Archive for October, 2010


Church Finance – Part IV

When I concluded part III of the Church Finance series I fully believed that it was complete.  Well, not complete, but finished as far as I was concerned.  I had dug up as much information, and tried to tie as many loose ends together as I thought I could.  And, frankly, I wasn’t even interested in looking into too many details of the seedy side of church finance.  I was semi-determined to move on to other topics, if not take a break for awhile.  As Justin mentioned in his comment in Part III, this isn’t uplifting material and certainly weighs on the mind, mine included.  It’s rarely pretty digging up some of this information, even though it may be “out and about” and readily findable.  I concur.  And, yet I thought I had moved on from it.

In fact, I had even toyed with closing this thing altogether, not because of what I was writing on, or its effects on me, but because I thought my time was finished in the “blog” world.  In beginning this blog I mentioned how I had set out to do a “one year” commitment, though far from set on that 365-day timetable.  I’m not a full-time blogger by any stretch.  I’m even embarrassed to mention that I have a “blog.”  (Pride issue, methinks.)  And yet, in pondering these topics and what I wanted to do with my time prior to some of the coming changes we’re about to see, I thought it might be best to shut up shop, leave it “live” so anyone/everyone could read, continue to comment and hopefully find something worthwhile in their personal searching.  In fact, just this morning I started writing the “conclusion.”  Some people can carry on for years writing these things and on their blogs, maintaining a “following” and keeping their blogs alive.  I’m not one of those people.  I don’t particularly have an interest in continuing something like this for years on end, though I do maintain it as a way to fulfill my feelings prior to the clock rolling over into 2010.

And yet, as I started writing the “conclusion” I stopped, if only because I didn’t want to do it the way I was doing it.  Then, today, I decided to sit down and listen to an interview and see if my earlier impressions on something I discussed in Part III of the Church Finance series were right or wrong, or perhaps inadequate.  And, based on what I listened to, I’d have to give a hearty assessment of it being entirely inadequate.

I found the mp3 interview thanks to a search term someone had used to find my blog.  In the backroom of the site, I can see what people enter in some search engine in order to find my site.  Occasionally I’ll replicate those terms to see if I can find something interesting to read.  This particular day, two people entered the following search term:  “Paul Drockton Monson Oct 2010.”  Performing that search in a site – like Google – produces a result (the top result) that takes you to the Morningliberty.com website and a link therein to an interview with the very Paul Drockton[1] I sarcastically thanked in my last article, thanked for utterly blowing me off.  In fact, I found his website to not only be entirely too noisy (ads, bold font and crazy color schemes that just look like they were thrown up by a high schooler with no internet experience whatsoever.  I find it difficult to meander such sites as they’re so clogged with information that has nothing to do with the site, or are too overcrowded to make even the simplest searches annoying.  But, I digress.).  As such, I didn’t really give too much thought to his site, or his information (though the latter was largely due to information that couldn’t be verified anywhere else).

And yet, it turns out that his blowing me off (and his insanely annoying website) may have been the best thing for me as it provided me with an opportunity to find an interesting connection that I may have otherwise overlooked.  Prior to getting to that connection, I’d encourage everyone to at least listen to Drockton’s interview.  It’s 2 hours in length, but I feel it’s a good way to get to know someone and see/hear for yourself what they’re saying and whether they are someone worth listening to.  Part 2 is likely more useful, though you will miss out on some of the background behind how Drockton came to this stage of life.  If I may assert, I find it’s much easier to dismiss someone (like me) who only writes something, somewhere on some topic.  Getting to listen to some interview with that same person, though, gives everyone a chance to listen to a voice, a frequency and see if your impressions of digital ink match up with the actual voice.  And, I must say, listening to Drockton was well worth the 2 hours.  He came off a likeable, normal person who’s been through some small measure of hell for what he felt like he should expose.

Now, that being said, I found a couple of interesting comparisons on Drockton’s website that I thought I’d peruse here, if only for a couple of paragraphs.[2] I took a total of 6 buildings or developments to compare to the City Creek project that is currently being developed by the LDS church in downtown Salt Lake City.  The following represents those comparisons:

Building 1:  Taipai 101, Taipai, Taiwan[3]


· Built in 2004

· 101 floors tall (1,667 feet)

· Total Cost:  $1.8 billion, or $405/square foot

· Total Square Feet:  4,440,100

· Interesting tidbit:  The tower’s design specifications are based on the number ‘8’, a lucky number in traditional Chinese culture. The design and planning of the tower was carried out by a Feng Shui master. The elevators in the building are the fastest in the world, rising at 1008 metres per minute (60.48 km/hour) and descending at 610 m/min (36.6 km/hour).  The Taiwan Stock exchange is housed in this building

Building 2: Petronas Twin Towers – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia[4]


· Built in 1998

· 88 floors tall (1,483 feet)

· Total square feet:  4,252,000

· Total Cost:  $1.6 billion, or $376/square foot

· Interesting tidbit: The towers are the world’s tallest twin buildings. Completed in 1998, they are connected on the 41st and 42nd floors by a sky bridge, which was designed as a safety corridor. The skybridge constructed by Kukdong Engineering & Construction between the two towers is the highest 2-story bridge in the world. Petronas Towers, designed by Argentine architect Cesar Pelli, has a beautiful blend of Islamic art, design and architecture.

Building 3:  Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower) – Chicago, Illinois[5]


· Built in 1974

· 1,451 feet tall

· Total Cost:  $150 million ($645.3 million in 2009 dollars, or $142/square foot)

· Total Square Feet:  4,560,000

Building 4:  Burj Khalifa – Dubai, United Arab Emirates[6]


· Built in 2009.  Officially opened on 4 January 2010.

· 2,717 feet tall (tallest manmade building ever built)

· Total Cost:  $1.5 billion, or $450/square foot

· Total Square Feet:  3,331,100

· Interesting tidbits:  holds the current world records for (a) tallest skyscraper, (b) tallest structure ever built, (c) building with the most floors, (d) world’s fastest elevator, (e) highest outdoor observation deck – 124th floor, (f) world’s highest mosque – 158th floor, and (g) world’s highest swimming pool – 76th floor.  The Burj Khalifa is also home to a $217 million fountain that is illuminated by some 6,600 lights and 50 colored projectors.

Building (Development, really) 5:  Mohammed Bin Zayed City Development – Dubai, United Arab Emirates [7]


· Built in 2012 (estimated).  Construction started in 2009.

· Project will consist of 349 residential towers, all between 12 and 22 stories tall.[8]

· Project will included public, commercial, retail and recreational facilities

· Total Residential Units:  50,000 (to house approximately 85,000 people.)

· Project will include infrastructure, landscaping and community amenities

· Project will cover approximately 5,000,000 square meters (53.8 million square feet).

· Total Cost:  $7.1 billion, or $132/square foot

Building (Development, really) 6:  City Center – Las Vegas, Nevada[9]


· Opened in 2009.

· Total size:  76 acres (1,560,500 square meters, or 16,797,000 square feet)

· Total cost:  $11 billion, or $655 per square foot.

· Features a Tram with a 2,100 foot elevated track which can handle 3,266 passengers per hour in each direction, a 6,900 car parking garage, approximately 5,000 hotel rooms and 2,400 condominium units.  All of the buildings are LEED certified “Gold.”

Building 7:  Atlantis – Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  • Opened in 2008
  • Total cost: $1.5 billion ($750k per hotel room)
  • Total size: 2,000 hotel rooms + 20,000 sq. ft. of retail space.  Approx. 114 acres in size.
  • Two towers:  one 18 story tower and one 28 story tower

Building (Development, really) 8:  City Creek Center – Salt Lake City, Utah[10]

· Total size:  20 acres – 2.5 city blocks (81,000 square meters) .

· Total residential units:  700 (to house approximately 1,200 people, or 1.4% of the total size of the Bin Zayed project).

· Total retail space:  2,274,000 square feet

· Total (estimated) cost:  $6.0 billion (or 84.5% of the total cost of the Bin Zayed project).  ~$,3000 per square foot (it’s rather hard to pin this number down, it seems.  Taubman lists the overall office space at 1.4 million square feet, while the Church lists it at 1.6 million square feet.  On top of that the total residential square feet has been virtually impossible to locate.  So, let’s assume it’s around $3,000/ft.  Even if we’re overly conservative this figure would be well north of $2,000/ft…figures that are hard to find anywhere).

As the comparison shows – at least to my mind – is that City Creek Center (in Salt Lake) isn’t quite up to snuff with the other developments.  I understand that certain economies of scale come into play in developing real estate (perhaps better known as the “works of men”), but even so, would you rather have the Burj Khalifa sitting in downtown Salt Lake City, or perhaps City Center (Las Vegas’ – by comparison – huge development), or perhaps the Petronas’ Twin Towers?  Sure, they’d be out of place for the most part, but by seer architectural standards, you sure do get a lot more bang for your buck.  The most expensive of the comparison properties was built at $655 per square foot, whereas the “towers” were all built at $450 per square foot or less.  City Creek Center, by contrast, was/is being built at ~$3,000 per square foot, or nearly 5x more expensive than the next nearest comparable property, and that’s assuming that the City Creek Center utilizes every square foot of the approximately 20-acre development site.

If you compare it with the Mohammed Bin Zayed project, they are getting nearly 350 towers, all between 12 and 22 stories tall.  Think about that for a minute.  An entire city for nearly the same price that Salt Lake City is getting City Creek Center.  As far as “bang for the buck,” it’s hard to ignore building an entire city versus a two and a half city blocks. The City Creek Center is only 1.6% of the total size of the Bin Zayed project and offers only 1.4% of the total housing units, and yet costs nearly 84.5% as much as the Bin Zayed project.  Perhaps that should be highlighted:  City Creek Center is producing nearly 49,000 fewer housing units and yet has the price tag that’s nearly as much as the Bin Zayed project.  The Burj Khalifa will offer some 3,000,000 square feet of interior space, while City Center will merely offer 674,000 square feet.

For the price, assuming a final price tag of $6 billion for the City Creek Center, Salt Lake could be home to no fewer than four Burj Khalifa’s, or four Petronas’ Twin Towers, or four Atlantis the Palm hotels cordoning off downtown, or … .  Imagine four of those structures gracing the Salt Lake City skyline, as opposed to the rather pedestrian development it now seems to be.

Yes, we’re talking about billions of dollars, but there is simply no comparison.  The Church is either getting bilked out of its “sacred” tithing “investment funds,” or the publicized scope of work is far greater than is being published, or some serious funds are changing hands under the table.  This is the idea that Drockton’s work clued me in on.  Some are even alleging that the Church is either facilitating a money laundering scheme, someone(s) are getting some serious kickbacks or lining of their pockets, or perhaps worse[11].  Or, perhaps there’s some huge underground structure being built “hidden in plain sight.”  Whatever it may be, what’s plain to see is that the numbers and the currently published (and available) information simply don’t match up.

In one of the first (if not the first) news conferences where H. David Burton announced the City Creek Center he stated that the church had “sought advice from some of the best minds in the country” as a way to create the best development they could.  Either those minds weren’t very good (i.e., is this the best our minds can produce), or those minds were merely inflating the cost of the budget through some exorbitant fees, or those minds were the ones crafting the financing of the project and had ulterior motives.

What’s worse – the incredible lack of creativity and ingenuity when given a $6 billion budget, or the money laundering that has to underpin a project of this size when the sources and uses simply don’t match up?

I declare a draw.

What say you?[12]


[1]Mormons – Freemasonry Illuminati Taking Over.”  28 September 2010.  Retrieved 10/22/2010.

[2] See, “World’s Tallest Buildings.”  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[3] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taipei_101 for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[4] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petronas_Towers for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[5] See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willis_Tower for more details.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[6] See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burj_Khalifa for more details.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[7] See:  http://www.keoic.com/projects/master/zayed/pdf/RFS-9275-SPU.pdf for more details.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[8] See:  http://www.estatesdubai.com/2009/04/mohammed-bin-zayed-city-residential.html for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[9] See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CityCenter for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[10] See:  http://www.downtownrising.com/index.php/city-creek-introduction for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[12] P.S.  My apologies to Drockton for my rather terse comments in the previous post.  I have not yet reached out to him again, but have found some measure of satisfaction listening to his Morning Liberty interview, as well as a few other articles on his **still** overly crowded website.

 

Church Finance – Part IV

When I concluded part III of the Church Finance series I fully believed that it was complete.  Well, not complete, but finished as far as I was concerned.  I had dug up as much information, and tried to tie as many loose ends together as I thought I could.  And, frankly, I wasn’t even interested in looking into too many details of the seedy side of church finance.  I was semi-determined to move on to other topics, if not take a break for awhile.  As Justin mentioned in his comment in Part III, this isn’t uplifting material and certainly weighs on the mind, mine included.  It’s rarely pretty digging up some of this information, even though it may be “out and about” and readily findable.  I concur.  And, yet I thought I had moved on from it.

In fact, I had even toyed with closing this thing altogether, not because of what I was writing on, or its effects on me, but because I thought my time was finished in the “blog” world.  In beginning this blog I mentioned how I had set out to do a “one year” commitment, though far from set on that 365-day timetable.  I’m not a full-time blogger by any stretch.  I’m even embarrassed to mention that I have a “blog.”  (Pride issue, methinks.)  And yet, in pondering these topics and what I wanted to do with my time prior to some of the coming changes we’re about to see, I thought it might be best to shut up shop, leave it “live” so anyone/everyone could read, continue to comment and hopefully find something worthwhile in their personal searching.  In fact, just this morning I started writing the “conclusion.”  Some people can carry on for years writing these things and on their blogs, maintaining a “following” and keeping their blogs alive.  I’m not one of those people.  I don’t particularly have an interest in continuing something like this, though I do maintain it as a way to fulfill my feelings prior to the clock rolling over into 2010.

And yet, as I started writing the “conclusion” I stopped, if only because I didn’t want to do it the way I was doing it.  Then, today, I decided to sit down and listen to an interview and see if my earlier impressions on something I discussed in Part III of the Church Finance series were right or wrong, or perhaps inadequate.  And, based on what I listened to, I’d have to give a hearty assessment of it being entirely inadequate.

I found the mp3 interview thanks to a search term someone had used to find my blog.  In the backroom of the site, I can see what people enter in some search engine in order to find my site.  Occasionally I’ll replicate those terms to see if I can find something interesting to read.  This particular day, two people entered the following search term:  “Paul Drockton Monson Oct 2010.”  Performing that search in a site – like Google – produces a result (the top result) that takes you to the Morningliberty.com website and a link therein to an interview with the very Paul Drockton[1] I sarcastically thanked in my last article, thanked for utterly blowing me off.  In fact, I found his website to not only be entirely too noisy (ads, bold font and crazy color schemes that just look like they were thrown up by a high schooler with no internet experience whatsoever.  I find it difficult to meander such sites as they’re so clogged with information that has nothing to do with the site, or are too overcrowded to make even the simplest searches annoying.  But, I digress.).  As such, I didn’t really give too much thought to his site, or his information (though the latter was largely due to information that couldn’t be verified anywhere else).

And yet, it turns out that his blowing me off (and his insanely annoying website) may have been the best thing for me as it provided me with an opportunity to find an interesting connection that I may have otherwise overlooked.  Prior to getting to that connection, I’d encourage everyone to at least listen to Drockton’s interview.  It’s 2 hours in length, but I feel it’s a good way to get to know someone and see/hear for yourself what they’re saying and whether they are someone worth listening to.  Part 2 is likely more useful, though you will miss out on some of the background behind how Drockton came to this stage of life.  If I may assert, I find it’s much easier to dismiss someone (like me) who only writes something, somewhere on some topic.  Getting to listen to some interview with that same person, though, gives everyone a chance to listen to a voice, a frequency and see if your impressions of digital ink match up with the actual voice.  And, I must say, listening to Drockton was well worth the 2 hours.  He came off a likeable, normal person who’s been through some small measure of hell for what he felt like he should expose.

Now, that being said, I found a couple of interesting comparisons on Drockton’s website that I thought I’d peruse here, if only for a couple of paragraphs.[2] I took a total of 6 buildings or developments to compare to the City Creek project that is currently being developed by the LDS church in downtown Salt Lake City.  The following represents those comparisons:

Building 1:  Taipai 101, Taipai, Taiwan

· Built in 2004

· 101 floors tall (1,667 feet)

· Total Cost:  $1.8 billion, or $405/square foot

· Total Square Feet:  4,440,100

· Interesting tidbit:  The tower’s design specifications are based on the number ‘8’, a lucky number in traditional Chinese culture. The design and planning of the tower was carried out by a Feng Shui master. The elevators in the building are the fastest in the world, rising at 1008 metres per minute (60.48 km/hour) and descending at 610 m/min (36.6 km/hour).  The Taiwan Stock exchange is housed in this building

Building 2:  Petronas Twin Towers – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

· Built in 1998

· 88 floors tall (1,483 feet)

· Total square feet:  4,252,000

· Total Cost:  $1.6 billion, or $376/square foot

· Interesting tidbit: The towers are the world’s tallest twin buildings. Completed in 1998, they are connected on the 41st and 42nd floors by a sky bridge, which was designed as a safety corridor. The skybridge constructed by Kukdong Engineering & Construction between the two towers is the highest 2-story bridge in the world. Petronas Towers, designed by Argentine architect Cesar Pelli, has a beautiful blend of Islamic art, design and architecture.

Building 3:  Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower) – Chicago, Illinois

· Built in 1974

· 1,451 feet tall

· Total Cost:  $150 million ($645.3 million in 2009 dollars, or $142/square foot)

· Total Square Feet:  4,560,000

Building 4:  Burj Khalifa – Dubai, United Arab Emirates[3]

· Built in 2009.  Officially opened on 4 January 2010.

· 2,717 feet tall (tallest manmade building ever built)

· Total Cost:  $1.5 billion, or $450/square foot

· Total Square Feet:  3,331,100

· Interesting tidbits:  holds the current world records for (a) tallest skyscraper, (b) tallest structure ever built, (c) building with the most floors, (d) world’s fastest elevator, (e) highest outdoor observation deck – 124th floor, (f) world’s highest mosque – 158th floor, and (g) world’s highest swimming pool – 76th floor.  The Burj Khalifa is also home to a $217 million fountain that is illuminated by some 6,600 lights and 50 colored projectors.

Building (Development, really) 5:  Mohammed Bin Zayed City Development[4]

· Built in 2012 (estimated).  Construction started in 2009.

· Project will consist of 349 residential towers, all between 12 and 22 stories tall.[5]

· Project will included public, commercial, retail and recreational facilities

· Total Residential Units:  50,000 (to house approximately 85,000 people.)

· Project will include infrastructure, landscaping and community amenities

· Project will cover approximately 5,000,000 square meters (53.8 million square feet).

· Total Cost:  $7.1 billion, or $132/square foot

Building (Development, really) 6:  City Center – Las Vegas, Nevada[6]

· Opened in 2009.

· Total size:  76 acres (1,560,500 square meters, or 16,797,000 square feet)

· Total cost:  $11 billion, or $655 per square foot.

· Features a Tram with a 2,100 foot elevated track which can handle 3,266 passengers per hour in each direction, a 6,900 car parking garage, approximately 5,000 hotel rooms and 2,400 condominium units.  All of the buildings are LEED certified “Gold.”

Building (Development, really) 7:  City Creek Center – Salt Lake City, Utah[7]

· Total size:  20 acres – 2.5 city blocks (81,000 square meters, or 871,876 square feet in total, or 1.6% of the total size of the Bin Zayed project).

· Total residential units:  700 (to house approximately 1,200 people, or 1.4% of the total size of the Bin Zayed project).

· Total retail space:  674,000 square feet

· Total (estimated) cost:  $6.0 billion (or 84.5% of the total cost of the Bin Zayed project).  $6,881 per square foot.

As the comparison shows – at least to my mind – is that City Creek Center (in Salt Lake) isn’t quite up to snuff with the other developments.  I understand that certain economies of scale come into play in developing real estate (perhaps better known as the “works of men”), but even so, would you rather have the Burj Khalifa sitting in downtown Salt Lake City, or perhaps City Center (Las Vegas’ – by comparison – huge development), or perhaps the Petronas’ Twin Towers?  Sure, they’d be out of place for the most part, but by seer architectural standards, you sure do get a lot more bang for your buck.  The most expensive of the comparison properties was built at $655 per square foot, whereas the “towers” were all built at $450 per square foot or less.  City Creek Center, by contrast, was/is being built at $6,881 per square foot, or nearly 10.5x more expensive than the next nearest comparable property, and that’s assuming that the City Creek Center utilizes every square foot of the approximately 20-acre development site.

If you compare it with the Mohammed Bin Zayed project, they are getting nearly 350 towers.  Think about that for a minute.  An entire city for nearly the same price that Salt Lake City is getting City Creek Center.  As far as “bang for the buck,” it’s hard to ignore building an entire city versus a two and a half city blocks. The City Creek Center is only 1.6% of the total size of the Bin Zayed project and offers only 1.4% of the total housing units, and yet costs nearly 84.5% as much as the Bin Zayed project.  Perhaps that should be highlighted:  City Creek Center is producing nearly 49,000 fewer housing units and yet has the price tag that’s nearly as much as the Bin Zayed project.  The Burj Khalifa will offer some 3,000,000 square feet of interior space, while City Center will merely offer 674,000 square feet.

For the price, assuming a final price tag of $6 billion for the City Creek Center, Salt Lake could be home to no fewer than four Burj Khalifa’s.  Imagine four of those structures gracing the Salt Lake City skyline, as opposed to the rather pedestrian development it seems to be.


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Church Finance – Part IV

When I concluded part III of the Church Finance series I fully believed that it was complete.  Well, not complete, but finished as far as I was concerned.  I had dug up as much information, and tried to tie as many loose ends together as I thought I could.  And, frankly, I wasn’t even interested in looking into too many details of the seedy side of church finance.  I was semi-determined to move on to other topics, if not take a break for awhile.  As Justin mentioned in his comment in Part III, this isn’t uplifting material and certainly weighs on the mind, mine included.  It’s rarely pretty digging up some of this information, even though it may be “out and about” and readily findable.  I concur.  And, yet I thought I had moved on from it.

In fact, I had even toyed with closing this thing altogether, not because of what I was writing on, or its effects on me, but because I thought my time was finished in the “blog” world.  In beginning this blog I mentioned how I had set out to do a “one year” commitment, though far from set on that 365-day timetable.  I’m not a full-time blogger by any stretch.  I’m even embarrassed to mention that I have a “blog.”  (Pride issue, methinks.)  And yet, in pondering these topics and what I wanted to do with my time prior to some of the coming changes we’re about to see, I thought it might be best to shut up shop, leave it “live” so anyone/everyone could read, continue to comment and hopefully find something worthwhile in their personal searching.  In fact, just this morning I started writing the “conclusion.”  Some people can carry on for years writing these things and on their blogs, maintaining a “following” and keeping their blogs alive.  I’m not one of those people.  I don’t particularly have an interest in continuing something like this, though I do maintain it as a way to fulfill my feelings prior to the clock rolling over into 2010.

And yet, as I started writing the “conclusion” I stopped, if only because I didn’t want to do it the way I was doing it.  Then, today, I decided to sit down and listen to an interview and see if my earlier impressions on something I discussed in Part III of the Church Finance series were right or wrong, or perhaps inadequate.  And, based on what I listened to, I’d have to give a hearty assessment of it being entirely inadequate.

I found the mp3 interview thanks to a search term someone had used to find my blog.  In the backroom of the site, I can see what people enter in some search engine in order to find my site.  Occasionally I’ll replicate those terms to see if I can find something interesting to read.  This particular day, two people entered the following search term:  “Paul Drockton Monson Oct 2010.”  Performing that search in a site – like Google – produces a result (the top result) that takes you to the Morningliberty.com website and a link therein to an interview with the very Paul Drockton[1] I sarcastically thanked in my last article, thanked for utterly blowing me off.  In fact, I found his website to not only be entirely too noisy (ads, bold font and crazy color schemes that just look like they were thrown up by a high schooler with no internet experience whatsoever.  I find it difficult to meander such sites as they’re so clogged with information that has nothing to do with the site, or are too overcrowded to make even the simplest searches annoying.  But, I digress.).  As such, I didn’t really give too much thought to his site, or his information (though the latter was largely due to information that couldn’t be verified anywhere else).

And yet, it turns out that his blowing me off (and his insanely annoying website) may have been the best thing for me as it provided me with an opportunity to find an interesting connection that I may have otherwise overlooked.  Prior to getting to that connection, I’d encourage everyone to at least listen to Drockton’s interview.  It’s 2 hours in length, but I feel it’s a good way to get to know someone and see/hear for yourself what they’re saying and whether they are someone worth listening to.  Part 2 is likely more useful, though you will miss out on some of the background behind how Drockton came to this stage of life.  If I may assert, I find it’s much easier to dismiss someone (like me) who only writes something, somewhere on some topic.  Getting to listen to some interview with that same person, though, gives everyone a chance to listen to a voice, a frequency and see if your impressions of digital ink match up with the actual voice.  And, I must say, listening to Drockton was well worth the 2 hours.  He came off a likeable, normal person who’s been through some small measure of hell for what he felt like he should expose.

Now, that being said, I found a couple of interesting comparisons on Drockton’s website that I thought I’d peruse here, if only for a couple of paragraphs.[2] I took a total of 6 buildings or developments to compare to the City Creek project that is currently being developed by the LDS church in downtown Salt Lake City.  The following represents those comparisons:

Building 1:  Taipai 101, Taipai, Taiwan[3]

· Built in 2004

· 101 floors tall (1,667 feet)

· Total Cost:  $1.8 billion, or $405/square foot

· Total Square Feet:  4,440,100

· Interesting tidbit:  The tower’s design specifications are based on the number ‘8’, a lucky number in traditional Chinese culture. The design and planning of the tower was carried out by a Feng Shui master. The elevators in the building are the fastest in the world, rising at 1008 metres per minute (60.48 km/hour) and descending at 610 m/min (36.6 km/hour).  The Taiwan Stock exchange is housed in this building

Building 2:  Petronas Twin Towers – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia[4]

· Built in 1998

· 88 floors tall (1,483 feet)

· Total square feet:  4,252,000

· Total Cost:  $1.6 billion, or $376/square foot

· Interesting tidbit: The towers are the world’s tallest twin buildings. Completed in 1998, they are connected on the 41st and 42nd floors by a sky bridge, which was designed as a safety corridor. The skybridge constructed by Kukdong Engineering & Construction between the two towers is the highest 2-story bridge in the world. Petronas Towers, designed by Argentine architect Cesar Pelli, has a beautiful blend of Islamic art, design and architecture.

Building 3:  Sears Tower (now known as the Willis Tower) – Chicago, Illinois[5]

· Built in 1974

· 1,451 feet tall

· Total Cost:  $150 million ($645.3 million in 2009 dollars, or $142/square foot)

· Total Square Feet:  4,560,000

Building 4:  Burj Khalifa – Dubai, United Arab Emirates[6]

· Built in 2009.  Officially opened on 4 January 2010.

· 2,717 feet tall (tallest manmade building ever built)

· Total Cost:  $1.5 billion, or $450/square foot

· Total Square Feet:  3,331,100

· Interesting tidbits:  holds the current world records for (a) tallest skyscraper, (b) tallest structure ever built, (c) building with the most floors, (d) world’s fastest elevator, (e) highest outdoor observation deck – 124th floor, (f) world’s highest mosque – 158th floor, and (g) world’s highest swimming pool – 76th floor.  The Burj Khalifa is also home to a $217 million fountain that is illuminated by some 6,600 lights and 50 colored projectors.

Building (Development, really) 5:  Mohammed Bin Zayed City Development[7]

· Built in 2012 (estimated).  Construction started in 2009.

· Project will consist of 349 residential towers, all between 12 and 22 stories tall.[8]

· Project will included public, commercial, retail and recreational facilities

· Total Residential Units:  50,000 (to house approximately 85,000 people.)

· Project will include infrastructure, landscaping and community amenities

· Project will cover approximately 5,000,000 square meters (53.8 million square feet).

· Total Cost:  $7.1 billion, or $132/square foot

Building (Development, really) 6:  City Center – Las Vegas, Nevada[9]

· Opened in 2009.

· Total size:  76 acres (1,560,500 square meters, or 16,797,000 square feet)

· Total cost:  $11 billion, or $655 per square foot.

· Features a Tram with a 2,100 foot elevated track which can handle 3,266 passengers per hour in each direction, a 6,900 car parking garage, approximately 5,000 hotel rooms and 2,400 condominium units.  All of the buildings are LEED certified “Gold.”

Building (Development, really) 7:  City Creek Center – Salt Lake City, Utah[10]

· Total size:  20 acres – 2.5 city blocks (81,000 square meters, or 871,876 square feet in total, or 1.6% of the total size of the Bin Zayed project).

· Total residential units:  700 (to house approximately 1,200 people, or 1.4% of the total size of the Bin Zayed project).

· Total retail space:  674,000 square feet

· Total (estimated) cost:  $6.0 billion (or 84.5% of the total cost of the Bin Zayed project).  $6,881 per square foot.

As the comparison shows – at least to my mind – is that City Creek Center (in Salt Lake) isn’t quite up to snuff with the other developments.  I understand that certain economies of scale come into play in developing real estate (perhaps better known as the “works of men”), but even so, would you rather have the Burj Khalifa sitting in downtown Salt Lake City, or perhaps City Center (Las Vegas’ – by comparison – huge development), or perhaps the Petronas’ Twin Towers?  Sure, they’d be out of place for the most part, but by seer architectural standards, you sure do get a lot more bang for your buck.  The most expensive of the comparison properties was built at $655 per square foot, whereas the “towers” were all built at $450 per square foot or less.  City Creek Center, by contrast, was/is being built at $6,881 per square foot, or nearly 10.5x more expensive than the next nearest comparable property, and that’s assuming that the City Creek Center utilizes every square foot of the approximately 20-acre development site.

If you compare it with the Mohammed Bin Zayed project, they are getting nearly 350 towers.  Think about that for a minute.  An entire city for nearly the same price that Salt Lake City is getting City Creek Center.  As far as “bang for the buck,” it’s hard to ignore building an entire city versus a two and a half city blocks. The City Creek Center is only 1.6% of the total size of the Bin Zayed project and offers only 1.4% of the total housing units, and yet costs nearly 84.5% as much as the Bin Zayed project.  Perhaps that should be highlighted:  City Creek Center is producing nearly 49,000 fewer housing units and yet has the price tag that’s nearly as much as the Bin Zayed project.  The Burj Khalifa will offer some 3,000,000 square feet of interior space, while City Center will merely offer 674,000 square feet.

For the price, assuming a final price tag of $6 billion for the City Creek Center, Salt Lake could be home to no fewer than four Burj Khalifa’s.  Imagine four of those structures gracing the Salt Lake City skyline, as opposed to the rather pedestrian development it seems to be.

Yes, we’re talking about billions of dollars, but there is simply no comparison.  The Church is either getting bilked out of its “sacred” tithing “investment funds,” or the publicized scope of work is far greater than is being published, or some serious funds are changing hands under the table.  This is the idea that Drockton’s work clued me in on.  Some are even alleging that the Church is either facilitating a money laundering scheme, someone(s) are getting some serious kickbacks or lining of their pockets, or perhaps worse[11].  Or, perhaps there’s some huge underground structure being built “hidden in plain sight.”  Whatever it may be, what’s plain to see is that the numbers and currently published information simply don’t match up.

What say you?[12]


[1]Mormons – Freemasonry Illuminati Taking Over.”  28 September 2010.  Retrieved 10/22/2010.

[2] See, “World’s Tallest Buildings.”  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[3] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taipei_101 for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[4] See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petronas_Towers for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[5] See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willis_Tower for more details.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[6] See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burj_Khalifa for more details.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[7] See:  http://www.keoic.com/projects/master/zayed/pdf/RFS-9275-SPU.pdf for more details.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[8] See:  http://www.estatesdubai.com/2009/04/mohammed-bin-zayed-city-residential.html for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[9] See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CityCenter for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[10] See:  http://www.downtownrising.com/index.php/city-creek-introduction for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[12] P.S.  My apologies to Drockton for my rather terse comments in the previous post.  I have not yet reached out to him again, but have found some measure of satisfaction listening to his Morning Liberty interview, as well as a few other articles on his **still** overly crowded website.

Yes, we’re talking about billions of dollars, but there is simply no comparison.  The Church is either getting bilked out of its “sacred” tithing “investment funds,” or the publicized scope of work is far greater than is being published, or some serious funds are changing hands under the table.  This is the idea that Drockton’s work clued me in on.  Some are even alleging that the Church is either facilitating a money laundering scheme, someone(s) are getting some serious kickbacks or lining of their pockets, or perhaps worse[8].  Or, perhaps there’s some huge underground structure being built “hidden in plain sight.”  Whatever it may be, what’s plain to see is that the numbers and currently published information simply don’t match up.

What say you?[9]


[1]Mormons – Freemasonry Illuminati Taking Over.”  28 September 2010.  Retrieved 10/22/2010.

[2] See, “World’s Tallest Buildings.”  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[3] See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burj_Khalifa for more details.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[4] See:  http://www.keoic.com/projects/master/zayed/pdf/RFS-9275-SPU.pdf for more details.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[5] See:  http://www.estatesdubai.com/2009/04/mohammed-bin-zayed-city-residential.html for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[6] See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CityCenter for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[7] See:  http://www.downtownrising.com/index.php/city-creek-introduction for more information.  Retrieved 10/25/2010.

[9] P.S.  My apologies to Drockton for my rather terse comments in the previous post.  I have not yet reached out to him again, but have found some measure of satisfaction listening to his Morning Liberty interview, as well as a few other articles on his **still** overly crowded website.

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This is Part III of a three part series.  Part I can be found here.

Now, the “other endeavors” I discussed in Part II are generally well documented, or at least in your average, run-of-the-mill newspaper outlet (i.e. Deseret News, etc) has covered these topics in some degree or another.  Pretty much anyone can find some information on these items if they but know what they’re searching for.  This next section deals with a slightly more nuanced, and hidden topic, one that is hard to pin down and find good information upon which to base this write-up.  Perhaps that is how it should be.  Perhaps I just haven’t searched using the correct terms or have not, as of yet, been led to something more concrete.  In any case, it does touch on some of the issues of this article thus far, but none more so than the Deseret Ranch in Florida.

Namely, this section discusses the possible link between larger, more nefarious financial connections and the LDS Church, as initially connected through the Deseret Ranch, at least through the point of view of someone.  It’s even slightly more difficult to pin down because of the scope of this article (generally speaking, the discussion of church finance) is a topic that is altogether avoided in Mormondom.  Outside of the COB, very few people actually know any details regarding church finance.  I count myself among the very many who know next to nothing about the details of church finance.

Cultural Hypocrisy

As some have noted elsewhere, I am likewise bewildered at how the wider church membership, which trends toward the conservative side of the political spectrum, react and respond to the church at large.  While this conservative mass decries “secret combinations” in the government, decries the lack of transparency at all levels – from local and state governments to the federal taxing authority and to the behemoth that is the (not so) Federal Reserve – and generally belittles any public figure who feigns ignorance on any given topic or those who plead the need for privacy.  Those special whipping boys include Ben Bernanke, Harry Reid and others, but the story is generally the same:  give us details on where our tax money is going, who owns or controls you, disclosure on balance sheets, etc.

One recent example included the call by many “conservative” thinkers to get full disclosure of those banks receiving money from the recent federal stimulus programs.  Those against public disclosure stated, among other things, “Our member banks are very concerned about real-time disclosure of information that could cause a run on banks.”[1] And, who is to say it’d be wrong to call for such disclosure?  But, alas, that’s not the point of my raising the issue.  My point is to suggest and point out that Mormons by and large were joining in on these requests by the boatload, led chiefly by their ringleader Mr. Glenn Beck.  [Aside:  I did find it interesting that in going to that link, the only advertisement on that page was for the “…And, I’m a Mormon!” campaign.  See this:  Mormon Advertising (1).]

It seems incredibly ironic that Mormons in general (especially those who lean conservative) usually lament the lack of transparency at governmental and corporate levels of all shapes and, and yet blindly accept what goes on inside the Church Office Building.  For example, if a Mormon gives $10,000 to any given charity, or pays $10,000 in local and federal taxes, you’d be right to assume that that Mormon (or anyone for that matter) is going to monitor that money to ensure its being used as efficiently as possible.  And, if it isn’t, that Mormon will at the very least petition the taxing authorities or whomever it is through letters to the editor, complaints, calls, or by voting those members out of office.  If it’s a charity, and the Mormon isn’t happy with where the money is going or what’s happening with it, they’ll move on and donate to a different charity the next time around.  Point is:  they vote with their pocketbook, and rightly so.

But, place that same Mormon in a temple recommend interview where they just wrote out a year end check for $10,000 in order to officially be recognized as “worthy” and this member won’t think twice about where the money is going.  That money enters the black hole that is the Church Office Building, never to be seen or heard from locally.  Whereas the member will require accountability on behalf of anyone not named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ™, inside Mormondom we Mormons somehow develop an amazing ability to not only forget about the money given to the church (or at least the details of what happens to it), but also never think twice about it.  Some would even readily give more were they able (and some do – it’s a pay-for-rewards scheme.  You pay your tithing and miraculously you purchase fire insurance and receive a key to unlock the windows of heaven).  To hell with the “poor and needy,” what we need here is a few extra billion pouring into projects like the City Creek Center.  It seems the transparency issue only works outside the walls of church.

And, if that weren’t enough, bishops near and far neither question nor think about what’s going on.  They routinely see sums in the tens of thousands of dollars (if not much more) leaving their ward or branch on its merry old digital way to Salt Lake City, never to see, hear or touch these funds again, and never stop to think about what’s happening, or if it’s the way the Lord would want it to be.  Tithing paid locally not only does not help local congregations, but is often spent on things that just don’t matter at all.  Whereas the 2010 Church Handbook of Instructions suggests that “The Lord has given bishops the sacred trust of receiving and accounting for the tithes and other offerings of the Saints (See D&C 119; 42:30-33),”[2] these same bishops “may not use tithing funds for any purpose.”[3]

Did y’all catch that?  The Church™ states that local bishops are entrusted with the “sacred trust” of “receiving and accounting” for local donations, no matter their reason, but in no way can they use these same funds “for any purpose.”  So, what does a bishop do if he needs funds to help his ward members?  Ah, fear not dear reader, the church™ has answered this question by providing wards with “budget allowances.”  Who needs tithing when the church has graciously allotted various “budget allowances.”  These budget allowances are based on “attendance” at Sacrament meeting, Young men and women classes, primary and young single adults.  If your attendance is high, your budget amount goes up.  If it’s low, it goes down.  It’s that simple.  These budget allowances were created to “reduce the financial and time burdens” on members.[4] Yes, that’s right, a ward – for example – might pay $100,000 in tithing over the course of the year.  Based solely on attendance (and notably based neither on the needs nor wants of its individual members)[5], and is then allotted a budget allowance of $5,000 or so to spend amongst its various organizations (Young mens, Young womens, Primary, Relief Society, Sunday School, activities, etc.).  The remaining $95,000 is shipped off to Salt Lake City and then invested in Babylonian investments (i.e. stocks, bonds, businesses, hedge funds, etc) for two to three years.  At the end of the two to three years, the Church™ uses the original $95,000 for “church” purposes (i.e. Temple construction, meetinghouse construction, general upkeep of properties, salaries of Church Office Building employees, and God knows what else), while approximately $25,000 (the “investment income” earned while the tithing funds were invested) is spent on for-profit projects (i.e. City Creek Center, the new Laie, Hawaii hotel[6], etc.).

So, somehow shipping 95% of local funds (my estimate, though I doubt the “actual” ratio is much different) off to a “black hole” where things go to never be heard from again is not viewed as a “financial and time burden,” but allowing the local congregations to keep the other 5% is viewed as a way to “reduce” these same financial and time burdens.  Holy smokes, Batman, is that some funky, contorted logic.  How about keeping 95% of all tithes and offerings local, while sending in 5% for the collective good of the organization?  How much help could a righteous local bishop provide with $95,000 at his disposal, versus $5,000, spread across ~300 members or so?  Act local should be the mantra (in my opinion), but instead it’s “ignore” local and think “global.”  After all, the COB knows better than we strangers in Babylon ever could.  They do employ, after all, financial advisors and investment managers to manager untold billions of dollars and are thereby much more qualified than I or you are.  Trust me.  They have the certifications to prove it and, after all, certifications are certified by some certifiably certified body of certified certifieds.

Institutional Insanity

In this scheme, and many other, the current status quo reinforces is the supremacy of the institution at the expense of the individual.  Wayne Jacobsen wrote about the “institution” in his book, So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore, and couldn’t have penned more appropriate words:

“The institution provides something more important than simply loving each other in the same way we’ve been loved. Once you build an institution together you have to protect it and its assets to be good stewards. It confuses everything.  Even love gets redefined as that which protects the institution and unloving as that which does not. It will turn some of the nicest people in the world into raging maniacs and they never stop to think that all the name-calling and accusations are the opposite of love. … Institutionalism breeds task-based friendships. As long as you’re on the same task together, you can be friends. When you’re not, people tend to treat you like damaged goods. … Any human system will eventually dehumanize the very people it seeks to serve and those it dehumanizes the most are those who think they lead it. … Over time institutions … become abusive when the demand for conformity takes over. … Once people are in love with the program and grow dependent on it as the spiritual component of their lives, they won’t see its limitations. It cannot substitute for their own life in him and it can only produce an illusion of community because it is based on people doing what it takes to sustain the institution … ”[7]

Ah, but I digress.

Paul Drockton on the Rothschild’s and Dick Cheney

Returning to the whole “secrecy” issue and high-finance, a fellow named Paul Drockton has written a few articles on the subject at large.  In researching this topic, I reached out to Drockton and found him to be far too short on offering any further details to a virtual (literally) stranger.[8] And, as a result, you’re left reading my words as opposed to some other fellow, who is more than likely much more in tune and smarter than I.

In order to understand this topic, one might start by thinking back to a few years to where Dick Cheney (of all people) was awarded an “honorary doctorate” from BYU and BYU President Cecil O. Samuelson.  The background information leading up to Cheney giving the commencement speech is perhaps worthy of its own discussion, elsewhere, but those readers familiar with Stephen Jones’ work on 9/11 may know some of these details.  And, while at this same commencement ceremony where Cheney was lauded and applauded, J. Craig McIlroy, then president of the BYU Alumni Association, offered the following words of praise on the Rothschild family[9], of all families:

“As new graduates, many of you may be focusing on the possibilities that lie ahead to create wealth for yourselves. Might I suggest that you consider wealth creation as a commodity made up of financial, human, and intellectual capital.  Business people know that they must spend 70 to 80 percent of their time growing assets. In families, growing the human and intellectual assets is often overlooked. The members in the family are the human capital. Their collective life experiences and knowledge make up the intellectual capital. The financial capital supports the growth of the other two. James E. Hughes, Jr., suggests these concepts to us in his book, Family Wealth.

He reminds us that:

In the mid-eighteenth century, Mayer Amschel Rothschild founded the House of Rothschild. This creator of the Rothschild fortune had five sons, each of whom he set up in the banking business in one of the era’s five principal European financial capitals: Frankfurt, Vienna, London, Paris, and Naples. He lent them the money to get started at lower than normal interest with the proviso that they pay him back. He directed that each son keep the profits of his individual bank once the original loan had been repaid. He also charged interest in the form of intellectual currency. He requested each of his sons relay to him every bit of financial information he gained in his city. He agreed to share this intellectual interest with his other sons. In modern terms, he created an effective information network.

Mayer Amschel Rothschild also used a powerful investment technique to manage the risk to his family’s human capital. By sending each son to a different city, he diversified his human assets into five separate investments, thereby increasing the probability that at least one of the branches would survive political and economic risks. Ultimately, only the London and Paris branches survived and continue to prosper. Today, some 250 years later, the name Rothschild is synonymous with wealth. [James E. Hughes, Jr., Family Wealth: Keeping It in the Family: How Family Members and Their Advisers Preserve Human, Intellectual, and Financial Assets for Generations (Princeton: Bloomberg Press, 2004), 32; adapted by permission]

Mayer Amschel Rothschild understood that two important elements of a family’s wealth are its human and intellectual capital. He saw to it that all family members were well educated and that they worked. He also provided specialized mentorship opportunities as his sons entered the workforce.

Like the Rothschild children, you have been given a figurative loan, if you will, in the form of a financial subsidy of your tuition by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You represent the human and intellectual capital of your own families and, in a broader sense, of the Church.

I’ll excuse you if you need to go vomit after reading that drivel.  In my book, equating humans as “capital” is as nefarious and heretical a doctrine or idea as there is, but certainly one not lost on your average member or your average congregation.  Life is, after all, about making money, ascending the corporate latter and, as a result, giving back of your time and money to the “church.”  Ironically, this very mindset fits in with the “Rothschild” mindset where humans are mere tools to use to make money.  I’m not so sure that Christ would ever refer (or insinuate or imply or even think about) to us as “capital” to both society and the church, and think that we should do more to ponder such statements.  And yet, irony abounds within this context.  Mormons are known as some of the more industrious and obedient people there are.  Right-wing Mormons (if I may resort to categorizing) who are entirely against “secret combinations” yet give people like McIlroy and Cheney standing ovations (as was done at Utah Republican Conventions dating back to the mid-1990s where Cheney was present).

Perhaps it should be noted that McIlroy is a Certified Financial Planner who just happens to live in a $500k home in the Denver area whose entire career is predicated on people amassing large sums of wealth, and thus the idea that (a) defining people as “capital” and (b) amassing “wealth” is in his best interests.[10] I’m sure there’s no coincidence there.  Or, perhaps he’s merely positioning himself to manage the untold billions in church investments somewhere down the line.

Likewise, perhaps it’s just mere coincidence, but the championing of the Rothschild’s at a BYU commencement ceremony the very same day that Dick Cheney received his honorary degree from the “hallowed” institution seems a bit bizarre.  Then again, there are no real coincidences in life.  Just opportunities for us “capital” to miss out on underlying meanings that are too nuanced for our pea brains – after all, if all we’re good for is capital then we’d be better off spending our time thinking about how to make a dollar or five for our employers and the church.  For those of you unfamiliar with the whole fiasco created by Cheney’s insistence that he be the commencement speaker[11] and the resultant wake it left for Dr. Steven Jones and his career there at BYU, here’s a footnote[12] to a good article on the topic.  Dr. Jones offered his own account of the story, stating that he was placed on administrative leave on Sept 7, 2006.[13]

It All Revolves Back to Henry Moyle

But, getting back to the financial aspect of the Rothschild’s and the LDS church, one would have to go back to the mid 1900s, if not earlier, to understand what was going on.  Back then Henry Moyle was running the church into financial ruin with an “if you build it, [church growth] will come.”  Some even credit Moyle, and the aggressive building program, with the rather infamous “baseball baptisms” of the 1960s[14] that troubled many a missionary in the latter half of the 20th century and probably even today.

This very same Moyle, incidentally, was the same to teach Boyd K. Packer the principle that it’s OK and acceptable to ignore inconvenient questions and, in lieu of answering the inconvenient questions, it’s perfectly OK and reasonable to provide answers to those questions someone should have asked instead:

“Later, as we were returning to the car, I said, “President Moyle, that was marvelous, just marvelous.  How did you do it?

“President Moyle asked, “What do you mean?”

“I said, “All those antagonistic questions he asked you; it was just marvelous the way you handled them.  He was so antagonistic and bitter and yet the interview itself was successful.”

“I have never forgotten his answer.  He said, “I never pay any attention to the questions – that is, if the interviewer is antagonistic.  If he doesn’t ask the right questions, I give answers to the questions he should have asked.”[15]

“That short statement from President Moyle held great wisdom, and on a number of occasions I have been rescued from difficult situations by referring back in my mind to his comment.”

Should I ever meet Packer, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he’d give me answers to the questions I “should have asked” if I were to ask him about this building programs, or about the Deseret Ranch, or some other topic wholly unrelated to the whole “follow the prophet” meme.  Even so, Moyle was the one in charge of buying the Deseret Ranch in the swamplands of Florida.  Barnett describes the purchase in the following terms:

“After a visit to the Sunshine State in 1949, western cattleman and church leader Henry D. Moyle became convinced that Florida’s climate would make it an ideal place to raise cattle. (The key to the industry, as uncomplicated as it may seem, is growing grass.) Moyle pitched his idea for a Florida ranch to fellow members of the church’s first presidency – the Mormons’ worldwide leadership council. The council bought the original 54,000-acre tract in 1950. In 1952, a dozen Mormon families sold their homes out west and moved to the property to help the church turn wetlands and tangled forests into roads and pasturelands.”[16]

Moyle, it seems, was an avid businessman (who’d have known that the church and business go hand-in-hand?), as well as a successful cattleman.[17] Combine his business, cattle and church interests (and positions) and perhaps the investment in a huge cattle ranch, somewhere, was all too certain.  Throw in a location near Orlando where Disney was out buying up land to build its own empire and speculation and profit-making motives are more than likely going to get a hold of people’s best interests.  So, in 1950 Moyle spearheaded the church’s efforts to purchase the Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch by buying some 54,000 acres, or roughly 85 square miles worth of land in central Florida.  There are some who suggest that this land deal, when combined with the additional acreage the church purchased later on to equal today’s total of 312,000 acres, nearly 500 square miles of land, nearly pushed the church to insolvency in the early 1960s.   Paul Drockton is one such person.

It’s no secret that the church had some severe financial problems as a result of its massive building program under Moyle.  What we don’t know, unfortunately, is what details contributed to this near-insolvency.  Was it this land grab or that land grab, or everything lumped together?  Drockton’s article suggests that this land deal indeed pushed the church to the precipice of insolvency, only to be rescued by one Roberto Vincent de Oliverri – and, if you’ve never heard of this man you wouldn’t be alone in that thinking.  De Oliverri, according to Drockton’s article, was a billionaire who somehow was tracked into by the local LDS missionaries.  De Oliverri was taken by the message (or taken by the opportunity to infiltrate the LDS church, depending on who you blieve), accepted baptism and then proceeded to infiltrate the church in behalf of the Rothschild dynasty by helping repay the $500 million loan on the Deseret Ranch once it reached default status.

The problem I have with this article is that De Oliverri doesn’t exist, at least according to the Google seerstone I have before me, outside of this article.  This is the only article (though it’s been picked up by the likes of Rense and others), where he is ever mentioned in any context.  I understand anonymity, but for someone quoted as being “the second richest Rothschild in the world at the time” who somehow met the missionaries who knocked on his door, I would think there’d be a few more details somewhere on the internet.  Perhaps that’s asking too much, but one would think that he exists somewhere outside of this article.

And, when was the last time you knew of a missionary to proselyte in the richest of the rich neighborhoods?  I served my mission along the Mediterranean amidst the richest of the rich.  While there I spent approximately seven months among the richest city in the particular country where I served.  We’d frequently see Lamborghinis, Ferraris and every other car imaginable drive up and down the streets where we lived.  We also walked some of these “richest” neighborhoods – after all, we were 20 year olds who loved a big house and fancy car as much as any other 20 year old guy – to see just how big these houses were and spot whatever fancy car we could spot.  These were houses overlooking the Mediterranean amongst reinforced steel gates, walls taller than we were in order to keep our eyes off of their stuff and lush vegetation wrapped around the houses to further obstruct our views.  Now, I only mention this to discuss some of my skepticism regarding this story.  We simply didn’t proselyte in these rich areas and, when we did, it was either a “no answer” (95% of the time) or a maid/butler/employee who answered our intercom calls.  If De Oliverri was indeed the 2nd richest Rothschild at the time, then odds are he’d be approaching the 2nd richest person in the world at that time.[18] And yet somehow not only did the missionaries find his home, but they also managed to get into his house and teach him the gospel?  A few dots aren’t lining up.

But, even so, suppose Drockton’s reporting is even remotely accurate.  Suppose somehow De Oliverri did join the church.  Would his records then be accessible via FamilySearch.org?  Perhaps, but the only thing I could find that even remotely resembled his name, as reported in Drockton’s article, was one “Robert Bra Oliveri”[19] who was born in Maryland in 1920 and died in 2002.  This Robert would have been around the right age to match the article and perhaps it was indeed him.  I don’t know.  Or maybe he’s not yet dead.  Maybe he’s still alive today shrouded in secrecy and anonymity.  I only raise these questions as a way to verify what Drockton wrote/reported in his original article.[20]

Knee Deep in Mud (that link will take you to Joseph Smith’s last recorded dream, which is well worth the read.)

It’s entirely possible that this person exists and that this story happened, but I tend to believe that the church’s financial dependence on, and co-mingling with, Babylon happened long before De Oliverri would have or could have came along to rescue Moyle and the Church™ from insolvency.  Susan Staker, in compiling Wilford Woodruff’s biography, wrote how Woodruff was then (1880s and 1890s) courting financial power brokers to help stave off “temporal” disaster with the church.  In fact, in Waiting the Worlds End Staker relates a vision/story Woodruff had on 23 August 1868 wherein he stated his belief that by 1898 Logan, Utah, would be home to over one million “Saints” and these “Saints” would already have been to Jackson County, Missouri, with President (of both the church and the U.S.A.) Brigham Young and built the temple at New Jerusalem.  Instead, almost 30 years to the date, Woodruff was cozying up with the financial power brokers and the Bohemian Club in San Francisco.  Staker describes it this way:

“In fact thirty years later on 27 August 1898, Wilford was in heathen territory – at a meeting of the Bohemian Club in San Francisco, California – rather than in New Jerusalem’s temple in Jackson County, Missouri.  He died in San Francisco a few days later on 2 September.  The distance could scarcely have been greater between the scenario predicted by Wilford and warranted by Young and the very different story which unfolded for Wilford and the church during the 1890s (with Wilford not Young as prophet).  A temple did stand on the Logan bench as Wilford predicted, but in an ironic twist, temples, rather than the signs of power he predicts, displayed church weakness within fin-de-siècle political and economic arenas.”[21]

Less than 30 years after Woodruff’s initial meetings with the Bohemian Club / Grove, one of his eventual successors, Heber J. Grant, was meeting with his own financial power brokers.  In 1923, President Grant and his associates took out a $30 million loan, using the entire temple block in Salt Lake City as collateral[22].  [For those interested, $30 million in 1923 would, today, be worth the equivalent of $374 million and change.  Let’s not be too bashful about it, shall we.]  The tabernacle, the lands, the Salt Lake Temple, Deseret Gymnasium, the Beehive House and everything in between was mortgaged to the hilt in order to finance various “business ventures.”  And, it was a mortgage that lasted into the 1970s.  One of the chief financiers of this venture was Chase National Bank.

An official affidavit of this event reads

“… one mortgage document issued by the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company in the year of 1936 to the Wells-Fargo Trust Company of San Francisco; and also one mortgage … issued by the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company to the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the purpose of securing certain debts contracted by the latter corporation form the Chase National Bank.”

So, whether the dabbling in Babylon began with Brigham Young and the multi-million dollar empire he created thanks in large part to his access to the church’s coffers, interest free[23], Wilford Woodruff and his cozying up with the Bohemians and financiers in San Francisco, Heber J. Grant and his penchant for using temples built by others as collateral on multi-million business loans in order to invest in sugar beets and God knows what else, or Henry Moyle and his leading of the church to the brink of insolvency through expansive building programs that may or may not have required a “bailout” from the Rothschild’s, I don’t think it really matters.  Suffice it to say that this sort of dabbling has been going on for decades, if not centuries and is far from an “once-in-a-lifetime” type of endeavor.

Neither Deseret Ranch and Cattle Company, nor City Creek Center is the beginning, nor, unfortunately, the end of the church’s investment in for-profit enterprises that have nothing to do with Christ, nothing to do with Zion and nothing to do with creating a gathering of saints.  Whereas the church initially began creating and starting businesses as a way to help members and to help create a Zion which had zero reliance on Babylon, however misguided they may have been,[24] today the church contents itself on creating businesses and business models that have little-to-no relation with the church or church members at all.  The only real relation has to do with using membership rolls and obligating tithing in order to make an extra dollar or two.

Heaven help us.  We sure need it.

Yea, verily I say unto you again, the time has come when the voice of the Lord is unto you: Go ye out of Babylon; agather ye out from among the nations, from the bfour winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

– D&C 133:7


[1] Madrak, Susie.  “Banks Vow to Fight All the Way to Supreme Court to Keep Fed Aid A Secret.”  April 15, 2010.  Retrieved 10/15/2010.

[2] Church Handbook of Instructions, Handbook 1 (2010), 14.6.1

[3] Ibid, 14.4.1.

[4] Ibid, 14.7.2.

[5] Mosiah 18:29 – “And this he said unto them, having been commanded of God; and they did awalk uprightly before God, imparting to one another both temporally and spiritually according to their needs and their wants.”

[6] This hotel is estimated to cost at least $30 million as of 2007, though Hawaii Reserves, Inc. (the land management arm of the church in Hawaii) admits this cost is outdated.  The 220-room hotel will supposedly be operated by Marriott International and operated as one of Marriott’s “various brands.”  Given Marriott’s penchant for allowing “adult” channels within their hotels, it will be interesting to see whether this particular hotel follows suit.  See “Hawaii Reserves plans 220-room Laie Hotel” for more information.

[7] Jacobsen, Wayne.  “So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore.”  2008.

[8] In preparing for this article, I reached out to Drockton on several occasions (via email) in hopes of getting more information on some of the questions I had about his articles.  My biggest concern largely revolved around the sources, lack of corroborating information and scanty details in many of his articles.  His only response to my various inquiries was, “All info is on the website.”  Needless to say, that was about as clear as mud.  (Cue sarcasm.) So, if any of you that read this know Drockton, feel free to pass along my appreciation. (End sarcasm.)  For a man dedicated to truth and exposing certain things, he sure wasn’t willing to share any details or open up about anything to a stranger like myself.

[9] McIlroy, J. Craig.  “Stewardship, Sacrifice and Ownership.”  Apr. 26, 2007.

[10] It’s quite amazing just how much information you can cull from the internet given a few extra minutes.  For example, in a matter of five minutes, I was able to find out where McIlroy lives (a 3000 sq. ft. house on ½ an acre valued at $500,000 in a bucolic suburb of Denver) and works (Lincoln Financial Group as a CFP).  Heck, I even know how much McIlroy donated to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign a few years back.

[11] Nadar, Ralph.  “Cheney and the BYU 25.”  Apr. 30, 2007.  In this article Nadar opines, “Could anyone have imagined that the major commencement protest at a University graduation thus far occurred April 26 at Brigham Young University (BYU)? Probably not.”  But then could anyone have imagined that the Vice President with the lowest approval rating in modern American history would request and receive an invitation to be the commencement speaker?

[12] Allan, Sterling D.  “Silencing Cheney Dissent – How BYU Obstructed 911 Justice,” Greater Things.  Feb 7, 2010.

[13] Jones, Steven.  “BYU and Prof. Steven Jones Revisited.”  May 9, 2010.

[14] See this article on Baseball baptisms for more information.  Retrieved 10/04/2010.

[15] Packer, Boyd K.  “Teach Ye Diligently,” page 63.

[16] Barnett.  “The Church’s Ranch.”

[18] Drockton, Paul.  “Did Rothschilds Buy Mormon Church.”  Retrieved 10/11/2010.

[19] See www.familysearch.org for more details and to perform your own search.

[20] It should also be noted that Drockton’s original article was based on news from one Steven Davis whose father, Clyde, happened to be cozy with the Rothschilds (at least according to Drockton’s article).  Steven Davis, if the names are correct, penned a lengthy letter to then U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales regarding some rather fishy business going on over at the COB.  His letter can be read here, though I admittedly haven’t had the time (or interest, at least not yet) to delve further into its contents and accuracy.

[21] Staker, Susan.  Waiting the World’s End.  Pages VIII-XXI.

[22] Salt Lake County Recorder’s Office, Deed No. 501, 787, Bk. 11 U, page 440, dated Nov. 19, 1923, and recorded Nov. 21, 1923. Issued by Heber J. Grant, Trustee in Trust for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Two other deeds followed: #501,790 and #502,184 also issued by Heber J. Grant. Despite this legal documentation, President Grant publicly denied it had occurred – Deseret News, 4 April 1936.

[23] See “Brigham Young’s Estate” for more information on his money issues.  Leonard Arrington, LDS Historian, once wrote, “This ability to draw, almost at will, on church as well as his own funds, was a great advantage to Brigham Young and was certainly one of the reasons for his worldly success…. while Brigham Young was probably the largest borrower of funds from the trustee-in-trust, he was certainly not the only one.” (“The Settlement of the Brigham Young Estate,” 1877-1879, Reprinted from the Pacific Historical Review, vol. 21, no. 1, Feb. 1952, p.7-8)

[24] Brady, Rodney H.  “Church Participation in Business.”  1992.  Retrieved 10/16/2010.


We left off the previous discussion on church finance with a discussion on how the church derives investment income from tithing, and then uses that investment income to invest in projects small and large, fat and skinny, the named and nameless.  And, lest the wondering minds of inquiring members get concerned, the church uses this “investment income” and is careful to point out that they are not using “tithing” funds for such projects.  Not tithing funds – just the income earned by investing tithing in largely Babylonian investments over a couple of years.

The Church is The Kingdom

So, now we get to the original reason why I started looking into this stuff in the first place, though it’s a circuitous route and has more than a few twists and turns I didn’t originally anticipate.  Not the most exciting stuff, mind you, but certainly bizarre.  Just what else does the Church ™ invest in?  What other projects do they control with their “investment income”?

One of the top items on the list of strange things a tax-exempt Church ™ owns, just so happens to be a couple of private hunting reserves.  Not your typical run of the mill religious item – after all I’m admittedly not sure how killing animals for sport/pleasure persuades people to believe in Christ – but at least it’s a potentially profitable one.  In Daymon Smith’s book, The Book of Mammon (a good read, mind you)[1], he talks how the church went from providing paid positions to unpaid, volunteer positions masquerading as “missions” within the organization in order to save money and increase profit.  The public perception of these “missions” doesn’t come off that way, but that was, and is, the net result.  Instead of a “money saving” idea, it’s billed as an opportunity to work for God’s Kingdom here on the earth.  After all, what better way to serve God than to volunteer your time building the “Kingdom”?  And, when the “church” and “kingdom” have become conflated to such an extent as to where the two are used simultaneously from pulpits far and wide, why not pimp the idea that you’re working to build the kingdom?  Interestingly, how often do we take note of this conflation and realize that never were the two to be considered twain?

Many talks over the pulpit have increased this propensity to fail to see the differentiation between the church and the Kingdom of God.  Gordon Hinckley did it several times:

“What I say of myself concerning this matter is equally applicable to all who hold office in this the Church and kingdom of God.”[2]

Ezra Taft Benson likewise asserted as much in his famous talk, I Testify:

“The church and kingdom of God was restored in these latter days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints…”[3]

LeGrand Richards likewise helped conflate the issue when he stated:

“When I was president of the Southern States Mission, one of our missionaries preached on that dream of Nebuchadnezzar in one of our meetings where we had some investigators, and I stood at the door to greet them as they went out. A man came up and introduced himself as a minister, and he said, “You don’t mean to tell me that you think that the Mormon Church is that kingdom, do you?”

And I said, “Yes, sir, why not?”

He said, “It couldn’t be.”

I said, “Why couldn’t it?”

He said, “You can’t have a kingdom without a king, and you don’t have a king, so you don’t have a kingdom.”

“Oh,” I said, “my friend, you didn’t read far enough. You just read the seventh chapter of Daniel, where Daniel saw one like the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven, ‘and there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him.’ (Dan. 7:14.)

“Now,” I said, “my friend, tell me how can the kingdom be given to him when he comes in the clouds of heaven if there is no kingdom prepared for him? That is what we Latter-day Saints are doing.”[4]

Now, it should probably be noted that there is a difference between working to establish the Kingdom (as Richards noted in that last sentence) and professing that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints™ is that kingdom.  This belief is perhaps best witnessed by hearkening back the Ronald Poelman’s talk, given in 1984, on the differences between the “Gospel” and the “Church.”[5] In the original talk, Poelman made the following astute observations:

“Of equal importance is understanding the essential relationship between the gospel and the Church.  Failure to distinguish between the two and to comprehend their proper relationship may lead to confusion and misplaced priorities … when we understand the difference between the gospel and the Church and the appropriate function of each in our daily lives, we are much more likely to do the right things for the right reasons … .”

In commenting on Poleman’s talk, and the reasons why it was re-recorded, Denver Snuffer noted the following:

“Right now testimonies within the church recite the mantra “I know the church is true.”  The correlation process has made the church into god.  People’s testimonies of the “church” have supplanted their testimonies of Christ.  Read any Ensign issue of any conference held within ten years after the correlation process, and consider how many talks focus upon the church and the church’s processes and goodness, in contrast with how many of the talks focus upon Jesus Christ and His doctrines.  Christ’s role has been diminished by the emphasis upon the correlated church.”[6]

A peculiar people, indeed.

Volunteer Missions

The Church™ was never intended to be the Kingdom, nor the Kingdom the Church.  Complementary, certainly, but never the same thing.  Now, members reaching retirement age and with sufficient financial reserves to devote a year or three of their lives are encouraged to serve a “mission” for the church.  Some of these very “missions” are served in mission homes, some as service missions and some, yay verily, are working for “for-profit” industries.  And, no matter the call, these missions are viewed as the next best thing since sliced bread.  Generations will be affected, for the better, or so the reasoning goes.  Kim Clark, now president of BYU-Idaho, offers us a glimpse into this mindset.  If you remember, Clark was the president of the Harvard Business School for nearly a decade before leaving to become president of BYU-Idaho in 2005.  Clark received a good amount of flak for his decision to leave from member and non-member alike, and rationalized his decision thusly:

“We believe that that man, Gordon B. Hinckley, is a prophet of God,” Clark told television host Charlie Rose in an interview in July, explaining his decision to leave Harvard. “And Moses says—the man who is acting like Moses says—he would like you to do something. Now, in this case, of course you`d say yes…”[7]

So, the effort becomes threefold:  (a) you label the call to serve wherever in the church a “mission,” (b) you have those missionaries convinced that they need to pay their own way as a way to build up the “kingdom” of God and (c) you belabor the idea that the “Kingdom of God” and the “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ™” is that very kingdom and (d) each “mission call” is signed, sealed and delivered with the “Prophet’s” very name and signature on each call.  And, following these four steps you reach a point where virtually any position, in any corporation within the Church can be staffed by “volunteers” more than willing to pay their way to build up the Kingdom, errrr, Church.

Private Hunting Preserves

Take, for example, Clair Huff, and his wife.  Huff spent his entire career as a wildlife biologist, including working as the Director of Operations for the Division of Wildlife Resources.  As retirement age approached, Huff and his wife began contemplating serving a mission for the Church™.  Huff had an interesting skill set, honed over years of work within the Division of Wildlife Resources.  And, the Church with its varied needs and interests, is quick to match people up with positions that match their skill set.  A mission, as is taught throughout the church system, was the most logical outlet wherein he and his wife could use their talents to “build the kingdom.”

Well Clair Huff and his wife did just that when they worked for a “private hunting preserve” along the “southwest shores of Utah Lake.”[8] Yessiree, full-time “missionaries” employed for the Church ™, working on a “private hunting preserve” that covers approximately 11,000 acres just outside of Elberta, Utah.  That “private hunting preserve” is owned, part and parcel, by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  That “preserve” is a profit making venture, or at least that’s the goal.  And, according to an article written in 2000[9], when hunting permits were running upwards of $1,500 per person, it wasn’t yet churning out a profit, though Huff could see the silver lining on the horizon.

And, lest you think the permit is only a one-time benefit, it seems as though there are lasting benefits many people would do well to acknowledge:

“Only a few pheasant and goose-hunting permits are sold each year, with hunting aficionados paying as much as $1,500 for the opportunity to hunt what is fast becoming an exclusive “club” for “members only.”

Once a hunter ponies up the cash to secure a permit, he’s not only guaranteed a permit for the following year, but his chance to draw the prime target areas on the preserve improve along with his seniority in the exclusive group.

“All of our hunters are from Utah, many of them doctors, dentists and attorneys from Payson north to Ogden, including Park City,” Elder Huff said. The flatlands also provide an additional advantage for the well-heeled hunting crowd — a 2,600-foot landing strip where private aircraft can whisk hunters in and out of the remote preserve, saving them the long and lonely drive. … “Just like the farm derives revenue from harvesting crops, the preserve is designed to produce revenue when hunters harvest the wildlife here,” Elder Huff said. … ”

As these words suggest, it’s a “private hunting preserve” that is geared toward the affluent.  Heck, how many people do you know would fly into a “private hunting preserve” in order to avoid a “long and lonely drive”?

But, this is not all. According to this same Deseret News article, the church owns at least one other preserve in Utah:

“The church owns thousands of acres of farm and ranch land throughout the West, including the Deseret Land and Livestock Co., a private big-game hunting preserve scattered over 200,000 acres in northern Utah. Hunters from around the country vie for a limited number of elk and moose permits there that cost as much as $8,500 each.”

Complete with a formal hunting lodge for housing and meals, the hunts are guided by a local outfitter in search of their “trophy” elk or buck. And while there’s no guarantee that a hunter’s bullet will find its mark, hunting on the preserve is so popular that there’s a six-year waiting list to buy a permit.

“Elder” Huff was optimistic that the operation will turn a profit for the first time in 2000, but I was unable to find any financial information on the reserve, but the track record of the church is fairly good at turning a profit, so I’m assuming that they do. Huff continued, “This is a very viable habitat, and if they continue to invest the profits back in and find an innovative manager to run it, there’s the potential to boost the number of permits we issue up to a maximum of about 250 someday.”

And as the habitat, and consequently, the number and variety of wildlife improves, the price of the permits would logically go up as well, he said.

“Imagine if we got to the point that we could boost the price (of each permit) to $2,000 or $2,500. Times that by 250, and it doesn’t take a lot to understand that this could be a very profitable operation.” (emphasis is mine.)

Count that among the things I likely will never experience in my life, what with permits ranging from $2,000 to $8,500 (and likely more, today), with their own private hunting lodges and airstrips.  Seems like the good ole boys’ club has come to roost in Utah.

The Deseret Land and Livestock, located in northern Utah, states,

“The LDS Church ownership era has been marked by conscientious business practices including strategic planning, cost control, increased production, and accountability. Emphasis on holistic management has brought a uniqueness to the ranch that is attractive to visitors from many walks of life.”  At the ranch, “hunting is a key means of generating ranch revenue.”[10] (emphasis is mine.)

So, one “preserve” just south of Utah Lake leaves us with a statement that it could be a “very profitable” venture, while another preserve up north states that hunting is a “key means of generating ranch revenue.”  Is there any real question that the church – the owner of both preserves – is operating these preserves with little other interest other than to turn a buck (pun intended)?

Not only can you hunt on these lands, but one can also experience guided fly-fishing tours.  One guide, linked to the official website of the reserve, offers one-on-one tours for “Trophy Elk” on Deseret Land and Livestock land for an insignificant sum of $17,500.[11] Or, should that be slightly out of reach of your discretionary income budget, you could just stick to hunting antelope for only $4,250 (that’s the lowest priced permit offered through this outfitter).  It’s no wonder that Huff mentioned that these preserves cater to a very specific, very affluent crowd.

As of 2005, the church owned Deseret Ranch, a different cattle ranch in central Florida, was the largest working cattle ranch in the United States.  That ranch, valued at an estimated $500 million when purchased back in the 1950s, covers approximately 300,000 acres of Florida swamp and pasture land.  It includes 1,000 miles of canals, 250 miles of roads and 1,400 miles of fencing.  The ranch employs approximately 75 full-time employees (and their families), most of which live in houses across the ranch.  On-site amenities for the employees that stay on the ranch include a swimming hole, campgrounds and a rodeo arena.  As of 2005, the ranch maintained a herd of 44,000 heifers and purebred cows.  One article estimated annual income to be in the neighborhood of at least $16 million just from the calves they sell each year at cattle auctions.[12]

Cynthia Barnett, in an article entitled, The Church’s Ranch, discussed what she called “ecclesiastical entrepreneurism” and the church and wrote:

“While the church is committed to stewardship of the land, it is just as committed to squeezing profits out of its private companies. …

And eventually, those two missions; are sure to clash on this prime central Florida property. Real estate sources estimate Deseret’s spread is worth some $900 million, though the assessed agricultural value is far lower than that. For decades, the family cattle ranches that once made up Osceola and outlying Orange counties have been gobbled up by housing developments – a pattern that’s repeating itself throughout Florida and the nation. But because the church is so rich, it has not yet buckled to pressure to sell any of its Florida land to developers. Ten years ago, the church backed off a plan to develop 7,000 acres near the Bee Line Expressway under sharp criticism from environmentalists.

Often at odds in other parts of the country over issues such as animal waste and grazing, the tree-huggers and the cowpokes in central Florida have for now become allies. For example, environmentalists helped Deseret fight a huge landfill Brevard County wanted to put adjacent to the ranch. That area is also home to one of the largest bird rookeries in the state.

Squires says the church’s long-term plans for the majority of Deseret Ranch are to keep it agricultural. But he acknowledges the business-savvy church will develop the fringes – particularly its property outside Orlando – as the land becomes more valuable. “The pressure is here,” Squires says. “But we want to be responsible and be good neighbors.” It’s in his church’s ecclesiastical and entrepreneurial missions to do so, he says.”[13]

Interesting, I wasn’t aware of an “entrepreneurial” mission to the church.  At least not an official one, but it should be noted that while outsiders view the church as “business-savvy” and striving to “squeeze” as much profit out of whatever private business their running these days, members are largely clueless as to the holdings the church has on its books.

As part of the Deseret Wildlife plan, some 45 hunt clubs lease portions of the ranch to hunt (the favored politically correct term of these articles seems to be “harvest.”  It sounds much more humane when you say we’re “harvesting” animals versus “hunting”) animals.  The ranch also harvests timber and leases TV and radio towers as a way to increase revenue.[14]

Sunstone Magazine[15] posed a thoughtful question on the matter, as well as an interesting mp3 listen, of these for-profit “hunting preserves” sometime back:

“To what degree should the principle of ‘respect for life” be extended to bird and animal creations? What do the scriptures, Joseph Smith, and other early Church leaders teach about the grand design and purposes of God’s non-human creations? Does having “dominion” over the kingdom of creatures mean we are their predators and exploiters or does it suggest a “stewardship” relationship in which we become their caretakers in order to help them “fulfill the full measure of their creation?”

If the scriptures teach, “woe be unto man that sheddeth blood or wasteth flesh and have no need,” and “the blood of every beast will I require at your hands,” what rationale could be used to explain Church-owned, revenue-generating enterprises such as Deseret Land and Livestock and the Westlake Hunting Preserve? Do these operations constitute sacrificing principle for profit?”

Aside:  The mp3 (see footnote below) has an interesting discussion on some Mormon leader (a Regional Representative) who went on several safari’s while on a church trip to visit some congregations in Africa.  While on this trip, the regional representative later related  killing both a lion and a “rare Roman antelope,” and yet had the moral strength to turn down an alcoholic beverage at a dinner that same evening.  “What peculiar priorities,” indeed.

Mormon Matters[16] and The Faithful Dissident[17] both discussed these preserves sometime ago, and in good depth.  Both touched on the aspects of hunting, or canned hunting[18] as happens at these LDS preserves, as it relates to a gospel principle and what part hunting for sport has amongst the church.  This particular article has nothing to do with the hunting aspect, but rather is to focus and touch on the financial aspect owning such enterprises – as in, why the hell is the church investing in a for-profit “hunting preserve” or “cattle ranch” or whatever the investment du jour is?  But, even with that said, one would do well to consider the ramifications of canned hunting.  Even some of the more correlated church curriculum manuals state,

“We may also eat the flesh of animals and of fowls of the air and use the skin of animals for clothing (see D&C 89:12–13; 49:18–19); however, we are not to kill animals for mere sport or pleasure and waste the meat (see D&C 49:21).”

But, with that being said, I fully admit I’m not sure just how these animals spend their dead hours.  Do all the canned hunters save the meat to eat, do some, do none?  I think, generally, your average run-of-the-mill hunter is as conscientious about what they are doing, but I wonder whether the more affluent of the bunch – those who have access to the church owned preserves through their expensive permits – have the same conscientiousness.

My guess is that it may be lacking in some areas.  For example, on the “referral” page of some of “approved” outfitters one can read the following accounts:

Whether you want a trophy deer or elk, or just want to catch some large trout, these guys can take you to the right spot. I’m already looking forward to next season. Thanks for the wall hangers!!” – Robert H. (emphasis is mine.)

“I can honestly say that they have One of the best hunting experiences you can imagine. They have a very knowledgable guides , great packers and great food. Their quantity and Quality of game can’t be matched. You will see more Elk , deer, moose in one day than you will see on most places in a season. I tell my friends that It is the Disneyland of Elk hunting because you can”t believe the quality experience that you will have.” – Matt T. (emphasis is mine.)

“We looked at close to a hundred bulls, maybe more. He never pressured me to shoot any of them, and I’m sure many hunters would have been happy to take several of them. I would recommend you to anyone that wanted a first class elk hunt. I took a heavy bull that I am very happy with. I know several people were involved in putting me on that bull.” – Ed G.

“I’ve never had an opportunity that paralleled what we were able to experience.  Fishing water that I suspect never has been fished in recorded history, not seeing a boot track, another human being, or any sign of human habitation for two days, and I personally having caught probably over 500 fish.  What an experience!!” – Lynn W.

Take those accounts for what they’re worth.  Regaling over catching a couple hundred fish, smarting about the most recent piece to the collection hanging on your wall or visiting the most beautiful of “God’s creations” while “harvesting” some of His other creations.  Canned hunting or not, in spite of it all, we’re shown time-and-again that the very “missions” the church claims as being a means to establish the “kingdom” of God have very little to do with anything resembling Christ, but rather with making money.  Profiting from animals, the land and virtually everything on this God-given earth.  No wonder the church plucked Clark from HBS to serve as the new president of BYU-Idaho in 2005: one attends HBS to make “shedloads of money,” which somehow attests that those who make the most money, are the “most morally good.”[19]

Peculiar, indeed.

***To be continued …***


[2] Hinckley, Gordon B.  “God is at the Helm.”  April 1994.

[3] Benson, Ezra Taft.  “I Testify.”  October 1988.

[4] Richards, LeGrand.  “Prophets and Prophecy.”  October 1975.

[6] Snuffer, Denver.  “The Traditions of Men, Pt. 3”  Retrieved 10/10/2010.

[7] Hemel, Daniel J.  “Summers Visits Idaho Mormon College,” The Crimson.  October 12, 2005.  Retrieved 10/10/2010.

[8]Couple Serve Wildlife Mission in Utah.”  Church in the News.  July 8, 2000.

[9]Tending the Flock,” Deseret News, July 10, 2000.  Retrieved Oct 3, 2010.

[10] See http://www.dlandl.com/pages/hunting/index.html for more details.  Retrieved 10/4/2010.

[11] See http://www.wildcountryoutfitters.com/ for the entire fee schedule.

[12] Barnett, Cynthia.  “The Church’s Ranch,” AllBusiness.com.  Dec. 1, 2001.  Retrieved 10/4/2010.

[13] Ibid.

[14] See “Discovering the Deseret Ranch” news article for more information.  May 23, 2005.  Retrieved 10/4/2010.

[15] Madson, Mac and Watts, Prestwich.  “Sacrificing Principle for Profit:  Church Wildlife Enterprises and Hunting Preserves,” Sunstone Magazine.  08/10/2001.  Retrieved 10/4/2010.

[18] Per Wikipedia:  “A canned hunt is essentially a trophy hunt in which the animal is kept in a more confined area, such as in a fenced-in area, increasing the likelihood of the hunter obtaining a kill. According to the dictionary definition a canned hunt is a “hunt for animals that have been raised on game ranches until they are mature enough to be killed for trophy collections.”

Whether you want a trophy deer or elk, or just want to catch some large trout, these guys can take you to the right spot. I’m already looking forward to next season. Thanks for the wall hangers!!

As general conference approaches, members across the world will once again convene in front of TV sets, internet connections and in other meeting houses far and wide to hear counsel from church leaders.  Every spring general conference these same members are treated to the report from the Church Auditing Department on the financial status of the Church ™.  These reports are generally banal beyond description, with no specifics given as to the findings of the Audit.  The most recent statement says this:

To the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Dear Brethren: As prescribed by revelation in section 120 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes authorizes the expenditure of Church funds. This council is composed of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric. This council approves budgets for Church departments and operations. Church departments expend funds consistent with approved budgets and in accordance with Church policies and procedures.

The Church Auditing Department has been granted access to all records and systems necessary to evaluate the adequacy of controls over receipts of funds, expenditures, and safeguarding of Church assets. The Church Auditing Department is independent of all other Church departments and operations, and the staff consists of certified public accountants, certified internal auditors, certified information systems auditors, and other credentialed professionals.

Based upon audits performed, the Church Auditing Department is of the opinion that, in all material respects, contributions received, expenditures made, and assets of the Church for the year 2009 have been recorded and administered in accordance with appropriate accounting practices, approved budgets, and Church policies and procedures.

Respectfully submitted,
Church Auditing Department
Robert W. Cantwell
Managing Director

This particular report is word-for-word identical with each of the previous five years reports, accounting for the change in the year.  Otherwise, it’s 99.5% identical (203 out of 204 words).  These auditing reports use D&C 120 to justify their existence.  In reading over D&C 120, though, I’m struck by the inherent differences between what Section 120 is actually saying, and what the auditing report sets forth as the authorization of the “expenditure of Church funds.”  Section 120 reads:

Revelation, given July 8, 1838, making known the disposition of the properties tithed as named in the preceding revelation:  Verily, thus saith the Lord, the time is now come, that ait shall be bdisposed of by a council, composed of the First Presidency of my Church, and of the bishop and his council, and by my high council; and by mine own voice unto them, saith the Lord. Even so. Amen. (See also History of the Church, Volume 3:44.)[1]

As the heading for that section indicates, section 120 is a revelation in direct response to the issue of the disposition of tithed properties named in section 119.  Section 119 is generally referred to as the section in the D&C on tithing in general and is the source of many a disputation regarding exactly what it means.  Mainstream members, and church leadership in general, adhere to the belief system that Section 119 is where we read of a 10% tithing on all income, wherein “interest” has been redefined as income.  Section 119 defines tithing as,

“Verily, thus saith the Lord, I require all their surplus property to be put into the hands of the bishop of my church in Zion, For the building of mine ahouse, and for the laying of the foundation of Zion and for the priesthood, and for the debts of the Presidency of my Church. And this shall be the beginning of the atithing of my people. And after that, those who have thus been atithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever, for my holy priesthood, saith the Lord. Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of aZion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you. And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of aZion unto you. And this shall be an ensample unto all the astakes of Zion. Even so. Amen.” (Emphasis is mine.)

Surplus.  Tithing.  Payment of one-tenth of our “interest” annually.  Zion.

Where in life do we interpret “interest” as synonymous with “income”?  The jargon of the day, back when this was written, would define these two terms as follows:

Interest:  Premium paid for the use of money; the profit per cent derived from money lent.  … share; portion; etc.[2]

Income:  The gain which proceeds from labor, business or property of any kind; the produce of a farm; the rent of houses; the proceeds of professional business; the profits of commerce or of occupation, …[3]

Now, admittedly, I’m not well versed in how the lexicon underwent a change to fully become synonymous, but one such quote comes from Howard Hunter, former president of the LDS Church:

“The law is simply stated as ‘one-tenth of all their interest.’ Interest means profit, compensation, increase. It is the wage of one employed, the profit from the operation of a business, the increase of one who grows or produces, or the income to a person from any other source. The Lord said it is a standing law ‘forever’ as it has been in the past.”[4]

I’d agree with the part where he states that interest means “the increase,” but not where he defines it as “the wage of one employed, the profit … or the income … from any other source.”  Logically speaking, I have a hard time imagining how we interpret “interest” and “income” to be synonymous.  So would most people not of the LDS faith.  Gordon Hinckley, also a former president of the church, offered this insightful comment as to how these two terms coalesce into one:

“The Brethren have interpreted the word interest to mean income. Beyond that they have not given interpretation.”[5]

The new Church Handbook of Instructions, published this year (2010), defines tithing by hearkening back to a letter issued by the First Presidency back in 1970.  This letter reads:

“The simplest statement we know off is the statement of the Lord himself, namely, that the members of the Church should pay ‘one-tenth of all their interest annually,’ which is understood to mean income.  No one is justified in making any other statement than this.”[6]

There’s that statement by the “Brethren,” those who take it upon themselves to re-define and, dare I say, transfigure the word of God.  Here’s a valid question (valid to me, at least):  how can anyone define “interest” as “income”?  What am I really missing here?  Is it some archaic definition that I haven’t yet stumbled upon, or something philosophically out of my reach?  Honestly…if any of you that read this know, please shed some light for me.  If we contrast it with the way it was practiced in Alma’s time, or 4th Nephi, we’re left with a starkly different picture:

And again Alma commanded that the people of the church should impart of their substance, aevery one according to that which he had; if he have more abundantly he should impart more abundantly; and of him that had but little, but little should be required; and to him that had not should be given.

So, let me get this straight:  the rich paid “more abundantly” while the poor that “had not should be given”?  Hmmm.  Instead, we have a flat tax tithing.  Ten percent for all parties involved.  Fast offerings when you feel generous.  As Boyd Packer allegedly said in a recent conference, “tithing is equitable for everyone: 10%. If you have nothing, then it’s 10% of practically nothing. Pay your tithing, do what you’re supposed to do.”  Right.  But then that gets back to the whole “interest” and “income” synonimization thing, something clearly way over my head.

Next we see that Utopian society in 4th Nephi discuss their way of donating:

And they had aall things common among them; therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free, and partakers of the heavenly bgift.

And yet, here we believe that the stratification of incomes, tithes and offerings a good and hallowed thing.  But then, according to many, even asking those questions or bringing them up is mere pride.  Blind obedience is a requirement of the church, for those interested.  Don’t believe me?  Ever hear why so many Mormons are enrolled in the hallowed halls of Harvard?  One author suggested that it had to do with this:

“… He is surprised at the large presence of earnest Mormons and unimaginative former-military men in this cauldron of capitalism. But gradually this begins to make sense, for HBS is pervaded with an oppressive atmosphere of unquestioning obedience and creepy religiosity. … For all its vast reputation, power and pomposity, you feel that HBS neither understands the complexity nor acknowledges the chaotic unpredictability of the world economy any better than anyone else. More conclusively, it encourages its little alumni to major in hypocrisy. You go there for one simple reason: to make shedloads of money. Fine, so it’s no crime in itself to want to be absurdly and pointlessly rich, although it’s certainly no virtue. What sticks in the gullet is graduates’ self-flattering delusion that they’re on some kind of crusade, their “very American” insistence, as Delves Broughton puts it, on being not only “the most powerful, the richest and most successful”, but also “the most morally good”. At the same time as learning how to manipulate billions in order to profit, say, from ordinary people’s fretful indebtedness during a recession, you can believe that you are a philanthropic leader of men.”

Manipulating billions of dollars?  Sounds sort of like our recent spending sprees and rationalizations.

Thrift, Prudence and Conservatism in Action

Hinckley, in the same talk he gave which referenced the divine word that flows from the “Brethren” informs us, “I deplore waste.  I deplore extravagance.  I value thrift.  I believe in prudence and conservatism.”[7] Most people who grew up through the Great Depression could likewise echo such sentiments, and most truly believed and practiced such thrift.  That is, practiced such thrift with their own money.

A mere six years after making this statement, the church (with Hinckley now in charge as President of the Church) announced that it would build a new “Conference Center” to replace the worn and tattered Tabernacle on Temple Square.  Hinckley then, later, went on to describe the Conference Center as “a unique and remarkable building.”  He also went on to describe the “planning” of the building, stating, “we were not concerned with building the largest house of worship to be found anywhere.  We were concerned with a plan to accommodate the needs of our people.”[8] Actually, that notion may not have concerned those involved in the planning process, but it certainly didn’t stop them either.  LDS.org is careful to point out that the Conference Center is, “the largest religious indoor auditorium in the world.”  Could it be aptly described as a “great and spacious building”?

Hinckley then recounts his announcing the building of the Conference Center back in 1996.

“About a year ago [1995] I suggested to the Brethren that perhaps the time has come when we should study the feasibility of constructing another house of worship on a much larger scale that would accommodate three or four times the number who can be seated in [the tabernacle].”[9]

In describing the building, Hinckley then tells the audience that it was to be built “of the finest materials by the ablest craftsmen … a magnificent center.  It is not a museum piece, although the architecture is superb.”  And, the main justification was to replace the 3,500 seat capacity tabernacle with something “three or four times” larger.  For those keeping track, the LDS church originally sought to build something that could seat 26,000 people, before settling on the “prudent” number of 21,000 and change.   That’s a mere 6x larger than the old tabernacle.  So much for sticking with the “three to four times” figure.

During this same time (1999) the Nauvoo temple rebuild was announced.  Hinckley noted, on more than one occasion, how “…large contributions of money and skills were offered. Again, no expense was spared.”  It’s not like the precedent hadn’t already been set elsewhere – the church has a reputation for the “no expense” mentality, whether it’s on a temple, the Joseph Smith memorial building or this conference center.  So much for thrift, prudence and conservatism.

Then, in reading Isaiah 2:2-3, 5, Hinckley informs us that the Conference Center, in conjunction with the SLC Temple, is how that prophecy should be applied (as fulfilled).  Isaiah 2:2-3, 5, for those interested, reads:

“And it shall come to pass in the alast days, that the bmountain of the Lord’s chouse shall be destablished in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all enations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us ago up to the bmountain of the Lord, to the chouse of the God of Jacob; and he will dteach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of eZion shall go forth the flaw, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  … O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us awalk in the blight of the Lord.”

Am I reading that correct?  The SLC Temple + the Conference Center fulfills this particular prophecy by Isaiah?  Hmmm.  So now we build buildings unto ourselves so that we can say a prophecy is satisfied?

During the dedicatory prayer for the Conference Center, Hinckley led the Hosanna Shout.  The Dedicatory prayer of this edifice contains this language:

“Together they [Church Office Building, the Administration Building, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, the Lion House, the Beehive House, the Tabernacle, the Assembly Hall and the SLC Temple] become a testimony of the strength and vitality of Thy work, the headquarters of Thy Church, and the fountain from which truth rolls forth to fill the earth. … We dedicate this magnificent hall, unique in its design and size, constructed to house the thousands who through the years will gather here to worship Thee and to be entertained in a wholesome and wonderful way. … May all who pass this way … look upon this structure with respect and admiration.  We dedicate the great organ, the beautiful halls and other rooms … May it be a thing of beauty to the beholder both inside and out.  … May it give expression to the declaration … that “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”  … We also dedicate the theater … it is a beautiful structure.  … May the desire of the people of Thy Church to improve and beautify this area be appreciated by all who pass this way.  We pray that favorable expressions may prevail and grow until there is universal acceptance and appreciation for what has been done.   … This is the area to which Thy people came seeking asylum from the oppression they had known. Now this has become a great cosmopolitan society to which people from all over the nation and the entire world have gathered. …”[10]

I’m caught by the humble nature this dedicatory prayer rolls off his tongue.  The buildings erected by man – the COB, the Administration Building, the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, etc. – testify of the strength and vitality of “THY work”?  Really?  The Lord needs buildings and monuments built by men to testify of His work?  And, am I reading that right to suggest that this Church is “the fountain from which truth rolls forth to fill the earth”?  All from the Conference Center.  Like this past weekend, where the truthfulness of “Follow the Prophet” was rammed into our heads every 10 minutes or thereabouts?  Even my mother, a true blue member if there ever were one, remarked how something must be “amiss” with the members to have such a message shared so frequently in one conference weekend.  Man, if that’s the fountain of truth, maybe someone might want to look at putting a new filter or two in the water system.  After all, we’re not talking about natural fountains, but man-made fountains as the testimony of His work.

And, lest these details get lost on us, Hinckley – the man who proclaimed to value “thrift,” “prudence,” and “conservatism,” all while deploring “waste,” and “extravagance” – states (in a dedicatory prayer nonetheless) that the building is “magnificent,” that the building itself demands to be looked upon with “respect and admiration,” that it is a veritable “thing of beauty to the beholder both inside and out,” and, lest we forget, a “beautiful structure.”

Thomas Monson, the current president of the Church ™ and successor to Gordon Hinckley, preceded this hubris (if only in time and space) by saying,

“Thanks be to God for our noble prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, who, with the foresight of a seer, recognized the need for this magnificent facility and, with the help of many others, “went to work.” The result is before us today and will be dedicated this morning.”[11]

Yes, the Church ™ fully believes that the foresight needed to build such an expansive and expensive building could only be done by a Seer.  Really?  The gifts of seership are in use, and we didn’t even know it.  Ammon, in teaching the people of Limhi (thanks be to Bruce for those handy chapter headings), described a seer in the following terms:

“…a seer is a revelator and a prophet also; and a gift which is greater can no man have, except he should possess the power of God, which no man can; yet a man may have great power given him from God. But a seer can know of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall all things be revealed, or, rather, shall secret things be made manifest, and hidden things shall come to light, and things which are not known shall be made known by them, and also things shall be made known by them which otherwise could not be known.”[12]

Would it be presumptuous of me to borrow from Isaiah wherein he stated, “…the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep. For behold, ye have closed your aeyes, and ye have brejected the prophets; and your rulers, and the seers hath he covered because of your iniquity.”  Or, perhaps from Micah wherein he stated, “Then shall the seers be aashamed, and the bdiviners confounded: yea, they shall all cover their lips; for there is cno answer of God.”?  Otherwise, can we really deem the building of the conference center as evidence that a seer is among us, using the gifts of seership?

Ah, the hubris of me.  But, I digress.

And, perhaps with sarcasm dripping from his mouth, Monson, in this same talk, continued on to say,

“As we view the disillusionment that engulfs countless thousands today, we are learning the hard way what an ancient prophet wrote out for us 3,000 years ago: “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase.” [Eccl. 5:10.]

Sarcasm, over the pulpit in general conference?  We’d only be so lucky.  Instead, he (and we) fully believed this statement.  It simply can’t apply to us, the Chosen Ones, but rather to other churches, other people, other nations, other whoremongers and other idolaters.  But, certainly not the LDS Church ™.  We just dedicated a $300 million building[13] towards which we could look with “respect and admiration,” surely we’re exempt from these vices of clinging to our silver.  Then again, maybe we don’t love our silver, just our buildings and our money.  And our cash.  Cash is the denomination of choice.  “You can buy anything in this world with cash.”

The subsequent Church News likewise glowed with optimism:

“While the new Conference Center was the focus of much attention during the 170th Annual General Conference, it could not overshadow other indicators of spiritual growth and progress in the Church. Two members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy were sustained to the First Quorum, two other men were called and sustained to that quorum, and five Brethren were sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. In addition, 39 new Area Authority Seventies were sustained, and plans were announced for six new temples.”[14]

As the above indicate, the Conference Center is not only a “magnificent” building, but also an “indicator” of our “spiritual growth and progress in the Church.”  Sounds sort of like my financial life.  If I live with my parents, I’m necessarily delegated to “destitute” status.  But, if I buy that house that’s 8000 square feet too big for my needs – then it’s an indicator of my growth and progress in the world.  Only then can I attest to my growth and progress.  The bigger, the better.

The Channeling of H. David Burton

It seems as though the writers of these blurbs were channeling the same thinking that H. David Burton has used to build (and publicize) the building of the City Creek Center.  Recently, Burton provided an update to the Salt Lake Tribune and offered these glowing thoughts:

“Salt Lake City is a dynamic, wonderful place to live, work and visit. We want to do our part to keep it that way.  For the church, our world headquarters and some of our most sacred and historic sites and grounds are located right across the street from City Creek. It’s important for us to protect what we consider sacred space. City Creek’s design and the overall environment it creates will help us do that. … This is a huge project that has taken years of planning and work, and I personally feel a great sense of satisfaction seeing it come to fruition.”

Well, I’m glad someone is feeling the satisfaction at spending billions of dollars redeveloping downtown SLC.  D&C 101 has an interesting parable that I thought of in re-reading this quote.  In that parable (verses 43 through 57 or thereabouts) a nobleman had a “very choice” spot of land.  In that “choice” location, the nobleman commands his servants to go into his vineyard and (a) plant 12 olive trees, (b) set watchmen “round about” the olive trees, (c) build a tower in order to look over the land “round about” such that the nobleman’s land might not be broken down “when the enemy” comes to steal the fruit of his vineyard and (d) an hedge for protection purposes[15].  Simple instructions, or so it seemed.

Then, as they’re building the foundation of the tower they stop (they had dutifully fulfilled the other requests), start to argue and rationalize not building the tower by suggesting that the money might be used for other, more profitable ventures.  Then – surprise – the enemy comes and wrecks the whole scene.  While the servants were arguing about the tower, they became “slothful” and forgot about the enemy.  Interestingly, the first thing the enemy did was to break down that hedge, which caused the servants to flee in fear.  Then, though the account doesn’t contain the particulars, sometime while the nobleman is chastising his slothful servants, the enemy built a (a) wall, (b) tower and (c) set up his own watchmen.

Where the nobleman used “natural” (i.e. hedge) protection, the enemy used “manmade” (i.e. wall) protection.

As I read Burton’s comments – both in the above quote and elsewhere, it’s been a running theme of the City Creek project – I can’t help but note how he is justifying the billions of dollars of money on the project as a way to “protect” sacred land and sacred sites.  It’s the same logic that ruined the Black Mesa for the Hopis.[16]

Investment Income

But, at least they aren’t building such extravagant “walls” (i.e. City Creek) with tithing funds.  Right?  Right?  Well, we, as members of the Church ™ have been told that tithing is used for “the construction of temples, the financing of the worldwide missionary effort, the building and maintenance of meetinghouses, and other worthy purposes.”[17] And, we’ve been told ad nauseum the City Creek project isn’t using any tithing funds.  But, perhaps we should dissect how exactly tithing funds are spent.  Denver Snuffer made an instructive comment on the process in which tithing funds are used, and how, several months back.  It is worth the time to read, so I’m including it here for our collective reading pleasure:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a three-year system for collecting and spending tithes.

In the first year the funds are collected.

In the second year the funds remain invested while a budget is prepared for spending the tithing.

In the third year the funds are spent.

During the time when the funds are collected (first year), they are put to use in investments or deposits which yield a return.  Similarly, while they remain invested during the second year, they also yield a return.  When the third year arrives, and the funds are being spent on budgeted expenses, until the day they are spent they continue to collect interest or a return.

The amount of tithing collected in the first year is the amount designated “tithing” contributions.  This is the amount that is budgeted and spent in the third year.  All of the return on tithing yielded in the form of interest or return on investments is treated as “investment income” not tithing.

When the church spends “tithing” on temples, chapels, publications, etc. those monies are confined to the original amount collected as “tithing” only.

When the church spends “investment money” those include the interest, return, etc. collected on the tithing money during the three year cycle from when originally collected until the time it is spent.  It also includes the returns on the returns as they accumulate over the years.

Therefore, when the church announces that a project (like the large reconstruction of downtown Salt Lake City) is not “tithing” but is “investment income” of the church, this is the distinction which is being made.”[18]

The Difference Between Shrewd and Dishonest

So, they invest tithing funds in interest bearing accounts (stocks, bonds, hedge funds, etc).  The tithing they use “official” projects, but the income they earn on our tithing money is used on projects like City Creek.  Sort of reminds me of how Ernest Wilkinson used to hold firesides to instruct people on the difference between being “shrewd” and “dishonest.”

Hugh Nibley recounts these stories in Brother Brigham Challenges the Saints and writes:

I got to know [Ernest L. Wilkinson] quite well, beginning with our clash at the very first faculty meeting. He had given a degree to a friend in Washington, and some of the faculty protested that degrees should be bestowed or at least approved by colleges, such being the immemorial practice of universities. Well, a paper was circulated to that effect, and some people signed it. Wilkinson stormed into that first faculty meeting in a towering rage: This has nothing to do with right or wrong, whether it was moral or immoral is irrelevant. The only question is, was it legal? Who would dare question him on a point of law? Who signed this protest? I had signed it, so I stood up, and I was the only one. “Come and see me in my office!” I did, and we became good friends—being a lawyer, he was not at all upset by adversarial confrontation; in fact, he enjoyed it. I was his home teacher at the time, and he started out at the “Y” by familiarizing himself with the students with a fireside at his house, followed by other such firesides, some of which I attended. The theme of his discussion in all of these was, “What is the difference between being dishonest and being shrewd?” He illustrated each time by his own case. When he was in Washington fresh out of law school, he was looking for a job, and so found himself in Senator King’s office. The senator was not there, but the secretary allowed him to use the phone for what he said was an urgent call. It was urgent indeed, for he called up the office of Justice Charles Evans Hughes and said, “This is Senator King’s office speaking. I would like to recommend a certain young man, etc., of high qualifications to work for the Justice.” And so he became a clerk to the celebrated Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes—not dishonest, just shrewd.

At the second faculty meeting we got another shocker. The family that owned the farm on Temple Hill where President Wilkinson wanted the land for expansion refused to sell. President W. would appeal to eminent domain, but it was his introductory remark that rocked us: “I never yet saw a contract I couldn’t break,” he boasted.[19]

So, perhaps the church is only being shrewd in suggesting that our tithing funds aren’t funding projects like City Creek Center.  Not dishonest.  Just shrewd.  Maybe I should use that logic on my wife and see how she takes it.  I’d be willing to bet that distinction isn’t recognizable in my household, but then I don’t have billions of dollars burning a hole in my pocket.

In thinking on this, I did a few calculations, just to see what kind of tithing funds would be needed in order to produce enough investment income to pay for a $3 billion project.  Here is the math.  For ease in calculations, I assumed that the church held the tithing funds in an interest bearing account earning a relatively conservative 10% interest per annum for three full years.  This will necessarily underestimate the total tithing funds in play, but will give the reader a glimpse of the figures we’re looking at coming into the general tithing fund.  And, likewise, this helps out on the back end where the full $3 billion wouldn’t be spent all at once, but rather over the life of the project.

So, in order for the church to generate a $3 billion fund at the end of three years, at 10% annual interest, compounded monthly (see, that Babylonian education does provide dividends – pun intended), the church would need to set aside no less than $861,6xx,xxx each of those three years.  Now, according to what the church tells us, 100% of these funds are entirely devoid of any tithing.  That means that the church is generating at least $860 million per year in investment income, for this project alone.  Think on that for a minute.  This analysis assumes that 100% of the investment income for that 3 year time period was being dumped into one account, that the church had no other “for profit” needs at the time.  (Yes, that’s a ludicrous proposition.  If the church is generating that kind of investment income, one would do well to ponder where else the money is going.)

If we continue this cat and mouse game, that would mean that the church was generating somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 billion per year in tithing income.  And, that’s assuming that no other money was going to any other project of any kind for any reason.  And, it’s not like transparency is a big deal over at the COB, so we have no idea what projects they have going on.  City Creek just happens to be one of the more (if not the most) prolific projects the church has done in sometime.

***To be continued…***


[1] See:  http://www.boap.org/LDS/History/History_of_the_Church/Vol_III.  Retrieved 09/30/2010.

[2] http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,interest

[3] http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,income

[4] Hunter, Howard W.  In Conference Report, April 1964, p. 35.

[5] Hinckley, Gordon B.  “Rise to a Larger Vision of the Work,” Ensign, May 1990, p. 95.

[6] First Presidency Letter, March 19,1970.

[7] Hinckley.  “Rise to a Larger Vision of the Work.”

[8] Ibid.

[9] Hinckley.  “This Glorious Easter Morn,” Ensign, May 1996, 65.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Monson, Thomas S.  “Dedication Day,Ensign, May 1996, 64.

[12] See Mosiah 8:13, 15-17.

[13] It’s semi-hard to peg down the actual cost of the Conference Center.  Some have the final cost at $240 million, some have it at $300 million, some have it at $350 million.  So take that for what you will.  I’d actually venture to guess it’s at the higher end of those figures, if not more.  Just a guess.

[14] “News of the Church,” Ensign, May 2000, 102-12.

[15] See D&C 101:53.

[16] See this write-up for more detail on the Black Mesa, including how I think it relates to H. David Burton:  The Hopi, Mormons and Mother Earth.

[17] Johnson, Daniel L.  “The Law of Tithing,” Ensign, Nov. 2006, p. 35-36.

[18] Snuffer, Denver.  “Tithing.”  Apr. 1, 2010.  http://denversnuffer.blogspot.com/2010/04/tithing.html.  Retrieved 10/2/2010.

[19] Nibley, Hugh.  Brother Brigham Challenges The Saints.  Pages 87-90.