Sunday, January 22, 2017

Unchained Salary

Previously: Did The Lord Choose Not To Anoint 'The Lord's Anointed'?

Prior to his being called to the First Presidency of the Church, Henry B. Eyring had served twelve years as an Apostle of the Lord.  Last week an anonymous source leaked copies of Brother Eyring's pay stubs from the year 2000, showing the apostle had been paid in excess of $89,000.00 for his service to the Church that year.  That was seventeen years ago.

A second document was leaked concurrently with those pay stubs. This was a letter from the Presiding Bishopric dated January 2, 2014, addressed to a member of the Quorum of the Seventy. It informed the recipient that "the annual general authority base living allowance has been increased from $116,400.00 to $120,000.00" and "This will begin with your paycheck issued on January 10, 2014 (pay period I)."

You can imagine the stir this created once news was leaked to the press that the so-called members of the "unpaid clergy" at the top of the LDS Church were in fact being paid quite handsomely.

You could also have easily predicted the response from Salt Lake as the Church PR machine went into high gear in an attempt to contain the scandal. This is a non-story, the narrative went, that pay scale is less than what the average college professor earns. The general authorities work hard in service to the church, and in most cases have given up lucrative careers that would have paid much more had they remained in their secular careers. Besides, doesn't everyone already know the general authorities are given a modest allowance to assist them in their work? This isn't news. Look, here's a picture of the ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood Spencer W. Kimball lived in during his years as president of the Church. Does it look like he was living extravagantly?

And so on.

You can't really argue with any of that. To some of us, it was not news that the general authorities receive what has been variously called a "modest stipend" or a "living allowance." The debate now seems centered over the definition of the words "modest" and "allowance."

But the Church PR department is skirting the real issue. Here's how one commenter responded online last Sunday:
"The fact that GAs receive compensation is not the issue. The issue is that the party line of the church has always been that they have no paid clergy, and many if not most members spout that party line (I did, as a missionary). That party line is not true. GAs and mission presidents do receive payment from the church for the fact that they are "volunteering" their time, talents, energies, etc to building up the kingdom. Call it a stipend, call it a living allowance, call it a salary, call it filthy lucre; whatever you call it, it is legal tender that allows them to maintain a relatively decent lifestyle. 
The 'living allowance' is not the issue. The issue is the facade, the false notion, mostly implied but never clarified, that they all work for free, as rank and file members are required to do. If the church were a little more upfront about that, it would be no 'scandal' at all."
Prevaricating From The Executive Suite
Those of us raised in the church were repeatedly taught that the men at the very top of the hierarchy served without pay of any kind, just like our bishops and stake presidents. Often we didn't notice a conference speaker had crafted his words carefully, as President Hinckley did in 2002:
"We are a Church of lay leadership. What a remarkable and wonderful thing that is. It must ever remain so. It must never move in the direction of an extensive paid ministry." (To The Men Of The Priesthood, October 2002, Priesthood Session)
I guess it all depends on Hinckley's definition of "extensive." It's true that the vast majority of ministers in the LDS Church -the bishops, Stake Presidents, Ward Leaders, and such- are more extensive in number than the few at the top in Salt Lake, and they certainly are not paid.  So when Hinckley says that particular faction of the leaders -the more "extensive" number of them- must never move in the direction of a paid ministry like they have in other churches, he's on safe ground. Technically, he was correct; the extensive ministry in our church is not paid.

What Hinckely did not admit was that a not-so-extensive faction of the ministry does get paid, and quite well. President Hinckley's listeners were hearing what he wanted them to hear: that there is no paid ministry in this church whatsoever. And that part of his message simply wasn't true.

Boasting that we are a church made up entirely of volunteers seems to have been the theme of that conference session, as Dallin Oaks reiterated in his talk to the general membership:
“One of the distinguishing characteristics of this Church is the fact that we have no paid or professional clergy in our thousands of local congregations and in the regional stakes, districts, and missions that oversee them.” (I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go, October conference 2002)
Elder Oaks is choosing his words carefully here, just as President Hinckley did during his talk. Dallin's statement is technically true, because he neglected to mention General Authorities in that mix. I'm reminded of a lecture Elder Oaks gave before a group of law students at BYU in 1993. The topic was "Lying."
"The difficult question is whether we are morally responsible to tell the whole truth. Where there is no duty to disclose, we have two alternatives. We may be free to disclose if we choose to do so, but there will be circumstances where...professional obligations require us to remain silent...I urge you who are lawyers and lawyers-in-preparation to be sophisticated as you think about these subjects...It requires sophisticated analysis of the circumstances and a finely tuned conscience to distinguish between the situation where you are obliged by duty to speak and the situation where you are remain silent.
An additional area where Oaks "remained silent" in his conference talk above was in choosing not to mention how much mission presidents actually get reimbursed. When you take into account that every conceivable living expense a mission president might possibly accrue is provided for them -from housing, to groceries, to medical, to cooks and housekeepers and babysitters and schooling and recreation and pretty much anything his wife and kids can think to ask for -it's a bit of a stretch to claim mission presidents aren't paid anything.

Dieter Uchtdorff echoed Oaks in 2013; he just phrased it more succinctly:
“Because we have no paid local clergy in our worldwide congregations, our members perform the work of ministry themselves.”  (Come, Join With Us, October Conference 2013)
You can't claim Uchtdorrf was lying. After all, he did say we have no paid local clergy.
We almost have to reach back over forty years to catch one of the Brethren in an out-and-out lie. Here's apostle Boyd K. Packer relating a conversation he had with a non-member in 1974:
"Did they also tell you that we have no professional clergy? All of us contribute our time, our talents, our means, and travel—all to help the work. And we’re not paid for it in money." ("Where Much Is Given, Much Is Required," October conference 1974)
That's right. That there is an apostle of the Lord at the very moment he is being paid money for contributing his talents, his means, and his travel for his Church job, telling a bald-faced lie to a gentile in hopes of impressing the guy that it's all coming out of his own pocket.

This wasn't one of those slips of the tongue Packer was famous for. He made the following statement in a talk at BYU as early as 1965, then repeated himself word-for-word fourteen years later in a Church magazine:
“In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is no paid ministry, no professional clergy, as is common in other churches.” (Follow The Brethren, The Liahona September 1979)
When Thomas Monson was still just a counselor in the First Presidency, an East German government official once asked him, "Why is your church so wealthy that you can afford to build buildings in our country and throughout the world? How do you get your money?"  (Monson related this story in a conference talk ironically titled "Our Sacred Priesthood Trust," as he lied about receiving no salary for the office he held in the priesthood):
"I answered that the Church is not wealthy…. I explained also that our Church has no paid ministry." (Our Sacred Priesthood Trust, April conference 2006)
That's two certifiable fibs in the space of two short sentences. That's gotta be a record, even for Monson.

The reason the Brethren have been less than forthcoming about how they make their living is not merely to deceive the members. The teaching that Mormons have no paid ministry has long been an essential part of our missionary program.

For at least four decades following World War II, the majority of Americans were bible-believing, church-going Christians. This was the era -the 1950s through the '80s- when our church experienced phenomenal convert growth.  That growth had little to do with our sending out missionaries and bringing people to Christ. Most of the people our missionaries encountered had already come to Christ. Our missionary program was focused essentially on one overriding question:

Which Church Is True?
As far as I and my fellow missionaries were concerned, our calling was to pull Christians out of their churches and into ours. We therefore went out armed with a pamphlet titled "17 Points Of The True Church" which listed ways in which our sectarian investigators could be shown their church was doing it all wrong while ours was doing it right. Number 6 on that list was this one:
The true church must have no paid ministry (1 Cor 9:16-18; Acts 20:33-34; John 10:11-13)
You can't underestimate the effect these bible "proofs" had on a good number of investigators. These people sat in their own church meetings week after week as their deacons "passed the plate" down the aisle. Every member of the congregation was expected to contribute cash toward the support of their pastor, and frankly, some of these investigators were tired of the incessant guilting.

Introducing these people to passages from the bible proving that ministers who asked for money were operating contrary to God's will had an immediate effect.  The "unpaid ministry" of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was a highly effective selling point. We Mormons took particular pride in the fact that, unlike other churches, our leaders volunteer their time for free. Join our church, Mr. Brown, and you won't be taking food out of the mouths of your children in order to feed some preacher's kid.  Our church is an all-volunteer church.  Step right up to the baptismal font, and no crowding, please.

This was the pitch Derek Cuthbert was selling in conference when he assured the saints -and anyone else who might be listening- why our church was different from every other:
"Over the years of my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have greatly appreciated the opportunities for service, for there is no paid ministry." (What's The Difference?" October conference 1985)
Elder Cuthbert looked straight into the camera and delivered those words all the while knowing he was drawing a pretty cushy salary at the time he uttered them.

In his six-volume Answers To Gospel Questions, future Church president Joseph Fielding Smith answered a query from a member regarding whether Church leaders got paid for their service. Here's how he fudged his answer:
"[T]he General Authorities of the Church are in no way paid out of the tithing of the Latter-day Saints." (Answers To Gospel Questions, Vol 3, pg 79)
And he was telling the truth. But what Brother Smith did not say was that the general authorities do get salaries; they just don't come out of the member's tithing money. Those salaries are paid out of investments that have been derived from the member's tithing. The billions in tithing are used as capital to invest in projects of the leader's choosing, after which the leaders live quite well off the millions of dollars in interest derived from those investments, with plenty more interest left over to reinvest in other schemes.

(You're not supposed to ask why the member's tithes are "invested" in the first place when God's law requires them to be immediately disbursed.)

Elder Smith continues:
"Unfortunately there are those who seem to take delight in offering criticism and in finding fault without knowing the true conditions…It can be said also that the officers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who labor without salaries coming out of the pockets of the members,[wink, wink], are just as spiritually minded, have just as good judgment and wisdom in directing the temporal as well as the spiritual welfare of the people, as are any of the ministers who spend their entire time in what may be called spiritual counsel. For instance, the bishops of our wards and the presidents of our stakes and other officers give their time freely without any monetary compensation paid by members of the Church."
Did you notice the pivot? Joseph Fielding started out claiming the officers in our church -the general authorities- who "labor without salaries coming out of the pockets of the members," are every bit as qualified as the ministers of other churches who get paid for their ministries. But then something magical happens. In the very next sentence, he is comparing those fat-cat ministers of other churches to our bishops and stake presidents, who we know work for free. He has flipped the argument, directing the reader's focus away from himself and the other general authorities, and onto our local leaders.

Thus, the original question, the one about whether the top officers of the LDS Church get paid, is lost in the fog of words. Because face it: that is a question no one in the Church hierarchy wants any of the members down below to dwell on. So the subject deftly switches to our actual unpaid clergy. And we get even further from the original question as Elder Smith next rhapsodizes about how our wonderful missionary program puts the money-grubbing ministers of the sectarian churches to shame:
"It is equally true that the young men and women who are distributed over the face of the earth as missionaries of the Church pay their own way, or their parents do. We do not have a paid ministry, yet these brethren put in as much time in spiritual and Church duties, as do ministers of other denominations who devote their entire time, and in addition, they are under the necessity of earning their own living by their daily employment in industry. They do this because they have an abiding testimony of the divinity of the work the Church requires of them."*
*"When Joseph Fielding Smith died at age ninety-five in 1972, he had worked nearly all his adult life at LDS Church headquarters, first as a paid employee in the Historian's Office and then as a general authority with a church living allowance. At his death, President Smith had $245,000 in bank deposits, $120,000 in cash, $120,574 in stocks/bonds, and $10,688 in uncashed checks (including Deseret Book royalties of $9,636.00). Even twenty-five years after his death, few rank-and-file Mormons have such 'modest' amounts of cash and liquid assets available to them in old age." (D. Michael Quinn, The Mormon Hierarchy: Extensions of Power, pg 211) 

What Exactly Is the Job Of The Twelve Apostles, Anyway?
This brings us full circle. You'll note that Joseph Fielding Smith just got through telling us that missionaries pay their own way "because they have an abiding testimony of the divinity of the work the Church requires of them."

Yet isn't it true that the Twelve Apostles are called to be the missionaries for the whole church? If so, then why are they helping themselves to a salary from the Church treasury?

It's because they're being disobedient. That's why.

Readers of my previous blog post will recall that the Twelve apostles never had the authority to take charge and control the government of the Church. Until only a few years ago, we did not have access to the documents that refuted their claims to power. We had relied primarily on the faulty memory of Wilford Woodruff who asserted, forty years after Joseph's death, that before he died Joseph Smith had ordained the Twelve apostles and given them his complete authority to run the church.

Even though that claim ran counter to the divine revelation given in D&C 107, and even if Joseph Smith had wanted to pass on his authority to the Twelve, he would have been acting contrary to the word of God, that unsupported claim has become the narrative the modern Quorum of the Twelve relies on for its authority to this day.

But because we now have the minutes of the meetings of the Council of Fifty, we can see that Brigham Young explicitly denied that any ordination giving the twelve apostles "the keys of the kingdom" had ever taken place.

From here on I'm going to confine this discussion about financial compensation to the twelve apostles of the church. Why? Because for one thing, the Lord tells us in D&C 119 that one of the reasons we are tithed is to pay the debts of the presidency of the Church. You may argue that verse 2 was referring only to the debts incurred by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon at that particular time, and was not intended to furnish a regular salary to Thomas Monson and his counselors. And you may be right.  But I'm not going niggle about that because that argument doesn't interest me.

If the Saints were okay with giving President Kimball a decent house to live in, I won't quibble. And if the only pay stubs we saw of Henry Eyring had been those reflecting wages he receives today as counselor to the president of the Church, I wouldn't be holding this conversation; because like I said, it's possible members of the First Presidency are entitled to dip into the treasury for their support.

The thing that concerns me about Eyring's pay stubs from the year 2000 is they reflect payments he received as an ostensible Apostle of the Lord, and it is the propriety of salaries paid to apostles that we should be mainly concerned about, because any payment to the Twelve violates the direct instruction God gave to those men.

Therefore, the only question I wish to entertain today is this one: Should members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles be paid a regular salary out of the treasury of the church?

My answer to that question is no. But it may surprise you to learn that I strongly believe the Twelve have every expectation of being supported financially by the church.  They just shouldn't be paid. And I'll explain what I mean by that in a minute.

By the way, did you ever wonder why, whenever someone accuses the Brethren of extravagant living, Church PR trots out a picture of President Kimball's modest-looking house in an attempt to refute the charge?

President Kimball died way back in 1985, so why bring up his living quarters? Why aren't we shown pictures of the homes of the modern apostles, those undeniably posh ones located within exclusive gated communities? And how about all those vacation homes the Church provides its apostles at no cost in Utah's resort areas? Or the downtown condos? Why does the PR department of the Church keep quiet about all those?

This is Spencer Kimball's modest house. He was president of the church.
This is the entrance to the driveway of Boyd K. Packer's Home. He was only an apostle.

Now don't get me wrong. I have nothing against people accumulating nice homes and nice things. I'm a free market advocate, so I believe anyone has the right to become as rich as he wants to. I intended to become wealthy myself; I just took a wrong turn somewhere.

So I want it known that I'm not coming from a place of jealousy or envy here. I'm interested strictly in the doctrines of the church as promulgated by Jesus Christ, and whether those doctrines are being properly adhered to by our leaders.

By This You May Know My Disciples

Let's think back to the founding of the quorum. A year before the church itself was organized, Oliver Cowdery and John Whitmer were directed by revelation to seek out twelve good men to be the Lord's modern apostles, special witnesses of Jesus Christ who were to go out into all the world just as the ancient apostles had done, and testify of Him. (D&C 18)

The word "apostle" is derived from a combination of Greek words meaning "a messenger sent forth." It was six years after that revelation before the apostles were formally organized into a quorum of twelve, but in the meantime, missionaries had been sent forth from Kirtland to surrounding communities. In a revelation given in 1832, the Lord claimed these men as His apostles and friends, standing in the place of His apostles of old. It was a singular honor to be called an apostle, but it wasn't going to be a walk in the park. These newly minted apostles would not only have to learn to walk by faith, but to live by faith as well. In other words, they would become virtual beggars:
"Therefore, let no man among you (for this commandment is unto all the faithful who are called of God in the church unto the ministry), from this hour take purse or scrip, that goeth forth to proclaim this gospel of the kingdom. Behold, I send you out to reprove the world of all their unrighteous deeds, and to teach them of a judgment which is to come. And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. Whoso receiveth you receiveth me; and the same will feed you, and clothe you, and give you money." (D&C 84)
So the apostles weren't guaranteed any kind of salary, but they were promised that while they were engaged in the work Jesus sent them forth to do, they would be given food, clothes, and money.  They just didn't know where it would come from, when it would come, or how much it would be.

That's called "living by faith."  It's certainly much nicer if you know how much you actually have coming in each month. At least you know how much money you'll have to live on.  So it's easy to understand how it came to be that at some point in their history, our modern apostles decided to pay themselves a set base salary out of the treasury of the Church. Helps take the stress off.

But that doesn't seem to be the system God prefers to work in. He seems to prefer the element of surprise when it comes to the support of those serving Him.  When you read the accounts of the early apostles, you find, again and again, examples of God placing a prompting on the hearts of strangers who came to the financial aid of His messengers, often just in the nick of time.  The early Saints who toiled in God's vineyard never got rich, but they somehow received sufficient for their needs.

Why does God require that kind of faith from some people and not from others? I really couldn't tell you. But I can state from first hand experience that living by faith can be utterly terrifying. At first, anyway. Maybe He requires it because He just wants us to learn to trust Him, as the initial fear and terror we feel from the insecurity of not knowing eventually gives way to the firm knowledge that God is in control.

That revelation in section 84 is chockfull of information as to the duties of the apostles. When you read it you'll probably be struck by how different the role of the apostles in the early church seems from the functions the Twelve perform in the church today. Could those differences have anything to do with the fact that the apostles today are not forced to live by faith?

According to the charge the early apostles were given, they were not to have anything to do with managing, governing, or running the church. Except for brief periods, they weren't even supposed to be anywhere near church headquarters. As Oliver Cowdery explained, these apostles had been given tremendous power, privilege, and authority, but that authority was limited to areas outside the Church's central headquarters:
"They are the Twelve Apostles, who are called to the office of Traveling high council, who are to preside over all the churches over the Saints among the Gentiles, where there is no presidency established, and they are to travel and preach among the Gentiles, until the Lord shall command them to go to the Jews.  They are to hold the keys of this ministry, to unlock the door of the kingdom of heaven unto all nations, and to preach the Gospel to every creature. This is the power, authority, and virtue of their apostleship." (Kirtland Council Minute Book, pg 86)
When the Twelve were formally organized in 1835, the first edition of the Doctrine & Covenants outlined their place within the church:
"The twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world—thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling...The Twelve are a Traveling Presiding High Council, to officiate in the name of the Lord, under the direction of the Presidency of the Church, agreeable to the institution of heaven; to build up the church, and regulate all the affairs of the same in all nations, first unto the Gentiles and secondly unto the Jews." (Doctrine & Covenants [1835] 3:11-12)

A recent history of the twelve apostles describes a "grand council" held on May 2, 1835. Along with other business, the prophet Joseph cautioned the apostles not to overstep their commission:
The prophet told them they were forbidden from entering any of the stakes of Zion, from serving in any stake capacities, and from regulating the affairs of the high councils. Conversely, he said, the standing high councils would have no authority over the Twelve outside of the stakes. (Shepard and Marquardt, Lost Apostles, pg 85) 
The minutes of the meeting record the prophet's warning thus:
"The Twelve will have no right to go into Zion or any of its stakes and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof where there is a standing high council. But it is their duty to go abroad and regulate all duties relative to the different branches of the church. When the Twelve are together, or a quorum of them in any church, they will have to do business by the voice of the Church." (Kirtland High Council Minute Book, pg 112)
But just as the Twelve were prohibited from exercising power within the Church, so was the governing body of the Church, the High Council, prohibited from usurping authority belonging to the Twelve:
"No standing high council has authority to go into the churches abroad and regulate the matters thereof, for this belongs to the Twelve. No High Council will ever be established, only in Zion or one of its stakes." (ibid)
Things sure have changed. We shouldn't wonder where the Twelve got the chutzpah to pay themselves comfortable salaries out of the Church's coffers; after all, who's going to stand in their way? There is no High Council at the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City asking the twelve apostles, "What the hell are you guys doing here?"

(Brigham Young's maneuvering to weaken the high council to the point where that governing body was abandoned entirely is a story for another time. Suffice to say that after the prophet's death, everything about succession revolved around polygamy. The high council at Nauvoo stood in the way of those to whom polygamy was the essential doctrine of the Church, and Brigham saw that body as a threat. The result today is glaring: there is no standing High Council at Church headquarters. The proper governing body for the church no longer exists.)

What's So Bad About A Paid Ministry?
If you happen to be a Baptist, Methodist, or Episcopalian, I suppose there's nothing wrong with paying the guy who does your preaching for you, because to the best of my knowledge the Lord has never told the leaders in those denominations they shouldn't be doing that.  But in our church, the Twelve Apostles were specifically instructed by God essentially to do two things:

1. Go forth away from the headquarters of the church, and preach His gospel,
2. Do so without any expectation of getting paid.

God never changed his mind about this. If he had, there would have been another revelation rescinding or amending the earlier ones. In the event we seem unable to take God at his word when he gives a simple instruction, such as the one he gave to the Twelve apostles (both ancient and modern) regarding how and from where they were to draw their support, we can look to the scriptures and see if His rules follow a particular pattern.  The rules of government for the church are always laid down in scripture:
"Thou shalt take the things which thou hast received, which have been given unto thee in my scriptures for a law, to be my law to govern my church; And he that doeth according to these things shall be saved, and he that doeth them not shall be damned if he so continue." (D&C 42:59-60)
You may well ask, "Rock, are you saying the Twelve Apostles will be damned simply for paying themselves a modest stipend out of the windfall their investments have garnered over the years due to their careful management of Church finances?"

Well, that does seem kind of harsh.  So no, I'm not sayin' nothin'. It just seems to me that two elements are in play in those two verses. First, the leaders of the church are to govern themselves according to scripture; and second, if they govern themselves in some manner other than the way scripture dictates, it could be a problem for them.

And I just thought of a third: it's possible that if the members continue to support and sustain the leaders when they are acting contrary to scripture, they may be heaping condemnation on their own heads as well.

Could be. I don't really know.

What I do know is that God's people are easily deceived. And God knows his people are easily deceived. So he gives them a pattern to go by to keep them from departing from the rules of government he has set down for the church to abide by. "I will give unto you a pattern in all things," he tells us, "that ye may not be deceived." (D&C 52:14) 

So let's take a quick look at the pattern the Lord has set out regarding the financial support of those charged with preaching His gospel:

In Mosiah 2:14, we learn that King Benjamin preached to the people and served them, requiring no payment at their hands.  Alma later shows the method by which those in authority in the Church went about their sacerdotal duties:
"When the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner." (Alma 1:12)
Alma was motivated to bring this up because some guy named Nehor had come on the scene convincing a good many members of the church that those who held rank as priests and teachers ought to get paid for their trouble. He also said the people ought to treat these priests and teachers like celebrities. (Alma Chapter 1)

We are told Nehor was an antichrist, which is one of the meanest things you can say about a person. Yet when we look at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints today, it would appear Nehor's proposals have been widely adopted. The leaders of the LDS Church do get paid, and the members treat them like celebrities.

In the New Testament we see that when Jesus sent his apostles out to preach, he instructed them to take with them no food, no money, no knapsack -not even an extra pair of shoes. They could take along a walking stick if they wanted, but that was about it. (Mark 6:8 and Luke 10:4)

This pattern continued when Jesus called his modern apostles, instructing them to go forth without a bag, or money, and not even to take an extra coat. And get this: unlike the apostles of old, these guys weren't even allowed to take along their walking sticks. (D&C 24:18)

So with no food or money, what were they supposed to live on? "You shall live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God," Jesus told them, which they probably didn't think was very funny at the time.

But the Lord told them not to worry because people along the way "will feed you, and clothe you, and give you money." And look, here's something interesting the Lord says in section 24, verse 18:
"The church shall give unto thee in the very hour what thou needest for food and for raiment, and for shoes and for money, and for scrip."
The church will give them what they need? Does this mean it's okay for the Twelve Apostles to get paid out of the treasury of the church after all?

Well, no. Let's not forget that the Lord's definition of "the church" differs markedly from the way we tend to bruit that word about in our day. Jesus said whoever repents and comes unto him, those people are His church. (D&C 10:67)

It is perfectly appropriate for God's people to support the apostles in their legitimate labors. This is in keeping with the requirement that the apostles live by faith. Because although some members of the church (not all) may have the burden placed on their hearts by God to lend support to the Twelve in their labors, the Twelve would have no way of knowing from month to month exactly who would be contributing, or precisely how much.

Although the apostles should expect to be supported by "the church," (i.e. the members), they are decidedly not authorized to pay themselves out of the treasury; and they certainly aren't authorized to award themselves a set, guaranteed salary, complete with cost-of-living increases.  Again, if it was okay for the apostles to be paid out of the treasury, the Lord would have told them directly, and instructed the members to see it got done.

All Your Base Are Belong To Us
Let's not forget that the letter to Bruce Porter informing him of the raise he and his fellow general authorities would be getting refers only to their base pay. We don't even know what additional perks are awarded our dear leaders in addition to that base. Certainly we know that in addition to their base salary, the corporate Church(TM) provides them with nice homes, nice second homes, nice cars, chauffeurs on call for the top 15, and many other amenities. They are also provided first class travel accommodations, including airfare and hotels wherever they go.

The Twelve Apostles have personal use of Church credit cards which they use for restaurant meals, and who knows what else, because confidential sources within the bowels of the Church Office Building have claimed the GAs have unlimited use of those cards with no auditing or supervision.

The reality is we simply don't know what we should know about the perks enjoyed by the leaders of the church because they have not given an accounting to the members since 1958.  We don't know what benefits of office they enjoy, because they have chosen to withhold that information from the members whose duty it is to approve every expenditure that comes out of the treasury. (D&C 26:2 and 104:71)

There is one thing all members can be thankful for now that we know what the leader's base pay is. Since tithing to the Church is to be paid from the surplus remaining after one's basic needs are met, many members are not confident in their ability to figure out exactly how much is a reasonable amount of money to claim for basic necessities. They want the Church to tell them.

This letter from the Presiding Bishopric seems to answer that question. Church leaders apparently feel it requires a minimum of $120,000.00 a year to cover a family's basic needs. So now you know that anything you might earn over the amount our leaders have established as the minimum would be the money you would pay your tithing on.