How shall we look when we are Damned?

In Alma 14 Alma and Amulek are placed in prison for their beliefs by the ruling priests and politicians.  They face a kangaroo court trial and are smitten.  The whole group of leaders gathers around them and says a phrase that chilled me when I was younger: “How shall we look when we are damned”?  It seem almost gleeful in the idea that individuals would be damned.

Then John Dehlin and Kate Kelly were excommunicated and I read a host of Pro-LDS blogs and sites that seemed to twitter with the same feeling of gleeful damning.

And now I ask the TBM crowd, How shall John and Kate look when they are damned?

This is just a handful of the loving, “Christ-like” approaches for someone who started as very much a believer, asked tough questions, and eventually determined the truth is not in the organization.  So now all the LDS people can chitter on Sundays about how gleefully they are not as stupid as anyone who listened to Dehlin; as they discuss “How shall we look now that we are saved?”

 

Posted in Current issues, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Crime and Punishment

John Dehlin is making waves throughout the blogsphere and LDS circles.  The LDS church is going to excommunicate him for being an outspoken LGBT ally, supporter of OW and for not being believing.  The trial is complete and for some reason, divine revelation takes three days to send a letter for John.  I guess God’s internet is down (Damn Comcast is everywhere these days).

Below is a short list of contemporary individuals still counted as members on the rosters of the church, and their crimes for which they were not excommunicated.

Jodi Arias killed her former boyfriend Travis Alexander on June 4, 2008. He was killed at his home in Mesa, Arizona.  He had been shot in the face and stabbed some 27 times, his throat slit from ear to ear. the medical examiner ruled his death a homicide. On November 26, 2006, Arias was baptized into the Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints by Travis.  Jodi was not excommunicated
Continue reading

Posted in Current issues | 4 Comments

Ordeal by (Eternal) Marriage

In honor of, and wither reverence to Geraldine McEwan (9 May 1932 – Jan 31,2015), may you solve the murders in heaven.

Miss Marple is invited out to Utah by her friend, Ann-Margaret, for a marriage of a younger cousin of Ann-Margaret.  He is a friend of Heber J. Grant, and Grant is personally paying for the wedding.  Ann-Margaret (called Margaret for short) talks all about the wedding and Utah, and being a mormon twittering rather like a bird.

At the train station they run into a man of some renown.  Ann-Margaret introduces her friend to Elder Matthius Crowley.  He has a train ticket in his pocket and is carrying a bag with him.  The introductions are brief.

Ann-Margaret takes Miss Marple to see all the sights of 1920’s Salt Lake City.

They arrive at a party where they are introduced to Ann-Margaret’s neice. The fiancé is dressed in a brown hat of the period, with a brown knit-sweater over the sharp yellow shirt; and hums to herself with excitement when not directly being spoken to.  Her dress is entirely English in appearance despite the girls western american accent.   The girl almost explodes with excitement as they discuss the wedding and she praises the young man she is going to marry.  They gaze across the party to a dapper young man dressed  in a “Beau Brummel” inspired black suit. His name is Simeon Cowdery.  He is talking to a man in a brown suit and cowboy hat as the women join them.

Niece: “This is Simeon Cowdery, my fiance.  Simeon; this is Miss Marple a friend of my Aunt Margaret”

Simeon:  “Nice to meet you.  And lovely to see you again, Ann-Margaret.  This is Elder Anthony Ivins, a cousin to Heber J. Grant, they call him the ‘Apostle Cowboy'”.

Miss Marple:  “Are you Elder? I rather thought you younger than myself”. Continue reading

Posted in Mormon Murder Mysteries | 1 Comment

Tithing Bailout timeline

Author’s note: Entries that have bullet points are Tithing related.  Bailouts do not have hyphens.  I combined entries from the tithing timeline to illustrate that changes in demands for tithing occur in and around bailouts.

1829 – Joseph plans to publish and sell Book of Mormon as a for-profit venture. He and Hyrum commits to cover $1500 while their co-stock holder, Martin Harris, would cover the remaining $1500. Joseph falls through on his debt on the 5000 books. The books were being sold for as much as $2 each and they tried to sell the copyright for $8000 in Canada. This venture, which failed, sought $7,000 – $15,000 in profits. This also included “loans” from individuals eager to see the plates – money taken, but never repaid or used for printing costs.(ie: $28)  (Bushman, Rough Stone Rolling (RSR) p47, 63)

6 January, 1836 – Black Rock Advocate, paper in New York, questions solvency of Bank of Monroe (another Mormon bank)

February 1837 – Bank of Monroe eventually absorbed by Kirtland Safety Society notes (probably off the books), debts and obligations saddled on member’s backs

1837Joseph ran up debts of over $73,000 attributed to the church in order to open and stock his general store as well as purchase property for himself (RSR, p329-330, 337) . The store failed. When the debts finally came due, he leveraged future church earnings to pay them  (RSR p31,430-431).

  • 1837 – Presiding bishop defined tithing as two percent of one’s net worth, after deducting debts. This was voluntary and not forced, to quote, “Believing that voluntary tithing is better than Forced taxes” (source).

July 8, 1838 – D&C 119 redefines tithing as all surplus property and then 1/10th of interest annually.

1838 – Joseph Smith and other leaders opened the Kirtland Banking Society (RSR, p329-330, 337). This was illegal on multiple counts, but Joseph still prophesied the Kirtland bank would succeed. You see, he and other leaders gave themselves stock. To get an idea of how much, Heber Kimball received $50,000 worth of stock (valued at $4 million) for a $15 investment, yet Smith and Rigdon were still the chief owners and operators.  Furthermore, $100,000 worth of KSS currency was printed while only being backed by up to $21,000 of hard currency. The bank failed. (RSR, p329-330, 337). Joseph was sued civilly and lost. It’s unclear where the money he paid for the losses came from (despite most of them being unsatisfied), but the church itself put forth $38,000 towards bail for the criminal charges (which he skipped town on and never refunded, nor were his resulting fines paid) (RSR, p329-330, 337). The bank losses were over $100,000 mostly suffered by the membership.

1839 – Joseph takes out two $25,000 mortgages against the church’s future income, not including fees. These would be payable in 10 and 20 years respectively, with a $3000 interest payment per year until maturity. Joseph urged other members to sell their property to pay for it (RSR, p31,430-431). (Note that he was not willing to offer up his own mansion to pay the interests.)

1842Maid of Iowa (Nauvoo) steamboat was purchased by the church for $4000 in Joseph’s name. Half of these shares were gifted to Emma by Clayton after Joseph’s death as an inheritance (RSR, p496).

1842 - The church is on the brink of bankruptcy again and federal investigators realize just how deeply Joseph was using the church coffers as his own. $73,066 in debt to creditors, $4,866 owed to the government, but only $20,000 in money and notes receivable. Joseph was denied bankruptcy for transferring funds to preferential creditors, transferring funds after the passage of the recent bankruptcy act, and concealment of assets. If Joseph had wanted out, this would have sealed his fate. The church was his only asset that could even potentially pay off such a debt.

1843 – Joseph opens a hotel and later bar out of his mansion. He had used church funds to build a hotel, expand his current house, and add a bar for his friend Porter in the lobby. He used church funds to support lavish parties. All while members were being pushed to donate more and more to the church, and the church itself was in massive debt.

August 1844 – The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued an epistle which required all Mormons to immediately pay ‘a tenth of all their property and money . . . and then let them continue to pay in a tenth of their income from that time forth.’ There was no exemption for Mormons who had already paid one-tenth of their property upon conversion. (Joseph Smith et al., History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Period I: History of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and . . . Period II: From the Manuscript History of Brigham Young and Other Original Documents, ed. B. H. Roberts, 7 vols. (Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1902-32; 2d ed. rev. [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978]), 7:251)

January 1845 – a Quorum of Twelve’s epistle reemphasized ‘the duty of all saints to tithe themselves one-tenth of all they possess when they enter into the new and everlasting covenant: and then one-tenth of their interest, or income, yearly afterwards. (History of the Church, 7:358.)

January 1845 – The Twelve voted to exempt themselves from tithing, along with the two general bishops Newel K. Whitney and George Miller, and the Nauvoo Temple Committee. This was due to their services to the church. (Heber C. Kimball diary, 29 Jan. 1845, in Stanley B. Kimball, ed., On the Potter’s Wheel: The Diaries of Heber C. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Signature Books/Smith Research Associates, 1987), 94; Nauvoo Trustee-in-Trust Tithing and Donation Record, 220-222 (29 Jan. 1845), LDS archives. For the term general bishop and its meaning in early LDS history, see Journal of Discourses, 26 vols. (Liverpool and London: Latter-day Saints’ Book Depot, 1854-86), 22: 34 (O. Pratt/1880); D. Michael Quinn, ‘Evolution of the Presiding Quorums of the LDS Church,’ Journal of Mormon History 1 (1974): 34; Dale Beecher, ‘The Office of Bishop,’ Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 15 (Winter 1982): 103; Quinn, Mormon Hierarchy: Origins of Power, 69-71.)

September 1851 – A special conference at Salt Lake City voted to accept excommunication as punishment for non-payment of tithing

  • In 1868 Apostle Erastus Snow gave orders to southern Utah bishops to excommunicate everyone ‘who will not keep the word of wisdom, Pay their Tithing & donate of their substance to help bring the Poor Saints from the old country.’ A local Mormon estimated that enforcement of Snow’s instruction ‘would cause 3/4 of this community to be cut off from this church.’ (John D. Lee diary, 25 Jan. 1868, in Robert Glass Cleland and Juanita Brooks, eds., A Mormon Chronicle: The Diaries of John D. Lee, 1848-1876, 2 vols. (San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1955), 2:96.)
  • 1880 – John Taylor declared a biblical Jubilee Year in which he forgave half of the delinquent tithing and half of the debts owed to the Perpetual Emigrating Fund. (Brigham Young sermon, 8 Oct. 1875, in ‘Semi-Annual Conference,’ Deseret Evening News, 9 Oct. 1875, [2].)
  • 1880 Policy is clear on the subject that tithing is on surplus”I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop”
  • April 1881, President Taylor instructed stake presidents that church members now ‘must be tithe payers’ in order to have recommends for temple ordinances.25 (JD 22:207-208)
  • In 1884 Church president John Taylor limited bishops’ salaries to 8% of tithing they collected (now primarily cash), while stake presidents got 2% of tithing collected by all the bishops of the stake.

Feb, 1886Plan to help George Q. Cannon escape the law (train robbery) fails.  Bail set at $45,000. Taylor was worried about how to cover the $45,000 bonds, but one morning indicated that a plan for financial arrangements which would not involve either the Church or individuals had been revealed to him. President Taylor indicated that about 2 ½ years previously he had received manifestations concerning investments to be made for the creation of a fund under his sole control, apart from tithing, which would be available for emergencies. “Upon the strength of these manifestations we had purchased an interest in the Bullion, Beck and Champion Mining Company, and he now felt that the shares which we had set apart at the time of the purchase, out of which to create the fund, could now be used with perfect propriety. He had been offered twice as much as he had paid for it, and therefore felt that there would be no difficulty in raising the sum necessary to meet any obligations that others might be under on my account.”[28] On March 2, 1886, President Taylor obtained the agreement of the Quorum of the Twelve on his plan.  Of course these investments started with tithing dollars.  George Q. Cannon jumped bond, wasting the money and then turned himself in 6 months later.

1887 - Edmunds Tucker act takes property over $50,000 from Church members practicing polygamy.  Also cripples church’s ability to take out loans.  Church gives property to individuals (Typically at the top). By 1890 $500,000 deposited in non-mormon banks lost to church’s control.  $300,000 in debt from legal fees, and propery issues.

  • 1888 Wilford Woodruff established set salaries for stake presidents and provided that a stake committee would apportion 10% of collected tithing between the bishops and the stake tithing clerk.
  • Value of Land goes up 10x in Utah.  Real-estate transactions reach 100,00 daily. (https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/BYUStudies/article/viewFile/6922/6571
  • 1890 -= The collapse of London’s Baring Brothers burst the speculative bubble in Utah

September 4, 1889Utah Idaho Sugar company started with $15,00 capital.  Money provided by Wilford Woodruff and George Q. Cannon and backed by Church funds (See panic of 1893) along with church officers saving the company and promising tithing futures to secure loans on its behalf.  $50,000 payment and $130,000 loan to the Dyers from tithing (Deseret Evening News, October 22, 1900).  The church also bought bonds in 1893 and sold them at a loss (Religion, politics and sugar: The Mormon church, the federal government and the Utah Idaho sugar company, 1907-1921)  Eight of the seventeen backers went bankrupt.

Autumn 1890, Dangerously overextended Salt Lake banks demanded
payment on outstanding loans.  Heber J. Grant had founded the State Bank and was its president.  Desperately needing $100,000, Grant grasped “at a straw” and
traveled east in late fall 1890.  He not only insisted
that bankers consider the State Bank’s past and future business but
also offered as security the highly regarded notes of the Zion’s
Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI), Utah’s multibranched
department store (illus. 6-3). These shares were backed up by the bank and the sugar company which where, in effect worthless.

These notes are guaranteed by thirteen Directors and also by the State Bank of Utah, which has a capital of half a million dollars. . . . These endorsers are worth at least a couple of million dollars. If two million dollars of personal endorsement, together with the endorsement of a half a million dollar bank, with the note of an institution that has never failed to meet its obligations, is not considered good I will telegraph
and secure you some additional endorsement. If you do not care to cash these notes take my advice and stop doing business with people so far away from home as Utah

1891 – Formation of the investment firm of Cannon, Grant & Company
(CG & Co.)  Grant organized the firm. He andGeorge Q. Cannon, First Counselor in the First Presidency, became
senior partners, with thirteen prominent Mormon financiers serving
as associates in the venture.9 Like the legendary Hudson’s Bay and East India companies, CG & Co. mixed private and public affairs.  A semiofficial agency of the church, with meetings conducted by President Woodruff. It signed Church-related loans, which Eastern financiers considered morally binding upon the Mormon community.

  • 1892 – Joseph F. Smith implies tithing comes before necessities and implicitly suggests that 9 dollars will go further than 10 when tithing is paid (see edit for the actual quote and sources).

December 1892-  The Church owed at least $500,000 in short-term, rapidly maturing notes and had not the slightest prospect of paying.  (Sugar company demanding tons of cash)

April 1893 – Wilford Woodruff’s presidency had spent 1 million on the temple (1/4 the cost).  Woodruff borrowed to support social projects as well. We began to feel that there was a responsibility resting upon us which required something to be done, in a small way at least, in the direction of giving employment to our people.” As a result, $1,000,000 was invested in public works projects such as the
Saltair Pavilion on the Great Salt Lake shoreline, the Saltair Railway Company (later known as the Salt Lake and Los Angeles Railway),and the Utah Sugar Company. Church leaders authorized Heber J. Grant to rais means and handle stock of the sugar company

  • 1893 tithing recorded at 576,584 (A drop over $300k in three years)

June 1893- September 1893 – Panic of 1893 has struck whole nation.  Heber J. Grant saves Sugar company and Zion’s bank by entering into huge loans promising future tithing income as securities on the loan  Heber $150,000 of the most pressing loans and had secured an additional $25,000.  First presidency decides to underwrite a railroad from SLC to LA ($75,000,000)

Sometime in the 1890’s – Believing the times required that “we must help one another,” Thomas Webber, ZCMI’s manager and unpublicizied CG&Co. director issues $100,000 of ZCMI notes and given them to the Church.

  Jun 22, 1893 – W. S. “Mack” McCornick, Salt Lake City’s friendly non-Mormon demands $57,500 in loans due

  July 1 – Church fails to meet payroll.  GA’s paid completely from tithing commodities (pigs, wheat, etc).  20 Church schools closed.  Some missionaries do not have enough to return from being abroad.

leaders sent letters to local congregations directing that tithing commodities or
other property be cheaply sold and the cash sent to Church headquarters. only 19% of total tithing made it to church headquarters, the rest consumed locally to help out individuals in congregations.

  August 24, the Brigham Young Trust Company failed to pay $50,000 owed Wells Fargo

  Friday, September 1, the Mormon banks held only $20,000, a scant 3 percent of deposits.  Heber J. Grant’s brother, and cashier at the State bank wires Heber to say that the bank cannot last another two days.

  September 3, Heber J. Grant offers life to God if He will intercede for the church.  By accident he runs into John Claflin who has early news that the panic is over.  Grant gets a loan for $250,000 for two years at 6% with 50,000 of that going as a bonus to Claflin

(this section in large part from https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/BYUStudies/article/viewFile/6922/6571)

  • April 1896 General Conference, the First Presidency announced the end of salaries for local officers, in response to the decision of the temple meeting ‘to not pay Salaries to any one but the Twelve.'” (Michael Quinn, Extensions of Power)

1897 – Heber J. Grant begs for donations and buying interest in UT&L bank, a bank that would have gone under for illegal practices and not having enough money, except that if it had it would have sent most of the brethren to jail.  The church would eventually throw $50,000 at this bank (1.5 milllion); but in the mean time Heber was to raise $75,000 by pushing the worthless stock and asking for donations from wealthy members.

“When you get home tonight get down on your knees and pray to the Lord to give you enlargement of the heart, and send me a check for $1,000.”  – Heber J. Grant to Jesse Knight (Owner of the Humbug mine)

After presiding over the meetings of a stake conference, Grant typically would invite church leaders and prosperousmembers to a special meeting. After reading the First Presidency’s letter and touching upon UL&T matters (the comprehensiveness of his explanation seemed to vary with the occasion), he would then solicit an immediate and public response. (In case you wondered what special meetings of the brethren with top mormons are about, it’s about money and pushing them to donate to “worthy causes” such as buying a gutted burned building fraught with banking irregularities apostles later would call a “Rat Hole”.

  • 1898 – The LDS church is now $2.3 million (1800s $65 million now) in debt (source).  Heber J Grant is on the hook for $90,000 himself.  Many other apostles are in debt similarly.
  • 1899 – Lorenzo Snow stated that everyone must pay tithing, prompting a dramatic increase in tithe payers. This was about the same time he issued a total of $1 million in short term bonds (source). The manuals show this as a turning point for the emphasis on tithing and its connection with full membership. Also note the subtle retcon in the current manuals
  • 1900 – Lorenzo Snow commissioned a list of non-tithe payers in all stakes. “Snow told the apostles that non-payment of tithing ‘was worse than the non-observance of the Word of Wisdom’” (source).

August 31,1900 - Lorenzo Snow offers tithing dollars to back UT&L bank for $30,000 to get it back to within legal reserves limits (ends up being 50,000 loss for tithe payers or $1.5 million in today’s money).  By preventing  the collapse of the UT&L bank, he prevented the (correct) imprisonment of himself and the quorum of the 12 apostles for illegal activities

“No matter whatever comes to you of importance, no matter what great labor you may perform, in my judgment you will never do anything greater than the saving of that bank, and having men put their money in a rat hole.” – 1915 Francis M. Lyman.

  • 1901 – First Church handbook of instruction is completely about tithing and how Bishops must make sure all money gets back to SLC.
  • 1907 – The church is now free from debt.

1947 – Henry D. Moyle called as an apostle.  In 1959 he is called into the first presidency.  His term as an apostle and ideals would nearly bankrupt the church

  • 1957 – The LDS church has a $7 million surplus from tithing funds. Despite this, the LDS church manages to go $8 million dollars into debt over the next year and a half (source).
  • 1959 – The LDS church stops publishing its financial reports (source).

1960 – Henry D. Moyle beings the “Bigger church office build” and “bigger ward houses would lead to more converts” program.  He also buys up 0.2% of Florida. His optimistic building programs placed a considerable financial strain upon the church and McKay eventually relieved Moyle from many of his administrative responsibilities.

December 13, 1961Property Reserve Inc. founded.  This is during Henry D. Moyle’s term of buying land and he was a business man.  It’s just after the church reports having 7 million surplus in tithing funds and increases 8 million into debt over the next year.  It is also just afterwhen the church stops having to report its income.  The idea that this entity is not founded on tithing funds is laughable at this point, and yes, the City Creek Center can be shown to come from not just tithing funds as a source, but not even pioneer tithing funds but those of members in the 60’s and 70’s.  The company has no website, nor contact information outside an address and phone number

Oct, 1988 - Ezra Taft Benson and the Book of Mormon warehouse debacle (members are asked to pay twice or three times for copies of the Book of Mormon to resolve a warehouse logistics issue).

May 1991Gordon B. Hinkley, president of the church says:

“In the financial operations of the Church, we have observed two basic and fixed principles: One, the Church will live within its means. It will not spend more than it receives. Two, a fixed percentage of the income will be set aside to build reserves against what might be called a possible “rainy day.

April 2000- Church completes Conference center at cost of ~$300,000,000

2003 – City Creek Center land purchased by for-profit arm of the church.  mall developer Taubman Centers, Inc. to help it redesign the malls into a single project and recruit retailers to fill it. The LDS Church has stated that no tithing money was used for construction of the complex, with the project financed through the church’s commercial real-estate arm, Property Reserve, Inc.  Cost is marked at $1.5 Billion dollars (“The City Creek Center is part of an estimated $5 billion sustainable design project to revitalize downtown Salt Lake City. The City Creek Center project itself has been estimated to cost around $1.7 billion-$2 billion.”)  City creek is said to make about $230 million in sales after the first year. KUTV in SLC says the profits from the condo sales, mall leases, etc., go to the non- profit, tax exempt part of the church. The church financed the development without taking a mortgage or construction loan.  It formed a new company (City Creek Reserve Inc, with Mark Gibbons as president) which may indicate a start up loan (Based on tithing money at 0% interest) to kick of the project , allowing the church to claim “no tithing money was used” when in fact it was seed money. However the statement by the church was “City Creek Center is being developed by Property Reserve Inc., the church’s real-estate development arm, and its money comes from other real-estate ventures.”.  Interestingly enough Gordon B Hinkley stated that other arms of the church did not come close in revenue to the Non-profit tithing donations

We have a few income-producing business properties, but the return from these would keep the Church going only for a very brief time. Tithing is the Lord’s law of finance.

Financing for this type of center would be very difficult to secure today,” said Suzanne Mulvee, senior real-estate strategist with CoStar.

The profits go directly to the non-profit church, and any expenses or loss would be backed by tithing, similar to the sugar company; although most likely after the reserves of Property Reserve Inc (See entry for 1961) were consumed.

2009  – Beneficial Life. Deseret Management provided the $600 million. No tithing was used, we were assured over and over. VP quoted as saying “Even though tithing dollars were used, Beneficial Life will pay it all back”

December 18, 2011Elder Holland states 

“There is no money in the Church except what our members offer.”

Which has fascinating implications for the city creek mall, and all church bailouts.

2012 – Ribbon cutting ceremony of City Creek mall “Let’s go shopping” announces Thomas S. Monson.

Sometime around here the church issues new tithing slip, saying they can use tithing and other donations however they see fit:

Special thanks to /u/Curious_mormon for his tithing timeline and efforts on Joseph’s early bailouts

Posted in Church Finances, Uncategorized | 11 Comments

Scooby Doo in “All the Angles on Angels”

Setting:

Mystery Machine stops in Kirtland.  Fred and Daphne talk to some fronteersy-looking men who are all wet.  The men talk about how they have just been baptized and seen an angel walking on water.  One of the men takes a fish out of his sleeve and leaves it (because the animation is easier than having him shake it out a pant leg)

Fred:  Angels that walk on water?

Daphne: I would love to see that.

Velma: (inspecting the fish and handing it to Shaggy) There is something very fishy going on here.

Shaggy: (Taking the fish) Do they have food at the baptisms? ::canned laughter::

Exposition

Daphne and Fred split up,  Velma, Scooby and Shaggy head into town to ask some questions.

Daphne meet Sylvia who says an angel will visit her that very night.  Fred and Daphne decide to wait around the woman’s house.

Meanwhile Velma, Scooby and Shaggy head into town to learn about the leader of the group.  This leads them to a store (author’s note: this would have been Nauvoo where the endowment was above the store, not Kirtland, but it was too good to pass up drawing Scooby and Shaggy via food), where Scooby and Shaggy follow their noses to a bakery.  Velma is bumped by some members coming out of the store and loses her glasses.  A man in a turban and dressed all in white with a large sword comes out behind Velma

:: commercial break::

The man in the turban puts the sword away, and gives Velma her glasses.  He introduces himself as “John” and excuses himself.

Meanwhile Scooby and Shaggy follow their noses into a kitchen where they are told the food is for people who are wearing all in white after their “initiations”.  Scooby and Shaggy use bedsheets in the store to make robes and slip in to the top floor of the store where they join an endowment.  The individuals begin to promise to give everything they have to the church

Scooby: “Ry rwon’t rant ro”

Shaggy: “Zoinks Scoob, I don’t want to give everything to this organization either!”

The officiator realizes Scooby and Shaggy don’t belong (but not that Scooby is a dog) and sends the individuals in the endowment after the interlopers.  Scooby and Shaggy run out.

Officiator: “After those interlopers!  They’ve seen too much and must be silenced!”

Cut to Fred and Daphne:

Fred and Daphne see a man dressed as an angel climbing out of the window of Sylvia’s house.  They follow him where he heads down to the river.

Cut to Scooby and Shaggy running in forest brush

Scooby and shaggy are running with their make-shift endowment clothes blowing behind them as they run.  “Quick, Scoob, hide!” says Shaggy, and they jump into the bushes.  They land on a man who has glowing paint on him.  The man is very large and squirming on planks of wood just under the surface of the water.

The man in the angel garb shows up, with Fred and Daphne close behind.  Fred says “Scooby, Shaggy, what have you found?”

Scooby:  “Ry ron’t Rnow”

Velma arrives:  “there sure are a lot of angels around her”

Shaggy: “Like, why do angels need planks of wood to walk on water?”

Daphne:  “Because this angel is none other than:”

Fred: “Joseph Smith”, pulling off the turban on the water-walking angel

Velma: “My angel is John Taylor, a close associate of Smith who dressed up as the angel guarding the tree of life”

Daphne: “Our angel is another of Smith’s followers who told that Sylvia lady she must Marry smith, but climbed out a window.”

Shaggy: “Zoinks, I mean why would an angel need to climb out a window”

Fred: And he used the angel trick to convince newly baptized people they were in the right church so they would do anything else he said, even marry him polygamously.

 

Joseph Smith: “And I would have gotten away with it, if it weren’t for you kids and your nosy dog too.”

Author’s note:  There really is a claim of boys capturing Joseph Smith during fake walking on water: http://www.sidneyrigdon.com/dbroadhu/NY/Otsego5.htm

That was the basis of this story fitting into the “Scooby-doo teenage” dynamic.  The number of angels and order where they appear was condensed to fit the Scooby-doo television format, but each case is from a cited source of a very human-acting angel.   It has four independent sources and has not been addressed by the church or FAIR that I can find.

Posted in Mormon Murder Mysteries | Leave a comment

Just one more thing… about the Mountain Meadows Massacre

How would Columbo deal with a true mormon murder mystery (Sources and a list of events on the days in question are on the timeline):

[update 3:19 p.m. Jan 20th, 2015 – The actual Columbo was named “U. S. District Judge John Cradlebaugh” and much of what we know about the Mountain Meadows Massacre is due to his diligence and willingness to push and poke and ask questions where people were very unwilling to co-operate.  It was, in fact, his similarity to Columbo that inspired me to write this piece.  His wikipedia entry still decries him for “high handedness” and agitation of the neighbors as well as disapproval from his superiors, things that could all be said of Columbo by those he pursues]

Scene 1 – The Massacre

Individuals are guided by members to camp in a location.  Those members, dressed up as indians along with a tribe of genuine indians strike the camp and two men are killed.  The wagon train surrenders and the white mormons dressed as indians slit the throats of the men, women, and children over the ages of eight.  Those under the age of eight are placed in mormon homes for as adopted children to be raised.

Scene 2 – Brigham Young gets the report of the massacre.

Scene 3 – Columbo, his hair the usually mess, his trench coat unbuttoned, cigar in hand is surveying the temple construction site., still far from completion.  He begins to hang around Brigham, Travels to Cedar City and meets John D. Lee, Brigham’s Bodyguard for years.  Returns to Salt Lake City.

Cut to the end for sake of brevity:

Columbo: The thing is, sir, that I don’t understand is “Why did the Indians slit their necks from ear to ear?”  It’s a grisly way to kill a person.  And not just the men, no the women and children too.

Brigham:  I think you’ll find, Columbo, that the children were spared.

Columbo:  See that’s just it sir.  That’s what I keep asking myself.  These Indians see any male under the age of about twelve as a child, that ‘s when the children enter a rite of passage to become a man.  But no, whoever committed these murders, and they are grisly murders, sir; had to consider anyone above 8 as an adult.  They killed anyone older than eight.  Now do you know anyone who considers eight to be a significant age for making adult-like decisions.

Brigham:  I see what you’re getting at Columbo,  You think that the Indians weren’t Indians, and that it may have been a member of my faith because we see eight as the age of accountability?

Columbo: See, that’s why the call you a prophet.  You must have foreseen that or had God tell you.  That would make sense, then sir wouldn’t it.  I hadn’t thought of that, but you’re right.  You’re faith considers kids who are eight old enough to make eternal decisions and contracts.  And some of the members of the area could have dressed up as Indians.  Thank you, sir.  Thank you.

But ya know, there is just one thing that bothers me.

 

Brigham:  What is that?

Columbo:  The members are the ones who told them where to sleep that night.  Did you know that?

Brigham:  I don’t see what you’re driving at.

Columbo: Well, it could very well be the very same members who told them where to sleep who would have committed the murders.   That would have been very convenient.  Given they wanted to kill a whole lot of people, you would want them where you could find them and gather a party big enough to attack.

 

Brigham: So?

Columbo:  So, you see sir, the person who told them where to stay was John D. Lee.  And I’ve spoken to Mr Lee.  He’s very loyal sir, but not a great big thinker on his own.  Whenever I speak to him, he talks about what leader told him to do where.

::Watches for Brigham’s response, Brigham remains cool::

Columbo: Yessir, everything he does he has an explanation of what leader he was following.  Now he is loyal sir, no doubt.  I’d even say Loyal to a fault.

 

Brigham: But he didn’t tell you a leader sent him to do this murder, did he Columbo.  Or else we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

 

Columbo:  Nossir, he did not.  It’s like it was the first original thought in his head his whole life, sir.  He talks about getting Gold for the apostles, and dodging lawmen left and right, because he is clever sir, but always doing it for some leader, and under instruction, until it comes to the massacre of a hundred men women and children.  Suddenly it’s all his idea.

 

Brigham:  I can tell you’re trying to tie it back to me, Columbo, but you’ll find no trace.

 

Columbo: Not directly, but I did find Parley P. Pratt’s widow sir.  She is here in Salt Lake City.  She arrived on X day, which is recorded in Y journal.  That’s fascinating because she would have to have taken the express to get here, sir.  And a widow like that wouldn’t have the money to pay for an express coach, which means someone paid for her to come here in a hurry.

 

Brigham:  Yes, I did.  I paid for her to come.

Columbo: And she didn’t come and go directly to a family member’s house.  No she came right to you while you were giving that big “independence” speech on July 4th.  The night before she was there with you telling you about how Parley died, wasn’t she, sir?

 

Brigham:  Yes, yes she was.

Columbo: And then you sent a man south.  A man who was making haste to convey a message to the saints in the south, and a massacre happens.

 

Brigham:  But you cannot prove I sent the order.

Columbo:  No sir, I cannot.  But I can prove that you pushed the people to the point were they would receive such an order.

I didn’t understand sir, how the Mormons think.  I thought it was like other religions where pastors spoke to the parishioners and each man wrote his own sermon.  And it is kinda like that sir, but there is something that is very different about Mormons, sir.

 

Brigham:  What are you driving at, Columbo; there are records of the local leaders making speeches that could cause a lone man to take up this action.

Columbo: Oh sure sir,  and one of those local leaders was your son even, if I’m not mistake.  But, uh, sir; the United States has had a history of fiery pastors throughout history, sir.  And very few congregation members take up a weapon and kill someone.  Even fewer do something this grisly.

No, sir, the thing that is different about the Mormons is known as the temple.  And let me tell you, it is difficult to get anyone, even exmormons to talk about what goes on in that building.

 

Brigham:  It is a place of instruction and learning, where we seal ourselves to our wives.  As you know we don’t even have one in Salt Lake City, we just have an endowment house.

Columbo:  Yessir, that’s true.  But there is a ceremony sir, called the endowment.  And it turns our asking enough questions around what goes on in there, I learned sir, there is something called the “oath of vengeance” sir.  That any Mormon who wants to go to heaven must take this oath at the very end of the temple, sir.  Now after what happened here today, I could understand if one day, later on, the Mormons were to remove the “oath of vengeance”, but here, today, when this massacre happened, each and every faithful Mormon swears to get vengeance upon the heads of those who killed Joseph Smith.  Isn’t that right sir?

 

Brigham:  The temple is filled with sacred things, I do not wish to discuss it.

Columbo: And it also has members swear to get vengeance against the U.S. Government.  Well sir, this oath of vengeance, that doesn’t sound like God to me sir.  No this “endowment” is supposed to be eternal, sir; but it wouldn’t make sense for Adam and Eve to swear to get vengeance on Joseph Smith’s killers would it, sir?  Or Abraham, or Peter the apostle, or Saint Augustus, sir?  No it would have to be written in by a man, probably someone close to Joseph, who loved him so dearly, that he could write in the requirement that everyone who listened to him would need to get revenge on a fallen friend.  What was it you said when you visited the graves of the people massacred in South Utah?  “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord”.  Isn’t that right sir.  You see, I have it here in my notebook sir,  Several people swear that you said that.

And that’s it sir.  Once you had the “Oath of Vengeance” in place, sir; you wouldn’t have to say much to have a massacre like this happen.  No, just the word that one of the killers of Joseph Smith was in the party.  Oh, maybe you intended to just have one or two people die, those directly responsible, but you see, the law doesn’t work like that sir.  If you set up a situation to kill one person, and a whole host die because of that, you’re culpable for creating the situation.

So I may not have proof that you ordered the massacre, sir, but I can show that all it would take is for you to tell your rider to the south that a killer of Joseph Smith was in the wagon train, and the rest would happen.  Because I have it on record, sir, that those responsible believed that a killer of Joseph Smith was in the train.  And certainly people around the killer of Parley P. Pratt.  That’s why you paid the express carrier to bring her here so fast, wasn’t it sir?  So that you’d have the justification and verification that individuals connected to the Death of Joseph were in that wagon train.

 

Brigham:  You’ll never get it to stick Columbo, I was pardoned of all war crimes when I surrendered to Johnson’s army.

Columbo:  Maybe not, sir.  But maybe I can get the court of popular opinion to do what the criminal court cannot.

Epilogue: By 1860, with the Union ready to split apart, interest in prosecuting the Mountain Meadows case waned.  Governor Cumming saw little reason to press for prosecution, especially in a territory where the law put jury selection entirely in the hands of Mormon officials.

“God Almighty couldn’t convict the butchers unless Brigham Young was willing,” Cumming said.

Cradlebaugh’s efforts, however, were frustrated when the federal case is essentially dropped after the U. S. marshal declared his unwillingness to execute arrest warrants without federal troops to protect him from local citizens–and that help was not provided.

Posted in Mormon Murder Mysteries, Uncategorized | 6 Comments

The Encyclopedia (Brown) of Mormonism

(In the style of and tribute to Donald J. Sobol’s novels)

Now you may have never heard that Joseph Smith once visited Idaville, but he did.  Idaville looked like many other seaside towns its size.  It had lovely beaches, three movie theaters and four banks.  It had churches, a synagogue and two delicatesens.  But no Mormons.

It all came down to when William Law, one of the mormons slapped a quarter into the jug that sat next to the sign on which the words “25 cents per day, plus expenses – No case too small.” were scrawled.

25 cents was worth a lot more back then

“Mr. Brown”, William Law began, “I need your help.  A certain bully is trying to cheat two girls out of their fortunes.”

“How is he trying to cheat girls out of their fortunes?” asked Sally Kimball, Encyclopedia Browns friend, business partner and Bodyguard.

“By marrying them both!” Replied the man.  He then explained that Sarah and Maria Lawrence were both to inherit a large sum of money from their parents.  William had learned from his wife that Joseph intended to marry both the girls and use the money before they became of age to use the money for themselves.

Just then none other than Mr. Smith sauntered up to the detective agency accompanied by a very grungy looking man with hair down to his shoulders.  Sally and Porter locked eyes and exchanged threatening grimaces as Ol’ Joe began to speak:

“I assume you’re talking to the boy detective about my plans to marry the Lawrence girls, William?  You know God commanded me to marry them.”

William Law shrugged his shoulders.  “I know an angel with a sword commanded you to engage in polygamy but.. oh dear oh dear, Maybe they will have to marry you.”

“You can cancel the wedding” replied Encyclopedia Brown picking up a bible.  “There is no way God commanded you to marry the girls”.

How did Encyclopedia Brown thwart the marriage?  Turn to page 87 to find out

_______________________________________________________________

Continue reading

Posted in Mormon Murder Mysteries | 1 Comment

What would Sherlock Holmes say about Mormonism?

Greetings avid readers.  I have taken on a vain ambition in 2015 to apply the simple problem solving skills heard in the “Murder Mystery” genre and to think how the famous detectives and problem solvers would apply that thinking to great moments in Mormon history.

You see I often find myself remembering Columbo asking “one more thing”, or having an Angela lansbury moment while sifting through history; and as such thought it might be fun to let my readers experience the kind of thoughts that come from it.

And to kick it all off, why not start with the very man who created the genre, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Man Himself

And in fact we can start with the very novel that started it all: A Study in Scarlet 

“Beware the Mormons” would have given away the ending

That’s right, the very first Murder Mystery featured the villains to be none other than the Mormons.  Specifically Danites the Mormon secret police (although in the book they are far more like ninjas, magically materializing through walls and such).

The story flashes back to the Salt Lake Valley (in modern Utah) in 1847, where John Ferrier and a little girl named Lucy, the only survivors of a small party ofpioneers, lie down near a boulder to die from dehydration and hunger. They are discovered by a large party of Latter-day Saints led by Brigham Young. The Mormons rescue Ferrier and Lucy on the condition that they adopt and live under their faith…

According to a Salt Lake City newspaper article, when Conan Doyle was asked about his depiction of the Latter-day Saints’ organisation as being steeped in kidnapping, murder and enslavement, he said:

“all I said about the Danite Band and the murders is historical so I cannot withdraw that, though it is likely that in a work of fiction it is stated more luridly than in a work of history. It’s best to let the matter rest”.[4]However, Conan Doyle’s daughter has stated: “You know, father would be the first to admit that his first Sherlock Holmes novel was full of errors about the Mormons.”

Years after Conan Doyle’s death, Levi Edgar Young, a descendant of Brigham Young and a Mormon general authority, claimed that Conan Doyle had privately apologised, saying that

“He [Conan Doyle] said he had been misled by writings of the time about the Church”[4]

and had

“written a scurrilous book about the Mormons.”[5]

However, in a preface to Volume II of The Complete Novels and Stories of Sherlock Holmes, Loren D. Estleman noted the implied criticism of the Mormons. He states that the story was not controversial at the time of the story’s release, probably due to reports of the Mountain Meadows massacre and the small membership of the church.

So I don’t even have to project what Sherlock would have done because the idea of murder mysteries and mormons launched the genre.  I will attempt to update a new entry in this category each week.

Posted in Mormon Murder Mysteries | Leave a comment

The top 15 (new) reasons to question in 2015

This is not going to be a list like the letter to the CES Director.  This is going to be a short list (call it “Dan Petersen” length) of new issues not discussed previously by apologists or church leaders of things that should cause one to ask tough questions of the LDS church in 2015.  Apologists are constantly stating “We’ve heard all that before” or “those are old issues”, so for 2015, some brand shiny new issues.  You’re welcome.

15.  Thomas S. Monson owns 2 houses one he kept secret for most of his life worth $383k.  This, coupled with public records showing apostles’ wives getting homes at a discount and the whole idea that they council people to buy modest homes and then do not do it themselves.  Compare this to the Book of Mormon’s view on priestcrafts and “working with one’s own hands” for support as a church leader and one should come away with at least a question or two.

14. That two members were involved in writing and authorizing torture.  Sure sure, they were just members and “The Church is Perfect, the people are not” but the belief system allowed two individuals in two different wards to feel absolutely okay with instigating extreme pain in other of “Heavenly Father’s Children”.  That should at least make one ask a question or two, such as the apostles of old when told one would betray Christ, “Is it I?”.  Could any member end up justifying that kind of behavior?

13. Chapel Cleaning fees – Whenever someone gets married in a chapel, they have to pay a $50 cleaning fee.  However, it is the membership who cleans the chapel (And the families of the Bride and Groom are expected to clean the church as well), so where does the $50 go?  Well, according to the CHI all local funds go to Salt Lake City.  Yeah, Thomas S. Monson directly receives those cleaning fees.  Now, I don’t think this was maliciously done, I think that this is an oversight that was left over from when the church swapped from paying  janitors to unpaid members, but they still collect it, and it goes to say, pay for $300k houses.

12. The failure of Prop 8 and the Church’s stance on Polygamy.  Prophets and Seers who failed, failed, and failed again to prophesy or see the outcome.  If you don’t see why this is an issue, I’d recommend you read the prophet’s on the wrong side of history on race issues and the complete disregarding Brigham Young’s words on Race and the Priesthood and imagine what this whole era’s leaders will sound like in 50 years from now.

11. The new institute manuals moving away from scripture, and more into folk doctrine and current policy.  Anyone who loves the scriptures should be wary about this issue.

10. Kate Kelly’s excommunciation.  When so much of our scriptures depends on individuals (including women) asking questions and getting answers, to see someone excommunicated for asking about women having priesthood like they did in 1920 should be very disturbing to members

Sections of scripture dependent on Questions and Answers:

  • D&C 89 (Asked by a woman!)
  • D&C 77
  • The Aaronic Priesthood restoration (Joseph and Oliver asked a question)
  • Deborah in Judges is a Prophetess who the generals ask to prophesy for them.
  • Joseph Smith asking about which church is true

9. John Dehlin’s pending excommunication.  Anyone who feels anything at all on LGBT issues and is familiar with the science behind the LGBT issues has to feel heartburn that he was challenged with excommunication

8. Rock Waterman’s pending excommunication.  Here is a man who believes the church doctrine to the extreme, but he was also threatened in his membership.

7. The Apologist responsible for defending the Book of Abraham, the only one with a degree in Egyptology, had his license revoked for making inaccurate statements last year.

6. The lack of response to the Letter to the CES Director. That the FAIR conference didn’t even really deal with it beyond Ad Hominem attacks.  Nor did the CES system answer the questions officially, or any answers at conference.  This should be somewhat troubling.  Oh, the FAIR conference said that one could buy several $80 books to get the answers, and that sure seems like priestcraft to me, but hey, simple answers take a lot of effort to find.

5. The Boat Speech at conference.  Speaking of the lack of answers at Conference, the boat speech should be a true red flag.  I worked for a company that was involved in illicit set of dealings.  The CEO would point out all the benefits of working for the company (Call them blessings, if you will) and tell people not to leave.  Anytime someone is more interested in telling you to stay rather than answering questions, one should be wary.

Imagine you were on a real boat and the captain came by every few minutes saying “Stay in the boat”.  The first time you might say “sure, ya, why would I leave?”  But about the third or fourth time you might start to wonder.  Then you find that there is a rumor that people are being called to bail out water in the bottom of the boat.  You should probably investigate that claim.  The captain saying “Stay in the boat” becomes evidence there is a problem with the boat.

4. The Polygamy Essay admitting to Helen Mar Kimball, Drawn Sword forced marriages, and Joseph having done it to 30-40 women.  Perhaps more troubling was the instance that Fanny Alger was a wife, when Joseph’s interaction with her was in 1832 and the marriage recorded in 1836, but the essays breeze over it my just mentioning the marriage happened sometime in the 1830’s.

3. Real Estate investments like the Mall, the living space near the new temples and so forth.  It’s a big deal.  Anytime the question of a religion investing into billions of dollars of real estate, one should ask a few questions.

2. The Church’s Essay about Joseph translating using a rock.  This isn’t a new one, but the church admitting this last year and then NOT UPDATING THE IMAGES so that they are  still showing Joseph using the Golden Plates to translate, and this illustrates the church’s willingness to deceive.

1. Trust.  One word.  All the other items on this list lead up to it.  The church is completely built on trust.  One trusts the leadership, one trusts one’s feelings are the prompting of the Holy Ghost.  One trusts that the scriptures are accurate.  Each of these items on the list illustrates a breach of trust.  And the church needs to refocus winning trust as it is the only capital the church trades in.

Posted in Current issues | 6 Comments

How a coffee shop is like an airline

The topic of whether the church is growing, shrinking, thriving or failing is constantly being discussed.  From the idea in the 90’s that it would grow at a constant rate and fill the earth ( most recently stated in Mark Koltko-Rivera, Ph.D., an award-winning social scientist, in his latest book, The Rise of the Mormons: Latter-day Saint Growth in the 21st Century) to Marlin K. Jensen’s statement on Apostasy being like that of Kirtland’s there have been a plethora of individuals talking about the topic, and almost all of have them have gotten it wrong.

And by that, I don’t mean that I’m going to be right, but I want to take a new approach to understanding why everyone is wrong on church growth.   And to do that, we’re going to need a cup of coffee.

Well, actually we don’t need a coffee, someone else needed a coffee, we’ll just observe

Back in the 2008 I was at a Barnes and Noble waiting while relations selected books.  I wandered over to the snack counter and was pondering which delectable treat I might consume when I beheld a most fascinating sight.

A man walked up to the counter, and the woman called him by name and handed him his coffee perfectly made the way he wanted it.  This, in and of itself was not something particularly spectacular, but the interesting bit was, he hadn’t ordered.

I walked up to the counter and said “I bet he is one of your top 3% of customers and they account for 25% of your revenue”.  She nodded.  “And the next 7% of customers care about loyalty rewards and status upgrades and account for the next 25% of revenue”.  Again, she agreed. “And the bottom 10% are a lost for your company”.

“Just who are you and how do you know so much about our store?” she demanded.

You see, I was working for an airline in their CRM (Customer Resource Management) department.  We were doing analysis on the most loyal customers, and focusing on what motivated each of the groups and how much revenue those groups drove.  And the numbers stated above applied to the airline, just like the coffee shop.  The most valuable thing to the airline top 3% was that the flight attendant knew their name and preferences.

And so the coffee shop customers were exactly like the airline customers.  I could instantly see the same dynamic in parking spaces at shopping malls.  My mother was one of the 3% shoppers at our local mall, and she would drive for 10 minutes to get a closer parking spot; because she knew how much we would bring home at the end of the (all day) shopping trip.  If one mall had set up a set of “favored customer” shopping spots and known which stores she preferred, welcoming her, I would have lived my early years out of a shopping mall.

Here are the relevant numbers:

  • Top 3% of customers – Regular, repeated customers or big spenders, 25% of revenue
  • Next 7% of customers – Typically business partnerships, care about upgrades and loyalty rewards.  Treat them like a superior member and they respond well.  Next 25% of revenue
  • Next 80% of customers – 50% of revenue a mix of coupon consumers and occasional buyers.
  • Bottom 10% of customers – Cost 10% of your revenue, use coupons exclusively, only shop when there is a deal

So we return to the question of church growth.  Typically individuals only focus on the raw statistics.  LDSStatistics.com tells us a lot about growth from the church’s own reported numbers.  We can see that growth has peaked and has remained basically flat in overall numbers.

But then why all the talks about “Stay in the boat” and Marlin K. Jensen’s Q&A session talking about apostasy.

It’s because the WHO of who is leaving has shifted.  Any leader in the church can tell you that the roles have had huge numbers of individuals who came once or rarely attend.  Primaries are filled with empty seats.  Most estimates put church attendance between 30-50% around the world.  And it’s been this way for a long time.

Most of the posts about people leaving the church in “droves” talk about how the collapse of the church is imminent because so many are leaving.

What’s really happened is that the “inactive” were always part of the bottom 60% of the church’s business.  They consumed most of the humanitarian aide.  They used a lot of the resources and attended little.

Tithe paying members are that top 10%, who mostly care about feeling special.  Think about how the lessons are structured, they talk about how many perks the members get, and how they are special in the special knowledge.  Members get access to special rights (temple attendance, missions, blessings, etc.)

The top 3% of contributors are the people who bring the casseroles, the bishop knows them all by name.  The Stake president knows them.  They always have a handshake waiting for them.

  • To break it down the LDS Church claims 14 million members (As of earlier this year)
  • 3% top members who care about namedropping and knowing their preferences – 420,000 members
  • 7% loyalty who care about perks – 980,000
  • 10% who consume humanitarian resources and only come when the church is servicing them – 1,4 million

You can see it in any given ward on any given Sunday.

Census records indicate that only about 5 million members self-identify as LDS.  That would break the numbers down even further to how few people would need to leave to really impact a revenue stream.

So when members say the numbers aren’t that different, or “There have always been inactives” they are right.  When exmormons and anti-mormons say the church is losing members they are also right.

What has happened is there has been a shift where the top 10% have started to question.  They have started to leave.  The most loyal ones are caring less about the handshake, and the loyalty rewards; and far more about the actual product being sold.

In airline terms, the route that they traveled on is being shifted; and it is impacting the customer base negatively.

The organization needs to understand that the demands of their customers has actually altered if they are going to respond to the issue.  They must match the product to the demand, or else they will lose their most loyal customers.

And you can see this shift; the Letter to the CES Director, John Dehlin’s Mormon Stories, and other factors are impacting the top customers’ expectations ; while the overall membership is remaining relatively steady.

50% of revenue comes from your top 10% of customers

But the impact to revenue (in this case, tithing) is not small. Remember our coffee shop?  50% of revenue came from that top 10% of customers.  In the church, that top 10% produces half the tithing.  For our airline, that top 10% paid all of our bills, and all bonuses, new routes, marketing and new technology was purchased out of the remaining 50%.  It was the “Bread and butter”.  Shifting the top 10% impacts the day-to-day operations, because the remainder of the organization loses R&D opportunity.  The “Share the gift” social marketing push, the Meet the Mormons film, all of these come from a budget that is threatened by the shift in the demand of the top 10%

That is why Ordain Women, Mormon Stories, and other NOM groups are threatening to the church.  That is why there is a sudden push for talks to keep people from leaving the church (Which is a failing strategy, btw; stop with the talks and instead meet the market demand!).  It is all in this dynamic of the shift in the break down of the members rather than an impact in overall membership numbers.

The church can continue to claim 14 million members and even make up 20% growth but that will not matter compared to the hard breakdown into what camp those members break down to.

Posted in Current issues | 3 Comments