The multi-use development known as City Creek Center has generated a significant amount of attention, both pro and con, regarding the LDS Church’s participation. This large real estate venture, initially projected to cost $1 Billion, and more recently as much as $3 Billion, is being led by the real estate subsidiary of the church known as Property Reserve.
This quote comes from the KSL.com site:
There will be significant new residential buildings, initially about 300 units. A full size Harmon’s grocery store will go in at 200 East and 100 South. The development is designed to compliment Temple Square, but will be a commercial venture.
Bishop H. David Burton, LDS Church Presiding Bishop: “Rather than walking across South Temple and a finding a completely different environment, we hope to have that transition, that they would be mutually compatible with each other.” (http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&sid=536868)
When I read this, I couldn’t help but think of the quote from James 4:
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
It is certainly worth the time to read and ponder the full context of these two quotes. What does it mean to be ‘mutually compatible’ with the worldly environment of Nordstroms and Macys? Does this mean that the Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church sees little difference between the mission represented by Temple Square and the objectives of a multi-use mall?
Members of the Church have committed to provide their time, talents and energies to the building up of the kingdom of God. The Church, I would think, should be an example of this focus. Is the expenditure of the time and resources in the construction of such a commercial venture mutually compatible with the three fold mission of the church? How can one justify this type of activity in light of what Christ taught regarding the need to choose between the ways of the world and the ways of God.
When the original church established in the meridian of time ceased to demonstrate the gifts of the spirit, the leaders redirected their attention to the ‘works of man.’ Awe inspiring edifices, such as Saint Peter’s Basilica, are examples of this misapplied energy. The need of the Holy Roman church to express itself in terms of its physical environment extended to the surrounding areas of its headquarters in Vatican City. Speaking of the popes of the 14th and 15th century, here is a quote from The Restoration by Wil Durant (page 14):
“They labored to redeem Rome from the ugliness and squalor into which it had fallen while the popes were in Avignon. They drained marshes (by comfortable proxy), paved streets, restored bridges and roads, improved the water supply, established the Vatican Library and the Capitoline Museum, enlarged the hospitals, distributed charity, built or repaired churches, embellished the city with palaces and gardens, reorganized the University of Rome, supported the humanists in resurrecting pagan literature, philosophy, and art, and gave employment to painters, sculptors, and architects whose works are now a treasured heritage of all mankind…perhaps they thought of it as transforming scattered crumbs of evanescent wealth into a lasting splendor for the people and their God.”
In these latter days, we see the modern LDS church expressing the same concern regarding the environs of the temple. Most of the area immediately surrounding Temple Square now belongs to the Church. Is the goal here to create a lasting splendor for the members of LDS Church and their God?
I see no reasonable rationalization for the significant effort on the part of the church to build up the kingdom of Mammon and design it in a way that it is mutually compatible with the kingdom of God. Such a mix is not possible.
Church officials note that the funds going into the project are from the profits of the business holdings of the church; tithing is not used in any form as noted in President Hinckley’s remarks from October, 2006:
“The Church is undertaking a huge development project in the interest of protecting the environment of Temple Square. While the costs will be great, it will not involve the expenditure of tithing funds.”
Does tithing represent the only ‘sacred’ element of funds donated to the church? Aren’t fast offerings, and for that matter, any donations to the church represent a gift to the Lord? The statement that the funds for this significant development comes from the for-profit entities owned by the conceals the origins of these commercial enterprises. Where did the church get the original funds leading to the ownership of ZCMI, Beneficial Life, the farms and ranches and other enterprises that today constitute the non-spiritual aspects of the Church.
Did my great-great grandfather complete a simple commercial transaction when he consecrated his sugar beet factory to the kingdom in compliance to a command from Brigham Young? Did the fact that this consecrated property, as the United Order unwound, become part of the U&I Sugar Company remove the stipulation of sacred and consecrated property? I think not.
I would be interested if there is any example of a commercial venture owned by the church that does not have its origins in a consecration or other sacred donation from the members of the church. To obfuscate this fact is a travesty and a sham.
As these examples show, we are witness to the slow and imperceptible apostasy settling in to the modern LDS church. As prophesied in latter day scriptures, the church will need to be, at a minimum, cleansed before it will be fit for the kingdom (D&C 112:24-26). In the worst case, the Lord will reject this people and return his gospel to the house of Israel (3 Nephi 16:10).
What think ye?