After April Conference, I was asked by someone in the fMh Facebook group to check whether this Conference had featured an unusually large number of references to Heavenly Parents. The answer is yes, it did.
Oh, you wanted to see some data to back that up? I thought you’d never ask! I used the Corpus of General Conference Talks to look up uses of the phrase “heavenly parents” in General Conference. Unfortunately, the Corpus only goes up to 2010. I was able to fill in counts for years since then by using Google to search the Conference part of lds.org (by adding site:lds.org/general-conference/<year> to the search–thank heaven for logical URLs on lds.org, because the search tool on the site was recently changed so it doesn’t show all matches for a search anymore).
Here is what I found for number of mentions per year since 1970:
The reddish dots are the actual counts of mentions per year, and they are connected by the faded dashed line. Because the data are so lumpy, I also added a 5-year moving average (the bright red line) so we can get a better sense of which way the wind is blowing.
The peak year is 1995, which is when the Proclamation on the Family, which explicitly refers to “Heavenly Parents,” was issued. Other than that year, though, 2013 has more mentions than any other year, and we haven’t even had October Conference yet! Interestingly, Angela C. at BCC pointed out that there were also some points in talks in this Conference that seemed like perfect setups for the speakers to say “Heavenly Parents,” but then they fell back on “Heavenly Father.” The 5-year moving average also looks somewhat positive: it’s been above one mention per year since 2004. And in a similar study that looked at Church materials more generally, TopHat found a couple of years ago that there has been an uptick in mentions of Heavenly Parents in recent years.
I’m not sure what this trends means even if it is a real trend. Is it an attempt to placate the troublesome feminists? Or is it retrenchment with an eye toward the Family Proclamation? Whatever it is, I’ll be interested to see if there is a lot of talk of Heavenly Parents in October Conference, or if this was just a one-time blip.