Posts Tagged ‘Deseret Ranch’


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.

Advertisements

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!!