Mormonism - the Enron of religion

T-Bone Aug. 2012

I recently saw a presentation by author named Bethany McLean. She had written an article on Enron before the company declared bankruptcy, and all analysts were praising the company. But she found some red flags

, such as how the stock was trading at roughly 55 times trailing earnings. Here is the article:
It was first published on March 5, 2001. A documentary based on her work, Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006.

While doing research for the article, she actually got Jeff Skilling on the phone. She asked him about the various partnerships Enron had, and how those companies created revenue. He got angry with her, and called her "unethical." Others urged her to "do her homework."

What was Enron hiding? There are volumes and volumes dedicated to the ugly underbelly of Enron. Here's one article:
But in a nutshell, they were hiding debt. They used various companies to shuffle numbers around on spreadsheets, creating paper millions for investors.

Execs from Enron flew up to Fortune's HQ and met with her and her editor. You can imagine, the Enron execs were not happy with her. At the end of the meeting, Andy Fastow looked a McLean and told her, "I don't care what you write about the company, just don't make me look bad." It was such an odd statement that she thought he was joking.

Does this sound like another corporation that has a lot of things to hide? How about Mormonism?

See how the ad hominem attacks were leveled at McClean? Doesn't that sound like something Mormons say when their religion is questioned? They tell you to speak to a Mormon if you want to know the truth about Mormonism. That's like saying, "Talk with Jeff Skilling if you want to know the truth about Enron."

McLean learned a lot by talking to professional short-sellers. They look at financial reports and they can tell you when things don't add up. And they bet on the stock tanking. They are professional skeptics, and they make a lot of money doing it. Exmos look at the history of Mormonism, and we get out. We see the red flags. We see the disturbing lack of information available to Mormons. But is it fair to talk to exmos about Mormonism? Aren't we professional skeptics about Mormonism, after all?

As McLean reminds us, is there anybody who was unbiased about Enron? What if you were urged to talk to one of Enron's 18 analysts? How about Skilling or CFO Andrew Fastow? Would you get an unbiased analysis of the history of Mormonism by talking to a bishop, SP, or somebody at church HQ? How about one of their self-titled apostles? How about the man they call "prophet"?

What happens when you speak to an apologist about Mormonism? They advise you to "do your research." Enron used analysts with official sounding titles. Those titles helped them intimidate people. If an analyst signs off on a financial report, it must be correct. If a professor at BYU with a PhD says that he has found irrefutable proof that the Mormon church is true, it must be true.

What if you ask a member about Mormonism? Many of them are uninformed. They say you are lying when you say that Joseph Smith had a doctor who performed abortions on women he impregnated. They will call you a liar, accuse of being anti-Mormon, or say you are wasting your time. Some will tell you that none of it matters because being a member makes them better people.

What happens if we try to tell outsiders about Mormonism? As McLean says, one of the biggest lessons she learned is that if you wrote a screenplay about Enron or Bernie Madoff before the truth got out, Hollywood producers would laugh and say, "That's too far-fetched." Does that sound like something your nevermo friends would say about your experience in Mormonism? One of the most lonely things about leaving a cult is that nobody really believes you. They may pay lip service to you, but they really don't believe you were taught what you say you were taught. This is why the only people we can really discuss this with is other ex-Mormons. We just "get" each other.

The huge difference in the two different scams (financial fraud and religious fraud) is that if you deprive investors of their right to know key information which would help them make better decisions, you can wind up prison. But if you deprive church members of their right to know important information about Mormonism, you can always blame it on them. After all, the names of the wives of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young are all a matter of public record. In the end, investors who were not number savvy enough got burned. They didn't see the red flags. Mormons also see the red flags, but they are told they are experiencing a weak testimony. They need to pray and read their scriptures. Be strong. The devil is tempting you.

In the end, I think religion is the bigger fraud. The DOJ and SEC can take action against companies that are defrauding investors. But religion, force fed to children and affecting them well in to adulthood, is beyond reproach. This fact further emboldens Mormons. The government will most likely not shut down the LDS corporation. Nor will they raid the COB. The long con in Mormonism is that it garners tithing and offerings from members over a lifetime, 10% at a time. Small bites at a time. At the same time, they admonish members to have more faith.

In the end, it's just a con job. There are red flags, and there are doubts. And you can't get reliable information from Mormon sources.


Re: Mormonism - the Enron of religion
This is a post worth keeping! Very good, T-Bone.

Re: Mormonism - the Enron of religion
For further proof just read the following "Business Plan" for Mormonism. It's called "The Great Mormon Money Machine" from Short Topics at RFM.

It truly is the religious version of ENRON:

Re: Mormonism - the Enron of religion
If I were grading you this would get an A+++. Excellent comparison.

I knew Enron wasw fake from the get-go. I watched Enron from the point of view of living in California during the period of those fake "rolling blackouts." It was a game: PG&E played on the California public's fear between 1998-2001 so that the public would pressure the California Public Utilities Commission to let PG&E raise their rates. It didn't take a genius to know it was a scam, it only took paying attention to how and where the blackouts were happening.

I can't tell you how many times in private conversation I was told I didn't know what I was talking about in both cases.

I could try to say now that I got the last laugh but that isn't even true. The California public begged and threatened, CPUC caved, and PG&E raked in pure profit. Kenneth Lay got the last laugh, too: he managed to die and leave all his ill-gotten gains to his wife and kids WHO NEVER HAVE TO GIVE IT BACK.

Re: Mormonism - the Enron of religion
This is excellent!

Re: Mormonism - the Enron of religion
That was so good I can't get my mouth to shut T-Bone.

The 'official sounding title' farce is so important to understand.

How do you question someone who has Apostle preceding their name?

I for one am so tired of the 'hands off religion' policy in this country. They have major impact on peoples lives, on children's lives and should be accountable like any other corporation.

Re: Mormonism - the Enron of religion
rander70 - Thanks! Glad you liked it.

zap - I just love that afterlife insurance thread. Thanks!

xyz - I think a lot of people actually thought it was fake. Just like MLMs and Bernie Madoff ponzi schemes, people know it's fake, but they hope somebody else ends up holding the bag.
Unfortunately, a lot of people really "believed" in Enron. That was a major requirement of working at the company. There wasn't just one person perpetrating a fraud. It was a huge web of people, all making bad decisions, hoping somebody else would be the fall guy. In fact, McLean says that a lot of guys like Skilling actually know they're doing something wrong, but they think they'll make it all better the next quarter.
Anyway, good for you for spotting it.

MorMon - Thanks for reading this. It was a lot of fun to write.

blueorchid - the parallels in the corporate fraud were just so astounding to me. I tried to find McLean's presentation on YouTube, but I didn't have the time. I don't remember where I first saw it, but as I was watching the analogy just kept getting more and more uncanny.
It breaks my heart that religion can damage children like it does. And they take money from good, hard-working people who should be putting that money away for retirement, their children's education, or a rainy day.

Well, everybody. Keep your BS detector in good shape. I don't worry about life being a series of scams, making it necessary to keep on our guard all the time. And since most people don't expect this kind of deception (in fact, it never occurs to most of the human race to do such dishonest things) but it is good to have a good BS detector.


"Recovery from Mormonism -"