No full tax break for Mormon temple in England, court rules

Matthew Piper

Published: March 5, 2014 09:09AM
Updated: March 4, 2014 05:52PM
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| Courtesy The Preston Mormon Temple in Lancashire, England.

European judges have rejected the LDS Church’s human-rights complaint against the United Kingdom, The Telegraph reported Tuesday, so now the Utah-based faith will have to pay property taxes on its Preston Temple.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days Saints claims nearly 190,000 members in the U.K., where Mormon meetinghouses enjoy full exemptions from property taxes. But LDS temples, unlike meetinghouses, are open only to devout Latter-day Saints with “recommends.”

The British government ruled in 2005 that a full property tax break was not appropriate for the temple in Lancashire because it did not qualify as a “place of public religious worship,” The Telegraph reported. The France-based European Court of Human Rights has now agreed.

The temple does receive an 80 percent reduction in rates because of its use for charitable purposes, The Telegraph noted.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints respects the decision of the Strasbourg court,” said Malcom Adcock, a spokesman for the church in Britain, “and is grateful that the charitable activities of churches are recognized under U.K. and European law.”

The LDS Church, which also has a temple in London, declined additional comment Tuesday.

Salt Lake City-based church representatives also could not immediately provide an update on a summons for LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson to appear in a British court on charges of fraud brought by a former Mormon bishop, who alleges the faith’s teachings are deceptive.

A district judge in Westminster Magistrates’ Court of London previously issued a summons to Monson, considered a “prophet, seer and revelator” in Mormonism, to appear March 14.

Matthew Piper