An Unemotional Analysis of the Recent "Whistleblower" on LDS Church Finances

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Minyan Man
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Re: An Unemotional Analysis of the Recent "Whistleblower" on LDS Church Finances

Post by Minyan Man » 24 Dec 2019, 15:23

The title for Curt's post is: An Unemotional Analysis... yet all of us who responded, myself included, are
reacting emotionally to some degree. I don't think we can help ourselves. My wife & I can't talk about our
own finances without emotions rising to the top. Would we get as emotional about this topic if the church
was more open to the membership about how our offering were used, or invested?

This is an interesting article: http://www.ldsliving.com/The-Unexpected ... pt/s/80449
It deals with how the church dealt with a blackmail attempt. As a result, the church was more open about what the interior of the temple looks like. The public response seems to be positive over the years. The cult like perception seems to have dissipated to some degree.
Maybe a similar reaction would occur if the financial records were open. It seems to me that there would be a more positive missionary
impact that would occur too.

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desertghost93
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Re: An Unemotional Analysis of the Recent "Whistleblower" on LDS Church Finances

Post by desertghost93 » 27 Dec 2019, 02:03

Minyan Man wrote:
24 Dec 2019, 15:23
The title for Curt's post is: An Unemotional Analysis... yet all of us who responded, myself included, are
reacting emotionally to some degree. I don't think we can help ourselves. My wife & I can't talk about our
own finances without emotions rising to the top. Would we get as emotional about this topic if the church
was more open to the membership about how our offering were used, or invested?

This is an interesting article: http://www.ldsliving.com/The-Unexpected ... pt/s/80449
It deals with how the church dealt with a blackmail attempt. As a result, the church was more open about what the interior of the temple looks like. The public response seems to be positive over the years. The cult like perception seems to have dissipated to some degree.
Maybe a similar reaction would occur if the financial records were open. It seems to me that there would be a more positive missionary
impact that would occur too.
That's pretty neat! I didn't know that occurred. It is interesting like you say - we all acted emotionally to this story. Despite the title of the OP. I think it would be a good idea for the church to be more open about their finances. It would benefit the church in the long run. One could simply ask - what would Jesus do?
You can’t base your knowledge of a church off-broadway plays and the media, or even comments from church members because there are millions of them and they are all different and have different opinions, just like everybody else in this world.

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nibbler
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Re: An Unemotional Analysis of the Recent "Whistleblower" on LDS Church Finances

Post by nibbler » 27 Dec 2019, 06:44

I don't know what's so bad about emotions, they serve a purpose. It's helpful to understand the root of what produces our emotions and put them into perspective.

After all, emotions can interfere with analysis in both directions. People can rush to the defense of the church before they've processed facts.

I think the title of the thread could be translated as: analysis of the whistleblower's claims independent of the emotions that are interwoven with the subject of tithing.

I think most people have concluded that the whistleblower's claim of illegal behavior probably doesn't have legs but legalities aside, the whistleblower opened up the conversation. Members haven't had a view into church finances, now they have some small view, however inaccurate that view may be.

If the scope of the thread is limited to "does the whistleblower have a case?" perhaps we could create a new thread to discuss the moral implications of the church's wealth.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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Cadence
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Re: An Unemotional Analysis of the Recent "Whistleblower" on LDS Church Finances

Post by Cadence » 30 Dec 2019, 09:15

it just seems a little hypocritical to me. The leaders teach to pay tithing above all else and rely on the lord to provide. To exercise faith that you will be taken care of. But sitting on a hoard of money seems opposite of that. If the leaders lived by faith they would funnel that money back into some worthwhile endeavors every year. Then rely on the lord to provide for the future. I can imagine that would seem scary for the leaders to rely completely on the lord to provide, but that is exactly what they ask us to do.
Faith, as well intentioned as it may be, must be built on facts, not fiction--faith in fiction is a damnable false hope. Thomas A. Edison

“The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” Neil deGrasse Tyson

grobert93
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Re: An Unemotional Analysis of the Recent "Whistleblower" on LDS Church Finances

Post by grobert93 » 30 Dec 2019, 10:16

Cadence wrote:
30 Dec 2019, 09:15
it just seems a little hypocritical to me. The leaders teach to pay tithing above all else and rely on the lord to provide. To exercise faith that you will be taken care of. But sitting on a hoard of money seems opposite of that. If the leaders lived by faith they would funnel that money back into some worthwhile endeavors every year. Then rely on the lord to provide for the future. I can imagine that would seem scary for the leaders to rely completely on the lord to provide, but that is exactly what they ask us to do.
Plus you are required to (at least claim to) be a full and honest tithe payer to enter the temple, attend byu schools and get employment with church owned businesses.

Curt Sunshine
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Re: An Unemotional Analysis of the Recent "Whistleblower" on LDS Church Finances

Post by Curt Sunshine » 01 Jan 2020, 21:52

No, Cadence, the church leaders teach us to work, and save for hard times, and stay out of debt, and get as much education as possible, etc. They don't teach consecration in practical terms; they teach tithing and Fast Offerings. They couch it in terms of exercising faith and/or relying on the Lord, but they don't frame it as give everything away and rely on blessings to sustain. It is the classic faith AND works concept.

The amount is one thing. I would say it is open to criticism or acceptance. The approach is another thing entirely. I see no hypocrisy whatsoever in the actions - especially since they are paying a generous tithing into the investment portfolio (the report says 14%), in a very real way, with faith that the Lord will multiply the offering.

Again, whether the Lord is involved or not is open to disagreement, but they literally are doing what they tell the members to do.
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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SamBee
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Re: An Unemotional Analysis of the Recent "Whistleblower" on LDS Church Finances

Post by SamBee » 03 Jan 2020, 16:34

My big annoyance is that they got rid of paid janitors and even our church psychologist here, both of whom did a lot of good. (I saw that shrink - he was the best I've ever come across.)... And did so due to supposed budget cuts. And it's not as if the money isn't there.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

Curt Sunshine
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Re: An Unemotional Analysis of the Recent "Whistleblower" on LDS Church Finances

Post by Curt Sunshine » 03 Jan 2020, 21:46

I think that is the biggest issue for me, as well. It isn't the amount of the portfolio; it is the "little" stuff that feels like nickel and diming in some cases.

I understand and admire frugality; I have a harder time with things that seem miserly.
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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SilentDawning
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Re: An Unemotional Analysis of the Recent "Whistleblower" on LDS Church Finances

Post by SilentDawning » 06 Jan 2020, 18:09

I confess I did not read everything up to this point, but based on the first few pages I read, and Curt's analysis, I have the following thoughts.

1. As a priesthood leader/Welfare Committee member at one time, I found the leaders to be rather tight-fisted about money. I realize you have to be careful with disbursing welfare monies, and that people will take advantage of free resources if you let them -- often without doing their part. But I still found the church to be rather tight-fisted on many counts. The huge wealth of the church bothers me in the light of this.

2. I personally have been let down by the church in my moment of need multiple times. Once when I needed help getting on a mission, and once with following through on an adoption (for which I was paying), and once when I needed access to counseling for church-related depression. For the latter, they were just too busy to see me about my problem = not enough counselors. It makes it hard to give liberally to a cause that is awash in cash but can't seem to reciprocate on matters that are at the heart of its mission.

3. I am not ready for retirement, and have long found it hard to justify to give away 10% (suggested retirement savings is 15% of your income for life) leaving me insufficient funds to fund my own basic necessities when I age, and when again, the church isn't there for me when I have had legitimate needs in the past. And when the church doesn't really need my sacrifice.

4. When active, I have always been a very strong contributor, so I have not been a benchwarmer until I hit my commitment crisis. I don't feel badly about not contributing much.

5. I have aging parents running out of money, and they come first. Before a church with such large assets.

5. The article we are discussing only confirms that the church really does not need my money. I don't buy the arguments that I need to give away my wealth as I earn it -- for my own spirituality. I want emotional stability and inner peace. And I don't care what people say, knowing you have enough money to fund health problems, unemployment, Social Security payments drying up etcetera is a source of peace for me. Being completely exposed to the consequences of such things hurts inner peace and requires mental gymnastics and great emotional effort to produce peace. And there are enough emotional problems to deal with let alone temporal worry that comes from simply not having money to fund your basic needs!

So, for now I think the church will have to limp along without my retirement savings.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

A man asked Jesus "do all roads lead to you?" Jesus responds,”most roads don’t lead anywhere, but I will travel any road to find you.” Adapted from The Shack, William Young

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hawkgrrrl
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Re: An Unemotional Analysis of the Recent "Whistleblower" on LDS Church Finances

Post by hawkgrrrl » 10 Jan 2020, 12:33

I confess two things: 1) I didn't read all the comments that came before, and 2) today it occurred to me that I've been off the grid mostly (due to some health issues), but I didn't mean to totally disappear. I'm back!

On this topic, I have a lot of things to say, so here goes:
1) I remember the Church's insolvent days in the 70s, although I was a kid then, but the Church was definitely not in the same position it is now, and some of that change is certainly laudable. Let's start with that in mind. These aren't the Kirtland Bankers at the helm. This is some savvy management.
2) Some of that turnaround was dependent on strong-arm tactics that didn't exist back in the day: making tithing a requirement (through the TR recommend) to be in good standing and to be eligible for callings, BYU attendance, working for the Church, and so forth; focusing on paying on gross vs. net (or better yet "surplus" like it says in the D&C); requiring those receiving welfare assistance to also pay full tithing despite the fact that it's not what the D&C says and it's a regressive tax; placing greater limits (e.g. time limits, bureaucracy) on welfare assistance; reducing ward budgets to extreme levels (although in the 70s, these were through direct member donations, not from Church HQ) by relying on un-reimbursed member labor and goods & services that are unreported (this includes things like youth trips members just pay for, food for parties that aren't reimbursed, and janitorial work performed by members).
3) It isn't that easy to spend $100B well on charitable endeavors. It takes planning and about $10B just to make it happen. I get that.
4) Given the mentality, I don't trust the Church to make great decisions about how to spend that money, if at all. The statement that they are hoarding it for the second coming sounds utterly ludicrous to me (here, Jesus, we all chipped in and got you this gift card for $100B). Will the financial systems not collapse in this theoretical future? Will we actually need $100B then? What exactly is supposed to be the point of having a huge wad of cash vs. doing charitable works in anticipation? It sounds fine if you want to get the govt off your back to say that (because it's a religious defense and therefore unassailable, but those of us in this religion have never heard that stockpiling money is a requirement to prepare for the second coming!)

Maybe we are stuck in a corporate mindset. Corporations are people, my friend, as Mitt Romney said, but what he didn't say is that if corporations are people, those people are psychopaths because their only motive is to increase how much money they make. That's the measure of success, not the good they do in the world.

But I think it's more likely that we are in the mindset of people who survived the depression. Now that we have money, we can't help but wash and reuse our tin foil "just in case." It's nearly impossible to get people in this frame of mind to realize that they probably went too far to get where they are. We should create a way to really pay your tithing on surplus (after living expenses) using a form people can fill out to assess their extra. That would eliminate it being a regressive tax on the poor. We should also find a way to quit blackmailing Church members who don't have a TR, to find a way to actually let people be in the Church without one, even while encouraging them to have one. Can't we make the temple a carrot rather than a stick? By doing it the way we do it, we aren't creating moral reasons to comply. We are just forcing people's hand.

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