I am stunned that this opinion was even published by the Washington Post. It is not the opinion that is unfavorable to the church that surprises me. Such opinions and articles are only too common to Latter-Day Saints. What surprises me so much is the absolute lack of integrity given in this opinion piece.
In fact, calling this an opinion piece violates even the loose standards of factual interpretation of opinion pieces. Taking facts or recent findings and offering an opinion on them is expected. Making blanket statements that are blatantly false is a violation of journalistic integrity regardless of where they are found in a paper.
This is so lacking in integrity and supplies so many pre-judicial labels that the Washington Post should be ashamed. We as a people have come to expect biased reporting from most news outlets. Even so, the biases are found in the interpretation of fact, not in the falsehoods being disguised as facts. This is what Sheffield does.
On top of this, she takes very personal and isolated experiences, most of which seem to come from her own life, and tries to pass them off as though they are part of the institution's standard practices. Her statements on the facade of Mormon family values, the ostracizing of members who leave the faith, and other similar statements are all very subjective experiences, many of them also belie what LDS members know about our teachings. There is no doubt that different individuals and families respond to these situations differently. Some responses are no doubt better than others. However, Sheffield passes these off as being part of the institution and teachings of Mormon theology. In short, she takes isolated experiences, none of which she ever documents, and claims that the entire church advocates this practice. Any person who reads any of the LDS church publications or the follows teachings of its leaders will find the exact opposite.
Sheffield then takes her own private experiences as evidence of injustices of the LDS church as a whole. Since they are personal experiences, we are left only trust her word. Given how she handles the rest of the information in this article I can only include her lack of integrity interpersonal experiences meets or exceeds that which is already given. Some of her accusations, such as scientific journals being equated to pronography are so far from what LDS members are taught regarding education as to be almost laughable. It would be funny if I didn't think other would read this and conclude her misrepresentations to be truth. This lack of integrity goes beyond error and drops squarely into the center of intentional deception.
In order to better understand just how far off she is, I took a little time to locate easy to find articles and publications that address LDS Theology from a scholarly perspective. I do not submit these as proof that the LDS church's beliefs are irrefutably true. I submit them as readily available evidence that Sheffield claims are undeniably dishonest. I'm a Mormon. I am not a scholar and not a religion professor, but just an average everyday computer nerd. Yet in my spare time, I look around the internet for LDS material and find scholarly writings that demonstrate just how wrong Sheffield is. If I can do this in my spare time, how was it that the Washington Post can fail in such a simple and easy fact checking and allow such blatantly false statements be passed off as factually-based opinion.
The fact of the matter is Sheffield is not looking for reform. She is calling for the complete abandonment of beliefs. The reason for this abandonment comes down to the fact that some people don't like it. When this is not enough, she then tries to insert the accusation that LDS beliefs lack scholarship. The result is an embarrassing lie and another reduction credibility of a newspaper that is struggling to maintain it in the first place.
Below is a simple list of sites. Reading of any of them will show just wrong Sheffield's statements are.
Lack of Scholarship accusations refuted: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu,
See also: Carl Mosser and Paul Owen, "Mormon Scholarship, Apologetics, and Evangelical Neglect: Losing the Battle and Not Knowing It?" Trinity Journal, n.s., 19/2 (1998): 204.
Egyptology accusations refuted: http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/Volume%2011%20Number%201,%202010/egyptian-papyri-and-book-abraham-some-questions-and-answers#_edn42
Genetics accusations refuted: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/display/topical.php?cat_id=488
Smithsonian Institution refuted: http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/transcripts/?id=40