Book Review: A Statistical Profile of Mormons: Health, Wealth, and Social Life

May 2, 2005 | 43 comments
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Anyone and everyone interested in Mormon Studies should read this book.

Where else are you going to find out that:

–LDS are three times more likely to be widowed than the non-LDS population
–LDS women pray more often than LDS men (in fact, LDS men are slightly less likely to pray than non-LDS women)
–32% of LDS pregnancies were “unwanted” or wanted “later”
–37% of LDS who attend Church weekly have had premarital sex by age 20
–LDS men are far more likely than the national average to think that the division of household chores and childcare is unfair to their wives
–on average, married LDS couples have sex (link is to poll data) five times per month (which mirrors the national average)
–7.2% of LDS youth ran away from home in the last two years
–LDS who attend Church rarely or never are more likely to smoke cigarettes, use marijuana, and be depressed than the national average
–at least among the youth, LDS are more likely than the national average to eat fruits and vegetables and exercise
–11% of LDS (national average: 22%) think marijuana should be legal?

In fact, I think you could at random select just about any sentence from this book and generate a lengthy discussion about the data and its implications. (Anyone desperate for material for her or his blog would be well-advised to consider such an approach.) A few facts I found particularly interesting:

(1) LDS women are 8% less likely than the national average to be working full time. They are actually 3% more likely than the national average to work part time. (Another study cited in the book found them 10% less likely to work full time and 2% more likely to work part time.) In other words, all of that emphasis on mothers in the home has resulted in a behavior change affecting less than 1 in 10 women. I find this surprising. (Another interesting employment stat: 71% of LDS adolescents work for pay, compared to 59% of the national average. Between working, seminary, and mutual, one wonders precisely when 37% of them find time to have illicit sex!)

(2) “Contrary to other churches, the highest rate of adult attendance in the LDS Church is by the never-married.”

(3) “Roughly 40 percent of adults in the United States report attending church or synagogue ‘within the last seven days,’ The percentage was about 40 in the 1940s, rose 8-10 percent in the 1950s, but declined to around 40 percent by 1970. It has not varied significantly for the last 30 years.”

(4) LDS women do not differ from the national average in either average age at birth of first child or percent who used birth control before conception.

(5) LDS teen girls living on the east and west coasts have higher rates of sexual activity than LDS boys in those places. However, in Utah County, the rates are the same.

(6) Perhaps the single most disturbing thing I found in this book is this: LDS family relationships are quantitatively ‘better’ than the national average, but not qualitatively better. In other words, LDS are more likely to be born into a two-parent family, more likely to marry and remarry, etc., but no more likely to describe their family relationships in positive ways than the national average. They feel no closer to father or mother, no more satisfied with communication with mother or father, no more likely to think father cares about them, etc., than the national average.

(7) “Among Mormons, the more educated and younger women show strongest support for family roles.”

(8) LDS women are “significantly higher” in depression than nonmember women.

(9) It will come as no surprise to anyone that LDS rate very conservatively on virtually all political issues. The two exceptions: the Saints show more racial tolerance and more support for civil liberties than the national average.

While the book excels at factoids, it unfortunately ends up rather uneven both in quantity and quality of interpretation. For the most part, there is no analysis of the data. Perhaps it was the intent of the authors to stop with the presentation of data and leave analysis to those who would stand on the shoulders of giants. Fine. But that isn’t exactly what happened. They irregularly dip into the data to present theories and, unfortunately, those theories range from simplistic to downright weird. For example:

Data point: Mormons are slightly more educated than the US average.
Interpretation: The Church’s teachings on the perfectibility of humans leads the Saints to seek more education. They even quote D & C 130:18-19.

I suppose there might be some slight Mormon cultural bias towards education based on our belief that you get to keep your book learnin’ in the Resurrection. But I would imagine that equally plausible reasons that LDS are (slightly) more educated than the average could include:

–those less educated might feel less comfortable in Church activity, so there might be a conversion or selection bias
–male LDS expecting to be a sole family wage earner (or any Saint expecting tithing to remove a decent chunk of their disposable income) might seek more education, expecting higher-paying jobs
–the folk belief equating prosperity with righteousness might subconsciously encourage the Saints to help that prosperity along

There are probably many other plausible theories. And perhaps all of mine are wrong. My point is simply that I don’t think you can take their (unsubstantiated) theory as the last word. (Especially since they later note that LDS are underrepresented at both ends of the education spectrum: “Apparently, education is a good thing, but extensive education is not necessarily desirable.”) Since it seems that this book is geared in large part toward nonmember researchers, I think their burden for reliable interpretation is even higher than it would have been if they were speaking to the choir. Again, for the most part, they do very little speculation about the data (although they do weigh in briefly on LDS female depression and at length on political issues).

Similarly, this struck me as a sentence that could only have been written by a Mormon: “Unexpectedly . . . those who drink alcohol tend to report somewhat better health than those who do not drink.” While the data is, of course, controversial, the health benefits of moderate alcohol consumption are generally accepted. Only Mormons would find this news ‘unexpected.’

They only barely address the issue of what role social science should play in the kingdom. Perhaps beyond the scope of their project, but nonetheless answers to the following questions interest me:

(1) What, if anything, should the Church as an organization do with this kind of data? For example, if we could discover correlations between, say, tithe paying and proximity of a Temple, should we build more Temples so the number of tithe payers would increase? Or, if we found that FHE had no impact of the future activity rate of children, should we de-emphasize it?

(2) What, if anything, should individuals do with this data? (And then a follow-up: Should we make this data more available to individuals?) For example, I would have guessed that less than 10% of weekly-attending Saints would have had sex by the time that they were 20. But the number is almost four times that. Should I as a YW leader or seminary teacher teach differently? (Not, of course, to water down the Church’s teachings about chastity but perhaps to emphasize repentance and begin with the idea that a third of my audience has had sex.) Similarly, LDS youth were slightly more likely to use birth control during their first sexual experience than the national average (71.4% versus 69.6%), suggesting that they were not, in fact, engaged in a ‘crime of passion,’ but had planned the event. Should this affect how we teach youth?

(3) How should this data affect how we define ourselves as Latter-day Saints? I think we are used to defining ourselves by, primarily, our history and our beliefs and practices. Should that change? The next time a casual friend says, “Tell me about the Mormons,” should I lead off with, “Well, 42% of us . . .”?

(4) Does the data tell us anything about God? For example, one of the findings in this book is that, despite the impression one might reach from reading the anecdotes in the Random Sampler in the Ensign, Church members are not less likely to be crime victims than the general population. Does this suggest that there is nothing protective about the priesthood, endowed members, or even the guidance of the Spirit? More generally, can statistics teach us any theological truths? (And how do you think it would go over if someone in my Sunday School class told a story about being protected and I replied, “Well, actually, LDS are victimized as much as the national population, so what you describe is more likely to be a mere coincidence.”)

(5) I would say that the one way that this type of data is used among the Saints already is to crow about the blessings that they receive: surely you have heard comments in Church classes to the effect that Saints live longer, etc., as a result of their observance of the Word of Wisdom. (But see above on health benefits of wine: “he who lives by the nutrition data . . .”) I worry about this. To use a different example that I think could be similarly abused: there is a correlation between education level and Church attendance for the Saints (nationwide, church attendance does not vary significantly by education). (Translation: The smarter you are, the more Mormon you are.) But isn’t another way of looking at this data to wonder what we are doing to alienate the less educated? We’ve talked about this before: it is virtually impossible to be an active Saint without several changes of nice clothes, a phone, reliable transportation, and a work schedule that you know several weeks in advance. At least one of these factors will knock out of the running virtually every service worker in this country.

To sum, this might be the most interesting book ever written that contains both “p<.01″ and “unstandardized regression coefficient.” (Fortunately, the book is almost entirely understandable by those who have no clue what those mean.) There’s lots of data to have fun with here.

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43 Responses to Book Review: A Statistical Profile of Mormons: Health, Wealth, and Social Life

  1. Ben S. on May 2, 2005 at 8:23 pm

    …[raises one eyebrow] fascinating. [\spock imitation]

    Thanks for pointing this out.

  2. Ivan Wolfe on May 2, 2005 at 9:01 pm

    Hmmm -

    the data there seems to conflict a bit with the book Religion, Mental Health and the Latter-day Saints http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1570086311/qid=1115085431/sr=8-1/ref=sr_8_xs_ap_i1_xgl14/102-5265276-4547364?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

    which paints a somewhat rosier picture (i.e. – it says LDSaints are more likely to describe themselves and their families as happier than the stats quoted above). But since it was published by Bookcraft, many will write it off, despite being fairly academic and fair in its approach.

    Cool book, Julie. Thanks for pointing it out. I will have to check it out and compare it to the book I just mentioned and see what picture emerges.

  3. Tracy P on May 2, 2005 at 9:26 pm

    Right up front I should say I’m just a mathematician, not a dirty, stinking statistitan but I think there are some serious problems with taking these kind of numbers seriously.
    First of all they seemed to be based on ecologic studies rather than clinical trials. The quick of it is that you need risks greater than %100 before the statistic is even interesting. That is if LDS people are %120 more likely to be overweight then we have something interesting. Saying “LDS women are 8% less likely than the national average to be working full time” is just like saying we can’t tell the difference between LDS women and the general population. For example smokers are %2000 more likely to develop lung cancer.
    Secondly, correlation does not imply causation. Given “LDS are three times more likely to be widowed than the non-LDS population” does that mean being LDS causes widowhood or widowhood causes someone to become LDS.
    Finally, and to me most importantly, I don’t think we will get useful information by trying to measure how “LDS” someone is by church attendence.

  4. Kevin Barney on May 2, 2005 at 9:26 pm

    Hmmm….it seems singles under 20 who attend church weekly are having *way* more sex than I ever would have guessed (37%?), and married couples (both LDS and national average) are having *way* less sex than I ever would have guessed (only five times a month?!).

  5. Julie in Austin on May 2, 2005 at 9:55 pm

    Kevin–

    Which reminds me of the all-time best line I’ve ever heard from a CES employee:

    “Forget the three-fold mission of the Church. You wanna hear the real mission of the Church? The real mission of the Church is to keep single people out of bed and get married people back into bed.”

  6. Happy Husband on May 2, 2005 at 10:07 pm

    If five times a month is the average then there are two couples out there that are having no sex each month. . . ;)

  7. Jonathan Stone on May 2, 2005 at 10:10 pm

    How did they gather this data? Anonymous surveys? What was the sample size and its geographic distribution? I would love to look at the book myself, but it’s a little out of my price range.

    I think the numbers are fascinating, but I am always curious about the methods used to gather data in situations like this.

  8. Julie in Austin on May 2, 2005 at 10:20 pm

    Jonathan Stone–

    They did not gather their own data but rather looked at the data of those who self-identified as LDS in six national surveys: The National Survey of Adolescent Health (149), National Educational Longitudinal Survey (239), Monitoring the Future (297), General Social Survey (505), National Survey of Family Growth (238), and the National Survey of Families and Households (235). The numbers in parenthesis are the # of LDS in each survey.

  9. Jonathan Stone on May 2, 2005 at 10:44 pm

    I’m not a dirty, stinking statistician either, but some of those numbers seem awfully small for a statistically reliable conclusion, especially at a granularity of 10% in some of these figures. I’d have to agree with Tracy P. about whether meaningful conclusions could be drawn. Do they give the statistical margin of error?

    While I am open to the fact that some statistics would surprise me and contradict commonly-held ideas, there are some that just seem too unbelievable. For example, LDS women don’t have children any sooner than the average non-LDS woman? While my observations clearly aren’t statistically significant, there is no question that LDS people marry sooner and consequently have children sooner than average. I live in Houston. In the last 3 years, my organization has hired 20 people or so. At time of hire, about 10 were married. Ten of the new hires were LDS, and nine of us were married. The only unmarried LDS new hire was married within a year. All but two of us have children already. And none of this surprises me, nor would it likely surprise anyone else reading this thread. Why? Because we all know that young LDS men and women get married sooner and have children sooner.

    Or are there just tons of children being born to non-LDS teenagers that are skewing the national average downward? If that’s the case, then what is the value of the statistic anyway?

  10. Dave on May 2, 2005 at 11:31 pm

    Nice comments, Julie. For anyone who is interested, here is a link to the publishers page (Mellen Press), which includes a short review and a table of contents. It also identifies the three authors (Heaton, Bahr, and Jacobson), who are all BYU sociology profs.

  11. David Salmanson on May 3, 2005 at 8:00 am

    Jonathan,
    You are precisely right. The statistics on first children would have been much more meaningful if it had controlled for education and/or occupation. I’m a bit confused when Julie says “8% more likely.” I remember enough from stats for dingbats to know that the difference between say 12% and 4% would not be 8% but 300%. As in (hypothetically) 12% of non-Mormon lurkers with PhDs butt in, but only 4% of non-Mormon lurkers without PhDs do so. Thus non-Mormon lurkers with PhDs are 3x more likely (300%) to comment. I think.

  12. lyle stamps on May 3, 2005 at 9:12 am

    Julie: Your concern re: your point #6 is open to a vastly different interpretation.

    First, how can you compare how a child describes their relationship to their father ‘in no more positive terms than the national average’ with a child that doesn’t have a father to relate to, i.e. single mother family [note, switch genders for those easily offended]? Or is this saying that LDS 2 parent families have the same level of “get along with parents” as non-LDS 2 parent families?

    Second, what do we expect? That LDS teens somehow are magically better behaved/like their parents more than non-LDS teens? I don’t remember anything in the BoM/Church talks that would lead to a better relationship other than increased gospel living in general; and since we aren’t the only Christians out there, it seems that average would be about right.

  13. Mark IV on May 3, 2005 at 10:58 am

    “(8) LDS women are “significantly higher” in depression than nonmember women.”

    Julie, the thread you started last week about postpartum depression was insightful for me. Assuming that this assertion from the book is true, how much do you think can be attributed to a higher rate of childbirth?

  14. Mark Martin on May 3, 2005 at 11:48 am

    I hadn’t previously realized that I am dirty and stinkin’, but I suppose I am since I’m professionally a statistician. Nice observations, Tracy (#3) and Jonathan (#9)!

    On the frequency of sex for marrieds, I don’t have the source, but remember that in recent years there was a publication with improved methodology (maybe 1998 or 1999?) that indicated that the national average is more like twice a week, compared to once a week reported in earlier studies. Wish I had the source for you. Maybe there is only one inactive couple out there (#6), Happy Husband!

  15. Bryan Robert on May 3, 2005 at 12:04 pm

    There was another massive study that came out very recently. It is generally being accepted by all religions, and was not produced by Mormons. It paints a very different picture than what some of these staictics are saying. It was put in a book called : Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers. It states that reseachers found an amazing trend happining as they were conducting their research. They found that LDS teens across the board did better in basically all categories than all other teens.

    The book explains how they got their numbers. Im not saying that this other study is wrong, but something I learned in debate is that stats should always be taken with a grain of salt. It is more important to know the manner and context in which they were gathered.

  16. Clark Goble on May 3, 2005 at 12:24 pm

    I’m surprised at the stats for singles, given how many singles over 25 complain about being single in a church focused on married couples. Heavens, I remember my struggles between 28 and 34.

    I wonder if that means non-Mormon singles struggle even more with the way churches work or if, as someone else mentioned, widows or single mothers are more apt to join the church.

  17. Clark Goble on May 3, 2005 at 12:27 pm

    Oh, regarding the sex before 20. Could someone clarify that stat? Is that based on members aged 12 – 20 at that time? Or is it a state of all members based upon first sexual experience? Given our large rate of conversion, that may significantly bias the statistics.

  18. ed on May 3, 2005 at 12:29 pm

    Bryan Robert: I looked around at the website to that book/study for a while, and it appears that their sample sizes of mormons were even smaller than the ones in the book Julie cites in the post, although it’s hard to tell from what they have there. (It appears that they did two separate surveys that they have used to produce several papers and reports as well as the book.) The differences they found between mormon teens and others were so huge that I’m very skeptical that they are representative (although I’m willing to believe they got the sign right).

    The link is:
    http://www.youthandreligion.org/

  19. Julie in Austin on May 3, 2005 at 12:48 pm

    All–

    I think I’ve been unclear on the working women issue. Let me give you the data:

    category % work full time % work part time
    LDS women 30.7 15.0
    US women 38.2 12.4

    My point is thus: Let’s take 100 LDS women: 31 will work full time and 15 will work part time. Nationally, 38 will work full time and 12 will work part time. Therefore, for all of the Church’s teachings on women being in the home, the actual behavior of only 7 out of 100 women is changed from what it would be without LDS teachings (not to mention that, of those 7, 3 will end up working part-time, so we could say that the counsel shifted 4/100 women home full-time and 3/100 women to work part-time). (I said 8% first time around because I was rounding the numbers.) So not a 7% difference, but, to be more clear, the behavior of only 7% of LDS women is affected by this counsel. (Of course, this is data for *women*, not *mothers of young children*, so there’s a wrinkle. Another wrinkle is that it is possible that LDS women would work at much higher rates than the national average, given larger family size and, umn, greater desire to escape one’s children ;) ) This seems extraordinary to me.

    As far as the link between overall depression and PPD, I’m not sure how the numbers would pan out, but since (another stat from the book), LDS are only having one more child than the national average, that only gives women 12 months more of time in which to have PPD. Over the lifespan, 12 months isn’t that much, so I while PPD might contribute to the higher rates, I would doubt it totally accounts for it, but this is just my hunch.

    Jonathan Stone wrote, “Or are there just tons of children being born to non-LDS teenagers that are skewing the national average downward? If that’s the case, then what is the value of the statistic anyway?”

    That would be my guess, but again, just a guess. Valid question (others have been raised on this thread as well) about the validity of data. But this leads to a larger question: Do we then discount all social science research, do we make do with what we have, or what? I don’t know.

    lyle–

    I appreciate your point, but would one not hope that all of that family scripture study, prayer, FHEs, PPI, and general togetherness would lead LDS kids to describe their relationships to their parents in better terms than the national average?

  20. Julie in Austin on May 3, 2005 at 12:54 pm

    Clark–

    Re #17: that data does not (as far as I can tell . . .) take into account someone who had sex as a teen and then converted. Do you think that scenario is enough to account for the 37%? I wonder.

  21. lyle stamps on May 3, 2005 at 12:55 pm

    Julie:

    I agree. Perhaps this points more towards: the fact that other religous groups have similar activities that raise their #s and/or that not alot of LDS families are doing the above? If Home Teaching stats are the same as family scripture study, prayer, FHE, etc…then it might not have much of an impact.

  22. Julie in Austin on May 3, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    lyle–

    good point. It would be interesting to know how many active LDS actually have FHE, family prayer, etc.

  23. Paul Mortensen on May 3, 2005 at 2:58 pm

    Julie:

    Do the authors apply some sort of data normalization to account for the fact that the surveys used were “national” in nature despite the fact that the Mormon population is very localized? Failure to attempt to compensate for that characteristic alone would make any potential issues raised by the findings moot.

  24. Eve on May 3, 2005 at 3:12 pm

    Julie,

    Re: 20. Is sex defined in the book, or the studies on which the book is based?

  25. Eric S on May 3, 2005 at 3:12 pm

    I don’t believe the 37% number. Attend church weekly? No way. Sorry. Not buying it. Maybe I’d believe it if the sample included all youth included on the membership rolls, but that is a different thing altogether. Along with Clark, I assumed the 37% number might include first sexual experience for the general membership, which is half converts now. But if it only includes highly active youth, I don’t believe it. It just doesn’t jibe with other studies I have seen.

  26. seven bohanan on May 3, 2005 at 3:19 pm

    Is it just me, or do about half the topics on this board ooze sexual suppression?

  27. Eric S on May 3, 2005 at 3:34 pm

    Steven,

    Please elaborate.

  28. Frank McIntyre on May 3, 2005 at 3:38 pm

    Julie,

    Thanks for the peak into the book. I think we all find this stuff fascinating, even if it takes some work to know which numbers hold meaning and which don’t. A few quick things just to clarify:

    1. Are they comparing family outcomes in (6) to the national average for 2 parent homes or for the national average unadjusted?

    2. I think rates of depression differ regionally across the United States, apart from religion, which may be informative to why the LDS numbers look as they do. I don’t knwo for sure though.

    3. I think being LDS tends to a certain bimodalism in outcomes, and thus one tends to get a fair number of very bad outcomes because those who do poorly tend to do very poorly. I am curious if you found eveidence or not for this in your reading.

    4. The premarital sex numbers, like the widow numbers, are very likely to be influenced by the experience of converts.

    5. In (1) you note that LDS teenagers are noticeably more likely to work than the national average, but then fail to link that to the numbers on women. The LDS work ethos (or whatever) that contributes to higher employment among youth surely carries on to adulthood. Thus one would expect higher rates of employment among LDS women than among the general population. But what we find is lower rates. I would think the numbers we see are then a lower bound on the influence of Church teaching.

    Also, the female employment numbers really do look different after adjusting for race, age differences, and being a mother of young children. I think for an apples to apples comparison using the Census, one can get differences in employment rates that are quite large, with some Utah mother demographics having full-time employment numbers of half the national average . And, as you note, those women who do work, tend to do part time work or to work in their homes, which likely is a response to Church counsel.

    6. What is your take on the difference in prayer rates? If one group prays more than another group, are they then likely to be more spiritual than another group, since prayer is both a cause and effect of increased spirituality?

  29. A. Greenwood on May 3, 2005 at 3:39 pm

    Maybe because I’m allergic to the happy optimism Mormons usually have when it comes to the perfectibility of humans, but I’m actually quite surprised that a few church sermons have changed the behavior of as many as 7 out of 100. Though, frankly, those sermons have probably succeeded by reinforcing trends and choices that were already there more than by convincing people to change their minds. Sermonizing succeeds when preventing regression to telestial norms, less so otherwise.

  30. Mark Martin on May 3, 2005 at 4:29 pm

    “LDS are three times more likely to be widowed than the non-LDS population.”

    Can someone help me understand what this might mean, if it has any meaning at all? If we start with a married couple, LDS or not, eventually one of the two will be widowed unless they die together. Is this statement saying that LDS folks tend to survive longer, once widowed, than other folks? Or that LDS are more likely to be widowed rather than divorced? (Though I doubt that would account for it, since I don’t think LDS divorce numbers are that much lower than the general population.) I’m puzzled. Any hints?

  31. Julie in Austin on May 3, 2005 at 4:32 pm

    Paul–

    The authors directly address that issue and note, “Our solution to the data problem is to use several national samples. ” I would note that it would be interesting to find out how LDS around the US differ in behavior from LDS in Utah (and internationally would be interesting, too), but except for the data about differing rates of girl/boy teen sexual activity, they don’t cite any data in the book that distinguishes from Utah versus ‘mission field’ Mormons.

    Eve–

    I believe they are defining sex as intercourse.

    Frank–

    (1) They don’t mention adjusting family outcomes. (makes the data more damning, no?)
    (2) Very interesting, they don’t mention that. (again info on Utah verses mission field Mormons would be interesting)
    (3) I *think* that the data that LDS-who-rarely-or-never-attend-Church have higher rates of drug use and depression would support this idea, no?
    (4) Yes. Again, this might or might not affect how we teach youth, I don’t know.
    (5) Ah, good observation about link to working teens, I hadn’t thought of that. (Although this could be a tangled web: are the teens working because the mothers aren’t?) Also, I don’t think the study took into account women who (1) work full-time from home or (2) work odd hours so their husbands are home with the kids, etc.
    (6) Well, I’m fascinated by the prayer rates. LDS love to believe they are more spiritual than others, and certainly personal prayer is a good marker of spirituality, so to know that LDS men are less likely to pray than the national average for women is a little disconcerting. Of course, LDs men pray more than national average men, so at least there is some ‘improvment.’ I don’t know what to make of this, really.

    Adam–I find your thoughts interesting. I would be saddened to think that for all our huffing and puffing on Sundays, we are only changing the behavior of 7% of people (on any issue), but this doesn’t seem to bother you as much. Thoughts on why?

  32. seven bohanan on May 3, 2005 at 5:43 pm

    I guess what I mean is that every other topic seems to (eventually) underscore the odd relationship Mormons have with sex.

  33. Frank McIntyre on May 3, 2005 at 5:45 pm

    Julie,

    The work at home stuff comes from looking at the 2000 Census for Utah. It might not be readily available information in some of the other surveys. Or it might…

    When I think about bimodalism I tend to think of things like what you mention (drug and alcohol abuse), but they may also come up in divorce or criminal behavior, depression, bankruptcy, and so forth.

  34. A. Greenwood on May 3, 2005 at 6:04 pm

    “Adam–I find your thoughts interesting. I would be saddened to think that for all our huffing and puffing on Sundays, we are only changing the behavior of 7% of people (on any issue), but this doesn’t seem to bother you as much. Thoughts on why?”

    Well, I’m saddened too, Julie. It’s just that before I was even more saddened to think that all our huffing and puffing on Sundays had no effect at all, so I was pleasantly surprised to see that there might be some effect. In short, I expect so little that even limping, marginal successes cheer me. Or disconcert me. I’ve stopped talking so much about gay marriage lately because its appearing to be not entirely hopeless, and I don’t know how to handle that (wink).

    No, in all seriousness, Julie in A., I’ve noticed that people who expect much from the church or from mankind tend to be badly disappointed. But I’ve also noticed that people who expect much tend to be the ones who give the sermons and thus, even if they’re change less then they’d though, still effect a 7% change. My perfect New Mormon Man, the one who realizes that action is futile but acts anyway, is pretty rare.

  35. Clark Goble on May 3, 2005 at 6:35 pm

    Julie, I don’t think the 37% sexual activity rate can be purely explain by converts. Far from it. But I do think it will bias things. I do wonder how the activities of women on the coasts biases it though. I’ve heard feminists interpret the higher female sexual activity as due to “being taught to obey men.” Thus in dating situations they say yes to sex. That always seemed unpersuasive to me. But I believe LDS are unique in having women more sexually active than men as compared with all other Christian faiths.

  36. Clark Goble on May 3, 2005 at 6:44 pm

    Adam, is your “perfect Mormon” intended to be modeled after Moroni and Mormon? Even Moroni gave up at the end…

  37. A. Greenwood on May 3, 2005 at 6:49 pm

    He kept writing, Clark Goble.

    But yes, I feel temperamentally very close to Moroni and Mormon.

  38. annegb on May 3, 2005 at 8:21 pm

    Interesting post, Julie.

    I have noticed, or it seems to me, that there are fewer unsolved crimes here. I know here where I live they seem to solve almost every crime, eventually. I think there’s something to that.

  39. Elisabeth on May 3, 2005 at 8:55 pm

    I agree that Julie’s first #6 is disturbing – about how LDS family relationships aren’t qualitatively better than the national average, especially given the almost exclusive focus of the Church on families. Why do you think this is case? What are we missing in our focus? It could just be the data, but I do find this troubling.

  40. AB on May 4, 2005 at 10:57 am

    Mark (comment #30) –

    This statistic could probably be used to indicate that the Mormon sample used in the study is not actually representative of the true population (for women, at least); unless, of course, we can think of a logical reason for the Church to produce more widows than the national average.

  41. Geoff Matthews on May 4, 2005 at 5:48 pm

    Before I run with #6 (qualitative child-parent relationships), I’d like to know how this was actually measured.

  42. Jeff Hoyt on May 4, 2005 at 8:32 pm

    Julie;

    I find all this very interesting, and have one comment and one complaint.

    Regarding disillusionment with only 7% of women changing their lifestyle in response to Church teaching – I do not believe 7% is the appropriate measure. In your example you have 31 of 100 LDS women working versus 38 non-LDS. While only 7 of 100 “changed” behaviour, 62 of 100 were already behaving properly. The relevant measure is the 7 that changed out of the 38 that you were hoping to change (18%). When you factor in the ones that for reasons outside their control cannot be expected to change and I am sure you will find the Church having a dramatic impact.

    My complaint is with your point #8 – You state that showing “more racial tolerance” is contrary to conservative political thinking. As a conservative I take great exception to that. My experience is that the exact opposite is true and is evidenced by a presumption of racial inferiority in many liberal policies. (Note: Not meant as a threadjack, only responding to a particular point made)

  43. Julie in Austin on May 4, 2005 at 9:12 pm

    Jeff Hoyt–

    Very interesting observations. I see your point about the 7% issue, but my point was more that when you consider the amount of emphasis that this issue has gotten (moreso in the past, I suppose) and the amount of controversy over it, it seems amazing in that context that we are talking about a behavior change for 7 out of 100 women.

    I appreciate your point about #8–I suppose that what the authors had in mind by suggesting that attitudes towards race and civil liberties were unexpected is that those attitudes do not fit with the traditional image of conservative behavior. I tend to agree with you here, however.