LDS Church releases videos on how tithing is managed; whistleblower says he didn’t authorize leaks

Days after a blistering report showing it was sitting on a $100 billion investment fund, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released three short videos late Friday assuring insiders and outsiders that it is carefully handling member offerings.

“At the end of the day, the decisions, the main decisions, are made by a presiding council according to the spirit of revelation,” Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé says in one video.

Caussé, who oversees the Utah-based faith’s vast real estate, investment and financial operations, says the church is trying to build a reserve fund to prepare for “the sake of the purpose of the church.”

Dean M. Davies, one of his counselors in the Presiding Bishopric, says the real value of the church is in its members and the devotion they show through tithing, contributing 10% of their income to the faith.

“And we’re so careful,” Davis says, “so very, very careful to make certain those funds are expended in a way they would feel good about.”

In another video, Caussé lists the six main ways the church spends its money: Sharing its message through a global missionary program, building and maintaining meetinghouses around the world, caring for the poor and needy, constructing and operating temples and family history programs, providing education, ad tending to general administration. He does not specify the amount of money spent on each item.

Whistleblower says leaks unauthorized

“No one has been authorized to speak for me, including my brother, Lars Nielsen. Any public disclosure of information that has been in my possession was unauthorized by me. Repeated attempts to dissuade my brother, Lars Nielsen, from making public disclosures have been ignored. I will have no further comment on this matter.”

— David A. Nielsen, to The Salt Lake Tribune late Friday, saying he did not authorize the dissemination of his complaint about Ensign Peak Advisors to the news media.

The videos offer no new details on how the church spends the money given by its followers. That lack of transparency was a point made by David A. Nielsen, a former employee of Ensign Peak Advisors, a church-affiliated investment arm, in his complaint to the IRS. His chief concerns were that Ensign Peak is potentially violating the tax code by failing to spend a portion of its proceeds on furthering the church’s religious mission or on charitable causes.

In a news release accompanying the videos, the church repeats earlier statements — including by church President Russell M. Nelson in fall’s General Conference — that its “humanitarian arm has given more than $2.2 billion in aid in 197 countries" since it began in the mid-1980s.