This past week I visited a community center where high school kids who are outcasts from their schools and community gather to have friends and support from each other and adults who care about them. Many of them are outcasts because they don't fit the community model of acceptable sexual orientation and gender roles.
Their community center is clean and cared for but it is very sparely furnished with mismatching furniture, appliances, and other fixtures. The kids gain entry to the facility through a locked door to prevent those who might want to harm them from entering. The center is prohibited from advertising in either the schools or churches to let the kids know of the existence of the community center so they learn of it by word of mouth.
I was blown away by the spirit of love, friendship, tolerance, and lack of judgement that existed within the center.
I could not help but realize that if the LDS Church were at all involved with this community center for kids, the place would be prominent instead of being hidden away behind a locked door. It would be furnished with matching furniture and beautiful landscaping. I like it more the way it is. However, I could not help but wonder why the LDS Church chooses what it chooses to support.
The same day I came home and learned that the LDS Church had donated $4 million dollars to the University of Utah Law School toward it's building fund for a new facility. I love the University of Utah and am grateful that the law school is building a new facility. It certainly will be a good thing for the school.
New law schools, big shopping centers, building lavish temples with fountains and gardens...they all look beautiful but what about the kids who need help? I realize that the church does a lot of good in the community with LDS social services, etc., so please don't post me your comments about that.
Corporations support causes that ultimately come back to benefit them in some way. I've been involved with enough corporations and discussions within them to know that they aren't all that altruistic to donate without generally having some expectation of return, even if it's just un-quantifiable good will.
My expectation for a church is somewhat different. I expect that a church would do good for the sake of doing good with little expectation of return...sort of seems like the Christ-like model to me. I'm not naive enough to believe that churches always do that, but on a general scale I would expect churches to be more altruistic than corporations.
The LDS Church in my opinion operates more like the corporation it is than like the church it wants to be. The polished appearance, corporate like branding, and well orchestrated communications tell the story. It does good things. My thoughts run more toward, "what could it be doing that it is not doing?"
As an organization, the LDS Church is certainly more focused on eternity than here and now. For me, I'm no longer satisfied with the answer, "God will fix it in the end." Do we use this too often as a cop out to avoid doing more today? As we speed along to attend our beautifully furnished and manicured Stake Centers and temples how many outstretched hands do we bypass and ignore?