Monday, February 10, 2020

Even More Institutional Religion, Organized Grift

A post from December of last year noted that the Mormon "church" was hoarding money to the tune of $100,000,000,000 and spending very little of it on charitable services as required: Institutional Religion, Organized Grift. Well, the Mormon leadership must be concerned with "tithing" levels and/or investigation from the IRS because the head of Ensign Peak Advisors, Roger Clarke, gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal on the subject. The WSJ has a pretty tough paywall but the Salt Lake Tribune ran a piece that summarized the interview titled LDS Church kept the lid on its $100B fund for fear tithing receipts would fall, account boss tells Wall Street Journal. It includes some pretty interesting admissions from Clarke:

Latter-day Saint officials kept the size of the church’s $100 billion investment reserves secret for fear that public knowledge of the fund’s wealth might discourage members from paying tithing, according to the top executive who oversees the account.

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tithing — donating 10% of one’s income to the faith — “is more of a sense of commitment than it is the church needing the money,” Roger Clarke, head of Ensign Peak Advisors, which manages the denomination’s investing holdings, told The Wall Street Journal.

“So they never wanted to be in a position where people felt like, you know, they shouldn’t make a contribution,” Clarke said.

You have to assume that this news rocked the Mormon community and that a lot of faithful Mormons, some quoted in the story, decided to direct their funds where they would be helping the needing instead of swelling an already ridiculous treasure trove that would make Smaug jealous.

I found this to be incredibly interesting and the explanation given was vintage Mormon obfuscation:

Clarke and former Ensign employees said the firm created a system of more than a dozen shell companies to make its stock investments harder to track. That strategy, Clarke said, was designed to prevent members from parroting what Ensign was doing and to, as the paper stated, “protect them from mismanaging their own funds with insufficient information.”

A fund of that size is going to, of necessity, invest mostly in huge stocks like the ones mentioned in the article ("Some of the stocks in which Ensign has invested millions include Apple Inc., Chevron Corp., Visa Inc., JPMorgan Chase, Home Depot, Amazon and Google, according to the article."). So the idea of LDS members mimicking the investment accounts that basically invest in the S&P 500 rings pretty false. It is far more likely that these shell companies were aimed at hiding just how much money the Mormon religious hierarchy was sitting on, precisely for the reasons mentioned: people would stop "tithing" when their tithe money was just hoarded by Salt Lake. Creating shell companies to hide what you are doing is something organized crime syndicates do, not churches.

While most institutional organized religion groups are self-serving to some extent, the more so the larger the organization, the Mormon religions puts them all to shame when it comes to controlling people through fear and guilt, while at the same time hiding their operations from the view of even those same people who fund the religion.

If you or someone you know is tangled up in the giant scam known as Mormonism, you need to get out.

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