There is a new mall in downtown Salt Lake City called City Creek Center. This mall is, from what I have heard, a very nice mall. Adjacent to Temple Square and built to revitalize the downtown area, City Creek Center offers shopping, as well business and residential space.1
Normally I could care less about a mall in Salt Lake City. I think Utah is a gorgeous state, blessed with an abundance of natural beauty. However, my kind are not welcome in Utah and so I stay away. But the issue is this: City Creek Center and the revitalization of downtown Salt Lake City was financed and built by the Mormon Church to the tune of 5 billion dollars. That’s right. A tax-free organization financed by the charitable donations of church members decided to spend billions of dollars building a shopping mall.2
I found out about the City Creek Center about six months ago. And every time I think about the issue, I start getting angry. My parents are faithful tithing payers. Every year, they give 10% of their pre-tax income to the Mormon church. Tithing comes before food, bills, and everything else. As a kid, I saw first-hand just how much my parents had to struggle to pay tithing and feed a huge family. No matter how desperate times got (and there were some very, very desperate times) my parents have always paid their tithing. And my parents have complete faith in the Mormon Church. They pay their tithing trusting that the Mormon church will put their hard-earned money to good use.
And how does the Mormon church treat their members? Well, to start with, the Mormon church has never published their financial reports. They take my parents’ money but they don’t have the courtesy to tell them how they use the money. And now I find that my parents’ contributions are being funneled into the creation of a mall in Salt Lake City.
If that isn’t enough to turn me into the stereotypical “angry apostate”, there is also the issue of Church janitorial services. The Mormon Church used to pay for people to clean their churches. When I was little and my family was extremely poor, my mother used to work as the church janitor. Sometimes my sister and I would come to work with her; we would sleep in one of the classrooms while my mother worked through the night cleaning the church. Now the Church has decided they can no longer afford to pay for janitors. Members are now expected to pitch in and volunteer time to clean their church building. So not only is the Mormon Church dropping a whole bundle of money on a mall in Salt Lake City, in order to cut costs they have now decided to add an extra burden to their already over-worked members.
My parents have given so much to the Mormon Church. Over the years they have paid tithing, paid to send their children on missions, given fast offerings, and put in countless volunteer hours. They made these sacrifices out of love for their church and because they believed it was the right thing to do. Now they are approaching retirement with little more than Social Security and my mother’s school-teacher pension. They have given everything they have to the Mormon Church. I wish that my parents had the courage to stand up for themselves; their sacrifices should be given meaning by the Church. But my parents won’t. They have spent too many years being indoctrinated by a church that forbids dissension of any sort, however justified the dissent may be.