Emma Yataco Humanities and Social Science
Exploring Belief: Conversion and Deconversion in the Mormon Church
This year, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church, announced a worldwide membership of more than 16 million followers and growing. Their proselytizing efforts can be seen by the thousands of young men and women between the ages of 18 and 25 that devote 1.5 to 2 years of missionary service all over the world. These missionary efforts provoke a change in belief in many people which leads them to renounce old religious or secular beliefs, along with some personal freedoms in exchange of promised exaltation. Those wishing to be baptized and become full-fledged members are required to declare they believe the Mormon Church is the only true church. However, many new converts also experience a process of deconversion, in which they either withdraw from church attendance and practice, or completely abandon Mormon beliefs. My research is aimed at exploring and identifying common factors (motivations, reasoning, circumstances) that lead people to adopt Mormon beliefs only to later abandon them.