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.