Beliefs Culture Jana Riess: Flunking Sainthood Opinion

The Next Mormons: Who are the Millennials, and what do they want?

Link to Kickstarter page:


Have you ever wondered how young adult Mormons differ from their parents and grandparents in attitudes, beliefs, and practices?

I have. I’ve written before about suggestive research done by Pew, Barna, and others that shows some major differences between Millennials in America (18-35) and other age groups. Overall:

This is all useful information. But so far, we haven’t had a survey that can connect the dots between this generation as a whole and this generation of Mormons, finding out what they want, who they are, and what they do and don’t like about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Today I launched a Kickstarter campaign to support such a major survey of Mormon life. With the help of political scientist Benjamin Knoll at Centre College and feedback from many prominent sociologists of religion, we’ve crafted questions that assess Mormon religious beliefs and behaviors across a wide spectrum.

How do Millennials keep the Word of Wisdom compared to older Mormons? How do they feel about church meetings? If they’re active in the Church, what keeps them coming? If they’re not active, what reasons do they give? How do Mormons in various generations feel about politics? About social issues?

What percentage of each generation has been married or is currently married? Are Mormon Millennials, like other Millennials, more likely to delay marriage and live at home with their parents in multi-generational households? If they do marry and have children, is the gap between marriage and the birth of a first child wider than it has been for previous generations of Mormons? (We hypothesize it is.) Is it as wide a gap as it is for their Millennial peers? (We doubt it, but we could be wrong . . . which is why we need hard data.)

This survey is designed to help us listen — to young adults and also to older ones; to Mormons who are perfectly happy with the Church and their role in it to Mormons who would be happier with some changes.

Since Mormons are only 1.6% of the U.S. population, they’re a difficult and therefore expensive group to reach in a representative sample.

This is where you come in. Frankly, I’ve been blown away in six years of blogging by my readers: you’re passionate, committed, and curious. I hope you’ll be passionate and curious enough about these questions to make a donation. You’ll receive not only my deep gratitude but also various goodies that are laid out on the Kickstarter page.

So I hope you’ll get involved with this project — and, what’s more, share it with interested family members and friends. If you have any questions about the survey (or the book that will come out of it), post them here or on the Kickstarter page. With your help we can get some useful insights into the next generation of Mormons.

About the author

Jana Riess

Senior columnist Jana Riess is the author of many books, including "The Prayer Wheel" (Random House/Convergent, 2018) and "The Next Mormons: How Millennials Are Changing the LDS Church" (Oxford University Press, 2019). She has a PhD in American religious history from Columbia University.


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  • This looks great, but are there at least sample questions? I would hate to help this project get off the ground only to find that the questions are worded in such a way that is either biased or confusing.

  • My family are Mormons, but as members of the Church of Jesus Christ in Christian Fellowship, we don’t worry about the same things as our brothers and sisters in the LDS branch. In the Fellowship women are ordained to offices of the sisterhood of the priesthood, just as in Joseph Smith’s day. We welcome homosexuals with open arms, and I know of at least on happily married gay couple in the Fellowship. The only problem we seem to face is our small numbers. Because we are only about 59-60 families world wide and spread out we do home worship. But it’s nice to Fellowship with the other Mormon branches. Just last Sunday we worshiped with the Community of Christ. We chose to attend there as they too allow homosexuals to join, women hold the priesthood, etc. The issues LDS millennials face appears to be an LDS problem, not a Mormon one. The FLDS shares the same views on these issues, but of the 100 Mormon churches out there, these millennials seem to this it’s all or nothing, God and the LDS branch or nothing. This is a shame, as Christ has made a home for everyone, and the LDS branch of our faith isn’t for everyone. And, that’s okay.

  • Yes, we will be releasing a few of the sample questions on the Kickstarter page in the coming days. Thanks for your interest!

  • It would be important to find out whether any are dating people who are not Mormons, or room with people who are not Mormon, or attend non-Mormon religious services such as baptisms, funerals, weddings, etc.And if they socialize with ex-Mormons.

  • Did the study control for those who are converts vs born in the church? What were the results when you consider those two factors.

  • I am 25 years old born 1991 September and raised agnostic opened Bible at 21 and convert of four years Mormon however belief in heavenly mother (sry I say it that way but not sorry bc I mean. Same as h father or god) since spirit got me at 21. I have no problem helping you with this. I go to my YSA ward however I’m an unorthodox mormon