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In our opinion: 'MormonLeaks' have unintended consequences for democracy

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  • bamafone Salem, UT
    Jan. 15, 2017 3:56 p.m.

    There is an old saying, sometimes the hunter can become the hunted.

  • caljimw Orem, UT
    Jan. 15, 2017 10:24 a.m.

    It is amusing how many of the published comments criticize the Deseret News, characterizing it as being one sided in what it prints.
    One writer mentioned the Church making members pay tithing. Funny. Doesn't the 16th century King James Version of the Old Testament say something about tithing?

  • mohrman Payson, UT
    Jan. 15, 2017 10:14 a.m.

    Today in Sunday School, we will talk about JSH 1...how interesting it starts like this "Owing to the many reports which have been put in circulation by evil-disposed and designing persons, in relation to the rise and progress of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all of which have been designed by the authors thereof to militate against its character as a Church and its progress in the world"...nothing has changed with those who think they can destroy the Church. No matter what is released or shared, it will be attacked. To those who want to know what the Church represents, they publish much including about stipends etc...if a person takes the time to study instead of just repeating talking points from those who think they have some secrets to tear the Church down. The truest irony is that if a person really loves Jesus Christ, how does bashing and tearing down represent His teachings? Easy to pick and choose comments and then use it to show negative but in the true context and teachings of the Church, it is filled with faith, hope and charity. To those who attack, what hope and charity and faith do you offer in return?

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Jan. 15, 2017 9:34 a.m.

    It is just the tip of the iceberg.

  • Strider303 Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 15, 2017 8:27 a.m.

    A church I don't support, or agree with, and about which I know almost nothing about does something I don't like and I want it to conform to my way of thinking.

    That about sums this whole matter up to me.

  • Tumbleweed Centerville, UT
    Jan. 15, 2017 1:34 a.m.

    As a member of the LDS Church, I could care less how much the stipend is. Rather, I thank God for what the Church has meant to me and my family during my 44 years as a member and the good the Lord accomplishes in the world with the help of the Church's faithful members, including Church leaders. I'm grateful for the undeniably powerful spirit that emanates from the pages of the Book of Mormon that helps me understand the Bible better and the wisdom the Lord shares with us through living prophets and apostles. How can I pray for the success of these brethren while feeling envy because the Lord blesses them with a means of caring for themselves and their families?

  • ifixpcs St George, UT
    Jan. 14, 2017 6:14 a.m.

    Most churches open their books to the members and are completely transparent with their finances. I can know what the pastor's in my church earn and were every cent is spent. When an organization is not forthcoming with their finances, it gives the appearance of them trying to hide something. All we're asking is that the LDS church be transparent with their finances. If there's nothing to hide, then why should it matter?

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 12, 2017 9:06 p.m.

    "Unintended consequences for democracy".
    Perhaps religious would operate better if it were a democracy. Certainly transparency would be better.
    Why does the dnews and the LDS church believe transparency is a bad thing?

  • Azagthoth Clearfield, UT
    Jan. 12, 2017 2:14 p.m.

    Any organization that claims to act in stead for a God should have no trouble making their financials crystal clear to their members. The lack of doing so may not be proof of wrongdoing, but it sure has the appearance of it.

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Jan. 12, 2017 11:45 a.m.

    The Book of Mormon warns that our DEMOCRACY and nation will be destroyed by Gadiantons, Secret Combinations, Pride and Greed. [sort of like we see happening in Washington right now - and getting worse over the next 4 years...]

    Nothing in there warning about Democracy being destroyed over Mormonleaks and General Authority's stipends...

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    Jan. 12, 2017 8:50 a.m.

    MDMCA you ought to listen to an old talk from Matthew Cowley, and being from New Zealand, you should be familiar with him.

    In that talk he talks all about his living allowance and other things, including a new car every year from a local dealer. He stated in that talk that he was living the law of consecration. He was a lawyer by trade but never got the chance to establish a practice or practice law for very long. How was he supposed to live? Beg on the streets? He didn't have any money.

    As for these "leaks" nothing earthshanking in these "revelations".

  • UtahBlueDevil Lehi Ut & Durham, NC
    Jan. 12, 2017 7:31 a.m.

    "That's a HUGE commitment for families earning far less than the amount the GAs are receiving in their paychecks. Investigators have the right to know how leadership is compensated."

    The funny thing is that the compensation rates by which church leaders are being paid is very modest compared to other religions. I don't see any issues with what they are being paid, and as in the private world, individuals compensation should be a private issue.

    In North Carolina public servants​ pay is public information. From the Govoner to the classroom teacher, all that pay information is public. People know where and how the state's funds are being spent.

    I don't think the church needs to be disclosing micro level budgetary information. I would like to see it be more transparent at the macro level - what percentage is spent on operations, what percent is allocated to building construction and maintenance, and what is spent on charitable causes. I think members would like to see how their leaders are spending the Lords money. At that is what it is.... not the Churches money... but the Lords money.

  • UtahBlueDevil Lehi Ut & Durham, NC
    Jan. 12, 2017 7:19 a.m.

    DN.... where was your outrage over the leaks of Democrat Party documents? Is the leaking of documents only an issue when it pertains to one group, and not another? I have no issues with complaints about private documents being leaked via the media. The public's need to know does not justify the invasion of privacy, when no law is being broken. But to selectively have outrage....

    That said, any organization that operates using the Lord as its reason-d-etre must absolutely live transparently. I don't quite understand anything done in the Lord's name that should not be able to be subject to even the most stringent scrutiny.

    As we tell our kids, if you have to do something in secret rather in public, you ought to really reconsider if you should be doing it at all.

  • MDMCA New Zealand, 00
    Jan. 12, 2017 12:51 a.m.

    Those referring to the 1985 talk by GBH can't be serious that the 44 words used to say that GAs receive a stipend constitutes a presentation of the issue. The 44 words 31 years ago were made as an aside in a wide ranging talk.

    Less time should be spent on defending the payments and scratching around for references to stipends and more time discussing the lack of transparency in financial matters. The LDS movement used to publish financial reports until 1959 and then stopped. Why was that? Did the membership approve the change?

    So long as the hierarchy treats members contemptuously through the suppression of information there will be continued problems. The hierarchy's behaviour thus leads to a self-perpetuation of the sense of persecution. A discovery of a problem leads to negative comments which leads to a sense of persecution which leads to a doubling down on the suppression of information.

  • Don Manolo Ogden, UT
    Jan. 11, 2017 8:47 p.m.

    The comments here reveal the same pattern we've seen before with things like Joseph's polyandry, the magic stones, and so much more. First, people deny it. Then, they say that it's OK, it doesn't affect their testimony. Finally, they say that they always knew it because an obscure article from 50 years ago said something about the subject, so no biggie.

    This thread alone is worth a sociological study.

  • The True Open Minded Mormon Draper, UT
    Jan. 11, 2017 6:17 p.m.

    non issue. nothing to see here folks. the financials of the church could be posted online in real-time and it wouldn't be enough for people.

    these folks will go away as anonymously as they arrived.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    Jan. 11, 2017 6:00 p.m.

    As a public employee I say any tax exempt or private entity doing business with the government should have the same transparency that I have. I welcome the information...

  • Jeremiah S Hamilton, OH
    Jan. 11, 2017 5:06 p.m.

    I think it's OK for GAs to receive a modest stipend from the Church.

    But nobody can tell me that $120K is modest. Tell that to members scraping to pay tithing in Guatemala.

    And if it is argued that these men were millionaires before they were called, why the need for a stipend?

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    Jan. 11, 2017 4:18 p.m.

    These "leaks" haven't produced anything earth-shattering. It certainly means nothing to me.

    But from a philosophical level, if the salaries of individuals who work for government or taxpayer funded entities are publicly available - even if the funds used for their salaries are not tax-funded, at all - then maybe the salaries and other financial information on tax-exempt organizations should be public knowledge, as well?

    For example, if some well advertised charity - eg, a children's cancer charity - gets a lot of donations that are deducted from millions of people's taxes, does the public have an interest in knowing if their executives are getting paid exorbitant salaries?

    What about defense contractors? What about FEMA contractors?

  • Laozi Stanford, CA
    Jan. 11, 2017 3:45 p.m.

    If there were nothing problematic in the releases, there would be no problem.

    The church says that it is natural that GAs get compensation and that everyone basically knew that. If that is true, the releases do no harm.

    The church says that decisions are made through inspiration and study. If that is true, and was reflected in the released videotapes of briefings on public issues, there is no problem. The only difficulty arises if the behavior of the apostles as captured on those tapes contradicts the image that the church has projected over the decades.

    This has nothing to do with democracy. The church has stated on many occasions that it is not a democracy. The claim of harm is therefore a canard.

    The question is whether the releases embarrass the church by revealing things contrary to church claims. Apparently the church feels that they do.

    The irony, of course, is that by publishing an article on this topic and advancing the patently absurd notion that shining light on a non-democracy hurts democracy, the DN and the church merely bring more attention to the releases. Watch the number of page views at MormonLeaks now spike upward.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Jan. 11, 2017 3:30 p.m.

    Trust but verify.

    Wise words.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    Jan. 11, 2017 1:35 p.m.

    I have known for most of my 41 years in the church that the general authorities had a stipend. Also, Gordon B. Hinckley addressed this (one of many issues) in a talk titled "Questions and Answers" in the October 1985 General Conference.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Jan. 11, 2017 12:57 p.m.

    I don't know if every GA is given the same living allowance or not. I don't know if those who are financially well off and don't need it, decline it or not. I don't feel it is my business to know the details of how the church provides for them, even though I am a tithe payer.

    It is kind of like fast offerings that the bishop distributes. I contribute my donation and I trust the bishop to make good decisions about how that money is disbursed to the needy. I don't feel that he should give me an accounting of every dollar that goes to pay someone's heating bill or buy some groceries for a needy family. Does that mean that every single dollar is put to the absolute best use and is never wasted or given to someone who does not deserve it? No, humans are involved. But I trust that for the most part, the funds are treated as sacred and every effort is made to see that it is used for the right purpose.

    I have a slightly different view about a lot of the taxes that I pay.

  • RedShirt USS Enterprise, UT
    Jan. 11, 2017 12:02 p.m.

    To "Esquire" you know that the leaks wouldn't have had any effect had the Democrats been honest in their dealings. Yes the leaks were bad, but what should be of greater concern is what was in those leaks.

    Tell us, what is worse, leaking confidential information or rigging the Democrat nomination process?

    To "Prometheus Platypus" now wasn't it your ilk that was complaining about the audit of the Clinton Foundation? Why is it ok to audit a church, but not audit the foundation of a political figure?

    The funny thing is that the church leaders on living in mansions tax free, nor did any of them become millionaires because of their stipends. The few that are millionaires earned their wealth BEFORE becoming leaders. If you were familiar with LDS scriptures, the payment of church leaders is listed as being acceptable when their church calling prevents them from having a job.

    To "Misty Mountain" tell us how you determined what a living allowance should be? Why can't the church decide what the allowance is?

    To "Laura Billington" actually you and your ilk do tell us what to think all the time.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Jan. 11, 2017 10:28 a.m.

    "Why does someone in his late 60s need a childcare payment?"

    Esquire, Typically True.

    But then, our 70 year old president elect has a 10 year old.

    Couldn't resist.

  • Laura Billington Maple Valley, WA
    Jan. 11, 2017 9:29 a.m.

    @J Thompson writes, "Those who oppose the Church would have us think that they, not Christ, have authority to define family, to define marriage, to define the acceptable boundaries of sexual activity".

    Thompson, I don't tell you what you think. It would be respectful if you didn't announce what other people think. There are a number of temple-recommend holding members who regularly contribute to this form, and they are not "opposing the Church". They have said that interpret what Christ taught somewhat differently from you and from what the General Authorities are now saying. Who am I to tell them that they are wrong. And who are you?

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Jan. 11, 2017 9:29 a.m.

    Does the Church have to file a Form 990? Nonprofits do, so why not churches?

    Why does someone in his late 60s need a childcare payment?

    There are arguments on every side that have merit. But I don't think anyone is being totally honest.

  • Traveller Farmington, UT
    Jan. 11, 2017 8:52 a.m.

    The only surprise about "Mormonleaks" is how unsurprising anything they've revealed is.

    Was anyone surprised that GAs are granted a living allowance? I thought that was public knowledge. Certainly it didn't surprise me. I remember telling investigators the same information more than 20 years ago while on my mission.
    All Mormonleaks has revealed is that It turns out that it's an extremely modest amount compared to what the pastors of "MegaChurches" take in.

    When the Church says it comes from business properties the Church owns rather than tithing or other contributions I see no reason not to believe them, and no reason for members to be concerned.

    The editorial is correct - the only story to be found here is whether Mormonleaks is obtaining it's information illegally.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Jan. 11, 2017 8:47 a.m.

    Misty Mountain: "...some thoroughly biased presentations to the Church leadership. If this filtered presentation is all they hear on a particular subject..."

    Let me guess. You wanted them to be barraged by a slew of GLBT advocates or rabid 'climate change is all our fault' presenters. They need to be overwhelmed with those who oppose basic church teachings. Anything less means they are closed minded and out of touch with reality?

    I can assure you that church leadership has heard it all from those who oppose the church. I think they are very intelligent people who understand what is really going on. Church leaders are not supposed to behave like politicians who will flip their stances on things if they think the sentiment of the voters is now different. (Prime example is Obama on gay marriage.)

    If you believe that the church is lead by revelation, then you have faith that they will make decisions that are in harmony with God's wishes. If you don't think that is the case, then it really should not matter to you what they think, but for some reason it does.

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    Jan. 11, 2017 7:36 a.m.

    "Last year the group “MormonLeaks” published videos of LDS leadership in closed-door meetings engaging with experts on contemporary issues of importance."

    I watched the videos. I saw some of these "experts" present some thoroughly biased presentations to the Church leadership. If this filtered presentation is all they hear on a particular subject, then they will be ill-equipped to make reasonable choices regarding this topic, whether it's climate change or gay rights.

  • Misty Mountain Kent, WA
    Jan. 11, 2017 6:41 a.m.

    @JoeCapitalist2 wrote,

    "General Authorities spend so much time with their callings that they cannot hold a regular job and thus are given a living allowance."

    Fair enough, but it's a red herring. What is newsworthy is that the Church has, for years, claimed that those serving the Church were not paid. A living allowance of $70,000 a year is a salary, however you label it.

    I don't know anybody who begrudges them a salary. But the existence of it, and the amount of it, certainly should have been available to the members who contributed it.

    If there was nothing wrong with this (or with anything else that has been leaked), why the distress over this being made public?

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Jan. 11, 2017 5:42 a.m.

    I really see no scandal here. Either you need to pay people, or elevate only the really rich to high church position.

    I do take exception to those making a distinction between salary and living allowance.
    The majority of people use their salary to live on.

    Call it what you want. It is the exact same thing.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 9:44 p.m.

    The church has many employees. From repairmen to programmers to people who manage the church's businesses. Pretty much everyone for which working for the church is a full-time job.

    Callings within the church such as Sunday School teachers, Bishops, and Stake Presidents are not paid since they can keep their regular jobs and do their callings in their spare time. (Some Bishops can hardly remember what 'spare time' is.)

    General Authorities spend so much time with their callings that they cannot hold a regular job and thus are given a living allowance.

    Although the living allowance is more than many people make, it is far from exorbitant. I doubt any of those called think it is some kind of sweet deal financially. If they were looking for monetary rewards, they would do something else.

  • Manzanita Las Vegas, NV
    Jan. 10, 2017 7:24 p.m.

    While president of the LDS Church, Gordon B. Hinckley was asked by a reporter why the Church was not transparent about its finances, unlike many other religions. Hinckley replied that the Church believes "that information belongs to those who made the contribution, and not to the world."

    Of course, this statement was untrue then and remains so. The fact that the Des News had to pen this editorial to defend keeping the Church's finances private is evidence of the untruthfulness of Hinckley's statement.

    I paid tithing to the Church for several decades, and not once did the Church makes it finances available to me. It is unconscionable, in my view, for a Church to tell its members to tithe even if it means going hungry or skipping rent, and further telling the members that even the leaders serve without remuneration, when all the while the top Church leaders are in fact drawing a comfortable salary.

  • jph3 Canyon Country, CA
    Jan. 10, 2017 7:08 p.m.

    "However, by publishing private information with no real purpose other than “it hasn't previously been disclosed, ..."

    If the DNews is unable to understand why many people find purpose in the information recently disclosed about GA "living allowances" and other forms of leadership compensation, then you aren't listening very well.

    For example, as a missionary I was trained to teach investigators that because leadership is unpaid, they should feel ok about redirecting 10% of their family's financial resources to the church. That's a HUGE commitment for families earning far less than the amount the GAs are receiving in their paychecks. Investigators have the right to know how leadership is compensated. They have the right to know that church leadership is actually compensated far better than many of the impoverished communities the church targets.

    Quite simply, it's dishonest and misleading to preach the virtues of a lay ministry when it just simply isn't true.

    If the DNew doesn't see purpose in financial transparency, then that says way more about the DNews than it does about the church's critics.

  • Hope & Faith give us strength Utah County, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 6:23 p.m.

    Ranch,

    If the Supreme Court had ruled the other way, then your comment would read: "meeting together with the intent of protecting the rights of US citizens"

    The LDS Church honorably expressed disappointment but acceptance of the legal outcome regarding the legal definition of marriage. When it comes to being honorable or choosing robbery, lying, and sending white powder terrorist threats to LDS temple mailing rooms, the LGBT movement have made it very clear that they certainly care a great deal about defending rights. As long as they are the only ones who can define those rights... as long as they are the only ones who have any other rights (such as something so fundamental as human safety) then hey... they can do whatever they want and run us over right?

    The difference between what you are defending and what we defend isn't just a matter of simple honor and virtue. It's a matter of basic human decency. We have it. I'm not so sure that can be said of someone who will threaten and steal from others in order to get a stamp of approval from society.

  • MDMCA New Zealand, 00
    Jan. 10, 2017 4:56 p.m.

    In the case of the LDS movement we find there is almost no public disclosure of operations or accountability to its members and contributors. Further, it requires payment in return for full participation and for the reception of church ‘sacraments’. It preaches a form of the prosperity gospel. It is an affront to those who are convinced to sacrifice to then not account to them how funds are used.

    There is nothing to be gained by secrecy except meet the needs of those who hold the secret. This opinion piece seems to support the owner of the publication at the expense of many of its readers. The LDS movement looks like a grass roots movement but functions as an institutional and absolute monarchy. The leadership refuses to be accountable and perhaps members should withhold their contributions until they come to heal.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 4:50 p.m.

    In the world of people like 'Ranch', if you don't jump on the 'politically correct' bandwagon and fully support the latest cause of the far-left, then you are 'intent on violating the rights of US citizens'.

    Don't think the definition of marriage should be changed? You are violating the rights of gays.

    Don't think the church should get behind the 'legalize marijuana' movement? It must be violating the rights of drug users.

    Don't think the country should have open borders or that it should try to keep terrorists out? You must be racist or Islamophobic.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 4:17 p.m.

    Personal privacy should not be breached without a compelling societal need. Everyone is entitled to a legal, personal life.

  • J Thompson SPRINGVILLE, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 2:42 p.m.

    Christ's Church has the obligation to represent the true doctrine of Deity at all times and in all places, no matter how "offensive" that might be to those who reject Christ's Doctrine. Those who oppose the Church would have us think that they, not Christ, have authority to define family, to define marriage, to define the acceptable boundaries of sexual activity; but, they seem to forget that Christ's Church is Christ's gift to those who are trying to find everlasting joy and eternal happiness. It incorporates opportunities to be taught correct principles. It gives those who are willing opportunities to serve others. It enlightens those who are looking for light.

    Those who sneak around with the purpose of finding fault by "leaking" private conversations only show that they reject Christ as their head and those whom Christ has chosen as leaders to help them overcome attitudes and appetites that Christ rejects as proper.

    Someday, all mankind will watch and wonder why some people chose to fight against Christ by "leaking" private information when those "leakers" could have become Christ's disciples.

  • Prometheus Platypus Orem, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 2:38 p.m.

    Awe, I thought that if you have nothing to hide then transparency is the best for the masses?

    Mike your wrong, churches are just another non-profit org and should be subject to audits that insure honesty and justify why they should continue to receive tax free status.

    Multimillionaires who speak for God in Super churches and own huge mansions tax free because God want's his servants to be wealthy first, than they can help the poor with others money.

    With Hackers now the hero's of the GOP I can't figure out why you don't approve?

  • Open Minded Mormon Everett, 00
    Jan. 10, 2017 2:33 p.m.

    I'm OK with this DN OpEd piece,
    However, to gloss over what Trump and the entire Trump campaign has done with regards to the Russians hacking - is parallel in goals and objects as the WaterGate break-ins and cover-ups,
    but by pairing up with the Russians even exceeds the criminality of Richard Nixon and host of "leaks" and "plumbers".

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 2:22 p.m.

    Wow, interesting editorial. You are mostly silent about Assange and Wikileaks one-sided leaks because it led to Trump's election, and now you are saying leaks involving the Church threaten democracy? Funny how you "caught religion" on this issue all of a sudden. Will you now condemn Russia and call for a vigorous investigation? Will you put the heat on Utah's pro-Trump delegation to put America first and get to the bottom of Russian interference?

  • 65TossPowerTrap Salmon, ID
    Jan. 10, 2017 2:09 p.m.

    Hey McNight - that axe isn't sharp yet - maybe you need to grind it some more.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    Jan. 10, 2017 2:05 p.m.

    It seems that we don't understand the difference between public transparency and the right to privacy outside of government.

    We have every right to have every detail of government on the front page of every newspaper. We have every right to have details of elected officials' lives on the front page of every newspaper. But, we do not have the right to be told of every detail of every business transaction of every company. Depending on the rules of the business, owners, including shareholders, may have a right to know much more than the general public.

    Churches are not public businesses. They are not "owned" by the public. Gifts and funds donated to churches are "gifts" without strings attached. The giver is not entitled to direct those funds or to demand an accountability of those funds. Minutes of meetings are not public. People who disagree with a church are free to worship elsewhere and they are free to withhold their time and "gifts" if they choose.

    Leaking private information shows a lack of manners and civility.

  • Ranch Here, UT
    Jan. 10, 2017 1:52 p.m.

    "Last year the group “MormonLeaks” published videos of LDS leadership in closed-door meetings engaging with experts on contemporary issues of importance."

    --- I suppose you can say that with a straight face: meeting together with the intent of violating the rights of US citizens is of "contemporary importance".