An Assault on Press Freedom
In May 2019, Truth & Transparency published videos produced by Watch Tower, the governing body of the religion commonly known as the Jehovah’s Witnesses. These videos are shown for free to their religious constituents every year, and then never published again.
In May 2020, Watch Tower filed a lawsuit against Truth & Transparency for infringing on their copyright of these videos. To ask the court to effectively censor this content is a clear cut, abusive assault on the First Amendment right to report matters of public interest under the guise of a copyright claim.
When a large multi-million dollar institution like the Jehovah’s Witnesses engages in this kind of legal action against a small, independent media outlet like Truth & Transparency there is more at stake than just the survival of our small organization. We must not allow Watch Tower to successfully establish a roadmap for silencing unwanted voices.
A Dangerous Precedent
Truth & Transparency — formerly known as FaithLeaks and MormonLeaks — is a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to religious accountability through impact journalism. The videos were published because they provide important insight into a powerful religious institution whose dealings are clearly in the public interest.
Watch Tower has been known to cover up multiple cases of child sex abuse within their own ranks. Content like these videos are instrumental in understanding the environment and culture where such abuses occur.
The censorship of these videos would set a dangerous precedent for journalists and media everywhere, especially those engaged in criticizing and exposing corruption within religious institutions.
We need your help. The only way to put a stop to this bullying is to beat them in court. In order to do so, we need to raise at least $40,000 in the next two weeks. Will you stand with press freedom and the First Amendment by supporting religious accountability through impact journalism?
Ethan Gregory Dodge
Technical Executive Editor