17 July 2007

Church snipers on the roof...

I have been surprised that so little has been said in the Bloggernacle regarding the recent Oregon Supreme Court decision that ordered the Church to open up its finances.  I won't go into all the legal gobbledy-gook for the non-lawyer's sake, but it looks like the only recourse that the Church will have is an appeal to the US Supreme Court.  They don't actually have to take the appeal so the OSC decision may stand as is.  If so, expect that the Church will request an airtight protective order on that information (meaning legal sanctions for anyone who discloses it).  Even so, Church snipers on the roof might be a better idea...

While I myself would be interested in seeing the Church's full financial statement, I understand why they guard that secret so jealously.  Plaintiffs love to go after the deep pockets and the Church's are real deep, no doubt.  After all, that's what is happening here.  Some HT molested a boy who is now looking for punitive damages and for some reason, the bank account of the Church is relevant to this question.  I won't get into the legal theories of the Church's liability any more than to say that there is a price you pay when you call every worthy male a member of the Priesthood.


  1. Greetings AHLDuke,

    Just wanted to stop by and thank you for your comment on CitC, much appreciated. I was expecting to be attacked, though not as much as I was.

    Regarding the order about the church, I don't see what the big deal is. As an entity with non-profit tax status, I think the church should open it's accounting records. That is, if every other church in the country has to do the same. If not, then it isn't fair to single us out.

    But I know the church has a reputation for being secretive, and this will help with that a bit, unless they fight it tooth and nail. Re:the molestation suit, if the Catholic church had to pay, then LDS church should too.

    Good luck with your blog!

  2. JL,

    I'm a law student so I looked into this a little bit. Churches do not have to release their financial records by reporting to the IRS the same way that other non-profits do. I think that some separately incorporated organizations under the big Church umbrella (like LDS Family Services) do have to do the usual IRS reporting. I would agree, though, that if other churches did have to report, I would not consider our Church to be any exception.

    On the other issue about molestation, my concern is that the Church's leadership structure is unlike any other church out there that I know about. With the Catholic Church, we are talking about a couple (or maybe more than a couple...) wicked priests. But extending legal liability against the Church to everything that an HT does is a little broad. Having every worthy male member be a "priest" and member of the "leadership" is troublesome from the legal point of view. I am fully supportive of making the Church liable for things that GAs, Stake Presidents, even down to Bishops and Missionaries, do. But holding the institution responsible for what about a third of its members do (that's an estimate) seems like a blunt instrument.

  3. Church sniper- Why couldn't I have had a mission call like that?

    I'm not up on all the law bits, but lawyers have tried to force this issue before and been unsuccessful. I naively assume they will be unsuccessful again.