The Mormon website has a big feature on prophets and apostles, declaring, “Today’s prophets and apostles carry the gospel ‘unto all the world,’ as they have throughout history.”
Throughout history? Really? prophets and apostles throughout history? But this is not about historical accuracy so much as it is about establishing the right image, first in the minds of the faithful and, through them, in the minds of the unwary beyond the Mormon organisation.
One has only to mention prayer, the Bible, church, Jesus, prophets and apostles and many will readily assume they are hearing a Christian message. “Look at the name of our church!” a Mormon might exclaim. “The name of Jesus is in our church’s name. Of course we are Christian.” ‘What you see is what you get,’ is the reasoning and it is not unreasonable that people buy it.
There is even an interactive map showing where in the world these prophets and apostles have been carrying the Mormon gospel. Pins on a map can give a real sense of size and influence. Each pin tells a story. Accompanying the pin stuck in China, for instance, is the story of how “Elder Holland and Elder Bednar expressed their love for members throughout Asia and encouraged them to build up the Church in their part of the world.”
“Throughout Asia?” The current population of Asia is reckoned at 4.2 billion, some 60% of the world’s population. The Mormon population of Asia is just over 1 million. That’s 0.0238% of the Asian population. The Christian population of Asia is estimated at 351million. Gives perspective doesn’t it? More than a map with strategically placed pins.
You see, anyone can send a newsletter abroad, collect a few foreign followers online, send out E-Newsletters to a few different countries and call themselves an International ministry. But the test of a ministry is effectiveness not whether your newsletter goes out to Brian in Canada, Lesley in the UK and Freiderich in Germany, or whether a couple of guys have made some overseas trips to a congregation in Turkey. The fact is its all smoke and mirrors, albeit the best smoke and mirrors money can buy.
And on the subject of money, you don’t think all those overseas units of the Mormon Church are self-sustaining do you? Here in the UK there are 188,000 members. only one third of these are “active” and only half of that one third will be temple worthy, i.e. able to fill leadership roles, pay a full tithe etc. That leaves a shave under 63,000 going to church and 32,000 carrying most of the burden of leadership and finance.
So where does the money come from? “The parent company” according to the accounts that, unlike in the US and according to UK law, have to be lodged at Companies House.
In 2005, they reveal, The charity is under the sole ownership of the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated £16,698,000 to the on going running of the UK church during the year.
What? You didn’t think 32,000 Mormons were paying for and running two temples, 332 congregations, 116 family history centres and six missions with a little help from the nominal membership – did you?
For more on the true picture of this “World-wide church” see my post on Mormon Demographics