Online censorship is generally condemned by the public, but some groups are hard at work trying to promote it. The Chinese government invests massively in censoring blogs and news sites to prevent what it feels are subversive materials. Violators are oft jailed. Outside China, banking giant Julius Baer fought unsuccessfully to try to shut down Wikileaks when the site released documents implicating it in numerous international crimes including money laundering and tax evasion.
In the past, the Church of Scientology sued and threatened legal action against Wikileaks for publication of embarrassing church documents. And more recently there was the famous incident where the Church of Scientology tried to censor leaked online videos of Tom Cruise explaining the religion in a humorous manner. The Church was subsequently rocked by hacker attacks and international protests from people angry at its assault on free speech.
Despite this example of the public unpopularity of such moves, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), appears to be following in the Church of Scientology's footsteps, attacking Wikileaks for release a handbook of secret church procedures made for its leaders. According to a report posted on Wikileaks, LDS sued Wikileaks for copyright infringement in an attempt to silence it.
Wikileaks first received its copy of the Church Handbook of Instructions via a URL link. The two-volume work was received from an anonymous whistleblower on April 16. Wikileaks says the leak was significant as, "The book is strictly confidential among the Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, aka LDS in short form) bishops and stake presidents and it reveals the procedure of handling confidential matters related to tithing payment, excommunication, baptism and doctrine teaching (indoctrination)."
Wikileaks offered the document on the document sharing website Scribd. Scribd now offers this little tidbit on the books, which are no longer available: "This content was removed at the request of copyright agent B. S. Broadbent of the Intellectual Property Division of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."
On May 5, the LDS' legal representation contacted the Wikimedia Foundation charging the site with copyright infringement and requesting that the material be removed -- the site complied with the request. No Digital Copyright Millennium Act (DCMA) notice has been filed as of yet.
The material had been released partially online previously in 1999 when Jerald and Sandra Tanner posted part of it. In the case Intellectual Reserve v. Utah Lighthouse Ministry, the Church won a controversial injunction from the U.S. court banning the Tanners from releasing the material online. The church eventually dropped their suit when they forced the Tanners to agree to destroy the books.
The LDS has recently been increasingly in the public spotlight due to former Republican presidential candidate front-runner Mitt Romney, an LDS church member, speaking publicly about his beliefs.
Wikileaks, despite the legal action, as of May 13 has refused to remove the book, which is still available from the site. It can be found here for those curious.
quote: I'm not sure how things work in the US but in the UK I believe that journalists and the press had an exemption in copy write law and were allowed to quote texts.
quote: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is not making any effort to protect its "beliefs" from public scrutiny. Why else would more than 50,000 missionaries labor to share their beliefs around the world, at their own expense?I have, at times, been authorized to consult The Handbook of Instructions. But even if it remains on line, I will not read it now, because I no longer have that authorization. But I testify that does not contain anything of a conspiratorial nature, or evil, or of any kind of threat to the public.Unlike most religions, the Church has no paid ministry. Its local leaders (bishops, who preside over a single ward or congregation) and stake presidents (who preside over approximately 10 wards) are lay people who have families and occupations. They do not ask to serve nor even plan to serve; rather, they are called to serve by inspiration of general Church leaders. Bishops typically serve only about 5 years; stake presidents serve a few more years. The Handbook of Instructions is a guide to these leaders, who come to their positions with no prior training. It is distributed to them to ensure that Church policies and procedures are uniform around the world.Unlike other churches, we also do not decide which congregation we attend: we attend the ward in whose boundaries we reside. This also creates a need for uniformity of policy and procedure. (You can learn the place and meeting times of your nearest congregation by selecting the link "worship with us" at mormon.org and entering your address.)Any members of the Church who has a question about doctrine or policy can ask his bishop, who can consult the Handbook. However, leaders are encouraged to use these guidelines prayerfully and to adapt them to immediate needs and circumstances.If the Handbook were published, it could tempt some members to take a legalistic approach to policies and procedures and try to see just how close they could come to "crossing the line." Publication could also tempt some members who have more time on their hands than their bishops to make a hobby of knowing the handbook "better" than their bishop, which could undermining his efforts to provide inspired and thoughtful leadership.The Church has every right to control distribution of its Handbook of Instructions. Copyright protects not just the right to publish, but also the right not to publish.Tracy Hall Jrhthalljr'gmail'com
quote: quit being a pazie
quote: Maintaining that authorship strips one of the right of an opinion is as unfair as writing a biased article
quote: …but the fact that they feel the need to keep secret portions of their actual religious doctrine doesn't engender trust.
quote: GOD: Silence mortals! I have something important to tell you. Remember what I said about African Americans and priesthood...
quote: The article is presented in a clear manner, and leaves opinion to the reader.
quote: I'm all for the freedom of religion.
quote: …I do personally find troublesome.
quote: One thing you probably didn't think about when you wrote your article is that there are a lot of Mormons that read and perhaps respect(ed) DailyTech and are probably a little disappointed by your tone in this article.
quote: Again you're deflecting the real issue of the racial stance. You in no way responded to that.
quote: Clearly by the definition of the word censorship the actions of Julius Baer, The Church of Scientology, and the LDS church could all be considered to consitute censorship.
quote: However a religion that seems to have openly advocated racism until the late 70s, when it was forced to officially change its stance due to societal pressure, I do personally find troublesome.
quote: Change their situation with the whites, and they would be like them. They have souls, and are subjects of salvation.-Joseph Smith, Jr., 1st Prophet and President of the LDS Church, statement given in 1842 (during US slavery and in response to debates in the US among whites as to whether or not black people have souls or not - there was a doubt as to blacks having soul?! ;) )
quote: No church or other organization is more insistent than The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that the Negroes should receive all the rights and privileges that can possibly be given to any other in the true sense of equality as declared in the Declaration of Independence. They should be equal to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." They should be equal in the matter of education. They should not be barred from obtaining knowledge and becoming proficient in any field of science, art or mechanical occupation. They should be free to choose any kind of employment, to go into business in any field they may choose and to make their lives as happy as it is possible without interference from white men, labor unions or from any other source. In their defense of these privileges the members of the Church will stand.-Joseph Fielding Smith, Prophet and President of the LDS Church, statement given in 1958 (right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement when MLK was marching and holding boycotts)
quote: You seem really anxious to destroy the faith of others without limited information and incomplete understanding of the principles underlying the LDS belief system.
quote: Journalism requires you to actually take your personal feelings out of the picture and report on something.
quote: One question, how many blacks ever obtained priesthood in the Mormon church prior to the rule of exclusion?
quote: Despite this example of the public unpopularity of such moves, the Church of Mormon appears to be following…
quote: Mormon Church Attacks Wikileaks
quote: Naturally, churches don't have a high opinion of other churches.1 Nephi 14:6 "There are save two churches only; the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil."
quote: Naturally, churches don't have a high opinion of other churches. - feraltoad
quote: What is wrong with "attack"?
quote: But I guess he could have been wrong about the whole thing.
quote: GOD: Well... ummmmm... Actually you see I um, well kinda changed my mind...
quote: anti-American BS
quote: Most of it was simply the truth
quote: I do take issue to the latter half your statement. Should catholic church-goers be punished if their priest molests a boy? It seems like if a Church official starts doing something bad and you leave the church, thats a GOOD thing not a bad thing. I could be wrong.
quote: Obama has already denounced his comments.
quote: America's stature with the rest of the world
quote: There are more pressing matters facing our nation
quote: So Rev. Wright changed absolutely nothing.
quote: I don't see how what that has to do with Obama though. He's in the federal government now.
quote: When is he going to start working for the citizens of Illinois??
quote: Obama was just given it.
quote: have you never had a friend that has ever said something you don't agree with?
quote: Barack Obama's minister shouldn't tarnish his credibility any more than Catholic priests tarnish their paritioners' beliefs.
quote: Religions are full of nonsensical things, and while the Christian Church may explain away obvious fallacies like stating rain came from flood-gates in the heavens by claiming it is etiological- ie. claiming that the message is more important than the facts of the message, I myself call Shenanigans.
quote: The worst offenders of course are the Republicans and their hero George Bush. They love to say what good Christians they are, but they support the rich over the poor. They send the bravest and the best of our young people to die, in a war based on lies, that kills hundreds of thousands. Then they ignore and neglect our returning veterans who bear physical and emotional wounds. They promote the use of torture. How can these actions be reconciled with the teachings of Christ?
quote: If you think you know what God wants, and believe things for which you have no facts, it’s only a small step to flying an airplane full of people into a building full of people. Most of the conflict in the world is the result of religion.
quote: There is a huge difference between " religion " and radical Islam and you damn well know it. Yes hundreds of years ago the Catholic church and other religions performed horrible acts. But guess what, that was HUNDREDS ( and sometimes thousands ) of years ago. They have moved on, radical Islam has not.
quote: And the last time I checked, Republican was a political party, not a belief system of Christians. If I said Democrats were all atheists I would be as big as a bigot and moron as you are. Because its just not true.
quote: It's funny that no miracles on a grand scale (parting sea's, finding golden tablets) happen in an age where we could study them and actually say "we have no idea how this happened".
quote: I'm really torn on the issue. Personally, I think marrying 16 year olds, and having 50 kids is totally wacked. However, I think the reality is that these people are trapped in the past, and this isn't abnormal by their standards. I certainly don't get the impression that anybody living in these communities feels trapped, victimized, or abused. This is just the way they live.
quote: I certainly don't get the impression that anybody living in these communities feels trapped, victimized, or abused.
quote: It's always rough for religions that start out as blatant and obvious scams, they're always fighting for credibility.
quote: Astronomers announced today that there are 70 sextillion stars in the visible universe, or some 70 thousand million million million.… This is not the total number of stars in the universe, but it's the number within range of our telescopes…
quote: These are sufficient evidences for believe in God and his words: prophecies coming true
quote: In this forgiveness of sins he presented his person and authority as divine and he proved it such by the miracle of healing which immediately followed. Had the two been inverted, had Christ first healed the man and afterward told him that his sins were forgiven there would have been evidence indeed of his power but not of his divine personality nor of his having authority to forgive sins and this, not the doing of miracles, was the object of his teaching and mission of which the miracles were only secondary evidence. …rise take up thy bed and walk. Yet this latter assuredly proved the former and gave it in the sight of all men unquestioned reality. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah p349.
quote: You are making the negative proof (I think).
quote: Wouldn't the argument be "God does not exist (the atheist's proposition) because there is no evidence that he does exist (negative proof - logical fallacy)
quote: What is the atheist's argument for god's non-existence? Wouldn't the argument be "God does not exist (the atheist's proposition) because there is no evidence that he does exist (negative proof - logical fallacy) OR there is evidence of A, B and C (false attribution - think problem of free will, evil, whatever - problems which could be explained by other forces other than the non-existence of god)."
quote: My argument is - The question of the existence of god as we currently understand it has no answer - to take such a strong stance (which a belief is) where we don't have good answers either way is stupid.
quote: Fools express beliefs on things they don't know. Intelligent people express ideas on things they would like to know about. Ideas can be changed a lot easier than beliefs.
quote: My proposed belief system is not ludicrous - i just destroy the word "belief" and put it into two camps - either knowledge of existence or idea of existence.
quote: A man without beliefs is an enlightened man.
quote: There cannot even be an answer to this question, as we cannot confirm either way. The null must be non-existence. The scientific method demands it.
quote: You are using a classic example of a logical fallacy - negative proof - X is false because there is no proof that X is true.
quote: I think there is an answer - we just haven't discovered it.
quote: Such a stunning refutation of my argument. Oh wait, you just said "I think otherwise". Color me unimpressed. quote: What reasons fo god's existence would be acceptable? What is supernatural? Didn't people long ago think people flying was supernatural? Choose less subjective words. Look up the bloody word in the dictionary or use the bloody latin roots. Super- above. Nature- the physical world. That is not subjective at all. quote: You also put too much faith in the scientific method. So? Everybody must have faith. I just have much less faith than you or a theist. quote: Under my system - I know you exist, or rather something exists, because you reponded to me. Doh, You just begged the question. Do try again. You presupposed existence of the computer right there quote: My computer exists because I interact with it directly. Really? And you know you are not simply dreaming how? You know that your senses are not lying to you how? quote: The only thing which forces me to acknowledge their existences is my direct experience with them. I'd be an irrational idiot to turn a blind eye to it. I am not that narrow minded. Congrats. You just proved my case. The belief that reality exists is a justifiable belief. Belief in God is not.
quote: What reasons fo god's existence would be acceptable? What is supernatural? Didn't people long ago think people flying was supernatural? Choose less subjective words.
quote: You also put too much faith in the scientific method.
quote: Under my system - I know you exist, or rather something exists, because you reponded to me.
quote: My computer exists because I interact with it directly.
quote: The only thing which forces me to acknowledge their existences is my direct experience with them. I'd be an irrational idiot to turn a blind eye to it. I am not that narrow minded.
quote: The belief in god is not justifiable - I agree. The belief in no god is equally unjustifiable
quote: Supernatural pertains to entities, events or powers regarded as beyond nature, in that they cannot be explained by the laws of the natural world. To me, the "supernatural" shrinks in size as we accumulate more knowledge regarding knowledge of the natural world.
quote: Then, you move on with your daily life with more important issues. Humans should not make beliefs on things they don't know the answer to.
quote: There is a huge difference between the question of actual existence and the question of the nature of something's existence.
quote: My senses cannot lie to me about your actual existence
quote: Why do these "churches" need secrets in the first place?
quote: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
quote: People are giving half-brained responses because the Mormons don't educate the everday person (i.e. keeping it secret).
quote: I am personally offended by this article trying to portray this church, with the best humanitarian aid efforts of all religions on earth
quote: I think the world is now composed of the greatest percentage of pussies in the history of the world. Grow a pair and stop bitching.
quote: In 2007 the Church responded to major earthquakes in 5 countries, massive fires in 6 countries, hunger and famine in 18 countries, and flooding and severe storms in 34 countries. In total the Church and its members responded to 170 major events---nearly one every two days for the entire year. It was a busy year with many opportunities to serve.
quote: I doesn't seem so much a "secret" to be protected, but a copyright to be protected.
quote: Why does any instruction book or manual need a copyright? I think if they made it, they might have the right to copyright their own material.
quote: other company which has ever sued to get their copyrighted material taken off the net.
quote: See Tithing. LDS essentially require from all members the 10% tithe.
quote: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the founding church based upon a restoration doctrine. It is not a branch of any other church, nor is it part of the Protestant movement.
quote: The author is obviously biased and hasn't done a speck of honest research on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
quote: I'll take morality over laws given the choice.
quote: …but plan to manage these sheep with secret guidelines which do not appear to be handed down from God[bold added]
quote: …there should be no basis under which copyright restrictions are in place.
quote: … it seems immoral to prevent it's dissemination when such doctrine becomes a matter of good faith between men
quote: "the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."
quote: "I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. My God created laws that take care of that. His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking, but by immutable laws."