MormonLeaks, a website dedicated to disclosing the secrets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), has been hit with a legal takedown request following the publication of three internal documents earlier this week (28 February).
Only a day after publication the litigation warning was received by both MormonLeaks and its third-party hosting service, called DocDroid, which later took down the offending document. The leak reportedly centred on internal training on how to properly address threats to the church.
"MormonLeaks is committed to making this and all other documents we receive available to the public," the group said in response. "We are currently working with our attorneys to find a solution that will allow us to make this document available again."
The request was signed by LDS's manager of the intellectual property office, Barry Taggart. "Please act expeditiously to remove or disable access to this item," the letter requested.
The website gained notoriety in October last year after its founder Ryan McKnight, a Las Vegas-based former member of the church, released a series of 15 YouTube videos showing meetings of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the second-highest governing body in the church.
The footage included conversations about Chelsea Manning's sexuality, members making jokes about gambling in Las Vegas and 9/11 alongside various meetings about politics, sexuality and other religions. At the time, the videos showed an unprecedented look behind the scenes.
In response to the takedown demand, McKnight said: "We received a claim from the church that we were violating copyright. We did not take down the document, the third-party website that we use took it down. I assume that's because they received the takedown notice at the same time we did.
"We don't want this incident to set precedent. We are in the process of setting up our own server so that we can host documents in the future hopefully without interruption."
MormonLeaks initially launched under the name MormonWikiLeaks, which quickly drew the ire of Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks. In an interview with IBTimes UK last year, McKnight said his goal was to promote transparency in the LDS church.
"We believe that the church has an ethical responsibility to provide transparency to their stakeholders (tithe payers) and they fall short of that," he said. "We are not encouraging specific leaks and we are not promoting the idea that employees should break non-disclosure agreements.
"Rather, if a person finds themselves in a position where they are think of doing such a thing because their conscience tell them that what they have should be made known to the public, then we are here to help them navigate through the process and help maintain their anonymity."
Previously, McKnight said he hoped the project "tips the scale" for those questioning their belief of the Mormon religion, once they discover its inner workings. He claimed that from his own experience, the church was run "very much like a business".