In Canada, advancing religion is considered a charitable cause. When we wrote our Cost of Religion in Canada report in 2019, we received a number of comments about the “good” that charities do with donated money. And while we agree that some of the money donated to religious charities in Canada does support worthwhile causes, religious charities appear to also exaggerate the amount of work they do to support society’s neediest people.
In 2019, CFIC nominated the Vatican for a Scammie award for their misappropriation of parishioner’s donations to Peter’s Pence, the church’s annual appeal for funds to support “the most in need.” It turns out that only 10 percent of the funds went to the most in need. The rest went to the Vatican.
More recently, the Mormon church’s spending (or lack thereof) on charitable purposes has been the subject of a lawsuit. James Huntsman is suing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He claims that he has been defrauded of millions of dollars in donations. The church misled him into believing the money would go to charitable causes.
The story of the church’s misappropriation of funds was broken by The Washington Post in 2019. It seems that the church failed to spend $100 billion that was donated for the purpose of supporting charitable causes. According to an insider, the money was distributed to for-profit businesses. In addition to the lawsuit, the IRS is being encouraged to investigate.
Closer to home, CFIC has included an analysis of the wealth held by religious charities in Canada, in our report “The Cost of Religion in Canada: An Introductory Report Exploring Advancement of Religion as a Charitable Purpose.” Click to download the report.