Monday, March 26, 2007

Where does all the money go?

I've decided to keep a running total of how much money I would have given the LDS church for the year 2007 based on my gross earnings at my part-time job. Of course, if I were to be uber-Nazi Mormon, I would be paying tithes on my vehicle reimbursements for mileage, and including the money I earn selling odds and ends on eBay, and even paying tithes on the child support payments I receive, AND even trying to pay on my Never-Mo husband's income, but I think the point will be made by the end of the year that I am a much better handler of my own money than the church. I plan to also keep track of any major expenses that can't be planned for, like a transmission going out, or a kid in the emergency room. Then we will see how far my own money would have taken me, versus relying on the help of the church in those times of crisis.

I've been down that road before, living on state assistance for food and shelter, having my only mode of transportation wiped out, and still asking myself if it was really expected of me to hand over 10% of my single income to the multi-million dollar corporation that is the church, while I simultaneously humble myself to ask the bishop for money from the ward fast and offerings fund so that I could fix my car and continue working to earn that 10% to give to the church. Nevermind that the children and I sometimes ate Ramen three or four nites a week and having a gallon of milk in the house was about as likely as having a gold-plated toilet seat. As long as I had that temple recommend, God was looking out for me. But I was also interviewed weekly, expected to maintain my attendance and keep up the hunt for a better job, without committing to working nights or weekends so that I could take care of my children AND serve the Lord.

It's amazing how far I've come. Just last week, I was able to pay CASH for a car, and drive away with it the same day. I had the money, and it was largely in part because I don't HAVE any guilt about not sacrificing it to an entity that has NO accountability to me whatsoever about how they spend it. I know NOW what the church spends their money on, but didn't try to guess back then, because I was trying to be trusting and submissive, like a little child. Here is a short list of where the money goes:

BYU-Idaho 54,000 sq. ft. building named after Gordon B. Hinckley-- $35 Million

ZCMI Center renovation-- $20 million

Crossroads Plaza malls- $1 BILLION

Conference Center- the great and spacious building on Temple Square---$1.1 BILLION

City Creek Center-- $6 to $8 million

Salt Lake Valley Temples--- Draper $450 million and South Jordan $385 million

Ensign Plaza South--$75 to $125 million

Church Office Building (est 2008 plans)---$350 million to $750 million, depending on how much remodeling is done

Tabernacle renovations---$175 million

Upgrades for Salt Lake temple for earthquake resistance--$250 to $450 million

[So, see all the expenses that the church has in order to maintain itself? Gee, it's no wonder to me why they would need all that money from the poorest of the poor within the church.]

Gordon Hinckley's 95th Birthday Party, July 22nd 2005---Undisclosed amount of $$, no doubt paid for by the church, or corporation dividends, or interest earnings, but all the same----IT'S FROM THE TITHES OF THE CHURCH.

[To be fair, let's take a look at some of the assets of the church and get the complete picture:]

Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch, Orlando, Fl---312,000 acres, valued at $858 million.

Beneficial Life Insurance Company---assets of $1.6 billion

Deseret Management Corp-- holder of all the farmland and ranches--valued at $11 billion with an annual income from investments of $600 million including 88,000 acres of farmland in Nebraska--$17.6 million

[Still feel like the church depends on your measley $75 a week? Do you even know how much they rake in per YEAR, just in tithes off the members?]

$5.2 billion in tithes , $4.9 billion from American Mormons (and that's from 10 years ago)

Mormons rather naively assume much of the money goes to aid the poor, which is wildly inaccurate--only a miniscule proportion goes to "charitable causes." Most of it goes to support the corporate operations of the Church--buildings (chapels, temples, visitor's centers), payroll (CES employees, LDS bureaucrats, and GA salaries paid out as "living expenses"), and investments (primarily securities and real estate).

Who "owns" the assets of the Church, generally estimated to be in the tens of billions of dollars? Theoretically, "the Church" owns the assets, with senior leaders exercising control as "trustees" of the Church and its members. Practically, the senior leaders own the assets--they make the decisions, they are accountable to no one, and none of the "little people" (average Church members, supposedly the ones in whose interest the money and assets are managed) have a say in what is done with the money or are even able to obtain meaningful financial information concerning revenues, expenditures, assets, or budgets.

So, all you working poor members- are you still proud to say that you are a member of the richest church (corporation) around? Think about that next time your car breaks down, or your kids are eating leftovers again, with no money left to pay for replacing a broken pair of glasses. Your church leaders are very well taken care of and provided for. They are on the payroll of the corporation as a trustee, nobody in the General Authority is living off of Social Security in a rundown old farmhouse outside of town. I'll even bet there is a gallon of milk in the fridge at ALL TIMES.

If you are still comfy handing over your working $$ to the church, in exchange for that temple recommend and the promise of a better life, ask yourself this question: Does God need this money, or does the church demand it?

As for me, I'd rather give $20 to a homeless family once a week, or donate food to an animal shelter, or invest in a program that helps research for cures to diseases like AIDS or diabetes, than to just throw it over my shoulder and hope the wind carries it where it should go. Right now, my kids need everything I can earn, and even some more, so I will be keeping my money for what God intended, taking care of the poor and less fortunate, those that depend on me for support. The church doesn't need our money, because they have enough of their own. Why aren't THEY giving 10% of THEIR income to the Lord?

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