Wednesday, January 11, 2017

It pays to be a Mormon Leader

This document was leaked out this week, thanks to mormonleaks. It discloses the fact the leaders of the Mormon church are paid. This is not something I was taught as a child, and the membership is unaware of this even today. Sure, they are aware of the leaders being given a modest stipend for living expenses, but not in anyone's mind do they see a six figure income to be modest. This is on top of the fact these leaders are given separate housing benefits, transportation and free college education for their family.  Not only are they given this living allowance, but many of their expenses when traveling for the church in an official capacity are reimbursed!  They are, for lack of a better term, well off.

This is really on par with the leak of the Mission President's handbook of instructions which detailed out the following for what they considered to be reimbursed to them:

  • Living expenses include food, clothing, household supplies, family activities, dry cleaning, personal long-distance calls to family, Rent (if leased), utilities, telephones, Internet connection, Maintenance, including gardening and repair/replacement of household items, One part-time housekeeper-cook (no more than a total of 20 hours per week, aka you can hire a part time employee to take care of your house free of charge to you) fuel, oil, maintenance and repair expenses for mission-owned vehicles, Travel expenses for you and your wife as you supervise the mission (including the costs of meals and lodging) and modest gifts (for example, Christmas, birthdays, or anniversary).

    Medical expenses, including dental, eye care and occasionally orthodontics, are covered by the church.

    Support for children serving full-time missions

    One round trip for each unmarried child under age 26 to visit you in the mission if he or she did not accompany you to the field.

    Elementary and secondary school expenses for tuition, fees, books, and materials. Reasonable expenses for extracurricular activities and for music or dance lessons may be reimbursed (at the expense of the church's tithe payers)

    Undergraduate tuition at an accredited college or university that offers two- or four-year degrees.
    The amount of any funds reimbursed to you should be kept strictly confidential and should not be discussed with missionaries, other mission presidents, friends, or family members. You should not open a local bank account for personal funds received from the Church unless absolutely necessary, especially if the account would produce interest (and thus raise income-tax questions). Any funds reimbursed to you from the Church are not considered income for tax purposes. Never represent in any way that you are paid for your service.
These reimbursements are made since the Mission President's are serving in a full time capacity for three years.  One can only imagine how much better the Mormon church takes care of their leaders who are servicing full time for life.

While on my mission, I used to boast that my church did not have a paid clergy. Even I, on a two year mission far from home, wasn't being paid. No, instead, to serve a church mission, it cost approximately $10,000 over the course of two years.   This money was then redistributed as needed to the individual missions for their expenses.  I always scoffed at all the other churches who paid their ministers and clergymen. "Some dedication", I'd say to myself. Is it really a sacrifice when you're being paid?  So I went on my merry way believing in my Glactic God and his Jew Baby Jesus, and that I had the truth of it all.  I never knew my own Mission President was there on the Church's dime.

To clarify, the ordinary Mormon local leaders are not paid. My dad was a bishop for many years and if he was paid, then it didn't show. My problem with this is not that they are paid, but that it's so hidden from the membership. I don't expect leaders of the Mormon church to commit themselves full time without being given some form of monetary payments. I do expect however, if you're going to say your church has a lay clergy, that that's what you have with  NO exception!  The Mormon church can make all sorts of claims to excuse their "living expenses" from a paid ministry, but until they actually disclose their finances, I fear it's not good enough. 

The Mormon church hammers the law of tithing to its members.  It teaches to go without things in order to pay your tithing,

"If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing." (Aaron L. West, Sacred Transformations, December 2012)

Mormons feels extreme pressure to fulfill this law of the church. They have solace in the presumption their money is being used to help the needy and to build up God's kingdom.  And then, something like this comes out. A member of the quorum of the seventy is paid $120,000 per year. Multiply this one person by seventy others and you get $8.4 million paid annually to those leaders. Then you have their apostles and first presidency. Who knows how much they bring in.  I have less and less respect for the men in leadership roles in the Mormon church when I see things such as this. Again it's not the payment, it's the payment while boasting of a lay clergy.

Open your books, and let us see what you actually do with that tithing. 

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