The statement addresses church ownership of for-profit businesses, which began during its pioneer period as it established certain necessary businesses. Through the years, many of those businesses, such as Zion's Bank and the LDS Hospital system, have been sold, donated to the community or discontinued.
"Today, the church's business assets support the church's mission and principles by serving as a rainy day fund," the statement says. "Agricultural holdings now operated as for-profit enterprises can be converted into welfare farms in the event of a global food crisis. Companies such as KSL Television and the Deseret News provide strategically valuable communication tools."
Bushman said "the church wants these businesses to be self-sufficient and not a drain on tithing resources, but their overriding purpose is religious more than economic."
The statement indicates that the church's tithing funds are used to support what it calls "five key areas of activity":
- Providing meetinghouses as places of worship. "We have thousands of such buildings and continue to open more, sometimes several in a week," the statement said.
- Programs for the religious education of high school and college-age students.
- Supporting the church's international missionary program.
- Building and operating nearly 140 temples around the world and administering the world's largest and most extensive family history program.
- Supporting the church's welfare and humanitarian programs around the world, which serve "both members of the church as well as those who are not members."
"Such comparisons simply do not hold up," the statement says. "For instance, a corporation's branch offices or retail outlets have to be financially justified as a source of profit. But every time (the church) builds a place of worship, the building becomes a consumer of assets and a financial obligation that has to be met through worldwide member donations. The ongoing maintenance and upkeep, utilities and use of the building can only be achieved as long as faithful members continue to support the church."
The church addressed efforts to determine how much of the church's total income is used to care for the poor and needy. "Again," the statement says, "they rarely capture the whole picture," including the work of "nearly 30,000 bishops who oversee their respective congregations (and) have direct access to church funds to care for those in need, as they help members achieve self-sufficiency."
The church's objective in its welfare efforts "is to help individuals to overcome temporal barriers as they pursue spiritual values," the statement says.
In news stories such as the recent Bloomberg Businessweek cover story, the published numbers relate only to the church's humanitarian outreach and "do not reflect the church's extensive welfare and employment service that serve many thousands worldwide."
"They also do not represent Deseret Industries thrift stores that provide vouchers to other charities for their use; donations to food pantries; or humanitarian–or-welfare-focused missionary service or support given to aid other relief organizations and their missions," the statement said.
"Those who attempt to define the church as an institution devoted to amassing monetary wealth miss the entire point," the statement concludes. "The church's purpose is to bring people to Christ and to follow his example by lifting the burdens of those who are struggling. The key to understanding the church is not to see it as a worldwide corporation, but as millions of faithful members in thousands of congregations across the world following Christ and caring for each other and their neighbors."
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