Friday the 13th probably seemed like an appropriate day for BUSINESSWEEK to send their most controversial issue ever to the newsstands. But, the LDS Church is hardly amused at what they view as an offensive assault on their faith, with a cover that satirizes what they believe to be the sacred moment when John The Baptist supposedly visited the United States in the 1800’s and bestowed priesthood on Joseph Smith. The business magazine then used the outrageous cover for a much more sobering piece on how an organized religion church worth $40 billion, that rakes in $8 billion a year in tithes, invests in shopping malls, tourist traps for vacationers in Hawaii, and other more worldly investments. With a new Gallup poll pointing out American’s respect for organized religion at a record all time low, partially tarnished by sex scandals in the Catholic Church and among some Protestant churches, more and more journalists are looking at the shortcomings of other churches, and the vast investments by the Mormon LDS Church seem to only invite ridicule at this point in time.
Mormon LDS Church leaders issued a lengthy response to the new BUSINESSWEEK issue, which claimed that the church is far more involved in investments in shopping malls than in doing charity works. The church seemed to claim that not all of their charity works could be measured in dollar terms, often using personal service. And in all fairness, LDS Church members do have a rich tradition of offering help to hurting members of their own faith.
The BUSINESSWEEK piece claimed that your average church donates 30% of their annual income to charity work compared to just 1% for the LDS Church.
Unfortunately, the shortcomings in organized religion only continue to make new news, where many churches only leave themselves open to critical journalism when they appear to be little more than some big money making machine that seems to lose their focus on God. Today’s multi-billion dollar churches seem to have little in common with the poor missionary or preacher who would once selflessly travel and risk his own life to spread the word of God.
It’s not so much that some modern church invests in a shopping mall, as to whether this investment is really being done to further the kingdom of God or not. If anything, this new BUSINESSWEEK piece will help to force more financial accountability and transparency on the part of all churches.