[Image from pewresearch.org]

One definition before we get started: when I say the “working class,” I’m talking about people who live paycheck to paycheck, not because they’re wasting money but because wages are low and living costs are high.

Now onto the post.

The ideal community to create a strong LDS ward (in the USA) is a neighborhood where a majority of families own their homes and only need one income to raise a family (that actually creates strong communities for any purpose, but we’ll focus on the LDS motive). Home ownership means stability, so the ward doesn’t change 50% of its membership every three years. Wages high enough to support a family on one income means that there is a higher likelihood of a stay-at-home parent with enough energy to work for free in callings or other volunteer opportunities, and that the earning parent only works 40 hours per week and so has enough free time to also work in a calling. The confidence and financial stability that comes with knowing you can pay your bills lets parents decide to have more children if they want them. 

Ah, the good ol’ days. Back in the 1950s, union membership was at an all-time high, and the unions won the victories that gave us the 40-hour work week, livable wages, and time-and-a-half overtime. Back in the 1950s, the highest marginal tax rate was 91%, set for wages over $400,000 (about $2.3 million in today’s wages) [if you don’t understand marginal tax rates, please just ask. Basically it means that income below that $400,000 amount was taxed at a lower rate. The govt only taxed income over $400,000 at the 91% rate]. This meant the CEO wasn’t making 235 times the wages of his employees and the gap between the rich and the poor wasn’t as big. 

Hard work and frugal habits aren’t enough anymore. Unions are making some progress with organizing, but it’s slow going due to the union-busting. Republicans keep slashing the taxes for the wealthy, which has produced more billionaires per capita in the United States than anywhere else in the world. Meanwhile, the gap between rich and poor gets larger. People go bankrupt due to medical bills, while health insurance companies post record profits. 

I know a woman who really did want to stay home with her children. Her husband could earn enough to pay the bills, but he was self-employed, which meant health insurance is crazy expensive and doesn’t cover everything. She has to work because she needs the health insurance from a big company to pay for her chronic health problems. 

I am mystified by the Church (and other conservatives) who believe that the breakdown of society is caused by sexual issues rather than economic issues. I am also mystified by the conservative conviction that the government should heavily regulate sexual issues and not regulate the economy. I mean, not to point out the blindingly obvious or anything, but a government could be a lot more effective in economic regulation than it can be in sexual regulation. For a fun thought experiment, let’s reduce the difference between Democrats and Republicans down to what areas they believe the government should interfere and micromanage in. Republicans want the government interfering in and micromanaging peoples’ bodies, reproduction and sex. Democrats want the government interfering in and micromanaging things like spreading resources fairly, taxing billionaires out of existence, and writing safety regulations so businesses don’t kill their workers and pollute water and air.

I posit that economic laws that spread resources fairly will do a lot more to strengthen home, family and communities than laws about sex and gender issues. 

The scriptures spend more time on economic morality than they do on sexual morality, and it’s a shame that churches (all churches) don’t spend a lot more time pounding the pulpit about the morality of economics.

Let’s start with the Book of Mormon. Remember the “pride cycle” Sunday School lessons?

[Image attribution: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/media/image/the-pride-cycle-76fd0d1?lang=eng ]

The pride and wickedness portion of the pride cycle included classism, wealth inequality, and inequity in education, among other sins. See  3 Nephi 6:10-12; 4 Nephi 1:24-26; Mormon 8:36-37. Greed is dangerous to society’s stability.

Laws against oppressing the working poor have been baked into the scriptures since Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. “The wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning” (Leviticus 19:13). Meanwhile, wage theft in the USA affects the working poor more than any other group.

“Woe unto him that … useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work” (Jeremiah 22:13). We could have an entire discussion about this scripture in the context of ward members who want other ward members to work for free. Helping out is great, as long as it’s voluntary. But the richer the Church gets, the more of a skinflint it is for not even paying janitors.

“And I will be a swift witness against … those that oppress the hireling in his wages” (3 Nephi 24:5). In Utah, the minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and has not been raised since 2008. I’ve been happy to see wages rising as businesses have to compete for workers in what have always been low-income jobs, such as retail. It’s sad to think of the reason for the scarcity of workers though. Of the 1,082,388 people in the USA who died of covid, most of those were low-income workers. Yeah, we ought to be paying essential workers much much more and I hope wages for retail and warehouse work, and the like, continue going up until an essential worker can afford a decent standard of living from just one full-time job.

If I was an apostle, I’d become one of those apostles who talks about the same topic in every single General Conference. Picture me pounding the pulpit: “My brothers and sisters, record profits are unpaid wages! Greed is a sin. Wo unto those who oppress the hireling in his wages! Christ told the parable of the rich man, who had so much he didn’t even have room to store all his riches. So he pulled down his barns to build bigger barns, to have room for all his possessions. “But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee!” Luke 12:20. Rich people who hoard wealth while their employees can’t afford medical care will someday stand accountable before God. It is not enough to donate a fortune to charity when that wealth was earned on the broken backs of employees who were crushed under inhumane working conditions and pittance wages! We encourage all members of the Church of Jesus Christ to make your voices known to your elected representatives that oppression of the working class shall not be tolerated! Some question why the Church is speaking out on economic issues. Aren’t economics solely the realm of politics? Let me be clear: economic issues ARE moral issues. Christ’s concern for the poor was one of the defining features of his earthly ministry. Nearly every prophet in the Old and New Testament expressed concern for hirelings, what we would today call the working class. We cannot call ourselves Christians unless we are passing laws to protect and help the working class!”


  1. Do you think sex and gender issues are the biggest threat facing the family today? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think economic issues are the biggest threat facing the family today? Why or why not?
  3. Do you think economic issues are moral issues and churches can/should speak out on this topic?
  4. Why do you think churches focus on sexual issues instead of economic issues?