Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are a family-oriented people. They understand the value and importance of home and family life, and believe that families are forever. The valuable life lessons that are learned in a loving home, for example, help to prepare youth to more easily transition into the real world where they will be faced with day-to day challenges. It is also within the family that each member of the family learns to love others as Heavenly Father loves each of us.
Research Shows Mormons Have Larger Families
The 2014 U.S. Religious Landscape Study reported that Latter-day Saints marry more than those in any other American faith. According to the report, 66 percent of LDS adults are married as compared to 60 percent for Hindis, and 56 percent for Jews. The study also found that Mormons have the largest families.
The Pew Research Center interviewed more than 35,000 Americans allowing for a margin of error of plus or minus 0.6 percent. The new study revealed that for Mormons between the ages of 40 and 59, the average number of children born to them is 3.4. According to an article from Deseret News, “The idea behind looking at that age group is to capture what the researchers called “completed fertility.”” The average for LDS births was well above other groups such as historically Black Protestant churches where the average number of births is 2.5, and for Catholics and Evangelicals, the average is 2.3.
The study further revealed that the Christian population, in particular among the mainline Protestants and Catholics, in the U.S. has declined from 78.4 percent in 2007 to 70.6 percent in 2014. However, as the study showed, LDS Church members have held steady with 1.6 percent of the rising U.S. population in 2014, as compared to 1.7 percent in 2007. David Campbell, co-author of “American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us” commented, “It’s also striking, and you see this in other national studies, that the percentage of Mormons doesn’t really change, and that’s interesting.”
The Central Role of Marriage and Family in the Church
The findings of the report align with the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ as Latter-day Saints believe parents are co-creators with God, and that families are central to God’s plan. President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught, “The home is the center core of the LDS Church, and the most sacred relationships in the church are in the family.” During the 185th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held in April 2015, Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
God ordained that men and women should marry and give birth to children, thereby creating, in partnership with God, the physical bodies that are key to the test of mortality and essential to eternal glory with Him.
The percentage of Mormons who are married has decreased since 2007 when the percentage of those married was 71 percent, and the percentage of Mormons who have never married has increased from 12 percent in 2007 to 19 percent in 2014. However, the Mormons who were surveyed, stated that they are raising more children than members of any other religious groups. On the average, Mormon adults of all ages also reported that they lived with 1.1 children as parents or guardians.
Mormon Retention Rates Attributed to Family Life
Retention rates are also attributed to healthy family lives. The study showed that historically Black Protestant churches retain 70 percent of its childhood members, whereas Evangelicals retain 65 percent, and Mormons retain 64 percent. However, those who leave the Black Protestant churches or the Evangelical churches often become affiliated with another religion, whereas those who were raised in The Church of Jesus Christ, often do not become members of a different religion if they leave the Church.
Campbell, also the co-author of “Seeking the Promised Land: Mormons and American Politics,” commented that he expects to see the number of Mormons as a percentage of the U.S. population rise based on church growth data. He also noted that it might be a sign of a potential issue with convert retention, stating that, “It’s significant it’s not dropping, but it’s not growing anywhere near the extent that you might think.” In the footnotes of Elder Quentin L. Cook’s April 2015 General Conference address he notes, “Over the last 25 years, the actual number of members leaving the church has decreased and the church has almost doubled in size. The percentage leaving is greatly reduced.”
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints exists to help families to obtain eternal blessings, the greatest of which is the ability to one day return home to Heaven to live with Heavenly Father and their families.
About Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.