Monday, January 15, 2018

FaithLeaks - The "Wikileaks for Religion" Holding Faith Communities Accountable



There is a new website up called FaithLeaks that seeks transparency of faith communities and to hold them accountable for what they do and say.

This is their mission statement
FaithLeaks is a non profit media organization founded on the belief that increased transparency within religious organizations results in fewer untruths, less corruption, and less abuse. The organization provides sources and whistleblowers the technical ability to anonymously submit sensitive documents for use by professional and citizen journalists for starting and expanding news reporting, public commentary, and criticism related to religion.
FaithLeaks is a project by the Truth and Transparency Foundation, a non profit founded by Ryan McKnight and Ethan Dodge in November 2017.
They provide an avenue for church members and information on how to anonymously submit sensitive documents.  They use SecureDrop...
Like other whistle-blower organizations, FaithLeaks provides sources the ability to anonymously submit sensitive documents, which the site then posts publicly. FaithLeaks uses SecureDrop, an encrypted open-source system that is also used by media outlets including the New York Timesand ProPublica. SecureDrop uses the anonymizing Tor network to facilitate submissions that leave no trace online. Founded by two former Mormons in November, FaithLeaks believes that “increased transparency within religious organizations results in fewer untruths, less corruption, and less abuse.” A New “Wikileaks for Religion” Publishes Its First Trove of Documents

Their first big trove of documents to be dumped concerns sexual abuse in a Jehovah's Witness church and how church leaders attempted to cover it all up.

FaithLeaks Releases Documents Surrounding Sexual Abuse Investigation in Jehovah’s Witness Congregation
The documents released this week span from 1999 to 2012, and they’re devastating. They include details about accusations by three women against one church member. The first case involves allegations made by the man’s adult daughter, who accused him of sexual and physical abuse that began when she was 5 years old. (Names have been redacted in all the FaithLeaks documents.) Another daughter and an unrelated woman later came forward to make abuse accusations against the same man; the second daughter said her father had begun to “fondle and touch” her at the age of 3, and began raping her at 8. A New “Wikileaks for Religion” Publishes Its First Trove of Documents
On a secret COG facebook page, there have been reports by people sending in information about the Philadelphia Church of God and Restored Church of God.  One LCG member also claims to be gathering information to send in.

The founders of FaithLeaks hope to shed light on corruption and cover-ups within other religious communities going forward. “Our goal is to reduce the amount of deception and untruths and unethical behaviors that exist in some facets of religion,” Ryan McKnight told Religion News Service. “If someone is in possession of documents they feel deserve to be made public, we’re simply here to help facilitate that.” McKnight and his co-founder, Ethan Dodge, say they are particularly interested in documents related to finances, congregational policies and procedures, and information on sex-abuse settlements. 
It’s easy to imagine FaithLeaks being used by whistle-blowers within a wide range of religious communities, but it’s notable that so far the greatest interest and excitement seems to be coming from former Scientologists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons. These are organizations that are famously secretive and close-knit, and which can be hard for members to publicly criticize. (Individual Protestant churches can be authoritarian and secretive, too, but there are usually dozens of local competitors, which makes it relatively easy for disgruntled congregants to simply leave.  A New “Wikileaks for Religion” Publishes Its First Trove of Documents



ht: Silenced






17 comments:

Anonymous said...

The days of Armstrongite churches getting by with abuse are over. The internet has held them accountable for their misdeeds. This is why none of the COG's are growing, and this includes Bob Thiel's cult. Word is spreading here in Africa to keep away from Thiel.

Connie Schmidt said...

Hey, every business has accountability with Amazon ratings and YELP reviews. Why not churches?

Allen C. Dexter said...

Transparency is the key. There was a time when people just couldn't get information, but the internet has opened up that Pandora's box forever. Herb was able to move out of Oregon and basically leave his past behind. That situation basically exists no longer.

Margaret said...

Absolutely none of the top COG groups are transparent in their operations, finances, or doctrinal beliefs. This also includes Bob Thiel and James Malm. They are all crooks when it comes to money. Many top leaders in the various COG's think their leader is nuts, but they are too far entrenched in the cesspool to do anything about it. Many of them also don't believe in all the doctrines held by their churches and privately practice their understanding at home with family.

We are lucky to be alive to see the downfall of a corrupt COG system.

Gordon Feil said...

How do you reckon that Bob Thiel and James Malm represent "top COG groups"?

Anonymous said...

This Sunday, after our worship service, my protestant church will have its annual congregational meeting, where the budget for the new year, line by line, the pastor's salary and benefits package, and other such items will be openly discussed and voted on by the congregation --- after many weeks of open study by a committee of members.

That's a bit different from my unfortunate 13 years in the Worldwide Church of Armstrong. Had no idea, no say in where my many tithe dollars ever went, for what, in that secretive operation.

Allen C. Dexter said...

You're right, Margaret. I suspect that a great many know it's all a scam, but their livelihood is dependent on keeping the subterfuge going. Maybe I'd be better off financially today if I'd managed to worm my way into some splinter, but I'd have seared my conscience beyond repair and would have had to become a total hypocrite. It wasn't worth it. No regrets in that area. Once I came to realize that all religions are scams based on lies, there was no going back.

Anonymous said...

any page that claims to expose the sins of religious organizations yet neglects to include the catholic church given its 1800 years worth of evil doing is clearly yet another hypocritical tool of the devil...

Anonymous said...

If you had bothered to read the entire FaithLeaks site you would see it is new. It was started by Mormons who started a MomonLeaks page and then they had so many requests from other groups that the JW's were next. Scientology is on their rader too. If you have information and facts on the Cath0lic church then send it in instead of being a snarky ass about it. Your comment is just as silly as the people who make the same claim that this blog doesn't expose Catholics and others. Apparently, people are too stupid to read why pages are set up and who they are directed towards in the first place.

Anonymous said...

that is a bizarre statement, given the very public revelations of catholic priests molesting children, and law enforcements arrests of catholic offenders worldwide!

and frankly the catholic church has a well documented history of some of the most evil, if not the most evil behavior of any of the organizations what claim to be Christian, and anyone who ignores this cannot be taken seriously...

Anonymous said...

and you cannot point to any substantive example of this blog being critical of the catholics or the scientologists, and why? because the admins of this blog are not sincere in their hatred of religion, but are only interested in being critical of the cogers...perfect example is how every year around christmass or easter, etc., they are in the habit defending the keeping of the pagan holidays, but are always critical of the cogers keeping biblical holy days...

this blog is simply biased against cogers because of personal beefs, not purely because of the evil that churches in general do, else they would be critical of the glaring evils of the mormons, scientologists and catholics...

and frankly your foul language and personal comments is demonstrative of the typical non believer, frankly exposing the kind of underlying character that indicative of a rotten attitude...

Anonymous said...

people like you love to comment using put downs and name calling and attempts to shame those whom you disagree with; all through the internet, i have noticed no matter what the politics, people like you undermine your discourse with such bitter words...

your pov has no merit because of the ridiculous and juvenile mindset behind those words, the likes of which betray a lack of discipline and little if any respect for your fellow man...

people like you prove the need for true religion in the lives of a human being...

nck said...

"people like you prove the need for true religion in the lives of a human being..."

The scientific and well researched view is that civil behavior on the internet increases dramatically when people use their real names or at least use recognizable monnikers so people are able to at least relate messages to personae.

Its not a guarantee, but I would urge EVERYONE on here to at least establish a relationship by using A name before interacting anywhere on the internet and expect civility in return.


So please remain anonymous if you please but BE someone before demanding respect in social interaction.

nck

NO2HWA said...

Anon @ 7:56 pm wrote:

"and you cannot point to any substantive example of this blog being critical of the Catholics or the Scientologists, and why? because the admins of this blog are not sincere in their hatred of religion, but are only interested in being critical of the cogers...perfect example is how every year around christmass or easter, etc., they are in the habit defending the keeping of the pagan holidays, but are always critical of the cogers keeping biblical holy days..."

In case you have not noticed, this blog, according to its masthead, is about Armstrongism and the Churches of God and the utter corruption that seeps through its ranks. It is NOT about the Catholic church or Scientology. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs and websites that detail abuses and chicanery in those two groups, just as there are hundreds and hundreds of blogs dealing with the JW's, Mormons, Pentecostals and mainstream Christian denominations.

I don't hate religion. I find it eternally fascinating, beneficial and rewarding. What I do find offensive is abuse by COG leaders who claim to be the only true Christians on the face of the earth. Hypocrisy reigns supreme in religions, but glaringly so in the Church of God because of its outrageous claim of preserving "first-century Christianity" and for being the ONLY "true church" that God really cares about. That's utter bullshit.

Which COG is keeping the "correct" biblical holy days? Every one of you claims your select group only does it correctly and the rest are apostate heretics doomed to the lake of fire. Sadly many of you legalists prefer to bow down to the law instead of following that terribly inconvenient dude that embarrasses the hell out of you.

This is funny coming from someone who steals copyrighted articles by HWA and others to put on your FB page and blog. Yes, hypocrisy reigns supreme in the COG.

Anonymous said...

typical dehumanization...a persons opinion only counts if they are somebody? apparently its okay to demean that person if they remain anonymous?

well, my experience with people what disagree with others in forums such as this is the disrespectful behavior only gets worse when that person is known...

and frankly it seems to me you are looking for excuses for your inability to control yourselves and engage in civil discord...which stands to reason given the fact that the godless tend to not have any culture of personal governance...

besides, when i put my name on my quotes in the past i was censored; well here goes...

c f ben yochanan

Anonymous said...

hypocrisy reigns supreme in human nature, period, as does also self righteousness...

c f ben yochanan

Anonymous said...

and regarding ur focus on the corruption going on in the cogs: i am all for that; but what does that have to do with our keeping of the biblical Holy Days vis avis the pagan ones? why the mockery, and the validation of other religions holidays?

c f ben yochanan