Reuters probes LDS Church Wealth

A story out by Reuters today focuses in on LDS Church finances, expanding one of the most important lines of investigative reporting of this Mormon moment.

The LDS Church brings in about $7 billion annually from donors.

“Most of the revenue of the religion is from the U.S., and a large percentage comes from an elite cadre of wealthy donors, like Mitt Romney,” said sociologist Ryan Cragun, who conducted research for the story with Reuters. “(It) is a religion that appeals to economically successful men by rewarding their financial acuity with respect and positions of prestige within the religion.”

The story also focuses on the LDS Church strategy of buildling high-cost temples around the world, as compared to Seventh-Day Adventist strategy of building less expensive, smaller meetinghouses and humanitarian facilities, including hospitals. According to Reuters, Adventist growth rates are three times LDS growth rates.

LDS Church finanical records from nations like Canada and Australia, which require more openness in charitable reporting, were used for the story.

For its part, the LDS Church has responded to questions about its commitment to humanitarian giving by emphasizing member contributions to humanitarian relief, as it did this week at the Deseret News.

 

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Joanna Brooks is the author of The Book of Mormon Girl: A Memoir of an American Faith (Free Press / Simon & Schuster, 2012) and a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches.