The corner of the internet concerned with Mormon issues has been aflutter recently over a new ad campaign created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, featuring profiles of church members, showcasing their achievements, their individuality, their likability. It turns out that Mormons can be professional surfers and talented skateboarders. Having grown up Mormon in a small Mormon town, I’ve long appreciated the complexity of Mormon character and the uniqueness of individual Mormons, and I’m totally down with a project to reveal that to the rest of the world. I just wish the church hadn’t spent the last three decades encouraging, if not demanding, homogeneity and blandness – or, to use the official LDS term for the virtue of uniformity, correlation.
Originated in the early twentieth century but not emphasized until the 1970s, correlation was a program that consolidated central control and enforced consistency and sameness as much as possible throughout the church.
So the new ads, challenging the effects of correlation, are overdue. However, they’re not perfect.
As ECS of Feminist Mormon Housewives notes, there’s a bait and switch going on in the profiles of women: most featured profiles showcase “women with small children who choose to work outside the home in demanding careers,” which is not the ideal Mormon women are told to aspire to – instead, they’re encouraged to be stay-at-home-moms whenever possible. ECS concludes that if the church doesn’t address the discord between what it tells its own members Mormon families should be like, and what it tells the rest of the world Mormon families are like, then “this PR campaign is disingenuous at best, and just plain gross, at worst.”
I thought the Mormons had changed their teachings on women and the workplace.