The son of a outstanding Utah philanthropist has filed a federal lawsuit within the U.S. District Court docket for the Central District of California, charging the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with fraud.
James Huntsman, the brother of former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. and son of the late philanthropist Jon Huntsman Sr., is demanding again tens of millions he donated to the church over the course of a long time, from 1993 to 2017.
He claims the LDS Church has spent tithes from members on business ventures, fairly than the charitable functions they’re earmarked for, together with ‘missionary work, member indoctrination, temple work, and different academic and charitable actions.’
The business ventures Huntsman is referring to are Useful Life Insurance coverage, an insurance coverage firm run by the church, and Metropolis Creek Middle, a shopping center in Salt Lake Metropolis partially run by the church.
The lawsuit claims $1.5 billion of donated funds was spent alone on the Metropolis Creek Mall, regardless of claims that tithing funds wouldn’t go to that improvement.
James Huntsman (middle) has filed a federal lawsuit in opposition to the LDS Church
James is the son of the late billionaire philanthropist, Jon Huntsman Sr. (pictured in 2007)
He needs his cash to go to individuals ‘marginalized by the Church’s teachings and doctrines,’ together with charities that help LGBTQ teams, African-American communities, and girls’s rights causes.
Mormons are required to tithe ten p.c of their revenue to the church.
‘This isn’t a case about religion; it’s a case about fraud and company greed,’ the lawsuit reads.
Huntsman is claiming that the damages on this case are in extra of $5 million.
A spokesman for the Church informed The Washington Post that Huntsman resigned as a member final yr and that his claims are ‘baseless.’
‘Tithing funds are voluntary contributions,’ an announcement from Nationwide Media Supervisor Eric Hawkins learn. ‘They’re used for a broad array of non secular functions, together with missionary work, schooling, humanitarian causes and the development of meetinghouses, temples and different buildings vital within the work of the Church, as mirrored in scripture and decided by Church leaders.’
Huntsman claims charitable donations given to the church helped fund the Metropolis Creek Middle mall in Salt Lake Metropolis, to the tune of $1.5 billion
James is the brother of Jon Huntsman Jr. (pictured), former governor of Utah
In December 2019, a whistleblower filed a grievance to the IRS that the Church had $100 billion in accounts that have been meant for charity and have been utilizing surplus tax-exempt donations to maintain a pair of companies afloat whereas deceptive members.
That grievance got here from David Nielsen, who was a high-level funding supervisor with the LDS Church.
The LDS Church just isn’t in communication with the IRS about that grievance, which claimed Ensign Peak Advisors, the funding arm of the LDS Church, did not fund non secular, schooling, or charitable causes in 22 years.
Pictured: A Mormon temple reflecting right into a pond in Salt Lake Metropolis
That grievance alleges $2 billion was used to assist Useful Monetary Group and Metropolis Creek Middle climate laborious occasions.
Huntsman factors to that whistleblower grievance as the way in which he found the church’s alleged fraud.
He requested for his donations again after the grievance was filed, however was repeatedly turned away by the church, which claimed they ‘might do no matter it needed with tithing funds.’
The church claims tithing funds weren’t used to purchase or develop the Metropolis Creek Middle, which was unveiled in 2003, or used to offer $594 million to Useful Life in 2009.
That half-billion-plus funding got here from Deseret Administration, one other business firm related to the church.
Huntsman claims the Metropolis Creek Middle is one in every of a number of initiatives that used charitable donations given to the church, regardless of pledges the cash wouldn’t be used commercially
Huntsman makes clear within the lawsuit that he’s not focusing on the non secular beliefs of the church, simply their alleged fraudulent actions with members’ tithes.
Within the lawsuit, Huntsman claims the superb print in tithing kinds for the church was modified in 2012
He alleges it beforehand mentioned tithes could be used ‘on the Church’s sole discretion in its missionary program,’ earlier than shifting the language for tithes for use to ‘additional the Church’s general mission.’
James Huntsman runs movie distribution agency Blue Fox Leisure and beforehand labored as an govt for the Huntsman Corp. Jon Huntsman Jr. ran for president in 2012 and has served as an envoy to Singapore, China, and most not too long ago, Russia.
In line with ABC4, James Huntsman additionally joined the board of Equality Utah in 2016, which seeks equal rights for the LGBTQ neighborhood.