Schizophrenic man who believes he is a prophet can donate thousands of pounds to the Mormon Church, Court of Protection rules
Emily Dugan is Social Affais Editor for The Independent, i and Independent on Sunday. She was previously a news reporter for The Independent on Sunday. Her investigations into human trafficking have twice been awarded Best Investigative Article at the Anti-Slavery Day Media Awards and her human rights journalism was shortlisted for the Gaby Rado Memorial prize at the 2012 Amnesty Media Awards. Emily is on sabbatical until March 2015
Social Affairs Correspondent
Wednesday 02 April 2014
A man with schizophrenia who believes he is a prophet should be free to donate thousands of pounds to the Mormon church, a Court of Protection judge has ruled.
The man, known only as MS, wants to donate almost £7,000 of inheritance to the Church of Latter Day Saints. The 40-year-old, whose mother strongly opposes the donation, lives in supported accommodation.
Setting out his arguments in a 14-page letter to the court, MS described his belief that he was a prophet whose religious significance was second only to the Holy Trinity. He admitted that these claims meant he had “a Mount Everest of a credibility problem”.
MS inherited almost £70,000 from his late father’s will several years ago and decided that he wanted to pay 10 per cent of that inheritance to the Church of Latter Day Saints as a tithe. Mrs S said her son’s wish to pay such large sums to the church sprung from his delusions and would mean either his family or the state would soon have to pay for his care.
An unnamed county council acting as his deputy approached the court to rule on the issue because MS and his mother’s feelings on the matter were so opposed. The local authority also pointed out that the substantial donation would mean MS would need to claim state benefits 56 weeks sooner than had he not made it.
MS is not actually a member of the Mormon church, because the church will not allow it, though he refused to tell the court why that was. The court was first asked to intervene in the case last year and examine whether MS had the capacity to make the donation and decide his own financial affairs.
In his letter to the court, MS said: “Giving a 10 per cent tithe is an Old and New Testament principle that is practised in my church… We are commanded to do it! Yes, I am not a member of my church - in this world - nevertheless, I believe it is busybodyism of a gross and outrageous sort… to deny me the sacred privilege of giving to my church as I see fit, and in accordance with my church’s understanding of tithing.”
On his own religious standing, MS said: “I claim that only the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are greater beings than I am. Parenthetically, I have never claimed to wield as much as, or almost as much power as, they - this is manifestly not so. I do however believe, by revelation and inference, that if I prove faithful, I will after Judgement Day wield as much, or almost as much power as they presently do… In making this claim, I have a Mount Everest of a credibility problem.”
In a judgement published today, District Judge Anselm Eldergill ruled that MS was free to make the donation and manage his own financial affairs. “Good reasons are required to interfere in matters of conscience and spiritual belief,” he said.
Justice Eldergill said there was a risk in the case of “pathologising religious beliefs,” adding: “The fact that a person has a grandiose belief with a religious content does not demonstrate that the whole of their religion is delusionally based and caused by mental illness... Contrary to the opinions of the psychiatrists in the case, I have taken the view that he does have capacity to litigate the proceedings before me”
A certificate from a psychiatrist who examined MS in 2006 said the man had suffered from a schizoaffective disorder since around 1991 and as a result lacked the capacity to manage his own property and affairs. The psychiatrist said: “Mr S has always lived with his mother who has been his main carer. His beliefs include that he is one position below the Holy Trinity and so has special powers to change the world. Although he has never acted upon this belief, he has given considerable amounts of money to his church disregarding his own needs. He has periods when he feels he must starve himself.”
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
- 3 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
Ball pool for adults opens in London
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A reputable organisation within the leisure i...
£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...
£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...
£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...