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Wall Street Journal Feb 8 2020 Article on Church Investment Funds


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The title is a tad click-baitey, but it's an eruditic, intelligent sounding, and pretty accurate form of click-baitey.

The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World.

My favorite bits: 

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A former employee and the whistleblower in his report said they heard Mr. Clarke refer to the second coming of Jesus Christ as part of the reason for Ensign Peak’s existence. Mormons believe before Jesus returns, there will be a period of war and hardship.

Mr. Clarke said the employees must have misunderstood his meaning. “We believe at some point the savior will return. Nobody knows when,” he said. When the second coming happens, “we don’t have any idea whether financial assets will have any value at all,” he added. “The issue is what happens before that, not at the second coming.”

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From time to time, church leaders in the ecclesiastical arm that oversees Ensign Peak arranged lunch meetings with Ensign Peak employees. During Q&A sessions at the end, employees sometimes asked what the money might be used for, according to one of the former employees, who attended. Church leaders responded by saying they wanted to know that, too, according to this person.

“It was so amorphous,” the former employee said. “It was always, ‘When we have direction from the prophet.’ Everyone was waiting, as it were, for direction from God.” The prophet is the president of the church.

 

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8 minutes ago, cinepro said:

he has already told us what to do once we amass huge amounts of wealth.

One person's "amassed huge amounts of wealth", is a worldwide church with a spendy global missionary plan's "prudent savings".  $100 billion sounds big until you divide it by the number of LDS in the church, then it's like seven bucks a member.

Scale your perspective, cinepro.

 

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3 minutes ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

$100 billion sounds big until you divide it by the number of LDS in the church, then it's like seven bucks a member.

Actually, more like $7,000 per member ... but that is still a fraction of my annual tithing.

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My bad.  

$7k per member.  The overall point is still valid, especially since you're catching the church at the fattest point of the stock market in our lifetimes.  Could shrink to $2k/member if it was going to be needed desperately.

Edited by LoudmouthMormon
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There are a lot of ways to minimize the size of this fund. Divide by total number of members and you get roughly $7000.00 per. Which does not appear to be much. You could divide by total number of people in the world and just get $12.50, chump change. On the other hand we could divide by the number of endangered species in the world (41,000) which would give us 2.4 million to spend protecting each species. What a dent that would make. Or maybe build 125 500 bed hospitals throughout the world.  Or maybe just a whole bunch of cheap medical clinics at 200 K each.We could fund the Red Coss in perpetuity just off the interest of 100 Billion and still have a sizable emergency fund.

 

Yes you can take a really large number like membership and divide it into that $100B and make it look small, or you can look at what some of the options are to do with it and see how much good could be accomplished. 

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1 minute ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

Ok math people, check the math.  $100 billion, divided by 15 million members.   Is that not around seventy bucks per LDS?

$100,000,000,000 / 15,000,000 = $6,666.67.

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And "you're counting the inactives" isn't a valid defense here.

Agreed, and for many reasons. As the Encyclopedia of Mormonism notes, two-thirds of all currently active members have been inactive at some point.

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1 minute ago, CA Steve said:

Yes you can take a really large number like membership and divide it into that $100B and make it look small, or you can look at what some of the options are to do with it and see how much good could be accomplished. 

Interesting that you didn't mention building dozens, possibly hundreds, of temples in Africa. I know that would be near the top of the list for many of the African Saints whom I know.

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3 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

$100,000,000,000 / 15,000,000 = $6,666.67.

We either need more members or more money, because that amount per member is the wrong number to have.  We need to change this before an end-times focused anti-Mormon web site gets a hold of this information.  :) 

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3 minutes ago, Hamba Tuhan said:

Interesting that you didn't mention building dozens, possibly hundreds, of temples in Africa. I know that would be near the top of the list for many of the African Saints whom I know.

Interesting that you take a positive comment about the good that can be done with those funds and try and paint it as negatively as possible.

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2 minutes ago, CA Steve said:

Interesting that you take a positive comment about the good that can be done with those funds and try and paint it as negatively as possible.

Nope, just pointing out that people -- faithful Saints included -- make assessments based on differing, and therefore often competing, lists of priorities. 

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1 hour ago, cinepro said:

But don't we already know what the Lord would do with a bunch of money? 

We often see this picture in Church, and we assume that Jesus is "the Church", and the rich man is us or someone else.  But if "the Church" is waiting for Jesus to tell them what to do, then the Church can't be Jesus in that picture.  So they must be the rich man.  So we know what Jesus would tell them to do, and I suspect there hasn't been any additional revelation because he has already told us what to do once we amass huge amounts of wealth.

Oh, yeah, this is the financially intelligent thing to do for an organization....spend yourself into penury and forget about caring for the needs of members and the poor that will still exist. Right, got it. Really deep thinking going on here.

There is a complete difference between an organization and an individual. What did Jesus tell Judas when he complained about how money was spent? There is just so much wrong with this type of thinking.

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2 hours ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

One person's "amassed huge amounts of wealth", is a worldwide church with a spendy global missionary plan's "prudent savings".  $100 billion sounds big until you divide it by the number of LDS in the church, then it's like seven bucks a member.

Scale your perspective, cinepro.

 

Dividing 100,000,000,000 by 7,000,000 adult, active members I get 14,286, or $14,286 per member.  Where did I go wrong?

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3 hours ago, cinepro said:

But don't we already know what the Lord would do with a bunch of money? 

No we don't. Presuming to know the mind of God is colossal hubris. While Jesus gave individualized advice to one rich man he did not give it to all. Peter still had his boat to go fishing with after Christ died. Why did he not sell it at some point if that was the general counsel of Jesus? Many take the roll of Judas. When Jesus was anointed by a woman who spent a fortune getting precious oil Judas rebuked and asked why it was not given to the poor instead. The answer was that this was also important.

By some people's standard Joseph should have melted down the gold plates and given the money to the poor instead of translating them and letting them go to waste giving them back to Moroni. The truth is no one may know what the money is for. Even the prophet may not know. They may be following a revelation given to President Hinckley or Hunter or Benson or Kimball waiting for instructions on what is to be done with it.

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59 minutes ago, Sanpitch said:

Dividing 100,000,000,000 by 7,000,000 adult, active members I get 14,286, or $14,286 per member.  Where did I go wrong?

Do you really believe that there are 7,000,000 adult active members?

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3 hours ago, LoudmouthMormon said:

One person's "amassed huge amounts of wealth", is a worldwide church with a spendy global missionary plan's "prudent savings".  $100 billion sounds big until you divide it by the number of LDS in the church, then it's like seven bucks a member.

Scale your perspective, cinepro.

 

100B is just what they have stashed.  There are also vast real estate holdings.  All of this is above and beyond the operational expenses.

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8 minutes ago, sunstoned said:

100B is just what they have stashed.  There are also vast real estate holdings.  All of this is above and beyond the operational expenses.

True, I can't imagine how much, I believe it would boggle all of our minds. Maybe they will save the day one day..not sure. But the here and now is also important as well, may even prevent destruction.

Edited by Tacenda
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7 hours ago, Thinking said:

Do you really believe that there are 7,000,000 adult active members?

No, but That's close enough to get an idea of what's involved.

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The article says:

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Fund and church officials said they haven’t violated any tax laws, and that the church organization as a whole, of which Ensign Peak is a part, puts nearly $1 billion a year toward humanitarian causes and charities. 

 

Last October (2019) President Nelson told us that the church has provided over $2 billion in humanitarian aid since 1984 ($2 billion / 25 years = $80 million per year on average):

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Since that time [1984], Latter-day Saint Charities has provided more than two billion dollars in aid to assist those in need throughout the world.

Available at: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2019/10/46nelson?lang=eng

 

The difference in the numbers is significant.  I'm inclined to believe President Nelson over the WSJ.  Any idea on why the WSJ claims so much more giving?  

 

 

 

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13 hours ago, cinepro said:

But don't we already know what the Lord would do with a bunch of money? 

We often see this picture in Church, and we assume that Jesus is "the Church", and the rich man is us or someone else.  But if "the Church" is waiting for Jesus to tell them what to do, then the Church can't be Jesus in that picture.  So they must be the rich man.  So we know what Jesus would tell them to do, and I suspect there hasn't been any additional revelation because he has already told us what to do once we amass huge amounts of wealth.
 

Jesus-and-rich-man.jpg

Note this painting depicts an instance of individual instruction given during His mortal ministry. We know that there are other instances of instruction about the handling of money, such as paying taxes and what to do with the "spikenard' and "the bag", etc.. Things are a lot different today given His current status and the state of His kingdom, but He does continue to provide timely and pertinent instruction to individuals on their scope of stewardship, and the First Presidency/Twelve on theirs. These instructions can change from time to time, just like those on the Liahona.

Edited by CV75
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21 minutes ago, hoo rider said:

The article says:

 

Last October (2019) President Nelson told us that the church has provided over $2 billion in humanitarian aid since 1984 ($2 billion / 25 years = $80 million per year on average):

Available at: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2019/10/46nelson?lang=eng

 

The difference in the numbers is significant.  I'm inclined to believe President Nelson over the WSJ.  Any idea on why the WSJ claims so much more giving?  

 

 

 

Big numbers again, but $80,000,000 divided by 7,000,000 active adults is about $11.42 or $0.95 per month.

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27 minutes ago, hoo rider said:

The article says:

 

Last October (2019) President Nelson told us that the church has provided over $2 billion in humanitarian aid since 1984 ($2 billion / 25 years = $80 million per year on average):

Available at: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2019/10/46nelson?lang=eng

 

The difference in the numbers is significant.  I'm inclined to believe President Nelson over the WSJ.  Any idea on why the WSJ claims so much more giving?  

 

 

 

My guess is the donations for fast offerings is what is alluded to in the WSJ piece.   Pres Nelson was alluding to moneys given to humanitarian aid that are not for things like helping rich Mormon families in Farmington to pay off their new yard expenses, but are rather for things like disaster relief to places like Haiti.  

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