Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Runaway Bride leaves Great Whore at the altar! Church decides to divorce Babylon!
Extra! Extra! Church to go out of business. Church to make new start without Mammon's financial support, even if it has to move into Father's basement in the wilderness.
An Ohio State University study found that 60% of restaurants fail during their first year, and 80% of restaurants close within five years of opening.
Why do so many restaurants shut down? Well, it all boils down to one reason: lack of paying customers.
The restaurant world, like the religious world, is highly competitive. About 5,000 congregations in the U.S. disappear every year.
Sectarianism is religion's bread-and-butter. As Joseph Smith experienced, "When the converts began to file off, some to one party and some to another, it was seen that the seemingly good feelings of both the priests and the converts were more pretended than real; for a scene of great confusion and bad feeling ensued" (JS-H 1:6).
Where is the profit in love, in charity, in sacrifice, in equality? If we want to bring in the big bucks from financial donors, it helps to have an "us vs. them" mentality, perhaps a persecution complex; a sense of superiority; a platform for declaring we have a monopoly on God's favor, whilst others are fools. (How else could the Great and Spacious Building operate? The Condominium Association Fees alone are exorbitant.)
The thing that generates revenue is the rivalry! Are McDonald's french fries better than Wendy's? Is Popeye's chicken sandwich juicier than Chick-fil-A's? You see, we have to draw lines, take sides, and create division over stuff that doesn't matter.
But the stakes are greater in religion than in fast food. If I stop going to McDonald's and begin eating lunch at Taco Bell, no one will care. But guess how families and friends will react if we stop attending Kingdom Hall with the Jehovah's Witnesses and start attending Mormonism? Or if a Scientologist converts to Methodism? Or if an Amish girl becomes Catholic?
All hell breaks loose. And sometimes families shun their loved one for exercising their God-given agency and religious autonomy.
We find that we do not really believe Article of Faith 11 after all. We give it lip service:
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
How does God respond to Sectarianism?
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
Should we join Joseph Smith in the sentiment, "I had now got my mind satisfied so far as the sectarian world was concerned -- that it was not my duty to join with any of them, but to continue as I was until further directed" (JS-H 1:26).
Beneficial Life Insurance Company
What is the difference between a convert and a customer?
One of the businesses the LDS Church owns is the for-profit Beneficial Life Insurance Company. I find it beautifully ironic: a church owning a life insurance company.
This is how life insurance works: You purchase life insurance by signing a contract with an insurance company. In exchange for your regular premium payments, the insurance company will write a check after you die to your beneficiaries. The benefit of life insurance is that you leave behind a financial cushion for your loved ones.
This is how religion works: You purchase an eternal life insurance policy by joining a church that promises you that they have the One-True-Way. In exchange for your regular tithing payments, the church assures you that you will go to heaven when you die. The benefit of an eternal life insurance policy is you have peace of mind while living.
Notice, though, religion doesn't have to write a check when you die.
Sectarianism is Big Business
According to the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion, the "faith-based economy" in the United States is worth about $1.2 Trillion Dollars. (http://www.religjournal.com/pdf/ijrr12003.pdf)
The primary tenet of Priestcraft is 'you can buy anything in this world with money.'
The very best definition of Priestcraft I have found is from Nephi:
God commandeth that there shall be no priestcrafts; for, behold, priestcrafts are that:
(1) men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world,
(2) that they may get gain
(3) and praise of the world;
but they seek not the welfare of Zion. Behold, the Lord hath forbidden this thing; wherefore, the Lord God hath given a commandment that all men should have charity, which charity is love. And except they should have charity they were nothing.
(2 Nephi 26:29-30)
Notice how the opposite of Priestcraft is Charity?
So let's look and see how our churches fare. How charitable are our churches? Do they:
(1) Suffereth long?
(2) Is kind?
(3) Envieth not?
(4) Is not puffed up?
(5) Seeketh not her own?
(6) Is not easily provoked?
(7) Thinketh no evil?
(8) Rejoiceth not in iniquity?
(9) Rejoiceth in the truth?
(10) Beareth all things?
(11) Believeth all things?
(12) Hopeth all things; and
(13) Endureth all things?
One Ring to Rule Them All
In the Lord of the Rings, the evil lord Satan . . . I mean, Sauron, crafts a Master Ring to rule all Middle Earth.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all And in the darkness bind them.
Priestcraft is the "One Ring" of religion, the means by which we can have our cake and eat it too. The way we can promise followers an eternal reward . . . for a price.
If we can buy anything in this world with money, why not eternal life?
Nehor was a priest who had great success. He declared that every priest and teacher ought to become popular; that they ought not labor with their hands, but should be supported by the people (Alma 1).
Instead of sacrifice, he wanted a salary.
Contrast Nehor with Nephi, who taught:
My beloved brethren, the Lord God worketh not in darkness.
He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world; for he loveth the world, even that he layeth down his own life that he may draw call men unto him. Wherefore, he commandeth none that they shall not partake of his salvation.
Behold, doth he cry unto any, saying: Depart from me? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; but he saith: Come unto me all ye ends of the earth, buy milk and honey, without money and without price.
(2 Nephi 26:23-25)
Instead of getting rich, Christ got dead. Instead of taking our money, Christ gave his to the poor and needy.
"Darkness" vs. Transparency
The Lord loves honesty. He loves transparency, which leads to accountability. The Spirit of Christ is open, true and light.
Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing.
On the other hand, it seems like the Lord really dislikes his children trying to hide in the dark, keeping secrets from each other.
Their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed.
That is why the Lord commands common consent. How can a church call itself Christian if it does not operate transparently? According to Jesus:
And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be set on a candlestick?
For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad.
On the other hand, secret combinations love to keep their works hidden in the dark.
And it shall come in a day when the blood of saints shall cry unto the Lord, because of secret combinations and the works of darkness.
Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.
Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.
O ye wicked and perverse and stiffnecked people, why have ye built up churches unto yourselves to get gain?
(Mormon 8:27-28, 32-33)
My friends, I do believe Moroni was speaking to us. Have we read the headlines lately?
I think it is time we took a serious look in the mirror. Would we pass a Priestcraft Test?