I read an interesting article today about a 12-year-old boy who decided to build a ramp for his local LDS chapel, so the elderly and disabled would be able to attend church activities. My first thought? This kid is awesome! It’s so wonderful seeing a young man care about others like that. Mad props to him for creating such a noble Eagle Scout project.

Once I had read the whole article, however, I felt a little uncomfortable. The boy, named Jim, also plans to make other changes to the LDS chapel so it can meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards. Red flag. Why is an LDS meetinghouse not in line with those standards? This has apparently been a problem for this congregation for years. Aren’t Mormons supposed to be lifting up the hands that hang down? Caring for the needy? How well is that achieved when one group of people don’t even have access to their worship building. (Though I’m sure there are people who help lift wheelchairs etc. to enable them to go to church on Sundays.)

Secondly, Jim had to raise over $4,000 for this project, which he did through a GoFundMe page. Red flag. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a multi-billion dollar corporation and takes 10% of its members’ income. Why couldn’t they have funded this obviously necessary project?

My friend once told me about a time on his mission when he was working in the mission president’s office. His mission president had been upset all morning, and my friend eventually asked him what was wrong. His mission president told him he was upset because the church had ordered that the mission office receive $75,000 worth of new furniture, in order for it to be “fit for the presence of a king”. He was upset because he saw this as a grossly wasteful expense, given that they already had adequate furniture in the office.

As great as it is that a 12-year-old boy spent 700-800 hours making his LDS chapel more disability-friendly, what does it say about the leadership of the church? I  hope they’ll reimburse the people who funded this project that should have been carried out by them—the ones taking a significant portion of good people’s money in order to “build up the kingdom”. These were 700 hours that didn’t need to be spent on something that should have been taken care of a long time ago, and 700 hours taken away from a boy who could have done something else to help people.

Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young
Zina Jacobs-Smith-Young would have been a millennial blogger, but she died in 1901. The wife of Brigham Young, and prior to that Joseph Smith, and prior to that Henry Jacobs, who was sent on a mission by Brigham before he married her, Zina loves writing, long walks on the beach, and playing the field.
  • Loran

    Left the church? Bored? Feeling like you can’t leave the Church alone?

    Make stuff up. Turn the efforts of a local ward member to help disabled
    ward members into a blistering moral indictment of the greedy,
    cold-hearted, running-dog capitalist church, and then repeat a
    second-hand story from an unnamed friend the plausibility of which
    defies credulity.

    No, “Zina,” the Church isn’t a state welfare agency that confiscates money from its members and then returns it to them as “benefits.” As there is nothing in your essay that gives any indication you have any idea regarding the details of what is essentially a local project for the betterment of a local ward building, and as you mention nothing of either federal or state laws governing the ADA, what we have left is nothing more than just another bitter, cantankerous anti-Mormon Molotov Cocktail.

    • notesfromme

      Utter rubbish to excuse the Church for making a kid raise the funds that they could and should have taken from petty cash (or one week’s tithing receipts). You can always count on a craven apologist to defend the indefensible, and childishly attack the messenger.

      • Loran

        As you have not the slightest idea (nor does “Zina”) of what actually transpired here, or the reasons/motives underlying it, I will excuse your presumptuous ignorance and ad hominem explosion as, well, just what they appear to be.

        • Utahhiker801

          My dad was bishop when my mom went to the stake about having a small side bathroom remodeled so my disabled brother (and others) could more easily use the facilities. The facilities director told her because there were other compliant ward buildings in the stake that they wouldnt modify our building. After she wrote to the presiding bishop asking if they expected the bishop’s wife and son to attend a different ward, there was a ‘clarification’ of a misunderstanding and they remodeled the bathroom.

        • Don Gwinn

          OK, I’ll bite (though I know you wrote this two weeks ago and may not return.)
          What was inaccurate in the KSL news story Zina linked? What “actually transpired?”
          Did the scout lie about the building lacking a wheelchair ramp?
          Did he lie about raising the money?
          Was the building already compliant, because the stake or the LDS either built it that way or updated it to make it accessible?

          What exactly is the misunderstanding here?

    • Deb


      Why is it whenever someone disagrees with the church they are called names and accused of making things up by TBMs?

      This is an opinion piece and Zina is allowed an opinion. Re-read the opening paragraph where she clearly praises this young man. She was simply raising a point that perhaps “The Church” should have stepped up. I agree with Zina that the Mormon church sometimes seems misguided with how it to appropriates its wealth. Just an opinion and had it been any other church or business I would feel the same. Major kudos to the kid but shame on the institution!

      By the way, people leave “the church” for very valid reasons. All of which you can read about on “approved” church websites. You do not have to go to Anti-Mormon sites. I understand why you think we are bitter but you would be bitter too if you were to discover you had been defrauded. Just as your church seeks to spread the word of truth others want to spread their truth. Who decides who is right? Hmmmm…that is the question!

  • I prefer to focus on how awesome it is that 12 year old came up with the idea and lead the effort. A sign of truth, IMHO.

    • Spicy_McHaggis

      A sign of truth? What is your definition of that term?
      A sign of a nice kid perhaps but “truth” has nothing do to with this. Funny how mormons co-opt the meaning of that word to make it something it’s not.

    • scott

      I wonder why a multi billion dollar church doesn’t just pay for their buildings to have access to the disabled. Why was it a 12 year old’s job to do it so his mom could come to the church?

    • Don Gwinn

      Yeah, it’s nice that the kid stepped up and everything–good on him, sure, as far as that goes.
      But that doesn’t absolve the church. That’s the standard speech every villain nemesis gives the superhero at the end of the origin story. “You pretend you hate me, but you need me. If I hadn’t put all those people in danger, you wouldn’t have saved them. You’re only a hero because I made you a hero!”

  • B. Bending Rodriguez Sr.

    First, that’s excessive for an Eagle project. $4k is outrageous. That said, Eagle candidates are supposed to go raise their own funds. The Eagle review board should have said “whoa, kid. We like your spirit, but that’s way too much.” Part of me is amazed that an LDS scout did something more than a blood drive for his Eagle project. I bet he actually worked on merit badges and did a butt-load of real camping. Possibly even owns a real and complete Scout uniform. Well done, Scout.

    Next, there’s the whole concept of “grandfathering”. If the church was built prior to the ADAA, they may have some leeway in bringing buildings up to code. I know plenty of other buildings that are this way (non-mormon churches and non-churches). But truly, if the church really wanted to be inclusive, it would do this without waiting for an Eagle candidate. I mean really, they spent between $2-4 billion on a mall (which is ADAA compliant, the better to get that money from everyone).

    I’ve been in similar conversations as utahhiker801 mentions – the first concern of church facilities is the money. If another building has something, they will not do it. Just like when there were paid people to take care of church buildings – too much money was spent, and tithing was down – so time to tell the members that it was their spiritual duty to take care of the cleaning.

  • Joseph Thayne

    My biggest issue with this is that the Eagle Scout project is not supposed to benefit the charter organization. While a noble idea, who approved this against BSA guidelines?

  • ConcernedDiva

    The way tscc handles facility issues is horrific at best. I sat down to breastfeed in the mothers room and the chair broke underneath me (yeah I felt pretty awesome…) causing my baby to hit her head. I naturally made the church reimburse me for medical expenses of getting her checked (she’s fine) but this actually lead to replacing all the chairs and the illegal changing table to be in line with codes. Why did someone have to get hurt for the facilities people to actually keep up a part of the building!?

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