Mormon Church Finances, Explained

Introduction to Mormon Church Finances

Members of the Mormon Church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the LDS Church, pay money to their church called tithing. Tithing is ten percent of their income. The Mormon Church does not disclose its financial statements to the public, but economists estimate that Mormon Church tithing income is a significant amount of money. 

Although the LDS finances are stable today, that has not always been the case. The church has gone through periods of financial instability. Starting in the 1960s, leaders of the Mormon Church adopted a policy of not spending more money than the church receives in tithing. They have also adopted the practice of using a small portion of tithing and investing it for a rainy day. To accomplish this, the church created an investment firm called Ensign Peak. 

In Mormon Church finances, the returns on some of Ensign Peak’s investments have been used to fund investment projects like the creation of City Creek Mall. City Creek was developed in the hopes of beautifying and bringing prosperity to the area around Temple Square, the headquarters of the Mormon Church, located in downtown Salt Lake City. Another project that Ensign Peak’s investment returns helped was Beneficial Life, an insurance company owned by the church.

In 2019, a former employee of Ensign Peak filed a whistleblower complaint with the IRS, stating that the Mormon Church should not get to file its taxes as a church or charity institution because of its business investments. The leadership of the LDS Church responded to the complaint by stating that investing for future economic instability is a wise practice and the church complies with all taxes and laws. The debate about Mormons and tithing, how church finances are used, and whether the church investment firm complies with tax laws will be addressed here

Critics View &
Factual Responses

What are donations to the Mormon Church used for?

Donations to the Mormon Church are offered by members of the church in various forms...
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Why does the LDS Church takes tithing from the poorest members, even though it already has a lot of money?

In the Old Testament, the Lord instructed the people to pay their tithing...
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Since the Church has so much money, shouldn’t it do more to help the poor and alleviate suffering? Isn’t that following what Jesus taught in Matthew 19:21 and Luke 12:33?

The Mormon church began spending money on humanitarian aid in the 1980s...
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According to David Nielsen, a former employee of Ensign Peak, the Mormon Church has amassed more than $100 billion in a tax-exempt investment fund.

Mormon church tithing is used in many ways, including being invested in commercial enterprises...
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According to David Nielsen, the Mormon Church only ever used tax-exempt funds to invest in City Creek Mall and to bail out a life insurance company, Beneficial Life. Nielsen claims this violates the church’s tax-exempt status.

As part of the LDS Church’s initiative to prepare for the future...
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The Mormon Church is secretive with its money. Why isn’t the LDS Church more transparent?

The LDS Church is not a financial or commercial corporation...
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Mormon Donations

Mormons pay tithing, which is ten percent of their income to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints...
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David Nielsen’s Filed an IRS Complaint

David Nielsen, a former member of the Mormon Church and employee....
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SEC Fines Ensign Peak and the Mormon Church

The SEC fined Ensign Peak and the Mormon Church for filing one of its securities forms incorrectly...
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The Mormon Church Was Not Always Wealthy

The LDS Church’s finances have gone through at least three periods of serious financial...
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Mormon Church Finances Timeline

2023

May 14

David Nielsen, a former employee of Ensign Peak, was interviewed by the CBS program, 60 Minutes. They also interviewed W. Christopher Waddell, the first counselor in the Mormon Church’s presiding bishopric. Nielsen said the LDS Church receives about 7 billion dollars in tithing. Nielsen said that Ensign Peak used tithing to build a 100 billion dollar investment fund. Nielsen claims that during his tenure Ensign Peak only ever used these funds for two purposes: to bail out an insurance company and invest in City Creek Mall. Nielsen believes that the LDS Church defrauded its members and defrauded the IRS by building such a large investment portfolio, tax-free. Waddell said that Nielsen did not have the full picture of the investments and that the LDS Church uses Ensign Peak’s investment returns for many purposes in the church. He also said that the Mormon Church invests money for the future and times of financial instability.

David Nielsen’s critique of the LDS Church is that the investments of Ensign Peak are illegal because it creates these investments with tax-free tithing funds.

  • Ensign Peak is legally registered as a supporting organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As such, it is legal for Ensign Peak to invest money and make money on those investments without tax burden. There is no evidence to suggest that the money that Ensign Peak invested in City Creek Mall was for any other purpose than to receive a return on their investment. Earning money is the purpose of all financial investments.
  • Beneficial Life is an insurance firm owned by the Mormon Church. It, like many other insurance companies, struggled during the financial crisis of 2008. The LDS Church invested its own money to keep the company solvent during the financial crisis. Beneficial Life is registered as a for-profit entity and pays taxes on its income. Beneficial has since repaid over $500M back.
  • Ethically, the LDS Church believes that saving money for times of future economic instability is a sound practice. They consider it a principle taught by Jesus Christ, himself, in the parable of the talents.

2023

February 21

From 1997 to 2019 the LDS Church’s investment firm, Ensign Peak, filed its securities with the SEC under subsidiary companies, or shell companies. Ensign Peak followed the advice of lawyers while filing these forms with the SEC. The specific manner in which Ensign Peak reported its investments violated SEC rules. Ensign Peak agreed to pay a $4 million fine and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints paid a $1 million fine. When the SEC made their concerns known to the LDS Church in 2019, the church began filing its SEC forms correctly.

The LDS Church intentionally failed to comply with financial reporting laws in order to hide the size of its investments.

  • Corporate tax statutes are very complex and are open to different interpretations. The church hired tax consultants to advise them on how to best comply with the laws while at the same time maintaining the financial privacy it sought. These consultants instituted strategies they felt were compliant with the law. Regulators disagreed, which resulted in a fine.
  • The LDS Church released this statement about the SEC fine: “Since 2000, Ensign Peak received and relied upon legal counsel regarding how to comply with its [SEC] reporting obligations while attempting to maintain the privacy of the portfolio. As a result, Ensign Peak established separate companies (LLCs) that each filed Forms 13F instead of a single aggregated filing. Ensign Peak and the church believe that all securities required to be reported were included in the filings by the separate companies.
  • In June 2019, the SEC first expressed concern about Ensign Peak’s reporting approach. Ensign Peak adjusted its approach and began filing a single aggregated report. Since that time, 13 quarterly reports have been filed in full accordance with SEC requirements.
  • This settlement relates to how the forms were filed previously. Ensign Peak and the church have cooperated with the government over a period of time as we sought resolution.
  • We affirm our commitment to comply with the law, regret mistakes made, and now consider this matter closed.”

2019

December 17

David Nielsen was employed by Ensign Peak, an investment firm owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After leaving the church, David Nielsen left Ensign Peak and filed a complaint with the IRS. Lars, David’s brother, helped him prepare the IRS complaint and provided a copy of it to the Washington Post.

According to the Post, David’s complaint said the LDS Church was misleading its members by using tithing to grow their investment fund and possibly breaching federal tax rules by propping up a pair of businesses: City Creek Mall and Beneficial Life. The Post article also stated that “No documents are provided to support this claim, which is attributed to information David Nielsen gleaned from working at the company.” If the complaints have merit, a University of Pittsburgh tax law expert said that it would raise red flags for the IRS.

  • The same day the Washington Post published its article about David Nielsen’s complaint, the First Presidency of the LDS Church released a statement. Their statement said that the vast majority of tithing goes to the immediate cost of running the church, including building “more meetinghouses, temples, education, humanitarian work, and missionary efforts throughout the world.” They said a small portion of tithing is invested for the future, which is a sound financial principle and a doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

2017

MormonLeaks posted paystubs from the years 1999 and 2000. They purport to show that the yearly pay for President Henry B. Eyring was $83,132.75. According to an interview with the founder of MormonLeaks, Ryan McKnight, he stated that his objective was to present the documents, without giving any interpretation of what they meant. He said, “I'll let the viewers of this document decide if this is a modest stipend. I don't care how much they receive. It doesn't inherently reflect poorly on leaders of the church. It really applies only to the fact that it hasn't previously been disclosed."

The documents showing President Eyring’s income have never been confirmed as real. If they are, they were obtained illegally at some point.

Some people see these paystubs as evidence that the LDS Church has a paid clergy, rather than a volunteer clergy. Others believe that the stipend given to the Mormon Church’s general authorities is excessive.

  • The vast majority of clergy in the Mormon Church (stake presidents, bishops, relief society presidents, primary presidents etc.) don’t receive any financial compensation for their service. Instead, they fit their volunteer church service around their professional careers and home responsibilities.
  • In contrast, those called as general authorities (the highest leadership of the church) generally give up or suspend their professional careers to fulfill their responsibilities. Because of this, a stipend or living allowance is provided to help meet any of their financial needs. In some instances, the living allowance provides far less income than the individual’s previous professional career. In other situations, the stipend allows individuals from various countries and backgrounds to serve as general authorities who otherwise wouldn’t be able to do so, due to their personal financial situations.
  • The stipend is the same for all general authorities, no matter their calling or length of service. A spokesperson for the LDS Church, Eric Hawkins said, "None of the funds for this living allowance come from the tithing of church members, but instead from proceeds of the church's financial investments."

1997

September 29

Ensign Peak Advisors (also called Ensign Peak) was formed and registered with the government as a supporting organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The purpose of Ensign Peak was, and still is, to take a small portion of tithing contributions and invest them so that the church can save money for the future.

    1997

    August 4

    Time Magazine wrote a cover article about the finances and enterprises of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Time article projected the wealth of the LDS Church at $30 billion. The article said that if the LDS Church were a for-profit business, it would earn $5.9 billion every year. The article made this caveat: “There are richer churches than the one based in Salt Lake City: Roman Catholic holdings dwarf Mormon wealth. But the Catholic Church has 45 times as many members. There is no major church in the U.S. as active as the Latter-day Saints in economic life, nor, per capita, as successful at it.” In response to the Time Magazine article, the LDS Church released a statement, clarifying that the real wealth of the church is its members. Second, it said that it believed the projected wealth of the church was exaggerated. Bruce Olsen, the managing director of LDS Public Affairs, also said that “the bulk of the Church's assets are money-consuming assets, rather than money-producing."

      1969

      The LDS Church’s deficits were eradicated after a period where the church had spent more than it received in tithing funds. The church’s surplus was $29.5 Million.

        1963 - 1964

        President N. Eldon Tanner became the counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church. He was also put in charge of church finances. He stopped all deficit spending, which had been happening for many years. This included halting construction on the new Church Office Building in Salt Lake City for five years.

          1950s - 1962

          During President Henry D. Moyle’s tenure as a counselor in the First Presidency, the Mormon Church built over 1,000 new church buildings as well as two new temples. By 1962, the church accrued a large debt. It spent $32 million more than it received in tithing.

          President Henry D. Moyle saw, and expected to see, more growth in the LDS Church membership worldwide. In anticipation of this growth, President Moyle advised the President of the church to build more chapels and two new temples throughout the world. President Moyle was correct, the church grew significantly during this period. A Deseret News article states, “Worldwide membership increased by 50% to nearly 1.7 million members from 1950-60.” However, the spending also placed the LDS Church in deep debt.

            1940s

            J. Reuben Clark, a counselor in the First Presidency, instituted a new financial policy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This policy only allowed the LDS Church to spend 28% of the tithing it received for church endeavors. The other funds were used to resolve the church’s debt, which it had accrued during the Great Depression.

              1938

              Because of the worldwide Great Depression, the LDS Church spent more money than it received from tithing funds. It spent money on things like the welfare system, which supported church members who lost jobs or couldn’t afford food.

                1899–1907

                The Mormon Church continued its cycle of solvency and debt. A period of debt began in 1893 for the church. During this time, President Lorenzo Snow asked members of the LDS Church to recommit to paying their tithing, which it seemed they were not doing. By 1901 half of the Mormon Church’s debt was paid by tithing. By 1907, the church was solvent again.

                  1893

                  Previous to the Panic of 1893, the Mormon Church had secured a loan of $500,000 from a San Francisco bank. When the Panic of 1893 began and people made a run on banks, withdrawing their money. The LDS Church’s bank (Zion’s Bank), along with many banks across the nation, were drained of their capital. Because of the economic crisis, the church could not make the payment on their $500,000 loan. Elder Heber J. Grant, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, went to New York City and secured a loan from an individual named John Claflin. The loan allowed the church to make the minimum payment on their loan on time. The church was saved from having to declare bankruptcy.

                    1887

                    The Edmunds-Tucker Act was passed by the Congress of the United States. It made polygamy illegal in U.S. territories. It took the vote away from women, who were given the vote in Utah in 1870. It also dissolved the corporation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and allowed the U.S. government to seize the property of polygamists and the LDS Church if it exceeded an amount of $50,000. The U.S. government’s seizure of these properties placed the LDS Church in deep debt.

                      1842

                      Congress passed a new bankruptcy law in 1841. Under this law, Joseph Smith applied for bankruptcy. He had significant personal debts and debts he acquired as the trustee of the LDS Church. Some of Smith’s debts were from building the Kirtland Temple, two Ohio mercantile firms: Cahoon, Carter and Co. and Rigdon, Smith and Co. After the expulsion of Mormons from Missouri, Smith also purchased lands in Illinois and Iowa on credit. Smith and his lawyers made several mistakes when filing for bankruptcy, including transferring property to his family members so that it wouldn’t be used to pay his creditors. John C. Bennett, an excommunicated member of the Mormon Church, wrote an article in a local paper about Smith’s property transfers. The U.S. government investigator delayed Smith’s bankruptcy hearing to investigate the matter further. The investigator also delayed in order to examine a debt Smith owed to the U.S. government for the purchase of the steamboat Nauvoo. Many of the records about the matter were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The bankruptcy settlement never appears to have been resolved.

                        1838

                        After the economic struggles and failures of the Mormon Church in Kirtland, Ohio, the leadership of the church wanted to pay off its debts and fund a temple in Missouri. According to Joseph Smith, while he was pondering these questions, he received revelations about member contributions, called tithing. These revelations required church members to contribute their surplus property and “one-tenth of all their interest.” This was interpreted by Bishop Edward Partridge to mean “10 percent of what Saints would earn in interest if they invested their net worth for a year.” Today, the Mormon Church says that “church members give one-tenth of their income” as tithing.

                          1837

                          An extreme economic downturn began in 1837 called the Panic of 1837. The banking industry in the United States already had problems because it was not strictly regulated. The Panic caused many banks to fail, including the Kirtland Safety Society, a bank, or joint-stock company. There were other contributing factors to the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society including a lack of investors and the fact that many of the investors were already in debt from building the Kirtland Temple.

                            1837

                            January

                            Some important factors led the LDS Church to try to create a bank, or joint stock company. The first factor was that the Mormon Church had assets, but at this point most of these were land assets or other non-liquid assets. Secondly, the Kirtland Temple was dedicated in March of 1836, but to complete the temple, the LDS Church had accumulated debt. Leaders of the church wanted to gather more liquid assets to try and pay off their debts from the temple. They believed that the way to accomplish this was to create their own bank–the Kirtland Safety Society. Church leaders began selling shares in the Kirtland Safety Society in October of 1836. People were offering up their land and other assets as collateral. The Kirtland Safety Society was formally established on November 2, 1836.

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                              • 2023

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                              • 1997

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                              • 1969

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                              • 1963 - 1964

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                              • 1950s - 1962

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                              2023

                              60 Minutes Interviewed Various People Inside and Outside of the Mormon Church About Its Finances

                              Historical Context

                              What Critics Are Saying

                              Response to Critics View

                              David Nielsen, a former employee of Ensign Peak Ensign Peak cancel Ensign Peak is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ investment firm. It was established in 1997.

                              , was interviewed by the CBS program, 60 Minutes. They also interviewed W. Christopher Waddell, the first counselor in the Mormon Church’s presiding bishopric. Nielsen said the LDS Church receives about 7 billion dollars in tithing. Nielsen said that Ensign Peak used tithing to build a 100 billion dollar investment fund. Nielsen claims that during his tenure Ensign Peak only ever used these funds for two purposes: to bail out an insurance company and invest in City Creek Mall. Nielsen believes that the LDS Church defrauded its members and defrauded the IRS by building such a large investment portfolio, tax-free. Waddell said that Nielsen did not have the full picture of the investments and that the LDS Church uses Ensign Peak’s investment returns for many purposes in the church. He also said that the Mormon Church invests money for the future and times of financial instability.

                              David Nielsen’s critique of the LDS Church is that the investments of Ensign Peak are illegal because it creates these investments with tax-free tithing funds.

                              • Ensign Peak is legally registered as a supporting organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As such, it is legal for Ensign Peak to invest money and make money on those investments without tax burden. There is no evidence to suggest that the money that Ensign Peak invested in City Creek Mall was for any other purpose than to receive a return on their investment. Earning money is the purpose of all financial investments.
                              • Beneficial Life is an insurance firm owned by the Mormon Church. It, like many other insurance companies, struggled during the financial crisis of 2008. The LDS Church invested its own money to keep the company solvent during the financial crisis. Beneficial Life is registered as a for-profit entity and pays taxes on its income. Beneficial has since repaid over $500M back.
                              • Ethically, the LDS Church believes that saving money for times of future economic instability is a sound practice. They consider it a principle taught by Jesus Christ, himself, in the parable of the talents.

                              2023

                              The SEC Fined the LDS Church

                              Historical Context

                              What Critics Are Saying

                              Response to Critics View

                              From 1997 to 2019 the LDS Church’s investment firm, Ensign Peak Ensign Peak cancel Ensign Peak is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ investment firm. It was established in 1997.

                              , filed its securities with the SEC under subsidiary companies, or shell companies. Ensign Peak followed the advice of lawyers while filing these forms with the SEC. The specific manner in which Ensign Peak reported its investments violated SEC rules. Ensign Peak agreed to pay a $4 million fine and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints paid a $1 million fine. When the SEC made their concerns known to the LDS Church in 2019, the church began filing its SEC forms correctly. info Information Sources: cancel https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/church-issues-statement-on-sec-settlement

                              The LDS Church intentionally failed to comply with financial reporting laws in order to hide the size of its investments.

                              • Corporate tax statutes are very complex and are open to different interpretations. The church hired tax consultants to advise them on how to best comply with the laws while at the same time maintaining the financial privacy it sought. These consultants instituted strategies they felt were compliant with the law. Regulators disagreed, which resulted in a fine.
                              • The LDS Church released this statement about the SEC fine: “Since 2000, Ensign Peak received and relied upon legal counsel regarding how to comply with its [SEC] reporting obligations while attempting to maintain the privacy of the portfolio. As a result, Ensign Peak established separate companies (LLCs) that each filed Forms 13F instead of a single aggregated filing. Ensign Peak and the church believe that all securities required to be reported were included in the filings by the separate companies.
                              • In June 2019, the SEC first expressed concern about Ensign Peak’s reporting approach. Ensign Peak adjusted its approach and began filing a single aggregated report. Since that time, 13 quarterly reports have been filed in full accordance with SEC requirements.
                              • This settlement relates to how the forms were filed previously. Ensign Peak and the church have cooperated with the government over a period of time as we sought resolution.
                              • We affirm our commitment to comply with the law, regret mistakes made, and now consider this matter closed.” info Information Sources: cancel https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/church-issues-statement-on-sec-settlement

                              2019

                              The Washington Post Published an Article About David Nielsen’s IRS Complaint

                              Historical Context

                              What Critics Are Saying

                              Response to Critics View

                              David Nielsen was employed by Ensign Peak Ensign Peak cancel Ensign Peak is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ investment firm. It was established in 1997.

                              , an investment firm owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After leaving the church, David Nielsen left Ensign Peak and filed a complaint with the IRS. Lars, David’s brother, helped him prepare the IRS complaint and provided a copy of it to the Washington Post. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.washingtonpost.com/investigations/mormon-church-has-misled-members-on-100-billion-tax-exempt-investment-fund-whistleblower-alleges/2019/12/16/e3619bd2-2004-11ea-86f3-3b5019d451db_story.html

                              According to the Post, David’s complaint said the LDS Church was misleading its members by using tithing to grow their investment fund and possibly breaching federal tax rules by propping up a pair of businesses: City Creek Mall and Beneficial Life. The Post article also stated that “No documents are provided to support this claim, which is attributed to information David Nielsen gleaned from working at the company.” If the complaints have merit, a University of Pittsburgh tax law expert said that it would raise red flags for the IRS.

                              • The same day the Washington Post published its article about David Nielsen’s complaint, the First Presidency of the LDS Church released a statement. Their statement said that the vast majority of tithing goes to the immediate cost of running the church, including building “more meetinghouses, temples, education, humanitarian work, and missionary efforts throughout the world.” They said a small portion of tithing is invested for the future, which is a sound financial principle and a doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. info Information Sources: cancel https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/first-presidency-statement-church-finances

                              2017

                              MormonLeaks Released President Henry B. Eyring’s Paystubs from 1999– 2000

                              Historical Context

                              What Critics Are Saying

                              Response to Critics View

                              MormonLeaks posted paystubs from the years 1999 and 2000. They purport to show that the yearly pay for President Henry B. Eyring was $83,132.75. According to an interview with the founder of MormonLeaks, Ryan McKnight, he stated that his objective was to present the documents, without giving any interpretation of what they meant. He said, “I'll let the viewers of this document decide if this is a modest stipend. I don't care how much they receive. It doesn't inherently reflect poorly on leaders of the church. It really applies only to the fact that it hasn't previously been disclosed." info Information Sources: cancel https://mormonleaks.io/wiki/index.php?title=File:Record_of_Payroll_or_Allowance_for_Henry_B_Eyring-1999-2000.pdf https://www.deseret.com/2017/1/10/20603771/mormonleaks-dumps-four-new-documents-about-lds-church

                              The documents showing President Eyring’s income have never been confirmed as real. If they are, they were obtained illegally at some point.

                              Some people see these paystubs as evidence that the LDS Church has a paid clergy, rather than a volunteer clergy. Others believe that the stipend given to the Mormon Church’s general authorities is excessive.

                              • The vast majority of clergy in the Mormon Church (stake presidents, bishops, relief society presidents, primary presidents etc.) don’t receive any financial compensation for their service. Instead, they fit their volunteer church service around their professional careers and home responsibilities.
                              • In contrast, those called as general authorities (the highest leadership of the church) generally give up or suspend their professional careers to fulfill their responsibilities. Because of this, a stipend or living allowance is provided to help meet any of their financial needs. In some instances, the living allowance provides far less income than the individual’s previous professional career. In other situations, the stipend allows individuals from various countries and backgrounds to serve as general authorities who otherwise wouldn’t be able to do so, due to their personal financial situations.
                              • The stipend is the same for all general authorities, no matter their calling or length of service. A spokesperson for the LDS Church, Eric Hawkins said, "None of the funds for this living allowance come from the tithing of church members, but instead from proceeds of the church's financial investments."

                              1997

                              Ensign Peak Advisors Was Formed

                              Historical Context

                              What Critics Are Saying

                              Response to Critics View

                              Ensign Peak Ensign Peak cancel Ensign Peak is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ investment firm. It was established in 1997.

                              Advisors (also called Ensign Peak) was formed and registered with the government as a supporting organization of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The purpose of Ensign Peak was, and still is, to take a small portion of tithing contributions and invest them so that the church can save money for the future.

                                1997

                                “Mormons Inc.: The Secret of America’s Most Prosperous Religion” Was Published as the Cover Story in Time Magazine

                                Historical Context

                                What Critics Are Saying

                                Response to Critics View

                                Time Magazine wrote a cover article about the finances and enterprises of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Time article projected the wealth of the LDS Church at $30 billion. The article said that if the LDS Church were a for-profit business, it would earn $5.9 billion every year. The article made this caveat: “There are richer churches than the one based in Salt Lake City: Roman Catholic holdings dwarf Mormon wealth. But the Catholic Church has 45 times as many members. There is no major church in the U.S. as active as the Latter-day Saints in economic life, nor, per capita, as successful at it.”

                                In response to the Time Magazine article, the LDS Church released a statement, clarifying that the real wealth of the church is its members. Second, it said that it believed the projected wealth of the church was exaggerated. Bruce Olsen, the managing director of LDS Public Affairs, also said that “the bulk of the Church's assets are money-consuming assets, rather than money-producing." info Information Sources: cancel https://search-ebscohost-com.byu.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=9707302962&site=ehost-live https://www.thechurchnews.com/1997/8/2/23251896/church-issues-response-to-time-magazine-story.

                                  1969

                                  LDS Church Has a Surplus For the First Time

                                  Historical Context

                                  What Critics Are Saying

                                  Response to Critics View

                                  The LDS Church’s deficits were eradicated after a period where the church had spent more than it received in tithing funds. The church’s surplus was $29.5 Million.

                                    1963 - 1964

                                    N. Eldon Tanner Was Made the First Counselor in the First Presidency and Was Given Charge Over Church Funds

                                    Historical Context

                                    What Critics Are Saying

                                    Response to Critics View

                                    President N. Eldon Tanner N. Eldon Tanner cancel N. Eldon Tanner was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 9, 1898. He moved with his family to Canada as a young boy. He grew up on a farm in Alberta, Canada. After graduating, Tanner became the principal of a school where he fell in love with Sara Isabelle Merrill. They married and had five daughters. Eventually, Tanner became the president of a petroleum company. In October of 1960, Tanner was called as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was ordained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in October 1962. He became the second counselor in the First Presidency in October 1963. He served as a counselor to President Joseph Fielding Smith, President Harold B. Lee, and President Spencer W. Kimball.

                                    became the counselor in the First Presidency of the LDS Church. He was also put in charge of church finances. He stopped all deficit spending, which had been happening for many years. This included halting construction on the new Church Office Building in Salt Lake City for five years. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.deseret.com/faith/2023/5/14/23649253/cbs-60-minutes-mormon-lds-church-finance-story-what-it-missed

                                      1950s - 1962

                                      Henry D. Moyle, Counselor in the First Presidency, Encouraged the LDS Church to Expand Its Building Projects

                                      Historical Context

                                      What Critics Are Saying

                                      Response to Critics View

                                      During President Henry D. Moyle Henry D. Moyle cancel Henry D. Moyle was born in April, 1889 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He married Clara Alberta Wright and they had six children. Moyle pursued multiple degrees in science and then a law degree. He worked in Utah in many different business and law efforts. He was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in April 1947. He worked extensively with the church’s welfare program. He became a counselor in the First Presidency in June 1959.

                                      ’s tenure as a counselor in the First Presidency, the Mormon Church built over 1,000 new church buildings as well as two new temples. By 1962, the church accrued a large debt. It spent $32 million more than it received in tithing. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.deseret.com/faith/2023/5/14/23649253/cbs-60-minutes-mormon-lds-church-finance-story-what-it-missed

                                      President Henry D. Moyle saw, and expected to see, more growth in the LDS Church membership worldwide. In anticipation of this growth, President Moyle advised the President of the church to build more chapels and two new temples throughout the world. President Moyle was correct, the church grew significantly during this period. A Deseret News article states, “Worldwide membership increased by 50% to nearly 1.7 million members from 1950-60.” However, the spending also placed the LDS Church in deep debt.

                                        1940s

                                        J. Reuben Clark Instituted a New Financial Policy

                                        Historical Context

                                        What Critics Are Saying

                                        Response to Critics View

                                        J. Reuben Clark J. Reuben Clark cancel J. Reuben Clark was born in Grantsville, Utah on September 1, 1871. He was the oldest of ten children. Grantsville only offered schooling through the eighth grade. Clark went to the University of Utah where he received his high school diploma and bachelor of science in four years, all while being the editor of the school newspaper, student body president, and secretary to the university president, Dr. James E. Talmage. Clark graduated as the valedictorian. He married Luacine Annetta Savage and had four children with her. He attended Columbia Law School and was made assistant solicitor of the U.S. State Department three months after graduation. Later, he opened a private law practice in Washington, D.C. After serving as a government lawyer in World War I, Clark became the undersecretary of state and then the U.S. ambassador to Mexico. In 1934, Clark was called to be an apostle and counselor in the first presidency of the LDS Church. He helped create the Mormon Church’s welfare program and helped balance the budget of the church. Clark died in 1961.

                                        , a counselor in the First Presidency, instituted a new financial policy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This policy only allowed the LDS Church to spend 28% of the tithing it received for church endeavors. The other funds were used to resolve the church’s debt, which it had accrued during the Great Depression.

                                          1938

                                          The LDS Church’s Deficit Spending Was Almost $900,000

                                          Historical Context

                                          What Critics Are Saying

                                          Response to Critics View

                                          Because of the worldwide Great Depression, the LDS Church spent more money than it received from tithing funds. It spent money on things like the welfare system, which supported church members who lost jobs or couldn’t afford food.

                                            1899–1907

                                            President Lorenzo Snow Asked Members to Recommit to Paying Tithing

                                            Historical Context

                                            What Critics Are Saying

                                            Response to Critics View

                                            The Mormon Church continued its cycle of solvency and debt. A period of debt began in 1893 for the church. During this time, President Lorenzo Snow Lorenzo Snow cancel Lorenzo Snow was born on April 3, 1814 in Ohio. In 1836 he was invited by his sister, Eliza R. Snow, to learn Hebrew with members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He joined the Mormon Church after his experience studying with them. Snow married his first wife in Nauvoo in 1845. He was made an apostle in 1849. Snow also served many missions across the globe. He was a missionary in the U.S. Great Britain, Italy, Malta, Palestine, and Hawaii. After the death of Wilford Woodruff, Snow served as prophet and president of the LDS Church from 1898 to 1901.

                                            asked members of the LDS Church to recommit to paying their tithing, which it seemed they were not doing. By 1901 half of the Mormon Church’s debt was paid by tithing. By 1907, the church was solvent again.

                                              1893

                                              The Panic of 1893 Began and Banks Were Drained of Much of Their Capital

                                              Historical Context

                                              What Critics Are Saying

                                              Response to Critics View

                                              Previous to the Panic of 1893, the Mormon Church had secured a loan of $500,000 from a San Francisco bank. When the Panic of 1893 began and people made a run on banks, withdrawing their money. The LDS Church’s bank (Zion’s Bank), along with many banks across the nation, were drained of their capital. Because of the economic crisis, the church could not make the payment on their $500,000 loan. Elder Heber J. Grant Heber J. Grant cancel Heber J. Grant was born on November 22, 1856, in Salt Lake City, Utah. His mother was widowed only nine days after Grant was born. Grant and his mother struggled financially, but Grant worked hard from a young age to help his mother, even becoming a bookkeeper at 15 years old. At the age of 23 Grant was called to be a stake president for the LDS Church. He was made an apostle just two years later. He served as an apostle for 36 years, 27 of which he served as prophet and president of the Mormon Church. He oversaw the church during a period of significant changes. During the Great Depression, he was president of the church and he oversaw the creation of the welfare program. Grant had a stroke in 1940 but continued to serve as president of the church until his death in 1945.

                                              , a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, went to New York City and secured a loan from an individual named John Claflin. The loan allowed the church to make the minimum payment on their loan on time. The church was saved from having to declare bankruptcy.

                                                1887

                                                The Edmunds-Tucker Act Was Passed

                                                Historical Context

                                                What Critics Are Saying

                                                Response to Critics View

                                                The Edmunds-Tucker Act was passed by the Congress of the United States. It made polygamy illegal in U.S. territories. It took the vote away from women, who were given the vote in Utah in 1870. It also dissolved the corporation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and allowed the U.S. government to seize the property of polygamists and the LDS Church if it exceeded an amount of $50,000. The U.S. government’s seizure of these properties placed the LDS Church in deep debt. info Information Sources: cancel https://archives.utah.gov/research/exhibits/Statehood/intronew.htm https://wchsutah.org/laws/edmunds-tucker-act1.php

                                                  1842

                                                  Joseph Smith Filed For Bankruptcy

                                                  Historical Context

                                                  What Critics Are Saying

                                                  Response to Critics View

                                                  Congress passed a new bankruptcy law in 1841. Under this law, Joseph Smith Joseph Smith cancel Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon. He established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.

                                                  applied for bankruptcy. He had significant personal debts and debts he acquired as the trustee of the LDS Church. Some of Smith’s debts were from building the Kirtland Temple, two Ohio mercantile firms: Cahoon, Carter and Co. and Rigdon, Smith and Co. After the expulsion of Mormons from Missouri, Smith also purchased lands in Illinois and Iowa on credit. Smith and his lawyers made several mistakes when filing for bankruptcy, including transferring property to his family members so that it wouldn’t be used to pay his creditors.

                                                  John C. Bennett, an excommunicated member of the Mormon Church, wrote an article in a local paper about Smith’s property transfers. The U.S. government investigator delayed Smith’s bankruptcy hearing to investigate the matter further. The investigator also delayed in order to examine a debt Smith owed to the U.S. government for the purchase of the steamboat Nauvoo. Many of the records about the matter were destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The bankruptcy settlement never appears to have been resolved. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/paper-summary/introduction-to-joseph-smiths-bankruptcy/1?highlight=bankruptcy

                                                    1838

                                                    Doctrine and Covenants 119-120 Were Revealed to Joseph Smith

                                                    Historical Context

                                                    What Critics Are Saying

                                                    Response to Critics View

                                                    After the economic struggles and failures of the Mormon Church in Kirtland, Ohio, the leadership of the church wanted to pay off its debts and fund a temple in Missouri. According to Joseph Smith Joseph Smith cancel Joseph Smith Jr., born on December 23, 1805, in Sharon, Vermont, was the fifth child of Joseph Smith and Lucy Mack. He had significant spiritual experiences that led him to his prophetic calling, including a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ in 1820. He translated and published the Book of Mormon. He established The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 6, 1830. As the leader of the church, he called Apostles and other leaders, defined doctrines, and guided the community's growth in Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois. Joseph Smith was martyred on June 27, 1844, in Carthage, Illinois.

                                                    , while he was pondering these questions, he received revelations about member contributions, called tithing. These revelations required church members to contribute their surplus property and “one-tenth of all their interest.” This was interpreted by Bishop Edward Partridge Edward Partridge cancel Edward Partridge was born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts on August 27, 1793. He married Lydia Clisbee in 1819. After Partridge was contacted by missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he was baptized in December of 1830. He was called to be the first bishop of the Mormon Church while living in Kirtland, Ohio in 1831. He served as bishop of the church for the rest of his life. He was tarred and feathered because of his association with the church in Jackson County, Missouri. He served as a missionary throughout many states in the U.S. He died in Nauvoo, Illinois in 1840.

                                                    to mean “10 percent of what Saints would earn in interest if they invested their net worth for a year.” Today, the Mormon Church says that “church members give one-tenth of their income” as tithing. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/revelations-in-context/the-tithing-of-my-people?lang=eng https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/tithing?lang=eng#p2

                                                      1837

                                                      The Panic of 1837 Started

                                                      Historical Context

                                                      What Critics Are Saying

                                                      Response to Critics View

                                                      An extreme economic downturn began in 1837 called the Panic of 1837. The banking industry in the United States already had problems because it was not strictly regulated. The Panic caused many banks to fail, including the Kirtland Safety Society, a bank, or joint-stock company. There were other contributing factors to the failure of the Kirtland Safety Society including a lack of investors and the fact that many of the investors were already in debt from building the Kirtland Temple. info Information Sources: cancel https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/kirtland-safety-society?lang=eng

                                                        1837

                                                        The Kirtland Safety Society Was Formed

                                                        Historical Context

                                                        What Critics Are Saying

                                                        Response to Critics View

                                                        Some important factors led the LDS Church to try to create a bank, or joint stock company. The first factor was that the Mormon Church had assets, but at this point most of these were land assets or other non-liquid assets. Secondly, the Kirtland Temple was dedicated in March of 1836, but to complete the temple, the LDS Church had accumulated debt. Leaders of the church wanted to gather more liquid assets to try and pay off their debts from the temple. They believed that the way to accomplish this was to create their own bank–the Kirtland Safety Society. Church leaders began selling shares in the Kirtland Safety Society in October of 1836. People were offering up their land and other assets as collateral. The Kirtland Safety Society was formally established on November 2, 1836.

                                                          Timeline

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