Just last night the Mormon Facebook world has gone crazy with the Mormon Think website releasing an article saying that Thomas S Monson President and Prophet of the LDS Church has been summonsed to British Courts on the allegations of fraud on the 14th of March this year, here are the summons letters. The Mormon Think article is well worth a look, particularly regarding some of the financial information it shares.
Stephen Bloor and Chris Ralph are both British ex Mormons who have very publically left the Mormon Church in the last few years. Tom Phillips (still an LDS member) who seems to be organizing this also runs the Mormon Think website and is well known for his interview with John Dehlin where he disclosed many details about a secret Mormon Temple ritual, called the second anointing.
Just this morning I saw that the USA Today Website has an article on this as well, quashing some claims that this is just a Mormon Think creation. Understandably many people are saying that this will not go far, a well thought out comment on my facebook page said this:
Can’t see this reaching a real court. Magistrate Courts deal with low-end proceedings and legal matters. The order has been signed and passed on to a higher court where it will probably be thrown out, it may even get as high as Crown Court but I think a Judge will dismiss it.
Not that it wouldn’t please me to see this play-out in court but I think it is unlikely to happen. I agree with most of the points, but it will not be aired.
There are other laws protecting freedom of religion enshrined at European level. I think the Mormon Church will have plenty of grounds to use those to defend themselves. The cases against Scientology are different as they have not managed to convince all European juristrictions they are even a religion (think in Germany they are classed as a corporation). Mormonism is better protected in these regards.
The precedence set would mean a lot of Evangelical churches could face similar claims based on Science v Church Teaching. It would open the floodgates to hundreds of speculative cases against religious groups of all flavours by ex-members and secularist groups.
Whilst the case against the Mormon Church is bigger in the sense they teach things which totally historically and scientifically incorrect. The precedence set would mean other things which are dubious or difficult to defend in other religious groups would face public trial.
This will not happen.
Even if this ends up being the case, I still think this is going to be a very interesting situation to watch, its interesting how just recently LDS.org has had various articles dealing with many aspects of Mormon History and Belief. Some of which suggesting do not necessarily believe that the earth is 6000 years old, right before this summons came. As ever the LDS Church is excellent at public affairs, however it will be interesting to see how it responds to even more of its troubling history such as the Book of Abraham issue, being told to the public, even if nothing else that may be a good thing that comes from this.
More on this as it comes.