According to U.S. law, religions have no obligation to open their books to the public, and the LDS Church officially stopped reporting any finances in the early 1960s.
The Mormon Church is hardly the only religious institution to be less than forthcoming about its wealth; the Catholic Church has been equally opaque throughout history. On the other hand, says historian D. Michael Quinn, who is working on a book about the LDS Church’s finances and businesses, “The Mormon Church is very different than any other church. … Traditional Christianity and Judaism make a clear distinction between what is spiritual and what is temporal..."
So I don't think there's any genuine dispute that Joseph Smith did, in fact, have a stone or stones that he referred to as seer stones, and that he did, in fact, put them in a hat on more than one occasion when he purported to dictate the text of the Book of Mormon.
Beyond that, I don't know. I don't think there's any compelling reason for me, as a Mormon, to have any particular belief on that topic, and I see no compelling evidence for much of a belief beyond what's supported by the available historic records. Do you have some belief about that topic that is more detailed than what is supported by the available historic records? If so, it's you who has made a leap of faith - not me.
Your assumptions about what you think it means for someone to believe that my religion is actually true requires not only a leap of faith, but a leap of faith that is demonstrably unjustified.
Why isn't it fair game to lampoon that?
"Same reason it's not fair game to lampoon that when it comes to other minorities.
There are certainly contexts in which it's fair game to lampoon it. But there's a difference between lampooning on the one hand and suggesting that Mormons are characteristically this way or that way, suggesting that they're creepy or generally greedy or whatever. There's a line between a lampoon and discrimination. It's a line that gets discussed in the context of comedy all the time.
For whatever it's worth, I don't see any comedy in this thread."
posted by The World Famous at 1:14 PM on July 18 [1 favorite +] [!]
"On occasion someone will try to estimate the Church's income and determine how much of that is used to care for the poor and needy," the LDS church said in a statement. "Again, they rarely capture the whole picture."
We do not discuss the temple ordinances outside the temples. It was never intended that knowledge of these temple ceremonies would be limited to a select few who would be obliged to ensure that others never learn of them. It is quite the opposite, in fact. With great effort we urge every soul to qualify and prepare for the temple experience.
The ordinances and ceremonies of the temple are simple. They are beautiful. They are sacred. They are kept confidential lest they be given to those who are unprepared. Curiosity is not a preparation. Deep interest itself is not a preparation.
We do not quote the words of the sealing ordinance outside of the temple, but we may describe the sealing room as being beautiful in its appointment, quiet and serene in spirit, and hallowed by the sacred work that is performed there.
A lot of this is standard minority-faith stuff, including the perceived power of popular entertainment to validate a whole group. (Recall how Nathan Zuckerman’s father swells with pride when the Andrews Sisters sing “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen.”) It’s only later in the cycle of integration that the group comes banging on the door—as Jews and Catholics did, in the nineteen-fifties—for more general admission, not as cardboard stage-ethnic types good at one or two things but as people available to do everything, just like the ruling Wasps. That’s when everyone starts asking what it is these people really believe.
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