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