My father worked for the church construction department in the 80's.
Temples are a way for stakeholders to receive dividends. If you research who the contractors are, it is always leadership-owned comanies like Zwigg (the 70), and others that hold shell companies (Romneys, MCKonckies, Farnsworths, Oaks, etc).
They launder millions and get paid as members gush about the new temples and it helps to build faith in the church. The church can get away with convincing members that it is growing, a REQUIREMENT to maintain the illusion of faith.
Chapels on the other hand work this way: in the US and a FEW other countries they make money. A lot of money..or at least they use to. The goal is that each chapel in Utah for example will have 4 wards and each ward is to collect 250K in tithing a month, so 1 mil per chapel per month, so they put chapels everywhere! Think of them as franchises with little overhead, no product and no taxes to pay.
The ward is given a set amount for each member based on the average attendance at sacrament for a 3 month period. So as an example a ward with $7 per head times 200 in attendance would get 1,400 a month.
This is just the beginning. The bishop then orders all the hymnals, manuals, chairs etc from the church, most of the money goes back to SLC this way. Hence the shrinkage of auxiliary expenditures that do not go back to SLC: scouts, a paid custodian, etc
So SLC ends up with most of the money and it has been laundered.
The gains cover costs for units in areas where they will never be profitable (poor areas of the world), where, even if members pay 10%, they can't cover the light bill. Hence why the church has ordered a slow down in Africa and other fast-growing areas.
But temples are a quick way to get a lot of cash to a lot of supporters, hence why so many are build in Utah, its not the lord wanting to save a member a 12 minute drive, its that the costs of building outside of Utah is a lot less profitable.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/09/2019 05:37PM by sb.
This forces a question, and points towards one answer, "Up at the very, very top, do the leaders really BELIEVE all this nonsense?"
The question has been debated extensively on this Board, with answers ranging from "No way!" to "Yes, they're brainwashed enough that they really do," with various answers in the gray area in between. Your "faith (UN-)affirming anecdotes and insights, sb, suggest they do not.
Rather than debate the "they do/they don't" continuum, I'd be interested in hearing other people's thoughts on the money flow.
Would this have anything to do with why Utah is one of the few solvent states in the US? I don't have many Utah friends who make big salaries. Utah always used to be such a poor state. But if all the monies from temples and chapels (especially tithing) around the US and the world has to be filtered through church headquarters in SLC, I'd bet a lot of Utah shell corporations are spending lots of money in Utah and keeping the state afloat if not booming.
What would happen if tithing stayed mainly in the communities where it was generated? If each congregation kept their tithing and sent a stipend to Church Headquarters, SLC might be a very different city.
These were questions that hit me the last time I was in Utah (2011). I was stunned at the wealth that was surrounded by poverty. It didn't make sense. This money was no way being generated by business within the state. The Mormon church opulence was sickening. It was so obvious it was all coming from the outside.
I'd been a mormon for decades and had never attended in such fancy church buildings. I lived in a major west coast city that had ONE very ugly temple. There was no way Utah could afford all this fancy church stuff without collecting money from the outside.
I'm guessing if the church folded from outside of Utah, the state of Utah would crash and burn. All of the opulence that was obviously coming from outside of the state made me sick.
If you look at most church budgets, perhaps 5-10% of donated funds goes to church headquarters. In the Mormon church, all of the money goes to church headquarters with only a very small amount being given back to the wards for activities. And as I stated elsewhere on this thread, the church only needs a fraction of that donated money to run itself.
So I agree, there is a lot of money flowing into Utah that should rightly stay within the members' communities. Canada also sends a huge amount of tithing money to the U.S. each year (which goes to BYU as that is the only legal way to get donated funds out of the country.) What, there isn't need within Canada?
To be fair, it is LEGAL money laundering. Mormons know all the ins-and-outs of not paying taxes so they have many ways to skip around the U.S. tax code.
My TBM father (who died 2 years ago) was a general contractor and he put in a bid for the San Diego Temple. He figured he would get the contract because he was a good friend with the architect, Bill Lewis. He even remodeled Bill's house in Del Mar.
Anyway, the deadline for the Bids came and went and the project was awarded to an out-of-state (from Utah) firm who WAY UNDERBID everyone else's bid. Like millions of dollars shorter. It was a scheme to ensure that particular company got the contract. They probably could do that because they knew ways to make their money in the end with change orders and the like. Super fishy and probably sort of illegal though I'm sure this was just an understanding that the church had with its minion construction company. They could deny any collusion and give the bid to their own company. Slimeballs.
Sorry but I hear the term money laundering thrown around a lot here and it's obvious that people don't know what it really means. I would advise everyone to google the term.
Money laundering is the process of taking dirty money--money from illegal activities--and disguising it as legitimate funds that can be put into the financial system. Are people saying drug cartels are infusing large amounts of their cash into the Church as tithing/offerings?
That being said. We all know the grifters who run TSCC are into many different forms of financial shenanigans, kickbacks, sweetheart deals, nepotism, even downright tax evasion, but I just don't see money laundering going on in the scenarios described above.
Sorry if this seems pedantic, but my job is sort of in this area.
This is actually sort of the opposite of money laundering. Taking clean money (tax exempt money donated to a charity) and using pointless schemes to siphon the money to private pockets. The classic example of this kind of graft is Tammany Hall.
I know two of the Mormon owners of those huge construction companies, and I've always suspected the same thing praydude is talking about. Granting the jobs to pre-selected Mormon relatives of certain GA's. It's much like the policy Utah Mormon businesses have of advertising job openings to the public in the newspaper, and ending up awarding the job to the CEO's son, as originally planned.
I think this is their way of pretending to open up jobs to minorities and women. Oh yes, Mormons are experts at getting around the rules.
I agree with sb, the OP.
I also agree that the GA's know it's false. My GA relative admitted to not believing some of it; for example the 3 degrees of glory in the Mormon's stratified, exclusive heaven. He didn't agree with polygamy in the hereafter, or in any context--just, no. I believe that the GA's delude themselves that the cult is actually helping people. They can twist their thinking to accommodate any absurdity. I believe most of the GA's to be borderline insane, the way they think. My relative just got too old and sick to continue, yet, the cult beat him like a dead horse. He loved his family, and sports, and the outdoors, but he was not a happy person.
I read that the average church donation in the U.S. is under 3% (of a family's income) per year. That means that most churches run just fine on under 3%. And with that money, most of those churches pay salaries (ministers, assistant ministers, youth ministers, office assistants, custodians, groundskeepers, organists, etc.) The salaries can easily be half of a church's budget.
Ten percent is at least triple what the Mormon church needs to run. Yes, some of it goes to missions, and some of it goes to the BYUs. But there is still a lot of disposable income left over for the church to spend and invest. Hence the stock portfolios, the businesses, and the never-ending temple construction projects.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/10/2019 05:53AM by summer.
Of course I'm no expert but I think that building temples isn't costing a lot of money. where most of the questionable expenditures happen is with CES. Right now the church is re filming their ancient scriptures for educational reasons. There are hundreds on the payroll, lots of young white boys dressed up like Indians/lamanites, and of course every 10 seconds of 2nd rate flim has to be processed by all the different commitees at headquarters. And every member of every committee has to get a generous benefits package not to mention a competitive wage.
The expenditures are like the US government sending a troop of soldiers into some foreign country to perform some mission with all kinds of tools, accommodations, training specialists, chapplins everywhere, food, housing, etc.
If building all these temples isn’t a huge cost to the mormon corporation, then it is a lot wealthier than any of us ever imagined. I mean, they are like palaces. I remember the celestial room at the London temple had gold stuff everywhere. And we are not just talking one building either, they building lots of them. Plus the land has to be bought too.
I think it is more likely a very expensive undertaking.
Spending money on temples converts tax-free money into taxable money. Money going to contractors is all taxable. If you want to call that money laundering, knock yourself out, but it is an odd definition of the term.
If construction is just an excuse to siphon money to contractors, why aren't they taking every meetinghouse with two or more wards in it, and building individual meetinghouses for every ward? Lot's of opportunities for construction there.
You can't argue on the one hand that they are too cheap to build more meetinghouses, and on the other hand that temples are built to siphon money out of the church coffers. Which is it, folks? Both can't be true.
IMHO, temples are built because local temples increase local tithing income, so people qualify for a TR. Period.
I would bet Ted's observation may be more accurate: namely, that the church announces and builds temples to give the illusion of growth.
I don't have any inside information about whether temples are significantly net positive in terms of the bottom line; but if they are, the increment must be decreasing now that they are building so many in poor countries and in areas already replete with such edifices. Perhaps the more important financial advantage is stopping the hemorrhaging that would ensue if people realized growth is stagnant or negative.
Yes, I think temples also have a "billboard effect", both for members and the world at large. "Look at how rich, successful and dynamic we are". They are a form of advertising.
I also imagine that having members regularly repeat their temple obligations/promises will make it psychologically more difficult for them to walk away from Mormonism.
What I don't buy is that temples are a construction scam to siphon out money. If that were the case, all construction would be a siphoning opportunity, and they are real penny-pinchers when it comes to building and operating ward houses.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/13/2019 10:30AM by Brother Of Jerry.
Land is only a good investment if you can sell it at a profit. So far zero temple lot's have been sold. Plus they all have buildings on them that would need to be demolished at considerable expense.
The tax free status of the lot lowers operating cost, but it affects resale value of the land not at all. The new tax status of the land depends solely on who purchases it.
In short, I'm not buying the claim that somehow the temple properties are in any sense great real estate investments. Sure, in theory the land has some resale value. In practice, none of it is being sold, so resale value, whatever it is, is irrelevant.
I agree. This makes the most sense to me. It goes along with my other comment, that the mormon corporation has enough money that it can pretty much throw it away, or else the income in tithing is so much that it compensates for the cost. If not, and they are making a loss, then they really are desperate to keep the existing members brainwashed temple goers.
I find it hard to believe that income in tithing is greater than the cost of so many temples. But then, maybe some mormons are super rich, and perhaps I just have trouble imagining large amounts of money.
Where I grew up, back before the whole "Members, clean your own toilets!" policy, janitorial services for chapels were provided by Facilities Maintenance, which I thought was administered directly by SLC (our FM group covered the whole Puget Sound region IIRC). People like janitors weren't hired by wards directly.
Also, hymnals, chairs and other supplies were building-specific, not ward-specific: the ward doesn't have its own hymnals and chairs, the building with multiple wards does. So individual wards aren't buying those things, right? Unless the several wards in a building pool their funds to purchase them.
I think there are several thoughts on this thread, including some offered by the OP, that could be several separate threads and don't necessarily support the topic. TSCC is like a traditional 'brick and mortar' business with no product (temple blessings / promises) purchase opportunities other than physically going into the store (temple). There's no on-ine offering where I stream the endowment into my home - if I want the best products that TSCC offers I have to get my arse into the temple and this analogy, quite frankly, is why temples are critical not only to the revenue stream but to continue the indoctrination of the membership throughout life. More temples in Utah is like Kroger building brick and mortar grocery stores in as many geographic regions as possible to maintain (operative word) market share. If the customer base increases then so be it and count that as an 'extra'. If a Kroger store is within five or ten minutes from my house I may be more likely to go to Kroger vs driving across town for a slightly better deal @ Costco. Back to TSCC, it will be interesting to see if the 2019 growth stat drops below last year's 1.21%. In addition to revenue stream protection and member indoctrination, temple building is a last ditch effort to revive a severely, severely damaged brand. What else do they have? Meet the Mormons? Rusty and his fellow charlatans know they've lost the fight in many areas of the world - and now they'll double down on keeping active pockets of the church as active as possible. Give the sheep more temple eye candy and they may just be successful.
My question would be, do they get their return from tithing payments, or make a profit or a loss from building temples to keep the members going (and paying)? I guess we’ll never know. But it does seem really desperate, given how expensive it must be to build them. So I’d agree; building all these temples is a sing the mormon church is in trouble, but also that they also have a lot of money to throw around.
I'm no finance major but this sounds a bit like a Ponzi scheme. Take the money coming in from the dwindling membership donations and pump it into a visual reminder that the corporation is prospering. I'm assuming temples are built with tax free dollars and not from income generated by the for profit side of LDS, Inc.
If the Mormon Church keeps building expensive to build temples on expensive to buy land with diminishing returns from tithing due to membership declines, won't the whole thing collapse eventually? Just building a temple cannot possibly be enough to get a member questioning the validity of Joseph Smith and the Bof M to stop thinking and just keep praying and paying, at least not in the long term. This will only work in the short term. Plus, most people are bored out of their gourd going to the temple repeatedly. And is seeing a gleaming white temple in your neighborhood really going to make one think about joining or reactivating? It might get active spouses to guilt their partner and children into being TR holders (tithing payers) for awhile but then what?
I suppose the only way to really know what is going on is for LDS, Inc to make their financial records transparent. Like that would ever happen.