Scott B. over at By Common Consent wrote a really interesting hypothetical question blog post called “Ill-Gotten Gains & Illegal Immigration.” He demonstrates that the Church is very serious about not accepting tithing money acquired through the nebulous idea of “ill-gotten gain,” such as gambling or fraud, and shows documented cases of the Church returning money upon the discovery that the member earned that money in a dirty way.
He then posits this hypothetical situation:
Suppose that you live in a hypothetical geographic region which has recently initiated legislation designed to identify illegal aliens in your community. Suppose also that you know of numerous families in your ward or stake who happen to be illegal aliens. Suppose also that you are called to be the Bishop of that ward. Finally, suppose that two individuals come to your office, separately, seeking counsel.
Person 1: “Bishop, I know that Family X are in this country and earning a living illegally. Any money we receive as a ward from that family represents profits on ill-gotten gains, and the Church has said that we don’t profit from such.”
Person 2: “Bishop, you know that I am not a legal resident of this geographic region. I am, according to current laws, an illegal worker. I know that the Church does not want to receive unclean funds as tithing and fast offerings. Yet, I desire to pay tithing. What should I do?”
Interesting arguments abound in the comments.
Personally, I think that multi-level marketing (more commonly known
as “pyramid schemes” or by their acronym MLM) represent ill-gotten gain more than an illegal immigrant’s wages. And, as anyone in Utah knows, the Jell-o Belt is especially rife with them. But alas, the Church, as far as my knowledge goes, does not return the wages of those who make money as the top tier of the MLM pyramid. But that’s my two cents.