#LDSconf pre-show discussion: Should the LDS church reveal its finances?
As Provo, Utah’s Daily Herald noted back in 2007:
It clearly doesn’t want to. In the 2001 case, for example, it avoided disclosure by settling with the plaintiff for $3 million.
Some find it strange that rank-and-file Mormons are not privy to the financial workings of the church even though they may donate large sums of money through tithing and other offerings. They are called members, but membership has no privileges. Church members, unlike stockholders in a corporation, have no vote. The reward for their faith is generally intangible.
Many other churches have full disclosure.
And in the Wikipedia entry about LDS finances, it’s noted that:
The LDS church maintains an internal audit department that provides its certification at each annual general conference that LDS church contributions are collected and spent in accordance with LDS church policy.
Which raises a second question:
What is LDS church policy regarding the use of donated funds?
Because stories like the ones below can leave a person wondering.
1) In 2009, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Canada sent $40 million to BYU and spent $17 million on salaries. Link.
2) From 2004-2009, UK Mormons collected $3.6 million in Humanitarian Fund donations and disbursed only $322K. Scroll down to comment #31 at this link.
3) Speaking of the UK church, its general assets are depreciating at the rate of 6,000,000 annually. Really?
4) Does the LDS church really need to be in the business of owning hunting preserves? Link.
5) And another MSP post that has generated all kinds of interest: LDS Inc. owns .7% of Florida
6) By the way, I haven’t yet listened to this 2007 Mormon Matters podcast, but I agree with the panelist who noted in comments that the LDS church has plenty of good reasons to be involved in SLC city planning and commercial development.
7) And a closing thought from a commenter at one of the other Mormon podcast sites:
I’ve heard that the Catholic Church increased its donations substantially when it began publishing full financial disclosures.
Could be. But as the years of undisclosed financial operation pile higher, it only gets harder to contemplate changing the policy. For example, would Mormons be upset to learn just how much the LDS church spends each year to persuade plaintiffs (like the one mentioned at the top of this post) to settle lawsuits and sign non-disclosure agreements?
Reminder: With General Conference around the corner, be sure to attach the #LDSconf hashtag to all your tweets. Or #twitterstake for those who’d like to join the Internet’s largest and loudest General Conference pep rally. Bonus points for bearing your tweetimony.