In our ongoing look at how the Mormon Church views Christianity we wanted to look at the way they think about Christian tithes and some of the comments Mormon leaders have made about the paid clergy, ministries and missionaries in the body of Christ. As you’ll see in the quotes listed at the end of this article, the Mormon’s disdain for anyone who proclaims the name of Christ is clearly seen in their disparaging remarks.
The Church talks out of both sides of its mouth by publicly denouncing how Christians handle money and what they (Mormons) do with their own tithes behind closed doors. You’d think they would stop and mentally process what they’re doing, but obviously they haven’t a care in the world.
As stated in our article for the October 2013 General Conference the financial statements for Christian churches are always made public. In these reports you’ll see a line-item account of where every penny goes from the salary for the pastor/minister and janitorial services all the way down to the electric bill. No one is left to wonder where their tithe went or what the church did with the funds. This frees the Christian from unnecessary concern as everyone is held accountable before God.
This isn’t the case at all with the Mormon Church. While they brag that its run by a lay ministry, their claim is only partly true. Those who are at the very bottom level of Mormonism do indeed volunteer their time to the Church. This includes Sunday school teachers, youth group leaders, men and women’s group leaders and bishops who are all unpaid workers.
Bishops who are similar to pastors serve as such for five years while holding a full time job in the secular world, although a revelation from Smith in 1831 shows bishops were to be compensated by the Church. Working long hours pro-bono is the same for everyone in the Church until you reach a certain level (sounds more and more like a pyramid scheme as I type this)…
Mission Presidents who are in charge of large geographical areas where Mormon missionaries serve are given a stipend because he’s had to give up his job and relocate his family to serve in that capacity for three years.
Mormon missionaries like those you see at your front door are funded through the family of that missionary and for missionaries who can’t afford to pay for a two year stint; the Church picks up the tab and pays for his/her expenses out of its general fund. So what’s the difference between the body of Christ doing this and the Mormon Church paying for their missionaries? These missionaries do their work full time and the only work they do is to share their version of the gospel.
For those who’ve climbed the success ladder in the corporation of the LDS Church a very handsome compensation package is made available. From credit cards to homes and a yearly stipend, the Church ensures their leaders are well taken care of.
You can look up the property addresses of anyone and in just a few clicks of the mouse you’ll find information from the assessor’s office and Zillow.com that the top four people in leadership roles of the Church have been well taken care of.
This however shouldn’t take away from the fact that the Church refuses to release any information about their salary or the homes they provide for those leaders. No one but those cutting the checks and working in the banks really know how much the Church leaders make because they refuse to divulge the information.
Keep in mind the average home price in Salt Lake City for 2013 was around $260,000 and by looking at all the properties owned by these four people you can see the total exceeds four million dollars. One has to wonder where the money comes from to purchase such extravagant residences.
A report by the Salt Lake Tribune on Aug. 27, 1994, p. E1, shows the president of the LDS Church lives in a “downtown condominium, the official residence of church presidents.” And just 8 years prior to that (12/8/1988) the Trib also reported the home of the president of the Church would be exempt from property taxes on his $1.2 million dollar condo on State Street. This is also interesting in light of the fact that most ministers are responsible for paying their own property taxes.
If those in the LDS Church are serving full time callings for their church then why is there such a huff about those in full time ministry work in the Christian church receiving their modest incomes?
All that aside let’s take a look at what God says because His opinion holds more weight than anyone else’s – combined!
Tithes were gathered and used in various areas of need from Old Testament times to the New Testament. We see how the Levites relied upon the other tribes to provide food and other necessities (Numbers 18:24-32) and that God allotted 48 cities for them to live in (Numbers 35:2-7). The Levites relied solely on the tithes of the people because they worked full time for the Lord and held no outside or secular jobs to sustain themselves.
In the New Testament the practice of tithing and using tithes to sustain the body of Christ was carried over from the Old Testament. There were times the Apostle Paul had to labor with his hands to earn money, but he made it very clear the body of Christ was responsible to finance the church and that included the many missionaries who went out into the field and those who watched over the local congregations.
1 Corinthians 9: 5-7, 11, 14; “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? 6 Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? 7 Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? 11 If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 14 Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.”
When he visited the church in Philippi he acknowledged their support and in so doing commended them for their great sacrifices. Remember, the Christians in Jerusalem were dealing with extreme hardship, even to the point of going without food so giving and receiving gifts was a matter of necessity and survival.
Philippians 4:15-16, 18; “Now ye Philippians know also, that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only. 16 For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.”
While many in the LDS Church claims receiving tithes from the congregation for living expenses compromises the integrity of those receiving funds, but it’s okay to pay full time workers from the funds of their business ventures, it makes us wonder what the difference is. Didn’t the money for the business investments and ventures come from tithes? How does this prevent leaders’ integrity from being compromised?
Furthermore, why doesn’t the Church reveal how much they spend on the salaries of everyone who receives money from the Church? Members of the Quorum of the Seventies (just below the apostles) each receive a yearly salary and other compensations. According to an article from the Wall Street Journal November 9, 1983 they reported members of the Seventies earned $40,000 a year plus other expenses.
Taking inflation into account that’d be $94,098 in 2013 and remember that’s for each one of them.
The next time you hear someone in the LDS Church say they’re run by a lay ministry and no one gets paid you can show them how this isn’t true. The following quotes are from their authorized leaders:
This revelation was given by Smith to the Church in February 1831 –
Doctrine and Covenants 42:71-73; “And the elders or high priests who are appointed to assist the bishop as counselors in all things, are to have their families supported out of the property which is consecrated to the bishop, for the good of the poor, and for other purposes, as before mentioned; 72 Or they are to receive a just remuneration for all their services, either a stewardship or otherwise, as may be thought best or decided by the counselors and bishop. 73 And the bishop, also, shall receive his support, or a just remuneration for all his services in the church.”
This revelation was also given by Smith to the Church in February 1831 –
Doctrine and Covenants 43:12-13; “And if ye desire the glories of the kingdom, appoint ye my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and uphold him before me by the prayer of faith. 13 And again, I say unto you, that if ye desire the mysteries of the kingdom, provide for him food and raiment, and whatsoever thing he needeth to accomplish the work wherewith I have commanded him.”
This revelation was given by Smith to the Saints as they arrived in Ohio from New York in May 1831 –
Doctrine and Covenants 51:13-14; “And again, let the bishop appoint a storehouse unto this church; and let all things both in money and in meat, which are more than is needful for the wants of this people, be kept in the hands of the bishop. 14 And let him also reserve unto himself for his own wants, and for the wants of his family, as he shall be employed in doing this business.”
The following revelation was given by Smith to the Saints in January 1832 in Amherst, Ohio –
Doctrine and Covenants 75:24; “Behold, I say unto you, that it is the duty of the church to assist in supporting the families of those, and also to support the families of those who are called and must needs be sent unto the world to proclaim the gospel unto the world.”
This revelation from Joseph Smith was given when the Church moved to Nauvoo in 1841 –
Doctrine and Covenants 124: 23, 56; “And it shall be for a house for boarding, a house that strangers may come from afar to lodge therein; therefore let it be a good house, worthy of all acceptation, that the weary traveler may find health and safety while he shall contemplate the word of the Lord; and the corner-stone I have appointed for Zion. 56 And now I say unto you, as pertaining to my boarding house which I have commanded you to build for the boarding of strangers, let it be built unto my name, and let my name be named upon it, and let my servant Joseph and his house have place therein, from generation to generation.”
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, p. 508; “Missionary support is primarily a family responsibility… However, members are also encouraged to contribute to assist those missionaries who have insufficient finances.”
Encyclopedia of Mormonism pg 510; “Because the Church has no professional clergy, it is administered at every level through lay participation and leadership, and officials other than the General Authorities contribute their time and talents without remuneration. Thus, events such as weddings, funerals, and baptisms are conducted by the lay ministry in Church-owned buildings at no charge to the member for services or facilities. Because the General Authorities are obliged to leave their regular employment for full-time Church service, they receive a modest living allowance provided from income on Church investments.” – STEPHEN D. NADAULD
Encyclopedia of Mormonism, pg 914; “The calling [to be a Mission President] is not a regular remunerative position,…The family involved gives of its time and energies without salary, though there is a modest allowance for living expenses.”
Higher Laws: Understanding the Doctrines of Christ, pg 88; “Many years ago in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I was asked to represent my church at a huge convocation of tri-state ministers…
… The Episcopalian rector asked me, “What religion do you represent?”I replied, “I’m an elder in the Mormon Church.””We don’t want you,” he retorted with a smile. I laughed, and as I took my seat I replied, “Small wonder; our Mormon missionaries are converting more than ten thousand of your parishioners in England every year.”…
… Yet another minister said the demands on the clergy are so exhausting and the remuneration so slight that young people are not interested in going into the ministry. They simply are not paid enough to justify the eighty-hour weeks their parishioners expect of them…
…”Please allow me to give a few reasons why young people are not going into the ministry today.”…
… first, because ministers today are not teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, and second, because ministers are being paid to preach the gospel.”The rector sniffed at me. “What do you mean, Mr. Hatch?” “Let me ask you a question,” I said. “How much did Christ pay his apostles and prophets to teach his gospel?” There were puzzled looks all around. Finally, someone said, “Nothing.”I replied, “Oh, he paid them all right, but not in money. They were paid in special blessings.”…
… “How many of you, if your salaries were cut off today, would be at the pulpit next Sunday?” A number of hands went up. “Two months from now?” Only two hands went up. “What about a year from now?” No hands were raised, and everyone was looking quite pensive. One of the ministers exclaimed, “But what would we do for a living?”I responded, “What did Christ’s ministers do for a living?”…
… I then quoted from memory Christ’s lucid statements in John 10:11-13: “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep…”
I used this example from Mr. Hatch’s book to show how patronizing Mormons are when talking about Christians or having conversations with them.
Is it funny his church is stealing the flock of another congregation over in England? Is this a game to see how many points will be scored at the end? If you’re a Christian then why are you trying to woo others into your church? Why aren’t you praising God that He’s at work in another country?
It’s great Mr. Hatch can recite scripture from memory, but where is the proof clergy of other churches aren’t preaching the correct doctrines of Christ? Keep in mind this man is also a U.S. Senator.
Gordon B. Hinckley
What of the Mormons?, 1947, pg 17; “What of the Mormon clergy? …There is no paid or professional ministry. Thirty-two general officers and the presidents of missions are given living allowances.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
Conference Report, October 1902, pg 11; “A few weeks ago a lady physician came to our office, …She said, ‘Will you be kind enough to have an interview with one of our ministers and tell him how he can work along these lines.’ I remarked to her that I would willingly do so, but that I was afraid he could not live to it or teach it to his congregation. Why? she asked. My answer was, ‘He requires a salary to preach the Gospel. Whenever he arises to preach to his congregation and says that which they do not like, they say that he will have to stop preaching that way or they will stop his salary.’ ‘Now,’ said I, ‘when I preach to the people, I do not care whose toes I tread on; I do not care who I strike; I teach the truth, and no matter where it hits they cannot come to me and say, ”We’ll stop your salary” because I haven’t any to stop. That is the difference between your minister and me.’ That is one great difference between the ministers of the world, who are professing to preach the Gospel unto the people, and the Elders of the Lord Jesus Christ. I would sooner be a humble Elder preaching the Gospel unto the people, bearing testimony that Jesus is the Christ and that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God, than to be the greatest ‘divine’ upon the face of the earth.” – Joseph A. McRae
George A. Smith
Journal of Discourses 11:179; “…we have been the subject of vile scandal, simply because our religious views were different from those of the hireling clergy who occupy the pulpits of Christendom. We taught that men should preach the Gospel without purse or scrip—preach it freely; and a man who depended upon a congregation for a salary by which to obtain his black coat and fit-out, was ready to denounce preaching without purse and scrip as a heresy; why? Because it would reduce him to the necessity of going to some useful calling, instead of making merchandise of the Gospel, which God has made free.” – George Albert Smith, Salt Lake City, October 8, 1865
Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg 315; “The only principle upon which they judge me is by comparing my acts with the foolish traditions of their fathers and nonsensical teachings of hireling priests, whose object and aim were to keep the people in ignorance for the sake of filthy lucre; or as the prophet says, to feed themselves, not the flock.”
Joseph Fielding Smith
Answers to Gospel Questions 3:79; “I am informed that the General Authorities of the Church are in no way paid out of the tithing of the Latter-day Saints. The tithes are used for the purposes for which they were originally intended. The compensation coming from these investments help to pay for the building of chapels, temples, and other edifices, thus lessening the burden that otherwise would be placed upon the people. When the true condition is thoroughly understood, the criticism which so frequently arises should cease.”
The investments Mr. Smith is referring to came from members of the Church who tithes monies believing they were building up the kingdom of God.
Mr. Smith went onto say;
“Unfortunately there are those who seem to take delight in offering criticism and in finding fault without knowing the true conditions…It can be said also that the officers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who labor without salaries coming out of the pockets of the members, are just as spiritually minded, have just as good judgment and wisdom in directing the temporal as well as the spiritual welfare of the people, as are any of the ministers who spend their entire time in what may be called spiritual counsel. For instance, the bishops of our wards and the presidents of our stakes and other officers give their time freely without any monetary compensation paid by members of the Church.”
Notice that no one is trained…would you seek the spiritual guidance of someone who doesn’t know the Bible and in fact denounces it?
“It is equally true that the young men and women who are distributed over the face of the earth as missionaries of the Church pay their own way, or their parents do. We do not have a paid ministry, yet these brethren put in as much time in spiritual and Church duties, as do ministers of other denominations who devote their entire time, and in addition, they are under the necessity of earning their own living by their daily employment in industry. They do this because they have an abiding testimony of the divinity of the work the Church requires of them.”
If you’re given money to pay for living expenses while you spread your gospel, you’re being paid.
Journal of Discourses 16:44-45; “How much tithing do you pay? The professing Christians, apostates and others have a great deal to say about the Saints paying tithing. Now let us compare notes. The Elders of this Church travel and preach without purse or scrip, and labor at home as Bishops, Presidents, High Counselors, and Ministers, free of charge. Now take the Christians, how many of their Ministers preach without pay? Go to their meetings, in their churches, halls, schoolhouses, or any of their public gatherings, and you have a box, a plate, or a hat put under your face, and it is, ’Give me a sixpence, give me a sixpence, give me a sixpence!’ Show me the Elder of this Church that does this? We preach the Gospel without purse or scrip and work for our own bread and butter. Yet the Christian world whine about our paying tithing. The Saints should pay the tenth of their income with glad and thankful hearts, and help to bring home the poor. We have supported and helped the poor to the amount of millions.” – Brigham Young, Salt Lake City, May 18, 1873