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Posted (edited)
On 3/28/2024 at 2:53 PM, Analytics said:

It depends upon how you define “misuse” of funds.

And I'm sure whatever definition you arbitrarily create, it will be one that fairly characterizes the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Or . . . not.

On 3/28/2024 at 2:53 PM, Analytics said:

Consider these data:

  1. In 2016, Dallin H. Oaks proudly proclaimed that the Church gives away on average $40 million a year in humanitarian efforts.
     
  2. The Church recently announced that in 2023, it gave away $1.36 billion in humanitarian efforts.

This raises two questions. First, why did the humanitarian efforts increase from $40 million to $1.36 billion over the course of a mere 7 years?

I don't know that these two statements are using the same metric.  In any event, I think the Church has been improving its efforts over the years, but that its cadre of self-appointed the-glass-will-always-be-half-empty faultfinders will look for a way to characterize this improvement as a bad thing.  To wit...

On 3/28/2024 at 2:53 PM, Analytics said:

Second, is that a good thing or a bad thing? 

See?

On 3/28/2024 at 2:53 PM, Analytics said:

Here are my answers, but I’d be interested in your thoughts. First, before the IRS whistleblower report, most of the general authorities, including the apostles, had no idea how much money the Church had nor how much investment income it made.

And that pertains to expenditures on humanitarian efforts . . . how?

On 3/28/2024 at 2:53 PM, Analytics said:

When Elder Neil L. Andersen told Zimbabwe's Vice President We are not a wealthy people but we are good people, and we share what we have,” he was spreading false information: the Church is wealthy

I can't speak to Elder Andersen's 2018 comment.  Perhaps hindsight is 20-20.

On 3/28/2024 at 2:53 PM, Analytics said:

and it does not share what it has.

And there it is.  The Church has in recent years spent several billion of dollars in ever-increasing humanitarian efforts, and yet Roger still insists that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "does not share what it has."

No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever.

On 3/28/2024 at 2:53 PM, Analytics said:

But after the whistleblower report came out, how do you think Elder Andersen felt?  And how do you think the Presiding Bishopric and the FIrst Presidency felt when all of the sudden the entire council of the deposition of tithes understood that the Church actually had an addition $7-10 billion of annual investment income that could be distributed beyond the $7 billion of tithing they were distributing? Perhaps they all looked in the mirror and realized that “because I have been given much I too must give”?

And the endless faultfinding continues.

From 2020:

Quote

“The people who say we’re not doing our part, that is just not true,” Bishop Waddell said. “We’re talking close to $1 billion in that welfare/humanitarian area on an annual basis. Yes, we are using our resources to bless the poor and the needy as well as all of the other responsibilities we have as a church.”

The figure includes all humanitarian and welfare expenditures, including fast offering aid.

The budget for humanitarian work “has gone up dramatically,” Bishop Waddell said.

In fact, Bishop Caussé added, humanitarian expenditures have doubled in the past five years.

And we believe they are going to increase fast,” he said.

Increases in humanitarian and welfare spending are driven first by the contributions and volunteerism of church members, the bishops said. The other major factor is how quickly the church can ensure new avenues for precise giving. For example, Latter-day Saint Charities carefully and thoroughly assesses each partner. “The last thing you want to do is just give them money and then you really don’t know where it goes,” Bishop Davies said. “So we have both missionaries and area staff on the ground, feet on the ground, who actually are there, they can see that food’s being distributed, or equipment, or schools are being built as part of our program.”

 And yet here we are, finding fault.

On 3/28/2024 at 2:53 PM, Analytics said:

I submit that transparency, even unwanted transparency, causes people to make better decisions. 

The Church seems to have kicked its humanitarian efforts into high gear starting around 2015 ("{In 2020} Bishop Caussé added, humanitarian expenditures have doubled in the past five years.  'And we believe they are going to increase fast,' he said.").

2015.  Four years before the 2019 Washington Post article about David Nielsen and its supposed causal effect on the Church increasing its humanitarian efforts ("transparency, even unwanted transparency, causes people to make better decisions").

I get that that "Just Throw Money At It!" crowd may be under the impression that the Church can just flip a switch, write some checks, and be in the "International Humanitarian Aid" business in an instant.  However, I think the Church's efforts require much caution and vetting and oversight, which means ramping up time, perhaps even of some years.

But in the end, none of this will matter.  No matter how much the Church does, people like Roger will simply move the goalposts, declare that the Church "does not share what it has," and so on.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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15 hours ago, smac97 said:

You could demonstrate the "lie" of it by pointing to a coherent definition.  

I won't hold my breath.

Okay.

Thanks,

-Smac

Yep. I don't want to waste my time on a lengthy expose as to why your over the top persecution complex hyperbole is a lie. So don't hold your breath unless you wish to suffocate. 

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On 3/30/2024 at 7:12 PM, smac97 said:

...its cadre of self-appointed the-glass-will-always-be-half-empty faultfinders...

No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever.

And the endless faultfinding continues....

No matter how much the Church does, people like Roger will simply move the goalposts...

To review, all of my comments on this thread come down to the following three broad principles, all of which are well established in the world of Church and non-profit finance:

1- Churches and charities should be transparent. This is a well-defined, nearly universally accepted standard. I would be completely satisfied with the Church if it provided a high-level financial statement that explains the following on an annual basis:

  • Estimated value of financial assets (cash, stocks, bonds, etc.)
  • Estimated value of other income-producing assets (e.g. farmland, office buildings, for-profit companies, etc.)
  • Estimated value of religious assets (e.g. temples, churches, BYU, etc.)
  • Estimated value of all other assets that don’t fit into one of the above categories
  • Estimated value of liabilities (pension obligations, money committed to whatever)
  • Annual income broken down between tithing, fast offerings, other donations, investment income, business income, realized capital gains, unrealized capital gains
  • Expenses broken down by religious, educational, and humanitarian causes. 
  • Financial compensation details for top leaders and executives

That’s it. It would easily fit on two pages with lots of white space. If the Church were to provide these high-level numbers in a glossy brochure that explained the good that it is doing in the world with its financial resources, I’d give it full credit for financial transparency. The standards I’m laying out here aren’t arbitrary--they are well-established best practices. I’m not moving the goal posts.

2- The Church’s rainy-day fund should be somewhere in the range of $4 billion to $20 billion. Again, these numbers aren’t arbitrary, and I’m providing a wide range. Church’s and charities need to find a balance between savings and spending, and a rainy day fund should be between 6 months and 2 years of annual expenses. That is the general standard. This isn’t arbitrary, and I’m not moving the goal posts.

3- If the Church has money beyond that, it could consider that money an endowment and make regular disbursements to fund the endowment's objectives into the future and now. A general principle-based starting guideline for disbursements is 5% annually, but various organizations will tweak that based on recent investment performance, needs, the inflation rate, and long-term objectives. Any well-thought disbursement plan that is anything like the ones that are disclosed by respectable endowments would be sufficient. This isn’t arbitrary, and I’m not moving the goal posts.

Those are my points. They aren’t arbitrary. They are well-thought out. They are principle-based. They provided fixed, wide goal posts that give the Church operational and strategic flexibility to apply these broad principles in a way that makes sense given its unique situation.

Unfortunately, you simply don’t have a principle-based arguments for why your church should be exempt from these well-established, principle-based best practices, so rather than pounding the facts or pounding principles of finance, you pound me with lies that I’d “never be satisfied” that I would “move the goal posts”, and that whatever “you” do (as if you, personally, had any say whatsoever in these matters) will never be good enough.

 

Edited by Analytics
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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Analytics said:

Unfortunately, you simply don’t have a principle-based arguments for why your church should be exempt from these well-established, principle-based best practices,

Sure I do. 

The Church complies with the law.

The Church has substantial financial safeguards in place.  We have the Council on the Disposition of Tithes, the Budget Committee, the Appropriations Committee, the Church Budget Office, the Church Audit Committee, and more.  We get annual reports from the Audit Committee.  

We have ample evidence that the Church is using its funds on things like 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 know that the Brethren are not getting rich.

The Church has a very good track record of financial management.

There are more, but none of this matters a lick to people like Roger.

1 hour ago, Analytics said:

so rather than pounding the facts or pounding principles of finance, you pound me with lies that I’d “never be satisfied” that I would “move the goal posts”, and that whatever “you” do (as if you, personally, had any say whatsoever in these matters) will never be good enough.

Roger in 2024, regarding the Church's humanitarian efforts (and after several years of the Church reporting many billions spent on humanitarian efforts) : "{The Church} does not share what it has."

No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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19 minutes ago, smac97 said:

Roger in 2024, regarding the Church's humanitarian efforts (and after several years of the Church reporting many billions spent on humanitarian efforts) : "{The Church} does not share what it has."

No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever.

For someone who prides himself on logic this is a fallacious emotional appeal especially after Analytics has laid out exactly what would satisfy him. It’s a bald face lie, but par for the course for you. 

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Posted (edited)
17 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:
Quote

Roger in 2024, regarding the Church's humanitarian efforts (and after several years of the Church reporting many billions spent on humanitarian efforts) : "{The Church} does not share what it has."

No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever.

For someone who prides himself on logic this is a fallacious emotional appeal

It's a prediction borne of long experience.  Is there an "emotional" component here?  Not really.  I don't think appealing to Roger's, or your, emotions would work anyway, so there would not be much point in it.

17 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

especially after Analytics has laid out exactly what would satisfy him.

I said: "No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever."

That's hardly rebutted by Roger's peremptorily essentially declaring: "If the Church does exactly what I tell it to, then I will be satisfied.  Otherwise, no."

The Church is not, cannot, give credence to every bystanding faultfinder.  Nobody can.  Nobody ever will.  So in practical terms, my assessment is apt: No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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23 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

For someone who prides himself on logic this is a fallacious emotional appeal especially after Analytics has laid out exactly what would satisfy him. It’s a bald face lie, but par for the course for you. 

What might satisfy him would not satisfy thousands of others, so why even try if it is not a legal requirement? I think the Church is willing to accept the criticism for what it is. Faithful latter-day saints are not going to care or demand the details of the numbers. It is quite easy to see what the Church does with the funds without knowing the exact numbers and that is enough for most members. Let the critic criticize. 

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4 minutes ago, JAHS said:

What might satisfy him would not satisfy thousands of others, so why even try if it is not a legal requirement? 

Because it’s the right thing to do? Doing the bare minimum to comply with the law (and the church has not even done this per its SEC fine) is hardly a benchmark worth bragging about. It’s not like financial disclosure is this huge onerous thing. Indeed many countries require it and where it is required by law the church complies. It’s honestly astonishing to me that this is viewed as something more than it is. An honest disclosure is required for consent to occur. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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30 minutes ago, smac97 said:

That's hardly rebutted by Roger's peremptorily essentially declaring: "If the Church does exactly what I tell it to, then I will be satisfied.  Otherwise, no."

This is laughably ridiculous. Analytics wants your church to operate within broadly accepted industry guidelines. He is not telling your church what to spend money on. He is instead holding them to the same standards that you likely hold every other charitable entity that you donate to beside your church. 

Edited by SeekingUnderstanding
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9 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Because it’s the right thing to do? Doing the bare minimum to comply with the law (and the church has not even done this per its SEC fine) is hardly a benchmark worth bragging about. It’s not like financial disclosure is this huge onerous thing. Indeed many countries require it and where it is required by law the church complies. It’s honestly astonishing to me that this is viewed as something more than it is. An honest disclosure is required for consent to occur. 

Whose consent? The critics? 

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6 minutes ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Any consent. A transaction cannot be consensual when one party is not being transparent. 

What transaction are you talking about? The general church membership is not requiring the level of transparency the critics are demanding and so they continue to donate tithes and offerings without it. What the Church is doing and reporting now seems to be enough for them.
 

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1 hour ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Any consent. A transaction cannot be consensual when one party is not being transparent. 

I think it can be if the other party consents to the non-transparency.

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2 hours ago, smac97 said:

There are more, but none of this matters a lick to people like Roger.

What is your basis for thinking this?

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

Roger in 2024, regarding the Church's humanitarian efforts (and after several years of the Church reporting many billions spent on humanitarian efforts) : "{The Church} does not share what it has."

What I said was hyperbole and meant to be juxtaposed with Anderson claiming that: "We are not a wealthy people but we are good people, and we share what we have."

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever.

Rather than replying to my specific points, you make a personal attack. How predictable of you.

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

It's a prediction borne of long experience.  Is there an "emotional" component here?  Not really. 

You come across as being incapable of responding to my actual points. This seems to make you angry, and that would explain why you respond with personal attacks.

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

I said: "No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever."

That doesn’t respond to the specific point I’m making here. Why change the subject to hypothetical criticisms rather than real ones? Is it because you don’t have an actual reply?

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

That's hardly rebutted by Roger's peremptorily essentially declaring: "If the Church does exactly what I tell it to, then I will be satisfied.  Otherwise, no."

I'm giving the church very wide, very low, very fixed goal posts. They are based on best practices in the financial management of charities and non-profits, and I explicitly acknowledge the Church should have "operational and strategic flexibility to apply these broad principles in a way that makes sense given its unique situation."

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

The Church is not, cannot, give credence to every bystanding faultfinder.

But the Church could follow best practices in term of transparency and achieving a healthy balance between saving and spending.

2 hours ago, smac97 said:

So in practical terms, my assessment is apt: No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever.

This is a lazy way to avoid addressing the actual points I raised. You can vomit this “assessment” in response to any criticism--no need to think, much less to do any research. 

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On 3/30/2024 at 6:22 PM, smac97 said:

First, the Church's financials are also audited, so I'm not seeing much daylight between our position and yours.

We should note the you may not understand that there is a vast difference from internal audit work and an audit by an independent CPA firm.  Very different. So no, the church does not provide audited statements in the traditional sense.  But hey, don't want to pay a CPA firm?  Publish the internal audited statements.

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25 minutes ago, Teancum said:
Quote

First, the Church's financials are also audited, so I'm not seeing much daylight between our position and yours.

We should note the you may not understand that there is a vast difference from internal audit work and an audit by an independent CPA firm.  Very different.

From the most recent auditing report:

Quote

Dear Brethren: Directed by revelation, as recorded in section 120 of the Doctrine and Covenants, the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes—composed of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric—authorizes the expenditure of Church funds. Church entities disburse funds in accordance with approved budgets, policies, and procedures.

Church Auditing, which consists of credentialed professionals and is independent of all other Church departments and entities, has responsibility to perform audits for the purpose of providing reasonable assurance regarding contributions received, expenditures made, and safeguarding of Church assets.

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 2022 have been recorded and administered in accordance with Church-approved budgets, accounting practices, and policies. The Church follows the practices taught to its members of living within a budget, avoiding debt, and saving against a time of need.

Again:

The Church complies with the law.

The Church has substantial financial safeguards in place.  We have the Council on the Disposition of Tithes, the Budget Committee, the Appropriations Committee, the Church Budget Office, the Church Audit Committee, and more.  We get annual reports from the Audit Committee.  

We have ample evidence that the Church is using its funds on things like 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 know that the Brethren are not getting rich.

If the Latter-day Saints were operating in the dark about the finances of the Church, I think our critics would have more of a point.  But we aren't, so they don't.

If the Church had not auditing or other mechanisms for financial controls and oversight, I think our critics would have more of a point.  But it does, so they don't.

If the Church had, in its recent history, a pattern of substantial financial mismanagement / malfeasance / corruption / scandal, etc., I think our critics would have more of a point.  But it doesn't, so they don't.

25 minutes ago, Teancum said:

So no, the church does not provide audited statements in the traditional sense. 

Who are you responding to here?  Where did I state that the Church does "provide audited statements in the traditional sense"?

25 minutes ago, Teancum said:

But hey, don't want to pay a CPA firm?  Publish the internal audited statements.

No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever.

Thanks,

-Smac

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2 hours ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:
Quote

That's hardly rebutted by Roger's peremptorily essentially declaring: "If the Church does exactly what I tell it to, then I will be satisfied.  Otherwise, no."

This is laughably ridiculous. Analytics wants your church to operate within broadly accepted industry guidelines.

What "industry" are you referencing here?

Thanks,

-Smac

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, JAHS said:
Quote

For someone who prides himself on logic this is a fallacious emotional appeal especially after Analytics has laid out exactly what would satisfy him. It’s a bald face lie, but par for the course for you. 

What might satisfy him would not satisfy thousands of others, so why even try if it is not a legal requirement?

Yep.

Again: No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever.

That I was speaking cumulatively ("Our critics...") was, I thought, self-evident. 

And FWIW, I don't really believe Roger would be satisfied if the Church were to come out with a statement comporting with this:

Quote

1- Churches and charities should be transparent. This is a well-defined, nearly universally accepted standard. I would be completely satisfied with the Church if it provided a high-level financial statement that explains the following on an annual basis:

  • Estimated value of financial assets (cash, stocks, bonds, etc.)
  • Estimated value of other income-producing assets (e.g. farmland, office buildings, for-profit companies, etc.)
  • Estimated value of religious assets (e.g. temples, churches, BYU, etc.)
  • Estimated value of all other assets that don’t fit into one of the above categories
  • Estimated value of liabilities (pension obligations, money committed to whatever)
  • Annual income broken down between tithing, fast offerings, other donations, investment income, business income, realized capital gains, unrealized capital gains
  • Expenses broken down by religious, educational, and humanitarian causes. 
  • Financial compensation details for top leaders and executives

That’s it. It would easily fit on two pages with lots of white space. If the Church were to provide these high-level numbers in a glossy brochure that explained the good that it is doing in the world with its financial resources, I’d give it full credit for financial transparency. The standards I’m laying out here aren’t arbitrary--they are well-established best practices. I’m not moving the goal posts.

Why do I say this?  Three simple words: No True Scotsman.

Or three other words: Move The Goalposts.

4 hours ago, JAHS said:

I think the Church is willing to accept the criticism for what it is. Faithful latter-day saints are not going to care or demand the details of the numbers.

To be candid, if I had been an active and conversant Latter-day Saint in the era of Elder Henry D. Moyle's heyday, I would have been much more attuned to, and even somewhat in agreement with, Roger's position.  It wasn't until N. Eldon Tanner ascended to the Twelve that the Church got its financial feet under it.  See, e.g., this 2017 post:

Quote

This article by Peggy Fletcher Stack is about 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

Some excerpts:

Quote

Some Mormons — and plenty of others — were appalled to witness their church build a $1.5 billion mall in downtown Salt Lake City and hear their prophet proclaim, “Let’s go shopping.”

Isn’t religion, they argued, supposed to be about feeding the hungry and clothing the poor? How is selling Tiffany jewelry, Nordstrom cocktail dresses and luxury condos any part of a Christian faith?

Such critics, though, fail to understand Mormonism, says historian D. Michael Quinn. The American-born movement has always seen its mission as serving both the spiritual and physical needs of its people. It doesn’t distinguish between the two.

“It’s as spiritual [for Latter-day Saints] to give alms to the poor,” Quinn told Bloomberg Businessweek in 2012, “... as it is to make a million dollars.”

On that last score, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been wildly successful, says Quinn, author of the newly published “Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth & Corporate Power.”

The church, launched in 1830 in upstate New York with six members, counts nearly 16 million members worldwide — and untold billions in assets.

...

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.”

And despite this "success story" our critics regularly pillory the Church regarding its finances.  But if the Church's finances were being handled poorly, I suspect the critics would complain about that, too.

Darned if we do, darned if we don't.  The faultfinders are going to succeed in their endeavors regardless of what the Church does.
...
 

Quote

 

Most believers had paid tithing, but they did so in an uneven and unpredictable fashion until about 1900, when then-church President Lorenzo Snow asked members to pay on a “regular and consistent basis,” Quinn says. Tithing became a requirement for admittance to LDS temples, where Mormons take part in their faith’s highest ordinances.

That mandate had a clear and immediate impact.

At that time, the church was $2.5 million in debt, he says, but because of the tithing push, Snow’s successor Joseph F. Smith could announce in 1907 that the institution was debt-free.

Within a couple of decades, though, the red ink again began to flow.

From 1933 to 1950, the church saved about 72 percent of its annual income, creating a large reserve. But a building program from 1958 to 1963 blotted out all the reserve funds, and the church didn’t have enough liquid assets to meet all its obligations.

Starting in 1959, the faith began deficit spending, Quinn says, and thus stopped reporting its expenditures in General Conferences, hoping to keep that fact from the members.

By December 1962, the deficit had ballooned to nearly $33 million (or about $236 million in 2010 dollars) and, in 1963, the historian says, LDS headquarters “didn’t think it could meet its payroll.”

Such anxiety led leaders to take steps to ensure that would never happen again.

They brought Canadian N. Eldon Tanner on board as an apostle. Tapping his enormous financial know-how, the church began to rebuild its nest egg, cutting back on building projects and overseeing investments until it could get back in the black.

Tanner was “methodically rescuing the church from the brink,” Quinn writes. “By 1964, commercial income accounted for about 40 to 45 percent of its total income.”

Step by step, the historian writes, Tanner introduced the church to “corporate financing.”

It never looked back.

 

 

As it is, though, the Church's current financial condition is really good.  And yet critics constantly rail against the Church regardless of whether it has improved, regardless of the absence of any evidence of substantial financial mismanagement or misconduct, regardless of the Church's recent increase in published statements about its finances, etc.  None of this will ever matter, because the objective is not to improve the Church.  The objective is to find fault with the Church.  So regarding critics who endlessly - and behind conveniently anonymizing pseudonyms - rail against the Church, I don't give them much credit for speaking in good faith as to the Church's financial affairs.

First, I don't think they give a fig about the welfare of the Church.  They spend years opposing the Church, finding fault with it, denigrating it, and so on.  No matter what they may claim in terms of having the Church's interests or welfare at heart, I just don't buy it.  An occasional sop or platitude doesn't stack up to years and years of antipathy.  So strident declarations of "More Transparency!" just ring hollow.  They don't care about the welfare of the Church, or its members.  So all this hue and cry, to me, has strong whiffs of ulterior motives.

Second, their perspective on the Church is, I think, hopelessly tainted by this antipathy.  As Mark Twain put it: “To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”  Each discussion about the Church is viewed through a "How can I use this to make the Church look bad" lens, and that lens ends up distorting their viewpoint.  Finding fault is the objective.  Giving the Church a fair hearing or something approaching an objective and even-handed assessment is just not going to come from these guys.

Third, there is no "reality check" for these guys.  No quality control.  No accountability.  No consistency.  No metrics.  They can say whatever they like (again, usually pseudonymously) and never have to account for it.  They can - and do - just endlessly find fault, ignore data, shift the goalposts, and continue ever onward.

4 hours ago, JAHS said:

It is quite easy to see what the Church does with the funds without knowing the exact numbers and that is enough for most members. Let the critic criticize. 

Yep.

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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1 hour ago, bluebell said:

I think it can be if the other party consents to the non-transparency.

Until its not. You don't know what you don't know. If I had known that the church was actively hiding a reserve fund valued between one to two hundred billion dollars, I would not have donated fast offerings after I resigned my membership. I would have likely reevaluated my tithing as well in the last year or two of my membership when I was hanging on by my fingernails. Roger Clark - head of ensign peak (who is in a much better position to know why your church did what it did than either of us) told the Wall Street Journal:

Quote

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tithing — donating 10% of one’s income to the faith — “is more of a sense of commitment than it is the church needing the money,” Roger Clarke, head of Ensign Peak Advisors, which manages the denomination’s investing holdings, told The Wall Street Journal.

“So they never wanted to be in a position where people felt like, you know, they shouldn’t make a contribution,” Clarke said.

That's a problem and illustrates the point I'm trying to make.

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1 minute ago, SeekingUnderstanding said:

Until its not. You don't know what you don't know. If I had known that the church was actively hiding a reserve fund valued between one to two hundred billion dollars, I would not have donated fast offerings after I resigned my membership. I would have likely reevaluated my tithing as well in the last year or two of my membership when I was hanging on by my fingernails. Roger Clark - head of ensign peak (who is in a much better position to know why your church did what it did than either of us) told the Wall Street Journal:

That's a problem and illustrates the point I'm trying to make.

Ok, but there are just as many members for whom the release of that information didn't change anything for them.  So I guess what that means is that you can define what is consensual for yourself, and I can for myself, but we can't define that term for others.

You believe that it can't be consensual without transparency and I think that's a reasonable perspective.  But I disagree with it.

 

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7 hours ago, Analytics said:

To review, all of my comments on this thread come down to the following three broad principles, all of which are well established in the world of Church and non-profit finance:

1- Churches and charities should be transparent. This is a well-defined, nearly universally accepted standard. I would be completely satisfied with the Church if it provided a high-level financial statement that explains the following on an annual basis:

  • Estimated value of financial assets (cash, stocks, bonds, etc.)
  • Estimated value of other income-producing assets (e.g. farmland, office buildings, for-profit companies, etc.)
  • Estimated value of religious assets (e.g. temples, churches, BYU, etc.)
  • Estimated value of all other assets that don’t fit into one of the above categories
  • Estimated value of liabilities (pension obligations, money committed to whatever)
  • Annual income broken down between tithing, fast offerings, other donations, investment income, business income, realized capital gains, unrealized capital gains
  • Expenses broken down by religious, educational, and humanitarian causes. 
  • Financial compensation details for top leaders and executives

That’s it. It would easily fit on two pages with lots of white space. If the Church were to provide these high-level numbers in a glossy brochure that explained the good that it is doing in the world with its financial resources, I’d give it full credit for financial transparency. The standards I’m laying out here aren’t arbitrary--they are well-established best practices. I’m not moving the goal posts.

2- The Church’s rainy-day fund should be somewhere in the range of $4 billion to $20 billion. Again, these numbers aren’t arbitrary, and I’m providing a wide range. Church’s and charities need to find a balance between savings and spending, and a rainy day fund should be between 6 months and 2 years of annual expenses. That is the general standard. This isn’t arbitrary, and I’m not moving the goal posts.

3- If the Church has money beyond that, it could consider that money an endowment and make regular disbursements to fund the endowment's objectives into the future and now. A general principle-based starting guideline for disbursements is 5% annually, but various organizations will tweak that based on recent investment performance, needs, the inflation rate, and long-term objectives. Any well-thought disbursement plan that is anything like the ones that are disclosed by respectable endowments would be sufficient. This isn’t arbitrary, and I’m not moving the goal posts.

Those are my points. They aren’t arbitrary. They are well-thought out. They are principle-based. They provided fixed, wide goal posts that give the Church operational and strategic flexibility to apply these broad principles in a way that makes sense given its unique situation.

Unfortunately, you simply don’t have a principle-based arguments for why your church should be exempt from these well-established, principle-based best practices, so rather than pounding the facts or pounding principles of finance, you pound me with lies that I’d “never be satisfied” that I would “move the goal posts”, and that whatever “you” do (as if you, personally, had any say whatsoever in these matters) will never be good enough.

 

This is a great summary.  And you are not even asking for statements audited by a CPA Firm.  THe only think I would add is some narrative to explain the info.  And it could be a fluff piece and highlight certain things that are of interest.  Why anyone would object to what you outline above is beyond me.

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1 hour ago, Doctor Steuss said:

I still believe that is what was meant. "Though a majority of our members are not rich, they are generous and share where and what the can." That that generosity is funneled through the Church makes no difference to the sacrifice involved.

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Teancum said:

This is a great summary.  And you are not even asking for statements audited by a CPA Firm. 

I strongly suspect, though, that other critics would ask - nay, demand - "statements audited by a CPA Firm."  And even then....

19 minutes ago, Teancum said:

THe only think I would add is some narrative to explain the info. 

LOL.  Even the two loudest critics in this thread disagree about what "transparency" means, and what the Church could/should do.

19 minutes ago, Teancum said:

And it could be a fluff piece and highlight certain things that are of interest. 

Critics have spent years railing against the Church regarding financial transparency, speaking of it as some great moral imperative, are going to be satisfied with "a fluff piece"?

Kinda eviscerates the whole "moral imperative" schtick, dunnit?

19 minutes ago, Teancum said:

Why anyone would object to what you outline above is beyond me.

Why anyone would think that critics who seize upon any and every opportunity to bash the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are consistent/coherent in their demands is beyond me.

How much vitriol have you and Roger spewed at the Church due to it's supposed insufficient "transparency," and for how many years?  And all of that is going go just disappear like a burp in the wind if the Church comes out with a two-page letter (expectations for which you differ from Roger, thus demonstrating the "critics will never be satisfied" observation)?

A "fluff piece" will placate you?  Wow.  WowSo much for the supposed moral necessity of "more transparency."  

No matter what we do, it will never be enough.  Our critics will never be satisfied.  Ever.

8l7ply.jpg

;) 

Thanks,

-Smac

Edited by smac97
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