With The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appearing more frequently in the news, many people wonder how the church raises money and what the money is used for. Here is a look at some of those areas. The list is compiled from a recent statement from the LDS Church.
In the early days of the LDS Church, Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon from gold plates.
Once the translation was complete, the work of printing began, but it came with a cost.
Martin Harris, one of the founding members of the LDS Church, mortgaged his farm to pay the printer, according to an article from the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship at BYU.
The cost of printing was $3,000, which is $124,867.46 in 2012 dollars, according to an online inflation calculator.
On a number of occassions, early church members were forced to leave their homes, farms and cottages to flee attackers.
They were driven from Kirtland, Ohio, Independence, Mo. and Nauvoo, Ill., before making the trek west to the Rocky Mountains.
When Brigham Young announced the church's departure to the Rocky Mountains, many members were already impoverished.
Many had to use carts that were driven by hand because they couldn't afford wagons.
Early church members started building communities in the Rocky Mountains, with Salt Lake being the epicenter of Mormon activity.
Many services were not available in the area, so the LDS Church started for-profit businesses in the Intermountain West area.
According to a statement from the LDS Church, Brigham Young once said that if early members of the Mormon faith remained unbothered for 10 years in their new Rocky Mountain home, then they would have been an independent people.
"Complete financial independence and freedom from debt would take several decades, however," said LDS leaders in a statement. "Historians today point to the early 1900s as the time when the church finally began to turn the corner and free itself from decades of indebtedness — specifically highlighting a sermon by church President Lorenzo Snow in which he called on the Latter-day Saints to renew their commitment to the principle of tithing."
Church members in southern Utah were struggling with droughts and failed crops when then-LDS Church President Lorenzo Snow addressed them on May 8, 1899, according to an LDS Church News article.
Snow then gave a talk, considered revelation by Latter-day Saints, in which he urged the people of St. George, Utah, to pay one-tenth, or a tithe, of their incomes.
Members of the LDS faith pay a tenth, or a tithe, of their earnings to the church.
According to the statement from the LDS Church, operations and management are funded entirely by tithing and not businesses or investments.
The church's statement on its finances breaks down tithing spending into five main categories:
- Providing buildings or places of worship for members around the world. "We have thousands of such buildings and continue to open more, sometimes several in a week."
- Providing education programs, including support for universities and seminary and institute programs.
- Supporting the church’s worldwide missionary program.
- Building and operating nearly 140 temples around the world and the administration of the world’s largest family history program.
- Supporting the church’s welfare programs and humanitarian aid, which serve people around the world — both members of the church as well as those who are not members.
The church maintains 28,784 different congregations, known as wards and branches, though not all have their own individual buildings.
There are nearly 140 temples, or places of special worship for Latter-day Saints, around the world.
All buildings and temples have upkeep costs.
The church owns four main colleges and universities in the U.S. Those include BYU, BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii and LDS Business College.
On top of costs from higher education, the tithing dollars are used to pay for high school, college and adult religion courses.
Tithing money goes towards funding for missionary efforts worldwide, according to the church's statement.
The funding helps support the more than 55,000 full-time missionaries around the world.
FamilySearch.org, a free database of genealogical information, is owned and operated by the LDS Church.
Tithing funds go toward name indexing efforts, which helps make digitized records searchable.
Tithing dollars are used to feed the poor and hungry around the world, according to the church's statement.
The aid is given to Mormons and non-Mormons alike.
The General Church Welfare Committee was established in 1939 by Heber J. Grant, then-President of the LDS Church.
“The aim of the church is to help the people to help themselves. Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership," Grant said, according to lds.org.
Welfare Square, which was created in 1939 during the Great Depression, contains a 178-foot-tall grain elevator, a large storehouse, a bakery, a cannery, a milk-processing operation, a thrift store and an employment center.
“At Welfare Square in Salt Lake City, where the Church cans goods for its distribution warehouses, some procedures would be more efficient if automated," the church said in a statment. "Instead, the church has opted for more labor-intensive production lines that provide opportunities for people to give service and for welfare recipients to work for what they get. This is not the pattern of a commercial business, but it is the pattern for helping people to help themselves.”
A bishops' storehouse is an LDS building where food is stored for those in need.
Church leaders, specifically bishops, have access to the storehouse for those in their congregation who are in need of provisions.
The first central bishops' storehouse was set up in 1937.
Deseret Industries, a thrift store owned by the LDS Church, first opened in 1938.
The thrift stores operate similar to Goodwill Industries, in that it also helps employees enter the workforce.
LDS Social Services, which later became LDS Family Services, was founded in 1973 under the direction of Welfare Services.
The organization provides everything from adoption services to individual and family counseling.
The church started its Humanitarian Services program in 1985 to help serve those in need inside and outside of the faith.
LDS Charities, the LDS Humanitarian Center and Mormons Helping Hands all fall under the Humanitarian Services program.
Its seven main focuses are emergency response, clean water, neonatal resucitaiton training, vision care, wheelchairs, food production and immunizations.
Church volunteers provided relief in response to 119 disasters in 58 countries, according to lds.org.
The LDS Church works to set up wells and clean water systems in communities around the world.
Between 2002 and 2010, the church provided more than 7.5 million people with clean water.
Since 2002, the church has provided Train-the-trainer programs for resuscitation skills and equipment for nurses, doctors and midwives.
More than 193,000 health care workers have been trained.
Low vision and blindness affects more than 300 million people worldwide, according to lds.org.
The LDS Church has benefitted more than 550,000 people through its vision program.
Humanitarian programs has helped more than 415,000 people recieve wheelchairs since 2002.
Training for caregivers, support for repair and maintenance and fitting of the wheelchair devices are also provided.
Training and tools are provided to needy families for improved food production.
Humanitarian Services has helped nearly 40,000 people with food production.
The church's financial contributions and combined efforts from the Ministries of health, the World Health Organization and 59,000 local church volunteers have led to a 92 percent reduction in measles deaths in Africa and 78 percent worldwide.
That totals to an estimated 4.3 million lives saved.