A thought-provoking article was published last week on OpEdNews.com. 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.