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Monday, October 5, 2015

Inside Trading in the LDS Church

The big story from conference weekend is that of "ponderize." Devin Durrant, first counselor in the Sunday School Presidency, wrote a talk around the term. Meanwhile, his son and daughter-in-law registered an affiliated website on September 27th selling t-shirts and wristbands of the meme.

This is a rather egregious example of profiteering off the church. The feedback was overwhelmingly negative and speedy. There were many changes to the site from the time the talk was given until that evening. At first, the t-shirts, priced at 17.99, were dropped to 9.99, with a message placed on the site that they were being sold at cost to get the word out. Then, the prices went back up with a message that all profits were going to the missionary fund. By 10:45pm Sunday, the site was taken down.

It would be nice to think that this is an isolated occurrence, and that this sort of thing doesn't happen very often. It would also be incorrect to think so.

The fact is that the church is large and wealthy. Billions of dollars change hands every day. To think that every person directly involved as well as the family and friends of every person involved would avoid profiting off of privileged information is naive indeed.

Case Study: Zwick Construction
Elder Craig Zwick has been a member of the 70 since 1995. He also happens to be the former owner and CEO (his son now runs it) of Zwick Construction, who has built or remodeled 8 temples, 9 chapels, and several other buildings for the church. This amounts to over 100 million in construction revenue from the church. Is this a conflict of interest?

Case Study: The Gilbert Arizona Temple
When a temple is announced, property values adjacent to the proposed site double overnight. Anyone with advanced knowledge of a temple announcement, therefore, stands to profit enormously by purchasing the adjacent properties before the announcement is made. The LeSueur family, who owned over 200 acres of farmland in Gilbert, managed to convince the church to build a temple on land they donated. The LeSueurs were able to convert the zoning of the adjacent land to residential, and now are developing a gated neighborhood of 262 homes. David LeSueur was called to be president of said temple.

The same story occurred with the Oquirrh Mountain Temple and the Draper temple. Companies donated the land for the temple and made an incredible amount on the increase in property value of the surrounding lots.