Posts Tagged ‘Henry Moyle’


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.

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Mormons, Coal Plants and Hopis

What do Mormon land settlers, coal power plants, corruption and Native Americans have to do with each other?  As it turns out, quite a lot.  Add a dash of intrigue, attorneys and no small amount of greed and power (and the lusting after), and you end up with a story full of surprises.

Before delving into the salacious details of the intrigue, greed and power, it is important to understand the geographic location we’re dealing with, as it will play a role in nearly everything that follows.  This location, as it turns out, begins our path with the Hopi Indians.  Native Americans, as it turn out, have been on the unfortunate end of land wars for hundreds of years.  That should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the history of the United States.  History has proven that the white man has felt it his divine duty to control, coerce and castigate Native Americans (and anyone else for that matter) anywhere and everywhere they could.  Lest you, the reader, think you are in a superior position than these Native Americans, it might be worthwhile to study adhesion contracts and how that pertains to our (not really) Federal Reserve.[1] That, though, is well outside the bounds of this article.

Hopi Lands and Mother Earth

To better understand the larger issue is oftentimes difficult for the modern American who is so detached from the spiritual aspects of our Mother Earth.[2] Our western civilization is patterned to ignore the spirituality of things not seen, instead preferring to focus on the tangible items all around us as our gods.  This methodology is in stark contrast to eastern religions and the larger Native American community.  Indeed, in doing research for this very topic, I came across an interview of a traditional Navajo, Roberta Blackgoat.  In the course of that interview, in a discussion that we’ll pick up later, she stated that the church “is everywhere … land is the repository of religion, economics, sociology, history, science. … coal is the liver of the earth.  When you take it out, she dies.”[3] This statement merely serves to highlight the increasing gulf between the differences that western civilization sees as church and religion versus what the Native Americans and other eastern religions see as church.

Needless to say, to the Hopi and other Native American tribes, Mother Earth and her lands are sacred.

The subsurface resources are equally sacred, with analogies found in human organs, as noted above.  This issue, from a macro perspective, is admittedly difficult to touch on satisfactorily in this piece, but hopefully you, the reader, will still be able to take something away from this discussion.

With this necessary preface, we turn, if only briefly, to Black Mesa and the other lands which will touched upon later.  The Black Mesa makes up the land where the Dine (Navajo) and Hopi reservations in northeastern Arizona can be found.  Philip Coppens, in his article The Wanderers of the Fourth World,[4] goes into extensive detail on both the historic and current meanings that make up the Black Mesa area.  Black Mesa is part of a trilogy of mesas which make up “the sacred circle” from whence, according to the Hopis and other clans, they emerged into this, the Fourth World, and where each clan must return when they complete their four “divine migration[s]” before exiting the Fourth World and venturing onto the Fifth World.

According to their traditions, the Hopi mesas are the real center of the world, the homeland of the Hopi and the ultimate (and final) destination of the wandering tribes.  When the other tribes completed their “divine migrations” they returned to the mesas and either settled on, or near, the mesas.  The Bear Clan, the first to complete their four migrations, arrived at Mesa Verde and settled on Second Mesa.  The Snake Clan returned some time later and settled on First Mesa.  With each subsequent tribe that returned home, it became the responsibility of these tribes to welcome , or reject, the new tribes.  The Bear Clan, being the first to return from their migrations, takes on the dominant role in such judgments.  Though each returning tribe brought on natural social consequences, the Hopi seemed most concerned about the rightfulness of each tribe returning to the Three Mesas and whether the returning tribes had the right to reside among the other tribes near the Three Mesas.  The most pertinent question, it seems, as to whether these tribes would be allowed to access the “sacred center” would be whether each tribe had lived according to the divine rules  set out upon entrance into the Fourth World, and whether the had abused their magical powers (a magic jar of water, given by Maasaw, the caretaker of the land.  The water jar meant the clans/tribes could settle some distance away from rivers and bodies of water and create springs or rivers wherever they settled.  Once the tribes resumed their journeys, they would take the jar with them and the sources of water where they were would dry up[5]).

In Hopi mythology, their deities are believed to live in the San Franciscan Peaks, the highest of which is Mount Humphreys at 12,643 feet.  To the Hopi, this mountain is called Nyvatukya’ovi and is within view of the Hopi reservation, which lies some 65 miles to the east.  These deities would depart from these peaks on or about December 21st of each year (the winter solstice) and reside on the mesas until after the harvest of late July, at which time they’d return to the San Franciscan Peaks.  The peaks make up but one of the four “sacred mountains” found throughout the four corners area.  These “four sacred mountains” complement the “four migrations,” the “four cardinal points,” and the “four seasons.”[6]

Though the four migrations were divine instructions from the Maasaw, some have argued that the Orion constellation provided a map with which the Hopi (and other tribes) organized their sacred sites.  In Philip Coppens’ article he provides an image, pasted below, which shows the striking similarities.  The Three Mesas, of which the modern day Black Mesa is one, represent Orion’s Belt and the center of the world.

Gary David, author of The Orion Zone, states that:

“[the constellation] Orion provided the template by which the Anasazi determined their villages’ locations during a migration period lasting centuries. Spiritually mandated by a god the Hopi call Masau’u, this ‘terrestrial Orion’ closely mirrors its celestial counterparts, with prehistoric ‘cities’ corresponding to all the major stars in the constellation. By its specific orientation the sidereal pattern projected on the Arizona high desert also encodes various sunrise and sunset points of both summer and winter solstices.”

The astute observer may notice the similarities in the language that modern day Mormons (and others) use to discuss kingdoms (i.e. terrestrial, celestial, etc).  Given that the four migrations would be guided by the stars, Gary David further argues that these migrations were purificational migrations, in “accordance with the movements of the stars, the deities.”[7] Coppen concludes his article by hearkening back to a discussion on the Fourth World, suggesting, “The Hopi elder Grandfather Martin held a press conference in 1991, arguing that we were seeing the end of the Fourth World and that eight of the nine prophecies related to this event, had already occurred. The final prophecy and ninth sign of the Hopi states: “You will hear of a dwelling-place in the heavens, above the earth, that shall fall with a great crash. It will appear as a blue star. Very soon after this, the ceremonies of my people will cease.” … the Ancestral Puebloans are expert stargazers … It were the skies that they had depicted on the landscape of the Fourth World, and it will be the skies that will inform them when this World comes to an end. As such, the Hopi are indeed an “apocalyptic movement” in the strictest of terms. And they believe that only their ways is what keeps this Fourth World in balance. Just like Maasaw had said all along…”[8]

This will become important later on, especially in understanding how the Hopi and Navajo regard the sacred Mesas, but we’re getting a little ahead of ourselves.

Land Settlements

Back in the mid-to-late 1800s Mormons, among others, were settling land all across the southwestern United States.  Part of the appeal in settling these lands was the prospect of being able to, thanks to the Desert Land Act, buy large swaths of land at reduced prices.  The Desert Land Act[9] of 1877 stipulated that settlers could buy up to 640 acres for $1.25 per acre if (and only if) these settlers continued to settle and improve these lands.  Naturally, those buying the land and acreage end up acquiring title to both the surface and subsurface rights.  Those rights, in the right hands and in the right location, can and did make many a man no small fortune, provided these people knew just what they had in those surface and subsurface locations.

No problem, right?  Well, at least if you were a land settler, but what about those charged with surveying the lands, building the railroads and governing the lands?  Perhaps.  Indeed, for those original Mormon settlers, this was a problem.  For readers familiar with Mormon history in the late 1800s, the Edmunds Act[10] should ring a bell.  This act, enacted and signed when Chester Arthur, the 21st President of the United States[11], was in office, was the acted that banned polygamy (at the federal level) and produced no small number of headaches for Wilford Woodruff and other Mormon leaders at the time, and certainly was one of the chief steps which led to the ending of polygamy.  The Edmunds act was signed in 1882, a year that has significance in this discussion.

Also in 1882, President Arthur signed an Executive Order, Executive Order Reservation of 1882,[12] which hampered Mormon settler’s ability to acquire land in northeastern Arizona under the Desert Lands Act.  This Executive Order, instead, created a reservation for the Native Americans to use as they “see fit to settle therein.”  The creation of a reservation would not only force relocation upon the Mormon settlers, but also create a safe haven to harbor the resources which had been surveyed by the US Government in 1881 as part of the transcontinental railroad reaching Arizona.  During this surveying, the US Government had sent the Army to subdue the “savage tribes” who had blocked access to their resource rich, yet sacred, lands, and in the process discover vast swaths of both coal and copper.  As a result, the creation of the reservation would, quite purposefully, enable President Arthur and the US Government to keep control of the mineral resources for another day.

That future day would come approximately 80 years later and would once again find the Mormons and U.S. Government at the center of the action.  Whereas 1882 found Mormons on the short end of the stick due to governmental intrusions and restrictions relating to the divisive issue of polygamy, the 1960s would find Mormons deep in the pockets of government agencies and working hand-in-hand with the same government to profit from the sacred “center of the earth.”  A mere 80 years had traded an adversarial relationship with a much more friendly, and profitable one.  And this time, it was the Native Americans and their sacred lands who suffered at the hands of some Mormons and the U.S. Government.

Peabody + John Boyden

Enter, no doubt graciously, both Peabody Coal[13] and John Boyden.  If you’re anything like I was prior to this write-up, you have probably never heard of either.  By the time this is over, if you’ve even ventured this far, you’re likely to concur that you’d rather not hear of them again.  And, who could blame you?  Unfortunately for us, both play an integral role in this story in more ways than not.

Peabody Coal was a coal and energy operation that, by the 1950s, was losing ground on other coal companies and experiencing significant financial losses.[14] Seeking outside sources of cash, Peabody, in 1955, began to court and approach outside investors.  Along came Sinclair Oil who acquired 95% of Peabody’s stocks and, with newfound access to outside revenue sources, began an aggressive campaign to find new sources of revenue and, as a necessary byproduct of this new revenue, coal.  Prior to the merger Sinclair owned and operated profitable strip mines and was the nation’s 3rd largest coal producer, while Peabody was the 8th largest producer.  Following the merger with Sinclair, Peabody doubled its “production and sales by opening new mines in the western United states, including Arizona.”[15] Today it provides more than 10% of all the U.S. electricity, and more than 2% of worldwide electricity needs.[16] Unfortunately, if we left the story at that, we’d be missing some of the most important factors in this discussion with the Hopis and their sacred mesas.

Meanwhile, while Sinclair and Peabody were increasing operations and investments both near and far, an unbecoming attorney by the name of John Boyden was making a name for himself.

In 1946 we find Ernest Wilkinson, a Mormon attorney from Utah working for the Department of the Interior, setting up a law firm in Washington, D.C.:  Wilkinson, Clagun and Barker.  This firm was set up to handle tribal claims from across the U.S., and indeed handled more claims than any other law firm in the country.  Wilkinson had drafted the original legislation for setting up the Indian Claims Commission and was well acquainted with the tribal practices and policies.  The ICC was written in such a way that tribes could only receive monetary compensation, and no land.  Wilkinson, and his firm, would charge legal fees of between seven and ten percent for these claims, based on what the Interior Department paid out.

Concurrently with the set-up in D.C., Wilkinson returned home to Utah to create a partnership with John Boyden, another Mormon attorney, who would handle the Indian claim cases.  Wilkinson would become rich off these claims cases and eventually retired.  He ran for the U.S. Senate and lost, but was soon appointed to become the president of BYU, a Mormon owned and operated school, from 1951 to 1971.[17] During this time Wilkinson would oversee the entire Church Educational System, as well as representing the Mormon Church in Washington, D.C. through his firm.  His firm, incidentally, received the equivalent of $31.4M for their work “on behalf” of the Ute tribe and in concert with the Indian Claims Commission.[18] Always the gracious man, Wilkinson didn’t accept a salary from BYU until his return from an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate in 1964.  During his tenure as President of BYU, Wilkinson oversaw an unparalleled period of construction.  Some 77 permanent and 82 temporary buildings were constructed during his presidency.[19]

This period of immense building was a replica of the same building that was going on through the Mormon Church.  Over at the Church Office Building, Henry Moyle was spearheading the building programs of the church.  Moyle’s motto was much the same as the one made famous in Field of Dreams:  “If you build it, [they] will come.”  His aggressive efforts, which included the original idea to establish a 312,000 acre cattle ranch in central Florida and the doubling of the size of the Church Office Building.[20] His thoughts, relative to building, can best be surmised by his own statement regarding the purchase of land where the Washington, D.C., LDS temple would eventually be built, which was purchased for a pretty penny:  “we cannot go wrong by getting property if it is properly located.”[21] He was also known for his “lavish” spending on mission homes – a practice questioned by some in the Church Office Building as being too extravagant, far more extravagant than mission president’s would have decorated their own homes – throughout the world and was, indeed, proud of his role in the building program.[22] His efforts put a serious financial strain on the Church at large, pushed it near bankruptcy, brought about tangible fears that the Church might not be able to meet payroll and, among other things, led to the Church ending the practice of reporting its financial reports during general conference.

John Boyden, meanwhile, became the tribal lawyer for the Hopis and, for the next 30 years, continued to work for both the Hopis and Peabody simultaneously.[23] This act constituted a serious ethical violation – working for both sides of the table of a negotiation – and did so at the expense of the Hopis.

At the end of the 1950s and the start of the early 1960s we find Boyden trying to convince both the Hopis and the Navajo that it’s in their best interest to sign over the subsurface rights of the Black Mesa to Peabody, arguing that such a decision would bring untold monetary riches to both tribes, and bring their tribal members out of poverty.  The same arguments that are now used to build tribal casinos across the U.S. were then used to convince both tribes that they should sacrifice what they viewed as sacred (one of their hallowed mesas) at the altar of the almighty dollar.  Boyden had been working to craft an inclusive strategy to address the political, legal and economic issues which would lead to the opening of the coal deposit of the Black Mesa.  Regarding this legislation, Hopi tribe member Dan Katchongva, stated, “If [this bill] becomes law, it will destroy our Hopi way of life, religion and law.”[24] The traditional Hopi were furious with Boyden’s efforts, his role in the legislation and the influence he represented.

While the Navajo rebuffed Boyden’s efforts, the Hopi offered no such resistance, but mostly because it lacked a tribal council that could effectively represent itself.  The Hopi tribal council was the epitome of a fractured group.  The Hopi had lacked a governing tribal council since 1938, and Boyden saw some silver in that lining.  Or was that gold?  I forget.  Ever the capitalistyer, Boyden goes around the Hopi community, gathering the Mormon, English speaking converts and convinces them that the riches are theirs if they but sign over their souls in return for the ability  to let someone, err Peabody, mine the black gold, err coal.  Boyden had a natural “in” with the English converts.  Boyden was a Mormon bishop, a respected role to which the converts would have given a high degree of respect, especially considering their status as new “converts.”  Boyden was also extremely well connected in groups of power – be it through the Indian Claims Commission, his law practice or his connections with Mormon federal judges and Ernest Wilkinson, among other connections.

Now, let’s take a step back and realize what Boyden was doing.  While working with the Hopi tribal council he organized, made up of English speaking Mormon converts, he would buffalo the Hopi’s into believing that he was working to help alleviate poverty among the destitute, return some semblance of prosperity to a culture run ragged by wrongs committed for centuries and help bring monetary riches into the hands of these tribal members.  And yet, to Salt Lake City (and elsewhere) he would return to exchange information with Peabody executives, craft and negotiate terms that were so one sided (in favor of Peabody) as to nearly defy reason – except it doesn’t when we consider the sway that money and power have over most all of us – and return and report to the Hopi tribe with a straight laced face, convincing them that “All [was] well.”  Or, so he would say.

This circuitous route brings us back, again, to Peabody.  Through a series of backdoor dealings, legislative wrangling and a duplicitous lawyer or three, the mine leases and permits were granted approval in 1966.  At this stage, perhaps it’s rather pointless to state that the leases were secretly signed, foregoing the tribal referenda on either side.  Both tribes tried to fight the inevitable – the Navajo’s blocking the mining equipment with frail roadblocks, and the Hopi eventually trying the route to sue their own tribal council on the claim that the lease had been signed without a quorum.[25] Makes one wonder (I am that one) whether the Hopi were enlisting the services of Boyden to initiate this lawsuit, which they ultimately lost (quick, look surprised).  And another, “Quick, look surprised!” moment would be found in the millions of dollars Boyden made representing the Hopi , paid by the government out of monies held in trust for the Hopi, all while claiming to be working “pro bono”, to say nothing of his double handed dealings with both Peabody and Hopi.

Peabody would go on to create one of the largest strip mining projects ever envisioned, and what would become a test site for future strip mining locations overseas, principally in China.  The strip mining efforts of Peabody, as all strip mining does, left the land a total mess.  Part of the negotiations (again, thanks to Boyden) included no clause to renegotiate any terms, a much lower payout rate ($0.30/ton versus the standard $1.50/ton paid out by the government on such contracts), no environmental protections and the right to use over 1 BILLION gallons of water per year) almost ensured that troubled times were ahead for the “sacred ground.”  Certainly someone got the better end of the bargain, and it wasn’t the tribes.  In a matter of a few years, Peabody had gone through thousands of years worth of water.  Think on that for a minute.  Thousands of years worth of water used up on slurry in a matter of years.  As a result, the water tables literally dried up, the aquifers began to run dry and wells no longer worked.  The mining was literally killing the tribe members living in the area.  Meanwhile, the strip mining continued unabated, creating toxic rivers, polluted dirt and a gray ashen soil, properly labeled “orphan soil banks,”thanks to acids, metal run off, and sediments from the exposed coal beds.  The end result?  Little more than a “sterile wasteland.

So, before continuing on, why did Boyden do what he did?  Why did he knowingly and fraudulently represent the Hopi’s all while representing Peabody?  Why did he knowingly structure a deal that so favored Peabody, at the expense of the tribe he was representing and at the expense of the environment, the Hopi’s “sacred” land?  According to Charles Wilkinson, the man who unearthed the communications that proved that Boyden was working for both Peabody and the Hopis simultaneously, it was due both to Boyden’s conviction and ambition.  Wilkinson stated:

“Just as important as his (Boyden’s) ambition, I have come to believe, was his certitude, the absolute conviction that he knew what was best for society … This certitude, if not the conflicts of interest, put Boyden in a large body of people from Brigham Young to Nathan Meeker to John Collier to Wayne Aspinall to Stewart Udall – men who knew to an absolute certainty what was right for the Colorado Plateau. Conquest by certitude.”

Marston’s article describes the reasoning as a parallel to what Wilkinson called the “Big Buildup.”  To what greater good did Boyden sacrifice his Indian friends and violate the most fundamental legal ethic? Wilkinson calls it the Big Buildup.

“The cities around the plateau – Salt Lake, Albuquerque, Las Vegas, even Los Angeles – wanted growth. So they reached into the Plateau to mine Black Mesa coal, dam Glen Canyon, and build large and polluting power plants.  Occasionally, those behind the Big Buildup were blocked. Kaiparowits coal is unmined, the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon and the Green and Yampa rivers in Dinosaur National Monument remain undammed, Junction Dam in Canyonlands was never built.  But they succeeded often enough that today Albuquerque, Salt Lake, Phoenix and Las Vegas are among the fastest-sprawling places in the nation.”[26]

Perhaps it’s only due to a “conquest by certitude,” as Wilkinson calls it, or perhaps it’s a mix of conviction, greed, money and power.  You be the judge.  The results speak for themselves.

From Peabody to Kennecott

Kennecott purchased Peabody in 1968, a mere two years after the first permits to mine the Black Mesa was issued, for $622M – about 70% higher than Peabody’s market value.  By 1968, the efforts to grow coal production had made Peabody the #1 coal producer in the United States.  Today, that sum would be more than $3.8B.  Quite the investment, it seems.  Kennecott would turn around and sell Peabody for a cool $1.0B in 1977, after a series of legal challenges were levied by the FTC and the FTC forced Kennecott to divest itself of Peabody.  Today, that same $1.0B would equate to slightly more than $3.8B, nearly a wash in terms of an investment, other than the cash flow Peabody would have produced from 1968 through 1977.

There’s an interesting story behind Kennecott, which is now part of the larger Rio Tinto conglomerate.  Kennecott was founded in 1901, with financial backing from the Havemeyer, Guggenheim and J.P. Morgan families.  Havemeyer introduced a young mining engineer named Stephen Birch to both the Guggenheim and J.P. Morgan families in hopes of getting financial backing to create a promising copper mine near the Kennicott Glacier in Alaska.  The two international financiers – Guggenheim and J.P. Morgan – agreed to finance Birch and formed Kennecott.  The Guggenheims, the most powerful force in the industry at the time, later took the Utah Copper Company – and the Bingham Copper Mine – under the umbrella of Kennecott and began further efforts to dominate the worldwide copper, gold and, eventually, coal extraction processes.  Interestingly, Zion’s Bank was the bank who originally gave the initial financing to get the Bingham Copper Mine (and Utah Copper) off the ground and running.[27] Later, in 1952, Kennecott was responsible for nearly 46% of the nation’s copper output and 25% of the worldwide copper production.  The Bingham Copper Mine, at this same time, provided two-thirds of the copper output in the United States and Kennecott’s annual revenues topped $470M ($3.8B in today’s dollars).[28]

Today, Kennecott maintains a significant presence in and around the Salt Lake Valley, with over 93,000 acres of land under ownership, including the Daybreak subdivision where the Oquirrh Mountain LDS temple was recently built.  The Daybreak subdivision, interestingly, is a suburb that is being built on the “tails” of the Bingham Copper Mine.  Inside the Daybreak community is a sixty-acre man-made lake which forbids swimming given its ironic location atop a brownfield.[29] The reason the lake is sitting atop an area classified as a brownfield is because that is where some of the tailings from the Bingham Copper mine reside.  Literally, Daybreak is sitting on a pile of waste.  The tails, in mining terminology, are the materials left over after the process of separating the valuable contents of the ground (the ore) from the worthless is completed.  In essence, the tailings are nothing more than waste.  Some communities, such as Quebec, even require closure plans before mining has even begun, as well as a significant financial guarantee to cover estimated rehabilitation costs.[30] But, for those monitoring such activities in Utah, this is of little-to-no concern, or so the tea leaves in my view seem to read.  Not only do master planned communities get built on the waste, but so does a $400 million LDS temple.

From Kennecott to the Corporation

Interestingly, today the upper ranks of Mormondom include, perhaps not so coincidentally, former Kennecott Copperites.  Among these Copperites we find, principally and most notably, H. David Burton, the current Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Burton joined the ranks of the Mormon Hierarchy as the first counselor to the Presiding Bishop in 1992, but only after proving himself over the course of 14 years as the secretary to the Presiding Bishopric.  Three short years later, in 1995, Burton is promoted to the Presiding Bishop, where he remains today.[31]

So, the question I pose at this juncture, is:  what’s the purpose?  Perhaps it’s a stretch – and I’d be the first to admit that logic – to assume anything here means anything other than mere happenstance.  Mere blots on some strange piece of paper.  Seems likely.

The Presiding Bishop is the highest position inside the hierarchy in regards to the Aaronic Priesthood.  Perhaps, to help myself better make this connection, I should resort to a simple bulleted list:

  • Oversees the temporal affairs – i.e. buildings, properties, commercial corporations, etc. – of the church.
  • Oversees bishoprics
  • Part of the “Council on the Disposition of Tithes” – the group that decides how to spend “sacred” mammon.
  • Has power to convene the “Common Council of the Church,” the group which can initiate trials on the President of the Church
  • To whom do you pay your tithing?  Certainly, it’s not paid to the Chapel of the Provident Beefsteak…or, is it?
  • Oversees the “LDS Foundation,” a department which “correlates, encourages, facilitates, and accepts voluntary philanthropic contributions to the Church and its related organizations and activities.”[32]
  • Chairman of the Board of Directors of Property Reserve, Inc., the commercial real estate arm of the Church which owns numerous other investments and companies.

The Church Handbook of Instructions[33] simplifies (or is “stupefies” the better word here?) the duties of the Presiding Bishop as:  “The Presiding Bishopric is the presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood of the Church (see D&C 107:15). Under the direction of the First Presidency, the Presiding Bishopric administers the temporal affairs of the Church (see D&C107:68).”[34] As it pertains to the general church membership, the fewer details the better.  That way, no one questions the purposes, roles and policies involved.  After all, how exactly does one define “administer” in this context?  Or, how do we interpret “temporal affairs”?  Does it include investments in corporations whose motive is “profit at all costs,” does it involve the exploitation of lands and people who stand in the way of profit?  Naturally, the hierarchy wouldn’t define it that way, but if those temporal affairs include such activities, then perhaps those definitions should be questioned a little more often.

While there is, as the previous statements suggest, corporate speak that defines this or that role, perhaps one way to give us a more colloquial definition would be to look at news clippings where the Presiding Bishop makes statements.  We could simply define the Presiding Bishop as the Chief Financial Officer, after all, that’s what he is, but we’ll also peruse some articles, at least on one topic.

This method reveals, first and foremost in my case, thousands of results in our Google seer stone on one topic near and dear to our hearts:  City Creek Center and Downtown Rising.  The first announcement of the massive City Creek Center was made on October 3rd, 2006, in a meeting between Burton and the Salt Lake City Council, among other attendees.  During this meeting, Burton stated, “This project sets the course for Salt Lake’s downtown for generations to come.”[35] How was this idea conceived and hatched?  I’m not really sure, though perhaps this statement by Burton sheds some light:  “[I] sought advice from some of the best minds in the country.”[36] This statement will mean more, at least from a spiritual context, when we read some later statements on how much religion, or not, touched on this project.

Less than a year later, in August 2008, in another statement on the City Creek Center, Burton offered this enlightening update of the project, “Some of the most sacred ground for the church … is immediately adjacent to this project and part of the reason we are proceeding with it … It’s important for us to see Salt Lake as a safe, clean, marvelous place to live and to visit.”[37] Ah yes, there it is:  “Sacred ground” which necessitates that everything around it get developed into commercial, retail and office space.  “Sacred ground” being used as a means to sacrifice development upon the altar of Mammon.  How “nice [and] very well-done,” in the words of Burton himself, is it to be able to develop next to “sacred ground” and “see” the beautiful appearance of the buildings the development will erect.  Though the initial costs of the development were thought to be around a cold billion, with a ‘B’, the reported costs have climbed to upwards of four billion, with some estimates proposing that the cost will exceed six billion by the time it’s finished.  Six billion dollars?  To develop “sacred ground”?  That would be the logic of mixing mammon with God, at least in my uninformed opinion.[38] Though the scriptures suggest that we cannot mix God and Mammon, somehow the modern trademarked church thinks it knows better, and that the conjoining of God and Mammon is not only possible, but perhaps the best way to work through the issues of both the “sacred ground” and the developing of the same.

The updates on the City Creek project have, predictably, been given over the past couple of years with Burton being the point of contact.  Now, in 2010, Burton has stated that the “sacred ground,” err, “City Creek” project will be “the economic engine for more development in Utah.”[39] Other articles, such as one from the New York Times, are careful to point out that the church has “no religious goals in mind for City Creek.”[40] In this same article, Burton is quoted as saying, “There will be no evidence of the church within those blocks.”  Interestingly, the same article quotes anonymous “church officials” as stating that the City Creek project is a modern economic stimulus the same way the welfare system was a stimulus during the Great Depression.  So, just what are we to make of this using “sacred ground” as a pretext for developing something that will produce “no evidence of the church within those blocks”?  Interestingly, if we’re to grant the land adjacent to the Salt Lake Temple “sacred” status, then the church is doing the very same thing to that land that Boyden (and others) did to the “sacred” land of the Hopi – namely, exploiting said land for monetary purposes.  To be sure, I don’t subscribe to this idea that the land next to the temple was or is “sacred,” but certainly note that Burton had used its “sacred[ness]” as an integral reason for redeveloping said land.

Returning to the economic stimulus discussion, through some contorted illogical verbal gymnastics thrown out by the Mormon oligarchy to their fawning admirers, we went from a stimulus program that created the modern church welfare system and has helped some (though certainly not all)[41] people with temporary needs over the course of decades to the modern economic stimulus of the City Creek project.  Perhaps it’s worth nothing that the City Creek project is a real estate investment project that will temporarily (through early 2012) employ some construction workers, while producing commercial rental income for church owned corporate ventures – that is, presuming the project makes money – which will merely be re-used to fund other for-profit projects should it make money.  Perhaps we could only be so lucky as to have the economic downturn hamstring the project.

In fact, these actions are entirely consistent with earlier proclamations made by Burton.  In a February 2003 news article, Burton is quoted as saying, “the church should seek to do a better job parlaying Temple Square visitors into downtown cash.”  This quote can be read in the hyperlinked article in the previous sentence, but can also be found in the following excerpt from Daymon Smith’s recent book, The Book of Mammon, which discusses these statements (and others):

The same developer that so successfully brought to Utahns their Gateway to luxury commodities with much‐adjectivized names, sporting famous international brands, would also head up this exciting development: Brother Kem Lardner. (His name actually is Kem). Then head of The Boyer Company, and now head of Gardner Properties, Lardner had “developed” thousands of acres in Utah into commercial enterprises, land just sitting around and waiting to be put to work and churn out Capital. Not yet honored with the office of Presiding Bishop that usually attends such energetic capitalization of God’s creation, Lardner nonetheless sank his great girth in the seat of the executive committee of the Corporation’s for‐profit Bonneville International Corporation (BIC). Owner of many radio and television properties throughout the U.S., BIC sometimes competes with AVD for production work.

The new 22‐acre development Burton was announcing would be called City Creek Center, in honor of the now tiny strand of “water‐like liquid” that long ago as actual water rushed by Brigham Young’s Beehive House and provided him with sweet cold water to wash down his favorite meal: boiled potatoes, topped only by salt, like the Palace made for the Jazz. Honestly, you can’t make this up. The City Creek would survive eponymously, forever, as an even more upper‐scale “mixed use” facility than even The Gateway offered its satisfied patrons. Let’s all build to suit the richest among us, to paraphrase Jesus in the Sermon on the Flout. Everyone was happy, grinning, counting the gold in their pockets and rubbing it across their delightsome, shining faces. According to a Nordstrom agent, “Taubman pulled together a project that we were overwhelmed with.” Lardner and other developers and interested parties pulled together a coalition branded “Downtown Rising,” a powerful branding and messaging campaign that no doubt cost millions to create. It was said, often and loudly, though without evidence, to be the largest city redevelopment project in the history of the U.S. “It” thrust a record $10 billion behind the machines that would destroy and rebuild a ten‐block perimeter around Temple Square.

In an earlier article in the Deseret News, published before the initial purchases, Burton claimed, entirely sincerely, “the Church should seek to do a better job parlaying Temple Square visitors into downtown cash.”  With a billion, or ten billion dollar investment, that conversion of visitor to capital was sure to come about more efficiently. Burton continued, “Obviously one of our strengths is to get people downtown, and we ought to leverage that strength…We ought to encourage them to come down an hour early and have dinner.” The report suggested that Burton “seemed keen on virtual reality,” and he felt that “Simulation and things like that are all part of what we’re anxious to look at.” As part of our striving for simulation, the new mega‐mall would be enclosed. But Burton pointed out, “We can do a lot of things architecturally to give you a feeling of openness so you can see the blue sky and the snow falling in the wintertime.”  This Plato’sCave2.0, updated for our modern era where churches proselytize in digital realms, and design media for digital personas, this simulacra of life will also validate for your parking convenience.

Hopefully, at the end of this discussion, we can come to grips with the gymnastics needed to justify such an expansive project.  A project which is the baby of the Presiding Bishop, err CFO, a former executive at Kennecott.  While the dots are tenuous, and I’m the first to admit that they are, perhaps they underline a general malaise that afflicts us humans:  we will do whatever we can to make a buck or one billion – to hell with the consequences.

Luckily for us, returning to the initial connections that led to this convoluted story, we have a modern example that gives us a picture of the next victim of the exploitation of our Mother Earth.

A More Modern Analogy:  Jon Stewart on Afghanistan

Too bad for the Hopi, and the Navajo, and that they didn’t have anyone speaking up and saying what Jon Stewart states in the following video.  Wait, they did, but no one listened then either.  Oh well, it’s worth the watch anyway:

Too bad, for us, no one will be listening this time around either.  Greed, power and money tend to have a much louder voice.  Picture the voice of Zeus thundering down on the plains of Thessalonica, while a tiny field mouse squeaks his disdain for being awoken from a small catnap.  Or so I digress.  Yes, Afghanistan is screwed.  First, war torn.  Now, the “ore for terror” begins.

Of course, perhaps we shouldn’t ask why both the Pentagon and the U.S. Geological Survey were there in the first place, analyzing just how much valuable stuff lay under ground in a country which now “will never not know war.”  Perhaps we shouldn’t ask any more questions.  Perhaps we should just continue to rape and pillage the earth to satiate our ever growing corporate needs.  Yes, corporate needs.  Corporations are people, too, dontcha know?!  And, if they are people, then they have needs that need to be met.  Those needs, naturally, are profit and viability – which go hand in hand.  If they aren’t profitable, then they aren’t viable.  And so, in order for these needs to be met, we should ensure that we go wherever we can to make sure there’s something for them to do, to profit off of.  Enter Afghanistan, conveniently, and there you have it.

I suppose that’s what we get when we mix war, corporations, politics and money.  The more colloquial name might be:  the military industrial complex.  Add lots of money.  One trillion dollars worth, and potentially much, much more.[42] Like we couldn’t see that coming.  And, if this Peabody/Boyden/Kennecott/U.S. Government situation is anything remotely similar to what the Afghani’s are about to face, I’m sure there will be many people profiting from the value of the minerals – that is to say corporations, lawyers and politicians.  Anyone, that is, but the Afghani people.

Then again, I’m sure everyone involved will be assured of the good stuff, the bad stuff will ignored and no one will think twice about it.  The environment will more than likely suffer, the people in the area will more than likely suffer – be it through wars, environmental disasters, economic problems, corruption or something else entirely – and the corporations and politicians involved will assuage everyone into thinking life’s good, all is well.  Meanwhile, out the backdoor they will waltz with billions of dollars in hand, leaving the tailings for someone who won’t even know what they are for another decade or three.

Truth

Unfortunately for us, the scriptures all too often attest to a fact that is perhaps best seen through direct experience.  Mormons aren’t exempt from these facts, nor are the Native Americans, nor are politicians, nor the corporations, nor anyone else.  What scripture, specifically, am I referring to?

“… the arights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be bcontrolled nor handled only upon the cprinciples of righteousness.  That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to acover our bsins, or to gratify our cpride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or ddominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens ewithdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.  Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to akick against the pricks, to bpersecute the saints, and to cfight against God.  We have learned by sad experience that it is the anature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little bauthority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise cunrighteous dominion.  Hence many are called, but afew are chosen.  No apower or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the bpriesthood,”  (D&C 121:36-41, emphasis added.)

That’s no small indictment, it seems.  To those wondering why I underlined “ere,” it was to draw attention to its meaning.  “Ere he is aware…” can be translated into our modern lexicon as either meaning (a) “Before he is aware” or (b) “Sooner than he is aware.”[43] So it is with us.  Any degree of unrighteousness produces a situation where we’re left alone, sans priesthood, sans any connection with heaven, and we’re left alone in that state while fully thinking and believing that we’re fully connected, doing the bidding of the Lord.  Ah, the consequences are myriad, are they not?  This certainly seems to be describing what Boyden did – “conquest by conviction” – and I have also fallen prey to this in my own life.  When a connection is as tender as the connection we can hold with the heavens, it’s no wonder that we’re all too convinced of our righteousness when doing our own bidding.  Perchance we should be a little more careful of what it is that we’re really pursuing.

So, I’d suggest that this story can be simplified into the following:  the Native Americans were buffaloed into exploiting their sacred lands in the name of money and profit, profit that went into the hands of lawyers and corporations who more than likely used religion and perceived authority and righteousness as a way to exploit the lands, all the while likely being convinced of our rightness.  We can rest assured that there are corporations, individuals and politicians all willing to continue this degrading process.

And, if we can’t find any solace in that inevitability, perhaps we can find solace in the following:

“For the aearth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be bagents unto themselves.  Therefore, if any man shall take of the aabundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the blaw of my gospel, unto the cpoor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in dhell, being in torment.” – D&C 104:17-18

May all who read this, including myself, not be found in those described that group.

There is a lot more to this story that I did not include in this write-up, but most especially – to me, at least – are those concerning the spiritual ramifications of the traditional Hopi’s distrust for Mormons and the white man.  The Hopi’s are viewed by some Native Americans in a similar light as the Levites are viewed by those interested in the House of Israel.  They are also viewed, through some of their spiritual proclivities, as the only ones holding chaos at bay – the only ones keeping us from entering the fifth world.  There are some who suggest that the Hopi are on the verge of letting go.  That is to say, the world has declined to such a state of perversity – including and especially how the world degrades and exploits Mother Earth – that they no longer want to hold chaos at bay, they no longer feel that there is any good to be gained from such altruistic actions.

I am not prepared to comment on these metaphysical aspects of this story, nor am I anywhere near informed enough to even attempt it.  I merely mention it here in case there are others who are interested, or more “in the know,” wish to address the topic here or elsewhere.

Suffice it to say we have been indicted in more than one way, none of which are good.


[1] Adhesion Contract:  http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/adhesion+contract.  Retrieved 06/08/2010

[2] See Mosiah 2:26; 2 Ne. 9:7; Mormon 6:15 and last, but certainly not least, Moses 7:48.

[3] Judith Nies.  “The Syncline and Roberta Blackgoat.”  http://www.angelfire.com/realm/dinehinfo/pages/blackmesasyn.html.  Retrieved 06/08/2010.

[4] Philip Coppens, The Wanderers of the Fourth Worldhttp://www.philipcoppens.com/hopi.html.  Retrieved 06/08/2010.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Coppen.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Desert Land Act:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Desert_Land_Act.  Retrieved 06/08/2010.

[10] Edmunds Act:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edmunds_Act.  Retrieved 06/08/2010.

[11] Chester Arthur. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chester_A._Arthur.  Retrieved 06/08/2010.

[12] US Code, Title 25, § 640d-9.  http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/25/usc_sec_25_00000640—d009-.html.  Retrieved 06/08/2010.

[13] Peabody Coal, History.  http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Peabody-Coal-Company-Company-History.html.  Retrieved 06/09/2010.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] http://www.peabodyenergy.com/Profile/PeabodysHistory.asp.  Retrieved 06/09/2010.

[17] Danae Friel, BYU Magazine, “Ernest L. Wilkinson, University Builder.”  http://magazine.byu.edu/print.php?a=207.  Retrieved 06/09/2010.

[18] Ibid.

[19] http://unicomm.byu.edu/president/wilkinson.aspx.  Retrieved 06/13/2010.

[20] Richard Poll, Working the Divine Miracle:  The Life of Apostle Henry D. Moylehttp://signaturebooks.com/?p=2016.  Retrieved 06/13/2010.

[21] Gregory Prince.  David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism, page 265.

[22] Ibid.  Page 214.

[23] Ed Marston, High Country News, “Seeking Justice for all on the Colorado Plateau.”  07/05/1999.  http://www.hcn.org/issues/158/5125.  Retrieved 06/16/2010.

[24] Judith Nies, Orion, “The Black Mesa Syndrome:  Indian Lands, Black Gold,” Summer 1998 issue.  http://arts.envirolink.org/arts_and_activism/JudithNies.html.  Retrieved 06/15/2010.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Marston, “Seeking Justice for all on the Colorado Plateau.”

[27] “A Shining Star in the Business Community.”  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/59370/A-shining-star-in-business-community.html.  Retrieved 06/09/2010.

[28] Kennecott Corporation History.  http://www.fundinguniverse.com/company-histories/Kennecott-Corporation-Company-History.html.  Retrieved 06/08/2010.

[29] Lucy Raven, Triple Canopy, “Daybreak.”  http://canopycanopycanopy.com/7/daybreak.  Retrieved 06/09/2010.

[30] Tailings.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tailings.  Retrieved 06/09/2010.

[31] Biography:  H. David Burton.  http://www.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/background-information/leader-biographies/bishop-h-david-burton.  Retrieved 06/15/2010.

[32] http://filehost.org.ru/files/516/Church_Handbook_of_Instructions.pdf.  Retrieved 06/16/2010.  Page 168.

[33] Ibid.  Page 466.

[34] Ibid.  Page 14.

[35] Jason Swenson, “City Creek Center.”  10/07/2006.  http://www.ldschurchnews.com/articles/49614/City-Creek-Center.html.  Retrieved 06/16/2010.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Angie Welling, “Bishop Burton extols quality of City Creek Center.”  08/17/2007.  http://www.deseretnews.com/article/695201642/Bishop-Burton-extols-quality-of-City-Creek-Center.html.  Retrieved 06/16/2010.

[38] For a discussion on this, perhaps we should turn to the scriptures:  “No man can aserve btwo masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” 3 Nephi 13:24.

[39] “City Creek Center Project releases progress report,” April 20, 2010.  http://www.fox13now.com/news/kstu-city-creek-project-progress-report,0,5725205.story.  Retrieved 06/16/2010.

[40] Kirk Johnson, New York Times, “Project Renews Downtown, and Debate.”  02/07/2010.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/us/08saltlake.html.  Retrieved 06/16/2010.

[41] See Daymon M. Smith’s book, The Book of Mammon, for an in-depth discussion on the shortfalls of the welfare system, among many other interesting stories emanating from the Church Office Building (COB).

[42] Afghan Riches:  Mineral Wealth Raises Questions for the U.S. http://www.istockanalyst.com/article/viewiStockNews/articleid/4221139.  Retrieved 06/16/2010.

[43] Definition:  Ere.  http://1828.mshaffer.com/d/search/word,ere Retrieved 06/16/2010.