Beliefs Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

More Mormon men are leaving the LDS Church, say researchers — but especially in Utah

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the growing disparity between the numbers of single Mormon men and single Mormon women

But amidst all the hand-wringing about what this means for dating and marriage, there are larger implications for what it means for Mormonism, and I had quite a few follow-up questions.

So I tracked down sociologist Rick Phillips, who with Ryan Cragun has authored the forthcoming study on the sex ratio disparity among Utah Mormons. Both scholars are past presidents of the Mormon Social Science Association.– JKR

RNS: You note that Mormonism has the worst sex imbalance ratio of any church except the Jehovah’s Witnesses. And this is especially true in Utah as compared to the rest of the nation. Why?

Rick Phillips: Conservative denominations in the United States tend to have more women than men, so the sex ratio imbalance in Mormonism is not particularly surprising, even if it is rather severe. What is surprising is the regional concentration of this imbalance.

We began to investigate sex ratios in the church when we compared data from two large censuses of religious bodies, one conducted in 1990 and the other in 2008. The data show that between these two censuses, the proportion of self-identified Latter-day Saints that were female increased rather dramatically … but only in Utah. Outside Utah and Mormon strongholds in the Intermountain West, sex ratios within the church remained stable, and were closer to parity than in Utah.

The “shortage of Mormon men” we’ve heard so much about lately is far worse in Utah than it is in the rest of the nation.

9.16 landscape chart

RNS: Your research suggests that the increasingly imbalanced sex ratio among Utah Mormons is like the canary in the proverbial coal mine: this is a sign of something bigger, that Utah Mormons are actually becoming less religious. You attribute the gender gap to a growing trend of apostasy among Mormon men. Can you explain?

Phillips: There has been a general secularizing trend in the United States for the past 25 years. People are abandoning organized religion in large numbers, and those with no denominational affiliation now constitute about 20% of the population. Mormonism is not immune from this trend, and defections from Mormonism are more common than they have been in the past. In the 1970s and 80s, surveys showed that the church retained about 90 percent of its cradle members. But in the latest Pew Religious Landscape Survey, 36% of respondents raised LDS have abandoned their faith. Just as women outnumber men in conservative denominations, men substantially outnumber women among those abandoning religion. This is true for Mormons as well.

Also, this trend in religious disaffiliation is most pronounced among young people in their late teens and early 20s, which is a datum that is important to remember.

So, one explanation for what’s going on is that we are seeing how a general pattern in American religious demography is manifesting itself in a Mormon context.

RNS: You note that in Utah, Mormonism is losing “market share,” with only about 60% of Utahns now being LDS. You also say this has an impact on people leaving the church. How?

Phillips: We noticed that the widening of the sex ratio in Utah is accompanied by another, concomitant trend. Beginning in about 1990, the percentage of Utah’s citizenry belonging to the LDS Church began to decline, and has continued to drop until stabilizing just recently.

Utah’s Mormon majority has always fostered a unique religious subculture. The sheer density of Mormons in Utah means that ward boundaries and neighborhood boundaries are often coterminous. Associates at work, school, and in the community are also likely to be co-religionists in this setting. This fuses church and community norms, and makes violating church standards subject to disapproval and sanction in non-church settings. Traditionally, this has provided added incentive for Utah Mormons with marginal personal religiosity to remain in the church, and to follow church behavioral mandates.

However, as Mormon majorities in Utah have declined, the salience of this religious subculture is waning. And once offices, neighborhoods and civic organizations became sufficiently stocked with non-LDS associates, Latter-day Saints who are not constrained by their personal religious commitments have less to worry about if they are observed wearing apparel that is incompatible with garments, or shopping on Sunday, or putting coffee in a grocery cart.

RNS: Why does this affect men more than women?

Phillips: We hypothesize that the consequences of declining Mormon majorities in Utah affect men more than women for one simple reason. At age 18 (19 when these data were collected) LDS boys are confronted with the mandate to serve a full-time mission. This is precisely the age when religiosity is at its nadir. In the past, social pressure to serve a mission prompted many young men in Utah with marginal religious commitment to bite the bullet and go. The stigma of failing to serve a mission in some Utah towns was severe, and had serious social consequences. This is well documented in the sociological literature. Now however, the stigma is waning. Non-LDS friends and others who have chosen not to serve missions are more abundant, and provide refuge from disapproval.

We suggest that the mandate to serve a mission forces the hand of young men in Utah, and essentially “outs” those who don’t want to go as less committed to the church. Being thusly “outed” then lowers the costs of, and provides a pathway for, eventual disaffection. And this contributes to a rising sex ratio disparity among Utah Mormons that doesn’t manifest elsewhere.

RNS: Finally, what do you see happening over the next ten years? Are Utah’s rates of gender imbalance going to become more common elsewhere? And will the rate of people leaving Mormonism continue to rise?

Phillips: Only a foolish social scientist predicts the future. But we suppose this is where fools rush in …

The most firm prediction we can make is that as the religious demography of Utah comes to resemble the religious demography of a typical state, the church activity of Utah Mormons will come to resemble the church activity of Mormons in a typical state. This is not all bad news for the church. The good news is that those who stay are staying largely because they are personally committed to the cause. Latter-day Saints in the “mission field” are fond of saying that where Mormons are a small minority, one must stand on one’s own testimony. You are either in or out. Well, now Utah is the mission field too.

With respect to the sex ratio imbalance, there is preliminary evidence that women’s patterns of religious apostasy are beginning to resemble those of men. If this is true generally, it will probably be true within Mormonism.


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About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.

121 Comments

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  • I don’t think this is because young men are outed after serving missions. This is because women are socialized in Mormonism (and America in general) to be less vocal about dissent. It’s considered unfeminine. Because Mormon men are not socialized this way, and are told that their voices should be heard loudly, they leave the church more easily. One of the many reasons that the gender stereotypes reinforced by the Mormon church may actually be hurting their own demographics.

  • There are multiple factors. I think missions are one factor. A mission is a stark “you’re in or you’re out” decision that young men face far more than young women. Young men that don’t serve missions generally, but not always, gravitate away from the church because their dating pool shrinks dramatically and potential for contributing to the community shrinks dramatically as well (how many bishops in the past 20-30 years did not serve a mission?) I think your factor is also relevant.

  • Great article/interview! With today’s younger Mormons leaving the church, I’m convinced that a LOT of it is because (IMHO) church leaders and many church members are making the church more “conservative” and more exclusive. Many young people today are appalled at the way church leaders have treated and spoken about gays and lesbians and others who don’t fit the “cisgender heterosexual mold”, whether it’s Prop 8 or Elder Perry’s “counterfeit families” reference in the last general conference. On top of that, recent excommunications have sent a very clear message that “If you have ‘difficult’ questions, keep them to yourselves, or we’ll kick you out.”

    I would like to see a “Big Tent” model for the church, where all are welcome, notwithstanding doubts, “hard questions”, or differing sexual orientations. But leadership seems to be pushing a “Small Tent” model; “Stepford Mormons” only, please, no room for anyone else. Who they choose as new apostles in 2.5…

  • Gendered socialization patterns could explain why men are more likely than women to abandon religions (including Mormonism) *generally.* But this can’t fully account for why Utah Mormon men leave the faith in greater numbers and at a faster pace than Mormon men in other states. There is something else happening in Utah that amplifies the trend.

  • I think another factor is the difference in the emphasis of the Young Men and Young Women programs. The Young Men program places a heavy focus on doctrine, church history, and leadership, while the Young Women program puts more focus on relationships and nurturing. While it may not hold in all cases, men and women tend to disaffect along these same lines. Many men become disaffected after reading the church essays or something like the CES letter, while women usually disaffect due to fractured relationships in their family or ward or are unable to build new relationships after a move.

  • I worked for the church for about 18 months and heard it straight from the head of the statistical department that the church encourages men and women to marry young because single people are far more likely to leave the church (and stop paying tithing) around age 30.

  • I have another theory.Take a stroll into any fast and testimony meeting and you’ll find that it’s dominated by women. Without exaggeration, and if you’re LDS you know it to be true, 90% of the people getting up are women. And they cry, cry, cry. The infamous tear-filled testimonies about finding lost car keys and other such nonsense almost always come from, yep you guessed it, women. At the risk of coming across as a misogynistic jerk, I’ll just say it, women are illogical and emotional! They buy into the church, with all its sappiness, hook line and sinker. Walk into relief society and you’ll find a bunch of crying women happy to be there. A few exceptions, maybe an angry woman with short hair wearing purple pants off the side somewhere. Walk into elders quorum and you’ll find half of them asleep, the other half staring at their phones, and then a literal handful of weirdos who are really into it that are giving the rest of them guilt trips about not being more into it.

  • Peter said, “At the risk of coming across as a misogynistic jerk, I’ll just say it, women are illogical and emotional!” I am hearing ringing echoes of Dr. Doolittle.

    It’s funny, Peter. You accuse *all* women of being illogical and emotional (a point you cement with your own use of a very emotional exclamation point) and also say that women buy into the LDS Church “hook, line, and sinker.” You, on the other hand, appear to have bought into gender essentialism hook, line, and sinker.

  • Why? Tis simple, many men have concluded that Mormonism is nothing more than a business c-ult founded on the hallucinations of one Joseph Smith and his mythical friend, the horn-blo-wing Mo-roni.

  • At least you admit you’re saying misogynistic things? Only you went ahead and said them anyway. Because, by your own perception women dominate fast and testimony meeting? Point of interest, men tend to perceive women as dominating when we take up a mere 33% of the space, and perceive it as equality when women only get 17% presence, so let’s start with a grain of salt right there.

    Moving on from there, you jump right into an argument that because women sometimes cry where you can see, we’re too emotional and irrational and thus get suckered more by sap, which is a huge dismissal of both women’s emotions and minds as being frivolous. That’s such a leap of logic, one might conclude that you were making your diagnosis based not on rationality yourself, but *gasp!* your own FEELING of male rationality. One of your supporting points is an admitted stereotype. Is that the superior male rationality you mean? Supporting stereotypes by citing related stereotypes?

    Misogynistic blather…

  • I agree. And anecdotally find many more older (than 18/19) men willing to encounter and respond to church history or politics than women. This puzzles me as I find the Church’s doctrine much more harmful to women and more privileging to men. I too feel this is socialization and possibly biological as women feel risk more intensely and fear vocalization. Also women value their community even when it so clearly harms them.
    I know I personally feel the sting of leaving more than my husband because I don’t work and have no outside identity. Whereas I also felt more acutely the pain of staying.

  • I’m a man. Leaving the church had very little social consequence for me. Had my co-workers, had my sense of purpose (providing). The thought of leaving the church was devastating to my wife. Who would be her friends? What would be her purpose? How in the world would we raise our kids? What will happen to our “eternal” family? She cried and cried thinking about all the unknowns. There were no unknowns for me…largely because of the mormonistic norm we bought into. I would study, work, and provide, she would nuture spiritual kids in the home. Leaving Mormonism has far greater social implications for women, which is probably why more stay, even if they don’t buy into the theology or doctrine.

  • Blah blah, you didn’t respond to the substance of anything I said. Yeah, I’m so callous. Got it. Put aside my tone, which is intentionally colorful (hint, you’ve been trolled), and try taking a stab at the real issue here ==> 80% of “active” men in the church are drug there every week by their wives. In that context the true sex disparity in the church is more like 10 females for every 1 male, regardless of who shows up. Take a poll and ask who it is that’s rounding everybody up for FHE, family prayer, family scripture study, etc. Guaranteed, nine times out of ten, it’s the women doing this stuff. Men go along with it only to placate the women. For the same reason guys at BYU put duct tape on their legs. Modern-day LDS culture has been remade into this Disney fantasy that revolves around worshiping women and fulfilling all their childhood princess fantasies, complete with a castle wedding. It’s a two edged sword, depending on the side being played one or the other is being…

  • What point do you even think you’re making? Do you really think you can just point out and belittle every feminized thing that comes to mind and call it an argument against women? That IS just straight-up misogyny.

    Haha women, haha crying, haha pastel colors.

    You have no point, you just have no respect for women.

  • So you get to “troll,” and you get to decide whose points have any substance. Yeeeeeeaaaaah, no. Sorry, buddy. Not having any of that. I addressed your argument and it’s structure on the premises it hinged on. That’s a pretty substantive response. Take your implied shift of burden of proof and shove it back where the sun don’t shine. You’ve made a series of misogynistic claims using a flawed logical structure and premised on stereotypes, and have yet to back up your supposed “theory” as having any merit, and it’s not on anyone else to treat is as being worth more than the offensive opinion you’ve offered.

    “Durr-hurr, just trolling, durr-hurr, I got a response, everyone else is so dumb and I’m the puppet master making them jump.” Dude, that’s junior-level livejournal bs. Do better.

  • I was just adding a little levity to the room. But since you insist on being a stiff about all this, I should point out that misogyny is a negative word. A prejudice against women. Pointing out a simple fact of nature doesn’t qualify. Would I be a misogynist for pointing out that women make horrible football players? No, I wouldn’t. It’s a simple statement of fact. I’m not hating on women by saying that. And it’s also a simple statement of fact that women ARE more emotional than men. They just are, get a psychology book. And this makes them more susceptible to religion in general, particularly the modern form of the LDS church. Inside the church women have an attitude that they are “more righteous” than men. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard this argument used to argue against Ordain Women. Women say that the the reason men have the priesthood is because they “need” it, a way of disciplining them because they aren’t as naturally righteous as the sisters.

  • That’s interesting and I agree with your take, but I also feel like I experienced the total opposite. I disaffected from the church and my husband (sorta, kinda) disaffected years later. At the time of my own faith transition I perceived that my own disaffection had *zero* impact on anyone outside myself. We have no children yet, but I kept thinking my own inactivity wouldn’t keep my future children from being baptized and blessed by their father. His continued activity guaranteed the blessings of the priesthood in the home, in the eyes of the church.

    I often mused that if instead I was the one committed to the church and he had left, my future kids would be without the blessings of the priesthood in the home, wouldn’t be able to get baptized or blessed by their parent, and I’d be the tragic quasi-widow of the wayward husband who forfeited his priesthood and cursed us all.

    It was hard for me to deal with the fact that my presense or absense in church was completely…

  • Here’s a challenge for you. Randomly visit completely different wards for the next six months. Take a survey of how many women vs. men get up in F&T meeting. Similarly see how engaged they are in other meetings. Take total attendance for each gender, and then tally up engagement. How many men vs. women make comments in class. Filter our the crazy outlier people who never shut up, every ward has one or two. Then let’s see the results. What it will tell you is what all men who attend LDS services with their wife/family already know from their personal experience – it’s all about the women. Most of the time, MOST of the time, an overwhelming most, the women are the driving force behind it all.

    Exhibit B: Julie Rowe

  • “junior-level livejournal bs” is one of the best take-downs I’ve seen in a while. Well done, Rune.

  • “I was just joking” is a lazy retreat from being called out for being offensive. You weren’t joking, your words were specifically meant to belittle and dismiss women. Women are not a joke.

    And you’re still trying to shift burden of proof. You’re making offensive statements. “Everyone knows” and “just facts” is not a defense.

  • Peter, with an attitude like that I assume you don’t actually know any women or at least don’t have any that are important to you in your life. I don’t understand how you could day such awful things if you really had anyone you cared about that was a woman. For other women’s sakes and yours, may you stay forever single and not propagate your caveman style of thinking to another generation.

  • Social ramifications can have serious and severe life-altering consequences on a deep survival level. It is completely -rational- to weigh costs and benefits there carefully. Women are not “more emotional” because they face greater social penalties and losses for renouncing church. “Social” doesn’t just mean a gadding circle, it means your entire support network, often affecting your children, too.

  • The different promises that Mormonism offers men and women probably have something to do with it. Men are offered something very different by the church than women are, both in this life and the next. Men get more or less a pyramid scheme of leadership opportunity, ending with the eternal kingdom of wife(wives) and progeny. Those who don’t see themselves ever “winning” that specific game, or wanting it, may find little other draw. The promises women get are even more ephemeral than that in the hereafter, thus less easy to discount outright, and presently the social penalties for going off-book can be severe. It’d be interesting for someone who’s versed in sociology to look much more closely at what the actual specific differences are in the carrots and the sticks offered.

  • Agree 100% that a women staying (or staying longer) due to considering social implications is completely rational. As a Mormon man I didn’t have to worry so much about the social. Very little changed for me. And that is also rational. If my livelihood and ability to provide had been tied to the church, possibly a different story. After all, you don’t see too many general authorities leaving, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t ones who don’t subscribe to the theology. Once you’re in deep and you have important human needs tied to it, whether they be social or financial, staying in is a very rational choice.

  • What is this burden of proof business? You want me to prove that women are more likely to get up in F&T meeting than the men? Is this a joke?

  • I’ll take “cry, cry, crying” (which, by the way, women have been socialized to do in Mormonism because that is the example they see) over the man in my ward who is first to the podium every. single. fast. Sunday. to testify about the truthfulness of his father’s use of corporal punishment.

    I wonder if anyone has done a tally/study of women’s actual participation on fast Sundays, both in number of words/minutes and number of speakers relative to their percentage of representation in the ward. I imagine it would look a lot like this:
    https://www.pbs.org/speak/speech/prejudice/women/

  • Peter Imnotamisogynist thinks it’s a joke when a woman asks him to back up his claim about what women are like rather than just take his word for it.

  • If you’re going to slam an entire gender for being more emotionally ruled than the supposedly rational masculine, you might want to brush up on basic rules of logical argument first, because you are literally asking to be held to a higher standard of logic.

    And if you’re going to say crap like that, you absolutely deserve to have your feet held to the fire for every single premise, presupposition, and leap of logic contained within your claims.

  • Yes, married people, especially ones with children, are more mature. They don’t hang out all night playing video games. They don’t spend as much money on luxuries and frivolous things (Mint in box collectible Star Wars characters?). They have to get educations and get real jobs so they can support a family. Does this harm young adults, to get married and become more mature in their behavior? Heck no! This is not something new. Brigham Young declared regularly from the pulpit that any young man over the age of 19 who is not married is a “menace to society.” Truman Madsen spoke about he and his sweetheart were postponing their marriage while he went to graduate school, but their stake patriarch encouraged them to give priority to getting married and starting a family. It turned out that Sister Madsen had a medical condition that limited her childbearing years, and if they had delayed marriage, they would not have had their children.

  • The wards I have lived in the last 40 years have not had a significant gender imbalance. Nor is testimony meeting dominated by women. And the men cry just as much as the women. My current bishop is notorious for shedding a few tears when he speaks.

  • “Yes, married people, especially ones with children, are more mature.”

    This is demonstratively false. I am so tired of the endless infantilization of single adults by smugly married people. This attitude that we are all immature adolescents leads to the creation of separate wards, where the activities are human hungry hippos, overseen by a younger married couple. Singles are more likely to leave because WE AREN’T TREATED LIKE ADULTS.

  • Just saying, in my ward there are always far more men getting up in testimony meeting, and I can’t recall the last time I saw anyone cry – crying is pretty rare.

  • [Comment edited to remove personal insults]

    Peter wrote earlier: “…. women are illogical and emotional!…”

    . . . women having more emotional reasons for staying in the LDS Church is not the same as women being illogical and emotional.

    The LDS Church probably does put a greater emotional burden on women and they probably do respond to it. But that’s not to say that if the LDS Church put the same emotional burden on men they wouldn’t respond the way women do.

  • No need to get upset at people who try to make themselves feel better by throwing labels at a targeted group.

  • It seems that this blog has become a gathering place for cyber bottom-dwellers. I’d be interested in hearing how the blog’s author feels about this.

    As for my thoughts, it seems apparent that (at least on this blog) those who are disaffected or disaffiliated from the LDS are more engaged in debating LDS-related topics than LDS themselves. This is very curious to me- you would think that those most personally involved in LDS life and LDS teachings would also be the ones most interested in LDS-related conversations, like the way coffee lovers might enjoy discussing Starbucks while Mormons would probably yawn. I would guess most readers have heard the ‘you can leave it, but you can’t leave it alone’ one-line applied to the LDS Church; the comments here seem to reinforce that idea. There seem to be about 2 comments so far from “mainstream” LDS voices, and about 48 from the disaffiliated in fact or appearance. Flunking Sainthood indeed 🙂 ~Sasha A

  • The part of the interview based on objective data was meaningful. The rest (including the comments) is all just speculation. I expect there are myriad combinations of reasons why people leave the religion of their childhood.

  • My exit from the Mormon Church began as local leadership decided that my sons should have other home-teaching companions than me. Both boys soon stopped attending church after being assigned to other men as their home-teaching companions. Even though this took place 7 years apart and under different bishops, the result was the same. My sons and I got the unstated message that someone I did not measure up in helping my own sons stay active. Later, after both sons had left the Church, they did an intervention on me, suggesting that I should leave the Church, too. And eventually, I did. The efforts of our local ward to manipulate our family for the greater good backfired entirely on them. I have not been to Church in five years.

  • Two of my cousins came out gay after returning from their missions. One was beaten bloody by his Mormon father over it. Although they eventually reconciled, the rejected son got into wild partying as a newly outed gay man, contracted HIV and died of AIDS in the mid-1980s. The other cousin was well-accepted by his family, his family choosing him over the Church; He’s happily married to another gay Mormon man. I have 40+ cousins, and we have produced 100+ kids among us. We are about 35% active and about 65% inactive. Some cousins have had their names removed from Church rolls and now attend other churches. Being actively Mormon is not always a good fit for a lot of men, even after serving a full-time mission as I and many of my cousins have.

  • I feel that the church is less friendly to boys and men than it is to women. The problems feminists list are real, but girls and women are treated better in other ways. It seems lost on everyone in the church that women have visiting teachers that are there for them personally and individually, while men do not. Men are constantly told it is their priesthood duty to serve, while their individual needs are rarely, if ever, a concern–unless those needs have to do with taking care of a family or personal worthiness. Teenage boys are rarely told they have value and worth the way teenage girls are. The way general authorities talk to women and the way they talk to men is different, too. They seem more sympathetic and less demanding of women, and never seem to speak to them forcefully. And the fact that older men and men who are the most committed to the church meet separately from younger and less-committed men is another difference in men’s church experience.

  • And also…sins that are far more common among teenage boys and men in society than they are among women will disqualify a person from participating fully in the church.

  • Whist there appears to be a lot of concern about people leaving the Church, the fact is that we have had large percentages of inactive members for a long time. I haven’t seen stats to demonstrate whether that has increased or decreased recently. What I have seen is a huge amount of discussion online with figures bandied about with no source material at all. We all have varying experiences depending on where we live and who we are, but in the end our relationship with Christ should be the reason we attend Church, not because we’re afraid people will talk about us if we don’t go. Grow up people!

    In the article, do we define leaving as stopping going to Church or actually being excommunicated or having their records removed? How many will come back? After many years in the Church I appreciate that women have a tough time of it and that Mormon men can act as jerks. Most would find a very different world if they acted the same with women outside.

  • I’d suggest that your experience is limited here.

    Mormon men are quite definitely socialized to be deferential to their leadership, on the receiving end of considerable obedience rhetoric, and however else they may or may not be told their voices should be heard, it is *not* in dissent to the faith.

  • Raymond, you are out of line.

    I don’t what (highly unusual) experience you have had with a single LDS Church member who was lazy/not contributing/childish, but you are behaving very badly here to extrapolate from that experience to claim that [all] married people are “more mature” than single people and that singles have nothing better to do with their time than playing video games and collecting figurines.

    Tell it to the face of single Mormon Sheri Dew, who heads up the Church’s publishing company and, in her spare time, writes books and served for years in the Relief Society general presidency. At her own expense.

    Tell it to the face of single Mormon Sharon Eubank, who directs LDS Charities, the Church’s humanitarian wing.

    Or tell it to the face of Julia, right here on this blog, whom you have just insulted with your gross mischaracterization of an entire subset of brothers and sisters in Christ.

    Or you could do the right thing and apologize.

  • Allen, your observations echo my own strongly. In particular I will add that I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard in priesthood meeting something like “If you can’t make all your home teaching, please make sure you visit the single sisters first.” I find a lot of value in a gospel that is concerned for the widows and orphans (hi, James 1:27), but the widower may be equally or even more vulnerable socially, yet I see persistent messages that he’s not quite as important to attend to.

    And I also suspect the weight of a lot of the rhetoric about porn and certain related counsel embodied in talks like Packer’s “To Young Men Only” falls particularly heavily on… well, young men.

    Your observation about the priesthood quorum separation between older faithful men and younger less-invested one is an interesting and unique one that I think deserves more attention.

  • First, I don’t fit the profile in this article. I served a mission, met my wife 46 years ago at BYU, and married in the temple. But I was effectively out of Mormonism less than five years after my mission, and my wife and I were officially out (excommunicated for apostasy) about 13 years into our marriage. We’re both sixth-generation Mormons and the great-grandchildren of polygamists.

    Still, I see the point of this research. We hear these narratives from Mormon men in our church. Moreover, my Protestant congregation ordains women, giving them both the opportunity and authority to serve. The Mormon women we ordain often describe the experience in Mormonese as “having the priesthood.”

    Our success in attracting lapsed Mormons is probably due to our intentional affirmation of their Mormon ethnicity, even though they are not religious Mormons. I always describe myself in present tense as a Mormon.

  • I was never thrilled with the plan of salvation, but I had a testimony so I did the whole BYU\temple\kids thing. For me, the essays represent the restoration of free agency. It means that people like me, who were incredibly unhappy in the church, even while keeping all covenants, can get out. It is hard to leave it alone after you have left, but consider this. If I had not been raised Mormon I would most certainly have a more fulfilling career. I may not have married at all and would likely have had none or fewer children. As it is I’m kinda stuck. Those options I had when I was 20 will never be options and I think that is where the bitterness and anger come from. I have let it go and I LOVE my kids, I enjoy my “accidental” career, and I’m finding my voice. I am happy for those for whom the church works. I am glad it is becoming easier to leave for those for whom it doesn’t. In the end it’s the one size fits all ideology I just couldn’t take.

  • As much as stereotypes and polarization are IMHO the root of many of the truly pointless issues in society I must concede that the lds church truly encourages people to ignore facts, science, and reason for ‘feelings’ and ’emotions’. I am devastated right now, my wife fits that mold perfectly. She has never had an original thought and is very much controlled 100% by her emotions and feelings. She is the type to tear up during some emotional discussion in Relief Society.
    Last Friday I told her I didn’t believe in Mormonism anymore. It wasn’t a great time (i’m the king of bad timing it seems) we had a baby 2 months ago. The crying starts, for three days the crying continues, 4 days later she left with our baby to her parent’s house in CA (more fanatics). I’m broken, really, how could she choose the church over me? We have a child for god’s sake. This is what happens when people aren’t taught to think for themselves…

  • I left after the mission not because of any other reason than the fact the church is not true. Being exposed to other faiths and the internet makea you aware that you been lied to. Simple.

  • Thank you so very much for your amazing message ..!! :)) I’m a Christian ready and I have prayed to the Lord about it and he has given me the right of way to follow his children in the Church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints. Last year I received a divine gift to write and I am writing a Book for my mission with this Book .. It is sad when People talk about the perusing of the Lords wish upon there life for the Better of one self and the mission with growing in Christ. I also think if you leave a church that wants to help you live out a Christian life then see how being out in the society fully how’s that working for you? With your ignorant responses I’d say not that good..! Have some respect you want to ask about your path do it with the Lord. We all have a journey some are to know the world more and some for the Lord.

  • What I meant to say and got posted without being able to edit. I meant It is sad thing when people say bad things to others that want to follow the Lord.

  • Very obvious You have no intention to know the Lord but better yet not even a respected human ? Are you serious you sound mad and angry at the world But Jesus s not going to twist your arm to know him. Is it not funny people leaving any church as a so called Christian has plenty of dirty remarks to through back but God is the one who sent you there and God should be the one to take you out but he never said give them a hand words now did he. ? If you really knew the Lord then it would show.

  • What kind of giber gabber may that be? .. When you know the Lord that’s all you need when you don’t then that s your own gifted in language and I say you do not know Christ or you would not be talking in a language only the Aliens can be so obliged to be coherent of ..

  • I’m sorry do you work for God? or do you work for who? If you don’t like it then go. You need to be a Christian with a comment not a wold sucking magic going down to wrong path and telling me about it. Be nice no matter what you think or you’ll be always contradicting yourself as to who the bad guy is.

  • I am so sorry being honest in your relationship has backfired horribly. But it is true that people will gravitate to those who share and bolster their own beliefs and opinions. She went home to her family for the needed support she needed when you announced a viewpoint contrary to what she held dear, and the traditions she valued and was raised up in. Sadly in sociological research, a tradition, whether true or false can be more internalized and held as sacred even if facts support a totally different stance. Some people refused to accept the world was round, and not flat as they were taught to believe. Culture vastly determines how you interpret new information, and if your personal culture or tradition doesn’t allow for differing viewpoints or opinions. Then they will seek out where their beliefs will be nurtured and supported.

  • My wife has on occasion joked about me taking her to church, and I’ve reiterated in front of my step-mom that if we ever did that, it would have to be on a fast and testimony meeting day. “no, that’s the WORST day to take her” says my step-mom, and we both simultaneously say “that’s when the crazy people get up and talk crazy mormon stuff”.

  • Anecdotally for the 18 years I attended church F&T meeting was ALWAYS 90% women talking, 10% men. I could tell you WORD FOR WORD what 3 or 4 of them were going to say, and be 95% accurate. 100% accurate for the first 3 sentences. And the “my wife drags me here every week” was so palpable, it was the one thing I really became “faithful, and devout” about: No damn woman was going to drag me to church every sunday.

  • I believe that secretly the church is trying to reduce the number of men so they can bring polygamy back and have enough women for the men that are left

  • Very good point. And probably others look at that course of life and find it restrictive, psychologically burdensome, too hidebound.

  • Could it be that some young men prefer to be Democrats and nort Republicans, and they see the Mormon Church, like the Catholic bishops, owned by the Republican party?

  • All men over 28 are pariahs, only there to serve the hormones of those younger ‘elders’…This is strongly enforced by peer pressure,(aggressive insincere youth,) institutional age prejudice, and more…Each generation is separated in social events as well..First question you will be asked is not ‘how are you?’ But ‘How Old are you..’

  • This institutional age prejudice culminated around 12 years ago when the ‘over 28’s’ were banned from social events of ‘under 28’s’…No loyalty or kindness to those who are actually older…Previous generations know how good they had it, and are now simply profiting financially, heedless and indifferent to the inevitable destabilization of the tribe/faith…

  • No coffee
    No cigars
    No wine
    No Tea
    I am a Christian, and my savior, turned water into wine at the marriage in Cana. Good enough for Jesus – good enough for me.
    Jesus was a Jew in Israel. The Jews had no prohibition against wine. and don’t give me the water into grape juice nonsense. That is like the Muslims blowing themselves up and not getting 72 virgins but rather 72 raisins. No one blows themselves up for 72 raisins and Jesus didn’t waste his miracle on turning 6 jugs of water into Welch’s Grape Juice.

  • Good news is for men who stay is that having men like me leaving sets up the need for plural marriage again, doesn’t it? Joseph Smith was commanded to take as plural wives, women already civilly married to living men who were either non-Mormon, apostate or even temporarily disaffected. With all of these Mormon men leaving there will certainly be a need to seal LDS women to faithful priesthood holders. My believing wife will be reassigned in the hereafter (if there is such thing) to some worthy unflinching Mormon man who isn’t bugged by all of the problems in LDS history and doctrine. Meanwhile I’ll get to stand outside if any of my kids get Temple married. It’s gonna be fun for all involved.

  • Why would men leave this goofy cult?? Only men have the chance to become gods of their own planet and have multiple spirit wives with whom to sire spirit children who need bodies to be born into. (Mormons never disclose that the reason the idiots have such huge families is because the spirit children need bodies). Mormon men have it made in the shade, as long as they do all the nutty stuff the Morg tell them to do. Eventually, they’ll progress to godhood.

    Mormon women, whose purpose is to act as brood sows to breed bodies for spirit-children, kinda take it in the shorts.

  • Obedience vs Agency. You decide? If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice… however, you just may not actually go anywhere.

  • I wish i could get my Mormon friend to see that – the Mormon church is not a true Christian Church…….the Mormon followers are slaves to the Temple….. not to God or Jesus …..control is what they do – can’t do this – can’t do that…… tithe to a man who is worth over 14 million – no thanks……..

  • As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses this article is very fascinating to me. I find the ratio of men leaving the LDS faith very similar to those men leaving JW faith. I agree with the comment; No coffee, No cigars. No wine, No Tea. I would add “and not having sex outside marriage” I think that one of the main reason why men leave their faith more than women is because men are just men and usually they have a less subdue attitude. Girls are milder.
    JW loses about 50K members per year by expelling or disfellowshipping (usually because immorality) and I’d guess another 50K of JWs become inactive yearly. However we get 250K new baptized worldwide, a total increase of 1.5% average per year, so we keep growing. We’re over 8.2 million worldwide.
    I’ve been a JW for 25 years and I’m active. Through my ministry I’d talked to several LDS which I found very decent, nice and good people with high moral values. Mormons used to preach from door to door as JW do. (I’ve read that leaders of LDS are not promoting it anymore). In doctrinal matters LDS and JW cannot be more different; however regarding family values, love for God and for our neighbor we’re very similar!
    Yes, religion worldwide is decreasing. Secularism, the internet, the anxieties of this system of things and the desires of the eyes are decimating the faithful. Christianity is in the shambles. But this is to be expected because of Bible prophesy. Jesus said (Matthew 24:12) “. . .and because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off” …The apostle Paul said in (2 Timothy 3:1-5) “. . .But know this, that in the last days critical times hard to deal with will be here. For men will be lovers of themselves… lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form of godly devotion but proving false to its power…” We can see the fulfillment of that.

    Let’s remember that it’s God who blesses and make the religion grows (Psalm 127:1) “. . .Unless God (Jehovah) himself builds the house, It is to no avail that its builders have worked hard on it.. . .” (1 Corinthians 3:6, 7) “ I planted, A•pol′los watered, but God kept making [it] grow; so that neither is he that plants anything nor is he that waters, but God who makes [it] grow”

    So what’s the future of any Christian religion? A wise man of the first century, Gamaliel said (Acts 5:34-39) “ . . And so, under the present circumstances, I say to YOU, Do not meddle with these men, but let them alone; (because, if this scheme or this work is from men, it will be overthrown; but if it is from God, YOU will not be able to overthrow them;) . . .”

  • Some of the best fruit of leaving this church is getting away from smug, arrogant attitudes like yours. This cyber bottom-dweller is absolutely interested in all things Mormon. I’m sixth generation, born in the covenant temple married leader who got out not because of being offended or wanting to sin, but because the truth claims of the church are demonstrably false. I think the reason more men leave the church is because men tend do delve more into the dogma, tenets, and esoteric sayings of this church. I did. And knowing a lot about what we really believe set me up to challenges to these cherished beliefs. You know what, they fell like a house of cards due to the sand these tenets are built on. And I stay engaged due to many reasons. I have a tie to Mormonism. I’m absolutely fascinated by large numbers of intelligent people believing falsifiable claims, and following men that they believe literally to be the mouthpiece of Deity. I follow, like a sibling that left an abusive father who is eager to get the other siblings away from the damaging practices of this cultish organization. But you go on Sasha, believing what you do, and in the meantime, why don’t you apply the ‘you can leave it, but you can’t leave it alone’ meme to your own church when you send out the garish white shirts with name tags that accost the rest of humanity to persuade them with sturm and drang to follow a Prophet who wed and bed 14 year old girls and other men’s wives.

  • I was raised Mormon and never liked it. I didn’t want the priesthood, but it’s mandatory. Every Mormon man is forced into clergy at the age of twelve. The church is a nightmare for people who just aren’t interested in superstition and ritual.

  • I agree Allen having the HP and elders split is tough. Also look at how boys in cub scouts are split into small groups and meet every week with strict often boring curriculum, while Activity Days for girls is more about fun and all the girls meet together only bi-weekly. The YW program is more accessible to all girls than the scouting program, which a lot of boys dislike. Also boys are pressured to camp every month, which many boys do not want to do (and is tough for leaders too). Men are also tasked with most leadership positions, which is a huge commitment. I would say most members feel women are more “spiritual” than men, which is insulting. Men and women are talked to differently by church leadership.

  • Shelter male

    There is a place for all men in the kingdom of heaven. The one thing you must consider is….do all men belong there?
    My father in heaven has devised a perfect plan to help every man determine for themselves whether or not they will choose to enter into the kingdom of heaven. This is an elite group. Many will boast of their own devices, yet will fall short of the glory of god. Understanding ones potential is understanding the word of god. Men understand the word of men. The church is very strict and wise in being that. Men are proud of their worldly fame and accomplishments, but a loving father does not need be. The authority of God is what a man of the church should strive for. Only thing is….you have to know what you want to use it for. Go ahead and talk your descension, feed on your worldly needs to have the approval of others. I am a child of God. I look forward to making my eternal family. The church is the only true church . The only one with the authority of God. Let no man stand in your way from taking your birth right. Those who choose to leave the church are choosing to leave the kingdom of heaven. Don’t blame anyone else, the choice is yours and yours alone. I am not an active member. I live with my choice everyday. I am sad that I have lost my authority to take my birth right. One day I will return to the church and reclaim my stake in the kingdom of heaven.

  • I have been all over the world. I served a full two year mission in Brasil, I spent a summer in the Middle East, another summer in Mexico. I have met women from every continent, religion, race, and countless nations. The worst women by far, anywhere in the world, are LDS women from Utah. They are the most shallow, two-faced, demanding, childish, deceitful, liars in existence. They are 12 year old girls perpetually trapped in adult women’s bodies. This is what we reap for telling every female in the church, from the time they are old enough to speak, that they are the most precious wonderful flower on the Earth. No man can live up to the standards of what they are told that they deserve. Such a man doesn’t even exist. Is it any wonder the divorce rates in the church are so high? Or that the abuse of prescription medication is so high in Utah, especially among women?

    I haven’t seen my best friend in two years. He married a pretty BYU princess. He is afraid to go home every day because his wife throws sharp, heavy things at his head. She screams so loud that their neighbors have called the cops numerous times because they think incorrectly that he’s the one abusing her … couldn’t be further from the truth. She threatens him constantly that she’s going to leave him and let him raise their baby girls … by himself. The problem? He’s not what she was promised her entire life, and she knows it’s her duty to make him aware of that fact. He is the most faithful, hard working, kind hearted man I have ever known.

    I was promised my entire mission that if I worked hard and was obedient, that my reward was to come home and I would meet the special young woman that the Lord had been preparing for me … still looking … I’m not buying the lie anymore though. My cousin who is several years older than me, and that I’m close with, gave up. He stopped looking for a LDS girl altogether. He married a Catholic girl that is an absolute angel. She is the most devout Christian I know, and a blessing to our family.

    … I hope I can find a nice Catholic girl …

  • The reason why more men are leaving the lds church is the age discrimination that exists in the church..men over 31 are simply treated badly…..

  • Baloney. Limburger baloney. Obviously, you know nothing about Mormons and their doctrine. “Slaves to the Temple”. Sorry, that is the stupidest statement I’ve ever heard. Even Trump wouldn’t say anything as stupid as that.

  • BS Alert. Nothing of what you say is even close to true. But you believe everyone on earth who doesn’t go to your “christian” denomination is going to burn in hell forever. Right? So the billions of people who never heard of Christ are going straight to Hell. The Medieval portrait is correct for you, Richie Preacher.

  • I suggest you read “Wrestling the Angel” by Terry L. Givens: a brilliant compendium of LDS theology from the beginning to the present.

    As for falsification: Here is a list of easily falsifiable ideas: Adam and Eve, Garden of Eden, the Flood, Exodus. The Bible becomes more historical in or about 600 BCE. The New Testament is less easily falsified, since the story is placed in a historically definable context. You can believe or disbelieve Christ’s miracles, but you cannot falsify them.

    As for Joseph Smith – again a lot of non-falsifiable stuff. His family believed him and all followed him (they would have been the first to know if he was faking). They knew what Smith did, and they followed him. His brother took a bullet for him. Name one other “prophet” whose entire family followed him. The Golden Plates: again his family knew about them. They helped Smith hide them, his wife had to move them to dust. They were forbidden to view them so were kept covered. His mother wrote about thumbing the plates – they were stiff like playing card. Eleven Witnesses saw the plates and 3 handled them. None ever denied their witness, even after leaving the church. Smith “wrote” The Book of Mormon, a 500 page book in about 20 weeks. It was never re-written. It went to press as soon as Oliver Cowdrey and the printer corrected spelling, etc. That version is available today. Twenty weeks. Nobody writes a book the size of the Bible in 20 weeks. In two studies, one at BYU and one at Berkeley, wordprint analysis falsified the hypothesis that Smith or anyone of Smith’s acquaintance, “wrote” the Book of Mormon. Instead the analyses demonstrated that each of the books’ authors (Nephi, Alma, Mormon, etc.) had statistically significant different wordprints. The probability that the BOM had a single author was less than 1 in a billion (p = 0.000000001). The Berkeley test team consisted of several Jews and only one Mormon.

    So to suggest that the Mormon foundation is easily falsified is naive. This is not to say that members and leaders’ writings cannot be falsified. Brigham Young’s many writings, including the 1857 priesthood ban, are no longer considered to be scripture. Though Mormons honor Brigham Young for saving the Church, his theology is not considered valid by most. If you think you can falsify the fundamental doctrines of the LDS Church, go for it. But remember, you can’t use some Sunday School teacher’s opinion as representing the church’s position. Or even a general authority’s opinion. For example, even evolution was hotly debated in the Council of the Twelve, and the Church’s position is to take no position. Personally, I’ve never believed in a literal Adam and Eve or Flood. Others do, I don’t care (much) unless they try to debate with me. I just say, “Well, they teach evolution and all aspect of geology, anthropology, chemistry and physics at BYU”. Go argue with them.

    Sorry for lecture, but you asked for it.

  • There are thousand of X Mormons that believe the Mormon “church” is a sect…… I guess they are stupid too……they believe that Jesus and Satan are brothers – and if they get enough dead people baptized – they qualify to be a God in their own “earth”……. even my Mormon friend believes this……

  • do you? – read the bible? – read the commandment : thous shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor…. read that over and over until you understand what you are doing….

  • no no – we don’t believe anyone that is not Christian will burn in hell…… it is up God the Father who does and who does not get to Heaven – not you and not me…… so your comment is ridiculous…

  • just try reading the bible (the new Testament – the words of Jesus) full of wonderful stories of salvation –

  • As a NEVER Mormon I’m fascinated sociologically about how your cult has gotten generation upon generation to not recognize the true nature of the church. That more men are leaving is a symptom of men being LESS tolerant of being blatantly lied to than the womenfolk who have been conditioned to keep their mouths shut and play along.

  • THANK YOU! It took me a month of being “nice” before finally I had to be blunt with those missionary types. They say everything nicely and properly and they try to get you started with a gift of the Book of Mormon but then they spring Doctrines & Covenants on you and things get really strange as in NOT what Jesus ever taught strange.

  • For anyone new to Christianity it is a lot for anyone to accept when they first hear about miracles and virgin births. It’s a step further to believe a deity came to earth, humbled himself in flesh, allowed himself to be killed, then returned to life. All of these are however mitigated by having tangible proof of the peoples and places with consistent traditions from now back to the faintest traces of history. To accept a man found gold plates in a language he didn’t know about containing a history of places that can’t be found, with peoples who don’t exist, in a place where the current and historical peoples have no matching record in the slightest is a step too far for potential converts.

  • You believe in your version of the fairy tale and they will continue believing theirs.

  • A logically rational educated man, or woman, has an extremely difficult time keeping a straight face when considering the illogical and farcical contentions of Mormonism, especially when that person knows the true histories of the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Book of Abraham, and the Lectures on Faith. This is dramatically true regarding the Book of Abraham and the recovered Joseph Smith Papyri. I mean, in adult classes attended by convert men and women who have attained baccalaureate and graduate degrees from major universities, when the topic of horses on the North American continent is discussed, and the delusional teacher proclaims that there were millions of horses in ancient America before Columbus and the Spanish brought them to the New World, it is very hard to keep a straight face. I mean, there are so many anachronisms in the Book of Mormon that can’t stand up scientific inquiry. Most converts, men and women, who are honest with themselves resign from Mormonism within 5 years after baptism. Some people take much longer due to the effect of cognitive dissonance and the inability to admit they were deceived by the Mormon missionaries. Yet, the Mormon Church will never start removing resigning elders from the membership rolls. Why? It is because of the “oath and covenant of the Melchizedek priesthood.” A man who quits the Mormon Church after being made an elder can never be “released” from his oath and covenant made at the time those Mormons lay their hands on those men and ordain them.. They might get letters telling them that their names have been removed from the records of the Mormon Church, but it’s all a big lie.

  • I think Mit Romney as Stake President referred to that “over 28” group as the “Loser’s club.”

  • In Australia I was the “Melchezedic Priesthood Quorum President.” We met together because our numbers were small. MUCH better class dynamics, and much better cohesion in the ward during that time. Later they split into two quorums.

  • Take a look into your own bible. The degeneracy and slavery actively promoted, indeed mandated, praised, and promoted by Yahweh himself horrific. before you can lead the other blind folks you will need to learn to see the truth. You are so shocked than anyone could believe in Mormonism yet believe that two of every animal was put into a boat for forty days while God rained down a genocidal Earth covering apocalypse. You just can’t understand why anyone would believe such nonsense, not because you don’t really understand, but because it actively challenges you and humiliates you to see just how crazy faith looks from the outside. You are EXACTLY the same as them.

  • and my friend thinks she will one day be a God on her own planet because she found dead people to baptise…… yea that is something I can believe in – think I will run right down to my local Mormon LDS center and join……. NOT!

  • kerrielou this post was two years ago and I don’t doubt the sincerity of it. I just wonder if you still feel the same now. I think about the choices I made when I was young and wonder how my life would be different. Thing is a person can never assume that the choices they bypassed would have led to happiness. You have to have more than one life to know that.

  • How about finding a girl devoted to God-period. There are MANY atrocities in the Catholic religion, so awful, so disgusting it isn’t even funny.

  • That is true in other religions as well. Family units want to stick to tradition, singles tend to balk at traditions as they are more or less practicing free agency in all aspects of their lives.

  • Ahh…leaving…or DRIVEN out? Not that I’d believe this wacky proposal that men are being encouraged, ala what the FLDS cult has done, to leave in order to create a surplus of women to facilitate polygamy. However, how men that don’t “fit the mold” are treated at times is downright disgraceful. Basically, if your marriage goes south, you’re automatically assumed to be the jerk and “unworthy”, or if you don’t marry by a certain age, then you’re a “menace to society”, and so on. How many men have more or less be made unwelcome by the in-sensitivities and judgmentalism of their fellow LDS, and IGNORED by their leaders?

  • If he did, speaks ill of him, to judge his fellow PH holder as a “loser” just because the man doesn’t marry according to “Brother” Romney’s expectations. Were the man to refer to me as some manner of “loser” for being divorced, I’ll tell him to go “eFFF” himself in no uncertain terms

  • Many LDS men do act like jerks…and they create a presumption of guilt for the rest.

  • Why any EQ president or HP Group leader would have your sons assigned to someone else to HT, when you’re perfectly willing and able, escapes me. What a bunch of idiots.

  • I can’t speak for women, but I have a different theory (than the expectation of men to serve missions) as to why women are more likely to stay active than men . I think it has more to do with men having the role of priesthood holder, and the expectation that brings of having spiritual insight, and then not experiencing it. Perhaps men have more opportunities to experience the failure of the Spirit to live up to its hype, like in never feeling anything while trying to give an “inspired” blessing. If a woman never feels the Spirit in the ways we’re supposed to, she can just chalk it up to it not being her role to lead people and tell them what God wants them to do.

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