Grunt

Financial Whistleblower

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36 minutes ago, Maureen said:

Then why did you spend the time commenting on my post? Explain what you mean by "random street person", since you seem to be accusing @MarginOfError of being that when he is a tithe paying member like yourself.

Now I'm curious. @MarginOfError, did you take estradling's wording as calling you a "random street person" in the following quote?

20 hours ago, estradling75 said:

Opaqueness to who?  You? A Random John Doe off the street?  That is not how most of any business are run.  The books are closed and the finances are hidden from people who do not need to know. 

Now, I can see how @john doe might feel that way...

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53 minutes ago, Vort said:

Now I'm curious. @MarginOfError, did you take estradling's wording as calling you a "random street person" in the following quote?

Now, I can see how @john doe might feel that way...

That's how MSM gets away with their fake narratives... just twist what someone says "juuuust so" and it means something else different like... RACIST!

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If everyone was being transparent let's get to the real issue at hand:

1) If the Church supported and funded everything pertaining to SSM and homosexual behavior this would not have been gone as public. It would have simply been an investigation.

2) If the Church removed the WoW allowing all members now to openly choose their beverage while still attending the temple, this would have simply been an investigation.

3) If the natural man wasn't an enemy to God, this would have simply been an investigation.

4) If the Church leaders would simply change God's laws (which are unchangeable) the Church wouldn't be facing such scrutiny.

5) We can expect this type of scrutiny and enmity to increase until they can find something to stick.

Oh my heavens, if they think $100B is a lot of money, just wait for the Law of Consecration and the United Order to be once again commanded. I would think the Church is probably doing what Christ has already said, "Give unto Ceaser what is Ceasars." (paraphrazed)

I would also bet, wait for it.... there are probably mistakes made -- its called human fallacy/error. I have never met a perfect person, and I wasn't alive when the only perfect person died that all might be saved. I mean look at how the Church seeks to be organized at the ward level and how many members don't read, don't care, or simply disregard the Handbook because they are smarter and wiser -- they know what's best. The same in business. The Church teaches and expects us to follow the laws. As any other organization they will follow them and some of their hired employees might even get pretty close or even cross a borderline.

People who have issues with the Church leaders, the Church, will continue to seek to hurt the Church. Nothing new. They have been doing this since the restoration of the Church in 1830. They will continue to do.

And I bet, if the Church looses its tax exempt status we will once again hear from the natural man, "Thus ends Mormonism," and 50 years later the Church will still be thriving. I do feel sorry for Brother Nielsen, yet I do hope he was sincere at the same time. The chances are he will hopefully in this life recognize his error, if not, well...thanks goodness we have a just God.

 

 

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17 hours ago, anatess2 said:

That's how MSM gets away with their fake narratives... just twist what someone says "juuuust so" and it means something else different like... RACIST!

Exactly... I mean honest misunderstandings happen.  But when it happens consistently, even after having it repeatedly pointed out, then it stops being an honest misunderstanding and an axe grinding bias.  Once you realize that there is no point in further interaction with the ones doing it, all you can really do is warn other about it so they don't waste their time 

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4 hours ago, Anddenex said:

If everyone was being transparent let's get to the real issue at hand:

If we are being transparent lets be honest... Most people complaints about how other people save or spend money is because they did not have a say in how it is done and for whatever reason they feel entitled to it.  This goes all the way back to Judas.  When Christ was anointed with a pricey ointment, Judas complained that the ointment was not sold and the money given to the poor instead

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1 hour ago, estradling75 said:

If we are being transparent lets be honest... Most people complaints about how other people save or spend money is because they did not have a say in how it is done and for whatever reason they feel entitled to it.  This goes all the way back to Judas.  When Christ was anointed with a pricey ointment, Judas complained that the ointment was not sold and the money given to the poor instead

The Church seems to have accomplished what it did fiscally, by saving roughly 15% of its income each year.  Saving 15% is classic financial planning advice, but only a tiny proportion of Americans actually do it.

This lends both a jealousy angle and a political angle to the story.  First, because there’s something very humiliating about getting into midlife and realizing that if you’d just done what Grandma told you to do all along, you’d now be as prosperous as your cousin who took Grandma’s advice more seriously than you did.  And second, because a lot of folks (primarily on the left) have made a living peddling the narrative that our society is so broken that ordinary people and groups can no longer attain prosperity through hard work and careful planning; and the Church is living proof to the contrary.

 

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17 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

The Church seems to have accomplished what it did fiscally, by saving roughly 15% of its income each year.  Saving 15% is classic financial planning advice, but only a tiny proportion of Americans actually do it.

This lends both a jealousy angle and a political angle to the story.  First, because there’s something very humiliating about getting into midlife and realizing that if you’d just done what Grandma told you to do all along, you’d now be as prosperous as your cousin who took Grandma’s advice more seriously than you did.  And second, because a lot of folks (primarily on the left) have made a living peddling the narrative that our society is so broken that ordinary people and groups can no longer attain prosperity through hard work and careful planning; and the Church is living proof to the contrary.

 

I really do hate the narrative/assumption that many display that if you have more then X amount of dollars saved or you make more then X amount of money.  (With X clearly being an amount more than them).  That you must have done something illegal/immoral so others are morally and legal entitled to take your stuff away

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I thought this had some useful information: https://publicsquaremag.org/editorials/the-100-billion-mormon-church-story-a-contextual-analysis/?fbclid=IwAR2esMr6KeXYqOTbdCFR1EsVlWbLKOkWwlIdMI_MGm2fPdey9vvCmT03YaE

The part that really stood out to me was that his is the first article that really explained that it is common for charitable trusts to have funds of 10 to 20 times annual operating costs. I'm not sure how they know what the Church's operating costs are (since the Church refuses to publish them as is their right), but Miller claims that $100E9 is a believable value and that $100E9 is about 16 times the Church's annual expenses (I think he is using the $6E9 figure that I see floating around that I believe comes from D. Michael Quinn's analysis, but is otherwise unverifiable in any official way). Miller's analysis suggests to me that the Church is managing its finances similar to other charities, and I at least feel better about it. I do find myself sympathetic to MoE's request for a little bit of transparency -- it doesn't seem like it would hurt to publish and abbreviated statement to show in some official way that the Church is within normal parameters for a non-profit, but I at least feel better understanding this.

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Guest MormonGator

There is good news and bad news about this. The good news is that no one outside the church cares. 95% of my FB is non-Mormon, and no one has posted about it, commented on it, or even knows what happened. And yes, the majority of my friends are news junkies like we are. This is totally irrelevant to their lives. 

The bad news is that the church is totally irrelevant in their lives. 😞 

Edited by MormonGator

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Guest Mores
5 hours ago, MrShorty said:

Thanks.  Good read.

I found the following lines worthy of comment.

Quote

Despite all 74 pages in the report, there’s just not enough there.

I remember getting some data from a third party that was over 100 pages long.  I read through it and told the PM that there was nothing in it.  He was shocked because he knew how large a file it was.  But when I stepped him through it, he got on the phone and railed at the third party for charging us money for basically a non-deliverable.

I wonder what the IRS will do (if they can do anything) for being misled to the point that they're reading a 74 page document that really doesn't say anything.  I have not read it myself.  So, I don't know.  I just listened to the highlights and figured the same thing this author appeared to have concluded from having read the whole document.

Quote

And here’s the paradox likely unknown to most people: giving money away effectively is generally much harder than earning it. The problem is that people assume that all giving is good giving when that is not remotely true.

This is an excellent point.  The Church does take great care in how careful they are to protect their reputation when they give money to causes outside the Church.  They supported that endeavor with an LGBTQ organization to combat teen suicide.  Seemed like a good idea.  But look at the backlash they got for it.  Imagine if they gave away to other "good causes" that didn't actually pass deeper inspection.  And then there are unintended consequences even if the cause really is a good one.  Was it really a good idea to give to such causes when the results were not what we thought they'd be?

I loved his analysis of what tithing actually is.  And I'd like to add something to what he said.  This applies only to members of the Church.  

  • The tithing funds are different than the offerings.  Remember what their purposes are for.
  • The Church runs on a surplus of tithing.  What is it supposed to do with it? 
    • The author of this article mentions how the Church had its assets seized in the past, giving any entity a motivation to keep a large reserve.
    • Because the law of tithing has ALWAYS been 10% of our income, that isn't going to be reduced simply because we have extra.
    • It is not supposed to be used for taking care of the poor.  That is what offerings are for.  Although, I can see some level of overlap, it appears that the fast offerings are generous enough to take care of the needs that are normally associated with that.
    • So, the only thing that makes sense is to invest it so that the Church can still run in times of great dearth.  Yes, greater than what we have seen since 1997.
  • Simply spending more on operational expenses would mean that we're wasting the Lord's money.
  • I can sympathize with predicaments like what MOE mentioned about ... what was it towels? or cleaning supplies?  But I have to wonder, why is there such a dearth.  Every ward / bulilding has funds to sustain the building with regular supplies.  What's happening to the supplies?  Or was the building simply not given those funds for that year?  Or, ???  I'm missing something.  We had such a thing happen in our ward (we were the only ward in the building).  It turned out that some of the youth were ... ehm ... "wasting" or "stealing" the supplies for whatever it is that youth do.  Apart from that, I don't know why such a thing would happen.  Maybe he mentioned why.  I missed it.

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6 hours ago, MrShorty said:

I do find myself sympathetic to MoE's request for a little bit of transparency -- it doesn't seem like it would hurt to publish and abbreviated statement to show in some official way that the Church is within normal parameters for a non-profit, but I at least feel better understanding this.

Have you looked? I haven't but I'm not sufficiently interested to look. I would be surprised if charitable organisations are not required to publish at least some sort of financial information. 

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16 hours ago, askandanswer said:

I would be surprised if charitable organisations are not required to publish at least some sort of financial information. 

I admit I have not searched very hard for the information, but you may be surprised to learn that I have not searched because, according to those who have searched (like Sam Brunson mentioned earlier in the thread or D Michael Quinn who wrote a history of Church finances a couple of years ago) assert that such a financial report is not required in the US. The most common financial report that I see referenced is the one for the UK where the Church is required to file, and I see mentions that Canada and maybe Australia also require such disclosures. As near as I can tell, everything the public thinks it knows about Church finances is extrapolated from those countries where such financial disclosures are required by law.

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Guest MormonGator

For converts, it's a bit of a surprise. Many other churches publish their finances right in the bulletin and are much more open with it. Also, many churches will send you a postcard or the pastor will stop and thank you for donating. So for some converts how the LDS church handles tithing can take some adjusting. 

Edited by MormonGator

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9 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

For converts, it's a bit of a surprise. Many other churches publish their finances right in the bulletin and are much more open with it. Also, many churches will send you a postcard or the pastor will stop and thank you for donating. So for some converts how the LDS church handles tithing can take some adjusting. 

In your experience, how common is it for squabbles to break out over how congregational funds are being used?  And do those sorts of squabbles become more likely when the church is (financially) doing very well, or very poorly?

Edited by Just_A_Guy

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1 minute ago, Just_A_Guy said:

In your experience, how common is it for squabbles to break out over how congregational funds are being used? 

Remember I wasn't insulting the church. . I was just explaining how some converts feel. Actually, I can think of several converts who have told me exactly what I said.

In my limited experiences with other churches (very limited actually) squabbles over this and that are very, very common. It's because even in churches where people basically agree on matters of faith and morals, there will still be disagreements on....well...every. topic. imaginable. 

 

4 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

And do those sorts of squabbles become more likely when the church is (financially) doing very well, or very poorly?

Let me answer that question in a different way. Before I graduated with my BA, I got my Associates in Paralegal Studies. In order to do that, I had to intern at a family law place for about three months, followed by an internship with the Public Defenders . It was a miserable experience and I realized how much I hate the legal field (no apologies @Just_A_Guy). One lawyer in the family law office said to me, "The less money they have, the more they fight over it."  

 

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18 minutes ago, MormonGator said:

Remember I wasn't insulting the church. . I was just explaining how some converts feel. Actually, I can think of several converts who have told me exactly what I said.

In my limited experiences with other churches (very limited actually) squabbles over this and that are very, very common. It's because even in churches where people basically agree on matters of faith and morals, there will still be disagreements on....well...every. topic. imaginable. 

 

Let me answer that question in a different way. Before I graduated with my BA, I got my Associates in Paralegal Studies. In order to do that, I had to intern at a family law place for about three months, followed by an internship with the Public Defenders . It was a miserable experience and I realized how much I hate the legal field (no apologies @Just_A_Guy). One lawyer in the family law office said to me, "The less money they have, the more they fight over it."  

 

FWIW, I wasn’t trying to make any particular point; I was sincerely curious how things run in other congregations.  As you suggest, these aren’t the sorts of things lifelong Mormons are used to having to worry about.  :) 

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7 minutes ago, Just_A_Guy said:

I was sincerely curious how things run in other congregations.

Totally understand my friend. Like I said, I'm not an expert. Speaking just for @MormonGator, I was a little surprised about how tithing worked at first. 

Other churches will send you postcards in appreciation just for putting 5$ in the collection plate. They'll also publish what they got in the collection plate, how they used it, etc. I've had other converts tell me the exact same thing-that seeing how tithing works takes some getting used to. Like you said, a lifelong LDS can't imagine it any other way. 

Edited by MormonGator

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24 minutes ago, Grunt said:

I never received a thanks or anything from any of the churches I've attended.  I've also never seen how much money the church received or how it was used.

I've seen the letters, so I know they exist. 

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13 minutes ago, zil said:

In fact, you've just used 14 out of 26 of them.

And that's why we keep you in the compound. We need someone with those amazing math skills. 

Edited by MormonGator

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On 12/20/2019 at 9:09 AM, Just_A_Guy said:

A couple of observations:

—I think people who actually pay tithing generally understand that tithing (as opposed to fast offerings or funds specified to humanitarian aid) go primarily to Church operating expenses, and only secondarily (if at all) to humanitarian aid.  

Maybe I misunderstood. I thought the $7 billion was donations, which would included all tithes and offerings.

Quote

—There’s kind of an assumption in a lot of these sorts of discussions they “charity” must be one and the same thing as “humanitarian aid”.  When you think about it, though—the DNC and RNC are tax-exempt charities but do relatively little in way of what we would consider “humanitarian aid”.  Ditto for many political think tanks and action committees, and entities like Planned Parenthood and environmental advocacy groups and educational institutions.  There’s nothing wrong with using Church funds to keep the lights on in a meetinghouse, or building that meetinghouse in the first place—particularly when we’re building it on behalf of impoverished third-world Saints who could never do something like that on their own.

My understanding of the situation is that the complaint doesn't criticize the destination of expenditures, but that there are no expenditures. It is the lack of expenditures that is the violating condition of the non-profit status. It's a claim I feel would be worthy of some level of investigation, given that the complainant didn't have a full view of the finances, and so may not have seen any other outgoing expenditures. But it's the kind of thing I think is fair to evaluate.

Quote

—I’ve *had* my temple recommend revoked.  The day-to-day social fallout from this was . . . zero.  (Granted, it would have been more awkward had there been any family members getting sealed during the periods in question.  But the subtext we often see from critics suggesting that the Church is fundamentally and visibly cleft into an upper caste that has been arbitrarily granted temple recommends and a lower caste that has been arbitrarily denied them, is nonsense.)   And the theological and familial adverse effects were essentially zero since I undeniably already wasn’t living the covenants that kept me temple-worthy.

My counter to this would be that, for most tithe payers, the day-to-day social fallout is not why they pay their tithing. The longer term consequences, like salvation and exaltation, are also thrown into the mix of consequences. It isn't uncommon for tithing to become an emotionally fraught decision (either for those that struggle financially or those that have concerns about the use of tithing).  

Quote

—To anyone who actually believes the Church doctrine and takes their temple covenants seriously, “tithing” isn’t manipulative.  It’s a scriptural precept affiliated with the Law of Consecration, the keeping of which is a temple obligation and which actually shapes our characters and makes better people (not to mention being an essential component of many of the minor miracles Latter-day Saints purport to see in their lives).  Now, yes; all that could theoretically happen if I gave my tithing to some other entity.  But if I take the sort of step that affirmatively signals that I don’t trust the Church leadership’s financial judgment vis a vis my tithing, then that does have spillover effects for how well I trust them in their larger roles of building Zion (both spiritually and, when the time comes, temporally).  And a society that doesn’t operate on a basic level of trust—especially towards its leadership—cannot and will not become a Zion community.  

Ever.  

Granted, the trust goes both ways; and I can imagine plenty of situations where church leaders may be abusing that trust.  But to suggest that the universe of potentially abusive situations includes the real-life scenario in which the Church had the callousness to turn my widow’s mite into 3.75 widow’s mites which they haven’t happened to spend yet . . . strikes me as something of a stretch.

It may be that we have different models of how trust works. For me, trust requires accountability to those you are asking to trust you. That may not always be direct accountability. It might mean accountability through some disinterested third party. My bar for transparency is much lower than you might think. 

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On 12/19/2019 at 5:04 PM, estradling75 said:

Opaqueness to who?  You? A Random John Doe off the street?  That is not how most of any business are run.  The books are closed and the finances are hidden from people who do not need to know. 

Now there are legal requirement of disclosure that need to be met, and auditing and financial best practices for checking for errors and fraud that need to be perform. Which require the opening of the books and transparency to certain groups.  This should all be happening, but random street person is not going to see that

I'm going to go back and ask you to reread the post that prompted this response.  Especially the part that says 

Quote

What's even more frustrating to someone like me is that the bar for justification is pretty low.  If there were a statement of "Yes, we retain a fund of more than $100 billion against which we are able to self-insure our $300 billion of real estate assets and supplemental health insurance for youth activities." I'd be good with that. That makes complete sense to me. But that isn't what we get.  We get, "we haven't done anything illegal. Trust us. We got this." I don't find that particularly satisfying.

That level of discussion isn't uncommon at all.  It states what the goals and objectives of the organization are, and why or how they need the investment strategy they have chosen. I didn't call for full transparency. I didn't ask for the ledgers. I only stated I'd like to know why the account exists and what they hope to accomplish with it. Truthfully, I don't even care to know about any specific account. 

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