A major biannual gathering of Mormons in Salt Lake City this weekend was overshadowed by leaked videos that appear to offer a rare peek inside the opaque deliberations of the top leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On Sunday, an anonymous YouTube account named "Mormon Leaks" posted several videos of presentations to the church's "Quorum of the Twelve Apostles" behind closed doors.
The leaders — considered to be "modern-day prophets" by the church's 15.6 million members — are seen discussing a wide range of topics, including the "homosexual agenda," Iran's nuclear centrifuges, how to convert Kurds to Mormonism, and whether WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is gay.
In a video from 2011, church leaders talk about whether the church would be vulnerable to a WikiLeaks-like dump, but the conversation quickly veers from cybersecurity to homosexuality.
One of the first questions posed after a presentation about WikiLeaks is whether Chelsea Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of U.S. government documents, is gay.
Apostle Dallin H. Oaks, who is slated to become the next president of the Mormon church, says he is "suspicious that the new media cover up anything involving homosexuals when it would work to the disadvantage of the homosexual agenda and so on, and I just wondered if there was some of that in this."
Gerrit Gong, the presenter at that meeting and now a high-ranking leader in the church's "Quorum of the Seventy," also remarks Manning may have leaked the documents after a gay lover dumped him.
In a video from 2008, Gong updates Mormon leaders on advances in gene therapy. Should such scientific advances be used by Mormons one day to "counter homosexuality" or drug addiction?, Gong asks. The now-deceased Apostle Boyd K. Packer responds that "science and morality — those two words might go together."
A Church spokesman released a statement to the Salt Lake Tribune acknowledging the authenticity of the videos. "In these committee meetings, presentations are routinely received from various religious, political, and subject-matter experts on a variety of topics," he said. "This is an informational forum, not a decision-making body."
In another video that appears to be from 2009, former U.S. Sen. Gordon Smith discloses to the leadership information about Iran that he says "may be classified." Probably within 12 months, he says, "Iran may well have, with their now I think 3,000 centrifuges, enough fissile material to create a nuclear bomb."
Smith also tells the church hierarchy that "Israel has nuclear weapons, make no mistake about it." While Israel's nuclear weapons are an open secret in Washington, the U.S. government still hasn't publicly admitted that Israel has such weapons. Smith goes on to tell the church leaders that "the formula for Armageddon probably comes out of the Sunni-Shia fight as to who — this race to exterminate the Jews."
Several calls to Smith's office at the National Association of Broadcasters went unanswered. It is not yet known who is behind the "Mormon Leaks" uploads or whether more videos are forthcoming.