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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A breakdown of Businessweek's bad numbers on LDS money

Last week, Businessweek wrote about LDS Church money. They made much of it. There is much of it. The LDS Church has large investments, some for-profit businesses, many non-profit organizations, etc. This is all in addition to tithing and other charitable donations. What Businessweek did not do is provide the most accurate of numbers in estimating the monetary value of charity extended by the LDS Church. Nor do they consider the possibility that the LDS Church has these investments to provide for charitable causes (above and beyond member-donated funds) while not depleting their principal. Duh!

I am indebted to Ryan Bell of Mormon American. He found or has access to much better numbers than I do.
Ryan Bell's response sections to Businessweek are the following:
1. The facts are wrong.
2. The comparison is misleading
3. The conclusion misses the point.

I will quote one portion, but I strongly recommend you head over there to read his response in entirety. He provides substance througout that I cannot in good conscience copy in entirety over here. And he also illustrates my point yesterday about not taking what the media reports at face value. You NEED more sources to really know whether someone's article is right or not.

This is from point three listed above.
If you and I both make $1 million, and you donate $500,000, and I donate $5,000, it is easy to determine which of us is more charitable. All the rest of my money will be spent on me, so it’s obvious I’m being more selfish than you, and this would be proper grounds for criticism. When two churches spend dissimilar amounts on humanitarian aid, the analysis is completely different. That’s because churches don’t typically spend their non-charitable funds on “selfish” purposes. The LDS Church is not some wealthy individual buying ski boats and jetting to St. Lucia, while stiffing the local homeless. The money the LDS Church does not spend on humanitarian purposes is being spent on other causes it believes are of equal or greater value to the world. As has been noted widely, the Church builds and maintains many thousands of buildings to host its members and create stable, holy places to preach the gospel. The Church trains, equips, supports, and houses tens of thousands of missionaries, some of whom are supported by their parents, but the majority of whom are not. These missionaries require maintenance of huge fleets of cars, hundreds of offices, and tens of thousands of flights each year. The Church publishes books, magazines, curriculum and administration manuals, operates several universities (all at a loss), and manages myriad other widespread and wide-ranging aspects of a massive, rapidly growing global operation–almost none of which produces a cent of revenue. Thus, even if the LDS Church gave very little to traditional charitable causes, that would not be evidence of selfishness or apathy. It might mean that the Church’s fights against evil, secularism, and sin are higher priorities than the fight against hunger and disease. It’s a debatable position, but quite defensible.

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