The Washington Post published this article today about the family dynamics wrapped up in the whistleblower complaint to the IRS about the LDS Church’s wealth and its alleged noncompliance with the laws governing nonprofits.
This particular passage prompted me to recall my own service as a Mormon missionary, and made me understand the situation these twin brothers faced little better:
Lars went to rural Mexico [on his mission], where he was a branch president for the church in two towns, a position usually reserved for someone older.
“That was the most powerful thing that could have happened to me,” he said of being responsible for 600 members. That experience “laid the foundation for all the future skepticism I had.”
When he learned from his brother about the church’s untapped funds, Lars said, he thought of the people he had pressed for donations. He recalled in particular a woman who went without food so she could contribute as much as possible to her tithe — which is 10 percent of one’s earnings — to try to help her ailing son.
“I’m crushed that I extracted the most regressive tax from people who were suffering and they never got it back and they don’t even know the money doesn’t go to anything good,” he said. “I can see the face of the old woman on my mission who starved herself so she could donate tithing that week because her son was dying and she thought it would help.”