Nearing Kolob


New Mormon Converts Must Pay to be Baptized?

New Mormon Converts Must Pay to be Baptized?


UPDATE: Elder D. Todd Christofferson also visited the South America Northwest Area with Elder Neil L. Andersen (source, archive, English Version) (Deseret News article). According to the article, the both visited the area between August 21-29, 2014


While the title “New Mormon Converts Must Pay to be Baptized?” is a little sensational it seems to now be true in parts of South America. There have been multiple reports (see below) from missionaries in the South America Northwest area that new converts “need to pay an offering of tithing before their baptism” (I first saw this on Reddit). This seems, on the surface, similar to the Catholic sell of indulgences as it requires people to pay money in order to receive the “saving ordinance of baptism”.

From what I have found, this new requirement appears to be localized to South America Northwest Area whose area presidency consists of:

The following missions are part of the area (organized by country):

  • Perú (Arequipa, Chiclayo, Cusco, Huancayo, Iquitos, Lima Central, Lima East, Lima North, Lima South, Lima West, Piura, Trujillo)
  • Bolivia (Cochabamba, La Paz, Santa Cruz)
  • Ecuador (Guayaquil North, Guayaquil South, Quito)
  • Colombia (Barranquilla, Bogota North, Bogota, South, Cali)
  • Venezuela (Barcelona, Caracas, Maracaibo, Valencia)

On September 15, 2014 (Monday) Sister McKenna Hill of the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission said they had just had a “special conference with Elder Waddell, the seventy representing our region.” She continues (screenshot, archive, emphasis mine):

“He talked a LOT about not baptizing less actives. He said out of 1,800,000 members, 1 MILLION of them don´t go to church. A million. So. We know have higher standards before someone can get baptized. They need 3 attendances in a row in ALL 3 classes. AND need to pay an offering of tithing before their baptism. This is helping us to ensure true conversion. Wow. It was inspired. “

Similar news came from Sister Jones of the Peru Lima West Mission. Recall that the South America Northwest Area is headquartered in Lima, Peru.On September 8, 2014 Sister Alayna Jones said (screenshot, archive, emphasis mine):

“We went to Lima and had our monthly leadership training which was awesome.  They put in a couple of new rules for baptizing in this area. The investigators have to attend church three times, and they have to go to church all three hours three times before getting baptized.  Also, they have to pay some sort of offering or donation before they can get baptized.  It will make things a bit trickier but I can definitely see the wisdom in these rules, making sure that the converts remain active and faithful members of the church.  We’ll see what type of good results it brings!”

A third account of the new rule came from Elder Roderick Dallon Maxwell of the Peru Lima East Mission. On September 15, 2014 he reported (screenshot, archive, emphasis mine):

“WEDNESDAY, we taught Jean Franko about fasting because there is a new rule just for this ward, that the investigators need to fast and pay a fast offering in order to be baptized. interesting.  it went really well and he said that he would do it. i feel like he has a need, but we just cant find it. he sort of avoids the topic of baptism, but with faith and patience  i think we will get there! “

While Elder Maxwell claims this is a rule for the particular ward he is serving in, that doesn’t make sense because 1) wards don’t make rules regarding who can or can’t be baptized–the rules are set by the mission president, and 2) there are other accounts that similar rules are being enforced in other areas of Lima, Peru as well as in Bolivia.

Interestingly, this new rule appears on three blogs (spanning three missions), just weeks after Elder Neil L. Anderson visited and met (screenshot, archive) with members of the Area Presidency. It is difficult for me to imagine he is not aware of this rule.

In summary, there are accounts of this rule being implemented in three missions:

The Church Handbook of Instructions (CHI), as far as I can tell, does not explicitly forbid charging for baptism, but Book 2 does forbid charging for two things associated with baptism:

  • “No charge is made for using a baptismal font”
  • “Local units should have baptismal clothing available and should not charge for its use”

Maybe they have read Neylan McBaine’s new book Women at Church and are taking an approach she recommends. In her book she suggests that silence in the CHI on a matter should be taken as an opportunity to make our own decisions based on local circumstances rather as a general prohibition on the subject. To illustrate that she quotes a stake president (emphasis mine):

“I went through the handbook. I couldn’t find anything that proscribed young women visiting teaching with Relief Society sisters. I think going through the handbook is always a good practice because a lot of times things are rooted in tradition or folklore or it’s just the unwritten order of things, which is important, but many times the handbook is silent and we are free to make our best decisions.

The Book of Mormon, however, twice mentions baptism/forgiveness and money. Neither time is it encouraged:

  •  “Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (2 Nephi 9:50)
  • “Yea, it shall come in a day when there shall be churches built up that shall say: Come unto me, and for your money you shall be forgiven of your sins.” (Mormon 8:32)

Finally, Boyd K. Packer has spoken on the matter of offerings in his April 1990 General Conference speech titled “Teach Them Correct Principles”. In it he says (emphasis his):

“The scriptures speak of tithes and of offerings; they do not speak of assessments or fund-raising. To be an offering, it must be given freely—offered. The way is open now for many more of us to participate in this spiritually refining experience.”

However, no longer is just a commitment to pay tithing a requirement for the “saving ordinance of baptism”, but it is actually required that one pay an “offering” (as an assessment of commitment or worthiness)–something President Packer explicitly spoke against.

Notice from LDS Church Headquarters

Date: September 9, 2014
To: General Authorities; Area Seventies; Stake,
Mission, and District Presidents; Bishops and
Branch Presidents
From: Priesthood Department (1-801-240-2134)
Subject: Gospel Topics

To help members with their study of Church history and doctrine, the Church publishes reliable information on topics of current interest. This information is found in the Gospel Topics section of the Church’s website, at

The purpose of the Gospel Topics section is to provide accurate and transparent information on Church history and doctrine within the framework of faith. It includes an article titled “Gospel Learning: Seek Learning by Study and Also by Faith,” which explains principles of seeking truth.

When Church members have questions regarding Church history and doctrine, possibly arising when detractors spread misinformation and doubt, you may want to direct their attention to these resources. Also help them understand that prayer, regular study of the scriptures and the teachings of the living prophets, the exercise of faith, and humility are fundamental to receiving inspired answers to sincere questions.

Women’s Limited Roles in Mormon Leadership

New Page: Ezra Taft Benson Resources

New Page: Ezra Taft Benson Resources

There is a new permanent page on Nearing Kolob called for Resources on Ezra Taft Benson. It will include quotes, teachings, speeches, pictures, and other resources to supplement personal study. It will be “under construction” through at least 2015.

It will hopefully be a good resource as we study the new Teachings of the Presidents of the Church manual on Ezra Taft Benson


New Page: Ezra Taft Benson Resources

BYU Religious Education Chair on Women and Baby Blessings (UPDATED)

Camille Fronk Olson, BYU Religious Eduation Department Chair, on Women and Baby Blessings

Camille Fronk Olson, BYU Religious Education Department Chair, on Women and Baby Blessings

Longer version video here (same content as original video begins around 5:55):

Originally posted video below:

Does Who You Marry Depend on Your Mission?

I hate the phrase “The harder you work on your mission, the prettier your wife will be.”

I hadn’t heard it in a while, but was disappointed to see it on the front of an Elder Alexander Steven Larsen serving in the Hmong Speaking Milwaukee, Wisconsin Mission

The harder you work on your mission, the prettier your wife will be

The harder you work on your mission, the prettier your wife will be

I found a few other places online with this phrase:

Mormon Missionaries Can’t Teach Muslims?

Missionaries Can't Teach Muslims?

Earlier this month Sister Rogers of the New Jersey, Morristown Mission posted something I was not aware of (emphasis mine, see picture at bottom):

“The Spirit was in an inspiring mood that day and gave me enough courage to go up to the door.  His mom answered, but he was quickly followed her and invited us in.  He served us freshly squeezed orange juice which was amazing and that lead us into a conversation about his relationship with God.  Before long tears ran down his face as he realized that he is angry at God.  We were not allowed to teach him until he has an interview with our mission president because of his religious background being Muslim, but hopefully soon.”

Are LDS missionaries not allowed to teach Muslims? Even in the United States? Is this a church-wide policy or just a mission policy?

This article says that Church policy prohibits baptizing Muslims in Egypt, but does the policy also exclude even teaching Muslims (anywhere)?

“But leaving Islam and becoming a Mormon would make me a marked man. I had no choice, though, I told myself. I had compiled quite a collection of sins. More than anything, I wanted a clean conscience. I told the Mormon leaders in Cairo that I wanted to be baptized.

“To my surprise, they told me no. The Church simply did not have the legal authority to baptize Muslims in Egypt, and Mormon policy prohibited it. I could attend church and act like a Mormon. I just couldn’t be one.”

Actually, the policy Sister Rogers is referencing goes against the many comments (and instincts) of members as exhibited in this online forum thread titled “Why not proselitize [sic] Muslims?”:

  • As far as I know, we happily proselytize American Muslims, Canadian Muslims, English Muslims, French Muslims, etc.”
  • We preach where we are legally allowed to preach. Muslim countries are some of the places that our missionaries are not allowed to go. It’s the whole death-to-the-infidels thing. As far as preaching to Muslims that are found in other countries, I don’t think that there is any prohibition against it.”
  • We do where we can…. namely thats in the US and UK.”

One last thing. The Wikipedia page on Mormonism and Islam has a section on proselytizing which says:

In certain situations, an interview with the area mission president may be necessary before the church agrees to baptize an individual.”

It references pages 32-34 of the Book 1 of the Church Handbook of Instructions. This reference only talks of people being baptized and does not mention the prohibition of teaching individuals at all.


Missionaries Can't Teach Muslims?

From Jim to Elder: The Evolution of a Name

From Jim to Elder: The Evolution of a Name

Meet Jim and Carol (Elder and Sister) Lindsey. They started their mission together by entering the MTC in Provo, Utah on March 24th,2014. They are currently serving in the LDS Church Visitors Center in the Rapid City South Dakota Mission assigned to the “Mormon Handcart Historic Sites”.

In their first blog post, just before entering the MTC, the sign off with:

Mom and Dad
Grandpa and Grandma
Jim and Carol”

I like that sign off.

Carol seems to do most of the blogging. In their second blogpost titled “Our Farewell and First Day in the MTC”, Carol reminisces about their Farewell by saying “Jim and I each felt good about our talks and everyone was very complimentary.” This time Carol signs off with:

“We love you all,
Elder and Sister Lindsey”

No more “Mom and Dad” or “Grandpa and Grandma” :(

In their third blogpost titled “MTC Experience”, Carol talks about their time in the MTC and says “For Jim and I we felt like we were being led to know exactly  what to say and what scriptures to use.” She signs off this time again with:

Dad and Mom
Grandpa and Grandma
Jim and Carol”

Their fourth blogpost is their new address in Martin’s Cove.

From then on her husband’s given name is never mentioned again. Never. She always refers to him as “Elder Lindsey” both in the text of the posts and when signing off. I found this quite strange. I can understand referring to him as “Elder Lindsey” while at the Visitors Center or when meeting with the public, but when signing off with family and friends? I checked and not all couples do this (Sister Murdock doesn’t as can be seen in my post popular post until now).

Does anyone else find this strange?


Modesty Rhetoric is on the Rise

Modesty Rhetoric is on the Rise

One of the things I dislike about the current culture in the Church is the emphasis on modesty. We previously wrote about modesty rhetoric in a recent Ensign (Ziff at Zelophedad’s Daughters wrote two interesting pieces on modesty found here and here). Now we take a a quick look at modest rhetoric in General Conference from 1850 – 2010.

Specifically, we looked at the three terms: modestly (red), modest (blue), and modesty (blue) [Note that we also looked at the sum total of the three terms which is in black]. We collected data by decade (i.e. 1950 corresponds to the number of references from 1950-1959).

After obtaining the data, we fit the data to a high degree polynomial and plot the regression equation through 2040. It is clear that all three terms are increasingly spoken in General Conference and that modesty rhetoric is on the rise.

Modesty Rhetoric is on the Rise

The above picture shows the raw data for modestly (red), modest (blue), modesty (blue), and sum of the three previous terms (black) by decade from the 1850s through the 2000s


The above picture shows the expected number of references to modestly, modest, and modesty through the year 2040.

Modesty Rhetoric is on the Rise

The above picture shows a good agreement between data and the regression equations

Catch the Wave, Literally

Catch the Wave, Literally

In April 2013, Elder Nelson gave a talk titled “Catch the Wave”. In fact, during that talk he used that phrase seven times:

  • You parents, teachers, and others, catch the wave as you prepare our rising generation to be worthy of missionary service.”
  • You adults, catch the wave with help for the spiritual, physical, and financial preparation of future missionaries.”
  • Increasing numbers of selected men and their dear companions catch the wave as they are called to preside over missions of the Church.”
  • Stake presidents and bishops catch the wave as they spend more and more hours interviewing prospective missionaries.”
  • Brothers and sisters on each ward council are beginning to catch the wave.”
  •  If you catch the wave with faith and enthusiasm, others will also.”
  • Our inquiring friends and neighbors not of our faith can also catch the wave. We encourage them to keep all that is good and true in their lives.”

Well, it seems in the Tahiti Papeete mission missionaries are literally catching the wave at the 2014 Billabong Pro Tahiti surf competition.