To Soldiers of the Circles everywhere:
I send you good wishes.
This is my first public statement as a trustee of the Urantia Foundation.
With regret, I have taken legal action on behalf of the Urantia Foundation against my fellow trustees to prevent them from removing me from the board. I have taken this action as a last resort to fulfill my fiduciary responsibility as a trustee.
I applaud all of the positive achievements of Urantia Foundation in recent years. I deeply appreciate every effort of the trustees, Urantia Foundation staff, and readers all over the world who have made these achievements possible.
Unfortunately, problems have arisen which, in my view, place all this progress in peril. I hope these proceedings will resolve those problems and give readers insight and information that will help to make things right with Urantia Foundation and thereby the movement as a whole.
I wish to be clear. I have taken this action on behalf of Urantia Foundation, an institution I love and cherish, because I feel I have been prevented by my fellow trustees from carrying out my duties.
In response to extensive reader interest I have created a web site containing all court filings and other information. This site is http://www.SoldiersoftheCircles.org. I urge interested Urantia readers to read these court filings so you will know my position and that of the defendant trustees. In particular, I refer you to my affidavit filed on April 22, 2002 and the attachments. (http://www.SoldiersoftheCircles.org/affi1.htm)
In the lawsuit, I allege that the trustees have failed to comply with provisions of the Declaration of Trust (DOT) and By-Laws, have engaged in a pattern of improperly excluding dissident trustees from participation in making decisions concerning the Urantia Foundation and its subsidiary corporations, have failed to provide me access to financial records, and are seeking to remove me as a trustee to prevent me from obtaining access to information about the affairs of the Urantia Foundation.
I am not the first trustee to complain about being excluded. On December 14, 1999 Mo Siegel and Gard Jameson complained of being the victims of just such treatment and threatened legal action. (Exhibit 5, http://www.soldiersofthecircles.org/affi1.htm) I am very sad that they do not advocate the same principles when I am the trustee being excluded.
On September 1, 2001, I made a written request for access to Urantia Foundation records. (Exhibits 8 and 9) On September 5, 2001 that request was denied in a letter suggesting I go back to Korea. (Exhibit 10) On September 7, 2001 the defendant trustees held a meeting by telephone in which they voted to remove me as a trustee. (Exhibit 12)
On April 24 Judge Sophia Hall entered a finding that I have "a substantial likelihood of success on the merits" as to the procedures being used to try and remove me as a trustee. (http://www.SoldiersoftheCircles.org/hearing1.htm) This means from what she has seen in the briefs and affidavits, it appears the board has violated the procedures mandated by the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws. She also found that I have "a protectable interest" which means it was proper for me to file a suit to stay on the Board. Because of her views on the procedures, she did not have to address the issue of improper motive in trying to removing me.
Judge Hall did not see a danger of irreparable harm if I am not restored to the board for a few more weeks, so she could not by law enter a temporary restraining order (TRO). Instead she suggested we could dispose of this issue on a motion for summary judgment in the near future. She also indicated that, assuming she enters a final ruling consistent with her finding of a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, any action removing me from the board and appointing a replacement will be null and void.
What is the nature of my duty? In a previous court case (Myers v. Burns, 1995 WL 296938), Judge Ann Williams succinctly summarized the duty of a trustee:
Unlike the public at large, trustees have a duty to ensure the proper administration of their trusts, and can even be held liable for failing to prevent certain breaches. The charity's own representative has at least as much interest in preserving the charitable funds as does the Attorney General who represents the general public. The co-trustee is also in the best position to learn about breaches of trust and to bring the relevant facts to a court's attention.
I cannot perform these duties if I am excluded from participation in the Board meetings and discussions. I cannot perform these duties if I am denied access to foundation records.
I know some readers have criticized me. I forgive them. They do not know the facts. The Urantia Foundation has been in existence for five decades. Its inner workings are shrouded in secrecy for most readers. I believe even the inner circle of the Urantia Foundation's strongest supporters will be surprised at some of the facts as they become known.
I was interested to learn that the Urantia Foundation is not alone in the problems it faces, and I am not alone as a trustee in the treatment I have received. On April 30, 2002, the New York Times reported that directors of the metropolitan Washington United Way are complaining they are being denied access to records of that charitable organization. One director was ousted from the board one month "after he asked questions about possible misuse of money by the charity's management."
The New York Times reported that trustees were denied access to an audit report which supposedly found only minor problems, but in fact uncovered "inadequate financial controls, unexamined executive expense accounts, and below-market-value sales of cars owned by the charity" to the families of current and former staff members.
What about the Urantia Foundation? The trustees proclaim in their court filings that the financial records are audited on a yearly basis, implying that my concerns are groundless. Yet the Attorney General in a court filing on April 23, 2002 reported that the audit for the year 2000 is still not done.
I pray that the type of mismanagement reported by the New York Times regarding the metropolitan Washington United Way will not be found at the Urantia Foundation, but as a trustee it is my duty to make inquiries. It is only through vigilance that this organization so important to us all can maintain its integrity and carry out its mission.
Readers have been treated as outsiders by trustees, and readers have acted accordingly. This is not the right way. The Urantia revelation is given to all the people of Urantia. It is not owned by five trustees. Forum members and the Seventy were an integral part of the Fifth Epochal Revelation. In numerous places in The Urantia Book you can see that paragraphs were written and revised in response to specific questions Forum members asked. Forum members contributed the fund for the first printing of The Urantia Book. Readers as a whole are joint custodians of the Urantia Revelation.
The Urantia Foundation is not being run as it was in the beginning. The original trustees understood their role and function and did their best to act accordingly. For over 30 years, they worked cooperatively with the Urantia Brotherhood. Unfortunately, through a long series of errors (especially after the death of the last Contact Commissioner) problems and conflicts escalated even to the point of confusion about the original plan.
When a new trustee is elected, he or she signs an "Acceptance of Office" in which the new trustee "accepts said office as Trustee under said Declaration of Trust." Each trustee agrees to uphold the Declaration of Trust (DOT). The Contact Commissioners, especially Dr. William Sadler and William Sadler, Jr., with the help of their attorneys, were responsible for the drafting of the DOT and By-laws. The first Trustees, three of whom were Contact Commissioners, then executed the Bylaws of the foundation a mere 31 days later as a clear expression of their intent.
It is widely believed that the DOT was approved by superhuman Revelators and both the DOT and By-Laws were approved by the superhuman government of Urantia. The last communication from the personal regent of the Planetary Prince of Urantia was made on August 21, 1952. These same communications approved the plan for the Urantia Brotherhood.
The DOT makes no provision for being revised. However, the By-laws can be amended by the unanimous decision of trustees. The requirement of unanimity helps assure that the original intent of the Revelators is respected. This is one area of particular and urgent concern. I believe that if I am removed, changes will be made to the Declaration of Trust and By-Laws that will fundamentally alter the plan approved by the Revelators.
The violations of the DOT and By-Laws I allege are not isolated events or random lapses, neither are they minor procedural problems. I believe they threaten the trust estate and the existence of the very organization that was approved by the Revelatory Commission.
My commitment to the mission and purpose of the Urantia Foundation and my fiduciary duty as Trustee dictate that I take this action. I see no other way to assure that Urantia Foundation lives up to its trust. The Foundation needs trustees who will follow the rules and manage the trust in accordance with the teachings of Jesus as found in the primary asset of the trust estate-The Urantia Book itself.
We need trustees who are dedicated to the true purpose of Urantia Foundation and who are willing to use the correct means to fulfill that purpose as specified in the DOT and By-laws. Already, the Urantia Foundation has lost the copyright to The Urantia Book, something which my pleadings assert would not have happened had the trustees accepted the settlement proposal I brought back to them. Instead they authorized expenditures in excess of $1 million for legal fees and lost the copyright. We can only pray that the trial court's decision will be reversed or the parties to that litigation may yet find it in their hearts to reach an accommodation.
The Board should focus on the original plan for the Urantia movement in which Urantia Foundation is a benign supportive publisher of the Book, working cooperatively with readers, addressing their concerns, and helping them fulfill their long cherished desire to disseminate the teachings of The Urantia Book. This plan includes an independent, unified readership organization along the lines of the original Urantia Brotherhood. I know some readers believe that original plan was faulty, but I believe our problems have developed because we have not followed the original plan. It is still not too late to do so.
Once the original plan is restored and a united reader organization is returned to its original place in the Urantia movement, the symptoms of dissension will disappear. The trustees should be the standard bearers for the teachings of Jesus as restated in the Book.
Throughout the world there are thousands of readers and over
one-half million copies of the Book have been disseminated. Can we not among
this population find five trustees who can work together in harmony and carry
out their duties as prescribed by the Revelators?
The inviolate text that we are commissioned to preserve by the DOT cannot be effectively protected just by litigation. It must be protected, like moral standards, voluntarily. As I see it, a copyright is temporary scaffolding that may eventually be dismantled because current law does not grant copyright in perpetuity. Thus, spiritually mature readers need to voluntarily protect the text and hold it in trust for future generations. That, I think, was the original purpose of the copyright and it may be desirable to extend the copyright protection. However, the preservation of the text for all future generations must be accomplished through genuine cooperation, not coercion. My own interest in preserving the copyright is to maintain the integrity of the original text as given to us by the Revelators.
It is my hope that new leaders who emerge in the Urantia movement will continue to devote their lives to the teachings of Jesus and will insist that the Trustees carry out their fiduciary duty in accordance with the DOT and the very teachings they are obligated to protect and disseminate.
This is now a call to action to leaders who support these goals for a new era of the Urantia movement.
During an epochal sermon in the Capernaum synagogue Jesus said, "truth never suffers from honest examination." (p. 1711) All I am asking of you is to support honest examination. "Man shall know the truth, and the truth shall set him free." (p. 1112)
Please read my affidavit filed on April 22, 2002 and the affidavits filed in response including those by the Attorney General. Let the truth freely compete, and it shall prevail. This is the intent of our unseen friends.
Honest examination is time consuming and costly. I ask for your help and support in spirit and financially.
I have received a short but intensive education in my five years as a trustee of Urantia Foundation. I am now engaged in a lawsuit against four other trustees. These trustees are wealthy men. I am a college professor. My modest income cannot long sustain the many tens of thousands of dollars this type of litigation requires. I have been grateful for the contributions received already, ranging from a few dollars to several thousand dollars.
The Revelators gave the name "Soldiers of the Circles" to the early readers of the Urantia Book who nurtured this revelation and who would give their lives and resources for it. It stands for those spiritually inspired ambassadors who will present to the world Jesus' magnificent teachings. This name meant a lot to the early readers. It means a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to you.
You can also help with information, by expressing your support in letters to the foundation office (Urantia Foundation, 533 Diversey Parkway, Chicago, IL 60614) and with your prayers.
Please send me copies of any letters you write in my support.
These letters, and any information you have concerning this case should be sent to me at:
Kwan Choi, PO Box 2380, Ames, IA 50010. firstname.lastname@example.org
I believe we need to act now so that the plans of the Revelators will be in place when the worldwide mission of The Urantia Book comes to pass. We are fortunate to have an opportunity to restore honor, dignity, unity and integrity to the Urantia movement as the time of the worldwide mission is upon us.
As fellow ascender, I love each individual trustee, as Jesus commands us. I have only warm feelings toward them. The lawsuit is directed not against them but against what they have done. I will work with any leaders who by their actions join me to uphold the Urantia Foundation Declaration of Trust and By-laws.
Let us end this sad history of dissention and distrust. Let us begin a new tradition of conciliation and cooperation. For this I hold out my hand in brotherhood, and I pray that all may accept it.
E. Kwan Choi
April 30, 2002