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Bloomberg Business Week: Inside the Mormon Empire

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Anyone else read this? I'm not Mormon, but I do get the magazine and this article caught my attention. Just looking for thoughts from the Hive on the article and what you think of it?


That's possibly the worst cover I've ever seen on a magazine. Hard to believe it's professional, frankly.


The LDS Church is a very profitable business/religion.


I waded my way through the article which was tedious, I thought.


I think they open themselves up for a lot of scrutiny because most churches are very open about their finances with members and the LDS church isn't, which was mentioned in the article.


It's the "Mormon Moment" in many ways, for better or worse for members. I very much wish the cover wouldn't have been in such poor taste. The concepts behind it, however, were important, but they can get lost when offense is so upfront.

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I think there are two separate issues:


(1) The cover, which is tacky, disrespectful, and . . . ugly. (And the author probably had nothing to do with it.)


(2) The article, which appears to grossly understate what the LDS Church spends on humanitarian aid. More info about that here:




That said, I do think it would benefit the LDS Church in a variety of ways to be more transparent about its finances. (And I'm LDS, FWIW.)

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I don't like when things like that poke fun of others beliefs. I find the cover in very poor taste. That being said, I don't get offended very easily. There are going to be plenty of people out there that have poor judgement and don't care about making fun of others.


As for the article, I didn't bother to care about reading it. Quite frankly I'm pretty well aware how the church is run. I will still pay my tithe and know that it is going where it is needed. I've run the gamut in callings and I've seen where much money went to help others in a multitude of ways. That is what it's all about.

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I thought this response from an LDS blogger on Patheos was excellent. I have not been able to see the cover image or read the entire article, so I have no personal response, though I did hear that the journalist had some problems with research.


My thoughts run much along the same lines as this blogger too. I thought the article entirely misses the point in a number of important ways, most notably in its interpretation of the idea that there is no distinct separation between the spiritual and the temporal, but that all things are spiritual. It does not, as the author suggests, mean to Mormons that making a million dollars is a spiritual pursuit, but rather that how one engages in business (with honesty and compassion, or with deceit and ruthlessness) is a spiritual matter, and that the reasons for which one pursues wealth (to help or to oppress) are spiritual matters--that sort of thing. You can't engage in dishonest business practices and use your wealth to hurt others and then claim that it's "just business" and has nothing to do with your spirituality.


There were other things too. For example, the author mentions things like farms and orchards as part of the church's lucrative holdings. It entirely neglects to mention that the products are distributed free of charge to people who need food. They're not exactly profit-generating enterprises in the way the article suggests. And if the church would rather purchase another farm to produce food for hungry people instead of "donating to charity", honestly I don't have a problem with that. I do see helping needy people as being a "spiritual" thing, and yes, it's easier to do that if you have money than if you don't. If some of that money comes through wise investing and ownership of profitable businesses, I really don't have a problem with that either, so long as the businesses are run ethically. Especially as the church continues expanding into areas where members are unable to donate very much because of their economic situations, but where they still need to receive services through the church. If investments can subsidize donations so everyone can eat, and maybe get a decent education, I say great! I don't see expenditures on things that seem unreasonable to me; there's no opulent presidential palace, for example, that would only cater to the creature comfort of one person. Even the shopping center that's so controversial benefits the larger community (in an urban revitalization sense) in addition to theoretically generating an apparently modest profit for the church to use on church programs and projects.


Also, the "international humanitarian aid" figure is only one sub-section of charitable expenditures by the church, and I can't help but wonder why the author only included one category of giving his figures instead of giving a more accurate overall figure. Was it just poor research?


And there were several snippets that demonstrate not only a lack of comprehension about the church's structure, but a lack of desire to comprehend. For example, "He’s spent the past 17 years serving as the No. 2 counselor in the church’s so-called Presiding Bishopric, a three-man team that officially controls church finances and business endeavors..." What's with the "so-called" in there? The actual title of the group of people he's describing is "The Presiding Bishopric". That's what it's called. That's what it is. They do have stewardship over church property. Putting "so-called" in front of it suggests that the label is given erroneously, which is a pretty blatant indication by the author that this is not really intended to be an unbiased reporting of the facts, and that the author is making judgments about how the church "should be" but isn't. This is further demonstrated by this bit, "The Mormon presidency is not an elected position, and while the president is considered a prophet, it’s also not considered a direct appointment from God. When one president resigns or dies, he is replaced by the longest-serving member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, an ecclesiastic group commonly referred to as the Apostles. Each new president handpicks two counselors to help him lead. The three-man team is called the First Presidency." It actually IS considered to be a direct appointment from God, even though the Apostles do cast a vote (based on their personal inspiration directly from God as to who should be the next president)--so that's just inaccurate reporting. Historically speaking it has been the senior apostle--a guy directly called by God to the position, and not yet removed by God through death, and with the most experience--but that's not necessarily a requirement. Also.., "When one president resigns..."? There have been no resignations by church presidents. This is verging on just making stuff up. Not quite there, but walking the brink, and certainly suggestive.


I dunno...I guess to me it's just yet one more poorly researched, badly reported article intended to portray the LDS church in the least flattering light possible while playing a little loose with the facts. And yes, the artwork is exceedingly tacky and in really bad taste. And as someone with an art/design background....it's just bad design too. I have to wonder what the art director was even thinking.


As far as church financial transparency goes...I don't have strong opinions one way or another. But it does seem that a certain amount of caution is understandable from a religious organization that has had its property seized by the government in the past, and that exists in a society that frequently demonstrates suspicion, or even open hostility toward it.

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The church is transparent and provides all the financial documents required by law. Why should it provide more?


You don't hear many homeschoolers advising other homeschoolers to provide more documentation then is necessary to the local education board, do you?


If you are not required to make a list of your curriculum choices or show a portfolio do you do so anyway just to prove you are on the up and up?


I found the cover weird and offensive, but that reflects more on the people who made it than on the people they are ridiculing.


Amber in SJ

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The church is transparent and provides all the financial documents required by law. Why should it provide more?


(Bolding mine) It's really not transparent.


Transparent would be if church members could find out how much church money goes to pay the living expenses of the general authorities.


Some Mormons want that level of transparency. Others don't.


If you've grown up in the LDS church, you might not realize the level of financial transparency available in other U.S. churches. I was floored.

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