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Radio Free Mormon: 167: Tithing Refund!

The good news is the First Presidency issued a letter announcing a tithing refund!  The bad news is the letter’s a fake.  What can we learn from this?  RFM takes us on a deep dive!


38 thoughts on “Radio Free Mormon: 167: Tithing Refund!”

  1. The “Easy Money” outro was hilarious. Also took me back to my youth listening to Billy Joel in the 1980’s. Loved it.

  2. Tithing Refund Fake Letter
    RFM did you just plagiarise from my post on the last podcast or do you also have a seer stone and a hat that provide revelatory ideas for your podcasts. I have often wondered how you manage the Herculean task of ideas for content of your podcasts day after day after day but now I think the truth is out you have your own seer stone and a hat don’t you come on admit it and maybe you have also started forging letters and put them out as genuinely from the first presidency and we know that you are well versed in the art of magic . Let’s see is there anyone else we now know who plagiarised other peoples stuff, forged documents, practised magic and produced revelation after revelation from a seer stone. Just in case you missed my post on the last podcast No 166 THE ANTIPATHETIC POLYGAMIST let me remind you of the section I believe you may have plagiarised. See I’m being a Fair Mormon it may be that you just didn’t read my post and that’s ok I’ve been married for 55 years so I am used to being ignored.
    “What now brings the promised peace of the Saviour into my life is remembering the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man who had everything yet would not part with even a crumb to give to the poor beggar on his doorstep whose only solace were the dogs that came and licked his sores.
    I believe the Q15 do not serve God by perpetuating the Lies and I believe that their main focus is on the vast wealth now owned by the Church and not the members. I believe like the rich man they will have their reward which may not be as pleasant as they believe so I leave this in the hands of a just God that I believe in. I am approaching 80 and I cannot reclaim the 40 years of our lives that might have been so different in the real world and not stolen from us by Lies.”
    So what about this Podcast “Tithing Refund” just for a second the old, but just about still functioning, pleasure zone of my heart began to stir as I contemplated what would I do with this unexpected windfall, perhaps a world cruise, or better yet a classic motorbike from the old days. Yes that’s it I thought as I remembered the fun we had on that 650 Triumph Thunderbird with Chris’s arms held tightly round my waste as we roared up the Airedale Valley towards the Yorkshire Dales and freedom oh the reckless days of our youth could we re-capture them. Soon I was falling back into reality as I remembered my friend Adrian just a few years ago disillusioned by the Church tried to claim his tithing back but hit a brick wall just like my cousin big Duncan, President of our local Chapter of the Hell’s Angels on his 750 twin Norton never has our town seen such funeral cortege with hundreds of Bikers following the Hearse with police managing every junction to ensure Duncan safe passage from the little Baptist Chapel built by our Great Grandfather and his sons High on the Pennine Hills to his final resting place. Oh how I miss him even more than the £100K locked away in some Salt Lake City Vault never to be seen again. I knew then this has got to be a fake.
    Any way at least you confirmed what I already believed the Q15 are so far into Mammon that even I am just a little concerned that their final resting place may be just a little too hot for them and I take some comfort from that.

    1. Dave,
      I enjoy your comments as well as many of the other regular posters I have come to know and love. :). I just wanted to remind you and everyone that there are good things that came out of our church association. In many cases it is our (larger) families, some friendships and some knowledge of Christ than can then be compared with Biblical Christianity which can lead to a true understanding of Grace and Christ. I’m glad you returned to the Church of your youth. And don’t forget it also gave us RFM!!!

      1. Jan.
        Ah the refreshing breeze of the church of my youth so uncomplicated in its worship where even the oldest among the little congregation are allowed and even encouraged to become as a little child especially at Christmas time when, the adults dress up and perform the Nativity themselves and this during the Sunday Service fills the little chapel with joy. Christmas Nativity in our LDS Sacrament Meetings performed by the children always brought a sweet spirit into the meeting and it was a time when non-member Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and friends accepted the invitation to come and see but this was put a stop to by the church hierarchy a few years ago. Such a Shame! Christmas Sacrament Meetings were never the same again the Christmas spirit was lost when the Children were Denied to come closer. However I do agree good things have come from Church association but these have become less and less over the years as the Q15 have methodically shifted all the worship to focus on them and what they say.

  3. Jim just in case you didn’t see it I did reply to your comments to me as Abou Ben Adhem was my Dads favourite. Take a look if you havn’t already done so.

  4. By chance, is there a link concerning the segment about the PEF? I tried to find in the talk by GBH, the part about the “principal” staying in the church fund and not leaving, but the “interest” being used to fund the returning missionaries’ schooling. Thanks for all the time you put into these podcasts, my husband and I go to bed listening to them, haha. Not doing well on not having social media or technology in our beds. I usually fall asleep to your voice and have to go back and re-listen to what I missed while asleep.

    1. The place I learned this was from the interview of Daymon Smith on Mormon Stories a few years back. He is the one I cited to in the podcast. You can find that, and a lot more, in those interviews! Highly recommended!

      I was actually concerned while I was recording that I couldn’t find this information anywhere on the Internet in written form. I was pretty sure I remembered it accurately because it made such an impression.

      But then I got the clip from President Hinckley and, as I was playing it, I laughed out loud when I saw that he actually said it himself! The loans are not from the fund, but from the “earnings from the fund.”

      President Hinckley didn’t actually lie about it, and I have to give him some degree of credit for that.

      The bar is admittedly getting low.

      Of course, he wasn’t really transparent, either.

      If he had wanted to be transparent, he would have said the loans were made from the “interest” on the account.

      Instead he chose the more ambiguous term, “earnings.”

      I wonder why he said “earnings” instead of “interest” . . .

      1. RFM – Your postcard pal here! I’ll back you up on this! Having intimate knowledge of the PEF, some employees of the Church have even boasted to me that “The entire “[can’t disclose]” Department of the Church is funded by just the interest” on the Perpetual Education Fund (He should have said “earnings”). It wasn’t until I began to investigate myself that PEF is indeed an “endowment” as you described. No doubt, 99% of donors had no idea they were contributing to an investment fund and not an Education Loan fund. — It’s interesting to note that about one year ago it was announced that the FUND was no longer accepting donations.

        For what it’s worth: For several years the Church did NOT charge interest on PEF loans and even gave debtors discounts for making prompt payments (I’m sure there’s some accounting trick being used to their financial advantage). I have it on VERY GOOD authority that worldwide only about 50% of loans are even being paid back. How many loans have been made? About two years ago to total number of loans made was 90,000.

        In this episode you make a statement which I realized about 3 years ago after having spent significant time behind the “operational curtain.” From the outside things may look bad. But when you start digging and looking closer, it is “always much worse!”

        1. Bingo!

          When the church creates an endowment from contributions for education, it can use the interest for anything it wants, including for purposes other than making education loans to disadvantaged members.

          (And then they seek legal cover by adding language on tithing slips that just because you are contributing your money for one specific purpose on the tithing slip, the church can use the money for anything it pleases.)

          Come to think of it, they can probably use the principal for other purposes, as well.

          But your average member still has to front the costs for serving full-time missions.

          And your average member must still clean church bathrooms on Saturdays.

      2. To quote one Yeshua ”Great are the words of Isaiah.” He can tell you why Hinckley, the king of appearing to be technically honest, avoided that word like the plague.

        “As with the lender, so with the borrower. As with the taker of usury so with the giver of usury to him.”

        I wonder indeed.

  5. I loved the story about folks (who paused their river-finding efforts with maps, compasses and discussions) listened for the sound of the river to help identify its location. I also loved the story about looking at one’s math answer to see if it is in the ballpark of what one expected.

    As people dive down the faith transition rabbit hole and try to reconcile their faith with the evidence, the temptation is to focus on the trees of “NHM” or chiasmus or steel or whatever, trying to weigh the relative probative value of individual data points.

    It can help to take a step back to look at the overall forest to see if an answer is in the ballpark of what one would expect. When I did that, the LDS institution and its priesthood authority is NOT in the ballpark of a prophetic or divine institution. Rather, the LDS institution and its priesthood authority is in the ballpark of a man-made institution.

    1. Good points, Ryan!

      Another question that really helped open my eyes was the following:

      “What would the LDS Church look like if it WASN’T directed by revelation?”


  6. I don’t remember hearing it in the episode (sorry if you did!) but to add to your analysis of the Perpetual Education Fund – applying interest to repayment directly conflicts with what the Bible teaches

    Exodus 22:25 –
    If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. (NRSV)

    I guess that’s another one of those pesky rules from the Law of Moses that doesn’t apply anymore?

    1. Up until a few hundred years ago, Christians in Europe tended to abide by this tenet in the New Testament where Jesus forbids usury. We have come to understand usury as an excessive rate of interest, but then it was generally understood to mean any interest at all.

      That is why even though Christians, as a rule, hated the Jews, they necessarily had to deal with them to make their economy work; because Jews had no proscription against lending money to Gentiles and charging interest.

      And now the stage is set for the plot of “The Merchant of Venice”!

      All roads lead to Shakespeare in my world! ;^)

      1. If you’ve gotten through your histories you may have noticed the story of Dives (the rich man) and Lazarus is a favorite Sir John Falstaff. In the report of his death (by Hostess Quickly in Henry V), Abraham’s bosom becomes “Arthur’s bosom”. “Nay, he’s not in hell; he’s in Arthur’s bosom” Ha! – Thanks for another great episode.

    2. really?! This just makes my blood boil! They are just using religion to bolster their business ventures. Thank you for this insight. I wasn’t aware of this scripture.

  7. The money stuff makes me crazy!!!! Even if the church was actually what it claims to be, the financial workings would make me leave.

    i cant afford the medications I need, but if I could have my own contributions RETURNED to me, I would not be in this position.

    And I would not be asking for a handout from the church. I would be asking them to return MY MONEY to me that they obtained fraudulently.

    Let’s say for arguments sake the letter was legit. The church would still be positioning itself as our benevolent benefactors and the members would be falling all over themselves in gratitude for these amazing blessings….the blessings of paying tithing, which they would milk later, believe me. btw…would it be refunded with a modest interest??????

    What about people who don’t pay tithing but are active members????…chopped liver I guess…..just more marginalization and guilt, on top of poverty!

    And did you notice that the education fund is primarily for RETURN MISSIONARIES!!!!…who have already lost more than 2 years of premium education time , not to mention the money for the mission, which could have been used for education!

    The church demands the ultimate sacrifice of our young people and it ends up handicapping and disadvantaging them at a time when they need everything they can going for them. I know, I have sent 3 sons on missions. They all came back with PSTD!


    Sorry,RFM…this one always hits a nerve…sigh.


    1. I see you already noted the loan is “primarily” for returned missionaries. Sorry.

      That’s what happens when I am replying to comments in reverse order. ;^)

      Something else that is important which I didn’t mention. I said the church is triple-dipping. It is actually quadruple-dipping.

      How so?

      Because the church is taking poor members who don’t have much in the way of prospects for making a decent income and getting them an education.

      Guess what happens when they get an education? They make more income!

      And guess who is going to be receiving the tithing on that increased income?

      That’s the quadruple-dip.

      The education loan to indigent members is just another investment.

      All the conditions surrounding qualifying for the loan are attempts to make sure the investment is profitable.

      Hope I’m not hitting that nerve of yours again! ;^)

      1. Ugh! of course. The worthiness aspect of it was there too. No one had there worthiness accessed upon giving donations!

  8. P.S….didnt finish my thought on the education fund. Why are those who haven’t served missions not really included in this loan???? The whole thing sucks!

    1. If you listen to ALL of President Hinckley’s lengthy announcement, it applies primarily to RMs, but you don’t absolutely have to be an RM. You do, however, have to be attending Institute classes because it sounds like the Institute director is involved in signing off on whether person qualifies for the loan, so there is a degree of worthiness monitoring involved.

  9. I learn a lot from the comments, thank you and I will go back and check the last one, Dave. I wonder how much interest was required from the education fund repayment. That dad thinking of disinheriting his inactive children reminded me for a moment about Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof. I think Tecya handled things with love though. I thought the perpetual education fund was inspired and good until half an hour ago. I wonder if the Perpetual Emigration Fund operated the same way. I think a legitimate and Christlike effort is contained in the book On Wings of Faith by Frederick Babbel about the help given to saints in war torn countries after the Second World War. Who knows that might not be the real Christian effort I thought it was but I’ll cling to that for now. I hope we hear more from Sue my heart goes out to her. I have limited experience with sad fallout from polygamy nutcases. RFM, I’m glad you have been able to salvage this extensive educational and rescue podcast series in spite of your ladder being against the wrong tree for so long.👍👍Two thumbs up!

    1. Thanks, Jim!

      By the way, a percipient listener found the video the church tried to delete about the LDS Philanthropies pitch.

      I am going to try to play the audio on a not-too-distant podcast so you can hear that I am not making this all up!

      This stuff writes itself!

  10. Was listening to this and wanted to add the “quadruple dip” to your list of ways the church is profiting from the Perpetual Education Fund.

    This program aims to give faithful (i.e. tithe paying) members the ability to gain skills and education the lead to higher wage earning potential…and higher TITHE PAYING! That’s the forth dip…years of higher tithe receipts.

    1. YES!

      This very program (PEF) was mentioned in an economic journal describing how the LDS Church was using Keynesian economic theory to increase its income.

      I imagine what the church has realized in increased tithing receipts from these formerly disadvantaged members is not insignificant.

      And certainly in excess of the education loans made to them.

      Which loans were made from the interest on the account.

      And which loans were required to be paid back with interest.

      How can I get me a cut of this action?

  11. RFM, been listening for a long time. Really love your work. I’ve been meaning to do it for a long time but today I stepped up and took a small portion of my tithing savings and paid it back to you in the form of a small monthly donation. Hope that helps keep the lights on, and the radio broadcasting.

    – Harry

    1. Thanks so much, Harry!

      I am working right now in my underground bunker with a bare light bulb illuminating my desk.

      And I’m actually not kidding about that!

      I appreciate your support!


  12. So, hmmm, a fake letter from the First Presidency? I’d look to Jonathan Streeter had it been more eloquent and crafted with perfection. If you ever run out of ideas for podcasts it might be fun to solicit other fake missives for perhaps the honor of winning, say, a Streeter Award. The possibilities are legion. Lost 116 pages found? Polygamy reinstated (on a limited basis, of course)? Joseph Smith hanky found to cure covid 19 (for full tithe payers only)? Just a thought.

    1. LOL! I love the idea of a “Streeter Award”!

      Just to be clear, Jonathan disavows any involvement with this most recent forgery.

      But I think it should be nominated for the first annual Streeter Award Ceremony!

      Hmm, I wonder what the award itself should look like . . .

      1. Perhaps the award should be a small statue of one of the greatest forgers of the 19th century, sitting at a desk, busy at work…

  13. Don’t forget about the quadruple dip; when the PEF helps a faithful (tithe paying) member increase their earning (and tithe paying) ability.

  14. I was in college when the perpetual education fund came into existence. I was a very broke college student, but I felt so fortunate that I was able to go to college that I still donated to this fund. I remember feeling so moved when Hinckley set up this fund that I cut corners, including groceries, to donate to this fund. It did not occur to me that “earnings” meant interest and not principal, and it definitely did not occur to me that the recipients would have to pay the money back with interest!

    1. If you do what the prophet says, even if it is wrong, you will be blessed for it!

      Which may or may not be a hint as to the subject of tomorrow’s podcast!

      Seriously, though, this kind of thing can definitely gnaw at a person.

      I remember thinking how good and righteous I was being back in the 1980s by cutting corners on my college student budget to buy 100 copies of the Book of Mormon.

      You may remember this is what we were encouraged to do as part of a church-wide program.

      Then taking the time to mark scriptures and write my testimony in each and every one.

      Then handing them out to people I knew, and some I knew hardly at all. (I mean, 100 books is a lot to hand out!)

      But I did it!

      Then to find out so long after the fact that the LDS Church was just trying to clear out its warehouse of books to make room for new ones they were publishing.

      Like I say, these things can gnaw at a person.


  15. Great podcast
    1 Jesus wouldn’t do what is done and said in this church
    2 Joe smiths goals were sex money and power not helping people— same today
    3. The leaders of the church don’t do anything without the permission of the corporation otherwise that church would not survive

  16. Jesus wouldn’t do and say what has been done and said in this church

    Joseph Smith goals were sex power and money it’s the same today

    The leaders can’t do anything without the permission of the corporation otherwise the church could not survive

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