I had hoped that my series of refutations of false and misleading Salt Lake Tribune fake news stories would not need to be written so often lately, but then I remembered it is the week before general conference, when anyone and everyone with a reason to exploit the semi-annual occurrence of the large-scale conference for their own ends will be doing just that.
Peggy Stack is no exception, and has now written an opinion piece, masquerading as news, with just this idea in mind: use the conference timing to get more notice and create more disturbance. We find that the title is as silly as ever, even asking a question instead of stating a fact like most legitimate news stories do. More fake news from the Tribune: “Does tithing requirement for entry into LDS temples amount to Mormons buying their way into heaven?” This question could come from any one of countless posts on anti-Mormon forums, where bitter apostates, atheists, and other assorted enemies of the Church rant about all kinds of nonsensical and fictional things they have made up and want to rail against.
But this time it is Peggy carrying their torch, with no reason whatsoever to ask the headlined question. Tithing payment has been taught in the Church since the Prophet Joseph Smith received a revelation commanding it in 1838 (see D&C 119). Then, in the 1880s and 1890s, as a result of federal government confiscation of Church property as part of their anti-polygamy legislation, church members saw their free-will offerings being stolen from the Church, and many became lax and deficient in full payment. Between the federal government’s legalized theft, several other financial factors, and the decrease in tithing payment, the Church soon found itself in severe debt. This was resolved when the Lord gave President Lorenzo Snow a marvelous manifestation in 1899, commanding faithful members of His Church to again pay a full and honest tithing. The members did and the debt problem was solved relatively quickly. It was in the succeeding months that President Snow began teaching that members would not be allowed to enter the holy temples unless they fully complied with the Lord’s revelation. The requirement to be a full tithe payer eventually became cemented into temple recommend interviews, with members needing to comply to be fully worthy. All of this was done by inspired church leadership; prophets and apostles of God.
Peggy quotes several professors with very liberal and unorthodox leanings who study Mormonism, and also one excommunicant. They give opinions about her lame tithing-for-heaven question that are basically worthless. Her question isn’t really at issue. If D&C section 119 or President Snow’s tithing revelation are what is at issue, the academic or scholarly view of something the Lord has already stated and settled by revelation to prophets just doesn’t interest the faithful. Truly faithful members don’t care what an academic or critic has to say about tithing payment in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the kingdom of God on earth.
We then get a brief history lesson on tithe payment, courtesy of quotations from the excommunicant. Peggy’s original headlining question gets forgotten in her foray into church finances in the 1900s. We then are treated to what some “observers” have to say on the matter. Again, irrelevant and meaningless opinion that Peggy has sought for her story by email requests to the right people who share her views. They talk about what other churches are doing about finances and compare it to the Mormons, and also what they are teaching that free-will donations will result in: “The ‘blessings’ model is precisely what Mormons are taught” says one of these observers. This kind of language reduces a sacred covenant between God and men/women to nothing more than putting your dollar in a vending machine to get a package of doughnuts out. Such is often what those who misunderstand tithing payment think.
The excommunicant is again quoted, dumping on the revelation that all should pay the same tenth, suggesting that poor people should pay less than what the revelation from God states. This fellow must think he is pretty swift to be able to outsmart God. Stack and her informant then misinterpret the scriptures to suite their personal views, following which she quotes another liberal academic, Fiona Givens:
LDS temple recommend interviews, says writer Fiona Givens, are meant “to help members gauge their progress toward the divine.”
“It might, perhaps, be helpful to emphasize those questions which focus on the first and great commandment: to love God and our fellow man.”
Peggy then draws her own conclusion: “In short, make temple worthiness less about sizing up finances and more about sizing up souls.” Such inept comments let one know that these “observers” don’t know the temple recommend interview very well, where the first questions are all about your belief and faith in God and His son Jesus Christ. Tithe payment is not emphasized over other matters, all of which are addressed in their turn. This is subtle sophistry at work again, as Stack negatively biases the conclusion of her fake news piece. Salt Lake Tribune Tripe at its best.