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Religious Organizations Face Consequences for Alleged Financial Crimes

November 28th, 2023

Two religious organizations in the U.S. are facing large fines for alleged financial crimes linked to tuition and tithing.

While religious organizations in the United States enjoy many financial freedoms and exceptions, these organizations still run the risk of serious consequences if they operate in an unlawful manner. This was made clear after two religious organizations in the United States were accused of financial crimes. 

Christian University Accused of Financial Crimes over Tuition

Tuition is a major concern for students today, as costs have been steadily rising for many decades. For those who wish to attend Christian universities, tuition costs are often a major factor as they decide on the best overall choice. This is one of the many reasons so much controversy surrounded Grand Canyon University, which was accused of financial deception in October of 2023. The Christian university, which is the largest of its kind in the nation, allegedly misled students about its graduate programs. 

These alleged financial crimes could result in a fine that would exceed any other ever issued by the Education Department. The sum could be as much as $37.7 million. So, what exactly did the school do wrong? According to the Education Department, it told more than 7,500 students that its doctoral programs would cost between $40,000 and $49,000. The Education Department claims that the cost of these programs was much more likely to cost up to $12,000 more than the advertised tuition. In fact, only 2% of students paid between $40,000 and $49,000, according to the investigation. 

The school has categorically denied all of these allegations of financial crimes, accusing the Biden Administration of spreading lies and deception. It also plans to defend itself legally, and it now has 20 days to file an appeal. The school also points out that in a previous court ruling, it was established that their cost disclosures were fair and legal. Finally, they claimed that the Biden administration is taking these efforts due to some kind of “agenda” – possibly implying a bias against religious schools. 

Mormon Church Faces Tithing Lawsuit

On November 1st, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reportedly faced a lawsuit over its tithing policy. For those who don’t know, tithing is considered to be a “natural and integrated” part of the Mormon faith. According to this tithing system, Mormons are required to pay a tenth of their income to the Church. Although the Church states that these payments are made based on an “honor system,” critics claim that the organization actually uses fear and problematic tactics to ensure annual tithe payments. 

One of these critics is the federal government, which sued the Church for financial crimes by misusing “hundreds of thousands” of tithe money donated by three individuals. These three individuals apparently provided tithe money that was never used for charitable purposes. Instead, it was apparently transferred to a company called Ensign Peak Advisors, which has paid out funds only twice in its history. Some say that the company is essentially an investment vehicle for the Church’s upper hierarchy and that it serves no real purpose to average Mormons who pay their annual tithes.

The Goal of the Universal Life Church’s Blog

Each month, various cases test the nature of religious rights in this country. While the basis for many religious rights is the United States Constitution, there are still countless cases that question the exact nature of these rights. The Universal Life Church’s blog is focused on documenting the most noteworthy of these cases in an objective manner that can be easily understood by readers.

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