THE MORMON CURTAIN
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LDS CHURCH OFFICE BUILDING
The LDS Church Office Building is the tallest building in Utah. It sits directly East of the Salt Lake Mormon Temple and is the heart of the LDS Corporation. The Church Office Building is known as the "COB" in Salt Lake and to members and former members.
| I used to work in downtown Salt Lake City, and having shared my bus seat with church office building employees many times, I heard a lot of what went on there.
Here are a few inspirational stories I heard on the bus.
The St. George Temple was damaged in an earthquake in 1992. They sent an engineer down to inspect it, and he found heavy damage, even though the temple had been renovated sometime in the 80s. It turns out the roof was designed by the same man who designed the Salt Lake Tabernacle roof: both were designed like a lattice-work bridge. The design required that “footings” be built down into the walls to support the roof. In the St. George Temple over the years, those footings were removed or modified to accommodate air conditioning units or just for storage space. This resulted in the roof literally just sitting on top of the outer walls, just barely attached. So when the earthquake happened, there wasn’t much holding the building together, and the walls separated and the roof nearly collapsed.
At one point, they rewrote the book that is for small groups attempting to hold church services, usually at home. The book was written with input from all the organizations and outlined how to hold basic meetings. The general authority who reviewed it scrawled “NO!” across the front page and wrote a scathing letter saying that this was too much information; it should be at most half the size it was. So, they had someone edit it down to where it said next to nothing, but it was the size the GA wanted (I think it was only 10-15 pages long at that point). The GA said it was perfect. Of course, soon after the book was published, letters began coming in from these small branches asking for more information. So, the different organizations came up with a standard letter to send in response, which included the stuff the GA had wanted cut out.
A young woman told me how distraught she was to see a report on the church’s cooperation with Catholic charities in Australia. It said basically that they weren’t doing it to help relieve human suffering, but it was part of an effort to improve the church’s image there. Basically, they figured that working with the Catholics would make them look more mainstream.
One day, a guy looked up from his cubicle to see two men in dark suits walking the guy in the next cubicle out the door. Apparently, he had a stash of porn in his desk, which had been discovered by a janitor. Doh! Um, the church office building is not a good place to keep your porn.
At one point, there was some disagreement over the content of the Aaronic priesthood manuals (not sure what the issue was). Anyway, they had already printed 50,000 or so of the first manual, which had a photo of a latino young man praying or reading the scriptures or something on it. To settle the dispute, one of the GAs took the manual home and read it. He said he was OK with the content but said that the covers had to go. So they paid for all the covers to be ripped off all 50,000 manuals and replaced with covers having no pictures. The guy sitting next to me, who was in charge of the manual, said “If you ever repeat this, I’ll deny it, but I’m sure the covers would have been OK if the boy in the picture was white.”
| I assume everyone knows GBH lives on the top floor of the condo just to the east and north of the Eagle Gate Monument on State Street (just east of the COB block). It along with many other structures downtown is connected by tunnels. GBH can go basically anywhere he has business without ever being seen and does so on church owned golf carts, with a passel of church security always in tow. As to a 25 mile tunnel connecting the SL temple to the Granite Mountain Vault - a question that was asked of me a couple of days ago…. Answer: duh!
There used to be a Maverick convenience store on the street level below GBH's condo. It may still be there. There was an effort by the Church a few years back to evict Maverick early from its lease - it almost came to light in the press, but didn't make it as far as I know..... It seems that Maverick has a soft drink "refill" policy at most of its stores. For about 25 cents, you could refill a large plastic cup with soda - somewhere in the neighborhood of 40+ ounces.
It seems that many of the mormon faithful who had jobs as employees at COB would sneak over to the Maverick and re-fill their cups on a regular basis with Coke or Diet Coke for 25 cents and return to the COB with full cup in hand and a caffeine bounce for the day. Some of the larger COB duffers would bypass the official crosswalks and break SLC Laws regarding jaywalking when the pang for the sinful caffeinated drink overcame them.
Word went out through formal channels to all employees, although it was never in writing, that they could no longer frequent the Maverick for their soda refills. Some of these COB folks obviously didn't get the word.....and it continued to be a problem....
So the brethren decided to do the next best thing and that was to shut the Maverick down....How embarrassing for the Church for their employees to be bringing this kind of contraband into the COB - Geese, it might as well have been porn or something.... you know what they say, smokin' pot will lead to the hard stuff.
Maverick rallied their corporate troops and decided to fight the battle in court... the Church backed down. I haven't noticed if that "degenerate" establishment is still located next to the sacred church complex anymore or not.... Funny though, you could always get a "caffeine free" diet coke in the vending machines in the snack area of the 1LL of COB, it does seem to me that they were a bit pricy though.....
Anyone else remember this?
| A little background is called for here and may not seem relevant at first, but it is. Back in the early 80's the Japanese were making inroads into the American economy. In the 60's "made in Japan" meant junk, in the 70's things began to improve for the Japanese image, and finally in the 80's consumers began to wake up and notice the low prices, quality and reliability from Japanese suppliers.
The church was no different. Pianos, automobiles, copiers, and all sorts of other products could be purchased from the Japanese more cheaply than from U.S. suppliers- this was particularly true of newer electronic products of the time such as VCR's, etc., which were pricy and were needed in large numbers by the church for meetinghouses.
While many of the Japanese businessmen at the time were learning English and becoming accustomed to doing business with U.S. companies, a few who innocently made the mistake of doing business with the church got burned. As no doubt some of you former Japanese missionaries will validate, the Japanese way of doing business is based on humility, honor and dignity. The Japanese were seldom disappointed in their agreements with U.S. firms; the church was an exception….
A fairly high level individual who worked at COB played the role of chief negotiator for the church in the early-mid 80's in dealing with the Japanese - the position this person held had previously been held by a GA. Unfortunately, this individual was not honest or honorable in the way he played the game and misrepresented the church's need for products by wildly exaggerating the number of products that the church intended to buy. This resulted in significant reductions in the price of products and often resulted in the companies "ramping up" their production to supply the anticipated needs of the church. Some Japanese businessmen who held the church account would, as a result, lose their jobs when the church's promises were not kept.
In the normal course of doing business with other companies, the Japanese would most often enter into binding contracts with penalties for not meeting anticipated quantities. In the case of the church, this often did not happen, because of the initial respect the Japanese had for the church.
The credibility of the church was often established by treatment by their LDS hosts during initial visits to SLC by top Japanese executives. These visits would often include a free tabernacle choir tape, a VIP tour of Temple Square and often lunch with the presiding bishopric or other LDS dignitaries. Former missionaries who had served in Japan and who spoke Japanese were called upon to accompany the entourage and the Japanese were usually (although unwittingly) impressed with their hosts' conviction to their religion.
In one particularly egregious incident of deception by the church, the president of a well known Japanese company sent a letter to the church and the negotiator using the term "dishonorable" in describing the church's business practices. As with most other complaints leveled against the church in the way it does business, the compliant fell on deaf ears at COB and the practice of inflating numbers continued.
A few years later, the church individual involved was eventually quietly asked to leave the employ of the church. This was not because of any disloyalty to the church's business mission, but because of some irregularities in departmental funds and the finding that the individual enjoyed taking family members along at church expense for extravagant and often unnecessary business trips, often to exotic international locales. This person's church membership was held in good standing throughout the whole episode.
A few months later, it was learned that this individual had secured the chief scouting position with one of the three Utah Boy Scout councils. Having been a dignitary with the church, he was often invited back to dine with the authorities of the church. In one instance, where I was present, he jokingly talked about what was at the time the SME (Sustaining Membership Enrollment) fundraiser for Scouting, currently called Friends of Scouting (this is to the largest extent a Utah phenomena as scouting units outside of LDS control use other methods of raising funds) .
He explained that with the church's aid, this was how it worked; (1) the council would ask all those who prepared budgets within the council to think of everything they may need for the upcoming year and to add to that things they thought they might need and things they didn't need but wanted…(2) this was given to the council financial committee and chief scouter, who would then add their own needs and wants. (3) 10% was added to the figure submitted to the church for collection from members in the annual fundraising drive. As a result of the church's aggressive scout fund drive - usually headed by a member of the stake presidency of each stake, collections were made. Typically, this individual laughed and joked, the council would receive 10% more in collections from the church than the inflated figures it had requested. He talked openly about how much he enjoyed his new job with scouting….Something to think about next time you're asked to donate…….
Please note: I am not anti-scouting… just passing on what I learned while at COB.
| The 26th floor of the church office building has two public viewing areas (one on the east side and one on the west) that allow a visitor to look out over the downtown area of Salt Lake City and on good weather days, see the entire Salt Lake valley. There are always anxious elderly missionaries on the lookout for those non-members who may be visiting… so as to give them the “inspired” version of local church history as they point out sites of interest.
If you’re ever up there, notice the large inward turned security grates that prevent anyone from trying to climb up on the ledge for a better view. These were features added later to the building as it became evident that many faithful saints felt a spiritual prompting to heft themselves a little early into the terrestrial kingdom by jumping off the side. It was a PR nightmare for the Church, so the grates were added to prevent these inconvenient distractions from hindering the missionary work with non-members.
In between the two viewing areas is a large enclosed banquet room. As a visitor, you’d never see this part of the 26th floor – as it is closed off to the public. “Official” church eating and entertaining functions are carried on in this room that also has a great view of the valley below. The term “official” here is used a little bit loosely…..ordinary church members would not normally be given any access to this room….. but if you happen to be one of the brethren, or someone of high or important standing, you might be able to reserve the floor for a personal reception, or other event of your choosing – often without charge for the room.
Twas a day when things were hectic in the COB office building with the work of the Lard, that several busy church management level employees were asked to help with catering a private function….as servers. It seems that one of the brethren had a wedding luncheon scheduled for a daughter and the kitchen help was a bit was short handed. Being the faithful worker bees that we were, we obliged….hoping maybe to win the good graces of our overseers by helping to dig the ox out of the mire….but alas we were not inspired in our thinking…….
As is usual, the event was running on “mormon standard time”, meaning that everything was happening later than planned, including the food preparation. We hurriedly served salads, punch, and then the main course. Shortly thereafter, complaints began coming in concerning the punch. Apparently someone in the kitchen had mistakenly (or purposely) added salt to the punch instead of sugar…(in other words the event was “salt bombed”). Several of the brethren were in attendance with their wives/family members….and needless to say; “Hell” had to be paid…...before the day was over the manager in charge of the catering function for the church was unemployed, whether the devil got his soul too…we don’t know……
Maybe you’ve seen the movie narrated by BKP about “mercy and justice”…… well, there was no mercy that day, and most of us felt like there wasn’t any justice either…..it was evident the poor guy who was held responsible and lost his job was not the culprit and the person responsible was never caught. Many of us working as “servers” that day felt the pang of guilt by association….we were very visible to all in attendance including to some of the GA’s who knew us….and a few of us wondered if we might even have the scale of mercy and justice hit us in the head as well….
By the way, for our efforts as servers, we were awarded a free meal ticket in the church cafeteria….with no dollar limit indicated. A couple of guys who’d been servers got the idea that they could use the ticket for “take-out” and grabbed a couple of whole cakes as they were checking out with their meals….. the cashier never questioned the transaction and it became standard practice for a while to get a whole cake with your free meal…. until there was a new manager hired in the cafeteria.
| A previous post about downtown reminded me of this story that I think is Hilarious.
Last summer, I worked for a company that did the office furniture for the Church Office Building (and that little building accross the street north). I spent about 7 months working there redoing about 5 different levels. We had a crew of between 5-15 the whole time.
Anyway, The first thing you notice from working there is that many people seem angry. Not that anyone is yelling, but it just doesn't feel good. Having been to hundreds of businesses in SLC over 6 years, I noticed that every business has a different attitude within.
We had daily appointments to park our truck in front of the building at 8:00 SHARP every morning. To emphasize sharp, we were (no lie) 2 minutes late one morning and our supervisor promptly recieved phone call complaint from someone at the COB. The same thing happened when we arrived 5 minutes early. They called our office, asked for the owner, and made an official complaint about how we didn't know how to keep appointments! unbelievable. So we ended up just parking on the side of the road down the street until we could arrive at precisely 8:00am.
That type of attitude was prevalent. The worst offender was from a guy named Vance who I think was in charge of deliveries and things like that, but he was by no means the only one with the tattle syndrome.
They also called to complain whenever someone on our crew was outside smoking on the sidewalk in front of the COB. They insisted that all smokers walk to the state street intersection, and cross the street to smoke. In their own words: "This is a deal breaker". I hate smoking as much as anyone, but to make someone cross the street when they are already outside on the sidewalk? Crazy!
The best moment of all was when, on our very last day, after about 7 months of being there everyday, I recieved the best news of all. While waiting for an elevator, (all floors require a key-card-badge) a slender woman came bursting into the litle room that has access to the freight elevator (on the first floor) and promptly demmanded: "WHO ARE YOU GUYS?!" We informed her of who we were and what we were doing there. She complained that only one person was swiping their badge whenever we entered the elevator, so the security couldn't tell who was entering the building. I said: "that's weird, it sure hasn't bothered anyone for the last 7 months, it's suddenly a big deal now?"
Then she yells: "YOU GUYS HAVE NO IDEA ABOUT ANYTHING! THE TWELVE ARE VERY CONCERNED ABOUT YOU TWO GOING UP AND DOWN IN THE ELEVATOR ALL THE TIME!"
Unbeliveable. The 12 are very concerned about it? That event has since become a favorite joke at my work whenever we had a job to do for the church. "Make sure that the 12 don't get overly concerned this time."
It's like the biggest butt kissers and tattlers in the mish become APs. Same thing must be true in the COB.
| Daughter who works the COB put in her notice. no job to go to.
I have written occasionaly to tell you what she tells me.
She hates her job. Her job requires at least a 2 year degree, she has a 4 year degree and is working on her masters.
She answers phones and checks on others work to make sure that it is input correctly.
She told her supervisor that it is like going to church 6 days a week. When she started there, people told her that she had better have a strong enough testimoney, she confessed her testimony was not strong enough. When every meeting finance meetings included, always included a prayer, hymn and refreshments were present, it just got to be to much church. With her master's degree coming up, she will have no chance for advancement because she was born (horror of horrors) with a vagina instead of a penis.
I am really proud of her, funny thing is, she is on her way out and does'nt realize it.
| It's been almost a year since I came here, having figured out what Mormonism really was. I thought I'd repost my church office building experiences for the new folks in honor of the anniversary:
I've shared the following with a few people, but I thought you might like to hear it all. I could say a lot more, and I probably will sometime in the future, but here are a few highlights from my church employment.
I got a summer internship as an editor for the church. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, as I was doing real work and getting paid for it. I edited such exciting things as the organ recital programs, but also I did a lot of software documentation there.
The next spring, I got a real job in the software industry and was making a starving wage, at the same time "managing" 4 other people. My old boss from the church called and asked me if I would be interested in working full-time for the church. It was a big pay raise, so I took it.
I don't remember what I did when, but here are some of the things that happened. I worked in a tiny office overlooking Temple Square.
I got assigned to edit the Aaronic Priesthood manuals. Previously, there were 6 manuals, 2 for each quorum. They reduced these to 3 and recycled the old lessons. As usual, I edited them, meaning that I rewrote quite a bit of it. Some of it was positively Neanderthal in outlook. One lesson about sex contained a bunch of bizarre quotes. The one that sticks out the most was this quote, which was used in a way to suggest that men would naturally abandon home and family if it weren't for our sex drive: "This power must be strong, for most men by nature seek adventure. Except for the compelling persuasion of these feelings, men would be reluctant to accept the responsibility of sustaining a home and a family. This power must be constant, too, for it becomes a binding tie in family life" (I looked this up on lds.org). I replaced it with a quote from SWK saying that the sex drive is a gift from God to be used in marriage.
I removed a lot of the Utah-culture specific references, dated material, etc., and turned in my revision. The curriculum guy completely freaked. He had personally promised a member of the First Presidency that we would save money by reusing the old stuff verbatim. I said the money savings were moot now because the changes had already been made and it would still have had to go to correlation. Nope, I had to put all the stuff back. Being a good sheep, I did, though grumbling. I managed to leave out the most egregiously bad stuff in there, like the sex quote above.
In the meantime, these two curriculum guys in charge of this manual put their pet "God's writing style" lesson in. They had been assigned to recheck all the footnotes in the scriptures. Oddly enough, some of the same phrases appear over and over (most likely because Joseph wasn't very original). This means that God has favorite phrases and a distinct writing style. Anyway, I objected, but both these guys were on vacation, so I went to their boss, who agreed and told me to rewrite the lesson. When they came back they had a fit, and I was called to a meeting in their boss's office. The one guy literally screamed at me, "I haven't worked 25 years in CES to have some punk kid come in and rewrite my work!" Their boss did not back me up, and the crappy lesson went back in, with some modification. Then I got yelled at because we had a 52-page correlation report (maybe I'll explain how that works later). They said it wouldn't have happened had I not insisted on so many changes.
At the same time, they were doing the same thing to the young women's manuals. Some of the work overlapped, so we helped each other out. Even though I managed to get some of my changes in, they would not let her make even the most minor change. I asked her why they wouldn’t give her the time of day, even though she’d been there 20 years. She said it was because she didn't have a penis. When we got the press proofs back, mine was in Helvetica, and hers was in Palatino, a much more readable font. We asked why, and the layout guy said, "Helvetica is much more masculine font." The other editor said, "Is that because it's more erect?" I just about died laughing.
They printed 50,000 of those manuals, and each had a photo of a black boy praying on the cover. Before they were sent out, someone complained to a member of the First Presidency about the content, and he read a copy. He said it was OK, but the cover had to go. So they paid temps to come in and use razors to cut the covers off so they could be rebound. The curriculum guy told me, “I’m sure [the FP member] would have been fine if the boy on the cover had been white. But don’t tell anyone I said that, or I’ll deny it.”
Then we did the new Primary manuals. Rather than being based on moral lessons (Little Donny stole some gum from the store, what should he do?), they were to be scriptures-based and leave a lot of discretion to the teacher. The Primary general president had a fit, saying that there was no way kids could grasp such difficult things. So, we had a big meeting with two seventies, the Primary president, her assistant, and representatives from editing, graphics, printing, and production. Before the GAs got there, the Primary president and her assistant started singing Primary songs. My boss told me that it was done to take control of the meeting by throwing everyone off. Didn’t work. Everyone agreed that the new manuals were pretty good, though the Primary president and her buddy strenuously objected. They argued for black tabs (!) on the page edge so that you could thumb through the manual. No way, we said. They insisted that the lessons needed to be dumbed down and more explicit. Not going to happen. When we left,everyone was supposedly on board. As we went down the elevator, my boss said, “Today I learned that when you are playing with the Primary, you are playing hardball.” The next day my boss called me, furious because the Primary president had made a phone call to someone in the twelve to back her position. The two seventies were pissed, as no one likes getting a call from the twelve ordering you to change your mind, and in the end she didn’t get her way.
Church departments are extremely territorial. Once I worked on an innocuous little fold-out brochure with a map showing “points of interest” in downtown Salt Lake. It was done and the color proofs came back from the press. Color proofs mean that the multimillion-dollar press in West Valley City is loaded and ready to roll. Only serious issues are enough to correct because it costs money to load the press. I got a call from the guy who created the brochure, and he said, “I have the color proofs. I’m concerned that the Relief Society Building is on the map but not labeled, and there’s no explanatory blurb.” I told him that this thing was essentially a reprint and that the RS building had never been mentioned before. Who wants to tour that building, anyway? He said, “Well, you should probably call over to the Relief Society just to make sure.” WTF? I thought. But, I was obedient and called over there. I had no idea who to talk to, so I just asked the operator to someone who could help me. 3 transfers later, I was on speaker phone with the Relief Society general president. She said, “I was just talking about this with [the Primary and Young Women presidents], who are with me now. We are very concerned that our building is not mentioned.” I said that this brochure was reprinted at least once a year, so we’d put it on the next one, but it would be far too costly to stop the presses at this time. “I don’t have the authority to make this change,” I said. “You can do this, John,” she said curtly and hung up on me. I called the guy back and thanked him for setting me up. I said, “You’re the originating department. You’re going to have to tell them no.” Nobody likes to say no up there.
My colleague edited the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet. I was “second editor” on it, meaning that I did a few proofreads/copy edits after he had seen it. It had gone to the Twelve in a much more explicit form than the way it was eventually published. When it came back from the Twelve, it had initialed comments in the margins, the vast majority of which were cuts marked “BKP.” Everything explicit was removed. And we’re not talking soft-core porn, just definitions of terms. I don’t know about you, but I was married before I understood what was meant by petting, and I’m still not sure what “heavy petting” is. The reason for doing so was that these terms could be defined by bishops and quorum instructors (even though the manuals tell them not to do so). Lessons aren’t carried around in teenage boys’ pockets, and we didn’t want to give them any ideas. Yeah, that’s it. Boys must be taught to have a sex drive and masturbate. Another colleague told me that years earlier she had worked on “A Parents Guide” which originally had been a manual for couples about making marriage work, including issues of intimacy. A panel of family therapists, psychologists, physicians, etc., had written the manual, and 11 of the 12 apostles had approved, but one was adamant that the church had no business talking about these kinds of things. She wouldn’t say who it was, but she gave enough hints that I knew she meant BKP. The manual ended up being exclusively about parenting, with some high-level stuff about teaching your kids the facts of life. Totally worthless.
Speaking of worthless, one day my boss came into my office, seething with anger. He had been working on the Branch Guidebook, a little 20-page booklet about how to run a bare-bones branch from your home. My boss got input from all the relevant organizations, and the book expanded to about 28 pages, with a little bit more detail on how to run the meetings and the addition of photos. It came back with the word “NO!!!!!” scrawled across the front page and underlined in red pencil. Clipped to the draft was a scathing letter from one of the 70, who said this was “a mile off the mark” because in expanding the book, we were trying to impose “Wasatch front culture” on other parts of the world. If anything, he said, it should be smaller, at most 12 pages. My boss said he was too upset to deal with this project, so he said, “Just do what you have to do to fit it in 12 pages.” Including the photos. So I hacked at it until it was just 12 pages. It said next to nothing. It went back to the GA, who loved it. Almost immediately after its release, letters began pouring in from small branches asking for more information. So, I edited a series of form responses from the different organizations, which contained the stuff I had deleted from the guide book.
When I arrived at the COB, there was a guy whose job was to proofread three things: stationary, “signage” (building signs), and the little quotes they put up in the elevators. At some point, I got asked to do the signs, and my boss put a sign above my nameplate saying “Mr. Signage.” At that time they were redoing the Hotel Utah into Church offices, and I got to do the signs. For this 10-story building, the main signs were made of brushed brass and cost $70-$150 apiece. On each floor outside the elevator was a sign that read “Accessible Restroom on First Floor.” I had to ask what that meant, and they said that it meant a wheelchair-accessible restroom was located on the first floor. I asked why they didn’t say that, and they told me that such was the official language required by law. I didn’t believe them and said they should at least put the little “handicapped” symbol on the sign, but they refused. On the first day of the open house for the building, there was a huge line at the first floor restroom becauseeveryone thought it was the only one in the building. They had to redo the signs for the 12 floors (including the 2 lower levels) at a cost of nearly $1000 dollars.
The guy who did the stationery also recorded church magazine tapes for the blind. Once a month he would go over to a studio and record the GAs reading their talks and articles. He said that he had gotten to know every one of the Twelve really well, except one, who would come in, read his part, and then leave. Never once did this man ask my friend anything about himself, his family, not even a polite greeting. It was always, “OK, what do I have to do?” and then he was done. Of course, this was a particular apostle who presents a rather kindly, grandfatherly persona. He told me of a time many years earlier when he had been present when a young man delivered ice cream for a COB party. He had gone in the wrong way and ended up outside a high-up GA’s office. He said that the GA unleashed a string of obscenities at high volume at this young man. I asked who it was, and he said he wouldn’t tell me because this GA had gone on to the highest levels of the church.
The grounds there are carefully manicured, and all publicly accessible parts of the building are kept immaculate. The Administration Building is astoundingly luxurious. But the nonpublic parts of the Church Office Building are threadbare and cheap. The interior walls in the building are vinyl-sided movable panels, most of which look like fake dark paneling from the 1970s. When I started, they just moved a couple of partitions and made my office from a small unoccupied space off a hallway. The carpets were a light gold color and were very worn. The seams between carpet pieces had long since worn away, and there were gaps of 6-12 inches where the worn pad was showing. One Monday morning, I came in to find that the gaps had been repaired by stitching together the carpet sections with what looked like fishing line. So, there were Frankenstein-like scars on the carpet every few feet.
On our floor was the typesetting department. One morning I came in to find that some strange-smelling liquid had soaked the carpet outside the typesetting offices. My boss said he hoped it wasn’t toxic. I found out that day that they kept highly toxic and dangerous chemicals in there, but there was no notice outside or any hint that we were in a potentially dangerous place.
People often told me that the COB was a “sick” building, that a lot of people had health problems after starting there. I developed a constant ache in my chest (not the burning in my bosom) when I was working there. My doctor diagnosed me with an inflammation of the cartilage in my rib cage. I took large doses of anti-inflammatories for over a year. It went away mysteriously after I quit working there. One time they sent a memo out saying that they were “retrofitting the peripheral units.” No one knew what that meant, but they came and replaced all the vents and filters in the building with smaller ones. Soon after that I developed adult-onset asthma.
| Just so everyone has a chance to read this, here's what a former church insider said in another thread here about the church's money management
I asked him if the Twelve Apostles operated as a board of directors would in a corporation, by overseeing the money. He replied:
There is a fair amount of competition between the apostles and first presidency. The First Presidency is a step above the apostles. The apostles aren't like a board of directors in that the first presidency is in charge when the prophet is alive and well. When the prophet dies and the first presidency dissolves then the apostles apparently assume authority of the Church. I say apparently because it is pretty much a done deal that the longest standing apostle will be the prophet.
When asked who sees the total assets of the church, he explained:
Only the top financial controller and his financial consolidation staff and the first presidency know the total financial position and investments of the Church. This information was never consolidated onto one piece of paper in case it somehow was to get into the wrong hands.
When asked if the top money controller (Hinckley) cared about church doctrine in guiding money decisions, the Insider observed:
The top financial controller is chosen very carefully and is not just someone who works up through the positions in the Corporation of the President. He is usually from one of the Church elite families. The financial consolidation team is disciplined very carefully to never share any information with anybody including apostles.
Total Church financial data can only be shared through the top financial controller via the First Presidency. I remember the big deal when there was a big civil child abuse lawsuit against the Church about 15 years ago. The judge requested to know the total financial position of the Church which apparently was his right in this case. The First Presidency fretted over this for weeks. The Church Financial controller told us (his staff) all about his assignment to show this consolidated data to the judge like it was a big spiritual experience and special trusted calling. It apparently is the first time the information had been put on one piece of paper in his (controller's) experience.
My experience in the COP is that Hinckley could care less about doctrine. He was only concerned about budgets, projects, and secrecy of the Church investments and assets. This is one thing that helped me see the light, turn the corner and exit the Church and thus Church employment. If you want to get to the bottom of an organization... just follow the money trail.
I'm sure others have questions, but mine would be:
1. Why do you think Hinckley is so obsessed with secrecy?
2. Considering this closed system of financial control, how vulnerable is it to misuse of funds or outright corruption?
3. How does what you explain relate to Ensign Peak Advisors?
According to the Salt Lake Tribune:
"[The largest investment fund in Utah] is managed by Ensign Peak, a nonprofit corporation organized in 1997 to "benefit, perform the functions of, or carry out the purposes of" the LDS Church, according to Ensign's articles of incorporation."
"Ensign Peak's board of trustees includes LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley and two members of the LDS Church's Quorum of Twelve Apostles, Robert D. Hales and Henry B. Eyring. Hales is a former general manager of Gillette, vice president of Max Factor International and president of Hughes Broadcasting Corp."
"Ensign Peak's president is Roger G. Clarke, an investment and options scholar who concurrently serves as chairman of Analytic Investors Inc., a Los Angeles firm with $3.1 billion in assets under management, as of Dec. 31, 2002."
| For those who don't know me, I have been posting from time to time the this board since the late 90's. That's when my wife and I resigned from the Church. We walked out of Church one day never to return. Up to that day, we had never missed a sunday meeting, tithing payment, our boys all went on missions, our eligible children all married in the temple. I am from a 6 generation Mormon family on both sides with pioneer ties right back to Joseph Smith in Nauvoo. I am a BYU graduate. We debated the subject for 10 years before resigning. We gave the 'Church' every benefit of the doubt until there were none left. I worked for the COP finances for 12 years in upper middle management until I could no longer stand the hypocrisy.
I have many things that I am willing to share in my experience, but I have lost a lot of my anger and angst over the subject of Mormonism in my life over the last 5 years or so and so I am not so anxious to participate in the board, etc. as much as I once was. I also shy away from some on the board who are quick to label someone who has real inside information as a 'fake' or a troll. I have been posting responsibly on this board longer than 95% of you. For me this is an adventure of a lifetime, and I am in no hurry to wow anybody who doesn't want to believe me and I will continue divulge my observations and opinions at my own pace.
There is no way that I know of to completely follow the money trail in the Church unless you are the prophet himself. There is no way to verify anything that I say so you might as well not insist on it. The only verification can come from other ex employees that may say the same thing I do or some of you who seem to have a little bit more insight that truly understands mormonism and thus see that what I say 'rings' true.
I was the first to mention the 'Ensign Peak Advisors' on the board in the late 90's before any of this was public knowledge. I got a lot of skeptical responses from some here so I backed away. Maybe some of you will listen now. When I worked there, Ensign Peak Advisors was top secret. I heard my superiors mention it and everyone just 'knew' this was something you never talked about. I knew it was very controversial based on the secrecy even on the inside. Indeed many assets were transfered from the COP to this other 'company'. At that time Clarke worked in a back office secretly putting this altogether for Hinckley. There are probably many reasons for this new entity. One is to remove these assets from the Church in case of lawsuits. The other is to try to separate from 'tithing' funds so it can be used more flexibly and the Church can defensively say that Church funds wasn't used to do this or that.
I do think Hinckley is involved in diversion of a lot of money to the benefit of his ego, friends and relatives. This does not come solely from my experience on the 'inside' but from following leads in newspapers, magazines, interviews, etc. I look forward to perhaps participating more on the board than I have for the last few years.
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