Last week I presented at the 2016 Salt Lake Sunstone Symposium. The title of the presentation was “Faith and Doubt in Contemporary American Mormonism: A Quantitative Empirical Perspective.”

Here is the abstract as it appeared in the program: Much has recently been made about the intersection of faith and doubt in contemporary American Mormon culture. While discussion of this topic often relies on anecdotes and supposition, this presentation will contribute a different perspective by giving an overview of an empirical statistical analysis of the 2012 Pew “Mormons in America” survey. Specific topics will include: 1) what types of Mormons are more/less likely to express doubt?, 2) how do doubts affect other religious or social behavior among Mormons?, and 3) what role might political beliefs play in either driving or mediating doubt?

Last week Jana Reiss discussed some of the presentation on her blog. Other interesting findings include:

  • Mormon doubters are distinguished primarily by religious (not demographic) characteristics.
  • Mormon doubters are about as satisfied with their lives as wholehearted believers.
  • Mormon doubters are similar to wholehearted believers in many ways in their religious attitudes and behaviors but clearly different in others.
    • For example, a clear majority of Mormon doubters still believe the basic fundamental teachings of the LDS Church.
  • About 10% of “ideal” Mormons (active, temple-recommend holding, full tithe-paying, etc.) are doubters. (This is similar to other research on the subject.)

For interested parties who were not able to attend, the full presentation, including visuals and comments, can be downloaded in this PDF file: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD

Thanks to Lindsay Hansen Park and everyone for their efforts in organizing the symposium this year!

Benjamin Knoll was an active PermaBlogger at Rational Faiths from 2015-2020. At the time, he was a political science professor at a liberal arts college in central Kentucky. He's since changed careers and now works in the private sector, running business survey research projects. Born and raised a seventh-generation Mormon (on his mother's side), he is now an active Episcopalian who earned a Diploma in Anglican Studies from Bexley-Seabury Seminary in 2022. Indeed, we may say that he follows that admonition of Joseph Smith—that we should "embrace all, and every item of truth, without limitation or without being circumscribed or prohibited by the creeds or superstitious notions of men, or by the dominations of one another, when that truth is clearly demonstrated to our minds, and we have the highest degree of evidence of the same."

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