Earlier this month, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged all Mormon women to take a break from social media.
Russell M. Nelson, the 94-year-old current president of the Mormon Church, announced on Saturday, October 6th, that all the women of the church should take a 10-day "fast" from social media.
Many have found the timing of Nelson's proclamation suspect. The #MeToo movement has been in the public consciousness for over a year now, and the #BelieveWomen hashtag has been all over Facebook and Instagram in the last few weeks with the Brett Kavanaugh controversy. The thing most people have pointed out, though, is that the mid-term elections are coming up on November 6th. 500,000 ballots were mailed to Salt Lake County voters just two days after Nelson's statement.
That is where a lot of people take notice.
Michelle Quist, a Republican candidate for the Salt Lake County Council, said that she "panicked" upon hearing the news. “I thought, you know, what am I going to do? Social media is such a big part of campaigns, especially local campaigns for candidates who don’t have a lot of money. So obviously I want to follow my church leader’s directions or request, but I don’t want to hurt my campaign,” she explained.
Ultimately, Quist decided on a compromise: she will take the 10-day break from personal social media, but continue her business and campaign presence online. You can always count on religious people for quality cherry-picking.
Sharlee Mullins Glenn, a founder of Mormon Women for Ethical Government, a political activist group, attempted to defend Nelson. “I see absolutely no insidious ulterior motives in President Nelson’s invitation to women of the Church to participate in a ten-day ‘fast’ from social media. I agree that the timing is unfortunate and could look suspicious to those predisposed to cynicism, but the truth is that these General Conference talks are prepared weeks and sometimes months in advance,” Glenn said in an email she wrote to The Washington Post.
Sure, OK. Even if that is the case though, plans could have been amended given anyone's consideration of the timing of the conference. Surely there must have been someone in the organization aware of the #MeToo movement, the Kavanaugh scandals, or the upcoming elections. Did no one think to make some tweaks to the plans for the conference agenda?
Despite Glenn's attempt to defend Nelson, I remain highly skeptical, especially given that we are talking about an organization that is actively embroiled in several scandals of its own, many of which involve abused women.