WBMW

The So-called Business of the Mormon Church

In response to the current media assault, most likely politically driven, on how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) manage its finances, the LDS Newsroom has posted an excellent article that I feel is important to share.

As members of the LDS Church, we understand certain gospel principles that  govern and apply to even financial matters, that those outside of our faith, or those who choose to be critical of the Church and find it an easy target, either ignore or themselves are clueless.  Bloomberg Businessweek magazine has prepared this cover, (pictured left) for its next big issue, along with an article that attempts to explain the business of the "Mormon Empire" -- as they see it. This is only one ill informed article, among many that are, or will, likely be popping up.




I've made a personal decision to not even try to defend Church business endeavors, or debate with others about them, particularly with those who are critical of the so-called business aspects of Mormonism, as I personally find it counterproductive to what I much prefer to do online -- share what we actually believe. However I do feel that teaching and sharing with others, the basis of our beliefs that guide these decisions, and how the Church on a global scale manages its vast resources in keeping with the gospel of Jesus Christ, is a worthy cause.

Excerpt from LDS Newsroom article: The Church and Its Financial Independence 

"Tithing is an ancient biblical principle, and has been practiced by many churches through the centuries.  Independent studies show, however, that nowhere else in America today is the principle of tithing so widely and faithfully followed as among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The vast majority of the income used to manage the Church comes from tithing, not from businesses or investments.
Tithing has thus proved to be an enormous blessing to the Church and its people, along with simple but sound economic principles such as avoiding debt, living within one’s means, and setting aside funds for a rainy day.
The key to understanding Church finances is to understand that they are a means to an end.  They allow the Church to carry out its religious mission across the world.
Does the Church own for-profit businesses? Yes.  In the Church’s earlier history as it was establishing itself in the remote intermountain west, some of those businesses were necessitated by the simple fact that they didn’t exist elsewhere in the community. Gradually, as private businesses developed and the need for Church-owned businesses diminished, they were sold off, donated to the community or discontinued. Zions Bank and the LDS Hospital system are examples.
Today, the Church’s business assets support the Church’s mission and principles by serving as a rainy day fund. Agricultural holdings now operated as for-profit enterprises can be converted into welfare farms in the event of a global food crisis. Companies such as KSL Television and the Deseret News provide strategically valuable communication tools. 
Tithing funds are used to support five key areas of activity:
  • Providing buildings or places of worship for members around the world.  We have thousands of such buildings and continue to open more, sometimes several in a week.
  • Providing education programs including support for our universities and our seminaries and institute programs.
  • Supporting the Church’s worldwide missionary program.
  • Building and operating nearly 140 temples around the world and the administration of the world’s largest family history program.
  • Supporting the Church’s welfare programs and humanitarian aid, which serve people around the world — both members of the Church as well as those who are not members.
From time to time, some people including journalists try to attach a monetary value to the Church in the same way they would assess the assets of a commercial corporation. Such comparisons simply do not hold up. For instance, a corporation’s branch offices or retail outlets have to be financially justified as a source of profit. But every time The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints builds a place of worship, the building becomes a consumer of assets and a financial obligation that has to be met through worldwide member donations. The ongoing maintenance and upkeep, utilities and use of the building can only be achieved as long as faithful members continue to support the Church.
On occasion someone will try to estimate the Church’s income and determine how much of that is used to care for the poor and needy.  Again, they rarely capture the whole picture.  The bedrock principles underlying the Church’s welfare and humanitarian efforts are Christ like service and self-reliance."
You can, and should, read the entire article HERE.
The general membership of the LDS Church are not privy, on a daily basis, to know every aspect of how the Church spends and/or invests its finances. Most members don't even think about it, and frankly, don't worry about it either. Some may choose to see this as ignorance, but I do not.

I joined a church that I believe to be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints upon the earth today. Knowing that, and believing that we are led by those inspired of God to lead His Church allows me to trust that decisions made, even financial, are intended to assist in the building up of the kingdom of God. I'm not skeptical of our leaders' financial motives, and trust that they, to the best of their abilities, make sound decisions in these regards. 

I see so much good that the Church does for individuals throughout the world, which requires a lot of money. Knowing the good that Church finances accomplish, causes me to feel grateful to be a member of the Church, and call myself a Mormon. I consider it a blessing to live the commandment to pay tithing, and to understand the eternal principles that accompany doing so. I believe that how we take care of one another is important to our discipleship as Christians. I truly believe that even in the business aspects of how the Church is governed, that a great stewardship is felt among those who make these decisions. In this sense, Mormons, unlike most of the world, do not separate finances from things spiritual.

I really like the bottom-line of the LDS Newsroom article...


"The Church exists to improve the lives of people across the world by bringing them closer to Jesus Christ. The assets of the Church are used in ways to support that mission. Buildings are built for members to come together to worship God and to be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. Missionaries are sent to invite people to come to Christ. Resources are used to provide food and clothing for the needy and to provide ways for people to lift themselves up and be self-reliant. What is important is not the cost but the outcome. As former Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “The only true wealth of the Church is in the faith of its people.”

Those who attempt to define the Church as an institution devoted to amassing monetary wealth miss the entire point: the Church’s purpose is to bring people to Christ and to follow His example by lifting the burdens of those who are struggling. The key to understanding the Church is to see it not as a worldwide corporation, but as millions of faithful members in thousands of congregations across the world following Christ and caring for each other and their neighbors."

"The key to understanding the Church is to see it not as a worldwide corporation, but as millions of faithful members in thousands of congregations across the world following Christ and caring for each other and their neighbors."

tDMg
Kathryn Skaggs

Note: If you have a negative or critical comment regarding the handling of Church finances, or its leaders, don't bother. It won't be approved.


Good reading in response to current conversations about Mormonism in the media:


Deseret News:


Criticism follows Businessweek cover on Mormon Church finances - By Joseph Walker

"The new Bloomberg Businessweek magazine cover on LDS Church finances drew broad-based criticism Thursday.

"The Businessweek cover is in such poor taste it is difficult to even find the words to comment on it," said Michael Purdy, a spokesman for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Sadly, the cover is a reflection of the bias and speculative nature of the article itself. It is narrow and incomplete, omitting, for instance, a good deal of information given on how church resources are used.

"The article misses the mark and the cover is obviously meant to be offensive to many, including millions of Latter-day Saints.""

WBMW: Mormon Beliefs about Heaven -- Before and After Life

Not only do Mormons believe in heaven, but we also believe that we lived in heaven before we came to this earth. In fact, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in heaven before and after this life -- and in actuality this life that we're now living, is only a blip in the total scheme of things: Our eternal journey to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father, and become like Him -- also referred to as the Plan of Happiness.

The Washington Post: Mormonism and the cult of name-calling - By By D.T. Bell and Ryan Bell of MormonAmerican.com

"There is much debate on whether Joseph Smith—the man who founded the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often known as the Mormon Church—was truly a prophet called of God, but one of his prophecies has undoubtedly come to pass. According to Smith, an angel visited him in the autumn of 1823, telling him that his name “should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that it should be both good and evil spoken of among all people.”"

Patheos: Six Reasons Why Mormons are Beating Baptist (In Church Growth)

"...one of the top four churches not only shows consistent growth, but growth continues year by year and decade by decade. Mormons, living in the same country and culture that Baptists do, just keep growing their church. Why? I propose six reasons:"

10 comments :

  1. Ugh....so mad, but I just can't even comment, it's so beyond fighting stupid...all I can say is this...I love paying my tithing, I love what it does. It makes me feel good knowing my money is being used for good, unlike my taxes, which are not. Anyway...

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    1. I sooo hear ya! I just try to remember that "by their fruits ye shall know them" -- meaning those truly seeking for the truth. You'd think we would be used to this kind of stuff, but somehow it just always seem to surprise me. Sigh...

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    2. I thought about this last nite as well....it's not ignorance, it's faith. I have faith that every April, when they give the statistical report of the Church and they say all is in order, that it truly is, and if it's not it's being taken care of in a fair manner.

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    3. Agree. Faith is at the very core of this conversation. But try to explain that to those who don't believe in spiritual workings, or critics of the Church.

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  2. The Bloomberg cover is just another example of religious bigotry and Jimmy crack corn, I don't care. That stuff used to offend me but nowadays I consider the source.

    I have a testimony of tithing. It is something Husband and I struggled with at first but we believe in the blessings of tithing and have experienced many blessings from God because of remaining obedient to this commandment.

    It's not about giving God money . of course He doesn't need the money. It's a principle of faith that when exercised allows for a greater understanding of how the Lord works.

    "By their fruits ye shall know them"---there is so much truth in that and one of the major reasons I converted to the LDS faith.

    The Polynesian Cultural Center is a wonderful, entertaining, educational place. Husband and I visited there on our honeymoon. Articles like Bloomberg's make it out to sound like it's some frivolous theme park. It's not.

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    1. I appreciate that not only did you bring out how we recognize goodness, but also how we come to know it for ourselves -- personal experience. Thank you for sharing.

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  3. Kathryn, thanks for your post. I am so angry and shocked (i honestly thought the cover was a fake at first) that i really appreciate your comments. In the end, however, these mockeries will matter very little. I am heartened by the on-going fulfillment of Joseph Smith's prophecy: "... the Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

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    1. Thanks for that reminder. It's so important to keep that in mind as we navigate the seeming murky waters of the world. From the Lord's perspective the path is marked clearly...

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  4. I just taught a lesson on 'The Scriptures' to my YW in church, and we discussed how important it is for us to focus on the eternal truths that are taught therein. The world would have us see things differently - as we see here with this article. So glad we have the words of prophets and the Lord to keep our focus. Makes it so much easier to look beyond such distortions. Thanks for sharing...

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    1. Indeed. I don't think we can stress enough, in particular with our youth, the importance of following the counsel, and direct revelation, that come from/through our prophets, for our day. Without prophets, and the Holy Ghost, even our beloved scriptures can easily be distorted as to their meaning.

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