President Monson summoned to appear before British court

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President Monson speaks at the Saturday general conference morning session, Oct. 5, 2013. (Courtesy of Mormon Newsroom)

President Monson has been summoned by a British magistrate to appear in court on fraud charges that were filed by a disaffected LDS member on Tuesday, according to an article by “The Arizona Republic.”

Two summonses directed President Monson to attend a hearing in the Westminster Magistrates Court of London on March 14. The court wants the LDS president to address “accusations that key tenets of the LDS faith are untrue and have been used to secure financial contributions,” according to “The Arizona Republic.”

“The Church occasionally receives documents like this that seek to draw attention to an individual’s personal grievances or to embarrass Church leaders,” said Eric Hawkins, a spokesman at Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, in a “USA Today” article.

“These bizarre allegations fit into that category,” Hawkins said.

According to the “USA Today” article, legal scholars in England are shocked that the summonses were even issued and that “British law precludes challenges to theological beliefs in secular courts.” Because of this, it is unlikely that prosecutors would try to have President Monson extradited, according to the same article.

Tom Phillips, a former member of the LDS church, filed the criminal complaint. Phillips had held several different positions in England including bishop, stake president and area executive secretary before withdrawing from the Church. He is currently working for MormonThink, an online publication that critiques LDS doctrine, according to “The Arizona Republic.”

“I’m sitting here with an open mouth,” said Neil Addison, a former British crown prosecutor and author on religious freedom, in the “USA Today” article.

“I think the British courts will recoil in horror. This is just using the law to make a show, an anti-Mormon point. And I’m frankly shocked that a magistrate has issued it,” Addison said.

“I just can’t imagine it being successful,” said Doe Daughtrey, a professor of religious studies at Arizona State University and Mesa Community College, according to “The Arizona Republic.”

“You can’t prove religion either way,” Daughtrey said.

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