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Token donations

So, the LDS church is now bragging about having donated $1.5 million to vaccination efforts.  This should be noted that this is over a two-year period ($0.5 million for last year and $1 million for this year).  There are many reactions I have to this.

First of all, I do not see why this is news.  Yes, $1.5 million is a significant amount of money, and I'm sure it will help vaccinate lots of children that need it.  That's wonderful.  But, this represents less than .02% of the church's revenue (that's one-fiftieth of a percent, not two percent, in other words that's 1/5000).  Of course, the exact percentage can't be calculated, because the church refuses to publish its financials.  But, using a very conservative estimate, the church makes at least $4 billion per year, which would mean that the amount of $1.5 million over two years (making 1,500,000/8,000,000,000) is less than .02%.  If I spent that percentage of my income on donating to some particular charity, that would amount to about $3.  That's why I fail to see how this is significant.  If I donated $3 to some charity, yeah, that would be good--every little bit counts--and I'm sure it would go to helping someone (in a very small way), but I hardly see how it would be worthy of publishing as news.  It's pathetic.  (On a side note, the church is required to release all of its financial information in Canada.  In 2009, they collected a total of $150 million (Canadian dollars), and of that they donated $100 million to BYU.)

Another reaction I have to this is that it exposes the church's hypocrisy.  I don't know how many times in Sunday School I've sat through the whole "don't blow a trumpet before you" lesson.  To be specific, this is the passage from the Sermon on the Mount that is so often quoted.
1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.

2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:

4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
Matthew 6:1-4
I think it's fairly clear.  In fact, I don't see how you can possibly work around what that's saying.  And this isn't one of the passages of the Bible that the LDS church claims was mistranslated or is otherwise not inspired.  It's a passage that they quote all the time.  This is a doctrine that is heavily emphasized.  It is not good to brag about helping other people.  And yet, here the church is doing it.  Whenever they help out in any big way, they have to broadcast it as widely as possible.  They publish it on their news site (Deseret News is owned and operated by the LDS church).  At natural disaster cleanup sites, they have bright, yellow shirts for all of the Mormons to wear that say "Mormon Helping Hands".  It's not enough to just help out because there's a need--they have to alert everyone to the fact that they're doing it.  In other words, the LDS church has become precisely what Jesus was condemning in this passage. They sound a trumpet before them, just like the hypocrites did back in the New Testament times.  They want everyone to see how wonderful they are.

The final thought I had when I read this story is actually just a bit of irony.  I know there are some among my Mormon friends that believe that vaccinations are bad.  They fall for the (rather pathetic and easily disproven) propaganda that vaccines cause autism and other such ridiculous nonsense.  So, I think it's rather funny that there are Mormons out there somewhere who are giving money to a church that is now donating some of its money (albeit an extremely small portion--2 cents per $100) to vaccines that the member giving the money in the first place thinks will cause people to become autistic.

At any rate, I do hope that my Mormon friends ask themselves why the church is so eager to publish the fact that they donated $1.5 million to vaccination efforts over the last two years but is very hesitant to acknowledge that it spent $5.5 billion (that's over 3,000 times as much as the previous number) on building a shopping mall in downtown SLC.  Where is your church placing its emphasis?  What cause is it prioritizing here?

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