There is a reason why retention approaches zero.
There is a reason why people can study their way out of the Church.
There is a reason why a large percentage of non-American return missionaries seem to leave Mormonism.
There is a reason why the United States remains the only western democracy that does not grant equal constitutional status to women.
There is a reason why our gay children are more likely to harm themselves than our straight children.
Hellmut – please tell me more about what you mean by equal constitutional status for women.
I declare this post a “fact-free” zone. Unless Hellmut cares to elaborate, that is.
Aerin, I am referring to the absence of an equal rights clause in the United States Constitution. You might know that part of Gordon Hinckley’s legacy is the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment by activating Relief Society members to protest against the ratification in state legislatures.
Having thousands of women testify against equality was a powerful statement not only in Rocky Mountain states but in places such as Virginia.
During the seventies, equal rights for women were constitutionally protected in most democracies. To date, the United States remains the only western democracy that does not extend the same protection to women.
While women rights have been largely secured by statute, gender does not enjoy the same protection in the United States as constitutionally protected categories. That status continues to have consequences in such matters as employment discrimination.
Thanks Hellmut – yes, I understand what you’re referring to now. I too would like to see something similar to the ERA passed here in the U.S. I too am disappointed it wasn’t passed in the 70s.
I’m not sure about most states – I will check – but I think most companies/states have policies that do not allow discrimination by race, creed or gender.
I will also say – just having these types of laws on the books is not enough. The former Soviet Union had many legal/constitutional provisions of equality for women – but in practice, a great deal of discrimination still took place. To some extent, there was a great deal of pioneering for women. But, women still didn’t have the protections that many US women take for granted (freedom to leave their husbands in case of abuse, r_ape, etc.) The U.S. is by no means perfect on this either.
Laws have to be enforced, and everyone in society (from corporations, to companies, to families) needs to know that certain behavior is not acceptable.
Hellmut, I’m curious about what you see the link between low retention rates and GBH to be (I presume that’s what you’re talking about).
Good question, Jonathan. Compared to the sixties and seventies, retention during Gordon Hinckley’s aegis, which begun in 1981, was low. I don’t know that President Hinckley contributed to this problem but he certainly did not rectify it.
Thanks for the answer, Hellmut. While you’re dishing them out, 🙂 what about the non-U.S. returned missionaries?
But Constitutional rights have enforcement in the US under an assortment of Civil Rights statutes. Some of these enforcement statutes apply only to the government, others apply to private actors, too.
At the moment, gender discrimination under the Constitution is subject to a lighter standard of review (intermediate scrutiny) in the courts than, say, race discrimination (strict scrutiny).
“I too would like to see something similar to the ERA passed here in the U.S.”
No one wants or needs the ERA now. It’s a dead letter. I think that most people are happy with the intermediate scrutiny. Because men and women are different in ways that, say, a Canadian and an American are not, or a Muslim and a Christian are not, it gives courts flexibility to deal with gender issues as they arise.
Take for instance, in Florida, where the State will purchase Weeki Wachee springs, a local tourist attraction that includes a mermaid show. If the ERA was to be passed, it would be discriminatory to refuse to hire a man to participate as a mermaid in the show (especially because it involves a State actor, which are generally held to a higher standard than private actors). The intermediate scrutiny standard allows for only women to be mermaids because that is part of the show’s historical appeal. I warn, however, that this is a tepid analysis of the issue.
There is nothing wrong with male mermaids. Just as it turned out that there was nothing wrong with unisex restrooms.
The latter were Rex Lee’s ridiculous bug bear to scare people of the ERA. By now, we have unisex restrooms in many LDS chapels without the ERA and the sky has not fallen.
To expose women to employment discrimination over stuff like mermaids and unisex bathrooms is cavalier and ridiculous.
Equal rights clauses have been tested in many European constitutions. The experience does not bear out any of these concerns.
I don’t have any hard numbers, Jonathan, but from personal observation, I am willing to bet non-American RMs are more likely to reduce their level of activity than their peers who did not serve.
The generation that preceded mine rarely send anyone on full time missions. Construction missions were more frequent. The boys were encouraged to pursue their education instead. Most of them were drafted, which was considered enough of a burden.
They made excellent bishops. All former bishops with an academic education or equivalent remain enthusiastic Mormons. That includes people like Frerich Goertz, Ether Schmidt, the Warnke brothers, Enzio Busche, and Dieter Uchtdorf.
The people who are about ten years my elders started serving missions, in some cases on top of the draft. They remained active with spotty patches until they were married. Eventually, they became bishops only to leave Mormonism for good. The RM bishops have mostly left Mormonism.
The same is true of my peers. Those of us who were active and served missions returned deeply disillusioned. Typically, we continued to pursue temple marriage. However, by now most of us have left (around seventy percent, I would guess). In hindsight, we view our missions as the beginning of the end.
Although, I recognize that there are some RMs who genuinely had a worthwhile experience, the instructions from Salt Lake to issue callings to RMs without delay, lead me to conclude that the experience of my peers and myself is sufficiently widespread for the number crunchers in Salt Lake to notice. If there were not a pattern, there would not have been a worldwide directive.
Of course, Americans have a similar problem. However, American Mormons tend to have more family and professional ties to Mormonism and are therefore more likely to remain active in spite of a poor mission experience.