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“In fact, with a companion’s support, you can be more successful.” It’s a message that resonates with many Mormon college students.A recent poll by College Pulse of students currently attending four-year colleges and universities found that the most common response among students about the ideal age to be married was 28.Jennifer, a young mother and member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in northern Virginia, is honest about the challenges of being Mormon in America today. It’s not just the expectation that you will adhere to strict religious standards when it comes to dating and sex. In an era marked by unprecedented religious decline, Mormons appear to be holding their own. On a Saturday night, we might not be kicking back and watching a movie or bingeing Netflix; we’re planning our Sunday school lesson.” While the structure of the LDS Church, which relies on volunteer leadership at the local level, requires an active membership, there is an upside to the obligations of religious community. “My husband and I teach Sunday school to 14- and 15-year-old teenagers.One-quarter of Americans are religiously unaffiliated today, a roughly fourfold increase from a couple of decades earlier.As societal attitudes about sexual norms drift further from traditional religious norms, and the stigma of non-belief wanes, formative religious experiences are becoming even more important.
There’s no better illustration of this emphasis than family home evening.
Today, white evangelical Protestants account for 15 percent of the adult population, down from nearly one-quarter a decade earlier.
By contrast, Mormons have held steady at roughly 2 percent of the US population for the past several years.
Recent research has shown that when Americans are raised in households with parents of different religious backgrounds, they have weaker attachments to religion as adults and are more likely to disaffiliate.
Divorce, which can physically separate young people from their religious community and often creates greater emotional distance between children and parents, has also shown to hamper the transmission of religious values.
In 2005, the LDS Church leadership was actively encouraging college students to start families even before they graduated. Russell Ballard urged Brigham Young University students to not let educational goals lead them to postpone marriage.