Are GAs Paid Salaries or Stipends?

In the past I have always referred to the amounts full-time General Authorities of the Church are paid as stipends. I’m wondering whether I’m being overly defensive in this practice, and I’m thinking about just saying they are paid salaries. But I’m having a hard time figuring out which is the most appropriate word–or perhaps there is a better, more descriptive term (allowance?). So I’m hoping my friends in the Bloggernacle can set me straight on how best to refer to these payments.

The background is that many Saints have no idea that full-time GAs are paid; they assume they are like local bishops and serve without payment. This is not the case. When I correct this misimpression, how should I refer to these payments?

The word stipend comes from Latin stipendium, from stips “gift, alms, small payment” + pendere “to weigh.” The definition is “a fixed sum of money paid periodically for services or to defray expenses.”

The word salary comes from Latin salarium, which is the neuter form of salarius, lit. “of or relating to salt.” The word has its origins in the practice of paying a Roman soldier his wages in salt. The definition is “fixed compensation paid regularly for services.”

Based on these particular definitions, it seems as though either word would be appropriately descriptive. My sense, however, is that we go out of our way to avoid the word salary because we are so defensive about the fact that GAs are paid. I’m thinking we shouldn’t be so defensive about it, and we should be more open about it.

I suppose the possible distinctions are: (i) what they are paid is a relatively small amount not reflective of their true worth or what they could otherwise receive in private industry, or (ii) these amounts are not really compensation for services rendered, but simply provide for basic living expenses to free the GAs to accomplish some greater good (like a grad student receiving a living stipend).

A few general thoughts:

– In the past we have sometimes lorded it over other faiths because we do not pay our local leaders. I think this is hypocritical and that we should not do this.

– I wish the Church had more transparency about its finances. I can’t tell you how many times ordinary members have been surprised, even shocked, to learn that GAs are paid. (GBH, to his credit, has mentioned this over the pulpit, but a lot of members apparently never got the memo.) This lack of transparency leads to wild speculation about how much they are paid.

– I personally don’t really care that these payments do not come from tithing funds. We often make that caveat when discussing some potentially unpopular payment, but since money is fungible, what difference does it make? It seems as though it is nothing more than a PR statement.

So what are your thoughts about this?


  1. Maybe “fellowship” or “endowment” are more appropriate. ;)

  2. Steve Evans says:

    “Salary” implies compensation for services rendered. I don’t think GAs are earning wages. Your point (ii) above is I think the important bit, as I think ‘stipend’ is more accurately describing what’s going on: we give them some money because they’re now too busy to go out there and work full-time jobs.

  3. I agree with “stipend.” You touched a sensitive chord in describing how we sometimes use our putative lack of professional clergy to make us feel superior over other faiths. This post should be read in tangent with Kathleen’s on lay clergy and JNS’s on Mormonism and Christianity.

    Our full-clergy is professional in the sense that we compensate them (again, I think “stipend” is most appropriate here, notwithstanding my brilliant humor in #1). They are not professional in the sense of being professionally trained like priests or ministers in other faiths — unless you count the ones we draw from the ranks of CES, which complicates the question somewhat.

  4. Kevin,

    My understanding is that there are different arrangements made for each individual GA? Some are really wealthy and require little support. others are much less wealthy and require more.

    If you are working and getting paid I would have to lean towards Salary.

    You need to throw MP’s into the mix as well.

    I avhe to say that I disagree on the lay leaders not getting paid on the local local level. Its a big deal and avoids a lot of really difficult problems

  5. Due to their definitions I don’t see salary or stipend being appropriate. The word allowance is defined as “a sum of money allotted or granted to a person on a regular basis, as for personal or general living expenses” and that seems to fit the description better (to me at least).

    Like you, I really don’t care all that much but I think the difference is significant to some people. The fact is that once they are called, they cannot work to bring in income and they have to have some way to provide for their families. Sure, some of them may have lucrative investments or other resources and I have no idea if they all receive an allowance no matter what or if those who can afford their own living expenses pay those themselves. I just don’t consider the money they are given to be a salary they are paid to “preach” or a wage based on how many hours they work each day.

    I’m sure if we broke down what they are given into hours per day that they actually “work” for the Lord, it would be a significant cut in pay from what they could be making had they stayed in the career fields most of them came from.

  6. Finally,

    We should ask the IRS. Would clear it right up for us.

  7. Kevin Barney says:

    bbell, I’m reasonably sure that what the GAs receive is taxable income, subject FICA and all the rest. Should taxability be a significant factor in how we characterize these payments?

    Also, while I’ve heard that a few GAs who are very well off waive these payments, my impression is that that is more the exception than the rule.

  8. I don’t remember a time (I think I heard it in seminary 40 yrs ago) when I didn’t know that General Authorities were paid a “salary.” I don’t know of anyone who thinks it is a big deal. The word “salary” is OK with me.

  9. Kevin, maybe you should go with “stipendium,” which makes it sound more elevated than simply sending them a paycheck every month.

    The alternative to paying GAs would be NOT paying them, which would result in (1) GAs living in poverty; (2) only rich men being called as GAs; or (3) rich individual members buying GA influence by supporting less affluent GAs with monetary gifts. None of these are desirable, so even if paying GAs is not the ideal arrangement (given that no local leaders are paid), it’s the better than the alternative.

  10. In my experience it’s been rare to meet a member of the Church who does not realize that GAs receive a living allowance.

  11. Stipend best fits what they do, but I have no personal preference. I agree that the church needs to be more transparent, in many aspects, this being one of them.

  12. I think it would be good if the church and its members, when referring to a “lay clergy” like it’s a good thing, said “lay LOCAL clergy.”

    This makes me think of the way the church touts the idea that its missionaries serve “at their own, or their family’s, expense.” That may be true of most missionaries from the United States, but it certainly wasn’t true of many, if not most native missionaries I served with in South America.

  13. I have a friend who’s ant works in the church office building and she says GA’s are paid $1 million dollars. Also the executive bathroms at the church office buidling have gold facets. She found this out when she found a piece of paper in the garbage that had everyone’s salary. Suprisingly the apostles make the same as the prophet alough he also get’s free lunch in the cafeteria. He doesn’t usually eat there though. He used to eat at Skool Lunch a couple times a week befroe it closed but now he brown bags it most days.

    I agree we shouldn’t feel suparior to other faiths for not having a paid clergy. I propose all bishop’s be giv an immediate stipend. Stipend is the best word BTW.

  14. Is needs provided for through law of consecration more descriptive or just obfuscating? It seems to me this is what is happening, though I hardly think it clears anything up with the General Public.

  15. 1. I have no problem with GA’s being paid.
    2. For the life of me I cannot see any qualitative difference between using stipend/salary/allowance in this case.
    3. Given that we do pay our full-time officials, I think our rants against other churches who also pay their full-time ministers, are lame. (But see point 1.)

  16. I think the reason that the Church makes it clear that the allowances for the GA’s don’t come from tithing funds is so that no one can say that the reason our leaders are concerned about members paying tithing is so that they can live a life of ease. The GA’s also undergo constant persecution and scrutiny over every word they say and every move they make already. So as pathetic as it is, I think it is necessary to state that the funds come from a “commercial” pool of income so that members don’t think that they have a right to scrutinize every dollar a GA spends because it came out of their pockets.

    I also don’t think that because the Church is discreet about such things that it translates into being secretive or hiding something that the members or public have a right to know about. Even GA’s have a right to privacy regarding their personal,every day lives and that includes what they spend on food, clothing and personal purchases. Unless there is a reason to suspect that the GA’s are spending “church” money on personal luxuries in some extravagant manner, their income like that of any other person is really no one else’s business.

  17. LDS clergy is not, however, “professional” in any sense of the word–at either the local or the general level. “Professional” doesn’t just mean “does something for money” (modern usage sometimes to the contrary).

    A profession (the classic three were law, medicine, and the clergy) typically involves a specialized set of knowledge, the necessity of peer review and peer control (e.g., Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons, the legal bar societies, etc.) and ostensible dedication to something “higher” than just making money. (E.g., the Hippocratic oath, serving the public, etc.).

    LDS clergy (paid or not) is not “professional” in this sense. There is no specialized training to be an EQ president, bishop, or president of the Church. No one “goes to school” to do those things. We have no seminaries or theological post-graduate schools. No degree is needed for any level of Church service.

    You don’t choose to enter the fields, you’re called. No one with any sense would PLAN on being called to the Quorum of the Twelve as a way to support themselves.

    So, being paid stepends, salaries, or honoraria doesn’t make one “professional.” Training for the career (usually via post-secondary education), mastering knowledge specific to the discipline, and self-policing are key. And, none of that really happens with LDS clergy at any level.

    CES, arguably, is professional. But, CES is assuredly NOT the priesthood of the church.

  18. Kevin Barney says:

    FWIW, WRT the scope of these payments, the WSJ for 11-9-1983 apprently reported that Seventies at that time were paid $40,000 per annum. Even factoring in inflation since that time and presumably higher levels of payment for apostles and 1P members, that indeed is a pretty modest level of compensation.

  19. As to Dave (comment 9) and his third point:

    Do we really think that the General Authorities would “sell” their influence if they were supported by gifts from wealthy members? If they are really the men we think they are, why would a change in the source of their living turn them into different men?

    As to comment 13, I’m really impressed that your friend’s ant could read at all. It does stand to reason, though, that the ant would be in the trash can, and could find all kinds of dirt there.

  20. Kevin,

    That was not far from the starting salary for 1st year associates at New York law firms in 1983. But, we all know they’re overpaid.

    BTW, what source did the WSJ cite?

  21. I’d have to agree with tosh that “allowance” fits better in my mind. I receive a salary in one job and a stipend in another.

    I negotiated my salary, and my intent is to be compensated fairly for the work I put it. I expect periodic review and increases of my salary. I live off my salary and hopefully have some left over.

    I accept a stippend to help defray some of the costs associated with something else I do. There is no way I could live off my stipend. I’m lucky if it covers my costs. I often put in full time hours while receiving this part time (at best) pay. I don’t negotiate my stipend.

  22. Most of the low/local Baptist Ministers I know are ‘paid’ like the GAs i.e. to meet their needs. Many live in a house owed by the local congregation. I also know many people who labor in their church for free. I vote for “paid for their needs” Stipends sounds like less than enough..or cheap.

  23. Comment 13, Mathew,

    Skool Lunch! What a memory! I used to go there every morning for my cinnamon roll fix.

  24. Kevin Barney says:

    Mark B., I saw the reference secondarily at a website; my guess is the WSJ didn’t cite any published source, but the number was based on anonymous information.

    When you say that amount was close to the starting salaries at that time for NY-based law firm associates, that certainly puts a different spin on it. Maybe I was vieing that number too much through today’s economy, in which $40,000 would indeed be modest. (I also saw a reference to J. Reuben Clark complaining about the level of GA pay, that a good executive secretary in private industry made more than they did.)

  25. California Condor says:

    Here’s what I found on the Internet:

    GA Class of 2007: Year-end bonus 35K, no special bonus
    GA Class of 2006: Year end 35K, special 10K
    GA Class of 2005: Year end 40K, special 15K
    GA Class of 2004: Year end 45K, special 20K
    GA Class of 2003: Year end 50K, special 30K
    GA Class of 2002: Year end 55K, special 40K
    GA Class of 2001: Year end 60K, special 50K
    GA Class of 2000: same as 2001

    These bonuses are on top of GA salaries beginning at $160,000 for first-years, $170,000 for second-years, $185,000 for third-years, $210,000 for fourth-years and so on and so forth.

  26. California Condor says:

    Whoops, my bad. #24 refers to salaries at the Cravath, Swaine & Moore law firm.

  27. Kevin Barney says:

    CC, I’m glad you made that clarification! (g)

  28. #24,

    That applies only to NY GAs. California GAs are getting hosed even when you figure in the lower cost of living.

  29. #13

    The idea that a piece of paper was even generated that simply listed the incomes of all of the GA’s is hilarious, let alone that such a paper would be randomly tossed into a garbage can where just anyone (and in particular someone who cannot resist sharing confidential information) had access to it.

    But then again, it would probably be wrong to doubt the credibility of your friend or his/her “ant” just because she enjoys digging through the garbage at the COB, shadowing the prophet to find out what he eats for lunch every day, and keeps nitric acid in her purse in case she is ever curious about the composition of bathroom fixtures.

  30. There are interesting conversations taking place in Washington about the need for a transparency law which would require religious organizations to disclose their finances in order to remain tax-exempt. This is being led by a Senator Grassley (R-Iowa) who helped bring down the president of Oral Roberts University by exposing his lavish lifestyle. He’s also going after several other Bentley-driving Evangelists.

    The unfortunate result of the Church’s non-disclosure is that it’s terrible PR. Clearly the Seventies receive comfortable but appropriate middle-class incomes and have nothing to hide, but outsiders don’t see it that way. It’s constant fodder for the anti-mo crowd.

  31. Kevin Barney says:

    What about GAs that make partner? And is there a tiered system between income and equity partners?

  32. Steve Evans says:

    I heard that CES is up-or-out.

  33. S.P. Bailey says:

    I just wanted to put all of you church office building grasshoppers on notice: my ant just applied for a job at the COB. She is very industrious. Also, she knows bs when she smells it. ($1 million stipends to GAs? Ludicrous.)

  34. #30,

    There are only 15 partners in the entire firm and when you consider how leveraged they are the chances of ever being made up are almost nil. In addition, there is no discernable rhyme or reason behind the voting system–its almost like someone else is randomly picking. You’re chances are better at Skadden.

  35. CC-

    Regardless of what information you might find on the net-if you cannot authenticate that information, sharing it as if it were true is irresponsible. Better to run it past any random employee at the COB first. *grin*

  36. Steve Evans says:

    Mathew, don’t exaggerate re: Skadden.

  37. Steve,

    I know people who have worked at Skadden so I thik I have a better idea of the reality than you.

  38. Hey wait…Matthew…did your spelling and syntax just suddenly and inexplicably improve? *G*

  39. I can’t remember not knowing that GAs were paid some salary, and my impression has been that it is a very “comfortable” amount but not extravagant. (I don’t cite that as evidence of what they make, nor would I even know where to begin attaching a number to it, I just cite it as evidence of what this member’s impression has been, towards the discussion of “Do members know GAs get paid?”)

    What I’ve NEVER heard before is that they *don’t* get paid from tithing funds. Not only did I not know that but now that I do I think it’s kind of silly. Is that even real, in the sense that it isn’t just a little accounting magic? You can’t tell me that if everybody stopped paying their tithing tomorrow, the GA’s checks would keep clearing indefinitely.

    This member doesn’t care if they’re getting paid, and thinks they should just be paid from tithing. I wouldn’t blink if the number were as high as $70k-80k for those living in expensive areas.

    I think the real reason for keeping the numbers under wraps is that inevitably, unavoidably, etc, etc, the figure is going to seem astronomical to those in poor nations. When you’ve got half the world’s population living on

  40. #28 and #30,

    My friend’s aunt (sorry for the bad spellign) is very honest and wouldn’t lie. And she wasn’t looking in the garbage–but she dropped something in their and needed to get it. And the prophet has lots of groupies. You ever go to church on a fast Sunday?

  41. If it is a stipend, and merely compensation for living expenses, the amount should be constant for all the GAs, or at least have only minor adjustments for cost of living in a particular location. (ex. a GA living in NYC should get a larger stipend than one living in West Valley City) If it really changes for the Apostles vis a vis the Seventies, etc., then I call it a salary.

    Also, are they being compensated for what they could make in an open market? If that is the case, then I call it a salary. BKP (CES teacher) would get paid far less than say, Bednar (B-school professor?) or Elder Cook (attorney).

    In my mind, any money the GAs receive should be some base amount sufficient to meet their living expenses, and little or nothing more. I understand that they sacrifice a lot to be GAs, but they are compensated in influence and power.

  42. Also, does Pres. Hinckley get a stipend? I think he lives in a Church-owned apartment right off Temple Square (it allegedly has green-tinted bulletproof glass). So he doesn’t have a rent payment, so what does he spend it on? He probably has a driver and the Church covers the bills. Food? New suits from Mr. Mac?

  43. tosh,

    I’m better some days than others.:)

  44. The Wall Street Journal article in question (“Leaders of Mormonism Double as Overseers of a Financial Empire”) reported that Paul H. Dunn’s “church salary is $40,000 a year.” This statement is made in the course of a discussion about Dunn’s connections to Afco Enterprises, a real estate venture which collapsed in 1982. Dunn resigned from the board of directors in 1978, but he apparently maintained ties to the company until 1982. The reporter cites court records in a civil suit involving Afco, so that may be his source for the salary figure. (Dunn gave a deposition in the case.)

  45. AHKDuke,

    You’ve crossed the line. President Hinckley’s suits are way too sharp to be from Mr. Mac. If you want to spew anti venom, go to a DAMU board.

  46. Oh, I am not commenting on the quality of his suits. But isn’t Mr. Mac where all good Mormons shop for suits? Or is that just what they want me to believe?

    Same thing goes for Deseret First Credit Union and their LDS-centric ad campaigns.

  47. Kevin Barney says:

    Justin to the rescue! Thanks, Justin.

  48. I don’t care, as long as they are paid. I wouldn’t want the alternative – just like I wouldn’t want a paid local clergy.

  49. Gordon Hinckley, October 1985 (after describing the Church’s commercial businesses):

    I repeat, the combined income from all of these business interests is relatively small and would not keep the work going for longer than a very brief period.

    I should like to add, parenthetically for your information, that the living allowances given the General Authorities, which are very modest in comparison with executive compensation in industry and the professions, come from this business income and not from the tithing of the people.

    So President Hinckley thought of the money the Church gives him as an allowance, an allowance that is comparable to executive compensation in industry and the professions (and is very modest in comparison, kind of like the income of most Church members). Like many, I see no distinction between Church money whether collected as tithing or generated by Church property, but President Hinckley thought it a distinction worth mentioning, and apparently worth keeping track of in the Church’s bookkeeping. Apparently, with that distinction, if tithing income ceased, the work of the church would not keep going, but the General Authorities would still be provided for.

    However, given that we have a couple thousand stakes and tens of thousands of wards, all functioning without paid leaders, it’s a pretty good first-order approximation to ignore the couple hundred General Authorities who are paid. In preference to “lay clergy,” I like to think of it as a “nation of priests.”

  50. Ray, can you elaborate on why an unpaid general leadership would be so detrimental? I am not disagreeing, but I’m interested in your rationale(s).

  51. #44,

    My friend has an uncle who is a Mormon who buys his suits at Brooks Brothers.

  52. #46,

    Speak for yourself. We should pay the local clergy. They give so much.

  53. Paid local clergy would never work, at least as we administer local clergy positions now. Can you imagine quitting your job for 7-8 years, getting paid by the Church (maybe not commensurate with your former income) and then after 7-8 years, being thrown back into that job? Lawyers, doctors, accountants, etc. could not stand to lose clients by taking a long term hiatus from their careers. Mission Presidents get that treatment, but for a shorter period of time, and most of them are far outside the community where they have been working. Paying GAs works because they get it at the latter end of their lives and usually hold the position until death or emeritus status (which I believe still pays a stipend/salary).

  54. Deseret First Credit Union is for either working class or jack-Mormons. The true and faithful go to Zion’s Bank. C’mon! Everyone knows that.

  55. One other comparative salary note: I don’t know what SLC law firms were paying by 1983, but I had a classmate at law school who went started practicing there in the fall of 1980 at a salary under $20K.

    So, $40K in 1983 was probably more than a new lawyer right out of school could have made in SLC that same year–but then again, about all that new lawyer knew how to do was run the photocopier, as soon as the secretary told him how.

  56. I’m not suggesting they quit their jobs–but that they get supplemental income. We could tie it to performance in their ward in order to create incentives for better performance. I’ve often thought that missionaries would do a better job of ensuring retention if they could get a piece of whatever their downline brought in.

  57. I believe instead of paying the bishops, we should instead pay our teachers. The average EQ teacher puts a lot of time and effort into creating a professional and uplifting presentation — compensation commensurate with this service just sounds right.

  58. #57,

    Maybe both could get paid–as long as the RS didn’t expect anything there would be plenty for everyone.

  59. Mathew, I hope that is facetious or a joke; please don’t take this personally, but that is one of the worst ideas I have ever heard. If you want to pay local leaders a little something on the side, to compensate them for time and sacrifice, I guess that is OK. But pay-for-performance for Church leaders is an abomination. We need less capitalism and corporate behavior in the Church, not more.

  60. You’ve crossed the line. President Hinckley’s suits are way too sharp to be from Mr. Mac.

    Come on!!!

  61. AHLDuke,

    I have rudely hijacked this thread w/ a series of comments that are entirely tongue-in-cheek. Clearly I’ve got too much time on my hands (as opposed to the rest of the bloggernacle:)). I’ll stop now–apologies all around.

  62. Also, while I’ve heard that a few GAs who are very well off waive these payments, my impression is that that is more the exception than the rule.

    Well, you wouldn’t expect Pres. Hinckley or Elder Packer to be able to waive it, since they spent their paid careers working for the church:) However, Elder Uchtdorf retired as a Lufthansa pilot and reportedly doesn’t take money from the church.

    I don’t know about Elder Nelson, who retired from a lucrative career as well. Of course, he has a young wife to support.

  63. Mathew, I don’t mean to run you off. I thought it might be a joke, but just wanted to check. What worries me is that given the corporate culture and the creeping elements of the Prosperity Gospel in the Church, someone somewhere may have seriously entertained such an idea.

  64. California Condor says:

    According to some inflation calculator I found, $40,000 in 1983 dollars is equal to about $80,000 in 2006 dollars. I wouldn’t be suprised if some GAs get that amount of money.

  65. Kevin Barney says:

    This thread reminds me of an old Grondahl cartoon set at a Sunstone Symposium. One panel shows a room in which some academic is giving a presentation on something like a Unified Field Theory of all Gospel Knowledge; there are like three people in the room. The next panel shows someone giving a presentation on the Incomes of the General Authorities, complete with graphs; the room is packed to the rafters.

  66. Kevin Barney says:

    CC, when I was hashing this out this morning on another list (which led me to post on it here), the figure I had guesses was $75,000, so this seems pretty close to me.

  67. Ronan in #15. I finance equipment for a living and get an opportunity to look at financials and tax returns for evangelical churches here in the Bible belt a couple of times a quarter.

    Many of these places are run by one or two guys who run all of their personal expenses(cars, boats, houses, school tuition etc) thru the church to avoid taxes and pay themselves healthy healthy salaries out of the till. As the offerrings increase so do their salaries. Just like a small business. In fact that is what they are small businesses set up for the financial benefit of the founders like a car wash or a law office with different tax laws. If you see a sign and a large building that says something like “harvest hills christian church” “Pastor Goerge Edwards” and is not connected to a national denomination its likely that the head pastor is running a church business.

    Our system of local lay leaders is far far superior and much less corruptible then the typical non denomination christian church in the US.

  68. I’ve heard it referred to as a subsistence.

    And, while it makes little difference to the bottom line, I think it makes an emotional difference to know that the General Authorities aren’t living off of tithing funds. It would make me slightly queasy to think that the first world luxuries the General Authorities enjoy were being paid for by the money sacrificed by a single mother from Ghana.

  69. California Condor says:

    Highest paid Church employee:

    Bronco Mendenhall, head coach, BYU football. $500,000.

  70. Nick Literski says:

    The fact is that once they are called, they cannot work to bring in income and they have to have some way to provide for their families.

    Actually, many prominent general authorities (particularly apostles and members of the First Presidency) publish books which, due to their ecclesiastical position, are virtually guaranteed substantial sales. Thus they are able to earn substantial royalties.

  71. OK – This is third party information at best but I have heard that GAs are promised that they will “have sufficient for thier needs.” I have always imagined that they live in nice , but not opulent houses, drive Chevys or Buicks and get their clothes at Mr. Mac’s. Their children, if they still have young ones, will be educated free of charge at BYU and they pay for other “needs” using a church charge card that is paid at church headquarters. Does that sound reasonable?

  72. I didn’t know, but I had wondered.

    So do Mission Presidents recieve an allowance, too? David and I have thought about serving a mission when we are older, but since we’re not independantly weathy, we’ve wondered how we’lla actually be able to do it.

  73. Nick, it was my understanding that GAs typically do not receive much in terms of royalties on their publications. Do you have any data in this respect?

  74. a random John says:

    john f.,

    I consider myself a reasonably well informed member of the Church and I had always been told that the 1st quorum of the 70 on up lived the law of consecration rather than getting a salary.

    I never really understood this.

    I’ve also heard that Huntsman refused calls in the past because of that.

  75. Eric Russell says:

    “The average EQ teacher puts a lot of time and effort into creating a professional and uplifting presentation”

    What ward is this, Steve?

  76. re #74- anybody think that Mitt has turned down any such callings? If this whole Presidential thing doesn’t work out, he’ll probably be a mission president within a couple of months.

  77. Nick Literski says:

    Sadly, I don’t, Steve. Do you have any data to support that they “do not receive much in terms or royalties,” or are we just back to square one? In any case, it remains an income stream for them, to at least some degree.

  78. mapinguari says:

    Is it possible that the GAs follow the law of consecration WRT their assets, including future gains from book sales, etc.?

    Whatever GBH receives, it’s apparently enough for him to buy some expensive suit-tie-cufflink combinations.

  79. re # 74, that’s interesting arJ. I had never heard of that before reading your comment here. Were you joking? Who told you that?

  80. California Condor says:

    Nick (70),

    I’m no expert of the publishing industry but I imagine that a book has to be a mega-hit to bring in any siginificant money. I’m sure that Elder Gerald Lund raked in lots of money with the Work and the Glory series since it was a runaway hit. And Professor Stephen Robinson (not a GA, just a BYU professor) probably hauled in a mountain of cash with Believing Christ since it was the dominant LDS book of the 1990s. But I would imagine that most titles languish on the shelves of Deseret Book and might even be money-losers.

  81. I noticed that in the last conference, there was a talk (I *think* it might have been Elder Holland’s talk) that spoke to Church members being able to explain the basics of our faith to non-members. It included a statement about how “local church leadership is entirely unpaid” (or words to that affect), rather than the usual “lay ministry” phrasing. This seems more accurate to me, as General Authorities really are professional ecclesiastical leaders, no matter how you slice it. For President Hinckley in particular, he’s been in the Church’s employ for most of his adult life.

    I’m not particular about what to call it, though I think “salary” is probably more honest than “stipend” or “allowance.” (The former seems to temporary, and the latter to juvenile.) Maybe it could be referred to as Mammon from Heaven.

  82. mapinguari says:

    Also, WRT to GBH’s comments as quoted in #49 that “the living allowances given the General Authorities, which are very modest in comparison with executive compensation in industry and the professions” may still be very large in comparison to the median income in the U.S.

  83. Nick, I am not even sure that they receive any personal income off of those books, to be honest. It’s natural to assume that they do, but I would not be surprised to hear that they don’t or that most of them opt to donate any gains to the Church or to their families.

  84. California Condor says:

    arJ (74),

    I’m not sure if I buy Jon Huntsman turing callings down. He is now a lower-tiered Area Authority Seventy. In the 1980s when I was a kid in Salt Lake he was my stake president. If I remember correctly, Huntsman was gearing up for a run for governor of Utah, and a former business associate brought out some serious dirt on Huntsman about how Huntsman stole a trade secret to start his chemical business (or something to that effect… I might be off base). Perhaps this political dirt is why Huntsman has not been offered a higher-tier GA position.

  85. Ahem…yes, I know the difference between “to” and “too.” Why do you ask?

  86. By the way, regarding local leadership, Mormons did once upon a time pay a stipend/salary/whatever to some local leaders, including the bishop, the stake president, and the ward clerk. This ended some time shortly after the turn of the 20th century. While the salaries were fairly modest, so also are the salaries paid to many preachers in other Christian denominations.

  87. 83: steve, this varies, though they have begun to talk about what the best policy might be. a large number of them give directly all royalties to the humanitarian or missionary funds of the church, but there is no official requirement.

    more generally: the stipends are not fantastic but they’re not meager, some of the wealthier ones just don’t collect their stipend, and Matthew Cowley has hilarious stories about his stipend making him a welfare recipient who fit in well with the working class.

    What do professional clergy call their compensation? That might be a place to start.

    If I get some time, I’ll try to throw together a post about this specific problem in the early church. It’s fascinating to see what Sidney Rigdon, Joseph and Hyrum Smith and a couple others did in order to try to support their families while devoting their full time to the church.

  88. Highest paid Church employee:

    Bronco Mendenhall, head coach, BYU football. $500,000.

    Paid from tithing money, to boot.

  89. tracy, mission presidents do have a living allowance. wealthy ones tend to decline it.

  90. mission presidents do have a living allowance. wealthy ones tend to decline it.

    I’m also under the impression that some degree of financial independence (though not necessarily wealth per se) is a prerequisite for being called as a MP, as well as an SP or a GA.

  91. 1. Regarding #49, I find it interesting that GAs’ salaries should be compared to, or be in the same ballpark as, “executive compensation.” What does this say about the assumptions behind their work? Are they executives, shepherds, teachers, managers? It only seems to reinforce the “manager” model. Why not compare their salaries to teachers’ salaries? Which is another group that works too hard and is expected to do too much.
    2. Isn’t the original thread simply questioning the notion that paying the top clergy but not the local clergy is somehow inherently superior to churches who do pay the local clergy? I can’t think of a Christian church in which no one earns income from the church, and I can think of plenty with smaller central administrations because by nature they focus on local congregations. Whether it’s called a stipend or living allowance or salary doesn’t make much difference, in my view; I think the author is right that some terms just might make you feel better.

  92. The problem that always comes up with this discussion is similar to the one we encounter in the “Are Mormons Christians” argument. The definition of what a Christian is according to the creeds is different than what we consider a Christian to be. The word “clergy” is Greek in origin and it means “that which is allotted or something assigned by lot or inheritance” and historically applies specifically to the local ministers of specific congregations-namely bishops, priests, deacons. By orthodox Christian definition, “theologians” are not considered clergy-and in many ways they echo our own CES teachers etc.

    By the universally original definitions of both clergy and theologians, the LDS Church does NOT have a paid clergy and no orthodox Christian would say otherwise. Our General Authorities and First Presidency have been ordained deacons, teachers, priests, and then elders and high priests but do not serve in local ministries or as leaders of specific congregations, and almost all of the oldest orthodox religions do not classify their own “church officials” as clerics or clergy-even though they also have the ability and authority to perform the duties of lower “Holy Orders”.

    While the LDS Church does ordain members to be deacons, teachers, priests and bishops, it does not remove them from the “laic” class and therefore does not use or recognize the term “clergy” at all. Because it is impossible for the Church to pay or not pay positions that don’t exist within our organization, we would be more accurate when responding to questions from non-members by stating that we have no clergy and our Church is run by lay members. As the highest “officials” in our Church-the 12 and 1st Presidency simply hold offices that come with a living expense and would not be viewed by orthodox religions as being clergy anyway.

    * I haven’t had a chance to read through the last 40 posts, but in response to “where” the money for their living expenses comes from-it does not come from tithing. It comes from the income generated by Church investments and businesses. Tithing funds are used for such purposes as the building and maintenance of meetinghouses, temples, and other facilities, as well as for the partial support of the missionary, educational, and Welfare programs of the Church.

  93. As the highest “officials” in our Church-the 12 and 1st Presidency simply hold offices that come with a living expense and would not be viewed by orthodox religions as being clergy anyway.

    That’s an excellent and important point.

  94. Salary/stipend amounts are unimportant. The real indicator of wealth in America today is good health insurance. Anyone know what the GA health insurance plan is? Does it continue into emeritus status? Any co-pays?

  95. $500K in TITHING money? Are you KIDDING me??

  96. Anyone know what the GA health insurance plan is?

    Or if it includes coverage for mental health?

  97. Tracy, all BYU employees receive their checks from BYU, which is an institution that is heavily subsidized by the Church. It’s not accurate to say that Mendenhall’s salary is “tithing money,” although the Church does subsidize his employer.

  98. I might technically be wrong, Tracy. I’m definitely not an expert on Church funding. But I’ve always been told that BYU is run, top to bottom, with tithing dollars.

  99. Kevin Barney says:

    Justin #90, that’s the one! You are amazing. Thanks for finding it; it makes for a nice illustration for this discussion, I think.

  100. Steve got there first — and with a better answer.

  101. Melinda, as a primary shareholder (and former sole owner) of Intermountain Health Care, I believe that the Church does just fine for health insurance for its employees and General Authorities.

  102. I think it should be clarified that living allowances are not given willy-nilly. For instance mission presidents have to submit a strict budget describing their expected expenditures for a year, each year they are serving. At least that is my understanding, I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong.

  103. Brad, BYU isn’t run exclusively with tithing dollars, not by a wide margin. As with any academic institution they receive alumni donations, have a trust fund and numerous patents, etc. on which they derive income.

  104. That makes me feel ill. It’s bad enough the huge gulf between what teachers and athletes make, but that my tithing dollars are subsidizine such a gross miscarriage of salary injustice is… well, it disturbs me.

  105. Thanks for the clarification, Steve.

  106. Evidently, Tracy, as Steve has pointed out, it’s not as bad as I made it seem with my shoot-from-the-hip speculation.

  107. Tracy, it disturbs many people — the issue of disproportionate funding for sports programs is something that haunts every college in the United States. BYU’s football program is an enormously popular legacy that makes the university very important in the public eye, but whether the salaries are just and the use of funds appropriate is a matter of debate. But the Y is not unique in this dilemma.

  108. Brad,


  109. Doh! Note to self: Hit refresh before submitting.

  110. #91: “I’m also under the impression that some degree of financial independence (though not necessarily wealth per se) is a prerequisite for being called as a MP, as well as an SP or a GA.”

    You’re under a mistaken impression then. While many MPs and GAs are financially independent, many are not. Several GAs, for example, worked in CES before becoming GAs, and working for CES does not lead to financial independence. My father was a MP, and finances were a pretty serious concern during the mission, even with the living expense stipend. (“Stipend” for a mission president makes more sense to me, since mission presidents serve only for a limited time, and the money is spefically designated for living expenses.)

  111. Kyle,
    I know — I paid it. Evidently it wasn’t worthwhile investment, since the education it purchased didn’t teach me to think for four seconds before typing absurdly illogical comments. :)

  112. BTD Greg,
    See # 112

  113. California Condor says:

    Also, BYU football is an income-generating asset. The Las Vegas Bowl (where BYU will likely play this year) has a payout of $1,000,000 per team. And of course there are ticket revenues. But the program probably also costs a lot in coaching staff salaries, jerseys, helmets, pads, cleats, etc. and stadium maintenance. The program very well may be running at a net loss. But then again, it generates a lot of external publicity and alumni goodwill that might be worth it.

  114. Brad – I saw #112. What was I supposed to have gathered from that? That you didn’t get much out of your BYU education?

  115. BTD = Begging to DIE!!!

  116. Does BYU need external publicity or a reason to foster additional alumni goodwill? If it is running a net loss, get rid of it.

  117. The bloggernacle is such a mean and hateful place. I’m retreating back to the secular blogosphere where I belong.


  118. AHLDuke (#46),

    The original name of Deseret First Credit Union was LDS Church Employees Credit Union. For several years, credit unions had relatively open membership and expansion policies, but a Supreme Court decision limited credit union membership to a single group with “a common bond of occupation or association, or to groups within a well-defined neighborhood, community, or rural district.”

    The consequence was that Deseret First Credit Union was required to limit membership to those having some affiliation with the LDS Church and their close relatives. So it is not particularly surprising that they target their advertising at the only audience they are legally allowed to serve.

  119. The other issue with Bronco’s salary is that there is a national market for college head coaches. Many of them make over 1MM annually. In order to attract a good coach in the national market one must pay a market salary. Based on the last couple of years Bronco is a steal at just 500K

  120. Eric Russell says:

    From the BYU Athletic Department:

    Most of the funding used for BYU’s athletic programs comes from football and men’s basketball ticket sales. Additional funds are obtained through corporate sponsors, the fundraising efforts of the Cougar Club, and private donations. The university does provide a small amount of funding, but no tithing dollars from members of the LDS Church are used to run the athletic programs.

  121. MAC, yes it does. Yes it does. No, they shouldn’t.

  122. Begging-To-Die Greg,
    It was my tacit acknowledgment that I had posted in ignorance.

    [furrows brow shamefully]

  123. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 114 Doubtful. College sports are major sources of income for big universities. I’m sure BYU footmall makes a lot of money for the U, just as Michigan football makes a fortune for my alma mater.

  124. relevant data on College football coaches. Bronco is way way down the list.

    Bronco is way ahead of a lot of these coaches in the BCS standings. He is a bargain….

  125. Rather than just looking at the cost of BYU sports, it may well do much better to look at the subsidy on tuition at BYU. When tithing money paid by impoverished but faithful members is used to subsizide the tuition of a student whose family can easily afford it (dentist, doctor, lawyer, etc.), there’s the closest thing to a scandal we get in the church, in my view. It would be much better to charge a realistic tuition (at least that of a similarly ranked public university) and then use tithing money to ensure that students with real need are able to attend.

  126. Shout out, Mike. When did you graduate? I myself, along with brood, just started grad school here this Fall.

  127. When I refer to the subsidy on tuition, what I mean is the difference between operating expenses and revenues that is made up with tithing dollars. I’m not saying that no tithing dollars should be used–there are a number of functions that BYU performs which should recieve the support of concecrated monies–but the regular education that students recieve should be paid for at the going rate. Especially given that there are far too few classroom spaces to accomodate more than a small fraction of the population of LDS college students.

  128. #88

    Highest paid Church employee:

    Bronco Mendenhall, head coach, BYU football. $500,000.

    Paid from tithing money, to boot


    And you are positive about that or are you guessing? A far more logical guess would be that because he is university staff, that his salary comes from the tuition generated by that university.

    Most people don’t know this-but it has never been a secret- the LDS Church has a philanthropic organization that raises funds/donations/scholarships for all of the Church owned schools and universities (besides doing all kinds of other amazing things) and tens of millions of dollars flow through it every year. Not one dollar that they ever see is a tithing dollar. You should also know that all “Church” employees do NOT get the same benefits as university employees and vice versa. For example, none of the people (or their children or spouses) who work for the above mentioned organization get to attend BYU for free or at a discount, nor do they have any “pull” at getting their kid accepted over someone else’s.

  129. When tithing money paid by impoverished but faithful members is used to subsizide the tuition of a student whose family can easily afford it

    It’s my understanding that tithing money is used in the country where it was paid first. So tithing paid by that impoverished South American family (for example) stays in South America. It is supplemented by tithing sent from the U.S. and Canada.

    So the tithing of members of impoverished countries never reaches BYU; it stays home. The dentists, doctors and lawyers who send their kids to BYU also pay enough tithing to fund the building for the impoverished South American tithe payer.

    You are correct to worry that tithing from the faithful impoverished in countries that generate more tithing than they need to cover their expenses (the U.S. and Canada) might end up at BYU. However, you need not worry that African, South American, or tithing dollars from any country with a small Church membership are going to BYU.

  130. California Condor says:

    Melinda (130),

    That’s interesting, and reassuring. But where did you get this information?

  131. Melinda, the point was not “impoverished countries” but “impoverished members.” There are many very poor but tithing-faithful Saints right here in the USA, even in Utah, even in Provo, who can’t afford to send their children to BYU but who do help to subsidize the children of those wealthy members.

  132. I never said anything about country; In my experience in the US, I’ve known realtively few members with incomes substantially above the median income; and more than a few have lived quite near the poverty line, if not below it.

  133. California Condor says:

    Great, now I feel guilty for going to BYU on the dime of poor Mormons.

  134. As well you should, CC :-).

    When I had to drop out of BYU due to lack of funds, I resented what seemed like constant telephone fund raisers urging me to donate to BYU. And since this was back in the era when the decision was made to expand the stadium rather than expand the library (a sin since rectified), I ***REALLY*** resented those calls.

  135. CC, but now you are wealthy and subsidizing someone else, so it all works out in the long run, right?

  136. Tracy and TMD-
    Tithing dollars do not pay BYU football coach salaries.
    The Church has NUMEROUS charitable giving programs (such as the perpetual education fund etc) and LDS Foundation grants to HELP and assist underprivileged students attend college.

    Call me old fashioned or conservative or even just plain rude, but I must say this:

    Making broad statements that can be interpreted as facts about the Church and which funds pay for what things, without doing your homework first is irresponsible and paints the Church falsely as an evil financial machine. (and that can be clearly seen by the reactions of some readers in this thread) IF any of the stunned readers bother to dig up the real facts after reading some of these posts, I’m fairly sure it isn’t going to do much to support the idea that bloggernacle participants (and BCC participants in particular) are educated enough to be a reliable source of information.

    Sorry if that insulted anyone, but I needed to say it.

  137. Hey! I never went to BYU, and I subsidize it, so quit complaining!

  138. Brad said: “It was my tacit acknowledgment that I had posted in ignorance.”

    Fair enough. I appreciate the candor.

    You know, it’s not the first time I’ve heard this. I wonder where this idea originates. I suppose it’s probably a function of the “wealth = prosperity = righteousness” argument that seems to persist.

  139. tosh, I don’t think you needed to say it. Really.

  140. Kermit,

    It doesn’t matter if you DO have the money to get your kid into BYU or not-if their grades aren’t high enough-they wouldn’t get in anyway. Most of the kids who earn the grade point average AND meet the other requirements for attending qualify for scholarships anyway. The enrollment cap keeps far more kids out of BYU than poverty does. JFYI.

  141. I for one will lobby eternally for the tuition to remain where it is. If you want to impoverish the poor, take away their opportunities for higher education.

  142. California Condor says:

    MAC (117),

    I have heard an apocryphal story about President Monson about him ordering a large-screen televsion from R. C. Willey and phoning the store to rush the delivery of the new TV because there was a Utah Jazz game coming on that he didn’t want to miss. Apparently he’s a big sports fan.

    So BYU probably won’t be cutting football while he is president of the Church. Although it is interesting to note that BYU-Idaho terminated its sports programs…

  143. Tosh: The scandal seems most eggregious one considers that high gpa correlates (of course imperfectly, but there is still an association) with high income, and thus most of the beneficiaries are people whose families, or themselves, can pay more.

    But the tinge of scandal of the model of BYU funding is not really the point. Asked more simply as a policy question,
    Why should the church use consecrated funds to pay for the regular education of a small fraction of its members who can afford to do so, while the rest of its members have to pay more for an equivalent education (at another private institution, or at a public one) by dint of slightly lower grades or SAT scores?

    I’m not saying ‘no byu’ or ‘no tithing at byu,’ but rather asking if it might make more sense to adopt a financing model more akin to other private institutions with (in their cases, endowments) additional resources beyond tutition, like Harvard or Grinell, or even the small college I atteneded (1300 students, endowment of >$240M), where those resources are used (among other things) to make up the difference between a price that reflects cost of education and the cost to student when that price would make attendance unattainable.

    And frankly, I highly doubt that the endowment and foundation support at BUY are such that tithing plays no role in funding the regular education of each student, given the low tuition number.

  144. Tosh,
    Doing your homework is a laudable goal, but based on my memory of your storm of comments over the last couple of weeks, I don’t think of you as being in much of a position to criticize someone for not doing her homework.

  145. second para, second sentence should be
    ‘…for the regular education of the small fraction of lds college students at BYU, many of whom could afford to pay more for said education, while…’

  146. We are pretty good friends with a few different families who have served as mission presidents and although they are not all independently wealthy (although, I must say of the 7 I know personally, 5 of them are quite wealthy) the one thing I know is an absolute requirement is that they can’t have any debt. This is true whether they are CES employees or own a multi-million dollar lumber company.

    I also know of 2 of those families who sold their home and all that they had and donated every dime of it to the church. My understanding is that in return, they are living the law of consecration. I am not sure the details, I thought it would be rude to ask – but this is what I was told, that as long as they are working for the church in some capacity, all their needs will be cared for. They have told all of their adult children that they will not be receiving any sort of inheritance when they die – the money has all been given to the church. They’ve been mission presidents and temple president and now are working in another capacity on a church construction project.

    Kind of a threadjack – sorry.

  147. A little vague (sorry, I don’t have permission to share the source at the moment) historical information, FWIW.

    One GA who was a seventy in the 1950s (and later became an apostle) was paid a monthly salary of less than $600 in the early 1950s, and so relied on author royalties for books he wrote (for Bookcraft or Deseret Book) as an important supplement to his family income.

    Some time after that there was a significant increase in his salary, due to at least one apostle (Delbert Stapley) advocating for more competitive salaries.

  148. Kevin,

    In #18 above, you presume that apostles and First Presidency members get higher stipends/salaries than seventies.

    I believe I have read that all apostles, seventy, and First Presidency members were put on the same “pay scale” sometime in the 1960s – 1970s.

    (I don’t recall the source offhand, but I believe it may have been an old Dialogue article. Or maybe it was the Prince/Wright McKay bio. Or Quinn’s “Extensions of Power.” It seems that the same source discussed the bretheren’s consideration of instituting an emeritus status for apostles–the context was that McKay was ill and Smith was old, and some GAs felt that Lee would have much more longevity. Does that article/source ring a bell to you?)

    Of course, additional general quorums of seventy have been added since then. They may have a differing compensation, since members of the second quorum only serve for five years, and area authority seventies generally keep their full-time employment.

  149. “The one thing I know is an absolute requirement is that they can’t have any debt.”

    Sorry, but you’re wrong. Unless you mean to exclude mortgages from debt (only Church-sanctioned kinds of debt, perhaps?). My parents carried a mortgage during their time as mission president.

    I’m also highly suspicious of the Law of Consecration families.

  150. Justin to the rescue – again?

  151. I think this thread is pretty indicative of how much we lay members know about the management and operation of our church on any hierarchical level. Hours of fun!

  152. California Condor says:

    You can live like a king in Provo/Orem on $500,000 a year.

  153. Another latecomer thought:

    I would rather have the GAs paid an adequate stipend/salary by the church, than to have GAs depend on multiple board appointments, book sales, or other outside activities to subsidize their living.

    I understand that earlier in the 20th century, apostles used to sit on many different corporate and non-profit boards, but this practice seems to have diminished in the last couple of decades. Perhaps the church has become more able to support its GAs as membership has grown. I view this change in practice as a postive thing.

  154. CC, 500K/yr isn’t enough when you remind me he has to live down there.

  155. I’m sure they receive profits on the books they write while authorities. Deseret Book: Profits for Prophets!

  156. I’m also under the impression that some degree of financial independence (though not necessarily wealth per se) is a prerequisite for being called as a MP, as well as an SP or a GA.

    Not in the case of a man I know who had a large family, taught at BYU, had just returned from a one-year leave (half salary, perhaps), and was hoping to get back on his feet financially, when the call came to be a mission president. I still don’t know if he’s recovered from that financial hole.

  157. Bandanamom,

    My father served as a mission president, is definitely not wealthy, and carried a mortgage the whole time. My parents leased out our house while they were gone.

    The other LoC stuff sounds more legendary than real.

  158. You can live like a king in Provo/Orem on $500,000 a year.

    But then you’d have to live in Provo/Orem.

  159. Re: 148–Why don’t you just say “Bruce R. McConkie”? There were only seven “Seventies” who were General Authorities back in the 50’s, so the one who fits your description isn’t hard to find.

  160. TMD-

    While the Church and tithing dollars do pay for buildings and property maintenance etc of Church universities and schools, I haven’t seen any authoritative evidence that the Church uses tithing dollars to pay the TUITION (or lower the tuition)of ANY student attending Church owned schools.

    According to the stats listed on BYU’s official website, the average GPA and SAT scores for BYU freshmen this Fall was 3.78 and 27.9. I have two college students and none of their friends who currently attend BYU have families that would be considered “high income” by any means and all of them used a partial or full scholarship of some kind because their parents cannot afford any form of tuition. But it isn’t the cost of tuition that kept 25% (2600+) of the applicants from attending BYU this fall, it was the fact there there just isn’t room for them.

    BYU receives substantial endowments from many sources but the only thing I can tell you is that I was married to someone who worked for the LDS foundation and as of around 10 years ago, they were handling donations (again-they do not handle tithing dollars in any way) close to 100 million a year and growing.

    Either way, I’m fairly certain that the salary of the football coach wouldn’t be a priority for tithing dollars-especially when less than half of the ticket sales from one home game would cover him for a year.

  161. Why are there so many Provo / Orem haters on this website? Ever been there? It’s not half bad.

  162. CC, it’s not half good, either.

  163. Which half isn’t bad?

  164. Tosh: Buildings and maintenance are part of the operation expenses of the school. Everywhere else, they are paid for from the general fund (which is where tuituion goes). By having that expense covered by an outside fund, the income required to meet remaining operational costs is correspondingly lowered. Hence, the tutiion required to balance the budget is smaller. As such, EVERYONE who goes to BYU is implicitly having part of their their tuition paid by tithing funds.

  165. Sam B., the navajo taco half.

  166. Well, for starters, you have the river bottom area off of University (in Orem). Then, in Provo, there are some nice neighborhoods up on the hill. (By TimpView High). You’d think twice about smearing Provo/Orem if you drove these areas.

  167. CC, I must admit that most of my time in Provo was behind bars (MTC), but I had been there a couple other times. That’s enough.

  168. Many thanks to Posh aka toshh (and any other brilliant future incarnations)for so willingly providing another example of the kind of behavior that reflects negatively on the credibility and intelligence of those who participate here. There is no way I could have done it the justice that you have-bravo!

  169. CC,
    I’ve at least driven through all of those areas, and I wouldn’t give up my non-Provo/Orem two-bedroom apartment for a mansion in any of them. (Plus I could probably find a Navajo taco around here somewhere; I’m sure Steve could direct me in the way to go.)

  170. OK, fine, but where would you want to raise a family of four kids: Provo or Manhattan. I think the answer is a slam dunk.

  171. Yes: Manhattan.

  172. Amen, Steve.

  173. Might I direct the discussion towards the question of why the Church is not more transparent in these matters? The mystery only stirs controversy, and GBH’s public responses (e.g., tithing is between the Church and its members) don’t hold water because we ARE members and we obviously don’t know what’s going on.

    So, friends of the policy, why is the Church so determined to keep its finances hidden?

  174. Provo is awesome. They have three (count them, three) used bookstores on their historic Main Street that ends in the library. You have to love any town that has three (did I mention there were three?) used bookstores and a library in its business district, all within walking distance of each other.

  175. (Manhattanites coughing politely in snobby undertones at Melinda’s quaint defense of Provo)

  176. Eric Russell says:

    Melinda, Richard has combined his two stores into one, so now there are only two.

  177. Eric Russell says:

    But agreed that Provo is awesome nonetheless. Does Manhattan have a mountain with a giant Y on it? That’s what I thought.

  178. 178 – But it doesn’t have a building for King Kong to climb on, now does it?

  179. Steve Evans says:

    Jacob — Four letters to humble your ignr’ant comment: SWKT.

  180. But that tower is only big enough for Cain’s descendant, not King Kong!

  181. TMD, your #144 assumes that LDS students who don’t go to BYU do so because they got lower grades. Some of us got better grades to get a better than equivalent education so we wouldn’t HAVE to go to BYU. But I still pay for other kids to do it anyway.

  182. “Cain’s descendant” — a conspicuous bit of Mormon lore.

    Or is it

  183. AHLDuke: Ummm,yes, so did I, and so do I. I’m just asking if the current system can’t be improved upon…

  184. OK, fine, but where would you want to raise a family of four kids: Provo or Manhattan.

    Ditch them both and move to Kansas City. Or Memphis. Or Louisville. Or Durango.

    Seriously, Manhattan? Ugh. Have your children live somewhere with a soul.

  185. Regarding paid ministry –

    I’ve been doing the tithing settlement thing the last few nights as a low-level ward functionary. Tonight, one sister coming in for tithing settlement brought a basket filled with individually foil-wrapped loaves of pumpkin bread for the clerks and bishop and counselors that were present. Best church pay I’ve had in a while.

  186. Excerpt from Extensions of Power:

    Paid Ministry

  187. queuno: What will you tell the dear sister when she asks if you sent her tithing to Salt Lake?

  188. On football … I never did go to a game. Bought tickets for the reunion and gave them away and spent the time building some furniture for my daughter at BYU, but, BYU did some serious economic analysis before expanding the stadium.

    It is easy enough to state that the stadium and the football program operate at a net profit, but the question everyone had was how much of that was really parasitic drag (where people who give to football would have given anyway)? Once you correct for parasitic drag, probably only 15-20% of the football programs in the US generate net revenue.

    BYU is one of them. The program is a net revenue generator of substantial margins, with proper econometric calculations rather than fannish wishful thinking approaches.

    to ignore the couple hundred General Authorities who are paid

    Who, btw, are generally outnumbered by the janitors who are paid. The LDS Church pays more for janitorial services than it does for ministerial. Always struck me as significant.

  189. Marion G. Romney found that his church “allowance amounted to less than half of what he was earning from his law practice when he was called as a General Authority.”82 Appointed an apostle that same year, Harold B. Lee found that his financial allowance was less than the salary of some staff members at LDS headquarters.83 As was true in the nineteenth-century hierarchy, a significant drop in income and personal wealth occurred when a man accepted the calling of LDS general authority.84

    Interesting link there.

  190. Fwiw, Norm Chow made multiple times more as the Offensive Coordinator at USC than he would have made as the Head Coach at BYU. Kim Clark took a HUGE pay and prestige cut when he left Harvard to become the President of BYU-Idaho, especially when you consider that he was getting serious attention as a candidate for the Harvard University President vacancy filled by Drew Gilpin Faust.

  191. a random John says:

    Ha! We’re all clueless! And we trumpet the superiority of our lay clergy all the time without the slightest clue that we are clueless. Doubly clueless! Justin is excepted.

  192. Justin and Ardis are always excepted. They are only here to be the exceptions that prove the rule.

  193. I admit I haven’t read any comments yet. My take on the premise is as follows.

    The 1040s of GA’s have W-2’s stapled to them just like other employees. They report amounts paid as “Wages, tips, other compensation” to employees. Dress it up any way you want. In the context of broad US culture that is the way it is and I see no need for perfume. Anyone who knows the facts and financial realities in the marketplace realizes how underpaid they are. But then, I always think I am underpaid, too.

  194. Maybe they could start a hedge fund and be compensated with carried interest.

  195. If Steve and SamB’s endorsements of Manhattan haven’t sent you packing for the Big Apple, check out a fine Personal Voices essay in the latest Dialogue: Seeds of Faith in City Soil: Growing Up Mormon in New York City by Neylan McBaine. She writes that “New York gave me my testimony. Or, more accurately, the city acted as a sacred conduit in which I could confront feelings and have experiences that led me to Christ.”
    Sorry, it’s not online yet. Check in the library or, better yet, buy it. (Hey, just spreading the seasonal spirit of shameless merchandizing!)

  196. ed johnson says:

    I just learned at this Mormon Stories video interview that children of General Authorities are automatically admitted to BYU, and they pay no tuition. I’m very surprised, and in fact I wouldn’t even believe it was true if the source wasn’t so credible.

    One wonders what other perquisites come with being a GA.

  197. Tracy:

    I’m not sure if you saw Eric Russell’s comment relating to whether tithing funds are used to run BYU’s sports program so wanted to repeat it here:

    Most of the funding used for BYU’s athletic programs comes from football and men’s basketball ticket sales. Additional funds are obtained through corporate sponsors, the fundraising efforts of the Cougar Club, and private donations. The university does provide a small amount of funding, but no tithing dollars from members of the LDS Church are used to run the athletic programs.

    This explanation opens the door to debate whether tithing funds from members of other religions are used to run BYU’s athletic programs but seems pretty conclusive with regard to tithing funds of Latter-day Saints.

  198. Left Field says:

    My understanding and experience is that a salary is compensation based on the value of one’s services. A stipend may be nominal or substantial, but is compensation acknowledged as less than the value of services rendered. This source indicates that a stipend is lower than a regular salary because it is accompanied by other benefits “such as accreditation, instruction, work experience, food, accommodation, and personal satisfaction.”

    Stipend seems the appropriate term for general authorities, unless they receive pay comparable to that received by the top executives in other nonprofit or charitable organizations. To call their pay a salary would imply that they are compensated monetarily for the full market value of their services. It was recently reported that the national scout executive receives nearly $1 million in salary. He may be overpaid, but I somehow doubt GA compensation is in that neighborhood.

    Presumably, the balance of the GAs compensation is mostly intangible “personal satisfaction” from serving in a church calling.

  199. “The one thing I know is an absolute requirement is that they can’t have any debt.”

    Sorry, but you’re wrong. Unless you mean to exclude mortgages from debt (only Church-sanctioned kinds of debt, perhaps?). My parents carried a mortgage during their time as mission president.

    I’m also highly suspicious of the Law of Consecration families.

    Every family I know who has served in the past 3 years has told me there is a no debt requirement. I do not know for certain if this includes a mortgage or not. But the CES family I knew sold their house so they would not have a mortgage.

    You are welcome to be suspicious of the law of consecration families but one of them I am quite close to, and I can assure you, that is what they’ve done.

    I can’t give more details than that.

  200. Let me also make it clear – I do not think this law of consecration is a requirement for all GAs. But I think it is an option for some.

    Perhaps it would help also to understand that this particular family has been serving since the early 80s – and they have served more or less continuously since then with a few “breaks” lasting no more than a few months.

  201. queno,
    We could move out of Manhattan and raise our daughter somewhere with a soul . . . or we could stay here, and raise her somewhere with many souls, plus playgrounds every four or five blocks, plus high-end restaurants that are child-friendly, plus museums, plus dogs everywhere, plus the really cool Quebequois on the corner selling Christmas trees, plus live jazz, dance, theater, etc. year-round. And did I mention the farmer’s markets?

    No offense to Kansas City, et al. I’m sure they’re all great choices. But seriously, a place with only one soul? (Or, as we learn elsewhere, daemon?)

  202. “Every family I know who has served in the past 3 years has told me there is a no debt requirement. I do not know for certain if this includes a mortgage or not. But the CES family I knew sold their house so they would not have a mortgage.

    You are welcome to be suspicious of the law of consecration families but one of them I am quite close to, and I can assure you, that is what they’ve done.

    I can’t give more details than that.”

    I don’t mean to be antagonistic, but I know of one family (mine) in which the mission president and his wife (my parents) carried debt while they were serving (their mortgage). Mortgage is debt. Maybe they are limited in the kinds of debt they can have (i.e., home mortgages are okay, but consumer credit card debt is not–in which case they could get around it by refinancing their home), but I’m not sure. One other commenter here said it was the same with his parents.

    In some cases, it might make sense to sell your house, but it didn’t for my parents. At the time, the IRS’s rules (I think they’ve been changed since then, but I’m not a tax lawyer or a CPA) did not allow you to sell your home and not buy another one for three years without being taxed on the capital gain. This was the biggest reason they rented the home while they were serving, but even renting, it was pretty tight for them.

    I suppose that it’s possible that the rule has changed since my parents served seven years ago, but I hope that’s not the case. I’d hate for this Church to become one that’s run by an theocracy of wealth. There’s already too much emphasis on material success (as an indication of righteousness) in our culture, in my opinion.

  203. To California Condor:

    What’s wrong with Provo/Orem?

    I should know–I lived most of my first 19 years there. And the problem is that the place has been completely Californicated in the 30 years since I left.

    And, to whoever asked where you’d want to raise your four kids, Provo/Orem or Manhattan, I have an easy answer: Brooklyn.

    My five kids seem to have done fine here.

    Finally, to all those who suggest that income from football exceeds expenses, and that no tithing dollars fund the sports business at BYU and yada yada yada.

    A dollar is a dollar is a dollar. Every dollar that goes to the temple of sweat is a dollar that doesn’t go to the temple of learning. And don’t even start with the stuff about big-time college football covering its costs. The FBS (is that what it’s called now?–if so, the BS part is most appropriate) schools are the most creative accountants in the world when it comes to reporting about the revenues/expenses of football programs. At least BYU doesn’t lie like the others–it just doesn’t disclose any numbers.

  204. California Condor says:

    Mark B. (204)


    What’s that supposed to mean?

    By the way, the one time I went to Brooklyn was when I accidentally got off on the wrong subway stop, and it looked like a rough neighborhood. I was actually concerned for my own safety. I got right back on the subway as fast as I could.

  205. tosh #141, BYU actually admits the great majority of its applicants. It’s less selective than many state universities.

  206. Is that Mark B, served in the Kobe mission? Attorney? Son of BYU religion professor?

  207. I’m not bothered that we pay them, they work hard and if they aren’t personally wealthy, they need to live just as much as the rest of us.

    What bothers me is how Deseret Book takes their talks, puts them in books and people think they’re extra righteous if they buy all these books and I just don’t think it’s right to sell their books based on their status as a general authority.

  208. One thing I like about BYU is that it is apologetic about not letting in a fraction of those who apply, while other schools do tricks to drive up their rejection rates so U.S. News will love them for being so selective.

  209. Sort of off topic, but I heard something funny on the radio yesterday. We have this thing called “Tradio” where people call in and sell stuff, etc.

    The pastor the Baptist Church called and said they wanted to hire somebody for day care, at $8.50 an hour for Sundays.

    That just struck me as funny.

  210. John, that’s not true. Everyone knows only nerds apply to BYU.

  211. MAC–if this were baseball, you’d be batting .666, but I don’t think Dad would take kindly the suggestion that he taught religion.

    California Condor:

    I wouldn’t think that term would need a definition–it seems to be pretty clear on its face. But, if you must, try this, but don’t go there if reading a bad word will spoil your day.

    By the way, we try to make the neighborhoods around the subway stations look tough so that outsiders will get back on the subway, and then take the quickest way out of town to Scarsdale or Jersey.

  212. Mark B.

    Let me take another swing. Father of Maryanne (sp)?

  213. In the military, I got a “Rum Ration”….never mind.

  214. #212 Mark B: “neighborhoods around the subway stations look tough so that outsiders will get back on the subway” Isn’t that a line out of Tony Bennett’s: “I left my heart…in Brooklyn.”(?)

  215. #212: Mark B: Your not saying these bad things about California, because someone sold you a bridge in Brooklyn?

  216. MAC, now you’ve raised your average to .750–but chemistry still ain’t religion. And, since you have the drop on me: who are you? mebutler (at)

    Bob, I know Tony Bennett wanted to sing that, but “Brooklyn” wouldn’t fit the meter.

    I didn’t say anything bad about California. I think my only comment was about Provorem–that it had been Californicated. If you don’t believe that, take your time machine back to 1968 or so, and see how differnt the place was back then. Better, IMHO.

  217. Provo is like California was in 1968, and without California’s influence, Provo would still be like it was in 1958? What do we get to call the last four decades of change that California has experienced?

  218. #148, 160

    I’d rather have GAs making decent money than paying them a pittance and having them have to produce crap like the book “Mormon Doctrine” to keep their families alive. If McConkie was paid half decently in the 1950s, maybe things would have developed quite differently.

  219. Bro. Jones says:

    Re: #9 One of Mormonism’s clear failures is the absence of papal indulgences. Now that I actually have decent income, I would sincerely appreciate being able to buy influence with my GA. Buying my way out of sin would be so much quicker and more discreet than confessing to a bishop, and there could even be a preprinted form (like the tithing form) with sections for each of the deadly sins (plus “Not Putting Family First”), and appropriate “donations” based on income. Sign me up!

  220. Please forgive my ignorance, but do the RS and YW presidencies also receive salaries?

  221. No, they don’t. Not even when they’re single or widowed.


  222. Kristine, that might be one of the best answers to an ignorant question that I have read – ever. *grin*

  223. There are many misconceptions on this thread that could be corrected quickly by referencing sources instead of hearsay.

    Check Elder LeGrand Richards’ talk in the October 1979 General Conference where he spends half of the time talking about the living allowances General Authorities receive.

    Check The Encyclopedia of Mormonism’s entry on General Authorities and the one on Mission Presidents to see that both groups of men are given these allowances (mission presidents have a much smaller allowance as they are provided with a house, something only President Hinckley is provided with among the General Authorities).

    Check President Hinckley’s October 1985 Conference address where he states that the living allowances come not from tithing (which pays church employees’ salaries, curiously) but from the profits of church-owned businesses. The interesting thing about this is that church employees are expected to pay tithing on their salaries, while the living allowances given mission presidents and General Authorities are tithing-exempt (like the funds you received as a missionary, you pay fast offering once a month but that’s it).

    Check SLC area newspapers in 1996 for President Hinckley’s announcement that he directed all General Authorities to resign from their positions on business boards, church-owned or otherwise.

    Check the additional notes in the CD-ROM included in Lengthen Your Stride, the recent biography of President Kimball by his son published by Deseret Book, where his son states that having filed his father’s tax returns in the late 1950s, his allowance from the Church was $8000 annually, an amount which with inflation would be equivalent to $57,000 annually now. This source is also great for letting us know that members of the Second Quorum of the Seventy typically do not receive an allowance (but receive the other benefits accorded General Authorities) and that members of the First Quorum continue to receive the allowance as a retirement benefit when they are emeritized. When you look at the backgrounds of those called to both quorums, you begin to see the truth of this claim.

    Check Michael Quinn’s book Extensions of Power for documentation that President McKay adopted uniform living allowances for all General Authorities, regardless of position, during his ministry.

    None of the auxiliary presidency members are asked to devote their full-time to their callings, and are therefore not paid. This has nothing to do with gender! The Young Men and Sunday School presidencies are in the same boat, but they are reimbursed for travel expenses the same way a ward calling often would be.

    My neighbor is a Seventy and sold his business when he was called to serve a number of years ago. He maintains a discreet, unflashy lifestyle as far as I can tell, but he has expenses which need to be met, and I am sure uses his living allowance as any of the rest of us would use our salaries. We often see each other on the way to and from our respective offices, and I know he works very hard and travels a lot in his calling. One difference between him and me is that for the most part, my job stops when I leave the office. He is always a General Authority, which means he is constantly in demand for firesides, temple sealings, ad nauseam.

  224. I think that saying that the the money is not paid out of tithing is a little disingenuous.

    If my father gave me money, and I bought dividend paying stocks with that money, it would not be true to say that I didn’t live off of my fathers money, I lived off of my investments.

    Similarly, when members tithe, and investments are made with those tithes, it isn’t really true to say GA’s don’t receive their stipend/salary from tithing, that they receive it from business.

    I don’t have a problem with them receiving a stipend, but saying they don’t receive tithing money is a little like laundering money through investments.

    Just my 2 bits.

    Also, saying tithing from poor foreign countries supports BYU is not accurate in most cases I would guess. It has seemed to me that developing areas consume a lot more church resources, both in money and labor, than they produce, and are thus net importers of tithing funds.

  225. RE: Brian (#225)–

    I agree with you in principal, but let me point out one thing: Your analogy of living off your dad’s money isn’t entirely on point. If you invest your dad’s money and live solely off the interest, you never deplete the money your dad gave you (unless your investments go bad . . .) If you live solely off the interest, then your dad only has to contribute once. But if you were to live off your dad’s money, you would need him to periodically replenish your account so you could continue living.

    But I agree that the tithing/non-tithing fund distinction is not meaningful, except in a bookkeeping sense. From a big picture perspective, the church has “X” amount of total contributions/income to work with each year. If the church pays stipends to GAs, there is a little less left over to devote to building temples or funding missions or giving humanitarian aid. If the church paid GA stipends out of tithing or fast offering contributions rather than business income, then there would be less tithing or fast offerings to spend on other purposes, but there would be extra business income that could be spent for other purposes. The overall result would be more-or-less the same.