How the Mormons Make Money

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Curt Sunshine
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Re: How the Mormons Make Money

Post by Curt Sunshine » 13 Jul 2012, 20:21

but when that paradigm fits the facts


There are multiple paradigms that fit multiple sets of facts (if you don't believe me, watch political talk shows on both sides of issues use the exact same things to reach polar opposite conclusions) - and I can take the same approach and tear apart ANY organization that has existed in the history of the world. I mean that sincerely; I can do it.

It is every bit as legitimate to describe the finances of the Church and how they are used as a means of bringing great blessings to its membership and many outside its membership. I personally can view it either way, intellectually. I choose to view it as some of both - with a belief that those who make the decisions truly do see it the second way and aren't charlatans.

Things just aren't that easy.

I love the saying:
We don't believe what we see; we see what we believe.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Kumahito
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Re: How the Mormons Make Money

Post by Kumahito » 14 Jul 2012, 02:16

This financial issue is one that began my initial questioning and my transition from a TBM to a Liahona. Quite a few years ago I heard from a pretty reliable and well-placed source in SLC that the second largest line item in the church's budget from year to year is BYU (second only to physical facilities construction and maintenance). I just had to question whether it was fair, truly charitable or even defensible to spend such a large outlay of church $$ to educate 28,000 white kids from the US ( and yes, I'm aware there are a small percentage of the students who come from overseas) while the church is now larger outside the US than in. How in the world do we ask those dear saints in Guatemala, Cote d'Ivoire, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea to pay their widow's mite worth of tithing when we spend so much $$ on BYU, a shopping mall, and hunting lodges?

I still haven't resolved that one for myself. Don't know that my grey matter is capable of cutting that gordian knot.
"An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all."
- Oscar Wilde

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Forgotten_Charity
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Re: How the Mormons Make Money

Post by Forgotten_Charity » 14 Jul 2012, 06:29

I sympathize with both you kumahito(sounds Japanese or manderin, either way I like it)and Ray Degraw. Their really are cases for both points.
Last edited by Forgotten_Charity on 16 Jul 2012, 17:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Forgotten_Charity
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Re: How the Mormons Make Money

Post by Forgotten_Charity » 14 Jul 2012, 06:50

The line really does get blurry with all the different interest to serve and it is hard in them or anyone to try to find balance once the different business take on a life of there own.
Last edited by Forgotten_Charity on 16 Jul 2012, 17:04, edited 1 time in total.

Minyan Man
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Re: How the Mormons Make Money

Post by Minyan Man » 14 Jul 2012, 08:23

Forgotten_Charity, I don't completely agree with what you're saying.
For example:
But remember that smart business are unfeeling corporate souls.
I've worked for a number of large, medium & small corporations over the years. Some were private & some were public corporations.
I can't remember any that I would classify as "unfeeling corporate souls". Some even laid me off. Others companies went bankrupt & filed Chapter 11.
My oldest son was recently laid off from a corporation that he loved. His family had to file for bankrupcy. I told my son that he can't take it personally & move on.
He recently found a better job & is doing well.

This is a tough economic times we're living in. Some companies have to make tough economic decisions. Their decisions are not going to be popular.
From the outside, it may seem as "unfeeling" or "greedy". I know from personal experience that decisions that effect peoples lives are usually very difficult to make.
I'm going to assume (unless I have other information) that similar decisions for the Church are difficult too.

I've noticed that you haven't written an Introduction yet. I would encourage you to do that. I want to better understand who you are & where you're coming from.

Mike from Milton.

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Forgotten_Charity
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Re: How the Mormons Make Money

Post by Forgotten_Charity » 14 Jul 2012, 08:58

It's still a business with business needs.
Last edited by Forgotten_Charity on 16 Jul 2012, 17:05, edited 1 time in total.

leavingthecave25
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Re: How the Mormons Make Money

Post by leavingthecave25 » 14 Jul 2012, 09:43

Kumahito wrote:the church's budget from year to year is BYU (second only to physical facilities construction and maintenance). I just had to question whether it was fair, truly charitable or even defensible to spend such a large outlay of church $$ to educate 28,000 white kids from the US
You're not the only one to ask that question. When I was at BYU-Idaho there was a story circulated about President Hinckley (I think it was him anyway,but it could have been one of the twelve). Anyway, they had just finished the Taylor building, which is an absolutely beautiful chapel-like structure and were giving a tour of it. When they were in the chapel area, he look out across everything and went silent. The person giving the tour asked what he was thinking. He said "I was thinking about how much we do for so few, and how little we do for so many".

That might turn out to only be a faith promoting rumor that the teachers liked to tell, but nonetheless I think many of the church leaders are aware of the problem.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: How the Mormons Make Money

Post by Curt Sunshine » 14 Jul 2012, 10:47

Forgotten_Charity,

You don't need to sympathize with me. I'd much rather have acknowledgment of reasonable statements than sympathy. I've worked in the corporate world for 25 years, and I've been a high-level manager - in Sales and Marketing. I'm not nearly as naive to business practices as your comments imply.

As everyone here knows, I'm smiling as I type this comment. I'm not upset or mad in any way - but I am struck by your inability to words your comments on this topic in any way that recognizes the leadership of the Church might have pure motives in doing what they do. They might be trying sincerely to be "good stewards", and they might be trying sincerely to make sure the Church is never in the financial position of the mid-1900's.

We all know there is a strong corporate aspect of the Church. It is a corporation specifically because the US government wouldn't let it be a traditional church with polygamy. It was a corporation with mediocre then bad financial management for decades. Now it is a corporation with apparently great financial management. We get it, so please don't lecture to us about that.

Corporations, sans the people who run them, are as you describe; corporations, however, can't exist sans the people who run them - and their motivations. There are wonderfully caring corporations, and their are heartless corporations - and the way they manage their finances often has NOTHING to do with the difference. Sometimes it does; sometimes it doesn't. Again, it depends largely on the motivation and focus of the leaders.

It's really easy to paint in black-and-white. It's really easy to have a thesis and insist that the facts fit that paradigm. I'm not saying the facts about the Church's finances can't fit your paradigm, since I don't know the top leadership personally, but I am saying you are retrofitting what you are calling facts into a paradigm - not constructing a pure paradigm from an unbiased perspective through the use of clear, indisputable facts. I understand that part of the ambiguity of the facts is that the Church doesn't publish its financial records, but you are imputing motive in your comments - and that absolutely is a subjective exercise.

Again, I've been in sales and marketing for years. Facts aren't facts; they are things that are manipulated all the time to show what the presenter wants to be shown - and different presenters take the same facts and turn them into competing Truth all the time. It happens every day. "Lies, damned lies and statistics" is a famous statement - and it's famous because it's true.

Let me use the most recent example of the use of finances to make my point:

BYU is seen by many people in a bad light, but it is seen by many people in a wonderful light. I'm not a BYU grad, so I have no personal reason to praise or condemn it - but I've worked for the last few years in higher education, so I have some personal understanding of the funding issues involved in building and running a university. The LDS Church has created an institution that can be attended by its members for significantly less than it would cost to attend most other really good colleges and universities, and, in the cases of other colleges and universities without huge endowments, the comparative costs to the students and families aren't even close. The primary difference between a place like Harvard, which can provide its education to the poorest students through only their accumulation of standard student loans, and a place like where I last worked, which cannot do so even though the tuition is around half of Harvard's, is the size of each institution's endowment - multiple billions of dollars in the case of Harvard and a few million in the case of my former employer. Harvard can provide a good (not great) classroom education precisely because it has existed for hundreds of years, has educated extremely wealthy students and has gathered billions of dollars in reserves; my current college can provide better classroom instruction than Harvard does, in many cases, but it doesn't have the reserves Harvard does, so it can't enroll as many poor to middle-class students. It is largely tuition driven, and the student body reflects that basic reality.

BYU is an interesting example of an institution that couldn't exist as constituted (allowing even quite poor students to get a quality education) without a huge, on-going investment from non-tuition sources. That is a charitable expense in the purest sense of the word, since, imo, education is one of the most core, foundational aspects of success there is. However, no critic of the LDS Church is going to count it as humanitarian aid for those students who couldn't attend if it cost the same as most comparable universities.

Furthermore, the mainland BYU's don't just serve American white kids, and BYU-Hawaii certainly doesn't serve just American white kids. That simply is a terrible mischaracterization. The Church's universities serve primarily church members, and, right now, the portion of the membership who are in a position to attend one of those schools primarily is "first-world" - and primarily white. As the first-world membership diversifies racially and ethnically, as it is doing, the make-up of students at the BYU's will change accordingly, as it has done.

The Church made a conscious effort a while ago not to try to establish other full colleges and universities across the world specifically because they cost so much to run in a manner that makes them affordable to kids from low-middle socio-economic situations. Instead, they established the Perpetual Education Fund to provide assistance to members who serve honorable missions and then have to return to the poverty they left in order to serve. That allows them to attend college or trade school or some other form of continued education and, hopefully, bring them out of poverty within the society their new stability can bless in some way. They also started giving regularly to schools in third-world countries and to charities in that serve those schools. (Interestingly, those donations also aren't counted in many critics' numbers, since many of those donations are given to other charities who get credit for the actual end-point donations.) Iow, the Church isn't ignoring non-white, non-American students; rather, they are trying to help in a way that really will help without having to expend the type of resources that are required to run full institutions of higher education.

The point is NOT whether or not you and/or I agree completely with that approach. The point is that the characterization of the Church's education expenses as being race-insensitive doesn't match how I personally see "the facts" - and framing such a complex situation in such simplistic terms does injustice, imo, to a reasonable discussion of "the facts".

Again, I believe it's important to acknowledge that we really don't reach our conclusion from an unbiased analysis of "the facts"; the perspective we bring to the very act of seeing those facts is every bit as important as the facts themselves.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

Curt Sunshine
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Re: How the Mormons Make Money

Post by Curt Sunshine » 14 Jul 2012, 13:14

Let me summarize as succinctly as I can one thing I think is important when talking about "the facts" of humanitarian aid (granting that it might be the most obvious, most objective measure of "caring soul" there is for a church):

The comparison in the original article is of the LDS Church to the Methodist Church - a fair comparison given their similar size. So, what are the objective facts?

1) The actual humanitarian aid reported by both churches is radically different. The LDS Church appears to have provided 3.5 times more in actual aid, averaged annually over the past 25 years, than the Methodist Church - and the amount of aid per year given by the LDS Church has been rising regularly over that time span.

2) The LDS Church provides extensive welfare assistance to its members that the Methodist Church simply doesn't do.

There are more examples I could give, but a comparison of these two churches can tip favorably to the Methodist Church in only one way - by comparing the percent of total "tithing / direct donations" that is redistributed as humanitarian aid. Only in that way can the conclusion be that the LDS Church doesn't care about people in terms of humanitarian aid given - and it takes either ignorance or an intentional distortion of the full picture to reach that conclusion in comparison to the Methodist Church. Again, the actual amount the LDS Church donates to humanitarian aid DWARFS the actual amount donated by the Methodist Church, especially when the welfare assistance is included.

Conclusion:

The LDS Church appears to be MUCH more focused on and dedicated to humanitarian aid than the Methodist Church appears to be.

In this specific case, I don't see how else to view "the facts".
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Forgotten_Charity
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Re: How the Mormons Make Money

Post by Forgotten_Charity » 14 Jul 2012, 15:50

. Faith has to play a role here because the church does not publish the information except in the UK, where it is required by law.
I believe in volunteer and charity work with all my being.
I'm grateful for those experiences inside and outside the church.
Last edited by Forgotten_Charity on 16 Jul 2012, 17:07, edited 1 time in total.

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