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LDS Church denied him financial aid, so he wrote a musical about its wealth.

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When Latter-day Saint David Nolan heard about the billions his church squirrels away for a “rainy day,” he was not satisfied.

But he did not leave the faith. He did not stop believing. He did not stop attending the services. He did not stop paying tithing.

Instead, he wrote a musical.

“The Good Shepherds” – a satirical show about the church’s wealth – premieres 21-23. March at Peery’s Egyptian Theater in Ogden. (Tickets start at $ 19 plus a $ 5 processing fee and are available online at bit.ly/3p4F38I.)

Despite the subject, Nolan is adamant that he is not bitter about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who has been accused of collecting deep dollars intended for, but not spent on, charity.

“The value [of the church] still outweighs the negative, ”he said. “Let’s have a social conversation about the value of a human life versus the value of [billions] in shares that just sit there. “

He also said that Latter-day Saints should have no problem attending “The Good Shepherds.” It’s not like the “The Book of Mormon” musical, he said, the cheeky Tony-winning Broadway hit that mercilessly mocks many of the faiths and practices of the faith.

Rather, Nolan said, “The good shepherds” bypass everything that members consider sacred (such as prophets and temples) and direct their satire solely on church money.

He even feels that most of the music was “completely inspired,” he said. “Some of the songs just flowed into my mind and flowed into the piano keys.”

‘Like a slap in the face’

(Provided by David Nolan) David Nolan’s satirical musical “The Good Shepherds” makes fun of the LDS Church’s enormous wealth. Nolan is pictured here in Paris’ Palais Garnier, a place that he said gave him “quite a bit” of inspiration for the production.

The project started three years ago when Nolan – a Cache Valley resident, musician and father of six – faced a crisis.

His business had recently failed. His savings were wiped out when, after the insurance would not cover a rotting exterior wall in his home, he had paid nearly $ 20,000 to replace it. And he was not sure how to pay his next house payment.

Nolan said he went to the bishop of his Latter-day Saint congregation or congregation for help. He knew that the church sometimes provided financial assistance to the needy, and – given his many years of devotion, including a two-year proselytizing mission and “significant” ministry positions in his congregation, he thought he would find support there.

Instead, Nolan said, the bishop reviewed his finances and authorized him to receive $ 40 worth of food. Thats it.

Several months after that experience – during which time Nolan said he worked three jobs to scrape – a whistleblower claimed the church had raised $ 100 billion by collecting excess donations instead of using them for charity.

Church leaders say the “rainy day” account is intended to protect against disasters or lean economic times – such as credit crunch, stock market declines and recessions – and to fund operations in poorer parts of the world where member donations cannot keep up.

Nolan said he learned the church has billions of dollars, but that did not help in his time of need “literally felt like a slap in the face.”

To process his feelings, Nolan turned to something that has always been therapeutic for him: writing music. And after composing several songs, he realized that a musical would be the perfect means to share them.

Starts conversations

The series’ story follows four young professionals who are excited to get their dream job at Mormon Inc.

But “after discovering that their church mates are pretty obsessed with hoarding insane levels of stocks, land and other investments (while donating very, very little to external charities),” the production’s website states, these new employees a heart change. “

The style of the music is a mix of hip hop, pop and rock. Songs like “Let’s Buy Florida” make fun of the church’s huge land holdings (“We’ll hit a million acres / Because you know God just loves those beach vacations”), while others like “Look Down On Me” take a more serious song. tone (“The ‘rainy day’ you’ve been waiting for? / I have news for you, it’s pouring outside”).

Nolan has posted five of the musical’s songs on YouTube, Spotify and Apple Music, where he creates under the name Jack Betty. He plans to release more of the soundtrack in the coming weeks.

(Provided by Brandon Richardson) Brandon Richardson, performing under the name Lyric Richardson with the hip-hop group JTLR, collaborated with David Nolan on some of the music in “The Good Shepherds”. The satirical musical makes fun of the LDS church’s enormous wealth.

He has also collaborated with musicians such as Brandon Richardson, who performs under the name Lyric Richardson with the hip-hop group JTLR and is the rapper on “Look Down On Me”.

Richardson said Nolan initially reached out to him to do some songwriting, and he was so moved by the work they were doing together that he independently recorded some more rappers and offered them to Nolan, who “ran with it. “

Richardson said most of the music he helped Nolan produce for “The Good Shepherds” is for the main character, who acts as a fictional whistleblower in the story.

Richardson spent a lot of time figuring out this character, he said, and eventually he pulled his emotions out to bring “a little dirt and a little gravel” to the person.

He said he did not have much familiarity with the LDS Church before working with Nolan. In the end, he believes that production does not apply to a single denomination.

“I hope that [the show]… becomes thoughtful and makes people say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s a little funny. What is all this about? ‘”He said. “You can not go back and you can not change history. But maybe we can make things better in the future.”

‘It has the power to literally save human lives’

Nolan expects the show to be sold out because he thinks it will resonate. He also hopes it will connect with other members who would like to see the church exhibit more financial transparency.

“Here they demand that the members declare to the bishop every single year, ‘Yes, I pay the full tithe,'” Nolan said. “It’s just an insane level of financial responsibility.… The Church demands it of us, demands it of us, and withholds blessings from us if we do not. And yet they do not provide a shred of transparency.”

Church officials have noted that the global faith as a whole provides about $ 1 billion a year for “humanitarian and charitable purposes.” They add that COVID-19 spurred its greatest relief effort in church history.

But Nolan looks at these huge reserves and claims that his church can provide more – so much more.

His “biggest dream” is that the church should repeat this feeling and actually “do more.”

“If enough people talk about the church should do more with their insane fortune,” Nolan said, “… it has the power to literally save lives.”


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