In addition to touring the temple…

I heard this story on Friday on NPR.

I support the Utah LDS church’s movement towards openness and honesty.

I admit, this effort seems a little like a drop in the ocean. Yet I have to acknowledge the attempt. One of the comments Quentin Cook made was that they were “surprised” by the reaction from the public during Romney’s campaign and with prop. 8. While I respect some of the surprise, I can’t say I’m shocked by the secretive perception that many non LDS have. Even some active LDS I know are shocked to find out certain things about their religion’s history and its doctrine. It’s easy to not take the pulse of current cultural opinion and trends when you live not “of the world” and spend most of your time in an office building in Salt Lake City (surrounded by yes men). Many active and former LDS (throughout the world) could give the leadership lots of input about choices and attitudes that could be adjusted. But I digress.

One thing that would lead to greater openness would be full financial disclosure. This would mean that each person or ward could understand exactly where their tithing funds were being spent. Also – any investments or business that are owned or operated by LDS Inc. would be disclosed.

I mentioned this proposal before, in this post My Legislative Suggestion that will never go anywhere. I think it’s important for members of an organization to feel like they have a voice. That they understand what the organization (that they are members of) is doing and spending their money on. Considering the ongoing debacle over Prop. 8, this type of disclosure is even more important. I paid tithing as a child. I have no idea where that money was spent or where it went. It could have supported the upkeep on the church building. It could have paid for imported wood and gold inlay on a new temple. In the end – I have no idea. And members who contribute thousands of dollars per year also have no idea.

What other suggestions can you think of to dispel the secret nature of the Utah LDS church? I’m thinking of suggestions in addition to finances and an open and frank discussion of the past?

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7 Responses

  1. Hellmut says:

    Financial disclosure would be the single most effective reform of Mormonism. A little accountability would go a long way to stabilize the LDS Church.

    Of course, the brethren won’t do it voluntarily but it would be good for their institution. The government saved the Church from itself during reconstruction and the new deal.

    May be, that needs to happen again.

  2. rebecca says:

    I think making the temple rites known and not wearing weird underwear with secret symbols would make people a lot less wary of them. Of course, the secrecy of those things is so central to the practices of the church that…not going to happen. And I wouldn’t expect it to, or really care if it did. I just think people wouldn’t be so weirded out by the Mormons if they talked about “sacred” things.

    My brother stopped paying tithing, and instead buys books and donates them with that money. I think that’s a FANTASTIC idea.

  3. Andrew S says:

    I remember reading an article about a former member (or maybe she was still a member) who went to a…:( I’m sorry, I don’t remember the details…well, she had gone to another church and was kinda amazed that they were deliberated openly about what kind of language they should use for some proposal they were doing…it was a relatively open meeting where women — and not just men — were allowed to input.

    Well, I pretty much botched that synopsis up, getting rid of any details that could help anyone find this story, but that’s what this post reminded me of.

  4. aerin says:

    Andrew #3- a business meeting?

    I have to say, there is a point where some (only some) discussions about language and the language used get a little redundent. But I won’t disagree that some terms are limiting.

    I would say – I’ve found amazing openness in almost every organization I’ve been in since LDS, Inc. – including the publicly traded company I currently work for. And that’s saying a lot.

  5. Hellmut says:

    In terms of centralization of power, the LDS Church is an extreme, at least in the western world. We are even more authoritarian than the Roman Catholic Church, which is quite an accomplishment.

  6. chanson says:

    I think making the temple rites known and not wearing weird underwear with secret symbols would make people a lot less wary of them.

    I though that knowing what’s in the temple rites makes them seem more weird. If you don’t know, you can give them the benefit of the doubt that their secret ritual is actually something really cool…

  7. rebecca says:

    chanson — Well, yeah, that’s true. They do kind of make people get squinchy eyed. But the fact that they REFUSE to answer any questions or talk about it I think really weirds people out. Then when people eventually do find out what goes on (if they care enough to look into it), they’re even more weirded out. If people had explained it in the first place I think it would often come off as more quirky than weird. I mean, no one has a real problem with nuns and priests wearing crazy clothes and being chaste for life (in theory, anyway). The difference is that they’re public about it.

    Not that I think Mormons should start wearing their underwear on the outside or anything…

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