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Why Mormons Leave (Part 5 of 6)

Why do Mormons leave the LDS Church?  Dr. Jana Riess and Dr. Ben Knoll have put together the largest random sample of ex-Mormons and tell us why Mormons leave.  What did they learn?

GT:  That’s pretty awesome I’d say. I know John Dehlin did a survey awhile back.  Were your results similar to his?

Jana: Not at all, and I want to point out that this is part of the difference between a nationally representative survey and a sample that is of a targeted population. Their study, which is really helpful and interesting and well done, they would be the first to tell you, I think, that it’s not a nationally representative sample of all former Mormons. If you look in the really helpful breakdown of who was in that study, they have a very affluent population and a very well-educated population. So, the fact that what they’re finding is that these people are very interested in history, and they’re very interested in some of these more controversial issues about Mormon theology. Well, in part that is because this is a very affluent and well-educated population, and in part, it’s because this is a population that has been fielded through social media affinity groups that are interested in those questions, right?  So, it’s a self-selecting sample, and I think that’s an important thing to keep in mind. That does not mean that it’s not valuable for understanding that important population, but it’s not generalizable to everyone.

GT:  What are some of the reasons that people choose to disaffiliate?

Benjamin:  I suppose the first thing to clarify is, we’ve got information amongst those who chose to disaffiliate for specific reasons that aren’t necessarily just simply lifecycle, adolescent disaffiliation, which is the biggest one right there.

GT:  The biggest one is just, “Well, I’m a teenager, I don’t want to go to church.”

Benjamin:  This is what people in America and Europe do. When they’re teenagers, they tend to just [quit going.]

Jana:  Right, or younger.

Benjamin:  Right, yeah, exactly. Yeah. So, a lot of former Mormons are in that same category. They are people who just for one reason or another, just weren’t that interested anymore.

GT:  Church is boring.

Benjamin:  Yeah, they went on to do other things. Some of them rejoined the church later. Some didn’t. We’ve got some information in the survey about like, what are the lives of former Mormons like? The ones who leave for these historical doctrinal issues tend to have a former Mormon life that’s a little bit different than those who just leave because they just went inactive when they were teenagers, got married to someone who’s not a member, that never really went anymore, because their family’s diverse. So, it’s important that we say, just like within the Mormon community, there are different groups of people and diversity and how it’s expressed, it’s the same thing with former members as well.

Are you surprised?  On the internet we often hear people publicly claim they lost their testimony due to church history.  We don’t hear about these people that quietly leave.  Find out what else they said (like politics.)  Check out our conversation….

Why do Mormons leave the church? Dr. Jana Riess and Dr. Ben Knoll tell the results of the largest random sample of ex-Mormons.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Riess and Dr. Knoll.

299: Out of the Box Mormons

298: Comparing Mormons by Generations

297: Surprising Mormon Responses

296: How to Randomly Sample Mormons

 

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Results of Faith Crisis Research (Part 4)

Kurt Francom recently interviewed David Ostler on his podcast about faith crisis research Ostler has done regarding reasons why people quit coming to church.  Is there a disconnect between what leaders believe and what these people say?  Kurt will answer that question.

Kurt:  Another question he asked, “The percentage who strongly agree about the contribution of issues in individuals’ faith crisis in regards to questions about church history and then went the other way, right? A lot of a faith crisis members, that was a biggie: more than 85 percent. Gender roles within the church, that was another biggie.

GT: How about the leaders? Did the leaders see that as a problem?

Kurt: The leaders were around 40 percent, but it wasn’t the 80 percent. Right? There’s still a discrepancy.

GT: Yeah, 40 and 80, there’s a big difference.

Kurt: The Church’s LGBT policy, same thing. I mean they almost look identical. Transparency with decision making, same thing, right? And so with this information, I feel like a leader can better approach some of these situations when they have the right statistics, right? The right the right data. So does that make sense?

GT: Yeah. So, the big issues or the real issues I guess we should say are our church history was, was 85 percent, you said?

Kurt: [Yes]

GT: LGBT was probably second?

Kurt: Yeah, that was just under 80 percent.

GT: Under 80 percent. So Church history….

Kurt: Gender roles was the other one which was about 70 percent.

GT: Seventy percent.

Kurt: Yeah. And to me that doesn’t mean, in my opinion, no doctrine, absolutely zero doctrine has to change. It’s not about getting doctrine to change, it’s about the culture. If we can change the culture and start talking, and having a dialogue about these things, then then I think that’s where we’ll see those pews start to fill up with those that maybe have separated themselves from the church.

He thinks that if more leaders were armed with correct information, they can come up with other ways to make our congregations more friendly to people who are experiencing issues of faith.  Do you agree?  Check out our conversation, as well as our previous conversations with Kurt.

Kurt Francom discusses David Ostler's faith crisis research, and hopes to make wards more friendly to those who doubt.
Kurt Francom discusses David Ostler’s faith crisis research, and hopes to make wards more friendly to those who doubt.

220: “We’ve Got to Have These Difficult Conversations”

219: Ministering to the Faithful & Faithless

218: Is it Bad to be Called LDS or Mormon?