The List

I took this base list from the Internet, so a maniac may have made it, but some independent research indicates that it’s at least close to accurate. Who knows the full extent of holdings? The truth of the matter is that the Catholic Church is the richest religious organization in the world, followed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. As you can see from the list, below, the Catholic church is divided into; Catholic Church Vatican, Catholic Church Australia, and Catholic Church Germany.

The total net worth of the Catholic churches is the sum of all worth from the above-mentioned countries. The Catholic Church owns some of the greatest artworks ever created in world history. It also possesses vast gold deposits and billions of dollars in assets. The church also earns a significant amount of income from the tourism sector as the Vatican is considered an independent city-state.

However, the Catholic Church separates itself into separate units and orders for matters of ‘ownership’ and bookkeeping.

1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

The LDS Church tops among the wealthiest and richest churches in the world. This is a non-Trinitarian Christian restorationist church whose headquarters is located in the United States. It is commonly known as the LDS Church or the Mormon Church. It is worth between $100 and $130 billion.

2. Catholic Church Vatican

It is also known as the See of Rome or the Holy See. This is the Universal home of all the Catholic churches as well as the Bishop of Rome (Pope). It is worth $33 billion.

3. Catholic Church Germany

This is the Roman Church of Germany. It is part of the worldwide Catholic church in communion with the pope, assisted by the Roman Curia. Its net worth is about $26 billion.

4. Catholic Church Australia

This is part of the Worldwide Catholic Church. This church is worth about $22.3 billion.

5. Church of England

It is also known as the Anglican Church. Here, the Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric. This church has its headquarters in the United Kingdom and its net worth is about $ 9 billion.

6. Opus Dei

This church describes itself as a personal prelature of the Catholic church that helps people seek holiness in their work and ordinary activities. It has its headquarters in Italy. Its net worth is about $3 billion.

7. Church of Scientology

It was launched in May 1952 by the American author L. Ron Hubbard who came up with a program of ideas known as the Dianetics. It’s sort of a sci-fi church. It has its headquarters in the USA. Its net worth is about $2.5 billion.

8. Episcopalian Church

It was founded after being separated from the Church of England after the American Revolution. Its headquarters is located at 815 Second Avenue, New York, USA. It is worth about $2 billion.

9. Freemasonry

Freemasonry is not really a religion, but to join it, one must believe in some supreme being. Members of the Freemason are known to be very wealthy individuals who own very big organizations worldwide.

They are very powerful to the extent of having their symbol appear on the dollar bill. Claims have it that they are the richest organizations in the world. The claims seem to have little substance. Most of the funds seem to be owned by various lodges around the world.

10. The Kenneth Copeland Ministry

It is owned by Kenneth Copeland, who is an American Preacher. The church is located in Tarrant County, Texas and it is worth about $1 billion.

Footnote: LSP did not make the list personally , even though I did try to shave the numbers in his favor.

The Buddhists did not make the list. They like the Catholic Church divide themselves into different sub-organizations and money is controlled within those subsets. I asked an eminent Buddhist friend of mine about the wealth of large Buddhist organizations. He said, “Big temple, big, hungry dragon”.

The same is true of Hindu temples. Their wealth is held individually.  The aggregate is said (by Wikipedia) to be $6.5 billion.

Muslim faiths, where the wealth is also concentrated in separate organizations is said to be about $11,335 billion in the aggregate. (Wikipedia)

The Jewish faith is divided into subsets and didn’t make the list but the Lubavich sect has about $2 billion so it gets an honorable mention. For details on how they operate differently than the larger orthodox and reformed Jews, there is more here.


Another View

Faith tends to follow the family and the region of the planet your people come from. If you’re from Iran, your family is most likely Shiite Muslim. If you’re from India, you’re most likely Hindu.

In the USA there tends to be an entertainment factor that draws people to churches. There are the cowboy churches in Texas (come for the sermon, stay for the BBQ) that combine fun, great food, and faith, for example.  Usually, they’re short on hard rules. Some faith is big on hard rules and usually, with those, there is no entertainment as we’ve come to understand the entertainment typical in many protestant churches (band, paid choir, etc).

There is also the fellowship angle, but all churches have that or they seem to fade away. You must find common cause with other congregants or you stop attending (and spending).


I’m not making a point

The sermonette sometimes has a type of polemic undercurrent, but today, I’m just trying to decide why people worship where they do, and in the way that they do, and the financial angle of the whole thing intrigues. The Latter-Day Saints, as the richest, would seem to get there by requiring the faithful to pay 10% tithing and operating with low personnel/overhead costs (most leaders are volunteers).




  1. It is my understanding that the founder of the LDS movement liked the name, and some of the teachings, of the churches of Christ. When he tried to convince them to add in his super-special teachings their response was a big “NO!!!”. So he started up his own group and tried to co-opt their name into his group.
    If true, an interesting historical note of trivia.

  2. Growing up Catholic my dad would say, “The Catholic church wants you to get married early and have lots of little Catholics, Rome needs the money.”

    After a dozen year tenure as a bi-vocational pastor, our once a month Ranch Fellowship was like an Amish Sunday meeting, held in a local equipment barn; a simple service with a shared meal afterwards (sometimes BBQ). Those attending did so on purpose. No collection needed.

    Years ago had a chance encounter with Bill Hybels, before he was drummed out of Willow Creek after 45 years and announcing his retirement for later that year. Big church, purposeful. MrsPaulM help start that church when it was a youth group. I said to him our ranch church building would actually fit on his stage, his comment told me all I needed to know about the man, “Your 25 on a Sunday are no less important to God than our 25,000.” Ultimately the church and those he fostered turned on him out of envy and jealousy. They are failing now.

    What’s that saying…Money talks…Bravo Sierra walks.

    • I have my faith as do many of this blog’s readers. Some have no faith. The Sermonette is more for sharing somewhat anecdotal information in lieu of “hard sermons”. I try not to be preachy. I am interested in different faiths and systems of worship because I’m interested in a lot of things.

      You mention Bill Hybels experience. I don’t think that his experiences are unique at all. More the rule than the exception – from Loyola, to St. Francis to pretty much everybody.

      I met Billy Graham twice, many years ago in the 70’s and early 80’s, and spoke to him privately and at length. He was a very tall, broad, masculine, good-looking guy, charismatic at the pulpit. He made his crusades and millions participated. He left them feeling good and uplifted, but what happened after that? Did works follow the sermon in the broader sense? I can’t say/don’t know. To me, life is a journey, a long haul – for most of us – with death a door to the next life. Churches need to help people every day. Charisma is wonderful to lift and inspire but life sucks for most and being there in the mud, and the blood and the beer is very important if you wish to be Christ-like. I think that the Buddhists, for example, would tend to agree.

      • Exactly. BTW, same happened to us, but the comfort is God knows the heart…”Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”

        Once again, you got me thinking.

      • It has long been said that “there are no atheists in foxholes”.

        The farther organized religion gets away from those foxholes, and “the mud, and the blood and the beer” the less effective they become.

      • The more charismatic a speaker is, the more the worldly minded focus on the speaker instead of the message. I think 1 Cor. 2:1 makes a point about that.
        It was said that Henry Ward Beecher was a great speaker, and attracted large crowds.
        One Sunday, his brother stepped to the pulpit to announce that he would be preaching that day in place of his brother Henry. A number of people stood up and started leaving.
        The brother then said that, after those who came to worship Henry had left, the rest of us can start worshiping God.

      • Like anything, follow-thru is critical to success. And I’m envious (small ‘e’) of you meeting with Mr. Graham, who later in life when someone asked him what else he felt he could have done, said, “Pray more”. Humble at the core.

        • If we meet face to face one day – hopefully I’ll get into CO more with plague BS in the R/V mirror and me feeling better – I’ll share impressions in greater depth. In essence, he was a good man, with a gift for oratory, who wanted to make a difference. Though I did not meet him later, my sense is that he was frustrated by his lack of ability to meet the lofty goals that he’d set for himself. As with us all, he was a more mature, circumspect and humble man. In the fire of youth and the very prime of health we all see the world through different eyes.

  3. I agree with Saul on the masks.
    I currently attend a non-denominational church that meets in a building that the methodists built in the 60s. Another church bought the building and then years later decided to close. Our current Pastor offered to buy it and they gave it to him. He owns a construction business and serves without pay.

    • Look at what has happened to my Boy Scouts, Old NFO.

      Before I left CA, I was Council Commissioner, California Inland Empire Council with 33,000 boys enrolled. Today it’s about 1,000, and it’s not at all the same with girls and trannies involved now.

      (council commissioner is a volunteer position, not a professional position)

  4. Faith is one thing and “religion” is another, IMO. Those who live their faith will always have my respect. I’m not a church goer, never have been, and am unlikely at this late date to change. I will be judged in the hereafter by the way I lived my life and fulfilled my obligations to family and fellow humans.

  5. This is a very powerful sermon and, per conversation, the RCC (Roman Catholic Church) isn’t as monolithic as it sounds, curiously. But that in mind, imagine a 1000 years+ of donations to the Church in the West. That’s a huge amount of money. Then imagine the power hungry rulers of the 16/17th Cs. The Church presented an irresistible fiscal target and the Reformers, from Luther down, a perfect excuse. So in they went, England, notably.

    I’d argue this was a disaster for Christendom. But regardless, and as you note, where’s my CUT!!! Oh well…

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