These episodes of Mormon Stories include a recording of our live interview on 10/23/17 with renowned author, Dr. D. Michael Quinn, author of the final volume of the “Mormon Hierarchy” trilogy.  In his newest book, Wealth & Corporate Power, Michael provides a comprehensive look into how the LDS Church acquired wealth from the early days of the church until the 21st century.

We cover in detail:

  • How Michael was persuaded to expand the project from an appendix, to a full-fledged book
  • Michael’s meticulous methods in gathering and remembering information
  • His thoughts on the ethics of receiving “leaked” information, and whether he uses such information in his work
  • His observations of the changes in church financial strategy and salaries throughout the decades of church leadership
  • His views of the contemporary Mormon Church

…and so much more


Like what we do?  Please consider becoming a Patron at our newly created Patreon account. This is an option in addition to our regular monthly donation option.  Patrons donate based on the amount of content we produce, at the price of $1 per interview.  Please visit for more details.


Part 1: Michael shares the history of how his new book, Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth & Corporate Power, came to be

Part 2: John and Michael dig into the contents of the new book

Part 3: Michael shares his thoughts on the contemporary LDS Church


Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:


  1. David November 2, 2017 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    I’m having troubles believing anyone would donate $100M USD with the condition of make sure you don’t hire Michael Quinn.

    Also the idea that each state in Mexico is like there own country, I’m not exactly sure how that is any different from any other country in the world. I’ve always had a hard time believing Michael Quinn.

  2. Prufrocks November 2, 2017 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Parts 1 & 2 were extremely interesting and worthwhile, thanks.

    Part 3 — have to agree with “irrational” and even anti-rational faith — not just in Mormonism but in Christianity, and not just in Abraham but in Abrahamic religion and god. And in the nature of those warm-fuzzy, spiritual, religious, CNS experiences. For whatever reason, it seems that’s just the brain that Homo sapiens ended up with, and that cultural expectations also can manufacture and manipulate those experiences.

    As far as the absurdly foolish and wrong Nov. 2015 policy, rooted in nothing but prejudice, stupidity and ignorance, while it’s absolutely clear it was not a revelation from any lord or god as per Russell Nelson, I’m not convinced it’s only on a mentally intact and competent Thomas Monson.

  3. Dwayne November 2, 2017 at 10:48 pm - Reply

    I have read that 1 out of every 3 dollars that enters the Philippines comes from outside the country. The compassion the church shows them is something that completely throws me for a loop. I would doubt that the lack of paying a 10% tithe on their gross, which was what was taught in my ward, affects their temple recommend. My father is on social security only. When the Stake President (different stake) interviewed him for his recommend, he was strongly admonished for only tithing 5% instead of 10%, even though the bishop had approved it beforehand. A few years later, the first counselor in the stake interviewed my 77-year-old father and asked him if he was attending all of his meetings. My father answered that he wasn’t in good enough health but he made sure that he attended Sunday School with his wife and Sacrament but often missed priesthood. The counselor said he was going to hold onto the recommend until he had an opportunity to speak with the bishop.

    That was 3 years ago. My father left that day and never returned. This was the treatment that he got even though he managed to get 100% on home teaching with 18 different families. That’s a lot of gas money for someone on social security but he did it willingly because he felt he had the time and it was his responsibility. The silver lining, if there is one, came from our relationship. For over 30 years, I hadn’t been able to speak to my father without him bringing up the church. I would often have anxiety just waiting for the subject to be brought up. Since the day he stopped attending, we have spoken about so many things without the church being a factor, or even a consideration, and have built a relationship that wasn’t possible before.

    • Harold Huff November 5, 2017 at 5:02 pm - Reply

      If one pays tithing on their gross income during their working years then one has already tithing on their social security, in my opinion. In this scenario paying tithing on one’s social security benefits means one is paying tithing on it twice.

      • Harold Huff November 5, 2017 at 5:14 pm - Reply

        If one pays tithing on their gross income during their working years then one has already paid tithing on their social security, in my opinion. In this scenario paying tithing on one’s social security benefits means one is paying tithing on it twice.

        Edited for clarity

  4. Roman cani November 2, 2017 at 11:59 pm - Reply

    God and his son can appear to Mr Quinn, telling him that the lds is a corporation not a church , and he will reply, do have authority from today’s living prophets?

  5. Incognito November 3, 2017 at 6:58 am - Reply

    Thank you John I love Mike and could listen to him all day. But for him and others to continue to use the excuse that the leaders are just humans only goes so far. If the church is what it claims a living God would give them “a slap of revelation “ as BY said. In my opinion if any of it was anything more than man made a loving God would make his will known in an unmistakable way to stop the pain and suffering as it relates to ANY form of discrimination.

  6. Min-shaft November 3, 2017 at 8:49 am - Reply

    I haven’t yet read the book, but is Quinn saying tithing or total church revenues is $33B? While total revenues from all sources might reach that level, don’t think taking what we know today about total membership, activity rates and percentage of the church in other countries and the average incomes by country could generate an estimate of annual tithing alone anywhere near that level. The method h explained of projecting that figure off data from decades ago seems incorrect and flawed methodology, similar to the projections of church growth in the 80’s and 90’s by projecting growth rates would remain unchanged and the subsequent ridiculous estimate that church would grown to ridiculous numbers.

    • LonelyTBM November 5, 2017 at 8:38 am - Reply

      I think you are discounting the power of compound interest that comes from avoiding smoking and alcohol. When it comes time for me to plan my estate I plan on using a large portion of what I’ve accrued to support BYU and other church programs. Lots of active LDS faithful die as thrify millionaires. Frankly this podcast makes me extremely proud of my contributions to the church and much more eager to encourage my children to stay in the fold. I am 35 year-old attorney that already make much in excess of LDS General Authorities. If my situation represents the median LDS tithe-payer you would only need 1.5 million members to get Dr. Quinn’s projection.

    • Phil November 7, 2017 at 3:16 am - Reply

      I think you are discounting the tithing contribution made by the three Nephites. Their accumulated knowledge has doubtless been put to good use in the field of financial analysis, private equity and many other worthy endeavors. Were the Church to be more forthcoming with financial data, I imagine it might expose the identity of these three renowned sages.

  7. Celeste November 3, 2017 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Thanks for interviewing Michael again, John. He’s a good human being with more self-awareness than most and a gentle, thoughtful manner about him. His new book is a singular achievement. With a remarkable capacity to speak extemporaneously in a coherent manner he all but removed the need for you to ask questions. Many happy returns.

    Michael’s detachment from the morality of a Fortune 500 company fronting as a church is both refreshing and not especially enlightening. He actually extolled the old Palmer chestnut of new apostles getting a $1 million signing bonus. Big houses and fancy cars for the brethren? They’re just as likely to be gifts from rich guys. The $3 billion Mall of Mammon? No problemo.

    But if he’d somehow been able to shed some light on these things it would’ve been interesting. Closing the church’s books in 1959 brings to mind Isaiah 29:15, a warning against those who seek deep to hide their counsels and works of darkness from the Lord. If the hierarchy believes it can outfox the Lord as it outfoxes the membership, it has no idea who it is attempting to outfox.

    It is fascinating that one so devoted to letting facts tell the story as Michael is yet clings to the tradition of the hierarchy being prophets, seers and revelators in the face of them producing none of the fruits of those gifts. In his forced separation from the Church™, he remains devoted to an organization that smells of corporatism. The hierarchy heaving Michael off The Good Ship Zion 24 years ago was in itself evidence that their connection to heaven is more tenuous than they imagine.

    • david November 23, 2017 at 7:08 pm - Reply

      I think you are discounting the subsidy provided by attending a church school. (70% by some estimates) thus, the church is entitled to receiving the compound interest from the dollar value of said benefit.

      also, the church out of the goodness of their hearts decided to build church buildings (instead of having members pay for them) thus, another benefit in which the church is owed money. :)

  8. TMA November 3, 2017 at 4:37 pm - Reply

    I enjoyed the podcasts immensely.

    What a lovely soul D Michael Quinn is, it certainly feels that many of his views on Mormonism are now completely fixed, which is very interesting. As he alluded to, he’s a twentieth century Mormon spending most of his time in nineteenth century Mormonism, but I’m glad he’s still engaging somewhat in the twenty first century. He has so much still to offer.

    However, I believe that some of his views on how the younger generation will react to the essays, early church history etc., are not accurate.

    I am raising a group of kids in the twenty-first century. I do not believe that the church’s recent publication of the essays or other attempt at transparency will stop the hemorrhaging out of Mormonism by many Millennials.

    I applaud any attempt for transparency, releasing information is the correct thing to do. However, when presented with the information, especially around polygamy, many young people can no longer reconcile the dominant narrative that the church is ‘true’ and for example, polygamy, (central tenet of Mormon theology) is of God. It just feels bonkers to them.

    As a parent, I am left trying to ameliorate against the complete rejection of God, and salvage a sense of spirituality as far as I possibly can, with kids who feel horrified by previous (many still hidden) doctrines. Often times, an allergic reaction to the core doctrines of Mormonism.

    The physical release of information by the Church doesn’t make the bitter pill any easier to swallow.

    Good luck with the inoculation theory. Let’s get to the point where we can admit and discard the zany.

    I will labor the point.

    This is NOT a generation (unlike D Michael Quinn and his contemporaries who were around during most of the twentieth century), who grew up knowing about, or at least, hearing about some of the ‘ehm-clears throat’ history.

    They do NOT have a twentieth century mindset, but a twenty first century mindset, and aren’t necessarily willing to suspend their disbelief, or sign up to an institution who is still clearing failing in its duty to care around the sharing of information in an open and transparent manner.

    This, coupled with a harsh line on LGBTQ policies, boxes them into a feeling of huge dissonance. The pity for me, them, the church and greater mankind is that they often reject all forms of spiritual self (religious or non-religious) that places them at risk of making not so healthy choices.

    I won’t go on and on.

    I would like to hear more about Dr Quinn’s personal view on polygamy. It appeared to me that he feels that this is also a doctrine from God.

    I do not believe it is a Godly doctrine.

    Yes, some women may have gained status as a polygamous wife, let’s be honest, they needed to gain something to swallow the doctrine or cultural nuance that is an anathema to most women.

    I have heard that in some areas of the world, church leaders ALSO had to tell men that to remain worthy priesthood holders they would also have to stop domestic violence that was often seen as a cultural right. My opinion, while some women may have been thrown a bone for their compliance with polygamy, there are many, many – with their children – who received huge hardship in relation to their polygamy. I could go on and on.

    I think it would be a wonderful dinner conversation that I would LOVE to have with Dr Quinn. I offer this to him and John on my ticket!

  9. Lindbergh27 November 3, 2017 at 9:07 pm - Reply

    I was very interested to hear the Dr. Quinn mention that John Taylor had said “If Satan has truth I want it.”

    Can anyone point me to a source for that? I have not been able to find it. Thank you!

  10. Jess November 4, 2017 at 7:34 am - Reply

    Mr. Quinn’s argument of sacrifice and devotion by the GA’s as they only receive 120,000+ is laughable. Yes it is less than what they received in the private sector but what are they really doing to earn 120,000+? It would be difficult to say that the majority are not already independent wealthy and by Mr. Quinn’s own information add to their “stipend” with other perks and opportunities afforded to them by virtue of the position they hold in the church. LDS is a corporation with a thin veneer of religion to support their great real estate empire.

  11. bob November 4, 2017 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    What’s the chance these guys are getting money for giving Church building contracts out to their friends and relatives.

    • Bob November 6, 2017 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Certainly here were a number of things in the interview that I didn’t know. With all due respect to Michael, he referred to himself as a socialist and “living hand to mouth his whole life”. I’m wondering if that’s the case would he be professionally competent to write such a book and to “know what he was looking for?” While having guargantuan sized homes is possible, it sure doesn’t fit the image most of us would consider as apostolic and Christian. There’s no mention of the nepotism that must prevail has those authorities grant construction contracts for all of the buildings the Church does. I doubt Grant Palmer would misrepresent the information given from his sources. And, he admits that his information is based on what was available. The Church is likely able to thwart any audit and given all of the secrecy, people who are honest have nothing to hide and wouldn’t resist an audit or being forthcoming with information. The Church hides , conceals and lies. They allow only what they want you to see.

  12. Phil November 4, 2017 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    If the mall was supposedly paid for with non-tithing money, then why is the church keeping non-tithing money in the first place? If it is not tithing, then should it not be returned back to the original tithe payers as a dividend?

    The opportunity costs of personal and family wealth lost due to long term tithing expentidures is no small matter.

    Were the Church to be more forthcoming with financial data, I imagine folks with limited financial literacy would more clearly understand the compounded gains they have forfeited over the years.

    • Harold Huff November 5, 2017 at 5:10 pm - Reply

      The Mormon Church is rationalizing and muddying the waters by claiming they didn’t use tithing monies to build City Creek Mall. Whether it’s tithing or not, the fact is that “sacred funds” spent by this church on a retail establishment so the wealthy have another playground is not in line with its overall mission.

  13. pish November 4, 2017 at 9:13 pm - Reply

    I loved the interview. There are of course things I agree with, and things I do not. It is great to listen to someone who can fully articulate how they feel about an issue and why they feel the way they do. It is irritatingly common that people have beliefs and ideas, either rational or irrational, and they either do not know why they have those beliefs or cannot even begin to articulate why. Just an interesting manner of speaking. I could listen to him read the phone book.

  14. Kirk Smuth November 5, 2017 at 1:41 am - Reply

    The Mormon GAs are “operationally wealthy.” That means that regardless of what they own personally, billions or practically nothing, they have everything they need when they need it. L Ron Hubbard was operationally wealthy. He didn’t technically own anything, probably not even his high-waisted khaki slacks, but whatever he needed was available as it was needed. If he needed to get somewhere soon, there was a plane. If he needed to vacate one country or another to avoid legal hassles or creditors or whatever, there was an ocean-going vessel at his disposal. He didn’t “own” any of it, but it was there. You don’t even need to own a friggin’ Bic pen if there’s someone at your elbow who will hand you one any time the need arises—or, better yet, write it down for you.

    The President, and most royalty are in similar positions. They might be vastly wealthy, but they don’t need to be to be perfectly comfortable.

  15. Wondering Wanderer November 5, 2017 at 1:01 pm - Reply

    The church essays do not sound to me like they are written honestly by academics. They are written with obsfucation as a lawyer would, using distractions, leaving out or glossing over crucial information, and putting forth absurd excuses or explanations.

  16. Kathy Coburn November 6, 2017 at 7:53 am - Reply

    It astounds me that there are those who still believe the brothern our directed by God. With the whole beginning of the church in such a lying shamble, I don’t believe that the direction comes from God at all.

    That’s always the point I would like to ask when they talk about serrs and revelaters.

    Truth cannot be built on a lie !

    I enjoyed your interviews with Michael Quinn however I found this one on part three to be very frustrating with his belief that the brotheren and the church is still true with all of its faults.

  17. EDiL13 November 6, 2017 at 1:24 pm - Reply

    Very interesting and enlightening interview — thank you, Dr. Quinn, for the research you’ve done and the books you’ve written, for doing this interview, and so much more.

    I have always wondered how, when, and why tithing was redefined as 10% of gross income whether you could afford it or not, since that doesn’t seem to be what is indicated in the scripture verses that are often quoted in order to convince people that they should be giving a certain amount of their money to the church. I googled it this morning, having listened to 2/3 of these podcasts, and wondering if that topic was going to be covered. I had suspected that at some point there came a time when the church was either in financial difficulty or had some plans that they knew they couldn’t implement at whatever their level of funding was at the time, and the leaders (probably the first presidency and apostles) got together to come up with a plan for how to get more “blood out of these turnips” (ok, so I’m being a little cynical here), and they came up with this “gross (not net) income” idea of what a full tithe is supposed to be. If what I found is true (and correct me if I’m wrong), this was indeed essentially what happened in the early 1960s.

    With regard to “rational” vs “irrational” faith and how our brains behave, I once heard a talk by a chaplain about another minister who he would often have conversations with. One day they discussed recent scientific evidence that if a certain part of the brain was stimulated in a certain way, the person would have a “religious” experience. His friend’s “faith” was devastated by this, and he lamented, “All this time we thought people were experiencing God, and now we find out it’s just brain chemistry?” The chaplain responded that this news didn’t bother him at all — “So we figured out how God does it.” I guess the bottom line is that we’re all free to interpret the available evidence however we chose or however we can, especially when there’s still so much that we don’t know, so I enjoyed the discussion about truth, faith, and human fallibility.

  18. TJones November 7, 2017 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    Three red flags stood out during this interview which damaged any sense of reliability in the book being discussed and Mr. Quinn’s opinions and conclusions. First, Mr. Quinn does not demonstrate a grasp of financial/economic knowledge or analysis in his background. Second, his claim that a $100 million donation to ASU was conditional on Mr. Quinn NOT being hired is highly suspect. Third, the fact that probate laws in Utah have been changed to eliminate disclosure of the financial condition of estates at time of death lead to the conclusion the church elders have something they desire to keep hidden. It is also notable that Mr. Quinn considered Grant Palmer’s information of a $1 million gift to each new apostle as not believable, yet Mr. Quinn chose to believe what a GA told him about being unable to afford to send his child to college unless it was to BYU. What makes Mr. Quinn’s source truthful but Mr. Palmer’s source untruthful?
    I have read many books regarding financial operational failures, histories, and frauds. Authors such as Michael Lewis, Bethany McLean, Kurt Eichenwald, and Harry Markopoulos have the requisite financial knowledge and familiarity with economic history to write accurately and make reliable financial assumptions. Perhaps one day a writer with the necessary understanding and experience in these areas can provide a reliable reporting of church finances and investigation of the wealth of the fifteen members in leadership.

  19. Fan of John- November 7, 2017 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    I was really hoping that this long awaited book would explain what happens to 20-30 billion dollars each year. Doesn’t sound like that information was obtainable.

  20. Bliss Doubt November 9, 2017 at 7:06 pm - Reply

    I love listening to Quinn. The grace he extends to the church that excommunicated him is remarkable, not earned, undeserved, and yet he gives it freely and with love. Who needs to learn from whom here?

  21. Struggling November 10, 2017 at 9:52 am - Reply

    I have a question about who the “Intellectual Reserve, Inc. ” is or are? How does it fit in in the control of finances and other church assets? Did Dr. D. Michael Quinn find any info on who they or this is and their control over the church?

  22. Struggling November 10, 2017 at 10:23 am - Reply

    One last question. It had been the order of past decades that tithing settlement use to begin in mid December. Until today that the church encourages tithing settlement to begin in October. Does this give a need to take notice that the church may be concerned about loosing members and their tithing and donations.

  23. Clh November 13, 2017 at 6:46 am - Reply

    It is to complete it before the busy month of December.

  24. DB Cooper November 14, 2017 at 6:32 am - Reply

    Does anybody know where i can find that quote that Quinn cited in which Brigham Young told other apostles not to complain if the church gives him a million dollars and them nothing because he has a carriage and can run them down? I haven’t been able to find it yet.

  25. Jimmy November 16, 2017 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    Hi Michale, I loved your interview(s). I hope you will read this and help me find the quote you used in your interview. You said that it was President Woodroof (Snow?) who once said “if Satan has truth, I want it.” Could you give me the source of that quote? I’d love to have it in my files….that is an awesome statement. Thank you. Jimmy

  26. AdamE November 18, 2017 at 4:24 pm - Reply

    I tried to enjoy this interview, but Mr. Quinn’s un-moving belief that the church is run today exactly like how it was run 40-60 years ago (despite having no evidence to support this belief) made it impossible to take anything he said seriously. The church is NOT the same today as it was 40-60 years ago, and nothing in their finances probably looks even remotely similar to what it did then. For example, does he really believe they have 21 year old return missionaries managing their multi-billion dollar investments? That’s incredibly naive. And believing that they don’t invest in items that go against their teachings (alcohol, cigarettes, etc.) at this point in time? Also naive… just take a look at their mall for an example of where they are doing this. You can see and buy all sorts of things in it that are not considered appropriate for Mormons. And then his estimates of tithing being based off of numbers from 1960? Wow. I was hoping for facts and figures, but they just weren’t here.

    If you’re looking for financial information for anything pre-1950, his books and opinions would be very valuable. Anything after that, not so much.

  27. Ra January 6, 2019 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    The three person independent auditing committee was dissolved by Bishop Burton in 2001. It was reinstated in 2014. Was a precursor to financing City Creek Center and consolidating all church business under one flag.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.