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Businessweek’s Mormon caricature cover draws fire
The cover is a caricature of a painting that shows John the Baptist blessing Mormon leaders Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
July 13th, 2012
04:57 PM ET

Businessweek’s Mormon caricature cover draws fire

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN)-– Reaction to a recent Businessweek cover was swift and direct, with some bloggers and commentators going as far as to call the magazine exclusive “bigoted” and “out of bounds.”

The article – titled “How the Mormons Make Money,” by Caroline Winter – is an in-depth look into the business side of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with much attention given to the tax benefits the church enjoys and the extent of its holdings of property and stock in multinational corporations.

The magazine cover, the aspect of the article receiving the most criticism, is a caricature of a well-known Mormon painting that shows John the Baptist blessing two Mormon leaders, Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.

Next to John the Baptist is a thought bubble that reads, “… and thou shalt build a shopping mall, own stock in Burger King and open a Polynesian theme park in Hawaii that shall be largely exempt from the frustrations of tax.”

In response, Smith replies, “Hallelujah.”

Michael Purdy, spokesperson for the church, responded to the cover in a statement to CNN, “The Bloomberg Businessweek cover is in such poor taste it is difficult to even find the words to comment on it.”

Purdy’s disapproval extended beyond the cover. He said the article was “biased, inaccurate and speculative” in nature. “The article misses the mark and the cover is obviously meant to be offensive to many, including millions of Latter-day Saints,” Purdy wrote in an e-mail.

Multiple calls and e-mails by CNN to representatives at Bloomberg went unanswered.

CNN's Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the big stories

Others reserved their criticism for the magazine's cover. Mormon blogger Joanna Brooks  wrote that while the cover was certain to ruffle some Mormon feathers – it already has – the article was a “generally balanced and straightforward assessment of LDS Church finances and enterprises.”

Even still, Brooks wrote, the shock of the cover image will keep most readers, especially Mormons, from taking the article seriously.

“Today, I’ve been in contact with a few of the sources for the article, and they believe the mocking cover image will lead most Mormons to dismiss the entire article as an anti-Mormon hit piece,” wrote Brooks. “Trying to sell a few magazines, Businessweek destroyed an opportunity for a serious discussion.”

The vastness of the church’s holdings are quite remarkable, especially considering the relative age of the church and the size of its membership, the article says. According to Businessweek, a recent study by Ryan Cragun, a sociology professor at the University of Tampa, estimates the church receives around $8 billion in tithing from members each years and is worth around $40 billion.

Those estimates would be tough to solidify, said Rusty Leonard, CEO of MinistryWatch.com, a site that keeps a database of Christian ministries and nonprofits for donors to use and evaluate.

The IRS does not require churches, which are tax-exempt, to file disclosure forms with the government. Leonard said that makes the totality of church holdings difficult to pinpoint.

“They get tax-free status as a church and they get the freedom to do what they want to do with their money,” Leonard said. This is true, he said, for everything from a local congregation to a large entity like the Catholic Church. But the difference, according to Leonard, is that people can see what is going on in their own congregation, something they can’t necessarily do for an entire religious body.

“When you are talking about an institution, like the Catholic Church or the Mormon Church, if they don’t voluntary disclose, you don’t really know what they are doing,” Leonard said.

When asked about the $40 billion figure provided by Cragun, Doug Anderson, public affairs manager for the Mormon Church, refused to comment.

The idea of Mormon hit pieces has been common in recent months, especially because likely Republican nominee Mitt Romney is a member of the faith, leaving conservatives and Mormons alike to worry that his candidacy will open the door to unfair characterizations of the church.

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Nancy French, a blogger for the website Patheos, spoke to this concern in her column about the cover.

“Can you imagine if they’d made a cover mocking your religion?” French wrote. “It will only get worse between now and November.”

The church-owned and operated Deseret News paper wrote an editorial that not only went after the reporting – “the corners cut in this week's Businessweek story do a disservice,” read the editorial – but also went after the legitimacy of Businessweek itself.

“In an earlier era, Businessweek was known for intelligently introducing its audience to useful conceptual approaches,” the editorial said. “But in this week's edition, Businessweek seemed out of its depth on the very issues it should own.”


soundoff (1,352 Responses)
  1. deano

    Some in Utah seem to think the church owns stock in things like soda pop, coffee and beer among other sinful and prohibited products. Some of the faithful are even known to go to Nevada on Saturday, before their temple services on Sunday.

    July 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Whereyomama

      As a member of the LDS Church, I highly doubt this to be true. Has it happened to a select few? Most likely. But to say this is a common happening is extremely doubtful. My religion teaches us that "you cannot do wrong and feel right."

      July 14, 2012 at 2:42 am |
    • whaaaa?

      'you cannot do wrong and feel right'

      So serial killers and pedophiles aren't doing wrong?

      July 14, 2012 at 2:44 am |
    • Whereyomama

      @Whaaaa?: The statement "you cannot do wrong and feel right" simply means that when someone commits acts that hurt themselves or others, deep within it does not feel settling. Obviously, the more wrong that you do the less guilt is felt, but the principle is true. Think of how children pick up so quickly on what is correct and right to do...

      July 14, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • christiantfarmer

      Sorry whereyomama, but that's a stupid inference. His point was that pedophiles don't feel that what they're doing is wrong. On top of that, there are plenty of children who do things that are quite wrong and cruel, and don't realize it 'til they're older. Or never realize that it's 'wrong' at all. They just keep on doing and doing and doing til they're caught. Or they keep on doing them til they die.

      July 14, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Think about it a bit

      I used to own Coca Cola stock but it went no where for 5 years, so I sold it. but...go to Nevada? what for?

      July 14, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • Brian Cole

      You need to quit drinking so early in the day; it affects your judgement. And stay away from keyboards when you do so–it looks like a self-inflicted wound on someone with no cerebrum.

      July 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  2. Lucifer's Evil Twin™

    Funny. I had no idea Bloomberg had a sense of humor...

    July 13, 2012 at 8:35 pm |
    • Pull My Finger

      Never laugh at Bloomberg or he'll outlaw the big bags of M&M's in addition to big gulps. Laugh again, and next time it's donuts.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
  3. Mark

    The One who taught "Blessed are the poor," must be weeping.

    July 13, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Sergio Roa

      The poors in spirits, the humble people.....

      July 13, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      "Blessed are the cheese makers...."

      July 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
  4. Rational Libertarian

    Allah ain't so akbar.

    July 13, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  5. Gary Mills

    Dr. Richard Mouw, the President of Fuller Seminary (a leading graduate-level Evangelical seminary) may have expressed it best: "This cover ridicules respected spiritual leaders and the Mormon faith by distorting a picture of sacred value and respect and turning it into a caricature. The article was poorly written and the cover was offensive to millions of people.

    July 13, 2012 at 7:10 pm |
    • sam

      If someone gets that butthurt over something this small...how the hell do they deal with a real crisis?

      PS try not to start acting the same way extremists in *another* religion do when someone draws Mohammed.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Why is that a problem, Gary? Should the Mormons put out their own form of "fatwa" against the artist and writer? What if the pic draws people to the article, and the article draws people to the facts, and the facts draw people to a more accurate idea of what the religion is and does? Humor and satire are tools. What's that old essay about Britons eating babies or something like that? Do you see my point?

      July 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Jonathan Swift: Modest Proposal was the essay I was thinking of.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:15 pm |
    • sam

      @Moby – wow, what *would* a Mormon fatwa look like? I'm afraid to guess.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I'm guessing they wouldn't sell you their magic underwear outright. You'd have to go through your pot dealer or something.

      That being said, I'm all in favor of having a president who wears magical undergarments. It would take the office of the presidency to whole other level of "absurd."

      July 13, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      "the cover was offensive to millions of people."

      We can only hope so.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      So sad. Too bad. Mormonism deserves every bit of ridicule it gets. If some pinhead from Fuller is stupid enough to defend it, tough sh1t.

      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcyzkd_m6KE&w=640&h=360]

      July 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Where can I apply to graduate school in Unicornology ?

      July 13, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • just sayin

      Another who needs a video to do its thinking for it ... so sad too bad indeed. God bless

      July 13, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      We noticed you deflected again. Not one argument, old man. You tube is how we communicate now.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • just sayin

      Real people think for themselves. Enjoy your pretend intelligence. God bless

      July 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @just sayin

      "Real people think for themselves. Enjoy your pretend intelligence."
      Says the person that needs the bible to do his thinking. Oh how delicious.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
    • just sayin

      If you knew how little you know you might scare yourself. The Bible opens the gateway to eternal thought. God bless

      July 13, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Where morality came from
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jnXmDaI8IEo&w=640&h=360]

      July 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Why we believe in gods.
      [youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1iMmvu9eMrg&w=640&h=360]

      July 13, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      just sayin's god "started" creation BEFORE time existed. And he thinks that makes sense.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @just sayin

      Thanks for demonstrating my point quite nicely. Continue with your worthless assertions, it's not like anyone who isn't a religious zombie (kind of like their saviour) takes you seriously anyway.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @sam @Moby

      A Mormon fatwa? An army of clean cut young men in white shirts and black pants, and properly underclad come bicycling to knock on your door every minute of every day for forty days and forty nights*.

      (* please feel free to suggest a suitably religious 'magic' time period).

      July 13, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • E

      religious people don't need any help getting made fun of they actually believe that a god made them and this universe, its too comical in its own right.

      July 14, 2012 at 2:36 am |
    • Whereyomama

      @Moby: Something that you are forgetting about is respect. If you do not agree with a religion or organization, then do not participate and live your own life but do not disrespect them. This is a basic social skill that is withering away in today's world.

      July 14, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • whaaaa?

      @Where

      counterargument: I'm guessing you don't have a lot of respect for the brand of islam that flies planes into buildings.

      An extreme example, no doubt, but in the same line I do not respect a religion that seeks to influence politics to limit the rights of others who cause them no harm.

      July 14, 2012 at 3:23 am |
    • alphabatt1

      Not me!

      July 14, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Disgusted by Mormons

      Here's what's offensive: Mormons steal names from the social security death records of all people, then posthumously baptise them into the Mormon faith. Romney's father in law, a man disgusted by the Mormon religion, was baptised after he died, and MY MOTHER, a woman who was never a Mormon, who never belonged to any church, for that matter, is on their list as well. These are grave-robbing cultists who do creepy, creepy things. Everyone who dies is up for grabs to be baptized into their cult. Don't believe me? Go to the social security death data base and look it up, it will take you to their "ancestry" data base. If someone you know has died, chances are, even if they are not Mormon, they are on their list. They have been baptised without anyone's knowledge, after death, into the Mormon cult. Creepier than hell.

      July 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  6. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    July 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
    • FSMSent

      I prayed to the Great Noodle in the Sky!

      It was delicious.

      July 13, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      ends with an atheist as proven by the reply post.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
    • sam

      FSM worshippers are not atheist...they are touched by His Noodly Appendage.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • stupid followed to its logical conclusion

      Is defended by people named sam.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
    • FSMSent

      He Boiled for your Sins!

      July 13, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
    • just sayin

      you will die in yours to your loss. God bless

      July 13, 2012 at 7:50 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      Ohhhhh, how cute, a threat.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • ElmerGantry

      troll alert

      July 13, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • KRHODES

      The flying spaghetti monster is the most ignorant analogy i have ever read. Somehow it is meant to be clever but it obviously reveals the complete ignorance of the atheist who use such stupidity to somehow prove their case.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @KRHODES

      And yet, the FSM still has as much evidence to its existence as any other god claim.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • KRHODES

      What have you been smoking?

      July 13, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      KRHODES,
      Great, now all you have to do is say why.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      Nothing for about 7 years. If you have evidence of your god, bring it out. If it's true, then it shouldn't fear scrutiny right?

      July 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      @Rhoads

      They are not proving their case, they are mocking yours. If you can prove any other god myth is more believable than the FSM please do so.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • KRHODES

      Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      KRHODES,
      Great, now all you have to do is say why.

      Well...obviously a flying spaghetti monster would be a material being wouldn't it? I mean it is made of meatballs and pasta..even sauce, surely given the scientific knowledge we have we would be able to detect a spaghetti monster. The monster would be a contingent being that owes it existence to this universe. Of course if it can fly...wouldn't it need an atmosphere to fly in? I mean really...the ignorance of the whole thing ought to be glaringly obvious to any reasonable person, however i am dealing with atheist....reason goes right out the window under those conditions.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @KRHODES,

      the FSM is not supposed to be a serious belief – it is a parody of religion and was invented as a challenge to teaching so-called 'intelligent design' in Pennsylvania.

      I particularly liked the bit about the correlation between pirates and global warming.

      May you be touched by his noodly appendage – Ramen.

      July 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

      @KHRODES,

      FSM is an exercise in reductio ad absurdum and a fine one at that.

      Is a sentient flying lump of spaghetti and meatballs any more or less absurd than an immortal pan dimensional being who manifests as an omnipotent wrathful father, loving human son and a ubiquitous, pervasive all seeing spirit, yet is somehow one ent.ity?

      July 13, 2012 at 10:01 pm |
    • KRHODES

      hawaiiguest "@KRHODES And yet, the FSM still has as much evidence to its existence as any other god claim."

      Just Claims, No Truth "@Rhoads They are not proving their case, they are mocking yours. If you can prove any other god myth is more believable than the FSM please do so"

      That sure sounds like a claim to me? By the way...what makes you think it a myth? That sounds like a positive claim to me..last time i checked you have the burden of proof on that one?

      July 13, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      @KRHODES

      Oooo yay I get to answer a fallacy with a fallacy.
      Prove me wrong.

      July 13, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      @KRoads,

      It is a claim, but one that can be backed up. The FSM was made up as a response to creationists trying to get "Intelligent Design" taught in public schools. It was satire showing if any baseless claim (creationism) could be taught as science than any other baseless claim (The Church of Flying Speghetti Monster) would have to get equal time as an atlernative version.

      Now my question to you is to please show how your god has any more validity than the FSM.

      Hint: Saying the FSM would need air to fly, ect., isn't going to cut it. They can come up with just as many unprovable assertions to 'explain' why he doesn't need air as any other religion to 'explain' their god.

      July 13, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
    • E

      I pray that one day every religious person on earth will drink the Jones cool aid mix but never comes true

      July 14, 2012 at 2:38 am |
    • Prayer does change things

      It changes you from a sane person into a flaming twit. Prayer is the most futile waste of time there is, aside from picking one's nose, which is actually more productive. You get something with the latter. Boogers. That's at least something. What you get from prayer is a false sense of well-being much like opiates offer. Religion has been called the opiate of the masses. However, it doesn't yet have the same stigma when one is addicted. It will, when each of you look into your mirrors and admit you don't actually believe what you say you do, because if you did, you'd all be insane, and you're not, you're just silly.

      July 16, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
  7. Rational Libertarian

    Stovepipe hats.

    July 13, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  8. BG

    Bloomberg's initial contribution to election year Republican character assassination. Political theater with D-list actors.

    Let's go look in Bloomberg's skeleton closet. (door creaks.....)

    http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/politics/2012/05/5973064/they-work-harder-bloombergs-bottom-line-immigration-reform-advocacy

    What an ass hole.

    July 13, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Good for them. There's lots of publications attacking the president and Dems, too. This is just a rather clever presentation on a somewhat prominent publication. Deal with it.

      July 13, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
    • sam

      Taking it kind of hard, there, BG.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
    • BG

      @ sam

      Did you even read the article? (What'taya mean "what article?") Of course you didn't read it, let alone acknowledge it. The more immigrants the merrier, 'eh? Bring enough in and they'll serve a dual purpose. Fatten the vote for the left -and- push the wages down for the right. Monied "Leftists" like Bloomberg would prefer to just get rid of the "lazy, nonproductive" domestic American middle class – worthless bas tards. But they'll be sure and try to get our guns first, won't they (rhetorical.)

      You think all that's a win-win? If you do, then you're no less an enemy of the state than your little commie buddy Bloomberg.

      July 13, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  9. AverageJoe76

    It's disturbing the lengths humans will go for dough. Even making up something to herd their own. Guess it's just natural for us as apex predators to prey on each other like this. Selling falsities. Socially-binding people to beliefs. I do have faith in one thing as an agnostic, and that is that we will evolve pass this eventually. I believe it. But ya never know.......

    July 13, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  10. Perspective

    Few invest the time to really understand what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints does with its funds. Mormonism is not a business, it is a religion that uses businesses to further its work. Criticism of the shopping mall (e.g.) they built is short sighted. The line of logic follows "what else could they have done with the money?" The fact of the matter is that funds from that investment will benefit millions for decades to come. Which is better, funding charitable programs for a year or two, or for decades? Clearly, I would prefer to feed the poor for many years to come. That is the approach of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Any other interpretation is misinformed or dishonest.

    July 13, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Do they sell magic undies in the mall ?

      July 13, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
    • Just Claims, No Truth

      "Any other interpretation is misinformed or dishonest."

      Cult logic.

      July 13, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
  11. שמיחזה

    take it with stride laugh and walk away, why is your faith so weak

    Stephen Colbert talks about Shinto
    "A whole bunch of magical beings based in different parts of nature? That's not a religion, that's Pokemon. Which shows how Shinto hooks you – once you've prayed to a few spirits, you've "gotta catch 'em all!""
    the entire Shinto community laughed there Kami off

    July 13, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • שמיחזה

      read it all for your self
      tp://mymediamonkey.com/uploads/d1107de783b9f846.pdf

      July 13, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
  12. just sayin

    Mormonism = con business

    July 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Fluffy the Gerbil of Doom

      Christianity con business.

      July 13, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • just sayin

      Mormon is not Christian. God bless

      July 13, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      Well, most christian denominations hold that most other denominations aren't really christians, either, so it's hardly surprising that most christians don't accept Mormons as christian. But all religion is mere con artistry–yours included.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
    • just sayin

      No you would be wrong but then you are devoting your life to being wrong. God bless

      July 13, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
    • midwest rail

      ^ ^ ^ ^ The contemporary faux Christian – leading the world in turning people off from Christianity.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      I'm not saying that all denominations draw the line so solidly as they do between christians and muslims or christians and hindus or christians and mormons, but the line is there. That's why they are part of one denomination.

      Let me ask you this: Suppose most christians started agreeing, and there were only a three or so denominations. Don't you agree that those denominations would more fiercely state that their denomination was correct and the other two were wrong? More christians will accept mormonism as a form of christianity than they would accept that islam is a form of christanity. It's a matter of degree. Many christians hold that the KJV is the only "true word of god," just as many denominations hold that theirs is correct and others less correct or even flat-out wrong.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
  13. I'm not only the President of the Hair Club for Men........

    I'm also an Apostle!

    July 13, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  14. just sayin

    Besides the Mormon rep crying about, I noticed he didnt refute anuything specific....could it be it was accurate???????

    July 13, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Moby Schtick

      You've really got to hand it to them in one respect, though. They don't have hundreds or thousands of different factions claiming that they have the right interpretation and worship practices in relation to other mormon denominations who don't. Christianity and Islam have the most claims on that front.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
    • crocalan

      I read their full response on their website. I think it addressed some specifics.

      July 14, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Michael

      @just sayin

      You didn't end your post with "God bless." How can I possibly believe anything you say from now on?!?!!!

      FAIL.

      July 14, 2012 at 11:23 am |
  15. hahaha

    hahaha

    July 13, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  16. I'm not a GOPer, nor do I play one on TV

    The truth hurts.

    If it was an inaccurate portrayal, it would be easy to dismiss. Assuming it is an accurate and unflattering portrayal then the faithful will play the sacrilege and blasphemy cards.

    July 13, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Serious

      IT is inaccurate as this is not how the event occured. and yes the press does have freedom of speech. I may have chuckled a little but of course those who hold it dear would find it offensive. and of course we all get to comment

      July 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
  17. Reality

    From a 1997 article from Time Magazine:

    lds-mormon.com/time.shtml

    "The first divergence between Mormon economics and that of other denominations is the t-ithe. Most churches take in the greater part of their income through donations. Very few, however, impose a compulsory 10% income tax on their members. Ti-thes are collected locally, with much of the money pas-sed on informally to local lay leaders at Sunday services. "By Monday," says Elbert Peck, editor of Sunstone, an independent Mormon magazine, the church authorities in Salt Lake City "know every cent that's been collected and have made sure the money is deposited in banks." There is a lot to deposit. Last year $5.2 billion in t-ithes flowed into Salt Lake City, $4.9 billion of which came from American Mormons."
    "The Mormons are stewards of a different str-ipe. Their charitable spending and temple building are prodi-gious. But where other churches spend most of what they receive in a given year, the Latter-day Saints employ vast amounts of money in investments that TIME estimates to be at least $6 billion strong. Even more unusual, most of this money is not in bonds or stock in other peoples' companies but is invested directly in church-owned, for-profit concerns, the largest of which are in agribusiness, media, insurance, travel and real estate. Deseret Management Corp., the company through which the church holds almost all its commercial as-sets, is one of the largest owners of farm and ranchland in the country, including 49 for-profit parcels in addition to the Deseret Ranch. Besides the Bonneville International chain and Beneficial Life, the church owns a 52% holding in ZCMI, Utah's largest department-store chain.

    All told, TIME estimates that the Latter-day Saints farmland and financial investments total some $11 billion, and that the church's nont-ithe income from its investments exceeds $600 million. "

    "Members of the church celebrate the Lord's Supper with water rather than wine or gra-pe juice. They believe their President is a prophet who receives new revelations from God. These can supplant older revelations, as in the case of the church's historically most controversial doctrine: Smith himself received God's sanctioning of pol-ygamy in 1831, but 49 years later, the church's President announced its recision. Similarly, an explicit policy barring black men from holding even the lowest church offices was overturned by a new revelation in 1978, opening the way to huge missionary activity in Africa and Brazil. "

    The leaders of the Mormon Church/"Cult" are not paid? Actually, they are paid via being executives of the large Mormon-owned businesses:

    e.g. http://207.224.220.202/excerpts/hier2.htm

    "The Quorum of Twelve's president Ezra Taft Benson was a director of Beneficial Life Insurance Co. Apostle Howard W. Hunter was president of the Polynesian Cultural Center (Hawaii), and director of Beneficial Life Insurance Co., of Continental Western Life Insurance Co., of Deseret Federal Savings and Loan, of First Security Bank of Utah, of First Security Corp., of Heber J. Grant & Co., of PHA Life Insurance Co. (Oregon), of Watson Land Co. (Los Angeles), and of Western American Life Insurance Co. Apostle Thomas S. Monson was president and chairman of the board of Deseret News Publishing Co., vice-president of LDS Social Services and of Newspaper Agency Corp, and director of Beneficial Life Insurance Co., of Commercial Security Bank, of Commercial Security Bankcorporation, of Continental Western Life Insurance Co. (Iowa), of Deseret Management Corp., of IHC Hospitals, Inc., of Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Co., of Murdock Travel, of PHA Life Insurance Co. (Oregon), of Pioneer Memorial Theater, and of Western American Life Insurance Co. Apostle Boyd K. Packer was chairman of the board of Utah Home Fire Insurance Co., while also director of Murdock Travel and of Zion's First National Bank. Apostle Marvin J. Ashton was president of Deseret Book Co., chairman of the board of ZCMI, and director of Beneficial Development Co., of First Security Bank of Utah, of First Security Corporation, of Laie Resorts (Hawaii), and of Zion's Securities Corporation. Apostle L. Tom Perry was director of American Stores Co. (which operated Skaggs Drugs and Alpha Beta supermarkets), of ZCMI, of Zion's First National Bank, and of Jewel Companies, Inc. (Chicago), and trustee of LDS Social Services and of Nauvoo Restoration. Apostle David B. Haight was director of Bonneville International Corporation, of Deseret Management Corporation, of First Security Bank of Utah, of First Security Corporation, and of Valtek, Inc., while also a trustee of Deseret Management Corporation Foundation. Apostle James E. Faust was vice-president of Deseret News Publishing Co., director of Commercial Security Bank, and of Commercial Security Bank Corporation, while also a trustee of Ballet West and of LDS Social Services. Apostle Neal A. Maxwell was director of Mountain Fuel Resources, Inc., of Mountain Fuel Supply Co., and of Deseret News Publishing Co. Apostle Russell M. Nelson was director of Zion's First National Bank. Apostle Dallin H. Oaks was chairman of the Public Broadcasting System (national), while also director of O.C. Tanner Jewelry Co. and of Union Pacific Railroad."

    Bottom line: Mormonism is a business cult using religion as a front and charitable donations and volunteer work to advertise said business.

    July 13, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Serious

      A business cult? would you rather they let their money sit in a bank and do nothing. Would you rather their leaders do nothing and live off of the church or would you rather they went to board meetings and helped direct companies and earn a living. I do appreciate the vast amount of information you have provided. As I am lazy I was wondering if you would also show me how much they made at these companies and if any of the took government bailouts.?

      July 16, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
  18. just sayin

    A cult that is mocked..oh how sad

    July 13, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  19. Satan is waitin!

    The should mock all religeons and expose their business and financial records. These groups should be taxed, they are fvcking business. That's a fact.

    July 13, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
  20. hawaiiguest

    Awwwww poor wittle religious folk got all offended by satire.

    "“Can you imagine if they’d made a cover mocking your religion?” French wrote. “It will only get worse between now and November.”"
    Way to throw some political insinuations in there French.

    July 13, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • sam

      And kind of funny how satire automatically seems to = 'bigotry' the moment someone disagrees with it. Jeez. Everyone's a drama queen these days.

      July 13, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.