Russell Nelson, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, challenged the congregation's female members to stop using social media for ten days.
The 94-year-old leader proposed the internet fast at the women-only session at the church's General Conference on Saturday that replaced the semiannual men's exclusive session for the first time, according to Slate.
"First, I invite you to participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other media that bring negative and impure thoughts to your mind," he said.
But women of faith took issue over the invitation to participate.
@ellievan65 #RussellNelson you ask the same of the men? Because, by gosh, you don't want MEN to have negative and… https://t.co/LWCBO3CY5m— Sally (@Sally)1539293340.0
@ellievan65 Russell Nelson is obviously senile. It's the other way around, brother. Tell men to get off social medi… https://t.co/opb0MmfvbR— Actress Debbie (@Actress Debbie)1539292592.0
Nelson added that participating in the fast could have an unexpected impact.
"Pray to know which influences to remove during your fast. The effect of your 10-day fast may surprise you."
"What do you notice after taking a break from perspectives of the world that have been wounding your spirit?"
"Is there a change in where you now want to spend your time and energy?"
"Have any of your priorities shifted—even just a little? I urge you to record and follow through with each impression."
In the time of #MeToo and the Year of the Woman, Mormon Church president tells women to get off social media for 10… https://t.co/XfegPXH7qP— Jerry Jenkins (@Jerry Jenkins)1539279754.0
Michelle Quist, a Mormon Republican candidate for City Council in Salt Lake County, Utah, didn't see the logic in Nelson's proposal and is concerned she may lose approximately 20 percent of her audience in the final weeks leading up to the midterm election.
"I don't know why my prophet felt this was a good time for women in the church to step back," she said.
"I know our national dialogue has been caustic … but there's still a national conversation going on. If we're not in it, then we can't influence the conversation for good."
Female candidates are concerned a fast would hurt their chances. Men were not asked to fast.— The Episcopal Cafe (@The Episcopal Cafe)1539094855.0
"The purpose behind the request was to step away from the avenues and the platforms that have us comparing our lives with each other and, you know, experiencing the depression that comes with that, and so I'm doing that," Quist, a former columnist for the Salt Lake Tribune, said, adding:
"You know, I'm trying to do that. But my campaign postings and other people's business postings kind of don't fit within that definition."
“Russell M. Nelson, the 94-year-old who became president of the church in January, proclaimed Saturday that all Mor… https://t.co/UCthJYFzOX— Joan Schulze (@Joan Schulze)1539181726.0
1. Russell Nelson, LDS pres., is 94 y/o. 2. Mormons refer to him as a "prophet" 3. He proclaimed that social media… https://t.co/kUA63F3IAY— Taterkaze (@Taterkaze)1539271984.0
Amy Parker––the mother of two daughters ages 9 and 11––has concerns about the fast's impact on her private business venture on Etsy.
Parker sells hand-sewn turbans for infants, a business that generates a weekly profit of between $800 and $1,000.
Because sales are dependent upon her social media presence, she's already noticing the adverse effects of "unplugging" from the internet.
"It would be awesome to say the prophet asked me to stay off of social media and it didn't affect my sales, or I got double the sales. That's not what happened."
Parker receives 70 percent of her orders on Mondays when she restocks her Etsy store.
This Monday, after participating in the fast, she made only one sale, an indication, perhaps, that the proposed fast runs counter to the value the Mormon culture places on stay-at-home working mothers who rely on social media for income. (According to KUTV, multi-level marketing is Utah's second biggest industry.)
People spoke out against the sexist invitation for women to cease all social media engagement.
@episcopalcafe @LDSchurch Why should only women fast from social media? Doesn't this church want informed women? Te… https://t.co/7zkIHpBU8T— Episcopal Priest (@Episcopal Priest)1539127484.0
@ellievan65 MORMAN LEADER RUSSELL NELSON.......How many wives do you have at this time? When I turn off my social… https://t.co/PnQUS5grt9— eclipticwatcher (@eclipticwatcher)1539299257.0
Slate observes that Nelson has not specified what exactly he was referring to when he mentioned "social media."
He also didn't offer an exact date for when the women of the church should begin the fast.