Two ex-Mormons, Ryan McKnight and Ethan Dodge, have unveiled a new website, FaithLeaks, aimed at bringing transparency to the workings of religious congregations and denominations by publishing documents and data that will expose the inner workings of churches and other religious bodies.
Fashioned after WikiLeaks, the founders hope to entice others to submit documents that shed light on three main areas: congregational finances, church policies and procedures and documents related to sex abuse settlements.
“Our goal is to reduce the amount of deception and untruths and unethical behaviors that exist in some facets of religion,” said McKnight, an accountant who lives in Las Vegas. “If someone is in possession of documents they feel deserve to be made public, we’re simply here to help facilitate that.”
Already, the website has released a document implicating a branch of Jehovah’s witness over a 1999 sex scandal in which the church leader was accused of molesting his two daughters. He was disfellowshipped, but reinstated a year later.
McKnight, who left the Mormon church in 2014 and now identifies as an atheist, said church finances are one area where he hopes to see greater sunlight.
“If they don’t ever publish their financials, then who holds them accountable?” he asked. “You’re giving your money and hoping for the best. We find that to be not only a position of inequity for the donor and an unethical position to be in because there’s nobody providing any checks and balances.”
The founders have revealed that the site uses a software platform designed to receive documents from anonymous sources, meaning those documents cannot be traced back to the sender,
The non-profit organization overseeing both the Mormon and overall leak sites is called the Truth and Transparency Foundation, and donations to that group help keep both sites going.