Nonduality church in court: SMITH v. FIRST PRINCIPLE CHURCH

First Principle Church, also known as the Society of Abidance in Truth, is a Hindu-based religious organization grounded in the Advaita Vedanta tradition (the teaching of non-duality). Smith and his brother, Jeffrey Smith, founded the Church in the 1970’s in San Bruno, California. About that time, Jeffrey Smith changed his name to I. M. Nome.

Nome was the Church’s head minister. Smith was also a minister of the Church. It does not appear that there have been any other ministers in the over 30 years that the Church has been in existence. Church members referred to Nome as “Reverend Nome,” “Master Nome” (which indicated that he had achieved spiritual perfection), “Bhagavan” (which means “one who is God”), and “Guru” (which means supreme authority; a spiritual light or leader). They referred to both ministers as “sages.”

Summary statement

…there was substantial evidence that supported the trial court’s conclusion that Smith’s salary forgiveness, Parents’ loan, Smith’s purchase of the Rodeo Gulch property, and Parents’ donations did not supply consideration for the promise of a pension.

Read the legal case here.

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