Are more young adult Mormons in their 20s and 30s leaving the LDS Church? If so, why?
My Kickstarter project funds a survey that will teach us about Mormon Millennials (ages 18-35) -- and especially how they differ from three older generations in religious beliefs and habits, politics, family size, education, and more.
My interest in this project started several years ago when I began blogging -- first for Beliefnet, then for Religion News Service, where I am now a senior columnist. The way young adult Mormons embraced digital media -- and the way this mode of communication reflected other, deeper, changes visible within their generation -- prompted me to begin asking questions. How do Mormon Millennials differ from their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents in the LDS Church? And on the other hand, how do they differ from people their own age who are not Mormon?
So far, anecdotal evidence suggests that LDS young adults are far more religious than their non-Mormon peers. They pray more, serve unpaid missions, volunteer in their congregations, and express strong faith in God. At the same time, they're not quite as orthodox as their elders in the Mormon faith -- and as many as a third wind up leaving the fold.
But anecdotal evidence isn't enough; we need solid data. With the invaluable assistance of Benjamin Knoll, an assistant professor of political science at Centre College, I have designed a major survey of LDS life that has also been vetted by numerous social scientists, historians, and writers. The survey has already been IRB-approved. It has questions about everything from how different generations observe the Word of Wisdom (the Mormon dietary code) and keep the Sabbath to their feelings about attending church. It also tracks their feelings about some of the major social issues of our time.
The survey will be fielded by Qualtrics, a leading research firm, with the initial results available this fall. I will then analyze and discuss the survey results at length in the forthcoming book The Next Mormons, which will be sent free to all Kickstarter supporters above the $60 level.
Thanks for your support and interest!
Risks and challenges
I am an experienced nonfiction writer with more than a dozen books to my credit either as single author or co-author -- most recently, "Mormonism and American Politics" with historian Randall Balmer and the memoir "Flunking Sainthood," which was named one of the ten best religion books of the year by Publishers Weekly.
So I know what it takes to write a book. If there is a challenge I can foresee with this project, it is that this will (like most books!) take longer than the year and a half I am expecting it to.
However, the major survey results will be available earlier in PDF form to donors who contribute more than $100, so people who are interested in getting answers by the end of this year will be able to do so.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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