On the June 23rd in a special leadership broadcast, Elder L. Tom Perry announced that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would be rolling out a program to allow its full-time missionaries to use Facebook and other new media platforms to connect with investigators and potential converts. This change is part of a broader trend toward more online engagement by the LDS Church.
The Internet occupies an important place within the unfolding history of religion. The Internet is a powerful tool that presents many challenges and opportunities within religious communities. In recent General Conference addresses, high-ranking LDS Church leaders have encouraged members to be actively engaged in online communities.
A new internet survey examining how Mormons use the Internet aims to explore how Mormons engage with online communities. This survey fills a gap in the existing literature within the Study of Media and Religion. The field of Media and Religion is growing quickly and is in desperate need of quality research about Mormonism. The literature that does exist is outdated and only anecdotal. Existing studies do not capture the complexity of Mormon life or community on the internet. The unique place of Mormonism and the positive interaction with technology has the potential to expand the discussion within academic circles, creating a constructive conversation. This survey and subsequent studies will help situate Mormonism and Mormons’ experiences in this important moment in history.
To take the survey click on this link.
The survey was constructed to use questions from existing studies, such as research from the Pew Center. This design enables the researchers to to compare and contrast the findings of this survey with previous studies, creating a more robust analysis.
Many of the questions in this survey necessarily simplify complex religious and spiritual issues. Close-ended questions are difficult to craft and are necessarily blunt instruments. This is a huge limitation of all survey research, but it is unfortunately unavoidable. Please try to identify the answer that best reflects your opinion even if the choices presented don't exactly match your views.
When participating in the portion of the study directly related to internet usage, if the sites you visit are not listed, please take the few second to fill in the ‘other’ box. Your feedback in these boxes will improve this survey, and provide vital information for future survey construction. Despite the limitations of this survey, it does provide a snapshot of Mormon Internet usage and the more participants the clearer the picture.
The survey has ethics approval from the University of Cambridge and the results of this study will be shared with general and academic audiences. In addition to the general presentation of the results, participants who are interested in a report of the results of the survey will be sent a copy.
About the principle investigators of the study: Brad Jones is a Doctoral candidate in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Jessica Finnigan is an Advanced Diploma student in Religious Studies at the University of Cambridge.
Chris Bradford, Vice President of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, will speak at the Sunstone Symposium at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Saturday 3 August at 9:45am. Chris will present his paper, "Bodies without End," drawing on the work of James Faulconer and David Paulsen, dealing with Mormon conceptions of embodiment — both human and divine — and on the work of Antonio d’Amasio and Douglas Hofstadter, dealing with identity, embodiment, and emotion, to propose a model of embodiment that fits Joseph Smith’s teachings on spirit bodies, physical bodies, resurrected bodies, and God’s body. More information is available in the conference program and on the Sunstone website.