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Comments about ‘Another 'bumper year' on LDS Church farms, ranches’

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Published: Tuesday, Dec. 31 2013 9:45 a.m. MST

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The Taxman
Los Angeles, CA

Everything I have said is true and although some posters have seen fit to attack me, nobody has refuted anything I said or offered any evidence to the contrary. If you do the smallest amount of research on your own you can confirm that the holdings are vast (and increasing) and only a small fraction of the billions in "yield" make their way to a storehouse.

For example, according to BusinessWeek (you can easily find the article) Church-owned agribusinesses own about 1 million acres in the continental U.S. alone. That is more land than the entire state of Rhode Island. The Church also has farm operations in Britain, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.

Now as to the claims that I am a hater. If you carefully read what I said above, my primary "beef" is with how misleading this article (published by the Church-owned newspaper) is. Misdirection and secrecy is what I do not like. Openness and honesty (and the light of day) are best. Peace.

portlander
Arlington, WA

"O ye of little faith!"

NightOwlAmerica
SALEM, OR

Care to talk about how much property Monsanto owns and it's business dealings Taxman? How about the Catholic Church?
You are just bitter because the LDS church, and others are tax exempt. In addition, the LDS church does not expand holdings to spend all and have nothing in the end. They save, just like we are taught to save.

You claim that only a small fraction is used on storehouses. But actually your gripe is with the church holdings. Interesting that you don't bring up money used for many other needs like wheelchairs, water pumps & systems, disaster aid flown around the world, teaching, construction of irrigation systems, buildings and other in under developed and developing countries. The list goes on.

BTW - I know an engineering student that returned from a mission in Nigeria three years ago. Guess what? He has sent there to manage and construct irrigation systems. Where do you think the money came from? that's right, the church. Prosyliting was only a small part of his service there.

Swimmer
Honeyville, UT

Taxman, the article was not misleading. It was about the Church welfare farm system. The corporate farming system is completely different. But your claim that the Church does not pay taxes on the corporate holdings is false. Those are for profit enterprises and pay taxes.

The problem here is your fundamental misunderstanding of the Church's welfare system. Also, while you assert that everything you have said is true and claim that those attacking your claims have not cited to any evidence in support, you haven't either. The Business Week article is about the for profit holdings, not the welfare holdings. You need to get better informed before going on a rant about the Church's holdings.

Also, what is so sinister about the Church owning property? Why is that even an issue? The last time a checked, the U.S. Constitution allows ownership of property. The Church produces large amounts of meat and produce for consumption by the people of this and other countries. How is that evil? Explain your sinister spin.

1.96 Standard Deviations
OREM, UT

portlander-

Just some information: President Hinckley indicated the opposite -- the church could not operate without tithing. You can confirm this by reviewing his conference talk in April 1991 - "The State of the Church." Under Question 10, he said:

"We have a few income-producing business properties, but the return from these would keep the Church going only for a very brief time. Tithing is the Lord’s law of finance. [...]"

Also, another good talk about the matter is President Hinckley's, October 1999 talk - "Why We Do Some of the Things We Do." A tidbit from President Hinckley:

"Are these businesses operated for profit? Of course they are. They operate in a competitive world. They pay taxes. They are important citizens of this community. And they produce a profit, and from that profit comes the money which is used by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Foundation to help with charitable and worthwhile causes in this community and abroad and, more particularly, to assist in the great humanitarian efforts of the Church"

The 2nd talk also address why the church gets involved in legislative matters if you are curious. It's a very good read if you ask me.

1aggie
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Swimmer,

"But your claim that the Church does not pay taxes on the corporate holdings is false."

Please tell us where was this claim was made by Taxman?

Now let me see if I understand your post properly. The Church has organized its affairs into two discrete units. One is a small (in asset size) welfare unit which it publicizes a lot. The other is one of the largest agribusinesses (in asset size) in the world which the Church does not publicize at all. The one makes very little and the other makes billions. If this is correct, then I do not wonder that people are confused. Perhaps if more openness were employed people would not be so confused. But of course people might be able to look beyond the compartmentalization tactic and question why so many billions in assets are being socked away by a Church while there is so much current need in the world. Ultimately the question is not one of legality, but rather propriety.

fani
wj, UT

@ Truthseeker & Taxman
"There are many claims made about the success of LDS Welfare, yet, there are few to no statistics available. The LDS church is a blackhole of information..."

Why waste your time and efforts paying your tithing and other offerings if you have the above questions? The law of tithing is between god and the tithe payer period, nobody else. If you don't have the faith in the people that process your tithing and other offerings, you should not waste your time paying because questions above belong to someone with no faith in this law.

Most people that believe in the law of tithing view tithing as god property. My job is to pay it and that is the end of my involvement. Those that are entrusted by the church/god to make good use of that "god's property" will have to answer to god themselves. If you believe that tithing belongs to god, why waste your time tracking something ain't yours. If you don't believe that tithing is god's money, why even waste your time discussing something you don't believe in?

Vanceone
Provo, UT

Look, "Taxman" obviously thinks that the LDS church shouldn't own these properties. Why, I'm not sure. Perhaps he wants to turn them over to the government, where they will be managed far better--just like our healthcare is far better off under Obama, right? Only a net 3 million more unemployed after obamacare than before!

Lyle
Springville, UT

I remember cleaning out the hog pens, back when they had a pork operation in P.G. or Lindon. I actually miss working there-- being a farmer for a day!

1aggie
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

Fani asks a Fair question, but this article is not about tithing. If the Church chooses to boast of its "bumper crop" through the newspaper it owns and goes further to say "welfare officials look to 2014 for more opportunities to feed those in need", then I think the door should be open to explore the subject a little.

For example, I think it fair to explore why most of the assets are segregated into a separate unit that seems to be off-limits (i.e., not available) for helping those in need.

I also think it is generally fair to ask questions because our leaders are human and freely admit to making mistakes. Finally, I think it's fair to ask for disclosure, you know, reporting back to the members, as required by D&C 26:2. I don’t know why certain people seem to be against disclosure given that blind obedience has been responsible for so much folly in this world.

Herbert Gravy
Salinas, CA

Golly gee, now I don't know if I have "blind obedience" or faith. Maybe "Taxman" or someone else can help me?

Arizona1
Tucson, AZ

To "The Taxman's" response to evidence about his claims: Several people posting have asked for evidence about your initial claims. You gave absolutely no evidence, rather you simply said people that do a little basic searching can find it themselves and that no one has been able to disprove your so-called evidence.

Everyone knows that the Church owns a lot of property--the article itself said that, so your Business Week article used to support your original post is laughable support for some of your original claims. Furthermore, if the Church is so secretive about all of this--hiding it from everyone--please enlighten us about your sources and their credibility.

Also, the numbers in the article about production seemed fairly straightforward. Is the Church cloaking those numbers too? Please enlighten us, because the claim that no one has disproved your claims is downright silly. Imagine if our justice system ran that way. Let's not bother about evidence; lets just make outlandish claims about non-existent evidence, and if no one bothers to provide evidence to prove that the non-existent evidence is fake, then it must be true.

J-TX
Allen, TX

"A short time later, the professor sent Sperry a copy of his case study on the LDS Church welfare agricultural projects.
“He wrote that there is nothing like this anywhere on earth — it’s unique,” said Sperry."

It would be nice to have a link to the report / case study, or where we could read it.

ulvegaard
Medical Lake, Washington

When I read the headline, regarding another 'bumper year' for crops -- it made me reflect upon Joseph's experiences with Egypt and the seven years of plenty; followed by seven years of famine. I would be interested to know how many years of bumper crops there have been to date?

Baccus0902
Leesburg, VA

Taxman is entitled to have his opinion and concerns. Actually, I think is always "healthy' to have an inquisitive mind that wants to know more about a subject that is so dear to so many people.

Personally, yes I did my share of volunteering in a church owned farm. Good memories and happy times.

The welfare program of the church is one of the programs that I find very noble and uplifting.

Going back to Taxman, I think a more open system of information about church finances wouldn't hurt.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

re:fani
"Why waste your time and efforts paying your tithing and other offerings if you have the above questions?"

God depends on mortal/fallible men.

Would the Church ever have come into existence without someone questioning the status quo?
What society progressed without someone questioning the status quo?

Speaking in general terms, insularity and deeply entrenched organizations overtime can lead to an unhealthy group-think numbing and acceptance of the status quo that can harm the long-term life of the organization itself. Questioning is healthy.

I reject the view that one should not question. Ultimately, paying tithing is a choice. One can make the choice to pay tithing despite concerns and questions while others may choose not to pay because of concerns and questions. But to suggest that questioning in and of itself is a waste of time or evidence of an absence of faith is just wrong.

Previously the Church was forthcoming regrading financial records. Not so now. Why?

Holding up the church as the premier example of charity/welfare is wrong.
#1 there is little to no public data to substantiate the claims.
#2 it is prideful, boastful and ignorant of work done by other organizations/denominations.

Owen
Heber City, UT

"The Church produces large amounts of meat ... for consumption by the people of this and other countries. How is that evil?"

Unless those people are starving to death, it is evil for them to consume meat. Those are the bounds set in LDS scripture. Or put another way, if killing animals for meat is a necessary evil, it must be necessary or it is evil.

Juan Figuroa
Seattle, WA

Spent four hours at the Bishop's Storehouse last month. Spent the entire time racing to restock shelves as an unending line of poor people stripped them bare. Exhausting.

There's a heck of a lot of food (and toilet paper and tampons) going through that door. And we're in an area that's doing well economically. I can't imagine how much food the Church is distributing in harder-hit locales.

Truthseeker
SLO, CA

Re:JuanFiguroa
There are 6 bishop storehouses to serve the entire state of Washington, so i would presume many coming through those doors traveled a fair distance. Here in CA it is the same. Our nearest storehouse is over 2 hrs away, requiring members/leaders to travel 4-5 hrs roundtrip to pick up food orders.

Here's a statistic:
The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported in 2012 that on itemized tax returns, Utahns contributed $2.4 billion to charity.
What percent of that was tithing?

Utes Fan
Salt Lake City, UT

Accountability of Church finances is a reasonable thing to do. However, most of the time, it is critics who are asking for more openness in the Church finances, and we know that critics have one agenda - to unfairly attack the LDS Church and portray it in the most negative light possible. That is a big reason why some people seem to be so defensive of the Church and its privacy concerning its finances - they know critics don't have good intentions. With this in mind, if indeed the LDS Church was more open about its finances, critics would call out the Church on every dime spent, and in some cases, the leaders/financial representatives of the Church might have to take time to respond, wasting time that could be spent on doing things like, you know, helping others, serving the needs of the members, and yes, (contrary to critics' opinions that the Church doesn't help the poor), helping with humanitarian issues and the needs of the poor.

I myself wouldn't mind more openness, but NOT to satisfy questionable demands of critics. With that, I think the Church is forced to continue doing exactly what it has been doing.

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