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

1864Brigham Young’s son, John Willard Young, spends $16,000 a year of tithing funds to live a luxurious and extravagant lifestyle in New York, while flagrantly violating commandments and ignoring his calling as an apostle. John Willard regularly petitioned church membership for additional funds to “assist with construction of the railroad,” which he promised would eventually be of great benefit to the Saints in the west; but really went to his personal expense account.  In October, 1876 General Conference Brigham declared that John Willard was to be the new First Counselor of the First Presidency of the church, despite him never showing any interest in the church previously. Joseph F. Smith, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, expressed his concerns privately to President Brigham Young.  Smith believed John Willard’s lack of actual experience and poor life decisions could upset members who knew next to nothing about the man and his credentials.  In a fit of rage, President Young scolded Elder Smith for his remarks and then promptly sent him on a five-year mission to Europe.

  • 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

This entry was posted in Church Finances, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Last edited by Mithryn on March 15, 2016 at 7:20 pm

16 Responses to Tithing Bailout timeline

  1. Great info! I spotted one minor error howerver. City Creek Mall opened in 2012 not 2006 I believe. Keep up the good work.

  2. UTTransplant says:

    City Creek mall and the infamous “Let’s go shopping” line are from 2012 not 2006. You can see it in the YouTube link you give.

  3. Fartfax says:

    Technically, property reserve has a website, it just really sucks. Pripd.com

  4. Rikki says:

    Forget turtles, it’s racketeering all the way down.

    There were more interesting moments, but one of my favorites was the “too big to fail” scam in 1890 followed by Joseph F. Smith busting out the “tithing comes before necessities and implicitly suggests that 9 dollars will go further than 10 when tithing is paid” prosperity gospel in 1892.

    Leave no (seer) stone unturned.

  5. Todd says:

    LOL Are you kidding….. You’re trying to say that Joseph Smith had a mansion???? HAHAHAHA! That’s some imagination. Wow!

  6. Seth R. says:

    Parts aren’t giving the whole story – namely how Joseph Smith’s banking practices stacked up against commonly accepted practice by just about every other frontier bank of the day.

    A lot of rural farming banks on the American frontier played a bit loose with some of the rules. A lot of them weren’t even aware of a lot of the rules.

    It’s important to avoid presentism in these kind of inquiries.

    • Mithryn says:

      This is a very fair criticsm of this timeline. This kind of thing was very common, although Joseph does stand out a little with the KSS in that it was actually deemed illegal, but it was not so dissimilar that another when another individual challenged the same law on similar grounds, the result wouldn’t have applied to Smith (both would be upheld as illegal, see my KSS timeline to understand that).

      I think also the panic of 1893 caused individuals in most organizations to take similar action. However, the difference is, that most organizations do not use the seal of the LDS general authorities; nor promise people direct blessings from God for obeying handing money over to them. I think that such activity, when found out, was morally repugnant in the 1890’s both inside and outside of the church.

      Further, we can see that individuals would and did go to prison for these kinds of misdeeds both inside and outside the church.

      I fully agree that historical context is needed, I just disagree that it would vindicate Heber J. Grant, Joseph Smith, or others. Instead we would see them as “just men” who “Did the best they could in trying times”, but who leveraged the idea that they had direct access to god to ask for money for personal gain; which was always a morally reprehensible act; both then and now.

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