Not So Fast
The jury of parents is out when it comes to fasting. People were equally split on whether fasting is good for kids age 8+, bad for everyone, or bad for kids but OK for adults. If the church has a clear stance on kids’ fasting, it’s not well understood. I tend to think that it’s one of those “not commanded in all things” things.
Perhaps it is unsurprising that internet Mormons are wary of the church’s online presence. 89% would never or rarely share church-generated inspirational memes; a full 62% said they wouldn’t at all because they aren’t a total psycho. Almost nobody thinks missionaries on Facebook is a good idea. Only 4% think this is a genius move. Others are mixed. A third believe it will be a PR disaster, a third see it as only slightly better than knocking doors (also ineffective), and the last third see it as an idea with mixed potential.
All Things Being Equal
2014 was the year of equality. Attitudes about equality changed a lot, and the vast majority of readers are in favor of equality between the sexes.
The age change for women (and men) didn’t result in readers thinking mission service should be obligatory for women; on the contrary, over 70% of those polled felt that mission service should be equally voluntary for women and men, wishing the church would back down on the disproportionate pressure for men to serve.
Not all areas are viewed as equally. A full 60% would require a woman to carry a baby to term in some circumstances against her will, and only 62% would hold both spouses equally responsible for the financial support of the family. Only 50% favor ordaining women (although 78% feel women should be involved in all decision making bodies), and 28% would keep Primary as the main purview of women, rather than equal service between men & women.
72% felt that God sees the sexes as equal, and agree that feminism is perfectly compatible with Mormonism. 8% feel feminism is not compatible with Mormonism. 22% have mixed feelings about the compatibility between feminism and Mormonism.
By contrast, most readers report that their wards don’t share their views of equality. Pants (on women at church) are only for pariahs according to 79% of readers polled. 85% of wards generally accept working women, particularly if they are secondary earners. Only 11% have negative attitudes toward working women (pity or disdain), although an additional 38% consider women working as less than the ideal.
22% report that their wards generally have men saying the closing prayer rather than women. 84% report budgeting disparity between YM and YW that favors more fun, expensive activities for the boys than the girls. Only 16% claimed full budget equality, and 14% stated that the girls’ budget is a shoestring compared to extravagant fundraisers for the boys. A similar 12% stated that recognition for the boys is significantly better than for the girls whose achievements are often overlooked. 66% report very sexist attitudes among their ward leadership, either only talking to women through men, micromanaging women, or requiring priesthood approval for all female decisions.
There was a fairly even split between ward attitudes on modesty with a third lecturing women and YW repeatedly, a third following conservative norms but not addressing deviations or being judgmental, and a third being very welcoming and open to all regardless of female dress habits.
The most discouraging result related to baby blessings. Most wards do not invite women to hold their babies during blessings, and 15% specifically told women who asked that their request was inappropriate! Only 2% reported being in wards in which women have held their babies during blessings (including my own ward in Singapore!). 69% of wards are fairly traditional in terms of attitudes toward male roles, but there is acceptance of men who differ among about 33% of wards, although only 11% report notable diversity for men in leadership.
Proclamation Pros & Cons
53% of readers dislike the proclamation, but 66% state that their wards strongly defend the Proclamation. 50% view it as the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. Over a third view it as anti-gay political propaganda written by lawyers. A fourth of readers considered it inspired, divine advice, full of timeless truths.
63% feel that the only reason the church won’t condemn polygamy is that it undermines Joseph’s credibility and the restoration, although 48% of readers believe Joseph’s motives were not divine. Only 20% believe God wanted Joseph to practice polygamy. 63% of readers felt that the 1890 ruling was wrong, that polygamy should be legal, although 42% said they would leave the church if the church embraced polygamy again. Fewer than 30% felt that polygamy should be against the law.
Science Beats Religion
This one may not have been a huge surprise. Only 6% trusted religion more than science when the two conflict, but the remainder were split nearly evenly between favoring science outright, viewing the two as complementary and not in conflict, and preferring to defer judgment for a future date.
Best Served Cold
We asked readers what they would do if they would never be caught. Scary. While it is perhaps unsurprising that 30% would have sex with a person who is out of their league if they would never be discovered, a full 29% would use their anonymity to exact revenge on an enemy, including 9% who would kill or allow that person to die. The internet is full of dark hearts, apparently.
58% report feeling their patriarchal blessing is very personal, special to them and inspired. A full 10% said it was like God was speaking directly to them. Wow! Only 4% considered their tribe assignment to be literal and genetic.
Doubters Not Welcome
Two thirds of readers felt that doubters leave because they are not welcome by others in the congregation, whereas a third feel that doubters leave due to the nature of their doubts.
Leading in the Gospel
The majority of readers (70%) felt that leaders do well at speaking with authority, although only 11% believe leaders know much about church history, and only 13% see leaders as correctly interpreting scripture. Perhaps all those talks about talks and Teachings of the Presidents of the Church lessons have backfired somewhat. Around 15% feel church leaders receive revelation, have the gift of prophecy or know the will of God. 23% believe leaders teach correct doctrine. Over 40% see them as good parents who give generally good advice. But a similar 40% see the church’s focus on rule, outward appearance, and obedience making it harder to live the gospel rather than easier.
Joseph Smith’s Martyrdom
While 70% blamed Joseph’s martyrdom on his enemies, nearly 50% of readers also felt that Joseph’s unwise actions contributed to his martyrdom, and 8% felt that his time had come, and that for the movement to continue, leadership had to change at that time. (Bear in mind that this particular poll was conducted before the polygamy essays were even published.)
Universal Spiritual Health Care
Only 6% of readers viewed baptism and Mormon ordinances as required to be saved. The rest felt that there is a path to salvation for all to get where they want to be, regardless of faith or ordinances. 18% felt that following Jesus was enough. 23% pinned it on testing & personal growth during mortality. 46% said it depended on one’s desires.
Mayo & Dark Chocolate
A majority of readers preferred mayonnaise (45%) to Miracle Whip and dark chocolate (43%) to milk chocolate. Probably not together, though.
Check the Caller ID
While only 8% said they would dodge the bishop to avoid a calling they don’t want, 24% said they would never refuse a meeting with the bishop. Others would refuse one for a variety of reasons: bishops having bad manners (29%), meetings that are too early (24%), not giving a reason for the meeting (40%), and schedule conflicts (56%). Don’t call us, we’ll call you.
The Curious Case of Tom Phillips
45% of readers believe that Tom Phillips, regardless of his open antagonism of the church, can’t be excommunicated because he received the Second Anointing.
Show Dick Some Respect 
81% prefer calling others at church by their first name, although 36% prefer honorific titles for leaders, both men & women. 66% are worried that standing for apostles is too much like worshiping them or looks cult-like, although 26% feel it’s important to show respect for the office if not the man.
A Little Off the Top
85% of respondents consider circumcision to be either harmful or barbaric. However, this poll was off the hook in terms of responses, weighing in at over 1500 people, far more than any other poll this year. Results are likely skewed. Only 13% viewed it as a good thing, either for health reasons, social reasons, or at minimum benign.
It’s nearly unanimous! 97% feel that banning beards for leaders is a harmful practice either because it puts cultural preferences on par with the gospel or because it causes people to feel unwelcome and creates a lack of diversity. Nearly 70% believe that the dislike for facial hair stems from outdated anti-hippie notions from the 1970s.
Mother Eve Rocks
49% think that Eve was super smart and figured out the answers to the test by eating the fruit. Sucks to be Adam, but his new best-seller Garden of Eden for Dummies is bound to be a hit.
Any of these surprising to you?
 Bender, The Breakfast Club. The next screw that falls out is gonna be you, Bender!