gold coinsThere’s an interesting post up today at By Common Consent analyzing one of the LDS Church’s most recent financial reports. The report makes clear how much money the Church brought in through tithing and other donations, and how much went out by way of building, salaries, church-run schools, and charitable work.

It’s a fascinating report. One issue, though, is that “recent” means 1947. The LDS Church ceased its practice of full disclosure in 1959.

For more than half a century, Mormon money has operated under a code of radio silence.

Every once in a while, a journalist or magazine conducts what research it can to estimate the ins and outs of Mormon finances. This month, Business Insider magazine ran a slideshow of images of LDS temples with the headline, “These magnificent temples point to how rich the Mormon Church is.”

It’s not exactly the last word in investigative journalism if a magazine merely has to showcase a few photos of expensive buildings and extrapolate that the Church is “rich.” But on the other hand, what else is a journalist supposed to do, in the absence of hard data in the United States? (In many other nations where the LDS Church has members, the Church is required by law to release certain financial figures, but in the US this is voluntary.)

What right, if any, do rank-and-file Mormons have to information about what happens with their tithing money?

This information used to be provided, right down to the dollar: how much was collected in tithing, how many people received Church welfare, what kind of fast offering was given each month. (About one in four Mormons gave fast offerings in 1947, for example.)

There is a healthy accountability in Mormon leaders standing up before the membership twice a year to go over the budget. Boring? Yes, certainly. But boring is kind of the idea. What better way to counter salacious news stories about “the Mormons’ billions” than by showing, line by line, where all our money is going?

In 2013, the news media capitalized on a report that with the purchase of an additional 400,000 acres of land, the LDS Church had become one of the largest — if not the largest — landowner in the State of Florida.

The land purchase is a fact, but because it’s not balanced by additional facts about the Church’s significant operating expenditures or philanthrophic work, it’s a fact that can be misleading by itself.

What better way to prove that the Church is not the for-profit business the media sometimes paints it as than by releasing its actual financial records?

What better way to counter accusations that tithing money is being used to fund shopping malls or wage legal fights against same-sex marriage than making those records public?

The full disclosure of the Mormon past was a healthy thing — not just for leaders and members inside the Church, but for observers on the outside who can easily be swayed into viewing Mormonism as a multi-billion-dollar business rather than a religious organization with a mission to help the world.

 

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126 Comments

  1. The Doctrine and Covenants requires that “voice and common consent” is required in all things and in particular expenditures from the treasury of the church. Voice and common consent cannot be meaningfully given unless it is at least minimally informed. Financial transparency is something that needs to be re-instated.

    Here is a Petition created two years ago that has steadily received signatures every month for the last two years from members around the world who have by their signatures expressed their “voice.”

    http://bycommonconsent.org

    • Ah yes, but whose “common consent”? The United Order? The Council on the Disposition of the Tithes?

      I can’t think of any time in the history of the church where tithing money was spent according to the common consent of the entire church, unless you count the current system where we sustain our church leaders and then they spend the money with that sustaining representing our consent.

      I also reject the premise that common consent requires additional information. Some people consent to do things simply because they think it is the right thing to do and not because they think it is a profitable investment. The only knowledge you really need is that you believe that God wants you to pay tithing.

      • Yes, God wants us to live the full law of tithing. The giving 10% we have down pat but how He commanded us to spend it we have rejected and in so doing we are under the same curse that Malachi spoke of, i.e., Malachi was addressing the priesthood who took the money and spent in amassing lands, buildings, and not take to the “storehouse” for the hireling, the widow. The priesthood was the ‘robbers” who robbed God. We imported only half of the law of tithing from the OT. We ignored the laws of tithing as to how it was to spent with most going to poor, the widow, the dispossessed and local use and only a fraction to the priesthood. we have it totally backwards.

        • Jack L Sickney

          Well said. When we choose to and pay a tithe; that is the end of it. We put our total faith and trust in the Lord’s servants (whom we sustain) for its disposition.

        • Malachi 3:9 makes it clear Malachi was referring to the “whole nation,” not just the priesthood leaders.

          Like I said earlier, the church leaders are the ones who will be accountable to God over how they spend tithing funds. We are not their judges and I don’t think we should be invited to act like we are their judges. The only thing that is relevant for us is whether we obey God in paying our tithing.

          • Sure, but depends on where the sermon began. Versification is what we do but at beginning he says “And now, you priests, this warning is for you” Malachi 2:1. They are the ones the decided as to how it was put to use–a curse if improperly used but blessing if take to storehouse for those Malachi identifies as being in need

          • And Malachi 1:1 says that it is the word of the Lord to Israel (i.e. God’s people).

            I admit that there may be different ways to interpret the verse. To me it seems pretty clear from Malachi 3:9 that the verse applies to the whole nation of Israel or all of God’s people.

            Either way, there is no spiritual benefit it criticizing or making demands of the leaders about this. If God wants to rebuke them, He will do it. If they are misspending God’s money, that is their sin.

            If you feel God wants you to spend more of your stewardship helping the poor, that is fine. But it is not our place to tell people whose stewardship is to spend the tithing funds what they should spend the money on. They have the scriptures and access to revelation just like any other member of the church. If they ignore the scriptures or revelation they have received it is their sin, not ours.

          • Free will…. Leave and go somewhere else.

            Lmao.

            If I hadnt seen this same discussion and thread a hundred times I would he tearing my hair out

            Okay. If anyone is enjoying the discussion, but wants to really explore it, it was done for 32 very deep, and very comprehensive pages over at the lds freedom forum.

            http://www.ldsfreedomforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=28207

            How much, who to, old testament rules, United order, surplus, who has means, 2%…its allllll there

            With all thanks on tithing discussions to Rock Waterman, and Aussieoi,

          • Debbie Snowcroft

            An offering is only truly “free” if it is given without coercion and without expectation of reward.

            In Mormonism tithing is neither; it is both coerced and is payment for something in return.

            This is obvious from the way the church requires tithing in order to get a temple recommend, and how they make a temple recommend a prerequisite for full social/cultural participation, including attendance at Mormon temple weddings, and permitting fathers to (as is customary and expected) ordain their sons (but not daughters) as they “advance” in the priesthood.

            Mormon culture functionally ostracizes and excludes non-tithe-payers by prohibiting them from participating in the very core of Mormon culture. Thus, the church uses culture and familial relationships as both a coercive tool and a reward — pay and be allowed to fully participate in family/culture, or don’t pay and be shunned.

          • Debbie,

            Tithing is a free-will offering because one gets to choose whether one pays it, or not. It is true that by making the choice not to pay tithing one also makes the choice to not go to the temple. In the end, however, it is still a choice. Juxtapose this with paying taxes. There is no choice, you must pay your taxes or the government will prosecute you and extract huge fines and penalties. This is coercion, as opposed to the Church which teaches that the payment of tithes, along with sustaining the prophet, accepting Jesus Christ as one’s Savior, living the law of chastity, and obeying the word of wisdom, are prerequisites to entering the temple, and are choices we can make, or not make. One is free to choose obedience to these requirements, or not. No one from the Church will come to your home and extract tithing payments, force moral purity, demand a strict diet, or force you to accept Jesus Christ as Savior, nor can they.

            It is your choice to pay tithes and offerings, or not. That you do not get to participate in the rest of the benefits of obedience and covenant making is not coercion, it is a choice you make when you choose not to pay your tithing.

            Let me give you another example. I work in Financial Aid, and we have male students who complain all the time that they should not have to register for Selective Service, but should still get the benefit of Federal Student Aid. The Department of Education determines the rules, and we enforce them. It is not coercion on the part of the school or the Department of Education that they have this requirement. It is simply a requirement that the student may choose to follow or not.

          • Raymond Takashi Swenson

            The state university where I teach as an adjunct instructor insists that students pay tuition to enroll in classes, and eventually earn a BA, MS or PhD. They “coerce” students into this regime? No, it is a totally voluntary transaction.

            I charge rent to the people living in my house in another state. If they want to have the privilege of using the house, they have to pay the rent I ask for, plus their own electric and natural gas bills. Are they being “coerced”?

            Jana Reiss writes books. She is happy to have you buy a book from her or a retailer, but she doesn’t want you to get the book without paying for it. Are you being “coerced” into paying for the book because you can’t legally get it without paying for it?

            If you go to see the Seattle Seahawks or another sports team play, you don’t get admitted without paying for tickets. If you don’t go, you will be unable to participate in certain important social rituals with family members and friends. Are you “coerced” into paying for the tickets?

    • Ron, you write: “The Doctrine and Covenants requires that ‘voice and common consent’ is required in all things and in particular expenditures from the treasury of the church.”

      The Doctrine and Covenants does not suggest that every jot and tittle of administering the affairs of the church requires specific common consent. For all intents and purposes, when we sustain the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve, and the Presiding Bishopric in General Conference, we sustain them in their stewardships by common consent, which includes their roles pertaining to the administering of the funds of the church.

      Furthermore, D&C NEVER states “and in particular expenditures from the treasury of the church.” I went to your link and read the scriptures that they cite. With regard to D&C 104:71 they very conveniently omit the portion of that verse which makes clear that it is specifically addressing an aspect of the United Order, which is the focus of the entire section. To take liberties with that passage while omitting a critical component of the passage was intellectually dishonest on the part of those seeking greater transparency.

      As for the petition, unless they have a way of tying a membership record number to a name, and verifying authenticity, anybody could sign it claiming to be a member of the church. And we all know that when it comes to blogs and polls which challenge the authority of the leadership of the church in virtually any facet, they contributing “voices” should generally be taken with a grain of salt.

  2. If I pitched you on a great business investment opportunity but you couldn’t see the company’s financials, you wouldn’t ever be told where your money went or how it was used, and you couldn’t find out even how much the CEO or any of the senior management is paid, would you invest? Of course not.

    I understand that donations to a church are not the same as an investment in a company, but its amazing to me that more people don’t demand some accountability from their church leaders. I have signed the petition at bycommonconsent.org and I urge others to do so as well.

    • Church leaders are and should only be accountable to God for how they spend tithing money. They shouldn’t have to worry about how their decisions will get interpreted by the members.

      People pay their tithing because it is a commandment and/or they believe God will bless them for it. They shouldn’t be paying tithing because they view the church as some sort of non-profit or investment. The Church is the kingdom of God on the earth. Don’t expect it to fit into the same mental box that we put businesses and non-profits in.

      • Debbie Snowcroft

        Dan the Mormon wrote:

        “People pay..[because]… they believe God will bless them for it.”
        “They shouldn’t be paying … as some sort of… investment.”

        Mormons are known for their cognitive dissonance, but this example from “Dan the Mormon” is breathtaking; back-to-back sentences that directly contradict each other.

        • cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs.

          I don’t believe Debbie knows anything about Dan’s mental stress or discomfort. I don’t have any and I don’t believe any of my beliefs are contradictory, either. I suspect Dan feels the same.

          Debbie may have mental stress and have discomfort over her inability to reconcile Mormon belief’s, but I don’t know of any Mormon’s that do. maybe Debbie has some statistics she can share with us.

          With regards to Porter’s comments, I do a lot of investing, have done quite well, and I have yet to read or understand a financial statement. I also donate to various organizations for various reasons. Porter is right about one thing, I would not invest in anything he pitches.

          With regards to accountability, if we don’t trust our leaders until we see a financial statement, then how do we trust a financial statement? We hear from the auditors twice a year and we see the fruits of our contributions. I think most if not all members are satisfied with that.

          • I don’t believe people want to see the audit. Other than a few low level leaders I doubt there is financial mispropriety. This is not to say members should be denied the blessing of seeing where their valuable sacrifices are spent in the lords Kingdom,, and feeling good about that.
            The seventh day Adventists disclose their spending and I feel exhilarated at the good being done in the lords Kingdom, and equally sad knowing enough to know that we aren’t doing likewise.

            I’ve never heard any negative blow back on the Sevvies for all their hospitals and humanitarian spending…. Leaves us embarrassed a long way back. With less money, they give more each year than the humanitarian spend we made between 1985 and 2018 combined!

            Light under a bushels anyone?

        • If we define “investment” broadly enough to include all blessings from God then I suppose your comment makes sense. I was defining “investment” much more narrowly and in the same sense Porter was presenting it: as merely a financial transaction.

          A financial disclosure that reported on all of God’s blessings would require some pretty outstanding accountants to produce it!

          • Dan,
            when I was on the panel at Sunstone on church financials/disclosure I learned that now there is only two churches that do not have annual financial disclosures—us and the Church of Scientology. Not really good company.

            But to the larger point about paying and then how it is spent not your stewardship that is not really true and an abdication of responsibility as I see it.

            Jesus came to establish his Kingdom on Earth. It is established by creating equality—unless you are equal in all things both temporally and spiritually we are not His or part of His Kingdom.

            To simply pay and gain your personal salvation in the next life is not establishing zion. To establish it means we actively pursue it here and now. that means seeing the warnings in the BOM such as Mormon 8:35-39 and seeing to it that us gentile repent of our disproportionate buildings of babylon vis a vis direct succoring the least/poor etc.

            You and all of us have a duty to scrutinize such things and dissent if necessary. I believe returning to full disclosure is a very necessary first step towards our gentile church in the repentance process.

          • Where are you getting this idea that we have the duty to scrutinize how other people fulfill the responsibilities God has given them? “Common consent” does not imply scrutinizing how other people fulfill their callings to me. I establish Zion by more than paying tithing, but I don’t think criticizing how other people are fulfilling their callings and stewardship helps establish Zion at all.

            It is true that we should worry about the poor and not become vain and prideful as we are warned in Mormon 8:35-39. I do that by volunteering, donating to charity, and serving. I don’t think making the church disclose how it spends its money will help the poor at all or make us more humble. Rather it will just invite people to criticize how other people are fulfilling their callings and talk about how they would do it differently if they were on the council of the disposition of the tithes.

            Zion is described as a people who are unified, with “one heart” and “one mind” (Moses 7:18). Dissension and policies that encourage it do not lead to Zion.

      • Brandon the Mormon

        Dan Dan the Mormon man… Have you ever allowed your self to be critical of anything related to your faith? Have you ever lived outside of Provo? I love you brother Dan.

        • I grew up in the mid-west, far away from Utah. I also did grad school out east.

          If by “critical” you mean open to studying and trying to find out the truth for myself, then yes. If you mean “critical” to mean disagree and proselytize against church policies, then no. My opinion is that if I don’t agree with the doctrine of the church I’m in the wrong church. I generally don’t have a problem reconciling what I believe to be true with what the Church teaches.

          • It must be hard knowing where you stand, with the church changing its ‘doctrine’ all the time.

            ‘I don’t believe that we ever taught that’

      • The kingdom of God is a heavenly government of which Christ Jesus is the King which will rule over meek mankind on earth (Matthew 5:5). As Matthew 4:17 brings out:

        “From that time on Jesus commenced preaching saying: “Repent, you people, for the kingdom of the HEAVENS has drawn near.”

        What is so exciting is that we are living in the last days of an era, which were described as critical times hard to deal with (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 17).

        That heavenly government will soon put an end to all human governments (Daniel 2:44), put an end to all wicked ones (Psalm 37:10,11); and put an end to all sickness, disease, old age and even death (Revelation 21:1-4).

        That government will also rule with righteousness, love and justice (Isaiah 11:1-9) and bring imperfect and sinful mankind back to perfection through the ransom sacrifice of God’s son, Jesus (John 3:16), during his reign.

        Also, as Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead when Jesus was on earth, that was only a small preview of what God’s kingdom would do on a much larger scale: Resurrection of the dead now sleeping in death (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10) back to life on a cleansed earth, to be reunited with family and friends!! (John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15).

        Meek mankind will be blessed with everlasting life on a paradise earth with complete brotherhood and love of all races and cultures of man, and even peace among the animals.

        As to material riches today, even the Bible tells us that when God’s day of judgment finally comes on this wicked world we now live in:

        “They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will become abhorrent to them. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them in the day of God’s fury….” (Ezekiel 7:19).

        It is therefore necessary that true Christians now put all their faith and trust in God and his Kingdom to receive his favor and protection on that “day of judgment.”

  3. If it really were a matter of disclosure, and the church would shine brightly as an example of humanitarian benefactor, well, the church would have opened its books years ago.
    The reason it won’t disclose is because it can’t disclose. The minute unhallowed eyes peer over the church’s ledgers, it will be clear that the church functions as a money making corporation, and that all philanthropy comes out of the PR budget.

  4. There is only one reason non-profits don’t publish financials: They know that shedding light on what is in them would do them more harm than the skepticism that comes from keeping the ledgers sealed.

    My guess: Sweetheart contract deals, gifts to “unpaid” apostles and their families, and who knows what else.

    • The Church is not just any non-profit. It is the kingdom of God of the earth. People pay tithing less to fund the church and more because God commands it and/or they believe they will be blessed for it. If the church leaders are abusing tithing funds that will be their problem at the judgement day, but I will still pay my tithing because it is what God wants me to do.

      • Dan, I’m pretty sure God wants you to use your brain and not simply follow what other fallible men tell you to do because they claim divine authority.

        • I do use my brain. It’s a simple calculation. I believe that God wants me to pay tithing and will bless me for it (either in this life or the next). So I pay my tithing because it is worth it, not because of how someone down the line eventually will spend the dollars that used to be part of my stewardship.

          I’m not doing because of what church leaders are doing. I do it because I actually believe God wants me to pay tithing.

          • Debbie Snowcroft

            Dan the Mormon wrote:

            “I believe that God wants me to pay tithing and will bless me for it …”

            And people wonder why confidence scams are so common in Utah.

    • Yes! That is the very reason we hear so many stories about apostles and general authorities beign caught with Swiss bank accounts, outlandish mansions in exotic places and lives of complete excess and financial intrigue.

      • D&C 119:2 states what tithing is to be used for:

        1. Building temples
        2. Laying the foundation of Zion.
        3. Laying the foundation for the priesthood. Maybe things like missionary work…?
        4. Paying off the debts of the church presidency. The church isn’t currently in debt

        There is nothing there about building retail outlets or malls or 37 story condos, or city beautification, or ranches, or hunting preserves, or $900,000 bomb proof Audi A4s

        • trytoseeitmyway

          No? Falls under #2. Building Zion involves a lot of work and a lot of activities, some of which is direct (building temples and meeting houses, funding missions, humanitarian aid, member welfare) and some indirect (administrative offices and infrastructure, travel, personnel, security*, civic environment).

          Always amazing to me when people express outrage over church acquisition of land and construction projects. There is no point or even justification to the outrage – they just think that there must be something inherently disreputable about owning things or earning income. I have never heard anyone articulate a serious reason for concern over those things. They just like to hear themselves hyperventilate, on account of it is so much fun I guess.

          * I never heard about the $900K Audi but I assume there are one or more hardened vehicles for senior officials. Go complain about Obama’s security arrangements too, while you’re at it. Sheesh.

          • Comments like this remind me why I left the church to find christ.

            You just described a corporation

    • Dana Robertson

      Safe in Mormonize means with holding anything that could possibly be considered negative to the LDS church. Just telling the truth is considered “Anti-Mormon” There is a long established history of the LDS church lying for the good of the members. It is commonly known as “Lying for the Lord.” Mormons call it “Milk before Meat” which in many cases the “meat” is never served. Members of the LDS church have been excommunicated by the church for the great sin of telling the truth without the usual spin doctoring.

      • “safe for tbms” to get them to read and consider without feeling threatened

        Unsafe for HQ, as most who joined in the thread ended up paying on surplus or to other actual charities after reading it all

  5. It’s a situation where the Church is darned if it does and darned if it doesn’t. Right now critics are banging their drums that the Church and other churches should pay taxes. If the Church were to give full disclosures of their finances the critics would then pile on all the more.

    My opinion is that the government does enough in meddling in people’s privacy. Why do they need to be more in our business? What the critics won’t acknowledge though is the good that the Church does. When a family because of a job loss can’t pay the rent; have enough food to put on the table; or get poor people through a trade school in a third world country, the Church is always there.

      • Yeah right. That’s clearly anti Christian in every sense and something the lds church would never allow to be taught.
        Now you’ll probably try and tell us you read that in Ensign

      • Usually what I hear are testimonies of people who were blessed by God when they chose to pay their tithing. I’ve never heard people say it in an imperative tense “pay your tithing before you feed your family.” It’s always in a testimony or story “I paid my tithing before I fed my family and God blessed me.”

        Those experiences resonate with me as well. There have been several times when I paid my tithing when I was financially struggling only to have some unexpected financial blessing happen to me.

        • Never heard it taught in an imperative tense before?

          Well Dan, you ask, and I deliver.

          December 2012 issue of The Ensign magazine:

          “If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing.” (Aaron L. West, Sacred Transformations, December 2012)

          I am sure you agree that it doesn’t sound any more imperative than that.

          At Christmas time too, no less

        • Brandon the Mormon

          Ya know what… I’ve paid tithing when it hurt a lot. Still trying to recognize the blessings I received. What a blessing it would be to know that my sacrifice was being put to use in a better way than for paying my utility bills.

    • Debbie Snowcroft

      TheWesternWhitehouse wrote: “What the critics won’t acknowledge though is the good that the Church does.”

      You have no idea what “good” the church does because they refuse to release their financial records.

      Indeed, this seems to be the church’s strategy. They refuse to make any kind of verifiable financial accounting, opting instead to simply count on the faithful members to make up stories and spread fabricated anecdotes around.

      It doesn’t answer any questions for the skeptical, but the skeptical aren’t candidates for membership anyway. And it completely mollifies the faithful/obedient members and keeps the money rolling in.

      • You can see the good an organization does without knowing how much money they spent doing it.

        That said, even if church leaders weren’t doing anything with the tithing funds and just burning the money it would be worth it to pay tithing. Tithing is about a person’s relationship with God, not funding social programs.

        • This comment Dan is really profoundly selfish when you consider the poor in zion such as the 120,000 lds children currently suffering from malnutrition—see Liahona Foundation. It is not just about your getting into heaven and salvation. It is about establishing zion here and now

          • We should give to the poor and needy. I do. The church does. To me that has nothing to do with tithing.

            If you care about malnourished children, donate to something that helps malnourished children. You can do that and pay your tithing. They are not mutually exclusive.

          • Where have I heard that before? Was it… “kill them all, God will know his own”

            Dan the Mormon, I can’t help but feel that one day, perhaps when more knowledge amdninformation is in your hands, you will look back at your statement there and wonder what was going on in your life at the time

        • Debbie Snowcroft

          Dan the Mormon wrote: “We should give to the poor and needy. I do. The church does. To me that has nothing to do with tithing.”

          Jesus said to give *all* your money to the poor (Matthew 19:21). Jesus never said to give any money to your church (and, no, Joseph Smith’s false scriptures don’t reflect what Jesus said).

          If you did what Jesus commanded you would be poor and you would have no money to give to your wealthy church. And if your church was Jesus’ church, it wouldn’t keep the money, or use it to build shopping malls and buy cattle ranches — it would give all the money to the poor, too.

          Wealthy churches that buy cattle ranches and build shopping malls are the anti-Christ spoken of in the Bible — they claim to follow Jesus but make a mockery of Christ by using his name, but denying his doctrines.

          • Dana Robertson

            I for one, have never read a verse in the Bible where Jesus said to “go forth and build shopping malls and condos unto me”.

        • Brandon the Mormon

          If it’s not about finding social programs why does god want my money? So that it’s harder to buy groceries for myself? If you were god… What would be your reason for tithing your creatiins whom you allegedly love so infinitely?

    • trytoseeitmyway

      Right. I really think that’s the point. These folks – Jana too, sadly – don’t want information so much as they want ammunition.

      Maybe that seems unfair to disclosure advocates, but you have to wonder where do they think this goes? First, you publish financials and someone says, wait, I want more detail. Why don’t you include the financial detail of every ward and every stake and every area and every mission and every other unit or function or activity.

      At the same time, people start poring over them to say, well, why aren’t you spending more on welfare. How come you spent this much on temples and only this much on humanitarian aid. It would not matter one bit what the numbers were, because all the Sunstoners (hey, I just made that up but it’s a good one, no?) would complain that there was inadequate expenditure for humanitarian relief no matter what the amounts or ratios were. Because, you know, complainers just like to complain, and Sunstoners are all about wealth redistribution in their politics, not so? (Prove me wrong: Next Sunstone conference, survey attendees’ political party affiliation and show me how close the breakdown is to the affiliation percentages for U.S. church membership generally. Think of that as an exercise in full disclosure.) To these people, their religion is just an extension of their politics. We see this over and over.

      So tell me the POINT of the demanded disclosures if not merely to fuel critiical commentary.

      • That is precisely what the Church of Scientology says when they, the only other large religion in the USA, refuses to publish their finances.

        Other large religions such as the Seventh Day Adventist publish their finances for their adherents and they take understandable joy in seeing how charitable they are.

        As J. Rueben Clark famously said “If we have the truth it cannot be harmed, and if we don’t then it should be.” I would change that to “If we have nothing to hide then we need not fear, but if we do then it should be exposed.”

        • trytoseeitmyway

          Oh OK. The Church of Scientology is disreputable so my argument can’t be any good, is that it? The truth doesn’t hurt but it can often be annoying and burdensome to disclose details unnecessarily.

          Here I know: send me your tax returns and a complete list of your expenditures over the last five years. No? Why not? Oh, wait, NOW you’re going to start talking about privacy?

          • Let me help you out.

            Logical Fallacy 101 says do not use “faulty analogies/comparisons.”

            You are asking me to disclose my tax returns and comparing that to our Church?

            I do not take in several billion dollars in donations. I have not taken one cent from anyone. I have no fiduciary duty to you and anyone else. I do not tell you or anyone else that your eternal salvation, family dealings and life eternal is contingent on you paying me 10%.

            When and if I am entrusted with funds (and I have been in my profession) then I have a legal, ethical and even practical duty to account for their use. That applies particularly to our church which doctrinally has a duty that “all things are to be governed by voice and common consent” and financial disclosures was the normative and healthy practice for generations.

            To attack the messenger and not the substance of the arguments is typical of sycophants rather then loyal members of any institution whether religious or secular

          • trytoseeitmyway

            “Logical Fallacy 101 says do not use ‘faulty analogies/comparisons.’”

            *snicker* Are you sure that’s what you wanted to write? Who gets to decide what’s “faulty?” You, I suppose.

            You made a silly argument based on a quotation from J. Reuben Clark to the effect that no one with nothing to hide should ever be concerned about disclosure. I pointed out that you don’t really believe that, since you would yourself object to complete disclosure if it were asked of you in the absence of some compelling reason. It is called “the right of privacy.” There is nothing “faulty” other than your own silly claim. So then you shift to a sort of legal argument in which there is an implied duty to account for donated funds … a duty that doesn’t actually exist. The law in some cases imposes disclosure requirements and in other cases does not, and the Church meets all of their legal obligations. The ethics of it have to do with what is understood by the donor and the donee at the time of the donation, and there again the Church acts in accordance with the mutual understanding of members applicable to tithes.

            I hope that is helpful to you. I think that the policy of the Church is wise for the reasons I already expressed.

          • Appeal to faith logical fallacies, circular fallacies, etc

            You really are in deep aren’t you.

            Good luck when you decide you don’t have to be afraid, and spend a few hours on mormonthink website, or reading the contents summarised nicely in the ‘CES letter”. Or even more disturbing the FAIR website.

            But I understand you, I was there not too long ago.

            To think, this conversation hasn’t even got onto how tithing in the Early lds church used to be on Surplus income

      • Jana Riess

        Sorry, trytoseeitmyway, but you are not speaking for me here at all. I’m not after “ammunition” to criticize the way the Church spends its money. In fact, my motivation would be the opposite; I think the Church could protect itself from a lot of needless and harmful speculation if it laid bare its finances the way it used to. On this blog I have had commenters say that apostles make hundreds of thousands a year; that the Church buys fancy houses for mission presidents; that it has spent up to 2 billion dollars on a shopping mall. Of those three assertions, only the last is factually true, and it’s painful to see the Church and its leaders dragged through the mud on this issue. If I am after “ammunition,” as you claim, then it’s to show another side of the story.

        • Um mm, you don’t want to know how much mission presidents are provided and subsidised and reimbursed by the church. Do not go there.

          And you don’t want to scratch deep in apostles properties, ski lodges, use of the huntsman jet to do family vacations in Hawaii, the boards they sit on and the payment via deseret and those book deals (where they sell their wisdom for money)

          The only person who refuses to ‘partake’ is Eyeing, who finds it all repulsive.

          How do I know? Best friend is a child of one of these guys

          It equates to around $600k a year in payment.

          But their lives really are 100% full time church. I wouldn’t want it.

          Now the credit card with no limit or restrictions… That I would like. If course, you need to be careful what you put on it

        • trytoseeitmyway

          Thank you, Jana, for correcting me regarding your interest in this subject. My own sense is that the Brethren know what they’re doing and don’t need our advice, but I appreciate that you have a different view. I would be less inclined to see you as a critic if you spent less of your comments in criticism, but maybe that’s just me.

  6. Boring topic. The church is audited at so many levels that I dont need to audit them. Whats being complained about can only be the lack of publishing them publicly not impropriety.

    If you dont have faith in the legal administrators of the lords church then dont donate to its cause. The downside to that though will be a loss of blessings on your part so I would seek to discourage anyone from not donating.

    • Hi Ron. Just so that we are not confusing doctrine with philosophies of men, can you show me some scriptures which show we will be blessed by paying tithing.
      Thank you
      B0yd

      • Malachi 3:10 King James Version (KJV)

        10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

        • I’m always fascinated how people base such a financially important decision on such little research.
          All one needs to do is read Malachi 1&2…..where one very soon pick up that God is not talking to the people/ members, but the leaders of the church, who, surprise surprise, were not spending it the way they were meant to, and the leader so we’re hording the money and not giving it to the people

          If one would only just read those 2 chapters.

          So no. Try again

          • Malachi expands who he is talking to to “the whole nation” in verse 9 of chapter 3. Malachi 3:10 applies to everyone.

            That said, the church leaders will be held accountable before God with how they spend tithing funds. In the eternal sense, God’s judgement is what’s important, not individual members’ judgement. God may want them to spend the money on something that is unpopular.

          • Bingo! As did all the prophets in the OT condemn not the poor and tithe payers but rather the priesthood for grinding face of poor. Jeremiah understood the temple cult and that money was required to enter while the poor were ignored. Jesus following that tradition did not come and condemn non tithe payers but the priesthood that set up financial requirements to enter His house.

          • Dana Robertson

            Let me point out that in the Old Testament when tithing is being talked about, it is only referring to the harvest of the crops.

            Excellent breakdown of it here:
            http://tithinginfo.com/

    • Last year the church added a disclaimer to the tithing slips.
      At the bottom in small letters it says that even though we may donate to a specific cause… fast offerings or missionary fund, etc. the church reserves the right to use offerings at its own discretion.
      Every time the leaders say that no tithing funds were used for something, I have to wonder. Essentially, when one looks at where that money comes from, it all goes back to tithing eventually… it may have been invested first, but that money will always originally have been generated from tithing funds.
      These are some of the reasons faithful members want disclosure.

  7. As Westernwhitehouse said, the publication of detailed financial information would probably lead to at least as much criticism as not publishing financial information does given the nature of many critics. Further, as ron said, the church carefully audits at all levels. As a former Bishop I remember the detail of the semi-annual audits. I appreciated them because they helped us be careful with all monies and correct any problems. Finally, there are lawful and good reasons to keep individuals financial information private.

    However, I would like to see more disclosure and transparency, but it is not a major issue to me. I have seen enough of how carefully funds are spent and accounted for that I have a high level of confidence that monies are being used wisely in the Church.

    • I don’t know if you fully understand these “audits” you write of.
      Let me put your comment in proper context.
      You are talking of Bernie Madoff_ self auditing_his business, and then twice a year he then audits his business managers.
      The audit simply checks that no one is robbing THEM, not on how the money is spent.

      • Our ward (congregation) financial audits were Not done by myself as Bishop, the Ward Clerks, or even members of our ward. They were done auditor appointed by the Stake (archdioceses) from outside the ward with financial background, usually CPA’s and sometimes professional auditors. They were rigorous and based on a changing series of questions designed to make sure that we were following careful practices and spending all funds properly. In 5 years (10 audits), we only had 1 clean audit, because auditors, by nature of their assignment, are trying to find errors. The error found in each audit were minor, and practices were changed to make sure they did Not continue to happen. The counting of donations was done by 2 approved individuals cross checking each other. All checks for expenses were signed by two approved individuals with the written approval of the Bishop after examining and attaching the bills being paid.

        I believe with a little research you will find the general Church has an independent auditing branch of professionally qualified auditors. Of course if you believe the First Presidency and the Council on the Disposition of Tithing have the same financial and moral values as Bernie Madoff you have every reason to be concerned. I have no problem sustaining the First Presidency and other General Authorities.

        • “I believe with a little research you will find the general Church has an independent auditing branch of professionally qualified auditors. Of course if you believe the First Presidency and the Council on the Disposition of Tithing have the same financial and moral values as Bernie Madoff you have every reason to be concerned.”

          Well the First Presidency and the Council on the Disposition of Tithing and Bernie Madoff use the same form of transparent auditing (self-regulation) So such concerns are not unreasonable.

        • Good grief. When my family and I left the church in December, I was HP teacher, Gospel Essentials teacher, and auditor of the stake and 3x wards. I am not an accountant but do work for the equivalent of Ensign Peak. These audits are nothing more than to ensure bishoprics and auxiliary leaders aren’t robbing the church, nothing more. I

    • Debbie Snowcroft

      Wayne Dequer wrote: “As a former Bishop I remember the detail of the semi-annual audits.”

      That was them auditing you. Not them being audited. Naturally, a money-oriented corporation is going to audit the underlings who run the various parts of the empire.

      Wayne Dequer wrote: “….nature of many critics.”

      Mormons need to “man up” and own their policies, and stop trying to blame them on critics.

      • Debbie,
        Thank you for your comments which, along with BOyd’s comment, gives credence to my statement: “publication of detailed financial information would probably lead to at least as much criticism as not publishing financial information does given the nature of many critics.” ;-)

    • In the 1960’s when the Church became really wealthy it stopped providing reports of tithing monies and expenditure

      So to test the defence you present that the church would also be criticised if they released the numbers, we can look to see if the 7th day Adventists get criticised when they release that information each year?

      This is from the 7th Day Adventist Annual Finances Report, and is an embarrassment to our church which takes in between USD $4 to $6b a year in tithes alone

      Seventh-day Adventist World Church Statistics
      Summary of Statistics as of December 31, 2010
      (Except Where Indicated as June 30, 2011)
      Churches, Companies, Membership
      Churches 70,188
      June 30, 2011 71,048
      Companies 65,157
      June 30, 2011 65,553
      Church Membership 16,923,239
      June 30, 2011 17,214,683
      Total Accessions 1,050,785
      Baptisms 1,023,882
      Professions of Faith 26,903
      Ordained Ministers, Active 17,272
      Total Active Employees 220,760

      Mission to the World
      Countries and Areas of the World as Recognized by the United Nations 232
      Countries and Areas of the World in Which Seventh-day Adventist Work is Established 209
      Languages Used in Seventh-day Adventist Publications and Oral Work 921
      Divisions 13
      Union Conferences 51
      Union Missions 55
      Union of Churches Conferences 9
      Union of Churches Missions 4
      Local Conferences 321
      Local Missions 264

      Educational Program
      Total Schools 7,806
      Tertiary Institutions 111
      Worker Training Institutions 59 Secondary Schools 1,823
      Primary Schools 5,813
      Total Enrollment 1,668,754
      Tertiary Institutions 131,516
      Worker Training Institutions 8,862
      Secondary Schools 494,324
      Primary Schools 1,034,052

      Food Industries 20

      Healthcare Ministry
      Hospitals and Sanitariums 173
      Nursing Homes and Retirement Centers 132
      Clinics and Dispensaries (incomplete report) 216
      Orphanages and Children’s Homes 36
      Airplanes and Medical Launches 10
      Outpatient Visits 15,705,827

      Media Centers 14

      Publishing Work
      Publishing Houses and Branches 63
      Literature Evangelists, Credentialed and Licensed 6,994
      Languages Used in Publications 377

      Sabbath Schools
      Sabbath Schools 140,694
      Sabbath School Membership 19,368,905

      Contributions In US Dollars
      Tithe $2,037,618,294
      Tithe Per Capita $127.20
      Sabbath School Mission Offerings $61,362,489
      Ingathering $11,067,178
      Total Tithe and Offerings $2,900,945,610
      Total Tithe and Offerings Per Capita $181.09

      Adventist Development and Relief Agency International (ADRA)
      Countries and Areas of the World Where ADRA is Involved* 131
      Total Projects Funded* 1,897 Development* 1,043
      Relief* 854
      Beneficiaries of Projects* 40,740,106
      Total Value of Aid* $281,435,008
      (*Supporting and Implementing)

      Prepared by the
      Office of Archives, Statistics, and Research
      General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists
      Updated January 4, 2012

      As an LDS, how can we not be ashamed to see the (possible) fruits of tithing when we see something like this?

      Imagine how positive our missionary efforts would be if we as a church were recognised for our service to our fellow man?

      How is this not robbing god?

      900 children die each year in Ecuador from malnutrition and worms. Lds children this is.

      And we have super malls.

      Sickened

  8. One of the interesting things about faith is that there is always someone who wants to whittle away at it by some illusion of logic.

    I don’t pay my tithing because I approve or disapprove of where the church spends the money – PERIOD! I pay my tithing because the Lord asks me to and I recognize the church as the Lord’s designated recipient of those tithes. What the money is spent on is between the leaders and the Lord.

    It’s God’s money anyway – ALL OF IT, not just the 10% that He tests me with. Anyone who can point to a single dollar or possession and claim that they have it completely devoid of God’s blessing is in denial. It’s ALL God’s, He just lets us use it.

    • People kept saying that phrase “it is the Lord’s money.” Well, when does it become the Lord’s money? He tells us in Matthew 25. When we give it to the poor, the widow, the hungry, the cold, the least then we have done it unto Him. When it reaches their hands and their needs it is the Lords. Until then just giving it to a corporate sole, i.e., the Corporation of the President of the Church, who in turns gives it to layers of for profit entities (malls, Deseret Book, etc. etc.) who in turns gives it to Ensign Peak who in turn had tens millions advertising our greatness or billions in temple chandeliers, etc, —well it is still not the Lords. It is his when we take that .7 of one percent and give it to the least. THAT part is the Lords. Everything else is just a pretense

      • A better question, Ron, would be “when did it become YOUR money?” All blessings, including your money, and even the ability to earn such money. come from God’s blessings. Whether he chooses to bestow those blessings overtly or covertly does not change their source – in other words, just because you can’t see His hand in blessing you, does not mean it isn’t there.

        Humility and gratitude to God are traits that all Christians should aspire to – it’s NOT just a Mormon thing. Nonetheless, there are some who will draw close to Him with their lips, but not their hearts. To insist that you, solely of yourself. have fairly acquired anything without Him is to deny your dependence on Him for your very breath – not a good position to be taking.

        At the end of the day, we owe everything to His grace.

        • Nephi,
          I agree it is not “my” money. We really own nothing. One of my favorites sermons in the BOM is King Benjamin’s address. It is not ours, and never will be. I love the BOM, and believe in most of the D&C (some parts like DC 132 never canonized but that is another topic), and it informs me that we have left the reservation in a number of areas but heck, in what we are doing now is vindication of the prophetic voice of the BOM–see Mormon 8: 35-39

    • Debbie Snowcroft

      Joseph Smith said you’re supposed to give the money to the LDS Church.

      Jesus said to give the money to the poor:

      Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” [Matthew 19:21]

      By demanding that the money be given to them, the LDS Church demonstrates that they are not the true church of Christ.

    • Brandon the Mormon

      Pretty sure most money belongs to banks and the federal reserve. What use does god have for money? He is omnipotent. All powerful. On the other hand money is an illusion and only holds power because we all agreed to use it in place of bartering. One of the interesting things about faith is that it gets in the way of seeing that we shouldn’t have to buy our favor with Lord. Our time and efforts should be tithed not our money. Our church has more than enough. E.g. billions of dollars.

  9. There is still quite detailed disclosure in various countries that mandate it by law. Here for example is a recent UK disclosure:

    http://apps.charitycommission.gov.uk/Accounts/Ends51%5C0000242451_ac_20111231_e_c.pdf

    Basically over 90% of the church’s incoming funds are consumed on things like building projects, salary and support, and materials for worship. Fast offering funds and other traditionally charitable activities are about 9% of the operating budget. This pattern is pretty consistent over time and across the countries where disclosure is required.

  10. People don’t pay tithing because of how the money gets spent. They pay it because they believe it is a commandment and/or God will bless them for it. Knowing that X% supports universities, X% is for building construction, etc. shouldn’t make a difference to the people actually paying their tithing.

    The Church is probably hesitant to publish the financial records because people will take whatever info they can about the church and spin it as negatively as possible. It invites everyone who disagrees with how the money is being spent to criticize church leaders and encourages the perspective that tithing is like an investment instead of a divine commandment.

    The Church leaders are only accountable to God when it comes to how they spend tithing money. If they use tithing funds poorly, its on them in the eternal sense.

    • Dana Robertson

      How would you being able to see how that money is spent take away the blessing? And most people can think for themselves. If a critic is being unfair, people will see right through it.

      • Seeing how the money is spent would not effect me in any way. However, it would be an open invitation to anyone who disagreed with the council on the disposition of the tithes to criticize the church and talk about how they could do it better.

        So in other words, there is no benefit for faithful members in seeing a financial disclosure and there is a large potential cost for church PR and the media conversation about the church.

        Oh, and I don’t have enough faith in humanity to believe that if a critic is being unfair people will be able to see through it, simply because most people won’t actually do any research for themselves and will just trust whatever they hear/read until they are presented with contradictory information. Unless people are really interested in a topic and have free time, they tend to not search out information on topics.

  11. Disclosure of financials in a standardized form is good for credibility both within the organization and from the outside. There really aren’t too many sane arguments against it.

    It seems to come down to:
    “God says its nobody’s business” and “they will criticize us anyway”

    As for the first one, it is obvious that it doesn’t even wash with many members of the Church. Corporate behavior of the last 20 years has taught us that self-regulation doesn’t work. It is an open invitation to abuse. Transparency is always a sane policy if one wants to ensure money is used in an honest fashion. Most people would not be not satisfied with the idea that the church is above all questions and inquiries. It does not inspire trust. It certainly does not help when one is trying to inspire others to join.

    As for the second one, people will criticize. But why give people something legitimate to criticize the church for? It is much easier to respond and to make good faith claims when you can clearly respond in a credible objective matter.

    • What about the idea that releasing financial disclosures encourages the view that tithing is just like any other financial contribution to a non-profit and not a commandment of God?

      What the church leaders do with tithing is their problem, whether they spend it wisely or abuse it. Whether or not I obey God’s commandments is my problem, whether I pay my tithing or not.

      • It IS a contribution to a non-profit organization. Whether you want to consider it commanded by God or not doesn’t change that fact.

        Your reasoning doesn’t sound very plausible. Attitudes and actions of church leaders contribute to feelings that tithes are something more mundane than following directives from heaven. Buying commercial property/ventures and spending money on political lobbying does not give a favorable impression of money being spent for furthering God’s will. That is unless there is some measure of trust created on behalf of those handling the funds.

        Just because you don’t feel the need to question where and how the money is used doesn’t mean such ideas are unreasonable or inappropriate. You do your church no favors with such blindly deferential attitudes towards significant obligations of its members.

        • My attitude is not blind to what really matters and I don’t believe that the church needs me to do it favors.

          Legally, tithing is a financial contribution. But spiritually paying tithing is fulfilling a commandment from God. A financial disclosure is perfectly appropriate if you view the Church as just another non-profit organization. A financial disclosure makes no sense if you believe that the church is the kingdom of God and that your payment of tithing is about your personal relationship with God.

          Why would you need to trust church leaders at all if you believe paying tithing is fulfilling a commandment from God? Even if they were spending it all gambling in Vegas that would have nothing to do with me or my eternal salvation.

          • Again, you are projecting your opinions on everyone in general. Just because you have no such questions, it does not mean it is inappropriate for others to have them. There is an an almost sociopathic lack of empathy and understanding of other people in your response. If its good enough for you, everyone else should be OK with it too.

            No matter how hard you believe and are faithful to the church, it still IS a non-profit organization. One which exerts a greater level of influence on people than most.

            “Why would you need to trust church leaders at all if you believe paying tithing is fulfilling a commandment from God?”

            Because God doesn’t endorse the checks. :)

  12. I understand where Dan is coming from where he asserts that the test is to pay and then what is done with the money is not yours/mine/our stewardship. I could not disagree more. We have a duty as members of a faith community to add our “voice” and at time withhold our “common consent” when their are growing evidence of abuses.

    To use an analogy during the Viet Nam era (yes I am that old) the saying was from our church that we have a duty to serve and if the war/endeavor is unjust then the sin is on the head of those leaders and we are absolved for having done our duty. Nonsense. That is the same reasoning used by Popes during the crusades that required christians to serve their sovereign nation and they issued a “sin indulgence” as to those that served even if the endeavor was later considered evil.

    This is cultic behavior and not a healthy church aspiring to be a kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is governed by intelligences giving “voice and common consent’ and checks and balances. To place one’s trust in leaders without intelligent and loyal dissent if necessary is beyond cultic —it is unwise and leads to the very abuses warned of in DC 121.

    We should take note of the taking away of financial disclosures that occurred. We should be concerned and dissent if necessary if we see more spent on babylon type investments rather than direct humanitarian relief. It is a greater loyalty to our faith community and church to dissent at such times

    • You are introducing a form of church governance based on a particular interpretation of a small selection of verses in the D&C rather than the pattern found throughout the entirety of the standard works. Name one scriptural example in which such dissent from church leadership helped the spiritual welfare of the person dissenting. I could name several examples where it did not. The pattern throughout all the standard works is that those who follow the lead of God’s prophet and apostles prosper spiritually while those who criticize or attempt to correct them run into spiritual trouble.

      If you believe that the church leadership is apostate like the Catholic church was at the time of the crusades, then you are in the wrong church.

      We do not have the responsibility or obligation to criticize or critique the performance of church leaders. Withholding your common consent occurs when you choose whether or not to sustain the leader. We are not the church leaders’ orthodoxy police.

      • Name one?
        Name plenty. Let’s start with dissent as to the blanket error of denying entire race the priesthood? Many dissents were given in my time, including Lester Bush’s article in Dialogue that Pres. Kimball was humble enough to actually read and make copies for leaders and essentially tell them we have led the church astray on this issue and we may need to reconsider/repent.

        Then take the war issues. Helmuth Hubener dissented from church leaders and was excommunicated only to be made a saint years later and reinstated long after his execution. Time vindicated that prophet with a small “p”

        Take personal dissent such as my ggggrandfather dissenting from participation in Mountain Meadow Massacre and being one of three witnesses in first trail against JD Lee. Sure he was considered apostate and evil and marginalized but time vindicated his decision.

        So move the lens back further and consider that what appears to apostasy/heresy today may be vindicated in time. think about every prophet in OT and many in BOM–Abinadi, Samuel Lamanite

        • I asked for scriptural examples. I’m not interested in other people’s interpretation of history.

          Abinadi and Samuel the Lamanite were prophets who were called of God who criticized apostates. If you believe the church leadership is apostate you are in the wrong church.

          Every prophet in the OT and the BOM talked about following God’s chosen prophets even when the people didn’t know what was going on. Obedience, not scrutiny, was the primary value they taught.

  13. I do not have time for all the back and forth right now but I thought I would link my little post/essay on this topic. This post was the outline I used for my presentation at the recent Sunstone Symposium in SLC.

    Joseph Smith read the entirety of Ezekiel 14 at the first General Conference of the church and later explained it to the Relief Society. He said that if the members would look to “prophets” or leaders for the final word/say that they would ultimately be deceived. They should look to no gatekeeper but Jesus.

    Church and human idolatry are two big challenges for our gentile church. Unlike Debbie Snowcroft (who is spot on in most of her observations imo) I do disagree with one point—and that is the Book of Mormon actually is very condemning of our current Gentile manifestation of a church. The prophetic voice speaks directly to our corporatization of our church. A church is not the kingdom of God but simply a means more or less effective in achieving that end. Right now less than one percent of all donations go to relieving the least among us. It needs to change.
    anyway, here is my post for what it is worth:

    http://themormonworker.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/18th-of-an-inch/

  14. Here is a Petition that was created two years ago and still gets signatures from members throughout the world and in 48 states so far and counting. There are only two churches left in the USA that is remains non-transparent—us and Church of Scientology. I suggest we have them be the only one left that remain in darkness.

    anyway, here is the Petition that has 42 new signatures since last night. Note the quotes from Pres. Hinckley….add to that Elder Bednar saying in conference that “I wish members could see what is done with the $” From his lips to God’s ear and back to this Petition.

    http://bycommonconsent.org

  15. “What better way to prove that the Church is not the for-profit business the media sometimes paints it as than by releasing its actual financial records?”

    Knowing what the Scriptures say concerning false prophets, it’s not difficult for me to understand that Mormonism is “for profit.”

    http://downtownministries.blogspot.com/2013/07/false-prophets-and-their-motivation.html

  16. It finally dawned on me a few months ago, after paying tithing and other contributions for nearly 40 years, that I am not paying to get blessing, or as an investment, but rather because it is one small way I can participate in the organization and operation of the Church, giving my two-cents-worth, as it were. I fully trust the leadership of the Church to use my donations wisely, and because I have a nice chapel to meet in every week with lights and HVAC, and clean floors, and because I can drive an hour and visit the temple, which is a cost-point for the Church, and because I can see people in my own ward be provided food and other necessities they cannot provide for themselves, I have no problem make a contribution. I see every day what my money goes to, I don’t need a detailed accounting.

    • One more thought. Jana, when was the last time you wrote about or required a detailed accounting from the local, state, or federal government for their use of earnings they confiscated from you? Heck, the current feds have not even set a budget for the last 6 years so I doubt they even know how much money they are spending or taking in with any great detail. At least with the Church your contributions are voluntary, free-will offerings that you can stop paying at any time. And at least you get an audit done by CPAs who certify that funds received are used for the purposes intended and within the guidelines established by revelation. Not so with the government.

  17. Some of the false teachings are that
    1.tithing is the Lord’s money;
    2.that a tithe constitutes ten percent of our total earnings;
    3.that we must always make sure to pay tithing first before paying our bills;
    4.that tithing money goes to help the poor and needy;
    5.that by paying a full tithe God promises to bless us individually;
    6.that tithe paying is a commandment that every member of the church is expected to obey regardless of circumstances; and
    7. that tithing must be paid before anything else even if it means your children will go hungry.

    Only when I was no longer afraid (conditioning is strong to never speak or think Ill of the lord’s anointed) did I actually see what was there all along.

    For despite what I believed, NOT ONE of those assumptions can be backed up by scripture, EXCEPT that 7th assumption, perhaps the most insidious and widespread perversion of God’s law currently being promoted from the pulpit, is typified by the following statement which appeared in the December 2012 issue of The Ensign magazine:

    “If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing.” (Aaron L. West, Sacred Transformations, December 2012)

  18. Bottom line is that critics would love nothing more than to do a full anal exam on every line item of the church’s financial statements. Most of these critics are the same ones screaming everytime the church proclaims something contrary to their personal social gospel, demanding the loss of tax exempt status as the price for daring to take a stand.

    I don’t think it would be particularly earthshattering to note that the vast majority of rank and file Latter-day Saints see this as a non-issue. As part of believing that the church is true, and that Christ leads it through His anointed prophets and apostles, we generally accept that the First Presidency, Quorum of the Twelve, and the Presiding Bishopric administer the financial resources of the church in a manner acceptable to the Lord.

    If we do not give these men the benefit of the doubt in this regard, we probably don’t give them the benefit of the doubt on much else, which probably means our testimony of the gospel is on shaky ground to begin with.

    It’s probably rare that faithful, practicing, leader-sustaining Latter-day Saints would get worked up over this issue.

  19. It is interesting seeing some of the personalities responding to this post. Dan the Mormon: We get it; you are faithful. You just keep saying it, over and over and over again. Ron Madson, thanks for being intelligent about all of this, but unfortunately, you are speaking for the most part to an un-hearing audience. Debbie Snowcroft, not a fan of the Mormons, so comments kind of skewed, but pretty much on the money. Mormonknowledgy: less intelligent version of Dan the Mormon (better let him write the posts!).

    Well, at least it remains pretty civil.

  20. Matthew 6:1-4
    Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
    Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
    But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
    That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

  21. Really interesting dialogue so far – to summarise, while many are frustrated that the Church does not release the audits of spending as a whole and particularly in the USA, detailed breakdowns are available for many countries including my own (UK) and generally indicate that the vast majority of tithing money is spent on the needs of congregations – buildings, rent, supplies, support staff, missionary and other costs, not accumulating obscene mountains of money for its own sake. Welfare donations go to the poor and needy – based on my experience as a ward clerk and my wife’s as a Relief Society president it’s pretty clear that the UK is probably far from self-sufficient in welfare spending, so thankyou to whoever out there is subsidising us, probably in the USA. The angriest comments out there seem to be about spending money on investments like the shopping mall and land because it doesn’t sound like giving money directly to virtuous causes like the poor and disaster stricken directly. What do they think the overall profits from those investments are being spent on? Unless you really can’t morally cope with living in a capitalist economy there should be no problem with taking sensible measures to secure the Church’s finances after the hell we went through in our early history with endless debts and financial problems distracting everyone from more spiritually useful activities. How confident are you that without investments the Church would be out of debt based just on direct donations from members? Particularly in poorer countries. The UK is a very wealthy country globally but I doubt the members here pay our own way in donations. It is also sensible as part of the Mormon principle of food storage and preparation to own land and particularly farm and timber land as it does in the USA and UK.
    Every other Christian church around me has to worry constantly and go on and on about money and soliciting donations because they are very strapped for cash and struggling with often dwindling congregations to maintain their buildings and the salaries of their clergy, who unlike the Bible Belt ministers of mammon are usually living very frugal sacrificial lifestyles. It is such a relief that I can live my Church life hearing very little about the finances, never asked to hand over cash during a worship service or for a wedding ceremony or baby blessing and so on. I would be interested to see the accounts to be sure that our investments are ethical (for example the Church of England has had its fingers burned investing in the slave trade and more recently arms companies) but I’ve not heard any scandals yet beyond some investments not doing well, and urban regeneration has a big impact on declining inner city areas so the shopping mall is a good thing in my opinion as well as apparently being quite successfully profitable, so the investment in it will be returned and increased (Parable of the Talents anyone?….) I definitely get back more than I put in as a fortunately employed tithe payer and welfare donator from the Church in facilities to worship in, programs to support me and my ward family and opportunities to do good in the wider world with far less of the stress that other Christians go through about funding their work. People are perhaps nit-picking too much without considering the alternate experiences of members of other churches, including those that publicly disclose their accounts, but I do agree with full disclosure for the reasons given about accountability of leaders, defusing suspicions and so on. Noone has yet come up with evidence that the GA’s are living a rock ‘n roll lifestyle on tithing and Church investments, but it is easier to slip into bad habits when you are not accountable, as they often remind us, so a little more practicing what is preached can’t do any harm.

  22. Raymond Takashi Swenson

    The LDS Church is not subsidizing the new City Creek development–which includes office buildings, apartments, and retail stores–but is investing in it, the main asset being the 20+ acres of land which the Church has owned for well over a centrury. And the use of that land has been for offices and retail since the Zions Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZCMI) store was founded as the first “department store” in the United States. The fact is that the Church is projected to double in size several times in the coming century, and its headquarters operations will inevitably need to expand. This land is the logical place for that expansion to occur, and this use of the land will actually produce net income to the Church rather than require subsidies from tithing funds. Other Church lands in the blocks around Temple Square have been developed into the Church Office Building, and the conversion of the Hotel Utah into another Church office building and ward meetinghouse; the Family History Library and Church Art Museum; the Conference Center and adjacent theater; the Church History Library and Archives; and the LDS Business College. Another block was donated by the Church for use by the Utah Symphony concert hall, the Salt Lake Art Museum, and the Salt Palace Convention Center. Unlike many other cities, Salt Lake has a viable and livable downtown due in large part to the stewardship of the Church.

    If you want to see some of the charitable work of the Church, you can pop over to Welfare Square and see the grain storage elevators, the food canning operation, the Bishop’s Storehouse where people in need can acquire needed food at no charge, and the Deseret Industries store, one of many in Mormon Country, where people are employed and trained and families can purchase useable clothes and furniture. The income from City Creek supports those operations.

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