3. LDS, Inc.

Now that we’ve spent a considerable page count fighting the Matrix, we turn to my promised explanation. To avoid appearing overly unfair, I now more fully explain why I refer throughout this work to LDS Inc. or COB rather than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or The Church. I’m no corporate historian1, mind you, but I will attempt to outline the facts.

First off- there is no Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints any more than there is a Santa Clause. Well, I suppose unless you count the IRI’s (Intellectual Reserve, Inc.) trademark2. Okay, let me back up. There used to be a church- it was incorporated under the State of Deseret3 in 1851. It was dissolved though by the Edmunds-Tucker Act in 1887 (y’know, when everyone was so uptight about the whole polygamy thing4) and the dissolution was upheld in 1890 by the US Supreme Court in the auspiciously-named LDS Church v. United States (damn, we lost). Then there was no church for a while and local bishops, in keeping with long tradition, owned church property as trustees-in-trust. This caused all sorts of problems, though (imagine a bishop going rogue and taking the property with, or in the case of Brigham Young, inserting oneself into the presiding bishopric long enough for the presiding bishop to die, then declare himself trustee in trust to gain title to vast quantities of church property, leaving his abundant posterity to squabble over the takings upon his death). Thus, executives elected to create on July 13th, 1916, the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints5. The CPB is in good standing today, entity # 553976-0145, registered agent my former stake president, the exceptionally competent Von G. Keetch. Shortly thereafter on November 26th, 1923, executives created the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (COP), which also Does Business As (DBA) Deseret Pasta and Promised Valley Playhouse.


I have experience with NAICS codes and business entities for work, though- I actually find corporate law and industry research fairly fascinating, twisted I know 2 “"The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," "Liahona," "Book of Mormon," and "Mormon" are trademarks of Intellectual Reserve, Inc.” http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=897f8a4948743010VgnVCM1000001f5e340aRCRD 3 A brief provisional state that the federal gov’t never recognized, encompassing most of Utah, Nevada, and Arizona. The Utah Territory created in 1850 by Congress covered most of Utah and Nevada. 4 Interesting twist of fate- Edmunds-Tucker was overturned the same year as the priesthood ban, i.e. 1978 5 Also DBA Vernon Utah Livestock


Both the CPB and the COB are Corporations Sole, which means all the ownership and control belongs to a sole individual, in this case either the Presiding Bishop or the President of what we call the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day SaintsTM6. Now, members of non-profit corporations (such as most churches) hold rights equivalent to that of shareholders in forprofit corporations, including votes at shareholder meetings. In a corporation sole, the system is quite different. From COP’s Articles of Incorporation: The object of this corporation shall be to acquire, hold and dispose of such real and personal property as may be conveyed to or acquired by said corporation… this corporation shall have power, without any authority or


For once this is an actual trademark, owned by Intellectual Reserve, Inc., an NAICS 8319 “Business, professional, labor, political, and similar organizations” entity that does business as (DBA) ZCMI and Brigham Creek Dairy. IRI was born November 26, 1997, on the exact 74th anniversary of COP.


authorization from the members of said Church or religious society, to grant, sell, convey, rent, mortgage, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any part or all of such property7. Church members like you and me aren’t really members of anything- certainly not the COP or CPB. Our names sit in a department database, housed in a server owned and operated by a multi-billion-dollar corporation. We have no say in corporate governance, asset distribution, or succession: though some of COP and CPB’s corporate offspring (some prophet8, some non-prophet9), such as Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Deseret Book, Bonneville Communications, and Deseret News, do. It doesn’t pay to be a child of God, though it certainly does to be a child of COB10, in LDS Inc. In a corporation sole, the CEO holds all the keys- to corporate accounts, that is. Thomas $. Monson could unilaterally convert LDS chapels into Lairs of Donut Sales if He chose, and none could legally oppose Him11. Okay, so that’s the scoop on assets and membership. But what of succession- when the Sole’s soul passes?

Corporate succession

Lloyd Newell

I remember learning about prophetic succession in my Teachings of the Living Prophets class at BYU, taught by the voice of Music and the Spoken Word, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and Ph.D Lloyd Newell (great voice- picked his class over a competing one at the same hour for that very reason). I love Brother Newell, by the way: we’ve had some excellent conversations in his office. Aside aside, Brother Newell taught us how the Apostle with the most seniority automatically becomes the next President of the Church. When the Prophet dies, the next heartbeat of the most senior Apostle is the first heartbeat of the new King. Squeaky clean succession- no lots cast, no elections, no confusion12. It wasn’t until later that I learned the derivation of this prayer-proof process: the COP’s corporate charter! (Which you can read in all its titillating legalese for yourself online13). Amendment Fourth of the Amendment to the Articles of Incorporation explains why the divine succession process is delineated in a corporate charter:
7 8

http://user.xmission.com/~research/central/chorg3.htm, emphasis mine Most are headed by high-ranking LDS executives 9 Some subsidiaries are 501(c)3, some are not 10 Offspring of sexless single parents? How very un-Mormon. Unlike post-manifesto polygyny, at least this time the family relationships are registered with the state 11 As numerous commentators have noted, that magnitude of centralized power unsurprisingly creates a cult of prophet worship (jury’s out, of course, on whether that’s a good thing). 12 Like there was when Joseph died- see John Hamer’s excellent work for the messy schisms that crisis produced


it being the purpose of these articles that there shall be no failure in succession in the office of such corporation sole. And that is how we get a new Profit. This predictable CEO selection process leads to fun probability calculations14:

Now that we’ve touched on succession, let’s return to discussing entity status. You may not be aware that most selfrespecting churches have the decency to register as non-prophets. Not so with the explicitly for-prophet (specifically, for-the-sole-Prophet who unilaterally controls assets of approx. 30 billion) corporation that owns the Mormons.15 (Which I lovingly and collectively refer to as COB16 for Church Office Building, though more precisely it’s COP+CPB+subsidiaries.) Church Church of Christ of Brigham City The Church of God (Seventh-Day) Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints COP Entity status Non-profit Non-profit Doesn't exist Corporation Sole Corporation Sole Non-profit Industry Classification Religious Organization (NAICS 8131) Religious Organization N/a Nonclassifiable Establishment (NAICS 9999) Nonclassifiable Establishment Religious Organization

CPB Church of God in Christ

13 14

http://user.xmission.com/~research/central/chorg3.htm http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/2009/10/14/predicting-who-will-be-church-president/ 15 Thanks for doing some of the legwork and introducing smart-ass terminology I shamelessly stole, Daymon Smith, author of The Book of Mammon: a book about a book about the corporation that owns the Mormons 16 I should disclose some prejudice here- on my first and only visit to the physical COB, I was pinched and trapped in the security gate (didn’t realize I had to check in first), only to be rescued by a smiling, startlingly-Lloyd-Newell-look-alike guard. I sure hope that experience does not portend ill!



The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the US Supreme Court pointed out* in CPB v. Amos18, is in fact unincorporated. We belong to the Church of… well, nothing really19. Though our tithing funds and donations, on the other hand, definitely and most legally and irrevocably do belong: namely, to the current Dear Leader. Thank Joseph for Cob's Army of Accountants, Asset Analysts, and Faithful Finance Forecasters to manage His 30 billion20 worth of assets and investments, not to mention the ineluctable revenue streams!

17 18

https://secure.utah.gov/bes/action/details?entity=586973-0140 – Does not DBA as anything, esp. Mammon “The CPB and the COP are "corporations sole" organized under Utah law to perform various activities on behalf of the Church.” Another couple gems from the ever-practical Court’s opinion: “Temple recommends are issued only to individuals who observe the Church's standards in such matters as regular church attendance, tithing, and abstinence from coffee, tea, alcohol, and tobacco” plus the quoting of the Dedicatory Prayer for the Gymnasium. 19 And, if you’re a woman, no hope of that EVER changing. A man has, at least in theory, a possibility of becoming the soul of the Sole. If you’re a really good cross-dresser, though, maybe you could swing something crazy 20 LDS Inc. “resembles a sanctified multinational corporation—the General Electric of American religion, with global ambitions and an estimated net worth of $30 billion.” Mormons Rock! by Walter Kirn, Newsweek magazine, June 5, 2011


CPB Asset Management: It's all about the Benjamin's

*CPB v. Amos was a case where a man’s exercise of religion cost him his job at the hands of LDS Inc. The US Supreme Court said: “Undoubtedly, Mayson's freedom of choice in religious matters was impinged upon, but it was the Church (through the COP and the CPB), and not the Government, who put him to the choice of changing his religious practices or losing his job21.” Another bias disclosure: as the brother of a BYU student who was kicked out for converting away from LDS faith, I find this preference for group over individual religious liberty a kick in the teeth of Article of Faith 11, which prescribes to individuals religious freedom “how where or what they may.” To fiercely claim corporate religious freedom, such as by affirming gay rights "so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference22," while simultaneously depriving individuals of their education degrees and livelihoods as a consequence of religious choice away from LDS orthodoxy, evidences an ugly hypocrisy23. But hey, who can fault following Jesus’s pro-establishment example of prioritizing institutions over people24? When I did an entity search on Utah’s Division of Corporations and Commercial Code in early June I got this message:

21 22

Footnote 15 of the opinion The Divine Institution of Marriage 23 I’ve spoken much about LDS/BYU individual religious freedom practices, e.g. http://bradcarmack.blogspot.com/2011/01/religiousfreedom-not-at-byu.html and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7qnh2O_nydk 24 Though there is some debate about The Mighty God’s entrepreneurial priority and prowess- the one entity He founded in His mortality, the Meridian Church, didn’t actually last all that long, and was relatively puny compared to the congregations of competitor deities. Plus, his compliments paid to existing institutions were, shall we say, scant.



Any takers? Yes, we believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, namely Apostles, Profits, Public Relations Departments, Corporations Sole, and so forth. In conclusion, LDS Inc. refers to that constellation of correlated corporations that constitute what most people refer to as “the Church26.”

25 26


Daymon Smith provides a nuanced approach to interpreting the term in his May 2012 article, “Being In Impostasy. What is, The Church?” http://daymonsmith.wordpress.com/2012/05/10/being-in-impostasy-what-is-the-church/


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