from TIME, AUGUST 11, 1997, VOL. 150, NO. 6
Your article on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was very
well done. I have been a Mormon all my life,
attending meetings, paying tithes and offerings, teaching children and
adults in church classes, etc. We Mormons believe that the sacrifice of
worldly goods is an important principle, requiring faith in God as it
does, but we also believe in freedom to exercise moral agency--which
means, as far as monetary contributions are concerned, each member is
free to pay or not. Your report made it seem as if Mormons are under a
great deal of pressure to pay their annual 10% tithe. I don't think
there is much pressure, other than that of individual conscience, to pay
tithes or other contributions.
BLAINE BORROWMAN Midvale, Utah
The Internal Revenue Service should study the Mormon church's use of
power and guilt to collect a 10% tithe from its members. The IRS might
find out what happens to church members who fall short of the 10%:
privileges and positions are withheld; there is no admission to any
temple; and they cannot reach the top rank of the three levels of
TRACY A. BREEDING Denton, Md.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a global faith with a
message that appeals to those who seek an anchor in a world of shifting
values. However, leaders of the church were disappointed that you
created a false impression of the church's income and wealth. Your
estimates were greatly exaggerated. The church's income is not nearly
what was reported. Also the church's assets are primarily
money-consuming assets and not money-producing.
BRUCE L. OLSEN, Managing Director Public Affairs Department The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Salt Lake City, Utah
Mormonism isn't a religion; it is a corporate empire. The Kingdom of God
comes in a poor second to the riches of this church.
DON RADEMACHER Glendale, Calif.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is wealthy because its
people are basically honest, educated, industrious and unselfish. It
sends out missionaries to share what its members have with other people.
Don't mock that.
GLENN A. HANSEN Chicago
I converted to Mormonism 27 years ago; ultimately, I did not leave the
church--it left me. Many of its questionable beliefs and practices are
not revealed to converts before baptism. Like every other cult,
Mormonism gains psychological control by undermining self-trust. Your
photograph of the young celebrant with arms raised and fists clenched
says it all. Imagine trying to discuss your personal problems with a guy
NAME WITHHELD BY REQUEST Salt Lake City, Utah
As a fifth-generation Latter-day Saint, I read with interest your report
on the church. It is amusing how the media are so intent on primarily
examining the financial holdings of my church. My voluntary tithes and
offerings stem from my sincere belief in the divine origins, doctrines
and destiny of this religion. The real strength of the Mormon church can
be found in what it offers mankind spiritually, not monetarily.
PETER W. MADSEN West Jordan, Utah
Mormons are "nice" only to people who agree with them. I am not a
Mormon, but I have countless friends who have been badly hurt by this
cultlike faith. Their crime? Daring to want a more sophisticated
intellectual life than their religion allows. After being raised in the
suffocating sweetness of family and faith, they find themselves cast
out, and although they relish their escape and freedom, a part of them
will always ache for that absolutist belonging. Next time you write
about Mormonism, look at all sides of this unusual, politically powerful
and often cruel religion.
SEAN GARDNER Santa Fe, N.M.
Ah, religion--man's answer to his spiritual hunger. Nourish the soul,
find truth, find the meaning, find God. All religions seek to lead
people through these searches to the ultimate answer. Unfortunately,
along the way many religions, including Mormonism, have fallen prey to
the "God in a box" syndrome--explanations that reduce the infinite to
what mortal minds can comprehend and, possibly, equal. They can call
this religion, but spirituality or faith, never!
NANCY SIGLER Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Your story read like a pitch for recruits to the Mormon church. The
assertion that Joseph Smith was "a simple farm boy" who was given
tablets of ancient scriptural writings that were "taken up again to
heaven" cries out for some investigative reporting. And if God speaks
directly to the Mormon leaders, why did it take him until 1978, two
decades after the start of the civil rights movement and 115 years after
the Emancipation Proclamation, to reveal to his chosen people what most
others already knew--that racism is wrong?
LARS OPLAND Palmer, Alaska