Welcome to Kay Burningham's blog
about Mormonism: An American Fraud
Meet Kay Burningham,
attorney, advocate, and author of
An American Fraud: One Lawyer's Case against Mormonism
Here we discuss the truth about Mormonism--what people know, but are afraid to say and what others don't know, but are afraid to learn.
Please visit Kay's official site at kayburningham.com
Excerpt from Reader review
"...Kay Burningham’s painstaking studies unfolded for her, and now her readers, the details of a grotesque fraud of cosmic proportions masquerading under a charitable façade of public spirited nobility. In her book, Kay demonstrates for the world to see, how a reasonable application of the law should be applied to the “affinity fraud” of Mormonism, whose very continued existence employs the quiet acquiescence of government officials and judicial officers whose canons of ethics demand of them a higher standard than to allow this fraud to continue unchecked.
An American Fraud: One Lawyer’s Case against Mormonism, is, ..., an historically significant work that calls out the most insidious fraud of American culture for what it is. It is a timeless masterpiece, and will be associated with the beginning of the end of Mormonism in years to come.
For more information about the book, click here
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Mormon women will relate to the desperation Brooks so eloquently describes: “For years, I cried every time I set foot in a Mormon ward house. Crying out of fear and anger and loneliness and misunderstanding. Crying that the Church had punished women like me, people like me, leaving us exiled among our own.” (Kindle location 1687). Beginning in her teens, through her young adult years at BYU and beyond into graduate school, she questions the value of her gender. These questions increasingly appear to cause her despair and angst. Then, she describes her complete dismay and disagreement with the LDS position on Proposition 8, California’s successful ballot measure which overturned the legislated and judicially upheld law allowing same-sex marriage. In contravention of LDS policy, she openly advocates voting “No,” on Proposition 8.
Yet Brooks barely alludes to the real problems with Mormonism: the suppression and misrepresentation by Church leaders of historical facts. Members who have questioned this white-washed version of Mormonism’s historical and theological foundation have been criticized. Leaders have openly denounced intelligent inquiry into these issues. Members of the LDS hierarchy have pronounced as heretical the discussion, let alone exhibition, of true feminine power and have unabashedly exhibited the above-described patent bigotry against same sex-marriage. Why so much backlash against an advocacy of true history and basic human rights? Why all the insular Mormon secrets and narrow-minded thinking?
The author conveniently skips over the real, underlying problem with the LDS Religion: that it was built and continues to be presented as something that historical documents reveal it never was: gospel teachings from an ancient history written by American prophets on golden plates. Brooks ends her book with a plea for a pluralistic Zion, one that mirrors her marriage to her Jewish husband and their admirable effort to bring both religious (and perhaps cultural) traditions together for the sake of their young children. Hers is a worthy goal. However, it cannot be obtained by sweeping real doctrinal and historical issues under the carpet as Brooks has done. These need to be exposed and examined for what they are, addressed openly and then, dealt with. This is something that, absent a demand from Mormons within the Church, will never be done. Yet this very thing is what is necessary.
Brooks doesn’t want to be a victim, decries any civil action for redress based upon a false representation of the source of the religion (yet, by her very admission of the possibility, inadvertently acknowledges a real problem): “Do we sue to get our tithes and offerings back, all the dollars we faithfully mailed to Salt Lake City, to build temples we would never see?” (Kindle location 2261). Here she seems to have some sort of insider’s knowledge that the LDS Church is cutting back on its temple building.
The author seems to forget a teaching that is true in most all religions: repentance. The secular counterpart to confess, redress, forgive and “go and sin no more,” is restitution. A proper civil action filed against those who have committed fraud in the inducement is nothing more than Mormons seeking redress for the sin committed against them by their leaders. It is restitution! Certainly Hebraic theology would endorse such an attempt. There is nothing wrong or sinful in bringing a lawsuit against an entity that has misrepresented its origins, and by doing so, obtained billions of dollars in tithes under false pretenses. This is redress, an important step in the repentance of the LDS hierarchy. Some would argue (even if only from a psychological perspective) that it is impossible to move on, to achieve that pluralistic utopia to which Brooks aspires, without such a step.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Winter concludes in her article “How the Mormons Make Money,” June 13, 2012, that: “In some cases money flows in the opposite direction, from the church’s treasury to the businesses.” Two CEOs for LDS business entities make interesting admissions regarding the interplay between Church and business funds. In an apparent response to Winter’s questions about that relationship, CEO of LDS subsidiary, Desert Management Corporation (DMC), Keith McMullin, admits: “From time to time, if there is a particular need, there would be some monies available [from the church treasury fund] but fortunately over the years that has not been the case very often,” says McMullin. “If you have a particular reversal in an enterprise, you need to have some additional cash flow until you work through a difficult time. I’ll give you an example, [sic] we’re going through one right now: It’s called a recession.” Winter notes that “McMillin declined to elaborate on whether the church has been bailing out subsidiaries.”
Later in the article, Sheri Dew, CEO of the DMC subsidiary, Deseret Book, admits that a decade ago the business was “in the red,” and that ultimately she had to ask for help from the Church. “Asking your prophet to fund a flailing business can be stressful,” she says.
The practice of using money from Church donations to fund business enterprises, even if a temporary or occasional transaction, and whether these transactions are loans or rise to the level of commingling, is reminiscent of the early days of Mormonism. Nineteenth century LDS prophet-presidents Joseph Smith and Brigham Young used LDS Church funds as their own, or liberally borrowed interest free, from those accounts. Clearly, in modern Mormonism, there is no bright line test for what can and cannot be done with donated funds. Recently the Church has made clear on its donation receipts that once the donations are received, “…all will be used at the Church’s discretion to further the Church’s overall mission.” Below are scanned copies, provided by a member of http://www.postmormon.org of the current receipt (right) and the prior (left).
Noticeably absent in the revised receipt are line item entries for specific donations to temple building, education and scripture funds. Does this mean the Church will no longer be spending money on these projects? If so, what exactly is its current ‘overall mission’? The new receipt advises: “Though reasonable efforts will be made globally to ensure that tithing is used as designated, all donations become the Church’s property and all will be used at the Church’s discretion to further the Church’s overall mission.” Previously, the limiting language at the end of the receipt referred only to tithing donations. It read: “All donations to the Church’s missionary fund become the property of the Church to be used at the Church’s sole discretion in the missionary program.”
The non-profit part of the LDS Church is organized and receives tax-exempt benefits under IRS code section 501(c)(3). Among the many limitations of a non-profit organization, such an entity cannot receive and distribute income that inures to the benefit of any one private individual, or participate directly in political matters. The Church has managed to avoid crossing these lines, but just barely. Their open encouragement of members’ participation in support of California Proposition 8, banning gay marriage, is one recent example.
The LDS Church seems to be walking a fine line between participation in ordinary activities, the type expected by a religious organization, and using donations for profit-making enterprises. Historically, most members of the LDS Church hierarchy can be traced to a select number of families, whether by blood or marriage. Instead of benefitting LDS average congregants, LDS business enterprises benefit only these privileged families in the Mormon machine; some refer to this old Mormon family monopoly on business (especially in the State of Utah) as the Mormon Mafia. Others have referred to entering Utah for business or even travel purposes as going behind the Zion Curtain.
One wonders how frequently, and to what extent, LDS Church money-making enterprises are in fact supported by faithful members’ tithes. Couldn’t most all of these successful business ventures be traced back to initial tithing seed money? Most certainly the primary, if not sole, source of income for the Church treasury account is from LDS member donations.
Compare this set-up to the duties professionals have to their clients: Attorneys, CPAs and real estate brokers all have a duty to separate client money from their business accounts. Money in client trust accounts can only be used for exactly what the client has specified. Never can the business income for the profession be mixed with the client’s money. Commingling is grounds for severe discipline under each professions’ code of ethics. As Park B. Romney, former CFO of a publicly held corporation and tax accountant has commented: “In the United States, organized religion becomes a license to steal, due to the unwillingness of oversight authorities (I.R.S., F.B.I., et. al.) and, in many cases, the judiciary, to hold Church leaders to the strict standards of fiduciary accountability which apply to business professionals.” When you use funds intended to promote spiritual growth for commercial gain, even if used only occasionally, like DMC CEO McMullin seems to have admitted, it is difficult to justify how the City Creek Mall or the profits from the other LDS businesses benefit the average Church member.
Most LDS members believe tithing money is used for the poor, for building chapels and temples, perhaps for religious education. I think many would be surprised to learn that it can be used for strictly financial enterprises like those run by DMC, the Church’s for profit umbrella. I suppose this is where building up the Kingdom of God on Earth is mentioned and the fine line between spiritual and temporal prosperity is blurred. But the question begs to be asked: does the Kingdom of God really need a billion dollar shopping mall, hunting preserves and a new hotel in Maui? As a couple of my Facebook friends have pointed out, wouldn’t the subjects in the Kingdom of God (on Earth) be better served if the Church built and supported medical clinics and homeless shelters? Sadly, the duty of Church leaders to make appropriate use of members’ contributions is blurred when those leaders convince the members that virtually anything they deem appropriate, in an environment of no real accountability, is, therefore appropriate, simply because the leader said so. Trust and faith in what will be done to build the Kingdom of God is mandatory; there is no oversight committee among the average LDS membership.
Certainly, using Church treasury money benefits those who work directly for the businesses; these people and their families are likely to be active members of the Church. This money is also used to pay salaries of upper echelon LDS leaders. (Note: some lay members of the LDS Church don’t realize that LDS general authorities are indeed paid a salary. This is most likely due to the leaders’ constant emphasis that “We have a lay clergy.” And while this is certainly true at the lower levels, from hard-working bishops to stake presidents, it is not true when referencing the first presidency, the twelve apostles and the two quorums of the Seventies—over 100 men. According to insiders who work at the Church office building—these men are all paid six figure salaries).
Non-profit organizations are required to return at least 5% of their gross receipts to charity. In the Church’s case, some of that 5% requirement is returned to the local wards, to provide financial relief for members of that particular ward. But according to several former LDS ward clerks who have posted their experiences on websites for former Mormons, most wards raise anywhere from $250,000 to $500,00 per year, yet it was quite common for these same wards to receive back as little as 1% of the amount they donated to Church headquarters in Salt Lake.
The LDS Church is not required, nor does it voluntarily disclose, how its income from member donations is spent. Unfortunately, unlike the relationship between a professional and his client, Mormon leaders, both business and ecclesiastical, act as if they have no legally recognized fiduciary duty toward their flock. In this writer’s opinion, that matter of law should be clarified and changed. If it were, organized religion would no longer be a license to steal and Mormons would have a greater voice in the determination of how their hard-earned donations are spent. If it were, the bright line test might replace the fine line equivocal excuse.
Friday, June 1, 2012
This latter-day saint then writes that: “Few people outside the Church have any appreciation of the level of hostility that is leveled at the Church.” Among the extensive list of crimes in the text message is the notation: “19 November, 2008, South Park creators announce “Mormon Musical,” which ridicules latter-day saints.” Morrows spam list, is an attempt to include legitimate literary and artistic criticism with crimes against Mormons. It is an excellent example of the logical fallacy known as hasty generalization. Morrow implies that all the activities he lists must be criminal, hateful or despicable. His error is in his premise, and his implied conclusion is without sufficient foundational evidence. To equate legitimate statements, articles, blogs, publications, and even Broadway musical parodies, with criminal activity is simply sloppy thinking. Such a broad, over-reaching, inclusive grouping of activities, done without considering all of the variables attendant to each incident, induces the conclusion that all statements against Mormons are criminal. Morrow has failed to make critical distinctions among the activities he enumerates. His analysis is patently absurd.
Morrow correctly claims that vandalism and violence are criminal; however, he then mistakenly lumps the broad and subjective term 'persecution,' together with the crimes. What the society for the Prevention of Anti-Mormonism might not appreciate is that the actions or speech they term 'persecution,' are not necessarily criminal; indeed, what is characterized as “anti-Mormon,” when limited to statements, publications or even Broadway musicals, is usually the mere exercise of a constitutionally protected right to freedom of speech. Those who exercise this first amendment right, which includes theatre, dance, song and all other forms of expression, and yes, graffiti (the crime is not in the content, but in the trespass to property) are not criminals, but critics. Critical thinking is never a crime—it is a requirement for the improvement of society; otherwise we stagnate in the status quo.
Even the substance of graffiti is not illegal; it is the trespass and damage to property that is the crime, not the content of the words written on the side of the chapel. He lists a case where a Book of Mormon was burned on the doorsteps of a chapel. Again, the right to burn a Book of Mormon is absolutely within the parameters of free speech. It is only where the burning was done (on LDS real estate) that made it criminal. Merely criticizing Mormonism, without more, is not a hate crime. As enlightened minds can appreciate (but those who remain in the dark will never acknowledge) those who speak truth to power are voices of clarity and reason to those who have ears to hear.
Criticizing Mormonism is no different than criticizing Nazism, communism, ethnocentrism, elitism, pessimism, or any other sort of “ism.” Those who were influenced by Hitler, claimed Christianity as their guidepost, believing they were in the right, contemporaneously with the horrible atrocities committed by Nazis. Now, in the 21st-century, most have rejected Hitler's belief system.
Communism too, has lost its adherents and its appeal. In the Cold War Era of my youth, the U.S.S.R. , East Germany and the political framework of most eastern European countries were communist—but the wall fell and freedom is now more widespread. The exceptions, those countries that remain under communist rule, can be listed on one hand: North Korea, Laos, Vietnam, China and Cuba. Was communism good or bad? Depends on who you ask. It was useful for those in power in the 20th century. However, the recent history of global political science has shown that more enlightened minds prevailed and now communism is on its deathbed.
Mormonism will also die. Like the political system that supported the Berlin wall that fell, Mormonism is being exposed for its corruption and will also deconstruct. It is corrupt to its core-- its misrepresentation of its own history, its calculated and manipulative theology, its racism, sexism and active homophobia--all these negative belief systems are being exposed by truth-seekers of the information age. Mormonism will implode. It is just a matter of time.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
I read an essay yesterday that made me cry. “Losing my Religion for Equality,” was published on July 15, 2009 in the National Review. The fact of its publication received little press. An opinion piece about the article appeared in the UK Observer and a reference to the Observer's reporting was mentioned by CBS. But no significant mainstream U.S. coverage was afforded this historically important declaration of personal choice and integrity. The man who wrote the article was familiar to me; his worn, but still handsome face is well-known by admirers worldwide.
Jimmy Carter, President of the United States from 1977 to 1981, had been a deacon and a bible instructor in his Church. This globally-respected, Nobel Peace Prize recipient, broke tradition and what had been until then, a very personal commitment, by renouncing his boyhood religion. At the age of 84, President Carter formally disassociated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Baptist teachings have always been and remain at odds with Carter's personal philosophy—that women are men's equal. Carter, together with a group of like-minded Elders, proclaimed: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."
Carter is not alone in this effort. He describes those behind the goal as a group of elders, global leaders, religious and political, brought together by Nelson Mandela, who advocate human rights, including the right of half the world to equal treatment under the law, whether religious or secular. Carter's essay explains that he severed his affiliation with the Southern Baptist Convention because it refused to ordain women to the ministry and because it continued to teach that, per Eve's original sin, wives should be subservient to their husbands. With the following statement, President Carter articulately identifies specific acts of female oppression, endemic throughout world history.
"At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities."
Carter goes on to clarify how this pretextual oppression, done in the name of the Almighty, has had a centuries-long global influence over both the civil and criminal laws of all nations. "Male religious leaders have an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world."
I wanted to refresh my recollection about the important contributions that President Carter had made to this country. I looked him up on Wikipedia. I found nothing about his 2009 decision to leave the Baptist Church. Although there are several paragraphs on his Wikipedia biography under 'Faith Family and Community,' no mention is made of Carter's decision to abandon his faith in 2009.
Last year approximately 1,100 pieces of GOP-sponsored legislation proscribing women's rights were introduced in various state legislatures and in the federal congressional houses. Legislation sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt of Ohio, proposed a mandatory, intrusive, vaginal ultrasound probe as a precondition to abortion. Other proposed legislation aimed to further circumscribe a woman's right to privacy as set forth under Roe v. Wade and/or her access to contraception. The following site details the massive amount of legislation that passed in 2011 as it relates to women's rights. http://www.politicususa.com/the-dirty-thirty-march-2012-edition/ The sheer number of bills introduced on these key constitutional issues is staggering, especially when compared to prior years.
Pundit Rush Limbaugh made horrible comments about law student Sandra Fluke’s thwarted attempts to testify in Congress against the Blunt Amendment. Dozens of advertisers pulled their ads from Limbaugh's radio show. However, KTTH 770 AM Seattle, Washington, owned by the LDS Bonneville International Corporation, supported and even endorsed Limbaugh's right to free speech about the matter. Notice to Rush Limbaugh: calling Sandra Fluke a 'slut,' is libel per se.
Thank you, President Carter, for your brave and timely decision standing up for women's rights. We love you. Now I need to learn how to edit Wikipedia.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
She said “[W]omen stand out in history for three reasons: 1) being the mother of a famous person, 2) being the wife of an important person and 3) race.”
Apparently the professor went on to give examples of her premise, naming Lucy Mack Smith, Joseph Smith’s mother who staunchly defending her son and his religion. She then named Emma Smith (no mention of her maiden name—Hale) Joseph’s first wife. Black noted that Joseph called her “smart.” Her reputation was as a literate woman and that she even led parades in Nauvoo. She also noted that Emma was also the only woman to have a section in the Doctrine and Covenants specifically for her. D&C §132 reads that she [Emma] shall “be destroyed,” if she will not accept “celestial marriage.”
Then, incredibly, under the vague category of “race,” Sarah Manning, a black woman who lived with the Smiths, is mentioned. Though this part was not addressed by Professor Black, after a lifetime of service in the Smith household, Manning was sealed to Joseph Smith in the LDS Temple in 1894 by proxy as his servant for eternity!
The absolute misogyny inherent in this message is enough to make any enlightened person ill. These examples validate women based only on their gender or race, whether as mother, wife or black servant. Any importance in their lives has been solely derivative; it is only due to their relationship to the founding prophet of Mormonism.
What a transparent slap in the face to the hundreds of thousands of LDS women, especially the polygamist wives of the 19th century. No mention is made of the outspoken Ann Eliza Webb Young, who, with her attorneys helped to establish divorce rights for these abused women, and who testified in the U.S Congress against the horrendous nature of Mormon polygamy. Fanny Stenhouse's autobiography Tell it All, reveals that she was more intelligent and a better writer than any of the male Mormon leaders of her time. Nothing is said of Eliza Snow’s poems or songs, of Mormon Emeline Blanche Woodward Well’s feminist arguments in favor of a woman's individuality instead of being relegated to the status of a pet or a toy for men. And nothing, of course, about contemporary LDS women writers and scholars, most of whom have been excommunicated for their insights and exposure of this patriarchal nonsense.
I have never heard a more demeaning speech given by a woman concerning her own gender. The young LDS women in the audience must be so disheartened, for according to this speech, they have no true role model. None of these women were appreciated for any individual effort, their remembrance in Mormon history is a matter of happenstance, who they knew, married, or birthed. What a travesty!