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Article Re: Payment of Tithing


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5 hours ago, Scott Lloyd said:

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. 

The church is totally free to be as opaque as it wants, just as everybody is free to donate as little or as much as they want. I'm not disputing any of that.

My point is merely that financial transparency is in fact a mainstream value and when donating members such as Jana Riess happen to share those values and wish that their own church lived up to them, they shouldn't be dismissed as speaking in bad faith.

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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

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 r

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 motiv

14 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 am merely relaying the fact that financial transparency among churches and non-profits is a mainstream value. If you don't believe me, Google it.

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Recently during a talk given by Sister Nelson she told a story about a man who paid tithing on money he hoped to earn one day. 

I don't like that she did that because in a way it's saying to pay more than 10%. 

Another talk I recall, not by Sister Nelson, someone saying to pay more for more blessings. 

 

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34 minutes ago, smac97 said:

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

Thanks,

-Smac

Of course.  And those who want to keep it all confidential will mostly succeed in their desires, until forced by gov't to comply.  I think that tax-exempt status should carry with it a certain level of disclosure.

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28 minutes ago, Analytics said:

I am merely relaying the fact that financial transparency among churches and non-profits is a mainstream value. If you don't believe me, Google it.

 You can use Google to support any idea, it's just a matter of what you search for. 

Try searching for something like "should tithing donations be confidential" and you will get something like this:

https://rationalfaiths.com/tithing-donations-should-be-confidential/

Or try searchuing for something like: "Should church financial records be confidential" and you will get something like this:

https://trainchurchleaders.com/practicum/confidentiality-church-records.htm

 

Of course there are people who believe church financial records should be transparent so you will also see comments from people who believe that if you search for it.

There must needs be opposition in all things, so you will always be able to find comments on both sides of any argument.

 

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57 minutes ago, Analytics said:

The church is totally free to be as opaque as it wants, just as everybody is free to donate as little or as much as they want. I'm not disputing any of that.

My point is merely that financial transparency is in fact a mainstream value and when donating members such as Jana Riess happen to share those values and wish that their own church lived up to them, they shouldn't be dismissed as speaking in bad faith.

She is as free as a bird to be wrong in her fault finding, but wrong she is. And she is not compelled to pay tithing. I think the Church will somehow survive either way. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
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38 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Of course.  And those who want to keep it all confidential will mostly succeed in their desires, until forced by gov't to comply.  I think that tax-exempt status should carry with it a certain level of disclosure.

So does this comment mean you are on board with what Jana Reiss was saying about transparency of our church records?  Do you want our church records to be transparent?  To anybody?  Who do you think should be able to see them.

I don't really care what you say I'm just a little bit curious about your opinion.

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Jana's profession is basically blogging, and the most popular blogs are the ones that are critical of something.  Those produce the most shares and the most comments.  Critical blogs are good for Jana's marketing (and there is nothing wrong with that). 

I'm not saying that as a way to say that she doesn't believe what she's saying, because I'm sure she does.  I'm saying that because understanding her motivation for all of her critical blogs might be helpful.  The truth is that as a blogger and content provider, she likely looks at everything in her life, including her relationship with the church, with a thought on how she can talk about it in a way that will get the most reactions from readers (while staying true to her personal opinions, I'm sure). It's just good business. 

The best thing to do with blogs where you don't appreciate the views of the author is to ignore them.  That is what the author really cares about.  They don't really care if you agree and they don't really care if you disagree, either way works for them as long as you are vocal about it (and hopefully link to their article or blog when you are).  What hurts them is when no one bothers either way. 

As for her beliefs about the problems with paying tithing without knowing exactly where it's going, I don't agree.  Tithing as a principle seems to be as much about faith as it is about anything else.  Exercising faith and developing faith.  And not just in God but in His church and His leaders as well.  Having faith in the people that Christ has called to lead His church is difficult, and sometimes (rarely) we are let down in our faith (as God knew we would be, because mortals are sometimes dumb and sometimes bad and can choose to do bad/dumb things).  Being let down is uncomfortable.  Not being in control is uncomfortable.  Having faith is often uncomfortable.  

Jana seems to be advocating that we remove a bit of that uncomfortableness from our lives by decreasing some of the faith that comes with paying tithing.  From my perspective, making my life more comfortable in that way has a downside with no measurable upside.  Yes, I would know where the money goes, but for that I would be exchanging a chance to practice and develop faith in my life.  It doesn't seem like a great trade to me, as I would gain nothing of any worth to me.  

Edited by bluebell
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53 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

And those who want to keep it all confidential will mostly succeed in their desires, until forced by gov't to comply.

It's the First Presidency who makes the decisions regarding this.  Do you wish the government to force the First Presidency to divulge church financial information?

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5 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

It's the First Presidency who makes the decisions regarding this.  Do you wish the government to force the First Presidency to divulge church financial information?

Yes!  They demand it from me!

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17 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

It's the First Presidency who makes the decisions regarding this.  Do you wish the government to force the First Presidency to divulge church financial information?

This already takes place in various countries, and that is how Quinn got some of his excellent data.  I think that the U. S. Congress should likewise pass legislation requiring disclosure of specific financial information as a condition of text-exempt status.

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Knowing how progressive President Nelson has been, I wouldn't be surprised to see more financial transparency at some point in his presidency.  I think that keeping it hidden hurts more than it helps. 

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33 minutes ago, Ahab said:

So does this comment mean you are on board with what Jana Reiss was saying about transparency of our church records?  Do you want our church records to be transparent?  To anybody?  Who do you think should be able to see them.

I don't really care what you say I'm just a little bit curious about your opinion.

I'm not interested in Jana's opinion, nor why she expresses it.  I have been saying for many years that the LDS Church should disclose basic financial data in accordance with its tax-exempt status, and this should apply to all religious organizations.

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43 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I'm not interested in Jana's opinion, nor why she expresses it.  I have been saying for many years that the LDS Church should disclose basic financial data in accordance with its tax-exempt status, and this should apply to all religious organizations.

I think I am on board with what you are saying here, if I understand you correctly. Just enough to comply with the IRS rules regarding tax exempt status, at least here in America.  I wouldn't necessarily consider that to be "transparent" but it would be clear enough to suit my expectations of what the American public should feel entitled to see.  If other governments in other countries demand more from the Church then I suppose it is up to our Church officials to decide if it is worth it to show them some more.

Edited by Ahab
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I found an old Audit report as an example of what used to be reported. Although this did report expenditures it did not report the income.
Would such a high level report like this be sufficient now?

finances.thumb.jpg.fda34bef92c0f4bbdac5e437c70327fb.jpg

 

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1 hour ago, bluebell said:

Jana seems to be advocating that we remove a bit of that uncomfortableness from our lives by decreasing some of the faith that comes with paying tithing.  

Another way to look at it is that greater transparency leads to greater confidence, which strengthens faith.  I don't think that the saints who paid tithing before 1959 (when the church's financial expenditures were made available) had any less faith in the principle of tithing than those who pay today.  I don't think that the saints who paid tithing after 1959 had any increase in blessings that comes from paying tithing either - the promises are the same to both. 

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13 minutes ago, JAHS said:

I found an old Audit report as an example of what used to be reported. Although this did report expenditures it did not report the income.
Would such a high level report like this be sufficient now?

finances.thumb.jpg.fda34bef92c0f4bbdac5e437c70327fb.jpg

 

Sufficient to who?  Depends on who you ask, I suppose.  I think some people want to know how much income/revenue the Church receives, as well as how much it spends/expends and how much goes into savings accounts.

When people say "transparent" that usually means they want to be able to see EVERYTHING!

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1 hour ago, Jeanne said:
1 hour ago, ksfisher said:

Do you wish the government to force the First Presidency to divulge church financial information?

Yes!  They demand it from me!

Well, the government has in interest in obtaining your financial information for reasons which don't apply to religious institutions.

You, as an individual, are a constituent member of the state. And, as such, the state has an interest in making sure you comply with the law - which includes taxation and your appropriate participation therein.

The church, however, exists prior to and is constitutionally recognized as being separate / apart from the state. So there's really no need for the government to require churches to disclose financial data when there isn't anything they plan on doing with that information. Why entangle church and state without a good reason for doing so?

 

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19 minutes ago, pogi said:

Another way to look at it is that greater transparency leads to greater confidence, which strengthens faith.  I don't think that the saints who paid tithing before 1959 (when the church's financial expenditures were made available) had any less faith in the principle of tithing than those who pay today.  I don't think that the saints who paid tithing after 1959 had any increase in blessings that comes from paying tithing either - the promises are the same to both. 

“Transparency” would not bring me any greater confidence or faith than I already have. 
 

I believe blessings come commensurate with personal faith irrespective of the administrative policies that are in place at the moment. Your argument about whether faithful tithe payers received greater blessings after 1959 is a red herring — and silly one at that. 

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2 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Of course.  And those who want to keep it all confidential will mostly succeed in their desires, until forced by gov't to comply.  I think that tax-exempt status should carry with it a certain level of disclosure.

I can appreciate that.  What that "certain level" is, what it means, has yet to be explained to me.

I remain fairly persuaded by, among other things, the arguments and observations in this article (linked to in the OP): The Folly of LDS Church Financial Transparency

Thanks,

-Smac

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46 minutes ago, pogi said:

Another way to look at it is that greater transparency leads to greater confidence, which strengthens faith.  I don't think that the saints who paid tithing before 1959 (when the church's financial expenditures were made available) had any less faith in the principle of tithing than those who pay today.  I don't think that the saints who paid tithing after 1959 had any increase in blessings that comes from paying tithing either - the promises are the same to both. 

For sure my perspective is not the only perspective.  

And speaking from my perspective, our world, and how society has since shaped us culturally, is different now than it was in the past.  I believe that includes how we handle issues of faith and issues of doubt as church members.  What was helpful in the past is not always helpful in the present or future.  The same can be said for what is unhelpful.  We are different people than members in previous eras were and we relate to issues differently as well.  We have different hangups and different weaknesses due to cultural baggage than they did.  We probably have different strengths than they did as well.   

And none of that is meant to say that it's doctrinal that there is no transparency.  It's a policy and it certainly could change in the future.  If it does, no one will lose blessings because of that.  My perspective is from the issue of pushing for change, or needing that change to make tithing a positive experience, and how, for me, that would be an issue of faith more than anything else.

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2 hours ago, Jeanne said:

Yes!  They demand it from me!

How do they demand transparency from you?  As far as I am aware, the church takes your word for it, whatever the topic, doesn't it?

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