Monday, May 30, 2011

President Paternoster discloses how Tithing helps the poor and needy

A member of my stake Jon Hare (name has been changed) recently came to me stating that he had read online that the Church keeps secret all of its financial income and how it is spent.  He also didn’t think the church was using tithing funds to help the poor as per the original scriptural intent.  He spoke negatively of some mall over in America that the church was investing in.  Jon, a former high priest group leader who is financially very well off admitted that he was considering the possibility of not paying tithing anymore even though he knew this meant he could no longer attend the temple.

Seeing the seriousness of the situation I invited him into my office to see if I could calm his fears with accurate and correct information.  We had a prayer together and he asked that we start by reading from the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 14:37-38 which talking about (the man) Melchizedek states “And he lifted up his voice, and he blessed Abram, being the high priest, and the keeper of the storehouse of God; Him whom God had appointed to receive tithes for the poor."

From this scripture we learn that the storehouse of God in which the tithes were brought (that there may be meat in mine house…) were originally intended to bless the poor.  Brother Hare pointed out that this is our first and oldest scriptural reference to tithing.  He also pointed out that in the early days of the church in Utah tithing was used to assist those in need.

It is precisely these sorts of questions that I as a humble representative of the Lord am prepared to answer.

I asked him to join me on my side of the desk upon which I had my laptop.  We then went to this site which shows exactly how much income the church both received (8.5M pounds) and gave out (3.7M) in the UK in 2009:

We also read what the official purpose of this charity was, which I have copied and pasted below:

I explained to Brother Hare that tithes are of course used to fund our buildings including our temples and some funds are invested in properties perhaps even including malls. Some money may be invested in businesses with the purpose of producing further opportunities to help the poor. From this site it is clear that money received by the church is used to assist the needy.

Brother Hare proved to be a little tougher to convince than I expected and explained to me that fast offering and humanitarian aid money which is donated by members to the church over and above tithing is used for the poor.  Obviously he was right and I agreed with him on this point. I didn’t yet have him convinced that actual tithing money (above that which is needed to fund the buildings etc) went to the poor.  But I had one more card to play, so to speak.

I showed him that not only does the church willingly and voluntarily post such details in the UK but this is also the case across the ocean in Canada.  I have an aunt who keeps me abreast of developments in the church over there.  In fact on the Canada Revenue Agency website we can see the details of each church unit (ward) and what their individual charitable income was for the past few years:

The unit called “THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS IN CANADA” can be considered the ‘head office’ (as in all donations roll up to that charity from which funds are given back to wards etc).

As a summary though I pointed out to Jon that of the 145 million received from other registered charities (i.e. wards*) in 2009 the church did in fact follow the Lords injunction to ‘receive tithes for the poor’ by giving precisely 40 Million Dollars to BYU. 

I told him how joyous the saints in Canada must be to be able to support the Lords University and students in this way. I further pointed out that in 2010 in order for the church to be even more profitable and capable of assisting the sometimes destitute students and programs at BYU all chapel cleaning staff in Canada (who according to my aunt happened to be church members) had been let go.  With this move member’s now have the additional responsibility and blessing above and beyond their other church duties of cleaning their own sacred chapels.

We looked at this link showing the 40 Million dollar donation to BYU which I explained to Brother Hare is public information (not hidden as per his original concern) provided by the church for anyone in the world to see**: 

Needless to say Brother Hare was settled on the matter and convinced that the lies he had read online about the church not disclosing its financial details were completely unfounded. He further admitted that he had been deceived into thinking that tithing money was not being used for the poor as per the Biblical intent.  Said Hare, “If BYU students aren’t poor I don’t know who is”. He thanked me very much for my time and agreed to pay a full tithe this year as he has faithfully done in the past.  He also asked if it was possible to make donations directly to BYU separate from paying tithing. I confirmed that he could.

I know that the Lord will bless him for his faith and obedience.  I don’t mind members having questions; I just wish they would go to the right sources (humble church leaders) for answers rather than the internet.

President Paternoster

*$145,582,695 received from other registered charities (wards)

**In case the link ever doesn’t work I will briefly list below the pertinent details:
Qualified donees
Name of organization: Brigham Young University
City: Provo, UT
Amount of specified gifts: $ 40,000,000

It then goes on to list the specific amounts some of the wards received back from Canada‘s church head office which I assume were used for budgets and welfare assistance.


Jack Kendall said...

How blessed we are to have worthy priesthood holders allocate sacred tithing funds to further the work of the Lord!

Thank you, President, for speaking words of plainness unto us, and demonstrating that the Lord's funds are being used to further his work and kingdom!

anonymous78 said...

If only the Americans knew how much was going to the poor, like the Canadians and Brits.

Spencer said...

I think that the wisdom of our prophets and seers not only greatly surpasses our own, but is able to manage priorities to a degree of glory that most of us cannot conceive.

BYU Students are in great hardship, poverty, and distress. Many forgo a typical, 4-year education in order to serve the Lord through his 10-year program of eeking out 2 classes per semester while working full-time at the local sandwich shop in order to obey our obligations to marry early and to NOT delay having children for worldly wealth.

To give to the poor, as defined by other countries such as Haiti or South America, might put some rice or whatever in their bowls for a week or two, but even then there is no assurance they will stay alive long enough to accept the gospel and join the one true church.

Bjorge Queen said...

In light of this most faith promoting story, I starting to think the best thing for the church to do would be to spend all that money on Book of Mormons. After all, what good is food without salvation?

R. Nephi Samuelson said...

It is sad that this brother had such a trial of his tithing faith. The anti-Mormons truly do lie in wait to deceive! When the Asian Tsunami hit back in 2004, I recall that the Church put out a call for donations so that they could speedily help those in need, as the Church is wont to do. I willingly wrote out my check for $100.00 knowing full well that the funds would be handled wisely and given to those in need. I did not need to see the balance sheet of my ward, or the financials of the world posted for the world to see. No! As faithful Latter-day Saints, we can know for a surety that our tithing funds are not handled in inappropriate ways, it is just not in the program!

A ward member friend of mine said that the Church owns hunting lodges, hotels, radio and other communications and at one time was an owner of the L.A. Times. He then went on to say that the Church is the largest land owner in Florida and that the many welfare farms in California generate large profits for the Church by selling the surplus produce etc. on the open market, once welfare needs are met of course. He and I both agreed that those business ventures were divinely inspired endeavors to aid in strengthening the stability and growth of the Church. It is truly amazing to see the business acumen of the Church at work. It truly is the stone cut without hands, rolling forth to fill the whole earth, and a robust balance sheet and healthy business ventures help to pave the way!

p.s. The wonderful mall complex the Church is building downtown is going to be glorious! There are those who mock and scoff here in the local press about its 3.5 billion dollar price tag, but I am quick to remind those who make such comments that nothing is too good for the Lord and the sustaining beauty of the surrounding environs of Temple Square. This work is truly inspired!

anonymous78 said...

Not just hotels Brother Samuelson, but they rebuild hotels too--

What could build the kingdom more than this?

"Hawaii Reserves Web site says plans to build a new hotel will "provide an affordable, convenient place to stay for those planning a multi-day visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center, and it will also fill a standing community need — serving visiting families of Brigham Young University-Hawaii students and patrons of the nearby LDS Temple."

Brother Heber said...

Thank the Lord in heaven that the man Joseph was able to re-translate the Bible.
Has there been any such as he that can translate ancient writings for the benefit of the kingdom of the Lord?
Praise to the man indeed.

In regards to the Lord's mall. I would like to thank all my brother sisters in the far reaches of the kingdom for so generously donating their tithing to help the poor and needy here in zion. I know some of my brothers and sisters barely make enough to feed and clothe their families. To see such people give their money for the building up of the kingdom of zion is truly a testimony to the truthfulness of the gospel.
I pray that all may be able to afford a pilgrimage to Salt Lake City and partake of the blessings of the Lord's mall. I pray even that you may be able to come during the Nordstrom winter sale and partake of the 50% off savings.

Adam said...

The financial statements for the UK and Canada are a real window into the the affairs of the Church. Very little of the money earmarked for relieving human suffering (fast offering, humanitarian fund, etc.) is actually released in any given year. Instead, according to these detailed financial statements, the Brethren hold most of these funds and let them accrue over time for the benefit of the Church.

I think this is so wise-- high-profile, well-publicized aid in cases of dramatic disasters such as the recent Japanese earthquake allow humanitarian efforts to be a terrific missionary tool! This is much better than behind the scenes relief of less well-publicized suffering that goes on all around us on a daily basis. Everything we do should be in the service of our missionary efforts and improving the good name of the Church. I give thanks for the true inspiration and business sense of our leaders.

R. Nephi Samuelson said...

Amen Brother Adam, Amen!

It is glorious to see the Church harmoniously fulfill the words of the Lord himself; Matthew 6:3 "But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth."

Even though the Church does announce its offerings to others in the press, those press releases only serve to fulfill part of the three-fold mission of the church by creating a positive image for missionary efforts!

The Church is true Brothers and Sisters, the Church is true!

anonymous78 said...

Brother Heber,
You reminded me of the great sacrifices others make, my favorite story of sacrifice is of the Porto Alegre Brazil Temple, where:
"They gave the gold from their dental work to help pay for the temple. He said that he had purchased some of the gold fillings for more than the market price to share with congregations the nature of the sacrifice made by these members."

They truly gave all they had to build up the kingdom. I mean who needs teeth when you can just gum your non-existent food?

Anonymous said...

It's also refreshing to see the forthrightness of the church with regard to the myth of "no paid ministry." See how they openly and honestly declare that they are paying compensation to faithful servants in Canada:
Total expenditure on all compensation (enter the amount reported at line 390 in Schedule 3 if applicable) 4880 $ 15,237,479

Aurora said...

There are many who complain about 3.5 billion dollars spent on a 'great and spacious building' and a 'temple to consumerism', but are we not commanded to be righteous stewards? The man who multiplies his talents (and his tithing donations through savvy business deals) is a profitable servant.

Chris S said...

President, does Brother Hare not listen to General Conference? Every six months, the internal church auditor confirms to us that the church is in good financial health and that all funds are being used properly. Although I admit to some feelings of curiosity about how much income the church has (etc), I know that only the wicked seek for signs, so I am content to take the auditor at his word.

James said...

President Paternoster, upon reading your most marvellous and compelling research, my heart swelled with joy. I have never doubted that the Church would not spend the Lord's tithes inappropriately. This is something in which we as faithful servants must believe in.

Which brings me to my only concern. Why does the Church release the information of their expenditure in Canada and the United Kingdom? As reassuringly wonderful as these figures are, how can we have true Faith if are given actual numbers? Would it not be more glorious if we were able to rely solely on the Presidency and Church Auditor at their word? Does this not devalue our belief and faith?

Please share your thoughts, President!

Anonymous said...

Well, speaking for Canada, I'm sure that $15 MILLION quoted as salaries for the LDS church up here went to the meetinghouse custodians who have now lost their jobs. So don't worry, I'm quite sure next year that portion of the declaration will say "zero" now that those money-grubbing janitors have got their hands out of the Lord's pocket.

Stake Pres. said...

I would like to thank everyone for their insights.

Aurora brought up an important point about a parable given by the Saviour and Spencer confirmed to me my fears that the students at BYU are truly suffering for want of food and other necessities.

I would agree with Sister Pillinger that the 15 Million on salaries do not constitute a paid clergy. Leaders in Canada, the UK and the rest of the world for that matter are not paid.

The church does however have employees. Accountants, building managers and others are needed. There is nothing wrong with this.

I am just thankful that we no longer have the burden and expense of cleaning staff. They likely didn't need the income anyway and this move allows members to provide more hours of service for which they will surely be blessed.

anonymous78 said...

Free labor is the best way to help anyone learn the gospel and receive blessings from the Lord. From janitors to unpaid clergy, the best position in my opinion would be running the hunting preserve, I hope one day after years of temple learning I will be qualified:

I feel inspired to give you another point of view on the BYU donations. This is quite personal to me, so I hesitate in sharing but here goes:
My large family growing up in Utah was not able to afford to send me to college, however because I did well in high school and got good grades, I received a half tuition scholarship to BYU, along with a Pell Grant from the government, making college attainable for me. I went one year but could not handle working full time, going to school full time and trying to find a mate. I registered and failed some classes intentionally to keep my Pell Grant but was eventually put on academic probation and had my scholarship taken away. I regret not doing better, and now as an adult I have gone back and graduated with honors. Without those donations, I never would have had the opportunity, so I truly appreciate it. For my father would tell me if I never learned to cook and clean no man would ever want me; because of your donations I was able to prove him wrong.

anonymous78 said...

I see I have left you speechless Prez..

btw I did finally find my mate, but not at BYU, we work together at a consulting firm you know well. Thanks for hiring me! :)

Although I'd much rather see that $40K donation go to feed the hungry, or even stay in the UK, I can't discount the importance of education for anyone. Thank you for donating to stop the cycle of poverty.

anonymous78 said...

Ooops, I realize now that it is $40 million not $40K. Yeah that's a bit much to help the poor BYU students. Why for that much, you may be able to feed all of them.

Welltraveledpair said...

The Church already has a generous plan in place for the poor: the Perpetual Education Fund. The Brethren have wisely decided that the poor must pay back their loans, while the BYU students who have their tuition subsidized by tens of thousands of dollars to not have do pay the Church back. This discrepancy makes sense, however, when you consider WHY people are born in certain areas of the world. If you are from an affluent family in the U.S. and are destined to attend BYU, you obviously did something right in the pre-existence. By contrast, if you are in a dirt poor country and need money from the church to attend cosmetology school so you can feed your 11 children, well...

God is no respecter of persons!

Brother Heber said...

You are correct in asserting that the Perpetual Education Fund (Or EPF as it is know here in zion) is truly an inspired program. The church is so wise and prudent that it only donates the interest earned from the donations to the needy. Thus preserving all donation people make to the EPF in an account for use in case of emergency such as; A leak in the retractable roof of the Lord's mall, an outbreak that kills all the genetically engineered trout in the Lord's trout stream in the Lord's mall, and so on.

What possible good could come from a man Bolivia getting an education if the Lord's retractable roof were to malfunction? I say to you no good would come of this.

Cindy said...

I once had a non-member friend who had a problem with tithing. He argued that if he was giving money to the church he should know exactly where it was going. It's great that you have been able to show that at least in the UK and in Canada this is the case however, I do not think knowing is necessary. I have a foster child in an underdeveloped country which I give money for each month. I know this money is being used to help him but exactly how it is being used isn't broken down in detail for me. Does that mean that I should stop sending money? Sometimes there are things that we do because we feel they are the right thing to do. God has given us everything all he asks is that we return part of it back to him. It's the right thing to do, it's that simple.

Orson said...

Actually, the huge subsidy of BYU students makes perfect sense from a managerial point of view. How much tithing will a lawyer, dentist or medical doctor contribute back to the Church over his long career? Clearly, this will be an amount far, far greater than what the Church invests to provide that person with his generous educational subsidy, which is on the order of $100,000 over four years. On the other hand, how much tithing will a person who benefits from the Perpetual Education Fund be expected to contribute over a lifetime? The return on that "investment" is quite modest in comparison. It's a case of "From whom much is expected, much will be given."

The Lord's house is a house of order. This includes smart decisions when it comes to how money is allocated.

There's also a great tax angle here-- the contributions that get sent to BYU are tax deductible, even when they are used to educate the children of the donors! Free money from the government to fund the Lord's work. It's a true blessing, and smart business.

Brigham Taft Pratt said...

Sister Pillinger,
I really do not think that the whole $15 million the church generously gives back to Canadian saints goes to custodians. I was recently visiting some Pratt cousins in Cardston Alberta and was privileged to attend a ward party where boiled hot dogs were served. There was even mustard provided, albeit it was the Walmart brand. Clearly, the church generously gives back to wards for cultural activities as well.

kolobian said...

I'd like to take this opportunity to echo the beautifully inspired words of sister Cindy.

If it's the right thing to do, then we should do it. If the brethren are doing it, it must be the right thing. And it's the right thing if the brethren are doing it.

How do we know it's right? Because the brethren can't do wrong. Why can't the brethren do wrong? Because they are the brethren.

Of these things I testify in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Joseph K. Packer said...

I pay tithing and offerings first if my children don't eat then at least I will not burn in complete agony for not giving a good part of my salary for the gospel. The critics raise their filthy voices saying that the Mall's initial budget was $800 million and through mismanagement it has increased to 3.5 billions and that Deseret books is an ill-managed corporation in spite of having the support of members that buy incredible pricey items and that the leaders of the church exert mental pressure to many poor members that make difficult sacrifices getting little or not consideration from church leaders that waste the money given with a lot of sacrifices.
I say to critics to keep it to themselves!!. The leaders are teaching us to give to the work of God and if it is not managed well then we should give more. Be afraid if you don't obey Thomas S. Monson be very afraid11

Onefootout said...

This is hilarious. The real gem of this blog is the comments section. Truly good actors, never falling out of character (I especially like Brigham Taft Pratt's insights. And his name.) It's welcome comical relief in the stressful, tiring path away from the Church.

Anonymous said...

Reading these has been hilarious... but the fact is ... its too sad for words... once.. upon a time... we lived in the south west USA... we were custodians.. trying to earn money to supplement our military wage.. and keep our heads above water.. when interviewed for the job we were told it was a 'family' job... we could count the hours everyone put in.. we were 'conservative' in doing this as we wanted to be fair and honest.. every week a guy would come and watch me clean etc. i found it hard to do this with someone watching over me.. I never counted my hours when he was there as he used to want to chat.. and i wanted to be honest... i would clean during the day and hubby at night after his air force job.. after a year .. the guy .. came and told me i wasn't 'allowed' to do this anymore as the job was my husbands... not what we were told when employed.. this was now difficult because i did most of the work.. it left a bad taste in our mouths.. they got around the 'full time' employment whereby they would have to provide 'benefits' by giving you shorter than full time hours..

Jeremy O'Booze said...

As you know chaps, I'm a British investment banker, but I am smart enough not to do my investment banking in London. Most of my income comes through the Cayman Islands and Belize. There is just something I am unclear about, however. Should I pay my tithing in the UK which I regard as my home, but where I don't set foot for more days in a year than I am forced, for fear of being fleeced by the tax man? If I pay tithing in the UK, Her Majesty's Revenue may smell a rat. But if I pay it in the Cayman Islands the Church there will only give it away to the poor, as people there don't have a pittance to live on. I'm not inclined to pay it in the USA as I am mindful of the comment of Governor Romney, that 47% of Americans are a bunch of tossers (or words to that effect) and live in the hope of public handouts. I don't incidentally believe in helping the poor, because I think they are mostly ne'er-do-wells and by doing so you disincentivise them from working for a living. I believe the Lord helps those who help themselves. So I intend to go on helping myself! In large amounts!