Yes, Mormons tithe, but most others don’t

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RNS photo by Sean Locke/iStockPhoto.

RNS photo by Sean Locke/iStockPhoto.

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(RNS) Across the religious landscape, tithing is often preached but rarely realized.  Research into church donations shows a wide range of giving, with Mormons among the most generous relative to income, conservative Christians next, followed by mainline Protestants and Catholics last. By Bruce Nolan.

  • coltakashi

    Thanks for making clear there at the end that Mormons make their donations privately. They are placed in small opaque envelopes and handed quietly to the bishop or his two counselors outside of meetings. No one knows if you are making donations or how much, except for the bishop and the financial clerks. They deposit the funds immediately and they are credited to a central Church account. The congregation or “ward” has its own checking account that is replenished by the Church to cover building maintenance and utilities and basic supplies. There are no salaries, since all of the leadership and teaching positions are filled by unpaid members of the ward who accept “callings” from the Bishop or the president of the Stake (“diocese”), and all support themselves with regular jobs. New buildings are constructed out of central church funds, which also underwrite the BYU campuses in Utah, Idaho and Hawaii.

    The living expenses of young missionaries are paid out of Church funds depending on the cost of living in each country. Families with missionaries serving donate a uniform amount, currently around $400 a month, that is pooled and covers both the low costs of living in Bolivia and the high cost in London. Retired couples also serve as missionaries, paying most of their own expenses.

    The welfare farms and food projects are sustained by a lot of volunteer labor from church members who help raise food that is given to the poor and used in disaster relief efforts. After Hurricane Katrina, some 100,000 Mormons worked clearing up debris along the Gulf Coast and distributing necessities.

    So it should be understood that not only do Mormons tithe their income, they also donate a lot of their time to the Church and their fellow members. Those like the bishop and his counselors (a position Mitt Romney once held for five years) often devote 20 hours a week to their callings, 1,000 hours a year. It ingrains a strong sense of serving others. That sense of putting others before self is part of the life experience of Mitt and Ann Romney and other Mormons.


    With a new covenant in place (Hebrews 12:24) the collection became a matter of conscience, not necessity.

    According to 1 Cor 16:1-2 disciples of Christ are to provide for the church “as God has prospered him.” That is, those with more give more; those with less, give less. Now it’s not a matter of hard math but of a clear conscience; giving, not grudgingly but willingly for God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7).