James Huntsman filed a lawsuit in 2021 against the church claiming that he was duped into believing that his tithing contributions were going to charitable work, while in fact, they are used to pad the coffers of the church investment accounts. He filed the fraud complaint against the church and states that “this is not a case about faith; it is a case about fraud and corporate greed“. He even quotes Brigham Young in his lawsuit filing stating that honesty is crucial:
If we accept salvation on the terms it is offered to us, we have got to be honest in every thought, in our reflections, in our meditations, in our private circles, in our deals, in our declarations, and in every act of our lives.Brigham Young, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-31-honesty
Quoted in James Huntsman Filing
James Huntsman is suing because he expected that his tithing money would be used for charity, and when the story came out from the Washington Post he learned that funds were being used to help finance the completion of the City Creek Center Mall, he determined this was a violation of the Church’s 501(c)(3) non-profit charter.James Huntsman Vs. The LDS Church — The Case Against The Latter-Day Saint’s Empire
He learned of the discrepancies between what the church does and what the church says about its finances from the whistleblower. This whistleblower report stated the church has over 100 billion dollars ($100,000,000,000) invested that started as tithing donations to the church and that the church mixes tithing donations with investments and then uses investments for commercial projects like City Creek Mall.
The church claims the stockpile is a “rainy day fund” or “second coming” fund the church claims they are saving for something unknown in the future. Saving money for the future isn’t a problem, but when that amount is more than most countries need to operate, there seems to be something fishy.
The judge tossed out James Huntsman’s lawsuit against the Church and ruled that no reasonable jury would believe that Church leaders lied about how donations were spent.
Huntsman, the owner of the Los Angeles film distributing company Blue Fox Entertainment and son of the late Utah industrialist-philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., was seeking to recover at least $5 million in his own tithing, interest and penalties. He resigned his church membership in 2020.
While leaders told members otherwise, Huntsman alleged that they diverted up to $2 billion in tithing funds to two of its private businesses, including City Creek Center, an upscale mall in downtown Salt Lake City, and Beneficial Life Insurance Co.
Wilson struck down Huntsman’s claims Tuesday. He wrote that no reasonable jury would believe church leaders had misrepresented how tithing funds would be used.
Huntsman’s lawsuit relied, in part, on statements by church leaders, including then-President Gordon B. Hinckley.
In 2003, Hinckley spoke directly to Latter-day Saints who might have been uncomfortable with the faith using their donations to build a shopping center and repeatedly assured them that “tithing funds have not and will not be used” to acquire and develop this property.
He said the money instead would come from church-owned “commercial entities” and “earnings of invested reserve funds.”
Even so, those “earnings” for the $1.5 billion mall in the heart of downtown did come from the interest on tithing.
In his lawsuit, Huntsman argued that was a “distinction without a difference,” alleging that Hinckley and the church misled the faithful about money for the mall.
Huntsman’s case was clearly built on allegations made by whistleblower David Nielsen, a former portfolio manager at Ensign Peak Advisors, the church’s Salt Lake City-based investment arm.Judge tosses out James Huntsman’s tithing lawsuit against LDS Church, but an appeal looms
The church has made tithing a requirement for salvation. Church members are essentially paying to admittance into heaven. In order to attain salvation the church teaches that one must covenant with God, and the only place one can do this is in a Mormon Temple. The only way to attend a Mormon Temple, even to view a marriage, is by attaining a temple recommend. To get a temple receommend one must answer a series of questions in an interview with local mormon leaders. These interviews must be done with someone in a local ward Bishopric and then again with a member of the local Stake Presidency. A member must interview twice with a Mormon church leader and answer a series of questions in order to receive a temple recommend. What are the questions? They are about the beliefs and actions of the member that deem them “worthy” to enter into the Lord’s house. The questions include asking if the member is honest followed by asking if they are a full-tithe payer. Meaning they donate ten percent of their own income to the church! So by this logic, if you don’t pay the church cash money, you can’t go to the temple, and you can’t go to heaven!
The Mormon Billions
The church at first claimed that they are all good because they haven’t broken any laws. The First Presidency message, clearly written from a lawyer’s point of view, wants to align morality to simply obeying the law.
Claims being currently circulated are based on a narrow perspective and limited information. The Church complies with all applicable law governing our donations, investments, taxes, and reserves.First Presidency Statement on Church Finances, 17 December 2019
They are assuring the world that they are obeying the letter of the law, while saying nothing about the spirit of the law. They can’t in fact be prosecuted on doing good though, so they’re actually safe and legal here. They are behaving like a true corporation, not a true church. This is a point the church leadership is missing. They are true latter-day Pharisees at best, they are more concerned with the law and being untouchable than they are with actually doing good. The amount of money isn’t as important as the telling prideful response from the church, where they claim to be above reproach.
Later on, the church was investigated due to the same whistleblower report by the SEC, and was forced to come to a settlement for misfiling their investments, which is illegal. They misreported their investments by hiding them in over a dozen fake shell companies to hide their wealth from not only the government but also the very members of the church that make the donations.
They said that they didn’t want members to know how much they had in reserve because they thought members would be less inclined to pay tithing once they knew what the church did with it and that it was not needed. This settlement the church and Ensign Peak reached with the SEC was that the church would pay a one million dollar fine and Ensign Peak would pay four million dollars. This is a total of five million dollars! The church was specifically included because they directed Ensign Peak on how to hide the funds and had done so knowingly for many years. This illegal financial activity was under the direction and approval of the First Presidency so it goes all the way to the top!
The church released another statement about the settlement in which they announced that they “consider the matter closed.” Or in other words, they will no longer talk about it. But how can this be allowed?
Is The Church Above the Law?
First, they issue a statement claiming that they’re not in the wrong, and their reason is that they are following the law… But then they get in trouble because it’s found that they are not in fact following the law.
What about the church and the law though? They claim that by following the law they are in the right. But what about when the law is against them? What about same-sex marriage for example? Or medical marijuana? Or polygamy? These are all examples of the church being against the law, they will claim that they follow the law and are thus not doing anything “wrong”, but that is not how they treat the law. Yes, there is the twelfth article of faith that states that we believe in being subject to the law. This seems to apply only to the members of the church, not the leaders or the church itself.
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.Articles of Faith 1:12
Where else does the church call the law good enough to define morality? Is adultery legal? Is the law of chastity about following the law of the land? What about reporting sexual predators? What about protecting children from abusers? The church routinely dismisses the law they claim to honor and sustain, and then they try to use it to show that they are not guilty of any wrongdoing. They claimed in 2019 that “The Church complies with all applicable law governing our donations, investments, taxes, and reserves” but we saw just a couple of years afterward, they were forced into a settlement with the SEC because they were NOT compliant with such laws.
The church is not “honest in every thought” or even following the laws they require members to “honor and sustain”. Though the church does insert itself quite often in order to influence the laws of the land so they can then claim to be following them. This defines a lobbyist corporation more than a church though.
- Whistleblowing On the Mormon 100 Billion “Rainy-Day Fund”
- Development of Mormon Tithing – From Meager Origins to Ensign Peak Billions
- Stop Paying Tithing and Challenge the Tax Exemption Status of the Mormon Church
- Elder M Russell Ballard’s Colorful History With the SEC
- LDS Church’s Misstated Filings to SEC Approved by First Presidency
- That information belongs to those who made the Contribution