To the Fence Sitters Regarding the LDS Gender Issues Survey

right and wrong checkbox on a blackboardThe fear of Mormon intellectuals has raised its ugly head again, which is ironic considering Mormonism lauds the pursuit of knowledge as a way to worship the Creator. This time, the kick back pertains to the Gender Issue Survey being widely circulated on social media. The Millennial Star argues forcefully that the survey is, in essence, little more than a conspiracy crafted by intellectuals to promote agitation for female ordination. Those behind the survey, however, state their goal is “to capture a more nuanced view of gender issues in the Mormon church than is captured by existing (and often-cited) surveys.”(They specifically link to the 2011 Pew Research Survey of faithful, practicing Latter-day Saints and their views on women in the priesthood.) The great irony is, of course, that agitation against this survey, if successful, will guarantee skewed data. To those who are on the fence about whether or not to participate in the survey, I offer a few things for your consideration.

First, intellectual pursuit is doctrinal. Brigham Young said, “Every art and science known and studied by the children of men is comprised within the Gospel” (DBY, 246). And: “The religion embraced by the Latter-day Saints, if only slightly understood, prompts them to search diligently after knowledge. There is no other people in existence more eager to see, hear, learn, and understand truth (DBY, 247).”

Mormons need never fear the pursuit of knowledge. The Gender Issues Survey aspires to a broad pool that accurately reflects the population. No effort has been made by the authors to limit the participation of conservative or traditional Mormons, and yet some conservative and traditional Mormons seek to discourage participation from like-minded Saints. I encourage these disturbers of the academic process to think beyond their fear. The information gleaned could be used in many positive, Mormon-friendly ways. For instance, in retention efforts, in missionary efforts, in curriculum efforts, etc. Those among us who are trained social scientists are giving the rest of us the opportunity “to see, hear, learn, and understand the truth” of who we are. Participating in the survey, for me, is a way to express to my Heavenly Father that I want to better understand my people, and, therefore, myself.

But let’s get specific. The big concern seems to be that the survey questions are biased. The Millenial Star singles out this question as fitting that bill:

Which statement comes closer to your own view, even if neither is exactly right?

  1. A good Latter-day Saint should obey the counsel of priesthood leaders without necessarily knowing why.
  2. A good Latter-day Saint should first seek his or her own personal revelation as the motivation to obey.

The bias, the author contends, is evident because neither option is, in his mind, precisely doctrinal. Therefore, a faithful Latter-day Saint cannot adequately express his thoughts since his thoughts are strictly doctrinal. He views that as unfair.

The writer is making several faulty assumptions, not the least of which is that devout Latter-day Saints all think and practice their faith alike.  He seems, also, to assume that the survey must offer a precisely doctrinal answer (as he understands that) in order to be objective. However, the question clearly asks “which comes closer to your own view,” not which is your own view, nor which is closest to the official doctrinal view. In this way, the question forces objectivity to be practiced by the participant. Does that matter?

We tend to think of objectivity as something that is only the responsibility of the survey writers, but if the survey participants are not objective, if they respond according to an agenda, the results will not be objective either. It is, therefore, the job of the survey writers to develop questions that challenge the participant to carefully analyze his/her own thoughts, feelings, and behavior. And that, I suppose, is the rub that is generating discomfort in so many Latter-day Saints. Perhaps some of those who protest this survey are, at the root, unhappy because it does not allow them to offer answers that will skew the results to support their agenda (the church institution). They seem to see answering in a particular manner as a way to honor God. However, a better way to honor Him is to seek an increase in understanding, knowledge, and wisdom, three things this survey can lead to.

Mormons tend to want to cast things as black or white, as doctrine or not doctrine, as good for the church or bad for the church. It’s tidy. But this survey isn’t about black and white, or right and wrong. Its about human beings and human nature. We all know on some level it is not realistic to view life as either this or that. Humans are complicated, and to be honest, so is our canon, considering it is open to the same degree that Heaven is open.

A blog post at Mormon Women Stand urges its readers to answer the questions according to “God’s perspective.” I do the same. However, my perspective of God’s perspective is more expansive than that of the MWS author. I believe God wants us to pursue knowledge, including self-knowledge, and to strive to access the truth and wisdom that that knowledge carries. When we stand in front of our Heavenly Parents in the next life, we will be standing in front of a pair of intellectuals; they have attained all knowledge, all understanding, all wisdom, and all truth. It’s our job to emulate them.

Put your fear on the shelf. Take the survey. Start the conversation. Begin this journey.

Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand…(D&C 88:78)

sunflowermasses

(For more information the survey, click here and follow the links. You will find biographies of the survey’s authors, as well as Frequently Asked Questions. Here you will find a form the survey authors have created for you to provide feedback about the survey.)

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24 thoughts on “To the Fence Sitters Regarding the LDS Gender Issues Survey

  1. “Those behind the survey, however, state their goal is “to capture a more nuanced view of gender issues in the Mormon church than is captured by existing (and often-cited) surveys.”

    Right, but to what end? They aren’t throwing this much time, effort and money into the project just for the sake of trivia.

    I also think that we both know that the relationship between the church and intellectualism is far more ambivalent than you suggest. After all, it’s (merely) good to be learned so long as you hearken to the Lord and His servants. The idea that intellectuals pose no threat to anybody – especially a church – is historically naive at best.

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    1. First, Jeff, I’m not suggesting the church is attacking the survey. I’m suggesting LDS people are and without reason.The people are not the church. We must make that distinction.

      Second, I teach freshmen level composition and just this week I hammered into my 18 year old students that it is a most basic tenet in academia that a scholar does not reach a decision until research is complete. Only non-scholars assume a position and then craft evidence to support their decision. These scholars behind the survey are doing research with this survey, and that research, when it turns into published papers, will face peer review. The peer review process will stop publication if the papers are faulty in the way so many mainstream Mormons fear. They simply could not have the institutional support they have if their motive was to destroy the church.

      I repeat, the only people who are skewing the results are the large hunk of conservative and traditional-minded people who are refusing to be heard. It looks like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me.

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      1. Naismith

        Without reason? I am an LDS person who makes a good chunk of her living designing surveys. Please let’s not pretend that the question wording does not matter. It’s like saying that you can use a bent yardstick and still come up with an accurate measure.

        A recent example of this is polling around Obamacare. When asked about Obamacare, many are negative. When asked about the specific aspects of Obamacare, people are positive. The name makes a difference. Question wording makes a huge difference.

        I have no idea what a good Mormon is, I don’t particularly strive to be one, and I could care less what others believe or do as long as they don’t rape or murder.

        Of course you are welcome to encourage folks to participate, but to criticize them for not–well, who is being judgmental here?

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        1. As I’ve stated already in comments, I think its a fair criticism that I don’t have enough evidence to assign resistance to the survey to anti-intellectualism, but I have seen enough comments to rationally conclude that there is an anti-intellectual sentiment toward academics because of their personal life. If I were writing this post today, I’d alter it to indicate that, but its published. So there it is. I have to take that lump.

          I continue to have a real problem with the way the survey writers have been labeled biased–no, not simply biased–they have been labeled biased against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for reasons as silly as that they didn’t vote for Mitt Romney. (For the record, I voted for Mitt Romney.) You see, I don’t believe any human being is able to be entirely without bias, and, therefore, all surveys and polls will have some bias. You know that if you work in the field. But of course, you do your darnedest to limit bias as much as you can. For some in politics, designing biased polls is the name of the game. It is not in academia. When these professional scholars offer up a survey, even if people detect some bias, the conclusion that the bias is intentionally there to suit a nefarious agenda is beyond the pale. These are human beings with careers that would be seriously damaged if the accusation that they are trying to upset the church’s apple cart (rather than simply gather data to be used for academic purposes) were true. Why would they risk that? I wouldn’t. Why aren’t the critics of the survey equally upset about bias in other surveys? Answer: Emotion is overwhelming them. If a survey proves to be flawed, what happens? An academic throws it out and tries again.

          Let’s not forget that these folks have three institutions with no agenda for or against the LDS church that reviewed and approved the survey. These institutions risk their reputations as well. And yet no one is screaming about the institutions being biased. Only the Mormon academics who are attempting to do what others in the Mormon world have not. So yes, I encourage the fence-sitters to take the survey. I encourage us all to encourage academic inquiry in all the fields of Mormon Studies. One step at a time.

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    2. First, Jeff, I’m not suggesting the church is attacking the survey. I’m suggesting LDS people are and without reason.The people are not the church. We must make that distinction.

      Second, I teach freshmen level composition and just this week I hammered into my 18 year old students that it is a most basic tenet in academia that a scholar does not reach a decision until research is complete. Only non-scholars assume a position and then craft evidence to support their decision. These scholars behind the survey are doing research with this survey, and that research, when it turns into published papers, will face peer review. The peer review process will stop publication if the papers are faulty in the way so many mainstream Mormons fear. They simply could not have the institutional support they have if their motive was to destroy the church.

      I repeat, the only people who are skewing the results are the large hunk of conservative and traditional-minded people who are refusing to be heard. It looks like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me.

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      1. It isn’t the Church attacking the survey but those of us who have experience in academia. Your assessment of how research is done, while admirable, is greatly inaccurate and very naive. Almost all survey research begins with a position, a contention or theory. The very results of polls are skewed by the wording of questions and the choices provided for answers. Having spent my graduate studies reviewing all kinds of research I can spot a survey or poll with an agenda from a mile away. This one fits the bill in every way possible.

        Who exactly stands as the peer review check and balance in this case? Others with the same agenda as those promoting the survey?

        Another flaw in this “intellectual” argument is that data, information, knowledge and wisdom are all very distinctly different things. Just because someone has “letters” behind their name does not mean they are honest or acting in accordance with the will of God. Likewise, just because someone doesn’t have as many letters or any letters behind their name does not make them unintelligent as you and the promoters of the survey suggest.

        You offer about a half dozen fallacious arguments in your post above. Something that a true intellectual would reject out of hand.

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        1. Yes. The work that will come from this survey will, in fact, be peer reviewed by a secret cadre of Mormon and non-Mormon intellectuals who are determined to bind God the way God promises to bind Satan during the millennium. An eye for an eye. I am one of the gate-keepers stationed in front of their den of iniquity. My job is to keep true intellectuals at bay.

          Look, the survey is not perfect. But it is the best thing we’ve got going. I’ll take that. I’ll participate and I’ll watch for the results. It seems no matter what the survey yields, many will judge it harshly.

          And naive? Yep. I own that. I prefer trust to suspicion. And I prefer to believe that the gospel, the church, and my faith can withstand this survey.

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      2. “I hammered into my 18 year old students that it is a most basic tenet in academia that a scholar does not reach a decision until research is complete. Only non-scholars assume a position and then craft evidence to support their decision.”

        This seems like full-blown ideology to me. The sociology of intellectuals and scholar has most definitely overthrown this sacred cow.

        Of course, that is not really what my comment was about. Rather, my comment was merely drawing attention to the impossibility of drawing a line between facts and values – the impossibility of being unbiased – that your posts seems to suggest can and will be done.

        “It looks like a self-fulfilling prophecy to me.”

        I agree, but I think that the same thing can be said in both directions. Intellectuals and scholars are not as sweet and innocently neutral as they like to think they are. (http://edge.org/conversation/the-argumentative-theory) This is especially a problem when the entire process suffers from a shared internal bias. (http://people.stern.nyu.edu/jhaidt/postpartisan.html)

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        1. Look, I’ve read published, peer-reviewed articles that seemed to me based upon faulty studies. It happens. My point in writing this post is to encourage people to participate. Even if a person thinks the survey is flawed, support it.

          My son was a theater kid in high school. We attended every play, often multiple times, even though the acting was imperfect. (Or course, my son’s performances were always the best.) He had a friend in the same theater group who had parents who never came … because the acting sucked, they said. True story. And they missed out. Certainly, I don’t mean to compare the survey writers to adolescents. (May they forgive me for sort of walking into that image.) My point is, sometimes good community members support others in promising efforts, without the expectation of perfection.

          It just seems to me some critics are straining at gnats. Some can’t see the potential for good that can come through supporting Mormon Studies.

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  2. Linny

    I participated in the survey hoping it was in the pursuit of knowledge, and for all the above reasons that were discussed in your article, but anyone taking the survey can tell that the authors are not being honest in their intentions, as prettily-worded as they maybe. They are not looking for honest opinions, because almost every answer I chose I thought “Well, not really, but I guess…” I actually recoiled at the snarky wording like “a good Mormon…” As if there were some checklist that if you do all of the above you qualify as a “good” little believer! The problem with that question is not the answer options but the actual question. This particular survey is hogwash, but you are generalizing the negative responses to it as being anti-knowledge. What utter crap, they are simply anti THIS survey. If you were to present me with a reasonably worded survey with the actual intention of listening to my opinion and not manipulating it, I would be fully on board. So I stand by the Millennial Star’s article, which is criticizing this particular survey, NOT the pursuit of knowledge!

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    1. I’ll accept the criticism that I may have generalized a motive as anti-intellectualism. This occurred because I have read some rather vicious comments in other places that attack the integrity of the academics and don’t hesitate to mention their standing as scholars. So my perception is understandable. Much of what I have read in comments smacks of the anti-intellectualism of the 1990’s. I won’t be the only person who connects those dots.

      So I will repeat: all academic pursuit is conversation. The church PR department runs its surveys and I’m pretty sure they are biased. Consider the BYU survey that asked participants to define themselves as either heterosexual or a person who struggles with same sex attraction. Only choices. The Pew study only surveyed practicing Mormons. The results showed only what practicing Mormons think. But what about all the people who leave the church? What about the people who leave the church? Have you no interest in understanding them? This survey may have its faults, but its attempt is to be broad-based.

      You may be right that opposition to this survey isn’t motivated by anti-intellectualism. It is motivated outrage over something that has not happened. And it shows a wanton distrust of Mormon academics. Neither is not reasonable.

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  3. Marivene

    I am not a fence-sitter, in any sense of the word. I choose not to take a “survey” wherein I feel the questions are worded in a way that twists the interpretation of the answer. This is not the first time I have made that choice, nor do I expect it to be the last.

    While a student at BYU almost 4 decades ago, I also refused to participate in a survey on divorce & sexual practices that was sent to me via “registered mail”. Having no car, I had to walk from the campus to the main post office down on Center Street to sign for this registered letter. When I realized what it was, & found some of the questions to be disgusting in nature, I stuffed it back in the envelope, with the intent to return it in person after the weekend. I forgot about it, until I received 3 more letters. When the postman asked why I hadn’t gone down to sign for 3 letters, & I told him I wasn’t walking that far again to pick up trash, he “helpfully” delivered them the next day! I took all four to the office on campus that had mailed them, where they did not want to take them back, until I gave them a choice. Either I could leave them there, or mail the lot of them to the Board of Trustees. They decided they could take them back, even though they were not completely filled out.

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    1. There has been no interpretation of answers. Remember, they want a WIDE sample, not a sample of only progressive Mormons. That means, considering the LDS world remains conservative and traditional, they likely expect that to be reflected in the study. I don’t accept the assumption that these scholars are trying to craft data in order to prove an agenda. That is unprofessional. And if they were doing that, I repeat, their work won’t pass the peer review process.

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      1. IF they truly wanted an accurate sample for results they would have offered better questions and answers that more accurately reflect the mainstream members of the Church. This survey has an agenda and you can smell it from a mile away.

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        1. Parker

          I too have been involved in survey questionnaire development for many years. Every survey has an agenda–and the nature and purpose of a questionnaire’s intent varies. You, too, have an agenda to convince people that this survey is intentionally slanted to produce results which are unfavorable to the Church. I’ve yet to see a survey where the questions were perfect, but your plea for “better questions” is you asking for questions which fit your agenda, which presumably is to reinforce your perception of what the Church teaches about the role of women. All this survey asks is are there people out there who have a different perception.

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  4. Mike

    Many detractors of our project have not noticed what is on our FAQ page, including points such as:
    the survey going on now was preceded by a representative sample; and
    we are using that sample as a guide to see just how representative (or not) the current sample is;

    Some questions are like opinion polls so that we can learn what percentage of people believe X, and what believe Y. But other questions are forced-choice alternatives, which are commonly used in social science, so that we can learn more about more abstract, theoretically important ideas. Those kinds of questions, however, are not the sort of thing that most people think of when they think of a survey. We recognize that those kinds of questions do not leave people feeling content or happy with the survey because they are not able to select an option that reflects their idea on the subject, but we hope that the responses tell us useful things about factors that are associated with the “opinion poll” kinds of questions.

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  5. Lisa, I am no anti-intellectual. I trust and rely on all kinds of academics and academic research all the time, quite often in connection with Mormonism. But I think everyone, especially academics, has to concede that one’s formulation of questions and the methodology they employ have very important effects on their research outcomes. Accordingly, whether intended or not, surveys like this can be slanted. Moreover, it can (theoretically) be the case that some researchers on hot-button topics might even be motivated, in some cases, to tilt the scales just a little through their verbiage and the choices they set up.

    I don’t know anything about the people behind this survey, and therefore did not formulate any preconceptions about them as I began to take the survey. But as I worked my way through it, the question did arise in my mind whether they were purposefully trying to guide responses in a favored manner, or if they just truly don’t understand Mormons.

    One major example of this, which I haven’t seen much comment on (and the place where I finally threw up my hands and quit the survey) was the long series of questions asking if I “would support” various changes in Church practice regarding women. The way this question was posed (over and over) made it very difficult to answer.

    Would I support having the Relief Society Presidency plan sacrament meeting programs sometime? I can think of maybe ten different questions that the survey might actually be asking here. Do I think that sounds nice in theory? I suppose. Do I think it is consistent with current practice? Not really. Do I think it would be inconsistent with church doctrine? Probably not. Do I think the brethren would accept it? Don’t know. Would I be willing to agitate for it? No. If Church leadership implemented it, would I be fine with it? Absolutely. If Church leadership implemented it, would I welcome it? Sure. Am I unhappy participating in a church where such a practice is not currently in place? No.

    There are so many problems with this kind of question, but the main one is this: Many Mormons leave decisions about the running of the Church to those called to run the Church. That means that there are many things that could be done differently in the Church that I might think would be cool, but none that I would ‘support’ in the sense of trying to publicly advocate for it if not implemented by Church leaders.

    Thus, by trying to make me answer this question as posed, the survey forces me to say either “no, I am a heartless chauvinist who thinks women should not have a voice in administering the church,” or “yes, I support a practice that is clearly not within the Church program at this time and am happy to be counted among those who want to tell our leaders what changes they really ought to make.” My real answer for most of these questions is “this sounds nice, and might help, but I trust the leaders of the Church to figure it out.”

    I would assume there are thousands of LDS people who both would be happy to see various progressive steps taken within the Church, and also are totally at peace with letting the current leaders of the Church figure out what is to be done. For all of those people, in whose number I include myself, this survey was unanswerable. Especially because of the creeping suspicion that any supportive answers of ours might someday be used as a pressuring mechanism on church leaders, in the guise of “all these members of yours said you really ought to do all this new progressive stuff.”

    In short (too late for that now I guess) the survey felt more like a manipulation than a sincere scientific inquiry.

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    1. Ryan, thank you. I think this is a well-presented expression of your concerns and I encourage you to fill out a feedback form (linked after the sunflower image). The writers of the survey are asking for this kind of concrete, well-reasoned feedback and have provided a way for you to communicate it.

      Also, I’d encourage you to return to the survey and consider expressing some of this in the optional, fill-in-your-answer section that follow the multiple choice. I don’t have the set of those questions in front of me, so I can’t recall if some of what you say here would be a direct answer. But from what I recall, they are open-ended enough that you could express, for instance, your feeling about how change in the church should come and how you would react to it. I’m not sure, but it may be possible to answer those questions without answering the others. Perhaps if a survey writer sees this, s/he can let us know. Or someone else who has tried this.

      For the record, I didn’t answer those because I was a) worn out trying to answer the other questions I found challenging, and b) ready to go to bed. But I did begin to answer the first question. THAT question I found flawed because it used language that mirrored an earlier answer choice. It did, indeed, seem to suggest that the writers approved of one answer from the earlier section more than the other. But I don’t think that was enough for me to accuse the survey of serious bias. Bias is certainly a flaw, but not all flaws represent intentional bias. Those open questions at the end were optional and were not part of the data gathering process, in the strictest sense. Kinda were. I really don’t want to argue the semantics of that sentence. The last questions were…different in terms of the data gathering process. I did skip them.

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      1. Ryan Bell

        Thanks Lisa. I did send feedback to the researchers along the same lines I have expressed here. Maybe it will be noted.

        I guess I am more curious about your commitment to get people to participate in a study you find flawed. I understand the point that perfection should not be required. But it’s hard for me to see why it is better to have lots of people participate in a flawed survey than to have few people participate. The higher participation doesn’t necessarily make the data more reliable. Rather, in my view it’s more likely to accentuate the flaws, at least by lending greater prominence and superficial credibility to the study results. Would you disagree?

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        1. Easy. I don’t think its seriously flawed. Not that I’m a social scientist. I’m sure not. And neither are the voices that are accusing this survey of some sort of heinous bias directed at harming the LDS church, or pressuring the church. The thing is, Ryan, I tend to not like being combative, though sometimes the snark slips out. So I’m willing to acquiesce and say, “Okay, maybe it has flaws.” You know, agree with your “enemy” when you can. I don’t have the expectation that any survey will be perfect. I see academia as a journey toward a goal that we never really reach, considering that goal is complete knowledge and understanding. And I also genuinely think we must, as a community, support academic efforts in Mormon Studies. If the survey fails, I trust these professionals to recognize it, to acknowledge flaws. If they don’t, I’ll speak against that. But we don’t have results and we sure don’t have foreknowledge of what they will do with the data, other than what they say. So, as a Mormon interested in the furtherance of Mormon Studies, I support this effort. If it fails, I expect this group of scholars, or the next group that comes along, to improve. I’m simply not concerned about failure. Failure can be the best thing that happens to people. Subterfuge, however, or an intentional effort to thwart the process of discovery out of fear of an agenda that might damage to the protestor’s agenda …. That crosses a line for me.

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        2. Easy. I don’t think its seriously flawed. Not that I’m a social scientist. I’m sure not. And neither are the voices that are accusing this survey of some sort of heinous bias directed at harming the LDS church, or pressuring the church. The thing is, Ryan, I tend to not like being combative, though sometimes the snark slips out. So I’m willing to acquiesce and say, “Okay, maybe it has flaws.” You know, agree with your “enemy” when you can. I don’t have the expectation that any survey will be perfect. I see academia as a journey toward a goal that we never really reach, considering that goal is complete knowledge and understanding. And I also genuinely think we must, as a community, support academic efforts in Mormon Studies. If the survey fails, I trust these professionals to recognize it, to acknowledge flaws. If they don’t, I’ll speak against that. But we don’t have results and we sure don’t have foreknowledge of what they will do with the data, other than what they say. So, as a Mormon interested in the furtherance of Mormon Studies, I support this effort. If it fails, I expect this group of scholars, or the next group that comes along, to improve. I’m simply not concerned about failure. Failure can be the best thing that happens to people. Subterfuge, however, or an intentional effort to thwart the process of discovery out of fear of an agenda that a person fears may be damaging to their agenda …. That crosses a line for me.

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  6. I’ve kind of waited until some of the hulabaloo has died down because I like to be able to think about things for a while. I guess that means my brain likes to marinate information. I took the survey and I thought it was interesting. I read both supporting and non-supporting info beforehand. So I knew what to expect. In my humble opinion, I think that the reason why people are getting so worked up over this whole thing is that they are unable to just read and decide on an answer for themselves. Instead of doing that, so many people decided that they could not possibly answer unless they somehow understood the motive or the ‘real’ message behind it. I think it’s very telling of our church that we read so much into a series of simple questions. For example : the comment above read as follows: “no, I am a heartless chauvinist who thinks women should not have a voice in administering the church,” or “yes, I support a practice that is clearly not within the Church program at this time and am happy to be counted among those who want to tell our leaders what changes they really ought to make.” However that wasn’t the question. In fact that wasn’t even close to the question… but that seems to be the interpretation that so many are seeing. This is really fascinating because this survey has caused so much contention…why? I believe that it was misplaced anger. Some claimed that it was because the questions that it asked, but I believe that it was instead… the extreme emotional response that it caused when it’s readers were asked to simply make a choice. I think it tells us how much the gender issue is effecting people. I think it’s also telling of our mindsets about tradition vs progressive-ism in the church. Mostly I find it interesting that so many angry/outraged/upset responses are mostly about denial. The people who want to choose the option that the Relief Society should not organize Sacrament want to choose it and yet also feel the need to justify it by saying “I AM NOT SEXIST”. This isn’t a reflection of the questions, but it is very much an accurate reflection of how WE feel these questions make us LOOK…as in, do we look sexist if we say no? Or how about the question given in the MS example. Do we obey the bishop or look to our own revelations for answers? Everyone wanting to pick “obey the bishop” is now yelling out “WE ARE NOT SHEEP” in response. Why? For a lot of reasons, probably – but when you have feelings like the survey is “making you choose between being a blind sheep and a radical” or ” no matter how I answered it would be used against me” or “I clicked on the original link to the start of the survey, thought for half a second, and closed it immediately. It just didn’t feel right” or ” I felt like I had to give answers that aren’t mine.” This kind of paranoia, fear and ridiculousness occasionally runs rampant in our church and it is so unhealthy for us, emotionally and spiritually. It’s childish.
    There’s plenty of reasons of why people felt this way. My guess is that many are unable to make a decision and personally own it.
    This is important. I learned a while ago that if I get angry at something like this, it is NOT the fault of the messenger. It’s MINE. Do you hear that? If I’m uncomfortable being asked a question, it’s because *I* need to find an answer that I am comfortable OWNING.
    So for all of you out there who are enraged – the only way to get over it is to find peace in being comfortable with your answers. I was. I thought the survey was thought provoking. But that’s because if anyone ever asked me what I’d do if I was faced between choosing to obey my bishop or seeking my own revelation, I know EXACTLY what I would do. All of you who don’t – then perhaps you need to ask yourselves – what are you so afraid of? Maybe it will lead to some valuable self-reflection.
    For the record – I think EITHER answer could be correct.
    I choose to obey because I have faith that if I follow my priesthood leaders, I will be blessed.
    I choose to seek an answer for myself because I know that the Lord will answer my prayers.

    Good grief people. It’s not rocket surgery.

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