Christians v Pharisees: Choosing Sides And How To Fight For Them In The Mormon Civil War
EPISODE 5B - THIS IS YOUR PLACE IN THE PHARISEE FINANCIAL FEUDAL SYSTEM: ‘TOODLE PIP, TITHING!’
- TOODLE PIP, TITHING
- THE MARX BRETHREN PRESENT: THE THREE RICHEST STOOGES IN THE WORLD
- FULL STEAM BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH DALLIN
- LIBERATE THE CAPTIVE MISSIONARIES
- MAUNDY MONEY
Christians vs Pharisees: Choosing sides and how to fight for them in the Mormon Civil War
EPISODE 5B This Is Your Place in the Pharisee Financial Feudal System – TOODLE PIP, TITHING!
Welcome intrepid listeners! This is the second minisode of three exploring the Pharisee Feudal System that has created in the global Church a sometimes hidden but very real system of cultural and financial colonial exploitation that channels power, control and a LOT of money, privileges and opportunities to the General Authorities and their communities in the Mormon heartlands of the Unites States of America that are not offered to the rest of us or equally distributed to the global membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints even though we outnumber them.
In Episode 5A I focused on some of the larger principles regarding money and religion and the impact of the Whistleblower revelation that the Church is rich beyond anyone’s wildest estimates. In this Episode 5B - Toodle Pip, Tithing – I take a close look at how the Presiding Bishopric and the First Presidency scrambled to try and downplay the significance of this and justify their hoard of hundreds of billons of dollars, what the things they said tell us about their thinking, and how incapable they are of even understanding what they have done from the point of view of both common sense and the scriptures about money management.
I propose ways to use that money to radically transform the often very unequal financial burdens on full time missionaries and their families, give them back years of their life to accomplish the things the Apostles keep telling them are important instead of sabotaging them, and how the Church leadership and culture fetishizes the experience of the international Mormons living in extreme poverty and demands more money from them when all the scriptures say the money should be given TO them to lift them out of poverty.
I also take a really close look at the vision for the Church that Dallin Oaks has as the dominant ideologue already, and next in line to be President of the Church, and how his purely Pharisee belief system has infiltrated every part of the Church now, and what that means for us all, and how it relates to their choices about money management, doctrine and policy and how they exercise power in their Feudal System.
In Episode 5C I will investigate how the General Authorities DO get personally rich from their callings, how they do everything they can to suppress the skill of skeptical critical analysis in themselves and all the Church members and how this backfires on them, how they have begun to behave like royalty, cancelling our fun while making us pay for theirs, how the Church’s universities use all of our tithing to pay for the white American Mormons’ middle class education and opportunities that underpins the lifestyle they expect us to imitate for free, how they have refused to pay for basic facilities in our countries while splashing our cash on theirs, and how this could all change overnight if we choose to use the General
Authorities’ love language to tell them how.
TOODLE PIP, TITHING
The silver lining of the cloud of the LDS Church’s rapacious wealth hoarding is that the Ensign Peak investments now yield $7 billion in interest dividends every year, which is a billion or two more than the entire annual expenditure of the Church on absolutely everything, which is around $5 Billion. President Joseph F Smith promised in April 1907 General Conference while thanking the members for their cooperation with the TEMPORARY request to pay tithing of 10% of their annual income, not the usual 10% of any annual PROFITS, and get the Church out of debt, that if the Church ever reached a point of having enough in the storehouse to live off the interest it would not ask for or expect another penny of donations from the members for tithing, fast offering or anything else at all.
He said "Furthermore, I want to say to you, we may not be able to reach it right away, but we expect to see the day when we will not have to ask you for one dollar of donation for any purpose, except that which you volunteer to give of your own accord, because we will have tithes sufficient in the storehouse of the Lord to pay everything that is needful for the advancement of the kingdom of God. I want to live to see that day, if the Lord will spare my life. It does not make any difference, though, so far as that is concerned, whether I live or not. That is the true policy, the true purpose of the Lord in the management of the affairs of His Church." - Joseph F Smith, April 1907 Conference Report, p.7.
Amazingly that very quote was included in the ‘Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Joseph F Smith” study guide we used from 2000-2001 in chapter 31 about tithing. We are now told that the top secret Ensign Peak investment program began about 22 years ago so coincidentally it had just got going then, and now that happy day has come! Ensign Peak has made President Smith’s prophecy come true AND THEN SOME, so noone needs to give the Church another penny. We already paid, far more and for far longer than we should have because the Church got out of debt long ago by demanding 10% of total income rather than 10% of annual profits as it should be. But the greedy Prophets and Apostles have never discontinued that expectation and now frame it as an essential spiritual obligation regardless of your poverty or the actual need for the money. They have completely disconnected the act of donating from the purpose the money is donated to accomplish.
The poor who never make an annual profit were never meant to pay any tithing at all - it was never meant to be paid if you cannot afford it. In the first several decades of Mormonism new converts would pay one tenth of their liquid assets in the year they joined and only 10% of any profits a year if they had any thereafter. There was a strong ethical component in harmony with all those scriptures in the bible that the tithing system absolutely must not oppress the poor and should only be given by those with the means to do so.
So when did that change to asking for 10% of income to help get the Church out of debt? And what were the rules for that if you were poor? It was 1899. As depicted in the film “Windows of Heaven” my generation of Mormon grew up with, Lorenzo Snow was the President who agonised over what to do about the Church’s debts in the aftermath of the state persecution of the Church until it sort of abandoned polygamy. He had probably already decided on the solution, but the story goes and a great way for him to sell it to the Church members as something much more biblical, that while he was speaking to the Saints in southern Utah suffering a brutal drought the answer came to him live as a revelation from God that the members should pay more, a tenth of their income rather than their annual profits, to clear the debts and end the drought.
When the people started paying the tithing of their overall income, God opened the windows of heaven and it rained again. Hurrah! The quote often mentioned in our General Conference talks and lesson manuals, including the Lorenzo Snow study guide that was our curriculum in 2011, is from his October 1899 General Conference address that followed the St George revelation. It reads “I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child … shall pay one tenth of their income as a tithing.” But that’s not what he actually said. The lie is in the ellipses.
What he actually said, as you can read in the October 1899 Conference Report, “I plead with you in the name of the Lord, and I pray that every man, woman and child WHO HAS MEANS shall pay one tenth of their income as a tithing…”
The poor were still never meant to pay tithing. Only those men, women and children who had means to afford it as before. But the First Presidencies of the 20th Century and whoever else has been responsible for using that quote ever since have knowingly, intentionally used those ellipses to lie as they carefully deformed the quote to justify twisting tithing to become the exact, shameless complete opposite of everything it originally meant and what the scriptures teach about tithing being used to liberate rather than oppress and take money from the poor.
When I was growing up and until after my mission paying 10% of your earnings was sold to us as fire insurance – you will be burned at the last day if you don’t pay your tithing! Now they teach that noone can afford NOT to pay it, it is the only way to access some kind of essential set of blessings that no one can do without. And with that has developed a particular and horrifying obsession with making sure even the very most poor people cough up and prioritise tithing over literally everything else, including feeding their own children. It has become a tool for training people to put the Church and its expectations before the welfare of, and their responsibilities to, their own family, and if you fail that test you are unworthy and cannot have a temple recommend because only full tithe payers get to have those.
The first time I noticed this idea appearing on Uchtdorf’s mountain of manmade programs and expectations was in April 2017 General Conference when a Costa Rican member of the Quorum of Seventy called Valeri V Cordon gave a talk called ‘The Language of the Gospel.’ He told us how his father always taught him to use the money he earnt as a child to pay his tithing and save for a mission. During a civil war his father’s business collapsed and they were thrown into poverty.
“One day during those difficult times, I heard my parents discussing whether they should pay tithing or buy food for the children. On Sunday, I followed my father to see what he was going to do. After our Church meetings, I saw him take an envelope and put his tithing in it. That was only part of the lesson. The question that remained for me was what we were going to eat. Early Monday morning, some people knocked on our door. When I opened it, they asked for my father. I called for him, and when he arrived, the visitors told him about an urgent sewing order they needed as quickly as possible. They told him that the order was so urgent that they would pay for it in advance. That day I learned the principles of paying tithing and the blessings that follow.”
I felt that was a bit dangerous to teach as a concept because what if you do that and a miracle doesn’t happen to provide your food? And how is that responsible when we are also teaching everyone to be prudent with their money and live within their means? But it also reminded me of stories I heard growing up from the pioneer days about people turning up at Joseph Smith or other people’s homes with food for them just as they’d run out and prayed for help, so maybe God always provides in that situation. At the same time I was deciding to continue paying tithing on my gross income before taxes because I wanted gross blessings rather than net ones, but troubled about the mixed messages I was getting that the Church was OK with you paying tithing on net of that’s what you felt was right, which seemed like cheating to me, and I was also starting to hear in online forums about a stake president who only paid tithing on annual profits and that was OK if he declared that to be a full tithe, and others were paying direct to Salt Lake so their bishops would not know how much they were paying as a way to bypass uncomfortable conversations and invasions of privacy in tithing settlement. So as always in Mormonism things were complicated.
But what really got me questioning the whole system of tithing the poor was my experiences repeated in a few scenarios as a ward clerk in two wards which I will combine into one narrative to protect privacy. It is the story of a sister who was experiencing major upheavals in her life and just about managing to feed and house her children and being told that she should still pay tithing on her income and as that would tip her into food poverty the ward would compensate by putting her on welfare support. We usually agreed this was ridiculous – that she could provide for them without paying tithing so why make this a far more messy and humiliating situation at a point in her life that was already unbelievably traumatic by feeding her into a system where she would be ritually and bureaucratically humiliated. As the protocols then were, the Relief Society President or Bishop would have to go through all her family finances with her to identify if savings could be made, then they would plan a frugal food budget and meal plans, then the poor Relief Society president would have to do the food shopping for or with her instead of just giving her the money to do it herself and trust her integrity, which was impeccable, and pay for it from her own bank account and then I would have to process the paperwork and receipts to reimburse the Relief Society President and there couldn’t be anything regarded as frivolous or more than the basics in the food shop because the welfare system is meant to “sustain life, not lifestyle” - and we would all have to go through this ridiculous and embarrassing for all concerned rigmarole every week or two for the foreseeable future, all because the Church insisted that she needed the blessings of paying her tithing more than she needed her dignity or to live in a church that was in any way rational. I don’t what she decided to do in the end but I don’t recall any receipts so I think she very wisely chose to preserve a little oasis of dignity and common sense for herself in a world gone mad.
That craziness taught me all I need to know about insisting that people choose to pay tithing instead of using their own money to feed their children. But I am still surrounded by people in poverty agonising about how they are going to pay their tithing and maintain their ticket to the celestial kingdom Temple Recommend when in the first 70 years of the church no one would have expected them to hand over anything and nobody should be expecting them to pay a penny now, with or without Ensign Peak’s profits.
A tithe of overall income by definition is not fair and equal in the sacrifice it demands of people regardless of how much or how little they have, even though I have sat through a lifetime of lessons since I was a child teaching the lie that it is totally fair and exactly the same sacrifice for people with a big income to pay 10% of that as it is for someone with a very low income. Seems logical, doesn’t it? But it isn’t. Losing 10% of your income if you are poor really does mean not being able to feed your children. For the more comfortably off it never means facing that scale of personal sacrifice. Tithing, as currently constituted in the LDS Church, is fundamentally a persecution of the poor, the people Isaiah 58 and all those other scriptures very specifically say it is meant to be used to liberate from that kind financial bondage, not chain them up in it. But have our First Presidency or Presiding bishopric got the first clue about that or the most basic awareness of their own scriptures and their own Church history? Apparently not, or they do and they are just lying about it as they lie about so many other things. Either explanation is not endearing.
President Nelson made sure on his recent world tour that he told the poverty stricken Mormons of Kenya that they must pay a full tithe to the rich American Church and if they did he made them the lying ‘prosperity gospel’ promise of the megachurch evangelicals who run rampant enriching themselves in Africa that this would lift their entire country out of poverty. We don’t need their money - we are now so rich beyond our wildest dreams that the Presiding Bishopric have so much money they don’t even know what to do with it and apparently nor do the First Presidency. The national debt of Kenya is about $70 billion - they could lift Kenya out of poverty immediately by paying that with some of the Ensign Peak funds. Imagine the impact that would have in the world for our reputation. They’re not spending it on anything else – it’s just sitting there – so why not?
In December 2019 Roger Clarke the manager of Ensign Peak was interviewed by the Wall Street journal with the First Presidency’s permission to try and neutralise the appalling publicity heading their way after its existence was revealed to the press. It is one of the most fascinating and Freudian interviews and articles about Mormons I have ever read. Roger was clearly giddy with excitement to finally be able to talk publicly about what has become his life’s work after 22 years and one can only imagine how conflicted he has been all that time, knowing just what a gigantic fraud the First Presidency were paying him to secretly hide from his fellow Mormons in a complicated network of shell companies that had successfully eluded all the journalist and investigators trying hard to work out what the Church’s wealth actually is. So of course he spilled rather a lot of beans in his excitement, bless him. He was like the scientist in the Independence Day movie beside himself with excitement to finally be able to tell someone all about his team’s stunning achievements investigating the technology of the alien spaceship recovered from Roswell in secret decades before.
Roger showed them the actual middle eastern widow’s mite coin they have framed on the office wall to remind everyone to be careful not to waste any of the billions they are reinvesting! He told the Wall Street Journal that they have been asking for years what they should start spending this money on and the answer from the First Presidency is always nothing yet, and vague comments about needing it in the last days. And after the formal interview was over he caught up with them on their way out to unburden his conscience a little further and tell them that the reason the Church leaders had him conceal the true scale of the funds in dozens of shell companies from the Church member tithes and offerings donors was “they never wanted to be in a position where people felt like, you know, they shouldn’t make a contribution.”
No kidding Roger! Bloody hell! I really, truly love him for saying that to the journalists. He must have known in his heart of hearts it would be the highlight of the article and he didn’t have to say it. Or maybe he naively thought that he was off the record by that point. Either way, he knew it needed to be said. He needed to speak his precious piece of the truth to the centre of power he has spent so many years sitting in meetings every fortnight with and yearning for the prophet on the other side of the table to him to do the right thing with his wealth. It must have tested his faith in God, his loyalty to the Church and its President, and his integrity to his own conscience to the very limits of their ability to cope with such titanic contradictory tensions. When the moment came for him to make the difference he did it. He pulled together the courage and spoke the simple truth. The reason the First Presidency kept the Ensign Peak investments so secret that it has emerged that even Boyd K Packer as President of the Quorum of Twelve apostles was told he was not allowed to know how much wealth was in it when he asked, was because they knew that the members of the Church would stop paying them 7 billion dollars in tithing and other offerings every year to keep growing it even more than it was growing already if they knew.
The First Presidency knew it was completely indefensible to both have that much money hoarded and to continue telling even the poorest Church members to pay up, and completely indefensible to make continuing to pay a tenth of your income a fundamental principle of our religion that every new convert and temple recommend seeker must make a sacred covenant to pay.
I presume Roger Clarke got into deep trouble for this and was sent to some kind of “How not to tell the embarrassing truth in media interviews” bootcamp to reeducate him. But since he REALLY knows where all the financial bodies of the Church are buried, and most analysts agree that the Ensign Peak fund could just be a small drop in an even bigger ocean of money and investments, his Sanhedrin Supervisors have probably calculated it would be better not to fire him and end up with two whistleblowers released into the wild at once. This guy seems to have an alarmingly robust conscience when we thought he was completely Church-broke so we need to keep him close and keep an eye on him.
And it wasn’t just the other Apostles who were being kept in the dark in this conspiracy. The Whistleblower David Nielsen who was a senior fund manager at Ensign Peak has revealed that junior Ensign Peak fund managers were carefully isolated from each other so they would never know how much the other subsets of the fund had in them. In some cases they even persuaded accounting companies and regulators to employ faithful Church-broke Mormons to be their point of contact with the funds and keep their secrets. The financial regulation of Churches in the USA is a farce and everyone knows it. Noone expects the IRS to actually punish or fine the Church for allegedly illegally using the tax-free charitable Ensign Peak funds to bail out the Church’s tax paying commercial investments in the City Creek Mall and Beneficial Life Insurance during the last financial crisis with no expectation or promise of making a profit for the fund by doing so as the whistleblower has alleged. You can’t have a tax free charitable fund underwriting a commercial fund.
But more than enough of the truth is now out for every member of the Church willing to look at it to make their own, this time much more informed, decisions about what to think and believe about tithing and other financial donations to the Church.
I won’t be making any financial contributions again until they have actually spent the ones I and 5 generations of my family already gave when we didn’t need to……and I make a profit…… and the Church actually needs it. And nor will a lot of other members horrified by this obscenity. And it won’t make a jot of difference to the Church’s finances at all, but it has radically improved my family’s finances.
We are one of the many just about managing middle class families for whom paying 10% makes a massive difference. Since we stopped paying it we have for the first time in 10 years of marriage been able to clear our overdrafts and start making our home a house of order. It has been a huge blessing to us. I bear my testimony of how much God can bless your family when you stop giving money to incompetent fraudsters and spend it where it will actually do some good. So thankyou Ensign Peak Advisers. Your existence is an ethical abomination that shames our entire Church and means our leaders will probably be dropped through a trap door at the Pearly Gates and never mentioned by Jesus again after he calls after them “I never knew you! I told you to feed the poor and not hoard wealth, you idiots! With the ACTUAL tithing!”
But if Plan B is to get so obscenely rich the entire Church can live off the interest like President Joseph F Smith promised and prophesied in 1907, and we can spend our money on our families and charities where it will be actually used to help people instead of buying even more Mormon Mammon shares in fossil fuels and internet shopping for T shirts and sex toys, I’ll take that.
The dominant narrative of generational legacies in finance and debt has been that the Baby Boomers did very well but my generation and our children are going to have to really suffer to pay back the massive trillion dollars national debts they have foisted on us to pay off with our decreasing incomes. Weirdly, just like our activity rates, our Church’s financial timeline has been the complete reverse of what has gone on in the world around it. Our parents and their parents were robbed of a fortune that was then invested so brilliantly and successfully that their sacrificial legacy to us is that not a single one of us needs to ever give this Church another single penny for anything and it will still be able to afford to pay for everything from those investments, running buildings, welfare, universities, missions, temples, the whole blooming lot, and still have several billion dollars left over at the end of each year to reinvest or do even more good with. Just from that ONE of several investment portfolios.
And that wasn’t even the end of the parade of astonishing revelations.
THE MARX BRETHREN PRESENT: THE THREE RICHEST STOOGES IN THE WORLD
As the public scandal of Ensign Peak reached its peak, it was time for some General Authorities to have a go at gaslighting the people to carry on being a compliant cash cow for them regardless. The Presiding Bishopric gave an interview in February 2020 to the completely tame so-called-journalists of the Church News and Church owned Deseret News trying to justify hoarding in secret more tithing money than the Gross National Product of most of the nation states of the earth in the fragile stock market, and it turned out to be even more toe curling and flabbergasting and hilarious than even I expected.
Let me introduce you to Bishop Gerard Causse, W Christopher Waddell and Dean M Davies.
The Church Newsroom says “Men chosen to be Presiding Bishops have been recognized for their business and management skills as well as their religious commitment.” I’m not so Sure. As we are about to discover, their business management skills are alarmingly incompetent and their religious commitment hasn’t involved understanding the widow’s mite, Josephs 7 Years of storing for 7 years of famine, OR the parable of the talents.
Brace yourself for another entertaining but horrifying car crash in front of the cameras with our elders and betters, the Brethren.
The Presiding Bishopric, overseers of the second largest corporation of the Church and an investment portfolio several times larger than the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation or the investment wealth of the Roman Catholic Church, began by trying to minimise the shock value of the numbers involved.
““It’s no surprise we are talking about billions of dollars,” said Bishop Caussé, speaking of the Church’s holdings and its 16 million members living in 190 countries. “Nobody should be surprised, given the number of members.”
Immediately that’s ridiculous and they are gaslighting already. Everyone knows there are only 3-4 million active Church members and not all of them are paying a full tithe. And bearing in mind the entire investment portfolio of the Catholic Church with 1.2 BILLION members is half that of the Ensign Peak investments. Even if we count all 16 million people on the LDS membership records that’s $6250 invested just in Ensign Peak for each Latter-day Saint on the records compared to $40 invested by the Catholic church for each of is members. That’s a ratio of 156 to 1 !! So yes, it’s a surprise and we should all be surprised Bishop Causse. Just because you say we shouldn’t doesn’t change objective reality. This is why the Wall Street Journal called it “The best kept secret in the Investment World” in their headline.
If we adjust these calculations to just the active members, we are talking around $30,000 invested in the one fund for each active Latter-day Saint, or $180,000 for each active family with 4 children. That’s enough to buy every one of the active families in the Church wherever they live in the world a comfortable house when adjusted for local markets. This is the scale of wealth we are talking about in just one of several investment funds the Church has amassed by hoarding and investing your tithing and offerings donations. And they have not spent a single cent of it on anything or anyone except some dodgy business bailouts that break their tax exemption rules.
The Presiding Bishopric were then unable to stop themselves throwing in for good measure that the desperately poorest starving Mormons should still pay tithing so they can buy more shares with it and carry on growing the giant golden nest egg rather than feed their children if it comes to choosing one or the other, and promising that the Church will feed their children! Which was new for them to say out loud I think, although that’s been the advice in the Handbook for a while. If there was EVER a time to go radio silent about that awful idea that has only been taught in a couple of General Conferences by really junior Seventies it was now, but they are Pharisee LDS senior General Authorities so of COURSE they couldn’t help themselves. They were going to hold the line and pretend that nothing whatsoever was different since the Ensign Peak disclosures even at that ethically flakey end of the spectrum of the status quo:
“He and the other two bishops said they know it can be difficult for the poorest members to pay tithing, but all church leaders teach that all members should do so. They said no church member has to choose between eating and paying tithing. Bishop Waddell said some are making an assumption that the church is bleeding the poor by having them pay tithing so it can amass reserves. “It’s anything but,” he said. “They pay their tithing because it’s a commandment, and they are encouraged to, if they only have enough money to pay tithing or eat, ‘Pay your tithing and we’ll help with food,’ because the blessings that are associated with the payment of tithing will then be theirs, and they won’t go hungry, because we have the ability to assist them now.”
How exciting! The vast investment of billions is going to be used to feed your kids so you can pay tithing! Again the promise and the lie that this specific massive fund they have “NOW” is being used for welfare payments to the hungry when not a penny of it has been spent on welfare assistance for anyone. The reality of course is that the Church will NOT rush to feed their children when they make the faithful choice to put tithing first. Following the instructions in the Handbook their bishop will tell them first to ask their extended family to feed them - in effect to pay their tithing for them, even of their family are not Mormons. But these General Authorities apparently don’t get appointed to high office for being competent or knowing their own Handbook.
And in the developing world the Church has a policy of not giving welfare support as generously as they do in rich countries because they don’t want to create a dependency culture among the desperately poor and have millions of people joining the Church just for welfare support….. but of course they cover their own American congregations’ welfare needs because it’s easier to ignore unnecessary suffering when it is far away, and a dependency culture among First world white people doesn’t really count does it. Or rather, it isn’t a dependency culture. It is feeding and housing the destitute. Just as it would be if they did it for their brothers and sisters in the developing world. That thing Jesus is really really into.
“Church leaders use tithing funds and fast offerings from established areas of the church to help finance less-established areas, the bishops said…..In these emerging countries of the church, there is no way that the tithing, although members are very faithful … their tithing cannot cover all the expenditure, so it’s very important that members here in the United States and many other countries where the church has been established for a long time will contribute to it,” Bishop Caussé said. “There’s a great transfer of funds that happens, and it will be more and more in the future as the church develops in those countries.”
Well, as we are starting to discover there definitely IS a great transfer of funds that happens, but it’s in the opposite direction to the one he is describing. Funds are being transferred from the poor countries and the poorest people to the richest country and the richest people in the Church.
And what he said about the rich needing to subsidise the Church in the poor countries a massive lie as well - every American Mormon could stop paying tithing tomorrow and they would still be making enough interest from the Ensign Peak fund to cover every penny the Church spends on everything and have $2 billion left over to reinvest. How stupid do they think we are?! That’s easy to answer. Very VERY stupid indeed. They think we are VERY very very very stupid. Gullible in the extreme.
The Presiding Bishops teared up as they opined about how every widow’s mite of sacred funds is carefully handled and never wasted as their sacred duty. They said this sitting in front of an antique table with a precious antique vase on it so valuable that it was in a glass case… that in the closeups looked as big as Bishop Causse’s head on the screen. It was like an episode of Antiques Roadshow broadcasting from an aristocratic stately home as Marie Antoinette tells her servants to let the starving peasants eat cake. There was even a French accent! Their PR handlers who thought that would be a good idea are either completely useless and yet another appointment based on nepotism rather than actual ability, or they are having an absolute riot behind their backs at their expense. From what I hear about the fear and loathing that goes on in the Church Office building from insiders, it’s probably the latter.
And they also had the nerve to say to the journalists what they have been saying in secret to the fund managers for years, that the reason the Church is hoarding billions in the stock market, that will of course evaporate in times of real upheaval and be no use to anyone, is to be ready for when it is needed at the Second Coming of Jesus! It seemed at first that Jesus is going to need a hefty cheque book drawing upon imaginary investments that will have already gone up in flames when Wall Street is destroyed along with the sinners without the tithing fire insurance in the Last Days, but they were at pains to explain that the Church just wants to make sure that the programs of the Church like its missionary work can continue unhindered in times of global financial crisis. As we can read in the Deseret News:
““When we talk about preparing for the Second Coming, that doesn’t mean we’re hoarding money so that we have it when the Second Coming takes place,” Bishop Waddell said. “In preparing for the Second Coming, we’re talking about building temples and providing places of worship and temples where people can receive sacred and exalting ordinances so we can gather Israel, we can do the missionary work in preparation for that day. And so, when we talk about preparing for it, that means all the work that’s going on now.” That work could be jeopardized by an economic disaster like the Great Depression, he said. “There will come a time when all of these resources, reserves, will be necessary,” he said. “We don’t know when, we don’t know exactly in what form, but you think of the (Bible story of the) seven fat years and the seven lean years, there’s so many examples in the scriptures that we strive to follow, whether it’s the parable of the talents and not to bury the talent. We saw what the Lord did to that individual. We want to be ready for any contingency.”
Back to my ongoing point about the incompetence of these senior global leaders. The whole entire point of the Great Depression is that people with billions invested in the stock market woke up one morning and it was all worthless. The rows of zeros were no longer worth the share certificate paper they were written on. But a man who doesn’t even understand the Great Depression caused by the Wall street stock market Crash has been put in charge of managing several portfolios of investments many times larger than the Catholic Church or the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation, which they are using to eradicate malaria from the earth and save millions of lives, is ready to repeat that history with 100 billion widows’ mites and says they are holding onto the stocks and shares UNTIL the next great Depression! AND shamelessly lying. Not a penny of it has been spent on any of the many projects like temples and missionary work he mentioned in the interview and said it was being used for now.
And what about that list of biblical instructions about money management they mentioned? They’ve already blown it with the widow’s mite by offering that as a religious ideal, to literally give the Church your last pennies instead of feeding the widow or the children as a religious test of faithfulness, exactly like the actual Pharisees did, when the whole entire point was that that is an abomination and the Jewish scriptures are clear, as Jesus pointed out, that the temple or church treasure trove should be spent and given TO the widows, NEVER taken from them.
The Wall Street Journalists had a riot pointing out with deadpan humour after the Presiding Bishopric said similar guff to THEM, that during the 2008 financial markets crash which impacted the world in a similar way to the Great Depression, not a single penny of the Ensign Peak or other investments were used to keep the missionary program etc of the Church going. Instead, they cut costs and tightened their belts, and closed several Missionary Training Centres around the world and a little earlier they had already fired all the chapel janitors and told the members to clean the chapels themselves in the few minutes they had remaining available in their lives because running around doing your family, your job and your callings just isn’t enough and the Church needed to economise!!
So, no Bishop Waddell, I’m not buying that this money is being hoarded to keep the programs going in the Church fully funded in any contingency because you have already proven that you WON’T spend it when something like that happens, and you’ve literally just done it all again. With costs going up in the Covid Pandemic Crisis which SURELY meets any criteria you could possibly have of end-times equivalent plagues and global financial crisis, and with family budgets around the world strained beyond breaking point, you just decided that every missionary funding their food and accommodation as free labour for the Church from developed world countries pay a massive hike of 25%, raising the fee to serve from $400 to $556 a month. I call it the ‘Covid Quarter’.
Let’s take a deeper dive into how missions are funded. In developing world economies local leaders determine how much each missionary will be asked to contribute based on their family’s circumstances which is a good thing and they are subsidised by central funds. Presumably they and their families are still expected to make a similarly proportional sacrifice of effort and earning before they serve to those from developed economies. Missionaries used to be required to pay however much or little these costs were in the country they served in, which could vary wildly, so since 1991, missionaries serving from North America, Europe, Australia and Japan have had a flat rate fee to serve calculated from rental, utility, transport and food costs and the consumer price index of the USA, where most of the missionaries come from according to the Church-owned Deseret News. After paying into the system they will receive what thy actually need for those costs in their mission. The Church’s central funds from donations pays for the organisational infrastructure of travel and supplies and administrative costs but the bulk of the rent and living expenses are covered by the missionaries, the great majority of whom are from the developed economies in this scheme.
There are about 67,000 full time Missionaries so based on the fee the total living expenses amount to about $450 million a year mostly taken from the missionaries, their families and their ward in addition to the money they pay in tithing of 10% of their income and a generous fast offering, and everything else. A lot of missionaries who are already giving the Church two years of their young lives also spend an additional year or two working to raise that money to pay for their mission with money that will NOT be spent on their higher education, or starting a family when they get home. A lot of parents go through significant financial hardship to fund their children’s missions, specially if they have several children who serve, and ironically in a Church with a long history of demonising working mothers, a lot of mothers take on additional paying jobs to help. And as we’ve already heard from Elder Valeri, a lot of the missionaries have been putting a percentage of their money into their mission fund since they were young children. It has all become part of the traditions and expectations surrounding a Mormon mission.
But do the maths. The total expenditure of the Church annually is about $5 billion. They receive $7 billion in annual direct donations from the members. The one Ensign Peak investment portfolio, of several, earns $7 billion annually in interest. But that $7 billion of interest and the surplus $2 billion from tithes and offerings that year are piled back into the money mountain to buy more stocks and shares for Ensign Peak.
How about a different Covid quarter? How about we take just a quarter of the surplus $2 billion, that’s 2000 million dollars, donated each year as tithing and use that to ENTIRELY cover the costs of all our missionaries, including the retired couples spending their savings and selling their homes so they can serve?
They and their families and their wards already paid four times more tithing SURPLUS than is needed to cover that, which is not being spent on anything else except stocks and shares.
All our scriptures make very clear that tithing is for supporting the poor and for building the kingdom. I used to buy the idea we were taught that additional fast offerings are needed to support the poor and tithing is only for Church-building, but that’s not what the scriptures actually say is it. Either way, missionary work is definitely in the building the kingdom category - literally. Why do we treat it as something separate to tithing that needs the tithe-payers to make additional contributions to as well as the 10%? Specially when the tithing is already in surplus and not being used for its stated purpose?
Imagine what a difference that would make. You would give back to these young people their totally unnecessary years of effort just working to raise these funds. Give them back a year of their youth for education or getting on with their adult lives, or working to save for their own home. Take that burden off the back of their parents that requires yet another hefty additional financial sacrifice because they did as they were told to by the prophets and had LOTS of children as an act of faith and service to the Church. How about the Church helping to make that financially realistic for them? They were promised miracles from God to fund their generous childbearing – I think $100 billion of liquid assets is pretty bloody miraculous, don’t you?!
FULL STEAM BACK TO THE FUTURE WITH DALLIN
I still remember the clear commandments from the prophets and apostles during my childhood that couples should never use contraception and that they should have as many children as God decided to bless them with till Mum became infertile or died of exhaustion… or in childbirth. Mercifully they dropped that at some point in the 1980’s, and everyone agreed to leave decisions about how many children to have entirely with the parents and not push expectations about that on them any more from the General Authorities.
But the General Authorities are frantic now and panicking that so few of our members marry before age 30 and have so few children now. You can see this in the films of their briefings and discussions about this that were leaked to ‘MormonLeaks’ . And female fertility drops off fast after age 30 even if you want to have more children. So as part of his ‘Back to the Future with the Pharisees’ vision for the Church Dallin Oaks has gone and said it in General Conference – choosing to limit your children if you are fertile and alive and could make Mormon babies is Satan’s idea. He slipped this into one of his big manifesto talks with the word ‘plan’ in the title called ‘Truth and the Plan’ in October 2018 General Conference.
I’m going to play about 4 minutes of that talk to give the statement I am referring to it full context, but also because it revisits several of the key themes in Dallin Oaks and Russell Nelson’s very ‘old school’ Pharisee Mormon religion and its priorities. Before I play it I’m going to say quite a few other things as well that are involved in that context. As he does a lot of people, Dallin Oaks triggers me big time. One of the biggest reasons my Mormonism flipped from focusing on apologetics and defending the faith into activism to REALLY defend the faith against the people in power in our Church who are killing it, and have killed the faith in Mormonism of too many of my relatives and friends is this man. Standing on the shoulders of the racist and homophobic and anti-intellectual authoritarian bigots George Q Cannon and Mark E Peterson and Joseph Fielding Smith and Ezra Taft Benson and Bruce R McConkie and Boyd K Packer, Dallin Oaks has carried on their legacy with glee as he holds the line against reason and against science, and against compassion, and against wisdom, and against experience and is still spouting his backward looking balderdash and ignoring or refusing to accept any responsibility for the carnage it has all caused, and how it has derailed the Church and left it spinning its wheels in the air while the world that needs Christian Mormonism moves on and leaves us behind to shrink and die.
Some people lap it up. President Oaks is their hero. They can’t stand the social changes that have occurred to make it OK to be gay. They can’t stand people telling them there is much more to the whitewashed and rose-tinted and fundamentally inaccurate story of Joseph Smith and Mormonism they were taught as children in Primary that plays over and over as a feedback loop whenever they think about their beliefs or bear their testimony. They are still steeped in the racism of their ancestors that sees Black lives crying out for justice as a violent communist threat. They don’t want change. They love those simple and appealing but actually deceptive and infantilising certainties of their formative years that they find so soothing. But Christianity and definitely Christian Mormonism was NEVER meant to be anything close to repetitive and soothing and unchanging. It’s all about ongoing revolution, progress, improvement, reaching for more, learning more, BEING more.
Some of my family and friends tell me I’m unbalanced, obsessed with him, and that while they recognise he is not very nice and usually makes them feel sad and uncomfortable when he speaks, I should have some perspective like they do and just ignore him and concentrate on what the kinder Apostles say. And maybe we need some tough cookies like Him. God must see a purpose for what he says and does or God would not have given him that position of influence, they say. There are entire communities of distressed and agonising Latter-day Saints whose prime strategy for remaining active in the Church and protecting what is left of their testimony is to simply never listen to another word Dallin Oaks says. To skip or turn off the telly during his talks in General Conference. They don’t want their children hearing it and they are just waiting for his jarring voice and messages that scrape fingernails down the chalkboard of their souls to go away as the Church, they hope, moves forward to a more reasonable and kind place. It is simply too painful to bear it so they choose to hear the speakers and messages that give them hope and feed their soul instead.
But my opinion is that, while absolutely necessary and I hope that works because most of us will outlive him and be able to breathe a sigh of relief not to have to again experience the dread that he is coming up in a bit in this General Conference session and wondering who he will hurt with his words next, we cannot ignore him. We need to focus with laser precision on everything he says and exactly why he is saying it because THIS is the man who already runs our Church.
President Nelson rearranges the deck chairs of meeting schedules and logos but Dallin Oaks is the real power behind the throne. Dallin is the guy who writes the script, the handbooks, the proclamations. The author of the ideology. When President Nelson was running his mouth off in his inaugural press conference and saying crazy Christian stuff while he riffed unscripted and about to declare that everyone is welcome in Christ’s Church and should come back, it was Dallin who quickly leaned in to correct the new President and start talking over him to emphasise that of course he didn’t actually mean THAT because what is REALLY important is that people have to change their ways and conform to God’s standards before rushing in or rushing back to Church and expecting a welcome. Russell Nelson has never made that Christian mistake again since that reckless initial wobble from the Pharisee script. We all saw right there from the beginning who is really in charge in this First Presidency, specially after they booted out the nice Christian one and Dieter Uchtdorf was literally relegated to the benches…
------Audio of the press conference ----
Dallin Oaks will most likely be the 18th President Prophet of the Church. If he makes it to the Velvet Throne every time a Latter-day Saint bears their testimony of our religion they are going to invoke HIS name alongside the name of Christ… or far too often forget to also mention Jesus entirely of course. “I testify that Dallin H Oaks is the Prophet of God on the earth today!” So what is Dallin’s mission that all faithful LDS Mormons are going to be testifying of and working hard to bring about in the world and glorify as the Mind and Will of God spoken through his Mouthpiece On Earth? Well, he’s already told us. A LOT. Dallin has planned his work and he’s working the plan he wrote for the Brethren immediately after he was brought into the apostleship in, coincidentally,1984.
The reason for his ordination as an LDS Apostle and the Prime Directive they gave him for his ministry as a senior constitutional lawyer with a long track record of vicious surveillance and persecution of the LGBTQ students while he was President of BYU Provo was to organise and lead the Church’s endless war against the gays. You can read the strategy document he almost immediately formulated and has been implementing ever since if you Google “Principles To Govern Possible Statement On Legislation Affecting Rights of Homosexuals by Dallin Oaks 7 August 1984.” It’s all there. Where to make a stand and what arguments to use. Where to give way so the Church doesn’t seem too unreasonable in things like LGBTQ housing and employment rights as they recently did in Utah, as long as they aren’t allowed near children or the media where they can influence young minds with their dangerous agenda. That bit was a little overambitious and not really in their control. But they have gone for it with the rest of Dallin’s plan, and segwaying the language used from ‘opposing gay marriage’ to ‘fighting for religious freedom’… to be homophobic is all part of it. They’ve even made a helpful movie to train Latter-day Saints so defend themselves against their work colleagues’ discomfort or opposition to their religion’s homophobia and fight back. It’s called ‘Respecting our differences while defending religious freedom’ and you can find it on the Church website or Youtube. In Dallin Oaks’ glorious vision for the future of Mormonism, our primary experience and role is going to be to stand as a witness to the world for discriminating against gay and transgender people and defending ourselves at work for being the last people left in our society still doing that. I guess it will make a refreshing change from endlessly repeating the polygamy conversation with the ordinary humans and the Muggles and being notorious for something else.
When Dallin Oaks gets up and speaks he didn’t get woken in the night to write a fresh brainwave on his yellow pad earlier in the week like Russell. He’s been on this one homophobic and transphobic trajectory for 36 years since I was finding my feet at Secondary School, and you can only imagine what it’s done to his resolve and persistence with it to end up as the heir apparent and highly likely to ascend to the Velvet Throne as the Prophet President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Or rather, you don’t have to imagine it. He’s telling us all about it all the time as he declares that this struggle against the LGBTQ agenda is the defining spiritual conflict of our age and the mission of the whole Church. He’s fizzing with excitement, but also worry to be so tantalisingly close yet still the other apostles have not backed him to canonise the Family Proclamation and the tide is turning against his worldview rapidly, even among the other apostles. So he’s already mapping out the manifestos for his homophobic Presidency in no uncertain terms in General Conferences instead of secret briefing documents so that they will linger longer after he is dead if he doesn’t quite make it and Wendy manages to keep the skiing heart surgeon alive long enough.
It’s always been his destiny. It’s what his whole life has been FOR, and now he has realised that the allies of the gays tend to be also really woke about feminism and racism, so now he’s doubling down on God being a racist and our past racism never being a human error, and women concentrating on making babies in temple marriages because he knows that the second enough Church members realise the past prophets’ racist doctrines and segregation, and defining women’s worth as entirely defined by their fertility and homemaking skills were an epic glitch of human error, it will be very much easier to think the same of their homophobia and deconstruct it. These progressive causes are all intertwined as Boyd K Packer realised when he declared the most dangerous threats to his Pharisee Mormonism to be the feminist, the intellectuals and the gays. So when Dallin speaks about any of these themes, there is decades of backstory and context in play, and he knows it.
In this talk “Truth and the Plan”, President Oaks is very clear that the Church’s ONLY purpose and priority is to facilitate the married heterosexuals with children in getting to the upper echelons of the celestial kingdom. Anyone unable or unwilling to fit into that specific what he calls ‘traditional’ paradigm or way of being a family is irrelevant and expendable. Is not really welcome. We have no obligations towards meeting their needs. They don’t fit his plan and if they refuse to change themselves and their families in order to fit, he has nothing at all to offer them. He’s washed our hands of them.
This all begs the question, how is it despite all the examples of Jesus reaching out and including and prioritising in His ministry the outcasts, the misfits, the lepers, the Zealots, the prostitutes, the Samaritans and the destitute that Dallin Oaks and his co-religionists can be so confident that he and his kind are the people heading to heaven, but the homosexuals and the feminists and the transgenders and the educated intellectuals and the social justice warriors and the Black Lives Matter protestors and whoever else he’s feeling threatened by this week and their kind are not?
Well, we must never allow ourselves to forget this absolutely essential data point that really does explain a lot in our Church, but again hardly any members have even heard of because it has been very carefully and intentionally hidden from in their lower levels of the Pharisee Feudal System.
The Brethren are not just living in a completely different and more privileged world to us financially as we pay and they get paid. ALL of these General Authorities – the Apostles and Seventies and some of the stake Presidents it seems - have been inducted into the exclusive Diamond Premier Plus Excelsior level of Temple ordinances. They have each received their Second Endowment or Second Annointing and been told not to talk about it even to their own children, although some didn’t get quite the same messaging about secrecy and have told their kids. You know those places where our Sapphire Level Slightly Sub Par Epsilon Minus Washings and Annointings and Endowment and Sealing in the temple tell us that we are not yet being blessed or ordained to actually BE Gods and Goddesses and Kings and Queens but quote “Only that we may become such” if we are very very good and pay our tithing and endure to the end, and then MAYBE Jesus will let us in to the Celestial Kingdom? These guys and their gals have already GOT there! They’ve been washed and anointed and proclaimed to be the full package! The Second Comforter came and comforted them Secondly! They are already crowned with glory! Their calling and election really HAS been made sure! They are in the God club! So no wonder some of them ponce about like arrogant royalty refusing to set foot in a room until everyone is on their feet in grateful awe and wonder even to be in their presence even.
An apostle ritually washed their feet and blessed them and proclaimed that their ‘calling and election’ to exaltation, to heaven, to becoming Gods, is now made sure. They will, for certain, as long as they don’t commit the unpardonable sin of blaspheming against the Hoy Ghost, be the man and his wife or in the case of Presidents Oaks and Nelson, his wives, walking past the sentinals to take their thrones on high. So they KNOW. They really actually DO know that it is literally people exactly like Church broke heteronormative white Utahns and Idahoans and a few of their slightly less white and delightsome and slightly less than American friends from their very specific cultural and social niche who ARE the kinds of people who make it to the Celestial Kingdom! They have an actual list somewhere of the Second Annointed! Just like the Jehovah’s Witness list of the 144,000 that’s already filled up so they had to change their entire religion to pretend living on a paradise earth instead of in actual Heaven with those lucky special ones is still lovely so you should still become one of them and look forward to the second division afterlife. ….Who knew we had so much in common with Jehovah’s Witnesses who we usually roll our eyes and laugh at for exactly this sort of thing?!
So that’s why it’s so easy for Dallin Oaks and his Second Annointed chums to be so absolutely certain about exactly what kinds of people and families and numbers of pairs of earrings are the precise covenant path way to live to have a hope of being there. And who can just literally go to hell NOW because that’s where they are going eventually anyway, so why waste the Church’s time and resources on them? And maybe why they have for my whole life constantly turned up in our missions to train the missionaries not to waste a minute longer on any investigators who are being difficult and not just saying Yes to everything immediately and not going to be ready to hop in a baptismal font in 3 weeks time. They already know that it’s unquestioning compliant followers exactly like themselves who actually make it to heaven so it’s pointless faffing about with anyone who isn’t like that really. My Mum’s Mormon flat mate had to keep dragging the missionaries back to keep engaging with her many thoughtful and reasonable questions for 6 months before she got baptised and went on to serve as a ward and stake Relief Society President repeatedly and regional public affairs spokeswoman and train priesthood leaders in the counselling skills they desperately needed. But when her sons served missions the message was still the same – real golden converts just say yes to everything without hesitation. Don’t waste your time on the rest. They aren’t the elect.
Go to hell Peter?! That’s a bit harsh. Are you exaggerating again? He didn’t really mean THAT surely?! He said “there are other kingdoms prepared for them.” That’s not necessarily hell is it.
In the Mormon theology of the afterlife we spin our doctrine of different degrees of glory as being degrees of heaven and claim to be nice because only a tiny handful the really stubbornly resistant to Christ’s atonement commit the unforgivable sin and blaspheme against the Holy Ghost by resisting Christ’s atonement that could save them when they know it’s real and end up in the proper hell of outer darkness with Lucifer and his angels – the 1/3 of the God’s spirit children who fell for his lies at the first hurdle… which isn’t really that few at all is it! In Mormon theology more than 1/3 of our spirit siblings end up in the very very worst of hells, so maybe we should be less smug about that. But if you dig a bit deeper anything but making it to the Celestial kingdom is a living hell where you are imprisoned and unable to progress or be a family… or even have resurrected genitals according to a significant school of Mormon thought and some of our prophets because if you aren’t in the top tier of 3 WITHIN the Celestial Kingdom you can’t be eternally married and make more babies anyway, so there’s no need for your naughty bits in the Terrestrial or Telestial kingdoms and we’ll all be sexless Barbie and Ken dolls with what one of the greatest gems of our cheeky Mormon lexicon of informal jargon calls ‘The TK Smoothie’ where Percy Penis and Valerie Vagina used to live. That sounds pretty hellish to me.
So just bear THAT in mind when you hear President Oaks tell us all that God is absolutely fine with the people who have decided not to go to heaven because they are kidding themselves that they are gay or transgender or, heaven forfend, choosing to be SINGLE not having a place in his Pharisee Mormon church, because otherwise why would God have MADE those rather useful hells for them to rack off to with their Liberal ways and gender confusion and singleness? It’s all in the plan, see? Makes total sense. There is no place in his religion for Jesus’ CRAAAAZY idea that those are exactly the kinds of people we prove our true Christianity by welcoming and putting at the centre of our ministry.
He is a yet another grumpy old man scared by the present and the future insisting that actual God shares exactly his cliché old white protestant middle class American conservative political and social views about everything. He is in complete denial that millions of babies are born every year literally physically and genetically transgender or homosexual and bisexual. All that nonsense is just ‘confusion’ and everyone should cisgenderly Man and Woman up! Or go to hell. There’s lots of those to choose from actually - isn’t God thoughtful? It’s kingdoms plural! Like choosing which bit of Disneyland to holiday in… off you go and let us robust heteronormative breeders get on with our celestial stuff and proving our perfection. And since the only drivers of growth in our Church are missionary work, which has spent the last 10 years steadily baptising fewer converts per very expensive full time missionary year on year, reactivation which is rare as hen’s teeth in reality despite all the futile man hours we waste on it, and childbirth, let’s all knuckle down and baby boom our way out of oblivion! The armistice that the General Authorities signed with the members leave our childbearing decision making to us has been broken in this small and tentative but significant step, and it is already just another footstep in their march towards a steadily increasing focus on the women getting back into the bedroom and the kitchen.
Ever since Presidents Nelson and Oaks’ car crash inaugural press conference speaking of and demonstrating in every way possible the return of robust old school Patriarchy in the seat of power in our clergy and rhetoric, the stories about single mothers triumphing against the odds and women doing great things outside the home in their communities that had started to lift their little gospel flowery heads above the trenches they had been cowering in have all but disappeared again and once again it’s McConkie and Packer Mormonism all the way. You only speak in public about the one covenant path of heterosexual cisgendered breeders as approved by God and everyone else is a ’confused’ or rare exception to that rule to be dealt with in private or totally ignored or just shunned, exactly as they did with the November 2015 Exclusion Policy.
So listen up you Latter-day Saints STILL squirming and umming and ahing and insisting that Peter Bleakley and all the other thousands like him are grossly misrepresenting these Apostles with our criticisms, and that our Church doesn’t REALLY believe or teach such intolerant and unwelcoming and harsh things…. You say this because you are mostly nice Christian Mormons on the whole so YOU have a totally DIFFERENT religion to these leaders, but you are still too scared or bamboozled or intellectually lazy to notice or admit that projecting your nice religion onto what these men are ACTUALLY teaching all the time, nearly every time, just isn’t enough to disguise the reality. The truth. These people who you have convinced yourselves are like well meaning, occasionally a bit old fashioned but basically decent Grandads whose pictures you love to have on your walls like benevolent family members do not believe or even teach YOUR religion – the truths and values you hold most dear.
They have nothing whatsoever of your compassion and nuance and wisdom that the Gospel must be able to reach everyone and that our Church should be a safe and welcoming place for ALL of God’s children. Your open hearted welcoming Mormonism is not their boundary policing totalitarian, judgemental and intolerant and highly elitist Pharisee Mormon belief and cultural system. And if I sometimes come across to you as a bit tetchy and impatient and judgmental of you, it’s because you are grown ass adults and it’s not like these men are making any attempt whatsoever to HIDE their true nature and their true religion from you! They say it all in public, and they’ve been saying it for years, and they tell you to study what they say closely as if it was scripture! They even post you handy booklets and lesson plans for making notes while they speak and teaching it all to your children. So for once, actually DO that! And when you do, if you find you keep having to begin every thought or sentence responding to what they actually say with “He doesn’t really mean that” or “That can’t be what he’s really trying to say” or “But you KNOW Peter that the Church doesn’t really teach that!” and then start on the next pummel horse and trampoline routine of your Mormon Mental Gymnastics, when are you going to just stop and take these people at their oft repeated word?
When you really pay attention you discover that rather too much of the time their words are nothing to do with YOUR Christian Mormon beliefs and values. In fact it is often the literal opposite. Lucifer’s gospel and plan and values and culture of turning potential gods into unthinking and unquestioning and unprogressing robots who believe exaltation is gained by marrying in the right place at the right time to the right fertile person and going through all the right motions of thought and speech and behaviour as we march in lockstep along the covenant path. And the messiness of real life and the thousand ways that can be derailed by the body or family or country or social context you or your significant others are born into are no concern of their religion or their Church. Their God has already prepared other lesser places for you to be. So why prolong the agony? Why wait till after judgment day and letting God decide where that should be? These General Authorities think they already know enough to tell you who is or who is not going to be acceptable to God, so they can tell to go there now. Go away. Got to hell. If you won’t play by their rules, just go. It’s only prolonging the agony and delaying the inevitable if you keep turning up at Church with your confused and disordered sexuality and gender identity and your contaminated children.
Oh, yes. Children. You are going to hear in a minute about children from the man who in 2015 signed off on, defended and probably WROTE the November Policy of Exclusion barring babies, children and teenagers from any of our saving ordinances and our temples with their family focused essential sealings if they happened to have a parent who had EVER at any time in their lives cohabited in a same sex relationship until they became adults, shunned their gay parent by moving out of the home they live in as an adult, declared to a priesthood leader that they disavowed their parent’s relationship and THEN wrote Dallin and Rusty a letter PLEADING with them to let them be baptised at last and wash their souls clean of that rainbow coloured contamination that might have rubbed off on them. The man who deep down in his soul believes THAT is how actual God thinks so he turned it into a revelation, a commandment, for our whole Church is going to pretend that he really cares above all else about CHILDREN!! It makes me feel sick. It’s like listening to the Child Snatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang doing an advert for Childline. I don’t buy it. He has already shown us that he will sacrifice anyone’s children for his spiritually dead and dessicated shell of a religion imitating life, his zombie vampire Pharisee Mormonism saying the words of compassion but neither understanding or meaning any of them. Everything is so simple in his fantasy world. All people have to do is do as he and President Nelson tells them. That’s it.
They SAY they are teaching simple, plain and precious unchanging eternal truths. Truths like traditional monogamous heterosexual marriage is an eternal truth even though the ONE thing everyone knows about Mormons, if they know anything, is NOT that we are traditional family-focused as he will claim, but that our prophets spent decades preaching from exactly the same institutional pulpit as Dallin Oaks is that the essential and only way to attain the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom was highly and radically Untraditional Polygamy! Brigham Young would have his guts for garters telling us it was always about one man marrying one lady virgin to make babies! And where do you even begin with Joseph Smith marrying the actual wives of several of his own missionaries while they were away spreading the word or the both of them marrying lots of old ladies well beyond childbearing age? Another rabbit hole to spiral into.
But in a very important way in these General Conference and Devotional and Face to Face talks the Apostles and Prophets of Pharisee Mormonism who have infiltrated and are now ruling our Church with their gnarly iron fists speak very plain and precious truths. They speak the plain and precious truth about their religion. What I invite you to do is listen to them. Attentively. BELIEVE that they mean what they say. I you really think these particular guys are the MOST equipped and spiritually gifted by God to speak the truth with power and clarity in a confusing world, then stop confusing what they are saying. Stop being their spin doctors. This guy’s a LAWYER! He knows the meaning of words and he has chosen them VERY carefully. There’s no misinterpretation you need to intervene and steady his ark to correct. He really does mean what he says. Stop reframing and caveating and making excuses for what they actually say. Just stop. And listen. And while you listen, TRULY listen, ask yourself this one simple question: Is what this man is saying MY religion? Is he saying what I believe? What I know the true heart of Christ and His gospel to be? The answer might be ‘YES!’ and I wish you luck because you’re going to need a lot of it. But if the answer is ‘Actually, no it’s not. This is not my heart. This is not my Jesus. This is not OUR Jesus…. then be brave. Be honest with yourself, which can take courage. Consider just for a little while if you will, that maybe mouthy Peter the unsettling disruptor of the peace with his intemperate language and the Messiah Complex his religion taught him to have driving him to keep trying to save everyone, and the many thousands like him, might have a point…and that we all have a BIG problem on our hands in our Church that can’t be ignored any longer. And please don’t excommunicate me! Just sayin’……
“….The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is properly known as a family-centered Church. But what is not well understood is that our family-centeredness is focused on more than mortal relationships. Eternal relationships are also fundamental to our theology. “The family is ordained of God.” Under the great plan of our loving Creator, the mission of His restored Church is to help the children of God achieve the supernal blessing of exaltation in the celestial kingdom, which can be attained only through an eternal marriage between a man and a woman (see Doctrine and Covenants 131:1–3). We affirm the Lord’s teachings that “gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose” and that “marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan.”
Finally, God’s love is so great that, except for the few who deliberately become sons of perdition, He has provided a destiny of glory for all of His children. “All of His children” includes all who are dead. We perform ordinances for them by proxy in our temples. The purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ is to qualify His children for the highest degree of glory, which is exaltation or eternal life. For those who do not desire or qualify for that, God has provided other, though lesser, kingdoms of glory.
Anyone who understands these eternal truths can understand why we members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints think as we do and do as we do.
I will now mention some applications of these eternal truths, which can be understood only in light of God’s plan.
First, we honor individual agency. Most are aware of the restored Church’s great efforts to promote religious freedom in the United States and across the world. These efforts do not promote just our own interests but, according to His plan, seek to help all of God’s children enjoy freedom to choose.
Second, we are a missionary people. We are sometimes asked why we send missionaries to so many nations, even among Christian populations. We receive the same question about why we give many millions of dollars of humanitarian aid to persons who are not members of our Church and why we do not link this aid to our missionary efforts. We do this because we esteem all mortals as children of God—our brothers and sisters—and we want to share our spiritual and temporal abundance with everyone.
Third, mortal life is sacred to us. Our commitment to God’s plan requires us to oppose abortion and euthanasia.
Fourth, some are troubled by some of our Church’s positions on marriage and children. Our knowledge of God’s revealed plan of salvation requires us to oppose current social and legal pressures to retreat from traditional marriage and to make changes that confuse or alter gender or homogenize the differences between men and women. We know that the relationships, identities, and functions of men and women are essential to accomplish God’s great plan.
Fifth, we also have a distinctive perspective on children. We look on the bearing and nurturing of children as part of God’s plan and a joyful and sacred duty of those given the power to participate in it. In our view, the ultimate treasures on earth and in heaven are our children and our posterity. Therefore, we must teach and contend for principles and practices that provide the best conditions for the development and happiness of children—all children.
Finally, we are beloved children of a Heavenly Father, who has taught us that maleness and femaleness, marriage between a man and a woman, and the bearing and nurturing of children are all essential to His great plan of happiness. Our positions on these fundamentals frequently provoke opposition to the Church. We consider that inevitable. Opposition is part of the plan, and Satan’s most strenuous opposition is directed at whatever is most important to God’s plan. He seeks to destroy God’s work. His prime methods are to discredit the Savior and His divine authority, to erase the effects of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to discourage repentance, to counterfeit revelation, and to contradict individual accountability. He also seeks to confuse gender, to distort marriage, and to discourage childbearing—especially by parents who will raise children in truth.
The work of the Lord is going forward despite the organized and constant opposition that confronts us as we strive to practice the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For those who falter under that opposition, I offer these suggestions.
Remember the principle of repentance made possible by the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. As Elder Neal A. Maxwell urged, don’t be among those “who would rather try to change the Church than to change themselves.
As Elder Jeffrey R. Holland urged:
“Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes. …
“… In this Church, what we know will always trump what we do not know.” “
You may have noticed in there a few other significant moments. It’s always a layer cake and it takes ages to dissect and inspect. He said that our religion obliges us to oppose abortion, but the Handbook that he co-authored describes several situations where the Church does NOT officially oppose abortion. Another case of teaching one oversimplified thing in public while privately permitting the opposite. But where is the basic human decency and pastoral care for the millions of people in his audience? The women who agonised and received confirmation from God in prayer, following his OWN guidelines, that in their case an abortion was necessary and the right thing to happen. They are all listening to this talk and now thrown back into guilt and regret and trauma about one of the most difficult experiences and choices of their life simple because Dallin Oaks likes to tidy everything up in his public preaching and erase the complications of real compassionate Christian life. And what is he doing to the thousands of priesthood leaders who followed the guidelines? He is now telling them in General Conference that thy were sinful and compromising fundamental principles required for exaltation when they supported those women and their partners to terminate a pregnancy, all because once again the senior apostle is choosing to reach for easy lies instead of the more difficult truth and pander to his allies in the rabid Pro Life mobs of fundamentalist American Catholics and Evangelicals picketing medical clinics.
And he spoke about ‘understanding these doctrines.’ Well, MY understanding of the doctrines that I was taught in Seminary and Institute and in Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith is that righteous single people will of course be in the Celestial kingdom in glory - it’s the main reason WHY Mormonism has a Celestial kingdom with another 3 levels within it. The married breeders are at the top, the righteous single glorified holy beings who do the babysitting are in the third level down. Noone ever said what the middle level was for. Well, the Bloggernacle has spoken: Most of the votes there go to giving it to the married gay people if we are really going to hold the line on them not making spirit children. Gay couples are world famous for moving into empty abandoned mansions and making them look FABULOUS. It’s a start….
But no, Dallin Oaks has just unilaterally made a radical change to the doctrine the Church taught us all our lives all by himself …AGAIN. It’s not just the stubbornly confused and unwilling to change LGBTQ people consigned to the lower kingdoms of hell, it’s ALL the single people too. They no longer have a hope of the Celestial kingdom. If you’re not married, you’re out. The more than 50% of LDS women for whom there simply isn’t a man who can take them to the temple have been booted out of heaven. Or maybe they can take up the offer to be a polygamous wife to get in. The more than 50% of the rest of the LDS women who DO marry in the temple but then get divorced are now booted out of heaven to. And apparently those of you married to a nonmember never had a chance in the first place unless you divorce them and compete for one of the endangered Mormon men.
When Dallin decides to take his over-simplifying hegdeclippers of Pharisee Mormon certainty to enact the topiary of the T Kingdoms on the Celestial one, there really aren’t many people left who make it to the pointy bit at the top of his Pharisee feudal system.
I already discussed in Episode 3 how Apostle and Sister Rasband in their recent Face to Face with young adults taught them all to follow their example when they were newly married young students and he was already working two jobs as well as studying to support them and the prophet at the time challenged everyone in the Church like them to start having babies immediately and not worry about the costs or how practical it was because God would make sure everything turned out fine. So throwing away the contraception and just dealing with all the babies God sends is definitely now back front and centre in their commandments to the young Latter-day Saints of the 21st Century. That didn’t go so well for rather a lot of extremely stressed out men and particularly women the last time this was their advice and commandment. The majority of them ended up divorced, as is normal for couples that marry and start having children too young.
LIBERATE THE CAPTIVE MISSIONARIES
So instead of going back down THAT rabbit hole as a people, let’s pay for their missions and give them back a year to get on with adult life and marrying and raising a family when it is their own choice to do so, and give them a much better shot at being able to afford it. Financial problems are the number one trigger for divorce. Missions can be great preparation for the patience and close-quarter living required in a marriage, but when one looks objectively at the whole package there are a lot of things we burden onto our young people that contribute to sabotaging successful and happy marriages that could be lifted if we just used the money they and their families already paid to cover their mission costs.
Imagine in a world with missionary numbers falling relentlessly again and wards like mine going without them, and missions like the one I served in and the one I live in, which have both been closed because of falling missionary numbers, how many more would to be able to serve if it didn’t mean three or four years of their life as a commitment at a crucial life-stage?
Imagine how many more could serve simply because they and their families were not deterred by the exorbitant costs?
Equalising the contributions for missions regardless of family income within the developed world was a decision to oppressed the poor in those countries, and to increase the burdens on their friends and congregations to sacrifice more to support them and just make it harder for them to serve, rather than adjusting to each family’s ability to pay as they do in the developing world. Just paying for everyone with the money they have already given, whether new donations or from the $7 billion in profits their previous donations are earning each year in the stock market, would genuinely equalise the opportunities for all our young people to serve regardless of their poverty.
In the interviews and statements Presiding Bishop Causse has given trying to do damage control and convince members everything is completely normal regarding the $100 billion that was taken from them and hoarded in secret and not used for anything at all except alleged illegal bailouts of commercial investments, he has repeatedly opined about how the developing world Mormons are needy users requiring subsidies from the rich American Mormons, just like they spent the 20th century shaming us British Mormons who saved the American Church in the 1800s with our talents and our people and our financial resources long before they ever arrived in Utah, and sent them all our members that could travel, for needing a chapel for our congregations or requiring some investments to rebuild the infrastructure of our Church they had basically dismantled and taken home with them.
But the reality is we already paid. Our ancestors and predecessor Mormons paid. They paid a fortune in inflated tithes that were not necessary after the Church was out of debt and it was invested brilliantly in secret and they turned it into a vast fortune. BUT even while doing damage control for that he carried on the same narrative as if none of that was real or meant anything or changed anything. Apparently the church still doesn’t have enough money so he is desperate to keep the American tithe payers coughing up and told them this is essential or the international Church will not be able to survive or grow when, as previously quoted, he said “Church leaders use tithing funds and fast offerings from established areas of the church to help finance less-established areas, the bishops said…..In these emerging countries of the church, there is no way that the tithing, although members are very faithful … their tithing cannot cover all the expenditure, so it’s very important that members here in the United States and many other countries where the church has been established for a long time will contribute to it.”
This is a big, fat, $100 billion – sized lie. He was sitting in front of an antique vase that might as well have been filled and overflowing with $100 billion worth of big egg-sized diamonds and he was saying to the American and British Church members they need to pay lots of tithing for the global poor members’ diamonds when the diamonds the poor people already paid for themselves were sitting right next to him. Ballsy, I’ll give him that. He’s no Cheese-eating Surrender Monkey when it comes to passionately lying to people’s faces to take their money in the name of God! But VERY high risk, don’t you think? Who would be dumb enough to fall for THAT?! Seriously….. Oh, and have I mentioned enough times yet? The British Saints DID donate to those funds that he is saying are so essential to aid the Mormons in the poor countries – the International Humanitarian Aid fund and the Perpetual Education Fund. And for 5 years it’s just been piling up in a bank earning interest. Apparently they don’t actually need it after all. Could we maybe have it back please? The winters are cold and very damp here and the widows who gave their mites could do with turning their heating up.
The interviews written up by the Church News and Deseret News seem to have been filmed if I remember correctly as I’m sure I watched as well as reading them at the time, but then they started disappearing as the more dreadful things the Presiding Bishopric said that I have quoted have been carefully removed from the Church’s websites. That may be a false memory, but either way some edited video highlights of their more generic statements at the time sitting in the vase room are on the Church website to make everyone feel better and stop thinking about “….like, you know, they shouldn’t make a contribution.” as Roger Clarke put it:
---Audio of all three Presiding Bishops saying bits of the interview in a film the Church put online called – ‘Why does the Church of Jesus Christ manage its finances to carefully?’ including from Bishop Causse “Investment is not burying the money in the ground like in the Parable of the Talents, but making sure that it’s not idle; that the Church will enjoy an increased value of these reserves so they can be used for the sake of, for the purpose of the Church.” ---
The foundational concept underpinning so much of what they said and what we are all taught about tithing is that the actual use of the money is irrelevant – the important thing is that it is a test of our obedience to the Prophet and the Church asking for it and its real value is not in what the money can do but in learning to be selfless and make difficult sacrifices to put God and His Church first in our lives, especially first before our own hungry children, it’s that important, essential even. As Bishop W. Christoher Waddell put it “They pay it because they are commanded to....” And this has been the default go to response of most of the Church members I have discussed this with, even those really disturbed by the scale of this money. They have deeply bought into the idea that has been completely normalised for us all in the Church that accountability of the leaders is to God, not us. So if they did something wrong there, God will punish them in the next life for it. Ours is just to obey and pay otherwise WE are in deep trouble with an angry God and OUR salvation is in jeopardy. WE can ONLY get a set of essential blessings if we pay tithing, the assumption being that the blessing is to generally survive financially in our life and anything that helps with that is interpreted as a reward for paying tithing. They are actually TERRIFIED as I used to be of not paying it. It’s always in the shorthand lists we all use in the Church for righteousness – “Do we read our scriptures? Pay our tithing? Keep the Word of Wisdom?” These things that can be literally counted and measured are a gift to Pharisees. They are concrete, specific, easy to check. That’s why they mention tithing constantly and it is such an important part of our worthiness and temple recommend interviews. It’s much harder to have easy conversations about the things Jesus really cared about. Imagine how long a temple recommend interview could go on for if the questions were “Do you covet? Are you forgiving? Do you love your neighbour as yourself? Are you a hypocrite? Do you love your enemies?” Yeah, much better to stick with the measurable stuff and get the interview over with and sign in the box on the piece of paper.
Wonderfully, Isaiah 58 addresses this directly. God is very clear – it’s NOT about the suffering and the sacrifice and the obedience. Those might sometimes be necessary to achieve the goal, but they are a means to an end, NEVER an end in themselves. God is not impressed by displays of suffering for no purpose. There’s more than enough real unavoidable suffering in our lives without needing to be masochists and make it even harder. Men are that they might have joy! The Book of Mormon says.
This is the twisted Pharisee logic that disconnects the sacrificial donation of money from the actual gospel purpose of the need for it, and turns it into virtuous suffering for its own sake that they have taught us to believe is spiritually good for us even if they’re not spending it on anything useful, exactly as Isaiah 58 describes, where God chastises the people for making a big show of their pain wallowing in sackcloth and ashes as they fast while not actually helping the poor:
“Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?”
So free yourselves from this mind-forged manacle. Definitely step up and sacrifice to meet real needs in your family and your community, but if the need isn’t there, which it definitely isn’t in our incredibly wealthy Church now, spend it where it is actually needed and can do some good!
In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland we have a centuries old tradition where the ruling monarch performs a ritual of charitable giving on Maundy Thursday before Good Friday. After a Church service His or Her or Their Majesties present to some carefully selected deserving elderly poor people a set of silver coins called Maundy Money and some food and clothing. In the Middle Ages the monarch would imitate Jesus by washing their feet first… after thy had first been washed once by commoners and twice by court officials of course before royal hands had to touch their smelly feet but we’ve moved on as a nation from such indignities. They still carry the traditional scented nosegays to mask the stench of the poor though for old times’ sake. And after this tokenery gesture everyone goes back to their castles or their diseased hovels and nothing really changes.
A component of the somewhat racist and definitely class-based global Feudal system in the Church is the fetishization of developing world poverty for spiritual and emotional effect. We have seen this all our lives in the Church magazines and General Conference talks that tell the stories of these developing world poor Mormons who had to spend their entire life savings and travel for weeks to get to a temple to be sealed to their family; or work for years to save for their missions and are being supported from the extreme sacrifice of their families and congregations back home to serve in our countries alongside our much more privileged brothers and sisters, as if this is a faith promoting example to all of us jaded and complacent slackers who take our stuff for granted and have forgotten the simple simplicity of the idealised purer and simpler Christianity of the scriptures, and a bygone age that these people and their lives represent.
What it really is of course its proof positive that our Church has become corrupt to the very bones and exactly practising the class distinctions and wealth disparities that Mormon himself lamented and condemned us for when he saw our day in his passionate indictment and his disgust at what God had shown him.
It is the age old ‘Manifest Destiny’ American story of the white saviours and pioneers who yearned for the simple life of the Native American ‘noble savages’ uncomplicated by the burdens and complexities of modern civilised life, and depicting them in their amazing paintings and poetry as a wistful fading component of a disappearing landscape that we can learn from, and be temporarily moved by, but who still need to be sorted out and modernised since they were cute and all, but really kind of cluttering up the place and getting in the way. So they also stole their land and their resources and enslaved or massacred them. And then in the 1950s, 60’s and 70’s the Mormon prophet Spencer W Kimball told them that if they sent their kids to live with, and learn, and think, and dress, and behave like white Mormons, not only would they get educational and financial opportunities and be more tolerable to integrate into the mainstream of white society, God would literally lift the racist curse on them and their children’s skins would turn white.
The American Mormon oligarchy and alarming percentages of the white Americans they send to be their senior missionaries and regional overlords fetishise the poverty of the brown people of the world with patronising patriarchal pity and admiration at them for making the kinds of sacrifices they and their home ward members would never stand for in their own families and lives to participate in the church and its programs while all the time completely oblivious to the cliche wealthy white privileged racism involved, and how they themselves are imposing and perpetuating a system of barbarian cultural imperialism and appropriation and savage financial inequalities on those people who they pretend are their equals in the gospel. Just like they did to the British Mormons all my childhood and youth, they have a worrying tendency to go all mushy and rejoice when the natives come to Church clothed just like the middle-class Americans in their ward at home and regard this as an outward sign of their steadily civilising influence on these alien people in the proverbial mission field. People who have been refining their civilisation for thousands of years longer than their own immature American one. And they join in the chorus with the General Authorities celebrating how generous they are being to these people with the crumbs that fall from their Wasatch Front banqueting table heaving with gold.
Several members of my family have served such service and prostelyting mission as retired adults and they are the salt of the earth. Their intentions are pure and they have had much wider life experience and consciousness of the history and injustices of empire and past Christian imperial evangelising in Africa and the Carribbean where they served so my impression is that on the whole they have been more sensitive in these matters. I’m not saying these people are monsters and bless their hearts for serving, but the point I am making is about the bigger picture culturally and financially. And isn’t it great that we are actually sending missionaries to countries with black people in now.
Bill and Melinda Gates are using a portion of a fund half the size of our Ensign Peak one to cure malaria and save millions of lives. That’s what you can actually do with that amount of money to spend. We Mormons with far more money are throwing breadcrumbs. They are lovely breadcrumbs – while researching the UK Charity Commission website declarations from the LDS Church I discovered that our large Mormon farms here are also registered as a charity, although they have probably received hefty European Union agricultural subsidies over the years if I remember correctly, and some of the millions of pounds they make tax-free each year is being used to fund microloans to projects to increase crop yields per acre in African communities. Awesome!
But our Church is still expecting kids in poverty and their families to work and scrimp and save for years to pay for themselves to serve full time missions while our Prophet President Russell M Nelson travels to Kenya to tell the Mormon poor to pay the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints more money and expect God to wave His magic wand and make their country rich. Can you see the rather significant contrast here?
And still not a single share has been sold to help the missionary program in this financial crisis and rising costs so that they wouldn’t need to raise the fees to serve by 25% in a Church that is so awash with filthy lucre that the sums are actually difficult to conceptualise. The Church could afford to house every missionary in the most expensive hotels in whatever country they are at and provide them with chauffeur driven Rolls Royces and personal chefs without it causing even a blip in their ledger book. But you won’t, will you, Presiding Bishops. You aren’t saving wealth for 7 years to pay out in the 7 years of famine. You are taking tithing from everyone and hoarding it indefinitely, and every time there is a famine you are saying ‘Give us more money and time please – don’t you know there’s a famine on?! Specially you missionaries! That will be $100 more a month. Thankyou.” You really couldn’t make it up. Lie after lie after smiling lie.
They’ll give a few tokenary Maundy Money pennies to a few of the poor but do nothing to practice what Jesus preached and fundamentally reconfigure how money and power are abused in our Church and make it worthy of the name of Jesus of Nazareth. Not the Norwegian Pharisee Zeus Jesus in the Art and the logo and the new foyer shrines President Nelson has made compulsory. The Middle Eastern Jesus who spent quite a lot of his formative years living in black Africa. Yes, the Africa you wouldn’t touch with a barge pole till 1978 because apparently Jesus had rather gone off those people he used to live with and who gave him shelter as a refugee by the 19th century.
And what about the parable of the talents!!! What did they say again? Bishop Causse said ““Investment is not burying the money in the ground like in the Parable of the Talents, but making sure that it’s not idle; that the Church will enjoy an increased value of these reserves so they can be used for the sake of, for the purpose of the Church.”
W Christopher Waddell said “there’s so many examples in the scriptures that we strive to follow, whether it’s the parable of the talents and not to bury the talent. We saw what the Lord did to that individual.”
Have you noticed it yet? These senior General Authorities actually think the parable of the talents is about making a killing on the stock market!! They are literally taking it literally! THEY are the foolish servants that God will take everything away from and they don’t realise this! But let’s put THOSE guys in charge of managing funds that are larger than the gross national product of all but 40 of the earth’s 195 nation states, most with populations far higher than the tithe paying membership of the LDS Church.
Right, listen to me W Christopher and Gerard: Since they recently replaced Deano Davies but still inexplicably kept YOU two in the Presiding Bishopric, including the one who doesn’t know what the Great Depression actually was, please do me this one favour chaps. You know that Parable of the Talents? It’s NOT about making a fortune in the stock market. I realise this will come as a shock to you because it’s obvious from your massive oblivious grins that you think you are rocking it right now and are SO totally stoked to be actually doing one of Jesus’ ACTUAL parables in Jesus’ ACTUAL True Church … LITERALLY! I mean, how many people get to do THAT with their turn on earth? Am I right?!!! I’m afraid you’ve rather got the wrong end of the stick old beans. It’s what we call a METAPHOR.. Yes, a METAPHOR. ‘Metaphor’ means it’s not literal. Parables are not literal. They are symbolic. And funnily enough, what this ‘talents’ parable is a metaphor of is that you are meant to use your gifts and resources to help PEOPLE. PEOPLE who need the help. Not corporations. Not Big Pharma. Not oil companies. Not that company you gave millions to that makes offensive weapons systems. Not Amazon or Google. It’s not about who has the most stocks and shares and money in the bank when Jesus the Master returns wins. I KNOW, I KNOW that’s what the parable literally SAYS – Jesus will give the biggest prize to the person who makes the most money on the stock market. But that’s not what it MEANS W Christopher and Gerard. He doesn’t want a massive room of gold when He begins His Millennial Reign. He doesn’t need it. The parable MEANS that you give the money to the POOR, and then they can help lots of OTHER poor people and they all pay it forward, and soon loads of people are helping loads of other people and you’ve made the world twice as friendly and awesome and well fed as when you started.
Now this next bit is going to be even more difficult for you to hear so sit down both of you and think carefully about what I’m saying and try not to be too upset. I’m here for you. The other thing this parable means with its metaphor is that YOU… are the bad guys. I’m sorry W Chris and Gerry, but you’re the useless and foolish servants who hid all the money away looking after it ever so carefully for when your Master comes back instead of using a single penny of it to help ANYONE in a world full of hunger and poverty and a Church collapsing into mass inactivity that you could have done SO MUCH with all that money to help and feed and heal and prevent. Baby Jesus is very, very, very, very disappointed in you, and if you don’t do some repenting pretty pronto you are in deep trouble. How deep? Well, if you piled 100 billion dollar bills on top of each other and buried them in a deep deep hole till the whole pile could fit in it, that’s how deep. It’s a lot isn’t it. YES. Off you go now and say sorry and repent. Oh, and ultimately you know what lesson you need to learn from all this W Christopher and Gerry? You remember that primary lesson when Sister Anxiously Engaged was teaching you all about the Parable of the Talents and what it really means? And you both decided it would be a good idea to tie Kayzlee Brinlee’s pigtails to the back of her chair instead of listening nicely to the lesson? You should have listened to the lesson W Christopher and Gerry. You should have listened to the Lesson. Now, to help you both to process this I want you to go home, sit down in a quiet room and Google ‘That Mitchell and Webb Look The Anxious Nazis.’ That’s Mitchell with a t and two l’s and Webb with 2 B’s. That’s right. It’s just a few minutes long but it will explain everything. Off you go now!
I used to have high hopes for the European General Authorities like Gerald Causse who is now the Presiding Bishop telling these lies and hiding the real finances from the Church members. He really impressed me as thoughtful, intelligent and principled when he spoke as an area authority in my stake many moons ago and gave me hope for good men like him ascending the hierarchy and being capable of rescuing our Church from the geriatric American doddards and dragging it into the 21st century. It breaks my heart watching a once great person with so much potential spiritually and literally perjuring himself in the service of the Pharisee financial feudal system of exploitation and control.
But it is a timely and important reminder that absolute power and no accountability can, and always will, corrupt anyone, including in our allegedly “True” Church. Amazing British Seventy Patrick Kieron, who was a superb pastoral stake president to my sister, brought the house down with his passionate April 2016 General Conference talk about refugees that was pure Christian Mormonism and a wonderful breath of fresh air. He seemed to kind of drop off the radar until a similarly compassionate prayer in October 2020 General Conference and suddenly he is now the Senior President of the First Quorum of Seventy and hopefully a hair’s breadth from apostleship. I just hope and pray he didn’t spend the intervening years being lobotomised in some committee in the basement of the Ivory Tower in Salt Lake City and will be able to hold onto that passion for British Common Sense and real Christian Mormonism when the Apostles pass him the chocolate box with only the tooth breaking toffee left in it. Or will his good soul be twisted and dusty by the time he gets to the fruity soft centres? The Frog didn’t last 5 minutes. Don’t break my heart Pat! Do it for Britain and Her Majesty! God Save Our Kearon!!
The answer to fix this mess is NOT to hope for a new generation of younger General Authorities with a modern outlook to ascend to power and be the change. For a start, they are ALL old and backward looking simply because of their age by the time they actually get to be in charge, and secondly by then they have also been completely reprogrammed by the system and the culture and the peer pressure on the slow, painstaking journey to get to have the first pick of the Apostolic chocolate box.
So there is an incredibly simple solution and it’s the ONLY one that can work and save the Church from these Pharisees and oblivion: We have to stop letting them HAVE absolute power with no accountability. This broken bureaucracy was NEVER how our Church was meant to distribute power and authority in the first place. We can’t possibly require more screamingly obvious proof of the desperate need for common Consent oversight and supervision of our General Authorities by the collective wisdom of the ordinary people in the Church than the omnishambles paraded in front of us all to be horrified by and learn hard lessons from that are the revelations about the Secret Combinations of the Ensign Peak Advisers and the utter public relations apocalypse the Presiding Bishopric made of trying to justify it.
The First Presidency did its bit to try and contain the PR damage. On 17 December 2019 they issued a short 2 paragraph “‘First Presidency Statement on Church Finances’ – Statement provided in response to media stories: “We take seriously the responsibility to care for the tithes and donations received from members. The vast majority of these funds are used immediately to meet the needs of the growing Church, including more meetinghouses, temples, education, humanitarian work and missionary efforts throughout the world. Over many years, a portion is methodically safeguarded through wise financial management and the building of a prudent reserve for the future. This is a sound doctrinal and financial principle taught by the Savior in the Parable of the Talents and lived by the Church and its members. All Church funds exist for no other reason than to support the Church’s divinely appointed mission.
Claims being currently circulated are based on a narrow perspective and limited information. The Church complies with all applicable law governing our donations, investments, taxes, and reserves. We continue to welcome the opportunity to work with officials to address questions they may have.”
….Oh my Giddy Gadianton Robbers!!! That’s absolutely perfect!! These totally un-self-aware hypocrites who also think that the Parable of the Talents is telling them to hide the talents away in the stock market instead of giving them to people so they can really help people and grow have just come up with the PERFECT mission statement or motto for the Pharisee Mormons while making up a criticism of others that is in fact a Freudian displacement of their own guilt. It perfectly describes their whole operation, yet does so in precisely appropriate bland bureaucracy speak: “Claims being currently circulated are based on a narrow perspective and limited information.” That describes their whole approach to missionary work, to doctrine, to the Church Education System, every lesson manual they ever wrote, the Handbook of Instructions, the Gospel Topics Essays, the ‘Saints’ novels, their financial transparency, and the intellectual, spiritual and emotional depth of their Pharisee Mormon Religion. “Claims being currently circulated are based on a narrow perspective and limited information.” Or, in Latin for their coat of arms since they love going back in time, “Quae dicta sunt currently circumvicinis laboraverunt et limitata fundatur in a perspective angustus notitia.” I wonder what “Claims being currently circulated are based on a narrow perspective and limited information” would sound like in Reformed Egyptian?.....