‘Mormon Land’: All about the tithing lawsuit facing the church — Where it stands? What’s at issue? Will it succeed?

Then-President Gordon B. Hinckley’s General Conference remarks may be at the heart of the dispute, but James Huntsman’s fraud case still faces many hurdles.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Administration Building is shown in Salt Lake City in 2021. James Huntsman's lawsuit against his former faith has been given new life by a federal appeals court.

A multimillion-dollar fraud lawsuit against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appeared dead and buried nearly two years ago after a federal judge threw out the case.

But a divided appeals court revived part of James Huntsman’s suit this month, flatly stating that “a reasonable juror” could conclude that the faith’s top leaders, including then-President Gordon B. Hinckley, misrepresented how they spent $1.4 billion in church funds to build the for-profit City Creek Center mall in downtown Salt Lake City.

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) James Huntsman, shown in May 2023, alleges that Latter-day Saint leaders misled him on how tithing funds were spent.

Did the money come from members’ tithing — intended for church and charitable operations — as alleged? Or did it come from the faith’s commercial enterprises and “earnings” of invested reserves — as the church has maintained? Or are those arguments, in the end, “distinctions without a difference.”

(The Salt Lake Tribune) Church President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at General Conference in April 2003 about how the faith funded construction of City Creek Center.

Where does the case go from here? What are its chances? What’s at stake for the global faith of 17 million members? And how does it fit into the ballooning media attention on the church’s wealth?

Salt Lake Tribune reporter Tony Semerad — who has reported on this lawsuit since it was first filed, along with a multitude of other stories about the church’s finances — answers those questions and more on this week’s show.

Listen here:

Editor’s note James Huntsman is a brother of Paul Huntsman, chairman of the nonprofit Salt Lake Tribune’s board of directors.