If organized religions solicit money from the public while propagating factually untrue claims, do they amount to illegal marketing scams? A British legal challenge is putting Mormonism to the test, the Telegraph reports:
A British magistrate has issued an extraordinary summons to the worldwide leader of the Mormon church alleging that its teachings about mankind amount to fraud.
Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been ordered to appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London next month to defend the church’s doctrines including beliefs about Adam and Eve and Native Americans.
A formal summons signed by District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe warns Mr. Monson, who is recognised by Mormons as God’s prophet on Earth, that a warrant for his arrest could be issued if he fails to make the journey from Salt Lake City, Utah, for a hearing on March 14.
The summons suggests that asking members of the church to make contributions while promoting theological doctrines which “might be untrue or misleading” could be a breach of the Fraud Act 2006. It cites the belief that the Book of Mormon was translated from ancient gold plates revealed to the church’s founder Joseph Smith by angels and that Adam and Eve lived around 6,000 years ago.
The summons was issued in response to a private prosecution attempt by Tom Phillips, a disaffected former Mormon. The Church dismissed the it as containing “bizarre allegations” and signalled that Mr Monson has no plans to attend.