The leader of the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has been summoned to appear before a UK magistrate on fraud charges relating to seven crucial tenets of the LDS faith.
LDS Church president Thomas Monson allegedly made misleading representations of the Mormon faith to two British men - Stephen Bloor and Christopher Ralph - to induce them to pay annual tithe money to the church, according to complaints made by ex-Mormon Thomas Phillips.
According to the Arizona Republic, Phillips alleged that the Mormon Church in the UK has received $257m (£157.5m, €190m) in member donations since 2007, and that these donations were "mandatory" for good standing in the church.
District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe ordered Monson to appear before Westminster Magistrates' Court on 14 March to answer the charges. If Monson, who is based in Utah, does not show up a warrant will be issued for his arrest.
LDS Church spokesman Eric Hawkins told the Arizona Republic: "The Church occasionally receives documents like this that seek to draw attention to an individual's personal grievances or to embarrass Church leaders. These bizarre allegations fit into that category."
Book of Abraham translated from Egyptian papyrus scrolls
The statements that Phillips is contesting are all core tenets of the Mormon faith, such as the claim that the Book of Abraham is a literal translation of Egyptian papyrus scrolls by the faith's founder, the prophet Joseph Smith.
Smith is said to have purchased four Egyptian mummies and accompanying papyri on behalf of the Church in 1835 and translated the writings, which were purportedly written by Abraham and Joseph.
The complaint also challenges the origins of the Book of Mormon, particularly the statement that the book was translated by Smith from ancient gold plates, and in particular, that the Book of Mormon "is the most correct book on earth and is an ancient historical record".
Native Americans descended from Israelites
Other objections raised in the court documents point to the claim by Monson that Native Americans were descended from an Israelite family which left Jerusalem in 600 BC, as well as a claim that all humans alive today are descended from "just two people (Adam and Eve) who lived approximately 6,000 years ago".
Phillips, who lives in Portugal, formerly served as a stake president (responsible for a group of congregations), area controller and financial director for the LDS Church's UK corporate entities, as well as other positions within the church between 1969 and 2002.
He is now the managing editor of MormonThink, an online publication that criticises LDS history and doctrine.
The LDS Church is based in Salt Lake City, Utah and according to the church, has 80,000 missionaries worldwide and a membership base of over 15 million.
There are also independent Mormon groups and some fundamentalist Mormon groups, such as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS Church) and the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), which supports the principle of "plural marriage", ie, polygamy.
There have been two hugely successful productions related to Mormonism and the different sects of the religion, namely the Broadway/West End musical Book of Mormon by the creators of South Park and the HBO TV series Big Love.