36 A Mormon in the Cheap Seats: Truth or The Onion?

I thought it would be cute to put together a list of quirky news items that have bubbled to the surface recently.  It’s our “Mormon moment,” right? Then I thought it would be interesting to make up an item and see if D&S readers could spot the fake. So here it is.  Can you spot the phony (i.e. the one that belongs in the The Onion)?

On a more serious note, I don’t particularly like any of these new items (which is probably why they stuck with me, and why I ended up including them here).  For me, each of the four “real” news items, although trivial in a sense, is representative of larger issues.  Is anyone else bothered by these news stories (the real ones)? If so, why?

1) A modern-day apostle, Dallin H. Oaks, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, took time out of his schedule to dedicate the new law office of the church’s top lawyers.  The work of these lawyers, according to Oaks, is “essential to the children of God and the work of the Lord.”  Oaks also observed in his prayer that “lawyers and the legal profession have served humanity ably, responsibly, and effectively throughout our lifetimes and for many generations before us.”  The visit by Oaks reminded the lawyers in attendance that when they represent the church, they aren’t just representing another client, they are representing “Jesus Christ himself.”

2) In an interesting about-face, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently redacted a portion of a 1993 talk given by Boyd K, Packer in which he identifies gays, feminists, and intellectuals as three worrisome threats to the church.  All negative references in the text to gays and lesbians were removed.  Apparently, both feminists and intellectuals are still considered a threat, given that no changes were made to the portions of the text related to these groups. When queried about the changes, the church declined comment.

3) Apparently, God cares about zoning laws. Although it initially appeared that the local community would block the Mormon church’s attempt to build a new nine-story building at its Missionary Training Center (or MTC) in Provo, UT, a last minute “invitation” extended by the church to key individuals in the community to “sustain” church leaders appears to have turned things around.  In a tearful delivery, a church representative said that the “church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and First Presidency had carefully and prayerfully considered the issue of growth and development at the MTC and had decided that the 9-story building should be built.” It is unclear whether or not the apostles will weigh in on other zoning issues.

4) By some reports, the Corporation of the President (the legal entity behind the Mormon religion) receives more than $5 billion a year in tithing revenue. It is notoriously secretive about its finances and donates relatively little to charitable causes (it is estimated that the Mormon Church has donated approximately .7% of its income to charity over the last 25 years; In comparison, the United Methodist Church has dedicated approximately 30%). Despite calls for greater transparency, the Mormon Church recently changed the wording on its donations slips, further reducing accountability and transparency.  The wording was changed from “all donations to the Church’s missionary fund becomes the property of the Church to be used at the Church’s sole discretion in its missionary program” to “though reasonable efforts will be made globally to use donations as designated, all donations become the Church’s property and will be used at the Church’s sole discretion to further the church’s overall mission.” 

5) Despite being criticized for behaving more like a for-profit corporation than a religious institution, the Mormon Church recently invested more than a billion dollars in a high-end shopping mall. The president of the Mormon Church, Thomas S. Monson, recognized by faithful Mormons as modern-day prophet, attended the mall opening. Flanked by Utah dignitaries, he led a cheer of “One, two, three. . . let’s go shopping!” as he cut a symbolic pink ribbon. A church representative summed up the Church’s decision to invest more money in a mall than the total amount dedicated to humanitarian donations over the last 20 years by stating “Because Salt Lake City is the capital of Utah, it’s important that it is ‘dressed appropriately.’”

[Last Post: 35 A Visit to Grandin Printing Shop on E. Main]


–scroll down for the answers


1) True (link), 2) False (the talk is true, the part about the church redacting part of it, unfortunately, isn’t; link), 3) True (link, link), 4) True (link, link), and 5) True (see various links in this MCS post: link)