More than enough

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Cadence
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More than enough

Post by Cadence » 09 May 2019, 04:50

With so much talk over the wealth of the church I wonder what is going on here.

There are reports the church has 40 billion in the stock market and they hide it. They have untold for profit real estate holdings. And of course they require tithing. Who knows what the real worth of the church is.

I certainly do not want the church to be so poor it struggles to pay bills yet so many investments seem contrary to everything Christ taught.

Is there a happy medium? Do you think the church is justifiable in its wealth?


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dande48
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Re: More than enough

Post by dande48 » 09 May 2019, 05:28

To be blunt, I think the Church requires tithing these days, not of necessity, but because it increases our commitment to the Church. I'd also say the Church never wants to struggle financially ever again, and has worked hard to get themselves in a position where money will never be an issue. If times got tough, they could close buildings in areas where the membership is the weakest, but no matter what happens, the Church will endure.

There are also plenty of problems and challenges that can be solved by throwing enough money at them; specifically, legal problems, lobbying efforts, and PR. The Church has plenty for both those areas. Unfortuantely, most of the problems we'd like to see them solve, such as poverty, can't be handled by throwing money. "Solving poverty is hard and the science is complicated." What's worse, is this leaves them sitting on piles and piles of money, while challenges persist, and there's nothing they can do about it. What else are they going to do with it, but invest and invest, until they actually need it?

I'm not sure what you mean by "happy medium", "contrary to everything Christ taught", or "justifiable". Last I checked, Jesus is said to be rich beyond imagination. At least in the US, it's held that weath justifies itself, or in other words, those who are rich deserve to be. Who would they be justifying themselves to? God? The governments? The people? Us? And how would the Church be happier with less? How would they get to a "happy medium"?
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LookingHard
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Re: More than enough

Post by LookingHard » 09 May 2019, 05:54

I was about to essentially say what dande48 said in his first 2 paragraphs. For most people the sacrifice of paying tithing actually increases their commitment to the church. Once making such a sacrifice, mentally/emotionally it is hard to admit it you were wrong to do so.

What to do about it? What is a better approach? I think there are options, but I don't see the church leaders really even looking at that. I would assume they are looking at the shrinking of the church (or at least it moving from US growth to mainly southern hemisphere growth) and it makes them want to hold tight and invest with the expectation that tithing will be decreasing. If I were worried about getting laid off from work, I wouldn't go make some big contributions to the poor. I think it is essentially the same thing going on in the church.

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SamBee
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Re: More than enough

Post by SamBee » 09 May 2019, 06:37

The church must have massive overheads, especially all the temples etc. I think some of it should be put into social improvement projects. Trade not aid is the long term answer to poverty in many places like Haiti. I think there are other things we could do like that.
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Roy
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Re: More than enough

Post by Roy » 09 May 2019, 14:54

I am responding most specifically to the title "more than enough"

I am probably one of the more frugal people that you will ever meet. I save for a "rainy day". I am at a comfortable pace for a good retirement. If my lifestyle does not change then I will probably have "more than enough." Yet, I still live just as frugally as before even though I can likely "afford" many more convenience purchases.

A big part of my frugality is fear of the unknown. I do not know what the future might hold. Will we have a medical emergency with a lengthy hospital stay? Will I become unable to work and retire much sooner than planned? Will the stock market crash at an inopportune time taking a large chunk of savings with it? If I die young will DW have enough to raise the children into adulthood without worrying about making ends meet? Will my children require help paying for college (to assist, if necessary is a major goal for DW and I)? How much becomes "more than enough" and how much becomes a nasty surprise of "not enough"?

I believe that the church operates in a similar way to my own frugality and "raind day" saving.

I believe that I would be defensive if people started to become critical of my saving habits. If someone accused me of hiding my wealth I would feel that my wealth is none of their business. If I were accused of having "untold" profit. I might wonder what that has to do with anything. I pay my legal taxes. Some people might feel that because I have the means that I should be more generous to charitable causes. Didn't Jesus tell the young rich man to sell all that he owned and donate the proceeds to the poor? There is a good point to this. I do not know how to live up to this ideal that Jesus created in that moment. It seems so foreign and un-natural to me. What I do feel passionately is the desire to protect and provide for the people in my care. I do that by providing a financially stable household - a household that can weather many of life's storms of misfortune.

I like to think of the fable of the grasshooper and the ant in explaining my frugality. I am an ant on a personal level. The church is an ant on an organizational level. The grasshoppers of the world can say, "Stop your hoarding. Winter is a long ways off. The weather is fine. Sing and dance the evening away with me." Can anyone imagine the church as an ant being happy in taking the night off? More likely that the church ant would be wracked with guilt over all the time that was wasted in frivolity with the proverbial clock getting closer to midnight.

I (as an ant) have come to realize that my way of living does not make me better than anyone else. I am following my internal programming just as much as the grasshoppers are following theirs. Saving for a rainy day just makes me happy. I am what I am ... and what I am is an ant.
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Rumin8
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Re: More than enough

Post by Rumin8 » 09 May 2019, 16:31

The church doesn’t need the money. They like the money, and it gives them freedom to invest aggressively. But they don’t need it. I view it as an obvious obedience test.

This (like many things about the corporate church) is one of my hot buttons. I work in commercial real estate as a profession. Some of my closest work friends manage high profile church real estate assets around the country, but mostly in Salt Lake county where I too reside. I also at one point was a candidate to lead the formerly PRI real estate asset management arm of the church. Things were restructured and this went nowhere (I would not have accepted anyhow; it was not a fit for either of us). During that process I got a small peek behind the scenes. The church’s two signature investment real estate assets downtown are valued in the billions. I do not begrudge these investments. They are good for the city and they are good for the communities they are placed. The church has many, many many assets similar to, but not quite as large, around the world. Multi family. Retail. Office. Industrial. Land. You could argue the pace of investment and acquisition is increasing. For example, last fall a new church owned 28 story office tower was announced for downtown SLC.

What I do begrudge from our wealthy church:
1) the forced service of chapel cleaning and exterior maintenance
2) forced service of temple cleaning and exterior maintenance
3) take my tithing dollars or invest aggressively but not both
4) prosperity gospel: as I look at the history of my local leaders, most, of not all, have achieved some greater than average level of success and prosperity. So the lesson here is obedience = prosperity = leadership opportunities

With tithing we are taught that if we pay the lord first, he will take care of us if we have enough faith. I know too many people that this is not the case. But they do get the benefit of the church welfare system. But so do people who are less scrupulous tithe layers.

I feel the church is having its cake and eating it too. As ward clerk I see all sorts of donations. The church can use those anywhere and in any place at their discretion. There are some exceptions to this.

I’ve tried here to temper my resentments. But asking for 10% of the gross income (this IS what is taught and accepted in most circles) of people who live paycheck to paycheck while investing billions of dollars each year in income producing and non-income producing (temples) each year feels and looks like priestcraft to me.
"Moderation in all things, especially moderation." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Be excellent to each other." - Abraham Lincoln to Bill & Ted

kate5
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Re: More than enough

Post by kate5 » 09 May 2019, 17:27

They also give a pittance to the wards to help run their programs. I used a lot of my own money to do my callings. I drove a lot for years in my callings and was never allowed to be reimbursed for gas. One of my bishops said I wasn't even allowed to give the YW a small birthday gift. I spent most of my part time work paychecks on callings. This on top of paying my tithing, cleaning the church, doing very demanding callings for free, VT, paying fast offerings, donating to scouts, etc.

It's one thing to be frugal and smart with your money. It's another thing to be miserly and greedy. When your members are sacrificing everything including time spent away from family, money and serving, I think they at least need to be given some reimbursements for their money spent and not be expected to run programs on practically nothing when the money is there.

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Rumin8
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Re: More than enough

Post by Rumin8 » 09 May 2019, 18:59

I forgot about the meager ward budgets. I am a bad ward clerk. Add that to my list of “begrudges.”
"Moderation in all things, especially moderation." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Be excellent to each other." - Abraham Lincoln to Bill & Ted

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Holy Cow
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Re: More than enough

Post by Holy Cow » 10 May 2019, 09:42

Rumin8 wrote:
09 May 2019, 16:31
What I do begrudge from our wealthy church:
1) the forced service of chapel cleaning and exterior maintenance
2) forced service of temple cleaning and exterior maintenance
3) take my tithing dollars or invest aggressively but not both
4) prosperity gospel: as I look at the history of my local leaders, most, of not all, have achieved some greater than average level of success and prosperity. So the lesson here is obedience = prosperity = leadership opportunities
I would agree with these, as well. I'll never forget an experience from when my wife and I were first starting out. We had a young family and were really struggling financially. During our annual tithing settlement, our bishop asked how we were doing, and we explained how tight things were for us. We were still paying our tithing and fast offerings, and we weren't asking for any financial help from the ward. We were just being honest that we were barely getting by. Most of our meals were rice, PBJ sandwiches, ramen noodles, or spaghetti. But we were surviving. The bishop barely acknowledged what we said, and immediately ended the meeting by asking us if we would donate to the Boy Scouts. He said, "We're asking most people to donate $100, but even half of that would be helpful." I just sat there for a moment with a shocked look on my face (probably looking very much like my avatar picture)!
That experience helped me shape how I feel about giving to the church now. I still give tithing, or at least I consider it to be tithing. I just don't give it to the church. I donate to charities that I feel truly need it and will use it for a good cause. I also donate to fast offerings, because I like that the money helps people locally. The church wouldn't consider me as a tithe payer, but I do. I just give my money to organizations who will use it in a way that I would prefer to see it used. I have no desire to help build temples all over the world or add to the churches full coffers.
I would prefer to see the church hire custodians to have our buildings cleaned by professionals. If the church wants to provide opportunities for members to serve, they could set up more soup kitchens and donation facilities where members could serve on a regular basis. That type of service is much more rewarding than vacuuming the church hallways and scrubbing toilets. :roll:
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dande48
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Re: More than enough

Post by dande48 » 10 May 2019, 11:14

Holy Cow wrote:
10 May 2019, 09:42
...we were barely getting by.
Holy cow! It's funny how statements like that often get translated to Church leaders into "black and white" dichotomies. "Barely at Church each Sunday" means active, "Barely on the records" means member, and "Barely surviving" means doing pretty good!

I guess, if I have one wish or hope from this discussion, it's that 100% of the tithing goes to supporting local congregations, and any excess is then passed on to Church corp. I don't like our current model, which is the exact opposite, and feels like bad communism.
"The whole world is a comedy to those that think, a tragedy to those that feel." - Horace Walpole

"Even though there are no ways of knowing for sure, there are ways of knowing for pretty sure."
-Lemony Snicket

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