One of the things I find I disagree with some active LDS about is the extent of formal LDS charitable giving and service related activities.
One of the arguments that I’ve read in various places on the internets is that the Utah LDS church DOES have a strong record of charitable giving. See the comments in Runtu’s post here. The comment I’d like to discuss is:
“These less publicized forms of service arenâ€™t supposed to bring wide recognition.”
I can bring to the table what I remember of youth service growing up as an active LDS teen. I can discuss what I know of ward farms and stake canning facilities. This is my own experience, and things might have changed since I was younger. And things might be different across the U.S. and the world. But I’m not sure how any of us can really know for sure without hard data. Until we have that data, it’s also conjecture – one perspective vs. another.
I’ve mentioned before that I have a large LDS extended family. Of my eight cousins who have served LDS missions, none have served service related missions. If they did service (building sewers, homes, etc.) on their missions, they have never talked about it. One of my grandmothers served in a genealogy mission in Salt Lake City. While the value of genealogy can be debated, I also don’t count this as charitable service either. What she did was useful. My grandmother would not be physically capable of building homes or sewers, and I’m not trying to give that impression.
Is it reasonable for a person (like myself) to ask an organization to be forthright about its charitable giving?
Many corporations and churches are very upfront about their donations. I think it’s reasonable (I’ve mentioned this before) that non profit organizations be required to discuss their charitable giving to maintain their tax-exempt status. If nothing else, to discuss their giving with their own membership/donors. To my mind, there should be nothing to hide. This is the same information that a corporation discusses with their shareholders.
If the LDS church does indeed donate a majority of their tithing funds to building maintenance and charitable service, why wouldn’t that information be a missionary tool?
From the above poster’s comment, the explanation is that the Utah LDS religion is choosing to be humble. They don’t want to be ostentatious with their giving – I’m assuming like the biblical parable of the Pharisee and the Publican.
My argument is that there is a great deal of suffering in this world. That suffering is not unique to the LDS people – or even potential LDS converts. The flooding in Iowa, the recent earthquake in China and the typhoon in Burma/Myanmar are current examples. No doubt there will be some aid from the central organization in Salt Lake to these efforts. But how much? And those are simply the most publicized examples, there is devastation from numerous wars, instable governments, world hunger and disease. While I’m sure that the LDS tithe paying members who can use the bishop’s storehouse have need and are grateful, there are plenty of other humans are also in need.
I donate a portion of my income each year to those in need.
I know where my donations go because I receive information from those organizations about my donation OR I can look up the information on the internet.
Those organizations are not trying to be showy. They are simply providing information to their donors (me) about where they spend their funds. It is a balance. I find out that my (hard earned) money is going to those in need, and they show to their donors that they are not misusing those funds. Again, I’m not implying that the LDS central organization is indeed misusing funds. But without data, there is really no way to know where those funds are being spent.