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The following was written by J. Brian Watkins for a website called Quora, a publication that prides itself on “the best answer to any question.” The question is stated in the title and below is Watkins’ answer.
I’ve thought a great deal about this question. Obviously, as I am not a General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (“LDS Church”) or employed at the headquarters or in the real estate division of said Church, I cannot speak to the actual amount of assets the Church controls. And, I am assuming you mean assets rather than “money” or cash. I am also quite sure that if I did know the figure, I would not be disclosing it. But the question is fair and I want to give as complete an answer as I can to avoid anything misleading. Quora will, no doubt, judge whether I have succeeded.
Right now the number one LDS Church expenditure has to be, by any reasonable estimation, the cost of its building program—both construction and maintenance. It is one thing to build something, but another thing entirely to maintain it and keep the A/C bills paid. Look around your community and odds are that you will find a relatively new LDS Chapel. On one section of the I-15 freeway in Cedar City, Utah you can see eight of them at one time. And we are building in some pretty difficult places as well as in the U.S.
Our temples, for example, are built to a standard of craftsmanship well beyond any other kind of building, there can be not the slightest blemish, because we consider our temples to be an offering to God and physically symbolic of our individual quests for spiritual perfection. See, e.g.The point being that the LDS Church can afford to and does maintain its buildings at a very high level.
You are welcome to walk through any LDS chapel and see for yourself; find a member or missionary and they would jump at the chance to walk you around your local LDS chapel. Call your bishop (Yes, you have a Mormon bishop, look him up herehe is ready to help you and can if you live in his ward boundaries even if you aren’t a Mormon.)
As for temples, before we dedicate them but after they are completed, they are open to the public for a limited time—see for yourself.
The Salt Lake Temple took 40 years to build.It would be difficult to put a price tag on that. The Provo City Center temple was constructed in the shell of a chapel that burned down—the LDS Church was awarded top honors in the Renovation/Restoration category of the Engineering News-Record for that temple. Honoring the pioneer builders of that temple wasn’t done on the cheap. See,
Our Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City, completed in 2000, won all kinds of awards and broke numerous building records for size and construction techniques—it contains an auditorium that seats 21,200 people one of the largest in the world. Its roof contains 3 acres of garden space with native trees and prairie flora.
As a people, Mormons consider themselves to be building the Kingdom of God both physically and spiritually. Spiritually, we believe that we can perform ordinances for our dead ancestors—so we spend a lot of money collecting genealogical records and building a web resource calledthat is second to none.
To read the rest of Watkins’ analysis, click here.