“What can I tell my nonmember friends about the Church’s financial system and business interests?” New Era, July 1975, 50
Answer/President N. Eldon Tanner
Briefly you could quote the Church’s general policy to your friends. We do not own nor do we seek controlling interest in any major national company.
In addition, the Church does not buy securities in any corporation that manufactures products such as cola drinks, publishing companies that print material that is not consistent with our standards, producers of alcoholic beverages, or tobacco companies.
People at times donate to the Church, properties or securities that would not be consistent with the above principles, but these in turn are sold on the open market soon after they are received.
The Church still owns a few industries that were started out of necessity during pioneer times. They helped to establish the economy, and they are still functioning. These pioneer industries include companies like the Beneficial Life Insurance Company and the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company. However, many of the original pioneer industries such as Zion’s Bank and ZCMI are no longer owned by the Church.
We also own support industries such as the Beehive Clothing Mills, Deseret News, and Deseret Press that help in the day-to-day work of the Church.
The Church does own some agricultural property. In times of need this could easily be converted to welfare production. Of course, all welfare farms are locally owned and operated by the various wards and stakes in the Church. The welfare program yields a great variety of produce, which, with the fast offerings of the Church, is used for the welfare of those in need.
The financial foundation of the Church is its faithful, devoted membership. The great majority of Church income comes from the tithes and offerings of these faithful members. This income is budgeted according to established directions set down by the Lord in section 120 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
“Verily, thus saith the Lord, the time is now come, that it [tithing] shall be disposed of by a council, composed of the First Presidency of my Church, and of the bishop and his council, and by my high council; and by mine own voice unto them, saith the Lord.” [D&C 120:1]
The Council of the Disposition of Tithes is composed of the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, and the Presiding Bishopric of the Church.
The greatest portion of Church expenditures goes toward meetinghouse construction and maintenance and to the education system, which includes seminaries and institutes, Church schools in underdeveloped countries, Brigham Young University, and Ricks College.
The remainder is spent on other activities, including missionary and temple work, internal communication and administration of the Church, and the printing, translation, and distribution of manuals. All of the funds of the Church are considered sacred and dedicated to furthering our Father’s work on the earth, and they are managed prayerfully and with inspiration.