Mormon Leaks Launches and the Salt Lake Tribune Honors Madi Barney as the Utahan of the Year

Two developments in Mormonism are worth highlighting. In December of 2016 Mormon Leaks was founded as a way to bring transparency to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Plus Brigham Young University finds itself in the national discussion of rape. Madi Barney, who is an alleged sexual assault victim challenged the university and cracked the dam of sexual assault allegations.

“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”

Rene Descartes

“I am a survivor of rape, and now BYU has put my academic future on hold due to their allegations that I broke the Honor Code in the circumstances of my assault.”

Madi Barney

And of some have compassion, making a difference

Jude 1:22 KJV

Joseph_Smith,_Jr__portrait_owned_by_Joseph_Smith_III

Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith (Wikipedia source)

Mormon Leaks on Youtube

When I was in college I almost converted to Mormonism. I have written about how I got involved and how I pushed away. While this blog writes about so many topics I do find interesting articles about Mormonism from time to time. Recently there has been a couple of developments that I believe are newsworthy. The first is the launch of website called Mormon Leaks by Ryan McKnight as well as the Salt Lake Tribune honoring Madi Barney who after allegedly being raped challenged Brigham Young University’s Honor Code when she faced investigation.

 

The Launch of Mormon Leaks

Ryan McKnight grew up as a faithful Mormon. His family was active in the LDS faith, and Ryan served a mission to Barcelona, Spain. Her later married in the Temple and has four children. In June of 2013 when he was 32 he started to have some doubts about the founder of Mormonism Joseph Smith. Ryan was bothered when he learned that Joseph Smith as a part of his polygamy married a teenage bride. The historical information he learned clashed with the narrative he was taught by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As he explained it one Hemant Mehta’s podcast it was almost like the cover up was worse than the crime. He began to experience other doubts and started to look into those as well. He was deeply troubled by how institutionalized racism was in Mormon theology and history. The issue of black race relations was profoundly disturbing.  The final issue was over the history of the Book of Mormon. Ryan began to realize that much of what he beloved was pseudo-science. By September of 2013 Ryan realized he could no longer be a Mormon. He was fearful for his marriage and went to the LDS Ward to honor his wife. But he couldn’t go into the service. While in the hallway he heard one of the members describe Joseph Smith as being a man of honor and integrity. Hearing that in light of what he learned led to an anxiety attack and he realized that he could not even attend the Ward services anymore.

As he processed his feelings he was active on sites like Reddit. It was during this time that he stumbled upon a disturbing situation. The LDS faith had changed a position on same sex households in the wake of the legalization of gay marriage. This change was made in the church handbook which is reserved for church leaders. What the church did was state that those in same sex marriages should be considered apostates. Their children, could not be blessed or baptized until they turned 18. At that time they can disavow the practice of same sex marriage and then they are eligible to join the church. This received a lot of attention as well. Ryan McKnight was involved in leaking this information, and he received a lot of attention. Eventually he was given 15 videos of internal Mormon discussions which he uploaded to a You Tube channel called Mormon Leaks. That made quite a splash which you can read about here.

However there was a new development. People started to approach Ryan and wanted to share more information about the LDS church. But they were afraid of blow back and other problems. To meet these needs Ryan had a website built that was modeled after Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks. This website would be for transparency on the Mormon Church. It launched on December 19, 2016 and is called Mormon Leaks. It has received a lot of attention in the Washington PostSalt Lake Tribune, and Fox 13. Originally it was called Mormon WikiLeaks, however WikiLeaks supposedly contacted them and asked for the name to be changed.

It will be interesting to see what is revealed in time. Of all the issues that are safe guarded and protected financial issues in Mormonism are the biggest. What is the net worth of the LDS Church? How much money does it take in and spend? What are the salaries of LDS leadership? There are guesses but the LDS Church protects its finances closely. The finances would be the biggest discovery. That said, here is a run down of other issues that will be interesting to follow.

  1. Corporate governance of LDS leadership is another issue to watch. How are decisions made in the LDS Church? What are the policies and procedures of the highest levels? What is the total LDS workforce?
  2. What do the top leadership of the LDS faith believe about Joseph Smith? Do they even believe him to be a prophet? Or do they say one thing publically and privately no longer believe?
  3. Has child sex abuse been covered up in the Mormon church? What stories of cover up or other allegations of criminal activity will come forward?
  4. Are there dark secrets in regards to LDS history that have been withheld from the church. For example information on Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy, or even the level of involvement of Brigham Young in the Mountain Meadow’s Massacre.

These are interesting times we are living in and it will be something to watch to see what we learn about the Mormon Church.

 

The Salt Lake Tribune Honors Madi Barney as the Utahan of the Year

Madi Barney studied at Brigham Young University (BYU) which is the main church school owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In September of 2015 she was invited to an office campus apartment, and when asked to go into a bedroom she was allegedly raped. She reported the assault to Provo Police, and what happened is that a deputy was a friend of the alleged rapist. He turned over the incident report over to the LDS University in an act of revenge. That triggered an Honor Code investigation. The Honor Code at BYU is a code that students sign and agree to live by. One of the commitments is to be chaste. As months went on Madi was placed under investigation for possible violations. She was very afraid, and troubled by what happened. hen she did something that is incredibly brave. At a rape awareness forum at BYU in April of 2016 she stood up and publically confronted the Title IX coordinator who overseas the university’s sexual assault allegations. Barney said that prosecuting rape was more important than enforcing rules about coffee, alcohol, dress length, curfew or chastity.  It was as if a damn broke and Brigham Young University found itself in the debate over rape right there with Stanford and Baylor University. In the weeks that followed at least 50 students approached the Salt Lake Tribune and revealed how much of a problem rape and sexual assault is an BYU.  Madi filed a formal compliant to Title IX about the school. The situation is slowly being addressed. For standing up to the University and being public about something very difficult in December 2016 the Salt Lake Tribune honored Madi as the Utahan of the year.

 

Concluding Thoughts

I am a little nervous here because when I looked into Mormonism I was a college student and young. That was 20 years ago. When I read how Ryan McKnight searched for online support after he pushed back from Mormonism that hit a nerve in me as I did the same thing. For about 10 years I was glued to ExMormon.org and I saw how other people processed their experience in Mormonism. I thought that was going to be the only time I got involved in something questionable, boy was I wrong! Here is what I think is happening in the LDS church. The internet has become a game changer. This New York Times article stands out as it reveals how the internet is changing the system. The internet cannot hide facts or information. That free flow of information is resulting in people challenging and learning for themselves.  In the course of time I believe the Mormon church is going to find hat its struggles with the same problems that the Roman Catholic and Evangelical Christian churches deal with – that of child sex abuse, domestic violence, and abuse of authority.

In Mormonism today there seems to be more of a demand for transparency that there was in the past. People are speaking up and people are challenging the status quo, which is quite brave. For example in regards to Mormonism I contemplate the Free BYU website which is challenging the university on its application of the Honor Code. Madi Barney’s situation only highlights the issues in the honor code that exist. It will be interesting to see where these situations develop and how they turn out. This blog applauds and supports Madi Barney and finds this female to be incredibly brave to stand up to Brigham Young University. This blog supports her and wishes her well. Well that is it, remember guys know that I love you!

6 thoughts on “Mormon Leaks Launches and the Salt Lake Tribune Honors Madi Barney as the Utahan of the Year

  1. Excellent post David. Also to make us aware of another site that can be informative for those we know that are Mormons. Praying for your mom,….hope all is better.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Eagle, do you remember this article about “Mormons = Southern Baptist Zombies”?

        https://baptistnews.com/article/mormons-southern-baptist-zombies/#.WHZaaX1F7IU

        Mormons out-Southern Baptist the Southern Baptists by almost any measure. Their children all serve as missionaries and their numbers are growing. Mormons generally have a reputation of being socially conservative, nice people with good family values. What’s more, many Mormon converts were previously Southern Baptist.

        Isn’t this simply a version of the basic plot of any zombie movie? They are trying to turn us into them.

        From the viewpoint of many Southern Baptists, Mormons are Southern Baptist zombies. Mormons hold the same family values as Southern Baptists. They talk about Jesus like Southern Baptists. They send out missionaries like Southern Baptists. They baptize people like Southern Baptists. But they believe the wrong things about Jesus, God and the Bible. For many members of the SBC, Mormons’ foreign/familiarity leaves them with the same creepy feeling we all get when we watch a George Romero movie.

        Mormons are beating the Southern Baptists by the SBC’s own measures of success.

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      • And remember how Mormons officially ceased to be a CULT (Franklin Graham said so!) in 2012 when Romney wiped out God’s Anointed Choice after God’s Anointed Choice in the GOP primaries to become The Great White Hope?

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  2. I’ve always liked their missionary chat at https://www.mormon.org/chat whenever I’ve had a question about their beliefs. Always super nice and willing to talk. I tend to get along with LDS folk very well. I’ve been somewhat impressed by their willingness as a church to open up investigation and inquiry into their faith’s origins. They’re not ignoring what the internet offers, so I’m curious if they’ve already started adapting. I think we’ll see more and more of these sort of open projects as people realize the sort of tools we all have available to share information nowadays.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Remember when South Park did their Mormon and Scientology episodes?

      The LDS reacted with an official statement of they don’t comment on portrayals in entertainment, and a lot of Mormons got a laugh out of it.

      Scientology invoked Fair Game Law and got Operating Thetan Tom Cruse to kill reruns of the episode until Parker & Stone called his bluff by posting the episode to YouTube and handing out free DVD copies.

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