BREAKING: Groups ask Trump administration to investigate LDS Church
Mormon Church-owned Deseret News covers our letter filing:
SALT LAKE CITY — A lobbyist group for nontheists and a gay rights organization have requested an investigation by the U.S. State and Justice departments into the way LDS Church missionaries obtained some visas. But those close to the congressional process called any impropriety far-fetched.
Leaders of the Secular Coalition of America and Rights Equal Rights hand-delivered a request-for-investigation letter this week to the offices of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
The letter alleges favors may have been procured from a foreign government by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Elder Ralph Hardy Jr., an attorney who then served as an Area Seventy for the church and has been a church lobbyist, and former Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Oregon. Specifically, the letter raises questions about why an ambassador to the United States from India said he would help the church secure 200 visas for LDS missionaries to his country.
The letter was signed by Larry Decker, executive director of the Secular Coalition of America, and Fred Karger, president of Rights Equal Rights.
“I thought it was important for us to put our name to a letter that would look a little bit more closely at what the LDS Church was doing,” Decker said. “We’re not in the business of attacking religions,” he said. “There are a lot of people who would say that this is an attack on the church. It’s not an attack on people’s faith. It’s wanting to make sure we’re getting to the bottom and making sure money’s being spent appropriately and legally in this country.”