LDS Church: $100 Billion Endowment?

I created another post here that details the parsonage/stipend that our up to 108 full-time leaders are eligible for. That discussion — do LDS leaders get paid? — has tended to be poorly understood topic, in my experience.

This post below, however, will more broadly focus on the full scope of LDS finances, tithing, etc.

These videos and articles provide useful context:

This might be the best summary on the topic of the LDS Church’s endowment I’ve ever seen:

THE $100 BILLION ‘MORMON CHURCH’ STORY: A CONTEXTUAL ANALYSIS

Major subtitles in the article above:

– Are the Church’s reserve funds illegal or somehow evading taxes?

– Is saving $1 Billion a year for a “rainy day” fund wrong or abnormal?

– Why would the Church have a rainy-day fund?

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– What about the two alleged distributions, those must be illegal, right?

– Are there other public policy concerns?

– Should a church hold $100 billion that could otherwise be spent on helping those in need?

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– Should a church have the freedom to avoid transparency into its finances and should it avoid “opening its books”?

– Is asking the poor to tithe morally wrong?

– Should wealth escape taxation because it’s owned by a church?

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– What about just taxing the excess wealth of a church? If the money is just sitting around, why not have the government put it to better use?

– Why not tax huge endowments, where the nonprofits have more than they could ever need?

Final paragraph: In the meantime, Latter-day Saints can appreciate the impressive arc of a church that was once on the cusp of financial ruin, and now, thanks to faithful tithing and prudent management, appears to have all it needs and more to carry out what they believe is a divinely-appointed mission.

Jeff @ LDS Q&A:

Kathleen Flake at the U of Virginia wrote this: Mormonism and its Money.

First paragraph here: ” The Washington Post’s recent news story, captioned “Mormon Church has misled members on $100 billion tax-exempt investment fund” is likely to be met with little resistance to its message. It is a familiar one: Mormonism is too rich and stays so by exploiting its members. The old canard takes its new form in a former employee and devotee’s complaint to the IRS that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is hoarding money, which should be given to charity.

Indeed, it has hoarded so much, according to an accompanying video, members would not have to pay tithing if that money were used instead of saved. What’s wrong with this picture? A lot and, not least, the facts. Forbes has already responded to the fallacies related to the legal claim: “there is nothing in the tax law that prevents churches from accumulating wealth.” [See also a subsequent analysis here.]  However, the moral claims in the complaint – miserliness, dishonesty, and exploitation – invite us to investigate further. …”

Michael Quinn, a credible Latter-day Saint scholar, shares additional context in these interviews with Rick Bennett:

Tithing

This video discusses a review of the Biblical foundation and teachings across Christianity regarding the law of tithing, yet from surveys and available statistics, it appears the Latter-day Saints are the only Christian body observing this law of God and this serves as another evidence of the fruits of the restoration.

Resources:

Book – Who Really Cares: America’s Charity Divide by Arthur Brooks

Arthur Brooks (Catholic) speaking at a BYU Devotional (entitled – Why Giving Matters) https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/arthur…

The Christian Century Article on Latter-day Saints observance of tithing: https://www.christiancentury.org/arti…

National tithing donation statistics: https://nonprofitssource.com/online-g…

Christian denominations religious teachings on Tithing (beliefnet.com): https://www.beliefnet.com/Freeform/Lo…

Pew Research Study/Survey of Latter-day Saints Religious Beliefs & Practices: http://www.pewforum.org/2012/01/12/mo…

LDS Living Article – Science Links Paying Tithing with Happiness, Success & More http://www.ldsliving.com/Science-Link…