The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has issued a statement distancing itself from Tim Ballard, the founder of Operation Underground Railroad (OUR), a nonprofit organization that claims to rescue children from sex trafficking. Ballard is also the inspiration behind the movie ‘Sound of Freedom’, which stars Jim Caviezel as Ballard and depicts his undercover missions to save children from exploitation.
LDS Church Denies Any Association with Tim Ballard
The LDS Church said that it has no affiliation with Tim Ballard or his organization, and that it does not endorse or support his activities or views. The church also clarified that Tim Ballard is not related to M. Russell Ballard, the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one of the highest governing bodies of the church.
The church said that it was concerned about “the unauthorized use of President Ballard’s name for Tim Ballard’s personal advantage” and that Tim Ballard had engaged in behavior that was “regarded as morally unacceptable”. The church did not specify what that behavior was, but it said that it had removed all articles and references to Tim Ballard and OUR from its official websites and publications.
Tim Ballard Accused of Coercing Women into Sexual Acts During Missions
According to a report by Vice News, Tim Ballard has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least seven women who traveled with him on his overseas missions. The report said that Ballard invited women to act as his “wife” and coerced them into sharing a bed or showering with him, claiming that it was necessary to fool the traffickers. He also allegedly sent at least one woman a photo of himself in his underwear with fake tattoos and asked another “how far she was willing to go” to save children.
The report also said that an OUR employee who accompanied Ballard on a mission filed a sexual harassment claim against him. The claim was investigated by an independent law firm hired by OUR, but the outcome of the investigation is not known.
Tim Ballard resigned from OUR in June 2023, but he has not responded directly to the allegations. He told a group of supporters in Boston over the weekend that he did not believe that the church issued the statement against him and that he was still a faithful member of the church.
‘Sound of Freedom’ Movie Faces Backlash Over Tim Ballard’s Controversy
The movie ‘Sound of Freedom’, which was released in July 2023, has faced backlash over Tim Ballard’s controversy. The movie, which was distributed by Angel Studios, a Utah-based company with ties to the LDS Church, portrayed Ballard as a hero who risked his life to save children from sex trafficking. The movie also featured a message from Jim Caviezel, who urged the audience to join the fight against child trafficking and to buy tickets for other moviegoers to see the movie.
However, the movie has also been criticized for being a propaganda tool for QAnon, a conspiracy theory that believes that a cabal of satanic pedophiles is running the world and that former President Donald Trump is secretly fighting them. Caviezel, who is a QAnon supporter, used the press tour for the movie to spread false claims about elites abducting children to harvest their blood for a chemical compound called adrenochrome.
The movie has also been accused of exaggerating and sensationalizing Ballard’s work and of exploiting the trauma of real victims of sex trafficking. Some experts have questioned the effectiveness and ethics of Ballard’s methods and have raised concerns about the lack of transparency and accountability of his organization.
The team behind ‘Sound of Freedom’ has not commented on the new allegations against Tim Ballard or on the church’s statement.