Jump to content
smac97

Article Re: Payment of Tithing

Recommended Posts

Jana Riess weighs in on the Church.  Again.  And she finds it lacking.  Again.

Quote

I just paid my Mormon tithing. Why don’t I feel better about it?

Well, since you are asking for public input, here's my take: Perhaps you are doing it wrong.  That is, for the wrong reason(s).

(I'd post these thoughts to her article, but she is really prone to censoring comments.)

Quote

Tis the season, people! Today is Giving Tuesday, when we take stock of the needs around us and open our wallets to help. Giving Tuesday is a kickoff to the holiday month, when many charities and non-profits will receive the bulk of the funds they need to do their work during the rest of the year.  

And yet the only charitable group that Jana takes pains to criticize during "the season" is the Church.

Quote

For Mormons, December is also the season of tithing settlement, when members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are expected to sit down with their bishops and “declare” ourselves.
...
Church members are expected to settle accounts by the end of the calendar year, which is why this morning found me logging on to the Church’s website to authorize a transfer that will get me caught up with my donations.

But I did not feel great about it—not nearly as happy as other kinds of giving have made me.

So it's all about Jana Riess.  The worth of tithing lies in the act's capacity to make her happy.

Quote

In research on generosity, Mormons are famous for our giving. According to data collected by Christian Smith and others in the Science of Generosity Survey, only about 2.7% of Americans give at least 10% of their income to charity. Nearly half of Americans don’t give away so much as a dollar a year—and remember, people have a tendency to overinflate their socially desirable behavior on surveys! Mormons, by contrast, are very generous. In Smith’s book Passing the Plate, he describes research from a 2001 study that placed us higher than any other Christian group in terms of donations. Whereas most Christians give away about 1.5% to 2% of their income, for Mormons the average was 5.2%.

Hmm.  How can such a complimentary assessment be used against the Church?  

Quote

This makes me proud of my people, but it’s complicated.

"But."  In saying anything good about the Church, there's always a "but" with Jana Riess.

Quote

Part of the reason Mormons donate so much more, Smith says, is that there is accountability attached to our giving, both in terms of our annual chat with the bishop each December and the fact that tithing is a requirement if we want to have access to the temple.

I don’t mind being held accountable; I view it as an important part of a Christian life.

But...

Quote

But I want the Church to be accountable too, which has not occurred in sixty years.

And there it is.

Quote

In 1959, the Church stopped issuing expenditure reports to members, so for six decades now we have had little idea of how much money is coming in, how much of it the Church uses for charitable purposes, and where the rest of it is going. (For a fascinating in-the-weeds history of this policy and its legal ramifications in U.S. tax law, see Sam Brunson’s 2015 Dialogue article here.) We do have some limited information from nations that require churches to issue annual reports to the government, but since the LDS presence in those nations is thin on the ground, they don’t tell us much.

Here we go again.  A nebulous call for "more transparency." 

I have a hard time according a presumption of good faith to people who are publicly faulting the Church on this issue, particularly given the absence of evidence that the Church is doing anything other than a stellar job of handling its finances.  So it's not about "transparency," not really.  It's about people trying to find fault, to make the LDS Church look bad, and so on.

Also, D&C 70:1-6 provides an interesting potential insight as to the Church's approach to "transparency" (emphases added):

1 Behold, and hearken, O ye inhabitants of Zion, and all ye people of my church who are afar off, and hear the word of the Lord which I give unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and also unto my servant Martin Harris, and also unto my servant Oliver Cowdery, and also unto my servant John Whitmer, and also unto my servant Sidney Rigdon, and also unto my servant William W. Phelps, by the way of commandment unto them.

2 For I give unto them a commandment; wherefore hearken and hear, for thus saith the Lord unto them—

3 I, the Lord, have appointed them, and ordained them to be stewards over the revelations and commandments which I have given unto them, and which I shall hereafter give unto them;

4 And an account of this stewardship will I require of them in the day of judgment.

Wherefore, I have appointed unto them, and this is their business in the church of God, to manage them and the concerns thereof, yea, the benefits thereof.

Wherefore, a commandment I give unto them, that they shall not give these things unto the church, neither unto the world;

What "more transparency" means (to people like, I think, Jana Riess) is, I think, left deliberately vague.  Such vagueness allows the self-appointed arbiters of the Church's behavior (like, again, Jana Riess) to endlessly shift the goal posts.  Anything the Church does will never be enough.  Our critics will just demand more, and more and more.  That's the nature of faultfinding.

Quote

Research on altruism has shown consistently that generous people feel more positive about life, are more involved in their communities, and have stronger relational networks. So far, so good. But the Mormon method of tithing into a black box doesn’t quite meet researchers’ standards for getting the biggest happiness bang for one’s charitable buck.

This sort of "hasty generalization" is frustrating.  There appears to be some pretty good oversight of the Church's finances.  See here:

FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATION.

On July 8, 1838, a revelation was received by the Prophet Joseph Smith making known the method for the disbursement of tithing received by the Church: "Verily, thus saith the Lord, the time is now come, that it [tithing] shall be disposed of by a council, composed of the First Presidency of my Church, and of the bishop and his council, and by my high council" (D&C 120:1).

Subsequently, the Council on the Disposition of Tithes, consisting of the First Presidency of the Church, the quorum of twelve apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric, was established. This council meets regularly and oversees the expenditures of all Church funds worldwide. It approves budgets and financial strategy and establishes financial policy.

Two subcommittees of the Council on the Disposition of Tithes are the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee. Both committees consist of the First Presidency, selected members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and members of the Presiding Bishopric.

The Church Budget Office provides staff support to the First Presidency and gives overall administrative direction to the preparation of the annual Church budget. At the beginning of each annual budgeting cycle, budget guidelines are given to Church administrative department heads, international offices, missions, temples, and other units. Within these guidelines, budgets are constructed at the lowest levels of accountability and scrupulously reviewed through various levels of management and councils. The Budget Committee meets periodically to provide in-depth budget review and to formulate budget recommendations to the Council on the Disposition of Tithes.

The Appropriations Committee meets each week. All expenditure requests throughout the world, except those few which have been delegated to a lower level of administration by the Council on the Disposition of Tithes, are reviewed, checked to make certain the request is within budget, and appropriated. Expenditures that have been delegated are reported to the committee.

FINANCIAL CONTROLS. Financial controls are administered through the use of financial policy, budgeting, organization structure, and regular, comprehensive audits. Key financial policy comes from the Council on the Disposition of Tithes. Additional financial policy and procedure directives are issued by the Finance and Records Department, which, under the direction of the First Presidency and the Presiding Bishopric, is responsible for the administration of treasury accounting/controllership, taxation, and risk-management functions.

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.

PARTICIPATION AND INVESTMENTS IN BUSINESS. The First Presidency has established other boards and committees to oversee the management of the Church's investments and reserves (see Business: Church Participation in Business). Each of these key committees is chaired either by a member of the First Presidency or by another appointed General Authority.

The Investment Policy Committee is chaired by the First Presidency and includes the president of the Council of the Twelve, other members of the Twelve as appointed, and the Presiding Bishopric. Its purpose is to establish investment policy and strategy and to review key investment decisions.

The Deseret Management Corporation (DMC) is a corporation with its own board of directors. DMC functions as a holding company for most of the commercial businesses owned by the Church. These companies pay all taxes that are paid by commercial corporations. Some properties are also held for reasons other than investment. In addition to protecting the surroundings of sacred properties, such investments may be maintained to support the ecclesiastical efforts of the Church.

Jana Riess speaks of a "black box."  However, image.gif"accountability" appears to be well accounted for.  We have the Council on the Disposition of Tithes, the Budget Committee, the Appropriations Committee, the Church Budget Office, the Finance and Records Department, the Auditing Department, the Audit Committee, the Investment Policy Committee, the Deseret Management Corporation and its board of directors, the First Presidency of the Church, the quorum of twelve apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric, "other boards and committees to oversee the management of the Church's investments and reserves," and on and on.

Moreover, we have a robust missionary program.  And meetinghouses.  And temples.  And educational and humanitarian efforts.  And Fast Offerings.  And so on.  We can see where a lot of the Church's money is spent.

We also have a generalized knowledge that the General Authorities live very moderate lifestyles, particularly given the huge amounts of money to which they have access.  They aren't in it for the money.

We also have tens of thousands of bishops and stake presidents and other local leaders who work for free.

We also have periodic assurances from the leaders of the Church that it "has been living within its means."

This article by Peggy Fletcher Stack is about D. Michael Quinn's most recent book: Historian digs into the hidden world of Mormon finances, shows how church went from losing money to making money — lots of it It merits some attention, particularly these parts:

Quinn estimates — and estimating is about the best even a top-notch researcher can do — the church took in about $33 billion in tithing in 2010, based on a model of projected growth rates that followed a consistent pattern starting in the 1950s. It earns another $15 billion annually, he says, in returns on its profit-making investments. (The Bloomberg Businessweek piece from five years ago cited an investigation pegging the LDS Church’s worth at $40 billion.)

No matter the precise bottom line, these figures represent an astonishing accomplishment, Quinn says.

“It is an American success story without parallel,” the longtime historian says in an interview. “No institution, no church, no business, no nonprofit organization in America has had this kind of history.”
...
{Quinn} says the LDS Church’s financial trajectory, as well as the self-sacrificing actions of its hierarchy, is “an enormously faith-promoting story.”

If everyday Mormons could grasp “the larger picture,” he says, they would “breathe a sigh of relief and see the church is not a profit-making business.”
...
At the same time, Mormon authorities did not act like corporate giants, enriching themselves on profits.

Through the years, they paid themselves less than what others in their employ made, Quinn says. Today, that is sometimes barely half as much as some of the church’s skilled bureaucrats.

CEOs of other top nonprofits, including Harvard, Yale and the United Way, make almost 10 times as much, he says. “It was truly humbling to see these men who preside over an institution making tens of billions of dollars turning [the funds] back to the benefit of the rank and file.”

That fulfills what Mormon leader Brigham Young, known as the “Lion of the Lord,” said in 1875. At that time, Joseph Smith’s successor and his apostles signed a document, decrying America’s approach to unregulated capitalism, including the “growth of wealth in the hands of a comparatively few individuals.”

The country’s “priceless legacy,” they wrote, was “endangered by the monstrous power which this accumulation of wealth gives to a few individuals and a few powerful corporations.”

By pocketing such relatively small salaries and using church assets to serve the members, Quinn says, Mormon leaders have “maintained the spirit of that attitude.”

See also here:

Among the distinctions the LDS Church is known for are its missionaries in white shirts, its towering temples and saying next to nothing about its money.

After all, the Utah-based faith doesn’t have to reveal much about its wealth in the United States and many other locales around the globe.

But, in a few countries, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must make public at least some basic information about the revenue it collects, the money it spends and the assets it owns.
...
For his new book, “The Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth & Corporate Power,” noted historian D. Michael Quinn obtained the LDS Church’s financial disclosures for 2010 in six countries that require churches or charities to make such filings: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the Philippines, Tonga and the U.K.
...
The combined assets in those six countries added to $1.8 billion in 2010. They include cash, investments and real estate like a stake center (regional meetinghouse) in view of Australia’s Gold Coast, the Mormon temple south of London and hundreds of chapels across the six countries.
...
The historian, who was excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1993 for his writings about early Mormon polygamy, says he was most struck by the money church leaders in Utah directed overseas. Of the six countries, only Australia did not report a supplement from headquarters in 2010.

The church in Canada received $166,728, while the Philippines got $63.8 million — 85 percent of its revenue.

Even in a developed country like the United Kingdom — home to almost as many Mormons as in Canada — headquarters sent $1.8 million in 2010, indicating that the church infrastructure exceeds what the locals can support. That and the other subsidies lead Quinn to assume the U.S.-born church is subsidizing its work and wards in Africa and Latin America, too.

Based on some general statements Mormon apostles have made through the decades about the church’s income from profit-making corporations and members’ tithing, Quinn says, the source of those subsidies must be offerings from Americans and the businesses the faith owns.

{Quinn} says the LDS Church’s financial trajectory, as well as the self-sacrificing actions of its hierarchy, is “an enormously faith-promoting story.”

If everyday Mormons could grasp “the larger picture,” he says, they would “breathe a sigh of relief and see the church is not a profit-making business.”

image.gif"{T}he U.S.-born church is subsidizing its work {in other countries}."'

"Quinn says {that} the source of those subsidies must be offerings from Americans and the businesses the faith owns."

Quote

Researchers make three suggestions: make it a choice, make a connection, and make an impact.

1. Make it a choice. It is certainly a choice to pay tithing to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

But...

Quote

However, when not making that choice could have undesirable consequences, like not being able to attend a child’s temple wedding, it might begin to feel more like an obligation than an entirely free decision.

And there it is.

So on the one hand, Riess says "I don’t mind being held accountable; I view it as an important part of a Christian life," but just a few lines later she appears to resent "being held accountable."

Quote

2. Make a connection. People derive the greatest happiness when their donations help build strong relationships.

Ya know, perhaps tithing is not about how "people deriv{ing} the greatest happiness."

Perhaps it is an expression of faith.  Obedience to a commandment.

Perhaps it is about helping people, but not necessarily in ways that is immediately apparent to us.

Quote

This makes sense when you think about it. Which do you enjoy more: seeing your niece’s face light up on Christmas morning because she got the Lego set she’d been asking for incessantly since July, or conferring an Amazon gift card upon a more distant relative you barely know?

I don't think charitable giving should be predicated on finding a means that "you enjoy more."

Quote

If you’re like me, the second scenario feels like an obligation, not a joyous affirmation of relationship.

This from the same person who just a few sentences ago said she "{doesn't} mind being held accountable."

I don't think tithing is supposed to be predicated on "Hmm.  How much 'joyous affirmation of relationship' can I get out of this?"

It's not a transaction.  It's a consecrated offering.  

It's not about providing the donor with "a joyous affirmation" (though that can certainly be a happy side effect).  It's about obedience to a divine commandment.  It's about faith.  It's about building up the Kingdom.

Quote

The gifts we most look forward to giving are the ones where we adore the person and know them so well that we utterly nailed the offering.

Holy cow.

  • "I did not feel great about {paying tithing}—not nearly as happy as other kinds of giving have made me..."
  • "Research on altruism has shown consistently that generous people feel more positive about life..."
  • "But the Mormon method of tithing into a black box doesn’t quite meet researchers’ standards for getting the biggest happiness bang for one’s charitable buck..."
  • "People derive the greatest happiness..."
  • "Which do you enjoy more..."
  • "The gifts we most look forward to giving..."

How 'bout the idea of paying tithing, with no thought of reward?  

Quote

3. Make an impact. The third ingredient in the secret sauce of altruism is that we’re happiest when we feel like our gift is making a real difference.

Wow.  She's really going off the rails here.  First, she continues to predicate the value of charitable giving on whether it makes her happy.  She's not doing it right.

Second, the Church has a huge impact on the lives of people around the world.  It is teaching its members to be better people.  It is building communities.  It is encouraging individuals to serve their fellow man.  It is creating communities where such service can be amplified and focused.  It is providing humanitarial materials and supplies and services.  

And she doesn't give the Church a lick of credit for any of that.

Quote

This Giving Tuesday morning I made two electronic donations: one to the Church and another, smaller one, to a refugee family who are friends of a friend.

"I made..."

Quote

They are in need of some concrete help this holiday season, in the form of food, clothing, and even toilet paper. I felt great helping them because I know that my contribution is joining other people’s donations to provide an easier and less stressful holiday season for this one family.

"I felt great..."

Quote

When I give to my church I check the general boxes where I’m trying to designate the money to go, but a disclaimer at the bottom tells me that even though I might have wanted my donation to help, say, the Church’s fast offering fund to help the poor, the Church reserves the right to use it wherever it sees fit. Which would be fine . . . if I knew anything about where that was.

Again, she doesn't give the Church a lick of credit for any of its worldwide efforts.

-Smac

Edited by smac97
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post

It does not make her feel good because she calls it “Mormon Tithing”. Follow the prophet HERETIC!

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post

When people require transparency they are essentially saying they don't trust those who are receiving the donations. They expect the church to be held under the same scrutiny as with any other charitable organization, like the Red cross and others. The problem is that they are sort of comparing apples to oranges. Donations given to the church are based on faith and obedience as well as a desire to give and help. Other charities are only based on the desire to give and help others. From them I would also like to see the numbers and be certain the donations I give are going towards what they say they are. Donations to the Church (to God) however, are based on a willingness to obey a commandment and having faith that it is the right thing to do and trusting Church leaders to use it wisely.  I can see with my own eyes at least in a general way where the money is going without needing to see the exact numbers.
If the church were to publicly publish the numbers is the general public really going to understand the complicated details of how the money comes in and how and why it is spent? 

 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

Smac, I am okay with the church tithing program. I think it's a problem when it becomes a charity donation, because it isn't really that. I think of it as dues, more or less. Because the members get something in return for their tithing. So if it were a charity, it would probably be something you wouldn't want to donate to, since your money will be very little going to the poor according to statistics out there that say only a few dollars per member per year go to the poor and needy through their tithing donations. Fast offerings, OTOH are different. So as long as the church members understand there's a difference then that's good. Hope this makes sense. I'm not being negative at all here. I get it now. Where before I'd be all over with negative comments of the church not donating enough to the poor and needy. I understand that the money is spent on mission efforts, church/temple buildings, and all the other avenues in order for the church to function properly. 

I give the church credit for always mentioning that the money they donate for the poor and needy is given by it's members. They always do that, and that is the honest truth. 

Share this post


Link to post
6 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

If Jana wrote about how happy she was with the church no one would read her and she'd be out of a job. 

Personally, I find it a great privilege to be able to pay tithing and take part in building the kingdom.  

Right. It's all about the click bait.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
28 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Smac, I am okay with the church tithing program. I think it's a problem when it becomes a charity donation, because it isn't really that. I think of it as dues, more or less. Because the members get something in return for their tithing. So if it were a charity, it would probably be something you wouldn't want to donate to, since your money will be very little going to the poor according to statistics out there that say only a few dollars per member per year go to the poor and needy through their tithing donations. Fast offerings, OTOH are different. So as long as the church members understand there's a difference then that's good. Hope this makes sense. I'm not being negative at all here. I get it now. Where before I'd be all over with negative comments of the church not donating enough to the poor and needy. I understand that the money is spent on mission efforts, church/temple buildings, and all the other avenues in order for the church to function properly. 

I give the church credit for always mentioning that the money they donate for the poor and needy is given by it's members. They always do that, and that is the honest truth. 

That is a good point.  Tithing is more like paying dues than giving a charitable donation.  But (see I use buts too) it is still considered a charitable donation because that's how the IRS defines it.  And the Church itself is also classified as a charitable organization, by IRS rules.

So while tithing is more like paying dues to be part of the kingdom of God, much like taxes are dues for being a citizen of a country or kingdom, the IRS still classifies it as a charitable donation to a charitable organization.  Which is good, because that makes it tax deductible, too.

Edited by Ahab
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, smac97 said:

Also, D&C 70:1-6 provides an interesting potential insight as to the Church's approach to "transparency" (emphases added):

1 Behold, and hearken, O ye inhabitants of Zion, and all ye people of my church who are afar off, and hear the word of the Lord which I give unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and also unto my servant Martin Harris, and also unto my servant Oliver Cowdery, and also unto my servant John Whitmer, and also unto my servant Sidney Rigdon, and also unto my servant William W. Phelps, by the way of commandment unto them.

2 For I give unto them a commandment; wherefore hearken and hear, for thus saith the Lord unto them—

3 I, the Lord, have appointed them, and ordained them to be stewards over the revelations and commandments which I have given unto them, and which I shall hereafter give unto them;

4 And an account of this stewardship will I require of them in the day of judgment.

Wherefore, I have appointed unto them, and this is their business in the church of God, to manage them and the concerns thereof, yea, the benefits thereof.

Wherefore, a commandment I give unto them, that they shall not give these things unto the church, neither unto the world;

Not to be too contrary as overall I agree with your post, but I am unclear as to why you think these passages provide insight into the Church's position on financial transparency, as they seem to be about "the revelations and commandments".  I don't think that vs 6 is really suggesting that they keep the revelations and commandments hidden from the church and the world, as that would kind of defeat their purpose.  I think vs 6 is likely saying that only these named brethren are to manage/handle the actual handwritten revelations so as to be unaltered or destroyed by others (having learned a lesson from the 116 pages).    Keep in mind that the Church did issue expenditure reports up until 1959, and this revelation was given much earlier than that, so it is likely unrelated to what you are suggesting. 

Edited by pogi
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
47 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Smac, I am okay with the church tithing program. I think it's a problem when it becomes a charity donation, because it isn't really that. I think of it as dues, more or less. Because the members get something in return for their tithing. So if it were a charity, it would probably be something you wouldn't want to donate to, since your money will be very little going to the poor according to statistics out there that say only a few dollars per member per year go to the poor and needy through their tithing donations. Fast offerings, OTOH are different. So as long as the church members understand there's a difference then that's good. Hope this makes sense. I'm not being negative at all here. I get it now. Where before I'd be all over with negative comments of the church not donating enough to the poor and needy. I understand that the money is spent on mission efforts, church/temple buildings, and all the other avenues in order for the church to function properly. 

I give the church credit for always mentioning that the money they donate for the poor and needy is given by it's members. They always do that, and that is the honest truth. 

If I want to watch Austin City Limits unlimited (which I really wish I could afford to watch) on the PBS app on my TV, I have to pay a charitable donation and become a supporting member.  Its a pay to play, it is also considered a charitable donation. Same principle. 

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, smac97 said:

Here we go again.  A nebulous call for "more transparency."

I'm confident the calls will continue until the Church is more transparent.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
2 minutes ago, Thinking said:

I'm confident the calls will continue until the Church is more transparent.

The calls will continue even after that because of disagreement on how the funds are spent. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
24 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Smac, I am okay with the church tithing program. I think it's a problem when it becomes a charity donation, because it isn't really that.

I don't understand this statement.  How is tithing not a charity donation?

24 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I think of it as dues, more or less.

And others think of donating to the Salvation Army or the Red Cross (or any other charitable organization) to be obligatory ("dues").  That subjective sense does not change the reality of the situation, though.

Whether I donate to a charity out of a sense of obligation, or not, the reality is that I am donating money to a charity and getting nothing in return.  

Moreover, there are all sorts of members who do not pay tithing, who remain members of the Church.  So the "dues" analogy doesn't seem apt.

24 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Because the members get something in return for their tithing.

If that's how you look at it, so do people who donate to the Salvation Army.  A tax deduction.  A good feeling.  Bragging rights/ virtue signalling.  And so on.

24 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

So if it were a charity, it would probably be something you wouldn't want to donate to, since your money will be very little going to the poor according to statistics out there that say only a few dollars per member per year go to the poor and needy through their tithing donations.

"According to statistics?"  CFR, please.  I'm pretty skeptical of these sorts of claims.  

So where is the Church's money going, in your view?

If the Church takes tithes from the U.S. to finance the construction of a church building in the Philippines, is that a "charitable" endeavor?

I think it is incorrect to re-define charitable giving "money ... going to the poor."  That seems like an artificially narrow meaning.

24 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Fast offerings, OTOH are different.

How so?  Nary a penny of fast offerings is ever given "to the poor."  Not once cent.

Fast offerings are used to pay for food, clothing, shelter, and other "necessaries."  But none of it is given "to the poor."  Food is given, not money.  Clothing is donated or purchased, not money.  Rent is paid to the landlord, not to the tenant.  Repair costs for a vehicle are paid to the mechanic, not to the owner of the car.

24 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

So as long as the church members understand there's a difference then that's good.

What "difference" are you referencing here?

Let's say that the Church uses tithing from the members of the Church in the U.S. to finance the construction of a church building in the Philippines.  Does this count as a "charitable" expenditure in your view?  Why or why not?

The Bishops' storehouse.  Deseret Industries.  Welfare Square.  Humanitarian Square.  None of these involve giving "money ... going to the poor."  Do they not count as charitable efforts?

The Church has spent considerable time and effort developing "self-reliance" courses, which have been shared with the NAACP for adaptation for use in communities other than within the Church (see here).  Does this count?

The Church facilitates millions of hours of volunteer service by its members.  Does this count?

The Church teaches precepts that, if followed, result in people obeying the law, avoiding substance abuse, refraining from inappropriate sexual behavior, strengthening families, pursuing education, working hard, and so on.  Does this count?

Have you ever read this article (published by the Church)?: Humanitarian Aid and Welfare Services Basics: How Donations and Resources Are Used

I could go on for a quite a while.  Nobody is getting rich from the Church.  The Church has developed a very healthy long-term financial strategy for remaining solvent while also funding the Church's mandated duties.  And it's doing a pretty good job.

I like these observations (by an accountant, in response to generalized calls for "more transparency" from the Church):

Quote

But can the actual organization, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, better allocate it’s resources to give more to the poor?

The LDS Church recently included “caring for the poor” among their missions, bringing the total missions to four. I don’t think I’m breaking new ground by saying that this new mission takes money. What about the other three? Proclaiming the Gospel, Perfecting the Saints, Redeeming the Dead? All of them take money, too.

Could we ask missionaries to pay a bit more to cover the expenses related to the mission? Maybe, but for many what’s being asked is already a huge burden.

Could we worship in buildings that aren’t quite as nice? Perhaps, but most of the newer buildings are pretty utilitarian, even reusing the same architecture plans to save on costs.

Could we make our temples look a little less nice? On this one, I think not. The new, smaller temples already have several changes to help cut back on expenses, but we can only go so far. This is the Lord’s house, which He has asked us to make them worthy of Him. Going back even to the days of the Tabernacle (Old Testament, not the one on Temple Square), the House of the Lord has always been designed to stand out. Remember, nice stuff for our Lord is good every now and then (see Matthew 26:11).

In other words, 7 billion dollars a year (or whatever the Church actually collects in tithing) is really not that much considering the many expenses we have worldwide.

To put that 7 billion dollars in perspective, I’ve often heard the Church income compared to Gap, Inc. in terms of revenue. Based on my reading of Gap’s 2013 financials, they brought in about $9.6 billion after taking out the cost of clothing (i.e. Cost of Goods Sold). Of that $9.6 billion, they were only left with about $1 billion at the end of the year. That’s over $8 billion a year just to keep a company with about 180k employees running.

No corporation is ever going to be a perfect example, but considering the Church’s millions of members, and its reach across the globe, their operating expenses WILL be in the BILLIONS, even with their relatively small amount of employees.

What are your thoughts about this?

24 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Hope this makes sense. I'm not being negative at all here. I get it now.

I appreciate it.  I'm trying to reciprocate.  

24 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Where before I'd be all over with negative comments of the church not donating enough to the poor and needy. I understand that the money is spent on mission efforts, church/temple buildings, and all the other avenues in order for the church to function properly. 

I give the church credit for always mentioning that the money they donate for the poor and needy is given by it's members. They always do that, and that is the honest truth. 

I like that the individual members are asked to donate Fast Offerings, and to volunteer their time. 

Thanks,

-Smac

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
19 minutes ago, pogi said:
Quote

Also, D&C 70:1-6 provides an interesting potential insight as to the Church's approach to "transparency" (emphases added):

1 Behold, and hearken, O ye inhabitants of Zion, and all ye people of my church who are afar off, and hear the word of the Lord which I give unto my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and also unto my servant Martin Harris, and also unto my servant Oliver Cowdery, and also unto my servant John Whitmer, and also unto my servant Sidney Rigdon, and also unto my servant William W. Phelps, by the way of commandment unto them.

2 For I give unto them a commandment; wherefore hearken and hear, for thus saith the Lord unto them—

3 I, the Lord, have appointed them, and ordained them to be stewards over the revelations and commandments which I have given unto them, and which I shall hereafter give unto them;

4 And an account of this stewardship will I require of them in the day of judgment.

Wherefore, I have appointed unto them, and this is their business in the church of God, to manage them and the concerns thereof, yea, the benefits thereof.

Wherefore, a commandment I give unto them, that they shall not give these things unto the church, neither unto the world;

Not to be too contrary as overall I agree with your post, but I am unclear as to why you think these passages provide insight into the Church's position on financial transparency, as they seem to be about "the revelations and commandments". 

Many of which pertain to matters of Church governance, including its finances.

19 minutes ago, pogi said:

I don't think that vs 6 is really suggesting that they keep the revelations and commandments hidden from the church and the world, as that would kind of defeat their purpose. 

Verse 6 references "these things."  I think "these things" refers to their management/stewardship of "the concerns" and "benefits" of "the revelations and commandments."

Why "these things" are not to be given "unto the world," or even what that means, I'm not sure.  Perhaps the proper construction is something like "The governance of the Church is the responsibility of those called by God, and that responsibility cannot be delegated, or 'give{n},' to 'the church' (i.e. church employees) or 'the world' (i.e. secular government, or secular advisors retained by the Church).

So perhaps this passage has little (or nothing) to do with the subject of this thread.

19 minutes ago, pogi said:

I think vs 6 is likely saying that only these named brethren are to manage/handle the actual handwritten revelations so as to be unaltered or destroyed by others (having learned a lesson from the 116 pages).    Keep in mind that the Church did issue expenditure reports up until 1959, and this revelation was given much earlier than that, so it is likely unrelated to what you are suggesting. 

You're probably right.  See here.

Thanks,

-Smac

Share this post


Link to post
20 minutes ago, smac97 said:

How so?  Nary a penny of fast offerings is ever given "to the poor."  Not once cent.

Fast offerings are used to pay for food, clothing, shelter, and other "necessaries."  But none of it is given "to the poor."  Food is given, not money.  Clothing is donated or purchased, not money.  Rent is paid to the landlord, not to the tenant.  Repair costs for a vehicle are paid to the mechanic, not to the owner of the car.

 

Hm- seems a bit hair splitting imo.  My money is donated via dollars and cents so that “the poor” can have an increase. 

Share this post


Link to post
1 minute ago, MustardSeed said:
Quote

How so?  Nary a penny of fast offerings is ever given "to the poor."  Not once cent.

Fast offerings are used to pay for food, clothing, shelter, and other "necessaries."  But none of it is given "to the poor."  Food is given, not money.  Clothing is donated or purchased, not money.  Rent is paid to the landlord, not to the tenant.  Repair costs for a vehicle are paid to the mechanic, not to the owner of the car

Hm- seems a bit hair splitting imo.  My money is donated via dollars and cents so that “the poor” can have an increase. 

I quite agree.  I don't want to split that hair.  I think most criticisms of the Church are based on that hairsplit.  

Thanks,

-Smac

Share this post


Link to post
10 minutes ago, MustardSeed said:
 

Hm- seems a bit hair splitting imo.  My money is donated via dollars and cents so that “the poor” can have an increase. 

I don't want to get too much into Fast Offerings since this thread is about Tithing, but I would like to say that people who pay tithing get many of the same benefits that "poor people" do from Fast Offerings.

As a full tithe payer I receive financial assistance from the Church to pay some bills that I can't afford to pay on my income alone.   The Church doesn't pay the money to me, directly, but they do pay the bills.  And it is a wonderful blessing for me and my wife. Before I received this assistance I had gone through several years without paying tithing while trying to pay off those bills, planning to resume paying tithing after I had paid those bills off,  because I did not realize this kind of help was available from the Church.  And I think this is part of what is meant y having the windows of heaven opened, overflowing with blessings.  And it will likely go on for a couple more years unless I can somehow manage to get some more income.  I think this might even be connected with the law of consecration, too.  And I'm sure I'm not the only person in the Church who receives this kind of assistance, so who knows how many dollars are going toward this or where all of the money comes from, aside from me and other members of the Church who are helping to build up the kingdom of God by paying our tithing.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, JAHS said:

The calls will continue even after that because of disagreement on how the funds are spent. 

This exactly.

When so many don't know what tithing is supposed to be used for, any transparent declaration of usage would still make people "unhappy".

Read your scriptures people.  They are clear on tithing usage.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, Thinking said:

I'm confident the calls will continue until the Church is more transparent.

I am content to just let the calls continue. They are pretty easy to ignore.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post

I like to make sure I read the articles that Smac critiques.  After seeing his comments and reading the article I"m like "what article was he reading?"  

Share this post


Link to post
5 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I like to make sure I read the articles that Smac critiques.  After seeing his comments and reading the article I"m like "what article was he reading?"  

Harsh but fair.

Edited by The Nehor

Share this post


Link to post
4 minutes ago, stemelbow said:

I like to make sure I read the articles that Smac critiques.  After seeing his comments and reading the article I"m like "what article was he reading?"  

I like it when people are comfortable enough to ask questions when they don't understand something.  He was critiquing the article he quoted in his first post in this thread.

Please feel free to ask more questions when you do not understand something.

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, smac97 said:

With respect, I disagree.  You say "the calls will continue until..."  I submit that the the calls will continue regardless of whether the Church is more transparent.

I think the underlying motive for these calls is not about transparency, but is rather about finding fault.  So if and when the Church becomes "more transparent," critics and dissidents would just move the goalposts and continue to "call" for "more."  Forever.

You may be right, but will we ever know?

Share this post


Link to post
1 hour ago, smac97 said:

With respect, I disagree.  You say "the calls will continue until..."  I submit that the the calls will continue regardless of whether the Church is more transparent.

I think the underlying motive for these calls is not about transparency, but is rather about finding fault.  So if and when the Church becomes "more transparent," critics and dissidents would just move the goalposts and continue to "call" for "more."  Forever.

Thanks,

-Smac

It is our nature to call out anything we see as a problem and try to get that problem fixed.  So yes as soon as this problem (as she sees it) is fixed, she'll move on to some other problem and try to get that one fixed, etc forever until all of the problems she sees get fixed.

What else do you propose that we do with our time?  Just put up with things as they are without ever trying to fix the things we see as problems?

In this case I think we just need to try to fix her perception of what is  going on here because it really is no problem at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   1 member

×
×
  • Create New...