A former Mormon sued the religion’s leaders in Utah last week in what amounts to an indictment of their system of belief.
Laura Gaddy, a North Carolina resident and former Mormon, seeks punitive damages for an alleged fraudulent scheme perpetrated for generations by the “Mormon Corporate Empire.” The 75-page complaint strikes at the heart of the religion’s doctrine, calling into question the credibility of founder Joseph Smith’s accounts of the origin of the Book of Mormon, which he published in 1830.
Mormons believe Smith collected gold plates, which were inscribed in reformed Egyptian by ancient Americans with Hebraic DNA, and translated them into the religion’s signature text. Those outside of Mormonism do not accept the Book of Mormon as inspired or authoritative.
Gaddy seeks damages for racketering, fraud, breach of fiduciary duties, and emotional distress. —S.W.
A federal appeals court upheld the dismissal of a church organist, finding the anti-discrimination protections of federal law do not apply.
A Catholic parish in Chicago hired Stanislaw Sterlinski as its director of music in 1992. In 2014, the parish priest demoted him to the job of organist and then fired him in 2015. Stanislaw claimed he was fired due to his Polish heritage. He argued Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protected him since the ministerial exception, which allows churches to discriminate in the hiring and firing of ministers, did not apply after his demotion to organist.
The 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ opinion accepted the church’s argument that Stanislaw remained a minister, and thus subject to the exception, due to the importance of music in the life of the church. “If the Roman Catholic Church believes that organ music is vital to its religious services, and that to advance its faith it needs the ability to select organists, who are we judges to disagree?” asked the court. —S.W.