The LDS church has been at the focal point of several financial scandals in recent years. I am not a finance wizard, and I had to look up what “SEC” even stood for when the latest story broke (it stands for Securities and Exchange Commission, by the way), but I want to talk about the 60 Minutes piece on the church this weekend.
To do this, my first section of this blog post is going to be *my* best explanation (as a non-finance person) of what has been happening recently with the church, the government, finances and fines. If I get any details extremely wrong, feel free to correct me and I’ll fix what I’ve written. If you already know exactly what happened and just want to discuss the 60 Minutes piece, feel free to skip this whole first section.
SECTION ONE – The Financial Problems
The LDS church began to amass a lot of money in the 90s, to the tune of billions of dollars. This was helped by very careful spending and smart financial planning, so good for them on that part. (Not a problem yet.)
Unfortunately, church leaders started to worry about what would happen if the general membership found out they had so much money. If members knew the church didn’t *need* their tithing or donations anymore, maybe they would choose to keep their money instead of tithing it to the church. Unfortunately, having a very large portfolio lands a corporation on the radar of people in our country who follow large investment funds as a hobby, and word would inevitably get out soon enough that the LDS church was a multi billion dollar organization.
They came up with a plan. They split their money in half, and put it into more than one fund to avoid standing out. Two funds with a few billion each were less noticeable than one fund with ten billion dollars in it. They could fly under the radar individually in a way they couldn’t if they were combined. As the funds continued to grow (tax free, which helped them get larger much faster than a regular taxable corporation), they kept splitting it into more and more smaller accounts. They made up names for these accounts, pretended they were scattered in different locations across the country (if they were all in Utah, people would’ve started putting the pieces together), and found church employees who would pretend to be their “managers”. They tried to only use people with common names who weren’t really on social media, making them hard to pin down and identify by a sleuthing stranger. If someone was trying to snoop and figure out who Bob Smith, a new investment fund manager in Chicago who manages the “Smith Investment Fund” (I have made up all these names) was, it would be very hard to figure out. And since his fund wasn’t crazy enormous, most people would just give up and move on.
The thing is, Bob Smith wasn’t actually given any money in an investment firm office in Chicago to manage. It was just an empty fake office that had zero money management going on at all. Bob Smith didn’t even know how to work the internet well enough to sign up for Facebook, let alone trade stocks online daily for a 9 billion dollar portfolio fund. He was just some Joe Schmoe who worked for the LDS church, and every quarter they’d tell him to sign some paperwork for the government saying “Yes, I am managing all of this money and making the decisions about it and it’s mine and I definitely work in this real office in Chicago.”
In reality, “Smith Investment Fund” was just a shell company, the office space rented for it was totally empty, and if you called their phone number (like maybe to inquire about hiring them to manage your own portfolio) it would go straight to voicemail. All calls were simply deleted and ignored except for calls from the SEC, which they returned promptly as they pretended to be a busy investment firm.
This happened for TWENTY YEARS. Every time an individual fund got too big and started to get attention, they’d just open another shell company and get another low profile employee to sign that one’s paperwork (and sometimes they wouldn’t even show these managers any pages other than the final signature page, or occasionally would even just sign it and turn it in for them!). These “investment managers” were either really dishonest, or really clueless about what they were signing for their bosses. (At least two of them were neither of those things though, because they resigned their positions after being asked to sign these forms.)
Who *was* managing all the money in these 13 pretend funds? Ensign Peak, the church’s main investment firm, from Salt Lake City. They alone had full and total control over all of the billions and billions of dollars, not the thirteen fake managers that were pretending to be doing it. Why does this matter to the government? Because when one individual entity owns such a huge chunk of the stock market at once, they can cause big change and trigger instability in a way a small-time investor never could. If someone pulls their $10,000 investment out of the stock market one day without warning anybody first – no big deal. If an investment fund with $100 billion pulls everything out without warning anybody – that could have a huge impact on a segment of the market.
You can’t be a huge player in the market with tens of billions of dollars being controlled by one investment firm and not let the government know you’re there and what you’re doing. This is to protect everyone, because we don’t want a stock market crash (like what happened in 1929) to ever happen again. That’s what the paperwork was for that the church fraudulently signed for twenty years – it was paperwork to publicly disclose what money they had and how big their fund actually was. They were lying about their finances to the government (and everyone else) because they didn’t want their members to know how much money they actually had. No one could figure out how much money the church actually had, because nobody could find these funds hidden under fake names.
It seems like such a silly thing to break the law over, right? So much work and effort and strategizing went into concealing how rich they were, not because the top church leaders wanted the money to buy yachts and private jets and mansions with it – but because they didn’t want members to know their tithing was funding an enormous investment portfolio. It almost feels like they started it as a quick fix in the nineties as they decided what to do with their rapidly growing wealth, but never came up with a better plan and then just kept going with it, hoping to never get caught. They said they sought and “relied on” legal advice, almost making it sound like all of their lawyers were the ones who messed up (for two decades straight!) and told them it was totally fine to do illegal stuff. I’ve been told that no actual lawyers would ever have advised them that it was legal and reasonable to set up these shell companies and lie on forms to the government – especially not repeatedly, from every single lawyer they ever worked with for twenty years. And if they HAD been given bad legal advice, they could’ve just told the SEC that was what happened and the SEC would’ve investigated and fined the lawyers, not the church. The fact that they didn’t tell the SEC it was the lawyers’ fault, but instead dropped vague hints afterwards that it was all the lawyers’ ideas (not theirs) to the general church membership means they are throwing their paid legal staff under the bus to make themselves appear more innocent. I really hope some of these lawyers choose to come forward with their side of the story in the future. If I was a lawyer who had been advising my client (the church) not to take illegal actions for two decades and they’d been ignoring me, then they came out after getting in trouble and suggested the whole thing had been my idea, I WOULD BE SO MAD.
Anyway, during all of this a man named David Nielsen (the now famous whistleblower) came to work for Ensign Peak. He said, “I thought I was going to work for a charity and do good.” Instead he was disturbed to find the enormous fund just continued to grow and grow, never doing anything humanitarian or charitable at all (a requirement for being a tax exempt organization). The only money paid out ever had been to bail out a failing for-profit business that the church owned, and to pump huge amounts of money into a giant shopping center the church had built in downtown Salt Lake City. He became more and more distressed until he finally compiled a whistleblower report to send to the IRS to ask them to investigate the tax free status of Ensign Peak, and he resigned his position with the firm. He had no intention of taking the information public, but his brother (who had helped him compile the report) thought it was too important to keep hidden from the church members faithfully paying tithing into what was secretly just one giant investment portfolio, by then ballooning out of control. If they weren’t doing anything charitable with it or needing the money for the expenses of running the church, why were they still asking members for ten percent of their income with no transparency as to where the money was all going? David’s brother secretly leaked their report (without permission) to the Washington Post and the world found out all of the details of his whistleblowing. This prompted new investigations into church finances, including the SEC investigation that ended with a $5 million fine to the church. Other investigations are still ongoing, such as the one with the IRS. David Nielsen was thrust into the public spotlight against his wishes, and is now choosing to speak publicly for the first time.
Yes, the church does do lots of great humanitarian work (but not with any money from this fund). Yes, the church runs large universities and subsidizes the college education of many young people, including myself twenty years ago. Yes, the church has a huge missionary force and tens of thousands of congregations worldwide, top notch genealogical libraries they offer free to everyone, and expensive temples throughout the earth. All of that is true AND the church is stockpiling so much money it feels obscene. When we praise such a wealthy church for giving away $100 million dollars to a worthy cause, it’s important to realize that it’s the equivalent to someone like you or I buying a few boxes of girl scout cookies to support a local troop and saying we’re good on charity for the whole year. It’s nice…but it’s not a sacrifice and it’s not very much compared to what you make. Sometimes it’s not about how much you give away, but about how much you keep for yourself – hence the parable of the Widow’s Mite. If the church uses such a small fraction of their massive stash of wealth to help the world, is it really worthy of praise when Jesus taught that we should abandon our riches and give everything to the poor? For me, the real issue is how much money the church has secretly been hiding away, not a dumb fine from the government. Corporations bend the laws and get in trouble with the SEC all the time. But for the church that claims to be Jesus Christ’s church to be so focused on stockpiling worldly wealth seems almost absurd. Jesus taught his disciples to do the exact opposite of that.
SECTION TWO: The 60 Minutes Story
There is a Jesus I am familiar with. He sounded like this:
Consider the lilies of the field. Take no thought for purse or script. Leave your fishing nets and come follow me.
He did NOT sound like this:
Hoard away as much money as possible to save for me to use when I come back from the dead again. Accept tithes and offerings from destitute people and put it all in the stock market to grow my portfolio for when I return. Collect alms from starving children to be used in a mall to increase the investment returns on my multi-billion dollar business venture!
AS IF ANY OF THIS RESEMBLES JESUS IN ANY WAY AT ALL! True, it’s a gray area – Jesus never specifically said what percentage of your money to use to help those in need, but I suspect he expected it to be more than like, 0.1% from his church.
I watched the 60 Minutes clip as soon as it was available on YouTube, and I read both the Deseret News response and the responses of faithful church members looking for a way to claim the situation as faith promoting. Many times I saw it expressed that the whistleblower was likely motivated by greed and hopes of getting a large financial reward.
First of all, if he does get a large financial reward it will be because he was RIGHT and the church was breaking tax laws. Him getting paid reward money will not erase the fact that the church was doing something wrong.
Second of all, whistleblower David Nielsen originally left a lucrative job on Wall Street to move to Utah and work for the church for less pay. He says he did it because he thought he would be doing something good with his talents and skills – helping build the kingdom. He wanted to contribute to a charity, rather than simply making very rich people slightly more rich. He wanted to make the world a better place. He believed in the church so much that he didn’t care how much money it cost him to do the right thing – which at the time, he believed was working for the church. This does not sound to me like a self-centered, egotistical and greedy person. The 60 Minutes story literally begins by explaining that he is NOT a person motivated by money, but rather by principle. His actions speak loud and clear on the matter. He sacrificed his high paying career FOR the church. Why is no one talking about that?
David asked Ensign Peak managers why the church was setting up entities to disguise the wealth of the church and was explicitly told it was because they feared members would find it harder to pay tithing if they knew the true expanse of church wealth. If members were unable to pay rent, get out of debt or budget enough for groceries, would they decide their church (with billions upon billions of dollars) would manage just fine without their tithing contribution for a while, until they got to a more financially secure position and could pay again? That’s what church leadership was afraid would happen!
You can almost convince me that this was out of a perceived compassion for members. An individual would lose the blessings of the temple if they didn’t pay their tithing, and if they knew the size of the church’s stock portfolio they might be sorely tempted to take a break from tithing during tight financial periods – a time that one could argue members need the blessings from paying tithing the very most.
Yet isn’t a big part of tithing about having faith? And don’t we ask members to pay when paying feels difficult or even outright wrong – such as paying tithing to the church even when you literally have no money for food for your children? If we expect those living in impoverished circumstances to have enough faith to pay tithing even when it is bitterly difficult, why do we not likewise have faith in the ability of those living in more affluent regions of the world to still pay even when it’s hard to do so because of the church’s wealth? Do poor people need to be tested by the challenge of paying tithing, but rich people don’t? Do we think less of people in rich nations, and we don’t believe they are capable of the faith held by those in developing nations? What greater act of faith can someone have than to give their ten percent even while knowing that the church doesn’t need it as much as they do? In fact, I’ve heard that explanation of tithing my entire life. “The Lord doesn’t need your tithing, rather *you* need the blessings of paying it.”
If we’ve believed all this time that paying our tithing has always been about blessing us (not the church), why did the leadership not act like it by letting us know exactly how little they needed it? And since they always tell *us* to have faith, pay our tithing and then everything will work out, why can’t they follow their own counsel? We have to be willing to walk right into poverty to pay our portion to them, yet they are somehow justified in holding massive amounts of wealth just for their own feelings of security? What if a member told their bishop they were no longer paying tithing because they were saving it for their own retirement, just like the church isn’t using much of its own money to bless the poor because it’s saving it for its own future use?
There are so many aspects to this issue to address, but my main hang up is on why they didn’t trust the members to know how much money we had. It’s our money that we donated to the Lord. The idea that God, the most powerful being in the universe, needs our mortal church to collect and invest human-made money for him to use during the second coming seems almost absurd. God is GOD. God doesn’t need our money to get supplies. That would be like me asking my children to stock up on Monopoly money for me as they play games together so I can use it to buy their lunch from the fridge. Their money is meaningless to me, because I am operating on a totally different level. Our human created systems of economics should mean nothing to the being who created our entire planet.
I saw integrity in David Neilsen, but a total lack of transparency and no concern for the proper use of tithing funds from Bishop Waddell, the spokesperson from the church. I was particularly uncomfortable with his comments about City Creek Mall during his interview, when he explained, “The mall was not a bailout. The mall was an investment!” The reporter followed up, “And you are receiving returns on it?”, to which Waddel replied, “Oh yeah, absolutely. It was an investment.”
Again, the Jesus I know didn’t ask his followers to pay tithing to him in their poverty to enable him to invest in multi-billion dollar business ventures. If the church were a regular for-profit, taxable corporation and people chose to invest their money into it freely with full transparency of funds I would be totally fine with them behaving the way they are. Absolutely invest in a mall! Absolutely buy stock! Absolutely increase your assets as much as you possibly can!
But a public company would give financial returns back to the people who invested their money into it. The church not only asks for our money with zero transparency (and acknowledges now they actively covered up financial information to keep us in the dark), our returns are only promised in the life to come. That’s fine, except if we saw another church asking so much of its members without anything but a vague promise of a reward that will come only after we are dead, we’d be suspicious, right?
I was also bothered by Bishop Waddell’s repeated refusal to give any absolute information about church finances to anyone. He’d vaguely say that Beneficial Life (the for-profit insurance company that the church “bailed out”) has paid back “most” of the money borrowed to the church. How much is “most”? The bailout happened back during the financial crisis of 2008/2009. It’s been like 14 or 15 years now. If they haven’t been able to pay it all back yet, will they ever? Was it worth bailing out a company that still hasn’t recovered a decade and a half later?? (Honest questions, because I do not know what constitutes a quality bailout.)
Now that the church is in the spotlight, and entire websites have been set up to estimate the church’s wealth (like The Widow’s Mite Report, which I believe estimates the church to be currently worth about $250 to $275 billion, and growing every minute), why don’t they just come clean and make their finances available to their members? Who cares about what the rest of the world says – just open up your books to those of us who have donated the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, or even millions – so *we* can see what’s being done with our freely given money. If there is nothing to hide, why are they so adamant about hiding it? If the world is watching and has a pretty darn good guess as to what is hidden in their hand of cards already, why are they just smiling and continuing to shake their heads, saying, “Nope, nope… not going to tell you!” It feels very weird to have the church that I sacrificed and paid so much tithing to over the years treat me like a child who can’t handle knowing how much money they’ve hidden away.
Bishop Waddell says that if the church were transparent, people everywhere would be critical about how they spend their money. True, they would be. But how is that much different from people everywhere being so critical of them now about how they are hiding their money? Can’t we choose the criticism of honesty over the criticism of secrecy? Can’t we choose the criticism that comes with trusting the tithe paying members of the church with full disclosure of information that should have been there all along?
Bishop Waddell explained that the church leaders aren’t looking to give away a particular percentage of their wealth each year, but that they look at needs and make sure they have plenty to run the church and save for a possible situation where the economy declines and they need to live off of savings. This sounds responsible and reasonable for a second, until I remember that they have like, I don’t know, $150 billion MORE than they need to have responsibly saved for a rainy day. And do they really not believe that God has their backs? Do they not believe that they could spend almost all of the money in their account on helping the poor, dying and homeless people who need aid right now, and that God could regenerate any amount of money that’s needed on a moment’s notice? Again, our money means nothing to God. It is a tool that humans can use to help each other, but God does. not. need. our. money. No divine creator is going to be upset if we spend our savings account helping those in need because there’s nothing left for the planned second coming celebration.
Back to David Neilsen…
As I mentioned earlier (in section one, if you read it), he never intended his confidential complaint to the IRS to be made public. He planned to be a fully anonymous whistleblower, and no one in the general church membership (or anyone on earth) would know what the church had been doing unless the church was actually found guilty of something. He felt like what was happening was wrong, so he submitted his findings to the appropriate authorities and resigned from his job at Ensign Peak. David’s brother saw the complaint to the IRS and (like his brother) felt a twinge of conscience. How could he know exactly what the church is doing with their money and yet those who are struggling to make ends meet while paying tithing NOT know? He decided (against the wishes of his brother David) to make the information public to all tithe paying members so they could make a more informed decision by handing the information over to the Washington Post, again at great personal cost to his own relationships.
The brothers sound a lot alike to me – both willing to make great personal sacrifices in order to be honest men. The church has clung to their right to be secretive and exclusionary at all costs. Why have the Nielsen brothers been made out to be the bad guys while the church has remained the hero in most members’ minds? As David says in his interview, the church had “back office accountants, who had never bought a bond or sold a stock a day in their life… signing signatory pages for a portfolio that didn’t exist”. The church was wildly dishonest, going above and beyond reasonable measures to lie about what they had to everyone.
If I were Jesus (and I’m clearly not), and I watched 60 Minutes on Sunday, you know what I would say? I would say, “Good job, David Nielsen! I am super impressed with your honesty and know you have gone through hell and back to do what is right. And Bishop Waddell, can you please go back and tell your friends at LDS church headquarters that they need to have a lot more faith in me than they currently do? I really do not need them to save so many billions of dollars just for a rainy day fund. They didn’t even crack into the money during a global pandemic, so what would have to go so badly that they would finally use this fund for something? SPEND THE MONEY ON POOR PEOPLE. Also, do not be anxious about tomorrow, and do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. You don’t need the security blanket of so many billions of dollars. I’ll see you all in the millennium!”
Thank you so much for this important post.
The whole ordeal is so disappointing. Jesus says: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24).. so… umm… this is awkward.
Oh my goodness I love this so much. You have spoke the feelings that I have had in my heart. In my opinion, if the “church” were in a temple recommend interview, they would NOT be able to say they are honest with their dealings with their fellow men, disqualifying them from entering into their own temples.
Oh wow 😯. This is so very true!
Thank you so much for this Blog. I agree with everything you have said. It is most distressing. Who should or could make our leaders accountable? ???
Good job on the SEC summary. Now can you please go explain it to my family members who think that:
1. It was the evil lawyer’s fault
2. SEC paperwork is so complicated it happens all the time
3. SEC is a big evil government organization anyway, so it’s justified
#3 seems to be the prevailing sentiment among church members I know.
It’s easier to just accept that some people will never see why this is so terribly problematic, even if it was explained in the most perfect way 500 times to them. It’s not worth engaging with someone in that mindset. It’s just exhausting and frustrating for both of you.
But to comment on those three things:
Lawyers wouldn’t have advised them to keep an illegal top secret plot going for twenty years! There is literally a one in a billion chance that they weren’t repeatedly advised not to hold their money this way for two decades straight. Lawyers get thrown under the bus all the time to save face for their clients, and that’s what’s happening here. If it had truthfully been bad legal advice that caused this, the lawyers would have been the ones in trouble with the SEC, not the church.
All SEC paperwork is complicated to those of us who don’t work in the financial industry. This particular form is not complicated at all for those people who do. This wasn’t about a simple missed piece of paperwork. This was a deliberate and dishonest scheme that took place over two decades. If they’d missed a form one year, sure. That’s understandable. This is not a simple missed form.
People hate the SEC until it disappears and there’s no regulation and the market collapses and they lose their life savings! They aren’t a perfect organization, but they serve a very real and good purpose.
Thanks Abby. As an attorney, the “attorneys-made-us-do-it” thing bothered me. If they did, the church needs to fire the firm that gave that advice. And if they didn’t, the attorneys should really fire their client.
Part of the power dynamic is being able to hold onto information that others would prefer to be out in the open. I think that the church authorities perceive the greater way to hold onto any control/power in the situation is to keep quiet and hope it blows over. The fact that they have “kept quiet” and waited for the money to “no longer be an issue” for 20+ years and have it blow up in their faces is incidental:)
If the church authorities were to figure out how to use that money (big if – there would need to be a lot of consensus on how to do so using the 3 fold mission of the church) – they would be losing distinction and becoming more like the other service oriented churches (the Catholic church does a lot of good in a lot of different fields), other organizations (such as the Salvation Army), and indirectly the government (primarily health and human services branches).
There’s also a good chance that if they devoted serious efforts overseas – especially in Africa, they would wind up drawing conclusions similar to Melinda Gates (in her book, “The Moment of Lift), that the most sustainable way to reduce poverty is to provide opportunities for women to lead (challenges patriarchy) through owning businesses and deals with childbirth and contraception. Women’s concerns and women’s autonomy are not a thing our church does well.
Agreed. It’s all just so disappointing. For years I paid tithing confident that I was doing good in the world. And I was just supporting their big bank account. I needed that money! I needed that money to take care of my kids… we had less of everything because I paid 10% to a multi-billion dollar corporation. Shame on the church. They are the evil they teach people to avoid.
Wow, what a great essay.
This is so good. Thank you. THANK YOU.
Abby, in broad strokes, I tend to agree with what you’ve written (and I’ve written about this several times on BCC). There are a couple nits that I’d pick. First, while EPA definitely violated the securities law, even with Nielson’s strongest assertion, it wasn’t clear that it had violated the tax law. And between his and Waddell’s statements on 60 Minutes, it’s pretty clear the Nielson was wrong. (That is, originally he said that other than money to City Creek and Beneficial Life, no money left EPA. On 60 Minutes, he acknowledge that money did, in fact, go out to the church and Waddell said it happened 8 or 9 times a month.) That is a substantive difference.
It doesn’t address the questions of the church’s opacity. It doesn’t address questions of wealth. It doesn’t address questions of securities law filings (which may be the part that annoys me the most–they absolutely could have used the LLCs to file, if EPA had given investment authority to the LLCs!).
Those nits notwithstanding, I think your summary and reaction to the whole thing get at something critical, something that I hope the church is able to get through its head: there’s no upside to trying to keep its finances secret (or confidential, whatever the difference might be!).
Thanks, Sam! I’ve read your posts as well and appreciate them too. Oh my heck, I am so glad we have the internet nowadays to talk about all of this together.
About your nit picks 😄:
My understanding of those 8 or 9 transfers out of the EPA to the church each month was that they were NOT from the huge investment fund that David Nielsen was reporting to the IRS. EPA is basically the church’s own bank, and not only does it manage their huge investment fund, it also holds their regular accounts full of cash where they pull money out (8 or 9 times a month) to pay their bills.
Nielsen said on 60 Minutes that it’s like having a checking account with a bank, and also a retirement account with the same people. You pull money from your checking account every month to pay your internet bill, utilities and mortgage, but your much larger retirement account is locked up tight to grow and theoretically be used at a later date, many years down the road.
As an individual who pays taxes, it’s fine for me to put as much money as I can into my retirement account for long-term growth, while keeping enough in my checking account to pay all of my monthly bills. But if I’m a church and I’m packing my long-term investment portfolio with huge amounts of cash, it’s morally questionable to keep a tax exempt status while never using any of those huge returns in that huge account for anything charitable.
So when Bishop Waddell said, “We pull money out of EPA all the time to pay for stuff!”, he was being purposely misleading. The church is pulling money out of their smaller cash accounts constantly to pay their bills, but that’s not the giant long-term, locked up investment fund that David Nielsen reported them to the IRS over. Because EPA manages both accounts for the church, he calls them both “our EPA account”, even though they are totally different things.
Like if Synchrony Bank manages both my checking account and my retirement account, and I say, “I’m pulling money out of Synchrony Bank to pay my rent this month”, you’d probably assume I’m paying rent from my checking, not my retirement, right? But Bishop Waddell tried to make it sound like those two accounts were basically the same thing, even when they’re obviously not.
So from my perspective, I think Nielsen is still right. He claims that money isn’t ever leaving the giant investment fund at EPA, and it isn’t. Bishop Waddell was being purposely vague and letting people assume it was the account he was talking about by calling them all “EPA”.
Those are my thoughts. I look forward to reading more of yours in the future, too!
Yeah, blame the lawyers for ‘bad advice’ — they are a perfect target! Attorney/client privilege prohibits from speaking about what they did and did not advise their clients.
I think this is powerful writing and it is a fabulous message. My only suggestions (and it is a personal style thing) is to remove about 90% of the exclamation marks and totally remove all the (all cap) words. The writing is powerful enough on its own and does need them. In fact, the argument could be made that using all caps in particular, may diminish the power of this writing. Just a thought. Great and vital work here.
A great summary! Based on what is happening in this situation and the church’s help line, I think it is time for the church to retain new legal counsel. Hopefully one that advises transparency and generosity.
I saw the interview on Sunday.
Hosana, hosana, hosana. Amen, amen and amen.
It is horrifying to me how many “faithful” members do not see this as a problem. Jesus would be flipping tables right now.
Great explanation! I’ve got an MBA and I’ve studied things like this and you explained what happened better than I would.
I’m curious what you think about this in the context of D&C 101:42 to 61. This is the prophetic parable of nobleman and the olive tree and was given to explain how Zion would eventually be redeemed. It specifically says that eventually the Lord’s servants would start to ask why the Lord needed a watchtower He asked them to build and would then decide to give the Lord’s money to the “exchangers” instead. Do you think this applies to the current situation?
The only correction I have for this post is that the members of this organization believe that Jesus is currently living and not dead. Well done they good and faithful servant!
Excellent summery and questions.
I think your conclusion regarding WWJS (what would Jesus say) is too mild though. Why would we not assume he would be turning the tables over, calling us to the same challenge as Nicodemus, or calling us to repentance as was foretold in Mormon 8:35-41?
Yeah. I’m pretty sure after reading Zealot by R.Aslan, that Jesus would not be the gentle shepherd in softly calling us to stop stock-piling wealth and adorning ourselves and our temples with massive finery, while great suffering, poverty, and disparities exist. Yeah- I’m looking up at the skies right now (after watching Waddell’s responses) thinking “it’s feeling really staticky right now” (that is to say- I feel static electricity like when a lightening bolt is about to strike).