anyone in America thinks these people can provide us with AN OUNCE of healing wisdom.  These fools are the problem in our political system.  They represent everything many of us have come to hate: hypocrisy, duplicity, treachery, dishonesty, cowardice, and self-righteousness.  Is that what the Church wants to lead with in helping heal the nation?

Meanwhile the Church seems intent on doubling down on what it believes is most important right now.  Not election integrity or the importance of America surviving a communist coup, but rather how can we better love the LGBTQ community.  Deseret Book was leading with this advertisement just this week in its mass emails.  (Keep in mind that the Church’s website is devoid of anything relating to the current political situation except reference to its statement on condemning Trump supporters)

Forget how sacrilegious it is to mock God’s covenant rainbow and forget how insincere and foolish it is to pander and stereotype and tacitly encourage perversions…  forget all that for a moment and let’s just focus on the timing here.  We are literally 3 days away from potentially losing our NATION and the Church thinks it needs to do more to make LGBTQ people feel more  at home.

Was the Church of Jesus Christ of Sodom-day Saints promoting how to better love their gay neighbors when God sent fire from heaven down to destroy them?  Was that their focus then?  Meanwhile the gay neighbors were trying to have sex with the angels sent to Lot’s house causing Lot to offer his virgin daughters up to them to satisfy their insatiable, societally-accepted normalized sexual appetites.

Of course we’re supposed to LOVE everyone, but that does not mean we pander to them.  I love liberals and have many gay and liberal friends.  But, I will not pretend like I don’t think THEY and their ideologies are not largely responsible for the current loss of our nation which if and when it actually happens will lead to the deaths of hundreds of millions of people.  For God will NOT be mocked!  Their complicity in abortion alone is sufficient condemnation for our nation’s destruction. This is not to say that there is not ample wickedness on all sides to invoke the wrath of God, but Sodomy is named after Sodom for a reason.

Other messages from the Church at this time of world crisis are:

And…

And let’s not forget the courageous story about Cosmo the Cougar coming out as gay…  that too can be found being showcased at a Deseret Book near you.

Is this true leadership at a time when we need it most?  Does this demonstrate seership or even discernment?  What would Captain Moroni say at this time, if he were here with us?  What would President Benson say?  I thought we were supposed to stand for what is right and let the consequences follow?  Is Communism no longer a threat?  Was he wrong?  Was President Benson old-fashioned?  Would he be happy with our new LGBTQ focus?  If not, then was he a false prophet?  What does the Church believe about free speech?  Censorship?  The right to bear arms?  Illegal immigration?  The rule of law?  American greatness?  The Constitution?

The Church I was raised in fought against the gay agenda.  It was actively involved in politics against gay marriage and abortion.  The president I revered the most spoke out about the imminent threat of Communism and warned us they were trying to infiltrate every aspect of our society by pushing God out of our schools and by taking over the education of our children among many other things.  Again, I ask WHERE IS THE LEADERSHIP TODAY?  We need it!  WHERE IS COURAGE?  WHERE IS PROPHECY?  Where do we turn and where will we go IF and WHEN our beloved America is no more?

…Where is Zion?

I weep for the current state we find ourselves in.  I had hoped that wickedness would not prevail in this current coup.  It’s not just a president that is having his office stolen from him.  It’s a nation having its freedoms and its Constitution taken.

If the Troops turn out to be there for Trump, then we will be facing very tough times ahead.

If the Troops are there for the Leftists, we will be in for even worse times than we can possibly imagine.

If we are going to be attacked by a foreign adversary at this time of transition, then God help us all.

These are sobering times.  Like you, I’ve been in mourning and pleading with God to save our nation.  We now see what they will do when they get full power.  Perhaps the most disappointing thing for me has been the acknowledgment that nearly ALL institutions are failing us.

As I was looking for answers this week I opened the scriptures and noticed a verse in Nephi that had been highlighted.

And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the whore of all the earth, and she sat upon many waters, and she had dominion over all the earth, among all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people. And it came to pass that I beheld the church of the Lamb of God, and its numbers were few because of the wickedness and abominations of the whore who sat upon many waters. Nevertheless, I beheld that the church of the Lamb, who were the saints of God, were also upon all the face of the earth; and their dominions upon the face of the earth were small because of the wickedness of the great whore whom I saw. And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together in multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld the power of the Lamb of God, that it descended upon the saints of the church of the Lamb and upon the covenant people of the Lord, who were scattered upon all the face of the earth. And they were armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory. And it came to pass that I beheld that the wrath of God was poured out upon that great and abominable church, insomuch that there were wars and rumors of wars among all the nations and kindreds of the earth. And as there began to be wars and rumors of wars among all the nations which belonged to the mother of abominations, the angel spake unto me, saying, Behold, the wrath of God is upon the mother of harlots, and behold, thou seest all these things. And when the day cometh that the wrath of God is poured out upon the mother of harlots — which is the great and abominable church of all the earth, whose foundation is the Devil — then at that day the work of the Father shall commence in preparing the way for the fulfilling of his covenants which he hath made to his people who are of the house of Israel.

What is the whore of all the earth?  Is it ANY and EVERY institution that has been corrupted by money, fame, fortune, power, etc?  How many of these institutions “depend upon” China for example?  Or upon Government?  Are controlled by the media or Big Tech?  Are addicted to power and wealth?  Sex?  Have been brainwashed by public education?  Fear being canceled, sued, deplatformed?  Walmart, last I checked, was a patriotic company.  But, today they are beholden to the Whore and have shown that their business model is more important than their nation.  What members of Congress surprised you recently because of their ties to the Whore?  How many have caved to the pressure?  Their funding, their offices, the safety of their loved ones… all is at risk if they do not pledge allegiance to the Great Whore.  Its dominion is over the whole earth.  And now She, who is the Mother of Abominations (sexual perversion, abortion, murder, lying, stealing, etc.) is gathering together among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God.  Who are they fighting and what are they fighting against?  THEY may not even know exactly WHY they are doing what they are.  Satan and his allies know that their kingdom is about to be toppled.  And there’s ONLY one people it is concerned with.  The people who have a covenant from God who are scattered upon all the face of the earth.  For all we know the number of people scattered is 8.  Or 800.  None of that matters.  This small group with a Covenant from almighty God threatens the adversary’s rule, reign, power, and existence.  When God lifts up the small Ark of the Covenant people, Satan’s kingdom, now amassing and consolidating, and that currently has dominion over the whole earth, will fall.  And great shall be the fall thereof and MANY there will be who are swept off.

The Book of Mormon warns us of what we now see happening.  Sadly, even the LDS Church seems to be acting like Walmart.  Just doing what it needs to in order to survive.  It fears the loss of its 501c3 and the destruction of its property.  It fears offending the 20% or so within the Church who are now liberals.  It fears offending future progressives in nations around the world it hopes to convert.  I was told this last week that a handful of the Brethren (Top 15) are liberal and would support Biden and Romney and that most did not like Trump.  This was from someone who would know.  I feel sorry for them if this is the case and I predict that many will lose faith in the Church as a result.

To put it into perspective the Church is aligning with:

  • Hollywood, including Lady Gaga. In fact, if Biden wins, the Tabernacle Choir will be singing at the same event as Lady Gaga who was recently seen in a disgusting picture drinking the blood of children.
  • Big Tech
  • Big Business
  • Communist China
  • The NBA, including Lebron James
  • Professional Sports
  • MItt Romney and Harry Reed and Nancy Pelosi and Mayor Lightfoot, and Governor Cuomo, and Gavin Newsome and Chuck Schumer and ALL the liberals who are so corrupt you can’t put it into words.  Hillary, Bill, Bill Gates, Obama…
  • Big Pharma

The Church is aligning with the World.  Babylon.  The Whore.

This is the team the Church is on by calling Joe Biden and congratulating him while the election was and IS being contested.  This is the team the Church chooses when it makes woke statements timed with the events of riots, and plandemics, and false flag operations…  This is the team the Church chooses when they PROMOTE LGBTQ rights.  And when they set up a website for LDS Transgenders.  And when they negotiate with murderous communist China to try to get a Temple in their country.  The Church IS choosing THIS team.  You can decide if that offends what you believe or not.  But don’t tell me it isn’t a shift in direction for them.

The Church should look at the Republican Party’s base and realize this truth — WE WILL NEVER TRUST THEM AGAIN!  I for one, will never vote again, let alone vote for a Republican.  We see them now for what they are and conclude that they are just all talk.  Sounding brass and tinkling symbols.  The Church may face the same reality here soon if they do not change course.  And thanks to them and every other cowardly institution, afraid of being cancelled, we may very well lose our nation this week.

A Temple

There’s been a lot of discussion of late regarding a new temple fund that both members and non-members are donating to.  Before the LDS Church established tithing as the mechanism to pay for temples, “temple funds” were very common.

In the early days of the Church and according to Malachi, tithing was for the purpose of bringing “meat into the storehouse” so as to care for the poor.  Whereas a temple fund was for the purpose of building “a” temple.  Once that temple was completed (i.e. Kirtland), the temple fund was no longer needed.

Of course today, the Church has decided to bring the temples to the people.  This is a subject for a different day, but suffice it to say that this idea does not seem to reconcile with scripture nor with anything Joseph Smith taught.  There is no prophecy I know of that says temples will dot the earth, from Joseph, Jesus, or in the Holy Scriptures.  The prophecy as I understand it, is to build temples in two places, New and Old Jerusalem.

Understandably there are many who are worried that some random group starting a temple fund seems premature at best and inappropriate (and/or crazy) at worst.  After all, “we don’t have the authority to build a temple or to create Zion, that’s the Church’s stewardship”… right?

I can certainly relate to those who have concerns about this project.

On one hand, it’s amazing to think that at some point if we’re lucky enough in our lifetime, a new temple will be built in the New Jerusalem on this the American continent.  And a city will be built up to the Most High God called Zion.  Like many of you, I’ve yearned for this day and have prayed many times that me and many others would be so lucky to live to see it.

On the other hand, what if this is all a hoax and people are being led astray?

Like many of you, for most of my life I’ve assumed the Church would build both temples in New and Old Jerusalem and would establish Zion.

I used to ask Hugh Nibley (whose ward I belonged to for a brief period) questions about this very topic.  I had just read his book Approaching Zion.  “What event will cause the Church to move its headquarters to Independence?”  I would ask.  “Does the Heber C. Kimball prophecy of ‘not even an old yellow dog being left to wag its tail’ need to be fulfilled first?”  “Will an earthquake hit Salt Lake City, thus cleansing the inner vessel, and cause the Church to go back to Missouri?”

Brother Nibley was always cordial about my questions but would usually quickly act as though he had other things to do.

My questions and ideas are very different today however.

I do not seek to offend anyone reading this, but I don’t see the Church as currently being capable of building Zion.  Nor do I see Zion being in Independence, Missouri.  And sadly, I don’t believe that a prophet, like an Isaiah, or a John the Baptist, or Joseph Smith can rise up in leadership in the Church today.

And so how will it work?  How will it all happen?  How will Zion come to pass and how will a city and temple be built?  To be completely honest, I’m not sure.  What will the forerunner of the Messiah’s second coming look like?  What will he say and do?  How many will believe that messenger or those servants that are sent?

I’m generally a skeptic.  Like many of you, I’ve been disappointed by men many times before.  But if a group of people seek to raise funds to build what they believe will be the Temple of the New Jerusalem, why should I want to stop them?  Or want to see them fail?

I’d rather be foolishly trying to support Zion than to accidentally fight against it.

Let’s say for example that the people involved in this project raise $5M and end up running off with the money.  Or build some strange building that looks like a compound in Waco, Texas.  For me, that would be a great way to see if the Lord is truly in this effort or not.  I’m assuming the Church has wasted our money in the past.  Why would this be any worse?  If this is from God, we will know soon enough (Acts 5:38).

Some of you may be especially sensitive to the concept of church waste since just this last week we discovered that the Church leaders are paid very healthy salaries.  At least $120,000 each, putting our “lay ministers” in the top 10% income bracket in the U.S.  Add amazing health insurance and life insurance and pensions and social security benefits and reimbursed travel and food and education for their families and book royalties to this package and these “lay ministers” cost us tithe-payers (directly or indirectly – it’s all the same source of money) more than $5 million a year that’s for sure.  The saddest part about this is that most of us have been led to believe or have been told that our church leaders are not paid anything.  See Thomas Monson website as one example.

So for me, giving to this effort seems to be a no-brainer, especially given that it can be done anonymously.  I’d certainly consider giving money to a homeless person to build a house.  Or to any sincere group of people trying to raise money to build a synagogue or a church building or Masonic Lodge or a food pantry.  No one here is being asked to sacrifice their china, sell their home or their cars.  No one is being asked to make a sacrifice that hurts or to even donate at all.

So why not?  Why not give to this effort and see what happens?  What would be the worst thing that could come from it?

I love the quote from Joseph Smith who said “It is better to feed ten impostors than to run the risk of turning away one honest petition.”  I’d rather give in this case than not, just in case this is the Lord’s project.

In fact, it would be a great strategy for the Church to fund this project.  It would be the quickest way to see if this movement is from God or not.  The Church donates money to other organizations all the time — to Catholic Charities, the Red Cross, to rodeos, businesses, posh theaters, and to the BSA etc., all of whom by the way, have motives not always aligned with our own, or with the church’s vision of building Zion.

So why not give?  What do we have to lose?

If 100,000 people all give $100 to this effort, they’d raise $10,000,000, which I’d think would be enough to buy some land and build a temple.  Would you pay $100 to find out if this effort will lead to Zion?  I would.

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 if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be.  1 Nephi 13:37

Profits, Sewers, and Elevators

elevators

Words matter.  When today’s 15 Apostles of the Church use words to describe themselves such as “true messengers, special witnesses, sure witnesses, certain witnesses, prophets, seers, revelators, and apostles” it becomes our sacred duty to determine if they are being misleading or telling the truth.  Especially given that we pay for undisclosed salaries and benefits packages and give them 1/10th of all we possess.  The duty to discern their words falls upon us members.

They call themselves prophets, seers, and revelators.  But whether they prophesy, see, or reveal remains to be seen.  In fact, the opposite appears to be true.

Did Brigham prophesy correctly when he said the Church would no longer be true if it abandoned polygamy or gave priesthood to the blacks?

Did Thomas receive a true revelation to not baptize children whose parents have made lifestyle choices we disagree with?

Did Gary receive a revelation to allow for gay leaders in Boy Scouts?

Did Spencer receive a revelation to give blacks the priesthood or was the Church worried it would lose its non-profit status with the IRS?

Where are the additional sections of the Doctrine and Covenants formalizing all the revelations they receive?  Where are the prophesies of these men we adulate?  Which of them possesses stones through which they see?  Why will none of them declare as do prophets of old that they have seen Him even on the right hand of God?  Why do they continue to speak in parables using vain and ambiguous language because some things are simply “too sacred” to share?

We have allowed time and tradition to warp and distort the true meaning of words.

I am curious by show of hands (comments) which of you who consider yourselves to be True Blue Mormons, believe that these men see God.  Or at least Angels.  I have heard the Brethren say that they are sure witnesses of Christ and that they know Him as well as the ancient Apostles.  What do you think these words mean?  Elder Anderson said at a funeral this last week that his witness was “certain.”  What does he mean by this?

Can we at least agree that some of these men lead us to believe, by their words, that they have seen Him?  That they converse with Him face to face?  And that it would be a grave and tragic issue, if in fact they have not?

I think there is no greater question that can be asked of these men than, “Have you or have you not seen the Lord?”  If you have not, then shame on you for leading us to believe that you have!  If you have, then where are your revelations?  Your expounding of scripture?  Your bold testimonies that carry to the hearts of the children of men?  Why do you take surveys when you have the keys to revelation?  Why are you using our sacred funds to build malls and cities rather than help the poor?

If we have 15 prophets among us, why have we not created Zion?  Where are the signs that follow after you?  Where are the tongues, the Angels, the miracles, the prophesies, the additional scriptures, or even the doctrinal dissertations?

I do not look forward to the teleprompter talks this next week, written by paid speech writers and assistants who worship them.  Parables of pickles and talks about following the Brethren even when they are wrong and of the Old Ship Zion.  Same old Ship, different day.  To me it has all become noise.  Words no longer have meaning.  And messages from these men do not have the power to change hearts.  They only seek to control and to keep others from entering in.

I invite you to contrast their words to the words of scripture.  If ye lack wisdom, ask God, not men.  Follow Christ, not the Brethren.  He is a real Man.  Sadly “they” are all effeminate impostors.  Might as well be Profits, Sewers, and Elevators, for they have corrupted the Holy Church of God, and their titles no longer mean anything.

God bless you as you seek Him, not them.

AB

Zion Postponed

city_of_zion_platThis last year has been a very difficult and yet enlightening one for me personally.  Most of you don’t know me and so I will spare you from much of the personal information.  But suffice it to say, this has been a year where I have learned much.  Like many in the world, I have seen sickness, death and destruction all around me.  I have looked into the skies at the signs that prophets foresaw millennia ago.  I have witnessed miracles and have seen love grow in some of my most important relationships.  I have experienced forgiveness in damaged or destroyed relationships and feel as though I’ve received added light.  And yet, I am reminded of what a fool I am.  So quick to anger, vanity, fear, retaliation, judgment, greed, and laziness.  The more I study and ponder, the more I recognize my awful state before God as well as the awful state of our church.

When I first began to allow myself to consider that the church might not be what I had always defended it to be, my world began to fall apart.  I was a bishop at the time.  To some I was the poster child of Mormonism.  Son of converts, valiant in my youth, from a large active family, son of a father who had many important church callings, of a mother known for her kindness and zeal; an eagle scout, returned missionary, temple married, BYU educated, a leader in the church at a young age.  I served in my first bishopric in my early twenties.  My second bishopric in my late twenties.  On the high council in my mid twenties.  I was interviewed as a potential stake president in my early forties and was told by the outgoing stake president that they almost selected me.

I share none of this to gloat or to brag.  I merely share it to demonstrate that when it came to commitment to the church, I was all in.  I loved the church with all my energy and served it and defended it for my entire life.

But, as I have noted here in this blog, there have been times along the way where my faith in the church has been challenged.  In times past, I most often erred on the side of defending the church and the brethren.  For much of my life, I had assumed the gospel and the church were mostly the same thing.   That began to change however, as I was met with further contradictions.  Separating the two became a required spiritual survival technique for me.

The last stand for me with the church was that I had held onto the Brethren being True Witnesses of Jesus Christ.  I believed they stood where I hoped to one day stand — even in His presence.  I believed in this doctrine since first gaining my testimony as a very young man.  In reality it was my testimony.   I read of Calling and Election Made Sure and I knew that this was man’s very purpose and I believed with all my heart that these particular men, the leaders of the church, HAD achieved this end!  After all, they had always reassured me that they “knew” Him and were special witnesses of Him.  Call me naive, but I believed them until only a few years ago.

Now, lest you think me apostate, let me remind my readers that I believe in God the Father, in His Son Jesus, in His servant Joseph and in the Restoration and in the Book of Mormon.  I am not a whacko.  I’m not a wannabe polygamist.  I consider myself a very normal “LDS” person.  BUT I do not and can no longer believe that the leaders of this church are anywhere near the equivalency of Joseph Smith.  To say so is to mock God!  Additionally, my spiritual journey has led me to believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is in a state of apostasy and has been since the early days of the Church when its members refused to accept the fulness of the Gospel.  This is further evidenced by the fact that LDS prophets today do not prophesy!  They do not see!  They do not reveal!  Ironically, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men.  They worship Handbooks and consult the learned and rely upon their attorneys.  Their lips draw nigh unto Him, but their hearts are so far from Him!  They preach the precepts of men and lead souls to Hell, yea even the very elect.  Because they do not KNOW Him!  They cannot have the testimony of Jesus nor have they received the Gospel.  If they had, there would be an abundance of signs that follow after them.  They would be healing the sick, they would be obsessed with expounding Scripture especially Isaiah, they would be focused on the poor and in building up Zion.  When’s the last time you even heard an LDS prophet speak of building Zion?  Thus we are of Paul and of Thomas and of Gordon and even of Jesus, but we do not have His testimony before the Father and thus we are damned!

I read this week in the Joseph Smith Papers that in June 1834, Joseph announced that the Lord had revealed to him that the redemption of Zion was being postponed “for a little season” (page 44, JS Papers, Volume 1, Journals also see D&C 105).  The reason for this postponement, despite that Joseph had just rallied an armed expedition of righteous and zealous volunteers to “restore and redeem Zion” was because the church refused to live by the laws of the Celestial Kingdom AND because the “leading elders of the church were not yet endowed with power from on high.”

I ask you my friends, are we any closer to the establishment of Zion today?  Have our leaders now truly been endowed from on High?  More so than the original 12?  Have they been in His presence?  Can we trust them as true messengers?  Are we living by the law of the Celestial Kingdom?   Joseph once taught, “Without a Zion and a place of deliverance, we must fall, because the time is near when the sun will be darkened, the moon turn to blood, the stars fall from heaven and the earth reel to and fro.”  Have we fallen?  Will we fall?  Are the signs and prophesies being fulfilled while Zion is yet postponed?

Do you trust these men with your salvation?  I do not!  Do you trust them to save your children?  I DO NOT!  Do they teach the words of eternal life?  Or are they just nice, good men, trying to do the best they can with what they’ve been given?  How are you receiving their teachings!?  Very well?  If so, then you will be damned for they teach the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

We must needs repent and be born again before it is everlastingly too late.  We must awaken and learn to discern between true and false messengers or we will die when Christ comes AND shall never be a part of Zion.  If we remain lulled and contented by these current teachings we will never recognize true messengers when and if they ever come to us.

I no longer see things as I did as a child.  I now judge of their works and am no longer fooled.  I have been in their secrets councils.  I witness that they would rather cover up the truth than expose their own hypocrisy!  They make exceptions and play favorites.  The rules do not apply to their own!  I witness that they know not God and stand not in His presence.  I add my witness that only the broken hearted and the contrite in spirit will be filled with light and be saved in Zion.  I believe that a servant has come among us who has the words of eternal life, if we will be but humble enough to read, to learn, and to hear.

“I Am Scripture”

Bednar

In a recent meeting Elder Bednar was supposedly asked a question by a sister missionary about women and the priesthood. He’s said to have given his own thoughts about the subject and when he concluded, the sister asked a follow up question.  “Are there any scriptures that talk about this subject?” Elder Bednar responded, “I am scripture.”

Now in fairness to Elder Bednar, I’ve heard this account from two different sources both in attendance at this meeting, and thus I relate the story relying upon second hand information.  If any readers have also heard this same story, please correct or confirm the details.

My first reaction to such a statement is not good.  Yet I fully understand as an LDS person raised in the church, that Elder Bednar is only stating what we teach.  “When a ‘prophet’ speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, it is scripture.”  Elder Bednar obviously considers himself a prophet and many of us sustain him in that calling.

But, we are also taught that “when any person speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost, it is scripture.”

So why give more credence to the words of Elder Bednar than say… someone else claiming to speak by the Holy Ghost?  The standard LDS answer is “because God’s house is a house of order and that’s why keys are so important.  Whoever has the keys AND speaks by the power of the Holy Ghost is who you listen to.”

For nearly 170 years (post-Joseph), these men we sustain as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators have been able to more or less say “Let it be written, for I am scripture.”  Their Conference talks are immortalized and their words are given as lessons and talks and made into refrigerator magnets all around the world for years and decades to come.

Abundance Oaks

The Immortalized Words of General Conference

But to what end?

For me when someone (and I mean anyone, besides The Lord) says something akin to “I am scripture” the effect is to shut down any and all further communication or questions. The same can be said of many statements we tend to make as Mormons.

I’m reminded of a missionary companion who liked to one-up investigators who disagreed by “boldly” bearing his testimony. Its effect? The conversation usually stopped awkwardly. He taught other missionaries this principle too.  “Whenever you can’t answer a question, just bear your testimony (really hard).”

One time we were having a great discussion with a Catholic gentleman. He was hung up on The Book of Mormon. His questions and concerns were sincere. Then it came. “Sir, I know The Book or Mormon is true beyond a shadow of any doubt and that this church is the only true and living church on the whole earth!” This man replied with his own testimony. “Well, I know The Book of Mormon is NOT true and that your church is NOT the only true church on the whole earth!” My companion was taken aback. I waited for him to say “IS NOT!” like a 4-year old who has no logical arguments left. Fortunately he didn’t.

To be fair, our investigator wasn’t saying he “knew” anything. He was merely demonstrating how strange and immature such grand statements sounded to him and how off-putting they were.  The conversation usually just ends.

Even to members of the church familiar with such bravado, the effect of these traditional tactics can be very damaging.

To say “I know God lives,” five times in a row, for example, while increasing the pauses in between sentences, while climactically raising the tone of your voice each time, may just lead someone to believe you have literally stood in the Lord’s presence. This was a technique I observed from the late Elder Loren C. Dunn. If he had not actually seen God, would this be a good thing to do? Might this cause people to treat someone as a light and heap upon them their praise?

Monson

I spoke to a brother recently who provides security detail for the Brethren when they come to his area. He is a trained police officer. He told me that when an Apostle, Prophet or even a Seventy come nowadays, there are members who try to find out what hotel they are staying in so they can stalk them and try to meet them. He recently had to rescue a visiting GA from an overly excited LDS crowd, literally removing him from danger. The spared GA told this brother that it’s getting worse and worse as they travel around the world.

Curious, I asked why he believed members reacted like this around the Brethren. He said “It’s like they’re rock stars and people think that because they know the Savior, that if they can just touch them, something amazing will happen!” He then went on to say that a full grown man from his stake boasted that he shook Elder Ballard’s hand and was “never going to wash it again.”

Such adoration and idolatry is anti-Zion and anti-Christ. All of us can learn a lesson from this. Maybe you or I are not tempted by GA celebrity status, but our own claims may cause others to look to us as a light instead of to Him.

The Savior’s Example

The Savior of the world epitomized meekness and humility. When he was called “good,” he objected and deflected all praise to God (Matthew 19:17). When he gave talks, he quoted scripture, giving all recognition to the prophet he quoted. This despite the fact that it was He, the Great Jehovah, who had given the quote to begin with.  Unlike any mortal, “prophet or not,” Jesus IS literally the Word of God.  He, and only He, is Scripture.

When Jesus taught He did not often make bold self-promoting proclamations to induce obedience or to enhance his bona fides. Clearly He was entitled to, but He more often said:

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. (Matthew 5:21) or “Blessed are the meek…”

He could have just as easily said “I am the Great Jehovah who once commanded you, Thou shalt not kill…” or “I the God of Heaven and Earth command you to be meek now before I pull your temple recommend.”

Jesus does not use His power and authority to compel obedience and adoration.

Although perfect Himself, He invited others to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

Jesus speaks in plainness and humility.

And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things… (Ether 12:39)

Notice that Moroni’s claims are also plain, overt, and factual. He doesn’t leave the audience guessing whether he did or did not see the Lord.

Some Ideas to Consider

Whether leader or layperson, none of us is perfect.  We can benefit from each others’ feedback and prayers.  It’s a humbling and difficult experience to recognize or be made aware of our weaknesses.  The Brethren need not feel threatened, condemned or judged by our feedback.  They deserve our help as much as we deserve theirs.  Furthermore, it is incumbent upon us to discern when they or anyone act and speak in the Lord’s name, otherwise we do them no favors and we only damn ourselves.

Here are just a few suggestions that I think would help us as members to NOT idolize the Brethren as well as to not set ourselves up as lights unto the world (2 Nephi 26:29).

We should never mislead people about what we know. We should not exaggerate our claims. If we haven’t seen Jesus or Angels, we should not make people believe we have.  We should not mislead others about it by speaking in circles or by emphasizing how special our witness is. Let’s be honest and humble and direct ALL praise to our Lord.  Only He can save.

Most of us can all do better in deflecting compliments and praise. Jesus said we should not even call one another Rabbi, which is to say Master or Teacher (Matthew 23:7). In my ward the CES contingency take turns suggesting that the other is one of the “Great Master Teachers of the Kingdom.” I believe such things to be devilish and destructive and yet all of us are tempted to heap praise upon each other.  It’s our culture.

We should not often call people by their full names preceded with titles. Let’s drop the words president, elder, beloved, prophet, seer, revelator, general authority, etc. from our vocabulary when addressing someone. EVEN Jesus said to not call Him good! Do we really suppose He would have liked to be called Our Beloved President Jesus (add initial) Christ, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, while in mortality?  To do so is to desecrate Him; His calling. Why should we be greater than He?   He was called “Jesus.”  That should serve as our model when speaking to or about each other, no matter our calling.  Titles and initials inflate egos.

Church Leaders not speaking at General Conference would send a powerful message if they did NOT sit on the stand. In fact, they could even dress normally, i.e. not to the nines in expensive suits and dresses (fine twined linen?) and they could serve as Ushers and Parking Attendants and assist the infirm. They should consider standing at the doorways rather than sitting in plush red seats where all can see. Didn’t the Savior teach us to be servants especially when we are viewed as greatest?  (Matthew 32:11).  Let the poor and the elderly sit in those seats.

General Authority families should not be given preferential seats at General Conference. They should not occupy the entire front section of the Conference Center as they currently do. These people should get in line with the rest of us for tickets.  Why not let first year converts or investigators sit in those seats?  Or the handicapped?

NO calling in the church should EVER BE REMUNERATED nor should anyone receive a stipend who teaches or serves in the church (Mosiah 18:24). The church knows that its 80,000+ missionaries and its 3+ million active members of the church tell everyone that what makes us different from all other churches is that no one is paid.  The Brethren KNOW this is what we tell people.  And yet some of us KNOW this is not true.  It’s simply wrong to encourage the lie by not correcting the record.  It’s dishonest.  It’s immoral.  It would be one thing perhaps if the brethren were merely being supported.  This is simply not true.  They earn very large sums of money as a direct result of their callings.  The church needs to come clean and set the record straight and deal with the consequences.

ALL transactions and expenditures ought to be made available for members to see.  Every contract, every piece of property bought or sold, every trip, every personal expense, every stipend, every salary, every bonus, every royalty ought to be made public.

Church leaders should not fly First Class as I have witnessed on more than one occasion.  For those of you that don’t think this possible, here is a recent picture of President Nelson.

13k_Nelson

He’s apparently on an International flight from SLC to Germany, traveling with Elder Hallstrom accompanied by their wives and someone who appears to be Elder Nelson’s bodyguard (far right in the picture) ALL flying First Class.  Retail price of each ticket?  $13,000.  Coach price?  $1300.  What would be wrong with sitting in a regular seat with normal folks?  It would sure save a lot of tithing money.  One ticket at this price is equal to two years of tithing for a person who makes $65,000 per year. Fifty people could have flown for the price likely paid for these five tickets!  One ticket would pay for an entire mission for a young man or young woman who cannot afford it.

Are these men so frail and so important that they can’t sit in a normal airplane seat?  Why not just pay the extra $100 for more leg room?  “But everyone would bother them if they were in coach” one might argue.  But, isn’t that their calling?  To preach the gospel whenever they can?  I’ve heard more than one apostle say we should pray when we get on a flight that we will be able to share the gospel with someone seated next to us.  How does the future prophet of the church do that here surrounded by his wife on his right and protected by hired muscle on his left?

Church leaders should not be served the sacrament first, but rather should bless it and administer it as servants to the congregation as the D&C teaches.

There are many small but important changes the church could make that I believe would both help the church to better conform with scripture as well as prevent people from leaving.  Again, brothers and sisters, it’s our duty as members of Christ’s church to sustain these men in their callings by sharing our concerns.  We need not be angry or revile against anyone.  We can share our concerns with love.  If we don’t, then who will?  Anti-Mormons?  It is far better that we encourage positive change from within by “common consent” than have it imposed upon us by the wrath of God, when it’s likely too late.  We who believe in the Restoration must open our mouths.  Those in the chief seats would do well to stop trying to silence those who offer their concerns.  It’s our church too.  The Savior’s message to the church leaders of his day seems to still apply to us in our day.  Will we heed the call of our Master?

And Jesus said unto his disciples, Beholdest thou the scribes, and the Pharisees, and the priests, and the Levites? They teach in their synagogues, but do not observe the law, nor the commandments; and all have gone out of the way, and are under sin.  Go thou and say unto them, Why teach ye men the law and the commandments, when ye yourselves are the children of corruption?  Say unto them, Ye hypocrites, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.  (JST Matthew 7:6–8)

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?