Follow the Profit

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I was helping the primary chorister get ready for the musical interludes of singing time, some 3 years ago. Her husband, who was and still is, a non-member had helped her put together the activity for this particular Sunday. She had an envelope filled with little slips of paper, each bearing the name of a primary song the children were practising. One of the slips of paper read, in her husbands scrawly printing: Follow the profit.

It made me smile and a little sad, but also very curious regarding this interpretation of the word Prophet. I thought of how the world views and worships at the hip of monetary gain. How “following the profit” is a daily pursuit of tens of millions around the world. Yet change 2 or 3 letters in that phrase and it means something completely different. Suddenly there is more value, not in dollars, but in spirit and character and humility.

The word profit implies benefit…but not necessarly the benefit of financial gain. Here lies the similarity between the word profit and prophet. It is the advantage of all of us, whether we know it or are oblivious to the fact, that we have a living prophet. Even the fellas screaming on wall street this very minute reap some small benefit because we have a living Prophet. They have and all of us have the potential to profit through the modern day directions of a Prophet of God.

Who knew we could follow the profit by truly following the Prophet.

21 thoughts on “Follow the Profit

  1. Nikki

    Beuatiful insight. I can’t add anything to this then to say I can’t agree more.

    And by the way, did you get my email about Conversation?? We want you on there!!!

  2. No…I don’t recall that email… Could you resend? DH went a little delete happy awhile back… :) LOL…so easy to pick on a guy that rarely reads blogs.

  3. With all due respect, the Mormon church takes in $6 billion in income each year, and has $30 billion in assets.

    And it offers ZERO financial transparency to its members on how tithing money is spent.

    Now follow the profit.

  4. Sarah

    Actually it does offer “transperancy” on how tithing and other income is spent. Anyone can view that information and a regular audit is done and reported on. As well, I can tell you where that money is spent, on buildings, upkeep, the poor, foreign aid, the list goes on and on. The Church takes care of its own. I have seen it in action.

  5. Kim and Mary:

    1) The $6/$30 billion income/asset figure was from Newsweek’s Hinckley interviews and not denied by church leaders.

    2) You are in error about their public accounting. They do not produce this in the U.S. or in other countries. Only in Great Britain are they required by law to show their finances. And it isn’t pretty. Less than 1% goes to charitable work.

    3) There is no good reason for their lack of financial transparency for a religious organization. They don’t want you to know how the money is spent, or to whom it goes.

  6. “The $6/$30 billion income/asset figure was from Newsweek’s Hinckley interviews and not denied by church leaders.”

    Can you be more specific?

  7. It was Time, not Newsweek, and as quoted by the AP, August 1997:

    The Mormon Church is the most prosperous of American religions and is preparing to focus that considerable wealth on an unprecedented campaign of international expansion, according to a cover story in Time magazine on newsstands this week.

    Time correspondents claimed “unusual cooperation” from the hierarchy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in researching the article, which gives what may be the most accurate financial snapshot of the church to date: a minimum of $30 billion in assets and annual gross income of $6 billion — more than Utah’s state budget this year.

  8. That’s not verifiable.

    There are no names and no way to back up the claim. There is no way to know if the reporters were making the figure up, or if they weren’t whether the person who told them was being accurate.

    After all, what the article states is that “TIME has been able to quantify the church’s extraordinary financial vibrancy. Its current assets total a minimum of $30 billion. If it were a corporation, its estimated $5.9 billion in annual gross income”. No mention on where or how they obtained the information.

  9. Kim

    Church holdings from Wikepedia:

    AgReserves Inc, Salt Lake City, Utah – the largest producer of nuts in America.
    Beneficial Life Insurance Co. – assets of $1.6 billion dollars.
    Bonneville International Corp – the 14th largest radio chain in the U.S.
    Deseret Cattle and Citrus Ranch in Orlando, Florida – the world’s largest beef ranch at 312,000 acres (1260 km²). The land alone is worth $858 million.
    Farmland Reserve, Inc – recently purchased 88,000 acres (356 km²) in Nebraska bringing its total in Nebraska to 228,000 acres (923 km²) second in Nebraska to Ted Turner’s 290,000.
    Polynesian Cultural Center, Hawaii – the leading for-profit visitor attraction in Hawaii.

    And yet no transparency or accountability.

  10. I’m not arguing against them having a lot of money tied up in assets, but that doesn’t address the claim that it has six billion dollars in income.

  11. Ironically Kim, your point that, “There are no names and no way to back up the claim. There is no way to know if the reporters were making the figure up, or if they weren’t whether the person who told them was being accurate” is exactly the point Sarah is trying to make, ie. there is a lack of financial transparency to church members on how tithing money is spent.

    I know the church does a lot of good charitable work with its money but I’ve also heard rumours on how the church has spent huge amounts of money on things like political donations toward amendments to the (US) constitution on same-sex marriage laws. I emphasis the word rumours, because it’s not through official sources that this type of information gets around.

    Most Mormons would defend the church’s decision to spend in this way (which is their right to do), but getting back to the point at hand – judicious spending should be transparent to every tithe payer and as far as I can tell, Sarah is right, it is not so.

  12. Jeff,

    I wasn’t disagreeing with her point about transparency. It’s obvious there is no transparency between those who manage the church’s finances and its members. The point I was addressing was the claim of six billion dollars in profit.

  13. Sarah

    What’s the big deal? If it is that important to you then why don’t you try and find out? What I do know is that the Church is very involved in financing efforts for those in need. They were the first on the scene after Katrina hit, financially, materially and physically.

    Besides that, my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t based on what I know about their spending or lack thereof.

  14. ok sorry, second on the scene. Red Cross was first. Either way, I don’t see why the big concern with what the Church’s profit is, when they do so much to help those in need anyway. I don’t know how much any company or organisation brings in,either, whether religious or otherwise.

  15. Having taken a day to ponder the issue of transparency in Church finances, I can think of a few good reasons why the church doesn’t reveal how exactly it spends tithing money, nor how much the church owns in assets.

    Large bureaucracies by their nature waste more money than smaller organizations. But if Joe Member thinks the church is wasting his tithing money he might feel less inclined to pay.

    I remember members of the ward in Medicine Hat critically remarking about the wasted money on renovations to the very church building they meet in. How many times do they actually need to put new carpet on the walls? (I might add – in what is supposed to be a money saving endeavour).

    If there were transparency in the finances then certainly there would be members of the church that looking at some of the big spending as wasteful. Not to mention the assets – less faithful members might justify themselves by saying well the church has SO much money anyway… they’re just going to waste it, why bother?

    Who is to say whether Mission Presidents need to live in such fancy houses at the tithe payer’s expense. What about other authorities whom the church provides for? In my mission, you didn’t find the mission presidents or the 70’s houses on the west side of the valley. And while that at first may seem like a waste of money, if the church ever needed that money, selling the more expensive residences that they did buy would have appreciated more in value than a less expensive house somewhere else.

    An opaque accounting also prevents jealousy. When a new building is constructed the price can vary depending on materials and labour costs. Some Temple’s and meeting houses are fancier than others. Knowing exact costs may upset individuals’ sense of fairness.

    My point is that Joe Member’s vision of what is and isn’t a waste of money may be different than the Church’s view. It’s especially hard when people believe that everything the church does is inspired. That’s probably not the case when it comes to finances – though as we know, in the big picture, the church is doing pretty good.

    Not having that information makes it easier for members not to have to worry about it.

  16. I think Jeff hit the nail on the head when he said that if the average member knew how much the church had in holdings, assets, and how much income they had annually – they would be reticent to pay.

    The purchase of large, negligibly church related, assets has always been a sore spot with people ‘in the know’ inside the church.

    No large organization wants to mess with its’ cash-flow, and the complete absence of accountability that the church currently has in regard to its’ financials is a safeguard against member resentment, questioning, and withholding.

    This may all become void if the church’s tax-exempt status is threatened, though. There have been rumours in this vein for a number of years now.

    It doesn’t help that the church is starting a little Vatican city by buying up the mall in downtown Salt Lake.

  17. I’m interested on your post. It’s good. Have any more information about it? or any information on attracting money? thanks.

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