The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a religion more popularly known as the Mormon Church, has been accused of hiding over $100 billion in assets, according to The Wall Street Journal. In fact, news of the billions owned by the church only became public knowledge after a whistleblower accused the organization of improperly using some of the money in the fund.
Church officials first began looking into becoming more financially viable after a period of economic hardship back in the 1960s. Part of this response was creating an investment branch, called Ensign Peak Advisors. Though it remains shrouded in secrecy, former members of the fund have claimed that it has around $100 billion in assets. If it contains as much as rumored, it is the same size — if not bigger — than SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the world’s largest tech-investment fund.
The vast sum has been over half a century in the making, grown as Mormons generally give at least 10 percent of their incomes to the Church, in addition to financial appreciation.
Church officials have defended the secretive stash by claiming that the money is being stored to help build their faith communities in poorer places like Africa, where congregants will likely not be able to pay the traditional 10 percent tithe.
Others added that it was good to have stored up funds in case of another economic crash.
“We don’t know when the next 2008 is going to take place,” said Ensign Peak member Christopher Waddell.
“If something like that were to happen again, we won’t have to stop missionary work,” he added.
However, it has been reported that the fund remained untouched during the 2008 recession.
The head of Ensign Peak, Roger Clarke, added that he did not believe they had been misleading congregants because he believed they would have continued to give money to the church anyway.
“Paying tithing is more of a sense of commitment than it is the church needing the money,” Clarke said. “So they never wanted to be in a position where people felt like, you know, they shouldn’t make a contribution.”
However, some members have expressed their disappointment with church leadership. One such person is Carolyn Homer, who said that she was concerned that the church cared more about its own wealth than feeding the poor.
“When I hear members of the church say, ‘It’s none of your business how wealthy we are,’ that to me is echoing the very scripture we revere, and not in a good way,” she confessed.
News of the hidden billions comes as a populist wave has been building against the wealthy. Just earlier today, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders blasted billionaires and CEOs for giving campaign contributions, as was previously covered by The Inquisitr.