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James huntsman (jon's brother) sues church for 'fraud'


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11 minutes ago, Vanguard said:

I'm not sure what you're driving at by questioning where 'the line' might be? You mean an objectively determined line? 

As luck would have it, Analytics made a reply with a pretty good way to not only frame but also manage the issue:

22 minutes ago, Analytics said:

The Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA) has thousands of accredited member organizations which all comply with this. You can look up the members here: ECFA. These churches all agree to the following:

"Every organization shall provide a copy of its current financial statements upon written request and shall provide other disclosures as the law may require. The financial statements required to comply with Standard 3 must be disclosed under this standard.

An organization must provide a report, upon written request, including financial information on any specific project for which it sought or is seeking gifts."

They also explain why they require this of themselves. A pertinent reason is the following: "Public disclosure protects Christian ministry from the danger of claiming ownership of God’s gifts. It also protects us from the temptation to acquire assets as our lasting goal."

See here: ECFA Standard 5 - Transparency

For example, here is a link to the consolidated financial statements of the  Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Microsoft Word - {F6B9E0B0-36F5-4859-8333-7186912CC09D} (billygraham.org)

To your next part:

11 minutes ago, Vanguard said:

Who would make that decision other than the general leadership of the Church in consultation with 'you know Who'? Almost by definition, one man's objective line is another's vague subjectivity...

I'm not too keen to entertain that argument that only the leadership can know. I think that fundamentally, human institutions need safeguards. 

Edited by Meadowchik
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5 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Yes, well, when you know the answer, it's hard not to hit the buzzer.

It's not like this is a new topic.

No, that's not the context.  How much money he has donated has no legal relevance.

No, they don't say that.  You say that, and more power to you.

Most critics, however, refuse to define "accountability" and "transparency" and such in any meaningful way, with the obvious exception of "more than what the Church is doing now" (which is an evergreen favorite).

I do recognize what you have posted.

I'm not sure we know that at all.  

I'm also not sure that James Huntsman didn't make an informed decision in the first instance.

Thanks,

-Smac

Yet you just said "So perhaps you can understand my skepticism and resistance to such obviously agenda-driven demands (particularly from critics, who are notably not contributing to the Church)"

You continue to shift the philosophical argument to a legal one when it fits your needs.

 

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7 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Could the LDS church be sued for this same reason but in a different jurisdiction (country) that has fewer legal  protections for religious organizations? I'm wondering how this would work out on the international scene.

My diocese publishes the yearly audit report on its website. The most recent one is here.

Does this report contain satisfactory information to be deemed transparent?

If I remember correctly a fraud lawsuit against the LDS church was brought in the UK a few years back. It didn't go far.

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1 minute ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Yet you just said "So perhaps you can understand my skepticism and resistance to such obviously agenda-driven demands (particularly from critics, who are notably not contributing to the Church)"

Yes.  Non-donors are buttinskies.  They have no say, legal or otherwise, in how the Church manages is funds.

James Huntsmand having donated more doesn't give him more of a say than other donors, though.  That was my point.

1 minute ago, HappyJackWagon said:

You continue to shift the philosophical argument to a legal one when it fits your needs.

I can utilize philosophical and legal arguments.  Nothing restricts me to the use of just one or the other.

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 minutes ago, smac97 said:

No, that's not the context.  How much money he has donated has no legal relevance.

I didn't say it had "legal relevance." I said it has relevance to this thread, and how you claim the concerns are invalid because they are offered by "critics, who are notably not contributing to the Church." Please don't dismiss James Huntsman's concerns because he is "notably not contributing to the Church." Not on this thread. 

2 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Most critics, however, refuse to define "accountability" and "transparency" and such in any meaningful way, with the obvious exception of "more than what the Church is doing now" (which is an evergreen favorite).

That is false. If the Church made a good-faith effort to meet well-defined and broadly accepted standards of transparency, then this wouldn't be an issue. You fantasize that they would always want "more than what the Church is doing now," but you have no basis for thinking this. None.

 

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4 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

As luck would have it, Analytics made a reply with a pretty good way to not only frame but also manage the issue:

To your next part:

I'm not too keen to entertain that argument that only the leadership can know. I think that fundamentally, human institutions need safeguards. 

There are a number of safeguards in place.  See here:

Quote
FINANCIAL ADMINISTRATION.

On July 8, 1838, a revelation was received by the Prophet Joseph Smith making known the method for the disbursement of tithing received by the Church: "Verily, thus saith the Lord, the time is now come, that it [tithing] shall be disposed of by a council, composed of the First Presidency of my Church, and of the bishop and his council, and by my high council" (D&C 120:1).

Subsequently, the Council on the Disposition of Tithes, consisting of the First Presidency of the Church, the quorum of twelve apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric, was established. This council meets regularly and oversees the expenditures of all Church funds worldwide. It approves budgets and financial strategy and establishes financial policy.

Two subcommittees of the Council on the Disposition of Tithes are the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee. Both committees consist of the First Presidency, selected members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and members of the Presiding Bishopric.

The Church Budget Office provides staff support to the First Presidency and gives overall administrative direction to the preparation of the annual Church budget. At the beginning of each annual budgeting cycle, budget guidelines are given to Church administrative department heads, international offices, missions, temples, and other units. Within these guidelines, budgets are constructed at the lowest levels of accountability and scrupulously reviewed through various levels of management and councils. The Budget Committee meets periodically to provide in-depth budget review and to formulate budget recommendations to the Council on the Disposition of Tithes.

The Appropriations Committee meets each week. All expenditure requests throughout the world, except those few which have been delegated to a lower level of administration by the Council on the Disposition of Tithes, are reviewed, checked to make certain the request is within budget, and appropriated. Expenditures that have been delegated are reported to the committee.

FINANCIAL CONTROLS. Financial controls are administered through the use of financial policy, budgeting, organization structure, and regular, comprehensive audits. Key financial policy comes from the Council on the Disposition of Tithes. Additional financial policy and procedure directives are issued by the Finance and Records Department, which, under the direction of the First Presidency and the Presiding Bishopric, is responsible for the administration of treasury accounting/controllership, taxation, and risk-management functions.

The Church has an Audit Committee composed of experienced businessmen who are not associated with the Church as employees or General Authorities. This committee reports directly to the First Presidency of the Church and works closely with the Finance and Records Department and the Auditing Department to ensure strict adherence to ethical principles and rigid financial policies and procedures. The Auditing Department also reports directly to the First Presidency of the Church and thus maintains its independence from all other departments. Its staff of certified public accountants performs ongoing audits of finance, operation, and computer systems for Church departments and other Church-controlled organizations. Responses to all audits are required and are monitored.

PARTICIPATION AND INVESTMENTS IN BUSINESS. The First Presidency has established other boards and committees to oversee the management of the Church's investments and reserves (see Business: Church Participation in Business). Each of these key committees is chaired either by a member of the First Presidency or by another appointed General Authority.

The Investment Policy Committee is chaired by the First Presidency and includes the president of the Council of the Twelve, other members of the Twelve as appointed, and the Presiding Bishopric. Its purpose is to establish investment policy and strategy and to review key investment decisions.

The Deseret Management Corporation (DMC) is a corporation with its own board of directors. DMC functions as a holding company for most of the commercial businesses owned by the Church. These companies pay all taxes that are paid by commercial corporations. Some properties are also held for reasons other than investment. In addition to protecting the surroundings of sacred properties, such investments may be maintained to support the ecclesiastical efforts of the Church.

We have the Council on the Disposition of Tithes, the Budget Committee, the Appropriations Committee, the Church Budget Office, the Finance and Records Department, the Auditing Department, the Audit Committee, the Investment Policy Committee, the Deseret Management Corporation and its board of directors, the First Presidency of the Church, the quorum of twelve apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric, "other boards and committees to oversee the management of the Church's investments and reserves," and on and on.

Moreover, we have a robust missionary program.  And meetinghouses.  And temples.  And educational and humanitarian efforts.  And Fast Offerings.  And so on.  We can see where a lot of the Church's money is spent.

We also have a generalized knowledge that the General Authorities live very moderate lifestyles, particularly given the huge amounts of money to which they have access.  They aren't in it for the money.

We also have tens of thousands of bishops and stake presidents and other local leaders who work for free.

We also have periodic assurances from the leaders of the Church that it "has been living within its means."

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.”

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.”
...
At the same time, Mormon authorities did not act like corporate giants, enriching themselves on profits.

Through the years, they paid themselves less than what others in their employ made, Quinn says. Today, that is sometimes barely half as much as some of the church’s skilled bureaucrats.

CEOs of other top nonprofits, including Harvard, Yale and the United Way, make almost 10 times as much, he says. “It was truly humbling to see these men who preside over an institution making tens of billions of dollars turning [the funds] back to the benefit of the rank and file.”

That fulfills what Mormon leader Brigham Young, known as the “Lion of the Lord,” said in 1875. At that time, Joseph Smith’s successor and his apostles signed a document, decrying America’s approach to unregulated capitalism, including the “growth of wealth in the hands of a comparatively few individuals.”

The country’s “priceless legacy,” they wrote, was “endangered by the monstrous power which this accumulation of wealth gives to a few individuals and a few powerful corporations.”

By pocketing such relatively small salaries and using church assets to serve the members, Quinn says, Mormon leaders have “maintained the spirit of that attitude.”

See also here:

Among the distinctions the LDS Church is known for are its missionaries in white shirts, its towering temples and saying next to nothing about its money.

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.
...
The historian, who was excommunicated from the LDS Church in 1993 for his writings about early Mormon polygamy, says 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.”

"{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."

But none of this matters to critics, because no quantum of information will ever be enough.  Because the objective is not to find information, but to find fault.

Thanks,

-Smac

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I have to admit that the transparency issue is kind of troubling to me.  I get where the church is coming from in not wanting members and others to misinterpret their finances.  However, I think that full disclosure would work out fine in the end.  Perhaps some might disagree with what the church is doing with tithing funds, but I think once one realizes that financial strength was always an eventuality the fallout will subside.   Given that basic contributions are a set percentage regardless of need at any given time means that the church runs at a surplus and gains in wealth over time, assuming wise investments are made with the surplus.  This is what has happened and so here we are.

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Posted (edited)
11 minutes ago, Analytics said:
Quote

No, that's not the context.  How much money he has donated has no legal relevance.

I didn't say it had "legal relevance."  I said it has relevance to this thread, 

This thread is about Huntsman's lawsuit.  About his legal arguments.

Quote

and how you claim the concerns are invalid because they are offered by "critics, who are notably not contributing to the Church."

I'm not saying the concerns are invalid.  I'm saying the critics are not really situated to have a say in how the Church spends donations when the critics are not making donations.

Huntsman, for that matter, has a de minimis amount of standing in an everyday sense, but not in a legal one.  He donated the money.  He didn't earmark it, so the Church is at liberty to use it for legal and appropriate purposes.  And there is no evidence that it has strayed from this.

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Please don't dismiss James Huntsman's concerns because he is "notably not contributing to the Church." Not on this thread. 

I would have thought it obvious that I wasn't referring to Huntsman, since he has donated to the Church.  He is filing a lawsuit about funds he donated when he was a member of the Church.  Past tense.  It's still a frivolous lawsuit (and I think he knows it, as do his attorneys - and shame on them for that), but his concerns pertain to the past, not current or prospective use of funds.

Quote
Quote

Most critics, however, refuse to define "accountability" and "transparency" and such in any meaningful way, with the obvious exception of "more than what the Church is doing now" (which is an evergreen favorite).

This is false.

It is quite true.

Quote

If the Church made a good-faith effort to meet well-defined and broadly accepted standards of transparency, then this wouldn't be an issue.

Malarky.  The critics will always demand more.  Again, this is not about finding information, it's about finding fault.

Quote

You fantasize that they would always want "more than what the Church is doing now," but you have no basis for thinking this. None.

I have many years of interacting with hundreds of critics.  Cumulatively they behave in the ways I have described.  They give little or no credit to the Church and its members for the good they do, and instead endlessly carp and faultfind.

Their entitled to do so, of course.  Free Speech and all that.  But it's pretty reasonable to surmise that the critics would only respond to any increased measure of transparency with "Not good enough.  More."  Ad infinitum.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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7 minutes ago, smac97 said:

But none of this matters to critics, because no quantum of information will ever be enough.  Because the objective is not to find information, but to find fault.

That is false. There is no objective. Not to find information. Not to find fault.

The issue is that there are in fact best practices for financial transparency, and the Church does not meet them. It doesn't even come close. It doesn't even try. That is the issue.

Because of information leaked by whistleblowers, some members now feel the Church was dishonest with them about how it was using its donations. 

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6 minutes ago, smac97 said:

This thread is about Huntsman's lawsuit.  About his legal arguments.

I'm not saying the concerns are invalid.  I'm saying the critics are not really situated to have a say in how the Church spends donations when the critics are not making donations.

In what way is your claim that "critics are not really situated to have a say in how the Church spends donations when the critics are not making donations" a legal argument that is relevant to Huntsman's lawsuit? 

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18 minutes ago, Meadowchik said:

I think that fundamentally, human institutions need safeguards. 

I grew up in the South, and my understanding is that Mormons have horns and can shoot lasers out of their eyes. 

It stands to reason then that we are not, in fact, human.

Therefore, we need none of these so-called safeguards you are talking about.

QED

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On a more serious note, I think it strains credulity to assume that the Church doesn't have safeguards in place. 

The likelihood that the Church is both notoriously stingy (e.g., hoarding untold millions) and also recklessly managing its funds without any significant degree of oversight (e.g., lacking safeguards) seems to be vanishingly remote.

 

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26 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Yes.  Non-donors are buttinskies.  They have no say, legal or otherwise, in how the Church manages is funds.

James Huntsmand having donated more doesn't give him more of a say than other donors, though.  That was my point.

I can utilize philosophical and legal arguments.  Nothing restricts me to the use of just one or the other.

Thanks,

-Smac

Yes, but when you're called out because one argument doesn't work (these critics don't contribute anyway) you seamlessly switch to the other (well legally he doesn't have standing) as if that was your argument all along.

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9 minutes ago, Harry T. Clark said:

I have to admit that the transparency issue is kind of troubling to me.  I get where the church is coming from in not wanting members and others to misinterpret their finances.  However, I think that full disclosure would work out fine in the end.  Perhaps some might disagree with what the church is doing with tithing funds, but I think once one realizes that financial strength was always an eventuality the fallout will subside.   Given that basic contributions are a set percentage regardless of need at any given time means that the church runs at a surplus and gains in wealth over time, assuming wise investments are made with the surplus.  This is what has happened and so here we are.

Especially when Pres. Hinckley said it's only for the members to know where their contributions go in an interview a few years ago. But members that donate really don't know, just the recipients. And those recipients are such a secret group that I'm sure the imagining can get out of control. So you're right, it would sure clear things up. 

 

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29 minutes ago, MiserereNobis said:

Ha, nice one!

Just to clarify, the pay cut only applies to those at the Vatican. My diocese hasn't had any pay cuts (but we also got money from the PPP, so that probably helped).

To play it safe, I'm assuming you know that none of the leaders I mentioned receive any salary from the LDS church.  I was trying to make myself laugh, not criticize the Vatican.  The church does employ people who are paid a salary who have to worry about pay cuts and layoffs.

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14 minutes ago, Analytics said:

That is false. There is no objective. Not to find information. Not to find fault.

The issue is that there are in fact best practices for financial transparency, and the Church does not meet them. It doesn't even come close. It doesn't even try. That is the issue.

Because of information leaked by whistleblowers, some members now feel the Church was dishonest with them about how it was using its donations. 

I think the real issue is rooted in moral foundations theory, not the "fact" that there are multiple organizations endorsing sets of best practices that churches might choose from. Thus, the Church may not seem to meet them, or come close, or try to meet them (pick your polemic). Generally, members feel the way they do more because of their moral foundation profile/makeup than because of information presented out of context.

 

Edited by CV75
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8 minutes ago, Amulek said:

I grew up in the South, and my understanding is that Mormons have horns and can shoot lasers out of their eyes. 

It stands to reason then that we are not, in fact, human.

Therefore, we need none of these so-called safeguards you are talking about.

QED

--------------------------------------------------------------

On a more serious note, I think it strains credulity to assume that the Church doesn't have safeguards in place. 

The likelihood that the Church is both notoriously stingy (e.g., hoarding untold millions) and also recklessly managing its funds without any significant degree of oversight (e.g., lacking safeguards) seems to be vanishingly remote.

 

I grew up in the South too, and indeed heard the same speculations, all the while having exactly zero horns on my head. Checkmate!

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5 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Especially when Pres. Hinckley said it's only for the members to know where their contributions go in an interview a few years ago. But members that donate really don't know, just the recipients. And those recipients are such a secret group that I'm sure the imagining can get out of control. So you're right, it would sure clear things up. 

It’s been clear to me as long as I can remember. The Church isn’t hiding it’s finances from the critics. It is hiding them from the members.

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Is there widespread evidence that the church is refusing to help members in need?  If so, I can see why it would be troubling to see the church is hording money at the expense of neglecting its members.  Last year our ward paid $0 out in fast offerings.  We were chastised by the stake for being stingy so this year we paid several hundred dollars to fix a member's broken down car so we won't get shamed next year.  Well, he had lost his job so he did need the car fixed too.  The local bishops storehouse has been donating food and other items to non-LDS charities which implies there isn't enough demand from members.  I don't live in a wealthy area, but apparently everyone paid close attention to the lessons on self reliance in the past.

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13 hours ago, The Nehor said:

This is incorrect. The US Tax code has exemptions for churches and other organizations. Specifically excluding churches from taxation was challenged and the Supreme Court ruled that such an exemption is allowable.

So you are correct that it is not taxed now but the Supreme Court has not ruled that such an exemption is mandatory or required by the Constitution. If Congress were to revise the tax code they could tax churches (and various other non-profits).

Nope.  Not taxed now, and cannot be taxed:

In McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 327 (1819).  Daniel Webster argued: “An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy,”

U.S. Supreme Court in Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105, overturned a state license tax as unconstitutional:

Quote

 

“It could hardly be denied that a tax laid specifically on the exercise of those freedoms would be unconstitutional. Yet the license tax imposed by this ordinance is, in substance, just that.

It is a license tax — a flat tax imposed on the exercise of a privilege granted by the Bill of Rights.

A state may not impose a charge for the enjoyment of a right granted by the Federal Constitution.”

 

 

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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3 minutes ago, Analytics said:
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But none of this matters to critics, because no quantum of information will ever be enough.  Because the objective is not to find information, but to find fault.

That is false.

It is overwhelmingly accurate and true.

3 minutes ago, Analytics said:

There is no objective. Not to find information. Not to find fault.

So critics endlessly rail against the Church, but have no objective in doing so?

Are you sure?

3 minutes ago, Analytics said:

The issue is that there are in fact best practices for financial transparency, and the Church does not meet them.

This is a fair point.  And it's one you have made a few times.  I acknowledge it, even though I don't really agree with it or its underlying premise. 

I think there are ample safeguards regarding the Church's funds: The Council on the Disposition of Tithes, the Budget Committee, the Appropriations Committee, the Church Budget Office, the Finance and Records Department, the Auditing Department, the Audit Committee, the Investment Policy Committee, the Deseret Management Corporation and its board of directors, the First Presidency of the Church, the quorum of twelve apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric, "other boards and committees to oversee the management of the Church's investments and reserves," and on and on.

I think there is ample evidence that the safeguards are working.  We have no evidence that the Brethren are enriching themselves or anyone else.  We have no evidence of financial malfeasance or waste.  We have no evidence that the Church is anything other than an excellent steward of its finances.

So I disagree that the "issue" is about the "financial transparency."  Such transparency is not an end unto itself, right?  It's intended to help religious institutions avoid financial missteps/misdeeds.  But the Church has a long track record of avoiding financial missteps/misdeeds.  So complaining about your preferred means not being utilized, when the intended ends have been otherwise satisfied by alternative (and effective and legitimate) means, doesn't seem to add up to much.

The issue, then, is not about "financial transparency."  Instead, the issue is, as Kathleen Flake put it, "about competing views of what should be done with Church money and who gets to say so.”  that brings us back to James Huntsman's lawsuit.  You'll note he hasn't said jack squat about "best practices" or "financial transparency."  He's not demanding either.  He's suing for "fraud," which I think is a pretext for railing against the Church in the "competing views" way Flake describes.

3 minutes ago, Analytics said:

It doesn't even come close. It doesn't even try. That is the issue.

This is wildly, flagrantly misleading.  Again, we have the Council on the Disposition of Tithes, the Budget Committee, the Appropriations Committee, the Church Budget Office, the Finance and Records Department, the Auditing Department, the Audit Committee, the Investment Policy Committee, the Deseret Management Corporation and its board of directors, the First Presidency of the Church, the quorum of twelve apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric, "other boards and committees to oversee the management of the Church's investments and reserves," and on and on.

We have annual reports from the auditing committee.

We can see the beautiful temples, the tens of thousands of missionaries, the thousands of church buildings, the Church's humanitarian and philanthropic efforts, the canneries and storehouses, Welfare Square, Humanitarian Square, and so on.

We have zero evidence that the Brethren are enriching themselves.

We have zero evidence that the Church's funds are being mismanaged, and instead have considerable evidence that the Church is an excellent steward of donated funds.

We have Bishop Caussé 2020 statement that the Church "gives nearly $1 billion dollars in humanitarian and welfare aid around the world."

We have all sorts of secondary and supplemental evidences, too.  D. Michael Quinn's book.  Some of the materials stolen at the behest of Ryan McKnight and published by him.  

But in the end, none of this matters.  In the end, the critic finds fault with the Church.  "It doesn't even come close.  It doesn't even try."

The objective here is not to find information, but to find fault.

I know I'm repeating myself, but then, so are the critics.

3 minutes ago, Analytics said:

Because of information leaked by whistleblowers, some members now feel the Church was dishonest with them about how it was using its donations. 

Much of that angst is based more on the gloss laid on the "information" by the critics, who have a vested interest in making the Church look as horrible as possible.  Because their objective is to oppose the Church, to alienate its members from it.  To weaponize anything and everything they can find against the Church.

To find fault.

Thanks,

-Smac

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17 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

If I remember correctly a fraud lawsuit against the LDS church was brought in the UK a few years back. It didn't go far.

Fraud lawsuits, particularly where the only legal claim is one for fraud (as opposed to fraud being one of a number of interrelated but mutually independent legal claims), are pretty rare, and for good reason.  Fraud is a very difficult claim to prove, both as to its prima facie elements and the requisite "clear and convincing" standard of proof.

Mr. Huntsman's lawsuit presents a single claim for "fraud."  It's pretty weak tea.

Thanks,

-Smac

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20 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:
Quote

I can utilize philosophical and legal arguments.  Nothing restricts me to the use of just one or the other.

Yes, but when you're called out because one argument doesn't work (these critics don't contribute anyway) you seamlessly switch to the other (well legally he doesn't have standing) as if that was your argument all along.

Well, no.  I can walk and chew gum at the same time.  And I can present arguments that supplement and support each other.

And I don't think anyone has shown that my legal argument "doesn't work."  I don't really have much of a legal argument, except to say that Mr. Huntsman's lawsuit is poorly drafted and virtually certain to fail.  Has anyone "shown" that this is not the case?

Thanks,

-Smac

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3 hours ago, gopher said:

Is there widespread evidence that the church is refusing to help members in need?  If so, I can see why it would be troubling to see the church is hording money at the expense of neglecting its members.  Last year our ward paid $0 out in fast offerings.  We were chastised by the stake for being stingy so this year we paid several hundred dollars to fix a member's broken down car so we won't get shamed next year.  Well, he had lost his job so he did need the car fixed too.  The local bishops storehouse has been donating food and other items to non-LDS charities which implies there isn't enough demand from members.  I don't live in a wealthy area, but apparently everyone paid close attention to the lessons on self reliance in the past.

It is the official policy of the LDS Church, and it has been the practice of the Church to contribute food and money to both LDS and non-LDS charitable causes.  Millions of dollars are expended to non-LDS causes every year.  The odd practices of your own bishop do not determine the actual policy and practices of the LDS Church at large.   Over and above that, we just concluded a food drive in our wards in Utah County to supply the local secular Food Bank with lots of food.

Your stake Pres probably needs to take a closer look at your bishop to determine whether he actually believes in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Edited by Robert F. Smith
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At the risk of ignoring the specific legal case under discussion, @Analytics You cite a few sources claiming that 1x to 3x of annual budget is a good guide for a Church rainy day fund. What do you make of Aaron Miller's (who "teaches nonprofit management and ethics in the Romney Institute at BYU") claim that it is quite common for charitable endowments to be about 20x the size of their annual budget. (see the section "Is saving $1B a year for a rainy day fund wrong or abnormal?" here: https://publicsquaremag.org/editorials/the-100-billion-mormon-church-story-a-contextual-analysis/ ) He estimates the Church's "endowment" to be 16x its annual budget which is well within the 10x to 20x range that he suggests is normal for this kind of thing.

 

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8 minutes ago, smac97 said:

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

I think there is ample evidence that the safeguards are working.  We have no evidence that the Brethren are enriching themselves or anyone else.  We have no evidence of financial malfeasance or waste.  We have no evidence that the Church is anything other than an excellent steward of its finances.

So I disagree that the "issue" is about the "financial transparency."  Such transparency is not an end unto itself, right?  It's intended to help religious institutions avoid financial missteps/misdeeds.  But the Church has a long track record of avoiding financial missteps/misdeeds.  So complaining about your preferred means not being utilized, when the intended ends have been otherwise satisfied by alternative (and effective and legitimate) means, doesn't seem to add up to much.

The issue, then, is not about "financial transparency."  Instead, the issue is, as Kathleen Flake put it, "about competing views of what should be done with Church money and who gets to say so.”  that brings us back to James Huntsman's lawsuit.  You'll note he hasn't said jack squat about "best practices" or "financial transparency."  He's not demanding either.  He's suing for "fraud," which I think is a pretext for railing against the Church in the "competing views" way Flake describes.

This is wildly, flagrantly misleading.  Again, we have the Council on the Disposition of Tithes, the Budget Committee, the Appropriations Committee, the Church Budget Office, the Finance and Records Department, the Auditing Department, the Audit Committee, the Investment Policy Committee, the Deseret Management Corporation and its board of directors, the First Presidency of the Church, the quorum of twelve apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric, "other boards and committees to oversee the management of the Church's investments and reserves," and on and on.

We have annual reports from the auditing committee.

We can see the beautiful temples, the tens of thousands of missionaries, the thousands of church buildings, the Church's humanitarian and philanthropic efforts, the canneries and storehouses, Welfare Square, Humanitarian Square, and so on.

We have zero evidence that the Brethren are enriching themselves.

We have zero evidence that the Church's funds are being mismanaged, and instead have considerable evidence that the Church is an excellent steward of donated funds.................................

We also have the considerable scholarship of Dr D. Michael Quinn, an excommuncant, saying exactly that.  You can be sure that, if he found a hint of corruption, he would have trumpeted it.

The ultimate question is really, Are the Brethren and their apparatchiki following the Savior's direction in the Parable of the Talents?  The proof is in the very attacks being made on the Church for supposedly hoarding.  What would the critics say if the Church had not managed its monies so well?  What lame hypocrisy.

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