Mormon leaders are convincing Africans that tithing will break them out of poverty

Russell M. Nelson was elected president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints back in January. At 93-years-old, Nelson immediately embarked on a world trip to spread the message of Mormonism.

This week he was in Nairobi, Kenya, and people flocked to hear him speak. Speaking to the Deseret News, LDS follower Jane Malakwen said that his visit was a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”

“He is the second prophet to come here in the history of the church,” she said.

Many had traveled up to 16 hours to see Nelson speak for just 35 minutes. During his speech, he told his followers that if they’d just give their money to the church, they could break the cycle of poverty.

“We preach tithing to the poor people of the world because the poor people of the world have had cycles of poverty, generation after generation,” Nelson said. “That same poverty continues from one generation to another, until people pay their tithing.”

Just to be clear, Nelson is telling people in a country wracked with poverty to offload their money to him.

Nelson’s wife, who identifies herself as “Sister Nelson,” doubled-down on her husband’s claims that giving money to the church can break the cycle of poverty.

“Think about something you need,” she said. “What would make your life better right now? What are the eternal laws that govern that blessing? What eternal law would you need to live so that you could receive that blessing?”

Tithing, of course.

Kenyan Mormons are eagerly awaiting the construction of the country’s first Mormon temple. But according to the Deseret News, church leaders have been holding off on that announcement, focusing only on tithing.

While followers wait for the temple to be built, they were encouraged to travel “as often as the circumstances and the finances and transportation will allow” to the LDS church in Johannesburg, South Africa — which is 2,500 thousand miles away.

Charles, a Mormon counselor who traveled from Uganda to hear Nelson speak, said he will return home and relay the LDS president’s words to his family and the Mormon congregations in his area.

“I will share with them the importance of us having temple recommends,” he said, adding that “tithing is going to break the cycle of poverty, the importance of educating our children and doing away with dowry as part of our culture.”

Featured image: Ravell Call/Deseret News

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