Friday, February 14, 2020

2020.02.14 - CONTROLLING WHAT THE LDS MEMBERS READ - "MEDIA SPIN"


"He who controls the media 
controls the minds of the public."
 Noam Chomsky
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I found it interesting to see the headlines of all the major newpapers who reported about the 100 BILLION dollars (+plus) fund that the LDS Church has amassed.  Here are some examples from The  Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, The Washington Post, and our local Salt Lake Tribune. Then look as the positive spin on the same story in the headline from the Deseret News.






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Here was the headline in the Deseret News this week about the same story.

What is really ironic is the name of the Deseret News reporter who wrote this article for the paper. His last name is Shill. Not sure that is his pen name or his real name, either way, he might want to consider a new "pen" name. Shill is probably the worst name you could have as full time writer for the Church. The definition of "Shill" is not necessarily positive.

With headlines in all the major national newspapers, no wonder the Church wants/needs to own their own media channels to soften the negative news that has been dominating the headlines. In public relations and politics, spin is a form of propaganda, achieved through knowingly providing a biased interpretation of an event or campaigning to influence public opinion about some organization or public figure.



The church holding company, Deseret Management, owns several media subsidiaries that run the Deseret News, the largest newspaper in Utah, KSL TV station, 11 radio stations includig KSL Newsradio,  a publishing and distribution company, and more.  A few years ago, the church sold 17 radio stations for $505 million to better focus on Internet ventures.
The Church also owns the Bonneville International Corporation which operates and owns radio stations nationwide, Bonneville Communications, Bonneville Interactive, and Bonneville Satellite Company.
Another company the Church own is  Deseret Digital Media which operates the Web sites of other Deseret Media Companies media companies, including deseretnews.com and ksl.com.
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Sidenote:
On Monday February 10th 2020, the Wall Street Journal, released a exclusive interview with Mormon Leaders regarding the Faith's amassed 100 Billion Plus in investments.
LINK TO THE Wall Street Journal's audio
Here is one person's opinion posted publically in a comments section:
In multiple responses to having a secret $124+ Billion dollar cash fund, the LDS Church has stated how sacred their responsibility is to care for the widow's mite. Invariably, when tithing comes up in LDS context, the story of the widow's mite is trotted out. 
Being raised in the LDS Church, I remember frequently being taught about the widow's mite. The context in which Church lesson manuals address the widow's mite (from Primary to Come Follow Me manuals), is all about her sacrifice and how we should always pay an honest tithe, even in our extreme poverty.
From the current Primary (children's) manual: "There are people who say they cannot afford to pay tithing because their incomes are small. … No one is ever too poor to pay tithing” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 212). 
The story of the widow's mite is explicitly taught in the LDS Church as a lesson that even in our most extreme poverty, we should pay tithing to the LDS Church. I have heard this my whole life and could find innumerable additional examples where this is explicitly taught. 
The problem is this is almost 180 degrees removed from what Christ is actually teaching in this exact story. The passage is a direct condemnation of (1) the rich giving a fraction of their wealth to the church and (2) allowing a widow in their midst to give her last pennies to the church. 
The story is not just Mark 12: 41-44. The immediately preceding verses are: 
38 ¶ And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces,
39 And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts:
40 Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation 
Literally, the immediately preceding verse talks about the church leaders "devouring widow's houses" and receiving greater damnation. Yet every LDS Church lesson manual I can find blows past verse 40 and only addresses 41-44. Every reference to the widow's mite is an expectation and demand that impoverished members pay their tithing regardless. 
What is not spoken of is that a poor member's Temple Recommend is also tied directly to paying your tithing. So when Alma speaks of the poor being cast out of the synagogues, this is literally the case in the LDS Church today. If you don't pay your tithing, you are not worthy of a recommend - which means all your temple blessings, your eternal family, and promises of the Celestial Kingdom are gone. 
So, when the LDS Church invokes the widow's mite in context of their $124 Billion Dollar rainy day fund, it makes me furious. To think that "devouring widow's houses" (verse 40) to add to your secret/sacred fund is in any way endorsed by what Christ is saying here is an absolute desecration of the text and the message 
If anything, the Biblical text of the widow's mite, including the condemnation of the rich and the scribes (the church leaders), condemns the LDS Church both in demanding money from the impoverished faithful, and condemnation for not using that money to raise that same widow out of her poverty. 
I have nothing to say if faithful members above the poverty line pay tithing. But to teach children (current primary manuals) that the widow's mite means that you pay tithing instead of food or housing is morally wrong. To demand tithing of the impoverished in third world countries is morally wrong. To demand tithing of the poor that is directly tied to access to the temple (eternal families, heaven), is morally wrong. And to demand tithing while you are accumulating an almost unfathomable amount of wealth is morally wrong. 
And to repeat, ad nauseam, that Christ taught this in the widow's mite story, is morally wrong.

And this just in.. a new Deseret News article for more damage control:

https://www.deseret.com/faith/2020/2/14/21133740/mormon-church-finances-billions-presiding-bishopric-ensign-peak-tithing-donations-byu-real-estate 

2 comments:

Taylor said...

From the Deseret News article cited in the post:

“It is a church,” Bishop Caussé said. “It’s not a financial institution … and because it is a church, the funds that are managed within the church are contributed by the members of the church and are really sacred. We really consider those funds as belonging to the Lord."
It’s difficult to understand the church,” he added. “If you look at it as a financial institution, you will never understand it. You have to look at it as an organization of consecrated followers of Jesus Christ. This is what it is, with a mission assigned by the Lord.” -End quote

If you look at it as a financial institution then it makes perfect sense. It's when you look at it as a church that it makes zero sense.

Bishop Caussee's likely only found out about the 120B investment within the last 6 months along with everyone else. Even members of the 12 didn't know how much was in there. So I can understand if he himself hasn't yet made sense of this.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see you bring up these issues. I don't think the $100 billion (or whatever it is) is simply a matter of being judicious, as the church wants us to believe it is.

In my current position within the church, I find myself laughing out loud at the lengths some "faithful" members will go to justify the kind of wealth the church is accumulating.