Recently at a gathering of Saints surveys were distributed with the following question: “What do you consider to be the most vexing/difficult criticism of the Church?” There were 71 responses. My own, decidedly unZiffian tabulation of the results follows. (Many respondents listed more than one, so the numbers won’t all add up to 71.) The numbers in parentheses are the number of people who mentioned the issue. The envelopes, please:
1. Polygamy, eternal plural marriage, polyandry. (21)
2. Blacks and the priesthood; racism. (14)
3 (tie). Gay issues. (8)
3 (tie). Book of Abraham. (8)
4 (tie). LDS a cult; not Christian. (6)
4 (tie). Not believing JS story, history. (6)
5. Church secretive, hides history, not objective, insular, lies. (5)
6 (tie). Secularism; scientism. (3)
6 (tie). Members’ lack of understanding, being uninformed. (3)
7 (tie). DNA and the BoM. (2)
7 (tie). BoM authenticity. (2)
7 (tie). Attitudes towards women. (2)
7 (tie). Kinderhood plates. (2)
The above were the “winners” in that each was mentioned more than once. The following (in no particular order) were mentioned once each:
- Blogs that disintegrate into criticism [surely other than BCC!].
- LDS religion not making people happy.
- Financial secrecy.
- Tea and coffee not unhealthy.
- Current teachings in conflict with earlier eras.
- Joseph not a martyr.
- Church doctrine ill defined.
- Odds against being born on same planet as JC (assuming sole redeemer of universe).
- Masonry and the temple.
- Mountain Meadows.
- Need to treat others well without judgment.
- Too Republican.
There were also some anomalous/humorous responses:
- Baptism [it is unclear from this one-word response what the issue is].
- My daughter’s boyfriend.
- Stupid fixation with Mayans.
I thought this was a fascinating glimpse into the perceptions of ordinary members and wanted to archive it for my own future reference, and throwing it up here was the easiest way for me to do that.
It should come as no surprise that polygamy issues would come in at number 1. That is hardly a secret to Mormon apologists.
But I thought it was fascinating that blacks and the priesthood should come in at a strong number 2. The notion that this is all in the past and we don’t need to address it appears to be less than accurate. (I’m hoping Margaret will see this and comment.)
The high response for issues relating to gays supports the views that social issues are becoming increasingly important.
What other nuggets of wisdom can we glean from this survey data? What can we as a Church do to begin to address such issues?