Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Are We Paying Too Much Tithing?

(Previous Entry: The Opposite of Fear)

We Latter-day Saints have become so accustomed these days to having false doctrine preached at us in church that we barely even blink anymore when we hear it.

Last week in my local sacrament meeting, both speakers gave talks on the same topic, the law of tithing, and both promoted views that were not only not found in God's word, but were actually outright perversions of the law.

It would be unfair to blame the speakers for the misinformation they were spreading. After all, they were only repeating the same myths and assumptions most of us have been taught since childhood, and the teachers and parents who taught them to us did not know any better, either. Some of these false teachings are that tithing is the Lord's money; that a tithe constitutes ten percent of our total earnings; that we must always make sure to pay tithing first before paying our bills; that tithing money goes to help the poor and needy; that by paying a full tithe God promises to bless us individually; that tithe paying is a commandment that every member of the church is expected to obey regardless of circumstances; and that tithing must be paid before anything else even if it means your children will go hungry.

None of those assumptions can be backed up by scripture, but that latter assumption, perhaps the most insidious and widespread perversion of God's law currently being promoted from the pulpit, is typified by the following statement which appears in the current issue of The Ensign magazine:
"If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing." (Aaron L. West, Sacred Transformations, December 2012)
If we are going to correctly observe God's law of tithing -and make no mistake, it is most certainly a law- perhaps it's time we clear our minds of the detritus that has accumulated from decades of secondhand information, and get the straight skinny directly from the Lord himself. After all, how can we say we understand a law if we haven't even read it?

First, some background: On December 7, 1836, Bishop Edward Partridge and his counselors officially defined tithing as 2 percent of the net worth of each member of the church, after deducting debts. This money was put to covering the operating expenses of the Church, and it appears to have been adequate for a time. Still, this was man's law, not God's. Apparently no one in the young Church had thought to ask God about it yet, so He had not weighed in on the matter.

Two years later, when the Church was eight years old, some 15,000 converts had already emigrated from their homes and gathered to Missouri, the new Zion.  Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon, who constituted the First Presidency at the time, were spending all their time dealing with and settling this huge flow of immigrants, to the exclusion of being able to provide a living for their own families. Things were at a point where Joseph and Sidney must either be compensated for their time, or they were both going to have to stop what they were doing and go out and get a real job. On May 12th the two men took the matter before the High Council of the Church. George W. Robinson recorded the minutes:
The Presidency laid before the High Council their situation as to maintaining their families in the situation and relation they stood to the Church, spending as they have for eight years their time, talents, and property in the service of the Church and now reduced as it were to absolute beggary and still were detained in the service of the Church. It now [had] become necessary that something should be done for their support, either by the Church or else they must do it themselves of their own labors. If the Church said, "Help yourselves," they would thank them and immediately do so, but if the Church said, "Serve us," then some provisions must be made for them. (Scott Faulring, An American Prophet's Record, Pg 182.)
The High Council voted eleven to one (George Hinkle vigorously opposed "a salaried ministry") to further contract the two men for their services, being careful to note that the money was "not for preaching or for receiving the word of God by revelation, neither for instructing the Saints in righteousness," but for work in the "printing establishment, in translating the ancient records, &c, &c." (ibid.)

Richard S. Van Wagoner, in his biography of Sidney Rigdon, further explains:
After negotiations, they agreed to offer Rigdon and Smith an annual contract of $1,100 apiece, more than three times what the average worker of the day could earn. Ebenezer Robinson, the High Council's clerk, later wrote that "when it was noised abroad that the Council had taken such a step, the members of the Church, almost to a man, lifted their voices against it. The expression of disapprobation was so strong and emphatic that at the next meeting of the High Council, the resolution voting them a salary was rescinded." (Richard S. Van Wagoner, Sidney Rigdon, Pg 230.)
What the High Council did instead was offer the men 80 acres for their families to live on. So now Joseph and Sidney had some ground under them, but no walking around money. Maybe if they had asked for a more reasonable salary to begin with, there might not have been such an outcry. (Frankly, I blame Rigdon for the overreach. That just sounds like Sidney Rigdon to me.)

Anyway, the Church had been growing faster than anyone had anticipated, so it was past time to get the Lord's opinion on how to handle the financial end of things. Even though Bishop Partridge had declared tithing to be 2 percent of net, Partridge was not authorized to set doctrine; only God could do that. So in July of 1838,  Joseph put the question to the Lord as to how all this was intended to work, and the answer is what we now know as the law of tithing. This law consists of the entire chapter of D&C 119, and takes up all of seven short verses. You can read the whole thing inside of half a minute. Why don't you grab your scriptures and do that right now? Or just click here to see it online. Then let's analyze it together.

The first thing you may notice about the law of tithing is that it concisely addresses two important questions:

1.  How much are members expected to contribute?
2.  What are those contributions to be spent on?

Those who have been conditioned by a lifetime of false propaganda about tithing may have difficulty coming to the realization that a "full tithe" constitutes less than you probably thought it did. A lot less.  There may be some things in life that are difficult to bear, or that constitute a sacrifice, but tithing,when properly understood, should not be one of them. The Lord designed it to be easy, painless, and cheap.

But let's get to that later. Before we look at how much we are expected to pay in tithing, let's jump to number 2 and look at what tithing funds are intended to be spent on.  Broken down, they are really quite simple:

1. The building of the Lord's house.
2. The laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood.
3. The debts of the Presidency of the Church.

You'll notice there's nothing in there about helping the poor, earthquake relief, or any humanitarian aid.  Charitable giving is something we are definitely commanded to do, but believe it or not, charitable giving is something that is separate from tithing. The purpose of tithing, in a nutshell, is to pay for the costs of managing Church affairs. Every faithful member is expected to shoulder his share of those costs.  If done correctly, paying tithing is painless, and should leave plenty left over for charity. If done according to the dictates of man, it can be quite difficult, and charity often gets left behind.

You'll also notice when reading the law of tithing that it contains no mention of any blessings accruing to those who comply with the law, although verse 6 does contain something that looks a bit like a curse upon those who fail to observe it.

And here's something you might find curious.  For all this talk we keep hearing about tithing being a commandment, no form of that word appears anywhere in this section. Why do you suppose that is?  The attentive reader will also notice that the words "obey" and "obedience" don't appear within the law of tithing, either. Everywhere else in scripture where we are given a commandment, it's pretty clear that what we are being given is a commandment, isn't it? So why not here?

Could it be that The law of Tithing is not what the Lord would normally consider a commandment? Oh, it's very clearly an obligation, make no mistake about that. We are told that if we fail to observe the law of tithing (in this instance, at least, the Lord uses words such as "observe" and "keep" in lieu of obey), we won't have a Zion society. So what is the law of tithing if it isn't a commandment?

Well, it's a law.

Confused yet? That's probably because most of us have come to attribute 21st century meanings to 19th century words, and when we think of laws we often think of them the way we do man-made decrees; statutes we are ordered to obey. The meaning of this other kind of law -the law God introduces- is often related to cause and effect.

Now of course there is often some overlap when discussing laws and commandments, but they are not precisely synonymous. Commandments often operate on some direct spiritual motivation; that is, they need no set of instructions to be complied with.  Their execution is self evident.

When Jesus said, "if you love me, keep my commandments," we understand His meaning right away. We love him, therefore we desire to follow his wishes. Implicit also in that statement is that those who don't love Jesus probably won't obey his commandments. They wouldn't be motivated to. Either way, they are called co-mandments, not demand-ments. A tyrant may demand something of you, but God asks his disciples to "come" with him, which is the reason for the suffix "co-" which implies we come willingly, we are co-operating with his will, rather than as unwilling subjects of a tyrant who forces compliance to his demands.  To the person who is truly born again in Christ, the desire to keep the commandments is inherent in the conversion.  Following the will of Christ is something you find you want to do, and which therefore comes easily. As a rule, you usually don't have to have a commandment explained to you.

For example, when Jesus said, "a new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another," his followers did not then require any detailed set of instructions about how love operates.  Once you experience the unconditional love of the spirit, you don't need to be told how to be compassionate or charitable; you are motivated to act by the pure love of Christ.

Once the Holy Ghost has filled your heart with mercy (the scriptures say it's your bowels that are filled, but I'm going to go with heart), then as you come across someone who is hungry, you'll feed him, if you see someone thirsty, you'll give him drink, if you see someone naked, you'll clothe him, and so on. You are motivated on a spiritual plane to act. You don't need a list of rules explaining how mercy works.

On the other hand, the use of the word "law" in section 119 has little to do with a command to pay our tithes. It is not about obeying a law.  Section 119 is concerned with explaining how and in what manner the tithes are to be obtained, and to what purposes they are to be spent. In that sense, the law is procedural, by dictionary definition it is "a rule of direction."

Before God revealed His law of tithing, members of the church were quite willing to tithe, they just didn't know how, they didn't understand the proper procedure. Section 119 spelled it out for them. It provided the rule of direction as to how it was to be accomplished, both as to receiving and disbursing. That is what is meant by the law of tithing: it refers to procedural law, the process of obtaining and disbursing the tithes; it has almost nothing to do with obedience.

This is not to say that the law of tithing need not be observed. The Lord is very clear that it is to be strictly kept, at least by those who wish to become worthy to abide in Zion.  But human nature being what it is, actually keeping the law as it was given has constantly been a challenge; and not so much for the members as for the leaders of the Church, who have constantly been caught tampering with it.

There are a few places in the D&C where tithing is briefly mentioned (64:23, 97:11-12, and 85:3), but if you're looking for the actual Law of Tithing, you will only find that in section 119. That is the Law of Tithing in its totality. We know so because in verses 3 and 4 the Lord tells us this will be the beginning of the tithing of His people, and that it will be "a standing law" unto us forever. So whatever you believe about tithing, if it's not in there, it's not part of the law. 

Painless Payments
In the first verse, the Lord announces the first part of the tithe. It is for all the surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop. That would have been a surprisingly easy term to comply with, as the early Saints understood the meaning of the word "surplus" to be any property they had which they didn't really need or have use for. If Brother Zeke was raising chickens, he got to keep all the chickens his family could eat for the year, plus enough to barter for other necessities, along with as many eggs as his family could consume or trade or sell for other necessities.  If he had extra hens and eggs beyond his family's needs, that was Zeke's surplus, and those went to the bishop for his tithe. These were chickens Zeke would barely miss, and the Lord made it that easy to part with his property on purpose. Tithing is not a test. It is meant to be practical, to accomplish a purpose. Paying it was not intended to be hard for anyone.

There was nothing new and unusual about this method of tithing. Joseph Smith clarified certain aspects of the law, as it has often been misunderstood. For instance, in Genesis 14 of the King James Version, we are left with the impression that Abram paid one tenth of all his possessions. That would have been a lot for Melchizedek to carry back, because Abram had a lot of posessions.

Yet in Joseph Smith's newer translation, we find that "Abram paid unto him tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need. (JST Genesis 14:39) Still a lot, but now we see it's not a tenth of everything. Abram gave only a tenth of his surplus. God has never required his people to "pay him first," or to give to the Church before meeting the needs of our families. God's law has always been extremely fair. But men always seem  eager to tweak God's law to their advantage.

Joseph Smith had not even been in his grave a month before the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued an edict declaring that instead of giving of their surplus, the Saints were to henceforth give "a tenth of all their property and money...and then let them continue to pay a tenth of their income from that time forth." There was no exemption for those who had already given all their surplus. The new rule was a tenth of everything right off the top.

And note that the twelve didn't pretend this change represented a revelation from God; they just needed more money, and issued a decree to get it. They arbitrarily changed the definition of tithing just because they wanted to. Apparently some people don't understand the meaning of "a standing law forever."  Oh well. The Prophet was dead. New Management, New Rules.

And guess what? Two weeks after that announcement, the Twelve voted to exempt themselves from any obligation to pay tithing at all, not even a tiny bit on their surplus. God's "standing law forever" had only been in place for six years, and already it was being eroded by those charged with administering it.

It shouldn't come as much of a surprise to learn that the number of members who bothered to pay any tithing at all soon fell dramatically.  Over the next few years all manner of punishments were tried and proposed against delinquent tithe payers, from fines to excommunications. Official and semi-official decrees as to what and how much constituted a full tithe were constantly in flux, and always skewed to favor Church leaders over the rank and file

By the time the Saints had settled in Utah, all talk of surplus had vanished from the dialogue. New converts were expected to turn over ten percent of all their property at the time of their baptism, then another ten percent upon arriving in Utah, and ten percent more every year thereafter. General authorities had either misread the Lord's words in Section 119, or were simply lying outright when they taught that tithing was "one tenth of all we possess at the start, and then ever after one tenth..." (Journal of Discourses 15:308, 15:359, and 16:157).  The result of this anarchy was that it wasn't long before less actual tithing was being collected per capita. According to historian Michael Quinn:
Otherwise faithful Mormons withered before an overwhelming tithing obligation. Young told the October 1875 general conference that neither he nor anyone else "had ever paid their tithing as it was revealed and understood by him in the Doctrine and Covenants."
You can say that again. You have to wonder how much better compliance would be if the leaders simply showed the members that true tithing doesn't have to be a sacrifice; it's supposed to be simple and easy.

If we are to fully understand the law of tithing as given by the Lord, we are going to have to shed our modern notions about the meanings of words such as "surplus," "interest," and "income" and instead examine the meaning of those words as understood by most Mormons at the time the revelation on tithing was given. As it happens, Noah Webster published the first dictionary of the American language in 1828, and the meaning of the words as commonly understood by the Saints in that day can be found by looking up those definitions.

Plus, Plus Plus, Equals Over-Plus
Webster defines "surplus" as "that which remains when use is satisfied; excess beyond what is prescribed or wanted."

In the largely agrarian society of the early Saints, that might be additional chickens, cattle, apples, or anything over and above what a person might require for his family's needs. The early Saints would have been surprised at the modern assumption that tithing should be paid before you pay anything else, because in order to pay from your surplus, you have to wait and see what you have left over. That's why the Lord specifically states that tithing is to be paid annually. In the Missouri-Nauvoo period, you would have to get your bills taken care of first, otherwise you would have no idea what your surplus was going to be. Surplus is that which is left over after all other expenses have been taken care of.

The word Surplus is also defined in Webster's 1828 as being synonymous with the word "overplus," a word seldom used anymore but which happened to be the term to describe tithing used by John Corrill, one of the scribes who had been enlisted by Joseph Smith to write an early history of the Church. (Corrill's fascinating book, A Brief History of the Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, published in 1839, has been hard to come by until quite recently. You can now find it reprinted in its entirety in The Joseph Smith Papers, Volume 2:The Histories).  Here is how Corrill explained tithing among the early Saints:
If a man gives for the benefit of the Church, it is considered a voluntary offering. Yet the law requires or enjoins a consecration of the overplus, after reserving for himself and family to carry on his business.(Emphasis mine.)
 Common sense would tell us that the suffixes "plus" in the words surplus and overplus would mean something like "in addition to," or "above and beyond," but you would be surprised how many Mormons will look at verse one in section 119 and remain convinced it means the early Saints were to give up everything they owned. Never underestimate the effectiveness of the indoctrination you received in Primary.
We see in verse four of God's law of tithing that after giving this initial surplus, "those who have thus been tithed shall pay one tenth of all their interest annually." Well, that's an unusual word in that context, at least by modern standards. Not sure about the meaning of the term "interest" to the early Latter-day Saints? The pertinent definitions provided by Webster's 1828 inform us that it is a "share; portion; part; any surplus advantage." There's that word surplus again. It turns out that Interest is practically synonymous with surplus. As is also the meaning of increase.

Not sure what is meant by "surplus advantage"? For the definition of advantage we find "Benefit; gain; profit" also "Interest; increase;" and look, there's overplus again.  But wait. Back up. Doesn't "gain" mean the same as earnings or wages? So in modern times when we are paid wages we have gain, right? Aren't we then supposed to tithe ten percent of our wages, since our wages represent a gain?

Nope. Not so fast. The meaning of Gain as it pertains to a person has always been akin to what profit would be to a business. The money coming in to a business might consist entirely of what it gets for selling its products, or sales revenue. But all that revenue does not give an accurate picture of how much money the business has actually gained, because a lot of that money has to go back out to cover expenses.  What is left over after expenses constitutes how much money the business actually ends up with. That is the profit. Only when the business sees the profit left over has it experienced any gain.

Similarly, your wages or earnings have always been defined as compensation for your time and labor. It is an even trade of value for value. It is not gain. There is no "gain" accrued when you receive your wages. You are simply being evenly compensated, which means given even value. Everything is still in equal balance when you got paid. You made an even exchange of your time in exchange for their money. There is no gain or overage involved in that transaction. There is no gain because there is no increase involved. Only after you have met your expenses can you enjoy your gain which is the money you get to use as you wish, to buy what you want, to save for some future purchase, or even to fritter away. 

Still with me? Gain, Increase, and Interest are all synonymous with what you have left of your wages after providing for your needs.  After you have provided for your needs, you get to use the rest of your money to satisfy your wants. (By the way, being able to tell the difference between what you need, and what you merely desire, is the mark of a mature adult. If you can honestly differentiate between the two, congratulations, you're all grown up.)

Today we might call this surplus our "discretionary income," the money we have left over after our fixed costs have been met and our basic living expenses covered. That's why complying with God's law is easy. Tithing isn't ten percent of everything you have. It's more like ten percent of ten percent. Who can't contribute ten percent of their discretionary income to help pay the costs of running a Church?

Well, actually, some people can't. That would be those who have no discretionary income, no surplus whatsoever; for whom everything they take in is immediately required just to survive.  Unlike the way many believe today, the Lord never intended for the sick, the crippled, and the widowed to give what they did not have. Section 119 verse 3 tells us "and after that, those who have thus been tithed" (i.e. those who had a surplus to begin with) "shall pay one tenth of all their interest annually." That isn't everybody.

Only those who had already possessed tithe-able surplus were expected to continue to tithe ten percent of their additional surplus at the end of each subsequent year. The truly destitute have no surplus, so they are not expected to tithe. God is not a monster. Your Sunday School teacher may insist that tithing be paid before the rent and food, but the scriptures don't teach that. The scriptures teach "if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

Do you see how simple the Lord made it for us to provide for the administrative costs of the Church? When the institutional Church is operating properly and within its defined boundaries, it shouldn't require a massive sacrifice from the members. The law of tithing, as given to us by the Lord, is a simple law; it is only when we turn it into something difficult and complicated that we begin to see it as a challenge or a sacrifice.

And there's the rub. Keeping the Church operating within the bounds outlined within the law has always been the challenge, hasn't it? That's why God makes it the responsibility of the members to hold the leader's feet to the fire so they don't succumb to their own human natures. Remember, it was the members who vetoed the plan to allow Joseph and Sidney to take home three times the the wage of the average worker of that day. If the members had taken the attitude we do today, "well, they are the leaders, and we have no right to question them," then an injustice would have occurred, and the sacred tithes of the members would have been misappropriated.

Joseph Smith had to abide by the veto of the members who had contributed the funds even though he was the guy who started the whole dang church in the first place!  Everyone understood he was in charge, didn't they? Yet even The Prophet Joseph Smith could not do whatever he wanted. He had to ask permission from the members, and then he was at risk of being told no.

D&C 119 informs us that the law of tithing is specifically intended to pay the debts of the First Presidency, so we should see that is accomplished. But how are those debts defined? It has been an open secret that the general authorities of the Church receive a very comfortable salary, although it is often described as a "stipend" or "modest living allowance." As the ones who are covering the costs of these allowances, the tithe payers should be aware of how much money that actually comes to.  But that information is hidden from us by the very men who receive those salaries,  in direct violation of the Lord's word on the subject.

(One of the many things I liked about presidential candidate Ron Paul is that he understood the meaning of "servant." When he announced his candidacy he declared that if elected, he would accept a yearly salary of only $39,500 because that represented the median salary of the average American. I have no idea what the median yearly salary of the average Latter-day Saint is, but I'd venture to guess it's even less than that. I also don't know how much money our servant Thomas Monson is given to live on, because he won't tell us, but don't you think it shouldn't be much more than the average yearly earnings of the people who provide that salary? I do. What do you want to bet Monson's "modest allowance" is closer to the salary of  the President of the United States than it is to your own?)

Almost from the beginning in the Church, general authorities were loaning themselves large amounts of money out of the tithing fund for their private use. As reported by historian Thomas Alexander, "By March 1899 outstanding loans totaled $115,000, much of which, one authority said, would never be repaid 'in this life'..." (Mormonism In Transition, Pg 100.)  Stake Presidents were granted $300-$500 salaries cryptically labeled "travel costs" from tithing funds that poorer Mormons were struggling to provide them with.

But what about those promised blessings? Doesn't the Lord through Malachi promise to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing upon all the faithful Latter-day Saints who unquestioningly pay their tithes on time?

Well no. Malachi wasn't talking to the tithe payers. He was talking to the priests who had been collecting money for the poor and were keeping most of it for themselves.

It is a testament to our willingness for self-indoctrination that so many Latter-day Saints constantly quote the verse in Chapter 3 that asks "will a man rob God?" and assume the Lord is rebuking the people for withholding payment. When you read the previous chapters and verses you will see that Malachi, as God's mouthpiece, is accusing the Church leaders of embezzling. The tithes had already been paid by the people; they were simply being held up by the leadership. To paraphrase the famous words of King Solomon, "So what else is new?" (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

It can be confusing to some people why God would be angry at the priests for keeping the tithes to themselves, since the people's tithes were the very thing the Levite Priests were granted for their livelihood. It was the job of the Priest to run the temple, and tithes contributed by the people were the way in which the priests were to be compensated. It was all on the up and up. It therefore makes little sense to some people to see the priests accused of keeping the tithes for themselves when paying the priests was the very purpose of the tithes in the first place.

But the key words here are "tithes and offerings." As it turns out, there were two tithes that went to compensate the priests: first, everything that grew out of the earth was tithed for their support.  There was also a second tithe, known as the cattle tithe, that was to be shared between the priests and the offerer. It's likely that the priests were taking more than their share of the meat from these offerings, and selling some of that meat for personal gain.  And there was yet a third tithe, the annual tithe levied for the relief of the poor, and it was the theft of that tithe that seems to have gotten God and Malachi to come unglued. "Will a man rob God? Well You have robbed me, even this whole nation!"

In other words, the priest class had been robbing the whole nation by keeping for themselves the offerings that had been contributed by the people that were intended for the poor. By extension that was tantamount to robbing God himself, as God identifies himself in scripture with the poor and lowly.

Why did the priests find it necessary to embezzle? Silly question, for if we extrapolate forward 400 years to the time of Christ, it's obvious the priest class was by then completely corrupt. But to give the priests in Malachi's day some benefit of the doubt, scholars suggest it was normal human nature for these men to be worried they might some day have to do without if they failed to keep extra stores in reserve.  Others, pointing to Matthew 23 and Luke 11, suggest the priests had simply lost the sense of proportion with regard to what was important in religious observance.

Nevertheless, God used Malachi as his spokesman to promise these wayward priests that if they would stop hoarding the offerings and bring all those tithes into the storehouse to be properly distributed among the needy, He, God, would open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing upon the priests; blessings so abundant they might never have to fear shortages again.  Try it my way, says the Lord, and see if things don't start to work for you.

The Problem With Overpaying
One of the unintended consequences of giving too much of our substance to the Church, is that afterwards we often have little left over to give to the Lord.

But hold on. Haven't we always been taught that this is the Lord's money and that when we tithe to the Church we are in fact giving it to the Lord?

We may have been taught that by someone, but we weren't taught it by God. Nowhere in the Law of Tithing is there any suggestion that by building a temple, or laying the foundations of Zion, or paying the debts of the First Presidency, we are giving that money back to the Lord. We were given the law of tithing because Joseph Smith asked God how it was to be done and the Lord told him. The law does not refer to the money or property as belonging to God. It is earmarked to pay the expenses of the Church.

If you want to give directly to the Lord, the scriptures tell us in several places how best to go about doing that:
"I was hungry and you gave me meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison and you came unto me. Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:35,36, 40)
 "When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17)
Paying a tithe in support of the Church has its place. But is it any more important than giving an offering to the Lord? There is only one way to give directly to the Lord, and that is by demonstrating compassion for our less fortunate brothers and sisters.

The tragedy in all this is that by overpaying tithing most of our lives, we Mormons have talked ourselves into believing that our duty has been fulfilled.  And yet our tithes to the corporate Church do next to nothing in assisting the poor and needy among us. A simple reading of the law in section 119 shows us that the care of the poor and the needy was never the purpose of tithing in the first place.  In addition to the small donation the Lord requires us to tithe for the support of Church management, we are still required to provide a generous offering to the poor, but how often are we admonished from the pulpit about remembering our fast offerings?

I'm afraid that in the minds of most members of the Church, the fast offering is an afterthought, something less important than "paying a full tithe."  We are taught from our youth the lies about the payment of tithing being like purchasing fire insurance to keep us out of the fiery furnaces of hell, and we believe it without question, along with stories of how the Lord will bless us when we pay our tithing, or how sacrificing to give money to the Church is the way we demonstrate our devotion to God.

Yet the scriptures teach us that to the extent such blessings accrue, they arrive as a reward for helping those in need, not by paying tithes to Salt Lake. We have come to see things exactly backwards. We give much more than is required to the Priests of Levi, But when approached on the street by someone who is truly in need, we clutch our money tight to our bosoms.

We tend to focus much, much more on our obligation to the Corporate Church than we do to our neighbors, even those living within our own wards.  If the Lord himself were to speak at your next sacrament meeting, where do you think he would suggest the bulk of your discretionary spending be sent? Where do you feel it is most needed?

There may have been a time when the Church truly needed additional tithes to meet its expenses, but that day is far behind us now. It seems to me that today the "church" side -the community of believers made up of individuals- is in much greater need of assistance than the corporate side. In times like these when so many of our brothers and sisters are experiencing increasing hardship, don't you think God would want us to be focusing as much attention on the needs of our neighbors as we do on the debts of the Presidency?

Why don't we hear the bishop announcing the opportunity to take part in a Fast Offering settlement at the end of the year? For that matter, why do we even still hold tithing settlement? Tithing settlement is an anachronism that has outlived its purpose, unless that purpose is intended as an opportunity to interrogate the members and instill unnecessary guilt and fear. What other reason is there to attend one of these meetings? Even those who believe they are required to contribute the full 10 percent of their earnings usually have already taken care of that on a monthly basis. So why an annual tithing "settlement" come December?

Settle Down There, Hombre
The original purpose for a tithing settlement can be found in that word "settlement." In the old days, many of those who could pay their tithing either monthly or quarterly in cash did so. But let's say Brother Zeke the chicken farmer had a bountiful year. His hens hatched hundreds of baby chicks, and his cows gave birth to 10 calves.  Some of those chicks grew to adulthood and were eaten at the dinner table, others were sold so that Zeke could provide other necessities for his family ("man shall not live by chicken alone"). When the end of the year rolled around, Zeke found himself with a surplus of let's say 60 laying hens over and above what his family needed to thrive, and an increase of ten cows over what he started with in January.

So Zeke would contact the bishop and arrange a time to give the bishop six of those surplus hens, and one of the calves. In this way Zeke would "settle" his tithing with the bishop, as would any other farmer who had tithing "in kind" (which means payment in something other than money). It would then be the job of the bishop to find a buyer and convert that livestock into cash to be forwarded to Salt Lake. In those days bishops were allowed to keep ten percent of all the money they collected before sending the rest to Church headquarters. It was only fair, as finding buyers and sellers for crops and livestock could be a time-consuming endeavor.

That's how tithing was "settled" back in the day. But since most of us now deal in cash or check, we have no need to have the bishop settle our affairs for us in that manner.  But tithing settlement is still held every December anyway, so go ahead and show up if you want to. Just don't expect the bishop to thank you for bringing any chickens with you, unless they're already cooked and in a bucket with a side of cole slaw.

How To Figure Your Tithing
Some folks, like farmers and ranchers, have either an increase or a decrease in their fortunes each year. If a Utah cattleman owns a thousand cows, and in a given year those cows give birth to a thousand calves, it's easy for the rancher to figure his tithing. He now possesses 2,000 head of cattle. But he does not pay tithing on all 2,000. Only half of those cows in his possession represent his increase or his annual interest, so out of that thousand he sells 100 cows and turns the money over to the bishop.

Easy and painless. He still has 900 more cows than he started out the year with, along with the thousand head he already had. So he was able to fulfill his obligation to the Church and he's still come out way ahead. He can sell some or all of those leftover cattle to support his family, expand his operations, and even donate some beef or cash to the poor. If he's lucky, next year these additional cows will bear more calves, further increasing his own fortune along with the coffers of the Church. If enough Latter-day Saints were to contribute the tiny percentage the Lord actually requires, the Church would have plenty to fund its operations, and the poor among us would be well taken care of because we wouldn't be siphoning so much of our substance off to Church headquarters.

But what about the average guy or gal who labors for a fixed wage? How do you figure your "increase" if your earnings remain pretty much the same? In 1970 the First Presidency issued a statement intended to clarify all that. (Guess what? It didn't.)
 "The simplest statement we know of is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay 'one-tenth of all their interest annually,' which is understood to mean income. No one is justified in making any other statement than this."
Now, why do you suppose the First Presidency quoted the Lord's use of the word "interest", and then added the comment "which is understood to mean income" right after it?  Understood to mean income by who? I'll tell you who. The people in Joseph Smith's day. That's who.

 But they understood the meaning much differently than you probably do.

If you were raised in the government schools like the last three or four generations of Americans, you probably grew up thinking income means "everything that comes in."  Well, that's what you may think it means, but that is not the meaning of the word either historically, traditionally, or by legal definition.  Income is more properly synonymous with profit. In other words, your income is the money you have for your personal use after your expenses have been deducted, not before. Your income is not your gross earnings or your wages, and it is not your take home pay.  The early Latter-day Saints all understood income to be one's net share or "interest" after deducting the basic expenses required for living.

You can track down the word in Webster's 1828 ("Income" is the gain that proceeds from labor, as opposed to compensation for labor), or you can take as your guide numerous holdings of the U.S. Supreme and appellate Courts, which have made several stabs at clarifying the traditional meaning of what constitutes income for purposes of taxation.  I'm including a couple of definitions below. These cites can appear quite convoluted to those unused to reading case law, and if all this is new to you, you'll have to completely flush from your brain any preconceived idea of what "income" means or you will drown in cognitive dissonance. I'll try to keep it simple, but if you're up to it, you can explore the topic further here and here. Since these short quotes are excerpts from much longer citations, I'll try to give a concise translation as to their contextual meaning:
Whatever may constitute income, therefore, must have the essential feature of gain to the recipient...If there is no gain, there is not income...Congress has taxed income, not compensation. -Conner v. U.S., 303 F Supp. 1187 (1969)  
Translation: Income is not the direct compensation one receives in exchange for labor (i.e. wages); income is the gain one has after expenses.
It is not salaries, wages, or compensation for personal services that are to be included in gains, profits, and income derived from salaries, wages, or compensation for personal services. -Lucas v. Earl, 281 U.S 111 (1930)
Translation: salaries and wages are considered compensation for personal services. They are not gains, profits, or income. Gains, profits, and income are derived from wages. That is, after you have received your wages and deducted your basic expenses from those wages, that money you have left (the gain derived from your wages after expenses) is your actual "income."

Still with me? Okay. So for the purposes of paying tithing, how do you know how much of your earnings count as going toward basic expenses in order to arrive at the proper amount for determining your income, which is the part of your earnings you'll pay tithing on?

Well, that's between you and the Lord. In that 1970 letter from the First Presidency (the most current official pronouncement we have on the topic) we read, "We feel that every member of the Church should be entitled to make his own decision as to what he thinks he owes the Lord, and to make payment accordingly."

That's a wise statement, because only the Lord truly understands your circumstances. Since everyone's situation is different, no one -no bishop, stake president, or general authority- is empowered to tell you how much of your money you should pay tithing on. That's what prayer is for. You make your decision and take it to the Lord for his approval. If you feel right about your decision, you are a full tithe payer as long as you give ten percent of the amount you consider your interest to be. You can fool yourself, but you can't fool the Lord. So be honest with yourself.

I'll tell you how I figure it for our household. At the first of the month I pay my fixed expenses: rent, utilities, phone, and so on.  After that I usually have about six or seven hundred dollars left for the two of us to live on. Most of that will go for groceries, but also gas and sundry other things. Emergency car repair and other unexpected contingencies. Maybe a fast food meal here or there. Whatever.  Essentially, it's everything we have left over after paying our bills.

Some of this "grocery money" I will give away to those in greater need than we are, which may amount to a couple hundred dollars or so a month. You may feel it works better for you to budget a certain amount for charitable giving at the beginning of the month and include that in your upfront expenses, and that's fine. I doubt the Lord cares if the Church gets a little less tithing because you've earmarked a chunk of it to his poorer sons and daughters. But we have decided not to limit ourselves to a set amount for giving, so that comes out of our grocery money as we go along, because, well, it's grocery money for somebody. Besides, I'm afraid that if I were to limit my charitable giving to a set amount, I might find it too easy to make excuses to myself that I've already done my share -the way I used to rationalize passing up the needy because I had already paid so much in tithing.

So as far as money for the needy goes, I hand it out as I come across a need, that way I don't have to think about how much I'm giving up. I'm no angel. I have always had a tendency toward greed. So in making this rule for myself of never passing up an opportunity for giving, I don't have to think about what it's costing me, I just do it.

So that whole pool of leftover money is what I choose to consider my surplus/overplus/increase/interest/income; so if it adds up to say, $700, my share of tithing for the Church would be $70.00.  That's much less a percentage of my wages than I used to give to the institution most of my life, but it is the proper one, as it leaves me plenty left for the Lord's purposes.

Now, most people would count groceries as part of their basic living expenses, and of course they are, but I don't bother creating a separate budget for groceries. Too complicated. After all, if I wanted to become Pharisaical about it (or obsessive compulsive-take your pick) I could start nitpicking about what it really costs to provide my basic needs.  When you get right down to it, I could survive on flour and corn meal, or even locusts and honey, which would increase my titheable surplus, therefore making me an A-Plus First Rate Tithe Payer Guy, but it would make for an unhappy quality of life.

So I just pay my bills upfront like a responsible adult, then I try to make the rest of my money last as long as I can until it's gone. So lumping my grocery money in with the rest of my walking around money and calling it all surplus is my way of choosing easy. Knowing that we're going to be needing most of what we have left for food keeps me from doing anything stupid with it.

You can probably tell that if I were to deduct gas, groceries, and necessities upfront, I would probably have little or no surplus at all. On the other hand, I could have counted my monthly internet fee as discretionary, so it works itself out. There may be areas in which you can find a surplus you hadn't thought of. Think of what your family needs to actually survive, and those bills you absolutely have to pay each month, and count everything else as your interest.  Some people spend more than I might think they need to on clothes, for instance, but maybe they justify it because they need to wear better clothes to work than I do.  Some of what you might call legitimate expenses might seem extravagant to me, but that's why I'm not your judge.

Here in California it's quite easy for some folks to spend close to two hundred dollars on their cable and internet services if they were to buy the whole package. If that's you, you might remove that from the "expenses" column and count that money as part of your discretionary surplus, and therefore money you would tithe against.

Then again, you may feel having cable with all the premium channels is a basic necessity of life. It's your call. If you can justify that to God, fine with me. He's the only one you have to answer to. Even still, recognizing that your $200 cable addiction is not quite a necessity doesn't mean you will have to live without it. It simply means you should maybe count $20.00 of that toward your tithing.

Many married couples cannot agree on what constitutes expenses vs. interest, so don't ask me to figure it out for you. Take it to the Lord in prayer and ask him what he would have you do. If you are a full tithe payer in the eyes of the Lord, that makes you a full tithe payer, period.

My Testimony Of Tithing
As a teenager and young adult growing up in the church, I had a powerful testimony of tithing. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that as I continued to faithfully donate ten percent of my gross earnings to the Church, the Lord would continue to bless me with a job I liked and could advance in. And it seemed to be working out.

Looking back, I now recognize that it wasn't really the law of tithing I had a testimony of, since I had never even read the thing. What I really had was the testimony of a movie.

In Seminary we were shown a Church film, "The Windows of Heaven" which told the story of Lorenzo Snow's speaking tour to St. George and environs in the year 1899.  The Church was experiencing deep financial trouble; tithing receipts were way down and the deficit was out of control. On the wagon trip to St. George, President Snow's party frequently passed dead and dying cattle along the way. There had been a severe drought in the area, and along with the weight of the Church's financial problems, President Snow was burdened with concerns about how the Church could possibly manage to assist these poor people in their time of trouble, since the Church itself was dead broke and deeply in debt.

Arriving at the St. George chapel old, weak, and frail, President Snow was helped to the stand and began to give his talk. Suddenly, right in the middle of a sentence, he paused and looked at the back of the chapel as if in a trance.  He was silent for a very long time, just staring straight ahead. When he finally resumed speaking, he straightened up and spoke in a mighty voice of authority, calling the congregation to repentance for their failures in paying their tithing, and then dramatically declared:
"... observe this law fully and honestly from now on; you may go ahead and plow your lands, plant your seed, and I promise you in the name of the Lord that in due time clouds will gather, the latter rains from heaven will descend, your lands will be watered, and the rivers and ditches will be filled, and you will yet reap a harvest this very season!"
Then followed a montage of Saints faithfully paying their tithes of crops and chickens to the local bishop. Within weeks, rain clouds formed and the windows of heaven literally opened and poured down rain, rain, and more rain! Water filled ditches, resevoirs, ponds, and creeks. The farmer's land was redeemed! The crops were saved! The drought was finally over, and there was much rejoicing.

This movie made quite an impression on my young mind, as it was designed to. The clear message of the film was that anything that may have been going wrong in my life at the time could probably be traced to the fact that I hadn't been faithful enough about paying a full tithe on every dollar I brought in. I was further made to understand that if I were to remain a full tithepayer from then on, the Lord would bless me and I would know nothing but success in life from then on out. All I had to do was never forget to pay my indulgences.

I took the message of that film as it was meant to be taken; that if I did my part I would reap great material rewards.  I believed this with all my heart, and on my mission I bore repeated testimony to the incredible benefits that attached to being obedient to the law of tithing. If there was anything I had a testimony of, it was this tithing thing. It was almost my trademark. I was still motivated by the message of this film years later, long after things fell apart for me financially. For years and years I continued to believe wholeheartedly that I would receive bounteous blessings for paying my tithing, even when those blessings never seemed to come.

I had misunderstood the message of the film, you see. Or rather, the film was deliberately crafted to convey promises of blessings that neither the Lord nor Lorenzo Snow had ever made.

The film was an incredible inspiration to me. But what the film did not do was tell the whole truth. As Jay Bell writes in his piece The Windows of Heaven Revisited, "an interesting mixture of fact and fiction characterizes the faith-promoting focus of the film."

First off, the viewer is given the distinct impression when watching this film that it was somehow the faithlessness of the members that was to blame for the Church being in such dire financial straits. In reality, most of the fault was the result of poor management decisions within the Church leadership at Salt Lake. A good part of the problem, of course, was that the United States government had seized temple square and everything owned by the Church valued above $50,000. But even without the government's "help," the Church hierarchy, prior to Lorenzo Snow taking office, had created more than their share of problems that were now putting the very survival of the Church in jeopardy. Jay Bell reports:
First, the Church had overspent itself for some time. Wilford Woodruff, anxious to complete the Salt Lake Temple in his lifetime, had spent $1 million to complete the $4 million edifice in 1893. Educational and civic responsibilities also drained the budget. The Church was supporting Young College in Logan, Brigham Young Academy in Provo, and the Latter-day Saint College in Salt Lake. The national depression from 1893 through the latter half of the decade had increased the number of Saints in dire need of welfare. Furthermore, the Church invested heavily in local power, mining, sugar, and salt companies, trying to stimulate regional employment. According to Michael Quinn, the primary cause of the Church's indebtedness was "massive losses in the Church's interlocked mining, sugar, real estate, banking, and investment firms." As early as 1893, the Church began borrowing to meet its obligations, first from stake presidents and eventually from such "outside" institutions as Wells Fargo & Co., and National Union Bank.
Second, the Church maintained little fiscal supervision. Snow had been alarmed, on assuming the presidency, to discover that no budgetary controls existed. Decisions about using Church funds were made ad hoc on an as-needed basis. (Journal of Mormon History, Volume 20, No. 1, 1994)
Third, tithing receipts were down, and they had been down ever since the Quorum had changed the rules without authorization from God back in August 1844, when they announced the requirement of a tenth of all one's posessions at baptism, another tenth of all possessions upon arriving in Utah, and a perpetual tenth every year thereafter. Many members contributed only as much as they could afford, and a good number just gave up and stopped trying altogether. And of course, there was that little practice of the Brethren "borrowing" tithing funds for their personal use. The Church was in need of a tithing reformation, and Lorenzo Snow was the right guy at the right time.

Snow cancelled the requirement to give a tenth of one's property at baptism. Henceforth, tithing would consist of one tenth of one's annual income (and yes, everyone at the time knew what "income" meant). Tithing receipts immediately and dramatically increased. He instituted strict controls and oversight to eliminate tithing being justified to increase allowances to members of the quorum.

Of course, none of that was mentioned in the movie. An actual liberty taken by the movie was the idea that Lorenzo Snow called the people of St.George to repentance for slacking off on their tithing payments. On the contrary, according to newspaper accounts, "his remarks were mainly eulogistic of the people of this section of the country of their tithes and offerings, giving them the name of being the best tithe-payers and most faithful stake in the Church." (ibid, pg 63)

And though he did speak about tithing, Snow exhibited no dramatic revelation received in the middle of his talk, and he did not promise rain if the people would pay their tithing. In fact, contrary to the main message of the movie, there was no connection made whatsoever between the drought and tithing. Good thing, too, because it would have been embarrassing. There was a little bit of rain here and there over the next three years, but the drought cycle didn't end in St. George until three years later.

Nothing President Snow said in his talk concerned promises or blessings or windows opening or rain coming down or rivers being filled or harvests being reaped. His remarks all centered on what the Lord had said in Section 119: that unless the Saints were willing to properly observe the law of tithing, they would not be found worthy to be a Zion people. Snow stressed this point over and over in all his speaking engagements throughout his tour of Southern Utah, and again in Idaho and along the Wasatch Front after he returned home.

If parents would teach their children to pay tithing, he promised, "then we will have a people prepared to go to Jackson county." He declared that the Christ was coming soon but that the Church congregation would "not hear the voice of God until we pay [a] full tithing and return to Jackson County." Lorenzo Snow clearly understood the meaning of the law of tithing, even if those who commissioned the film about him did not.

So I had been tricked. Once again a movie "based on a true story" had manipulated me into believing something that simply wasn't so.

I understand dramatic license, but was it necessary to change the very moral of the story? Rather than be upfront about how Lorenzo Snow had cleaned up the financial abuses coming out of Salt Lake that had contributed to the deficit, and showing how he motivated the Saints to become re-enthused about the proper payment of tithes, the 20th century Church leaders who oversaw the production of this movie felt it necessary to get the audience to come to a completely false conclusion. It was the old "Blessing Bait & Switch," the presumption those in power seem to have that we will only come around if they can sell us on the idea that there is something in it for us.

Why is it, I wonder, that Church leaders seem to think we have to be bribed with the promise of future blessings to get us to observe this law in its simplicity? Isn't it enough that God gives us His instructions? Are we children, who must be coddled and coaxed with promises of toys and candy in order to get us to do the right thing?

There was, of course, a very good reason why the Church rushed this film into production when it did. In 1961 the LDS Church found itself once again on the very brink of bankruptcy, this time due to another rash of foolish "investments." The only thing that would save the Church now was more tithing money coming in; lots of it, and fast. What better way to raise the needed funds than to schedule church-wide showings of a movie designed to inspire the membership to open their wallets and purses like never before?

But instead of telling the story straight, which would have been inspiring on its own merits, the Brethren wanted to make sure the members were given a promise the Lord himself never gave: if you support us, you will be rewarded.

I wonder why it is that in every talk I hear about tithing from the Brethren, the speaker seems to think I won't respond unless he dangles a carrot in front of me? They constantly promise us blessings if we pay our tithing, and lately they have been hinting that if we pay more than a tenth we can expect even more blessings.  Almost every time I hear a talk about tithing, the speaker is fudging or prevaricating in order to entice me into obedience. And if you don't think some of the Brethren are above lying outright in order misrepresent the law of tithing, then I suggest you take a look at this piece. Scroll down to Appendix B to follow Apostle Jeffrey Holland's deliberate attempts at subterfuge.

I don't know about you, but for me, simply having the desire to do the Lord's will is enticement enough. I shouldn't have to be bribed and babied along. No wonder there is a groundswell of cynicism within the church about all this. And if you scratch an ex-Mormon, you'll likely find endless tales of deprivation and broken promises beneath.

Time For Another Tithing Reformation?
Lorenzo Snow hated debt and he hated that the Church was in debt. He himself bore no responsibility for the Church's former years of profligacy, but he was the first to admit that Church leadership as a whole was largely accountable for the current mess. Snow presided over the cleanup at Church headquarters, initiating what has been called a Tithing Reformation. As the members recommitted to doing their part, Snow made sure the books were transparent. The members were given a full accounting every April as to what their tithes were being used for, so they could voice approval and give their consent as required by D&C sections 26 and 104.

This practice of financial transparency continued until the late 1950's, when First Counselor Henry Moyle's reckless and embarrassing spending spree brought the Church once again to the brink of bankruptcy. (Tellingly, it was only when it was discovered that there might not be enough money on hand to make payroll that the Twelve suddenly pricked up their ears and started paying attention.)

Ever since that close call, the leadership in Salt Lake has stubbornly refused to provide financial accountability to the members, hiding behind the excuse that, this being the Lord's money, it should be of no concern to the meek and lowly members how the Lord decides to spend it.  For over half a century, and in direct defiance of God's clear instructions, the leadership of the Church has kept the membership -the very people who provided the tithes in the first place- completely in the dark as to how those tithes were used. Those who have control of the funds remain accountable only to themselves.

But Church funds are not the special province of the leaders, they belong to the church community as a whole. They are only held in trust by the leaders, who have been specifically directed not to keep the Church's financial dealings secret from the members. As Paul Toscano, former Associate Editor at the Ensign Magazine wrote way back in 1991:
We are likely to be told that if we believe our leaders are called of God then why don’t we trust them with the church’s wealth? This question, however, can be turned around: If we are the people of God, why can’t we be trusted with an accounting? Trust, I suspect, is not the real issue here. The issue is control. Church leaders are like many of our parents and their generation who believe that their children should know little or nothing about the family’s finances. The problem with this view is that our leaders are not our parents. We have heavenly parents. Our leaders are our elder siblings, who, it seems, are tempted to generate policies that tend to lull many of their more compliant brothers and sisters into complacency, inexperience, and unhealthy dependency. (From "Silver and Gold Have I None," Chapter Six of The Sanctity of Dissent.)
A growing number of members are now beginning to wonder if it is not past time for another Tithing Reformation.

But if we are to have such a reformation, the Church is going to need a leader like Lorenzo Snow to clean house. Good luck finding one. Today there does not seem to be anyone numbered among the Twelve who possesses Snow's caliber of character and leadership.  By and large, those running the Church today are descended from the legacy of Eldon Tanner, who took over Church finances and brought with him a team of corporate lawyers and managers whose experiences in the the world of corporate finance have been credited with turning the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into one of the most successful institutions on earth, religious or otherwise. But if you're looking for another Lorenzo Snow in this group, you may have to look harder. Maybe there's someone coming up through the ranks of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, I don't know.

When we hear about tithing these days, we don't hear the things Lorenzo Snow taught about God's divine law. What we hear from this bunch usually consists of lectures on how we little people need to work harder and contribute more of our share. Meanwhile, much of what we have already donated has been given over to "investments," with the profits derived therefrom used to build lavish hotels and shopping centers -hardly what one would think of as appropriate venues for a church. We watch as the men called to serve us are driven about in limousines provided by our tithes, with full time chauffeurs paid for with our tithes, yet when we complain that we don't have enough gas money to get ourselves to work, our concerns are dismissed with admonishments to have more faith and pay more tithes so that the Lord will bless us with abundance as he has blessed them.

A growing number of Saints are beginning to ask themselves if it is appropriate to continue to tithe for the support of servants who refuse to be accountable to the people they serve.  They wonder if it might not be more appropriate at this time to tithe directly to the Lord, rather than to the institutional Church.

These are valid questions, and ones to which I don't have answers. It seems clear from a reading of section 119 that the tithes are to be given to the Church, but on the other hand, if the tithes are not being used as intended, has the law been nullified? Are we then free to give our tithes where we feel they will be put to better and more responsible use?  In addition to being a procedural law, section 119 also appears to be a covenant. If the leaders have broken the everlasting covenant as the Book of Mormon prophets foretold they would (Mormon 8:38 for one example), maybe now all bets are off.

Let's look at the scoreboard. While it's true that our tithes continue to be used for the construction of temples around the world, many of the temples already finished are not being used to capacity. Reports are that there are not enough visitors in some temples to hold regularly scheduled sessions. And then there is the catch-22 that bars members not current on their payments from entering the temple. (Not a policy based on doctrine, by the way, but only a whim once expressed by John Taylor that morphed over the decades into an ironclad rule.) As fewer members elect to provide the amount of tithes the modern leaders insist upon, there will be fewer members attending the temples, and thus less need for more temples to be built.

As for  tithes being used for "the laying of the foundation of Zion," it's anybody's guess whether that is still held up as a priority. Once again, we would know if only the leaders provided us with a yearly report.  What we do know is that members living in other countries are now instructed not to gather to Zion, even though the imperative to do so is a primary article of our faith.

There is not much question about whether some of our tithes go to "pay the debts of the presidency of [the] Church." From all appearances, the tithes appear to cover that, and then some.

I personally know several devout members who continue to recognize the importance of paying a faithful tithe, but do not feel compelled to deliver those tithes to the corporate Church at this time. They choose instead to disburse their tithes where they feel that money will do the most good. That might mean giving directly to individuals in need, or it might be given to a food bank or other group that is directly involved with assisting those less fortunate.

Certainly Latter-day Saints can contribute as much as they desire to the Fast Offering fund, but even there we have reason to wonder if any funds contributed to the Church for a specific purpose will end up where the giver intended. By now most of us are aware of the disclaimer at the bottom of the new donation slips that notifies the giver that the Church reserves the right to put your money to whatever use the Corporate side of the Church decides.

If you prefer your tithes end up in the hands of fellow Latter-day Saints, I have been hearing good things about the Liahona Children's Foundation. One of my friends is heavily involved with this outfit, and he does a lot of good through it.

I find it unfortunate that large numbers of Latter-day Saints have stopped tithing completely, either to the Church or to anyone else, due to their frustration with current Church policy. That's why I applaud those who still feel a desire to pay a tenth to the Lord in whatever way they choose. My wife and I have been the recipients of some of these newly directed tithes, and, as I documented in my previous post, I felt no shame in accepting them with gratitude and thanksgiving.

We have never personally met any of the people who gave us that assistance. Every single one of them was unknown to us; strangers, every one. But at the time those much needed funds were delivered into my hands, I was privileged to feel an indescribable, palpable connection of the spirit between these givers and myself that at the time I was unable to put my finger on, or adequately understand. I think I can explain it now.

When we join together in the service of each other, sometimes we will be the givers, and other times receivers. But even as strangers, if we lift each other up, we become part of a renewed community of one in Christ. The way Paul the Apostle described it was that we were now "no more strangers and foreigners."  I now know how to describe what that feeling was that connected me and Connie to those distant brothers and sisters who raised us up in their love. It felt like Zion.
Related Posts:

How to Calculate What You Owe in Tithing

Of Alms and Offerings

When Tithing Settlement Goes Horribly Wrong

Next: "City Creek: How Did We Come To This?"

Update, December 14, 2012:
In light of the controversy stirred up by reader Weston Krogstadt, who objects in the comment section below to my use of a certain photograph, another reader has kindly provided a "corrected" version of that picture. I trust this revised photo will meet with Brother Krogstadt's approval.

Update January 30, 2013: For those seeking a worthy cause to contribute to, my friend Ryan Fisk has provided this video featuring a loving LDS family who could use a few bucks to accomplish something good for five orphaned sisters. I've kicked in a few bucks. If this project touches your heart, maybe you'd like to assist too. 

The website where you can donate is here:

Update May 10, 2013: I was recently asked to participate on a panel to discuss the the topic of tithing for the Mormon Stories Sunday School. As it turned out, the moderator, Jared Anderson, had forgotten to push the record button, and since it was too late for a redo (the podcast had to get out before that Sunday's scheduled lesson for church), Jared and Bonnie Flint went to the mike and recapped the discussion. Hard to believe I'm saying this, since I do like the sound of my own voice, but their summary of the discussion turned out better than the discussion itself. As far as I'm concerned, it's the definitive historical and theological last word on the subject, and everyone who wishes an understanding of tithing from biblical times onward owes it to themselves not to miss this. Here's the link:



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Anonymous said...

Absolutely spot on! Have done much research over the past little while, and this post validates everything I was able to find in the scriptures. That simple Gospel is what we are to live and teach, the Gospel found in the Book of Mormon and the Bible(D&C 42:12).

Steven Lester said...

Actually, to my way of thinking, the President shouldn't be paid anything at all because, as you pointed out in a previous entry, HE is the Church according to the law of the land, HE owns everything the Church owns or possesses, meaning that HE is probably the wealthiest man on earth, bar none. The Church is a "sole" Corporation, meaning that HE and the Church are the same. We should always remember that.

As to that photo of that guy who was sitting outside Deseret Books for 8 hours and not receiving a dime in aid, one should remember that he is merely another victim of Hinckley's remark that we should give anything to such people because they are helped by the various safety nets that government and foundations provide. How dare they beg before us, in other words, when they have such places to go where they will hidden from us. Another Hinckley anti-Christian comment of his.

And the film which when I saw it had the same effect on me as it did you, Rock. Guess who was in charge of producing that film and all of the films of the time? My friend and yours, the "slave" of the Twelve, Mr Hinckley himself. No man has done more to stray the Church, except for Tanner perhaps, than Hinckley, in all of his guises. Even today, the Twelve and The First Presidency merely mirror what that man's mind came up with. He was the greatest enemy of the Church that It has seen during the last three generations, and like Brigham, will effect generations to come for a long, long time. A suit-wearing devil-wolf in sheep's clothing.

And no, I still have no desire ever to return to the Church.

Steven Lester said...

I meant to say: we should give NOTHING to such people.

radiobeloved said...

I agree with the interpretation and exercise of tithing as you've presented it here, Rock, and I like how you didn't have to rely on Orson Hyde quotes and other trivia to support it. My family tithes our surplus, and starting immediately after doing it we started receiving financial blessings (whether or not Malachi's words apply to the priests or the members!).

The question I have is how to present this information to new and prospective members. I don't broadcast my views because I don't want to jeopardize my temple recommend (craven? either way), but I have a hard time standing by while false doctrine is taught to those who have recently received a witness and are coming in to learn from the Lord's servants. What have you tried in this regard?

Ryann said...

Brilliant post. I love how you not only give your opinion but back it up with cited sources. I agree that we need to help those around us rather than blindly give to the LDS church without any accountability. I have changed my thinking and have been more generous to those in need around me. Again, absolutely loved reading this. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

An excellent bit of writing with good research. I'm torn: right now I'm paying essentially zero tithing because my budget does not allow it. (We bought an expensive house.) That is to say, our budget does not provide for a 10% gross or even net tithe. On the other hand, I would be more than happy to pay 10% of our funds remaining after housing and food expenses go out, which is actually a pretty substantial amount of money.

Problem is, I have no incentive to do so in the current system. If I pay the partial amount and am asked by my bishop if I'm paying a full tithe, assuming that he is asking about the current institutional definition of tithing, then my answer has to be "no." Doesn't get me a temple recommend AND carries all the frustrations about how tithing money is spent by the church. Giving 10% of my surplus funds to charity (which I already do, more or less) is a laudable cause, but I don't feel like I can use that giving to state that I pay a full tithe. Result: since a partial tithe doesn't get me any "credit" with the church in a all-or-nothing system, I just don't pay much besides fast offerings.

I would welcome reform on this matter.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well, I guess one way to spread the word is to forward this post to any member you feel could use it.

As far as your temple recommend interview, if you believe you are a full tithe payer, no one else is authorized to dispute it. If questioned, refer the questioner to the 1970 statement of the First Presidency.

Gavin said...

Anonymous makes a great point. If the bishop asks us if we are a full tithe payer and we are according to scripture, but would not be under the definition the bishop is using, is it being dishonest to state "yes?" I know the bishop can't ask for clarification or more information, but it would feel weird being sly with the bishop. what do you think?

Rob said...

My take on the matter is that charitable giving is excluded from discretionary expenses. You are providing the means to survive to another human being (provided you give to good charities). How is that optional? By this definition you can reduce your discretionary income to the point where giving a full 10% of your discretionary income is fair, because it's about your share of the utilities and upkeep of your local building. Then you are square with the church, and square with the Lord, and honest with yourself. Plus, you are helping people that really need it. My 2 cents.

Rob said...

I have considered this. I wrote a post about the temple recommend questions here: http://upwardthought.blogspot.com/2012/06/temple-recommend-questions.html

I think, at the end of the day, you are not going to your Bishop to maintain your status in a man's organization. You go because the Bishop is the guy who gets the tithing. Whether scriptural or not, I go to the Bishop as a representative of the Lord to tell him, "Yep, I'm doing exactly what you [the Lord] have told me to do." If you are going to the Bishop as a man to preserve your status in a man's organization, who really cares. See my point?

Rob said...

Great post, Rock. Thank you for writing it.

Abigail said...

Another insightful examination, Rock. I've been struggling with the tithing issue for a while now. First, I see no need for tithing settlement. I already declare myself "justified" by my keeping of the law when I seek a temple recommend, why do I need to do it again? (Just let that description sink in for a sec. Are we really declaring ourselves justified by law keeping?!)

When local congregations were responsible for building funds, welfare farms, and missionaries, there was a reason for gathering to discuss the local ward or stake's immediate needs however the practice is now rendered obsolete by the centralization of all funds and general dispersing of monies. So I skip TS every year.

Second, our overly zealous young bishop is now reprimanding ward members who don't pay their tithing as soon as they receive any income. If you pay quarterly, annually, or on some schedule that doesn't align with your paycheck, prepare to be called to repentance. One wonders if he's ever thoughtfully read section 119.

And then, a week ago, my elderly visiting teacher smiled at me as I acknowledged being "behind" on paying my tithing and said "Don't forget to pay your tithing! It's what gets you into the temple!" This is a life-long member and temple worker. I almost bit through my lip as I kept myself from telling her that she was echoing a refrain I've heard from numerous disaffected and former members.

Keep in mind, I've never paid less than a full tithe. Never. Even when the money has been sitting in my account for weeks or months because Sundays are hectic and I forget my checkbook. Apparently, in the absence of some legitimate reason for which to threaten my claim on God's good grace and mercy (i.e. fire insurance), I'm now being admonished to pay it at more regular intervals than even God demands. Annual doesn't mean annual. Increase doesn't mean increase. Income doesn't mean income.

All I can do is shake my head.

Anonymous said...

I would not trust or think righteous or believe he was a true disciple of Christ, let alone give money to, any man who steps in line (salaried church leaders) in front of the widows and the fatherless, that are usually ignored and neglected by such men also. Especially not men who have their bank accounts full of savings, a successful career, and live in a more expensive than average home.

Yet sadly and appallingly, this is what I see continually before me in the Church, while women and children suffer horrendously and are ignored by just such men who even expect those suffering women and children to continue to support them in their high lifestyles and salaries. There are not words to express how evil that is.

I believe all men in the Church and especially leadership (as examples), even the Prophet, should support him & his family himself, as did King Benjamin. If a male leader is truly disabled and unable to support himself or his wife can't either, then he should rely on his extended family to support him, and if they can't or won't, then he should get in line with all the other poor & needy, but 'never' before widows and single mothers, who 'never' should have to work and who always should be completely supported by men, especially leaders of the Church.

A church leader's or Prophet's role is 1st & foremost to protect and provide for women, in his family, friends and church and nation. No Church leader can be righteous and maintain the Spirit or Priesthood while cutting in line before struggling widows or accepting money from such struggling widows and fatherless (single mothers), let alone using such money for the leader's own support.

God commands men and leaders to give money to struggling widows and single mothers, not take or accept money from them as tithing, etc., only to 'maybe' give it back to them, 'IF' the leader is even righteous to be willing to totally support widows & single mothers, which is very rare that a leader would.

I believe God does not expect or want anyone to pay tithing if they don't have any excess and are struggling to cover the basics themselves. If they are struggling then they are exempt from helping the poor, for they are the poor, and they are to take care of their own families needs 1st before any other poor.

If a poor person is on their own and doesn't have children or a wife to take care of and they would rather give their last dime or dinner to some other poor person, then that is wonderful and fine, for they don't sin it doing so. But I believe it is a sin to cause their own wife or children to suffer cause they gave their last dime(s) away to others who shouldn't have come before their 1st priority.

So I believe the statement in the current Ensign 'about paying tithing 1st instead of feeding your family' or paying for basic needs', completely false doctrine and is leading poor blind souls to do evil, which they will be held accountable for, because they did not have the Spirit to detect utterly false doctrine and false prophets and thus they caused their loved ones to go without and suffer. That is not the Lord's way.

Anyone who truly knows Christ and his doctrines will detect such devilish doctrines.

Fred W. Anson said...

And to be fair ...

"If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing."
(Aaron L. West, Sacred Transformations, December 2012)

...I've heard this exact same nonsense from fellow Evangelicals.

This article is an excellent case study of how tithing can be corrupted by well meaning but misguided leaders. There are lessons to be learned on BOTH sides of the divide in regard to tithing in my opinion and this article is about as good a case study as one could hope for IMHO!

I only hope that my some of my Evangelical brethren will read this and then go look in the mirror!

Well done Rock.

radiobeloved said...

Nice. I will keep it bookmarked for reference.

I suppose what I mean by not broadcasting my views is that I recognize that as a member (nonleader) of the church, I am effectively disenfranchised. We are instructed to not go above the stake level in contacting authorities, yet if poor decisions are made at the stake level we are left without recourse. That's a whole other discussion, of course, but my experience in seeing ward- and stake-level authority deeply abused leaves me unlikely to trust in the capacity of most bishops to discern obedience from pharisaism, nor in the capacity of the stake-level organization to protect its members in all cases. So if the bishop doesn't think I'm paying my tithing based on public comments, even if I can point to an old letter, I'm not certain that the fallout would leave me with a recommend (in the case of a hard-line bishop).

Anna said...

In Canada, all charity tax information is public. There are laws in Canada about how charitable organizations are allowed to allocate funds outside of the country. Therefor, most of the money collected by LdS churches here is not sent to church headquarters in Salt Lake City. It is sent to BYU. Interesting, huh?

"In both United Kingdom and Canada, The Corporation of the President (official name for the LDS Church) is required to release financial data.

The Canada Revenue Agency (http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/) has recently updated the figures to reflect 2010.

The most frightening factor is that between 2009 and 2010, the top paid LD$ employee got a $50,000 dollar raise and there are 10 General Authorities who make from 120 - 199,000 thousand dollars!

Canadian members should be angry that the bulk of their money is going to subsidize tuition at BYU. In 2009, 40 Million was sent to BYU, and in 2010, that figure ballooned to 102 million.

Total tithing receipts in Canada for 2010 approached 151 Million. Calculating it all out, top PAID employee salaries and BYU that accounted for 77% of the total tithing!

Here are the links for your study:




http://tinyurl.com/72juppk "


Alan Rock Waterman said...

This, of course is the kind of problems we find when the church shifts from a community of believers where no one ranks above another, to a corporate, top-down organization as it is today.

The answer to a bishop regarding whether you are a full tithepayer, if you consider yourself one, would be yes. He must accept that answer, because the First Presidency says so. direct him to the Church Handbook.

Still, we can't control those who wish to keep us under control, so some of us just have to accept that we won't be going to the temple. That, though, would be on the heads of those who righteously block our entry.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I agree, Rob. I had meant to mention something to that regard in the post, that we should not necessarily wait until we have nothing left but our interest before we give to those in need. I think a good rule of thumb would be to give 10 percent of one's gross earnings right off the top for charitable purposes, and then only 10 percent of one's surplus/increase to the Church. The Church should never receive or demand to be given more than one provided to the needy.

And that's my two cents.

Curtis Penfold said...

Somebody should take this blog and give it to the First Presidency, please. I would love to see their reaction.

Anybody up for an anti-current-tithe-system petition?

Carey Foushee said...

You can also just set up Bill Pay through your banking and it accomplishes the same thing with respect to the Bishop not getting a printout. You do have a record of it with SLC however, as you must first submit some form to get it approved. I've been using this method for years now using Wells Fargo online bill pay.

Wow -- I just googled to get the link information that I used last time and it appears the church is discouraging this method.
See http://mormonlifehacker.com/pay-your-tithing-online/

Carey Foushee said...

Further reading on that site indicates that some banks mail a check rather pay electronically which why they are discouraging it -- so I guess your mileage may vary depending on how your bank processes it. Read the comments in the link above to learn more.

Anonymous said...

It is so evil that any leader of the Church, prophet or G.A would get a dime, let alone such a ridiculous salary, (and what's worse is that most all G.A.'s seem to have plenty of savings and ability to earn or live off their own money), while there are countless widows and singles mothers and their children who suffer horribly because these mothers must go to work and leave their homes & children.

I believe these Church leaders that receive salaries and other monies from the Church are not only stealing from God but also from the widows and the fatherless and all the other truly needy in the Church.

How can people read the Book of Mormon and think that these men could ever be righteous or that this is God's Church anymore, or that it's ok for prophets or church leaders or anyone to receive salaries in a Church or any money, unless they truly are disabled and have no family to take care of them.

I do not believe that 'salaries' for Church leaders is what the Lord mean't when instructing Joseph about tithing. I don't believe 'debts of the First Presidency' have anything to do with giving them money for their own personal support. King Benjamin was very clear that he didn't expect the people to support him and he had as much to do as any Prophet since him.

Righteous men, let alone true prophets & Apostles, don't take care of their own needs and wants out of Church funds, and especially not before making sure that the women & children in their midst who are suffering and going without are taken care of as much as the leaders want to be.

Do the leaders of the Church give all the struggling single mothers in the Church the same amount of money as they take for themselves? No.

Christ said you tell his true disciples by their 'love', which is manifested in providing for and protecting women & children above all else, even themselves.

I must say I was not surprised to hear that Brigham Young and his gang quickly changed the tithing rules, that man and his supporters just get worse & worse the more you learn about him and the other church leaders since him.

Anonymous said...

Part 2 -

Rock, I really appreciate your post and all your research in this subject, for I really learned alot, though it only disgusted me more to learn about the Church's tithing practices & salaries for leaders since Brigham Young.

How cush for BY and other church leaders & Presidents to not only indulge themselves in the perk of shacking up with as many young women as they desired, but all the while have the lowly blind members support them in their abusive adulterous whoredoms. They must have laughed themselves silly thinking the members were so dumb to go along with it all.

For I believe BY and all the other church leaders since him 'knew/know' they were/are doing evil with the salary system from tithes, (while ignoring the sufferings of the widows & fatherless) and that all the other evils & whoredoms like polygamy were wrong too, that they have endulged in and still support today. For I believe all of the Presidents & leaders of the Church knew/know that Christ, Joseph Smith & the BoM were/are against polygamy and all the other evils they do and that such things are all an abomination.

The history of the Church just gets sicker and sicker the more you study it. Thank goodness we know that not all members in Nauvoo were so blindly unrighteous & easily duped to support Brigham Young's pride & personal perks. Yet so many still are today.

If we want to really be Christlike and help the Lord we will do as Christ taught, and use our surplus money and supplies to seek to alleviate the sufferings of the widows and single mothers (fatherless) around us directly, before anyone one else. We all know more widows and single mothers among our family and friends then we could probably ever take care of.

For Christ taught that the main reason for having a Church in the 1st place or the 'essence' of religion was to teach people to take care of the widows & the fatherless. Anything we do before that or instead of that, even building churches or temples, will not save us or them.

John Cox said...

There is a lot of good in this article. I feel this article has it's roots nourished by the "Fountain of Truth." I am impressed that if more people would understand the law of tithing as presented in this article it would do a great deal to strengthen them and bring them closer to the Lord.
That said I am troubled by the seed of discord and mistrust. I have seen such a seed (in other places) sprout and grow into a choking weed strangling out the light of truth with frustration, anger, and even hatred. This article seems to portray the leadership of the church as conspiritorial and manipulative, suggesting for instance that President Monson suggested we pay more than 10% for additional blessings. When in truth that Ensign article said nothing more than this very article:
"To know that a poor man consistently and cheerfully gave at least twice a tenth to the Lord gave one a clearer insight into the true meaning of tithing. To see him minister to the hungered and take in the stranger made one know that he did it as he would do to the Master."

If you want to give directly to the Lord, the scriptures tell us in several places how best to go about doing that:

"I was hungry and you gave me meat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison and you came unto me. Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me." (Matthew 25:35,36, 40)
"When you are in the service of your fellow beings you are only in the service of your God." (Mosiah 2:17)

President Monson didn't mean that the man gave a double tithe, he very clearly meant that in addition to the tenth he gave in tithing he gave at least that much in feeding the hungry and other charitable activities.

I think a lot of your concern over whether tithing is being spent properly would be resolved if you ever got a financial calling. Having served in such a position myself let me assure you that tithing is spent on just what it ought to be, and just what church publications say they are spent on. Manuals, Church Facilities, Utilities, Missionary Work ect.. Fast offering is spent on feeding the poor (well feeding, and providing what ever other necessities they may need.) Surplus money in any of these areas is sent up to the stake level to be redistibuted to wards with less than needed. Surplus in Stakes are sent to Salt Lake to be redistributed to stakes in need. I have seen the finances in action in wards and stakes that have surplus, and in wards and stakes who had need of that surplus.

John Cox said...

By the by, I have never seen a Prophet of this church in a limosine with a chauffeur, I have however seen President Hinkley in a nondiscript car driving himself.

Anonymous said...

I would not worry about keeping your recommend, I would worry about proving that the whole 'temple thing' (ordinances, etc.) are even a true & righteous thing and from Joseph Smith. For I have never seen any proof that he wrote or meant for the temple ceremony to even be written. It appears that Joseph mean't for the temple to be used as a main meeting house, for non-members and members alike, including children.

It appears to be again, like polygamy, only from unproven hearsay from Brigham Young that the temple ceremony and use was authorized by Joseph.

There are definitely many falsehoods taught in the temple that BY put in there, because he believed in such vile philosphies of men. Things that Joseph called evil and folly and said we shouldn't listen to.

What does it matter if one gains a temple recommend but loses their soul because it was all inspired and instigated by evil men, like Brigham Young. I would be more concerned to make sure even having a recommend is not evil.

God commands us to 'prove all things' and only hold fast to that which is true and right and good. We are not to just take even a Prophet's words for it, for he may be a false prophet, or a true prophet who is wrong, as even Joseph Smith was at times.

How much abuse and evil do church leaders have to do and support before people will start waking up and realizing that wicked abusive adulterous men like Brigham Young and the other early leaders, could never have continued the true church, or retained or passed on the Priesthood, or keys or authority or even have been true prophets?

Why don't we study and believe the proven words of Joseph Smith and Christ instead of worrying about satisfying the evil whims of clearly unrighteous and blind church leaders today?

The truth will set us free (from the web of falsehoods that have us bound), but only those who are unafraid of the truth will find it.

Anonymous said...

As a bishop, I'm going to start sharing this view of tithing with those in my ward. Rock, yet again you've produced a masterpiece!

I think a correct understanding of tithing is essential to help us return to building Zion. We have so many needy here and I would love to see people donate mostly fast offerings, or even better, give their money and substance directly to the poor and needy.

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Really some things to think about in this post. Here in UT there is a groundswell of discontent about the City Creek Mall ($1.5B) built by the church from money derived from the tithing funds of members. The ads posted all along the freeways are of models in sleeveless dresses with wine glasses. Pretty lame. My first impression...we went to see the new mall and as we rounded a corner inside the mall I found myself looking right at the SL Temple up close...the thought instantly came to mind..."Wow, they've built a 3-ring circus right next door to the Temple".
The whole tithing settlement (and also fast offering collections) farce is way archaic and out of touch with reality. My 12 yo Deacon son tells me that often they collect nothing for their efforts to canvass their assigned portion of the ward on foot on Fast Sunday because everyone pays F.O. with their tithing. Just busy work for 12 year olds I guess.
There's so much of this in the church today. Mindless nonsense perpetuated in the name of "following the brethren".

Ron Madson said...

John, I really do not believe that church leaders or anyone that I know of games the system (there might be but I am not aware of it) to their own benefit. The problem is deeper and more systemic. the problem is that we have strayed far, far away from the fundamentals of tithing. Tithing, like much of our "more or less" added or taken away we were warned not to do with his pure gospel was taken from the Old Testament (like polygamy, etc). Fine. NOthing inherently wrong with that. However, years ago when watching a program on the origins of Tithing in the OT I learned that it was instituted in order to provide for the least, the widow, the hireling, and the oppressed. The tithes were to be gathered and kept local for wants and needs and rejoicing one year; another year for the widow and the very least and then only a third for the Priesthood, and even then the priesthood was to take to storehouse to be used for the community and NOT be used to amass lands, holdings and such for a "rainy day"---that was definitely not trusting in the Lord. In fact, the model was one of "fishes and loaves" to be given as manna without concern for tomorrow. But we gentiles have a deeper problem. We had done the very robbing that Malachi speaks of by doing the same thing the Levite priesthood/church did in time of prophets when they were condemned and also when Jesus said they had made of his house a den of robbers who sought payment to have access to the temple. Members of our faith are very, very generous and giving. We use fast offerings to succor the poor, but we filter it through a non-doctrinal "self reliance" test that goes too far in most cases (I know I was a Bishop for six years and was "trained" to be "careful"). I have no problem teaching ways to get out of poverty but the reality is that we could unleash a tidal wave of support if so much of what we have was not invested in dozens of for profit entities that wake up each day seeking to get as much $ as possible and spend as little as possible. An institution does not amass 80 to 100 billion if it is not practicing some of the same errors that the prophets in the OT condemned them of doing in their time. yes, it is still his people and He works with us, but does not follow that we have not used it to grind face of poor---no eternal family for you unless you pay even if you, unlike us comfortably wealthy where it is easy, go without basic necessities driving you further into debt and despair. We only hear the faith promoting stories and not the thousands that are driven into despair because we have long since placed a burden on them based on policies that are not scriptural -- I believe in tithing, sacrifice, consecration but not to be used to grind down the least. We should abandon the corporate model and reinstitute the locally controlled fish and loaves model and let the blessings be poured out without measure., IMO.

Anonymous said...

Great job. Thanks for the education and articulating that which I was unable to say. I may just pass this on to a member friend who is struggling paying her tithing. Thanks.

Steven Lester said...

As a Bishop, shouldn't you first check with your Stake President? You might not be Bishop for very long if what you say doesn't jibe with what he thinks is correct, whether it be correct or not.

Steven Lester said...

I'm still waiting for the Great and Powerful One to show up to correct all of these errors. I heard that his arrival was just around the corner, but I guess not. I guess all the ducks aren't in a row yet. Someday, by and by.

Jon said...

Just for the record. On a positive note. At the tithing settlement I went to last year the bishop did talk to us about the need for more fast offering money. It was talked about over the pulpit too, but we didn't increase our contribution until we were encouraged to give more in the tithing settlement (and he was encouraging everyone, I believe, that would go to the settlements). I think that is a good reason to go, to find out where the needs of the ward are, like for missionary funds, etc.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That is indeed encouraging, Jon.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone considered the idea that it is BECAUSE the LDS church is collecting fewer tithing donations that they are investing in worldly (Babylonian) ventures? Hence, the Mall, luxury tourist hotels, etc. When the First Presidency says they don't use tithing funds for those things, they may be close to right! Tithing=$ Babylon=$$$$$$$

Loved this article, Rock! Thanks for bringing a fresh perspective to the table. Winnie

Bryan Peifer said...

To sum up my response I'll just say this,

My family and I were treated as if we were parasites and as if the church was the giver of all things.

Now, you can read on if you want.

In all my life in the church, I've was convinced that if anything is wrong, it's you the member. The church is never wrong. Sorry if that sounds bad, but how can any organization or people project that type of image is beyond me.

I can remember when I was out of work for a long period of time. Was I lazy? No, like many other IT professionals who are older, job opportunities become slimmer. We always paid tithing no matter how little we were bringing in. Even when all we had was my wife's part-time paycheck and I had an unemployment check, we always paid tithing. Bottom line, we've always paid no matter what.

During this time we had a change in bishops. The previous bishop was very loving and compassionate. The new bishop pulled us into the office and silently we all sat there and he poured over paperwork. We were treated like we were loafers or sponges. We had used up all of our savings, 401k and eventually bankruptcy because we had no money except what little we were bringing in from our underpaying jobs. Believe me, we were grateful for our jobs and all that we were blessed with, but we were getting the feeling that we were no more than a bothersome gnat.

I know this sounds a little harsh, but when it gets burned into your mind as a "priesthood holder" and "patriarch" that you need to take care of your family and if you don't, you're worse than an infidel this can be a very trying time in the life of a family. I'm now beginning to understand why such a big deal is made about tithing. Guilt trips and telling people in the United States that those outside of the states pay more in tithing than we do. Look, I'm not sure who they're talking about but it sure ain't me!

As I read about the history of tithing, I've decided I'm going to make my own study of tithing. I'm going to look at the context of these scriptures in which they are placed. Because if there is any people that are the kings of proof-texting, it's...well, that wouldn't be fair. I was going to say Mormons, but it's any insecure religious person who wants to prove they're right and everybody else is wrong.

Sorry guys, I've not even read Rocks whole article and it's already got me going. I've only gotten half way through it. Talk to you guys later. Love all of you.

Arthur Ruger said...

Very well done my friend. Everything I would have wanted to write had I your skill. I've linked to this article in my own blog.

Todd said...

I've never seen the prophet at the grand opening of a three billion dollar mall, cut a ribbon, then tell everyone, "Let's Go Shopping!"...

Oh wait... scratch that, I have.

Todd said...

You have seen people do good things with tithing? Great! I am sure that happens.

On the other hand, if you have never seen the abuse of tithing then you are simply closing your eyes to the problem in front of you.

Yes, the people are typically great in the Church, but the framework is corrupt and dirty.

Todd said...

Uh... do that and I can guarantee you will soon not be a bishop. The church does not play nice when the mighty dollar is at stake.

Todd said...


Have you seen what is posted at CityCreekProject.com? It's pretty interesting to say the least.

Anonymous said...

So true, I've even considered that, (won't be bishop long) Then I read Ezekial today.
6 And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
7 And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious.

I need to speak God's word and not fear man.

Todd said...

I agree Ron.

I don't think the leaders are taking advantage of the system. The problem we have in the modern church comes from two basic elements, that when combined, have created a monster. These two elements are:

1. A membership that has been taught that they are NEVER to question the brethren. This naturally creates an environment where for a hundred years now leaders of the church have NEVER had to account for ANY of their actions (Not even Joseph was able to pull this off). In their minds and the minds of the members WHATEVER they do church wise is what God wants them to do. That is a VERY scary situation.

2. The habit the church has of calling leaders from successful business careers. These men have spent their entire lives being very good at making money. They then are "called" to positions of leadership over a church of 14 million people that NEVER call them to accountability. They naturally go on doing what they do best, which is making money and investing money. They simply cannot see that a church should NOT be involved in these things.

Unfortunately this will NEVER change until the average member finally reaches the point where he/she is willing to require accountability on the part of the leadership. Until that happens don't expect ANY changes.

WideAwake said...

I loved this post. I have been studying this topic in great detail, using only the scriptures, for the past year. I've accumulated some great information and understanding, most which cannot be shared in a public setting.

Something I've learned through this process that is worth considering—

Tithing is a process. (hence the suffix -ing)
Being tithed is a status with the Lord.

Never is money in the equation.

We rob God not of money, but of "meat" in his storehouse (Heb 5:13-14) and a "godly seed" (Malachi 2).
This is how only those who are tithed (STATUS) will not burn.

There are great mysteries within this for those who seek.

Bryan Peifer said...

I have been reading on and the comments I made before were made without having read further than a few paragraphs into "Plus, Plus Plus, Equals Over-Plus". Yes, yes and yes again. Really and I mean really read Malachi. I am partial to the New English Translation of the Bible and when you read Malachi in the NET version, it's really clear on who the Lord is talking to.

My question though is this. I've been led to believe that the presidency and other apostles get a allowance from the investments of the church, not the tithes. I've been told that they serve on the boards of corporations where the church holds stock. Is there anyone or any resource that can breakdown all of this stuff and give us the straight dope?

Dan Congram said...

It doesn't matter where their "allowance" comes from, as everything the church has ultimately orginated from tithing. It's just symantics, an accounting shell game.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thank you, Anna, for providing those numbers and links.

Truth Hurts said...


I've always appreciated this article from an Old Testament perspective. It offers many of the same thoughts you do, but does so using the Old Testament. Phenomenal resource, if you ask me.

The Truth About Tithing - Old Testament Perspective

From that, after delineating the scriptural uses for tithing (and tearing down all the false pretenses churches use to enforce the 10% rule), I glean but one statement:

"I understand that all churches are not well off financially, yet it should not be an excuse for the preachers to resort to dishonest teaching in order to get extra funds. Can you imagine a person in a secular job resorting to a dishonest method for getting some extra money to feed his family? He would end up on the wrong side of the law and, in all probability, in jail. Yet, in our Christian world, it appears that dishonest gain is OK, as long as it is used for the 'advancement of the kingdom of God'. I believe that an offering to God gained in a dishonest way is considered unclean and an abomination and not acceptable to Him."

Truth Hurts said...


Here's an article that says just what you're referring to. THe D&C obviously doesn't offer the same reasoning, but I still think it's quite instructive.

Old Testament Tithing - Perspective

Truth Hurts said...

Maybe not a limo, but certainly a chauffeured car and a private jet. In fact, the jet that flies them wherever they want to go.

The Huntsman Jet President Monson Flies In

Anonymous said...


Wow. What an amazing article. It's the only view of tithing that even makes sense. It is logical and empowering. I would have rejected this kind of article a few years ago because at the time I would have treated any modern day utterance of a General Authority (or even Stake President/Bishop) to be the ultimate word on the subject. As I became a little more "enlightened", I realised that these (mostly) good men have taken a few liberties with the word of God and are not infallible. This has allowed me to use my own reason/inspiration to search for the truth. Articles like this one are just spot on.

Ben said...

My comment seconds what Elder Anderson said in Conference, essentially that the Brethren are teaching the doctrines as they should be taught today. If you want to know the gospel, you know where to find int.


Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for that link, Truth Hurts. Very insightful.

Readers may be interested in the incredible three part series on Church Finances provided at the Truth Hurts blog. I consider it essential reading:


Anonymous said...


No matter what 'Church pile of cash' the church leaders get their 'allowance' or earnings from, they shouldn't be receiving any money at all. They should be serving for free like the rest of us. They should not get to benefit or make money off of their callings and high positions, while the rest of the Church, especially the needy don't have such advantages, as to get to be famous & write books that sell or be in their high position to invest in church related corporations and make tons of money off those investments.

Such things are only proof that they are using their church positions to make money, when they should be using their time and 'personal' money to help the poor, not make money off what the poor give them.

It astounds me that any church leader, let alone weathy ones, would receive a penny from the Church. Well, actually I am not surprised because the Church is so far gone into apostasy and it's leaders are so corrupt, that I'm surprised it still does as much good as it does, I attribute that to the good and honorable members who are just to blind to see their deception. And I'm sure the leaders do some good things still in order 'to look good' and keep up the front.

But few members will ever awake and question the church's & leader's actions, they will keep blindly paying into such a corrupt system and Church, because even that is much easier than studying out the truth and standing for right and living worthy of the Spirit to detect right from wrong themselves.

Most people like blindly playing 'follow the leader' it's so much easier than personal responsibility for one's own salvation.

Most members and lower leaders are probably 'good & honorable' people who have just been duped and deceived by the craftiness of higher church leaders and false prophets in the Church. But I believe the higher leaders know too much to be ignorantly going along with all this evil.

Nevertheless, all those who are deceived to go along with evil, even those who don't realize it, will lose their Exaltation and eternal family, as Joseph Smith taught. (D&C 45 & 76)

So it's vital that we awake and stop supporting evil leaders and a corrupt Church, and focus on living & studying the Gospel on our own, as families or with friends, and give all our tithing and offerings directly to the needy right around us, to make sure it gets to where it should. That is the only responsible thing to do now.

Wayfaring Fool said...


As usual, you hit this one out of the park...with bases loaded. Truly a fantastic article.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

As a bit of a "connoisseur" of bible translations that are alternatives to the King James Version (and almost any translation is an improvement over the KJV, as even Joseph Smith avoided using it in favor of the Lutheran bible) I have to agree with Bryan that the NET is my current favorite.

The compact NET is the one I am currently using for my everyday reading, and though it doesn't include all the extra bells and whistles as its bigger version, all those maps and translator notes and stuff are available online at the click of a mouse at netbible.org. Highly recommended!

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Clever link, Todd. And based on truth.

Anonymous said...

How do we know that the "Brethren" are teaching *today's doctrines*? And Neil Anderson doesn't actually make that statement. He makes the statement that "the doctrine is taught by all 15 members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It is not hidden in an obscure paragraph of one talk."

There is no scripture supporting this assertion (that I can think of). Jesus defined "the doctrine" in 3 Nephi, which was to repent, be baptised and become as a little child. No more and no less.

What would be great from the 15 at the top would be less of their own interpretations and opinions and more direct communication from Jesus and the angels, cause at the end of the day, we all have our own opinions.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I was asked my opinion on a Facebook thread regarding Lorenzo Snow's drastic doing away with tithing as it had been practiced, since not only did he reverse the earlier edict of the Twelve, he seems to have cancelled out the Lord's requirement in section 119 that all surplus property was to be put in the hands of the bishop. Since the latter change would have entailed overriding the will of the Lord, I think it's worth repeating my answer here:

Snow did away with the early Twelve's edict that members were to tithe 10 percent of all their possessions at baptism, and he also declared the original requirement of all one's surplus at the beginning to be dropped.

Though some would question Lorenzo Snow's right to drop the Lord's original requirement that "all one's surplus" was to be put into the hands of the bishop, he claimed to have been given a revelation regarding tithing, and if so, it would be appropriate for him to declare that early requirement now null and void. It seems fine to me, as I am inclined to the view that early on in the church, a good kickstart was needed that probably wasn't necessary later on.

When you look at the law as expressed in section 119, after requiring all the surplus, the Lord states that "And this shall be the BEGINNING of the tithing of my people. Then after making the statement about requiring a tenth of their interest annually he declares THAT to be "a standing law forever." So it seems reasonable to interpret the first part to be "a beginning" of the tithes, while the second requirement is the actual procedure that was to act as the "standing law forever."

Tithing under Snow was from henceforth to be 10 percent of interest annually. No more conversion fee, and no more additional tithes for the Perpetual Immigration Fund. Snow simplified everything by essentially dropping the first requirement and merely continuing the requirement for 10 percent of interest annually.

I don't know of the existence of a word-for-word transcription, although it could be contained in Volume I of "Unpublished Revelations of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," and since I haven't seen my copy of that book in years, I can't confirm it. Maybe someone of you could look it up. Whatever the actual revelation contained, the movie "Windows of Heaven" clearly misconstrued it by giving the impression that Snow had received that revelation while in the process of giving his talk at St. George, and then promising the Saints the drought would end if they would start tithing.

The actual revelation, which he claimed to have received at home, had nothing whatsoever to do with that drought or any promises of rain, since he never spoke of those issues in his public pronouncements. From the reports of the actual things he preached about the revelation, it was all about tithing as a necessity before the church could be worthy of becoming a Zion people.

Jon said...

I think the core problem of the church is the same as any other institution. Without competition it is bound to have people gravitate to the top that will use it to get gain (even unwittingly). It will become bureaucratic by its very nature. The easiest thing to stop this is by competition. But by saying it is the only true church and it is needed for salvation, things become complicated. A desire to be saved and a desire for bureaucratic organizations to be tempered. Two things that seem to be at odds.

In the end it is only the liberty and integrity of the people that can make an institution that has become bloated become trim. The institution is merely a reflection of its members. Not that all the blame should be pointed at the members, the leaders have blame too, but in the end it is the members that hold the power of the future direction of the church and any other institutions for that matter.

Manly Palmer Hall was featured on Peace Revolution's podcast (a couple of hours worth, at different parts of the podcast). He was talking about politics but it aptly applies here also.

John A. Coltharp said...

Rock, you mention that it is a "false teaching" to say that "tithing money goes to help the poor and needy." Why, then, do the scriptures refer to Melchizedek as "him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor"? (JST Genesis 14:38.)

According to Encyclopedia of Mormonism, in the earlier days of the Church, "bishops used two-thirds of the local tithes to help the poor." (p. 120).

When Brigham Young was asked what tithing is used for, he replied, "Part of it is devoted to building temples and other places of worship, part to helping the poor and needy converts on their way to this country, and the largest portion to the support of the poor among the Saints." (In Interview with Horace Greeley, 13 July 1859, Overland Journey From New York to San Francisco [1860], p. 212.)

John A. Coltharp said...

Another great article by Rock Waterman! Keep up the good work!

By the way, here are some great quotes about the poor Saints not being required to pay tithing:

Franklin D. Richards, 6 Nov. 1882:
"Before going further I want to stop and consider the question asked by some, what He means where the Lord requires the surplus property of His people as the beginning of their tithing. Let us consider for a moment this word 'surplus.' What does it mean when applied to a man and his property? Surplus cannot mean that which is indispensably necessary for any given purpose, but what remains after supplying what is needed for that purpose. Is not the first and most necessary use of a man's property that he feed, clothe and provide a home for himself and family? This appears to be the great leading objects for which we labor to acquire means, and as, until the time that this revelation was given, all public works and raising of all public funds had been by consecration, was not 'surplus property,' that which was over and above a comfortable and necessary subsistence? In the light of what had transpired and of subsequent events, what else could it mean? Can we take any other view of it when we consider the circumstances under which it was given in Far West in July, 1838? I have been unable in studying this subject to find any other definition of the term surplus, as used in this revelation, than the one I have just given. I find that it was so understood and recorded by the Bishops and people in those days, as well as by the Prophet Joseph himself, who was unquestionably the ablest and best exponent of this revelation." (In Journal of Discourses, vol. 23, p. 313.)

Orson Hyde, 1 Jan. 1847:
"The celestial law requires one-tenth part of all a man's substance which he possesses at the time he comes into the church, and one-tenth part of his annual increase ever after. If it requires all a man can earn to support himself and his family, he is not tithed at all. The celestial law does not take the mother's and children's bread, neither ought else which they really need for their comfort. The poor that have not of this world's goods to spare, but serve and honor God according to the best of their abilities in every other way, shall have a celestial crown in the Eternal Kingdom of our Father. But the rich, and such as have this world's goods which they can spare, without injury to themselves, or without bringing want upon themselves and upon their families, can never obtain a celestial crown unless they pay their tithing. They are not excluded, neither disfellowshipped from the church if they do not do it. We have no law to authorize us to do this." (Millennial Star, vol. 9, no. 1 [1 Jan. 1847], p. 12.)

Brigham Young, 13 Mar. 1860:
"If a man has not the means to pay tithing and would if he could, I can fellowship him just as well as if he did; but if he has the means and will not pay, and has no disposition to pay; not believing the revelation upon that subject, I would cut him off from the Church; and let him go to California or where he pleases." (Office Journal: Book D [2006], p. 54.)

JST Genesis 14:36-39:
"Abram paid unto [Melchizedek] tithes of all that he had, of all the riches which he possessed, which God had given him more than that which he had need."

Anna Bruen said...

Great post! I wish there were more LDS people apprised of this viewpoint. The exhortation to pay tithing before feeding your own family makes me very uncomfortable although I do have a testimony of the law of tithing. I'm sure if my friends knew I tithed of my "surplus" they'd look at me like I had 3 eyeballs. Heaven forbid I bring this up in our next lesson on tithing! I like the way you laid out the church history and everything. I had already come to this perspective from the scriptures you've mentioned, but it's nice to have more information to add support to my own interpretations.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I did not mean to imply that the old testament tithing was not used to assist the poor. Clearly a lot of it was. Neither do I believe that modern tithes should not be used to assist the needy when appropriate. My point was that the modern LDS law of tithing differed substantially from the Old Testament version, in that these tithes were earmarked for the three purposes laid out in verse one of section 119.

Most New Testament churches, ours among them, believed that the old testament method of tithing had been done away with in favor of a new idea of giving freely to the poor without being "restricted" by that 10 percent rule. The idea being that when a people are instructed by the law as to what is expected of them, they often will not go beyond those bounds. Thus, under the New Testament, it was hoped that the law of love would direct people to be more generous than the Mosaic law required.

Certainly in our history, the Church has disbursed some tithing funds toward those in need, but it has been a very very small portion; less than 1 percent by many estimates. And the problem with believing that LDS tithes constitute charitable giving is the result that most Mormons today assume that's what most of their tithes go for. The cynic could make the argument that what little the Church contributes in modern times in the area of disaster relief has been more a PR effort than anything else. Note the ubiquitous tunics and T-shirts distributed to Mormons who gather to disaster sites, as if to say, "Look at us! We are doing God's work and we want everyone to know it!"

I believe there is a reason why Fast Offerings, Building Funds, Missionary Funds, and the like have traditionally been kept separate from tithing, and I think that is because tithing was intended to be a much smaller amount overall than an individual was expected to give for these other righteous purposes.

Besides, when we turn over our charity money expecting the Church to disburse it, we are in effect putting an agency between us and those who deserve our personal assistance. We are saying to the leaders, "you decide who I should help; you know better than I do, and besides, I can't be bothered to put forth the effort."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for those wonderful proofs, Jon.

Readers may be interested in knowing that Jon Colthorp is the proprietor of Immortalize Publishing, which is a terrific source for many of the most difficult to find early Mormon documents, many of which, until now, simply have not been available online. I would encourage everyone to check out the treasures that are available there. It is an astounding resource. Take a look:


Anonymous said...

With all due respect "anonymous", if you honestly believe that Brigham Young was "abusive, adulterous and wicked", then the only conclusion one can draw, is that immediately upon Joseph Smith's death, the Church fell into apostasy. While, I agree that over time, the Church has taken that path, I must ask the question, who has the fullness of the priesthood and the Keys today? I ask this because Joseph Smith received through revelation the Lord's edict that this was the last time it would be restored and that it would not be taken again from the earth. Keith C.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I just have to mention how astonished I am at the amount of interest this topic has generated. I happened to look at the stats of my blog and saw that within 48 hours of posting this piece, it had 3580 hits. Normally one of my pieces might get on average only 600 page views in its first couple of days.

I think there are a number of reasons so many members are interested in what the Lord intended a true tithe to be. Back before 1991, most members of the church honestly believed the Church was just barely getting by pretty much hand to mouth, and that Church headquarters desperately depended on every nickel it received for its continued survival. Then in 1991 the Arizona Republic did a series of articles showing that in reality the corporate church was, like the Roman Catholic Church, very, very rich. This was such an astounding revelation that many members simply refused to believe it, and accused the newspaper of spreading anti-Mormon lies.

Today, with the construction of the high-end City Creek Center that caters through advertising to a gentile upper class clientele, a growing number of members are wondering why they are being pushed to contribute their meager share when the Church obviously has billions to invest in such dubious projects. (One would be hard pressed to find any financial experts who believe the Church will ever see a return on this investment.)

Second, right now many members are desperately struggling just to get by. They simply have not seen any of the blessings they have been promised as long as thy faithfully tithe to the Church On the contrary, the more faithfully some have paid, the worse things seem to be getting for them. So this combination of a severe economic depression combined with an ostentatious display of wealth by the leaders has been giving many member pause.

It's probable that while heavily promoting their shiny new mall, the hierarchy never expected to see this kind of backlash from the rank and file. I believe it caught them by surprise, and, in light of their own comfortable salaries, they simply don't understand the fuss. They expected this year's tithing settlement season to be business as usual.

I think it's high time we returned to living the Lord's law as it was given, and not allowing all these embellishments about it to cloud our minds. As the First Presidency cautioned in 1970 in reference to section 119, verse 4, "No one is justified in making any other statement than this."

(By the way, in spite of all the new readers discovering my blog, I still have plenty of detractors to keep me humble. In a couple of places where this link has been shared on Facebook, I have been called stupid and boring more times than I can count. One woman accused me of being a whiner. Yow! That one hurt.)

Anonymous said...

Keith C.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

For what it's worth, Keith, Wilford Woodruff stated that at the time of Joseph Smith's death, no one of the twelve had any idea who had the keys or what authority they granted. As Denver Snuffer shows in chapter 3 of "Passing the Heavenly Gift," at the time even Brigham Young did not consider himself the legal successor. Instead, he believed the right belonged to one of Joseph's sons, either Joseph Smith III, or David Smith. He originally saw himself as only the caretaker, but later on he sort of just slipped into the position of permanent leader.

"Even today," writes Snuffer, "there is no full description of what keys were involved or what rights were included."

This whole subject of "keys" is largely misunderstood by the body of Saints today (including me), but here is a very well researched analysis about Understanding Priesthood Keys here:


Anonymous said...

I believe the Church; and in particular, the corporate "twelve", are no different than the rest of the world's business elite (Babylon). Have you ever noticed, that no matter how much money and assets they accumulate; not to mention, the power associated with it, they are never satisfied? it's never enough?

Regarding the Church receiving fewer tithing funds, I believe it's because the people are finally catching on. The scales are finally falling from their eyes. Keith C.

Bryan Peifer said...

Rock or anyone more on the up and up with this stuff.

Rock writes, "Meanwhile, much of what we have already donated has been given over to "investments," with the profits derived therefrom used to build lavish hotels and shopping centers -hardly what one would think of as appropriate uses of what we are told are sacred funds."

Now people, here is the answer I get and have always received if I've mention this subject. "Oh, that's not from our tithes, that's from the investments that the church has in businesses." I then ask, where did they get the money to make those investments? Answer, "from the money generated from the businesses the church owns. I ask, where did they get the money in the first place to buy these businesses. Answer, "private donations or bank loans."

It goes on and on. I've heard that the GAs get their allowance from the "investments" or business profits that are owned by the church. I guess we don't know the real scoop because the financials are not transparent.

I need to read some answers that people have written back to me, but I'm scheduled to finish this article today.

weston krogstadt said...

I used to give money to panhandlers until one day the conversation went like this : "Do you have any spare change?" "Sorry, no" "A--Hole!" That experience opened my eyes.

Now when they ask for spare change I tell them, "I don't have any, and if I did I wouldn't give you any." Homeless people today are nothing like they were during the Bible, at least in the United States. They are all criminals and not one of them needs the money, not one. I will not give them one dime, not one penny. Because they do not spend even one cent that is given to them on food or shelter. We all know what they spend it on. If I find one bleeding to death on the side of the road, I will drive them to the ER, but I will not give them one cent.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Holy Cow, Weston. You really owe it to yourself to get over this attitude that everyone is your enemy.

Rob said...

Dec 5 2:10 anon:
I agree with your assessment that all church leaders should serve for free; however, I think a blanket judgment against all paid church leaders is a bit unfair.

Have you ever talked to a generational TBM? Not only are they suffering from never having been objective themselves, but they are a multi-generational product of reductive correlated thinking.

I think that some things ought to be blatantly obvious to them, but projecting my understanding of things, which is based on about 10 years of hardcore study of anything I can get my hands on, and tons of prayer and meditation, is a bit unfair. Take President Monson, for example. He was raised at a time when there were Stake Presidents who hadn't even read the Book of Mormon! The church was just coming out of the early UT days when it was more of a secular government than a church. He was called into full-time church service almost before he hit puberty, and for the last gazillion decades has spent 80% of his time on church business (I mean the $$ kind), and 20% of that time re-writing the same 3 talks. Even a really good man in that position is going to be exceedingly biased towards the status quo. It was what he was raised in in his family. It is what he was raised in by leaders who preceded and surrounded him. And he hasn't had any time to study the scriptures in the last 60 years to be informed otherwise!

Pres. Hinckley once said that no general authority really has any time to study the scriptures. Basically, what they know going in is what they know throughout.

Rob said...

It is a fallacy that we are to listen to church leaders as if they are God. The scripture (D&C 1 for example) says God's servants are to be heeded as if his own voice. God's servants are those who do what he says (which presupposes a personal connection with them), not folks who are selected by men to serve in church position.

Ben, we all have a commission to seek out truth wherever it is found, because ANYONE can fill the role of "servant" a la D&C 1. And church leaders' (or anyone else's for that matter) statements are only God's will when they come from God originally. That is a fundamental truth that we need to learn in the church.

Rob said...

I know of two examples that mirror your experience in my own life.

However, I also know of an experience where a man stopped me who obviously had external medical problems. He asked me for money. I stopped what I was doing and talked with him for a while. After hearing his story, I found myself with the ability to fix his situation. I never saw him again. He cried in gratitude when I helped him out. To this day, I wonder if he was an angel. Paul said, "Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." I think you owe it to yourself to reconsider your position. A false negative on your part could deprive you of an experience like I had, which is one of the sweetest experiences of my life.

Jon said...


Do you have a source on Hinckley saying that GAs don't have much time to study the scriptures?

Bryan Peifer said...

Rock I have a very good friend and she is always the one who will try to look at the sunny side of things. I mentioned about the mall and she said, (she's from the SLC area) "The church needed to step in and save the downtown area from declining and they didn't use any tithes; they used investment monies." I didn't argue, but I just can't get it out of my mind that if it's such a good deal; someone, somewhere out there would have said, hey, I can make a lot of money in downtown SLC by building a mall. Why the church?

Anonymous said...

I feel guilty sometimes that I have avoided living in the "Mormon Corridor", because I don't want to be one of those Mormons who walks past the homeless on my way to the temple--

Here where I live I donate to the food banks; I live in a place where the homeless are 'unseen' (VERY cold climate)--
but even our local ward feeds the homeless at one of the huge old Protestant churches in town on a 'take turns' basis--

things are very different here. I have struggled, though, with the mentality of many of our church members, who want to give the poorest food to the poor--

When I read about a local homeless man (living in his car and with friends and in an old camp trailer) who had had a vibrant living/life and loved gourmet food and liked to cook for guests and missed "fresh" food--

I called up the Relief Society presidency and offered a big green salad, knowing that that man would be at our church's supper--

They balked, BIG time; I was told my salad wasn't welcome. Then my husband approached the bishop; I had already donated a huge salad to something else the day before (in the community), and I had lots of stuff left--

as it happened, we sneaked it over there and tried to put it out in cognito--

weird, eh?

"The poor shall NOT have high quality food", seemed to be our ward's leadership's motto--

Well, Rock (DPer here), I've read all this, and I'm staggered, physically--

I'm one of those with more tithing inspiration stories (of my own) to hold up the entire church--

my husband is behind me, wanting to read what you have to say. You've done your research. I'm one of those who has come to see BY as a 'character' and maybe not such a good one, too--

sad, eh, when our illusions crumble--

Husband and I have battled this out together (not against each other; we are amazingly in unity over this) MANY times, even reading the original Webster, etc.--

but we keep paying that 10% of gross--

'traditions of the fathers', maybe?

One of our adult children who is trying VERY hard to stay in the church . . .

just sent me an e-mail and asked, "have you seen Rock's last blog essay?"

"Yup", I wrote--"your dad and I will probably stay with the 10% gross, because we are tired of swimming up every possible stream--want to be able to tread water a little"--

But I read you LOUD and CLEAR--

I just . . . wonder--

how on earth those men who sit up there in conference can live with themselves--

thinking of the poor saints in Africa, South America, India, Southeast Asia--

and . . . in the heartland of America--

and some who are VERY close to me who live from hand to mouth and are just lucky to have shelter (talk about praying non-stop for loved ones)--

Where do we go from here? You're right; only Father knows, and Father knows best--

Recently in a church magazine some parents talked about their son stopping to help President Monson when his 'diesel' car (expensive) broken down from the bitter cold on his way back from Midway to check on his second home (with his wife)--

and I thought, "wow, a diesel car, SO costly, you know--and a second home--we're so lucky to have our shabby little roof over our shabby little heads"--

and how does he live with himself, or does he not know? Does he not see the poverty around him?

There's some here, right in this ward out in the middle of nowhere, far from Temple Square--

guess I'd better get to work on it--

I have something to eat today--

I think it's time to start praying more for all the members of the church who are seeing/feeling these inequities and want to do what is right--

let the consequences follow, eh?


Maybe there will be a miracle yet--

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Rob, that is about as concise and astute an observation on the reasons things are they way they are as I have ever heard. Nicely put.

Yvonne said...

What I would give to have you my bishop! Maybe I would want to pay my tithing to you!
You might be very interested in a read through Margaret Barker's latest book called The Mother of the Lord. Extremely detailed information about the prophet Jeremiah dealing with the then current leader of the church and the constant and obvious fall of the people because of the false and corrupt ministers leading them astray. Aren't we seeing it lived just like that today. (2 Kings)

I have had my eyes open to the security blanket built for me by the church this year. My house of cards keeps tumbling down. My entire life was the church. Things had to shift when I began to see the truth. Now my life is centered on Christ. It is very interesting to see how angry the people were with Christ because he was outspoken about the iniquity in his day with the pharisees. Even enough to kill them. The same kind of malice exists in this church today. I have yet to see anything but talk over the pulpit by the leaders of my ward and stake. But it has forced me to open my eyes and get greater direction from the original source. It doesn't make me very popular with the masses, however. But who said I needed a great many friends, as long as I am on the side of the Lord. Keep up the great work, brother.

Anonymous said...

Rob, I love that line, "20% of his time re-writing the same 3 talks." LOL, so true.

I'm not sure where I stand on paid church leaders. I'm not totally against it, but I do think that there should be full disclosure through reporting. Transparency can often keep the system honest.

The reality is that the church does have a lot of money and it needs to be spent wisely. The Church leadership seem to have a strategy of making the church more financially self-supporting. Makes good business sense given that tithing per member will continue to drop as membership becomes more heavily weighted in poorer areas. Is it what the Lord wants? Dunno.

brmecham said...

I've been reading your articles for a few years. Thanks for the time you put into researching/writing your articles. There's a lot of good stuff in them.

Regarding this question "Are We Paying Too Much Tithing?", that's the same question I've been asking myself for a while now and your article basically makes the same conclusions as I've come to personally.

You mentioned on Facebook "Connie thinks this will be the one that finally gets me kicked out of the club." (hopefully not)... I always hope not to cause too much of a stir so I don't attract the attention of my local leaders, especially as I find myself breaking away from false traditions/beliefs. And that's one of the reasons I like reading your articles, you seem to be interested in breaking away from false traditions/beliefs. I'm finding this tithing issue is one of those I have to keep more silent on, and people seem to have a much harder time with this one, especially if they come to the conclusion that they haven't really been complying with the 'law of tithing' as it was written. Many people fear what would happen if their local church leaders noticed them suddenly paying a different amount - but why fear? It's between you and the Lord.

Anyways, thanks again. I now have another resource to send to people to get them considering the fact that they might not truly understand the Lord's law of tithing.

- Brian

Anonymous said...

DPer continued--

the bishop looked dazed ("deer in headlights" look) when my husband said, "my wife read about the one homeless man who comes to the suppers our ward puts on with the other churches in the community who misses fresh green salads, and she wants to make a salad for him and anyone else who might like something fresh"--

his mouth dropped open and he just didn't register--

He's a typical Republican sort of person who believes that poor people deserve to be where they are, though, otherwise, he has a good enough heart, truly--

Since he registered incomprehension--

and said, "well, I don't think the RS sisters should be upset about it", when my husband said that they had gotten worked up when I called and offered the salad, because, "WE TAKE JELLO!"--

And when I said, "that's fine, can I just bring the salad"--


Then my husband offered the salad, since the bishop asked us not to upset the RS sisters--

to him, because his wife had been sick, and he got embarrassed and said, "oh, no, no, no, don't do THAT--just . . . do what you want with it; try to sneak it over there"--

Looking back on this experience; it was so surreal--

what kind of people have to stand on principle that the homeless not be served a green salad?

I then heard, "they are not used to that kind of food; they won't eat it"--

I tried to tell the RS lady I had called (presidency member), "but the local paper just had an article featuring the homeless man who says he misses fresh veggies/green salads"--

and again . . . there was that frozen motion on the other end of the phone line--

of someone who had just heard something in a language they didn't understand.

Homeless people are NOT supposed to be allowed to WANT anything--

I've gotten way off; this wasn't the topic, Rock--

Our whole family is in commotion over your article; two of us have read it now; we have to agree with you; we're talking about sending our tithing to SLC--

where they just send the 'full tithe payer' back to the bishop--

not sure what to do yet; we need to have a long talk with our Father (I sound Catholic)--

thank you for letting me explode on here--


It's the same kind of thing that has happened with the liberty movement; have you noticed?

Questions get asked, and people want truth; they want it so desperately that they get 'tagged'--

I hope you don't get kicked out of the club, Rock (and Connie)--

we'll pray for you here--

I think you might be just a bit of a Samuel the Lamanite--

don't let that go to your head now--

Anonymous said...


My husband didn't make an appointment to see the bishop; they work closely together and spend a lot of time together on Sunday, so it was one of those "on the run" things that he just brought up--

We really tried not to press the rare time and energy out of our fellow ward members; we just offered a salad--

and . . . all sorts of things went haywire from then on--

it was truly bizarre; we can laugh about it now, but--

it's a sad commentary on the minds and hearts of many LDS--

at least in our area of the country/world--

LDS Anarchist said...

Regarding the bit about supporting Joseph and Sidney out of the funds of the church:

Carpenters, farmers, engineers, etc., are all a dime a dozen. You can find men to fill up the various occupations of the day everywhere. But where can you find a seer?

The membership of that day may have been sincere followers of Christ, but they appear to have not understood the blessing they had been given. The laborer is worthy of his hire. If a man of God comes to you, preaching and teaching the word of God, having neither purse nor script, you provide a place for him to stay, you feed him, give him water to drink, clothe him, and provide for all his needs and comforts, to the end that he stays among you as long as possible and dedicates his full time to the calling that God has called him to. That man of God, who can communicate with God, will end up blessing you and your family and all that you have, for your generosity, for by your willingness to give him every material comfort that you can, you demonstrate how much you value the word of God. This is why when Amulek took in Alma, providing for all his needs and comforts, he found that Alma blessed him. See Alma 10:7-11.

What is the value of the word of God? It is priceless. Joseph, a choice seer, could ask and receive any ancient book or writing of scripture, whatsoever. He could also ask and receive new words of the Lord for our day. They should have recognized the opportunity they had to obtain God's word, to re-organize society according to the will of God, which is perfect, and to solve all of the world's problems, by obtaining and following the Lord's instructions. They should have, to a man, offered all their material possessions to support him, that he could spend his entire time in prayer and dictating the scriptures, and overseeing their printing and dispersal. This should have been the only occupation Joseph had. He should not have had to worry about anything else. All his needs and comforts should have been met by the church.

Three times the average wage is a bargain price for priceless words of God. If it was Sidney who "overreached," he did so understandably, for the occupation of a seer cannot be filled by any other man. Average pay for average work and above average pay for above average work. This work, though, was priceless, so how in the world do you give a value to it equal to the works of men?

[To be continued]

LDS Anarchist said...

[Continued from above]

The scriptures speak against preaching for money, not in being supported by the hearers of the word. We are to labor with our own hands for our own support, as a general rule, but there are exceptions even to that rule, according to the spirit of wisdom and expediency. This is why we find certain ancient offices being supported by the people and why we find the scriptural bishop of the Doctrine and Covenants also being supported by the church. Certain occupations in the kingdom of God require a man's full attention and therefore those men should not be required to labor with their own hands for their support, for their spiritual labor is worthy of their hire. A seer whose duty is to restore all things most definitely falls into this category. Had these people understood these principles, we might have ended up with a hundred times the volume of scriptures we ended up getting.

Nehor taught "that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; and they ought not to labor with their hands, but that they ought to be supported by the people." This is what we have today in apostate Christianity. But this principle given by Nehor is a perversion, for he advocated the support of mere titles, not of gifts. In other words, he advocated support of men who possessed titles, but who manifested no gifts of the Spirit.

When we support seers who do not see, prophets who do not prophesy, revelators who do not reveal anything new, priests who have no priesthood power or authority, and false teachers and preachers, with our money, we follow the Nehor tradition. And according to that tradition, when a real prophet of God comes among us, we withhold our money and support, as these early saints did with Joseph. (See Helaman 13:26-28.) The Nehors pervert the right way of the Lord by reversing it, for the right way of the Lord is that we generously give of our material possessions to support the work of the gifts and withhold money from false prophets, teachers and priests, in other words, from people who manifest no gifts.

Anonymous said...

Thank you LDSA. This is so very very true.

Anonymous said...

So it seems that from that logic 'everyone' can just become a seer & prophet, (as we are commanded to) and we can stop working and depend on everyone else to support us. Once we all become prophets, who's going to do all the work?

I have served a mission, and it would be much like being a G.A. If I could be paid for being a missionary that would be a mighty cush job. Everyone would want to do it instead of all the other usually harder work.

I do not believe even seers & prophets are to expect others to support them, unless they are disabled and can't support themselves anymore.

For Prophets don't have to devote so much time to the Church, they can take time to support themselves and their family too. They shouldn't have to be giving us new scripture all the time or expounding the scriptures to us continually, we should be getting those messages straight from the Holy Spirit. If we have the Holy Spirit then we would be all writing our own scriptures with greater & greater truths being expounded to us by the Spirit.

Scriptures can and should come from multiple prophets throughout the Church and thus the 'head' prophet would be freed up to take care of his family, as he should do.

That doesn't mean that when Prophets travel that they can't be housed and fed by members, or occasionally invited over for dinner, etc., that seems reasonable, as they did in the BoM times. But even King Benjamin understood that even as a king 'and' a Prophet, (who would be busier than him?) he should not expect the people to support him or that it would be unrighteous and unfair of him to expect it.

If the Prophet is again, truly needy and unable to work because of disability, and his wife can't work to support them or his extended family can't support him, then yes, he should receive help just like the rest of the needy in the Church.

But I don't believe any needy 'true' Prophet or disciple of Christ would ever take a dime from the Church unless all the widows & the fatherless were completely comfortable and taken care of 1st.

It appears that the present LDS Church is run according to Nehor's philosophy, teaching the idea that the leaders should become 'popular' and supported by the members, even the poor, despite that these same leaders have 2nd homes, nice cars, valuable houses, successful careers and lots of savings, they still take money from the widows and fatherless, that they neglect, and live off the poor. Thus this is all one of the sure signs of an apostate church.

Anonymous said...


I'm going to look up that book right away. I've heard great things about Margaret Barker, that book sounds fantastic. I remember when I first read Jeremiah 20 and realized that the chief priest in the house of the Lord put Jeremiah in the stocks! I thought, wow, I've had the wrong idea about Jeremiah for a long time. Then I read Jeremiah 1 and realized that true prophets are called by God directly. The way things work in our church today is much more reminiscent of what we see with the Pharisees and Sadducees and a priestly class.

Thanks for the book suggestion. I think it'll be first on my Christmas list.


Anonymous said...

Joseph Smith constantly taught that if he or anyone, taught anything contrary to what the scriptures say, then we should consider their opinion or teaching as false.

"We do not want anyone to believe anything as coming from us, contrary to the old established morals & virtues & scriptural laws, whether they are Prophets, Seers, or Revelators; Patriarchs, Twelve Apostles, Elders, Priests, Mayors, Generals, City Councilors, Aldermen, Marshalls, Police, Lord Mayors, or the Devil, & if you yourselves adhere to anything of the kind, you also shall be damned."

Joseph Smith, Epistle prepared for the Sisters, recorded on Sept. 28, 1842 mtg. Read in Relief Society March 30, 1844.

“To the Elders abroad - If any man writes to you, or preaches to you, doctrines contrary to the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Book of Doctrine and Covenants, set him down as an imposter."
Times and Seasons 5:490-491, April 1, 1844.

“How, it may be asked, was this known to be a bad angel? By his contradicting a former revelation.” Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Deseret Book Company, 1976, p. 215-216.

Thus when we look at how D&C 119 has been interpreted, (if it's even a true revelation, for we must 1st establish that, for even Joseph was very deceived and wrong about many things and people at times), or we look at what any church leader has done, from Joseph Smith til today, we can judge (using the BoM) and prove if what they do or say is correct & true or not.

The Book of Mormon is said to be the most correct book on earth. It is the foundation and keystone of our religion, because it testifies of Christ and his exact teachings, over & over. It is what we base our religion on, and if anyone, even a Prophet, even Joseph, taught or did something 'contrary' to what the BoM teaches, then we would have to consider his teaching, revelation or action false.

The BoM Prophets, King Benjamin and King Mosiah, both taught that leaders, even a King or Prophet, should support themselves, so they don't become a burden to the people and so they set a good example of self-reliance. If they had lived off the people, how could they ask the people to work hard at their jobs and take care of their families when they themselves don't. Everyone would want the same free ride as they were getting.

So I believe the Saints in the early Church were correct to deny Joseph & Sydney any allowance. I don't believe the Lord ever mean't for church leaders to receive any money from tithes or offerings from the people, but it was right that Joseph and other leaders work and till the ground themselves, just like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

Part 2-

Where in the Book of Mormon does it ever teach to use tithing or offerings from the people for anything other than helping the poor? After all the poor are completely taken care of in the Church, 'then' we can start collecting money for a church or temple, but I do not believe such things are as important to the Lord as taking care of the poor. The Lord was all about relieving suffering, not building fine sanctuaries to worship him in, for we worship best by serving the needy. Better to meet in a grove of trees than to have a nice church while the poor suffer around us.

Mosiah 2:
14 "I myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you, and that ye should not be laden with taxes, and that there should nothing come upon you (even tithing) which was grievous to be borne (like having to pay tithing instead of buying food for your family).

15-16 "I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day...I had spent my days in your service, for I have only been in the service of God."

Mosiah 6:
7 "And King Mosiah did cause his people that they should till the earth. And he also, himself, did till the earth, that thereby he might not become burdensome to his people, that he might do according to that which his father (King Benjamin) had done in all things. (Meaning King B. had tilled the earth himself too)

Would asking people to pay (usually very well off) church leaders high salaries '1st', before buying food for their families or paying their heat bill, be 'burdensome' to the people today, especially the poor who are also asked to pay these men high salaries?

Why does the Disney animated movie 'Robinhood' come to mind, when the wicked King's tax collector takes the last money from even a poor family or even the children.

Isn't this what the Church is now asking Bishop's to do, take people's last dime as tithing, even though that leaves them nothing to buy food or pay basic bills with?

Anonymous said...

I know this is incredibly nit picky. I don't ever remember Paul Toscano as being a "senior editor" at the ensign. Even though I love this post, that error causes me to wonder if there are any other errors in your research.

would you consider clarifying this? thank you!

Cap'n Moroni said...

It would seem from a reading of Weston Krogstadt's comment above that the beggar who called him an A--Hole possessed the spiritual gift of discernment.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I recall it because way back when I was single and before I really had gotten to know Paul personally, his brother Tony (a non-member at the time) was my partner on the radio. I recall a particular time when I brought into work my copy of the Ensign with Paul James Toscano's name and byline on the article as Senior Editor,and said "Look Tony, somebody in the church has your same last name! That must be a sign you're supposed to join the Church."

That's when Tony told me Paul was his brother, and Tony explained that when his parents retired (Paul was the lone Mormon convert in his family) they moved to Utah to live near Paul. Then all the brothers moved here too, in order to be near their parents. (All later joined the church, except the parents.) Anyway, that's all pretty vivid in my mind, because Tony was about the most "gentile" gentile I had ever known and it just blew my mind that someone I knew to be so vulgar could be related to someone of such obvious stature in the Church. But I'll ask Paul to confirm if my memory was exactly right on this.

It is a common practice with many magazines to give several of the regular writers in its stable the title of Senior Editor or Contributing Editor, so that honorarium does not mean Paul was THE top editor of the Ensign. I actually don't know where he was in the pecking order, but I do remember his family being proud of the fact that he was pretty high up and they thought he was a bigwig. As I was a subscriber to the Ensign in those days I do recall seeing numerous articles back then written by him; probably at least one every issue.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

On the subject of errors creeping into my writings, of course that is bound to happen at times. When I discuss historical or doctrinal issues I always try to supply cites and links, but often I will simply relate something I learned from my reading over the years, or from personal experience. On occasion readers have pointed out some obvious errors, and I have always been happy to go back and correct them.

Bryan Peifer said...

Anyone who visits this site on a regular basis understands that we all try to do our best in researching what we present. Even professional historians make errors and have to make corrections. I think what's important is how errors are pointed out or addressed that makes the difference. Kindness is always the first rule.

Bryan Peifer said...

I visited a site where it took me to a article at Bloomberg Businessweek,


Many of you have probably read this already, because I know it's old news. What hit me was, how much time the presidency and GAs have to spend in conducting the business of mammon. What's the criteria for leadership? I wonder.

A serious reading of Hugh Nibley's talk on Leaders to Managers - The Fatal Shift needs to be done.

LDS Anarchist said...

Just do a search at lds.org for "Toscano."

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Interesting, Anarchist. Sine Paul later gained notoriety as one of the most notorious critics of ecclesiastical abuse within the Church, I would have expected his stuff to have been excised from the record, and that looks to be the case. Someone overlooked the letters pages, however, and I found three highly laudatory letters that mentioned him by name. Here's a sample:

Among my favorites

"I must express my thankfulness for the writing talent of Paul James Toscano. He is numbered among my favorites. In “My Transfer to Understanding” in the January-February issue of the New Era, I was especially touched by the statement “I know by the power of the Holy Ghost, a power more trustworthy than all our senses.” I too feel a great thankfulness for the witness to truth that the Holy Ghost is. I know with a surety, with every fiber of my being and all of my heart, that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches the true restored gospel. I am so aware of the blessings that our Lord wants to bless us with. Would that we would feel that love and be of service by sharing that message."

I'm still awaiting a response from Paul to the email I sent him earlier. I'll call him in a couple of days if I don't hear back, and post his response here so we can clear this matter up.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit confused. If tithings are to be used to run the church as an institution, donating money to charity would not satisfy the commandment (based on the scriptures you cited). Am I missing something?

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That's correct. Providing for the expenses of running the institutional Church does not constitute charity. Our obligation to provide for those in need is a separate obligation from our tithing.

As I put forth in the article under discussion, I believe that is one reason the Lord requires so little from us in tithes, so it doesn't hamper our ability to provide also to the needy.

Anonymous said...

This is horrible! What is it you all believe in? Obviously you don't believe that this is the true church of Jesus Christ. Why are you trying to find a way out of paying a tithe? BTW - tithe means 10%!!! Look up the definition! What you pay a tenth of is going to be between you and the Lord no matter how you spin it. And why does it matter what that money is used for when it is dispersed by men who we sustain as God's Apostles on Earth? BTW - if anyone else was paying attention in seminary, the only modern day members of the presidency who keep their "salary" are ones who do not have money already to support themselves. The rest return it to the church. All your post is doing is becoming a forum for people who want to spout their distrust of God's chosen and find validation for why they should not give their tithing. What about the blessings so many of us do receive when we pay our tithing despite not knowing how we can afford to month to month. Should it matter that we are not so finely versed in the definition of wording from the 1800s? Because I'm not saying you're wrong when you look into what was going on during that time and when decisions were made, but choosing to give back a 10th of what the Lord has given you with the faith that it will be used to further God's kingdom and you will continue to be sustained by a loving Heavenly Father does not make you blind. In fact, I find it much worse for you to start looking for reasons not to and to start preaching against what a modern prophet is telling you to do. If you don't sustain President Monson as a prophet of God, then don't spout your beliefs as if you do.

Tammy said...

Wow! I think maybe you got triggered by a perception you have, contrary to what the article actually said.

I didn't see where the article refuted the 10 percent tithe.

I saw where the author actually said, "It's between you and the Lord".

In my opinion, it is important to know what the men are doing with the monies they receive on behalf of the Lord. Maybe they need to be accountable in showing what is being done, because most people will do whatever they want when they're not being watched by those who donate.

If you think it is better for you and your family to suffer financially, go for it. But I believe, with God all things can be a win, win situation. I happen to want to have my family taken care of and still have enough to share with others. I think God would smile at that.

Your assumptions of what the author and his readers believe or not believe, is purely speculative. Your emotions have taken over. Take a deep breath, go back and reread what is actually being expressed. And BTW, this post has been a great help to many people in understanding principles that have been twisted by years of imperfect people.

Tammy said...

Oh, and I wanted to say one more thing about "definition of words".
When an enemy wants to destroy a people they first corrupt the meaning of words which leads to confusion and then causes divisions which leads to their destruction.

"Divide and conquer".

Isaac said...

"During the bible." Classic. Stay cool Weston.

Isaac said...

This is a list of things I got from your comment:
1. You either didn't read the whole thing or your reading comprehension is extraordinarily low.
2. Only pure truth is ever taught in seminary—not ever once is anyone taught hearsay, cultural legends, or traditions as doctrine.
3. "Standing law forever" might mean "temporarily" or "for a fleeting moment."
4. Every dollar The Church gets is used for furthering God's kingdom. Uh-huh…
5. Modern prophets exist to "tell us what to do" because we obviously can't decide on our own.

Anonymous said...

The Lord clearly said, 'give all you have to the poor' (he didn't say give it to the 'church or leaders') (I believe 'all' means your excess. For I don't believe he wanted anyone to be homeless or starve to death just to help the poor & thus become poor themselves) (wisdom in all things).

So if we have given 'all' our excess to the poor, then there wouldn't be any left over to give to the church. So once 'all' the poor are taken care of, we could then build a chapel or temple or we would just pool our physical energies together to build a place or temple to meet in and we would not be paying salaries to anyone for serving in the Church as a leader.

As long as there are still poor to take care of, we should just be meeting in big open areas, groves or homes, in smaller groups. No church costs. And the prophet can get on a tower to talk to the people, what a novel idea.

So just because Joseph Smith said or interpreted that scripture to mean to give money to the Church to build temples or pay leaders ,instead of giving it to the Church to distribute to the poor, doesn't mean that he was right, for he also taught that if he said anything 'contrary' to what Christ or the scriptures say, then we shouldn't listen to him or anyone who taught 'contrary', but that we should always go by what Christ and the scriptures say 1st.

So clearly the interpretation is not right to give our money to the Church 1st (for even building a church or temple to meet in), before giving it to the poor, or before paying for necessities for ourselves & family.

Also, it appears Joseph Smith meant for the 'temple' to act like our Chapels today, mean't for Sunday services and other gatherings & talks. A public place for everyone to meet in, (not requiring recommends or even membership to go into).

So we don't need both chapels & temples, so that would cut down on alot of spending in the Church.

Brigham Young though, started the whole false 'sealing & ordinance' thing,(as a control thing) requiring temples to be only for the few who have recommends, thus needing chapels too.

Baptismal fonts (for the living & the dead) could still be in the multi-purpose temples that Joseph Smith envisioned, like they are in Chapels today.

But still, I believe the Lord meant for tithing to be for the poor, and very little if any for the Church costs, if there is anything left over after making sure 'all' the poor are taken care of sufficiently.

For who would ever give money to build a church or temple before keeping someone from being cold or hungry or in pain? It just wouldn't make sense or be Christlike.

Today the widows & the fatherless & the poor & needy suffer & are neglected in the Church while the money that could & should be given to them is spent on expensive buildings, churches, temples, investments & salaries for paid ministry. Follow the money.

I believe we will be held accountable and lose our salvation if we support and give our money to a church that does such things and doesn't follow Christ's laws and scriptures that say to help the poor before and to the exclusion of all else.

Anonymous said...

It appears you believe in the very false doctrine (that false prophets always preach) that 'the prophet or Church can't fall or led us astray'. When if you study church history or the scriptures you see that is proved totally false, in fact many, if not most, prophets have fallen or led people astray to do wrong, and the Church always eventually, usually quickly, falls into apostasy.

So once you realize your deception into believing it's ok & right to have blind 'faith' in the Church and leaders, you will awaken to your awful situation and realize that 'you' are the only one responsible for your eternal salvation, and you can't get to heaven on even the coattails of the Prophet by playing 'follow the leader'. Sorry, but it's not that easy.

True prophets always preach just the opposite, to not believe their words for it, but to always question & 'prove all things and research, ponder & pray about what any prophet, leader or anyone says, to make sure what they say is right and true.

You obviously don't realize that Joseph Smith said to question & judge all words & teachings, of even prophets, by what the holy scriptures say.

Today false prophets say to never question them, but just believe what they say cause they can never be wrong. The Adverary has put this false philosophy into most major religions of the earth, to keep the people from questioning and finding the errors and false doctrines in their religions, including the LDS religion.

Do you not realize that even Joseph Smith was wrong at times about things? That he called evil men to be apostles? That most of the apostles he called fell and led many people and the Church astray?

Please study your church history or you will have to repeat it.

The Lord wants us to have faith in 'Him' only and only follow what 'He' said and taught, and to judge if someone is a true prophet or disciple by 'IF' they practice & preach the same exact things as Christ did.

You must get out of the very 'false' paradigm the 'a Prophet or the Church can't fall or led us astray' before you will ever be able to understand what the true law of tithing is.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rock
Great article, but I have one question. You mention that the Malachi scriptures were likely directed at the Levite priests rather than the people. Fair enough. So what are we to make of the Book of Mormon where Christ wants the Malachi scriptures included in their own record (and apparently dictates them to the Nephites)? As far as I know, there were no Levite priests around the New World at the time :). Now, the next chapter does indicate that he expounded these scriptures further but we are not given the expounded parts ;)
My own analysis says that maybe it is included so that we will know that the principle of tithing carries beyond the Old Testament into the new gospel, which makes sense given D&C 119. But I also wonder if it also validates that there are indeed blessings promised for obeying the law of tithing?

Anonymous said...

to the person who wrote: "this is horrible"--

what do *we all* believe in? Well, first, that's a collectivist question, assuming that everyone who visits this board has the same testimony--

I don't think anyone on this discussion blog or on Rock's blog has the same testimony or has had the same spiritual experiences--

I am a RM, graduate of BYU, married to an RM for many decades--

I had experiences that made me question the 'arm of flesh', but I don't question the Holy Ghost or miracles or The Book of Mormon (which means that I think that Joseph Smith has been misrepresented)--
or the existence of God or the many experiences and blessings I have had/witnessed in my life that point to God being in charge--

I do take the scriptures literally about not trusting in the arm of flesh--

so I do question *my* "leaders"; they are, after all, mortal, like me--

Just because *I* am participating in these discussions doesn't mean that I feel exactly the same way as everyone else who is questioning or looking for truth--

I haven't made up *my* mind yet about tithing, though years before Rock wrote this blog essay on tithing I wondered why the definitions had changed--

and was concerned about it--

and I'm very concerned about why there isn't more spiritual power in the church--

why aren't *we* as LDS praying for peace in huge congregations? Why aren't *we* as LDS finding ways to end the hunger, etc., etc., etc.--

but I've had experiences that have changed me from a very conforming Mormon to one who questions--

um . . . I got humbled FLAT--

and now I don't see things the same way--

My heart doesn't pound when I see Thomas S. Monson, though I do believe he has the keys, in spite of his individual human flaws--

My heart pounds over deity, not over men/women--

Bryan Peifer said...

Dear Mr. This is horrible!

First, define what you mean by "true", when you say "the church is true." You're parroting.

Secondly, Many of us who joined the church when older, didn't go through indoctrination classes "seminary". Maybe that's why our minds are a little clearer about this subject than the brown shirts...oh wait, you don't know who they are do you? I agree with you on this point. A tenth is a tenth, but of what. A tenth of our surplus, which is what? For 32 years I've paid in a tenth on everything...EVERYTHING I've made and then some, according to Section 119. As Rock pointed out, study Section 119 in how it would have been understood in 1838.

You see, the church teaches a method of scripture study that employs gross proof-texting and the mistake of applying current cultural standards without understanding the culture and the backdrop of the history behind the scriptures. Maybe that's the drawback and danger of pulling kids out of bed at 5 am in the morning and forcing them to the indoctrination center.

I read an article, an old one, but still, it upsets me. Keith McMullin of DMC (church owned corp) said that “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attends to the total needs of its members". Excuse me, did I hear, the giver of all things?

What has happened is people have been taught for decades that if you sacrifice and tithe your gross income, you'll be blessed and taken care of. Wait a minute, does that sound like socialism? Hmmm. I guess it's different depending on which direction it's coming from right?

I remember at one time it was so bold to preach that you will be blessed beyond measure (very general and not specific so people naturally thought economically). Remember, it's the righteous that will prosper in the land. Then, they came out with a package not as great as the former, but still had coverage. They said, you'll have a roof over your heads, clothes to wear and food to eat. The basics...but still, don't mind the man behind the curtain. Just keep giving.

For some reason the idea has been taught that we have to create sacrifice and suffering to please the Lord. Isn't there enough to go around? Why, if I've been promised that I'll have money to get my debts paid off, while I've been working on a reduced income would the Lord want me to be paying large sums out, when I need to get my family out of this situation? Why? It doesn't make sense.

Article: http://www.businessweek.com/printer/articles/62364-how-the-mormons-make-money

ShawnC said...

Brian Mecham???

Sounds like you are finally seeing some of the error, and changing your thinking. Good for you.

Shawn Cloward

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Jim, since so much of the Book of Mormon is concerned with warnings of how we members in the future would stray from the path, my guess is that Jesus wanted the Malachi scriptures included for a warning as to what can happen if the people don't hold their leaders accountable for the funds they oversee.

Section 104:71 was included in the D&C specifically to make certain such abuses as the Levite priests were guilty of don't happen in our day, but like politicians and the Constitution, Church leaders today simply ignore the laws they don't wish to obey.

Gary Hunt said...

Rob: I think you make a very good observation. One thing to add to your comment is, that when you look at the definition of the word heed, most people assume it means obey. This is not correct. I have looked up the word heed in a number of dictionaries and the actual definition is "to pay attention" or "to give consideration and attention to". This is an example of the corruption of our language.

Anonymous said...

I was thinking the same thing. This is great to hear, hopefully vital, though unpopular, truths can now be shared on your websites.

Anonymous said...


I appreciate your sharing that definition. For that sounds right & is more in line with the commandment to 'prove all things' & 'question everything taught and everyone called to leadership' in the Church, for leaders, including prophets, can be easily be wrong about many things (even Joseph Smith was wrong at times & often deceived to call evil men to leadership positions, even to be apostles) & Prophets & leaders have even fallen at times throughout church & world history and have led many astray.

So we are to 'pay attention to and consider & thus research, ponder & pray about everything we hear from leaders and everything we see them do, to find out if they are righteous or not and teaching correct principles & really called of God or not.

From all that I have researched, studied, pondered & prayed about, none of the leaders since Joseph Smith died are righteous or called of God. Brigham Young and all those who followed him and led the Church with or after him, were all deceived by false doctrines and false prophets like BY & those who followed him up until today.

I believe the Church is in the deep apostasy, foretold by many ancient BoM prophets.

So I believe we must keep our eyes open for true prophets who will most surely come among us or who are among us in these last days.

We must be able to discern true prophets from false prophets & true doctrine from false doctrine, if we ever want to achieve Exaltation.

Jeff Spector said...

Very well researched article and quite interesting, but quite meaningless.

The law of Tithing as currently taught by the Church is "10% of your increase" period. it is up to individual members to determine what that means in spite of all opinions, discussions, past experience, the former law of consecration. etc.

When the member is asked, "is this a Full-tithe" or "are you a full tithe payer," they are free to answer the question as yes or no without circumstance, financial proof, paycheck stubs or further explanation.

It is ultimately between you and Lord as to how well you complied with the law.

It is typically characteristic of Americans in particular to attempt to get out of paying or to minimize paying, whether it is tithing, taxes or a TV.

Smells a bit like greed to me, financial challenges, notwithstanding

Jon said...

So, Jeff, are you so self righteous to say what the motives of the people that choose to pay on a differing amount than you do? Do you judge people that choose to pay off of their net instead of their gross the same way?

If someone decided to pay like Rock proposes and then do a switcheroo and pay 10% on gross to the poor - as Rock proposed? Would that be greedy?

Bryan Peifer said...

Yes Jeff, your comment does sound rather priggish.

Anonymous said...


Actually, the truth is, whatever past or current leaders of the Church are saying or teaching about tithing is what is completely 'meaningless'.

For, as Rock pointed out, Brigham Young changed tithing to be something it wasn't, no one can change doctrine, not even a prophet. We have to always go with what Joseph Smith taught, and better yet, with what the scriptures teach, not what the opinions of the current or past leaders of the Church are, for they may change with every new President.

For we all know, or should know, that 'tithing' wasn't the only thing or falsehood that Brigham Young quickly changed & instigated after Joseph died, he began teaching and allowing polygamy too, despite the fact that Christ, Joseph & ancient BoM Prophets all clearly taught that it was an adulterous whoredom that will damn those who live it.

Thus, because of such wickedness supported & done by leaders, BY & all other leaders since him had lost all their authority & keys to lead the Church or to receive revelation & thus they led the Church & members completely astray, and still do today.

So you are right, we must decide for ourselves what tithing means and pay it according to how 'we' believe the scriptures teach it, even & hopefully 'directly to the poor' and not to an apostate Church.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:05, I totally agree with you, the Church is completely corrupt and evil, despite all the good it does and teaches to 'look' good still and keep the people blindly obedient.

Telling the members to not question them and to have blind faith in them, promising them they can never lead them astray, is what keeps so many from seeing the light.

Most wicked people are very nice, most of the time, & do alot of good things to help others. That's how they stay undetected.

Satan knows he wouldn't get very far if he looked and acted like who he really was.

The Church has a great 'sheeps skin' on the outside, but when you look deeper or compare it's teachings and practices with Christ's, you quickly see what's under the sheeps skin.

Anonymous said...


2:10 here, I was also a 'product of multi-generational reductive correlated thinking', yet I was able to see the errors and realize that certain things weren't right.

It doesn't matter how we've been raised or how much we have studied the scriptures even, but rather 'if' we are living pure enough lives to have the Holy Spirit as our guide or not.

For if we have the Spirit it will wake us up to the falsehoods being done & taught around us & the Spirit can tell us the truth of all things, even if we haven't studied it yet for ourselves. We can just 'feel' that something isn't right, and then go research it ourselves.

The church leaders apparently don't have the Spirit and thus aren't 'feeling' how 'wrong' what they are involved in is or we would be seeing more G.A.'s awaken to the awful situation of the Church and repenting and leaving the Church, like the priest 'Alma' did in King Noah's day.

So leaders are just as accountable (read D&C 76 on those deceived) as any one else for being deceived to support and go along with evil, even more so, for they get to see more 'wrong' things going on behind the scenes that we don't.

We are all going to lose our 'Celestial' salvation if we allow ourselves to be deceived to support or go along with evil. That is the test of this life, to see who can be deceived by false doctrines and false prophets.

When I was a young & before I studied the scriptures much I still knew that being paid a salary by the Church would have been wrong (especially while so many women & children in the Ch. are still neglected & go without around me) (as a leader I would have seen this even more so, as I'm sure Pres. Monson did). I also knew the 1st time I heard about polygamy, that it was wrong too, along with so many other things taught & done in the Church.

It was 'the Spirit' that made me sense that things were not right, not 'my study' of these things. I began studying more 'because' the Spirit kept prompting me of how wrong things were and I wanted scriptures to back up my inspiration.

This isn't to say that church leaders shouldn't receive any money 'if they are truly poor themselves', but just that they wouldn't receive more money or allowance than other poor people in the Church do.

Nor would a righteous leader accept any money from the Church until at least all the women & children were completely taken care of in the Church 1st, even if he was poor himself.

Bryan Peifer said...

You know, I have no issues with those who voice their opinion in puremormonism. Let me toss this out there. We expect and are encouraged as citizens of the United States to learn the Constitution of the United States. Why? So we can guard against abuses and misinterpretation. Yeah, I know someone is going to through in the Supreme Court, but just listen to me for a moment.

Look at our current situation in this country now and I think people would agree, it is a mess. Could we as citizens helped to divert some of the problems? Yes, but people are willing to sit back and let someone tell them what the constitution says.

The same goes for the governance of the church. We have people who don't know how to separate policy from doctrine. A good example is blacks and the priesthood. It was policy, but some took it as doctrine because they believed what they were told and never took the time to investigate the issue themselves.

weston krogstadt said...

That was a good un Captain.

weston krogstadt said...

Well, I honestly believe every homless person out there would rob me blind if given the opportunity. Tell you what, invite a homeless person into your home, then say to him, "I have some shopping to do, I'll be back in about half an hour. Go ahead and make yourself at home." Then leave him in your home for half an hour, see what happens. Do I have an attitude that everyone is my enemy, or do I see the world the way it really is?

weston krogstadt said...

I'm not sure where you got that picture of the guy "outside the Deseret Book Store", but I remmber the exact same picture in my highschool history book. I graduated from highschool in 1989. "Eight hours", come on, EIGHT HOURS? What kind of Mormon-Haters am I dealing with here?

weston krogstadt said...

The sticker on the window of the picture says "David A. Stockman". David Alan Stockman is a former U.S. politician and businessman, representing the state of Michigan (1977–1981) and as the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (1981–1985). Is that the kind of guy that would be advertised on the window of a Deseret Book Store? Lies!

weston krogstadt said...

Ah, it's a book, a book titled: "The Triumph of Politics: Why the Regan Revolution Failed" Sounds exactly like the kind of book one would find in the front of a Deseret Book Store, doesn't it. It was published in 1986. Sure, this all makes sense now, a guy sat out in front of a Deseret Book Store for eight hours in March of 2006 while the Book Store advertised a book published in 1986 in it's front window. Ah, now I get it.

weston krogstadt said...

Mormon-Hating Asshat.

jsteimle said...

@truthhurts - Isn't the jet donated by a private individual, at no cost to the Church, that is, no thing monies are used to pay for said jet? If so, why would have any problem with it? It seems like there's a legitimate reason for the prophet to fly about in a private jet, the case being that it allows him to do 2-3 or more times the work he would be able to do if he were flying normal airlines. It's not as if it's all that nice to fly around, privately or otherwise. It's fun the first few times, and then you realize you're just sitting in a metal tube and you can't move around much for a few hours.

weston krogstadt said...

That picture of the homeless guy out in front of a "Deseret Book Store", it's really a 1986 picture taken by Vladimir Sichov in New York City. This blog is saturated with lies.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I've had homeless people in my home several times, Weston, sometimes to spend the night. I never felt I had to keep an eye on them, and I was never missing anything afterwards. Connie and I are convinced that on one occasion we had entertained an angel.

Nevertheless, that is not the point. You don't have to bring someone home with you in order to help them out. You don't have to "trust" them. All you have to do is give them a handout. Surely that's the minimum the Lord expects of you.

Anonymous said...

I can feel the love, Weston.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

I found that photo with the caption already attached on the internet. I know nothing of its provenance. But from my experience as a Mormon and living among other Mormons in Utah, the sentiment may be accurate. Perhaps the person who originally posted it was using it to illustrate an actual incident he knew about; I don't know.

The reality though, Weston, is that by your own admission, you would not have given this guy a dime. Six years ago, neither would I. In fact, I would have been quite annoyed with such a scroungy character dirtying up the area in front of my precious Deseret Book, same as I used to be offended at beggars congregating outside temple square. I was once standing outside a grocery store chatting with my ward relief society president when we were approached for change. After we gave him the brushoff, the RS said to me, "I hate when they do that" and we continued our conversation.

I think it's safe to say, Weston, that you and I and that Relief Society President are pretty typical of the culture. The idea that a beggar could sit in front of a Deseret Book store all day and not receive any money does not seem all that far-fetched.

Anonymous said...

He's a poser. Most likely an "anti" himself, trying to portray members in a bad light. Even the most culturally embedded true blue Mormon isn't as over-the-top as this guy.

ShawnC said...

And not so "RKYish" :-)

There was a time we made fun of those Rameumptomites, then LDSFF essentially became them.

all the best,

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Perhaps you could benefit by an explanation of the use of illustrations, Weston, using the cartoon I included at the top of this post as a...well, as an illustration.

That cartoon of men in suits shoveling mountains of cash into a money pit does not, to my knowledge, represent any actual general authorities of the Church. I didn't draw it, I just found it. Most likely it portrays either corporate bigwigs or politicians. The reason I used it was I felt it adequately ILLUSTRATED the way many of our hard-earned tithes over time have been wasted by the Church bureaucracy, both during the period prior to 1899 (when Lorenzo Snow put a stop to the abuses), again during the Henry Moyle fiasco of the late 50s and early 60s, and today, what with City Creek and all. I thought it was illustrative of a point.

Similarly, the picture of the hungry beggar in front of the bookstore was not the point of the piece, and it really doesn't matter whether the mendicant really was sitting in front of a Deseret Bookstore or not. The photo was merely ILLUSTRATIVE OF one of my beliefs, which was, to quote what I actually said, "We give much more than is required to the Priests of Levi, But when approached on the street by someone who is truly in need, we clutch our money tight to our bosoms." Again, your own admission of animosity toward such persons is indicative of what I believe to be a widespread attitude among Latter-day Saints, WHICH WAS THE POINT.

As I said, I don't know the story that was originally attached to that picture; it's floating around the internet somewhere. But it seems likely that the person who originally captioned that picture to illustrate HIS example did so because he did not take a photo of the actual hungry young man who was the point of his story, and probably felt a stock photo would do to ILLUSTRATE his point. And I think it did.

How did he know the young man had sat there eight hours? I don't know. Perhaps he engaged the young man in conversation. Perhaps he watched. Perhaps he made it all up. Whatever the reality, that photo had little to nothing to do with my thesis on tithing.

In your juvenile enthusiasm to declare my entire blog to be "saturated with lies," Weston, you seem to have, in the words of our Savior, "strained at a gnat." So far you have failed to show me that my blog is "saturated" with lies, or even that the piece on tithing is. But I await further evidence from you. You do seem motivated, so if you find any actual errors of DOCTRINE, please do let me know so I can go back and correct them.

Jon said...


Not to mention that when you have a private jet you don't have to be molested just to fly. I wouldn't demean anyone for getting to have that privilege, except for the people that created the porno scanners and those that do the dirty work feeling up people at the airport - I suppose I lack some Christian love in that aspect.

Gaybob Spongebath said...

That was one of the thoughts that ran through my head the first time I saw Weston's blog. I also thought it might be the work of an overzealous seminary student who had just learned of the existence of anti-Mormon sentiments and felt it his duty to take on the enemies of the Church. But no, Weston is apparently old enough to have served in the military, so he is no kid.

Weston Krogstadt's blog, "It's The Mormon Hater Show," is one of those things that would make a TBM cringe. You gotta think the general authorities look at it and say, "with friends like these..."

Then again, as you say, he may just be someone who is deliberately trying to embarrass the church by posing as a typical defender of the faith. If so, it's working.

Anonymous said...


Yes, I do believe that the Church went into apostasy after the death of Joseph Smith, but that doesn't mean that every man lost his Priesthood, for there were many men who did not fall for Brigham Young and who went off and lived the Gospel the best they could without a Prophet to lead them, for they still have the scriptures that Joseph had given them.

If any of those men stayed righteous they could have passed on the Priesthood to their sons & grandsons etc. I believe there are many people today who possess the true Priesthood, but I doubt most of them are in the current LDS Church.

I believe that if we ask God today which Church is the 'true' church with the real Priesthood keys & authority, like Joseph Smith did when he saw that everyone & every church interpreted a different doctrine from the same scriptures, (like even LDS leaders do), then I believe God will answer the same, 'none of them', for they are all false and corrupt (Just as the BoM foretells will happen to all churches in the last days, including the 'Holy Church of God'.)

But that does not mean that the Priesthood has been totally lost from the earth. Joseph Smith (supposedly) said that the 'Kingdom of God' which he restored will remain on the earth as long as just 'one' righteous man with the Priesthood can receive personal revelation. So in that way the Kingdom of God & it's power, authority & keys, is almost surely still on the earth.

You know, not every apostle followed Brigham Young, thus those who didn't could have stayed righteous and passed on any & all keys that Brigham Young once held but then lost because of his wickedness.

Also, do you have documented 'published' proof that Joseph Smith actually signed his name to & published that statement you refer to 'while he was alive'? Or is it again hearsay, from someone who wanted people to believe the Church couldn't quickly fall into apostasy, like it almost always did every other time throughout history.

Even Joseph could see that the members (and most leaders) were falling into apostasy, even before he died. He of all people knew how easy it was for a whole Church to fall.

Anonymous said...


Also, even if you don't even consider the evils that Brigham Young & the other early leaders did, it is very easy to see how all the Church leaders even today have lost their Priesthood, keys & authority, by doing, allowing, supporting, encouraging, and even rewarding the vilest of evils, & letting the guilty go free and persecuting the innocent & humble & causing them to suffer even more.

If you can see the evil that is now being done & supported in the Church by everyone, except for a few members who are righteous & waking up to the wickedness in the Church around them, you know without a doubt that the Church is not led by Christ anymore nor by righteous leaders who have Christlike love & hasn't been led by him since Joseph Smith. By their fruits ye shall know them.

Lee said...

Inspire, could you please give more information on how you set up your tax free, individual charity account?

Inspire said...

You have to start by creating a charitable fund. You can go through the likes of Shwab, Fidelity, Vanguard and others. Google "donor advised funds" or go to this link: http://www.forbes.com/2011/02/28/donor-advised-funds-intelligent-investing.html

What happens is you donate to the fund, tax free. If you have a good year, then donate more than ten percent (in case you have a bad year down the road). I do it directly through my business, but you can do it individually as well. Once the money is in the fund, you can only take it out to give to a charitable organization. This is good, because sometimes there are some local charities I want to give to besides the Church. Depending on what fund you go with, you can also "grow" your money in the market. I've had mine in it for years, and there have been up and down times, but overall, it has increased.

When you are ready to send to the Church, you call up the rep or just go online (which is what I do) and tell them how much to donate to the Church. You'll need their EIN, address, purpose, etc. They will research it to make sure it is legit. You can identify yourself, but that defeats the whole purpose, so I mark it as Anonymous.

It seems like a pain, and setting it up is a little tedious, but once you have done that, it is quite simple. Just go online whenever you feel like donating. The bishop is not allowed to question the $0.00 at the end of the year. Mine never has.

Hope this helps.

PS - This is how all the fat cats do it (including our friend, Mitt, I'm sure). The Church seems to discourage the lay member from donating this way (you will find very little out there, especially from the LDS.org), but since they still allow it, you know that it serves their purposes for the right kind of donor. Also, you can still do tithing "in kind," giving real estate and stock. How do you think they acquired so much property?

Bryan Peifer said...

It's funny about the picture of the guys in suits. In Matthew 3:4 it reads about one of the greatest of men, and it says, "Now John wore clothing made from camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist, and his diet consisted of locusts and wild honey." Wow, what a contrast, that the corporate look would be the image selected by the leadership. If I remember correctly, "something respectable."

I'm not saying I know what best to wear, I'm just saying, what a contrast. Wow, I just had a thought. Maybe the missionaries could then going around sporting a look like John. No, that wouldn't work. People would run from that just as people run from two guys in white shirts sporting name tags. Forget it.

Bryan Peifer said...

The thing that got me about "Mr. This Is Horrible" is when he basically was saying that it was nitpicking when John pulled the 1828 Webster definitions from his holster and started plinking away. Forget accuracy! It's evident that's not what some of the leadership is concerned about. All accuracy does is brings up more questions! We don't want that! Oh, all these questions.

After the supposed nitpickiness of Rock, which really iritates those who just want us to get along and be the common rank and file of the church, I purchased, the 1828 Webster Dictionary for my iPhone. It's absolutely awesome.

weston krogstadt said...

That's all you have to say for yourself? You posted a picture on your blog that is full of Anti-Mormon lies, and all you have to say for yourself is "Well, uh, I just got that picture off the Internet, maybe it's true, but you Weston, you are the real jerk here!" What kind of a Mormon-Hating weasel are you?

weston krogstadt said...

Did you tell the homeless people about how evil the LDS church is? Did you give them a copy of the picture of the homeless guy sitting out front of the "Deseret Book Store"? You fricking liar. "Wo be unto the liar for he shall be thrust down to hell." That's from a Book called the Book of Mormon, you've probably never read it.

Anonymous said...

What exactly is your message, Mr. Krogstadt? You espouse to believe the truths of the Book of Mormon, yet it appears that your goal is to cause contention by spewing sophomoric names and making accusations.

If I may quote the Book of Mormon: "But behold, that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof.

For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, AND THEY BE STIRRED UP TO ANGER, and perish;

For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good."

Do you realize that by pointing fingers at those who are truly seeking answers, you are creating up your own future world? I would love to know what you hope to accomplish with your caustic posts and blog.

To others reading this. Don't fall for the trap. By their fruits shall ye know them.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yes Weston, that's all I have to say.

For the record, I never called you a jerk. But I do feel you are a bit overwrought about this.

Daniel Collins said...

Schools are expensive. I do not know the cost of a student attending BYU. I do know the cost of attending a school in the town in New Hampshire where I live. It costs $14,800 per student per year. It is a median number for students in neighboring towns. (This is for kindergarten to high school students.)

I would assume the cost of attending BYU is at least as much. Then, you have to add living expenses above that.

Currently, I have two kids attending college. Why should I subsidize students attending BYU? As far as I can see, it is not a mission of the church to subsidize a small percentage of kids attending a church college.

I have to admit I took the advantage when I was younger.

Gary Hunt said...

Mr. Krogstadt:

It amazes me that a person can commit as many logical fallacies in one short paragraph. I have listed three (3) major ones below:

1. Straw Man:

A straw man argument attempts to counter a position by attacking a different position usually one that is easier to counter. The arguer invents a caricature of his opponent’s position – a “straw man” – that is easily refuted, but not the position that his opponent actually holds.

2. Ad hominem:

An ad hominem argument is any that attempts to counter another’s claims or conclusions by attacking the person, rather than addressing the argument itself. It should be noted that simply calling someone a name or otherwise making an ad hominem attack is not in itself a logical fallacy. It is only a fallacy to claim that an argument is wrong because of a negative attribute of someone making the argument. (i.e. “John is a jerk.” is not a fallacy. “John is wrong because he is a jerk.” is a logical fallacy.)

The term “poisoning the well” also refers to a form of ad hominem fallacy. This is an attempt to discredit the argument of another by implying that they possess an unsavory trait, or that they are affiliated with other beliefs or people that are wrong or unpopular. A common form of this also has its own name – Godwin’s Law or the reductio ad Hitlerum. This refers to an attempt at poisoning the well by drawing an analogy between another’s position and Hitler or the Nazis.

3.Begging the Question:

The term “begging the question” is often misused to mean “raises the question,” (and common use will likely change, or at least add this new, definition). However, the intended meaning is to assume a conclusion in one’s question. This is similar to circular reasoning, and an argument is trying to slip in a conclusion in a premise or question – but it is not the same as circular reasoning because the question being begged can be a separate point. Whereas with circular reasoning the premise and conclusion are the same. The classic example of begging the question is to ask someone if they have stopped beating their wife yet. Of course, the question assumes that they beat their wife.

The above definitions came from www.skepticsguide.org. There are numerous other websites which give the same definitions.

I do however think that your comments are quite entertaining!

The Arkwelder said...

If my children were about to starve, I would consider it a sin of the gravest kind to pay my tithing. If it was truly what God wanted, and not some self-aggrandizing institution, I would cease to call God good. I believe in sacrifice, but the sacrifice needs to be meaningful. I will not mock God, but I expect him not to mock me with petty tests of obedience. There seem to be a lot of people here who don't understand the concept of Grace. Grace isn't a reward for righteousness. Rather, it is Grace that entices one to be righteous. If you pay your tithing, don't view it as a transaction or an investment or an insurance policy. That only cheapens it. Rather, think of it as gratitude. And no, God doesn't expect you to pay tithing even though your children are starving. It would seem very out-of-character for the God spoken of by King Benjamin.

weston krogstadt said...

I knew you wre too arrogant to take that picture down. You have no honor. Ethics mean nothing to you, truth means nothing to you. Just think how easy it would have been to say, "You know what, that picture is a complete lie and was created by some Mormon-Hating Romney-Hating liberal, I should take it down." But nope, not you, it makes the church look bad, and, in your mind, it would make you look weak to take it down. So you are going to "hold your ground" and "stick to your guns" on this one.

Just think for one moment if a Jew went onto a web page and found a picture that said, "Here is a jewish child molester giving candy to German children in 1934" then the web page went on to say, "Of course Hitler should have rounded up the Jews, look what the Jews were doing in the 30s" Then the Jew doing the investigating found out the picture was some made up piece of garbage created by Neo-Nazis, what do you think the Jew would think of the author of the web page? This is what I think of you Alan, I think of you as an arogant, weak, effeminate Mormon-Hating slime ball. I would excommunicate you and give you a dishonorable discharge from the Church if I had my way. You lying piece of rat shit.

Anonymous said...

Hey Gary, he just followed your script to the letter.

Rock, now that weston has resorted to Jr. High name-calling, I vote that you just ban the guy. He's become a distraction to this very important conversation. If he has something rational to add, by all means, let him in. But I look at him now as just a spammer with his own agenda.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Oh, I could never block Weston Krogstadt; he provides too much enjoyment.

I did of course consider removing the photo in question, but ironically, young Weston has me over a barrel on that one. If the picture were to suddenly disappear at this stage, readers just coming across Weston's correspondence would have no idea what the controversy was about; thus Brother Krogstadt has forced me to leave it up there for the benefit of new readers who might wonder what exactly he is objecting to.

If you'll click on the name of Todd, who commented on December 5 (and elsewhere), you'll find what I consider a very appropriate poster that could replace the photo of the guy in front of the bookstore. Alas, there just doesn't seem to be room near that paragraph for both pictures, and since Weston, by raising this controversy, has forced me to leave the original photo standing, I guess that's the way things will have to remain.

It's too bad he did not bring this error to my attention privately, for then I could have quietly removed it and that would have been that. Sadly, Weston's uncontrollable need for showing off (see his blog for further evidence) has created my current dilemma.

Since Weston has already provided us with the facts regarding that photo, and I don't dispute them, I feel no further correction is necessary. Weston Krogstadt has performed his due diligence, and we can all be grateful to him for that.

Rob said...

The Nephites were living the law of Moses. Levites or not, someone had to perform the same office that the Lord had condemned through Malachi.

Rob said...

Free 1828 Webster:

Anonymous said...

10% of gross seems trivial considering all we have is God's. Why aren't we talking about giving all we have away?

Bryan Peifer said...

Hello Arkwelder,

Say it and and say it again Arkwelder. Well said my brother. One of my favorite quotes from Joesph Smith is the following,

"Nothing is so much calculated to lead people to forsake sin as to take them by the hand and watch over them with tenderness. When persons manifest the least kindness and love to me, oh, what power it has over my mind. Our Heavenly Father is more liberal in his views, and boundless in his mercies and blessings than we are ready to believe or receive." [The Personal Writings of Joseph Smith, 509]

How dare we create a god in the image of man.

Lip service is given to the love of God and his tender mercies, but we talk it up in sacrament on all of the hoops and rings of fire that we must go through in order to EARN our great reward. Next thing we'll have is a T-Shirt for how many times we've been to the temple in a year or "Never Missed A Sacrament Meeting Year 2012".

One year they had a read the Book of Mormon year in our stake. For those who completed it in that year, they gave out a certificate. Is this what we as a church have gravitated to? It all starts with bringing cookies to primary class, then we teach of a god who gives us treats when we choose the right or get a good feeling.

If you dare tell members that no matter what great works they do or no matter how many times they go to sacrament meeting or go to the temple, without His grace we are NOTHING.

Remember the words of King Benjamin,
"...even so I would that ye should remember, and always retain in remembrance, the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you," Mosiah 4:11

And the words of Joseph Smith,
"That which the world calls righteousness, I have not any regard for. To be righteous is to be just and merciful. If a man fails in kindness, justice and mercy, he will be damned for many will say in that day, 'Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name and in thy name done many wonderful works?' But He will say unto them, 'Ye workers of iniquity'." [Words of Joseph Smith, 206]

Jon said...

10% of gross seems trivial considering all we have is God's. Why aren't we talking about giving all we have away?

Anyone stopping you? You are free to do as you will.

Wasn't it the Pharisee's that tried getting people to do more than what God asked them to do? To make more of the law than what it really was and make hedges around it? Feel free to pay more than what God asks, just don't tell others that they have to.

Why not give all our money away? Well, it is given to man to have joy in this life and to have agency. It is up to each individual how much they are willing to give and how much they deem necessary or wanting for themselves and as gifts to others. If we look at someone and say they should give more it is a form of covetousness. Yes, maybe they ought to, but let us teach by principle.

Bryan Peifer said...

Yup, got that URL saved too. Thanks Rob

Bryan Peifer said...

Jon, don't take the bait. This sounds fishy to me.

All right now. Who is this. Stop hiding behind "Anonymous" and come out.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Well said, Jon. Although the law of tithing does not demand much of us, I am all for giving a much larger percentage of my earnings for charitable purposes. But that's MY decision, and it's based somewhat on a desire to make up for a miserly past. I have no right to insist others do the same.

This piece I wrote on tithing has now been shared in several LDS forums as well as around Facebook, and it has elicited some real anger from those who want me to know that they have received blessings for tithing a tenth of their gross to the Church, and are upset with me for saying that much is not necessary.

I have to wonder why such animosity aimed at me? I'm not telling any of these people they are not ALLOWED to give more than required if that's what they feel to do. Who am I to doubt their testimonies of blessings for doing so? So why do they get so het up with me? Just go ahead and keep giving the amount you enjoy giving, who's stopping you?

Like you say, they seem to want the right to tell others that they should do as they do, and they resent any suggestion to the contrary. What is this compulsion some people have to run other's lives? The law of tithing is very clear that it consists of a tenth of one's increase; if a person wants to give more than that, I won't stand in their way. Good heavens! There are no penalties that I know of for being overly generous.

Say Jon, how were you able to put that quote in italics here? I haven't been able to find a way to emphasize words in this comment section other than to capitalize them. Do you know a secret?

AV said...


God's aim is not to make us all 'poor', but to teach us to take care of our families and then give all our 'excess' to the poor. We also must take the wording in the Bible with a huge grain of salt, for it was probably translated over & over by unrighteous & uninspired people with agendas.

I believe that if we had been there when Christ taught this principle, we would have understood that He mean't give everything we have 'left over' to the poor (after taking care of our own families needs)...

It reminds me of how the airlines tells us that in an emergency to place the oxygen mask on yourself 1st, then on your child or anyone else you intend to help. The principle is to take care of our own basic needs 1st, then assist others.

God doesn't want us to become just another one of the 'poor' & needy by giving more than is wise or which will cause our own family to suffer.

For Christ also said that he who doesn't take care of his own is worse than an infidel, clearly a man cannot give everything away & make his family 'needy' or he would be an infidel. So we have to use wisdom from the Holy Spirit in discerning wording in the Bible.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you Daniel. Not to mention how wrong it is to expect people to help support a school that their kids can't or don't even go to.

It seems like the Church is doing what the Gov. unfairly does to home-schoolers & private schoolers, expecting people to pay into schools that their children don't use.

Isaac said...

Weston, you're doing The Church proud right now. Don't stop. This is exactly what Jesus would do. Go the extra mile with the insults.

Jon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Jon said...

Last time!

Hey Rock,

Just use "<" symbol with "i" and then ">" as the opening html tag and then < symbol and then / symbol and then i and then > symbol tag as a closing tag. You can use a "b" for bold (replace the "i"). For other tags just look up "html (what you want to do) tag"

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Yikes! I didn't follow any of that. Sorry I asked.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

A concerned reader has kindly provided me with a corrected version of the photograph that has been of such concern to reader Weston Krogstadt. It can be found at the very bottom of the original post. I'm certain Brother Krogstadt will find this to his liking, and that we can now put this silliness to rest.

Hank said...

And just so you can put a face to the wonderful insight, here is a pic of our friend, Weston

Anonymous said...

oh, anonymous who says we should give all--

we should; we could; we don't--

the system got terribly broken--

for those of *us* who would love to have all things in common, would love to be right in Zion, right now--

there still needs to be rents paid and food purchased--

and something to cover bodies--

Inspire said...

I think all this talk of tithing is good and healthy, because we are starting to get to the core of the issue. We talk of building Zion, but argue about the minutia of how that is going to happen. If how things are currently set up is the "right" way to do it, don't you think that we'd have Zion by now? Or does God intend on having us struggle for a few hundred more years until we all become completely obedient to the creeds of the corporation?

Let's get real, folks. The reason Zion has not been established is because it is not our commission to bring it. As Gentiles, the Book of Mormon is asking us to repent and come to Christ. Eventually, when our faith is sufficient, we will be given the "hidden things," or the sealed records, which we are to take to the Remnant of Lehi. That's it. Zion is not ours to build. That task belongs to the House of Israel, not to us. If we are lucky, we will assist.

Once we realize that these letter of the law things really don't matter, and start turning our hearts towards our brothers and sisters and their well-being (becoming nurturing mothers and fathers), then we will get the attention of heaven. Until that time, though, I think we'll keep going in circles, arguing over things which really have no relevance to our true mission.

ShawnC said...


Awesome! I'm totally making a t-shirt like that and wearing it as much as possible. Not kiddding, I'm really gonna do it.

This is off topic, but another idea to just break up the monotony I want to try is, to get a flask and put water or grape soda or something in it and periodically take a "swig" from it at random times in SM and EQ. Ha, good times!

ShawnC said...


Just look up HTML hash tags on google. That will tell you all you need to know.

Gary Hunt said...


Great quotes! Especially the ones by Joseph Smith.

I used to feel so guilty every time I took a breath, a step or sneezed! At least that's how I felt after going to church or listening to conference. The message that would come across is, "you are not good enough". I got to the point where I thought there was something wrong with me and would not make it (to heaven). This because I could not keep up with the list of things I thought I was supposed to be doing! This led me to a period of deep study and sincere prayer.

What happened after praying one time was so amazing that it's hard to find words to describe. The most peaceful and wonderful feeling came over me. I knew that my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ loved me and forgave me! Words and concepts flooded my mind as I was taught that many of these weaknesses and sins are not as serious as I had been taught. In other words, on a scale of 1 to 10, what I thought was an 8 was really a 4. I learned that these weaknesses and sins are still things I needed to overcome and that they (Heavenly Father and Jesus) are there to understand and help me. "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matt. 11:30)

Thanks again for the quotes!

Anonymous said...

Inspire, 9:40--

I like what you wrote here--

LDSDPer (I'm the one who uses all the dashes and dots)--


Yuukanna said...

Amazing analysis of doctrine and it's application into the real world. As always Rock.

Adam T. said...

To all those who are truly seeking for the truth:

We should be grateful to the "krogstadts" and "Ms/Mr Horribles" out there. Their opposition is but a small taste of what is to come, and it provides an opportunity to "...Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" (Matthew 5:44).

Full disclosure: By making reference to "krogstadt" I'm merely using that name to illustrate something (i.e., "opposition"). I have not done any research to establish whether or not a Weston Krogstadt actually exists. Nor, if he does actually exist, have I verified that the posts on this blog actually originated from said individual. Further, even if said individual does exist, and if the posts did originate from this individual, I have not confirmed that said individual is in his/her (another thing I haven't formally established) right mind, nor that said individual was making the posts of his/her own free will and choice without coercion and not under the influence of any mind-altering substances.

Gary Hunt said...

There has been a lot of talk about Zion and it's establishment. Here are a couple of scriptures to consider.

Luke 17:20-21

20 ¶And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:

21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.

Doctrine and Covenants 97:21

21 Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.

A number of years ago I read an article by an elderly Protestant minister. This article had a profound affect on me. The topic he addressed was, the second coming of Jesus Christ. I will paraphrase the basic idea of his message.

He said that in his earlier years he was very anxious to see the second coming of Christ. But after many years he came to the realization that the most important second coming of Christ was us allowing Him into our hearts and changing us on the inside.

Zion/ Kingdom of God has to be established in our hearts (within us) before we can be part of establishing them in the physical sense.

PallasAthena said...

Hey Rock-

Another great post. Thanks.

On my mission I started carrying rolls of $5 bills and gave one to anyone who asked or looked like they were in need. It amazed me how little it affected my finances, because it seemed like I was giving out a lot of them, and like you...I wasn't counting.

I'm sure you've read it, but if you haven't, I'm sure you would fin Great Basin Kingdom by Leonard Arrington a fascinating read.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

That's one of the books I own but have never read, now buried somewhere in boxes in the back room. Wish I could get at it. From what I've read elsewhere, it's a wonderful source of information. For instance, Arrington tells us where Brigham Young got all his money to support all those wives and live in a mansion. (Hint: he "borrowed" it from tithing funds and died before paying any of it back.)

Gary Hunt said...

There is a good book called "The Kingdom or Nothing: The Life of John Taylor, Militant Mormon" by Samuel W. Taylor. In it he talks about how John Taylor had to sort through the Church finances and try to figure out what was Brigham's and what was the Church's. Let's just say that Brigham's wives and children were not very happy.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Thanks for another great source, Gary. I know of that book, but I don't own it. Looks like it's time to search for a used copy.

I had read somewhere that the Church dinged (or tried to) Brigham's widows for repayment, which I think was in the neighborhood of 100,000 dollars. Sounds like that book is the source.

That would explain why the Lion House is in the possession of the Church tosay, and no longer owned by any of Brigham's descendants.

Gary Hunt said...

Sorry, I didn't finish the sentence.I should say they were not happy with the what John Taylor came up with.

Gary Hunt said...


When I find my copy, I will get you the numbers. However, if I remember correctly, Brigham left about $1,000,000.00 to his wives and kids. Brigham had commingled Church assets with his own.

Gary Hunt said...

Sorry for the repeat message. I am new to blogging and I thought I had lost the message the first time.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

No problem, Gary. I just deleted the duplicate.

(I wield incredible power here.)

Anonymous said...

Adam T., 10:27

DPer here; I appreciate what you have to say, because I was beginning to think that Weston Krogstadt was a real person, and now I am beginning to wonder if he is a--

what is the word for it? Well, maybe cointelpro?

An agent provocateur? I don't know; I have tried to read and study these things, but I don't understand them well.

Bin Laden was apparently involved with the Bushes (socially) before becoming America's number 1 enemy--

Maybe it's the same principle.

The fact is that I have often wondered how it felt to be a mainstream, sensible, compassionate, intelligent, well-educated Muslim, and since I know quite a few of those, I have wondered how they feel about those who have become radical and extreme--

and who are used by other nefarious groups/individuals to hurt anything good--

And now I am beginning to understand. A person who becomes a radical, violence-espousing Mormon makes me feel a lot of empathy for mainstream Muslims.

Because I am a peace-wanting Mormon who wants to build bridges to righteous people of all religions. I espouse peace, though I can't claim that I've struck all thoughts of anger/violence completely from my heart.

Weston is a good test, whether he is a real person or not.

I know some very good Jews who get tired of those Jews who shout, "anti-semitism" at every possible criticism of the nation some Jews (and many Christians) get very excited about--

who cringe and feel embarrassed about being Jews and want to tell every reasonable person they meet, "I'm not one of those who shouts at you, 'anti-semite' if you criticize the nation some of the people who claim religious association with me defend."

I have heard that there is an element among Mormons that is becoming quite radical and defensive, looking for and finding slights even in places where no slights are intended--

and looking for reasons to call every man who is not exactly like *them* an enemy.

It's a scary thought. But I need to remember to guard myself against the thoughts/ideas/philosophies, not against the people. People are so easily led astray and are, after all, children of Heavenly Father.

Anonymous said...

DPer here--

Ah, Brigham, Brigham--

Is it terrible for me to say that I'm glad I'm not descended from him?!


I've often wondered if those constant crises in Missouri might have done some emotional/mental damage to a few people--

but Brigham! That's not really a good excuse--

*shaking my head*

Gaybob Spongebath said...

I'm quite sure Weston Krogstadt is for real, and the picture Hank posted above is no joke. It was taken by Weston himself, of himself. Brother Krogstadt makes no apologies. He is, by his own admission, "hardcore." From his website "It's the Mormon Hater Show" here is his bio:

"It is I, The Screaming Nephite, The Lone Danite, The Ultimate Alpha Male, The One, The Only, Weston Krogstadt! I am the host and star of the show! I am a valient (sic) defender of the faith. There is no time or room for gray in my life. Let's face it, you either love me or you hate me, you are either good or evil, your inspiration is coming from the Holy Ghost or Satan. Thank goodness you have found my blog!"

"My name is Weston Krogstadt, and Yes I am an active practicing Mormon. I'm a true believer. Joseph Smith is a true prophet, Jesus is the Christ, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is His church. I am Mormon-Hard-Core baby!"

Those of us who consider ourselves devout believers in the Restoration, yet question some of the unscriptural actions of LDS Church leadership, had better watch our backs. Weston Krogstadt will bitch-slap us all the way back to Outer Darkness.

Gaybob Spongebath said...

Just to be clear, Weston is NOT a Mormon Hater. Quite the opposite. As host of "The Mormon Hater Show" Weston is on a crusade to put down and destroy the arguments of any and all who he decides is a "Mormon Hater."

That would include our friend Rock Waterman, now apparently Public Enemy Mormon Hater Number One in Weston's eyes.

Anonymous said...

well, then, if he is real, he is dangerous. Not to evil, but to good--

'defenders of faith' are often collaborators with the darkness, I have found.

The crusaders and inquisitors considered themselves to be 'defenders of faith'--

Weston Krogstadt decides what is good and evil; if you are for him, you are good--

scary person--

He thinks a lot of himself, if his language is any indicator, as did Korihor.

Jon said...

In all seriousness Weston was probably abused somehow as a child or experienced some other sort of childhood trauma. This is probably the reason he acts the way he does. God bless that he get some psychiatric help and confronts the problems he has experienced as a child. I really hope no child has to go through whatever he had to go through.

Alan Rock Waterman said...

Amen, Jon. I bear the man no ill will.

Shawn said...

I read this blog from time to time and a good amount of the time I find that rock's posts seem to have come out of my head! Though I'm neither smart nor articulate enough to write such articles. So thanks, rock, for what you do.

Well here are my thoughts about tithing and some of the reasons that I am studying tithing and was led (?) to read this particular post:

I'm a lifelong devoted tithe payer, rm, temple married, active guy. My zeal for paying tithing extends to where I have numerous times slid my anonymous tithing cash under some bishops door. (Because I was living with a single older lady while attending BYU which is against the rules and if I attended a regular ward and was interviewed by a bishop and found living where I was, I'd get kicked out of the school. But I didn't make enough money telemarketing to attend school and eat and pay rent so this lady let me live in a spare room for free in exchange for washing the car, carrying groceries, cleaning the house etc.) plus, I don't care if the money is traced to me or not. Anonymous is fine by me. I only give that background to show that I am not trying to "get out of paying tithing".


Shawn said...

So anyway here is what concerns me about tithing as it is practiced:

1-I am the president of my HOA and I feel like its part of my duty to make sure every cent of our dues paid by all of us in the neighborhood are carefully (even prayerfully) used and accounted for. I almost consider the dues sacred because if the hard work and sacrifice it takes by all 129 owners in my neighborhood to pay the monthly due. The budget and use of the dues are available for anyone who is interested in examining them. What would happen if I were to say "oh don't worry about where your money is being used. Just trust me." That would be so shady and immoral and I would be thrown out in an instant. And justifiably so. And yet that is what is happening in my church. It does not feel right to me.


Shawn said...

2-the other thing lately that makes me say "whoa, wait just a minute, what is going on here?!" Is this:

I live in st George Utah in a totally average ward. My super rough calculation is that our ward receives about $200k in tithing per year. There are 3 wards in our building. My uneducated guess is that there are about 80 families that are active in the ward, and if we all made an average American household income of $40k and if we all pay on gross earnings, that would be $320k, but then very generously factor that maybe 30 families don't pay tithing or some people make less money or whatever. But don't assume anyone makes or pays more. That's why I say $200k--to make sure I'm being conservative in my calculations. So $200k is donated, yet our ward budget is somewhere between $11-13k per year.... And yeah I know there are building costs etc that is not in our budget, like mowing the lawn, fixing the air conditioner and stuff like that. But 2 other wards share those costs. So the thing that really makes me concerned here is that a hefty sum of money is being tithed and a small amount is being sent back for our use. We didn't have enough money this year to have Hawaiian style pork at our Hawaiian-themed Christmas party as advertised. We could afford a big tray of funeral style ham, which was concentration camp-style rationed out so everyone would get a taste. This seems and feels wrong that such a wealthy organization as my church gathers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year but our ward operates like a poor house. Something is wrong....

I wish I had known our ward was out of money because I would very much like to have used my accumulated tithing money to have paid for the ward Christmas party. I'm currently sitting on my tithing money unsure how to pay it. I'm thinking about putting it all in the row on the tithing slip that says "other" and then request that it pay for the kids' scout camp or something like that to at least keep it from paying for the eye and ear popping tabernacle choir extravaganza that I just read about in the paper. Those concerts are not free, you know. Imagine how much the power bill is to just keep the lights on for a concert like that. And since the tickets were free, guess where the money maybe came from? Yep you guessed it, from wards and branches like yours and mine. How about next year the church simmers things down a little around temple square and instead bumps up the ward operating budgets a little? Lets make the prophet's birthday party a half hour shorter and let every ward on earth have Hawaiian pork at the Christmas party.

Jon said...


Just so you approach it with some more nuance. You have to remember that much of the money you pay in tithes goes to the church in other countries (3rd world nations) where the church might not be getting any over abundance like we do here in the States. It also pays for lawyers and other people that help the missionaries be able to serve in other countries. So, it isn't entirely black and white. Of course, I do agree with the sentiment that the "brethren" should make the finances transparent and that it appears that we are probably over paying in tithes.

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