Bloomberg Businessweek’s Mormon moment fail

I am certainly not the first to note this, so let’s all say this together: What were the editors at Bloomberg Businessweek thinking? Basically, its cover story about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ finances could offend just about anyone who practices just about any kind of faith.

As Daniel Burke from Religion News Service reports:

A lengthy story in Bloomberg Businessweek that hits newsstands on Friday details The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ vast financial holdings, from a $2 billion mall in Salt Lake City to a $1 billion ranch in Florida.

Reaction to the magazine’s cover has overshadowed the article, however. The illustration satirizes the moment when Mormons believe John the Baptist bestowed the priesthood on Joseph Smith, the faith’s founding prophet.

In the parody, John the Baptist tells Smith, “and thou shalt build a shopping mall, own stock in Burger King, and open a Polynesian theme park in Hawaii that shall be largely exempt from the frustrations of tax …” Smith answers, “Hallelujah.”

I like how veteran Salt Lake City Tribune reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack asks a magazine spokesperson if the cover really is real.

The cover, which has been posted repeatedly on Facebook, is real, Patti Straus, Bloomberg Businessweek spokeswoman told The Salt Lake Tribune on Thursday. … When asked if the magazine was getting any angry reactions to the cover, Straus wrote in an email, “The story speaks for itself.”

Sorry, but if you’re a magazine, design and story go together, maybe not from the reporter’s perspective, but from an entire editorial point of view, it shapes how you want the reader to feel.

The cover is certainly not the first offending one from a national magazine. You might recall Newsweek‘s 2011 cover of Mitt Romney dancing to the words “The Mormon Moment.”

So how did Bloomberg Businessweek‘s cover come about? The Deseret News illustrates some ironies by simply quoting from Bloomberg Businessweek‘s art director.

“We looked into paintings of what is referred to as the First Vision, which is when Joseph Smith went into the woods and had a revelation, and since that moment founded Mormonism,” Robert Vargas, the art director, said in a Bloomberg Businessweek video. “So in researching the paintings, there were many sorts of iterations of this. It’s been done various different ways.” …

This one was not of the First Vision, as Vargas apparently supposes, but of the Angel Moroni delivering the gold plates of the Book of Mormon to Joseph Smith. It may be that Vargas assumed that any painting of Joseph Smith receiving a vision in the woods was part of the First Vision. …

Vargas said the Bloomberg Businessweek editors settled on using the Christensen art “because it had this nice naiveté to it.” “The image itself is somewhat serene,” he added, “so we wanted to have a little more energy with the typography to balance that out.” …

Vargas called the talk bubbles of John the Baptist telling Joseph Smith to invest “funny.”

Seriously, what is up with editors and designers these days?

The webpage with the story “How the Mormons Make Money” and the art they use is what looks like a gold set of praying hands (maybe depicting idolatry?) clasping money with the sun shining down through the clouds.

Even if you move past the art, does the story really understand the Mormon faith enough to understand how it wouldn’t function the same way a business would?

As Joanna Brooks put it at Religion Dispatches, the story itself leaves the reader wanting more.

Another lost opportunity was Winter’s failure to pursue with any insight or curiosity the question of what motivates Mormon enterprise. It’s not that Mormonism is just another form of prosperity gospel. The faith has a 170-year-long history of seeking economic self-sufficiency, motivated at first by Mormons’ desire for autonomy from a hostile mainstream and by necessity engendered by their western isolation. Today, that drive is motivated — as I’ve heard discussed among leading figures in Mormon Studies this week and as was hinted at in the Church’s own statement and a Deseret News editorial today — by the need to create an endowment capable of sustaining the global physical infrastructure of Mormonism (temples, churches, universities) even as the bulk of the Church’s population shifts to the global south and tithing revenues flatline or even drop.

This is no simple Creflo Dollar morality tale. This is story about history and global patterns of wealth distribution, as well as about the way a financially successful American-based Church takes what it needs from the market to realize its own countercultural priorities. A story maybe too big for Businessweek to grasp, and certainly too big for its juvenile cover.

I was actually kind of surprised that the article didn’t mention more about Mitt Romney, given how everything from reporters these days seems to be seen through presidential election lenses. This was one sentence: “Mitt Romney and others at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded in 1984, gave the Mormon Church millions’ worth of stock holdings obtained through Bain deals, according to Reuters.” But generally I didn’t find it to necessarily be tied to Romney.

But then the reporter did an interview with Bloomberg about her story, and the people interviewing go so painfully obvious to Romney, it’s incredible. It’s like the only thing matters, the only reason we should ever care about how the LDS Church handles its money is the presidential election. When the media starts to take an intense look at religion only in presidential election cycles, there’s something wrong, and some priorities are out of order.

One line that did stand out for me from the reporter was when she said, “Most religions make a very clear distinction between the spiritual and the secular, and Mormons deny that there is a distinction at all. Mormons believe they are building a kingdom on earth.” I know some evangelicals believe God is building a kingdom on earth, so I don’t know that her broad sweeping statement about other religions vs. Mormonism is spot on. Anyone with insight into this particular theological view?

No matter how you feel about Mormonism or how leaders handle the institution’s finances, if you care about the way religion is depicted in the media, you should care about this cover and this piece. There is nothing wrong, in terms of journalism, with looking at a religious group’s finances if you take the subject seriously. There were definitely nuggets of information worth reading, but the designers and editors let this one fall flat.

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  • SandeeM

    The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has issued a reply to this news story – a reply that is somewhat more informative about LDS finances than the original story -

    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-financial-independence?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LDSNewsRoomTop15+%28RSS%3A+LDS+Newsroom%29

  • http://rub-a-dub.blogspot.com Mattk

    I hate the insinuation that their businesses are largely untaxed because it is a church. Most large business are largely untaxed and it has nothing to do with them being churches and everything to do with taking advantage of the way the taxcode is written.

  • http://thingsofmysoul.blogspot.com Ray

    I am LDS and thought the article was much more subtly deceptive than the cover. The cover is disgusting and shows very clearly the intent of the article, but I am concerned that the cover will keep people from understanding the inaccuracies and bias of the article itself.

    If the illustrators actually thought they were showing a depiction of what we term the First Vision, it is that much more telling – since any high school level researcher should have been able to understand the distinction with a little effort and attention to detail.

    The LDS Church was disenfranchised at the end of the 19th Century by the US Government, and it struggled all the way into the 1960′s to gain financial stability. Keeping that from happening again is a huge part of the reason the current church runs its for-profit entities as it does.

    Furthermore, the article compares humanitarian giving from the LDS Church and the Methodist Church, because they have similar membership, and harps on the fact that the Methodist Church gives a higher percent of its direct donations to charitable causes in cash donations. I checked personally, and what the author fails to do is point out that the LDS Church actually gives FAR more in total dollar humanitarian aid (multiple times more) – and that doesn’t even count the infrastructure that provides welfare relief for Mormons who are struggling financially.

    To say that this article was a misleading hack job and attack piece would be polite. The cover is the worst feature, but it is not alone in its misrepresentation.

  • http://TheCatholicBeat.com Gail Finke

    This comment is only on the cover, because I have not read the article. I am not a Mormon and I do not find the LDS claims about the the “First Vision” and the golden tablets, etc. to be remotely credible, but I still find this to be in incredibly bad taste. There is plenty of stuff made like this about Catholics all the time, especially in movies and on television, but I can’t think of anything as anti-Catholic as this is anti-Mormon appearing in a serious news magazine — in this century, anyway. If it did I would be outraged. I did not believe the cover was real at first, and based on it I would expect the article to be sensationalized and innaccurate.

  • Elaine T

    unlurking to say IMO this simply sums up how the press doesn’t get religion. If they can’t tie a story to elections and sleeze, they don’t cover it at all. And when they do take a look they completely misunderstand. Probably because no one in the newsroom is a strong believer and practitioner of any mainstream religion.

    Even so, I can’t believe no one realized how offensive that cover is.
    Like Gail, I’m not a Mormon, but even to me, a nonbeliever, it’s awful. It certainly promises sensationalism and … is there a word that sums up: complete inability to grasp the subject being reported on?

  • Sam

    They had to go with the cheesy cover because they couldn’t get a picture of the CEO of the Mormon Church with their multi million-dollar salaries and mansions and private jets, paid for by tithing donations. That’s because such a person doesn’t exist. No one is getting rich off of this religion. On the contrary, people in developing countries are gaining access to education and clean water and wheelchairs due to the Mormon Church’s humanitarian efforts. The single mom and her kids have their utility bills paid and food in their cupboards, provided by their church. Money is a means of doing good. In fact, the literal meaning of the Biblical parable of the talents is investing money.

  • James Harvey

    After tthe foolish treatment of the American success story that Mormons are, what serious business person will look to Business Week as a credible resource for managing their financial life ever again?

  • Paul Brown

    By the title of the church’s statement, “The Church and Its Financial Independence”
    http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-financial-independence?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+LDSNewsRoomTop15+%28RSS%3A+LDS+Newsroom%29

    It is clear that Church even loves its (enemies) detractors. In the Church’s statement, they never even mentioned Bloomberg BusinessWeek. They simply laid out the Church’s position on financial independence. There are no accusations or vindictiveness present as might be expected in response to such an obvious hit piece.

    Truly a Christ like response.

  • Maureen

    I’d like to know if there’s any version of Christianity that doesn’t believe that the Kingdom of God is already present on earth (although some would say it’s only in Christians).

    The art director obviously wants to work for a very small magazine that thinks bigotry’s cute. Perhaps the KKK is hiring.

  • Jettboy

    There are two glaring misinterpretations of the LDS Kingdom on Earth theology. The first is that money only is part of it so far as that is what this world requires to maintain existance. Zion is defined not by wealth and property, but the pure in heart. That leads to the second misinterpretation with the qoute about all commandments are spiritual. This means that life itself is about spiritual growth and therefore all actions and experience are learning oportunities. If the Lord gives a commandment that seems only of worth to this life then it is because the person has a short sighted view focused on the here and now. As Joseph Smith said, understanding eternity takes a lot of hard contemplation over a long time.

    Finally as was stated, Mormonism theologically may be pro or nuetral prosperity, but it is anti-prosperity gospel as a reading of the Book of Mormon would prove. Time and again there is the teaching that living the gospel can bring wealth (or any other temporal blessings), but wealth can bring sin and condemnation if not used for blessing others. With much blessing comes much responsibility is a theological motto for Mormons. This magazine article misses this entirely.

  • John C. Clark

    When the general public eventually realizes how much members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints give to charity and service they may wonder what kind of power motivates them. Then finding no evidence of typical cult mind control, they may be even more curious. Eventually they may consider the possibility that God is accessible and is actively involved in modern affairs.

    Hopefully members of His Church would be good examples of Christian behavior and recognize the inherent goodness in all God’s children.

    Hopefully all people, regardless of religious conviction, will feel God’s love, be grateful, and respond with goodness in kind.

  • Kristen

    I wonder if we will see more of this kind of sensationalized article/graphic constructs in the future, just due to the way the publishing industry is struggling financially. They cut staff to the bone, so fewer editors to oversee the work as it goes through the system…and budgetary concerns make it imperative to hire younger (potentially less experienced) employees.

    Thinking out loud here. Really am shocked, but I shouldn’t be. This reflects the typical secular Gotham mindset pretty well. I’m sure all their friends think it is hilarious.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Thank you for your perceptive observations.
    There is a legitimate story in how the LDS Church effectively invests its assets (more effectively than just buying U.S. Treasury bonds) in enterprises that support other goals, and safeguard and grow those assets. Since this money comes solely from (a) voluntary donations, (b) voluntary business transactions with people who receive value, and (c) growth from investment of assets, and does NOT come from taxation or other money coerced from third parties, what the heck (as we Mormons say) is wrong with it? No one is hurt by it.

    Indeed, during the last three years, President Obama was asking America to admire him for creating jobs with this two year stimulus program. My own company received $1.2 billion dollars under a Federal contract, and hired an additional 1,200 workers to do the work, who have now been laid off with the end of the funding. (Yes, that amounted to $1 million per job, but it actually did important, dangerous work for the Federal government which it was already obligated to do by law.) When the LDS Church hires over a thousand construction workers for three years, why shouldn’t it be praised for creating those jobs? And then there are hundreds of ongoing jobs at City Creek Center. Aren’t jobs more valuable than temporary aid? Which is more charitable? Don’t you think that if a group of churches in Detroit decided to make this kind of investment into improving that city, they would be praised to high heaven for their community spirit?

    So there is clearly an agenda in the article that asserts the Mormons are not as charitable as they should be. Yet, that being the theme, it is addressed dishonestly. A comparison is made between Mormon humanitarian aid around the world that has averaged about $52 million a year. The story claims that this is paltry, because it is only 0.7% of Mormon Church revenues, while Methodist humanitarian aid is 29% of that church’s revenues. But this comparison is deliberately distorted. According to web sites that compare charities, the United Methodist Church humanitarian relief organization gave an average of $60 million a year over four recent years. For 7.8 million US Methodists versus 6 million US Mormons, the amounts BOTH average out to about $8.00 per member per year. The reason this is 29% of central Methodist finances is that those finances do NOT include the cost of building and maintaining church buildings and paying pastors, while ALL LDS Church finances are centralized (which eases the burden on lower income congregations).

    The article talks at length about Church farms, but fails to note that much of the food produced is placed into a Church system that stores and distributes food to the needy in the Church and to disaster relief. There is a mere mention in a quote of Brother McMullin about “Fast Offerings” without explaining that Mormons fast for 24 hours on the first Sunday of every month and donate the food money saved to help care for the unemployed and needy. This is separate from the humanitarian program. There is also a Perpetual Education Fund that gives low interest loans to LDS Church members in developing nations, where a small amount of education can make a big difference in their lives.

    Harvard University has a huge endowment, but the income it makes from its investments supports a charitable enterprises support the Brigham Young University campuses in Utah, Idaho and Hawaii and LDS Business College in Salt Lake. There are also Institute of Religion (at colleges) and Seminary programs (at high schools) across the US and the world, which make religious education available on a daily basis to students in secular schools. If Harvard is a charity, so is BYU and the other educational programs of the LDS Church.

    Because the LDS Church doubles in size every twenty years or so, it knows that that by 2035 it has to have twice as many meetinghouses as it does now! That is a major expense. Fortunately, there are no career clergy, so there is no cost for pastors at the local and regional level. Meetinghouses not only teach love of neighbor that has made the Mormons the most giving members of American society (according to a recent University of Pennsylvania study), they are also places where charitable works are performed, from collecting food for local food pantries for the poor, to recruiting workers for local soup kitchens, to organizing assistance to repair the homes of widows and help families relocate to new homes. In times of disaster, they are centers where aid is stored and distributed, as was the case in Haiti, where one of my neighbors here in Washington State provided medical services after the earthquake, and are even temporary shelters.

    The notion at the center of the article–that the LDS Church makes lots of money and just keeps it selfishly–is totally false. The truth is that the LDS Church is among those religious institutions that is most involved in supporting the physical well-being of its members, and of its neighbors. Furthermore, the teachings of the LDS Church have created a membership that is far more giving of its time and material means to their neighbors than members of other churches. (Again, an objective fact found by objective independent researchers.)

    If ALL the churches in America were better stewards of their financial assets, and used them as effectively as the Mormons do, our entire society would be better off.

  • MJBubba

    When the media starts to take an intense look at religion only in presidential election cycles, there’s something wrong, and some priorities are out of order.

    Politics is their religion. The media don’t get religion because their own religion is so unlike real religion.

  • Bob Smietana

    This cover is a perfect example of why the press doesn’t get religion – and why the press does get religion.

    The doesn’t get religion because doesn’t take Latter Day Saints or their faith seriously. This is a group with millions of followers and billions of dollars and deserve careful reporting.

    On the other hand – Latter Day Saints – and every other religious group – believe weird things that are incomprehensible to outsiders.
    Religion reporters encounter to people every day who say they talk to God and are on a first names basis with the Creator of the Universe- and shape their lives because of that beliefs.
    People who say they talk to God in other fields are viewed as mentally ill- but religion reporters have to take them seriously.

    Look at the holy symbols of Christianity — one, the cross, is a Roman instrument of torture and execution – the equivalent of an electric chair or lethal injection gurney. Imagine if you walked into a room and people were weeping as they sang “When I survey the wonderful gas chamber” -with their hand outstretched. We’d think they were nuts. But people in church sing about the cross all the time.

    And the Eucharist — hundreds of millions of people think they are eating Christ’s body and drinking his blood -every week. That’s strange to outsiders.

    So yeah – it’s a great and a terrible cover

  • John Ross

    The Business Week article and cover reveals not only an ethical poverty, but also a glaring professional deficiency. Just from the few comments above, I can see that there are several interesting and untold stories about Mormon finances. For example, whhy not write about the net outflow of Mormon money to developing nations? When and why did Mormons begin equalizing budgets between rich and poor congregations in the US and is this christian socialism? Is the perpetual education fund a return to Mormonism’s 19th Century communitarian economics?

  • Sarah Pulliam Bailey

    Bob, even if it’s strange to outsiders, would you do the same cover? Take religion out of it for a second: could it get away with the same kind of cover applied to China or Egypt or some other culture? I feel like we would be horrified by the ethnocentric, mocking attitude even if we all thought the country had strange practices, but I’m just thinking out loud.

  • Bob Smietana

    Sarah– No, because it reflects badly on BusinessWeek by making the publication look unprofessional.
    But it does reveal something about how strange religion really is – so it’s not a complete fiasco.

  • Mike Melendez

    Bob, you make Sarah’s point. Strange to whom? is a question you should be asking yourself. Why do you consider your beliefs normative? Might they also be strange to others? Is your stance not the very definition of ethnocentrism?

  • sari

    Mike,

    The cover is ethnocentric; Bob’s comments are not. Quite the opposite. He is challenging each of us to step past our respective belief systems to consider how our non-coreligionists perceive us.

    One would expect such a cover from a magazine like MAD, Titanic, or Charlie Hebdo. Years ago, it might’ve been on Punch. All are magazines of satire and parody. Business Week is a mainstream news magazine; the cover is inappropriate and offensive, even to those of us who are not LDS.

  • davea0511

    I’m Mormon (LDS = Latter-Day Saint). The piece was fairly atrocious on many levels … I think you’ll find all LDS people will agree on that point, but will not get too overly worked over by it because we’re fairly used to be misrepresented even by sources that are traditional considered objective news sources.

    When investigating any controversial subject, although it is wise to get opposing points of view, one should keep in mind that if you get a drink of water from the source it will be pure, whereas f you get it downstream after cattle have waded through it … well, go figure. If you get it from someone who “used to” drink from the source but not anymore … again, what do you expect? Once again mainstream media foolishly claims fairness by giving equal weight (roughly 50% per side) between the worst of detractors vs the adherents when they review a religion. Of course, were they to give a “fair” review of George Washington they’d take a more intelligent approach, such as first investigate the motives and history of those whom they interview or consider as sources. That didn’t happen here, nor does it ever when religion is investigated by agencies who are known to be hostile to religion in general. My surprise was that the Businessweek fit that profile as an agency hostile to religion in general. Similarly, if it is indeed a business-magazine I should have expected it’s review of the Mormon Church’s finances as being laudatory. Since it did not any sensible person must only conclude that it is not in fact a business-magazine but instead merely a magazine that criticizes religions for making money.

    As for the difference between the LDS church vs Mainstream Christianity doctrines of the “Kingdom on Earth” (which you asked about) it is simply that the former takes it to be literal – namely the LDS Church itself being the realization of the Kingdom, whereas Mainstream Christianity (which I consider a proper noun and thus capitalized due to it’s nature) generally interprets “Kingdom on Earth” as being symbolic of the loose and unorganized/undefined collection of people who happen to be Christlike.

    The upshot is that unlike Mainstream Christianity the goal is not merely to “save the soul” but to grow the church in order to prepare the earth for the Savior’s second coming. That isn’t because LDS think only they’ll be saved at His coming … in fact LDS doctrine states that at Christ’s second coming as many as half of LDS people will *not* be saved, while concurrently there will be many non-LDS (all who are Christlike) who *will* be saved from destruction then. Still that does not absolve LDS members from encouraging everyone to make the commitments necessary to become LDS as the effort will help people prepare for Christ’s coming.

  • Bob Smietana

    Sari,

    You hit the nail on the head. This is a MAD magazine cover which is why it doesnt work for a serious publication and topic

  • Bob Smietana

    Mike (#11)

    My own beliefs are as weird as anyone else’s.

  • davea0511

    Bob –

    You’ll find me a supporter of religiousness in general so I found your comment especially bothersome. The very reason why “other beliefs” are “weird things that are incomprehensible to outsiders” is precisely because of things like Businessweek’s cover.

    That is why there is nothing “great” about that cover – it is the kind of intentional misrepresentation which is to blame for the fear people have of religion, and to quote Yoda … fear is the path of the dark side. It breeds contempt, and in fact you can trace just about all of the contempt that anti-Mormons have for Mormonism to fear. Fear that it’s to blame for Prop 8, fear that it turns good people into bad, fear that Mormon missionaries are out to marry all your daughters. And it all starts with ridiculous and completely incongruous depictions designed to make things seem even more foreign and creepy than is otherwise possible.

    Encouraging fear and loathing of the unfamiliar is not “great”. It’s just terrible.

  • Lyle

    As an ex-Mormon I used to pay 10% every month and if I did not they would not let me enter into the LDS Temples. I think it is a very fair article. It is quite different than going to a real christian church where they pass a plate around, and know one ever confronts you on how much you paid.
    As a Mormon I felt like I was paying a fortune just to enter their Temple, no different than entering a Museum, except a lot more money.

    • bytebear

      As a Mormon, the same level of commitment was required when you joined the church. Tithing, church attendance, Word of Wisdom, chastity/fidelity, a belief in Christ and the church. All required for membership. And you renew that covenant weekly through sacrament (communion) and every two years you renew your temple recommend. If you aren’t living to any of those standards, you are not ready for the temple covenants, because the temple isn’t just a Sunday service, it is a covenant like baptism that you are participating in. Using your analogy, you are saying baptism is like going to a swimming pool.

  • leigh

    Funny. In my neighborhood, the Mormon Church just donated about $3,000 to a poor man who just got out of prison to receive medical treatments because his family couldn’t afford it and he didn’t have medical insurance. Now, if that is occurring over their 15 million members throughout the world, even if it was just here and there, that would be a very severe financial burden.

    I think this article is VERY naive about what it costs to provide support for thousands upon thousands of congregations consisting of millions of people. It talks a lot about the income, but hardly anything about the outgo.

    How much does it cost to maintain a church house that is used everyday except Mondays? To mow the lawn, repair the roof, keep the parking lot free from pot holes? On top of that, you then have in every congregation genuine financial need from those who have lost jobs, had a death in the family of a bread-winner, need help after the birth of a child, etc.

    What the article doesn’t say is how Mormons are SELF-SUSTAINING. In practice most don’t turn to government assistance, but instead turn to the church and family members. How much is saved by tens of thousands staying off the government coffers of welfare?

    What the article doesn’t say is that the cattle farms and preserves have a duel purpose — to assure there is food in a crisis. The article doesn’t talk about insurance companies being formed to make sure people can recover from disasters. It doesn’t talk about the billions being invested as a hedge against reckless governments that could jeopardize the ability of people to eat in some countries. It barely mentions the actual intent of the “amusement park” in Hawaii — which is to provide jobs to students so they can work to support themselves through school INSTEAD OF GOING INTO DEBT.

    In short, this article is rubbish because it doesn’t examine the motivation of these investments.

    I especially loved the part about the Church not giving to charity? Hahaha. That’s a great one because we all know that Charities give to other charities right? Like how Red Cross just gave 50% of its fundraising to Boys Club. What a joke that comment was.

    The Mormon Church is a massive charity with massive — and I mean massive — welfare services that it runs on its own. When Hurricane Katrina landed, it was the Mormon Church who had positioned hundreds of trucks loaded with food and supplies around the outskirts so they could be one of the first to respond to the disaster — for NON-MORMONS. It was the church houses that boarded displaced people and they were fed by food hauled in through the efforts of the Mormons Church.

    This article is proof that if you want to go “investigate” with a pre-set editorial agenda, you will get exactly what you want. Garbage-in, Garbage-out.

    How soon we forget that 60-Minutes also did an expose through Mike Wallace. He found nothing other than a charity doing charitable things. He was sent back no less than three times by his producers and told there has to be something amiss. After three times, he finally conceded to the President of the Mormon Church, “I am genuinely impressed. You do exactly what you say you do.”

    And that was from Mike Wallace.

    I think we can all rest comfortably knowing that if Mike Wallace wanted to find dirt, he would have. This article’s author is hardly Mike Wallace.

  • janice

    Thank you for your article. Thank you for standing up to the unfair treatment the LDS church receives all the time. If the article had been about the Catholics (or any one else) there would have been a major outcry. If the Pope had been portrayed, on the cover, like Joseph Smith was, heads would have rolled! For some reason everyone thinks it is alright to make fun of Mormons. After Prop. 8 in California everyone went after the Mormons even though the Catholic church started the opposition and asked the Mormons for help. No one attacked the Catholics for their role in opposing Prop.8 Why does no one question how much Joel Osteen rakes in? What about Pat Robertson? Why not the Catholics? They are a rich church. I’m not saying these people should be portrayed on a magazine cover like the LDS church was, I’m saying this type of stuff doesn’t happen to other religions. Just because Mormons are perceived to be different then it is alright to bully them? The LDS church has a non-paid clergy-all volunteer. The LDS church pays for people all over the world to go to college, get training, pays for missionaries who can’t pay their own way, wells in Africa for clean drinking water, and the list goes on and on. When there is a natural disaster the LDS church is one of the first organizations to mobilize aid. Last Christmas I was waiting for my Bishop (Priest or Pastor to others) after church services to finish with a family and as the family was leaving the Bishop ran after them because he had forgotten to tell them that their rent would be paid by the church and later groceries would be brought by but the Bishop needed to know what type of food they needed. Couldn’t help overhear. In the early years the LDS church always had financial difficulties because of persecution and being driven out from place to place. In 1899 the Church was in dire financial straits because the Federal government seized all properties and assets of the Church and imposed penalties. Members didn’t want to pay tithing because they felt their enemies would end up with it. And in the early years the Church didn’t push tithing because there were so many other problems. In 1899 Church Pres. Lorenzo Snow told the members to pay tithing and reap blessings. The members came through and the Church started to slowly become debt free. To Lyle former Mormon: Tithing is an ancient Biblical practice. It is a commandment for members to follow. If the 10 Commandments in the Bible are not followed then there are consequences. If you don’t obey the laws of the land-consequences. Again, thank you for standing up for a wrong because next time it could be anyone. I’m for freedom of the press but there needs to be decorum and respect. The cover is mockery and childish behavior, not true journalism.

  • Dennis

    This type of “journalism” is exactly why I am discontinuing my subscription as soon as it runs out. I have already decided to go to Forbes instead…

  • tprop

    Seems no one noticed these covers at all – except those who might take themselves too seriously.