Does the LDS Church Have a Youth Crisis?

Many have alleged that LDS Church is suffering from mass exodus of its youth.  According to an article written in the sltrib (1 Feb 2012) by Peggy Fletcher Stack:

“I have heard that our overall activity, especially in the United States, is as good as it’s ever been,” [Elder Marlin Jensen, the LDS Church’s outgoing historian] said.  “To say we are experiencing some Titanic-like wave of apostasy is inaccurate.”

But some Mormon scholars disagree:

“I definitely get the sense that this is a real crisis,” said Mormon scholar and writer Terryl Givens.  “It is an epidemic.”

There is a “discrepancy between a church history that has been selectively rendered through the Church Education System and the Sunday school manuals, and a less-flattering version universally accessible on the Internet,” Givens wrote in an email from Virginia.  “The problem is not so much the discovery of particular details that are deal breakers for the faithful; the problem is a loss of faith and trust in an institution that was less than forthcoming to begin with. . .”

LDS Scholar Richard Bushman, author of a critically acclaimed biography [of Joseph Smith] has become a kind of historical therapist, he wrote in an email from his home in New York, “counseling with distraught wives and parents or disaffected Mormons themselves.”

For those who discover unwelcome information about the church’s history online, Bushman said, “the whole picture changes in a flash. . .”

The best way to prevent this from happening, Bushman said, is give Mormons “the whole story from the beginning.”

I think the same thing applies to science, as well as history.  The LDS Church members should be encouraged to accept the truths of science.  For example, youthful members should not have to struggle with issues like the compatibility of organic evolution and Mormon doctrine.  There is no incompatibility.

According to Joanna Brooks writing on

. . . studies by [Ryan] Cragun and [Rick] Phillips show that retention rates of young people (young men especially) raised Mormon have dropped substantially in the last decade:  from 92.6% in the 1970-2000s to 64.4% from 2000-2010.

The LDS Church leadership is concerned enough about the exodus of existing members, particularly its youth, that it has lanched an effort called The Rescue to reclaim its flock.  Among other things, this effort aims at providing better information through the Internet.

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2 Responses to Does the LDS Church Have a Youth Crisis?

  1. Pingback: Main Street Plaza » Sunday in Outer Blogness: Where Have All the Mormons Gone? Edition!

  2. roger hansen says:

    Since I wrote this original post a couple of things worth noting have occurred. First, a friend’s nephew and his wife have both cancelled their membership in the LDS Church. Both were raised in the Church and have long geneological lines to prove it.

    Second, a recent heart-felt article by Maren Stephenson which appeared in on 1 Jun 2012 describes her husband’s and her lose of faith in the LDS Church. For Stephenson, the “outing” of Mormon history (particularly that of Joseph Smith) via the Internet is the problem.

    While a sample size of 4 is hardly significant, it is indicative of a serious problem.

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