In this incredibly fascinating 4-part series, long-time Mormon Stories supporter Andrew Ainsworth interviews Daymon Smith Ph.D., a Mormon anthropologist and the author of a new book called: The Book of Mammon: A Book About A Book About The Corporation That Owns The Mormons (Paperback). In this interview they discuss:

  • Episode 1: Federal Prosecution, Post-Manifesto Polygamy and the Rise of Mormon Fundamentalism
  • Episode 2: The Life and Death of the Mormon Speculative Tradition, and the Rise and Costs of Correlation
  • Episode 3: The LDS Church as a Corporation and the Corporation as a Church
  • Episode 4: Is the LDS Church Serving God, Mammon, or Both?

Daymon’s fascinating dissertation can be purchased here.

Part 1

Download MP3

Part 2

Download MP3

Part 3

Download MP3

Part 4

Download MP3


  1. […] Mormon Stories Podcast By day2mon Leave a Comment Categories: Uncategorized […]

  2. MMORG 4 | Main Street Plaza May 13, 2010 at 9:03 pm - Reply

    […] Mormon Stories Podcast | Book on Church HQ In a 4-part podcast, Andrew Ainsworth asks LDS anthropologist Daymon Smith about Post-Manifesto Polygamy, Correlation, […]

  3. Polly Anna May 14, 2010 at 12:05 am - Reply

    “Salt Lake doesn’t turn into Detroit.” Ouch. I love Detroit.

  4. Glenn May 14, 2010 at 9:56 am - Reply

    Wow! Well done. The evolution of doctrines was my favorite part. Intelligences — eternal progression — adam-god. really interesting stuff.

  5. Travis May 14, 2010 at 12:37 pm - Reply

    I listened to the first segment this morning on my way into work. So amazingly fascinating! I love it!

    Kudos to all of you. Thanks so much for taking the time to put it together! I look forward to hearing the rest.

  6. aj May 15, 2010 at 8:43 am - Reply

    I loved it. IV been a member of this church my whole life, being poor most of the time. There so many things I was disappointed in that the church did out of policy to my family, it was not what I know to be what the gospel is. I came to distinguish between the church and the gospel early in my life. And see how far away the church is actually moving away from the gospel. This put everything in there proper place, were the church can not hide its true hart anymore. And cense there is only one member the president of the church. I am not a member, none of us are. They got ride of that legal condrum just before I was born, I see how the church is just an image and yes what you hide is an action and it dos show were your true nature is. I will not be paying into your own destruction. My charity will go to true charitable causes.

    • Lucysmail January 21, 2012 at 12:29 am - Reply

      I cannot take your argument seriously if I don’t read your comments.

      • LaDean Johns Johnson February 8, 2023 at 11:54 am - Reply

        All of his sources maybe we’ll documented. Read his book and then decide. He says he’s a professional.

  7. Loren May 15, 2010 at 7:22 pm - Reply

    Fascinating stuff! Do you know if Daymon has any plans to put this book on the kindle? I can’t wait to read it.

  8. Clinton Bartholomew May 16, 2010 at 10:32 am - Reply

    This is by far one of my favorite episodes. Daymon’s series on BCC was fascinating and this was a great follow up.

  9. Simon Magus May 16, 2010 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Great podcast!!! Best quote: “The 19th century Jesus was a polygamist, communist, revolutionary…20th century Jesus wears pastel colors, holds sheep and caresses children’s hair.”

  10. campeche May 16, 2010 at 7:54 pm - Reply

    I loved the first part of the podcast about the early church language and speculation in among early church leaders and church members. I can see why the church had to go to correlation just to keep things from getting out of hand. Boy, I wish I could see those 72 note cards. Do you think they’re still around?

    Where I part ways with you is in the 4th podcast about the use of church money and how not enough of it is going to the poor. When we first moved to the Houston area (1986), the missionaries were baptizing a lot of people who were converted to the church welfare system but not to the gospel. We had missionaries going into investigator”s homes, seeing their poverty, then setting up an appointment with the bishop to get them church welfare. One sister missionary called me to ask if brother so-and -so and his girlfriend could come to live with us because supposedly the reason they didn’t go to church was because their family members didn’t want them to. So if he and his girlfriend (!) could get away from their family, they would become faithful members. (I made a call to the mission president about this). Also, on the first Sunday of the month, you would always see a couple of slackers sitting on the sofa outside the bishop’s office waiting to ask for rent money. Then you would not see them again until the next rent payment was due. The abuse was rampant and disgusting. When these people were baptized into the welfare system, they just became a huge burden for the faithful members. Thank the lord the church put an end to this type of abuse….

  11. daymon May 16, 2010 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    thanks for the response.

    I’d like to explore this question of ‘abuse’ of church welfare, if I can. Would it be abuse if they ‘believed’ in the gospel? Is it abuse because they expect the check, rather than come there as a last resort? What I’m trying to get at is what makes welfare legitimate and when is it abuse?
    For my part, I cannot see paying a couple hundred bucks a month for someone’s rent is really comparable to a multi-billion dollar mall, I guess.

    I think what I was trying to say is that sure, there’s abuse in church welfare, but that is not really an excuse to not give when the case is legitimate (as research suggests most cases are), and that the expectation of abuse (and the reaction against the Welfare Queen stereotype) does far more damage, spiritually speaking in the illegitimate denial of charity, than would follow from simply handing out a rent check.

  12. Andrew S May 16, 2010 at 10:01 pm - Reply

    While I have always liked the concept of Mormon Stories, I’ve not really gotten to listen to a lot of episodes, because I believe they are sometimes prohibitively long (and I’d rather, for example, read transcripts after the fact. [which is often what I end up doing with, say, conference].)

    But I decided to listen to this one and I was hooked! This kinda interested me for a lot of things I never cared about in the past.

    There were several “lines” that intrigued me. One was the notion of comparing the church’s involvements in worldly affairs (e.g., financial investments) with building a house on sand. Another was the related idea that in pursuing such a cause of action, the church is taking a stance that it doesn’t appear close to taking in other realms — e.g., with the Law of Chastity or the Word of Wisdom. So why would the Law of Consecration be different?

    Of course, then when Andrew asked the question: But didn’t we try all that before? Didn’t it not work? I found the answer kinda chilling: well, if we’re basing things on material or worldly measures, then it’s not going to work. But the church should probably have a different focus (e.g., seeking the kingdom of heaven) first. Until I really thought about THAT, I never really got the whole Mammon stuff — but after this series of podcasts, I’ve begun to wonder if the financial status of the church (which I have assumed as a normal state of affairs, something not all that questionable) is a real ideological problem.

    One thing I thought was intriguing was the way that Daymon pointed out that way back in the old days, there certainly seemed to be more charismatic and “amazing” spiritual experiences. Yet, we don’t see that today. At least a couple of times, he implied (at least, I don’t think he came right out and said it) that the comparative lack of such experiences now might be sign that we aren’t in the right direction spiritually (regardless of the church’s financial status). I guess I found this intriguing because, as someone who doesn’t believe in the church’s claims (or in claims of divinity in general), it was interesting to see this implication.

    …nevertheless, one of the bigger things the podcast impressed upon me (that I guess I hadn’t really “gotten”) was how different the climate of the church was in the old days (with the speculative tradition) vs. how it is now with correlation. But I can’t help but lament for something that I’ve never experienced, and find no way of experiencing. After all, it doesn’t seem appropriate or authentic to just start picking and choosing strands of old dudes’ musings related to Mormon ideas about metaphysics based on what things appeal to me. Even if I were to pursue such a path, the question on my mind is…how can I start dabbling in x idea or y idea without dabbling in something like polygamy? So it seems like the past’s rich speculative tradition is kind of off-limits. Something we can study nowadays as anthropology, but not something we can actually live (unless we want to take “extreme” steps that would put us directly at odds with the LDS church/corporation.)

  13. danko May 17, 2010 at 11:58 am - Reply

    Loved the podcast.
    Explaining the speculative tradition helped clarify why there are more strange teachings in the past than in the present.
    It seems that early Mormonism allowed for dissenting theological opinions in a way that post-correlated Mormonism doesn’t. And the fact that much of the early teachings have been discarded, relieves us of the burden of needing to accept it all. We can believe weird things if we like, but we aren’t obligated to, and nobody can accuse of it either.
    I found it very enlightening when Daymon explained the motives behind correlation, which were to create greater unity, simplicity, and to prepare for the flood of overseas converts. Removing troublesome doctrines wasn’t a “cover up” the way I used to assume, but was rather an effort at consolidation, where the “non-essentials” were discarded. It made me more sympathetic to the church’s motives.

    I hadn’t really considered the spiritual damage that might come from pursuing wealth alongside the kingdom of God. Perhaps it isn’t very healthy, but not sure. If we are going to establish zion as a community, then it will be realized in material as well as spiritual ways. It seems that Mormonism has always believed in turning spiritual ideals into physical realities. I would be completely comfortable with the church’s investments if they spelled out, in advance, where the interest will be spent, and what percentage will go to humanitarian aid and human investment.
    As long as the books are closed, we’ll never really know. It makes it hard to donate to fast offerings and/or humanitarian aid, knowing that any unclaimed money just sits in a bank account collecting interest, as if we’re saving for a rainy day. Maybe they could create a three-fold mission for investments, they way John Huntsman did with his profits. We certainly shouldn’t aim to be rich and secure before spending on the poor and needy.

  14. daymon May 17, 2010 at 1:59 pm - Reply

    To commenters so far,
    thanks for the kind reviews, and for what are really very good summaries (though I don’t necessarily agree completely with the interpretations) of the interview. I’m pleased that listeners find Mormon history intriguing, and seem to be giving some real thought to the relationship between God and Mammon.

    The comment about Detroit and Salt Lake was really a tongue-in-cheek paraphrase of a similar comment I read time and again on the Trib site and other blogs where the question of the downtown development was posed. I don’t think there’s any way SLC could become Detroit, any more than Detroit could transform into SLC if only it had a massive infusion of cash from a certain religion.
    And I have a real root-for-the-underdog feeling for Detroit.

    • Larry Mortensen August 11, 2019 at 2:57 pm - Reply

      Daymon, is it possible to get a recording or a written copy or this podcast I am very interested and the one I’m listening to keeps jumping around . My parents lived through the 1900 period. Polygamists in Mexico and then some who continued to practice after the Mexican revolution in Virden, New Mexico.

  15. Lost Sheep May 17, 2010 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Best… podcast… ever

  16. George Windes May 17, 2010 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    I have loved the first two episodes of this Podcast. I would be less than honest though if I didn’t acknowledge that the subject of church correlation left me so depressed. Especially to learn there is no going back. I’m three score and ten,
    I remember the gospel prior to correlation. I miss the meat of the gospel, as opposed to the milk…

  17. Jeremy May 17, 2010 at 7:05 pm - Reply

    Andrew and Daymon,

    Thanks for that great podcast. I remember reading about that mall development in the Tribune a couple of years ago. As a member of the church, I wasn’t pleased by it. Why did the church need to build a massive mall next to Temple Square? What does this development say about what the church represents? Do shopping and worshiping at the temple really mix? What kind of message is the mall sending to member and non-members? After listening to your discussion of this mall development, I find myself wanting to know more about this development. Has their been any vocal LDS opposition to it in Utah? I live in Canada and have a limited knowledge of how the church is intertwined in many aspects of life in Utah. However, if a mall isn’t mammon then I don’t understand what mammon really is.

  18. Erico May 17, 2010 at 9:52 pm - Reply

    Great podcast! Very informative, especially about the degrees of cotton bond paper, Toyota Avalons, hardwood paneling, and the tithe-subsidized cafeteria and catering services.

    My first brush with the LDS hierarchy being too good for the peasant life was on my mission. I went stateside. A general authority came into my town for a Sunday talk at the stake center. For whatever reason, both the G.A. and the mission prez had made no dinner plans so I invited them over to our missionary pad for a modest, yet sabbath-observing meal as I had ample food and decent cooking skills. My invitation was laughed at by the G.A. and mission prez and they both promptly took myself and my companion out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. A little piece of me died that day. It may seem like a little thing, but as a missionary who idolized general authorities, it was discouraging to see them not follow the same rules that the rank and file were obligated to keep. Maybe I wouldn’t care if the leaders weren’t so strict in laying down the mission rules, but it seemed like it was a double-standard. Ever since then I’ve never been a fan of the Mormon hierarchy bling, even if it consists of a not-so-cool pimped out Avalon.

    Rambling on… so yeah, Correlation is definitely one of the factors that drove me out of the church. Thanks for discussing its history. Correlation is like the No Child Left Behind law which is actually creating an entire generation of brain-dead zombies. Strong words, yes, but today’s average church member truly has no idea about what real Mormonism is.

  19. George Windes May 17, 2010 at 11:21 pm - Reply

    I have invested additional time and listened to the final two episodes. I enjoyed them nearly as much as the former two. In the final episode, Daymon shares his testimony with us. I found it troublesome in just one way. If J. Smith would not be happy with the current status of his church, then an apostasy (at least limited) has occurred. If we tailor the policies of a corporation, because of pressure from without, then are we true to the original design? I rarely give testimonies in my life anymore. I do though send strong affirmations of thanks when something of good report invades my cerebellum and makes me feel good about Mormon culture. Mormon Stories Podcast does just that. Shalom and thanks (again).

  20. Brian Johnston May 18, 2010 at 9:45 am - Reply

    This “reference work” work episode of Mormon Stories that to me ranks in the top 10 ever. It was so very informative. I will be listening to this many times to soak it all in, in addition to getting Daymon’s book. Such a profound topic to help 21st century Mormons understand themselves.

  21. Oz May 18, 2010 at 11:02 am - Reply

    Excellent podcast!!!

    Thank you for bringing peace to my mind by confirming that 19th Century Mormonism is not the same as 21st Century version we have today. As I’ve studied, I started to see this gradual change in doctrine, and thought I may be losing my mind in thinking that the statement “The Church is the same today and forever” was not very accurate.

    I do believe, if Joseph Smith was to return to see the church today, he would be blown away by the growth of the church worldwide, and of the personal dedication of the individual faithful members. Meaning, they actually live the Word of Wisdom, pay tithes, say prayers, give of their time. However, he would be disappointed by the extreme restraints of doctrine and thought that correlation has brought to the church. Thank you Daymon for pinpointing the time periods and individuals who influenced this gradual change in how the gospel is expressed. Recognizing the change does bother me, but honestly, I think I’d rather try to live as a 21st Century Mormon. There would be only one unrighteous reason I would desire to live polygamy and I’m too selfish to live the Law of Consecration…but that’s just me.

  22. Allen May 18, 2010 at 11:13 am - Reply

    While listening to the correlation portion of the podcast, the thought came to me that 1960’s LDS correlation was just like the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., where a group of Christian Bishops met together to obtain a consensus on church doctrine.

    You could call correlation, the LDS version of an Ecumenical Council (a conference of bishops of the whole Christian Church which convene to discuss and settle matters of Church doctrine and practice) which resulted in the first uniform Mormon doctrine.

    My question is how did this LDS “Council of Nicaea” decide which doctrines to throw out and which doctrines to keep. Was it a consensus? Was it by majority vote? Was inspiration involved? Did the politics of the day have an influence in what doctrines were adopted? Who was in attendance at these meetings?

    The decisions that were made are of extreme importance to the membership, but we hear nothing of this “Council of Nicaea” from church leadership.

    The Council of Nicaea always seemed a very fishy to me and now LDS correlation has that same sort of smell.

  23. daymon May 18, 2010 at 11:43 am - Reply

    The analogy to the Council of Nicea was hinted at by David O. McKay as well. The way the doctrines were decided was HBLee and a few others got in a room and wrote the ‘doctrines’ on cards, and those were the ‘foundation’ (abstract nouns) which provided the test for all others to make it into publications. What to do, then, with the stuff that didn’t fit? Teach people how to read ‘symbolism’ or ‘how does this apply to me’, and then, if that doesn’t work, provide them with new scriptures (as detailed in the Book of Mammon).
    Was inspiration involved? That’s for every person to decide, I suppose, by the maxim: By their fruits shall ye know them.

  24. Mike May 18, 2010 at 12:15 pm - Reply

    Great podcast. I would rate this in the top five Mormon Stories interviews ever, along with Bushman, Palmer, Jacque, and Paul Toscano. Just my opinion of course…

    I would be fascinated to hear more abut the business thinking that leads to church decisions. (The illustration of the Book of Mormon distribution during the ETB “administration” was amazing and unsettling.) While this can all be very disturbing at one level, in a larger sense I suppose it shouldn’t come as too much of a suprise. In many ways, business is the language and thought-process of our society. Just as the medieval church was built on a feudalism-and monarchy-inspired way of governance, and the Protestant reformation was affected by the flowering of Calvinism within the Swiss society, it stands to reason that the LDS church would be operated like a business, not just because the people called to it are all business people, or that businesslike practices have been seen to solve its problems, but also becasue business is the way that things “get done” in today’s world.

    I’m not defending the church by saying all this. It’s discouraging that the church would adopt the “corporate/MBA” model and not the “government” model, or at least the “non-profit association” model.

  25. Tim May 18, 2010 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    This really helped me understand the formation of Mormon doctrine. As an outsider, I’ve encountered the difficult task of nailing Mormon doctrine to the wall more than once. This clarified to me how it can be both slippery and hard edged to different people at the same time.

    For all of the complaints about Nicea, it seems correlation is on its way to the same results . . . creeds.

  26. aj May 18, 2010 at 4:31 pm - Reply

    Business model get things done is grate if you accuraly eared your money the old fashion way. But this church or corporation what ever you what to call it, gets its money for FREE. Then calls everyone members which we are not and then calls it a sin to ask were all the money is going (believing we are members and would rightfully what to know) and if you don’t pay the heavens will chastise you. This doesn’t make any sense were the chastisement should go is those who should know better the ones who say they speak with Christ, (well im not sure they actually say that, but they let everyone believe they do) they take the money and use it totally improperly?
    Also when tithing started with actual money it was because the church was in debt and needed help out, so it called upon its members to help. Well when its members are in debt they are told to get out by the leaders no help, even telling us that they still expect us to pay them money. How in the world would we every get out of debt?

  27. Anon12 May 18, 2010 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    I also found this podcast fascinating, Daymon. Big thanks for coming on and sharing your thoughts and info with all of us. Your dissertation and book are on their way to my house.

    I guess the main thing I found disturbing were a few quotes during your testimony section about some of the truths that JS revealed would for less oppression and allow for the “gods” to walk among us. You write about how the church can better handle humanitarian aid and ideas to use some of that awesome money they have coming in to help the poor among us. Yet JS did reveal a lot of hurtful and oppressive doctrine in his day. Polygamy is the biggest one for me. I’m a woman and I find the doctrine abhorrent. So yes, I can see the importance of the law of consecration and yet I don’t think he was the first to come up with that. I’m trying to understand what ideas of JS’s are so revolutionary that would actually change the world for you. What specific things? Just trying to get at where you are coming from as a believer. Would JS not like what he sees today because of the corporation model and the lack of humanitarian aid or because polygamy was abandoned and the law of consecration, temple ceremony, garments etc or all of it?

    I wish the church would build schools in Africa and clinics in the Philippines, yet I also wish they would become more egalitarian with regards to women and gays within the church. So where do your beliefs lie in regards to what JS revealed? Do you wish we were still practicing polygamy, living the law of consecration? Agree that it’s good women don’t hold the priesthood because that’s what JS said? So justice for some but not for all???

    Overall, a wonderful and informative look at the church and money and how its doctrines/beliefs have changed over time. So thanks. Don’t mean to be too nosy, but your “testimony” wasn’t really clear and would like to know more if you’re willing.

    • Alicia March 24, 2011 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      You will be truly pleased, no relieved, and satisfied to know what the Lord feels about polygamy, as is so apparent in the Book of Mormon, and how repulsed Joseph Smith was about it, as was Hyrum. You can study all of this out, my husband finally did, and when he came in one day and said “I have finally got my answer (he left the church for twenty years, and had just come back a couple years ago,) he said “Joseph Smith did NOT start polygamy, Brigham Young and some others that truly believed they were suppose to did, and covered it up, put in D&C 132, re wrote journal entries, young girls who lied about it, when others stated EMPHATICALLY through the same journal entries, that Jospeh Smith absolutely was not guilty of practicing something abhorrent enough to hide on the side, and from the Lord, or claim the Lord “told him with an angel that he had to, or die”.

      It is easily dispelled, and if you would really like to get more info, you may contact me who like you am a woman, have never understood it, but accepted it until enough research led me to a true knowledge of the fact of when it was put in, and who and what Joseph Smith really was. It makes the gospel MORE true, the Lord more real, the church and it’s dealing more understandable as we go through a major cleanse within and without.


  28. Michael Nelson May 18, 2010 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    I, too, enjoyed the podcast a great deal. I have a few observations:
    1. I have long thought that the move from a more revolutionary gospel to the current correlated church to me seems like a move from an aggressive, creative and dynamic search for truth, to a focus on the preservation and growth of a corporate institution. This podcast gave me the background knowledge to understand why.
    2. The revelation that the CoJCoLDS ceased to exist as a legal institution in 1886, and now is a trademark of the Corporation of the President of the CoJCoLDS, threw me for a loop. I don’t think it matters in an eternal sense if the organization of the CoJCoLDS is an informal remnant of the original institution, but it is a fascinating idea that I may be a member of a trademark owned by a corporation and guided by a trustee with almost unlimited power over the properties of the corporation. (Turning church buildings into bowling alleys would improve some of them, but maybe groovy communes a-la united order mini communities would bring back some of that 19th century radicalism).
    3. I told my wife that as a legal entity the CoJCoLDS doesn’t really exist. She did not like it, and became frustrated with me mentioning the fact. I suppose that many members have similar reactions to this info.
    Thanks for spending so much time giving a thorough explanation of your knowledge and opinions. But Daymon, when you say over and over again that you are not criticizing, or that you don’t think the church is in a state of apostasy, you plant in my mind the opposite of your words.
    As I write this, I can’t help but believe, through your conditioning me as a listener, that you believe the church is in a state of apostasy, and that you are criticizing it. But I think it is ok for you to believe that. Wo unto those who say all is well in zion. You are following scriptural mandate. Keep up the good work.

  29. campeche May 18, 2010 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    I can’t believe I find myself defending the church because I’m usually so critical of it, but I don’t see the church’s development of downtown Salt Lake as wrong. If they can invest in a project that will bring in more revenue for the church, it makes good business sense. I don’t think it’s a good idea for the church to be totally dependent on member’s tithing and contributions as it’s only means of support. On the flip side, I don’t feel guilty about not giving the church a full 10% of my income, especially if they have revenue from other sources. I give as much as I’m able to give but it’s almost never 10%. I prefer to donate to the perpetual education program and the humanitarian fund.

    Church welfare abuse is real. I know of a bishop in another city who gave one family almost $70,000 last year because: the dad couldn’t find a job, mom won’t work because she’s depressed and needs to be at home with the kids (like the prophet counseled), and they can’t live in a more affordable neighborhood because their kids might have to go to an inferior school etc, etc, . You can bet THAT generated a church audit! (as it should have)

    One case in my area was a middle aged woman who lived alone and had several grown children. For several years, she depended on the church for her rent and food, which came from the bishop’s storehouse. Because she had no income, she paid no tithing. She had a temple recommend and went with the Stake once a month to the then nearest temple about 5 hours away. It was like her little vacation every month. Finally when a new bishop came in, he weaned her off of church welfare. Her reaction was to leave the church and never come back. All the while her grown children did nothing to help her out. They were not members and took the attitude that the Mormon church had relieved them of the burden of taking care of their mother.

    Also, a LOT of the members in my ward and stake are illegal aliens. They can’t turn to the government for assistance (contrary to popular belief) so they often have to turn to the church. I don’t care one way or the other, but I’m sure there are some strong feelings from more conservative members about the church providing assistance to illegals. When a member comes to a bishop for help, the bishop doesn’t ask if they are here legally. This is not the role of the church, but you can see how this can be abused.

    While I expect the church to help the poor, I also expect it to be a good steward over the member’s money. Yes, Jesus taught us to help the poor but the Bible is also teeming with stories about taking good care of the “vineyard” and making it prosper. Being wealthy is not evil, it’s how you use your money that counts. What plans does the church have for the money it generates from these business ventures? I’m hopeful enough to believe that most of it will be used to build a stronger, better church. I agree with the old saying that it’s better to take the ghetto out of the man, than to take the man out of the ghetto. Creating a bigger and better church can be an important step in this direction.

  30. Bill May 19, 2010 at 6:33 am - Reply

    As a young (read that naive) person just starting my working career, I was asked to do some construction work in the Seattle Temple. Not many construction workers have the required temple recommend. I was surprised and disappointed to see that you could tell the importance of the workers in the temple by the quality of their office. The office of the temple president was very swanky, his first counselor, not quite. I remember thinking that things like that should not matter, especially in the House of The Lord. Boy did I have a lot to learn!

  31. daymon May 19, 2010 at 12:20 pm - Reply

    Some replies to questions

    to Anon12:
    I’ll try to give a brief account of my positions. I think Joseph’s doctrine of plural marriage was not just polygamy, which I agree has immense potential for abuse, though it also can be used against the husband. But no more nor less than monogamy can oppress women, and, perhaps, even a man or two. I think JS taught in heaven all are sealed together, all ‘married’ as it were. That sounds pretty egalitarian to me, no less than consecration (which makes these two interdependent). With respect to gays in the church, I can’t seem to find anything from Jesus or JS about that practice/category. Jesus and JS seem far more eager to condemn class division and oppression. RE: women in Mormonism, I think women have as much priesthood as men, which is to say, they (both) have a promise of such. Priests and priestesses are made only after being proved that they won’t abuse their ‘authority’. Hence, back to plural marriage and consecration, which seem to be pretty good systems for preventing abuses of power.

  32. daymon May 19, 2010 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    Michael Nelson,
    thanks for taking the time to reply.
    I don’t believe the church is in apostasy, for two reasons:
    1. I don’t know any theory of apostasy which would allow us to determine that state, so I’m reluctant to turn a guess into a claim of fact. The only working theory is that an apostate people wouldn’t be able to tell they were apostate, which only gives us a possible indicator.
    2. I don’t think there is a ‘church’ which could be in apostasy; we have the image of things, a promise of a church (or a kingdom, or a priesthood). Hence, we are members of trademarks owned by a corporation of one person, but this is a kind of grace. As a test it allows us to reject the fullness of the gospel, while not yet enjoying the bitter fruits of that rejection.

  33. daymon May 19, 2010 at 12:34 pm - Reply

    RE: Abuse of Church Welfare.
    What is it called when we give to someone who doesn’t really deserve the gift? Abuse? Only if we haven’t yet heard of Charity (‘caritas’ or ‘love’ in the Christian sense, that is, the way Christ gives). Welfare can’t really be abused by giving to people who ask; that’s what welfare is. It can only be abused by leaders siphoning funds for their own personal benefit. Folks go to church to ‘get’ various things they lack: friends, ‘the spirit’, ‘blessings’, subordinates, and yes, even money. Why is cashing a check for pay rent any different than showing up to ‘feel the spirit’? Are we not all beggars?

    Is it good to invest the Lord’s Sacred Funds wisely? I’d say yes, but can ‘wisely’ be determined by market-based models that ‘see’ into the future of the global economy? I doubt that, and would point to the failed Church investments in 2008 as evidence. What better way to invest than how the gods seem to invest, which I think is in teaching people, healing them, paying their debtors.

  34. daymon May 19, 2010 at 12:42 pm - Reply

    I think there’s a book out there that describes in great detail how decision are made in the COB ;).
    With respect to the business model, as I explain in the book, the business model doesn’t work because there’s no actual market. Hence, the ‘hand’ which businesses rely on is not only invisible, but ineffable too. It’s closer to a socialist model of production, though it competes against its own for-profit subsidiaries (e.g., Deseret Book) that ride on the cachet of the ‘non-business’ side (e.g., Church). This confusion is at the heart of the COB, and that is why I begin the book with the discussion of the Quad, some of which I recount in the interview.

  35. daymon May 19, 2010 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    thanks for the kind words. I hope you’ll read this in as charitable a light as it was given, that is, as an attempt to teach what I understand.
    I don’t think Joseph would be blown away by the growth of the Church, seeing that he predicted in his lifetime it would fill all of North and South America. I think he’d be disappointed by our stagnant growth, as most of the ‘numbers’ we publish are just that, numbers, and not really representative of actual people who live, believe, and otherwise are shaped by the gospel. For all the PR, the reality is that the LDS Church is declining in membership (especially if we use the standards you mention).

    It’s true that more Mormons live portions of the WoW, though Joseph Smith didn’t. I don’t see folks getting disciplined for immoderation, for consuming foods out of season, or for drinking hot drinks (that’s why I say ‘portions’). And perhaps Mormons give more time now, but I wonder if a strict punch-card accounting of time-given is as relevant as whether our time is devoted to things that matter. The sacrifice is important, of course, but also ineffective here if we’re just attending a meeting because it is scheduled. Joseph seemed to teach that we should give all our time, anything less is cheating god. With respect to praying, we don’t pray in the ways Joseph Smith taught, that is, ways that open the heavens and call down angels (i.e., ‘true order of prayer’). This ‘true order’ depends on consecration, as I understand the Endowment rite. And, finally, tithes. The fact that we pay tithes, while they consecrated, is not something I am proud of. One is explicitly required for exaltation, while the other is explicitly a lesser law. Anyway, that’s how I see things, but I’m open for learning.

  36. Rebecca May 19, 2010 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    Fantastic Podcast! One of the Best I’ve listened to (& I’ve listened to almost all of them)!

    I’m going to have to get his book!

  37. Chris Justice May 19, 2010 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Wow, I’ve only listened to the first two parts of the podcast and I am hooked. I just ordered the book as well as become a monthly subscriber to Mormon stories (should have done it a long time ago). Thanks to all involved. I am going to finish listening and comment soon.

    One quick note… During my disaffection process I keep asking myself – Does the current church model really fit the Kingdom of God that Christ speaks of? For all the early saints went through to establish the “Gospel” here again on the earth – Is the modern corporate church worthy of representing them? Maybe the answer to those is indeed yes, but I have a really hard time accepting it.

    I find the beauty of the early speculative doctrines as the opportunity to be wrong. If one can never be wrong in doctrine than what do we usually speak about? Usually very simplistic things that people have a hard time getting excited about.

    Anyhow… Thanks again.

  38. danko May 19, 2010 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    To Campeche,

    Some reasons to oppose the mall, strictly from an investment standpoint:

    At 3 to 4 billion dollars, it’s simply too expensive. The average price for a mall this size is 250 million. Recently, a New Jersey investor bought 5 similar-sized malls for $500 million total. The tallest building in the world only cost 1.5 billion, the 2009 Yankee Stadium was 1.2 billion. The LDS mall, which will probably end up costing 4 billion is the same price as the Space Station Mir and the longest suspension bridge in the world!

    The average mall this size makes a net profit of $37 million per year (based on a generous 15% ROI). That means that the LDS mall will only take 108 years to pay back the initial investment, if all goes as planned.
    The problem is that things aren’t too good in commercial real estate right now, and the future prospects aren’t very good either. Commercial property values have dropped 40% in the past 2 years, with the largest decline in “Regional Malls” the category in which the LDS mall fits. Economist predict that vacancies will continue to soar and rents will continue to decline until at least 2012. Add to this mix the trend toward online shopping and auction sites, and you have to wonder whether the church even considered the threat of internet competition. Will people still flock to malls in a 100 years from now, when this one finally starts turning a profit? Too bad we won’t be here to find out.

    Besides, high-end retail is not something anybody really needs, especially cash-strapped LDS families with lots of mouths to feed. Plus there are plenty of malls in SLC already, which will require the church to set rents at a level comparable to other less expensive shopping centers.

  39. John Dehlin May 19, 2010 at 9:18 pm - Reply


    Ouch. :)

  40. daymon May 19, 2010 at 10:10 pm - Reply

    Did you send that to Bishop Burton?
    I’ve never really seen any financial justification for the project, and that is the first I’ve seen against the Mall. Maybe they are planning on both a massive suspension bridge to the spacestation, with a Yankees stadium thrown in for good measure.

  41. danko May 20, 2010 at 10:36 am - Reply


    I haven’t sent this to Bishop Burton yet. Maybe he’d send a balance sheet in response :)
    My guess is that the “buffer zone” is a bigger reason for revitalization than the actual return on investment.
    Nobody wants to be across the street from Savers and Payless Shoes. It’s a fact that plastic shoes smell worse than leather, and Savers won’t give missionaries the 10% discount that the new Mr. Mac has promised.

    Maybe the next time the church has 4 billion dollars to spare, it will ask its members what they’d like to spend it on. I’m voting for free LDS Mall coupon books, since I can’t afford to shop there otherwise. I can’t wait to hear those talks of yesteryear when members were encouraged to only patronize “godly” establishments.
    General conference will end with these remarks: “As you return home from this marvelous event, be sure to obey all traffic laws, to use caution and to travel with care, and to prayerfully consider what has been taught to us this day. And if you feel so inclined, please stop by the new shopping center to enjoy food, beverage, and a wide variety of high-end consumer products. Mention the word “conference” and receive an additional 10% discount at participating stores.

  42. aj May 20, 2010 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    I think they did already say something very similar in a general conference. (im guessing you know that)

    When I think of a hundred years what kind of religion will we be telling? remember children about The grate mall . I remember in church, admiring all the members who broke there good china to put on the temple so it sparkled. It always gets to me that these people loved there god this much. But now or in a hundred years what god do we love what god are we telling our g-grand children we love?

  43. Travis May 20, 2010 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    I listened to all the podcasts. They rocked my world (in a good way). Thanks so much taking the (long amount of) time to put it together!

  44. Anon Brit May 21, 2010 at 7:58 am - Reply


    In the first part of the podcast you mentioned a prophecy about there being 12 million members by 2000. I was hoping to hear you come back to that. It seemed from your tone of voice that there may be something of a story there and I was hoping to hear about it.

    I enjoyed the interview very much, but it also made me feel very sad. I always thought I was 100% mormon. The more I hear, the more I realise that those of us who live abroad, and perhaps those of us who live outside Utah too, are funding industry, jobs, corporate perks etc in Utah. How does the mall benefit someone like me? Answer: it doesn’t.

  45. Odell May 21, 2010 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Great podcast! I really appreciated the insightful explanation of the evolution of both sides of the LDS church. I am no longer of member of the church (or tradename!). I found myself feeling sad of the many devout members who give all and who are really seen as little more than voluntary slave labor working to minimize operating expenses for the church to grow its holdings. It seems to me that the LDS church has become drunk on making income to the extent that it has forgotten about its members and the role it could play in bettering the world.

    I thought this was an excellent presentation. Congratulations on a job well done.

  46. dblagent007 May 21, 2010 at 2:26 pm - Reply

    Welfare abuse happens a LOT. Many people get very comfortable having the Bishop pay for all their needs in perpetuity. It is easy to fall into the trap of just saying “well, we are helping people so there is really nothing wrong.” Welfare funds should be used just as wisely as any other funds and should not be subject to abuse by those that are lazy or seek to maintain an elaborate life style on the back of someone else.

    I know of one stake where they do it right. First, they recognize that Bishops are not professional financial counselors. They have two or three people in the stake that are trained, professional financial counselors called as stake financial counselors. Whenever someone asks the Bishop for assistance or whenever the Bishop puts someone on assistance, the people receiving assistance have to first meet with one of the stake financial counselors. They sit down and figure out what needs to be done to maintain basic subsistence (the cable TV, kids cell phones, etc. are the first things to go). Part of the idea is that there must be some sacrifice on their part to motivate them to get off Church welfare. They then figure out an exit plan to get the person off Church assistance as soon as possible. The counselor puts together a report to the Bishop that explains the person’s financial condition, the amount of assistance needed, and the exit plan. The Bishops can do what they want, but usually follow the plan. Most of these wards are flush with welfare money and everyone’s NEEDS are being taken care of nicely. There are a few people in each ward that are chronic welfare users (usually older widows, etc.), but they are very much the exception.

    I don’t have a huge problem with the Church’s mall. The Church made the decision that it wanted to control development in downtown SL and they need to be responsible for that decision. They are probably spending too much, but I think many real estate developers did the same thing back in the heady days of the boom. The Church can’t just default or quit because it cares much more about its public image than developers that are only in it for the money (and thus defaulted and let the banks take the hit). Of course, it would have been nice if someone at the top would have “foreseen” this boondoggle, but not much is “revealed” to them these days so why should this be different?

  47. Wes Cauthers May 21, 2010 at 11:30 pm - Reply


    In part 1, you mentioned how Mormon leaders would try and justify their lying by pointing out that God told Abraham to lie when he said his wife was his sister. I have no doubt this happened, but the problem is that the passage in the Bible (Genesis 20:2) says that Abraham does this on his own. God has no part of it. Mormons similarly have tried to justify polygamy in the same way by pointing to instances in the Bible where it is practiced.

    I have read the Bible several times in different versions and nowhere do I see it commanded. God makes it pretty clear that his intent was for monogamy (Genesis 2:24) and actually polygamy makes its first appearance in the Bible when Cain’s descendant Lamech marries two women (Genesis 4:19). I think that is beyond ironic in light of Mormon teachings on the descendants of Cain. The next instance we see is the story of Abram and Sarai which also has major significance in Mormonism.

    In Genesis 16:2-3 it says that Sarai

    “said to Abram, “The LORD has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her. Abram agreed to what Sarai said. So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife.”

    This is quite different from what it says in D&C 132:34 –

    “God acommanded Abraham, and Sarah gave Hagar to Abraham to wife. And why did she do it? Because this was the law; and from Hagar sprang many people. This, therefore, was fulfilling, among other things, the promises.”

    Not only is the Mormon version in direct contradiction to Genesis, but the implications also go much further. God specifically establishes his covenant through Isaac (the name means he laughs because Abraham and Sarah initially laugh at the idea that they will have a child in their 90’s), the child “born as the result of promise [as opposed to the child] born in the oridnary way” (Galations 4:22). The point is that Abram and Sarai acted independently of God when they decided that it was a good idea to practice polygamy. They lacked faith and tried to make God’s promise happen on their own because they thought it would be impossible to conceive together at their age. It is also interesting to note that it was common practice in that culture for the husband of a barren wife to sleep with their maidservant to conceive. Thus, the verse in D&C has absolutely no relationship whatsoever to a Biblical understanding of God’s promise which is highly problematic in profound ways.

    While there are clearly other instances of polygamy in the Bible, they are never commanded by God. The Bible talks about many things that were common to the people/culture of the ancient near east. This does not mean God necessarily thinks those things were a good idea. We do have numerous instances in the Bible where polygamy is spoken against (Deuteronomy 17:17, 1 Timothy 3:2, 12 and Titus 1:6).

    • Truth Prevails February 13, 2011 at 10:24 pm - Reply

      The church is in apostacy and needs the One Mighty and Strong to “restore much” (D&C 85:7, 2 Nephi 3:24) to get us BACK to the original purity of the church before polygamy and masonry infiltrated, where women held the priesthood and the Book of Mormon was unaltered which changed the identity of God. Your post in defending the very clear words of God that polygamy is an abomination is exactly true! Thanks you very, very much.

      Polygamy has NEVER been of God no matter who follows it whether King David, Solomon, Abraham, Joseph Smith, or Brigham Young. Polygamy is a suppression to women and caused depression. Women who were spiritually forced to live it or “else be damned” hated polygamy as evident in this lecture by Jedidiah Grant and reiterated by Brigham Young:

      Apostle J. M. Grant on September 21, 1856 in a church sermon called for personal blood atonement and rebuked wives for complaining about polygamy. “I would ask how many covenant breakers there are in this city and in this kingdom. I believe that there are a great many and if they are covenant breakers we need a place designated, where we can shed their blood… And we have women here who like anything but the celestial law of God; and if they could break asunder the cable of the Church of Christ, there is scarcely a mother in Israel but would do it this day. And they talk it to their husbands, to their daughters, and to their neighbors, and say they have not seen a week’s happiness since they became acquainted with that law [plural marriage], or since their husbands took a second wife. …Journal of Discourses, vol.4, pp.49-51).[6]

      The rest of this post is taken from Ann Eliza Young’s words from her 1876 (free e-book) book “The 19th Wife” come forth from the dust to expose the truth of the horrors of polygamy and masonry (satanic blood oath see Moses 5:29).

      Historically six of Brigham Young’s fifty-five wives were still married to other living husbands, while six other wives were separated or divorced from their husbands. Twenty-one wives had never been married and sixteen were widows. No marital information is available for six other wives. Ten of these wives divorced Brigham Young. For historical preservation and clarification regarding the wives’ ages and that the majority (62%) of Brigham’s wives were young; their ages at the time of marriage have been broken down: Thirty four ranged from the ages of sixteen (three of them) to twenty-nine, nine ranged from the ages of thirty to forty-four, five from the ages of forty-eight to fifty-nine, and seven wives ranged from the ages of sixty-two to seventy.[7]

      Why did Ann Eliza Young write in 1876 a witnessed account of her life as a polygamous wife? She testified that she had “a desire to impress upon the world what Mormonism really is; to show the pitiable condition of its women, held in a system of bondage that is more cruel than African slavery ever was, since it claims to hold body and soul alike…” She also stated “I intend to give a truthful picture of Mormon life…”. A very important point that Young asserts is that the Mormon Church in the beginning, had a beautiful simplicity built upon good principles and the people felt the Spirit of God in their lives. They were happy and enthusiastic. This was before polygamy and Masonry were introduced.[8]

      Award-winning LDS historian, D. Michael Quinn presents evidence to confirm the writings of Ann Eliza Young with a historical account that Joseph Smith repented of polygamy and masonry:
      Michael Quinn’s historical research into the early years of the church found that Joseph Smith repented of polygamy weeks prior to his assassination by burning the original polygamy manuscript with his first wife Emma and telling the Quorum to burn their Masonic temple garments and to stop practicing polygamy. June 10, 1844: “Hyrum (Joseph’s brother) tells Nauvoo City Council that the 1843 revelation pertains to ancient polygamy, not to modern times…” June 20, 1844: “Smith writes the apostles to return to Nauvoo immediately and probably on this occasion, instructs them to destroy their endowment undergarments.” June 23, 1844: “…Joseph and Emma Smith burn the original manuscript of the 1843 polygamy revelation, presumably on this evening…” (Quinn, pg 645 ¶ 6, ¶ 12, pg 646 ¶ 1).

  48. Matthew May 23, 2010 at 9:59 am - Reply

    Daymon I want to thank you for doing this important work. This is more than just worthy research, it is new paradigm for understanding the modern church. I am from your generation and think of myself as being very sophisticated and well read as to Mormon studies, but I have to say that this interview is a watershed for me. Correlation is just not something that is well understood, and early 20th century church history certainly is not either. What you have said here has unified a great deal of what I already knew. Anyway, I hope not to embarrass you by too effusive with my praise but I have though ever since I became interested in Mormon studies (maybe ten years ago) that the conditions were ripe for our generation to produce some phenomenal scholarship. You are one of the finest examples of this, congratulations.

  49. Matthew May 23, 2010 at 10:06 am - Reply

    By the way, I imagine someone at FAIR is scrambling to respond to this even as we speak. One way to gauge the importance of what has been said here will be to watch the vehemence of the response from the apologists. Get ready to have your motives questioned.

  50. […] of correlation’s control over what is Mormon doctrine — check out Daymon Smith’s fascinating four-part podcast on “Post-Manifesto Polygamy, Correlation, the Corporate LDS Church, and Mammon”. And, […]

  51. daymon May 23, 2010 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    thank you for the compliments, and for the FAIR warning.
    Thus far the response has been…silence.
    As long as what I’ve written remains confined to a blog post here and there, all in quasi-orthodox venues, I think it will be dismissed. This is what Correlation (as a model) predicts, anyway, and that only when FAIR-like folks imagine non-Mormons reading something do they rally the defenses. It’s a matter of Public image, and guarding an awareness of such that they are defending, I think. Mormon apologetics is really just PR, from what I’ve seen, delivered to the public who already believes a certain version of history. A kind of ritual theater.
    Hardly anyone wants to take on what I’ve written about (the way I write is surely to blame, in part), and Mormon blogs, even the ‘liberal’ or ‘fringe’ ones too have bestowed an abundance of silence. Mormonstories really took a risk with this interview, for which I am very grateful.

  52. Matt May 24, 2010 at 10:30 am - Reply


    I don’t have any profound comments. At this point I simply want to thank you all for another absolutely fascinating podcast. I know I speak for many others when I say that I deeply appreciate your work, your writing, and your thought — and that applies to all three of you. Please keep it up.

  53. daymon May 24, 2010 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    I have here a quote from your post:
    ‘Many people get very comfortable having the Bishop pay for all their needs in perpetuity. It is easy to fall into the trap of just saying “well, we are helping people so there is really nothing wrong.” Welfare funds should be used just as wisely as any other funds and should not be subject to abuse by those that are lazy or seek to maintain an elaborate life style on the back of someone else.’ And ask, if we change ‘bishop’ to ‘Mormons’ does this claim apply only to persons, or also to corporations?

    As I document in the book, money given freely is not so stridently accounted for as those stake councilors require of the needy in their midst. Cell phones? How about hundreds of millions of dollars on fancy new computers (tossed into Surplus the next year)? Perhaps if the COB didn’t engage in the sort of massive profligacy that I document, I would take the spartan demands made of the poor as something other than an attempt to free up capital to invest with mortgage-backed securities.

    People speak of abuse of welfare, and yet cannot seem to imagine that vastly greater amounts of money disappear at the COB. Where is the complains of ‘elaborate’ lifestyles being maintained on the backs of donated dollars (and Pounds, and Pesos…) I cannot see how a bishop could ask a widow to formulate a welfare exit-strategy all while sitting in a multi-million dollar ediface, behind an expensive corporate desk, while sending fast offerings and tithes to supplement the efforts of an organization which is throwing billions into a retail ‘development’. It is apparently easier to question a fellow child of god rather than an imagined construct of modern man, and this is what I find absolutely fascinating about us.

  54. daymon May 24, 2010 at 3:22 pm - Reply

    RE: Polygamy in the Bible (response to Wes Cauthers)
    I’m not sure what the dispute is about polygamy. I’m simply reporting history as I read it.

    I can’t claim to have read so many bibles, nor to have an edition apparently written by God that gives an unedited transcript of the goings on some time ago. And I’m sure I don’t have the gumption to say Abraham lacked faith. He seemed to be on pretty good terms with God, but that’s only what my bible says.

    In any case, I don’t have much interest in debating the bibical foundations of polygamy. If bible-god intended monogamy, by god he (or she?) should’ve made that intention clear, say, by having Jesus take a single bride as his wife. Could Mark et. al. have forgotten to report such an event? If bible-God was so inclined toward monogamy, why then were Adam and Eve evicted from the garden for following that law? (These are just rhetorical questions, of course.)

  55. Wes Cauthers May 24, 2010 at 4:10 pm - Reply


    With regard to polygamy, I was just showing another example where things recorded in the Bible are incorrectly cited in an attempt to justify and give legitimacy to certain acts. Whether it’s claiming God told Abraham to lie when that is not what the Bibe says, or whether it’s claiming God commanded polygamy when that too is not what the Bible says, both instances are inaccurate accounts of the text.

  56. daymon May 24, 2010 at 4:47 pm - Reply

    I agree with your reading of certain bibles. I guess I don’t see why one would point out that 19th C. Mormons were not biblically grounded (in some readings of the bible), given that they said the contradictory readings of the sacred book were the reason they followed a new prophet, new revelation, etc.

  57. Wes Cauthers May 24, 2010 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    I have yet to see any version of the Bible where God commands anyone to lie or practice polygamy, so I’m not aware of what contradictory readings they are referring to.

  58. M. Cooper May 25, 2010 at 9:33 am - Reply

    That was one of the most interesting interviews yet – the last one especially.

  59. Trevor May 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    It appears that the downloads are mislabeled. Parts 4 and 2 are switched, so to listen in order, you have to do part 1, part 4, part 3, part 2.

  60. Richard Allen May 25, 2010 at 8:00 pm - Reply

    @Trevor – I checked the downloads and they appear to be correct. How did you come to the conclusion that the downloads are mislabeled?

  61. Trevor May 26, 2010 at 1:26 pm - Reply

    The filenames are correct, but the tags on the mp3 files that contain the information that displays when they are played is wrong on parts 2 and 4.

  62. Kevin Hill May 27, 2010 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    Enjoyed the interview. Now I need to get the book. Though some of what was discussed is troubling. The Church seems more like big business than I ever considered. Can I give my tithing to the humanitarian fund please?

  63. Jason Bourne May 27, 2010 at 8:14 pm - Reply

    Enjoyed the interview. Now I need to get the book. Though some of what was discussed is troubling. The Church seems more like big business than I ever considered. Can I give my tithing to the humanitarian fund please?

  64. Rhiannon May 28, 2010 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    This had been a favorite listen. I’m on time number three. Thank you for taking the time.

  65. dblagent007 May 28, 2010 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Currently the Church wastes a lot of money on welfare and everything else. Does that make either one okay? I don’t think so. I don’t excuse the Church in either area.

    As for the mall (actually the mall is only part of it, they are building a lot more than that), I think they made a mistake. However, like it or not, they chose to own every square inch of ground around temple square so they have to do something besides let downtown SLC descend into squalor. If you are taking the position that they should not have spent any money on bettering that area, then I disagree with you. If you are only saying that they are mismanaging it, then I agree with you on that. They probably could have accomplished their goals for much less money.

    By the way, you mischaracterized what I said. The stake that handles welfare right has widows on the rolls for indefinite periods of time. But they do make families led by healthy men formulate welfare exit strategies. They don’t get to sit back and live the easy life.

  66. Sag May 29, 2010 at 8:24 am - Reply

    The first two episodes were amazing- not as impressed with the last two. I think it was less objective than the discussion on correlation. I think we can be overly critical at the legal organization of the church based on our cultural filter. I feel the discussion on the church as a “business” was not anthropological but a critical commentary based on your own world view.

    Danko, your summary of the mall project was overstated. The mall itself was just a portion of the project. The project also included six high rise towers for both commercial office space and residential living; not to mention the infrastructure improvements and the parking necessary to support such a massive project. Your monetary figures are grossly exaggerated for the cost; as one who has some knowledge of the design of the project you haven’t come close. Again, it seems this is the kind of fodder that feeds the frenzy rather than to enlighten. I take the position that seeing the decline of the downtown and it’s possible affect on temple square as an opportunity for strengthening downtown and Salt Lake City.

    Are we really trying to understand or just criticize because it doesn’t fit your definition of what the church should and shouldn’t do.

  67. Swearing Elder May 30, 2010 at 8:04 am - Reply

    There were some surprises in this interview — some small nuggets that helped me fill out my picture of how the Corporation of the President (what many refer to as the LDS Church) operates.

    What surprised me most was Daymon’s testimony. I assumed (wrongly) that he was not a believer.

  68. daymon May 30, 2010 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    I don’t think I was critical of the church because it is a “business”. I am curious about what my ‘worldview’ might be, familiar as I am with the very good reasons for jettisoning the term and its baggage several decades back, in anthropology, anyway. Of course, I did speak from my perspective, which I don’t think is in itself a criticism. I do have some reasons for making the claims I make, and they aren’t just reducable to “worldview” or “opinion”.

    Build a mall, don’t build a mall, whatever. I only voiced my doubts about how this fits with my understanding of Mormonism (anthropologically and ‘natively’).

  69. Ron Carter May 30, 2010 at 11:58 pm - Reply

    I started wondering if Daymon was a disgruntled employee at Church headquarters, since he seemed to depart from scholarship and opted for unsubstantiated innuendo. He left me satisfied at the end. I agree that adopting business norms in an organization (the LDS church) founded and run based on social norms can be distracting and even destructive.

    I still think that the church should announce that we are suspending all missionary activities for a period of time (1 year) while we address poverty and human suffering. That would do more good for the “brand” than anything else. That’s how Jesus started his ministry and it worked pretty good for him.

  70. aj May 31, 2010 at 8:26 am - Reply

    Sag you are in a very brief description and a very brief understanding, criticizing daymon is this not what you are saying he’s doing to the church? Although he actually went into the work space and studied what was going on. Not leaving a nasty comment about someone on a whim of what you heard. And it seams to me having read his book, and listened to his interviews that if he was to talk in anthropological way I would not understand, so simplifying it for non academic people is helpful thank you daymon for the hard work of studying.

  71. daymon May 31, 2010 at 11:05 am - Reply

    Ron Carter,
    please advise me re: scholarship and unsubstantiated innuendo, as I’ve only written a doctoral dissertation and published a lengthy volume which documents what I describe. You have apparently listened to some of a podcast interview. Now feel free to read what I’ve written, and get back to me with your counsel.

    I was never, to my knowledge, gruntled as an employee, and thus cannot see how I am currently in a state of disgruntlement. Did I sound disgruntled? Was I pleased with how things ‘worked’ there? Obviously not, for reasons I give in the book. Of course, that I may or may not be a disgruntled employee entirely answers every argument I make, and clearly proves the contrary case, whatever that may be. Only gruntled persons can make true statements, for sure.

  72. daymon May 31, 2010 at 11:20 am - Reply

    Please feel free to provide all the details you suggest make the project one of ‘strengthening the downtown’, with which you are familiar. That’s a fancy slogan, to be sure, but what does it really mean? “Strengthening” is the command metaphor in the church, and it means…what? I suspect it, like so much ecclesiasticapitalistic blather that gets passed as faithful information, means something like, “you don’t know enough to question my plans, so just get in line and keep marching.” So inform us, please, how downtown strengthenings are sure to follow an unaccounted for multi-billion dollar retail development. I’d love to learn.
    Also, there is such certainty that the downtown would utter fail, become a desolation of abomination, were it not for the mall. No doubt you have figures, or revelations, that could establish this speculation on more sure footing.

    I can see strengthening the buildings, or the construction workers, but cannot see how a downtown is ‘strengthened’, or to use common English, is somehow ‘Stronger’, by this project. Did you not hear that Mormons are starving? Or is that a secondary matter to the erection of luxury highrise condos atop a high-end mall? Or is the grand plan to house all those Latin Mormons in the condos? Sag, how does one so close to the project square this circle so easily?

  73. Ron Carter June 1, 2010 at 2:32 am - Reply

    I owe you a read of your book or dissertation (is it available?). My apologies for the use of a poorly selected word “disgruntled”. I was only responding to your language where you seemed to communicate dissatisfaction with your experience “behind the curtain” at church HQ.

  74. daymon June 1, 2010 at 10:09 am - Reply

    No problem, I am sorry I reacted rather prickly. There’s such a loss in communication when we don’t have the voice to attend to the words. I actually made a few jokes about being ‘gruntled’ in the book, as I was expecting the term to be thrown at me. The links to both volumes can be found on the first page of the interview on Mormonstories.

  75. Kari June 3, 2010 at 12:35 pm - Reply


    Where can one download a copy of your dissertation?

  76. daymon June 3, 2010 at 11:27 pm - Reply

    The dissertation is available for purchase at the link provided (at on Amazon).
    (If the price is prohibitive, I can send a PDF to you, but it won’t be bound, of course.)

  77. […] anthropologist Daymon Smith has done some fascinating research on the history of correlation in the CoJCoL-dS and has written an entertaining and informative book about working at the Church […]

  78. Kari June 4, 2010 at 9:22 am - Reply

    Thanks Daymon, completely missed the link originally.

  79. […] with hopes of reading it more in depth as I make time to do so.  I have listened to his 4-part interview on Mormon Stories, read an interview he had with Main Street Plaza and finished reading his 9-part interview over at […]

  80. Tom Grover June 6, 2010 at 10:47 pm - Reply

    I want to correct something that was said in the podcast. Mr. Smith said something to the effect that most Churches are just regular nonprofit corporations. This is partially true.

    Nonprofits in most states are governed by the Revised Model Nonprofit Corporation Act. Most Churches are what is known as a “religious benefit corporation.”

    Mr. Smith also claimed that if you belonged to a Church that was a normal nonprofit that you would have rights similar to a shareholder in IBM stock. This is not accurate. Religious benefit corporations are subject to much less scrutiny and accountability by both the government, members and private citizens than a traditional for-profit corporation or a secular nonprofit corporation.

    Furthermore, just because a person attends a Church that is a religious benefit corporation under the Revised Act, does not mean that they are a member for legal purposes. Indeed, a religious benefit corporation may not have any members at all for legal purposes. (Section 6.03).

    Even if a religious benefit corporation does have members, those members do not have the same rights as a stockholder of IBM or a member of a secular (mutual benefit or public benefit) corporation. Where a member of a public benefit or mutual benefit corporation has the right to inspect records of the corporation, the member of a religious benefit corporation does not necessarily have that right. Section 7.20(f).

    There are other substantial rights that members of a religious corporation don’t have that other members of nonprofits do have, but it’s getting late. If you want to read all of them, go through the Revised Model Nonprofit Corporation Act listed above.

    I guess my point in saying this is that I think Mr. Smith has overstated the differences between a regular nonprofit religious corporation and a Corporate Sole as far as the rights (or lack of rights) of members are concerned. Because a religious benefit nonprofit corporation doesn’t even have to have members and because even if it does have members, the rights of those members can be so restricted, there is not a signficant difference from the members perspective.

    Also, the Corporate Sole is a function of English common law. Therefore, the State of Utah did not have to recognize it by statute for it to exist as a legal option for incorporation.

    How do I know all this? (1) I am a dork. (2) I have spent the last year and change doing nonprofit law as a clerk.

  81. Tom Grover June 6, 2010 at 10:48 pm - Reply

    “Indeed, a religious benefit corporation may not have any members at all for legal purposes. (Section 6.03).”

    Poorly written. That should say “Indeed, a religious benefit corporation is not required to have any members at all for legal purposes. (Section 6.03).”

    Forgive my lack of clarity.

  82. Tom Grover June 6, 2010 at 10:53 pm - Reply

    Now, that aside, great podcast! Very well done Daymon Smith! I enjoyed this very much.

  83. daymon June 7, 2010 at 10:02 am - Reply

    Thanks for carefully pointing out the differences between the many different kinds of organizations a ‘church’ might legally take. I gladly defer to your expertise, acquired by right of dork or clerkship. The absolute limit of the non-profits that you describe, with respect to lack of shareholder rights or need to have ‘members’ only approaches the Corporation Sole form. In other words, strip down a non-profit or religious association and you come close to identity with a Sole (leaving aside tax, accountability, and other considerations). Thus I am going to have to insist that real differences exist between Sole and other forms of incorporation that a church might take, so much so that other states no longer allow for Sole incorporation, while allowing the other forms (I’m not sure of the current status in Utah). The analogy might be like saying because you’ve piled in all your friends into a VW, painted the windows black, and charged them an arm and a leg for the ride, that there’s really no difference between VWs and a very stripped down limo, so there’s really no difference between VWs and Rolls Royce limos. The error, I think, comes in generalizing from the legal category to wash away particular distinctions which make the LDS Corp Sole rather unique with respect to other protestant and post-protestant churches. I am glad you pointed out that not all churches would be have membership rights in a manner IBM might, however. That example merely tried to provide other absolute limit of rights and membership that a church could take, and which the early church seems more closely to approximate.
    While you point out the legal similarities between Sole and other ‘aggregate’ corporate organizations, the differences are also significant, and not simply from a legal perspective. As a cultural anthropologist my concern is with the cultural forms that develop from the legal one, as well as the metaphysics that emerge from one or the other. One more thing: I don’t see why English Common Law, though obviously important to American law, would oblige the state of Utah to recognize an English corporate form (and which most states no longer recognize). And I’m glad you enjoyed the podcast, of course.

  84. Tom June 9, 2010 at 12:49 am - Reply


    First off, loved the podcast and am loving The Book of Mammon. In fact, I find myself chuckling at more than a few of the insanities (at least in my estimation) I see come through the events you discuss and write about. Of course, the work is *fiction*, but that makes it all the more enjoyable. I have a good friend who never hesitates to bring out the “we’re under condemnation” quote from ETB every chance he gets, and specifically states how that “condemnation” has yet to be removed. As such, your discussion in the Book brought a smile or two to my face.

    Secondly, while I understand your focus on the cultural aspects of what’s happening, I unfortunately haven’t yet come across the metaphysical aspects you mentioned that “emerge” from the correlation process. Is there somewhere you can point me to where you’ve discussed these aspects of the changes? Or, perhaps you’d be willing to discuss it briefly here. That’s the particular discussion, ultimately, that I’m interested in.

    Lastly, I don’t want to step on Daemon’s [sic] toes, but there’s a link to the dissertation over at BCC.

  85. daymon June 9, 2010 at 10:07 am - Reply

    Thanks again for reading the book, I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it so far. Though in my earlier post I was referring to the metaphysics of ‘incorporation’, it’s probably more interesting to work through Correlation. I’ve not really made explicit the metaphysics of Correlation in any published work, though I did have David McKay voice his concerns (which ultimately are mine as well) in the dissertation. And the discussion in Mammon about the Book of Mormon’s take on history, and our relationship to it, also alludes to the problems/results of Correlation (an ahistorical view, which is to say, a veiling of history by way of ‘topic’). But since you asked, I’ll make it explicit: Correlation instituted an old notion of authority as inherent to ‘the priesthood’, where rather than serve, primarily, a man of the priesthood would be dictating orders (to the ‘order’, as it were). Like a king. Now it is said that the ‘keys’ are really just authority over some group. This ‘authority’ would ensure ‘perfection,’ the descent of Enoch, etc. and etc. (This discussion of changes in the meaning of “order” and “priesthood” comes from the final chapter of my dissertation, by the way.) This absolute hierarchy defines how one sort of deity operates, who is said to have a priesthood and powers and thrones that serves him; whatever his name, we now regularly call this deity God. What do I see as the alternative? Does the structure of authority have anything to do with the ‘power’ exercised? I would point to D&C 121, like McKay did. The discussion b/t Joseph and the Lord would seem to indicate that even gods (as kings and/or priests) can’t intervene unless certain conditions are met (hence, the reference to Job, i.e., the wager b/t Lucifer and God). Didn’t Joseph Smith institute the principle that only the president of the church has the authority to receive revelations for the entire church? Sort of. It was instituted ‘by common consent’, and that case is a difficult one (b/c it refers to Joseph Smith, not necessarily to the ‘office’, no matter the person holding it; and Smith was said alone to possess the keys to the kingdom to seal, and so on, for eternity, another difficult problem not simply resolved by saying he passed them on to Brigham Young, but that’s another story for another day). Anyway, I’d love to continue this discussion, if anyone else is interested as well.

  86. Ed June 10, 2010 at 2:07 pm - Reply


    While recently reading the transcript of Joseph F. Smith’s testimony at the Reed Smoot Congressional hearings in 1904, which can be accessed here:, (testimony starts at Volume 1, page 80), I learned that Joseph F. Smith was, in addition to being President of the Church, the president of dozens of businesses by virtue of his being President of the Church.

    My question is: Do we know whether the President of the Church today (Monson) is likewise a director, executive, officer, etc. of dozens of business interests by virtue of his being President of the LDS Church?

    What I’m getting at is: we’re often told that the General Authorities are not financially benefited by their being General Authorities, some going so far as to suggest they lose money by accepting callings as GAs. However, it seems to me that someone like Joseph F. Smith, being the president of dozens of businesses by virtue of being President of the Church, would have received some financial benefit from that fact. Likewise, it would seem the current President of the Church, also serving as a director, executive, officer, etc. of dozens of businesses, would likewise receive some financial compensation for that.

    If this is so (and there are indications that it is so), it seems very disingenuous for folks to assert that the President of the Church gets only a meager living allowance for his Church service (around 90k per year, not including car allowance, subsidized meals, subsidized residence), when in reality he is getting significant additional financial compensation for his service as a director, executive, officer, etc. for dozens of businesses owned by the LDS Church/Corporation– which is a status he acquires by virtue of being the President of the LDS Church/Corporation that owns those businesses.

    To use a hypothetical, let’s say I’m the President of Parent Corp., and Parent Corp. owns dozens of subsidiary corporations that run dozens of businesses. Let’s say Parent Corp. compensates me with what it calls a “living allowance” of a mere 90k a year. But let’s say as President of Parent Corp., I also get to enjoy the status of being a director, executive, officer, etc. of these dozens of subsidiary corporations, each of which pays me additional compensation for my service to that susidiary/business. In that situation, even though I might be receiving a meager living allowance of a mere $90k from Parent Corp., I could be receiving total compensation in the hundreds of thousands of dollars due to my service with the dozens of subsidiary corporations owned by Parent Corp.

    In that scenario, it might be TECHNICALLY accurate to say that as President of Parent Corp. I receive a meager living allowance of 90k per year. But that would be extremely disingenuous because it would omit the fact that, as President of Parent Corp., I am also a director, executive, officer, etc. of dozens of businesses owned by Parent Corp. each of which give me additional financial compensation, possibly totaling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.

    Is there any indication that is going on with the President of the LDS Church/Corporation?

  87. daymon June 12, 2010 at 10:37 am - Reply

    I don’t know for certain about particular GAs, but I do recall that under Hinckley they changed the policy to a more restrictive one, whereas before GAs could and were on the boards of directors (see my note in Mammon, borrowed from Quinn’s work). Then not long after Hinckley passed I read a story on an Idaho newsite that said the Corp had again relaxed its policy toward GAs on boards, ostensibly to give ecclesiastical leadership to these corporations. Of course, the only ‘lay’ leaders we have are bishops and stake presidents; the others are paid, even a ‘small living stipend’ is pay, and thus, a soft priestcraft. Contrast this current state with Lehi, Nephi, et. al. from the Book of Mormon, who all worked non-church jobs rather than live off the tithes / taxes of the people.

  88. TheFaithfulDissident June 14, 2010 at 5:17 am - Reply

    Daymon and Andrew, thanks for an interesting series of podcasts. Those of us who live overseas tend to be quite disconnected from news such as malls and other business enterprises where the Church is concerned. Up until about a couple of years ago, I naively assumed that the Church didn’t own much more than a few bookstores and buildings. When I found out about the hunting preserves, it was a huge jagged pill for me to swallow. I still haven’t swallowed that pill, and I’m still disgusted not just by the practice itself, but perhaps even more so by the secrecy and inaccessibility surrounding what amounts to a lucrative business for the Church, catering to the rich who want to spend the weekend trophy hunting — and initially, even the canned hunting of animals tended to by “missionaries.”

    Daymon, I share your views concerning how the Church’s wealth is being spent (or not spent) and am also very troubled by what seems to amount to a lot less humanitarian work than we’re capable of. I’m sure it’s not without risk that you have been willing to voice your opinion on these matters and have shared many details about Church operations with us. So I wonder, do you expect to be disciplined for your work? How will you handle it if you are?

  89. daymon June 15, 2010 at 10:29 am - Reply

    thanks for listening to the series. I don’t expect to be disciplined, for various reasons. But if my expectations prove wide of the mark, I don’t see why I wouldn’t continue to attend the church near my home. It’s not like I’m a member of anything right now (this is something I get into, with much more depth, in the book), so I cannot really be dismembered. This is also something I spoke about briefly on the blog interview recently published. But I would be saddened by any action, to be sure.

  90. Dave June 21, 2010 at 1:25 am - Reply

    Thanks for this fascinating Mormon Story! John Dehlin and co keeps me going in the church.
    Dayman spoke of his appreciation for the prophet Joseph. I share that appreciation even though I have some doubts about the nature of his calling. I still think he was brilliant. I can live with the church such as it is. My problem is church attendance on a Sunday. Correllated boredom and unchallenged neanderthalic, thoughtless ideas drive me up the wall.
    Can’t wait to read the book.

  91. Gordon June 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    I disagree with the church simply up SLC when there are thousandfs living in poverty in Sao Paulo and Soweto, which are near to temples. The South African temple area is grand to say the least, yet within a ten minute drive there are people in squalor. The Area president lives in a manicured mansion, yet just down the road a man begs for food. I wonder where Jesus would have lived.
    The Corporation is simply that: an American big business run on the ‘money-is-all-that-matters’ ideal of American capitalism.

  92. Gordon June 27, 2010 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    Oop: should read “buying up SLC”. Sorry

  93. John June 29, 2010 at 2:14 pm - Reply


    Where can we buy your book? It’s currently listed as “unavailable” on It’s been referred to me a couple of times and I finally went to buy it, only now I can’t seem to locate it.



  94. daymon July 3, 2010 at 11:46 am - Reply

    The book should be on Amazon. Please check again, and enjoy!

  95. campeche July 8, 2010 at 2:08 pm - Reply

    @ danko on May 19, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    You were right……. : (

  96. […] Compounding this is the fact that the theological program of the Church in the twentieth and twenty-first century has been governed by correlation, a very sensible and practical effort to render from a very unsystematic and sometimes highly speculative century’s worth of theology a coherent system of doctrines that can be taught effectively to new members of the Church around the globe.  (For a great overview of the correlation project and its tolls on speculative theology, listen here.) […]

  97. Malory July 12, 2010 at 8:20 am - Reply


    In your third podcast when you were talking about the temple garments, you said that the church was using factories in mexico and uruguay to produce them. It sounded to me like you were hinting that these factories were akin to sweatshops, but it wasn’t clear to me what you meant when you said “we have words for what these kinds of factories actually are.” Was the church using sweatshops to produce temple garments? Could you clarify this for me please? Also, do you know if the church is still using these factories to produce our temple garments?



  98. misfit July 12, 2010 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    So, if the church is a corporation, and it has all these profit-making companies as subsidiaries, is the corporation still a 501-C3 organization? ie, is it a charitable organization in terms of the IRS and the tax laws that allow us to deduct tithing on our tax returns?
    BTW, I just ordered the book. Can’t wait to read it.

  99. […] guess there were a few things that really exposed my ignorance. One was the Mormon Stories podcast featuring anthropologist Daymon Smith. The most recent was a Dialogue article (my very first to read ever!) detailing early Mormon […]

  100. […] Here’s a conversation about Correlation which is a more condensed version of the 9 Part Series from BCC. […]

  101. Wayne August 10, 2010 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    For some time, you had a FOUR PART series interviews with Daymon Smith. I was wondering where I might find those interviews. Thanks,

  102. […] fixed wall is set at 1971, when the Ensign, New Era, and Friend were launched. Interestingly, in Andrew Ainsworth’s Mormon Stories interview of Daymon Smith, they both guessed that magazine archives on would currently go back no farther than 1978 […]

  103. […] Ainsworth at kindly interviewed me for four hours, and MSP also posted an interview.  Then, the big break.  […]

  104. […] that house with his own money. You can hear several hours of interviews with Daymon Smith over at Mormon Stories Podcasts where he discusses the history of correlation, how the corporate ChurchTM struggles to serve both […]

  105. Jenne November 4, 2010 at 1:53 am - Reply

    I’m coming to this discussion late, but after just listening to Part 2, have to comment that the discussion on correlation is informing and validating some of my frustrations with the 72 ideas of the gospel. I’m feel pretty solid on those, to be honest. I got it down. I’m bored with the general instruction of correlation and like Andrew referred to I’m itching to move on to the “mysteries.” How I wish there was a post-correlation track for those who are ready to move beyond the basics and seek the “further light and knowledge” that is in the realm of pure speculation now? Sunstone is great for that, of course, but hardly mainstream in the church. Any ideas, thoughts on this question?

    • Toni June 22, 2012 at 10:26 pm - Reply

      Yes, Jenne, it’s the Book of Mormon. There is incredible knowledge in there if one studies (not “reads” but “studies”) it, discarding all “official” interpretation. Prayerfully, intently, openly, humbly study.

      Alma 13. Incredible.

      Most Gentile references refer to the members of the LDS church (also, “why do ye pollute the holy church of God” can only be referring to us, the members of God’s holy church).

      The meat is most definitely there, for anyone who wants to dig deeply and humbly enough.

    • David July 28, 2012 at 8:14 pm - Reply

      Joseph Smith was into Masonism (ala the whole temple and ceremonies are almost carbon copied from it) as well as was into Kabbalah from what I gather. You could go to those sources and see what you got there and where those lead you. You are probably far beyond where you were when posting this now nearly two years ago, but figured it may be worth a comment anyhow. :)

      • Marc October 8, 2012 at 11:36 pm - Reply

        Brigham Young is responsible for the altering the Temple ceremonies. Lots of people get involved in Masonry and never know anything about the higher levels where the darkness really rules. THINGS…are definitely NOT what they appear. This FORT was CAPTURED along long time ago…but still flies the flag of the fort founders. One thing is for certain…once you are off the milk and on the meat…you are in for a long and difficult chew!

  106. […] Mormon Stories Podcast has a series of Interviews with Daymon Smith Leave a […]

  107. […] Even if we see the way correlated church history as taught as being somewhat…truncated…abbreviated…whatever term you will use, what we know (or what many of us soon discover, whether we want to or not), is that Mormonism does have nuance. The protagonists we have been raised with do have serious flaws, and many antagonists have shiny centers. In fact, even if we want to speak about Mormonism today, where it seems as if Mormonism is increasingly black and white and polarized, this status quo of, say, correlation, is itself an ongoing drama of nuance, as has been addressed at length in podcasts like this one on Mormon Stories. […]

  108. Craig December 23, 2010 at 11:20 pm - Reply

    I think a quick look at the numbers shows where the LDS church’s priorities lie. Over the last 25 years the church has spent $1.2 Billion on humanitarian aid

    The City Creek Center by comparison is officially at $3 Billion and rising everyday. Unofficial speculation has it at a much higher number.

    How can this be defended? This mall will cost at least 3 times the total spent of humanitarian aid over the last quarter century. I think Daymen had great insight when he said the church has created a perception through the media that they are service oriented. Every time they hand out a toothbrush they make sure a camera crew is present.

    What is the ultimate point of accumulating this kind of wealth? The church could run indefinitely without taking another penny. How much is enough? At what point will the focus turn from hoarding money to serving humanity? It’s widely accepted that church brings in anywhere from 4 to 8 billion a year in tithing, even if you take the low end that would mean the church is only spending 1% on humanitarian aid. That’s less than many corporations like McDonalds, Walmart, AT&T, Microsoft and on and on… As a member this is embarrassing, throughout my life I have been told we pay tithing to “build up the kingdom” turns out the church has a VERY different interpretation of what that means. As for me I will never give another cent to the church until they open their books and offer transparency to the people they should be responsible to.

  109. Joe December 27, 2010 at 2:49 am - Reply


    I am not going to defend the LDS Church per se. But at least be honest in your criticism. The City Creek Center may cost 3… 4… heck, even 5 billion. But this is an investment that will generate a return. So isn’t it a bit unfair to criticize a business investment (that will generate earnings) to charitable contributions?

    Maybe not? But if revenue projections suggest that the City Creek Center will pay for itself (with interest) in say 10 or 15 years, then perhaps the criticism is unfounded? Especially since the alternative was a decaying down town area and mall. No?

  110. BItherwack December 30, 2010 at 11:06 am - Reply

    Joe, the Iraq war was also supposed to pay for itself. That was what was so appealing about the plan. That is why all our congressmen approved it.

    Investment is just that. It is a gamble. Counties have gambled away pensions over investments that went sour. There is no such thing as a no-risk investment. Should the Church sink faithful members’ offerings into investments that also bear risks? (Is the real estate market going to take another hit? Isn’t a shopping center just a different name for mall– and aren’t they all going under now anyway?)

    The question still is: Is it appropriate for a religious organization to manipulate funds the same way a business would. Is it an appropriate use of donors’ funds if the donors have no knowledge of its use. What would a widow in Zimbabwe think to find her hard earned 25cents were used to build a luxury condo? At least in a corporate setting, stock holders have a say in the operations of a business. Church members are left in the dark.

  111. Craig December 31, 2010 at 7:24 pm - Reply


    From the huge cost overruns to the church cutting the price of condo units in half combined with the fact we live in a time when malls across the country are struggling to stay afloat, it’s hard to believe they will make any money on this project. Also take into account that nobody is convinced that downtown SLC can support two malls a block away from each other. This seems to be a less than inspired investment, however it will give them back some power and influence they have lost within the city of of Salt Lake.

  112. Craig December 31, 2010 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    Regardless of the mall issue the most conservative of estimates puts the church under 1% of tithing going to humanitarian efforts. It’s indefensible in my book.

  113. Matthew January 1, 2011 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Craig, what is your source for the 1% comment? If true, I would love to know it. TIA.

  114. Craig January 3, 2011 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    A 1997 time magazine article pegged the church at somewhere around 5 billion a year in tithing donations. A quick look at the numbers. If there where only 2 million full tithing payers paying 10% of the US median income of $32,000 that would still put the church at over 6 billion a year. These numbers are very obtainable, and it doesn’t take into account fast offerings or money from the for profit side of things so 1% may be very generous. Bottom line is they should open the books to members who sacrifice this massive amount of money.

  115. me January 4, 2011 at 9:34 pm - Reply

    Tia, go to and the numbers on cash given to humanitarian efforts. I think the number is less than .5%. More is given by member time and donations as well.

  116. daymon January 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    While the Mall is the clearest example many point to as confusing certain principles enunciated at the pulpit, it is also important to consider that the “kingdom” is a slippery term, and is used to justify many things which would seem to have little to do with Mormonism (as delivered at Gen Conf, let’s say). The majority of the revenue from tithing seems to land increasingly into projects which have increasinly diminished accountability, either in a strict accounting sense, or in a broad sense of creating anything with any identifiable effects on humans. In short, most of what goes into the great hole of the COB is just burned, like the old Potlatches of the Kwakiutl Indians. A sort of sacrifice to a certain god who prefers the scent of money over the incense of barbecue.

  117. Antonio January 8, 2011 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    Dear Daymon,

    it’s said that Heber J. Grant mortgaged the Salt Lake temple to Wells Fargo and Chase Manhattan so that he would have the resource to start the “Heber J Grant Life Insurance Company”, or (depending on the version of the episode) to buy an interest in a sugar company
    (more currently U&I Sugar).

    Have you found anything in your research on this regard?

    It has been a common belief among some Fundamentalists that the loans were never paid off what would make the Chase Manhattan the actual owner of the Corporation of the president of the church.

  118. TimH January 26, 2011 at 8:52 pm - Reply

    I’m confused; I got to your podcast thru an anti Mormon website.Do you believe that the LDS Church- “corporation” is the Lords church on the earth today? I’m sorry for being so blunt but I’d really like to know your true beliefs on this subject.

    • Anonymous January 26, 2011 at 10:47 pm - Reply


      Who are you asking?

  119. Eric February 12, 2011 at 1:02 am - Reply

    The Chase Bank ownership conspiracy theory would certainly explain why corporatism took over and the financial records were closed only a few years after Heber J. Grant’s presidency. It’s an interesting theory, and I can see why a bank would want to own the church, though there doesn’t seem to be much or any evidence for it.

  120. Bill February 15, 2011 at 3:33 am - Reply

    I was in sunday school class yesterday and the teacher asked “What does the church do with tithing money?” I almost replied, “Build shopping malls!” I’m glad that my internal filter kicked in before my big mouth got me in trouble!

  121. Bill February 15, 2011 at 3:33 am - Reply

    I was in sunday school class yesterday and the teacher asked “What does the church do with tithing money?” I almost replied, “Build shopping malls!” I’m glad that my internal filter kicked in before my big mouth got me in trouble!

  122. Shishujones February 28, 2011 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    It appears to me that as the church began to grow, that the leaders were embarrassed (and fear of reduced growth rate) by statements of early leaders and continued speculation later in the 20th century. Harold B Lee, used correlation to get control (and cover up) and the leaders now have tremendous control. The backlash is that the intertnet still provides information that is embarrassing to the church that I believe is a tool used by people to investigate the church and leads them away. On the other hand, what correlation has done in my opinion is to have made it incredibly boring. Link boring, with time consuming, tremendous amount of work all under a very authoritative regime, and with information showing intentiaonal deception (cover up), and it seems like a perfect recipe for diminishing numbers in the church. This appears to me what is happening, in growth, in inactivity, and in apostacy. I have plotted church growth rate since the early days of the church. It is as low now as I have found in the past. The death rate appears incorrectly calculated, apostacy may not be reported to where birth rate a growth rate a slowly becoming the same number (so I think there may still be deception). The internet is trumping correlation and President McKay’s fear will be answered by something outside correlation control.

    Note, I find conferences, every Sunday School Lesson, Priesthood Lesson, and most sacrament meeting are tremendously boring.

    I wrote this before hearing the last of episode 2. I’m intersted that DS has found it to be boring and to be a script.

  123. Dennis May 2, 2011 at 3:27 am - Reply

    Daymon, thanks for providing this insight into a world that matters a lot to us members of the church, but one which we seldom get to see glimpses of. After listening to your four podcasts, and mentally comparing notes with you along the way, I have to agree that “we have gone far astray.”

    Of course, the implications of even that simple statement are tremendous. There is a word in the Book of Mormon for religion that is made to be profitable. It is “priestcraft.” To those who have also listened to Daymon’s presentation, now go read Mormon 8: 32-39 and see if we can’t “liken the scriptures” to ourselves. To me, it is heartbreakingly clear that we can.

    When we pray for the leaders of the church, let’s pray that they can correct some of these things. As troubling as they are to us who are impure, they must be even more offensive to God who is pure. Though our leaders may not have intentionally brought them about, they are probably our best bet for correcting what has been done.

    Thanks again Daymon.

  124. […] all, I first found out about Daymon Smith when I heard his Mormon story at Mormon Stories. He wrote that great and funny definition above, as well as many […]

  125. Tyler October 13, 2011 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    Daymon – I’m a late-comer to Mormon Stories and am just finishing up the 3rd part of your series.  It is really fascinating.  I am in my Speech and Language Pathology Masters program right now and found the linguistic side that you couldn’t get into really interesting.  I would love the chance to read your thesis.  Is there anyway that would be possible?   

  126. Ryan Hunt December 27, 2011 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Who is singing on the intro?

    • anti January 19, 2012 at 11:09 am - Reply

      skye pixton

  127. iamse7en March 2, 2012 at 9:08 am - Reply

    I’m just getting through this interview now. Finished Part 1 and 2, and it is fascinating! This has been one of my favorite interviews so far, even as a die-hard, believing member.

  128. Dear Jack: McLDS March 13, 2012 at 5:29 am - Reply

    […] other big corporation (for some historical insight on how this came about, I would highly recommend this Mormon Stories interview).However, I would also say that human nature has played a huge role in the evolution from big ideas […]

  129. […] Repetidos anúncios oficiais da Igreja negam o uso de fundos públicos (i.e., todo o financiamento veio da Igreja) e de fundos de dízimos — embora esta não passe de um truque de contabilidade, onde o dinheiro de dízimo é quase em sua totalidade investido, e após alguns anos, retornado ao fundo oficial de dízimos, enquanto todos os juros e dividendos são realocados para as empresas da Igreja (e.g., Deseret Co., Reserve Inc., Hawaii Reserves, Farmland Reserve, Bonneville International, etc.), constituindo então um fundo “extra” dizimal. [2] Com estes fundos liberados diretamente das doações religiosas, a Igreja pode então investir em hotéis multi-milionários de luxo no Havaí, reservas de luxo para caça esportiva de animais, e latifúndios bilionários, etc. [3][4][5] […]

  130. […] Therefore, the Church can legally claim to pay “stipends” and “living expenses” to its ecclesiastical leaders and still boast of an all-volunteer clergy, while maintaining its top clergy with extremely generous living conditions through benefits (as documented for mission presidents) that are tax-exempt, and at the same time paying them wealthy bonuses through its for-profit corporate subsidiaries. All this can occur outside of public scrutiny, through a corporation semantically distinct from the actual religious entity of the Church. The Church itself hasn’t allowed any public disclosures of its financial and accounting practices, making a specific, detailed analysis impossible. The entire network is, by now, so convoluted that Mormon historian Michael Quinn estimates that possibly no one person truly — and honestly — knows just how much every other Church leader (aside from himself) actually makes from the Church’s multiple organizations. If Quinn is correct, one is then left to wonder whether this is not by design. [6][7][8][9][10][11] […]

Leave A Comment

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