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Utah billionaire leaves the Mormon church, donates $600K to LGBTQ group: 'Leadership is not honest'

'While [most members] are good people trying to do right, I believe the church is actively and currently doing harm in the world,' he said.

Utah billionaire leaves the Mormon church, donates $600K to LGBTQ group: 'Leadership is not honest'
Cover Image Source: YouTube/The Trade Desk

Billionaire Jeff T. Green, believed to be the wealthiest person to hail from Utah, this week publicly announced his resignation from the Mormon church. Citing the church's wealth and its "unhealthy paradigms around gender roles" as some of the reasons for his exit, Green—the chairman and CEO of The Trade Desk, a technology marketing company—formally requested his records to be removed from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka LDS. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the 44-year-old informed the church of his decision to make an official exit, over a decade after he last participated in the organization, in a letter to LDS president, Russell M. Nelson.



 

"Although I have deep love for many Mormons and gratitude for many things that have come into my life through Mormonism, I have not considered myself a member for many years, and I'd like to make clear to you and others that I am not a member," Green wrote in the letter. "While I left the Mormon church more than a decade ago—not believing, attending, or practicing—I have not officially requested the removal of my records, until now." He also accused the church of being opposed to a number of progressive social issues, including those affecting women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community.



 

"[Most members] are good people trying to do right, I believe the church is actively and currently doing harm in the world," Green wrote. "The church leadership is not honest about its history, its finances, and its advocacy. I believe the Mormon church has hindered global progress in women's rights, civil rights and racial equality, and LGBTQ+ rights." Along with him, 11 members of his family and a friend are also resigning from the church, Green said.



 

Green—who, in November, pledged to give away more than 90 percent of his wealth before or at his death—also wrote that he will donate $600,000 to Equality Utah, an LGBTQ+ civil rights organization, as the first major donation from his family foundation's giving arm, Dataphilanthropy. He added that "almost half of the funds will go to a new scholarship program to help LGBTQ+ students in Utah," including those who "may need or want" to leave his alma mater, Brigham Young University, which is sponsored by the church and has an honor code that forbids same-sex "romantic behavior."



 

"We made this investment sizable and publicly to send a message that Equality Utah isn't going anywhere," Green wrote. "It is my hope and that of my foundation [Dataphilanthropy] that this is the first of many contributions to Equality Utah." In a statement to NBC News, the Executive Director of Equality Utah, Troy Williams, expressed gratitude for the billionaire's generosity and support. "In Utah, we have made enormous strides forward toward LGBTQ equality," he said. "The two most important elements of our success has been the support of allies and the willingness of state and religious leaders to engage with us. We don't always agree, but great things happen when we seek common ground. Jeff's financial support will ensure that we will remain a prominent force in Utah politics for years to come."



 

In his letter, Green also criticized the church's wealth, which according to The New York Times, includes an investment fund worth $48 billion paid for with contributions by members. LDS has amassed "more than $100 billion in assets, that is all derivative of the widow's mite, which doesn't even measure the real estate and less liquid assets," he wrote. "This money comes from people, often poor, who wholeheartedly believe you represent the will of Jesus. They give, expecting the blessings of heaven." The church "should be doing more to help the world and its members with its wealth," he continued. "Instead, I think the church has exploited its members and their need for hope to build temples, build shopping malls, and cattle ranches, fund Ensign Peak Advisors investment funds, and own mortgage-backed securities, rather than alleviating human suffering in or out of the church."

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