Have you ever wondered what the difference would be between “WhatWouldJesus Do” (WWJD) and “What Would Joseph Smith Do” (WWJSD)? If we can assume that the modern LDS Church reflects Joseph Smith’s views, apparently what Joseph Smith would do is tell poor Haitians in Leogane, Haiti that they CAN’T take shelter in the local Mormon Church during a hurricane despite the fact that most of the 1,500 residents in the town were living in temporary tents since they lost their homes in the massive earthquake in January. According to this article, the chapel can hold 200 people and is a modern structure that is quite sturdy. But only Mormons were allowed – 36 of them. And what was given to the actual members? Nothing. They slept on the floor, without any food or water.

What’s the hang-up when it comes making these decisions? Apparently it’s Mormon bureaucracy:

“It’s not simple,” said Matthieu Chrisner, adviser to the bishop, the leader of the local congregation. Letting people take shelter here “is a very complex decision, and a lot of people would have to agree. It’s a chain of authority that reaches the headquarters in the Central Caribbean.”
If I had a group of children right now who needed a shelter?
“For now, we can have members of this church and their parents,” he replied.
If they were disabled?
“I would have to ask at another level,” Chrisner said. “There is a committee. Really, it’s a committee inside of some other committees. It goes through the bishop, then a committee process … then, there’s no way to know if it’s longer or shorter. I can’t tell you how long it would take for an answer.”


I'm a college professor and, well, a professional X-Mormon. Thus, ProfXM. I love my Mormon family, but have issues with LDS Inc. And I'm not afraid to tell LDS Inc. what I really think... anonymously, of course!

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8 Responses

  1. Hellmut says:

    Yes, and if an ox falls into the well on the sabbath, we will have to ask a committee inside a committee before we pull it out.

  2. Urban Koda says:

    As much as it pains me to defend Joseph Smith, I tend to think he’d have been more than willing to invite anyone inside. Rationale could vary, but I still think he’s have them come in.

    I’d say this is more a product of WWLDSID (What would LDS Inc Do) and has probably come about only in the last couple of decades.

  3. Goldarn says:

    Gotta agree with Urban Koda: Joseph Smith may have been a conniving adulterous sneak, but IMO history has showed him to be generally hospitable, especially when he could show off how wonderful everyone should think he was. 🙂

    Rules upon rules upon rules is a product of corporations and bureaucracies and a hierarchy of “leaders” who like to throw their weight around.

  4. chanson says:

    Here, joining the dogpile. 😉

    If we can assume that the modern LDS Church reflects Joseph Smiths views

    A questionable assumption, at best. JS and LDS Inc. may both have their faults, but it’s not the same set of faults. 😉

  5. kuri says:

    Of course, it still says a lot about the church that local leaders would think that they’re not allowed to help people in emergencies without going all the way up to the Area Presidency or whatever its called now, but I suspect — I hope anyway — that this is the result of confusion on the part of the local guys and not some sort of official policy. I don’t think that this is actually how Church Headquarters wants its people to respond in an emergency.

  6. Carla says:

    This is the kind of thing that makes me think, “is this a religion with members or a corporation with ’employees’?”

  7. Seth R. says:

    LDS Newsroom has already posted an article claiming that while many other LDS chapels were being used for shelter, that particular chapel had been set aside for use by a government organization. That’s why people were turned away.

    The reporter jumped the gun on this story and published before having all the facts.

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