Today we have a guest post from a Wheat & Tares reader who wishes to remain anonymous.

Two friends of mine received official Church surveys in 2022 and took screenshots of some of the questions. The surveys addressed quite different topics, but the last multiple-choice questions were very similar as they invited respondents to categorize themselves as one of five types of Latter-day Saints. The options were slightly modified between February and October, and the changes are interesting, as is the entire exercise itself.

The final question attempts to determine the respondent’s level of commitment to the Church, but the statements are not directly comparable or internally consistent. That is to say, the second and third sentences do not always follow from the first. The spectrum of religiosity offered, however, seems to be the way that Church leaders think about and categorize members. It’s their Overton window, as it were.

Original version – Feb. 2022; Revised version (with changes in bold) – Oct. 2022

Members of the Church have a variety of life circumstances and perspectives. Below are five statements from different members about their religious and spiritual mindset. Even though your perspective might not match perfectly with any of these descriptions, which one do you feel currently represents you the best?

● I am committed to the gospel, but personal spirituality is more important to me than being institutionally religious. I may attend worship services regularly, but I don’t feel obligated to attend every week meeting. As a Christian, I value being open-minded, fair, and tolerant.

● I am committed to the gospel, and the Church plays a central role in my life. Participating in Church programs and activities is an important way to support the Church I believe all of its teachings. I usually read my scriptures daily. I think members should be strictly obedient to the counsel they receive from their priesthood leaders.

● I primarily belong to the Church because of family, tradition, culture, or community. I usually enjoy participating in the Church socially, but don’t feel a strong desire to attend worship services every week and feel that God rules more by love than by fear.

● I am generally less interested in religion and/or spirituality. Even though I may believe some Church teachings, they don’t play a large role in my life. I don’t attend church as often as other people do. Sometimes I have been frustrated by the impact of religion on society.

● I am committed to the gospel, and the Church is important to me I try to focus on the practical ways that the Church can help me grow. Members should choose whether to participate in Church programs and activities based on their needs and circumstances follow its teachings and do the things I’m supposed to, balancing with life’s other priorities. I tend to focus on practical applications of the gospel that are most relevant to my current life and family situation.

A few discussion questions:

· Why does the Church feel a need to present these options as if they were statements by actual, individual Church members, when they are clearly not?

· Why has there been a shift away from the criteria of attending and participating in Church meetings?

· Why does only one option include self-identifying as “a Christian”?

· Are any of these options an accurate reflection of your own “religious and spiritual mindset”?

· If you were to write a description of equivalent length that represented you more fully, what would you say?