In response to concerns about how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses its donations from members, the church released statements Friday further detailing how tithes are used.
“Claims being currently circulated are based on a narrow perspective and limited information. The Church complies with all applicable law governing our donations, investments, taxes, and reserves. We continue to welcome the opportunity to work with officials to address questions they may have,” the church said in a statement earlier this week.
To show transparency, the church added additional information by delineating how sacred tithes and offerings are used.
“The Church is committed to helping the poor and needy,” the statement said. “Latter-day Saint Charities is a global program that primarily benefits those who are not Latter-day Saints. In times of need and during other emergencies, we partner with many global organizations like the Red Cross to provide assistance.”
Earlier in the week, after accusations were made by a whistleblower to the IRS and Washington Post that $100 billion in church donations were not being used, the church’s First Presidency issued the following statements.
“We take seriously the responsibility to care for the tithes and donations received from members. The vast majority of these funds are used immediately to meet the needs of the growing Church including more meetinghouses, temples, education, humanitarian work and missionary efforts throughout the world. Over many years, a portion is methodically safeguarded through wise financial management and the building of a prudent reserve for the future. This is a sound doctrinal and financial principle taught by the Savior in the Parable of the Talents and lived by the Church and its members. All Church funds exist for no other reason than to support the Church’s divinely appointed mission.”
The most recent annual report shows that the humanitarian arm of the church has given more than $2.2 billion in aid in 197 countries since it was created in 1985.
President Russell M. Nelson spoke in the October General Conference about some of these efforts.
“In addition, through the Church’s welfare program, leaders of the faith’s 30,000-plus congregations regularly help men, women and children with food, housing and other temporal needs, totaling billions more dollars in assistance,” the statement said.
Other uses of donations go to build the church’s temples.
“The Church is heavily focused on the doctrinal principle of connecting families across generations,” the church statement said. “This spiritual work is done in 217 announced or operating temples, an effort supported by the faith’s nonprofit family history organization, FamilySearch, which also freely offers its genealogical resources to anyone.”
The church also funds facilities, education and activity programs for 30,500 congregations, including building meetinghouses that serve as spaces for community education, family history research and emergency response.
The church also supports missionary work around the globe. At present, more than 65,000 Latter-day Saint missionaries are preaching, according to church statistics. That effort requires significant financial support from the church beyond personal or family contributions.
There are 400 missions that include mission homes, apartments, offices and automobiles that are all funded by the church.
The church statement also talked about the investments in education.
“The Church believes that both secular and spiritual learning are eternal, and it invests significant financial resources in education,” the statement said. “The Church’s Seminaries and Institutes program provides daily religious instruction to some 400,000 high school students and 300,000 university students each year. The Church provides higher education opportunities globally through its expansive PathwayConnect program, which paves the way to a university degree for those with limited opportunities or resources. And the Church operates several universities and a business college serving a combined 93,000 students.”
All of these things are supported by the worldwide church and donations to it.
“The Church follows the same sound financial principles it teaches its membership. It avoids debt, lives within its budget and prepares for the future.”