Question: Does increasing education among Mormons lead to decreased faith or religious practice?

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Question: Does increasing education among Mormons lead to decreased faith or religious practice?

While there is a trend in the general population for a decrease in religious activities when one becomes more educated, members of the Church are in stark contrast to this secularization

It is claimed that as a person becomes more educated, that they are more likely to become inactive or leave the Church. In order to avoid this, it is claimed that the Church Educational Systems (CES) deliberately promotes Gospel learning over secular learning.

While there is a trend in the general population for a decrease in religious activities when one becomes more educated,[1] members of the Church are in stark contrast to this secularization.

The classic study on this matter is Albrecht and Heaton's "Secularization, Higher Education, and Religiosity."[2]

As one example, note that Church attendance for Mormons actually increases as they gain more education:

Education and Church attendance.jpg

In the chart below there are five key factors of religiosity that are tracked among Latter-day Saints (RB=High value placed on religious beliefs, AW=Attends weekly, FT=Pays full tithe, PD=Prays daily and SG=Studies gospel). There is an increase among all five key religiosity factors when there is an increase in education, especially at the college level.[3]

Religiosity.JPG

Other resources are available in the "Further reading" section below.

Among other things, such statistics put the lie to claims by critics that believing Mormons are either ignorant, dupes, or ill-informed. As members of the Church become better informed, they give more, not less, attention to their beliefs. This suggests that LDS beliefs provide a spiritually and intellectually satisfying aspect of their lives. Furthermore, the Church leadership places a strong emphasis on members furthering their secular education and merging that with their testimony. This has been the case since the time of Joseph Smith, from "Study and learn, and become acquainted with all good books, and with languages, tongues, and people." D&C 90:15 to "The glory of God is intelligence" D&C 93:36.

See: Mormon Scholars Testify (off site)

Notes

  1. Latter Day Saint Social Life: Social Research on the LDS Church and its Members (Religious Studies Center Specialized Monograph Series, Vol. 12), edited by James T. Duke, (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University & Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1998), 285. ISBN 1570083967. ISBN 978-1570083969. off-site
  2. Stan L. Albrecht, Tim B. Heaton, "Secularization, Higher Education, and Religiosity," Review of Religious Research 26/1, Special Issue Co-Sponsored by the Society for the Sociological Study of Mormon Life and the Family and Demographic Institute of Brigham Young University (September 1984): 437–58.
  3. Latter Day Saint Social Life: Social Research on the LDS Church and its Members (Religious Studies Center Specialized Monograph Series, Vol. 12), edited by James T. Duke, (Provo, Utah: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University & Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1998), 287. ISBN 1570083967. ISBN 978-1570083969. off-site


Further reading and additional sources responding to these claims