“There are religious groups that own radio stations, but they don’t also own cattle ranches. There are religious groups that own retreats, but they don’t also own insurance companies.”
~Ryan Cragun, a sociology professor at the University of Tampa
There is so much to dislike here. You’ve got a church that operates itself completely like a business. They market their business to others and sell you the benefits of their services. You have a required payment of at least 10% of your income to be a member and the church uses that estimated $8 billion in tithing each year to buy more businesses. The church is able to avoid paying all federal taxes and most state and local taxes on most of those businesses under protection of church tax laws. And to top all of that off … it’s estimated that they are using about .7% of all of their untold billions on “charity”. Seriously.
Well – at least we know that Mitt is just being a good Mormon every time he tries to avoid paying taxes with his offshore tax havens and lack of transparency on his earnings (source). Maybe this guy should run the church; he sounds tailor made.
Literally – only in America would a church like this be created. Every Mormon I’ve ever met was a genuinely awesome, decent and caring person. I can not differentiate between the insanity of the Mormon religion with that of the “religion” of Scientology. At what point can we just start calling it a cult?
Blockbuster article by Bloomberg HERE:
As a religious organization, the LDS Church enjoys several tax advantages. Like other churches, it is often exempt from paying taxes on the real estate properties it leases out, even to commercial entities, says tax lawyer David Miller, who is not Mormon. The church also doesn’t pay taxes on donated funds and holdings. Mitt Romney and others at Bain Capital, the private equity firm he co-founded in 1984, gave the Mormon Church millions’ worth of stock holdings obtained through Bain deals, according to Reuters. Between 1997 and 2009, these included $2 million in Burger King (BKW) and $1 million in Domino’s Pizza (DPZ) shares. Under U.S. law, churches can legally turn around and sell donated stock without paying capital-gains taxes, a clear advantage for both donor and receiver.
According to U.S. law, religions have no obligation to open their books to the public, and the LDS Church officially stopped reporting any finances in the early 1960s. In 1997 an investigation by Time used cross-religious comparisons and internal information to estimate the church’s total value at $30 billion. The magazine also produced an estimate that $5 billion worth of tithing flows into the church annually, and that it owned at least $6 billion in stocks and bonds. The Mormon Church at the time said the estimates were grossly exaggerated, but a recent investigation by Reuters in collaboration with sociology professor Cragun estimates that the LDS Church is likely worth $40 billion today and collects up to $8 billion in tithing each year.
Even though the Mormon church has stopped providing transparency around it’s financial holdings and balance sheets … Bloomberg reports that the Mormon church owns at least the following businesses and many more:
And with ALL of this money … not only does it not have to be shared publicly despite it’s tax shelter status … even regular Mormons have no idea where this money is going. But it doesn’t seem to be going to charity work – according to Bloomberg:
A study co-written by Cragun and recently published in Free Inquiry estimates that the Mormon Church donates only about 0.7 percent of its annual income to charity; the United Methodist Church gives about 29 percent.
And only one person OWNS all of these unknown billions in businesses and corporations. Only one person is the sole shareholder with complete control of ALL these businesses. That person is the head of the Mormon Church - Thomas S. Monson. Mormons consider him to be a living prophet; myself – I consider him to be a living profit.
Andrew Sullivan chimes in HERE:
If you were to construct a religion as a business, it would be hard to beat the LDS Church. From its mandatory tithing for access to sacred Temples to its spiritual blessing on business and wealth accumulation and its tax-friendly admixture of for-profit and not-for-profit enterprises, it is the Prosperity Gospel with better accountants. And that makes it the quintessential religion for America – giving the New World a place in the Gospels, bringing the Garden of Eden to Missouri, and providing a divine blessing for American free enterprise. All it needs is a president of the United States to broaden its appeal in a fusion of faith and country. It’s been trying since Joseph Smith ran for the highest office in the land – not a typical path for a “spiritual” leader. Now, as the unofficial religion of American capitalism in its least regulated and most rapacious form, it has its chance.
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