LDS Church Finances

Good place to start (article below from 2/14/20):

What the Presiding Bishopric Has to Say about the Finance of the Church and the Faith of its Members

Jeff at Latter-day Q & A discusses Church finances:

Dan Peterson presents his view on the wide topic of how money is handled in our church.   So far, Dan has written 11 parts.  The series will likely continue. 

Each part provides a broader contribution into implications surrounding LDS finances, tithing, taxes, non-profits, and other subtopics:

LDS Inc. (Part One), Dan Peterson  (December 2019)

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Bro. Roger Hendrix is an active Latter-day Saint who was a mission president in the 90s before he started working as a board member at Deseret Trust Company.  His career was in construction and consulting in Southern California before he was a mission president.

This fellow, Roger Hendrix, went onto LDS critic John Dehlin’s podcast to discuss the Church’s finances. 

They discussed a range of topics, including auditors of the Church, Deseret Management Company (Church’s holding company), Bonneville, Ensign Peak and other investment entities, management of tithing, the Church real estate entity, financial transparency, the Church’s net worth, and other related issues.

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John repeatedly asked about conflicts of interest, nepotism, possible fraud, directing money to General Authorities’ kids’ startup businesses, the City Creek project, and other common critics’ claims and innuendo.

Bro. Hendrix repeatedly swatted those and related conspiracy theories away.  Where Bro. Hendrix worked for 18 years — Deseret Trust Company — was a business that followed the law.  And all his time around others in Church management operated just as he did:  ethically, professionally, and legally.

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Roger explained that he got a stipend when part of the trust company, but not close to what he earned on other boards.  In fact, Roger stated on other boards he’s “made a lot of dough.”   His stipend at the trust company didn’t change in 18 years.   Sounds like it was around $10K/year.  His colleagues who worked with him gave up lots of “dough”, according to Roger to work in a Church environment.

President N. Eldon Tanner

Further, no General Authorities sit on these boards.  But back in the 1960s, N. Eldon Tanner started this trust company.  And other LDS leaders did sit on the board.  But not any longer.

No, the Church doesn’t steal money from ex-Mormons’ inheritance, though John Dehlin suggested otherwise.  Dehlin also suggested General Authorities’ families and companies directly and inappropriately benefited from the trust.  John made all these claims and pushed innuendo, all without evidence.  Out of thin air.

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Short answer to these claims:  no.  Such actions are unethical and illegal.  This trust company, like any other, is run according to state and national laws.

Roger described the bright, trained people that work for the Church.  He included that these same bright people have the Spirit, pray, and practice their faith.

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John repeatedly asked questions that revealed John’s ignorance of trusts, non-profits, and investments in general.

In my opinion, John is looking for a boogey man.  He believes in a sort of Bigfoot.  Something the Church is hiding, lying about.  Something he’ll never find. Cuz the Church doesn’t operate that way.  Never has.

More questions about Church finances, tithing, etc.

John Dehlin tried another gotcha interview with Michael Quinn.  Michael was excommunicated in the 90s, but despite not being a member today, still has faith in the Church.  He is an excellent researcher/historian and shares a lot about the Church’s finances.

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Michael details the history of stipends for LDS leaders and how the Church got onto solid financial footing.  He further shares details of the multiple entities the Church uses to invest and handle its assets and overall portfolio. The Church behaves ethically and in line with its mission throughout the globe.

In addition, Michael takes the side of transparency, saying that this would be faith promoting.  He quotes others who were connected to all Church finance details who suggest the Church has nothing to hide and would benefit from sharing financial information.

Michael even discusses the few financial abuses in our history:  Brigham and his son accumulated wealth, an accountant who embezzled in the 60s.

Yet, he explains that the values of our leaders have been exemplary in their attempts to manage the Church’s assets.  He finishes by saying faithful members should likely adjust their view by understanding Quinn’s data (book), but in his view, should remain faithful.

Gospel Tangents interviewed Quinn:

Why Didn’t the Church Teach Me This Stuff? Controversial Topics in the Church

Geoff Biddulph is a convert to the Church of just over 15 years. Before joining he read a lot of anti-Mormon literature. However, it was the Spirit that converted him and helped him be open to being baptized. Since then, Geoff has read the book of Mormon more than 10 times and have read the entire Bible at least five times.

He has a large library of Church-related material from which he draws upon as he writes for the Millennial Star blog—where he has contributed for nearly a decade. He his wife Cindy were married in the Denver temple nearly 11 years ago and they now have five kids. He is joining us by phone today from Denver, CO. Geoff is here to talk about an article he wrote for the Millennial Star Blog entitled, “Why Didn’t the Church Teach Me This Stuff”

LDS Church & transparency

There was a recent discussion in an online forum about transparency.   A Church critic claimed that the LDS Church has always hid the controversial topics.  I disagree. 
Several thoughts:
  •  The Church’s teachings we review in Sunday School are primarily doctrinal and devotional, not apologetic or historical in scope and intent. 
  • The LDS Church’s archives are open. 
  •  Many journals, histories, and accounts have long been published.  And, yes, even on the thorny topics. 
  • LDS and non-LDS folks have long belonged to historical societies (John Whitmer Historical Association is one example) that have openly debated and published on today’s thorny issues, including seer stones, witness testimony, Joseph’s polygamy, and similar topics.

  • These topics — ones that have surprised many members today — are not new.  No new facts. Critics have applied a range of interpretations for over 180 years. Today the criticisms and interpretations are circulated on the internet instead if via books and radio.
  • Personal growth and education must be life long for which we alone are ultimately responsible
One of the videos I shared w/ the most vocal critic was this below. Everything is hiding in plain sight.
Our church is doing a lousy job if hiding its history is a goal…

Could the Church have done better with transparency?  Sure.
Are they doing better today?  Yes. More is available than one could ever read.
Counterarguments to the claim that the LDS Church “whitewashed” it’s history.
FAIR Mormon shares open, lengthy discussions of thorny topics in Church publications.  A very poor job of hiding, indeed!
A convert who studied anti-Mormon material before joining shares his perspective on this topic:

Patrick Mason speaks to many of these issues here: