ST. GEORGE — A new website promising to publish secret information, news leaks and other media from anonymous sources about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints launched Monday afternoon.
The site, MormonWikiLeaks, accepts secure, anonymous submissions of documents, videos and other media that may not otherwise be available for public viewing.
So far, four documents regarding LDS church policy have been released on the site’s Facebook page, which will act as a temporary aggregator for leaks until the website is upgraded.
“It’s been my experience over the last 12 months dealing with church employees that sometimes they come across some information that their conscience tells them to get out there somehow,” Ryan McKnight, the site’s founder, said.
McKnight is a former member of the church who said he resigned his membership a few years ago after coming across historical information that did not fit with the church’s official narrative.
Since there was no ready repository for the information he was receiving from church employees and others, he decided to create a resource to assist in dispersing the information. McKnight previously facilitated the October release of videos depicting internal discussions of church administrators.
Though the site bears its name, it has no relation to WikiLeaks.
“I really wouldn’t say WikiLeaks inspired us,” McKnight said. “Our developer definitely looked at what they do and what other journalists do in regards to these kinds of things, but it wasn’t like we sat down one day and said, ‘What is WikiLeaks doing and let’s see how we can copy it.’”
WikiLeaks has been criticized for failing in some of its leaks to redact the names of people who could have come into danger as a result of the leaks.
“We’re not looking to put people’s lives in danger,” McKnight said. “We’re not looking to embarrass people for the sake of embarrassing them. The things that we’re interested in are the things at the institutional level.”
Examples of information the site might publish include financial data and church policy and procedure, McKnight said.
“I think the financials will definitely help people understand how the money is spent because I do think there’s probably some misconceptions there, but I would be surprised if we were to get information of institutional or widespread noncompliance with IRS regulations or things like that.”
McKnight said he has seen evidence that the church actually goes out of its way to be in compliance with tax regulations.
“I think also of equal interest are policies and procedures because most members don’t know what the policies and procedures are of the church at the corporate level, and I think that kind of thing just shows that the church is more of a business than anything else.”
“We’ll look at anything.”
However, McKnight said he plans to be judicious in what the site leaks, having already rejected two separate offers of tithe payment records of two famous Mormons.
Additionally, he said, MormonWikiLeaks does not aim to expose the mishaps or mistakes of low-level employees or average church members.
“The only times I could see names being exposed would be people in positions of executive authority and the first presidency and the quorum of the 12 apostles because those people have the fiduciary responsibility to do right by their members,” McKnight said.
“We’re not asking for any specific types of documents,” he added. “We don’t want to overtly encourage people to break nondisclosure agreements or break the law in some cases. We’re just simply here for people that feel like on their own they’ve come to the conclusion they need to do something, we are here to offer them our assistance.”
The LDS church had no comment on the website when reached by St. George News.
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