"Why Do They Leave?"

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Curt Sunshine
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"Why Do They Leave?"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 02 Jan 2015, 01:48

The National Survey of Youth and Religion includes data from tracking thousands of youth for a decade and asking in-depth questions about their views of and participation in religion. There is no direct data on LDS youth, but the overall findings are interesting.

The following post has a few conclusions with which I don't agree automatically, but it is worth reading and seeing what the survey implies about why youth leave the religion in which they were raised. It also is instructive that the LDS Church does retain its youth at a higher rate than most other religions, even though we lose a large minority.

The link to the full post is:

http://fornspollfira.blogspot.com/2014/ ... e.html?m=1

The main reasons cited are as follows, with more explanation for each in the post:
Disruptions to routine

Distractions

Differentiation

Postponed Family Formation and Childbearing

Keeping Options Open

Honoring Diversity

Self-confident Self-Sufficiency

Self-evident Morality

Partying
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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DevilsAdvocate
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Re: "Why Do They Leave?"

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 03 Jan 2015, 13:56

Ray DeGraw wrote:The National Survey of Youth and Religion includes data from tracking thousands of youth for a decade and asking in-depth questions about their views of and participation in religion. There is no direct data on LDS youth, but the overall findings are interesting...The following post has a few conclusions with which I don't agree automatically, but it is worth reading and seeing what the survey implies about why youth leave the religion in which they were raised. It also is instructive that the LDS Church does retain its youth at a higher rate than most other religions, even though we lose a large minority.
To me this article mostly just sounds like a fancy way of saying the same old stereotype that members that leave the Church supposedly typically just wanted to sin as if there are no good or legitimate reasons why any Church members would ever fall away from the Church. It makes me wonder how much of this is coming from the original study and how much is coming from the interpretation of it by the LDS apologist that wrote this blog article. For example, this makes it sound like pre-marital sex and drinking are supposedly a major factor in college kids becoming non-religious in general when alcohol is not even prohibited by many of these churches to begin with and even if they preach against the idea of pre-marital sex the data from the "Mormon advantage" survey seems to show that the majority in most other churches included in that poll ended up having sex before marriage anyway without it becoming a reason to leave their church behind altogether.

Another possible problem with trying to read too much into data like this is that you have to consider who is willing to take the time to participate in these surveys or not and why. That's why I don't believe his claim that supposedly only about a third of the youth are lost because he is basically using a limited sample of data that is not necessarily representative of what is actually going on at a larger scale and makes it sound like these percentages would automatically apply to all Church members in general which is not necessarily accurate at all. For example, the Church leaked the statistic that only about 36% of members were active and my guess is that number didn't even include many members the Church has baiscally lost track of some of which are actually dead but will not be removed from the official count until they would have been 110 years old. So even if most of the converts become inactive I still don't see how the Church could possibly go from only losing 1/3 of the youth raised in the Church to what easily looks like a solid majority that are currently inactive.

Personally I think the trend of organized religion losing ground to secularism in the US can be easily explained fairly well in even simpler terms than those outlined here as generally a case of the practical costs involved outweiging the direct benefits here and now and/or a general lack of interest or appeal for many people nowadays. For example, what do people get out of their experience with different churches and is it enough to realistically expect them to keep coming back for more and continuing to support these churches or not? Obviously different people will value different things over other considerations but for example if many people understandably value freedom and being able to make their own decisions then having churches basically tell them what to do and believe in a dogmatic way will not necessarily be viewed as something positive they could feel good about putting up with when they don't have to. Similarly if many people value fairness then it's no surprise that some of them will see the way gays are treated in some churches as unfair and not feel good about associating with these churches because of this.

If many people undsertandably value their free time then it's no surprise that many of them will feel like they can find better or at least much more enjoyable ways to spend this time than listening to sermons about hellfire and damnation or whatever else they typically get at church. The problem with this article is that it apparently assumes that people should automatically want to defer to traditional religious doctrines and supposed sources of authority such as accepted scriptures as if it is a sacred obligation. However the way I see it is that if traditional Mormonism looks like it is becoming increasingly difficult to sell then that is more likely an indication of flaws or weaknesses in the basic product being pushed so aggressively more than being the fault of members/investigators for rejecting it if they feel like there are better options available for whatever reason. That's why I think a better approach would be to try to make church more of a positive experience for more people than it currently is because there is a limit to how much repeated guilt-trips, a sense of obligation, fear of condemnation, social pressure, etc. can continue to motivate people if church ends up being a constant pain and hassle for practical purposes.
"Truth is what works." - William James

Curt Sunshine
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Re: "Why Do They Leave?"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 03 Jan 2015, 20:08

Interesting that you would focus on only one one of the nine things listed, DA - and that it would be the last one described.

Do you feel like the survey and list are wrong, apart from that one issue?
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: "Why Do They Leave?"

Post by GBSmith » 03 Jan 2015, 20:57

Ray, I'm curious about the term "large minority". When my wife and I were assigned to a YSA branch we were told that along the Wasatch front the number lost after high school was well over 50% and recently my wife, our YW's president was told that in our stake 25% are lost by age 18 and another 50% by age 19 making a total of 60% inactive. No reasons were mentioned.

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Re: "Why Do They Leave?"

Post by Roy » 04 Jan 2015, 12:35

DevilsAdvocate wrote:To me this article mostly just sounds like a fancy way of saying the same old stereotype that members that leave the Church supposedly typically just wanted to sin as if there are no good or legitimate reasons why any Church members would ever fall away from the Church. It makes me wonder how much of this is coming from the original study and how much is coming from the interpretation of it by the LDS apologist that wrote this blog article. For example, this makes it sound like pre-marital sex and drinking are supposedly a major factor in college kids becoming non-religious in general when alcohol is not even prohibited by many of these churches to begin with and even if they preach against the idea of pre-marital sex the data from the "Mormon advantage" survey seems to show that the majority in most other churches included in that poll ended up having sex before marriage anyway without it becoming a reason to leave their church behind altogether.
DA is not reacting to the study. He is reacting to the blog post interpretation of the study.
So the desire to sin in ways that fundamentally conflicts with their religion affects about 30% of LDS teenagers. We lose 13% of our teenagers to secularism. So the desire to sin does not automatically lead to an abandonment of religion, but the NSYR found a statistical correlation on keeping religion and obeying the law of chastity (Smith and Snell, Souls in Transition, 218, 271-75). On the other hand, having doubts about religious beliefs was only weakly correlated with retaining or losing faith to the point that the NSYR deemed it not significant (Smith and Snell, Souls in Transition, 216). Doubts play a role in loss of belief and commitment but only in combination with other factors. (Smith and Snell, Souls in Transition, 229-31). For instance doubts play a role in the loss of faith of emerging adults only when faith did not play a big role in the teen's parents' lives, and the parents were lax in their church attendance, and faith already played less of a role in the teen's life, and is usually accompanied by the youth's less frequent religious devotion, i.e. prayer, church attendance and scripture reading (Smith and Snell, Souls in Transition, 229-30). In other words, doubt usually needs to be combined with other factors to come into play.
I agree with DA that this particular blogger seems to be comparing apples and oranges on several issues.
The best data available to me indicates that we are not primarily losing youth to doubts that spring up in their minds as a result of something that they read on the internet (which is not to say that such a thing does not ever occur). The losses seem to be the result of a combination of factors (in which doubt sometimes might play a role). Loss of faith seems to be a complex play of factors rather than some simplistic story. Other factors weigh more heavily including sin or the desire to sin.
The study was about american youth in general. I have a hard time imagining a young member from a nondenominational Christian church finding out some boogeyman facts on the internet about Christianity and lose faith over the issue. However that can and does happen to LDS youth. The blogger is suggesting that because this is not a huge problem for non-LDS youth it is not a big problem for LDS youth either.

It really bothered me that he seemed dismissive towards those that are leaving. He repeatedly uses the phrase "desire to sin." He also seems to state that even if youth find the LDS skeletons on the internet that they will stay in the church unless they were already fence sitters anyway due to their parents spotty church attendance, FHE, family scripture reading etc. If this blogger is to be believed then perhaps the solution to so many youth leaving the church is more dogmatism and indoctrination. The era of Utah isolationism is gone and pinning for its return will not help.
Ray DeGraw wrote:The following post has a few conclusions with which I don't agree automatically, but it is worth reading and seeing what the survey implies about why youth leave the religion in which they were raised. It also is instructive that the LDS Church does retain its youth at a higher rate than most other religions, even though we lose a large minority.
I agree with Ray that the data from The National Survey of Youth and Religion is very interesting and useful and does provide some pretty good reasons why an emerging adult being away from their parents and family for the first time and basically off on their own (as opposed to living in a BYU-esque area where religious attendance would be culturally enforced) might want to distance themselves from the religion of their youth.

It is interesting because letting your children choose their own path to adulthood can be a scary road. OTOH shuttling them from high school to BYU, to mission, to temple marriage seems to be the safer course statistically. Are youths that are culturally insulated from any other paths at an advantage or disadvantage? I suppose it depends on your perspective and how you measure success.
"It is not so much the pain and suffering of life which crushes the individual as it is its meaninglessness and hopelessness." C. A. Elwood

“It is not the function of religion to answer all the questions about God’s moral government of the universe, but to give one courage, through faith, to go on in the face of questions he never finds the answer to in his present status.” TPC: Harold B. Lee 223

"I struggle now with establishing my faith that God may always be there, but may not always need to intervene" Heber13

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cwald
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Re: "Why Do They Leave?"

Post by cwald » 04 Jan 2015, 13:00

Apologetic blogger must not watch conference? I'm not surprised. So often the mormon people will not listen to their own prophets. ...

" One might ask, “If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?”

Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations." - Uchtdorf
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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Re: "Why Do They Leave?"

Post by DevilsAdvocate » 04 Jan 2015, 13:40

Ray DeGraw wrote:Interesting that you would focus on only one one of the nine things listed, DA - and that it would be the last one described...Do you feel like the survey and list are wrong, apart from that one issue?
I don't doubt that the people included in the survey typically gave answers more or less along these lines and that these ended up being the some of the most common general categories of reasons why people didn't remain faithful followers of the church they were raised in. Even in the case of "partying" it makes sense that a significant number of people would want to rebel against what they were taught especially if their family and/or church are relatively strict sort of like the general idea of the movie "Footloose" because they basically associate church with not being allowed to have much fun or do what they want to. What I disagree with is not so much these general reasons for leaving different churches behind as much as the dismissive interpretation of these reasons by the LDS apologist that wrote this article and possibly the book he was citing (Souls in Transition) as well not only in the case of "partying" but for several comments throughout the article.

For example, he talked about people wanting to pick and choose what they believe and how respecting diversity is supposedly bad in some cases more or less because we already know what is right and wrong (or should know in theory). Overall it just sounded like he was trying to say that people leave mostly because they are essentially being selfish, prideful, weak, and/or they have been deceived as if they are the ones with a problem or major misunderstanding rather than recognizing the possibility that some of this could instead be mostly due to actual real-life drawbacks of some of these churches compared to the alternatives including no church. If people feel like the churches they are familiar with are oppressive, not worth the time and effort, uninteresting, etc. then for all we really know for sure these reasons are every bit as valid and understandable if not more so than the reasons why they should supposedly continue to support these churches if they don't feel like it.

The presumptuous attitude that people supposedly exist to serve their church and that it shouldn't be the other way around looks like it is largely based on grossly overconfident beliefs about what is true or not, what God supposedly thinks, and/or what will happen when we die. Well suppose there is no God or life-after-death or else they turn out to be significantly different than many people think, in that case what would that mean for some of these churches? I know many Christians and maybe even Mormons as well can easily apply some variation of "Pascal's Wager" and honestly say it would still have been worth it overall even in that case depending on their individual personality and values but I worry that too many religious hardliners don't even seriously consider the possibility that they could be wrong and what that would really mean or recognize that they are basically taking a leap of faith that others don't necessarily want to take as well often for perfectly understandable reasons and it looks like this approach has led to some of the worst problems that often give organized religion a bad name such as extreme intolerance and zealotry.
"Truth is what works." - William James

Curt Sunshine
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Re: "Why Do They Leave?"

Post by Curt Sunshine » 04 Jan 2015, 14:08

Thanks for the follow up, DA. I agree in principle with what you are saying.

I still think, however, that there is a lot of interesting stuff in the survey and that it's worth considering all of the reasons why young people (especially college-age young adults) leave the religion of their upbringing.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

"For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong." H. L. Mencken

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Re: "Why Do They Leave?"

Post by cwald » 04 Jan 2015, 16:12

I think the survey was fine. Valuable.

The blog is where the train goes off the rails, and the "just want to sin" apostate belief gets thrown around.


Quote from blog, not survey...

" Other factors weigh more heavily including sin or the desire to sin. Far more detrimental to loss of faith than doubts are notions of relativism, or the uncritical commitment to politically correct notions of diversity, and misunderstandings of moral agency and accountability"
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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cwald
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Re: "Why Do They Leave?"

Post by cwald » 04 Jan 2015, 16:19

Here is another example of the overt bias of the blog.

" Discernment requires some external criteria for deciding right and wrong. Latter-day Saints can become susceptible to point 7 if they confuse two points of view. The Latter-day Saint point of view is that each individual can know for him- or herself what is right; he or she is then a moral agent who can choose whether or not to do what is right; he or she is then accountable for his or her actions and must accept the consequences for choices made. This should not be confused (although it sometimes is) with the position that each individual can choose for him- or herself what is right and that God will automatically ratify that choice..."

So what is the message?

Agency simply means ...The mormon prophet tells you what is right and what is wrong, and you have agency to accept and believe and DO what the mormon prophet says, or you are rejecting GOD.

Did you catch that word play.... the choice "to do what is right...." not the choice to determine what is right.

Oh the hubris.
  Jesus gave us the gospel, but Satan invented church. It takes serious evil to formalize faith into something tedious and then pile guilt on anyone who doesn't participate enthusiastically. - Robert Kirby

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