A woman who grew up in the Mormon Church is suing it — the whole damn religion — for lying to her. Laura A. Gaddy filed the class action lawsuit this week, and it’s a doozy.
She insists that her lawsuit isn’t about the Church lying in the same way all religions make things up (otherwise Creationist Ken Ham would be sued every freaking day). She’s angry at the Church for “misrepresenting the foundational history of Mormonism” — saying that the faith was founded on a series of beliefs, which the Church has since “whitewashed” and “manipulated” — leading to “immeasurable emotional harm in the form of existential crises, suicides, broken families, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.”
Here’s an example of what she’s talking about, as explained by Courthouse News Service:
According to Mormon history, an angel guided [Joseph] Smith to buried gold plates near his home in Upstate New York in 1823. Smith allegedly collected the plates, which were inscribed in reformed Egyptian by ancient Americans with Hebraic DNA, and translated them into the church’s signature text, the Book of Mormon, which he published in 1830.
Mormons migrated to Ohio in 1831 due to persecution for their beliefs, which included polygamy, and Smith was killed by an angry mob while jailed in Missouri in 1844. Mormon settlers arrived in the Great Salt Lake Valley in 1847.
Gaddy claims that LDS leaders have recently and partially admitted, “albeit in an intentionally limited and ever changing manner,” that Smith did not directly use gold plates to create the Book of Mormon, contradicting orthodox narrative.
It’s as if the Catholic Church suddenly said women could become priests now and of course those consecrated wafers are symbols and not actually the literal body of Christ. When you base your life around a specific set of religious beliefs, only to have the Church turn around and say those beliefs weren’t entirely accurate, you’d be furious. That’s even more true with the Mormon Church, since it’s such an insular culture.
Gaddy is alleging fraud, breach of fiduciary duties, emotional distress, RICO (which applies to criminal organizations). And in addition to legal costs and punitive damages, she’s asking for the following:
An award of special damages in the actual out-of-pocket monetary loss from such violations in the sum of the amount that Plaintiff and each class member has paid in tithing, tuition and/or personal missionary expense over the course of their affiliation with the Mormon Corporate Empire…
In short: She wants all the money she’s given the LDS Church over her lifetime.
As enjoyable as it is to read the lawsuit, it’s hard to imagine it’ll go anywhere. It doesn’t take a law degree to recognize that every religious leader can just say they were doing the best they could with the available information; when they learned more, they explained more, even if that required revisions. They weren’t trying to mislead people, they’ll argue.
It’s not like Gaddy and her lawyer Kay Burningham (author of An American Fraud: One Lawyer’s Case against Mormonism) don’t know that, though. It’s why they focus the lawsuit on claims the Church allegedly knew it was lying about.
Even if it doesn’t work, however, there’s value to the lawsuit. Just filing it means the media will talk about it, and perhaps some Mormons will learn a lot about the problems with their own religion. Perhaps some will even go so far as to check out the CES Letter.
A judge may end up tossing out the lawsuit, but pointing out the contradictions and hypocrisies of organized religion isn’t going anywhere.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Mark for the link)