What you might not be aware of is that the story is A MYTH.
1. Snow had been pushing tithing for months before that.
2. He promised a return to Missouri in 20 years, not rain.
3. The rain that did come was so violent that it washed out roads.
1890 - Wilford Woodruff Issues the "Manifesto" ending polygamy. The church has spent years fighting the U.S. Government and was in deep debt. The Edmund's Tucker Act of 1887 had nearly destroyed the church financially.
1893 - The Salt Lake Temple is finished and dedicated.
1893 - There was a financial panic and depression that lasted four years. Some states had 40 percent unemployment. Utah was also badly affected.
1898 - Lorenzo Snow becomes the 5th LDS Church President and Rudger Clawson is called as an Apostle. Snow feels that his special mission is the get the Church out of debt.
1899 - Clawson produces a detailed analysis of the Church's finances and announces that the church is $1,333,475.89 in debt.
Early in 1899 - To solve the debt, President Snow make several measures to help solve the problem:
- The Church sold securities and bonds totaling more than $1 million.
- The Church stopped borrowing money.
- Church bookkeeping practices were fixed.
- The practice of tithing was reinforced.
May and June of 1899, 85 year old Lorenzo Snow, his 43 year old wife and many of the Church leaders took a trip through much of Utah. He speaks to more than 20 congregations throughout Southern Utah and has a consistent message of Tithing and Returning to Zion in Missouri. Including predicting that they would return to Zion within 20 years. Little or nothing is said about paying tithing to end the drought.
1902 - St. George drought finally ends. (Not remotely like it happened in the movie)
1934 - 1938 - Lorenzo Snow's son Le Roi writes the several articles emphasizing the myth of the tithing revelation, including the article "Out of Bondage" in the Improvement Era.
1950's - LDS Church is again in deep debt and needs to again promote tithing.
Wikipedia - Windows of Heaven
Mormon Historical Studies Article
BYU - Lorenzo Snow's Re-emphasis of Tithing
Pure Mormonism Article about Tithing
Rudger Clawson's 1899 Report
Journal of Mormon History (Starts at Page 45)
Church History Primary Lesson on Lorenzo Snow / Tithing
Mormon Stories - Tithing
Will Brooks’ reaction to the dramatic scene of revelation in the movie Windows of Heaven: “I must protest the whole thing—that is NOT how it was. President Snow was not weak and shaky . . . . Nor was there the great dramatic moment of the picture. He made a good talk, a strong talk. He did pause for a while at one point, but the audience saw nothing that could be interpreted as a revelation.” Juanita Brooks, Uncle Will Tells His Story (Salt Lake City: Taggart & Company Inc. 1970), 64.
Returning to Zion
At the conclusion of the trip, in a meeting of congregated church leaders, the prophet, as well as other speakers, spoke powerfully and in detail about the timeline and the mechanics of the return to Jackson County. Elder Anthony W Ivins recorded that President Snow taught, “Within ten, fifteen or 20 years, perhaps sooner, we are going to Jackson County.” Elder Francis M. Lyman echoed this prophecy in his own comments, supposing that President Snow himself would be alive for the return to Jackson County.