LDS Living Article

The LDS Living article 10 Reasons You Should Be Mormon initially ran with this statement:

We have no paid clergy

Most faiths have a paid bishop or pastor, and that’s their life career. But out of our 14+ million members worldwide, from the prophet to the bishops to the members, NO ONE is paid. It is because of our faith in Christ and in the order which God has used to create His Church that we are all willing to volunteer much of our time to it.

We also follow the commandment of tithing, where 10% of our income goes towards building churches and temples, feeding the poor, and other church organizations. Plus the Church is exactly the same everywhere in the world. As it should be.

This paragraph was eventually added:

A small aside: To help settle some disputes, I feel I should mention that a small stipend for living expenses is served to the prophet and apostles. However, most have retired from successful jobs when they are called. There are also jobs associated with the Church media and such–but these are not callings. What I am getting at is that we don’t have people that go to school to become prophets and apostles and bishops and that becomes their job. They are called by God and volunteer their time to serve.

Online chat with missionaries

The following conversation was reported to the exmormon subreddit April 8, 2017. (Emphasis added)

[Elder1] Hello! How are you?

[Bill] i’m doing well

[Elder1] Glad to hear it! What can we do for you?

[Bill] i was just wondering how your ministers are chosen [newline] because i understand that they don’t go to college to be a bishop or whatever office they hold

[Elder1] Do you mean the young missionaries?

[Bill] the missionaries or the people that live in the area [newline] bishop, right?

[Elder1] Oh, all right. Well those decisions come through much prayer, and revelation. I do not believe attending college is a requirement, but what does is experience, and the desire that person has to help members of the ward, and God’s children in general.

And yes, the leader of a church ward is called a bishop.

[Bill] so anybody can be bishop? [newline] do you apply?

[Elder2] Yes and no. [newline] Yes to the first question and no tho [sic] the second.

[Bill] thinking about it from the perspective of the catholic church [newline] where it is basically their job and they don’t have a family

[Elder1] Got it. So most of the time, the bishop does have a family, and has had a good amount of experience being a member of the church prior to that calling. And it is completely volunteer, he is not paid in that.

[Bill] oh wow, so nobody is paid? [newline] are you guys paid?

[Elder2] Nope. Everything is volunteer. We are just trying to follow in the foot steps of Christ by serving others.

[Bill] that’s good, so then is the president paid? [newline] somebody has to do this full time I’m guessing

[Elder2] No one in the church is paid

[Bill] well, i guess that means more money to spend on buildings [newline] and aid

[Elder2] Yea exactly and we do a lot to give back to people in need as well, like those who have suffered from natural disasters and things like that.

[Bill] that’s what churches are supposed to do… to bad some don’t

[Elder1] Yeah. But everyone has the chance to behave and become more like Jesus Christ if they put their mind and heart to it.

Asking sets of missionaries

Reddit user GettingReadyToLive reported conversations with several sets of missionaries about the existence of paid ministry1:

For fun, I asked four different sets about paid ministry. 2 sets emphatically insisted that there was no paid ministry, not even the Q12 or President. I didn’t press them further. Another set (late at night) actually knew that there was some kind of living allowance, and they were pretty up front about it. The last set also claimed that there was no paid ministry, but then I confronted them with the leaked news. They said they asked a supervisor and acknowledged the living allowance, but insisted it was a very small expense reimbursement.

In 2007, Kevin Barney wrote an article Are GAs Paid Salaries or Stipends?. In it he stated:

… many Saints have no idea that full-time GAs are paid; they assume they are like local bishops and serve without payment. This is not the case. When I correct this misimpression, how should I refer to these payments?

The user john f. commented:

In my experience it’s been rare to meet a member of the Church who does not realize that GAs receive a living allowance.

  1. GettingReadyToLive also posted his experience asking two sets of missionaries. I’m assuming that the comment I reference in the document is a superset of this report (i.e., he only asked four sets total).