Enjoying the Journey

and what a journey it is…

Mormon Prophet Thomas S. Monson To Go On Trial For Fraud

This just came in and isn’t yet on major news sites, but apparently Mr. Monson has been summoned to appear next month in the UK for a fraud trial. The documents:

The second, nearly identical summons (different plaintiff):

It may sound far-fetched, but Scientology was convicted of fraud in France last year.

Here is the Fraud Act of 2006. Here is Section 12:

(1)Subsection (2) applies if an offence under this Act is committed by a body corporate. (2)If the offence is proved to have been committed with the consent or connivance of— (a)a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body corporate, or (b)a person who was purporting to act in any such capacity,he (as well as the body corporate) is guilty of the offence and liable to be proceeded against and punished accordingly. (3)If the affairs of a body corporate are managed by its members, subsection (2) applies in relation to the acts and defaults of a member in connection with his functions of management as if he were a director of the body corporate.

I suspect that Monson himself has been summoned because he is the head of the corporation sole, meaning that nobody could go in his place. If he actually appears next month, he would likely be forced in court to show that all seven of the above points are true. That would be very interesting to see, but I’m not sure yet how I feel about the whole thing.

In essence, the two plaintiffs are claiming that they were induced to pay tithing based on fraudulent claims from the Mormon church. Tithing is to some extent voluntary, but is held as a strict requirement for entering the temple.

Some major international news organizations are picking up on it: The Telegraph and the International Business Times.

I’ll add to this post as more information comes in.

About these ads

February 4, 2014 - Posted by | Mark

16 Comments »

  1. I don’t think Monson would be forced to prove anything true. I think prosecutors would have to prove that the alleged victims relied on precisely those points in deciding to pay their tithing.

    That is, if prosecutors ever get involved. This action appears to be a private person bringing criminal charges, which I guess is allowed in Great Britain. The March hearing appears to be a sort of arraignment, not a trial, and numerous motions to dismiss could be forthcoming.

    I know Tom Phillips gets upset about the 6000 years issue, in which he believes he was deceived by church authorities. However, it may not have been an element in financial fraud.

    Comment by Anonymous | February 4, 2014 | Reply

    • Good points. Church lawyers will certainly scramble to head this off as quickly as possible. And there’s a pretty good chance nothing will come of this.

      I found it interesting that both plaintiffs are former Bishops.

      Comment by sheaf | February 4, 2014 | Reply

    • First of all, prosecutors are already involved. If these charges are trumped up, then Mormons have nothing to worry about. If the charges are proven true, then it is incumbent on all Mormons to leave the church. A church founded on lies is not worth your time or money.

      Comment by Anonymous | February 15, 2014 | Reply

  2. This probably happens more than we know for a very simple reason: Greed. The Church is wealthy and most people know it. It’s rather a basic rule of lawsuits:if you’re going to sue someone, make sure they have deep pockets. And if they don’t have deep pockets, associate them or their actions with someone or something else that does. Tithing is totally voluntary and how much someone chooses to pay is totally voluntary. When a person declares he is a full tithe payer at the year end tithing settlement, the Bishop does not ask for a tax statement for the year to see if the person is being truthful. That’s between the person and God. If he lies, the Bishop doesn’t know and even if he did, he’s not going to take disciplinary action.
    For whatever reason, this person appears to have become disaffected from the Church and also seems to have an ax to grind, thus the lawsuit. Since tithing is voluntary, I don’t see how the law can make this stick. Most churches have rules regarding membership. If a person chooses to go against those rules, then the church is within their rights to take action. If the plaintiff believed initially in the tenets of the Church as listed above and then changed his mind about those beliefs, that is not the fault of the Church. If he also paid tithing during the period when he believed, that was his choice. It’s a specious lawsuit with the intent to get gain.

    Comment by Lori | February 4, 2014 | Reply

    • But it’s not totally voluntary, is it? Most of my believing Mormon friends feel that in order to be good Mormons, they need to be temple worthy and have a temple recommend. Of course that requires paying tithing. The Mormon church puts a great deal of emphasis on being temple worthy and on paying tithing. Take this excerpt from an Ensign article from a couple years ago:

      “If paying tithing means that you can’t pay for water or electricity, pay tithing. If paying tithing means that you can’t pay your rent, pay tithing. Even if paying tithing means that you don’t have enough money to feed your family, pay tithing.”

      Perhaps the greatest leverage though is by emphasizing temple marriages and then requiring all attendees to have temple recommends. So if your sister, nephew, son, grandson, friend, etc. is Mormon, there is pressure to pay tithing and keep a temple recommend so you can actually attend their wedding. What parent wants to be shut out of their child’s wedding?

      The point of the case is not that they were induced to pay tithing, but that they were induced based upon fraudulent claims. Fraud is still fraud if the claims pertaining the agreement are fraudulent, no matter whether the payment was voluntary or not. If I sell you a piece of land claiming that there is a diamond mine on the land, you could sue me after voluntarily buying the land and discovering that no diamond mine exists.

      The Mormon church knows the Book of Abraham doesn’t match the papyri. It knows the Book of Mormon doesn’t match the historical record. It knows that science contradicts the church’s timeline of human history. Those claims are provably fraudulent.

      One other important thing to note is that the Mormon church is not actually a church in the legal sense. It is a corporation sole and should be treated as such. Since it has collected over $300 million in the UK since the Fraud Act of 2006 was put into place, this could potentially turn out to be a very big deal.

      Now, I’m skeptical that much will come of this. The Mormon church has a ton of money and plenty of lawyers. But I’m watching carefully.

      Comment by sheaf | February 4, 2014 | Reply

  3. I’m a believing Mormon and the idea that tithing is voluntary is a nonsense. Tithing is a condition of salvation. As a Latter-day saint I’m pretty darn clear that if I don’t pay then I won’t gain exaltation. Instead I’ll spend eternity damned. That is LDS doctrine.

    Therefore, if you don’t pay you suffer loss through eternity. That is some pretty strong compulsion to pay. There are also scriptures and church talks that speak of hell fire for eternity for non payment of tithing. Again, pretty coercive and likely to exert a considerable influence on someone who believes the LDS church is true.

    As I say, I’m LDS and I’m under no illusions here on this. Tithing is not voluntary. To a truly faithful Mormon, this is no different than a person putting a gun to your head and telling you hand over your wallet or face death. Faithful Mormons will see the consequences of non payment as literal spiritual death.

    Comment by Dee | February 4, 2014 | Reply

  4. Tithing is voluntary. Yes, there are conditions in place that encourages members to pay tithing, but it is still an individual choice. Will there be consequences for not paying? Of course. As I said, all churches have “rules” if you want to call them that; requirements that say, if you believe these tenets and believe that your salvation depends on obeying the requirements, then that is what you must do. If a person struggles with those beliefs or requirements, then they may choose not to pay tithing. Just like entity that has requirements of behavior-if you choose to go against those requirements, then there are consequences. Those who truly believe in the tenets and doctrines of the LDS church have no problem with the requirement of tithing and further, most believe that they are blessed for doing so.
    As for the fraud claims, just as we can’t prove that these beliefs are 100% true, you also cannot prove that they are 100% false. Since none of us lived during the periods in which these “alleged ” incidents happened, no one can say conclusively without reservation that they didn’t happen or that they don’t exist. The Church has put forth evidence about the Abrahamic papyri many times, but, just like zombies, the false claims keep coming back to life.
    Where is conclusive evidence that the Book of Mormon did not come about exactly as Joseph Smith said it did? There’s lots of conjecture and discussion ( and lies) about how some think it came about, but no absolute proof that it came about in any other way than what Joseph said. And Joseph had 11 witnesses, men of good character and honest, who testified and wrote down their testimonies of the Book of Mormon. All 11 swore to and maintained their testimony of what they saw throughout their lives, even when most of them fell away from the Church. All were considered honest men of good character by friends and associates throughout their lives. There is my conclusive proof of the Book of Mormon origins. Where is your CONCLUSIVE evidence otherwise?
    As for the claims of no death before 6000 years ago and that all of mankind on the earth descended from just two people, also 6000 years ago, is a basic belief of many current religions, so why the Church would be accused of making that fraudulent claim all by themselves is ridiculous and specious.

    Comment by Lori | February 5, 2014 | Reply

    • “As for the claims of no death before 6000 years ago and that all of mankind on the earth descended from just two people, also 6000 years ago, is a basic belief of many current religions, so why the Church would be accused of making that fraudulent claim all by themselves is ridiculous and specious.”

      No such accusation was made, Lori. This particular case has no bearing on other churches or beliefs. I’m not sure why you would say such a thing. But I am extremely curious about your views on the matter. I’ll number the questions so it will be simple for you to answer yes or no:

      1 – Do you believe the Earth is thousands of years old rather than billions of years old?
      2 – Do you believe there was a global flood a few thousand years ago?
      3 – Do you believe that there was no death before 6,000 years ago?
      4 – Do you believe Adam and Eve were the first two humans, parents of our entire race, and lived 6,000 years ago?

      As far as the other things go, I believe strongly that many claims of Mormonism can indeed be proven false. I don’t think anyone can prove God does or not does not exist, but claims such as a historical book about Native Americans can actually be objectively analyzed by looking at paleontology, archeology, linguistics, biology, etc. If I’m wrong and you are interested in hearing that evidence, please let me know.

      But let’s not forget where the burden of proof lies here. Mormonism is making supernatural claims. It is not up to the skeptic to disprove them; it is up to the believer to prove them. I would be very interested to hear what evidence there is for the Book of Abraham, Book of Mormon, literal Adam and Eve, etc.

      The 11 witnesses are simply not conclusive proof of the plates. All eleven were family, close friends, or financial backers of Joseph Smith. The five Whitmers were related by marriage. There are groups of people who claim to have witnessed all manner of things from UFO sightings to faith healings to witchcraft to voodoo dolls. James Strang, shortly after the death of Joseph Smith, produced buried plates and gathered eleven witnesses of his own. 10 of the 11 witnesses to the Book of Mormon followed and believed Strang for at least a while. If one is to believe the Book of Mormon based solely upon on Joseph’s witnesses, one would also have to believe in Strang’s plates.

      I value objective evidence, not the testimonies of a handful of people I never met. I want testable, verifiable results. I am extraordinarily skeptical of supernatural claims, especially those made by people who had much to gain by making them.

      Comment by sheaf | February 5, 2014 | Reply

  5. I have read and looked at the Church’s evidence for their claims about the Book of Mormon and the Abrahamic papyri and I am satisfied with what that evidence says. As a instructor said at a recent Education Week, the Church has refuted many of the claims put forth by sceptics, time after time, ” but just like zombies, they keep coming back to life”. The evidence is out there, if one truly wants to know. But if one only wants to look for evidence to support their disbelief, then one can also find that too. I happen to believe all the things you find strange and unbelievable. Nothing I could say will change your opinion and nothing you can say will change mine, so there we are.

    Comment by Lori | February 6, 2014 | Reply

    • What evidence has the Mormon church provided for the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham papyri? Can you point me to any specific evidence supporting them?

      “I happen to believe all the things you find strange and unbelievable.” Does that mean your answers to the above four questions are yes?

      And if you are so confident in your convictions, why won’t you look at the evidence on both sides, answer my questions, and have a discussion about it?

      Comment by sheaf | February 6, 2014 | Reply

  6. I believe the website FAIR.org has answered the Papyri question quite thoroughly, if one truly wants to understand.
    As to your 4 questions: yes to every one of them.

    Comment by Lori | February 7, 2014 | Reply

    • FAIR actually has given multiple, conflicting answers to some of the papyri issues. All of them are severely lacking, in my opinion. But some aspects of the issue have been entirely ignored, as far as I can tell. I have asked you before about Facsimile 3, where Joseph specifically stated that the characters above a figure’s head say something in Egyptian. Since we can now translate Egyptian, we know that Joseph could not. He got the translation wrong, the figure wrong, and even the figure’s gender wrong.

      I suppose I should be shocked that you are a Young Earth Creationist, Lori (or that any YECs still exist). But I’m really not.

      It comes down to how you determine the truth of something in your mind. A critical thinker knows that approaching an issue to figure out the truth is best done from an objective viewpoint with no preconceptions. It diminishes the effect of bias in evaluating evidence. But you seem to approach things from a subjective ideological standpoint, attempting to fit and mold the evidence to your preconceived viewpoint. For you, the Bible definitively stated that the Earth is young. So you will ignore or reject any evidence, no matter how compelling, that tells you otherwise.

      I watched a debate earlier this week between Bill Nye (The Science Guy!) and Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Museum. Ham is a Young Earth Creationist. He believes in all four of the above things, including that dinosaurs lived alongside human beings a few thousand years ago. I was fascinated by the whole affair and I’m baffled that anyone can maintain that position. So I’ll write a blog post detailing just a small part of the scientific evidence that contradicts the above four claims. I hope you’ll read it and respond.

      You should know that your son-in-law Bryce, who as you know is a fervent believer in Mormonism and a science teacher, would likely emphatically respond “No!” to the four questions. He is compelled by scientific evidence to accept those facts and find a way to fit his faith within that knowledge.

      I took courses in Geology and Biology at BYU. Those departments wouldn’t even exist without a basic acceptance of professors that a YEC is impossible.

      Comment by sheaf | February 7, 2014 | Reply

  7. The English Legal System is not quite so accommodating to religious organisations as in the USA. What might be unheard of in Utah as far as religious accountability is concerned, is very different in the UK and Europe, where much more stringent laws and checks are applied.
    In the Mormon church, members have been coerced into paying 10% of their annual income into the church as a direct requirement to enter Mormon Temples, to partake of sacred and essential temple ordinances and by dutiful repetition, gain entry into Mormon Celestial Heaven.
    The member must also attend two bi-annual interviews and answer specific questions regarding personal obedience and worthiness to Mormon standards. One of them is obedience to Tithing as part of the qualification process.
    Furthermore, an annual Tithing Settlement interview is conducted with the member at the end of each year, to ascertain that the member is indeed a full Tithe payer.
    These demands on each member to comply to the payment of Tithing as it relates to Temple attendance qualification and essential Celestial advancement, amounts to nothing more than financial extortion on a massive scale.
    There is nothing voluntary about that little business venture.
    Always keep in mind, that this action is under English law jurisdiction and will not take place in the cosy, unquestioning theocratic utopia that is Mormon Utah.

    Comment by Andy | February 7, 2014 | Reply

  8. no one, no one, no one ever wins an argument. a debate is scored by points. nobody wins.

    Comment by Anonymous | February 17, 2014 | Reply

  9. @Sheaf– i find your responses and arguments quite pleasing and resounding (along with many others such as Jeremy Rummels). i stepped away from my lifelong dedication (150% dedication) to the church about 6 years ago and now find it difficult, almost impossible, to understand how i even accepted my testimony, though i understand WHY i can’t accept it now. you hit the nail on the head in the third paragraph of your last post (critical and objective thinking), and can’t help but notice the silence from Lori. thank you again for your great responses. i hope many, many more people will finally see it from the outside in.

    Comment by UnPfhorgiven | March 10, 2014 | Reply

    • Thanks UnPfhorgiven. I have had this strange obsession for the past few years. I want to understand how I believed so thoroughly something that I now view as obviously false. I’m both regretful and embarrassed.

      As you said, it’s really difficult to comprehend.

      Comment by sheaf | March 11, 2014 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.