What do readers think of #DezNat?

I don’t use Twitter, so I have completely missed the #DezNat phenomenon until now.

What is #DezNat? It is a Twitter hash tag used by people wanting to defend the Church. The reference appears to be to “Deseret Nation,” which I guess is meant to promote faithful members of the Church.

Why did the movement start? Here are some links that may describe some of the history:

https://www.abc4.com/news/local-news/deseret-nation-alt-right-mormon-militants-or-twitter-truth-defenders/

http://www.mormondialogue.org/topic/72212-deznat-deseret-nation-white-nationalism/

https://www.facebook.com/DeseretNation/

To sum up what I have been able to discover, Twitter has long been dominated by questioning/left-wing/or anti-Mormons when it comes to issues related to the Church. People who post things that support the Church have been consistently derided or attacked, often mercilessly. (This is one of the many reasons I don’t use Twitter).

Sometime in the last two years or so, people began to fight back. They adopted the hashtag #DezNat. To hear supporters tell it, this finally created a sense of community where defenders of the Church (always in a minority) could find common cause. There finally were social media members willing to defend the people defending the Church.

Critics of #DezNat appear to make various claims: 1)#DezNat people are often rude and sometimes use vulgar language. 2)#DezNat people are homophobic, sexist, encourage death threats, etc. 3)#DezNat people are alt-right. 4)#DezNat people create mean-spirited memes. 5)#DezNat people sometimes go overboard and use some of the same tactics as the anti-Mormons they dislike.

This is a post that offers people the opportunity to either 1)defend #DezNat or 2)point out specific examples of bad behavior. I will be moderating comments, so no profanity and please look at M*’s comments policy.

Anybody who has followed this blog knows that I constantly have defended the Church. The tone police have often accused me of being too harsh at times. But I don’t use profanity, and I try to be as fair as possible, and I try to follow these guidelines (the link is a talk by Elder Von G. Keetch, a General Authority Seventy, to students at Brigham Young University–Idaho):

In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul teaches that members need to be an “example of the believers.” However, Elder Keetch explained that being an example “is much more than just living the principles of the gospel for others to see. … Those same principles need to be part of our conversations, of our love for others, as part of the spirit we convey, as part of the faith that defines who we are.”

When confronted about beliefs it is easy to want to “sound a hasty retreat,” or “become defensive in a point/counterpoint debate,” said Elder Keetch, who gave several suggestions on how to become an “example of the believers.”

First, he told students that whenever there is a heated argument or contention, “the best way to proceed is with love, respect, and understanding, while never abandoning the conviction of truth that we hold in our hearts.” Furthermore, it is the most effective to follow the Savior’s example and to engage people one on one, he said.

How does the above apply to social media? I think we are all working that out. Does #DezNat defend the Church in a way consistent with the above advice? That is what I am trying to find out.

This entry was posted in General by Geoff B.. Bookmark the permalink.

About Geoff B.

Geoff B graduated from Stanford University (class of 1985) and worked in journalism for several years until about 1992, when he took up his second career in telecommunications sales. He has held many callings in the Church, but his favorite calling is father and husband. Geoff is active in martial arts and loves hiking and skiing. Geoff has five children and lives in Colorado.

28 thoughts on “What do readers think of #DezNat?

  1. I follow a few people who do use the #DezNat hashtag on twitter. I get what they’re doing. I don’t like the tone some of the adherents use sometimes — but that’s more of an individual thing than a group mentality. My approach to twitter and other social media when defending the church is to just teach the truth, not to try and convince people. I feel like DezNat people sometime try to do that, and that’s where you get arguments. But let it be known that “the other side” rarely is interested in an honest debate and quickly resorts to name calling and/or blocking people. I have observed that there are a lot of faithful people who want a place to express themselves, or a place where they can feel safe to share ideas about the church. There are not many places like that online. I have never observed a Dez Nat follower make threats, use vulgar language or threaten people. I’ve seen plenty of that though from the people that don’t like the DezNat group/followers. I’ve also observed that the DezNat folks know the scriptures and words of the prophets and they use those predominantly to make their points, which cannot be said of the other side, which primarily relies on ad hominem attacks, emotion, and outright lies.

    I think there are a lot of faithful members of the church who are very distressed at the trends they see online, and perhaps in their wards (my ward for sure), is that there is a progressive shift in beliefs, a misunderstanding of doctrine and a desire to try and put the church into a more worldly path ie: to agree with the philosophies of the world, popular sentiments etc. I have had several sisters in my ward come up to me and thank me for making faithful comments and/or outright corrections in our Sunday meetings — I do that and I’m not sorry about it, because at this point I do not care who is offended by the truth. They feel bullied into silence by some of the feminists and self styled progressive Mormons in our ward. Ironically, our bishop likes to toot the horn of “church is a safe space for everyone”, but it’s really not in some cases. I have never felt “safe” expressing a faithful opinion in my ward — and that’s why I teach Primary. The children are just a well of faith and I am enriched there.

    As you may or may not know, I am one of the founding members of Mormon Women Stand (now Latter-day Saint Women Stand). We founded MWS as a counter to the Ordain Women movement, but also with the larger goal of providing a place for faithful women and men to find good content and where they could express their faith and faithful opinions without getting bullied. There are tens-of-thousands of people who follow LDSWS online and read the blog. So clearly there is a need. Millennial Star also takes a place in that niche of faithful content and a “safe space” for people to express themselves (I’m on my 10th year here and I love it!)

    More than anything, if faithful members of the Church want to defend the church, they need to be well versed in doctrine, scriptures and the words of the prophets . Follow the pattern of Jesus Christ in how to engage with people. But defend we must. Our time has many parallels to the ancient saints and early saints, in that we’re letting lies, worldly ideas and movements slip into our beliefs, our practices and how we view the church. Paul’s epistles are very applicable to our times and we’d be well to heed his warnings and the warnings of modern prophets about apostasy, unbelief, sin, wickedness and rebellion seeping into the church.

    1 Corinthians 15: 58, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

  2. Joyce makes some great comments, and I would add ja couple of things. Hashtags are hard to enforce. I found this out when I would occasional post BYU sports content on twttier with the hashtag #gocougs. Almost immediately, I was inundated with messages from irate Washington State fans who were upset I was using “their” hashtag. I kindly explained that I had been using “go cougs” since before the internet was even a thing, much less twitter … and it motivated me to continue doing as I was doing.

    Likewise, whenever the Church encourages posting under one hashtag or another you will find that apostates, heretics, progressives and other unfaithful types will rush in to try and appropriate the tag. I once searched for #lighttheworld on twitter and was disappointed at the counterfeit light being shared.

    Finally, there have been times that I have thought that the choice of deznat had some unfortunate parallels to the type of language alt-right proponents use, and may give some the wrong idea, but it also means that opponents of the Church (from both inside and outside the membership) are less likely to appropriate it for themselves. If they had chosen #gospeldefender (whoever “they” might be) it would have taken 15 minutes before you started seeing tweets like “Gay marriage is eternal marriage #gospeldefender.”

  3. Don’t do Twittrr, but I constantly defend our Faith. That said, I strive to discuss issues with charity, not animosity. I hope DezNat is doing that.
    A fee years ago, The 12 encouraged us to flood the earth with the BoM and our testimonies via social media. Hopefully we are all doing so.

  4. I’ve been out of the social media game for a while now, but when I was involved Twitter DezNat was the normie-friendly, public face of the edgier, more interesting Discord Deznat.

    All social media movements are cringe, and #DezNat is no exception, but to the extent that it encourages members to be more confident and courageous in their faith, I applaud it.

  5. All I will say is I am appreciative when people will look for evidence rather than jumping to conclusions – it makes it a lot easier to come to understandings.

    I will stand next to anyone willing to stand up for the faith – I have more in common with them than the doubters that flood social media.

    The result of DezNat, more than anything in my opinion, is that the doors are open for the more gunshy member to express their testimony without being hounded by haters online because the haters know that their arguments won’t be met unchecked.

    A main reason I made teancumsjavelin.com was to provide a platform for the average, everyday, faithful member could have a platform to share the gospel who may not have access to a blog or “be an academic.” It is everyone’s covenanted responsibility to share their light, and I think we give an honest shot at providing a way to do that.

    Thank you everything Geoff.

  6. Basically if you want humans to defend the Church they’re going to do it imperfectly.

    The most powerful weapon of the deconstructionists has been to needle and antagonize and accuse until we show some sign of losing composure and then go “so much for being Christlike”.

    Obviously it’s true that we should do our best to be Christlike – but that doesn’t mean we give up when we make mistakes, it doesn’t mean we have to take unserious criticisms seriously, and it doesn’t mean we have a license to judge our imperfect brethren when they try to defend the faith and fall short.

  7. I’ve been following the #DezNat hashtag on Twitter for a while now. It is actually the only bit of Twitter that I have found worthwhile to follow. It is certainly not an alt-right movement as claimed by its detractors.

    In my opinion, the content posted on #DezNat is fine. There are a few prolific #DezNat users that are overly crude in their language and remarks, particularly in how they refer to those that are opposed to the church. I think there is room for them to improve. Still, overall the members that use the hashtag are generally polite and firm in their stand for principles of righteousness. It is wonderful to see members of the Lord’s restored church standing for His restored gospel.

    If anything, #DezNat is a little bit of a mote and beam situation, though not in the way its detractors claim. The beam in this case is all those that fight against the doctrines of the church, those that claim they have received revelation that the prophets are wrong, and those that claim ally-ship through the promotion of sinful behavior (which is not true ally-ship anyways). While some members that use the #DezNat hashtag might have a small mote in their eye in regards to the tone and content of their comments, it is nothing compared to the beams in the eyes of the opposition; beams which the opposition tries to use to beat faithful members of the Lord’s church into submission with.

    So while we might want to rebuke the overindulgence of some #DezNat messages, we should remember that there problem is minor compared to the problem that #DezNat is trying to fight. Correct #DezNat, yes, but make sure that most of your efforts are focused on defending the Lord’s church with #DezNat.

  8. Bennett wrote: “The most powerful weapon of the deconstructionists has been to needle and antagonize and accuse until we show some sign of losing composure and then go “so much for being Christlike”.

    Wow, that is so true.

  9. Some of those criticisms are definitely valid. Others are not. Unsurprisingly, people are complicated, and the internet does weird things with group dynamics given that geographic limitations are not quite as limiting.

    I’m less interested in defending a *hashtag* – it’s just a hashtag after all, and my membership is with the Church. I’m a disciple first. But as a hashtag, it’s useful at doing hashtag-like things, correlating ideas and connecting people, and it can’t do that as well with all the nonsense about being alt-right. I think that’s worth pushing back against.

    Like the others have said, I’m grateful to the M* group for looking at things and not just taking mainstream media at their word. I wish you all the best, and hope we can overlap where overlapping makes sense.

  10. Mormon Chronicle is now branded as a Deseret Nation site. I find it a bit – out there.

  11. I am not surprised that conservative members are finding the antics of the “social activists” within the Church and at BYU rather disconcerting. #DezNat developed partly as a reaction to those activists, and in opposing those groups #DezNat has mirrored the tactics and paranoia of their opponents. As noted by Michael Venture: “Be careful how you choose your enemy, for you will come to resemble him.”

  12. Old Man, do you have any examples of #DezNat mirroring the tactics and paranoia of the Church’s opponents? I am not doubting you, but I would like to see some examples so we can see what you are referring to. I really do want to provide space for people who may oppose #DezNat in this post. Feel free to link them in a comment. Thanks.

  13. I’m grateful for Brother Turner’s efforts (and his associates). Because I am extremely blunt, I’ve often been accused of tone sin. I’ll admit, occasionally I can do better. But folks who are constantly harping on tone are being purposely deceitful about the substance of gospel principles and doctrine and the covenants and obligations that *every* member has freely taken.

    There is a place (or places!) online for traditional, loyal Latter-day Saints.

  14. I would suggest you go on twitter and search #deznat. You don’t have to have an account to do it. A fairly small number of people seem to post a lot using that hashtag and they do post a lot of what I consider to be racist, homophobic, and misogynist content. I think it’s fair to label them “alt-right”. I don’t think they are a good representation of faithful Latter-day Saints.

  15. Dan and E, do you have any specific examples you could share with us?

    I have a second-hand story that is worth sharing. A person whom I trust very much who is a faithful Church member reached out to a few DezNat people. He found them very interested in trolling and defending the Church with harsh and impolite language, but not very interested in reasonable discussion. He was disappointed with his interactions with these people. Just one example to share. As others have pointed out above, it is the nature of social media to provide disappointing interactions sometimes.

  16. In my experience, progressives toss out the “alt-right” label with fearless abandon. It’s a convenient short-hand that basically means: “I’m not interested in understanding where these folks are coming from or what their beliefs or interests really are. They are to the right of me, and that makes them forever unclean. So I can basically call them a Nazi and I don’t have to do the hard work of having conversations.”

    That’s about it in a nutshell.

  17. I prefer the #hearhim hashtag (not that I typically use hashtags).

    The nice thing about the #hearhim hashtag is that it would tend to be self-policing. If my social comment isn’t really about being aligned with the good news of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice which allows all to overcome death and allows all who choose to reconcile with God, then I wouldn’t use it. Similarly, I would expect that folks being hateful would be less likely to use #hearhim, where they might be willing to use the hashtag discussed by the OP.

  18. I have been appalled at the deznat posts I’ve read. The gleeful, self-righteous arrogance on display under the guise of “defending the church” is repugnant. There is no way I can imagine the Savior being pleased with members “supporting” Him by persecuting and ridiculing others with different views. Their claims of “defending the church” seems to be a thin cover for misogyny and homophobia, as I saw during the recent BYU honor code situation. My opinion is that they are trolls who excuse their behavior by reassuring themselves they are “defending the truth”. As C.S. Lewis observed, a group can devotedly torment and abuse others with the approval of their own consciences, as long as they think it is for the good. I am embarrassed to have anything in common with this group.

  19. Amie, I am inclined to be sympathetic with you, but I keep on asking people for specifics, and I keep on not getting any examples. I have noticed a general trend in the last few years of people being appalled by certain behaviors, and then when you actually look at what happened, you find that the behaviors are not at all as described. Misogyny means “hating women,” and homophobia means “being afraid of gay people.” Are there specific examples of this behavior that you can link to?

    I will note that nobody has yet linked any specific behaviors that supports any reason to be appalled. In fact, the only one who has given specifics is me in my comment up above on March 12 at 4:02 a.m.

  20. “Their claims of “defending the church” seems to be a thin cover for misogyny and homophobia, as I saw during the recent BYU honor code situation.”

    Misogyny as defined by whom? Elizabeth Warren? Ordain Women?

    Homophobia as defined by whom? GLAAD? NARAL?

    The problem with your conclusory statements is that they lack concrete examples or reasoned arguments. In this particular case, “misogyny” and “homophobia” as as totemic talismans much the same way as “alt-right” does in my explanation above.

    Also, what is called homophobic in 2020 might be a very different thing than homophobic behavior as exhibited in 2000. I’ve seen anyone who simply believes that a true mariage is one between a man and a woman called “homophobic.”

    I echo Geoff’s call for examples and concrete specifics.

  21. For what it’s worth, I reached out to one of the more prominent #deznat users during a significant family related crisis earlier this year. He immediately responded with empathy and helpful advice and stuck it out with me for several days. He still checks in with me ever so often.

  22. One example I found to be revealing (in regard to the honor code change)–“If it’s what the Brethren want then I’ll sustain and support them with everything I have till I die. My kids will be doing pathways though”.
    In a disagreement with a woman online-“Women on the internet was a mistake”
    After posting a link to a BYU Daily Universe article about a female assistant dean of the law school-calling it a puff piece, and stating it was wrong to hold her up as an example.
    In reference to homosexuals-stink, filth, a quote I can’t even type out, globohomo, soy posterity
    Making jokes about a woman’s appearance, then claiming that it wasn’t nearly as bad as her teaching apostate views on family.
    Lots of mentions of genitals in regard to the Honor Code story (i.e. so as long as their genitals don’t touch, it’s ok? ” ‘It’s only gay if the balls touch’ is now the official policy of the Lord’s School”)
    Referring to LGBTQ as “alphabet people”. A meme that says alphabet people don’t belong at BYU.
    rewriting words to primary songs including the words, “they’ll wish they had listened when they’re all aflame!”
    Many references to “apostate patrol” with memes and pics of men with guns and knives.
    In response to a gay members’ post that there will be no homophobia in heaven-“That’s because there won’t be any homos”.
    A meme of the gospel art kit pic of Joseph with Potipher’s wife grabbing his cloak- caption is “Believe Women”

    I find this offensive and beneath the dignity of anyone who claims to be a Christian.

  23. Are we certain those are actually folks from the Deznat group?

    The reason I ask is because of the hoaxes that happen all the time. For instance, I’ve read many reports of “swastikas” being found on university campuses. It doesn’t take long for the investigation to reveal, not secret alt-right hate groups, but leftist false-flag operations. Leftists have nothing to lose and everything to gain by smearing groups that they oppose.

    Just a thought, folks.

  24. @ Arnie
    I see you’re a fan of some of my work. I also see you have no understanding of meme culture on the internet. That’s ok, it’s a different approach that many don’t like. If our only purpose is to cancel the other nasty antis on Twitter out so it leaves room for the honest at heart to exist then I’ll call it a win.

  25. I use the hashtag, but let’s set that aside for a second and talk about the actual idea of “Deseret Nationalism.”

    I want Zion to shine. I want its people to be happy, healthy, and righteous. I get a little choked up about it, frankly.

    And apparently this is a controversial opinion!

    That’s basically what it comes down to. #deznat does not achieve this perfectly. There’s some groupthink going on. But—and this is a very important “but”—it is at least trying.

    If anyone thinks they can do better, they are welcome and encouraged to start their own thing.

    The first recorded use of the hashtag was on this tweet: “Is what you’re doing today building Deseret for tomorrow?” That is a powerful compass.

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