Buying Blessings?

A thought-provoking article was published last week on Bringing Sense To Tax Exemption: A Coming Mormon Dilemma was written by Douglas Wallace, a former Mormon who served his mission in the United Kingdom as “Mission Architect.” As Mission Architect, he was involved in the initial planning for the first Mormon temple in England.

Mr. Wallace states in his article that, in 2008, after a long period of litigation, the LDS Church lost its tax exemption for its second British temple, located in Preston, England:

“In analyzing the pertinent law, it was determined that only structures which were open to public religious services were exempt from the tax. It was ruled that since the public in general and Mormons who failed to pay tithe were denied access to the temple that it failed to meet the test of being open to public worship.”

Mr. Wallace argues that taxes should be paid on all LDS temples around the world because they are not open to the public and they don’t provide any service beneficial to the public or government.

Mr. Wallace explains,

“Temple Patrons are members of the church who have passed strict investigation as to morals, strength of church membership and the most important, being a full tithe payer to the church treasury. The tithe represents a full ten percent of gross income before any governmental taxes are deducted. A member in otherwise good standing but failing the full tithe requirement is denied a pass from the local church hierarchy to receive a Temple recommend…

“Probably less than 30% of Mormons are full tithe payers and therefore 70% are ineligible for the temple recommend. Boiled down to the lowest denominator, only members who have paid the price for the ‘Blessings’ of the temple are allowed in it…

“…each patron may return to the temple and do proxy work for each of their ancestry provided they continue to obtain the Temple Recommend each year by paying a full tithing. It is very similar to the privilege to drive a car upon the highways by purchasing an annual license.”

Mr. Wallace goes on to liken the Church’s promised rewards for temple participation to “buying a share in the Brooklyn Bridge.” Of course, he’s writing from the perspective of one who no longer believes Mormonism is true and who has come to believe it’s all a “scam”. He sees the only winner in this scenario to be the one who ends up with all the money — the LDS Church. Therefore, he proposes, “let the church at least pay back to local governments a portion of its gain from the temple scheme.”

Mr. Wallace seems pretty cynical about Mormonism, and perhaps about religion in general, but he presents some interesting ideas. What do you think about his notion that a Temple Recommend is like buying a vehicle license? Or that any supposed spiritual benefits from temple attendance are “purchased” with the patron’s cash?

One might argue that it’s not just disobedience in tithe-paying that would bar someone from the temple, but disobedience of any of the required commandments would forbid participation. This would be tragic because, according to Mormonism, the only way a person can regain the presence of Heavenly Father — the only way anyone can spend eternity in the presence of God — is by going through the temple:

“Only through the eternal ordinances provided in temples can Heavenly Father’s children return to His presence.” (Church News, 5/25/2002, 16)

“It is only through the temple that we can regain the presence of our Heavenly Father.” (Cheryl C. Lant, “The Steps to the Temple,” Ensign, August 2009, 23)

So does this mean that a person cannot be fully reconciled to God and live with Him eternally unless he gives an honest tenth of his income to the LDS Church? And also keeps the Word of Wisdom? And also attends all his Church meetings? And also sustains the current Prophet? And also lives the law of chastity? And also keeps all his covenants? etc.? Does this mean a person can only come to the Father through the Mormon temple? What do you think about that? And how does it fit with John 14:6?


Comments within the parameters of 1 Peter 3:15 are invited.


About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.
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135 Responses to Buying Blessings?

  1. Mike R says:


    Do you actually live in Salt Lake City and work
    for the LDS church PR dept.? (just kidding!)

    I love the way you constantly use words like
    “but” or “and” in talking about a saving faith
    in Jesus. An example: you said, ” Thus it is only
    faith that gets us into the temple BUT it is
    judged by our works.”
    And again, ” It is only through faith that we can
    be saved,BUT that faith will be judged by our
    You’ve learned well from your teachers.One of
    whom said this: ” None can enter into eternal
    life other than by the correct door — Jesus
    Christ AND his commandments.” [Miracle of For-
    giveness, p.6 by Spencer Kimball ].

    Ralph, the scriptures are clear, “the way” to
    eternal life is a person; “the door” to eternal
    life is a person, it’s Jesus.It is not the
    temple door.
    Your attempt to add self meriting works to faith
    economy, like mixing oil and water.

    Then you asked a question, ” What’s wrong with
    following Jesus’ commandments because we love
    Him and have faith in Him?” Answer: Nothing is
    wrong with this,but you don’t do this to earn
    eternal life! You do these things because of
    gratitude to Jesus after He’s pardoned you since
    before that they constitute “dead works”.

    The whole scenario of the LDS temple is so
    foreign to the new covenant that Jesus instit-
    uted by his death on the cross.No sacred secrets
    given, no penalties symbolized by having your
    throat slit from ear to ear if you divulge those
    secrets, no veil hung up (it was torn down by
    God 2000yrs ago) etc.

    Jesus’ words at Matt.12:6 are appropriate here:
    ” But I say unto you,that in this place is one
    greater than the Temple.”

  2. Joheshua says:

    Kevin hit the nail on the head. Well said, I couldn’t agree more.

  3. liv4jc says:

    OJ, I don’t think any church should enjoy tax-exempt status, simply for the reasons you stated above. We are the people of God and the moral message of the Bible is offensive to the world. Too many restraints are placed on the church to speak about morality or endorse a moral candidate simply for fear of losing tax-exempt status. I say pay taxes and speak the truth.

    I personally applaud Smith’s church for standing up for marriage. It’s sad that the Catholics also got more attention than the Christian churches who were doing the same thing, but when you have supposed Ev’s like Rick Warren making firm statements and then back-pedaling it doesn’t help things. Not to get into a political discussion, but it’s really not only about gay marriage, it’s about keeping standards in society or else we begin the downhill slide, which is already occurring.

    Don’t forget my Christian friends, that the hate crimes legislation was shoved into another bill and passed so all of our abilities to preach Christ may be in danger very soon.

    Also OJ, I don’t deny the good in Smith’s church. I have many friends who attend, and it seems to work for some of them. But very, very few of them are actually living the program. Its family friendly image and instant friendship culture is very attractive. The church relief society is also wonderful. But larger Christian churches have the same programs. They’re just not under the centralized controlling authority of a worldwide organization so they are not as visible.

  4. liv4jc says:

    OJ, did you ever stop to think that the reason Christian churches are not centralized is to keep corruption from creeping in? What you see as a disjointed mass of contradicting theologies is actually a large group with the same core doctrines with various non-consequental sub doctrines that separate us. Just like the way the NT was preserved from the corruption of a central controlling authority in its transmission by being copied by thousands of different people in a vast geographic area, so the church has been preserved from standardized corrupt doctrines of a centralized controlling authority, like the Roman Church and LDS org., by being allowed to interpret various non-salvation doctrines freely. This allows the membership to freely interpret the Bible and keep their leaders in check when they stray.

  5. Ward says:

    OlsenJim – I am not sure that you see us Evs cheering on the response against the Mormon church related to its support of Prop 8 as a monolithic target is correct. We ALL lose when our freedoms are curtailed. Here in California, many many Ev groups were extremely active like the Mormon church, and all of them were targeted in the same way. My dear friend has a police video cam on a pole opposite his house to monitor his family at home because of the large number of death threats he has received. I think all of us of specific faith walks, who have enjoyed the freedom to practice our faith and state our views in public discourse, have collectively shuddered at this attack on our values. This is a sad state of affairs for all of us. The Mormon church has not been singled out in California, no matter what the news channels have publicized. This also has included politicians of many sizes and stripes.

  6. Kevin says:

    “but it’s really not only about gay marriage, it’s about keeping standards in society or else we begin the downhill slide, which is already occurring.”

    Please explain to me what downhill slide has already begun, (Presumably your vision is different then the one that fear mongers have been touting over the last 3000 years)

    Are you talking about American standards?
    World standards?

    What sociality are you talking about?

    I would argue that “society”, for the most part, is far better off today, then in the last 2000 years. (Hunger, peace, freedoms, education, stability…)

  7. falcon says:

    So it’s good works that gets a Mormon into the temple…….but not the money? Is that what we are to conclude? So in order to get into the temple you have to get a morality shake-down from the Mormon bishop? He isn’t interested in your money, just your behavior, is that it? Do Mormons honestly think that someone who is an adulterer, a pornographer, and a thief will tell the bishop? What would be the point of going into the interview unless you wanted into the temple.
    When I was going to Catholic school we had our examination of conscious book that we had to go through to confession to elicit our memory of our sins. Man it was a tough “examination”. I always had something to confess; or a lot of somethings. So if I gave that little examination of conscious book to a Mormon, how many would make it into the temple? On-another-note, Joseph Smith wouldn’t make it into the temple. I doubt if the guy ever gave up 10% of what he owed and he was the champion sex sinner in town, besides the dude drank and smoked. So who’s fooling who here?
    I couldn’t today enter God’s presence without the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that if we break one of the Laws of God we’re guilty of all of them. So who do these Mormons think they are that they can waltz into a temple? There all a bunch of low down miserable sinners. I would guess that Mormonism has a pretty low standard of holiness while thinking they are quite pristine. That’s part of the lie. There just a bunch of low rent scoundrels with hearts as black as coal……………………..Mormons find the real Jesus and real forgiveness and get the solution to your sinful behavior solved.

  8. grindael says:

    I do not think everyone in the smithian church should be painted so black falcon. There are a lot of mormons who have been caught up in it, and there are a lot of good folks in it.

    Yes, I agree smith did not live up to what he preached, but I dont think all mormons should be lumped into the same catagory.

  9. Kevin says:

    Falcon must have taken his vitamins today. Feeling feisty?

  10. setfree says:

    someone I know got divorced this last year. the scoop is that the wife wanted a more-temple-worthy husband, and she had (a married) one in the ward picked out. the husband (now ex), decided maybe he would give one last go at trying to go to the temple with her. so he went in to see the bishop, and said, no I don’t believe JS was a prophet, no, I don’t believe the BofM, on down the line. When he was finished, the bishop said “I almost think I should give you a recommend. That was the most honest interview I’ve ever done”
    You’re right on this point… I doubt there is one Mormon who doesn’t lie a little bit at their worthiness interview… and if they think that they are telling the truth in there, they are lying to themselves.

  11. falcon says:

    I think you missed my point. I was really painting a picture of humanity but taking a poke at some of our Mormon men who are flying way too high on their way to their supposed exaltation as gods. I was giving them a reality check! They need to know who they are and no getting a pass to enter a Mormon temple will attest to their worthiness.
    They are not worthy of anything but hell, just like the rest of us. Any hope that they might perceive as the results of an interview with a Mormon bishop, is self-delusional. They are miserable cheats, scoundrels, liars and frauds. Rapists, murderers, robbers, gluttons and lust filled perverts. Envious malcontents and sluggards of the worst kind. Nasty, insolent, petulant snobs………and so am I.
    I agree with what the Word of God tells me about myself. Having broken one of God’s laws, I broken them all. Only someone who can see themselves in the worst possible light will acknowledge a need for a Savior and have the proper gratitude for what God did for us through His Son Jesus Christ. We are all beggars reaching out our hand to receive the reward of a prince. Not for what we have done, but as a result of accepting Christ’s perfect sacrifice for our sins.

  12. Olsen Jim says:

    I brought up the whole godless marxist vs. a mormon as president because of the recent history with Romney and his categorical rejection by the evangelical community. My question is legitimate. Mitt Romney was a very electable individual with many strengths (I am not a big fan). I spoke with many, many evangelicals during that period who said quite plainly that they would not vote for him for no other reason than the fact that he was a mormon. Many seemed more willing to accept loss to an opposition which they consider godless on many issues.

    There was a thread on this site just after the Prop 8 vote that was critical of the church and its handling of the prop.

    This thread is critical of the tax-exempt status of the church- as if it is unique among churches.

    I have said it before and repeat it that there is reason to believe that being against the LDS church is as much a part of your faith as anything else.

    Ward- I do not lump all EVs together. I am referring to those EVs who criticize the church in the contexts I am describing.

    Kevin very well demonstrates the mindset of folks that EVs end up locking arms with as they attack the LDS church on these issues; relativism and a refusal to see clear evidence of moral decline will only keep today’s society from making needed changes.

    There are some pretty clear-cut choices. And the choices our society makes will affect not only Mormons, but all people, including evangelical Christians. Kevin- my post argues that in a hypothetical (sometimes not so hypothetical) situation, EVs who are rabid LDS critics are willing to accept significant damage to their own religious standing if it means the LDS church gets hurt.

  13. Kevin says:

    Oj said, “…a refusal to see clear evidence of moral decline will only keep today’s society from making needed changes”

    Seriously, what moral decline? Who on earth do you people hang around? I was a Lutheran for the first 29 years of my life, a Mormon for the next 5, and liberated in the last year. I know people from many walks of life, and for the most part, like 99% of them, are very good people who have very good morals and ethics.

    If there is such a decline in morality, I suggest you find new friends. How is there any peace in your life?

    Society, as we are calling it, in most 1st world countries, is a self organizing – self moderating environment. As the environment has evolved, things like un-prosecuted murders, rape, and theft has gone down drastically.

    The LDS organization needs an Enemy to stay in business. When the Devil wont do (or gets boring) then it’s on poor is me we are persecuted, then you move on to the morality of social aspects.

    In contrast, the LDS org. is great at messing with people, they use mind control extensively. There is what I would determine a significat amount of emotional and physical abuse that goes unpunished.

    Yeah, As I writing this note, I can see from the Mormons perspective how morality is failing, in my opinion it is failing in the Mormons organization.

    How can a person go through life focusing on the negative? Sure “society” is not perfect, but it is better then it has ever been.

    I invite you to see the positive, eventually you will embrace love.

  14. subgenius says:

    “..Having broken one of God’s laws, I broken them all. Only someone who can see themselves in the worst possible light will acknowledge a need for a Savior and have the proper gratitude..”
    – spoken like a true Catholic, and an elitist to boot!
    The notion that someone would want to lie to get into the Temple is laughable, it defies the whole reason for the Temple. That would be tantamount to lying in the confession booth or stealing bread for communion – typical Ev nonsense.

  15. falcon says:

    It would seem that our Mormon friends cannot bring themselves to see who they are (as Christians see themselves) in God’s eyes before redemption. It appears that Mormons see themselves as a little sick in their sins (maybe) but not totally dead, as is the case. Getting a temple recommend and 75 cents will get you a cup of coffee in my world. Temple worthy? Give me a break! Buy your way into the Celestial Kingdom with 10% of your income and playing dress-up in the temple and doing Masonic rituals? Well that’s Mormonism and that’s why it’s not Christianity.
    The first thing Mormons need to do is understand who God is. He isn’t some guy that got on a self-improvement fast track and became a god. The next thing they need to understand is that they are totally lost in their sins and no amount of “doing” will make up for one venial or mortal sin (little Catholic lingo from my so distant past).
    In my day, Catholics worked to earn indulgences by which they could shorten their stay in purgatory. A place of course, where you burned-off what remained (some sort of sin residue) after you received forgiveness of your sins (by going to confession and doing your penance and of course saying a sincere act of contrition which I can no longer remember. Probably a psychological block).
    So I know about doing and rituals and incense burning and holy water and, did I mention “doing”. So I know the treadmill of religion. Ah but now I know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the continued cleansing of His precious blood. Though my sins are as scarlet yet he makes me white as snow.
    Mormons need to get real…..real fast. Joseph Smith created a religion whereby the system rules and enslaves people to a form of religion that has no spirit but is permeated by the flesh of men who are trying to glorify themselves and in the process losing their souls. Dead works that lead to a dead end.

  16. gpark says:


    I’d like to recommend a book to you called THE CASE FOR CHRIST by Lee Strobel. He was an unbeliever who worked as an investigative reporter on criminal cases. Mr. Strobel had a law background. His wife got saved, and he expected her personality and relationship with him to suffer, but he was amazed that she changed for the better. Mr. Strobel began to wonder if Christ was real, not just as a figure in history but as a still living, life-changing Person. Strobel decided to interview persons in the fields of medicine, history, archaeology, science, philosophy, etc. regarding Jesus Christ and the Biblical accounts of His life and death. Mr. Strobel became a Christian. Two other very good books are EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDS A VERDICT and MORE EVIDENCE THAT DEMANDA A VERDICT by Josh McDowell.

  17. For my church, I’m preparing a short course on the History of the Bible, based on Harry Wendt’s “See Through the Scriptures” (his course is designed for a year, and I’ve got to compress it into four weeks).

    Part 2 of 4 covers the period from the Conquest (Joshua et al) to the Exile (to Babylon, 582(?) BC).

    I was trying to think of some suggested topical questions, and I came up with this;

    “If the possession of God’s Holy Law, a functional Temple and the active presence of the prophets was not enough to sustain God’s people in relationship with Him, what can?”

    If these things could have sustained the “shalom” between the people, God and the land, then the exile would not have happened.

    Kevin and OJ have been discussing perceptions of moral decline. I’d agree with Kevin that humanity is profoundly the same as its ever been, and conditions at the close of the 20th Century were much better than they were at its start. I’m not entirely optimistic that things will stay this good; maybe the pendulum will swing back again.

    To the Biblical authors, though, and especially the NT crowd, it was self-evident from Israel’s corporate experience of the exile that having a functional system of religion/Temple/Law was not enough to enter into, and sustain the relationship with God. This is why, I think, they started to look for a “new” type of covenant; one which would change the heart (Jer 31:33).

    The Christian Gospel says that Jesus acheived this, by sending the Holy Ghost, whom could only come following Christ’s finished work on the Cross (John 14:16 etc).

    So, Jesus has initiated and implemented this “New Covenant”. What we need to do is believe it and live in it.

    Again, I say that the Mormon Temple has absolutely no role to play in this. It is utterly redundant and useless. It is as ineffective in sustaining relationship with God as the First Jerusalem Temple was at preventing Judah from falling into sin and being exiled to Bablyon for it

  18. liv4jc says:

    Sub, “The notion that someone would want to lie to get into the Temple is laughable, it defies the whole reason for the Temple. That would be tantamount to lying in the confession booth or stealing bread for communion”

    I’ll give you the reasons: prestige, status, pride, contempt for others who are “less active” and “less worthy”. You pretend that those of us who post here don’t know any smithians. Did you read my post above about my friends who are addicted to prescription drugs? I work around this guy all the time. There is no way that he is “temple worthy”, but because of his position at work he is upheld almost as a shoe-in for exaltation at the ward. He must have done some great stuff in the pre-existence. His kids are all so white and delightsome (but they wake up every morning, dress themselves in yesterday’s clothes, and head off to school while mom and dad are in Ambien induced comas upstairs). Everyone knows him, and he knows everyone. They are the golden family, but from the outside it is easy to see their perfect smithian world crumbling and the pewter under the gold plating is beginning to show. There is no way that he would ever admit his problems and lose his “status”, especially at the ward. If there is one, then there are many, many others. They all smile as they drop their kids off at school in their Stepford Wives Xanax world. Not one of you is temple worthy my friend.

    Falcon is right, we are all sinners and fall short of God’s glory.

  19. falcon says:

    The question is often asked, “If you were to die today and were standing before Jesus and He asked you, ‘Why should I let you into my heaven?’ what would you say.” Here’s a news break for our Mormon friends, hauling out your temple recommend won’t get it done for you! Nor will listing all the times you went to the temple and did your Masonic rituals. Nor will enumerating your giving. No, the one right answer would be, “Lord because of what You did for me.” That’s it! That’s what qualifies someone for heaven; having received God’s perfect sacrifice that He requires and did for us.
    Our behavior subsequent to our conversion is the outer witness of what we have received in faith, but our behavior doesn’t save us. Our faith does! Can anyone really say that what they can do, would match Jesus’ atoning work on the Cross. His suffering points out the magnitude of our sin debt. When Jesus died He said “It is finished.” In the Greek it’s an accounting term that means the debt is paid. Only Jesus was qualified to pay the price. He’s the only one that had sufficient enough funds to cover that debt.
    Anyone showing-up with a temple recommend or a list of their good deeds will be ashamed and embarrassed as these things are offered for Christ to take into His nail scarred hands.
    There is no way to the Father accept through Jesus. This is the real Jesus, not a counterfeit. I would say to our Mormon friends, find the real Jesus and in finding Him, find eternal life.

  20. subgenius says:

    “No, the one right answer would be, “Lord because of what You did for me.” That’s it!”

    Revelation 20:12

    there is a gate and a path

    not sure why the Ev insists that Mormons do not know about the gate, why the Ev insists that we do not acknowledge the Savior, i mean geez, He is the name of our church.
    Does anyone actually believe the Ev ramblings that we somehow do not accept the Christ?

    read our articles of Faith # 1,3,4 and 10.
    these are clear exclamations that we believe in Christ, believe in the Atonement, believe it is necessary to have Faith in Jesus, believe that Christ will “reign personally” on earth.

    of course these statements do not provide inflammatory ego-boosts to some Ev who crave them more than they crave the Word.

    And yes, the Ev criticizes us without understanding…all the posts where i have inferred a negative notion of “Paulines” has gone without one Pauline (or even an ex-mormon) realizing, and pointing out, that our church believes in following the “admonition of Paul” (see article of Faith # 13)an easier bait has never been laid – again the Ev has revealed their “natural” state.

    you perpetuate assumptions and suppositions…how can you categorically claim to know why someone would “lie” to get in the temple, for you have no real proof that anyone does….you impose your own prejudices on somehting you fail to understand. Your theory is weak and anecdotal at best. (the exception is not the rule)

  21. falcon says:

    A good question to ask might be, “Why is participation in the ‘you can become a god too’ program” so low in the Mormon population. We’re told that two-thirds of those on the rolls of the LDS church are inactive. So how many of the remaining 33% have bought into the program? I suppose someone might conclude that the rather low participation levels has to do with the lack of availability of temples where all the super secret Masonic rituals are performed is a factor. Perhaps, or maybe folks just aren’t interested or that into Mormonism.
    None-the-less you’d think that becoming a god would be a very attractive feature of the Mormon program. Then again, we might conclude that there are people that really don’t buy the idea that they’re going to become gods. I read a recent correspondence by a young man (who had been raised Mormon) that even as a kid he didn’t buy the Mormon concept regarding the nature of god.
    I imagine there’s a lot of reasons why so many Mormons don’t jump into the program whole hog. Maybe some folks are just more resistant to group pressure than others.
    People hang around Mormonism, it seems, for a variety of reasons including familial, occupational and cultural. They just float around the edges of the system.
    I remember decades ago I found myself out in Utah at a gathering of people and there was a guy there drinking, smoking and being “loud”. I don’t drink or smoke but have been known to be “loud”. Anyway, I just about dropped my eyeteeth when the guy said something about his son just returning from a mission for the church. I wasn’t all that familiar with Mormonism at the time but it seemed that I had run into what I’ve come to know is a “jack-Mormon”. I have no clue if this guy held a temple recommend but honestly, I wouldn’t doubt that did.
    “Temple worthy” seems to be an exclusive club that many Mormons simply aren’t interested in joining though.

  22. Mike R says:


    What is the gate and path?

  23. Joheshua says:

    Sub, I’ll give you a perfect example of someone lying to get into the Temple and the reason a lot of people in the morg do it. I have a brother who is very inactive, does not even attempt to obey the word of wisdom, has never paid tithing in his life, does not wear his garments, and goes to church about once a year. He is married to a girl that comes from a harcore mormon family and my brother constantly feels pressure from her family to be a “good mormon”. Well, his sister-in-laws wedding was coming up and if he did not attend the Temple ceremony it was not going to be good for him and his wife. Her family would have been very upset and embarassed because it would have relfected poorly on them. So what did my brother do?

  24. Joheshua says:

    He decided to go to the local ward house for a few weekends in a row and claimed that he had recently moved into the ward. Then he asked for an interview with the bishop. His exact words to me prior to going to the interview, after I asked how in the world he was going to pull it off, were, “I’m just going to keep it all on the surface.” He went in there and lied through his teeth, so did his wife. Then on to the Stake President. Same thing. Low and behold he was given a recommend, attended the wedding and celebrated the hole fiasco buy “smoking a bowl.”
    The reason Mormons lie to get in to the temple is to save face in their neighborhoods, in their families, at the jobs, etc. The pressure to be an upstanding mormon is overwhelming and it’s easier to lie than to actually do the work required to be considered worthy.

  25. Olsen Jim says:

    Kevin- You are free to think society is no different today than 100 years ago. I would agree that man’s nature has not changed. And the standard of living has improved dramatically. But the moral condition of our culture and the family is hardly unchanged. We will have to agree to disagree on the moral decline thing- such was not the point of my posts. (you seem to subscribe to what is usually the unrecognized assumption that society is inherently self-sustaining. In other words, we can do pretty much do whatever we want with no resulting threat to society- it will remain stable regardless).

    Again- Kevin is proving my point to some degree. Are EVs here willing to embrace what Kevin is arguing? Should gays be given rights to marry someone of the same gender? Has there really been no change in our moral environment? Is there any danger in loosening sexual mores? Are you willing to side with Kevin just because he has negative things to say about the church?

    My argument is that EVs who stridently criticize the LDS church are willing to accept defeat on other religious grounds as long as the LDS church appears to suffer in the process. In other words, standing up for your own core religious values is less important than attempting to undermine the LDS church.

    Not talking about ALL EVs- but those who spend their energies attacking The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

  26. Kevin says:

    OJ, I stand by by previous posts.

    I never said, “…we can do pretty much do whatever we want with no resulting threat to society- it will remain stable regardless” There are always a result from our decision, some good and some bad. We learn from the mistakes and move forward.

    Your “church” is a great example, Mormons once practiced polygamy, it was not socially acceptable, so the Government by proxy of the people forced a change. This is a perfect example of self moderating.

    As far as a moral decline, well, it only exists in the LDs organization as a fear tactic to control the members.

    This is why I have come to appreciate the church that I grew up in (Not saying the are all the same). They talked about Christ, his love, what it means to be good and how being good brings happiness into your life. We are all intelligent people who are doing the best to raise our children, threats and instilling fear are not a productive environment to live in. Lets face it, if someone is going to do something bad, there is nothing you, I, or a church can do to stop it.

    OJ said, “I would agree that man’s nature has not changed” To some degree I would agree with this. The Catholic Church for ages has instilled fear in people about the decline of Moral’s and social structure. The LDS church is the same Fear Mongering church as the Catholic church was. (Although I would say the Catholic church has changed a lot in the past 100 years, for the better)

    I hope everyone recognizes what OJ is trying to do when he asks, “Are EVs here willing to embrace what Kevin is arguing?” and “Are you willing to side with Kevin just because he has negative things to say about the church?” OJ is taking the extreme of the two sides and trying to get people to divide in the argument. In reality, there is not a strict division.

  27. falcon says:

    It seems that every so often we have to recycle through the “attack” topic no matter what we are discussing. First of all, is an “attack” anything that makes me feel uncomfortable or sad? Is an “attack” content specific or is it the “manner” with which the content is delivered? If I make a point with energy, enthusiasm and conviction, is that an attack?
    We have to look at the interpersonal dynamics here also. What I mean is; if I can claim I’m being attacked, then I get to also claim victim status. In the early 70s there was a popular book titled “The Games People Play”. The premise of the book is that people have predictable ways of behavior habitually which the author identified as “games”. This is as opposed to honest communication. The author said that people collected “stamps” which they put in their “stamp book” and eventually could redeem the book for a premium. The premium could be a favorite feeling state like, for example, a complete melt-down with a “you did this to me” claim.
    I’ve got to see if I’ve still got the book. One of the games was “kick-me” in which the “victim” actually would elicit “kick-me” behavior from people so they could mope and feel set-upon. Another game was “poor me”.
    Do Mormons come on MC looking to get kicked? I don’t know, but I do know they do their share of kicking but don’t see it as evangelical bashing.

  28. Kevin says:

    OJ, you have caused me to think about social order in regards to religion and its impact on society more deeply, I appreciate your challenging comments.

    Here is a question I has developed in my mind from this conversation,.

    Does a person need religion to be a Good person?

    I always though religion was in place to teach us how to have a better relationship with God; to create community with bonds of friendship that tie us together. Maybe I am living in my own la-la land, I don’t know. I have seen the dark side of people; I have seen firsthand the destruction that humans can bring down upon one another, and I have had a part in fixing those messes. By teaching that someone is different and that difference is not good, creates fear. Fear leads to anger, and anger leads to pain. As an outlet for that pain people compromise their integrity which can lead to harmful actions. (Fear led to the Mountain meadow massacre) So why on earth would any organization teach social intolerance?

    My questions and comments are not rhetorical. Today, the thing that scares me the most is organized religion.

    I feel like I have a very good relationship with Christ, I study the bible (recently I joined a Friday morning study group, Thank you Ward. I have many close friends, 410 according to Facebook . I don’t have an organized religion in my life at this moment; does that mean I am going to “become” a bad person?

    (I am dropping the discussion on Gay people because I think it is going to fuel a much larger battle and I don’t think it will be productive to the discussion)

  29. falcon says:

    Would I personally side with someone on an issue because of their religious identity label (if it was the same as my label)? No. I like to think that I have some amount of integrity, personal convictions and independence of thought. How someone views same gender sex or marriage is not all that crucial to me up to a point.
    I had a long “lecture” that I delivered last semester in a college course I taught regarding this general topic. I had the students develop visual models of some sort, depicting what our response to various issues could be and what effect our attitudes would have in the work place. So some of the students drew a continuum model going from “rejection” to “celebration” with various increments identified along the line.
    The point was, do I have to celebrate your “deal” or can I be merely ambivalent towards it. We covered all the social issues plus religious ones. I gave an example of having been in a certain cultural environment different from mine and a certain religious observance occurred while I was there that was clearly animist in nature. I was slightly uncomfortable and when offered participation smiled and said “No thank you.” The folks were cool with that. I was tolerant because it was their setting and culture.
    So, no, I don’t personally think I have to side with an evangelical Christian if I have a different point of view. It’s really kind of immature to do so I think.

  30. DefenderOfTheFaith says:

    Joining in late for this one.

    I actually think this article is somewhat inaccurate. Not only is tithing required but, EVERYTHING “with which the Lord has blessed you….time, talents, possesions, etc.”

    Maybe this author should review his covenants and perhaps he could then convince the state that they have claim on every Mormon’s very life, not just tithing-related issues (I’m thinking of the Egyptians pharoahs here).

    This is nothing new and we find ourselves in the company of the ancient prophet. It is our legacy….(God’s true people) will ultimately face the same fate that all Saints have…that we are guilty of treason, trespassers, enemies of the state or whoever is in power. Why? Because our King is not of this world and so the accusation is valid.

  31. Olsen Jim says:

    Kevin- I will use the example of Book of Mormon criticisms to demonstrate my point.

    There have been many criticisms of the Book of Mormon- many theories to explain its origin. I find it interesting that most people I interact with or whom I read that seek to discredit the BOM are quite comfortable accepting almost any criticism on the BOM. It does not seem to matter that most if not all of the theories contradict each other. In the mind of the critic, all the theories seem to have merit and are lumped together as “proof” that the BOM is false. It is intellectually very lazy.

    Similarly, anything that seeks to discredit or weaken the LDS church is embraced by the strident religious critics to whom I refer. It really seems to me that such zealots don’t mind their own religion suffering as long as they perceive damage is done to the LDS organization. The old saying that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” comes to my mind.

    That is my main contention. The whole gay issue, tithing, etc. are simply examples I alluded to in demonstrating my point. Taking down the LDS church is at least as important as actually practicing their own religion. In fact, it is inherent in such practice.

  32. liv4jc says:

    Sub, living in a heavily smithian populated area (I can probably throw a rock and hit 3 stakehouses) I have become good at picking out TWM’s by their garments. Being a student of your religion I carefully observe the interaction between TWM’s and those who are just in such and such a ward. This is the common bond in your society. What ward does so and so attend and are they “active”, “not very active”, or “inactive”. Although I see friendliness toward the “not very actives” their worthiness as friends is always qualified by the level of their activity in the ward, and I’m sure their temple worthiness plays an even greater role in judgment. TWM’s don’t invite the less worthy to their gatherings. I know this because as an outsider I often get invited to attend social gatherings and the less actives are not invited. In fact, it has been assumed by many that my wife and I are smithians by non-smithians until we dispel that rumor. They wonder how we have become part of the inner circle. How we have come to rub shoulders with members of the Mormon Mafia. It is because we are good people and religious in the eyes of the TBM’s, but we are missing one component: allegiance to the one true church. Our allegiance to Christ, which we make no bones about, is great, but not good enough. We need to believe in Smith and his restored church to be truly “worthy”. My smithian friend commented one time when I was discussing how much work I was doing while preparing to teach a study on Matthew that I was going to be “translated” any day. My religiousity scores a lot of points among your community. It scores even more points than those who have fallen into your organization, but are not temple worthy.

    Can you explain this to me? I’d really like to know.

  33. falcon says:

    Joseph Smith had two clear paths laid out for him to follow as he grew to maturity. He had the Spirit of God as presented by the revivalist movement of his time and location and he also had the world of magic and the occult. Both paths presented a “spirit”. For a while he was able to live in both worlds but at a certain point he had a clear choice to make. He chose the spirit of darkness. At first he blended enough Christianity to make his religious project not that much different from the mainstream norm. But after a certain point both could not coexist.
    The spirit he choose led him further into the world of the occult and his evolving system of beliefs led him to reject God, the Biblical Jesus, and God’s eternal plan of salvation. Like some other religious sects, he dabbled with the social order and was led into gross sexual misconduct.
    When his sins were exposed and his rejection of God realized, many left his religion. In subsequent years, following his death, other Mormon sects evolved that attempted to set straight the crooked path Smith had chosen.
    The SLC LDS sect continued Smith’s deviance and what is left today is a religious system that seeks to convince men that through their own efforts they can become gods. They are quite clever in this, careful to say that they don’t want to “replace” god, just become gods.
    This false system isn’t going to make anyone a god. Instead it will lead it’s adherents to an eternity separated from the One and only living God. Holding a temple recommend won’t do anything for anyone in securing eternal life.

  34. Kevin says:

    OJ, I agree with you to some degree regarding your example using the BOM. I have read some trumped up off the wall accusation. I don’t know that they contradict each other, but thats neither here nor there.

    What I do know, is that most of the explanations provided by the LDS organization, apologist, and lay members about legitimate issues regarding the BOM and very far fetch, especially the historical, tangible evidence issues with the BOM (e.g. Horses, elephants, coins, and swords) Of course I am not looking for a regeneration regarding these issues. Can you at least recognize that some of the explanations are hard to swallow, even for a rock solid member. I know it will not change your “testimony”, but can you at least admit to the lack of hard facts to support the claim of the BOM?

    I think Mormons on this blog also contribute to a us vs. them attitude. Because the formate and content of this blog is conducive to a confrontational quorum. Mormons are complied to redefine or reinterpret issues. I can appreciate your efforts in defending something you hold dear even though I think you are misguided.

    What I cannot appreciate is the outlandish explanations, to some, it is insulting and down right dishonest.

    I hope you understand that my issues with Mormonism does not stem from biblical or doctrinal issues completely; although I do disagree with the LDS concept of God, Temples, and Polygamy. My issue is with the mental and physical abuse that is incubated by the very structure and teachings that are rooted in LDS mythology.

    BTW is case you missed it, I’ll restate. I find it disheartening to hear people make claims about social decline, moral issues, and broad stereotypes without even looking at all the good that has come in the last 100 – 200 or even 1000 years. Yes I do think it is a sustainable model, created by God. Did not God create the earth and all it inhabitants? Can we not believe that God created social order and structure?

  35. liv4jc says:

    Whenever I enter into a discussion about the temple with Christians or even non-Christians who ask me what the temple is about the subject of worthiness comes up. Inevitably it leads to a discussion on James 2:1-9. There is no doubt in my mind that garment wearing smithians sit in judgment over those who do not wear the garments. I have watched the countenance of garmentless smithians change to meekness while they are in the company of garment wearers. I know of a couple who wanted to get married, but both of them could hardly afford to pay their bills, so tithing was out of the question. The fiance’ also had to work on Sundays to get enough hours to make ends meet. They were deemed to be unworthy to attend the temple simply due to financial status, even though they had both attended the temple in the past. No temple marriage = no marriage at all. The relationship has fallen apart, mostly due to this issue, and the wedding is off.

    As Christians are we to judge someone based upon their financial worthiness? Smithians are fond of James. So what does he say on the issue?

    For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? (James 2:2-4)

    Also Leviticus 19:15 You shall do no injutice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor.

  36. setfree says:

    My father hadn’t been a tithe payer for a few years, when my brother got married.
    He had to “get squared away” (meaning pay up what he “owed” since he’d quit paying) so that he could go to the wedding.

  37. Olsen Jim says:


    I did not intend to divert the topic to the BOM, but will certainly answer your question as briefly as I can.

    I think many people, both within the church and those who criticize the BOM, don’t even understand the issues. They simply believe what they have read, be it pro or con, because that is what they prefer to believe.

    Combine that with a completely unrealistic expectation when it comes to “evidence” and “proof” and you get next to zero understanding of what is “real.” The vast majority of people do not understand what consitutes a reasonable burden of proof.

    People think archeology is straight forward and simple- go dig up dirt and find skulls and rocks with dates on them. We have people on both sides with no clue on the matter and who have nothing to compare any of it to.

    I agree that there have been explanations provided by some LDS that were not even close. But I also find that next to none of the critics have pursued the different issues to their end. They make conclusions prematurely because their bias compels them to be satisfied way too early. In this way, I am convinced that 99.9% of critics don’t even understand what I think are the best arguments for the BOM. (The majority have not even read the BOM in full).

    The moral decline issue is very interesting. I gotto go.. will reply more on that issue later.

  38. setfree says:

    wow, OJ, great arguments for the Bible. oh, wait, you weren’t talking about the Bible. The Bible is unreliable as a witness for God/Jesus. I forgot

  39. Kevin says:

    OJ, “The vast majority of people do not understand what consitutes a reasonable burden of proof” Right, and in this case LDS claim the authenticity of the BOM, so the burden of proof is on Mormons to convince people that it is true. This is why you have missionaries knocking on doors. The side effect is some people, err, most people reject the claim based a number of different reasons, to many to number, just pick the latest argument.

    “They make conclusions prematurely because their bias compels them to be satisfied way too early. In this way, I am convinced that 99.9% of critics don’t even understand what I think are the best arguments for the BOM” I think your position is really common among Mormons. So why is that? This is a perfect example of mind control,” MILIEU CONTROL, Control of communication within the group environment resulting in significant degree of isolation from the surrounding society. When non-members are labeled as ignorant, unspiritual, satanic, etc., group members conclude that outsiders have nothing worthwhile to teach them. Thus members are unlikely to look outside the group for information, especially spiritual information.” (Lifton) You proved Lifton’s point, perfect.

    I may come across as a Mormon bashing ignorant donkey at times, but know this, I know the arguments, I have followed them to the end, I have sought after and studied the arguments; and I only used Church approved literature to do my research, it was not only until after I left that I looked at outside sources (I have read and reread the BOM, I have read and listen to G.C. I ran the laps). I did this with the intent to prove the BOM was true.

    I think Mormons all too often hastily dismiss the critics, some of use, me included, may not be as articulate as others, but that does not mean our view, experiences, and contributions should be shoved into your 99.9%

  40. subgenius says:

    “My religiousity scores a lot of points among your community. It scores even more points than those who have fallen into your organization, but are not temple worthy.

    Can you explain this to me? I’d really like to know.”

    what you describe is behavior which is not exclusive to Mormons. I can tell you that what you describe does not occur at my ward/stake…which begs the question, which of our experiences is a reflection of the true LDS church?
    Answer a question in return, does anyone in your Ev circle(s) ever ostracize others for whatever ‘church’ reason? apparently gossip knows no denomination.

    you are mistaken about the practice of polygamy being changed because of “social acceptance”, i believe it was more an issue of “legal acceptance” that influenced the church’s position.
    Also, your question about needing religion to be “Good” is interesting bt is only a start…Nietzsche once wrote about that which is “beyond good and evil” and it was simply put that is “love”.

    the gate and path
    refer to Matthew 7:13

  41. DefenderOfTheFaith says:

    Just to correct something that setfree claimed…His father would not have to “pay up what he owed” to attend the temple. In fact, the policy is to “pay an honest tithe”. There are no background checks. It is all by your word. “Are you a full-tithe payer?” is the question. If the answer is yes. End of story.

    Quit portraying an image that is simply a lie!

  42. Mike R says:


    The gate and path. You referenced Matt.7:13.
    I’m sure you’ll explain this verse. I’m going
    to guess that either the Mormon Temple or
    Jesus is the gate and the Mormon gospel is
    the path. What say you?

  43. subgenius says:

    Jesus could easily be construed as the gate and the path is beyond the Gate and leads to Our Heavenly Father.
    That say I.

    Many fail to realize that the interview for a Temple recommend consists of several questions, all of which relate to one’s personal testimony of our Savior, His Gospel, and a few tenets of LDS doctrine. It occurs in private (spouse’s interview is even seperate). It is completely honor based. As i said before the “oral testimony” is a common religious feature.
    The Ev fails to realize this subtle aspect of Faith, primarily because some churches have homogenized their organizations that the original intent was lost long ago.

  44. Kevin says:

    Subs said, “Kevin
    you are mistaken about the practice of polygamy being changed because of “social acceptance”, I believe it was more an issue of “legal acceptance” that influenced the church’s position.”

    Just so we can all follow the progression clearly.

    First there is a social issue, people did not like polygamy.

    Then the legal issues addresses the social issues.

    The only thing I am mistaken about is, I figured everyone could see that the legal issue is just a vehicle to address the social acceptance or disturbance.

    Sorry to confuse you Sub.

  45. jackg says:

    Setfree said: “My father hadn’t been a tithe payer for a few years, when my brother got married. He had to “get squared away” (meaning pay up what he “owed” since he’d quit paying) so that he could go to the wedding.”

    I refer to Setfree’s comment because it shows how different bishops and stake presidents can operate out of their personal preferences. My experience in the bishopric is that we asked members to start paying tithing without having to pay back tithing. I guess some exact a payment of back tithing. I know there are stake presidents who require a member not drink colas for a TR, while others don’t care. So, I guess it depends on how legalistic the one doing the interviewing is. Regardless, I have never thought of paying tithing to receive a TR as paying for blessings, so this thread has really opened my eyes in this area. As I went through the process of becoming a member of my local church, the Director of Finance discussed the issue of tithing. He asked, “Can I tell you how much to pay? That would be legalism.” Naturally, giving of finances can be used as a measuring stick of our faith, but it is not a requirement to earn the blessings of eternal life with God–that is a gift through justification by faith. Believe that Jesus Christ died for you, a sinner, and you have eternal life. The rest is learning how to live in harmony with God and others. The road to sanctification begins with being justified by faith. Sanctification is not the road to salvation, but the end product of it, and it is the work of God to do and complete through the Person of the Holy Spirit.

    Peace and Blessings…

  46. setfree says:

    DotF said:
    “I actually think this article is somewhat inaccurate. Not only is tithing required but, EVERYTHING “with which the Lord has blessed you….time, talents, possesions, etc.””

    and later accused me of lying that my father had to pay up to get in

    i’m confused. Is it so hard to believe my dad had to pay up? shouldn’t he, according to you, have also had to give all his time, talents, possessions, etc to get in? Surely, during his time of inactivity, those were lacking as well 😉

  47. Mike R says:


    I inadvertently posted a reply to your take on
    Matt.7:13, on the “No Comedy of Errors ” thread.
    You can view it there.

  48. jackg says:

    Can a person pay back their time and talents not used? Setfree is making really good points that reveal how sandy a foundation the LDS Church is built upon.

  49. subgenius says:

    saw your post, thanks for the reply. I am not familiar with myself or any of the Mormons i know referring to the Temple as the “gate” in that particular analogy. We tend to always consider it as the Lord’s house here on earth, and though our churches are open-door, our more sacred Temple is reserved for members with a recommend. Obviously this is not a unique scenario to our religion…g”gates” are used throughout all religions, both spiritually and physically.
    So, consequently, the LDS church, like your church, does NOT require a permission slip to fellowship, and we don’t charge for membership like you would see in Jewish Temples.

  50. liv4jc says:

    Sub, you are correct. I mainly associate with members of two wards, and it’s a possibility that those I am around are more “judgmental” than others. It is not fair to make a blanket statement based upon such a limited cross section of your faith.

    What I meant about my “religiousity” is that the members of Smith’s church that I associate with tend to have an almost universalist approach to salvation. Of course I cannot obtain all that is possible unless I join the one true church, but my life is reflective of Christianity. I am a truly changed person, and while many of my longtime friends are declining in holiness (more anger, cursing, bitterness, addiction, etc), I am continually being changed spiritually for the better. Maybe they believe that I am so close that I will be able to make it up by accepting the Mormon gospel in the next life. Who knows? All I know is that I have been deemed a “good person” because my “works” reflect my faith. I have genuine peace in my life. I’m not concerned with accomplishing this goal or that goal. It’s hard to explain, and I think you are correct in one sense. It’s subjective, and much of it is probably reflective of the culture of that particular group.

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