Jeff T. Green, a native of Utah, is said to be the richest person from the state of Beehive, last month pledged to give away at least 90% of his fortune to charity during his lifetime or upon his death.
But the former Latter-day Saint missionary and Brigham Young University graduate will not give any of his money to the state’s largest nonprofit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Christ.
Indeed, Green is stepping down as a member of the Utah-based faith – along with 11 family members and a friend.
“Although I have a deep love for many Mormons and am grateful for the many things that have come into my life through Mormonism, I have not considered myself a member for many years, and I would like make it clear to you and others that I don’t. a member,” Green wrote in a December 20 letter to the President of the church Russell M. Nelson. “Although I left the Mormon church over a decade ago – not believing, not attending or practicing – until now I have not formally requested my profile be deleted.”
While most of the members “are good people trying to do the right thing, I believe the church is being active and currently doing harm to the world. The leadership of the church was dishonest about its history, finances, and undertakings,” he wrote. “I believe the Mormon church has hindered global progress on women’s rights, civil rights and racial equality and LGBTQ+ rights.”
Because of Green’s views on LGBTQ rights, he chose Equal Utah for his family’s first major donation – $600,000.
“We made this investment quite large and public to send a message that Equality Utah is not going anywhere,” Green said. “It is my hope and my foundation [Dataphilanthropy] that this is the first of many contributions to Equality Utah. ”
He noted that “nearly half of the money will go to a new scholarship program to help LGBTQ+ students in Utah,” including those “May need or want to leave BYU. ”
The way the Utah-majority creed uses its own assets is an issue that plagues Green.
Church has been accumulated “Over $100 billion in assets, which are all derivatives of widow’s tick, doesn’t even measure real estate and less liquid assets,” he wrote to Nelson. “This money comes from people, often the poor, who wholeheartedly believe that you represent the will of Jesus. They give, expecting the blessings of heaven.”
His former belief “should do more to help the world and its members with its riches,” writes Green. “Instead, I think the church exploited its members and their need for hope to build temples, build malland livestock farms, funds Ensign’s Peak Advisor investment funds and mortgage-backed securities, rather than alleviating human suffering inside or outside the church. “
Green ended his 900-word post by saying it was “an official resignation… effective immediately… with no waiting period”.
The divorced father of three “wouldn’t change my mind,” he wrote. “After today, the only communication I would like from the church is a single confirmation letter letting me know that I am no longer listed as a member.”
The move is a far cry from how the Latter-day Saint boy and other signers growing up in the bosom of the church had envisioned their future.
For each of them, the journey to this point has taken a different path with its own twists, turns, and turns. But all said that they had reached a place of peace and comfort.
Green’s sister, Jennifer Gaerte, had a lot of questions about her faith as a young Latter-day Saint but ended up taking a rather traditional route – went to BYU, sent a boyfriend her mission, married him in a Latter-day Saint temple, had four sons and moved to Davis County.
“We were,” she says now, “that picturesque Mormon family”—until seven years ago, when the traumatic death of her brother-in-law rocked her spouse, the marriage and their world.
“My husband was angry with God and refused to go to church for months,” she recalls. “I completely understand.”
She continued to take her children to church, but they were ostracized because their father did not attend. Some said some children from the ward even threw stones at them.
“I went into survival mode,” she said, “trying to save my marriage and my family.”
At the time, Gaerte was serving in the presidency of Young Women. She went to the bishop and said, “I need to be released,” but he replied, “If I release you, you will be inactive.” Then she replied, “If you don’t release me, I will free myself.”
And that’s it.
The family moved from Woods Cross to Farmington, attended for a while but eventually stopped altogether.
Since then, Gaerte, a social worker and teacher, has had to figure out “who I am outside of church because that’s so ingrained in me,” she says. “Do I believe this because that’s who I am, or because that’s what I was taught?”
Green, Gaerte and two of the five siblings had already left the church, she said. “Our parents raised us as strong individuals who could think for themselves and this is what we did.”
She hopes they see it that way.
‘Didn’t feel right’
Justin Green, Jeff’s younger brother, goes on a mission in Guatemala, gets married in a temple, and is fully engaged for most of his life.
About 10 years ago, he started to realize that he was going to church and not enjoying it – not feeling spiritually nourished.
“I don’t feel fit. I didn’t feel connected to people or a sense of community. Justin, a banking executive who now lives in Houston, said. “It has caused friction in my life. It didn’t work for me. “
He doesn’t delve into the history or social issues surrounding Mormonism but just drifts.
“I realized I could be a better father to [four] children, a better person,” he said. “I can make time for other things.”
Over the past few years, as Justin has found his own “moral compass,” he has taken a closer look at the church and its teachings and realized that he cannot answer any of the questions. temple introduction question in a prescribed manner to be deemed worthy of participation.
[What are the recommended questions Latter-day Saints must answer to their lay leaders to gain entry into the faith’s temples? Read here.]
Justin decided to join the others in resigning, he said, because when outsiders found out he was from Utah, they assumed he was a Latter-day Saint.
“I don’t want to be involved in it,” he said. “I don’t think it’s as open and cuddly as it should be.” But, he added with a laugh, he still loves BYU football.
Doug Whittemore is Jeff’s closest cousin of the same age and lives across the street in West Jordan. The two had been inseparable for many years and, by all accounts, had a “wonderful childhood” in their community of Latter-day Saints.
However, there were some aspects of his faith that troubled him.
Whittemore, who works in financial services in Dallas, recalls: “There was something that didn’t work intuitively for me. “It’s pragmatic, but I can never buy in [religious] concepts and teachings as far-fetched as you can believe them. “
So, around age 18 or 19, he decided not to serve a mission – the first man in his extended family to not serve.
Since then, he has charted his own path.
After that, everyone in the family, including Jeff, treated him well, “in a different way,” he said. “A lot of them haven’t spoken to me in years, and that’s still the case to this day.”
You would think they would have the opposite reaction, he said, by “fighting to get me back.”
It took a long time to rebuild his relationship with his parents, but he was finally able to have a tender exchange – through fishing – with his father, shortly before the father passed away from cancer. pancreas in 2018.
“I respect all Mormons and treat them the way I want to be treated,” Whittemore said. “The core of all religions is to be kind to people.”
‘Clear sense of purpose’
With his pioneering pedigree (having Ensigns, Angells, and Woolleys in his family tree) and a Mormon penchant for obsession, Jeff Green once found himself working full-time to inculcate faith in teenagers. as a seminary teacher.
During his mission to Venture, California, (not far from his office now), the serious young convert even attempted to convert to a Catholic priest. This clothed man is kind enough to bring a listening ear but has no intention of converting faith, a fact that drives the idealist evangelist who believes he is on God’s side.
Because of such zeal and certainty, Green fell in love with his mission. It changed his life.
“I have a clear sense of purpose that what you are doing will resonate in the old world,” he said. “I feel like I am creating a rich eternal life for others.”
The thoughtful scholar eventually switched from a religious education to a degree in English literature, then went on to study marketing communications at the University of Southern California.
As Green was building his career as an online advertising entrepreneur, he also began to scrutinize Mormon history, starting with his ancestry and polygamy. He then turned to church founder Joseph Smith’s who reported “First vision“And other aspects of the official narrative of the past, finding inconsistencies along the way.
That led him to a more thorough exploration of church teachings, and what he saw as troubling aspects of faith structure and sociology. Such research ultimately drained his faith in the church’s claims of truth.
“The most positive part of our childhood was not the close connection we had with our parents but with the community,” the 44-year-old said gently. “I am so grateful for that community and its wonderful people, including my ancestors, who made enormous sacrifices in the name of God and the community.”
However, he feels compelled to take an official break.
“Faithful Mormons (at the direction of church leaders) often accuse walkers of doing so for simple or petty reasons or even the devil – this is not a sentence. my story,” Green told Nelson in the letter. “I have stopped believing and participating in an unethical way.”
He is leaving, he wrote, “for the same reasons.”
https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2021/12/20/wealthiest-utah-native/ Utah-born billionaire Jeff T. Green quits LDS Church, donates $600k to Equality Utah