Gen Z Mormons attend church and youth activities, but many say they’ve been harmed by religion

How religious are Gen Z Mormons in the US? The results are mixed

By Jana Riess

(RNS) — A new study of Americans ages 13 to 25 shows teenage and young adult Latter-day Saints to be traditionally religious … and also not. And in that, they are similar to other Americans who still consider themselves religious but are in many ways disengaged from their faith traditions.

The State of Religion and Young People 2021: Navigating Uncertainty,” conducted throughout 2021 by the Springtide Research Institute, argues that “for a large and growing segment of young people, religiosity is increasingly decoupled from institutions, even as they express high levels of religious belief, practice, and identity.”

Over the course of the year, more than 10,000 young people were surveyed, including a total of 470 who self-identified as Latter-day Saints, or Mormons. Of that group, 134 also received an additional set of questions about their experiences and views.

As always when interpreting data about Mormons, keep in mind that when the sample size is small, the margin of error is high. For each finding discussed below, I’ll indicate the “n,” or sample size, for that particular question.

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Let’s start with the positive findings — what many stalwart members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would consider to be good news.

  1. Mormons reported the highest participation rate in what the study called “youth group” activities, at 43%.

This indicates that, even in a time when many young people are disengaging from organized religion, programs such as Young Men and Young Women, seminary and Institute are still a factor in the lives of many young Latter-day Saints.

When attending services and gatherings which do you attend? (Youth group?) (n = 396) 

Just Christian33%
Orthodox Christian32%
Roman Catholic28%
Unitarian Universalist25%
Nothing in particular14%
  1. These Mormons also report higher attendance at religious services than the national average.

Only 1 in 10 say they never attend, compared with more than 1 in 4 nationally. And more than a third (36%) of these Mormon young people say they go to church nearly every week or more often, compared with 23% in the sample as a whole.

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