Priestcraft.com

As we move further into the information age, the possibilities for priestcraft multiply.

A few recent incidents have me wondering about the dividing lines between priestcraft and legitimate business.

First, I received a number of e-mails a few months ago encouraging members to try to bring The Work and The Glory movie to local theaters. As far as I could tell, the e-mails were sent to ward lists. They were couched in terms of the us-versus-the-world dichotomy: “Don’t you wish that there were more family-friendly movies in theaters? Help us bring TW&TG to a theater nearby.”

But some members quickly objected to the use of church e-mail lists for promotion of a commercial venture. TW&TG may be family-friendly, but it’s also a private, money making venture. Eventually, the senders apologized for sending the e-mails.

Second, some colleagues pointed to a private, for-profit website that uses a style sheet and page format nearly identical to the church site ldscatalog.com. This seems to raise its own ethical questions. Is it okay to copy the look and feel of the LDS site? Is this legitimate, or is it an attempt to possibly confuse buyers into thinking one’s own site is officially linked to the church?

Finally, I wonder how this all relates to the T-shirt knock-offs that you can buy in Deseret Book.

Where is the line between priestcraft and legitimate commerce? I’m not sure, but things knock-off T-shirts, copycat site designs, and use of e-mail lists all make me uncomfortable.

In any case, if you were wondering whether it’s too late to scoop up the address Priestcraft.com . . . it is. The address goes to a site owned by followers of the Jehovah’s Witness early leader (and later schismatic) Charles Russell.

90 comments for “Priestcraft.com

  1. November 16, 2005 at 6:15 pm

    Profiteering it may be, but priestcraft it is not. Nor, for that matter, are BYU and institute religion professors or seminary teachers, who also make a living off of the gospel.

    Priestcraft is profiting off of offering salvation, either essential teaching or ordinances. Those who set up churches for personal gain are profiting off of people’s desire to seek after God. People don’t buy tasteless T-shirts because they think it will save them. Seminary teachers and church nonfiction authors are a bit closer to priestcraft, since they are teaching gospel principles as a job. Yet they are supplemental, not essential. The fact is, nobody has to pay a cent to gain access to all the blessings God offers. Unless you make money, in which case you must pay tithing.

    Though that raises an interesting question. If tithing funds are used to pay “professional preachers” like seminary teachers, then how different is that from the advocates of priestcraft in the Book of Mormon? Does priestcraft not apply if the priest is preaching the truth? At least books are paid for voluntarily.

    So what is the best definition of priestcraft? It can’t be just taking money in exchange for preaching. It can’t even be requiring the payment of money in exchange for teaching. Does the motive of the money-taker matter?

  2. November 16, 2005 at 6:30 pm

    “The fact is, nobody has to pay a cent to gain access to all the blessings God offers.”

    I’m glad you quickly qualified that, Jonathan. I’ve always been uncomfortable with the fact that Mission Presidents and General Authorities are basically paid by the Church.

  3. Jeremy
    November 16, 2005 at 6:34 pm

    Jonathan,

    I don’t think seminary teachers fall into the category Kaimi’s worried about. After all, it’s the church paying their salaries. However, if I just independently hung out a shingle that said “Mormon Sermons, $1” that would be something else entirely — and _might_ border on priestcraft, depending, I think, on three things: 1) the extent to which I do or don’t adhere to actual doctrine; 2) the extent to which I have some kind of endorsement from the church (speakers on the ‘Fireside circuit’ come to mind; and 3) the extent to which I claim or imply to have ecclesiastical authority or endorsement. Intent might figure into it as well; there are certainly some peddlers of Mormon culture who are looking first and foremost to gain a buck–and some of their wares have found their way into the Mormon cultural mainstream, sometimes despite the peddler’s questionable adherence to gospel living in their personal lives. I’ve personally known two aspiring Mormon pop artists who quite cynically but convincingly sought to exploit the Deseret Book demographic while leading spiritually precarious personal lives; they both had brief moments in the son before falling off the Mormon radar and away from the church. I’ve also heard less-than-celestial firsthand accounts about a couple of very well-known Mormon pop artists, but don’t want to gossip (I’d rather just foster wild speculation!).

    I share Kaimi’s unease with some of the products he mentions. I have particular problems with “after-market” self-help additions to the gospel and the like. And I have to disagree somewhat with Jonathan’s dismissal of T-shirt knock-offs: I think there is a sense, however vague or uncoscious, that mere membership in the “one true” culture offers or aids in salvation, and that wearing obvious emblems of that culture earns one “extra credit.”

  4. Jeremy
    November 16, 2005 at 6:36 pm

    er, in the sun

  5. jimbob
    November 16, 2005 at 7:24 pm

    Jeremy and Jonathan,

    My father has been both a mission president with a stipend and an institute teacher his whole life. I would agree that he’s not really practicing priestcraft, at least not as I understand the term (see 2Nephi 26:29), but I’ve never really been able to reconcile his job with what I see as the spirit of Mosiah 18:24-26 (http://scriptures.lds.org/mosiah/18/24,26#24). As a lawyer, I can parse that language and look for deeper meaning in context, I guess, but the import of that scripture to me is that you don’t get paid to preach the gospel, and I lived the first 23 years of my life being more or less supported on his preaching. Any thoughts?

  6. Peter
    November 16, 2005 at 7:51 pm

    I always thought the elders ought to meet some night to discuss homemaking skills, and call it “priestcrafts night.” :)

    I’m not particularly marxist, but I don’t have a problem with someone receiving a living salary from the church while they preach the word. To me the danger creeps when we capitalize the religious teaching and message. When power and money can tempt someone to teach something different or more popular.

    It’s not just money, either:
    2 Ne. 26: 29 — “priestcrafts are that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion.”

    Alma 1: 16 – “there were many who loved the vain things of the world, and they went forth preaching false doctrines; and this they did for the sake of briches and honor.”

    Honor and power come into play. I saw professors at BYU — both of the Pharisee and Saducee types — who almost seemed to be gathering their own cults. One Latter-day Pharisee prof promoted a book on campus with his doctrinal views, nade it required reading in his class, even after the administration told him to stop. Cultivated disciples.

    2 Ne. 10: 5 suggests that Priestcraft politics played a role the crucifixion of the Savior. How much of that was just money — 30 pieces of silver, or the overturned carts at the Temple that Jesus tried to reclaim as a House of Prayer? My feel is that most of it was really about power and the honor of men.

  7. November 16, 2005 at 7:58 pm

    wow i agree with kaimi about something. repent. the end is near.

  8. Wilfried
    November 16, 2005 at 8:06 pm

    Well, perhaps we could call it the Catholicization of Mormonism. Just substitute and (at least for the Wasatch front): “Join the Catholic Commerce webring! We are building an online directory of small businesses wishing to advertise their products and services to Catholics consumers. Promote your business with us on our Catholic Commerce webring.”

    “Ave Maria jewelry, medals and crosses, crucifixes, rosaries, St. Joseph kit and more at discount prices from our online store…”

    Anyone who has been in Lourdes, Compostella or Fatima knows what we are talking about. Are Palmyra and Nauvoo heading in the same direction?

  9. Seth Rogers
    November 16, 2005 at 8:07 pm

    The problem is that, regardless of the intentions of the individual entrepeneurs, people will make a hash of it.

    I remember hearing a commercial on Utah’s 1160 KSL news radio back in the 90s on a spin-off of the “Work and the Glory” series that dramatized the Book of Mormon, complete with radio testimonials. Here’s one gem:

    “I feel like I know Nephi so much better now!”

    Eeew.

    That’s not just tacky. That’s dangerous religious thinking.

  10. November 16, 2005 at 8:33 pm

    Does anybody know how much Mission Presidents, GA’s, etc. make? I was always under the impression it was very little-just covering living expenses, but I could be wrong. I always assumed this was the reason most (if not all) GA’s were highly successful (read well-off) and thus could afford to “retire” and become a GA.

  11. Jeremy
    November 16, 2005 at 8:34 pm

    Anyone who has been in Lourdes, Compostella or Fatima knows what we are talking about. Are Palmyra and Nauvoo heading in the same direction?

    Perhaps we’re already there. I don’t know about Nauvoo, but during Hill Cumorah Pageant time the main drag in Palmyra fills end to end with tables full of Mormon T-shirts and trinkets for sale. Also, when I lived in the Palmyra stake I heard, on more than one occasion, folklore about so-and-so’s uncle who heard from one of the general authorities that this or that particularly tree in the sacred grove was the one Joseph Smith prayed under; also, once when I accompanied the missionaries to the home of a sweet but clearly uninterested elderly woman with whom they were making no progress, the elder pulled out the last stop in the “resolving concerns” category: he told the woman she’d get a clearer answer about the BoM if she prayed about itin the sacred grove, rather than in her house, as she had been doing.

    I think it’s just a matter of time before a Reliquary opens up in one of our pilgrimage sites. :)

  12. Julie M. Smith
    November 16, 2005 at 9:21 pm

    “Second, some colleagues pointed to a private, for-profit website that uses a style sheet and page format nearly identical to the church site ldscatalog.com. This seems to raise its own ethical questions. Is it okay to copy the look and feel of the LDS site? Is this legitimate, or is it an attempt to possibly confuse buyers into thinking one’s own site is officially linked to the church?”

    That would be me. I’d like to note that I sent an email to the Church’s intellectual property people about that website. I also linked to that site in our sidebar. I recently checked and the site has completely changed the look and feel of its pages. (Which is why I won’t name them here.) Of course, I have no idea if my email and/or sidebar link had any effect on their decision to change, but I *am* happy that they changed.

    As far as selling salvation, many LDS products come close to suggesting (in some cases, do suggest) that they will improve the purchaser’s spirituality, prayer life, etc. That always gives me the willies. But often, it isn’t so much even the product as the marketing approach used for it.

  13. November 16, 2005 at 10:20 pm

    I always find the Deseret Book commercials that play between general conference sessions on public TV in Utah/Idaho to be a little disconcerting. It just adds to the confusion that all Deseret Book products are somehow sanctioned by the Church (and conversely, that non-DB products are NOT).

    I recently told a friend in Utah about ROUGH STONE ROLLING and he asked “oh is it published by Deseret Book?”. I said, “no, it’s published by Knopf” and he then proceeded to explain that non-DB books are heretical because if they were “true” they would be published by the “Church” aka “Deseret Book”.

    But mainly I just think that all these Mormon products (i.e. Captain Moroni action figures) are incredibly corny. I am just waiting for the “Orrin Porter Rockwell (TM) Kickboxing Home Workout Video Series”

  14. November 16, 2005 at 10:52 pm

    I’m with you, Sheldon. I’m watching conference on BYU TV, The session ends, the “amen” from the closing prayer is still echoing off the walls . . . and all the sudden I’m seeing some sappy mother daughter scenes selling a “Young Women’s Pendant” and a price flashing in front of me. It’s disturbing.

    Maybe that’s the price I pay for watching it in my PJs instead of heading 5 minutes up the road to the stake center . . .

    I also struggle w/ the emails I get from Deseret Book with subject lines along the lines of “New Books to Make your Family Home Evening more Spiritual” . . . I’ll have to go dig some of them up and post them. They’re creepy.

  15. gst
    November 17, 2005 at 12:05 am

    Having represented Random House and its family of imprints, which includes Knopf, in defamation actions, I take the position that they are also true books. Or at the very least not maliciously untrue.

  16. Mike B
    November 17, 2005 at 12:57 am

    Whenever I hear the word “priestcraft” mentioned, I think of Richard and Linda Eyre. They did a fireside in my area 17 years ago and had audio tapes for sale afterward. In a church building. I guess I thought that was tacky.

  17. November 17, 2005 at 2:57 am

    “Is it okay to copy the look and feel of the LDS site? Is this legitimate, or is it an attempt to possibly confuse buyers into thinking one’s own site is officially linked to the church?”

    What about putting images of famous L.D.S. prophets, buildings, and events in your web site’s banner? ;-)

  18. Keith
    November 17, 2005 at 5:45 am

    “I’ve always been uncomfortable with the fact that Mission Presidents and General Authorities are basically paid by the Church.”

    I encounter this sentiment often among various Latter-day Saints, and there are probably a number of factors that cause them to feel this way. I think it’s helpful, however, to remember the various passages in the scriptures (and especially in the D&C) where the Lord says the laborer is worthy of his hire, and makes provisions for Joseph and others to have their needs met so they can dedicate all their time to their specific work in the Church.

  19. November 17, 2005 at 6:05 am

    I’ve always been uncomfortable with the fact that Mission Presidents and General Authorities are basically paid by the Church.�

    Like Keith, I think it is important to remember that there is scriptural provision for supporting those who serve full time. And though I don’t count any GAs among my close friends, I have several friends who’ve served as mission presidents. It is obvious that they weren’t making any extra cash as mission presidents. One of them came home with virtually none of his savings left. None of them came home without having sacrificed financially. Few people have enough money to support themselves full-time for three years service, so if the Church wants mission presidents, then it must help support most of them.

  20. El Jefe
    November 17, 2005 at 6:26 am

    That’s pretty much correct, Jim F. Mission Presidents get a house, a car, utilities paid, and a small amount for food and clothing. And, of course, the usual reimbursement of expenses incurred in the line of business (travel, hotels, etc.)

    Many GA’s receive nothing but expenses paid; primarily because they are retired or have funds of their own. Others, who are not as well off, receive a stipend. Enough to live on, but they are not wealthy.

  21. A Nonny Mouse
    November 17, 2005 at 8:18 am

    Two anecdotal stories on Mission Presidents/GAs:

    1. Friend of a friend is a GA. They tell him, “And this is the stipend you’ll be receiving,” and hand him a piece of paper with the amount written on it. He looks at it and thinks, “Well, hey! That’s not too bad!” Then he realizes that it’s the yearly amount not the monthly amount they’ve shown him.

    2. Both of my mission presidents were meticulous about taking out exactly what they’d spent on food for us when eating at the mission home from our monthly allotment. I believe they also had to pay utilities themselves, El Jefe. Or at least some of the utilities on the mission home.

    Thirdly: While it doesn’t necessarily have a direct bearing on the discussion of priestcraft, depending on how the discussion is framed, I believe the GAs living allowance does not come from funds provided by member’s of the church. It’s somewhere in the Ensign… Post 1985 (don’t have time to go look it up right now). A general conference address by President Hinckley, I believe. He says that the GAs living allowances don’t come from tithing funds, they come from monies generated by the Church’s business ventures. So, if the idea of priestcraft is that the people are told they have to pay for salvation by financially supporting their church leaders, then that’s not the case here, because we’re not paying for their upkeep. The Church’s bussinesses are.

  22. Lamonte
    November 17, 2005 at 10:47 am

    Yesterday I saw a story on the local news channel (Washington DC area) discussing a growing number of incidents of car jacking or car theft while the owners were about to enter their cars. One incident included a local minister who “was about to enter his brand new Mercedes Benz” and was held up at gunpoint by two thugs who took the car and several thousands of dollars in church money that was in the car. I thought to myself that the thieves might not be the ONLY ones stealing. Compare a minister with “a brand new Mercedes” (not to mentiuon several thousand dollars of church money in the car) to a teacher in the church education system who gives dedicated service while living on a meager salary and you can see the definition of “priestcraft.”

  23. Seth Rogers
    November 17, 2005 at 11:31 am

    There’s more than just money though. Praise is powerful currency.

    I don’t think that Mormon incidents of priestcraft are about the money. It’s more about the prestige.

  24. November 17, 2005 at 12:20 pm

    Seth,

    I agree with you whole-heartedly. How many Bishops, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, GA’s, have puffed themselves up and abused their position? This is clearly priestcraft.

  25. November 17, 2005 at 12:22 pm

    I agree with Seth that when priestcraft occurs among us, it is usually not–or not especially–about the money. It is about praise and prestige. I also think that it is easier to succumb to that kind of priestcraft. Indeed, my experience is that it is difficult to avoid it. It is what D&C 121 is warning us against, supposing that we have some power because we have been praised or put into a position of authority, official or otherwise. If we think of priestcraft in those terms, it is something that most of us most of the time have to guard against.

  26. b bell
    November 17, 2005 at 12:37 pm

    Priestcraft.

    Easy to define: Graduate from divinity school and start your own church. Grow grow. Soon you have a fleet of Mercedes and thousands of followers. The name of your not for profit church is BBell ministries.

    Hard to define: Mission pres stipend. Spoke to one former mission pres a while ago and he said that he was flat broke after three years because the stipend was peanuts.

    I guess you know priestcraft when you see it. In our church is not so obvious like my first example. I do not see how GA’s, mission pres or church employee is priestcraft.

  27. maria
    November 17, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    Per 2 Nephi 26: 29, my mission president taught us that priestcraft occurred anytime someone taught the gospel with a motive other than to glorify God.

    For example:

    You know your eternal investigator isn’t progressing, but your discussion numbers are down. So you keep teaching the investigator 5x a week. Motive: not appear lazy to your DL/ZL/MP. Result: priestcraft.

    You want that boy in the singles ward to notice you and ask you out, so you decide that today is the day you should bear your testimony. Motive: get a date. Result: priestcraft.

    You preface your lesson in RS with a lengthy story that includes many superfluous details illustrating how great you are. Motive: make yourself look good. Result: priestcraft.

  28. D. Fletcher
    November 17, 2005 at 1:44 pm

    I’ve made 1,500 sets of sheet music for my setting of The Articles of Faith for children, and I’ve got to sell them in order to pay for them. Is it so wrong to use emails to Mormons to sell my product, which is for Mormons?

    I haven’t sold anything to Mormons before, but I am curious to know if I’m doing something wrong.

  29. Jeremy
    November 17, 2005 at 2:13 pm

    D.,

    I think intent plays a significant role: your goal in doing the AoF settings (as I understand it from the MAG promo materials) was to address what you saw as an educational need that coincided with an artistic need. I think priestcraft involves commodifying spiritual things and seeing believers as entrepeneurial opportunities. There’s a difference between making something good practical simply so it can exist and making something good profitable so it can feed desires beyond itself (money, praise, etc.).

    Also — and I may sound like an artsy fartsy snoot saying this — but there’s a difference between popular artists responding to demand in the marketplace and serious artists creating art for art’s sake and hoping it finds a market.

    Now, if you start selling autographed copies in the foyer after firesides, that’s something else entirely…

  30. jay s
    November 17, 2005 at 2:26 pm

    D. Fletcher,

    I don’t thing it wrong to email members of the church, with the following exceptions
    1) use of church generated membership lists (ie Ward/Stake Lists, elders quorum lists etc),
    2) Selling with the pitch “this will make you a better mormon”, or “this is required to be in the church”

    and then you have all the problems with email marketing not specific to church members.

  31. A Nonny Mouse
    November 17, 2005 at 3:10 pm

    A couple of thoughts:
    1. Much of what has been termed here as priestcraft might be better termed: money changing. The concept is that
    “making a buck off the church” by merchandising something is more like what the money changers did in the temple.

    In my personal book, I think there is a place for gospel oriented merchandise; eg. if somebody is really enamored with the concept of “CTR” and the CTR ring, the 15 cent CTR Ring the church supplies 7 and 8 year-olds might not cut it. They’d like something that won’t turn their finger green and won’t break if they look at it sideways. A merchandiser who sells them the ring I think is morally and ethically just fine. However, if somebody goes out and markets the CTR Ring as a “must have” to be a good Mormon, or creates a huge marketing campaign to create an artificial movement around their product, I’d say they’re money-changing. They’re trying to make a buck off something that folks might have a legitimate need/desire for.

    2. Priestcraft, to me, seems to be strictly defined as the teaching/preaching of gospel principles to make money. There is a perfectly legitimate need for folks to teach the gospel, even outside of official church channels. A CES person or a mission president or a regular member of the church is, in my book, encouraged to create and publish faith-promoting material. I don’t even mind that much if folks get some supplemental income from that material.
    When somebody constructs their entire career on publishing such books and tapes and things and markets them aggressively as necessary gospel instruction, or creates that sort of a feeling in folks, then I think we’ve reached the level of priestcraft.

    So, marketing church merchandise — money-changing. Marketing gospel doctrine — priestcraft.

  32. Julie M. Smith
    November 17, 2005 at 4:12 pm

    “I’ve always been uncomfortable with the fact that Mission Presidents and General Authorities are basically paid by the Church.â€?

    But if we didn’t do this, only people who didn’t need to work (i.e., independently wealthy) could be MPs and GAs. I think a modest stipend (and my understanding is that it is very modest) is the lesser of two (potential) evils.

    Seth is right on–prestige and praise way more tempting than money for most of us. I struggle with this sometimes as I find myself a little too pleased that someone has complimented me on a talk or a lesson.

    maria–Very nice. Excellent point.

  33. Madera Verde
    November 17, 2005 at 4:39 pm

    It seems to me that priestcraft has more to do with motivation than action. Do I preach for my welfare or that of my listeners? Obviously all people have to concerned for their welfare even preachers. I don’t think ministers of other faiths being paid for their work neccesarily constitutes priestcraft. I think it is wrong however if they preach differently than they believe in order to be popular or to get gain.
    So I think the weakness of their system is that if a minister loses faith or changes his doctrines, his livelihood is at stake. Not a serious weakness though, people have to change careers all the time.
    I think what priestcraft is mainly concerned with is teaching things that prevent people from progressing or with witholding truths that might be essential to their salvation. And the “to get gain or be popular” are mentioned as common reasons for such. Consider David O. McKays (?) missionary experience. He says that for a time (A week, I think) he didn’t preach about Joseph Smith because it riled people up. He was unpaid, and I doubt that he received much adulation for this move. Rather it was a desire for peace (As the world sees it) and for his ministry to be less difficult. I would consider that to be priestcraft though, because it is not disclosing information (The Restoration) that might be essential to their salvation.

  34. Mark B.
    November 17, 2005 at 6:00 pm

    My father served as a mission president twice, both times after his retirement. I have never asked him about financial arrangements–there are some things that just are none of my business.

    In both cases the church provided a home and a car. I presume that travel expenses for mission business and the wages of the household help were paid by the church. Beyond that, I suspect that there was no additional living allowance.

    But, my dad was retired, had saved well for retirement, had by then no children to support/educate, and he was rich from teaching at BYU for 35 years.

  35. Ian M. Cook
    November 17, 2005 at 6:55 pm

    This is a subject that I have thought about much in the past. I really learned a lot about differing opinions on priestcraft. I must honestly say that this discussion has changed my way of thinking.

    Priestcraft is more of an attitude really.

    I recall one time before I left on my mission, my grandmother tried to encourage me to become a Priest. I mentioned that I might have a problem with it because I was LDS. She said that it shouldn’t matter because being a priest would only be a job and I could be whatever I wanted.

    Talk about priestcraft. lol.

  36. Jason Kerr
    November 17, 2005 at 7:20 pm

    There has been a lot of speculation both in this post and others about GA and mission president salaries. Salaries are an important issue because a high salary might be indicative of priestcraft. So why doesn’t the Chuch publish salary information?

  37. Wade
    November 17, 2005 at 7:27 pm

    “I’ve always been uncomfortable with the fact that Mission Presidents and General Authorities are basically paid by the Church.”

    NFLanders: I suggest a little intropsection about your uncomfortableness – this comment seems like an unecessary attempt to undermine the primal work of the Lord. I know for a fact that my tithing funds are NOT used to pay the GAs or MPs “salaries” – but even if they were, It wouldn’t bother me in the slightest – in fact I would be honored! You’re way off the mark by suggesting general authorities practice priestcraft!

  38. Wade
    November 17, 2005 at 7:47 pm

    “So why doesn’t the Chuch publish salary information?”

    Kerr:

    Careful about certain presumptions you make in your statements – you may be held accountable for them. You too should probably introspect about your concern for the Church to publish salary information. Do you not “believe” this is God’s Church and under his direction through prophets, and that no official policy (e.g. non publication) is implemented without his direction? Indeed, whatever definition (most of which are incorrect) people here desire to give to the word “priestcraft”, it is irrelevant because God could permit “priestcraft” – but of course then it wouldn’t be “priestcraft” at all.

  39. Mike B
    November 17, 2005 at 10:48 pm

    #24 Tim J. wrote: “How many Bishops, Stake Presidents, Mission Presidents, GA’s, have puffed themselves up and abused their position? This is clearly priestcraft.”

    Interesting question. I, personally, have never noticed any of my stake presidents or bishops to be puffed up. That doesn’t necessarily mean that there weren’t others in the ward who didn’t see them that way. I didn’t.

  40. queuno
    November 17, 2005 at 11:07 pm

    When my FIL was called to be a mission president, he gave up his law practice (he was a solo practitioner). Upon his return, he had no job, no clients, decent savings, but needed to work for another 5-6 years. Who wants to hire a guy in his 60s, even if he does speak (somewhat) an exotic language? He was lucky and used his connections to find a great gig (I’m sure being a former MP and living in Utah didn’t hurt the job prospects, even though he’d the last to trumpet them). Others I know have not been.

    The Church gave my FIL money to pay for food, the mission apartment, a car. Since he was also the highest-ranking local ecclesiastical leader, he also received all the funds to support the Church in that area (their “stipend” was lumped in). More often than not, their “stipend” went to support a branch. Yes, they had a nice apartment, much nicer than what 99.9% of the citizens had. But they also had the occasional GA staying at their apartment, and often seemed embarassed by the niceness of it all.

    We had a young guy (mid-40s, one child at BYU, 6 at home) called from our ward to be an MP in Asia. He was a principal at a major consulting firm (you would have heard of them). His company tried to sue him to prevent him from leaving, and it took 2 years before he could assume the call (the Church rescinded the call with the understanding that he would be called again as soon as he was “free”). In his case, he was lucky in that upon returning from Asia with even more solid management and language skills than he possessed before (which is how his employer viewed a mission’s benefits), they welcomed him back with open arms.

    Growing up in the north midwest, we had an MP who had been a prominent surgeon from the east coast. He gave up his practice to serve. Turns out he was also the business brains behind his clinic, which started to falter, and his partners sued him. He was honorably released by the Church after 2 years to go home and clear his name.

    My point? I’d never question the sacrifices made by mission presidents, and I don’t begrudge the pittance they are given to help defray their costs. They *are* given more notice than we realize to get their affairs in order, but how many of us could drop everything to go serve for three years? For every “exotic” mission call to Asia or Europe, there’s also one to Ohio. :)

  41. Jason Kerr
    November 18, 2005 at 12:11 pm

    Wade:

    My statement does not presume anything. Its just a question. If a church authority were to have said something like “we do not publish salary information because the Lord told us not to” that would be one thing. But as far as I know no chruch authority has ever given any justification for the non-disclosure policy. I don’t think that there is any evidence that every single church policy is inspired simply because its a policy.

  42. November 18, 2005 at 12:22 pm

    Wade, you are perfectly within your rights to disagree with Jason Kerr. I do. But it is against the policies of this blog for any comment “to call into question a commenter’s personal righteousness.” Please cease doing so.

  43. jimbob
    November 18, 2005 at 12:33 pm

    Wade,

    Are you married? Because I know this girl named Prudence, and I’m going to guess she’s your kind of woman.

  44. Wade
    November 18, 2005 at 2:36 pm

    Ah, yes, again I find interesting the rush to stamp out the fire that threatens a persons security in their error.

  45. jimbob
    November 18, 2005 at 2:58 pm

    Would sanctimony be an error?

  46. Wade
    November 18, 2005 at 3:04 pm

    Most definitely…

  47. jimbob
    November 18, 2005 at 3:42 pm

    Then I’m thinking it may be time for the doctor to heal himself or, alternatively, have the pot to recognize that it is similarly black like the kettle or whatever metaphor works best for you. Or, in your parlance, perhaps it’s time you engaged yourself in one of your patented “introspections.”

  48. Wade
    November 18, 2005 at 3:57 pm

    Indeed, the point has been well made for yourself…thanks for the diagnosis!

  49. jimbob
    November 18, 2005 at 4:20 pm

    “Indeed, the point has been well made for yourself”

    Tell me you’re not using the “I am rubber, you are glue” defense Wade.

    Regardless (or as they like to say here in Texas, irregardless), I’m bowing out of this oh-so-cerebral conversation with you Wade. Whether it be my fault or yours, we don’t seem to be advancing the ball very far.

  50. Wade
    November 18, 2005 at 5:20 pm

    That is definitely one point we both agree on!

    In fact, it is typical that my comments provoke threadjacks – certain commentators refuse to realize that many of their comments infer arguments that attack the Church, and thus resort to attacking me after I suggest they question their questions.

    My whole point in calling for introspection was not to challenge anybody’s “personal righteousness” (as has been ascribed to me), rather to defend the reputation of those who can’t defend themselves by turning certain commentators to “see” and question the real reason for their remarks.

  51. Wade
    November 18, 2005 at 5:24 pm

    And for the record, it is my belief that the “rubber and glue” defense is an eternal verity.

  52. jimbob
    November 18, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    Thanks for the clarification, Wade, but I still think you’re pretty well nuts. Have you ever considered the possibility that one can believe in the gospel and of the Lord’s annoited, and still have a problem with a church policy? The church changes policy all the time, which suggests that sometimes some policies aren’t working. I believe the comment you found so objectionable so as to suggest that others were in need of serious introspection simply stated that the church could be more transparent in the stipend category. There are good arguments on both sides of that issue, Wade, but I don’t think it your provence to publicly question someone’s testimony based on the fact that they’d like to see a policy change. Indeed, I’d recommend you to Prince’s new book on President McKay, particularly the passages dealing with Sterling McMurrin, wherein President McKay was pretty clear you could disagree with the Church’s stance on a policy–apparently even outspokenly–and still be a member in good standing. (Or do you disagree with President McKay in this matter, Wade? Remember, according to your own argument, one who disagrees with the prophet on a policy needs serious introspection.)

    And Wade, “for the record,” the reason you’re getting so many personal attacks is because you level them so freely. Perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the techniques of the way you disagree.

  53. Wade
    November 18, 2005 at 7:08 pm

    Thanks for the recommended reading. However, I’ve read the book and don’t see your point. I think there is a fundamental difference between a call for introspection and, as you put it, “publicly question[ing[ someone’s testimony based on the fact that they’d like to see a policy change.” I do have to agree with you, the words I used in asking whether Kerr “believed” certain things probably went too far for the sensitivities valued here and should not have been said! I stand corrected, I should not have inquired. Yet, I stand by the call for introspection.

    I indeed stand by my argument (phrased in your words) that “one who disagrees with the prophet on a policy needs serious introspection.” Generally, I think it’s a good thing to question ones self if one finds himself questioning a Prophet – even about so called “policy”. After all, I haven’t heard too many “thus saith the Lord” statements lately – couldn’t one assume that all modern day workings are just “policy” and therefore okay to disagree with? Furthermore, it was the inference (in the context of what this thread used to be about) that the Church practices “priestcraft”, made by the suggestion that the Church reveal financial information, that I objected to!

    Also, thanks for your call to intropsection, I actually tend to agree with you: I’m not sensitive enough to the needs of those who like to “disagree with the Church’s stance on ‘policy'”. That’s why the issues are never addressed when I wonder about motives.

  54. jimbob
    November 18, 2005 at 7:41 pm

    “I indeed stand by my argument (phrased in your words) that “one who disagrees with the prophet on a policy needs serious introspection.â€?

    You dodged my Prince/McKay/McMurrin comment in this regard. It goes to the very crux of your argument. Can you address it?

    Also, and for example, I think the church’s money could be spent more effectively in other places besides BYU and would prefer that the church gave the institution to the state of Utah. But I serve faithfully in my callings, have a testimony of the veracity of the church and scriptures, and am trying to raise my family in the gospel. Am in need of one of your pancea-like introspections anyway? Are you of the opinion that increasing my testimony of the gospel would also increase my testimony that the church’s money should be spent at BYU? Under your paradigm, is there any room at all for loyal dissent as to policy in the church? Do you think President J. Reuben Clark was in error with his stated “loyal opposition” stance as a counselor to three prophets (disagreed with the policy, but fulfilled his calling anyway)?

    My point is that not even the Brethern seem to think in the absolutist terms you’re expressing. I think you’ve painted yourself into a corner, Wade, but am willing to see if you can wiggle out.

  55. Mark B.
    November 18, 2005 at 7:43 pm

    My problem with your “call for introspection” is that you took the decent noun “introspection” and back-formed a total abortion of a verb “introspect” from it. I suspect that that sort of violence to the language is not a moral failing, but we may nonetheless feel inclined to follow Prof. Higgins’s suggestion, and see you taken “out and hung,/ For the cold blooded murder of the English tongue.”

    And don’t get me started on the inability to distinguish implications from inferences.

  56. Jason Kerr
    November 18, 2005 at 7:44 pm

    Wade,

    Your comment is 53 assumes that the policy of non-disclosure of GA salaries comes from the Prophet. Do you really believe that he vets and approves every policy, procedure, practice, and teaching that comes from official Church sources? No one has that kind of time.

    Even if a particular policy comes from the Prophet, does that mean it comes from the Lord in every instance? I would guess that the Prophet, who is a very smart, educated, experienced person has a personal opinion on some matters that is just that–personal opinion. While I agree that once the Lord has spoken on an issue that should be the end of the debate, don’t we as members of the church have the right to question the personal opinions of any other member, even if he happens to be the Prophet?

  57. Wade
    November 18, 2005 at 8:30 pm

    # 54:

    I didn’t dodge your McMurrin comment, but I probably didn’t explain my position well enough. My point is, I feel pretty confident that President McKay himself would agree that one should probably be careful (i.e. be self examinant) about questioning the “policies” of the Church. Just because McMurrin was literally saved from excommunication by the hand of President McKay (because President McKay was merciful), doesn’t mean President McKay enjoyed, welcomed, or was sympathetic to McMurrin’s outbursts – in fact, he repeatedly admonished him to settle down! I also think one walks a fine line by distinguishing between policy and “official action” (or whatever you want to call it) because whether you like it or not, it took a REVELATION to extend the priesthood to every worthy male member (do you think it would take a revelation to give BYU to Utah?). Furthermore, do you think the Lord is capable of making “policy”? I think He is, think he does, and think those policies are “typically” reflected in the administrative work of the brethren. If one doesn’t agree, then I think it is likely safe to say that that person doesn’t believe the Church is “living”.

    More specifically, if a person disagrees with current “policy” it is likely that this person thinks they are more “wise” than those making the “policy”, (why else disagree). When one begins down that path, it gets very dangerous and often leads to apostasy. In fact, there are MANY splinter groups who have “a testimony of the veracity of the church and scriptures, and [are] trying to raise [their] famil[ies] in the gospel”, but who are bitterly opposed to the Church on account of various “policies” they disagree with!

  58. Wade
    November 18, 2005 at 8:35 pm

    “don’t we as members of the church have the right to question the personal opinions of any other member, even if he happens to be the Prophet?”

    I never questioned anybody’s right to do anything! But I would ask, how do you tell the difference between what you call the Prophet’s “personal opinions” and what is the will of the Lord?

  59. Wade
    November 18, 2005 at 8:38 pm

    Further thought on # 56:

    Would you call the PEF (perpetual education fund) the Prophet’s policy/opinion of a good thing, or would you classify that as the will of the Lord. Under either classification, how did you come to the enlightened position to distinguish?

  60. Jason Kerr
    November 18, 2005 at 11:19 pm

    Wade,

    In response to your question in 58–you can tell the difference between policy and doctrine because the Bretheren themselves define it. The Bretheren have long tolerated criticism of policy by even the lowliest church member like myself. Heck, they even tolerate questioning doctrine so long as the questioning is sincere and you don’t go around teaching false doctrine to anyone else.

    If one were to take your position to its logical conclusion, one could never, ever question anything that came out of a GA’s mouth because it might be doctrine. That position would have put the early saints in quite a pickle during President Young’s time when members of the first presidency and members of the twelve were telling the saints inconsistent things about who had the authority to lead after Joseph’s death.

    To get back to my original question–which you dodged by accusing me of lacking faith–why not publish GA salaries? By failing to publicize salary information the Church is opeing itself to the accusation of priestcraft, at least as defined by some on post. (By saying that the Church opens itself to the accusation that it commits priestcraft, don’t assume that I am saying the Church does in fact practice priestcraft. It doesn’t. I am only saying that the Church opens itself to that charge.)

  61. Wade
    November 19, 2005 at 1:55 am

    “you can tell the difference between policy and doctrine because the Bretheren themselves define it.”

    This is fine and dandy, but you have neither given that definition nor how to employ it in order to criticize without being heretical.

    As far as the so called “pickle” the Saints would have been in after Joseph’s death, I think it may be a slight revision of history to presume that at the time of the Prophet’s death many of the worthy members thought Rigdon would be the next Prophet. And even so, there is only one man who speaks for the whole Church and Joseph himself (that one man), on more than one occasion, specifically declared that Brigham would lead the Saints after he was gone. Thus, this proves my point because any person saying otherwise after Joseph’s death would have been, and was, an apostate!

    Lastly, what difference does it make whether the Church is “open” to the criticism that we practice priestcraft? I’ve heard and read many worse accusations against the Church and as far as I know, those accusations don’t prompt the brethren to “change policy” or pander to every silly request for information. For example, last weekend I saw an evangelist program on television accusing President Hinckley of pedophilia – Surely this disgusting, hateful, and reckless accusation has not prompted the brethren to run to his defense by “proving” he isn’t such! Some accusations are so absurd that no truth loving person would ever believe them.

  62. Wade
    November 19, 2005 at 2:03 am

    Also, an answer to my question in #59 would be helpful for me to understand your position. To further help me understand, an answer to the following would also be instructive: Was the discontinuance of polygamy a mere “change in ‘policy'”, or was that the will of the Lord through his prophet? Again, whichever you decide, I would like an explanation of how you came to your conclusion.

  63. Wade
    November 19, 2005 at 2:13 am

    AMENDMENT –

    To be more accurate, the second half of the last line in #57 should read: “but who are bitterly opposed to the BRETHREN on account of various “policiesâ€? they disagree with!”

  64. Jason Kerr
    November 19, 2005 at 2:17 am

    “This is fine and dandy, but you have neither given that definition nor how to employ it in order to criticize without being heretical.”

    Maybe I’m stupid, but I have no idea what you mean.

    “And even so, there is only one man who speaks for the whole Church and Joseph himself (that one man), on more than one occasion, specifically declared that Brigham would lead the Saints after he was gone.”

    Really? I don’t even know if President Young ever claimed that. I would love to see a citation where BY claimed that Joseph ever said Brigham would be the next president. Rigdon said the opposite. And what about those members of the Church who had never heard one way or the other from the mouth of Joseph who was supposed to lead. And are you arguing that everything that every Prophet has ever said is completely consistent with everything that every other Prophet has ever said? In order to take your argument seriously, that is what we must assume.

    The only way to resolve the problem of competing authority and inconsistent Prophetic statements is through personal revelation. Maybe the Lord has allowed these conflicts in authority and inconsistencies between GA statements to force us to rely on the Holy Ghost and recieve personal revelation to learn his will.

    “Lastly, what difference does it make whether the Church is “openâ€? to the criticism that we practice priestcraft? I’ve heard and read many worse accusations against the Church and as far as I know, those accusations don’t prompt the brethren to “change policyâ€? or pander to every silly request for information.”

    Good explanation. I don’t believe it, but this is the first time that you have attempted any answer to my question 15 posts back. Why didn’t you give it earlier? Were you more interested in insulting people than discussing issues?

    I don’t know why knowing how much GA’s make is a “silly request” for information. I donate 10%+ of my annual income to the Church, have done so my entire life, and intend to do so until I die. I would sure like to know how its being spent.

  65. Jason Kerr
    November 19, 2005 at 2:22 am

    “Was the discontinuance of polygamy a mere “change in ‘policy’â€?, or was that the will of the Lord through his prophet?”

    Clearly will of the Lord. GBH said so on Larry King Live.

  66. Jason Kerr
    November 19, 2005 at 2:26 am

    “Would you call the PEF (perpetual education fund) the Prophet’s policy/opinion of a good thing, or would you classify that as the will of the Lord.”

    I don’t know. As far as I know, neither GBH nor any other GA has said whether the Lord inspired the program or if it was all GBH’s idea. I think its a very good idea consistent with Christ’s teaching to help the poor, however.

  67. Wade
    November 19, 2005 at 3:03 am

    Interesting! I too believe the discontinuance of polygamy was the will of the Lord, but many, many people have criticized the Church/Brethren for its discontinuance and have claimed it is only “current Church policy”. The point I make with this example is that it may be very difficult for some to distinguish and usually people latch onto things they prefer and call them “doctrines”, while criticizing things they don’t agree with and calling them “policies”. This is very dangerous territory.

    It is further illustrated by your difficulty in determining whether the PEF is the will of the Lord or “policy”. According to you, the General Conference talks shouldn’t be considered scripture. There goes that idea; yet I recall many authorities claiming such (but then again we don’t really know when they’re speaking truth or opinion…?).

    As for Joseph’s prophesy concerning Brigham: it wasn’t a full day after Joseph met Brigham, that Joseph prophesied that Brigham would lead the church in the future. (See Gibons’ book on Presidents of the Church, p. 34-35). More specifcally, conference talks reference the prophecy. (See Mathias F. Cowley, April 1899). Furthermore, there are several other statements made by Joseph days before his death in which he prophesied that Brigham would lead the Saints to the Rocky Mountains etc.

  68. A Nonny Mouse
    November 19, 2005 at 3:58 am

    Wow. Talk about trolling and flame bait.

    So, to not take sides, I’ll try and diss you both…

    Jason Kerr, I found the article I mentioned above, here.

    In it, President Hinckley says this:
    “I should like to add, parenthetically for your information, that the living allowances given the General Authorities, which are very modest in comparison with executive compensation in industry and the professions, come from this business income and not from the tithing of the people.”

    So, no, folks, as of 1985, the GA “stipend” or “living allowance” did not come from your tithing funds. End of story. I imagine it hasn’t changed much since then. Of course, I could be wrong. Seems like a guiding principle, though.

    Mr. Wade –
    “And even so, there is only one man who speaks for the whole Church and Joseph himself (that one man), on more than one occasion, specifically declared that Brigham would lead the Saints after he was gone.”

    Well, yeah, but the confusion came because, on more than one occasion, he also stated that his son would take his place (I believe Brigham invited Joseph Smith III to “come take his rightful place” in Salt Lake on several occasions), and he indicated at other times that Sidney and Hyrum were possible selections to take over. There certainly was confusion, because Brigham didn’t reorganize the first presidency for a few of years after Joseph’s death. You might say that was out of respect, or you might say, it was unclear how to Brigham how the church was to be governed. At any rate, a good work to read about this is Andrew Ehat’s Master’s thesis, “Joseph Smith’s Introduction of Temple Ordinances and the 1844 Succession Question,” although I believe it’s somewhat flawed because it’s central thesis argues against a thesis proposed by a document which was later proved to be a Hoffman forgery. That dirty trickster (hopefully that’s not impugning Mark Hoffman’s personal righteousness…).

    Anyway, getting back to the topic at hand, priestcraft. Yeah… ummmm…

    Would you guys say that Grant Palmer’s book qualifies as priestcraft? Working as a CES instructor and then unloading yourself on the world based on those credentials? I dunno.
    For me personally, it’s hard to say.

  69. Curtis
    November 19, 2005 at 4:09 am

    Were the Brigham Young leading the church to Utah and othere Brigham Young leading the church in the future revelations ever proclaimed as official doctrine of the Church or accepted by the Church as official revelations?
    I think there was plenty to indicate to many in Nauvoo who was to lead the Church when Joseph was gone, but Joseph never left any officially stated in public roadmap for what to do when he was gone. He did the “time to round up your shoulders and bear off the kingdom” speech in March 1844 to the Council of the 50 and the annointed quorum, but did not speak to the whole Church on the matter.
    Joseph said a bunch of things according to different accounts, things that are scoffed at in the Church today such as the 10 tribes are on a different planet etc. I would be wary of accepting personal accounts of what Joseph supposedly said as official doctrine of the Church.
    On the subject of asking for clarification on what GA’s stipends amount to, I see no reason to fear for one’s testimony. The Lord has given us minds to think and to doubt. It is good to doubt if that doubt leads to a sincere search under the direction of the Spirit. Much of what we have known in the past has changed. Much of what we know now will change in the future. Keep your mind open and whether your thoughts be heterodox or orthodox is not important, but whether we have thoughts at all as Hugh Brown is famous for stating.
    Whether a thing a prophet states is a revelation from the Lord or not, I think it is entirely up in the air unless the person receiving the revelation states that it is from the Lord. Everything else is opinion. If Pres. Hinckley says, “thus saith the Lord” I could be convinced. Other than that, what comes from the Lord and what comes from his own opinion are pretty much up for grabs.

  70. Curtis
    November 19, 2005 at 4:14 am

    Yes, but the Ehat thesis flaw is really a small flaw that doesn’t take much away from the awesome picture he paints of what the Keys of the Kingdom actually mean in relation to the authority of the Church leadership to offer Eternal Life to it’s members.

  71. A Nonny Mouse
    November 19, 2005 at 4:20 am

    Curtis — Agreed. I’ve always kinda day-dreamed about cross-referencing one of the pieces detailing all of the Hoffman forgeries and Ehat’s thesis, because it’s so dang good, and it’d be interesting to know how many references he makes to them… just to establish for methodically that it’s a worthwhile work. But, I don’t have a personal copy of the thesis, and well, I’m embarassed to admit that I’d do such a thing.

    Good thing I use a pseudo-nym.

  72. A Nonny Mouse
    November 19, 2005 at 4:21 am

    Or, rather than establishing for methodically, maybe I’d just establish methodically…
    But, then again, maybe not.

  73. Curtis
    November 19, 2005 at 4:39 am

    I’ve got a copy. You wouldn’t happen to live in San Diego would you? You could wear a mask when I meet you at Kinko’s.

  74. Jason Kerr
    November 19, 2005 at 11:14 am

    “According to you, the General Conference talks shouldn’t be considered scripture.”

    I never said nor implied that. Some parts of conference talks are revelations, some part of conference talks are personal opinion. All conference talks are “scripture.” Scripture contains both revelation and the personal opinion of the human author as the Lord himself notes in D & C 74:5 when he states that Paul gave counsel, which in now part of 1 Corinthians 7:14, that Paul gave a “commandment, not of the Lord, but of himself.”

    “The point I make with this example is that it may be very difficult for some to distinguish and usually people latch onto things they prefer and call them “doctrinesâ€?”

    Not really. The Prophets have usually been pretty clear about what is revelation and what is merely policy. For example, regarding the polygamy issue, from the time Wilford Woodruf discussed his vision of what would happen to the Church if it didn’t abandon polygamy, to the statements of every Prophet since that the Lord revealed that polygamy should no longer be practiced, this is clearly doctrine.

    Your question about whether the PEF is revelation or a personal pet project of GBH is probably easily answerable by looking at the conference talks addressing it. I just have never looked closely at the PEF so I personally can’t answer the question. That does not mean there is not a readily available answer.

    “So, no, folks, as of 1985, the GA “stipendâ€? or “living allowanceâ€? did not come from your tithing funds. End of story.”

    I have heard this argument before, but that does not mean the Church should not disclose GA salaries. Church funds are Church funds regardless of the source. If GA salaries are paid by Church buisnesses, that means fewer revenues to buy Church buildings or for BYU and greater reliance on tithing funds for those purposes.

  75. A Nonny Mouse
    November 19, 2005 at 2:01 pm

    “I have heard this argument before, but that does not mean the Church should not disclose GA salaries. Church funds are Church funds regardless of the source. If GA salaries are paid by Church buisnesses, that means fewer revenues to buy Church buildings or for BYU and greater reliance on tithing funds for those purposes. ”

    Well… since the original discussion was about priestcraft, and the question was whether or not we were paying for salvation by supporting the general authorities, because that would seem to indicate priestcraft. Since we’re not paying for their salaries with our tithing money, then there’s no priestcraft there…

    As for church buildings or BYU or what have you… In the pre–1989 budget consolidation world each church building was built by independently raised funds that were not considered a part of tithing, from what I understand. In the post-1989 budget consolidation world, tithing funds go to pay for buildings. It seems to me that in the last 16 years the church has started using tithing funds to pay for church things more, not less. It also seems to me like a “never the twain shall meet” tipe of a thing, wherein that church business revenue is used exclusively for general authority living allowances, and therefore, if there were no allowances, they’d sell of most of the rest of the businesses…

    But, I’m just spouting random nonsense now, so…

  76. A Nonny Mouse
    November 19, 2005 at 2:04 pm

    Did I just misspell type? That’s bad….

  77. Howie
    November 20, 2005 at 11:15 pm

    I just read through all the posts.

    Man, all that Wade stuff was boring and pointless.

  78. November 21, 2005 at 7:14 pm

    In a similar type Blog I posted the following thoughts. It is not intended to be inflammatory. I hope I succeded in that goal

    “Well, I read through the Times & Seasons debate. Wade, you little brawler, it got pretty awkward there for awhile.
    Here’s my take on the subject(Which is written for reposting on the Times and Seasons discussion):

    Policy or doctrine? It doesn’t matter. I can’t think of an instance where my obedience to church “policy” would jeopardize my salvation. Take for example the perception “I’ve been faithfully paying tithing for most of my life, I’d like to see how some of that money is spent”. Why concern myself with how the church beauracracy decides to disburse the money I donated to the Lord? For all I should care, it goes into a paper shredder and the clippings are used to stuff mattresses for the MTC. Either way I’ve fulfilled my obligation to the Lord and have shown Him my willingness to sacrifice. In fact, as I consider this, it seems to me that the requirement that “my” tithing money be spent in a way that I see fit and/or judicious shows a lack of faith in the Lord’s ability to keep his church well-financed with or without me.
    Let’s suppose I decide that it’s in my best interest to differentiate between policy and doctrine. Well… good luck to me if it turns out I was wrong and the “policy” I so flippantly disregarded because of it’s conflict with my terrestrial view of reality turned out to be some crucial point of doctrine. I say, just let it all go. Why? Because it’s dangerous territory to delude ourselves into thinking that Satan won’t make every effort to magnify whatever minutely bitter feeling comes about from a policy disagreement and leverage it into a good old-fashioned apostasy. Nothing like a chink in the armor to keep Satan interested eh?
    Is the church practicing priestcraft? Who knows? I’m of the opinion that they aren’t but hey, if that is the case, let it be upon the heads of the leaders who chose to make it that way. Either way, I’m sticking with the higher commitment to avoid speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed. I don’t remember yet covenanting (in a rather sacred and holy way) to audit church monetary practices to protect the Lord from embezzlement.”

  79. November 22, 2005 at 2:06 pm

    I suspect this discussion has lost its fervor, but one more thought my wife had about the following comment:

    “Wade, you are perfectly within your rights to disagree with Jason Kerr. I do. But it is against the policies of this blog for any comment “to call into question a commenter’s personal righteousness.â€? Please cease doing so”

    My wife thought (and I echo her sentiments) that there is something irresponsible about allowing a blog entry and subsequent comments that are based entirely around calling into question the personal righteousness of church leaders who are not present to offer up a defense and then stifling those who would suggest that such a position is in itself not only destructive but is expressly forbidden by temple covenants.

    Am I wrong? Or am I just an Obediac? :)

  80. November 22, 2005 at 2:09 pm

    I would also like to claim the new record for longest run-on sentence ever. Sorry about that. Hope nobody fainted from lack of oxygen

  81. November 22, 2005 at 3:23 pm

    Ryan, how did Kaimi’s original post call into question the personal righteousness of Church leaders? I just reread it and don’t see that it in. In fact, though I’ve not reread the entirety of thread–I’ve got better things to do with my time–I don’t recall anyone in the responses calling into question the personal righteousness of Church leaders. You are right. It would be wrong to allow such comments and then to tell those who responded that we ought not to do so that they were wrong to mention it. But as far as I can tell, that hasn’t happened here.

    Kaimi posted, asking whether certain practices amount to priestcraft. That doesn’t call into question the righteousness of any leader I know of. In the responses, however, some people began to say things suggesteing that those who disagree with them were unrighteous. That is contrary to our policies, so I asked people to stop doing it.

    If I missed someone calling into question the personal righteousness of Church leaders, I apologize. We don’t intend to allow that.

  82. November 22, 2005 at 5:21 pm

    “Ryan, how did Kaimi’s original post call into question the personal righteousness of Church leaders?”

    I stand corrected, In formulating my response I had blended Kaimi’s post with some of the responses.

    “If I missed someone calling into question the personal righteousness of Church leaders, I apologize.”

    It seems to me that the following quote drove forward much of the discussion and eventually led to the call for introspection:

    “I’ve always been uncomfortable with the fact that Mission Presidents and General Authorities are basically paid by the Church.â€?

    To me, this was a pretty outspoken questioning of the personal righteousness of church leaders that was quoted several times throughout the conversation. It’s not all that dissimilar to me saying that I have always been uncomfortable with the fact that the Prophet just builds a temple whenever he feels like it. Sure the phrase in couched in non-committal words like “uncomfortable” but the intent is pretty clear. That’s all. I did enjoy the discussion though and Thank you for your follow-up comments Jim F.

  83. jimbob
    November 22, 2005 at 5:37 pm

    Again, Ryan, no one is calling the leaders unrighteous. The argument has always been that inspired and righteous leaders can make bad policy decisions. I think that even a conservative reading of our history has to allow for that fact; Wade (and apparently you) finds it heretical.

  84. Wade
    November 22, 2005 at 6:29 pm

    “inspired and righteous leaders can make bad policy decisions.”

    I think the fundamental difference between me and others commenting on this thread is simply this: I believe that policies are not necessarily “bad” just because certain members of the Church disagree with them, whereas certain commentators here think they are fundamentally wiser than Church Authorities and feel that calling into question what is referred to as “policies” is a “good” thing to do.

    The fundamental difference arises from the difference in my belief that just because “policies” change doesn’t necessarily mean prior “policies” were “bad” or wrong for the time. In other words, tithing is not a “bad” “policy” just because it will one day change when members of the Church are able to live by consecration.

  85. jimbob
    November 22, 2005 at 7:12 pm

    “[C]ertain commentators here think they are fundamentally wiser than Church Authorities and feel that calling into question what is referred to as ‘policies’ is a ‘good’ thing to do.”

    There’s not a post on this increasingly insipid thread (for which I take my share of the responsibility) that supports that contention, Wade. Cut your losses while you can.

  86. Wade
    November 22, 2005 at 7:23 pm

    jimbob:

    I think it takes quite a leap in logic to claim the following quotation (from this thread) does not support my statement that “some” think they are more wise than Church leaders.

    YOU SAID:

    “I think the church’s money could be spent more effectively in other places besides BYU and would prefer that the church gave the institution to the state of Utah. But I serve faithfully in my callings, have a testimony of the veracity of the church and scriptures, and am trying to raise my family in the gospel.”

    Your contention that the Church’s money could be spent more effectively if only they would do something YOU THINK would be better quite strongly shows you think you are more wise – at least concerning the Church’s fiscal “policy” surrounding BYU!

    Sorry, but I don’t see any “losses” to “cut” from my statement???

  87. Mathew
    November 22, 2005 at 9:14 pm

    Wade,

    The silent majority thanks you for carrying the standard on their behalf.

    jimbob, you need to ask yourself where your opinions on church policy are coming from.

  88. jimbob
    November 23, 2005 at 12:00 pm

    From the devil, no doubt.

    If they’re silent, how do you know they’re a majority?

  89. Mathew
    November 23, 2005 at 1:26 pm

    jimbob and Wade,

    I was being completely sarcastic in my comments and I shouldn’t have been because (1) I wasn’t obvious about it so what I was trying to convey was lost and (2) it isn’t very nice.

  90. Rex
    December 14, 2005 at 7:02 pm

    Re: 82 & 83: I know I’m about three weeks behind the times here, but I just found this thread and had to chime in. Although Kaimi’s original post did not impugn the righteousness of church leaders, it is important to note that the post was about “priestcraft.” So, when the subsequent commenters brought up GA’s, mission presidents, seminary teachers, and the like, in a discussion about priestcrafts, such comments do, in fact, impugn the righteousness of those people, unless, of course, you don’t consider priestcrafts to be unrighteous. Even if the comments did not say, “The church/GA’s/MP’s/etc. are guilty of priestcraft,” a comment as seemingly innocuous as, “I’ve always been uncomfortable with the fact that Mission Presidents and General Authorities are basically paid by the Church,” is different in this context than it might be in others because it was in response to a post about priestcraft. If I might use an analogy:
    A blogger posts about religious cults. He doesn’t mention any particular church or religious group by name, but in general, the tone of the post is that cults are bad. In a thread of comments that follows, someone comments, “How about the Mormons?” The question itself is innocuous, but because it is in response to a blog about cults, the implication is that the commenter thinks the Mormons are a cult, and because the tone of the post is that cults are bad, then the implication is that Mormons are bad.
    I would like to think the application of this analogy to the present thread is obvious, but just to be sure, I will state the obvious anyway: When, in response to a post about priestcraft, a commenter states that payment of GA’s and MP’s makes him uncomfortable, he clearly implies that he thinks those things are priestcraft. In turn, because the general tone of the post (and everyone’s general understanding) is that priestcraft is bad, the implication is that GA’s and MP’s are bad.

    I agree with Ryan in comment #79, and think he stated it very well: “[T]here is something irresponsible about allowing . . . comments that are based entirely around calling into question the personal righteousness of church leaders who are not present to offer up a defense and then stifling those who would suggest that such a position is in itself not only destructive but is expressly forbidden by temple covenants.”

    I have no problem with Kaimi’s original post. This is an issue that warrants reflection, especially, if not exclusively, by those who are engaged in the work of marketing LDS-based products. The thread took a turn from the original post, however, when general authorities and mission presidents, and the church’s policies surrounding them, began to be questioned. Wade may have been a bit abrasive in his approach, but I, like Ryan, find it inconsistent to call Wade on the carpet for his call for introspection when not calling others on the carpet for their implications that the church and its leaders are engaged in priestcraft.

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