A Fascinating Look Into How the LDS Church Conducts Marketing Research Around Progressive Issues

John Dehlin Blog 102 Comments

I received these screen shots today from a supportive listener. To me, it’s a fascinating look into how the LDS Church currently conducts marketing research (to its members) around progressive issues such as its disciplining of high-profile members, and the ordination of women.

 

 

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Comments 102

    1. I am a Mormon man, God did not plop me here and I do have a mother. I think there are good men around the world, even with in the Mormon ranks. Take courage Norlene and have hope.

  1. Notice how that first question, “Did you notice…” connects each item with a date (just to make absolutely certain that one will be more likely to remember. “Well yes,” they will say to themselves, “of course I read the Ensign, and I listened to conference, so I must have…”) This looks like the PR department is trying to gather ammunition to create the impression to the authorities that what they are doing is actually effective.

      1. Actually, no. Do you have something that no one else on this thread does that would help us to judge whether it is real or not? I hope you will share it with us.

      2. Faked how? the survey was really sent out. I first read about it in the Salt Lake Newspaper; the one that isn’t an extension of the Ensign.

  2. So sad…question #2 basically asks:
    “Do you care how women are treated in the LDS Church?” and “Do you care about women’s feelings about how they are being treated?”
    Seriously???
    IT DOESN’T MATTER IF PEOPLE CARE!
    WHAT MATTERS if it’s a principle worthy of an organization that represents itself as having morals and ethics.
    Duh.

    1. Do we care? Does it matter? If we care, we are shunned aren’t we? Afterall, why the survey if they say the Lord has already answered so many questions?

  3. Their powers of discernment are so powerful and so discerning…how anyone can look at how the church is constantly dragged forward by the progression of society, instead of leading the way, and still think the leaders are inspired is beyond me. The bumbling of the Ordain Women movement and the disciplinary actions against bloggers fall right in line with the backlash over Proposition 8, the failure to understand the effects of the internet on their bogus truth claims, kicking out the September Six, threatening members over support of the Equal Rights Amendment, calling the civil rights movement a communist plot, etc…

    Eh, why think about all that when you can doubt your doubts and pay your tithing.

    1. “how anyone can look at how the church is constantly dragged forward by the progression of society, instead of leading the way, and still think the leaders are inspired is beyond me”

      This is what you get with a self-perpetuating hierarchy of yes-men. Look no further than the Roman Catholic College of Cardinals for the most durable model. Correct me if I’m wrong, but not a SINGLE cardinal has been excommunicated for a mess that defies the imagination, violent sexual coercion of children – and this in a CHRISTIAN church! The LDS are the same in one critical respect: Loyalty trumps all. It trumps truth, independent thinking, doing the right thing, acknowledging the wonderful diversity of humanity. This survey is nauseating. PR, in a church with Christ as its head? What planet are we on, anyway

    2. Gonna say one more thing here, because I think it’s germane: the LDS hierarchy is rapidly achieving Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld-type infamy, i.e., clueless autocrats doing stupid things that harm people. When will they realize they’ve reached the point of diminishing returns with entrenched authoritarianism, homophobia, outright baldfaced misogyny with no end in sight, clumsy manipulation of Church history (maintaining, for example, that the Book of Abraham may actually have been a real translation only we’ll never know since most of the papyri is missing, & on & on -). Like Bush/Cheney, were these old white men running “normal” corporations, answerable to shareholders & public opinion (customers), they would have been sacked long ago.

  4. I’m hardly surprised they will test some members in a few places.
    I’m more interested that John Dehlin chose to post this, but not offer any comments or observations about it .
    Why was that John? I’m certainly curious what you think of this, but even more curious as to why you didn’t make a comment

    1. John Dehlin thank you for presenting the survey and allowing the reader to form their own opinions without being influenced one way or the other.

  5. Surveys are a great substitute for revelation. Reminds me of the survey the church did that resulted in the temple ceremony changes of 1990.

      1. It’s interesting how their ‘revelation’ just happens to always be the same as what the government demands or whatever the majority of the members or leaders want and what will keep people coming & paying the piper.

        The Church has always changed it’s preaching & practices with the wind, whatever will keep them afloat and accepted by the world, government or members, no matter how opposite from Christ they may be.

        Soon we will see same sex marriages & polygamy accepted in the church in the near future, once it’s soon legal nationwide. For it seems that both things are already being desired by the majority of the members & leaders.

        Most all members already support or live ‘serial polygamy’ (by divorce & remarriage) and thus would easily accept full polygamy. Especially with the huge growing problem of all the abandoned single mothers needing support that the Church doesn’t seem to want to give. So polygamy will be very useful to the Church to take that burden off their back.

        1. Do you think that a single mom would rather be the 2nd wife of George Clooney or the 1st wife of George Costanza (Seinfeld)?

          We in the church don’t practice polygamy anymore, we practice serial monogamy.

          1. Then why is section 132 still in the D&C? And why do members still get sealed to multiple women in the temple (after a spouse dies) with the full intention of being with all wives in the next life? If the government hadn’t forced the church’s hand, they would likely still be practicing polygamy today…

          2. Dave,

            Actually yes, From what I have seen I believe that most single mothers in the Church would marry almost any man in order to have a husband, even if he had been married 10 times before, that doesn’t seem to bother or sway them. They remind me of the desperate women spoken of in Isaiah, 10 women taking a hold of 1 man, just to be ‘married’, not even requiring him to support them financially, they will do that themselves, as we see most doing today.

            But righteous women are not desperate like that, they would not live polygamy or marry a man who has dumped his 1st wife & children, no matter the reason, or one who wouldn’t provide for her. Righteous women would rather stay single then be abused in remarriage or by polygamy.

            And yes, the Church practices ‘serial polygamy’, most men who have been ‘sealed’ to more then one living or dead wife, believe, or are told by leaders, that they might or will have all the women that are sealed to them, in the next life, especially if those ex-wives don’t find new husbands here. For the Church teaches that the sealing holds, no matter how many wives a man has racked up.

            Even some modern day apostles boast about having all their wives in heaven some day. They still preach, practice and promise polygamy, just not in the same form as Brigham Young, but give them a few years and I believe they will again.

          3. I think your serial polygamy comment is a good one. I keep forgetting that men can still be sealed to multiple women.

            Not to belabor the point, but it seems from your post that you are implying that multiple monogomous marriages and/or polygamy are synonymous with abuse. What makes any relationship enjoyable is how emotionally healthy people are in that relationship and how you are valued and treated in it.

            Or that women of faith aren’t ever emotionally needy or feel desperate or want to have someone take care of them financially. I don’t see any of the above characterless as necessarily unusual or bad.

            Dave

          4. Dave,

            I agree that women of faith do of course have emotional needs and a desire for children and of course want a man who will provide financially for them, I just believe they are strong enough and thus aren’t willing to put up with abuse just to have those things fulfilled. They have too much self-respect.

            Because of what Christ taught, I do equate all 2nd, 3rd, etc. marriages and/or polygamy with abuse, for Christ called it all adultery (Matt. 9:19), and adultery is just a form or abuse, no matter how nice the people may treat each other otherwise in a 2nd marriage or polygamous marriage. Adultery can look & feel just like real love in this life.

  6. I’m struck by how corporate pr and marketing this seems. I’ve seen so many surveys like this that are turned into internal powerpoint presentations to confirm the current direction and inertia of the management team. I am reminded of surveys from RIM a year or two after the iPhone hit when they were working on supporting their internal belief that a computer company could never build a phone.

  7. To my cynical side, the first question looks like a push poll, where they are trying to influence the reader. In this case, it looks like they are trying to influence the reader to go to Church sources regarding these subjects.

    To my non-cynical side, it might be an attempt find a correlation between (1) seeing or hearing about those specific Church sources and (2) the feelings of members. But I can’t see how that information would be particularly useful, which brings me back to the conclusion that question 1 was just a push poll.

  8. There seems to be a lot of certainty in these comments about how the Church is using these surveys and what that implies. One valid possibility is that Church PR is sampling member opinions so that the Church can mollify a majority of its members and try to retain a good public image. In other words, the Church is acting like a sleazy politician who wants to know what the people think so he can appear to agree with them.

    Another valid possibility is that Church leaders are interested in the experience of members who are not so vocal in their support of either the status quo or progressive changes. In other words, the men who ostensibly seek divine direction for the institutional Church may want to learn about and consider the perspective of a wide range of the people on whose behalf they seek. This would not by any means be a breakthrough in compassionate listening, but it could be a small measure of the “bottom-up” revelatory process many have (quite fairly) called for recently.

    Let me be clear that I don’t know anything about the likelihood of these possibilities. I also don’t think I’ve suggested the full range of possibilities. This is not an either/or issue, and the reasons behind this survey probably don’t make the Church entirely heroic or completely villainous. My point is that if you are already certain about what’s going on, you are (statistically) likely to remain certain and will probably not consider possibilities that don’t support your certainty. But if you aren’t sure, I think there’s some value in remaining unsure for a while, which means actively considering more possibilities than one. I’m curious to learn more about this.

    1. I am not willing to give the benefit of the doubt, to the leaders or agents of an organization which has proven to be consistently, even inherently abusive, and narcissistically focused on maintaining / increasing its power at all costs.

      Even if the motives behind this are as “compassionate” as you suggest, it just goes to show they’re a bunch of hypocrites, who sternly warm people to do as they’re told and then discreetly ask a handful of people what they ought to be telling them.

      1. History told us that. Maybe not a survey but look at the past and the civil rights movement and all of a sudden blacks get the Priesthood?? Women’s rights were a BIG taboo for the church and now they care about how we feel? The ever changing church has nothing to do with revelation…it is dollars!

    1. He was first on the survey. Didn’t go well for the church, but they thought, what the hey, let’s get an average scope.

  9. (If polls were around in Nauvoo)

    1. Would you like to guarantee your entire family’s exaltation?

    2. Is one husband enough for you?

  10. It seems that the LDS Church is relying upon lawyers and PR people much more so now than in the past. The Church has PR departments in New York and Washington, D.C. Accordingly, this marketing research should come as no surprise to see that the Church is canvassing its members.

  11. Is this poll anonymous or is it like the one I got a few years back where I had to enter in my church membership number to participate?

  12. In the 80’s those of us with temple recommends were asked to attend a special meeting where we were asked to consider donating our homes to the church in a life estate. We were in our 20’s with a young family and thought this was a strange concept. Answering a survey would have been more palitable at the time!

    1. What was the outcome of this special meeting? Was this Churchwide? Just Utah? I’ve never heard of this before. Please tell more. I’m very interested.

      1. @ Sara, I had never heard of this before either. We were taken aback but did not have any desire to Donate our home to the church. I asked our old Bishop who was also an attorney years later if he remembered this meeting. He did in fact remember it and said it was something the church was trying out. I don’t think it went very far. At least not for my husband and myself.

  13. I received a survey in a similar format about my specific church calling and how things were done in my ward last year. It was sent to a sample of people with this same calling. I assumed it was a random sample. The survey I got had some poorly worded questions in my opinion. I believe the survey questions in John’s post here also could be better worded. I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. I choose to believe this was prepared by employees paid to do these kinds of surveys who didn’t write the best survey. They are also influenced by their own world view – (people working at the church are typically devout members)

        1. Paul,

          She really believes in & wants to live polygamy? The truth of the Church & it’s leaders all hinge on that one point.

          She really wants you to marry other women and hardly ever see you or have your help?

          If so, she probably won’t be convinced til she gets to the next life and can see, feel & experience just how it would be and how it was for those women who lived polygamy.

          So hold on, one day she will be converted to the truth. But you’re righteousness can help her in the next life, so stay strong and keep trying but above all, love and serve her and try to make her happy, no matter what. Your love will do more to convert her then anything else right now.

          1. She doesn’t want to live polygamy, but know the ugly details of J.S. And B.Y. And rationalizes that we all make mistakes and the church is still true and net good.

          2. Paul,

            Now I understand. For when a person will willingly believe that vile abusive men are true disciples/prophets of Christ, then it’s just because they themselves want that much leeway too. It relieves them of the necessity of having to be near perfect (have Charity) to make it.

            To let ourselves believe that such men will make it to heaven makes it seem easy get there and causes us to feel relieved and not worry or think we have to work that hard.

            Very few are willing to accept Christ’s teachings and judge leaders or themselves on the basis of if they have true Charity or not, for most people don’t want to have to have Charity themselves, it’s too hard and takes too much sacrifice.

            But only those with Charity can discern and not fall for false prophets.

            Thus Christ was right, few there be that will find it…- heaven.

      1. Don’t you love it, critics say the Church is out of touch with the membership, then the Leaders do these surveys to see what various people think and then they get all this blatherwick from critics, the leaders just can’t win!

  14. I heard that a similar survey was conducted prior to the revision of the Temple ceremony in the 90’s. Can anyone verify if that took place as well? It was said a sampling of 2500 recommend holding members were approached…

    1. This was in 1988 and the survey was conducted among 3500 members. I didn’t get the survey, but one of my friends did and I got to see a few of the questions.

      1. Thanks, It seems to me John should do a thread on this event with hopefully a few survey takers from then. Amazing how the most sacred ceremony in the Mormon Corporation needed to be adapted…

        1. You’re welcome. This survey was the result of temple attendance dropping and rumors that members felt uncomfortable attending the temple. Some of the questions had to do with likes and dislikes, or items dealing with things that made members uncomfortable during the temple experience. This was such a long time ago so I don’t remember the exact questions.

          Then in 1990 when the temple ceremony dropped the penalties and the Five Points of Fellowship, it was clear to many of us that it took a survey to change something that supposedly had been inspired and revealed to Joseph Smith as God-given and necessary ordinances that could be altered in any form. Very eye opening.

          The preacher that appeared in the pre-1990 temple film also disappeared. Many converts had expressed outrage in the survey because they found the portrayal of preacher as offensive and demeaning. Many of these converts still remembered their former pastors with love, respect, and fondness.

  15. I think my wife and I have only been asked to do 2 surveys in the most recent past. I think it is great. Prophets and Apostles are guided by the same principles of studying it out in our mind, using the power of reason (which is a gift), coming up with solutions and then going to the Lord and asking for spiritual confirmation. I believe Bishop’s and RS Presidents could also benefit from some local anonymous surveys. In addition this revelation is open to all within our sphere of need and responsibility.

    1. Funny though how ‘the Lord’ completely contradicts himself from his own revelations he gave ‘while on earth’ verses what the Church ‘says He says’. Any church can claim to get revelation from the Lord, but the proof is in the pudding/words of Christ. Clue – The Lord does not change.

  16. I have read of the church retaining public relations firms, in order to know about stances they should or could take. It certainly is at odds with the widely spread view of the brethren’s powers of discernment given to them by god.

    It reminds me of any corporation trying to grow the brand, yet still keep the original base customers. The brethren are, in my opinion, good men, trying their best to navigate this organization through rapid social change and still retain as many of the core beliefs, while still retaining as many members as possible. Big egos and over-inflated self-importance of the leadership notwithstanding. If I were appointed to the magisterium, after a few years of constant fawning sycophants, I’d start to believe it myself.

  17. I consider myself to have been a faithful member. I am 61 years old. However, during the last few years I have become aware of how many times I feel I have violated my conscience over what I have experienced as a church member. I have ignored those violations hoping that some day I would understand or my faith would grow as a result. Unfortunately, the dam (my conscience) has broken. It has become increasingly clear that there is no such thing as integrity to truth. The church seems more concerned with maintaining its growth rather than the principles that were its foundation. Since the internet has made us all aware of the problems associated with the origins of Mormonism, it is impossible to maintain one’s faith when applying the same methods that was the source of my conversion. When you study it out in your mind, one would never get to the point of even asking God if it was true.

    I was horrified to put it mildly, that Elder Holland omitted the word “only” and referred to the church as a true and living church. All churches can claim to be true and living. I would never have gone on a mission if I had heard Elder Holland’s talk when I was praying to know about the truthfulness of the gospel when I was 18 years old.

    I noticed as well the President Monson left out the word “peculiar” and only used the the phrase “royal priesthood.” It was a badge of honor to be peculiar. Now the church wants the younger members to feel the church is mainstream.

    I wonder if these modifications were the result of a survey. They were not accidental.

    Most members my age are either brain dead and are sleeping their way towards the grave or they are so gung ho that they are unaware of what is happening to the faith of their youth, or they know what is going on and they are so deep into the church with their children and grand children that they are violating their conscience as I am now.

    I support good living. I support the good the church does for families. I support what my children are doing in living the gospel and raising good children. But if the church cannot living with it’s history then I see that it will eventually give up on its truth claims and move in the direction of being a family centered church. But I see that only lasting a generation, maybe two at most and then it will enter a decline.

    The use of surveys is very corporate. Building a Mall is very corporate. Sending out missionaries at 18 years of age is very corporate. I think we have seen the high water mark of the church. It has great resources and momentum going in its favor but that momentum is slowing and when the youth can no longer maintain the church financially, bearing lots of children, and no longer willing to sacrifice as past generations, then the statistical information will no longer being public information.

    Church leadership has decided on a slow death as opposed to dealing with church history openly. I can’t even imagine what goes through the minds of the General Authorities. They must have the ability to ignore their conscience. As the Church unravels, I think they will have more and more problems dealing with their consciences. Some will eventually crack. Maybe not openly but in their private moments. I would feel just like they do and do the same things they are doing if I was in their place. I don’t judge them negatively because I would act as they are acting. To get to their place they had to be so committed that their minds were only focused on what they wanted to believe rather than considering all the facts and making a decision if their commitments were still valid.

    To come to this conclusion at the end of my life, while suffering severe chronic pain for the last three years–with no end to the pain until I die is very upsetting. I could have lived and suffered for the truth but not for something that is man made. I have prayed more intensely the last three years to verify again the truthfulness of the gospel. Those prayers have not be answered. I have no idea any longer if there even is a God.

    I am actually looking forward to dying. First to end the pain I am in and to either find out what happens after death or to lose consciousness eternally. I am comfortable either way.

    I am so thankful for have six wonderful kids and the best wife I could have by my side. I am not being prideful, but it does make my experience of existence worthwhile even if it proves to be only temporary.

    I just realized after proof reading this reply that it is the wrong response to the issue of surveys and I have rambled on from my dependence on pain medications. If I have taken up space that could be used in a better way, I have no problem having my response deleted. Just writing this reply is a form of therapy, a release of anger and hopefully some direction on what I should do the rest of today.

    1. I am in your age group and have recently found out the truth about LDS inc. It is common to be burnt out on God or religion after realizing what you have wasted a part of your life on, however, don’t give up on prayer and God. There is a God but different than who man-made organized religion teaches. You can find him through prayer and meditation. Don’t worry about the next life —– which man-made religion you believed in/or not —— it is not that significant in the eternal view. Sure, maybe you could have made a little more progress by knowing and searching for truth but you are eternal —– you have plenty of time!

      1. You made a good point. I forgot about a belief in eternity when I had my faith crisis. If I could just get that belief back then the time “wasted” so to speak is pretty insignificant. But when one is in severe pain 24/7 you feel you are in eternity when you “feel” every second. That kind of eternity makes the “real” eternity seem insignificant or worse a fearful prospect if it has pain too. We are told there is no pain in eternity. I’m afraid that I might be disappointed with that as well. I am sure depression has clouded my thinking.

        1. You really need to get some pain relief from a doctor or ask God to help you with it. No one should suffer that much with the medication we have today. I had a back problem that I suffered with and thought was terrible, but could have taken more pain relief and didn’t always, but it seems pale to what you are expressing. You need to read about near death experiences and after death communications (long island medium, various on internet) to get the correct belief back about an eternity and afterlife without pain (at least physical pain). We are eternal spiritual personages so there is no physical pain in the next life as spirits. As far as a fall, atonement, resurrection of the body, hell, having to belong to the correct religion —- fortunately all man-made fables in order to control people, get peoples money, etc. Not to say, Jesus and others did have some things right. Love and service to others is important for us all to learn in order to live in an eternal peaceful society. Also, prayer is important and so called miracles can and should occur today by faith/God’s help/our God given abilities.

    2. You’re only a few years ahead of me, LGAJ, and your story is not unlike mine, minus your trial by pain. Well said, friend. Thank you for sharing. A curious twist on the modern Mormon story are those like Denver Snuffer and Rock Waterman who believe the Church™ has wandered away from its own foundational orthodoxy. This line of belief says there are still profound reasons to follow and emulate Jesus Christ and cherish the Book of Mormon as the word of God. Good strength to you. Ever heard of Hemi-sync audio technology? There are anecdotal accounts of Hemi-sync helping folks with chronic pain to one degree or another.

    3. LGAJ,

      Really enjoyed the honesty in your comments. It is tough road. I’m not sure you really realize how courageous one has to be to even get to the spot you are at. Most of the world’s billions of inhabitants will never get to that solitary point where a lifelong belief will be held up for scrutiny, and if need be, discarded due to its worthlessness. Belief can be useful, as it is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of the heartless world, the hope of a hopeless condition. Non belief is actually a luxury, and in order to get rid of belief as a illusion for happiness, one must get rid of the condition that requires illusion (Marx’s critique of Hegel’s philosophy of right).

      During the infancy of our species our evolved brain came to create and accept ideas about our reality that at most times were incorrect. In attempts to quell fear and stave off despair we are evolved to accept bad explanations over no explanations. Religions were our first attempts at explaining the cosmos, the meanings of our lives, and where we may go when we die. It gave comfort in the face of death. It gave us the instructions to appease what would have seemed like angry Gods that caused the earth to shake, the heavens to rumble, the tribes to invade, and the crops to fail. The right propitiations, sacrifices were our hope to placate the Gods, and save us from the most frightening nightmares, most of all, our own deaths. Even our own personal church of our childhood, our Mormon faith does basically the same thing. It tells us how to behave and conduct our lives to placate the God that created us sick and commands us to be whole. With the right propitiations, handshakes, coverage of clothing, we are told how to appease the powers, defined by other humans who wisely begin by announcing that the first principle and most important concept of our faith is “obedience”. Don’t you find it ironic that the all loving Father of our spirits, the same Father that sent His only begotten has to reveal himself through dreams, visions, secretly in attics and caves or holy rooms in granite buildings with the windows shaded? (I’ve always loved the delicious contrast of the Salt Lake Library with its architecture of glass openness compared to the Salt Lake Temple and its fortress of secrecy) You are on to the truth LJAG, and I think you are starting to see this; Is it the case that at one time, in one place, one God created man in His image? Or the opposite; that at many times, in many places, man created many Gods, in his and his own cultural images? The truth is that Gods articulated by human beings probably, most likely do not exist. I know that there are some here that will tell you to put down the Mormon God and hold on to another, but you’ll end up only trade one heavy bag for another, and will have to face the empty doors and turbulent journey yet again.

      I love the movie “Contact” with Jodie Foster. There’s a scene where she is traveling in the space vehicle and belted into a seat that wasn’t part of the original design. It was installed by human engineers that were fearful for her safety in travel. The turbulence in the seat was intense, until the seat actually broke off its hinges and suddenly there was….a smooth calm. Letting go of the safety belt of belief is scary, especially when you stare the abyss of the unknown, about your purpose and future and death. But it also will help you down a road where a self actualization comes by having the courage to define for yourself how important and meaningful your life is to you, and to others. You will come to a quality of living, a purity of love that your actions will be as your motivation comes off from fear of heaven and hell, of reward and punishment, of pleasing an entity that does not exist, but to do it out of love, meaning, deep and abiding satisfaction by putting childish belief away, and defining the terms of your own life. You’re lucky, you’ll maybe taste it before any more time goes by.

      1. What a brilliant post. One of the best I have read amongst thousands and thousands of posts on the matter.

        Deserves it’s own thread over at Reddit, and NOM.

        I read posts like that and am reminded just how tragic it is that there are still people who know the church is (just another in a long line) of man made religions, and yet still waste their precious, valuable time, inside it.

        Beautifully written

      2. Wow! First let me thank you for taking the time to respond in such a thoughtful way. I felt I was getting a text message for Friedrich Nietzsche.

        If I may share with you some further thoughts. After teaching an investigator who was very faithful in her own religion the discussions as a missionary, she asked me a very thoughtful question. She asked, “If someday you discover more truth in a different religion or philosophy, would you have the courage to change?” Without thinking, as only a 19 year old is capable of, I say “Absolutely, I’m a Mormon because I believe it contains more truth than I could find elsewhere.”

        Well I’d had to face the reality that there was more truth in reality than religion, even mine. I had a son who asked me to look into some issues of Church history and doctrine. I have always been very honest with my children and when I got back to him I told him that I thought he had learned that the Church was not what it claimed to be. That was three years ago. Since then the Church has been running away from it’s past at an increasing rate. I would have come to the same conclusions on my own just from the changing positions since President Hinckley’s comments eventually.

        My only real regret is that I wished I had my health to experience life with some agency. Now I am consumed by my pain and dealing with it constantly. I must admit that I am losing my fear and despair regarding death. I wish at times I had the courage to end my life and end the pain. Nietzsche said something like, “The thought of suicide got me through many a difficult night.”

        There is no way I want to trade religions. I see now how tempting the doctrines of the church were to partake of. It was like the apple in the Garden of Eden. After I ate it and found out it wasn’t true, there was no way I could go back. I can’t go back even if I wanted to. But being a parent is like being in a huge vortex that compels one to support their children. I want to support them in their good actions and if they interpret that as supporting the church, then that is where I am at right now.

        Again, thank you for taking the time to respond so thoughtfully. You can only imagine the cliches I hear from home teachers and members. They are nice people but I feel that their comments are so predictable. It’s like a doll my sister got for Christmas called a Chatty-Cathy Doll. It had a string on it’s neck and when you pulled it the doll would give one of about 10 comments. Unfortunately, members only have a choice of about 3 or 4 and I hear it over and over and over again. You already know but I want to thank you for something original and heartfelt. To the point that I lost consciousness of my pain while concentrating on your words while I read them.

    4. Quote:

      If I could preface this talk with some kind of cautionary about the mortal condition it would be to say, the best thing we can do as human beings is to get a sense of how difficult we make ours and others lives when we confuse social group conformity with obedience and cultural mythologies for doctrine. We seem to struggle with understanding the difference between spiritual transcendence and ‘hot emotional surges’; between saving doctrines and institutional policy; between God and the religious elite; between a Zion community governed by Christ, and ‘Church’. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not found in the singularity of one set of cultural values, nor the power of one particular economic class, nor the seemingly efficacious position of one particular political doctrine. The gospel of Jesus Christ is found in His followers raising a challenge to popular ideas that oppress others, in our need for compassion, and our constant seeking out the presence of God in our lives.

      From a wise person.

    5. Oh LGAJ,
      I’m so sorry for your pain.

      I have prayed more intensely the last three years to verify again the truthfulness of the gospel. Those prayers have not be answered. I have no idea any longer if there even is a God.

      I think if I understand you correctly that you have more than emotional/spiritual pain. I hope my anecdote brings a smile. I remember the apex of my spiritual crisis, a grown man, weeping, enraged, yelling at God, “it was good enough for Korihor, how about me??? Strike me down you bastard!”

      I laugh (heartily) when I relate it now, but the pain was real! Rude dog gave such a beautiful response. I concur completely, you will get to define a new morality, an opportunity that few have and even fewer take.

      Best of luck,
      matt

      1. Instead of going to God with a predetermined decision —- to verify the church is true. Try to go in with a more open/without your mind being made up —– God is the CoJC of LDS really the only true church and teach the truth about You?? With a more open mind you will definitely get an answer —– I did. But if you have already made up your mind —— sorry you will eventually rationalize what your predetermined position is!!! Sorry if the answer shocks you!

  18. I was one of the “lucky” few to get this survey as well. I have been getting different surveys from the church in the last couple of months. Most have been pretty stupid in my opinion. The last one was one church movies coming out and what titles sounded the best or what pictures looked better for a poster.

    I wonder how anonymous the survey really is since it comes into my email address and calls me by my name. Guess we will see if I get called in to the Bishop’s office after my responses. I figure if they are wanting to check a pulse on the church this way I might as well give them what my thoughts really are. I am just glad others that have similar feelings on these issues received the survey so it is more than just 1 person voicing concern.

    1. Hi AM,

      Since you said that you have received many surveys from the Church, I wonder if the new three temple movies (in less than a year) are the result of a recent survey? Do you recall any surveys like that addressing the temple experience while watching the creation movie? I wonder. Thanks.

      1. Hey Sara,

        I didn’t receive any surveys on the new temple movies. But it was about time they updated those old things for sure!

        1. AM,

          Thanks for your reply. It is interesting to note that the three movies convey different experiences and feeling due to the acting of Adam/Eve and Satan. Some of that acting was over the top (my opinion), but that could very well be intentional, with the purpose of awakening different feelings or, literally, to keep temple attendees awake.

          1. Sara,

            I also think it is over the top acting. And goes much slower. I heard that it is slower so they could get the translating to fit the talking better.

  19. I think this is a wonderful approach. I read no malice into this. The church is actually seeking feedback directly from the members, which is always a good thing. We should always be looking for ways to improve and the church is no exception. I took a survey on the temple in the 90s and I think the church reacted favorably.

    1. It is not different than the leaders coming to our localities and surveying us with voice and not on paper. The idea that the gift of discernment is only valid if they have to divine what we are thinking, hoping, struggling with ect. is silly to me. I discern some thing with my children without asking but largely that discernment is amplified as I interact with them, ask them questions, “survey” their troubles and needs. What institution has done more for its people, and for those around them? If the church is not first in this they are certainly leading the way. If the church was simply doing things to be popular or making changes only d/t surveys then they are behind the curve to the populist desires of the day and also of the days gone by.

      1. ” If the church was simply doing things to be popular or making changes only d/t surveys then they are behind the curve to the populist desires of the day and also of the days gone by.”

        Ahem….really? You think they sent out the “Do you agree with the teachings regarding the Church and the Negro?” survey before or after 1978?

        “The idea that the gift of discernment is only valid if they have to divine what we are thinking..”

        “What institution has done more for its people, and for those around them?”

        I got to hand it to you, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a paragraph so efficient and consistent, and I don’t mean that as a compliment.

    2. I read malice into it.

      You want to know why? Because it proves that the leaders don’t actually believe they have the powers from God that they claim to have.

      If the leaders are not able to receive revelation, then the church is a fraud. If the church is a fraud, then they shouldn’t be taking surveys — it’s completely dishonest! They should, rather, *admit* that they don’t actually receive revelation from God and stop deceiving others into thinking they do.

      But they don’t do this. Why? Because they enjoy the status benefits that come from being perceived by others as having power from God. So they keep reaping the benefits while simultaneously doing nothing that they claim to do.

  20. I hope the answers were randomized. Currently the survey has a bias toward the church and the status quo because favorable responses are at the top of each list, and the “strongly disagree” answers at the bottom where fewer people respond. Most survey software randomizes answers to account for this bias, we just can’t tell from one person’s screen-shots.

  21. So the Church and its anointed Prophets, Seers, and Revelators need surveys to know how members feel about issues?! What ever happened to the revelation, inspiration and the gift of discernment?

    1. the Lord wants you to use your brain to see what you think and the Leaders are gathering that data, I don’t see how this is difficult. Do you really think God will just visit Pres. Monson out of the blue and say well, “47% of midwestern LDS women think this way about issue X, the remainder think this etc”

  22. LGAJ,

    Thanks for your comments, as well as those that followed in appreciation of what you said, with their own insight. I am one year older than you, and as a read your remarks it sounded like I could have written it.

    Imagine if the Church did a survey directed to long term faithful members that could read a letter such as yours, and then be asked to respond, with either a written answer or just a “yes” if we agree or “no” if we don’t feel that way. And a follow up survey question to that first question would be: Do you stay in the church, even if you don’t believe in the truth of its founding and the Book of Mormon?

    I am sure they know of these problems, but as you commented, “they have chosen a slow death”. They just have to look at the Catholic Church to give them hope…and see that even with their history of problems they continue to roll on, with a great following throughout the world. An organization can experience slow death and sustain life because new generations are born that will prop it up.

    Thanks to Mormon Stories, there is a forum for great people like you to share your experience. You certainly can’t share these feelings at church, or bare your testimony about it, or confuse your children, while trying to keep harmony and love at home.

    Our church makes it difficult to just live “pure religion”. Man certainly knows how to make simple things complicated. Here is just one example: One would think that when a family member is married, that this event would be a joyous reunion and event for the whole family to experience….especially in our church! The irony of family togetherness as it is played out in our marriages is so sad. We can be “sealed” together forever (wow, that’s a long time), but we can’t be all together in this life (which may very well be the only life we have) to experience the joy of the wedding. I know the importance of “feelings” and “feeling the spirit”. To me the temple wedding rules as well as much of the temple experience feels so wrong. Add that to the survey as well.

    LGAJ, I wish you the best possible life that remains for you. Embrace the good things that exist….your family, music, art, nature, good books, and helping others….sounds like “pure religion”. The church may experience a slow death, but you don’t have to. Keep your chin up and do your best!

    1. That is already happening, many LDS members attending church, however not as faithful or believing as they once were, by inertia or tradition akin to members of the Catholic Church.

      It’s hard to predict where the Church membership will be in the next 25 or 50 years.

    2. The substance of the replies to my comment are amazing. It’s like being held under water and finally let go and being able to breath again. There is a compassionate understanding and an acceptance without making those who read my comments uncomfortable. If anyone reading this is around someone in severe chronic pain–I wrote this three years ago, it may help you understand what they are going through.

      My vessel is broken.

      From the top of my neck to the ends of my toes.
      Painkillers make it a little easier; but its just a way of passing time.
      I try to go without them, but I eventually go back for more.

      My vessel was suppose to be better by now, but it is not.
      There is no end in sight.
      I haven’t even entered the tunnel yet, I guess.
      No one knows for sure.

      My eyes see out and my ears can hear but my mind is weary and confused.
      Gravity makes standing a burden and sitting makes it worse.

      I am a prisoner on my back in my room.
      I don’t need a guard to keep me there.
      My vessel is my guard, and asks, “Is there any purpose to suffering.”

      My spirit finally acknowledges:
      “Pain is less permanent than time.
      That’s all I can tell you right now. That is it!”

      There are others around me, but I am always alone with pain.
      Others asks for what they want and move on.
      Pain doesn’t ask, it tells and stays.

      I think pain likes me just the way I am.
      It’s the “friend” I never wanted.
      Just pain and me on an uncharted island.
      I don’t think anyone is trying to find us.

      So I ask pain, “Why?” and it responds,
      “I don’t know any more than you.
      I’m just doing my job.
      I will leave when my purpose is finished.
      Then you will know why, and can tell me.”

      My vessel is broken.”

      Please be as understand of those in severe pain as we are willing to understand those going through a faith crisis. Going through both at the same time has made me a near idiot. When the Bishop asked me if there was anything he could do for me I said yes, “Can you change me from a HP to a U?” He didn’t know what I was asking. I said I would like to change my membership records from a High Priest to Unaccountable. He said “No, if I did that everyone including myself would like that classification.” He is a nice person. He said that after seeing his mother suffer with a similar condition and knowing her before and after, he was of the belief that a person in pain is unaccountable in many ways.

      Sorry for the ramblings.

      1. Everything you just wrote is exactly my life as well. Same thing, pain from head to toes. I know what you’re experiencing. I feel like I’m just passing time waiting to die. Purpose? Yeah ice wondered and keep coming to the conclusion that there isn’t one. Not that I can see. So.. pain is also my unwanted friend for 13 years now. Pain killers and other prescriptions? Yeah me too. Same thing. A way to distract myself for a moment from the pain until they wear off. I hear echoes in my head of my doctor saying “now remember, careful. These are highly addictive” and the frustration inside me as I nod my head silently, but inside I want to scream “fine then YOU take it and be careful and don’t get addicted, see how well YOU DO!” I believe in god. I do not there is one. I believe in the church only because it’s the only hope I have. All the while knowing I’m probably just self-deluded. I don’t know. I don’t much of anything anymore. This disease has changed my life. I tell people it’s easy to believe when you’re feeling good. That’s my opinion. Everyone needs to find their own path. Just I ask one favor, please don’t create a theodicy for me. Just mourn with me. Cry with me. That’s all.

  23. If people would just stop saying that the king has no clothes, the kings would stop acting like they have clothes. The brethren have a history being wrong on almost every major social issue in the past 100 years. Why anyone pays attention to them as men guided by god is beyond me. They were wrong on blacks and the priesthood, Women’s rights, homosexual rights, etc… , they change positions on doctrine. Doctrines based upon revelation and never show the new revelation. They just decide/decree that this is how it’s going to be without showing the written revelation, as spelled out in the D&C. The thing that is the most disconcerting is that they are never asked to be accountable for their positions and comments by the ACTIVE members. I’m sad that we have a church run by a legal division, who regularly meets with the PR department. It bothers me that the quorum 12 and/or Thomas S Monson sent Ally Isom to answer questions regarding Ordain Women, rather than to answer the questions themselves. Christ never hid from the Pharisees or Sadducees.

    Show me the revelation that changed the Word of Wisdom to a commandment? Show the revelation that changed the new and everlasting covenant into a sin worthy of excommunication? Show me in the BofM, D&C or PoGP where the church’s position on homosexuals is defined? Where is the scripture that states that women cannot hold the priesthood?
    Are commandments commanded because they are good or are the good because they are commanded? In our present day church, they are good because they are commanded; commanded by men. If the lord has not given us a clear revelation on these matters, then let’s stop pretending we/they are speaking for the lord. Say “We don’t know” and then leave it alone. My fear is that we create god in our own image, who happens to have the same prejudices and insecurities as we do, which defeats the whole idea of coming to Christ.

    I love the Lord and his gospel. I just wish the brethren had faith in the Lord’s church. My frustration is with the brethren. Why are they so concerned about what the members think? Is it the member’s church or is it the Lord’s church?

    Have faith in the divinity of Christ’s message. Have faith in the divinity of his church and don’t worry about what has not yet been revealed to us. If we believe that god is omniscient, all powerful and at the helm, why do we care about a focus group or a survey?

    I’m still working on loving and forgiving others. Trying to let the love of Christ permeate who I am, so that being Christian disciple is as natural as waking in the morning.

  24. I won’t get into the whole “why do we need surveys when we have prophets and seers?” I agree with those statements and won’t dive further into them.

    However, if you’re going to release a survey, why only a 1000 people? That seems like an extremely low number. And of those 1000, how many will actually reply? The sample size will get even smaller since not everyone will respond. Will the return give an accurate representation of how people feel? Why not 20,0000?

    Lastly, the Church once again seems to be doing things ass backwards. They played their part in the whole debacle a couple months with all the media hoopla revolving around John and Kate. Then when the dust settles, they quietly go ahead and try to get a feel for how members feel about the current issues? It seems like they don’t know what they are doing and really lack direction. I guess they are at least seasoned on how to deal with people who question, though.

    Having been converted at the age of 19 ten years ago, these guys are certainly not the “special witnesses” I was told they were. Or at least, the Church doesn’t function like they want people to think it does.

  25. PR companies and now the social media consultant directed grass roots campaign kicked off with a “major motion picture” premier and wide release is both a turn off and super creepy to me. Am I alone on this? See instagram hash #meetthemormons and convince me that I am wrong this all looks horribly fake, culty, and reeks of a multi-level marketing company doing a pre-launch or sales conference. Where the hell is my driver on this one? This could very well be the tipping point for me– from faith crisis to abandoning the whole thing entirely and sending off the letter.

  26. I’ve looked all over lds.org and can’t find this survey. I’d like to take it. I can’t even find a single page designed like that one. You know, the while bounding box around the header and content, then the white text that doesn’t match any other font on LDS.org. In fact the font used for the survey questions doesn’t match any other font on lds.org. It seems like it would be easy to find and easily recognizable. Throw me a bone, or at least a URL.

    1. This survey was sent to a select few via emails which included the link to the survey. It’s not meant for the general membership but a just a few. This is unfortunate because a few (however many that means) don’t represent most of the members of the [worldwide] church.

  27. As a sincere seeker of truth, I visit this website from time to time and I have to say that I appreciate many of your thoughts, opinions and questions as they are reflective of my own.

    I have to say, though, that I am a bit taken aback by some of these comments. It seems like in some people’s eyes, the church is damned if it does and damned if it doesn’t.

    During the John and Kate excommunication ordeal, I read comment after comment about how the church was “out of touch” with what its members thought wand felt and many expressed anger and frustration about feeling as if they had not been heard.

    Well, here you have it. The church is asking. This was what everyone wanted, right? So now that they are actively looking for opinions like we wanted them to, we’re supposed to be angry?

    I don’t see how this survey is “leading” the participant, either. Having taken several statistics and research methods courses in both my undergraduate and graduate experiences, while I agree the results would be stronger with a larger sample size, I cannot see why people are being so critical.

    I am not apologizing for the church but I do feel that we should at least be fair and try to see things as objectively as possible. We’re either upset that the church is out of touch or we’re upset because they’re taking a survey. One or the other. We cannot have it both ways.

    1. It’s how the Church takes care of finding out about the issues and the concerns in the minds of many of its members. Whatever happened to discernment, inspiration, and revelation? After all, our top 15 leaders are prophets, seers and revelators.

      I’m taken aback by this approach. This approach is so marketing-driven, almost number-driven. It’s OK for a Wall Street company conducting a survey about why its products do not sell well or how to increase awareness about the benefits of something they sell but not by the Church of Jesus Christ. I don’t know what to think.

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