A Mormon $torm
Church is accused of diverting ‘charity’ funds
By SHANNON THALER
The Mormon church is being sued by three members who say their combined $348,000 in donations was used to pad the church’s $175 billion investment fund rather than for charitable purposes as they were led to believe.
Plaintiffs asserted in the bombshell suit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Salt Lake City, that they were told their donations would go to “various philanthropies, including ‘Humanitarian Relief,’ which provides immediate emergency assistance to victims of disasters.”
Instead, the funds were “permanently invested in accounts it [the church] never uses for any charitable work, so that every year, an enormous portion of the donations are never spent for these — or any — purposes,” says the suit.
The legal action brings more scrutiny about how the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints handles its vast holdings, bolstered by tithing by members who contribute 10% of their income. The church doesn’t disclose details of its finances.
On its website, the LDS church states: “One hundred percent of every dollar donated is used to help those in need without regard to race, religion or ethnic origin,” per the court filing.
Nevertheless, the church has been accused of depositing much of its funds in a church-affiliated investment manager called Ensign Peak, which has amassed a cash reserve near $175 billion, according to The Christian Post, which cited a report by The Widow’s Mite.
The Widow’s Mite group — made up of anonymous “current and former church members” — prepared the report using “publicly available sources,” and said the church, which has an estimated wealth of $236 billion as of 2022, could control $1 trillion by 2044.
This week’s lawsuit is similar to a filing made in California federal court by James Huntsman earlier this year. Huntsman — brother of former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. — said the church used upwards of $1 billion in member donations to save one of its failing businesses, which the church denies.
An LDS church spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment, nor did counsel for the plaintiffs.
New York Post