by Kimberly Winston | “Issues and Ideas Leading People Away from the Gospel.” Graphic courtesy of MormonLeaks
There’s WikiLeaks and VatiLeaks. And now there’s MormonLeaks.
MormonLeaks — a group of former Mormons who leak documents related to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — is engaged in a legal tussle with the church over its latest batch of published data.
This is the first time the church, based in Salt Lake City, has officially taken notice of MormonLeaks, which has published 66 internal church documents since the group’s founding in December.
At issue is a church-produced PowerPoint presentation that shows people, organizations and issues the church believes is luring people away. Each is presented in a bubble, organized from the far left to the far right across the image.
Among those on the list is Ordain Women, a group that seeks church priesthood for women, currently reserved only for men; John Dehlin, founder of Mormon Stories podcast, which has been very critical of the church; blogger Denver Snuffer, who was excommunicated from the church for apostasy; and others.
The chart also lists “Incredulity over Church history” — a reference to skepticism about the historicity of events recounted in the Book of Mormon — pornography and secularism as issues pulling people out of the church.
The PowerPoint slide has roiled the Mormon blogosphere and has come to be called “an enemies list” by many inside and outside the church.
Lawyers for the church, which claims some 15 million members worldwide, asked MormonLeaks to take down the documents, claiming they are copyrighted and not authorized for publication. MormonLeaks’ lawyer has countered that claim by saying the documents were obtained legally and that it has a “right to distribute it in its capacity as a journalistic resource.”
MormonLeaks was founded by Ryan McKnight, a Mormon activist with a history of leaking church information. Most of its leaked documents deal with church finances. A 2012 Reuters investigation estimated member tithes alone bring the church $7 billion a year.
Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She covers atheism and freethought for Religion News Service.