Please join me and Radio Free Mormon on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 8am Utah time for a discussion of “Laura A. Gaddy vs. the Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” – a class action lawsuit currently before the United States District Court for the District of Utah, with Robert J. Shelby as the Presiding Judge.

The main purpose of the case is as follows: “The case seeks certification as a class action based upon the large number of former Mormons who have been deceived by Defendant COP’s fraud, as a result of the Mormon Corporate Empire’s longstanding coordinated lies and material omissions about its history as well as lies about its use of tithing donations and how it would use that tithing in the future.”

Two of the main documents central to the case can be found here (for your review):

Click here to contact Kay Burningham (the attorney on this case), or to follow this case.

Financial donations to support the past and ongoing expenses for the case can be made here.

P.S.  One primary motivator for this episode is to fundraise for Radio Free Mormon so that he can be supported in his podcasting efforts, and so that we can keep him around for a very long time.  Please click here to become a monthly donor to Radio Free Mormon.


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00:00 Introduction
10:32 Reason why the lawyer herself isn’t on, RFM disclaimer
14:35 Difference between religion and something that’s susceptible to fraud
22:57 What can and can’t be on the table?
32:11 Scenario: John starts a religion! :)
36:03 Tom Phillips case in the UK
41:30 Freedom of religion – getting fired for being gay
45:19 Judge Robert Shelby. Qualification of judges
55:23 Original complaint and extension to the amended complaint
1:01:28 Judge’s reasons to dismiss
1:05:22 The amended complaint
1:16:55 Which people are able to be included in the class action part of the lawsuit?
1:21:55 Complaint is about beliefs not being sincerely held
1:26:23 John’s observations of harsh words in the complaint. RFM’s thoughts
1:39:15 Making the extra case responding to the dismissal
1:48:42 Legal name of the church. History of church being incorporated
1:50:54 Quotes from LDS people in the amended complaint on insincerity of beliefs
2:17:17 LDS discussions pointing out church historians being educated as lawyers
2:25:06 Kay Burningham joining. John asking her comments
2:28:00 Kay providing backstory about what happened
2:37:00 John explaining people want their tithing back. Kay’s thoughts
2:43:27 If someone wants to join the case, what do they need to do?
2:48:00 Kay’s thoughts about the case going forward
2:52:30 Kay about the church’s qualifications about her
2:54:35 Are there other legal options for filing a complaint?
2:59:48 RFM complimenting Kay with using John’s faith crisis
3:01:56 Inclusion on how tithes are spent?
3:04:48 LDS bringing up catholic church bringing up transubstantiation
3:07:28 Paying tithing before feed your family
3:08:15 Motion to dismiss vs motion for summary judgement
3:10:43 Kay’s final words
3:17:05 RFM’s thoughts about the lawsuit going forward
3:21:50 FB-comment by an ex-member wanting to get their life back
3:22:54 Closing words


  1. Laura Wayman January 14, 2021 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Cannot wait!!!

  2. Laurel January 14, 2021 at 4:33 pm - Reply

    Can’t wait for this. Many of us paid 10% of our income our entire lives *only* because we believed the church was true and that it was going directly to certain things like humanitarian aid and supporting volunteer missionaries and temples. We were mislead. Leaders once said there would be a day when no one would have to pay tithing at all because the church had sufficient for its needs. That day has come and gone, and they are still asking for money. I have given so much money to the church, and was as informed as I could be (about doctrine and history) within my “bounded choice” LDS structure. They should be held accountable for brainwashing people and coercing them to contribute (financial abuse). As soon as I found out the church was false, of course I left. But I couldn’t get my money back from all those years when the leadership had intentionally mislead me, knowing full well how much money they had AND that the church leadership as a whole had directly lied many times in order to control the “truth narrative” over the years. No one pays tithing “for fun.” They pay it to get access to “blessings” and because they believe god is telling them to. They pay it because they believe it’s the most honest and efficient humanitarian organization in the world. We want our money back. Whether it’s successful or not, I want to hear how someone creates and fights a case like this. Looking forward to it!

  3. John Henry January 14, 2021 at 4:58 pm - Reply


    RFM: Please address whether there is an exception to the legal elements of fraud based on religious belief. Stated differently: Can a religion say anything they want without legal liability for falsehoods?

    A related questions: Are financial donations (i.e. earning money for one’s own mission, two years of time donated to a church mission, over payment of tithing based on the D&C definition or payment of tithing that is used for purposes other than church welfare and administrative purposes) recoverable in the class action?

    • Radio Free Mormon January 19, 2021 at 11:55 am - Reply

      This lawsuit is about the very question you pose: Can a religion say anything they want without legal liability for falsehoods.

      What Gaddy is saying is that religions have freedom to say whatever they want so long as those beliefs are sincerely held.

      If they are not sincerely held, they are not religious beliefs subject to First Amendment protections.

      The Amended Complaint alleges the beliefs espoused in the dominant narrative are not sincerely held because the church knew, or had reason to know, they were not true when they made them.

      As to your second question, I have no idea whether non-financial contributions are recoverable.

  4. pish pishter January 15, 2021 at 9:35 am - Reply

    In every lawsuit I have seen there is always the discussion of the First Vision. And the first vision seems to be the thing always thrown out. It seems that it would be better to ignore the first vision as far is if it did or did not happen, and focus on if someone lied about the versions and hid the document from people such as the Tanners etc.

    • Jesse Atwood January 17, 2021 at 10:51 am - Reply

      It seems like the key to establishing the case for fraud is twofold:
      1. If official church reps made assertions that were knew were false, yet made the statements anyway – like the BofA is a “translation,” when they absolutely knew otherwise, with internal documents to prove that they did know otherwise. Or, that there’s only one version of the 1st vision, when they knew otherwise, then it would constitute fraud. Whereas, if they truly believed the BofA was a translation, or that all versions of the 1st vision are valid, then it falls under the 1st amendment. Or,
      2 If they withheld information that is pertinent to a person’s belief, and that withholding misleads a person, the withholding of which influences a person to donate money, or other goods and services, then that would also constitute fraud. Whereas, if they withheld info because they sincerely “believed” it was incorrect information, then it would again fall under the 1st amendment (unless it involves the cutting out of one version because they don’t like the narrative, only to re-introduce it later with a new slant on the version).

  5. Wendy Lowder January 15, 2021 at 10:49 am - Reply

    I think if the church wants to survive it must catch up to the 21st century. The organization must be held accountable with reparations and reform, , just like any American institution.

  6. Mark Wilson January 15, 2021 at 11:28 am - Reply

    Is there a way we can all donate to the cause to make sure the suit does not fail due to lack of funds?

  7. Adrian January 15, 2021 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    Very insightful discussion. Trying to view this from the perspective of the individuals whose collective will ultimately reflects the decision making that directs the actions taken by the institutional LDS church. One might wonder if these individuals base their decisions through the framework of a “war” narrative. If one sees oneself as having a role in a narrative that is a continuation of a “War in Heaven,” might one then view oneself as a general (in this case, for Christ) in a “war against Satan.” And might this not lead one to believe that a general has no moral obligation to “tell the truth” to “the enemy”, however that enemy is defined. So, is the LDS institution morally obligated, from this perspective, to tell “the truth”, which may harm its “war effort” or “to win the war” if these two imperatives are in conflict?

    Ultimately, in my opinion, this comes down to whether or not, one views one’s leadership from a “truth” perspective – which I can imagine a leader would want to take within with fellow citizens in a “non war” narrative – or from a moral imperative to win this war? This might charitably explain a “sincerely held belief” that it’s OK to be deceptive if “we are at war.”

    • Dave Alleman January 24, 2021 at 11:23 am - Reply

      very fair analysis
      ultimately any human group will come into conflicts with other groups with different beliefs and interests
      avoiding violence while tolerating differences is never easy
      if ex mormons tolerate every other group except mormons that shows an attitude that could improve
      if money is a problem change your bank or business or church
      never forget that the church was once a separate kingdom
      so much history so little appreciation for how to evolve a kingdom into a state in the USA
      let’s never forget that WW I and its continuation WW II actually is part of similar processes in Europe
      mormons are part of these bigger shifts in culture

  8. Jessica McDowell January 15, 2021 at 11:25 pm - Reply

    That was fantastic! Thank you for this, thank you to all involved! I m sure I’m not going to be the only one officially sending in mine and my children’s resignation papers ASAP. Been meaning to for a while and this just was the motivation I needed. I can finally feel proud being numbered among the “saints”. Such a worth while and intelligent effort to be made and so incredibly validated! Kay, you are brilliant!

  9. James Weller January 16, 2021 at 7:32 am - Reply

    All of this ruckus and rebellion will be beautifully and definitively resolved when John Dehlin and company do the onely thing they need to do, which is the one thing they refuse to do: Ask The Lord.

    • Radio Free Mormon January 25, 2021 at 6:00 pm - Reply


  10. John D Smith January 17, 2021 at 12:01 am - Reply

    There was a court case back in about 1985 where a so called prophet in Manti Utah :I think the church is called
    (The True Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints) anyway he promised a woman from Utah that if she would give his church something like 120,000 thousand dollars she would be able to see Jesus. So she gave him the 120,000 and she was never able to see Jesus Christ. So she took him to court and won and the so called prophet had to give the money back. Could this case be used as a presidents

  11. Glenn January 17, 2021 at 8:46 am - Reply

    Can an Endowed LDS judge hear a case about the church without a fundamental conflict of interest? They have made a solemn promise to use all their time, talents, assets, and their life to build up the church. It seems impossible to make an unbiased judgment while trying to uphold one’s covenants and the oath of justice.

    • John Dehlin January 17, 2021 at 9:01 am - Reply

      There could be conflicts of interest either way, but my sense is that Judge Shelby is inactive LDS.

    • Kay Burningham April 8, 2021 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      There is binding 10th Circuit case law that a judge’s membership in a religious organization is an insufficient basis for recusal even when that same church is the defendant. Whether an endowed LDS member (and all the promises s/he has made) who sits in judgment in a case where the LDS church is the defendant must recuse herself or himself has yet to be tested in the appellate courts. As John mentioned, I also believe that Judge Shelby is inactive. Regardless, we were lucky to draw him becuse apart from Tena Campbell, I believe all others are LDS and many are endowed members. And, it may have been that many of the local federal judiciary voluntarily recused themselves for that very reason and that is why we ended up with Judge Shelby–but this is total speculation on my part.

  12. Frank January 18, 2021 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    After reading the following, I’m somewhat confused.

    May 2020 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin
    A federal court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by a Utah woman who argued that the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are fraudulent.

    Laura Gaddy, a former member of the church, concluded that the online research she performed convinced her that church officials have altered core doctrines over the years. She sued the church last year, claiming racketeering and fraud.

    U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby dismissed the case on March 31, ruling that secular courts are in no position to wade into the question of the validity of a church’s beliefs, Courthouse News Service reported.

    Gaddy’s research led her to believe that Joseph Smith, who founded the church in 1820 after claiming an encounter with a celestial being, had never been instructed to form a new church. She also asserted that certain allegedly ancient Egyptian documents Smith had translated didn’t say the things he claimed they did.

    Shelby ruled that the court could not delve into these matters.

    “Each of these alleged misrepresentations directly implicates the Church’s core beliefs,” Shelby wrote. “Because a statement’s falsity is an essential element of fraud claims, adjudicating these claims would require the court to do exactly what the Supreme Court has forbidden – evaluate the truth or falsity of the Church’s religious beliefs.” (Gaddy v. Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).

    • John Dehlin January 18, 2021 at 1:39 pm - Reply

      What are you confused about, Frank? Did you listen to the entire presentation?

  13. Frank January 18, 2021 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Maybe I wasn’t listening well. You and RFM were discussing the case as if Shelby had not yet ruled when he had already dismissed the case. I admit that I did not listen to the podcast to the very end. Shame on me.

    Now, for my take. I joined the church of my own volition. And I left the church of my own volition. I’ll never get back the time, the money and any other personal loss for having been a member. Do I like it that so much was hidden? No. Would I advise people who are investigating not to join? If asked, yes. I have told people when asked that the LDS church is an easy in and a hard out.

    • John Dehlin January 18, 2021 at 5:01 pm - Reply

      Originally Judge Shelby granted a motion to dismiss, but the Plaintiff’s attorney filed an amended complaint. The amended complaint has now been argued in court, and we are waiting for a ruling from Judge Shelby.

  14. Robert Hodge January 24, 2021 at 10:56 am - Reply

    I think this issue was legally tested in a case filed in the United Kingdom. The matter dismissed by an appeals court based upon a finding that all religions could be thus be charged with fraud based upon similar teachings coupled with contributions. The court just could not do that. (In england the Church is a part of the state) However in a case like this, if the matter can get past preliminary dismissal, some interesting and potentially disturbing facts would be “discoverable” under the Rules of Civil Procedure”. I would love to sit in on those depositions.

  15. Patrica Ann Carney April 17, 2021 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    Can a person still join the lawsuit? How? Who to contact.

  16. Dennel B Tyon October 30, 2022 at 12:32 pm - Reply

    Ran across this by accident… so glad I did. Just wanted to post an UPDATE first: Judge Amy Barrett, in the summer of 2022, voted, with four other Conservative justices, to OVERTURN ROE vs WADE. Abortion is now illegal in many states, and more to come. This is such a betrayal, on her behalf, to Americans, because she promised, in her confirmation, that she saw Roe v Wade as “established law.” My fear now, is that interracial marriage, same sex marriage, and other personal human rights, will follow.
    AS FOR “THE CHURCH,” they DON’T believe all the things they teach. I was confirmed at birth, baptized at 8… and then baptized AGAIN, for THIRTEEN DEAD PEOPLE, when I was age 13. I found that very creepy, but it wasn’t the first thing to make me question the authenticity of Mormon beliefs. I’m writing a book about just that subject, actually… but it won’t be published for a few years yet. WHEN I WAS 8 years old, I heard a voice, which I believed, and still believe, to be God, telling me I was going to write a book one day. When I told my grandma, tho, she said God wouldn’t talk to me, because I was “a woman,” and only men can hold the “special gift of the priesthood.” I didn’t tell any else that story for almost 40 years. I now have EIGHT BOOKS published.

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