Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

Utah and Mormons are the most generous givers

(RNS) Utah is tops among all 50 states in generosity, according to a new report posted this week by WalletHub.

The report by the Word Giving Index breaks down “generosity” into two main categories: the state’s rate of volunteerism and the percentage of income its people spend on charitable donations.

In Utah, people donate an impressive 6.6 percent of their income to charity. New Hampshire was the stingiest, with just 1.6 percent of income given away.

Utah also ranks first in the percentage of people who say they donated their time (56 percent) and the total number of hours they volunteered (75.6 per person, nearly four times the volunteer hours of the lowest state, Kentucky).

Given Utah’s majority Mormon population it’s not surprising that the state came first in charitable giving. According to social science researchers Christian Smith and Michael O. Emerson, Mormons rank first among all religious groups in the United States in terms of charitable giving, donating 5.2 percent of income (though due to the small number of Mormons in this study the results “should be treated with caution.”)

That’s barely half of the 10 percent “gold standard” that Mormons are taught to strive for, but it’s nearly 2 percentage points higher than the next-most-generous group (Pentecostals, who give 3.4 percent) and far higher than the miserly Jehovah’s Witnesses (.9 percent), the nonreligious (1.1 percent) and Roman Catholics (1.5 percent).

Expectations are key to generosity, Smith and Emerson find. Religious groups that set a high (and clearly stated) standard, like Mormons do, are more likely to raise up members who tithe.

For example, only 1 out of 100 “tithe-paying” Christians — those who give at least 10 percent of their income to charity — come from religions that expect members to give between 1 percent and 4 percent of their income. On the other hand, a quarter of full tithe-payers “are in churches that … expect members to give 10 percent or more of their income.”

Such high expectations — and, in Mormonism, the knowledge that only a full tithe can grant a member access to the LDS temple — help to create a culture of givers, says Smith.

And that’s true every day of the year, not just on #GivingTuesday.

(Jana Riess writes the Flunking Sainthood column for RNS)

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

99 Comments

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  • Tithing is not charitable donation. It is the membership fee for the LDS Church and Ostracism Insurance.

    As long as the LDS Church continues to be one of the largest private commercial land owners in the US, there is no reasonable assumption one can make that tithing goes towards care of the needy.

  • It is my admittedly grossly unscientific observation that non-Mormons here in Utah are far more generous with their means and time than non-Mormons in other places I have lived. (I lived outside Utah for 38 years.)

  • No, tithing is not intended for the needy, but rather for the upkeep of Church infostructure. Different contributions, known as “fast offerings” (generally made in conjunction with periods of fasting) and other specific categories like for education and natural and man-made disasters, are consistently made for the care of the needy. You don’t understand.

  • The confusion is deliberate on the part of the church and it’s adherents, especially in this article to equate tithing with an actual charitable donation.

    It’s good PR to call it charity, but it really amounts to a political contribution or voluntary payment to a for profit venture.

    The harsh reality is the LDS is,one of the least financially transparent large Church organizations out there. Unless you are the comptroller for the church, you can’t tell me with any clarity or knowledge how your tithing is allocated or spent.

  • I think the flaw in this article is what I perceive as a conflating of tithing with charitable giving. In Mormonism one cannot attain the greatest glory in part without agreeing to pay the church (in the role of god’s gatekeeper)10% of one’s gross income. Kind of like Scientology which requires additional payments to level up. If one takes the church’s teachings seriously, paying tithing is optional like breathing is optional. And I wonder if cleaning the church and performing callings are included in time donations.

  • Lets assume the study is true. It still is problematic because the people in Utah are referring to the time they spent on Church activities. I am not sure how much credit we should give people on that and say they are charitable. They are not taking about helping the homeless for instance, they are taking about going to a Church meeting,etc.The second thing is they are talking about paying tithing which according to the Church does not go to charity. It goes to temples, expensive decor in Church schools and temples and spent on everything except assisting people who cannot pay bills and put food on their table.

  • Again we see Christian privilege distort even the words we use. Giving to your church is not “charity”. Actual charities spend most of their money helping others, while churches are businesses that provide income to the leaders who enjoy tax exempt privilege. “studies” that perpetuate this myth are simply propaganda supporting the status quo, and hurt actual charities by diverting most of the money away from the real charities. Can we please stop the lying of calling churches charities? Or at least, if one is going to do so, expect to be called out on it, Jana? http://religiondispatches.org/new-study-three-quarters-of-american-giving-goes-to-religion/

  • Tithing is NOT charity – it’s a membership due. And you have to pay to play in the great and spacious buildings.

  • Well-established? Where? I’m atheist and I donate more to real charitable causes then I ever did as a once conservative leaning adherent.

  • Works don’t save us, but rather show that we have been saved by Christ’s grace. I’d say that the teen suicides in Utah say more that paying tithes and accepting callings. But, that’s just my opinion. I’d be curious to see a comparison between LDS Mormons and other Mormon denominations. My family and I worshiped for a few months with Mormons in the Community of Christ and were impressed that the money collected in plates during services went to missionary work in 3rd world countries one Sunday a month, one Sunday a month the collection went to upkeep for the building, and all other Sundays the money went to feed the poor in the local community. Tithes weren’t just given to the Church, but any items, time, and/or money given to charities was seen as tithes as if they’d have been given to the Church. I’m curious to know how other Mormons give charitably and how their branches of our faith teach their members to serve others.

  • Even discounting the 10% tithing that Mormons cough up to the Church, they still tend to give more than most. Mormons also give another 1-2% in charity to the poor through Church “fast offerings.” But they also tend to put money in the Salvation Army kettle when they leave the store after Christmas shopping. I know Mormons who give to their local non-denominational food banks and/or help deliver meals. Giving back is one of the more positive aspects of Mormon culture. Now if they could only learn how to not drive LGBT youth to suicide in such frighteningly high numbers. That would be a better Christmas gift.

  • Mostly anecdotal. I grew up Mormon, married Mormon, and lived Mormon most of my life until the schism of having LGBT family and the Church’s harsh policies against them made me come to my senses and choose family over dogma.

  • Conservatives are the people most likely to vote for policies which make people impoverished, to cut off money and support to the poor and put them in situations where charitable donations are sought in the first place.

    Its been well established Conservatives are also most likely to lie and cast aspersions concerning the charitable efforts of people besides themselves, especially atheists.

  • Bravo for Utah and the Mormons! I doubt that any of the commentators you will read here even come close in this level of giving, whether a tithe or “pure charity,” as they would define it.

  • That’s a-tellin’ them, Bear! Athiests don’t believe in anything beyond themselves, so they don’t give. Liberals believe it’s government’s job to take care of everybody, which wins the bleeding-heart vote, but doesn’t do much for the needy. It’s left to conservatives to be realists and actually do the giving and helping that makes a difference.

  • The LDS Church is great charity to give to for my family.
    In my ward in the past couple of months there has been a Thanksgiving food drive that provided dinners for a dozen families by the youth, a scouting service project that provided meals for families at the Ronald McDonald House, several families with injured or ill parents provided child care and meals, youth basketball coaching provided, a project for gifts for Christmas started, training provided to families on financial management, employment services offered, training on ways to assist refugees given to all of the adults in the ward, lessons given in improving physical health and overcoming or avoiding addictions, assistance to a 12-step addiction recovery program, yard work for a disabled family, leadership and teaching training provided, election reminders provided, a presentation on strengthening marriage and families planned, and many other examples.
    Charity is much more than just giving stuff away (which the LDS Church does). The LDS Church does not just give a man a fish but actually trains one how to fish–allowing people to escape dependence. Many charities focus on just one particular thing (i.e., food donations, youth sports, housing assistance, employment, or education). The LDS Church is organized and gives in nearly every aspect of charity, while teaching members how to be more personally charitable. And its active members have the highest levels of happiness per Gallup. And there is the development of the spiritual side that is even more important to me. Good for Utah to have so many charitable LDS, and non-LDS, alike. It almost makes me want to live there (almost).

  • When you remember that the LDS church pulls in literally billions (with a b) of dollars a year, a food drive here or there is chicken feed. Of the ~8 billion the LDS church gets every year, less than 1% goes to actual charity. The rest goes to the church itself. When you look at any real charity (say, the Red Cross, in which spends 90.1% on actual charity), you can see that even with showy little programs here and there, the LDS church is not a charity, and funnels huge amounts of money from actual charities, so people starve, kids freeze, and damage happens. http://www.secularhumanism.org/fi/vol_32/4/cragun_32_4.pdf

  • You would have to construct a study that asks people to classify their service in order to get at that specific question, true. But I don’t understand why Mormons giving in terms of church service is “problematic.” Home teaching, for instance, would be included in this. I don’t see how visiting people to make sure they are doing all right and helping them out is somehow “problematic.” Or volunteering at the cannery, or scouting, or any other number of endeavors that improve people’s lives.

    I also don’t know where you get the idea that no tithing goes to welfare efforts. The welfare arm of the church is funded at least in part by tithing. But another portion of the giving cited in this study would include fast offerings, which are in fact dedicated to helping those in need.

  • Doubtful, after one takes into account that churches only give a few % of their budgets to actual charity. See my note above.

  • Churches are no more businesses than are the girl scouts. You may disagree with their mission, but that doesn’t change the fact that their mission is wholly different than a business.

  • Got it. “Actual charity” is mostly about giving food away. Teaching people how not to starve, how not to be addicted, how to keep marriages in tact, how to get jobs, how to help refugees, how to be forgiving, how to avoid wars, how to be healthy, how to raise families, how to be good citizens, how to lead, and how to teach is not “real” charity. “Real” charities give fish away, but they don’t spend money on teachers and buildings and programs that teach. That’s the theory of why the LDS Church is not a real charity.
    However, I once ran an organization that taught adult literacy, educated immigrants and the poor in English literacy and basic math, taught business skills to those who wanted to start business, and taught a U.S. citizenship class. Ninety (90) percent of the budget was for the building, teaching, curriculum, and computers. We had mostly volunteers, but I was paid a modest salary for my education and skills in running the thing (and I donated free time and part of my income back to the organization). We took people out of poverty and bettered their lives, but gave no food away. They learned how to make their own lives better and provide their own food. So, like the LDS Church, it was not a real charity. Got it. Whatever we call it, I am glad to contribute to it.

  • The Church on it’s official website tells exactly what tithing is used for. It is a surprise to many members such as yourself it is not used for charity. You would think it should be but sadly it does not go for that purpose. With roughly seven billion a year, I would love to see more given in that area but as rank and file members, we have no voice in the Church.In fact many churches including the Catholic Church here in the U.S. give a greater percentage to welfare needs.

  • Yes, the Church’s official website does say exactly what tithing is used for. This includes: “Supporting the Church’s welfare programs and humanitarian aid, which serve people around the world — both members of the Church as well as those who are not members.”

    I would love to see more financial transparency from the Church, but your assertion that no tithing goes to welfare or humanitarian services is false.

  • For an interesting perspective debunking some of the misconceptions you seem to carry, look up an article called “The Charity of the LDS Church” on a website called “Mormon American.” (I would post a link, but I don’t know if that will flag this post.)

  • “In keeping with the biblical practice of tithes, Latter-day Saints offer one-tenth of their income to the Church. These funds are used for:

    Providing buildings or places of worship for members around the world. We have thousands of such buildings and continue to open more, sometimes several in a week.
    Providing education programs, including support for our universities and our seminary and institute programs.
    Supporting the Church’s worldwide missionary program.
    Building and operating more than 140 temples around the world and the administration of the world’s largest family history program.
    Supporting the Church’s welfare programs and humanitarian aid, which serve people around the world.” Notice the word ‘support.” It is a clever use of the word because the Church gives VERY little money in terms of what they take in to humanitarian purposes. The Catholic Church gives a detailed accounting on their tax return which they publish for anyone to see.Seventh Day Adventist Church also beats us in terms pf percentage and transparency. The Church averages about 50 million per year when they take in about 7 billion in tithing alone. That does not even include their business profits.There is nothing that supports the article that says Utah is so generous.

  • Read that article I cited. The humanitarian aid figure is not all charitable giving. It refers to a specific sub-category of charitable giving. The church spends much more than that on what it categorizes as “welfare.” This includes Bishop’s storehouses, employment resource centers, job training, and educational programs. All of this is funded in the same way as other programs: through tithing (since fast offerings stay local). Additionally, the Church makes a number of other donations that fall outside either of these categories (examples are in the article I cited).

    I wish the church were more transparent with use of funds, although I understand many of the reasons it keeps financial data confidential. However, for that very reason you have no basis for the claim that “support” is being used as a weasel word.

    Another important point from the “American Mormon” article: the comparison between the LDS Church and other central faith organizations is comparing apples and oranges. In every other faith I know of (except perhaps Jehovah’s Witnesses) local congregations are funded locally. Not even the Catholic Church sends virtually all funds to a central fund which is then disbursed to local congregations. Thus, local needs such as building upkeep aren’t factored into such comparisons. Again, read the “American Mormon” article.

  • I know you would like that to be the case. Maybe if you were in charge, more money would go to the poor instead of building malls and temples. All money goes to one place according to the handbook.Section5.2.4.Salt Lake gets it all and buys nice homes for G.As etc while the widow is wondering why leaders never disclose how they spent her mite.

  • Ok, we can agree that greater transparency would be good. That doesn’t change the fact that the church operates a massive welfare program. It also doesn’t change the fact that your statement that the Church spends no tithing money on welfare services is not only unsupported, but demonstrably false. LDS Family Services, Employment Resource Services, bishop’s storehouses, canneries, etc., are all far too large to operate without using tithes, and the Church explicitly states that tithes fund welfare and humanitarian programs.

    And not that it’s important to this particular question, but the Brethren aren’t living lavish lifestyles. They spend much of their time in church buildings in different places in the world giving long talks and eating dull food prepared by members. They frequently sleep in the homes of local church leaders rather than hotels. They have comfortable homes, but most would have achieved similar levels of comfort while actually being able to retire had they not been called to Church service.

  • Lets not forget that the LDS church is one of the largest private commercial property owners in the nation. They need your tithes for operations, upkeep and charitable efforts, as much as Ford Motors would.

  • The Girl Scouts is not an aid organization, it is a civic one. There is no pretension that money going to it is to be used to aid the poor and needy. Besides, unlike the LDS, the Girl Scouts is not a significant owner of commercial property and ventures.

    Your church owns ranches, shopping malls and apartment building.

  • Greater transparency would make assertions about the church’s use of funds credible. Without it, nobody can take their assertions at face value. It is the difference between being objectively credible and deliberately obscuring information.

    You can’t say with any degree of credibility how the Brethren are living, their net worth, or how the church uses its funds. That is what lack of transparency does for you here.

  • And the LDS Church is not an aid organization. It is a religious organization, which means that its mission encompasses worship, proselytizing, activities for its religious community, teaching, preaching, religious rites, and yes, humanitarian and welfare services. There is a well-communicated expectation that tithes will go to all of those activities. I don’t see the problem here.

    I also don’t see the problem with owning ranches, shopping malls and apartment buildings. Most large organizations take care of their long-term financial needs through some form of investment or holding of assets. I don’t know what makes real estate so special that it should be taboo for a church. Besides, farms and ranches have non-financial benefits (ability to support welfare programs; landholdings useful in land swaps for future growth, etc) and that oft-maligned shopping mall has the benefit of preserving the atmosphere around the Church’s headquarters, which is a key component in many of the Church’s missions, including proselytizing.

  • “It is the difference between being objectively credible and deliberately obscuring information.” That goes both ways, and is part of the point I was making to Mike. Having said that, there are things that by observation, one can reach reasonable conclusions. The Brethren generally have a very busy schedule. That’s no secret. I’ve also seen the homes of some general authorities. In each instance in my experience, such homes are nice but not opulent. It’s also easy to observe that the Church’s welfare program is too big to not be funded by tithing. No need to open the books to see that.

  • Yet you previously considered contributions to it as a form of charity. It obviously isn’t. You acknowledge that the money going to it are largely towards self serving goals, not actual charitable works. Obviously your prior statements that your tithes are going to help the needy are wishful thinking or a gross exaggeration.

    Basically you have admitted that tithing is not charity. As I stated earlier it is more of an admission fee or in the case of close knit Mormon communities: Ostracism Insurance.

    “I also don’t see the problem with owning ranches, shopping malls and
    apartment buildings. Most large organizations take care of their
    long-term financial needs through some form of investment or holding of
    assets.”

    If they are making decent money off of varied commercial ventures, then why make demands of adherents (some of them poor, elderly, on fixed incomes, financially insecure) for money? Why make such efforts at coercing rank and file members to pay towards the church’s efforts? It smacks of exploitation.

  • If you don’t have financial transparency, you can’t make statements about how money is spent. It is just that simple.

    You can’t say anything about the church’s finances or how its members are compensated with a straight face here. You simply don’t have reliable information to make your assertions trustworthy or worse may be just making blanket excuses without the benefit of any real knowledge on the subject.

  • “Yet you previously considered contributions to it as a form of charity.” Nope. Never said that. Let me tell you the things I said about it in the comments section to this article:

    “Churches are no more businesses than are the girl scouts.” I never said they were “charities,” just not businesses.

    “I don’t understand why Mormons giving in terms of church service is “problematic.”” Again, I never said that giving in terms of church service matches some specific definition of “charity,” only that it is not “problematic.”

    I also debunked Mike’s assertion that no tithing goes to charity. According to the Church’s own statements (which we have no real reason to doubt), portions of tithing funds go to humanitarian and welfare efforts, which are “charity” under any definition. I never stated or implied that all or even a majority of tithes were used for such purposes.

    I have intentionally avoided claims like that because a clear definition of “charity” is not so easy to pin down. I think a lot of people are talking past each other on this issue due to different definitions. The study in question used the following: ““Public Charities” is based on the Internal Revenue Service’s definition of the term. Among others, these charities include “churches, hospitals, qualified medical research organizations affiliated with hospitals, schools, colleges and universities.” They do not include private foundations, most of which do not engage in “the direct operation of charitable programs.” However, religious organizations were included in the data for the following reasons: 1) the available data does not differentiate between secular charities and religious organizations, and 2) many donors and volunteers consider their contributions to such entities as “charitable giving.””

  • No, it’s not that simple. Were it so, you could not make the inverse argument that the Church does NOT give to charity or engage in welfare work.

    You can observe and make reasonable inferences from the observation. Notice that I have not made any claims to the percentage of spending that goes to any particular category because I don’t know. I only claim that it is safe to conclude that some portion of tithes go to the welfare and humanitarian programs.

  • I am not the one making the claim tithing was charity. Which was the premise of the article. The burden is on the claimant to prove their claim.

    Evidently it is for the purposes of self aggrandizement but isn’t when actually confronted on the subject. You have taken contradictory points of view already in defense of the church.

    All I have to do is point to the vast property and commercial holdings as an example of how money is being spent. Also I can point to money spent on political efforts on the church’s behalf. A lot of money is being spent on things having nothing to do with charity.

  • You straw manned and misrepresented Mike’s position in an exaggerated fashion. He made no such assertion that no money goes to charity. Just a pittance.

    Now you are trying to weaselword your way out of prior claims by playing definition games with the word charity.

  • I don’t think that was that was Jana’s claim either. Jana was simply reporting on a study that uses a definition of charity that includes all contributions to religious organizations. Your problem seems to be the nomenclature used to describe voluntary giving. That’s fine. The claim wasn’t tithing = charity. The claim was that “Utah is tops among all 50 states in generosity, according to a new report posted this week by WalletHub.” It then goes on to describe the findings of the study. Like all studies, this one has some limitations because it does not break out different kinds of voluntary giving. Thank you for pointing that out. But the crux of the argument was not tithing = charity.

    “You have taken contradictory points of view already in defense of the church.” I don’t think I have. At least you haven’t pointed to any contradictions.

    “All I have to do is point to the vast property and commercial holdings as an example of how money is being spent.” Great. But that doesn’t rebut the notion that the Church ALSO spends large sums of money on its welfare and humanitarian programs. Maybe that isn’t what you would prefer the Church spends its money on, and you are certainly entitled to that opinion, but that doesn’t weaken the specific claims that I have made. I, for one, have no problem with the Church investing in real estate or other ventures because I see it as a fiscally responsible decision that will allow the Church to carry on its mission well into the future.

  • “The second thing is they are talking about paying tithing which according to the Church does not go to charity.” Looking at the structure of that sentence, the most obvious interpretation is that he is claiming that the Church spends no money on charity. If Mike wanted to be clearer, he could have said tithing does not go exclusively to charity. But Mike seemed to double down on his claim after I made clear how I was interpreting his statement. I paraphrased his claim back to him, saying “I also don’t know where you get the idea that no tithing goes to welfare efforts.” This gave Mike a chance to clarify or correct my misinterpretation if any. Instead, he said, “You would think it should [go to welfare] but sadly it does not go for that purpose.” So, no, I don’t think I’m arguing a straw man or misrepresenting Mike. If Mike meant something else, he is free to clarify.

    I never claimed that tithing equals charity, except just now to show that contributions to religious organizations counted as “charity” for the purposes of the study. I showed you that. I’m not playing definitional games; I’m using the definitions used in the study.

  • Buys nice homes for GA’s? Since when?

    Apart from the President of the Church, who lives in the same apartment as his predecessors, and those sent to other countries on long-term assignments, GA’s buy their own homes just like everyone else.

  • So you arbitrarily – and surreptitiously – define charity as meaning something other than religious and/or ecclesiastical purposes, and then reference your own definition to prove your claim.

    I believe that’s called “begging the question.”

  • The only point we agree on is more transparency is needed. If they were not hiding how wealthy they are and how little they do, they would be shouting it from the rooftops. The Church uses a weasel word as evidence they use tithing. That does not rise to a high enough standard considering what they have said and done elsewhere.They pale in comparison not only to other institutions but there are wealthy individuals who donate more. The final point is that Apostles benefit from their position. Homes are given to them and they create wealth from their position. BKP was a poor Church employee when he was called and had a very nice legacy to give his family as one example.Mormon Disclosures.com goes into depth on this if you want to seek truth. This could well be said of current leaders- “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

  • “The Church uses a weasel word as evidence they use tithing.” Why, other than your own prejudices, do you think the Church is using weasel words to describe the relationship between tithing and welfare? The word “supporting?” Here’s what else the Church says tithing is used for: “Supporting the Church’s worldwide missionary program.” Do you really think that the Church chose the word “supporting” to mislead the public into thinking it spends more tithing on the missionary program than it does?

    What has the Church said and done elsewhere? The Church welfare program is huge. This $40 million figure that gets thrown around is for a sub-category of charitable spending. (http://www.timesandseasons.org/harchive/2012/07/business-weeks-erroneous-claim-about-lds-charitable-giving/ See also: https://mormonamerican.com/2012/07/23/the-charity-of-the-lds-church/ ) The Church also donates upwards of millions of dollars without making a big to-do about it. (E.g. https://www.utahfoodbank.org/docs/AR%202009.pdf ) What are the exact figures? You’re right, I don’t know, but neither do you. But the following statistics give a sense for the scope of the program:

    Employment and training placements 28,073
    Total number of:
    Storehouses 136
    Home storage centers 101
    Farm projects 51
    Food and commodity processing facilities 12
    Storage and distribution facilities 35
    Employment resource centers 115
    Deseret Industries thrift stores 42
    LDS Family Services offices 82

    Most general authorities enter full-time church service well into their careers. For every Elder Packer, there’s an Elder Ballard, Elder Uchtdorf, or Elder Rasband. None of those men are better off financially for having accepted church service.

  • Teaching people how not to starve, how not to be addicted, how to keep
    marriages in tact, how to get jobs, how to help refugees, how to be
    forgiving, how to avoid wars, how to be healthy, how to raise families,
    how to be good citizens, how to lead, and how to teach is not “real”
    charity.

    Since none of your leadership receives any training in any of the categories I’m not sure there is any qualification to cover many of those areas, and if it relies on the members who are qualified then whether or not those things are available or even helpful would vary from place to place. I also don’t count money “donated” through tithing as giving. All collected tithing goes to SLC and is doled back to the local church as it sees fit. I feel the same about time spent volunteering, much of the time spent volunteering in the LDS church is directly related to maintaining and running the church or if not that furthering the missionary goals of the church. English lessons ya we have some here is our BoM and some missionary tracts in English for you.

  • Not only do they need your tithe for this but they need your time, the LDS church makes seniors pay for the privilege of providing their professional skills to the for profit enterprises the church operates.

  • define charity as meaning something other than religious and/or ecclesiastical purposes,

    I don’t see where Christ included religious or ecclesiastical purposes. That is what it is, supporting your church, which is no more praiseworthy than supporting your communities infrastructure.

  • In Mormonism one cannot attain the greatest glory in part without agreeing to pay the church

    Even the Catholic churches “selling of indulgences” didn’t do that, it wasn’t pay to get in, it was pay cash now rather than suffering later in purgatory.

  • And without transparency we just have the churches word that any of it goes there. I don’t trust religions, they have over and over proved themselves unworthy of trust, and if they insist on being secretive, I simply do not believe what they say.

  • Same study which incorrectly equates donation and tithing to a church with charity. As discussed by others here already, most money donated to churches go towards upkeep of the church, not helping the needy.

    Conservative politicians are more likely to vote to cut money going to the needy, have cut veteran benefits, even voted to create greater dangers of food anxiety for poor children.

    Check your facts well.

  • Surpluses are sent to Salt Lake and redistributed to other units, but each Stake’s fund is based on its own fast offerings.

  • Your analogy with missionary work makes my point very well. We currently have 75,oo missionaries in the field. They are paying their way with help from family or people who contribute to the missionary fund over and above the 10%membership fee. Hiw does tithing support them. It pays for real estate in a nice building in Provo and helps those who usually need it the least-Mission Presidents. It gives them upscale homes, cars, pays college for his children, and so on. In return these hard working missionaries bring in new tithe payers for the Corporation. Huge return on its investment. Same thing with humanitarian. They build Deseret Industries and then get the poor and under employed to work and make money for the Corporation and call it humanitarian service. You mention the 40 million per year. That pales in comparison to other groups give and even single individuals donate more than our ENTIRE Corporation that we belong to. That is despicable and I doubt the way Jesus would do things.Members in Utah pat themselves on the back how generous they are while stepping over the homeless to go shopping at City Creek Mall owned by the Corporation.

  • The data is pretty easy to find on the internet. I just typed “Utah teen suicide rate” into Bing and got pages of references. The biggest obstacle in connecting the statistical dots between Utah’s very high teen suicide rate and the rate of LGBT Mormon youth suicide, of course, is the Church. Why the Church blocks access to that info is anyone’s guess and a lot of people’s worst fear.

  • Great, now we’ve wandered into territory where I actually do know the numbers because I’ve seen the books. I was financial clerk on my mission. My mission president had a very hands-off approach, and I took my job very seriously. And I’ll tell you that the myth is that missionaries pay their own way. There are three major funds that a mission draws from: two from tithing, which I will call the Administrative Fund and the President’s Fund, and a third, which I will call the Missionary Support Fund, from donations missionaries make to “pay for their own mission.” The amount missionaries pay only covers their actual per-missionary costs from the Missionary Support Fund if they are serving in a lower-cost mission than where they serve from. In my mission, most missionaries’ contribution did not match their costs. That fund was used for specific things: rent, food, in-mission transportation, certain preparation day activities, etc. The Administrative Fund pays for things like rent for the mission office, the mission home (which may or may not be the same building), teaching materials, mail, office expenses, missionary health expenses, emergencies, transfer expenses, and a whole slew of other categories. The mission home, contrary to the belief of some, is not some lavish mansion only for the mission president’s private use, but is a nice but not lavish home in which missionaries, counselors to the mission president, and various district presidents are constantly in and out of. These expenses were considerable, representing about half of the Missionary Support Fund.

    I did not regularly work with the Mission President’s Fund, but I was familiar with his lifestyle. The “perks” of being a mission president are about on par with the perks of being on assignment for the state department internationally (which I’m also familiar with). From a purely material perspective, my mission president saw an upgrade by becoming mission president, but that is rare, as the president before him had to give up living in a luxurious house to live in a large-ish condo. But even my president, who came from a pretty humble background, would have been the first to tell you he’d rather be back in his home where he would have actual free time and wouldn’t have people constantly coming in and out of his house.

    As for the return on investment claim, that is ridiculous. The church is growing fastest in South America, Central America and Africa. The tithes from the members in these countries don’t even cover the cost of the buildings they meet in. (Again, I worked closely with a district president on my mission while the district was getting a new building. Because of some legal quirks, the district president was required to sign paperwork that had most of the building’s costs on it. He already knew that the members in his area depended financially on tithes from members in other countries, but he was surprised at how much.) From a financial perspective, the ROI is terrible. But that’s not the Church’s goal.

    I don’t think you understand what the goal is of thrift stores like Deseret Industries, Goodwill, etc. Hiring the poor and under employed is the point. Unlike the mission stuff, I haven’t seen the books for DI, but it is closely attached to Employment Resource Services (which, incidentally has zero revenue and considerable costs), and I have some experience with the business side of ERS. Based on commentary from those in the Welfare Department who are in the know, the thrift stores cover their operating expenses in a good month, but struggle to break even. This is not considering costs of construction and the salaried Church employees who run the program and are not welfare recipients.

    I mentioned the 40 million, but you apparently didn’t read a single resource I sent you (on a side note, I tried reading yours, but what I saw was the ranting of a disaffected member that pretty much echoed the usual ex-mormon talking points). That number pales in comparison to some groups with different missions, for sure. Back in 2012 there was a big to-do about that number, with some comparing it to the national Methodist organization, which supposedly spent 27% of its budget on international humanitarian aid. That seems impressive compared to the LDS Church’s .7% (which was derived from a lot of guesses). Of course, the Methodists are decentralized, so building maintenance and other costs aren’t a consideration. When, instead of looking at giving as a percent of budget, but giving on a per-member basis, the LDS Church actually gave more in humanitarian aid. And again, that’s just one sub-category of charitable work and giving. But it shouldn’t be any surprise or any source of shame that tithing is split among various parts of the Church’s mission: preaching the gospel (spent on the missionary program), perfecting the saints (church buildings and programs like CES), redeeming the dead (temples), and caring for the poor and needy (welfare and humanitarian aid).

    “Members in Utah pat themselves on the back how generous they are while stepping over the homeless to go shopping at City Creek Mall owned by the Corporation.” What a needlessly cynical comment. The Fast Offering program prevents homelessness (by paying people’s rents). I don’t think Mormons, who donate monthly to a program designed to keep people fed and sheltered, should be called out for some kind of special shame.

    As for what would Jesus do? Well, he did say “If thou wilt be perfect … give to the poor” (Matt. 19:21); but he also said “[Y]e have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good; but me ye have not always.” People saying the Church spends too much on temples sound kind of like Judas complaining that the ointment could have been sold and money given to the poor. So maybe temples, church buildings, etc. aren’t so bad after all.

  • Let me address some of your points. When I served my mission, I payed 100% of my cost along with my family.The Church did not pay one dime. It sounds like the system may be slightly different so I can’t comment on that. In terms of mission presidents they are well compensated as essentially Here is a list of just some perks-1 Medical expenses, including dental and eye care, though not orthodontics (except in specific cases) and cosmetic surgery (unless covered by the insurance provider);

    2 Rent (usually quite upscale);

    3 Living expenses proper, including utilities, food, household supplies, dry cleaning, phones, internet, dry cleaning, etc.;

    4 One official car, with maintenance and gas;

    5 One second official car for the wife, with maintenance and gas;

    6 Clothing for the mission president and his family;

    7 “Family activities” (unspecified, possibly purposefully vague);

    8 Long-distance personal phone calls;

    9 One round trip for each unmarried child under 26 to visit the parents out in the mission field;

    10 “Modest gifts (for example, Christmas, birthdays, or anniversary)”;

    11 Support for children serving full-time missions;

    12 Elementary and secondary school expenses (including tuition, usually in upscale private schools, including fees, books, and materials);

    13 Extra-curricular activities for the children, such as music lessons, dance lessons, sports, etc.;

    14 Undergraduate tuition at an accredited college or university (tuition cap at BYU’s rate, tuition waived at Church-owned schools);
    You mention the website I gave you to read. You are employing a logical fallacy by attacking the person instead of the information. I am not attacking you even though you are clearly on the apologetic side.
    I am very familiar with Deseret Industries and those people who work there rarely improve their lot in life through that program.
    The Church contributes such a small amount compared to what they take in but you seem to keep arguing that point. We will have to agree to disagree.
    People who complain about temples are not Judas but instead showing how the Church is a whited sepulcher full of dead mens bones.

  • Well you keep knocking on my door, pestering my children f(or Mormons specifically), and the general conniving people out of money that religion is wont to do, pay your tithing before rent and groceries, send us money for this miraculous prayer rug, it’s all the same.

  • I’m familiar with all of those benefits provided to mission presidents. All of that seems totally reasonable to provide someone who has been asked to give up their career for three years, often at a time they don’t expect it. Those benefits are comparable to those serving the government in the foreign service, who volunteer and plan their lives around it.

    I mentioned the website to point out that I didn’t find anything relevant to our discussion here. I don’t care who wrote it. The message is unoriginal and flawed.

    I personally know at least three people who have gotten back up on their feet by getting their start at DI. The program doesn’t work perfectly, but it works.

    You said that tithing money does not go to charity. This plainly false. The hundreds of facilities on the welfare program fact sheet I cited earlier are operated with tithes. I rebutted your argument with facts. You responded by changing the subject and denying without evidence. We may agree to disagree, but I will have done so with facts on my side.

  • This from the article says it all: “…in Mormonism, the knowledge that only a full tithe can grant a member access to the LDS temple — help to create a culture of givers, says Smith.”

    Saying “pay up or you’ll never see your family in the hereafter” is far less of a “culture of giving” than it is simple extortion.

    And I’m betting Mormons include in their “volunteer time” the time spent counting receipts each Sunday in the financial clerk’s office before the money is driven to the bank for deposit directly to “The Corporation of the President.”

  • Thanks for the discussion. This will be my last post so you are welcome to a final response.You continue to pretend your position is supported by facts and mine is not which clearly is incorrect. Tithing has created wealth for the Corporation which resembles a Church in some ways. We could get into an extensive conversation about welfare services and I could show you how ineffective it truely is. Your mention of 3 examples does not refute that. In conclusion, let me state the overall point that neither Utah members or the Corporation are the most charitable in fact many individuals have given more than the entire Corporation to humanitarian purposes. Tithing is spent on paid clergy(mission Presidents, GA’s), building up business investments, expensive temples, etc. The fact are that it does not resemble The True Church. And that my friend is the fact!

  • “You continue to pretend your position is supported by facts and mine is not which clearly is incorrect.” It would be easier to evaluate that statement if you provided any facts. Let’s recap:

    You said “The second thing is they are talking about paying tithing which according to the Church does not go to charity.” This is clearly false, as I demonstrated with facts. First the “according to the church bit” is easily debunked because the church says that tithing supports the welfare program. When confronted with that fact, you claimed–without evidence–that the Church used weasel words to gloss over a small amount of spending in that area. I rebutted that claim with the following statistics (ie facts):

    Employment and training placements 28,073
    Total number of:
    Storehouses 136
    Home storage centers 101
    Farm projects 51
    Food and commodity processing facilities 12
    Storage and distribution facilities 35
    Employment resource centers 115
    Deseret Industries thrift stores 42
    LDS Family Services offices 82

    So, when confronted with these facts, you moved the goal posts again and claimed that these programs are not effective. You have not provided any facts to support that claim.

    You also changed the subject to money used to support certain church leaders, which is a total red herring in this discussion. You ignore the fact that in most religious organizations, a higher proportion of donations (across the denomination) goes to support clergy (since the LDS has no paid clergy at a local level), so I don’t understand how that makes the LDS Church some uniquely terrible, greedy organization. Maybe you think all religious organizations are terrible because some portion of donations go to support people working for the organization. Context would help. The president of the Red Cross makes half a million dollars a year (per Charity Navigator). The American Cancer Society: more than two million; United Way: more than a million. So, you know, when you see that the Church compensates people who work full time by paying some of their expenses, keep that context (you know, facts) in mind. If you have evidence that senior church officials are socking away millions or even hundreds of thousands from church coffers, provide it. Otherwise, it makes a real good point that greater transparency would be appreciated, but provides no evidence of corruption, malfeasance, or even over-compensation.

    “The fact are that it does not resemble The True Church. And that my friend is the fact!” No, that my friend is a conclusion. A fact is something like a number, an incident, a sequence of events, etc. Most of your “facts” have actually been conclusions like the one you just made, have been inaccurate (e.g. tithing is not used for welfare) or has been irrelevant (e.g. general authorities are supported financially by tithes).

    The truth is (although not a “fact”) that the Church is unique in the way it manages funds, but it also manages a massive operation. Funds are used to support its mission of bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world and helping its members become more Christlike. I and millions of people like me are better off because of the Church’s efforts.

  • The claims you make are misleading. You want home teaching to count as charity. 98% is reading a message to someone who does not want to hear it. That is not charity. I was busy with my Church calling but finally read those two articles. They are clearly slanted and do not have inside info.They are giving their opinion. In your own words, they are :unoriginal”. It looks like a small percentage of tithing may benefit others but such a paltry amount. You have never refuted that individuals and other groups give the same and more as mormons. In terms of Utah, they want to count their church service as charity. Only in mormonland would that pass as real charity.There is nothing that Utah does that other states do as well. As a whole, the Church spends a great deal of money on business which has nothing to do with charity and they could use that to really benefit the less fortunate. They choose not to. They do benefit the apsotles which you love to defend. We have apostels who were not wealthy before becoming GA’s with 10,000 watches.

  • Have you ever heard of “source checking?” Waving a hand at a page of search results provides nothing. Actually looking into the claims discloses that the claimed numbers are fabricated, since the number of claimed suicides exceeds the total deaths in that age group.

    Are you really gullible enough to believe that more gay teenagers are committing suicide than the total number of teenagers who die?

    And how does the Church “block access to that info?” Is this some kind of conspiracy theory? Does your tinfoil hat need adjusting?

  • Nor is it any less praiseworthy than supporting my community’s infrastructure.

    Except in the minds of anti-religious bigots, of course.

  • “It looks like a small percentage of tithing may benefit others but such a paltry amount.” And here you are “giving your opinion.” Faced with the evidence in those two articles and without providing evidence of your own (which you have not done) at best you can say “we don’t know.” And if you had said that, I would have agreed and we could have gone on our merry way.

    Again, I don’t mind that the church holds some business entities. These are investments that allow the church to continue its mission even in tough economic times. And I’m not sure what the problem is since tithing money is not used for these purposes. They are outgrowths of a time when the Church was Utah’s infrastructure.

    “We have apostels who were not wealthy before becoming GA’s with 10,000 watches.” This seems to be a specific reference to something, but you provide no context. No idea what you’re talking about.

    “You have never refuted that individuals and other groups give the same and more as mormons.” You’re right. I haven’t. I don’t have the data. Neither do you. But I never made the opposing argument to begin with. I have only argued against your assertion that tithing money is not used for charitable purposes. I have also argued that charitable giving by the Church, including investment in the Church’s welfare program, has made a significant impact.

  • Mike: “Homes are given to them”
    Are they? I call BS on that one. The Church owns an apartment for the President, but the other apostles live in the homes they bought while working in their chosen careers. (NB: Apostle is not a career choice. All of them had other careers before they were shoulder-tapped for full time Church service.) Boyd K. Packer bought his house while a CES employee, and left his family that same house when he died decades later. Granted that it was worth more when he died than it was when he bought it, but that’s what real estate does. My own house has tripled in value over the last 15 years, and I’m not a GA.

    Fancy that!

  • “Drivel” and “nonsense”. Stinging rebuttals, no doubt. Perhaps you could call me a poopyhead, too. That would surely send me packing. 🙂

    Having been a ticket punching Mormon for fifty plus years, and knowing the disclaimer located at the bottom of the church’s tithing slip, no member can say with any certainty how much tithing goes to truly charitable purposes. Giving to the church does not equal giving to charity. Go visit the great and spacious building otherwise known as City Creek Mall. This is especially so since the church has refused since around 1959 to disclose its finances in any meaningful way. The church in 1959 was in serious financial difficulty due to overspending caused in part by another apostle, Henry Moyle. It “called” Eldon Tanner because of his business acumen. I refuse to use the absurd middle names and initials that hallmark LDS officialdom. Source: https://www.sunstonemagazine.com/pdf/102-17-29.pdf

  • “You want home teaching to count as charity. 98% is reading a message to someone who does not want to hear it. That is not charity.”

    That’s not how I do home teaching. That’s not how the Church teaches its members to do home teaching. Go read Elder Holland’s talk from General Conference.

  • I know you want to paint the church in the best light possible to make your point.The objective truth is that is how home teaching is done. I have seen it time and again. It cannot be described as charity in any sense except by folks such as yourself.
    The church is welcome to operate as a business instead of how Christ did thing but that is not charity. All that wealth could help people. I don’t see Jesus owning and operating international business. He was too busy actually engaging in charity.

  • I know you apparently have some misguided mission to paint the church in the worst light possible, but your experience is not universal. When you say things like “objective truth” you’re just projecting your experience onto others. Your own perception is definitely not objective, and I don’t believe it is truth. The home teaching program helps ensure that people have someone to turn to when they need a hand, whether that’s fixing something broken in the house, finding referrals for jobs, or in a dramatic case that I witnessed as a junior home teaching companion when I was 16, getting people out of abusive relationships. Even just a monthly message helps people feel like they are part of a community and strengthens social ties. So yes, I whole heartedly believe that the home teaching program improves people’s lives. Whether that is “charity” is an open question that depends on your definition of charity. You’ll notice I haven’t made the claim that it is because I want to avoid the messy issue of what does or doesn’t count as charity.

    Do you really think that Jesus was spending all of his time giving money to the poor? Because I can’t find a single instance of that in the New Testament (even though the apostles apparently had some operational funds, which Judas apparently had responsibility for).. Jesus did, of course, spend some time feeding people (although I don’t know whether we have evidence that these people were chronically hungry). He also healed the sick. Most of the New Testament depicts two things from Jesus’ life: teachings and miracles. As I said before, the church has a mission with four areas of emphasis, and all of those are exemplified in Jesus’ life and death. Jesus traveled around teaching His gospel. The Church today carries on this mission through its missionary program and all manner of programs and activities meant to teach the gospel to its members. Jesus commissioned His apostles to do the same (Matthew 28:16-20). Jesus preached the gospel to those who are dead, enabling the Church to do its part to perform saving ordinances on behalf of those people in the temple. So, I think temples are a crucial part of the Church’s mission. I’m not bothered by the fact that these are nice buildings designed to both praise God and convey to the worshipper some of the grandeur of God (although I have to admit that the big Catholic cathedrals I have been in are even more effective in that regard). Apparently Jesus wasn’t bothered by it either because he thought the temple was important enough to cleanse it (Matthew 21). That building was also large and built with fine materials (for its time, much more opulent than modern LDS temples). And yes, the Church also carries on its mandate to care for the poor and needy through its welfare program, both by teaching welfare principles and by providing infrastructure to allow others to do so and by providing physical assistance.

  • Well, since I wasn’t making an argument, but was instead trying to get this guy’s perspective in order to guide the next phase of the discussion (which never materialized) it’s not a fallacy. By definition, a fallacy is committed during an argument.

  • Wow. Someone sure did not have their food storage oatmeal and Postum for breakfast. Nice batch of unfounded accusations as cover for a complete lack of substance. How about reading and fact-checking some of those references yourself, or do you only read what the Church tells you to? As for asserting any set of numbers over any others, that would be you falsely accusing me of such. LGBT Mormon teen suicides are estimated to be 40% or more of the total in Utah, according to one such source, but we can’t be sure, since the Church does it’s best to block exact numbers. That extrapolation is based on the fact that LGBT teen suicides account for about 40% of teen suicides nationwide. Some groups claim the numbers among Mormons are much higher, but again, who can say since the Church doesn’t like access to LGBT numbers, LGBT teen numbers or LDS suicide numbers. Elder Bednar once went so far as to ridiculously claim that there are no LGBT in the Mormon Church., putting himself on the same page as the jihadist President of Iran.

  • It looks like you are finally conceding home teaching is not charity. You like to present your personal experience which is irrelevant since the position you take is not the typical. Same with Hollands talk. You referenced the Jewish temple built on the backs of an oppressed people by Herod and want me to think Jesus approved of that.You make me doubt you know your history with that one.
    You mention how Jesus was poor so He did not give a lot of money away. Unlike the leaders we have who live off the widows mite, He did not. He told the rich young man to sell all he had. Our leaders do not do that. He also did not build up a worldly business kingdom. He said my kingdom is not of this world. Our leaders look to build up themselves and a business empire.
    Now back to charity. I have no problem attending the temple but in no way do I pretend I am engaging in charity while I do it. In no way does it help poor people here on earth.In fact the temple does not have to be expensive or even necessary. Do you know our early history in this regard? Jesus blessed the lives of others in a very real way which is charity. By any objective measure, Utah is in no way the most charitable state or mormons the best in this area. As I said, we have too many examples of others doing more and doing it better. We are just one of many.

  • “It looks like you are finally conceding home teaching is not charity.” I never argued that home teaching is always charity. I brought up home teaching originally only to say that it wasn’t “problematic” (whatever you meant by that).

    “You like to present your personal experience which is irrelevant since the position you take is not the typical.” In the exact same breath that you make a valid point (that a single person’s experience is not data) you contradict yourself by claiming your own experience as objective truth. You have given no reason for anyone to believe that your experience is more typical than mine. Home teaching can, should be, and often is an act of Christlike service. If your own experience is otherwise, might I suggest the problem lies with you.

    “You referenced the Jewish temple built on the backs of an oppressed people by Herod and want me to think Jesus approved of that.” I don’t care what you think. But Matthew 21:12-13 makes it pretty clear that Jesus considered it the House of God (“And Jesus went into the temple of God … It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer”). Rather than dismiss the idea outright, why don’t you provide some scriptural evidence that contradicts my viewpoint?

    You seem to be under the impression that tithes pay for Apostles’ houses. They do not. President Hinckley said “I should like to add, parenthetically for your information, that the living allowances given the General Authorities, which are very modest in comparison with executive compensation in industry and the professions, come from this business income and not from the tithing of the people.”

    “I have no problem attending the temple but in no way do I pretend I am engaging in charity while I do it.” I don’t think anyone here has made the claim that it does.

    “By any objective measure, Utah is in no way the most charitable state or mormons the best in this area.” By any objective measure? This study is the best attempt at an objective measure that I have seen. Yes, the study has its issues that might prevent broad conclusions to be drawn from it. But even with that in mind, the same questions would have captured church service and contributions to churches in other states and among other groups of people. Unless you have evidence that Mormons are less charitable, the best you can say is that we don’t know if Mormons or Utahns really are more “charitable” than other groups. Lack of evidence is not evidence of lack.

  • No, “actual Charity” is work that actually helps people with real needs like food, clothing, shelter, etc. Yes, that does include teaching them to get these, and teaching is included in the above data, showing that the LDS church is not in any way a “charity”. I provided a source, yet you claim “90%” without a source. Unless you provide a link to back up your claim, then it will be reasonable to conclude that you simply made it up.

  • If one looks at basically any authoritative definition of charity, it is not exclusive to the poor, homeless, etc. as some of these comments might otherwise suggest. It’s interesting to me that many who are either completely disaffiliated, or at least somewhat disaffected, with the Church are so quick to discount so much of what the Church and its members do. I have my own list of grievances with the Church, some of which I have forcefully expressed in the comments section on this blog. But I still recognize the never-ending charitable nature of its most faithful adherents.
    My wife went into early labor this last Friday. One member immediately took my other young kids while I took my wife to the hospital. Another member kept them overnight while the doctors worked (successfully, thankfully) to stop why wife’s contractions. We received texts from other members offering any help they could give. A family of members was at our house cleaning when we got home Saturday. One of the visiting teachers brought over freezer meals. And while I type this comment, I am eating the leftovers of last night’s dinner brought over from the Bishop’s wife.
    If any of you don’t think this meets the definition of charity, you and I strongly disagree. If any of you don’t recognize this as a typical response from Mormons, you and I strongly disagree. And if any of you argue this type of overwhelming, loving response has nothing to do with the countless hours Mormons give preparing, teaching, leading, and serving in the Church (ie. “just doing their calling”) you really have no idea what you are talking about.

  • You keep waffling back and forth on home teaching. Slippery little one. arent you? My experience regarding home teaching trumps your because my experience reflects reality and what is common knowledge among members. I am not even sure your experiences are real but assuming they are, they reflect what it could be not what it is. Therefore in no way does 98% of home teaching qualify as humanitarian service.
    I never said tithing paid for every home owned by apostles. I said I know of specific examples and in other cases they benefited by becoming wealthy from their positions. I even cited a scripture about Jesus telling the rich young man to sell all he had and give it to the poor. Our leaders do the opposite of that.
    You mention the well known quote from Hinckley. I hated to see that misleading quote by him which was quite deceptive and designed to fool the main stream member such as yourself. Look at the mission presidents compensation. Apostles get free cars every two years and so on. I will take that compensation any day of the week and many members would see their income go up, not down.
    In terms of the overall point, the Church averaged 40 million per year for a 25 year period and took in roughly 200 billion. Any objective person would see that as peanuts. That is what makes the temple spending look so bad. If you knew history you would know the story of Herods temple. In fact Jesus told of its destruction.In any case, it was a jewish temple not a mormon temple.Did you think otherwise?
    The final point is one pointed out by someone else. Maybe it was not the utah members who are generous. Maybe they are so stingy the non members in the state were appalled at the uncharitable behavior and they are the ones who proved humanitarian service.Just a thought!

  • “You keep waffling back and forth on home teaching.” You’re welcome to point out some inconsistent position I’ve taken. Until then, your statement is meaningless.

    “My experience regarding home teaching trumps your because my experience reflects reality.” In other words, you are right because you are right. Look up “begging the question” since you seem to be fond of pointing out fallacies (even when none have been committed).

    “Therefore in no way does 98% of home teaching qualify as humanitarian service.” You have a habit of rebutting claims I never made.

    Re GA Compensation: Sources, please. I’m sure mission presidents are supported by tithing, but that says nothing about GAs. Where do you get the cars every two years? Exactly how is President Hinckley’s quote deceptive?

    “In terms of the overall point, the Church averaged 40 million per year for a 25 year period and took in roughly 200 billion.” I have repeatedly pointed you to sources that demonstrate this figure is at best misleading. In light of that, your statement is meaningless until you put up some evidence that rebuts those sources.

    I know the story of the Temple of Herrod. That doesn’t rebut the scripture indicating that Jesus considered it God’s house. Furthermore, if you look back to the Old Testament, we have the Lord commanding the people to build first a tabernacle and then a temple with fine materials.

    Re charitable giving generally: so you’re conceding that we just don’t know who gives most? Because if you are, we can end that discussion because we will agree.

  • I thought I was clear that you are inconsistent how home teaching is humanitarian service and then it is not.
    I gave you a scripture you have yet to refute. Until then, you need to do more research on our Church. You didn’t even know they get new cars.

  • Wow. I’m going to have to do all the work for you. Here is every statement I have made in this thread on Home Teaching:

    “But I don’t understand why Mormons giving in terms of church service is “problematic.” Home teaching, for instance, would be included in this. I don’t see how visiting people to make sure they are doing all right and helping them out is somehow “problematic.””

    “That’s not how I do home teaching. That’s not how the Church teaches its members to do home teaching. Go read Elder Holland’s talk from General Conference.”

    [After extolling the virtues of home teaching by general example] “So yes, I whole heartedly believe that the home teaching program improves people’s lives. Whether that is “charity” is an open question that depends on your definition of charity. You’ll notice I haven’t made the claim that it is because I want to avoid the messy issue of what does or doesn’t count as charity.”

    “I never argued that home teaching is always charity. I brought up home teaching originally only to say that it wasn’t “problematic” (whatever you meant by that)…Home teaching can, should be, and often is an act of Christlike service. If your own experience is otherwise, might I suggest the problem lies with you.”

    So, please, go ahead and point out which two of those statements contradict each other.

    “I gave you a scripture you have yet to refute.” You actually have neither quoted nor cited a single scripture. You have paraphrased, so I’ll work with that. “He told the rich young man to sell all he had.” Yes, but I don’t see what this has to do with temples. Doesn’t change the fact that God commanded His people to build a temple and that Jesus cleansed it, an apparent act of approval of the sacred nature of the temple. “He said my kingdom is not of this world.” LDS temples are built specifically to benefit those who are “not of this world.” So you’ll forgive me for not having much to refute.

    “You didn’t even know they get new cars.” Source, please. I have searched for evidence of this and have so far only found that some anonymous commenter on the Internet heard from his cousin’s gardner’s neighbor. If you don’t have a source, just admit it.

  • Through the Mormon church my family and I have so far this year have donated tens of thousands in tithing, thousands in fast offerings to the poor, and devoted hundreds of hours to the primary and the boy scouts. Through the Church this year, we have also participated in a two major food drives, a used toy drive, a used book drive, and even sponsored a family for “Sub for Santa.” We have also given hundreds of dollars to Friends of Scouting, helped sponsor two refugee families from the Middle East and Africa, and donated winter clothing to a family in need where the single-parent father and his kids lost his job and went through a divorce. We have also made at least 3 donation runs to the DI this year — donating gently used items such as blankets, clothing, furniture, bedding, etc. My kids through the young mens/womens program have also fed the homeless, made quilts, cleaned trails, and participated in numerous other service projects throughout the year.

    I have a god job that pays well, but I am far from a wealthy man. I find it hard to find another institution more worthy of my time and effort. The LDS Church gives me and my families opportunities to live a life of giving that would otherwise be very difficult for us to replicate outside of the Church.

  • The scripture is Mark 10:17-30. I figured you knew where it was. There are a few sources for the cars. One is a book titled The Book of Mammon.

  • “The scripture is Mark 10:17-30” What does this have to do with temples? I can see what it has to do with your criticism of Church leadership not living as paupers, but what does it have to do with temples? How does it rebut the notion that the Lord commanded His people to build a tabernacle (Exodus 25 et seq.), approved the finely built Temple of Solomon (Kings 8), and considered the Second Temple sacred enough to cleanse it and claim it as His House (Matthew 21)?

    And for this next part, you’re kidding me, right? Daymon Smith has acknowledged (and advertised) that The Book of Mammon, while based on some factual information, is fictional. You’ll have to point me to a source that doesn’t openly acknowledge that it has embellished facts.

  • The source is accurate. read it and then you can comment on it with knowledge not as an apologist. I dont accept criticsm based on ignorance. Here is an article that shows need in Utah. Where is all this humanitarian service. Demonstrate members solving this SPECIFIC real problem and then we will talk. Now get to work and you get to help people while proving your point. bhttp://www.sltrib.com/news/4655667-155/despite-more-people-living-on-the

  • “The source is accurate.” No, it’s not. “It’s is a compelling,light-hearted but serious memoir, sometimes fictional ethnography.” I’ve previously spent some time trying to get through its poorly conceived writing style that meshes different genres, but because i found that style off-putting and the author makes no distinction between fact and fiction, I decided it wasn’t worth my time. But again, the Book of Mammon makes no attempt to. verify its own facts and sometimes out and out makes them up to move a narrative along. But here, why don’t you quote the passage of the book (or provide a page citation) that supports your claim and we can figure it out together? Or why don’t you cite one of the apparently numerous other sources and we can discuss that?

    Interesting that The Road Home features in that article. I have financially supported them for a few years now. They do good work. Guess who else donates (quietly) to that organization? The Church. https://www.theroadhome.org/about/annual-reports/thank-you-to-our-donors/

  • Apostles getting new cars every couple years must be a shelf breaker for you. Otherwise why work so hard to deny it? You did not mention the article which gets us back to the core discussion. Here is an article in one of the major papers in the state outlining a humanitarian problem. If utah members are the best in this area we should read in a few days a big article how these generous members read the article, organized and solved this specific problem. if not, then everything you have claimed is bunk. Let me know when the article comes out.

  • “Apostles getting new cars every couple years must be a shelf breaker for you.” No, not at all. They spend a great deal of their time on Church business, and so it would not be unrealistic for the Church to provide transportation. That’s not what’s at issue here. What is at issue is that you have repeatedly made claims with no evidence to back it up. This is a prime example. When first challenged, you responded indignantly (“you didn’t even know the apostles got new cars”). Then when pushed further, you cited vaguely to a source that is admittedly partly fictitious. Whatever vehicle arrangements general authorities have with the Church requires context, of which you have provided zero (you haven’t even provided proof that there is even a nugget of truth in there). You made the claim, that means the burden of evidence is on you.

    “Here is an article in one of the major papers in the state outlining a humanitarian problem. If utah members are the best in this area we should read in a few days a big article how these generous members read the article, organized and solved this specific problem…” This is a good example of a fallacy known as “special pleading.” You are holding Mormons to a standard that you don’t hold others to. What is especially remarkable is that the problem is a problem with Salt Lake City, which, aside from a few other pockets in the state, is the least Mormon city in Utah. But you have, according to the article, a mostly Mormon city council petitioning the non-Mormon mayor to find a solution. Now, I don’t personally think that religion has much to do with this particular issue, but to the extent that it does, it seems to cut against your argument.

    “if not, then everything you have claimed is bunk.” You, once again, seem to be arguing against claims I never made. I have never claimed that Mormons are the most generous group. I don’t have the data on that, and neither do you. I have argued that home teaching is useful and a worthy endeavor, that the Church gives more financially than your erroneous But even if I had claimed that Mormons are the most wonderful generous people in America, failure to solve homelessness overnight would not disprove the point. It’s a big problem, and it needs all of our attention.

    “You did not mention…” Glad you think that every point needs to be answered (although I did in fact mention the article, which I had to go to an extra effort to read because you posted a faulty link–all of the Road Home business, remember?–did you read the article?) Here is a non-exhaustive list of things you have left unanswered in this discussion:

    -Evidence that your take on home teaching is more accurate than mine
    -Scriptures indicating God’s disapproval of temple building
    -Where I have made inconsistent comments regarding home teaching
    -Anything that would rebut the two articles I cited demonstrating that the $40 million per year charity figure is at best misleading

  • Discussion over. You dont claim Utah is the best at humanitarian services and leads the nation? That was the point of the original discussion. I win! If an article appears in the Tribune showing the members responded to this specific example then we can talk again.

  • You’re kidding me right? You don’t know how to respond, so you just declare yourself the winner and walk away? I’m playing chess with a pigeon!

    Man, it’s not my fault you can’t read for comprehension. I never made the argument you claim to have won. This whole thing started because I criticized your faulty argument that Mormons are selfish people who never give to real charity, and your bogus argument that no church service “counts” as charity. You created the false dichotomy that I must be arguing that Mormons are the most charitable group. I never claimed that Utah is best and leads the nation under whatever definition of charity you are using. But the study does clearly show that Utah leads the nation in charitable giving under the study’s own terms.

    Why do you get to pick some random social problem, demand that the members solve it, and claim you’ve won your argument when they unsurprisingly don’t solve a problem as old as civilization overnight? This is a false dilemma fallacy again. Either Mormons solve homelessness or they are uncharitable. Mormons could be the most charitable group on the planet and this particular problem could still rage on. You just want to ignore other areas where Mormons are giving, such as giving in aid to refugees.

    Since apparently we get to set our own terms of victory, I’ll note your continued refusal to address the issues I cited in my last post and claim victory for myself! Good debate, but not great. I wish you had brought more to the table.

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