Friday, August 22, 2014


"To know a person's religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance."

"Give a man a fish, and you'll feed him for a day; give him a religion, and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish."

A couple of months ago I received an email from a ward clerk (record keeper) for a local branch of the
Mormon church. Basically, they want to know if they have my correct address, phone number etc, so that they can appropriately fellowship me (in other words, harass me until I begrudgingly come back to church). I promptly deleted the email in part because I don't want that kind of harassment, and also I don't want to make this too easy for them.

Honestly, I don't oppose the idea of having some missionaries or a home teacher or even a bishop track me down for a lengthy, in-depth religious conversation. I just want them to work for it...

A couple of weeks later I received another email from Mormon church headquarters asking me to take a survey to help them determine "general trends" within the church. Suspecting this to be a mildly clever ploy to pick up where the last email had failed, I declined the invitation. Two weeks later, a reminder email was sent inviting me, the randomly selected church member who's regular church attendance is not necessary for participation, to take this survey. 

While I haven't actually followed the link as of writing this sentence, I have been debating whether or not I should click it. After all, faults aside, the church is often as clever as it is non-random. Not to mention my curiosity often gets the better of me.

But first, I recently came across a new (to me) podcast called "Thank God I'm Atheist" which, being based in Mormon-friendly Salt Lake City, Utah, often discusses Mormon topics and issues. And it turns out that the Church sent out a survey to 1000 random members to see how the general membership feels about the recent excommunication of one Kate Kelly. 

For those who don't know, Ms Kelly is the founder of the "Ordain Women" movement, which consists of hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Mormon women who go to the General Conference Priesthood Session (a male-only, world-wide church meeting) and, being denied admittance to the meeting, walk away peacefully. Now, the reason for Ms Kelly's expulsion from the church's membership is evidently for merely not doing as The Brethren (old, rich, white men) told her to do, namely stopping the quietest protests ever. 

Coincidentally, John Dehlin (about whom I have written before) is also facing possible excommunication from the church for his podcast "Mormon Stories", which addresses difficult issues within Mormonism. Again, his crime is simply not doing as The Brethren have asked, which in his case is to cease bringing up such touchy, disconcerting topics in such a public and accessible way. 

No theocracy would be complete without ample censorship...

Well, let's see if the link to the survey still works (the email specifically asks that I do not share the link, but, meh. Click it if you feel especially dickish). 

Ok, the link works and I have finished the survey (which rather disappointingly had nothing to do with Ms Kelly) and I will post screen shots of the survey along with my responses below: 

Welcome screen:

Starting easy...

Vague preliminary stuff.

 Basic, but getting meatier.

Hmmm, they sure do like to assume I believe in god, even though the very first question was whether or not I consider myself Mormon (nope)...

Eh, more of the same.

More loaded questions assuming a belief in god.

Believe it or not, I still occasionally read scripture passages, although, not for the usual reasons...


More bleh.


Funny how the first option for reasons not to go to church is being offended by people at church. I could have selected more, but I want my primary reasons to be concise and clear.

Just a repeat of the last screen ("is that your final answer?")

It seems that they really want me to admit I don't go to church because of people. Weird.

Ah, a pertinent question.

Ok, ok.

Finally a chance to clear the air a bit. And I had to squeeze in a little Hitchens at the end. 

Trying to fish out other possible reasons for my leaving church. But they don't allow me to explain that the two "life changes" were a direct result of my desire to stop going to church, not the other way around. 

See what I did there?

Come on, really? Given my earlier responses, why would you even ask?

Surprise! There isn't much money in atheist blogging.

More loaded questions. Man, I really want to elaborate on a few of these.


Brown chicken, brown cow.

Pretty sure...

Kind of disappointed that they didn't ask me if I'm living in sin here.

Not sure why this is relevant.

From "god's university" no less.

Suck it.

I actually clicked "yes" at first, which took me to a screen to provide them with a bunch of personal information (sly dogs). So naturally I went back and selected "no", again not to make things too easy.

Not sure if "uncomfortable" is the right word... maybe "sickly", or "bloated".

Yay, another chance to clarify things a bit.

Quid pro quo, if you dare. Buahahaha!

Of course they did.


Anonymous said...

This is Brother Curtis at Church headquarters from the survey invitation. Thank you for filling it out! We're glad we got your feedback.

matt said...

Fantastic! Admittedly I am pleasantly surprised that you actually followed my link in the survey. I hope you look around my blog a bit and let me know what you think.