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  1. Of course. But if a Latter-day Saint goes to college and signs up for Religion 324-325 in Institute to help him gain understanding of the historical background and meaning of the revelations recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants, he will be taught the following: The Prophet Joseph Smith identified northern Missouri as the location of Adam-ondi-Ahman, the place where Adam and Eve dwelt after they were cast out of the Garden of Eden (see D&C 116; see also commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 116 in this manual). According to the Prophet, the word Ahman is the name of God in the pure language of Adam, and “Son Ahman” is the name of the Son of God, Jesus Christ (see The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others [2013], 213–15; see also D&C 95:17). Adam-ondi-Ahman was the scene of a sacred council held by Adam with his righteous posterity (see D&C 107:53–57; see also commentary for Doctrine and Covenants 107 in this manual). This site will also be the location of the great future meeting between the Lord, Adam, and Adam’s righteous posterity before the Savior’s Second Coming (see Daniel 7:9–10, 13–14; D&C 27:5–14; 116). https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-student-manual-2017/chapter-29-doctrine-and-covenants-77-80?lang=eng What do you make of this? Was Adam a real historical person as the D&C and Institute program teach? If so, did he live near Spring Hill Missouri after he was cast out of the Garden of Eden? If so, what is the relationship between the historical Adam and his righteous prosperity who lived near Spring Hill Missouri, and the rest of the human family? In contrast, ask the obvious question about what BYU professors of religion believe. Historically, BYU professors of religion were young-earth creationists. Professor Donald W. Parry, for example, is a sophisticated professor of Asian and Near Eastern Languages. He reads the Bible in the original Hebrew and spends his spare time in endeavors such as translating the Dead Sea Scrolls. He said in the Ensign: There is a third group of people—those who accept the literal message of the Bible regarding Noah, the ark, and the Deluge. Latter-day Saints belong to this group. In spite of the world’s arguments against the historicity of the Flood, and despite the supposed lack of geologic evidence, we Latter-day Saints believe that Noah was an actual man, a prophet of God, who preached repentance and raised a voice of warning, built an ark, gathered his family and a host of animals onto the ark, and floated safely away as waters covered the entire earth. We are assured that these events actually occurred by the multiple testimonies of God’s prophets. https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1998/01/the-flood-and-the-tower-of-babel?lang=eng Granted, that was 25 years ago. My point is that the Church is deemphasizing doctrines like that to make space for the naïve members who still think that way and the more sophisticated ones who simply cannot. You mean evangelicals, highly educated Mormons such as Professor Donald Parry, and the multiple testimonies of God's prophets. Mormons need a universal flood to get the posterity of Adam out of Missouri and back to the Old World. Yes, the flood is nonsense and yes, Mormons are free to believe whatever they want. I just happen to believe the Church will avoid drawing attention to what it has historically taught about the relationship between the historical Adam and Missouri, and because of that, it isn't going to develop real estate in Jackson County Missouri in a big way that creates the appearance that they think Jesus is going to return soon. They could, I just don't think they will. That's my point. People can believe whatever they want, but if the Church wants to avoid being ridiculed this way, they will continue to lie relatively low in Jackson County and keep the idea of New Jerusalem as a hypothetical thing that will happen in the future, not something that they are actively constructing. True. If and when the CofC goes bankrupt and the LDS Church finds itself the owner of the CofC temple, I can't imagine them taking it down with a wrecking ball, and I can't imagine them retrofitting it for an LDS-style temple. They'll lease it to the city to use as a museum or something. Just a guess.
  2. I think those beliefs are perceived as being hypothetical in nature, contrary to science, and unnecessary for salvation. The belief in a literal Garden of Eden in Missouri is compatible with young-earth creationism and a universal-flood, but isn't the least bit compatible with mainstream science that says humans came out of Africa about 200,000 years ago. Jesus coming down out of the sky and setting up a worldwide government with Independence as the capital city is just as hypothetical and embarrassing as the belief that Ensign Peak Advisors is in fact saving up cash for that specific event. I think the Church will continue to treat these beliefs just as it treats the belief in the global flood--past prophets taught it and current prophets don't disavow it--but they don't emphasize it and don't require belief in it for full fellowship. I'm sure when Jesus personally tells the First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric that they should build a grand temple and Jesus' palace in Independence they will do so. Until then, they'll invest in office space in major cities, in agriculture, and in the stock market. If the CoC got in a real financial bind and went to Salt Lake City with their hat in their hand and put their temple on the negotiating table do you know what LDS Inc. would do? I predict they would purchase the CoC temple and surrounding real estate, but would then lease it back to the CoC. The LDS Church isn't going to convert the CoC temple to an LDS one, and they aren't going to tear it down to build their own temple. No way.
  3. On your last point, it's interesting to note that land in Independence, including the temple site, isn't on the Tribune's wish list. It’s important to understand that Independence is a not-particularly-nice urban area in the Kansas City metro area. For example, if Kansas City were Salt Lake City, Independence would be West Valley City. Because of that, it’s kind of a weird place to go on a religious pilgrimage. Sharon, Palmyra, Kirtland, and Nauvoo are all rural and much more conductive to faith-promoting trips. So if the church were to acquire sacred land in downtown Independence, what would it do with it? They don’t need a temple there—a few years ago they opened up the Kansas City temple about 10 miles away which will serve the area’s temple needs for the indefinite future. If they did any major property acquisitions or construction in downtown Independence, it would just draw attention to things like the claim that is where the Garden of Eden was located and the claim that that is where New Jerusalem will be. I don’t think the Church will want that kind of attention. My prediction is they’ll avoid purchasing land there, unless of course the CoC gets desperate and decides to sell it to the highest bidder regardless. But the LDS Church isn't going to seek it out and pay a premium for it.
  4. "Obey God" is an extremely unsatisfactory system of morality. If God commanded you to literally sacrifice one of your children on an alter would you do it? I wouldn't--I'd rather be moral than obey God. Personally, I could care less whether a master entrusts some of his investment portfolio to a money manager who has an investment style that is too conservative for the master. If the master doesn't make as much on his diversified portfolio as he wanted to, then so what? I'm not going to call him a hypocritical jerk. It sounds like the way you interpret this passage is that the individual talents of money represent actual human beings. The money not being invested wisely represents actual human beings being subjected to evil and harm. As an analogy of your analogy, say a parent properly does her due diligence in choosing a babysitter, and drops off his kids there. Without the parent knowing, the babysitter betrays the master's trust and hurts the kids. If that happened I'd be mad at the babysitter, but I wouldn't consider the parent liable. On the other hand, if the parent knew something terrible was going to happen and had the power to stop it, you are dang right I'd consider the parent a hypocritical jerk. And worse. Previously, I was suggesting that the way Mormons get out of the Problem of Evil is to say that God not intervening is for the greater good--from a higher perspective, bad things happening in this realm aren't really bad--it's all just part of the test. Based on your interpretation of the Parable of the Talents, it sounds like you get out of the Problem of Evil by saying God isn't omnipotent and isn't omniscient--God trusts people "according to their several ability", and if they let Him down, he doesn't have the power to intervene. In any event, I'm not foisting any beliefs on you. Rather, I'm articulating an uncomfortable implication of Mormon belief that most latter-day saints choose to ignore.
  5. So the secret of passing the test is to follow humanist morality and intervene as a force for good whenever possible. The point is not to do what God Himself actually does (i.e. passively watch people exercise their agency). And what is the reward for intervening as a force for good whenever possible? Apparently your reward is to become a test proctor. You get to sit back and watch people make good and bad choices with their agency. But you stop being a force for good in your own right. I find this viewpoint deeply unsatisfying.
  6. I am troubled by the free agency argument in your second point. Imagine your daughter was just abducted and dragged to a dark alley. Something unspeakable is about to happen to her. Imagine that at that very moment, I'm walking by. In this fantasy, I'm 6'5" and 225 pounds of solid muscle. I'm an 8th degree Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and have been in the Special Forces for 20 years. And, of course, my loaded Sig Sauer P226 is close at hand. I could easily save your daughter. There would be no risk to me. It wouldn't even be inconvenient. If your daughter cried to me for help, would I be justified in saying the following? "What's happening to you breaks my heart. It really does. But if I were to help you, that would be interfering with your abductor's free agency. God could help you even more easily than I could, but He respects your abductor's free agency just as much as I do."
  7. For me, the issue is whether there is enough revelation and discernment to justify the level of faith, loyalty, and obedience that the institution demands.
  8. According to that link, from 2007 to the present the SCOTUS has affirmed more cases from the ninth circuit than any other circuit. By percent, it has reversed 79.2% of cases since 2007, which is second to the sixth court, which has had 81.1% of its heard cases reversed. In aggregate, the Supreme Court overturns or vacates 70.7% of everything it hears. I'm not sure. In aggregate, something like 99.8% of its decisions are not overturned or vacated. Is that materially or statistically different than a court that has, say, 99.9% of its decisions not overturned or vacated?
  9. Do you know why Professor Muller made this cumulative graph going backwards in time rather than forward? This seems awfully misleading. It would appear that from about 2004 to 2015, the 9th Circuit had a lower reversal rate than the 6th, the 11th, or both. From 1994 to 2003 or so the 9th was worse, but shouldn't it get some credit for having cleaned up its act 18-or-so years ago?
  10. Beats me. What I do know is that the judge Wilson agrees with me. He said in his ruling: The truth of this is beyond obvious. Huntsman never asked the judge to rule on the validity of seer stones or other church tenets.
  11. Interest income is a flow. Principal is a stock. Yes, the IRS can distinguish them. I didn't say accountants were committing mental accounting. I said Smac was with his proposed methodology of distinguishing principal dollars from interest dollars. If you'd like to think about it clearly, the flow interest income might be treated differently than the flow of tithing income, and both are treated differently than the stock of money they have. I wasn't talking about a formalized system of accounting. I was talking about Smac's ad hoc methodology for how to distinguish tithing dollars from interest dollars so that they could be treated differently. You really need to stop beating your wife. That doesn't mean the difference isn't inherent in the theory underlying the system. I don't really care how the Church spends or invests its money. I feel they've been secretive and misleading to their donors, and I wonder if Ensign Peak Advisors is actually a Private Foundation and ought to be taxed as such. But I have no problem with what the Church does with its money. Stop beating your wife until you get some counseling about how to control your emotions.
  12. This is an example of a cognitive bias called Mental Accounting. It is irrational and leads to bad decisions. Mental Accounting Definition (investopedia.com) That is correct. Money is fungible. Actually, the IRS does agree that money is fungible. To help clarify your thinking on the matter, consider the difference between a stock and a flow (in the rest of this post, when I refer to "stocks" it is in this sense). How much money the church has is a stock. The IRS most certainly does not say one specific dollar in an account "came from" a donor while another specific dollar in the account "came from" investment income. Rather, the IRS sees these things as flows. They look at the flow of tithing income or the flow of investment revenue. That is why when you do your taxes, you don't base it on bank account balances which measure stocks. Rather, you base it on your W2 which measures the flow of income you had over a year and a stack of check stubs for your tithing that reflects the flow of tithing you paid over the year. Exactly. Stocks and flows are two fundamentally different things. Tithing revenue and investment income are flows. The assets of the church are stocks. Conflating the two is fuzzy thinking at best and deceptive at worst.
  13. Of course. But if the Church then spends $100, it would be misleading to say the $100 was from interest and not from principal. The money is all fungible on the balance sheet. No, I said those were items on the income statement, not on the balance sheet. Absolutely they would agree with me. The IRS understands the difference between an income statement and a balance sheet.
  14. Here is the problem. "Tithing" and "investment income" are items on an income statement. In contrast, "EPA's asset portfolio," and "the Church's treasury account" are items on a balance sheet. Strictly speaking, Hinckley was correct when he said "tithing money" wasn't used, because none of the Church's money is "tithing money." Likewise, none of the money is investment income. The Church can say, "Let's sell $50 million of stock in Apple, transfer that to Property Reserve, and use it to buy a ranch." But it can't say, "Let's spend $50 million of "tithing money on the ranch." That is because there isn't an asset called "tithing money." I think a primary reason your thinking on this is so muddled is because you don't understand the difference between an income statement and a balance sheet.
  15. Smac, I had said, with emphasis added, "If A causes B and B causes C, then A causes C. Basic logic. Likewise, if tithing funds were used to create investment earnings and investment earnings were used for a mall, then tithing funds were used for a mall." You responded; Deductions for charitable contributions are based on how much money is donated, not how the money was used. I said the donated income was used to fund the mall because it was used to create the investment income. No tithing, no mall. Why would he bother saying that if there is no moral or ethical reason not to use tithing funds for these projects? I appreciate you being consistent on the point. But the question remains, why did Hinckley feel the need to distance tithing funds from this particular project?
  16. I agree. If A causes B and B causes C, then A causes C. Basic logic. Likewise, if tithing funds were used to create investment earnings and investment earnings were used for a mall, then tithing funds were used for a mall. From the article, Michael Austin, a Latter-day Saint educator in Indiana, is not as bothered as others about the mall, he says. “I don’t see any moral difference between a shopping mall and a mutual fund.” To this, Smac97 replied, "Yep." But Hinckley implies there is a significant difference. According to Hinckley, tithing principal may be used to buy mutual funds, but it may not be used to buy malls. Why is that?
  17. I hadn't read that other thread and I did so because of your shocking accusation that HappyJackWagon did this. For the record, HappyJackWagon did not accuse Elder Holland of "inciting members of the Church to murder gay people." He accused Elder Holland of using an inappropriate metaphor and not being careful in the use of language.
  18. Yes. The question is whether the specific dollars spent on the mall and insurer are really "tithing dollars." I find that question to be religious, nonlegal, nonsensical, and irrelevant to the case. If the judge ever writes something to the effect, "This court rules that the dollars spent on the mall and insurer were NOT tithing dollars," I'll feel inclined to eat my hat. Based on my layman understanding of the law, if I were on the jury I'd boil this down to two questions. 1- Was the church being deceitful to its members when it said "tithing dollars" would not be used? 2- If so, was Huntsman's decision to pay tithing predicated on this deceit? My answers to those questions are yes on question 1, no on question 2. Victory to the defendant. But that's just me.
  19. Write your congressman and demand they double your taxes! The whistleblower says, "I learned that the [Church] brings in around $7 billion per year in tithing donations and stockpiles $1–$2 billion in its reserves each year." That means it is saving between 14% and 28% per year.
  20. You said, "I think that nearly all church tithing receipts are transferred to EPA, a 501(c)(3) organization." That simply isn't true. I hope you can understand why your humble reader might be confused.
  21. The issue people are concerned with on this thread isn't how much it collects, nor how much it spends. Rather, it is the difference between the two. If the Federal Government was only spending 80% of its tax revenue and was the using the additional 20% to save for a "rainy day" when it already had $72 trillion in the rainy day fund (i.e. enough money saved to operate the federal government tax free and interest free for 20 years, which is commensurate how much money the Church has saved up), would you really be ecstatic with all the good it was doing with the 80% of tax revenue it was spending, or would you think there were other issues that needed to be addressed?
  22. Exactly. Bob's impression of how it works is based on his imagination.
  23. That is false. The Church proper has its own treasury and operates nicely on about 80% of the tithing revenue. Tithing revenue above and beyond what the Church needs to operate is what's transferred to EPA. It is considered the "reserves on the reserves." The funds that get transferred to EPA stay there, with two exceptions.
  24. The issue isn't whether the statement "all of EPA's funds are tithing funds" is conclusory, speculative, or a conclusion of the law. The issue is whether the Church was being honest with its members when it said that no tithing money was used. The court can have its own opinion about whether the funds in EPA are rightfully called "tithing funds," I guess. But the real issue is how a reasonable member of the Church would interpret the statement that no tithing funds were used. David's declaration that the employees and leaders at EPA considered all of the money EPA managed to be tithing funds is relevant, as is their belief that it was hard for them to reconcile the Church's public statements with what actually happened. Maybe the court will conclude that technically no tithing funds were used. But that wouldn't change the fact that the Church's public statements were intended to conceal the truth from the members.
  25. You consider two outflows over a 23 year period to be plenty? Private foundations are required to distribute 5% of their assets to charity every year. On average, the two outflows represent something like 0.17% of its assets per year. You think that is sizable? And those outflows were not to the Church. The two outflows were to the for-profit corporations Property Reserve and Deseret Management Corporation. Not plenty. Not sizable. Not to the Church. I agree. You are a terrible mind reader. No, I think if EPA made "plenty and sizeable" donations to charitable causes as recognized by the IRS (including to the Church), it would qualify as an integrated auxiliary and would be in compliance with the tax code. I have my opinions on this, and I recognize that this is a unique situation that the tax code probably didn't anticipate. I recognize "reasonable minds can disagree," as Smac likes to say. That said, I don't get the impression that you understand the issue here. Your opinions are based on an idealized image of how you think EPA ought to work, not the way it actually does work. Preach it, brother!
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