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Moksha

Clearing the Financial Record

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I suspect the Church financial records hold some very non-faith-promoting history. That is okay however, because we are strong enough for history and this is the True Church, so we can be true. (And we should be true, although I realize this point is highly debatable on an apologetics site).

Truth can always withstand accountability.

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I suspect the church financial records are close to spotless and would pass the most rigorous audit with flying colors.

Whether you agree with where the money is spent may be a different story, but I seriously doubt there's anything scandalous or shady about the finances of the church.

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The Church's financial records are Audited every year. And such is reported at General Conference.

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The Church's financial records are Audited every year.  And such is reported at General Conference.

According to my understanding, by internal auditors employed by the Church. I wonder how the Church's financial records would hold up to an independent external audit by non-LDS who have no conflict of interests?

I'm not pointing any fingers and I have faith that everything is on the up-and-up; but no one can know for sure without such an audit and full public disclosure of the audit reports and financial statements. As a representative organization of the Lord, I would expect the Church to WANT to do so. The fact that they don't, and wish the financial records to remain private and closed to all but the top leaders of the Church, sounds VERY suspecious... even if everything is in order.

The Church strongly teaches the principle of accountability; but doesn't practice it themselves. "Do as I say, not as I do." is a very wrong message to be sent from God's true and exclusively authorized Church lead by a true prophet of God.

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According to my understanding, by internal auditors employed by the Church. I wonder how the Church's financial records would hold up to an independent external audit by non-LDS who have no conflict of interests?

You mean like the government? The Church has been audited by the US government, and no discrepancies were found.

Further info: http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/basic/o..._church_eom.htm

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The whole argument that publishing the financial records would make the church more accountable is ridiculous to me. Anyone familiar with accounting and financial reporting knows how easy it is to manipulate financial statements to say what you want them to say.

If the first presidency is trying to defraud the members, they could do it almost as easily with published financial statements. Especially when they're a private organization that's not legally required to follow GAAP accounting rules. As was discussed in another thread on this topic recently, if the church's finances were messed up, there'd be evidence of it, with or without published financials. There would be bills going unpaid, disgruntled church employees, etc.

Besides, the church IS being accountable. That's what the audit committee is all about. Unless of course, you think the auditors are dishonest, incompetent, or brainwashed.

Additionally the following is from the audit report in conference,

Financial activities of Church-affiliated organizations, which are operated separately from the Church, were not audited by the Church Auditing Department in 2003. Independent public accounting firms audited the financial statements and corresponding controls in these organizations. These organizations include, among others, Deseret Management Corporation and its subsidiaries and the Church
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The Church has an Audit Committee composed of experienced businessmen who are not associated with the Church as employees or General Authorities. This committee reports directly to the First Presidency of the Church and works closely with the Finance and Records Department and the Auditing Department to ensure strict adherence to ethical principles and rigid financial policies and procedures. The Auditing Department also reports directly to the First Presidency of the Church and thus maintains its independence from all other departments. Its staff of certified public accountants performs ongoing audits of finance, operation, and computer systems for Church departments and other Church-controlled organizations. Responses to all audits are required and are monitored.
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I regularly receive huge and very detailed annual financial reports from companies in which I hold stock. They mean nothing to me. They are incredibly technical and boring. I immediately put them in the recycling bin.

Enron published such a report every year. Things always looked great, and prospects were always rosy. They were audited by a huge accounting firm, now dead.

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I regularly receive huge and very detailed annual financial reports from companies in which I hold stock. They mean nothing to me. They are incredibly technical and boring. I immediately put them in the recycling bin.

I get those big ( wasteful) packets too. However for those who desire to understand what is in the material, one can make informed financial decisions about where they would like to invest their money. Some people are very concerned about what companies are included in their bond funds.

Enron published such a report every year. Things always looked great, and prospects were always rosy. They were audited by a huge accounting firm, now dead.

About six months before all of this (Enron) came out I was doing work on a beautiful home up in Summit Park, Utah. The homeowner ( it was a vacation home, and about 5000 square feet) had also purchased the lot next door and torn the existing home down so that it wouldn't obstruct their mountain views. This homeowner worked for Arthur Anderson. At the time I didn't understand how an accountant could have that much money. Now I understand where this source of money came from.

I do think that a savy individual could have looked at the Enron books and noticed that something was up and that they were involved with some "very creative" accounting principles. It was the execs at Enron that were painting the rosy picture, but I think the writing was on the wall, if people had bothered to really look at the wall.

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I suspect.....

well, that and $4.50 will get you a double latte' at Starbucks

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I suspect the church financial records are close to spotless and would pass the most rigorous audit with flying colors.

Didn't the Arizona Republic do an article on the church's finances 11+ years ago? If I remember correctly they were hoping to find dirt and controversy and instead they ended up with a boring story.

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I suspect the Church financial records hold some very non-faith-promoting history.

Why would you make that assumption? If you want scandel, look into the finances of some tele-evangelists.

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As good as any companies finances and disclosure is, that is NOT the standard(s) that we should expect of the church & its leaders.

The cost of non-disclosure is skepticism & cynicism, + a bit of mis-trust.

The cost of disclosure would be (?)

it's time for the leaders to TRUST US.

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I do think that a savy individual could have looked at the Enron books and noticed that something was up and that they were involved with some "very creative" accounting principles. It was the execs at Enron that were painting the rosy picture, but I think the writing was on the wall, if people had bothered to really look at the wall.

Really? Oh please entend us the wealth of knowledge you have in reading financial statements that told you that something was up before anyone else knew.

The reality is that published financial statements are so generic that very little, with the exception of some performance ratios, can be decerned by them. And even then, the information must conform to GAAP.

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The Church has an Audit Committee composed of experienced businessmen who are not associated with the Church as employees or General Authorities. This committee reports directly to the First Presidency of the Church...

And this is an independent and impartial group... that reports directly to the First Presidency? How can this be unbiased?

Let's assume that the FP is pulling a Benny Hinn and is skimming off the top, using tithing funds for their own gain or perhaps spending tithing on non-Church related investments.

Let's further suppose that the Church's Audit Committee, composed of "experienced businessmen who are not associated with the Church as employees or General Authorities", did discover a problem with the Church's financies. Also, let's assume that they are TBM (no doubt) and bring this to the prompt attention of the FP... who, it turns out, are involved or covering up the problem. The FP (again, think of Benny Hinn) tell the committee that their findings are in "error".

Now, seriously, do you think that a TBM is going to go against the prophet?

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Actually, you can get a lot of good information out of financial statements if you know what to look for. Enron is an exception because what caused the big problems wasn't even on the financial statements. They were using off-balance-sheet financing, so their financial position looked stronger than it was.

That just emphasizes the point that if someone is intent on defrauding you, financial statements aren't going to magically allow you to detect the fraud. Anything ugly will be disguised or left off entirely. So, if the church has a bunch of skeletons in its financial closets, it could easily hide the problems in any financial statements that were published. If they don't have any skeletons (which I believe to be the case) then there's not much to be gained by publishing them, other than to satisfy the curiosity of some.

By the way, investors are entitled to see financial information, but donors are not usually. Tithe payers are donors, not investors.

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Let's assume that the FP is pulling a Benny Hinn and is skimming off the top, using tithing funds for their own gain or perhaps spending tithing on non-Church related investments.

Let's further suppose that the Church's Audit Committee, composed of "experienced businessmen who are not associated with the Church as employees or General Authorities", did discover a problem with the Church's financies. Also, let's assume that they are TBM (no doubt) and bring this to the prompt attention of the FP... who, it turns out, are involved or covering up the problem. The FP (again, think of Benny Hinn) tell the committee that their findings are in "error".

Now, seriously, do you think that a TBM is going to go against the prophet?

This is definitely a valid argument, but I don't see how the church publishing financials that would have to be approved by that same first presidency is going to make any difference. They could easily hide what's been skimmed off the top. Just put it in a line entitled "Other Expenses."

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I suspect the Church financial records hold some very non-faith-promoting history. That is okay however, because we are strong enough for history and this is the True Church, so we can be true. (And we should be true, although I realize this point is highly debatable on an apologetics site).

Truth can always withstand accountability.

Above the local level, the church has had amazingly few financial scandals (I can't think of a single one). They may have occurred and been quietly put out of sight, but to the church's credit they run a very tight ship. I know because my father in law heads a PM group (they manage and maintain properties) in Southern California, managing 8 ward houses, and for the years living in Utah and knowing dozens of people connected to the church in various standings I have seen the church and its financial practices from many different angles. No employee(s) is getting rich off of the church.

I doubt there would be any financial malfeasance if the audited financials were publicly disclosed. In my opinion, one of the reasons the church secretes its records may be to divert potential criticisms for how the money is spent VS how people tend to view charitable organizations and religious institutions. the church is a tax exempt 501

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The Church will continue to shoot itself in the foot till the financial records are released .

The non-disclosure even compels otherwise honest people into making up lies for the Church, such as, that a real independent audit has been conducted and released. This is not the case.

The Church is ultimately served by telling the truth. The truth is making a public disclosure. I think we all know there has been wrong doing by how vehement the opposition to public disclosure has been. It doesn't matter. Those guilty can always repent and the Church can be cleansed of this blight.

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Kosh,

Now, seriously, do you think that a TBM is going to go against the prophet?

Yep, those darn brain washed TBMS. :P

TChild,

Above the local level, the church has had amazingly few financial scandals (I can't think of a single one). They may have occurred and been quietly put out of sight, but to the church's credit they run a very tight ship.

Hmm... I can think of 2.

1) 2.5 Million for a big and spacious building (Right Serenity/Harmony/Jenny Jo?)

2) Paying twice for a piece of land in down town Salt Lake.

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Hmm... I can think of 2.

1) 2.5 Million for a big and spacious building (Right Serenity/Harmony/Jenny Jo?)

2) Paying twice for a piece of land in down town Salt Lake.

Well, give me an example of an individual pilfering cash for a new porsche, cabin in the woods and a kept woman on the side. As far as I know that hasn't happened yet.

2.5 million for the big and spacious building? Are you refering to the new tabernacle? 2.5 million didn't even pay for the sound system. :P You need to add two more zeros and then some.

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Well actually I can think of one more.

My wife is from brazil... Im not quite sure of all the details but... come to find out... her branch president was using tithing money to line his own pockets for quite a number of years. How he was found out... One woman went to the stake house for an interview and the stake president a friend of hers asked her about tithing... anyways.... she had all her receipts for tithing. They added them up or something and it was moire than the branch had been turning in in tithing for the whole year. From just this one lady. So... they di an audit on the branches in the stake and he was found out and exed.

Very sad story.

Come to find out... this branch wasnt using the... apporved methods for tithing gathering and accountability. Allways 2 preisthood holders do the counting.

There is always an excpetion to the rules.

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come to find out... her branch president was using tithing money to line his own pockets

Sure, that happens a bit I am sure...that is "the local level" I mentioned earlier. I have heard many stories like that also, in the mission field and here in Utah. I am talking about scandals at the top, scandals that involve leaders and kick backs, embezzlement, or other complex schemes...above the local level.

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Really? Oh please entend us the wealth of knowledge you have in reading financial statements that told you that something was up before anyone else knew.

Before you demean people, please read their posts carefully and determine if you have at least read it correctly. I do not recall saying that I knew something was up before anyone else knew. In fact I never saw an Enron financial statement or even a daily stock quote ever, before this all went down. I fail to see the reason you personally attack me and accuse me of having some special knowledge, that I never claimed.

I do know some very savy business people, who given the chance to look over the deals and mergers that where going on, and the money that these deals were supposedly generating to those investors involved, would have been very suspect. They would have asked questions ( as did many insiders) and begun to put together that whats on paper isn't adding up to reality. My point, was that people tend to want to believe that great things are happening to them, especially when superiors are telling them that things are rosy. People stop looking deeply.

Millions of people bought into the dotcom bust thinking that a company that was producing little or no revenue, could actually be worth $75-100 a share.

My other point is that although many people find financial date boring and uninformative, there are others who can see a wealth of information about a company or organization. Just because you or I cannot understand it, there are many who can. This makes those boring financial reports valuable to many people.

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the The Church will continue to shoot itself in the foot till the financial records are released .

The non-disclosure even compels otherwise honest people into making up lies for the Church, such as, that a real independent audit has been conducted and released. This is not the case.

The Church is ultimately served by telling the truth. The truth is making a public disclosure. I think we all know there has been wrong doing by how vehement the opposition to public disclosure has been. It doesn't matter. Those guilty can always repent and the Church can be cleansed of this blight.

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