August 14, 2012

The Business of the Mormon Church

MormonWhen most of us think of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (i.e., Mormons), we think of a religion rather than a business. Perhaps we'd better recognize that it is both. According to Reuters, the Mormon church brings in roughly $7 billion a year in tithes and donations.

Where does all this money come from? Here's how Ryan Cragun, a sociologist at the University of Tampa, put it:
Most of the revenue of the religion is from the U.S., and a large percentage comes from an elite cadre of wealthy donors, like Mitt Romney.
What would possess obscenely wealthy individuals like Mittens Romney to fund this church instead of supporting charitable organizations directly? Perhaps the church offers something in exchange for their financial support that charities cannot offer. Cragun explains,
(It) is a religion that appeals to economically successful men by rewarding their financial acuity with respect and positions of prestige within the religion.
It sounds like charity is often secondary to real estate investment, massive temples, and even for-profit ventures. I suppose this is exactly what one should expect from an American religion: business comes first.

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