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"Tithing dollars paid for the survey, LDS members supplied the responses, you would think that LDS members have some claim to be told what the survey reveals."

Why would you think so? Tithing dollars are a consecration of property to the kingdom, not an investment for which we can damand a return. Any blessings we might receive for paying our tithing come from the Lord. Even if we receive nothing in return, we are still indebted (read King Benjamin's words again) and have no right to demand anything. This is a Kingdom to which we have voluntarily submitted, not a democracy. If the steward of the King asks for our input, we should feel blessed, not entitled.

Would you mind pointing me to the official website of the presiding bishopric or the second quorum of the seventy?

Very well said, Jon.

The Relief Society does have a page on the church's website.

I think releasing the survey results to local leaders would help them obtain some valuable insights into what women in the church are thinking.

Dave, I'm not sure if Sister Parkin hasn't seen the results yet because she is marginalized.

The article quotes her as saying, "It might be in a drawer somewhere in this office, but I am not aware of it," said Parkin, explaining that she and her two counselors have been too busy getting acclimated to the assignment since taking control in April"

I'm not sure that she sounds particularly interested in reading it.

P.S. While I agree that we may not have a "right" to see the results because our tithing paid for it, I still think that releasing the results would be helpful to the women of the Church, and if I was willing to participate in the study it would be that much more so. We are this organization of three million women (or whatever the number is now), but we are fairly disconnected from each other in my opinion.

Justin, thanks for the link. Am I the only one who finds things at LDS.org more or less by good fortune rather than by good design? The auxiliary pages provide some handy shortcuts to manuals, etc.

Jonathan, the COB (the leaders and bureaucrats who make decisions and set policies) does release an awful lot of information. What is the basis for determining what information should be released (membership numbers, stake creation, charitable expenditures) or not (comprehensive financial info, survey results)? You can fall back on a rule like "we deserve to get whatever the leaders decide to release," but they obviously require a detailed policy describing just what info should be released to members or not.

What rule do you think they use to determine what to release? (Or, to use different terminology, what tells them what information do we "deserve" or "have a right to"?)

I have observed over the years that the Ensign has published summaries of the results of church surveys, e.g., surveys of returned missionaries.

BYU sociologists who have reported the results of their surveys in recent issues of BYU Studies or the Ensign seem to enjoy the cooperation of the church. I have noticed that they draw their research samples from subscription lists of LDS publications or seminary enrollment lists.

I was curious about one particular paragraph in the article:

"In the 1980s, LDS Church researchers teamed up with BYU sociologists on large projects to study Mormons and their social habits. Because BYU professors published some results in professional journals, in the 1990s all the research like this women's survey was done exclusively by the church's in-house researchers."

Is the writer suggesting that the church was unhappy about the fact that the BYU professors published some results?

The original SL Trib story included a link to a PDF version of the entire survey. It was interesting. I bookmarked it, but unfortunately the link doesn't seem to work anymore:

http://www.sltrib.com/10052002/FullSurvey.pdf

I wish I'd printed out a copy. I remember a lot of the questions being about visiting teaching -- whether women enjoyed it, whether they got along with their companions and the people they visited, etc.

So...you want the Church to break the trust it promised to those that took the survey? What part about "promise not to disclose answers" isn't clear enough?

Lyle, I suppose we need the actual wording of the questionnaire to give a definitive answer, but normally on a large survey that kind of promise implies that the individual identities of responders will not be disclosed and that their individual answers will not be displayed in a way that permits such identification to be made. It does not generally, I think, amount to a promise that no aggregate results will ever be published. The whole point of a survey is to develop aggregate data.

Actually, the results have certainly been circulated within official circles, which might be considered a breach of the confidentiality promise the way you are construing it. I imagine individual responses and possibly even individual identities have been shared internally, which almost certainly amounts to a breach of the confidentiality promise. Of course, "confidentiality" within the LDS Church is something of a fluid concept.

Dave: Good rejoinder. I left that open; as the "standard" practice is as you describe. However, given that the poll was commisioned by & for the LDS Church, I don't think we need to see the actual wording to understand that showing the answers to Church leaders is implied, if not explicit; i.e. the entire point of the survey. Hence, I'm not sure what you mean about confidentiality being "fluid," or how such would amount to a breach of trust.

Aggregate data was compiled...but for use by Church leaders; not for consumption by the media, members or critics.

It seems at least nominally clear that the purpose was to allow those LDS members participating in the survey to "complain" & "comment" to Church leadership w/o doing so in public; which is highly discouraged & which propriety is much debated here in the 'nacle.

Sum: Shouldn't we see this as a conversation between individual members & church leaders in a macro format, and thus due the privacy of the confessional without complaining that it isn't democratic or X, Y or Z?

Lyle, no doubt most of the women had that general understanding. But I'm sure every woman who submitted answers would have been interested in learning what other LDS women said (in aggregate), so it's not like they were honoring the wishes of the surveyed women by not releasing any of the results.

Furthermore, withholding accurate information simply encourages unfounded speculation, which is actually given credibility by the idea that the Church tends to publish favorable information and bury unfavorable data. If 99% of the women surveyed were actually wildly pleased with the Relief Society curriculum, I'll bet that fact would have found its way into a GA talk or an RS speech. They do cite surveys and statistics in talks and articles from time to time. I recall extended discussion of activity rates as a function of missionary service, temple marriage, etc., in a GA talk not too long ago, for example.

Dave: Agreed, but only to the extent that aggregate results were also released to the women who answered the survey. However, this probably would defeat the privacy interest LDS church leaders obviously desired...as such disclosure to survey recipients would have become yesterdays hot scoop for Peggy Stack & the Trib.

I think if the results had been positive (think "LDS teens live their religion best") then they would have been shouted from the rooftops.

to allow those LDS members participating in the survey to "complain" & "comment" to Church leadership w/o doing so in public;

and

I think if the results had been positive (think "LDS teens live their religion best") then they would have been shouted from the rooftops.

First, we need to respect safe spaces.

Second, I'm familiar with data from fifteen years ago or so that was very positive and not distributed (I still remember a GA with transparencies and summaries telling us we didn't need to take notes, he expected it all to be published soon).

Did you know that the closest correlation between any commandment and "successful children" (defined with a rather strict metric) is tithing?

That the tightest correlation between teenage children and chastity is communication with parents?

Hmm, memory fails me right now, but I think you are missing touch with what really goes on and what is going on sometimes.

The Church wants to make it safe to complain and give honest feedback without people feeling as if their comments will be used to attack the Church, cause embarassment or disrupt things.

Publishing the data, even if massively positive (like other surveys) would disrupt that safe place and reduce the honesty and reliability of future surveys, and for what purpose?

The current RS President's comment is a typical public relations style comment used when you don't want to talk about something.

Peace.

What good would it do if everyone were to discover the statistical quantities of women who are overworked, underappreciated, undersupported, underpaid, underfaithed, depressed, undervisit-taught, and under extreme pressure? None. It is imperative that we retain faith in the organization of the church. After all, it is the Lord's church, and if the Lord saw the need to tweek the Relief Society a little so that it gave more relief to those belonging to it besides those others it helps, He could do it.

It seems to me that these questions were asked so that the leaders could gain insights into LDS women's struggles, so that they could seek the Lord's guidance and direction for ways to lighten those burdens.

What good would it do if everyone were to discover the statistical quantities of women who are overworked, underappreciated, undersupported, underpaid, underfaithed, depressed, undervisit-taught, and under extreme pressure? None. It is imperative that we retain faith in the organization of the church. After all, it is the Lord's church, and if the Lord saw the need to tweek the Relief Society a little so that it gave more relief to those belonging to it besides those others it helps, He could do it.

It seems to me that these questions were asked so that the leaders could gain insights into LDS women's struggles, so that they could seek the Lord's guidance and direction for ways to lighten those burdens.

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