Money. Nothing gets me worked up as much as much as thinking about the amount of money the church has spent on things like temples and business that could be put to much better use. Let's point out quickly that the late Gordon B. Hinkley made the decision to build a 2 BILLION DOLLAR MALL right before the financial crash we are now dealing with. Where was God when he was making that decision? The Lord didn't give him a heads up? Huh...
No one knows exactly how much money the church has, because they are not required to share the information. The average member has no idea how much money goes to charity compared to lining the pockets of the church and it's many businesses.
I am a huge fan of the idea that every religious institution that receives a tax exempt status should have to share it's financial records to the tax payers in their state and country. What are they afraid of? If you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about. Donating money to charity is one of the best things you can do with your money. I will be the last to argue with that. There are people out there who are losing their jobs left and right, their homes are being foreclosed on, and they are still required to give their 10 percent to the church in order to be a member in good standing. What sense does this make? Does God really demand you give money to the church before making sure your children have food in their bellies and clothes on their backs? Some bishops require people to pay a full tithe before they are allowed to ask for any kind of assistance from the church. This is just backwards to me. How about taking care of your family so you don't have to ask for assistance? It's pretty damned simple, right? Recently, a poster on PostMormon.org shared this little gem:
I learned in serving almost twenty years as bishop and stake president that an excellent insurance against divorce is the payment of tithing. Payment of tithing seems to facilitate keeping the spiritual battery charged in order to make it through the times when the spiritual generator has been idle or not working. (”The Enriching of Marriage,” Ensign, Nov. 1977, 11.)
Really? REALLY? Tithing keeps your marriage together? Pardon me if I am wrong, but the one thing couples fight over the most is money. Who has it, who makes it, who makes the decisions on where that money goes... I truly believe tithing is probably one of the biggest "fight starters" in an LDS couples' lives.
Why doesn't the church tell us where they put this tithing money? Most of the people I have talked to over the years claim it's because they don't want to brag. This makes me laugh. If you are doing good works for the good of your fellow man, shouldn't God want you to shout it from the mountaintops to get more people to join your church or assist with their funds?
As tithe payers, shouldn't you want to see the financial information?
Most believing Mormons don't even consider that the church is doing anything wrong. The men in charge are chosen by God, after all. Right?
Why is it that God wants things like the finest of marble in his temples when there are people in the world who are suffering. Does God truly care about the decor when his children are going hungry, dying of disease and losing their children for lack of immunizations? Sick children? Who cares! We want marble! Instead of spending your time volunteering to teach children to read or keep them out of trouble, God wants us to spend hours and hours chanting and going through temple ceremonies for people who are already dead?
Think of the good that could be done with this time and money. Really think about it!!!
Let me share this quote from MormonThink.com:
"In 1997, U.S. congregations of the similarly sized Evangelical Lutheran Church in America raised $11.8 million in cash donations for worldwide hunger. The same year it raised $3.64 million for domestic and international disaster response, for a one-year humanitarian cash total of $15.44 million, more than half the amount the LDS provided over fourteen years." P. 129, Mormon America , Richard Ostling
In Jan. 2006, from the Church PR department, (Deseret News Publishing Company): Edgley said, "that since 1984, the LDS Church has donated nearly $750 million in cash and goods to people in need in more than 150 countries." That averages to $37.5 mil per year or about $3-$4 per Mormon member went to the poor. The total of $750 million in 22 years spent in cash and goods to people in need is only a THIRD what the church is spending on a mall they're building in Salt Lake City. The Mormon church is spending less than 1% of its income to help the poor. Is the Mormon church really a charitable organization?
The best estimates are that the church's assets are around $100 billion and that tithing runs $4.5-6.5 billion per year. But no matter how you slice it, humanitarian work is a small, itty, bitty part of church expenditures.
Even many individuals and corporations spend more than 1% on charitable work:
Wal-Mart - 1.5%
Ford - 2.2%
JP Morgan 2.1%
MBNA - 1.4%
UPS - 1.1%
GM - 1.23%
Avon - 3.97%
MetLife - 1%
Prudential - 1.22%
Eli Lilly - 1.4%
According to the IRS, the average charitable contribution is 2.2%.
Why is it that several large corporations and the average gentile are more charitable than the one and only true church upon the face of the whole earth? Again we come back to the fact that the church spends very little of its wealth and income on helping the poor and unfortunate. It spends about 1% of tithing on helping the poor. If you include investment income, it's much less than 1%.
Why does there need to be a corporate side? Why does the church need to buy malls, hotels, restaurants, condos, ranches, farmland, Oahu land, resorts, TV stations, radio stations, newspapers, and insurance companies? How does owning these things contribute to the 3 missions of the church of perfecting the saints, redeeming the dead, and preaching the gospel?
The real point is that the church gets more money through tithing and investment income than it knows what to do with.
When I had the opportunity to go to the ExMormon Foundation Conference last October in Salt Lake City, I had a conversation with someone who was walking away from the church while her husband wanted to stay in the church. They had a dilemma... how would they come to an agreement on tithing? It was important to him, but not to her. They eventually came to a decision to donate the money to a charity that shared it's finances with it's donors and helped people. They know where the money is going, and they know the good it's doing. There is no question that their money is going to the right place, and they both believe God would be okay with that. The man's bishop is a different story, however, and he is no longer a temple recommend holding member. It's ridiculous! God obviously wants the church to have the money more than a young kid who needs food.
Let me share another gem from MormonThink.com:
Growing up in the church many of us took pride in saying that our bishops and other local leaders are not paid like ministers of other religions. Although that's true, there are at least 100 or so leaders in the LDS Church that are paid, such as the 12 apostles, First Presidency, and the First Quorum of the Seventy. People naturally wonder how much they are paid. Most members are under the impression that the General Authorities receive some sort of living allowance or stipend. We don't have definite answers as that information is also kept private by the church. A few fair comments before discussing it further:
- Many of the General Authorities were wealthy before entering GA status.
- Some make additional money by writing books.
- Many sit on the boards of corporations owned by the Corporation of the President and of course receive director pay as a member of the board.
- Some own stock in companies controlled by the corporation of the president.
- Some own companies that have contracts with the corporation of the president.
- Some own real estate companies that buy property that the church then purchases.
All of the published salary levels for non-ecclesiastical positions are relatively low. In the church postings listed on church bulletin boards for accountants, engineers, etc. The salaries are less than what most people would earn in the private sector. Church Education System teachers are not over paid but do have good benefits. So the question is, do the General Authority salaries follow suit or are they significantly different? Perhaps one thing to consider is the housing provided to Mission Presidents. All of the Mission President homes we've ever seen have been luxury homes. Even mission presidents sent to developing nations live in luxurious quarters, their children attend expensive private schools for expatriates, and the church provides servants. It's quite a difference between where the younger missionaries and older couple missionaries live and where the Mission presidents live. If this is proportional the higher up the ladder in the church, then the GAs may receive significant compensation.
Regardless of the salary, being a General Authority has a lot of financial perks. Many are given a place to live, paid travel, chauffeurs, limos, paid expenses, etc. And of course the members are very helpful to the GAs. For example, the billionaire LDS member Brother Huntsman gave President Hinckley free use of his corporate jet all throughout his tenure as President
Something to think about, huh?
One thing that has annoyed me from the time I was a small child, is the thought that tithing is life insurance. As long as you pay, God will look out for you. If you don't pay your tithing, your blessings will diminish and your life won't be as fulfilling.
Let me tell everyone out there that I have never paid tithing. Never. Not one red cent. My life has been wonderful. Sure, bad things have happened to me, but the good has far outweighed the bad. I can also point out that tithing paying members have bad things happen to them, right? Where is this "insurance?"While my father was fighting cancer, I drove to Southern Utah to stay with my Dad's sister for a couple nights while I checked out a school down there. Not one, but two of my aunts constantly made comments about how they were blessed because they paid their tithing. They didn't say these things in front of me, I accidentally overheard them. Were they implying that my father had cancer because he wasn't an active tithe payer? Probably not. They were certainly convinced they had the invisible insurance that others didn't.
My Mom has mentioned many times that she would love to have the money back that she once gave the church. She was taught from a young age that the only way to be with my father in heaven again was to go to the temple and get sealed as a family. Can you go to the temple without paying tithing? Nope. Sure can't.
That money sure would come in handy now that she is paying a mortgage and looking for work!
Done ranting now...
P.S. If a believing Mormon leaves a comment claiming that my Mom would find a job if she paid her tithing, I will post it for the world to see. That is classic cult thinking right there.