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January 24th, 2012
04:50 PM ET

Romney tax returns shine light on Mormon tithing

By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor

(CNN) - Although many Americans may have wondered just how much money Mitt Romney makes and how much he pays in taxes in the lead-up to the release Tuesday of his tax documents, there was little suspense around how much he gives to his church.

That's because all Mormons in good standing with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are required to give 10% of their salaries as a tithe.

"Mormon children are expected to begin tithing from their very first allowance," says Terryl Givens, an expert on Mormonism at the University of Richmond. "And there's never any variation on the 10%, whether you're on welfare or you're a millionaire."

Mitt Romney and his wife, Ann, gave even more to their church last year. Tax documents released Tuesday show they gave $2.6 million, more than 12% of the roughly $21 million they earned. The Romneys also gave $1.4 million last year in cash and stock to their family foundation, which heavily supports the LDS Church.

In 2010, the other year for which the Romneys released a federal tax return, they gave $1.5 million to the LDS church, 7% of their earnings, plus $900,000 to their family foundation, called the Tyler Foundation.

The Tyler Foundation gave $145,000 to the LDS church in 2010, so the Romneys' church donations average out to 10% over the last two years.

Unlike in most Christian traditions, in which the decision about whether to tithe is made individually by each church member, giving to the LDS Church is enforced. Participation in important ceremonies at Mormon temples is contingent on being paid up.

"For Mormons, tithing is an article of faith, not an economic principal," said Givens, who is Mormon. "Some critics see it as tying worthiness to an economic contribution."

He calls it "an important differentiator between devout Mormons and nominal Mormons."

A survey of American Mormons released earlier this month by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found that eight in 10 say they tithe to the church.

Tithing dates back to the earliest Mormons, with the LDS Church's 19th century founder, Joseph Smith, drawing on the Bible's Old Testament as precedent for 10% church support. Smith also wrote about tithing in the Doctrine and Covenants, a Mormon holy book comprising Smith's revelations from God.

For early Mormons, tithing was as much practical as theological. As the early Mormon community journeyed from state to state across America, often on the run from persecution, tithing was an important way for the community to sustain itself.

"Early Mormons were outcasts from society and suffered extreme deprivation and they needed to take care of themselves and take care of the church on a day-to-day basis," Givens said. "To this day, Mormons are known for taking care of their own."

Today, tithing finances the administration of the Salt Lake City, Utah-based LDS Church, the construction of Mormon temples - which are rapidly proliferating as Mormonism grows worldwide - and the church-owned Brigham Young University.

Mormons are also encouraged to give separately to their local congregations and to a church humanitarian fund that goes to international relief projects. The church urges Mormons to fast on the first Sunday of each month and to donate the cost of the food they would typically eat to the humanitarian fund.

An informal 2011 survey by the National Association of Evangelicals found that most evangelical leaders on its 100-person board of directors don't believe the Bible requires tithing. Just 42% of the board members said that is true.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Mitt Romney • Money & Faith • Mormonism • Politics

soundoff (1,579 Responses)
  1. wade moran

    Why not all this attention about tax returns when BHO was running? Oh yeah, you actually have to earn something in order to file a tax return, not be on the receiving end of handouts like all of the brainwashed lemmings who voted him into office

    January 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  2. Texas Doc

    You mean he's not a Christian? Vote Newt, at least he believes in God.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      I believe it is the SAME God. Why don't you stop being so bigoted in the name of Christianity? Who taught you these lies? Your Pastor??

      January 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Stone Cold

      MoCh, Jesus called the Pharisees vipers.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Frank

      Uuh, I think he was just being facetious. Don't get your long johns in a tussle MormanChristian.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Russ

      @ MormonChristian:
      The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God and that human beings cannot 'become' God (though God can become human – as Jesus did).
      I am under the distinct impression that the LDS feels strongly otherwise on both counts. Feel free to help me see what I'm missing.

      But instead of putting words in your mouth, I'll ask the question this way:
      Do you believe you can or will become a God after this mortal probation (I believe that's the term Mormons use)?

      January 24, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • Josh

      "If ye love Me, keep my commandments." John 14:15
      Newt's actions say otherwise. If you can't give Mormon doctrine a second look at this time, I understand. But at least consider the character of the candidates. This is your responsibility as a citizen.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Doug

      Believing in God is great, but Newt should try living a virtuous life. He's got the two disconnected.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
    • possum

      You mean Newt "Family Values" Gingrich? Calista would be the First Lady and the First HomeWrecker.

      January 24, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • uisignorant

      "Russ

      @ MormonChristian:
      The Bible clearly teaches that there is only one God and that human beings cannot 'become' God..."

      Care to point that out?

      January 24, 2012 at 7:55 pm |
    • Debby

      Gingrich believes in himself and thats it.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Another Mormon

      @Texas Doc
      I will answer your question. As a Mormon, I believe that God, as our Father in Heaven, wishes for us to be more like him, to be more Christlike. In Matthew 5:48, Christ commands: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." God's wants us to be perfect, like him. I believe that God wants to share his power and glory with us, his children. In heaven, we will continue to learn and progress and to be more like God. As we learn to act more like Christ, we will have a part of his glory and power. We will learn to create, as God does. So yes, in that sense, we believe that we will become gods. However, I will always be subordinate to God. He will always be my creator, my father. Just as a successful child reflects well on his parents, as we become more like God, we glorify Him. Also, none of this would be possible, were it not for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We Mormons believe that only because he died on the cross, and paid the price for our sins, can we be forgiven and become more like Him.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Another Mormon

      Sorry, I meant @Russ's question. I hope I answered it.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • dinabq

      Who taught you the secret handshakes?

      January 25, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • Ran

      @Another Mormon Can you please let me know what Adam and Eve's sin was then if it is God's ultimate goal for us to be gods? Also, we are created in God's image so we share many of his traits, we in Christ also grow more and more as we follow Jesus to be like Him. However, God will never share His glory with anyone. This is totally false. He created us for His glory not for us to share His glory. Get that clear my friend!

      January 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
    • copo

      Two things: The church is called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, not "the mormon church". And we believe that God wants us to progress and become like him, glorious, resurrected beings. He is our father. What perfect father wouldn't want us to become like him?

      January 28, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  3. Texan

    The church DOES NOT fund political campaigns. Check your facts!

    January 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Lisa

      I would suggest you do a little research to see who the main contributor to California's "Yes on 8" campaign in 2008 was. Churches are not supposed to donate/fund campaigns but I have no doubt they know how to get around those laws and do so anyway.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Tom

      Yes they did actually. Check *your* facts. The LDS Church donated to the political cause known as Proposition 8. Not only did the church encourage its members to support Prop 8, but some donations were made by the church itself. Look it up. Tax exempt, money grubbing, in-your-face, LDS Church. That's what it is, and I'm not even one of those biased people that think Mormons are not Christian. I'm just stating facts.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • Jared

      @Lisa The members of the LDS church, not the church itself, donated to Prop 8

      January 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Erik

      Prop 8 is not a political cause. It is a social cause decided not by congressmen but by the vote of the people, thus not being political ie no parties were involved

      January 24, 2012 at 6:55 pm |
  4. Sanity

    Romney sent over $6 million down a rat hole (taxes to Obama) and sent $8 million to be used to help humanity. Too bad he had to waste so much of it.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Dave

      You think it is better to give to the mormon church than government. What, I have to join the mormon church to get any benefits? Instead of Sanity, how about Insanity.......

      January 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • CGeek2k

      I have never seen a church use their money to help humanity. They build giant complexes for their own people and when the needy come calling, they turn them away as being unworthy. Or would you consider a single mother with an 8yo son and 5yo daughter living in the back of a van unworthy?

      January 24, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      Actually, MOST recipients of Mormon aid worldwide are not members. Like the people in Africa where we build wells or provide medical/dental service or food. In local congregations the Fast Offering takes care of local members' needs so perhaps that is where the confusion lies.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  5. Charitable Contributions

    Though not highly publicized in major media outlets, the LDS church donates and makes vast service contributions all over the world for a number of causes, humanitarian and others, without regard for donees' religious beliefs - the dollar amounts of donations is now in the billions of dollars. The LDS church itself does not fund political campaigns, though members are encouraged to participate in all political processes without restrictions.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  6. Bookenz

    Most religions are all about the money.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      So, just how do you fund buildings, schools, universities, etc? The money is not allowed to go to "proselyting". We pay for our own.

      I'm just amazed at the prejudice and misinformation of so many bloggers here...

      January 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
  7. @Tothiwim

    Donations should not be tax exempt where attention to proselytization is a pre-condition to receiving charitable services or when the funds are used for salaries or other costs at locations other than the site where charitable services are provided. Religious charities often do more harm than good in the long run. Cultural traditions such as religion are comprised of a tiny sprinkling of wisdom mixed into an ocean of mindless ignorance handed down as humanity’s most common addiction from sheep-minded parents to their sheep-minded children, usurping the fundamental responsibility of every thinking being to think for oneself. Don’t give a penny to any charity that does not hand out free contraceptives and unbiased family-planning education along with their other services; it is an act of pure evil to teach that family planning is a sin in areas suffering from chronic over-population.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Bill

      We can see taking religion out of society has had such "positive" effects like 50% of children born out of wedlock, and men completely ignoring their children. This break up of the family has much to do with the cultural problems that America faces today. Religion, for all its flaws, at least promotes the concept of family, and it is not a coincidence that its decline has resulted in a decline of morals. "Liberal" values have taken us to such a wonderful place as you can see how children now behave.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Bill

      There is no evidence to link the decline of religion with the decline in values of a country as a whole. If it were true the bible belt would have the lowest divorce rate among many other things.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Mike

      @HawaiiGuest – All you have to do is look to the LDS Church for that statistic. I live in the Bible Belt and unfortunately there is too much of a gap between what is preached and professed and what is lived. The way religion is practiced down here is everyone goes to church whenever they need a pick-me-up (or to be entertained) to be told how great they are, how much God loves them, and how they really should try to follow Christ's example, but if they don't it's okay because they are saved. By their fruits ye shall know them.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  8. Bill

    Another example of CNN and other liberal networks as many stories about Romney being "Mormon" because the know this is a negative attribute in many voters eyes. The articles will only increase in number closer to election.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • The Phist

      As long as the candidate believes in an imaginary being, they don't get my vote. I can't trust a person to handle issues dealing with reality if they believe in things that aren't real.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • James PDX

      Doesn't people being interesting in knowing something by nature make it newsworthy? Is your tinfoil hat too tight?

      January 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • misinformed

      The Phist: How could you be so sure? Even some a genius' would never make such a statement.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Bill McElhiney

      Bill,
      The evangelical christian right seems more worried about Romney's Mormanism than the left. I can understand that they think that Romney is giving a lot of money to the Morman Church and the church is using that money to convert the evangelical youth to Mormanism.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • darntootin

      One can only hope these types of stories WILL continue. "Terryl Givens, an expert on Mormonism at the University of Richmond. "And there's never any variation on the 10%..." Required? Yes, requirements are what CULTS are all about.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • The Phist

      I just don't trust people who believe in imaginary beings. It's called mental illness.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Erik

      You seriously do not understand God or religion. Is there any difference between a commandment and a requirement. God said do not commit adultery. A requirement for salvation. Do not lie. Again another requirement. Do not murder .......

      January 24, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  9. The Phist

    Joseph Smith would have been proud. If he didn't have a bullet or two in him.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • wade moran

      Just like JFK!

      January 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Answer man

      4 actually, But seeing as you don't vote you should probably keep your opinons to yourself.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • The Phist

      Freedom of speech amongst other things gives me the right to state my opinion as I please. If you don't like it, take the path of Joseph Smith. Thanks in advance.

      Just for the record, voting is a right, and not a requirement. Shove one of these religious candidates sideways into your bum. I'll find someone to pray for your swift recovery.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Will

      The Phist is an ignorant Son of a #$%^* who hides under the first amendment while spewing hateful opinions. His character has been exposed. However, the moment anyone counters his opinion and spits on him he cries like a $#^$*. Ya, we see right through you. Go ahead and say what you would like in retaliation. It doesn't change the fact that you are a moron. In fact, it will only further validate the truth about you.

      February 8, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  10. Mike

    Romney gave 15% of his earnings to charity, Obama gave 1% and Biden gave $369. That tells you a lot.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • j

      in 2010, Obama gave 14% of his income to charity, Gingrich 3%, Romney 14%

      http://money.cnn.com/pf/taxes/storysupplement/candidates-tax-returns/?hpt=hp_c1

      January 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • Thinkformyself

      I would HARDLY call giving money to the wealthy Mormon church giving to charity!

      January 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • cmxsmitty

      Where does it say he gave that amount to charity?

      January 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • Jariv

      The wealth of the church are Called blessings. Those blessings are distributed to people in need. The church does not brag about it, I think they should. But, I know they won't.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Joseph Smith

      Uh, like what? That Romney's a brainwashed zealot in a cult?

      January 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Lisa

      Romney is required to do donate 10% to his Church in order to remain in good standing and that is considered a "donation" for IRS purposes. Not like he had a choice.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
    • Michael

      Get your figures correct on what Obama gave to charity ; birdbrain. They are there in front of in the circle graphs. See the pretty colors !!!

      January 24, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  11. j

    It irks me that every time CNN posts a story about mormonism, they bring up the fact that they were persecuted early on in the formation of their religion. What is consistently omitted however, is that they were responsible for one of the deadliest massacres in US history, the mountain meadows massacre. They killed ~120 unarmed men, women and yes children in a single day out in Utah. So while yes, they were persecuted, it was not without reason.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Devo

      The persecution of the Mormons began before they settled in Utah. Read history...it is full of fun little facts.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Cllgestdnt

      Just to put the facts out there, Yes, women and children were killed, but these "members" did it in direct violation of what the church said. Also, this terrible incident occurred several years after the Mormons were driven out of countless counties in the Midwest. The government's actions were not just at all.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Lance Wilson

      You're an idiot as well. This massacre happened after the worst persecutions.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • Jariv

      Please take some history lessons. Make sure you collect and retain the information OK.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • j

      I didn't say that they weren't persecuted, my point was that early mormons were not saints (figuratively or literally). Given the mountain meadows massacre, whatever the timeline of events, makes it pretty difficult to paint the early mormons as innocent religious refugees who were simply persecuted because of their beliefs.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Jariv

      Like we said, Go to the text books and research some facts. Stop writing. You are only adding to your ignorance factor. Please, ok.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      No argument – the Mountain Meadows Massacre was horrible. We are ashamed of what happened there in the LDS Church. However, our persecution began decades before in the eastern half of the country, long before our people moved to Utah. Please read your history...

      January 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Montanamormon

      MormonChristian: While I appreciate your comments, please do not act like a spokesman for the Church. I don't believe anybody gave you that authority

      January 24, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • Urmomlol

      @J: They were legally required to remove polygamy from their doctrine as a Government requirement for their doors to stay open. Personally, I'm not ENTIRELY certain that was legal, but the Warren Jeffs type situations make me want to vomit.

      January 24, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
  12. abtime

    "Taking care" of one's own extends beyond financial support when it comes to the well being of a human being. Those helpless, terorrized, little girls of the Mormon faith, who are forced to be wives, in "plural marriages" could benefit from someone with, first hand, knowledge of their conditions "taking care" of them. When is the Mormon in this race going to be asked about this splinter of his faith?

    January 24, 2012 at 5:29 pm |
    • Cllgestdnt

      Read history. The LDS church officially announced that they were not associated with those groups about 100 years ago.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
    • RLP1509

      Will you please realize that these "splinter" groups are not part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons). People like Warren Jeffs and his group have never been part of the mainstream Mormon faith. Mitt Romney nor any other elected official of the Mormon faith has any obligation to represent these "splinter" groups.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Aaron

      Mormons haven't practice polygamy in over 100 years. Anyone who does is immediately excommunicated.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Amy

      Hi adtime,

      I am a member of the LDS faith and you are getting yourself confused. The LDS faith does not force young teenage girls to get married or have plural marriages. That is the FLDS church that Warren Jeffs is over and is in jail for. We do not associate with them. I am 25 years old, I got married back in July, and I am my husband's only wife and will be his only wife. If you would like to do some factual research you can visit http://www.mormon.org. There you will learn the truths about the church.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • kayster

      the splinter group you refer to has absolutely nothing to do with romney's religion. it's just that - a splinter. they broke off well over 125 years ago and that's the end of that. period.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Bruce

      Why is Romney responsible for answering questions about a splinter faith? There's a few hundred RLDS and over 14 million real LDS. Who cares?

      January 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • Dave

      Give me a break! There is a hundred years between the Church of Jesus Christ and its splinter groups! Why dont you have a Catholic defend the Protestant faith? That would make just about as much since you idiot. Romney is running for political office, not religious office.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • DrBoaz

      You are ignorant, no surprise. Since the 1800's, Mormons would be excommunicated for practicing polygamy...or committing adultery... interesting enough...if Newt were Mormon, he would have been excommunicated... twice.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • gnsh

      Sounds like you mean the faith of which Warren Jeffs is the prophet? That would be the FLDS. Romney is LDS, only one wife is allowed in the faith, none of which is forced. If you are interested in the multiple wife scenarios, Gingrich is your best bet! The religious right voting for Gingrich in South Carolina…way to roll over and play dead ‘Christians’!

      January 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • j

      I'm gonna have to agree with abtime. Joseph Smith claimed to have received a vision from God commanding him to take multiple wives. 50 odd years later the higher ups at LDS decide its not-politically tenable, and directly contradict Joseph Smiths vision from God.

      If Joseph Smith was wrong about polygamy, how can you justifiably claim he was right about everything else? No one is saying "Jesus had some good points, except that one thing where he was way off base"

      January 24, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
  13. Widow's mite

    "An informal 2011 survey by the National Association of Evangelicals found that most evangelical leaders on its 100-person board of directors don't believe the Bible requires ti thing. Just 42% of the board members said that is true."

    If that is indeed true then it is very apalling indeed!
    Evangelicals-u gotta learn from the Mormons.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • crazyvermont

      Never sure where CNN gets informal information but as one belonging to mainline evangelical church, 10% is considered thee bare minimum and offerings are up and above. We have a family in our church who actually give 90% of all they earn and live on the other 10% Realize that is rare but it does happen

      January 24, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
  14. Devo

    Apparently the GRS (God Revenue Service) has not provided loopholes for Mr. Romney to exploit...although I'm sure that he's got his lawyers looking into it.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Jariv

      Like you don't look for them either. Hypocrite!

      January 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
  15. supercool

    and then the mormon church uses that money to electioneer against marriage equality in california. Churches should be taxed

    January 24, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Jariv

      I dont know how you get that. Are you involved with the church or the group that accepts the money from the church to make that accusation ? Do not confuse members with the church giving money, to the church giving Money.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • je

      Agreed and I live in Utah!

      January 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • DrBoaz

      "In addition to small, personal acts of service, Mormons give large, organized assistance to areas in need. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated more than $1 billion in cash and material assistance to 167 different countries in need of humanitarian aid since it started keeping track in 1985."

      How much humanitarian aid did the atheist give? I wonder...

      We are “to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to provide for the widow, to dry up the tear of the orphan, to comfort the afflicted, whether in this church, or in any other, or in no church at all…” Joseph Smith, “Times and Seasons,” March 15, 1842

      After Katrina and after the tornadoes hit the Midwest 2 years ago, our small Mormon congregation of ~200 volunteered to help and sent 27 men to assist in the clean-up effort for a week. Giving money and service to aid our fellowman is an essential part of who we are as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints- if you believe Christ- you follow Him.

      The haters will continue to hate and mock those that actually give more than lip-service.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  16. Martin

    So Mr Romney has no problem giving up an additional 12% of his income to the Church in taxes but won't give it to the Government?

    Hypocracy of religion – only the poor man can enter the Kingdom of Heaven but the Church (ANY Church) is pretty much the richest organization on the planet.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • garza2526

      Romney gives to the US government what is required by US tax law. He chooses to give additional to a charity. What's so hard to understand?

      January 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • Cllgestdnt

      Can you blame him? He already pays his taxes, what's wrong with giving to an organization to which he belongs? By your logic you should give any of your charitable funds to the government instead of the homeless shelter.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Lance Wilson

      You're an idiot....and your statement makes no sense.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Justinstl

      Its crazy....Churches are tax exempt...right but yet people who donate to the church can claim their donations as a tax deduction. In my world you wouldn't be able to claim any donations whatsoever as tax deductible!

      January 24, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • crazyvermont

      I'm not Mormon but fail to see the hypocrisy here Martin?? Churches, like any other organization, require funds to operate and they certainly don't rely on government. I belong to a social organization and we are required to give to support. Don't see the difference and my guess is you just have a "beef" with faith based organizations

      January 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • jamesr1976

      The government does not spend our money wisely.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • crazyvermont

      @justin....tax deductions on donations are exempt because they help people donate to such worth organizations as Red Cross etc. If they were tax delectable, many worthwhile and charitable organizations couldn't operate

      January 24, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • wade moran

      Actually, Martin, if you've actually read the article and all the others recently on Romney's tax returns, he gave 15% to the Federal Govt, so he actually gave more to the Govt than he did to his church. I know, math can be complicated, especially when the facts are blurred by hatred.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Little John

      The wonderful thing about giving is that we can choose to give to whom we wish. Romney chose to give more to his church than his government. Your government will gladly take donations above what they require of you. From a business standpoint there are no reports anywhere of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints troubled by deficit spending. Hmmm, something to think about.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  17. The Truth

    I hope peole can see through what you called, HONESTY and INTEGERITY!! If you look at NEWT, HE USED RELIGION for HIS PERSONAL BENEFITS!! for POWER and for MONEY!! He had said, PROTESTANT, CHRISTIANS, and then NOW A CATHOLIC, but if you look at what he has given to these religion(for the sakes of poor and povety) I know it is not going to be even 3%.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Bruce

      And how would you "know" that? Moron.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Bobbie

      @Bruce
      http://money.cnn.com/pf/taxes/storysupplement/candidates-tax-returns/?hpt=hp_c1
      Looks like Newt gave about 3% to me.

      February 17, 2012 at 2:48 am |
  18. CGeek2k

    Wow, mandatory 10% of your income?? If I had to give away 10% of my income, I wouldn't have the money to eat. Though with the Romneys giving $4mil to the church, my $3k over 2 years wouldn't be significant anyway.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • balh

      you shouldn't eat your money

      January 24, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • Jariv

      @balh - hahahahaha.... That's so true. He should not eat the money. Also, by what he is saying he does not attend church, and misses the blessings that he could have been given.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • CGeek2k

      Lol, nicely played. I guess I should have said that I wouldn't be able to afford to buy the food I need to eat. It's not like I waste the money on toys like I see a lot of people doing. I only have internet at home because we can split the cost between 5 roommates. I can only afford to drive because I have a $500 beat up Geo Metro that gets almost 50mpg. Took me almost a year to save up the money to buy it. After the $350 rent payment, $500 for epilepsy meds, and $200 for student loans for a worthless engineering degree, I have almost nothing left over.

      As far as the 'blessings' from the church, when I was a child living with my baby sister and my single mother out of the back of an Astro van, we were sent away from several churches, including the one we (up until that point) frequented as being unworthy of their help. Why would they have any reason to help a single male who already has a roof over his head?

      January 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Jariv

      Hmmm....let's see
      eat or some dude saying a "prayer"
      eat or some dude saying a "prayer"

      I think I'll take the food.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Jariv

      @Hawaii - I know you know a couple of Mormons. They always have food. Maybe you haven't noticed.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
    • Ed

      this is why most Christian churches make the ti-the more voluntary. You need to take care of yourself and your family first and ti-the with what's left if you can. Also you can give directly to charity instead of a ti-the with most churches. Giving time counts to So if you can volunteer that can work as a ti-the as well. Refusing church service if someone doesn't ti-the indicates the concern is for the money not the congregation.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Jariv

      Was I talking about Mormons in general? I was responding to the specific situation brought up by the original poster. Try some comprehension skills they may serve you better than reactionary idiocy.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • CGeek2k

      Money rules all. It's truly sad, but that's how the world works. True philanthropists are very rare in today's world. I personally have never met any, but I will hope, for the sake of humanity in the long term, that there are still some out there.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Jariv

      @Hawaii - Why you say my name then ha ??

      January 24, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      @Jariv

      You mention the blessings that he could have been given that he missed. I guees automatically to me blessings mean benedictions from a church leader. You responded to CGeeks original post and I responded to your reaction of it. It would only follow that the subject would still be on the original situation.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • dinabq

      You need to pay that 10% to get a temple recommend, attend the temple to learn secret handshakes and wear magical underwear, just like Jesus.

      January 25, 2012 at 3:11 am |
  19. Reality

    More on t-ithing and the Mormon Empire:

    From: lds-mormon.com/time.shtml (Time Magazine review)

    "The first divergence between Mormon economics and that of other denominations is the t-ithe. Most churches take in the greater part of their income through donations. Very few, however, impose a compulsory 10% income tax on their members. Ti-thes are collected locally, with much of the money pas-sed on informally to local lay leaders at Sunday services. "By Monday," says Elbert Peck, editor of Sunstone, an independent Mormon magazine, the church authorities in Salt Lake City "know every cent that's been collected and have made sure the money is deposited in banks." There is a lot to deposit. Last year $5.2 billion in t-ithes flowed into Salt Lake City, $4.9 billion of which came from American Mormons."
    "The Mormons are stewards of a different str-ipe. Their charitable spending and temple building are prodi-gious. But where other churches spend most of what they receive in a given year, the Latter-day Saints employ vast amounts of money in investments that TIME estimates to be at least $6 billion strong. Even more unusual, most of this money is not in bonds or stock in other peoples' companies but is invested directly in church-owned, for-profit concerns, the largest of which are in agribusiness, media, insurance, travel and real estate. Deseret Management Corp., the company through which the church holds almost all its commercial as-sets, is one of the largest owners of farm and ranchland in the country, including 49 for-profit parcels in addition to the Deseret Ranch. Besides the Bonneville International chain and Beneficial Life, the church owns a 52% holding in ZCMI, Utah's largest department-store chain.

    All told, TIME estimates that the Latter-day Saints farmland and financial investments total some $11 billion, and that the church's nont-ithe income from its investments exceeds $600 million. "

    "Members of the church celebrate the Lord's Supper with water rather than wine or gra-pe juice. They believe their President is a prophet who receives new revelations from God. These can supplant older revelations, as in the case of the church's historically most controversial doctrine: Smith himself received God's sanctioning of pol-ygamy in 1831, but 49 years later, the church's President announced its recision. Similarly, an explicit policy barring black men from holding even the lowest church offices was overturned by a new revelation in 1978, opening the way to huge missionary activity in Africa and Brazil. "

    Don't want to pay your 10%? Incur the wrath of the prophet with a t-ithe settlement meeting!!!!

    The leaders of the Mormon Church/"Cult" are not paid? Actually, they are paid via being executives of the large Mormon-owned businesses:

    e.g. http://207.224.220.202/excerpts/hier2.htm

    "The Quorum of Twelve's president Ezra Taft Benson was a director of Beneficial Life Insurance Co. Apostle Howard W. Hunter was president of the Polynesian Cultural Center (Hawaii), and director of Beneficial Life Insurance Co., of Continental Western Life Insurance Co., of Deseret Federal Savings and Loan, of First Security Bank of Utah, of First Security Corp., of Heber J. Grant & Co., of PHA Life Insurance Co. (Oregon), of Watson Land Co. (Los Angeles), and of Western American Life Insurance Co. Apostle Thomas S. Monson was president and chairman of the board of Deseret News Publishing Co., vice-president of LDS Social Services and of Newspaper Agency Corp, and director of Beneficial Life Insurance Co., of Commercial Security Bank, of Commercial Security Bankcorporation, of Continental Western Life Insurance Co. (Iowa), of Deseret Management Corp., of IHC Hospitals, Inc., of Mountain States Telephone and Telegraph Co., of Murdock Travel, of PHA Life Insurance Co. (Oregon), of Pioneer Memorial Theater, and of Western American Life Insurance Co. Apostle Boyd K. Packer was chairman of the board of Utah Home Fire Insurance Co., while also director of Murdock Travel and of Zion's First National Bank. Apostle Marvin J. Ashton was president of Deseret Book Co., chairman of the board of ZCMI, and director of Beneficial Development Co., of First Security Bank of Utah, of First Security Corporation, of Laie Resorts (Hawaii), and of Zion's Securities Corporation. Apostle L. Tom Perry was director of American Stores Co. (which operated Skaggs Drugs and Alpha Beta supermarkets), of ZCMI, of Zion's First National Bank, and of Jewel Companies, Inc. (Chicago), and trustee of LDS Social Services and of Nauvoo Restoration. Apostle David B. Haight was director of Bonneville International Corporation, of Deseret Management Corporation, of First Security Bank of Utah, of First Security Corporation, and of Valtek, Inc., while also a trustee of Deseret Management Corporation Foundation. Apostle James E. Faust was vice-president of Deseret News Publishing Co., director of Commercial Security Bank, and of Commercial Security Bank Corporation, while also a trustee of Ballet West and of LDS Social Services. Apostle Neal A. Maxwell was director of Mountain Fuel Resources, Inc., of Mountain Fuel Supply Co., and of Deseret News Publishing Co. Apostle Russell M. Nelson was director of Zion's First National Bank. Apostle Dallin H. Oaks was chairman of the Public Broadcasting System (national), while also director of O.C. Tanner Jewelry Co. and of Union Pacific Railroad."

    January 24, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Abba-Dabba-Du

      Nice copy & paste. Now...get a life.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Reality

      Only for the those interested in a religious update:
      1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

      “New Torah For Modern Minds

      Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

      Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

      The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. “

      2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Ludemann, Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

      The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

      earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

      For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

      Current RCC problems:

      Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

      2 b., Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

      Current problems:
      Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac clerics, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

      3. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

      This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

      And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

      Current crises:

      The Sunni-Shiite blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

      4. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

      The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

      Current problems:

      The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

      5. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

      "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

      Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

      Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

      Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

      January 24, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • Jariv

      Hey Buddy !!! How about the Millions of leaders not listed on your list. Can you give us those. Please get all of it right. Not just some of it.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Scootie

      Read the first 100 words and... fell.. asleep. Zzzzzzz.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • davetharave

      ...............................

      January 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • Spence

      This isn't really a problem. Only Mormon's that want to be active in their Church do this. All you non-Mormons have nothing to whine about. Just don't get involved in the Church. It's pretty easy.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • MormonChristian

      What are you implying RE these board positions?? I've seen some of the houses and cars these men have. Nothing to shout about. They came from all walks of life before they were full-time church leaders and most make far less now than before. Most were not big businessmen like Romney but were teachers and lawyers, chemists, etc.

      All local leaders are NOT paid. Find another organization like this one and that operates without abuse of funds for so long. Do your homework!!!

      January 24, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • Bruce

      So what your saying is Mormons know how to make money and be rich and donate billions in financial aid and food aid to hundreds of countries across the globe regardless of religion. Hmmm. God must love them a lot.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  20. Voice of Reason

    Not a Romney fan – but i have to give him this. When they say 'put your money where your mouth is', he's actually doing it. There's no shortage of politicians who claim to be religious around election time, but rarely give a rip about the churches themselves, and dont want to be bothered giving out to charity. But it is refreshing for once to see a politician who gives generously to charity, and actually follows the precepts of the religion he professes (to the tune of several million bucks...)

    And while i can imagine hearing Gingrich yammering on about his piety, i dont think for a second that he'd ever actually do it.

    January 24, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • Ironicus

      Considering the "charity" he is "giving" to, I don't see any indication that he is actually being "charitable" but is only going through the motions. Much of that money went to fund political campaigns by the Mormon church, travel expenses and the like, and not charitable activities at all. The LDS is a front organization with ignorant sheep at the bottom.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:18 pm |
    • Jariv

      Ohhh Wow !!! I wonder how you know that. Because I know you are not a Mormon. Not even we know, I am sure it went to many places. Also, millions of dollars every year go to different countries and the LDS Church is usually the first to deploy help when disasters happen. The church does not brag about it, but I know what they do and wish they did.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
    • The Phist

      Jar, the church spends its money on more useless churches.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Lance Wilson

      @Ironicus. By your logic the Billions of dollars the Mormon church has only goes to fund political campaigns, travel expenses, and the like. Those are some really expensive campaigns and travel expenses, or maybe your comment just doesn't make sense.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • Jariv

      @The Phist - They ain't useless when they are being used. more than half of Mormons are outside the U.S.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • The Phist

      So, you're saying that a building built to worship something that doesn't exist is useful?

      January 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
    • Dan, TX

      Do you really know the factual history of Joseph Smith and the Mormon Church? You really need to look for yourself from sources you think are reliable.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Jariv

      @The Phist - I can't argue with that. If you are an atheist there is nothing that you are going to believe in.

      January 24, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.