#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.

Chino Blanco

--- We are men of action, lies do not become us. ---

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11 Responses

  1. Carla says:

    They don’t seem shy about disclosing everything they know about membership growth or new chapels and temples.

  2. Juan says:

    …or about the amount of Humanitarian Aid they give out, except for the unfortunate info shown in the UK financials. We don’t focus on how much we receive, but don’t give, but rather on just how wonderful we are because we’ve given $800 million over the past 25+ years (i.e. not even enough to fund 1/4th of the City Creek Center…).

  3. Donnell Allan says:

    Should the LDS church reveal its finances? Absolutely. Why not? The secretiveness just makes it look like there must be something to hide.

  4. Jim Platt says:

    What do you mean you have no rights ? You are blessed as members with THREE extemely important rights….Pray, Pay, and OBEY…..but NEVER, NEVER, NEVER QUESTION.

  5. aerin says:

    It’s not just the LDS church IMO. I’ve said it before, all religious organizations that do not pay taxes on the property or income they take in. The reports should be the same that any 501 3 c org. distributes. It should be a change to US law. As the arguments already mention, why not be honest? Is there something to hide?

  6. Alan says:

    What are the consequences for a member who refuses to pay tithe?

  7. Kullervo says:

    What are the consequences for a member who refuses to pay tithe?

    Concrete, objective consequences? No temple recommend. Maybe others, I don’t know (it would certainly impact your ability to hold a significant calling, I would think).

    Theologically, not paying your tithing is intentionally disregarding a commandment, which means forfeiting eternal salvation.

    Other than that? Guilt and shame, I guess. Lots of concerned meetings with your bishop. Word will get around.

  8. chanson says:

    Chino — That video you linked on the wheat and tares thread is really fascinating! So they’re starting to float some ideas for how they’re going to soften the blow of the lack-of-growth reality: “You’re the salt to the Earth, but no one wants to eat nothing but salt!”

  9. barmy stoat says:

    My comment is completely unrelated to the original post but I just wanted to say that I think the recent changes to this site are fab!

    Ok… carry on! 🙂

  10. sana says:

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