Since I began this little series on “LDS Inc.,” a number of critics, here on this blog and elsewhere, have responded to it by demanding more “financial transparency” from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which hasn’t issued expenditure reports since 1959. This is a distinct matter from the one that I’ve been addressing, but it’s obviously related. I haven’t wanted to become involved at this juncture in the controversy over opening the Church’s books, and I still don’t intend to do so at any length, but I think that I’ll offer a few brief remarks on the topic, beginning here.
The immediate occasion for my doing so is an article in the Salt Lake Tribune by Jana Riess, entitled “I just paid my LDS tithing. Why don’t I feel better about it?” Sister Riess is unhappy about not knowing where her tithes are actually going.
I must say that I understand the complaint. I get it. My impression is that the most vocal critics of the Church’s relative lack of financial transparency tend to be disaffected critics who don’t contribute financially anyway but there are manifestly some exceptions to that, and I get it.
I happen to know of a very senior Church leader, now deceased, who wanted to make Church finances more open. For what little it’s worth, I would have supported that. I don’t know how far he would have gone, but I can certainly understand the inclination to open things up a bit.
However, just for the record, let me say that I always feel really happy about paying my tithes. The amounts that I donate are significant, by my standards — and you must surely understand that, since I am a munificently paid apologist, we’re talking huge sums of money (not only cash, but various cryptocurrencies, imperial [galactic] credits, precious jewels, gold bullion, and bags of 1913 Liberty Head V nickels) — but I inevitably feel a warm glow after I’ve made my contributions and after I’ve finished with tithing settlement. I like to think that I’m assisting, in my small way, with the construction of chapels and temples worldwide, backing educational efforts, helping to support missionaries, and so on and so forth. I feel enormous satisfaction in being part of a great international work. I take it very seriously. To me, it is literally to be a participant in building the Kingdom of God on the earth.
Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come, that thou, O God, mayest be glorified in heaven so on earth, that thine enemies may be subdued; for thine is the honor, power and glory, forever and ever. Amen. (Doctrine and Covenants 65:6)
To be continued.