Mormons, particularly Mormon moms, are proving to be social media ninjas. They're responsible for the meteoric rise of Pinterest, as the Deseret News has noted (and those wags at Gawker). They may not seem like your typical early adopters, but credit the group's social media savvy to the women of the church who glommed onto blogging early on. It's also opening up the LDS community and church brand to the wider world.
As the Guardian reported this week, “Blogging suits Mormon practices because it draws on the tradition of keeping a journal, and church leaders have explicitly encouraged it – three years ago, Elder M Russell Ballard made a speech urging Mormons to use new media to share the Gospel. The church's official website, Mormon.org, is a pretty exceptional example of persuasive use of social media; and on the wider web a 'Bloggernacle' flourishes, with conversations running the gamut from orthodoxy to dissidence.”
Pinterest skews heavily female, young mothers bursting with creativity about homemaking, cooking and arts and crafts — and the virtual scrapbooking and swapmeet that is Pinterest is a perfect way for young moms to interact (and over-interact, perhaps). Now Mormon feminist bloggers are leveraging social media to challenge the patriarchy and norms of their church.
Bolstered by kindred sisters online, many, like D'Arcy Benincosa are stepping out. On her 30th birthday, as the Guardian recounts, Benicosa “did the wildest thing she could think of: she ordered a cup of coffee. The friend who was with her freaked out. They were Mormons, and coffee is forbidden; but both were on the brink of leaving the church. Later that day, Benincosa sampled a cocktail, and within a few months she had sex for the first time. "On my 30th birthday, I made the decision. I'm done.”
Mitt Romney's Republican presidential bid and that of former candidate Jon Huntsman, raised in the church, have shined a spotlight on Mormonism, a religion where women are still not eligible for priesthood. With estimates that 80% of young people leave the church, feminist blogs and even social communities on Pinterest may help ease the patriarchal grip — or at least provide a forum for discussion.
One place the church’s future seems strong — retail. As Blooomberg Businessweek reports, City Creek Center is the nation’s sole mega-mall due to open March 22 in Salt Lake City. Funded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the 700,000-square-foot mall houses more than 90 stores and restaurants including new retailers to the city, Tiffany, Coach, Nordstrom and Macy’s.
“City Creek Center is replete with a retractable sunroof, a man-made creek, and fountains that spew fire and water. Apart from elaborate design features, the redevelopment project—estimated by the Mormon-run Desert News to have cost roughly $1 billion—includes offices, condos, apartments, and 5,000 underground parking spots...Stores will be closed on Sundays.”
The 1,200-foot-long creek running through the mega-mall recreates what “Brigham Young would have seen when he came across the Wasatch Mountains,” says Bill Taubman, COO of mall operator Taubman Centers.
Yes, but what would Brigham Young think of Pinterest?