LDS Church already has enough billions for a ‘whole lot of rainy days’
In the wake of financial questions dogging the faith, tax law professor explains why it needs to reveal more, spend more and help more.
(Photo courtesy of Sam Brunson) Sam Brunson, tax law professor at Loyola University Chicago.
| Feb. 25, 2023, 6:00 a.m.
Big news came for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in recent days when federal regulators slapped the Utah-based faith and its investment arm with a $5 million fine for working to “obscure” the church’s wealth.
Just before that stunning announcement, Sam Brunson, a popular Latter-day blogger and a tax law professor at Loyola University Chicago, discussed the faith’s finances on The Salt Lake Tribune’s latest “Mormon Land” podcast.
Does this global faith of nearly 17 million members simply have too much money? Could it — and should it — do more for charity? Would further fiscal transparency be a solution?
This much is certain, Brunson said in response to the SEC settlement: that case might be over, but the issue for members isn’t.
Here are excerpts from that podcast:
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Do you think many members would stop paying tithing if they knew the church’s full financial portfolio?
Some definitely would, but for the most part, if the information was coming from the church and not whistleblowers and if the church was able to explain what it was doing without responding to public pressure, I honestly don’t think most members would stop paying tithing. I could be wrong about that. But most of the hesitance that I’ve heard from people is the idea that the church not only has a lot of wealth but is hiding the fact of its wealth.
Members say they don’t pay tithing to help the church’s finances; it’s more like a spiritual commitment.