And thou shalt have treasure in Heaven
“Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell all that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” Matthew 19:21 (KJV)
In December 2019 the news broke that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has amassed a fortune of at least $100 billion. Roger Clarke, head of Ensign Peak Advisors, which manages the investment holdings, told The Wall Street Journal that the reason why the amount of money, which comes from tithing dollars, was kept hush hush is because paying 10% of their income in the form of tithing is a commitment members make to the church and they never want members to feel as if they shouldn’t contribute. The whistle blower who leaked the information to the press has said that the church has indicated that the need for that amount of funds is for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
To me, hoarding $100 billion to be used at a later, unknown date, when there are human beings suffering here and now is, frankly, obscene. I’ve listened to all of the apologetic arguments of why a single entity needs that amount of money and none of them make any ethical or moral sense to me. Not when in my daily profession as a social worker I see so much suffering that can be solved with money, and in my opinion, should be solved with money by a church that claims to be headed by Jesus Christ. Here are just a few world issues that leading experts have said could be solved with $100 billion USD. To me these issues are more in line with Christ’s mission of giving to the poor and following Him, than money just sitting in an investment fund collecting interest.
- The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that it would only cost $1 billion to eliminate trachoma world-wide. 200 million people are at risk of blindness caused by trachoma and 3.6 million of them need surgery to prevent the loss of eyesight. And it would be easy to eradicate it because trachoma is caused by bacteria that is treatable with antibiotics.
- The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that it would only take $1.5 billion to eradicate polio. Although polio has been almost completely eradicated, there is still an endemic in 3 countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria and Pakistan.
- Researchers at Bentley University in Massachusetts believe that $8.5 billion would completely eradicate malaria. Malaria is a mosquito-borne illness that is still killing hundreds of thousands of people a year.
- The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations estimates that world hunger could be ended with just $30 billion. Just a cool $30 billion and all of the malnourished people in the entire world would have adequate nutrition.
- According to WaterAid about 2.3 billion people don’t have a decent toilet and 844 million people don’t have access to clean water. Experts at the World bank estimate the cost of delivering universal safe drinking water and sanitation is estimated at $150 billion a year.
- Experts have suggested that to end extreme poverty worldwide would cost $175 billion. Extreme poverty is defined in the most basic sense as having an income of less than $1.90 a day.
My favorite Scripture verses in the New Testament are in Matthew 25. Verses 31 – 46 are known as the “Final Judgment” verses when Christ will separate the sheep from the goats. The sheep are the righteous who treated those who were the “least of these” like they would treat Christ, Himself.
“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”
The goats are the unrighteous who did none of those things. They deny those in need food, drink, fellowship, clothing, shelter, safety, warmth, friendship. “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46).
Greed takes so many forms and allowing people to suffer needlessly when you have the solution is the opposite of being a sheep to me. When the final judgment comes, I don’t want to stand before the Shepherd, my Savior, Jesus Christ, knowing that I was a goat who saw needs, who saw suffering, and gave only a little or did nothing at all. I wonder what Christ would think of people using his name to stockpile revenue in cash when they could end world hunger three times over. I’m sure there will be those who argue with me and will tell me all of the good acts of service the Church does, and I would never deny that they do. But it isn’t enough when the resources you have are so great. “To whom much is given, much is required.”
And this is what I find most reprehensible – To allow people to suffer the world over, to deny people temple recommends or help from church welfare UNLESS they pay their tithing, to coax good people who love Jesus Christ and just want to serve Him out of 10% or more of their income under threat of their eternal salvation, to tell poverty stricken people to pay their tithing before they buy food for their children, while sitting on a proverbial mountain of gold is greedy.
And greed will always be the moral character of a goat.