Mormon church is settling Internet test case, critics say

Posted: Friday, December 08, 2000

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Two Mormon church critics who posted excerpts from the denomination's confidential policy handbook on the Internet said they have agreed on terms for settling a church lawsuit against them.

Although the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said no final agreement had been reached, one seems to be pending.

The church held that Jerald and Sandra Tanner of Utah Lighthouse Ministry illegally published copyrighted material from the ''Church Handbook of Instructions,'' which is available only to selected Mormon officials. The Tanners' excerpts concerned procedures for resigning church membership.

A church entity sued the Tanners, who removed the material from their Web page after a federal district judge issued a temporary restraining order. The judge later forbade them to provide links or addresses for other Web sites that post handbook texts.

Cyber-groups, including the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the judge's restrictions could chill the free exchange of ideas online.

The Tanners said they have agreed to destroy their copies of the handbook, remove information on Internet sites that post the confidential handbook from their own Web site, and limit their quotations from it to 50 words per chapter.

The Tanners contend they did nothing wrong but lack the money to pursue a test case on Internet law.


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