Jump to content

Article Re: Payment of Tithing


Recommended Posts

40 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

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

Great.  Good for you, and I feel the same.  It might help others though.  Would greater transparency diminish your faith?  Me neither.  That was my point.

43 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

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. 

Ok, well the comment I was responding to suggested that administrative policies toward greater transparency could potentially have a negative impact on faith, so my comment is not a red herring at all.  Take what I say in context of what I am responding to and it is not "silly" at all. 

Link to post
  • Replies 153
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

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

2 hours 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.

Have you communicated this to your congressional leaders?

Link to post
8 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

Have you communicated this to your congressional leaders?

No.  I live in Utah and there is little likelihood that my wishes will ever become law.  My experience with legislators is to encourage and congratulate them when they do something right.  However, initiating some rational change in the law is like pulling teeth, and my efforts in the past have almost always been a failure (and I have a degree in political science).  Without money and influence, nothing gets done.

Link to post
1 hour ago, smac97 said:

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 ............

I have a certificate in accounting and bookkeeping, and I have personally been through several audits by the stake while I was a ward financial clerk.  My takeaway was that it was very professional and it caught some mistakes that I had made..

That article is ho-hum childish and unprofessional.  He gave no valid reasons for lack of transparency.  I like the old adage, "Trust but verify," and have seen it applied systematically when I was a full-time gov't employee.

My question would be, has the LDS Church been harmed in some way by the transparency required by some foreign gov'ts?

  • Like 1
Link to post

I think the real question here if people would stop paying tithing. I don't think most folks who are paying now would stop paying. I bet or  assume that most believe that the church is sitting on a mountain of riches. 

Some of my friends don't like tithing or what it is being used for. So they don't pay, in control of their money and finances and make such decisions as they will.  I know several pay their 10% to fast offerings monthly.

Any member here can continue to pay at gross, net, or livestock,or whatever.  That's up to them.

Edited by Jake Starkey
Link to post
57 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

That article is ho-hum childish and unprofessional.

The article was written by a CPA who used to work for Grant Thornton (i.e., the sixth largest accounting firm in the world).

It was written for his blog, so sure - it's a bit more lighthearted than what you would find in a professional article, but I think he's pretty much spot-on on all of the big bullet points - especially when it comes to addressing many of the misunderstandings people without a financial background have about what 'transparency' actually looks like. 

 

 

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
24 minutes ago, Jake Starkey said:

I think the real question here if people would stop paying tithing.

I think the real question is whether or not the church is what it claims to be. 

If this is really Christ's church restored on the earth, run by his authorized representatives, then those representatives will be held accountable for their actions (including any mistakes they may make) regardless of whether or not they publish any financial statements.

And if this really isn't Christ's church, then who the heck cares how transparent the church is? There are bigger fish to fry. 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
8 hours ago, Amulek said:

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. 

If transparency leads to increased trust and increased contributions (as has been demonstrated in other churches), and we have nothing to hide - why not?

While you may have full trust in our leaders, investigators and those on the border might benefit.   

Edited by pogi
  • Like 2
Link to post
30 minutes ago, Amulek said:

I think the real question is whether or not the church is what it claims to be. 

If this is really Christ's church restored on the earth, run by his authorized representatives, then those representatives will be held accountable for their actions (including any mistakes they may make) regardless of whether or not they publish any financial statements.

And if this really isn't Christ's church, then who the heck cares how transparent the church is? There are bigger fish to fry. 

 

Nope, every man is responsible for his free agency, and the Gospel does not require a man to surrender his will to the GAs to be a good member.  Remember the brother who told Brother Brigham, "I will never apostatize because of you," or words to that effect, "because it is my church, too."

Link to post
6 hours ago, Amulek said:

The article was written by a CPA who used to work for Grant Thornton (i.e., the sixth largest accounting firm in the world).

It was written for his blog, so sure - it's a bit more lighthearted than what you would find in a professional article, but I think he's pretty much spot-on on all of the big bullet points - especially when it comes to addressing many of the misunderstandings people without a financial background have about what 'transparency' actually looks like. 

It was a transparently childish piece.  He said nothing substantive.  I was very disappointed that he took the matter so lightly.  I like the opposite approach, as for example Pres Nelson expecting LDS Church members to show initiative --- instead of the "nanny" approach of unquestioning obedience to your file leader.  That's not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Link to post
6 hours ago, pogi said:

If transparency leads to increased trust and increased contributions (as has been demonstrated in other churches), and we have nothing to hide - why not?

While you may have full trust in our leaders, investigators and those on the border might benefit.   

I just don't what good knowing the exact numbers is going to do anyone. Can't they just open their eyes and see where it is all going?  It's pretty obvious to me. 
In my opinion anyone who demands transparency is already over the border and on his way out of the church. Instead of expecting a worldly material thing like church finances to bring them back, they need to do more on a spiritual level to increase their testimony of the Gospel and of Jesus Christ. 

Link to post
14 hours ago, pogi said:

If transparency leads to increased trust and increased contributions (as has been demonstrated in other churches), and we have nothing to hide - why not?

While you may have full trust in our leaders, investigators and those on the border might benefit.   

Investigators and borderline members might also benefit by seeking to develop a little faith in those who have been called to administer God's church here on the earth. 

 

  • Like 2
Link to post
14 hours ago, Jake Starkey said:

Nope, every man is responsible for his free agency, and the Gospel does not require a man to surrender his will to the GAs to be a good member.  Remember the brother who told Brother Brigham, "I will never apostatize because of you," or words to that effect, "because it is my church, too."

Sorry, but I'm not really understanding your point here - or, at least, not how it relates to anything I have actually said. 

 

Link to post
9 hours ago, Robert F. Smith said:

It was a transparently childish piece.  He said nothing substantive.  I was very disappointed that he took the matter so lightly. 

Whereas, I thought the piece came off with the kind of authentic exasperation that one can only get from a tax accountant who has spent much of his career explaining things to people who clearly don't understand what they are talking about. 

As is the case with many of those who have been pining (whining?) for increased transparency from the church. The overwhelming majority of them are not accountants, and they don't even understand the simple fact that what they are asking for won't actually get them what they are asking for. 

Oh, and speaking of substantive comments, I encourage you to go back and read his comments about materiality - because, again, his commentary here is spot on.

The church is a multibillion dollar organization, and real auditors don't operate like the high counselor who has been tasked with reviewing your ward and who is going to want you to cut a check to Sister So-and-so for one penny because the clerk keyed in the wrong amount when printing her original check. No, a real auditor won't even bother to look at a number if it isn't material. And, as he points out, "[m]ateriality for a 7 billion dollar company would be AT LEAST $10 million dollars, if not more. So as long as you seal less than $10 million in a not totally obvious way, it won't even hit the auditing radar." 

And his comments about cost are also pretty substantive. Preparing financials for public release isn't a cost free enterprise. And as he says in the article, "(b)ased on the many audit bills I’ve seen, though I would expect a full audit to publicly release the LDS Church’s financial statements to cost at least $1 million more than whatever services the LDS Church is already paying for right now. That’s $1 million to, at best, scratch a bit of curiosity. There’s no way you’ll convince me that can’t be better spent elsewhere."

I agree. Why waste the money to prepare and publish reports that aren't going to do anything substantive for anyone? Do the Saints in England sit around on 5th Sundays opining about how much better they sleep at night because the church publishes financials over there? I doubt it. 

 

Edited by Amulek
Fixed for unintended bolding (cursed html)
  • Like 2
Link to post
29 minutes ago, Amulek said:

Investigators and borderline members might also benefit by seeking to develop a little faith in those who have been called to administer God's church here on the earth. 

Are you suggesting that financial transparency would inhibit their faith?  I think it would nurture it.  This has been demonstrated in other churches who practice financial transparency.  Faith is not inhibited, on the contrary increased faith is expressed in the leadership and increased donations have followed.

Shouldn’t we remove any unnecessary potential stumbling blocks to help them along in their faith.  

I don’t think this policy was implemented as a test of faith, and it shouldn’t be treated that way.

Link to post
18 hours ago, pogi said:

Great.  Good for you, and I feel the same.  It might help others though.  Would greater transparency diminish your faith?  Me neither.  That was my point.

Ok, well the comment I was responding to suggested that administrative policies toward greater transparency could potentially have a negative impact on faith, so my comment is not a red herring at all.  Take what I say in context of what I am responding to and it is not "silly" at all. 

I don’t believe that’s an altogether accurate  summary of the comment to which you are responding, but I suppose that is a matter between you and the author of the comment. Perhaps I am misreading it. 
 

I read her as saying that “increased transparency” would not bring “anything of value” to her life because it would remove some of the “uncomfortableness” that might come with paying tithing. That paying tithing is a test of faith and she does not need it being made less so. 
 

Again, my intuition is that it would be an extremely tiny fraction of faithful tithe payers who are of the same mind as Jana Riess on this subject, that the ones fussing over “transparency” are by and large those who, like Analytics, have no stake in the matter or real standing to be upset. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
  • Like 1
Link to post
29 minutes ago, Jake Starkey said:

Financial transparency will bolster not inhibit faith if the Church is handling money appropriately.

I don’t see that assertion as being in any degree self evident, yet you declare it as though it were. 

Link to post
52 minutes ago, pogi said:

Are you suggesting that financial transparency would inhibit their faith?  I think it would nurture it.  This has been demonstrated in other churches who practice financial transparency.  Faith is not inhibited, on the contrary increased faith is expressed in the leadership and increased donations have followed.

Shouldn’t we remove any unnecessary potential stumbling blocks to help them along in their faith.  

I don’t think this policy was implemented as a test of faith, and it shouldn’t be treated that way.

Why shouldn’t it be? 
 

And you keep asserting that “transparency” in other churches has “nurtured” faith, yet you haven’t documented that assertion. 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
Link to post
14 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Why shouldn’t it be? 

Because to do so would be to put words in our leaders mouths as to the reason for the policy.  If you want to treat it as a personal test of faith for whatever strange reason, go ahead, but you have no authority to say so for others. 

17 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

And you keep asserting that “transparency” in other churches has “nurtured” faith, yet you haven’t documented that assertion. 

A couple small examples:

https://ministrytodaymag.com/life/personal-finance/24204-why-the-church-needs-financial-transparency

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-religion-finance/u-s-churches-find-financial-transparency-idUSN2827857820070904


 

Link to post
37 minutes ago, pogi said:

Are you suggesting that financial transparency would inhibit their faith?  I think it would nurture it.  

So are the Saints in England, where the church publishes financials, more nurtured than those here in the States? And does that increased nurturing yield any meaningful results? I'm skeptical that the average Saint in Scotland is any more "nurtured" than your average Saint, say, here in Texas.

 

Quote

This has been demonstrated in other churches who practice financial transparency.  Faith is not inhibited, on the contrary increased faith is expressed in the leadership and increased donations have followed.

Well, there are some substantive differences between other churches and our own. For starters, most other churches are stand-alone entities, so while there may be some loose denominational ties in terms of doctrine, First Baptist Dallas is going to be a completely separate church from First Baptist Allen. And a mainstream protestant who is deciding which church to attend (and is indifferent between a variety of different churches) might very well want to look and see how those different churches operate in various ways when determining which one they want to attend / donate to. 

But I think this goes back to the nonprofit history that I mentioned previously. There have been plenty of televangelists and other church leaders who have been embroiled in financial scandal over the years, so there is a certain amount of pressure for them to be more transparent in order to assure members that funds are being spent wisely. Our church, on the other hand, hasn't had any such similar scandals. By all accounts, even those church leaders who receive a living allowance are not living wildly extravagant lives. In fact, for many of them, they are making less than what they would be able to command in the market.

 

Quote

Shouldn’t we remove any unnecessary potential stumbling blocks to help them along in their faith.  

I don’t think this policy was implemented as a test of faith, and it shouldn’t be treated that way.

I don't believe the policy was implemented as a test of faith either. I think it was implemented for pragmatic reasons. The cost / benefit just isn't there. 

If the church could produce financials with a de minimus cost, then sure - I would say go ahead and put them out. Only I know it won't be a trivial amount. Not by a long-shot.

So that leaves us with the question: how much money would you be willing to spend in order to remove a potential stumbling block for people who are struggling with this issue? How many dollars would you take away from helping others in order to help those who have an issue with this one particular area? 

For me, that number is not going to be a very large one. If it could be done for less than $100K or so, I could probably live with that. Don't get me wrong, it still seems like a waste, but if it would really help people (and I'm a bit skeptical that it really would) then I could tolerate it. Much more than that though and you've probably lost me.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
51 minutes ago, pogi said:

Because to do so would be to put words in our leaders mouths as to the reason for the policy.  If you want to treat it as a personal test of faith for whatever strange reason, go ahead, but you have no authority to say so for others. 

A couple small examples:

https://ministrytodaymag.com/life/personal-finance/24204-why-the-church-needs-financial-transparency

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-religion-finance/u-s-churches-find-financial-transparency-idUSN2827857820070904


 

Absent any authoritative indication otherwise, you have no authority to dismiss it (viewing tithe paying as a personal test of faith) for others or to disparage it as “strange” reasoning.  
 

The underlying message in your examples seems to be that opening up financials to assuage public curiosity can incentivize donations. I suppose that’s fine for those churches, but as applied  to the Church of Jesus Crist of Latter-day Saints, I see that as fostering a strings-attached attitude to paying tithes and offerings and obeying a law of God. That doesn’t amount to nurturing faith (to use your term). 

Edited by Scott Lloyd
Link to post
22 minutes ago, Amulek said:

So are the Saints in England, where the church publishes financials, more nurtured than those here in the States? And does that increased nurturing yield any meaningful results? I'm skeptical that the average Saint in Scotland is any more "nurtured" than your average Saint, say, here in Texas.

The Saints in England and Scotland are as blind as we are as to overall Church financials.  I know that the lack of transparency is a stumbling block for some very close to me, for them it could nurture their faith. For those who have total faith in our leadership, it wont do much. 

28 minutes ago, Amulek said:

Our church, on the other hand, hasn't had any such similar scandals.

I don't believe our church is guilty of any such scandal, but without transparency how do you know that nothing is going on?

32 minutes ago, Amulek said:

I don't believe the policy was implemented as a test of faith either. I think it was implemented for pragmatic reasons. The cost / benefit just isn't there. 

If the church could produce financials with a de minimus cost, then sure - I would say go ahead and put them out. Only I know it won't be a trivial amount. Not by a long-shot.

So that leaves us with the question: how much money would you be willing to spend in order to remove a potential stumbling block for people who are struggling with this issue? How many dollars would you take away from helping others in order to help those who have an issue with this one particular area? 

For me, that number is not going to be a very large one. If it could be done for less than $100K or so, I could probably live with that. Don't get me wrong, it still seems like a waste, but if it would really help people (and I'm a bit skeptical that it really would) then I could tolerate it. Much more than that though and you've probably lost me.

My parents sacrificed a year and a half of their lives to serve in a temple visitor's center for free.   I am sure it wouldn't be hard to find volunteers. 

 

Link to post
1 hour ago, Jake Starkey said:

Financial transparency will bolster not inhibit faith if the Church is handling money appropriately.

What does "financial transparency" mean to you?

Thanks,

-Smac

 

Link to post
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...