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
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. America
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
tithing was used to assist those in need. Utah
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:
TO PROMOTE AND FURTHER THE RELIGIOUS AND OTHER CHARITABLE WORK OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM OR ELSEWHERE AND TO ASSIST MEMBERS AND OTHER PERSONS WHO ARE IN CONDITIONS OF NEED, HARDSHIP, SICKNESS AND DISTRESS, TO ALL AGES AND DENOMINATIONS.
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 . 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: Canada
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
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. Canada
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.
*$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:
Name of organization:
Brigham Young University
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.