Kincart: The Perils of Spreading Mormon Extremism


Sydney Stam

(Graphic by Sydney Stam | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sydney Kincart, Print Chief, Opinion Writer


I constantly grapple with my religious identity as someone who grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love parts of the church since it gave me the framework to understand my spirituality — and for that, I am forever grateful. But I struggle with the parts of my church that continue to inflict harm upon marginalized communities. The Deseret Nation, or DezNat, has become one of the most despicable perpetrators of these injustices.

DezNat relentlessly attacks members of the church on Twitter and uses social media to promote their atrocious ideals. DezNat harms Mormonism as it targets individual members of the church and gives the church a bad image. If the LDS church doesn’t actively combat the presence of DezNat, the future could be grim.

DezNat originated from a Twitter hashtag in 2018. “The Official #DezNat User Guide” states that DezNat is “simply a hashtag used by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are unapologetic about their belief in the restored Gospel, Christ as our Savior, Joseph Smith as the prophet of the Restoration, and Russell M Nelson as God’s current prophet, seer, and revelator on the earth today.”

Although some members of DezNat may not associate with every alt-right sentiment, many supported the insurrection at the Capitol. One #DezNat user tweeted illustrations saying, “Jesus leads the protest into the capitol.” This rhetoric uses religion to justify a lack of respect for democracy. This individual in DezNat blatantly goes against church statements condemning “violence and lawless behavior, including the recent violence in Washington, D.C.” Clearly, people identifying as members of DezNat misconstrue the LDS faith for their own personal gain.

DezNat also criticizes the Mormon blog By Common Consent (BCC), as it has blocked most members of DezNat. When I really started pondering my place in the LDS church, I first found a community while reading the BCC blog. BCC showed me others who had similar questions and experiences to mine — I wasn’t alone. It hurts me to see DezNat attack an important outlet for me and many others. However, I have a lot of privilege in the church and others suffer much more from the advancements of DezNat than I do.

DezNat continually targets Calvin Burke, a gay BYU undergraduate student with over 10,000 Twitter followers. Burke, already marginalized by BYU’s homophobic policies, still endures unnecessary and atrocious behavior. Although church officers can’t use their ecclesiastical authority to perform same-sex marriages, the LDS church “acknowledges that same-sex attraction is a sensitive issue that requires kindness, compassion and understanding.” Thus, DezNat’s hatred and persecution doesn’t align with the beliefs of the LDS Church.

Normally, I believe it’s more hurtful to give DezNat a platform than to ignore it. But if the Church doesn’t clearly sever its relationship to DezNat soon, it’ll be too late. One of Alaska’s assistant attorney generals, Matthias Cicotte, is being investigated for allegedly posting under #DezNat. Alaska’s attorney general removed Cicotte’s caseload in response to the allegations.

Meanwhile, Gregory Smith’s campaign for North Ogden City Council has ties to DezNat. We have reason to be concerned as DezNat begins to break into public offices. The terrifying ideology behind DezNat has no place in our government.

Additionally, DezNat views The Salt Lake Tribune as a potential enemy. When trust in media, especially independent local journalism, falters, that should concern the public. Journalism holds governments accountable and informs citizens. Groups that needlessly promote doubt in independent local media actively instill distrust in democracy.

Although the LDS church has clarified that DezNat is not a part of the church, its very existence causes problems for the faith. The Church shouldn’t want to have ties to this fringe group. We hear the stories of liberal church members excommunicated because of their beliefs and actions. Yet where are those of alt-right extremists threatening harm upon their brothers and sisters?

DezNat is a plague to Mormonism. If we don’t actively combat this harmful ideology now, it’ll only grow more widespread. The current association between DezNat and the LDS church doesn’t work. The church should be more vigilant to cut ties with the group and denounce their ideals.

Looking at sustainability, the LDS church should take interest in being more inclusive — which includes clearly separating itself from DezNat. DezNat hinders the LDS church from becoming the inclusive and judgement-free church that I hope it can be.


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