A SPOKESMAN for The Church of Latter Day Saints this week lashed out at Businessweek’s latest cover, which uses humour to highlight an in-depth investigation into the affairs of the barmy religion … or cult, as some claim.
Said LDS spokesman Michael Purdy:
The Bloomberg Businessweek cover is in such poor taste it is difficult to even find the words to comment on it.
The article – entitled How the Mormons Make Money, by Caroline Winter – probes the business side of the Church, with much attention given to the tax benefits it enjoys and the extent of its holdings of property and stock in multinational corporations.
It opens by pointing out that:
Late last March the Mormon Church completed an ambitious project: a megamall. Built for roughly $2 billion, the City Creek Center stands directly across the street from the church’s iconic neo-Gothic temple in Salt Lake City. The mall includes a retractable glass roof, 5,000 underground parking spots, and nearly 100 stores and restaurants, ranging from Tiffany’s to Forever 21. Walkways link the open-air emporium with the church’s perfectly manicured headquarters on Temple Square. Macy’s is a stone’s throw from the offices of the church’s president, Thomas S. Monson, whom Mormons believe to be a living prophet.
According to this report, Purdy’s disapproval extended beyond the cover. He said the article was “biased, inaccurate and speculative” in nature.
The article misses the mark and the cover is obviously meant to be offensive to many, including millions of Latter-day Saints.
According to Businessweek, a recent study by Ryan Cragun, a sociology professor at the University of Tampa, estimates the church receives around $8 billion in tithing from members each years and is worth around $40 billion.
Those estimates would be tough to solidify, said Rusty Leonard, CEO of MinistryWatch.com, a site that keeps a database of Christian ministries and nonprofits for donors to use and evaluate.
The IRS does not require churches, which are tax-exempt, to file disclosure forms with the government. Leonard said that makes the totality of church holdings difficult to pinpoint.
They get tax-free status as a church and they get the freedom to do what they want to do with their money.
When asked about the $40 billion figure provided by Cragun, Doug Anderson, public affairs manager for the Mormon Church, refused to comment.
The church-owned and operated Deseret News paper wrote an editorial that not only attacked the reporting – “the corners cut in this week’s Businessweek story do a disservice,” read the editorial – but also went after the legitimacy of Businessweek itself.
In an earlier era, Businessweek was known for intelligently introducing its audience to useful conceptual approaches. But in this week’s edition, Businessweek seemed out of its depth on the very issues it should own.
Hat tip: Canada Dave