the business of religion pat bagley, salt lake tribune
corporation: an organized body, especially a business, that has been granted a state charter recognizing it as a separate legal entity having its own rights, privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of the individuals within the entity. The corporation is a desirable organization for a business entity for a variety of reasons, including the increased capability such an entity has to raise capital.
Bagley's cartoon is funny, and on the money. Of course, it tells only part of the truth. The Mormon Church is a corporation in the same manner that many churches, past and present, are. The faithful pay their tithes and offerings, trusting that the money goes to help the needy, build temples and churches, and also knowing full well that some of the money goes to pay salaries, fund public relations. And then, there is that nebulous gray area that nobody really thinks or talks about where the money goes: stocks, politics, controversial propositions, and who knows what else.
Some religions got their start very early and their leaders were as powerful, if not more so, than kings. This is no longer the case.
Mormons got a relatively late start, and the closest any prophet got to king status was Brigham Young, just read Mark Twain's Roughing It. The current Mormon leadership may not be as powerful as presidents or world leaders, but they have influence, and killer business acumen, and loads of money.
How about we just agree that religions can have spiritual and secular functions, and sometimes, they resemble and act like corporations, and just go on with our lives?
How the Mormons Make Money - Bloomberg Businessweek
Criticism follows Businessweek cover on Mormon Church finances - Deseret News
Organized religion is big business - The Washington Post
Mega churches, mean big business - CNN World
Churches as business, Jesus CEO - The Economist
Christian Capitalism Megachurches, Megabusiness - Forbes, Inc