Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The business of being Mormon

Every few years enterprising journalists try to uncover the magnitude of the LDS church's finances and holdings. Below are some of the things I found interesting in the most recent attempt by Caroline Winter at Bloomberg Business Week, which you can read HERE

  • Deseret Management Company (DMC), a for-profit enterprise owned the the church makes an estimated $1.2 billion annually from six subsidiaries according to Keith McMullin, formerly of the Presiding Bishopric. A church spokesman later retracted his estimate, claiming that $1.2 billion is “vastly overstated.” He did not offer a revised amount.
  •  AgReserves, another for-profit owns roughly 1 million acres in the continental U.S. It also owns property in  Britain, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil. 
  • The Polynesian Cultural Center had net assets worth $70 million and collected $23 million in ticket sales, as well as $36 million in tax-free donations in 2010. The Polynesian Cultural Center began paying commercial property taxes in 1992, when the Land and Tax Appeal Court of Hawaii ruled that the theme park “is not for charitable purposes” and is, in fact, a “commercial enterprise, and business undertaking.”
  • The church's trust company called Ensign Peak Advisors, trades billions of dollars in transactions daily.
  • The LDS Church is likely worth $40 billion today and collects up to $8 billion in tithing each year.
  • Several high-ranking church insiders said that the church’s finances are so compartmentalized that no single person, not even the president, knows the entirety of its holdings
  • The money may be perfectly administered, for all we know,” says Ron Madson, 57, a lawyer and lifelong Mormon who once served as a church bishop. “But we don’t know. … When we see these expenses for the City Creek Mall, for the hunting preserves, these commercial enterprises, Ensign Peak, we don’t know where it’s going.” “When we see the church not doing the same things it asks the members to do, we recoil. We wonder: Is this looking more and more like a corporation and less and less like a church?”
  • The Mormon Church donates only about 0.7 percent of its annual income to charity; for comparison, the United Methodist Church gives about 29 percent.
  • Micah Nickolaisen, a 29-year-old photographer and devout Mormon, says City Creek catalyzed his growing concern about the church’s corporate empire. He worries that the church gives too little money to humanitarian causes, even though its leaders like to boast about Mormon welfare programs. “They spent more money on a mall in three years than they did in 25 on humanitarian aid,” says Nickolaisen.
  • The LDS Church’s legions of missionaries and volunteers don’t merely spread the Mormon message around the world; they’re also vital to the church’s businesses. Asked whether there’s any conflict of interest in having devout Mormons volunteer their services for for-profit enterprises, McMullin says, "If individuals want to come and enlist and participate in that endeavor and do so voluntarily, and the paid enterprises can provide resources and expertise to help them, I think it’s a wonderful marriage."

The magnitude of it all is kind of overwhelming. What does it say about the church? It says that the church leaders are very good business men and good at making money and managing resources. Gold star for that. It says that Mormons are generous in donating their time and money to the church. It says that the church is adept at claiming PR benefit for itself from the hours of labor donated by members. It says that humanitarian aid is not a priority for the Corp of the President.

1 comment:

  1. Here is a rebuttal article: