Friday, February 21, 2014

Oh Buggers!

At question is whether a religious corporation should receive a pass (exemption) on speaking truth.

Media and LDS apologists at FAIRMormon have used catch phrases to describe the Mormon Fraud Case in the UK as an attack on religious belief.  In a blog, FAIR contributor and “US Civil Defense Lawyer”  aptly named Steve Densely Jr. opined that: "English law does not allow courts to adjudicate on issues of religious belief."

However, I believe the House of Lords (UK Supreme Court) would quite disagree with the media and FAIR that this a case about religious worship.  And they do adjudicate on these issues.  Have done so very nicely in fact.  There’s a strong precedent in a case brought to the House of Lords by the tax agent (Valuator) against the LDS Corporation.  The LDS Corporation argued unsuccessfully that its UK temple property should not be taxed.  See Judgments - Gallagher (Valuation Officer) V Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for the actual decision, quoted below. (hat tip to Christopher Ralph for finding and providing this link.)

In the decision that was on appeal (dismissed in 2008), the primary counsel for the LDS Corporation (Sumption QC) attempted to define for the Lords that the LDS temple is a public place of worship.  The Lords went through each of the candidate definitions of various structures owned by the LDS Corporation to categorize and define  the temple.  They ruled it is not as a charity (“it would be unwise to regard charity law as a paradigm of rationality” para. 7, 9), not a training center (para. 19-20), not administrative offices (para. 10, 19), not intended to support maintenance of the grounds and buildings (para. 21), not a hotel of “accommodations” to patrons (para. 21), and not a workshop, a daycare facility or cafeteria (para. 1).

So how did the Lords decide to define the temple?

Paragraph 5 is key:

“…the Temple is not a place of “public religious worship” because it is not open to the public. It is not even open to all Mormons. The right of entry is reserved to members who have acquired a “recommend” from the bishop after demonstrating belief in Mormon doctrine, an appropriate way of life and payment of the required contribution to church funds. Such members are called Patrons and the rituals which take place in the Temple are exclusive to them. These facts are agreed.” (emphasis added)

These facts are agreed:  not a place of public religious worship. Exclusive “patrons” -- not every Mormon (and certainly not the general public) -- must adhere to strict criteria to enter the temple, including demonstrating belief in Mormon doctrine and paying the required contribution.

The language in this House of Lords decision is a precedent.  The LDS Corp lost its appeal to define the temple as a place of public religious worship.  The Lords define it as a place of ritual exclusive to paying patrons. 

Lord Hope of Craighead tells the LDS counsel: “Temple is not entitled to exemption (para. 36) and that “I cannot accept Mr Sumption’s primary argument that the Temple is a place of public religious worship.” And this based on an earlier precedent (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints v Henning (VO) [1964] AC 420) in which “Parliament has been content that the words “a place of public religious worship” should continue to receive the interpretation that the House gave to them in Henning.”  (para. 26)

Oh snap!

Sorry LDS Corp, your temple is not entirely exempt.  All the Lords agreed to dismiss, most of them using similar language.  It's not a charity either.  And worse, the House of Lords has ruled that payment AND demonstration of belief in certain beliefs are the basis for exclusive entry into this non-exempt, non-religious, ritual performing, patron house.    Not just the basis, but “required” was the word.

Once again, as I wrote in "Obey, Pay and don't look at Internet-Hearsay" and as Lord Hoffman elucidates a "recommend" giving "right of entry" makes the temple worthiness interview is a key part of how this fraud case comes together.  Exclusivity is dependent on accepting beliefs that Phillips argues have been falsely represented and payment is secured before you can go in.  The word “required” is used in Lord Hoffman’s decisive precedent.  Tithing is “required”.  

Mormons have argued that it is not a requirement to believe and tithing is not forced.  But the House of Lords seemed to disagree with the Mormons.

Oh double snap!

Oh buggers!

Sorry, FAIR.  Sorry, Monson. 

Bloody Brilliant, my Lords.  Praise the House of Lords!

Kay Burningham, an American lawyer, and author of "An American Fraud: One Lawyer's Case against Mormonism"  told me: 

"The UK has no real equivalent to the US First Amendment with regard to religious freedom. The freedom of religion clause has historically been used as a defense by religious organizations whenever fraud charges (whether criminal or civil) have been filed against them in the US. Not a barrier in the UK, though. Some have even characterized the UK as 'hostile' to religions. More accurate to say it does not give organized religions preferential status over other, secular, non-profits."

Also noteworthy is paragraph 13 of the House of Lords decision:

"In order to constitute discrimination on grounds of religion, however, the alleged discrimination must fall “within the ambit” of a right protected by article 9, in this case, the right to manifest one’s religion. In the present case, the liability of the Temple to a non-domestic rate (reduced by 80% on account of the charitable nature of its use) would not prevent the Mormons from manifesting their religion. But I would not regard that as conclusive. If the legislation imposed rates only upon Mormons, I would regard that as being within the ambit of article 9 even if the Mormons could easily afford to pay them. But the present case is not one in which the Mormons are taxed on account of their religion. It is only that their religion prevents them from providing the public benefit necessary to secure a tax advantage. That seems to me an altogether different matter."
Pay attention to the words "alleged discrimination" and the Lord's opinion that taxing (and thereby exercising government control over) the Mormons for their teachings and practices in the temple is not discrimination because they still have the right to manifest their beliefs.  

Even if the fraud case prevails in showing they use false representations, that will still allow them to preach their sermons from the Book of Mormon.  They can believe it.  They might not be able to tie a testimony in provably false information to requiring tithing and the temple, however.  That is reserved for Patrons of exclusive right, and as such, seems to fall into government scrutiny by this case.

It makes sense.  If you get involved in a diet plan, in an investment or any other system that claims to bring you some benefit through membership and strict adherence to its system, you expect that the information used to build that system is as truthful as can be.  If the company taking your money provides you with false representations and lures you into their diet or investment system with false information, it needs to be exposed and shut down.

Why should a religious corporation receive an exemption from speaking truth?  The House of Lords didn't see a case for tax exemption in the case referenced.  They won't see a truth exemption either.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Obey, Pay, & don't look at Internet-Hearsay

The temple is the invisible bindings on Mormons.  To them, it's the opposite.  They are taught from the earliest ages through primary posters of temples to look to those buildings for salvation.  Young women see it for a castle where they marry a prince.  Young men see it as entering the elite guard and knighthood where they will be given privy, key information regarding their rise in callings and status of the church culture.

(75¢ primary poster you can purchase to teach 
Jr. Primary kids how important the temple is to eternal salvation)

The temple is the keystone to the LDS Corporation earnings.  If the LDS Corporation can convince members of its essential nature in the highest of the highest treasures and mansions of eternal life in the upmost heaven, then they secure huge profits.  Because to get there, you must obey, pay and not look at internet-hearsay.  

The threshold to the temple is the temple recommend worthiness interview.  Looking at the worthiness test questions one must pass is enlightening in perspective of the Mormon Fraud Case Summons, put out by Tom Phillips.

To wit, here are the questions members must answer correctly to get into the homey of holies.

1.       Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost?

What the church teaches:  The firsthand source about God comes from Joseph Smith and especially his 1820 first vision—which the missionaries teach, Sunday school manuals expound and seminaries instruct to teens—that Joseph Smith saw God the Father with Jesus Christ on his right side as separate personages.  D&C 130 is the most explicit in teaching the Father, Son and Holy Ghost as separate beings and was given in 1843, almost a quarter century after the first vision.

What the church has hidden:  There were multiple versions of the first visions, some of which only explain that an angel visited Joseph, not God.  Joseph Smith taught monotheism—especially in the Book of Mormon and Book of Moses, and that God is spirit in one place, then later that he is flesh and bone in another.  The teaching of the trinity—of separate personages in the Godhead—did not appear as a belief that Joseph Smith taught until at least 1832 (D&C 76) or perhaps as late as 1835—more than a decade after the first vision.  Why is this an issue?  Because it undermines the first vision as an actual event.  The multiple accounts vary greatly, as to how Joseph Smith defined God, and he founded the church on a very different premise of God, versus (later) a Godhead of three. 

If a Christian convert understood that Joseph Smith could not get his first vision correct, and that the definition of God evolved after the boy-prophet supposedly saw different personages, they might rethink whether Mormonism’s start was based on falsehoods. In the words of Gordon B. Hinckley, “If the First Vision did not occur, then we are involved in a great sham. It is just that simple.” (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 227.)

The LDS Corporation knows these problems exist, but they have not traditionally taught them to investigators or included the details of various first vision/Godhead inconsistencies in their gospel instruction manuals.  This might be willful deceit to promote black-n-white thinking and ignore flaws in their founding prophet’s sermons.


    2. Do you have a testimony of the Atonement of Christ and of His role as Savior and Redeemer?

What the church teaches:  The LDS Articles of Faith say that “We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”  
LDS scriptures teach “if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end” (2 Nephi 2:22).  
If Adam and Eve had never fallen into mortality, then “they would have had no children” (v. 23) and no one but Adam and Eve would have existed.  
Furthermore because they fell, “the Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall” (v. 26).  
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor 15:22).

The LDS scriptures also teach:  The Book of Mormon clarifies the tie between the atonement and the fall of Adam—that there were no other humans before Adam and Eve.  They say: Eve “was the mother of all living” (Moses 4:26) and Adam is “the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also” (Moses 3:4) and “the Ancient of Days and father of all” (D&C 138:38) who together “brought forth children; yea, even the family of all the earth” (2 Ne 2:20) and of “every soul who belongs to the whole human family of Adam;” (Mormon 3:20).  Finally, that the age of the “earth during the seven thousand years of its continuance, or its temporal existence” since Adam fell (D&C 77:6).

What the church has hidden from members and investigators:  The evidence of evolution is overwhelming against the concept of a literal Adam and Eve, and by implication, undermines the atonement they place so prominently in the order of their worthiness test.  Science shows clearly that humans arrived in America arrived before Adam and Eve were on the earth.   And yet, the LDS doctrine teaches clearly that Adam and Eve are the parents of all living people, only living for less than seven thousand years.  If as in all people arose from Adam and Eve and in them all people die, and because of sin and death, Christ atoned and resurrected to save mankind—then if Adam and Eve are fictional (according to science they tend to ignore or dismiss) then the atonement is at least undermined and at most even unneeded. 

Since the evidence that Adam and Eve are figurative is overwhelming, then the atonement may be unnecessary since whatever sin and impurity was introduced by God through evolution can just be dismissed with a change by God in evolution.  This is not dependent on so-called free agency and eliminates the mysterious sacrifice to atone for God's oops in evolution.  That, however, is not what the LDS Corporation teaches.  They hide this by proclaiming against scientific evidence that Adam and Eve are the parents of all humans, and thus, a plan of redemption came because of the fall (which never actually happened). Without the atonement, repentence and absolute law which they can use to judge us all as sinners, they don't have an offering to free you from the sin they say you freely choose to commit. 

The LDS Corporation can’t afford to truly clarify their stance on evolution because it would pull aside the curtain and reveal the man behind the premise of their case to keep you tied to them for salvation.

3. Do you have a testimony of the restoration of the gospel in these the latter days?

What the church teaches:  The main argument for the restoration is the coming forth of the Book of Mormon.  That the Book of Mormon is an ancient record about Hebrews arriving by boats, filling certain lands, warring with each other, having God destroy over a dozen major cities when Jesus was crucified across the world, and about a Utopian Christian society rising up from that destruction to fill the land with innumerable people in 200 years – all in ancient America.  This book is the basis of the biggest difference between Christians and Mormons.  The Book of Mormon is the main tool used by missionaries to convert new Mormons, by asking them to pray and believe the book is true, and if true, thus the entire LDS Corporation is also true by implication because its founding differences are based on the book that Joseph Smith copyrighted and called “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion.” (BoM intro)

What the church has hidden:  The bizarre claims of the Book of Mormon--the wars, dozens of cities destroyed in days, rise of vast centuries-peaceful Christian nations--can be disputed by DNA evidence, by archaeological, linguistic, anthropological and more scientific evidence.  The LDS Corporation weakly acknowledges they know about the contrary evidence, but have not taught this to members or investigators.  They have misled about the source of the Book of Mormon.  If the Book of Mormon is not all that Joseph Smith claimed it to be, as the keystone and most correct book, and it appears significantly flawed compared with many areas of science, then it undermines the credibility of Joseph Smith as founder, and the religion he founded.   Traditionally, they do not teach details about archaeology, DNA science, linguistics or other scholarly work unsupportive of the Book of Mormon to investigators or in their gospel studies classes.  Rather, they affirm over and over that “secular evidence can neither prove nor disprove the authenticity of the Book of Mormon”and that “the primary purpose of the Book of Mormon is more spiritual than historical.”  They prefer all investigators and members pray about it and feel in their heart it is true, against all the secular evidence that it is false.

The LDS Corporation can’t afford its members to view the Book of Mormon historical claims against overwhelming evidence in archaeology, anthropology, DNA science and other academic work that shatters the Book of Mormon assertions, because it would crumble their restoration foundation. 

Additionally, the summons raises two other issues (from so many to pick) that undermine the restoration.  The credibility of Joseph Smith is called into question regarding his role in the destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor—the LDS Corporation claims that it was destroyed because it printed "lies" about Smith.  And likewise, the LDS Corporation raises the character of Smith to "martyr" but fails to teach that Smith engaged his jailors in a gun battle, not dying as an innocent in the way they portrait in their D&C or other historical documents.

4. Do you sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as the Prophet, Seer, and Revelator and as the only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys? Do you sustain members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators? Do you sustain the other General Authorities and local authorities of the Church?

What the church teaches:  The priesthood keys held by the current only authorized president, seer and revelator came directly through Joseph Smith, who claimed to have received them through a restoration by angelic visitation of Jesus’ apostles Peter, James and John.  In order to accept the current prophet as the only person with the priesthood keys, as a seer and revelator, it is assumed that you accept that Joseph Smith was also a seer and revelator, and the tradition carried forward in a line of succession.  

What the church has hidden:  Two ways in which that claim can be falsified: 1) a broken line of succession, 2) Joseph Smith never had the authority in the first place.  The latter, Smith as a seer and revelator, can be tested many ways.  One primary way it has been tested is Joseph Smith's claim that he could translate ancient languages and revealed foundational scriptures based on his revelatory and seer talents.  However, the test for this ability shows a grand failure in the Book of Abraham.  The summons claims that:
 “All experts in Egyptology agree the ‘Book of Abraham’ is not a translation of the papyri the Church has in its possession. There are no references to Abraham and Joseph and the interpretations of the facsimiles reproduced in the book are not true. The papyri are, in fact, common funerary texts found on countless Egyptian ‘mummies’. The Church leaders have been informed of these facts, yet still state it is a translation. Rather than admit their founder (Joseph Smith) lied about this matter, they deliberately and dishonestly repeat the falsehood in order to deceive their Church members and potential converts.”

The LDS Corporation has been marginalizing the Book of Abraham for many decades and it may go slowly down the memory hole as less and less of its instruction refer to the book over time.  They prefer the members to just forget about it, and that investigators learn about it well after their baptism.

However, if Joseph Smith provably failed to translate regular Egyptian, then why would we trust he could translate "reformed Egyptian" of the Book of Mormon?  It's ultimately impossible based on actual evidence.

Likewise, the charges in the summons about the credibility of Joseph Smith as a martyr and his culpability in the ill-posed destruction of the Nauvoo Expositor are relevant to this worthiness question.

5. Do you live the law of chastity?

The LDS church teaches:  Chastity is directly tied to sex only within marriage.  They excommunicate members who routinely engage in sex outside of marriage. 

What the LDS Church has hidden:  The morality of their founder, Joseph Smith, who “married” multiple wives, including girls as young as 15 and wedded women who were already married and continued to stay married to other men (adultery by most Christian standards).  The founding prophet of the Mormon Church failed to live the standard of chastity required by those attending the temple in his day and in modern times.  In today’s world, Joseph Smith would be just like many players, with a pretty bizarre pick up line (“Hey, Baby, wanna see my angel’s flaming sword?”). 

Despite not directly discussing the details of Joseph Smith’s secret married philandering, the LDS Church expects that all of its young men are quite like Joseph, and unable to show restrain at the slightest temptation.  This is why in the March 2014 edition of the Ensign, in the article “The Lord's Standard of Morality” they have this quote by general authority Tad Callister:
"The dress of a woman has a powerful impact upon the minds and passions of men. If it is too low or too high or too tight, it may prompt improper thoughts, even in the mind of a young man who is striving to be pure. Men and women can look sharp and be fashionable, yet they can also be modest. Women particularly can dress modestly and in the process contribute to their own self-respect and to the moral purity of men. In the end, most women get the type of man they dress for."
Women, dress for the kind of man you want, says Callister.  By that reasoning, I’m surprised more women don’t wear Ben Franklin pasties.  After all, young men, even pure ones, cannot control themselves.  Something tells me this justification will extend to Joseph Smith’s inhibitions.  Apparently, the plural wives made Joseph do it.

6. Is there anything in your conduct relating to members of your family that is not in harmony with the teachings of the Church?

The summons does not address this one.  But, the LDS Church routinely has hidden abuse cases that come to a bishop, resulting in legal problems.  Please review this and this and this for more information.

It is interesting that family relations are of great importance regarding worthiness and, in a underhanded way, used as a crux to keep people worthy and paying tithing.  The summons says abou this that members “cannot attend the [temple] wedding ceremony unless they too are members of the Church and, among other conditions, pay a full tithe. If they have been amiss is paying, but are willing to pay the arrears of the past year, they may be allowed. Therefore, they have to pay to attend their child’s (sibling’s) wedding... Thus, they take away a normal parental right and then charge you money if you want the ‘benefit’ they have taken from you. Nobody would agree to such a regime unless they believed the false representations to be true.”

The LDS Corporation decides if you are not in harmony with teachings regarding your family relations and will hold that relationship hostage if you don’t obey and pay. 

7. Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?

The summons does not address this one directly, but, if you’re reading this blog, you probably might have put your recommend in jeopardy, given what the LDS Church teaches about doubting your doubts, or rather, ignoring your doubts, don't look behind the curtain, even to pretend blindness about that curtain.  President Monson, named in the summons, has taught LDS youth:
"Should doubt knock at your doorway, just say to those skeptical, disturbing, rebellious thoughts: ‘I propose to stay with my faith, with the faith of my people. I know that happiness and contentment are there, and I forbid you, agnostic, doubting thoughts, to destroy the house of my faith. I acknowledge that I do not understand the processes of creation, but I accept the fact of it. I grant that I cannot explain the miracles of the Bible, and I do not attempt to do so, but I accept God’s word. I wasn’t with Joseph, but I believe him. My faith did not come to me through science, and I will not permit so-called science to destroy it.’ "

He prefers you not look to science for any answers unless they agree with the LDS Corporation, because faith in falsehoods are more important to him.

Other LDS authorities (apostles) have taught fear of outside information, such as on the internet:

"Some have immersed themselves in internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and in some cases, invent shortcomings of early church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed." (Elder Quentin Cook, 6 Oct 2012)

"There have always been a few who want to discredit the church and destroy faith. Today they use the internet. Some of the information about the church, no matter how convincing, is just not true." (Apostle Neil Anderson, 2012)

"Those who were once with us but have retreated, preferring to pick and choose a few culture hors d'oeuvres from the smorgasbord of the restoration and leave the rest of the feast." (Apostle Jeffrey Holland, 2012)

And most recently, in its manual for paid ministers(seminary teachers):
“Much unreliable information pertaining to plural marriage exists on the Internet and in many print sources. Be cautious and wise with such information. Some authors who write about the Church and its history present information out of context or include partial truths that can be misleading. The intent of some of these writings is to destroy faith.” (p. 479 "Seminary Teacher Manual on Doctrine and Covenants and Church History", 2014.)

When members are commanded to avoid looking at unapproved source material, to not honestly examine contrary information, because their authorities have told them to beware of the internet, it appears very cultish to outsiders.  Members should ask themselves:  Do you think your elders have actually read the “unreliable information” themselves?  If so, then they should have very well articulated responses to them if they are so obviously lies/wrong and the brethren can see it.

Where are the well-articulated responses? At the least, Mormons can read their Elder-approved responses without fear of losing the spirit. But no, those responses don't exist. 

You know why?

Because the LDS Corporation is frightened of you even hearing about the issues.  They warn you not to go looking and they refuse to provide you cover with their own teachings.  Don’t look behind the curtain. You'll lose the spirit, and perhaps even your temple recommend.

8. Do you strive to keep the covenants you have made, to attend your sacrament and other meetings, and to keep your life in harmony with the laws and commandments of the gospel?

The summons does not address this one.  It’s clear that obedience is important to the LDS Corporation.  Obey, pay, and don’t look at internet-hearsay, could be a mantra.

9. Are you honest in your dealings with your fellowmen?

The summons does address the general honesty of LDS Corporate officers, such as Monson.  Details to be given during the case.  See this for now.

10. Are you a full-tithe payer?

The LDS Corporation requires a new convert to commit to paying tithing for baptism.  Active members must continue this to go to the temple.  This is the crux if the Mormon Church Fraud Case.  You are required to accept many misleading teachings (shown here) in order to pass a temple worthiness interview to get your saving/exalting ordinances.  And Tithing is tied directly to that salvation along with requiring that you accept the fraudulent teachings.

The initial filing of the summons has the following words:

 “The purpose of these untrue and misleading statements is to facilitate the conversion of individuals to become members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and to pay to said church 10% of their income on a continuing, permanent basis. A second purpose is to mislead those individuals who are already members of the said Church, so that they will continue paying 10% of their income.”

I was asked by a journalist last week how acceptance of LDS doctrine was tied with tithing.  Because, I explained, you wouldn't pay a tenth of your money if you felt the LDS Church didn't have a monopoly on truth. The unique claims of restoration, new scripture and pedestal-high stance on family values are the unique motif attracting people to become Mormons.  But if the restoration and new scriptures were falsified, if the family values are founded in the first prophet's extreme adultery--how many would actually join?  They have to mis-represent all of these weaknesses to keep members in place and attract new converts.  Then, tithing is absolutely required for salvation offered by the "only person on the earth who possesses and is authorized to exercise all priesthood keys".  And that "only person" is Monson, the name on the summons.

11. Do your keep the Word of Wisdom?

The summons may well address this one, as there are claims in the Word of Wisdom that can be challenged by scientific studies.

12. Do you have financial or other obligations to a former spouse or children? If yes, are you current in meeting those obligations?

The summons does not address this one. But rest assured, the LDS Corporation likes to get into your financial affairs, but don't ask them to return the favor.  Financial secrecy is extremely important to them, and as a member, you have no business speaking ill of the Lord's anointed, or questioning how they use your donations.  The sole discretion on how they use your money is up to the LDS Corporation Sole.

13. If you have previously received your temple endowment: Do you keep the covenants that you made in the temple? Do you wear the garment both night and day as instructed in the endowment and in accordance with the covenant you made in the temple?

The summons does not address this one.  It is worth noting that in the summons, it mentions the desire of the church to keep members paying on a permanent basis.  In the temple, they put their members under life-long covenant to give all of their posessions, talents and time to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which is effectively the name of the Corporate Sole).  The covenant in perpetuity will net a lot of time and income by keeping members Obeying, Paying and not Hearsaying.

Oh, and don't be gaying either.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Mid-level Corporate Theocrat Spills The Beans, Gets Fired

(okay, not really fired, but this is all in good fun.  Read on...)

Recall in the blog on Monson's Groomed Sales-Force (Taming of the Shrewd revisited) that at the very end I calculated the cost a family pays for the "blessing" of sending their son or daughter on a mission to provide free sales-labor?

This is about $4800 per year at current expected donation rates. (If I have the current value at $400 per month correct--anyone have better figures?  Let's adjust it for the upfront costs of  $2000 to get ready and other extras as well.)  A typical mission can cost upwards of $12,000 for everything.  For senior couples, that seems to be about $20,000 - $30,000 per year.  For example, at the LDS corporation #1 rated paid theme attraction in Hawaii, the Polynesian Cultural Center:

...they have a whole gang of senior couple missionaries.

On another page, they also state:
"Openings for voluntary (non-paid) service missionaries at the Polynesian Cultural Center...Living expenses per couple are estimated between $2,000-$2,500 per month."

Yep, the church gets free labor from couple missionaries to staff its theme park, the #1 paid attraction in Hawaii (according to them).

Now, this tidbit comes from a mid-level executive (1st counselor) in the Pacific Area Presidency of the LDS Corporation.  Interestingly, it's only available on the Australian country variant of the LDS site.  It's an inadvertent admission printed on the LDS website, which may get taken down when they fire ("release") Elder Pearson from his mid-level position.  Ok, he's not fired. Elder Pearson (former CEO of Ingenix, Inc., a subsidiary of United Health Group) is a member of the 1st quorum of the 70, a position which usually goes until age 70.  He spilled the beans and in light of the Mormon Corporation fraud case, it has new meaning and problems for them.
"a young man who faithfully serves a mission will likely marry in the temple and raise a righteous family. His children, and their children, will also likely grow up to be active faithful members of the Church. In three generations that young returned missionary’s posterity will probably account for over eighteen active adult tithe-paying members."
I'm not sure if Pearson really knows this or is speculating here.  But I bet there's some truth behind it.  Think about that line that in three generations each returned missionary will "account for over eighteen active adult tithe-paying members." 

This doesn't include the converts.  This is purely just a statistic on the RM getting home as  a completely life-long dedicated Mormon, getting sealed, having babies, who have babies.     That assumes each couple has an average of three kids.  I think at current birth rates it might be lower than 18.  I think closer to 2x2x2 = 8.  Whether it's 8 or 18, the point is, the church corporation really does see this as a game of increasing tithe-payers.

What would 8 - 18 full tithe payers pay per year into the system?  Assuming that each couple earns an average income (currently around $50,000 in the US) that would be between $200k - $450k per year.  If only half were active, that's $100k - $225k per year.

Over a lifetime, that's millions of dollars from their initial investment to train the missionary into a shrewd salesperson.

If we extend this hypothetical calculation to the near 80,000 missionaries currently serving (as linked in the former blog), that ends up being income of $16 billion to tithe with only 4 full tithe-paying couples after three generations.  Over each decade for each household, that's a sum of  $16 billion in tithing in futures.  Now, the existing full-tithing membership is at least ten-times the missionary force, so we can expand the base by that order and the result is each year, the total LDS membership is donating $16 billion in tithes.   I wish I could invest in a Mormon stock market and pay for my personal retirement on betting the LDS corporation futures.  They have a great gig going.

In defense against the Mormon corporation fraud case, I have a lot of Mormons that tell me that their church is not a money-minded corporation and the gospel is not about money collection. 

Let me ask: Why do the Mormon leaders collect more dollars per member than just about any other Christian church?  What does this mid-level corporate officer admission really tell you?  Are you sure your gospel isn't about money?

This investment is from the church corporation requiring  the originating missionary to pay his/her own way at $6000 per year.  That's a huge return on investment.

No wonder they lowered the age to 18 on males in early 2013.  They get a lot of return if they can move them out of their parent's home in high-school and into the missionary training center almost immediately.  Not much chance for the teen to go wayward living on his/her own.

Here's the screen capture of that talk, just in case it disappears.

(click on the above to zoom in)

It's no wonder they can afford to buy yet another big business investment, in downtown Philly no less.



Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Running with the Olden Plates

I don’t know how you imagined it, but I see Joseph Smith stumble-running from pursuers, dodging tree stumps and leaping logs through the forest with the golden plates hugged heavily to his chest.  

Right now, I have a similar image of a dogged Monson, Holland and other apostles waddling away from critics, panting sweaty as they lug the Olden Plates on their large bellies.

Some less thoughtful critics say the golden plates weighed upwards of 200 lbs.  Some less thoughtful apologists say they weighed around 50 lbs.  I say they exactly weighed as little as the Olden Plates.  

The Olden Plates are a metaphor that you might also call the albatross around the LDS theocrats’ necks. The LDS church is running from criticism, weighed down by old doctrines, still claimed to have originated on golden plates, papyri and from Joseph Smith’s imagination.  These old plates, scrolls and visions are really really heavy in a world of science and the internet.  The equivalent of the gravitational constant in the world of prophets has probably more than quadrupled in the past decade as old doctrines grow thicker, filled with bullshit.  

As a child, listening to the Living Scriptures dramatized story of Joseph running from the bad anti-mormons, I had this cartoon image of him tearing off sheets of gold leaf from the plates and tossing them at his pursuers, to slow them down as they scurried for a little gold. 

Perhaps that is what LDS theocrats have tried doing with the Topic Essays -- tearing off little parts of their Olden Plates, tossing them into the internet to slow down the critics.  All that running must wear on them.

But exercise is good for the heart, Monsieur Monson. You too, Hounddog Holland. Running over, under, around and from the critics has done a lot of good over the past 180 years.  If it hadn’t been for both believing critique and ex-mormon scholarship, the LDS Church would look a helluva lot different.  

Without the changes wrought by inner and outer critics, Mormons might still be:

  • living in polygamy
  • considered racists
  • living in the united order
  • calling Adam their God
  • making death oaths in their temple
  • wearing ankle and wrist length red garments
  • conscripted into the Mormon Militia
  • sent out as Danites
  • bartering their daughters and wives
  • destroying printing presses
  • living in a theocratic state of “Deseret”
  • baptizing dead holocaust victims
  • living in Nauvoo, or Independence or Kirtland or…

Another thing you wouldn’t have is the new 580-page Seminary Teacher Manual on Doctrine and Covenants and Church History.  I feel like we're watching a couple of leafs of the Olden Plates floating back at us.

In this new Seminary Teacher manual, they raise a few of the issues they want the instructors to gently teach, namely:

  • Multiple first vision versions (p. 20)
  • Age of the earth (p. 280)
  • Joseph Smith’s Polygamy (p. 204, pp. 477-480)
  • Mountain Meadows Massacre (p. 523)
  • Book of Abraham issues (p. 525)
  • Implied post-manifesto polygamy (p. 530)
  • Blacks and Priesthood (p. 545)

    We can commend the LDS church for opening the door on the issue.  The Topic Essays are a great start too.  I believe this is the first in-depth discussion of Joseph Smith’s plural marriages in an official LDS publication.  I could be wrong.  Here are some of the statements about Joseph Smith’s plural marriages.

    “Explain that the Prophet Joseph Smith was reluctant to begin the practice of plural marriage. He stated that he did not begin the practice until he was warned that he would be destroyed if he did not obey... Because of a lack of historical documentation, we do not know about Joseph Smith’s early attempts to comply with the commandment. However, by 1841 the Prophet had begun to obey the commandment and to teach it to some members of the Church, and over the next three years he married additional wives in accordance with the Lord’s commands.” (p. 478)

    “Do not speculate about whether plural marriage is a requirement for the celestial kingdom. We have no knowledge that plural marriage will be a requirement for exaltation.” (p. 478)

    “Much unreliable information pertaining to plural marriage exists on the Internet and in many print sources. Be cautious and wise with such information. Some authors who write about the Church and its history present information out of context or include partial truths that can be misleading. The intent of some of these writings is to destroy faith.” (p. 479).

    On p. 480, they offer a lengthy quote from Helen Mar Kimball speaking about her mother Vilate’s trials with polygamy, but not a thing about Helen marrying Joseph Smith at 15.

    At least they admit that “by 1841 the Prophet had begun to obey the commandment and to teach it to some members of the Church, and over the next three years he married additional wives…”  It was only a few decades ago that people claiming Joseph Smith married multiple wives were called anti-mormon.

    My cursory look through the almost 600 pages (small print) manual indicates there are no mentions of:

    • Woodruff’s and Snow’s teen brides (Emma Smoot  Smith (15yo), Sarah Minnie (15), Mary Houtz(17)...)
    And much more.

    My final thought is this:  Why is the church introducing these issues into the seminary before they put them into Gospel Doctrine manuals and adult Sunday School curriculum?  

    Could it be an inoculation scheme?  Get 'em while they’re young.  I guess we'll know for sure, if they also update the adult material soon.

    Monday, February 10, 2014

    Monson's Groomed Sales-force: Taming of the Shrewd (revisited)

    Much of this post is a repeat of my "Taming of the Shrewd" 2012 post.  It's very relevant because I have been discussing the grooming of young, unpaid volunteer salespersons to go out and market Mormonism's fraudulent pitch and collect money from new marks. 

    At the 2012 semiannual general conference on Oct 6, LDS corporate CEO Thomas Monson announced that effective immediately, young men may begin their full-time Mormon missionary service following their graduation from high school, even if they are only 18 at the time. And young women, who have not been eligible for full-time missionary service until age 21, may now begin their service at age 19.

    Understand, these are unpaid volunteers whose families pay for them to work (about $500 a month or $6000 a year "donated" to LDSinc) on the behalf of Monson's corporation for two-years, marketing the history and doctrine of his theocorpocracy.

    The result since then, more than a year later, is the self-paying missionary sales force has grown more than a third larger in size.  President Newsroom claims they're at around 80,000 strong.  That's more employees than Apple has to sell its billions-dollar phone and computer industry.  And they're free!  Some critics believe this surge is due to both older and then younger missionaries increasing the numbers for about year or two, but will probably taper off sometime in 2014. 

    Let me explain what I mean by "grooming" the salespersons. To understand what kind of special indoctrination missionaries receive,  let's peek inside the LDS Missionary manual, which is found at this LDS.ORG link (pdf) (or this html version).

    The manual is definitely chock-a-block filled with typical Ra Ra sales force psychology.  Do as your told, follow the recipe we give you, always bcommitting, don’t lose the spirit by not working hard, pray-obey-don’t-be-gay.  The manual is about taming young (at times wild) men.  But beyond the psychological conditioning of the missionaries themselves, the manual is also about training them into shrewd salesmen.  Okay, maybe not shrewd, but skilled in certain techniques.

    There are instructions on how to manipulate others into joining and, of course, paying tithing.  Not just encouragement to teach or help persuade, but technique on emotional manipulation.

    In the section titled, "Helping Others Make Commitments: The Door to Faith and Repentance" is this quote:

    "Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught: “The first thing you will do when an investigator tells you he or she had not read and prayed about the Book of Mormon is be devastated! . . . Much of the time we are just too casual about all of this. This is eternal life. This is the salvation of the children of God. Eternity hangs in the balance. . . . It is the most important path this investigator will ever walk. But if he or she doesn't know that, at least you do! . . . So take control of this situation. Teach with power and authority, and then be devastated if the first steps toward commandment-keeping and covenant-keeping have not been successfully begun” (“Making and Keeping Covenants,” missionary satellite broadcast, Apr. 1997). "

    I want to emphasize: "...and then be devastated if the first steps toward commandment-keeping and covenant-keeping have not been successfully begun."  

    Then in the "Follow Up" section is this quote:

     "Make frequent contact, daily if possible, to find out how people are progressing with their commitments... strengthen the spiritual feelings they felt as you taught them...This sustaining influence of the Spirit is vital...remind and encourage them to keep a commitment. Help investigators identify the blessings they have received as they have kept their commitments. Especially help them describe their feelings as the Spirit has testified of the truthfulness of the message. Compliment and encourage people who are succeeding in keeping commitments...Express concern and disappointment when people fail to keep their commitments and thus fail to experience the blessings. "

    I emphasize: “Especially help them describe their feelings as the Spirit has testified of the truthfulness of the message.”

    They're telling these salespeople to manipulate the feelings by describing what one feels as evidence their product has value.

    Help them describe their feelings as what you were asking them to test for themselves.  
    Part of the message is that their feelings (through the spirit) will tell them truth according to Moroni 10:4-5. But to test if Moroni 10 is correct, they either trust their feelings (through the spirit), or the missionaries telling them that their feelings will tell them the truth. This becomes the feelings telling you that feelings are true. This is circular.  

    Then they are told:  “Express concern and disappointment when people fail to keep their commitments. . .

    Do you see the pattern? 

    - "Good feelings always mean we're right."  

    - "Bad feelings always mean you're wrong." 

    There's no allowance for alternative explanations about the Mormon product.

    This is grooming of teaching salespersons to explain to the marks that whatever positive feeling they have is a witness of what you’re selling.  If they have a negative feeling about what you’re selling, express concern and disappointment and be devastated, and show them that devastation by taking control of the situation in power and authority.

    Do you really believe this organization didn't think about this thoroughly?  This is intentionally teaching kids how to manipulate.  Why would they do that?

    Now, according to the manual, once you get them hooked, committed and baptized, some of the new-members will fall away back into old habits.  Some go back to drinking coffee, alcohol or even taking drugs.  Is that a good time to express disappointment?  Nope, they tell the missionary.

    In the  "A Plan for Overcoming Addictive Behavior" Section  the church actually discourages manipulation.  Missionaries are told they “should not be shocked or discouraged” by the bad behavior.  In fact, missionaries are instructed: 

    They should show confidence in the individual and not be judgmental if the person yields to an old craving. They should treat it as a temporary and understandable setback.”  Because “condemning. . .a new convert is never helpful and will likely lead to discouragement, failure, and inactivity.

    See the pattern? Act devastated if the investigator doesn't do what you say before being baptized. After baptism, don't act devastated, be all understanding! 

    Additionally, missionaries are continually told to seek the spirit, but not to discuss too many specifics.  Just seek it generally, point it out whenever the investigator has a positive experience or feeling.  But don’t share specific spiritual experiences.  In the section "A Word of Caution" missionaries are told:

    “Revelation and spiritual experiences are sacred. They should be kept private and discussed only in appropriate situations. As a missionary, you may be more aware of spiritual experiences than you have been earlier in your life. Resist the temptation to talk freely about these experiences.”

    Why would they want missionaries not to talk freely about these experiences when they all but start out discussion One with Joseph Smith’s first vision of God?  What they’re saying is, if you talk about all the religious craziness that happens in your head, people will be less likely to keep their commitments--we only accept a certain level of crazy; follow the prescribed plan.

    Would an honest organization with a truthful message need to resort to this level of emotional manipulation of the salespersons and teaching manipulation techniques to the salespersons? 

    This is grooming of the shrewd by an organization who has honed the skill over a century of "missionary" work.

    Laie, HI.
    Just across from the Polynesian Cultural Center 
    where the LDS church maintains a theme park, 
    helping young people attend LDS schools and training.


    The masthead graphic states: "Hawaii's #1 Paid Attraction"

    You won't easily find out that it's owned and operated by LDSinc, but you will find it amusing that they send unpaid volunteers to work at Mormon Disney.

    They state:
    "Openings for voluntary (non-paid) service missionaries at the Polynesian Cultural Center...Living expenses per couple are estimated between $2,000-$2,500 per month." )

    Yep, the church gets free labor from couple missionaries to staff its theme park, the #1 paid attraction in Hawaii (according to them).

    One of the many "attractions" at the LDS PCC theme park.

    So what about all this money missionaries pay for the benefit of working pro-bono for their theocorpocracy?

    At $6000.00 (cheapest) per year per missionary, families donating for  80,000 young missionaries, that's about $500 million per year that could make a real difference.  Half a billion a year of free sales-labor could do so much more!  Just $400,000.00 could buy 61 wells.

    Or 4,500 goats and chickens for a family.

    And so many more things could be done.

    Post your favorite wish that could be done with half-billion dollars per year....

    Sunday, February 9, 2014


    LDS Newsroom mogul Michael Purdy no doubt worked overtime this past week.  The Mormon PR machine ran interference in the media and fairly successfully spun the Mormon Church Fraud Case into a protest against persecution of religious freedom.  At least, that's how it appears in the US press.

    In the UK, the view is changing.  What might be called the Mormon Church Fraud Case is emerging across the pond as a theocorpocracy fraud case.  The LDS Church is a actually a multi-national corporation that governs a near theocracy in Utah with a major hold on state and local politics. The majority of its several billion-dollar income comes from tithing its members at 10% of their salaries--a flat tax rate that surpasses the beehive state tax for most members--competing in total collections with state tax revenue. By most perspectives, it is a very wealthy corporate theocracy, or theocorpocracy.
    (phonetically: theo-core-paw-crahcy)

    Using tens of thousands of unpaid, volunteer 18-20 year old salespersons, the LDS Theocorpocracy markets its history and doctrine in deceitful ways in order to accrue material benefit from its members.  Any other corporation that does this commits fraud.  Just because the LDS Church proclaims itself as a religion does not mean its corporate nature is unrestrained from fraudulent behavior.

    The US press has convinced some that there doesn't appear to be any fraud because this is about faith. They're wrong.  This is about defrauding both persons and the UK government.  Steve Bloor and Chris Ralph lay out an important financial aspect of the Mormon Theocorpocracy Fraud case.

    "For every pound paid to the church by LDS members in the UK who, (following leadership counsel), have availed themselves of Deeds of Covenant and Gift Aid, £0.20 has been added by the British Taxpayer to the church’s bank accounts. The sum paid out by HMRC [Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs] in this connection must now amount to tens of millions of pounds. It is understood that in most cases the resulting tax rebates made to individuals, were handed over to the church at its request."

    This "Gift Aid" is a tax relief at the HMRC.  A professor at Northwestern University eloquently summarized this for me in personal correspondence (with a little word change on my part): 

    "In the UK, tithing is considered a charitable gift under the Gift Aid tax relief--so the government kicks in a certain amount (20% of the donation). If the Mormon Church is defrauding people, and accruing UK tax aid dollars on the basis of that fraud, the government should be very interested to investigate."

    The failure of the Mormon Corporation to disclose enables them to defraud not just individuals, but from the UK government and its taxpayers.  This is an extremely serious charge.   The Theocorpocracy Fraud case is not ideological.  It argues for transparency, honesty, and truth from an organization that makes outrageous falsifiable claims about its history in order to gain access to an individual’s funds. The fraud even bilks the UK government for more funds.  

    The HMRC tax page explains the process: " Charities or CASCs take your donation - which is money you've already paid tax on - and reclaim the basic rate tax from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on its 'gross' equivalent - the amount before basic rate tax was deducted. Basic rate tax is 20 per cent, so this means that if you give £10 using Gift Aid, it’s worth £12.50 to the charity."

    In other words, the UK pays the charities (i.e., LDS Church) out of its coffers as a plus up to what someone has already donated.  Now, a member could pay 8% and allow the UK to pay the other 2% of their tithing.  It appears, however, the LDS Church did not explain to most members that they need only pay 8% tithing under the Gift Aid relief.

    British Mormons have chimed in on this.  Some of these are involved in the case, so I won't list names until I can assure it won't breach case rules.  One former Mormon Bishop wrote:  "In my experience most Bishops don't tell the member they can get away with paying less in tithing because the Church claims back the difference.  Many members pay the full 10% & the Church gets the extra [percent]."

    A British member said, "I was never told that I could claim relief on my charitable giving, only that the church can claim that extra percentage on my donation. Isn't that withholding information? ...under Deed of Covenant. I paid 12% on Gross."

    Not only is the LDS Theocorpocracy under investigation for evading payment of taxes on the moneys it paid to UK mission presidents, but it would appear it defrauded its member out of a tax benefit from tithing it received by giving members false information about its own history and about the tax relief laws governing its accounting.

    This is not about persecution against beliefs.  This is about defrauding people and governments.  As more information makes its way out we will see Mike Purdy and President Newsroom (the only prophet that speaks these days in the halls at the church offices) spin and spin as they twist in the fraud winds.

    The LDS Theocorpocracy  is a strange beast.  It seems most world religions do not operate as corporations, at least not to market their belief systems in a fraudulent way.  None that I know of are structured the way this theocorpocracy is. Some of you will recall that in September 2012, I wrote a blog about the LDS Corporate Sole and its articles of incorporation.  I'm going to paraphrase a little from that blog.

    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.

    At the top of this multi-level pyramid is, currently, top-dog sole owner Thomas S. Monson whose corporations is worth an estimated $40-60 billion in assets.

    Most non-profit corporations, such as some churches that incorporate (not all do), maintain their members as stockholders.  Not the LDS Theocorpocracy. 

    The second amendment on the articles of incorporation allows the theocorpocracy to do whatever they wish with the property without any say given its 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?  Members have no power whatsoever.  Membership in the church is almost entirely comprised of being on a list owned by Intellectual Reserved Inc, a business unit under the LDS multi-national coproration sole--the theocorpocracy. As such, latter-day saints are nothing more than a number.  Their name is connect through a membership ID number as a subscriber to meetings and information given out about the church.   

    That's it.  You own no part of the theocorpocracy as a member.  Your baptism and sealing are purely ornaments to your membership number.

    Remember they disclaimed this on the church donation 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.

    Replace "Church" above with "Corporation" or even "Theocorpocracy" and it has new meaning.  Who has the "theocorpocracy's sole discretion"?  Thomas S. Monson, currently the only one named in the fraud case (that could change).

    This strange beast, the theocorpocracy, is pretty unique. Scientology is the only other religion that seems to have something akin to a theocorpocracy, although if I'm not mistaken, it's not a corporate sole.  In France, Oct 2013, the Scientology conviction of preying financially on followers was upheld by the French government.  

    What the LDS Theocorpocracy does is similar.  They will spin it as persecution because they desperately don't want members to know what they've been doing financially in Europe.  They claim to be a beacon of integrity and morals, but they are a corporation hiding behind theology. Their hypocrisy is now showing.  In fact, I think the word should be Theocorpocrisy.  

    Yes, theocorpocrisy, pronounced to rhyme with hypocrisy. 
    (phonetically:  theo-core-paw-crisy)

    The LDS Church is, apparently, really a big lying Theocorpocrisy.