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Hal Boyd: Mormon gospel not money gospel: A reply to new essay on Mormonism from Harper's Magazine

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  • Marino20 Rexburg, ID
    Oct. 8, 2011 7:42 a.m.

    Kudos to the author of this article... Great job! The Harpers article was disconcerting, but this article provides ample detailed information that can be shared with others to disprove some of the horrible assumptions Harpers made. This writer ought to be hired full-time at DN, the research and writing for this article was outstanding, well done!

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Oct. 4, 2011 1:08 a.m.

    Bill in Nebraska,
    Actually I highly doubt Elder Oaks ever made a six figure income. He was a law professor, a university president and a state judge. None of these are careers that make large amounts of money. He collected a salary while president of BYU unlike his predecessor because he had not made large amounts of money as a practising attorney.

    President Packer spent his career working in the Church Education System. I can assure you he did not get wealthy doing that. Elder Mikelson spent his career as a farmer. Elder Holland spent his career as an educator, not generally where people go if they are trying to get super wealthy.

    While most of these men were not poor, they were also not super wealthy either. People like N. Eldon Tanner paid more in tithing before being called as general authorities than they made in stipends as general authorities, but most general authorities were not wealthy.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Oct. 4, 2011 12:43 a.m.

    On many occasions I have heard speakers at all levels emphasize that the blessings that come from paying tithing are not in any way gauranteed to be welath.

    In fact, one objection to the film "The Windows of Heaven" is that it portrays President Snow prosmising rain, which we could argue is a physical blessing. President Snow never promised the saints in St. George that it would rain. That was added to the film to add to the dramatic tension and plot development, not to confuse doctrines, but it may have caused some to think that there are specific physical blessings associated with paying tithing when in fact there are not.

    The last two stake presidents I have had were unemployed during part of their time as stake president. Elder Teh has clearly never been wealthy, and I doubt Elder Holland would really qualify either. The same probably could be said of Elder Coleman and several others of the general authorities. Even Elder Oaks has probably never been anywhere near the top of the earning list of attorneys. In fact President Grant is the only president of the Church who would be considered welathy.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Oct. 4, 2011 12:30 a.m.

    The claim that N. Eldon Tanner was a Democrat is false. N. Eldon Tanner was a Canadian who refused to ever be publicly associated with either US political party. He strived as hard as possible to avoid his political perceptions being known. To say he was a Democrat is false.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    Oct. 4, 2011 12:15 a.m.

    The claims of the article on the teachings of Joseph Smith were 100% false.

    Mormon are not the only victims of get-rich-quick schemes. However most studies of such things indicate the problem is more one of trust than of an inordnante desire to make money.

    In fact any actual study of the Gold Plates would show that Joseph was denounced for thinking to gain wealth from them. An actual study of these would reveal that their existence would mitigate against seeking gold.

    Lehman is horibly out-of-touch with the rhetoric against the prosperity gospel. President Monson and President Hinckley were preaching the doctrine of get-out-of-debt at a time when many prosperity gospelers were preaching buy bigger houses because the Lord blesses the righteous.

    Lehman seems to have avoided dealing with the actual teachings of the leaders of the Church.

  • Owl Salt Lake City, UT
    Oct. 2, 2011 9:54 a.m.

    Like the street preachers outside General Conference, these authors trade on sensationalism, disinformation, and bigotry. The fact that the LDS practice provident living and expect the government to do the same rankles the far left.

  • Brigham65 DEEP RIVER, CT
    Oct. 2, 2011 7:59 a.m.

    This was an excellent and very thorough refutation of a typical anti-Mormon hatchet job. Well done Brother Boyd.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 6:38 p.m.

    Eh, I meant to type "I don't consider myself a critic but I'll give my thoughts on this anyway".

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 6:38 p.m.

    @Arm of Orion
    "Does this not help people get a job that may not have one? Does this mall not allow for continual job growth and the ability for people to keep these jobs? Does this not help the poor? Oh critics let me know what you think. "

    I don't want to consider myself a critic so I'll answer. Some believe that it would be better to use that money to help the poor or something like that (one could say if you make money on your investment then that allows you for more to use to help the poor which is why I'm kinda torn on it and just think it LOOKS bad but I can't say if it is or isn't). I agree that building the mall helps for job growth and will point out that basically the church just made a stimulus project (so yes of course Obama's stimulus created jobs, that's why people like Bachmann write requests for funding for say a highway project (I forget what exactly hers was) and note how many jobs it'll create).

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Sept. 29, 2011 5:27 p.m.

    Mormoncowboy: Do you really know what each member of the General Authorities make in a given year or what they made. Take for instance Elder Oaks. I could say that his yearly income was probably six figures because he is a lawyer and that is the norm. Or say Elder Nelson who I believe is a doctor. If you really took a good look you will also find that these men are experts or reknown in their fields. Does that make them wealthy? There is nothing in the scriptures that says you can't be. What you and I don't know and it will never be told to us is how much they contribute to other charities besides the Church. What you are basing your information on is there titles and ownerships but that still doesn't mean they are wealthy. I will contend that many made more money than I do or even you but how many of them are still sitting on a board of directors or are CEOs. To say they are selected because of their wealth is really not true, nor has it ever been. They are called of God, no one else.

  • dryforkcreek Vernal, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 4:50 p.m.

    I often wonder how the negative accusers of the LDS church have so much time to reddicule The Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. Wouldn't that amount of time and energy be more useful to the people's of this world by offering a different way to enjoy religion ?
    Just wondering...

  • peacemaker Provo, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 1:07 p.m.

    We are a very much typical senior Mormon couple
    Are we obsessed with money making?
    We worked 45 years. I was a police officer, My wife managed a dental office.
    We raised six children
    We financed four missionaries who served others to give them meaning to life,
    We served four missions ourselves, all at our own expense. The last two in foreign Countries where $500.000 in member humanitarian donations were contributed, all in a very poor country where the average income is $40 per month. Installed clean water wells for 53 schools, 500 wheel chairs, rebuilt a burned out village, provided warm winter clothing to mountain tribes, gave a 5 year old blind girl her sight through surgery, provided sewing equipment and taught the fish hatchery business in a handicapped village which provided a sustained income, rebuilt a storm destroyed school, provided sterilization equipment to a hospital along with commercial laundering equipment, newborn kits for a maternity hospital, soccer balls and nets to ten high schools to help discourage dropouts. 20 computers for an adult school which was completely Church funded and staffed by LDS missionary couples.
    We are a typical Senior couple in the Mormon church.

  • Uncle Gadianton Salt Lake City, Utah
    Sept. 29, 2011 11:53 a.m.

    RE: Mormoncowboy @8:33

    Bishops are "nominated" or recommended by Stake leaders, but the First Presidency approves the call. I've never heard of an instance where the First Presidency has rejected a proposed Bishop, but I suppose it could happen.

    Meanwhile, the Harper's article is astonishingly inaccurate. If only there were a handy resource that a journalist could access that would provide basic information about an organization. Maybe those new-fangled computer thingys could be used. If only . . . . if only.

    (BTW, that was sarcasm)

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Sept. 29, 2011 10:50 a.m.

    To LDS Liberal: But wasn't this article about what the church espoused, not what the scriptures or what actually happens? If someone makes a bad choice, who is to blame for that? Certainly not the church. You probably agree with 'Don't ask, don't tell' policy. So, if you don't want the military nosing around about sexual orientation, wouldn't that also apply to you making a judgement about the motives, or even the lifestyle, of those who have wealth?

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Sept. 29, 2011 8:33 a.m.

    Bill:

    The local leadership is called based on their geographic relationship to a Ward or Stake. They are also selected from those most willing and able to serve and promote the Church's agenda. Most importantly however, with the exception of the Stake President, the local leadership is selected by those further up in the local hierarchy. They are also most of what constitutes the Church's lay ministry. In sum, I agree with you that at the local level many of those called and who serve, do so from a principle of faith. They try and live according to scriptural precepts, etc. It is of course true, that there are pockets around the world, where the local class warfare percolates into a local Ward/Stake politics, but it is not necessarilly systemic.

    My observations are based on the Church's General leadership, ie, the General Authorities. You will have a much harder time arguing this one. There are some exceptions, but proportionately the wealth distribution appears to be inordinately high among General Authorities. Furthermore, the Church's corporate activities are highly dedicated to wealth accumulation, more so than what is sufficient for a Church's needs.

    BTW - I never "lost" a testimony.

  • 4th Generation HENDERSON, NV
    Sept. 28, 2011 10:51 p.m.

    dtday2003 | 3:37 a.m. Sept. 27, 2011
    Monterey, CA said:
    "Marxist - The church has no official stance on any of the things you mentioned."

    True enough! But many church members DO have a stance on those issues and more. And they often get discussed in Sunday meetings as if they were the church's stance.

  • wwookie Payson, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 9:38 p.m.

    Nice article. Living on the east coast, it is amazing how uneducated the populace is regarding mormons. It is en vogue now to show strong prejudice against mormons. Over half the people I've had conversations with about the mormon church truly believe it practices polygamy. Most say it in a pompous manner as if all mormons are back-woodsy and mentally challenged.

    Anything but educated.

    Here's An. Interaction from just today.

    Friend: you're from utah?
    Me: born and raised - even went to school at the university of utah.
    Friend: what did you think about growing up with all the mormons out there?
    Me: i was raised mormon.
    Friend: really? You're the most normal mormon I've ever met.
    Me: how many mormons do you know?
    Friend: just you, i think.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Sept. 28, 2011 9:37 p.m.

    Mormon Cowboy: I can attest to you that the bishops and stake presidents outside of Utah and many other areas are not wealthy. My current branch president has a very modest income. The Bishop of my last ward has a very modest income and the Stake President is far from wealthy. In fact he lives in a very middle income neighborhood. As my comment stated earlier, you will find many bishop's and stake presidents are called in the areas they serve and live. I've know a bishop who was on assistance for a couple of years as he looked for employment. When it came he had to move to another state.

    As of others have stated I've come to understand the workings a little of the spirit to know who is called and why. It has very little to do with how much they make and more to do with their humility. I know you and I differ on this and honestly we all could give you examples and you would simply put them under the rug. You've lost your testimony of the Church and thus your own testimony of how these men are called.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 9:18 p.m.

    mnelsonj | 7:42 p.m. Sept. 28, 2011
    West Jordan, UT
    Alt134: 79% of Mormons are not active. The report on KSL stated that 75% of active Mormons are Republican. There is a difference between the two.

    ================

    That's impossible,
    MOST Mormons aren't Americans of even in the United States.

    The article is wrong as a stereotype of "Mormons",
    but is Spot-On with "Utah Mormons".

    You should visit a ward or stake in Guatemala, Bolivia, Germany, or Korea if you want to see Mormons pratice what we preach.

    Utah is drifting farther and farther away.
    Like the Pharisees 2,000 years ago,
    and the Nephites ripining for destruction.

    Persuing "pride" and "the vain things of the world".

  • mnelsonj West Jordan, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 7:42 p.m.

    Alt134: 79% of Mormons are not active. The report on KSL stated that 75% of active Mormons are Republican. There is a difference between the two.

  • panamadesnews Lindon, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 7:22 p.m.

    Sorry, in my last post I meant to say: no, no, no, yes, yes.

  • panamadesnews Lindon, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 7:20 p.m.

    To Marxist 12:20 a.m.

    The answers are: no, no, no, yes, no.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Sept. 28, 2011 6:15 p.m.

    Charles -

    I invite to follow up on your solution. Educate us as to why were mistaken. Your claim to "too many experiences" probably won't cut it as an illustration. However, you could draw from just one of those experiences to try and make a point? The fact is, many people are noticing that the Church leadership seems to maintain an inordinate amount of wealthy individuals. They are noticing that the Church does seem to be seriously involved in business and wealth accumulation. So, to defend against this observation you will need to do more than just say "oh, no you are mistaken. It's not that way at all. Please ignore those things that are in front of your face.".

    You are correct in noting that my perspective comes from not "knowing any differently", if by that you mean that I am not convinced of the alleged divine callings of Mormon leaders. But again, you could simply clear this up by educating me and showing (note that to "show" does not mean to simply just "tell". Simply saying that it's so, doesn't mean that it's so.) me that you do know differently.

  • @Charles the greater outdoors, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 4:37 p.m.

    Can we all get off the Glenn Beck hating trip? Seriously, Beck has never come close to stating that he speaks for the church and I'm pretty confident that he never will make that claim.

    The hatred for Beck is noted though.

    @MormonCowboy: Your post this morning is a valid only in the sense that you don't know any differently. There are many non-LDS like you and sadly, there are many LDS folks who don't understand or have a testimony of the 5th Article of Faith.

    Men aren't called to bishops, stake presidents, GA's because they are wealthy at all. Wealth has nothing to do with it. If one believes that are called by the Lord to their callings then the rest takes care of itself. I've had too many instances of personal experience to know that it is the Lord who is in charge and calls His servants.

    The intense obsession with non-LDS about the finances of the church is disturbing. It borders on a disease that can't be overcome.

    The Harper's article is nothing new. There will be many more. Educate the ignorant and then move on.

  • wjgramma West Jordan, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 4:11 p.m.

    It's difficult to believe that anyone --- let alone a national magazine --- would publish such rubish about any organization, especially a church that requires its members to pay 10% tithing, which is a personal choice, btw.

    There has been opposition to the church since the beginning, and people who really want to know what we belief and practice should ask someone who truly knows. Don't ask a Ford dealer to tell you the pros and cons of a Chevrolet.

  • jrgl CEDAR CITY, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 2:11 p.m.

    All the Glen Beck fans who bought gold through his sponsored company helped create a bubble. Now that the price of gold has gone down, I wonder how his ardent fans will react. Harper's magazine may have promoted fallacies in the article, but there are those LDS who epitomize the wealth mongers the article portrays. It would have been nice to have Harper's look into the church's humanitarian missions and not just rehash a previous magazine who called us Mormon Inc. When church members back Glen Beck types it causes people to think we are all like that which is not so. I like the church's diversity campaigns showing many people & nationalities represented from all walks of life.

  • AllSeeingEye Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 11:12 a.m.

    The "Harper's" piece has to rank among the top 10 strangest and least-factually accurate anti-Mormon articles of the modern era. What Hugh Nibley called the "crushing weight of evidence" to be gleaned from Mormon scripture supports the exact opposite view.

    The only thing that would even make the question a close one, in terms of scriptural text, are the Book of Mormon references that those who keep the commandments "prosper" in the land.

    Oh, but wait, the word "prosper" means to thrive and flourish, not to have a large bank account or lots of Krugerands. In Book of Mormon times did "prospering" mean to have enough food not just for today, but for tomorrow and maybe next few weeks? Did it maybe mean to have enough to share with others who had nothing? Did it maybe mean to flourish and thrive spiritually, and not have "any manner of 'ites?'"

    Glen Beck and Cleon Skousen do not speak for the Mormon Church--never have and never will. I respect their views and their right to have them -- but, please, on the particular subject especially, let the text speak for itself.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Sept. 28, 2011 11:04 a.m.

    Suzyk#1:

    Often when religions don't like the criticizms levied against them, they claim to be misunderstood. However, the only way to understand Mormons or Mormonism, from the perspective of Mormons, is to believe "in" Mormonism. In other words, anybody who disregards Mormonism as a/the true faith, is under one great misunderstanding. Naturally for example, the correlation between LDS executive leadership and wealth is nothing more than a phenomenon of multicollinearity. It just so happens that those characteristics which make a person more likely to be wealthy, also happen to make them good candidates for the Church's general leadership. It is not possible however that the Church leadership just tends to fancy other wealthy folk. Observing the Church hierarchy and drawing the latter conclusion is just a misunderstanding. There is no conflict for a Church to be so involved in the for-profit business sector, to be building malls and raking in profits from businesses that advance class distinctions. To object to this means you misunderstand. How do we know this, because as you say, you researched it. How? Well by praying of course. How else would one research?

  • suzyk#1 Mount Pleasant, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    When the human race does not understand an issue, a religion, etc. their first course of action is to degrade it. Why not take some honest time and research what is puzzling you, irritating you. That is the only way you are going to know for sure. We all have opinions; many are empty of thought or knowledge but really all you have to do, if you truly are desiring to know, is get down on your knees and ask your Father in Heaven if it is true and if you know anything about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you will know just as Joseph Smith knew, that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is built upon the word of God and no other.

  • fish8 Vernal, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 9:28 a.m.

    The LDS church teaches its members to get a good education, to work hard, to make something of their lives. This many times results in a person getting a good job, being successful and yes - having a good income. How sinful.

  • Arm of Orion Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 8:46 a.m.

    I never understood the need for people to criticize the Church for building a shopping mall. Does this not help people get a job that may not have one? Does this mall not allow for continual job growth and the ability for people to keep these jobs? Does this not help the poor? Oh critics let me know what you think.

  • qapilot Orem, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 7:23 a.m.

    The Harper's article is clearly inaccurate and the Deseret News article does a great job of refuting the notion that the LDS Church doctrine encourages the accumulation of wealth.

    However, culturally, and in Utah especially, we have a problem. I have sat through more than one MLM presentation from LDS friends that are blatantly focused on chasing wealth and riches. Such companies, very successful in Utah, make no apologies for celebrating extravagant lifestyles. Utah has no shortage of showpiece homes that far outweigh the residents' needs. (Of course, many of them eventually find themselves in forclosure.) Mormons, in no small number, DO put a lot of emphasis on wearing the right clothes, driving luxury cars, taking expensive vacations to exotic locations (and bragging about it), and even planning lavish church activities.

    The saints would do well to re-examine the roles wealth and image play in their lives.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Sept. 28, 2011 6:32 a.m.

    TO DSB: That should have read six figure salary. Sorry. Yes, he was wealthy but while on his mission he contributed all to the LDS Church. I'm not at liberty to say the amounts but they were considerable and given freely each month. As Christ said it is harder for a wealthy person to enter into the kingdom of God than a camel through the eye of a needle. It really determines what a person does with their wealth. Many Presidents of the Church were not wealthy. Not all members of the Quorum of the Twelve are wealthy, in fact probably less than a third actually are. Bishops, Stake Presidents are not called because of how much they make. In wards/branches in many urban settings are reflective of most of the earnings in their ward/branch. The same is said of the rural settings. The largerst requisite for a bishop/branch president is their family settings. I know of bishops/branch presidents called who rode the fence on the Word of Wisdom. Some have also needed assistance from the Church, just as many others have.

  • Swedish reader Stockholm, Sweden
    Sept. 28, 2011 1:46 a.m.

    "Eastcoastcoug": I have heard others pointing out that a lot of Church leaders seem to be successful (and that these people think you have to be financially successful to become a Church leader), and my answer to them is that leadership in the Church takes a lot of hard work and energy. If you are a hard worker with a high level of energy, you will often be successful in business as a result. Church leaders are chosen by the Lord because he knows they have the strength to do all the work that particular calling will require of them, not because that strength has also enabled them to be successful in their professions. Their financial success is a byproduct of their energy and hard work, not the reason for their callings. Don't put the cart before the horse!

  • Munk Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 28, 2011 12:02 a.m.

    Ok.. so the Mormon church has business dealings, is influential, makes money... so what? Seriously.. so what. I say more power to the LDS church. Let them make money.... and please cease this idiotic hypocrisy in the media. Remember when everyone was getting freaky about the prospect of a Roman Catholic president with JFK?

  • DSB Cedar Hills, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:24 p.m.

    Hey Nebraska Bill - the mission president was a businessman with a "three figure salary"? I hope he was on the upper end of that scale. ;)

  • Petra Sanpete County, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:09 p.m.

    It is sad to me that so many members heap scorn on Senator Harry Reid and even on Hugh Nibley, not realizing how closely their views correlate with LDS doctrine and scripture. While this article serves to set the record straight, honestly, there are many, many LDS who think it's OK, and even admirable, to seek wealth. Some even think that if you are wealthy it's because you are "living the Gospel." Many more seem to think Glenn Beck is a prophet or sorts and buy gold at his request.

    I would love to hear many talks in conference along the lines of what Hugh Nibley would say, or at least something telling us to be careful of false prophets (yes, I'm speaking of Glenn Beck here, though I'm sure he would never be named), but I don't think we'll hear anything of the sort. In my opinion, if we don't actually study the scriptures and listen to our (real) Prophet, we will miss the boat all by ourselves. I do see this period in our history (where we are now so severely dividing into class) as a sifting or worldly vs more humble LDS. Time will tell.

  • The Caravan Moves On Enid, OK
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:08 p.m.

    The LDS faith is a "money gospel" in which it encourages the accumulation of wealth?

    Whatever!...

    I've been told that the Book of Mormon says 23 times that righteousness leads to "prosperity" and, in looking at the pride cycle clearly shown in the Book of Mormon (righteousness brings wealth which brings pride which brings destruction which brings humility which brings righteousness which brings....well, you get the point) it is obvious that "prosperity" means an accumulation of financial wealth.

    However...

    as I said above, the Book of Mormon is exceptionally clear that temporal wealth brings HUGE problems with it (see the pride cycle above) and also, that the only reason one should aspire to wealth is to bless and enrich the lives of the poor. Period.

    So, no, the LDS church absolutely does not encourage the accumulation of temporal wealth. However, it does emphatically encourage the accumulation of spiritual wealth and righteousness, which if sought after will lead inevitable to physical wealth which must be, according to God's commands, used to bless the lives of the poor, or we shall suffer for our selfishness.

    Big difference between seeking spiritual growth and money.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:00 p.m.

    I'll like some of the ones speaking against wealth to gain a greater understanding. When the Lord promises that we would be blessed for paying our tithing, he never meant that we would be without trials, financial hardships and even other things. The scriptures talk about the poor in spirit more than it actually talks about the POOR. There is a huge difference. President Hinkley lived on a very modest means as did President Kimball. Neither were really what many would call wealthy. The big difference is they lived within their own means and had money to do some things.

    I've known a mission president that was a business owner with a three figure salary. He went on his three year mission with his family, taking a break from his company. All of the money he made was given to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as tithes and offerings. The house he and his family lived in was furnished by the Church. He basically didn't pay anything for the house. He had a car provided by the Church for his calling. No car payments. This is how most mission presidents in the US handle the calling.

  • rightascension Provo, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:52 p.m.

    Heard the author on Radio West this morning, and it became ovious after a few minutes that he really did not know what he was talking about. Still, Mormon kulchur still makes the connection between righteous and wealth.

    Back in the 60s Harold B. Lee saw the future of the church in term of correlation and Ezra Taft Benson saw it in terms of right wing political alliance. Interesting to see which vision still has legs.

  • O'really Idaho Falls, ID
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:00 p.m.

    Easy answer to why many general authorities are wealthy. They naturally possess the leadership/organizational/communication and people skills that often result in making money. So it's a baby step to translate that into church leadership. Those same skills are vital in being an effective leader in the church. The fact that they have acquired money in their lives has very little if anything to do with whether they are called to serve (aside from the fact that it's helpful if they are independently wealthy and can support themselves for a period of time or for the rest of their lives if necessary.)

    My son's mission president had just enough in savings to serve without pay for three years, and after finishing his 3 yr mission he went right back to work. He was a talented and dedicated leader.

    Knowing the high level of testimony, committment to the church and physical stamina needed to keep up with the demanding schedule and job description of a church leader, I highly doubt that any general authority, mission or stake president is called based on what's in their bank account. They are called based on their obedience and ability to lead.

  • regis Murray, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:46 p.m.

    Didn't Joseph Smith predict that calumny would defame, and that the work would go on nevertheless? That's been the way things have gone for nearly 200 years now. Why should it be any different now?

    And the work will continue to go forward.

  • Wyclif OREM, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:46 p.m.

    I guess I miss the point of the article. Now why is it that to be religious or spiritually minded you need to be poor? "Blessed are the poor in spirit" perhaps, but just being poor? I don't think that is part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But neither is being rich.

    People from all walks of life want to lift themselves up from the gutter. I know I wanted to, because we were poor. Does that somehow make me a bad person? I give money to charities. I help those in need in my family. I am kind and generous. SO what is the big deal anyway.

    Now in the LDS Church family, there is something called the Perpetual Education Fund. Through it we help less fortunate third world youth get an education and then a good paying job so they can lift their communities. So is that frowned upon too? Give me a break. I think when we return to living the united order where everyone shares everything there will be a lot of complaints as well. But most will still be from outsiders. Best get in now.

  • very concerned Sandy, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:06 p.m.

    @ Ultra Bob

    Your assertions have a kind of popular, man-made logic to them. Just so you know, these assertions are not new. I heartily disagree with them. They clearly lead to an attitude that we have no personal responsibility. That we are are just creatures, destined only to respond to our physical nature.

    So much of life depends on whether we believe in a loving, omniscient, Supreme Being. Without that anchor, anything goes. Just because you can't see something doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Man is not the most supreme life form in the universe. Do you have proof there is no God? I have experienced the evidence of things not seen as Paul describes. The evidence may not be a vision, but a sweet clear understanding, or the miracle of a newborn baby, or the perfection of a tree.

    You should know that the the church does not make a profit for it's leaders. Some do receive modest stipends I've heard, but that is rare, and not within the realm of possibility of being able to rule the wealth of the world.

    There is a God, and there is revelation. Jesus Christ IS our Savior.

  • aka MOUNT PLEASANT, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:37 p.m.

    A sad day. In today's paper, one article says that the church has spent 1.5 billion on a shopping mall and 1.3 billion, since 1985, on caring for the poor and needy.

  • Bob Pomeroy Bisbee, AZ
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:32 p.m.

    The very linguistics of the Harper's article showed that its author spent the most research effort prowling the same rehashed critiques of the church which seem to have always been there. Nonetheless, there is a lot of adulation for those who have satisfied themselves and their neighbors that their wealth proves God's blessings and therefore their own righteousness. Somewhere it gets justified by saying that wealth enables service. It is not less meaningful if it is only a 'social' rather than 'official' thing. winks and nods are still what they are.

  • Mr. Bean St. George, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:15 p.m.

    @eastcoastcoug:

    "No, I do not believe the 'blessings' in paying tithing are limited to material wealth."

    No one, not even the ecclesiastical leaders have said blessings are limited to material wealth. But, I'm sure if you were to probe, it would definitely include material wealth as well as the other things you cite. One would hope so, anyway.

  • annewandering oakley, idaho
    Sept. 27, 2011 6:59 p.m.

    Very odd photo on the cover. Wonder what group that was and why it was the lead photo above the article on Mormons. They certainly aren't LDS.

  • DanielWayneLewis SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 6:50 p.m.

    I was baptized in January, never once has someone in the church asked about my political beliefs... While the majority of LDS are or tend to be on the political right, that is simply co-incidental; that is because those on the right usually are opposed to abortion and gay marriage, which the church is opposed to. That doesn't mean that the church, or even these members, necessarily agree with all that the GOP says or does; it just means that they value social values above economics. There are some LDS on the left, and these people may agree with the Dems on economics, but that doesn't mean they agree with them on everything, either. American politics, unfortunately, does not allow much room for those who are socially conservative yet economically more equitable; those who feel this way are forced to vote for those who don't match with them one way or another.

  • JustGordon Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 6:12 p.m.

    When I was a teacher at a local suburban high school, I was asked by a young Mormon teen who had just moved from Virginia to the Salt Lake Valley, if I was a Mormon. I told him no I was not, but wondered if I could still help him.

    He then asked me why all the Mormon he was meeting were "nazi Mormons?" (His phrase not mine) I asked him what he meant by that and he said that these new members of the church he was meeting were so intolerant and dismissive of others not like themselves. He said that members of his ward, back in suburban Virginia, were not like that at all.

    My only response was to say that sometimes when people are members of such a large majority they tend to be dismissive of the ideas and beliefs of the minority. They rarely experience diversity and in the process they become overbearing and present a holier than thou attitude that ends up condescendingly believing they really do have higher standards, even if they have never seriously examined any other person's standards. It becomes a kind of self perpetuating group think.

  • idablu Idaho Falls, ID
    Sept. 27, 2011 6:08 p.m.

    Does wealth = righteousness? Of course not, and I don't know of anyone that actually believes that.

    Does wealth = unrighteousness? Many of the posters here think so. I guess that is a matter of how the wealth was accumulated. But wealth, in and of itself, is not a sin, and those who envy, and denigrate the wealthy need to take a close look at what makes happiness. Is your personal happiness really influenced by how much the "other" guy makes?

    Is wealth a blessing? It certainly can be and most certainly can be used to bless others. On the other hand we all know of examples where wealth (greed and love of money) can be a curse and destroy families. It all depends on the heart of the individual who has accumulated wealth.

  • JKayDS EULESS, TX
    Sept. 27, 2011 6:04 p.m.

    There is a lot of put down's here about the "MORMON" rich is SLC. May I please remind people that not all people in SLC are Mormon!! It has become a place of many peoples and cultures.
    When God tells us to keep the commandments and we will receive blessings.. most of the time he is NOT talking about money! There are MANY ways that God blesses his people.
    One time I was talking to my sister about the woes of my bank account... And she told me that maybe I was not rich because God knows how I would spend it. Remember that a BIG part of LDS religion is that we are here to be tested. Those who are rich will have their tests to pass as will those who are poor.
    And you DON"T have to be rich to be a good LDS person! I have had a temple recommend for many years.. and I have never been rich!

  • Mormonstudent Rexburg,, ID
    Sept. 27, 2011 6:01 p.m.

    The fallacies in the Harper's article make me wonder what kind of errors are to be found in articles on subjects about which I am not an expert.

    Don't believe anything you hear. Or read. Even in reputable periodicals.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Sept. 27, 2011 5:51 p.m.

    Mr. Bean,

    No, I do not believe the "blessings" in paying tithing are limited to material wealth. I think the most valuable blessings are those not tied at all to money ie. health, close family, loving relationships. Those are the kinds of blessings that you cannot measure (no room to receive...).

  • Elcapitan Ivins, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 5:50 p.m.

    Marxist..

    Yes to all. As long as one keeps the commandments, including tithing payment, it matters not what political party one belongs to. There are many more poor in the church than wealthy, And I have noted that there are as many righteous rich among the rich percentage wise, as there are righteous among the poor percentage wise. People are too caught up with worldly wealth. I suggest a read of Larry H. Millers biography. written by Doug Robinson. Learn from it.

  • JNA Layton, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 5:39 p.m.

    To those who are trying to say that the doctrines of the LDS Church are more closely aligned with the platform of the Democratic Party are deceiving themselves. The Democratic Party is a party of deception, they speak the talk but they don't walk the walk. They are in alignment with just as much wealth as the Republican Party by way of horrible unions, hollywierd, Gates, Buffet, et al. So please quit the lying about being for the little guys. At least the Republicans openly admit to loving the rich. I have been disgusted with Republican Party in the past and have considered joining the Democratic Party. Even if the Democrats could prove they were all about love and compassion I would still have a serious problem because there is still that little pesky abortion thing....so in other words you are not protective of the most vulnerable, and please do not hide behind the lie of the "choice" it is all about power and the most powerful thing a person can do is to decide who lives and who dies not who gets a free handout from the government.

  • RAB Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 5:22 p.m.

    @Ms Molli

    Good point, but the other thing many have not yet learned is how to not judge other members of the church. I do not know ANYONE who does without everything they do not need and gives it all to the poor. If you happen to be that person, I gladly grant you the right to be the first one to cast a stone at the rest of the us.

  • Ms Molli Bountiful, Utah
    Sept. 27, 2011 5:04 p.m.

    RAB | 2:14 p.m. Sept. 27, 2011
    Bountiful, UT
    I would like one of these critics of the "Mormon culture" to explain how a person is supposed to give to the needy if they are not supposed to attain wealth. The fact of the matter is, if we do not seek wealth, we will not have the resources to help those in need.

    RAB - it is called doing without the things we do not NEED and giving to the poor. Something many members of the church have not yet learned.

  • @Charles the greater outdoors, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 4:30 p.m.

    It's interesting to see all the generalizations going on in the article and on the threads. There is materialism in every state in the nation. It's not unique to Utah or Mormons. It's not unique to heavily Christian populations.

    The manner in which some just paint an entire group of people because of a few that they know don't live up to what the gospel teaches is just ignorant.

    It's like me saying that based on the comments of Esquire, LDS Lib, ECR, MormonDem that all uber-Progressive Mormons don't follow the counsel of the brethren who follow the counsel of the Savior regarding "love your neighbor as yourself".

    The hatred, vitriol and anger that stems from their posts is astounding as they chastise Repubs, Conservatives and tea partiers.

    But my friends who are Democrats don't speak anything like them. My neighbors are wonderful people; kind, benevolent, helpful, charitable and TOLERANT.

    Let's all stand back a few paces, take a deep breath, and quit with the denigrating of the other just because they don't believe like we do.

    For those complaining about leaders being wealthy, do you not believe in the 5th AofF? I'd say you don't.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 4:04 p.m.

    If the church is teaching wealth accumulation, how do you explain:

    - missionaries serving at their own expense

    - 75-year welfare program that has helped millions (and by the way, has never gone broke in that entire period - the government could learn something from that if they were really interested in welfare)

    - a lay clergy that puts in countless hours without compensation

    - an endless supply of service projects at all organizational levels from young men and women to ward, stake, and even church-wide efforts (completely uncompensated; as opposed to most non-profits that have paid administration and staff)

    - tithing, fast offerings, perpetual education fund, and many other funds that receive generous contributions

    - frequent blood drives and food drives

    - "funeral potatoes" (and other food items routinely offered to those in need)

    ... and the list can go on almost endlessly.

    Most of the Mormons I know can take credit for being involved in nearly every item on this list. According to the world's view, that would be a foolhardy way to go about seeking wealth.

  • Mr. Bean St. George, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 3:44 p.m.

    @eastcoastcoug:

    "I don't believe our scriptures or leaders promote wealth for one second, but many of the rest of us do."

    Adherents are promised great blessings with the payment of tithes and offerings. What blessings, pray tell? Wealth? Declared policy ties specific blessings to the keeping of specific commandments.

  • Yorkshire City, Ut
    Sept. 27, 2011 3:37 p.m.

    kiaoraguy observed:"You can tell by the cover art that the Magazine really knows it's subject-not"

    And the cover art also broadcasts right up front that they are not trying to give a realistic portrail of Mormons and/or their views on money at all--

    --but going for the weirdly creepy and dark caricature--much like the creepy PBS Frontline/American Experience debacle.

  • DRay Roy, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 3:35 p.m.

    Had the article in question been factually and doctrinaly correct, it would not have been published. Many a good, honest person has become interested in the church because of negative publicity about it...so I say to the world, keep printing negative untruths about the LDS Church, and thank you, watch it grow... as the Lord's Church rolls on, the dogs will bark, but it will continue to fill the earth. The actual doctine is sound, and true.

  • treecaps22 Charlotte, North Carolina
    Sept. 27, 2011 3:23 p.m.

    Wow - that's how to win an intellectual argument - nice response.

  • Tyler Ray Taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 2:57 p.m.

    While it is true that there are many wealthy Latter-Day Saints, particularly in the Salt Lake Valley, the Church does not say we should try to be wealthy or you're better if you are.

    The Book of Mormon has the pride cycle wherein the Nephites would be blessed for righteousness, prosper in riches, forget their God who blessed them, then God would humble them with trials. But it all started when they'd become rich.

    Wealth is not worthy of condemnation but letting your wealth build pride in you is.

  • Millsap fan Taylorsville, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 2:53 p.m.

    Demisana is absolutely right.

    A mission President usually is wealthy because it takes a lot of money to serve a mission for 3 years (they pay for everything out there.)

    However it isn't a requirement. I have known average income mission presidents.

    My stake President is far from rich, but one has to have to be financially secure and have very steady employment to lead in positions in the Church. If the Bishop for example was struggling from paycheck to paycheck and constantly worrying, it would be much harder to focus on the welfare of others.

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 2:50 p.m.

    An excellent article, responding to a very bad and borderline dishonest one.

  • Belching Cow Sandy, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 2:36 p.m.

    Yes, the sure quickest way to wealth is to raise a large family on one income. LOL!

    I'm sure the inaccuracies in the article would be good for some laughs but the problem is there are people that will actually believe it.

  • RAB Bountiful, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 2:14 p.m.

    I would like one of these critics of the "Mormon culture" to explain how a person is supposed to give to the needy if they are not supposed to attain wealth. The fact of the matter is, if we do not seek wealth, we will not have the resources to help those in need.

    Wealth just brings out the extreme of your personality. A greedy poor person becomes an extremely greedy rich person. A selfless poor person becomes an extremely selfless rich person. Therefore, instead of worrying about how wealthy someone is, worry about instilling Christ-like characteristcs into them before they become wealthy.

    Instead of bashing church leaders for being financially successful, how about looking at what they do with thier time and wealth. Or, even better, instead of judging them with our beam-filled eyes, how about worrying about what we are doing with our own resources and money.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Sept. 27, 2011 2:12 p.m.

    Esquire
    What I see is that the republicans are for letting people be and PERSUING happiness realizing that you can only get jobs from people with money while democrats are for telling people "you can only get by with my help". One looks at people and says not everyone is going to make it but give it your all and lets keep government out of the way while the other says you MUST be happy so let me give you what I think you need keeping them in a victim mentality to hold on to their power. What happens when the hand outs run out? people pick themselves up and go to work. That is why things like unemployment takes many so long to get off them, they wait until the money is almost dried up then find a job. What the LDS Church teaches is to provide for yourself and not to rely on those kind of handouts. Save for the day that you loose a job then you have the money to live until you find a knew job.

  • ny's amy jo Rochester, NY
    Sept. 27, 2011 2:12 p.m.

    What I find objectionable is the attitude of "open season" on Latter Day Saints. Should any of these magazines or news reports treat Islam the way we are treated the outcry would reach the White House. Yet it is commonplace to denigrate our faith, our scriptures and our prophet. I guess Political Correctness doesn't count for us.

  • Kami Bountiful, Utah
    Sept. 27, 2011 2:11 p.m.

    I'd like to know the percentage of mormons who are active in the church who are receiving any form of church assistances vs. the percentage of the overall population in Utah receiving State assistance. I think that many members, particularly members of the church who reside OUTSIDE of Utah, would be surprised at the numbers. Preaching about being fiscally conservative, not living beyond ones means, avoiding debt, etc., means nothing when the behaviors don't support that notion.

  • fresnogirl Fresno, CA
    Sept. 27, 2011 1:49 p.m.

    That explains why we Mormons have such large families -- everyone knows that is the way to be wealthy....

  • Excosmo Petal, MS
    Sept. 27, 2011 1:35 p.m.

    I was going through an airport last week when I ran across this magazine. I was so surprised that I purchased the magazine for reading on my next flight. The article, while interesting contained more half-truths and editorializing than reality. I must go ahead and give the obligatory caveat that I am indeed a lifelong member of the LDS church. I found it interesting that the article painted such a one-sided, jaded view of the church. I had to laugh at a considerable portion of the article because it was so off base. What can you do when you come across such blather. I was not angry or put off by it. Rather, I was concerned at the inaccuracies that are presented as fact.
    Basic research requires the use of facts. These facts can be used to tell a story. However, this article chose to tell a story and use facts to add in just enough truth to make in plausible. In reality, it presented few facts and mostly opinion. Harper's was in my opinion way off base for publishing such an article prior to conducting a thorough revision of the author's suppositions.

  • FDRfan safety dictates, ID
    Sept. 27, 2011 1:30 p.m.

    paperboy111 | 11:15 a.m. Sept. 27, 2011
    Lindon, UT
    Members "are not obliged to think and act in lockstep."?

    "This seems to fly in the face of what N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor to the President of the LDS church, who famously once said in the August 1979 edition of The Ensign Magazine; When the Prophet speaks the debate is over". I think most will agree; this is still the prevailing doctrine of the Church."

    I certainly believe it is - when the prophet speaks. Listen to conference and see if they speak as Republicans or Democrats or any other political party. I feel very comfortable agreeing with Harry Reid more than Jason Chaffetz of Mike Lee. Nor do I believe in the "original intent" view of the Constitution. The inspiration was way over their heads.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 1:24 p.m.

    @ bandersen, if you look at the fundamental philosophy of the parties, what has been the case for a hundred years is the GOP is the party of business and the wealthy, and the Dems are the party of the common man/woman. That still holds true. There may be deviations, but it is still the case.

    And for the commenters, look at your rationalizations, "apologies", defensiveness, thin skins, etc. A little self examination in the context of the scriptures would do you some good. Instead, you and the author of this column are more into killing the messenger. Just because the scriptures and the prophets teach something, it does not mean those teachings are properly and effectively followed in practice and in reality. In some respects, your true religion is who you are and what you do, not what you profess.

  • byu rugby Crystal Lake, IL
    Sept. 27, 2011 1:20 p.m.

    No, the gospel does not teach wealth as a short cut to salvation. But, from my experience with members, it sure seemed right on track. For every humble (Read: Poor) member who serves in the local lay leadership, there are 15 wealthy, well connected people. There is a real thirst to appear just right in the eyes of fellow members. Someone earlier mentioned the luxury homes on the east SLC valley Bench. Perfect of example of mistaken idea that wealth relates into righteousness. Most displaced Utah Mormons I have met out in the mission field have a real bad superiority complex to us lowly blue collar shlubs.

    I wish the "Brethern" could look beyond wealth or church employment for leadership. Especially in areas NOT dominated by Utahns.

  • VocalLocal Salt Lake, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 1:06 p.m.

    I doubt the 'prosperity Gospel' is more prevalent in Mormonism than in any other religion. There is one BoM scripture which would give some credence to it (the one that says if you seek the kingdom of God first God will bless you with riches) but the same ideas generally occur in most other religions. I will say though that Church leadership generally consists of the relatively wealthy-they aren't all rich but they are more the rich than not and rarely if ever are they the poorest of society.

  • Woody Newbury Park, CA
    Sept. 27, 2011 12:58 p.m.

    Does any one read Harpers?

    If you give up your morning Latte, your pack a day and visiting the bar for happy hour, you will become wealthy.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 12:44 p.m.

    BobP | 12:12 p.m. Sept. 27, 2011
    Port Alice, B.C.
    N. Eldon Tanner was born in Utah but lived most of his life in Canada. He was Deputy Premier in a very right wing provincial Government in Alberta. He was at one time my Branch President in Edmonton.

    ==============

    My bad - Elder James Faust was Democrat.
    Elder Tanner was Canadian, making him Socialist.

    Either way, I admired them both.
    but I stand by my original premise, -- Not very Lock-Step with Utah Mromons.

    I apologize.

  • O'really Idaho Falls, ID
    Sept. 27, 2011 12:39 p.m.

    This is a ridiculous article in Harper's magazine. There is nothing in the gospel of Jesus Christ that encourages seeking material wealth. If a member of the LDS church is wealthy it is due to wise money management, ingenuity or luck OR simply because the Lord saw fit to prosper that person. And if that wealth corrupts an individual's spirituality, it's because of pride. NOT because of anything the church teaches.

  • BobP Port Alice, B.C.
    Sept. 27, 2011 12:12 p.m.

    N. Eldon Tanner was born in Utah but lived most of his life in Canada. He was Deputy Premier in a very right wing provincial Government in Alberta. He was at one time my Branch President in Edmonton.

  • bluejean Farmington, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 12:09 p.m.

    Featuring Mormons sells because of misinformed folklore, rumors and heresay. If everyone really gave them a fair shake, they might discover that most members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints [Mormons] are yes, a peculiar bunch. They are generally hard working, contributing members of society; a quite sane group of 14 million Christians, simply doing their best to follow Jesus Christ with their heart, might mind and strength. Vilifying them may sell papers but grossly misrepresents them. To the Mormons, The question is not WHO is right, but what is truth.

    Bottom Line: Can a Mormon actually become the president? If it ever happens, that individual will have been the most grossly over-debated, misreported and vetted candidate out there. Perhaps if Obama had recieved such scrutiny we wouldn't be in this mess today. Perhaps if all the candidates recieve such scrutiny a better president will emerge. Surely though, a vote for Mitt Romney or John Huntsman will be a brave vote.

  • Baccus0902 Leesburg, VA
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:43 a.m.

    My two cents:

    I don't know why Mr. Boyd gets so defensive in response to the Harper article.
    Yes, some of his doctrinal quotes are wrong. However, to the LDS church merit,
    Mormons in underdeveloped countries tend to progress socially and materially because of learning to live in search of progress, education, frugality, etc. If Harper magazine is accusing the LDS of promoting material progress among its members, I would take it as a compliment.

    On the other hand, when we read or hear the comments of "some" members of the LDS church. We can only cringe !!

    There are many self righteous who want to deny an education or livelihood to those children of God who are here undocumented.

    Others who feel justified to discriminate and deny benefit to those who don't share their perspective of life.

    The Church may have the noblest of doctrines. But, outsiders will judge the church not by its doctrine but the actions of the members they know or hear about.

  • Demisana South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:43 a.m.

    @paperboy111

    The church is neutral in politics, other than issues of morality or traditional family. When the prophet speaks on matters of doctrine, yep, that's not negotiable. Very little in politics is doctrinal.

    Personally my favorite GA on politics (and his political stuff was written many years before he became president of the Church) was Ezra Taft Benson.

  • Riles Midway, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:37 a.m.

    Russell M. Nelson gave a talk a while ago in conference where he said (paraphrasing from memory) "the time is soon coming when being a faithful latter-day saint will require us to endure a good amount of persecution".

    No big deal. We knew this was coming. I have no problem with responding to inaccurate attack pieces, but I also don't worry about it too much. It's like anything else, your perception of the reality about people changes when you actually sit down and talk with them.

    I wonder if the Harper's columnist has sat down and actually visited with any Mormons as research for his article. I highly doubt it...

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:26 a.m.

    paperboy111 | 11:15 a.m. Sept. 27, 2011
    Lindon, UT
    Members "are not obliged to think and act in lockstep."?

    This seems to fly in the face of what N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor to the President of the LDS church, who famously once said in the August 1979 edition of The Ensign Magazine; When the Prophet speaks the debate is over". I think most will agree; this is still the prevailing doctrine of the Church.

    ==================

    Elder N. Eldon Tanner [who I greatly admired] was also a Democrat.
    Not very Lock-Step in my opinion.

  • a bit of reality Shawnee Mission, KS
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:24 a.m.

    I believe the overall theme of the Book of Mormon is introduced in 1 Nephi 2:20: "inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall be led to a land of promise."

    Once they arrive in the land of promise, the promise is changed to, "Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land." Throughout the book, that promise is repeated over and over and over again, and the story of the Book is an illustration of the promise coming true over and over again.

    Yes, the book warns that you need to stay humble after you are rich, but that in no way contradicts the promise that the way to prosper in the first place is to keep God's commandments. If it isn't a prosperity gospel, what is it? A prosper-in-the-land gospel?

    I'm sure the Harper article didn't get everything right, but Mr. Boyd sounds like he's in a state of denile about what his scriptures teach.

  • paperboy111 Lindon, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:15 a.m.

    Members "are not obliged to think and act in lockstep."?

    This seems to fly in the face of what N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor to the President of the LDS church, who famously once said in the August 1979 edition of The Ensign Magazine; When the Prophet speaks the debate is over". I think most will agree; this is still the prevailing doctrine of the Church.

  • Filo Doughboy Bakersfield, CA
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:12 a.m.

    I found the article interesting, inaccurate in some areas, and insightful in others. As usual, the replies here reflect a similar cross-section as reflected in real LDS life. We have the uber-sensitive, the thoughtful pragmatist, the theologian, the ultra libs, the apologists, the constant whiners and the "crazies", (recognized by their grammatical ignorance of paragraph spacing). You can deduce a lot by just chronicling responses.

    Our world today is much more complex than the early 1900's, but cynicism and bigotry haven't disappeared completely. So much for moral evolution: Man still needs God, every generation still needs spiritual education and nurturing, and the message of Christ still brings new life for those who accept it. Utah has its scams and high suicide rates along with its great family life and success stories, just like the rest of the world. Those who live their religion by its true essence impact lives and seek to make the world a better place, just like any other demographic.

    I have been priveleged to live in both great LDS and evangelical communities. Those who were humble and loving made the difference, regardless of whether I ascribed to their creeds or not.

  • Darth Saber OZARK, AR
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:08 a.m.

    It seems that this Chris Lehmann has discovered that there are two LDS (Mormon) men seeking the Presidency, and has decided to invent some "dirt." The man displays his ignorance of the Latter-Day Saints quite well, and seems to be harboring a genuine sense of envy and jealousy toward LDS who are able to make money. I have never heard the accumulation of money ever preached anywhere in the Church. The LDS here are Democrats and Republicans, and each have genuine respect for the other. On the official news site for the LDS Church one will see an article entitled: "Political Neutrality." This is the Church's stand on politics. Politicians fear that the Mormons will vote as a block to elect either Romney or Huntsman to office. In an attempt to negate this, certain factions in politics hire reputable businesses such as Harper's to sway public opinion, in an attempt to negate perceived LDS influences. President Hinckley stated that the Church would become increasing unpopular, and have some "tight" places to go through; and we are seeing the fulfillment of this.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:06 a.m.

    What the Church Leaders have said about wealth, and what LDS scriptures say about the wealthy is one thing....
    So using those quotes in defense in this article is absolutely misleading.

    What LDS people DO (especially the Utah Mormons) is quite the opposite, and supports the Harper's article quite accurately.

  • dtlenox Olympia, WA
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:04 a.m.

    The Harper's article was obviously politically motivated. That's what political attacks are all about: twist information around with a negative spin to attack your political opponent. The classic democrat attack against republicans is to use the tired old argument of the "wealthy, selfish, republicans" vs the "poor, working, democrats". This article makes that same attack against the LDS church, in an attempt to attack Romney indirectly. This is exactly the type of attacking we can expect non-stop if Romney gets the GOP nomination.

  • Erika Salem, Utah
    Sept. 27, 2011 11:01 a.m.

    If Harper's condones such "objective" reporting, what else are they getting completely off the mark?

  • Sandy Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 10:31 a.m.

    Great rebuttal but who will see it? Pretty much only us and our local detractors/enemies.

    Who is going to make Harpers print a retraction? Where's the Teddy Roosevelt that will stand up to the lies and defend us this time?

    A poster on this board accused the author, Lehmann, of being a Democrat; but he's just as likely to be a conservative Republican Christian scared that a wealthy Mormon may end up at the top of the Republican ticket. Whatever he may be, he is sufficiently afraid of Latter-day Saints to perjure himself.

    I hold Harpers Magazine editors more responsible than the author, however. I never read this publication, so tell me, are they habitually in the tabloid business of misinformation and slander? If so, then we have less to worry about. But if not, who has the power to call them out?

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 10:25 a.m.

    The picture of the missionaries on the cover is RIDICULOUS. Are we going back to the days of "Mormonism Unvailed(sic)?"

    It's obvious that those responsible for this publication are either woefully ignorant about Mormons or they are deliberate deceivers. Which is it?

  • OHBU Columbus, OH
    Sept. 27, 2011 10:24 a.m.

    Ron1,

    I have lived in Ohio for many years now and have many conversations about religion. I can assure you, nobody believes Mormons have horns. That is the kind of story that Mormons like to relate to feel somehow unfairly persecuted.

    As to the doctrine of prosperity. While I don't think the church's doctrine is malicious in the way the article paints it, it's also not entirely untrue. Tithing lessons, even as written in the manuals, almost always strongly suggest that paying will lead to material blessings. From there it is a small leap to the idea that righteousness is related to wealth.

    I also believe it is undeniable that Mormons themselves tend to be very materialistic. I never thought so until I moved away from Utah for several years and then returned for a visit last summer. Fashion, cosmetics, cars, homes and yards are flaunted and heavily emphasized much more than in many other parts of the country. Certainly one can find examples like Los Angeles that are worse, but a state so heavily dominated by a Christian religion ought not to be in the same ballpark.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    Sept. 27, 2011 10:21 a.m.

    Great rebuttal, Mr. Boyd and it's an interesting collection of comments so far. I love Michael Otterson's comment, "there are six million Latter-day Saints now in the United States (about the same number as Jews), and another eight million worldwide, and they represent a growing cross section of ethnicity, demographics, cultural experiences, professions" and political sensibilities. Indeed, members "are not obliged to think and act in lockstep."

    I hope what he says is true. I believe it is.

    Mr. Lehmann's comments remind me of the simple minded Mormon haters in my dormitory in the 1970's. They were from the Caldwell, Idaho area and when I inquired about their disdain for Mormons they answered essentially this way, "Every time we drive past the Mormon churchhouse all we see are Mercedes'. Every county or state fair we attend, the Mormons are there with some kind of mmoney making booth."

    If you've been to Caldwell, Idaho you would be surprised to find ANY Mercedes, let alone a parking lot full of them. But as has been stated previously in these comments, some people fear religion, faith and prosperity, regardless of it's positive elements or how it was acquired. Thanks for article DN.

  • Al Thepal Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 10:05 a.m.

    Mr. Boyd, your article is one of the most excellent I have read in a long time. I am glad the DN has the man power, and excellent writers such as yourself, to write such thigs.

    eastcoastcoug (6:46 am), although I agree that many LDS people individually put WAY too much emphasis on material possessions, I don't think that mission presidents tending to be rich (successful) people is a bad thing at all.

    First of all, Mission Presidents tend to be rich more often than not because they finance the costs of their mission by themselves, and need to have the ability to pay for being away from work for 3 years. So although there are many people who would make good mission presidents otherwise, they cannot be called as mission presidents because they either cannot afford to pay for the required expenses due to the lack of accumulation of wealth or they cannot afford to be away from work for an extended period of time.

    Also, someone who has been successful in there career (business or otherwise) will tend to be able to manage a mission better. There of course can be exceptions.

  • BobP Port Alice, B.C.
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:59 a.m.

    A number of years back my income level was such that I paid more tithing than most people make. It was nice while it lasted. I went broke in a business venture that failed.

    I made a part of it back, after age 60. Does that mean I am overly interested in accumulating wealth? I don't think so.

    The Harper's article was just a cheap hatchet job.

  • Jeffrey Wilbur Eagle Mountain, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:56 a.m.

    A Mormon apologist article published in the Deseret News? Color me shocked!

    Sarcasm aside, while Mormonism is certainly not a "gospel of prosperity", I don't think any practicing Mormon can deny that there is certainly a strong mentality permeating through the church that righteousness is equatable with a person's level of righteousness. The mentality exists that if a person lives "correctly" they will be blessed with materialistic blessings in this life, which is completely not consistent with the Gospel as Christ taught.

    And it's not consistent with the literal Gospel that exists in Mormon doctrine, either, but it certainly is with the mindset of many members.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:51 a.m.

    So on one hand, you have stories like this about the LDS Church is obsessed with acquiring wealth.

    On the other hand, you have articles that accuse the LDS Church of propping up its growth by flooding 3rd-world countries with missionaries and baptizing scores of the poor and uneducated.

    So which is it? Are we concerned about wealth and prosperity, or inflating our numbers by proselyting to the poor? FYI, there are only a handful of countries where the LDS Church is self-sufficient. The church in the vast majority of countries is only kept afloat by transferring surpluses from other nations. If the LDS Church were concerned about the wealth of its members, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't see such a huge missionary effort in places like Latin America.

    You can't have your cake and eat it too, though our critics seem to try.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:50 a.m.

    Instereo
    Not sure what article you read but this one is NOT about the CHURCHS wealth buta claim that the Church teaches its members that you must be wealthy to be righteous. Something the Church does not teach.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:50 a.m.

    @eastcoastcoug
    "and people have the idea we are primarily a right-wing bloc. "

    According to a Gallup survey of LDS members, 7% self-describe as liberal, 1% very liberal. People have the idea that the LDS church is primarily a right-wing bloc because it is the most right-wing religion in America in terms of what the members are. If you take their numbers that 79% of LDS members are active and 20% of inactive LDS members are liberal, you can calcuate that 50% of LDS liberals are inactive.

  • KurtFK Littleton, CO
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:49 a.m.

    The Law of Consecration (which very few of us actually live in its fulness) teaches us that all things belong to God, but he will grant to us "sufficient for our needs". Unfortunately, there ARE a lot of Mormons who subscribe to the "religion of prosperity" theology. Brigham Young and Hugh Nibley, among others, railed against this false doctrine. In "We will still weep for Zion" (and elsewhere), Brother Nibley describes how the Saints in every generation, from Kirtland to Missouri to Nauvoo to Salt Lake and on, have fallen prey to get rich quick schemes, with disastrous results. That the Mormons as a group tend to be well-off does not necessarily mean we have drunk this Koolaid, but you can't blame people for believing we do. I mean, that is how the world thinks.

  • Andermart Pullman, WA
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:44 a.m.

    Make no mistake about it. The work of the Lord cannot advance as well without the assets needed to carry the message forward. You cannot provide for the poor without money. You cannot build chapels without money. You cannot print scriptures without money. Money is not evil. What is evil is the love of money wherein you cannot be bothered to give back through paying of ones tithes and offerings, and through otherwise contributing to bless the lives of those in need.

    One thing the Church does preach against is debt, and the importance of living within ones income. We as Mormons have not been stellar at that. I would bet, if I were a betting man, there will yet be another caution about living within ones income this very weekend.

    But in spite of all of that, there are some very wealthy members of the Church. I am grateful that many of them use their vast resources to bless the lives of others. I know one man who is using his wealth to teach millions of others how to farm, and is feeding them while they learn. Hurray for such examples.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:42 a.m.

    There is a sizable chunk of LDS members who this applies to, but it doesnt' apply to the church. The people who want more tax cuts paid for with spending cuts to only things that don't affect them. The people who are against welfare, unemployment insurance (despite being something people pay into when they're working), getting heatlhcare access to everyone in an affordable way, or in other words... this doesn't describe LDS members at all... it describes conservatives.

  • KC Mormon Edgerton, KS
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:35 a.m.

    Chachi
    While it is true that we do not pray like in the picture or use money as book marks as in the picture if you have ever seen an original copy (or a replica First ecition) of the Book of Mormon they are Orange as in the picture. Infact thyere have been many covers over he years for the Book of Mormon orange, red, gold, blue, blue with a picture of Moroni on it just to name a few.

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:30 a.m.

    It sounds to me, not having read the harper article, that the author completely misinterpreted The Book of Mormon, while clearly observing contemporary LDS cutlure. First, let's take note - the Church maintains a ridiculously lucrative "for-Profit" side, as one commenter noted. The finances are managed as privately as possible, even against the view of its contributing members. It is able to invest BILLIONS into the development of a for profit shopping mall, that would by all accounts sell the wares of "fine-twined linens and precious apparell" condemned in the Book of Mormon. The BoM condemns all worldly means of separating society into class systems through the control of wealth, and yet as an aggressive participant in the business sector it is impossible for the Church to do anything but advance this agenda. Sure, they give their alms on Sunday when everyone is watching (DN is the first to report when the Church administers relief), but they are seeking wealth the other six days. Jesus told the Rich Man to sell ALL that he had to enter the kingdom, where as the Mormon Kingdom is just a place to buy it would seem.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:26 a.m.

    Esquire: To say that the Democrats are the party of the people is a strange declaration. I'm part of the 'people', but see no value in 'people' who want someone else to do the heavy work of charity (government and taxes) rather than themselves (Who is my neighbor?). I am very suspicious of 'people' who feel the need to compel (through the power of the government) others how they shall spend their money, which in many cases includes charity to those less fortunate. Government is the most distasteful manner to help anyone. Compelling anyone to do something distasteful is abhorrent and anethema to an eternal principle, free choice! I'll vote for any man or women that holds sacred that important principle, something that most 'people', whether Democrat or Republican, fear has been threatened by a patronizing, intrusive, and power hungry government that loves compulsion

  • ClarkKent Bountiful, Utah
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:25 a.m.

    I'd like to know the percentage of the present day General Authorities in the church who are not what most would consider to be wealthy (compared to the general population in the community from which they were chosen). I'd guess it is a very low percentage. Leadership in any organization sets the stage for its members.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:16 a.m.

    The purpose of religion is the enslavement of the minds of men. It is much cheaper than military conquest and much more effective. All you have to have is a good story about life after death. The reason for religion is to gain and control the wealth of the world.

    The most prime driving force in all life is to survive. It is that force that causes life forms to seek out every avenue, every nook and cranny, to extend it's existence. It is behind every strategy of every life form that exists.

    Because we have the ability to think, humans are subject to the additional ploy of the possibility of life after death. The internal hunger is so strong that we will grasp at any straw that sounds plausible. It is this nature of man that makes him vulnerable to the life after death stories.

    Even so, life is better for man if he is at peace with his future. It doesn't really matter whether it's true or not, all that matters is that he believes.

  • Barticus PROVO, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:13 a.m.

    Don't group Brother Skousen in with Glenn Beck just because Beck recommends his books. They are on a totally different level. W. Cleon Skousen was friends with many prophets and apostles. I do agree with you that you shouldn't judge the whole church by what one member says.

  • Kami Bountiful, Utah
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:08 a.m.

    "Lehmann is correct in stating that members of the LDS faith believe in principles of self-reliance and frugality. For example, a leading authority of the LDS Church, Elder Robert D. Hales, of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught in a 2009 address: "To provide providently, we must practice the principles of provident living: joyfully living within our means, being content with what we have, avoiding excessive debt, and diligently saving and preparing for rainy-day emergencies.""

    Perhaps a study should be done to determine whether members are practicing what they preach. Utah has one of the highest percentages for personal bankrupty filings and has been for YEARS, way before anyone could blame bankruptcy on the economy.

  • justamacguy Manti, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:07 a.m.

    There is nothing wrong with acquiring wealth... It's how you use it that counts.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:06 a.m.

    Who reads Harper's anyway? I haven't picked one up for 30 years (at least). to call it influential is a bit over the top. This article is so typical of the far left and their unwillingness to do proper research. Oh by the way Marxist, you can be a good member of the church. Just watch out for the Mormon Mafia watching every move you make.

  • FDRfan safety dictates, ID
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:04 a.m.

    "In the case of Glenn Beck and W. Cleon Skousen, neither is a spokesman for the church nor are they authorized to declare official church doctrines."

    I love this article but somehow the above message is not getting to the trough in many member's mind. They believe that these individuals do express the view of the Church - though unofficially. How unfortunate.

    I wish we could have a similar article concerning Israel and Abraham's other descendants. It seems to me that there is some misunderstanding concerning the covenant seed and the literal seed. I don't think Glen Beck is speaking for the Church here either.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Sept. 27, 2011 9:00 a.m.

    To Marxist:
    Does the Church disapprove of social security? No position.
    Does the Church disapprove of medicare? No position.
    Does the Church disapprove of so-called Obamacare? No position.
    Does the Church believe in any kind of governmental safety net. No position.
    May a socialist be a member in good standing in the LDS Church? Yes. You may want to look up the United Order. In 1900 Utah was the most socialistic state in the US. The LDS view of soviet-era communism is that it was coercive and it was the devil's version of the United Order.

    I get leery of the government coming in to do things. I don't think the government is evil, I just worry about the competence.

    But, if you pull a socialist aside and ask him about his views he is going to come back and say that we should all work together. Mormons will send money to 3rd world countries to provide education loans to members to get an education then they pay that off. The Mormon view of Zion, is of a society where there were no poor because the people worked together to overcome poverty.

  • Everest American Fork, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:59 a.m.

    The reality is AMERICA is a money-loving, even downright greedy culture. Mormons who live here, like most other Americans, easily fall victim to that great and spacious temptation - not because of Mormon doctrine, but in spite of it.

  • Tekakaromatagi Dammam, Saudi Arabia
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:45 a.m.

    I think that the Harper's article is an indication how diversity has failed. People cannot look over a relatively small cultural barrier without making large extrapolations. It wouldn't hurt to go and ask a Mormon, "I heard this, is this correct?" We are here and available and we speak English too. We aren't like the ancient Mayans where all one can go on is archaeology.

  • watcher@75 SMITHFIELD, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:38 a.m.

    Anyone who watches a devout LDS person will witness a man or woman striving for self-improvement. Such a person intently focused on one day achieving perfection will undoubtedly demonstrate hard work, persistence, resilience, self-discipline, and service to mankind. These are the building blocks of wealth. However, wealth, in the mind of this individual, will not be measured by money - gold, silver, jewels, etc - alone. Wealth becomes an all inclusive quality of life product where riches of the earth are but one means to an end. Many LDS members who, without abundant bank accounts or limited worldly possessions, demonstrate a richness of life completely foreign to and out-of-sync with an aristocratic mentality. Give the LDS people their due. Credit them for the wonders they perform often with nothing more than the sweat of their face, the talents of their hands, and the ingenuity of their spiritual life.

  • Z South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:36 a.m.

    Do some Latter-Day Saints over-emphasize the accumulation of worldly wealth? Sure they do. So do some Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Protestants, etc. That doesn't mean that any of their respective doctrine teaches them to accumulate wealth, that only means that each of us is in a different place in our own quest to be a little less selfish and worldly. For some of us it takes an entire lifetime; others don't need quite as much persuasion.

  • Instereo Eureka, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:17 a.m.

    I think it's interesting that both the Harpers article and the rebutal are talking about something that we have no knowledge about, just speculation. Why is it speculation on both parts? Because the financial records of the church are not open even to members of the church. In otherwords the actual amount of money we are talking about is a number only a very few people know and they aren't talking.

    So in Utah we complain about taxes which we can get an accounting of but willingly pay tithes where we accept with faith they are used "rightously." It's not that I don't trust chruch officials, I'm sure they work hard to be honest and frugal with tithes but I do have a problem where we are speculating about the financial status of the church because of a closed secret system.

    Because financial matters are so secret in the church it's little wonder there are articles about the money the church has. You only have to "guess" based on 10% of income and the number of members and use an average income to realize the church has a lot of money. It would be better to be open.

  • BoomerJeff Saint George, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:13 a.m.

    I'm Mormon and I tend to pray like the pictures show when on my knees. Sometimes I'll interlock my fingers. What's wrong with praying like that?

  • Cats Somewhere in Time, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:13 a.m.

    Dear Marxist: The Church has made it VERY clear for many years that we will be blessed if we rely on ourselves and NOT on the government. The Church always states things in a very tactful way, but the message is clear. We are to rely on ourselves, our families and the Church when in need and in that order. We are strongly discouraged from accepting government "handouts." Social Security is a program that we all pay into and so therefore can accept from--at least that's how it works in theory.

    Can a socialist be a member in good standing? Yes, but you have essentially adopted two competing philosophies if you do. The Church advocates small government and self sufficiency. That would obviously preclude big government entitlement programs.

    Many Church publications (The New book just recently disseminated to the Relief Society is a good example) make it QUITE CLEAR that we are to rely on ourselves and not government. Most members of the Church get this as it is abundantly clear. Unfortunately, there are a few who still do not.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:06 a.m.

    Marxist:

    I've lived in Europe for many years and in several countries - there are members in good standing of all political stripes. The Church today is a global organization and takes no stand on political issues, except perhaps on those that infringe on free exercise of religion or where the family is re-defined. Contrast that with many other faiths where the minister invites members of one party to stand a the pulpit to campaign and then makes official endorsements.

    I do want to caution those of you in the Mtn West - I think if we are to be good missionaries and "Saints" we need to be more sensitive to those of all political persuasions and follow the lead of our Prophet in the matter. What we say (and write, blog, etc.) gets out into the mainstream and people have the idea we are primarily a right-wing bloc.

  • BrianS Martinsburg, WV
    Sept. 27, 2011 8:05 a.m.

    It is not a culture of wealth equals righteousness that leads to wealthy leadership, but one of reason. The days of asking men to leave their homes to go on 5 year missions are gone. The days of leaving family behind to fend for themselves are over. Young and senior missionaries are expected to have debts in order before they go on missions. And the number of self sufficient families and interdependent communities are very small. How many of us could accept a call that would take us from our homes for long periods? How many have jobs that would make it possible. So yes, our leaders are often successful men who can leave law or medical practice, and have savings and no debt. But look at our bishops, and stake presidents. Are they all wealthy? No.
    And look at the growing number of international leaders in the Quorums of 70s.
    I am sure they are not all wealthy. But coming from a culture of living on less (not like the American culture)they have no debt, and can accept these callings. Honestly, even if I felt worthy for such I calling, because of debt I could not accept one.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:55 a.m.

    Exactly right, Esquire. Mormonism is one of the most (not the most) materialistic cultures I have ever encountered. Most religious cultures have behaviors that are not supported, or in direct contrast to their stated doctrines. The catholic culture certainly does, most protestant cultures do. The Jewish culture seems to have a flexibility that deals with dissent, whether overt or covert.

    This is the Mormons blindside. While told to live in the world but not be of the world they fail miserably when it comes to wealth accumulation and the out right adoration of wealth.

    Most Mormons do adhere pretty closely to stated doctrine all their lives. They don't drink, don't swear (excessively)don't covet their neighbors wife etc. etc., but covet wealth please! Not room here to state the evidence, but look around at how the businesses that cater to the flaunting of wealth thrive in Utah.

    What one says and what one does is very different sometimes.

  • Richard Larson Holladay, ut
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:54 a.m.

    I am waiting for the Mormon Defense League to step in
    and clarify this for everybody.

  • Demisana South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:48 a.m.

    Leaders in the church don't get called because they are rich. But, most poor people would not be in a position to accept such a calling. How many poor people would be able to leave their jobs to take a full time church position, in the middle of their most productive years? Also, most of the leaders of the church are well educated. As they will be traveling extensively, meeting with leaders of other countries, speaking constantly, such education is very valuable in preparing them for those duties. How many poor people are well educated?

    As for their finances - well, you combine gospel principles of frugality, prudence, wise stewardship, with a good education and a talented person, yes, many of them have prospered. It's not that we teach people to get rich - but such results are more of a natural consequence. Let's not commit the sin of envy, but rather seek to get our own financial houses in order.

  • flatlander Omaha, NE
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:35 a.m.

    I think both the Harper's writer and the stern rebuttal missed the point. While there is no official doctrine on wealth, it sure seems that Mormon's are victims of get rich quick scams at a high rate (if I recall right even the Osmonds got fleeced). It is very apparent that the leadership is made up of successful doctors, lawyers, businessmen and while there are a few church employees in the mix, when was the last time a plumber was called.

  • DonO Draper, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:33 a.m.

    It amazes me that journalists continue with impunity to misrepresent Mormon doctrine. It's politically incorrect to say anything negative, let alone derogatory, about Muslims, Jews, even Evangelicals. But Mormons are fair game to anyone who gets the yen to take cheap shots based on carefully selected or outright fabricated "facts". The Mormons have their apologists in academia, and their chief public affairs officer will occasionally blog about mistreatment, but I think they need someone who's willing to stand up in a higher profile way and cry "baloney" when it's warranted. They're spending millions on advertising, why not invest in knocking down obviously fallacious and often salacious "reporting?"

  • Blue Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:32 a.m.

    This editorial reminds me of the old truism, "It is the hit bird that flutters."

  • ArizonaDad flagstaff, AZ
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:03 a.m.

    To Marxist:

    Simple answers to your simple, and presumably sincere questions:

    No.
    No.
    No.
    Yes.
    Yes.

    You're welcome.

  • tyndale1 Pullman, WA
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:01 a.m.

    It is not uncommon for those who might be antagonistic to quote references out of context, such as this great sermon against pride and on giving to others from the Book of Mormon in Jacob 2. I remember best the next two verses which the magazine didn't mention, because I was asked to memorize them as a youth.

    Everyone in the Church knows that whatever we are blessed with in this life should be used "for the intent to do good to clothe the naked, and to feed the hungry, and to liberate the captive, and administer relief to the sick and the afflicted."

    The vast majority of LDS faithful are just two days removed from personally skipping two meals and donating several times the cost of those missed meals to the poor and needy. We call it a fast offering, and it is substantial. I invite all men everywhere to join with us in just such a crusade to end poverty and to bless the lives of those who have been hard hit in our current distressful financial straits.

    And the cover picture in this article - where on earth did that come from?

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 7:01 a.m.

    This article is a stunning piece of apoligy. Yes, the teachings of the scriptures and apostles has been against accumulating the things of this world, but in practice, it is quite another story. The practice of the members of the Church is in fact one of a Gospel of Prosperity. I've heard many times over the decades the tie between righteousness and wealth. It cannot be denied that it is widespread in the culture. And to roll out Sen. Reid and Hugh Nibley is a shocking use of manipulative propaganda. Reid is principled and his statement should be seriously considered as it is a long standing principle that the Democrats are the party of the people, not of business. Yet, Reid and his party are reviled by large swaths of the LDS community, in part because of their commitment to helping the less affluent. It used to be different. But look at the Church PR, and you will see that the image of affluence is portrayed. I suspect the truth is somewhere in the middle, but affluence is seen as a sign of righteousness in LDS society and culture, despite the teachings of the Gospel. No denial of it.

  • Swedish reader Stockholm, Sweden
    Sept. 27, 2011 6:50 a.m.

    This is only the beginning. If Mitt Romney becomes a presidential candidate (and certainly if he is elected) more malicious stuff will be published. We as Mormons will have to show others by the way we behave that this kind of ill-willed misrepresentation isn't true. It amazes me that a magazine such as Harper's don't check out the facts better before they publish something. In Sweden, where I live, the editor of a magazine or newspaper is legally responsible for what is printed in it. If I were the editor, I'd be very reluctant to publish something so obviously non-objective, no matter who it's about. Oh, and by the way "marxist": the Church isn't opposed to social security or any form of joint funding of medical care, nor does it propagate for them. We are encouraged to use our own judgement is the way we vote and to remember the Saviour's teachings on how to treat others. Read Matthew 25 to see how he said to treat the poor and the ill.

  • eastcoastcoug Danbury, CT
    Sept. 27, 2011 6:46 a.m.

    I don't agree at all with the doctrinal or visual premise of Lehmann's article (Lehmann means "someone in charge of a fiefdom). But I will say however that there is a very visible segment of our culture that places an inordinate importance on riches and wealth as a sign of righteousness. Look at how we promote the Huntsmans, Marriotts, etc. in our media and conversations. How many Stake and Mission Presidents are successful, wealthy businessmen ? Our leaders tend to be on the rich side. Take a look at the HUGE houses on the Wasatch Front and the obsession in our youth with expensive style and fashion. I am astounded whenever I meet a youth group from Utah or SL counties at the clothes and fashion.

    Maybe you don't see it anymore, if you live on the Wasatch Front, but the evolution into a wealth-obsessed society is apparent from the outside. I don't believe our scriptures or leaders promote wealth for one second, but many of the rest of us do.

    I think a little healthy introspection on "where would he get such an idea" could be a healthy one...

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 6:22 a.m.

    Faith is a scary thing to those who fear. Religion has not always arrested the wicked parts of human nature. I think the fear and mistrust of mormonism is understandable and forgiveable--and most mormons love to forgive and forget.

    Most of us just want to be ourselves.

    Articles that mischaracterize my beliefs do so because they have an underlying agenda in conflict with my personal beliefs. The curious thing they never comprehend: The same rights that give me the chance to disagree peaceably with them, are the same rights that give them the chance to hold to their beliefs.

    Personal agendae should be brought to light, not hidden behind sensational attacks. Why do certain political/social/religious factions mischaracterize mormons?

    Because we don't need them, we don't "need" to buy their products, we don't validate their worldview. Their power and influence does not "need to" affect us. We could go on living our lives, they could cease to exist and we would go on happily without them.

    We offer a viable alternative--and that's threatening.

    Ultimately attackers only expose the weakness of their own agenda.

    The tragedy, then, are those who buy the attacker's lies.

    Prayers for them.

  • Chachi Charlottesville, VA
    Sept. 27, 2011 6:17 a.m.

    Hopefully the average Harpers reader is astute enough to tell propaganda when s/he sees it. This article does a good job of pointing out some of its inaccuracies.

    And look at the cover illustration--complete invention! Mormons don't pray like that, if they're supposed to be missionaries they ought to have name tags, and I know of no church publication that resembles that red book they're all holding as if it were the Book of Mormon or the Bible.

  • dtday2003 Monterey, CA
    Sept. 27, 2011 3:37 a.m.

    Marxist - The church has no official stance on any of the things you mentioned. They are for the eternal salvation of our souls, not for politics. They stress self-reliance, living within your means, and helping the poor. The church has its own welfare system that is available to members if needed and if the members seek to utilize it. They have no stance on members using Government welfare programs, other than try to be self-sufficient. And, yes, you can be a socialist and in good standing in the church. There are many members who are.

  • johnhenry APO, AP
    Sept. 27, 2011 12:56 a.m.

    kiaoraguy: Yeah! When I was stationed in Germany, even one little girl, perhaps just 6 years old, already knew that Latter-day Saints prayed a big differently than displayed on that cover. She demonstrated to her principal "arms crossed in prayer."

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    Sept. 27, 2011 12:26 a.m.

    Hmmmmm. Let me guess. I think Mr. Lehmann just might be a democrat.

  • marxist Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 27, 2011 12:10 a.m.

    Well, in light of this discussion I would like some simple yes or no answers. Does the Church disapprove of social security? Does the Church disapprove of medicare? Does the Church disapprove of so-called Obamacare? Does the Church believe in any kind of governmental safety net. May a socialist be a member in good standing in the LDS Church?

  • mo320 TUCSON, AZ
    Sept. 26, 2011 11:51 p.m.

    You did a fine job clarifying the inconsistencies of magazines's article, I appreciate that.

  • mo320 TUCSON, AZ
    Sept. 26, 2011 11:48 p.m.

    The current state of the press wouldn't be in such a mess if every reporter, in this country and elsewhere, took the time to just do a little research before they publish their articles. Thank you Mr. Boyd.

  • daveb Sandy, UT
    Sept. 26, 2011 11:41 p.m.

    This article, and others like it, is benefiting by the debate over it. It is not worth taking the time to publish an editorial about an editorial that only a VERY small fraction of the population will ever see. The online version is not even available to the general public without a subscription to the magazine. Why give them free publicity?

  • Digbads South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 26, 2011 11:34 p.m.

    Its hard to help others, if you can't get your own financial house in order.

  • Emajor Ogden, UT
    Sept. 26, 2011 11:14 p.m.

    A fine response, Mr. Boyd.

    Mr. Lehmann is indeed off if he thinks LDS scripture encourages personal acquisition of wealth as a virtue. I don't think I can count the number of times the Book of Mormon instructs its followers to give freely to the poor and to not become obnoxious about wealth.

    Which is all the more baffling to me that so many LDS members seem to admire material wealth & those who have it, and place the wants of the rich over the needs of the poor. I've read LDS scriptures cover to cover. The Tea Party plank of self reliance is in there, but the rotten board of money worship and social Darwinism sure isn't.

  • Hawkyo SYRACUSE, UT
    Sept. 26, 2011 10:52 p.m.

    There is no freedom like owing nothing to a creditor.

  • MurrayMike Murray, UT
    Sept. 26, 2011 10:29 p.m.

    Whether you're Mormon or Catholic it's the person, not the religious institution the wants to accumulate wealth. We as people put money ahead of the welfare of others or our own salvation. I worked for a millionaire in California that was a devout Baptist, the guy didn't donate a penny to his church, said, " they have enough money". I also worked for a part owner of a engineering firm, he'd come into my office each month a day early asking for his distribution check, although a mormon the guy spent every penny he earned it seemed.

    Regardless of religion, faith or agnosticism, it's just common sense to be debt-free. I'm 55 and I just paid off my house and I have such a feeling of relief.

  • MollyMormon Salt Lake City, UT
    Sept. 26, 2011 8:59 p.m.

    @Hutterite

    Yeah it does cost a lot of money to "have the horsepower on hand to create a rebuttal to every negative press article"--so thank goodness for the FOR-Profit side of the Church like Deseret News. Which, by the way, you just helped support by reading the article and clicking though its five pages.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    Sept. 26, 2011 8:29 p.m.

    It costs a lot to have the horsepower on hand to create a rebuttal to every negative press article.

  • kiaoraguy Provo, UT
    Sept. 26, 2011 8:26 p.m.

    You can tell by the cover art that the Magazine really knows it's subject-not!

  • Ron1 Layton, UT
    Sept. 26, 2011 8:08 p.m.

    Some of my neighbors in Ohio still believe Mormons have horns. Strange, must be no Mormons around here (I am in Ogden, UT right now) and our landlord must be lying about being a Mormon since I have seen no horns (other than on cars, bikes or noisemaker types) since I have been coming here.

  • BYR Woods Cross, UT
    Sept. 26, 2011 7:45 p.m.

    Well, to whom do I give this months love gift? Oh, wait, already did. Nevermind.