WANTED . . . no LDS need apply

June 15, 2004 | 60 comments
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OK, so the lawyer thread has got me thinking: are there any careers that a Latter-day Saint just can’t do?

Let’s knock off the obvious: porn star, drug dealer. (My husband and I disagree on CIA Assassin and blogger.) Others?

P.S.–You’ll notice I didn’t say lawyer.

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60 Responses to WANTED . . . no LDS need apply

  1. Julie in Austin on June 15, 2004 at 12:29 am

    fix

  2. Kaimi on June 15, 2004 at 12:43 am

    Prostitute. Probably stripper. Probably the same for pimps.

    Likely that Rabbi, Nun, etc are also out.

    Hmm, wine taster? Brewer? Tobacconist?

    (On the other hand, maybe not — entire wards on my mission were comprised of coffee farmers).

    Gay-wedding planner?

    Hmm, I know an active LDS soap-opera star (well, former), so that’s not out of the question. Similarly, risque dancers can conceivably be LDS — there was an article a few months back about a dancer in DC, as I recall, who was able to wear a body suit for some required (quasi, in her case) stage nudity.

  3. Clark Goble on June 15, 2004 at 1:43 am

    I knew of a former CIA assassin from my mission. Of course he had a pretty hard time living with some of the stuff he did. So perhaps it wouldn’t be ideal for a Mormon…

  4. Derek Hofmann on June 15, 2004 at 3:35 am

    * Evolutionary scientist.
    * Professional medium.
    * Pickpocket.
    * Communist dictator.
    * MPAA movie rater (conflict of interest: the rater would be tempted to rate every movie PG-13 and below in order to avoid having sinned, after the fact. Or maybe not, because at the time the movie was “not yet rated”).

  5. Jeremy on June 15, 2004 at 9:00 am

    Kaimi, You refer to Nina Warren, an opera star and Mormon mom who specializes in Strauss’s spooky opera Salome. She not only performs the slinky “Dance of the Seven Veils” (in body stocking), but, at the opera’s climax, kisses John the Baptist’s decapitated head on the mouth.

    Derek, Evolutionary Scientist?! If you’re right, there are lots of folks in the BYU biology department that shouldn’t be.

    ==========

    Lots of members in Vegas work in the Casinos (the justification, one once told me, is that everybody in Vegas, whatever they’re doing, is working for the Casinos).

    ==========

    Many of the Mormon students at the music conservatory I attend have worked part-time playing organ and/or directing choirs in local protestant churches. And at one point, the organist and chorister in my ward, the former an early music specialist, the latter a Wagnerian tenor, both worked in a progressive local synagogue. Before any given service, you might have encountered a Mormon guy playing Lutheran church music while the Jewish congregants filtered in. Once the service started, another Mormon acted as Cantor (they even let him blow the shofar!).

  6. Russell Arben Fox on June 15, 2004 at 10:03 am

    Arguably aside from Word of Wisdom-related occupations (a couple of which were mentioned above), I really can’t think of any occupation that would be inconsistent with LDS doctrine that isn’t, broadly speaking, inconsistent with Christian principles in general. Some traditions of Christian practice, obviously, take the ideal of living a humble, unworldly, Christlike life much more seriously than Mormonism (or Catholicism, etc.) does, and for those in such traditions, the list of forbidden occupations is long: Mennonites, for example, can’t be soldiers, police officers, tax collectors, politicians, etc. I suppose one could argue that Mormons at least are expected to draw a somewhat firmer line against occupations which involve gambling or working on Sunday than other denominations, but I doubt that expectation translates into practice as often as perhaps it should.

    What occupations ought Christians avoid, in general? Well, anything that oppresses the poor, or involves violence, or puts one person above another, or abuses our earthly stewardship, or gets in the way of worship, or causes contention (directly or indirectly), or presents a stumbling-block to the faith of others. I think that pretty much excludes practically all carrers in law, business, banking, politics, law enforcement, mass food processing, the military, construction, etc. All that’s left, really, is what Hugh Nibley called “The Great Triple Combination–farming, church, and study.” I’ve no doubt that he’s right–in the millenium, we will all, more or less, spend our days tending to our gardens (literal or metaphorical), performing our callings, and enriching our minds. However, such a limited range of occupations is incompatible with the maintenance of a modern, democratic society. Perhaps we shouldn’t value that good as much as we do…but seeing as we do value it, careers which violate basic Christian principles seem inevitable. As they say, the world lieth in sin.

  7. Frank McIntyre on June 15, 2004 at 10:41 am

    Russell,

    You seem to be talking about what the United Order would have us do. But we are not in the United Order.

    Furthermore, some of the items on your list are odd. Mormon’s occupation involved violence, and yet I see no reason to second guess his occupational choice (and he was not alone in that choice). Nor is policing, which involves violence, a no-no in any sense I know. Mormon’s life might also have bearing on the lawyer thread, as he showed some clear waffling about his work when he felt he was defending the guilty and abetting their iniquity.

    And putting one person above another seems to me to be a characteristic of the individual and not the occupation. Some occupations are revered, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do them. It just means we shouldn’t get snooty if we do them.

    “Causes contention, directly or indirectly” — surely by this you mean lawyers :)

    In principle, I think I agree with some form of the other no-no’s you cite. Althugh I would be interested to see a workable definition of oppressing the poor, and I’m not quite sure what occupations are a stumbling block to others that don’t also violate some other rule.

  8. Ben S. on June 15, 2004 at 10:52 am

    I know two active and believing LDS in the Divinity school who are assistant pastors at local churches. They frequently miss church because they’re preaching:)

  9. Scott on June 15, 2004 at 11:33 am

    If a good Mormon can’t be a porn star, can a good Mormon:

    a) be a director of pornographic films (PFs)?

    b) compose music for PFs?

    c) take royalties for a composition that has been subsequently used in a PF?

    d) be an in-house bookkeeper for a PF studio?

    e) be outside counsel representing a PF studio?

    f) be a landowner that leases space to an “adult bookstore”?

    g) be a landowner that leases space to a video store that has a small adults-only back room for PFs?

    h) be a distributor of PFs?

    i) be an officer of a company with a wholly-owned subsidiary that produces PFs?

    j) be a shareholder of a company whose wholly-owned subsidiary produces PFs?

    k) be a member of a political party or action group that seeks, by law or litigation, to protect or extend the PF-related rights?

    Scott

  10. Gary Cooper on June 15, 2004 at 11:50 am

    Scott,

    To answer your question(s) in a word, No (x 11).

  11. cooper on June 15, 2004 at 12:06 pm

    Scott I wouldn’t want to be included in any part of that list. But I have a funny feeling you’e going to tell me I am; by way of shopping at Walmart or Target or Disney etc. Unfortunately the p*rn industry is insidious and affects more of us than we are aware. It’s the same for tobacco and alcohol, and even pharmaceuticals. The world we live in is so entwined through “money streams” there is little that is not related.

  12. Nate Oman on June 15, 2004 at 12:15 pm

    Before law school I worked on Capitol Hill for a senator for Kentucky. One of the legislative battles that I worked on was a drive by tobacco state senators to nix the Clinton Administration’s attempt to sponsor a federal lawsuit against the tobacco industry. One day, after my boss and I had been assisting the Senator on the floor during debate, we were talking together in the GOP cloakroom off the floor. The Senator turned to me and said, “As a Mormon are you going to get in trouble for fighting for tobacco farmers?”

    It was a joke, and for a variety of legal reasons, I could fight against the federal suit with a good conscience, but it did make me stop and think. I have a friend who used to work for a law firm in DC that handled a lot of work for tobacco companies, and I know that he tried to not get assigned to those cases.

  13. Kingsley on June 15, 2004 at 12:28 pm

    I have always wondered, does a righteous LDS actor who tells the Church, look, I’m just not really interested in doing a PR video about LDS superstars get any points knocked off his righteousness.

  14. Clark Goble on June 15, 2004 at 12:29 pm

    The evolutionalist one is kind of funny. Derek – you do know that several significant general authorities believed strongly in evolution, right? Further there have been some very notable scientists working in evolution at BYU. One significant breakthrough came from BYU last year in which they showed a property could evolve, be lost, and evolve again.

  15. Kingsley on June 15, 2004 at 12:35 pm

    I think Derek had his tongue in his cheek.

  16. Jared on June 15, 2004 at 12:38 pm

    Recently I was travelling for business and stayed at a large fancy Marriott hotel. As a youth, my family pretty much stayed in Motel 6 or Super 8-type places so my exposure to large hotels has been sparse until I started working at a law firm last year.

    Anyway, I had some time in the evening and started browsing the menu for entertainment options. I was first horrified to discover that they charged $12.00 to watch recent movies; I could buy the DVD on Amazon for that much.

    I was then very surprised to see that I could order from a large variety of “adult” (i.e. pornographic) films. I declined to partake, but I was a bit troubled by having the option in the first place. Should J.W. Marriott be removed from his post as Area Authority Seventy because his company is involved in distributing porn?

    I know that lots of Marriott hotels are franchised, but I’m sure that the parent company could insist on a “no-porn” clause of some sort in all franchise agreements. Why don’t they? My guess is that they worry about losing market share to porn-friendly hotels, and that charging $12 for a single viewing is just too darn lucrative. However, I’m sure many of you would say that lucre gleaned from porn is quite filthy indeed.

    So should the church refuse to accept tithing money from Marriott? Hmm, I guess if you are really striving for absolute purity from porn then the church should not have invested in shopping malls with Victoria’s Secret stores, music stores selling vulgar CD’s and yes, movie stores selling yet more porn.

    I believe the church justifies its ventures in shopping malls by pointing out that they did not use tithing funds, but rather general business or investment funds. I find this distinction meaningless personally, but that’s another post. In general, it seems to me that the church as well as Marriott would essentially argue that its “just business.” This argument assumes that in business, anything goes as long as its legal.

    If you think about it long enough, unless you want to live in an ivory tower (e.g. CES employee, academic, or Jeffersonian/Nibleyan farmer), then you probably will have to compartmentalize your ethics to some degree in almost any job out there in order to succeed by worldly standards. It’s all about trying to find the balance between being in the world and not of the world. We’re all trying, but I’m sure nearly everyone would disagree about exactly where the bright lines should be drawn.

  17. Kingsley on June 15, 2004 at 12:45 pm

    I hear that farm products are now being used in some branches of the porn industry.

  18. Adam Greenwood on June 15, 2004 at 12:51 pm

    In Geneva, there is (was) an active wine taster. Supposedly he’s recieved permission from high up to continue his profession so long as he doesn’t swallow, which I’m told wine tasters hardly ever do anyway (seems its hard to cultivate a discriminating palate while soused).

  19. D. Fletcher on June 15, 2004 at 12:53 pm

    My first design job in NYC was an ad campaign for Camel cigarettes, i.e., R.J. Reynolds.

  20. Gary Cooper on June 15, 2004 at 12:58 pm

    Jared,

    The problem of Marriott and porn developed once the compnay moved years ago from being a family-owned proprietership to a full-fledged corporation. Now, all decsions are made by majority vote of the board of directors, where Bro. Marriott is just one vote among several. In other words, Marriott is no longer, and has not been for some time, a “Mormon” company–it is just as secular and worldly as any other corporation. To their credit, Bro. Marriott and the other family members have used their incomes fro many years to fund political and pressure groups that oppose pornography, and the reason copies of the BoM are provided in each room is because the Mariott family insisted on placing susch a policy in the original aggreement that created Marriott, Inc. (so the Board can’t change it).

  21. Derek Hofmann on June 15, 2004 at 1:36 pm

    I suppose a better question might be, which occupations present dilemmas for L.D.S. members? Conflict of interest would be one of the major dilemmas. For a wine taster, do you objectively give accurate ratings of various wines, or do you rate the worst one highest in order to try to pollute the ratings and wean people off alcohol?

    A similar question would be about how others perceive you. Do your religious beliefs and professional credibility ever come into conflict?

  22. lyle on June 15, 2004 at 2:08 pm

    Clark:

    Can you ask your CIA friend re: what, if any, guidance he received from his bishop/GA/apostle, etc? I have these visions of CIA assassin guys doing Catholic Confessionals before Apostles before they take the sacrament again.

    re: P)rn & Marriott. Don’t forget alcohol. In developing countries, this is a big struggle for LDS converts/members. If they own the local corner store, do they sell alcohol? If they don’t…no profit & they go (near) broke.

    re: Tobacco work. I turned down a job once I learned that it was tobacco litigation related. They wanted to hire me to fly all around latin america doing legal/political research & filing briefs to prevent the tobacco companies from getting sued by S. American companies. Go figure, from RM to Tobacco-M. no way.

  23. Carl Youngblood on June 15, 2004 at 2:30 pm

    The last time I stayed at a Marriott Residence Inn they didn’t have any Books of Mormons in their rooms. Only a Gideon Bible. So maybe even that requirement was nixed by the Board of Directors.

  24. clarkgoble on June 15, 2004 at 3:17 pm

    Lyle, I didn’t really know the guy well and it was quite some time ago. So I don’t know what council he was given. He was living and married under an assumed name as there was apparently a hit out for him from the KGB. (I was on my mission from ’87 – ’89 so the cold war was still technically on)

    My companion had this weird story where they were going on splits together and some kid runs up with a toy gun. The guy freaks out and pulls out a submachine gun from under his seat and nearly killed the kid. Kind of freaked my companion out.

    He definitely needed help as he felt really, really guilty for the stuff he’d done. He’d apparently been recruited after getting drafted for Viet Nam. I gather they do some psychological tests on people for their emotions. He apparently had the ability to switch off his emotions when going on a task. In Viet Nam he’d sneak into camps and assassinate people. After Viet Nam they used him fairly extensively in Europe. (He obviously wouldn’t talk about the details)

    We taught a different guy who was Army Intelligence during Viet Nam. He said almost everyone in the intelligence organizations became alcoholics or ended up committing suicide. Of course that was Viet Nam, so things may be different now. He did have this great story of riding a helicopter filled with $20 million in cash. The engines aren’t doing so good so they had to throw the cash out of the helicopter to drop weight, along with guns and lots of other stuff.

  25. Mathew on June 15, 2004 at 3:40 pm

    Gary,

    If the CEO and a major share holder of Marriott was serious about getting the porn out of the hotels, he could. As I’m sure you are aware, boards largely rubber stamp whatever strategic vision the CEO thinks he has and there is no reason to believe that the Marriott board is unusually independent. In some cases he might have to wait a few years for contracts to expire, but most franchisees would gladly accept a premium and amend the contract.

    Of course some Mormons may also want Marriott to get out of the business of distributing alcohol as well. I think that his would be much harder to do in the hospitality industry since liquor is a core part of that business. Pornography, on the other hand, seems ancillary.

  26. Mathew on June 15, 2004 at 3:41 pm

    Gary,

    If the CEO and a major share holder of Marriott was serious about getting the porn out of the hotels, he could. As I’m sure you are aware, boards largely rubber stamp whatever strategic vision the CEO thinks he has and there is no reason to believe that the Marriott board is unusually independent. In some cases he might have to wait a few years for contracts to expire, but most franchisees would gladly accept a premium and amend the contract.

    Of course some Mormons may also want Marriott to get out of the business of distributing alcohol as well. I think that his would be much harder to do in the hospitality industry since liquor is a core part of that business. Pornography, on the other hand, seems ancillary.

  27. Mathew on June 15, 2004 at 3:41 pm

    Gary,

    If the CEO and a major share holder of Marriott was serious about getting the porn out of the hotels, he could. As I’m sure you are aware, boards largely rubber stamp whatever strategic vision the CEO thinks he has and there is no reason to believe that the Marriott board is unusually independent. In some cases he might have to wait a few years for contracts to expire, but most franchisees would gladly accept a premium and amend the contract.

    Of course some Mormons may also want Marriott to get out of the business of distributing alcohol as well. I think that his would be much harder to do in the hospitality industry since liquor is a core part of that business. Pornography, on the other hand, seems ancillary.

  28. Mathew on June 15, 2004 at 3:45 pm

    Apologies for the triple post–hit the button instead of waiting.

  29. Gary Cooper on June 15, 2004 at 3:50 pm

    Matthew,

    You make a good point. I don’t know enough about the relationship between Bro. Mariott and the rest of the board of directors at Mariott, Inc. to do more than speculate, but you could be right. If so, for goodness sakes, why would he tolerate this? Maybe Hugh Nibley is right about the appeal of mammon in the Last Days, turning otherwise decent people into something less noble…

  30. lyle on June 15, 2004 at 5:10 pm

    what about “hooters”-esque hair stylist?
    supposedly, a hooters/bikini type hair saloon is all the rage in Utah now. go figure.

    Should we patronize/work for (or not) this
    Bikini cuts place?

    apparently P*rn searchers are already at their website to check out the free scantily clad calendar fotos.

    http://www.sltrib.com/2004/Jun/06152004/utah/175498.asp

  31. Measure on June 15, 2004 at 5:46 pm

    I work at the Corporate HQ of a famous seattle coffee company. I haven’t seen any OTHER Mormons around here, and coffee is pushed on everyone.

    Nevertheless, I recieved this job offer after a month and a half of unemployment, the day after My wife and I fully caught up on paying our tithing. So it would seem my job is endorsed by God.

    At least I like the way coffee smells, or this job could really suck.

  32. lyle on June 15, 2004 at 6:32 pm

    Give me a few years Measure, mayhap I can tempt you to join me in a different type of ‘bean’ business (i.e. cocoa :)

    a different sin, but much more sweete

  33. Anon on June 15, 2004 at 8:58 pm

    Marriot corporation made their first real incursion into commercial success by combining bars with their hotels.

    I seriously doubt that the porn angle differs significantly from the booze orientation that propelled the family so well.

  34. Dan Richards on June 15, 2004 at 11:09 pm

    A timely post, because a good friend of mine who frequents Times and Seasons was just offered a job at one of the ubiquitous shops of the aforementioned Seattle coffee cartel. He’s trying to escape his current miserable job, and the benefits of his new job would allow him to continue to treat some serious health problems. He asked another Mormon friend what he thought about the job, and that friend likened it to working in a brothel. My counsel went the other way–I see coffee as malum prohibitum, rather than malum in se. As long as he doesn’t drink the stuff, I see no problem with his taking the job.

    I think some of the mutual funds in my IRA include tobacco stocks, and possibly stock from companys with adult movie-making subsidiaries. I don’t feel bad about this for some reason, but I would in fact feel worse if I directly bought stock in, say, Philip Morris.

    Another LDS acquaintance is an Ob/Gyn in a mid-size western city. Apparently, word spread among the lesbian community that he was a good doctor, and he ended up with disproportionately many lesbian patients. Then one requested an in vitro fertilization, which he declined to do, citing his discomfort ethically. It wasn’t long before his lesbian clientele disappeared. He had plenty of work anyway, so it didn’t hurt him financially, but he found it a little sad nonetheless.

  35. Julie in Austin on June 16, 2004 at 12:44 pm

    Hmm, OB/GYNs probably have more ethical issue than lawyers! I find it interesting that your friend wouldn’t do the in vitro. (I think I would, but I am not sure.) Does he prescribe the pill for single women? Does he perform abortions? Does he sterilize women with one or no children? Does he advocate abstinence or risk reduction?

  36. Frank McIntyre on June 16, 2004 at 12:56 pm

    Julie,

    I think most abortions are performed by doctors who specialize in abortions (often at Planned Parenthood clinics). Even OB/GYNs with no ethical dimemmas would not routinely do them. I could be wrong.

    As for anon,
    An unsupported fact, an attack, and an unwillingness to disclose your identity. This is not a recipe to inspire trust in your comments!

  37. greenfrog on June 16, 2004 at 1:16 pm

    Regarding alcohol, coffee, and the like, I am not aware of any intrinsic evil associated with those products. Do they cause harm? Yes, in some instances, they do. Just like cars, guns, and sharp instruments (“Don’t run with those scisssors or you’ll poke out your eye.”)

    It seems to me that when one covenants not to use them in certain ways, the use of them in those proscribed ways is the evil. For those not so covenanted, I don’t see why we should be concerned, let alone condemnatory.

  38. greenfrog on June 16, 2004 at 1:25 pm

    I am acquainted with LDS OB/GYNs who perform abortions consistent with the Church’s position: i.e., when requested by patients in cases when the pregnancy could jeopardize the life of the mother, when the fetus is severely malformed and could not live for more than a brief period following birth (anencephaly, etc.), or in cases of multiple pregnancy where none of the fetuses would survive if all were permitted to gestate.

  39. Frank McIntyre on June 16, 2004 at 1:28 pm

    Section 89 says the WoW is due to “conspiring men in the last days”. This appears to relate to the sellers or marketers of thse things, and not favorably. While I don’t know that this means one can’t work at a supermarket that sells alcohol, it might be worth making sure one is not one of the “conspiring men” or aiding and abetting such men.

    Also, I’ve taken this thread to mean things we should not do as members of the Church acting in good conscience. Other people seem to think it means things that will get you officially reprimanded by the Church. I can’t think there are many legal jobs that would get you reprimanded by the Church.

  40. Frank McIntyre on June 16, 2004 at 1:30 pm

    Section 89 says the WoW is due to “conspiring men in the last days”. This appears to relate to the sellers or marketers of thse things, and not favorably. While I don’t know that this means one can’t work at a supermarket that sells alcohol, it might be worth making sure one is not one of the “conspiring men” or aiding and abetting such men.

    Also, I’ve taken this thread to mean things we should not do as members of the Church acting in good conscience. Other people seem to think it means things that will get you officially reprimanded by the Church. I can’t think there are many legal jobs that would get you reprimanded by the Church.

  41. greenfrog on June 16, 2004 at 1:34 pm

    Matthew,

    What experience do you have with the internal operation of Boards of Directors of for-profit public corporations?

  42. lyle on June 16, 2004 at 1:43 pm

    dan: thanks for sharing re: your doctor friend. reminds me of the evanglical bashers here; who say they will turn on us in a moment. oddly, the same folks seem more favorable towards SSM/anything to do with perversion. Yet…the lesbian clients “disappeared,” _despite_ the _quality_ that drew them to the doctor in the first place. Hm…

    Dont’ know that this proves/means anything…just an interesting contrast & compare.

    greenfrog: yet, isn’t there a difference between objects which are “multipurpose” vs. _only_ sinful purposes? if you don’t like guns…you can still tell yourself they are used for hunting. if you don’t like alcohol/tobacco…um…I don’t think that either business does much profit making in the fields where these products are useful/non-sinful.

  43. greenfrog on June 16, 2004 at 1:56 pm

    Use of alcohol and tobacco are only sinful if you have covenanted not to use them. Do you perceive there to be a sin in a glass of wine? What then should we make of Jesus the wine-bibber and Joseph the consumer of “mild drinks” of barley and other grains?

    I would suggest that the covenants we have taken upon ourselves, particularly those regarding alcohol, are quite different than those Jesus made in the meridian of time and even different than those that Joseph made in the 19th century.

    I don’t think there is very much question that in the era of US abolition, the Church’s position regarding the use of alcohol, tobacco and coffee changed and became considerably stricter than it had been prior to that time (when wine was still used for sacramental purposes). My coffee-drinking grandfather, a bishop for years, was in my life a living testament to the change of Church standards in this regard. I am not troubled by those changes, and I acknowledge that I am covenanted to abstain from things that he was not in earlier years of the Church.

    But the nature of my particular set of covenants hardly makes the actions of those who have not taken such covenants sinful, any more than recent instructions to Saints to avoid body piercing and tattoos suddenly makes a second earring a sin for someone who is not LDS.

  44. Mathew on June 16, 2004 at 2:17 pm

    Greenfrog,

    I read the Wall Street Journal and the occassional academic article on corporate governance.

  45. Steve Evans on June 16, 2004 at 3:16 pm

    Mat, that’s hardly enough to qualify as a speaker on corporate governance on an LDS thought blog — come on, now, we have standards… come back when you’ve been the CEO of a major public company for at least 15 years.

  46. greenfrog on June 16, 2004 at 3:31 pm

    Matthew,

    I asked the question because the description you provide contrasts sharply with my personal experience in a number of boardrooms. Of the four public company boards I’ve worked extensively with, none of the directors I’ve worked with would accept a proposal that s/he believed would materially reduce the profitability of the company, no matter who proposed it.

    Mind you, there is lots of space for discussion and disagreement about whether or not participating in “sin” industries in particular ways actually would increase profitability. But once the directors conclude that there is a corporate opportunity that the Company is capable of pursuing that would make the company more profitable, I’ve never seen them turn away from it. Perhaps that is because if a director were presented with a situation in which the best interests of the company conflicted with her or his personal preferences or standards of morality, such a director should either resign or, at a minimum, recused her/himself from participating in the decision.

  47. Frank McIntyre on June 16, 2004 at 3:39 pm

    Do we have examples of these sorts of conflicts in the scriptures (between the leader’s morals and the groups interests)? I think Mormon is an excellent one. He lead the Nephites, then didn’t lead them, then lead them again. He was doing good but was abetting wrong-doing by his armies and it deeply troubled him.

    A CEO might have similar feelings about a company that he thinks provides valuable services, yet also has a trashier component. His loyalty to the company encourages him to try to move it in a better direction instead of quitting at the first sign of alcohol.

  48. lyle on June 16, 2004 at 3:57 pm

    calling our BizProfessor here at T&S?

    Greenfrog’s description seems accurate. Board members have a fiduciary duty re: self-dealing. Theoretically, a board member who would profit from a deal has to disclose the conflict. Whether the “profit” applies to moral profiteering, by vetoing alcohol for example, I don’t know.

    someone mentioned that the biz judgment rule is a shield for CEOs & the Board. Yes, but…my understanding of Delaware law is that MONETARY profit is the iron law of the land. You make a decision that loses significant amounts of money (i.e. deciding not to sell alcohol, p#rn, whatever)…then you are in deep soup.

    Gordon?

  49. Mathew on June 16, 2004 at 5:03 pm

    Greenfrog,

    Perhaps most boards function this way–once they decide that a business opportunity is profitable they pursue it–and we can depend on the market to punish through hostile takeovers those companies that are not maximizing their profitability. I like the fact that you used the phrase “materially reduce profitability” because it makes the most obvious ways that boards hurt corporate profitability at the behest of the CEO irrelevant–when a board of a large publicly traded company approves an excessive pay package they probably aren’t materially affecting profitability (at least to the extent that the company would become the subject of a hostile takeover).

    I still believe that CEO’s whose family name is the same as the corporation’s and who owns a large part of the stock can convince the board to follow his strategic vision–I never said that is what he ought to do, but I don’t know how you can seriously argue that he doesn’t have the power to do it.

    Of course you now raise the sticky issue of whether a Mormon ought to resign if he finds himself materially involved in businesses that seem to run counter to the teachings of the church.

    Lyle,

    The short answer is that you aren’t in legal deep soup unless you had an undisclosed conflict of interest. CEO’s are free to lose all the money that they can–nothing wrong with being a bad businessperson.

  50. lyle on June 16, 2004 at 5:14 pm

    Matthew:

    Hypo: The question though, does the BJR help the CEO who says “No Alcohol,” the board passes it & then the company stock drops 50% & its income by say, 33%?

  51. mathew on June 16, 2004 at 5:40 pm

    Lyle,

    He must be disinterested, reasonably informed and believe that the decision is in the best interest of the corporation. Obviously there is a limit to the rule’s protections–gross negligence would do the trick. But the court’s are loathe to second-guess business decisions, even spectacularly bad ones.

  52. lyle on June 17, 2004 at 12:04 pm

    Next round matthew. :)

    you talk of “the best interest of the corporation”. How can anything but a profit maximization strategy be in the best interest of the corporation? eventually, i think that the CEO/board would have to show that profit maximization was their intent; whether that meant “no alcohol, cuz then the locals like us better,” or…whatever. failing a showing that they were “reasonably [thus] informed” I’m not sure it would hold. I took a fiduciary duty seminar from Profs. Scharffs & Welch at BYU and I thought this was the punchline of the class.

  53. greenfrog on June 17, 2004 at 8:23 pm

    One further tidbit — most public Delaware corporations I’m familiar with include in their organizational filings an exemption of directors from due care liability (as a opposed to fiduciary duties of loyalty, and the like). That means that even gross negligence by the Board does not typically create personal liability. Corporations do this in part to shield their directors from the more easily plead derivative litigation that there are always leeches ready to file (which, in turn, creates incentives for directors to take unnecessarily expensive precautions to avoid such liabilities), and they do it in part to reduce the cost associated with the D&O insurance which the directors require before agreeing to join (or continue service on) the board of directors.

    On reflection, the second purpose is actually a derivation of the first, so really only one reason, but it means that gross negligence usually isn’t the standard in my experience.

  54. Gordon Smith on June 17, 2004 at 8:39 pm

    I just became aware that there was a simmering corporate governance debate here. I don’t have much to add, but I know greenfrog and you should listen to him. He knows what he is talking about.

    I will also say that, in my view, directors act like they do for various reasons, which include the following: (1) they believe that profit maximization is a good thing; (2) they believe that they have been charged by the people who elect them (shareholders) to maximize profit; (3) profit maximization is the scorecard that they use to evaluate performance, their own and the top officers; and (4) they believe that they have a legal duty to maximize profits. As greenfrog observes, their are not likely to be called to answer before a court for failing to maximize profits, and in my view, the legal duty (such as it is) serves primarily to reinforce the cultural commitment to profit maximization, rather than as a legitimate constraint on director action.

  55. Adm Greenwood on June 18, 2004 at 5:10 pm

    I know its all the rage to think that the commandments against drinking and smoking are entirely arbitary. I am not immune to the rage myself. Still, I think it’s a mistake to treat them as entirely devoid of content and be willing to plunge into the alcohol and tobacco business with a clean conscience. Coffee and tea aren’t as disquieting as the others but tobacco has unavoidable health effects and alcohol, especially as used in this country, dims the mind and the conscience.

  56. Kingsley on June 18, 2004 at 5:24 pm

    Speaking of rages, how does everyone feel about energy drinks, e.g. Red Bull & Rockstar? In my experience they’re fun for a while, but then you start feeling seriously lousy. The don’ts in the WoW might be arbitrary, but it sure seems like an avoidance of them, along with a healthy dose of the do’s, ultimately leaves you with a clearer mind, stronger heart, & no annoying jitters. I like Brigham Young’s advice: if you can’t get out of bed without x, stay in bed until x is out of your system, even if it takes 3 months. Of course, after 3 months in bed you might have a whole new set of problems.

  57. angela on June 22, 2004 at 1:20 pm

    Anything that I couldn’t look my bishop, his counselors, or anybody in my ward in the eye and claim as my profession, I would not do. Including anything to do with “PF’s”.
    Oh, and a lawyer’s assistant is okay, right? lol

  58. Our Thoughts on June 15, 2004 at 11:19 am

    Off-Limit Careers for Mormons
    I’m not so sure that members of the Church can’t work in industries that promote breaking of the Word of Wisdom. So long as the individual is not drinking beer, why can s/he not work in a brewery? So long as the individual does not smoke the tobacco,…

  59. Albane on December 6, 2004 at 5:50 pm

    I am a convert of 17 years and understand these difficulties.
    I do not understand actually why there is not much more solidarity and determination in helping us members be independant and more autonomous and why our leaders in general do not talk and consider more these things practically speaking.
    In general, we are to use our free agency based on what we know is right but not impose our choices on others even if they are good. This thus refers to PF etc. I struggle in my own sphere in doing what is right and I would rather be a secretary etc and not have to lie but this is not a guarantee either.
    My general feeling is more the fact that there is not much help from within.
    The Church condemns ‘gambling’ for instance but there are nuances for me here too. Christ had put real coins in fishes when the disciples could not pay their taxes. They were real coins. He may not have been accused of manufacturing fake money but would have been condembed for He was not in authority for ‘producing’ that real money. When jobs are refused to you includin cleaning houses, secretarial jobs etc and you are at the border of becoming homeless etc I do not consider money won through a lottery ticket dishonest when it can bring about good in this world. Money from work is taxed but not the one from these lottery games! It gets more and more difficult to deal honestly and earn a decent living through work. We have not mentionned derivatives and all the financial schemes which are legal but so much worse than lottery and casinos for they destroy nations and the whole international monetary system.
    I wish indeed that the Church in general would consider more these different aspects but not just through the US perspective.
    There is too much machism too.
    Has anybody been acquainted with the Science of Christian Economy by Larouche (So you wish to learn all about economics?)
    We have a various of dating sites but I consider jobs to be of outmost importance for our respective freedom and development Can we indeed to much good in misery.

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