Money is not the most important thing in the world, love is. Fortunately, I love money. ~ Russell M. Nelson

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Everybody Wang Chung
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Money is not the most important thing in the world, love is. Fortunately, I love money. ~ Russell M. Nelson

Post by Everybody Wang Chung »

I haven't seen the episode yet, but the Tribune is reporting that the Church did not come out smelling like roses.
Whistle Blower Came Off Well In '60' Minutes' Report. The LDS Church Did Not.

By Scott D. Pierce
| May 15, 2023, 9:07 a.m.
| Updated: 10:48 a.m.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints did not come off looking good Sunday night on “60 Minutes” but not entirely because of the whistleblower who alleges the Utah-based faith has been untruthful about its financial dealings.

As reported by correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi, the 13-minute segment, titled “The Church’s Firm,” included a seemingly impartial third party who cast doubt on the church’s version of events and a high-ranking church official who looked, at best, evasive.

David A. Nielsen, a former portfolio manager at Ensign Peak Advisors, the church’s investment arm, has alleged for nearly four years that the denomination has built a reserve fund worth north of $100 billion and that it has violated its tax-exempt status in doing so.

And, in his first on-camera interview, Nielsen sounded sincere when he said, “I thought I was going to work for a charity … and the funds were never used for that” — although, for the most part, Alfonsi didn’t press him hard on his allegations and largely ignored the part faith played in his actions.

The closest she came to asking him a tough question was in the final seconds of the segment, when she said it was possible he was “dead wrong.” Nielsen replied, “I know what I know. I saw what I saw.”

Before that, “60 Minutes” reported several numbers that were, no doubt, of interest to Latter-day Saints and outsiders. The newsmagazine show said the church brings in an estimated $7 billion annually in tithing and that it has $1 billion left over at year’s end, excess that presumably goes into the Ensign Peak Advisors account.

(Describing tithing as “about” 10% was weird, however, which the church describes as precisely 10%.)

Much was made of a document showing the church spent $1.4 billion from its Ensign Peak reserves on downtown Salt Lake City’s City Creek Center mall and $600 million to prop up a then-failing Beneficial Life Insurance.

“I’m not an expert on charities,” Nielsen told Alfonsi, “but I’ve been around the block enough to know that charitable organizations can’t bail out for-profit businesses and maintain their charitable status.”

W. Christopher Waddell, the first counselor in the church’s Presiding Bishopric, noted that the shopping center is bringing financial returns to the faith. Church leaders have also insisted that the money for the mall and the insurance firm came from “earnings on invested reserve funds,” rather than members’ actual tithing donations.

Waddell pointed out that the faith owns Beneficial Life and had to bail it out. According to Alfonsi, Waddell said Beneficial Life had paid back most of that money, “but the church would not disclose the details of that deal, or the mall investment.”

It certainly didn’t look good, however, that Ensign Peak created shell companies to hide billions in assets. Or that, according to Nielsen, a top Ensign Peak executive told him he feared the operation could lose its tax-exempt status if the full story came out.

The CBS newsmagazine let the church — through Waddell — have its say. According to him, Nielsen’s allegation “is not just incorrect, it’s flat-out wrong.” Redundant, but he was making a point. Waddell said the billions the church has in reserve are “for the continued operation” of the church “and for the future.”

On camera, Waddell looked and sounded evasive. Asked what the current value of Ensign Peak’s assets currently is, he said, “Yeah, that’s something I can’t, I can’t share with you right now.”

Alfonsi pressed him, saying that some have estimated the sum at $150 billion. “That’s an estimate that some have made,” Waddell said. Alfonsi asked again, and Waddell said, “We have significant resources.” He smiled when he said it; it was not a good look.

The nadir for Waddell came when Alfonsi asked about “the idea that secrecy builds mistrust?”

“Well, we don’t feel it’s being secret,” Waddell replied. “We feel it’s being confidential.”

“What’s the difference?” Alfonsi asked.

“The difference is, um … [long pause] … I guess is point of view,” Waddell said. “It’s confidential in order to maintain the focus on what our purpose is and what the mission of the church is, rather than the church has X amount of money.”

“But don’t you agree this would be a nonissue if there was more transparency?” Alfonsi asked.

“No, because then everyone would be telling us what they want us to do with the money,” Waddell replied.

The exchange came off poorly for him and, frankly, the church.

And it certainly didn’t reflect well on Utah’s predominant faith when Alfonsi reported that, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission, it went to “great lengths” to hide $32 billion in securities over 20 years, creating 13 shell companies. Or that the SEC fined the church and Ensign Peak a total of $5 million. And Waddell telling Alfonsi that the church’s lawyers advised creating the shell companies sounded, well, lame.

It didn’t help when Alfonsi went to Phil Hackney, “who worked in the office of chief counsel of the IRS and teaches tax law” — and who, seemingly, has no ax to grind. He said private foundations give 5% of their total assets to charity every year. (If the church has $100 billion in its reserve account, that would, of course, be $5 billion a year. The church says it gives $1 billion.)

“There’s no clarity when it comes to public charities, and certainly not with churches,” Hackney said. “But I would expect to see something like 2%, 3% of assets being spent out to justify that status.” But the church doesn’t reveal what its assets are.

Hackney also questioned the bailout of Beneficial Life, but he said the chance of the IRS investigating the church’s finances is “slim” because “the political risk is so great that it comes with real danger.”

Apparently, the staff at “60 Minutes” got the memo about how the church wants to be known. The report never once used the word “Mormon” to describe it, and the word itself only came up twice — when Alfonsi said Nielsen described himself as a “devout Mormon” when he went to work at Ensign Peak; and in reference to the MormonLeaks website.

Alfonsi did once refer to the “Church of Latter-day Saints,” which is not preferred by the faith these days, but may be better than using Mormons?

That is, perhaps, little comfort to the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as they ponder whether or how to do any damage control.

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Daniel C. Peterson, 2014
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Re: Money is not the most important thing in the world, love is. Fortunately, I love money. ~ Russell M. Nelson

Post by yellowstone123 »

Money is important but becoming less available to the poor. I say vote in a city or county reps that allow you to set up a tent in the park.

Two couples: one pays 6 to 7 thousand a year in tithing. This taps them out. ; the other couple puts the same amount into an IRA. The first couple will seek food and rent and be met by a smiling bishop for three months at age 65. The fourth month comes by and he rolls his eyes and suggests minimum paying jobs, 20 hours a week at Dessert industries. The second couple is sitting on a nice nest egg - 6 to 7 thousand a year for 40 or 50 years. Wait until it goes exponentially.

The rock and the hat story was withheld from the first couple for fifty to sixty years or they would have the financial resources of the second couple. Mean while, many older men who don’t need 10000 per year take it along with all other things free, rental cars, hotels etc.

Oh, and they need a second temple. In Rexburg.
Star B
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Re: Money is not the most important thing in the world, love is. Fortunately, I love money. ~ Russell M. Nelson

Post by Equality »

The median household income in 2021 in the United States was $70,784. Assuming a couple each age 25 earns the median and pays 10% tithing over, say, 40 years, that would deprive the couple of ~$283,000 over the course of their working career. The Church would, of course, invest that money with EPA, be under no obligation to use it for charitable purposes, and not be taxed. If, instead of giving that $283,000 to the cult, the family instead invested $7,078 each year for 40 years in, say, an IRA holding an low-cost index fund such as Vanguard's Total Stock Market (VTSAX) fund, investing all the dividends and not making any withdrawals until retirement at age 65, they would have $3,453,015 in their account, assuming a 10% average growth for the 40-year period (non-inflation-adjusted), which is what the stock market has provided as an average over the last 100 years. Obviously, past returns are no guarantee of future results, but no matter what reasonably foreseeable number one wants to plug in to the formula, the fact is that a 25-year-old Mormon couple with an average income would be far more comfortable in retirement at age 65 if they never paid the Mormon cult a single penny and instead parked that money in an index fund in a advantaged retirement account. The Mormon cult is certainly not going to be paying out to its members the compounded returns they earn with Ensign Peak Advisors using the funds donated by the members. Hell, the cult doesn't even pay for janitors to clean the buildings that the cult insists the members waste so much of their lives in engaged in busy work and attending boring meetings.
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Re: Money is not the most important thing in the world, love is. Fortunately, I love money. ~ Russell M. Nelson

Post by BeNotDeceived »

The level of spiritual and financial deception currently ongoing with this corrupt real estate corporation masquerading as a religion is staggering and unlike anything ever witnessed before in human history. If Joe Smith were alive today, he wouldn't be prouder. :lol: :x
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Valiant B
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Re: Money is not the most important thing in the world, love is. Fortunately, I love money. ~ Russell M. Nelson

Post by Dwight »

I had a shower thought of sorts yesterday. The church handles money in a way that fits a quote from Jesus. Matt 20:16 ~ "the last shall be first and the first last" First give to the church tithing and fast offerings, before housing, bills, even food. Then if you need financial help go to family, friends, community, government, before you go to the church for help. Thus the church is first to get your money and last to give you anything back.
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Re: Money is not the most important thing in the world, love is. Fortunately, I love money. ~ Russell M. Nelson

Post by yellowstone123 »

That’s why you needed a years supply of food in the 70s so you can pay tithing on increase (if you received public assistance) and ate your years supply so no bishops store house are used. The LDS church increases in monetary value and nothing else. Especially not spirituality. They want their fortune to only increase. One of the few tax exempt churches with closed books. You can’t serve God and money. How clearer can you get.
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