Latest from Mormon Land: Church may have to up its ante to settle Boy Scout abuse cases

There’s a new approach to tithing; President Joe Biden is applauded.

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Church’s tab may go up in Scout cases

The church may have to shell out more than $250 million to settle sexual abuse claims from its time in the Scouting program.

The reason: The Boy Scouts of America has decided to pursue its reorganization in bankruptcy court without a $250 million payout from the Utah-based faith. The move came in the wake of a judge rejecting that settlement.

The judge said “it went too far in attempting to protect the church from abuse claims that only were loosely connected to Scouting activities,” Reuters reported. This means the church may find itself more exposed to claims from those who say they were sexually abused by troop leaders.

A lawyer representing more than 1,125 abuse victims (there are 80,000-plus overall) in the Scouts’ bankruptcy told the news agency that the church now will have to come “back to the negotiating table” to make a better offer to resolve the claims.

The church ended its centurylong ties with the Scouts in 2019 and formed its own global youth program. But the costs from that association continue.

Tithing gets a new approach

(Illustration by Christopher Cherrington | The Salt Lake Tribune)

The Christmas season just got a bit merrier for Latter-day Saint bishops.

No longer will they be trying to squeeze into the holiday crush a herd of “tithing settlement” interviews with their congregants. Instead those interviews can start as early as Sept. 1. And they now will be termed “tithing declarations.”

“This change emphasizes that the primary purpose of this interview is to provide members with an opportunity to declare their tithing faithfulness,” the church’s governing First Presidency writes, “not to ‘settle’ an account.”

And what constitutes a full tithe? That hasn’t changed. It remains 10% of a person’s income.

This week’s podcast: Reporter discusses his bombshell abuse article

(Elise Amendola | AP) Michael Rezendes of the Associated Press, is shown in 2019. His recent investigation of the handling of child sex abuse within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints drew widespread attention.

On this week’s “Mormon Land,” Pulitzer-winning reporter Michael Rezendes of “Spotlight” fame discusses his recent expose of child sex abuse in the church, including instances of document shredding and a lack of transparency on these cases.

AP story wins honor

That abuse story by investigative reporter Michael Rezendes and his colleagues earned Best of the Week honors from The Associated Press.

The package became “one of AP’s most-viewed investigative projects of the year,” the wire service noted, “with more than 500,000 page views.”

Biden applauded

President Joe Biden won praise this week from his most ardent group of Latter-day Saint supporters after he signed the Inflation Reduction Act.

The measure “creates the next generation of jobs in clean, local, renewable energy. It thus helps preserve our shared world for the next generation and generations to come while making us more energy independent and resilient to the price shocks that come with fossil fuels,” Robert Taber, national director of Latter-day Saints for Biden-Harris, wrote in a news release. It also “makes our tax system fairer, making sure that our largest corporations are paying something, that working families and single adults get their returns processed faster, and that wealthy cheats will have a harder time flouting the law of the land.”

Taber closed his release with a shot at Republicans and singled out three Latter-day Saint GOP senators.

“We are disappointed that every single Republican in Congress — including Sens. [Mike] Lee, [Mitt] Romney, and [Mike] Crapo — voted against it,” he stated. “By their fruits, we know them.”

From The Tribune

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) President Russell M. Nelson and his wife, Wendy Nelson, outside the Washington D.C. Temple on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. President Nelson rededicated the temple Sunday.

• The church hits back even harder in its second rebuke of the AP, citing “egregious errors” in the sex abuse article. The news agency is “standing by its story.”

• The church’s help line in abuse cases remains a topic of debate. Does it really safeguard victims from further harm — as the faith’s policy proclaims — or does it primarily shield the institution from future lawsuits?

• A Republican lawmaker wants to alter Utah law and require Latter-day Saint bishops and other clergy to report suspected child abuse to the state or police — even if they learn of it during a confession.

• The church’s new historian has a shared history with a past church historian and family ties to a past prophet-president.

• Church President Russell M. Nelson rededicates a renovated and resplendent Washington D.C. Temple, paying homage to an “inspired” U.S. Constitution and praying for “leaders of this great nation, past, present and future.”

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