There is a meme that’s been floating around the interwebs for a number of years that is a screencap of a question posted to Yahoo Answers (always a fantastic place to go if you need to be reminded of what a pitiful species we humans are) where an apparently religious parent is concerned about their son or daughter turning into an atheist.
As is the problem with these sort of images, the picture has been posted, downloaded, re-posted, downloaded, re-re-posted etc etc etc to the point where the text has become almost illegible due to the fact that sites like Facebook compress each image that you upload – and every time an image like a JPG is compressed, bits of information are lost… sort of like if you took a photo and photocopied it and then photocopied that 1st photocopy and then photocopied that 2nd photocopy: each generation becomes worse than the one before it.
It’s a good little message, so before it gets to the point where the text is completely beyond human comprehension, I figured I should transcribe it here to the Omniversal Blog – with a little editorial polish: even my own articles here go through subtle revisions in the days after they go live as I re-read them and break down clunkier concepts for the sake of understanding and word flow.
Okay… here we go.
Q: What Is The Best Way To Stop Your Child From Becoming An Atheist?
A: Do not educate them, or expose them to critical thinking, logic, or science.
Lie to them constantly about how the world works. Feed them a steady diet of mumbo jumbo dressed up like real knowledge – jumbo jets are really the whirlwind, for example – and pretend that it is deep wisdom.
Make them loathe their own natural bodies and functions. Convince them that they are small and weak and worthless and in need of redemption. Tell them everything enjoyable is grievously wrong to even think about, and that their only pleasure in life should be grovelling to an invisible friend.
Ensure that they resent anyone who is not like them in every way – skin colour, nationality, political opinion, and especially creed. Make such people out to be evil and vile and give all of those impotent minorities the fictional power to somehow oppress and persecute the vast majority who think exactly like you do.
Teach them to laugh at and dismiss out of hand any faith but their own. Early on (as soon as your child can speak), make sure that they are taught the difference between superstitions: where one raving lunatic in the desert telling the truth about a capricious God who kills people is a sinner, but that another raving lunatic is the desert telling the truth about a benevolent God that kills people is telling the eternal truth.
Instruct them, with all the severity and importance that you can muster, to never ask questions… to never think for themselves… to never live their own lives… to only seek answers from one (just one) particular set of semi-literate Bronze Age folk tales.
Above all else – and this cannot be overemphasized enough – make your child easily identifiable as a True Believer by making sure they cannot spell, use correct grammar, or understand basic English words.
If you do all of the above things, you should be in luck!
The answer was submitted by a mostly anonymous Answers user that goes by the handle of ‘David M’, and I would like to think that the ‘M’ stands for Magnificent.
Let me be completely forthright off the bat: I am an ex-Mormon – I was born into the church to a family full of True Believer Mormons (TBM) – who left the church after 22 years.
The reasons I left are legion – but foremost among them is The Church’s (Morg members shorten the formal title ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ to simply ‘The Church’ – and for the sake of avoiding unnecessary keystroking, I’ll do the same) completely batshit approach to reality, its financial shenanigans, and its backwards gender roles.
Many people – who only know Mormons as a peculiar-but-harmless religion that occasionally sends young men knocking at their doors – who find out that I used to be one of the Morg (‘Mormon Organization’… but also a somewhat clever play on Star Trek’s nearly unstoppable villains The Borg) often ask me what The Church is all about and why I now hold it in such low regard.
So, in trying to make a complete and thorough answer, I’m constructing this blog entry with all the pertinent facts about Mormons, Mormonism, and the overall Mormon church.
PLEASE NOTE: If you are a currently practising Mormon who intends to trash this article in the comment section below, be aware that your comments will be immediately deleted – and if you persist, I will blacklist you for harassment.
To those Mormons who read this without the intent to abuse me, I ask you to consider everything I write with an open mind that’s capable of critical thinking – not with one where you only enter into thought processes approved by The Church.
I hold no ill-will towards the average, individual Mormon church member as they are decent folk who try to be as morally good as they can… and I used to congregate with some stellar people in various wards – but I hold priesthood members of the Church hierarchy in strict contempt due to their perpetuation of such a deceitful, biased, bigoted, and misogynistic system.
So, without further ado, on with the show.
Exhibit A: Church Origins
To get to the root of the Morg, one has to look back at it’s early 19th century architect – a young man named Joseph Smith, Jr.
Born on December 23, 1805, Joseph was a rather unremarkable man according to contemporary accounts (that haven’t been purchased and later deep sixed by The Church – which is the organization’s M.O.), with the only things drawing any attention to him was his frequent run-ins with law enforcement.
You see, Joseph was a flim flam artist (a ‘Glass Looker’ in the parlance of the day) before his upgrade to Prophet: he was arrested three times for the glass looking, arrested for being an imposter once, charged on numerous occasions for bank fraud and counterfeiting money, and was held in general low-regard among law enforcement officials of the day due to his many attempts to get locals to invest in his ‘get rich quick’ schemes that usually involved his using a divining rod to locate buried treasure.
Most of the newspaper articles regarding his criminal exploits have been either stolen from the regional archives or purchased outright by The Church’s historians and then either destroyed or sequestered in Church vaults where The Church hopes the stories will never see the light of day again – but the information is still available to those who are willing to wade through the court documents of the era.
By the mid-1830s, Joseph had come to realize that his life was going nowhere and that he was doomed to be just another American frontiersman with a meagre family land plot in New York state – never fulfilling his desire to be a rich, powerful babe-magnet that wouldn’t have to deal with the ordinary folk around him ever again.
It’s not known exactly when he came up with what I will call the ‘Prophet Plan’, but in June of 1830, Smith made the first recorded statement that he had been contacted by an agent of God – an angel that went by the name ‘Moroni’ – in 1823 that was subsequent to a vision he had of God and Jesus in 1820.
Prior to this supposed event, Joseph had made known to various family members and friends that he was dissatisfied with how Christian faiths were being managed – in particular, Methodism, since it was the predominant church in Smith’s area – but he had never claimed to have any divine insight.
At around the time of his first ‘vision’, Smith and his frequent partner-in-crime Oliver Cowdery were trying to get people interested in their new Church Of Christ – a church that eschewed common church practices in favour of things Smith and Cowdery deemed more important.
I’m guessing that there weren’t too many takers to the new religious format, which lead Joseph to implement the Prophet Plan… as that’s what makes sense when you take into account the man’s personal history.
Anyhow, Moroni told Joseph where to find a cache of buried ancient artifacts (*cough* buried treasure *cough*) that had been secreted away under a hill in Manchester, NY by the last member of an ancient tribe of Jews.
According to official Church teachings, these artifacts were composed of:
a large book of gold pates with inscriptions on them (in really fine print if you take into account the length of the Book of Mormon)
an old breastplate from the armour of one of the long-dead American Jews
a set of magical stones that allowed a layman such as Joseph to translate a language he had never seen before (That’s pretty convenient, don’t you think? Very thoughtful of this pre-Christ American Jew).
The morning after the ‘vision’, ol’ Joe tried to dig up the gold plates and drag them back home (seriously, gold is heavy), but Moroni came back and smacked his hands.
Over the next four years, Joseph made numerous trips to the hill where the plates were hidden so that he could translate bits of the text, not having the patience to sit in the dirt and do a full-on, cover-to-cover writing – but, finally, on September 22, 1827, Moroni said “Whatevs, dude” and let Joseph dig the plates up, put them in a locked chest, and take them home.
PLEASE NOTE: Not one single person other than Joseph ever saw these gold plates, despite claims to the contrary: all supposed witnesses were either extended family members, close friends, or persons with a financial stake in seeing Mormonism succeed – and many of them had belonged to Smith’s former cadre of treasure seekers.
It’s unknown if he had his new wife Emma drag the chest containing the gold plates behind her, but that wouldn’t be out of the question considering The Church’s treatment of womenfolk.
At the same time, some of his old treasure-seeking pals had grown tired of Joseph not hanging out with them anymore and decided to ransack his house in search of the hidden treasure – which forced Joe and his wife to skip town, moving from Palmyra to what is now Oakland, Pennsylvania… taking the gold plates and the magic stones with them.
In short order, various lackeys were employed by Joseph to write down the stuff he “translated” from the plates as he hid behind a curtain and used the magic stones and a stove pipe hat to convert the Ancient American Jew scribbles into Ye Olde English.
Seriously, the Book Of Mormon was written into The King’s English… The King’s English of 1611.
In fact, Joseph so closely mimicked the language of the King James Bible (despite the fact that NOBODY talked like that in 1830s – what with all the ‘thee’ and ‘thou’ and other anachronistic terminology) that he inadvertently copied whole passages from The Bible into his ‘Book Of Mormon’ – which has been explained away by The Church as being universal truths laid down by God, so naturally they would be worded exactly the same… irregardless of the King James version of The Bible not being the most accurate translation of that source material.
Anyhow, despite all the mysterious translating, and the fact that Joseph took the plates back to that hill in Manchester to re-bury them where they have remained ‘hidden’ to this day (it doesn’t hurt that The Church has purchased all of the land that makes up the hill and fenced it off so nobody could ever look for these gold plates), an ever-growing number of people started to believe in what Joseph had pulled out of his ass.
Thusly, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was born.
In the early days of The Church, there was a lot of drama and murder and arson – with The Church being forced from town to town until 1844, when a group of Joe’s old associates started causing a stink in Nauvoo, Illinois, which had become the central hub for Mormondom.
The commotion grew into such a tempest that regional authorities – who had tried to quash the Mormon movement – finally had no choice but to arrest ol’ Joe and throw him in the near-by Carthage Jail… the act of which made Mr. Smith an easy target (he had been protected/hidden by the Mormon faithful up to that point).
On the night of June 27th, 1844, an angry mob camouflaged themselves for the dark by applying blackface (ironic since, later on, Church doctrine labelled people of the African-American persuasion to be cursed by God) and attacked the jail, killing Joe’s brother Hyrum with a shot to the face, and finally cornering Joseph Smith, Jr. – which he remedied by attempting to jump out a 2nd story window… but not before being riddled with bullets.
He died shortly after hitting the ground, but for good measure, the angry mob shot him several more times.
No word on whether they asked “Where’s your God now?”, but I like to think that they did.
Exhibit B: The Modern Church
If you’re going to make up a new religion, and you need it to take on legitimacy, there’s no better way to pump up the church membership than to give them a martyr – and the angry Nauvoo mob did just that.
After Joe was murdered (the term ‘lynched’ hadn’t been invented yet), the Mormon movement lost its appreciation for the quaint woodsiness of the Upper East Coast part of the still-young United States of America, so they all piled into a wagon train and headed west – all the way to the mostly unexplored area of the country that would eventually become Utah.
The Church was happy that there wasn’t a human population for hundreds of miles in any direction, allowing them to develop their new fiefdom in private – away from the prying and judgmental eyes of the unclean masses that made up the rest of the world.
Being an unimaginative lot, they named their capital Salt Lake City after, well, the Great Salt Lake nearby.
In or around 1853, The Morg started work on the Salt Lake Temple – the mother ship of Mormondom and a religious icon that took 40 years to build (because apparently Stone Masons were persona non grata in Mormon Land?).
Over that 40 years, The Church pretty much dialed in what it is today, based on the babblings of Joe Smith and subsequent Godly revelations through the modern-day prophets that are the church presidents.
These were the basic tenets of the Mormon faith:
The Church was the only “true church” of God… naturally
The indigenous native population of North America were descendants of those Ancient American Jews
The President of The Church is God’s only legitimate voice on Earth (naturally), akin to the Pope of the Roman Catholic faith
That The Book of Mormon and its companion books (The Doctrine & Covenants, and The Pearl Of Great Price) are the last word in all matters – you know, aside from all that stuff written by bored sheep herders that eventually became The Bible
That human kind isn’t born guilty – unlike, say, Roman Catholics
10% of every dollar you make should be given to The Church in the form of tithing (no collection plates for The Morg)
Black people were ancestors of Cain – the son of Adam & Eve who murdered their other son – and were unworthy of any type of church office (despite Joe Smith being cool with black dudes)… but they were welcome as church members
Women are not designed to gain The Priesthood (The Priesthood being male specific set of powers that come from God, and is open to every male church member over 12) and cannot attain high church office
Baptism by water is the only way to receive the Holy Ghost (the tertiary spirit of God) and one cannot attain The Kingdom Of Heaven without it, but don’t worry if y’all haven’t been baptized: you can be baptized after you die by zealous Morg drones in one of their temples – irregardless of your religious views (Ann Frank? Yeah… she’s been posthumously baptized a half-dozen times just in case being killed by Nazis wasn’t bad enough)
Young men are expected to fulfill their Godly duty to mankind and go on a 2-year mission around the world to spread the gospel and recruit new members
Consuming certain foods and plants will bar you from Heaven (a list of which is contained in The Word Of Wisdom… which is sorta like Life For Mormon Dummies)
Touching your genitals for the purpose of self-pleasure will bar you from Heaven
One must only eat foods when they are in season
Every Mormon man is meant to have multiple wives so he can populate the Earth with as many Mormon children possible
On the verge of the 20th Century, these were the beliefs held by the Mormon faithful – but, as you can imagine, there’s going to be 1 or 2 problems.
The first major problem for The Church – outside of the all the murder committed by those against The Church and by those people in its employ – was that in order for Utah to become an official American state, the Feds demanded that Mormons stop practicing polygamy (the act of having many wives).
So, in spite of the fact that he had previously commanded all the Mormon men to shag as many ladies as possible, God – totally by coincidence, yo! – whispered in Church President Wilford Woodruff’s ear that polygamy wasn’t cool in 1890, and he ordered it stopped at once.
When The Church demanded that all the polygamous nookie be stopped, whole factions of The Church resigned membership from the main Mormon body and set themselves up with what they called the ‘Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints’ (because the church name wasn’t long enough already) – and today, they’re the ones you see on TV in shows like Sister Wives or Big Love.
With the Feds appeased, Utah achieved Statehood, and The Church was no longer faced with any dire impetus to change – and they generally haven’t since 1904 when Joe Smith The Second told everybody that The Church was serious about the whole one wife thing… for realsies.
Exhibit C: Racist Religiosity
In the early days, African-American people who joined The Church were allowed unfettered access to The Priesthood – and in fact, two of The Church’s first high poobahs (Elders Abel and Lewis) were black, and Mr. Smith never said a single thing about it.
However, when ol’ Joe met his untimely demise and was replaced by Brigham Young (of the university’s name) as president and prophet, The Church’s viewpoint radically changed: being in favour of slavery and having a diminished view of the negro, Young decreed the above part about blacks being the descendants of Cain – whose skin was turned black because of his role of being the world’s first murderer.
Nobody in The Church, or in communities where The Church operated, rose an eyebrow because blacks were imported slaves… and having slaves was the shit, so condemning them to non-Priesthood was really a non-issue: who wanted Godly niggers? (note: I’m not fond of that word, but ‘nigger’ was the term of the day).
Just in case people misunderstood him, Young repeated this stance in 1849 – 12 years before the American Civil War (as of 1860, there were only about 50 black people in the entire Utah Territory – which made it a remote governance item at the time) that put the issue of black slavery to an end, but not the innate American racist attitude that permeated the Deep South and Mid West.
On a side note, it’s rumoured that Young was forced to make his beliefs public because a black Mormon dude named William McCary claimed to also be getting Tweets from The Heavenly Father – but since there could only be one true prophet, it was best to just condemn the whole race.
Young went so far as to say that black men could only obtain The Priesthood after they die (“In the Kingdom of God on the Earth the Africans cannot hold one particle of power in Government.”) – which I guess means there are A LOT of pissed off Priesthood holders in Heaven that got lynched in this lifetime during the Civil Rights struggle.
The funny thing was that Young couldn’t come right out and endorse slavery because Joe Smith & Friends had included in The Doctrine & Covenants the idea that “it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another”, and included that all people are children of God and “he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female” into the Book of Mormon.
So, his hands were tied… and he also didn’t want to bar The Church from gaining new members via missionary work in 3rd world countries overseas – which, incidentally, had large populations of non-white people.
That Native Americans were allowed to obtain The Priesthood – in spite of their non-white skin – was endemic of Joe Smith’s basic church dogma that American Indians were descendants of those Ancient American Jews who had fled to the Americas by boat from the Holy Land due to persecution (why or how he decided to make Native Americans into Jews is a mystery, but I have a feeling that he may have seen an immigrant Jew once and noted that the person had darker skin than white guys – and since Indians were somewhere between black and white, it made sense to call them long-lost Jews).
(As a further bonus for Native Americans, joining the church would let them become “white and delightsome” over time – as long as they were good Morg sheep.)
In 1949, Church President George Albert Smith directed The Church to address the ‘Negro Question’ thusly:
“The attitude of the Church with reference to the Negroes remains as it has always stood. It is not a matter of the declaration of a policy but of direct commandment from the Lord, on which is founded the doctrine of the Church from the days of its organization, to the effect that Negroes may become members of the Church but that they are not entitled to the Priesthood at the present time.”
This anti-African American stance actively remained on The Church’s books until 1978, when Church President Spencer W. Kimball officially called for an end to the discriminatory practice:
“He has heard our prayers, and by revelation has confirmed that the long-promised day has come when every faithful, worthy man in the church may receive the Holy Priesthood, with power to exercise its divine authority, and enjoy with his loved ones every blessing that follows there from, including the blessings of the temple.”
However, there was still institutional sluggishness within The Church up until quite recently – mainly due to the fact that the upper hierarchy of The Church is mostly composed of Old White Men®, who were brought up in the era when The Church was openly racist.
In 1995, black church member David Jackson had to practically beg the church presidency to verbally repudiate the declarations of church prophets and church administrators that African-Americans were worth less than their white counterparts.
In December of 2013, the Church Presidency directed administrators to release the following, simple statement that hoped to put the issue to rest permanently:
“The Church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is a sign of divine disfavour or curse, or that it reflects actions in a premortal life; that mixed-race marriages are a sin; or that blacks or people of any other race or ethnicity are inferior in any way to anyone else. Church leaders today unequivocally condemn all racism, past and present, in any form.”
Maybe it’s true that The Church has turned a corner on this issue, but given that The Church is still presided over by Old White Men®, I find it hard to believe that racism has been completely expunged from the organization.
Exhibit D: She Wants The D And Not The Priesthood
Blacks can now hold The Priesthood… YAY!
However, if you were born with a vagina, no Priesthood for you!
The Church has a very simple mandate for you if you are female:
Look as pretty as possible – which means wearing a nice dress to church on Sundays
Attend the ladies-only Relief Society (lots of singing, baking, sharing parental tips… like Good Housekeeping: The Musical) classes once you hit your teens
Marry a returned missionary
Have lots of babies with said returned missionary
Foster a talent useful to The Church – like singing or playing the piano/organ
Grow old and teach Relief Society classes
See? Doesn’t sound so hard, does it?
…If your only goals in life were to be married, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen while waiting for the washing machine to stop.
Women are 2nd class citizens in The Church – despite all the carefully worded church literature that makes it sound like being female is the next best thing to being God.
The gift of indentured servitude to a man who will bore you with the stories of all the places he went to on his 2 year mission – which may or may not include exciting locales like Boise, Idaho or Bancroft, Ontario.
“Spread ’em and then make me a sammich, Sweetheart! Don’t forget the bacon. ”
As a young boy in The Church, I never really paid much attention to how all the heifers were herded off into their own section of the church building after the main worship meeting (the part of the Sunday program where everyone sits together and sings hymns, eats sacrament, and listens to long boring sermons).
But as I grew into a young man, I began to notice how classes had turned into a total Sausage Fest.
As a guy who’s a big fan of the ladies, this began to gnaw at me – so I casually inquired why things were the way they were… and invariably, I got an answer that paraphrased that book passage that I posted a couple paragraphs up.
In essence, the attitude is “Don’t bother yourself with it, young sir. The girls you used to hang out with in Sunday School are off learning how to be a better wife for you – after you spend 2 years at The Church’s mercy as they shuffle you around to random places.”
Now, missionary work is a peculiar hitch in church philosophy as young women can actually go on missions of their own – in fact, one-quarter of all Mormon missionaries are girls… but what they do on their missions varies greatly from their male counterparts.
The greatest goal for a male missionary is to baptize new converts into The Church – but since women can’t hold The Priesthood, female missionaries can’t do all the exciting stuff like that.
Typically, girl missionaries are the “Reconnectors”: they parachute into wards that have above-average lists of “inactive members” (members who don’t attend church anymore but haven’t gone through the motions of formally resigning from The Church) and move through the local community in attempts to get those inactives going back to church and paying their 10% tithing.
In the end, the life of a young woman on a mission is more clerical (concerned with or relating to work in an office, esp. routine documentation and administrative tasks) than clerical (relating to the clergy) – which explains why there’s 3 male missionaries for every 1 female: I can’t imagine many young ladies hoping to be a travelling secretary.
Oh… and over the length of my Morg life, I honestly can’t recall meeting female missionaries among the 20,000 male Elders (the formal title for male missionaries).
Church women are meant to be baby factories that mint new, tithing-paying church members… and if they can’t find a returned missionary to marry – or anyone else for the matter – they end up being the outwardly cheery (you can see the loneliness in their eyes) spinsters who bake food for the various Strawberry Socials that each church ward has every year.
Exhibit E: A Scientific Approach To Vagueness
How many of you watched the recent Bill Nye Vs. Creationism debate that transpired a few weeks ago?
Let me say firstly that The Church doesn’t belong to the ‘Young Earth’ group of religious weirdos – the type that believe the Earth is only 6,000 years old.
But… but… they do believe that God created the Earth in seven days as it’s laid out in Genesis.
At this point, you might be asking “How does that work?”
Well, this is where the official church line gets fuzzy (and it’s not the only scientific matter that goes for a walk in Whackadoo Park) when you ask your local bishop or Sunday School teacher: they will get a little uncomfortable as they have to reach deeply into their memories to course prep materials or the information that’s stored in the official Bishop’s Handbook before they come up with the standard answer.
In the New Testament, Peter says that in the eyes of the Lord, a day is a thousand days as seen by men… but Joe Smith did one better and included in either the Book of Mormon or The Doctrine & Covenants (I can’t remember specifically as this is an answer I got a very long time ago) that one of those God days equals 100,000 Earth years – or perhaps that was the bishops’ own interpretation of the scripture in question.
Either way, The Church skates by the Creationist cabal in an effort to look progressive.
And, to be fair, The Church has a generally embracing attitude towards modern science: there are no sermons preaching the evils of men trying to understand the works of God.
However, The Church has gone to great lengths to establish its own centres for scientific research and learning to redirect the good Morg sheep into material that seems scientifically sound but fully supports the bullshit that Joseph Smith laid down in the Book Of Mormon… and to a lesser extent, The Bible.
These schools try to offer up convincing archaeological and DNA evidence that Native Americans are actually descended from Jews who fled Jerusalem and sailed to the Americans around 2,000 B.C.E. – despite the fact that these theories do not pass muster in the realm of peer-reviewed science.
FACT: There are absolutely no archaeological sites in the Americas that support the stories laid down in the Book Of Mormon – which posits that these ancient Jews (who split into two factions, the good guy Nephites and the bad guy Lamanites) built enormous cities all over what is now the U.S. of A… complete with massive walls and temples.
FACT: DNA analysis performed by recognized universities has determined that Native Americans are descended from Mongolian stock that crossed the land bridge that connected Siberia and Alaska before the last Ice Age.
With these two incontrovertible bits of information, the Book of Mormon falls apart completely, and for The Church, that simply will not do… so they get “scholars” from Church-owned colleges and universities to write reams of worthless paper that sound scientific in their approach – with all kinds of diagrams and photos that purportedly support their findings – to firm up the beliefs of any Morg drone who might have a hard time reconciling what The Church teaches and what is written about in National Geographic.
Oh, and that DNA evidence? Apparently God magically changed the DNA so it would confuse the story – but good church members will pray about it and the truth will be made apparent.
Exhibit F: Financial F*ckery
Remember how I said that church members are required to give 10% of their income to the church?
That money contribution is to prove that you’re a humble person who’s worthy of The Kingdom Of God… or some bullshit like that.
As of 2012, The Church had 14,782,473 members enrolled.
Let’s say that 30% of those members no longer actively attend church or pay their tithing – which leaves 10,347,731 people.
Now, let’s assume a median income of $15,000 per year for each of those active members – allowing for many of them to be married to each other or for a lot of them to be teens working after-school jobs.
That nets the church member population a yearly grand total of $155,215,965,000.
All those people dutifully give away 10% of all the money they get to the church, which adds up to $15,521,596,500 every year.
I admit, my numbers are fairly soft since the church doesn’t release how many members actually pay tithing or how much money comes in from tithing, but let my ballpark number sink in: fifteen billion dollars a year.
For the sake of argument, you could +/- $1,000,000,000 and still be left with an epic shit tonne of money.
It should scare you to know that the majority of Morg drones don’t give it a second thought – or even a first one for that matter.
All they know is that giving away money somehow makes their chances of kickin’ it with God better after their lives end i.e. they’re happy to buy their way into Heaven.
Again… where does that money go?
Well, as you’d expect, there are a number of answers – some good, some bad.
First, the good: The Church has a number of social programs that legitimately improve the lives of certain members, despite the largest of them not being well-known outside the group of people who needs it.
Mormons are of the belief – not that it’s a bad one – that they should always be ready for the impending apocalypse: every household should have stores of canned and dry goods to eat, candles and matches to light their homes when the power goes out, etc etc.
Sure, the more well-to-do members can do all that shopping at Walmart or Home Depot with their own money – but what about the poorer members who don’t have extra money that’s not going directly to the food they eat every day and keeping a roof over their heads?
The Church provides… and in this instance, it’s in the form of canned food (fruits and vegetables) that are cultivated on church-owned farms all over the U.S., Canada, and other countries around the globe and labelled with The Church’s Deseret brand imprint.
I, myself, have spent a summer working on one of these farms in Jordan Station – a small hamlet outside of Niagara Falls in Ontario.
These farms are manned completely by volunteer labour donated by socially minded church members in an effort to do their part in making the world a better place – which is an admirable thing, don’t get me wrong.
One side-effect of all of this farming and canning is that there is a large surplus year-to-year because not every Morg household is as diligent in planning for the Second Coming as they should be, and that means warehouses full of canned goods that aren’t being used.
To solve this, The Church runs a food welfare program for low-income families and individuals who are at risk of losing their housing because they’re forced to choose between eating and having shelter.
Every two weeks, these people receive a box or boxes of canned food and dry goods manufactured by The Church, and supplementary frozen and baked goods like bread purchased with church money on the open market.
Recipients are urged not to make being on this welfare program a continual thing, but the program is managed at the ward level by the bishop and he has full autonomy on its dispersal.
It’s a good use of church funds – in fact, it’s probably the best thing The Church does with any of the monies it rakes in.
Another program is The Church’s official adoption agency that finds homes for children born to unmarried Morg girls who decide they can’t care for the child – so, it’s not much different from publicly funded/available adoption services… and, I’ve heard that they even adopt children out to non-members, but I have no data that supports that notion.
One of The Church’s much ballyhooed programs is Disaster Relief: church members are told that Mormon relief workers are often the first on the scene after a tornado or hurricane strikes, or an earthquake levels a city – but, in reality, that’s hardly ever the case.
In North America, it’s usually The Salvation Army that’s the first to roll out – or Canadian Tire in Canada.
7% or less of church money actually goes to Disaster Relief – but the stories The Church tells it’s members makes them feel good about all that money they’re bribing God with.
So far, we’ve accounted for 15-20% of church income: $3,104,319,300 – and don’t forget that churches are tax exempt.
Where does the remaining $12,417,277,200 go?
Well… The Church currently has 15 temples under construction around the world, and the average cost of one of these temples is $30,000,000 – with some costing more, some less.
There goes $450,000,000 – barely a drop in the bucket, and let’s be realistic: temples aren’t paid for all at once.
Currently, there are two temples under renovation – so let’s say the total cost for the two renos will be the cost one 1 brand new temple.
The Church has 14 temples in the planning stages, which I will presume requires land purchases – say $1,000,000 for each.
Still humming along with eleven billion dollars.
Did you know that The Church has quite the real estate empire that’s not related to religious service?
Multi-billion dollar shopping malls… condo towers and apartment complexes… and 2% of Florida’s total landmass that was recently purchased for $500,000,000 – most of it made up of worthless swamp land that will continually become more worthless as sea levels rise.
Let’s say that The Church spends $8 billion a year on property maintenance, acquisition, and land taxes.
We’re left with $3,000,000,000 – and I can’t figure out where that goes.
I can think of quite a few worthy federal, state, and provincial government bodies that could use $3,000,000,000 – but it disappears inside Mormon coffers instead.
Oh, and let’s not forget all the money The Church spends on political agenda items – like Proposition 8 in California that would have banned gay marriage.
NOTE: Bloomberg recently pegged The Church as being valued at approximately $350 billion
Exhibit G: Great Mormons Are Great
When you live a day to day life that’s managed by one of the most peculiar Christian religions on Earth, you can begin to feel a bit inferior when compared to your neighbours who regularly go out for coffee (BANNNED) dates with their friends… or the ones who laze about in their back yards during the summer and guzzle down ice cold Coca-Cola (BANNED)… or the ones who have bicthin’ parties every 3rd Friday where everybody is drinking beer (BANNED), booze (BANNED), wine (BANNED), or champagne (BANNED).
Honestly, it’s enough to give you a complex.
With that in mind, I bring to your attention one of the Morg’s more harmless quirks: their loud (and often) identification with fellow Mormons who make it big – in sports, movies, TV, politics, or business.
At any given time, all Mormons can name at least 6 famous Mormons – whether the celebs are practising members, were formerly practising members, were brought up in Morg homes, or are married to a Morg.
Think about the 2012 U.S. Presidential election: do you have any idea how unbearable Mormons would have become if Mitt Romney had become President Of The United States? It would, in one master stroke, validate everything they believed in – and Mormonism as whole being the only truly American religion.
In the 1970s, Morg kids publicly identified themselves with the Osmonds – and that habit hasn’t changed… even if the stars have.
Ken Jennings, a famous Mormon in of himself, would run the board on JEOPARDY! if the category were Notable Mormons – spitting out names like Gladys Knight, Wilford Brimley (The Word Of Wisdom didn’t save him from the diabeetus), Orson Scott Card, Roy Halladay, and James Talmage.
That all of the famous Mormons are known names – and are accepted by the world – somehow reaffirms the Morg drone’s belief system and deludes them into thinking they’re just a little bit famous, too… you know, by proxy.
Yes, I know The Church has other issues than the ones I’ve outlined above – which are all independently verifiable if you’re willing to put in the effort (and by effort, I mean clicking some links from Google search) – and I could probably go on for umpteen more sections, but I have to end this somewhere.
This is the point where I stop.
My endeavour here has really taken up more time than I’d have liked – wasting what precious little life we have in this world on something that really doesn’t mean anything tangible to me… tangible beyond the bitterness I have of pissing away my first 2 decades.
However, I encourage you to keep seeking the truths – they’re out there and I have certainly given you directions to look in.