Money, money, money,
Must be funny,
In a rich man’s world.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve been struggling with this theme for many years now. But, it just won’t leave me alone. Let me give a couple of examples of questions / issues.
World’s Richest Man
Forbes compiles the list of the world’s richest. See: https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/. Is it possible that the richest person on the planet is actually missing from the list entirely?
Now if I understand the concept of ownership, if one has control, then one has ownership. Quoting https://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/ownership, “At its most extreme and absolute, [ownership] means the power to enjoy and dispose of things absolutely.”
Let’s not belabor the idea that the President of the LDS Church is the sole owner of all of its assets. There have been lots of detractors making hay with this for a long while and continue to do so. Example: https://utahvoice.net/mormon-church-president-made-a-fortune-on-vaccines/
Actual LDS Resources
As a natural consequence, the church does not release its financial information. We know that it owns numerous companies and is accused of controlling even more shell companies (presumably not for the purpose of avoiding taxes, but simply to hide its assets and therefore priorities from public view).
It is not clear if all of the assets that it influences include Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc. The accusation that “In 1997, Defendant [the church] incorporated Ensign Peak Advisors, Inc. (“EPA”) to be the Defendant’s primary investment vehicle for the Defendant’s reserve tithing funds” doesn’t exactly make this true. But, if…, is the $100 Billion or so are then literally or effectively owned by the church’s president?
Additionally, there might be questions about various trust funds set up through https://philanthropies.churchofjesuschrist.org/gift-planning/how-to-give/testamentary-giving-tools/retirement-plan. Are those funds all funneled into EPA? Herein, it appears that the intended beneficiaries are all LDS Church institutions. But, are those resources actually controlled by the church prior to final distribution to the beneficiary? If not, who controls those investments and under what influence? And the list of questions goes on.
The bottom line: in aggregate, do funds controlled by the sole owner of the LDS assets exceed, say, $180 billion. If so, then this man is the richest in the world?
Does it matter if he is? Might that simply be a case of “responsible management?” Ultimately, the question seems to come down to motivations, which then point to a question of worship of either God or Satan. Yes, the question does seem to be that stark.
If one believes the answer is God, then temples are being built to fulfill the obligation to bring covenant promises and blessings to the world. In short, follow the Beloved Prophet.
If one believes the answer is Satan, then temples and temple recommends are used to increase an income stream even from many of the world’s poor. In short, follow the Beloved Profit.
If one believes the answer is God, then the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, other general church officers, temple presidents, mission presidents, and all are simply receiving church resources for which they are “worthy of their hire” (Luke 10:7).
If one believes that answer is Satan, then these are all practicing priestcraft (2 Nephi 26:29; 3 Nephi 16:10).
If one believes the answer is God, then LDS leaders utilize sacred tithing funds to “administer blessings upon the heads of the poor.” (Doctrine and Covenants 124:21).
If one believes the answer is Satan, then “…they persecute the meek, and their hearts are upon their treasures; wherefore, their treasure is their god (2 Nephi 9:30).”
If one believes the answer is God, then we see examples who “…impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely. (Alma 1:27)”
If one believes the answer is Satan, then they are lifted up in the pride of [their] heart, and to wear very costly apparel, yea, and even began to establish a church after the manner of [their] preaching. (Alma 1:6)
If one believes the answer is God, then we see those who albeit great among [us],… minister; and… chief among [us]… [are our] servants: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Matthew 20:26–28)
If one believes the answer is Satan, then these are they that love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi [or President, Elder…] (Matthew 23:6–7) and welcome our rising from our seats in honor and respect and otherwise expect our ministrations.
If one believes the answer is God, then we see these as ones that cry unto [us] that [we] must repent and be born again. (Alma 5:49)
If one believes the answer is Satan, then our leaders may simply teach us about repentance; it’s good doctrine.
If one believes the answer is God, then we see leaders who “expound… all the scriptures (Luke 24:23; Alma 18:38, 22:11; 3 Nephi 23:6; D&C 24:5; and especially 3 Nephi 23:14)” and “unfold the scriptures (Alma 12:1)” and “open our understanding of the scriptures (Luke 24:45; Alma 21:9),” etc.
If one believes the answer is Satan, then we see more cute, emotional and vapid stories, and less and less scripture and certainly no mysteries.
If one believes the answer is God, then we see prophets inspired by God to “adjust” the instructions, rites, performances, and even the meaning of scripture to align to the needs of our day and time.
If one believes the answer is Satan, then they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant (Isaiah 24:5) and are those who “break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so (Matthew 5:18–19), and “in vain they do worship [God], teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.(Matthew 15:9)“
If one believes the answer is God, then we see the development of the narrative of church history increasing the faith and testimony of the members.
If one believes the answer is Satan, then we see church history being changed to support the narrative. We see Joseph Smith thrown under the bus and the doctrines he taught removed from canon. We see his name, effectively, being used for good and evil as needed to support the narrative.
If one believes that answer is God, then the leaders are men (more particularly) of God who hold priesthood keys and exercise priesthood authority in the name of God. These are live prophets that are more important than dead prophets and write scripture that is more important the our canon.
If one believes the answer is Satan, then they have “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof
(2 Timothy 3:5)” at least in part because the time has come where we “will not endure sound doctrine; but after [our] own lusts shall [we] heap to [ourselves] teachers, having itching ears; and [we] shall turn away [our] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3–4), all because we all “do wrest the scriptures and do not understand them. (Doctrine and Covenants 10:63).”
NOTE: This should be reorganized and expanded. Since I have other things of higher priority like getting ready for conference; it may never get finished. So, the bottom line is that what we see and believe probably has more to do with how we believe than it does with the truth.