Should Houses of Worship Disclose All Their Finances to Members?
Sunday, June 6, 2004; Page C13
Yes, houses of worship should disclose any financial information to a member, especially if the member believes the house of worship is acting in a less than exemplary manner. The houses of worship exist for the members, not for the people who work there. Money collected from members helps toward maintaining the house of worship.
I've seen too many "ministers" driving around in Mercedeses and Jaguars. They should be held accountable for taking money for personal gain. If the house of worship weren't doing anything wrong, it would be more than happy to give the information requested.
-- Andrea Edelen, Landover
I don't believe they should. Although churches usually request donations, there are some that request a set amount of dues; the money is in exchange for the services the church provides. Nobody would think to request financial and salary information from other establishments that provide services, such as the local gym. Although a gym provides physical support and churches provide spiritual support, they are both businesses, and how they manage their finances should be up to them.
However, members should be aware of their surroundings. I wouldn't go to a gym whose owner had a number of fancy cars and yet had faulty equipment in his facility. I would apply similar rules to places of worship.
-- LaChandra Spencer, Oxon Hill
As entities whose goal is to encourage and promote goodwill among their members, houses of worship should have nothing to hide and nothing to lose by providing financial information to anyone who requests it. It can also help prevent potential fraud and abuse.
-- Anne Houghton, Dunn Loring
Yes, I believe they should. My church has a budget meeting at least twice a year and invites the entire church. In this meeting, the church's finances are discussed, as well as salaries for all the staff, including the pastor.
-- Renee A. Davis, Washington
I believe that houses of worship should not disclose any type of information regarding other people. I feel that that is an invasion of privacy. And why would anyone in the congregation want to or need to see a person's private information, anyway? Please mind your business, and keep the focus on yourself.
-- Rosetta Kelly, Washington
Yes, I believe all financial information should be disclosed -- including salary information. The congregation provides the funds so they should be made aware of the expenses associated with those funds.
-- Sharon Ford, Fairfax
Next month's question: Should Catholic priests deny Communion to Catholic politicians who disagree with some of the church's teachings? E-mail your answer (100 words or less) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a daytime phone number.
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