This church building on Portneuf Road in Pocatello, serving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is located adjacent to agricultural land also owned by the church. A new database shows the LDS church is the nation’s fifth largest private landowner.
From thousands of acres of farmlands to thousands of places of worship and from shiny commercial enclaves in urban centers to flowing fields in swelling suburbs, a newly released list shows The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns U.S. properties valued at nearly $16 billion and ranks the Utah-based faith among the nation’s top private landholders.
It may be no surprise that a growing pioneer-era church with millions of members — and devoted to acquiring land, cultivating crops, erecting temples and building Zion — would today hold vast expanses of property.
Still, the sheer scope of church-held domestic real estate yields mind-stretching numbers. And the findings emerge when many Latter-day Saints and church observers are already agog at other recently reported multibillion-dollar figures associated with the faith’s wealth.
This latest cache of data — captured in 2020 and released Tuesday by the Truth & Transparency Foundation (formerly known as MormonLeaks) — reveals a nearly 16,000-parcel collection of 1.7 million acres held by identified LDS Church firms. While the list is not complete, it nonetheless shows church lands in every state, just about every sizable metropolitan area and big blankets of territory in between.
Found in the church’s portfolio — along with the expected meetinghouses and temples — are office towers, shopping centers, residential skyscrapers, cattle ranches and high-mountain timberlands worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The faith is now Florida’s biggest landowner, controlling well above 2% of its landmass, including an enormous collection of pasturelands outside resort-rich Orlando called Deseret Ranches and a recently acquired expanse of hundreds of thousands of forested acres in the Panhandle.
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