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Nine Moons » Blog Archive : Mormon “Gray Areas” Survey Results » Mormon “Gray Areas” Survey Results

Mormon “Gray Areas” Survey Results

Rusty - November 14, 2006

The following are my biased, totally unfounded, wholly unscientific observations and conclusions about us Mormons and the gray areas of our religion. If you want hard data with which you can use to unrighteously judge others, this is the place. Only the bishop of a West Hollywood singles ward has seen so much confession of sin.

First of all, I should mention that I regret not having a “none of the above” answer on all these. In my analysis I am assuming those who didn’t answer the question would have chosen “none of the above”. Plus, I probably could have worded some questions and answers a little better, but you know what, I don’t really care about you and your fancy fooseball.

As a general observation, I wasn’t really surprised by the cumulative answers. What I found fascinating are the nuances, the slight variations. We all draw lines in the sand, what I’m interested in is where people draw those lines and why.

On to the questions:


The purpose of this question was just to establish who is answering the survey. If it were a bunch of inactive, God-hating, sin-loving bast***s then obviously this wouldn’t be the rigorous, scientific survey that you have before you.


I love that less than half of the respondents don’t think it’s okay to ingest second-hand smoke. I probably should have worded this question “it is morally acceptable to ingest…” but I don’t know if that would have changed the result. I mean, this question (and this survey for that matter) wasn’t about whether these things are healthy, it was more about where we draw our lines. Maybe I should have distinguished between menthols and lights.

25% are opposed to candy cigarrettes. I hope it is the “appearance of evil” issue and not the shape of the sugar that offends your senses.

I just have one question for you two non-Mormon, freedom-hating, non-steak eating hippies: is it because of something in Section 89 or something in Fast Food Nation?

The coffee results are all over the place. More people think it’s okay to eat ice cream that has (caffeinnated) coffee in it than drink decaffeinnated coffee. Could it be the hot/cold thing? Then there are the coffee desserts which when liquified in cake is more acceptable than straight up beans with chocolate. Interesting.

The reason I put in the green mango one was because in Guatemala there were members who wouldn’t eat green mangos, not because they don’t taste good (they don’t) but because they were out of season and they interpreted the WoW to say that those mangos were forbidden. I always thought they were being absurd Guatemalans, but apparently there are Americans who are just as absurd. Just kidding, I love those Guatemalans, they’re not absurd!

Almost HALF of you folks are okay with drinking O’Doul’s??? You realize that it has like .05% volume alcohol don’t you?!!? It doesn’t matter though, we all know it’s not the alcohol that the Church objects to, it’s the zastixiomostininerz acid.


First of all, I just want to thank the 14 people who had the courage to stand up against “meanness” in our entertainment. And for those of you eight people who are AGAINST “meanness” but FOR “some violence” shame on you, you stupid idiots. I’m going to kick your a**es.

I realized I should have added a few more, all the same as these but with the word “funny” before them. If that were the case I sure would have checked a few more boxes. I mean, is there anything funnier than “funny abundant violence”?

I’m surprised 33% of you admitted to watching porn and 52% of you read romance novels.

Like I said, it’s the nuance that I love. One more person found it acceptable to be entertained by a lying character than a stealing character and three more than a cheating character. It must be the white lies s/he’s okay with, not the stealing and cheating.

I’m glad the overwhelming majority find sacreligious entertainment unnacceptable. The rest of you 49% will burn in your secular ways of the flesh.


This question makes the best case for the fact that those who didn’t answer it would have marked “none of the above”. F***ing prudes.

I guess my mom wasn’t such an anomoly among the saints, He** and Da** seem to be a regular part of your vocabulary too. I’m just wondering, can I still blame my bad mouth on my mom or is it now the fault of the New York City subway?

Now, I had never even considered that the word “di**” was bad until my first year of college and I said it to my friend from southern California and he freaked out. He couldn’t believe I’d say such a word so casually. To me it wasn’t any different than “jerk” or “meany”. It turns out that in both southern California and Utah it’s a pretty bad word but elsewhere (like Washington) it’s no big deal. Who knew?

Of course the response to the F-word is interesting. I wonder when they who responded affirmatively consider it acceptable to say the F-word. Is it when they’re mad or when they’re getting intimate with their spouse (the origin of the word) or some other time? Hmmmmm…


Ahhh, the Sabbath Day, my favorite of gray areas. The problem with Sabbath Day worship is how poorly of a job the prophets have done to definitively tell us what we can and can’t do on that day. I mean, what are we supposed to do AFTER our three hours of scripture reading, two hours of prayer and four hours of meditation? There are still at least 45 minutes remaining with nothing to do.

It appears pretty much everyone is okay with reading non-church books. That’s cool. But I like that 38 of you drew the line at sports. Hey, if it were a book about last year’s Super Bowl, I’d reject it as well.

And for the students out there, it looks like 21 of you don’t object to doing homework on Sunday, per se, but object to learning about Gandhi rather than Herod.

Half of you are okay with Sunday football which means the other 50% of you pee while sitting down. What’s most interesting to me is that there is a difference between those who are okay with attending a sporting event and those who are only okay with it if a family member is playing. Is that because it then becomes a family activity? I wish there were a way to quantify the effect Steve Young has had on our collective Sabbath habits.

For you 31 who consider five hours of church meetings as breaking the Sabbath, you just don’t know how fun back-to-back PEC-church-ward-welfare-stake-bishopric-meeting really is. Less Spirit for you!

I find the jumps from shopping for clothes, milk, gas and vending machines interesting, though not surprising. What is surprising, however, is how much Sabbath day access you all have to vending machines in order that you can reject their money-exchanging machinery. Where do you live? In a Wal-Mart?

I’m just going to assume that the five people who rejected gathering with friends just don’t have any friends. That’s fair, right?

For the 13 of you who feel guilty about travelling on Sunday for work (but don’t feel guilty if it’s for leisure), just pay for the trip with your personal credit card, upgrade to first class and buy yourself a mojito. Problem solved.


No real surprises here except for you fools who pay tithing on net PLUS favors and gifts. What do you think our taxes pay for if not the gift of democracy we give to the rest of the world and the favor of welfare handouts. So ungrateful.


I admit, there is a difference between the standards you set for yourself and what you expect of those in your ward (like me for instance, I have a beard but I expect everyone else in the ward to be clean-shaven). Therefore, the answers to this question are probably not as perfectly measurable as the others have been.

I love that there are thirteen of you who don’t consider short sleeves as priesthood worthy. No wonder we didn’t have the Spirit in my mission (I always thought it was because of the native girlfriends). If there were only a way to wear cufflinks with those shirts to make them a little more respectable.

Over a third of you object to not wearing a tie. Maybe I should have compared “no tie” vs. “mission tie” to see the results. I bet even Jesus would choose “no tie”.

And for the 89 of you who object to flip-flops, one word: WDJW (what did Jesus wear?).

Well folks, those are my observations. I’m sure you have a few so let’s hear ‘em. Let no opinion go unspoken.


  1. Interesting results, but it’s the new “hand logo” that caught my attention. It’s like one of those “which two of these pictures are the same?” games that you play with five-year-olds. Very clever. If I stare at it long enough I’ll figure out the pattern.

    Comment by Dave — November 14, 2006 @ 2:03 pm

  2. This was very interesting, Rusty.

    Candy cigarettes have to be old kind that you could puff the powder out to look like smoke–the candy sticks they have these day just don’t cut it…

    Are flip-flops synonymous with sandals? I picture cheap foam thingies that have that plastic knob to go between your toes, and I can’t approve of anyone wearing those outside of the pool or the shower at the gym. If the option was sandals, that would have received my vote. My problem with holey jeans is that you can’t control just where those holes are–yikes!

    Maybe if I traveled for work, I would have answered differently. I have no moral qualms about my husband doing it–I just miss him whenever he travels.

    Comment by Téa — November 14, 2006 @ 2:16 pm

  3. Dave:

    Actually, it’s sign language spelling out “nine moons.” That’s Cub Scout 101.

    Comment by endlessnegotiation — November 14, 2006 @ 3:09 pm

  4. I’m sorry Rusty but you don’t wear a beard, you wear a tweener beard. Just pick one or the other!

    Comment by cj douglass — November 14, 2006 @ 3:29 pm

  5. The survey wasn’t as fun as your observations and comments! Mom’s favorite swear word is “sh**” when she’s freaked, so you using “Da**” and “He**” is your fault not hers.

    I guess what the survey says to me, is the gospel / keeping the commandments isn’t black and white. And I like to define my gray area different than others define theirs. Plus my gray area is ok, everyone else’s is suspect…probably unrighteous.

    Fun Rusty, thanks for the laughs

    Comment by Don Clifton — November 14, 2006 @ 4:21 pm

  6. Tea,
    That explains why my last candy cigarette (after probably 20 years without) was so disappointing–all I wanted was that powdered sugar puff.

    Comment by Sam B — November 14, 2006 @ 5:15 pm

  7. this is the best post I have seen in a long time.

    Comment by Veritas — November 14, 2006 @ 5:29 pm

  8. This is hysterical, Rusty. You did a great job. I just keep wanting to qalify my choices. Like, with the second hand smoke one — I know people who would have friends blow their smoke at them to get high (you didn’t specify tobacco smoke!) – and them claim “it was only second hand smoke!”
    Also, you mean I’ve been paying tithing on grandma’s birthday money all these years and I don’t have to?? Rip off. Finally, I was really hesitant about the sacriligious film content, but I like Monty Python, and so that category was a given.

    So does this mean I can eat green tea ice cream?

    Comment by meems — November 14, 2006 @ 6:11 pm

  9. I just want to clarify that when you stated, “It’s okay to ingest green mangos,” that I objected on the grounds that they are gross (and if you eat a lot, you’ll get a belly-ache). So no, it’s not okay.

    I’m most curious about the last question, church attire. No wardrobe choice received 100% of the vote. Does this mean that some respondents insist on a dark suit, white shirt, and tie, or that they want the men in the ward dressed way, way down? (Perhaps the same people who like to watch nudity?)

    Comment by BrianJ — November 14, 2006 @ 7:26 pm

  10. This was a great read! Thanks.

    Comment by madre — November 15, 2006 @ 10:49 am

  11. re: Dave #1,

    Three of the hands are identical, starting with the first one. I believe it must be the letter “N”

    The rest comes easy.

    Comment by Seth R. — November 15, 2006 @ 11:36 am

  12. I suspect some of the people did this quite quickly and didn’t realize which ones were only one answer and which were multiple. Just one more margin of error.

    Thanks also, Russ. I’m with cj on the beard thing! (and I can talk now>:)

    Comment by Bret — November 16, 2006 @ 12:28 am

  13. I didn’t realize that the sexual imagery (nudity) was pornography. I thought it was movies where there was some sexual nudity. I don’t enjoy it, but I will put up with it if I like the overall movie. I think I messed up your survey, because I misunderstood a few others as well. Like I think I checked gross AND net income.

    And I’m fully active and believing, but I don’t enjoy it. Plus I don’t like some people in my ward and I hate meetings. I think you should have gone farther with this survey.

    Comment by annegb — November 16, 2006 @ 5:42 pm

  14. Looks like there should be a Gray Areas part II, eh Rusty?

    Comment by Téa — November 17, 2006 @ 5:23 pm

  15. Short sleeved shirt option but no long sleeved shirt option?

    Comment by Kim Siever — November 19, 2006 @ 7:09 pm

  16. I live in an apartment complex with lots of vending machines.

    Comment by Susan M — November 22, 2006 @ 4:56 pm

  17. Hahaha
    I’m not gunna lie your comments were hilarious!
    Oh and the gospel is totally black and white but think about it there are different shades of black of white!

    Comment by Aubrey — December 1, 2006 @ 3:42 pm

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