The magazine article, authored by Caroline Winter, focuses on the church's for-profit businesses and the economics of the church, although it also mentions the church's several nonprofit organizations.
Winter points to the recently-opened City Creek Mall in Salt Lake City as "part of a sprawling church-owned corporate empire that the Mormon leadership says is helping spread its message, increasing economic self-reliance, and building the Kingdom of God on earth."
The article attempts to put a monetary value on the church but its conclusions are based on speculative numbers, Winter says because the church "offers little financial transparency." She notes that according to U.S. law, religions have no obligation to open their books to the public.
The church statement offers a substantial summary of the history and purpose of the church's finances. It states, "The key to understanding Church finances is to understand that they are a means to an end. They allow the Church to carry out its religious mission across the world."
Church spokesman Michael Purdy told the Deseret News the article "misses the mark." He called it "narrow and incomplete, omitting, for instance, a good deal of information given on how church resources are used."
The article talks about the church's worldwide humanitarian aid. It said according to an official church Welfare Services fact sheet, the church gave $1.3 billion in humanitarian aid in more than 178 countries and territories between 1985 and 2010.
But the church statement points out some of the church's additional humanitarian and other efforts were not included. For example, Businessweek does not detail the church's operation of chapels and temples around the world, investments in higher education, local welfare programs, its Perpetual Education Fund, family history program, and missionary work.
The increasing visibility of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has prompted media requests for information on the church's financial structure, a level of interest underscored this week by a cover story in Bloomberg Businessweek."Those who attempt to define the Church as an institution devoted to amassing monetary wealth miss the entire point: the Church's purpose is to bring people to Christ and to follow His example by lifting the burdens of those who are struggling," the church statement said.
"The key to understanding the Church is to see it not as a worldwide corporation, but as millions of faithful members in thousands of congregations across the world following Christ and caring for each other and their neighbors."