LDS Newsroom mogul Michael Purdy no doubt worked overtime this past week. The Mormon PR machine ran interference in the media and fairly successfully spun the Mormon Church Fraud Case into a protest against persecution of religious freedom. At least, that's how it appears in the US press.
In the UK, the view is changing. What might be called the Mormon Church Fraud Case is emerging across the pond as a theocorpocracy fraud case. The LDS Church is a actually a multi-national corporation that governs a near theocracy in Utah with a major hold on state and local politics. The majority of its several billion-dollar income comes from tithing its members at 10% of their salaries--a flat tax rate that surpasses the beehive state tax for most members--competing in total collections with state tax revenue. By most perspectives, it is a very wealthy corporate theocracy, or theocorpocracy.
Using tens of thousands of unpaid, volunteer 18-20 year old salespersons, the LDS Theocorpocracy markets its history and doctrine in deceitful ways in order to accrue material benefit from its members. Any other corporation that does this commits fraud. Just because the LDS Church proclaims itself as a religion does not mean its corporate nature is unrestrained from fraudulent behavior.
The US press has convinced some that there doesn't appear to be any fraud because this is about faith. They're wrong. This is about defrauding both persons and the UK government. Steve Bloor and Chris Ralph lay out an important financial aspect of the Mormon Theocorpocracy Fraud case.
"For every pound paid to the church by LDS members in the UK who, (following leadership counsel), have availed themselves of Deeds of Covenant and Gift Aid, £0.20 has been added by the British Taxpayer to the church’s bank accounts. The sum paid out by HMRC [Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs] in this connection must now amount to tens of millions of pounds. It is understood that in most cases the resulting tax rebates made to individuals, were handed over to the church at its request."
This "Gift Aid" is a tax relief at the HMRC. A professor at Northwestern University eloquently summarized this for me in personal correspondence (with a little word change on my part):
"In the UK, tithing is considered a charitable gift under the Gift Aid tax relief--so the government kicks in a certain amount (20% of the donation). If the Mormon Church is defrauding people, and accruing UK tax aid dollars on the basis of that fraud, the government should be very interested to investigate."
The failure of the Mormon Corporation to disclose enables them to defraud not just individuals, but from the UK government and its taxpayers. This is an extremely serious charge. The Theocorpocracy Fraud case is not ideological. It argues for transparency, honesty, and truth from an organization that makes outrageous falsifiable claims about its history in order to gain access to an individual’s funds. The fraud even bilks the UK government for more funds.
The HMRC tax page explains the process: " Charities or CASCs take your donation - which is money you've already paid tax on - and reclaim the basic rate tax from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) on its 'gross' equivalent - the amount before basic rate tax was deducted. Basic rate tax is 20 per cent, so this means that if you give £10 using Gift Aid, it’s worth £12.50 to the charity."
In other words, the UK pays the charities (i.e., LDS Church) out of its coffers as a plus up to what someone has already donated. Now, a member could pay 8% and allow the UK to pay the other 2% of their tithing. It appears, however, the LDS Church did not explain to most members that they need only pay 8% tithing under the Gift Aid relief.
British Mormons have chimed in on this. Some of these are involved in the case, so I won't list names until I can assure it won't breach case rules. One former Mormon Bishop wrote: "In my experience most Bishops don't tell the member they can get away with paying less in tithing because the Church claims back the difference. Many members pay the full 10% & the Church gets the extra [percent]."
A British member said, "I was never told that I could claim relief on my charitable giving, only that the church can claim that extra percentage on my donation. Isn't that withholding information? ...under Deed of Covenant. I paid 12% on Gross."
Not only is the LDS Theocorpocracy under investigation for evading payment of taxes on the moneys it paid to UK mission presidents, but it would appear it defrauded its member out of a tax benefit from tithing it received by giving members false information about its own history and about the tax relief laws governing its accounting.
This is not about persecution against beliefs. This is about defrauding people and governments. As more information makes its way out we will see Mike Purdy and President Newsroom (the only prophet that speaks these days in the halls at the church offices) spin and spin as they twist in the fraud winds.
The LDS Theocorpocracy is a strange beast. It seems most world religions do not operate as corporations, at least not to market their belief systems in a fraudulent way. None that I know of are structured the way this theocorpocracy is. Some of you will recall that in September 2012, I wrote a blog about the LDS Corporate Sole and its articles of incorporation. I'm going to paraphrase a little from that blog.
The LDS Church corporation is called a Corporation Sole. All LDS businesses are owned under two sole-corporations: The Corporation of the President of the COJCOLDS, and The Corporation of the Presiding Bishopric of COJCOLDS.
At the top of this multi-level pyramid is, currently, top-dog sole owner Thomas S. Monson whose corporations is worth an estimated $40-60 billion in assets.
Most non-profit corporations, such as some churches that incorporate (not all do), maintain their members as stockholders. Not the LDS Theocorpocracy.
The second amendment on the articles of incorporation allows the theocorpocracy to do whatever they wish with the property without any say given its members.
"...this corporation shall have power, without any authority or authorization from the members of said Church or religious society, to grant, sell, convey, rent, mortgage, exchange, or otherwise dispose of any part or all of such property."
Did you catch that? Members have no power whatsoever. Membership in the church is almost entirely comprised of being on a list owned by Intellectual Reserved Inc, a business unit under the LDS multi-national coproration sole--the theocorpocracy. As such, latter-day saints are nothing more than a number. Their name is connect through a membership ID number as a subscriber to meetings and information given out about the church.
That's it. You own no part of the theocorpocracy as a member. Your baptism and sealing are purely ornaments to your membership number.
Remember they disclaimed this on the church donation slip: all donations become the Church's property and will be used at the Church's sole discretion to further the Church's overall mission.
Replace "Church" above with "Corporation" or even "Theocorpocracy" and it has new meaning. Who has the "theocorpocracy's sole discretion"? Thomas S. Monson, currently the only one named in the fraud case (that could change).
This strange beast, the theocorpocracy, is pretty unique. Scientology is the only other religion that seems to have something akin to a theocorpocracy, although if I'm not mistaken, it's not a corporate sole. In France, Oct 2013, the Scientology conviction of preying financially on followers was upheld by the French government.
What the LDS Theocorpocracy does is similar. They will spin it as persecution because they desperately don't want members to know what they've been doing financially in Europe. They claim to be a beacon of integrity and morals, but they are a corporation hiding behind theology. Their hypocrisy is now showing. In fact, I think the word should be Theocorpocrisy.
Yes, theocorpocrisy, pronounced to rhyme with hypocrisy.
The LDS Church is, apparently, really a big lying Theocorpocrisy.