Letters to the Editor

Your views in 200 words or less

ROMNEY: Don’t use tithing to hide taxes

Letter by Mary L. Young, Lake Tapps on Aug. 27, 2012 at 11:16 am with 30 Comments »
August 27, 2012 2:35 pm

Mitt Romney says he can’t release his tax records because that will reveal how much money he charitably tithes to his church.

Figuring tithing is easy: Look at your gross income, move the decimal point one space to the left and pay that. I tithe, too, and you can probably find out how much. Check the pay scale for para-eds in Sumner, move the decimal point one space to the left, and there you are.

Of course, I am not running for president and have nothing to hide. Also, such an exercise will not tell you how much I give elsewhere, or to whom. And tithing is not charity; it’s a commandment. If a Mormon wants to participate in temple ceremonies or hold responsible office in the church, he or she must pay tithing.

Mormon kids grow up jokingly calling it “fire insurance,” referencing a scripture that promises one will not burn at the Second Coming if one has paid tithing.

Ann Romney says, “When Mitt and I write that check, I actually cry.” This is a common Mormon expression that means she has deep spiritual feelings about the process; Mitt, however, says, “So do I, but for a different reason.”

Bad joke, Mitt, and bad form. This is not about a sacred responsibility; this is just another way to hide – what? Be honest with us, Mitt, and release those tax forms.

Leave a comment Comments → 30
  1. Frankenchrist says:

    We all know that Romney worships money. The Mormon Church controls vast amounts of wealth; it’s basically a money-making operation. Bishop Mittens doesn’t want to release his tax returns because it would prove he pays more tithe to his church than taxes to his government. The lack of transparency for a man running for President of the United States is astounding.

  2. alindasue says:

    “Mormon kids grow up jokingly calling it “fire insurance,” referencing a scripture that promises one will not burn at the Second Coming if one has paid tithing.”

    This is the first time I’ve heard that one…

    Paying tithing is required to get a temple recommend (as is attending meeting, doing assigned callings, etc), but usually the talk at church is about how paying tithing first helps us to keep our focus when planning our budgets.

    The “vast-amounts of wealth the church” that comes from tithing has goes towards the running of the church (utilities, etc), building of chapels and temples, educations supplies, and the like. None of it goes to pay clergy because we have no paid clergy.


    Other voluntary offerings (outside of tithing) made to the church go to dedicated funds. For instance, the church’s welfare and humanitarian funds are supported by “fast offerings”, paying an amount equal to what we would have spent on meals skipped during the monthly Fast Sunday. Some people also choose to donate more than just fast offerings to those funds… or to specific building funds, missionary funds, and so on. The church’s welfare and humanitarian work both within the church membership and in the general public is well known. Those are made possible through the efforts and offerings of the church members.

    Mitt Romney has said in the past that he pays about 14-15% in income taxes. If that is true, then it is very possible that he does pay more in tithes and offerings than he does in income tax.

    I’ll be frank. I’m not voting for Mitt Romney. I don’t like that he has changed several positions to appeal to the extremes of his political party. I don’t like his apparent lack of international diplomacy skills. I don’t like his over-eagerness to get us involved with Iran.

    However, if he really doesn’t want to show how much of his income goes towards tithes, offerings, or even other charitable contributions, he shouldn’t have to.

  3. SandHills says:

    There are a whole lot more stranger edicts Mormans must adhere to than tithing, which Christians also do.

    Can one get any stranger than those blessed under garments?

    Well, at least Mitt can reduce the budget for the Secret Service for that alone….

  4. Sandy, ever hear of a hijab?

  5. SandHills says:

    Clams, I assume it must be some Muslim attire – different cult, different edict….

  6. lylelaws says:

    I don’t practice religion but I get tired of the way some folks try to paint the Mormon faith as strange or somehow off-beat.

    I have never known any Mormons who were not honest, hard working and very family oriented and I don’t think that people should have to disclose how much they give to help others as long as they can produce the proof.

    Personally, I have never thought that religious donations should be tax deductable, but they are and the law is the law, so why do so many now just want to cite the Mormon faith? Could it possibly have anything to do with politics?

  7. SandHills says:

    Well Lyle, it isn’t hard to look too deep into Mormanism to see what such a strange cult it is.

    Kind of like seeing a snake and trying to paint it as a reptile….

    Maybe it is a part of politics this year…wonder why?

    Doubt it will be a subject in politics after November.

    But Mormanism will remain a strange cult….cut from the same cloth as Scientology. And just because millions pay to see a Tom Cruise movie doesn’t make his religion any less strange.

  8. alindasue says:

    Do you think the prayer shawl that an Orthodox Jew wears under his clothes to be strange? “Those blessed under garments” that we wear are really not much different than those prayer shawls. They are simply modest underwear that remind us to dress and act modestly. Like the prayer shawls, they have markings that remind us to look to the Lord in all our dealings and to pray always. We consider them to be sacred and not a topic for casual conversation because we consider all things having to do with Heavenly Father, Jesus, and their temples to be sacred.

    I’ve corrected you on many things having to do with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before, but I don’t think it matters what I say to you. I could argue that we are very much Christians, but you’ll still call us and every religion but yours a “cult” and continue to misspell “Mormon”…

    I never could understand why anyone would want to be deliberately ignorant about a topic. To me, knowledge is something to be continually strived for – even knowledge of people whose beliefs are different than my own. The best way to understand them is to ask them about their own beliefs and listen to their answers.

    Just out of curiosity, what religion do you not consider to be a “cult”?

    By the way, a ha-jib is like a hooded cape that some Muslim women wear. It covers the hair and lays loosely over the torso and arms. I know a good number of Somali women that wear them and some of them can be quite ornate and pretty. The women choose to wear them when they go outside the home for modesty reasons. Other women achieve the same effect with a couple attractively wrapped scarves.

    Such modest standards of dress are not unique to African Muslims. Look at the Russian Orthodox, the Mennonites, or even some very devout Catholics (all “strange” Christian sects). A nun’s habit is not too different from a ha-jib.

    lylelaws said, “…so why do so many now just want to cite the Mormon faith? Could it possibly have anything to do with politics?”

    Of course, it does. The Catholics went through the same thing when President Kennedy was running.

  9. Gee Clamat0 – are you trying to insinuate by your anti-Islamic statement that one of the candidates is a Muslim?

    Wow! I always thought you were one of the more rational, reality-based conservatives here….I guess I overestimated you.

  10. Folks –

    alindasue is clearly a devout LDS who is not going to vote for Romney.

    I have issues with LDS but would have voted for Jon Huntsman – who is Morman.

    The problem with Romney isn’t his religion. The problem with Romney is Romney.

  11. Frankenchrist says:

    Jon Huntsman was the one rational GOPer in the race. Of course, he came in dead last simply because he possesses those qualities. The GOP primary voter values stupidity and ignorance over intelligence and experience.

  12. SandHills – Actually, it would be more accurate to say that Scientology is cut from the same cloth as Mormonism – not the other way around. Joseph Smith’s golden tablets and visitation from the angel Moroni was WAAAAY before science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard decided to invent his religion which is clearly based, in a large part, on the extra-terrestrial aspects of LDS theology. All Hubbard really did was change the names of planets, etc.

  13. MyBandito says:

    Hopefully, Romney will refuse to make his tax returns public all the way up to the election. The gift that keeps on giving.

  14. SandHills says:

    Hey folks,

    Just commenting on the letter, not the wider issues of a Romney candidacy – which has it’s own shortfalls.

    But yes, I will admit straight-up that, in my opinion MormOnism, is a cult. And it surprises me that the same evangelical Christians who elected GW can support Romney – except that the ONLY reason is getting rid of Obama (and they would make a deal with the devil to do it). It also surprises me that those so adept at throwing rocks at Christianity (especially on the subject of same-sex marriage), seem to give Mormons a pass – even on their more strange practices and a very active opposition to same-sex marriage.

    Tithing, in itself, isn’t what concerned me, what someone does with their money is their business….except when they seek public office – especially the presidency (i.e. where are those tax returns Mitt?).

    But everyone is entitled to particular personal opinions that are no different than liking either chocolate or vanilla ice cream. You say tomAto, I say tomaahto.

    So for those who think what most people know about Mormonism is not strange (can’t speak about those rites and rituals we are not privy to) well, you are entitled to your opinion and religion. Just don’t keep talking around what is fact. Mormons changed a major tenant of their faith (polygamy) in order for Utah to become a state. Maybe they should have stuck to their guns on that one – and the U.S. Army may have had a better reason to go after them before rounding up the plains Indian Tribes (a Custer charge into SLC, instead of Greasy Grass, now that would have changed history) – and it would have avenged the Mountain Meadows massacre. Then they had to alter their baptism of the dead because Jews got a little upset because the Mormons were using Nazi documentation of holocaust victims – if this was a major tenant, why change because of bad press? Now we are being told by Romney that he is all for abortion in cases of rape, incest, health – but that and contraception has not always been approved by his religion, and is most certainly not what his running mate tried to get passed into law.

    It is just my opinion that Mormons stand for some pretty strange beliefs…except if it puts them in a bad light….then one of their Prophets will speak to God and that major tenant is changed.

    Romney, practices this same wishy-washy, secretive, lifestyle in his politics – not because he is a politician, but because slip-sliding on professed principles is his religion.

    For those who can compare Romney with JFK on religion, well all I can say is what is now known about JFK is that he was not altogether a practicing Catholic with his lifestyle. What worries me about Romney is that he does profess to be a strong adherent to the Mormon faith…and it is the strange aspects of his faith, like his taxes, that should be part of the discourse in this presidential race.

    Just saying….I am sure others disagree…that is what freedom is.

  15. SandHills says:

    One more aspect of how being a Mormon lets one know Mitt Romney even better. Mitt has morphed many times, he was the candidate before the primaries, he morphed during those primaries and debates, he has morphed again to try and get more central, but in picking Ryan he has shown he can still morph into whatever shape or flavor needed to hold the GOP behind him. And I am sure once the primary is over he will morph into the Mitt that tries to speak beyond his GOP base (which is only unified to beat Obama, nothing else unites the Ryan tea party wing, Southerners who have already voted against Romney, and any moderates left in the GOP). That is how the LDS has constantly morphed, dropping any major tenant if it gets them more accepted as a mainstream religion and not a fringe cult.

    I am looking forward to the post-convention discourse, as Romney attempts to slick-talk Obama ’08 voters to switch to him. He has to succeed in order to move into the Oval Office…but with the likes of Ryan out on the stump with him, I believe it will be one bridge too far, and too long of a stretch for him.

    Kind of like alindasue wanting us all to use the Mormon site to be sold on the facts about her religion…forgive me if I don’t want to go down that rabbit hole of fantasy, or cross that span Romney will try to build to carry his message, whatever it is today.

  16. Scottc51 says:

    Disagree with the politics, but to use religious discrimination to smear the candidate is simple bigotry. Anyone else’s religion can always be used as it is always weird to outsiders.

  17. SandHills says:

    Scott51, in regards to Mormonism I accept being called a bigot by anyone who can’t refute facts known about that cult. I will say I don’t like many of the aspects of the major cult of Islam either, and so I accept being called a bigot for holding to those opinions as well. I have read many posters on this forum who have some strong opinions about/against Christianity, or any other faith, and by your definition they too are bigots.

    What a person believes is their own business, but becoming a public person as Romney – especially as wanting to be the President for all Americans – makes his religion a public issue. Secrets – like what were the discussions about Iraq being held by Cheney with Halliburton/ oil execs (instead of meeting with the chief advisor for terrorism) prior to 9/11 is bad enough. Secrets about taxes and religion before they are even elected is something that is free game in this election.

    If having an opinion that is based upon facts is bigotry, well that really lowers the threshold for that label.

  18. lylelaws says:


    As someone who doesn’t practice religion, I could argue that all religions, are somewhat cult-like, but if they give people who practice them hope and comfort I respect their right to do so.

    After all such things as walking on water, parting the Red Sea, building an ark, feeding multitudes with one loaf………etc are a little hard to swallow in 2012 but the Bible cited them

    I think the real cultists are the athiests who who get their kicks out of debunking what others choose to believe.

    By the way SandHills, what if any religion do you practice?

  19. SandHills says:

    lyle, as one of my points, being a private person, everyone has the prerogative to hold their beliefs private.

    Such is not the case for Mitt Romney…. and the reason JFK had to distance himself from religion to satisfy many Southern voters. Which, ironically, Romney has not had to do since the majority of Southern Republicans (those who actually voted against him in the primaries) is willing to overlook it in order to defeat Obama.

    But Romney has a wide bridge to span in order to speak to those not already in his camp. Keeping secrets, taxes or religion, (which is a prominent aspect of Mormons) isn’t going to help him….and Ryan even less so.

    So let Mitt have his secrets….MyBandito is right about that….

  20. alindasue says:

    Jacob (aka Israel) had his 12 sons through multiple wives. Polygamy was a somewhat accepted practice at the time, but polygamy is not nor ever has been a tenant of Judaism. It is the same thing with the likes of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. Although they and some others did practice polygamy, it has never been a tenant of our faith.

    Way back in the early days of the church, a newspaper editor had asked Joseph Smith some questions about the church. He replied with a letter that contained a list we refer to as the 13 “Articles of Faith”. Number twelve reads:

    “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.”

    Simply put, when Congress made polygamy illegal, the church quit sanctioning it. To do otherwise would not be “sustaining the law”.

    You said, “Then they had to alter their baptism of the dead because Jews got a little upset because the Mormons were using Nazi documentation of holocaust victims – if this was a major tenant, why change because of bad press?”

    In doing genealogy, we use established records for documentation: public records and church records (often one in the same), ship manifests and immigration records, censuses, military records… and, yes, even Nazi records if that is where the document-able information (usually a death record) is.

    The work done in the temples by proxy for those who have passed on has not changed. The only change that has occurred is that the church is doubling down on reminding people that they are supposed to be doing work for their OWN ancestors and not some famous historical figures (unless they truly are your ancestors) and that with recently deceased, we are supposed to get permission from closer living relatives, if there are any, first. The definition of “recently deceased” has been changed from 70 years ago to 110 years ago because people are living longer these days. (Either way, whoever was doing work for holocaust victims wasn’t supposed to be.)

    One thing that a lot of people outside the church do not understand that we who are doing the proxy work in the temples do is that if I were to be baptized by proxy for my dead great-grandmother, that doesn’t automatically make her a Mormon. She has to choose that for herself. It only means that if she chooses in the afterlife to accept the Gospel, then the physical work of baptism, etc has already been done for her.

    By the way, SandHill, thanks for spelling “Mormon” correctly this time.

  21. SandHills says:

    And as Alice goes down the rabbit hole it gets strangerer and strangerer. Not willing to go down that hole with you Alindasue

    But in terms of factual history, the Senior Leaders/Prophets had to change from polygamy – it was a demand of Congress – but it still took nearly 30 years from the original petition for Utah to become a state, but that was the sticking point that had to happen for Congress would approve of statehood. Even though there are some – even closer to the Romney DNA – that moved to places like Mexico to continue the practice of polygamy – and some still profess that tenant today as true to the Mormon faith.

  22. alindasue says:

    Scott51 said, “Anyone else’s religion can always be used as it is always weird to outsiders.”

    Personally, I find the concept of paid clergy to be very weird…

    lylelaws said, “I could argue that all religions, are somewhat cult-like, but if they give people who practice them hope and comfort I respect their right to do so.”

    That is very true. When I look at a candidate, I care less what “cult” (religion) he belongs to and more at the character of the candidate himself. I’ve known good and not-so-good people of all religious persuasions.

    I admit I don’t know much about Scientology except that they believe in faith healing and L. Ron Hubbard started the religion. I don’t know much about L. Ron Hubbard except that outside his religious work, he wrote some half-way decent science fiction.

    I’m wondering though what “extra-terrestrial aspects of LDS theology” you think his religion might be based off. Do you consider angels to be extra-terrestrial? I can’t think of anything that might possibly be interpreted as “extra-terrestrial” besides that. Would you please clarify what you mean so we can discuss it? Thanks.

  23. alindasue says:


    You never did answer: What religion do you not consider to be a “cult”?

  24. -Both sects have an extraterrestrial component to them: The CoS has the story of Xenu, the evil galactic overlord who is responsible for the immortal, disembodied alien souls called body thetans* that infest the human body/mind and cause all our woes including sickness, war, crime, etc. The Mormons’ primary god lives on or near a planet/star called Kolob.

    Xenu and Kolob – Where Mormonism meets Scientology

  25. lylelaws says:


    By using the word “sect” you seek to brand Mormans as perverted folks like the James Jones followers or the Wacko people. That is a new low even for you.

    I don’t know if you belong to any religious group but if you do I wonder if others might think of your fellow believers as cultists or fanatics of some sort.

    I guess hate comes in all forms.

  26. Lyle – Really? You are trying to ban the word “sect”?

    Officer Laws of the P.C. Word Police.

       /sɛkt/ Show Spelled[sekt] Show IPA
    a body of persons adhering to a particular religious faith; a religious denomination.
    a group regarded as heretical or as deviating from a generally accepted religious tradition.
    (in the sociology of religion) a Christian denomination characterized by insistence on strict qualifications for membership, as distinguished from the more inclusive groups called churches.
    any group, party, or faction united by a specific doctrine or under a doctrinal leader.

  27. lylelaws says:


    You know perfectly well that the use of words like “Sect” and “Cult” conjure up pictures of fanitic zealots, but of course that is exactly what you are trying to do.

    We all know that the way words have alternate meanings.

    For example the word “scum” might just be a reference to the matter that forms on a cup of hot chocolate, but could also be used to describe someone who attempts to slime people because of their sincere religious beliefs.

  28. Lyle – I didn’t use the term “cult” as it, clearly, hasn’t derogatory implications. Sect, otoh, is neutral for just about everyone except those who are looking to be offended.

    BTW – since you aren’t Mormon, why do you feel you need to defend the faith against the power of the word “sect”?

  29. alindasue says:

    While I appreciate what you are trying to do, there really is no offense in the word “sect”. Heck, even “cult” doesn’t bother me too much. It just means something or someone with a devoted following. As a member of the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints, I gladly consider myself a member of the Jesus “cult” along with all the other Christians.

    Sorry, it’s been busy the last few days with birthdays and all, so I hadn’t scrolled back to this thread to respond to the “extra-terrestrial aspects” issue. I did read both the articles you linked me to.

    My responses to the “wonderwitch” article (note, I’m referring to the URL wording) could fill more space than we have here. Suffice it to say that some of the most inaccurate information about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints comes from people claiming to be “ex-Mormon”. I can only assume that the information in that article regarding Scientology is probably nearly as “correct”.

    To begin with, contrary to the implications in the article, there are no costs for entering and participating in activities in the temples. Those who do not have appropriate white clothing (suit or modest long dress) of their own may spend up to $4 total to rent needed clothing for the day at temples that have facilities to do so (not all do, as I found out when I visited the smaller temple in Spokane) but that is the extent of any costs at all associated with temple work.

    One does need a temple recommend to work in the temples. In order to obtain a recommend, one does have to be living worthily – not perfect (none of us are), but at least making an honest attempt to live according to the laws of God. Yes, that does include “the law of tithing”, a principle mentioned in the Bible and practiced throughout Christianity.

    There is no audit of any kind associated with tithing. At the end of the year, right before tax statements are sent out, most of us voluntarily make a “tithing settlement” appointment with the bishop. It generally consists of the bishop looking at the printed statement and telling us how much the records say we paid in tithes and offerings. He then asks if that sounds like the right amount. We tell him “yes” and that’s the extent of it.

    I do agree with one thing the article said: “Scientology cannot be called a “cult” if the Mormons are called a “church”.”

    That is very true. I don’t know enough about Scientology to say whether or not I would agree with any of their doctrines BUT they are just as much a “church” as any other.

    The “mysticpolitics” article and site were considerably more interesting. Clearly the article’s author considers scriptures unique to the church (and possibly even the Bible) to be works of fiction and he writes from that point of view. I can respect that, even if we do disagree.

    He is correct that Glen Larson, who is LDS, did inject a few elements recognizable by LDS people into his Battlestar Galactica series – for instance, Kobol (Kolob) and the “sealing” between Apollo and Serena. Of course, he also named the planets after zodiac signs and Adama’s children after Greek gods… lots of different sources intermingled.

    As you might already know, we have a few books that we consider to be “scripture”. There’s the Bible, of course, and the Book of Mormon which we consider to be a record of followers of God and of Jesus Christ’s visit here in the western hemisphere. (I speculate that there may have been others too, but those are the one’s we have.) We also have The Doctrine and Covenants, records of more modern prophets and revelations, and The Pearl of Great Price. The Pearl of Great Price is a small, sort-of etc. anthology that contains writings that don’t pigeon-hole into the other books.

    Included in the Pearl of Great Price are the books of Moses and Abraham. Those books were translated from some papyrus that were obtained by the Church from some Egyptologists a few years prior to Joseph Smith’s death. Of course, if you don’t believe that Joseph Smith, with God’s help, translated the Book of Mormon then you are not likely to believe he translated those books either – but that is where the books come from. Kolob is mentioned in the book of Abraham.

    There is an excellent and very detailed article on the book of Abraham that was published in our church magazine a while back. It’s available for viewing on the church’s website at: https://www.lds.org/ensign/1997/03/the-book-of-abraham-a-most-remarkable-book?lang=eng

    Note that the url is lds.org and not mormon.org. While mormon.org is pretty much our basic “this we believe” site, lds.org is the church’s main web site. It’s intended to be a resource used both by the general public and by church members. There is a “log in” for the site, but I only log in when I need to access personalized information like the local ward directory or calendar. I or any member of the public can access pretty much all of the non-personalized parts of the site without logging in.

    Each year, as they get things digitized, they put up more and more information onto the site. You can access scriptures, church publications, questions about doctrine, maps to church buildings, lesson manuals (including the Temple Preparation class manual), study guides, church news, videos, family resources, music files, hymns (both in printable form and as an interactive player)… and even an online piano course. The site is massive and very fun to play with.

    I found the above mentioned article as one of the results when I clicked on the “scriptures” tab (at the top of the page) then typed “kolob” into the search bar.

    As you know, I am always quite willing to answer any questions or concerns you and others may have about the church. However, everything short of our personal experiences is right there on the church’s site for everyone to see. We do have things we consider sacred, but we don’t have many secrets – at least when it comes to religious matters.

    Mitt Romney’s financial matters are another issue altogether…

  30. Sandy, re Custer at SLC

    The original Army fort built to protect SLC was built with all cannon mounted to fire AT the city rather than at hostiles approaching the city.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0