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Article Re: Payment of Tithing


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4 minutes ago, Jake Starkey said:

That is merely your opinion.  Challenge away, Scott.

Do you know what sophistry is? It’s fallacious reasoning masquerading as being sound. “Perception is reality” is another example. 

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23 minutes ago, Scott Lloyd said:

If any such change happens, I trust the change will be well considered and driven by divine inspiration, not grumbling, outside fault finding or some misguided “perception-is-reality” group think.  

Of course, you know that any such change is highly unlikely.  That is inherent in the group-think and inertia of nearly all organizations.  I think that God expects more of us than simply blind acceptance, but we usually disappoint Him.  In fact, ironically, the only way we are likely to find a way out of our humdrum go-along-to-get-along ways is through prophetic urging -- such as currently provided by a particularly dynamic prophet and his entourage.  Maybe we will only start to get it right when we arrive on the other side.  In the meantime, there is always Baskin-Robbins.  8)

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28 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Scott, "perception is everything."  Reality is just a word.

Did mski/Mark do this to you or did you think so before you met him?

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1 hour ago, Scott Lloyd said:

Do you know what sophistry is? It’s fallacious reasoning masquerading as being sound. “Perception is reality” is another example. 

There you go inferring again.  Look up both words and think for a bit, please.

Edited by Jake Starkey
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3 hours ago, pogi said:

If tithing income and expenditures was entirely localized, that might help, but the way I understand tithing to work, the information available says little about how the church uses their tithing. 

I'm guessing you haven't actually reviewed the financial statements published by the church in Great Britain then. From the financial statements produced last year (see, e.g., here) we can tell that the church spent £4M than what was received in income there. 

In other words, all of the tithing dollars (er...pounds / euros) donated by our English brothers and sisters stayed right there in the UK, and their use is subject to review. 

So, my question remains: Is that producing more nurtured Saints across the pond? And, if so, in what way?

I get that, like us, they don't fully understand how the church is spending tithing funds worldwide, but is that really stumbling block for them when they know where their own monies are going (and are still a net beneficiary of church financing)?

 

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Scholars agree that it is not enough data to grasp what is really going on overall. 

Well, some of the scholars who are interested in researching the church's financial information (e.g., the Tanners) happen to be hostile to the church. They would like to paint the church more as a business than a religious endeavor, so I can live with them being left in the dark as to how things are ultimately being run.

As for other, serious scholars, I don't see how this one aspect of church governance is really an impediment to their study. So far as I know, there is no secret conclave of 'tithing scholars' out there somewhere who are just lamenting their inability to review the church's finances. 

 

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4 hours ago, Amulek said:

I don't believe you grasp how much information you would need (and how much it would cost) in order to know that "nothing" is going on with an organization this large. 

Maybe, but doesn't that prove my point here? 

Not really.

Again, this is about cost/benefit analysis. Could the church (or Walmart or the US Government) ensure that there is absolutely zero fraud, theft, mismanagement, etc. of funds in any way? Anywhere? Ever?

Sure. But it would be prohibitively expensive to do so. 

At some point it becomes more costly to endlessly work at ensuring "nothing is going on" than it is to just let whatever amount of 'goings on' which might occasionally happen...just happen. 

I mean, if someone in the Church Office Building prints off their primary class coloring sheets on Friday before going home from work, well yeah, they may have just stolen 3¢ worth of toner from the church. But how much money would it cost to ensure that absolutely no toner is ever used for an unauthorized activity? On any printer owned by the church? Anywhere in the world? A ridiculous about of time, money, and effort - way more than what you would lose from the behavior in the first place.

And it's the same thing when it comes to asking the church to publish it's financials. Those are only going to catch things that are really big and painfully obvious. And they are going to be expensive to produce. So why waste the money producing them when you could use those funds for other, more worthwhile activities? 

And remember, just because the church isn't publishing financials, doesn't mean they aren't doing anything. The church is already using one of the 'big four' accounting firms to perform internal audits of our nonprofit, for profit, and (major) educational entities. That means controls are in place and processes are reviewed regularly by independent, licensed CPA's and other financial / technical professionals; in short, you can rest assured that pretty much everything is above board. 

 

Edited by Amulek
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3 hours ago, Jake Starkey said:

Of course it is, imho, and you cannot show that it is not.

If a business is well managed, do people assume this is because God directs them or do they assume the business directors made intelligent choices in who to appoint to run the business?  If the Church is well managed financially, there is no need to assume that is because it is directed by God instead of men who are decent leaders as far as I can see.

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1 hour ago, Robert F. Smith said:

The article already said most of that, and now you are repeating yourself ad nauseam, Amulek. I even think that you are entirely sincere, just as sincere as you are wrong in each instance. 

Well, you are welcome to actually attempt to demonstrate where I, or the author of the article, are actually wrong on some specific subject rather than just saying we are. 

 

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Some of what you say is merely semantic gameplaying, as when you lecture me on the definition of "government," which you clearly do not understand -- as though the Church is not a government, and that only civil gov't is real government.

I wasn't lecturing you about anything. You're the one who went off on open access laws, totalitarianism, and whatnot. 

But if you want to talk about transparency with respect to "government" in any of it's various meanings, then let's start in the home. Are you transparent with your children as to how much money you make each month, how much you spend on debts, and how much money you plan on spending on each of them for Christmas this year? If not, why not? Certainly if openness and transparency are objectively good, then there would be no reason to keep such information from your loved ones. Right?

 

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And therein perhaps we find your major blindspot:  No need whatsoever for a religious government, since all that is required is for sonorious commands to be given from the mountaintop.  In your world.  "All is well in Zion," no matter what, despite 2 Ne 28:21-25,

Give me a break. The mountaintop has annual audits performed by Deloitte.

Please feel free to come back when you've had a chance to educate yourself more about this topic.

 

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9 minutes ago, Amulek said:

Well, you are welcome to actually attempt to demonstrate where I, or the author of the article, are actually wrong on some specific subject rather than just saying we are. 

I wasn't lecturing you about anything. You're the one who went off on open access laws, totalitarianism, and whatnot. 

But if you want to talk about transparency with respect to "government" in any of it's various meanings, then let's start in the home. Are you transparent with your children as to how much money you make each month, how much you spend on debts, and how much money you plan on spending on each of them for Christmas this year? If not, why not? Certainly if openness and transparency are objectively good, then there would be no reason to keep such information from your loved ones. Right?

Give me a break. The mountaintop has annual audits performed by Deloitte.

Please feel free to come back when you've had a chance to educate yourself more about this topic.

Just like the author of that article, you present a childish argument in place of sober reflection, and then you give yourself away in asserting that children do not need to know anything about daddy's finances.  The example discloses where you are really coming from:  Pure paternalism.  Members of the Church are mere children, and should not be taken seriously.

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1 hour ago, Ahab said:

Did mski/Mark do this to you or did you think so before you met him?

I got that long before Mark did, but we do both think alike on this.  You are very perceptive to see it.

I had a boss in the part of gov't I worked for years ago.  His favorite saying was "perception is everything."  Why?  Because the public doesn't care at all what the facts are (nor most of those on this board), but they are concerned with appearances, and would complain bitterly if their perceptions were not satisfied.  He frequently used me to take the pressure off him, to placate the whiners and complainers.  Nuff said?

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1 hour ago, Amulek said:

I'm guessing you haven't actually reviewed the financial statements published by the church in Great Britain then. From the financial statements produced last year (see, e.g., here) we can tell that the church spent £4M than what was received in income there. 

In other words, all of the tithing dollars (er...pounds / euros) donated by our English brothers and sisters stayed right there in the UK, and their use is subject to review. 

So, my question remains: Is that producing more nurtured Saints across the pond? And, if so, in what way?

I get that, like us, they don't fully understand how the church is spending tithing funds worldwide, but is that really stumbling block for them when they know where their own monies are going (and are still a net beneficiary of church's financing)?

Again, these local statements are not adequate to determine corruption or misuse within the church.  If tithing was locally applied only then these reports would show mismanagement in that they are spending way more than they are earning, but we can't really conclude that because you have to look at the big-picture, which we simply can't see.  

1 hour ago, Amulek said:

Not really.

Actually it does.  

You said previously:

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Fortunately, the church hasn't had any such problems when it comes to mismanaging funds. 

And this:

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

Yet you acknowledge later:

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I don't believe you grasp how much information you would need (and how much it would cost) in order to know that "nothing" is going on with an organization this large. 

So, at first you claim the church has never mismanaged funds and has had no scandals, but then you contradict yourself and acknowledge my point that we can't really know if the church is mismanaging funds if it is all hidden. 

It is kind of silly to suggest that the church should not be subject to pressure to be more open because there is no evidence of mismanagement when all the evidence is kept hidden from view - hence the pressure to be more open. 

Edited by pogi
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27 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

I got that long before Mark did, but we do both think alike on this.  You are very perceptive to see it.

I had a boss in the part of gov't I worked for years ago.  His favorite saying was "perception is everything."  Why?  Because the public doesn't care at all what the facts are (nor most of those on this board), but they are concerned with appearances, and would complain bitterly if their perceptions were not satisfied.  He frequently used me to take the pressure off him, to placate the whiners and complainers.  Nuff said?

When I joined the Church, as I grew in learning more and more, I learned the value of "and" and addition instead of just thinking in terms of "either/or".  And I also learned the value of being very careful when using words like "always" and "only" and "all" and "everything" and "just".

Consider this comment, again, for example: Scott, "perception is everything."  Reality is just a word.

Perception really is not everything. It might seem like it, sometimes, to some people, but in reality that is not all there is.  

I still like to use those other words, though, sometimes.  I just try to be very careful about it to try to avoid giving the wrong perception of what I really think and believe.

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41 minutes ago, Robert F. Smith said:

Just like the author of that article, you present a childish argument in place of sober reflection, and then you give yourself away in asserting that children do not need to know anything about daddy's finances.  The example discloses where you are really coming from:  Pure paternalism.  Members of the Church are mere children, and should not be taken seriously.

No, I was just attempting to put the lie to your nonsense about how openness and transparency are some sort of objective good in any form of "government." 

So I asked if you were transparent with your own finances within the "government" of your own home. Are you (it's a sincere question)?

I think we all know the answer. And it's going to be the same as if I had asked you about how open you are with your finances in the "government" of your workplace. Or the "government" of other charitable organizations you may participate in. 

But that's all just a tangent.

As I said before, if you would like to substantively address any specific point / argument that either the author of the article or I have made, you are more than welcome to do so. 

I would much rather have a discussion about actual arguments, but if you want to persist in just labeling anything you happen to disagree with as "childish" then I will abandon any further attempt at serious discussion with you on this topic and just return in kind.

 

Edited by Amulek
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16 minutes ago, Ahab said:

Perception really is not everything. It might seem like it, sometimes, to some people, but in reality that is not all there is.  

How do you know that there is more than perception?  You take that on faith, but you can't know something without observing it or perceiving it in some way.  Revelation itself is a form of perception.  All knowledge comes from perception.  If anything exists beyond perception, how could you possibly know? 

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14 minutes ago, pogi said:

How do you know that there is more than perception?  You take that on faith, but you can't know something without observing it or perceiving it in some way.  Revelation itself is a form of perception.  All knowledge comes from perception.  If anything exists beyond perception, how could you possibly know? 

For example: On the one hand, there is my perception of something that happened, and on the other hand, there is what actually happened.

Hopefully my perception of what happened is in harmony or agreement with what actually happened, in which case I could then honestly say that I saw the truth as it happened, but there is a chance that my perception could be off in some way without me ever realizing it.

Do you think I should maybe ask you if my perception is true?  What if your perception is off and you do not realize it?  And why should I ever ask anybody to verify if what I perceived is the truth according to what actually happened?  What if I just thought I saw what I thought I saw?

Point of the lesson:  It is possible that our perceptions might be off in some way in regard to the truth, but what can we do to make sure we know the truth?  Do you think maybe asking God for wisdom might help?  Why am I asking you this question?  Is this rhetorical, maybe?

Edited by Ahab
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32 minutes ago, Ahab said:

Point of the lesson:  It is possible that our perceptions might be off in some way in regard to the truth...

Perceptions evolve.  In that I will agree.  But that simply suggests to me that our realities evolve too.  My reality is not stagnant, it is in flux and malleable.  What is real for me is what I perceive.

Sure, I have faith that there is more than I perceive out there, but I can’t know it until I perceive it in some way; t is not my reality until I perceive it.

We are never going to agree on what “truth” means, and will only talk past each other in our own realities/perceptions...

If there is reality beyond perception, what makes it real for us if not our perception?  How can we know it?

 

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1 minute ago, pogi said:

We are never going to agree on what “truth” means, and will only talk past each other in our own realities/perceptions...

If there is a reality outside of perception what makes it real for us if not our perception?  How can you know, beyond perception, that you have reached the ultimate and absolute reality?

 

We might never agree on what "perception" means, either, but that doesn't mean I can't see a difference between what I perceive on my own and what God assures me is true so that I can then compare the two different perspectives.

The problem I see with this whole "perception is all there is" idea is that I can see there is a difference or distinction between what people can perceive on their own and reality as well as the additional insights people can perceive through revelations from God.

The word "perception" comes very close to my understanding of the word "'understanding" and I believe it is wise to not lean on our own "understanding".  Which to me means it is not wise to lean on our own perceptions. 

We need something more than our own perceptions, if there is more, and I have a personal testimony from God to assure me that there is more.  There is reality, and then there is what we perceive, and with God's help I can see how we can know what is true.

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14 minutes ago, pogi said:

Again, these local statements are not adequate to determine corruption or misuse within the church.  If tithing was locally applied only then these reports would show mismanagement in that they are spending way more than they are earning, but we can't really conclude that because you have to look at the big-picture, which we simply can't see.  

If you're talking about corruption or misuse with the church worldwide, then yes - you are correct that you can't get that from just the UK statements.

But from the perspective of the UK Saints, that doesn't really matter. The only thing that matters is how their own tithing was spent. Isn't that the hangup you were bringing up originally - that they can't see how their tithing is being used? Only they are able to see how all of their tithing was spent - it's all in the report. 

 

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So, at first you say the church has never mismanaged funds and has had no scandals, then you acknowledged my point that we can't really know that if it is all hidden. 

It is kind of silly to suggest that the church should not be subject to pressure to be more open because there is no evidence of mismanagement when all evidence is kept hidden from view.  Seems like something a dishonest person would say who is trying to hide something to be honest. 

I never said that the church has never mismanaged funds. In the early days of the church this happened quite a bit in fact.

But, in the context of the transparency movement which has taken off over the last 20 years in reaction to the nonprofit scandals of the early 90's, then yeah - the church hasn't had any major financial scandals during that time frame. So there just hasn't been the same sort of pressure on church leaders to be more transparent in the same way that leaders of other ministries / mega-churches have been.

But there is a difference between saying there have been no major scandals in the recent past and saying that there has been absolutely no mismanagement whatsoever. 

There is always going to be some mismanagement. There are always going to be some mistakes. It's inevitable - especially with large organizations.

But what matters isn't that there be zero mismanagement whatsoever. What matters is that there are no significant or ongoing / unaddressed / uncorrected mistakes. 

And we can have confidence that the latter is being addressed because, in addition to making use of their own internal audit division, the church hires an independent accounting firm to come in and audit their policies, practices, and procedures every single year. And it's not some fly-by-night, no-name, rubber stamp shop either. It's literally one of the largest four firms in the entire flipping world. 

This is the thing that is absolutely maddening about these kinds of discussions. It's hard to get people to grasp that the church is already doing everything it needs to in order to ensure that it's finances are handled responsibly. The only thing they aren't doing is paying that big, expensive firm who is coming in every year to make sure everything is on the up-and-up an additional big wad of cash to also produce publicly accessible reports indicating the same. 

At the end of the day, what really matters? That things are being handled appropriately? Or that things are being handled appropriately and that the church spend a ton of money (every year) to also have a document produced (that 99% of people won't really understand in the first place and which the other 1% honestly don't care to spend their free time looking at) which says things are being handled appropriately?

Obviously, you know how I feel. I think it would be a complete waste of time and money to produce audited financials for the church. YMMV.

 

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4 minutes ago, Ahab said:

We might never agree on what "perception" means, either, but that doesn't mean I can't see a difference between what I perceive on my own and what God assures me is true so that I can then compare the two different perspectives.

The problem I see with this whole "perception is all there is" idea is that I can see there is a difference or distinction between what people can perceive on their own and reality as well as the additional insights people can perceive through revelations from God.

The word "perception" comes very close to my understanding of the word "'understanding" and I believe it is wise to not lean on our own "understanding".  Which to me means it is not wise to lean on our own perceptions. 

We need something more than our own perceptions, if there is more, and I have a personal testimony from God to assure me that there is more.  There is reality, and then there is what we perceive, and with God's help I can see how we can know what is true.

I edited my post since you have responded.  You might want to read it to better understand where I am coming from.

I would only respond that “what God assures you to be true” is your perception.  You perceive it that way, therefore it is your reality whether the source be God, your neighbor, or your dog - once you perceive it, it is YOUR perception/reality.

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8 minutes ago, pogi said:

I edited my post since you have responded.  You might want to read it to better understand where I am coming from.

I would only respond that “what God assures you to be true” is your perception.  You perceive it that way, therefore it is your reality whether the source be God, your neighbor, or your dog - once you perceive it, it is YOUR perception/reality.

No, I am making a distinction between my own perception and what God assures me is true.  And I am also making a distinction between my perception of reality and reality, itself.

You say I perceive "it" that way, but what are you calling the "it"?  What am I perceiving when I perceive something?

And I am also contending against the idea that any perception of reality is ALL there is.  Perception is not EVERYTHING.  

More and more I perceive more problems from mingling the philosophies of men with scripture.  I am perceiving lots of problems with that.

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"Fortunately, the church hasn't had any such problems when it comes to mismanaging funds."
One such problem among the no "such problems" was the embezzlement of church funds by John Q. Cannon, 2d counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, in the 1880s.  The tale is told in

The Tragic Matter of Louie Wells and John Q. Cannon

Kenneth L. Cannon II
Journal of Mormon History
Vol. 35, No. 2 (Spring 2009), pp. 126-190
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10 minutes ago, Ahab said:

No, I am making a distinction between my own perception and what God assures me is true.  And I am also making a distinction between my perception of reality and reality, itself.

You say I perceive "it" that way, but what are you calling the "it"?  What am I perceiving when I perceive something?

And I am also contending against the idea that any perception of reality is ALL there is.  Perception is not EVERYTHING.  

More and more I perceive more problems from mingling the philosophies of men with scripture.  I am perceiving lots of problems with that.

Yes, it is your perception that "what God assures [you] is true" that it is real.  I am not telling you that it is not so, just that your belief in that in no way obligates anyone else in believing it.  I do believe that you believe it is so

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