Sunday, February 9, 2014

Theocorpocrisy


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.
  



34 comments:

  1. Bald paranoia. The notion that the Mormon Church controls the US press and how it handles this story is transparently silly. And what a couple of your supporters in England say in the own little blog doesn't in any way represent a shift in how this is being perceived in England, as I suppose you know despite what you claim.

    This is about religion, of course. All the bitterness behind this is religious, merely an extension of what MormonThink is about. That the law being twisted here isn't about religion doesn't change that.

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    1. 1835* - 2014

      RIP Mormonism.

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  2. Kent didn't apparently actually read this blog very well. David wrote that the PR team ran interference, not "controls the US press" like Kent wrote. Trying to put words in his mouth, Kent?

    Also, the gift aid clearly does pay money to the mormons from the british government. look at the words (quoted and linked above). regardless of what you think Kent, if the church falsely represented itself to people and then collected money and got a 20% plus up from the UK government, they will investigate this as possible fraud. But Kent wants to spin it that the mormonthink guys are just digging up a fake story here. hell, david even says his blog is his own opinion in his bio on every page. Kent is trying to change the subject again. The real story, as the press knows, is fraud by the mormon church.

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  3. I just have one little addition to that "Using tens of thousands of 18-20 year old salespersons" analysis.

    I think it ought to disclose as well that those kids doing the sales are not only unpaid, but they and their families "pay" for the privilege of their proselytizing. Church members are encouraged to have these young folks into their homes and feed them regularly, and that's not deductible as tithing, either.

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  4. Kent and others like you,
    I'm glad you are participating and reading this blog. You have a good chance of realizing the sad truth about mormonism. Mormonism simply isn't true.

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    1. Obviously you haven't read the posts you're commenting on.

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    2. Obviously, Kent, you can't stay consistent in your posted arguments and you enjoy getting ridiculed by people more rational than yourself. We'll talk more at your upcoming temple recommend interview.

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    3. Huh? Who knows what you have in mind, if anything. It's all evasion here. People seldom address specific points, but rather wave their hands in broad dismissive gestures, all the while claiming that's what those other people do. Highly ironic.

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  5. Mind reading? Is that what you call reading people's own expressions of their thoughts? The mask has slipped, concolor1. It's plain as day from their own statements what those who run Mormonthink feel about the Church, and that they seek to undermine it and lead people away from it. Are you really in doubt about that? It's also plain from the content of the site itself what its true intent is, since it never was a neutral collection of thoughtful material about Mormonism, not even close. Its focus is almost exclusively on material that tends to put a bad light on the Church, in line with the expressed views and goals of those who run it.

    I have no thought of changing MormonThink, only of making it more plain what it is, and in what ways it isn't the good thing some believe it to be. If you think my anger at the misrepresentations, deceptions and evident bad will in it has blinded me to how it's actually as it should be, then please explain how those are helpful. In the mean time, the results I see expressed here and elsewhere, mainly more bitterness, don't make it look all that constructive or helpful on the whole. It's not as though it offers something better.

    I like the way you say you don't doubt what I say and then present reasons to doubt what I say. Your doubletalk fits well here.

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  6. Logical fallacies--ad hominem, poisoning the well, diversion, appeal to spite, appeal to fear. You bore me, Kent.

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  7. Well, didn't take long for the mask to slip again. My reply to concolor1, which contained nothing in violation of any rule here except being critical of MormonThink, has been deleted, and at the same time a post decrying my supposed fallacies has appeared. So much for the pretense of openness.

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    1. Now it's back. Is this site buggy or what?

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    2. I refreshed the page a few times over several minutes. The post showed when I posted it, then disappeared, and after several minutes appeared again.

      I've read books that take a neutral view of Mormonism. They don't resemble MormonThink in what they emphasize, not even close. That's because they don't have the same goal of drawing people away from the Church. Really, it's surprising how much in denial fans of this site remain even after the true views and goals of those who built MormonThink are out in the open.

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  8. Well, Kent. Surely if Mormonthink is really there for the purpose you've stated, it must present a good number of either incorrect facts, or facts with an unfair slant or bias. Care to share any of them you may have observed?

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  9. Indeed. DeseretNews won't even finish my account request. I guess they cross-correlate it to the Book of Life?

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  10. Chris, are you really in doubt whether the purpose of MormonThink is any different from the purpose of those who run it, as shown in the legal claim and the recent entries at this blog, for example? It's a little surprising that some of the people here appear to still be in denial about the goals of those who run MormonThink even after they've demonstrated them so plainly.

    I don't say the stuff at MormonThink is false--I have no idea. Biased, yes, very much, in that it's designed with the clear purpose of drawing people away from the Church. I don't see anything there that doesn't pretty obviously fit that purpose. Do you? It's not a close call.

    Anonymous, I'm sure you're right that the D News censors comments.

    Doug, the D News story I saw about the legal claim wasn't much different than the articles in other papers.

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    1. So if it's not false, what's your problem with it? And why are the contributors and editors of Mormonthink not allowed to have private goals different from those of the website, which as a volunteer collaboration is not beholden to the whims or personal goals of any one person?

      It's not supposed to be about drawing people to Mormonism, nor for pointing up its true claims. (I can't think of any offhand, but I'm sure there must be SOMETHING at least POSSIBLY true about Mormonism.) There are already plenty of resources out there for that. It's for exposing Mormonism's verifiably false historical and scientific claims. Don't like it? Don't visit it.

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    2. "It's for exposing Mormonism's verifiably false historical and scientific claims."

      Yup, and that's most definitely *not* what it presents itself to be about. Again, as I've explained very plainly several times, my objection is to the dishonesty of how it presents itself, and the bad will that underlies it. Its primary effect appears to be to spread that bad will, contributing to bitterness, family strife, and less overall happiness, judging from what I see here and elsewhere. It seeks to break down the beliefs of others out of ill will, giving nothing better in their place. If the religious beliefs of those who run the site were themselves subjected to similar treatment, say by Richard Dawkins, under a similarly deceptive guise, I think they'd see the point more easily.

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    3. Kent, quote the place on the MT website where it presents itself as you say it does. I'm having trouble finding that.

      Then, find another quote from MT website showing that it is "dishonest" has "bad will", "bitterness", "family strife" and so forth.

      You seem to be equating this blog to MT, when the bio states "This blog in no way represents the MormonThink site's stance on these issues."

      If you're trying to say this blog is biased, well, okay!

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    4. "Yup, and that's most definitely *not* what it presents itself to be about."

      That was my phrasing, not theirs. As they put it, "The purpose of this site is to generate discussion about little-known topics of church history to those interested in increasing their knowledge about these kinds of interesting, historical Mormon issues."

      If you don't see that those amount to the same thing, you are giving Mormonism waaaaaaay too much credit. Why else would Mormons who discover these things find them "disturbing" unless they contradict what they'd been taught?

      If the truth really does all the things you say, is it really better to lie? That's not the sort of thing I hear from most atheists. They tend to be very interested in the truth. Why aren't you?

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    5. Chris, as a matter of plain English, the description you quote from MormonThink is obviously *not* equivalent to "It's for exposing Mormonism's verifiably false historical and scientific claims." Equivalence entails mutual implication. Neither of those descriptions implies the other. Either could be true while the other was false.

      This isn't a close call. The one description is accurate, the other is a deception, intended to draw people in under a false pretense. It's manipulation. It's exactly the kind of thing that those who run MormonThink accuse the Church of.

      The level of denial (by some, evasion by others) about this illustrates the role of emotion in this. At bottom, this isn't about the truth on either side, it's about feelings, the kind that can sometimes interfere with seeing the truth. You may be amazed that LDS don't see your points. They're equally amazed you don't see theirs.

      I'm going to give you a serious answer to your questions about truth that I hope you'll accept in the spirit intended. I've lived long enough on this planet to know that it's feelings that move people, that what we value most in life all boils down ultimately to feelings, love and its opposites, thrills, beauty, even the awe of seeing the truth--the value of it all comes down to feelings. The truth can help us achieve what we we desire, but it's the latter that's fundamental to our happiness.

      I don't believe the distinctively religious claims of Mormonism or any other church. I don't believe Jesus was what he was portrayed to be in scripture. In a way, I can see that's my loss. I can see the reasons for faith, for investing in or casting one's lot with a view that represents what one sees as a higher, more meaningful possibility. That's what Christianity is for a billion people, and it's what Mormonism is for its millions. Even if I disagree with the beliefs, I can see the value it has in their lives. It's not only good for them on the whole, but for others as well, to the extent it helps make the believers happier, better people. There are exceptions, and in those cases I argue against the religious views. (Such as religious opposition to gay rights, to cite a current example.)

      I'll say a little more about this in my reply to concolor1.

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    6. Concolor1, you can gather part of why I don't generally criticize Mormon beliefs from my reply to Chris above. I disagree with your view that the Church is, on the whole, a harmful thing. I agree there are pernicious aspects, and those I do criticize and am hopeful to see change to the extent possible. I think a charitable view of the Church, or of Christianity or any other religion, or atheism, for that matter--the kind of view we take of our own beliefs--is necessary to fully weigh the good and bads. I think MormonThink encourages the opposite of charity in its view of Mormonism.

      In my view the Church today has primarily good, constructive goals, despite the problems. I think MormonThink has primarily negative, destructive goals. That's why I'm more critical of the latter. It's why I criticize atheists like Christopher Hitchens and praise atheists like Jonathan Haidt.

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    7. I'm afraid I disagree. I don't see anything positive in Mormonism.

      Christianity as a whole may have been founded on a myth, but I see no evidence it was a deliberate fiction. Rather, it was a kind of grass-roots myth-making which raised Jesus of Nazareth to the level of divinity in the view of his followers, much as what happened with the roughly contemporary Apollonius of Tyana, or the rather less exaggerated myths which grew around certain other Jewish rabbis like Honi the Circle Maker.

      Nevertheless, apart from the mythologized Jesus, Christians have been able to move through the world with their eyes open, not denying their own history or the realities around them. They have had to learn the value of not imposing their morality on others, and for the most part they now refrain. This is to their credit, and it's at least in part due to them going back to their source texts and paying closer attention to what their founder is recorded as having really taught.

      Mormonism, however, is founded on a deliberate fraud, and a pernicious one at that. The fraud runs deep to the point where any Mormon who knows the truth of its history absolutely cannot accept it and keep his faith intact. He must either cope with the cognitive dissonance by denying the evidence out of hand, or by concocting ever more elaborate, more improbable explanations -- or, by stepping away from their faith.

      To a healthy faith, merely telling the truth -- and please be frank; that's mainly what Mormonthink does -- should not be so damaging. John 8:32 is as much scripture for Mormons as it is for Christians. If it seems that the truth does NOT set you free, then maybe you can't recognize you own prison.

      This is not a harmless white lie, where the happiness given by belief in it might overcome the natural harm of believing in an untruth. This has real effects on people's lives.

      This has always been my approach to religion. Feelings are useless. They're unreliable guides to truth, and the better we feel the more susceptible we are to deception. Religion is only valuable insofar as it's true. When I was an Orthodox Christian, I believed because I thought I had good reason to think, first that Christianity was true, and second that if any surviving church on Earth was the one founded by Christ, Orthodoxy had the best claim on being it. Yes, the theology is sound and the services are beautiful and the historical connection to Apostolic times is compelling, but without truth it's all empty. When I ran out of reasons to believe in God altogether, there was nothing to hold me there. There is no value in falsehood no matter how content it makes me.

      I might even still agree with you had I any reason to believe your view, expressed to Concolor, that the Mormon church has primarily good, constructive goals. I see no real goal for it other than to perpetuate itself. You stand against religious opposition to gay rights? The LDS church has been staunchly against them. It was primarily by its efforts that Prop 8 passed in California. It was primarily by its influence that the BSA has discriminated against gay young men for decades now, only recently starting to accord them equal treatment. In its social program, Mormonism is opposed to anything progressive.

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    8. Chris, the view you present of Mormonism isn't based primarily on evidence, even though it seems to be. People as aware of Mormon history and practice as you, even far more so, but who don't share the same motivating feeling, have a very different view both of the history and present of Mormonism. And I'm referring to non-LDS, in particular. Of course the same is also true of LDS, many of whom know everything you do and more about the Church. The MormonThink version of the Church, and even more the version presented at this blog, is sifted and selected and colored to emphasize the negative. It's not full and balanced, as reason would require, but rather moved primarily by the requirements of particular feelings.

      Critics of religion tend to overemphasize the place of reason in life and greatly underestimate the place of feelings, according to what modern research in psychology shows us. Underestimating the fundamental role of feelings makes hash of real life, and one's own behavior, all of which comes down to feelings, whether one notices or likes it or not. As I suggested before, that's one reason evidence of deceptive behavior is treated one way when it's Mormon, and in the opposite way when it's MormonThink. That's not a rational reaction but a visceral one that reason, driven by feeling, justifies as much as it can. Because of that connection, finding truth, of a balanced and useful kind, is as much about feelings as reason.

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  11. Why would the LDS church have an LDS sponsored location for former Mormons to vent? What other entity provides a 'venting' location for former members? Whats interesting is that you seem to think that is something they should do and you're upset about it...?

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  12. Read what I said more carefully, Kent. I said I wouldn't [won't] doubt your claim, meaning I wasn't going to charge in and accuse your of dishonesty.

    My own thoughts, however, on the matter, remain private. I elected to point out that others have claimed to be "non-Mormons" and atheists in past arguments I've had, and they were later unmasked.

    There's no "doublespeak," just some passive-aggressie stuff...

    But I do note you've suddenly become very defensive and redoubled your efforts to smear MormonThink. An LDS apologist would behave similarly.

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  13. I wrote "former Mormon" but I suppose I was thinking of a "suggestion box" like email or someplace that distressed LDS members can go. It makes sense to me for an organization to try to help them. I don't recall ever having a way to communicate my concerns except through a bishop who didn't understand the church's own history and doctrine well enough to talk on a level that would help me.

    And I was also thinking of how if an exmormon goes to an unofficial pro-mormon forum (like MADB, LDS.NET) and they act like Kent is acting here, they are banned very quickly.

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  14. 1. The lds chuch started in the early 1800s on a premise of claims that the founder believed couldn't be falsifiable. The subsequent leaders built the church on the same premise because it gave them a unique story to convert new marks. However, science has since shown the founding claims falsifiable. The church has tried molding and altering the story to the best it can, but without jettisoning the entire foundation, they can't remove obvious problems.

    2. we all know that individual members at the ward level are sincere. No one starts out with insincere motives, and those at the top have evolved into a different view of what it means. They probably feel very justified in all that they do. Just as stock traders selling bad stock (bad doctrine here) feel justified to get the ends (money, fame, what-have-you). They don't think they're doing anything that bad. Mormon leaders evolved into this view over a progress going up the mormon ladder.

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  15. How odd that one would defend when attacked! You're quite the detective, there. As for "smearing," I've said nothing false, or even very controversial away from sites like this one.

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  16. Kent describes himself as an atheist, but now he's saying that Mormonthink attacked him when it reported the Mormon Church fraud case because it isn't objective. As a non-Mormon athiest, what is your agenda in attacking mormonthink, kent?

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  17. A little reading trouble, I see. I nowhere said or implied MormonThink attacked me. Some posters here have, obviously. And I've clearly explained my objections several times already. I've seen the harm that comes from attacking the basic beliefs of others out of ill will. Spreads bitterness without offering anything better.

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  18. "What other entity provides a 'venting' location for former members?"

    How about every ecommerce site, blog and any business that accepts reviews?

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  19. " I've seen the harm that comes from attacking the basic beliefs of others out of ill will. Spreads bitterness without offering anything better."

    What about the harm of collecting dollars using fraudulent tactics and false information? If people feel the organization is not worth replacing, why would they offer a way to fix it? We get that you, the atheist Kent, like religion, and that you don't like religion being attacked. Fine. Why are you attacking Mormonthink then? Wait, do you, an atheist, feel religion deserves an attack-free status while other groups are free game?

    Hahahaa

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  20. Hahahaa indeed: still more reading trouble. I didn't say religion should be free from attack. If religion is harming people, it should be criticized on that basis. But attacking religion out of a generalized malice prevents seeing it accurately and is likely to cause more harm than good.

    MormonThink isn't a religion, so your logic doesn't make sense on the point about attacking it. But the standard is the same. If it's doing harm, it should be criticized for that reason. The dishonesty and malice underlying it are likely causing more harm than good.

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