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    • His parents call using FaceTime 3 or 4 times a week. They are either at school/work, or in bed when they call (They, too, are living in different cities for training. So all three of them are separated.) Grandson probably answers 1/2 the time. They do not know that he is choosing not to answer.

      When they call, inevitably the first question is “How are you?” and then “What did you do in school today?” Both non-starters for a six year old. I could probably spend 20 minutes answering both those questions if they asked me about him. They don’t. They are too tired or too overwhelmed (probably both) with the challenges in their own lives. Gifts they send do not appeal to the child—they don’t even know what he likes.

      I had forgotten how much *time* it takes to be a good parent. Being a good grandparent is very different. At this stage in life, being a good grandparent is totally where it’s at for me. Being a proxy-parent is rough, though I love this little guy to the moon and back.


      “Minority Mormons and Racial Attitudes”

      “Mormons’ views on race are complex...and the experiences and views of Mormons of color defy easy characterization.” Reiss shares a lot of oral histories in this chapter, but there are a few statistics that are also discussed.

      “Although Millennials are the most racially diverse of all Mormons, with two in ten being nonwhite, they are not as racially diverse as non-Mormons of their generation; among Millennials in the US population generally, more than four in ten are nonwhite.”

      “In many of their religious beliefs, Mormons of color are similar to white American Mormons, and sometimes more devout. Ninety-two percent say they are either very active or somewhat active in the LDS Church, compared to 85 percent of whites; they report equal rates of weekly prayer and slightly higher rates of daily scripture study.”

      “Nonwhite Mormons are more likely to have served a mission for the LDS Church: nearly six in ten have done so, while only four in ten white Mormons have. This is especially impressive considering that more than half of nonwhite Mormons (54.5 percent) are converts and presumably were not brought up with the goal of serving a Mormon mission.”

      “...nonwhite Mormons are considerably less likely to live in Utah; only 8 percent do, compared to nearly a third of white US Mormons.”

      Six full pages are devoted to a discussion about the priesthood ban that was in place until 1978. About the rescinding of that doctrine, Reiss says, “In Mormonism, such a clear and specific disavowal of earlier prophetic teachings is astonishingly rare, so the Church was clearly making an effort to reject white supremacism.”

      “two-thirds of white Mormons say blacks are responsible for their own condition if they are behind economically, and two-thirds of black Mormons indicate instead that it’s the result of racism.”

      “Overall, only about four in ten Mormons view racial diversification positively... This hold true for both Republicans and Democrats, for both men and women, and for all three generations... it even holds true for nonwhite Mormons, who are actually a bit less likely to view proliferating diversity optimistically... Despite Mormons’ general rejection of racial diversity as a positive trend, they do not demonstrate any unusual tendencies toward racism or discrimination in national surveys.”


      “Nearly six in ten Mormon respondents felt that ‘immigrants today strengthen our country because of their hard work and talents,’ while only four in ten indicated that ‘immigrants today are a burden on our country because they take our jobs, housing, and health care.’”

      And finally,

      “Many US Mormons, particularly ones who benefit from white privilege, often resist recognizing how much the LDS Church is tied to white American culture.”

    • Here in Silicon Valley I've attended 4 stakes, each with about 3,000 members. We have a fair representation of hispanics and Pacific Islanders and a handful of Native Americans. I remember a couple from India and a few Asians. I only remember one black in all my years here — a football player for the 49ers who graduated from BYU.


      “Rainbow Fault Lines: LGBT Inclusion”

      “Mormon views on homosexuality have undergone a rapid change just within the last decade... Overall, Mormons’ acceptance of homosexuality grew from 24 percent in 2007 to 36 percent in 2014 to 48 percent in 2016.”

      “In 1969, then-apostle Spencer W. Kimball published The Miracle of Forgiveness, which shaped LDS attitudes toward sexuality for years to come, especially after he became the president of the church in 1973.”

      “Kimball’s rhetoric established the pattern for future LDS discourse in four key ways: by referring to homosexuality as “unnatural,” by rejecting any attempts to normalize it under the law, by insisting that the church’s own stance would never change, and by omitting women from the discussion. (The possibility of lesbianism does not appear to have been on the author’s radar.)”

      Three major changes have occurred since the Kimball era. 1. Homosexual orientation and homosexual behavior have been separately defined—the church does not excommunicate for homosexual orientation, but condemns homosexual behavior. 2. In the late 1980s, LDS general authorities ceased recommending that homosexuals “cure” themselves by marrying someone of the opposite sex. 3. In the early twenty-first century the church began distancing itself from conversion therapy efforts that promise to “cure” individuals of their same-sex attraction. Such efforts had ranged from the violent (electric shock treatments) to the emotionally abusive.

      “In the 2010s, the LDS Church scaled back its involvement with the organization Evergreen, a ‘reparative therapy’ group that featured LDS general authorities on its board of trustees and as speakers at many of its conferences.”

      [The ultimate irony: The Executive Director of Evergreen, David Matheson, just announced he is gay]

      [Conversion therapy was the topic of a very controversial HB399, proposed during the Utah legislative session that ended just last week. Given the fact that the Utah legislature is 90% active Mormons, and the Church lobbyists took a neutral stand on the bill as proposed, and then as amended, it was a bit of a circus, including a sit-in outside the governor’s office and a letter of apology delivered by the lieutenant governor. The church-owned Deseret News reported on it.]

      More from this chapter to come...

    • (Responding to my dad here...)

      There was exactly one black family in our neighborhood and as far as I recall only one black student in my high school, so I’m not sure this was a church-specific thing.

    • That's a very good point. That black family (the Willinghams) moved out when Tyrone accepted the position of head football coach at Notre Dame. Blacks are rare in Silicon Valley and especially in tech companies.

      Here's the breakdown of your high school today:

    • ”Rainbow Fault Lines” cont.

      “Throughout the 1990s and into the early twenty-first century, the church engaged in costly political battles [against same-sex marriage]. In 1998, in Hawaii, Mormons contributed a majority of the $1.5 million raised by opponents of same-sex marriage, while that same year in Alaska... ‘The Mormon Church in Utah contributed $500,000 to the pro-amendment campaign - the vast majority of that side’s funding. By contrast, amendment opponents were able to raise only about $100,000.’”

      “In 2000, Mormons were also instrumental, along with Catholics and evangelicals, in passing traditional marriage measures in California (Proposition 22) and Nebraska.”

      In 2008 (after the California Supreme Court struck down Prop 22), Prop 8 “left nothing to chance, moving to amend the state’s constitution... Of the $40 million raised to support Proposition 8, an estimated 50 to 70 percent of the initiative’s funding came from Mormon donors, who made up only about 2 percent of the state’s population.”

      Riess recounts a lot of recent history and includes several personal interviews in this chapter. She also does a lot of cross-referencing of other studies. She has sections on “Living Beyond the Binary,” “LGBT Mormon Religiosity,” and “‘The Policy’ and Same-Sex Marriage”. (“The Policy” refers to the Nov 2015 announcement that any children of church members who are in a same-sex marriage are barred from being baptized or blessed.) Clearly, this chapter has required a great deal of her attention. I really can’t convey the gist of this chapter in spotty excerpts, as there is so much important information here. At the end of the chapter, though, she says this:

      “...among all Mormons, opinions about same-sex marriage had reached a tipping point between 2015 and 2016. In 2015, two-thirds of Mormons (66 percent) opposed same-sex marriage, and in 2016 barely half did (55 percent). This eleven-point erosion of opposition, and a corresponding eleven point spike in support (from 26 to 37 percent), occurred during the exact period in which the church’s official position against same-sex marriage was made abundantly clear through its November 2015 policy changes. Even as the church stiffened its posture, the rank and file softened theirs, contributing to a growing disconnect between the leadership and the membership.”

      [I just realized photos of tables like this are probably not legible since we can’t expand them in Cake yet... I’ll still attach them since we hope to see this change in the future.]

    • I just realized photos of tables like this are probably not legible since we can’t expand them in Cake yet...

      Android and desktop users can expand the table in their browser. From the iPhone Cake app, I can click the share icon for your post and then paste the link into a browser to expand the table.


    • That's pretty fascinating. I don't know what I expected but I agree with the word choice of strongly. I didn't see data like this in California but my take was it was polarizing. I have good, faithful Mormon friends who hold extremely strong views both ways. @slamdunk406 got me involved in a few of these debates on Facebook as even members of the same families engaged with each other in pretty heated ways.

      I am surprised to not see a bigger spread among generations. The impression I had was the spread was much larger.

    • ”The Policy” placed a line in the sand that has had a huge impact on the culture here in Utah. The polarization you may sense in CA is actually very evident here in Utah. Just after the announcement is when mainstream conversations about hordes leaving the church also began to surface.

      This is just conjecture, but perhaps the fact that Salt Lake City ranked #7 on the list of LGBT cities in the US in 2015, along with its Center of Mormonism status shows that there are a LOT of Mormon families who have LGBT family members? The Policy gave rise to a great deal of consternation among the residents here—nonmembers and members alike, and may have pushed some people into inactivity and disassociation.

      Maybe this is what @Chris is sensing:


      “Navigating Religious Practice for a New Generation”

      The NMS data showed that when it comes to daily prayer, Millennial Mormons are less religious (65 percent) than Boomer/Silent Mormons (76.5 percent). However, the numbers for weekly prayer are closer (80 percent to 88.5 percent).

      “38 percent of all Mormons read scriptures every day” with little variation between generations.

      “Millennials have the highest rates of literal belief in the scriptures of any generation: 45 percent agree that the ‘scriptures are the word of God and are to be taken word for word,’ almost a ten-point jump over the Boomer/Silent group.”

      “Millennial men edge out their elders as having been the most faithful home teachers of any generation, with 56 percent saying they went at least once a month. Millennial women say they did their visiting teaching at almost exactly the same rate as Boomer/Silent women.” (46% and 45% respectively)

      43% of Millennials who describe themselves as “very active” had not attended church in the last 30 days. (Boomers/Silents: 10%; GenX: 29%)

      “It seems fewer than half of American Mormons faithfully observe a literal prevailing interpretation of the Word of Wisdom.... about a third of current Mormons report consuming coffee (35%), while a quarter (25%) have drunk alcohol or nonherbal tea. Nearly 17 percent of Mormon respondents smoked or chewed tobacco. One in ten consumed marijuana. Just 3 percent of Mormons reported injesting psychedelics, while slightly more have used other illegal drugs such as cocaine or heroin (5 percent).”

      “...nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Mormon Millennials report having at least one tattoo. This is lower than the percentage of Millennials in the general population (38%), but higher than the rate the LDS Church would like to see, which is zero.”

      “About four in ten Millennials have seen an R-rated film or watched a mature television program in the last six months, and almost as many have played graphic video games or listened to songs with explicit lyrics.... Given the fact that GenXers’ consumption is the highest of any generation for mature television and nearly equal to Millennials’ for R-rated movies, we should be careful about assuming that Millennials will content themselves with a diet of Disney as they age; GenXers did not.”

      “Overall, the rates for viewing pornography (both “soft” and explicit) among all Mormons in the NMS increases from about one in twenty in the older generations to just under one in five among Millennials.... Even though pornography exposure among Mormon Millennials is significantly higher than it is for their grandparents, this is still low compared to their non-Mormon peers.”

      “Respondents were asked which of the following options best described their charitable donations to the LDS Church: regularly giving 10% of their before-tax income; regularly giving 10% of their after-tax income; giving less of their after-tax income; rarely giving money; or never giving at all. If we combine the first two categories together, more than two-thirds of Mormons declared themselves to be full tithe-payers.”


      “Social and Political Views among Current and Former Mormons”

      Way too much data in this chapter to regurgitate here, so here are just some highlights:

      “Mormons’ marriage to the Republican Party has been going strong for seventy years, sealed by the rise of Ezra Taft Benson as President Eisenhower’s secretary of agriculture in the 1950s.”

      “While the church maintains a policy of not endorsing candidates, and therefore officially stays out of politics...for the most part, the church’s positions on social issues such as abortion and homosexuality have stood in line with the GOP’s positions. Research shows that Mormons tend to follow political instructions from the church when its leaders appear unified in their opinions.”

      “According to the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, 52 percent of Mormons nationally voted for Trump—significantly less than the 82 percent that voted for Mitt Romney in 2012 and the 72 percent who supported John McCain in 2008.”

      “6 percent of LDS Millennials (including both genders) have served in the armed forces, and the rate climbs as the generations rise in age: 10 percent for GenX and 20 percent for Boomers/Silents. the general population, just 3 percent of Millennial men have served in the military.”

      Riess then includes information on 1. rankings of the top issues facing America; 2. the morality of abortion, affairs, and having babies outside of marriage; 3. in-vitro fertilization; 4. vasectomies; 5. homosexuality as a moral question; and 6. how former Mormons see some of these issues differently.


      “Exodus: Millennial Former Mormons”

      Riess identifies several “broad demographic characteristics” that are common among former Mormons (these do not have anything to do with what causes people to leave the church):


      parents were divorced

      less likely to be Republican

      less educated


      disaffected in late teens or early twenties (nineteen is the median age)

      (Race and location seem to be completely insignificant.)


      A substantial number of former Mormons still believe in God (86 percent), but only 20% still believe in most or all of the church’s teachings. “Many former Mormons have a spiritual life, but it typically takes place outside of the LDS Church.”

      “When asked to make a binary choice about which better described their feelings after leaving Mormonism, ‘freedom, possibility, and relief’ or ‘loss, anger, or grief,’ 93 percent of former Mormons chose ‘freedom, possibility, and relief.’”

      “People’s reasons for leaving Mormonism are generally varied and complex.” “...there is a prevailing narrative within certain segments of the LDS church that when people leave, they do so because they ‘got offended.’” Riess then cites several cases that could be construed as “got offended” but are actually much more like “got mistreated.” “Got offended” may just be a euphemism.

      “Because Mormonism is such a high-sacrifice religion, leaving its orbit can be shattering. Everything changes when a formerly orthodox Mormon leaves, from diet and clothing to decisions about how much money to donate to charity and which charities to choose. Then there are relational matters, like how to communicate with family members when you no longer have the LDS Church as your shared frame of reference—or whether those relationships will survive at all.”

      “With the passage of months and years, former Mormons seem less and less interested in rejoining the fold... and are amazed by the free time they have now by comparison.”

      Riess ends the book with a two-and-a-half page conclusion, the gist of which is, “...leaders should worry that the church will become an echo chamber of its own making....the LDS Church has accommodated change before, and it can do so again. The issue is whether it will choose to.”

    • Thank for sharing, Annie. That's exactly the way to view it. We don't believe our prophets are perfect men. At least we shouldn't. We just have to accept that God has called them for our specific time.

      As far as the diversity of the church is concerned, I do feel the church is overall heading in the right direction. These LGBTQ-Mormon alliance firesides I attend for example wouldn't have existed 20 years ago. That kind of progress is happening and it's making a difference, even if it's not happening as quickly as some would like.

    • Yeah, @Chris and I both had a really intersting discussion on Facebook about the LGBTQ policy and the church's relationship as a whole with LGBTQ members. I posted support for LGBTQ members who felt offended by a Dallin H. Oaks talk. I didn't say anything negative about Oaks or the church. Just offered my support to those who felt offended. Little did I know that would open the flood gates to such a passionate discussion. Or maybe I did and I was looking to stir the pot, lol.

      Anyways, I do think that what matters most is that we listen to each other's concerns and make people feel like their feelings and opinions matter even if they differ from ours. As for the church's policy towards LGBTQ famlies, I didn't see much good come from it. It just seemed to drive a further wedge between the church and that community. I should add, I'm saying that as one who sustains the leadership of the church. It's a tricky line to walk as an active member, but I feel it can be done.

    • Hmm. I’m a little confused by the Word of Wisdom data shared here. “Faithfully observe” seems to be equated with “perfectly observe.” It seems the questions were along the lines of “have you ever,” which is very different than “do you currently.”

      A tattoo is a (nearly) permanent reminder of a past decision but mostly we try to be forward thinking people and believe the direction you’re going now is much more important than the wrong turns you may have taken in the past. Perhaps I’m misunderstanding this section but I know plenty of people who faithfully try to observe the word of wisdom but have in the past tried several of the substances mentioned. I don’t think those two are mutually exclusive

    • Re: Word of Wisdom: the footnote says “the NMS question asked about consumption in the last six months.” Riess also points to an article she co-wrote that may have more details for you, “The Word of Wisdom in Contemporary American Mormonism: Perceptions and Practice,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 51, no. 1 (Spring 2018): 39-78.

      Re: tattoos. I have never heard that the church frowns upon tattoos because they make people dwell in the past. I thought the objection was about defacing the body (temple) God bestows upon each person. But I have been away from the church for more than a decade, so maybe new arguments have been made against tattoos since I was active...

    • “Although Millennials are the most racially diverse of all Mormons, with two in ten being nonwhite, they are not as racially diverse as non-Mormons of their generation; among Millennials in the US population generally, more than four in ten are nonwhite.”

      I was going to ask whether all survey respondents lived in the USA. I found the answer, "yes", at this link: (search for Geography).

      Of all survey respondents:
      - 27% lived in Utah.
      - 73% lived in the USA outside Utah

      Adding up numbers from that link 60% of respondents lived in the western USA.

      Now it's making sense why the issues and viewpoints brought up seem very western-USA to me.

      This is quite limiting as a broad commentary on the church because for over 20 years the church has reported more members outside the USA than inside. And that margin continues to increase. The better question is: How are they (the people in the highest growth areas) going to change the church (once they get leadership positions ... a challenge but an obvious eventuality)?

      This survey/book should be digested with an understanding of that context. It ignores the views of global members and former members (where the church is growing most). It's primarily focused on people in the western USA.

    • Oh that footnote is helpful, thanks!

      I apologize for the confusing comment about tattoos. What I meant is that belief in church teachings doesn’t mean that a person has always perfectly followed them. A tattoo can be a very visible example of this, or it can simply indicate a past that didn’t include activity/belief in the church.

    • Yes, that's quite a fascinating chart and seems to explain most of what I'm seeing. A significant number of my friends and family are former Mormons, and a significant portion are active, happy, believing Mormons.

      I don't know as much about Catholics or Jews, but the impression I get is many of them describe themselves as occasional, whereas Mormons tend to be one or the other — either in or out.

      I'm very lucky here in my section of California to have a congregation that is super welcoming to me whenever I go back for a special service, which I love, and also to feel accepted by former Mormons.

    • I don't know as much about Catholics or Jews, but the impression I get is many of them describe themselves as occasional, whereas Mormons tend to be one or the other — either in or out.

      I can only speak to my personal experience as an ex-Catholic. I think Catholicism was best described by former NYC Mayor Ed Koch when he referred to it as “a cafeteria plan religion.” We’d see some families in church twice a year at Christmas and Easter. There were people who went to weekday mass every evening. There were Sunday mass regulars who practice pre-marital sex, use condoms and believe homosexuality is not a mortal sin.

      Growing up in that wide range of believers in the Church, it was a bit of a shock when I went to college and experienced the black and white orthodoxy of other religions during interfaith bible studies.

      I think it’s easier to stay in the Catholic Church because of that prevalence of people who don’t follow all of the Vatican’s edicts but still consider themselves Catholics.

      I believe outside the US, there are countries where Catholics are predominantly more devout. It opens up the question of whether an American would ever become pope. It’s only been 40 years since the first non-Italian Pope was elected.

      I suspect the exodus of Catholics after the priest scandals has caused a concentration of the more devout. But its been over a decade since I left for good, so I lack intel on what a typical congregation is like today.

    • This is such a relief to me. I’ve been sick about this policy since it was discovered.

      I think @lidja posted stats to the effect that half of active church members supported the policy but few ex members did. I feel that it drove a wedge between former and current members, so hopefully now we can move on with less of that tension.

    • This is big news here in SLC. In fact NPR interviewed a local reporter about it on the national broadcast this afternoon. He said the initial reaction among local members is relief just as you have described. Others are even more angry, though, as it appears the leaders are citing modern revelation as the reason for the change in policy, and have declined to apologize or to acknowledge that a mistake was made.

      The change in policy means that children will be permitted to be baptized, but the church still regards homosexual unions (sexual relationships) as apostate and sinful, even though the church will not label homosexuals per se with those terms.

    • I just wanted to keep the children out of it. It seems like almost no matter which side you’re on about same-sex marriage, not punishing children who had nothing to do with it is a good thing.