This week in Mormon Land: Financial fallout continues even as charity heats up at Giving Machines

(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Giving Machines open at University Place Mall in Orem on Nov. 25, 2019.

The Mormon Land newsletter is a weekly highlight reel of developments in and about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whether heralded in headlines, preached from the pulpit or buzzed about on the back benches. Want this free newsletter in your inbox? Subscribe here.

During this busy holiday season, we bring you an abbreviated edition so you can keep up with church happenings and still meet your yuletide commitments.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Salt Lake Temple, Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019.

Still following the money

Fallout continues from the revelation that the church’s investment arm has a $100 billion account in reserve:

• The church released three short videos seeking to assure members and others that it is spending tithes and offerings appropriately.

• News of the fund is the latest example of a new era of “whistleblowers” stepping forward with concerns about how the church, its schools or an affiliate is operating.

• A synopsis of the complaint to the IRS about the reserve portfolio alleges that even a Latter-day Saint prophet-in-waiting, namely Boyd K. Packer, was denied access to details about it.

• Kathleen Flake, head of Mormon studies at the University of Virginia, examined on the school’s website how the church manages its money along with the religious, economic and philosophical principles that underlie its financial practices.

• John Turner, religion professor at George Mason University, in a piece for the “The Conversation” supplied to The Associated Press, looked back at financial troubles the early church encountered in Ohio and how the Utah-based faith has blended commerce and religion throughout its history.

(Courtesy photo) Nathan B. Oman, Rollins Professor of Law at William & Mary Law School.

This week’s podcast: Pros and cons of financial transparency?

Whether the church may have violated tax laws — as some allege and Latter-day Saint officials deny — is just one issue. The deeper questions may be: How much is too much for a church to hold in reserve? How much should members and others know about the faith’s finances? And should all churches be required to be more open about their money?

Nathan Oman, the Rollins Professor of Law at William & Mary Law School who is writing a book on Mormon legal history, addresses those questions and more in this week’s podcast.

Listen here.

(Photo courtesy of Michael Clyde) Aileen Clyde, former second counselor in the general Relief Society presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In other news

• Aileen Clyde, a determined, energetic, progressive Utahn who served as a counselor in the general presidency of the women’s Relief Society for much of the 1990s, died on Christmas Eve. Called a “champion of women,” she was 93.

• A 34-year-old northern Utah man who told police he was “upset with the church” was arrested and charged with breaking into and vandalizing the Logan Temple.

• On Christmas Eve, President Russell M. Nelson shared holiday greetings on social media, urging all to worship the Babe of Bethlehem and seek the Prince of Peace.

• More than 100,000 credit card swipes at those holiday Giving Machines — expanded to 10 cities this year — have mustered nearly $4 million for charity at last count, according to a news release. The tally so far includes about 1.6 million meals, 950,000-plus vaccines, nearly 63,000 chickens, more than 7,200 glasses and more than 3,500 shoes.

(Photo courtesy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Residents in Gilbert, Ariz., gather to make their donations at a Giving Machine. Gilbert is one of 10 locations for the machines this year.

• Ogden is seeking to protect a 156-year-old pioneer home — complete with its original log floors, adobe walls and door and window casings — by granting it historic status, the Standard-Examiner reported.

Quote of the week

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:10-11

Mormon Land is a weekly newsletter written by David Noyce and Peggy Fletcher Stack. Subscribe here.

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