A Web site that publishes anonymous submissions of difficult-to-obtain or private documents describes the LDS Church Handbook of Instructions a source sent it as significant because “the book is strictly confidential among the Mormon . . . bishops and stake presidents and it reveals the procedure of handling confidential matters related to tithing payment, excommunication, baptism and doctrine teaching [indoctrination].”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints doesn’t see anything particularly secretive or sinister about the handbook used as a reference by church leaders, but that doesn’t mean it wants it to remain available on Wikileaks or Web sites operated by the Wikimedia Foundation.
On Wednesday, spokesman Scott Trotter confirmed the church has sent a letter alleging copyright infringement and requesting that material be immediately removed from Web sites that have published it.
A church statement said it doesn’t believe there’s anything “particularly newsworthy” in the handbook. “The church regularly quotes from the handbook when giving policy positions to journalists,” the statement said. “However, the material is copyrighted. . . . In this case we have simply notified a particular Web site that they have posted copyrighted material illegally and asked them to remove it.”
A Tuesday article on Wikinews, a Wikimedia Foundation-operated site put together by volunteer editors, said the Wikimedia Foundation had received a copyright infringement claim from the LDS Church after Wikinews published an April 19 article describing material in the church handbook obtained by Wikileaks, an independent site not associated with Wikimedia.
Wikimedia spokesman Jay Walsh said Wednesday he knew of no letter from the LDS Church, but added that Wikinews has removed from its articles all descriptions from the handbook in question.
Attempts to reach a Wikileaks representative Wednesday were unsuccessful.
However, the Tuesday Wikinews article quoted a Wikileaks spokesman as saying the material will not be removed.
“Wikileaks will not remove the handbooks [the Church Handbook of Instructions is a two-volume set], which are of substantial interest to current and former Mormons,” according to the article. “Wikileaks will remain a place where people from around the world can safely reveal the truth.”
It was unclear Wednesday how the LDS Church will react if Wikileaks does not remove the handbook. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Trotter said.