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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Church Leadership Corruption: Discussion 2 Examples of Corruption from Modern and Ancient Times

Since local Church leadership is lay leadership, local Church leadership is us – YOU and ME. My intent in writing this essay is so people can evaluate their own behavior, not label or malign others. It also assumes that local Church leadership at the stake and unit level is the only Church leadership corruption that needs to concern ordinary members today. Corrupt Church leadership ABOVE the stake level IS NOT addressed.

Please do not email the content of this blog to others. Send them the link to it, so they can read it here. It is the only way to avoid things getting altered.

Disclaimer: If anything I say violates scripture, modern revelation or current Church guidance like that contained in the Handbook, I withdraw it. I do not have direct access to all these materials, so I cannot be completely certain that what I am asserting is currently accurate. I hope the reader will absorb my general points and not pick at the details. Most of the details are for illustration purposes only.

These series of postings will consist of eight parts and be posted every three days according to the schedule below.

1. Examples of Corruption from Modern and Ancient Times 

Here are some actual examples of such corruption (List is illustrative, not exhaustive):

Telling a particular person that he/she is not welcome at Sacrament meeting and insisting the person leave. Guidance on this matter is unambiguous and clear. 

3 Nephi 18:22 And behold, ye shall meet together oft; and ye shall not forbid any man from coming unto you when ye shall meet together, but suffer them that they may come unto you and forbid them not; 
D&C 46:3 Nevertheless ye are commanded never to cast any one out from your public meetings, which are held before the world. 
Ordering a new member to hire all the unemployed in the unit, because the member is a manager with the authority to do so in his or her secular job.

D&C 121: 41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; 
Misrepresenting to the Stake President that a member and spouse feel their release from a calling was “uninspired” because the unit leader was caught lying to them asserting the Stake President being the originator of the release, rather than the unit leader. The unit leader was apparently trying to pass on the responsibility for decision making; rather than admitting that he, in fact, made the decision. Guidance on this matter is unambiguous and clear.

Exodus 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. 
Instead of sending the excess unit funds to Church headquarters, as instructed, when the new budget procedures were instituted;, a unit leader buys expensive furnishings for the local meetinghouse, such as couches and pictures. Guidance on this matter is unambiguous and clear.
Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 
Without consulting the Stake President, a Bishop bought a brand new car for a young couple in a ward, using welfare funds, without requiring anything of them. This incident occurred before the new budget procedures were instituted. It was a poor ward where almost no own owned their own car, and the bishop FULLY paid for the new car. The couple had been inactive members who had recently moved into the ward's boundaries. They soon went inactive again and then moved on again after getting the new car.
Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; 
1 Timothy 5: 8 But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. 
“In clarifying the purposes of welfare, in 1936 the First Presidency of the Church made this statement about the importance of work in helping Church members to help themselves: 
“Our primary purpose was to set up, in so far as it might be possible, a system under which the curse of idleness would be done away with, the evils of a dole abolished, and independence, industry, thrift and self respect be once more established amongst our people. The aim of the Church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be reenthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1936, p. 3).” (See A Leader’s Guide to Welfare: Providing in the Lord’s Way, 6). 
Not disciplining, correcting or removing leaders under one’s jurisdiction, that one knows are acting inappropriately. Guidance on this matter is unambiguous and clear.
1 Samuel 2:22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. 23 And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. 24 Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the Lord’s people to transgress. 27 And there came a man of God unto Eli, and said unto him . . . . 29 Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering . . . honourest thy sons above me . . . .31 Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father’s house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house. 34 And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them. 
This Old Testament story has a number of implications. Eli held a sacred Church position and his sons were underneath him. He KNEW they were sinning and although he talked to them about it he did not solve the problem. In addition to their sexual sins, they were doing the modern equivalent of embezzling tithing funds. Obviously, we would hesitate to pay our tithing if we knew our Bishop or others were embezzling the funds. Apparently people then were loathe to make their temple offerings, knowing how they would end up.

It does not say whether Eli policed non-family members in the ways he should have policed family members. Allowing latitude with family members, while throwing the book at others, is definitely corruption. Also, it did not say if his sons received their position because of nepotism, but it makes me wonder.

Healthy families are crucial, but Eli elevated family peace over right and wrong. He harmed the Church in doing so. The Church itself was corrupted. Eli retained his Church position for forty years but came to a bitter end. (See 1 Samuel 4) Heavenly Father has sought fit to chastise more modern leaders for not having their houses in order as well. (See D&C 93: 40-50)

More Ancient Examples:

The Pharisees and scribes had so perverted the gospel and the Church that it bore little resemblance to truth during Jesus’ time. (See Matthew 23)

John’s epistles and the other epistles in the New Testament were written primarily to counter the false truths and practices that were emerging in the early Church.

When Laban’s servant Zoram assumed Nephi was Laban he chatted with him concerning the “elders of the Jews, he knowing that his master, Laban, had been out by night among them.” Laban had been with Church leaders AND he was drunk. Is there a connection? Probably. (See 1 Nephi 4.)

King Noah’s Church bore little resemblance to truth, but when Alma heard the truth he embraced it. It makes you wonder if he had never heard this version of the Gospel before. (See
Mosiah 11-18)

More Modern Examples: 

Samuel Brannan led the pioneer saints on the ship Brooklyn into San Francisco. Ultimately, he was excommunicated. His Church history is littered with financial and influence improprieties, diverting Church funds for his own purposes and using his influence to become California’s first millionaire. (See James E. Faust, “I Believe I Can, I Knew I Could,” Liahona, Nov 2002, 49–52)

Stake President, Isaac C. Haight was excommunicated over the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Haight may have manipulated and misrepresented information. (See
Richard E. Turley Jr., “The Mountain Meadows Massacre,” Ensign, Sep 2007, 14–21)

A recent example of corruption amongst Church leaders would be Shawn Merriman. Merriman’s scam started in 1995. He was a Bishop from 2001-2006. There are numerous others guilty of these influence and financial crimes – even the husband of one of my BYU college friends and the father of one of my BYU college roommates. It is difficult to believe these men were only guilty of secular financial corruption. Their misuse of power and influence probably extended into their Church callings as well.

Personal financial crimes are making it into the current news headlines and the Church now lists “Affinity Fraud” as a “Public Issues” on its official Newsroom site. There are other ways to abuse one’s power and authority.

In the United States recently, I have personal knowledge of a unit where corruption was so massive that all unit people in unit leadership and other callings were removed and replaced with stake people. It was a clean sweep.

In 1945, Elder Joseph F. Merrill relates stories of two Bishops’ actions in similar events, but handled dissimilarly by the Bishops.

In the bishops' meeting last evening in this hall, Bishop M. O. Ashton told two stories that deeply impressed me. Each story was about a bishop and some boys. In the first one, a group of boys engaged in some Halloween pranks of a rather serious, provocative nature. The bishop secured the names of the boys and charged them to come to the sacrament meeting and publicly ask forgiveness for engaging in the pranks committed, on pain of excommunication for failure to do so. In consequence there are in that community today a number of families that grew up outside of the Church. 
In the second case a group of boys and a bishop were involved. A wedding party was held at the bishop's home. A big freezer of ice cream waited on the back porch for the refreshment hour. When the cream was to be served, it was observed that the freezer was empty. Pondering over the matter the bishop decided to invite the guilty boys to an ice cream festival and provided two freezers of ice cream for the occasion. All the boys accepted the invitation. When the lads were seated at the feast, it was noticed that tears began to run down one boy's face. Soon all the other boys were in tears also. From among that group have come some of the finest leaders in their community. 
Those were the factual stories told by Bishop Ashton. Hearing them I was reminded of section 121:39-41, D&C, which reads as follows: 
We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen. No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned (D&C 121:39-41). 
The two bishops of the story were undoubtedly actuated by the best of motives. Not for a moment would I question that. But one bishop was wise and the other unwise. The thought in the mind of one was to use persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and love, so beautifully stated in the revelation quoted. In the case of the other bishop he seems to have acted impulsively, yielding to the influence of the evil power. Joseph F. Merrill, Conference Report, April 1945, pp. 111-115
The Bishops were acting within their power and authority. No one can argue that they did not have the necessary power and authority to do what they both did. But, one acted righteously and the other did not. Neither of the events depicted in these two stories were actual Church events that the Bishop has clear authority over, unless the Halloween pranks somehow involved Church matters. The second Bishop obviously has jurisdiction over events at his own home; but the caution that should be extended in handling Church matters clearly influenced him in how he handled this, more personal, matter.

Next time: Changing Existing Ordinances and Procedures and Adding to Others


  1. Interesting points.

    http://www.CorruptionInLaie.com is about a small Mormon community in Hawaii.

  2. http://www.IndependentKamaaina.blogspot.com

  3. I found this from http://www.CorruptionInLaie.com is about a small Mormon community in Hawaii. This 2007 is interesting because Hawaii Reserves and Brigham Young University now wants to build a new community EnvisionLaie in Kahuku. Same old promises.

    Cannot trust HRI words

    Today is November 23, 2010. Where is the hotel? Hawaii Reserves tore it down on January 25, 2010. Employees lost their jobs. Where is the hotel? The lot is still empty. Now HRI says it does not know what will happen. They now want 300-rooms hotel. Can Hawaii Reserves ever be trusted? Just listen to their hot air . Remember HRI cannot be trusted.


    Hawaii Reserves plans 220-room Laie hotel
    Dec 10, 2007

    (TVLW) – Officials from Marriott International Inc. say the company is close to signing an agreement to operate a new 220-room hotel planned for La’ie.

    The new hotel, which is expected to be completed sometime in 2010, would replace the 48-room Lai’e Inn, which is controlled by Hawaii Reserves Inc., the land management arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Eric Beaver, president of Hawaii Reserves Inc., described the new property as designed “for guests visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center, Brigham Young University-Hawai’i, the La’ie Hawaii Temple and other destinations in our area.”

    “The low-impact design, combined with Polynesian themes and tropical landscaping, will reflect our unique character and provide a fresh, new option for visitors,” Beaver said.

    The environmental assessment for the project is in the final stages. Construction is planned to begin sometime in early 2009 with an expected completion date of early 2010, he said.

    Ed Hubennette, Marriott’s vice president of North Asia, Hawai’i and South Pacific, confirmed that the chain is close to an agreement to operate the hotel. “We’re excited about the project,” he said.

    Hubennette said the property would be operated as one of the Marriott hotel chain’s various brands.

    Beaver said the original $30 million cost estimate given when the hotel plan was first proposed in 2004 is outdated. He said he could not provide an updated cost.

    Hawaii Reserves is proceeding with various construction approvals at the city level, which include a special management area permit, he said.

    DeeDee Letts, chairwoman of the Koolauloa Neighborhood Board, said members of the board and the community earlier saw the artist’s renderings of the project and know the area is zoned for a resort development.

    “We were pleased that they are not planning a high-rise,” Letts said, noting that Hawaii Reserves officials have described the project as “no taller than the coconut trees.”

    She is awaiting further details in an update expected at a meeting in January. “Most of us are probably OK with it,” Letts said, noting that the project will replace an outdated building and a McDonald’s.

    “It’s got to be better than what’s there now,” she said.

    Letts said bad weather last week forced cancellation of a meeting where the board was expected to get an update on the property as well as other area developments.

    Travelers posting reviews on the TripAdvisor.com Web site have described the La’ie Inn as conveniently located near the Polynesian Cultural Center and reasonably priced, but low on ambience, facilities and amenities.

    One writer praised the La’ie Inn for location but deplored “the ghetto factor” that included outdated buildings and cockroaches: “If you’re from a third world country and you’re accustomed to spending time in dingy, insect-infected, cinder block/adobe structures, then this hotel will be fine. The pro is that this hotel is less than 200 yards away from the entrance to the Polynesian Cultural Center. ”

    The next closest hotel is the Turtle Bay Resort.


    12:00 AM HST