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Article Re: Payment of Tithing


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9 minutes ago, Ahab said:

In this case I think we just need to try to fix her perception of what is  going on

I don't think it's possible to fix someone else's perception. 

No matter how many times you point out a half full glass to someone, if they see a half empty glass you can't change that.

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5 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

I don't think it's possible to fix someone else's perception. 

No matter how many times you point out a half full glass to someone, if they see a half empty glass you can't change that.

i can see it both ways, both half full and half empty. Sometimes all it takes is to point out what we see and that somehow helps other people to see it the way we see it, too, sometimes.

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4 hours ago, smac97 said:

So it's all about Jana Riess.

Most blogs are all about the blogger. It is an eternal principle that hot air expels at others' expense, especially those who breathe it in.

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4 hours ago, smac97 said:

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. ... 

I find it hard to believe you are arguing in good faith here. Since when do financial standards only apply to organizations with evidence of wrongdoing?

According to the National Council of Nonprofits: 

"As tax-exempt “public charities," charitable nonprofits embrace the values of accountability and transparency as a matter of ethical leadership, as well as legal compliance."

You are highly encouraged to read the rest here.

https://www.councilofnonprofits.org/tools-resources/financial-transparency

If the church were doing a stellar job of handling its finances, it would be transparent. By definition.

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7 minutes ago, Analytics said:

According to the National Council of Nonprofits: 

"As tax-exempt “public charities," charitable nonprofits embrace the values of accountability and transparency as a matter of ethical leadership, as well as legal compliance."

So the National Council of Nonprofits sets the standard by which the Lord's Church operates? 

 

8 minutes ago, Analytics said:

If the church were doing a stellar job of handling its finances, it would be transparent. By definition.

Who created this definition? 

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4 hours 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. 

According to the US code Title 26, section 170,  Tithing is a charitable contribution. 

Actually in, George Thompson vs Commissioner the tax court ruled that tithing paid to the Church if Jesus Christ of Latter Day saints is not considered dues or a necessary expense.

From the decision

"Petitioner introduced evidence, including a biblical passage from the Old Testament, to support his position. See Malachi 3:8–10. This brings to mind another biblical passage suggesting an answer to this type of dilemma: ‘‘Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’’ Matthew 22:21. However, even this formulation presents the dilemma of determining which things fall into the two respective categories. While we may be incapable of determining what belongs to God, we believe that we can, and must, decide what is Caesar’s. Therefore, we will consider this issue using the latter approach based on existing procedures and precedents."

 

 

 

Edited by Danzo
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4 hours ago, smac97 said:

...............................................

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.”

........................................................................

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.
.................................. 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."

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

Jana Reiss aside, Mike Quinn (and other scholars) should not have to ferret out the facts through clever back door methods and extrapolation.  All of LDS Church finances should be available for independent scholarly inspection

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5 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

All of LDS Church finances should be available for independent scholarly inspection

I'm not really sure this is as self evident as you may believe.  Why does the church need to open it's books to scholars? 

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6 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

I'm not really sure this is as self evident as you may believe.  Why does the church need to open it's books to scholars? 

Comes under the heading of "transparency." which I regard as a public good.  It also buttresses the Law of Common Consent.

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16 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

I'm not really sure this is as self evident as you may believe.  Why does the church need to open it's books to scholars? 

I don't know why a scholar would want access to that information.

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33 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

So the National Council of Nonprofits sets the standard by which the Lord's Church operates? 

No. The National Council of Nonprofits does nothing more than accurately transmit and articulate society's standards, and no, the LDS Church does not live up to those standards.

 

33 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

Who created this definition? 

The standards emerged from people who do the financial reporting of non-profits.

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2 minutes ago, Analytics said:

No. The National Council of Nonprofits does nothing more than accurately transmit and articulate society's standards, and no, the LDS Church does not live up to those standards.

 

The standards emerged from people who do the financial reporting of non-profits.

So why does the Lord's church need to follow these people?

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19 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

So why does the Lord's church need to follow these people?

The LDS Church can do whatever it wants. But if churches  are being subsidized with tax exemptions in the same way that charitable non-profits are, society has the right to expect and legally require the same level of transparency that are expected and required from non-profits. Most churches do this voluntarily. The LDS Church chooses not to. That is their choice, but they aren't in very good company on this front.

If you really want to understand this, just google "nonprofits financial transparency" or "financial transparency for churches" and read the articles that come up. I'm representing an extremely mainstream position about how organizations that receive tax breaks ought to behave. The church can hold itself to a lower standard and only do the bare minimum that complies with the law. Their choice.

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44 minutes ago, Analytics said:

The LDS Church can do whatever it wants. But if churches  are being subsidized with tax exemptions in the same way that charitable non-profits are, society has the right to expect and legally require the same level of transparency that are expected and required from non-profits. Most churches do this voluntarily. The LDS Church chooses not to. That is their choice, but they aren't in very good company on this front.

 

In the United States, society, does not "expect and legally require the same level of transparency that are expected and required from nonprofits" from churches.

The situation may be different in other countries (not sure where you are from). 

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When members see it as their money instead of not at all their money but how generous is that God allows us to keep 90% of everything He gives us, and really about bonding ourselves to Him rather than money at all,  it is something quite different.

I don't consider tithing as a charitable donation.  I suspect other members don't either, and give generously to a whole lot of causes to fulfill that societal good.

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1 hour ago, The Nehor said:

Probably not so why worry about it?

Because of the disclaimer that is printed on the tithing slip.

"Though reasonable efforts will be made to use donations as designated, all donations become the Church's property and will be used at the Church's sole discretion to further the Church's overall mission."

This statement along with non-transparency make it so that no matter how the funds are used, the Church's accountants can claim that all funds are being used appropriately.

"Based upon audits performed, Church Auditing is of the opinion that, in all material respects, contributions received, expenditures made, and assets of the Church for the year 2018 have been recorded and administered in accordance with approved Church budgets, policies, and accounting practices. The Church follows the practices taught to its members of living within a budget, avoiding debt, and saving against a time of need." (April 2019 Conference)

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5 hours ago, Thinking said:

Because of the disclaimer that is printed on the tithing slip.

"Though reasonable efforts will be made to use donations as designated, all donations become the Church's property and will be used at the Church's sole discretion to further the Church's overall mission."

This statement along with non-transparency make it so that no matter how the funds are used, the Church's accountants can claim that all funds are being used appropriately.

"Based upon audits performed, Church Auditing is of the opinion that, in all material respects, contributions received, expenditures made, and assets of the Church for the year 2018 have been recorded and administered in accordance with approved Church budgets, policies, and accounting practices. The Church follows the practices taught to its members of living within a budget, avoiding debt, and saving against a time of need." (April 2019 Conference)

I think this concern also falls under “First World Problems” that I do not lose sleep over.

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10 hours ago, Analytics said:

The LDS Church can do whatever it wants. But if churches  are being subsidized with tax exemptions in the same way that charitable non-profits are, society has the right to expect and legally require the same level of transparency that are expected and required from non-profits. Most churches do this voluntarily. The LDS Church chooses not to. That is their choice, but they aren't in very good company on this front.

If you really want to understand this, just google "nonprofits financial transparency" or "financial transparency for churches" and read the articles that come up. I'm representing an extremely mainstream position about how organizations that receive tax breaks ought to behave. The church can hold itself to a lower standard and only do the bare minimum that complies with the law. Their choice.

Those who are spun up over the Church’s policies with regard to tithes and offerings are certainly free not to pay them. As a believing member of the Church, I readily and willingly pay them with implicit trust that there will be appropriate disposition of the receipts. After a lifetime of doing so, I have never had occasion to suspect my trust was misplaced. 

I presume the vast majority of tithe payers are of the same mind as I on this matter. 
 

To the extent I care at all about whether the Church is “transparent” with its books, I am glad the Church leaders are prudent and circumspect about the information they choose to make public. A lot of malevolent individuals are out and about who would bring harm to the Church if they could and would use any information they could get their hands on to accomplish their nefarious ends. 
 

Finally, as much as I trust the leaders of the Church, I distrust unbelievers who fuss over the degree of “transparency” the Church exercises. 

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9 hours ago, The Nehor said:

No, society does not have that right. It is not a fundamental right like life or liberty and it is not a legislated right either. You take tax deductions and that is a government subsidy so I have a right to see your credit card statements. My statement is as legally valid as yours....in other words, not at all.

You might think it would be fair to set that as a standard and that is fine. If you want that to change talk to your congressional leaders. Just don’t get on a soapbox suggesting the church is violating some fundamental societal obligation or that someone’s rights are being trampled.

I wish I could Like this statement a dozen times.

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44 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Finally, as much as I trust the leaders of the Church, I distrust unbelievers who fuss over the degree of “transparency” the Church exercises. 

THIS!!!

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13 hours ago, Analytics said:

If you really want to understand this, just google "nonprofits financial transparency" [...] and read the articles that come up.

The rise of financial transparency in the nonprofit sector was largely a self-interested preservation measure enacted following a bevy of financial scandals in the early 90's (e.g., William Aramony / United Way). The goal behind increasing financial transparency was to stave off two unwanted outcomes: (1) decreasing contributions from donors as a result of lost trust, and (2) increased government involvement / oversight due to the misconduct.

If it weren't for those bad actors 20 years ago, nonprofits today would be just as opaque with their financials as they had been previously. Having burned their trust with the public, however, they have since been pressured to move to a more open reporting system in order to assure donors that funds are actually being used responsibly.

Fortunately, the church hasn't had any such problems when it comes to mismanaging funds. President Nelson and his wife are no Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker. As such, there simply isn't the same sort of pressure for the church to be more open about its finances. 

And, to be honest, I really don't see the need for us to do so. 

 

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20 hours ago, smac97 said:

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.

I think that's certainly one of the driving elements. The presumption is that no organization - especially a large one - will be able to have an absolutely perfect financial record, so if we were given access to the church's financials then critics could then comb through them and find examples where funds have been mismanaged.

Plus, you will have all of the Monday morning quarterbacking about how monies could have been better spent. That hundred dollars which was used to pay a California family's water bill could have been used to buy five more wheelchairs for disabled kids in Africa. Think of the children!!! 

 

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16 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Jana Reiss aside, Mike Quinn (and other scholars) should not have to ferret out the facts through clever back door methods and extrapolation.  All of LDS Church finances should be available for independent scholarly inspection

Ah, well.  Reasonable minds can disagree about such things.

Thanks,

-Smac

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