Park Romney’s legal challenge to exmo’s everywhere

ACLU Mormon Culture Politics

I am absolutely convinced that the only thing that stands between the successful prosecution of the leadership of the Mormon Church for fraud and their exposure for blasphemy, is the simple collective united grass roots will of a relatively modest representative number the American people and, particularly of the ex-Mormon community, to support this cause and demand that their public officials attend to this matter. It is highly unlikely that this representative critical mass of support will be accomplished until after such time as a smaller group demonstrates their intent and resolve through a civil action against the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I support such a civil action, as a starting point and invite ex-Mormons everywhere to join me in speaking up in support of Mormon accountability and the prosecution of religious fraud.

Can we unite to form a civil lawsuit?  How many laywers are exmos and would be willing to help?  Can we get the ACLU in on it?

Original post found here

52 thoughts on “Park Romney’s legal challenge to exmo’s everywhere

  1. Interesting site. I’m not sure it’s legally feasible to press charges against the LDS oligarchy for “fraud” — because the US Court system is not in the business of determining whether religions are true or not. That said, one would think that there should be some public institution that combats the “psychological repression” aspects of the faith, and whether it’s the case that the Church has to engage in more of this behavior due to an increased fallibility of its “truths” is hard to say. I kinda agree with AJ @2 that Mormonism is no less fallible than most other faiths. I’m not even sure if the Church’s priesthood system that creates a kind of unquestioning obedience is all that unique when it comes to many of the world’s faiths.

  2. I’ve heard of psychics and fortune-tellers getting charged with fraud — I assume the key question in such cases is what you promise in exchange for the money you take in, right…?

    I have a question about this bit, though:

    the only thing that stands between the successful prosecution of the leadership of the Mormon Church for fraud and their exposure for blasphemy

    Fraud, OK, but what is this bit about blasphemy? Blasphemy is protected speech via the first amendment, as it should be.

  3. Here’s your central argument as I read it:

    [As is the case for most Protestant religions], if a true believer were to openly profess a belief in Jesus Christ, and encourage others to explore His teachings, and contribute financially to that cause, such a person would not be committing a fraud by doing so. If, [as the Mormon Church does it] on the other hand, I said I saw God, and God told me that all other churches are false, and that He endowed me with unique authority to represent Him on earth, and told me to tell you that He requires ten percent of your income be given to me, exclusively, as a condition of exaltation in the next life, I have now committed fraud, because I know that this is not true.

    Consider that there are plenty of “nondenominational” ministers who are quite wealthy from tithing. They buy large houses and some of them even private jets. These folks made their fortunes out of charisma, and legally speaking, I’m assuming that it’s not illegal to put on a good show every Sunday, and then say, “Help me spread the Word.” They are digging into a Christian sensibility, and the question of “fraud” only seems to crop up if the person is discovered to be immoral in some way — such as adulterous or a drug user. For most Americans, and certainly the constituencies of these religious leaders, becoming wealthy from tithings (i.e, money thrown at you for a good performance) isn’t “fraud,” but rather is having good business sense.

    The LDS version is different, yes, but if what I described above is not actionable fraud — or, as you seem to argue, is not as problematic as what the LDS church does (which I kinda disagree) — well, I can’t see how the LDS version is actionable either. Just as churchgoers of nondenominational faiths choose to tithe, so do Mormon members who choose to buy into the idea of the power of the priesthood (including the highest leaders themselves who also tithe and believe themselves to have the power that they do — it’s not like they chuckle evilly at all the silly followers believing false dogma). I don’t see how it would be feasible to prove that Mormons have “less choice” in the matter than practitioners of other faiths.

  4. @chanson

    The quoted phrase speaks for itself. Prosecution for fraud. Exposure for blasphemy. Blasphemy is absolutely protected speech and I would go to the mat defending the right of the Mormon grifter to engage in it. While defending that right…. I would also seek every opportunity to expose if for the blasphemy that it is, because in their case, that blasphemy is abject hypocrisy and, as such, a major clue as to their moral character that the naieve need to understand.

  5. @Alan

    The articles speak for themselves and I am not impressed with the ability of anyone to extract narrow, out of context quotes that don’t make the major point of the articles and then attempt to support the conslusion that the article doesn’t make its point with that technique. It is either disingenuous, or motivated, or both. Let those who want to understand the point of the articles read them all the way through, thoughtfully and cafefully.

    What you, Alan, have described is not actionable fraud…. but what I have described, in the opinion of attorneys far more qualified than you, IS.

  6. (1) What attorneys? Name them.

    (2) The fact that an attorney or legal scholar thinks you can or should be able to make a case for x doesn’t mean you can for practical purposes.

    I mean, you can file any lawsuit you want, all it takes is a typewriter, a signature and the court’s filing fee. But as with any spurious lawsuit, you have exactly zero chance of this case surviving a motion for summary judgment. And any practicing lawyer is going to be hesitant to file a case like that, because lawyers can be disciplined for bringing spurious lawsuits.

  7. @Alan

    I think I was somewhat hasty and unfairly dismissive in that last response to you. Chalk it up to an accumulation of annoyance with some behavior in other forums that I unfairly allowed to spill out in my response to you. I apologize.

    It seems a number of people are hoping to get an even clearer articulation of the fraud out of me…. the dilemma there is that part of me doesn’t want to reveal the clearest articulation to the entire world in a public forum quite yet…. for tactical reasons. But, I think it is appropriate that I take the time to publish a clearer response to some of the detailed “how, exactly, is this actionable fraud that gets past the nexus between freedom of speech and stupid naivete. I’ll work on that. Soon I hope to have a clearer articulation published on parkromney.com…. and, perhaps, a video interview with a qualified attorney on the subject. We’ll see.

  8. @Kullervo

    An attorney can be disciplined for filing a suprius law suit, that is true. There is nothing spurious about this.

    I will not be naming attorneys at this time. That would not be appropriate, and I think you probably know that.

    There are cetain levels of information that I will only share with people who contact me privately and convince me of their sincerity for reasons that should be obvious from the articles posted.

  9. I’m not saying you’re not sincere and that Kay Burningham doesn’t think this is (or should be) actionable fraud. I’m saying I wouldn’t file this case for you if you asked me to because I don’t want to risk getting disciplined for filing a case that I know perfectly well will not survive summary judgment.

  10. FYI, simply stating that a hypothetical fraud case against the Church is meritorious in “the opinion of attorneys far more qualified than you” is not a very strong argument.

    If you want to convince us that there’s a meritorious legal argument that the Church has committed actionable fraud in such a way that it can be held civilly liable, you need to actually tell us what the argument is.

    The idea that doing so somehow will compromise the case you want to bring is poppycock.

  11. I appreciate the apology. I was about to post a “well, good luck on your quest, a*****” type of comment, lol. FYI: if you want to lead a grassroots campaign, patience with ignorance will be a great asset.

    I think my main concern for your cause boils down to when you charge the Church with fraud, it’s not just “x-number of disgruntled ex-Mormons” vs “Quorum of 12.” It’s a question of whether the happy members are also being deceived, and that case is harder to make. What happens when, for example, “lying for the Lord” is just considered part of what makes a good Mormon? To link single instances of lying with the overall way the tithing is collected church-wide… that’s a tough case.

  12. I think to talk about whether the Church can be held liable for civil or criminal fraud, you first need to be able to articulate the statutory and/or common law elements of a civil or criminal fraud case in the context of existing interpretive case law, persuasive legal authority and the Anglo-American legal tradition in general.

    As nobody here has done that, I am not sure why we are even having a conversation about what you would or wouldn’t have to be able to prove.

  13. Yes, I understand what you are saying…. and I think there will be many attorneys who would agree with you. These would be the attorneys that I wouldn’t want to represent me in the case anyway…. because many, probably most, attorneys are absolutely not qualified for this one. With such an attorney there would be considerable risk that the case would be dismissed if filed improperly. There is also considerable risk that it might be dismissed if filed in certain jurisdictions for obvious reasons. Beyond that, there is also considerable risk that it would be dismissed inappropriately because, I would guess that most judges aren’t qualified for this one either. So it will take an attorney who absolutely knows what the hell he or she is doing and has the balls…. (or female equivalent… whichever applies)… and the funding…. to go all the way to the United States Supreme court. If I had the money, I would finance it myself because it is absolutely the morally correct thing to do. In the meantime, short of filing, if I had the money I would finance the production of a “legal brief” that would contain the substance of what in other scenarios would be the equivalent to the “demand” and points and authorities. If I had the money, which I don’t, I would finance the product of that right now…. win or loose, file or not…. because it is the morally correct thing to do. If there is anyone who is really sincere out there…. and who can get past the impotent chatter of the formally organized ex-mo communities and down to the business of pulling out their checkbook and doing the morally correct thing simply because, its the right thing to do…. please contact me. Win or loose, this action, and this fight will expose the Church and the social, cultural, political, and philosophical corruption that supports it.

  14. Look I just want to make a suggestion: move on. Find something constructive to do. You’re in for a world of frustration and disappointment on this one.

    Or, how about this. Before you write anything else about how all these qualified attorneys agree with you and Ms. Burningham, look really closely and see if any attorneys that are not ex-Mormons (or otherwise have a bone to pick with religion) agree with you. Just check really quick.

    And then ask yourself this: the Church has been around for a long time; if there’s a colorable claim against it for fraud based on tithing, why has nobody successfully brought it yet?

  15. @Kullervo….

    that is absolutely the correct starting point. (Your point about articulation). As to the “poppicock” of my hesitency to do such…. yes, well…. maybe my tactical hesitency is or is not a valid concern. It needs to be articulated…. the timing and forum is a matter of politics. Politics are absolutely relevant on this one.

    @Alan

    Thanks for understanding. I don’t, by the way, “want” to lead a campaign. I really really don’t. I don’t see myself as the right guy for this at all….. but I care more about the “cause”, as it were, than I do about who is in charge….. so until someone steps up who is qualified to take the baton….. I’m going to advocate and facilitate to the best of my ability.

    The problem with those who might take the leadership baton…. is finding the right person. I have no idea who that should be…. but I sure as hell have become convinced of a few candidates that it sure as hell shouldn’t be.

    We don’t need someone whose interested in the social status or the ego trip…. we need someone who has the insight, courage, and tenacity and the wisdom to plow through the obstacles and BS.

    There will be plenty of BS and obstacles. This will be a politically bloody fight because a multi billion dollar empire is at stake with vast political alliances.

    It isn’t likely that anyone will quickly step up to lead this fight who is qualified… because they are going to be publicly trashed and ridiculed in the process. Since I don’t give a damn about being trashed…. Maybe I am uniquely qualified as a “temp”. But this is far more important that me and I don’t want my personal quirkyness and baggage to detract from the momentum of the fight.

    That said….. I’m “in” for the long haul of this leaderless fight. Join me…. we’ll find a leader along the way.

  16. Look,

    (1) Are you talking about filing an actual civil case against the Church for fraud perpetrated against you personally? If so, it’s not a “leaderless fight.” Here’s how it works: you hire Kay Burningham to represent you, and you, as the client, and Ms. Burningham, as your lawyer, are the leaders.

    (2) Or are you talking about a class action suit? If so, you find a lawyer to take the case (I don’t know if Ms.
    Burningham takes class action suits or not; that’s up to her), you dig up a bunch of class members, and then you, as the representative client, and Ms. Burningham, as your lawyer, are the leaders.

    What is all this support you say you need? What exactly are you asking ex-Mormons to do? You think the Church should be sued for fraud, then go ahead sue the Church for fraud.

  17. @Kurvello

    In re: your point as to US Supreme Court and state law questions…. of course you are right. Thank you.

    Here’s a thought….. for those who choose to “move on”…. good for them. That’s a valid choice. For those who have the time and energy to take this on…. why is discouraging that so important for the “move on” gang?

    Millions have been defrauded and defamed by the Church and the institutional warp that suports it. I like challenging injustice and abuse of power and institutionally entrenched elitism. It’s fun for me. If you prefer bowling of fishing…. knock yourself out.

  18. Well, consider that plenty of social justice happens outside the realm of the law, or adjacent to it — and, in fact, your cause is a probably good example of how the law might be more of a hindrance than an asset.

    The political work I’ve done with regards to the Church is more of a scholarly type — helping give people tools to topple the sexism and homophobia in the Church. These are also issues that the law is of no direct help — rather the overall cultural landscape reflected by the legal landscape leads the Church as a whole to feel that it’s out of touch, and so it adjusts accordingly.

  19. @ Kurvello

    No. I won’t be a plaintiff. My statue of limitations has passed. My use of the terminology “join me” was intended as a reference to the campaign to hold the Church accountable for fraud and raise public awareness that this should be done and do whatever I can to encourage, support, and facilitate those who might be plaintiffs. The Victims of Mormonism.

    Thanks for your thoughtful adivce…. but, and I mean no disrespect…. it’s a bit presumptuous in it’s underlying premise. As you are an advocate of the “move on” school…. why not save yourself the time. I’m sure you’ve got better things to do than jump to presumptuous conclusions and offer gratuitous advice on that basis, right? However friendly those suggestions might be.

    Thanks for your concern.

  20. @Alan

    I’m sure your projects and contributions to social justice are effective and worthwhile. Of course you are right that many social contributions can be made and achieved without legal action. Exposing Mormonism for the fraud that it its does not require legal action. It’s being effectively exposed, as we are all aware, on the internet and elsewhere.

    I, personally, however, believe that the prosecution of those who engage in religious fraud is a morally correct thing to do and a worthwile and noble endeavor for those who have the time and resources. I think much good will come of it. That should not be taken to mean that I think those who don’t feel inclined to join that campaign are morally incorrect for that choice.

    I do, absolutely, however, think that those who disparage the campaign unfairly (not applying this to you) are morally incorrect for doing so…. and usually motivated for some economic, social, or ego based reason.

    Pointing out valid questions, concerns and critiques is not the disparagement I am referring to. That is helpful and appreciated. Some of the nonsense (now referring to other forums) passed off as legal insight that is clearly off point and unwarranted and intended to obfuscate is unhealthy, and behavior I have no respect and little patience for.

  21. @Kurvello

    Don’t those more important and worthy projects in your life need attending to now?

    I know I have other things I need to be doing and am only attending to these questions to be polite. Since you have made it clear that you don’t support what we are discussing…. would you mind to terribly if we both went about our business now?

  22. You misunderstand me. I’m not sayin, move on from your disaffection with Mormonism or your negative feelings about Mormonism, or even to move on from fighting against Mormonism–you think Mormonism is evil and needs to be taken down, then go for it.

    I’m specifically suggesting that you move on from your fixation on suing the Church for fraud. You are just going to be disappointed.

    Wanna fight the Church? Use a tactic that will work. This one won’t.

    And again, before you say how sure you are that it will work because of all these qualified lawyers who say so, I ask you: are any of these qualified lawyers not ex-mormons or otherwise personally antagonistic toward religion? Because if not, you are dealing with a serious confirmation bias problem.

    Show me the legal opinion of a lawyer who doesn’t already have a bone to pick with Mormonism or religion in general.

  23. I hate to say it, but the fact is, as a non-lawyer, you are not actually in a position to evaluate whether a lawyer is qualified or not or whether a lawyer’s legal opinion is reliable or not.

  24. @Kullervo : post 28

    I’m smiling. You seem awfully invested in “helping” me move on…. and discouraging this law suit thing. People don’t generally invest energy where they are not motivated. I know a lot of rice bowls are at risk and potentially disrupted by the mere discussion of the merits of a law suit and its merits. That’s kinduv’ fun for me. So…. you might want to get past any notion that you are going to find the magic phrase to help me see the folly of my ways.

    @Kullervo : 29

    Spoken like a true lawyer. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve heard this before? I’m tempted to say, “You have no idea who you are speaking to and where he’s been and what legal battles he’s been embroiled in, what law firms have engage his services, in which notable legal battles, and how many arrogant attorneys asses he’s kicked at their own game.” But I’ll refrain…. there might be a bit of hyperbole in such a statement…. and I prefer my reputation for being understated.

  25. I think making promises about the afterlife probably isn’t actionable as fraud, but Mormonism’s promises of “temporal blessings” from tithing might be.

    The CoJCoL-dS teaches that if you are in financial trouble, you should pay tithing first, before necessities, and as a result, God will miraculously solve your financial problems. Many of us know people who followed this bad advice and wound up far worse off for it. It would be hard to get them to join in a class-action suit, though. Often the people hardest hit by this problem end up clinging more fervently to their faith because they don’t want to believe that they got ripped-off.

  26. @chanson

    I agree with you, that making promises about the afterlife is not actionable fraud… but I think you will find that qualified attorneys will disagree that the promises of temporal blessings (all by itself) makes actionable fraud either.

    These are not the key elements of fraud. They are dishonest, in the sense that those making the promises have a false basis from which they speak.. but I understand the threshold for actionable fraud to be far more complex than just dishonesty.

    In the case of the Mormon leadership…. I am convinced that it can be established that they know that Joseph Smith had no unique authority with which they were then, in turn, endowed. They clearly represent otherwise to induce others to make sacrifices for the Church from which an illegitimate benefit is derived.

    The uninformed, including attorneys, make the argument that no court will rule on whether a Church is true or false…. and so, as a constitutional matter, this case would be dismissed. That is nonsense. This is not a matter of constitutionally protected freedom of speech or freedom of religion.

    It is possible that some lower level unqualified and politically motivated judge might try to dismiss the case inappropriately, especially if the case were filed in Utah and the judge was a Mormon, but if it is filed properly, and in the right jurisdiction, the issues will not be about a court ruling that a Church is true or false.

    The issues will be about whether specific representations made as an inducement to make enormous personal sacrifices were in fact known to have been clearly demonstrated to be contradicted by the same institution’s own declarations and therefore unreasonable and wreckless to represent as truth.

    This leads to the inescapable conclusion that the leadership either knew or should be held legally obliged to have known that the same institution openly declared, in effect, that their own representations were not true.

    So the court doesn’t rule on whether the Church is true on not…. it rules on whether the leadership demonstrated either a knowledge or an obligation to be informed of their own institutional declarations that what they were representing wasn’t true.

    The claims of the Mormon Church leadership have been openly impeached by their own declarations and disclosures. The situation is utterly absurd and very unique. Those who try to lump all religion in the same class and dismiss this on that basis are completely uninformed of the facts and issues.

    This is malicious fraud and the absurdity and malice is matched by the fact that qualified attorneys, politicians, including attorney generals are just laying down for this because they benefit from it…. where it is patently clear and obvious that it is an offensive fraud perpetrated in the name of religion.

    People who qualify as plaintifs in a class action case have already made themselves known to attorneys who are qualified to represent them. I don’t think, however, that the funding is adequate to proceed yet. No one (I hope) will be foolish enough to proceed with the case until there is a sufficient basis for believing that they can go the distance to see it through. I don’t believe the facts and legal issues are the obstacle, except in the mind of the uninformed and quite a number of unqualified attorneys who represent otherwise. Also there is quite a contingent of people engaged in misinformation on this subject in order to discourage people from believing the case is legitimate or worthwile, because so many “rice bowls”, economic and political alliances would be affected by it.

    The obstacle is logistics and funding. If this ever proceeds it will be a long drawn out battle that probably exceeds what has been spend on the California Proposition 8 litigation which is now before the United States Supreme Court.

    Somewhere, out there, are people with very deep pockets who could fund this thing personally for the principle of the thing. I wish I was one of those people but I am not. Mitt Romney is…. but he is clearly a supporter and beneficiary of the fraud.

    Consider the amount of money that was wasted on the Mitt Romney campaign for the presidency. It would take a fraction of what certain individual contributors contributed to that campaign to litigate this.

    Also, the initial memorandum, that would require funding, would be relatively (comparatively) inexpensive to fund… and, I believe, would be so compelling that the rest of the funding would become much easier.

    If sincere ex-mormons want to actually make a difference …. they could organize as a group of Mormon Victims (Victims of Mormonism) and contribute modestly to the funding of the initial memorandum. That would be a profoundly meaningful first step. The fact that the formally organized ex-mormon communities haven’t taken this on, speak volumes to me about the credibility of those organizations and what their motivations actually are. The benefit from the problem…. just like big pharma benefits from the sale of drugs not the cure of disease.

    The process of holding people accountable for religious fraud and standing up to and calling out all the institutional resistance to doing so along the way would be one of the healthiest things this country will see in our life times, because so much of what the real problems and obstacles to social justice are would necessarily be openly confronted in the process.

    There is enormous institutional resistence to proceed that manifests itself in the form of misinformation, even within the formally organized exmormon communities, because so many people, including some of those communities, benefit directly and/or indirectly from the continuation of the fraud. Some argue that there are more ex-mormon and anti-mormon books registered in the library of congress than any other single subject.

    The negative contributions of Mormonisms fuel entire industries of ego driven people dealing with the 100% predictible social ramifications of wholesale manipulation of people’s capacity to reason and think clearly with the social cancer of Mormon epistemology.

    (a smile)

  27. Self correction to my reply posted above:

    paragraph 10: This is malicious fraud and the absurdity and malice is matched by the fact that qualified attorneys, politicians, including attorney generals are just laying down for this….

    Should be: This is malicious fraud and the absurdity and malice is enabled by the fact that qualified attorneys, politicians, including attorney generals are just laying down for this…

    I’m not terribly keen on using the word enabled either but its better than matched. I intended to use “un-matched” but mistyped it. The problem with “matched” is that some might interpret it to mean I am attributing the same malice, universally, to the politicians and attorney generals as I am attributing to the Mormon leadership. That wouldn’t be fair. I think the latter group is negligent as to this matter, but I think that negligence is far more understandable and certainly does not rise to the level of malice.

  28. I appreciate your pioneer spirit, if you will, and by saying this, I’m not trying to discourage you, because hey, people should follow their passion. But there’s not a court anywhere in the U.S. that would find the LDS church guilty of fraud, because a) the Mormon church is far too mainstream now, and b) the very idea of a mainstream religion being found guilty of fraud would set off alarm bells among all mainstream religions (and their adherents, which includes all the most powerful people in the major institutions of the U.S., including government, the press, education, etc.) because it would set a precedent that would jeopardize all organized religions. Religion is too fundamental a part of American society for any court to ever threaten it.

  29. @robert

    Well, I really think you articulated the cultural politics of the situation accurately. I don’t “want to believe” that you’re right (see, maybe that’s my own latent Mormon epistemology) in bringing that back to the conclusion that no court would find the LDS church guilty for that reason… but I’m quite sure that we have enough historical basis in court decisions in America to see that many are, in fact, politically motivated, including certain older Supreme Court Decisons relevant to LGBT rights which make no sense at all. (There’s a discussion for another day…. I’ve posted detailed discussions on this topic before.)

    I really think this one could work if filed properly… but it would be enormously challenging and have to be done exactly right. The plaintiffs would have to have balls of steal and be in it for the principle of the thing and not the money and the funding would have to be world class. I’m quite sure rulings early on will be disappointing and have to be appealed and it would a long arduous process with no guarantees because, courts don’t always rule rationally.

    Personally, however, I don’t think the problem is, as others believe, that the case isn’t valid. As I think you say, the political and cultural bias is nearly overwhelming and the logistics, including funding.

    Personally, I think, as Kurvello has correctly pointed out, it should begin with a memorandum articulating in detail all the points and authorities… and I don’t think it would be wise for anyone to proceed to file a case until that is complete and passes the test of rigorous peer scrutiny. I have been a party to some of the discussions and verbal dialogue between legal experts that would need to be aired out in such a memorandum….so I have that advantage. It needs to be reduced to writing and, as Kurvello correctly points out, subjected to objective peer scrutiny. That, alone, will be an expensive preliminary project. But that pre-requisite is, in my opinion, absolutely required.

    I think there is widespread consensus, of sorts, as to the points you make about all religions being deeply concerned about this and there is a widespread perception that all religions are a fraud and quilty of the same thing. I think that is where an incorrect cultural paradigm contributes to resistance. I don’t believe it is true that all religions are guilty of the same thing. Certainly occasional instances of the same thing creep into congregations on limited levels. So I would agree that nearly all religions experience and manifest certaiin levels and types of deception along the way…. sometimes actual fraud. But there are fundamental differences between what the Mormon position is and that of most other religions. The Mormon fraud is institutionally established as a part of their fundamental doctrine and practice and protocal in ways that are very unique. I have attempted to articulate that in the blog posts on parkromney.com, particularly the article “Aren’t criticisms of Mormonism applicable to all religions?” No, my criticisms of Mormonism are not applicable to all religions. There are very fundamental differences that are key to the case.

    The preliminary memorandum project would be a noble endeavor all by itself, even if a case is never filed, for its usefulness in addressing the very points you raise and making it clear where the distinctions lie.

    If anyone out there is interested in participating in the funding of the preliminary memorandum project, if nothing more, just for the exposure of the actual issues, I’d love to hear from them. The funding is to pay for the legal expertise.

    In the end of the day, this is a very healthy dialogue, because it raises awareness of the uniqueness of the Mormon fraud and shifts the public discourse from “yes it is … no it isn’t”…. to …. “here’s how it works, exactly, and here’s how it’s unique, and here’s why it may or may not be actionable, and here are the legal, social, moral and character issues involved in the attitudes and behavior of the Mormon leadership, here’s how they differ from other religions…. etc, etc.” I personally think this is exactly the right discourse on the subject. It is the most damning (as well it should be) for the Mormon leadership and the most educational for people everywhere who don’t really understand the depth of the problem and issues and who are duped into thinking Mormonism is just another benign religious practice. It isn’t. It is an insidious, manipulative, fraudulent, exploitive scam masquerading as a religion and contributing to unwarranted disrespect for religion on the whole.

  30. Park, it doesn’t matter how you file this case. You can slice this grape as thin as you want, but no matter how you present the legal question, every single appellate court in the nation is going to take one look at your brief and conclude that you are trying to get them to rule on the truth of Mormon belief, and they will refuse to do so.

    I’m going to say this again: it doesn’t matter how you file this case (and the inevitable appeal). It doesn’t matter how skillfully you attempt to avoid litigating Mormonism’s truth claims: the court is going to say that’s what you are doing.

    Any appellate court in America will do that. And no supreme court, state or SCOTUS, is going to grant certiorari.

    This has nothing to do with whether you (or your army of lawyers “more qualified than me”) think your case is meritorious, or whether justie is on your side. This is pure pragmatism based on the consistent treatment of religion and churches in the american court system. Fore purely public policy reasons (which is a legitimate reason to decide a case and courts decide things for public policy reasons all the time), no court will rule in your favor.

    Trial court? Who knows. Trial courts are unpredictable wheit comes to decisions of law. But whoever wins at trial will appeal, the appeal will be decided against you, and the state/federal supreme court won’t grant cert. The end.

  31. @Kullervo

    You seem very invested in selling that opinion. It is at odds with the opinions of very credible legal experts on this topic…. some of whom having demonstrated the courage to attach their names and professional credentials to their opinions on the subject.

    May I suggest that you tell us your real name, state of licensing for legal practice, and areas of expertise.

    Also, please clarify without any ambiguity… I understand it to be your position that there is no jurisdiction in which this is would be found to be a meritorious complaint that would make it past summary judgement. That is you legal opinion that you are offering in this forum with the intent to influence the readers…. correct? In your reply, please include your states of license jurisdiction, and any addresses you prefer for service of process… or indicate the website where that information can be found.

    I would also appreciate it if you would, in this forum, disclose all conflicts of interest that you have on this matter, including representation or employement or memberships or other interest alligned with anyone I have citicized and called out in my article for negligence of this matter.

  32. Well Park, as you have pointed out, we’re talking about a purely hypothetical case here (you have said that you are not planning on bringing a case as a plaintiff personally). I can voice my opinion about hyptheticals all I want.

    Maybe you would survive summary judgment; who knows. Trial courts do all kinds of weird things. You can do a lot with forum shopping, and trial judges just make mistakes all the time. That’s why their decisions of law are reviewed de novo by the appellate court.

    But I definitely state it as my own purely personal opinion–not as legal advice to you or anyone else, because we are still talking about a hypothetical–that no appellate court in the country (state or federal) would rule in favor of a plaintiff bringing the kind of case you describe. Not because the law is necessarily clearly on one side or the other, but from a purely pragmatic, public-policy stance. Again, no matter how the plaintiff pled the complaint and the appeal, the appellate court would take one look and decide that the plaintiff was really just asking the court to rule on the truth of Mormonism, and the court would refuse to do so.

    And no supreme court would grant cert.

    I’m honestly not sure on what basis your army of “credible legal experts on this topic” would suggest otherwise.

    You’re free to disbelieve me all you want and to listen to whomever you want, but once again, I suggest the following objective reality check: do you know of any lawyers who agree with you who are not personally invested in this? Do any lawyers agree with you who are not ex-Mormons or otherwise have strong anti-religious sentiment?

    The fact that you think that anyone who disagrees with you does so because they have a personal stake in the matter should tell you and everyone else a whole lot about how far down the rabbit hole you are.

  33. And Park, in case you didn’t realize, this is a blog, and most of the commenters here are inclined to argue back and forth in the comments for pages and pages, all the time, without needing to justify themselves and without the presumption that they have an ulterior motive.

    Mithryn posted your screed about your hypothetical fraud case. It was open to comment! I don’t need a reason to keep disagreeing with the OP or with you. People do that all the time. It’s the internet.

    You, on the other hand, are being abusive: you have repeatedly accused me of ulterior motives because I disagree with you, and now, if I read your comment right, you are insinuating that you plan on suing me.

    For arguing with you. In the comments section. On a blog post.

  34. @Kurvello

    Nope. No plans to sue you. Check your conclusions by your own recommended standard of disciplined objectivity.

    The request for clarification of your intent and credentials and address for service of process is because I believe, if you are representing yourself to be an attorney, with intent to influence an audience for or against joining a legal action, a number of State Bars have ethical provisions that address the protocals on that subject. I think it is relevant for viewers to see how committed you are to your position, what your qualifications for it are, what your intentions are as to influencing the audience, what the relevant State Bars have to say on that subject, and what your conflicts of interest are. I also think, if it is your intention to influence readers, and if they are in fact influenced on the basis of your representations, and later learn that you were wrong and both reckless, biased, and in a conflict of interest in those representations, I think it would be fair for the readers to have your legal adddress for whatever follow-up, including bar complaints that may or may not become relevant.

    A different standard of conduct applies to officers of the court, than lay commentators, for very good reason, as most officers of the court are well aware. I think that standard applies here, if you are who you seem to want people to believe (a qualified attorney)… and I think you are skating on very thin ice, and I think it is your absolute intention to discourage belief in the viability of a law suit in the eyes of readers, and I think if you are in fact an attorney, and have any kind of conflict of interest in the matter, that is a very significant thing.

    This is not, by the way, a hypothetical matter. I have made crystal clear assertions and you know exactly what I am talking about and you know exactly what you are saying about it and you have intent to influence in mind.

    I’m happy to have this dialogue. I have not problem or objections to hearing you out…. but, my friend, how ’bout if we get all the stakes and interests on the table for the world to see if you want to influence people on this subject. You are ABSOLUTELY giving legal adivice and that is a serious matter. If you stand by it, congratulations. If you try to call it something other than what it is…. you lose my respect and I recommend others should be very cautious with your avoidance of full disclosure and unwillingness to stick your neck on the line with your opinions.

    In the alternative, I won’t take you seriously and I don’t think anyone else should either.

  35. As to Kurvello’s other assertions as to what attorneys (other than those with a personal investment in this or who are ex-Mormons) might believe in this case…

    Some attorneys I have spoken to on this subject have made enormous personal sacrifices for the truth of this matter. I wouldn’t chacterize any of them as having a personal investment in this. It is unlikely that those sacrifices could ever be recouped in this lifetime. Others take a more academic view. Ex-Mormons are not the only ones who believe this is actionable fraud.

    If anyone would like to speak with a qualified attorney privately about this matter, you are welcome to contact me through ParkRomney.com and I may or may not make a personal recommendation, if I am convinced of your sincerity. I am not interested in facilitating the Mormon Church’s political assault machine against its critics and enemies publically. I will let other professionals speak publically for themselves in their own due time, as they see fit. That is the proper order of things.

    You, Kurvello, are speaking publically now….. so how ’bout those disclosures?

  36. So the court doesn’t rule on whether the Church is true on not…. it rules on whether the leadership demonstrated either a knowledge or an obligation to be informed of their own institutional declarations that what they were representing wasn’t true.
    The claims of the Mormon Church leadership have been openly impeached by their own declarations and disclosures.

    So, in a nutshell, it’s not that the leaders of the CoJCoL-dS misrepresented what the members get in exchange for tithes and offerings, it’s that they have misrepresented their own beliefs. In other words, they tell the members XYZ, but in some other context they have demonstrated that they don’t believe XYZ to be true.

    Is that the basis of the case, or is it something else?

    You, Kurvello, are speaking publically now….. so how ’bout those disclosures?

    I honestly think Kullervo is simply making conversation about his own impressions of your case, as he said. He has been commenting here and on other LDS-interest blogs for a number of years and has not acted as a shill for any organization, as far as I have noticed.

  37. @chanson

    I re: the fraud. It is not quite that simple, but you’re getting there. The promise of benefit is not irrelevant…. but I think you will find that what makes the fraud actionable is more complex than that. Unfortunately, I think it’s a bit too complex to do justice in a blog reply. I’ll see what I can do about breaking it down in another article if I can.

    As to Kurvello. I really don’t care if he is a shill or not, or if he is “making conversation”, or how long he has been “making conversation”. He has crossed the line into the area of making specific legal representations with intent to influence readers in a very serious subject while representing himself to be an attorney, and he knows it. There are certain obligations, standards, and protocals that apply in such instances.

    I have little respect for any would-be self appointed ex-mo leader who allows this to go on in their forums without being challenged appropriately. He now owes the world the disclosures that I have requested…. and the world has a right to pursue any appropriate recourse under the laws of the relevant jurisdictions and cannons of ethics of the relevant State Bar associations.

    Frankly, there are some states in which what he is doing is probably illegal, let alone unethical…. and if he is not held to accountability where any representative of the State Bar or Attorney General’s office is aware of what he is doing, then my point is further validated as to the institutional philosophical corruption that supports Mormon fraud and fails to apply its own laws and rules where the subject of Mormon fraud is at issue.

    He should own up to the appropriate protocals and disclosures. He has demonstrated intent to influence impactful legal choices with legal advice that I believe to be false, misleading, irresponsible, and unethical. Frankly, I don’t give a damn who he is or how long he’s been doing this for the sake of “conversation”.

    I am ashamed to be associated with any ex-mo community in which this nonsense goes on, for the sake of conversation, or for any other reason, where it is not appropriately challenged and called out in the interest of giving the millions of defrauded and defamed exmormons a fair view of what competent legal experts are presenting as legitimate options for redress.

  38. He has crossed the line into the area of making specific legal representations with intent to influence readers in a very serious subject while representing himself to be an attorney, and he knows it.

    Kullervo claimed to be an attorney? Maybe he did, but I don’t see it. OTOH, maybe he is an attorney. There are a lot of attorneys in the Bloggernacle.

  39. Yes, he represented himself to be an attorney in various ways…

    [I’m saying I wouldn’t file this case for you if you asked me to because I don’t want to risk getting disciplined for filing a case that I know perfectly well will not survive summary judgment. ]

    … that are applicable to laws now in place on that subject in several states.

    Where is he now?….. and where are those disclosures? If he is not an attorney…. but was simply attempting to lead people to believe that he was, let him disclose that along with all the rest. Motivation is absolutely relevant to the objective evaluation of his claims and representations and opinions, as is competence.

  40. OK, so perhaps he is an attorney (or legal assistant or clerk).

    Personally, I think your case sounds very interesting, and I’d be happy to see it discussed here in a constructive way.

    I gather that your problem with Kullervo is that he is giving a wrong impression of your case, and is consequently influencing people not to agree with you. I would argue that overreacting to Kullervo does more harm to the impression you’re giving than anything that Kullervo himself said. His comments to you were unfriendly enough that it would be easy to counter him by taking the high road and simply giving a clear, basic outline of why your case has legal merit.

  41. I don’t care about any personal issues here…. and I don’t care that he doesn’t agree with me. I think his tone has been respectful and considerate, for the most part. He seems like a nice enough guy. Ego has nothing to do with this. There are very real protocals and obligations that apply to the types of representations that he is making for very good reason. They apply here. It is not an over-reaction to say so. It is not an over-reaction to call him out for ethics. It is not personal. And, it is not an over-reaction to point out that any exmo community that fails to recognize the appropriateness of supporting such standards discredits itself by that failure. Let anyone on earth disagree with my position or anyone elses…. but when they start giving legal advice, let’s hold them to the ethical and legal standards that apply.

    And let’s not disparage those who suggest that to be appropriate, in order to save our own embarrassment for our own incompetence and participation in unethical behavior by silent acquiescence.

    Millions of people have an interest in this matter. It is categorically disrespectful to those people to be a party to misinformation by aiding and abetting unethically presented legal advice.

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