Last Friday McKay Coppins, in an article titled Mitt’s Mormon Army: How It Works, looked at how grassroots Mormon support for Mitt Romney has managed to organize, despite the Church’s statements that its resources should not be used for election campaigns. Coppins points out, as most LDS Church members already know, that not everyone respects the Church’s wishes.
No surprise, I know. However, I also can’t say that I’ve seen many violations here in my ward and stake — perhaps I’m just out of the loop in some ways, but I haven’t seen emails from fellow ward members using the ward list for political or marketing purposes. Nor has anything appeared on the unofficial ward facebook group. Many years ago I did see one attempt to start an LDS bookstore by putting flyers up in chapels, but I haven’t seen anything since.
Nevertheless, I’m sure that this happens, as Coppins makes clear in his article. [I should point out that Coppins doesn't make entirely clear the distinction between official resources, like the online ward directories, and the 3,500-strong "Colonial First Ward listserv," which is likely unofficial given its size (10x or more that of a singles ward) and the fact that it is apparently an email group like you can set up with yahoogroups or google groups (and many other places).] Unofficial groups like the ones he discusses are particularly ripe for issues like this, since no one will be called into their bishop for violating the policies of an unofficial group.
What is perhaps confusing in the case of the “Colonial First Ward listserv” is that, apparently, those on the list didn’t complain about the clear violation of the listserv rules! Surely not all 3,500 in the group want the political adds and solicitations (assuming that they actually read the email from the list). I’m sure that there are at least a few Democrats in the group, and I’d bet that more than a few Republicans wouldn’t be happy about the violation of the rules, if they noticed it.
Despite my preference for following the rules, I think there are times when I would support some, limited, violations of the policy — like for the struggling member trying to find an audience for his catering business or something. I can see how some situations might be reasonable exceptions, even if it means that one member can do it and I can not.
Also, its not always clear that these messages ARE a violation of the rules. Did the offender spam the ward list? Or did he just collect the addresses of those he thinks are his friends? Can you make your own email list, and just use the ward list to collect information for it? Why? or Why not?
Regardless, I’m interested in how often others see violations by Mormons of Church policy like this, or even violations of the policies or norms of unofficial groups, blogs, websites, facebook groups, etc. Does it happen much? How do you feel about it? What, if anything, do you do? Do you tell the Bishop when the bulletin board is used for personal gain? or do you just take down the offending item? Or are there times when you simply leave the item in place?
How do you handle these things when you see them? What have you seen?