Recently Elder Bednar spoke to the National press Club in Washington DC. For $25 reporters could sign up and attend. His prepared remarks were rather unremarkable, a General Conference address for non-Mormons. In the Q&A, which I’m sure he was prepared for , he said the following when asked about poor people paying tithing given the wealth of the church:
The Church doesn’t need their money, but those people need the blessing that come from following God’s Commandments.National Press Club live feed, 51:22
I know I’ve heard Bishops and Stake Presidents say this, heck, I even said it myself as a Bishop, but have any of you ever heard a Prophet, Seer and Revelator say that in a public forum? I don’t ever remember any of the Q15 ever saying “don’t need their money” and I welcome a reference from one of you readers to when they have said this in the past.
In 1907 President Joseph F. Smith said the following while talking about the need to pay tithing
Furthermore, I want to say to you, we may not be able to reach it right away, but we expect to see the day when we will not have to ask you for one dollar of donation for any purpose, except that which you volunteer to give of your own accord, because we will have tithes sufficient in the storehouse of the Lord to pay everything that is needful for the advancement of the kingdom of God. I want to live to see that day, if the Lord will spare my life. It does not make any difference, though, so far as that is concerned, whether I live or not. That is the true policy, the true purpose of the Lord in the management of the affairs of His Church.April 5th 1907 Conference address, Pres Joseph F. Smith (page 7)
Could this be the reason that the “don’t need money” has never been said before? Has Elder Bednar revealed to the Church and the world the fulfillment of that prophecy? Have we reached the day when we “have tithes sufficient in the storehouse of the Lord to pay everything that is needful for the advancement of the kingdom of God.”?
One could argue that Pres Smith was not giving a prophecy, but just an opinion, a desire, or expectation. But when a Prophet “expects” something in the future, isn’t that the very definition of a prophet for that thing to come true? We have lots of examples of a Prophet speaking about something they want, and he does not preface it with “Thus sayeth the Lord.” Lets look at past examples. A prophet says “just one earring for women”, does not say it is revelation or a commandment, and everybody jumps in line. The prophet says to stop using the name Mormon, and it is thus.
The prophet says to get vaccinated, and the church does it!
Of course we could squabble on what the word sufficient means. Is $100 million sufficient? Is $100 billion sufficient? One trillion? If I could go back in time to 1907, and after General Conference go find Pres Smith (which was easy to do in those days) and ask him if $3.4 billion ($100 billion today adjusted for inflation) was sufficient, what do you think his answer would be? I think he would laugh at me for being crazy at the very though the church having that kind of money. After I assured him I was not crazy (my white shirt and tie non withstanding), he then tells me that not only would the church never have to ask for any money ever again, but that they could do so much good with that money!
It seems that the church has done what governments have been doing for years. Announce a temporary tax, then hope the people forget about it, and keep collecting it. The federal gasoline excise tax was suppose to be temporary.
So what do you think? Is President Smith’s proclamation about not needing tithing not binding? Has something changed? Has the Church just gotten used to the income and does not want to give it up? Do the Q15 truly believe that the blessings outweigh fulling Pres Smith expectation?
 for $100 billion, the church better have the best PR firm in the world.
When the Sydney temple was announced in 1980 we had just finished building our home and had a mortgage of $30,000. We lived 1.5 hours drive from the proposed temple but were asked to pay $5000 toward the temple, which we did. How much did they have then?
We now live in a stake with 7 units and one 1 ward sized building built in the 1960s. Recently a large hardware store closed down and I suggested the site to the SP. He came back with the church w/on’t pay that much. It’s now a gym.
I had alredy heard about the church’s reserves, they aren’t spending it here. I stopped paying tithing, but was retired anyway so not much, but it was pointed out to me that others paid tithing on their pension.
Sounds pretty transactional. Drop your money in, out comes the blessings.
My question. In order to receive the blessings Elder Bernard alludes to, must I pay my tithing to the Church, or can I realize these blessings donating 10% of my income to any charity I deem worthy?
FWIW, I suspect I know that many would answer in favor of the latter. I would be much more interested in what our apostles might answer, and whether or not their answer would echo G A Smith’s from 80 or so years ago.
I believe the church will answer this question for us at some point. I’m aware that this very question is being raised in TR interviews and I’m sure Bishops and SP will report this up the chain. My hunch is I won’t like the official church answer.
To the OP: i think the answers to your questions are yes, yes, yes, and yes, respectively. Are blessings from God a zero sum game? If I choose to forgo tithing blessings via agency can I still attend the temple? If I forgo tithing blessings but instead do more volunteer work or indexing does it matter? Or are blessings siloed and I’ll max out in one area and still be blessing deficient in another area? Is God a vending machine or not? Are we really blessed for paying tithing if we have an expectation of being blessed for paying tithing?
Bednar raised more questions than answers for me on this one. But most members are probably unaware of this interview altogether.
we expect to see the day when we will not have to ask you for one dollar of donation for any purpose
Parsing this a little more closely than is probably appropriate , one might say that we’re living this already. They don’t HAVE TO ask for our money, they CHOOSE to ask for our money.
This is why we have the belief of the prosperity gospel and all the problems that stem with it
I am a sixth generation member. I know how much the first generations gave to the church in time and money. I watched how in the following 3 generations, we gave and sacrificed. We were not a wealthy family and to pay tithes/fast offerings/ward budgets affected families and how we went literally without for the building up of the church.
In 1990, SLC realized the money pot was big enough and families no longer needed to contribute to ward budgets, in addition to tithing. Also, in 1990 SLC made mission finances more equitable for payments to Tonga $10/month vs Lima Peru $33/month vs vs San Jose Costa Rica $180/month vs Geneva Switzerland $750/month. Now, they unnecessarily increased all missions to $500/month. They will not even give you your own money to spend to buy food when hungry, which is another conversation.
Now life is much, much more expensive everywhere. Now, most women work outside the home, not for Benson’s “convenience”, but out of necessity. With the average Utah home price at $500K, younger families can not afford to live in Utah, have a sole bread winner, and pay tithing. The Math no longer works !!. 20 years ago the average Utah home was $150K and families could eke by on low Utah wages and call it blessings from heaven. Now, more families will be moving to lower cost markets, having even less children, and/or not paying a 10% tithing. I already know of TBM nephew/nieces in Utah that are paying a <5% tithing. Since the California/WA/OR Mormons have returned to Utah with their out of state money they have priced the locals out of their own market.
I have some family members who have literally made $MM in developing property around the new temples and MLM's. They have been "blessed" by unethical ways, not by paying tithing. The regular, honest member who follows the church financial formula will not survive .Those who follow the church financial formula will go from middle class to poverty. The math does not work, no matter how hard the church says to have faith.
I think of all the LDS members in Latin America ( and now in Africa), who were told the same. They still live in poverty after now 3 generations of LDS membership, but then the church shows 1 example of a family and says, "see, if you pay your tithing you will leave the poverty cycle". Meanwhile, the church will not support the Bountiful children's foundation, because the program will be abused.
Why is the church so involved with the members finances, when they do not even disclose their own ?? Lets look at their finances in giving up all to serve the kingdom and the church. Since the Q15 is given the $150K living stipend + extras, they have NO IDEA what real people are dealing with each day. They and their families are super wealthy. If E. Stevenson really believed in consecration he would donate his $900MM to these needing families who gave to the church and that he paid minimum wages to build his treadmills in Logan. Most of the Q15 have a second home in Midway/Heber, Why? Kem Garder gifted a home to Uchtdorf after the City Creek/Gateway mall affair. E. Ballard the used car salesman self admitting denying the spirits promptings and invested anyways in Edsel. Then he was involved with another scandal in 1962 with the SEC. Ballard finally failed again with Valley Music Hall and was rescued from the church with our tithing dollars. E. Cook and the hospital take over and finances was ethically questionable. The list goes on and on. Do the Q15 even pay tithing ?
The LDS church wants only loyalty to the institution; and where your money goes, your heart goes also.
I simply can’t see how Jesus would approve of $100+ B in the bank.
The Q15 don’t need us members anymore. Through tithing donations, they have constructed a financial empire that is self-sustaining with zero transparency to the members who made it possible. They are free to spend their riches anyway they want. They can build temples indiscriminately, whether they are needed or not. Free to give meager amounts to the poor. Free to turn their lawyers and lobbyists loose on any issue they chose. Free to devalue a BYU education so they can continue to discriminate. They just don’t need us.
Faith, don’t hold back. Tell us how you really feel!
Well, it is an interesting post with interesting comments. I have actually thought about this a bit since the news broke about the massive fund of excess tithing that Ensign Peak manages.
How much is enough? On a family level, I have seen families in Utah where they think they are doing fine if the wife can buy one new set of shoes and one dress a year. I also see families that think if they don’t have four snowmobiles in their garage and annual vacations to Aspen and The Bahamas, they are failing.
I don’t like either extreme.
I am all for sound money management and good stewardship over tithes and offerings, but at what point do we slide into the love of money, for its own sake? I think it is very hard for leaders to have such self-awareness.
One helpful start would be to have far greater transparency with church finances. The Church needs to trust its own membership.
I am happy to say that in this instance I agree with Bednar 100%: the Church doesn’t need my money
I am not a historian and may have some of these details wrong, but prior to the late 50’s or early 60’s the church annually published its operating budget. (I don’t know if its reporting included the church’s balance sheet.) I don’t know exactly in what year it stopped the practice, but it followed the church nearly going insolvent. After a brush with narrowly not being able to make payroll sometime in the 1950’s I believe, the gears started to turn to take the church in a new direction financially. This is about the time the church brought in Canadian businessman and civic leader N. Eldon Tanner, and I think he is largely responsible for bringing modern accounting and financial governance practices to bear on the church. From that time forward no budget has been published. There seems to be a pattern when God’s only true church embarrasses itself, doesn’t look strong, or seeks to hide a practice it treasures, saying one thing publicly but doing its opposite privately: it goes dark and adopts a morality of situational ethics. We can see this with the coverup of polygamy after it was first denounced, recently with member excommunication guided by the institutional church but explained publicly as “local” decisions, and limiting the reporting of membership statistics and trends once membership data showed the church may be starting a period of decline, and providing no access to church finances and budgets.
I recount those examples to suggest the church’s opacity around its wealth and its glibness when questioned about it shouldn’t surprise any of us. Comments about saving for rainy days or even appealing to Joseph’s practice of storing grain during the years of plenty are not honest answers but comments created by the public affairs department and given to people like David Bednar by his handlers.
There is just so much wrong with the $100B. Evidently none outside the first presidency knowing anything about it prior to the whistleblower’s public accusations, and the president of Ensign Peak Advisors saying they didn’t want anyone to know for fear it would cool members’ willingness to pay tithing. All of this seems to me to be so immature and shortsighted for church leaderships professing to be divinely inspired. If the lack of transparency wasn’t bad enough, the church’s efforts to do damage control after the fund and its value was made public didn’t even focus on the subject of interest, the accrued assets, but on the fact there was no fraud, that church monies were handled with integrity and oversight. Was this some kind of Freudian slip? And I guess they really does view church members as unthinking groupies. I’ve rewarded their worries by contributing elsewhere.
I’m more than happy to financially contribute to an organization which is making a real, positive difference, and one that keeps administrative costs low so the value of those contributions is placed in ways that impact those who need it. I’m less interested in contributing to the purchase of high rises in Philadelphia and beachfront hotels in Hawaii, or to universities who choose to be passively aggressive toward LGBTQ students while publicly claiming they love them. I think the tragedy of the church’s secrecy and misdirection is manifold. If the church were financially transparent, it may gain even more support if members could see how money is spent and agree with its best uses, and if best uses weren’t practiced, transparency would have a cleansing effect. Second, just think if the church did have long-term plans for revolutionizing education in developing countries, or helping members in developing countries not starve or in clean water projects or healthcare. I think there is a strong chance members would willingly contribute even more.
As for Bednar’s comments at the National Press Club luncheon, more half truths. Members pay or they don’t attend their kids’ temple weddings. Tithing is compulsory and was weaponized by the church more than a century ago. I watched the national press club talk and Q&A. It made me wonder just how insulated the Q15 are. They never face scrutiny and I think it would be a good thing if they subjected themselves regularly to public questioning.
Bednar’s answers to questions about declining membership in North America were equally appalling to me. Weak, weak sauce.
I think the obvious question is “how much, in dollars, did Elder Bednars pay in tithing in 2021?”
That should tell you all you need to know.
“but we expect to see the day when we will not have to ask you for one dollar of donation for any purpose, except that which you volunteer to give of your own accord, because we will have tithes sufficient in the storehouse of the Lord to pay everything that is needful for the advancement of the kingdom of God”
To understand the context of President Smith’s remarks it is necessary to understand that in prior times the church not only asked the members to pay tithing but also for separate donations for ward budget to run the ward and building funds so that local churches could be built. Thus, when President Smith is referring to “donations” it is those additional donations to which he is referring, not to tithing. Thus the separate reference to having tithing sufficient to pay for everything that is needful. He is no doubt happy to see this day when the voluntary (no one forces anyone to pay) contribution of tithing is sufficient to pay for those items for which separate donations were required in the past.
For some years now the Community of Christ has been shifting its understanding of tithing from strict obedience to a law to a response of generosity to divine grace. In 2016 the church’s World Conference accepted a document that became Section 165 of the Doctrine and Covenants. It includes the following:
“2 a. Free the full capacity of Christ’s mission through generosity that imitates God’s generosity.
“b. Listen to the testimonies of those responding generously. Follow your soul’s yearning to come home to God’s grace and generosity. Let gratitude show you the way.
“c. Remember, a basic discipleship principle is growing Christ’s mission through local and world mission tithes according to true capacity. Giving to other worthwhile organizations, while an important part of A Disciple’s Generous Response, should not diminish or replace mission tithes.
“d. Tithing is a spiritual practice that demonstrates willingness to offer every dimension of one’s life to God. When defined by faith, love, and hopeful planning, including resolving unwise debt, capacity to respond becomes much greater than initially assumed.
“e. Stewardship as response to the ministry of Christ is more than individual giving. It includes the generosity of congregations and jurisdictions that give to worldwide ministries of the church to strengthen community in Christ in all nations.
“f. Sharing for the common good is the spirit of Zion.”
If the goal is simply to raise lots of money, this obviously isn’t the way to go about it. But then, maybe tithing should be about more than fund-raising or proving one’s worth to an institution.
Jesus needs your money.
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
There is much need. Much need close at hand, then the need continues outward.
Give where it will help others.
Have any rules changed regarding the commandment to tithe? should we pay more than 10%? that the church doesn’t need our money, that’s good, but I need to keep fulfilling the commandment.Paying tithing is a matter of faith. I have always been helped financially by the church when I need it. I don’t see why so much concern about it, the commandment is simple, it’s in the Bible, and it’s still in effect.Do you think the church has a lot of money? great sign that members are able to pay. Do you think it’s wrong for the most needy to pay tithing? then you don’t understand anything about tithing.I saw someone ask if Elder Bednar paid his tithing in 2021? you really don’t understand about tithing and the church.
I believe that in this post the quote from Joseph F. Smith was misinterpreted. President Smith said the day would come when donations would not be needed because there were sufficient tithes in the storehouse. Church leaders have taught that this means the Church would not need donations above and beyond regular tithing. See Boyd K. Packer, “Teach Them Correct Principles,” and Gordon B. Hinckley, “Rise to a Larger Vision of the Work,” Ensign, May 1990.