General Conference has come and gone for October 2021. For the next few weeks, each of my episodes will be a breakdown of each session. In this episode, Scott covers the Saturday evening session.
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Your thoughts on Sister Eubank’s talk were right in line with mine. This sounds like the Church trying to take credit for the boots-on-the-ground work being done by individual members. Also, her quote about statistics: “While the more than 1,500 COVID-19 projects were certainly the largest focus of the Church’s relief over the last 18 months, the Church also responded to 933 natural disasters and refugee crises in 108 countries. But statistics don’t tell the whole story.” These statistics don’t even begin to tell the story. The Church has $100 Billion. How much money was spent on Humanitarian Aid this year?
Someone pointed out to me that her statistics are like going to the bishop for tithing settlement and saying “I paid tithing 12 times this year… Let me tell you a story about one time…”
I found this part of Brother Wilcox’s talk very interesting (“Damon” is the young man struggling with pornography):
At one such low moment, Damon said to his priesthood leader: “Maybe I should just stop coming to church. I’m sick of being a hypocrite.” His leader responded: “You’re not a hypocrite because you have a bad habit you are trying to break. You are a hypocrite if you hide it, lie about it, or try to convince yourself the Church has the problem for maintaining such high standards. Being honest about your actions and taking steps to move forward is not being a hypocrite. It is being a disciple.”
I found this problematic for a couple of reasons: (1) The leader tells Damon that he will be a hypocrite for lying or hiding things. The Church has a long history of lying about things and hiding things. To call one of its members a hypocrite if they do the same is… hypocritical. (2) He also tells Damon that he will be a hypocrite if he tries to convince himself that the fault lies with the Church, not himself, or in other words, if he shifts blame. One recent example of the Church shifting blame was Elder Ballard saying that he had “no idea” where missionaries got the impression that they should be asking people to get baptized on the first or second contact.
Scott, I really enjoy your podcast. I love your presentation that is not crazy angry or alienating. Your voice is also soothing.
As far as the “humanitarian” work of the church, this is probably my biggest issue with showing that the church certainly could not be the church of Jesus, even IF he did start a church (which I cannot for the life of me, determine that he did). Your observations are spot on about the humanitarian work that the church claims. They do take credit for all the projects that are done around the world, and I’m guessing that they also assign some $$ number to the hours donated as well. So if the yellow shirt helping hands guys show up with their own shovels and wheelbarrows, they take a roll and how many hours, and then at the CHURCH level, claim that this is part of the dollars given. I am just guessing on this, but I’m pretty sure that this is part of it. I also read one account of a project that was done where members went out and got businesses to contribute things (I believe it was for humanitarian kits for refugees), and they had to submit all the items and hours that they did to some higher ups. So there’s that.
The church has also gotten rid of more things that would be so beneficial to the poor, sick and such. Just to name a few, Primary Childrens hospital, LDS hospital, LDS adoption agency, and they have sold off many welfare farms (in fact, my home sits on an old welfare farm in the southwest Salt Lake Valley). BUT, they are interested in other helps to society, such at the $2 million given to the state of Utah for the building of a new rodeo arena at the state fairgrounds in Salt Lake, the $2 Billion (or so, no one knows) for the City Creek center and apartments, the condos and shopping in Pennsylvania, etc. So they don’t want to be in the long-term helping business, it appears. Projects that can be done by a ward or stake with little actual cost to the church and short term where some sort of result can be proclaimed.
Another thing that you mentioned in your podcast spoke of the $100 Billion plus of church assets. Remember that this money is only the commercial assets that are actually pretty liquid. If you count all the land, wardhouses, temples, mission homes, vehicles, vacation/recreation properties for upper echelon, etc, the church easily has many more billions in assets.
I feel that I could go on all day, but it’s clear that the primary teaching of Jesus to visit the sick, clothe the naked, visit the prisoner, and sell all you have to give to the poor is simply some words that the church feels that they can check the box. My shelf got a super heavy, cracking load when it was sometime maybe within the last 10-15 years that the church FINALLY added a 4th mission to the church, which was this very thing. It took well over 150 years for the church to make helping the sick and needy not it’s TOP priority, but just it’s 4th.
Here is a little something that I put together a few years ago comparing just ONE individual’s contributions to society to the church.
“Throughout his lifetime, Huntsman donated at least $1.8 billion to charity, making him one of roughly two-dozen people on the planet to give away more than $1 billion. That total, though, does not count the money he tithed to the LDS Church” (source: SLTribune 2/2/2018)
“Since 1985, LDS Charities has provided $1.89 billion in assistance in 189 countries around the world” (source: LDS Charities annual report 2017)
Need I say more?
Excellent assessment. I thought about mentioning more about the value of their non-liquid assets but decided against it because it would be postulating. With their total assets, they could finance the development of the world to end world hunger. As you said, this facet of the church is indicative of the values of the organization as a whole.