Joseph Smith as Peeping Tom

by “Faraday”

keyhole

This essay hopes to solve a great mystery: the origins of the naked part of the endowment.

The mystery

Most people know that the signs and tokens of the temple come from Freemasons. And the Adam and Eve part comes from the book of Genesis. But where do the washings and anointings come from?

The lost ceremony

In modern temples, “washings and anointings” refer to applying oil to the head, water to the feet, etc. These are like Biblical practices: kings had their heads anointed with oil, and Jesus famously washed his apostles’ feet. And in the 1836 predecessor to the endowment Joseph Smith did just that: washed feet and anointed heads. (The report also refers to “washing” but that seems to refer to washing their hands etc.). But from 1842 there was another part: you had to get stark naked, with a bathtub! Where did that come from?

Let’s get naked!

Most people don’t know that until the early 20th century, the “washing” required you to stand there naked, with no towel to cover you. Then you got in a bath: this was no symbolic dab of water, your whole body got washed! Here is one of those bathtubs, from the Salt Lake temple in 1911, courtesy of Wikipedia.

tub_Salt_Lake_1911

In modern times the “washing” is fully clothed and takes about a minute. In fact the whole endowment session, including all ordinances, is over in a couple of hours. But in 1842 it took pretty much all day. For example, when you were finally given underwear you were left sitting on your own for an hour or so (in the version described in the Naked Mormonism podcast). And it was a lot weirder: originally there were no washings for the dead: you only did it for yourself. So your first time was your only time. And this was the days before electric lights: this was a time of shadows, real blood oaths backed by real Danites, belief in all kinds of supernatural things. Getting naked and having someone wash you was just icing on the weirdness cake.

Where did the weird naked stuff come from? One clue is that the endowment is all about the priesthood. We are endowed with power to become kings, and kings are strictly male. So in the 1836 version it was all male. But in 1842 Joseph decided that women should be allowed in. And the ceremony should involve getting naked. Coincidence?

Naked endowments and Peeping Toms

It should be obvious to anyone that a naked bathing ceremony is a Peeping Tom’s dream.

“While the temple ceremony encouraged reverence and decorum, Brigham Young complained that church members sometimes peeked through partitions to observe others being endowed.” (source)

The peeping problem is so obvious, that only Peeping Toms would want a naked ceremony. So where did the idea come from?

The naked ceremony cannot be traced to Freemasonry. And it cannot be traced to anointing kings and washing feet: foot washing was about being humble, and head anointing was about becoming a king. But the naked washing was abut being promised health and strength. It’s just a different concept. We might try to trace it to baptism, except baptism is a completely different concept too and a separate ordinance. Just where did the naked bathing ceremony come from?

The revelation on polygamy

The endowment is closely linked to polygamy: it was invented to bind people in oaths of secrecy, and polygamy at the time was the biggest secret of all. So to understand the endowment we need to understand polygamy. The key text is Doctrine and Covenants 132, and the key passage is verse 39:

“David’s wives and concubines were given unto him of me, by the hand of Nathan, my servant, and others of the prophets who had the keys of this power; and in none of these things did he sin against me save in the case of Uriah and his wife; and, therefore he hath fallen from his exaltation”

What was “the case of Uriah and his wife”? David spied on Bathsheba while she was bathing. David then sent her husband Uriah away to war, so that David could have Bathsheba for himself.

Marc-Chagall-David-and-Bathsheba

You might wonder how David came to be spying on Bathsheba bathing? This was because David owned the palace and temple, the highest buildings in Jerusalem. Everybody else had small houses. The women could bathe on their roofs for privacy. But David, in his office at the top of his castle, could see them all, and choose any he wanted. As long as Nathan approved.

Modern readers often skim over the “Uriah and his wife” passage without realising its significance. In Joseph’s day the Bible was far better known than it is now. The Uriah story was one of the best known stories of all: the fall of king David! A story of drama, sex, violence, reversals, it has everything! When talking polygamy, this is the most famous example of all! And in those almost-Puritan times, when seeing a woman’s ankle could make a man horny, imagine how this story stayed in a man’s mind. King David could stand on his balcony and see every woman, naked! And then choose to bed the ones he wanted! For a man like Joseph, that idea would tend to crowd out all others. Once referenced it would tend to stay in the mind, no matter what else was being discussed.

Modern readers also tend to forget what Joseph means when he said polygamy, or some aspect of it, was a sin. For years Joseph had been saying “spiritual wifery” was a sin while practising “celestial marriage.” To outsiders they look like exactly the same thing. But Joseph had to reassure his followers that he would never do anything like that. Until he was found out of course. So when Joseph says the Uriah’s wife episode was a terrible sin, that does not mean he would not do it. It just means it was on his mind, and he wanted to reassure followers that he would never spy on their wives in their baths. Oh no sir. Definitely not. Meanwhile, Joseph was planning a new ceremony that involved naked wives and bathtubs…

In the revelation Joseph says this was the only time David sinned. Why was it a sin? 2 Samuel 12 explains:

“The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, “There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him. ‘Now a traveler came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveler who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.’ David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.’ Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword will never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.'”

Note the analogy with the traveler and the rich and poor man. The sin was not in taking the lamb, but in being an asshole about it. In ancient times it was good to give your very best to a weary traveler. Clearly this lamb was the best, so yes, the rich man should have taken it. But he should have made a deal with the poor man: explained the situation and offered him ten sheep in return.

Joseph learned from David’s mistake. Joseph did not simply take women by force, like a rapist. The endowment was designed to first get people totally on board with whatever Joseph needed, and to promise them eternal riches in return. Then if people disobey and need to have their throats slit it’s their own choice. The endowment solves the Uriah problem.

I wonder if Joseph saw other parallels between himself and David. The previous year Joseph had sent Orson Hyde away on a mission so he could marry Orson’s wife. And the new endowment ceremony threatened death to any followers who did not accept Joseph’s way. And Joseph previously created the Danites, showing that he was serious about the death threats.

Finally, note that only a prophet (like Nathan) could decide which wives were justified and which were sinful. Luckily, Joseph was himself the prophet. Even luckier, Joseph was also the king. Well, technically the mayor of Nauvoo, but on 11 April 1844 the Council of Fifty declared him “our Prophet, Priest & King.” So if Joseph the king saw a woman and wanted her, it was not a sin as long as Joseph the prophet approved.

Seers and peeping

Joseph was a seer. He saw stuff. He told us “a seer is greater than a prophet”. Joseph began as a glass looker, a scryer, a peep-stone user. His whole schtick was that he could see things that are hidden. Whenever God or nature had ordained that thing was hidden (far away, or buried in the earth, or lost to history), Joseph could pull aside the veil and have a good old look.

Scrying, or seeing, explains everything. For example, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon is a classic example: a spirit guards buried gold, Joseph with his peep stone finds it, and on the night of the autumnal equinox the spirit gives it up. All of Mormonism is about seeing hidden things: spirits and angels and plates and translations that others cannot see.

Nothing can be hidden from a seer. Using a peepstone or crystal ball, or other means, they can see what they are not supposed to see, and nobody else will know.

crystal-ball

And what did Joseph look for the most, throughout his life? Apart from gold? He looked for women! As Grant Palmer (“Insider’s View”) reminded us, Joseph was accused of sexually harassing women in every single place he lived. Joseph just loved to see women’s private parts, and if possible then show them his. Leonora Cannon Taylor writes about one of Joseph’s chat up lines:

“…I had many tryals about this time [May-Sep 1843, when Joseph made polygamy public and began naked washing] but I am yet alive, “ [Her next diary entry reads] “Come Joseph Don’t be filling that up with balderdash, ‘how is your garden this year I’ll show you some summer apples my lady’ O Dear.” (source)

I am sure that readers can work out what Joseph meant by the lady’s “garden” and his “summer apples”. A lady’s “garden” is a well known euphemism. And Joseph’s “summer apples”? Apples are harvested in the Fall: summer apples are about the size of very large cherries, and summer is the time to play. If you get my meaning. No wonder Leonora’s reaction was “O Dear”.

As Leonora’s case shows, not all of the women agreed to show Joseph their gardens. This must have been extremely frustrating to him. Until one day Joseph received a revelation of how every single one of his friends’ wives could be naked before him. And specifically have their private parts touched. What an inspired idea!

Sacred ceremonies, including naked ceremonies, had to be performed exactly right. So the prophet, the seer, had to be able to see everything, including the naked part, whenever he wanted. But there was a problem with that. Joseph still remembered that time he saw Mirinda Johnson’s “garden”. And Mirinda’s brother Eli found out. Eli and his friends tarred and feathered Joseph, the mob screamed for Joseph’s castration, and he only barely escaped. That was a close call! Another problem was Joseph’s wife Emma. She had caught him in the barn with one of his lady friends. Another time when she found out about his extra-curricular gardening she kicked the other lady down the stairs. For some reason Emma was not convinced that polygamy was divine, despite God’s clear statement that Emma would be destroyed if she did not let Joseph have any women he wanted. Why couldn’t Emma understand?

Clearly Joseph had to be able to spy on the ceremony without anyone knowing. Not even Emma. Especially not Emma. But how?

A temple designed for a Peeping Tom

Let’s look at the endowment in general. The “Naked Mormonism” podcast shows how it was designed to disorient the woman. It was confusing, scary, full of strangeness and shadows and starting with nakedness, designed to make her feel helpless. The whole point was to get her to a state where she would bow her head and say “yes” to anything.

Now let’s look at the temple that was designed around the endowment. The Nauvoo temple was built for the endowment and has some interesting differences from the Kirtland temple. The Kirtland temple had its own pre-endowment elements (preaching, washing of feet, anointing of heads) but no naked women. The Nauvoo temple was “Kirtland plus naked women”. Can you see the difference?

temples

The difference is the offices. (And the baptistry, to get people used to the idea of bathing.) Pay special attention to the top floor. Naturally you would expect washings to take place in the basement, where the water was, right? Yet Joseph wanted the washing to take place on the top floor. When Joseph died, Brigham Young changed it to the bottom floor like any sensible person:

“Earlier in 1842 there had been suggestions that the upper story of the temple will when finished be used for the ritual purposes, but at the beginning of 1845 Brigham Young decided that upon each side of the font there will be a suite of rooms fitted up for the washings and also in the recesses on each side of the arch on the first story.” (Weeks, p.351)

Why use the cramped and inconvenient upper floor? One obvious reason is that there are no windows there. But look at the design. Despite having less space, the sides are lined with offices. This is where Joseph would do his work, or wait for his time in the ceremony. In other words, when the women (and men) are naked, Joseph would be just a few feet away behind a door. And for the new washing ceremony to be correct, Joseph had to be able to peep from his office whenever he wanted. Whether he used a keyhole, curtain, or crack in the door is anyone’s guess. But his offices had to be on the same floor as the naked women, and close enough to see every detail of what was happening. Because these sacred ordinances had to be done right!

One problem with the “temple designed for a Peeping Tom” theory might be that Joseph planned the temple in 1841, a year before he got the full Masonic treatment and decided naked women could be involved. But the inside design of the temple was not finalised until after Joseph decided he wanted naked women naked women. The design of the temple, like everything else Joseph invented, was constantly changing:

“Governor Thomas Ford of Illinois gained the impression from Mormons themselves that their temple was commenced without any previous plan and that the master builder from day to day during the progress of its erection received directions immediately from heaven as to the plan of the building. […] temple plans remained
general and fluid no complete plans being presented at any one time. […] changes in temple details from first drawings to final building were dramatic” (Weeks, pp 341-2)

In particular, the interior arrangements (and whether the offices were close enough to the flesh for him to see anything) were still being tweaked right up to the end:

“During April another visitor learned that the interior plan is yet undecided upon or rather the prophet has not received a revelation in regard to the interior arrangements. In June [1844] the prophet informed others that the temples interior structure and arrangement had not been decided on.”(Weeks, pp.347-348)

If these were just ordinary offices for ordinary business why would he care? Why not leave that part to the architect? And why put them on the same floor as the ceremony, squashed next to the naked people, unless being squashed together was the whole point?

Conclusion: the “wife of Uriah” principle

Here, then, are all the elements of the new naked bathing ceremony:

  1. A woman bathes naked. (And men, but the scripture focuses on the woman.)
  2. The king is in his office at the top of his palace, where he might “accidentally” see the bathing.
  3. The king then chooses the best polygamous wife.
  4. This is approved of God as long as all parties agree first, e.g. by being promised great rewards (in heaven)

If this is not the source of the naked bathing ceremony, please provide a better known source from the same general period. Study the Freemasons’ books. Study the Bible. I can wait.

Of course, we do not have video proof of what Joseph did. All we know is that he would be on the other side of a door or curtain while his friends’ wives got naked. Maybe he never peeped? Sure…

 

Sources

The original temple ceremony
(Part 2, the woman’s perspective)
Joseph Smith’s history of chasing women
(part 2)
Polygamy timeline
Endowment timeline
William Weeks, Architect of the Nauvoo Temple
Polygamy diaries etc.
Tarring, feathering, and almost-castration

A MESSAGE TO ALL HOMOPHOBIC PEOPLE AND A LETTER TO MY MOTHER

A MESSAGE TO ALL HOMOPHOBIC PEOPLE

Another 17 year old boy named Jack Denton Reese committed suicide on April 22 in Mountain Green, Utah after being bullied for being feminine and/or gay, the day before his boyfriend Alex Smith spoke at a panel about the bullying Jack experienced.  The panel was held in connection with the screening of the documentary film, “Bullied.” Alex did not even know that his boyfriend had already killed himself the day before the panel convened. “You’ll always be remembered,” wrote a close friend on the mortuary’s guest book. “I know you’re looking down on us all right now, telling us all to be ourselves no matter what people say or how harshly they judge. I know it because that’s all you wanted. I love you, Jack. Love forever in our hearts. You’re amazing just the way you are.” And “I remember Jack when he was in our ward and when he would pass the sacrament,” reads another entry. “What a handsome and dedicated young man!” Jack attended Morgan and Weber High schools. On April 27, Weber High students attended class in their Sunday best in Jack’s honor.

Although I am not personally so affected by personal attacks on me (at least I do not let it show), my heart bleeds and my soul aches with severe pain and extreme anguish when I read these stories; and the tears come gushing out.  Jack and his boyfriend Alex are so cute, cuddly and adorable and innocent looking, that it hurts me all the more and makes the intense pain unforgettable.  It almost makes me want to go out and kill those dam f$&%ing bastards who did the bullying (and I do not care if you pardon my French or Not). I am simply baffled and hurt, and cannot believe that this innocent boy is no longer with us and that his gorgeous and awesome presence will no longer be around for us to see him grow up to be a man.  I don’t just cry, but I bawl every time that I look at his beautiful and flawless face.  How can anyone in this cruel world, possibly want to hurt or tease, or ridicule or in any fashion bully this most wonderful and adorable boy.

It is my greatest hope that those who provoked this beautiful child to kill himself and cause so much pain to his equally gorgeous boyfriend, that they suffer the pains of hell and degradation that only a vengeful God in all his wrath and fury can unleash to their miserable souls.  May they rot in hell and in endless and eternal torment with gnashing of teeth and the pains of eternal damnation and May a Just God grind their souls into the oblivion of “outer darkness.”  God the Father says that I must forgive them, but He, God, does not have to forgive them and it is my wish that he not forgive them as he says he does not have too.  Oh how exquisite and endless will be their pain and no man will know the eternal torment of these dammed souls, only those assigned to the awful pit of hell and the internal endless lake of fire and the smoke that ascends up forever and ever, only they will know the eternal anguish of that dark and horrible place.  Give them all you got Lord God and do not hold back one iota of your eternal wrath, even the endless wrath of almighty God the Father who is quick and powerful and slow to hear the cries of the wicked.  I personally never want to see them again or hear their hatred and prejudice and bigotry and cruel remarks again.

I may have to forgive such people but I do not have to forget and I do not have to wish for God to forgive them either and I certainly do not, hell no!  I may even be commanded to love such individuals but I do not and will not love, condone, or in any way accept their evil actions and intentions for which they will suffer for all of eternity.  God did not say that I could not hate and loathe their damnable behavior for which he God will never forgive or give pardon to.  Christians say “Love the sinner but hate the sin” and that is exactly what I am doing here and I am no hypocrite either. (Thanks for letting me vent).

MY LAMENTATION:

My, my, my how I cry, cry, cry and say why, why, why and want to die, die, die and I hope you sigh, sigh, sigh when you nod good bye, bye, bye to the kid who die, die, die died.

IT’S PRETTY “LAME” ALRIGHT, ISN’T IT?

I will never forget the story of Jack Reese and his boyfriend Alex Smith.  Just another Gay Mormon boy child whose candle went out to soon like a candle in the wind, even before we got to know the beautiful baby or even say good bye!

I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO SAY TO WHOEVER MAY BE INTERESTED:

My comprehension of my own life is that I am a truly wise person; I know this because I have been told by many that I have the gift of discernment and the bible says that all who have the gift of discernment especially at a young age, and I did at the ripe old age of 10 years old, are truly those individuals that will not only have wisdom but will be wise indeed AND NOT BE CONFOUNDED.

A MESSAGE AND LETTER TO MY MOTHER IF SHE WERE PRESENT

So in conjunction with that I wish to say to my Mother, if she were still alive; and she is not:

Hi Mom its Robin Lee Johnson here, your second oldest son who grew up like the oldest because I was the only boy amongst my siblings after my older brother passed away.  I have wanted to tell you that when you clapped your hands over your ears, and yelled at me at the top of your lungs: “Shut the F%$#@ up!!, and don’t ever speak to me about this again” when I tried to tell you that I was being repeatedly and forcibly molested at the ranch; you really hurt my feelings and made me think that you did not love me or even care about me at all.  Not only that, but you did not protect me, and so I was repeatedly molested again and again after that and raped also.  There was no use telling you, because you would not listen to me in the first place.  I learned to be helpless because I was being forced to do something I did not want to do, and no one was there to help me, not you Mom, or Dad either.  Only Cassie my little 5 year old sister tried to help when I asked her for her help, but failed also, in the end, because he viciously threatened and scared her away.  I was hurt badly and still bear the deep emotional wounds of your actions (and lack of appropriate actions) to this day, some 40 years later!

Because I was emotionally damaged for your lack of intervention on my part, I hold you responsible for many of my emotional problems and mental illnesses with their accompanying years of psychological as well as physical pain.

I can only imagine how you would react to the news that I am a faggot, queer or homosexual.  Would you react the same way as when I tried to tell you I was being molested by an ugly 52 year old man when I was just 10 years old?  Would you support your only surviving son, out of the 14 boys that you conceived but never got to raise?  Or would you just hate me for being gay and therefore show to me that it was wise of the Lord to not let you raise my other brothers because in all likelihood some of them would probably be homosexual also.

You were there for my older sister when she got raped at gun point and also for my two younger sisters when they were molested by that “Hell’s Angel” character; and you did all in your power to bring them to justice including court trials in which I even testified at when I was just 12 years old.  Why did you try and help them and not me?  Are you that different in your treatment of girls over boys or are you so homophobic that the very thought of me being with another male disgusted you to the point of holding back your love from me in my greatest time of need?!?

In any case, I forgive you only because I have the capacity to do so, and God has commanded me to do so.  But until I die, I will always wonder if you will accept me for who I am when you know the truth about me; that I am gay as hell!  I always figured that it would be Dad that would reject me for my sexual orientation and even want to go out and shoot me in order to put away that filthy faggot!

Daddy did not really support me being gay, but at least he did not reject me either.  He did not understand me being gay and I suspect that he does not even understand the homosexual people at all, not the slightest clue; because like the Mormon Church, he does not give it the time of day, because he has always believed that homosexuality was simply evil.

I do not blame my Dad for his attitude, because he was taught this attitude by the Mormon Church and other so-called Christian organizations and people.  My Dad was not sophisticated enough to be able to tell when someone was wrong or right, especially not in social and family issues or even matters of the heart.  He was simple, yet he agreed with those he chose to agree with and would say: “to hell with everyone else.”  My Dad even told me that he was angry with the Church leaders, who he said had no right to excommunicate me like they did and that he felt that they were wrong.  In that way I did get some support from my Dad, but I do not know if it was more or less that he usually disagreed with Church leaders anyway, or if it really was just supporting his son over the Church.  Either way, I am glad that he said what he said.  In a lot of ways my Daddy was cool and a somewhat fair man, but a poor man just the same; poor financially and spiritually.  I love my father, so don’t get me wrong, he never tried to destroy us with words like my Mother was always trying to do to us kids.

Also don’t misunderstand me Mom; and think that I do not love you, because I do; and I am not taking Dad’s side over yours either, it is just that you are the one that failed me when I was always loyal to you.  This is something that you did not understand, like the day you permanently exiled me from your life and told me to “get the F@#$%& out of my house, and I hope the door hits you in the ass on the way out too” when I was 17 years old and a junior in high school.  You were the one that got me put in a foster home because you fought with our Landlord about my sister not doing the dishes, and then you, because of your pride, threw our butts on the street, not because the landlord said we had to go, but because you were angry.  And when I tried to inquire as to when I could move back home, after you and my younger sisters had moved back home already, and you asked me first before I could open my mouth, “So when are you going to move back in son” you threw me out of the house because I answered “I don’t know…” (You did not let me finish, either!)

You did this because you thought, I was not sure that I wanted to move back home, because like usual, you did not let me finish talking, for I was trying to say: “I do not know, when do you want me to move back in, because I am ready at any time to move back in, but it is your call.”  Mom, you have always been the boss, no one in this world tells you what to do, that is why I answered the way that I did.  But you assumed that I was going to say something like: ‘I don’t know if I really want to move back in’ and thus you figured that I was not being absolutely loyal to you.

Quite ironic when you think about it though, isn’t it?  The fact that you were the one that was not loyal to me on several occasions and I was never disloyal to you ever.  So if you threw me out of the house when I was a minor child, and did not give me a chance to explain myself, all because I did not answer a question of yours exactly the way you wanted me too, then I can only imagine what wrath you would pour down on me when you discover that, God forbid, my son is queer!  I for one fear your wrath, more than the wrath of Almighty God.  I ask for your forgiveness mother, in advance, if I have offended you in anyway; for you always said that we were a reflection upon you, and that whatever we did either complimented you or were an embarrassment to you.  I can only hope that you are not embarrassed by me because I am gay!

Your Loving son Robin Lee Johnson!

BBC’s This World: The Mormon Candidate

Finally, a Mormon documentary for the rest of us.

Hailed by the creator of the I am an Ex Mormon video series as “my favorite video about Mormonism I have ever seen.”

Part 1: Mitt Romney

Part 2: Mormons

Part 3: Exmormons

Part 4: Prophets

Part 5: Park

Part 6: Pundits

After I get done watching, it’ll be interesting to compare and contrast John Sweeney’s approach with that of Helen Whitney in her earlier PBS documentary The Mormons.

Come to think of it, I’m also going to revisit that France 24 report from a few weeks back:

Exmos popping up everywhere these days, even in Provo, with French cameras rolling! :-)

Oh, and others are discussing Sweeney’s documentary here and I particularly liked the comment over there that begins:

“The thing that makes this documentary amazing isnt the amount it relied on ex-members, but the amount it relied on the LDS Church to be embarrassed about its past, to lie about its past and then finally to admit the claims that were being made.”

#LDSconf pre-show discussion: Should the LDS church reveal its finances?

As Provo, Utah’s Daily Herald noted back in 2007:

It clearly doesn’t want to. In the 2001 case, for example, it avoided disclosure by settling with the plaintiff for $3 million.

Some find it strange that rank-and-file Mormons are not privy to the financial workings of the church even though they may donate large sums of money through tithing and other offerings. They are called members, but membership has no privileges. Church members, unlike stockholders in a corporation, have no vote. The reward for their faith is generally intangible.

Many other churches have full disclosure.

And in the Wikipedia entry about LDS finances, it’s noted that:

The LDS church maintains an internal audit department that provides its certification at each annual general conference that LDS church contributions are collected and spent in accordance with LDS church policy.

Which raises a second question:

What is LDS church policy regarding the use of donated funds?

Because stories like the ones below can leave a person wondering.

1) In 2009, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Canada sent $40 million to BYU and spent $17 million on salaries. Link.

2) From 2004-2009, UK Mormons collected $3.6 million in Humanitarian Fund donations and disbursed only $322K. Scroll down to comment #31 at this link.

3) Speaking of the UK church, its general assets are depreciating at the rate of 6,000,000 annually. Really?

4) Does the LDS church really need to be in the business of owning hunting preserves? Link.

5) And another MSP post that has generated all kinds of interest: LDS Inc. owns .7% of Florida

6) By the way, I haven’t yet listened to this 2007 Mormon Matters podcast, but I agree with the panelist who noted in comments that the LDS church has plenty of good reasons to be involved in SLC city planning and commercial development.

7) And a closing thought from a commenter at one of the other Mormon podcast sites:

I’ve heard that the Catholic Church increased its donations substantially when it began publishing full financial disclosures.

Could be. But as the years of undisclosed financial operation pile higher, it only gets harder to contemplate changing the policy. For example, would Mormons be upset to learn just how much the LDS church spends each year to persuade plaintiffs (like the one mentioned at the top of this post) to settle lawsuits and sign non-disclosure agreements?

Reminder: With General Conference around the corner, be sure to attach the #LDSconf hashtag to all your tweets. Or #twitterstake for those who’d like to join the Internet’s largest and loudest General Conference pep rally. Bonus points for bearing your tweetimony.