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Critics Accusations Of Financial Improprieties

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I posted the Google link above before reading any of the hits.  I had confidence that the links would support my position because again, it isn't a contraversial position.

 

The third page of the hits had a blog written by a tithing-paying Mormon about his thoughts on transparency.  For your consideration:

 

http://www.modernmormonmen.com/2012/03/financial-transparency-lds-church.html

The author self-identifies as a "monthly contributor to the Mormon Stories Foundation," Dehlin's outfit. I think that likely puts him somewhere out on the fringe in terms of his orthodoxy and how normative his beliefs and attitude are vis-a-vis the Church.

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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I'm simply stating the facts about mainstream ethics in our society.

And, as I posted in response, there are circumstances that make a cookie-cutter application of societal "ethics" irrelevant as it pertains to the Church of Jesus Christ.

 

One might also consider a privacy and freedom-of-association ethic that justifies a non-public party in keeping its financials away from the gaze of hostile outsiders who have no legitimate interest in being privy to them.

 

I see Gervin has not yet responded to the challenge to open up his books to the scrutiny of any curious onlooker.

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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Very sweet thought. Thank you for caring. I offer free rides to anyone I know who I think is too old to drive too.

I appreciate that given how hard it is for some seniors to give up driving due to feeling trapped.

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I agree.  Gervin needs to show his/her financials.  Wait!  Is Gervin asking to be tax exempt and not pay his fair share of support for running the country like everyone else?

It doesn't matter. He is accountable and I want to know.

Oh, Gervin doesn't get special financial exempt privileges  from the Gov't. ?

I don't know, BUT I want to know, therefore, using his logic, I am entitled to know. He needs to post his financials so I can find out.

 

Right now, the law doesn't mandate that Exempt organizations open their books.

It doesn't matter. He is accountable and I want to know.

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It doesn't matter. He is accountable and I want to know.

I don't know, BUT I want to know, therefore, using his logic, I am entitled to know. He needs to post his financials so I can find out.

 

It doesn't matter. He is accountable and I want to know.

 

Also read my post #70

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So those who have no business knowing are entitled to know? 

 

Yes, everyone would know how the LDS Church practices stewardship.  That’s how transparency works.  Perhaps you are concerned that disclosure would be an embarrassment to the church or that the critics would force the church to spend money where it doesn’t want to.  But every organization that opens its book is subject to scrutiny.  In a way they are inviting it in order to show that they are good stewards of the money given to them. 

 

 

Ok, then, you are accountable, post all of your financial information. Don't tell me it is private and that I have no business asking for it. I want to know.

 

There is a distinction that you seem to miss.  I don’t solicit donations in order to further a religious point of view.  If I did, you’d have every right to ask to see my ledgers.  Some of my money goes to my church.  My church – the body of believers I worship (fellowship, study, etc.) with – is accountable to each other.  We choose to make our financial information available; anyone can come into my church and look at our budget to see how tithes, offerings and donations are spent.  A critic of our church can see the budget.  So what?  We have nothing to hide.  We don’t see the money as “ours” and in need of some special not-for-public-viewing status. 

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Also read my post #70

I'll join the bandwagon and call for Gervin to open up his financials for us to look at. Perhaps we can start a petition drive.

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This statement reflects a misunderstanding of the work of a regular auditor.    Plenty of financial misdeeds in the world went on under the noses of CPA's doing annual audits under generally accepted accounting principles.    If you wanted to identify corruption, you would retain a different firm to do forensic auditing.  http://www.ehow.com/about_5070210_forensic-audit_.html

 

ETA:  And assuming all funds are authorized by the council for the payment of the tithes (I think that is the name of the group that oversees the funds, it is made of of the Q12 and presiding bishop, if I recall correctly),  then by definition none of the expenditures could be fraud.   The body appointed to determine how funds is spent has authority to pay whomever it decides to pay, whatever it decides.   They answer to the Lord, not to us, for their faithfulness in that regard.

 

 

If you have no knowledge of specific wrongdoing, solicitation of wrongdoing, or the like with respect to auditing work done in-house by the Church's or its affiliates/subsidiaries's auditing team(s), then you are engaged in the worst kind of rumormongering.

 

Here is the ethical canon on objectivity and honesty, which we are to assume obtains in the absence of evidence to the contrary:  http://www.aicpa.org/Research/Standards/CodeofConduct/Pages/et_102.aspx

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There is a distinction that you seem to miss.  I don’t solicit donations in order to further a religious point of view.  If I did, you’d have every right to ask to see my ledgers. 

 

If I didn't contribute money to you, if I had no intention of contributing money to you and if, in fact, I were engaged in a campaign of vilification against you, why would I have such a right? It's not self-evident.

 

But you somehow claim that furthering "a religious point of view" causes an entity to forfeit its ethical right of privacy.

 

You have been an occasional critic on this board, and perhaps elsewhere, of the Church of Jesus Christ. One might, therefore, regard you as continually furthering "a religious point of view." Can we thus demand to see your financials for whatever use we might make of the information?

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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For any who might be interested, Daniel Peterson has this blog post on the subject of critics' tiresome and self-righteous indignation over the City Creek shopping center. It seems to pertain in a general way to this thread topic, so I'm posting the link here.

While I'm at it, I will also link to this blog post from Daniel Peterson, which also pertains to the topic of this thread.

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And, as I posted in response, there are circumstances that make a cookie-cutter application of societal "ethics" irrelevant as it pertains to the Church of Jesus Christ.

 

One might also consider a privacy and freedom-of-association ethic that justifies a non-public party in keeping its financials away from the gaze of hostile outsiders who have no legitimate interest in being privy to them.

 

I see Gervin has not yet responded to the challenge to open up his books to the scrutiny of any curious onlooker.

 

Hey Scott,

 

ERayR asked why, according to mainstream ethics, it is virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy for organizations that seek charitable donations to practice financial transparency. I was simply answering his question. 

 

Of course the Church has the right to ask members and non-members for financial contributions, but to refuse to disclose its financials to them.  And individuals have the right to contribute to such organizations if they choose to.  Those rights don't negate the fact that financial trasparency is virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy, while financial opacity is not.

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Of course the Church has the right to ask members and non-members for financial contributions, but to refuse to disclose its financials to them.  And individuals have the right to contribute to such organizations if they choose to. 

Yes, that's true, despite the fact that some people work themselves up into apoplexy over that fact.

Those rights don't negate the fact that financial trasparency is virtuous, lovely, of good report, and praiseworthy, while financial opacity is not.

 

 

It may be praiseworthy for them with the under the circumstances and in the arena in which they function. You seem determined to ignore, with your binary approach to this matter, that circumstances are such that it is not necessarily praiseworthy for the Church of Jesus Christ. Moreover, there are other ethics that come into consideration here, such as an entity's ethical right of privacy and its right to protect itself against the predatory intentions of antagonists.

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If I didn't contribute money to you, if I had no intention of contributing money to you and if, in fact, I were engaged in a campaign of vilification against you, why would I have such a right? It's not self-evident.

 

It's not a right you have, it's a right I give you.  Why would the Church care if it gets criticism or persecution from those who don't believe?  It's foretold.  Are you concerned that such disclosure gives those in the vilification business more fodder?

 

But you somehow claim that furthering "a religious point of view" causes an entity to forfeit its ethical right of privacy.

 

The solicitation of donations is the basis for disclosure.  The "religious" factor simply applies in this case.  It doesn't cause an entity to forfeit privacy; an entity chooses to provide the information.  I don't really see any loss of privacy ... we don't ask for folks to fork over their tax returns for scrutiny.  We don't publish who gives how much. 

 

 

You have been an occasional critic on this board, and perhaps elsewhere, of the Church of Jesus Christ. One might, therefore, regard you as continually furthering "a religious point of view." Can we thus demand to see your financials for whatever use we might make of the information?

 

I don't solicit donations and therefore don't have a responsibility to account for my spending.  I don't understand why this concept is hard to grasp.

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Gervin's assertion was not referring to the Church being accountable to members alone but to everyone including, presumably, the most vicious anti-Mormon.

 

I say again, it's ridiculous on its face.

As an example that people in the mainstream do in fact live by this "ridiculous" ethic, just to prove the point several years ago I sent an email to Billy Graham, requesting to see detailed financials of his ministry, including specifically how much money Billy Graham himself received from it. I corresponded in the same style I post here: not overtly hostile--just a neutral third party who is curious about both his personal finances and the finances of his organization.

 

Almost immediately, his personal secretary replied that the financial statements were in the mail, which I did in fact receive two days later. She said that the statements didn't include details of Mr. Graham's compensation package, so she told me the details of it in the email (the specific amount was a flat salary of something like $206,800 a year in total, with proceeds of all books, tapes, donations, etc. go to his ministry).

 

People might disagree about whether $206,800 is excessive and constitutes priestcraft, or whether it is just a reasonable living stipend that’s probably commensurate with what an LDS General Authority makes.  Regardless of whether you agree, disagree, or have no opinion on what his ministry does with its money, I hope you can see why this type of transparency is in fact considered virtuous and praiseworthy by his followers and critics alike.

Edited by Analytics

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While I'm at it, I will also link to this blog post from Daniel Peterson, which also pertains to the topic of this thread.

That is a funny comparison! A priest blessing a boat is not the same as a priest commissioning a fleet of fishing boats to be built, outfitting them, and then hiring a crew to maintain and manage the fleet.

 

Thanks for the laugh. :)

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If I didn't contribute money to you, if I had no intention of contributing money to you and if, in fact, I were engaged in a campaign of vilification against you, why would I have such a right? It's not self-evident.

 

But you somehow claim that furthering "a religious point of view" causes an entity to forfeit its ethical right of privacy.

 

You have been an occasional critic on this board, and perhaps elsewhere, of the Church of Jesus Christ. One might, therefore, regard you as continually furthering "a religious point of view." Can we thus demand to see your financials for whatever use we might make of the information?

 

 

It's not a right you have, it's a right I give you. 

 

Whether or not you make such an unwise choice, it is not self-evident that others could reasonably be expected to.

 

Why would the Church care if it gets criticism or persecution from those who don't believe?  It's foretold.

 

Oh, perhaps for the same reason that the Prophet Joseph Smith, even though he expected to be murdered at Carthage, did not throw open the door of the jail bedroom and invite the mobbers to come in and kill him and his companions unhindered.

 

That really is a fatuous question.

 

 

  Are you concerned that such disclosure gives those in the vilification business more fodder?

 

Perhaps. Anti-Mormons do not have a good track record for being fair-minded.

 

The solicitation of donations is the basis for disclosure. 

 

 

The Church does not solicit donations. And it does not invite or encourage them from anyone other than faithful and trusting members who are already disposed to make such donations because of their commitment to and belief in the cause.

 

This really is irrelevant to the matter of why the Church should throw open its books for its enemies to make whatever use of them they choose.

 

The "religious" factor simply applies in this case.  It doesn't cause an entity to forfeit privacy; an entity chooses to provide the information.

 

 

You and Analytics seem to be claiming some sort of nebulous "ethical" obligation that mandates the Church to do so. I don't see it.

 

 

I don't really see any loss of privacy ... 

 

There can hardly be anything more private than an entity's expenditure of funds.

 

 

we don't ask for folks to fork over their tax returns for scrutiny.  We don't publish who gives how much. 

 

The Church's use of its funds is not information to which you or any other antagonistic outsider is entitled.

 

 

I don't solicit donations and therefore don't have a responsibility to account for my spending. I don't understand why this concept is hard to grasp.

 

The Church doesn't solicit your donations either. Its use of its funds is thus none of your business. I don't understand why this concept is hard to grasp.

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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As an example that people in the mainstream do in fact live by this "ridiculous" ethic, just to prove the point several years ago I sent an email to Billy Graham, [snip]

 

As I understand it, this board has an asked-and-answered policy.

 

Here is how I responded to your previous post telling us we need to be like "mainstream Christanity."

 

 

They're welcome to run their own shops as they see fit, but neither they nor you get to decide for us what constitutes being praiseworthy as applied to our unique circumstances.

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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That is a funny comparison! A priest blessing a boat is not the same as a priest commissioning a fleet of fishing boats to be built, outfitting them, and then hiring a crew to maintain and manage the fleet.

 

Thanks for the laugh. :)

I think Dr. Peterson made a good point when he said:

 

For some, religious practices and attitudes are just fine when they’re relegated to harmlessly backwards rural villages or quaint folk practices of yesteryear, or to traditional ways of earning a living like deep-sea fishing, but they just don’t belong in the modern world of commerce and factories.

Perhaps you can explain the qualitative difference; it's not self-evident to me.

 

Or do you hold with some folks who would compartmentalize matters of faith and the Spirit, ensuring that they don't interfere too much with day-to-day living?

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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I think Dr. Peterson made a good point when he said:

 

Perhaps you can explain the qualitative difference; it's not self-evident to me.

A priest gives a blessing, he doesn't buy the boats.

 

Perhaps you can explain how a blessing vs. buying the boats has no difference. Because I see a great difference.

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A priest gives a blessing, he doesn't buy the boats.

 

Perhaps you can explain how a blessing vs. buying the boats has no difference. Because I see a great difference.

The blog post to which you refer (and your link was wrong; here is the correct one) had this statement from Daniel Peterson:

 

It’s also occurred to me that many of these same people, who mock, deride, and voice outrage at the idea that a proclaimed apostle or prophet would attend the opening of a shopping mall, or that an apostle (who happens to be an attorney and a former law professor, law school dean, and state supreme court justice) would dedicate a Church law firm’s new building, would most likely find merely quaint and charming a medieval (or modern) priest’s blessing of the village fishing fleet and nets.  And, apart from the general disdain that some of them feel for religious belief itself, and/or for Mormonism itself, they would probably not bat an eye at such scriptural passages as this:

 

Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to callupon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you;

Yea, cry unto him for mercy; for he is mighty to save.

Yea, humble yourselves, and continue in prayer unto him.

Cry unto him when ye are in your fields, yea, over all your flocks.

Cry unto him in your houses, yea, over all your household, both morning, mid-day, and evening.

Yea, cry unto him against the power of your enemies.

Yea, cry unto him against the devil, who is an enemy to all righteousness.

Cry unto him over the crops of your fields, that ye may prosper in them.

Cry over the flocks of your fields, that they may increase.

But this is not all; ye must pour out your souls in your closets, and your secret places, and in your wilderness.

Yea, and when you do not cry unto the Lord, let your heartsbe full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for yourwelfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you.  (Alma 34:17-27)

 

As for whether or not the Church should be investing in retail stores or other forms of commerce, that matter has been argued to death on this board.

 

Dan's blog post links to Nate Oman's "Times and Seasons" post, which, I believe, discusses the matter quite reasonably and intelligently.

 

By the way, I added this to my previous post. Perhaps you missed seeing it:

 

Or do you hold with some folks who would compartmentalize matters of faith and the Spirit, ensuring that they don't interfere too much with day-to-day living?

 

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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As I understand it, this board has an asked-an-answered policy.

 

Here is how I responded to your previous post telling us we need to be like "mainstream Christanity."

 

 

You and your church can be anyway you'd like to.  You are under no legal obligation to follow mainstream ethics.

 

 

 

You and Analytics seem to be claiming some sort of nebulous "ethical" obligation that mandates the Church to do so. I don't see it.

 

There can hardly be anything more private than an entity's expenditure of funds.

 

The Church's use of its funds is not information to which you or any other antagonistic outsider is entitled.

 

 

 

You are misrepresenting my position in two fundamental ways.  First, I never said nor implied that the Church is somehow obligated or mandated to follow high ethical standards.  I'm just stating what the high ethical standards are. 

 

Second, I never said nor implied that critics or antagonists are somehow "entitled" to financial information about your church.  The ethical standard is that charities and churches should be completely transparent with the people from whom they seek donations, so that the donnors can make informed decisions.  Applying that narrowly to your church, detailed financial statements should be available for members and investigators.

 

One must wonder, however, what harm a critic could possibly do knowing the specific truth of the Church's finances.  In general, whenever a church or charity isn't transparent with its finances, it is hiding the information from its donors, not its non-donors.

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We say the stipends and things like mall building, etc. comes from business income and investments that were started in the early days of the church. But then the critics say "but where did that money come from to start those things if not from tithing and donations of the early saints.?" 

 

Many people leave part of their estates as well as other assets and business interests to the church over and above tithing. (Think John Huntsman giving the church a jet). Think how that would accumulate over decades.  

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The blog post to which you refer (and your link was wrong; here is the correct one) had this statement from Daniel Peterson:

 

As for whether or not the Church should be investing in retail stores or other forms of commerce, that matter has been argued to death on this board.

 

Dan's blog post links to Nate Oman's "Times and Seasons" post, which, I believe, discusses the matter quite reasonably and intelligently.

 

By the way, I added this to my previous post. Perhaps you missed seeing it:

Honestly, I have a hard time understanding the connections in Dr. Peterson's blogpost. I read the whole thing, also the link to the Times and Seasons article, and they both seem to be making non-connections, while celebrating making a connection. In short, I'm not getting their points.

 

 The only thing I could comment on is a priest blessing a fleet of boats is somehow comparable to a GA opening a mall. Which, it isn't, not unless the priest is blessing his own fleet. And calling other people's religious/spiritual practices "quaint", and undervaluing another's vocation (such as fishing), got under my skin. But, that's beside the point.

 

"Or do you hold with some folks who would compartmentalize matters of faith and the Spirit, ensuring that they don't interfere too much with day-to-day living?"

 

I didn't see this. :) This could be a whole other thread in itself, as, the Times and Seasons article linked by Dr. Peterson is full of alarm bells for me. I have no problem mixing faith and Spirit with day to day. I recommend it. What bothers me is an idea that material wealth is an indicator that one is charitable. (?) Really, that is how I'm reading these articles. And then somehow, being charitable to one's own interest is in the interest of all, and ya lost me.

 

I see no sense or idea of giving all, and having nothing. Something that is no doubt difficult to do, but doing so is not an indicator that one is disengaged from day-to-day living, as you seem to be inferring. Quite the opposite, it is an indicator that one is engaged in the day-to-day of someone besides oneself.

Edited by saemo

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Many people leave part of their estates as well as other assets and business interests to the church over and above tithing. (Think John Huntsman giving the church a jet). Think how that would accumulate over decades.  

Over the decades and with enough jets accumulated, there could be an LDS Airforce of Helaman.  The song would have to be modified...  Probably need a new proclamation.  

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You and your church can be anyway you'd like to.  You are under no legal obligation to follow mainstream ethics.

Then I see no point in your endlessly preaching to us about what Billy Graham does or what this or that Protestant coalition does when they operate under a structure, circumstances and considerations that are unlike those of the Church of Jesus Christ.

 

You are misrepresenting my position in two fundamental ways.  First, I never said nor implied that the Church is somehow obligated or mandated to follow high ethical standards.  I'm just stating what the high ethical standards are. 

 

And I'm disputing the innuendo here that the Church of Jesus Christ does not follow "high ethical standards" simply because it doesn't do things the way Protestant churches do them. Which is really what your endeavoring to convey here, isn't it?

 

Second, I never said nor implied that critics or antagonists are somehow "entitled" to financial information about your church.  The ethical standard is that charities and churches should be completely transparent with the people from whom they seek donations, so that the donnors can make informed decisions.  Applying that narrowly to your church, detailed financial statements should be available for members and investigators.

 

 

Well, there really isn't a workable way to do that without making them open to antagonists, is there? So I and other faithful Latter-day Saints are content with the assurances, reiterated at least annually, that the funds are carefully managed and expended and that they are scrupulously accounted. We don't need an exhaustive financial statement, especially if such a thing might fall into the hands of the Church's enemies who would be apt to use it for their own nefarious purposes. Not having a detailed statement is a price I gladly pay if it will frustrate the enemies.

 

But I am not taken in by the feigned concern that antagonists and critics have for the Church's donors funds when the donors themselves by-and-large are quite comfortable with the way things are being handled.

 

One must wonder, however, what harm a critic could possibly do knowing the specific truth of the Church's finances. 

 

 

I don't have to know specifically what harm an antagonistic critic could do to know that I have no trust whatsoever in said critic and I have no desire to see what malice could be wrought by said critic.

 

In general, whenever a church or charity isn't transparent with its finances, it is hiding the information from its donors, not its non-donors.

 

 

As I've said repeatedly, this is not just any church or charity. It is the Church of Jesus Christ.

Edited by Scott Lloyd

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      "I have been a member of the "Mormon" church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) in the UK for about 40years now. I honestly don't know of any other church that encourages and promotes among its members such a serious and detailed study of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ FROM THE BIBLE. Or of any other church that so strongly emphasizes His divinity. The vast majority of Mormons simply would not be able to recognize themselves at all in some of the previous comments that have been made. The real fact is that at the core of Mormonism is a rather plain, low church Christianity, with decaffeinated adherents who go about their lives paying their taxes, loving their families, serving in their communities, helping the poor, and making mistakes along the way."
      (That last sentence BTW has been "borrowed" from a response to an unfavourable TV program by Mike Otterson in the public affairs dept.)
      My point is that a response of this type disarms them leaves them absolutely no wriggle room to challenge or dispute anything that you have said. They simply cant argue with what you have experienced personally. (And Im not talking here about our formal testimonies) It also closes the door on the spirit of contention, which they thrive on. Sadly some will then just revert to name calling - but any reasonable person then reading a such a comments section will then easily see them for what they are.
      As another example, you might post something like “I have been an actively involved member of the LDS church for x years. In all of that time I have never seen any black or gay visitor or member (and yes we do have them) treated or even talked about with anything less than full respect and consideration”
      Some excellent guidelines and helps on responding in an effective way can be found at the Mormon Voices site. I believe that dignified, respectful, factual, personal, short and simple (for simple people to understand) is definitely the best way to go. Like the old sales guideline K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) And it goes without saying that name calling has to be a no-no
      In fact – I now rather cringe when I see members engaging in debate about church doctrines and practices in comments sections. There is surely a more excellent way.
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