There is a strange court case unfolding in England involving the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly called the Mormon church.
Two former Mormons using a rarely used legal maneuver have convinced a British judge to issue a summons for Thomas Monson — President of the Mormon church in Salt Lake City, Utah — to appear before London’s Magistrate Court for a hearing on March 14, 2014.
The two men allege the Mormon church committed fraud by convincing them to give money to the organization based on false or fraudulent teaching. In the process, the two allege the organization broke England’s Fraud Act of 2006.
That Act prohibits the use of false information to gain financial benefit. One suit alleges the Mormon church collected $257 million from members in England since 2007.
The court documents list six possible examples of fraud including the following commonly held Mormon beliefs:
- Mormon scriptures appeared as golden tablets in their original form and were translated by the Mormon church’s founder Joseph Smith;
- American Indians are descendants of a lost tribe of Israel;
- Adam and Eve lived 6,000 years ago; and
- The Mormon’s book of Abraham was translated from an ancient Egyptian papyrus by Joseph Smith.
District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe issued the summons demanding Monson appear before the Westminster court to discuss this legal challenge. At this point, the court will then decide if the case will go to trial. If Monson fails to appear on March 14, 2014, an arrest warrant could be issued.
The judge’s summons has stunned experts in British law, as England’s secular law does not allow challenges of a Theological nature.
In an interview with USA Today, former English crown prosecutor Neil Addison said:
“I’m sitting here with an open mouth. I think the British courts will recoil in horror. This is just using the law to make a show, an anti-Mormon point. And I’m frankly shocked that a magistrate has issued it.”
The Mormon church has declared this a nonsense suit and stated Monson will not attend the hearing.
Joseph Smith started the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 1820 after receiving revelations, visions and an angelic visitation. Evangelicals do not consider Mormons to be part of the Christian faith, due to a number of non Biblical teachings derived from the Book of Mormon and other non Biblical texts.
Some Palestinians used a similar strategy in 2009 on Tzipi Livni, Israel’s Justice Minister. That summons caused an international incident.
Though this suit only affects the Mormon church, if successful there are concerns similar tactics could be used against Christian churches in attempt to harass and financially challenge them.
- Head of Mormon church Thomas Monson summoned by British magistrate’s court over Adam and Eve Teaching: The Telegraph
- Mormon president ordered to appear in British court: USA Today