DOCTRINAL FRAUD CLAIMS

There are none. Once in a while, someone who never read the First Amendment will sue a church or denomination and claim their doctrine is false and presented only to fill offering plates or emotionally enslave.

In Gaddy v Corporation of the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Memorandum Decision and Order Granting Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss (D. Utah, 2020), Plaintiff claimed the factual and doctrinal assertions of the church were fraudulent, organized criminal activity, and caused her emotional distress requiring counseling. The federal trial court dismissed the case at the initial pleading stage invoking the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment. To avoid that conclusion, Plaintiff argued the fraud lurked in the misrepresentation of historical fact upon which doctrine or belief rested and not the doctrine or belief itself. The trial court held there was no difference.

As long as the First Amendment is read literally and generally applied as read, the freedom to believe and preach will remain unfettered. Churches should be as stalwart in protecting the free speech rights of others as their own. Churches that tacitly approve suppression of the speech of “they” will find that someday soon such churches will become “they,” too. Everybody is protected or nobody is safe.

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