LDS Inc. owns .7% of Florida

Money Tithing

My brother-in-law came to visit last weekend. As science geeks, we tried to see a shuttle launch while he was here (the launch was canceled 11 minutes before liftoff because of weather – ugh!). On the way to watch the launch we stopped by Deseret Citrus and Cattle Ranch to see the Mormon Church’s ranching operations:

sign by main entrance
sign by main entrance

Alas, as former Mormons, we failed to consider that they wouldn’t offer tours on Sunday. But we stopped by the Visitor’s Center anyway and drove around a bit. Here’s the Visitor’s Center:

the Visitor's Center
the Visitor's Center

I knew from the Deseret Ranches’ website and this wikipedia page that the ranch was big, but actually driving around the ranch made me wonder just how big it is. So, I spent a good 10 hours or so trying to see if I could map out just how big the ranch is. After all that time, I realized it was simply too big for me to easily map out by myself. But, the research I did do provided me with some fascinating information.

First off, thanks to a corporation registration website in Florida, I was able to track the name changes of the holding companies for the ranch over the years, eventually finding the current name. It used to be Deseret Properties of Florida, Inc., Deseret Farms, Inc., Deseret Farms Inc., Deseret Ranches of Florida, Inc., Deseret Livestock Company, Deseret Properties of Florida, Inc., Deseret Ranches of Florida, Inc. (1), Deseret Ranches of Florida, Inc. (2), but it is now called Farmland Reserve, Inc.. Once I finally found the current holding company, I was able to visit the property tax appraisers’ websites for the three main counties where the ranch is located: Osceola, Orange, and Brevard. On those sites I found all the property listings of Farmland Reserve, Inc. Here’s a summary of what I found after I added them all up:

County Acres Value
Osceola 182,685.50 $763,252,812.00
Orange 64,843.57 $208,286,252.00
Brevard 41,559.66 $12,552,680.00
Hillsborough-FRI 3,952.94 $30,145,012.00
Total 293,041.67 $1,014,236,756.00

Yep, you’re eyes do not deceive you – LDS, Inc. has more than $1 billion in for-profit property in Florida. The acres convert to 457 square miles, or .7% of the State of Florida. I can’t say for certain, but my guess is that LDS, Inc. is the largest landholder in the state behind the government. For comparative purposes, Disney owns 25,000 acres (that’s all of their properties, not just Disney World), or about 1/12th of the land owned by the LDS, Inc. holding company.

To tally all of this information, I actually built a spreadsheet that you’re welcome to download and peruse. I also started drawing the land parcels in Google Earth, but once I realized just how many there were, I decided I just didn’t have the time. I did complete all the land in Orange County and started on the land in Osceola County. If you want to see the maps or, better yet, if you’d like to improve/complete the maps, you can download them here: Orange County, Osceola County. If you do download them and improve them, please send me a copy of the updated versions as I’d like to have them.

As I was searching through these listings, on a whim I decided to see if Farmland Reserve, Inc. owned any property in my county, Hillsborough, FL, which is all the way across the state from Osceola and Brevard Counties. Turns out they do (see above table). That’s in addition to the $12 million owned by “Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Corporation”, which is the company that holds the churches. This makes me wonder just how much property Farmland Reserve Inc. owns. I checked a couple additional counties in Florida but didn’t find any more property.

One of the reasons I wanted to visit the ranch is because my aunt and uncle recently completed a mission there (I should have gone while they were there, but never made it). The amazing thing about the fact that they served a mission there is that they did zero proselytizing and they paid to serve their mission. So, what did they do? My uncle was a high school shop teacher. He knows how to build and repair homes. So, they put him to work building homes on the ranch. He’s round 70 years old and was working 12 hour days 6 days a week for 18 months. His wife ran some of the tours and did other odd jobs around the ranch. When I found out that my aunt and uncle were paying for the opportunity to work for Farmland Reserve, Inc., a billion dollar for profit company, I was not very happy. Not only did the LDS Church use tithing money to buy the ranch (I’m assuming, maybe it was profit from some other business venture), but now it makes people pay for the opportunity to make one of their subsidiaries money. How is that at all ethical?

To wit, the obvious question is: How does the billion dollar ranching operation of the LDS Church further its religious aims? Why does a religion need a billion dollar ranch? Anyone?

Finally, all this searching around for property owned by LDS, Inc. led me to realize that we, the MSP community, could probably put together a pretty good estimate of the property holdings of LDS, Inc. (in the US at least) fairly easily if we distributed the work among us. If each person looked up the holdings of LDS, Inc. in their county and put them in a spreadsheet, we could aggregate them and keep a running total of known property value of the LDS religion. It would make a cool little widget for MSP to display. Thoughts?

259 thoughts on “LDS Inc. owns .7% of Florida

  1. LDS Law Student first comment:

    The Church did not profit from their work; however, poor people did benefit from their work, which is probably why donated their time. So, bottom line: the Church does not profit from free labor.

    LDS Law Student realizing his mistake and applying funny logic to justify his ignorance:

    So, in regard to your relatives that served a mission, I suppose to them and to the Church, it doesn’t matter whether their mission work was on a not-for-profit farm or a for-profit farm because the reserves from the commercial entities are used to further build the Kingdom of God.

    So, the Church does benefit from free labor, but that’s okay now that you know they do, despite the insinuation from your first post that the Church never would?

    Ahhh… So refreshing to observe blind faith in action, “If the leaders of the religion do it, it must be right. Even if I just said that doing so would probably be wrong.”

  2. Profxm,

    I admitted I was wrong about the farm being for-profit. At least I can be honest and admit when I’m wrong.

    “If the leaders of the religion do it, it must be right. Even if I just said that doing so would probably be wrong.”

    That’s just it. You are insinuating that the leaders are somehow profiting off of missionary work and off the commercial entities of the church; they are not. It is this sentiment that I was addressing. I have no problem with the church owning .7% or 70% of Florida. I have no problem with members asking to serve as missionaries to further the goals of the church. If you want to call that blind obedience, go ahead and think whatever you need to think about me and every other Mormon to justify your actions and your “blind” hatred.

  3. You missed the point.

    Props to you for admitting you were wrong.

    Props withdrawn for only admitting you were wrong when you found out that the brethren were doing something you thought was unethical and then changing whether or not you think it is unethical because the brethren are doing it.

    This is what I call “blind faith”: You can’t be convinced by rational arguments (though, in all fairness, that remains to be seen), but you find out that the leadership of the religion are employing volunteers in their for-profit businesses and suddenly that’s okay. In other words, reason doesn’t change your mind, but your obedience to the leadership of your religion does. That’s not rational. That’s irrational. That’s blind faith.

    BTW, stop playing the “you’re all bigoted, hate-filled anti-Mormons” card. It won’t win you any friends here. I have Mormons I care deeply about staying in my home right now. Most of our families are still Mormon. We can disagree with you without hating you. We can even think some of the things you believe are abhorrent and still be nice to you. Just because we aren’t Mormon doesn’t mean we are anti-Mormon. And just because we used to be Mormon doesn’t mean we’re no longer human.

    We don’t ban people from posting on MSP, but if you keep flaming, you’ll get flame back.

  4. So, in regard to your relatives that served a mission, I suppose to them and to the Church, it doesnt matter whether their mission work was on a not-for-profit farm or a for-profit farm because the reserves from the commercial entities are used to further build the Kingdom of God. This would only be disturbing if certain persons received more money based on the Churchs income, but such is not the case and never will be.

    You’re dead certain, then, that the CEO and so on of Farmland Reserve Inc. and other church-owned for-profit companies never get performance bonuses, a perfectly ordinary form of compensation for executives in American corporations?

    I think the Churchs financial machinations ought to be a model for all. …If only our government could operate similar to the LDS Church, we would be vastly more wealthy as a nation than we are today.

    So… the government should keep all its financial affairs a secret? Nobody outside government should know how much money the government gets or has or how it uses it?

  5. I still agree with my comments in #43 that a call for transparency is simply that, a request for transparency. LDS law student, thank you for your comments. I think we wouldn’t be having this conversation if the information (about Deseret Management and the not for profit LDS church) were available to the public. But they are not.

    Also, not sure if anyone has mentioned this yet or not, but LDS General Authorities are paid a stipend. Stake Presidents and bishops are not (to my knowledge), but the leadership in SLC is paid. So the ministry is not completely unpaid.

    If being honest and pointing out that General Authorities are paid a stipend is anti-mormon, or asking for religions to be transparent in their financial reporting is anti-mormon – than I must be anti-mormon.

  6. Your consternation at the size and profitability of the Deseret Ranch appears to emanate from an outsiders perspective of the concepts of Church welfare, missionary service, and faith. I spent enough time as a non-member to understand why some of these concepts would seem foreign and potentially violate your personal sense of ethics, but there are a few facts you failed to dredge up in all that sleuthing about how big the ranch really is. If you had bothered to get information before you got there, you would have been treated to a free tour of the ranch by the wonderful sister missionaries (like your aunt), full openness about how much land it covers, how many head of cattle they have, and a host of other interesting facts. You might also have gotten a clue as to why it isn’t a “welfare farm”, but an operating, for-profit venture. The profits go directly back into the Church funds for temple and meeting house construction, humanitarian aid, and a host of other church activities that directly benefit the members and the communities in which they live.
    As for your aunt and uncle serving their missions there, 1- serving the mission was their choice. Not one forced them to labor as they did, and if it were detrimental to their health, they were perfectly free to walk away from it at any time. 2- You obviously don’t understand the faith, love, and personal fulfillment that service to your God and your community can bring. And this isn’t a Mormon thing. It’s a religious thing. The confirmation of the blessings received when in the service of the Lord are verified from millions, perhaps billions of people of all faiths. Why are you using their faithful gift that they chose themselves to render as evidence of some “unethical” practice? Get a clue. This isn’t a Mormon thing at all, and it’s hard to understand why you are criticizing them for the practice of their faith.
    Furthermore, you have calculated the extent of real estate holding of the LDS church and it turns out to be what you consider to be a big number. Have you ever thought to try to calculate the real estate holdings of the Catholic Church? Or, to put it in perspective, have you ever thought to calculate the holdings of all religious bodies on the earth, and compare how much the LDS church owns to that? Please, spare me. Yes, the Deseret Ranch is the largest ranch in America but there is a reason for that, and you have just really not dug deep enough nor taken the time to get data for comparison that is meaningful and relevant.
    And yes, you are an anti-Mormon. There is no law in this land that says that any church has to make their financial reporting totally transparent to the world. Where is your assessment of any other church on the same issue? What’s your comparison? There isn’t any. I seriously do not understand your consternation at this concept. If you weren’t anti-Mormon, you would have taken the time to talk to the Mormons and get the facts and realize that most of them are like your aunt and uncle, whom it puzzles me that you didn’t spend the time to get to know to understand why they do what they do, and what it really means. You had a perfect opportunity to have the real inside track there, see things maybe even the average visitor doesn’t get to see, and bam, you let the chance slip by. Congratulations. I guess you’d rather waste your time digging for information they would have given you in a few minute chat with them. I feel sad for you.

  7. To comment #2- The LDS church divested itself of a number of commercial holdings in the late 1970’s I believe to focus more on ecclesiastical affairs. The Church Ranch, in contrast, serves ecclesiastical purposes on many levels, including the principal of welfare. If you want to do more research on that, I’m sure the Salt Lake newspaper archives can help you in that time period.

  8. Hey Helmut (comment #30). I’m a Relief Society President. I do food runs for all kinds of people, regardless of their tithe-paying status. It’s a Bishop’s decision. He’s told me that Welfare should be for those who pay their tithes and attend church, but we don’t set that as the only standard when we administer welfare.

    And besides that, who are you to judge how the Bishops decide who gets welfare? Their calling is to be a judge in Israel, and their decisions can and should be guided by the Holy Ghost. Maybe that doesn’t always happen- that’s part of the learning we all need here on earth. Until you HAVE been a Bishop and had to make those decisions, you will never know what the Holy Ghost will tell you. And you will know that you will never make perfect decisions. As a Relief Society President, I rely on my Bishop for his insight, and also the Holy Ghost for promptings on who to serve. I have found that if I am in doubt, I follow the motto, “Charity Never Faileth”. But someone else, another RS President, might not be at that maturity or level. One thing I’m really not seeing in this chain of comments is any real insight on the part of those critical to the Church on what that growth is all about. And they will never have it until after the practice of their faith. (Faith precedes the miracle).

    To proxfm:
    I guess the content of this argument I am reading is so annoying is because it is so absolutely trivial in comparison to the real work of the Lord in this world. profxm seems to have no understanding of the really deep meanings of faith, hope, charity, service, selflessness, stewardship, blessings, obedience, humility, joy, eternity, sacrifice, missionary, and Christian. Until proxfm gets out of his narrowly constrained, self-centered universe, and delves much more deeply in a very personal way with the foundations of true Christ-like love, he will never understand why how the Church manages the financial responsibilities it has is irrelevant to the servant to has been given all by his or her Lord, and recognizes, with immense gratitude the absolute necessity for personal obedience to the commandments of the Lord, including that of paying a full tithing. Believe me, it’s not really about the money that the Lord cares about. It is the broken heart and contrite spirit that the Lord seeks, and tithing, just like all other gifts we give to the Father, is just another ultimately valueless thing that He asks us to give up for a better thing- for Him. And if you think this is some blind-faith kind of thing, I can assure you that I have earned the right to state these things with no reservation, and with clear understanding of the alternate view- because I have been on the other side of understanding. And I was raised to be questioning.

    I also have many friends of many faiths who are dedicated tithe payers- minimum of 10% at least, who understand tithing as a true principal and not a “money generating practice” of the church. To single out the Mormon church for their tithing practices is hypocritical. To think that tithing is all about getting to the next level of the celestial kingdom is naive and superficial.

    I too was raised to be questioning. But I was raised to truthfully be seeking the truth. I don’t see that in your “analysis” or your defense of your judgment of “ethics” violations against the church. What I do see is a very self-centered person with some specific antagonism against the LDS Church in particular, and you are publishing misleading information and making moral judgments that simply you are not qualified to make. Next time, it would great if you could be more forthcoming about why you really feel a need to criticize. What purpose are you really trying to serve? What is your point?

    Or are you just trying to get back at a religious organization that offended your sense of entitlement to act in a way it didn’t condone?

  9. Do you realize that if you try to change the rules (the laws) that you seem to think the Church is exploiting unethically, you change the law for ALL churches? Does that really make sense? Think about it.

  10. jens…

    First, ad hominem attacks against me are a waste of time and a logical fallacy. I’m not sure why you feel the need to attack me, personally, but who I am and how “self-centered” I am is completely irrelevant to the point of the post. Your welcome to accuse me of all sorts of nonsense without ever having met me or without knowing anything about me if it makes you feel better about yourself. But, in no way does it change the arguments I made or the information I presented.

    Second, if you had read my post carefully you would have realized that I do bemoan the fact that I didn’t visit the ranch while my aunt and uncle where there. We overlapped living in FL for about 6 months is all and I was starting a new job at that time. So, the timing didn’t work out. I wish I had visited them. Ergo, there’s no point criticizing me for something I have already said I wish I had done.

    Third, one of your defenses of the ranch is basically a justification of possibly unethical behavior (which, in the comments, had you read those, I admitted was difficult to discern) by citing more unethical behavior. Basically you are saying, “LDS Inc. isn’t that bad if you compare it to Catholic Inc.” Let me see if I can make the flaw in this argument more apparent by replacing “land” with something else, like slaves: “Having one slave isn’t that bad if you compare it to having 100 slaves.” Um, well, actually, having 1 slave is still bad. So, trying to justify LDS Inc.’s bad behavior by citing worse behavior by Catholic Inc. is not going to convince anyone.

    Fourth… You obviously have only read this one post on this cite. Had you looked at my other posts you would have seen that I am an equal-opportunity critic. I criticize Catholicism, Islam, Fundamentalist Christianity, Republicans, Democrats, America, Obama, etc. I criticize all those I think warrant criticism. I guess that makes me: anti-Catholic, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian, anti-Republican, anti-Democrat, anti-American, and anti-Obama as well, since apparently the criteria you have for someone being anti-Mormon is that they criticize Mormonism. I also occasionally criticize food I eat, water I drink, my own tendency to eat too much at times, my tendency to spend to much time on the internet, etc. Ergo, I’m also anti-food, anti-water, anti-myself, anti-myself on the internet, etc. That, of course, is ridiculous. By your criteria, you are anti-profxm. The horror! You should be ashamed of yourself! 😉

    Oh, and of course calling me an anti-Mormon is also an ad hominem, like much of your other comments. Ergo, it is a logical fallacy and really not much appreciated here. If you have an issue with me pointing out that the LDS Church has a for-profit farm that is massive and worth lots of money, explain what that issue is. But simply calling me names because I pointed it out does nothing to address the issue: LDS Inc. uses service missionaris on its for-profit properties to increase profit. That is arguably unethical, but a debatable issue.

    Your last point is bizarre. Your basically saying that revealing their finances should only be done if all religions have to do so. Um, yeah, sure. Of course, some religions do this voluntarily because they don’t want to be criticized for this exact type of behavior. But I also have no problem with all religions being required to reveal this information. In fact, I’d love for that to be the case. Ergo, what’s your point?

  11. Good to meet you, Jens. Since the brethren are asking me to finance their activities, I consider it my duty to make sure that the money is used in a responsible manner.

  12. Do you realize that if you try to change the rules (the laws) that you seem to think the Church is exploiting unethically, you change the law for ALL churches? Does that really make sense? Think about it.

    Of course, that would make a lot of sense. If religious organizations want a government subsidy by being tax exempt then every tax payer ought to know how that money is being used.

  13. Given that this is true:

    There is no law in this land that says that any church has to make their financial reporting totally transparent to the world.

    How do you know that this is:

    The profits go directly back into the Church funds for temple and meeting house construction, humanitarian aid, and a host of other church activities that directly benefit the members and the communities in which they live.

  14. For Kuri,
    It turns out that one does not have to have full public financial disclosure to be assured that profits go back into the Church funds as I stated. Turns out also that if you’re a member of the Church, you can work for the Church in the accounting department, and get insight into what happens. I have a friend that, those he doesn’t share details, has given me a general idea of where things go.
    So, you might say that is not sufficient. But I beg to differ. An additional point of evidence is the character of my friend, the character of the leaders of the Church, and the character of the people operating the Church. The character of my friend is beyond question in my opinion. The character of the leaders of the Church are exemplary. If you doubt this, take a look at the lives they live, the talks they give, and everything about them. They’re human of course, but there is total consistency between what they preach and what they do and believe. As a member of the Church, I listen to them frequently, and have close family members who know some of them personally. True, it is a personal witness, but in the end, much of what profxm rages against is contingent on a personal witness. The error he makes is that he believes that open public disclosure of their books is the only route to “keeping them honest” and avoiding ethics violations. The truth is, they actually believe in God, and they know that they will stand at the bar of God and be judged. For a person of faith, that can be more compelling than civil law for compliance to ethics.
    In addition to that, the LDS Church has been through sufficient legal trials in their history, that they will never knowingly violate laws for non-profits and how they are operated. The IRS has full legal authority to audit their operations and compliance to the law at any time, and if there were indications of impropriety, I am certain they would have been investigated by now. You have only to learn a little history about how the church has operated regarding the Church ranch (public records) to know that they will comply with the law. So how is there an ethics violation if they are compliant?

    To profxm:
    I kind of baited you a bit with that earlier post. Wanted to see if you could pick out the points. A key element you missed is something Matthew stated in an earlier post- you come from a perspective of an American, Protestant model of church operation. Your vision is limited. I suggested you understand a number of terms, including faith, commitment, and service. This wasn’t to impune your character. It was a comment about the need for common definitions when discussing a topic. As we likely have very different understandings of the many terms integral a discussion of ethics and Christian belief, there can be no real progress until all parties agree on the definitions. I continue to encourage you to come to an understanding, especially from an LDS perspective of those terms listed above. Your aunt and uncle should be able to help.

    I also was waiting to hear how an ex-Mormon as yourself proclaim to be, could lack so much understanding of the gospel terms and how the church operates, such as how missionaries are called, and why they serve. Former members of the LDS church generally have their reasons why they left, but they generally know more than you apparently do. I guess I just generalized a little too much about you. I expected you to know more.

    As to my “other churches” comments, I think you miss the point also. The local Lutheran church had a bake sale to raise money (for profit) to send kids to camp. Other local church has huge annual or regular events to send people on missions, to support the homeless, to do any number of what we consider Christian activities which we also consider to be good for the community and to save souls. I find it totally unnecessary for me to question their ethics in raising money in profit-making activities even if it is to pay for what might seem to some to be a cushy camp in a kind of resort surrounding. Not mine to judge.

    So you might question the scale, but scale is irrelevant to the ethics question. It either is or is not ethical for a non-profit to engage in profit making activities for their legal uses to further their non-profit and ecclesiastical belief system.

    So far you have accused the Church of ethics violations based on scale of operation and a lack of knowledge of the law. My point about other churches is that you SHOULD take this ethics question beyond a criticism of the LDS Church, and to a higher level- is ANY non-profit organization justified in engaging if for-profit activity without full and unadulterated disclosure of those activities to the entire world? I think many of the comments above speak to this. But I believe the insinuations that the Church “uses” people inappropriately and other unfounded accusations of impropriety when you absolutely do not understand the scope and terms of events or practices, should not be used to engage the discussion on ethics.

  15. That’s a really long comment, so here’s a shorter jens:

    You sillies! We have the bestest leaders in the whole world! They’re so good and nice, they’d never ever do anything bad, even by mistake! Don’t you know anything?!

  16. kuri, excellent summary.

    jens… I don’t really think you know what you’re talking about. It’s like you’re dismissing my arguments because I don’t agree with how you see the world, which is pretty much like saying, “You (profxm) must be wrong because you disagree with me and, of course, I’m right.” Um, that’s not an argument.

    As far as knowing how missionaries are called and serve, I’m fairly clear on that. I was called and served my time – 2 full years. Why they serve… Well, there are a lot of reasons for that. I love the next ad hominem you introduce in the midst of this discussion: “Oh, and by the way, profxm, you’re an idiot.” Right. Thanks. Compelling argument!

    The last part of your comment is mind-boggling. You’re the one who raised the issue of scale and said that the Catholic Church is worse than Mormonism, so Mormonism must not be that bad. I said scale was irrelevant. You are now saying, “scale is irrelevant.” Um, okay. Thanks for agreeing with me.

    I’m also baffled by your assumption that a Lutheran Church was raising money “for profit” when the goal was to send kids to camp. How is that “for profit”? Profit implies it went into someone’s pocket for personal use. Ergo, if the Lutheran Church had a bake sale and gave all the proceeds to the local pastor for his retirement account, that would have been “for profit.” To send kids to a summer Bible camp seems like a non-profit motive.

    I never said the scale of the ranch was the ethical problem. I just think the scale is amazing. Whether or not the ranch is 1 meter square or .7% of the state of Florida is irrelevant. Is it a for-profit ranch owned by a church? If so, then I wonder why a church needs that? And why is it right to have people volunteer for a for-profit company?

    FYI, there has recently been a hubbub about unpaid internships not being legal (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/03/business/03intern.html). Basically this is when a for-profit corporation allows people to “intern” for them without paying them (with some added criteria). I fail to see how the situation with my aunt and uncle is all that different – they were volunteering for a for-profit company. Yeah, they knew they were, but at some fundamental level that seems wrong to me.

    Whenever you’re ready to actually take issue with this argument in a coherent way, feel free to let me know.

  17. When a person is “called to serve” they really volunteer but are given an assignment by the church. There are people who are provided for by the bishops storehouse without paying tithing but it is according to the discression of the bishop (leader of the congregation). I have seen it both ways. Remember, all leaders of this church are also volunteers although the church provides many paying jobs like the full time ranchers at this property.The church generally does not turn away the needy and will often assist them in other ways if they won’t financially. On another note, the ranch better make some profit or it will not be able to pay taxes. As far as disclosure, you might want to visit lds.org and read what our church is doing and is about. Maybe you should call the church office in Salt Lake City and see who they would have you speak with to get your questions answered. Although the ranch is for profit, when a missionary serves there they are serving the church, which is non-profit. I served a mission in the same manner and was very glad to do so. I plan to do it again.

    Best Regards

  18. Also see deseretranchflorida.com for the history and function of the ranch.

    Good Day!

  19. Although the ranch is for profit, when a missionary serves there they are serving the church, which is non-profit.

    Can you explain how that works from a legal standpoint? Does the (for-profit) ranch calculate the value of your labor and then transfer the amount to the (non-profit) church as a donation?

  20. I do not get why anyone other than the LDS church should be worried about all of this. If people want to donate their time and pay their own expenses for that, why would it make any difference to their nephew? It is none of their business.

    The LDS church can use tithing for whatever purposes they wish. If you do not pay it, then you do not have a dog in the fight. If you do, you understand that once you donate it, it is not yours to control.

    Why do former members of the church get so worked up about something they left behind?

  21. Thanks for stopping by, Carl, but if we used that logic, we could excuse any ordinary huckster. Non-profit should be transparent, especially, in their financial dealings.

    After all, they receive a subsidy from the tax payer, which means that all of us have a stake in what’s going on.

  22. I have a question. How do members of the LDS church write their tithes off on their taxes, when the LDS church is obviously NOT not-for-profit? I’m very interested in this. Thank you.

  23. Technically, the LDS religion is registered as a non-profit. That is the organization that receives the donations. That organization also happens to own a whole bunch of for-profit corporations. But because of the favoritism shown toward religion in the US, that is perfectly legal. So, Mormons can donate, tax-free, to the religion, which has full discretion over how the money is used, including building for-profit businesses, like malls or apartments. It can then slough those for-profit arms off under separate corporate entities and profit off them like crazy, donating some of the proceeds back to the religion. That’s simply religion in the US.

  24. I thought I would add a comment here. There are parts of the Ranch that are used for Bishops storehouses. There are also parts that are used for beef and other productions. The church owns many companies throughout the country and probably the world. Yes people are getting paid for their work and they don’t have to be LDS to work there. The church also has many investments and land holdings. If you check you would probably find that in Missouri alone they own a lot of farm land. As for being secretive with their records I think you might find they do open their books up for those who have a need to see and know what is going on (like the government). It would also be shocking to many that they hold stock portfolios, whoa that is shocking to say the least. There was an Arizona newspaper that thought they would be able to find so much corruption in the LDS church at the time when so many TV evangelists were proving to be corrupt, they asked the church to open their records for them. The church gladly accommodated them and to the newspapers utter amazement they found no corruption and everything was in order. The article was the finally a positive one about the church. Wake up people the operations provide jobs, food for sale, investment opportunities and help welfare principles in many areas. Yes they also provide funds for the church as do the other investments. The church also provides a ton of resources to areas struck by disaster, poverty, and need. They don’t get much press on these and aren’t checked into by people because to do so wouldn’t be exciting news. (They are supposed to be doing that anyway, Right?)

    A testimony isn’t built on this kind of propaganda nor is it built on everything the church does for good. Not one principle of the Gospel limits your freedom but actually frees you from those things that enslave you.

    The word of wisdom if lived properly provides one of the best diet and life living plans for good health and keeps you from addictions and life constraints the harmful substances in the long run enslave you. Keep trying to put down principles of righteousness and justify it because of your so called secret ways of the church. Paying tithing to any church will bring blessings to anyone. There are certain consequences to any action you do. I for one enjoy my life and my membership in the LDS church even though it is tough to live and I have to repent a lot, but I know I am also growing and nothing the church has me do is destructive or damaging to me, nothing.

  25. As for being secretive with their records I think you might find they do open their books up for those who have a need to see and know what is going on (like the government).

    The for-profit ventures owned by the corporation of the president (of ht CoJCoL-dS) must report their earnings to the IRS for tax purposes. Considering that the IRS is legally obligated to keep this information secret, this disclosure is really no more “open” than if you go to the bishop and openly confess something to him confidentially in his office.

    It would also be shocking to many that they hold stock portfolios, whoa that is shocking to say the least.[…] They dont get much press on these and arent checked into by people because to do so wouldnt be exciting news.

    Well, if they’re totally open about what they own, then what’s the problem with us discussing it?

    The thing that surprises me most about your point here is how many Mormons keep fixating on this one post that was put up almost two years ago. So it’s not news that the CoJCoL-dS has a sh*tload of money and investments? Fabulous! Than why are you bothering to dredge up a two-year-old post to make sure we know how un-newsworthy it is…?

  26. Something David wrote was news to me:

    Paying tithing to any church will bring blessings to anyone.

    Is that doctrinal?

    Otherwise, all talk of doctrine and blessings aside, everyone seems to agree it’s old news that LDS tithing funds wind up benefiting some much more than others.

  27. I happened upon this sight because I was looking for information about the church farms in Florida and had an opportunity to go to a rodeo there and work with a welfare beehive operation there so as to the

    “The thing that surprises me most about your point here is how many Mormons keep fixating on this one post that was put up almost two years ago. So its not news that the CoJCoL-dS has a sh*tload of money and investments? Fabulous! Than why are you bothering to dredge up a two-year-old post to make sure we know how un-newsworthy it is?”

    that you state because this is an item that shows up in a search and there are so many misrepresented so called facts here that you are all un-informed about due to lack of effort to find out you just want to put down very worthwhile organization. What are your true reasons for putting it down…because you are offended? because you sin and are downtrodden? because you don’t think you sin and need to justify your actions? because the church would have you live a higher law than you currently do? because you get some self satisfaction with it all? Really, think about your motives because mine are about ensuring correct information gets out Not trying to tear down you or any organization you are involved with.

    As to the idea of “doctrine” for the paying tithing look at most books written on bettering your investment and earnings such as “Rich Dad Poor Dad” you will see that the author relates to the reader that giving to charities and I believe he indicates a 10% amount actually helps to increase your income. Not doctrine but what I and others have learned by doing. I have a close friend who is a Baptist preacher and he has agreed with this idea as well.

    I have seen where and how the money is applied, I have seen welfare principles in work within the church. If you think you know where the money goes to and yet you are not part of the church and have seen it in action then your comments are of no validity.

    No one is asking you to donate to any church or charity. Maybe you donate time? Maybe you feel self gratified with doing nothing. There is no way I can know your situation nor do I care to. It’s your life live it as you might. Serve who you will or won’t. Make accusations you know the very least about. Try to satisfy what ever goal you have with your actions and comments. I will still serve where I want, live my life and help others when I can. It still stands that Nothing the church has shown me or asked of me has ever taken me down or hurt me in any way, but actually has lifted me up and helped me in my life.

    More than government officials have access as most information is public but I doubt that just anyone walking in off the streets would be able to just ask and see… there would have to be a verifiable reason…Think about it…you wouldn’t just let anyone have access to your financial information in this day and age. So say what you want unless you are an accredited organization then no I don’t think you will get access. Plus I doubt you have even tried.

    It’s funny how my comments though only directed at the church and defending it bring so much irritation to you to try to put me or my comments down.

    For this sight …thanks for the information on the church ranch, I doubt I will come here again but I did get the information I was looking for. Have a great day.

  28. What are your true reasons for putting it downbecause you are offended? because you sin and are downtrodden? because you dont think you sin and need to justify your actions? […] Have a great day.

    *sigh* Um, well, you have a great day, too…

  29. Chino @ 128:

    everyone seems to agree its old news that LDS tithing funds wind up benefiting some much more than others.

    Are you saying that when tithing is dispersed, it’s not just to build temples and meetinghouses, provide materials for Mormons to study, and for seminaries to help Mormons learn the gospel, but is sometimes geared toward “pet projects” that favor certain LDS families over other LDS families?

  30. No, I’m not saying it’s only “sometimes” … favoring certain LDS families over others in the awarding of contracts is endemic, i.e., it’s standard operating procedure.

    What’s especially disheartening is how members of the LDS church have been trained to believe that it’s normal for churches to be so secretive about how funds are dispersed, as if the folks making the contributions aren’t worthy to know how the money is being spent.

  31. I’m willing to bet that all of those shipping outfits that deliver this food all over the world don’t do so for free. The Church has to earn money in some places to pay for expenses in others. If every member of the Church on earth (children included) paid a full tithe (impossible) and earned the Median US income of 40K annually (also impossible), then the church would still only pull in $60 Billion a year in tithes. They gave away, GAVE away $87.8 Billion in Humanitarian aide last year. None of which came from tithes. Where do you think this money comes from? The Church pays taxes on everything, property, holdings, income. The Church forfeited tax exemption due to costs for IRS audits every year.
    It seems the Church is being very responsible with these sacred funds and truly caring for the poor. Building Greenhouses in Bolivia, Coconut Biodiesel Plants in the South Pacific, disaster relief all over. All from the sacrifice of its members.
    And I admire your Aunt and Uncle for donating their time, energy, and most importantly their knowledge to those less fortunate. Obviously, they haven’t rubbed off on you. Poverty will only truly be solved when the most valuable things we possess are given to those without. Knowledge and experience are far longer lasting and more productive than any cash offering.

  32. AintTooProudToRepent…

    What’s your source for your $87.8 billion dollar give away? I ask because that number is absolutely absurd. I don’t think the LDS Church even has that much money from all of its combined operations. Did you just make that number up?

    Also, the LDS Church does not pay taxes on its religious land holdings – no religions do. Yes, they pay taxes on their for-profit land holdings, but not on their church buildings or temples. That’s basic tax law.

    Also, the LDS Church does not pay taxes on tithes. That is federal, state, and local law. They don’t have to report tithing income to the IRS and they pay no taxes on it. As a religion, they don’t have to. Again, you are illustrating remarkable ignorance of tax law.

    You claim the Church forfeited tax exemption – again, what’s your source? If that is true, there should be a tax record. I’ve never, ever seen one and I’ve looked.

    Finally, as far as the Church being responsible for these funds, that’s an open question… Since they don’t actually report (nor do they have to) what they do with them, we have no idea how the funds are used.

    AintTooProudToRepent, your ignorance and naivete are stunning. Take a couple of hours to familiarize yourself with IRS tax policy regarding religions. You’ll realize pretty quickly that the LDS Church isn’t doing any of the stuff you claim.

    I do like one thing you said, “Poverty will only truly be solved when the most valuable things we possess are given to those without.” Seems kind of reasonable. So why give to a religion that has so much? Why not give directly to those without? Oh, right, you meant give the gospel. And that makes people financially sound how?

  33. I’m sorry that I didn’t have time to read all of your post. I am a current member of the church and I live in FL. I am very proud of the fact that we own a huge part of Fl. I think it has proven to be a very wise move, financially and practically. I’m not sure I understand the point of shaming the church for turning a profit or shaming any member for defending it. For those who are no longer members, it is easy to stray. The church requires much of us and it sure is easier to leave it. The reason some try so hard to devalue and criticize the church is that they may be insecure with their own standings in their own church or they are insecure in their own lives. I do not spend my time crushing other religions or others. I could, but chose not to. Even right now it is very tempting. I have seen our funds help others but that is not up to me to defend. No matter what you think you know, know matter what you want to make up to confuse others. The truth is what matters. I don’t really care if you know it or not. I’m not sure if you are trying to educate or desecrate.

  34. Kuri and profxm:
    I just went back and read more post. I decided that you were not worth the time of my original post. Kuri— The fact that you couldn’t give a descent response to Jen’s long comment disqualifies you from this conversation. Ex: “You sillies! We have the bestest leaders in the whole world! Theyre so good and nice, theyd never ever do anything bad, even by mistake! Dont you know anything?!” Jen told you they were still human and you responded like a child.
    profxm—- Jen is correct. When you are a member, certain terms are used frequently and for you not to know them, well that is very telling.

  35. Little R,

    You’re so cute. First you defend the religion, then you say that discussing this issue with us isn’t worth your time, then you take more time to attack Kuri and I personally rather than actually address the arguments being made. Adorable!

    I’m going to try to make this as easy as possible for you. All you have to do is answer these three questions: (1) Is it okay for a religion to own a for profit ranch? (2) Why? (3) Is it okay for a for-profit ranch to have volunteers work for it to increase the profits of the ranch?

    You think you can answer those questions? Or would you like to impugn my character some more?

  36. Little R,

    If anybody were “disqualified” from the discussion it would be a person who is unable to understand parody. Or a person who is unable to recognize the contradiction in believing leaders are only human yet never make mistakes. Or a person who imagines that only some sort of “insecurity” could lead someone to criticize the church. Or a person who says the discussion in which s/he is voluntarily participating isn’t worth her/his time. Fortunately for you, though, none of those things count as “disqualifications” around here, so please feel free to carry on discussing.

  37. Kuri -Surely, you understand that I got your sarcasm? Not worth my time as in not worth any stress over it, but this is actually not a challenge. I will seek after praiseworthy and good things. If I feel I am doing some good, I will continue this.
    Your sarcasm was not worth the time. You are too easily offended.

    profxm– I am cute. Thanks for noticing. (funny 🙂
    Your character is irrelevant. It’s your intentions that are a concern. I do not have a problem with the ranch (or any business) turning a profit. I look at it as an investment for those who can give to those who need. As a member, I have many times been there and have made use of the land. My daughter just got back from girls camp and I didn’t pay a dime. It is so nice to know that.
    The ones who volunteer are not drones. They know. I’m not sure what your issue is with a business turning a profit is? The Church uses the profits for its members and there sake. I’m pretty sure you said you were one and you might have known someone who has benefit directly from these funds. I’m not sure how old you were when you were a member, you might have been too young to pay attention to others welfare. I do not fault you for that. As a member you also know that some are paid and many volunteer. Those who do a 9 to 5 job, are paid for there time. Those who volunteer either on an hourly basis or just come one day a week, do not recieve a salary. Volunteering is just that, VOLUNTEERING. These people want to help and do so in their spare time. They are coherent and know this. They are not being forced not brainwashed. I’m still not understanding the drama that surrounds this issue with you. Please explain more.

    How do you think the church provides all of the education funds, millions in aid, food in the store house for members that can’t afford to feed their families? and more. If you have a problem with charity, then it is your personal problem. Point being, there are two sides to this. One is your twisted version of reality and the other is the real version. Please try and tell me, your version of where you think the profits are going?

    You both are so concerned with criticizing the church instead of looking at the good. If you seek only the bad things in life then you will miss out on the good. Please read this article and judge for yourself.
    http://www.livestockweekly.com/papers/98/03/12/whldeseret.asp
    I would think others would use this Ranch as a model for there own.

    I just want you to answer one question: Why are you so concerned about this?

  38. Little R,

    I am heartbroken to learn that even though you “get” my sarcasm, you don’t find it “praiseworthy.”

  39. Little R,

    While you didn’t directly answer my questions, let’s pretend you did.

    You’re okay with businesses making a profit. So am I. But religions? Why do religions need a profit? Aren’t they in the business of saving souls? Who gets the profits? You didn’t really address this.

    You do seem to suggest that the LDS Church uses this money for:
    (1) education funds. That’s not true; most of that is loans that people have to pay back: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perpetual_Education_Fund So, the money for education isn’t coming from the ranch.
    (2) food and other aid. That, too is unlikely to be true. The LDS Church has a specific collection for aid (called a fast offering; remember?!?). So, the money from the ranch isn’t going there either. Also, just an FYI, they give a paltry amount of aid relative to what they take in: http://www.reddit.com/r/exmormon/comments/cdy61/from_1985_2008_2823_million_in_cash_and_8336/

    So, Little R, here’s my question for you: Where is the money going? And that is precisely the point. No one knows. And because of tax laws in the US, the LDS Church doesn’t have to tell anyone where the money is going, including the members of the religion as they are not shareholders. So, I don’t know where it is going. I do know Boyd K. Packer lives in a $1.4 million home and most of the other apostles have homes that are worth close to $500,000. So, certainly the top leadership are making plenty of money. But whether it is going into their pockets or not I can’t say. But I’d like to know.

    As far as the volunteering issue… As I already said, for-profit corporations walk a fine legal line when they bring in volunteers who they profit off of. Why? Because that is basically the equivalent of slavery: Work for me, I’ll make a profit, you get nothing. Sure, the “volunteers” at the Mormon Ranch are volunteering, but I’m pretty confident that when my Aunt and Uncle signed on to serve a mission they didn’t think they would be putting money into someone else’s pocket as a result. I think they were hoping to share the gospel with others.

    Two more points. What is your hang up with me criticizing the church? Do you really think it should be immune from criticism? My criticism is aimed at pointing out problems. Perhaps you should carefully consider your thoughts on the church if you really think no one should think critically about it. Keep in mind this is the organization that was influential in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, flagrantly violated federal laws by practicing polygamy (even after they claimed to have stopped), kept blacks from holding the priesthood until 1978, and works vigorously to deny homosexuals equal rights today. Maybe there are problems, Little R. Maybe you should consider the possibility that the church is a man-made institution that does not function perfectly. And that means there will be problems. And unless someone points out the problems, the church won’t change.

    Finally, maybe the Church is a model for ranching. Props to them. That still doesn’t change the fact that a religion runs a massive for profit ranch. I’d like to know why they think they need for profit businesses. Are they in the business of saving souls or making money?

  40. Profxm, Who are you to say that religions can not turn a profit? I did directly answer your questions, you choose to ignore my answers. Not my problem.
    I will read your all of your post later. Dinner time!!!!

  41. I’m back. So here it my question for you, where do you think the money is going? Just curious with all of this anti Mormon rhetoric.
    Also, your points on the church being flawed. Well, the church is not flawed. It is always possible for the people to be flawed.
    I don’t have a problem with you criticizing the church. As I said before, I have a problem with your intentions for that criticism and you just proved to me my point in your last statement. Your intentions are to lead people away.
    Your volunteering argument is silly. When you talk of slavery, perhaps you do not understand the difference between the two words. Slavery is when you are being held against your will. You are their property and are being forced to work. If this was the case then this would be a legal issue and would have been allllllllll ooooovvvvveeerrr the news. Volunteering, however is when you work on behalf of others without force for no pay. Do you understand now? You should try volunteering your time for GOOD no for the soul purpose of leading others away from GOOD.
    There is no debating with someone whose only intention is to desecrates without considering the cost.
    I know what fast offerings are. But fast offerings alone are not enough. especially now. A lot of members are in need and others are suffering too. To run the Bishop Storehouse it takes other sources. Nice anti- Mormon site you got the info from.
    As far as education, does the article say that the money does not come from the Ranch? Please prove to me that.
    Why would you assume the LDS church is doing something wrong? When is it illegal for the Ranch to turn a profit?
    I volunteer almost everyday at my sons school. I am not a slave. Everyone that works there gets paid, except the few volunteers. I don’t walk around thinking that those guys should be paying me for all of the time I put in. If so then I would become resentful and stop. How would that help others? Don’t forget, it is with my money (and the other volunteers) that these people are being paid.
    As far as Boyd K. Packer goes, There are many wealthy members of the church that are not leaders, are you assuming that they all earn there millions from the Ranch too? Please provide proof to this accusations. It wouldn’t be that they earned their money the old fashion way, by years of education and the many directors positions and as chairman of the board that he held of the many businesses. Not to mention being the author of 22 books. He was a bomber pilot in World War 11. (He says “Your Welcome). Served as a mission president, and is a educator by profession. So while you are pulling fake info from some part of your body only to try a destroy, this man has fought for his country (the one you live in), educated many, authored 22 books, served missions, earned his own money through attending college and building a career, served his callings diligently ( for free)in the church for more years than you have probably been living, married, raised 10 children, and still gets accusations by someone who thinks something is wrong. Got to love America. We except all kinds. Maybe if you would spend more of your time doing good, then you too could achieve these great things.
    It’s been really nice talking to you.

  42. Little R,

    1) I don’t know where the money is going. Do you? Nope. Precisely my point. No accountability. That is a problem.
    2) Brilliant illustration of fundamentalist thinking – you think the church isn’t flawed. FYI, the church is an institution, created by men. Might I recommend: http://mormonexpression.com/2011/01/18/episode-104-the-poelman-conference-talk/
    3) You do have a problem with me criticizing the church. That’s why you are here, attacking me and claiming I’m just out to destroy all that is good. How disingenuous of you.
    4) You’re missing the point on volunteering. When you volunteer at the school, do they make a profit off of you? No. It’s a non-profit. Would you volunteer for, say, McDonald’s, cooking burgers? Why not? Because they would be making a profit off of you. You would expect to get paid. My Aunt and Uncle were volunteering for a for-profit corporation that made money off of them, and they volunteered for that. That is closer to slavery than volunteering, especially considered that the church used its call for missionaries to convince them to serve, unpaid, working for a for-profit corporation. That is unethical.
    5) “There is no debating with someone whose only intention is to descreates without considering the cost.” Nice ad hominem. Please stick to the point at hand. I haven’t insulted you personally. I’d prefer that you not insult me. And please stop trying to claim you know what my intentions are. You don’t.
    6) How do you know fast offerings are not enough? Do you have any idea how much is collected? My guess is no. Because no one knows except the bigwigs at LDS headquarters and they don’t tell people like you. So, you can’t assume it’s not enough. For all I know it’s plenty.
    7) Claiming something is anti-Mormon is your way of sticking your head in the sand and dismissing valid criticisms. It’s also an ad hominem. Doesn’t work here.
    8 ) As far as education goes, those are loans. Loans!!! Get it, loans!!! People pay them back. It doesn’t matter where the money comes from to begin with, the church isn’t giving it away. It’s making interest off members by giving them loans. And you’re defending that.
    9) I never said making a profit was illegal. I have repeatedly, repeatedly asked you why a religion needs to make a profit. You still have not answered my question: Is the church in the business of saving souls or making profit?
    10) Boyd K. Packer is wealthy. Where did he get his wealth? I don’t know. But he does work for the LDS Church, which is also wealth. Seems like there might be a connection, but I can’t prove it. And you can’t disprove it.
    11) I love how you keep saying that you’re done, but then you come back.

  43. Some guy a long time ago kind of explained why churches shouldn’t run for-profit businesses. He said,

    19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. … 24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

  44. It’s as if you wrote this article as a modern-day sequel to the rantings of Korihor against Alma and the leaders of the Church in his time. Was that your intention? The similarities between your arguments and his make it seem as if you had to have been parodying that interaction. Read for yourself in Alma ( http://lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/30?lang=eng ). Thanks for helping those who have spiritual discernment strengthen their testimonies that The Book of Mormon prophets truly saw our day. They included an example from their time that almost exactly mirrors your experience. Maybe they even witnessed your efforts to call good evil because of your guilty conscience.

    Korihor (Alma 30:23-24, 27)
    23) …Because I do not teach the foolish traditions of your fathers, and because I do not teach this people to bind themselves down under the foolish ordinances and performances which are laid down by ancient priests, to usurp power and authority over them, to keep them in ignorance, that they may not lift up their heads, but be brought down according to thy words.

    24 Ye say that this people is a free people. Behold, I say they are in bondage. …

    27 And thus ye lead away this people after the foolish traditions of your fathers, and according to your own desires; and ye keep them down, even as it were in bondage, that ye may glut yourselves with the labors of their hands, that they durst not look up with boldness, and that they durst not enjoy their rights and privileges.

    Alma (Alma 30: 32-35 )
    32 Now Alma said unto him: Thou knowest that we do not glut ourselves upon the labors of this people; for behold I have labored even from the commencement of the reign of the judges until now, with mine own hands for my support, notwithstanding my many travels round about the land to declare the word of God unto my people.

    33 And notwithstanding the many labors which I have performed in the church, I have never received so much as even one senine for my labor; neither has any of my brethren, save it were in the judgment-seat; and then we have received only according to law for our time.

    34 And now, if we do not receive anything for our labors in the church, what doth it profit us to labor in the church save it were to declare the truth, that we may have rejoicings in the joy of our brethren?

    35 Then why sayest thou that we preach unto this people to get gain, when thou, of thyself, knowest that we receive no gain? And now, believest thou that we deceive this people, that causes such joy in their hearts?

  45. But Richard, General Authorities don’t labor with their own hands for their support. They get paid by the church.

    Also, there’s nothing prophetic about Korihor’s arguments. They’re quite commonplace. In fact, I bet you’ve at least thought them about the leaders of other churches yourself.

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