Mormon Women Stand, a faithful LDS blog that advocates for Mormon women to sit anywhere but on the stand, posted a meme on Facebook yesterday with this quote:
“Inappropriate intellectualism sometimes leads one to testify that he knows the gospel is true but believes the Brethren are just a little out of touch. A prophet doesn’t take a poll to see which way the wind of public opinion is blowing. He reveals the will of the Lord to us.” – Glenn L. Pace
This isn’t accurate. Church leadership does take polls to see what the public thinks. Sure, the prophet hasn’t changed their stance on gay marriage, but the Church has created websites like mormonsandgays.com, softened their rhetoric, and gone from pushing for Prop 8 to supporting legislation that gives gay couples (limited) rights. Women haven’t been given the priesthood, but the Church has started having women pray in general conference, given them more influence in their wards, and female general Church leadership now has regular meetings with the Twelve. Doctrine and ordinances don’t change, except after a poll of members reveals how uncomfortable they are with the endowment penalties.
Despite LDS Women Stand and Glenn L. Pace’s opinion, the Church does use polls. Church surveys are typically conducted by Research Information Division of the Correlation Department, which was founded in the 1980s under Neal A. Maxwell. This allowed General Authorities to have an empirical method of evaluating how members felt about various topics of interest to them. According to the Church Handbook of Instructions, “the only authorized research agency of the Church is the Research Information Division of the Correlation Department. Representatives of this department use questionnaires and interviews to obtain information on issues of concern to General Authorities.” Sometimes surveys are directly posted on the RID website, located here.
Don’t just take my word for it. Here are 16 polls that the prophets were willing to fund, presumably with tithing money, but supposedly completely disregarded when it was time to make a decision.
If prophets don’t consider polls, one must wonder why they are willing to spend widow’s mites to find out how the public feels about these things. So is this gross waste of sacred funds, or prophets determining policy on how the public feels? You can’t have it both ways.
(This post was adapted with permission from a post in r/exmormon)