Ask An Expert: Are converts to the LDS Church getting older?

Q: Are new converts to the LDS Church in the U.S. today, as a class, older than they were in preceding years? Is there any trend data by age groups available? In American Grace, Putnam and Campbell found that young Americans tend to be more tolerant and moderate in their social views than older Americans. The young are more likely to reject the culture, if not the doctrine, of a rigidly conservative religious – political culture. “A growing number of Americans, especially young people, have come to disavow religion. For many, their aversion to religion is rooted in unease with the association between religion and conservative politics,” they wrote. I’m trying to find out if the same phenomenon reported by Putnam and Campbell is impacting the LDS Church.

A: First, thank you for the question.

Second, this is the first time the “experts” have been stumped.  Based on the responses received, there are no data available to answer this question.  It’s possible that the Church Research Information Division of the LDS Church has some data on this question, but even our contacts inside the Church Research Information Division said they had not looked into this question.

The datasets that exist – primarily US based – that include a fair number of Mormons do not include enough converts to Mormonism over a long enough period of time such that an answer to this question can be derived.

The experts universally agreed that this is an interesting question, but that there are no data to answer it.

“A Place in This Church”: An Interview with Richard Lyman Bushman

Larry Alan Brown, a writer living in Alpine, Utah, conducted this interview with Richard Bushman on August 1, 2012, at his summer home in Provo, Utah. Dr. Bushman is the Gouverneur Morris Professor of History emeritus at Columbia University, a renowned scholar of American and Mormon history and author of the critically acclaimed Joseph Smith: Rough Stone Rolling, for which he received the Evans Biography Award.  A practicing member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he and his wife Claudia live in New York City.

Read the entire transcript of the interview here.