the thinker

Corporate Structure of the LDS Church

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“It might seem strange, almost slightly blasphemous, to refer to a church as a corporation, but the analogy here is simply inescapable. The Church is undeniably corporate.”

- Jeffery Kaye, “An Invisible Empire: Mormon Money in California,” New West, May 8, 1978, p. 39

“The business involvement which we have is a very, very minor part of our activity... We try to operate the few – and I emphasize that – the few business interests that we do have in a business-like prudent way, as any prudent business corporation would do, and use them for public good.”

- Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley, quoted in Ken Wells, “The Mormon Church is Rich, Rapidly Growing and Very Controversial,” Wall Street Journal, November 9, 1983, p. 1

“But, in fact, the LDS Church has considerably more than a few business interests. The Church's investments are enormous, constantly shifting to take advantage of profit margins in the stock market, and highly diversified. The Church runs a virtual business empire, with assets close to $8 billion by conservative estimates. These Church operations have been run basically for their economic returns and not necessarily for the public good.”

- John Heinerman and Anson Shule, The Mormon Corporate Empire, p. 76, 1985

“Among the Mormons, things temporal have always been important along with things eternal, for salvation in this world and the next is seen as one and the same continuing process of endless growth. Building Zion, a literal Kingdom of God on earth, has therefore meant an identity of religious and economic values: in the daily affairs of the Kingdom, Latter-day Saint scriptures call for unity, welfare, and economic independence.”

- Leonard J. Arrington, LDS historian, “Zion's Board of Trade: A Third United Order,” Western Humanities Review, v. 5, p. 1, Winter 1950-51

“Over a fifteen-year period [in the late 1800s], in what is known as the Cooperative Movement, the Mormons constructed over 200 miles of territorial railroad, a $300,00 woolen mill, a large cotton factory, a wholesale-retail concern with sales of $6,000,000 a year, more than 150 local general stores, and at least 500 local cooperative manufacturing and service enterprises... The most controversial aspect of this movement was the policy of expecting Latter-day Saints to give exclusive patronage to these church-and cooperatively-sponsored enterprises.”

- Leonard J. Arrington, LDS Historian, From Wilderness to Empire: The Role of Utah in Western Economic History, monograph no. 1, University of Utah Institute of American Studies, 1961, p. 16

The Edmunds-Tucker Act was passed in Congress in 1887 to attempt to break up the Mormon business conglomerate.

“In much the same way the federal government is burdened with bureaucracy, the Mormon church is stacked with tier after tier of quorum, committee and council. The rapid growth of the church has created a need for ‘civil service' – thousands of managers, attorneys, clerks, historians, teachers, and architects working for the kingdom...
“One effect of the church civil service is the ‘palace guard' effect. The middle-level bureaucracy has the power to dilute the effect of the church president. Full-time employees sift through all recommendations that come in to church leaders, as well as all directives that come out. They often speak ‘on behalf of the brethren' and make decisions that members believe are sanctioned by the church leadership.”

- Fred C. Esplin, “The Saints Go March On,” Utah Holiday, June 1981, p. 48