Lightening the Load
Youth program changes
Random these-kids-today changes
- Social issues. Young adults aren’t just leaving because church meetings were too long or missionary service was difficult. There are deep-seated social issues at work, rooted in changing definitions of the family in the United States. The church continues to treat unmarried people as if they are simply biding time until their “real,” grown-up lives will begin at marriage; it continues to preclude women from positions with decision-making authority; it continues to marginalize LGBTQ people. Some of those issues around gender and sexuality touch the very heart of the way the church has defined itself doctrinally for decades now, so it’s unlikely to budge anytime soon. Millennials aren’t likely to budge either. This spells a serious and possibly unbridgeable divide.
- Disaffiliation is heavy across the board. As I mentioned, young adults are leaving religion in significantly higher numbers than previous generations did when they were the same age. Mormonism is a tiny minority in terms of the U.S. population — a little more than 1.5% of Americans say they are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which is lower than the percentage whose names are still on the rolls). It is very, very hard for such a tiny minority religion to resist the tide of its host culture. When roughly 98.5% of Americans are going one way, Mormonism is going to be affected by those trajectories, no matter what Latter-day Saints leaders do or do not do.