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January 28, 2020 8:00 pm
.1 Mormonism examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a viewpoint when Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism so glad to be with us for this additional viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry and with me today is Eric Johnson.
My colleague at MRM for the past couple of days we been going over an article that was first published in the Washington Post and then carried by a number of news agencies.
The title in the Washington Post said Mormon church has misled members on $100 billion tax exempt investment fund whistleblower alleges the whistleblower was a guy by the name of David a Nielsen time the article was written was a 41-year-old Mormon who worked until September as a senior portfolio manager at the church's investment division company named & peak advisors that is based near the church. Headquartered in downtown Salt Lake City and if you cut the recent shows. We went into some of the details of this article cover, but in yesterday show. We really looked at what Mr. Nielsen would like to see happen regarding what he thinks is some mismanagement or even criminal activity regarding the money that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints brings in an puts into this fund. More specifically, the & peak fund in yesterday show I read you this one little paragraph where it says that Nielsen urges the IRS to strip the nonprofit speaking of the oldest church of its tax-exempt status and alleges that & could oh billions in taxes and yesterday I wanted to caution our listeners to be careful about jumping on the emotional bandwagon and in and calling for the tax-exempt status of the church to be revoked and this is why.
First of all you would have to prove that there was in fact some real serious criminal activity going on. I don't think you're going to be able to prove that another thing I know that a lot of people have been hurt by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I know there's a lot of people that are still suffering from their experience from being a member in the LDS church and how because of what they learned about the church they may have left the church and that cause them a lot of family problems, even some social problems. I understand that I get that but just because you've been hurt by the church.
I don't think legitimately calls for the church to be stripped of its tax-exempt status. Unless, of course, as I said, there's been some illegal activity that would warrant such a thing. And that's going to be a pretty difficult challenge to prove it's interesting that we been talking about this and we talked about $100 billion.
The church has in this one account and we're say well that's a lot of money, but what is a lot of money to the IRS. The IRS doesn't give any specifics so because they are staying within the letter of the law. I don't see any reason why that IRS should be able to do anything to find them to tax them on money that was legally obtained and I would agree completely with what you're saying Eric and this is why I really am serious when I caution, especially our Christian listeners to be careful and not go to that kind of a conclusion based on these emotional numbers that are being thrown about through this article, I understand. It sounds like a lot of money but you have to keep in mind it's a large corporation. The church has its tentacles all over the world.
They own millions and millions of dollars worth of property and things like that. It takes a lot to run a corporation like that if you start saying that the church should lose its tax-exempt status over this. You better have a very good case when you have a society such as we have in the United States were more and more people are turning secular and calling for the tax-exempt status to be revoked on all churches. Once you start down that road. You can't even imagine where it could possibly end up to where even your church could be accused of and I've seen this already, I've already seen these kind of complaints being raised by atheists who hate Christianity they hate your faith. This is why I'm saying be careful about this because this is where our country may be going someday. And once you take away the tax-exempt status from the churches. I will guarantee you you will be meeting in the basement of a church member because your building will be gone. Imagine if your church had to pay property tax on its building and property for parking. The church is most of them would probably go out of business within a couple of years to be very careful about this. The tax-exempt status for churches. I think our founding fathers were doing something good for the churches in allowing that to take place. I don't think it was a bad thing at all that I'm again speaking as a Christian and though I do not agree with the theological principles of the LDS church. I think I'm wise enough to know that whatever may be leveled against the church in this kind of arena could someday be leveled against all churches, so we need to be very careful and use evidence in drawing our conclusions not our emotions though. I want to go back to the book Mormon hierarchy that we were talking about yesterday. The book wealth and corporate power written by Dean Michael Quinn, I would say Dean Michael Quinn does his very best to try to be accurate with all of the holdings of churches had over the years for the salaries and all the other things I wouldn't say he's an enemy of the church is no longer a member he was excommunicated, but he considers himself to be at DNA Mormon zealots. The phrases used in the past so but he is at some places and here he seems to try to say all this is okay but he does have some complaints I think we ought cover those complaints.
This is what he writes on page 141 of the book that was published in 2017 by signature books.
He said it is stunning to contemplate that the LDS church is income from all sources has reached tens of billions annually in the 21st century and then he refers to & peak advisors whose which is in the news now and & peak advisors is only one of the LDS organizations established to invest the church's reserve funds let me stop you there.
So what that statement is telling me that even though & peak advisors is in news that's only one entity. There could be other types of investment firms that have hundreds of billions of dollars as well when it comes to the morality of $100 billion. I'm not sure that's where we need to look so much as why the church doesn't tell people about its holdings and so he talks about one number that the church does use is how much is given to humanitarian aid. You can find this on the church website and this is what Quinn writes on page 142. He refers to a gentleman who referred to the official report that the church has spent 1.4 billion for humanitarian aid in 179 countries from 1985 to 2011. So during the period of 1985, 2011 the church gave away not just other non-cash contributions of food, clothing, blankets, and other goods that the LDS welfare services provides for emergency relief, but giving to other countries and helping them out, and it comes out to really not very much money is under 100 million a year over the cow over the course of those 30+ years. Now the number now is 2.2 billion that goes through 2018 so the church is giving about $110 million a year for this kind of aid but when you take a look at sounds like a lot, and it is 110 million but when you take a look at all that the church has and you take a look at other organizations that are charitable frontline organizations.
Let me just give you one that is a church Salvation Army which has fewer than 1/10 of the members of the Mormon church in 2019. They gave $3.7 billion. They gave more money than the church is given since 1985. You have world vision $907 million compassion international 764 million Samaritans purse $603 million.
So you have these different organizations that are doing great work, the church is giving some but it's not as much as maybe some Latter Day Saints may assume because the church doesn't really tell you anything more. It just tells you that they are giving $2.2 billion from 1985 on and Quinn has a complaint about where he says that the church should probably be more transparent with this kind of money so that stories like this will not come across as being so shocking. If the members knew that they had this money in reserve and why it has money like this in reserve. Perhaps more members would be understanding and not so critical.
And this is what he writes on page 142 underneath that, in my judgment, negative reactions would decrease significantly if LDS church headquarters resumed a detailed financial report to each April Gen. conference such annual reporting could show how the billions in profits from the church's commercial investments make possible its worldwide ecclesiastical and humanitarian expenditures. Bill, are we asking too much for the church to lay out its finances as a Southern Baptist denomination does as your church does many churches will layout to the members and tell you okay here's how much work here's how much we are expanding on salaries and the health and the electric and all the different utilities and every member will have a chance to look at those papers.
I don't know of many churches that are going to hide those numbers they want up person who is going to tithe and give to be able to know but the church doesn't give any numbers whatsoever. I think you're right. I know in my church we have a business meeting every year and when I attended a large church in Southern California years ago.
We also had a business meeting every year where those numbers were put forth to the membership and if they had any questions about them. They were free to ask to get their questions answered, and I don't think that would be a huge problem and I in fact I think it probably would be more positive for the church itself in the long run if they did come forth and be more transparent with those numbers and then maybe 100 billion in the inside peaks advisors account would be a shocking, why doesn't the church do this. Quinn quotes from a man name Alan Blodgett and this is what he said. He said it is always puzzled me why the church doesn't tell its own financial story rather than be subjected to the speculations and gases of outsiders in my mind it is a very positive story, of which local church leaders and members could be justifiably proud why then doesn't the church tell us financial story. I can only guess that church leaders fear that individual members may not understand the vastness of church resources and operations and having this information might negatively influence their faithfulness and support of church leaders will bill Knauer seen the fallout because they have not been upfront with their membership. Now how many Latter Day Saints who are listening to us who are faithful but are considering not tithing anymore to their church because it has so much money in this reserve account and I'm going to suggest the church might do better in coming clean, just as it did with its doctrines in 2013 to 2015 when the gospel topics essays came out and they admitted that Joseph Smith had between 30 and 40 wives that he used a seer stone to translate the book of Mormon that the book of Abraham is not a literal translation maybe they could have escaped this fallout by being more honest throughout the years, you raise a good point because I'm sure when that news did come out at the very beginning we know for a fact that it caused a lot of members to be surprised and it caused some members to even leave the church, but now were noticing since that information's been out for a while. It doesn't seem to bother a lot of Latter Day Saints. When they hear about this because the church is been open and upfront. Now I think it still shifted personally. But that's not the way it's worked and you might have a point here and I think we may have a point.
Also, if they were to be more upfront. Maybe this would be a big problem. We certainly wouldn't be talking about it today.
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