Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Paisley Perestroika


Notice: My 30 Sept disciplinary court & excommunication have been canceled! However they reserve the right to reschedule at a future date. 


Mormon members are wonderful people. They work tirelessly, donate profusely, clean meetinghouses and are constantly trying to be happy exemplar members of their church. They do this obediently. We hear they're fasting for Mitt Romney this Sunday. They feel part of something very important. And, perhaps they have been. 




Mormon culture is unique, not only for its beliefs, but its history & cultural idiosyncrasies. I believe it could seriously transform the world through charitable action. But something is standing in the way of that.

The LDS Profits.

The LDS hiearchy is comprised almost entirely of businessmen, lawyers and corporate professionals. Why is that? It's certainly an influence in the direction the LDS Church has taken when investing money. Members are told that constructing City Creek created jobs and protects the area near Temple Square. What isn't said is that it builds & protects profits. What isn't said: Jobs can be created by  building shelters to protect the battered, homeless and heartless instead of protecting a church building. The money-changing at the side of Temple Square are given flashy tables and five-year rent-free contracts to protect the LDS temple.

Mormon 8:37 For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted. 

Plenty of members are secretly sick inside when thinking about the direction MormonCo heads as it deals with the temple-protecting money-changers.  This is not the gospel.  This is the business.
Many members are tired of the corporate takeover of their religion, but afraid to speak out. Understandably when they see that the slightest words can pull you into disciplinary council at the drop of a paisley shirt. But I'm here to tell you, if enough members make a silent statement in a way that cannot be punished, it will be recognized and the corporation will get the message.

A turn from money-changing to heartfelt donation can change the world. Take the $3-4 billion spent on the City Creek Center and solve world hunger for school children for a year ¹. It can be done. The good will the church could receive will outstrip the negativity of a fancy elitist-mall. In just one year. The Mormon church would be esteemed beyond measure.

What can you do? 

If you stand for increasing monies to poverty and hunger, and diminishing the money-changing influence in Salt Lake HQ, then you can stand in solidarity at church by quietly dressing differently.  

We can begin a silent Paisley Perestroika.

White-shirts and dark ties are binary. Stripes are finite. Paisley with the non-ending variants in patterns and volumous numbers of acceptable color combinations is infinite. It represents the diversity of thoughts & hearts in the membership while uniting us in a common range of patterns.

Women, you can show silent support for reform by wearing something as subtle as a paisley scarf, carry a paisley handbag, or being bolder, wear that paisley blouse, or a complete dress. Men, your options could be a kerchief, tie, or shirt.

We're not fighting God, the gospel or the message. We can braid paisley into a silent scourge and overturn the tables of the money-changing. Reform and get back to what was intended: love thy neighbor and treat him as you want to be treated, even if you don't wear the same colors in life.

I ask for peaceful and even silent protest against the actions mentioned here, by donning the apparel that lets them know that love, acceptance, helping others and giving to the needy are what we want with our donations of money, time and talents. 

Overturn the tables of corporate empowerment.  Stop the suppression of dissent.

We understand there is a fast this Sunday for Mitt Romney.  If the members can fast for a wealthy politician, then they can wear paisley for the poor.

Bring back true charity!  





1.  "$3.2 billion is needed per year to reach all 66 million hungry school-age children. Of this, US$1.2 billion would allow World Food Programme to reach 23 million children in Africa." 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Boogie on Down: A Corporation with Sole

Most of you have heard that the LDS Church corporation is called a Corporation Sole.  All LDS businesses are owned under two sole-corporations: The Corporation of the President of the COJCOLDS, and The Corporation of the Presiding Bishopric of COJCOLDS.

What is a corporation sole?  It's a very hip, cool thing, if you're at the top of the multi-level pyramid.  Thomas S. Monson currently is the top dog and owner of all that is LDS inc.  That's estimated at upwards of $40-60 BILLION in assets.

Officially, a corporation sole is a legal entity consisting of a single ("sole") incorporated office, occupied by a single ("sole") man.  This allows corporations to pass without interval in time from one office holder to the next successor-in-office, giving the positions legal continuity with subsequent office holders having identical and sole-ownership powers to their predecessors.  Now, what can Thomas S. Monson do with this ownership?

Let's take a look at the internal memos at LDS Inc on this matter.  The original articles of incorporation were drafted in 1917, by Heber J. Grant and his counselors.  I'll show you that later.  Most interesting is the fifth amendment.  (I posted a link and the entire articles of incorporation at the bottom.)

The articles of incorporation for the Sole LDS inc were amended by Harold B. Lee to account for the end or demise of the LDS incorportion.

The 5th amendment text reads:

"Upon the winding up and dissolution of this corporation, after paying or adequately providing for the debts and obligations of the corporation, the remaining assets shall be distributed to a nonprofit fund, foundation or corporation, which is organized and operated exclusively for charitable, educational, or religious and/or scientific purposes and which has established its tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code."

"Upon the winding up and dissolution of this corporation" --did you catch that??   The Brethren, back a few decades ago, expected that the stone rolling forth without hands would not fill the earth.  It will wind up and dissolve.  And what will happen to the considerable wealth, property and ownership of businesses?  It will go to a non-profit "fund" that can take on the form of a "corporation" (or, in case you feel squeamish about that, they added "charitable, educational, religious or scientific" to cover most any base they wish)

 The vagueness of which non-profit would get the assets is clearly intentional.   Yes, they have a plan. 

Now, what defines and decides this winding up and dissolution point?  And who can really end up holding the lucrative bag of non-profit handovers?

The second amendment allows LDSinc to give property to any member they wish.

"The object of this corporation shall be to acquire, hold and dispose of such real and personal property as may be conveyed to or acquired by said corporation for the benefit of the members ...this corporation shall have power, without any authority or authorization from the members of said Church or religious society, to grant, sell, convey, rent, mortgage, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any part or all of such property."

Did you catch that?  I italicized it for you.  The sole owner can convey in any manner they want any of the property or wealth held by the LDS corporation sole.  

As a member, not anyone of us, except the sole owners at the top, can do anything about what happens to the property.  Membership in the church is almost entirely comprised of being on a list owned by Intellectual Reserved Inc, a business unit under the LDS coproration sole. As such, you are nothing more than a subscriber to meetings and information given out about the church. You own no part of it as a member.  Your baptism and sealing are purely ornaments to your membership number.


If the church imploded or winded or dissolved, legally, the members on that list have no legal rights.  If the gig were up tomorrow, you would get nothing as a member.   Every year, the church re-iterates this on your donation statement: You received no goods or services, only intangible blessings for your donations. 

 They also specify on that same donor slip:   all donations become the Church's property and will be used at the Church's sole discretion to further the Church's overall mission.

Who has that "sole discretion"?  The fourth amendment places all the power to give what they wish and do what they want with all funds to the president as a corporation sole...

"The title of the person making these articles of incorporation is "President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." He and his successor in office shall be deemed and are hereby created a body politic and corporation sole with perpetual succession, having all the powers and rights and authority in these articles specified or provided for by law. But in the event of the death or resignation from office of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints..."

In other words, the prophet is still legally in charge and the disposition even in the dissolution is decided by the president.

If the church leaders wanted to, they could find round-about ways to distribute the mega-amassed wealth of the LDS corporation sole, and eventually giving it to themselves through "laundering" techniques.  Would they do that?  Probably only if they realized the gig is up.  That could be in the next decade.  Tithings fall off, members learn the truth.  A church is only worth its membership rolls.  However, a $60 Billion corporation sole is eternal.  You think they'll just let that wither and die?  Not at all.  They can plant it in an off-shore account and nurse it to full health with a good supply of beach-side margaritas.





Source: http://user.xmission.com/~research/central/chorg3.htm





Below is a reprint of the LDS articles of incorporation for archival purposes.

Corporation of the PresidentARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
of the
CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS
CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,
STATE OF UTAH
COUNTY OF SALT LAKE
I, the undersigned, having been duly chosen and appointed President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in conformity with the rites, regulations and discipline of said Church, being desirous of forming a corporation for the purpose of acquiring, holding and disposing of Church or religious society property, for the benefit of religion, for works of charity and for public worship, under and pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 3, Title 19, of the Compiled Laws of Utah, 1917, on "Churches and Religious Societies," and all acts amendatory thereof and supplementary thereto, for that purpose do hereby make and subscribe, in duplicate, the following


ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
First: The name of this corporation shall be the CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
Second: The object of this corporation shall be to acquire, hold and dispose of such real and personal property as may be conveyed to or acquired by said corporation for the benefit of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religious society, for the benefit of religion, for works of charity and for public worship. Such real and personal property may be situated, either within the State of Utah, or elsewhere, and this corporation shall have power, without any authority or authorization from the members of said Church or religious society, to grant, sell, convey, rent, mortgage, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any part or all of such property.
Third: The estimated value of the property of which I hold the legal title for the purpose aforesaid, at the time of making these Articles of Incorporation, is One Million, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars.
Fourth: The title of the person making these Articles of Incorporation is "PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS."
Fifth: The corporate seal shall contain the words, "Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," and an impression thereof is hereto affixed.
[Seal] [Signed] Heber J. Grant
President of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints.
STATE OF UTAH
SS:
COUNTY OF SALT LAKE
On this 26th day of November, 1923, before me, Arthur Winter, a Notary Public in and for said County, personally appeared HEBER J. GRANT, who is known to me to be the person whose name is subscribed to the foregoing instrument as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and duly acknowledged to me that he executed the same as such President.
[Seal] [Signed] Arthur Winter
Notary Public
Residing at Salt Lake City, Utah.
My commission expires Dec. 1, 1923.




AMENDMENT TO
ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
of the
CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH OF
JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
STATE OF UTAH ss.
COUNTY OF SALT LAKE
HEBER J. GRANT, being first duly sworn, deposes and says:
That he is now and for more than twenty years last past has been the duly chosen and appointed President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and as such President has been since on or about the 26th day of November, 1923, and now is, the legally constituted Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter=day Saints, a corporation sole; that under and pursuant to Section 18-7-5 R.S.U. 1933 he hereby amends Article "Fourth" of said Articles of Incorporation as now of record in the proper offices of this and other states, said article as amended to read as follows:


ARTICLE FOURTH
Fourth: The title of the person making these articles of incorporation is "President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." He and his successor in office shall be deemed and are hereby created a body politic and corporation sole with perpetual succession, having all the powers and rights and authority in these articles specified or provided for by law. But in the event of the death or resignation from office of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or in the event of a vacancy in that office from any cause, the President or Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of said Church, or one of the members of said Quorum thereunto designated by that Quorum, shall, pending the installation of a successor President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, be the corporation sole under these articles, and the laws pursuant to which they are made, and shall be and is authorized in his official capacity to execute in the name of the corporation all documents or other writings necessary to the carrying on of its purposes, business and objects, and to do all things in the name of the corporation which the original signer of the articles of incorporation might do; it being the purpose of these articles that there shall be no failure in succession in the office of such corporation sole.
[Signed] Heber J. Grant
President of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints,
corporation sole.
[Seal]
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 18 day of June, 1940.
[the name of Notary Public not shown on copy of amendment]
(Original in State of Utah Archives, Salt Lake City, Utah)




ARTICLES OF AMENDMENT
TO THE
ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
OF THE
CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH OF
JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
A UTAH CORPORATION SOLE
Pursuant to the provisions of Section 16-7-5 of the Utah Code Annotated 1953 (as amended) relating to amendments of articles of incorporation of corporations sole, the CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, a Utah Corporation Sole, does hereby amend its Articles of Incorporation by adding an additional Paragraph V thereto as follows:


Upon the winding up and dissolution of this corporation, after paying or adequately providing for the debts and obligations of the corporation, the remaining assets shall be distributed to a nonprofit fund, foundation or corporation, which is organized and operated exclusively for charitable, educational, or religious and/or scientific purposes and which has established its tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned has caused these presents to be executed this 19th day of November, 1973.
CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE
CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY
SAINTS, a Utah Corporation Sole
By: [signed] Harold B. Lee
Harold B. Lee, Corporation Sole
STATE OF UTAH ) ss:
County of Salt Lake )
HAROLD B. LEE, being first duly sworn, deposes and says: That he is now and ever since July 7, 1972, has been the duly chosen and appointed President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and, as such president, is now and ever since said date has been the legally constituted CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS, a Utah Corporation Sole; that the original Articles of Incorporation of said Corporation Sole were executed by Heber J. Grant, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; that he, Harold B. Lee, is the successor in office to the said Heber J. Grant; that he, Harold B. Lee, executed the foregoing Articles of Amendment as said Corporation Sole.
[signed] Harold B. Lee
SUBSCRIBED AND SWORN to before me this 19th day of November, 1973.
[signed] Wilford W Kirton, Jr
NOTARY PUBLIC
Residing at Salt Lake City, Utah
My commission expires:
2-3-77



Articles of Incorporation as amended:

ARTICLES OF INCORPORATION
First: The name of this corporation shall be the CORPORATION OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS.
Second: The object of this corporation shall be to acquire, hold and dispose of such real and personal property as may be conveyed to or acquired by said corporation for the benefit of the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a religious society, for the benefit of religion, for works of charity and for public worship. Such real and personal property may be situated, either within the State of Utah, or elsewhere, and this corporation shall have power, without any authority or authorization from the members of said Church or religious society, to grant, sell, convey, rent, mortgage, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any part or all of such property.
Third: The estimated value of the property of which I hold the legal title for the purpose aforesaid, at the time of making these Articles of Incorporation, is One Million, Five Hundred Thousand Dollars.
Fourth: The title of the person making these articles of incorporation is "President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." He and his successor in office shall be deemed and are hereby created a body politic and corporation sole with perpetual succession, having all the powers and rights and authority in these articles specified or provided for by law. But in the event of the death or resignation from office of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or in the event of a vacancy in that office from any cause, the President or Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of said Church, or one of the members of said Quorum thereunto designated by that Quorum, shall, pending the installation of a successor President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, be the corporation sole under these articles, and the laws pursuant to which they are made, and shall be and is authorized in his official capacity to execute in the name of the corporation all documents or other writings necessary to the carrying on of its purposes, business and objects, and to do all things in the name of the corporation which the original signer of the articles of incorporation might do; it being the purpose of these articles that there shall be no failure in succession in the office of such corporation sole.
Fifth: Upon the winding up and dissolution of this corporation, after paying or adequately providing for the debts and obligations of the corporation, the remaining assets shall be distributed to a nonprofit fund, foundation or corporation, which is organized and operated exclusively for charitable, educational, or religious and/or scientific purposes and which has established its tex-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Sixth: The corporate seal shall contain the words, "Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," and an impression thereof is hereto affixed.

Pay Lay-Clergy



With all my blogs about the LDS corporate empire...
...You may be saying, “Just because the Church has a lot of money doesn’t mean its leaders are wrong.”

Of course not.  But what if the top leaders get a lot of money because of their positions?

“Ridiculous!” You could retort.  “They might get a small stipend, but they do not earn a living from the church.”

Are you sure?  

If you knew your prophet, the apostles and others were raking it in, would that change your perspective?

The church keeps the lid on its finances very tightly closed.  They do not report income or expenses, salaries or any information except as absolutely necessary in each state where they operate businesses.  The reason, they claim, is that they don’t want to reveal the donations of church members.  However, a lot of the finances are found in records held by individual states where the subsidies of the “Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” incorporate in each location.

And by searching these kinds of state databases, a lot of very interesting information about Profits of Prophets are revealed.
A quick search on the Corporation Wiki websites shows that the top leaders of the Mormon church do have high level (and very probably high paying) positions among the many multi-billion dollar entities under the LDS church umbrella corporation.  A few of the more prominent examples include:

Thomas S Monson holds the position of Chairman of LDS Business College, Director of BYU-Idaho , Chairman & Director of the Corporation of the President and probably more, if one is willing to investigate all the links between the brethren at the corporation wiki.
See

A Chairman of a US college earns an average salary well over $100,000 per year.  A director on the board of trustees of a university earns close to six-figures, and the President of a corporation, especially that is the umbrella corporation holding over $30 Billion in subsidies, well, that would earn you seven figures.  Granted Monson does not work full time at any of these positions, but one can rest assured he gets a good salary, otherwise he couldn’t afford his driver and the Security edition Audi A8 that with full upgrades runs close to $1 million to buy new. 



You can find similar information about the Directorships, Chairmanships, Presidents of this and that on other top LDS executive General Authorities. Just quick searches can show you these:
And search parcel # 09-31-332-017-0000  at


What does this mean?

It means that when the church invested billions in the City Creek Center, it was a business move that not only provided jobs to local construction crews, merchants and retailers, it probably provided high-level executive positions for church leaders, who cut the ribbon to open their pride and joy.



There’s a video of a Gala where it is clearly announced that former Church CEO/President/LDS Prophet Gordon Hinckley served as Chairman of the Deseret Management Corp, parent company of Beneficial (at the time). Current President/Prophet Thomas Monson is named too.

The 1%-er type salary-positions the ecclesiastical leaders hold in the Church Corporation should be disappointing at the very least to those that believe helping the poor and feeding the hungry takes priority over being able to sell Rolex watches at the Church Mall.

"But I never knew this!" 

Of course not!  Sheeple don't need to know how the shepherders get their robes.



Visitors Welcome. (Now here's your muzzle.)

Outside of the Hunters Creek Stake Orlando LDS meetinghouse, where I was interrogated by the leadership on 16 Sep, is a sign like that in front of almost all Mormon chapels.

Mormon.org, an official church site, says:
Our primary family worship service is called sacrament meeting. ... Visitors are welcome to attend. ...Visitors are also welcome to attend other Sunday meetings that precede or follow sacrament meeting

There are no qualifications listed in their invitation.  It does not say that you must dress or act a certain way (there are recommendations and expectations of white shirt,dark tie, conservative dress).  It does not say the media is not allowed to attend, observe and even go home and report.  

During my 45-minute interrogation, the stake president told me he didn't like that I was coming to church with "views that you are propagating in our midst here." I explained that I hadn't expressed my views in the church.  He corrected himself that it was my "derogatory writings" that were the problem.  They told me that "this is not a witch hunt" and that they are "protecting the flock from wolves in sheep clothing."

My attire whenever I attended was definitely not sheepish.  In fact the blog takes the word "Paisley" in its title to represent that I in fact am standing apart. I was not hiding or pretending or infiltrating. When I introduced myself around, I made it clear that I was an inactive member returning to see what's what in the LDS church.  For all intents and purposes I am a visitor, but with a dusty membership card.

The muzzle is for members.  Non-members, reporters, and other visitors--whatever their motive may be--are allowed polite attendance at any one of the over 6000 meetinghouses and can at will write about their experiences in any flavor, color or pattern they like.  If you are a member, even a long-time-gone visiting member, you must immediately don the muzzle in talking.

Was it really my briefing about my experience at the ward that caused the furor?  In order to divert from the publicity my writings on Romney have caused the Mormons, Scott Gordon, the president of FAIR, LDS dame-de-soi, is changing the subject.  Gordon turned me in because, he claims, I was subverting members in my writings.  I've already commented on that in War Worn.  But I want to point out that again the only two links I had sent the member I am alleged to have subverted were one from his LDS-defense website, and another from one talking about the same issue from a less favorable perspective.  This is called choice.  If the leaders & Scott had their way, choice would be between LDS.ORG and MORMON.ORG.  What was it that Lucifer proposed as his plan of salvation?  Oh yeah, take away choice...


So I ask, are visitors welcome?  If we don't wear black-n-white or stripes, or quiet flowered dresses will we be in the council's gun-sights?  If we dare bring up both viewpoints on an obviously controversial point of doctrine or history are we heretics just for using standard, well acceptable discussion protocol? Is it really more enlightening and polite to ignore facts that may alter the outcome of the discussion, just to spare the institution embarrassment?

What kind of visitors is the LDS Church really looking for?


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Stepping on a smear

You may have read I'm running scared. Something to think about what I'm up against...

By my estimate, Fortune 500 Apple Computer has holdings of about $80 billion "cash" and owns two large corporate campuses, totaling about 2.8 million square feet of building space on nearly 200 acres of land in Silicon Valley, CA.  They also have around 360 retail stores and a worldwide employment of around 64,000 persons.  They're ranked one of the most valued and admired companies on the globe.

And the Mormons are giving Apple five years free rent to open a retail store in the new Mormon owned City Creek Mall.

Yes, the Mormons own a retail mall. The ~$3 Billion mall is owned by City Creek Reserve, Inc  a subsidy company held by the LDS Church according to their own website (http://www.downtownrising.com/ ).

Why would a religion own a mall?  In fact, that's only a drop in the bucket of what the Mormons own.  

By comparison with Apple's 200+ acres of land, LDSinc reportedly owns about 1 million acres in the continental U.S., including a ranch just down the road from where I live in Central Florida.  Not just any ranch, a $1 billion ranch of 300-thousand acres  herding 44,000 cows and 1,300 bulls.  I've been to it, just off the Dallas rd exit of 528.  It's immense.


But that's just a drop in the perverbial bucket.  Business week reports that a tally of the LDS corporate empire surmised it is probably "worth $40 billion today and collects up to $8 billion in tithing each year."  That's tax-free tithing income.  Which it doesn't report to anyone.  Not even its own members.  The number of subsidiaries, holdings and so forth are daunting.  They probably spend a fortune on Public Relations, with a firm or two pressed to advertise and keep people from realizing just how Fortune 100 LDSinc really is. You be the judge...Just take a look:
(from Business Week)

Even considering the non-corporate, ecclesiastical holdings of the LDS church is staggering. By comparison with Apple's 2.8 million square-foot campuses, LDSinc owns three universities and a business school with square footage in the several millions.  They operate Temple square and another 130+ temples of sizes ranging between 10,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet.  Another 6-7000 meetinghouses, hundreds of religious seminary and institute buildings and much much more that it uses to operate a massive sales-force of "every member a missionary" to spread the word of the benefits of paying 10% tithing to the Lord's corporation.  If that's not enough, they have a full-time, labor-free sales force of ~50,000 missionaries spread across the globe.  These young people pay for their own food & lodging and work without any pay.  Apple's sales force?  Their entire employment base is not much bigger, at just over 60,000.  When you add up the free labor, the ecclesiastical properties and more, that $40 billion worth sky-rockets to perhaps double.

LDSinc is a mind-boggling large, enormously well-fed, tax-exempt privately held company that seems to dwarf Apple Computer.  They already have in place Mormon Orrin Hatch of Utah who heads  oversight of tax-exempt organizations on the Finance Committee in the US Senate, protecting the "tax exemption" of his guys. And they have their own candidate running for the highest office of the most powerful country.

And I just stepped in the middle of them.

This past few days have showed me just an inkling of the kind of free PR and the kind of quiet, subeversive PR they may be engaging "on my behalf" (as it said in their letter of my disciplinary council).

I have had numerous emails and even a few threatening calls.  I have had someone contact ex-girlfriends asking for information about us.  Calls to true-believing friends/family (even my ex-wife) have been more innocuous, but seemingly probing all the same.

And I believe this could be just the beginning of a smear campaign.


No doubt many of their followers will claim I am the attacker.  They are the victims. 

Ok. go with that.



Saturday, September 22, 2012

War worn


Some may have noted that it seems I cannot decide what the motive was for the disciplinary council scheduled for me. Was it because I wrote about Romney or because of my writings on the LDS church?  

When I interviewed with Jamie Reno of TheDailyBeast.com, I felt in my gut that the Romney pieces were a part of why this happened.  During the 45 minute interrogation on September 16, my local leaders never said "Romney" in my interrogation. These men are an accountant, a physician and other professionals. They know that to say that they are disciplining me over politics would be appear improper.  (However, I am still confused why they would feel disciplining me over any speech is proper.) They indicated discomfort with my recent writings as a whole, which includes three blog entries and one MT article discussing Romney that were posted from Sept 11-15.  The timing was suspicious.  I told this to Jamie, and I told him that I felt this was a motive.  The temple was a concern to them, and I had linked the Laws of Consecration & Sacrifice covenants language to my article on Romney on Sept 12. Such that, when they referred to the concerns about the temple, I inferred they meant the Romney piece.  Additionally, while referring to my writings, the stake president did say about himself, "I'm not a political man..."   It is unclear to me what he meant by this and why he interjected it.  But it gave me a sense that there was something he was feeling regarding the politics involved, without ever saying it was a political move.  

Friday, September 21 was a trying day--I had constant press contacts, calls, requests for interviews, video and audio recording.  I was worn out.  Late that morning, I was told by a media consultant that I should think about what I am saying, given that research monies and grants come from the government and that my career depends on some of these.  That got me running scared.  Perhaps that is unjustified, but it felt very real on Friday. When I was contacted by the New York Times that afternoon, I told Laurie Goodstein on our second call, that in fact I was now concerned and I didn't want the Romney connection emphasized because I was worried how that could affect my future.  I told her that I could not be certain that it was my writings on Romney that formed the basis of the disciplinary council against me.  I am still not 100% certain, as no one can be.  

Later on Friday I was contacted by Peggy Stack of the Salt Lake Tribune (and emailed with another media outlet in UT).  I made similar statements to Peggy that the timing was suspicious, but that I had no direct evidence it is about Romney. In my worn out state-of-mind, I said that I didn't want this to be about politics; that I don't feel happy that discussions of my pending discipline have taken on such a national political tone.  I would prefer the topic remain on the Mormon Church's inability to defend its own position specifically & doctrinally on this matter.  I also told her that I have no malice for the Romney campaign and don't mean to hurt it.  Yes, I admit, I was running scared and very tired by late Friday.  I was war worn.

However, after having some sleep, and now that the NY Times article came out, I read statements by Scott Gordon, a Mormon apologist, that indicated he was behind turning me into the church authorities. One of his statements has resolved me back to my original gut feeling--that this is probably in part about the LDS church squelching my political speech.  The reason is a little complex.  Let me start with his particular quote from the NY Times:

“ It has nothing to do with Romney,” Mr. Gordon said. “I know members very high up in the church who are voting for Obama.”

“ It’s about him posting on a blog that he was actively in there trying to subvert people’s beliefs in the L.D.S. church,” Mr. Gordon said... "

If you've read my "The Mysteries of the Gospel" blog, you will know that the only case Gordon had against me was that I wrote about emailing with "Pat" who I indicated was a questioning member.  I wrote:

" I decided to send Pat two links: The first link to Mormon Info Graphics on the Book of Abraham, and a second one to FAIR’s explanation of one of the facsimiles. "

Links included in this were:

http://www.mormoninfographics.com/search/label/Facsimile

http://en.fairmormon.org/Book_of_Abraham/Joseph_Smith_Papyri/Facsimiles/Facsimile_3

The latter is directly from Scott Gordon's own group, FAIR. In other words, I gave someone information that FAIR wrote. I find it extremely unlikely that this is what got the LDS Salt Lake leaders' panties in a bunch.  If that were true, Scott Gordon would also be called in for disciplinary court.

I feel in my gut, that these excuses only strengthen the case that it was likely political. Before this, I had begun to question the motive, but I again feel stronger that this is probably a considerable factor.  I think TheDailyBeast probably reflects what I initially and again most recently believe.  

Friday, September 21, 2012

The letter

Given me at the end of my 16 Sept "interview".


Yes,. they mispelled my last name.  They tried correcting it with a pen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The compromise

The editorial board of MormonThink want to take my story to the press.  Something was posted about this on some forums, but I requested the moderators to remove them until I was sure what I would do.  Having someone in the press is handy, and I will talk with them, but I won't let it get out until I'm ready.

What's keeping me?

I spoke with another LDS member (John Dehlin) yesterday who had a mellowing effect on me.  He has walked a balanced line between critic and faithful member for a long while and his arguments are that it is useful to remain in the system and try to have dialogues with LDS church leaders.  He believes they are coming around.

I would encourage them, if they talked with me, to post direct responses on LDS.ORG to the most troubling issues faithful members are having.  I explained to the stake presidency in my "interview" that to hide information is to invite frustration and even anger on the part of members when they learn them through FAIR, MormonThink, or reading Richard Bushman.  One way or the other, the studious member will find these facts.  I don't believe the Mormon church intends its members to remain dolts or unlearned sheeple.  It encourages gospel scholarship.  However, many of us come unglued about what we learn when we follow that counsel and see what was hidden.

Open and honest dialogue will allow members to choose, according to their agency, whether these facts are too troubling or in the end, humanizing.  What do I mean?  If we learn that the prophets are just as human, just as weak as we are, perhaps we will not feel anxious about our imperfections.  Perhaps we will be more at ease in the church and more tolerant.  Yes, I believe an honest view of Joseph Smith's weaknesses and by opening the facts it will bring love and tolerance to the wider membership of the church because they will lose their need to feel inadequate about imperfections in themselves and others.  The Mormon church needs to jettison Perfection Syndrome.

That is Christianity at its best, I think.

In this light, I will send a letter by email and paper to my stake president and bishop.  I quote it below.  

I hope to hear from them in the next couple of days.  The media wants to talk, and I can't stall it if I feel threatened.



Dear President P___and Bishop D_____:

Since Sunday I have had time to think more about what we discussed together.  In the blog I may have come off irreverent about my attendance at church, so I can understand that it seemed hurtful to the LDS church.  Understand I have a different perspective today than I did years ago when I attended regularly. At times it is difficult for me to see from the eyes of active leadership.

By contacting you, my aim isn’t to defame or hurt the church irrevocably or incidentally.  As managing editor of Mormonthink.com my goal, as it is for most of the board there, is to maintain a site of accurate, useful and objective information.  However, some of what I wrote in my blog may have treated the church unfairly.  For this reason I have decided to do the following in the interest of compromise and forestalling your disciplinary council:

1) I have removed the blog.   I do not plan to continue writing about my attendance or representing what happens at the Hunters Creek Ward in public.

2) I have removed direct quotes and other information about the temple ceremonies at Mormonthink.com.

3) I am asking that you reconsider the disciplinary council, at least temporarily, as a matter of courtesy.  Given that the first time we ever met was when you called me in to discuss disciplinary action, it seems premature and abrupt on my part.  It is also my understanding that it is typical LDS policy to work with individuals before submitting them to a court. For example, the recent letters (http://stevebloor.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/wpid-cr1.png ) church area authorities urge local leaders “to work patiently and lovingly with these members in a way that is most likely to address their concerns…”

4) I would like to have discussions with you as local church leaders about what at Mormonthink is untruthful and try to work with you to create a website that can present accurate, open, honest and noteworthy information that can aid member and non-member alike in exercising free will about what they believe.

I hope that these kind of actions and compromises will allow us to maintain civility and move forward to improving the quality of information about LDS history and doctrine.

With kind regards,

David Twede


Monday, September 17, 2012

All is not well in Zion

It was a dark and restless night.

Yesterday I attended church again.  After sacrament meeting, the executive secretary (stake, I believe) found me in the chapel overflow, called me by name and told me the stake president would like to meet me.

I followed him to the stake offices and there waited until the stake presidency and my bishop filed in, sitting in mostly an arc before me (bishop to my left).  They chatted about who I am and my membership history and then confronted me about my writings--the (formerly) prozac-ville blog and my editorial role at MormonThink.com.  

Before I admitted to writing any of it, I asked them how they had gotten my name and learned that I was writing any kind of blog. They would only say that they were perhaps "inspired" to know my identity.  Then they told me they were scheduling a disciplinary council for my role as managing editor at Mormonthink.com, and particularly over my recent articles and writings, while attending the Hunters Creek Ward in Orlando, Florida.


My writings, of recent last week, (from  September 11 -15) which were posted to this blog and MormonThink include "The God of Mitt Romney" and one on the political history of the LDS church, as it relates to Mitt Romney’s campaign. 


They gave me a letter stating a disciplinary council for "apostasy" is scheduled on September 30 at 7:30am.  During our chat, the leaders persistently asked me about other contributors, why we kept secret our identities and implied that that I am an anti-christ.  This was the first time I had ever met each of these leaders, and none of them knew me before by name or face, from what I know.  


They denied that they are on—in their words—“a witch hunt” but they continued asking me to answer questions such as, “If people are truly interested in truth, as you say they are, then why would they hide their name or who they are?”  


Many of us have seen the harm openly raising doubts can cause with family, friends and community in the Mormon culture. Most of my family is true-believing Mormon, and they will be hurt by my probable excommunication for apostasy. 


I hope to find a way to work it out, perhaps by vacating the blog (which I did this same day, and found the blog name taken by others who posted a critique of Mormonthink) and removing the temple material from Mormonthink.com.


In the "interview" I specifically asked if there was anything I could do to forestall the disciplinary council.  They told me there was nothing I could do. It was going to happen.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Hammer of Laban

I know I don't have a large audience, but that doesn't matter. I'm chronicling the events here for my own sake.  Thus, I hate to disappoint my small audience in not posting a long tale about today's church events.  Needless to say, they are hardly bland or boring. I just can't get into details at this time.

Hence, this Sunday's blog is delayed indefinitely due to me being confronted directly by leadership at church today.  They are reading my blog.  They know who I am--were, apparently, "inspired" somehow to learn my name.  I don't want to jeopardize my MT position or others at MT by discussing any other details.  We are being watched. I got a letter from them with my name and numbering my days, unless I stop writing for MT and blogging.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Mysteries of the Gospel


Many of you have been to FAIR-LDS, which attempts to explain many of the “mysteries” of the gospel.  No, not the mysteries like who’s God’s daddy, did the Liahona stop working because Nephi was on AT&T’s network, or was the method used by Shiz struggling for breath without a head the same as how the Jaredites breathed while in the dish-tight subs. 

What I mean are the mysteries of why did Joseph Smith have so many “first visions”, why he married so many already-married women and did God change Lamanite DNA to keep us in faithful suspense.

FAIR is actually a great resource because not only do they utterly fail to provide adequate answers to these mysteries, they also validate that they are in fact mysteries that justly trouble many LDS.  I remember many years ago when, as a TBM, I was researching the Book of Abraham and came across an “anti-mormon” website detailing how Joseph Smith completely failed, when they compared his translation to those of Egyptologists who’d studied the re-discovered papyri.  When I first saw this, I thought:  No, there are no papyri—they were lost in the Chicago fire!  But I had to find out if someone had defended against this “bullcrap”.  I searched and found that FAIR, a BYU related website, confirmed that in fact it was true. They had the papyri.  FAIR argued that we probably don’t have all of the scrolls.  But we do have the papyri with the facsimiles, even the one upon which Smith & colleagues had drawn a man’s head on Anubus.  FAIR admitted that the translation of these and the characters all around them did not match Smith’s Abraham in the least. This admission extremely distressed me for a day or two.  

Most of you already know this, and it is discussed very well at many sites, so you may wonder why I’m bringing it up.  Why? Because of Pat.

I decided to send Pat two links:  The first link to Mormon Info Graphics on the Book of Abraham, and a second one to FAIR’s explanation of one of the facsimiles.  That way Pat would see the fully-exposed (Elohim’s "godhood" included) version and the “legitimate version” at FAIR. I sent it on Wednesday night, and heard back from Pat on Saturday morning.  The response surprised me a little.

        PAT: I have never seen this.  I’ve been in dismay for the past couple of days.  Based on your reaction at church I thought I might be able to help ease your doubts.  Now I don’t know.

We’ve exchanged phone numbers and we’re talking about many other issues.  Pat shared some of these with the spouse and now they might both be having serious doubts.  I will have to be careful on Sunday not to give them or myself away.

There is also a possibility that the woman I talked with at the end of the meeting might be open to discussing some issues. How fast should I go with her? I can't recall the rules with LDS women...



Addendum:

One of the interesting conversations with Pat went like this:

 PAT: Did you see the graphic on facsimile 2, where Joseph Smith translated part 7 as God sitting on his throne, but the Egyptologists translated it as one of the gods with an erection?

 ME:  Yes, and I've wondered if the drawings proportions are to scale, because if we're made in Elohim's image, then that dude is a hung brother!  
(You can see the erection is almost as long as his thigh.)


The god "Min", an ithyphallic god; that is, a sexually aroused male deity.

  PAT: Haha.  What is he doing with an erection?  
(Note this is one of the big gospel mysteries FAIR has yet to answer.)

  ME:  Maybe going number 3?

  PAT: number...do I dare ask?

   Me: Going number 3 is (mimic a closed-fist fast up/down motion with my hand) a very personal thing some guys do when they don't have to worry about bishop interviews.

  PAT:  uh, okay, changing the subject...

The Great and Spacious Building

Or The Great and Specious Building...

Late on Wed/early Thursday I wrote and posted a treatise on the Political history of the LDS church and how it might affect Mitt Romney if he were elected.  The biggest concern with Romney has been that he's hiding his taxes and claiming that it is his right to keep "sacred" (or secret) his donations to God. Mitt has used his church as an example of why he doesn't need to disclose his taxes: “Our church doesn’t publish how much people have given...  we had never intended our contributions to be known.”  

There's something rotten in dumb-mark.  The LDS hides its money for good reason.  Let's take a look at the scant record they have offered.  First, start with LDS stats from one of their many websites:

http://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/english/pdf/welfare/2011-welfare-services-fact-sheet.pdf


This kind of document is the only official source on the value the church gives to helping the poor. They do not disclose their financial worth, expenses, income or any other indication of financial responsibility in the US.

The LDS church since 1985 has given a combined $1.4 Billion in cash and service value to the poor as humanitarian assistance. (this breaks down to about $400M in cash and about $1B in non-cash service & in-kind donations. In any event, $1.4 over 26 years is about $50 million a year in value.) That comes out to be, on average, about $3.5 per year per current member. That’s extremely low.

Ask a Mormon bishop, is this all the church gives?  For more than five years I worked with bishops as financial clerk in a congregation. I know what the income was and what we spent helping the poor.  The income to help ratio was about 15:1.  The bulk of the income was sent to HQ coffers in Salt Lake City by wire transfer.

The public should know that a few months ago, it was reported that Elder Holland, top LDS official, had this to say:


Holland: There is no money in our church except what the members offer.


That’s the source of the $3.5 per member per year donation? The rest goes to building campuses and other buildings. I found this one, that the church is building:

http://www.downtownrising.com/index.php/project-scope-a-timeline
and
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705366487/City-Creek-condos-go-on-sale-Monday.html
and
http://www.deseretnews.com/article/705341784/Salt-Lake-City-high-rise-is-ready-for-occupancy-on-Main.html

The $2-3 Billion mall is owned by City Creek Reserve, Inc (one of dozens of companies held by the LDS Church) according to their own website (http://www.downtownrising.com/ ) Selling penthouse apartments for $1.5M and stores that will sell liquor, which even wealthy Mormons aren't supposed to drink.

So if Holland says all the money comes from the members, and the church spends about $50M a yr on Humanitarian aid, and it spends $3 billion on a mall in a few years (2008-2012), where are its priorities?

Certainly not with the poor. What kind of steward would I be to give money to building a mall instead of helping the poor?  How many millions has Romney given?  He won't say.  It's sacred and because it's on the IRS forms, he can't show you them. I wonder if the IRS has an NDA with the LDS church.

More research shows the church owns (or has owned):
  •  AgReserves Inc. - the largest producer of nuts in America (circa. 1997)
  •  Hawaii Reserves, Inc. - Miscellaneous church holdings in Hawaii. Along with the Polynesian Cultural Center (the leading paid visitor attraction in Hawaii) and Brigham Young University-Hawaii, Hawaii Reserves generated revenue of $260 million for the Hawaii economy in 2005.
  •  Farmland Reserve Inc. - 228,000 acres (923 km²) in Nebraska; 51,600 acres in Osage County, Oklahoma[28]; and over 312,000 acres (1,260 km²) in Florida (dba Deseret Cattle and Citrus).
  •  Bonneville International Corporation - the 14th largest radio chain in the U.S.
  •  Deseret Morning News - a daily Utah newspaper, second-largest in the state of Utah.
  •  Beneficial Financial Group - An insurance and financial services company with assets of $3.1 billion.

And MANY more -- This is all outlined well in the Bloomberg article on the Mormon Finances

Still, the land alone is estimated worth $20 Billion. The profit-companies are estimated worth another $15 Billion. The Church owned land, campuses and temples are worth billions. When all is said and done, conservative estimates put the combined wealth of the church and its affiliated corporations at around $60 Billion

This is not hard to believe. Tithing collected from $14,000,000 members, where say 2 million are temple going, full tithed, active US workers, puts the estimate at ($50,000/yr avg US salary X 10% X 2M members = ) $10 Billion per year in tithing collection.

Over 25 years, that would easily make up $60 Billion, if not considerably more. Out of that, in 25 years, they gave $1.3 billion to the poor. That’s barely 2% of their interest to the poor. Isn't helping the poor one of the main missions of a charity & church?

How do normal, non-religious consumer-oriented corporations do in their giving?

Taking a look at these:
http://philanthropy.com/article/Interactive-Tracking-Big/128359/
http://philanthropy.com/article/Chart-Companies-That-in-2010/128358/

We can see that for-profit corporations give more than the LDS church.  If you look at the net profit before taxes, some companies that earn 1/20th what the LDS church gets in tithing each year, and they pay MORE in donations that does the LDS church, which is supposed to be a charity in the first place.

I would do better to buy groceries at Target, Safeway or Smiths, donate the groceries to poor families in Provo and feel safe that more than 2% of the profits they earn from me are also going to the poor.

Until the LDS church provides me with more transparency on their financial operations, donations and expenditures, I don’t feel comfortable giving to them.

Why would I ever trust the owner of the City Creek Mall to wisely use my tithing donations?


Members hear a constant mantra of  "pray, pay, obey and don't be gay".  In contrast, one of the most telling world-wide stats, if true, is the "every 3.6 seconds someone dies of hunger".
http://library.thinkquest.org/C002291/high/present/stats.htm

see
http://www.wfp.org/hunger/stats/

Also,
http://documents.wfp.org/stellent/groups/public/documents/communications/wfp220221.pdf

Which says, "...$3.2 billion is needed per year to
reach all 66 million hungry school-age children. Of this,
US$1.2 billion would allow WFP to reach 23 million
children in Africa."

I ask you, what would it take for every American to give up in order to feed these 66 million kids?  Just one pizza per year and the 66 million hungry kids could have food. How the Catholics could sell a few artifacts each year out of the thousands they have and almost perpetually feed these kids. Or the Mormons could donate 30% of their tithing/offerings income and feed all the hungry kids currently in the world.

Think about these numbers as you park your  car subterraneously to the Mormon Mall compound. Upon arriving at the north ground entrance of city creek mall, the first thing July tank-top goers notice--besides the dress code they're violating--is the blast of cold air flowing through the large open doorways leading into the mall.  One girl was overheard commenting on how wasteful and hurtful to the environment this is.

If you tour the storefronts you'll note that the opulence is staggering by most standards. That the kinds of stores they have there are meant for the 1% types. For example, in the one end, they had an cul-de-sac of Rolex, Tiffany, Porsche Design, Nordstrom, etc. I bet my daughter that the cheapest watch in the Rolex store was $5000. We went in and asked, and sure enough a woman's watch was the lowest at $4800. She began to crack at that point.

It was an eye opening experience for a tween girl to realize the Lord's mall is selling watches that can feed ten-thousand kids for many many days.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

White Horse ... or Night Mare?




Romney still holds the office of High Priest in the LDS church.  Could the LDS church attempt to influence him?

In an article at MormonThink, I wrote how the the history of LDS politics predicts what it may try to do if Romney becomes President Mitt.


As much as many Mormons may want Romney to be the White Horse, there is a missing nail in his shoe that could throw the whole race.  Mitt Romney refuses to disclose financial information buried in his tax returns... Mitt has said, “Our church doesn’t publish how much people have given... One of the downsides of releasing one’s financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known.”  This underscores a pattern of secrecy that he likely learned as a member of the LDS church.  Not only does it keep the wording, mimed actions and penalties for revealing its temple ceremonies secret, it has also refused to disclose its financial information—charitable and corporate—since before the 1960s.  Why would exalted prophets refuse to disclose business profits? Perhaps it’s because the LDS church recently invested well over two billion dollars (exact amount still secret) into a high-scale mall at the Salt Lake City Creek Center—a mall that includes Tiffany & Co., Porsche Design, Tuma, Pandora, Rolex and more to cater to the wealthy of Utah.  Hiding financials is a lesson Mitt may have learned early in life as a young Mormon.

The article covers:
  • Joseph Smith running for President of the United States
  • Church leader approval required for holding political office
  • Members pressured by church authorities to join political parties
  • Excommunication of members opposing the Nazi Party
  • LDS record on civil rights and race issues
  • Campainging by LDS church against the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
  • LDS involvement in California’s Proposition 8
  • Members excommunicated for political and/or contrary speech
  • Mitt and the White Horse Prophecy
  • LDS official statement on politics