Religion vs Education

Joseph Smith

Joseph Smith

There was one last piece of information from the recent Pew Study of the Mormon Faith that I wanted to share and then ask for some opinions, especially from members of the faith.

For just about every religious denomination the more education an adherent gains, the less belief in spiritual things he exhibits.  EXCEPT for Mormons.  For Latter-day Saints the REVERSE is true.  The more education a Mormon has the more committed he or she tends to be to his or her religious convictions.  Here is a quote from the study:

Looking at religion’s importance through the lens of education level, patterns among Mormons are the reverse of what is seen among the general population. For example, among the public, 60% of those with a high school education or less say religion is very important in their lives, compared with 50% among those with a college education. But among Mormons, the reverse is true: More college graduates (89%) than those with a high school education or less (76%) say religion is very important. It is important, however, to note that both groups among Mormons place a higher importance on religion than either group among the general public. A similar pattern emerges on belief in God, frequency of prayer and religious exclusivity. On each of these questions, Mormons with more formal education are more religiously committed, whereas in the general population the opposite is true. (emphasis is mine)

I posed a question a while ago, based on this study, that asked why Latter-day Saints are so politically conservative and I enjoyed the responses of the commenters.  However, I think that question was pretty easy to figure out.  My question this time, I think, is a little less obvious and I am really curious about the responses we will get.

Here is the question:

Why is it that Latter-day Saints become more committed as they gain education versus other faiths where the reverse is true?

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4 thoughts on “Religion vs Education

  1. Perhaps the commitment is already there and our religion simply encourages more education. The education does not diminish our spirituality; it is just another thing we do. Whereas in other religions, perhaps the religious commitment was not as strong initially and the time constraints of a higher education swallowed up the time for religious study. Thus, diminishing their commitment. I would be interested to see this study done in 2 parts. Religious commitment levels before and after gaining the education. Who knows, just a thought.

  2. One possible root to this trend is the fact that our religion encourages education. Our leaders often encourage us to get as much education as we can.

    We also have scripture verses that tell us to:

    “seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith;”

    and

    “Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection. And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.”

    That is at least part of it, but I don’t think it is the whole story.

  3. I think the fact that many of the committed youth of the church serve missions before attending college has something to do with this. Most college freshman and sophmores are still learning their religion and still deciding what they believe. The LDS people, as a whole, stress learning doctrine for yourself at younger ages. Take family home evening, seminary, institute, and mission experiences, they all provide oppurtunities of learning doctrine. Once having that particular outlook, I think we tend to react differently to the philsophies of man, and for the most part retain our belief in things spiritual.

  4. We also have a darn good higher education system of schools (BYU)– not every church has those schools and it dang cheap! more opportunity for more students

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