I was having dinner with my family this week when I heard an explosion coming from the direction of Mormon Land. I went out to investigate and found some people excavating a site and had uncovered ancient artifacts that show the Mormon Church has a paid ministry. I lumbered into the cavern and this is what I found.
General Background Information: The ancient Levites received the entire tithe of the people for their support. The Apostle Paul made contradictory statements. Jesus seemed to live off the land and the generosity of others.His disciples ate corn on the Sabbath that someone else had grown. In addition, he certainly did not live in a nice upscale home the Mormon Apostles enjoy. He said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.” Alma 30:33 comes down quite solidly on the side of no paid ministry. It says,
” And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time.”
Artifact Findings: In spite of attempts by leaders to say there is no paid ministry, there is clear evidence General Authorities are paid quite well for their service. The base salary is at least 120,000 these days and maybe more. In addition,they enjoy many perks that may include things such as free travel for spouses, assistance with university tuition for family members, housing reimbursements, free use of automobiles, health insurance, and who knows what else. The Church does not engage in transparency making it difficult to tell the end figure for being a General Authority in the Church.
This much we do know; if we just take the base salary, that puts Apostles and their brethren in the 97th percentile on the salary scale compared to all U.S. workers. Check it out yourself at Whatsmypercent.com. They also do quite well compared to what a Minister gets in another Church. The medium salary runs just under 50,000. See for yourself at http://www.payscale.com. They are living off the earnings of Church members who struggle to pay their bills and pay tithing. We will address where their salary comes for in a minute.
Commentary : There are no leaked pay stubs from the General Women’s Presidencies. Why? I bet dollars to donuts there will never be a leak because they do not get all these perks the men get. There is nothing to reveal because they probably are not considered a job of sufficient importance to be given full time status and actually be compensated for their work. In essence, sexism exists in the Church and is manifest by how women are treated at almost every level in the Church. Until recently, it was unheard of to even have a woman pray or speak in the general sessions of Conference.
A common argument in defense of General Authorities getting paid a nice salary is they gave up a lucrative job in the business sector to serve in these positions and therefore should be compensated well. There is even the suggestion by Gordon Hinckley the “living allowances given the General Authorities, which are very modest in comparison with executive compensation in industry and the professions..” That may be true but when did that become the standard? No one forced these General Authorities to give up their career in private industry; they choose to do that. If wealth and luxury were their goal, then they should have turned down the invitation to serve in the Church. Some actually improved their status quite a bit since working for the Church in their callings. Boyd K. Packer comes to mind. He was dirt poor by his own admission when he was called and was well off when he died. It would seem, the better response by the Church would be from this quote by Joseph Smith,
“Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” We hear the Apostles use this quote for rank and file members. Does it not apply to them? What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.How about what Christ said?
“Luke 9:62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”
A side point is they are not business executives who run this multi billion dollar business. That work is done by a huge bureaucracy of underlings that run the day to day operations of the Corporation. In fact, if the Apostles went missing for awhile, the Church would probably run itself.
The next argument the Church makes is the Donna Summer argument. Apostles “work hard for the money,” so they deserve to be compensated. One of the artifacts uncovered was Dallin Oak’s schedule for the month of December in 2000. Out of the 31 days that month, he had at least 15 of those days off. The days he did work were not exactly grueling. On the 3rd, he attended one devotional meeting, on the 16th, he attended a Christmas concert. I would take that schedule anytime.Ask a migrant worker, a teacher who works two jobs to make ends meet, military people in war zones, and so on if they think the General Authorities work hard.
If we just stay in the Church and discuss who works hard, then Bishoprics, Young Women Presidencies, Stake President, and others work much harder than Apostles. Apostles are just doing their day job and getting paid to do so. These other folks have to work full time and then steal time from their family to labor in the Church. If the Church actually followed their own scriptures, they would pay these other callings. In fact, the Church did just that until early in the twentieth century. Bishops and Stake Presidents were compensated for their work. Doctrine and Covenants 42:71-73 subscribes to this idea.
The Church responded to the leaks with this statement,
“General Authorities leave their careers when they are called into full-time church service,” said Eric Hawkins, spokesman for the church. “.. The living allowance is uniform for all General Authorities. None of the funds for this living allowance come from the tithing of church members, but instead from proceeds of the church’s financial investments.” What do we make of this? The Church refuses to acknowledge they get a salary. They pay federal taxes on their base salary which shows the government considers it a salary. Why the reticence in this area? I think it goes back to the scriptures such as Alma 30:33. It also goes back to the many quotes by Prophets and Apostles denying a paid ministry. This would be one more area where the words of the leaders do not match their actions. It may also go back to the endowment ceremony before 1990, where Satan hired a minister to preach for money. This would be thrown in their face by many who are frustrated with the doublespeak by the Apostles. It may also be a defense against members serving in Bishoprics, Stake Presidencies, Relief Society, and so on, asking why don’t they also receive some remuneration for all their time, or at the very least more funds for their budgets.
The second part of the response from the Church about how the living allowance paid to General Authorities does not come from tithing but rather from business profits. This is a talking point straight from Gordon Hinckley from his October 1985 conference talk. I have always felt this was a strange position for the Church to take. First off, I don’t even know if the finances in the Church operate like that with these clear lines of demarcation. Second, who cares? It seems like a smoke screen to distract inquiring minds. The wealth of the Church has its origins in tithing. Period. Is this a business corporation or the “Only living and true Church on the face of the earth?” Shouldn’t ALL profits from business or Church rightfully be considered sacred money and belong to the Lord?
In August 1844, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles issued an epistle which required all Mormons to immediately pay ‘a tenth of all their property and money . . . and then let them continue to pay in a tenth of their income from that time forth.’ Guess what they did right after that? The next year, the Twelve voted to exempt themselves, the two general bishops Newel K. Whitney and George Miller, and the Nauvoo Temple Committee from any obligation to pay tithing. Do modern Apostles pay tithing on this six figure base salary? Probably not, since the Apostles have never rescinded that order. They get up in Conference and give these talks how the rank and file must pay tithing but they themselves may very well be exempt.
Every other Church employee must pay tithing as a condition of employment. Members are told paying gives them great blessings and it is fire insurance at the Second Coming. How come the Apostles do not need these blessings? How come Apostles do not have to meet minimum requirements that all Church employees must meet? Should they not set a higher standard and point the way to proper conduct by their actions?
Final point regards transparency and secrecy that prevails in the Church in regard to this a topic. These two quotes sum it up well.
” ..We can create open and transparent environments instead of cultures of secrecy and concealment. And we can permit and encourage everyone, not just a powerful inner circle, to speak up when they see the potential for error.”
― Kathryn Schulz, Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error
“The real thing about evil,” said the Witch at the doorway, “isn’t any of what you said. You figure out one side of it – the human side, say – and the eternal side goes into shadow. Or vice versa. It’s like the old saw: What does a dragon in its shell look like? Well no one can ever tell, for as soon as you break the shell to see, the dragon is no longer in its shell. The real disaster of this inquiry is that it is the nature of evil to be secret.”
― Gregory Maguire, Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.
Conclusion: Thank goodness for excavators who bring hidden things to light. It is the only way to keep the Church honest. The amount of compensation the Apostles receive does not pass the smell test. At the very least, the Church should provide more transparency as to the amount of perks over and above their salary and allow some discussion as to a proper amount of compensation. The base salary should be reduced to what the average member makes. They should then have to pay tithing just as EVERY other Church employee does. After all, we don’t want them to burn at the Second Coming as a result of not having fire insurance. ☺ Finally, pay the women.