An attack on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that is very popular among a certain segment of critics runs along these lines:
The so-called “Church,” which, in this context, many of them like to call “LDS Inc” or “the Corporation,” isn’t really about religious faith, isn’t really a church, at all. Rather, it is a business. It’s much more concerned about money than it is about souls.
As a prime piece of evidence to support this contention, they will often point to the huge mixed-use development in Salt Lake City (which includes an upscale open-air shopping center as well as office and residential buildings) known as the City Creek Center. City Creek is a joint undertaking of Property Reserve, Inc. (the commercial real estate division of the Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) and the real estate investment trust Taubman Centers, Inc.
And they love to point to the late President Thomas S. Monson cutting the ribbon for the shopping space at City Creek and saying “One, two, three. . . Let’s go shopping!” Is it not true, some will point out, that Latter-day Saint prophets and apostles have sometimes even dedicated banks? Banks! They have prayed at the opening of banks!
These critics are evidently not disturbed by accounts of Jesus using his divine powers to provide food for large events (at Matthew 14:13-21, Matthew 15:32-39, Mark 6:31-44, Mark 8:1-9, Luke 9:12-17, John 6:1-14, and Matthew 15:32-39) and advising Galilean fisherman on how to increase their harvest of tilapia (as at Luke 5:1-11 and John 21:1-14).
Presumably, Semitic peasants catching fish for a living are spiritual in a way that middle class gringos selling shoes or iPhones can never hope to be.
Catholic priests in foreign countries praying over the fishing fleet at the opening of the season are quaint and cute. General Authorities praying over a bank, though, are offensive and gross. Why? Perhaps because, from the standpoint of alienated middle class American ex-Latter-day Saints, banks and retail stores aren’t sufficiently exotic. Scriptural flocks and fields, though? They’re far away in time and place and, thus, presumably acceptable:
The Church, complain some of its critics, spends far more money on malls and stocks than on humanitarian assistance to the needy.
But this complaint, it seems to me, rests on a fallacy of equivocation as well as on a basic misunderstanding of finance and economics.
To be continued.