I find it interesting that LDS college graduates do have the highest religiousity scores across the board in this study, but those scores dip by a few points in all cases for Mormons with post graduate studies. Whereas the post graduate religiousity scores for the other faiths studied go up across the board, with the exception of the category of daily prayer where they go down pertaining to the Jewish faith and remain the same for adherents to Protestand faiths.
Yes, As Allison pointed out, the study does not actually apply to retention. In addition, I think it may be misleading to apply LDS standards of religiosity to other religions. For example, not all religions place as much emphasis on weekly+ church attendance as we do. So, using weekly attendance as a test of devotion may not be valid for another religion.
Although we claim to have the fullness of the gospel, we need to be wary of becoming self-congratulatory of our practices and manner of worship-- especially in contrast to other's sincere expressions of their faith.
Thanks for this update. There was a similar study done back in the 1980s, with the same results -- that is, a positive correlation between level of education and church activity -- but I've been curious if that correlation has held up over time.
Albrecht, Stan L. and Tim B. Heaton. “Secularization, higher education, and religiosity.” Published in Review of Religious Research, 26:43-58; reprinted in Latter-day Saint Social Life: Social Research on the LDS Church and Its Members (James T. Duke, ed.), Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, Provo, UT, 1998, pp. 293-314.
We have known for some time that highly educate Latter-day Saints are more likely to retain and practice their faith. But this article performs a real service in carrying this analysis a step further by subdividing the Protestant data. While the conclusions are not surprising, empirical confirmation is most welcome. I feel blessed that my gospel knowledge and testimony have grown with my education.
As a convert to the church, I have always been excited and thankful about how restored Gospel doctrine answers so many questions and especially how the plan of salvation is a testament to the loving justice and mercy of God.
The concept of salvation in other religions portrays an unjust, unmerciful, and unloving God. So many people from other religious backgrounds have rejected God because He allows so much suffering and evil in the world and that it's not fair how so many people have the misfortune of being born into a life of poverty and suffering. Therefore these people either deny the existence of God, or are angry with Him.
Only from the restored Gospel do we know that in the pre-mortal existence, each person made a choice to come to earth, knowing they would suffer---whether by bad choices, by nature, or by evil people. Although life seems "unfair" (and even faithful Latter-day Saints may sometimes feel that to be true), God is eternally just, merciful, and loving. If not, he would cease to be God.
"On the one hand I wonder if it might have something to do with personal experience in having prayers answered."
Many people of many faiths have their prayers answered, and often. God is no respecter of persons.
Our Prophets and other Church leaders encourages us to get as much secular education as possible and serve God, however, not to compromise our faith, testimony and belief. We know who gives us such intellect.
As a once Protestant , now Mormon, I have a different insight on reading the Scriptures. In two different congregations I observed an attitude among many members that one needed a Theology degree to read, to understand and interpret the Bible other than at a cursory level. It was the duty of a hired Pastor to study and share a sermon on Sunday to edifying the members. The Mormon emphasis on the opportunity for personal revelation plus the "every member a Missionary" philosophy pushes us to aspire to know more deeply the teachings of the Savior first hand.
Interesting analysis. I don't believe the data speak to retention, however. It could be that Mormons hold onto their intellectuals. It could also be that many of their intellectuals leave and no longer identify as Mormon to pollsters at all. That would mean that levels of religiosity would appear much higher among educated Mormons because the less religiously believing or practicing are absent from the data. Among other faiths, intellectuals could be more likely to continue to claim their religious identity even if they aren't practicing very much. It's not clear from this data whether Mormons are retaining their intellectuals or pushing them away completely -- it could be either, but these data don't provide sufficient evidence to claim either conclusion. All we know is that among those with higher education who claim mormonism as their religion, levels of practice are high. And yes, that's interesting.
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