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Research Paper on the History of Tithing in the LDS Church

Im preparing to research the history of tithing in the LDS church and write a report of my findings. This proposal will explain my interest in this subject, outline my qualifications to research and report the topic, and describe the process by which Ill prepare for and undertake the endeavor.

The Research Issue and Its Background

Tithing is a practice that has endured for thousands of years in many religions and today is an especially important commandment for Latter-day Saints. Tithing is often taught and testified about in local and worldwide LDS meetings, and full compliance with the law of tithing is required to be allowed to enter LDS temples and hold positions of leadership. I recently read an article by a smart, but amateur, studier of Mormonism who suggested that attitudes and practices surrounding tithing have changed dramatically in the 180 years since the founding of the LDS church. I and many other members of the church will be interested to know how much of his claim can be substantiated by the research of professional historians.

Research Questions and Thesis Statement

The question Ill explore in my research paper is this: how does the doctrine of, attitudes about, and implementation of the law of tithing as currently taught and practiced in the LDS church differ from in other periods of the churchs history? As I research the subject, I expect to find the following thesis statement to be true: The modern practice of tithing in the LDS church differs markedly from past periods in three main ways: 1) new converts to the early church donated a large portion of their wealth to the church upon joining; today, there is no initial payment; 2) tithes are no longer contributed as goods or labor; they are contributed as money; and 3)

compliance with the law of tithing is an important standard of judging commitment to the church today more so than in the churchs early years, but not as much as in a few periods since then.

Research Subject Justification and Purpose

By exploring the history of tithing, Mormons will be better able to discern which of their beliefs about tithing are immutable issues of doctrine, and which are matters of culture. Church members will be able to more actively and conscientiously make decisions about how to live the law of tithing.

Qualifications for Research on the History of Tithing in the LDS Church

I have many years of experience as a participant, teacher, and leader in the LDS church. I am intimately familiar with the subtleties of Mormon culture, including attitudes about tithing. I have a strong interest in this topic, as a full understanding of the history of tithing will influence the way I practice and teach it. I am adept at searching for information on the internet. As a professional internet programmer, I use a variety of search tools to locate information that helps me solve problems, and I do it every day. I will be able to find historical documents and research papers that will enlighten my audience and sharpen their perspective.

Review of Literature
Ive already found two research papers that provide valuable information about the history of tithing. The first is The History of LDS Temple Admission Standards, authored by Edward L. Kimball and published in the Journal of Mormon History. In it, the former BYU law professor discusses the increasing importance over time of adherence to the law of tithing in determining a members worthiness to be admitted into Mormon temples.

Also published in the Journal of Mormon History is an article by E. Jay Bell entitled The Windows of Heaven Revisited: The 1899 Tithing Reformation. This paper explores how attitudes about tithing changed as the LDS church found itself in financial distress in the 1890s.

Library Research Skills

Having completed the Harold B. Lee Librarys research mini-course, I am acquainted with many tools for discovering source material that will aid in my research about tithing: 1. A specialized collection at the Harold B. Lee Library houses many materials related to Mormonism. 2. BYU Masters Theses on Mormonism is a collection of papers dealing with Mormon History. 3. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism contains general information and history about many topics, including tithing.

Research Plan and Methodology

Google Scholar has helped me find many interesting sources already. Search terms like LDS tithing, Mormon tithing, and Mormon tithing history have yielded many good sources of information about the history of tithing in Mormonism.