During July, news emerged that the Church is planning to use 133,000 acres of farmland it has owned for many years and turn it into a city – a metropolis of a half-million residents. Deseret Ranches in Florida is a for-profit cattle operation begun by the Mormon Church in 1950. The project would be the biggest development ever planned in Florida. It seems this is the latest Mormon take on ‘building the kingdom’ – a far cry from truly admirable religious pursuits. The Church, which is legally a corporation, has already built the City Creek Center Mall (among other commercial construction projects), at a cost of billions, and is once again showing that it is more a business operation than a true religion.
Meanwhile, children are still dying every minute of every day for the want of clean water or a bowl of rice. Such amounts, spent on commercial ventures, could instead have helped save tens of thousands of lives. The Church is fond of asking “What would Jesus do?” I think we know the answer to that in this instance. And it’s no good the Church claiming they can’t save everyone and that they provide extensive humanitarian aid in addition to these for-profit business ventures, because relative to member donations, overall income and assets, they do very little by comparison. (See ‘May 2014‘).
July also saw the fourth annual mass resignation from Mormonism take place, when nearly one-hundred members marched through the streets of Salt Lake City to Church headquarters where they officially resigned from the Mormon Church. The main problem facing the Church at the moment, in addition to members discovering they have been lied to about everything all their lives, is the tremendous upsurge in public opinion concerning discrimination. “Participants in the mass-resignation event said women’s inequality and LGBT discrimination were just a few of the reasons behind why they officially resigned from the church.”
Once, the Church could get away with not allowing women the priesthood. A Mormon prophet previously explained “there is no agitation for it” – but now there is, and members have been disciplined for participating in such ‘agitation’ (which doesn’t seem very ‘Christian’ at all). Everyone knows the Church will eventually cave and give women the priesthood (it is just a matter of time); just as it did with men of Native African descent in 1978, after decades of claiming they would not be given the priesthood until the Millennium (after all white men had been given it). That changed – but women will supposedly never hold the priesthood at all. We’ll see. The Reorganised Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Community of Christ), is ahead of the game, allowing women the priesthood long since and they now have some female apostles. Perhaps their god still talks to them.
An even bigger issue is due to the unprecedented surge in public empathy, understanding and support across much of the world, for the LGBT community, with many members also criticising the Church for its continued unloving and extremely damaging approach to the subject – and its gay members, in addition to public (and some illegal) opposition to law changes allowing non-Mormons to enjoy making choices that do not affect the Mormon Church. The recent decision by the US scouting movement to allow gay leaders has further put Mormon leaders in a quandary. They simply do not seem to know how to handle damage limitation they now desperately need. Meanwhile, members are resigning.
Unfortunately, as ever, Mormon leaders can’t see how far behind the times they are; and of course, there is no direct communication from their god these days (who may otherwise have commanded them not to be racist, patriarchal, or homophobic, long before the tide of public opinion forced, and continues to force, changes in what was once fundamental doctrine) – as confirmed by the late Gordon B. Hinckley. (See: San Francisco Chronicle. Don Lattin interview with Gordon B. Hinckley. 13 Mar 1997 and The Mormon Delusion, Vol. 4:121-2 and ‘September 2012’). All they now get is ‘feelings’ – and we all get those; they can be very unreliable and often deceptive. I wonder how they ‘feel’ about all this.