But even in its unused state, the obscure physics of the market pumped and laundered through it the kind of abstract “value” you can monitor on real estate sites

Why does The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints not release financial statements?

I was always suspicious of the LDS Church for not releasing its financial records. But when Time did a cover story on the Church, with its net worth blazoned on the cover, I knew.

The LDS church has had trouble with the US government before. In the 1880s, federal troops seized the church real estate in Utah because Mormons were guilty of practicing polygamy. Congress had passed the law specifically to target the LDS church.

The Mormons had been shown and told in no uncertain terms that they were not welcome in the US, so obligingly they left — as refugees. They went to Northern Mexico, which was sovereign territory of Mexico at the time, even though hardly any Mexican citizens (or anybody) lived there. The US government, in a sense, pursued them by annexing the territory after seizing it from Mexico. (There’s that seizure thing again.) And then, of course the law was deliberately passed against rhe Mormons.

Everyone in his right mind knows the US government is hungrier for money than a vampire is for blood, and even worse, the US government is real. Federal agencies now deliberately manufacture charges against well off Midde Class persons who have anything with enough liquidity to generate cash. One farmer in the Midwest was killed in a 2am raid on his farm by law enforcement in plain clothes serving a search warrant trumped up with the help of a judge. When they broke into his house, he thought it was a home invasion. He shot at them, and they killed him. So solly, no drugs,found, and no legal liabilty for law enforcement. The local agency was strapped for cash and hoped that the farmer’s new, younger wife smoked pot, so that the land could be seized and auctioned off. No drugs were found anywhere on the property. The man was murdered by law enforcement seeking income. That is banditry.

Back to the Mormons. The estimated worth of the church is 50 billion plus. If the government has serious cash flow problems to fund a multi-billion dollar annual deficit, it is going to go through the country seizing and selling assets like a drug addict stealing his mother’s silverware and pawning it. It will just do it under color of the law.

The main vulnerability of the Mormons is financial — the church has been burned to the third degree once already, so it keeps its conduct as legally unassailable as possible.

However, open records would give government agents trolling for money a chance to look for something they could show a judge and call crime. If the records are not public, they can still do it, but it makes it harder.

Still think keeping records private suggests crime? The Clinton Foundation was opened, not in the US, but Canada. Canadian law coincidentally prohibits the demand for records of donors.

The upshot is that, even though the LDS Church is perceived as a crazy cult that people should be afraid of, one should be even more afraid than that of the Federal government.