Based on policies reminiscent of the 19th Century, LDS Women are not allowed to handle church funds. General Handbook of Instructions 1 makes this point clear in section 14.6. Only bishops, stake presidents and their counselors are allowed to receive contributions. Even the preparation of bank deposits is restricted to Melchizedec (higher level) priesthood holders (section 14.6.3), even the receipt of a contribution envelop by a church leader’s wives is strictly forbidden. (Section 14.6.1). Since priesthood is denied to women, no woman in the LDS church has any authority to handle church funds in any way.
In her July 16, 2015 Exponent II article, “Can Mormon Women Count Money,” April Young Bennett summarize the policies that exclude LDS women from any responsibility over church funds. She lists these policies as follows:
- The Deacons Quorum is assigned to collect fast offerings (and consequently, tithes and other donations as well, since they are included on the same tithing slip). Deacons are required to be male and are usually 12 and 13 years old.
- At church services, members must physically place their tithing slips in the hand of a bishopric member. Bishopric members are required to be male.
- Church funds are counted and tracked by Stake and Ward Clerks. Clerks are required to be male.
- The computer equipment and software that stores church financial records is managed by the Technology Specialist. Technology Specialists are required to be male.
- Church funds are audited by Stake Auditors. Stake Auditors are required to be male.
- While female Relief Society presidents may visit families to assess their welfare needs, their authority stops short of approving the dollar value of welfare assistance. Only Bishops may allot fast offerings to needy members. Bishops are required to be male.
- While their council members (a small minority of whom are female) make budget recommendations, decision-making authority over local congregational budgets lies with Bishops and Stake Presidents. Bishops and Stake Presidents are required to be male.
- The Council on the Disposition of the Tithes governs church fiscal policy. It is composed of the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the Presiding Bishopric, all of whom are required to be male.
It is no secret that money and power are inextricably connected. By denying women authority over money, the church excludes women from any significant power within the faith. In a series of articles, Ordain Women will discuss the connection between the prohibition against woman dealing with money, and their exclusion from power within the church. We will also discuss examples of women, who are known for their expertise in dealing with financial matters; cultural examples where women are known to surpass men in dealing with financial matters; and, legal examples where this type of discrimination against women is prohibited by law, except for the protection the church receives from the first amendment free exercise clause to discriminate.
This type of behavior by the LDS church makes no sense in the modern world. It is a throwback to the days when a woman was legally the property of a man. It reflects the long ago discredited notions that women are beings of lower intellect, creatures of emotion, who are not fit to make the important decisions in this world. Ordain Women categorically rejects this 19th Century view of women, which forms the basis for LDS Church doctrine today. We call on our church leaders to abandon these outdated views of women, and grant women ordination and full equality within the church, including the ability to fully participate in the finances of the church.
Honoring our Past,
Envisioning our Future.
Mark Barnes, the author of this post, is the Board Chair of Ordain Women’s Finance Committee.