Here’s a list of terms and topics that is useful in understanding Deseret Nationalism, or DezNat. This is a developing article.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
A Brief Introduction to Deznat
DezNat is an far-right, white nationalist hashtag and movement first seen as #DeseretNationalist in 2017 leading up to the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and used mainly by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) on Twitter. It is short for Deseret Nationalist, Deseret Nation, or Deseret Nationalism.
The stated goal of Deseret nationalism is to create a Mormon, or Deseretian, ethnostate ruled by a theodemocracy. In May of 2017, one of earliest instances of the movement being described as a “Mormon ethnostate” was by a co-founder of the Deseret Nationalist Association when he asked Ayla Stewart, an alt-right Mormon blogger and member of white supremacist group Identity Evropa who was a scheduled speaker for Unite the Right, if she would support a Deseret nationalist movement. A few days later he would publish an article on the Deseret Nationalist Association website further clarifying that a Mormon ethnostate is rooted in white supremacy:
“White Utahns who enjoy Utah’s more conservative, Mormon culture will have to embrace ethno-nationalism if they want it to survive. If we don’t fight to defend our White majority here in Utah we will lose the Mormon identity that has been the defining characteristic of this state for generations.” (source)
Users of the Deznat hashtag and supporters of the movement will often describe their social media posts and other online behavior as “defending the faith.” This is an important part of the cultural dynamic surrounding #DezNat, as it ties into deep-seated Latter-day Saint (Mormon) fears of attacks from outsiders, see Mormon Extermination Order, Assassination of Joseph Smith, and Utah War. DezNat means different things even to the different people who use it. Some users are obviously racist; others will openly rebuke the racist ones. Some users are rabidly anti-immigrant, while others are openly pro-immigrant. Most users of the DezNat hashtag are anti-LGBTQ+, but even that isn’t universal. There are also smaller subgroups or cliques within DezNat, which may regard other cliques or subgroups as insufficiently faithful or doctrinally “pure.” At some level, every DezNat hashtag supporter has decided that they’re okay with being associated with hateful rhetoric.
It should be noted that there are people who are opposed to Deseret nationalism who use the DezNat hashtag when interacting with or referring to the movement, and so context should be taken into consideration before labeling someone as “DezNat.”
Although members of the broader Mormon community have complained about DezNat, and the Latter-day Saint (Mormon) church has stated publicly that DezNat is “not affiliated with or endorsed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” the Church has not officially denounced it.
Users of the DezNat hashtag often threaten “apostates,” members of the LGBTQ community, and ex-mormons with “Blood Atonement.” Blood Atonement is a disputed doctrine in Mormonism that has been disavowed by the Mormon church in which certain “eternal sins” were only redeemable by the spilling of blood. The doctrine was promoted by several Mormon figures, including 19th-century Mormon prophet and leader Brigham Young, along with members of his council, under Utah’s near-theocracy in the 1800s. Eternal sins that required blood atonement included apostasy, theft, murder, fornication (but not sodomy), and adultery. Additionally, Brigham Young taught that whites who mixed with blacks were subject to blood atonement through decapitation:
“If a man in an unguarded moment should commit such a transgression, if he would walk up and say cut off my head, and kill man, woman, and child, it would do a great deal towards atoning for the sin,” source, pg 44
Although Young believed the practice of blood atonement should only be implemented under a full theocracy, there is evidence that blood atonement was enforced a few times at the local church level (see page 467). The rhetoric of blood atonement contributed to a culture of violence leading to the Mountain Meadows massacre, a series of attacks in which 120 members of a passing caravan of settlers, mostly families from Arkansas, on their way to California were massacred by Mormons in 1857. In jury trials where the death penalty was under consideration, potential jurors in Utah were questioned on their beliefs regarding the doctrine of blood atonement until at least 1994.
Bowie Knife or Day of the Bowie Knife
DezNat users often make reference to bowie knives when harassing, trolling, and bullying members of the LGBTQ community, apostates, ex-Mormons, and anti-Mormons online. Some users of the DezNat hashtag also use the phrase “Day of the Bowie Knife,” a reference to the white supremacist phrase “Day of the Rope.” The Day of the Rope (sometimes abbreviated as DOTR or TDOTR) refers to the mass lynching of “race traitors” that occurs in The Turner Diaries, a novel written by neo-Nazi William Luther Pierce that is popular among white supremacists. The bowie knife is used in place of the word “rope” as a reference to a sermon in which Mormon prophet and leader Brigham Young unsheathed a large Bowie knife, set it on a pulpit, and demanded all apostates who were harassing the church and its members leave the territory.
“I say, rather than that apostates should flourish here, I will unsheath my bowie knife, and conquer or die. [Great commotion in the congregation, and a simultaneous burst of feeling, assenting to the declaration.] Now, you nasty apostates, clear out, or judgment will be put to the line, and righteousness to the plummet. [Voices, generally, “go it, go it.”] If you say it is right, raise your hands. [All hands up.] Let us call upon the Lord to assist us in this, and every good work.” – Brigham Young, 27 March 1853, Journal of Discourses, VOL. 1, P. 83
Brigham Young Did Nothing Wrong or #BYDNW
A riff on the more popular trolling memes of “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong” and “Thanos Did Nothing Wrong,” users of the DezNat hashtag uses the phrase “Brigham Young Did Nothing Wrong” as not only a meme to troll non-DezNat users, but also as a way to embrace and make light of the “uglier parts” of Mormon history such as blood atonement, bigotry, racism, and the Mountain Meadows massacre. Users of the DezNat hashtag tend to invoke the phrase “evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed”, a reference to a temple covenant endowed believers make, when repeating the meme to those that question or criticize Mormon church leaders.
An alphabet developed during the mid-1800’s by the regents of the University of Deseret under the direction of Mormon prophet Brigham Young. It is a phonemic English-language reform. The alphabet was intended to make reading and spelling English easier and faster for both school-age children, as well as non-English speaking immigrants. Brigham Young’s most expensive failed experiment, he promoted the Deseret Alphabet saying, “The advantages of this alphabet will soon be realized, especially by foreigners. . . . It will also be very advantageous to our children. It will be the means of introducing uniformity in our orthography, and the years that are now required to learn to read and spell can be devoted to other studies.” (Young, Brigham (8 October 1868). Journal of Discourses, delivered in the Tabernacle, Salt Lake City, UT. p. 289.) Users of #DezNat sometimes use Deseret Alphabet characters in their online bio, as a way of conversing with one another, and in memes.
This online tool translates Deseret Alphabet characters into familiar Latin characters and vice versa.
DezNat is an far-right, white nationalist hashtag first seen as #DeseretNationalist in 2017 leading up to the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia and used mainly by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) on Twitter. It is short for Deseret Nationalist, Deseret Nation, or Deseret Nationalism.
DezNat is a loose network of social media users who are mostly members of the LDS church and use the DezNat hashtag. While some of the content posted under the hashtag is inoffensive, it is well-known for its hateful, racist, anti-feminist, xenophobic, and other offensive content. Users of the hashtag are known to incorporate Pepe the Frog, a recognized hate symbol, into their memes. Some DezNat users also use a version of the hate symbol Pepe that has been edited to look like Mormon founder and prophet Joseph Smith. Common with the far-right, vaporwave, or fashwave, edits over Mormon imagery is also common. Some members of the DezNat community criticize, harass, and bully members of the LGBTQ community, ex-Mormons, progressives, “apostates,” feminists, and abortion advocates under the guise of “defending the faith.” Users of the hashtag also attack those who criticize or question the LDS Church or its leadership. It is important to note that there are some people who are not homophobic, misogynistic, racist or bigoted who unironically believe they are supporting their faith by using the DezNat hashtag.
The pseudonymous twitter user @JPBellum claims to have invented the DezNat hashtag; however, twitter user @_DNA_Mond appears to refer to Athen Jensen as the creator of Deznat in a tweet from Feb 2021; Jensen has made a similar statement. Although the hashtag #DeseretNationalism was used in 2017 by @JReubenCiark and @_DNA_Mond (in August and September, respectively) the earliest known use of the #DezNat hashtag was by JPBellum, on 6 Aug 2018.
Dezbollah, a portmanteau of “DezNat” and “Hezbollah,” is a spinoff of the DezNat hashtag that is sometimes used for more extreme rhetoric and imagery. Dezbollah content often incorporates neo-Nazi, fascist, and radical religious symbols, blended with Mormon historic and cultural imagery, into its memes and other artwork.
Two images found under the #dezbollah and/or #deznat hashtag inspired by neo-Nazi imagery. Figure 1. depicts an image of a militant neo-Nazi wearing a skull mask and holding a weapon with the phrase “fashwave” and a sonnenrad above a second image featuring Mormon founder and prophet Joseph Smith holding presumably a copy of the Book of Mormon with the phrase “Our God’s Not Dead” with a “Seal of Melchizedek” in the background. Figure 2 depicts a German Nazi war flag used during WWII shown in contrast to a flag inspired by its design depicting a beehive with fasces in place of a swastika and the Angel Moroni holding a weapon in place of the Iron Cross, a famous German military medal dating back to the 19th century.
Images posted by #deznat users; figure 3. depicts Latter-day Saint (Mormon) apostle Dieter F. Uchtdorf, a German aviator who was born during WWII as an accelerationist wearing a neo-Nazi skull mask with a “fashwave” edit posted by #DezNat user going by the pseudonym “Hoss” or “niasdiad” later identified as Zachary Martin; figure 4. depicts a vaporwave, or fashwave, edit of “The First Vision” a well-known Mormon religious painting of a scene depicting the boy Joseph Smith with the Father and Son. This DezNat user going by the pseudonym “BoyoOfDeseret” also depicts a copy of the Book of Mormon laying on a table next to a pistol in a popular far-right meme used in their Twitter cover image, as well as the recognized hate symbol Pepe the Frog wearing a full face mask and “Deseret patch,” carrying a rifle, and in front of a green and yellow Hezbollah-inspired flag showing the Angel Moroni holding a rifle up high in their profile image.
A meme depicting two fighters: on the left is a militant Islamist holding the Quran in one hand and a rifle in the other; and on the right is a Mormon missionary holding a Book of Mormon in one hand and a machete in the other. The English text says “THE SAINT AND THE MUSLIM” at the top and “REVOLT TOGETHER OR DIE APART” at the bottom. In the center of the image is the Arabic word for “struggle” or “strive,” followed by the phrase “holy war” in the Deseret Alphabet.
DezNat Audience Terms
Most of these terms predate the DezNat hashtag; however, it is important to understand how they are used in the context of Deznat.
- Twitterstake – a portmanteau of Twitter and “stake”. A Stake is a geographic area defined by a number of Wards (Latter-day Saint, or Mormon, congregations). The “twitterstake” is one of the first hashtags members of the Mormon faith used to discover other members and promote their faith on Twitter. The term has fallen out of use, but is occasionally mentioned.
- Apostake – a portmanteau of Twitter and “stake.” A Stake is a geographic area defined by a number of Wards (Latter-day Saint, or Mormon, congregations). The “Apostake” is the opposite of the “Twitterstake” and refers to apostates and ex-Mormons collectively on Twitter. The “Apostake” was reflected as a DezNat enemy in one of their first umbrella memes.
- Mormies – mainstream members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that have not been sufficiently “red-pilled” according to DezNat. It is a play on the term “normies.”
- TBM – “True Blue Mormon” or “True Believing Mormon” are Mormons that are committed to their faith.
- JackMo – “Jack Mormon” are Mormons that have been baptized, but don’t attend church. It can also refer to non-Mormons who are non-religious.
- ExMo – “Ex Mormon” is a former member of the Mormon church.
- Apostate – when referring to “apostate” Mormons, these are members who have committed a serious sin, but who does not repent. It can also refer to Mormons who reject doctrine or authority in the church.
- AntiMo – “Anti-Mormon” is someone who is against Mormonism.
- ProgMo – “Progressive Mormon” are Mormons with progressive politics.
- Goons – aka the JackMo/DezNat Alliance
State of Deseret Flag or DezFlag: 13 alternating blue and white horizontal stripes, with 13 white stars on a blue canton – 12 stars representing the 12 tribes of Israel encircling one star representing Christ.
Sometimes called the “Kingdom of God” flag, DezNat users are known to display the flag. Known as the Kimball/Maguire Flag of 1877, it is based on a description by an early territorial trader named Don Maguire, who claimed he saw it displayed from a second-story window of the home of Heber C. Kimball. Maguire was a non-Mormon who traveled to Salt Lake City when Brigham Young died to make sure “the old devil was dead.” Although this flag is widely reported to have been an official State of Deseret flag, the authenticity of this claim is questionable.
DezFash or Deseret Fascist Flag: a black field with a gold beehive at the center and a gold fasces under the beehive.
Designed by white nationalist DezNat user “Mond,” the DezFash flag is popular with fascist users of DezNat and has appeared at in-person Deznat meetups.
Short for “Family Proclamation,” the FamProc hashtag is a reference to the 1995 proclamation published by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which defines the official position of the Mormon church on family, marriage, gender roles, and human sexuality. The Family: A Proclamation to the World, specifically defines “marriage” as a relationship between a man and a woman, and prescribes “traditional” gender roles for men and women. Users of the DezNat hashtag use the Family Proclamation to excuse homophobic and misogynistic rhetoric, as well as to promote anti-LGBTQ politics and policies.
Hashtag created in May 2019 by twitter user @Rob_1830 as an alternative to #Deznat, its intended use was for twitter users who were “defenders of the faith and doctrine while also being respectful and kind“. First use was May 23, 2019. Subsequent efforts by Latter-day Saint (Mormon) social media users to create alternatives to the Deznat hashtag are sometimes referred to as “LDZion 2.0” In February 2021, the creator of the LDZion hashtag requested that other twitter users stop using the hashtag because “it’s cringe.”
Old Testament Ally
An early DezNat anti-LGBTQ+ phenomena, “Old Testament Ally,” or #OldTestamentAlly is an attempt to reappropriate the rainbow from the LGBTQ community in order to “steal it back for God.” It refers to the rainbow shown to Noah after the Old Testament God destroyed the world in a flood because of wickedness. The DezNat user going by the psuedonym DeseretAussie is credited with starting the hashtag.
Q15 refers to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles plus the three members of the First Presidency of the Latter-day Saint, or Mormon, church.
“Read BOM” is a play off “Read Siege” meme which refers to the book Siege, by neo-Nazi James Mason, an ideologue for the paramilitary neo-Nazi terrorist organization Atomwaffen Division. BOM is short for Book of Mormon, a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) religious text.
The DezNat Medicine Cabinet
- Red Pill or redpilled – a reference to the movie The Matrix, in which the main character, Neo, is offered a choice of two pills: a red pill, representing “awakening” or enlightenment about the nature of reality; and a blue pill, representing continued innocence or ignorance. Anti-feminist and white supremacist groups use it to represent the idea of “waking up” to the “reality” that women and liberal politics are oppressing men and white people; someone who is aware of this “reality” is referred to as “redpilled.”
- Black Pill or blackpilled – popularized by incels, who blame women for their lack of sexual activity. The black pill represents a pessimistic or nihilistic worldview without the power to do anything about it.
- White Pill or whitepilled – the opposite of the black pill, the white pill represents an optimistic worldview in the face of adversity.
- DezPilled – used in place of redpilled, as in the phrase “based and dezpilled.”
- VitaminPilled – used in an adapted version of the “broke/woke/bespoke” construction, where bluepilled, redpilled, and vitaminpilled are used in place of broke, woke, and bespoke, respectively. “VitaminPilled” specifically refers to a 2019 message from LDS church president Russell Nelson, who encouraged church members to prepare for an approaching General Conference by resting up and taking their vitamins.
The RepealThe19th hashtag is a call to repeal the 19th amendment to the United States Constitution, which gave women the right to vote.
State of Deseret
The State of Deseret was a provisional state proposed by settlers from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in 1849. Although it was never formally recognized by the United States government, the proposed State of Deseret encompassed nearly all of present day Utah and Nevada, as well as portions of New Mexico, Arizona, California, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, and Wyoming. The term Deseret comes from the Book of Mormon word for “honeybee.”
Theodemocracy was proposed by Mormon founder, prophet, and leader Joseph Smith, Jr., in 1844 while running for office of the United States President. Smith described a theodemocracy as a political system which fused traditional republican democratic principles, under the United States Constitution, along with theocratic rule by the Church. Smith described it as a system under which God and the people held the power to rule. Further, Smith taught that the Kingdom of God, which he called the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, would hold dominion in the last days over all other kingdoms as foretold in the Book of Daniel. Many DezNat users support a theodemocracy in the present-day United States.
The umbrella is used online by DezNat users to identify those who take an anti-LGBTQ stance, and it is often accompanied by hate language and homophobic slurs. It was first used online as early as 2018 in memes depicting the perceived “enemies” of DezNat depicted in the form of a rainbow falling over an umbrella. The umbrella represents the “Family Proclamation” (see #FamProc). In March 2021, users of the DezNat hashtag added umbrella emojis to their profiles, as well as continued the depiction of umbrellas in event flyers, leading up to anti-LGBTQ counter-protests disguised as “Family Proclamation” readings at Brigham Young University (BYU) Provo and BYU-Idaho, which are Mormon church-owned institutions of higher education.