Talking To My Zelph

My quest for freedom from the LDS religion.

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Location: OA, Offworld

Thursday, May 03, 2007

A Testimony of Mormon Tithing

As mentioned in a previous post, here's the story of the woman who, when facing financial hardship, was turned away by her Bishop, even after faithfully paying her tithing for many years. This article is from the "Reflections On Leaving Mormonism" blog which can be found at


Tithing and Superstition

The issue of tithing was another sore point between my Mormon father and my non-Mormon mother. The Mormon church teaches that if you pay 10% of your gross income (which works out to about 15% of most peoples' net income) that you will be financially taken care of so that you never want for anything you need. Over and over again faith promoting rumors supporting this notion are repeated as fact in church talks and lessons. Many religions believe in tithing to a degree, and the Bible does make scant mention of it. Mormons, however, are probably singular in their enforcement of the principle of tithing. It's central to the Mormon church's tenets, even though it was not central to the teachings of Jesus Christ. They enforce the payment of tithing by blocking non-payers from attending the temple which prevents such from getting to the Celestial Kingdom which prevents their family from being eternal which prevents them from becoming gods. In short, tithing payment is unavoidable for the serious Mormon.

In spite of the fact that Utah consistently boasts some of the highest bankruptcy rates in the US, Mormons still believe that paying tithing will lead them to blessings both financial and personal. My dad's certainty of this was such that his fear of not paying was fanatical. My mom, however, was the one who paid the bills and controlled the money because my dad was so flighty. Bad things happened to my parents all the time, yet only when those bad things coincided with my mom not giving him enough tithing money did my dad equate the bad things with not paying tithing. In truth he almost always paid the full 10%, so there was no convenient explanation for the bad luck they had most of the time. In retrospect I'm surprised that my mom allowed my dad to spend all that money on his religion. I doubt that she spent another 15% of the net family income on herself. In fact, I know she didn't. Not only did my mom do without things like new shoes, a warm coat and unbroken glasses for long periods of time, us kids had nothing. We didn't even know what new clothes would be like until we became adults. There were times when we were so broke, we couldn't even eat. I recall on one occasion opening the refrigerator and finding only ketchup, a few slices of bread and a plastic pitcher of water. To this day I hate to drink water. I learned not to eat much. My sister learned to overeat every chance she got. Most importantly I learned that paying tithing did not mean your needs would be met. Ours rarely were when I was growing up. Yet my dad's fanatical belief in the importance of tithing infected me.

As an adult member, I paid my tithing fully and faithfully. At some point in time I went through a series of setbacks, including a severe medical disability that kept me out of work for most of a year and two natural disasters that destroyed my home. My meager savings was quickly depleted, and so I turned to the Mormon church for some assistance. I had always been taught that the Mormon church had an excellent welfare program, one that they boasted had been held up as a model of what the US system should be like. Indeed. My bishop responded to my request by asking for my most current tithing check, which amounted to my very last couple of hundred dollars. It pained me to write that check, not knowing how I was going to feed my two little girls, but I handed it to him in faith. The bishop said he'd think about the needs of our family and call us back with a plan. The day after the check cleared the bank, the bishop called and said he'd decided not to help us at all. Having surrendered my very last dime and being taken quite aback by this response I was devastated and desperate. Food was already almost all gone, and I had no money for the electric bill. The bishop made the statement that he felt we had somehow mismanaged our meager income. In fact, we had not. Our destroyed home had been a cheap modular. We drove two 10-year-old cars and had never owned a new one. We never went out for food or entertainment. At the time I owned only two pairs of pants, which wore on alternating days to work. Neither of us was contributing anything to our 401Ks because we couldn't afford it. After reviewing my expenditures carefully, it stood out that my only extravagant expenditure at all had been the tithing I had paid. In the ten years I had been married, it had totalled over $40,000. I thought of all the smart things I could have done with that amount of money - saved it, started a 401K, bought a sturdier house, etc. $40,000 would've come in handy in a crisis like the one we were facing. In short, I realized that I had indeed mismanaged my money by giving it to a church instead of taking care of the needs of my family. I realized that I had been no better than my father in that regard.

That week I went to the local United Way office to plead my case. They didn't ask me for money. They didn't judge me or accuse me. They didn't care that I had not been involved with their causes before. Instead, they filled the trunk of my car full of groceries, enough to last for weeks. They helped me get on my feet. I still get teary-eyed when I think of how, ironically, this secular institution was more Christ-like in the way they treated me, a stranger, than the church that I gave all my spare time, money and allegiance to.
posted by FreedWoman at 5:16 PM

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

A Typical Mormon Family Portrait

Waiting For William

One of the few websites I read religiously (pardon the pun) is The Mormon Curtain which is run by fellow exmo Infymus. I check the site every morning, anxious to read articles composed by people on the same journey as I...that is, a journey out of the LDS church and into a normal, healthy lifestyle.

A recent article really touched my heart and I hope the original author of it (as well as the administrators of The Mormon Curtain) won't mind if I republish it here in my meager little excuse for a blog.


Waiting For William

DATE POSTED: May 2, 2007, at 07:01 AM

I knew I shouldn’t have watched tonight’s PBS special on the Mormons. It made me intensely sad and I’m having trouble controlling the tears. The story about the Mormon woman who died giving birth to her eighth baby really struck a chord with me. I, too, exhausted myself to create a body for a spirit waiting in heaven. He was a little boy and his name was William.

Married and away from home at the age of eighteen, I found myself pregnant immediately. It wasn’t planned and I was shocked, but ready to take on the responsibility of motherhood. When I saw him on the ultrasound for the first time, I was overcome with emotion. There was my baby. It wasn’t clear if my baby was a boy or a girl, but I didn’t need a picture to let me know. I knew my baby was a boy and that his name was William.

At my five month check-up, there was no heartbeat. An ultrasound was ordered and it was clear that my baby was dead. I was utterly alone. My family was over two thousand miles away and my husband was in the military on a mission and wouldn’t be home for many weeks. I was told by the Navy doctor that I would have a miscarriage soon enough on my own and to go home and wait for it. So I did. I waited and waited. A month passed. No miscarriage. I was in a deep depression away from home and carting around a dead baby. I felt constantly ill. One night I awoke with a fever of one-hundred and six degrees. I knew no one to call and felt too sick to drive, so, shivering and wrapped in blankets, I knocked on my neighbor’s door and told her I thought I was dying.

She kindly drove me to Balboa Naval Hospital in San Diego. I don’t remember exactly what happened after that. I know I had a terrible infection and I know they took out my baby. And I was young and stupid and thought for some reason I’d be able to see him afterward. So, after the surgery, I asked the nurse if the baby was a boy. She told me that it was, but that was no surprise to me. I asked if I could see him. She replied, “No, honey! That baby was in no shape to be viewed.” So I asked what they’d done with him and she said, “Well, we disposed of him.”. They disposed of William. They threw away my baby. I was inconsolable but it didn’t matter; there was no one to console me anyway.

After a few days in the hospital I went to my empty apartment and called my Bishop. He gave me a blessing and in it he told me my baby boy needed a perfect body and that Heavenly Father would send him to me again in due time. The comfort I received from that blessing carried me through the next four years until I would have my first successful pregnancy. I had Courtney and was thrilled. But I knew I needed to make a body for William. He’d waited so long for me to finish college. So I got pregnant right away and had a miscarriage. Then I had Madeline. Then a series of many, many miscarriages over the next four years. No pregnancy would stick. There was too much scar tissue from the earlier infection and operation so doctors scraped it out and still I didn’t get pregnant. Finally, after nearly giving up, I had a successful pregnancy and had Chloe. The doctor warned me not to have another baby. She said it was a very bad idea. But William was still waiting.

So against all medical advice, I got pregnant. I knew this was the one. It had to be. Immediately a tumor began forming in my uterus right along with my baby. It had to be removed while I was still pregnant. Unfortunately, I had what I can only describe as some sort of multi-organ breakdown at the same time. My gallbladder became infected and I got terribly sick. It had to be removed. In that operation, an artery was accidentally severed and I lost some blood. They said they gave me seven units, but I really don’t know if that’s a tremendous amount or not, but I do know I was so sick I barely remember the week I spent in the hospital with blood pressure that just would not rise. I recovered just enough after two weeks for them to remove the tumor from my uterus, operating right next to my growing baby.

When I found out I was carrying a girl, I was happy, but pained at the same time. What about William? How would I ever make a body for my baby boy who’d been waiting so long and who had been promised to me in a blessing? My doctor told me my tumor-filled uterus would likely be removed after I delivered the baby. So, I prayed and fasted and cried and prayed some more. After a few months I gave birth to my beautiful little Annie and immediately afterward, just as predicted, my uterus was removed. And my hopes for William went in the garbage right along with it.

For months I grieved my baby boy and finally came to the realization that Heavenly Father would give him to another family. What had I done wrong that my blessing did not come to pass? I always tried to be the best Mormon I could be but that wasn’t enough.

It was almost exactly a year later when I told my husband the church was a fraud. The people in the ward thought I’d lost my mind and had a hormonal imbalance. My husband thought I had postpartum depression. But it was none of those things. I just knew deep down in my heart that Joseph Smith lied and I couldn’t live a lie anymore.

Of course, now I know William was never waiting for another body at all and my Bishop had no authority to tell me he was. William was just a little dead baby in the trash. But sometimes, like tonight after watching “The Mormons” on PBS, I really miss him.


During all my years as a TBM, I was innundated with ridiculous FPR's on a variety of subjects (usually on obedience to "laws" such as that of tithing). I can't even honestly say I was ever exposed to the opposite viewpoint. I always accepted FPR's as fact and never considered the possibility that for every "faith based miracle" story was an equal and opposite tale of sadness, misery and woe.

I have another story of a former mormon woman who was dirt poor and kept getting promised by her Bishop that she would be blessed for paying her tithing and shortly after she handed over her last few dollars to "settle her tithing", she was forced to then ask the Bishop for help in supplying groceries for herself and child. The Bishop refused.

Most Bishops probably would have been happy to offer this woman, who had so faithfully done what was asked of her, some relief by way of welfare assistance, but that's not the point here. The point is, her Bishop turned her away, when she was in desperate need.

I fully intend on keeping a file of these kinds of stories - I think I'll call them RPF's (Reality Promoting Facts) - for the next time I'm stuck at some "Family Home Evening" with my TBM in-laws. That way, when a tear-invoking FPR on the blessings of tithing or patriachal blessings are shared, I can maybe maintain some balanced perspective with an opposing viewpoint.

Oh, and in closing, I would like to point out that I was only able to watch the second half of "The Mormons" on PBS, and I was fairly impressed with the presentation. Like KimberlyAnn, the author of the above article, I too was shocked and saddened for the man who lost his wife because of their DELUSION that they were somehow responsible for bringing another life into the world. Don't get me wrong, I think children are wonderful little bundles of joy, but I also think people should know when to stop having them. Isn't the world getting a little overpopulated as it is?

That was too high a price to pay for something rooted in LDS teachings.

Tal Bachman hit the nail on the head when, in his interview on the special, he said "Mormonism may be the greatest thing ever invented, but if it's invented, it's not worth dying for."