Mormon Young Women – leaving in droves?

DAMU Sex and Gender Women Youth

Did anyone else catch this line in the Salt Lake Tribune write up of conference, “as many as 80 percent of the single Mormon women between 18 and 30 are no longer active in the LDS Church”? I’d like to know where PeggyFletcher Stack got that number. Was anyone else aware of the fact that that many Mormon women are no longer active in the LDS Church? I’m not sure how they are calculating that, but here are the numbers as I calculate them:

If you assume they are going off the actual number of Mormons (about 6.5 million) and not the claimed number, that means there are about 390,000 women age 18 to 30 who were once Mormon but are now inactive. If you assume they are going off the reported number (13 million) and we already know half of them are inactive (that’s 292,500 women age 18 to 30), then an additional 30% of the claimed active Mormon women in that age range are also inactive (145,250), for a total of 438,750 inactive Mormon women between 18 and 30. That’s almost 1/2 a million Mormon women who are not active in the LDS religion.

I wonder if Peggy Fletcher Stack was supposed to reveal that?

36 thoughts on “Mormon Young Women – leaving in droves?

  1. I think the key word you’re missing is “single”. You’ve been living in secular society too long — you’ve forgotten that good Mormon girls get married around 18.

  2. While I agree with this post, it is very much worth noting that the link you provided is not to a Deseret News writeup of conference, its a Salt Lake Tribune writeup. It may seem like a small difference but an important one: Deseret News is owned, operated, and actively controlled by the LDS Church’s Corporation of the President (which run by the First Presidency). Deseret News itself publishes “Church News”, which subscriptions to are promoted nationally at LDS wards (last I knew). It would be very telling if a church sanctioned paper published those kinds of results. But alas the Salt Lake Tribune has been “THE Independent voice” of Salt Lake City for over 100+ years. 😉

  3. Doug, thanks for the correction. Not sure how I screwed that up.

    chanson – so true!

    (Though, interestingly, the age at first marriage for Mormon girls has gone up a little over the years… Damn secular society!)

  4. with the voiced disdain that MoLeaders have for anything that’s not faith promoting (‘All truth is not useful’, etc.)….Don’t they expect that both their statements and the times they fail to disclose numbers & statistics (resignations, inactivity) leaves their credibility as questionable at best?

    I’m afraid that they think their positions/status gives them “automatic credibility”….

  5. Chanson is right. Single is the salient qualifier.

    Single women are people who did not conform to orthodox expectations in the first place. They might leave because Mormon culture poo poohs their aspirations and invalidates their life and dignity.

    It’s not easy to be a Mormon woman and to pursue a quality education (no a bachelor’s degree is not a quality education, a BA renders you barely literate) or a career. Mormonism is horrible to lesbians.

    And then there are women who would have liked to be married but are not only to be told all the time that they are failures.

    That number is another indication of the inhumane features of Mormon culture. And make no mistake about it. Mormon leaders are inculcating that culture.

    Just look at The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

    It’s sad. Many of these women would have liked to contribute to Mormonism if our culture had not constantly derided their dignity.

  6. A quick side note: There are plenty of people who are educated because of their life experience. One need not go to college to be educated.

    However, a bachelor’s degree is barely substituting what you should have learned in high school. The fact that many Mormon women earn a bachelor’s degree is therefore not evidence that Mormonism supports the education of women.

    My impression is that Mormonism does support female education more than other fundamentalist religions. That’s not much to brag about.

  7. Some additional notes:
    – what does “inactive” mean anyway? I think we can debate what it means because it is not clear (to anyone). “Inactive” in my mind could mean anything from not attending church once a month to not attending for six years. I knew a family who was considered “inactive” because in the summers they went boating instead of to church. btw – I was counted in that inactive category for more than five years. My name would have officially been on the rolls – but I would have still technically counted. I didn’t consider myself Mormon though (back when people still considered themselves mormon instead of LDS) – and didn’t pay tithing.

    I know we’ve debated this point here before – but there is strong emphasis in American LDS culture on 1 – getting married 2 – having children (and sometimes having children young – i.e. under 25). If you don’t see yourself (man or woman) fitting into that mold, or for whatever reason you are not capable of fitting into that mold – it may seem like there isn’t much place for you.

    On a personal note, I babysat for many women in their late twenties when I was a teenager. Many of those families had more than four young children. They were struggling to make ends meet on one income. I believe as families they were happy with the decisions they had made, and it’s not my place to judge. But I knew for a fact that was not where I wanted to be – if I could help it. It is a lot of work to chase after four toddlers. It is a lot of work to provide one income for four or more toddlers. There are not a lot of “frills” – families really have to work and sacrifice just to get by.

    Of course, I also babysat for NOM couples, where the mothers had a good education. As their children grew older and went to kindergarten, they were re-joining the workforce. The families basically “ignored” many of the LDS cultural stereotypes (where no one can definitively prove they are doctrinal)- they did what was best for their family.

    I don’t know what LDS younger women are seeing today – more of one group than another. I think until some of these issues are addressed from SLC – the trend will not change.

  8. The families basically “ignored” many of the LDS cultural stereotypes (where no one can definitively prove they are doctrinal)- they did what was best for their family.

    That’s the way to be a Mormon responsibly. Do what is best for you.

    David Hume and Adam Smith are right. Self-interest is more likely to be a force for good than piety.

  9. One more thought: Two thirds of all Mormons are inactive in the first place. That means that it takes only another 13% to reach 80%.

  10. Is this a surprise? Single women are invisible in this church. We don’t have the priesthood. We don’t have a husband to represent us. Even in the temple (where things are supposed to be sacred) women convenant to their husbands-men convenant to God, women are invisible. Our “divine purpose” is to have babies. Can’t do that while keeping the law of chastity. All Relief Society lessons are about family-raising kids, etc.

    For the love, they seperate the singles so that men can pick a wife. And heaven forbit a woman love her career and make a lot of money while single. Then she will be accused of putting her career before getting a husband. And if she makes a lot of money or owns her own home, then she is like a leper to men in a singles ward.

    Single women in the LDS church are invisible. I left due to the way we are treated-and that so many women think it is acceptable.

  11. While serving as EQP in a single adult ward I attended a special stake organized mtng addressing this very issue. I don’t remember any of the statistics exactly but the general message was that the 18-25 year old women were not coming to church anymore; he used statistics both from my hometown and from our stake. However, I don’t remember the Prez using any statistics about the church as a whole.

  12. Isn;t that “actual” number based on the number of people who self-identify?

    I imagine the number the Church is using is the number of people on their record books, which is why there’s such a high rate of inactivity.

  13. You know, as a believing Mormon, I’m actually glad we have such a high inactivity rate.

    It means we’re reaching out to people who need the help.

    If the Mormon Church had an 80% activity rate, I would be seriously worried about complacency, stagnation, and a lack of outreach to the “lost sheep.” I think a high rate of inactivity is actually healthy for a religion. To a point, it means the religion is doing its job.

  14. That said, I do think the current LDS rate of inactivity is high enough to indicate some corrections are in order. And of course, ANY rate of inactivity ought to warrant some serious thought as to how we could be doing better.

  15. If people actually got help at church, Seth, you bet you, their behinds would be in the pews.

    There will be some outliers but single women do not exactly get validated at Church. I suppose there might be some spiritual masochists that like to be abused and would enjoy church.

    Actually, that describes sixteen years of my life, although I never was a single woman nor did I enjoy self-censorship. Most people figure it out a little faster and leave an environment that’s bad for them.

  16. What I thought was funny is that when discussing the fallout of the YSW in our stake, their solution wasn’t to help them self-identify better at church or anything I believe would’ve been productive. Instead they asked that the Elder’s Quorum to get out and visit these young ladies (who would turn down a couple handsome YSM?). Then they explained that it fell upon the YSM to ask these girls out on dates when/if they came back to church.

  17. Welcome to FLAK, Inactive Mormon Woman. I am sorry it took me so long to clear your post. Your next post will show up right away.

  18. Then they explained that it fell upon the YSM to ask these girls out on dates when/if they came back to church.

    That’ll fix ’em, won’t it?

  19. Seth, maybe I’m just not able to dawn my “Mormon hat” this morning, but I fail to see how high inactivity rates are a positive. Can you try explaining your point again?

    Inactive Mormon Woman – welcome!

  20. Thanks! I was wondering if there was dislike for my comment and that was why it went away. Thanks for bringing it back.

    SR-I am not sure if I follow your train of thought as to why inactivity is good. Can you explain?

    I kept going for 15 years after feeling like nothing because I was sure I was doing something wrong and I needed to try harder. So I kept trying harder….but it didn’t work. I finally accepted maybe it wasn’t me that was the problem. And seriously, if a man invited me out to church he would get the same answer a woman would-not until women actually have a voice in the church and are treated with respect!!!! I am more than a baby-making machine.

  21. Seth, maybe I’m just not able to dawn my “Mormon hat” this morning, but I fail to see how high inactivity rates are a positive. Can you try explaining your point again?

    I agree, Seth. You sound like you’re using moon logic.

  22. The Church is meant to correct problems and reach out to people in need.

    Obviously, if there weren’t any needs to be found, it would be cause to think something was seriously wrong.

    I think it’s when churches have settled into a contented comfort zone that they go out to pasture to fade away.

    “I suppose there might be some spiritual masochists that like to be abused and would enjoy church.”

    There’s two types of problem where single adults are concerned Hellmut – one is the active kind of mistreatment that you’re talking about, the other is mere neglect because we focusing on the kids, etc.

    You seem to be trying to make the case that the former problem is the dominant one. That the Church is actively harassing and persecuting single adults.

    You’re overstating things, and a few bad anecdotes don’t prove your case either.

    My experience is that the most common problems with our single adults are cases of benign neglect. We don’t sit around thinking up ways to make our singles miserable.

  23. The treatment of women, gays and lesbians in Mormonism is so systemic that it requires a hefty dose of denial to pretend that I need to rely on anecdotes, Seth. Anyone who has eyes and ears can observe it in Church publications and in most wards.

    It is unfortunate that well meaning Mormons feel obligated to defend their leaders rather than to support the abused.

    If people want to be Mormon, good for them. It is unfortunate, however, a tragedy in its own right, when Mormon intellectuals feel compelled to justify abuse and abusers.

    The pressure to defend our leaders brings out the worst in us.

    Greg Prince is a notable exception. He has the courage to recognize abuse for what it is. If there were more Mormon intellectuals like him, our community would be a lot better off.

  24. “The pressure to defend our leaders brings out the worst in us.”

    It’s not a pressure to defend Hellmut. It’s an urge to be fair to people. And you don’t get fairness from automatically assuming the worst about people at every drop of a hat.

  25. We don’t have to assume the worst in people. We know what happens to gays and lesbians. We know what happens to young girls. We know what is going on in the MTC. We know what we did to African Americans.

    There is no need to assume anything.

  26. proxfm-Thanks!!!

    Seth R-I have to say though, I don’t see the general leadership of the church caring about fairness to others-gays & lesbians, women, anyone with a differing opinion, etc. I think there is an effort to defend anything the church says to. Members of the church are asked to sustain and support leadership without question. It doesn’t matter what they do, we are supposed to agree and support it.

  27. “Members of the church are asked to sustain and support leadership without question. It doesn’t matter what they do, we are supposed to agree and support it.”

    That’s not what I was thinking when I raised my hand.

  28. Seth, what were you thinking you thinking when you sustained the new president of the LDS church? What does sustain mean to you?

  29. In my personal experiences I must concur w/ IMW. There is so little openness in the church and if a GA says something it may as well of come from Christ or God himself (What can you expect tho when they teach this w/ scripture in Seminary and Institute?) If you express an opinion outside of the orthodox thinking, one is pushed away like they are either stupid, don’t have a testimony, thinking too intellectually w/o faith, a sinner, or trying to negatively criticize the leadership.

    This has been my experience…some others may have had different experiences.

  30. MZ:
    I don’t know if you realized it or not…
    A while back it was common for GAs to qualify their talks/sayings with stmnts-phrases like:
    ‘It has been our experience that….’ and so forth…
    Did others ever notice this? I think it may have gone out of fashion lately.
    AGREE with your thoughts. The finger-pointing between Mos & Apostates… “You’re Stupid for believing /not believing” …are about an equal stand-off

  31. Seth R-I realize that my repsonse could be taken either way. That was actually meant as a sincere question, not an argumentative one. In mormon culture it generally means following completely, so I am wondering what it means to you.

  32. I too have a hard time seeing why having so many Mormons inactive is good for the LdS church. It seems to me that the high number of inactives seems to point to a problem in the church – there is a reason why they are inactive: the church isn’t meeting their needs, and in many cases, is causing problems.

    Seth R:

    “Members of the church are asked to sustain and support leadership without question. It doesn’t matter what they do, we are supposed to agree and support it.”

    That’s not what I was thinking when I raised my hand.

    That may not be what you’re thinking, but its what you’re expected to do, whether you like it or not, and that’s a well documented fact.

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