The American government allows religious groups to use their tax exempt status to invest in the stock market and other stocks. Churches are using millions of dollars to buy stocks in lucrative businesses around the world. More dollars have been given to investment companies by way of loans and mortgages in exchange for the original investment plus the interest for the money. The churches have taken advantage of this “privilege” of tax exemptions, and are taking high risks with the hope of enjoying big profits. God’s “sacred” offerings have been invested in stocks of industries, services, insurance companies, preferential stocks, bonds from federal agencies, and federal government bonds. And all this virtually tax exempt with the interchange transaction #1031, a maneuver used to avoid the payment of taxes.
One of the most common arguments presented by those who support the investment of church money in stock markets is: “There is nothing dishonest or immoral in aspiring to a generous profit in response to an investment. Farmers expect to be well paid for their harvest, the factory worker expects a good reward for his work, y the merchant tries to sell his articles for more than what he paid for them. Therefore there is nothing wrong in trying to better the economy of the church, as we invest in the stock market.”
Some could even argue that in the days of Jesus there wasn’t a Modern Stock Market, therefore we don’t know which position he would have taken. Nonetheless the concept of greed, selfishness, love of money, and the desire of becoming rich quickly, are familiar concepts existing in each generation.
On the other hand, Christians are already rich. Jesus said: “buy of me gold refined in the fire, that ye may be rich.” (Rev. 3:18). He also warns us about the danger of trusting in riches: So is he who makes for himself treasures, and is not rich in God’s ways.” (Luke 12:21). Nobody can deny that investments and the stock market are dominated by only one purpose, to make plenty of money to become rich.
Many merchants and investors, take big risks with the hope of making a good money deal. People get involved in the stock market with the hope of getting something, some profit. And even the non-profit organizations want to obtain something for their investments with tax exemptions.
“How long will the Lord allow the oppression of the poor, so that men can accumulate riches? These men are accumulating treasures for the last days. Their Money is placed where moth and rust doth corrupt. To add to their millions, the steal from the poor, and the cry from the hungry is for them as the baking of a dog. But the Lord writes each act of oppression as is made to him.
The Money changers
Much greed and selfishness prevailed in the Jewish temple in the days of Christ. Jewish pilgrims and non Jews from all parts of the world, would come to the temple at Jerusalem seeking God, during the time of the Passover. Once they arrived, the foreigners had to deal with the money changers. Being that there was no receiving foreign currency, the money changers would sell “the shekel of the temple” at a very elevated exchange price, plus a tip for their services, or would sell the animals for sacrifice at exorbitant prices. With more than one million pilgrims gathered in the temple during Passover, the money changers would overcharge the worshippers. The priests also were well rewarded by the money-changers. “It was required that each Jew pay annually half shekel as “the redemption for himself,” and the money collected was used for the maintenance of the temple (Exodus 30:12-16). Additionally, large sums were brought as volunteer offerings, which were deposited in the treasury of the temple. Y it was necessary that all foreign currency be exchanged for another called the temple shekel, which was accepted for the service of the sanctuary. The currency exchange gave opportunity for fraud and extortionism, and it had evolved in a shameful practice, which was a source of income for the priests.” (Desire of Ages, p. 128, 129; in Spanish). When Jesus entered the temple, “he overturned the tables of the money changers” (Marc 11:15), and called the temple a den of thieves.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church is not immune to this practice, and has its own investments in the Stock Market. In reports of years past, given by the treasurer of the General Conference, we can see how carefully the churches are observing the stock markets of the world, in order to know what amount they have gained for the money they have invested.
The General Conference invested a total of $82.6 million. Approximately $16.8 million of which was invested in the stock market. We can trace it with index 500 of the Standard & Poor. In order to assist the delegates in perceiving the impact, an exchange point in the index of the market S&P 500, signifying an exchange of $20,000 to the value of the investments of the General Conference. Until now they have had a loss of 6 million dollars according to the Report of the Annual Council of 2002, by the treasurer of the GC Robert Lemon.
“The GC Faces a Mayor Financial Challenge”. In other word, the church is following very closely the markets of the world, because the S&P rises one point, the church gains $20,000. And if it goes down 10 points the church loses $200,000 and so on. This is only to serve as a reminder when the moment arrives to put your money in the offering plate on Sabbath morning. Millions of these dollars are being derailed to worldly businesses which open their doors on Sabbaths, so that those offerings may be multiplied by way of secular businesses. It is important to note that these numbers do not include none of the values that are property or investments of the individual conferences of every division, nor of the values that are property of institutions of health, schools, fraternity institutions, associations, subsidiaries, welfare, special ministries and more on the list. Each department has its portfolio of investments. How large are these investments which are tax exempt? No one knows. It’s almost impossible for anyone, including church officials, to investigate how much money the SDA institutions have invest-ted in the stock markets, due to the diversity of names used for hiding the portfolios of the church.
It is a common practice of organizations and individuals to place a hidden. Thousands of accounts handled by banks have names codified that in fact expert investigators have felt frustrated en trying to establish identities. Regarding this let us note the council of Sister White with respect to the Lord’s money: “My brother, will you make an investment to secure the heavenly pearl of great price? ... This is mining stock, in which you may invest without running a risk of disappointment. But, my dear friend, we have not a dollar of the Lord’s money to invest in mining enterprises in this world.”---(Councils on Stewardship, p. 243).
“The church cannot measure itself by the world, . . .”—(Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 82; Translated directly from the quote in Spanish). If God by way of his prophet declared that not even “one dollar” of His money should be invested in worldly enterprises, then why should we risk millions of dollars of God’s money en financial secular markets? To seek profits? Has God been left without money? Does the success of God’s church depend on the world’s financial success? Are we to take Jesus a gift of all the profit, as He returns to the earth? How many missionary workers would be sent to the world if these funds were invested for the Lord’s cause? How many could be benefited from real missionary work? How much literature from the Last Warning To The Earth, which contains the truth for this hour could be distributed, so the world could be warned, and Jesus then come, and we finally go home and inherit our true riches? “If every soldier of Christ had done his duty, if every watchman on the walls of Zion had given the trumpet a certain sound, the world might ere this have heard the message of warning. But the work is years behind. While men have slept, Satan has stolen a march upon us.”---(Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 9, p. 29).