Question: Is the fact that some General Authorities, mission presidents, and others receive a living stipend while serving the Church evidence of the “hypocrisy” of the Church?

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Question: Is the fact that some General Authorities, mission presidents, and others receive a living stipend while serving the Church evidence of the “hypocrisy” of the Church?

The Church does not train or employ a professional clergy

It is claimed that Mormonism prides itself in having unpaid clergy as one proof of the Church's truthfulness. They then point to the fact that some General Authorities, mission presidents, and others do, in fact, receive a living stipend while serving the Church, and point to this as evidence of the “hypocrisy” of the Church. [1]

  • Church leaders are "called" by leaders in greater authority to occupy positions such as Bishop, Stake President, or Area Authority 70. One does not campaign for nor apply for such positions, and such an effort would undoubtedly be considered grounds for disqualifications to serve in such a significant role. Article of Faith 5 states: "We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof." (A+of+F 1:5) What is more, those who fill these positions are not compensated.
  • No tithing funds provide for General Authorities' living stipends; such funds are drawn from business income earned by Church investments.
  • The Latter-day Saint practice of not paying our ecclesiastical leaders is not evidence of the truthfulness of the Church. As with other issues, the real question regarding the "truthfulness" of the Church hinges on the endowment of priesthood keys and authority on those who lead the Church. Temporal matters and how they are handled are governed by spiritual principles. Leaders who serve faithfully should be sustained regardless of their personal finances or needs for modest financial assistance.

There can be no doubt that the Church does have an unpaid ministry. More precisely, it does not have a professional clergy. Much of the day-to-day “ministering” that goes on in the Church takes place at the local, i.e., ward and/or stake level. Leaders at the local level -- that is, bishops, stake presidents, relief society presidents, elders quorum presidents, and other leaders or auxiliary workers -- do not receive any kind of pay for the temporary, volunteer service they render. They likewise do not receive any kind of scholastic training to prepare them for their service.

Some General Authorities receive a modest living stipend

Some members of the Church are unaware that at least some General Authorities do receive a modest living stipend. While it is true that some Church leaders receive a living allowance while they serve in a given position, it cannot be said that the Church has a professional ministry in the traditional sense.

Receiving a living stipend does not qualify as priestcraft

Church members have a particular sensitivity to issues surrounding paid ministries particularly due to admonitions in the Book of Mormon relative to a practices known as priestcraft, which is "that men preach and set themselves up for a light unto the world, that they may get gain and praise of the world; but they seek not the welfare of Zion" (see 2 Nephi 26:29). However, it should be noted that priestcraft as it has been defined is a condemnation of intent (to get gain and praise, and not for the welfare of Zion), and not about an individual receiving support.

Church employees are not compensated for ecclesiastical service

While a small number of Church members seek full-time teaching positions within the Church Education System as instructors, they are not compensated for ecclesiastical leadership or service. No tithing funds are used to pay Church employees. Their salaries come from church investments in companies that deal with real estate like Deseret Management Corporation and Deseret Ranches, communications (TV, radio, Internet) like Bonneville Communications and Deseret News, and property management and services like Zion's Securities Corporation and Temple Square Hospitality.

Notes

  1. Bill McKeever, "Mormonism's Paid Ministry," (accessed April 28, 2008); Sandra Tanner, "Do Mormon Leaders Receive Financial Support?" (accessed April 28, 2008).