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Update on Church Finances


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3 minutes ago, GoCeltics said:

Constructing an extravagant temple within an impoverished community sends a negative message.

Sometimes I can't get my mind around making temples so extravagant. I guess it makes members want to get in and enjoy the beauty. 

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11 minutes ago, GoCeltics said:

Constructing an extravagant temple within an impoverished community sends a negative message.

This is a good description of one of them:

"And the house, that is, the temple before it, was forty cubits long.  And the cedar of the house within was carved with knops and open flowers: all was cedar; there was no stone seen.  And the oracle he prepared in the house within, to set there the ark of the covenant of the Lord.  And the oracle in the forepart was twenty cubits in length, and twenty cubits in breadth, and twenty cubits in the height thereof: and he overlaid it with pure gold; and so covered the altar which was of cedar.  So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold.  And the whole house he overlaid with gold, until he had finished all the house: also the whole altar that was by the oracle he overlaid with gold."  (1 Kings 6:17–22)

Do you think that temple sent a negative message to the impoverished people of that community?

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16 hours ago, smac97 said:

I think I have a sufficient grasp of things.

Of course you do. You always do. You don't. The fact that you continue to  equate financial internal controls as assurance of financial transparency demonstrates this.  

16 hours ago, smac97 said:

For my part, apart from the requirements of secular law (which the Church inarguably strives to follow), the level of "transparency" the Church provides is going to be a judgment call. 

Secular law seems like a low bar for the self proclaimed Church of Jesus Christ.

16 hours ago, smac97 said:

Okay.  Ad hominem.  Got it.

To quote a guy:

Thanks,

-Smac

If the shoe fits....

By the way now that you know my name does it feel good to use something I wrote almost 20 year ago against me? Would you like to now the history behind that paper?  It was the beginning of the long end for me as far as the church truth claims go.  See you have just demonstrated why people post anonymously.   That is really an creepy and underhanded tactic.  

Edited by Teancum
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18 hours ago, smac97 said:

I don't have much hope in persuading you.  I hope other readers, when considering my arguments, will do so without being as steeped in cynicism and hostility as we see in our resident crop of self-appointed faultfinders.

What did you say in another post about ad hominem? 


Regardless, I likewise have no illusion of persuading you and hope others see the smoke and mirrors as well as the hoops apologists jump through to defend the indefensible and realize what nonsense it is.  

 

18 hours ago, smac97 said:

My objective here is, in many ways, much easier than yours.

If you say so.

18 hours ago, smac97 said:

 

I only have to allow the Brethren to be generally decent and upright, and mostly successful in their efforts. 

Yes ok. So what?  I don;t think I have implied otherwise. See this is what I say you are a novice on this topic. Transparency is not about  suspicion that the leaders are rotten evil thieves. 

 

18 hours ago, smac97 said:

I don't need them to be perfect, which is why Analytics' pearl-clutching routine ("the snafu with the SEC reports was a scandal...") just doesn't do much for me.  

Neither myself nor @Analyticshave argued that they need to be perfect. If you are fine with their attempt to hide the financial info about EPA from the members and the pubic that says more about you than anything else and also is revealing about your motivation surrounding apologetics.

 

18 hours ago, smac97 said:

How much the Church (which, again, is "not primarily a humanitarian organization") spends on humanitarian efforts will always be a judgment call.  Always

Certainly.

18 hours ago, smac97 said:

 

 As for "hiding its finances," I disagree with the sentiment.  Again, apart from the requirements of secular law (which the Church inarguably strives to follow), the level of "transparency" the Church provides is also going to be a judgment call.  Always.

Of course you do. But no, it is not a judgement call. Experts in the field of finance have developed best practices that many organizations adopt. So we can conclude about the financial transparency of the church and we can conclude it is almost nonexistent.

 

18 hours ago, smac97 said:

The Brethren are good and decent men.  Their overall track record in the last many decades vis-à-vis financial expenditures is also quite good.  But financial management is, in the grand scheme of things, a relatively minor province of an apostle's responsibilities.  It is their advocacy of the truth claims of the Restored Gospel that I find most persuasive and useful.

Thanks,

-Smac

Thank you for sharing your "testimony."

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14 hours ago, Tacenda said:

Sometimes I can't get my mind around making temples so extravagant. I guess it makes members want to get in and enjoy the beauty. 

If the Widow Mite report is accurate the church can build a thousand temples over the next 20 year and do it with tithing revenue as well as some income from EPA. They would not need to touch a dime of the $$ in their investment portfolio.  And they can still increase humanitarian aid.

Edited by Teancum
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23 hours ago, smac97 said:

I don't think so.  The "membership" is not paying attention to SEC disclosures, either then or now.

The Church set up over a dozen LLC’s with with fake addresses, fake phone numbers, and fake managers. They instructed these fake managers to lie to the SEC and say they managed the money in their LLC’s with independent discretion. However, the money wasn’t actually controlled by these LLC’s in any way whatsoever, and the only role the fake managers played was to lie to the SEC. That was their only job.

If the Church wasn’t trying to hide the magnitude of its invested assets from the membership, why did they do all of that? It would have been far easier and cheaper (not to mention legal and ethical) to simply have EPA fill out truthful reports as it does now.

Edited by Analytics
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On 4/12/2024 at 10:34 AM, Teancum said:

 

What do you think if someone who is an active member tithes but just does not give it to the church. What if they give their 10% to places they know their $$ will go towards human suffering rather than temple building and growing a huge investment portfolio? Is that a valid tithe?

I think a member can use their agency however they want.  If they want to give their 10% to a struggling girl on only fans, that is their choice.  We all have to stand before God and give an accounting of our actions.  If God agrees with our excuses there is nothing to worry about. If God disagrees we have a lot to worry about.  Best to make sure our excuses are really good as there is a lot riding on it.

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5 hours ago, Analytics said:

The Church set up over a dozen LLC’s with with fake addresses, fake phone numbers, and fake managers. They instructed these fake managers to lie to the SEC and say they managed the money in their LLC’s with independent discretion.

Technicality….it was not the Church (meaning pastoral and administrative leaders of the religious organization) that did either of those things, but those they put in stewardship over the funds.  We do not know what church leadership instructed the financial stewards to do, whether it was detailed or more general.

I say this for accuracy, not as an excuse…though I admit it would bother me more if church leaders came up with the idea to lie or approved it knowing it would involve lying than them not having bothered to track it because they either didn’t care or best case, were too trusting.  Ends do not justify the means, especially when there are other means to achieve it that are possible, if harder to use.

What we do know, imo, (if the SEC report was accurate in its claims of what was done with the properties and I am assuming it is though I am less sure about its claims of how it happened) is the ultimate responsibility rests with Church leadership as they appointed the individuals who made these decisions to act whether or not they were instructed to do so by church leaders. This behaviour was not apparently a one time thing, but a pattern over many years.  If church leaders were unaware, they should have been aware.  If they were aware, they should have stopped the dishonest aspects.  Therefore, imo, ultimately the church leaders should be held responsible/accountable for the dishonesty where it occurred.  

I don’t have an automatic issue with them trying to hide ownership of properties as I can think of two very good reasons they wouldn’t want it known and that is some members would foolishly try to invest based on what was happening with the investments of the Church and second, given the magnitude of their holdings, their buying or selling of properties could easily affect the market leading to unintended and unwanted consequences (same reason they don’t announce where they are looking for land for temples to avoid people buying properties around the possible future temple for speculation or driving up prices).

I do think using fake addresses, etc and having people sign forms that required them to know the contents without letting them actually know the contents are dishonest practices.  I would not have cared if they took more care finding actual representatives in the states they claimed the businesses were located in so as to hide the wealth for either reason I stated above.  It does bother me the financial stewards took shortcuts that required dishonesty.  Sure, it saved a lot of effort, maybe quite a bit of money.  It was still dishonest.  Hopefully those practices and any other dishonest ones (hopefully there weren’t any) have been stopped and the attitude going forward is to err towards being truthful where sharing info, even if limited sharing.  I do support not making it easy for people to find what properties the financial wing of the Church is handling because I believe there are many members who would foolishly follow it just as we have members who jump on bandwagons following doomsayers and end up giving up all their savings and selling their homes to buy survival gear at inflated prices even when counseled not to by the Church (in general terms, not specifically), but any practices that do hide such properties and transactions need to be legal (which I accept may not always be easy to figure out) and moral (which seems to me likely easier to figure out).

Edited by Calm
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On 4/12/2024 at 8:06 PM, smac97 said:

crop of self-appointed faultfinders.

Is there any other kind of faultfinders? Officially-appointed ones?

😅

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On 4/13/2024 at 1:32 AM, GoCeltics said:

Constructing an extravagant temple within an impoverished community sends a negative message.

Why would that be? 

Your idea is that a plain and simple temple in an impoverished community will make the poor people feel better about themselves? Meanwhile they can see beautiful, lavishly decorated temples in more affluent communities, and this is a solution you want to get behind? 

It is kind of like a government building barely adequate schools in poor areas, and really pumping up the academies in rich areas. This is supposed to send a positive message?

Where do you get this kind of woke logic?  🤪

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On 4/13/2024 at 1:37 AM, Tacenda said:

Sometimes I can't get my mind around making temples so extravagant. I guess it makes members want to get in and enjoy the beauty. 

They are not that extravagant, actually. Catholic churches, let alone cathedrals, can be far more visibly extravagant. Not to say they aren't beautiful. And they tend to evoke reverence from those who attend. Which temples strive to evoke, as well, of course.

When my wife and I were visiting Austria for Christmas 2023 we were in a smallish village in the Alps foothills. We took a walk on Christmas day and visited the local Catholic church (there being no others there). It was absolutely beautiful, done up a little bit for Christmas, but for the most part that's what it looked like all the rest of the time, too. It was just after sunset, and there happened to be nobody else in the building at that moment, and we just sat there in the soft light. It was amazing. The feeling of reverence that the decor engendered was palpable. Then my wife, who has a very nice voice, started singing Pie Jesu. The whole experience really made Christmas for us.

The temple has a different, yet still important purpose. Their architectures and decor are actually quite understated compared to many other places of worship I have seen. In my opinion, our temples are beautiful, but more elegant than beautiful.

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Just now, Calm said:

Please don’t go there. It is not. 

Seems like it to me.

Don't worry, I shan't take it any further than that.

But the idea that he was trying to put forward is utterly flawed. "Don't build beautiful things to make the poor envious! It will create discontentment in their community!" This says that the poor must be shut out of the nice places for they are dirty and smell bad. "Give them the simple things, for they cannot comprehend the nicer things of life." Despicable. 

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15 minutes ago, Stargazer said:

Seems like it to me.

Don't worry, I shan't take it any further than that.

But the idea that he was trying to put forward is utterly flawed. "Don't build beautiful things to make the poor envious! It will create discontentment in their community!" This says that the poor must be shut out of the nice places for they are dirty and smell bad. "Give them the simple things, for they cannot comprehend the nicer things of life." Despicable. 

I agree with the idea being wrong. It’s you using “woke” incorrectly that makes me cringe. 

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

I agree with the idea being wrong. It’s you using “woke” incorrectly that makes me cringe. 

Sorry.

But the most generic definition of the word that I have found is "alert to injustice and discrimination in society". Which seemed to fit how GoCeltics was framing it. Although that definition is only the nominal definition -- it seems to have more to do with being "alert to the slightest trigger as an excuse to go off on a rant." Which could also describe my own reactions to certain things, I will admit. For example, I get really testy when confronted by a certain fervid solicitude that borders on or even treads directly into false concerns over things that have more to do with advancing an agenda than any genuine concern.

I said I would stop, but you re-engaged, so...

ETA: And that, in a nutshell, is how I regard all this concern from certain parties over how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spends (or doesn't spend) its money. "Transparency! Transparency! We demand transparency! And accountability!" But there's no true concern for transparency or accountability. They are just looking for another excuse to cry "Woe! and Despair!" 

But one has to have hobbies, I suppose.

 

Edited by Stargazer
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2 hours ago, Stargazer said:

it seems to have more to do with being "alert to the slightest trigger as an excuse to go off on a rant."

And there is where you start missing the point.  :) 
I only bother about it with you because I like you, I hope you know.

Edited by Calm
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40 minutes ago, The Nehor said:

I would trust them more if just once the Church financial report or audit announcers revealed corruption or embezzlement or something.

I’ve heard of this happening, but I don’t know if it was the audit that discovered it or someone else. Either way it doesn't seem the kind of thing they ever mention.

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11 hours ago, Calm said:

And there is where you start missing the point.  :) 

Perhaps so. 🙂  I'm not sure where the point is, in this case -- but there's no need to sort it out at this time.

11 hours ago, Calm said:


I only bother about it with you because I like you, I hope you know.

I do, and as you must know, the feeling's mutual.

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8 hours ago, The Nehor said:

I would trust them more if just once the Church financial report or audit announcers revealed corruption or embezzlement or something.

This is required training for bishoprics to regularly review. Financial dishonesty is actually a pretty quick way to have one's membership withdrawn. It probably still happens once in awhile but mechanisms are in place to identify and correct them.

Comparison of 1989 and 2023 report language.
"Based on our review of the system of financial controls within the Church, together with continuing discussions with personnel of the Finance and Records and the Auditing departments, we are of the opinion that budgeting, accounting, and auditing controls are adequate for Church needs and purposes, and that in all material respects the general funds of the Church received and expended during the year ended December 31, 1989, have been controlled and accounted for in accordance with established Church policy and procedures."

"Based upon audits performed, Church Auditing is of the opinion that, in all material respects, contributions received, expenditures made, and assets of the Church for the year 2023 have been recorded and administered in accordance with Church-approved budgets, accounting practices, and policies."

Apparently the language of materiality has specific accounting meaning:

"Information is material if omitting, misstating or obscuring it could reasonably be expected to influence the decisions that the primary users of general purpose financial statements make on the basis of those financial statements, which provide financial information about a specific reporting entity." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Materiality_(auditing)).

That is to say, there doesn't appear to be anything of the level that would change how those in charge of Church finances would use the Church's funds.



https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/tools/help/sacred-funds-sacred-responsibilities?lang=eng

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11 hours ago, The Nehor said:

I would trust them more if just once the Church financial report or audit announcers revealed corruption or embezzlement or something.

In the 2002 elections in Iraq, 100% of eligible voters voted. All votes were valid and 100% of the votes were for Saddam Hussein.

I guess he was a popular guy.

(Poor Putin only got 88% of the vote)

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2 hours ago, Nofear said:

This is required training for bishoprics to regularly review. Financial dishonesty is actually a pretty quick way to have one's membership withdrawn. It probably still happens once in awhile but mechanisms are in place to identify and correct them.

I know, I’m a clerk. I get to do the audits.

There are cases of embezzlement and fraud but they are pretty rare. If you are smart about it you can sometimes get away with it.

The most common method is to siphon Fast Offering funds to entities that somehow benefit the Bishop or whomever or someone in their family. To pull off fraud you usually need both the Bishop and the clerk to be ‘in on it’.

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