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LDS Church Condemns Tim Ballard for Operation Underground Railroad and ‘Sound of Freedom’

The Utah-based faith says the anti-trafficking activist, who may seek Mitt Romney’s Senate seat, “betrayed” his friendship with a senior apostle.

(Saul Martinez | The New York Times) Tim Ballard, founder of Operation Underground Railroad, speaks at the Turning Point Action conference, in West Palm Beach, Florida, in July 2023. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has condemned his actions.

Tim Ballard, the former head of the anti-trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad, has been condemned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for “morally unacceptable” behaviour, saying M. Russell Ballardthe acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the faith, was a central figure in support of OUR and Tim’s private business endeavors.

The strongly worded public rebuke, rare for the church, came as Tim Ballard is said to be preparing a run for Utah’s open U.S. Senate seat next year.

VICE first reported Tim Ballard, who is not related to the 94-year-old church leader, said the two were close associates and even partners in for-profit business ventures that would help him monetize his status as celebrity he had earned through his exploits in rescuing victims of human trafficking. .

Critics say their rescue missions are often highly fictitious or exaggerated

These details come from hundreds of documents about a now closed criminal investigation into OUR by the Davis County Attorney’s Office and the FBI. County Attorney Troy Rawlings did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

A Utah-based statement of faith, confirmed by The Salt Lake Tribune, said the church’s senior apostle and Tim Ballard, who is a Latter-day Saint, became friends several years ago. but that they have not been in contact for several months.

“Once it became clear that Tim Ballard had betrayed his friendship, through the unauthorized use of President Ballard’s name for Tim Ballard’s personal advantage and activity deemed morally unacceptable, President Ballard withdrew the your association,” according to the statement. “President Ballard never authorized his name, or the name of the church, to be used for Tim’s personal or financial interests.”

(Chris Samuels | The Salt Lake Tribune) M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is shown in 2021. Faith says Tim Ballard “betrayed” the his friendship with the apostle.

According to the VICE article, Tim Ballard allegedly told associates that M. Russell Ballard personally urged him to leave his job at Homeland Security to found OUR, and the two stayed in close contact during an overseas operation which the group launched based on information obtained by a psychic. .

Tim Ballard is preparing to run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Mitt Romney. the senator announced earlier this week he would not seek a second term in 2024.

Tim Ballard’s prominence rose after the success of “Sound of Freedom“, the fictional cinematic biography which became a blockbuster over the summer.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who was previously considered a candidate to replace Romney, said on social media that he would not run for the U.S. Senate and would instead support “a dear friend” in the race. Reyes and Tim Ballard have a close relationship. Reyes appears as an associate producer on “Sound of Freedom.”

The controversy with the church is just the latest on Tim Ballard and his anti-trafficking efforts. Earlier this summer, he quietly stepped down as head of OUR after several employees filed complaints against him. He too resigned as CEO of the Glenn Beck-backed Nazarene Fund organization in July.


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