With the Wheaties upon us, I wanted to take a look at how the blog has been doing for the past year. Here are a few highlights:

  • We had 244,218 visitors to the site during the year, viewing the site 771K times!
  • We had almost 7000 comments made on posts during the year.

Here are a few of our top posts from the year:

Wife With a Purpose: Mormonism’s Alt Right Representative by Mary Ann.
This provided some backstory on Ayla Stewart, the Mormon face of the alt-right movement, who had been claiming that the church supported her message of white supremacy.

Stewart claimed that the church’s original statement on Sunday condemning racism supported her pro-white position in condemning anti-white sentiment. Today the church updated their Charlottesville statement to say that it was never their intent to suggest they were in support of pro-white activism or white supremacy.

Stewart’s views aren’t limited to white supremacy, though. She is also an extreme anti-feminist:

This description covers well Ayla Stewart’s feelings about traditional gender roles. The stay-at-home daughter movementquiverfull movement (advocating procreation), and traditional homemaking all relate to the domestic sphere of motherhood. The patriarchy movement and repeal of the 19th amendment relate to the dominant role of men in both public and private spheres. In blog posts, Stewart advises women to act appropriately: dressing for the weekend (spoiler: blouse and skirt), and top ten points of lady-like behavior (eat slow, don’t stomp, and always smile, among others). And remember, “it’s the duty of every woman to watch her figure closely.”

In a recent address at a so-called #TrueBlueMormon Conference, Stewart argued that anti-feminist beliefs in the Alt Right movement are consistent with the Family Proclamation, the church’s historic position against the Equal Rights Amendment, and New Testament scriptural commands in Ephesians for wives to submit to their husbands.

As Kristine A said in the comments:

I’m very uncomfortable with people writing her off as fringe when all you have to do is wade thru comment sections at DesNews or on the Mormon newsrooms recent FB post to realize a large share of our pew [members] share many of her views, even if they don’t share her methods.

Ever Wonder How Much President Monson Gets Paid? Now We Know by Mary Ann

This was a recap of a MormonLeaks release. As Mary Ann puts it:

The LDS Church touts itself for having unpaid clergy, so many members understandably come away with the impression that church leaders aren’t paid. This not the fault of the church, though. The fact that top leaders receive salaries has been “published in diverse sources and known among long-term and well-read members, historians and Church leaders for many years.” Oh wait, sorry, that was polygamy. Anyway, the church-owned Deseret News argues, “The church long has been transparent about providing living allowances to General Authorities, while not publishing specific amounts.”

In the words of a controversial comment by nrc42:

I’m sick of the “leak-outrage-PR spin” cycle that is the only way we find out anything about the administrative workings of the Church. I’m glad the leaks are happening, but I wish the Church would just be open and honest in the first place.

But, they do make for interesting reading in Mary Ann’s capable hands.

The LDS Dating Crisis by Bishop Bill

From his overview of an article in Time Magazine about the parallels between the LDS and Jewish dating scene, Bill shared some trends:

  • In Utah, there are 3 single women for 2 men (active LDS). The gender gap has grown from 52:48 female to male in 1990 to 60:40 currently.

  • This has been caused by more men leaving the religion than women.

  • The lopsided numbers encourage Mormon men to hold out for the perfect wife, “paradox of choice” I’m dating a 9.5, but I’m holding out for a 9.8.

  • Studies have shown that women are more likely to be treated as sex objects whenever men are scarce.

He also cites another article by sociologist Ryan Cragen positing that the pressure for men to serve missions causes many of them to bail on the religion rather than committing to a mission at increasingly younger ages.

Hedgehog commented:

You’d rather tie yourself to someone now who isn’t a good fit, potentially forever, than marry a non-member who, religion aside, is in all other ways much better suited to you? I’m heartsick at the thought people are doing this to themselves…

Denver Snuffer’s Teachings to be Canonized as Scripture by Mary Ann

This was a news story about the Restoration Edition of the scriptures that was announced at the Doctrine of Christ Conference in St. George, a meeting for Snufferites.

The new scriptures are based on the current mainstream Mormon canon with heavy modification. All verse numbering is eliminated (excepting Proverbs), and chapter divisions have been reworked (excepting the Book of Mormon where chapter divisions were determined by Joseph Smith). Punctuation is minimal “in order to free up the text for greater possible interpretation.”

Their Old Testament and New Testament is based on the Joseph Smith Translation. In the Old Testament the Song of Solomon is eliminated (Joseph declared it uninspired), and the book of Proverbs now includes sayings from both Joseph Smith and Denver Snuffer. The Book of Mormon is based on the 1840 edition, benefiting from Joseph Smith’s corrections to the 1830 and 1837 editions.

The Restoration Edition of the Doctrine and Covenants is radically altered.

Shannon Flynn adds:

I have always been skeptical of Denver because his history is so bad. . . [It] is inaccurate, misleading and very agenda driven. To me, all of his resulting claims become suspect. His rejection of Joseph Smith’s polygamy is exhibit number one. He preaches a powerful message and for the dissatisfied it is easy to embrace. What is most telling is that he continues to lie to himself. He says he is not a prophet and he is not starting a new church. Ya right, Denver! I hope some graduate student in the Sociology of Religion or a related field is taking this on as a project. We are watching a new religion being born right before our eyes. Fascinating.

Commenter Howard jokes:

Does he have any plans to build a mall?

Not Better Off Dead: My BYU Rape Story by Colleen Payne Dietz

Guest poster Colleen recounts her experience as a BYU student who was drugged, held against her will, and raped repeatedly over a horrific weekend by a returned missionary at BYU. As she says:

I do not hold anyone responsible for my rape but my rapist. What I do wish was different for me, and countless others, is the way BYU handles reports of sexual assault. Yes, when BYU launches an Honor Code investigation upon a report of sexual assault, against the victim, this creates a rape culture. An environment where victims do not feel safe to report. And when victims are not reporting, sexual assaults will continue to occur, unchecked.

Her story was part of what has led to significant changes in BYU’s Title IX office to improve how BYU responds to students who are victims of sexual assault.

In the words of commenter Happy Hubby:

I deeply admire you for continuing to fight the fight.

Was Elder Ballard Talking About Robert Norman? by Mary Ann

This was Mary Ann providing more information about Dr. Robert Norman who was identified as a risk to church membership in the MormonLeaked slide “Issues and Ideas Leading People Away from the Gospel.” The post outlines Dr. Norman’s background as a CES instructor who around 2013 began to slide to the right of mainstream, opining on blood moons, talking with angels, and doomsday.

Mary Ann then reviews what Elder Ballard said in an address, cautioning against extreme views among CES employees.

Elder Ballard didn’t seem as concerned about CES teachers following Dr. Norman as much as CES teachers following suit.Like Dr. Norman, CES teachers automatically develop followings because they are, by design, spiritual mentors to the rising generation. Influential CES teachers leaving the church don’t even need to say anything publicly – that action alone can shake testimonies of some who’ve looked up to them for years.

What Do You Get When You Combine Denver Snuffer and Robert Norman? by Mary Ann

Yet another great article by Mary Ann, this one about Mike Stroud whom some have dubbed Snuffer Lite.

Unlike Snuffer, Brother Stroud does not believe the current church is in a state of apostasy. He encourages members to remain in the church with the understanding that the institution is a preparatory organization.

Commenter ReTx says:

I wonder if such LDS ‘gurus’ are not popping up as a reaction to the push to Follow the Prophet. For those who don’t fit in the mold the church leadership are presenting, I can see why someone like him is totally appealing.

The Policy: Remember, Remember the 5th of November by Bryce Cook, new to the blog this year!

Bryce outlines the impacts of the policy to his family, including his two gay sons.

Both served honorable missions, graduated from BYU and are intelligent, thoughtful and spiritual young men. After much soul searching, neither of them felt God calling them to a life of celibacy. They both desire the same thing their parents and married siblings have – a companion whom they can love and cherish and spend their lives with. Before the policy, they had hoped they could still find a place in the church, even if that meant giving up full fellowship and equal treatment. But being officially labeled an apostate made that hope unlikely.

He continues:

And what of our grandchildren? If our gay sons give us grandchildren at some point in the future, church milestones will no longer have the binding, unifying influence they once had in our family. Quite the opposite, while some of our grandkids will look forward excitedly to baptisms, the gift of the Holy Ghost, priesthood ordinations and missions, the children of our gay sons will be excluded, knowing they aren’t allowed to celebrate these milestones along with their cousins because of something their dads did. How do you explain that to a child? The church that has built its image on “the family” has put a giant wedge in my family.

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics? Growth and Decline in the LDS Church by LDS Aussie

In addition to noting the growth in the number of stakes (possibly due to smaller stakes), and membership growth in West Africa and new congregations in Syria and Iraq, LDS Aussie notes the lack of growth in the US, Mexico, and Europe. He opines about possible reasons for the stagnation:

  • MLM effect or market saturation in missionary work.
  • US Culture creating a disconnect in other countries.
  • The church’s politically conservative efforts that are off-putting in many non-US countries that are more progressive.

Brother Sky commented:

 The LDS Church isn’t a worldwide church per se, even though we have congregations in many countries. It’s really still a church whose culture and beliefs are still very much rooted in a kind of mythic, 1950s Mountain West milieu.

Think You Understood What Elder Ballard Was Talking About? You Might Be Surprised by Mary Ann

This was another post about the infamous leaked slide about issues that lead people out of the church. Mary Ann focuses on the green bubbles to the right:

A lot of these concerns involve embracing viewpoints common in earlier periods of modern church history, but current leaders have since distanced themselves from.

She reviews all the things that were being cautioned against by church leaders: affinity fraud, energy healing, and speculative teaching from official and unofficial sources.

From commenter Tyleranodon:

Perhaps encouraging members to think more for themselves, instead of constantly pushing ‘obedience, obedience, obedience’, people might be better prepared to use critical analysis when faced with new questionable schools of thought. Of course that just moves us to the orange bubbles.

Mary Ann rejoins:

Fundamentalist/green bubble activity can usually be backed up with statements from prior church leaders, so openly confronting these guys means publicly acknowledging the stark contrast between past and current teachings. It’s an uncomfortable position for them.

That’s a recap of our 10 most popular posts in 2017. Here’s to a new year, and more fascinating posts by our bloggers.

  • What topics would you like to see addressed in the coming year?
  • What posts or topics not listed here did you particularly enjoy?