Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Righteous Taxation

During my mission, we were encouraged to attend some non-mormon church services, so long as it didn’t take us away from our own duties.  While in Peckham, my companion and I decided to attend such a service.  I believe it was a pentecostal sect, but I can’t recall completely.  It’s really not important, because what stood out to me was the manner in which the preacher demanded monetary donations.

The preacher stood at the front of the congregation and began to shout how only the faithful to God will give tithes to the church.  He recited scripture and then shouted, “who has the faith to give God £10”!?  This was followed by parishioners walking up to give £10.  After that, the preacher went on to shout, “who here has the faith to give £20 to God”!?  Undoubtedly, others got up to donate.  Now it started to get serious, the preacher exclaimed, “It’s wonderful for those that gave £10 or £20 to God today, and they will certainly be blessed.  But God wishes to test your faith today, and asks who here has the faith to give £50”!?  The preacher would promise great blessings in store for those who donated of course, and more of the congregation would get up.  This was repeated until the preacher got up to £500.

I remember thinking to myself how ridiculous this was, and how could anyone fall for such a scam?  I left this service with this distaste in my mind about how this preacher was such a fake.  This is known as prosperity gospel.  In short, when you’re strongly encouraged to give money and promised God would give back many fold, you’re being sold prosperity.  I was so proud to be part of a church that didn’t act like this, and saw these things as a sign those churches were not of God.  

Little did I realize at the time, but that is exactly the method the Mormon church uses, just more subtly.  You see, when I was growing up in the church I was told wonderful stories of people that were blessed with money they hadn’t foreseen when they paid their tithing.  If the faithful Mormon got a raise at work or a promotion, it was because they had paid tithing. When a faithful Mormon found money on the street, it was because they had paid their tithing. All signs pointed to tithing being the cause.  A Mormon is taught from a very young age to pay their full tithing before anything else.  We are taught that God has given us everything, and so what is 10% compared to that?

"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)

When I was about 16 I lost my wallet one day during a trip to King’s Island Amusement Park, and was very distraught as I had cash in there.  About a week later, I opened up the mailbox to find my wallet!  It had been shipped back to me, and to my surprise, everything was still inside it.  I correlated this to me paying my tithing, and I shared this story during testimony meeting on numerous occasions.  I knew the church was true because it taught tithing, and I knew tithing was real because I got my wallet back.  I didn’t know anything about logical fallacies or testing hypotheses.  I just knew I got my wallet back, so God was blessing me.  Of course, I had forgotten about all the other times I lost my wallet and never saw it again.  In this way though, the church had successfully instilled this prosperity principle within me, and I didn’t even know it.

Mormons pay a lot of money to the Mormon church, and don’t even ask questions.  The principle of paying tithing was probably taught each and every Sunday.  No, it wasn’t done like the preacher in England, and in that way it lulled members into a false sense of duty to give to the church.  I’ve discussed tithing with my parents before, and whether I should give 10% of my gross income, or net.  My Dad says it should be gross, because it’s better we give too much, than too little.  I found this to be a very common theme amongst Mormons.  

The Mormon church does not disclose where the tithing money goes.  Undoubtedly a portion of it is used for buying churches and paying the utilities and such.  It probably goes towards supplies and even Mormon Temples.  Members aren’t told for sure, but they certainly don’t have any doubts that their money is going towards all the good and charitable things.  Because the church uses its members, at no cost because God asked them to, to maintain church buildings, it doesn’t have need to spend money on upkeep.  However, Mormons don’t pay just tithing to the Church.  They also pay something called fast offerings.

Once per month Mormons are to fast, which is to go without food for a certain period of time.  Mormons typically will skip both breakfast and lunch on this fast Sunday.  This is also the Sunday in which members are invited up to “bare” their testimonies (like I did when telling my wallet story).  The money that would have been spent on these two meals is to be given to the church, and that is a fast offering.  Fast offering money is used to provide food to those members who may not be able to afford food for their family.  The Bishop of the ward will meet with such members to make a determination if they ought to receive church assistance.  You better believe, a full tithing is one of the requirements to get church assistance. 

So, instead of allowing the needy family to use what they would give to the church to buy their own food, the church allows its members to buy the family food.  The church wins because they get the families money and get the credit for helping them out, when it really came from the generous membership.

Tithing and Fast Offerings are the primary donations given, and the one’s that are harped upon the most.  There are others though, and Mormons are encouraged to give to them also.  This includes the Temple Fund and Missionary Fund, which are fairly self explanatory.   At the end of the year, the Bishop will meet with members for what's called "tithing settlement".  There, the Bishop will determine if a member or family are full with payers.  He will go over the amount they've paid throughout the year and a decision will be made.  I have heard of instances in which the Bishop has outright questioned a member's full tithe due to the amount and compared to what he knows the person makes.  Again, you have to be a full tithe payer to go to the temple, and to not burn to death when Jesus comes again.

This is why tithing is often referred to as "fire insurance" among members.  Aside from this, all this giving is mainly done with the idea that they will be given back much more in the form of blessings from God.

“Mary Fielding Smith remained faithful to the end of her life. She paid tithing, even in her poverty. When someone inappropriately suggested she not contribute a tenth of the potatoes she had grown that year, she responded, ‘You ought to be ashamed of yourself. Would you deny me a blessing? … I pay my tithing, not only because it is a law of God, but because I expect a blessing by doing it.’” (Mary Fielding Smith, quoted by Joseph F. Smith, in Conference Report, Apr. 1900, 48)

This is the mind set of Mormons, and how the Church successfully gets its members to give so willingly.  This mega corporation that parades around as a church are truly masters of manipulation, and Mormons buy it hook, line and sinker.  

I have obviously stopped paying tithing, and wouldn’t you know it, I seem to still receive these promotions, raises and surprise money here and there.  Only I don’t have to give thousands of dollars every year to this organization.  I am taxed enough from the government, I don’t need taxed from any church also.  No thanks, I’ll decide what happens with my hard earned money.

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