Click here for the full report.  Description below.

This survey represents the first in a series that will explore the beliefs and practices of current and former Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). We recognize that there are many different decisions and experiences in the lives of Mormons. Our initial area of exploration relates to reasons that Mormons question their belief in the Church or experience a “crisis of faith.”

Many believing Mormons never experience a faith crisis, and many Mormons who do experience a crisis of faith do not ultimately lose their faith in that process. Some Mormons who leave the Church, especially some converts, end up leaving because they were never fully integrated either socially or spiritually to begin with. In future surveys we hope to explore some of those responses in more detail. However, our goal with this survey, “Understanding Mormon Disbelief,” is to increase understanding of issues relating to Mormons who, having once held firm belief in the Church, subsequently lose that belief in part or whole. Mormons sometimes refer to this process of losing belief or experiencing a faith crisis as “losing one’s testimony.” While the phenomenon of losing faith is common across all religions, there are certain truth claims and cultural factors specific to Mormonism. This survey aims to shed light on some of these unique contributors, as well as to provide further insight on the level of disclosure and perceived costs associated with disbelief within the Mormon community.

Although it is unclear exactly how many Mormons lose faith each year, our observation is that the number appears to be growing in developed countries (e.g. the United States, Europe). We also observe that many of these members were at one point highly dedicated . Whether or not the total number of disbelievers has reached a significant level, we believe that the “worth of souls is great,” and that each individual matters. We believe that there are individuals in faith crises who are suffering unnecessarily because of a lack of understanding and empathy. We have seen the pain and struggle in the lives of many of our friends – not just those who have been through a crisis of faith, but their loved ones and the overall Church community as well. We hope this survey provides a balanced voice to some of their concerns and feelings. We also believe that many faithful, believing members of the Church may wish to better understand their fellow brothers and sisters who have struggled with or who are currently struggling with their faith. For those who wish to “mourn with those who mourn, and comfort those who stand in need of comfort,” we believe that an essential step is to understand the actual issues that are important to those who have doubts in the Church. Our goal is to create an awareness of these issues, and to facilitate the dialogue regarding how we can build compassion and understanding.

This survey has raised our awareness of the shortcomings of our own survey methodology; future surveys will address these shortcomings. Indeed, if we have learned one thing, it is that we still have much to learn. Nevertheless, we also feel that many of the insights from this survey will provide preliminary empirical evidence that can enable understanding of those struggling with faith in the Church. Some findings seem intuitive, while others may prove surprising.

Survey Results_Understanding Mormon Disbelief Mar2012


  1. Charles June 12, 2014 at 11:38 am - Reply

    Hm. It always seems like such a good idea to whack a bee hive with a stick, until you actually whack it.

  2. James June 12, 2014 at 10:21 pm - Reply

    This is very good data John!

    I was a church a while back ( I don’t go much ) and I heard an older lady give the prayer in sacrament meeting and was praying for all the families that were not coming out. I thought it looked somewhat thin, but this ward has a lot retired people and not a lot of younger people (not Utah, mountain west).
    I think families are stretched to the limit with the time they have and the poor economy. It seems the church keeps asking more out of people, but there is not much left to give.
    I’m single guy and I don’t know anyone’s name at church and I’ve thought about going to one of my friends churches that are of another denomination.
    Yes, a lot of historical and doctrinal stuff bothers me, but like most people I don’t have the time to research everything the way I would like, except for the BOM in a doctrinal way. I’ve always wanted to prove it right. It’s more like the Bible than most members would want to admit. Could JS have written it? Does the church have the original manuscript? If they do, could the make copies so more people could do research?

  3. Jeremiah June 13, 2014 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your efforts! Could you publish an appendix detailing the statistical tests you chose to perform? I realize this may not be of interest to most of the readers, so an appendix might be the best bet.

  4. Karen Watanabe October 21, 2021 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    I left the church when I left home because I didn’t want to believe that God was a racist. That was way back in 1974. I made a promise to myself that I would return for my mother’s sake if the church ever changed it’s position on blacks and the priesthood. I sure wish that all this information had been readily available way back then. I ended up returning the Mormonism to keep my promise to myself and volunteered to go on a mission to Japan. By the end of my mission I still wasn’t sure that the church was “the only true church” even thought I had been a diligent missionary. I think it is cruel that the church has hidden so much historical information from us. I was raised in Pennsylvania but we still went to church three times a week back then. Even to this day I see signs that my brain has been programmed and I am 64 years old. I often think that I have much to be grateful for in that my parents were alcoholics or drug addicts. But still I wish that I had a mind that wasn’t programmed. I have tried to keep the good, kind, loving moral teachings and forget the rest.

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