LDS Inc. (Part 17)

LDS Inc. (Part 17) December 23, 2019

 

Nigerian Saints in Aba
A group of local Latter-day Saints in front of the Aba Nigeria Temple, which was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley in 2005.    (Photo’s provenance unknown)

 

Some new pieces have come out in reaction to the Washington Post’s recent “exposé” about the finances of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 

This one, for example, is quite positive and comes from a practicing member of the Church:

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ finances and honoring the widow’s mite”

 

Another active member of the Church weighs in:

“Loyola University Law Professor Sam Brunson On Transparency In The Mormon Church”

 

John Turner, a non-Latter-day Saint historian (a somewhat critical biographer of Brigham Young but, in my experience with him, a really nice guy), also waded into the controversy:

“Mormons and money: An unorthodox and messy history of church finances”

 

***

 

One of the people who should be invited by the news media to comment on the story is the historian D. Michael Quinn, an excommunicated former Latter-day Saint who has been quite willing in the past to criticize Church leaders and the Church itself, but whose lifelong interest in Church finances, culminating in his 2017 volume The Mormon Hierarchy: Wealth & Corporate Power, had him praising Church leaders and telling Latter-day Saints that they should be “proud” of the way the Church has managed its financial stewardship.  Listen to a 2017 interview with Dr. Quinn here:

 

“D. Michael Quinn on LDS Church finances”

 

Another person who should probably be invited to comment is the economist and economic historian Larry Wimmer, who reviewed Dr. Quinn’s book for Interpreter: A Journal of Latter-day Saint Faith and Scholarship:

 

“Through a Glass Darkly: Examining Church Finances”

 

RVA Temple architect's rendering
A plan of development and lighting plan were approved by Henrico County Planning Commission on 20 November 2019 for the recently announced Richmond Virginia Temple, shown here in an architect’s rendering.  (LDS.org)

 

I note with interest (pun not entirely unintentional) the figure that has been bandied about by the “whistleblower” and his anti-Mormon activist brother and various controversialists:  If I’m not mistaken, they say that the Church takes in approximately seven billion dollars annually in tithing, and that it spends six billion of those dollars on temples and chapels and humanitarian aid and educational subsidies and the like, while putting one billion dollars aside each year for a “rainy day” fund.

 

By my calculation, that has the Church saving or investing just slightly less than 14.3% of its annual income.  Some critics regard that as exorbitant, unchristian, immoral, and possibly illegal.

 

But it doesn’t seem exorbitant or excessive to me.  It appears that the Church is simply following its own counsel, given to its members for many generations, on prudent or provident living.

 

Non-Latter-day Saint counselors — including the left-leaning Senator Elizabeth Warren and her daughter Amelia Warren Tyagi, in their book All Your Worth: Your Ultimate Lifetime Money Plan — regularly suggest that individuals and families try to save something in the range of 20% of their incomes.  Here are some examples:

 

TIAA

Money Under Thirty

The Balance

Forbes

Capital One

 

I’m grateful that the Church’s funds are competently managed.  Among other things, such successful management makes possible the construction of temples in places like Richmond, Virginia, and Aba, Nigeria.

 

Posted from Richmond, Virginia

 

 

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