The dissolution of the corporate LDS Church via “gay marriage”

I’ve stayed out of all the online LDS discussions concerning what is termed “same-sex marriage,” “SSM” or “gay marriage,” after all, I’m an anarchist, so I don’t believe in government involvement in what I consider private affairs. The recent First Presidency letter read in California sacrament meetings asking California saints to do all they could to pass Proposition 8, which would amend the California constitution to have a definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman, has sparked a lot of online talk among LDS. But I have remained silent.

However, my own belief and understanding has always been that the main reason why the Church (with a capital ‘C,’ indicating the corporate entity, not the lower case ‘c,’ indicating the baptized people of the Lord) is supporting this California constitutional amendment is that “gay marriage” may lead to the dissolution of the corporate Church.

Yes, I am aware of the moral and other reasons that the Church is putting forth for this push to define marriage, in documents such as The Divine Institution of Marriage, which is the Church’s latest press release concerning this issue (and thanks goes to the Faith Promoting Rumor blog for bringing this press release to my attention), but what has gnawed at me for a long time were the legal ramifications. What does this mean to the corporate Church?

The new Church press release briefly mentions some legal aspects of legalized same-sex “marriage.” Here are the two paragraphs devoted to this issue:

Other advocates of same-sex marriage are suggesting that tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions. Public accommodation laws are already being used as leverage in an attempt to force religious organizations to allow marriage celebrations or receptions in religious facilities that are otherwise open to the public. Accrediting organizations in some instances are asserting pressure on religious schools and universities to provide married housing for same-sex couples. Student religious organizations are being told by some universities that they may lose their campus recognition and benefits if they exclude same-sex couples from club membership.

Many of these examples have already become the legal reality in several nations of the European Union, and the European Parliament has recommended that laws guaranteeing and protecting the rights of same-sex couples be made uniform across the EU. Thus, if same-sex marriage becomes a recognized civil right, there will be substantial conflicts with religious freedom. And in some important areas, religious freedom may be diminished. (Emphasis mine.)

Apparently, I am not the only one thinking about the legalities of SSM. Just yesterday a LDS saint alerted me of a letter from a stake president who was asking for donations to pass the California Proposition 8. In that letter, here is what the stake president wrote:

The ramifications of this vote are wide-spread and numerous. In places where the definition of marriage has been expanded, institutions have been forced to accept and embrace alternate lifestyles or risk losing government privileges, including tax-exempt status. (Emphasis mine.)

My understanding is that the Church is incorporated in the state of Utah [changed from ‘Nevada’, see below] as a corporate sole, under 501(c)3 tax exemption. Corporations have got to obey the laws of the state in which they are incorporated, right? And states have the “good faith and credit clause” by which they respect and accept the judgments of judges made in other states, right?

So I can conceive of the corporate Church coming to the point where it has to pick sides: either obey the laws of Utah [changed from ‘Nevada’, see below] and keep its corporate charter and articles (and the corporation itself) intact while disregarding the Lord’s moral directives toward homosexuality, or obey the Lord’s moral commandments and disobey the laws of Utah [changed from ‘Nevada’, see below] , effectively opening up the possibility of forced dissolution of the Church.

Now, anyone who has sufficiently gone over this blog should know that I have no problems with the dissolution of the corporate Church. I feel that we should be a free-church, not a corporate state-Church. And I feel that we ought to voluntarily un-incorporate the Church, whether doing so ourselves or by using the services of certain free-church ministries.

But do I really believe that the Church will un-incorporate itself of its own free will? Of course, not. Corporations, like governments, tend to do everything in their power to perpetuate their own existence. However, legalized “gay marriage” may be just the thing that will force un-incorporation upon us, making us a free-church, and finally allowing the natural system of tribal anarchy to reign among the saints, in preparation of all that is prophesied to happen in these days.

If Prop 8 is defeated, and in my opinion, it will be, regardless of how much money is pumped into its campaign by LDS and others, what will happen to the corporate Church? Anybody versed in corporate law is welcome to respond and give his or her understanding as to whether legalized SSM may present a real danger to the life of the Church corporation sole or its tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status. As I am not schooled in corporate law, my understanding may be flawed. Feel free to correct me.

Liberty under a free-church

If and when the Church becomes un-incorporated, whether by its own volition or through government force, and we truly are a free-church, proponents of legalized SSM cannot use the law to force the church to accept homosexual arrangements, whether legal or illegal. Because a free-church is outside of the jurisdiction of State regulations, it essentially does not exist in the eyes of the State, therefore all religious pronouncements are of a completely private nature.

Next Anarchism/Anarchy article: Anarchy in action: congregational nullification

Previous Anarchism/Anarchy article: How I get out of jury duty

Complete List of Articles authored by LDS Anarchist



  1. The LDS, like most other religious groups, are incorporated because they need to deal with money and property. Somebody pays those salaries. Somebody owns those buildings. But as a religious organization, they are exempt from certain requirements (somebody doesn’t pay taxes on corporate earnings).

    The fear that permitting same-sex marriage would force religions to bless same-sex unions is a red herring. Just ask how many Catholic priests are forced to remarry divorced people. That would be none, despite that divorce and remarriage are legal in the United States. For that matter, atheists have the same right to marry as everyone else. But they could be turned away by any house of worship. Evangelical Christians don’t get to marry in synagogues. A house of worship is not a place of public accommodation.

    If Prop 8 fails (and I hope it does), the change for the LDS and other religious groups who disapprove of homosexuality will be nil. They will not be obligated to act as officers of the state and sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples. They are not obligated to support the couple’s right to marry.

    On the other hand, clergy in denominations that approve of same-sex unions will be (continue to be) able to not only bless these unions, but sign the government paperwork.

    When a member of the clergy says, “by the power vested in me by the state…” he or she is working for the government, not God. Clergy who do not want to work for the government need to send their congregants to city hall for a civil ceremony, followed by a religious blessing in the house of worship (church, temple, synagogue, mosque).

  2. The Church has several incorporations presently. Originally incorporated out of New York state by Joseph Smith, Jr., after the succession crisis Brigham Young was forced by the courts to adopt a new corporation. The courts ruled that the original corporation survived in the Strangite sect, based on evidence of a forged letter that survives at Yale University. Based on the court ruling, Brigham Young renamed the church from “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints” to “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” and re-incorporated out of Utah. (“The standard of corporate and business name availability is: Distinguishability.” Kathy Berg, Director, Division of Corporations & Commercial Code,

    At the time of the Morrill Anti-Bigamy and Edmunds Acts limits were put upon the Church corporation’s ability to own; and with the Edmunds-Tucker Act the Church and the Perpetual Emigration Fund were disincorporated and properties and funds were confiscated on the grounds of fostering polygamy. For the many years after the Church operated unincorporated as a voluntary religious association, but in 1916 the Church was re-incorporated under the Presiding Bishop, who is responsible for all tithes.

    The following is a list of corporations sole, corporations non-profit, corporations for-profit, and DBAs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since we stopped being a “voluntary association”, in order of creation:





















    All of the above corporations, soles, and DBAs have Utah as their state of origin and Salt Lake City as their location. These entities can be looked up by number here:

    So, no: no corporations out of Nevada. There are a few other large Church corporations out of Hawaii, but that’s another Secretary of State’s website.

    Zions Bancorporation is probably the richest of these organizations right now. It is headed by Gordon B. Hinckley’s son Clark B. Hinckley, whose name is on all of its SEC filings. Clark’s sister Kathleen Hinckley Barnes Walker is married into the Barnes banking empire and serves on several boards.

  3. I could have sworn I saw information somewhere that the Church was incorporated in Nevada…I’ll have to do a search to find out where I saw it…

    In the meantime, I came across this interesting, little document:

    Law and Church as an Institution (PDF file), taken from the LDS Perspectives of the Law page of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society web site.

  4. Don’t get me wrong, I think we’re supposed to amass this wealth in order to consecrate it. Once the Mormon bankers finish buying out Missouri, we’ll pretty much be able to consecrate all of the world’s markets — with 2 federal reserve banks, MO is the secret financial headquarters of the United States.

  5. This was on my mind as well as I heard about what was going on. I was remembering an article I read a few years back that claimed the church went through a similar crisis in the 1970’s, namely they were going to get the non-profit charter revoked for not allowing blacks to hold the priesthood. Something about non-profits could not discriminate due to race. Then, low and behold, a revelation is received and all worthy males now are able to receive it, allowing them to remain a non-profit. I will be watching this to see what comes of it.

  6. Until I find the source document of my statements above that the Church is incorporated in Nevada, let’s all just assume that whatever I read was incorrect and substitute the word “Utah” for “Nevada” for each instance that “Nevada” appears in the above post. As I try to search for what I saw, everything is coming up “Utah” and not “Nevada.” I suppose I could just change the post to reflect “Utah,” but I’ll keep it up as it is now as the comments make the necessary correction.

  7. In the sidebar of the LDS news release is a link to an NPR article listing recent examples where religious liberties have come into conflict with gay rights. In each example given, it was anti-discrimination laws, not same-sex-marriage that caused the conflict.

    As same-sex marriage has become more and more at the forefront of the culture debate there has been a tendency to conflate general civil rights for gays and lesbians with same-sex marriage itself. Granted, once full marriage is extended nation-wide to gay and lesbian couples, many of the gaps remaining in civil rights for gays will be filled. So SSM does, in effect, herald in a full array of non-discrimination rights for gays and ultimately normalization of homosexuality in society. But it is really non-discrimination in civil affairs, not SSM, that is really at the root of the conflicts between church and state.

  8. LDS Anarchist,

    The sole corporation of the Presiding Bishop and the non-profit corporation of the President are registered with the Secretary of State of Nevada, but they are registered as foreign corporations out of Utah. These two corporations need to register as foreign corporations with the Secretaries of States in every state where the Church collects funds, operates, or owns. For example they are registered in Missouri as well.

    For example, search “corporation of the pres” here:

  9. If you believe the lie from the gay agenda that no one will be forced to practice gay marriages, or be punished for not doing it, then you need to get yourself quickly over to this site, and discover for yourself, that is has already happened!!!

    Skip to the 20-minute mark for the money: the Methodist church in New Jersey lost a discrimination case by two gays they refused to marry. Incorporated or not, these activists will stop at nothing to force social acceptance of their behavior.

    We also need to keep in mind that the gospel makes it perfectly clear that we believe in governments. Anarchy is pie in the sky, just as much as Communism is. To think that any society or inkling thereof can exist without any type of enforcement of laws is ridiculous. It is the very threat of punishment that keeps many Americans in line, and allows some semblance of security for those people with no desire to do evil. The less they enforce laws (ie, Mexican borders, San Francisco, for examples) the more lawless the people become.

    Were the US government to be destroyed and the LDS church somehow remain as a “tribal people,” as you suggest, we would find ourselves surrounded by lawlessness of the blackest kind, and we would not be exempt from it’s influence.

  10. D., I would recommend that you read over the 28 anarchy articles on this blog, which can be conveniently accessed via my Complete List of Articles. The particular concerns you bring up are addressed, I believe, in the Anarchy does not require perfect people, What the Lord has said about the Constitution and Is anarchism compatible with D&C 134? posts. Thanks for the comments and visit.

  11. Haha, yeah, or forward to 19 minutes and 50 seconds into that movie and check out the hot young 3D-rendered and blindfolded Chick of Justice(tm) wearing a brassiere! How ridiculous. Gay marriage is WRRRRONG, but cute BSDM chicks holding a balance scale is AWESOME! For the lulz.

    I hope the Church publishes how much money they’ve wasted after this is over. Whatever happened to the widows and the fatherless? I guess since most o’ them are straight, they don’t need our attention (besides Monson’s got the widows taken care of).

  12. We also need to keep in mind that the gospel makes it perfectly clear that we believe in governments.

    I believe in government — by consent.

  13. Anarchist,
    You have mentioned that the scriptures speak of anarchy without saying the word many times. I finally found a reference to “anarchy” that mirrors my feeling on the concept. Although this section is a declaration rather than a thus sayeth the Lord revelation I think it is fair to say this is the official stance of the Church.

    6 We believe that every man should be honored in his station, rulers and magistrates as such, being placed for the protection of the innocent and the punishment of the guilty; and that to the laws all men show respect and deference, as without them peace and harmony would be supplanted by anarchy and terror; human laws being instituted for the express purpose of regulating our interests as individuals and nations, between man and man; and divine laws given of heaven, prescribing rules on spiritual concerns, for faith and worship, both to be answered by man to his Maker.

    The opinion of the church in black and white seams to be that anarchy accompanies terror.
    I love all of the posts on scriptural concepts lately. Thank you for providing this platform.

  14. truthseeker, I recommend that you read my blog post, Is anarchism compatible with D&C 134?, as it addresses that point.

  15. Here is question for any one, if same sex marrriage becomes the law of the land and it certainly looks like that will be the case will Mormon gay married couples be ex-communicated from the Mormon Church? Remember the Church teaches that we must live the law of the land, and if they are not excommunicated isn’t that they same as sanctioning same sex marriage? If they were to be excommunicated the federal government would surley get involved to protect their right of freedom of religion. Am I the only one that sees this?

  16. I was reading the Wikipedia entry on Phyllis Schlafly today and I wondered whether same-sex marriage legality would or could influence social recognition. In other words, could there be any legal consequences to a person who refused to recognize a legally authorized same-sex marriage? For example, let’s say a married gay couple is introduced to someone who doesn’t socially recognize same-sex marriage. Let’s say the conversation goes like this:

    Barry: “Hi, I’m Barry Summers.”

    Jack: “How do you do, Barry? I’m Jack McNichols. Whose your friend?”

    Barry: “This is my husband, Leonard.”

    Leonard: “How do you do?”

    Jack: “How do you do? So, Barry, if Leonard is your husband, that makes you his wife?”

    Barry: “Oh, no. We are both husbands. Neither one is a wife. We’re just spouses.”

    Jack: “I see…”

    Leonard: “You have a problem with that?”

    Jack: “I don’t recognize same-sex marriage, only marriage between a man and a woman. You know, the husband and wife arrangement?”

    Barry: “Well, Jack, we are legally married. Don’t you think you ought to get with the program?”

    Jack: “The law requires legal entities to recognize same-sex marriage, not people. I am still free not to recognize it. So, I’ll just consider you two as a gay couple or partnership, okay?”

    Leonard: “It certainly is not okay!”

    So, is Jack being discriminatory? Is he breaking a law? Is he within his rights? Can he be held liable for his comments? Is he violating the commandments of God by holding to his views? Does the law of God require him to recognize same-sex marriage because the law of man recognizes it?

  17. I wonder how this scripture will apply to same-sex marriage?

    Women have claim on their husbands for their maintenance, until their husbands are taken; and if they are not found transgressors they shall have fellowship in the church.

    In a same-sex marriage, does one spouse have claim on the other spouse for his/her maintenance? If so, how is this determined?

  18. the church has dug itself into a pit with its “law of the land” nonsense

  19. ldsphilosopher yesterday wrote the following post:

    General Conference and Same-Sex Marriage: a Personal Analysis

    He brought up an important point in his brief section entitled, Gender Complementarity Is Essential to Marriage, concerning how marriage between a man and a woman is actually a part of the gospel plan. This is a topic I haven’t broached on this blog, as yet. I wanted to leave a note here for myself as a reminder, in case I want to expound upon the issue in a future post.

    Some pertinent questions to ask might be:

    Will a same-sex (legally) married couple need to divorce in order to join the church?

    If not, will they have to abstain from sexual relations with each other in order to join the church?

    After they are baptized, can their legal, same-sex marriage be sealed in the temple?

    If not, must they divorce and remarry a member of the opposite sex in order to enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage?

  20. For a hint — we could play the same game with polygamists:

    Do polygamous (legally) married couples need to divorce in order to join the church? [Yes, and need special permission from the 1st Presidency to be approved for baptism]

    If not, will they have to abstain from sexual relations with their plural spouses in order to join the church? [Yes, they are required to “repent” from polygamy completely]

    After they are baptized, can their legal, plural marriages be sealed in the temple? [Only once all parties are dead]

    If not, must they divorce their plural spouses and be married to only one person in order to enter into the new and everlasting covenant of marriage? [Yes]

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