Dec 19, 2016

Ex-Mormon creates MormonWikiLeaks website, set to launch on Monday

Cimaron Neugebauer
December 19, 2016

(KUTV) In the name of transparency, ex-Mormon Ryan McKnight hopes to "do some good" by providing an avenue for people to leak confidential information about the LDS church.

"If somebody is in possession of a document, that their conscience tells them that the public would benefit from seeing it, and they want a way to get that out, then will be there to help those people out," McKnight told KUTV 2News Friday night.

On the heels of his controversial YouTube channel, Mormon Leaks, McKnight plans to launch the MormonWikiLeaks website on Monday.

"The church will never be voluntarily transparent, they have nothing to gain from it," he said, adding that he thinks the church falls short in the transparency category.

That's where McKnight, who resigned from the church in 2014, says his website comes into play.

The purpose of the site is to promote transparency. Whatever information comes out of the process will be shared on the website-- including potentially positive details about the church, he says adding that the site isn't an anti-Mormon website, but rather a place for people to get details, good or bad about the church.

"If somebody submits legitimate documentation showing that the church is performing some surprisingly ethical activity, that's perfectly fine -- we'll publish that, he said. "The point is that people have a right to know."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declined to comment on the story.

The news was posted to a recently created Facebook and Twitter accounts known as "MormonWikiLeaks." A Facebook post stated the website will go live on Monday, Dec. 19. The site will be a location where people can anonymously submit “any information or documents related to the LDS (Mormon) church.”

The trademarked brand, MormonWikiLeaks states that it is “an organization that publishes secret information, news leaks, and other media [from anonymous sources] relevant to the Mormon Church.”

The website will not be monetized in any way and people will not be paid to provide leaked information, McKnight, of Las Vegas, said in a telephone interview. McKnight said, while the site will not ever be a for-profit venture, as long as he is in charge of it, he will accept donations that will help fund keeping the website up and running.

"We are raising money to cover the start-up costs for getting MormonWikiLeaks™ up and running - even though most of it has been donated. Any additional funds will be used for ads to help create awareness," stated a Facebook post on Sunday.

The site won't be a free-for-all for anyone to upload something false in order to use that as a way to discredit the validity of MormonWikiLeaks or for someone to post content based on fact, but overall is untrue.

"We're not interested in people submitting salacious documents that have not way of being verified," McKnight said. "People should not expect to just be able to throw out any document and it's going to get published by"

For accuracy and credibility purposes, there will be a complete vetting process of all uploaded documents. Users will need to provide a way for McKnight's team to verify the authenticity of a document.

Putting together a site like this isn't something that McKnight set out to do.

"At no point did I set out for this to be my hobby," McKnight said. "It's a role that has fallen in my lap and I've decided to embrace it because I feel like I'm in a position to do some good."

The whole thing just kind of "happened by accident" during the leak of the LDS church's policy change relating to same-sex couples last November. KUTV broke the news Nov. 5 after learning the church released an internal instructional document to worldwide leaders stating that children living in a same-sex household may not be blessed as babies or baptized.

"It was literally me being in the right place at the right time," McKnight said.

He was in a private Facebook group where he heard news of the policy change. He didn't believe it at first and took to Reddit and public Facebook pages to verify what he thought was a rumor and find any truth to the policy change. At the time, the person who leaked the news to McKnight wanted to remain anonymous. So McKnight became the name closest to the leak and he was dubbed "the leaker."

Before McKnight realized what had happened, he was getting all sorts of people contacting him from the ex-Mormon community. Even though he told people he played a small role in the leak, it didn't stop people from contacting him wanting to leak details. Since that time, McKnight has gained about 25 sources from the bottom to the top of the LDS church who contact him. These sources range from active LDS church employees who "interact regularly with the (Quorum of) The Twelve Apostles," to ex-Mormons.

"There are a lot of closet non-believers working at the church," McKnight said in a phone interview.

During his time talking with sources, he says he believes there are hundreds of non-believers working for the church full-time. He says many that he has talked to have only one thing holding them back from leaking things -- their professional career.

While talking to sources he has found the majority have chosen not to leak because of the religious ramifications, but rather the impact it could have on their livelihood, reputation or "the potential professional ramifications, if they were to get caught."

But this time people won't have to worry about issues with anonymity.

When it comes to confidentiality, McKnight said the leakers' IP address will be removed and all documents will automatically be scrubbed for watermarks before he even sees them.

In October, Ryan McKnight made international headlines after posting 15 videos of private internal meetings among the LDS church’s highest ranking leaders. The videos, discussing a variety of topics facing the church, were obtained by an anonymous source and posted on General Conference weekend by McKnight.

McKnight told The New York Times in October that unlike Wikileaks, the leak of videos recorded from inside church headquarters wasn’t a part of a hack, but rather an anonymous submission from dissatisfied ex-Mormons.

At the time of the release LDS church spokesperson Eric Hawkins said in a statement to 2News, "Most of these videos appear to be from briefings received by senior Church leaders between 2007 and 2012. In these committee meetings, presentations are routinely received from various religious, political and subject matter experts on a variety of topics. The purpose is to understand issues that may face the Church, and is in pursuit of the obligation Church leaders feel to be informed on and have open discussion about current issues. This is an informational forum, not a decision-making body."

The website has been in the works for about the past six months. They wanted to have it go live at the end of November, but ran into some delays, McKnight said.

One fan put together a meme based on the Thursday release of Star Wars Rogue One, stating that "leakers make a difference." The tweet also uses #LIGHTtheWORLD, a hashtag promoted by the LDS church for a holiday service social media campaign that invites people to follow the example of Jesus Christ and do something good every day during the 25 days of December.

The "In 25 days. Over 25 Ways." Advent Calendar offers a daily example of how Jesus Christ helped light the world with His service to others.

The tweet states, "Whether you're leaking an #LDS policy on punitively segregating #LGBT families or leaking secret plans about the Deathstar... #LightTheWorld."

McKnight said MormonWikiLeaks is in no way affiliated with, another website for confidential LDS church leaks.

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