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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122 Responses

  1. kuri says:


    If you can’t tell the difference between Jesus talking about money while using “figurative imagery” and Jesus talking about something else while using money as “figurative imagery,” I fear there’s no point in ever discussing the Bible with you.

  2. Seth R. says:

    I can tell the difference.

    It’s just that in this case it is small, and in any event, irrelevant for our purposes.

  3. profxm says:

    Seth, the governments in Western European countries that retain a state church collect tax revenue. That money is then transferred to the state church as revenue.

    Ironically, most of those churches are empty. If anyone wants to make an argument here about “wasteful government spending,” the state churches of Western Europe would certainly qualify. If the US government funded a hospital and no one showed up to take advantage of the free services, libertarians and conservatives would freak out about wasteful government spending. But give religions tax breaks, including religions where virtually no one shows up, and conservatives (not necessarily libertarians) think it is as it should be.

    Here’s the real metaphor:
    “Give the people a fish, conservatives will condemn those giving and receiving as encouraging laziness. Give the people a figurative fish and conservatives will want the government to subsidize it and expect it to actually solve all of peoples’ problems.”

  4. JJL9 says:

    RE #98

    I’ll address the three paragraphs separately.

    #1: Do you now have the right to sue the government for spending tax dollars on that war since they stole your money?

    That’s a hard one to answer. What I can say with certainty is that the government did not have the right to wage that war, and that “it” did not have the right to use your money either.

    But when you say “sue” you are talking about using the remedies of the very government that violated your rights. According to the remedies of that govrnment, you do not have the legal right to sue them.

    That doesn’t make them right and you wrong. That makes them tyrannical and you an unwitting subject to them.

    If said government was operating by the consent of the governed (ie, you), then they wouldn’t need to use the threat of force, imprisonment, and ultimately death to force you to pay for that war. That is, in fact, the force they use to collect those taxes if you attempt to opt out.

    Governments around the world act unjustly all day every day. That doesn’t mean they have the “right” to act that way. It just means that they have the power to do so (mostly because those who are being oppressed are allowing themselves to be oppressed). And although the “governed” may not, under the regulations of said government, have the “legal right” to address these injustices, they do have the “natural right” to do so.

    So, I guess the answer would be that you do not have the legal right to sue the federal government for your tax money that was spent on the war, but you do have the natural right to do whatever is necessary to restore your right to not spend your money on wars like that.

    And by the way, forget Iraq. We are currently spending $900,000,000 per week in Afghanistan. $900,000,000. Per week.

    #2 Your entire premise is that if you choose to have government spend your tax dollars doing all those things, then it is not theft, and that since you want the government to do those things, then the government is required to provide them.

    One little problem with that theory. You alone are not “the governed” here. You and I and everyone else are. So just because you want the government to do something doesn’t mean that the government suddenly has the consent of the governed to do it.

    On the other hand, if you and those that do want those things done with your money, voluntarily gave the government or any other entity, your money to be used for those purposes, that would be perfectly reasonable.

    This brings up the concept of the Constitution. We may be a democracy, but the states only agreed to be part of that democracy because they believed that the ratification of the Constitution would protect the natural rights of the states and the people. That was, for the most part, the case in the beginning. 200 + years later, that is no longer the case. The federal government has usurped your natural rights, in direct violation of its only source of authority.

    Democracy is 2 wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner.

    #3 Charity is defined as “the practice of benevolent giving and caring”. Why does it matter to you if the LDS Church and those that support it believe that what they are doing qualifies as being charitable? Why don’t you just go about your business and do what you believe to be charitable? Why are you even discussing the concept that something should “qualify as” being charitable? The whole notion is ridiculous.

  5. Alan says:

    But the talk about two masters was also using figurative imagery as well.

    When it comes to wealth and family ties, the Jesus of the Bible renounces both. He is not “figurative” about this. At the time, primogeniture was in effect (wealth passed to first born son) — and even now, wealth and family are intertwined. But regarding discipleship, at Luke 9:58-62 when people wanted to say goodbye to their families before following Jesus, Jesus basically told them it was unnecessary.

    As I pointed out at Matthew 22:23-33, Jesus talks about there being no marriage in Heaven. It’s clear to me that Mormons take what they want from Jesus’s ministry and words and disregard the rest (or reduce it to “figurative language”). They imagine him into somebody he wasn’t for the sake of their own organization. (Not that any conservative churches are any closer, though.)

    I don’t think Jesus would have said his 12 disciples were closer to God simply because they had a closer relationship with him. I’m pretty sure that Jesus thought Martha “got it” more than Paul. But yet, the LDS Church treats the Quorum of the 12 as having a more direct relationship with God. The relationship between money and ecclesiastical power is obvious. Even if President Monson isn’t living in a mansion, the way the faith is organized creates undue power relationships. I know the purpose of the 12 is to keep everyone on track and to keep the thing moving as a whole (they’re there to “serve” until Christ returns), but like I said, Martha “got it” more than Paul. It makes a person wonder what exactly the Church is doing with its amassment of funds and hierarchical structure. Perhaps it’s made the mistake of serving the wrong master?

  6. profxm says:

    Two points. First, arguing about government mandates will always be subjective. What you want and what I want are unlikely to be the same. Claiming the government is engaging in theft or other unjust activities based on the desires of individuals isn’t going to go very far.

    Second, ridiculous to debate charity status? Short response: Scientology. Long response: If charities were not given any privileges in society, I’d agree with you. However, they are (no income tax, no property taxes, no capital gains taxes, etc.). So, I have reason to debate this.

  7. JJL9 says:

    #1 It isn’t going to go very far? It went pretty far when the American colonists told the mother country to pound sand, then pledged their lives, their treasure, and their sacred honor to secure those natural rights that were duly theirs.

    #2 Then the argument should be that charities no longer be given any “privileges in society.” That’s an arugment I can agree with. It makes sense that I should be able to support whatever charity I choose and you too. It doesn’t make sense that someone should be out there difining what does and does not qualify as charity.

  8. JJL9 says:


  9. Seth R. says:

    Alan, organization goes hand-in-hand with hierarchy. Any time you have a group of people organized, there is going to be a hierarchy.

    I didn’t catch the memo that just because Jesus arrived, the laws of human behavior were suddenly revoked.

    The more organized you get, the more hierarchy you are going to get. Period. No way around it.

    I’ve read through the Four Gospels a few times, and I didn’t see the part where Jesus forbade religion from being organized and ordered us to all go live off welfare while preaching.

  10. profxm says:


    #1 – not really that interested in this topic. I’m going to let it drop.

    #2 – We actually agree! (And lo, the heavens did shake and the earth did tremble!)
    That would solve the problem. If religions/charities received no special tax treatment from the government, I would absolutely take your advice and drop the issue. So, you going to start lobbying for that? 😉

  11. JJL9 says:

    I’m not going to “start” lobbying for that because I have been lobbying for just that for a long time now, and will continue to do so. The same goes for tax breaks and incentives for companies and individuals. The same goes for different tax rates for different people, for any reason, be it their salary bracket or otherwise.

    The same line of reasoning solves the gay marriage dilemma in my opinion.

    In my opinion, marriage is a covenant between two people. I happen to believe that marriage in the temple, involving a sealing for time and all eternity, is the only way to go.

    But I also recognize that you have every right to get married wherever you please, with whomever you please, and by whatever ceremony or manner you please.

    I don’t think government should recognize or sanction gay marriage. I don’t think government has any business getting in the middle of any marriage.

    Take away any recognition by government of marriage and the gay marriage debate goes away. You can jump across a broom with your 2nd cousin or marry your rommate George in San Francisco. It doesn’t affect me. But the second government starts treating “married” people differently, all of a sudden we have to debate what qualifies as marriage. Whey should people be taxed differently because they are married? They shouldn’t. But they are. Take away any kind of government or legal incentive for married people and you end the gay marriage debate.

  12. Alan says:

    Seth @ 109:

    The more organized you get, the more hierarchy you are going to get. Period. No way around it.

    Sure. But think about this in terms of martial arts. There is a master who knows more than the student, but there’s never an assumption that the master will always be more masterful than the student. Conversely, the Church’s hierarchy is practically static (not to mention, the “mastery” principle is questionable).

  13. Alan says:

    Sure, but that’s the Lord esteeming people. I’m talking about the Church itself.

  14. JJL9 says:

    That talk was given by the acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church, ie it came from the Church itself. In other words, the Church itself asserts that no member of the Church is esteemed less than any other.

    Perhaps there are members that esteem one member above another, perhaps the Prophet or the General Authorities.

    Both those are people, not “the Church itself”.

  15. Alan says:

    Perhaps there are members that esteem one member above another, perhaps the Prophet or the General Authorities.

    Or how about this: the Church is structured so that some members come to be esteemed above others, which is contradictory to Christ’s teaching.

  16. JJL9 says:

    If that’s your opinion, you’re entitled to it.

    But since Christ himself is directing the organization of the Church it is not likely to be contradictory to his teachings.

  17. Alan says:

    Well, as it turns out, it’s not just my opinion. It’s one of the major gripes evangelicals have toward Mormonism.

  18. JJL9 says:

    Congratulations. You and the evangelicals can spend your lives having gripes toward Mormonism. I hope you find that fulfilling.

  19. Seth R. says:

    Alan, Evangelicalism has organizational dysfunctionality as one of it’s core founding values.

    [sorry Jack – I do acknowledge that others would characterize it differently]

    OF COURSE you’re going to find a lot of people in that faith tradition with a phobia towards anything that even hints of “getting organized.”

    That’s hardly a news flash.

  20. Alan says:

    phobia towards anything that even hints of getting organized.

    Well, as I said @112, I wasn’t talking about “getting organized.” I was talking about “getting hierarchical.” I disagree that organization requires static hierarchies.

  21. Seth R. says:

    Organization may get away with fluidity for a short period.

    But it’s not going to last long. It will inevitably become hierarchical. Honestly, the real surprise of the LDS Church is how little abuse of the hierarchy there is.

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