Historian digs into the hidden world of Mormon finances

Historians in the News
tags: Mormon, LDS, D Michael Quinn



Thumbnail Image -  Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0

Some Mormons — and plenty of others — were appalled to witness their church build a $1.5 billion mall in downtown Salt Lake City and hear their prophet proclaim, “Let’s go shopping.”

Isn’t religion, they argued, supposed to be about feeding the hungry and clothing the poor? How is selling Tiffany jewelry, Nordstrom cocktail dresses and luxury condos any part of a Christian faith?

Such critics, though, fail to understand Mormonism, says historian D. Michael Quinn. The American-born movement has always seen its mission as serving both the spiritual and physical needs of its people. It doesn’t distinguish between the two.

“It’s as spiritual [for Latter-day Saints] to give alms to the poor,” Quinn told Bloomberg Businessweek in 2012, “... as it is to make a million dollars.”

On that last score, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been wildly successful, says Quinn, author of the newly published “Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth & Corporate Power.”

The church, launched in 1830 in upstate New York with six members, counts nearly 16 million members worldwide — and untold billions in assets. ...




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