There was recently a long analysis of various statistics on those who have seperated from membership with the LDS Church. Rather than rehash much of it, I’m going to note three interesting things that surfaced.
- Conservatives were more likely to leave than liberals.
- Outside of Utah, Professionals were less likely to leave than other groups.
- A co-factor for most who left was some degree of social isolation.
The first factor was surprising. I constantly read in the bloggernacle about liberals leaving. It just turns out that liberals are more likely to blog about the process. As a corollary, on social media liberals also seem more likely to suggest that conservatives should be booted out the door and that conservatives want liberals booted out the door.
Many conservatives remain conservatives when leaving, others become moderates.
Many conservatives who leave feel or felt isolated when part of the Church. Many liberals feel isolated when part of the Church. Isolation seems to be a universal feeling regardless of political outlook.
As to who leaves, and that it doesn’t change on geography, I’ve noted that outside of Utah I’ve observed a number of professionals who left the Church and whose careers have taken off and a number of professionals who did not and who have had negative inputs on their careers as a result. That doesn’t seem to impact who leaves, regardless of the incentives.
Finally, the lack or a loss of “the fellowship of the saints” (as it used to be called), the fraying or disintegration of the social network connections that richly affect and enrich the lives of the upper church leaders but not others in the Church, seems very significant.
The existence or not of those connections is very important in how people deal with a number of things. I refer to the lack of belonging or being a party of the fellowship of the saints as a co-factor, but the constantly reduced society of the gospel appears to be having a significant impact on retention. Every road show cancelled, every shortened meeting schedule, reduces the social interaction and cohesiveness of the gospel.
The social, the community, appears to be important, not only as to the Church as it is recorded in the New Testament, but for us today.
(On the general topic, two good links from LDS.org on that topic are here [note D&C 88:133] and here [” Limiting or withholding our fellowship seems to me to be contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”])
It seems that the third factor really comes down to the existence or lack of fellowship and friendship — one of the three meanings of priesthood that John Taylor emphasized. To quote a more modern speaker about how that speaker learned about the core of the gospel:
It seems that if we are missing friendship, fellowship, and communion with each other, we are missing a vital factor. A factor that should draw us together whether we are liberals or conservatives, regardless of our professional or educational attainments.
And a factor that reflects if we are following Christ in our love and our walk or not.
What do you think?