Robert Kirby: Sue my church over its truth claims? That would be like suing myself.

Robert Kirby

North Carolina resident Laura A. Gaddy recently sued The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, asserting it had misrepresented its history and “lied about material facts concerning the creation of key scripture.”

Federal Judge Robert Shelby dismissed the suit because, while churches can certainly be held accountable for fraud, the First Amendment bars courts from considering the veracity of any church’s religious claims.

I’ve been a Latter-day Saint my entire life.


Sorry. Using the word “saint” in reference to myself (or even most people I know) stretches the limits of credulity.

Anyway, I never once considered the possibility of suing the church I attend. Not because it would be like suing God but rather because it would be way too much like suing myself.

It’s not like I haven’t challenged lots of doctrine and scripture. It’s just that suing my church over its teachings would be akin to suing my parents because occasionally they referenced Santa Claus as a way of getting me to behave. Come to think of it, if I’m going to sue my church, shouldn’t I also sue my parents? They’re the ones who made me attend.

Still, it would be interesting if Gaddy, who apparently was a believing Mormon at one point, had succeeded. Just imagine the groundwork she would have laid for suing every religion on the planet.

Hey, if we’re going to sue Mormons for misrepresenting their history and propagating untruths about the creation of key scripture, why not go whole hog?

Name a religion or faith that doesn’t have a sketchy past or wacky claims.

Let’s look at the Bible.

Those who believe a snake had anything to do with the emergence of the world, or that God actually got so mad at its inhabitants that he drowned 99.999% of them, deserves to be misled. And it would be their own fault.

What? I’m a Mormon and I don’t believe the Bible’s account of the Great Flood? Nope, I don’t. I can’t remember when I decided that for myself, but it was a long time ago. I do, however, remember not blaming the church for it.

The Book of Mormon? Do I know that people named Gidgiddoni or Mahonri Moriancumer, aka, the brother of Jared, or just plain Alma actually existed?

Nope. Wasn’t there. Didn’t see it happen. But I’m OK with it either way.

What I do know is that there is enough good in the congregation I attend, that I keep going. I don’t let picky things like screwy doctrine, historical inconsistencies, outright fairy tales, and overwrought testifying get in the way of participating in the truths I find.

I understand the vagaries of faith. I don’t blame someone else if I get fooled by what I later determine to be nonsense. It just meant that I wasn’t thinking hard enough in the first place.

Church is a lot like marriage. Once the novelty wears off, so much of the “truth” in it consists of finding personal benefit in putting someone else before yourself.

Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.