All about LDS Church finances and ‘copycat’ tithing lawsuits

Could the faith end up facing a mega-suit alleging fraud in how it spends donations?

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Administration Building in Salt Lake City is shown in 2021.

Money talks. It makes headlines, too. Just ask The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Utah-based faith’s finances have become a source of discussion, debate and, yes, dissent among insiders and outsiders.

In recent weeks, the church’s chief investment arm, Ensign Peak Advisors, has seen its publicly reported stock portfolio shoot past $50 billion, helping to propel the global faith’s total wealth to an estimated $265 billion.

Days ago, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed the church a mini-victory, agreeing to rehear the fraud lawsuit brought against it by a prominent Utahn, James Huntsman, who has accused Latter-day Saint leaders of misleading members about how the faith spends tithing funds.

In addition, the church has been targeted in at least five states by a string of what it has called “copycat” tithing lawsuits seeking class-action status.

On this week’s show, Salt Lake Tribune reporter Tony Semerad, who has been tracking the church’s finances and legal entanglements for a number of years, helps sort out all this money maneuvering and courtroom drama.

Listen to the podcast:

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