We’ve been conducting a weekend poll regularly here at Wheat & Tares.  Some of the insights are no-brainers. At times, there is a result that takes me by surprise.  Here are some of the most surprising insights (to me) from a year in polls:

For Whom the Wedding Bells Toll

“Is it my turn to put the recycling out or yours?”

68% of readers believe Jesus was married.  I was actually slightly surprised this wasn’t higher given the intersection between traditional Mormon views and The DaVinci Code.  My guess is that this number is somewhat lower for most other faiths, but higher among readers of Dan Brown’s books.

Lust, Actually.

49% of readers believe Oliver Cowdery’s assessment, that Joseph Smith had an affair with Fanny Alger.  The surprising part was the gap between this fairly high percentage and the much lower percentage, only 23%, who believe polygamy was motivated by Joseph’s strong sexual appetite. Why buy the cow?

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

42% of readers believe the three Nephites and John the Beloved are walking the earth today.  Incidentally, only 8.6% believe Cain is still walking the earth.  So much for “only the good die young.”

Sorry, Oliver Stone.

Nearly twice as many of our readers believe George W. Bush misled people about weapons of mass destruction (35%) than believe there was a larger conspiracy surrounding JFK’s death (19%).  I thought everyone believed there was a larger conspiracy surrounding JFK’s death!  Color me surprised.

Take Me to Your Leader.

16% of readers think the wrong guy was picked to succeed Joseph Smith.  (Brigham’s still got 84% of the vote, though).  Clearly this isn’t something people are going to share in Gospel Doctrine class anytime soon.  It probably doesn’t help that we keep disavowing so much of what Brigham Young said, or that so much of what he said (that is repeated on the internet anyway) is racist, sexist, or ludicrous.

No Flipping Way!

One in three voted these shoes off the island.

People predictably didn’t think a hot dog costume was appropriate to wear to church (67% balked at this), but I was shocked to see that one of the most objectionable items to wear to church was flip flops (31% said no way)!  Living in hot climates, these are more common than women wearing pants which only 6% found objectionable.  Just to put it in perspective, the percent of readers objecting to flip flops was nearly the same as those objecting to visible back hair (34%)!

Follow the Prophet, Maybe.

We indoctrinate our kids with the cult-like chanting of “Follow the Prophet / He knows the way” from age 3, we frequently hear statements that “When the brethren speak, the thinking is done,” and yet, we don’t really believe it.  Only 25% of readers said that whatever the prophet instructed in terms of change would be OK by them.  I’m glad this wasn’t much higher, but I suspect it would be higher in many wards (not in practice, but in how people would poll).

For specifics on changes people would welcome, readers would be thrilled if more callings were extended to women (80% wanted women to be called as clerks and Sunday School presidency roles) or even ordaining women (61%), but not so excited if polygamy were reintroduced (93% opposed its reintroduction) or we were instructed to gather in Zion (88% did not want to pull up roots and head to Missouri).  73% wanted an overhaul of church manuals, a number I’m surprised wasn’t higher.  I suppose a few manuals were just redone.

The Cleaning Crew

87% of readers feel pretty strongly that the church should be hiring janitors again rather than relying on members to do it; 71% felt hiring janitors was important in this economy,  and an additional 16% felt it should be done as paid work by members receiving church welfare assistance.  There was also a strong dislike for leaders assigning church cleaning to members rather than having members sign up (75% said it was either inappropriate and presumptuous or that it was ill-advised and would backfire).

Conversely, the majority of readers felt that it was mostly OK to ask people to do for free as a calling what they do professionally:  57% said yes within reasonable time limits, 34% said anything goes unless the member objects, and 29% said it was OK so long as it didn’t hurt their professional business.

Janitors must be a special case then, or it could be related to it taking work away from professional cleaners.  Maybe if it were a calling this view would change.

Goodbye, MPAA

Only 12% of readers made the decision to not see a movie using “no R-rating” as a proxy.  Between 60 and 65% made their decision about movies based on content (violence and nudity), quality, or which actors were featured.

Permissible =/= equal.

O Ye of Little Faith!

Less than 9% of readers thought that a woman would pray in General Conference in 2013.  Yet one did at the very next General Conference.  Women praying in General Conference is the definition of baby steps toward treating women as equals, but we’ve become so jaded we don’t even expect tiny gestures anymore.  When it comes to progress, maybe we should aim higher after all!

What new insights about Mormon culture did you gain in 2013?