Trends in education and faith vary across traditions
As people become more educated, they tend to reject literal interpretations of their faith. But this trend does not hold true for Mormons, according to David Campbell, professor of political science at Notre Dame University. Why this anomaly exists is not entirely clear, although some explanations are worth considering.
Mormonism is a "high demand" tradition in the sense it requires followers' time and energy, said Matthew Bowman, professor of religion at Hampden Sydney College. Campbell agrees. The devotion of Mormons to their faith may hinge on its "participatory nature," he said. "Mormons rely on laity to run their churches."
"Educated people are more likely to have the background and administrative skills required to lead," he continued, suggesting that the nature of their church leadership may also give them unique opportunities to reflect on their beliefs. And being involved in the church organizational structure may reduce disaffection among members.
Another explanation is that Mormonism is defined by specific beliefs. "The beliefs we hold define us as Mormons in ways that are not true for other faiths," said Campbell. Mormons place "more emphasis on affirming their religious beliefs in public ways." When a tradition hinges on the assumption that the tenets of faith are true, this may motivate educated followers to find ways to come up with rational explanations for their beliefs, he reasoned.
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