Romney's "Charity" to the Church is Just More Corporate Greed and Tax Evasion
Let's take a look at what Mitt's charitable giving goes to, shall we?
If the Mormon church were a business, wealthy adherents like Mitt Romney would count as its dominant revenue stream.
Its investment strategy would be viewed as risk-averse.
It would also likely attract corporate gadflies protesting a lack of transparency. They would call for less spending on real estate and more on charitable causes to improve membership growth - the Mormons' return on investment.
Those are a few of the conclusions that can be drawn from an analysis of the church's finances by Reuters and University of Tampa sociologist Ryan Cragun.
Relying heavily on church records in countries that require far more disclosure than the United States, Cragun and Reuters estimate that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints brings in some $7 billion annually in tithes and other donations.
It owns about $35 billion worth of temples and meeting houses around the world, and controls farms, ranches, shopping malls and other commercial ventures worth many billions more.
So Romney is giving huge sums of money to a church which runs commercial ventures and has no obligatin to pay taxes on them. Sounds perfect.
"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," said Cragun. " is a religion that appeals to economically successful men by rewarding their financial acuity with respect and positions of prestige within the religion."
The church is full of successful businessmen, including chemical billionaire Jon Huntsman Sr., the father of the former presidential candidate, J.W. "Bill" Marriott Jr. and his hotel-owning family, and even entertainer Donny Osmond.
The Mormon church has no hospitals and only a handful of primary schools. Its university system is limited to widely respected Brigham Young, which has campuses in Utah, Idaho and Hawaii, and LDS Business College. Seminaries and institutes for high school students and single adults offer religious studies for hundreds of thousands.
It counts more than 55,000 in its missionary forces, primarily youths focused on converting new members but also seniors who volunteer for its non-profits, such as the Polynesian Cultural Center, which bills itself as Hawaii's No. 1 tourist attraction, and for-profit businesses owned by the church.
The church has plowed resources into a multi-billion-dollar global network of for-profit enterprises: it is the largest rancher in the United States, a church official told Nebraska's Lincoln Journal Star in 2004, with other ranches and farms in Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Australia and Great Britain, according to financial documents reviewed by Reuters.
Ranching and farm industry sources say they are well-run operations.
It also has a small media empire, an investment fund, and is developing a mall across from its Salt Lake City headquarters, which it calls an attempt to help revitalize the city rather than to make money. These enterprises are also part of a vast nest egg for tough times. The church expects wars and natural disasters before Christ returns to earth in the Second Coming, and members are encouraged to prepare by laying in stores of food. Farms and ranches are part of the church's own preparation.
"The church teaches its members to live within their means and put a little money aside for life's unexpected events. As a church, we live by the same principle," Purdy said. The rainy-day fund and operating budget rarely mix, officials say.
And what does Mitt think about this form of "charity"?
Romney himself focuses on the act of giving, not the result. As he told Fox News Sunday, "Hopefully, as people look at various individuals running for president, they'd be pleased with someone who made a promise to God and kept that promise."
Right. That's all that matters.
If I didn't know better I'd have to assume that this charitable giving to a church that primarily operates highly successful commercial businesses is just another tax dodge.