By Common Consent: A Petition to Return to Full Annual Financial Disclosure4
July 18, 2012 by Ron Madson
By Common Consent
Perhaps one of the most ennobling truths, among many, in Mormonism is found in Section 93:29,30 “Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.” With our co-eternal intelligence we are, of necessity, eternally endowed with freedom to choose—which God can neither grant nor take away.
The Council in Heaven before the creation of this earth is a manifestation of our Father in Heaven’s acknowledgment of our intelligence and His desire to obtain our freely given consent. That is our spiritual heritage which continues to resonate with us in this sphere of existence.
With intelligence and free will come differences. How we approach those differences defines our spirituality and what peace/happiness we either achieve or forfeit. Our earliest lessons are found in our homes. Many of us have had the fortune of having a home where wise parents would allow free and open discussion—as to anything. We felt no sense of fear. We were taught that Mormonism was a constant search for “further light and knowledge.” The 6th Article of Faith was not just an external principle but was alive in our home. The sense of fear of authority seems so foreign and peculiar to many of us when it comes to theological questions or even petitioning our parents or any authority for any matter.
Our stated goal as Mormons is to achieve Zion. Zion as described in our sacred texts is where all things were held in common and that there was no contention. How does one achieve no contention and having all things in common? Is it through fear? Is it through deliberate ignorance? Or is it through informed, intelligent “common consent”?
Our Lord revealed His ways of governance for His church: “And all things shall be done by common consent in the church..” Nothing could be more inclusive than “all things.” And why not, if perfect unity is what we are trying to achieve? The Lord, in particular, directs His church that expenditures from His treasury is to be governed by the “voice and common consent” of the members under covenant: “And there shall not any part of it be used, or taken out of the treasury only by the voice and common consent …” Giving our “voice and common consent” is right and privilege that no one can take away. Moreover, we as members of the covenant should not abdicate our duty by placing it solely on the shoulders of our appointed leaders.
For most of our history our church provided full disclosure of its funds. Even in times of financial difficulties members could share in the joy of knowing that good works were being accomplished with their collective donations. While an annual financial report was suspended for a few decades we believe as President Hinckley stated that the financial information of our church “belongs to those that made the contribution”. We at the Mormon Worker agree.
We have confidence that the reinstatement of a full annual financial disclosure will vindicate the virtue and integrity of our church’s financial affairs that are consistent with the principles taught by our Lord. Such open transparency will also dispel all mystery that often leads to unverifiable speculation both without and within our church: “And He doeth nothing, save it be plain.” (2 Ne. 26:33). We seek complete transparency in all our financial affairs by following the Lord’s counsel that monies placed into His treasury shall “not be used, or taken out of the treasury, only by voice and common consent” (Doctrine and Covenants 104:71).
For that reason we at the Mormon Worker endorse this following linked Petition calling for the return of the publishing by our Church of an annual Financial Statement so that we as members of His church can once again have sufficient information to give our fully informed “voice and common consent” to church expenditures that are consistent with the teachings of Jesus, our Lord.
Additional resource: LDS Institute Manual
Category: Jesus Christ, Uncategorized | Tags: Commonconsent, scripture, theology
A very nice idea, but the layers of organization would still leave everyone wondering if the annual report was a full financial disclosure.
Suppose that the church disclosed “total revenues”, “total expenses”, and “reserve” amounts, or even a breakdown of subcategories. Wouldn’t you still want more detail? I would… and to be honest, I would never feel comfortable that the church was being fully open. It is simply not in the nature of this institution to be fully honest and open.
By the way, I miss your presence in Las Vegas. Those were very fulfilling years for me, with our meetings at Brady Industries. I am glad to see that you are still a thinking “working” mormon.
Paul, great to hear from you. It has been some time. Thanks for stopping by this radical blog and commenting. I do agree that disclosure would be problematic and probably unfulfilling most likely, but I did notice an example of disclosure that was practiced before it was discontinued on Rock Waterman’s blog called “Pure Mormonism.”
I also miss meeting at Brady Industries. I assume you are still in Las Vegas. Say hi to Bill Brady if you still see him. Keep in touch.
The problem is the centralized structure of the church and all finances being sent to the same. Common Consent does not work on this level. It must be broken up and divided, as a check against corrupting powers. In Mosiah we read, “Therefore they relinquished their desires for a king, and became exceedingly anxious that every man should have an equal chance throughout all the land…” and in verse 39 we read “Therefore, it came to pass that they assembled themselves together in bodies throughout the land, to cast in their voices concerning who should be their judges….” The point is they assembled themselves in bodies, plural, and not as one massive structure. The second point is they cast in their voices and not just their vote. This implies a return to the oral traditions. The church today simply has rejected this model. I could go on and on, but I think I have said enough. See themormonwhatchman.com for more.
Debar, excellent observations. I agree that we need to return to the localization of finances as was practiced in the OT and historically in our own faith before complete centralization. I checked out your website and appreciate your insights—themormonwatchman.com. thanks