“Come for the Memes, Stay for Defending the Faith”: Far-Right and Anti-Feminist Red Pill Influences in the #DezNat Twitter Hashtag 

Spencer P. Greenhalgh, University of Kentucky
Amy L. Chapman, Columbia University

Abstract. Scholarship on the intersection of Mormonism and the internet has often focused on progressive online voices. However, in recent years, the DezNat movement has challenged the assumption that online Mormonism necessarily trends more liberal than the Latter-day Saint mainstream. In this study, we examine the influence of red pill communities—which include far-right and anti-feminist movements on the internet—on DezNat. We collected 1,378 screenshots of tweets containing the #DezNat hashtag (which often included additional data and context) and engaged in open coding of these tweets, guided by our understanding of red pill concepts and tropes. We found considerable evidence of far-right and anti-feminist influences on DezNat-tagged tweets, suggesting that it is disingenuous for DezNat defenders to describe the movement as merely about Latter-day Saint orthodoxy. However, interpreting our findings through an affinity space framework, we argue that it is impractical—and perhaps impossible—to definitively establish the motivations of all those who participate in the movement. Rather, we suggest that the clear red pill references by DezNat participants provide an opportunity to consider overlaps between Mormonism, the far right, and aggressive anti-feminism—as well as the tensions between intentional ambiguity and boundary maintenance in Latter-day Saint institutions.

Greenhalgh, Spencer P. and Amy L. Chapman. 2023. “‘Come for the Memes, Stay for Defending the Faith’: Far-Right and Anti-Feminist Red Pill Influences in the #DezNat Twitter Hashtag,” Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association 2, no. 1: 1–36. https://doi.org/10.54587/JMSSA.0201