Things Financial Transparency Would Reveal About the Church, Ranked.

In response to Ronan’s recent post about financial transparency, Steve and I looked into our seer stones and decided to share a little bit of what would actually happen if the Church’s accounting books were made public. BRACE YOURSELVES!

As always, these rankings are authoritative.

  1. Dark chocolate eaten by the Apostles accounts for 7% of total tithing receipts
  2. Plastic sacrament cups are cheaper than paper
  3. Bishop Monson may have been great at visiting the widows, but his ward Christmas parties were always over budget
  4. Approximately $2.8M per year spent on fixing stage curtains in meetinghouses after kids swing on them
  5. Despite an annual allocation of $483 billion, BYU football totally sucks
  6. Huge amounts of R&D spent developing popcorn/apricot tree hybrids between 1984-1993
  7. At least 184 unauthorized color copies were made in the Brigham City 2nd Ward library during Q3 2011
  8. Massive writedown in the late 70s from the failed Lamanite Astronaut Program
  9. Annual payments of $163,271 to the Catholic Church, ledger line reads “for Bruce’s book”
  10. Building City Creek Mall was actually a really good idea

[1] Honorable Mentions

  • It was an uncredited financier of Parker/Stone Broadway productions
  • The Corporation of the Church indirectly owns 45% of Tahitian Noni I AM NOT MAKING THIS ONE UP
  • Between 1999-2002, approximately 32% percent of budget devoted to secret project only identified as ‘Project Stargate’


  1. Spectacular.

  2. I do my part to keep kids away from curtains.

  3. There’s a lot of history in the failed Lamanite Space Program that needs to be told some day. One interesting tidbit: Space Station Liahona was insulated with remaindered copies of the gold foil paperback Book of Mormon.

  4. Brilliant.

  5. $1.7m on bolt-cutters and riot gear, in case Kate Kelly decided to take OW tactics more in the direction of Emmeline Pankhurst (or Sonia Johnson) than Gandhi.

  6. (Too soon?)

  7. 11. 50% of BYU’s faculty development funds went to a “Secularism Seminar.” The other 50% went to an “Anti-Secularism Seminar.”

  8. 100% of tithing funds donated by widows over the age of 72 were wasted by young male missionaries driving cars in a reckless and irresponsible manner.

  9. I’m so happy I don’t pay tithing anymore. Happy to not be part of this mess.

  10. “for Bruce’s book.” Dying.

  11. The PangWitch says:

    i see that transparency is a big joke here. but people do leave the church over it. if even one person leaves over church finances, how is it worth it to keep them secret?

    aside from the fact that there are other benefits to transparency.
    1) less chance for fraud misuse and embezzlement
    2) better PR
    3) practicing what you preach (Deseret news publishes article saying dont donate to non transparent charities)
    4) gives members something to model (as stated in previous article)
    5) practicing what you preach part2 (members are required to be transparent during tithing settlement)
    6) takes wind out of sails of critics who say church does bad things with money

  12. Lighten up PangWitch.

  13. mb,
    And yet, here you are! Problem easily solved.

  14. PangWitch:
    Members don’t need to be transparent during tithing settlement. I don’t get asked for a tax return, paycheck stubs, or dividend statements. In fact, I have automated bill pay set up so my tithing goes to SLC automatically every payday. My bishop doesn’t see a dime, and he doesn’t particularly care when my year-end statement says “What tithing?”

  15. scott b,

    i’m just watching from the sidelines. still kinda interested, but very grateful none of our $$ is part of this.

    thanks for the laughs!

  16. 11. $12.5 billion was spent in 1983 to develop chapel pews that carry the maximum potential for physical pain for squirmy children.

  17. ^TRUE

  18. Large investments in Jell-O discovered. Massive outcry, since Jell-O is a Kraft Foods brand – which used to be owned by Phillip Morris. Outcry decreases when people realize Phillip Morris no longer owns Kraft Foods. Outcry increases when people realize Kraft Foods also produces Maxwell House. Outcry dies when people realize Kraft Foods also produces Kool-Aid, since buying Jell-O and Kool-Aid ranks higher than avoiding coffee and the appearance of evil from a former alliance with tobacco.

  19. Mark Brown says:

    A disclosure of a $10 million donation from Big Pharma to study why church curriculum is more effective at inducing sleep than any known drug.

  20. An Anon Nom says:

    I totally get the light post and joking. But I’d like to point out that it only underscores how easy it should be to release more detailed and transparent financial information.

    The whole point of these kinds of releases is that they are supposed to be boring and non controversial, hence the joking. Insomuch as they really are boring and that we can joke about it, then the finances are healthy.

    But until we have the information, I think the joking is just a little premature. (Though I do enjoy a good joke–even a premature one–and I’m sure this comment won’t stop them, so please carry on!)

  21. #6 brings up an interesting point: how much is the Church paying to subsidize to the BYUs? Given the fact that tuition at BYU is currently lower than the U of U its got to be getting massive infusions of cash from the Church. I think members would be shocked and dismayed to see that line item, which may be one of the (many) reasons this information is not released.

  22. “I think members would be shocked and dismayed to see that line item”

    Dismayed, maybe. Shocked? Nah.

  23. 13. July 4, 1899. Convinced that the second coming is imminent, President Lorenzo Snow clears the church’s lingering debts by mortgaging the sealed portions of the gold plates. The sealed plates remain in escrow at a Wells Fargo branch in Laramie, Wyoming until they mysteriously disappear in 1906.

  24. Yes, clearly you get the joke, hence the comment.

  25. Nice try in minimizing this issue. However … I guess you are right? We shouldn’t ask because it’s silly to ask such questions? These are true prophets and apostles we are talking about and if they say that it is sin to ask such questions as “where does the money really go and why doesn’t an independent auditor review all the books?”, then we should not ask and we should spontaneously make light of the question …..

  26. Kevin Barney says:

    No. 2 was FTW…

  27. gst makes a good point. Hidden in the various slush funds of the astronaut program was its final purpose. Repatriation to Enoch’s planet (that was the top one).

  28. Your footnote writer should know that there’s no such thing as the “Corporation of the Church.”

  29. 11. Three Nephites monthly church Visa bill is through the roof!

  30. I think I could actually support #2.

  31. Note the major revelation buried in a footnote: the real reason the early Mormons moved around so much was that they were searching for the stargate between Earth and Kobol!

    They eventually found it under the Salt Flats, and Brigham Young had it moved to a mine under the Wasatch Range for study. Sadly, the codes to activate the gate were in the 116 pages.

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