I’m really excited to have interviewed Dr. Michael Quinn. In this first episode, we will get more acquainted with him. We will also talk about the Deseret Hemp Company. Yes, I said Hemp! On the ballot this fall is a proposal to legalize medical marijuana here in Utah. Michael Quinn will talk about a church-owned company that grew hemp right here in Utah! Will they get back in the business?
Michael: Brigham Young as church president, and for a period of time as governor established a lot of missions with an economic basis. So there was a flax mission, there was a cotton mission, which of course also caused the textile industry in Utah to grow. And then there was a hemp-growing process, although it wasn’t exactly his mission, but there were general authorities who were involved in the growing of hemp and, and its use in manufacturing shirts and trousers. So that was similar. It was a similar kind of enterprise to the cotton mission that Brigham Young had established in southern Utah, but that lasted longer and it was more successful. And as far as I know, I have no evidence of anyone smoking any of the hemp.
Will the LDS Church get back in the hemp business?
In our next conversation, we discussed LDS Church revenues per year. Would you believe it is as high as $50 Billion? Dr. Quinn breaks down how much comes from tithing and for-profit businesses, and also states how many church members pay tithing.
Michael: The tithing has never been 100 percent in payment. And in fact, in the 1990s, a Deseret Book publication said no more than 50 percent in the ’90s, which would be a dramatic improvement over the 1920s. But, it’s always been a part, even of devout members of the church who have paid a full tithing.
But, the lowest level that I have reported by a member of the Presiding Bishop was 25 percent and that could be the area that it’s hovering around maybe 25 to 40 percent pay full tithing. But it depends, because I’ve heard praise given during the Cold War. For example, I heard praise given by General Authorities for the members of the church in East Germany, which was a communist, very repressive regime that they paid 80; 80 percent of its membership paid a full tithing of what little they had.
So, it varies and I’m sure it varies internationally and people who are very poor give the widow’s mite and this would be true of the poor in many developing countries who barely have enough money to feed themselves and their children. And yet many of them are not exempted from tithing despite that poverty and they do their best and then some succeed to pay 10 percent and still keep their kids from starving. So, I don’t think we should be flippant about the fact that many people don’t pay tithing.
Are LDS General Authorities expected to pay tithing?
Somebody who is a church General Authority, for example, who has no other source of income, but what the church gives him, it’s still expected to pay 10 percent of that back to the church. Otherwise, and I’ve seen the PBO reports. He is defined as a part or no tithe payer.
GT: Do they take away his temple recommend?
Michael: Right, it could happen and it wouldn’t be the first time that a general authority has been threatened with being dropped from office for one reason or another. But, in the tithing reports that I had access to from the 1890s to 1928, typically a general authority who said he was a part-tithe payer was only in that status for a year or two. And then he became a full time payer. Whether there was pressure applied, I don’t know. But, sometimes it did last more than one year.
Check out our conversation… (We will be talking about the City Creek Mall next week, as well as where the LDS Church spends its money.) What are your thoughts on medical marijuana? Were you surprised at how much money the church makes?
 I believe PBO stands for Presiding Bishop’s Office. The Presiding Bishop is in charge of church financial affairs for the entire church.